What kind of statement is made when a bookstore sells only one book. Is it performance art? Is it a joke? Does it mean the end of life as we know it? I’m not sure, but it’s doing swift business.
Ed’s Martian Book is a store located in a small space in NYC’s West Village, and it only carries the book Martian Summer by Andrew Kessler. Kessler also happens to be the store’s owner and proprietor…at least until his lease is up and a coffee shop goes into the location this summer.
The book is about Kessler’s time working in mission control for NASA on its Phoenix expedition—the same one that famously located evidence of water on Mars. But at Ed’s Martian Book you don’t need to look for the title just in the science section, it can also be found in bestsellers, new & notable, staff picks…heck it’s on every shelf and in every display in the store.
Kessler bought 3,000 copies of the book from his publisher in order to stock the store, and he has already sold hundreds of them for the cover price of $27.95. He refers to himself as a “Monobookist,” and I love the way this idea turns the book into a fetish object. It kind of feels like the Kindle just got punk’d.
(photos: Rachel “Cupcake Blogger” K. @ yelp)
Posted in arte, favorite things, libraries, literacy, pop culture
Tagged andrew kessler, bookstores, ed's martian book, kindle, libraries, martian summer, monobookist, NASA, nyc, water on mars
I was going to start this post off by saying that I’ve been in a real Almodóvar-watching mood recently, but that would be a ridiculous thing to say because I’m always in the mood for watching his films.
More accurately, I’ve been in the mood for rewatching some of my favorite films by him, including Volver, Oscar winner Hable con ella (Talk to Her), and Oscar nominee Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown). And if you haven’t seen any of those, please rush out and do so immediately.
Almodóvar’s films always have a few elements in common: humor, passion, bright colors, Madrid, men who make bad decisions, and women who have to deal with the repercussions of those bad decisions. But it’s not just themes that pop up over and over in his work. Actors also often appear regularly in his productions—he started the careers of Penélope Cruz and Antonio Banderas after all. But one of my favorite character actors who appears in almost every Almodóvar film, including the three I’ve rewatched most recently, is Chus Lampreave.
Lampreave is a veteran Spanish actress whose career dates back to the 1950s, including extensive work in Spanish television, and who usually shows up in an Almodóvar film as some batty landlord or crazed relative. I first saw her in Mujeres al borde 10 years ago; she plays a stubborn Jehovah’s Witness who refuses to lie for the philandering Iván in that movie. I’ve kept a keen eye out for her ever since. And in my opinion, one of her best roles is as tía Paula in Volver.
Lola Dueñas, Penélope Cruz, Yohana Cobo, and Chus Lampreave in "Volver"
Paula is a nutty old aunt to sisters Penélope Cruz and Lola Dueñas (another Almodóvar regular who kills it in everything she does) who lives in a small village in La Mancha—a town whose inhabitants suffer from chronic insanity caused by strong winds. It’s a classic Lampreave role in a Almodóvar picture: old, stubborn woman who is out of her mind. Paula has been talking to the ghost of the sisters’ mother lately. It’s probably just the wind, but of course…you should see the movie yourself! Lampreave’s character isn’t in much of the movie, but for the few scenes she has, she absolutely steals the show. That’s saying a lot when she’s sharing the screen with Penélope Cruz, an actress who garnered an Oscar nomination for her role in the film.
Posted in arte, favorite things, film, peliculas, Reviews, sexuality, Spain, video
Tagged actresses, almodóvar, antonio banderas, chus lampreave, hable con ella, mujeres al borde, pedro almodóvar, peliculas, penelope cruz, spanish film, television, video, volver
Chris Parks’ skateboard deck art of Jesus and his apostles shown as luchadores is awesome! And just in time for Easter. (More and better photos here.)
Posted in arte, favorite things, Mexico, pop culture, the neighborhood
Tagged arte, chris parks, last fiesta, last supper, luchadores, pale horse design, pop culture, sinners & saints, skateboard
There are a million and one ways of wasting time on the internet, but I find few as enjoyable and enlightening as watching Amoeba Records’ series “What’s in My Bag?”
(Venezuela’s Los Amigos Invisibles on a recent episode.)
Amoeba is, of course, the infamous California indy music store with locations in Berkley, San Francisco, and Hollywood. Each is gigantic (the SF store is in an old bowling alley) and filled to the gills with CDs, cassettes, records, DVDs, VHS tapes, and even laser discs. The selection is always deep and exotic—anyone could find at least one thing there that they’d like but have never heard before. That even goes for M.I.S.‘s Camilo Lara.
“What’s in My Bag?” is simply someone from Amoeba with a camera grabbing a famous patron and having him or her show off what they’re buying. Baggists include everyone: cartoonist Joe Matt, Elvira, Elijah Wood, Duran Duran, Robb Reiner from Anvil, the Roots’ Questlove, and on and on. I’ve never learned as much about music history and celebrity taste as I have from watching this fabulous series. And speaking of fabulous, here’s Argentina’s Los Fabulosos Cadillacs (¡en español!)…
La Maldita Vecindad y los Hijos del Quinto Patio
Latin Jazz percussionist Poncho Sanchez
Pat Hoed…er, I mean Fantasma from the metal band Brujeria
Posted in arte, favorite things, internet culture, jazz, Mexico, musica, pop culture, Reviews, sitio web, the neighborhood, video
Tagged amoeba, brujeria, fantasma, los amigos invisibles, los fabulosos cadillacs, maldita vecindad, Mexican Institute of Sound, MIS, musica, pat hoed, poncho sanchez, what's in my bag
So I was down in Forest Park yesterday to check out Fiery Pool: The Maya and the Mythic Sea at the St. Louis Art Museum, and it was great. The show includes dozens of pieces of Mayan art related to the sea, rain, animals, and the gods that have never been shown in the United States before.
There are crocodile sculptures, funerary statues, duck-head vases, a pelican head…frankly it was a bit overwhelming because almost every piece has a rich mythic backstory and is executed with fine and complicated detailing. The whole time I was mesmerized by geometric configurations, stories of gods emerging from sharks, the idea of a cosmic turtle, and just how lovely a bloodletting ritual could be. Honestly, I need to go back to take it all in more fully. But I’m running out of time because the show is only in St. Louis until May 8…and then the world ends in 2012.
But it wasn’t until I hit the show’s gift shop that I became a true sucker. Usually I fly right past all the goodies laid out to tempt museum goers, but not this time. Delicately placed on a pedestal at the front of the store was a basket of adorable three-legged ceramic pigs from Chile called chanchitos. The name comes from the diminutive of chancho, which is a word in parts of Latin America for “pig” (both the four-legged version and the guy who your mother always warned you about). Normally the word chanchito refers to a piggy bank, but the chanchitos at the art museum were ceramic art obejects made in Pomaire, Chile that are exchanged between family and friends as good luck symbols. I was smitten and had to have one. And personally, I don’t think there is a luckier or more attractive swine than the one my wife and I picked out of that sales basket. (Though this Facebook page would take issue with us.)
Chanchito con sus nuevos amigos
Bringing our chanchito home made me do a little more investigation into Pomaire. The village is about 60 km west of Santiago and is home to some really amazing potters and pottery studios. It is also famous for its almost two-pound empanadas. My goodness, it’s almost lunch time and I’m ready to book a flight to Chile right now! (Here’s a great blog about the cuisine of the village and how to cure any cooking vessels you might buy there on a future trip.)
(Five-minute video en español on pottery arts in Pomaire).
Posted in arte, comida, favorite things, pop culture, Reviews, slang, viaje, video, vocabulario
Tagged alfarería, arte, chanchito, Chile, chilean pottery, comida, empanada, fiery pool, mayan art, pomaire, slam, St. Louis, st. louis art museum
Ron English is deliciously subversive with his art. He throws billboard-sized bombs at advertising design and brand culture through public (often illegal) art that twists images of Ronald McDonald, Mickey Mouse, and Joe Camel into cancerous agents of obesity, disease, and brand subservience. If you’ve seen Morgan Spurlock’s film Super Size Me, then you’ve seen his work.
Here’s a short film about the man:
Recently English decided to play an April Fool’s prank related to the immigration debate through a series of works that popped up at the US-Mexico border. Below is my favorite…though I fear that some in the US will take it seriously and want this sign permanently installed at all border crossings.
Posted in arte, favorite things, film, internet culture, politics, pop culture, the neighborhood, video
Tagged arte, humor, immigration, Los Estados Unidos, mexico, peliculas, pop art, pop culture, popaganda, publicidad, ron english, us-mexico border, video