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Elvis and the Phoenix heat

In 1990, the good people of the European Union voted It’s Now or Never,  by Elvis as the greatest rock n’ roll song ever. Ain’t that something? Elvis Presley, ladies and gentlemen. The time is 2:30 AM. The dj’s voice carries over the sound of the mixer as it beats my dough. Fifty pounds of mix makes fifty dozen doughnuts. It’s Monday, so I’ll only do this twice tonight, making a hundred dozen doughnuts total, plus another thirty dozen cakes and old fashioneds. I look across the table and up the wall to where the radio hangs from a nail. It is 2:35 now, and according to the thermometer, it’s 110 degrees in the kitchen. I put my cigarette on the edge of my work surface, and walk out to the sales counter. The store is bright, and empty. The AC is on out here, and I stand in the cool, thinking about an entire continent taking time to vote for Best Song. What must it be like there, I wondered? I remember the dough, now idling in the mixer, I remember my cigarette on the table; I worry briefly about neglecting them both, and then I sink back into my own mind, and think about the dj, and what he said. His manner is direct, intimate, and his voice is reassuring. In my mind, he knows what he has to say, so he says it. I am not so sure of my voice. I think about those Europeans and their vote. I think that I love Now or Never because it has been given certainty. It’s not only a song, or even a hit, it’s the best, the best song...

Purple crystal from 1989

  Pervert. You know that guy was AIDS and he probably gave it to you. It burned up his throat and he can’t talk. We put him out as bait. You couldn’t resist. We’ve been watching this park for a while now, tracking perverts like you. We weren’t having sex, that would have come later. I touched his dick with my hand and spoke to him. He was pale blonde, and had blonde facial hair. He looked very sweet. He nodded without speaking, and looked away. I wasn’t surprised to be arrested. Now and again they would focus on a different area and arrest all the guys. Or as many as they could. I didn’t think it would happen to me, but at the same time, I expected it. It’s just what happened. I moved to Phoenix a few days later. I never did get arrested in Phoenix.  ...

Andrew Choate on Green Umbrella

The Sō percussion ensemble originally commissioned David Lang’s “the so-called laws of nature” in 2002, and their physical familiarity with this elaborate composition made watching their performance at the Walt Disney Concert Hall intensely visually captivating. The piece is divided into three sections, and the four performers gradually moved further and further away from the audience to access their respective percussion stations. The first section focussed on the sound of mallets on a thin wood plank, and each performer looked like they were playing ping pong with themselves, bouncing sounds back and forth on the plank. A syncing and de-syncing of rotating patterns gave me the impression of the sound of corrugation, or a jug full of water gurgling over. I found the actual tone of the mallet on the wood to be a semi-shrill clatter, like when you drop a long piece of wood, or a couple of 2x4s stacked poorly fall on their side. But that harshness dissipated almost instantly, lasting only for the duration of the split second of the strike. Because this music depends on the patterns and speed of the music, and less on variety of tone, hearing wood over and over again felt like listening to a kind of sawing, like something might break in half before it was over. Not knowing what was to come, I started imagining these patterns on different materials like rubber, cloth, metal, fur, bullets, bushes, ozone. And then the first part was over, and the musicians took a couple steps back, turned their bodies 90°, and started playing similar patterns on some sort of metallic tubes. I...

Carmen Argote: watermelons, no catchies or bouncies at Commonwealth & Council

The blacktop of the playground ignites a very specific memory to my individual history. I grew up mostly in a small solar powered house with a well that supplied my family’s water. Washing clothing was an issue for two reasons: one, because the machine sucked all the power from the rest of the house, often forcing us to start a noisy generator in order to finish a load of clothes; and two, the water that came from the well was straight from the earth, anything white would eventually become slightly off-white, then eventually beige and sooner or later would have to be discarded. This inevitably led me to wear mostly dark colors, or black; nothing that allowed for visible stains. Unfortunately, my school provided a uniform for Physical Education, white shirt and grey shorts, as an attempt to make us all look “the same”. Most kids enjoyed getting dirty during recess; I became an expert at participation without overexertion. Anything involving a ball and the blacktop meant dirty hands, so as I watched other kids casually (or aggressively) wipe the soot on and into their clothing knowing they could take them home to their parent’s magical machines and return the next day looking fresh and clean; I caught the ball at a distance, kept my hands slightly off to the sides of the material that threatened to expose my home life. A day when I didn’t have to take my uniform home to the washer was a successful day at recess. Carmen Argote’s Painting for an Exterior Wall presents the viewer with a simple Mondrianesque arrangement caked with a...

Rafa Esparza / Elizabeth Sonenberg Interview

(Note this interview was intended for publication on August 19th but was delayed due to unforeseen technical difficulties on Notes’ end. Nevertheless, we liked what was happening here and wanted to see it through.) Artist and curator Elizabeth Sonenberg talks with Rafa Esparza in the weeks leading up to his new work with Elysian Valley based Clockshop entitled building: a simulacrum of power on the site of Michael Parker’s The Unfinished. For nearly a month Esparza has been holding a collaborative, labor intensive residency with his parents and 5 siblings making hundreds of handmade adobe bricks on site, at the post-industrial Bowtie Project, just feet from the LA River. Once completed the bricks will be laid atop The Unfinished, where Esparza and artist Rebeca Hernandez will stage movement-based performances engaging the bricked surface, the LA River and the sun. This conversation has been held throughout the last few weeks over site visits, bike rides and email.   Elizabeth Sonenberg: I’ve been thinking about what form writing about your work should take and I thought it would be nice to have an ongoing back and forth. Here are some questions and digging followed by more questions and more digging. dirt dirt dirt GOLD is dirt. Rafa Esparza: Haha, yes. Gold is shiny dirt. ES: We’ve spoken about ritual and approaching objects with intentionality. In your work, you are in dialogue with certain rituals, and also produce your own. What sanctifies an object for you? What is this idea of the sacred for you, and what type of attention or focus does it require? I’ve talked to you about alchemical shifts...