Wednesday, January 31, 2018

the infinitude of hotel corridors

Whoever put a mirror at the end of this very, very long corridor either had a sense of humor, or had been looking at too much Max Escher, or was looking to confuse people at the end of a long day's travel, or was merely providing a photo op for someone looking to document the unarguable fact: that after a few in quick succession, big box corporate hotels all start to look very much like one another.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

strung across the los angeles sky

If one is crazed enough to live in Los Feliz and to have an appointment with one's (wonderful) Westside dentist that means that one's driving home in rush hour - a trip that look so long that Trump's SOTU address rolled along on NPR, and I made my throat sore yelling at the radio - if one's that crazed, it's a good thing to have a super moon, a blue moon, a soon-to-be-eclipsed-moon (my dentist threatened to call me up so that I wouldn't miss this in the early hours of the morning) to admire, strung - look! no wires! - across the sky.

Monday, January 29, 2018


This is the residue, I'm sure, of some student group meetings with school students on campus at the weekend (it's so good when job candidates ask one about community engagement and outreach at USC to be able be genuine in one's enthusiasm for how much goes on.  Even if that involves chalking the footpaths).  Curiously, this didn't make me think about the piece I should be polishing up on pavement artists, but rather of some lines from the Introduction to Zahid Chaudhary's Afterimage of Empire (which we'll be discussing in class tomorrow):
         Habit is critical to the business of perception, because it is what allows us to filter out objects
         from consciousness in order to get through the day; if every object were subjected to our
         attention we could never move forward.
(echoes of George Eliot; squirrels' hearts, etc. here, of course).  But rereading these lines brought me up sharp against the raison d'ĂȘtre - or one of them, perhaps the main one - for this blog: to subject things to my attention that I might pass over without, as it were, seeing.  In other words, what I'm up to - at best! - is habit-breaking in my own seeing.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

hawk of the day

This afternoon's quick but energetic and hilly hike in Griffith Park (necessary, very necessary, before departing to our respective job-talk dinners) - and observed by this splendid raptor, who then swooped down low over our heads and, deeming us inedible, glided on.

street corner

I really should go back to this corner on Vermont. and take a photo of the splendid figure on horseback on the right-hand wall - unfortunately, the bus I was on didn't stop at the right angle.  And I was on a bus, to pick up the loaner car that was parked at USC, to go and pick up - Allelujah! - my own mended, cleaned, and generally great to see again car.  That was a lot of effort to go through for a thorough car wash and vacuum (insert whole line of manically grinning faces)...

Friday, January 26, 2018

flying home

Flying home - and a very fast flight it was, too.  So fast that, of course, it arrived at LAX a very long time before there was a gate for it ... 

It's been a very good week for working on planes - I find them such wonderfully quiet spaces where, really, there's not a whole lot else going on to distract one, and very few incentives to get up, walk around, or generally procrastinate ...

Thursday, January 25, 2018


My head was down, working, for much of today - but if I craned my neck from the window ... It was a waste of a sunny (if chilly) New York day, from that perspective (though I did manage a walk, and some coffee, early this morning).  The strange light on the left has something to do with the NYC grubby window, to be sure - but there was a wonderful golden glow, all the same.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

a less spectacular NYC view

Hardly the NYC view that I would have chosen ... and very much what's left when one arrives at one's hotel at the dead of night.  But the major news is that it's so much warmer outside than it was a couple of weeks ago (and yes, it's still below freezing ...).

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

photography at LACMA

To LACMA tonight, to the USC VSRI/LACMA photo seminar - with Ryan Linkof talking about paparazzi photography, and the history of paparazzi photography and the English tabloid press (opening with a paparazzi shot of Prince William having a pee through a wire fence at a polo match, which is an image I'd never seen before, and now provides me with visual info I guess I'm going to have to work to eradicate).  This was not the only memorable part, however - it was an excellent taster for his new book, Public Images: Celebrity, Photojournalism, and the Making of the Tabloid Press.  Here he is, listening attentively to his respondent: I don't think this can quite be called a paparazzi image, since he's elegantly posed, even if ostensibly not noticing what I'm up to - and any way, I had time to neatly frame the shot.

Outside, of course, the usual lamp-post framing was going on ...

Monday, January 22, 2018

breakfast scrutiny

Moth was looking at me very, very hard during breakfast.  Or, rather, she spent breakfast sizing up the fact that I had some yogurt in my bowl.

Sunday, January 21, 2018


oh, you know - if I'm posting images like this, it means that I've had my head down for the whole day working, and that I can't post about all the applications-of-one-kind-or-another stuff that I've been reading - other than to say Gosh: when I was a graduate student, or for that matter in my early years as an academic, I was unprofessionalized and clueless beyond belief - by today's standards, at least.

pet shop wall

On the wall outside one of our local pet stores, on Hillhurst.  Something tells me that this mural artist is probably more comfortable painting dogs, but felt that they had to cater to all possible customers ...

Friday, January 19, 2018

more grids

A strangely dull day - what passes as Los Angeles winter (it was chilly, too).  Here are some more campus grids - dullish green leaves against an even duller beige wall, that seems to be encaged in solid mesh in the hope (probably not a vain hope) that this plant will grow and cover it.  But these leaves look slightly wilting and certainly soot-spotted: a statement about the LA polluted climate, to be sure.  Or maybe (watching the Senate ambling around each other, with 34 minutes to go until a government shut-down, barring some improbable deal) a metaphor for blighted rule.

Thursday, January 18, 2018


... and then there are those flat-out days and evenings when, out to dinner with a job candidate, you suddenly think - oh my goodness: I haven't yet taken a photograph today, and you look around you, in crazed desperation, and there are, mercifully, some wine glasses sitting on a shelf in a restaurant.  Most of the time, you would manage to get them in focus.  Somehow today wasn't one of those days. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

awards season gears up

It's that time of the year again ... coming out of my usual carpark today, I see that they're putting up the tents (and soon, doubtless, the red carpet) for the SAG - the Screen Actors Guild - awards this Sunday at the Shrine, which is directly opposite.  

As a bonus - today's sunset.  If awards and glitz and red carpet represent one kind of Los Angeles clichĂ©, throw in some palm trees and a glowing sky.  Never mind the fact that it's apparently going to be unnaturally chilly for most of the weekend...

Tuesday, January 16, 2018


Dead leaves on a grating on campus.  The undergraduate who passed me as I was taking this gave me a very strange look indeed, but I knew that I found this curiously satisfactory as a juxtaposition of order and disorder (and maybe as an antidote to teaching three hours of Victorian art?).

Monday, January 15, 2018

one more local (January) view

It's the silver lake of Silver Lake - it being MLK day, we treated ourselves to a middle of a Monday walk round it, dodging runners and over-friendly dogs, and trying our best to gear ourselves up for the rest of the semester.  Only fifteen more weeks! (and one of those is Spring Break).  

Sunday, January 14, 2018

for those who might think that Los Angeles is nothing but urban sprawl

... a boring photograph, yes, in and of itself ... but it's from Griffith Park, looking down onto our house.  Find that white clump of buildings, more or less dead central - then go very, very slightly to the right of them - next house along - and ours is the ochre building, trying to pretend that it's in Tuscany.  

Actually, the photograph that should have been here turned out surprisingly out of focus - an LAPD officer patrolling incognito - at least, not in uniform, and on his cell phone - on a chestnut horse.  Only it's hard to be incognito, really, when your saddlery is all stamped LAPD (and no, I checked - city ordinances prohibit selling any police equipment, so I guess this wasn't second hand tack).  The police stables are just down in Atwater Village.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

some Silver Lake tranquillity

En route, on foot, to the Silver Lake Farmers' Market this morning, and very much enjoying other people's front gardens.  Especially in January, I never take the quiet beauty of this place for granted - we're so very lucky to live somewhere that consistently has something soothing to offer the eye and mind.  After this week, this was very much welcome ...

Friday, January 12, 2018

photographing scratches

Another morning spent gathering documentary evidence ... well, o.k., not for that long ... I took my car into the body shop (Service King on N. San Fernando, for anyone interested, who were wonderfully cheerful and efficient, and kept trying to press pastries and even fried potato balls from Porto's, in Glendale, on me - I think I should have a tee-shirt made saying She Resisted).  The diagnosis was a little gloomy - such was the impact the other day that not just the bumper, but the whole back trunk area sustained that they thought there might be Invisible Damage, and it might take a couple of weeks to sort out.  But the insurance pays for a rental car - so I was ferried off to a peculiarly inept branch of Enterprise, who seemed baffled by everyone standing around wanting to rent vehicles.  They tried to give me a car for a day, saying I could come back and change it tomorrow.  I demurred.  So they've rented me a huge GMC Acadia, a three-row-seat behemoth, for as long as it takes.  There must be things I can do with this ... I could fit a small pony in there if I put the seats down, or maybe three or four sheep.   Cautiously, though (they really were inept), I took photographs of every slightest ding and dent and scratch on it.  Or I tried to - all I really managed to capture was me taking these evidentiary images ...

Thursday, January 11, 2018

damp morning views

It's still damp and misty in the morning, even though it stopped raining on Tuesday evening.  Here are a couple of views from the far end of our yard, dripping with moisture - one view off in the general direction of Atwater Village and Eagle Rock, the other of the back of our house.  The berries seem very autumnal, but that's always the way at this time of year - seasons here bear no resemblance to anything anywhere else in the US or Europe ...

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

I stopped at the lights. She didn't.

Bang.  That was very uncomfortable.  OR ... Los Angeles careless driving: Lights turned yellow en route to work; I looked in the mirror; saw this Nissan was a safe distance behind me; braked; stopped.  She just carried on, straight into the back of me, shunting my car forward a car's length.  I got out - fully expecting to see the whole rear of my car caved in.  However ... one missing signal light cover - that trail of red; a small dent and some abrasions on the bumper.  Her car, on the other hand, was in a sorry way.  So - albeit shaken and achey all over, I'm fine.  But oh - the length of time that it takes to deal with insurance; body shops, etc etc etc.  

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

after rain

All the way home, the drive was beautiful, whichever way one looked - preternaturally clear evening light; thick yellow gold clouds; white clouds sitting low over the mountains, and this extraordinary rainbow.  It actually arched all the way round - but there's a limit to what one can capture when leaning out of one's window at traffic lights.

Monday, January 8, 2018

a damp tree trunk

It's been about eleven months since we last saw significant rainfall in Los Angeles, so today - which might have been rather like an English early November in terms of climate - was actually a wonderful treat.  Apart from the roads, that is - Angelenos tend to behave as though they've never seen wet roads before, and panic (and the roads are greasy after all this dry time, and the moisture and old oil work to make the road markings barely legible).  On campus, though, the grass turned a bright green, and the tree trunks outside Taper Hall developed extraordinary textured patches of cracking grey bark and deep rusty colored bark.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

a very cold job

That would be working as a cab dispatcher outside the Marriott Marquis - or any Manhattan hotel, in this weather.  I felt for him and his three companions ... this was en route back to the far, far warmer climes of Los Angeles.  I love New York, but ...

Saturday, January 6, 2018

MLA18 - on display!

I was so very happy that Flash! was so well displayed at the OUP stall at the MLA book exhibit!  I went to look for it, with an nonchalant and incognito air - and as I sidled up to the table, could see that a copy of Flash! was actually in someone's hands ... this person was saying to one of the OUP people manning the stall - "I knew her!  We were at a conference in Marburg together!  She spent her time going round taking photographs of everything! And ..." at which point I elbowed him, and then rescued him from his embarrassment.  (and no - he didn't then purchase a copy, which would have been the ultra-cool-and-tactful thing to do ...).  Then, in embarrassment at being caught celebrating my own book - though after thanking the people on the stall for taking such great care of it - I sidled off again ...

Friday, January 5, 2018

one down; one to go

... that is: one paper down, and one to go; one morning's interviewing down, and one to go ... and it is FREEZING COLD outside.  That is all.

Oh, and if anyone's wondering what the view from my window is like today - pretty good!  But don't get fooled by the appearance of sunshine.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Times Square, around noon

... or, to be precise, 11.53 a.m.  This is the counterpart to yesterday's image ... By now, mid-evening, the snow has cleared off and out, but there are very few people down below - and it's getting colder, and colder.   

It's strange - one thinks (o.k., I think) of a day in a hotel room as a kind of luxury, allowing one to catch up on work; to do some quiet, peaceful thinking; to take a step back.  Forget it - it's partly like that, to be sure - at least, I've done a good deal of actual work, so if I owe you something, and you're wondering where it is, you have a better chance of getting it sooner rather than later.  (For "work," read all kinds of bits of admin).  My yesterday evening's choice of a very healthy salad combination from Whole Foods (detox green!  Kale! more kale!  brussel sprouts!! green grapes!! etc) seemed like a dismally chilly selection when it came to lunch.  I was super-grateful this evening for a large martini from the hotel bar - looked hopefully around for other marooned MLA-ers, but none in sight - and passed up The Remainder of the Kale in favor of less than healthy cheese.   As for thinking - yes, my self-control stretches as far as periodically turning on CNN and seeing the latest about Michael Wolff's book.

I think, too, that I'm reconsidering my firmly held, up to now, belief in the value of Skype interviews over physical ones.  Physical ones are fine - providing (a) you offer the option of Skype (b) those who want to be there in person can be there.  We managed (a).  But this is an impossible time of the year, and I really feel for all our interviewees who are variously delayed, trapped, plan-changed, and so on - let alone my colleague who's still in LA (well, o.k., maybe I feel less for them, since they posted a picture of a peculiarly delicious looking margarita last night).  I've been apprehensive about technology letting Skypers down; feel that at nerve-inducing MLA everyone's more or less seen on equal terms.  But.  I'd be here anyway - the next couple of days are for me a chance to promote Flash! in one way or another, in addition to the interviews for a new colleague - but I may have drawn that line under conference interviewing.  We'll see.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

waiting for snow ...

Rather improbably, this is my view from my MLA room, looking down over Times Square ... I am one of the lucky ones who's made it into NYC today, rather than waiting for whatever travel nightmares tomorrow is going to throw.  For once, my hyper-caution about conference travel (when it comes to allowing time for things to go wrong when interviewing candidates, anyway - and, indeed, when it comes to paper-giving) may have paid off.  Snow, the forecast tells me, will begin in the middle of the night, and will dump somewhere between 3-6 inches (the numbers keep changing), with 40-50 mph wind gusts.  I can't wait to see what this will look like, swirling past my window - even if it does rather get in the way of other plans that I had ... Oh, and then it's going to get very cold.  Like -3, by Saturday night ...

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

bathroom design

On a day of driving through spectacular scenery (for the route from Winslow back home to Los Angeles crosses spectacular swathes of mountain and wildness), you might well be forgiven for asking - why this corner of a bathroom in Winslow?  Answer (a) - well, mostly, I was driving, and driving at the speed limit (or, yes, a calculated mile or so above) in the interests of getting home in more-or-less daylight.  And (b) - there is something curiously satisfying, and unremarkable, about this.

Monday, January 1, 2018

on the road ...

Moth (and LucyFur) always like staying in the Tom Ford room at La Posada, Winslow ... plenty to see out of the window; some good cane chairs to scratch up; the interesting smells from the little styrofoam boxes that we brought back from our (copious) dinner; the potential for waking us up in the middle of the night by banging into the iron handles at the corners of the rustic table ...  Actually this was meant to be a striking picture of the full moon rising over Winslow, but I left my photo-downloader contraption in the car, and truly, it's too chilly to go out and get it ...