The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche

About four months ago Fisk had a dream that he went to Tibet.  It was a lovely dream that moved him to purchase a few books about Tibet and this was one of them. I picked this book up for a change of pace, since I hadn't really read much about Buddhism, though I knew this was the most current response to the well known; The Tibetan Book of the Dead.

There were phases in the process of reading this book. As with most things, at first I was overly illuminated, reading each page eagerly. I felt like I was learning a lot about ideas I had yet to consider - it was very exciting.  Rinpoche states "We often wonder what to do about negativity or certain troubling emotions.  In the spaciousness of meditation, you can view your thoughts and emotions with a totally unbiased attitude. When your attitude changes, then the whole atmosphere of your mind changes, even the very nature of your thoughts and emotions.  When you become more agreeable, then they do; if you have no difficulty with them, they have no difficulty with you either." pg. 78!

Once Rinpoche began to speak about the nature of ego, my own ego became defensive. I could feel my thoughts trying to discredit or feel cynical about what I was reading. My ego didn't want to let me believe that clarity of mind and happiness could be such easy things to accomplish - with dedication and practice. This didn't last too long, once the details of karma and meditation began to make themselves clear through the thoughts and examples provided by Rinpoche - I was immediately engaged again.

What was most wonderful about this text was how specifically Rinpoche describes the stages of death. A large point that he made was that only in understanding how to die, that one can truly understand what it means to live. The steps of death were clear, the strategies one needs to move peacefully through death are provided and leaves one with the wonderful idea that death is not something to be afraid of.

I could very naturally talk about this book for hours - it really satisfies a spiritual aspect of life that feels like it's missing most of the time. This text is one that I would love to read again, and I may just read it at least once a year from now on. The number of wonderful, compassionate and kind ideas Rinpoche communicates is amazing - definitely worth reading.


Véronique Gambier: Exposed Square

There's a stunning show up at Trestle Gallery this month.  I don't normally like to start a review with a compliment, but the color of this show deserves the comment. Véronique Gambier's Exposed Square is her second solo show here at Trestle Gallery, and similar to the first, her work speaks volumes about her investigations in color and brushwork.  I had the lucky opportunity to see Véronique in her studio a few weeks prior to the opening, and seeing her many works of art was incredibly exciting. Her square like formations resemble frames that allude to notions of looking out or looking within, which creates a subtle yet engaging subtext for the visual dichotomy between work that lays deep into the wall and works that float above it.  This show is up until October 3rd. 

Trestle Gallery 
168 7th St. 3rd Fl.
Brooklyn NY 11215
M-F 11AM-6PM


While My Mouth was Bleeding

Being in pain for two weeks can really dampen your attitude, here are the things I watched to cheer myself up:
American Horror Story Season 1
This was psychologically weird, a little cheesy at times (but that's okay it's TV horror!), and gruesome enough to make all the melodrama worth it. A lot of good make up and plot twists that weren't hokey. It also incorporated most Amityville style plot lines to create a series of relationships that were psychotic and engaging.

American Horror Story: Asylum
Asylum! I enjoyed this season better than the first, but only because I found it to be scarier. Electroshock therapy is one of the scariest things that can happen to a person in my opinion, and this was ripe with things like that. The writers somehow found a way to work in a plot about Nazis which I found to be hilarious for some reason, mostly because it's like the go to for any source of evil, but for good reason. Zachary Quinto is one of the sexiest killers of all time, which probably says something important about American culture - but that's a thesis project for another time. Also I'm sure most creative writing majors in LA have that topic covered.

Basket Case 2 (1990)
This was a really strange movie. Two brothers are on the run, one of which is a monster that looks like a rotten pile of skin and bones. There's an awful sex scene between the pile of skin monster and another female pile of skin monster that turns this film into something from another dimension. I didn't see the first Basket Case, nor the 3rd because this was fucking enough. *Fisk would like me to add that the these were not monsters, but that they were people. Apparently that was the point of the movie.

Frankenhooker (1990)
This was fun. Fat girlfriend gets chopped up by a fancy lawnmower, Dr. Frankenstein like boyfriend keeps her head preserved, kills a bunch of hookers to make a sexy body and attaches her head. Mayhem ensues when his girlfriend wakes up and takes the subway back to NYC to turn some tricks. There's also a great scene where a bunch of hookers blow up.

True Detective
THE YELLOW KING. If you had any doubt that Matthew McConaughey knew how to act, this will blow your mind. Full of evil and the occult with a lot of wise and hilarious one liners that really take the edge of an incredibly dark series. Lovecraftian. 



As we enjoy the 3rd weekend of September, I guess now would be a good time for me to include a couple of photos I took during the first weekend of the Governors Island Art Fair.  Most of the work was good to great, with some artists using the oddness of the space much better than others. The state of decay of the houses were beneficial to the work of some artists, however not to others who simply used the space as a gallery.  It was really enjoyable to browse each of the houses to see how rooms were tackled. There's a good lesson about creating work for a specific context in all this, but I won't bore you with details about that, I can say it's important to consider how the location of a place can dictate the way a work of art is perceived.  Also, pardon the terrible photos, clearly Fisk is the better photographer between the two of us, and I was moping around with a sore mouth snapping these.

Will Kurtz

Will Kurtz

Jed Miner

Sui Park

Sui Park

Alice Sfintesco

A couple photos from SUBMERGED by the Gowanus Swim Society:  Submerged was a group effort by the collective to create works that all related to the Gowanus Canal in some way. One goal was to bring awareness to the continual efforts made to rehabilitate the watershed area, while another goal was create a space for each of us to experiment with an installation.  Most of us went beyond our normal practices to really consider what kind of space we had been given. 

Abbie Groff

Suzy Kopf

Jen Dwyer

Natalie Lomeli

There were beautifully tall trees on Governors Island!

Installing the show with friends was a lot of fun despite all the unplanned things that happen in situations like these.  It was great to see how GSS came together to create a room that was cohesive yet informative about the Gowanus Canal.  Governors Island is just a great little ferry ride away, and really feels like you're stepping back into old world New York.  It was wonderful to be around such tall trees and rich greenery. Governors Island is in the process of being remodeled and I can't wait to see what it looks like when it's completely done.  


Sleep No More

A sneaky photo of the creepy lounge.

Last week our friends Brad and Vanessa were in town, so Fisk decided to surprise us all with a special trip to Sleep No More. I had heard about Sleep No More when I first moved to NYC, so I was thrilled to finally be able to go. This interactive dance performance was one of the creepiest things I've ever experienced. 

When we first arrived, we waited in a long line outside the door. Once we left the Chelsea streets we entered this dark entryway to bag check before proceeding to collect our keys to check into the hotel.  Once we received our keys, we followed a somewhat unnecessary and pitch black maze where I was sure a creepy monster was going to jump out at any moment. Once out of the maze, we had apparently transported back in time because suddenly we were at a 1920's bar where they were serving absinthe cocktails and a cute betty boop style lounge singer was serenading us. 

We downed a quick cocktail before we were called, given a speech about the nature of the show and given a mask to hide our identities. We took an elevator up, left our lives behind, and entered a nearly 3 hour multi-floor performance that included a wide variety of scenes.  We were essentially free to wander all the sets, walking in or out of various action scenes, which was cool once your initial senses were comfortable with the fact that you were pretty much in your own version of the shining.  
Highlights were the Satanic birthing scene where a naked man was dancing in rave with a goat's head on his head and casually walking back to the candy room to eat licorice and gummy flavored treats. It was not a night to be forgotten.  The website does not do the experience justice, but you can find more information here.  


Austin Osman Spare: The Occult Life of London's Legendary Artist

This biography was especially refreshing. I had known very little about Austin Osman Spare and this biography was detailed and thorough. I also appreciated the steady and consistent style that Phil Baker, the book's author, had while writing.  The foreword by Alan Moore set an excellent context of the relevancy of Spare in art history. Spare was at the very beginnings of many art movements, however just too far out for most people - but most perfect for me. 

My favorite portion of the biography was the chapter titled, Eighteen: An Owl With The Wings Of A Bat.  Mostly because of this amazing portion of the chapter, which I'll just quote word for word because it was that odd: 

"Up in Islington, magical feuding had broken out between two occult groups.  One was Grant's Nu-Isis Lodge, and the other was a coven headed by Gerald Gardner.  Gardner believed Grant had poached a talented medium of his, Clanda, an unstable young woman who had entered Gardner's coven hoping to become a Priestess of the Moon, but become disappointed with her progress and defected to the NU Isis Lodge. 
Gardner then went to Spare for a talisman "to restore stolen property." Spare had no idea that this was to be used, in effect, against his friend Grant. The talisman Spare drew was apparently "a sort of amphibious owl with the wings of a bat and the talons of an eagle."
Islington was a very run-down district in the Fifties, somewhat off the beaten track, and the house where the Lodge was meeting had mouldering walls, overgrown paths, and windows that were never cleaned.  It was not lived in, but maintained by the alchemist entirely for magical purposes.  The idea of an alchemist in Fifties Islington already seems to belong in a slightly parallel universe, and Grant's confabulatory webs present him as a character who indulged in necrophilic rituals and on one occasion nearly died after drinking liquid gold.  He was nevertheless a real man, David Curwen - the furrier of Melcombe Street - and he later published a pseudonymous textbook on old-style alchemy. 
At the Lodge meeting Clanda lay on a massive altar between two heavy candlesticks, which were the only source of light in the room. "Four violet-cowled figures (members of the Lodge) flitted to and fro; the air was thick with incense, mingled with the must of corruption which the old house exhaled."
Clanda lay upon the altar, waiting to become possessed by Black Isis, but things went badly wrong. The temperature in the room dropped, and Clanda imagined a great bird had crashed into the room, taking her out into the night sky and away.  She saw the snow-covered rooftops below, as in a flying dream, until the bird began to lose height over a wharf-like structure. She struggled in terror, and suddenly found herself back on the altar."

What one can take away from this biography was that Austin Osman Spare was an extraordinary man who shared in many diverse experiences that were unlike nearly any other person of his period. Whether that lent to his unpopularity in mainstream culture - or to his success as a godfather of the occult can't be said and maybe is entirely irrelevant.  I'd highly recommend this biography for those who enjoy stepping into the lives of those with far stranger ties - a great book for spooky Halloween. Also, I'm dressing up as a Priestess of the Moon this year. 

Joan Crawford, pencil and watercolour, 1933 (private collection)



I've been taking a long moment away from my blog mostly because I've been way to busy to even think about posting here.  I've also been healing from having all 4 wisdom teeth pulled last Tuesday, which has been a bit of an ordeal in itself. Mostly because I've always been a very careful person, I've been very lucky that the worst that's ever happened to me was dehydration and a sprained wrist - so the multiple extraction has been a bit of a roller coaster. With luck, I'll be completely healed in a few days.  With my love of horror movies I was hoping that I might have a bit of a better sense of humor about all of this, but there is hardly anything fun about it at all.  I'm super grateful to have Fisk's help in all this, I'd be much worse off without him!