David Rhoden: News

July 14, 2019

how do you get your art into a gallery?

I don't know how to get my work into a gallery again, or if I should even want to. The Big Top Gallery, formerly on Clio Street, didn't officially represent me but they sold a lot of work for me (I'd say about ten paintings). I'd like to be showing my work in a gallery again but I don't know if it's good enough or if it's what they want.

Do artists just wait to be asked to show their work in a gallery? Or does the artist have to approach the gallery with, I dunno, a bunch of jpegs and hope? If you've done it, or you are a gallery, leave a comment.

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July 13, 2019

the unreliable narrator, or the reliable but blinkered narrator

I used to really like this gimmick, or maybe I should call it technique, of having a novel be told in the voice of an unreliable narrator, so unreliable that the actual story is found in the things the narrator is blind to, but that the reader can pick out easily. Maybe the most famous of these is Nabokov's Pale FirePale Fire, in which an academic named Charles Kinbote lays out an annotation of a poem by his colleague, fictional poet John Shade, in which Kinbote finds only references to his own life, though the poet has only a little clue who Kinbote is.

I remember liking The Remains Of The Day by Kazuo Ishiguro for this reason. (The narrator is the loyal butler to a wealthy and connected British Nazi sympathizer (really not just a sympathizer but a promulgator. He's based on a real-life person whose name escapes me; feel free to comment); whenever confronted by his conscience, or that of others, he retreats behind his well-explained concepts of butlerian duty.)  I remember loving the book twenty years ago, but I recently saw the movie with Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson and I felt like they did o.k. with it but without the words on the page it didn't make a lot of sense. Unless you're in the head of the narrator, his actions don't make sense and he just seems dumb.

I also loved the movie Never Let Me Go, based on an Ishiguro novel of the same name. But I decided to read Never Let Me Go, and it looks so tedious. In that book/movie, the pathos is found in the fact that the characters aren't aware of the tragedy of their position, but you come to understand that in your own mental language, your own words in your head. In the book you have to read a lot of letters written by someone who is not fully aware of her position in the world, and it's not as touching, you just want to tell her to stop. I don't know if I can read a whole book narrated by a narrator who is (by agreement between writer and reader) mentally incomplete. It seems like I've read enough things like that. 

It's true I love Charles Portis' novels, most of which are narrated by people who are missing crucial pieces of information, usually about themselves. I love those. Maybe Portis is just better at it.

Continue reading the unreliable narrator, or the reliable but blinkered narrator

July 10, 2019

gonna miss Rip Torn

Rip Torn was pretty good at playing Rip Torn-type characters, vaguely shady, self-interested functionaries on various TV shows like The Larry Sanders show. Those are good, but I am most interested in his Seventies movie characters, and especially Maury Dann in Payday

It's not a popular movie and I had a hell of a time finding it on DVD. (I tried renting it from Kim's video in the 90s and they said "oh yeah, that movie....we had a copy but somebody checked it out and didn't return it. I heard it's cool.") It was the director's feature film debut, and he went on to direct a lot of TV I haven't seen (e.g., The Thorn Birds) and don't plan to. But they really hit it with Payday. Torn plays a rather nasty pill-head country singer who seems bored with country music and the country girls he toys with on the road. It's a movie about a man whose job it is not to thrill people with insight into the human condition but to keep people from staying home and falling asleep in front of the TV; he's a musician in name, but music doesn't enter into his thinking. He treats people like trash, and they all treat him like the star he isn't, except they don't give him much money or kindness really, they just kind of want to ride along. The movie is shot in motels, cars and bars. (A scene that is an exception is when he drops in on his speed-freak mamma back home and feeds her dogs.) Anyway, I loved it.

I have one Rip Torn story that nobody else does, so I'll tell it here: Payday was screening as part of a Rip Torn festival at Anthology Film Archives in New York (March 2009). Rip was going to be present to answer audience questions before the daytime showing. I abjure audience Q&As, but I wanted to see the movie, so I went. I got there 20 minutes early and exiting the theater was Rip Torn, wearing a striped cylindrical hat and a brown leather jacket, and looking, to my biased eyes, desperate for a drink. He acknowledged me, the theater-goer, for one millisecond, rolled his eyes, and essentially if not literally sprinted away down the melting-snowy sidewalk, towards Tile Bar, I imagine. Maybe I should have gone with him.

Anyway, Payday is terrific and I recommend it. It was shot on locations near Selma, Alabama, so if you're from those parts this will interest you. 


Speaking of Alabama, I recently watched Adjustment and Work, a Frederick Wiseman documentary from 1986 about a training center from the blind in Talladega, Alabama. 1986 doesn't seem that long ago but the footage seems almost surreal, conditions are so primitive. Phones are these big noisy sculptures that take up half a desk. It's a nice, short Wiseman (only 119 minutes!). It's pretty beautiful. It's about patience really, the thing that both the blind people and their trainers need an endless supply of. In my experience, Wiseman is never sentimental, but of all of his movies I've seen (which is a lot), this one came closest to being sweet. It also has a lot to say about tedium. Work for blind people then and maybe now is about the assembly line. Some of the work scenes, like the men assembling paper folders, are only about a minute long but they are long enough to make you glad you aren't in them.

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July 09, 2019

time for a redesign

I watched somebody use my site and completely miss the expandable menu at the top. I think it's cool and fun but if people just don't see it what are they supposed to do? I'm working on a more accessible redesign.

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July 05, 2019

who wants these records?

I've got to move again, pretty soon. I'm considering selling all my vinyl record albums. I've got about 400 left. (I had about fifteen hundred when Katrina struck. (Got to watch a backhoe pick up and dispose of the ones the got wet. Fun.) Anybody want to tell me the best way to do this?

They're in good shape. (I sold about 500 that had cat damage to the spines.) Stylistically they're all over the map. I've got about 4 AC/DC and 5 or 6 ZZ Top. From where I'm sitting I see Allman Brothers, Neko Case, Charles Mingus, Irma Thomas, ELO, OBN IIIs, Belle and Sebastian, The Pogues, Howlin' Wolf, The Raspberries, Jim Jones Revue, Springsteen, Barbara Lynn, Chef Menteur, The Specials, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg OST, The Clientele, a couple Roger Millers, Ray Charles, a signed Bo Diddley (sniff...), a couple Calypso compilations, Jimmy Reed, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, The Magnetic Fields, Bobby "Blue" Bland....etc. Good records. 

Let me know if you want details. I probably will sell most of the books too. Last time I moved I could have moved for fifty bucks if I weren't carrying all of this (admittedly wonderful) stuff.

Continue reading who wants these records?

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