TABLE OF CONTENTS

PRINT May 2004

TOP TEN

Miranda July

Los Angeles–based artist, writer, and performer Miranda July is currently making a feature film set for release next year. Her multimedia project Learning to Love You More is included in the 2004 Whitney Biennial and is ongoing at learningtoloveyoumore.com.

  1. SKY DANCERS It took a lot of Web searching to discover their official name: Sky Dancers (not to be confused with the flying doll of the same name, recalled for lacerating children’s faces). What I’m talking about are those huge, air-filled promotional figures whose arms wave above their heads like they’re eternally tormented spirits. Their desperate, needy flailing either infuriates me or moves me to tears depending on how I’m feeling about us, the people of Los Angeles, whose souls I’m sure these are.

    Sky Dancers. Photo: Hot Alternatives Balloon Co. Sky Dancers. Photo: Hot Alternatives Balloon Co.
  2. THE GIRLS GUITAR CLUB Mary Lynn Rajskub (Punch-Drunk Love, the TV show 24) and Karen Kilgariff (Mr. Show) are the Girls Guitar Club, a “band” that is also a live comedy act and also a movie (dir. Ruben Fleischer) you can watch at www.ruben.fm/ggc.html. If your demographic doesn’t precisely overlap with mine, then you might not think this loving parody of girl empowerment is as incredibly hilarious as I do, and I really do. Mary Lynn Rajskub should be in everything.

    Ruben Fleischer, The Girls Guitar Club, 2001, still from a color DV film, 13 minutes 28 seconds. Mary Lynn (Mary Lynn Rajskub) and Karen (Karen Kilgariff). Ruben Fleischer, The Girls Guitar Club, 2001, still from a color DV film, 13 minutes 28 seconds. Mary Lynn (Mary Lynn Rajskub) and Karen (Karen Kilgariff).
  3. WWW.GROUPHUG.US A random sampling from this disturbingly addictive confessional website: “Everyone thinks I’ve been a vegetarian for the past 8 years, but I’m not. In fact I really love meat and can’t get enough of it.” “I peed in my very expensive, silk pants yesterday, so I just splashed some talc powder on the crotch and am wearing them again today.” “I like to refrain from holding on to the handholds on the subway, then when a sharp curve or bump comes I pretend to lose my balance and fall into somebody else. . . . I know this is weird, but I crave physical contact.”

  4. SOME GUY’S HOMEMADE BARBELL This is my favorite piece of public art in LA. It’s sitting right there in his front yard, so anyone can walk by and see it. I guess he filled two buckets with cement and then stuck a metal rod between them. Sometimes I see something I want but can’t afford, and I think: Maybe I could make it. But this guy really did.

    Homemade barbell, Los Angeles, 2004. Homemade barbell, Los Angeles, 2004.
  5. THE ART OF KHAELA MARICICH Like most of those artists living in the low-rent town of Olympia, Washington, Khaela makes more art for her friends than for selling (my current favorite is her pink-paper “Yeah” streamer)—but her performances and CDs (Bonus Album, The Concussive Caress [K Records]) have that same radiant intimacy. When she’s standing on a stage in front of hundreds of people, I’m always surprised to hear her asking the same profound question that she asked me on the phone the night before—only now there’s a really good beat with it and everyone’s dancing, which is a better answer than I can ever come up with.

    Khaela Maricich, Yeah (detail), 2004, paper and tinfoil, 7' x  6". Khaela Maricich, Yeah (detail), 2004, paper and tinfoil, 7' x 6".
  6. THE TEENAGE READER OF ARTFORUM Yes you, as you stand in the bookstore reading this entire issue so you don’t have to pay eight dollars, or perhaps you will buy it, because the magazine itself is evidence of a future life, one where you have your own coffee table to place such a magazine on. And you can’t help noticing that much of the art, whether nostalgic or rebellious, seems to be about you, the teenager, and now, adolescence. Which gives you a kind of meta-teen feeling about yourself, as if you were eating your own firm tail.

  7. BERKELEY HIGH SCHOOL SLANG DICTIONARY (North Atlantic Books) Last year students at Berkeley High put together this book of slang used by African Americans, Chicanos, Jews, and fans of sports, movies, punk, hip-hop, and drugs over the last fifty years (with an emphasis on now). It’s a terrific read and reminds us to use suffixes such as -ass, which “adds emphasis to an adjective.” As in, This is a good-ass biennial. Let’s try using jankity in a sentence: “jankity (JAN-ki-tee) adj., (Also: janky, janked, jankity-ass, jankity-assed) In bad shape, broken, old.” My jankity-ass G4 doesn’t even have a superdrive. (Etym. African American.)

  8. CLEAR CUT PRESS The Clear Cut Future anthology (the first volume of an eight-book series) made me a little lonesome for the Northwest, my old home. Robert Adams’s photographs of clear cuts and the Office of Soft Architecture’s essay on Rubus armeniacus (the blackberry bush) reminded me that it was somehow easier to understand where I was, geographically speaking, when I was living in Portland. (Once there was the intention of going for a walk; now there is not even that.) These smooth little books of new research and popular literature are designed by Tae Won Yu, edited by Matthew Stadler (the novelist and literary editor of Nest), and published by Richard Jensen (of Sub Pop and Up Records fame).

  9. EMMA HEDDITCH This London-based artist works in all media, with other people and alone (see the full range at www.andiwilldo.net), but my favorite thing she’s ever done is a drawing she made one jet-lagged night in America. I found it by her pillow in the morning.

    Emma Hedditch, Untitled, 2002, ballpoint pen, 8 1/2 x 11". Emma Hedditch, Untitled, 2002, ballpoint pen, 8 1/2 x 11".
  10. JOHN CAMERON MITCHELL, “THE SEX FILM PROJECT” First Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) did a nationwide search to find great actors who were willing and able to have real sex on camera, then he workshopped with them (in the style of Mike Leigh) to create a narrative structure that aims to be as funny and moving as any of the great movies about relationships (he admires The Heartbreak Kid and Stardust Memories)—but filled with emotionally complex sex. He shoots the movie this summer, so we can expect it next year. But in the meantime, I would like to salute Mitchell’s adherence to his own reality in the face of a deeply censorial industry at the heart of a country gnarled with sexual fear.