Sunday, January 31, 2010

Bending, Breaking Through.

Chris Forsyth, Dreams

Chris Forsyth drove right into it last night at Issue Project Room. By "it", I mean everything. The night, the cold, our bodies. I saw him do the same thing this summer at Shea Stadium in Bushwick, only in that case he was cutting through the sweltering heat and too much beer. Without frippery, he drops his audience right down into a deep pit of harmonics, twisted melody, and rhythm. Like Baby Jessica, shit gets dark and weird but the ride back up is a blast. I haven't been this surprised by a guitarist since I saw Roy Buchanan on Austin City Limits when I was a kid. Don't get me wrong, revolutionaries like John Fahey and Loren Mazzacane Connors are LOVED here at Heart As Arena, but that doesn't mean they ever surprised me. Like Buchanan, there's something decidedly off and unpredictable in Forsyth's songs and performances. Will the song end or are we only in the middle? Will a melody dominate or will it be a wall of dissonance; or, will both share the stage? Will he roll or shred? Doesn't matter, as long as you're there. And with Forsyth's music, you will be.

Meg Baird played after Forsyth. I have to admit, I was skeptical, but Baird took care of that right quick. Her rolling and bending guitar lines pulled me in, and her voice kept me there. Forsyth joined her near the end for some scary beautiful and sometimes just downright scary lead runs. Things got especially transcendent when the duo covered the Crazy Horse song I Don't Want To Talk About It. (BONUS: Rod Stewart version.) By the end of the song, the audience knew they had seen something special. And they were right.

Friday, January 29, 2010


Taj Forer, To live with you alone, Red Boiling Springs, Tennessee, archival pigment print

Totally scored at Art21's wildly fun trivia fest, Culture Wars, last night. My team--the very awesome Glenn Lowry's Apartment--came in 2nd place, being bested with more than a little irony by the crew from MoMA. No complaints here though. We walked away with prints and gift certificates from the much-loved and ever excellent 20X200. I took home Taj Forer's To live with you alone, Red Boiling Springs, Tennessee. A thousand times YAAAAAAAAAY!

And yes, Ms. Jen Bekman called it. HeartAsArena was drunk. But mostly on the goodness of a fine evening.

Oh, and . . . XANADU!!!

Friday, January 08, 2010

Free Time.

James Franco

It's great that James Franco is doing performance art and that so many people are discussing it, but shouldn't we first pause to appreciate what he's already added to the world of painting?

Monday, January 04, 2010


When I saw Jim Marshall's iconic photo of Johnny Cash thrusting The Finger at the camera, I realized it was the second time I had seen it in the Brooklyn Museum. The first time, however, wasn't in a photograph. It was in Mark Dean Veca's wonderfully trippy Good Bye Nail Fungus that had been in the museum's Open House: Working in Brooklyn show back in 2004. Nothing's lost in the translation.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Rock 'N' Roll Suicide.

I saw the excellent Who Shot Rock & Roll at the Brooklyn Museum over the weekend. The set of Richard Kern's photos of Sonic Youth made it hard not to think of the infamous suicide picture of Mayhem's Dead taken by his bandmate Euronymous. There are a couple hundred reasons it might not have been included in the exhibit, ranging from the ethics of its provenance to scaring children. The music geek and Black Metal fiend in me needs to fill the empty space on that wall though, so here's the missing piece of the puzzle. To quote Dead, "Excuse all the blood."

Friday, January 01, 2010