February 2004 Archives

Our friend Jay Blotcher, a freelance writer, has been sacked as a stringer for the New York Times because he was involved with ACT UP over ten years ago.

Blotcher, who has been involved with gay and AIDS groups in the past, joined the newspaper as a stringer––a freelance reporter––in 2001 after he left New York City for the Hudson Valley. For much of his employment he contributed stories or reporting without ever getting a byline in the paper.

In late 2003, Blotcher published two stories and, under a new Times policy, his name appeared on those pieces. One story dealt with the trial of a woman who was accused of killing her three children. The second concerned some vandalism on a college campus.

“I never dealt with gay issues or AIDS issues,” Blotcher said.

Someone, an editor, another reporter, or a reader noted Blotcher’s name and recalled that he was once a member of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, or ACT UP.

“There was no complaint,” wrote Susan Edgerley, the Times metropolitan editor, in response to a Gay City News e-mail query. “We recognized the name from his work with ACT UP.”

That was it for Blotcher. On January 12, Lew Serviss, a Times editor, told him the paper would no longer use him in any section. When he appealed to Edgerley she responded, “I am setting the bar high to protect against any appearance of conflict of interest that might result through the hiring of stringers and leg-people. My motivation is expediency as well as ethics––we simply do not spend as much time checking into the backgrounds of independent contractors as we do of fulltime staff people.”

...

The real problem here is that The Times isn’t committed to its own ethics policy. Let’s look at just two Times reporters.

Lawrence K. Altman is a former employee of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and he regularly reports on that agency. Altman also sits on an advisory board that administers a CDC fellowship program. In other words, his relationship with the CDC continues. That would be an actual conflict of interest.

Bernard Weinraub covers the film industry in Los Angeles and his wife heads Columbia Pictures. A portion of their household income, probably the majority, comes from a major player in the industry Weinraub covers. That would also be an actual conflict of interest.

If The Times believed in its ethics policy then it would defend a Jay Blotcher when he follows that policy, but then the newspaper would have to do something about Weinraub and Altman. Neither man returned a phone call seeking comment.

The Times isn’t serious about ethics. The paper, to use Edgerley’s word, is concerned with “expediency.”

Updated: Atrios has more information on The Times's idea of ethics. Also, I see that this was mentioned in the Washington Post last week in Howard Kurtz's column.

There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

-- From September 1, 1939 by W.H. Auden

James and I went to an amazing concert by the Orchestra of St. Luke's on Thursday night. Go read his account.

Two of my mother's closest friends in the town where she lives, Conway, Arkansas, are a gay couple named John and Robert.

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John Schenck and Robert Loyd

There was an article about them in the local paper recently. I'm not crazy about how it's written, but the fact that it was given such prominence is pretty cool.

History

Schenck grew up in New York with five brothers. One brother would later hold Schenck's new boyfriend, Loyd, while another pistol whipped him. A football player, Schenck was beaten by several members of the team after rejecting sexual advances from one of the players. In 1969, Schenck participated in the Stonewall riots in New York, he told the class.

Loyd was born in Germany and came to America when he was 3 years old. He grew up in Damascus. His family has a strong military background. Loyd denounced his German citizenship when he was 18 to join the United States Army. He fought in Vietnam.

During an earlier interview, Loyd discussed fighting for his rights. He was naive, Loyd said, and later felt like some of the rights he fought for seemed to be jerked away.

"I was born with those rights," Loyd said to the class.

"My life is about all of us being equal and sharing equally in the burden of life, or the joys of life," Loyd said.

The couple celebrated 29 years together Jan. 19.

My mother just e-mailed me:

My friends are having a wedding ceremony Sunday on the steps of the State Capitol. While I was there this afternoon they got permission to gather there from the Secretary of State's office. There was a problem at first getting permission because the Boy Scouts have a gathering there at same time. They have been talking with ACLU and the Arkansas Diversity Assoc. about being there in support as the news media have been notified.

We went to a couple of openings on Wednesday night. James has the details.

For the people out there that read me using an RSS reader (I recommend bloglines), I have added a feed that gives my full posts plus any comments. I did the same for James.

RSS 1.0 full feed for bloggy

RSS 1.0 full feed for jameswagner.com

I got the template for the feed here, via Nicole/The Go Fish.

Aargh. It's bad enough that Bush wants to "protect" marriage:

Marriage cannot be severed from its cultural, religious and natural roots without weakening the good influence of society. Government, by recognizing and protecting marriage, serves the interests of all. Today I call upon the Congress to promptly pass, and to send to the states for ratification, an amendment to our Constitution defining and protecting marriage as a union of man and woman as husband and wife. The amendment should fully protect marriage, while leaving the state legislatures free to make their own choices in defining legal arrangements other than marriage.

America is a free society, which limits the role of government in the lives of our citizens. This commitment of freedom, however, does not require the redefinition of one of our most basic social institutions. Our government should respect every person, and protect the institution of marriage. There is no contradiction between these responsibilities. We should also conduct this difficult debate in a manner worthy of our country, without bitterness or anger.

In all that lies ahead, let us match strong convictions with kindness and goodwill and decency.

But we also have to listen to the press lying about what the amendment would do:

Mr. Bush was not specific today about the wording he would like to see Congress adopt in beginning the constitutional-amendment process. He did not, for instance, mention legislation proposed by Representative Marilyn Musgrave, Republican of Colorado.

The amendment that Ms. Musgrave and other lawmakers are backing in the House says: "Neither this Constitution or the constitution of any state, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups." The White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, said just before the president's announcement that Mr. Bush believed the Musgrave measure "meets his principles."

Most reasonable analyses of the Musgrave language state that it would ban civil unions as well, overturning even existing law. Here is a writeup from Yale Law professor Jack Balkin, and one from FAIR.

Do not trust the mainstream media to tell you the truth about this.

One last thought. The Democrats' (including Kerry and Edwards but not Kucinich) position on this, one of "we don't support gay marriage but we don't support the amendment either" is bullshit. This kind of splitting hairs is revolting when we're talking about civil rights, and they're going to be painted as homo-loving liberals by the GOP no matter what they do. Why not take a principled position rather than some stupid focus group-created one? I will hold my nose and vote for the Democratic candidate, but I can't say I'm excited about it, unless a miracle happens and we get Kucinich.

[A couple of links in this post are via Atrios/Eschaton.]

The last time I posted about the Education Secretary, he was praising "Christian Values" in the schools. Now he says the teachers union is a terrorist organization:

Education Secretary Rod Paige called the nation’s largest teachers union a "terrorist organization" during a private White House meeting with governors on Monday.

Democratic and Republican governors confirmed the education’s secretary’s remarks about the National Education Association.

"These were the words, 'The NEA is a terrorist organization,'" said Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle of Wisconsin.


Is anyone else using Time Warner's DVR (Digital Video Recorder), kind of like Tivo?

Ours is having trouble telling time. It keeps starting things a little early and cutting off the last couple of minutes. I've taken to recording the thing right after a program if it really matters to me, just in case.

Is anyone else seeing this? I fear entering the maze of Time Warner Cable support again.

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We visited several things of note today. One closed today (Barbara Pollack at Sara Meltzer), but the others are still up.

First, Barbara Pollack, from the press release:

Video Wall: Sara Meltzer Gallery is proud to present Barbara Pollack's AIM. In this 3-channel video, four teenagers converse via AOL Instant Messenger. The monitors show the faces of the four participants—two boys and two girls—as they react and respond to this digital conversation. This video stems from an off-handed remark, "We don’t flirt at school, we wait until we get home and then IM each other," made by the son of the artist. In order to capture the humor, spontaneity and frankness of these conversations about sex and dating, Pollack used micro-cameras, a type of surveillance equipment now readily available and frequently used by parents to keep an eye on their children. The work demonstrates the impenetrability of the adolescent experience, even in this era when all forms of privacy seem to have been eliminated.

The gallery's next show looks quite interesting: Andrea Bowers's " Nonviolent Civil Disobedience Training" and "Damage" from Type A. We have a few videos of Type A, plus a diptych from the Twins Project.

I have mentioned Hiraki Sawa in the past.

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HIRAKI SAWA Migration
2003 Digital video on DVD 7 minute 10 second loop

He has three new videos at James Cohan. I will probably go back to see them again. They are quite wonderful.

Francis Cape's new show opens tonight at Murray Guy. I love his architecturally-inspired art, and I'm not even that into architecture.

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Slater Bradley, You're In High School Again, 2003-04, chromogenic print, 40 x 60 inches

Slater Bradley's "STONED & DETHRONED", his homage to Kurt Cobain show, opens tonight at Team Gallery. I found it really moving, and not just because I lived in Seattle in 1992. The press release/essay is brilliant. Also, Mr. Bradley curated a group show at Wallspace gallery that should be worth a visit. I haven't been yet.

Finally, the site hasn't been updated for the current show, but Axis Gallery has a group show of photography from South Africa. I love the gallery, and it's a great show. Go!

[Updated: a helpful person gave me the link to the Slater Bradley press release.]

Some interesting things I've read today:

Michael Bierut on The Final Decline and Total Collapse of the American Magazine Cover -- with a discussion of classic George Lois Esquire covers from the 60s, like the one with Muhammad Ali as St. Sebastian.

Tyler Green with tips and suggestions for galleries, inspired by this discussion at one of my new favorite weblogs, art.blogging.la.

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Betty Bowers on the Governor Perry homo rumors.

My friend Lisa will be visiting Gotham with her mother and sister soon, and since I volunteered to make some restaurant recommendations, I thought I would post them here for public consumption/future reference. Comments welcome. I will update this occasionally, and probably make it into something more filter/search-able eventually. As you can see, I have a bias towards restaurants south of 23rd Street, as do all reasonable people.

In somewhat random order, with favorites closer to the top

Lupa [Village]
Moderately-priced, excellent Italian
170 Thompson Street (between Houston and Bleecker)
212-982-5089

Bistrot Margot [NoLiTa/East Soho]
Inexpensive, casual French
26 Prince St (between Mott and Elizabeth)
212-274-1027

Fleur de Sel [Flatiron]
Excellent creative French with moderate prices at lunch, expensive at dinner. The owner, Cyril, is one of my favorite restaurant people in New York, and the restaurant is quite comfortable and unstuffy.
5 East 20th (between Fifth Ave and Broadway)
212-460-9100

The Odeon [Tribeca]
One of our reliable restaurants for years, especially for late-night or mid-afternoon dining. Great fries and chocolate pudding.
145 West Broadway (between Thomas and Duane)
212-233-0507

Walls [West Village]
Brilliant nouvelle Austrian restaurant. Expensive, but worth visiting when you can afford it. The best time to go is when they are having an Austrian Wine Dinner on Monday nights. $80 for a five-course/five-wine meal here is an incredible bargain. Dinner only.
344 West 11th Street (at Washinton Street)
212-352-2300

Union Square Cafe
A NYC classic. Expensive, but with an excellent mix of casualness and attentive service with great food.
21 East 16th St. (between Fifth Ave and Union Square)
212-243-4020

Esca [Theatre District]
Southern Italian/Seafood. Brilliant, a bit expensive, but a great wine list and fabulous fish.
402 West 43rd St. (at Ninth Ave)
212-564-7272

Savoy [Soho]
Creative cooking with an emphasis on seasonal ingredients. Excellent, inobstrusive service and a casual environment. You can eat here for a moderate bill or spend a lot of money.
70 Prince St. (between Crosby and Lafayette)
212-219-8570

Raga [East Village]
Indian/French/American fusion. Good food, and moderately priced with a wine list that works with the food.
433 East 6th Street (between Ave A and First Ave)
212-388-0957

Florent [West Village/Meat Packing]
It's open 24 hours again! My backup restaurant in the meat packing district, easily reachable by cab when you can't think of another place, or they're all closed because it's late. Cash only!
69 Gansevoort St.
Between Greenwich and Washington
(Two blocks south of 14th Street)
212-989-5779

Bar Jamon/Casa Mono [Gramercy Park]
Two places: a "ham bar" with great snacks including Spanish ham and wines by the glass, plus a more tapas-y restaurant. Like Lupa and Esca, part of the Batali/Bastianich empire. Moderate prices, great wine lists.
17th Street and Irving Place
212-253-2773

[Update: I added info about Walls's wine dinners.]

I don't feel so hot, so posting is limited at the moment. Here is an interview with Melissa James Gibson, the playwright who wrote [sic] (which we loved) and now Suitcase, both produced at Soho Rep. We saw it last week and really enjoyed it, as did the rather actorly (Nina Hellman of The Civilans, David Greenspan, etc.) audience. Apparently, I should have written about this earlier, as tickets just went from $15 to $35. Still, it's probably worth going, and certainly is more worth your time than any Broadway crap.

There is an amazing, weird, disjointed quality to the dialogue in her plays. I had thought it was the way they are directed, but now that I've read the interview and seen an excerpt of the latest play, I realize that's the way they're written.

From the interview:

Rail: The idiosyncratic punctuation that you use for the character lines seems to offer an alternative to the more clichéd aspects of psychology in theater. Instead of rendering articulations of "emotion," your characters seem to follow a musical score; one that expresses more ephemeral aspects of inner thought through pattern and rhythm. How did you begin to use these stylistic conventions?

Gibson: I was just finding, more and more, that proper sentences and punctuation weren’t adequately expressing what was in my head, in terms of dialogue. Punctuation has its place, of course, but it can lessen the degree to which subtlety and contradiction and ambivalence reside in verbal communication. And since a play is a blueprint for an oral form, it just makes more sense to me, for my work, to keep the language open to the switching of tracks it must constantly accommodate. I’ve come to rely on carefully chosen capitalization, line breaks and what I half-jokingly call "actor intention tips," which basically alert the actor to the fact that the intention behind the line may be at odds with what actually is said. In terms of the rhythms of the words, I do sort of think of the line breaks as thought breaks. For me, these are just another signal to the actor about the patterns inside a character’s head. Obviously, I’m borrowing some of the tools of poetry and music, though I am, much to my sadness, neither a poet nor a musician. So maybe it’s like I’m operating a power saw without wearing safety goggles.

Rail: There is also a strong thread of narrative fragmentation running through your pieces. Your characters are often collecting found objects, listening to voices in the stairwell, seeing snippets of home video through windows. The stories are never really beginning or ending.

Gibson: Well, lives don’t behave. We are porous and susceptible beings and even when our intentions are definite we ineluctably veer. The veering is what interests me— that and the secret conversation that underlies every out loud one. I just feel such great affection for the evidence of our tragic, silly, smart and stupid selves.

Here is a sample of the play:

(Ring ring. Jen turns down the volume on the tape player and answers the phone.)

SALLIE
Is it
Bleaker or more bleak I can
never remember that rule Bleaker
doesn’t even sound like a word
when you say it in
isolation Try saying it Bleaker Bleaker Bleaker
Ew there’s a guy outside clipping his
toenails into the sewer Jen
are you there

JEN
I’m here I thought
you might be my advisor

SALLIE
Did you hear from your advisor

JEN
She’s trying to
Reach Me

(Sallie’s gaze has landed on an apartment in the building across the way, where the film is showing again. Sallie picks up a pair of binoculars and looks through them as she continues to converse. We see what she sees, a section of home movies from circa 1940:

A little girl, her father and her mother are sledding. The father wears a suit and overcoat, while the mother wears heels and a fur. They all take a turn on the sled.)

SALLIE
How do you know

JEN
She’s left
Messages

SALLIE
Uh oh

JEN
And yesterday I received a
Letter

(SLIGHT PAUSE.)

JEN
Are you there

SALLIE
Sorry I got distracted
Someone across the way is watching some old
footage What did you receive

JEN
A letter Old
footage

SALLIE
Home movies or
something What
sort of letter

JEN
She wanted to know where things
stood dissertation-wise

SALLIE
What did you tell her

JEN
It was a letter Sallie

SALLIE
(focused on the film)
Oh right
Isn’t it beautiful Jen I mean is
there anything more beautiful Jen than
people who dress in blatant disregard of their
circumstances

JEN
Oh I don’t know blatancy is problematic if you ask me Blatancy makes me
nervous She
said she was going through a messy divorce

SALLIE
Who

JEN
My advisor In her letter

SALLIE
That’s too bad

JEN
So she’s trying to straighten out her affairs so
to speak

SALLIE
So she can focus her energy on her messy
divorce

JEN
I guess She said attachment is a
nasty business

(SLIGHT PAUSE.)

That’s a quote from her letter Attachment
Is A Nasty Business

Brooklyn Rail has a John Waters interview. Given that it's not the NY Times, it's a bit more about art than the other one.

Waters: Andy Warhol used to say his movies were better to think about than see. Well, this is true here too. In Eat Your Makeup there’s a scene that’s important where we do the entire Kennedy assassination, where Divine plays Jackie. Two years after it happened we shot it and people were really pissed off about it.

Rail: Just like after 9/11, you couldn’t do anything that related to it in content without being "respectful of the tragedy" or else you’re suddenly a national traitor and "unpatriotic."

Waters: Yup. And that’s what I’m saying, it was almost like that. Oh Andy [Warhol] would have. Andy would have done a beautiful painting of that— I think he would have. The rest of Eat Your Makeup is all right. It has some good stuff in it, but it’s a 40 minute film that should have been 15 minutes. I learned that as I went along. Now they can’t stop me from cutting. My movies now would be 10 minutes long if they didn’t stop me in the editing room. Just the good parts! That’s what this photo work is. Sometimes the good part is 1/24 of a frame. That’s really cutting it down. (Laughs).

I'm a city boy. In the big cities they've set it up so you can go to a park and be in a miniature countryside, but in the countryside they don't have any patches of big city, so I get very homesick.

-- Andy Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol

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Chalk Elephant, 2003
Fernando Carabajal
Chalk & glue

We saw work by this young artist on our trip to Mexico City. The gallery, Nina Menocal, has now put up a few images of his work. There aren't any good details of his drawings, but the photo of the table gives you a feel for how the project room looked.

We all have our own ideas about what constitutes obscenity.

Congress, FCC Focus on Pay Television Indecency

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John McCain urged cable and satellite companies to offer parents the ability to pick and choose what channels they get so they can protect their children from violence, sex and profanity, an idea that resonated with other lawmakers and regulators.

...

But lawmakers also heard that federal power to enforce decency standards on subscription cable and satellite service was limited compared to material on the public broadcast airwaves.

"It seems interesting that we say ... if it's on just a higher channel number, which you can get just by clicking your channel changer, we're going to ignore it and not pay attention to it," Sen. John Breaux, a Louisiana Democrat, said.

"We ought to look at the whole spectrum of what we get over our televisions," he said.

Suicide Car Bomb Kills 47 at Iraqi Army Center [Rumsfeld says it's just human nature.]

A suicide car bomb killed 47 people at an army recruitment center in Baghdad Wednesday, taking the death toll to about 100 in two attacks on Iraqis working with the U.S. occupation forces within 24 hours.

9/11 Panel to Access to Edited Memos [emphasis mine]

The federal commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks will get greater access to classified intelligence briefings prepared for President Bush under an agreement announced Tuesday with the White House.

The 10-member, bipartisan panel had been barred from reviewing notes taken by three commissioners and the commission's executive director, Philip Zelikow, who reviewed the data in December but couldn't take the summaries with them. Under the agreement, the entire commission were allowed to read versions of the summaries that were edited by the White House.

White House lied about Al Quaeda Nuclear Plant Threat

The White House stepped back from a high-profile assertion by President Bush, in his January 2002 State of the Union Address, that U.S. forces had uncovered evidence of a potential attack against an American nuclear facility.

In the speech, Mr. Bush warned of a terrorist threat to the nation, saying that the U.S. had found "diagrams of American nuclear power plants" in Afghanistan.

Coming just months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks -- and as U.S. forces were on the hunt for al Qaeda in Afghanistan -- the statement was offered as evidence of the depth of antipathy among Islamic extremists, and of "the madness of the destruction they design."

"Our discoveries in Afghanistan confirmed our worst fears," Mr. Bush told Congress and the nation in the televised speech. He said "we have found" diagrams of public water facilities, instructions on how to make chemical arms, maps of U.S. cities and descriptions of U.S. landmarks, in addition to the nuclear-plant plans.

Monday night, the White House defended the warnings about Islamic extremist intentions, but said the concerns highlighted by Mr. Bush were based on intelligence developed before and after the Sept. 11 attacks, and that no plant diagrams were actually found in Afghanistan. "There's no additional basis for the language in the speech that we have found," a senior administration official said.

Via Talk Left, I learn that the government seems to be backing down a bit on the whole peace activism = terrorism thing. I'm sure it's because of the post James did.

I'm thinking about attending this. Are any of my readers? Have any of you been to it before?

Several Cuban musicians were nominated for Grammies (Grammys?) Most of them couldn't attend the ceremony because the USA denied them visas.

US authorities have refused to let five Cuban Grammy Awards nominees travel to Sunday's ceremony in Los Angeles.

Musicians up for best tropical Latin album award - including veteran star Ibrahim Ferrer - have not got visas.

Ferrer, 77, told press in the capital Havana: "I am not a terrorist. I couldn't be one. I am a musician."

A US diplomat in Havana said the US administration could suspend the entry of people deemed to be "detrimental to the interest of the United States".

...

Ferrer is the best-known of the nominees after appearing in 1999's Buena Vista Social Club film. He recently won BBC Radio 3's world music award for best artist from the Americas.

The other artists to be refused visas are Guillermo Rubalcaba, Amadito Valdes, Barbarito Torres and the group Septeto Nacional Ignacio Pineiro.

But pianist Chucho Valdes, nominated for best Latin jazz album, has been granted a visa.

Land of the Free?

Mim Udovith interviews John Waters for the NY Times.

UDOVITCH Do you think it's harder to be transgressive now than it used to be?

WATERS I've never tried to be. Transgressive — does that mean you change how people look at things? That would be the greatest flattery anyone could say to me. But I'm just setting out to do what I always do. First, I do it for myself. And then, maybe when you go to the movies after looking at my pictures, you can make your own movies in your mind. You can watch something and say well, that image could go here. You don't have to like the movie. You can look at the lamps.

...

UDOVITCH Do you feel you have any mentors?

WATERS Tennessee Williams made me realize that everything they told me in school was a lie and I didn't have to pay attention to it. Warhol certainly influenced me when he so wisely put homosexuality and drugs together, finally, where they belonged. Little Richard, because I wanted to be the white him in the hippie world. That's why I have this mustache. And Jean Genet, of course. I don't even remember that I named Divine after the character in "Our Lady of the Flowers," but I'm sure I did. They made me have the nerve to do what I wanted to do, so that I didn't care that I didn't fit in, that nobody else really liked what I liked when I was growing up.

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John Waters
Jackie Copies Divine's Look
2001

We went to the John Waters opening at the New Museum Saturday night. See the Holland Cotter NY Times review here.

It's the last show before it closes and work begins on the new building on the Bowery. I saw him a few times, but I didn't talk with him. I'll go back to watch the early films they're showing. I did see Gary Indiana, Andres Serrano, and many other artists and writers, including a few people from his films, plus many more who looked like they belonged in one. I heard Patty Hearst was there but I didn't see her.

It was a more interesting, and younger, crowd, than other New Museum events I have attended. I loved that the second floor was left empty for the big crowd to just have drinks and hang out. Every opening should have such a luxury of space.

This reminds me of an amusing John Waters story. In the early 1990s James and I saw Romper Stomper at Film Forum. It's a pretty disturbing movie about racist skinheads in Australia, with plenty of violence. If it hadn't had Russell Crowe in it, I doubt I would have gone to see it. During a lot of the worst violence, I could hear the person sitting right behind me giggling. When the lights came up I turned around to see who this idiot/madman might be. I wasn't annoyed anymore, in fact I was quite pleased, when that person turned out to be John Waters.

One other item: his new art book is amusing.

If this isn't police state behavior, I don't know what is. Lifted from Kos, go there for more info. The FBI-Joint Terrorism Task Force is asserting a right to compel peace activists (including the Catholic Peace Ministry in Des Moines) to appear before a secret grand jury without a lawyer.

Yesterday, February 3, Detective Jeff Warford of the Polk County Sheriff's Office-FBI-Joint Terrorism Task Force came to Catholic Peace Ministry's office here in Des Moines with a subpoena for me to testify before a Federal Grand Jury next Tuesday, February 10. Mr. Warford also served papers on Elton Davis at the Catholic Worker House and Patti McKee, who was coordinator of Iowa Peace Network until last month. The Grand Jury process is shrouded in secrecy. We do not know who or what the object of this investigation may be, beyond "possible violations of federal criminal law in the Southern District of Iowa."

The proceeding will be behind closed doors. We may not have an attorney present. We have the right to plead the Fifth Amendment, refusing the answer questions that might incriminate us. The government, then, can offer us immunity from prosecution, in which case we will obliged to answer under threat of contempt of court and could be imprisoned for the length of the Grand Jury session, 18 months, should we continue to refuse to answer. This immunity would be limited to our own testimony and anything any of us say could be used against the others.

Whatever is going on, this is definitely an escalation on the part of the government's war on dissent and clamp down on civil liberties. The fact that anything that we three and the peacemaking communities we represent could possibly attract the notice of a "Terrorism Task Force" is reprehensible. Please spread the word, express concerns you have with Federal and Polk County authorities. Keep us in mind and prayer.

Brian Terrell
Executive Director
Catholic Peace Ministry

Salon has a goood article by Eric Boehlert on where the evidence stands on Bush's "disappearance" from the Texas National Guard. Click on the day pass, and watch an ad, to see the whole thing, It's worth it.

Tyler Green points out an interesting fact:

Matthew Barney's The Cremaster Cycle wasn't the Krensian success that the Guggenheim (and a compliant press corps) had claimed. Here's why: Cremaster drew 3,151 visitors a day to the GuggEnron. Meanwhile, the show immediately after Cremaster drew 3,314 visitors a da, outdrawing Cremaster by over 100 people a day. What outdrew Cremaster? A permanent collection hanging.

I have made some minor edits to my Mexico City posts, to add names of places and artists that I hadn't taken the time to figure out while we were there.

James has added captions to the photo gallery for the trip.

In the taxi on our way home from the airport on Wednesday night, James turned to me and said, "I guess we're not on the no-fly list!"

I apologize for not being more interesting or analytical in my posts. I think I did a better job when we were in Germany. Several things were going on: We were both sick with cold/sinus things in Mexico City, and the 8,000 feet elevation and smog didn't help. The other was the exhaustion caused by sensory overload. There is so much to see, hear, smell, and taste in a place like Mexico City. That's a good thing, but it meant I felt too worn out to write well after returning to the hotel each night.

As an antidote to the "liberal media" like the New York Times that just refer to the panel's co-chair, David Niewert has compiled some useful information.

Some highlights:

-- Overturning the Iran-Contra conviction of Oliver North on specious grounds.

-- Blocking the Clinton legal team's attempts to track down the leaks emanating from Starr's office and blocking any attempts at discovery in the matter.

-- Accusing Clinton of "declaring war on the United States" by trying to shield Secret Service agents from being forced to testify against Clinton.

Lovely:

An American Airlines pilot flying passengers to New York asked Christians on board to identify themselves and suggested the non-Christians discuss the faith with them.

Flight 34 was headed from Los Angeles to John F. Kennedy Airport on Friday afternoon. During the pilot's routine announcements, he asked Christians on board to raise their hands. He then suggested the other passengers use the flight time to talk to the identified Christians about their faith. And, lastly, told them he would be available at the end of the flight to talk about his announcement.

Airline officials are investigating the incident, and they say the company has guidelines about appropriate behavior. The pilot whose name has not been released had just returned to work from a week-long mission trip to Costa Rica.

We've been to a few openings since we returned from Mexico City. Recommendations:

East of the Sun and West of the Moon, curated by Amie Scally at White Columns (no images up yet). We were there for the opening, which is not the best way to judge a show, but my favorite pieces in the show were the paintings by Clare Rojas. I found a web page with images of her work to give you an idea here. The other highlight at White Columns is the White Room show by William Crow. We finally met this charming young artist in person, after having gotten in touch with him when we bough some of his work at the Cynthia Broan $99 show.

The other show we attended last night was David Hilliard at Yancey Richardson. His multi-image works are technically brilliant and somehow haunting, as if they have narrative content that we can't quite guess.

The night before (Thursday) we went to the opening for Robert Beck at CRG Gallery. It's a pretty conceptual show, so you will want to read the press release, and maybe talk with Glenn McMillan, which is what I always do when I go. Even without the conceptual content, the pieces in the show are beautifully constructed objects.

On our last day we explored more of the downtown area. We went to the Palacio Nacional (National Palace), on the Zócalo, to see the great murals of Diego Rivera, the rooms where Benito Juarez lived, and the parliament room (I think that's the right name). There are some images of the Rivera murals here. Oops, I just realized I never talked about the Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of Fine Arts). It is filled with great murals by Rivera, Siqueiros, and Orozco. It has halls for performances, like Lincoln Center, but it is amazing to see that the murals are all very left wing, with images of Marx, and attacks on capitalists. I think Lincoln Center could use a few of those.

We also saw the Cathedral (including women selling "relics", bits of a saint's skulll from a table set up inside, and the Templo Mayor. In the same area, and definitely worth a visit, is the Plaza Santo Domingo, surrounded by very old buildings. It is also the location of an arcade with "scribes", all equipped with typewriters to help people compose letters, or fill out official forms. I was surprised to see they were all (except one) using electric ones now. The last time I had read an article on the area, they talked about old manual ones.

We had a great lunch at Casa de las Sirenas, Guatemala 61, just behind the Cathedral. It is in 17th century building. James has some photos of it.

My post on Coyoacán was rather short, as I was exhausted at the time. I forgot to mention one of the really interesting dishes I had that day: Chiles en nogada (stuffed poblano chiles with walnut sauce). It's slightly sweet and very yummy. There is a recipe on the web site of Zarela Restaurant in NYC, so you can see all of the ingredients. We had it at Las Lupitas, a restaurant in Coyoacán on a beautiful square (Plaza Santa Caterina). One the plaza is a small church, Iglesia de Santa Caterina, with glass in its triple-arched facade, so that one can see all the way into the church from outside.

I saw a hummingbird on our room balcony this morning. My cough is better, but now James has it.

We walked over to Colonia Roma today, the area where most galleries are located. The only thing of note we saw was a show of wooden sculptures and "paintings" by a German artist named Stephan Balkenhol at Galería OMR (the web page is iffy on some browsers). The gallery is in a big rambling house on the Plaza de Río de Janeiro. Some of the floors are pretty slanted, so I'm starting to associated seeing contemporary art with fun houses. Perhaps that's appropriate.

stephane-balkenhol.gif

Stephan Balkenhol
Relieve (mujer), 2004
Painted wood, 140 x 100 x 4.5 cm.

We then had a great nouvelle Mexican lunch at Tecla (Durango 186-A Col. Roma, Tel. 55-25-4920). For the foodies in the room, I took notes on our meal:

Appetizers

Jaibas rellenos sobre pimientos salteados con jengibre y jalapeño
(stuffed crabs on a pepper sauce with ginger and jalapeño)

Tlacoyo con puntas de cecina y nopal
(white tortilla with bits of cured meat and cactus)

Main courses
Filete de pescado rellono de flor de calabaza en salsa de cuitlacoche
(Sea bass stuffed with squash blossoms and a cuitlacoche (corn fungus) sauce

Rollo de camaron relleno de queso crema y nuez sobre salse de chile morita
(Shrimp roll - made of grilled shrimp and nothing else! - filled with cream cheese/nuts sauce on a chile morita sauce)

The sea bass also came with fried parsley and fried bits of beets. The shrimp roll came with rice and the beets. They looked like little red sparkly things, similar to the beetles used to dye traditional rugs here.

Dessert
Mousse de guanabana con salse de mango
(Prickly pear mousse with mango sauce)

Crepas con cajeta y nuez
(corn crepes with dulce de leche - a caramel-like sauce) and nuts

We had a bottle of Diamante Rioja with the meal. It was a semi-dulce (semi-sweet) wine. I didn't know there were such Rioja wines.

Today we started at the Franz Meyer Museum, which is dedicated to decorative arts, mainly from the 17th-19th centuries. It is in a large building with a beautiful courtyard. My favorite part of the history in the brochure is that Emperor Maximilian decided it would be used for the medical care of prostitutes. There are some great pieces of art and furniture in the museum, and we were especially interested in pieces created in Mexico during the colonial period. There were some c.1800 chairs from Puebla that looked like mid-20th century modernist furniture. We also saw an outrageous painting titled El Niño Jesús by Nicolás Rodriguez Jauraez. It had a sad baby Jesus looking at the viewer after pricking himself with the crown of thorns. He was surrounded by implements of the crucifixion: the whipping post, the lance, a stick with the vinegar-soaked sponge, etc. Here is a different painting by him.

We also saw an Alvar Aalto show at Franz Meyer. Many of the museums and art spaces here devoted to "older" art also have spaces for more contemporary exhibitions. I think it's a great idea.

After the museum we walked to the Zócalo - the central square of Mexico City. Only Red Square in Moscow is larger. On the way there we looked at the Hotel de Cortés, in a 1660 building with a central courtyard (of course) on the Alameda Central. The hotel restaurant has tables in the courtyard, and there were bird cages on the walls and along the walks, with canaries, finches, parakeets, and parrots. The wild birds in the area (like sparrows or small doves) would fly up to the cages and "talk" to them.

We got to the Zócal just in time to watch the military come take down the gigantic Mexican flag that flies in the center. That's what the photos of soldiers in James's gallery are. We then walked around, looking briefly at the Temple Mayor and all of the vendors. My favorite sight was the one selling superhero dolls and crucifixes next to each other on the same blanquet.

At the hotel, when we were on our way out for tacos with Maria and Gustavo, we saw the crowd from a Jewish wedding. There was some serious couture on the older ladies.

We finished the evening with a drink at the "bar on the water" in the hotel. You'll see it in James's Camino Real gallery. I finally had a glass of Mexican wine, a Monte Xanic Chenin-Colombard, which was quite nice.

This page is an archive of entries from February 2004 listed from newest to oldest.

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