Monday, December 31, 2007

rock and roll films

On Saturday I saw "Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten," the documentary about Joe Strummer by Julien Temple. The doc was a memorial to The Clash's lead singer in that his friends, family and collaborators gathered around a bonfire to reflect upon their experiences with him. I thought Temple used some interesting storytelling techniques for a documentary (animations built from Strummer's first band, The 101's, slow shutter speed during the fireside interviews, Strummer's voiceover giving a London Calling radio broadcast as the narrative thread), which I appreciated from a filmmaking point of view. But overall I have to say that in terms of a rock and roll film, I liked Control better. And I know that you can't compare apples and oranges (one film being a narrative shot in black and white with fabulous actors, the other being a documentary pieced together with a interviews and a lot of stock/archival footage); however, inasmuch as they are both fruits that come from trees (films about deceased British rock and roll stars), I am comparing them. I felt more moved by the portrayal of Ian Curtis's character in Control than I did Strummer's in Unwritten. I felt that I got to know Curtis more intimately, even though several of Strummer's closest friends retold his story with private details only friends could know. I just felt there could have been a little more detail, and a stronger turning point. The music in both films was great, but then again how could you not enjoy music from two of the most influential bands from that era, and it was fun to relive the moments. So put them both on your queue and rock on!

assholiness

My new fave word, penned by David Sedaris in his most recent essay in the New Yorker. Read and enjoy!

Friday, December 28, 2007

rest in pandemonium?

I've been slammed at work this week so I don't actually have the time to write about Benazir Bhutto's assassination, but I would like to recognize that this event is having and will continue to have some serious ramifications that make me a bit frightened.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Saturday, December 22, 2007

SF moment

I'm having my cappuccino at the Velo Rouge and the table by the window is occupied by three Chinese men playing Mahjong.

image|culture

Who decides who and what can represent the face of a culture? Where do our typical images of culture come from? I mean, when we think of the Japanese, it's sushi and karaoke. When we think of Germany, it's beer and lederhausen. When we think of the Brazilians, it's Carnaval and bikinis. But what about the faces that make up just as much a part of our culture as the stereotypical images? I mean, if America is all baseball and apple pie, we can't forget that our baseball teams are dominated by Dominicans, Venezuelans and Puertorriqueños, and the people that pick our apples every autumn often hail from south of the border.

This Wednesday my gal pals and I had a fabulous holiday get-together at La Provence on Guerrero and 22nd. At the end of our very enjoyable and delicious meal, we chatted with Lionel, the owner, about European football, and he commented that the French team is not even French. This attitude is pervasive in certain European countries, and particularly in France, where the very Gallic people claim that the dark-skinned immigrants and children of immigrants aren't really French. But really folks, when you look at history, the French have been claiming territories outre-mer as part of France for centuries. So the idea of a black man not being French is downright silly. And in my opinion, what country wouldn't want to claim Thierry Henry as one of its own (who by the way is French born, raised in the banlieue of Paris).

Last night, Lilia and I saw a show at the Independent that also challenged my own conceptions of image and culture. Her friend's boyfriend's band Aphrodesia was playing that night, and Lilia informed me that it was an afrobeat band. The Fela Kuti fan that I am, I was imagining a 10-piece orchestra with sparingly dressed men and women of the African Diaspora blasting out danceable grooves. Instead, the lead singers were three white women dressed in striped tights and combat boots with punk hairstyles, and nary a dark-skinned person in the band. It was a little bit of a shock to me. But the music was tight and everyone in the crowd was dancing like mad just the same. The lead singer had the crispest voice, exploding with energy, and when she sang, her eyes lifted toward the heavens and it seemed that she was calling upon the gods to guide her through the melodies.

Clearly this woman has studied African musical traditions and is infinitely inspired by the music, as was the rest of the orchestra (amazing show by the way!). So I asked myself, why can't a white American woman sing Nigerian afrofunk? Why can't the son of Algerian immigrants play for France? If they weren't allowed to do these things, then maybe I, the San Francisco born grand-daughter of Irish and Hungarian immigrants, wouldn't be allowed to speak French as I do, or use chopsticks, or shake my booty as well as any Cuban girl (and those who know me know I'm not kidding about this last one).

[As a side note, if you have never eaten at La Provence before, you're missing out. This is the only restaurant in SF with a menu featuring all authentic dishes from Provence. La Pissaladière et la Soupe au Pistou sont formidables!]

Monday, December 17, 2007

sustainability = nice?

Lately I've been working on a couple projects with some folks at the Presidio School of Management Sustainable MBA program. When discussing the terms "sustainable" and "green," one of the women commented that we need a new word to explain the concepts, because these words have become the buzzwords of our time, and have thereby become devoid of their true meaning. I countered by stating that yes, I believe the word "green" is overused and misused, but the concept of sustainability is timeless and simply needs to be explained and defined in a way that people get it.

In his recent NYT article, Michael Pollan writes:

When pesticide makers and genetic engineers cloak themselves in the term, you have to wonder if we haven’t succeeded in defining sustainability down, to paraphrase the late Senator Moynihan, and if it will soon possess all the conceptual force of a word like “natural” or “green” or “nice.”

Confucius advised that if we hoped to repair what was wrong in the world, we had best start with the “rectification of the names.” The corruption of society begins with the failure to call things by their proper names, he maintained, and its renovation begins with the reattachment of words to real things and precise concepts.


On Friday evening at one of the many Christmas soirees I've attended, Jessica (not only a fantastic artist but also a very knowledgeable nutritionist) argued that our food source in this country is contaminated due to the use of GMO, antibiotics, pesticides and artificial fertilizers. When the very food we depend on is causing epidemics more rampant than the AIDS virus in our country, we have reached a point where our food production has become unsustainable. In this article, Pollan writes about the unsustainable mass production of pigs and use of bees in almond orchards and explains sustainability as such: "What it means is that the practice or process can’t go on indefinitely because it is destroying the very conditions on which it depends. It means that, as the Marxists used to say, there are internal contradictions that sooner or later will lead to a breakdown."

***

On another semi-related note, Saturday afternoon I attended the cookie exchange at the Farmer's Market, to which I contributed my mom's famous lemon bars. I met Jacob, a 10-year old food impresario who offered adorable little meringues in the shape of button mushrooms. In addition to cookies, I was gifted with the leftover root vegetables from the cooking demo that day. So last night I feasted on locally grown, organic parsnips, beets, sunchokes and rutabaga, dusted with some chopped tarragon. Yum yum.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

ho ho ho

My friend Matt just sent me this alternative version of a favorite Christmas carol that he penned, which I found quite amusing:

“Holiday Plans”
(Sung to the tune of “Joy to the World”)

It’s December: time to see friends.
And every weekend’s filled.
When all the households call
For bashes, brunch, and balls
It will be so much fun,
It will be so much fun,
The drinking, and eating will all be fun.

Two weekends in, and I’m so dead.
This schedule never ends.
Why every foe and friend
Holds parties without end --
It’s far too much to do,
It’s far too much to do,
It’s too much, and I’m sick – which way’s the loo?

Monday, December 10, 2007

word of the year

I'm a little late in catching the wave on this one, even though I've been talking and writing about the word itself. Oxford University Press has selected locavore as the 2007 Word of the Year. As a side note, if you have never attended one of Jessica Prentiss's Full Moon Feasts, it might be something fun to do in 2008.

street|art|identity

Since it was released on DVD, people in my social circle, including myself, have received from Netflix La Vie En Rose, the biopic about Edith Piaf, the little sparrow hailing from the streets of Paris. Though Cotillard as Piaf is stunning, the film itself is mediocre, cheesy at times, goes all over the place and is hard to follow. The music, naturellement, is enticing and will have you humming Je Ne Regrette Rien for days on end.

I found the portrayal of Piaf as a free-spirited twenty-something in Belleville endearing, especially when she grabbed a bottle and her best friend and dragged both onto street corners to keep her company while performing her repertoire for passers-by.

So on Saturday, inspired by Piaf and her best friend, I grabbed Jessica (my artistic partner in crime) sans bouteille, my iPod, some mini-speakers, a camera and we hit the streets... the Powell Street Muni station to be exact. We conducted what I coined a social experiment since neither of us are technically street performers, but there's a first time for everything. I placed the hat in the middle of the corridor, pressed play on the iPod and Jessica began an improvised interpretation of the anxious feelings she was experiencing around this crazy idea of mine in which she somehow agreed to partake.

Passers-by stopped and watched, captivated by her movements. One man lauded her with encouraging words. She performed while I filmed for about 6 minutes before the BART police kicked us out (no filming allowed in BART stations since 9/11). We moved onto Union Square and continued the experiment until the light started to disappear and Jess had had enough.

Why street art, you might ask. Some of you know about the film that we sacrificed to the gods of technology earlier this year. So given our theme--identity--we ask, who am I if I can't do what defines me? The point of this experiment is that, since we don't have a run at ODC this year, we want to know what really is the difference between art performed on a street corner witnessed by passers-by for free or for a small hat donation and art seen by many in a theatrical venue purchased for $25 to $40 per ticket? And why are some kinds of art considered suitable for the street and others for an enclosed venue? Is the location what defines you as an artist, or what the critics say, or the act of doing art for art's sake for whomever to enjoy?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

another way to consume chocolate

Although I prefer eating organic, fair-trade chocolate of the 70% cacao and above variety, I thoroughly support its consumption in this manner as well.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

un chat after my own coeur


I think she's trying to give me a hint, n'est-ce pas?

i heart good food

What I'm writing about at the moment is nothing very esoteric or philosophical or deep; however, what interests me is that it was more or less spontaneous and it pleased a few people so here goes:

Monday night dinner

Attendees: Michael, Pamela, Nobu and me.

Courses:

Cheese plate: Roquefort, Comté and some fromage de chèvre from Sonoma.

Main course: Sashimi grade tuna marinated in miso, meyer lemon and white wine, then seared. Brussels sprouts sauteed with shallots and dried red currants. Meyer lemon risotto.

Salad: Arugula with shaved fennel, cucumber, persimmon and a tarragon vinaigrette.

Dessert:
Persimmon and goat cheese tart.

All made by hand by yours truly with local, seasonal ingredients, and with love.

And many bottles of wine, naturellement.

En plus, it goes without saying (but I'll say it anyway), I heart sharing a good meal with good company!

Monday, November 26, 2007

sea shepherd

Great article that makes you really think about environmentalism and humanity's role therein in the New Yorker. Video content as well.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

my so-called quarterlife

I've discovered a new quality television series, only it isn't exactly television. It's a series of webisodes called quarterlife, telling the stories of angst suffered by twenty-something year-olds through the eyes and words of a video-blogger. What's interesting about quarterlife is that it takes the rough-around-the-edges look and feel of YouTube and mixes it with quality writing and filmmaking of seasoned professionals. Any fans of My So-Called Life and thirtysomething will appreciate this series as it was created by none other than Edward Zwick. Having examined teenagers and thirty-year-olds under a magnifying glass, he's now applying the same tricks of his trade to a different age category.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

enter bloomberg?

How about a pluralist presidential campaign? Bloomberg's been taking a crash course on foreign policy.

worth its weight?

I've been seriously looking into going biodiesel in 2008, and this news is all the more reason to do it! This would mean unloading my smooth ride, and getting an old Mercedes (possibly another smooth ride but with more character and smelling of french fries).

I also have decided to become a locavore. Not necessarily one of them, per se, but doing what they do (eat local).

blank canvas/messy canvas

As I wind up my fifth day freelancing at Current, and my second day of double shifts, the thought crossed my clouded and overworked brain as to whether it's easier to take a story that is a total mess and fix it, or to start fresh with a blank canvas and create something out of nothing. I suppose if the story you're working with has good elements, there must be some salvageable nuggets that a little bit of crafting can extract from the wreckage. Then again, why pick up the pieces when you can create something smooth and seamless from the get-go? Is it too much to ask for good clean audio, crisp and pretty HD footage, a well-thought-out script? I lean toward the blank canvas. Starting anew seems more inviting and promising than making sh** smell good.

Clearly there is a correlation with life experience here, not just editing good and bad stories. In this midnight hour, I apply the analogy to my choices, my relationships, my current and future endeavors. Somehow when it comes to your own experiences, it seems harder to go out and buy a new pair of shoes when all you need to do is scrape the sh** off the old ones. A nice polish and they'll be as sparkly and pretty as the ones in the shop window.

Enough ramblings and analogies. I must now continue to make this sad excuse for a story that lays in front of me fresh and exciting.

Monday, November 12, 2007

it's like night and day

I'm editing what passes for programming at Current TV right now, and although I am happy to be receiving a paycheck for my services, I must admit that it's embarrassing what the definition of content has become. Filmmaking and media making used to be considered an artform when it was all about celluloid and black and white. These were mediums that were actually extremely difficult to manipulate, let alone learn how to use them to craft an effective story. Whereas I'm all for the democratization of making art, I really feel that segments such as the ones I'm editing tonight do a detriment to my professional field. Viewers' abilities to decipher between good and bad production value will suffer in the end when the majority of "content" is made by any joe schmoe on the street with a digital camcorder and iMovie. And then places like Current buy these segments for cheap and air them.

So before I came to work today, I squeezed in a matinee. Inspired by the Radiohead cover of Ceremony, I went to the Clay Theater to see Control, the biopic about Ian Curtis of Joy Division. This film is a refreshing reminder that filmmaking is an art, and literally made me want to destroy my digital camera and any notion of creating media for small screens and on the cheap and devote my life to filming the old fashioned way. It was an interesting choice to film Control in black and white. I believe the result was effective, shades of black and white symbolizing the way Ian Curtis may have seen the world--love and hate, life and death. If it was filmed in color, this movie might have become another "24 Hour Party People" or an "Almost Famous;" instead we are given a beautiful and memorable portrait of a bygone era and the life of a bygone artist.

Excellent performances as well. Very well made and artistic film.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

radiohead does the smiths

pretty good yodeling, but what's up with the cutaways to the pink shirted torso?

Friday, November 09, 2007

experience/light

Last night my mom called me as I was preparing to go to my entrepreneurship class to ask me if I wanted to join her and some friends at SF MOMA. I've been dying to see the Olafur Eliasson exhibit since I first read about it and saw the banners on the streetlamps here in SF. So I sent a little note off to my teacher to say that I was sick along with my homework and off I went to experience art.

His art propels one into experiencing an environment, and certain elements of an environment in particular, thereby encompassing the person experiencing art into the art itself. It's a very compelling and emotional show. At times I felt like I was at Burning Man. Eliasson is genius at his installations and architectural design. Looking into some of the mirrored reflections of myself, I could actually see the strong personal connection he has to his work. It was breathtaking.

Most breathtaking of all was the 360 degree room for all colours. I walked in to see people standing close to the wall, looking slightly hypnotized. I walked right up to the wall and did the same. All of a sudden, the light consumes your peripheral vision, and you feel like you are enveloped in hues of yellow, orange, blue, pink, green, purple and white. What struck me was how my body physically reacted to the changes in color. Pink and orange gave me butterflies, like I was seeing a boy I had a crush on. Whereas blue made me feel serene and reminded me of when I was scuba diving and would float weightlessly into the abyss. I let the emotions roll through me as the light entered and passed through my physical being like a drug. I could have stayed there and experienced the permutations for hours.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

stuck in a strange, but lucid, dream

Last night I managed to get extremely drunk and, when I came home, barely had enough time to play with Cloud kitty before passing out. Somehow I changed into my pajamas, closed the curtains and got under the covers. I woke up in the middle of the night, or rather, it seemed as though I woke up in the middle of the night, walked into the living room and saw that my apartment had been ransacked. I thanked God that I bought the safe to store my valuables. I thought that I must have been so drunk when I came home that I didn't notice the disarray before. I walked into the bathroom and tried to flick the lights on and they didn't work (it reminded me of that scene in Amelie). And then I went back into my bedroom and saw that it too was ransacked. I realized at that moment that I must have been dreaming, so I decided to test it out. I dived into the air in the place that my bed would have been and figured if I was in a dream, I would land softly. Moments later, my head lay gently on my pillow and my cat was curled up next to me, and everything seemed as it should.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

shrooms!

Here are a couple pics I took of mushrooms around Phoenix Lake about the same time of year two years ago:



And some tree fungi I found last year in West Marin:

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

this'll be f***ing brilliant

The Swearing Festival at Edinburgh Castle!

frog/soup

On Sunday, the Sultan, miss Jenny C. and I went on a hike on Mt. Tam. We took the High Marsh Trail to the Kent Trail to the Helen Markt Trail around Alpine Lake. It was a long and strenuous hike. My legs are still sore! We hiked through several different habitats--redwood groves, fern covered hills, a tunnel of manzanita bushes, rocky terrain, bubbling brooks, a waterfall. The trails at times were covered with yellow and brown leaves from the deciduous trees. Bunches of mushrooms popped up out of the damp earth. The mountain smelled so amazingly fresh. We even saw a couple frogs! Here's one that Sultan spotted in a tree:

Yesterday I made a very delicious soup that I am continuing to enjoy today. I baked a butternut squash, sauteed and ground some ginger and onions, and then, when the squash was finished backing, scooped it out and re-sauteed these 3 ingredients altogether. Then I added 2 cups of vegetable broth, some sea salt and a few pinches of curry powder. I let this cook together for a couple hours. Then I added about 1 cup of coconut milk and stirred that in thoroughly. Then I chopped up some cilantro to garnish my soup, and let me tell you: YUM.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

all roads lead to Rome

I hate it when HBO series end! Just finished watching the final episode of Rome Season 2, the FINAL season! I understand that it was the most expensive series ever made in the history of television, but two seasons only? I also don't particularly like last episodes (because the writers feel like they have to tie up all loose ends), but this last episode with all the death and sex was pretty decent. There were a couple moments of cheese, but nothing too smelly. At least there was no ridiculous music montage like they did to us with the last episode of Six Feet Under.

funny pics

Bane and I after several drinks at Club Deluxe:

Jess and I as our alter-egos:

She's actually smiling in the picture (in case it's not apparent)!

Friday, November 02, 2007

divest from darfur

I just sent a note asking my senators to support an important
bill that would give states the right to remove their pension
funds from companies that are helping fund the genocide in
Darfur.

Will you join me? Just click here now:

This bill would help end the violence in Darfur by empowering
states to put pressure on the Sudanese government and denying
them the resources needed to continue to fund the violence. The
bill has already passed the House of Representatives 418-1, but
now it's the Senate's turn.

this could be addicting

Second Life

Just found out about it at an event at Swissnex that I attended last night on the future of television and "new media" content.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

art is not dead

Having brooding enough over "loss," Jessica and I decided to celebrate in high style last night after all. We cruised the bars in the Lower Haight for a few hours, I as the Butterfly Goddess, she as the High Priestess of the Third Eye, doling out chocolate kisses to any other All Hallow's Eve revelers crossing our paths. We met a fairy princess, Satan, Mother Nature, Mario (of Mario Brothers), the lead singer of the band Poison, Spartacus, three cops (it's funny how certain people dress in costume every day!) among many others choosing to re-identify themselves on this zaniest of holidays.

We recommitted ourselves to the creation of art for art's sake and the task of giving our film about identity a new identity.

Photos to come, as soon as I figure out how to use my new cell phone.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

nightmares/mourning/insomnia/limbo

So, today Lilia writes of nightmares and Chloe writes of mourning. I imagine these ghastly themes are somewhat a result of the holiday--Halloween, for which I feel not the slightest bit of motivation to celebrate this year. Back to the topic(s) at hand, at the risk of sounding trite in writing about these subjects on a day that we're supposed to think about them, I would like to add my two cents. Perhaps my motivation to celebrate has been squashed by the fact that I have currently been in mourning, and not so much as me but even moreso my artistic collaborator Jessica, having lived the NIGHTMARE of seeing our project die right before our eyes. I liken the experience of losing art that you created from mere ideas due to technological failure to killing your unborn child. All last week, I woke every single night from one definition of the word nightmare (the kind when you're sleeping) to be faced with the other definition of the word nightmare (the living nightmare) that the precious beautiful thing that we were creating is really gone, and it was my fault, and the only time I feel any relief about this subject is when I'm asleep. And yet, I cannot sleep. I wake and stare at the walls and ceiling until the sun finally comes up, watching my cat change positions next to me. Waiting for a new day to begin. Waiting for the tasks of my daily routine to usurp these feelings of loss, sadness, guilt, regret (etc., etc., etc., etc.) that pass through my body and mind and spirit while I lie restless.

The only way I see to recover from this mourning is to not give up. And to not give up and start anew means that I have to really accept that the data on my dead drive really is unrecoverable, and that we have to create the project from scratch, a brand new film. And to start over means that I have to get over the embarrassment that everything that we did before that we were so proud of accomplishing now exists in the technological afterlife of our memory, and we have to do it all over again, for a second time, at a later date, pushing our dream of sharing our art with others into an intangible and scary space called the future. So at the moment, I am simply stuck in the mud between the nightmare and the dream.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

strange story

I don't know which part of this story is the strangest, but last night just seemed like one of those bizarre totally random evenings. Sultan invited me at the last minute to a PR networking event at the Tonga Room at the Fairmont Hotel. First off, the Tonga room is a strange place. Sultan had never been there, and it was fun to see his reaction when it first began to "rain" inside. The waitress handed us Mai Tais in ceramic coconut glasses and we snacked on salmon sashimi and dungeoness crab dip with taro chips. I ended up with business cards from all the PR women of the Fairmont and a gift bag to take home with me. Not to mention the bonus of getting "leid."

Since we got out of the networking event around 7:30, I suggested to Sultan that we try to get tickets for the Broken Social Scene concert at the Fillmore. When we arrived at the venue, it was 100% sold out, but I thought we might hang out on the corner like a couple derelicts for about a half an hour to see if someone had extras they were selling. If any of you know Sultan, you'll know he's not one to hang out on sketchy street corners. I couldn't believe that he agreed to do this with me. He hadn't even heard of the band. He must have been really bored. Or I must have very good persuasion skills.

After waiting in the cold with sketched-out scalpers walking around doing the same thing we were doing, we decided to throw in the towel and check out a film at the Kabuki, which is getting a Western-themed makeover and is now the Sundance Cinemas. Here comes the strangest part of the night. We bought tickets and watched The Darjeeling Limited, starring Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman and Adrien Brody as three brothers on a spiritual journey in India. I'm still trying to figure out if I liked the movie or not for its quirkiness, or if the story went nowhere, or if going nowhere was the whole point. It was a fun (albeit strange) character sketch with interesting cameos from Natalie Portman and Bill Murray.

Monday, October 29, 2007

is art genetic?

This just in from my dear old dad:

I was at an international poster show today, just browsing around. It was made up of a number of galleries from all over the country, including more than a few from Europe. One of the galleries, from Switzerland, had placards detailing the name of the poster, the country of origin, the date the poster was printed, etc. Oh yes, and the artist's name. One of the names jumped out: "TIECHE." Now there aren't many people in this world with that name and certainly not a lot of artists from Bern, Switzerland with it, let alone a successful artist with that name. I was told Adolphe Tieche was a very famous poster artist around the turn of the century. His work is well-regarded and highly respected among aficionados. The poster was selling for $4500.

Here are two examples of his work (the Zurich poster was the one I saw):






...and as Kristin so rightly assumed, the actual pronunciation of our last name is Tee-esh.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

list no. 3: de-luxe!

After sneaking into and schmoozing at a VIP event put on by Sony Entertainment at the St. Regis, my old roommie Bane and I ended up at Club Deluxe on Haight Street last night, me downing one cosmo after another and he downing even greater quantities of gin and tonic. I have decided that I really like that place for several reasons:

1) impeccably clean bathrooms for a bar
2) tends to always have live music of some sort, and good music at that!
3) the drinks are relatively cheap
4) it's within stumbling distance from my pad
5) for some reason, I'm quite partial to the wood paneling in there!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

core (or, can't touch this)

I'm reminded today of the first time I was burglarized in Los Angeles. I was pretty devasted when I walked into my apartment to find the place ransacked and all my valuables gone. It took me a while to get over the shock of my personal space and belongings being violated like that. I think I went about on the verge of tears for several weeks.

But what I remember today is what happened to me a few days after it happened. I was taking dance lessons at a local studio, and decided to check out an Afro-Brazilian class in the middle of the week during the day. I was the only student who showed up, so I got a private lesson. My teacher was a very soulful woman named Vida (meaning "life"). She led me through the basic samba steps in addition to some traditional movements which symbolized communication with the Orixa spirits. Moving like this helped me work out some of the stress I was feeling inside.

After the class I chatted with Vida and the owner of the studio, telling them what happened to me and my apartment. Vida insisted on giving me a spiritual healing session of sorts. She had me lie on the floor, and she chanted and called upon the Orixas to heal me. When she was finished, she said to me that no matter what happens in life, no matter what external things might happen to you, no one can touch who you are at your core. That is sacred. That can never be stolen, or damaged, or taken away from you.

I write this as much for myself, as for any of you who read this and need that reminder. Whatever "life" and "society" expect from you (or what you think is expected of you) and whatever "life" and "society" or total "random chaos" want to take away from you, you are still your core, that essence that makes you unique, which is the most sacred and precious and untouchable thing.

Friday, October 19, 2007

delusional scientist

Just read a disturbing commentary piece on global warming in the WSJ by Daniel Botkin. While I agree with Dr. Botkin's statement that there is a bit of a global warming frenzy occurring in our culture, I totally disagree that this frenzy is unfounded for several reasons.

1) Our government has used fear tactics to make the general public acquiesce to a preposterous war in Iraq. The strategy of fear worked for the Bush adminstration, so perhaps fear tactics will finally make the American public change their attitudes and personal habits regarding ecological conservation.

2) Many other environmental scientists worldwide have provided research that the climate is changing at a faster rate than ever before in history and that this is directly related to man's levels of consumption and the industrialized world's disregard for the ecology.

3) Scientists have also shown that many species of insects have been disappearing at alarming rates, and certain animal species are migrating away from their natural habitats to cooler climates. Furthermore, with the depletion of rainforests comes the depletion of animal habitats. With the depletion of habitats naturally comes the depletion of species. (And if you're wondering how the disappearance of insect species could affect humans, it's called the food chain.)

4) It is a proven fact that water levels are rising and certain cities as we now know and love them (New Orleans, for example) will be no longer recognizable a century from now.

I will add links to back up my observations later, but in the meantime, I think articles like this one by Dr. Botkin do a disservice to the environmental movement in this country. Europe and Japan are way ahead in curbing the negative effects of CO2 emissions than the U.S. It's a major milestone that the green movement has had as much attention in the media as it is, and it disappoints me that the American media still propogates the myth that global warming (and the negative effects of climate change that it entails) isn't really a danger to the inhabitants of this planet.

Monday, October 15, 2007

fractal



"Why fractals?"
you might ask. Because I saw a performance piece by Kathleen Hermesdorf at ODC with my artistic partner in crime Jessica on Sunday night that began with an analysis of fractals--what they mean, what they symbolize, how they are represented in nature. I became increasingly curious about fractals, that they can resemble so many things that are dissimilar (a cloud, a mountain range, a fern). I began to wonder what else is a fractal? My body? My life? Our lives? My relationships? My art? My cat? My niece? My stolen keys? My duplicate keys? San Francisco? Paris? My short story? My career? My memory? My imagination? The film I'm making with Jessica? The hard drive that is dead and in the process of being resurrected?

Here is a definition from dictionary.com:

frac·tal [frak-tl]
–noun Mathematics, Physics. a geometrical or physical structure having an irregular or fragmented shape at all scales of measurement between a greatest and smallest scale such that certain mathematical or physical properties of the structure, as the perimeter of a curve or the flow rate in a porous medium, behave as if the dimensions of the structure (fractal dimensions) are greater than the spatial dimensions.

And from Benoit Mandelbrot, who coined term while mapping the English coastline:

1975, from Fr., from L. fractus "broken," pp. of frangere "to break" (see fraction).

"Many important spatial patterns of Nature are either irregular or fragmented to such an extreme degree that ... classical geometry ... is hardly of any help in describing their form. ... I hope to show that it is possible in many cases to remedy this absence of geometric representation by using a family of shapes I propose to call fractals -- or fractal sets." [Mandelbrot, "Fractals," 1977]

And a description of fractals in nature from Wikipedia:

Fractals in nature

Approximate fractals are easily found in nature. These objects display self-similar structure over an extended, but finite, scale range. Examples include clouds, snow flakes, crystals, mountain ranges, lightning, river networks, cauliflower or broccoli, and systems of blood vessels and pulmonary vessels.

Trees and ferns are fractal in nature and can be modeled on a computer by using a recursive algorithm. This recursive nature is obvious in these examples — a branch from a tree or a frond from a fern is a miniature replica of the whole: not identical, but similar in nature.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

books/tours

A friend of my mom's is going on a trip to that country behind the Iron Curtain, so I am sending a handful of books along for her to give to Alexei, seeing as how he has finished the ones that I gave to him for Christmas. So a few days ago I went on a search through used bookstores to find some nice titles en espanol. Alexei is VERY particular about the novels he reads. His philosophy is if the book doesn't challenge you in some way or teach you something new, it's not worth reading. And he doesn't like any books that are obvious choices. When I told him in December that I thought he would like the books I gave him, he secretly dreaded that I might give him some Gabriel Garcia Marquez titles (so common!). Well I didn't. Last year the highlights were A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

My favorite place to find used books in Spanish is Dog Eared Books on Valencia and 20th. So it was there that I found the following books for my beloved picky reader on the island with no literary choices:

The Sorrows of Young Werther
by Goethe
Madame Bovary by Flaubert
The Blue Dahlia, a screenplay by Raymond Chandler
The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta by Mario Vargas Llosa (anti-Castro writer from Peru, undoubtedly banned in Cuba!)

While I was at Dog Eared, I figured I would take a moment to peruse the stacks to see if something jumped out at me for my own collection of books. I believe I found a real gem. In the poetry section, I found a hardcover of Rimbaud's A Season in Hell with photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe for eight dollars! Rimbaud wrote this collection of poems after ending his passionate love affair with fellow poet Paul Verlaine. Some light reading for a change!

***

Yesterday, I walked into Cookin', the antique cookware store on Divisadero and Oak, and chit-chatted with the owner for a good 20 minutes about Paris. Apparently she visits France a few times a year to stock up on her inventory at the broderies and flea markets. She asked me if I noticed that there seemed to be a commercialization happening all over Paris, that small mom-and-pop independent stores are losing their leases and being replaced by larger chains (sound familiar?). I can't say that I had noticed this unfortunate trend while I was last in Paris (perhaps I was too enamored with the mere notion of being there again), but today I read this posting about this very issue on a very interesting blog called The Bookstore Tourism Blog. I recommend checking it out!

Monday, October 08, 2007

goodbyes

On Friday evening, sometime after midnight, I was accosted around Church and 17th by a man in a hoodie sweatshirt. He snatched my purse and went running like the dickens. In my state of shock, my initial reaction was to run after him, and scream at him, "STOP! STOP! STOP!" But he was gone before my legs could carry me anywhere near him, and as I looked around the intersection, I saw no one else in sight who could tackle him for me and retrieve my lost handbag and the things inside that mattered to me: my cute kittycat wallet, my cell phone that purred, and my little notebook in which I jotted down thoughts and observations that come to mind as I am out and about.

When I realized that the running and screaming were hopeless, and that I would never see the man in the hoodie and my purse and my belongings ever again, I sat down on the concrete and sobbed.

I don't think I was sobbing for the loss of the material things. In the now five times that I have been robbed in the last three years, I have learned not to attach myself to material things. They are fleeting, like so many things in life, material and immaterial.

I think what I found so tragic about that moment is that in one instant, you have something in your grasp, and then in another instant, it unexpectedly escapes your clutch. You lose the sensation of it in your hands, how it feels there, the weight of it, its texture. Your hands are empty and it is gone. And no matter how fast you try to run after it, or scream at it to not go away, there's nothing you can do to bring it back.

***

This morning my brother called me on my new phone that doesn't purr. Our friend Stanford who was in my brother's class passed away last night. He was too young to leave us, and he will be missed and fondly remembered.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

prost!

a few pics from Oktoberfest at Alpine Village in Torrance, CA from this past weekend:




Wednesday, October 03, 2007

velib in sf?

Newsom is all keen on adopting the city bicycle sharing program that I saw in Barcelona, Paris, Stockholm and Brussels here in San Francisco! Another reason to love my forward-thinking city more than any other in this backward country we live in!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

in the name of God

Just got back last night from my fun-filled weekend in LA. Still thrilled that I don't live there anymore. It's always a great thing to come back to San Francisco, especially when there's a happy white kitty cat awaiting you at the door.

My niece Cloey has just started kindergarten and my brother and his wife decided to send her to Catholic school. Not because they are hard core, but mostly because they considered it to be the best school in town and the choice seemed to fit her. I must say that I agree.

When I arrived at their house on Sunday, Cloey and Fiona proceeded to show me all their new and old toys, things that I may not have seen in the 10 months that I have not visited them. One of the items that Cloey showed me was her statue of the Virgin Mary. Later on, she asked me to read some books to her. She pulled out her children's Bible and opened it to the chapter on Jesus's crucifixion and asked me to explain to her what the men were doing and saying to Jesus. I finally had to explain that Jesus was a very smart man who fell on some bad luck, that not all stories are happy and turn out fairly. And then then I grabbed the nearest book or toy that I could find to distract her from this fixation.

But Cloey wanted to know more. She turned to the resurrection. In the book, there was this typical illustration of an old man with a halo dressed in white, sitting on a cloud, welcoming Jesus into the Heavens. Cloey informed me that that was God. Because of my studies in world religions, I of course had to explain to her that God doesn't necessarily look like that. Cloey disagreed.

"I've seen God," she informed me.

"Really? Where?"

"In many churches that I've been to," she explained.

"And what did he or she look like?"

"No, God is a He. And He looks like this," she said, pointing to the picture. "Tantie? Have you seen God before?" she then asked me.

I thought about how to respond to this. I thought about how to explain to her my current interpretation and definition of God. When do I feel the presence of God? When do I invoke God's name? When do I find myself praying? What kind of God do I believe in?

"Sometimes I see God when I watch the sunset, or see a field of wildflowers, or a butterfly, or when I go to the ocean. I see God in other people, in my friends and the people I love."

"Oh," said Cloey. And then she picked up her sister's pink toy electric guitar and showed me how to play some tunes.

Monday, September 24, 2007

la vie rêvée des mimes

Someone I wish I had seen perform live:



Read more here.

on a lighter note

It's such a beautiful day that I'm going to blow off work for the rest of the afternoon and go on a bike ride.

the score

Yesterday afternoon, I played tennis with Sultan and his roommate in the Presidio. It's been a few months since I've been on the courts, so I was a little rusty and didn't really feel like I had my game on. Plus we were rotating players since we were three, so sometimes, just after I finally felt warmed up, I had to sit down and watch Sultan and his roommate play, letting my heart rate come down, my blood settle and my muscles cool. And then a few minutes later I had to jump back in the game, and get geared up all over again. On and off isn't my favorite way to play. I'd rather be in it for the duration of the match, ready to serve and return serves, ready for forehands, backhands, volleys, smashes, lobs--whatever you want to send my way.

While I was out on the court, the term Love--both the term for scoring in tennis and the sensation of adoring and being adored--came to mind. It's a funny term to indicate the value of having scored no points. In other sports we say Zero. Nil. Nothing. A shut out. But in tennis Zero equals Love.

Someone else told me this weekend that he thought that love and hate are interchangeable, that they mean the same thing. It's strange to think that the word love has adopted so many opposing definitions. In the bedroom it can mean fulfillment, and on the court it can mean zero, and in some people's brains, it can represent so much pain.

Alexei once told me that love is the most beautiful thing.

Lately in my so-called lovelife, the word kind of represents the way I played tennis on Sunday. Feeling the rush of adrenaline, setting the endorphins free, playing to the point of exhaustion, and then all of a sudden stopping, and having to sit it out, waiting for my next turn, and in the meantime being left with Nothing. Nil. Zero.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

rockstar kitty

ghost kitty

message from the sidewalk

siren

I saw the New Pornographers play at the Warfield last night. Too my good fortune, this was the second time I've seen them perform live. The first time was right after I got fired from my job in LA, so I had the night off and drove down to San Diego to see them play the Belly Up. My pal Florida and I strolled in casually around 9 pm, thinking there would be an opening band, and when we were paying for our tickets, I could hear the lyrics of The Bleeding Heart Show coming from inside the venue. Even though we missed a couple songs, the show was still amazing. Throughout the concert, fans yelled out their song requests and, one after another, the band played all of the crowd's favorites.

But there were a couple band members missing. Since she has a vibrant solo career, the uber-gifted Neko Case often does not tour with the band. So at the show in SD, the female vocals were performed by the group's keyboardist, who also has a lovely voice, though nothing like the distinctive pitches that this particular little redheaded rockstar can reach.

So I was delighted to see Neko walk out on stage when the band came on last night. I've seen Neko perform solo live, and I've seen the New Pornographers perform sans Neko, and now I've seen them perform all together. And it was a special treat. The music on its own can capture the hearts of the audience members, and get your blood pumping with the catchy rhythms and high energy, but Neko's vocals on their songs performed live will make this show stand out in my memory for years. I wish I could have been closer to the stage and then I would have truly lost myself in rock and roll fantasy.

Friday, September 14, 2007

deal breakers

What do we consider deal breakers when it comes to relationships? And not just love relationships, but friendships too? How many times can we forgive? How many times can we say that we understand before our own hearts start breaking?

What is the criteria for giving up on another person? When do we decide to completely let go? What is the last straw? How many chances do we give someone before we finally say goodbye [adieu]?

And if it's true that to err is human, then can we really blame another human being for being... human? Is it petty to write someone off because they make mistakes? What if it's not a mistake, but something beyond their control [society, politics, geography]? What if it's genetic? Something they're born with? Is he too tall? Too short? Smokes too much? Drinks too much? Is he too far away? Too poor? Too rich? Not smart enough? Speaks the wrong language? Too depressed? Too emotional? Not emotional enough? Too proud? Do we blame them? Or do we welcome the imperfection and love it [him]? And what happens when we can no longer accept the imperfection? Do we set the person free [free ourselves]?

Why does it take longer for your heart to release than your mind? Why does logic tell you one thing and your emotions another? Or is it that your heart never totally lets go?

When does it change inside? When does attraction suddenly become detachment? Why do we stop caring for something [someone] that once seemed so precious? Why do we break the deal?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

if I was in Paris...

like my pal Lilia, I would go to the Théâtre du Châtelet and see Monkey: Journey to the West, the pop Opera written by Damon Albarn formerly of Blur and now of Gorillaz. But, since I just got back from Paris, I need to wait until (hopefully) the opera makes it stateside.

did you hear the one about Bush, Cheney and the priest?

"I would really like to see George W. Bush and Dick Cheney before I
die," whispered the priest.

"I'll see what I can do, Father" replied the nurse. The nurse sent the
request to the White House and waited for a response. Soon the word
arrived. Bush and Cheney would be delighted to visit the priest.

As they went to the hospital, Bush commented to Cheney "I don't know why the old priest wants to see us, but it will certainly help our images." Cheney couldn't help but agree.

When they arrived at the priest's room, the priest took Cheney's hand
in his right hand and Bush's hand in his left. There was silence and a
look of serenity on the old priest's face. Finally Vice President
Cheney spoke. "Father, of all the people you could have chosen, why
did you choose us to be with you as you near the end?"

The old priest slowly replied "I have always tried to pattern my life
after our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."

"Amen" said Cheney. "Amen" said Bush.

The old priest continued... "He died between two lying thieves. I
would like to do the same."

Monday, September 10, 2007

roquefort, madrid, sweden

Here are the last uploads of pics from my European Vacation 2007:

Roquefort, Stockholm, Madrid

Stockholm and Moja

lucky

I feel so lucky to have so many amazing and inspiring and wonderful people in my life.

On Friday night, Sultan and Nigel met me at Tosca for a pre-birthday drink after I got off my shift. We put on some Frank Sinatra, Louis Prima and Maria Callas tunes on the jukebox and talked about long distance relationships. Having come up with no answers, we decided to get another drink at the Adler Museum. We all enjoyed the convivial vibe of that place. I hadn't been there for years. We continued our discussion on relationships, and basically came to the conclusion that it's better to take the risk and go for it, no matter what the costs, than to never know. At least I think that's what we decided. My memory is a little fuzzy.

Saturday morning I called Alexei. He laughed at practically everything I said. I don't think I was being particularly funny, I think he was simply happy to hear my voice, and was pleased that he was the first person to wish me a happy birthday. He said that he and his friends were going to go out and celebrate my birthday together with some cervezitas.

I went to the Giants v. Dodgers game on Saturday with my dad and Sheila and Karen. Sadly, the Giants lost and those damn Dodgers fans are so incredibly annoying in their royal blue jerseys and they have the nerve to be all cocky in our stadium. Needless to say, we lost miserably (well, we had one good inning). Not a triumphant way to start off my 37th year.

The rest of the day/night made up for it. Nora was in town performing the piece we collaborated on at ODC. Since she told me last minute, I didn't have time to squeeze in seeing the performance, however, I did get to attend the photo shoot/dress rehearsal. She has changed some of her choreography and also the way the film is projected. Her 70 minute solo inspired me and my friend Jen to pursue dance once again. She is so incredibly athletic and her body is ripped. But her choreography is so emotional and artistic that it's not just a "look what I can do" type of a show. Most people come out of her show very moved. I wish Nora was still living in SF so I could resume my classes with her!

Jen and I drove over to the Lower Haight to meet my mom, Angela, Sultan, Jayson, Estelle, Julie and Sheila at the Indian Oven for dinner. I've always loved that place and it's such a mellow, low-key, unpretentious (albeit HOT) place to have dinner. I'm so tired of these snobby overpriced restaurants. We toasted to celebrating life and feasted on tandoori and curries and drank a few bottles of Albarino with our meal.

Then it was off to Do Re Mi. I must say that the star of the evening was Sultan, who on the way over there said he was going along for the ride and would listen to the rest of us sing. But then we couldn't get the microphone out of his hands. He and Jen and Julie harmonized on "Endless Love." And he and Jayson serenaded the girls with the Backstreet Boys "As Long As You Love Me." I drunk dialed Maciej in the Philippines when we sang "99 Luftballoons." I regretted doing that the next morning. I wonder how expensive that call will be. It's funny how it seems like a good idea in the moment, and how I might not have done that sober.

Jen and I went for a final final at the karaoke bar in Japan Center. I met a Brazilian guy who looked like a French sailor. And a cute Japanese boy with blond hair named Yu. There was a group of 21 year olds who wished me a happy 24th birthday and I'm not sure if I should take offense to that or not! The bar stayed open until 2:45 am. Jen and I went back to my place and played with Cloud by the fireplace and I kept her up with my diarrhea of the mouth until 4:30 am.

On Sunday, we had a repeat of last year's brunch and tried to go to Zazie, but when we heard it was an hour wait for a table, ended up going next door to Bambino's once again. Jessica, Young, Sultan, Sheila, Jen and I had a fabulous brunch there by the way!

Later that afternoon, Jen and I rushed over to Fort Mason and the Magic Theater to meet Sarah and Martha for a preview of Bill Pullman's Expedition 6, about the space shuttle Columbia disaster and the astronauts who were stranded in the space station for 6 months. The play was an amalgam of news bytes that that were pieced together to form the narrative with an ensemble cast, live music and the use of low-flying trapezes to feign the effects of gravity. The Magic Theater provides such an intimate space for theater, the way the seats curve around the stage below. The way the factual news-like lines of dialogue were delivered offered a more psychological interpretation of their experience. We all commented on how surprised we were that we knew so little of what really happened with Expedition 6--the story buried under headlines about Shock and Awe and the war in Iraq.

How do I sum this up? I will sum it up as I began. When I went home that evening and snuggled up with my kitty cat, I thought about how lucky I am to have so many inspiring and wonderful and amazing friends in my life, and that I get to share so many fun and happy memories with them.

burns, burns, burns

The fire has spread to 62,000 acres. I spoke with my friend Stephanie a couple days ago. She lives in Fresno and said that the air quality there is so bad that they need to stay indoors and that she has trouble breathing normally, and that her little baby girl has been coughing. As of three hours ago, the fired is reported to have burned through close to 100 square miles in the Sierras.

I've read two articles that have blamed the fires on George Bush! Looks like I'm not the only one to blame all bad things on those evildoers.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

smog

This morning when I woke up I thought I was in LA. The sunlight was a funny orange color, and the sky was a brownish grey. Since I have been chained to editing bays day and night lately and not listening the news, I had no idea that there have been wildfires in the Sierras, which has caused the smoggy conditions in SF.

28,000 acres are up in flames.

Let's hope it's contained soon.

This would also explain why I suddenly came down with pink eye this afternoon, which, according to several online health sites, is often caused by smog.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

i would if i could

I could write about how I didn't go to Burning Man this year.
I could write about how I feel a bit envious of the tired-looking people in the dusty RV's that I keep seeing rolling back into San Francisco.
I could write about the most excellent weekend I had here in SF, complete with biking and sunsets and picnics and dancing and hikes and ocean swims and parties.
I could write about the laugh attack I had when Lilia and I attempted to sing an Eagles medley while playing the conga drum and the guitar.
I could write about how I met Vikram Vij and Roland Passot at the Farmer's Market on Saturday.
I could write about the Melon Gazpacho soup I tried there, prepared by the cute chef from One Market.
I could write about how I have a tub of that soup in my refrigerator right now.
I could write about how my cat doesn't wake me up at 7 am anymore, and instead waits until I wake up and scratch her cheeks to start meowing.
I could write about how cute she is when she's napping.
I could write about the $516 I had to pay today to get my car fixed.
I could write about the three new cd's I bought at Amoeba on the way back from the garage.
I could write about how strange it is for me to see Dana King sitting at a desk, on the phone, in front of a computer, just like me, and not on television.
I could write about how I dyed my hair today, and that it's darker now.
I could write about a letter I sent, and one that I didn't.
I could write about the strange e-mail I received from a boy this morning.
I could write about how I'm going to turn 37 years old in a few days.
I could write about how time seems to fly by so quickly.

I could write something about all of these things and more, it's just that I don't really know what to say about them, or if they have meaning for you or for me. So I'll leave it at that.

Monday, September 03, 2007

what I did on Sunday

See #2.
Only it was Muir Beach, and it felt great!

what I did on Saturday

See #4.
At New Wave City!

enjoy being

Quote from the wall at Cafe Gratitude in the Inner Sunset:

We invite you to step inside and enjoy being someone who chooses, loving your life, adoring yourself, accepting the world, being generous and grateful everyday, and experience being provided for.

Friday, August 31, 2007

definition

I just signed up for a business planning class at the SF Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center. This course meets twice a week for 14 weeks. I am, of course, ambivalent about committing two nights a week to take this course (I could be having fun! I could be relaxing after a long day at work! I could be reading my New Yorker! I could be playing with my cat! I could be eating and drinking at fancy restaurants!), and at the same time I'm excited to begin this new phase of my life, in which I'll be able to finally define myself as the owner of the business I've been dreaming about. For years I've been toying with the idea of starting my production company, and for years I've been making excuses, following tangents, getting distracted by this and that, never giving my idea the energy and nurturing that it deserves.

So here goes. I am finally defining myself and making the decision to no longer live in that grey area.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

stuck in a teenage wasteland

My short story is in the final stages of editing. I have had several readers with refined literary tastes make comments, and I have made several revisions and changes. The main comment I get back is that my story would be ideal for the teen literature market. I don't know if I should be happy or sad about this. Is my writing style that juvenile? Or do I simply relate to adolescent angst? I guess I always liked stories about teens. Those formative years are so intense. Love A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. And some of my favorite tv shows have been about teens, especially teenage girls (love Buffy, My So-Called Life). So now I'm trying to tap into this Young Adult Literature market but I don't even know where to start. I'd love to get the story into some kind of anthology, so I'm currently scouring the web for ideas and leads.

virgos do it better

On Sunday, August 26, 2007, my brother Tommy took part in the Cycle to the Sun race that ended at the top of the dormant volcano Haleakala. The race was 36 miles uphill. The elevation at the summit is 10,023 feet. It took him 4 hours and 15 minutes to complete the race, finishing 66th.

Tommy turned 39 years old on Tuesday. What a way to celebrate being alive.

Congratulations, Tommy!!!



Saturday, August 25, 2007

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A: Meow

Q: Do you like your new toy?

Q: You like a scratch on your cheeks, don't you?

Q: Who's the prettiest kitty?

Q: Did you have a nice nap?

Q: Was that a yummy snack?

Q: Why did you barf on the carpet?

Q: Why did you poo on the carpet?

Q: Why did you pee outside your litter box?

Q: Do you miss Jon?

Q: Aren't I good to you too?

Q: Do you need a pet psychologist?

Monday, August 20, 2007

quote from my man, j.j. rousseau

When I lived in Grenoble, my friends and I often hiked in the surrounding Alps. We always brought along inspirational quotes to read aloud once we reached the peak, the city below looking so small that we could pick it up and cup it in our hands. I had just taken a class in 18th century French literature, and my favorite quote at the time came from Jean-Jacques Rousseau, from his epistolary novel, Julie ou la Nouvelle Héloïse, included here below (sans traduction, so get out your Larousse!):

Ce fut là que je démêlai sensiblement dans la pureté de l’air où je me trouvais la véritable cause du changement de mon humeur, et du retour de cette paix intérieure que j’avais perdue depuis si longtemps. En effet, c’est une impression générale qu’éprouvent tous les hommes, quoiqu’ils ne l’observent pas tous, que sur les hautes montagnes, où l’air est pur et subtil, on se sent plus de facilité dans la respiration, plus de légèreté dans le corps, plus de sérénité dans l’esprit; les plaisirs y sont moins ardents, les passions plus modérées. Les méditations y prennent je ne sais quel caractère grand et sublime… Il semble qu’en s’élevant au-dessus du séjour des hommes, on y laisse tous les sentiments bas et terrestres, et qu’à mesure qu’on approche des régions éthérées, l’âme contracte quelque chose de leur inaltérable pureté. On y est grave sans mélancolie, paisible sans indolence, content d’être et de penser: tous les désirs trop vifs s’émoussent, ils perdent cette pointe aiguë qui les rend douloureux; ils ne laissent au fond du coeur qu’une émotion légère et douce; et c’est ainsi qu’un heureux climat fait servir à la félicité de l’homme les passions qui font ailleurs son tourment… je suis surpris que des bains de l’air salutaire et bienfaisant des montagnes ne soient pas un des grands remèdes de la médecine et de la morale.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

dive (updated)

Later this summer, retired French Army colonel Michel Fournier will attempt le Grand Saut (the Great Leap): to sky dive from outer space--25 miles above sea level--to the plains of Saskatchewan, the highest jump ever attempted. He is in his early sixties and has devoted his entire life to achieve this goal. He has already attempted the leap two times unsuccessfully due to technical difficulties or Acts of God. He has given everything else up that might ease his retirement in order to fund his endeavor, borrowing money, selling his home and living in a friend's rustic country house without electricity with his wife. He is obsessively dedicated to breaking not just one record (an American parachuted from 19 miles above sea level to the deserts of New Mexico in the 1960's), but four.

You could read his story and conclude that this man is crazy, but he is pursuing his dream. And although I personally (hopefully) will never be possessed to jump out of a plane with a bag of fabric on my back, I am inspired by his vision and dedication.

Last night, Lilia, Sultan, Joyce and I went for sangria at Cha Cha Cha in the Mission. I complained about being frustrated by the vicious cycle I continue to find myself in, the same complaint of many San Franciscans, that this town is too damn expensive and it's hard to make ends meet. I've only been living here on my own for a month and a half, and I'm already sick of living paycheck to paycheck, barely scraping by. (A week ago, I checked my checking account balance and it was in double digits.) I've been talking about breaking the cycle for years, and now, staring at in the face once again, I'm finally ready to jump out of it.

Sultan's friend Maceij, the hot medical student/runway model from Germany, joined us later and we ended up at karaoke night at Amnesia. Whenever there's a microphone and an opportunity to live out my rock-and-roll fantasy, I need very little encouragement. I quickly signed my name and request on the dj's list, and before long I was called up on stage. The words appeared on the screen and I belted out the lyrics I know all too well:

Hey Hey Mama
Said the way you move
Gon' make you sweat
Gon' make you groooooooove!


I thrashed my head and body about on stage and the crowd gathered around below me, singing with me and headbanging. The adrenaline rushed through all my cells and felt amazing. Near the end of my performance, somewhere between stanzas of "Ah Ah Ah Ah/Ah Ah Ah Ah" I heard the dj say to me "I feel a stage dive coming on." I looked out on my fans and they all had their hands in the air ready to catch me. I had never done a stage dive before. I put the microphone back on the stand, and prepared for my great leap. I didn't have time to really think about what might happen if they dropped me on the floor before my body went flying off the stage, landing softly onto the hands of the many people I didn't even know, but who nonetheless seemed to support me.

I don't even remember how I came down and got back onto my own feet again.



Wednesday, August 08, 2007

art or vandalism?

I'm a little late in commenting on this happening, but when I saw this article in the SF Chronicle, I was a little in shock. As you may know, Jessica and I are in the thralls of producing our experimental dance film, and a few months ago we set out with our cameraman Jeff to film in several locations throughout San Francisco. We came across this crazy location by chance out in the Dogpatch neighborhood. The corrugated steel fences were covered in graffiti, as well as some seemingly abandoned construction equipment. The park looked like some kind of drug infested mad max throwaway of the City, empty and abandoned, some decayed version of what planners wanted it to be, and we thought it perfectly represented the state of mind and body that Jessica and I wanted to convey through the film. So we set up and filmed there.

Little did we know then that the park was called Warm Water Cove and that city officials were planning on giving the park a makeover, more specifically repainting the tagged walls in white, like tabula rasa.

So it's ironic and fitting that this park now has a new identity, and that we were there expressing ourselves as a result of the street art that in turn inspired us to dance and create. Here are a few pics of Jess doing her thing out there:







And some more photos of the day they painted here on SFist:

SFist posting

yeeeeeeeaaaaaaahhhhh!

All right, Barry!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

wild and limitless

When I left Jayson's place at around 8 pm yesterday evening, I was seduced by the light of magic hour to the shoreline. Coming to Ocean Beach reminds me time and again that San Francisco is, in effect, a beach town. And what a beach. Wide and expansive. Wild and uncontrollable, much like the City's inhabitants. The crashing waves resonate a constant rumble, while white foam begets more white foam. I watch lines of pelicans sail through the sky in an inverted V, and cargo ships inch towards the horizon, both headed for destinations unknown to me. We are at the edge of the Earth here, standing in an ecotone, on the threshold between one solid body that I intimately know and a fluid body of something so profound and unrestrained and full of life that remains a mystery to me. As much as I love my City, when I stand here on this shoreline, I am reminded of the limitations of its perimeter, and of the infinite possibilities that this planet offers us as a gift.

The sun breaks apart into panels of gradient hues of orange. It seems as if Monet could have painted this landscape for my eyes, and for the eyes of the man next to me with his camera, snapping away, and for the eyes of the lovers next to him, entwined in cozy embraces and kisses, and for the eyes of the dogs unleashed, running free across the sand, and for the eyes of the children playing games with the waves lapping the shore, and for the eyes of the surfers waiting for that perfect wave, and for the eyes of the hard core beach bums weathering the chilly air, roasting marshmallows on their bonfires, and for the eyes of the man untangling his fluorescent kite so he can send it high into the sky once again.

The sky darkens into a shade of pinkish-purplish-blue, and as I walk back to my car, the wind sings in my ears the passionate love song of the Pacific.

Monday, July 30, 2007

list no. 2 - things that make you feel alive

1. Flying down a hill after cycling up a steep incline on the flipside.
2. Diving into a wave, especially if it's into the chilly waters at Ocean Beach.
3. A kiss that takes your breath away.
4. Losing yourself on the dance floor.
5. Crying tears of joy or sorrow.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

so many definitions for the word

love [luhv] noun, verb, loved, lov·ing.
–noun
1. a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.
2. a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.
3. sexual passion or desire.
4. a person toward whom love is felt; beloved person; sweetheart.
5. (used in direct address as a term of endearment, affection, or the like): Would you like to see a movie, love?
6. a love affair; an intensely amorous incident; amour.
7. sexual intercourse; copulation.
8. (initial capital letter) a personification of sexual affection, as Eros or Cupid.
9. affectionate concern for the well-being of others: the love of one's neighbor.
10. strong predilection, enthusiasm, or liking for anything: her love of books.
11. the object or thing so liked: The theater was her great love.
12. the benevolent affection of God for His creatures, or the reverent affection due from them to God.
13. Chiefly Tennis. a score of zero; nothing.
14. a word formerly used in communications to represent the letter L.
15.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

funeral/fog

It always befuddles me that the fans of the SF Giants wear black to show their support and devotion to their team. Black is a color that we commonly wear to funerals, when we solemnly remember those who have passed, or when we remember somber events in history. For example, I remember in 1989 when I was at UCSD, and the massacre at Tian An Men Square happened, and all the Chinese students wore black, or black arm bands or head bands, to show support for their brethren back home who perished on that day and those still battling against the powers that be that brought on that horrible debacle. So why is it that we go to support a team that should bring us joy that we wear the color of death? Perhaps we wear black because we know what's coming. We know it's a hopeless case. We know we are doomed. As we march up the ramps to find our seats at the stadium, dressed in black (and orange--the colors of Halloween), we are marching on to the gallows with our dying team.

So when this baseball season is over, I truly hope to see a new Giants team reincarnated next spring, with fresh new faces, who can really play ball. Even though we missed a 9th inning rally last night, my dad and I couldn't help but take off at the top of the 8th. It was such a pathetic display of professional baseball, where the only thing the fans get excited about is when Barry steps up to the plate. I don't feel like I can rally for one player, even though he might hit that historic home run. We go to the stadium because baseball is our national pastime, not to watch batter after batter strike out or ground out. And for the price of our tickets, not to mention the price of peanuts and beer, we fans deserve a little more satisfaction than being able to watch Barry have about 3-4 at bats at best, and a team that leads the Majors in double plays.

But every time my dad invites me to a game, I will cancel all plans and don my best black and root for the home team, and usually return home frustrated and saddened, having suffered another loss.

Wearing black to the game is a paradox quite like summer, a season that anywhere else typically conjures images of balmy nights and scant clothing, but where here in San Francisco, we bust out our sweaters and scarves, always prepared for the thick fog to roll in and gusty winds to plow through the streets. And so we must wait until these boys of summer, dejected, leave the field, when the Indian summer begins, and the looming grey dissipates, in order to clearly see the light of the sun through the dense fog, the glimmer of a new hope.

Monday, July 23, 2007

love child

OK, so, here's what happened. About a year and a half ago, I got the Mayor really, really drunk (easy enough) and then took advantage of him. This Sunday at the Stern Grove Festival, we finally made the first public announcement of his illegitimate son and our clandestine union. I think it'll do wonders for his campaign.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

louis loves his checks

Once a month, Louis Gourmeau receives his Social Security check from the U.S. Treasury at his home in Roquefort-les-Pins, Département des Alpes Maritimes, France.