Ascent Elimination Airlines

Nina Katchadourian should own an airline that always chooses the longest distance between two points but my the end of the flight as you deplane you are awarded an art degree.

I think of her as a strange visitor from another planet — like Superman but a woman and creative — so it’s hard to contemplate that we apparently overlapped one year at Gunn High in Palo Alto, Calif. in fall 1981 thru spring 1982. When you are 18 in Palo Alto the 15 yo’s are nearly invisible, however, plus I was not interested in art until I was 28. In fact, I went on exactly one date with Nicole Bruntjen whose father Sven Bruntjen is an art dealer and she said “you’re really creative, huh?” and I said “No, I’m the editor of the student newspaper. I’m concise and accurate”. We actually went to Philip and Paula Kirkeby’s for dinner, surrounded by a really cool art collection, that I had the chance to revisit 20 years later. I am now married to Terry Acebo Davis the artist who I met thru Paula, longer story.

Terry heard about Nina first, thru Karen Frankel, her fellow commissioner, and also Karen worked for Paula. The first we heard or saw of Nina was the self-portraits that look like Flemish paintings – -like Dutch masters, as I like to say — hat she made on the airlines, in the lavatorys. Nina was in the mile high club.

So I just rewatched the first 3 minutes of her epic film, of 28 minutes long time duration, from 2005, “Accent Elimination”. What I like is her deadpan interview style. She is leading her confederates and scripted the whole thing but she is acting mock-surprised.

I saw this at Cantor a couple years ago. I think I was with Steve and Eric Cohen, and Christina Karls Cohen, their mother. She is Swedish. I don’t think she knows Mrs. Katchadourian. Not to get poignant, but meanwhile we lost Eva Cohen and her father , the music prof, Albert Cohen. On the same day, about eight months ago. I dated Eva only slightly more successfully than Nicole — I don’t think I kissed either young woman, let’s be clear here. We also lost professor William Dement, who came to my Dayna Stephens concert on August 18,2019. Nick Dement told me of Eva’s passing. It’s possible that Nina Katchadourian know or knew: Nicole Bruntjen, Eva Cohen and Nick Dement. It’s also possible that Nina doesn’t think as much about high school as I do.

Not that she is not perfectly partnered and it is not none of my business, but if Nina at age 15 – -not to be confused with Tina Age 15 which is a pseudonym of Chris Johansen, the artist — was as confident and interesting at age 15 as she is at thirty-something, she might have dated John Beech. John was new at Gunn for his senior year, direct from England.  He said not the Stones vesus the Who but Sioxie Sieux of Siouxie and the Banshees, was his thing. (Years later my friend D and I had lunch with John at Blue or Bleu something, and we sat next to Moe Asches’ son, Gregor Asch, aka DJ Olive — and he was gesturing in such a way that I asked him and he was talking about another former Palo Altan Matt Haimovitz the cellist — anyhow I started to say that 15 year old Nina might have dated 17 or 18 year old John Beech. But it’s also true that Peter Kirkeby said a few years ago that he wanted to fix up John Beech with a painter we collect named Vanderveen, Kimetha. Peter used a more suggestive term. Maybe loosely synonymous with “fly”.

edit to add, a half hour later — and I say “half” like “ralph” from “happy days” which takes place in Milwaukee.

  1. it reminds me of Shakespeare. Not sure which play, and more the play than the sonnets. But at Dartmouth in the 1980s we were taught that Shakespeare is mostly about family. This is about Nina and her parents as much as about Armenians in Turkey for 2,500 years. Hopefully not “King Lear”. And not “McBeath”. It’s sort of like “rosankrantz and guildenstern are dead” by Tom Stoppard. Maybe.
  2. I’m from Chicago for 3 or 4 yours before I moved to San Jose area and then The Peninsula so I still say “route” like “root beer” and “roof” with short and shorter ooo sound.
  3. Also and I guess this is still more free association than any probing of what makes this art but I was just flipping thru some old baseball trading cards and I had a reprint or tribute of a Moe Berg card. He was a spy during WWII. He could pass for German tho he was a Jew. And it has stuck with me forty or so years that when I read about him in Sports Illustrated they said that during the 1940s or slightly later but less true today that Moe Berg can guess what county certainly what state any American was by their accent. Occassionally since then I distinguish a Tennessseean from a Texan but I don’t know how. It’s like wine tasting, I guess.
  4. I did something like this just the other day with Karen Kwan who works for the Palo Alto Art center. She said she is from England but I said she didn’t speak the way Chinese who go to school in Singapore do.  Like my late friend Lanny Wui, whose favorite actor was Ronnie sic Coleman. And she taught me at my urging to say “salamat datang”. She and I never really dated but we would “salamat datang”. Also Palo Alto has an incumbent candidate for City Council Lydia Kou or Kuo who is Chinese but actually lived in and maybe was born in Africa where her parents had a restaurant. I resisted asking a mother and daughter and their dog – they wanted to meet Duffy — where they were from but did ask if indeed they were mother and daughter and dogger.   Also, there is a Jacqueline at Cafe Venetia and I asked her name – -she loves Duffy – but did not comment on whether “Jacqueline” is hard for Mexicans to say. She says there are two Jacquelines at Cafe Venetia. The other day, at the Black Lives Matter very temporarily installed wheat paste poster installation literally on the 200 Block of Uni, I asked if a lady and her daugther were Israeli – but she had given me her name. Edit.
  5. I did speak to Eric Cohen today but did not mention Nina Katchadourian. He said his brother is in Graceland.
  7. I should stop but I texted Mitch Woods on whether he calls it “Mardi Gras” or “the Mardi Gras”.
  8. I might check the tag “ethniceities” sic but i reserve that for Judaism and I am guessing the K’s are more likely orthodox.
  9. I’m also flashing to Sylvie Simmons interview or transcript with Linda Ronstadt in a recent MOJO Magazine in that Linda has stopped performing on the account of a degenerative neurologicial condition, as compared to another singer and rock star who had a stroke.
  10. I think Karen Kwan said she roots for Manchester United and I digressed to the thing about the soccer world championships were Sunday and a Black Parisian playing for Bayern Munich was the hero. I said I wear a Manchester United Jersey because my father and my grandafather sold Chevrolet. And I hope all this attones for and does not make worse the fact that i sort of made fun of the famous Slovenian American who dressed in olive drab on national tv last night. She acknowledged the “ill and suffering” Covid victims — which is more than her husband did — but I pretended I heard her talking about a recipe for “eel and saffron”. My out card was a while ago but I also met Turkey’s most famous soccer player when he briefly owned a cafe in Palo Alto and also can I gratuitously name check Elif Batuman who went to Stanford for grad school, the author. And I have a Hungarian sister in law and a great nephew by marriage or two of them now –mazel tov – -who is a Hungapino. Whereas Andres Fajardo another Gunn 1982 who Nina likely never met is married to Juliet Lee and calls his kids Chilumpicans for part Chinese, part Colombian. And we are All American. Also Chris Knipp I mean to send Jon Curiel’s “Al-America”; he is expert of Arabic.
  11. What’s new with Nina during the pandemic- – and please read this with insert your own funny accent. Snoke.
  12. Also: I am guessing that the interview with Sam Chwat (?) took place in professor K’s office but Nina designed and installed the intricate grouping of framed documents: clippings, posters, head shots. I wonder if the stacks of books also read to express a super-message: she has something where she photographs book titles to read as a poem.
  13. what clock is it? Much clock? Much much? so Much! VS We don’t have to Cho you no Stinking badgers. When you say “wisconsin” you’ve said it all, Adam. Edam. Damn.
  14. i tagged this “art” “sex” and “words” when i say sex i mean gander.
  15. My mother said that as a little girl in chicago this must be late 1930s and early 1940s you would just show up at the movies and stay until they get back to the part you already saw, “this is where I came in” so I want to say that at the combination airlines and art grad school they would give you a masters on international travel and a doctoral on domestic travel, reason being that they would, for example, go from LA to SF by way of Okinawa and that occassionally Nina herself would show up to inspect tickets like the Mormon Jet Blue guy, Dan something, Dan Kipperstop or something, and that the degrees were sort of like the nuts. And there will be a fake documentary about all this that pretends this has already happened when it is likely still the future.
  16. Beirut, that’s amazing!

About markweiss86

Mark Weiss, founder of Plastic Alto blog, is a concert promoter and artist manager in Palo Alto, as Earthwise Productions, with background as journalist, advertising copywriter, book store returns desk, college radio producer, city council and commissions candidate, high school basketball player, and blogger; he also sang in local choir, fronts an Allen Ginsberg tribute Beat Hotel Rm 32 Reads 'Howl' and owns a couple musical instruments he cannot play
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