Wednesday, February 28, 2007

What Makes a Great Portrait?

I don't know.


No.


sewer replacement line teardrop


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purple face paint web


Yes.


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most we feared_1 web

Monday, February 26, 2007

Hey, could someone please help fix my wikipedia page?

But more important, could someone PLEASE put a up an entry about me on Conservapedia, the new "anyone can put up information" open encyclopedia that favors "Christianity and America." I'm not making this up.


"Conservapedia is a much-needed alternative to Wikipedia, which is increasingly anti-Christian and anti-American. On Wikipedia, many of the dates are provided in the anti-Christian "C.E." instead of "A.D.", which Conservapedia uses.

Conservapedia is an online resource and meeting place where we favor Christianity and America. Conservapedia has easy-to-use indexes to facilitate review of topics. You will much prefer using Conservapedia compared to Wikipedia if you want concise answers free of "political correctness"."


suggested tags for the conservapedia entry on Zoe Strauss:

prominent muffdivers
anarchists
Jewish atheists
pinkos
1970's births
"fatite" women
armchair bolsheviks
hirsute Philadelphia sports fans

O The Humanity




I have been fascinated by the Hindenburg for many years and am planning to make a number of remote control model Hindenburgs designed to explode in midair and burn down to a steel skeleton.



About 7 to 8 years ago I visited the site where the Hindenburg burned; it's in Lakehurst, NJ, which is about an hour from here. I'm sure security has tightened at the airfield since 9/11 but at the time when I went I just drove in and right to the spot where the crash happened.

!

I have mentioned this before, but I am not ashamed of my liberal use of exclaimation points. I celebrate the use at the risk of seeming so very unsophisticated! Bucolic or bust, motherfuckers!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Philadelphia's Greatest Local Commercials: Part 2





These were commercials that I grew up with and had great importance in my life. Everyone knew these 10 second spots and the line "If you didn't by your clothes at Krass Brothers, you was robbed." As a matter of fact, in 7th grade I was at a party where we had an improptu talent show and a friend and I performed 3 or 4 Krass Brothers commercials for our "talent."

Krass Brothers was notorious for selling hideous and ill made leisure suits and my great grandmother swore that salesmen would grab people on the street and force them to come into the store. This should be taken with a grain of salt considering that my great grandmother also made everyone Jewish and thought "The Ed Sullivan Show" was "The Ed Solomon Show." I don't know why those two things seem related; they just do.

The last living Krass Brother, Benny Krass, was known for driving around a yellow Rolls Royce.

I made the photos below on the last day the Krass Brothers South St. store was open. I knew they were closing and Fortuna called me in during those last moments.

24- benny-krass.jpg
Benny Krass


126 krass-brothers-last-day.jpg
Krass Brothers last day


Below is a photo of a list of prompts for filthy jokes written on the back of a canceled check that Benny Krass pulled out of his wallet. The third prompt down says, "Broad Jump."

In honor of the late Mr. Benny Krass, I would enjoy sharing this joke.

"(Holds finger up)
Did you know this finger was in the Olympics? It made a broad jump."

168 benny-krass-jokes.jpg


I consider these photos to be important in the body of my work; I believe that they are strong images regardless of the personal and regional connection.
--------------

The Greatest Day of the Year

Today is Lynn Bloom's birthday.

May I make some suggestions as to how to celebrate this holy day?

Read a book by John Steinbeck or Nick Hornby
Listen to Bruce Springsteen
Watch "Best in Show"
Eat Italian food and then have a Reeses cup for dessert

Contact me for more suggestions and for party themes regarding this day of days.

Friday, February 23, 2007

High Desert: Crystal Nevada

I've now been to Crystal Nevada 3 times and I look forward to going there anytime I'm in Las Vegas.

"Why are you in Las Vegas so damn much?" you wonder. My lady has to go to a trade show there, MAGIC, twice a year and I am thrilled to be able to accompany her whenever she goes. Honestly, I can't stand being away from her. This year the NBA allstar game immediately followed MAGIC so we were out there for a week.

Crystal is about 30 minutes outside of Pahrump and about an hour and a half (at 80 MPH highway driving) outside of Las Vegas. At this point I can just drive there, I don't need a map or directions.

----------

Aside: I have a great sense of direction. It's not infaliable, but I can always find my way. This has allowed me great freedom because I'm able to just get in a car and drive without worrying about finding my way to an identifiable route. It doesn't mean that I haven't had to ask for directions. I often ask for directions because I often don't have a map. It's more that I'm comfortable with being in a place that I've never been before because I'm not anxious about getting back to where I came from. Of course, I'm praying that I haven't jinxed this internal compass by bragging about it.

Aside aside: this does not count in New Jersey where the road planning is designed to confuse.

-----------

The newly paved road to Crystal NV.

road from diane and arts house newly paved web.jpg

65 ah so sexy copy
Ah So Sexy 2005

I first drove to Crystal to check out the brothel (as seen above) and the prostitution museum; I was incredibly fortunate to meet Art and Diane during that first visit to Crystal. I met Art right outside of his house and invited myself in.

Art and Diane live in a trailer that looks out onto endless desert. This time I just drove up to their house and they were coming out the back door as I turned off the car. They were pretty much in the same spot where I last saw them. I went in and caught up with them for about 10 minutes before Diane had to go to work; she's still managing the brothel and working the graveyard shift.

I love those guys. During the 10 minutes that I was there, there was a story on CNN about the storm that shut down I-80 and I-81 (northwest of Philadelphia) for 17 HOURS!. Diane asked how close the shutdown was to Philadelphia and what was happening and why were people stranded for so long and I had to say that the CNN story was the first I had heard about how
long people had been left on the highway. What the hell, I'm hearing this news in the middle of the desert?

I received a Christmas card from Art and Diane this year and I have to say that it was possibly one of the greatest cards I've ever gotten.

-----------

There are about 15 to 20 houses in Crystal, not including the residental trailers that are part of the brothel compound. I looped around Crystal on the packed gravel road and saw this trailer at the end of the small group of houses.

vikki trailer web.jpg

When I got out of the car to check it out, I could see that someone had written on the walls inside. One door was locked, but another was open and I had to pull myself up because the stairs were gone. Here's what was written on the ceiling.

vikki 5 web.jpg

vikki 4 web.jpg

vikki 2 web

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I wanted to lay on the floor, or at least kneel, to get this photo. But, unfortunately, I hadn't brought a snake bite kit and the floors were covered with wrinkled and piled carpet padding which could have been a hiding place for snakes.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Luck web.jpg
locked their house 2 web.jpg

Isaac Rerun TODAY at 3:30

in ground pool single_1 web.jpg

I think I'm going for this over the 2 pool shot...we'll see.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Nevada Test Site

One day I will actually get to the crater, but this is a long and daunting road to walk in the middle of the desert, a gate prohibits cars, and the people working at the top secret Test Site aren't really into visitors walking in.

nevada test site sign 3 web.jpg

nevada test site sign web.jpg

RIP Stardust

31 stardust copy.jpg
2004

stardust sign coming down web.jpg
2007
vikki 4 web.jpg

Art holding photo of "Art Showing Loaded Revolver"

I will be writing some more about this great visit...I love Art and Diane very much and was thrilled to see them.


Art holding photo of himself web


art showing loaded revolver_1_web copy

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

World's Greatest Person, aka Lynn Bloom, at All Star



We were witnesses to the Dwight Howard Sticker Dunk.


Back from Vegas

I was in Las Vegas for over a week and now I'm back, THANK GOD!, and I will be posting a whole story and photos about my most recent trip. As of right now I am exhausted, so please enjoy the story that promped this blog in the first place, Silver and Gold.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

romeo and juliette full_1 web.jpg

Friday, February 16, 2007

hotel web.jpg
come see _1 web.jpg
in ground pools web.jpg

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

3 meals a day 2 web

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Cell Phone Ban

For yesterday and today, I am not using my cell phone. Remember those days?

Important News

Lynn Bloom is still the greatest person ever.

Philadelphia Greatest Local Commercials

Ideal "if you've got a craving for savings"
Not Just Pizza
All Krass Brothers Commercials
"Frosty Acres"
Purple Orchid
The Pizza Place
Tony Luke "The Jail Break"
Prince Auto Sales
Doors Unlimited
"Everybody Who Knows Goes to Melrose"
Jimmy Used Auto Parts
Phillies Rico Brogna for the Phillies website
"It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Gimbels"

My Favorite
"I'm the Boss's Daughter" Aamco Transmissions

BRAND NEW
25th and Passyunk Auto Sales "I got you"

Saturday, February 10, 2007

man working at car lot 5_1 web.jpg

"The Most Artificial City in the World"

Yo, not to say nothing, but I know when Dostoevsky called St. Petersburg "The Most Artificial City in the World" he'd never been to Las Vegas, Orlando or Dubai City, all of which could vie for that title. Well, I can't actually speak for Dubai City since I've never been there, but I'm pretty sure that it might battle Las Vegas for the title.

I would love to go to St. Petersburg. I became really interested in Leningrad in the early 90's when the name changed back to St. Petersburg... 2 previous name changes within 65 years!


St. Petersburg 1703

Petrograd 1914

Leningrad 1924

St. Petersburg 1991


From late May to early July the nights are bright in St Petersburg, with the brightest period, the White Nights, normally lasting from June 11th to July 2nd. The White Nights (Beliye Nochi) are a curious phenomenon caused by St. Petersburg’s very northerly geographical location - at 59 degrees 57' North (roughly on the same latitude as Oslo, Norway, the southern tip of Greenland and Seward, Alaska). St. Petersburg is the world's most northern city with a population over 1 million, and its stands at such a high latitude that the sun does not descend below the horizon enough for the sky to grow dark. In fact night becomes curiously indistinguishable from day.

sisters_1 web

I'm not 100% sure about this because of the "x" that's painted behind the fluorescent lights on the left hand side...I'm kind of feeling that it wrecks this.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Still no word from DHS via Penn

And really, it's coming back to me why I do things outside of any institutional structure.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

OK, here's what I heard from my sister today...that my blog has been boring recently! That's right! Always my sister is my as"sis!"tant, but apparently she is sometimes an "ass"istant. Seriously, what the hell kind of a statement is that from your own sibling?

Anyway, it just set me a thinking about why I have this blog...I would go with the biggest reason is because I just can't shut up. I was trying to talk to my sister-in-law and my lady tried to keep me from getting on because I was "very longwinded." Yeah, but who won? Me, after a lot of whining.

(Um, hello, thank GOD I finally got on with her so I could tell her all about my plans to write a sitcom pilot about her work place, "One Station Square." It's named for the dentist office's address. I have a whole series of great situations already lined up and an endless number of dental jokes. I'm thinking this sitcom should be resplendent with double-entendres, a la "Golden Girls". Like you couldn't hear "I'm not the one who drilled her!" coming.
"Open Wide!" could be the new "Where's the Beef?"
Also, I've got at least one "a very special One Station Square" ready to go.)


But who am I writing this blog for? I don't know. I do know that I don't feel that it has to have a coherent format. It's just whatever.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Zoe Strauss's top 3 most grueling movies

In no particular order...

Last Exit to Brooklyn
Requiem for a Dream
They Shoot Horses, Don't They?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Danny DiCriscio Benefit


Hey, Danny DiCriscio, my brother from another mother, has become paralyzed from the chest down...after a long, long physical therapy haul, (could be 6 months or could be 2 years) he will regain use of his legs. Until then, he will be out of work; he works as a contractor and so there's no unemployment waiting for him.

I love Danny DiCriscio and highly suggest that you attend next week's benefit for Mr. DiCriscio...



Where: Lucy's Hat Shop
3rd and Market

When: February, 11th
7:00 p.m.
$10 at the door (or tickets from the Bean at 615 South St.)

Show starts at 8pm (Elvis), the guy is in the top 10 in the world impersonating Elvis.
There will be raffles and 50/50 (gift certificate prizes)


Or just mail money to this address...
Daniel DiCriscio
230 First Ave
Phoenixville PA 19460




I mentioned my man Danny in this previous post. Love you, Dan!

Let Me Rock You, Let Me Rock You, Jacques Lacan

I can't stop thinking about, and talking about, Jacques Lacan's initial theories about gender. Seriously, I am boring my lady to death with the talking about Lacan.

Here's what I was thinking when I woke up today... while I repudiate Lacan's inheritance of Freud's phallocentricity and I have no fucking idea what Lacan is talking about in Ecrits, Lacan is on the money with when he put forth the idea that gender is a construct.

Here's a good summary of Lacan's later gender theory:
"For Lacan, gender identification is highly unstable, even though it may appear to be fixed and coherent. It is anxiously reproduced daily so as to ensure that it continues to appear "natural," but the appearance of gender as natural is the consequence of a powerful illusion."

I'm also all about Lacan's exploration of how language encompasses systems of meaning, not just words. These symbolic orders precede the actual mastery of speech, reading, and writing in the individual. This is something that I have thought about quite a bit in my own work....

So, I'm super into French gender theory and French language theory right now...I know, I know, an appropriate response to that statement would be either spitting out one's drink in a spray would OR yelling "could you shut the fuck up?"
I don't care! Ain't no shame in my game!

I am really interested in the connection and influences, if any, of my big Frenchy theorists, Lacan, Beauvoir and Wittig. Yo, not to say nothin' but I'm totally leaving Foulcault of this fray... Foucault’s idea that the body and sexuality are cultural constructs rather than natural phenomena fits right in with this, but I'm looking at those who directly addressed gender.

Does anyone know the when Lacan busted out with his "gender is like a outfit you put on everyday" concept in relation to the publication of the The Second Sex? If so, email me right away! I am too lazy to find this out but I really want to know. info@zoestrauss.com

Monique Wittig went on to argue that the feminist goal is to eliminate sex and/or gender as a category entirely... I would be interested in knowing what Wittig thought of Lacan and Beauvoir's writings. Many feminists have denounced Simone de Beauvoir as denying sexual difference and writing about "woman" using a masculine point of reference; did Wittig think that?


I have put this video up more than once, but I have to say that Orson Welles best describes my feelings about the French theorists right now...it comes at the 14th second, don't miss it.

No word from DHS and it's Tuesday

I am very dissapointed in this. I am super busy getting stuff out for a show in Prague and had hoped that I wouldn't need to call and check in with the movement of the legal goings-on of the the film.

Friday, February 02, 2007

DHS update

Apparently, DHS attorneys contacted Penn attorneys late this afternoon and they have to get together so there won't be no news about nothing til Monday. I have got to catch up on a TON of work over the weekend but I will also be figuing out where to go from here. Friends, (especially Chris P.) thank you so much for your offer to write letters of support for this project, but I am waiting until Monday to hear what DHS is coming back with. I am hoping that there will be no need for letters, but I'm not banking on it.
Love, love and love,
ZS

Amid a sea of troubles, a crown opposed and ended some


Chris Maurer; a man, a dentist, a mench.

Obviously, I am having a BAD week. Yes, it is a time, but I will say that the high point of my week was very high. It was a trip to the dentist. This is not in relation to how absolutely horrible this week was; I genuinely love to go to the dentist and it was a welcome relief from the torture of what has been described in the post before this.

OK, I am certain that if you have read the previously posted fascinating news about my tooth, you might know that I am practically in love with my dentist, Chris Maurer, DDS. I am a bit like Marsha Brady when she was in love with Dr. Vogel. My sister-in-law works in this office as the dental assistant and thank god, because if she didn't it might have been another 15 years until I went to the dentist.



here's what happens as the gold crown goes in.




Here's Kim, my loving sister-in-law, holding a model of my teeth.


The model of the tooth getting the crown gets cut away to allow for an accurate fitting at the gum line.


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Here's a image of one the prints that I'm bartering for dental work.




Need I say more?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

If You Break the Skin, It's Mostly Likely Because Zoe Strauss Went on a Stabbing Spree

The process of getting the film out has been absolute torture. I don't even know where to begin with this... DHS demanded that the film be pulled after it had been submitted to the Philadelphia Film Festival, which it was in good faith. DHS and the ICA own the footage of the film. But creative control was in the hands of the BPA and the ICA. And the kids who participated in the project were from the AIC, which is under the auspices of DHS. Acronyms central.

There are a million things that have ensued since the demand to pull the film, but everything blew the fuck up at a DHS/ICA/BPA/PAP meeting at DHS earlier this week. Until this meeting, all groups had been working together to come to a compromise on the final editing of the film. This isn't to say that there hadn't been tension, tension was present all through post-production but that was just related to the completion of the film, which was fairly complex. However, this meeting saw a tsunami of ignorance pour into the room.

My GOD, you can not believe the things I heard. Although all of the DHS workers who I worked with up to this point regarded the project as an incredible success, a woman who I had never met and seemed to be the supervisor of these workers claimed to be taking charge; and in this charge the most shocking things were said. DHS has some concerns with the film that are understandable and would have been able to be discussed, such as a repeated image of "Man Nude on Bed" which includes the images of him standing outside, standing with his pants down, and then the image that I've chosen as a final image. I have a lot to say about that but later, later.

Anyway, this DHS woman, who apparently had not watched the film began making completely insane statements...that my work was not appropriate for the AIC members to have seen at all and then she implied that I was a inappropriate choice as to work with the young adults. She implied that she was the only one "looking out for the children." She attempted to belittle her DHS coworkers. I am not speaking for the DHS workers, I am speaking for my own impression of how this woman spoke with such disdain. This woman then went on to compare the AIC members viewing my work and participating in this project to be the equivalent of offering the AIC members marijuana, and I quote "the first time it's fun, but then what happens?" While this statement is actually pretty funny considering that it's probably the only time my work has been described as "fun," it was a moment when I saw just how very myopic this woman was. I am rarely shocked, but in that moment I was completely stunned. Seriously.

Then she mandated that the AIC members who made the film were not allowed to watch it. That's right, the film makers, all of whom (except one) are 18 or older, are prohibited from watching the film. It was also said that the AIC members auto-biographical sections in the documentary could be cut, that these guys might not be allowed to tell their own stories. Jesus H. Christ, my head was going to implode. The thing that's so unbelievable is that this film is the feel good movie of the year. It's love, love and love!


There were many more completely insane things said. And I mean COMPLETELY FUCKING INSANE! And the end result is that DHS lawyers are watching the film and coming back with their assessment, their legal position on the film and a list of mandatory edits tomorrow. Now, I am certain of several things regardless of what "directives" come back tomorrow.

1. I am not an employee of DHS, nor have I ever been. In that regard, any sort of demand made of me from DHS is completely worthless, unless it is a legal mandate. I am waiting to hear what's coming back tomorrow and then will decide what course of action to take, if any.

2. While I am very appreciative to have had my voice heard in the editing process, I am not in a position to say how the film moves forward without the input of the film makers. I will fight against sanitizing this film. And by sanitizing I mean removing some of the more difficult images, stories and discussions that made this project such a success. The film makers must weigh the suggestions. It would do a great disservice to the unbelievable amount of work, and I am referring to both the academic and emotional work, that went into making the film. David Kessler has directed AND edited this film, which is amazing. He has made it into a feature length film. But the other film makers and stars of the film have been shut out. That's beyond fucked up. I'll fight for the film makers to own their own work and their own stories. Below is the body of an email I sent to the ICA, who, unfortunately, has now been positioned as an adversary to DHS, as opposed to their intended relationship as a collaborator.

Below is the email I sent to the ICA about how I am planning on moving forward after tomorrow.

"I am responding pre DHS directives about how a decision will be made in relation to "If You Break the Skin, You Must Come In" moving forward with the requested edits. I don't believe that I should be making the final decision alone; this is a film about me, not a film I made. I have weighed in on the editing process with a number of suggestions, but they were only suggestions, not demands. The final decision about what will happen with this film will have to come from the filmmakers, the AIC youth who participated making this film. They moved the flow of the project with their ideas and their responses to my work, they did the filming and conducted the interviews and their participation in this project is what influenced David's editing and structuring of the film. They have to weigh in on if they deem the requested edits appropriate or not and if the film accurately presents the summer project. Although I am very happy to have been allowed to give input into the making of the film I have to firmly assert that this film is not my work, it is about my work. I am more than happy to make the final decision and let the ICA know how I want this move forward, but I can't without the filmmakers letting me know their decision on the film."

More tomorrow.

Letter to Philadelphia Department of Human Services from Charday Laverty regarding "If You Break the Skin, You Must Come In"

January 31, 2007


To Whom It May Concern,


My name is Charday Laverty and I was one of the youth that worked to make the documentary on Zoe Strauss. It has come to my understanding, that there is some controversy going on about being able to release the documentary to the public. I have an idea that might work; it would get the movie released as well as keep all parties happy.


First, I would like to give my input about the whole situation. Now this is just my opinion so please do not take offense. I really do not know all the facts and the litigation about why everyone is saying not to put the movie out, but from what I do know, it seems foolish. I understand that as youth in DHS care that we are not allowed to say and do certain things like using obscene language. I also understand the fact that everything we do reflects DHS. I know that this movie may not reflect the image that DHS wanted us to portray but it is from us. It was made by us for us. It was not a DHS promo nor was it to say that life in DHS is easy. As you may have seen that all of our lives while in the system have not been peachy clean. They have been hard. So, like for y’all to say that we the actors, the makers and all that comes in between can not see the movie because you don’t approve of it is very insensitive. I know that if I were able to see the movie then it would be easier to compromise about changes that could possibly be made. But to my understanding that is where the problem is. The working together part and, trust, that is one thing we learned while making this film. We learned that a group has to work as a team to get the job done and get it right. I think that is what we need to do now. We need to work together to get this film right in everyone’s eyes. I just think this whole situation is crazy. I hope that we can really work this out. The biggest problem to me is that it seems as if you want the documentary to change to fit you and your expectations. That was not what the movie was for though. It was to show the life of Zoe Strauss while opening the youth up to new experiences that they, I mean we, may not ever be able to do. When I was hired I was told to be myself. It not only taught me about art but it taught me about life. I have met a lot of great people who are not only prominent in the art world but also prominent in the city. It opened me up to different types of art and different types of lifestyles. The only people that we have to thank for that are those that were involved in making this film.


Second, on to the infamous Ms. Strauss. She is one of a kind. At the start of this I don’t think that Zoe knew she was going to be adopting 5 children. Five very grown children, but she did. She handled and still is handling that responsibility very well. Zoe is the type of person who you can call at anytime and she will be there to listen. She doesn’t bite her tongue but she says what she has to say in the kindest way anyone could have ever thought possible. She has done so much for the group. She took us to a Sixers game. The game was really big for me personally but she made sure we were there. While there we met DMC from the group Run DMC. So yes, Zoe has taken us on and did things outside of the documentary for us. Now personally Zoe, came to court with me the day I got discharged. When no one else was down for it and nobody thought it was right Zoe was there. So she is not a bad influence on any of us. She may be a little crazy but she only means well.


Lastly, I guess this is my time to say what I suggest. I guess the first thing is to not cut the movie. It took a lot of time and energy, not only those two, but also money. The key word in that sentence was money. Money that could have either been, wasted because people can’t compromise or money that was used for a good cause. The cause being that some youth really got the chance to try something new and the chance to meet a really amazing person. I think that everyone that was involved in making this movie (meaning –AIC, BPA, ICA, and DHS) should have a movie preview. We need to all sit down together and watch the movie and when a person finds something that they believe should be edited that can speak up. But if someone disagrees with it they should also be allowed to state their argument. No disagreement can go without being solved. This method would go on throughout the whole movie until it is completed and everyone is pleased. I guess the key word to this is compromise. At this event EVERYONE has to be willing to compromise regardless how much seniority they have. But then again this is just a suggestion.


Anyway, so basically what I am trying to say is please come to an agreement to where everyone can be happy. Everyone can see the movie. But do not cut the movie. It was truly a learning experience for everyone involved. They can all say that they left the movie with something good. I beg of you (and trust I don’t beg) please do not cut the documentary. It means so much to all of us. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Charday Laverty