Saturday, July 24, 2010

Street Art, Shoegaze and Strangers

Every now and then, a girl's got to cross the river...always, mind you, for a good reason. Tonight's incentive was Strassen Kunst, an exhibit at Artspace of ten graffiti artists whose work was painted, stenciled and projected on the walls, along with additional photographs of graffiti art from Berlin.

There was even a model of a graffiti artist in process, clad in a black hoodie and jeans, holding a can of spray paint (which fell mid-opening, amusing the artists in the room. "His hand went dead," one explained. "You know that feeling?").

Because so many of the images were from Germany, it was only natural that the occasional tag in English caught my eye. Among my favorites; "Smiling makes me thin" (great concept), "Catalonia is NOT Spain" (but what do you really think?) and "Too. Much. Thought." (a sin I am often guilty of). Some of the canvasses were floor to ceiling, impressive for their presence in the room, but even so, scaled back compared to buildings and walls as canvasses.

Seeing the proliferation of street art in Berlin, a city which would have been a blank canvas after the wall came down, was a thoughtful reminder that sometimes the best use of derelict and deteriorating buildings may be sanctioned public art. It's something I'd like to see addressed in RVA.

Heading back to the city, traffic was halted at the south end of the Mayo bridge for a flock of geese crossing. They took their sweet time about it and I could see drivers around me getting impatient. I just sat back and enjoyed watching their leisurely saunter and nipping antics with each other. It was still about 97 degrees so I understood them not being in a hurry.

Further up and waiting at a light, I saw a group of skateboarders practicing tricks over the canal walk. From the back, one looked awfully familiar and when he turned in profile, I saw it was one of Ipanema's low-key bartenders whom I know well. He must have felt my eyes boring into his back 'cause he turned and waved hello. And speaking of heat, skateboarding today? That's dedication, man.

I deposited the car in the Ward and walked over to Gallery 5 for music, eager to hear the Diamond Center again. I love their shimmery shoegaze sound (with two standing drummers even!) but they were having sound issues due to sweat. Taking a moment to fix it, the lead singer said, "This is the part of the show where I should probably entertain you, but I'm so awkward at it. Like now."

After their set I ran into Prabir (he and the Goldrush were playing later) and he showed me his current reading material. It was a thin red booklet called The Art of Kissing and published in 1936 with illustrations. Prabir said he'd taken it from a girl's nightstand in order to study it. He seemed to think I'd be interested and, okay, I was.

With chapters on French kissing, electric shock parties and lip size, there was a lot of information in this handy guide. I read it cover to cover during a set break and it generated a lot of conversation for me, as you might imagine. Here's a tip, guys: arrange it so that the girl is up against the arm of the couch for easiest kissing maneuvering.

Matt, bass player for the Goldrush, had earlier promised me a better sound mix for their set (in past shows his bass has been inaudible behind the drums, something he and I detest) and it wasn't an empty promise. When he waled on his giant bass I could hear it in the back of the room near the bar (where I'd taken up residence since it was the only place in the room where the air conditioning could be felt). If you're going to be a four-piece, all four instruments should be heard. Finally they were.

Walking home past Crossroads, a neighborhood place that must have been a nip joint in a previous incarnation, men were milling about everywhere. One guy said to me, "You're not done for the night are you?" and another, calling down from the stairs that lead to the second floor, said, "Are you coming up to join us?" I declined both offers, but appreciated the thoughts.

I was within a block of home when my former Whiskey Wednesday neighbor appeared on the sidewalk. After having moved to the Fan a while back, he missed the Ward so much that he's moved back. I'd told him that that would happen; once Jackson Ward is in your blood, nothing else will do.

Personal validation aside, it was still good to see him and hear about his latest antics, including a trip to West Virginia for the All Good Festival. Endless jam band performances and a cornucopia of drugs available (LSD and pink mushrooms seemed to be the crowd favorites, he told me) seemed to be the hallmarks of this obscure festival. Or perhaps it's just obscure to me because I'm not a jam band fan.

When I finally made it home, it was to find a message from a stranger complimenting my Facebook picture (it has a lot in common with my blog profile picture) which he'd found through random surfing. "Do I know you?" I wrote back challenging his nerve.

But just look at my blog posts...or my life. Random could be my middle name.


  1. Sunday snogs !! The art of kissing eh? This book (due Jan'11) should make for a nice companion read !!

    The Science of Kissing: What Our Lips Are Telling Us by Sheril Kirshenbaum

    Look like I've missed the ridiculous invective directed against this blog. Not that you need any defending but its nice to see your veritable army of defenders. Kind of like a Karen's Army (there is something called a Karen National Liberation Army, but thats a whole different gang of characters :))

  2. I wish I had my choice of the right person to do some Sunday snogging with!

    Your book suggestion does sound right up my alley. I'll put it on my list for future instructional reading.

    I'm surprised you missed all the recent blog hate directed at me. I seem to inspire rude comments and I'm honestly not sure why that is. Why read my blog if I annoy you?

    It is gratifying that so many people have come to my defense since almost all of them are strangers to me. Readers, obviously, but not people I know in real life.

    Karen's Army...I like the sound of that. Can I interest you in joining?

  3. I was already on board, in mufti...:)

    To misappopriate another publius - Publius Ovidius quoth: Donec eris felix, multos numerabis amicos

    (as long as you are happy (/fortunate), you will have many friends)

  4. May I put you in charge of my army then? Nerd that I am, I love the way your comments tend to include quotes, research and book recommendations (not to mention Sunday snogs).

    And while I'm not nearly as happy as I was before my love life ended last year, I do aim to be as happy as possible, resulting in a surprising number of new friendships (just no snogging, sadly).

    Would it be presumptuous to consider you a virtual friend?

  5. I'm honored !!