Wednesday, October 31, 2007


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


"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

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


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


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


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.