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.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

political protest - 21st century style?

After protesting and marching in the streets and attending all kinds of demonstrations in my subversive life, I'm a bit jaded at times regarding the effectiveness of traditional methods of political protest. What forms of dissent can we still practice that will actually influence political decision-makers and not stifle governments into passive aggressiveness or, worse, retaliation and backlash? I just read this article on the concept of boycotting the Olympic opening ceremonies, and so, I'm asking the question, if we stand for protecting human rights, and we know that a country is not practicing them, but we also support amateur athletes and the spirit of global solidarity through athleticism, what can we do, can governments do, can athletes do to send a message to the Chinese government (and the IOC) that they will listen to about their treatment of the Tibetan people and their support of a genocide in Darfur, without dishonoring the athletes who are going for the gold?

On that note, here is another article asking that very question: The story of Jin Jing, the Olympic athlete in a wheelchair, protecting the torch from street protesters in Paris. I totally understand that we shouldn't be tarnishing China's opportunity to host the Olympics and the athletes' enjoyment in participating in them. But is it better to turn a blind eye to human rights violations? It's all so confusing, and frankly, I don't have the answers (because after all the letters I send to Pelosi about our own atrocious government, all I get are form letter responses).

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

california wines follow-up

Parducci is the greenest winery in the U.S. And although they don't particularly say that the grapes are organic, they do say that the grapes are from local, family owned farmers, and that they are grown without synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Voilà quoi.

I drank a bottle of their $10 Pinot Noir with JC (not Jesus Christ) the other night. I'm not a big Pinot Noir fan. The jury is still out on Parducci until I try some other varietals.

Isn't there a Californian winery that would make a nice biodynamic Côtes du Rhone in the $10 per bottle range for me?

N.B.: The $8 biodynamic Roussette de Savoie by F. Giachino that I bought from Vintage Berkeley was, par contre, quite tasty, especially served chilled on the hot sunny afternoon we were lucky to have on Saturday.

just send it to your rep!

Dear Rep. Conyers,

On Friday, George Bush told ABC News he personally approved of the approval of torture - including waterboarding - by Dick Cheney, Condoleeza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell and George Tenet.

"Yes, I'm aware our national security team met on this issue. And I approved."

In the wake of this shocking and appalling confession, we've come to a historic moment where every American - and every Member of Congress - must take a stand.

Either you're for torture or you're against it. And if you're against it, you must support the only Constitutional remedy for a President and Vice President who commit war crimes: impeachment.

As the chairman of the US House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, I appeal to you to do the right thing by this country and begin the impeachment hearings against VP Cheney and Pres. Bush.

Thank you,
[your name here]

Sunday, April 13, 2008

like mother like daughter

I attended the memorial service today for Mimi, the mother of my best friend Anne from junior high. Anne and I were inseparable during that time in our lives, and we also happily and willingly threw ourselves into some sketchy situations for the sake of having new experience. I always thought it was Anne's influence on me. It was with her that I went on my first date, smoked my first cigarette, got my first alcohol-induced buzz, shoplifted, took her mom's car for a joy ride, got into fist fights with other kids at school. We couldn't get our fill of doing "wrong." We quickly went from being angels to devils in the eyes of the nuns who taught us, and we became better friends for it.

During the memorial this evening, I listened to Mimi's younger brothers and friends describe her personality and influence on their lives. Clearly she was loved by many. But what was surprising is that these friends and family members often listed some of the same "firsts" they had with Mimi as I had with Anne. It was then that I realized that it was Mimi who influenced us, not just Anne influencing me. It was Mimi who showed us how to be bold, daring, adventurous, gutsy and have an insatiable lust for life.

With the amount of time I spent at Mimi's house with Anne, a time when we were both learning what it meant to be women, I learned as much from Mimi as I did from my own mother about what it was like to be a single woman making it on her own, and doing with grace, elegance, class and impeccable style. I didn't realize it until today that it is partly thanks to Mimi that I willingly take risks in life, accept adventure, live daringly and laugh in the face of fear. And so, I am grateful to have known her and to have received the gift of her influence on my life.

Monday, April 07, 2008

old instruments|new sound

Saturday night JC and I rode all velo vogued out to the Great American Music Hall to see our favorite local band Rupa and the April Fishes perform (yes, again) for their April Fool's (Poisson d'Avril) show. I was psyched to watch Isabel, my new accordion teacher play, since I only get to play for her, which probably is not always so enjoyable. Here she is, looking gorgeous:

She sounded as good as she looked!

The big surprise of the evening was hearing the second opening act, Iron and the Albatross, a kind of carnavalesque, silent movie score-ish, experimental chamber music. I had to call Jessica to share the music with her through my cell phone. I was mesmerized watching this beautiful blonde siren belt out haunting tunes while tapping out melodies like a music box on what appeared to be a miniature baby grand piano. And the viola! Ah, the viola! [Sigh!] I managed to snap this photo from my cell phone, but these photos do no justice to hearing their music that was so moving. The only place I've found them is through some strange website that doesn't seem to be so current, so if anyone out there in cyber-world knows how to get in touch with this group, I want to be on their mailing list, buy their cd's and become their biggest fan (like Mel on Flight of the Conchords... well maybe not, on second thought). And so, here is that blonde siren:

Need I say that JC, Young and I had a GREAT time at the Great American on Saturday? Dancing to the April Fishes kind of makes you feel like you're at a Jewish wedding, only better, more sensual, more latin, more gypsy, more French. Those who know me know how I get on the dance floor, and so Saturday night was no exception. I took the express train to never-neverland and didn't come back until the band stopped playing, and even then the endorphins (not the vodka cranberries) made me high until the next morning. After the show, an older couple made a point of finding me and informed me that they had been watching me dance all night long from the balcony, and they were very impressed with my skills. Kinda spooky, yet kinda cool too. Thank God I didn't jump up on stage (wanted to though... yikes)!

Friday, April 04, 2008

why care about the milkshake?

A quote from a blog posting by Errol Morris in the NYT about using re-enactments in documentary filmmaking, in particular his film The Thin Blue Line, the first Errol Morris film I saw in a theater, with my dad, when it was released in 1988:

Why care about the milkshake? Why does the milkshake matter? Because we assemble our picture of reality from details. We don’t take in reality whole. Our ideas about reality come from bits and pieces of experience. We try to assemble them into something that has a consistent narrative.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


Dear Kristin:

Thank you for contacting me to express your concerns regarding the actions of the current Administration. I agree that the Administration must be held accountable, and I am working with the Congress to do so.


The Democratic majority in Congress is working to take the country in a New Direction - change the failed policy in Iraq, make America safer and more secure, raise the minimum wage, promote energy independence, address global warming, make college more affordable, respond to the health care crisis and make government more accountable.

We are continuing to fight for change every day on these and other issues to improve the lives of all Americans. There is no more important task before us than to bring our troops home safely and soon, and we will continue to work to do so. However, I believe impeachment proceedings against the President or the Vice President will not contribute to attaining that goal.

Congressional Oversight

The Constitution gives the Congress a crucial role in overseeing the Executive Branch in order to protect the American people against overreaching, incompetence, and corruption.

For the last six years, under Republican leadership, Congress failed to conduct its proper oversight role and did not take action to address the extent of the mismanagement of our Iraq policy, widespread corruption by contractors in Iraq, and the failed response to Hurricane Katrina.

The House is committed to conducting vigorous oversight, and have already passed legislation to clean up government contracting abuses and 'no bid' contracts that companies like Halliburton and KBR have made infamous, protect the public's right to know by strengthening The Freedom of Information Act, and restore "checks and balances" by investigating the military health care crisis, Iraq and Hurricane Katrina reconstruction failures, and the firing of U.S. Attorneys. Since the beginning of the 110th Congress, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has conducted more than 65 oversight hearings to look into allegations of fraud, waste and government corruption throughout the Bush Administration, and to demand changes in policies promoted by special interests and corrupt officials.

In the 110th Congress, Democrats in the House and Senate will continue to hold the Bush administration accountable for its actions. Please be assured that upholding Congress' constitutional responsibility to oversee the activities of the Executive Branch will continue to be among my highest priorities.

For more information on this and other issues affecting our country, I invite you to visit my website at Thank you again for taking the time to express your views on this important subject. I hope you will continue to communicate with me on matters of concern to you.


Nancy Pelosi
Member of Congress

list no. 5: I Love LA

I lived in LA for 2 and a half years. If there weren't things I loved about LA, I wouldn't have stayed there as long as I did. So here's the list:

2) Summer concerts at the Hollywood Bowl
3) The Sunday Farmer's Market on Main Street in Santa Monica
4) Afro-Brazilian dance class at the Electric Lodge in Venice
5) The Getty Center

There are a few other things, but those are the top five. Of course, it goes without saying that the best thing LA has to offer me are my FRIENDS who live there!

AND, on that note, for every one thing I love about LA, there are about 100 things I love about SF! It's like I'm in love with the City. I'll never tire of witnessing the Golden Gate Bridge every time I exit the tunnel on the Marin side when I'm heading back into SF. When I'm coming home from work at night, each time I see the glowing red towers, it feels like my boyfriend waiting up for me with a glass of wine, a fire in the fireplace and my slippers ready by my favorite chair. I want to kiss it.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

i'm going back to Cali!

Most consumer decisions I make usually are loaded with a generous dollop of guilt - how sustainable is the product? Is it organic? Was it shipped here using petroleum? Was it manufactured in sweatshop conditions? Does it contain partially hydrogenated whatever? I have been increasingly guilty about my penchant for French wines. I love my Côtes du Rhônes and I trust the French agricultural tradition of no GMO's and traditional harvesting methods, less use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, etc. But with Napa and Sonoma situated in SF's backyard, I have become increasingly guilty every time I plop a bottle from France or Spain in my shopping cart. It seems silly after all. But even with this green craze we're experiencing, few wineries advertise themselves as organic. I found out recently that many California wines are organic, but because it's so costly to get the official seal of organic certification, the wineries just don't bother, which leaves the consumer to do his/her own research on the issue.

A coworker who used to be a wine seller showed me this blog posting on Green LA Girl's site, which lists a bunch of the organic and biodynamic California wines, their price ranges and what she thought of them. I think it's a helpful guide and it will relieve the guilt from my Trader Joe's runs, and add some excitement to my search for new local favorites!

island nap

She was taking a nap in the middle of the Dolores Street island yesterday morning. When I snapped this pic, she woke up and wished me a "wonderful day." I wish the same to all who read this!