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Parting Glance

parting1Has it really been a year since I first started grousing about Warner Bros’ meddling with the first cut of Where the Wild Things Are and puzzling over how anyone could possibly not be crazy about blueberry pie? A big thank you to Visualingual, Engineer’s Daughter, Catherine Clark Gallery, Invisible Venue, San Francisco is Sexy, artist Jon Clary, Intersection for the Arts, Iceberger Gallery (please, please come back) and the Chinese Culture Center for linking to my posts. Go visit them! Thanks also to Marina Cain of Cain Schulte Contemporary Art, johnny0 of Burrito Justice, Resonant Eye, Beverly Kaye of ArtBrut, and DJ from Eighth Art for their comments. Props to Mark McLaren of McBuzz for helping me out with tips to get my sidebar widgets to do what I wanted. And thanks to artist Rie Kawakami for just being awesome overall.

parting2Before I go on, I’d like to invite anyone out there reading to attend the vigil for Laura Ling and Euna Lee that will be held on the steps of City Hall in San Francisco tomorrow evening, Thursday July 9th at 6:30pm. Laura’s husband Ian Clayton has set up a post office box, and we’ll have pre-addressed post cards available for you to send a message to the women, who have since our last vigil been sentenced to 12 years in a North Korean labor camp. The postcards from our last vigil were delivered to Laura and Euna and I’d imagine are a great comfort to them since access even to their family members is limited. There will also be a group photo so you can show your solidarity in a request of amnesty for the two reporters.

Okay, back to the farewell.

If there was anything disconcerting about visiting galleries in the past year, it was arriving to find them empty. From the start, I decided I would only attend shows that were reachable by public transportation and that were open on a weekend day or had extended evening hours (none of this by appointment only). I tended to choose SF venues since I could cram several stops into a Saturday (meaning I missed a wealth of amazing things going on in the East Bay) and to emphasize just how much good stuff was happening locally. I hope that something I posted encouraged someone who would normally feel intimidated by the idea to try a smaller venue rather than making a trip to the museum.

My friend Dave asked me to list the words and phrases I vowed never to utter in a post, so here they are (as near as I can remember):

“What does it mean to say…?”
“notions of”
“in a sense…”
“challenges the very nature of…”
“calls into question”

So if you saw any of them here, it was because I was being lazy or not paying attention or both.

To all the visitors who arrived via a Google image search for James Jean, I apologize that there wasn’t more here for you. Maybe an SF gallery would like to host a showing of his work (hint, hint)?

Since today is shaping up to be the most visited on my blog since I started, I can only assume that this means that you’re all on your way to check out the Present Tense show. Just tracking down all the window displays is an adventure in itself, so be sure to pick up a flyer with locations, available right inside the doorway. I self consciously chose the Chinese Culture Center for my last post since it was the site of the first exhibit I wrote about (and Beili Liu’s artwork still sticks in my head to this day). I thought it would bring a nice kind of closure to the blog. I needn’t have bothered trying so hard. Fate has a way of working these things out for you.

After CCC, I walked down to Meridian and then hoped on BART to catch the final day of the Trace Elements show that was in its last week. I walk inside the Herbst Theatre, head to SFAC’s room and give the door a tug. Locked.
Despite the fact that there’s a sign right next to me that says it should be open.
Furious. A guy in a suit approaches, bangs loudly on the door and gives up. I’m reminded that my very first blog post was actually about standing outside Fecal Face with my face pressed up against the glass trying to make out all the wonderful things I could see inside. This happened to me so many times over the past year that I stopped writing about it.

But one thing at least was different this time around…
…this time, I had my camera.
Take that Time, you son of a bitch.


San Francisco Vigil For Euna Lee and Laura Ling

On Wednesday, friends and supporters of detained journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling gathered on the steps of City Hall. Speakers included SF Supervisor Eric Mar, colleagues of both women, representatives from concerned organizations like Reporters Without Borders and fellow journalists. In addition, a statement from Laura’s sister Lisa Ling was read. The event ended on a high note with Nzingha Shakur’s moving rendition of “Amazing Grace.”
Although nationwide vigils were organized to coincide with the date of the two women’s trial in North Korea, there is as yet still no word on the verdict. As a friend of Euna and former co-worker of both, I ask you to keep both women and their families in your thoughts.

More images from the vigil can be found here, here and here. To listen to an audio message recorded by Roxana Saberi for distribution at the vigils, head here.

UPDATE: My friend and vigil organizer Holly Gibson just called me to let me know that it was announced that the two women were sentenced to twelve years of hard labor by the North Korean court.

Although we’re pretty shaken by the verdict, it was an outcome everyone involved in the vigil had known was a possibility, even if it was impossible to really prepare oneself to hear. I’m still hopeful for a diplomatic solution and urge everyone moved by Euna and Laura’s plight to do anything you can to put pressure on your representatives and the State Department to seek their release, or if you live elsewhere to show your support for organizations devoted to human rights, the journalistic profession and freedom of the press.


Our DSL is kaput and I’ve been spending every evening in our hot box of an apartment in the Mission on the phone with technicians unsuccessfully trying to diagnose the problem. This of course is time I would normally spend writing and so many shows are slipping past their sell-through dates.

I still intend to get them posted, so hopefully the problem will be resolved in the near future. Until then, if you find you cannot stay away, I recommend availing yourself of the “Serendipity” link in the sidebar. Click away at it until you find something that catches your interest.

Journalists Detained By North Korean Government

I just found out that my friend Euna was one of the two U.S. journalists detained by North Korean border guards. She and producer Laura Ling were filming a spot for CurrentTV when the guards crossed the Chinese border and arrested them. I should point out that strictly speaking Euna isn’t a journalist – she’s an editor. I imagine she was invited along to serve as a translator.

My thoughts are with both of them and their families, and I’m hoping they return safely and soon.

“Look, I’m as Good as He Is!”

…or so says my roommate after playing around with the addictive scribble tool over at

Have fun!


In all the chaos of getting work done in preparation to leave town, not to mention the artful arranging and rearranging of buckets to catch the rainfall pouring in through my bedroom ceiling, I forgot to mention, you know, that I’ll be out for a week or two.

So, to steal a line from the airlines personnel whose company I’ve been keeping for the past 7 hours, have a pleasant visit whether you are at your final destination or wherever your travels will take you this season.

While I’m gone, feel free to check out the Pastycam… It’s pretty snowy down in the LP right now too, but you can’t beat Michigan’s Upper Peninsula if you’re in search of a Winter Wonderland (or in search of a delicious treat favored by Cornish miners).

A New Day

I have no images to post, but the ones over on NPR’s site as well as those on the New York Times’ front page say it all. I would be remiss though if I let such an amazing moment pass without commenting on it. I am overjoyed that I was able to witness and take part in such a historic event in my lifetime. For African Americans, for all of us, it is long overdue, and after the last eight years this couldn’t come soon enough.

Briefly, I want to give a shout out to my good friend Dave, who has stuck to his guns, at first tirelessly typing away on his political blog and eventually taking an active part in the Democratic Party. Since 2004 he has documented every dirty trick in the Right’s playbook, underlined every lie (with helpful html links of course) and offered critical analysis and commentary: things that were sorely lacking in the media sideshows.

Just to affirm for everyone that knows me that I have not abandoned my rampant skepticism one bit, tonight isn’t all sunshine and roses. The other big test for our country, the battleground of which is right here in my home state, is Proposition 8, and sadly, as of this moment it looks like the voters will choose to take away the rights of their fellow citizens. I can only hope that the Chronicle is keeping their “smells like old men’s pants” tradition of crankiness alive and it’s just wishful thinking on their part considering that only 23% of the vote is in.

The duck may be lame, but it’s an easy out considering the soldiers, Iraqi casualties, and the victims of Katrina who have suffered under the ineptitude, poor judgment and moral vacuity of him and his advisors. But for once, for the first time in a good long while, I’m going to allow myself to be happy for this moment. Thanks America for proving you’re worth fighting for. Thanks to the rest of the world for putting up with us.


On the Masthead

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