PRINT October 2002


Roe Ethridge

Roe Ethridge is a New York–based photographer. His solo show at the Cheekwood Museum of Art in Nashville opens in December.

  1. AMERICA’S FUNNIEST HOME VIDEOS America is cursed (or blessed) by Wal-Mart. Regardless, it’s a good place to get a cheap video camera and make your contribution to the American vernacular video archive otherwise known as AFHV. The best part of the show is the musical montage. When you hear the host announce it, you’d better come running from the kitchen. A fugue of physical humor, it’s the most hysterical two minutes on television.

  2. DEERHOOF, REVEILLE; WILCO, YANKEE HOTEL FOXTROT; ANDREW WK, I GET WET Reveille is a hook-laden, schizophrenic, post–punk rock album rife with churchy titles and fire-and-brimstone themes of nature wresting back the earth from “death and mankind.” It takes a few listens but then you’ve earned access to their weirdness; it’s my current favorite disc. YHF is waning, but I still can’t get the song “Ashes of American Flags” out of my head. It’s got big, sad guitar lines with lots of reverb and tear-jerky lyrics in Jeff Tweedy’s broken voice: “All my lies are only wishes / I know I would die if I could come back new.” Since I gave away several copies of I Get Wet trying to create an Andrew WK army, I was very excited to pick up a new copy the other day. Imagine Slayer doing TV theme songs. Good with morning coffee.

  3. NEWYORKSURF.COM Waiting for swell in the wave-deprived (especially last summer) Northeast can drive a person crazy; still, every day I’m compelled to check out Surfer Jim’s Surf Cam. I also monitor an up-to-the-hour report from a lone buoy that’s shown just bobbing around about thirty nautical miles off the south shore of Long Island. Visiting this site has become a nervous tic. I check it just to check it.

  4. SHOOT THE FREAK I just went to Coney Island for the first time and was struck by two things: the Whitmanesque diversity of the throng and a shooting gallery–type game bluntly called Shoot the Freak. Armed with a paintball rifle, the player shoots down into an abandoned, garbage-strewn lot along the boardwalk. The target is not a bull’s-eye or a little tin duck but a live human being. Wearing a gas mask and paint-splattered army surplus with a makeshift wooden shield as protection, the “freak” runs around the ruins of Brooklyn. There’s no prize for hitting the guy, just the satisfaction of marking him. The scene looks like a nightmare or a segment from Headline News—disturbingly familiar.

  5. THE WARM DRY BOAT: SOME THOUGHTS ON LIVING ABOARD AND CRUISING IN COMFORT Roger McAfee’s DIY encyclopedia is a lo-fi Quark masterpiece. I own copy #3,450 from the first edition, printed in 2001. With his mix of maritime storytelling and practical advice, McAfee is like your long-lost uncle. Sometimes ornery, sometimes hilarious, he takes the technical very personally. From a chapter on design, in which McAfee imagines “Mrs. Snooty” complaining to her husband: “How come our million dollar boat can’t keep up with that junky grey thing?”

  6. BEAVERKILL TROUT HATCHERY Somewhere near the end of the road in the western Catskills are a bunch of terraced pools teeming with trout. The hatchery distributes thousands of prize fish throughout the Northeast. A stringer of Beaverkill beauties was recently featured in Country Living. There’s a small pond that’s stocked with “blems” (the ugly ones) where you can cast your line and pull out as many as you can afford at four dollars a pound. If you don’t want to fish, they’ll sell you a tasty smoked trout for six bucks. Serve cold with horseradish and vodka.

  7. THE CONDÉ NAST BUILDING The sheer number of images that pass through the doors of this place is astronomical; it’s like an image refinery. Little-known fact: The exterior signage is supported by an off-grid power source that would keep the southeast corner of Times Square lit up in the event of a black out. Can you imagine?—Times Square, all dark except for some seizure-inducing Target ad?

  8. THE BOTANY OF DESIRE The gist of Michael Pollan’s book is that humans cultivate nature without realizing that nature is cultivating us. Drawing prismatic connections between Kazakstan and Johnny Appleseed, the Dutch tulip craze and stock market speculation, cannabinoid receptors and a very stoned Carl Sagan, Pollan says things like “the existential heft of a tomato,” and you know what he means. The entire book revolves around conflicting Apollonian and Dionysian desires. And since you can buy it at airport bookstores, there’s usually somebody around to talk about it with.

  9. FLORIDA’S COLLEGE FOOTBALL I’m guessing there aren’t a whole lot of people reading this who know or care about college football in Florida. However, there are those who live for it; my parents, for example, make the five-and-a-half-hour pilgrimage to Tallahassee for every single Florida State home game. This year the three big schools are pre-season top ten, and the stakes are high. U of F lost their celebrated head coach, and Miami is returning national champ (can they handle the pressure to repeat?). As a diehard Seminoles fan I of course like Florida State to win both state bragging rights and the 2002 national championship. Mark your calendar: October 12, Miami vs. FSU; November 30, FSU vs. Florida.

  10. PAUL OUTERBRIDGE AT THE LAGUNA BEACH ART FAIR, CA. 1951 I keep coming back to Outerbridge. He was a pictorialist, an inventor of color photography, a dandified American artist, and an ambitious commercial photographer. He managed to bring all these elements to bear on his images, whether a nude at her dressing table or a box of Chesterfields. Here Outerbridge sits, proudly displaying examples of his life’s work, including covers of the Saturday Evening Post, House Beautiful, and Town & Country.

    Paul Outerbridge at the Laguna Beach Art Fair, ca. 1951. Paul Outerbridge at the Laguna Beach Art Fair, ca. 1951.