Friday, April 1, 2016

Oscar de la Renta at the De Young /// AND /// Ta-Ta For Now!

I don't think of myself as a big Oscar de la Renta fan--in my mind his clothes are associated with wasp-y society women (and I don't think I'm completely wrong about that)--but, as with nearly any creative pursuit elevated by imagination and execution to the point of high artistry, there turned out to be a vast amount to enjoy about his work at the new show at the de Young Museum, which Mabel and I had the pleasure of visiting over the weekend. Things I particularly enjoyed: the colors (loads of pretty pastels perfect for viewing on Easter Sunday) and the exquisite construction--just look at that pleating, that draping!

In other news, I'm about to depart on a three-month-long sabbatical. This is a tremendously exciting chance to sequester myself away and work on my own creative projects, as well as spend some much-needed relaxing time with my family. Accordingly, I'll be putting this here blog on hiatus until I get back in July.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

And So Concludes the Very Long Poem Series About 2005 and 2006

August 23, 2006
God I’m such a dork

So I just cleaned the mouse on my computer
and oh my god it’s the most amazing thing ever
so smooth and glide-y and wonderful

It goes wherever I point it
It doesn’t stutter and balk or make little rattling noises
And you would not believe the amount of crap I cleaned out of there either
All this weird sticky lint adhered to the little wheels inside
So very gross yet therefore all the more strangely satisfying to remove
And clearly all that disgusting gunk was like majorly impeding functionality

Overall a great experience that I’d highly recommend
to anyone in need of a little afternoon pick-me-up
God I’m such a dork

image source is here

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Ask an Art Book Editor, Volume 2

I had the honor of getting to write Ask an Art Book Editor, Volume 2 for the Chronicle Books blog the other day (companion piece to Ask an Art Book Editor and This is What Your Art Book Proposal Needs). Folks write in with questions about publishing in general, and art book publishing in particular, and I respond (as best I can!). Reposting it here for your reading enjoyment--

Who buys art books? Second question (maybe harder): why?
While there is, of course, always an art audience for art books (for example: a fine-art photography audience for fine-art photography books, a museum-going audience for exhibition catalogs, etc.), what particularly fascinates me is the even bigger audience that we can potentially reach with our publishing. If you make art books that are essentially democratic and populist in nature, then you are suddenly inviting a whole lot more people to the art party. What this can mean is that people are coming to art books who don’t necessarily think of themselves as “art people”—perhaps they’re drawn to the subject matter, or are fans of the author on social media, or perhaps the book is just so visually striking or physically exciting as an object that they can’t resist picking it up in the store. Those are all very real reasons why people who may or may not self-identify as “art book buyers” buy art books.
What did you study to become a publisher? What’s your opinion of publishing graduate programs as a way for recent graduates to get a start in publishing?
I have an undergraduate degree in Communications and a master’s in English Literature. Those are both pretty good general qualifications to work in the publishing industry—though I have to admit that publishing was not what I had in mind when I got either one. Since I work on art books, the one thing I might change if I had it to do all over again would be to get some art school in there somewhere. But, then again, that just goes to show that if you have a good basic grounding in your education, you can be self-taught and learn on the job when it comes to category expertise. I don’t know any cookbook editors who went to culinary school, and while most humor book editors are quite funny people, they certainly never went to school for funniness.
I’m a big fan of graduate publishing courses, and also of publishing internships. If you want to get started in publishing, either a publishing course or an internship can be a great way to get around that age-old job-hunting paradox of needing to have experience to get a job, but needing to have a job to get experience.
What is a typical day in the life for you at work?
Honestly? Email and meetings. A big part of book editing is project management, and a big part of project management is email—making sure everything is moving smoothly and everyone is on track, tackling problems and questions as they arise, sending materials back and forth with authors, and much, much more. We also meet a lot with our teams here in-house, both to work on the projects currently in the pipeline, and also to develop and acquire new projects. I also meet with current authors, if they’re local, a fair bit, and am constantly meeting with new talent, agents, and folks with ideas to discuss new projects and the possibility of working together.
People have an image in their minds of the editor sitting there marking changes onto a printed manuscript with a red pencil, and, yes, on occasion I do actually do that—but I have to chuckle to myself almost every time I do, because I always think “Ha! I’m doing that thing! The thing people think book editors do all day long!” In reality, because I work on art books, the editorial process more often involves printing out a whole bunch of images and spreading them out on the floor than it does getting out my red pencil.
Is there a “special” library you all have to enjoy?
We have a book room of our current books for when we need to grab copies to look at or send out to people. We also have an amazing archive room with a copy of every single book Chronicle has ever published going back to the 1960s. But, beyond that, all our desks have bookshelves, and almost every person in this building has their own little library of books at their desk that pertain to their own job. So I’ve got shelves of art books—both ones I’ve worked on and ones from other publishers—some of which I reference frequently, and others I just like having nearby because they make me feel inspired.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job?
Hands down, it’s the moment when the advances come in. Advances are finished copies of the book that are fast-tracked to us from the printer as soon as the printing and binding are done. It’s the first time we get to hold the finished book in our hands—this thing that we’ve been working on, often for several years. It’s the moment when, all of a sudden, you get to see the fruits of your labor. And then as fast as you can, you send them off to the author. Getting to write someone a note that says “Here is your book, congratulations!”, getting to see how it all came together and now there is this amazing thing that didn’t exist before—I’ve done it hundreds of times and, let me tell you, it never ever gets old. It’s a thrill every time.
Photo by Irene Kim Shepherd

Tuesday, March 29, 2016


I've known about Hamilton--the Broadway musical created by Lin-Manuel Miranda, telling the story of founding father Alexander Hamilton in rap and hip-hop tunes--for quite some time now. In fact last time I was in New York I tried to buy a ticket (bahahahahaha! that maniacal laughter should give you a sense of how well that went. Although, side note, I did see Fun Home on that trip which was positively transcendent). So, anyway, I knew about the play's existence and thought it sounded very cool and imagined that some day (maybe when it comes to San Francisco in 2017) I might manage to see it. But it never occurred to be to buy the record of a show I'd never seen. That is until I read Wesley Morris' piece in this New York Times Magazine "Spectacular" 25 Songs That Tell Us Where Music is Going (scroll down to #2). Morris writes so convincingly about the Hamilton cast recording, saying things like "Even if you can’t score tickets, the cast album is its own transcendent experience. ...a 46-number souvenir for an experience most of us won’t be experiencing. At less than $20...this is a more-than-adequate substitute for the budget-conscious. It’s a gateway to obsession. To know someone who has this album is to know someone who needs a restraining order." And, at least if my own experience is anything to go on, Mr Morris knows whereof he speaks. It's not only an insanely good album, but listening to a story told in music in this way is a new and thrilling experience (as opposed to listening to a record to remember a show you saw--without having seen the show the record becomes its own stand-alone thing). I've owned my digital copy of this album for two weeks and my obsession is full-blown. It's a bit too embarrassing to admit all the various permutations said obsession takes, but other funny and clever people have very accurately depicted it here and here. But let's be kind to ourselves (supposing at least a few of you reading this may share my enthusiasm), shall we, and call it inspiration rather than obsession?

Monday, March 28, 2016

Advanced Tummy Time

One of the (vast vast number of) things about having a kid that constantly amazes and surprises me is how she has the exact same face now as she did five years ago. Why should this be a shock? What else did I expect? But nevertheless it still gets me every time.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Sarah Awad

I had a great time visiting the fine folks at the Dryansky Gallery the other day. It was the last day of their show In the Footsteps of Masters. The show featured three fantastic artists--but the one whose work I loved most of all was Sarah Awad. At first glance you might think her paintings are entirely abstract, but upon closer inspection they reveal themselves to be female nudes. Her brushwork is masterly and the colors are phenomenal. Enjoy them! And a very happy Art Friday to you!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Holy Crap You Guys We Have Reached the Penultimate Poem Not Only in the Series About the Summer of 2006, But In The Much Larger Series About The Entire Year of 2005/2006

August 22, 2006

an odd thing occurred to me
namely that I love the windows
in the office ladies room

one wall of said restroom faces
onto the big square airshaft
that runs down through the center of the building
making each whole floor a big rectangular donut

and in this wall are two
of the huge old original windows
which are as everyone knows
by far the best thing
about this building

these particular two
being bathroom windows
are of frosted glass
nevertheless they let in
a considerable amount
of natural light

exposure to which
even during the short span of time
required for a visit to the restroom
makes one feel altogether more human
than would the horrid fluorescents alone
which make people look and feel
like green-tinged corpses

image source is here