December 31, 2008

Laura Louie & Woody Harrelson

We were happy to hear that Laura Louie and Woody Harrelson were married this past week at their remote home on the island of Maui, Hawaii. They are good people. According to the papers, guests at the small wedding included Sean Penn, Willie Nelson, and Owen Wilson. Alanis Morissette joyfully sang at the ceremony.

Anna and I were married ourselves in a low-key and peaceful ceremony years ago in the same off-the-beaten-path area of Maui.
This news story brings back so many good thoughts and happy memories.

Laura and Woody are an environmentally conscious couple who created an important website titled VoiceYourself that we have followed for several years now. Their mission statement reads "We believe all life on earth is sacred. VoiceYourself promotes and inspires individual action to create global momentum towards simple organic living and to restore balance and harmony to our planet."

There is an insightful video and poem on the website titled "Thoughts From Within" by Woody Harrelson that is recommended viewing for everyone. Woody's words challenge viewers by asking "Do you dare to feel responsible for every dollar you lay down...are you going to make the rich man richer...or are you going to stand your ground...You say you want a revolution...a communal be a part of the solution...maybe I'll be seeing you around".

Update as of December 2009: Voiceyourself has closed down as a day-to-day operation. You can follow this link to watch the video "Thoughts From Within" as posted on YouTube by impete82.

December 25, 2008


The unmistakable look of fear from a vintage 
department store Santa photo. Happy holidays!

December 19, 2008

Robert Frank

On December 12, 2008, Philip Gefter wrote about the Swiss-born photographer and filmmaker Robert Frank for the New York Times. Mr. Frank, now 84, is of course well-known for the classic photography book "The Americans", originally published by Robert Delpire, Paris, 1958, and by Grove Press, New York, 1959.

Earlier this decade, as a staff member of the Pace/MacGill Gallery, NY, I was fortunate to have crossed paths with the artist on occasion. Those who know Mr. Frank will agree when I say that it is indeed refreshing to meet someone who's a true romantic...someone who cuts through the bullshit and wears his heart on his sleeve. You want to know Robert Frank on a personal level? Just look at his photographs. The tales of heartache, loneliness, and life's difficulties are all there in black and white.

I love the painter Ad Reinhardt, but I have always thought he was wrong to write "art is art and life is life, that art is not life and that life is not art." In Mr. Frank's case, he separated from his first love, the sculptor and painter Mary Frank, in 1969. In 1974, the artist's daughter, Andrea, died in a plane crash. His son Pablo, long afflicted with mental illness, took his own life in 1994. When I look at Robert Frank's photographs such as "Blind/Love/Faith", 1981 and "Sick of Goodby's", 1978, I am touched. I am human again.

And so it is that I say a big thank you to Robert Frank. You've passed on the spiritual gift that only one artist can give to another - that of hope and encouragement. Tabula rasa. The unfailing belief in being free and creative. - PS

December 12, 2008

Revolutionary Road

With the holiday season comes the annual Hollywood lineup of Oscar contenders. The soon to be released Revolutionary Road, directed by Sam Mendes certainly seems like the proper dose of medicine during this time of manufactured cheer. The film is based upon Richard Yates' critically acclaimed novel, first published by Little, Brown and Company, Boston, 1961. It was subsequently selected as one of Time Magazine's 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to the present.

Revolutionary Road follows the lives of Frank and April Wheeler, an outspoken married couple (with two children) entering their thirties who have taken the well-traveled route of slowly transforming themselves from aspiring bohemians in New York City to living what seems in their minds to be a spirit-crushing existence in suburban Connecticut. The characters speak often of fighting conformity and living a meaningful existence of art and intellectual pursuit, but talk as they say is cheap. Near the end of the book, a shocking act by April Wheeler jolts readers to attention. Alas, it was already too late to rescue Frank from his chosen path of "mediocrity".

Here are a few passages:

"Intelligent, thinking people could take things like this in their stride, just as they took the larger absurdities of deadly dull jobs in the city and deadly dull homes in the suburbs. Economic circumstance might force you to live in this environment, but the important thing was to keep from being contaminated. The important thing, always, was to remember who you were."

"The point is it wouldn't be so bad if it weren't so typical. It isn't only the Donaldsons - it's the Cramers too, and the whaddyacallits, the Wingates, and a million others. It's all the idiots I ride with on the train every day. It's a disease. Nobody thinks or feels or cares any more; nobody gets excited or believes in anything except their own comfortable little God damn mediocrity."

"... Look at it this way. I need a job; okay. Is that any reason why the job I get has to louse me up? Look. All I want is to get enough dough coming in to keep us solvent for the next year or so, till I can figure things out; meanwhile I want to retain my own identity. Therefore the thing I'm most anxious to avoid is any kind of work that can be considered 'interesting' in its own right. I want something that can't possibly touch me. I want some big, swollen old corporation that's been bumbling along making money in its sleep for a hundred years, where they have to hire eight guys for every one job because none of them can be expected to care about whatever boring thing it is they're supposed to be doing. I want to go into that kind of place and say, Look. You can have my body and my nice college-boy smile for so many hours a day, in exchange for so many dollars, and beyond that we'll leave each other strictly alone. Get the picture?"

"Wow," he said. "Now you've said it. The hopeless emptiness. Hell, plenty of people are on to the emptiness part; out where I used to work, on the Coast, that's all we ever talked about. We'd sit around talking about emptiness all night. Nobody ever said 'hopeless,' though; that's where we'd all chicken out. Because maybe it does take a certain amount of guts to see the emptiness, but it takes a whole hell of a lot more to see the hopelessness. And I guess when you do see the hopelessness, that's when there's nothing to do but take off. If you can."

Mr. Yates' characters in Revolutionary Road certainly ring true and over the years, I feel that I have met a thousand other discontented Frank and April Wheelers in real life. What do you see when you look into a mirror? Whether you want to be a writer, a dancer, an actor, or a painter...ask yourself, do you have the strength and courage to see it through? Talk, romance, and even money carries you only so far. LIFE is known to field a hell of an opposing team. - PS

December 1, 2008

Double Take

Seen in NYC. Playground camel at First Park, Houston Street.

Stone camel statue, carved in the year 1435. Located on the Sacred Way to the Ming Tombs near Beijing, China. That's quite a lineage, isn't it?