Wednesday, December 31, 2008

the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning

Why as a culture do we see things as having a beginning and an end?

The end of a year. The beginning of a new year. It’s only the Gregorian calendar that tells us that this is the end. We get a new number, but nothing has substantially changed. The weather is the same as yesterday, for instance. Remember that the Southern Hemisphere just celebrated summer solstice.

Into 2009, we might still have a lingering cold, the same crush or heartache, the same boring job. We might make new year's resolutions that we never seem to fulfill, dreams that never materialize and just roll over into the next year.

The beginning of the day, the end of the day. The beginning of the night, the end of the night. Where does one end and the other really begin? Last year on New Year's Eve I went to Ocean Beach to watch an incredible sunset. This year it looks like the horizon will be enshrouded in pea soup fog. Night will fall on us like a soft grey cloak over a woman's shoulders. We'll all go out and drink champagne, count down from ten, dance until we drop, and eventually go to sleep.

When we wake up, it will be One/One. 365 days will lay before us like a smorgasbord, or a blank canvas.

We begin and end relationships, and yet there are people that I feel like I’ve broken up with many times over who somehow keep returning, and whose role in my life takes a brand new direction. An end becomes a beginning. Or maybe our hearts never really let go in the first place. A relationship begins, yes, but when does it really end? We always learn something from it that we carry through life.

There are beginnings and ends to songs, even though you might keep on humming a tune for days, the lyrics spinning in your head like a ballerina.

Or what about your dreams? I've had dreams as a child that still haunt me today, even though they occurred only for a brief few minutes in the middle of a deep sleep decades ago.

A beginning and end of a trip you take, either one to a foreign land or one that you take in your mind… when it’s long been over, you still revisit the images you saw, the people you encountered, the surge of emotions you felt that made you feel alive.

Or the beginning of a life. The birth of a baby , or the death of a grandparent, or parent, or sibling. Who is to say that when this life ends another one doesn’t begin simultaneously?

The end of an era. The beginning of an era. We really can’t say what direction we’re headed politically, or if any historic life-changing events are about to occur that will continue to mark this dark period of history, or, hopefully, enlighten us.

The end of summer leads to the beginning of fall to the beginning of winter to the beginning of spring. Even in the dead of winter when the branches are mostly bare, we still witness the buds of cherry blossoms forming on trees.

If I could paint a picture with my words, I would leave you with the image of a circle. Or better yet, a million beginnings of new circles.

Monday, December 22, 2008

why I call myself an ex-Catholic

Because I was baptized and confirmed a Catholic, some people still consider me one, but back in 1989, when I read a news similar to this, I decided I would renounce my religion and excommunicate myself. I've said I would never marry in the Catholic Church and I would never baptize or raise my children Catholic. Having broken up with my prior faith many years ago, I wonder now if I should officially divorce myself as an act of civil disobedience.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


This guy I met recently called me last night and said, "I'm lost! I don't know where I am! Can you come save me?"

I believe I've heard that line before. A few times.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Hot Holidays!

Lilia and I attended a holiday party at 440 Brannan design studio, where you get to try on clothes while drinking cocktails and get your pic taken with Santa. Because this wasn't just any old Santa, we posed for several. I also wouldn't have minded taking him into the dressing room.

Monday, December 08, 2008

a happy economy

I'm no economist, but the Gross National Happiness model created in 1972 by the Bhutan government seems like a welcome alternative to our country's approach.

"...the former king shifted focus of development from productivity to human well-being in four areas: sustainable economic development, preservation and promotion of cultural values, conservation of the environment, and good governance."

Is this merely a utopian fantasy, or could an economy built on happiness really exist and endure?

Friday, December 05, 2008

is it all about timing?

There was a Sex and the City episode where Carrie posed this question. Miranda felt that indeed it was.

Sometimes when I read news like this, I have to agree with Miranda.

it all comes down to these three things

The Trifecta. It seems to be more and more like searching for the Holy Grail to me.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Global Spirit

Some sneak previews of a series I've been editing are airing very soon on Link TV. If you subscribe to digital cable or satellite, you can tune in. Otherwise Link airs at strange times in certain areas, but it's always interesting programming and every time I edit for them, I learn something new and find myself pondering profound themes of what it means to be alive.

Here's the link. The most stunning episode I believe is the one on forgiveness which follows 5 Vietnam vets with PTSD back to Vietnam for the first time in 40 years.

You can watch clips and trailers on the Global Spirit website now. So check it out!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Harvey Milk yesterday and today

It seems a bit like fate that after the passing of Prop. 8, the film about gay rights leader Harvey Milk is released. Many people think that if it came out (clever pun not intended) before the election, Prop. 8 may have gone down in flames. Hmmm, just like the Bush administration did after Fahrenheit 911?

In any case, however you want to slice it, it seems like this film is going to be phenomenal, and will mobilize people at the time we need them the most.

I've been editing a piece for Eye on the Bay about Harvey Milk's triumphant and tragic story, and his legacy, which airs TONIGHT at 7 pm. You can also catch it online if you're not a Bay Area resident.

Milk the film is screening at the Castro, of course. And from the few clips I've seen, it's not to be missed. More importantly, from what we all lived on November 4th, it's not to be missed.

Friday, November 21, 2008

omigod! fer sure fer sure!

"I'm like, O.K., God, if there is an open door for me somewhere, this is what I always pray, I'm like, don't let me miss the open door," Palin said in an interview with Fox News on Monday. "And if there is an open door in '12 or four years later, and if it is something that is going to be good for my family, for my state, for my nation, an opportunity for me, then I'll plow through that door."

-Sarah Palin, in a Fox News interview on Monday

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

is California the new Ohio... Florida... ?

Like many, I was shocked by the results of the latest election, first for the overwhelming victory of Barack Obama over John McCain, and secondly that Prop. 8 actually passed in California.

Thankfully, law suits have already been filed and protesters are already raising hell, because let's face it. This is a civil rights issue. How it got on the ballot in the first place (thanks to leaders of the Mormon and Catholic faiths, woohoo!) is appalling.

Don't we know by now that those who want to lead a married life should be allowed to do so in the pursuit of happiness? And the Yes on 8's position of "protecting" the "sacred" union between a man and a woman is pure hogwash considering the divorce rate and such stellar examples of heterosexual marriages in today's society like those of Britney Spears.

So now there is wind that California's election was corrupt, given that the computerized voting machines are largely owned by members of the Christian far right.

Then do we really know for sure if Prop 8 passed? Many exit polls show that it would have been defeated. Even though I live in an SF bubble, it still shocked me that the majority of Californians could be so discriminatory.

So the fight begins again. Above is a soon-to-be released poster from Shepherd Fairley that I hope will appear in as many windows as his Obama Hope.

Love Unites.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Election Night of Mayhem

obamaflag2, originally uploaded by ktieche.

I'll let this photo speak for itself.

Taken around 11 pm on Tuesday, November 4th at the corner of 16th and Guerrero where many San Franciscans chose to celebrate in the streets.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

George Clinton was a visionary

Back in '93, it may only have been a funkadelic dream, but now it is proudly our reality! Obama paints the White House Black!

Monday, November 03, 2008

party of intolerance

When I read this opinion piece by Paul Krugman, I kept thinking about how other governments in history became so racist and corrupt that horrific actions became standard policy, if you know what I mean. Krugman says it best at the end of the article that the GOP has become the "party of intolerance."

I truly hope the real Americans take back our country tomorrow.


Have a look at this amazing photo essay about voters waiting in line at polling places around the world on the Daily KOS. I have already voted. I did it at City Hall about a week and a half ago. I had to wait in line, too. I'm so anxious about tomorrow's election that I am about ready to blow up. I have been considering volunteering to monitor the polls in SF, somehow I feel that our city is not so much at risk of voter intimidation. Then again, you really can't predict something like that until it happens.

Monday, October 27, 2008

a couple things that make me happy before the elections

Ted Stevens is convicted of a felony, which means the Democrat running against him for his seat in the Senate is likely to win.

And Alaska's largest newspaper endorses Obama for President! I only hope this discredits Palin in the eyes of even more Republicans.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

how about a round of applause?

Last night I went to Yoshi's SF to see my fave local band, Rupa and the April Fishes (Yes, again. Good music never tires).

My accordion teacher is one of the musicians in this group. And when I was watching her in amazement, it hit me that not only are we paying to see them do their thing, but their thing is also their job. I mean, I might be a musician if I actually had that gift. (I don't, which is why I'm not, and which is why I pay to see others perform.) Needless to say, the show was amazing as always, and the crowd at Yoshi's, though a little more subdued than the usual raucousness of an April Fishes show, showed their appreciation for a exceptional job though a standing ovation and loud cheering and clapping.

So the other thought I had was, wouldn't it be nice if we had cheering sections at all our jobs? I mean, I have talent too. I'm an editor, and maybe I would be more motivated to cut if I had a group of fans encouraging me as I worked. Granted, editing is less glamorous, awe-inspiring and sexy than performing live music on stage, but it's cool too and deserves appreciation, no?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I had a dream the other night, some may call it a nightmare, that it was the apocalypse, and that we all knew that the atomic bomb was about to drop on us all. It's funny what you do when you realize that you have only a few minutes left to live, and I chose to ride my bike through SF, dance with my niece to Brazilian music and worry about what was going to happen to all the animals.

When I woke up, it was clear to me why I was dreaming about the apocalypse, and honestly, it looks something like this. Click on different things in the room to get a better idea of what will happen (especially the red phone).

Saturday, October 18, 2008

crazy for bonito!

My friend Michael told me about bonito flakes about a year ago, and since then, Cloud has learned how to ask for them by name. She has a special kind of meow when she wants more bonito. There is an air of desperation to it.

But bonito flakes at the pet store are so expensive! How can I possibly satiate my cat's addiction to this flaky dried fish?

I found a couple markets in Japan Town that sell bonito for humans at a much lower price. I head over there and buy several bags at a time, so I have plenty in stock and Cloud will never go through withdrawals. The last time I went there, I found a 100 gram bag for $4.50 a bag. So I grabbed four of them and slyly went to the register, thinking I could pull off the guise of being a cool white chick who really likes to make Japanese soup.

The cashier took one look at me and asked, "Are these for your cat?" I think my face went red. I had been found out.

"How did you know?" I asked.

"You have cat hair all over your jacket," was his reply.

I guess I am a dead giveaway.

Friday, October 17, 2008

a frightening prospect

Monsieur, there is mold in your cellar!

Recently I attended a party in San Francisco with a lot of interesting French people. I met a troglodyte, a guy from Tours who grew up in a cave, and his parents still live in the cave. At the same party, another girl told me that during the war, Parisians took to growing mushrooms in their basements because both money and provisions were tight, which is why they are called les champignons de Paris.

Here's a funny ad I found online about these French fungi:

And here's a shot of a French cave dwelling:

This leads me to my theme of the day. Growing mold in your cellar... on purpose! I just read this engaging article in the IHT about Philippe Alléosse, a Parisian man committed to making cheese according to French artisanal tradition, taking on industrial cheese producers and fighting to preserve his country's culinary heritage. He's doing it in his own cellar, just like those Parisian pioneers and their 'shrooms.

But of course, what's at stake here is greater than one man dedicated to making cheese the old fashioned way. Like José Bové and the hunger strikers against GM crops and foods, and like Joel Salatin, the "beyond organic" grass farmer in Michael Pollan's outstanding book The Omnivore's Dilemma, Alléosse plays a crucial role in our global fight to preserve food as we know it, or I should say as our grandparents knew it. Chicken that tastes like Chicken. Cheese that tastes like Cheese. The NYT had an article yesterday about Bill Niman, the famous beef-rancher who recently turned goat rancher. Goat that tastes like Goat.

I'd also like to contribute my own story here about the way food ought to taste. The first time I went to France, I was a twelve year old zit-faced girl with braces. At that point in my life, I thought cheese was a yellow thing that came in individually wrapped slices that my mom put in our sandwiches. Nachos were another part of my regime. On this particular trip, my dad took me to the market on Rue de Seine, and showed me what I now know is a Crottin de Chevre. I had never tasted cheese like this before, especially with some slices of fruit and a fresh baguette. It became our mission from that moment on to find the moldiest cheese we could find. "The moldier the better" became our motto.

But wait, there's more! At the age of sixteen, I found myself in Belgium. One morning at breakfast, my host mother put a kilo of tiny strawberries in front of us, and we made tartines aux fraises, kind of like a strawberry sandwich. These strawberries were so sweet that no added sugar (or worse, HFCS) is needed. I had never encountered a fruit so sweet, perhaps because I had never tasted a real strawberry.

On a final note, my friend Sarah told me over lunch today that she just joined a new CSA for Marin Sun Farms because she no longer wants her boyfriend to buy Safeway beef from Cowschwitz. My point, of course, is that whether you buy from a CSA, grow your own or buy from the farmers' markets, by all means, do something to protect our food! And cheers to the NYT and IHT for publishing such important articles!

was it something I said?

I got a message this morning that really made me laugh out loud. I met the Twins Brothers on my last trip to Paris, two DJs from the banlieue. They're coming to SF in November to deejay at the End Up and asked me if I knew anyone that could help them get a few more gigs while they were in town. I put them in touch with my old friend DJ Seven, who in turn gave the Twins several leads. I was copied on the Twins' reply to DJ Seven this morning, in which one of the Twins thanked him and told him, "I hate to meet you."

I'd say something was lost in translation.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

dances with david [come take a ride]

I have been so negligent. I have had a lot on my mind. I haven't been able to formulate what I want to say here. I will be back with more ruminations from KT's brain soon.

In the meantime, I saw David Byrne (my hero) at Davies Symphony Hall about a week and a half ago. It was quite a sight to see people boogie-ing in the aisles during the concert since all my previous visits to Davies have been to sit and listen to a symphony.

The show rocked to say the least, and for lack of better words (of course it rocked, you say). For the second encore, Extra Action Marching Band (friends of David) traipsed through the crowd from the back, joined Byrne and friends on stage and they literally brought down the house with a truly symphonic rendition of Burning Down The House. A religious experience for me.

David Byrne recently wrote about his visit to SF on his own blog, and I although I am aware that he travels with bicycles wherever he goes, I am quite pleased to learn that he toured the Tiburon Peninsula and Muir Woods à vélo. What I wouldn't give to go on road to nowhere with David Byrne by bike.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

dances with chicken

So I've got my pic with Bill, with Gavin, and now with Chicken!

Chicken John that is. He snored next to me all the way from New York to San Francisco (coming back from my European vacation). He also told me all about a boat that he built in the Hudson Bay that runs on hydrogen. More about that on his blog. (Actually, as a gift, he gave me a Ticket to the Moon, so I wonder if that gets me a ride on the boat. I'll have to ask him.)

Monday, October 06, 2008

start wearing it

I want to think that Gogol Bordello is the reason that purple is the new "it" color this season.

Photo by Sarah Cervinski

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

peur[s] du noir

I can't get enough of French film! Especially animated ones! Peur[s] du Noir (Fear[s] of the Dark) reminds me a little of Persepolis in style, yet draws on psychological nightmares instead of socio-political ones for content.

Watch the trailer here.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Cliff's Notes for political speechwriting

Let's just hope Palin doesn't ever catch wind of this.

Then again, luckily she speaks no foreign languages.

Thanks to the Lonely Trader for sharing!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Palin to step down?

Conservative commentators are now suggesting that that crazy lady from north of the Great White North should step down.

What do you all think? Should she keep on talking le grand BS, or should she be eliminated from the race so John McCain can find a more qualified running mate?

la classe

I'm excited to see this documentary by Laurent Cantet as part of the San Francisco Film Society's series French Cinema Now.

rearing her ugly head

Absurd excerpts from the Palin-Couric interview.

Couric: You've cited Alaska's proximity to Russia as part of your foreign policy experience. What did you mean by that?

Sarah Palin: That Alaska has a very narrow maritime border between a foreign country, Russia, and, on our other side, the land-boundary that we have with Canada. It's funny that a comment like that was kinda made to … I don't know, you know … reporters.

Couric: Mocked?

Palin: Yeah, mocked, I guess that's the word, yeah.

Couric: Well, explain to me why that enhances your foreign-policy credentials.

Palin: Well, it certainly does, because our, our next-door neighbors are foreign countries, there in the state that I am the executive of. And there…

Couric: Have you ever been involved in any negotiations, for example, with the Russians?

Palin: We have trade missions back and forth, we do. It's very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia. As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there, they are right next to our state.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

party of one

The last evening of my vacation I find myself in Zurich on a Sunday, meaning most everything is closed, so I decided to stock up on alcohol from the supermarket that was open in the train station and get drunk and walk around and see what jumps out at me. So far the highlights have been a squirrel smelling another squirrel's butt, a beach footie match inside the train station, stange anti-Euro graffitti and two Swiss guys in suits eating McDonald's french fries.

I believe it's time to go home.

Friday, September 12, 2008

bizarre ride to the far side

I've been in la Bretagne with Louis and Jeanine, my adoptive French grandparents, and having a truly Groundhog Day-esque experience. Last night we drove circles around the countryside because Louis couldn't quite figure out where he was. And we are not lacking in topics of conversation because we seem to have the same conversation every five minutes! Louis keeps me laughing by the way he drives, always in second gear and never more than 30 km per hour, usually with the brights on, and often going the wrong way down one way streets or pedestrian zones. When Jeanine and I attempt to advise him that someone is trying to pass him, or that he's about to run someone over, his reply is always the same: "Je m'en fous!"

Ya know what, at his age, I don't blame him one bit! On ne vit qu'une fois!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

taxidermists, twin brothers and exhibitionists

Sound a bit like a bizarre circus sideshow? This was how I celebrated my b-day!

Monday morning at the Marché aux Puces, Mademoiselle La Xara and I cruised the aisles of antiques and curiosities. It had been about 13 years since I had visited the famous Parisian flea market, and since last year I spent most of my days reconnecting to the familiar touristic sites, I was looking forward to a unique experience. And La Xara just went along for the ride.

In the Marché Paul Bert, a caged monkey screamed silently at us to catch our attention. This particular booth displayed the creepiest collection of taxidermy we'd ever encountered. From monkeys, to heads of dog, to a rigor mortis cat, to a mummified human, to the skull of a still-born baby, we wondered what kind of person would collect such dark objects and why. We lingered a while at the stall, snapping photos and discussing the possible origins of these pieces, when the owner finally approached us. Seemed like a nice, normal guy with a great sense of humor! (Still maybe not the kind of guy you bring home to mom and dad... well maybe my dad!)

After the dead animals, La Xara and I grabbed a vegetarian pizza and a salad across from the Marché Biron, and then hopped on the Métro to Charles de Gaulle - Etoile for a bit of Parisian wow factor. It turned into a gorgeous afternoon, perfect weather for a stroll down the Champs-Elysées. I noticed a kitty cat who decided to play Frogger into oncoming traffic and was impressed that the Parisians actually stopped their cars for the dumb little thing! Suicidal cat, I think.

We picked up some Vélibs at the Grand Palais and rode in circles around Rive Droite, finally ending up with some bières blanches at Place des Vosges to watch the sun go down. We crossed the Seine at magic hour, and I think La Xara finally became a francophile, the final rite of passage into becoming a true Tièche. Island girl goes City of Lights.

Now, on that note, the location of the apartment where Mlle La Xara was staying in Paris must be addressed. When she told me a friend of her younger sister's had offered a couch for her to sleep on, I asked her if she knew what part of town she'd be staying in, she said she couldn't remember - neither the Métro, the street nor the arrondissement. So I asked if she was near any monuments and she said something to the effect of, "Yeah, it's right near that big church." Turns out the apartment was on Rue des Grands Augustins, only three doors down from the Seine. So when she offered for me to stay over night with her, the answer, naturally, was OUI.

Sujata had the bone marrow for an appetizer, and that's all that needs to be said about dinner.

After dinner, we roamed the streets of St. Germain, looking for bamboula or simply happy to be on the journey. We encountered a group of guys on bikes, two of whom are twin brothers and dj's appropriately named, Les Twins Brothers. Coincidentally, they have an upcoming show at the End Up in SF. We sauntered on towards the river to snap some photos of the lights reflecting on the water and the quai, when we met couple drunk frenchies, just leaving the bar who invited us to a party on Ile St. Louis with fireworks. Apparently, the idea appealed to Suta, who within seconds, was on the back of this guy's moto, wearing his helmet. It didn't occur to her why the heck there would be a party with fireworks on some random Monday night in September at 3 a.m. The boys were disappointed, but I think we made the right choice to let them go on their own.

By this point, we were ready to call it a night. We were walking along the Seine, minding our own business, when another group of drunk Frenchies pulled over in their car and tried to lure us to join them for a drink. Suta explained that she had to pee, and of course, one of them offered that he had a very nice pee pee, and proceeded to drop his pants for us, as if somehow that would impress us.

So the story ends having witnessed on my birthday a new moon rising over the Seine.

Monday, September 08, 2008


Me voici de nouveau à Paris.

I have experienced a few firsts this time around. Today I woke up and turned the ripe age of [ahem] 21 and a half. To celebrate, La Xara and I will head off to the flea market momentarily and who knows what else will transpire later this afternoon and evening. I have also officially waltzed in Paris. Perhaps a little cliché, but who cares! And last but not least, I have a week-long subscription to the Vélib, the city bikeshare program. Experiencing Paris on two wheels is exceptionnel, and I'm happy to report that the drivers have so far been friendly and polite.

On Friday, Anthony led the group of us around which he of course could do blindfolded. After picking up some refreshments, he brought us to a place I'd never even heard of before - les Arènes de Lutèce, a sort of Coliseum where gladiators fought during the Roman era. Now the only games played there are footie for the youngsters and Pétanque for the older folks.

That's it for now. Gotta go maximize my time here!

Friday, September 05, 2008

OPP or à la recherche du chat perdu

So I've been in Europe for about a week and having severe Cloud withdrawals. Everytime I see a cat in a photograph or poster, my eyes get a little weepy and I start reminiscing about how my furry white feline perches on my lap and rubs her cheek against my hand and purrs and salivates.

Yesterday I took Annick's Dutch style bicycle out for an afternoon spin on the country roads here in the middle of Nowhere, Belgium. I wasn't very far along when a gorgeous little orange tabby ran into the road to greet me. Of course, I had to oblige. Much to my delight, a calico kitty sauntered out to say hello, stretch and pose for me. Two cute furry animals to satiate my lack of feline companionship! While I was snapping photos of my new pals, all of a sudden, their human owner appeared behind me carrying what looked like a basket of onions or shallots. I quickly explained to her my love for les chats, and that I have a pretty white cat at home named Cloud (Nuage) and that I miss her terribly. She replied that she also has a white cat inside the house who recently gave birth to three little kittens, and invited me inside to meet them.

The mama kitty was called Praline. When I arrived she was curled up in a ball, but then rose to her feet, purring proudly, to show off her three little ones. I scratched Praline behind her ears and congratulated her as a new mom. I could have lingered much longer, but when the woman's sons arrived home, confused by this strange foreign woman ogling over their pets, I figured that was my cue to leave.

I've made other feline friends on this trip - a chatty black and white cat in front of Auriane's school, and a fat cat named Baby who loved getting his belly scratched at the Chinese restaurant where we had our "high school reunion" last night in Verviers. Cat portraiture to follow, naturellement!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Adieu Ellesmere

I find it ironic that soon after McCain picked Alaska's governor Sarah Palin, known for her support of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, as his running mate, a 50 square-mile ice shelf breaks away into the Arctic Sea, another sign that climate change is irreparably taking its toll.

A bad omen if I've ever seen one.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

première nuit blanche (threesomes)

Needless to say, Anthony and I returned to the hotel at 5 am on Friday night. He, Lilia and I got started at 11 pm with a bottle of Champagne (yes, capital C) and a bottle of white in the hotel room. Zurich's old town was a-bamboula with a street party which included live bands, expensive beers and many drunkards stumbling over cobblestones. We three met up with another group of three Zurichers (is that what you call people from Zurich?) and danced and partied the night away to the sounds of a fun balkan-punk band (the only thing missing was an accordion).

About 2 am, we lost Lilia to her desire for sleep, but for the king of bamboula and I, the party had only just begun.

We connected with our second Zuricher threesome of the night, who invited us to come along with them to another street party on Longstrasse, which according to our new friend Nadine, was the street in Zurich where you go to find drugs and sex. I didn't see any whores - though I was propositioned - and didn't witness any drug usage - apart from the beers we were drinking.

All said and done, what a way to kick off my late summer vacation.

character style personality

In Switzerland, there is a liqueur called Appenzeller that is made with 42 herbs. It is produced in a chalet on a mountaintop, and is supposed to give you style, character and personality.

At Sultan's wedding in the Swiss German town of Wil on Saturday night, I must have thrown down a half dozen or so shots of this elixir. I asked Lilia if she wanted to join me. Her reply was that if she had any more style, character or personality she might explode.

So I did a couple more shots for her.

The next morning at brunch, Lilia told me that I smelled like 42 herbs.

I took it as a compliment (style, character and personality was oozing from my pores).

Thursday, August 21, 2008

no one knew and loved The City like Herb

My mom gave me her Pink Section on Sunday, and since I tend to read non-selectively and voraciously (i.e. anything that is within reach when lying on the couch with Cloud perched on my lap), I read it cover to cover. I discovered Herb Caen's re-published column entitled, Ahh San Francisco, and was particularly touched by his various of depictions of city life. Let him remind all of us why this place we call home is so unique and special.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

bamboula begins again

My friend Anne in Paris just told me that she plans on taking me to a party in Ménilmontant that she describes as loufoque.

So here's your French word of the day:

loufoque [lu fuhk]

(inf adj) - wild, crazy

C'est une idée loufoque ! - That's a crazy idea!

Related: la loufoquerie - craziness, barminess

24-hour service

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


Definition: (informal adj) - cranky, scatty, hare-brained, eccentric

Il est bizarre ce mec, toujours avec ses projets farfelus. - That guy is strange, always with these hare-brained plans.

Il y a plus de gens farfelus aujourd'hui qu'hier. - There are more eccentric people today than yesterday.

My dear old dad just gave me a case of wine that he and his pals made. It's a California Syrah. My dad wanted to call it Château Terrific, but they named it Farfelu. I think the name is fitting.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

you drunken shrew!

This small mammal can tank the equivalent of nine beers without even getting a buzz on. To me, that would be very frustrating, not to mention expensive. Thanks to Lilia for forwarding!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

sa vi(ll)e à vélo

This blog is the greatest invention since sliced bread, and the wheel!

For anyone passionate about bande dessinée and bikes! Great depiction of what tourists must think about cycling in SF (obviously she didn't pick up the bicycle city map.)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

more art i want to see

Into the Ether at the RayKo Photo Center.

From their website:

Come see this landmark West Coast exhibition featuring the work of 10 of the greatest contemporary collodion artists to ever coat a plate. Both ambrotypes (one-of-a-kind images made on glass) and ferrotypes, or tintypes (one-of-a-kind images made on thin metal plates) will be exhibited. The photographers come from a wide variety of backgrounds and pursue a wide range of subject matter, but they are united in their choice of process and their passion for this technique that renders some of the most exquisite photographs ever seen.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

shorty take a bow

When I lived in Mississippi, I would often call in sick to work when I needed to take a mental health break, and that mental health break usually meant a five-and-a-half hour drive down the 55 to New Orleans to hear music, dance and drink in the streets. My favorite place to hear music was the Maple Leaf Bar in the Garden District. I remember getting off the street car at the Carrolton stop, and you could already hear the music and feel the vibe. Upon entering, everyone would be dancing, as there is no sitting and nodding your head to jazz allowed in the Big Easy. That city, in my memory, is synonymous with hot, sticky, sweaty late nights filled with electricity and good times.

This past weekend, I was taken straight back the Maple Leaf Bar right here at the Independent in NOPA. Trombone Shorty is a young jazz impresario hailing from New Orleans. On Saturday night, he rocked the house with one song leading straight into another, complete with originals as well as jazzy renditions of Snoop Dogg and AC/DC.

I had seen Trombone Shorty open for Allen Toussaint at Stern Grove two weeks ago, and fell in love then, but when you're as up close and personal as I was this past Saturday, boy oh boy, I wished I was 22 years old again! Here's the band, taking their bow.

Ironically, Trombone Shorty and the New Orleans Avenue were the opening band, but clearly it should have been the other way around on Saturday night. I had the chance to speak with the saxophonist (another youngster) after their set, and when I told him that they really needed to sell cd's at their shows, he asked me, "I don't understand why anyone would want to listen to US." My reply was, "Give yourself some credit!" These guys kick ass, and I highly recommend putting them on your wishlists and giving them as the gift of music to all your friends and family members!

Friday, July 18, 2008


I'll admit to the fact that this posting gives away my age, but check it out - Rush is on the Colbert Report!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

moments of perfection

Every once in a while, you get to witness one.

allez sarko!

Cet article me donne impatience d'aller en France en septembre!

"I know there's a view of Sarkozy as a Bonapartist Caligula, consumed with himself, brooking no dissent, petulant to the point of puerility, and governing in such perpetual motion that he will only see the wall he's condemned to hit when it's too late."

Trop classique!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

we're all mad here

I finally started watching Mad Men, the AMC series about an advertising agency on Madison Avenue during the 60s, an era when people smoked anywhere and everywhere, when women were in the workplace only to find a husband, and when it was standard practice to have a decanter of your favorite liquor on your desktop.

This series depicts the very time and setting in which my parents met. My dad was a creative director at McCann-Marshalk and my mom held a secretarial position in the traffic department. My mom seems to think that the show goes a bit overboard with the sexism, though she admits to having been hit on several times. Then again, she was apparently just waiting for the right guy to hit on her.

My own experience having grown up hanging out at Ogilvy and Mather's San Francisco branch (which then became Hal Riney and Partners), and not just hanging out at the office, but going on weekend ski trips with the whole gang and playing interminable tortuous games of charades (try The Gulag Archipelago, for instance... sounds like...?) tells me that in the 70s and 80s 1) it wasn't just the men that were mad, 2) the amount of alcohol consumed on the job depicted in the show is correct, and 3) the tradition of fooling around on the side with co-workers was maintained (but that's not saying much - this was San Francisco after all). The only obvious difference is that women were not only secretaries anymore, they were also account executives, accountants and a few were also copy writers. They also didn't have to get so dressed up for work. I don't hang out much at advertising agencies nowadays, so I can't comment on what the scene is currently like and if there are many female creative directors, or if a glass ceiling in that department still remains to be broken.

My mom commented that back in the day when she worked on Madison Avenue, she didn't feel like she was even at work, per se. It was just so much fun watching these all these crazy people playing pranks and trying to comically outdo each other that she just laughed all the time. Watching Mad Men reminds me of when I was a kid, and I used to observe this same madness unfolding before me, as all these creative superegos battled it out in charades, or verbal sparring matches, to prove to each other (or the women present) about who was the most clever of the bunch. To be very honest, it was entertaining to a certain point, but after a while I thought they all belonged in a nuthouse. Including my dad.

Friday, July 11, 2008

I may never be president, but HE never should have been

This just in from my friend Holly. Do your part!

Big news on the impeachment front again today. Rep. Kucinich again stood up for democracy this afternoon and proposed a single article of impeachment for leading this country to war. And finally, shockingly, not too little too late – Rep. Pelosi has said that the House Judiciary may hold hearings on the Kucinich Impeachment Resolution.

Now is the time to send your personal email to Rep. John Conyers Jr. who heads the Judiciary Committee and to your Representative. Ask them to call for impeachment in the name of democracy and world peace. Let the world see that we are not a war-mongering people, but a peace loving group who wants to get along with our neighbors all over the world. They manipulated the media to unify a call to war and they used the horrible tragedy of 9/11 as their battle call. For years the truth has been out that Iraq had nothing to do with this attack. So please, now is the time to set the record straight. This is not a game of politics. It is not about Democrats versus Republicans. It is about restoring and repairing our democracy.

Every day the current administration is in power, we are looking worse in the international eye – to see for yourself read the latest gaffe: George Bush surprised world leaders with a joke about his poor record on the environment as he left the G8 summit in Japan.

They are creating obstacles to a cleaner environment, they failed us during times of natural disaster, they led us to war and threaten another one with Iran, they are not doing enough to create alternative energies and earning outrageous amounts on the oil and war profiteering companies they are in cahoots with, they are doing everything they can to upset fair and just elections, our health care system needs a huge overhaul, we have been illegally wiretapped (and now our senate gave them a get out of jail free card) and we handed over our civil liberties in fear of our safety. Without civil liberties we have no democracy to be proud of and to fight for.

A change in leadership in November is not enough. This is a much bigger, more important issue of standing up for what should make this country a great place to live in by knowing that we have the oversight in place when crimes have been committed against the American people by an administration. We all need to do our part to make this the country we want to live in.

Please take a moment to write your letters if you care about any of this today:
Rep. John Conyers.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

it's evolution, baby

Or not?

This morning I was struck by a comment by a man named Ravi Something--a bald smiling Hindi professor from Nova Scotia--who was discussing the topic of spiritual oneness. He said that people don't evolve, but consciousness evolves. I am taking the true meaning of this comment to be that one's consciousness evolves and not necessarily the consciousness of a generation, because if it meant that our current generation is more consciously evolved than the great thinkers who came before us, like Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, Rumi, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Simone de Beauvoir, to name a few, we'd be in big trouble. And besides, much of the wisdom these fine minds lent us way back when still dumbfounds us, and we cannot put into practice. For example, Jimmy Carter has been telling us forever about the problem in the Middle East and the ecological disaster we are creating, but have we evolved? [That was meant to be a rhetorical question.]

I've spoken to a couple friends recently about the Kogi people, a pre-Columbian civilization living in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range in Colombia. They are a highly intellectual, sophisticated and analytical culture totally removed from the Western world, and yet, they could arguably be far more evolved than that guy who lives down the street from you driving his Hummer. [And they have no problem telling you why they are superior. Check 'em out.]

My point, then, is that I hope what Ravi means is that individually my own consciousness will evolve, as will yours [whoever you are], and that perhaps this time around, we will reach Nirvana, or we'll go to Heaven, or we'll find ishq, or whatever form of union with the higher power that the Universe will grant us.

Or maybe that's just my American optimism speaking.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


Erin, Jess and I dressed as psycho-superheroes at a party this weekend:



friends forever!

time tries stretching arms
always lovely each moment
awaiting again

Pic by KT.

Haiku by JenKen.

Great weekend (post Euro - ¡Viva España!) in Sacratomato with my college pals Jen and Laura!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

list no 6: new boyfriends

1) Der Schweinsteiger! Jawohl!

2) Kazim (hottie no. 1)

3) Boral (hottie no. 2)

4) Iniesta (ma nouvelle patrie)

5) Titi (désolée, mais dans mon coeur, t'es toujours mon no. 1)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

that daring young woman

I took this pic of a trapeze artist at a Burlesque party I went to a while ago. The party was bad, but she was very cool. I like the movement in this image.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

chinese liner, seeing eye and a can of corn

On Father's Day, I attended the ballgame with my Dear Old Dad. And whereas the Giants didn't win (seems like my teams are out of luck these days), my dad imparted to me some intriguing baseball terminology.

He also reminded me that Popeye's father's name was Poopdeck Pappy.

At this rate, I may pick up a fourth language by the end of baseball season!

I didn't find Chinese liner on the list, so anyone out there want to test your knowledge?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

morning glory

Here's Cloud pausing for a moment a couple mornings ago to take in the perfume of these gorgeous peonies that my friend Stacy gave me.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

american beef apathy, etc.

Tens of thousands of Koreans protested their government's decision to reopen imports of U.S. beef in their country, fearing exposure to mad cow disease.

Why Americans are not up in arms about this issue is a mystery to me. I've written before about how the USDA is pulling the wool over our eyes and allowing downer cows to be put into our food supply.

And yet, Americans simply order more hamburgers.

So yes, Koreans are upset about more issues than just the beef, yet it was the impetus for such a large and effective protest that caused his cabinet to resign, perhaps much in the way that France's decision to do away with co-ed dormitories launched the protests of 1968 in Paris.

And so I wish Americans would would follow the Koreans' lead!

And oh yes, thanks to my pal Kucinich for calling for the impeachment of Bush-Cheney, Inc. yesterday. That's my boy!!! Let's not forget to write our letters to Pelosi!

monday mixed bag

I began my day by watching 30 minutes of an uneventful footie match between France (Allez les bleus!) and Romania at Couleur Cafe. The most exciting part of that experience was sitting with a group of Frenchmen at 9 am, all smoking and drinking coffees and groaning. And then when one of them turned to me and asked, "Qui est-ce la mademoiselle dans la jolie casquette?" All I can say is that nil nil is nul. So I had to seek redemption at lunchtime by sneaking out of the office to watch the second half of the Netherlands v. Italy game. I wasn't the only one in the bar rooting against Italy, and we were all happy to see the Oranj kick some Azzurri booty. Hooray!

At the end of my shift, Young and I spontaneously decided to meet back at Couleur Cafe to share a Dine About Town prix fixe meal of Salade Frisee, Salmon over black japanese rice topped with wilted greens and a roasted red pepper ragout, followed by Crème caramel, all complimented by two glasses of Rosé from the Côtes du Rhône region (thank you very much), which I needed to make myself forget about my wheezing Ferrari that needs to go to the shop for repair, wounded by a rogue wiffle ball.

Friday, June 06, 2008

back to mine

After tasting several of these "organic and sulfite free" California wines, I decided to go back to drinking the Frenchies that I know and love.

Voilà, quoi.

So here's a great article from the IHT about Burgundy wines, biodynamic viticulture post World War II and all the young wine producers from the region.

Très interressant!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

alternative to playing for Cloud

Thursday was such a beautiful day, but I was stuck in a dark and hot editing room all day in Sausalito. I brought my accordion with me because Stephen, the director I've been working with ever since I moved back to the Bay Area a couple years ago, has been dying to hear me play. So I brought the Ferrari with me to work today, only to not have time to share my Piaf with him. So on the way home, I was inspired to make a pit stop in the Headlands and practice with this amazing view of the City before me, instead of playing in my apartment for Cloud. I'm sure she's bored with my four songs by now. The people who stopped by the side of the road to take in the view (not to hear me play) were very gracious regarding all my mistakes, but I hope I provided a special experience for them nonetheless.

I snapped these pics with my phone, so I could share them with you (whoever you are).

Friday, May 30, 2008

get paid to never get out of bed!

You know all those days you dreaded getting out of bed in the morning to go to work? Here's a perfect solution: a job through NASA where you get paid $17,000 to stay in bed for 3 months. I wonder if they'd let me bring my accordion... I've been considering a career change.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

this just stokes the fire

It's stories like this that remind me why I decided to renounce my religion many years ago.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Zach Condon - a voice so creamy i want to eat it for breakfast

The Beirut show last night was a little bittersweet; bitter because the two opening bands sounded like high school band practice, or as one friend put, the Blue Bear School of Music. So let's not dwell on them too long. Because what came next was scrumptious.

When the band I paid to see finally did take the stage, we were dished out a gastronomic feast of sounds from French horn to accordion to violin and to last but not least Zach Condon's sweetly crooning vocals and sharp trumpet. I wanted to close my eyes and jump into the music just like they did in that a-ha music video from back in the day. His voice was equivalent to the European Style Strauss Family yogurt I eat for breakfast every morning. Or it was like a hot steamy aromatherapy bubble bath with rose petals. This bandleader has so much talent for such a young guy (he's 22 years old), and the sound is not your run-of-the-mill garage band, but highly researched Eastern European and Balkan melodies that this kid from Santa Fe somehow pulls off with mysterious panache. I'm probably not the first to compare Condon's voice and songwriting ability to that of Morrissey, Ian Curtis or Rufus Wainwright, but he is a name to remember because I hope what we experienced last night is just a sign of more yummy things to come.

We brought them back on stage for two encores, when they performed one of my favorite tunes, Postcards from Italy, a few other sumptuous morsels before the show was over.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


I am sooooo looking forward to seeing/hearing/experiencing Beirut play in concert on Tuesday at the Grand Ballroom at the Regency Center!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

massage avec kitteh

On Monday I had one of the most interesting massage experiences ever (no, not that kind). I saw Susie for a Jin Shin Jyutsu treatment at Wise Touch in Bernal Heights.

About mid-way through the session, Susie's cat Toonces jumped onto the table and nuzzled herself between my feet, purring happily through the remainder of my massage. Jin Shin is an energy-based treatment (versus simply working the body tissue), and I must admit that the low vibrations of the purring at my feet added to my relaxation and overall enjoyment of the experience.

I highly recommend requesting kitteh accompaniment during your next massage appointment!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

meat is murder

When I was a teenager, I was so influenced by Morrissey and The Smiths that I went strictly vegetarian for a while. I totally cried when I saw them perform that song in concert and made my entire family frustrated with me for as long they allowed me to impose my lifestyle choices upon them.

Nowadays, I am a pescatarian and an occasional chicken eater. If I do eat any animal, I am adamant about knowing its source. They must be humanely treated and harvested. Otherwise we are supporting a sick system of animal cruelty.

Today I am reminded of the famous song and album by The Smiths as I'm editing a story about downer cows at a slaughterhouse in Chino, California. The Humane Society distributed a video about the treatment of sick cows at this facility, which is sadly indicative of many other facilities across our nation. Here's your chance to watch the video and read the story. I promise you that you'll never be able to digest a hamburger the same way again (unless it's grass-fed, free-range and organic). And even then, it'll be hard to swallow.

Here's an update from CNN today. I told the producer that this piece I'm editing is starting to make me feel nauseous, and his reply was that after awhile I should become desensitized to it. God, I hope I never become desensitized to cruelty.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

the sound of sirens

Last Friday I was cruising through the Lower Haight when I was overtaken by this marching band. They belong to a group called Dark Meat from Athens, Georgia and were in town for a show that I sadly missed!

I love having "only in San Francisco" moments like these. They remind me that I live in a place with an unparalleled tradition of creativity. It seems that the City also inspires this kind of spontaneity in its visitors.

Monday, May 12, 2008

art in nature

For Mother's Day this year, my mom was volunteering at Audubon Canyon Ranch and asked me to join her out there for a picnic. It's been several years since I have visited this nesting sanctuary for egrets and herons, and we were blessed with beautiful weather and the chance to see the birds protecting their eggs and chicks in their nests.

At the end of the day, we noticed this artist dressed to kill, complete with top hat, painting a pastoral scene in the prairie:

which naturally inspired me to express myself out there too:

There's really something about the way the accordion sounds when you play outdoors, the harmonics resonating and blending with the wind.

Friday, May 09, 2008

like father, like son

When we were in junior high and high school, my friend Anne and I used to scour the Marin City flea market for retro-wear. Those were our mod days. We always shopped at a stall run by Stewart. He always had the hottest dresses.

Stewart still has a stall at the Alameda flea market, where I visited with Anne last weekend. I take it that this boy is Stewart's son, patiently reading his novel as his father worked the market, dressed as if his father influenced his ensemble.

This image gave me that feeling of days gone by.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

it's been that kind of week

First it was NPR, now I make the New York Times.

(This is not me in the photo, as you probably guessed.)

Friday, May 02, 2008

i'm on the california report

I was interviewed at the Plough and Stars about Irish music recently when I went there with my mom and JC. Thank God I managed to sound coherent.

Check out the May 2nd segment on Irish Music and please take special notice of the proper pronunciation of my last name.

The California Report

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

accordion inspiration

Growing up, my neighbors down the street were the Aguerres. Tony is French Basque, Jeanine grew up in Santa Rosa and their daughter Monique was my best friend. Because as a child, you often want to be like your friends, have what your friends have, etc., I wanted to be French. I asked my mom to buy me books in French and as a 5 year-old, I was already learning the names for body parts, foods, clothing and animals (mind you at the time, my pronunciation was way off).

Years later, after studying at home and abroad, I was fluent, and now when I go to the Aguerres, Tony always speaks to me en français. Yesterday I had lunch with the Aguerres and promised to bring along my accordion so I could play them my Piaf tunes. I gave them a mini-concert in their sun room. As Tony was leaving to go back to work, and I was plucking away at the keys and buttons, he stopped and said to me, "J'adore l'accordéon."

"Moi aussi," I replied.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

crazy in love (or more on needing the eggs)

Just watched The Cranes Are Flying for the first time last night (finally). It's a brilliant film about the challenges of enduring love during the reality of war. The father of Veronica, the girl in love, says this about love to his wife when their daughter returns home in the wee hours of the morning:

MOTHER: She's crazy about him!

FATHER: And he about her.

That's what love is, my dear: A harmless mental illness.

A mental illness, perhaps, but certainly NOT harlmess, in my opinion.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

art i wanna see

For lack of a more clever way to put it, I want to see Vapor at Southern Exposure, and this weekend I'm finally going to see Annie Liebovitz at the Legion of Honor. In addition, Spring Open Studios is upon us, and this year I've been invited to check out the art in Benecia.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

when your lover loves another

Cloud has taken to sleeping on the couch with Jessica. I don't quite know how I feel about that.