We all know by now — don’t we? — that many of the synthetic chemicals in our food, personal-­care and cleaning products, toys and household goods are harming not just the environment but ourselves. Body-burden tests, for measuring exposure to chemicals, reveal flame retardants, plasticizers, pesticides and perfluorinated chemicals in the blood of almost every person studied. We see rising rates of some cancers, autoimmune disorders, reproductive illnesses, autism and learning disabilities. Meanwhile, our consumption of synthetic chemicals, a majority of which haven’t been tested for human health impacts, has skyrocketed. A growing number of books make the case that these phenomena are linked….

Test format for printed book:
Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) | dentures
Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) | dentures


Jan 16. It often smells bad when I am driving around. You can’t edit out the yellow grass, or the black mesquite (and its distribution now away from the draws, so that it dots most of the landscape), or the skies, or the oil pads, or the tanks, or the smells, or the invasive plants. I have edited out what I have not experienced: the radically different summer scape, replete with rattlesnakes and scorpions. And  golf-ball hail season. And howling 60 MPH winds. And  tornadoes. And wildflowers that bloom after rains (though there’s been a 100 day drought, burn ban, and some worry). But back to the smell: If every 1/4 mile you see a sign posted on a private  gate stating Warning: Poison Gas, it can’t be A-Okay. I have heard from several people that you stop smelling it. Children brought up here don’t smell it at all. Small towns have big cancer causalities. Don’t ask, don’t tell.


I wish I were in such blighted yet open places.  The deserts are the ruins before time.

Elena Glasberg wrote this in an email to me today. Lovely.

Jan 15. Drove another big circle: Midland, Stiles, Big Lake, Iraan, McCamey, Crane, Odessa.
Big Lake was scary. The gas station filled with roustabouts getting lunch, felt like packs of wolves. One man licked his chops at me. That was a first. Seriously. the whole town felt… blown out. It was weird, as I have felt relatively safe (just a wee paranoid after the close call with the FBI in Texas City).

… all for two moments, really, but well worth it.


Jan 14. Met with an independent oil man for coffee. He was so kind and so generous with his time I wish we had focused more on HOW he sees as a geologist. How he gets a mental picture-map of rocks that delineate both time and space. And how he gambles as an oil man. But I think I perturbed him. I can’t agree that today we have foolproof methodology (cmon now) simply because we have better science and more regulation than in the recent past (emphasis on recent), although vilification of either the oil industry or the environmentalists is sheer idiocy. But it is an industry, and a far more lucrative one than the alternatives currently.
We are the Petroleum Age, and nearly everything we do, wear, move through and with, touch, and ingest is directly influenced or made from petroleum. Rock Oil.


Jan 12. Sea change coming north to Midland. The land flattens, and if you aren’t careful you’ll say it all looks the same, and empty. Yellow grass. Blue sky. Black mesquite trees (shrub-sized)  that look charred against the grasses. All these dinosaurs of equipment lying around too. And corrugated metal sheds. Midland is all business. Until sunset, when you bathe in the light of West Texas, whatever your circumstance.


Jan 10. Erika and Dahr said they felt like living in this part of the desert often felt like living at the bottom of the ocean, and it’s so true. An ancient sea whose waters rubbed mountains down to soft and toothless nubs. Surprising reefs and volcanic moments you only find of you take the time to dive. Slow motion and eyes open.

I drove to Valentine to see the Prada Shop by Elmgreen & Dragset. It’s incredibly stupid. A 3-dimensional billboard. Yes, as in ha-ha, misplaced and displaced. Paid for by the Prada Foundation.




Jan 09 Spent much of the day at The Chinati Foundation , on the grand tour. The work feels…not exactly off-the-grid (despite being off the grid), but definitely not on the grid, either. It’s a pilgrimage site, a more stubborn, wilder, but gentried cousin of DIA Beacon. Chinati is a dynamic testimonial to Judd’s persistent, consistent vision, to his self-confidence. It’s incredibly smart, subtle and stark. Many of the works are powerful (by that I mean, precise, beautifully realized, well-sited, elegant, simple); the time of the desert and the all-dayness of the tour means you drop down softly into a different expectation of time, slow down enough by the 2nd hour to begin to have a nuanced relationship to details. Not only of the work, but of interior|exterior, here|there, natural|constructed,  interior|exterior, pink|white, brick|wood, antelope|aluminum, straight|curved… the list is not exhaustible.

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