Sunday, July 16, 2017


My poem "Zombies," originally published in Gloom Cupboard.


In the cemetery, right before rainfall, a man
lumbered towards us with a bad leg
and a wrecked face. You told me

he was coming to get me and there,
before our father’s plot, I thought the man
a widower who had just placed flowers

in front of his wife’s grave,
until the sky broke into thunder,
and he came upon you, strangling you
to the freshly clipped grass. I kicked

off my heels, scrambled
past tombs, towards the Dodge.
Later, in the second story

of an abandoned farmhouse, before the light
runs out, I stand in my gray trench
and bare feet. Through a space between

the boards on the window, I look
out onto all those people
staggering on the front lawn

from out onto the hills
where the sun sets, desperate to see
your black frames. Later tonight,

I will be attacked, I will wake
in my new state to stumble through
fields overgrown, back

to the cemetery
of our father’s plot
where we will find him:

all bones
and together,
the vultures won’t bother us
and we will just walk.

-Jeffery Berg

Friday, July 14, 2017

fleetwood mac remixed

This remix from Twin Sun of "Gold Dust Woman" is really stunning.

Their other remixes of Fleetwood Mac are great too.

Monday, July 10, 2017

art by sandy welch

an interview with artist mj forster

M J Forster is an established British water-colorist. Born in 1975, he has drawn and painted since childhood. With no formal education in the arts, he is self taught and still learning.

Having traveled extensively, he has explored a huge range of subjects in both traditional and abstract styles.

Currently working from his Studio Gallery in Hexham Northumberland, he is currently engrossed in the development of watercolor as the ultimate medium of both technical innovation and total expression.

When did you start painting?

My first memory was drawing a Brio train at around age 3. I suppose I’ve always been an artist. I just love the focus that being creative gives me and the way the time passes. So I used to draw and copy everything I saw. I started painting in watercolor when I was 12 and sold my first painting a year later for £25. That was 1988; I never really looked back from there.

What kind of materials do you use primarily for your work?
I have used a variety of materials over the years. I think I really know what I’m doing now and my materials have naturally reduced down to just three primary colors, a range of brush sizes, a pencil and rubber, lots of paper towels and the stretched paper itself. Oh... and a hair dryer to speed things up a little. You really need nothing more.

What is your work space like?
I have a studio gallery in Northumberland. My studio is fairly small and yes a little messy. The main requirement with watercolor is simply natural light. It’s crucial to gaining consistency with  the colors.

How has your art changed over the years?
My art changes all the time. I really paint for my own enjoyment. It just so happens that people like most of what I do. I’m perhaps best known for landscape painting although my real and increasing love is for more abstract work that reflects the same contrasts in light and tone that my landscape work does. Currently I’m producing a very limited hand made artist's book on this work that I’m crowd funding on Kick Starter (here is a link to my latest campaign). 

What / who are you inspired by artistically?

I'm always inspired by new ways of thinking and anyone who is brave and experimental. I've always been a big fan of the impressionists. It is hard to appreciate now how radical the changes they made to painting were. It’s hard to conceive of such a dramatic shift again. I recently saw a small collection of Seurat's Work and was astounded at the level of detail involved. They were simply incredible.

How do you know when your work is done?
Knowing when a piece is finished is the hardest thing. Many of my landscapes arguably aren't. It's easy to ruin a watercolor with just that final stroke. My recent color contrast work has a far more definite conclusion to each piece. Although I increasingly don't view a single painting in isolation. They are all linked to the previous works and the possibilities involved with the next on, this is what keeps me painting.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

perfect places

Pretty great, Daft Punky remix of Lorde's "Perfect Places" (a cut from her excellent Melodrama LP) by Hibell.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Friday, July 7, 2017

endless poetry

"To life! To life!" That's the kind of glass-in-the-air exclamations that Endless Poetry (Poesía sin fin) relentlessly makes and once that glass is drained, it's gleefully smashed against a wall. Now in his late-80s, director Alejandro Jodorowsky's film is raucous, occasionally outrageous, brazen and a heartfelt goodbye song; the "blazing butterfly" mentioned in the movie could describe the movie itself: a lily gilded with shiny gold spray paint smothered by gold confetti stars. It doesn't care if it's self-indulgent and opaque and it doesn't care if it's on-the-nose. It's Fellini-esque (a filmmaker Jodorowsky admires and obviously borrows from, specifically Amarcord) with its dense imagery: heavily-make-upped clowns and pizzazzy costumes and bosoms and sets upon sets.

It's a family affair of re-imagined autobiography. The director's son Adan (in a rock-wild performance) plays himself as a young misfit Alejandro and the director's older, other son Brontis (who was the child in Jodorowsky's 1970 seminal midnight acid western El Topo) plays his hardened, disapproving father. We watch Alejandro as a poet in 1940s Santiago passionately love and tussle with artists and bohemians, including a fierce and broad Stella Díaz Varín (played by Pamela Flores, who also plays Alejandro's mother, antithetical to Stella, operatically singing all of her lines). Adan also scores the picture, with sweeping romanticism, that perfectly props up the movie's melancholy and extravagance.  

When Endless Poetry works, in its furiously meandering fits, it somehow is able to communicate complicated emotions sincerely--like the idea of aging as a gradual detaching from all things once so treasured and also, the paralyzing inability to stop, with one voice, the mowing down of a fascist political movement. Its death and forgiveness-themed coda is a memorable and haunting. Also, Jodorowsky's tribute to all who helped fund the picture, is so moving, that even if one finds the film too bewildering, they can't help but palpably feel Jodorowsky's expression of gratitude. ***1/2

-Jeffery Berg

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Tuesday, July 4, 2017


Some interesting thoughts from Isabelle Loring Wallace on Jasper Johns' famous painting:

“Flag is covered with a lush array of drips and fleshy brushstrokes, initially confirming Johns’s kinship with mid-century American painting. Yet Johns’s motif and technique tell a different story – one of endings and beginnings, and the passage that comes in between. Begun in the fashionable medium of oil-based enamel paint, Flag was completed using the anachronistic medium of encaustic in which pigment is mixed with hot wax and, in Flag’s case, strips of newspaper and fabric to which the coloured encaustic adhered. As Johns explained it, encaustic allowed him to be more efficient and, at the same time, more deliberate in his gestures. In other words, because pigmented wax sets quickly, Johns could add another mark or strip of saturated paper or cloth with the assurance that any previously laid marks would remain unaffected. In this way, each discrete trace was preserved, effectively embalmed."

"Long out of favour and largely forgotten, encaustic was an ancient technique most closely associated with a group of remarkable Egyptian funerary portraits. Affixed to the deceased’s mummy prior to burial, these highly realistic portraits from the second century were designed to preserve the image of the dead, just as Flag and its ghostly white pendant White Flag, preserved aspects of contemporary American painting at the very moment when Johns was laying to rest various aspects of this moribund tradition. A pivotal object within the history of modern American art, Flag was a beginning for Johns, but for Abstract Expressionism it was also the beginning of the end. For in the paintings that followed Johns’s dramatic debut, this audacious newcomer systematically challenged every aspect of mid-century painting, beginning with the tactile brushstrokes that are arrested in Flag."

-Isabelle Loring Wallace

A video of a conversation between Salman Khan and Steven Zucker about Jasper Johns, Flag, 1954-55 (dated on reverse 1954), encaustic, oil, and collage on fabric mounted on plywood, three panels, 42-1/4 x 60-5/8 inches /107.3 x 153.8 cm (The Museum of Modern Art).

Monday, July 3, 2017


Much deserved praise has been heaped upon Kendrick Lamar's album DAMN.

Here's the video for "ELEMENT," directed by Jonas Lindstroem & the little homies, which is chock full of stirring imagery.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

was he slow?

One of the highlights of the uneven but technically marvelous Baby Driver was the soundtrack. Here is Kid Koala's memorably-placed tune "Was He Slow?"

"I tried it on turntables first, mashing all the dialogue bits into it—but it ended up sounding a little too accomplished," San explains. "Like someone who had been spinning for decades—which I have been, but Baby has just started. So I tried it on this magnetic card reader, which was originally made for an elementary school language class. There’s no smooth, elegant, frictionless way to scratch that thing. So when I started trying that it really came out funnier. It made me giggle."

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

the virginia state colony for epileptics and feebleminded

Shout-out to this wonderful first book of poems by Molly McCully Brown I picked up recently at the library. The collection title describes a real place in Madison Heights, Virginia (near where I grew up). The history of the colony is disturbing and a reminder of atrocities buried (it's now the Central Virginia Training Center) in corners of America. Patients in this hospital were sterilized, without consent and many without their knowledge, if they were considered defective, morally or mentally ill.

I really admired Brown's poems: their sensitivity and quiet power and the history she brings to light.

NYT Review by Dwight Garner

Her selected writing can be found here.

Where to find book.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017


Mozado delivers an excellent remix of Bey and Andre 3000's "Party."

Also check the work on J-Lo's "I'm Real."

Monday, June 26, 2017

in transit + person to person

We need a little humanism in these polarizing times. Two quiet, poetic summer films--distinctly American ones--portray an array of characters with grace and without judgement.

In TransitAlbert Maysles' (co-directed by Lynn True, David UsuiNelson Walker III and Benjamin Wu) poetically-fitting final film, studies the lives of commuters, drifters, travelers and dreamers along the Empire Builder--America's busiest long-distance train route which runs between Chicago and the Pacific Northwest. It begins modestly with flits of conversation, snatches of imagery dealing with the wonkish aspects of train-life (bunks, food prep, and ticket-taking) and the picaresque views of the passing countryside. Eventually the filmmakers establish more intimacy with their subjects--a pregnant woman en route to Minnesota to be with her family, a young woman born to crack addicts, a single mother with her bevy of children (she says, "she fits the stereotype"). There are more, who seem especially willing and, perhaps even eager, to have their stories captured on celluloid. And even though the film moves in and out of all kinds of tales, it feels tightly-focused within its fluid yet contained timeline. It also carries an emotional resonance in its depiction of our current era of separation and of an uncertain economy (we pass oil rigs, many of which employ the passengers on the train,  built upon once sacred landscapes).

Decades after Salesman and Grey Gardens, In Transit is another piece in an enriching oeuvre of documentaries. It may not break much ground artistically as many of Maysles' other works have, but it still feels like an accomplished, refreshing doc distinctive in a sea of quick-paced docs (and YouTube videos) in an era of cynical indies and sheepish, boring blockbusters. What burns through is a love for the quirky, the misfits and the down-on-luck. The camera and the shaping of the film through editing (brilliant work by True) and intertwining stories treats all within the work with compassion. A reminder how much the Maysles will be missed. ****

Person to Person reminded me somewhat of Wayne Wang's and Paul Auster's 1995 multi-character movie Smoke. Though not as sharply written or disarmingly deep as Auster's tales, Person to Person, a movie written and directed by Dustin Guy Defa, is comparable as lithe little New York comedy and a quiet gem. The cast (deftly selected by one of the masters of casting: Avy Kaufman), which includes as its most familiar faces Michael Cera and Abbi Jacobson as bumbling NYC paper reporters and a rumpled Philip Baker Hall (almost emotionless--perhaps hardened from all he's seen) as a tinker, are all appealing. A true standout is the bright Tavi Gevinson with her pixie haircut and blunt voice delivering amusingly dry and quietly searing social commentary. The comic lines throughout land softly and the story-lines don't really move anywhere too surprising, it knows its limits and because of this, the film feels humble and warm. ***

-Jeffery Berg