Nick Lowe is a visual artist who lives and works in Los Angeles, making drawings and paintings. His exhibition “a streetlight, a water bottle, a tube of paint, or a dog” was recently on view at Grice Bench in Los Angeles last fall. His work is included in several public collections including the Hammer Museum in L.A. and the Thomas J. Watson Library at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Historically, many “Consumer Reports” have been podcast-heavy. Lowe’s L.A. week is no different, and perhaps ups the game for selection and variety. Everything from science to international urban planning and development to the indie rock band Guided By Voices gets covered, all in podcast form. But the consumption does not stop there: museums and galleries are visited, movies are watched, and a deep dive into fan-made Star Wars ceramics is conducted over the internet. All that and more, below. —John Chiaverina
Monday, January 29
Got up and listened to a Science Friday podcast while I was walking my dog. I had started listening to one last night entitled “music and language, jellyfish, and crystals.”
My favorite segment of the show was about jellyfish. Juli Berwald was on talking about Spineless: The Science of the Jellyfish and the Art of Growing a Backbone. I was riveted- learned lots of great facts, such as:
1.) There is a jellyfish off the coast of Japan (Nomura’s jellyfish) that weighs 500 pounds. It is a nuisance to fishermen and a danger to swimmers.
3.) There is a jellyfish that is immortal. It is the size of a fingernail.
The last segment on the show was about crystals. They talked about the 2017 USCGC Crystal Growing Competion.
There was also a Cool Crystal Competition; the winner cracked a highlighter marker and put the juice of the highlighter marker into his crystal and it glowed when a uv light was placed on it, but looked clear otherwise. Crystals are judged for size, clarity, and shape.
Get to the studio. It takes me a half an hour. Stuck in traffic. Listen to an interview with Paul Thomas Anderson on Fresh Air about making the Phantom Thread. Rochele and I saw that movie this weekend. It was incredible.
Listened to “Rick Flair Drip” with Offset and Metro Boomin. I will listen to any rap song that has a reference to professional wrestling. Write this term down in my notes: Professional Referencing.
Driving home from the studio. Listened to an interview with Iain Sinclair in the car on the podcast Notebook on Cities and Culture. Sinclair is talking about how London has changed over the years, how it’s changing in the way that most metropolitan cities are changing these days with luxury developments, but then also how it’s changed since the time of Charles Dickens. Charles Dickens would walk 15 miles daily, usually during the night, and talk to night watchmen and “low lifes.” The term “low lifes” was used a lot during the program—the word dates back to 1911, and according to Wikipedia, refers to “thieves, drug dealers, hustlers, free loaders, scammers, gangsters, drug users, alcoholics, thugs, prostitutes, pimps, criminals, and troubled teenagers associated with and evolved in the aforementioned activities.” Sinclair talks about how these people existed in East London in the late 1800s/early 1900s.
I realize there is a “create a book” feature in the sidebar of Wikipedia, which I had never realized before.
Put away the dishes and did a little cleaning around the kitchen; listened to a sizable chunk of Destination Failure by the Smoking Popes and three tracks from Bivouac by Jawbreaker.
Rochele is at her writing group so I’m watching TV alone before bed—I figure I should try to watch something that we couldn’t watch together, like a horror movie or a movie she’s seen before. I end up watching an episode of Nirvana the Band the Show which people have been raving about but I haven’t been able to get into. Matt Johnson and Jay McCarrol are massive talents, old school show business, song and dance men. It’s pretty funny and feels like a different kind of show, but I’m still not into it. It has a narrative thread, but a lot of people who are in the show are just people on the street that get folded into the narrative because Canada has very relaxed hidden camera laws. The show is half vérité, half single-camera sitcom. Can’t watch more than one of this show in one sitting—it’s too manic. I start watching Dallas Buyers club, which is great, but I’m still a little sick and I’ve been mildly sick on and off for more than a month; right now I’ve been taking antibiotics. I make a plan to finish watching the movie when my health is back to normal. Rochele’s already seen it. Read from the book It Came from Bob’s Basement, about Bob Burns, who is famous for being active in the monster/sci-fi movie community (he was a photographer for Famous Monsters of Filmland). This book detailed the evolution his large collection of sci-fi props—some of the props are incredible. He has the stop-motion armature used in the King Kong movie, the original Creature from the Black Lagoon costume, and the masks from the aliens in the Mos Eisley Canteen from the Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.
Wake up. I was throwing up all last night but then drifted back to sleep. Just waking up now. My legs and neck are aching. I check my email on my phone while still in bed. Most of the email I get is junk. I have 50,008 emails in the inbox; one of my new year’s resolutions for 2018 is to get to the ever elusive inbox 0. I figure I could just start deleting 1,000 emails a day it would only take me a little over two months. I would just keep the emails I needed. I read the poem-a-day email, which I get from Poets.org. I rationalize that it helps focus me and keeps me from diving into the internet trash heap. Take my temperature; I have a fever.
Laying in bed all day. I eventually doze off, then wake up, eat some saltines and drink some 7 Up, then watch Fruitvale Station. Great movie but feel like my nerves were raw—it was the saddest thing ever. Was crying the same way I cry when I watch movies on an airplane, but I think this story may have actually warranted the tears.
After the movie got up and wrote the rent check. I took Max on a walk, dropped the rent off at the post office, and walked to a liquor store on York to get some more saltines and 7 Up. Listened to a playlist while I walked with Max.
1.) Masta P “Mr. Ice Cream Man”
2.) Soulja Slim “Love Me or Love Me Not”
3.) Yuk Mouth “Still Ballin”
4.) C Murder “They Don’t Really Know You”
5.) Silkk the Shocker “Just Be Straight With Me”
6.) Celly Cel “It’s Going Down Tonight”
7.) Devin the Dude “See What I Can Pull”
The only saltines they had were Zestas, which is the Keebler brand. I’ve only ever had Premium saltines before. I was worried they might be too harsh to eat, like they might have some “zest” to them as the name implies, but they were fine albeit a little stale from probably sitting on the shelf for a while. Also got a bottle of 7 Up.
Poked around there for a while. Bookmarked the site for a return visit. Found a silkscreen of Schwarzenegger by Warhol next to a Keith Haring drawing.
Opened up an email from the Daily Challenge. As part of my health insurance, I get emails about little things I can do daily to keep healthy. This one details wrist stretches to help counteract some of the damage that can be done typing on a keyboard all the time.
Listened to Civilizations Dying by the Zero Boys.
It came up on the shuffle. Looked up Zero Boys on Wikipedia. All I knew is that they were from Indianapolis. I got a link to a trailer to a 1986 movie called the Zero Boys on YouTube that looks like an ’80s action/slasher hybrid. Hans Zimmer did the score for this movie.
Looked at the new exhibit of Allan Kaprow paintings at Hauser and Wirth. Surprisingly good, but I always tend to be a fan of early work of artists, especially the paintings and the drawings. Fast paintings, one shot, quick paintings, get in and get out, not labored over. A lot of paintings of the George Washington Bridge. They also had some “Action Collages” which seem like were gateways to happenings. Took the paintings I liked, dragged them onto the desktop, and made sure they were properly labeled to use (possibly) in a slide lecture for class sometime down the road. I try to collect images from the internet for this reason. Also feel like I am not looking at art as much as I should. He has a good signature where he just signs his paintings K55, or K56, just a K then whatever year it is.
Looked at “Dieter Roth: Paper” at Hauser and Wirth, a series of collages of cardboard waste (33 parts). I always forget that a collage can just be one flat surface glued onto another. I get the inspiration to maybe make collages with only “one move” and make a note of it, even though I don’t make collages. I feel like Roth excelled at this.
Looked at Gadar Eider Einarrsson show at Rat Hole Tokyo from fall 2017. Mitsubishi painting on triangle shaped canvas is my favorite. I keep thinking about this Mitsubishi I saw that had “Gary” written in the Mitsubishi font underneath it. I will always be a sucker for hand-painted logos.
Swung by the Library. Picked up the two books on ravens that I had on hold; Mind of the Raven by Bernd Heinrich and In the Company of Ravens and Crows by John Marzluff and Tony Angell. Also pick up a DVD of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Rochele has never seen it before, and it’s been ages since I’ve seen it, probably since maybe I was five, but it’s referenced in culture constantly, so it doesn’t feel like it was that long ago.
Did a Wikipedia search for dyskinesia and EDM. The dyskinesia search was inspired by some before and after Parkinson’s videos I was watching for deep brain wave stimulation. My Dad (who has Parkinson’s, link to his blog here) was telling me of this surgery to reduce tremors where they drill two metal rods into your skull then run an electric current through it, reducing tremors but also creating side effects. It was reported that Neil Diamond was going to retire from touring because of the onset of Parkinson’s. There had been some anecdotal reports around the internet that the sting of a jellyfish can reduce Parkinson’s tremors. Dyskinesia was a side effect of the deep brain wave stimulation. Even though I know what EDM is, kind of, I wanted to just get the bottom line. A lot of my time online goes directly into Wikipedia. I keep getting ads for the website Masterclass.com—I guess I can do an online course with Deadmau5 about electronic music production for $90. It’s famous people doing instructional videos. A solid lesson about the history of dance music from the Wikipedia site. Has a section about dub. Very unfamiliar with dub, although I know it when I hear it. I feel like I am constantly surrounded by people who are well versed in dub, and I am not as well versed in dub as I should be.
Looked at some Allan Kaprow figure drawings on the Hauser and Wirth website. The figure drawings are not bad, but I like the paintings more. Figure drawings kind of look like Diebenkorn’s, not as good.
Woke up, then laid in bed until 7:30. Went down a Quora rabbit hole—I get emails from them occasionally. Worried the website’s doing something weird with my personal info. I get a bad vibe from that site. Read about a woman whose accidentally locked her cat in the bathroom for five days when she went on a trip. The cat survived by drinking water from a leaking bathtub spigot—the toilet lid was closed, so it couldn’t drink toilet water. I get emails from Quora every so often; still not quite sure what it is.
Read my “daily challenge” email that talked about eating epicatechin, an antioxidant found in apples, cherries, pears, blackberries, and green tea. Looked up epicathechin on PubChem, the open chemistry database. A lot of it is over my head but I rooted around on there for a while. Also read the “poem of the day” email from poets.org. Justin Phillip Reed talks about how climate change and ecologies of death are not separable from systemic racism. Googled “ecologies of death.”
Took Max for a walk and listened to Self Inflicted Aural Nostalgia, the Guided By Voices podcast. They go down and talk about each album individually in depth. I listened to the podcast go deep on The Devil Between My Toes. The rooster on the front cover was attacking Robert Pollard’s feet, pecking at them, so that’s where the name Devil Between My Toes came from.
Did a Google image search for the Bob Burns collection; I wanted some decent images of the collection since I returned the books to the library. Through Google image search, I found propsummit.com, a community forum for Blade Runner props, which led me to an amazing Flickr site where someone had taken almost 200 photos of the Bob Burns collection. All the props in Burn’s collection in the book were displayed tastefully, photographed against a neutral white backdrop. It’s exciting to see in this Flickr group how the props actually exist in the storage environment.
Listened to Ramsey Lewis Trio Mother Nature’s Son. Did a search on Spotify for Fender Rhodes. I know Donald Fagen uses a Fender Rhodes. Listening to “Night Child” by Oscar Peterson Quartet from 1979. Incredible. There were no drums on the track “Night Child.”
Had a hearing at Animal Services in Downtown L.A. Drove to the meeting and had to park all the way near the Bob Baker Marionette Theater and walk to the city building; I was listening to The Best Show podcast on the car ride over there. The Best Show has been a weekly staple since Ry Rocklen first told me about the show in 2007. It’s got a good pace to it, takes its time, never disappoints. After the hearing at Animal Services, met Rochele at work for lunch. Caught the MOCA permanent collection. The older I get, the more I just gravitate towards paintings. Unfortunately I think my tastes may be rather conservative. The Etel Adnan was the thing that took my breath away. I had been to the permanent collection before so I just kind of breezed through it. There was also a suite of Aaron Siskind photos that I had forgotten about but enjoyed seeing. Kienholz car door was also good.
Read an article about Chuck Close that my mom sent to me. He’s sitting near a painting that has an angle in it that looks like it’s clocking the angle of his erection. They found the perfect picture. Followed a link to Elle magazine that talks about Picasso and Hitchcock being abusive towards women they worked with. People dismissed Dora Maar as a masochist. Thought about Tippi Hedren in The Birds. Hitchcock was abusive to Hedren on set. Made me think about the book on ravens that I’m reading. Western culture is being redefined.
Listened to Endless Thread, the new podcast from Reddit, and walked Max. They talked about WOCL—window of circadian low, a term that the commercial airline industry uses. It talks about how human’s functionality is impaired between 2:00 am and 6:00 am. There are regulations for pilots built around the WOCL. Googled WOCL when I got back from the walk with Max.
Watched Star Wars, the first one, with Rochele. Forgot how good some of the character designs are. Rochele and I both really liked the Banthas, the beasts of burden that the Tusken raiders ride. Rochele said they looked like Snuffleupagus from Sesame Street.
Friday, February 2
Read a couple of emails. David Zwirner newsletter, Sadie Coles HQ newsletter. I also read the poem of the day by Christopher Soto. Clicked on the link for his book—Sad Girl Poems—I liked the efficient graphic for the cover. I also like this Darren Bader drawing that was in the Sadie Coles HQ mailer—reminds me of a Mike Smith drawing. I am always a fan of the diagrammatic/cartoon drawing to illustrate sculptures/performances.
Did a Google image search for “Star Wars Ceramics.” Found a cool page for unlicensed Star Wars Ceramics, which was part of the Star Wars Collector Archive. Could spend a long time on this. I keep thinking about making ceramics; I have two big bags of clay that I got from Ry.
Looked in the “paraphernalia” section of the SWCA and found images of a Lucasfilm roach clip and a Yoda Bong from the Netherlands.
Looked up Roy Lichtenstein ceramics. Then looked up Picasso ceramic absinthe glass. For some reason, I always think that Roy Lichtenstein made that sculpture; I always think of that sculpture when thinking of Lichtenstein’s ceramics. It kind of looks like a head with Ben-Day dots on it. Same color scheme as Lichtenstein’s ceramics. Lichtenstein’s ceramics looked better in my mind’s eye. Lichtenstein’s ceramics have no grit; it works better in his paintings, but even Lichtenstein’s painting have more grit than his ceramics, at least the early ones.
I get an email from my mom. It’s a link to a Palo Alto Online article about the James Franco mural being painted over due to allegations of sexual misconduct. Saw in the photos that Franco had headphones on while he was painting the mural. What is he listening to while he paints? Looked at some James Franco paintings. Some of the paintings that are up in Palo Alto High school are collaborations with Josh Smith. Those are getting removed as well.
Rochele and I go to Videotheque. It’s the first video store I’ve been to in a long time. (Is that what they were called? Video stores?) We got kind of hooked after watching the first Star Wars in the series. I realize that I have all this knowledge about tertiary characters from the Star Wars universe, just from references in pop culture I’ve gleaned over the years. Videotheque in South Pasadena is an amazing place; it’s worth a trip just to see how they label and categorize everything. We get the Empire Strikes Back DVD. I tell Rochele that I think Empire is the best one. They rereleased it when I was a junior in high school; I remember getting stoned in Rutherford’s car then going in to see it opening night at Century Cinema 16 in Mountain View, California. There was a bigger gentleman sitting next to me dressed up as Princess Leia and his girlfriend was dressed as Yoda. I remember getting my mind blown when Han Solo cuts open the Tauntaun with a lightsaber and the entrails pop out. That was one of the only parts that I remembered. Fall asleep about an hour into the movie, which is something that usually happens.