Nathaniel Russell: The Opposite of Lost

I found Nathanial Russell’s fliers and fake books, clicked around his site and fell in love with his whole aesthetic and ethic, simple drawings, full of ideas, empathetic innocence, absurdity, DIY analog spirit, humor and wit. And he plays guitar and makes lofi accousticy songs! My kind of guy.

Nathaniel Russell art

 

Spring Break in Paris With Maile

The music just below is one one of the recordings I made in Paris, this one of an accordion player on a pedestrian bridge. Hit play now so that the sounds of Paris will accompany you. OK. Can you hear the melancholy French jazz?

accordian player on the Ponte Nuef
accordion player on the Ponte Nuef playing a melancholy Autumn Leaves

Maile and I originally planned to travel to Paris together for our 10th wedding anniversary. Two and a half years later we made it, by ourselves, for a full week. We rented a wonderful loft appartment on AirBnb in the Marais, from which we sauntered out an back every day.

I took about 1600 photos with my little Canon G7X and got it down to about 250 favorites shots that I’ve posted as an album on Flickr. See the slideshow at the end of this post. I’ll try to whittle it way down here and tell the story of our trip primarily in pictures and captions.

We arrived on Saturday morning and took the train into the city.
We arrived on Saturday morning and took the train into the city (with Charles Beaver, Anais’s envoy).
Walking from the Metro to find our place we stopped at Le Petite Marcel for lunch.
Walking from the Metro to find our apartment we stopped at Le Petite Marcel for lunch.
The beautiful blue door to the building where we stayed.
the beautiful blue door to the building where we stayed
the reflection of our front building in the shiny black van opposite
the reflection of our front building in the shiny black van opposite
The beautiful classic bicycle that was always locked outside our door
The beautiful classic bicycle that was always locked outside our door

The Pompidou

We stayed two blocks from the Pompidou, passing it every day, eating across from it. Here are a few of the outside and then a few of my favorite works inside.

Pompidou plaza
Pompidou plaza
seven people sitting in front of the Pompidou
seven people sitting in front of the Pompidou
We stayed a few blocks from the Pompidou, a wonderful modern art gallery
my reflection in the window of the line and houses opposite
Man Ray's room of art and beautiful objects
Man Ray’s room of art and beautiful objects
shiny spinning metal shape with divets in a black and white lined box
shiny spinning metal shape with divets in a black and white lined box
Giacometti people
Giacometti people

I particularly liked the Gerard Fromanger exhibit, his use of monochrome figures and infographics.

painting by Gérard Fromanger
painting by Gérard Fromanger
painting by Gérard Fromanger
painting by Gérard Fromanger
Paris skyline
view from the top of the Pompidou; see the Eifell Tower shining it’s spotlight in the distance
we caught these break dancers entertaining the crowd in front of Hôtel de Ville
break dancers entertaining a crowd in front of Hôtel de Ville
break dancer balancing on one hand
break dancer balancing on one hand
Reflection on the front of a bus
reflection on the front of a bus
woman in red hat waiting, man in black coat turning away
waiting for the light to change on a bridge over the Seine
the view through the menu
the view through the menu
Paris swing band on the bridge over the Seine
Paris swing on a bridge over the Seine
colorful juice window
colorful juice window
reflection in car top
reflection in car top
reflection in bus window w driver
reflection in bus window w driver smoking
Maile on the Ponte Nuef overlooking the Siene
Maile on the Ponte Nuef overlooking the Siene
ladies at a cafe
ladies at a cafe
people sitting on the steps leading down to the Seine
people sitting on the steps leading down to the Seine
man running with child
man running with child. one of my favorite moments to capturing, participating in that pure joy.
men in front of a flower shop
men in front of a flower shop
pedicabbies looking left as the man in black walks right
pedicabbies looking left as the man in black walks right
mannequin with reflection of tower and tree
mannequin with reflection of tower and tree
I lived off these lovely fresh baguette sandwiches
I loved lunching on these fresh baguette sandwiches
a perfectly pruned park
a perfectly pruned park
the Mona Lisa hype machine
the Mona Lisa hype machine (I found it hard to appreciate the Louvre)

Street Art

There was so much great street art everywhere, from centuries old sculpture to  to stickers, art sellers and graffiti, chalk artists and street musicians. Hardly a block went by that I didn’t notice a gorgeous door. I was always stopping to snap something and then running to catch up with Maile.

statues throughout the city had been secretly blindfolded in scarlet
statues throughout the city had been secretly blindfolded in scarlet (an art stunt meant to draw attention to the ubiquitous – and easily overlooked – statuary)
chalk drawing on wall
i love this chalk drawing, a face made out of squares, making eyes out of cracks in the wall
vandals with a nice sense of color
wonderful street art everywhere. vandals with a nice sense of color
HUMANITY shakes hands with POWER
HUMANITY shakes hands with POWER
poster of baseball cap
Trust The Classics
turquoise pattern with clothing cutouts
turquoise pattern with clothing cutouts
a cup of shit (by Space Invader, I think)
a cup of shit (by Space Invader, I think

Now listen to the slow funky Flamenco sounds of a guitarist echoing in the Subway.

guitarist in the subway
guitarist in the subway

Musée d’Orsay

Musée d’Orsay was a pure delight and inspiration. So many beautiful works of art that I’d never seen, and in a beautifully converted old converted train station.

painting from the Orsay, Paris

painting in the Orsay

painting at Musee D'Orsay

sculpture at the Orsay

reflections at the Orsay
reflections at the Orsay

Picasso Museum

a window upon rooftops
a window upon rooftops, the distortions of the hand-blown glass making a painting

stone sculpture head

viewer of a Picasso painting

black paintings w names/numbers

Picasso sculpture

Picasso drawing

Picasso painting

And there are so many more I’d like to include. Here is a slideshow of all my favorites:

A Few Favorite Santa Fe Artists

Tim Althauser Painting

Tim Althauser

I’ve been looking for nature motifs for music poster ideas recently, particularly photos of the sky through the trees. In Santa Fe I shot dozens of what I call looking up at trees. So you can imagine how excited I was when I found Tim Althauser’s paintings of looking up at trees at the William and Joseph Gallery.

Apparently he is in his 70s, has suffered a stoke and applies painstaking detail despite a limited range of movement. I love these.

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Mark Horst

When I saw Mark Horst’s style, it reminded me of what I like about Mark Tansey and the fellow whose painting – Chesapeake Birdwatchers – hangs in our room. Figures in the foreground, abstract, minimal background.

From talking with the gallery owner I learned he is a divinity and fine arts grad from Yale who went the art route. Apparently, he changes up his style for each series. This one is from a trip to Injambakkam, India. It looks like he works from photographs.

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 Various Artists

Here are a few other artist’s work I liked, snapped a pic of around town.

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I Am From

A friend from high-school posted a poem by her 9-yr-old daughter Vivian on Facebook last week. I printed it and brought it home to read to the family and nearly teared-up each time I read it, I thought it was so beautifully done. What a wonderful portrait of childhood. Very Whitmanian, if you ask me.

I Am From
By Vivian Stang

I am from the dog that barks at night
and the cats that roam around my street.

I am from Cape Cod and the warm blue sea.
I am from hamburgers and their wonderful, juicy taste.

I am from the Sarabinh and
Charlie branch and their love for me.
I am from my grandma’s brownies and sponge cake.

I am from my sister’s tight hug
and warm happy smile.
I am from my cat meowing when she wants food.

I am from soccer, kicking the ball through the field
and passing it to my teammates.

I am from running with my friends in the park
and sitting while our ice cream
drips onto the ground.

I am from my cozy bed
and playing with my sister on Saturday mornings.
I am from my mom reading stories to me in bed.

I am from sitting on the couch and quietly reading.
I am from chatting at the dinner table with
my family.

I am from joking around with my with my friends
and getting out of bed to give my parents
hugs every morning.

I am from gulping down my mom’s chocolate cake
and cleaning my room, while listening to music.

I am from riding on the back of a horse,
feeling the wind brush against my face.
I am from making sandcastles at the beach.

I am from laughing with my friends
and reading to my little sister.
I am from playing UNO with my grandparents and
listening to my grandma play piano.

I am from biking with my mom,
while watching the endless bike trail.

I am from the things that make me, me.


Here’s my first attempt at my I Am From poem:

I Am From
by Jason Molin

I am from my first little record player, singing along, “We sail the ocean blue and our saucy ship’s a beauty!”

I am from the alley behind the house, kickball, or a soccer ball against the wall, or setting up ramps and riding off them over and over again, jumping trashcans with Matt.

I am from walking to school, skateboarding, bussing or riding my bike back and forth along Connecticut Ave. or Reno Rd. I am from forgetting my books and having to go back to school. I am from getting a ride home with Mark or Saul or Mrs. Brady.

I am from crazy beautiful flawed teachers, Mr. Emerson, Stick Sturtevant, Mr. King, my ceramics teacher, what was his name? What would I be without their passion and patience? I am from Manfred and Gurland, my philosophical fathers.

I am from my mother’s beautiful house, the oriental rugs, the walls full of art and shelves full of books. I am from Al’s meals, dinners in the kitchen, with guests in the dining room around a turkey, well-spiced sautéed vegetables, an interesting soup, pecan pies, occasionally meringues. I am from long conversations afterward, talking around the fire until we’re tired.

I am from singing at church, from the trumpet what was my father’s, from high-school musicals, from the acoustic guitar I used to sing my soul over and over and never stopped. I am from jamming and singing whenever and wherever and those who join in.

I am from The Song of Myself and The War of Art, I am from If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out and Love Rescue Me. I am from Across the Universe and One Love.

I am from Maile’s animals, her loving name for everything. I am from Anais’s art, each dance, song, drawing, story, and scene.

I am from walking or biking the streets of DC, NY, Dublin, and Austin, lost in thought, noticing reflections, singing to myself, snapping pics or jotting down ideas, rethinking the strategy, making resolutions, noticing signs and designs, catching people’s eyes.

I am from the rhythm of words, birdsong, dancing and hugging and kissing in the sun. I am from staying up late, disappearing through the smoke rings of my mind. I am Sylvester as the stone, waking early and meditating on a world with and beyond me.

LOVE by John Lennon (For Gray and Lauren)

Gray and Lauren got married a few weeks ago, so I worked up this old favorite to perform at the wedding. How much more simple, beautiful and true can a song get?!

Love is real, real is love
Love is feeling, feeling love
Love is wanting to be loved

Love is touch, touch is love
Love is reaching, reaching love
Love is asking to be loved

Love is you, you and me
Love is knowing we can be

Love is free, free is love
Love is living, living love
Love is needing to be loved

1953 Colombia Sports III

I’m a bicycle nut. So when I picked up a sweet old vintage bike at a yard sale this weekend for $40 I had the double-delight of finding a precious ol’ pedal for a pittance. I love classic old 3-speeds like this. And it didn’t take much to get it going. Pumped up the tires and made a few adjustments, added a bell and a front basket for my commute.

Today I found a site that dates it at 1953! This thing is in great shape for 60 years old, hardly any rust, the parts in good working order.  I rode it home from work today feeling smooth and stylish.

Cool touches: The fenders are like pinstriped fins on a 50’s car with a silver hood-ornament at front. Arrows down the forks. The white on black motif with solid black chainring and guard with white  stars punctuating the italicized bike name.

So I’ve got another great commuter… and I am supposed to be getting rid of bikes!

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WTF

I have become a compulsive WTF listener. WTF is Marc Maron’s podcast. He started it in his late forties, does it primarily from his L.A. garage twice a week, and just passed his 500th episode a few weeks ago at 50. The format is a 10-15 min intro of his obsessive schtick (with commercials that he does for his shows, partners and sponsors woven in), a 60-90 min interview, usually with a comedian, musician, or actor, and a few final closing minutes of wrap-up and plugs.

marc-large-photo

I talk about WTF with most of my close friends now – Doug, Maile, Earl, Sam, Gray – because we’re all big fans inspired by its insight. And I’ve started recommending it to people regularly now, so I thought I should document its influence with an explanation. Here are things I love about it:

  • he started it himself and still does it largely himself, without needing anyone in the industry’s approval, no middlemen, he is in complete creative and strategic control
  • he started it relatively late in life, as a way to make things happen when they weren’t, and now gets millions of downloads a month
  • having struggled 25 years in stand-up, he can talk shop and the history of the scene with the best comedians, but also with musicians and actors because of their commonalities and love for those cultures
  • he’s a refreshing antidote to uptight interviewers like Terri Gross and is so unpretentiously authentic that even my old favorites like Ira Glass and Jad Abumrad come off as snobby hipsters in comparison
  • his Woody-Alleneque obsessive insecurities combined with his David-Lettermanish self-deprecation and humility make him a genuinely interested and compelling interviewer who consistently gets people to open up and engage on a deep level
  • he uses his own resilience and slow rise to fame to get his guests to map out exactly how they made it, fucked up, and learned from it
  • he uses his own drug and alcohol experiences as well as his 14 years of sobriety to relate with his guests, talk addictions, recovery and both laugh at and address demons and self-destruction
  • he is a guitar player with a rich history of music love, favorites artists and opinions about music history which he frequently uses to connect with guests, especially the musicians with whom he is a true fan not just a critic

I did not like Marc Maron the first time I listened to WTF, and skipped over the intro segment several times till I grew to know him from the interviews. But I soon came to appreciate the seamlessness of his evolving personal stories and even how he weaves in into his plugs and ads.

After discovering recently that there are a bunch of pirated episodes on YouTube, I’ve been putting them on while I work. Here’s a perfect example of a great WTF interview, with his old friend Louie CK. (For access to his archive pay $9yr for premium access via his site or app.)

This interview has a lot of the stuff that you will not find anywhere else.

  • A long shared history with the guest and the scene
  • The reconciliation of a friendship scarred with Marc’s bitter jealousy and the patient sense of humor with which he can discuss the past, admit his faults, and come to some resolution (or live with the ambiguity of the friendship). Many of his episodes end with his asking of the guest, “We good?”
  • His genuine expression of love and admiration and modeling of how two men can wade through a lot of pride and hurt by unpacking the past and seeing it from the other side

Ultimately WTF is a success story about how to make it as an artist, how Marc is making it, and how each of his guests made it. Instead of the usual emphasis on the breaks and the milestones, Marc maps out all the stuff artists like me need to hang in there, get out of our own way, and do our own thing.

No other interviewer  brings or brings out so much of the mess that everyone else is trying to hide. And it’s exactly what we need to hear. Bless this what-the-fucker for hanging in there, getting clean, doing his own thing, putting it out there and connecting with so many other artists and fuck-ups, from his guests to fans like me. Boomer lives!


7/1/14: I’d like to add this incredible interview with Todd Hanson (Onion writer) as an example of the type of raw reality that Marc illicits and facilitates. This is therapy.

Cupid Blowing Kiss To Trees

Thanks to Ron (of The Ron Museum) I’ve had an art-collector eye out for cheap art that makes me happy. Last night I found this on eBay and got it for $30, shipped from CA for $36.

Painting of cupid blowing a kiss to three trees

After a little sleuthing this morning, Ron helped me figure out that it is probably a souvenir painting from the House of the Vettii in Pompeii, which explains the brown, yellow and red borders and the floating platform cupid is on. It doesn’t explain why he’s blowing a kiss to these three fading trees, and I like that mystery.

The back of the painting says:

Brooks, my beloved
husband, bought this
in Pompeii on 7 June 1956.
A.D.

Details:

cupid

signature

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Here are some similar images from the inside the Vettii.

Frieze of Vettii Cupids