May 27, 2007
Cosmic Game Report
Found Films @ Filthy Film Festival Films
On September 28, 1960 a group of 23 independent filmmakers formed the New American Cinema Group. Among other mandates, the collective was to explore alternate methods of film distribution. At the time, films were distributed by large business-focused corporations. This made it difficult for small, low-budget based independent filmmakers to get their works distributed and seen.
After looking into the existing film distribution organizations, and seeing how few of them were interested in our work, I came to the conclusion that the only thing to do was to create our own cooperative film distribution center, run by ourselves (Jonas Mekas).
On January 7th, 1962 the Film-Makers Cooperative was founded. This was to be the alternate distribution mechanism for independent filmmakers.
Conflicts that emerged within this community of independent artists , were fueled by personal and social tensions that inspired the very formation of the community. Presumably, the Film-Makers Coop was an alternative to the greed system sponsored by American corporate capitalist interests. The suspicion of greed in the self-described anti-materialist context of American experimental filmmaking during the 20th century, was enough to tear at the fabric of brother and sisterhood.
The debate about the openness or the lack of selectivity, in determining what films could be distributed by the Coop is reminiscent of the more current debate between open-source application enthusiasts and the representatives of the intellectual property marketplace.
More importantly, this particular cosmic baseball game helps perpetuate the myth that avant-garde art movements, whether in subterranean mode or not, perpetually investigate the intrusion of technology into the loop.
Films, photos, videos, and other graphical ephemera are ubiquitous in the current environment. Thanks to internet locations such as youtube.com, myspace.com, video.google.com, it is possible to view once difficult to find films and, perhaps even more exciting, it is possible to discover once unknown work.
The players on the Found Films team were developed using the Google video site. Search terms were tested to determine the number of results for different types or categories of "films." For example, searching for records using the two words "home movie" yielded 96,453 results. Using the expanded search term "personal home movie" the number of results decreased to 941. Searching for "experimental movie" yielded 16,075 results and the search term "avant-garde film" resulted in 1,395 "hits." (The searching was conducted on the day of the game.)
The 2007 Filthy Film Festival was hosted by the Bolex Poetics Commune (www.bolexpoetics.com) in May. Over four hundred entries were submitted and ultimately 50 of those candidates got projected at the festival. The players on this cosmic team represent entrants that received at least one (1) vote from one of the judgment committees. (The pitcher, Cecilia, won third prize at the festival.)
May 22, 2007
New Cosmic Team?
A serious rumor floating through the halls of the Cosmic Baseball Association is that a new cosmic team for next season will be organized and headed by representatives of the young entrepreneurs known as the Milton Twins. At first we thought the twins themselves would be nominated to play cosmic baseball but it was never clear which team they would be eligible for. They were not born between February 19 and March 21 (Pisces); they are not musicians (Dragons), members of the Beat Generation (Beats), U.S. Presidents (Presidents), or internet domains (Domains, although there is a www.miltontwins.com domain registered to "Sampson Investments AVV" in the Dutch West Indies.
The Milton Twins
The proposed team would be an all-female group of "sex workers" according to an anonymous spokesperson for the organizing group. It is known that the CBA is looking to replace the deactivated Vestal Virgins, an always popular cosmic baseball team. But nobody knows if the CBA plans to add another team next season. If not, the only hope the Milton Twins have of playing ball in the CBA is if one or more of the five existing teams is deactivated.
Even if a spot is available through decontraction or deactivation, there is not absolute certainty that a Milton Twins team would be selected to fill the vacancy. Nevertheless, The Twins are busy working on the proposal and want to be ready if the chance arises.
An interesting side note. We were particularly interested in the category of "sex workers" the team would emphasize. Would the players, like the Milton Twins themselves, be drawn from the adult entertainment enterprise zones (pornographic stars), or would the team welcome other sex workers such as prostitutes? When asked about potential players, representatives of the Milton Twins were vague. There is, we surmise, a certain level of political correctness that must be maintained (or feigned) during the nomination process. (We hasten to point out that at this time there has not been an official team nomination, based on the logs at the cosmic team nomination center in Washington, D.C.
May 14, 2007
2007 Mother's Day Game
The Prostitutes won this game but not until the very last moment in the bottom of the ninth inning. The Prostitutes spent most of the game down by two runs and it appeared heading into the bottom of the ninth that the holy-than-thou Nuns would win this year's version of the Mother's Day game. However, thanks to Jack Kerouac's whore, the prostitutes won the game on the strength of Tristessa's double.
Nuns @ Prostitutes
For the most part this was a tense pitching duel between Viridiana (for the Nuns) and Rahab (the biblical prostitute from the Book of Joshua). Viridiana gave up four walks and two of those bases-on-balls were yielded in the ninth...that is what did the Nuns in, we believe.
This was, not surprisingly, given it is the Mother's Day game, a game played by women. Again, not surprisingly, many cosmic baseball fans wonder when CBA will have another all-female team in the regular playing leagues. Since contraction, there are no longer any all women teams (like the now de-activated Vestal Virgins and Motherland Mothers.) We have heard rumors, only rumors, that a group led by the Milton Twins [update above] is preparing to nominate a team for next season. No official word...yet.
Finally...we hope all you mothers out there had a very nice Mother's Day yesterday.
May 5, 2007
An anonymous group of supporters of United States Navy commander Harlan Ullman and former Deputy Secretary of State Randall Tobias has nominated Ms. Deborah Jeane Palfrey to be a Cosmic Baseball Association umpire. Election to the CBA's umpiring staff requires some evidence of ethical deficiency. The formal nomination papers as filled out and filed by the anonymous group today indicate that the basic ethical violations perpetrated by Ms. Palfrey are indiscretion and hypocrisy. A number of supporting materials have been provided with the nomination documents including a two minute, 10 second video film. (A link to that supporting video evidence is provided below. ***WARNING*** The film deals with topics related to sexuality and includes six seconds of nudity.).
Deborah Jeane Palfrey Nominated
The fact that Ms. Palfrey has been indicted by the United States government is not relevant in the umpire nomination process since Ms. Palfrey is presumed innocent until proven guilty. (If she is subsequently convicted, that fact can be entered into the nomination file as additional supporting data.)
Even if Ms. Palfrey is found guilty of running a sexual prostitution business that she started in 1993 that fact might not be sufficient. Lord knows the umpire rosters would explode if prostitution were a sufficient reason for nomination. The sufficient reason the anonymous group provides for the nomination is Ms. Palfrey's willingness to exploit former customers and to be hypocritical if not downright dishonest.
In the case of former deputy secretary of state Tobias, his resignation is directly related to Ms. Palfrey. Apparently, Mr. Tobias' name appeared in records maintained by Ms. Palfrey. When "confronted" in April by the media about his relationship to Ms. Palfrey, the former director of U.S. foreign assistance claimed he used Ms. Palfrey's business for massages, not sex. Even so, he resigned from his federal government job on April 27.
Records indicate that Ms. Palfrey's business employed approximately 130 college-age and college-educated women over the thirteen-year period she ran Pamela Martin & Associates, advertised as a "professional adult/outcall agency." Customers apparently paid between $200-$300 for an hour or so with one of the women "escorts." On May 3, the Associated Press reported that an instructor at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland had worked for Ms. Palfrey's business as an "escort." (An U.S. naval Academy representative said they have no information about the claim.)
In our time, the word "escort" has become, in some contexts, synonymous with "prostitute." Most of the public's focus had been on the so-called "list of names" of customers that Ms. Palfrey turned over to a national media organization. The legal strategy has been to get former customers to come forward and indicate that this was not a prostitution business. It was, in Ms. Palfrey's words, a "legal massage and sexual fantasy operation."
The nomination materials provide a secondary sufficient reason for Ms. Palfrey's enrollment on the umpire roster. The secondary claim is that Palfrey is further eroding the meanings of important human interactions; a trend began in earnest during the William Clinton presidential administration when some concluded that "oral" sex was not really sex. Palfrey, however, does recognize that it is illegal to pay someone to engage in oral sexual behavior.
The White-Slave Act (also known as the Mann Act), as passed by the 61st Congress on June 25, 1910 was an attempt to curtail the practice of prostitution. The Act also demonstrated the complexities of
trying to legislate morality, especially sexual morality.
The levels of hypocrisy are several. Ms. Palfrey's pretense that she is not in the lucrative center of a prostitution ring is transparent. "John" Tobias' attempt to distort or deflect the reason he called Pamela Martin & Associates is also hypocritical.
In any case, since the nomination review process is extensive. The earliest we might see Ms. Palfrey umpiring a cosmic baseball game is next season.
Link to video film documentation
supporting Deborah Jeane Palfrey's nomination to be a Cosmic Baseball Association Umpire
The film deals with topics related to sexuality and includes six seconds of nudity.
Ed. Note: Video Link REMOVED 5/3/2008
May 4, 2007
Presidential Prospects Game Report
Donkeys @ Elephants
The Washington Presidents will be drafting a new player next season (2008). Periodically a game between the potential rookies is played on the cosmic baseball field to see which candidate stands out. The current authorized list of candidate rookies is based on the recent televised debates between the hopefuls.
The 2008 presidentials prospects have played seven games (earlier game notes) and the Democratic prospects have the edge in the early stages, 5-2 games. In this most recent game, the Democrats outscored their rivals 6-1.
Which candidates are standing out, on either side of the aisle? After seven games, Democratic Senator Joe Biden of Delaware and Republican Representative Ron Paul of Texas' 14th congressional district are the noteworthy candidates with regard to the statistical data. It is early in the game but it is unlikely that either Biden or Paul will end up being the Washington Presidents rookie draft choice next year.
May 1, 2007
Washington Presidents general manager Martha Washington announced in a statement delivered by e-mail today that James Hampton has replaced Karl Rove as field manager of the team. The message came moments after the Presidents lost a game, 7-0, to the Paradise Pisces.
James Hampton Replaces Karl Rove
Karl Rove has twice been named the team's manager so there is some speculation about whether or not he will return. Of course, the answer to that question lies in the answer to why Rove is no longer the team's field manager.
Rove was originally hired in November 2004 to replace John Hancock (News Item Link). At the beginning of last season (March 2006) Andrew Card replaced Rove without explanation (News Item Link). And on December 31, 2006 Rove replaced Card in a switch that was never officially announced or explained.
The Presidents have been faltering ever since they won the 2003 Cosmic Universal Series. Neither Rove nor Card nor Rove have been able to turn things around. Was Rove fired or did he quit? Mrs. Washington's e-mail does not say and the rumors provide evidence for both options. The bottom line is that Rove is out and now it is the turn of the unlikely James Hampton to lead the nation's chief executives.
Fans of cosmic baseball are already familiar with Hampton. He was both a pitcher (1984-1987) and an infielder (1993-1994) for the now deactivated Bhutan Vanguards, CBA's team of artists. In 1999 the CBA honored Hampton's life, work and contribution to his community with a memorial plate.
Visitors to the Smithsonian's American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. (F and 8th Streets, NW) may also be familiar with Hampton's sculpture now located in the West Wing of the Museum's first floor. It was originally built by Hampton in a garage located at 1133 N Street NW, approximately one mile away.
The complex work built over a fourteen year period has been moved around. For example, during the Museum's extensive renovation Hampton's piece (actually it consists of nearly 180 pieces) was moved to Williamsburg, Virginia and displayed in the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum. (Rockefeller was a prominent socialite and philanthropist and the second-generation matriarch of the renowned Rockefeller family.)
The 19 year-old Hampton came to Washington, D.C. from his native South Carolina to live with his older brother in 1928. He found work as a short-order cook in the nation's capital until 1942 when at the age of 33 he was drafted by the United States Army. Published records indicate he was in a non-combatant unit that served in Texas, Hawaii and Guam. After an honorable discharge from the army in 1946 Hampton secured a job as a nightshift custodian with the federal government's General Services Administration.
In 1950 Hampton rented the N St. garage from Mr. Meyer Wertlieb. It was Wertlieb who discovered Hampton's masterpiece shortly after Hampton died of stomach cancer on November 4, 1964. As a result of the landlord's discovery the Washington Post published an article called "Tinsel, Mystery are Sole Legacy of Lonely Man's Strange Vision." Apparently Wertlieb sold Hampton's artwork to two people who donated it anonymously in 1970 to the National Museum of American Art, now called the Smithsonian American Art Museum. (Parenthetically, this chronology explains why the piece is designated by the museum with the identification number 1970.353.1).
It is not by accident or oversight that we have yet to provide the name of Hampton's monumental sculpture. Its title is as complex as the sculpture ma itself.The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations' Millennium General Assembly consists of 180 pieces overall and includes gold and silver aluminum foil, Kraft paper, and plastic over wood furniture, paperboard and glass. It's dimensions: 10 1/2 x 27 x 14 1/2 ft.
In addition to the sculpture, Hampton left behind almost 200 pages of encrypted writings in a notebook entitled "St. James: The Book of 7 Dispensation." Interesting work has been done trying to mine the meaning of the artist's secret language. (See the work of Dennis Jay Stallings.) In addition to the title there are numerous theological references including the two words atop the throne, "Fear Not." This is a reference to Revelation 1:17. The inscription "Where there is no vision the people perish" found with the structure and in Hampton's encoded notebook is derived from the 29th Proverb.
The "third heaven" from the object's title is perhaps less clear although one commentator provides some clues. "This rare biblical phrase appears in II Corinthians 12:2, where we find Paul the Apostle describing probably his own mystical experience of being 'caught up in the third heaven.' From the context of the passage the Third Heaven appears to be synonymous with paradise." ("St. James the Janitor" by Steve Marshall at Forteantimes-Note: Registration required for link to work). Mr. Marshall further identifies the influence the dispensationalist movement might have had on Hampton.
In an essay on Hampton an author writes that "It's worth noting that recognition of the Throne ultimately came from the artistic community, not the religious community." (Mike Walsh, "The Miracle of St. James Hampton") What caught the art community's attention about this piece? It has been referred to as "assemblage" art, an idea that gained some currency towards the end of the 1950s into the 1960s. (Bruce Conner is just one of several members associated with the group of experimental filmmakers known as the New American Cinema that we ephemerally connected to Hampton and his visionary work. We also see a resonance between Hampton and the filmmaker Bruce Baillie who made the deeply religious and visionary film Mass for the Dakota Sioux. For more information on New American Cinema and experimental film in the 1960s and 1970s see P. Adams Sitney Visionary Film and Paul Arthur A Line of Sight.) Folk art, visionary art, outsider art are also names denoting art categories that Hampton's throne can subscribe to.
Art historians have been intrigued with Hampton's work. An insightful observation is made by a Duke professor of art history when he writes,
Although frequently referred to in a disparaging and mocking way, the notion of someone having "a vision" is a concept that, in this period of methodological sampling and cultural reassessment, owes much of its existence and currency to those art historians who study artists and artistic traditions that are outside of the conventional, art-historical categories. For example, where does one place the Washington, D.C., artist and itinerant preacher, James Hampton (1909-1964), whose singular and extraordinary life's work, The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations Millennium General Assembly (ca. 1950-64), is a dazzling testament to the modern art assemblage, spiritual enthronement, and "vision"? Under the heading "modern sculpture"? Under the generic category "art of the United States"? Or among representations of the spiritual in modern art? Unfortunately, Hampton's creation is usually discussed within the terms of "outsider" and/or African American art: categories that, while useful and informative in their own, respective, highly specialized ways, frequently obstruct more comparative and complex readings. (Richard J. Powell, "Art, History and Vision".)
To behold the throne in person is probably necessary. Indeed most commentators point out that it must be beheld to be understood or appreciated. The latter is true. A team of scholars from the Cosmic Baseball Research Alliance have taken several field trips to behold the throne in the museum and they attest to increased appreciation but understanding...that has proven to be elusive for some of the scholars.
It may well be that Mrs. Washington's desire to make the Presidents a winning team has led her to focus on more communal and spiritual team skills than Karl Rove demonstrated. If this speculation is accurate, the hermetic James Hampton, a man who dedicated his life to spiritually understanding the paradoxical meaning of community might be the right man at the right time to manage the Washington Presidents.