The ones who are not soul-mated – the ones who have settled – are even more dismissive of my singleness: It’s not that hard to find someone to marry, they say. No relationship is perfect, they say – they, who make do with dutiful sex and gassy bedtime rituals, who settle for TV as conversation, who believe that husbandly capitulation – yes, honey, okay, honey – is the same as concord. He’s doing what you tell him to do because he doesn’t care enough to argue, I think. Your petty demands simply make him feel superior, or resentful, and someday he will fuck his pretty, young coworker who asks nothing of him, and you will actually be shocked.

Give me a man with a little fight in him, a man who calls me on my bullshit. (But who also kind of likes my bullshit.) And yet: Don’t land me in one of those relationships where we’re always pecking at each other, disguising insults as jokes, rolling our eyes and ‘playfully’ scrapping in front of our friends, hoping to lure them to our side of an argument they could not care less about. Those awful if only relationships: This marriage would be great if only… and you sense the if only list is a lot longer than either of them realizes.

So I know I am right not to settle, but it doesn’t make me feel better as my friends pair off and I stay home on Friday night with a bottle of wine and make myself an extravagant meal and tell myself, This is perfect, as if I’m the one dating me. As I go to endless rounds of parties and bar nights, perfumed and sprayed and hopeful, rotating myself around the room like some dubious dessert. I go on dates with men who are nice and good-looking and smart – perfect-on-paper men who make me feel like I’m in a foreign land, trying to explain myself, trying to make myself known. Because isn’t that the point of every relationship: to be known by someone else, to be understood? He gets me. She gets me. Isn’t that the simple magic phrase?

So you suffer through the night with the perfect-on-paper man – the stutter of jokes misunderstood, the witty remarks lobbed and missed. Or maybe he understands that you’ve made a witty remark but, unsure of what to do with it, he holds it in his hand like some bit of conversational phlegm he will wipe away later. You spend another hour trying to find each other, to recognise each other, and you drink a little too much and try a little too hard. And you go home to a cold bed and think, That was fine. And your life is a long line of fine.

Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl (via taylorsites)


Agnes Obel - Brother Sparrow 

Made of Polaroid and other instant films.

Occasionally I direct a music video of music which is not my own. And occasionally I post this one because, while I’m rather fond of it, the artist chose never to post it. The finished product was such as I pitched it to her and the label month before — a video consisting almost entirely  of still photographs, shot on instant film. The video would feature a woman, played by the artist, alone in her apartment — but without the trappings of many music videos — namely lip synching or anything performance related to the song, which neither she or I was  a fan. She would in essence play the character, the protagonist, about which she sings. Although it took some months to win the bid, the artist chose my concept and, I was told, was enthusiastic about it and a fan of my recent Goldberg Sisters video for “The Room.”

After some weeks of email exchanges, through the label, she was flown from Europe and we’d  meet for the first time in person at my DUMBO apartment, where most of the video takes place.  We would have this one meeting,  then only one shooting day together, the following day.  I was acting in a television show and she would commence a European tour two days later — and so this one day was literally the only one we could both find that would work.  When we finally met, much to some surprise, she expressed ambivalence  about  being in it — about  playing a character in her own song. It was becoming clear that perhaps the label was forcing her hand a bit, in this regard? I told her I understood, which I did. I could relate to the uneasiness of trying to balance the expectation of an audience who wanted to see the performer of a certain song, with the priority of making an artistic statement that didn’t undercut or simply commodify it. But, I assured her it would not come off as Narcissistic, that it was common of course to see the singer in their own video, and furthermore these were hardly glamour shots, so much as, I don’t know, Cindy Sherman-esque, film stills. Still, I could relate; I had just directed a music video for one of my songs in which I play no role, nor is there anything related to performance of the song. I could relate — up to a point.  In my case, it never really much mattered; relatively few people have any expectation of my musical output and therefore I’ve felt few constrains about how I’ve presented it in video form. In her case, even an upload of one of her songs to youtube was getting nearly a million hits (which I must admit was an incentive to do the gig.) But again, it was a little late in the day to swap her out with a model and this was a project, that had been explicitly pitched, illustrated, and signed off on by label and artist weeks prior.

And once we began, the following day, it was a bit magical really. She was a fantastic collaborator. Our sensibilities seemed so in synch. It was grueling and seemed impossible at times — the time constraint conjuncted with the limitation of using unruly instant film (and some motion 16mm film) to illustrate a story — but with a dedicated crew — consisting of davebias and Anne Bowerman from The Impossible Project (much of whose film I used) and others —  as well as a very game artist, by day’s end I felt like we had created something kind of special. (I also created horrible glutes .) 

The following day, the 10th anniversary of 9/11 actually, while she was in the air, I skulked around my neighborhood in Brooklyn and shot additional still and motion footage — creeping up behind parents holding their children’s hands, stalking a footpath where I grabbed various passersby from a bench, waiting for the dog day summer sun to finally dip so I could capture headlights as they streaked across the cobblestone. It was kind of a lovely weekend.

It took about a week of scanning before I could begin to edit  and when I did it was a bit overwhelming at first. Although I had done some tests, and had fully outlined the video (I can’t draw, so my storyboards are descriptions), I simply wasn’t sure I would be able to find a cutting pattern that would work rhythmically. After a couple hours, however, it began to flow. It was kind of exciting actually. I turned over my first cut, within about a week and the notes I get via the artist, via the label, were that she felt it featured her too much, was too straightforward, not edgy or  not “weird” enough. This was a bit ironic as I had never been accused of not being narratively elliptical enough. But as I finessed I tried to find ways to feature the sole subject of the video more implicitly when I could. And, in truth, like many notes that seem objectionable at their face, one often finds ways to find themselves, an interpretation of those notes that suit themselves and even improve the project. So I felt good. I felt finished anyway, when a couple of weeks later I handed over my final cut. 

And the rest is history. Like actual history.  Like shitcanned.  What remained were a befuddled but grudgingly deferential label; an incommunicado artist; an angry me, but I was angry before, so I just went back to being angry, playing an angry cop on a cop show. And a song — the best for my  money on her album — that was never to have an “official” music video, so far as I know. 

I’ve posted this video and some background, as I’ve said, in the past. The Impossible Project did a blog/interview with me about it. So it’s not as if I’ve kept totally quiet about it. But I genuinely have such a fond recollection of the collaboration and feeling about its result that such does not get completely obscured by any acrimony of its wake. 



the bowery. 

i’ve just landed. by far the most harrowing landing in personal aviation history. the passengers applauded. but that is neither here nor there. except that i’m here. i’m staying at a hotel catty corner from my old bowery apartment where I lived the last time new york was my only home — in the year leading up to and months after 9/11. 

there was no hotel on bowery back then. halfway to gentrification, it was still populated by as many flophouses as hipster’s lofts, but not so many as to deter the flocks of scenesters from the bowery bar, to which my leaning tower of a railroad loft was attached. i can’t believe it’s still standing. i think the bowery bar must be holding it up.  i hated that bar. I’d rarely get a drink there. i opened my building door one night to discover one of their patrons pissing on it.  it was tacky sceney. every once in a while i’d lazily drop in in the hopes of picking up a tacky sceney girl so i could show her the errors of her ways. and  by pick her up, i mean, sit there until nothing happened, which it did invariably.  i preferred, phebes,  the quasi sports, aspiring hipster bar across the street, that kept changing its name, and back again until finally it reclaimed it original name. it kept remodeling itself in the hopes of understanding who the hell it was that was hanging out on the bowery in those days. but mostly i preferred the now defunct marion’s downstairs, a sort of throwback cocktail lounge with decent food and occasional revues. 

when i had the stomach and even possibly enjoyed playing live, but couldn’t barely write a song to justify such vim, old pal eric who lived a few blocks away and i would play in our sebadoh cum sonic youth cum telvision cum shit band at the acme underground around the corner or push my gear down the bowery to cb’s gallery where we played our last gig as that band i believe. 

I was miserable those last months in that apartment . in the throes of a shitty winter, a breakup, and 9/11’s haunting shadow. mine was a soundtrack of karen dalton and a blood curdling wake up call each morning for weeks, courtesy of a  billboard being built by the landlords who, unbeknownst to me, bought the building so they could build the the thing. my bed, effectively in my kitchen, which faced the dead zone that was the build site between the bowery bar and my apartment, would shake. 

right around the corner was/is the great jones cafe. great drinks, food, jukebox, and the fucking bass player from pavement tended bar. this blew my mind. have wonderful memories from that place. eventually i had to avoid it though — or not so much it, as a waitress friend of my good friends with whom i managed a feeble rebound and besotted makeout session. pathetically, or as if to honor the worm i was or, rather, the worm i did not want to reveal myself to be, i still have not been back. 13 years. 

weekends were the worst. the sting of the bowery bar’s jovial congregation bit harder those last months. from my second floor window I could almost touch the young and happys (I was still old then) that flocked to the bowery on the weekends. i could almost touch them. but not quite.  i moved back to l.a.

i can see my old apartment from this hotel room. i miss it.