Iguana Nonsense

August 14, 2011

This advert has been showing up on the head of the NYTimes online.  Iguana’s don’t have shells!  What that..?

Belles Heures

March 27, 2010

Yesterday evening, I took a trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the new exhibit of the Belles Heures of Jean de France, Duc de Berry.

I find it hard not to confuse this manuscript with the perhaps more famous, Très Riches Heures, which is known for its beautiful scenes illustrating the progression of the seasons on a medieval estate.  This manuscript, also a prayer book, features illuminations of The Passion, St. Jerome, and St. Catherine, who refused to be broken, on the wheel or otherwise.

The manuscript has been disassembled for restoration, and before putting it back together, it is being exhibited as individual pages, so you can see both sides in upright glass holders – magnifying glasses are available!  Soon, it will return to its bound state, and visitors will be able to view only two pages, chosen by the curator, at time.

Aside from the dazzling ornamentation of the pages, the pictures are alternately dramatic, poignant, and even humorous.  Viewing them all is totally exhausting, and of course, they were not meant to be viewed this way at all.  The books were meditative/prayer aids, intended to be read one page at a time, a few each day, year after year.

Among my favorite images, with links:

A lovely image showing a crescent moon, and an almost 3-D effect of some angels in reddish hues.

St. Jerome tempted by some dancing girls.

A fanatical Christian, accosted by a loose woman who fondles his thigh.  Rather than be seduced, he bites off his tongue so that the pain will drive away temptation.

St. Jerome listening to a scholar discourse on the classics.  Jerome was torn by his love of Greek and Latin literature and its conflicts with his Christian faith.

St. Jerome is tricked by his colleagues into wearing a woman’s dress.  He is so absorbed in meditation, he puts it on without realizing that his fellow monks have switched his clothing.

There is also a current exhibit of a series of small statues in alabaster depicting a procession of mourners at the funerals of two Burgundian noblemen, the same ones who commissioned the books of hours, I believe.  This figures are placed around the base of two elaborate raised platforms, inside a series of ornately carved gothic niches.

They are displayed in two parallel rows on a simple base in the Metropolitan while their home museum in France is restored.  This means that they are visible completely in the round.  They display a wide variety of costumes and physical manifestations of their grief, all with great realism.  You can view each figure at this link.  The figures have been digitally scanned in the round, so you can actually rotate each virtual figure in your web brower – fantastic!

After leaving the museum, I took a bus downtown to Penn Station, and stopped to look at the new pedestrian mall that has taken over Broadway around 34th street.  Even on a cold night, it is wonderful.  To stand in the middle of a street in Manhattan, with the view that affords, and not have to dodge traffic!

A view of a mysterious moon near the Deco spire of the Empire State Building from the Broadway mall.

Nowadays, we have our own form of illuminations, as followers of Walter Benjamin might say.  A store window advertisement got a felicitous double effect from the reflection in the back of a chromium chair.  And a snap of a hard working artist, creating the dazzling festivals of desire along the street scape.

T0urists doing what they do, recording their ephemeral presence in my phenomenal world.

Down the memory hole!

December 21, 2009

The good old days of airbrushing history away – as Comrade Stalin always liked to say, “No man, no problem!”:


Not so easy anymore, as pointed out in this (unintentionally?) amusing story in the New York Times:  Accenture, as if Tiger Woods Were Never There

In the realm of myth…

November 5, 2009

…we are everywhere at home.

lastest from Salzburg Viennese by von Stuck

Still riffing…

sphinx collage

Modern sphinx pose sells clothes.… on the sphinx…


November 30, 2008


The Temptation of Doctor Antonio is the Fellini contribution to the four stories told in Boccaccio ’70, which was released in 1962.  (Story goes, the producers joked it wouldn’t be allowed on-screen until 1970.)  The good doctor is on a crusade against filth and smut in Roman social life but he meets his match when a gargantuan billboard showing Anita Ekberg reclining seductively on a couch is erected in a park directly opposite his window.  It’s an advertisement for milk!

Slowly, the doctor’s sexual frustrations unravel him, and the billboard comes to life as a thirty-foot tall sex goddess who is a bit put out that he cannot just see things her way.  In the image above, she has reappeared as a normal-sized (but not normally endowed) woman so she can have a little fun chasing Dr. A. about.  Then she goes back to super, duper, jumbo size and begins to undress.

This story is so simple, the satire is so uncomplicated and familiar, but the treatment of it is hilarious, sexy, fresh, surprising, and all-out crazy!  Another Fellini triumph.

Dr. Antonio confronts his nemesis, by day and during a “pagan” night ritual.

vlcsnap-637253 vlcsnap-638421

The goddess full-size, and looking very angry with the good doctor.



The doctor acts out his repressed childhood fantasy of pinching and fondling his aunt’s breasts, but with a giant-sized incarnation of the devil-woman.


Moral Relativism, Corporate Style

October 23, 2008





Cultural “conservatives,” like William Bennett, that insufferable stuffed-shirt, hypocrite, like to huff and puff about the decay of values and the culpability of left-wing moral relativists.  Over and over again, he and his ilk trip over or ignore the fact that the biggest fans of relativism are his allies, the monied corporate marketing interests that keep our consumer economy going…when it’s going, that is.  Consider the latest advertising campaign from HSBC Bank, out in force today in the New York subways:

In each Different Values ad, created by JWT, New York and London, a single image repeats three times, with a different one-word interpretation imposed over each photo… As occurred with the HSBCs Your Point of View campaign, some of the new ads have already begun to generate blogosphere buzz over some of the words and images used.

My favorite shows an image, repeated three times, of a hefty billfold, stuffed with money and credit cards, lying on the ground in a parking garage where, obviously, it has been lost by some poor soul.  The words superimposed?


Put that one in your Book of Virtues, Mr. Bennett!  Are these all “values?”  No, but that’s a minor point.  Are we to assume that the quivering temptation of the unscrupulous person who will take the wallet without bothering to return it to the owner is a person with values that are equivalent to those of the person who feels obliged to try and return it to it’s rightful owner?  Okay, kiddees, what lesson did you learn today?

The slogan that goes with all this is:  “Different values make for a richer world.”  I’ll say!  Where would we be without cutthroat greed!

Privacy Screen?

February 18, 2008

Patio Privacy Screen

If you feel as if you’re living in a fish bowl when you’re lounging on the patio, we’ve got the solution. This simple, airy screen will block all but the most persistent prying eyes.

With all the fun and excitement about the Internet – social networking, blogs, websites, instant messaging – it’s easy to forget that big organizations are probably collecting a lot of information on you. I only recently started actively managing my cookies. (I have no interest in having Amazon.com managing my shopping experience online.) Along with the growing body of stories about outrageous e-mail gaffes by people who don’t know what Reply-to-All means, there are stories about relationships being torpedoed, job interviews fizzling, love affairs being discoverd because of Googling, Facebook, MySpace, and other public and not so public postings.

In an opinion today in the New York Times, Adam Cohen (yes, you’ll have to enable cookies and register to see the whole article) relates:

In a visit to the editorial board not long ago, a top Google lawyer made the often-heard claim that in the Internet age, people — especially young people — do not care about privacy the way they once did.

I suspect, rather, that the implications of the Internet keyboarding hasn’t hit them yet, hasn’t been brought him to them in a clear and brutal way (lucky them) and not that they just don’t care. Either that, or they just haven’t thought of it yet, or don’t understand the technology. As Cohen says next:

It is a convenient argument for companies that make money compiling and selling personal data, but it’s not true. Protests forced Facebook to modify Beacon and to ease its policies on deleting information. Push-back of this sort is becoming more common.

Well, I hope so.

And while we are on the subject, I just don’t get the economics of the Web! Google makes billions off of its advertising offers, but I have not yet clicked on more than a single handful of ads on the Internet in my ten years or more on the Web!! I don’t get it. I know that I may not be representative, but I have found that adds on Google are worthless: I am a very directed shopper. I know what I want, and I search for it. They say the Internet isn’t free because we pay with our attention, but who’s checking to see if we are paying?

When I have tried to do research on this point, all I find is confusion and debate. Is this another example of everyone doing it (advertising on the Web) because everyone else is doing it, and you cannot afford to be seen not doing it? Is anyone benefitting from it – besides Google? Is this consumer-chatter-clutter the price we have to pay for the use of the Internet?