Monday, June 30, 2008

If you vote for John McCain, you are an idiot.

Wayward Brother Returns!

Philly Sound on the Fanzine

"I feel community within PhillySound and Philadelphia's creative collective conscience. And community––in the best sense––is where, while there may be competitiveness, it's competition which spurs its members into stronger and wider creative potentials, while leaving room for everyone to be themselves at any given moment. We're living in a rich new world where poetry's writing, reading, and publishing is opening up to everyone. Ezra Pound was horrified in his own time with the advancement of easier publishing, but the fear of everyone being creative is nothing more than the fear of no longer being exclusive and special. As we transition into the everywhere of art for everyone, I'm happy to do my part horrifying the ghost of Pound, living within this city of many poets, and with my friends whose poems constantly inspire and ignite!"

By the great CAConrad about PHILLYSOUND.

PhillySound is a community of poets and friends with shared aesthetics, living within the Philadelphia map.


Unrelated: here's a haiku I just wrote, inspired by the life of Ezra Pound.

Fuck you, you anti-
Semitic ass, rot in hell
with Mussolini

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Poem (Lana Turner has collapsed!) by Frank O'Hara

Lana Turner has collapsed!
I was trotting along and suddenly
it started raining and snowing
and you said it was hailing
but hailing hits you on the head
hard so it was really snowing and
raining and I was in such a hurry
to meet you but the traffic
was acting exactly like the sky
and suddenly I see a headline
there is no snow in Hollywood
there is no rain in California
I have been to lots of parties
and acted perfectly disgraceful
but I never actually collapsed
oh Lana Turner we love you get up

Watch the above for breaking news from my brother, Cosmo Baker!

Also, tomorrow will see the arrival of Walker Roberts, my Japanese brother. This means that the uncontained force of 4 siblings together will be in full effect.

Clockwise from left to right, also in age order from oldest to youngest- Zoe Strauss, Cosmo Baker, Walker Roberts and front and center Savannah Roberts

From left to right- Savannah Roberts, Cosmo Baker, Ilene Baker (aka, our own mother), Walker Roberts, Zoe Strauss

I am going to get a shirt that says, "My Siblings Are Kind of a Big Deal," which, of course, was thought of by the greatest sister in the world, Savannah Roberts.

Also, here is a video of my brother winning a fight. You want to step to any of us? That's what I thought.
thomas jones_6081 web

Friday, June 27, 2008

times square_6075 web

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I am working on the book intro now and I wish the whole thing could be,
"Dudes, look at these photos I took. I rule!"-Zoe Strauss

The biggest problem is that I AM NOT A WRITER. Yes, I can write well enough to tell people...

"Seriously, this Santa with a pecker out is fucking hysterical! How did it even get so far as to be manufactured?"

BUT, I'm not really about...

"Let me talk and talk about my own work and explain why these images epitomize the schizophrenia of American identity and clearly illustrate this moment in the ongoing construct of "America," as idea and as true geography, both on a global scale and a local scale... particularly addressing deindustrialization and "outsourcing" and going right to the root of our national psyche, the fears and realities of the shift from Power to Ower within the US and as a world power. Now let me randomly toss in the words "semiotics," "anomie" and "linguistics." "

Um, fuck no. That statement is true about these photos, but I'd rather watch a "Roseanne" re-run than read that.

I think I'll just have to tell a little bit about my travels for the intro because I ain't going to find any middle ground here. Also, look for exclamation points, because I don't give a shit about looking sophisticated.

Recommended: City of Quartz by Mike Davis

Go ahead, read City of Quartz by Mike Davis and then read or re-read Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler and then expect to sleep like you did after you saw The Blair Witch Project.

Intuition of the Future: Utopia and Catastrophe in Octavia Butler's "The Parable of the Sower"
-Jerry Phillips


John Lautner, Thanatogenos house

Thanks to my lady for introducing me to the architecture of John Lautner.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Time for romance!

This passage from The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot is often how I feel about Ms. Bloom.

"Yet when we came back, late, from the Hyacinth garden,
Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not
Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither
Living nor dead, and I knew nothing,
Looking into the heart of light, the silence."

No need to address the rest of the piece, just these lines will suffice.
Bummed out that we don't have comprehensive television coverage of the war? OK, really any television coverage of the war?"Reporters Say Networks Put Wars on Back Burner."

Then check out "Celebrity Rehab!" That's almost as good as news.

Metaforas: Thinking Through Technology

This site should be required reading for high school students.

Jonathan Lipkin: Recent Photographs

The impossibility of teaching and producing work

This past spring I taught, or rather lead, a critique class at SVA and it taught me a number of things, one of which is the tremendous difficulty in teaching and making your own work at the same time. Teaching is a serious job, and I took it seriously, which means that I thought about the students' work and looked to help direct them to where they wanted to go. Dudes, I learned that's a hard job. No joke. Looking for connections and ideas in others work? And then responding to it? Please. As 95 came up, I found that I was paying less attention to the class and I had structured the class so that I needed to be present for the whole thing, it couldn't just operate automatically. Gabe Martinez warned me about being sucked in and, man, was he right. I just don't take things lightly.

Also, I was surprised to find the students hidden desire for structure. If I teach again, it can't be as organic. The class was loose, with readings that I thought addressed the general class discussion given out the following week, or after class on the blog. I look from one thing to the next and I can't base a class around how I operate in my own life in terms of academics! I'm down with a more rounded, learn about what you're interested in and you take the responsibility to find the info. For school, there has to be a more rigid structure, with a syllabus set out in anticipation of the students' needs, not in reaction to the students' needs. That's not how I'd like it, but it's an impossibility to think about where 10 people want to go and respond with the readings for them. And while I'd like to encourage a sort of "call and response" reading list and discussion I think it will have to be a component of the class, not the basis of the readings and assignments. Also, more assignments. Sometimes it's important to have a fire lit under your ass, and the threat of grades can do that.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A great photo by Catherine Wagner

Special Effects Tank, Backstage Studio Tour; Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park, Disney World, Orlando, Florida, 1995
Photo by Catherine Wagner


Click the link above and check it out.


"A spectre is haunting Europe -- the spectre of communism. All the powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: Pope and Tsar, Metternich and Guizot, French Radicals and German police-spies."
- from The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels

"The Communist Manifesto was first published in February 1848 in London. It was written by Marx and Engels for the Communist League, an organisation of German emigre workers living in several western European countries. The translation above follows that of the authorised English translation by Samuel Moore of 1888. In a few places, notably the concluding line 'Proletarians of all countries, unite!', Hal Draper's 1994 translation has been followed, rather than Moore's, which reads 'Working men of all countries unite!' For an exceptionally thorough account of the background of the Manifesto, the history of different editions and translations, see Hal Draper The Adventures of the Communist Manifesto Centre for Socialist History, Berkeley 1994."

-Notes on the Manifesto


Using free online translators, I want to translate text in English from one language to another in least three different languages, and exhibit the original text next to the translated text.


"A spectre is haunting Europe -- the spectre of communism. All the powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: Pope and Tsar, Metternich and Guizot, French Radicals and German police-spies."

Translated from English
to Russian
to "Chinese Traditional"
to German
to English

using World Lingo

"The spirit confuses the European - communism spirit. All strength old Europe connects the holy alliance, in order to exercise this spirit: politsi] - spy Pope and Tsar, Metternich and Guizot, French basis and German out."

For Your Consideration and Enjoyment

If You Break the Skin Trust showing Friday, June 27th 2008

Friday June 27 2008

Arbol Café
209 Poplar St. (Outdoor)

9:00pm – 10:45pm

”If You Break the Skin”, Documentary - 91 minutes

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Please increase the amount of cash the people get for food stamps!

The above article talks about how the amount folks get for food stamps hasn't increased with the rise in food prices. And, hello, that needs to happen pronto. As someone who had been on welfare for several years, let me tell you that the monthly food stamps stipend is well below the amount one could actually buy a months worth of food with. The ability to budget a healthy diet on food stamps is an impossibility unless one devotes all day, every day, to shopping, meal planning and visiting food banks. And depending on where you live it might be an impossibility no matter what. For real. I am speaking from my own experience.


On the up side, many years ago I made a little brochure for others on welfare, "Holiday Shopping on Food Stamps" although it's always unlikely that there'd be money left for gifts. But there's no way that DPW check makes it past 3 days after you get it, and food stamps could last the month so it's more likely that food stamps can enter into the world of holiday gifts.

I know it's not "holiday" time, aka December, but here's a little selection of what you could do with food stamps...

Buy instant hot chocolate, then repack it in baggies and say it's gourmet. Who the hell is going to know it's Acme brand? And the Acme brand is delicious! Also, cinnamon sticks (either in with hot chocolate mix or in a separate bag) make it ultra fancy.

Mugs can always be bought at a thrift store to pump this gift up.

Bulk nuts and candy, from Nuts to You or the equivalent, are super if you get what people like or something new based on their taste. Good wrapping makes these gifts real gifts. Plus if you write something, e.g. a recipe or a fact about that food or a drawing, it will hang around for a while and people will remember the gift.

Coffee and tea are awesome gifts.

That's all for now. I'll try to remember to put the rest of the list up in December, but don't hold your breath because I can't remember where I've parked the car like 10 minutes after I get home.

Friday, June 20, 2008



paris in jail

swastika 5 web

Here's an example of why I'm so out of my mind with the book.

The two photos above should go in the book. "Paris in Jail" isn't one that I consider one of my strongest photos. And because I haven't given a lot of thought to it, I haven't really nailed a place where it belongs in the syntax. I need to make sure the meaning of the text remains open no matter where I put it. "Swastikas" should also go in but, again, where the photo is placed influences how the image of this guy is read, and I really don't want to bracket his photo with images that make him appear menacing. I'd like to position his portrait to elicit little more identification with him, as difficult as that may be. I originally had "Paris in Jail" and "Swastikas" facing each other, but LB thought it could be immediately read as "this guy's been in jail" and I wanted the immediate 1940 Paris occupied WWII reference right alongside our revision of history and our outright absence of history. Of course LB is right, and I moved "Paris in Jail" to the preceding page, so that the photos are still next to each other in sequence but on different pages. That's what I've done with every photo... tried to work out every reading and tangential connection among the images, from front to back and back to front.
I think I'd like to give up email completely and go back to just using a phone. My email address has been forged and at least twice a week I have over 500 (for real, 500) bounceback emails in my inbox about "Viag_r@" or "Watches of a Prominant Brand" that I have allegedly sent out.

Fuck you.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

History Keeps Me Awake at Night: A Genealogy of Wojnarowicz

I've got a piece in the upcoming show, "History Keeps Me Awake at Night."

"This show presents the work of a select group of contemporary artists that have been the beneficiaries of David Wojnarowicz’s art, writings, and voice. Although it has been sixteen years since his death in 1992, the potency of David’s work and message still reverberates and affects those who come into contact with it. None of these artists knew David Wojnarowicz personally but they all have work that is directly connected to him. The work of these artists is uniquely theirs, but all of them are bound by the influence David has had on them, each in their own specific way. This is not a memorial, this is not a re-iteration or duplication, this is an exhibition that brings artists from different countries, backgrounds and aesthetics to a single space to show how the work and life of David Wojnarowicz continues to inform artists today."
from the ppow press release

"With Love"

I am big fan of David Wojnarowicz and his work holds a lot of personal importance to me, particularly in relation to my own identity and the forming of queer politics in the 80's. I am interested in many aspects of David Wojnarowicz's work but I've found that as I've gotten older, I have a deeper connection to his work: fury and righteous indignation, the strength to be one's true self and be connected to the world and the ideas of a fluid history.



You know who kills it with ideas of an overlapping/ fluid history? No, not Rimbaud. I'm talking about the master of horror, Stephen King. That's right dudes! Sometimes you don't have to "look any further than (your) own backyard!"

"...But time had been canceled.
The chandelier was lit and couples were circling all around them, some in costume some not, to the sounds of some postwar band-but which war? Can you be certain? No, of course not."

"(a fire? August?...yes...and no...all times are one)"

from The Shining by Stephen King


Memory Drawing, circa 1981
David Wojnarowicz

Tongues of Flame
pp 52

"I saw this in a park on 2nd Avenue one night. I wish my eyes were movie cameras so I could record scenes like this in movement."


David Wojnarowicz
Untitled (bread sculpture)


“My paintings are my own written versions of history, which I don’t look at as being linear. I don’t obey the time elements of history or space and distance or whatever; I fuse them all together.”
- David Wojnarowicz 1989 in an interview with Barry Blinderman

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Congratulations Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon

May your marriage last another 50+ years.

working on the book


i'm going nuckin futsweb






Monday, June 16, 2008

So close with the book.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

I am working on the book which is the most grueling work I have ever done. But I just want to have a shout out to my family who I love so much, my mom and my sister and my brothers. I'm beyond fortunate to have them. And Ms. Bloom and her sisters and the kids. I really lucked out.

I should mention that without Ms. Bloom it wouldn't be possible for me to be working these 15 hour days, with eyes glazed over and palms sweating. Sometimes when people talk about love I wish the world for them, but I know they could never know what I know.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

pigeon web
working on book.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Sunday, June 08, 2008

George Takei Announces He Will Marry Brad Altman. Congratulations, Sulu!

"The best man is my colleague from Star Trek, Walter Koenig, who played Chekov, and the matron of honor is (Lt.) Uhura, Nichelle Nichols," Takei tells PEOPLE. "And Leonard (Nimoy) and his wife Susan are on the (guest) list."

"Hating Hillary" by Andrew Stephen

"Gloating, unshackled sexism of the ugliest kind has been shamelessly peddled by the US media." Um, duh! I was interested in how this British guy viewed how Hillary Clinton's campaign was treated.
When I left the house today, my next door neighbor stopped me to let me know that he had a ritz cracker that looked just like pac man. He has it stored between two pieces of cotton in a Gimbels jewelry box and was thinking about putting it up on ebay after he read about some lady who put up a cornflake that looked like Illinois. He asked me in to see it but I was running to get a binder and coffee, so I'll pop in tomorrow to check it out.

I have seen some super fucked up things. And, personally, I've had some very difficult things my life and I know the great brutality and inhumanity that people are capable of... and yet I'm filled with love and have a tremendous joy in being alive. I have a intense feeling of connection and am unable to articulate to what I feel connected to; often it seems to be literally everything in the world, the unspeakable violence and the unspeakable beauty and all the tempestuous movement.

Both of my parents were adopted and I've wondered if that's had something to do with my feeling of being a part of the world in a way that makes me feel so connected to strangers and places I've never been. I don't know. I've been thinking a lot about the idea of America, the ideas of American identity and the truth of the seeming impossibility of the thousands and thousands of genuine realities in the United States... who can even come close to understanding the ever mutable ideas of nation and nationalism in the US?


This evening LB and I left to meet the sister-in-law and the nieces at LB's favorite restaraunt, Picas. After about 3 blocks we were like what the hell is that noise? It was easily answered by pulling over at Broad and Federal and looking at the rear passenger flat tire... nothing like a flat tire in 90 degree weather. So we called my mom, who is the #1 lifesaver of all time and just the #1 mom of all time, and borrowed her car to drive to meet the kids. When we got back to South Philly, AAA came right away and while our spare was getting put on this guy walks by with a horse. Right! A horse at Broad and Federal! What? The horse's owner is Tom and the horse is Kia. I got on the horse and had LB take a picture. I mean, how likely is it that I'll get on a horse at Broad and Federal again? Or even get on a horse again? What more could I have asked for in this moment? Nothing.

A flat tire is a pain in the ass but whatever, because here comes Tom with a horse.

zs on horse broad and federal web
photo credit- Lynn Bloom
Also, we almost drove off a cliff in the Hollywood Hills.  For real.  We were just having a quick ride and checking out the view and the houses and came to a dead end that's where you could roll off a cliff. ARE YOU PEOPLE WHO LIVE UP THERE OUT OF YOUR FUCKING MINDS? Seriously, the insanity of the hills is beyond the beyond.  Why do you live in billion dollar houses on the edge of a cliff?  Are you CRAZY????

This was all news to me... you know the news about super rich people's complete mental illness. I mean, you hear about it but how can you know about the lifestyles of the rich until you're up their mix? I can't help but wonder about how long it takes for someone who's not born into that money to have their sense of reality completely shift.

The homes above are not particularly extreme, they are not that high up in the hills and they're not as big as many others. Both houses are built out from the cliffs.   

This house has an outdoor space which is built on the equivalent of a stretch of an interstate highway.  What the fuck? 

This house is ringed with trees that are planted in boxes that hang down underneath the massive deck.  What?

A. who the hell has this much money?  
B. why would anyone spend their money on this? 

Saturday, June 07, 2008

shut up and tan_5295 web

OK, LA does have ridiculous shit... this was an approximately 30,000,000 square foot tanning salon. For people to go inside to tan. In Southern California.

Back from LA!

Me and the Mrs. just got back from a week in LA and I had tremendous shock my friends... I love LA. Seriously, I can't wait to go back. And not be OUT OF MY MIND WORKING ON A BOOK.

This is not to say I didn't do other great things. I mean, I had 3 pastrami sandwiches. That was one of the highlights for sure. Not kidding. That pastrami sandwich at Langers was a masterpiece. If only I can create a book that's on par with the pastrami, it'll be a home run!

working on book_5319 web

Don't be fooled by this casual look I rocked while trying to fit in with the "LA crowd," this was some really fucking hard work, possibly the hardest work I've ever done. We were in LA for a week and didn't see the ocean and didn't see my good friend, the #1 dagger, P. Cronan. It was work. I am incredibly grateful for the support from AMMO books... Steve, Paul, Gloria, Tinti, Reid. Jesus, Steve has patience on par with Lynn Bloom. I took over their office for a week and came away with having to revisit my original blueprint. The biggest concern is the pairings and small "chapters" of photos. Configuring the a story about "America" within a book format is phenomenally difficult for me. It's so unlike the the balance achieved in I-95 and the mercurial nature of the slide shows. Including the very difficult images along with the hopeful images, having the text in the photos be open to several readings and not be a caption for the photo it's paired with, these are issues I always contend with... but I hadn't anticipated a number of other issues about the structure of the book, including placing text about some of the portraits and images. Almost all of my photos are intended to let viewers create their own narrative about the image... but the portraits are images of real people, and I think that text might enrich the visual "reading" of the book as well as emphasize that while the portraits aren't intended as documentary, they are photos of real people in the midst of their daily lives.

Also, there are some images that I wouldn't chose for I-95 or for a slide show that turn out to be central to the book in terms of accurately presenting the tenor of America in this moment.

parked toy escalade 6 web.jpg

Seriously, I am out of my fucking mind with the book and am determined to nail it.


Yes, I love LA, but I'm so glad to be back in the greatest city in the world, my hometown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


I haven't returned calls or emails since I-95 and now I'm in the thick of the book, so I will have a lot of catching up to do mid-summer. You know, catching up from around 1989.

Excerpt from "Where, Oh Where, Are the Black Male Performance Artists?" by Homer Jackson

Oh my GOD working on the book is about 10 thousand times harder than I thought it would be. My head is going to implode. I had a set order that made sense before I got out here; then the photos were printed out and I saw that I'd have to restructure the whole thing. Hello! Ready to collapse into a pile of sawdust!

You know who is a candidate for sainthood? Lynn Bloom. She's taken her vacation and spent a week sitting in an office looking at me holding up photos for her to vote on. That's fun!

I have to say, I love all out here at AMMO. Seriously, I love these guys.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

LA is blowing my mind! It's as if you printed a topography of LA on 20 panes of glass and stacked them on top of each other, you would get an accurate map of how people live in same place with completely different realities. I can really see why American Hardcore generated out of here.

Here's something I heard in LA, "It's not that he got raped, it's that he got raped by a nobody, so who cares?" What the fuck does that mean?

Enough of that, what about an upper here? An incredible celebrity sighting... "Duke Lavery!" Yes, Duke Lavery of 1980's General Hospital fame!

Also Duke Lavery is a gay! I know! Holy Shit!
cars_4224_2 web
we fall down_5046_2 web

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Anne d'Harnoncourt

Philadelphia, and the world at large, has lost someone irreplaceable with the sudden death of Anne d'Harnoncourt. I was lying in bed, almost sound asleep, when Lynn told me last night. It's a tremendous loss for the PMA, for Philadelphia and for the art world. And, honestly, for myself although I didn't really know her personally. I have nothing but respect for Anne d'Harnoncourt, for what she's accomplished and given to all of us.

I just saw her about 2 weeks ago and thought how lucky Philadelphia was to have her here. I am so grateful for her work and her legacy.

we will win

silver posing web.jpg

With love and gratitiude.

Monday, June 02, 2008

i love la_5191 web

phone book_5140_2 web

church_5069_1 web

la ass_5234_1 web

no junk food_5010 web

la party store balloons_4965 web

matching outfits_5202_1 web