17 August 2010

Kilroy Was Here

Filed under: Culture, Psychology, Reflections — ktismatics @ 6:56 pm

In this post Dr. Zamalek observes the plaques, affixed to buildings that line the streets of Paris, commemorating sites of historical significance. He wonders what it might be like if ordinary people mounted plaques marking the inflection points in their own lives:

“The bland café table you just passed could be where someone finally figured out his or her life after years of struggle, or perhaps where they learned the crushing news of a premature death. It would add relief and drama to one’s experience of a city.”

I like this idea. Dr. Z cautions that such a project would “inevitably attract jerks,” which depending on one’s perspective might be a good thing.


  1. Well, bully for you, I hate that post, and think it is typical of Dr. Zamalek’s pedestrian mentality. In fact, I hate almost all of her posts. All it does is make you have to look at a virtual instrument, which then informs you about a physical place, and it thereby cheapens it, because NO WAY do you get to put up your ‘egalitarian one plaque’ on some bricks. You have to look at some goddam database. This is just as hermaphroditic an idea as Dejan has recently been approaching this entity with!


    Comment by Quantity of Butchness — 17 August 2010 @ 8:11 pm

    • The subtext of what she is saying is ‘not everybody can get their works in print one after the other like me’, so just get used to your virtual ‘nice things’. Big Mama gon’ tell you how cute they are, while quoting the latest stock options on Princess of Networks. Just totally smug and confident about everything she ‘puts out’, much like the over-energized current Hollywood directors with their hyper attitudes.


      Comment by Quantity of Butchness — 17 August 2010 @ 8:15 pm

      • Plus, even THIS shit is rigidly regulated:

        “But if everyone were allowed at the ages of, say, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, and so on, to put up one virtual plaque in the city where the most important thing happened to them in the past decade, that could make for fascinating walks around the city for all of us.”

        Oh, I just think this pre-op hermaphrodite stuff is so laughingstock by now. She acts as though the ‘city’ would somehow still be walked around the same way it is before such shit happened.


        Comment by Quantity of Butchness — 17 August 2010 @ 8:29 pm

  2. Did I say I liked the virtual shit, Quantity? No, I did not. I said I liked the plaques.


    Comment by ktismatics — 17 August 2010 @ 9:54 pm

  3. But isn’t he talking about virtual plaques? not real ones? I mean, the ones for ‘everybody’? I like real plaques too, okay, I just read it again, maybe my comprehension skills are even worse than i told someone else recently. a toute a l’heure.


    Comment by Quantity of Butchness — 17 August 2010 @ 10:03 pm

  4. Sure he was talking about virtual plaques, but I want real ones. I’m not sure my plaques would “add relief and drama” though.


    Comment by ktismatics — 17 August 2010 @ 10:04 pm

    • Well, there’s the obvious problem with the real ones. They’d make the whole city (any city) totally crowded and ticky-tacky, wouldn’t they? Even if limited to one per individual, it would be a huge mess. So you’d have to do them virtually. Actually, not that terrible, I guess, to have the virtual plaques, it’s like a kind of electronic graffiti. Not that I can still see much in it, esp. how it’s going to add ‘relief and drama’. Reminds me more of ‘Miss Lonelyhearts’ than anything else. Or maybe even some hauntologies made official, I guess.

      I can’t stand the Temptress’s posts, because she is so obvious, with her saying that ‘don’t get me wrong’ about the headline about the woman slapping the baby. She always wants it both ways, which may well be the mark of the true hermaphrodite.


      Comment by Quantity of Butchness — 17 August 2010 @ 10:11 pm

  5. Yes, there would have to be some kind of artistry to this — an installation rather than a willy-nilly mental health self-help initiative. My attention has been drawn to these plaques too — the hotel where some Resistance fighter was killed by Nazis in ’44, Lacan’s first clinic, and so on. I’ve seen movies at the Biograph in Chicago, but there was no plaque marking the place where John Dillinger was gunned down by the police. I walked by the building in Paris where Jim Morrison died, but was there a plaque? There was not. The side-of-the-road plastic flower bouquets marking traffic fatalities? I’d like more details please. Maybe even some more cheerful events could be recorded, but with some sort of thematic elements tying them together.


    Comment by ktismatics — 17 August 2010 @ 10:23 pm

    • no plaque marking the place where John Dillinger was gunned down by the police.

      Yes, there should be. I’m not sure whether the Dakota has a plaque for john lennon’s murder. The Chelsea Hotel here has a bunch of plaques on the front, and that’s close. I walk by there almost every day, so I’ll see if they did a plaque for Sid and Nancy’s carnage there, I bet they didn’t. It’s mostly writers and artists who lived there, and is pretty much a haunted place, most of the people are very involved with living in it as some ‘constantly conscious experience’. I know one, but we’re no longer friends. He’s quite crackers, and has long been. The old Warhol ‘Factories’ aren’t marked either, at least the ones I know of. I think the White Horse Inn does have one for Dylan Thomas, where he’s supposed to have ‘drunk his last’, but I’m not sure. I think I tend to read about these things more than notice plaques. Your Dillinger note made me think of something like that, but now I lost it.


      Comment by Quantity of Butchness — 17 August 2010 @ 10:35 pm

  6. The Temptress has a good marketing nose* though (this is why she is able to sell so many copies despite being a 40-year old hermaphroditic OCTOPUSSY), she senses the arrival of 3D holograms a la Spielberg’s MINORITY REPORT and customized holographic advertisements that will be able to pull you by the shirt on the streets. And this is ultimately her wet dream: Objects coming to life, while all other humans (except Herself) fade into the background.

    * compare the brilliant titling of THE PRINCESS OF NETWORKS (clear, mysterious, royal) to e.g. DIFFERENCE AND GIVENNESS by Levi Bryant

    However what this image principally conjures is a live psychosis in the streets, I hope they’ll find a way to make this dive into the virtual a bit more discreet (and that we’ll retain what’s left of our privacy).


    Comment by parody center — 18 August 2010 @ 6:19 am

  7. You construct your LA pilgrimage routes from readings, which makes you a more disciplined time traveler than people who randomly happen upon plaques. In Antibes, 4 or more reproductions of landscapes are mounted at the precise vantage points where that particular famous artist must have stood/sat while painting. The exercise of naming the most important things that have happened to me in each passing decade would be less a work of memory than an artifice of self-fictionalization.


    Comment by ktismatics — 18 August 2010 @ 6:29 am

    • That’s partially because you can’t really ‘do L.A.’ unless you make a special effort of study. Due to the Jackson Pollock-like spilling of sprawl everywhere. When I lived in Paris, I never studied it that way, although I would if I ever get back there, in fact, do it every place I go now, but you don’t have to the way you do with L.A., where you really will just kind of ‘miss the whole point’ if you don’t make yourself the movable center. Not that there’s ‘no center’, as in the cliche, in that there’s a real Downtown, but it’s so vast to also be a real city, that it’s not like New York at all that way, with streets numbered so easily that nobody can miss most things, even if they don’t make any effort.


      Comment by Quantity of Butchness — 18 August 2010 @ 10:35 am

  8. an artifice of self-fictionalization.

    Eloise what concretely does this adumbration MEAN?


    Comment by parody center — 18 August 2010 @ 8:42 am

  9. It means that I have little awareness of actual turning points in my life as they’re happening. Usually I recognize them long afterward, looking back on my past for some definitive event that brought closure or new direction, insight or catastrophe. Often what I identify as a critical moment I later redefine as trivial, or what I deem a breakthrough I later regard as a setback. I’m trying to tell my own life story by plucking milestones out of the past and ascribing portentious meaning to them, like a fiction writer rather arbitrarily creating a back story or a dramatic crisis for an invented character.

    Would it be amusing to mount a bunch of plaques in a town, each of which briefly describes imaginary events that occurred to made-up historical figures? They’d have to be at least remotely plausible in order to be effective — “George Washington slept here” — but just around the bend from credulity — “George Washington slept here with James Madison’s wife.”

    I just checked back at Dr Zamalek, where he says this:

    “you have the power to create a minor miracle when you find someone’s wallet. No one ever expects to get it back, and you can give them the positive shock of a lifetime if you return it.”

    The last time I found a wallet was about six years ago, just up the street from the Russian cathedral in Nice. When I reached down to pluck the wallet off the edge of the street, it suddenly scooted out of my reach. Funny: it didn’t seem all that windy. I reached again; again the wallet jerked away from my grasp. I looked up and over to see two teenagers snickering at me, one of whom held a string that I realized was tied to the wallet. The event changed my life: some day I’ll go back there and put up a plaque commemorating it.


    Comment by ktismatics — 18 August 2010 @ 9:21 am

    • Would it be amusing to mount a bunch of plaques in a town, each of which briefly describes imaginary events that occurred to made-up historical figures?

      That sounds like it might come across like those ‘haunted tours of new Orleans’. Now that’s a different kind of city, very small, and I was there just before Katrina. I’ve never taken tours like that, but the main problem is that they’re very noticeable and omnipresent, and really do take away from the pleasure of walking the French Quarter. One of the unique things about L.A. is the total absence of tourists in a general sense, they are at the Universal Studio Tours, etc., but you don’t see busloads full of them ever, and you never walk out on the streets here without seeing quite a number (and many more than you used to as well.)


      Comment by Quantity of Butchness — 18 August 2010 @ 10:38 am

  10. The event changed my life: some day I’ll go back there and put up a plaque commemorating it.

    I have a slightly deja vu feeling that we’ve visited this particular plaque before. What you really wanted is to pulverize the rude kid for putting you in the role of the carrot-chasing donkey, but for the sake of higher principles, you played Gelsomina and you let him get away with it. Hoping that one day, when the kid is old enough, he would look at the vast ocean off the coast of Nice and realize what he’s done to you.

    Re wallets, somehow I get a sense that the Temptress is a kleptomaniac, like Winona Ryder, although she could simply be being her usual bourgie snob.

    Butchness you made my mouth water when you mentioned those vast and mysterious LA spaces. I’m in just that kind of a mood at the moment, what I get instead is narrow and cramped Dutch streets. You LUCKY BITCH OF A PROSTITUTE.


    Comment by parody center — 18 August 2010 @ 11:16 am

    • Yes, I am lucky, and must tell you that I just got the most wonderful email, informing me that I have a free ticket to watch the filming of the Martha Stewart Show at the studio up the street in the first or second week of September. I have often walked by the studio on my walks, and thought, why the fuck not? She’s very inspiring in her energy and super-discipline, it’ll be interesting to see the show put together. I was told to ‘WEAR BRIGHT COLOURS, MARTHA LIKES YOU TO DRESS TO IMPRESS’. Heaven. I can’t wait. I’ve never been to a filming of a television show, and I bet I’ll be the only one there who has never watched the current incarnation of the show on a real television. The Rikki Lake Show used to be filmed in that same studio building. In fact, there are maybe 25 shows you can go and watch them film for free. And Martha’s presence is bound to be inspiring. What a hoot!


      Comment by Quantity of Butchness — 18 August 2010 @ 12:39 pm

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