Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Disunited States of Bohemia has moved!

Due to an unfortunate falling out with my domain name registrar (which broke every link to every picture I'd ever published here, including the header graphic), I've moved the venerable Disunited States of Bohemia to http://dusb.richardtammar.com. It's literally exactly the same, only I'm updating it and all the pictures actually appear where they are supposed to. Which is nice.

So, off you go then. And update your bookmarks while you're about it!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

From my private collection

In common with many of the world's leading aesthetes and metrosexuals, I maintain a small private collection of objects d'art, priceless treasures which adorn my study and arrayed solely for my pleasure, that I might contemplate their beauty in peace. It will surprise you little that I must have one of my minions constantly field calls from the Getty, Met, Louvre, Hermitage and that insufferable little man who married Nigella, each offering me ludicrous sums to take ownership of these gems, or else pointlessly soliciting some putative but absent sense of public service such that these artifacts might be displayed to the great unwashed. Of course, it stretches credulity to imagine that the general populace possess the faculty to appreciate even the merest whisper of the genius displayed in these works, let alone their myriad subtleties, ironies and painterly bon mots.

Today then, a rare treat for the muggles, as I unveil a trio of my rarest trophies to the proverbial man on the Clapham Omnibus...

Three Pickles, a Blob of Chocolate Ice-Cream and a Blob of Mint Ice-Cream (2010)
On a purely sensual level the initial reaction is of one hunger, not just for sustenance, but for the forbidden as suggested by the taboo mixing of pickles and ice-cream and of course their symbolic evocation of pregnant desire. At the same time, the strokes spell out a binary thirteen (1101), suggesting bad luck, or perhaps the indigestion or remorse that inevitably follows transgression. The final pickle, luscious in its yellow-green patina, thus forms a "sour period" - a visual jest which underscores the subtle play between linguistic and symbolic forms which suffuse the piece.

Untitled (2010)
The urgency of the metapolitical statement in the piece, the audacious clarity of the bacterial red and blue forms initially led to its dismissal as sophomoric ("pedestrian", ran the New Yorker's op-ed, if I recall correctly). Yet it is the broad spermatozoan form of mixed-color entering from stage right, suggestive of both an environmental Precambrian formlessness and a microscopic insignificance, that lends gravitas to this piece; and the failure to perceive this subtlety nothing less than I would expect of a graduate of Brown.

Untitled (2010)
It is in this moment of repose that the breadth of the artist's repertoire is realized, the softness of color and richness of palate, the broad, effortless strokes – one is at peace... and yet, can it be so? Does not the reputation of this enfant terrible subvert our perception? Can the shadow of the artist ever truly be occluded? That is the dynamic tension that both delights and seduces.

Friday, March 19, 2010


Excuse tardiness - have been devoting my free time to the development of another blog entirely in a vain attempt to put my photography on a more professional footing. To save you all the effort of actually following it, simply glance to your right to see a cute and clickable array of latest thumbnails from said site. Marvellous.

Running a small business, especially one of borderline profitability, is just one of the many ways to reduce one's tax burden, a matter brought to mind recently by virtue of the fact that here in the US it's tax season. The fact that everyone in the US (and for that matter every American, irrespective of domicile) is expected to file a tax return every year, by April 15th, on pain of rendition to Algeria, is enough to make one feel quite nostalgic for PAYE.

This year, for the first time, I elected to do this myself rather than pay our nice accountant lady the usual $350. Of course, when I say I did it myself, I really mean that I used software costing $60. No-one can actually do it themselves. It's far too complicated. It's complicated for all sorts of reasons, but largely due to a Byzantine system of "deductions," or line-items you can write-off against your taxable income. It's a bureaucratic nightmare that survives because most people live under the delusion that they are somehow playing the system to their advantage. In some small way, the act of writing off $50 for the set of old shirts you donated to the Salvation Army is socking it to The Man. Irrespective of the fact that if there wasn't such a system they could probably lower the tax rate by several percentage points.

Hey, it's not just me - everyone whines about taxes here; it's been an ongoing theme since around 1763, despite the fact that both then and today the individual tax-burden is negligible compared to almost anywhere else.

Of course, you get what you pay for.

Plus whatever you can borrow off the Chinese.

Experiments with water. This pretty much never gets tiring, even when it's running through the ceiling to drip upon the floor below.

Occasionally I get lucky and take a good photograph. Here Ethan's looking up towards a basketball hoop.

The marketing geniuses at Fred Meyer (an Oregon supermarket chain) came up with the brilliant idea of providing a free cookie to any child who happened past their bakery counter. Ethan refuses to shop anywhere else.

Those of you less familiar with American public conveniences than, say, George Michael, may not have experienced this type of hand dryer, which blows cold air at exceptional velocities.

Here's an arty version of a similar thing on a different day.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

The Audacity of Hope

What a difference a year makes in politics: from the audacity of hope via the frisson of exasperation to the familiar and comforting embrace of disillusionment.

Similarly, there are phases in acculturation: from the carnivalesque year of arrival through a protracted illusory phase during which you imagine yourself to be on the brink of understanding, thence to the conclusion that not only are you never going to have that epiphany, but your attempts to reach it are mildly offensive.

Of course, Ethan is undergoing his own acculturation process at the behest of yours truly. And for him, still the working assumption that he might one day come to make sense of it all. In fact, I find his scientific approach to the world refreshing; from an early fascination with simple electrics, his interest has blossomed into a preoccupation with plumbing and heating systems. For him, it is not sufficient to use one public toilet when five are available; nor one sink, nor hand-dryer neither. No, all must be sampled, compared and contrasted.

His intellectual curiosity much reminds me of a young self, long before I first plinked martini glasses with all those frightfully clever postmodernists – and is highly invigorating. It is embarrassing to admit, but until recently the subtle nuances that distinguish the superabundance of modern sanitary systems from one another represented a significant lacuna in my knowledge.

Then, just the other day, he informed me that the green Nerds™ are watermelon flavour. O brave new world!

Encouraged by Ethan's rapid adoption of "Hi Ho! Cherry O" I quickly migrated him to dominoes. Surely cribbage, canasta and contract bridge are but months away...

Hiding under the bed at toothy-time.

I expect you're not cool enough to have heard of the cult indie pastime of "Conker Tossing", but it's big in PDX.