Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Drink To Us (When We're Both Dead) - tomorrow

MKG127 is pleased to host the launch for A Drink To Us (When We're Both Dead), a new edition by Dave Dyment, on Sunday December 21st from 3-6 PM.

Working with the staff at the Glenfiddich Distilleries, Dyment created a reinforced barrel, filled it with uncut spirit and buried it in Warehouse 8, among large stones from the river Fiddich. It will be excavated in 2108. This whisky is being pre-sold now, though it will not be available to drink for 100 years. Buyers will receive an extruded wood casket housed in a linen box, a map of the warehouse, a small diary documenting the process, and a contract to pass on to their descendants, to collect the whisky in a hundred years time. "A Drink To Us (When We're Both Dead" is available in an edition of 25 copies.

A website documenting the project can be seen here.

A representative from Glenfiddich will be on hand at the launch, serving Scotch.

MKG127 is located in Toronto at 127 Ossington Avenue between Queen and Dundas Streets at the NE corner of Ossington Avenue and Argyle Street .
For more information, please contact or 647-435-7682, or visit

Facebook page is here.

You Don't Really Care For Music, Do You?

You Don't Really Care For Music, Do You?, curated by Catherine Dean and featuring myself, Tony Romano, Alana Riley and Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay closes today. 381 Projects is located at 381 Queen Street West.

A review in Canadian Art can be seen here:

Friday, December 19, 2008

Henning Christansen, RIP

Last week George Brecht passed away, and this Tuesday another Fluxus composer, Henning Christansen, died after a short suffering of apoplexy, at age 79 in Denmark.

Best known for collaborations with Joseph Beuys and Nam June Paik, Christansen remained active throughout his life - he presented a large retrospective exhibition last year in Copenhagen, participated in the Wundergrund music festival last month, and is currently showing at the excellent Gelbe Music in Berlin. A monograph of his work is currently in production and is expected in 2009.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Bailout Reminder (tomorrow night)

While I'm reluctant to encourage competition (as this is the first time I've been able to stand in line and buy), Mercer Union's annual member show/sale is tomorrow night at 8. Here are the full details:

Mercer Union Members' Sale & Exhibition 2008

December 09, 2008 - December 18, 2008

Closing party & Sale: Thursday December 18, 2008
Hosted by Misha Glouberman

When there’s blood in the streets buy…art. Mercer Union does its part with a stimulus package to put the US bailout to shame. With drawings, paintings, photographs, sculptures and multiples all priced at $149.99, the artworks in the 2008 Annual Mercer Member’s Exhibition and Sale will sell faster than you can say “Emergency Economic Stabilization.” No layaway plans…the art will be flying right off our walls!

Works for sale by John Abrams, Jackson Abrams, Sonja Ahlers, Melissa Bebee, Katie Bethune-Leamen, Stephanie Cormier, Tanya Cunnington, Taku Dazai, Mark Dudiak, Dave Dyment, Joan Dymianiw, Fastw├╝rms, Harrell Fletcher, Brenda Goldstein, Katharine Harvey, Robert Hengeveld, Kristan Horton, Jen Hutton, Draga Jovanovic, Rita Kamacho, Suzy Lake, Micah Lexier, Arnaud Maggs, Sarah Massecar, Beth McEachen, Suzanne Nacha, Heather Nicol, Roula Partheniou, Tanya Read, Kerri Reid, Brian Rideout, Rupen, Kathryn Ruppert-Dazai, Gwen MacGregor & Sandra Rechico, Jon Sasaki, Chris Shepherd, Lisa Smolkin, Derek Sullivan, Ainslinn Thomas, Christy Thompson, Hannah Wachs, Christopher Walsh, Margaux Williamson, Laurel Woodcock.

View the wares between 9-18 December 2008 during regular gallery hours (Tuesday to Saturday 11AM-6PM).

Buy the art at the Closing Party on Thursday 18 December. Sale begins promptly at 8PM.

2000 year old computer, rebooted

A little over a hundred years ago a shipwreck was found off the Greek Islands which contained a rusted mechanical calculator, now considered to be the world's first computer. Named Antikythera, it was (recently) dated as being as old as 150 BC. Pictured above, in Xray, the mechanism contained several gears and is understood to have functioned by calculating astronomical positions as a sort of super-advanced calendar, and was presumably used in relation to ancient Olympic games.

The current issue of Wired Magazine documents how Michael Wright, a former curator at the Science Museum in London, has built a fully functional replica of the Antikythera. Click here for the full story, including video.

Cale to represent Wales

The Welsh pavilion was one of my favorites of the Venice Bienalle in 2005. The work by Bedwyr Williams was simple, unpretentious and very funny. It was worth the trip outside the main grounds to visit. Last Friday the Guardian reported that Wales will be represented in 2009 by Velvet Underground co-founder John Cale, who intends to collaborate with other artists (which is often what he is best known for), and will centre around "Cale's relationship with the Welsh language", says the Arts Council of Wales.

Cale was born in the village of Garnant and studied music at Goldsmiths College (under the tutelage of Aaron Copland) before relocating to New York, where he collaborated with artists affiliated with Fluxus, before founding the Velvets with Lou Reed. He contributed a film of blinking police car lights to a Fluxus festival and often played with La Monte Young and Tony Conrad. His solo career is large and varied, but if I had to narrow it down to three albums I'd say they'd be: Paris 1919 (for his accessible side), Music for a New Society (representing his pricklier side) and Fragments of A Rainy Season as a good career retrospective. The latter is performed live on solo guitar or piano, and features songs spanning the bulk of his career, including his cover of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, which became the template for Jeff Buckley's cover, and every one that has followed since (they all omit the same verse that Cale does, as evidence). Fragments has a cover designed by Joseph Kosuth, who is good friends with Cale. Despite being best known for collaborating with Reed, they actually only made three studio records together: the first two VU albums, and the under-appreciated reunion record Songs for Drella, a tribute to Andy Warhol.

He has also worked with Patti Smith, Terry Riley, the Stooges, Siouxie and the Banshees, Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers, Brian Eno and countless others. His 1999 autobiography is titled What's Welsh for Zen?

Cale said he was "surprised and honoured" to be invited to represent Wales. He added, intriguingly: "It offers an occasion to address certain pernicious issues in my background that had lain dormant for so long. There are certain experiences uniquely suited to the exorcism of mixed media and I am grateful for this opportunity to address them."

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Drink To Us (When We're Both Dead) Launch Date

On Sunday December 21st from 3 to 6pm we will be launching the complete edition at MKG127 (127 Ossington Ave). The edition size is 25 (plus one artist proof), meaning there will be 12 released in North America (thru MKG) and 12 available for the rest of the world (through Glenfiddich).

A representative from Glenfiddich will be on hand, serving up Scotch.

Please join us.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Amazing Underground Ant Colony

Scientists take a Rachel Whitereadesque casting of an ant colony:

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Start your countdown at eleven

Scientists report that the earth is very gradually slowing down, throwing clocks out of synch. To compensate for this, the year 2008 will be one second longer than the year before. This time adjustment, a leap-second, will be added to December 31st, New Year's Eve, at 23:59:59, Coordinated Universal Time.

The planet's rotation around the sun takes 365.2422, which we round down for the sake of simplicity. The extra day in February of leap years compensates for this, more or less. Leap seconds function similarly - they are added (or removed) at the request of the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service. The last addition was December 31st, 2005.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Bailout, Mercer Member show

Mercer Union's annual member exhibition opens this week, with the closing party/sale happening on the 18th. As always, it's hosted by Misha Glouberman and all works sell for the exact same price (this year $149.99) on a first come, first served basis. In previous years line-ups formed as early as three hours in advance. Artists this year include Katie Bethune-Leamen, Fastw├╝rms, Harrell Fletcher, Kristan Horton, Jen Hutton, Micah Lexier, Roula Partheniou, Jon Sasaki and many others.

I'm including an 8 x 10 print of the above photo, which I took in Scotland of the books I was reading about the future. I particularly liked reading predictions of one hundred years into the future from fifty years in the past.

George Brecht, RIP

Artforum today reports that George Brecht, one of my favorite artists, died on Friday. The story doesn't seem to have hit any other English language news sources (at least based on Google and Yahoo News searches), which is unfortunate, given his influence.

Brecht was one of the most important of the artists working under the banner of Fluxus. I consider his publication Wateryam to be one of the three essential Fluxus publications (alongside An Anthology, edited by La Monte Young and Jackson Mac Low, and Yoko Ono's Grapefruit). Originally published in June 1963, the boxed work contained small printed cards containing "event scores". These works were developed after Brecht attended John Cage's Experimental Music Composition classes at the New School for Social Research in New York. Brecht took the classes with Fluxus/Pop Artist Robert Watts, Al Hansen (grandfather of Beck) and Allan Kaprow, whose "happenings" were the antithesis of the simple gestures that the "event scores" suggested. Kapprow praised Brecht as having "an understanding of an intimate situation was far greater than mine" and added "He became a leader; and immediately he influenced not only me, but everybody else: Jackson Maclow, Higgins, Hansen. George Segal stopped by, and so did Dine, Whitman and Oldenburg."

Any serious artist book or multiples collection should contain Wateryam. I'd also reccomend his collaborative book with Robert Filliou, Games at the Cedilla. It's the best of the excellent Something Else Press books, documenting the year that Brecht and Filliou ran a store which sold "anything that contained a cedilla, and anything that did not". Henry Martin's An Introduction to the Book of the Tumbler on Fire contains excellent interviews and images, but it is hard to come by. More recently Gagosian published a decent monograph. I think they've sold out, too, but a few can be found on the secondary market at reasonable prices.

There is a fair amount of information about Brecht online, so I'll limit this post to my two favorite stories:

When asked about the difference between Pop Art and Fluxus, Brecht replied (forgive the paraphrase, I can't find the original interview) that whereas a Pop artist might take a comic strip panel and blow it up into a huge silkscreened canvas, he was more likely just to cut it out of the newspaper and put it in his wallet.

In his later years he became very reclusive, rarely participating in the artworld. I heard from another Fluxus artist that he owned a telephone, but that he kept it unplugged. If you wanted to speak with him, you had to send him a letter requesting that he accept the call. If he granted the request, he would plug in his phone at the agreed upon time.

I was lucky enough to get a response from two mailings I sent him - short but pleasant replies, one thanking me for something I had sent and another declaring that he no longer wished his work to be viewed as part of Fluxus ( I think I asked for an interview for a Fluxus article I was writing in the nineties).

In closing, a picture of Elvis Presley performing Brecht's Piano Piece from 1962.

Friday, December 5, 2008

A Drink To Us (When We're Both Dead) - brief update

Today I met with a bookbinding company who will manufacture the final packaging for the edition, a beautiful debossed linen box. Micah Lexier suggested them, as they worked on his recent excellent collaboration with Christian Bok. They also produced the deluxe edition of the AA Bronson Power Plant catalogue a few years ago (the one with the actual concave mirror on the cover). We chose a colour called Iris Coffee, which is actually a rich grey. The box will have a hinged lid with a pouch to house the contract, warehouse map, postcard and "100 Year Diary". The latter is a vinyl covered booklet which includes production notes, blog entries, the newspaper diaries, etc. etc. They arrived from the printer last week.

A temporary website for the project is now housed at

Also, the first bottle sold last month, at a fund-raising auction in Calgary. Below is a brief piece that Global Television ran.


The above photograph was taken circa 1900 and is part of collection of Boer War images that recently sold at auction for £4,000. Taken on the South Atlantic island of St Helena, it pictures a prisoner and guard, with a seventy-year old tortoise named Jonathan. When the auctioneers were researching the images they discovered that Jonathan is still alive, and with the help of the photograph they are able to identify his age as at least 176-years old, making him the oldest tortoise on the planet, and therefore the oldest living animal. The previous record holder was Harriet, a giant Galapagos Land tortoise, who died in 2005 aged 175 in Australia.

The below picture shows Jonathan he is today. One and three-quarter centuries old and blind in one eye, he apparently still has the energy to regularly mate with the three younger females he is housed with.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Drink To Us (When We're Both Dead)

A Drink To Us (When We're Both Dead): a sapele wood box, a contract to claim the spirit in one hundred years time and a map of the warehouse where the barrel is buried, is now available in an edition of 25 copies, from Glenfiddich in the UK and from MKG127 in North America.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Now Magazine

Jon Sasaki, dressed as a lion, is on the cover of today's NOW magazine to promote his excellent piece in Nuit Blanche this weekend. The story can be found here, and his website here.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Like Tom Hanks in The Terminal

I'm at Heathrow airport, getting kicked by a sleeping man taking up the rest of the long bench that I'm sitting on. I have 12 hours in between flights, for some reason, in an all-but -closed airport. I can't yet check my (three heavy) bags so I am forced to wait here in this holding cell - a long corridor with only one television set, which inexplicably faces an escalator that reads NO UNAUTHORIZED PERSONNEL. I try to watch it at awkward angle, but can't make out anything. The sound is too low to hear clearly, but just loud enough to make reading annoying. Beeping floor-cleaning machines circle around like bumper cars. I have several films loaded onto the laptop but worry that the battery will give up on me, as I can't find an outlet. I'd be willing to pay.

I actually did just pay for an hour of internet access (at a price which would get me a week and a half at home) but it doesn't seem to work. And of course there's no recourse if you can't get online to report the problem. A clever scam.

I turn down the brightness of my screen to gain an extra 30 minutes of battery time and to make my eyes sting more than they already do. I wonder if I'd be able to load up movies onto my camera, allowing me a third battery -powered toy (alongside the ipod and laptop) to entertain me on long flights. So I never have to watch another romantic comedy starring Hugh Grant again.

I've finished the one magazine I was able to buy and expect to spend the next 8 hours staring into space. I've done the calculation, and in the last four days my ratio of hours awake to hours asleep is 6:1. I suppose it will prepare me for Nuit Blanche next week. Michel de Broin arrives from Montreal this week, and Matt Suib from Philadelphia. There's still quite a lot of work to be done. It's going to be a hectic four days, and then I'll sleep like the unemployed bum I'll be.

Barrel burial

The burial of the cask went swimmingly today, by which I mean it overflowed and erupted into a huge fountain, dousing warehouse manager Eric Stephen. Despite there being five photographers there, no one got a picture of this. But other than this slight miscalculation (the barrel used to transport the spirit was a little larger than the one we buried) everything was seamless. The hole was lined with the stones from the riverbed and the barrel was lowered in via forklift, bung-hole up. The barrel from the filling station (with uncut spirit, to help ensure a strong enough level of alcohol in a hundred years) was rolled in and a large pump was used to move the liquid from one to the other. We had a long green garden hose on hand in case it didn't work, and we had to siphon the old-fashioned way. The time capsule was added and the hole was filled with the remaining stones. We also underestimated how many of these we'd need, so Andy and Michael rushed off to the 'beach' to collect more in the truck.

One of the staff who was assisting us was a guy named Denis. He has an incredible accent, and a great way with words ("if someone needed help, ya just mucked in"). I knew that he was retiring this year so I asked him when his last day would be. Turns out it's today. "Oh", I said. "How long have you worked here?" He answered "Fifty years". Fifty fucking years. He asked if he could place one of the stones in the hole, and it felt like he was burying and saying goodbye to the larger part of his life. It was an unexpected poignant moment.

Eric is also leaving at the end of this year, after working for Glenfiddich for forty-five years. He started the year Andy was born. It was Eric's horse that we visited several times (pics on Flickr here) and he was the one who dug the hole for me, after I had returned home the first time. I am hugely indebted to him.

Despite a few local big news stories that day, we had a decent press turnout, all of whom sent photographers. I find doing press and being photographed fairly humiliating, especially with friends around. It's akin to having an objective bystander observe you flirting - it's kinda ugly. Plus I had to endure a series of photographer's requests like "hold up a glass like you're toasting the camera" or "just lean naturally against the barrel". Is it even possible to lean naturally against a barrel?

I really hate to leave Dufftown. It was bad enough leaving three weeks ago, but then I knew I was returning. There's something really calming about northern Scotland, and everyone is so incredibly sweet. Strangers wave to you as they drive by in their car. No one steals yer bike.

Luckily it was too busy a day to get sentimental. Michael Sanzone has an exhibition of the work he created during the residency this November, in NYC. Andy has plans to travel down to see it, and I'm hoping I can make it too. He was really prolific over the summer, and it'll be nice to see all the works together, and great to see them both again.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Today, tomorrow

In between bursts of rain, I am spending the day painting the barrel hopes with a rust-proof paint and loading up stones into the GF truck. And affixing labels to boxes. Tomorrow morning we'll drive the rocks to the warehouse and line the bottom of the hole. The barrel will be lowered in before it is filled, which we'll do from another cask. So we might find ourselves siphoning with a garden hose. The time capsule will be added and the final stones on top. Then I'm rushed off to the airport to make my flight, saying a final sad farewell to Dufftown.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Back in Dufftown

I am overjoyed to be back in Dufftown. Beyond missing everyone and wanting to finalize everything, there's something intangibly amazing about the place. The final exhibition of year opens in an hour, and the editions arrived just in time. I am very pleased with the way they turned out, and very happy to see the coverage in today's paper (which is weekly, so it's the one we'll bury on Monday).

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Short piece about my projects for Lola

Back to Dufftown

I leave for Scotland today, in an hour. I realized while packing that I am bringing a large steel cannister, which could quite easily be mistaken for a missile casing to an over-zealous luggage x-ray attendant. I make a note to mention the contents of my case while checking in, at the same time as requesting a vegetarian meal and asking for the emergency exit seat (I like the extra foot room). I decided against the latter, not wanting to double suspicion.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Time Capsule

The time capsule to be buried with the whisky (which we now have to call 'spirit') arrived last week. It's almost the size of my leg, which got me thinking about the time when I worked for hard-core evangelical christians and they gave me a birthday present that consisted of a prosthetic leg filled with mars bars. I'm not making this up.

The capsule will contain a dozen 8 x 10 photos of the production of the project (the construction of the barrel, mostly, but also images of the stills, collecting rocks from the river, etc), my notebook, a super8 film of the barrel being produced, some legal paperwork, and a copy of the days local newspaper. In a nice coincidence, the paper will include an article about the burial.

The burial is set for this Monday, during the Spirit of Speyside whisky festival. I will be in town for four days only, and then rushing back to deal with Nuit Blanche.

Diplo, Flying Lotus remix Radiohead

Today iTunes began selling bundled stems of Radiohead's new single Reckoner, inviting others to remix the track and post it on their website. The site already contains remixes by Diplo (at the request of the band) and Flying Lotus, which are available to stream, but not download. Better still, one can listen to all the tracks at once, for a nice cacophonous roar.

Tara Donovan, half a million dollars richer

The MacArthur Fellowship (often called the "genius grant") is an award given by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation each year since 1981, to between 20 and 40 citizens or residents of the U.S., of any age and working in any field, who "show exceptional merit and promise for continued and enhanced creative work." The current value of the prize is $500 000, spread out over five years. The prizes are typically awarded to those in the arts and sciences.

Notable artists, filmmakers, composers and critics who have received the award include Gary Hill (1998), Dave Hickey, John Zorn, Kara Walker (all 1997), Cindy Sherman, Allison Anders, Meredith Monk, (1995), David Hammons (1991) and Bill Viola (1989).

The 2008 recipients were announced today and include eight winners from the arts, including musicologist Alex Ross (The Rest is Noise) and sculptor Tara Donovan (whose work is pictured).

Monday, September 22, 2008

Scottish Pavilion, 2009

Todays Herald reports that Martin Boyce will represent Scotland at the 2009 Venice Biennale. It will mark the first time that the country has been represented by a single artist. "Venice is an amazing city, " says Boyce, "because it is literally floating on the water it is a very different place, and I am already beginning to think about how I will work in it. I love the fact that the Scottish show is not one of the buildings in the Giardini, the official home of the Biennale, that it is almost tongue-in-cheek, because it is whatever you want it to be; it could be set in a bar, or a gondola."

The exhibition, jointly organised by Dundee Contemporary Arts, the Scottish Arts Council and the National Galleries of Scotland, will have a budget of a quarter of a million pounds ($480 000 CDN), which will allow a "big and bold" impression.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Yesterday Kelly Mark, Roula and I drove to London, Ontario, for the Lola festival. It's about a three hour trip and along the way we drove through at least a dozen towns I've never heard of, all with bigger populations than Wasilla, Alaska.

The Lola Festival (no relation to the now defunct Toronto arts mag of the same name) started out three years ago mostly as an indie rock fest, but the organizers (Andrew Francis and Paul Walde) have been increasing the number of work by visual artists each year. I had three pieces in the show - Pop Quiz was rear-projected in a few bank towers, the previously mentioned Big Bang FM, and Life and Death, which uses the lightbox of the advertising venue to illuminate a lesser-known Paul is Dead 'clue'. This is from an ongoing body of work which investigates the way fans insert themselves into rock folklore by shaping the mythology, particularly around issues life and death (Paul is Dead, Elvis is Alive, etc.). My billboard was blown down when London got the tail end of the hurricane, but I gather it's back up now.

Kelly Mark debuted a new project called The Band, which uses the marketing machinery of the music industry to promote a fictional rock band. Laurel Woodcock presented a new billboard and neon work, both using rock lyrics as her source material. David Poolman created works based on the tattoos of metal fans and Rich Jacobs created a 'rock family tree' for the Washington hardcore band Minor Threat, which I understand has already caught the attention of singer Ian MacKaye.

Do May Say Think, Polmo Polpo, and Holy Fuck played Saturday, but I had to get back for a Nuit Blanche meeting, given that the event is less than two weeks away now.

The above image is of Life and Death, which shares a lightbox with one of Kelly's many Band photos. Hopefully pics of all the works will be posted to in the next coupla days.

Friday, September 12, 2008

'Nother Quick Update

I've been mostly catching up on Nuit Blanche things since getting back, including some site visits with Michel de Broin, Bruno Billio and Jon Sasaki yesterday. Everything seems to be in order, thanks (entirely) to Miki Stricker and Bill Zeilstra at the city. The behind-the-scenes (and mostly thankless) work they do for this event is incredible. The above picture I took on Wednesday, from the 6 story building we're using to harness Bruno's laser. It was such a beautiful summer day that I just wanted a lawn chair and some lemonade and a nap up there.

The 100 Year Old Whisky is moving along fairly rapidly, in my absence. First of all it has been definitively decided that it cannot be called Scotch unless I am able to prove to the Scottish Whisky Association that there is a historical precedent for burying the cask. The SWA is very big on tradition. I've been hunting online, but it's doubtful I'm going to find the smoking gun, so we're going to have to go with the term "spirit". This was anticipated to a certain extent, and I actually like the word better. Coupled with angel's share and casket, we've got some nice religious death imagery happening here, to accompany the burial.

I always assumed that the tradition of burying the dead was either practical, or based on agriculture (early man recognizing the cause and effect of planting something). It turns out that it likely predates both the need for hygienic disposal of corpses and even the most rudimentary understanding of cultivation. Apparently there is no commonly accepted anthropological explanation for the tradition of interment. Even now, the World Health Organization does not mandate burial (or cremation) as being necessary to prevent diseases (unless the body carried disease before death). **

The wooden caskets for the edition are in production now, the contract approved, the label designed and awaiting production. Photos are being printed to include in the accompanying time-capsule, which has been ordered and is en-route. Last week Eric Stephen, who works in Warehouse 8, dug me this fantastic hole (below). I can't wait to see it in person. When I return I will collect more rocks (this time with a van, no more treacherous treks with a wheelbarrow), quickly install the show and then host the burial the next day. Then say my final sad goodbyes to Glenfiddich and Scotland.

**I always thought I'd want to be cremated (and take up less space) but a few years back I changed my mind, realizing that cemeteries are a nice place for squirrels to play.

"one day, let's be a pair of trees, nobody'll know...."

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Deerhoof cover

CASH Music is a project began by Kristin Hersh and L7's Donita Sparks, which aims to provide "a flexible platform through which creative stake holders — artists and audiences — may interact and support one another through community". This often means making songs available for free and then passing around a virtual hat or tip jar (years before Radiohead offered their album with the PWYC model). Listeners are frequently encouraged to take the basic tracks and then remix and repost them.

Recently Deerhoof joined up, and have taken the premise a step further. In advance of their new album (Offend Maggie, out October 7th), they have released the sheet music to the lead-off single, and invite people to cover the song before they've heard it. Record your version and post it here.


I've discovered a great shelf at the boutique bookstore Monkey's Paw called Yestermorrow. I've picked up a couple of books there titled "The Next Hundred Years" - visions of the future from the past. Today on Boing Boing there's a link to an article written at the turn of the century (the recent 'turn') but never published. In it the author examines many of these predictions of the future from the past, rating their accuracy.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The ever-evolving channels of distribution

Last month Sonic Youth released a 'greatest hits' CD (well, sort of - the songs are selected by Radiohead, Catherine Keener, Eddie Vedder, The Flaming Lips, etc.) called Hits are for Squares. It is only available at Starbucks. AC/DC's first studio album in 8 years is available next month, but only at Walmart. Christina Aguilera's greatest hits package, out in November, will only be available at Target stores. The Smashing Pumpkins announced today that their next single will debut on November 14th, on Guitar Hero (Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii).

This week also saw the announcement that Michael Moore will be releasing his next film, Slacker Uprising, on the web, as a free download. The film looks to share more in common with his second film, The Big One, than it does his hits Bowling for Columbine, Sicko and Fahrenheit 911 (the top selling documentary of all time). The film cost two million dollars to make, and will be released September 23rd.

Wim Delvoye

Wim Delvoye once jokingly remarked that he worked with pigs because they were easier to tattoo than fish. We saw a couple of his stuffed tattooed pigs thru a closed gallery window in Chelsea yesterday. Not sure if they were part of the next show, or being deinstalled from the previous, but they were no longer in the window when we walked by again later.

Today Artforum reports that Delvoye has sold a more recent tattoo work for $228,000 (CDN), to a collector in Germany. The tattoo is on the back of a 31 year old musician from Zurich, who will share in the proceeds of the work. For this he agrees to be exhibited thrice yearly, and when he dies the collector inherits the tattoo from his back.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Films for the Future

To celebrate their 75th anniversary, the British Film institute is asking the general public (and the requisite celebrities) what film they would like to show to future generations. Most propose classics (Hitchcock, Fritz Land, Stanley Kubrick, Martin Scorsese, and Francis Ford Coppola), Pierre Bismuth argues for b-movies, and Ken Loach is on the list as both recommender and recommended. Herzog's Grizzly Man and Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing are the more interesting of the recent picks, though, jeez, the latter is nearly 20 years old now.

I remember after seeing Peter Greenaway's Prospero's Books at TIAF years ago, I thought it would be the perfect film to send into space, as an example of the achievement of cinema, but I can't say I really enjoyed it (unlike Greenaway's Drowning by Numbers, which I love). Not sure what film I'd chose to preserve for future generations. I'll have to go with Jean-Claude Lauzon's Leolo from 1992, which has most consistently been my favorite film.

You can vote here on the existing selections, or add yer own.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Funding Cuts Town Hall Meeting

I'll won't be able to attend, but those in the city should try to make it to the Fuse Magazine sponsored Town Hall discussion tonight, tackling funding cuts, past, present and future. A fall election seems all but certain, and the polls indicate that the Conservatives/Reform might finally get their majority government.

Wednesday, SEPTEMBER 3, 2008 at 7pm.
The Theatre Centre
Wednesday, September 3 2008
1087 Queen Street West, (South East Corner of Queen and Dovercourt)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


I assume by now that everyone interested in contemporary art has bookmarked (two 'v's, not a 'w'). This week it seems they're kicking off a series of links to artist interviews and they're starting with a couple of my favorites; Claude Closky and Candice Breitz. Closky is still fairly unknown in Canada (I think it was Michah Lexier who suggested I look into his work, years ago) but Breitz will be back in Toronto next year creating a new work, commissioned by the Power Plant. She came and gave an amazing artist lecture at Mercer Union a couple of years ago, after having her flight delayed for three days, being put up in a hotel that was essentially a brothel and not having her luggage arrive until the 4th and last day of her trip (which, remembering, has me worried about my own missing bag).

Here's another interview, that I enjoyed on the plane yesterday, with Martin Creed.

Convention tonight

Tonight Bush will speak to the Republican Convention via satellite, conveniently preventing any warm embraces like the one to the left. Even Laura Bush thinks it's a good idea for McCain to distance himself from her husband.

The campaign, in an effort to redeem itself after the botched handling of Katrina, will pretend this decision is about putting aside politics and putting Americans first. Let's review McCain's concern for hurricane victims:

In 2005, McCain voted against a commission to Examine Government Response to Katrina. Obama and Clinton both voted in favor, but the motion failed 44-54. He voted against another a year later. In 2005 he voted against investigating waste, fraud and abuse in awarding non-bid contracts for the reconstruction after the hurricanes Katrina and Rita. That same year he voted against allowing up to 52 weeks of unemployment benefits to an individual as a result of a major disaster under the Disaster Unemployment Assistance Program and against granting Katrina victims access to Medicaid. He was only the 40th senator to visit New Orleans after the disaster, and only after a newspaper suggested it might be a "political liability" for him not to attend.

In 2005, McCain also warned of excessive Government spending In response to Hurricane Katrina: "We also have to be concerned about future generations of Americans. We're going to end up with the highest deficit, probably, in the history of this country." War spending and tax cuts for the rich, are not a problem, apparently.

And on the morning of the disaster? McCain ate birthday cake with Bush.

Toronto, NYC

I arrived safely back in Toronto last night. Hopefully my luggage follows me here later today. Or at least before I have to leave for New York tomorrow morning. We're going for a very quick trip as Roula is participating in a group show in Chelsea, where she'll show the 100 Variations and a stack of lumber.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Leaving tomorrow

This blog will likely continue until the burial of the butt (barrel) at the end of the month, but this will be last post from the highlands. We had our final dinner tonight, which was nice, though it's very sad to be leaving. Jin and I drive to the airport tomorrow morning together and Ming leaves the following day. I found out tonight that his wife is expecting their first child, who was conceived in the cottage next to the castle, several weeks back. Martina will be gone by the time I return late September.

I will miss Andy most of all. Every aspect of the residency program here is fantastic, but his hospitality, knowledge, wit, etc. etc. elevates the experience to something truly memorable. I can't imagine negotiating my project with anyone other than him. He deserves a big fuckin' vacation at the end of all this.

I tend to sneak out the back door because I dislike goodbyes, so I'm gonna cheat here on my last day and quote from Kristin Hersh's blog from last week, about leaving Edinburgh:

"......This is not enough time to be in Scotland. Not enough time to love everyone we meet, not enough time to watch gorgeous dogs run on the green, not enough time to drink tea as strong as whisky and whisky as strong as god, not enough time to breathe clean meadow air, not enough time to gawk at real-actual-gazillion-year-old-no-fucking-kidding castles......"

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Last days

The above pic shows what remains of the massive bonfire from our barbeque last week. Tomorrow night we are all meeting up for one last dinner, and then I leave the following morning. My homesickness is in almost perfect balance with my reluctance to leave. For example:

Things I am looking fwd to:

More than one pair of (muddy) shoes to wear.
Clothes dried in a dryer.
Going to the cinema and eating popcorn (people look at you funny here if you ask for popcorn).

Things I will miss:

Rabbits in my front yard, cows and sheep across the street, and horses kept as pets.
Not having to lock my bike up, no matter where I leave it - in the middle of a forest or outside of a pub.
Whiskey that's as available as running water.

Strange Overtones

I downloaded the new Brian Eno/David Byrne collaboration a few weeks ago, but hadn't listened to it much, until today. I was worried that it couldn't possibly live up to the high expectations I would have for it, given that their previous collaboration (twenty-seven years ago) was the brilliant My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. Compounding my fears was the first track made available on their website, Strange Overtones. The lyrics recount Byrne hearing a song by his neighbour, thru the thin apartment walls. Lines like "this groove is out of fashion, these beats are twenty years old" only serve to remind how unlikely this all is to work. Byrne also seems to be singing in a key just out of his range, again highlighting the strained/forced feel of the project.

It's easy to mistake the first song from the record as the 'single', but this isn't the case here at all. Strange Overtones is only the first song to be released, and given away for free. So perhaps unfair to judge the record by.

I listened to the entire album, twice, today while hauling rocks (less fun, even, than it sounds) and it's surprisingly good. As expected, it does not come close to the brilliance of their former collaborations, but it is better than anything they've put out individually for about a decade. It also made me think that if all the stadium bands smart enough to hire Eno as producer (Coldplay, U2, etc.) were smarter, they would get him to sing back-up. His voice is represented here less than I would've liked (I was hoping for an equal balance - like his collaboration with John Cale, Wrong Way Up) but it adds an amazing warmth to an already warm record, whenever it appears.


The barrel for my whiskey was produced last week in the cooperage by Don Ramsey and Gordon Davidson. The contract I've written is awaiting a final proof from the legal department. The boxes are under construction and the label designed. The location in Warehouse 8 where the barrel will be buried has been chosen. Today I will walk a mile or two with my green wheelbarrow and collect stones from the Fiddich River (where our bonfire and pig roast was held last week). In anticipation of returning to Toronto on Monday I switched my desktop weather report back to the city, and then mistakingly read that today would be a warm sunny day in Dufftown. It turns out it's going to be 18 degrees and partly cloudy, which is lucky, because that is a warm sunny day in Dufftown.

Van Halen vs John McCain

It was reported today that Van Halen object to the use of their song Right Now by John McCain yesterday when announcing Sarah Palin as his running mate. The band released a statement saying "Permission was not sought or granted, nor would it have been given." Presumably McCain's handlers are more familiar with the song from it's use in a 1992 Pepsi ad, than it's origins on an album called F.U.C.K. The 1991 record's full title is For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, which seems to champion rape or prostitution or some other form of illegal sex (perhaps sodomy, which was illegal in most states, even between a husband and wife, until 2003).

George W. Bush also used the track as one of his theme songs, often playing it at rallies during the 2000 campaign. When Van Halen reunited for a 2004 tour, they projected the Right Now music video, with the addition of an image of Bush and the caption "right now nothing is more expensive than regret."

Other songs McCain has used until he was asked to stop include Frankie Valli's Can't Take My Eyes Off You, Jackson Browne's Running on Empty, Chuck Berry's Johnny B Goode and two songs by John Mellencamp - Pink Houses and Our Country. Even McCain's self-professed favorite band, Abba, objected to his use of Take A Chance On Me. It's not only songwriters offended at the misappropriation of their work - Mike Myers recently demanded an end to the unauthorized use of the Wayne's World "We're not worthy" clip.

My earliest memory of musicians battling candidates over the right to use their music (and the implied endorsement) was when Reagan mistook Bruce Springsteen's anti-war song Born in the USA as a patriotic anthem, and Springsteen had to set the record straight. Last week the Democrats used the song, either with permission, or without complaint.

Friday, August 29, 2008

'Hockey Mom' for VP

I can't get over the cynicism of today's political announcement of Sarah Palin as John McCain's presidential running mate. First of all, it is made less than a day after the Democratic convention wrapped up (hell, they were droping hints about it during Obama's acceptance speech) in a clear effort to steal thunder from the convention. Secondly, the crass move of choosing a woman, in the hopes of winning over disgruntled HIllary supporters, shows just what Republicans think of woman - that they can be bought very easily. Sure, they're angry that Clinton lost out to Obama, so they won't mind voting for an essentially unknown woman who believes that victims should be forced to have the offspring of the men who have raped them. She also believes creationism should be taught in school and that global warming "isn't man-made". Oh, and McCain has only met her once.

The bulk of Palin's experience comes from being mayor of an Alaskan town of less than seven thousand people. I've lived on city blocks with larger populations. Given that their campaign is all about painting Obama as inexperienced, this seems a strange choice for second-in-command. If the Republicans take the White House in the fall, the US could go from having their oldest president, to having their youngest, in a single (failed) heartbeat.

I suppose today was no worse than eight years ago when Dick Cheney was selected to head Bush's vice presidential selection process, and he chose himself.

Pope vs Kippy

Following a politician's hunger strike, the Pope has apparently weighed in on the Martin Kippenberger controversy and called his crucified frog blasphemous, and requested its removal.

According to the New York Times, the board of the Museion Museum decided by a majority vote that the sculpture, would remain in place for the remainder of the exhibition.