Saturday, January 31, 2009

weekend cat throw-down/ann's weekend breakfast

there was tension in the air this morning, a palpable unrest. toys were met w/mute reproach. nothing could prevent the inevitable: cat throw-down. the beach towels hanging from the door are there on purpose. merce(our tail-less beauty)doesn't jump but climbs up onto the door paw over paw, ears pinned back. the kitten(our tux beauty)seems a little dazed in the pic but, i assure you, is ready to rumble.

habanero/goat cheese omelet w/garlic texas cheese toast

this girl can flat-out eat!

Friday, January 30, 2009

ann's dinner 1/30

i don't know if anyone saw it or if this pic is clear enough but this was a devil moon tonight...the horned moon setting out over our island & the left coast.

warren leruth's oyster & artichoke potage w/wasabi cream

winter greens salad(escarole & chicory)w/shaved fennel & toasted walnuts w/shaved parmagiano/reggiano & strega nona dressing


this is from chuck todd's website:

"The GOP averted a P.R. disaster after the race came down to Steele and Dawson. It was a pretty obvious choice: Pick the African American or the guy who had to quit an all-white country club. Had Dawson not had that negative mark on his resume, he would have won because he was a party insider. "

the gop is reeling around w/o any true leader in sight which is a good & a bad thing. w/o a true leader(like reagan), the gop spasmotically attacks any & all democratic initiatives(re: yesterday's vote on the stimulus package). this can actually be more problematic for the obama agenda than having someone specifically to work against. i mean, the whore-monger david vinter is leading the charge here. it's not so much these guys' hypocrisy as it is them being wrenches in the wheels of a necessary economic recovery. they actually have platforms to address constituents. if you've sat in a bar lately, you know that "constituents" aren't really on the ball. they listen to rush, to o'reilly, to david vinter. you think it was smooth sailing for fdr in the first hundred days? go back & check, HOOVER wasn't as bad as some of these fools. we just don't remember the guys who stood in the way as american heroes. in fact, we don't remember them at all.

the good thing about all this is that it's clear that not one of these guys from the gop have ANY idea why they're on the outside looking in(& neither do rush or o'reilly). amazing. picking a token black man isn't going to help these guys wise up. moving to the right isn't going to help either. don't worry when they do. pray for palin & just hope they don't have the chops to stall what has to be done.

the ones that got away

this is a baker's dozen list of groups from the past that none of us wise-guys listened to or knew about. i had asked michael a while back about albums that were fundamentally meaningful to him in high school. he & ken & i made our lists which he posted on his site. ken was a year older than mike who's a year older than me. that created an interesting variety, esp when we found out that a lot of what we wanted on our lists didn't fall into the time-frame of high school. what struck me when i was thinking about the lists is how pedestrian they are. 99% of those listed had top10 albums or songs during that period. at the time, i'd also proposed coming up w/a list of music that was now considered "historical" or "epochal" or whatever that we either rejected back then(lynard skynard) or had no clue about(the misunderstood). those lists never got made. here's mine. i'll spend some time w/each one & post my thoughts about them here. it'll keep me off the streets.

the stooges
moby grape
ny dolls
velvet undergroud
roky erikson

lynard skynard
syd barrett's pink floyd
the misunderstood

the jayhawks
uncle tupelo
the connells
squirrel bait



just thought i'd give a shout out to my buddy, mark page in new orleans. the restaurant he cooks for got a four star review by tom fitzmorris. he seemed to really enjoy 7 on fulton(he'd already given them another good review earlier this month). tho i don't always agree w/fitzmorris, he doesn't give four star reviews out indiscriminately. if anyone's heading to the big easy soon, check the place out.

mark & i go way back. i can still remember him walking into the outrigger looking for a job(he got it). we'd lost touch over the years but through sheer luck i found him again when i was back there last summer.

as jimmy buffett sang, "the stories we could tell." we'd have to change some names to protect the innocent. our names would remain. he & i haven't been real innocent since the days we were born.

congrats, mark. hope you get a big bonus.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

my little town

this is on the side of a liquor store on webster st. webster st is a main drag(that's where the tunnel comes out or goes in)but it's a shoddy little strip that they desparately want to make commercially viable. i don't think that'll happen in my lifetime.

there is no escape from the eyes of the lord. i think michael had some pics taken back in florida of what has to be one of my fondest childhood memories: various highway signs predicting the end & eternal damnation & salvation, etc. "scripture on grocery store signs" is how jason isbell formerly of the drive-by truckers puts it. little did i know my little town rested under the watchful eyes of the lord.

an abandoned honky tonk. it's now someone's house. the island is strewn w/bars that advertise "open at 6am." heartwarming.

this is out where the ferry for the city leaves. it's a great place to sit & watch the tide roll away. otis was in petaluma when he wrote that song. i'm out here on an abandoned naval base.

pensacola beach, rip

pensacola Beach Public Core Development Proposal by
Chris Shearman, Alcon Associates, Inc.

This proposal was presented to the Santa Rosa Island Authority Board at their June 24 Committee Meeting.
Parking Deck No. 1, Quietwater Beach: New parking deck with ground level and three elevated parking decks parking for 600 additional cars and trucks.

Parking Deck No. 2, Sound View Building and Flounders:Additional parking deck with ground level and three elevated parking levels with parking for 200 additional cars and trucks. Constructed after the Sound View Building.

Parking Deck No. 3, Casino Parking Garage, Phase 1:New parking deck constructed over the existing lot with two new levels. Approximately 1200 new parking spaces.

Sound View Building No. 4: Four story new building with 18,000 square feet per floor housing the Circle K on the first floor along with other retail space, second floor housing the Santa Rosa Island Authority and the Visitors Center. The remaining two floor sold to developers as mixed use.

Casino Building No. 5: New Casino building built by others to house mixed use restaurants, shops, and meeting rooms. 120,000 square feet of space with 20,000 public space.

Hotel Site No. 6: SRIA current site sold for 140 room hotel.

North Casino Parking Deck No. 7: New parking deck added in 2012 for approximately 400 cars and trucks.

Covered Elevated Access to Parking Deck No. 8

Core Area Development Conceptual Drawing as Proposed by Chris Shearman June 24, 2008

i haven't followed sria politics in a long time. once the county commissioners took away their power in the mid-90s, there really wasn't much to follow. since i was just there on the island last year, i can say that what was once quite a special place isn't any more & all of the above is just one more nail in the coffin. it didn't take a hurricane to do it either.

i always took it as portentous that the summer after bobo died, p'beach got hit w/not one but two hurricanes(each coming from the opposite direction). the island hadn't been hit for over 70 years at the time. bobo was dead & i was living in virginia(the first summer i'd lived out of the state in my life).

that island almost killed me. it's the only reason i can think of to go to pensacola but it nearly killed me. i take no pleasure in what's happening to it. i'm conflicted. can you tell?

ann's dinner 1/29

hand cut homemade tajarin noodles w/light pocini cream & shitakes & arugula.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

happy b'day jackson

i remember arguing w/jerry houston(rip)down at new college about pollock. "o please," he sneered, "no one's going to know who that paint slinger is in 50 years! it's gonna be andy all the way, baby." i thought this was absurd. warhol? he didn't even paint anymore. i knew this couldn't be right.

we haven't made 50 years yet but nearly 35 years after our friendly argument, i'm feeling on the losing end here. i could argue that we were both right & i think that's true. but warhol has dominated art history discourse for the last 20 years the way pollock did in the 60s & early 70s. as we went sailing into the new millenium, pollock & warhol were the standards of the last half of the 20th century(much like picasso & duchamp were in the first half).

pollock's contribution to the way we see the world(& art)is well documented. imagine totally re-aligning the visual field, shifting perspective from the verticle(wall)to the horizonal(floor). the legs are knocked out from under the viewer. however, instead of compromising p.o.v. pollock gave the viewer a ringside seat at god's table, the visual field now seen from above & gushing forth from his dripping stick, sprayed & flung indiscriminately onto the white(white, WHITE!!, get it?) canvas below. how macho is that?

of course, andy did change all this. the myth of the macho creator artist took a hit back in that late 70s. warhol's use of reproduction, technology, industrial process all helped bring the "creation" myth down. in the new millenium, classical aesthetics(say, collingwood)are out the door & jessica simpson is being referred to as an artist. good friends(he knows who he is)are ensconced in the new rejection of the old "affective" fallacy: it's all "i like what i like & i don't care about history or anything else because i don't have to justify what i like." i suppose this would be ok if these folks had no dislikes.

pollock would have been 96yo today(andy would be 81yo on aug6th this year). i'm amazed. things seem to be going by a little faster than i anticipated(for example, jerry is already dead). i'm thinking that things that matter should start REALLY mattering at this point. that i'm still thinking about both of these artists, that i feel like they reoriented our way of looking at the world(& art), that each in different ways made living in the world challenging & fulfilling are just the gifts they gave to us w/o being asked. back during the day, the knock on pollock was "my kid could do that." you can't say that about warhol's art. all the various technological processes renders that waggish point idiotic. of course, lack of knowledge(historical, technological, aesthetic)has never slowed down anyone's opinion about art: " hey, my kid could think that."

yep. you are so right.


do the japanese know all about it or what? ann would die to live in a country that would even think about doing something like this. i'm thinking i would too.

follow all the links for cat amazing moments of indescribable cat wonderfulness.

dig yourself

this guy made me uncomfortable during the tribute to leonard cohen. in the interview, he had some good things to say but his performance simply sucked. there seemed to be a disconnect between the guy who articulated his feeling about cohen's work & the guy who performed that work. as beautiful as "suzanne" is, it can be a grind to listen to & cave's version reduces it to dirge & nothing more. & the spastic body tics makes it look like he knows what's happening & either wants off the stage or for the band to kick into a heavy metal thrash version. all in all, it's pretty awful.

but this video redeemed the guy for me. i got over the lou reed thing pretty quick & just enjoyed the whole experience: the song, the video, & his performance. maybe i'm getting soft in my old age but i don't hold anyone's debts against them. cave owes a lot but i think the video pays off.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

john updike 1932-2009

"we do survive every moment, after all, except the last one."

i think "the centaur" is his best book, tho the rabbit novels are close behind. mainly, he was a "public intellectual," a creature that's nearly extinct at this point in time. his writing on kierkegaard(a soul mate of his)is deeply felt & profoundly edifying. i never agreed w/his art criticism or his religion but this guy knew how to think. at his best, even if you disagreed, he was engaging & challenging & provocative. three pretty good traits as a thinker & when he brought them to bear in his fiction, there are only a few who can match him. beautiful, subtle, & clever prose. the breadth of his interests was humbling & his engagements w/them always illuminating.

there's a scene in "rabbit, run" where the eponymous character, an ex-jock who's spent most of the novel messing his messy life up even more, is out golfing w/a friend. he's trying to explain in his odd way what he's "really after" in life & failing to do so, turns & hits his ball in a perfect arc onto the green, "that's it," he screams exhultantly, "that's it!"

indeed. that is it.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


when we caught hervey & donnie & jay stealing from the outrigger, confronted them w/the evidence, & they lied about it, well, that ended any PRETENSE of friendship that existed. at the time, were we all bestest of best friends & all that? no. they worked for us, we signed their paychecks, & we told them what to do at work. in a sense, i suppose, we were "the man" to these shits & stealing from us was cool. i don't particularly buy this, esp since they were also emptying MY pants pockets whenever they could for extra cash. the real clincher here was their bare-faced denials when confronted w/incontrovertible truth. stealing & then lying about it. it's a fundamental violation of ethics. what more can you say?

i've admired tony larussa for a while now. he's done great jobs doing what he's paid lots of money to do in various venues. he's managed teams & made me a fan of those teams because he's a "thinking mans" baseball manager. i don't have really strong feelings about the guy. he does contribute his time & name & money to a great animal cause in the bay area &, just for that, he's high on my list of people i don't know & never will know who have no impact on my life & never will. i try not to get really worked up about those kinds of people. through experience i've learned that these folks aren't who or what we've oddly made ourselves feel fervently they are. i'm not surprized when i read about another nut who tries to slash a hollywood star or who kills themselves in the star's empty hollywood mansion. in a better world, i'd be surprized.

anyway, back to tony.

tony managed the liar & cheat mark mcgwire back in the heady days of baseball's return to fan favor, the glorious steroid-fueled season-long home run derby between mac & sammy sosa. the deal about big mac(& sosa)is that at that time in baseball the drugs(supplements, for those who want to keep the wool over their eyes)they were taking weren't illegal. in fact, the whole thing really blew up when a sports reporter noticed an over the counter bottle of stimulants(a brand that i used to buy at gnc)sitting in mac's locker in plain sight during an interview. i agree w/michael here: it's all about accountability & these player's commitment to the integrity of the game. illegal or not, the drugs were cheating in all the senses of that word.

larussa has come to big mac's defense but in a way, he's actually coming to his own defense too. as michael pointed out, owners & the commish should be taking some heat for this ignominious era. i think the managers should too. that includes my man joe torre who was managing clemens & pettite during their usage. don't kid yourself & believe the managers weren't aware of what was going on. it was in no way in their best interests to press the issue.

now, do i think big mac should be in the hall of fame? hell no. clemens & bonds & sosa & what's his name shouldn't be either. have i agonized over that position? hell no. they cheated. they lied. mantle was a drunk, you say? ruth had illegitimate kids? what's your point? if mantle could still produce while doing everything he could to REDUCE that production, it's just sad. having children, in wedlock or not, has no impact on the game at all. period. ruth owned up to the kids & mantle owned up to his alcoholism & neither lied about either one. when the whip comes down, no one expects humans to be perfect. as humans ourselves, we do make allowances. when haller told me, "i'm ashamed to admit it but yeah i took money out of your pants," that was that. i forgave her right then & there.

let me put it this way: i remember an old timer in a.a. always saying that alcoholics were liars & thieves. invariably, in meetings after he'd made that assertion, someone would stand up & dispute it. "i'm no thief," was their predictable response. "o really?," the old timer would say, " did you ever tell folks you wouldn't drink again & then you did? did you ever tell someone you were stopping for them?" lots of hemming & hawing would follow. "if you lied, you stole. you stole anyone's time who had to listen to your lies & time is pretty damn precious," was how he ended that particular conversation. bonds & clemens & mac & sosa & etc basically stole from the fans & then lied about it when they got caught. it's a fundamental violation of ethics. what more can i say?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

rainy day weekends

potroast reminds me of bobo. i made it lots of times at the outrigger & he never understood that it takes four hours to cook. "when's that meat gonna be ready," he'd pester me, knowing that i hate being bothered when i cook.

four straight days of rain & grey clouds here in the bay area. typical winter weather during an atypical winter. the parmesan rolls were play time for me, a way to amuse myself when the cats were curled up sleeping. they were mighty tasty too.


big butts are in. i keep telling ann this but she seems to think it's my poor attempt to make her feel better about her body image issues. for the record, she doesn't have a big butt. at least, not the kind i'm talking about. beyonce would be the reigning queen of that kind of big butt. is it fine? o yes! you'd be blind if you couldn't see that.

when i think back on things, it seems that butts were big all along. most of our pre-college gfs were not largely endowed breast-wise(there are one or two exceptions, it seems to me). but they already had those large curvy butts(ann marie, holly & marie are great examples). they got even better when they went off to college. but fashions come & go. it's hard for a man to imagine having a body that's out of fashion, nowhere to be seen in vogue or seventeen or elle. it seems that male projection fantasties are more inclusive & identification-based. just check out raider fans. these guys ARE howie long or bill romanowski etc etc. there's no ego deflation in the face of superior physiques, just a ramped up co-optation.

women process this stuff differently, it seems. those impossibly thin models slinking down the runways somehow prevent identification(an unconscious sense of the impossibility, perhaps?). & yet, they can't be dismissed & become objects of unattainable desire. the difference between a raider fan & his object of desire is no less impossible to bridge & yet, it's done.

there must be some sense that these models are NOT superior physiques. this must create a real psychic dichotomy, a true conflict between the real & the imagined. the real must always be repressed(for economic reasons, the imaginary is more free-flowing)but still makes itself felt or known in various ways(symptoms, commercials). i imagine the return of this repressed has a lot to do w/various cultural, psychological, individual breakdowns. beyonce's big womanly butt is a radical slap down of those ultra-thin prancing wraiths. what is really real asserts itself & re-sets the imaginary.

not only are big butts in but small boobs are too.

here the economic is foregrounded but i'd like to think it'll help psychologically too.

de gustibus non est disputandum

there's a scene in hal hartley's "henry fool" where the mentor & the student have a crucial moment of disagreement. the student's poem has been accepted for publication while the mentor's "testament" has been rejected by the same publisher. to add insult to injury, the student confesses to disliking his mentor's magnum opus:

"If I told you when I read it, it was
no good, what would've you done?

-I would've respected your opinion.
-There's no accounting for taste.
Well, is there?

Is that
a measure of a man's worth?

To drag what's best in him out into
the street so that every average...

slob with some pretense to taste
can poke it with a stick?

Maybe. Maybe it is."

artists take big risks but, in the end, that's not the point. neither is the simplistic, "i don't like it" from the audience. none of this advances the understanding of the art. period.

what art needs, what it deserves, is more thoughtful reflection, not more opinions. anyone can have an opinion & claim legitimacy by simply saying, "i don't like it." but they're just farting in the wind. & walling yourself behind some vague "aesthetic" position like "linear narrative" w/o considering its inadequacy as a critical tool is just as worthless. dragging around a pre-set aesthetic prevents the receptive immediacy that art requires & inhibits reflection. as human beings we're already burdened w/enough bias, most of it unconscious. nowadays, people don't even pretend to have a "pretense of taste" before they offer up their immutable opinions. henry would have more to complain about. i'd have to agree w/him.

forget 100 days

the pressure the new president is under must be extraordinary. jonathan alter's excellent book, "the defining moment", documents fdr's first 100 days in office. news services are evaluating obama's first 100 HOURS! so much for patience.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

one more wyeth

so it goes...

NYT: Caroline Kennedy to withdraw Senate bid
Gov. David Paterson has said he is considering AG Andrew Cuomo for seat

i guess this answers my questions. this certainly brings us back to earth. it was nice while it lasted. i will say cuomo isn't the worst person for the job.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

"you'll know how it was meant to be..."

i don't know about you but if i have to dance out there on the edge, i want to do it w/natalie.

this has been a glorious day.

be amazed for america & let that amazement grow & bloom.


"i met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter'd visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock'd them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away."

it always seems to me that the bay area moves quicker than history. hopefully, it will be as accurate. or at least as damning.

g'bye mr bush & mr cheney.

our game to win, our game to lose

w/the mournful harmonica & the minor chords, this song doesn't sound so celebratory but it is in a circumspect kind of way. any celebration today has to be a little cautious, a little wary. but that doesn't preclude joy nor muffle the music.

why i didn't drink champagne this morning

my old man was a yellow dog democrat. while that nomenclature didn't make it into his obit, it was applied in the news story marking his death. what's a "yellow dog democrat," you might be asking yourself? "he'd vote for a yellow dog before he'd vote for a republican"(i still say, FUCK YES!!!) is the answer. that's how i was raised.

i remember the morning after kennedy won, bobo driving some odd political "ice cream truck"-like bus through the streets of p'cola & me, all of five years old screaming into the microphone: "move over mamie, jackie's moving in." mamie eisenhower was the sitting first lady. she would be moving out. something extraordinary, i was told as a five year old, would be moving in. we know how that ended.

other than my brother chip getting wounded in vietnam, nothing was more wrenching for the jones family than watching the '68 democratic convention on tv. the turnaround from '64 was quick & drastic & the torque split the country in half. that new civil war, the one that divided families, friends, & political parties has been w/us right up until the country came to its senses & elected barack obama in 2008. it's been used & manipulated by cynics to put their guys in place but it's spun the country into an odd inertia. the world has been settling into its new circumstances in the 21st century. over the last 8years, america has been kicking & screaming as it's been drug there too.

prior to this election, we've been teased several times w/reconciliation, w/democratic candidates that seemed to embody everything the nation needed to heal itself(tho i'll take this moment to point out that NO republican candidate has EVER been perceived as true agents of change((except in retrospect)). they have always embodied a certain set of ideological principals that were more divisive than healing).

we've had the historians tell us why & how carter failed. we're still hearing about bubba's failures(unlike kennedy, clinton didn't have the excuse of drug induced priapism nor was he similarly endowed---mid-century doctors believed the larger the organ, the greater the need). i remember feeling when both of them were elected that "change had come to america" & each & every time being schooled in how to fail in washington. carter was so naive he thought the presidency could just do what it wanted & promised(based on solid democratic principals), staffed w/washington outsiders who weren't acquainted w/washington protocol(& who insulted everyone & anyone along the way because they knew what was right). clinton, one of our sharpest presidential intellects, lost his political instincts in dc(getting a bj isn't what i'm talking about here. what democratic or republican representive hasn't gotten one of those?). i suppose arrogance doomed the clintons. & yeah, they were BOTH guilty of it.

neither of these guys, w/all their shakespearian flaws, were faced w/what obama is looking at today. in fact, none of our presidents since roosevelt have been faced w/what obama's looking at today.

seeing the infantile failed bush presidency ushered out today would have been a reason to raise a glass, a glass of the best, but knowing where we are & what's got to be done makes that impulse feel weak & delusional.

inaugurating 44

this will not be easy.

"The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it-and the glow from that fire can truly light the world."

Monday, January 19, 2009

the good, the bad, & the ugly

it's kind of silly pointing out irony in the political world. irony is the dark matter that holds that particular universe together. but since this is a big political week, i want to say one thing about caroline kennedy, the woman who emerged from her private cocoon of wealth & privilege, moved by obama's call for individual commitment, particularly since it echoed her dead father's own call to the nation so many years ago.

i'm curious why all the critics haven't focused on what's basically a reverse image of this scenario: the despicable trent lott resigning from the senate EARLY so he could take a high paying "lobbyist" job in the private sector. lott quit the senate a year early to avoid a new law that would have prevented him from lobbying congress for five or so years.

i find the critics who are tearing into someone who's willing to leave a quiet life of luxury & open their private lives to public inquiry & scorn, while ignoring a very public life of luxury retiring to the privacy of
even more personal monetary enrichment(to the ultimate detriment of the public) to be missing the point here.

i'm not going into my firm belief that anyone who serves in government should not be allowed to lobby congress for at least ten years . i will just say this: these are hard & worrisome times. it ain't real pretty out there. some people are born into fortunate circumstances, it's true. but others are born evil. who do we want to lead us? who do we believe deserves profit?

"game's the same, just got more fierce"

it seems like this kid is letting dubya know just what he thinks about the legacy george is leaving behind for him.

history can be a strange thing. what appears so obvious to us right now in the present will be ignored, re-thought, or not emphasized in the future. how else could anyone explain the lionization of richard nixon when he died. he was an unindicted felon(thanks to gerald ford)who was forced from office w/approval ratings somewhere around 24%. his approval ratings have actually risen to nearly 55%. that's amazing.

it's hard to imagine that history will be so kind to george bush. his pathetic attempts to force his legacy into some new acceptable form this last month has been fascinating to watch in the old highway accident sort of way. no sitting president has ever done what he & his minions did this last month. the negative reactions were swift & nearly unanimous. check out what these folks have to say. i'm hoping the unprecedented response to the bush administration's unprecedented b.s. tour will give the historians a leg up.

fighting bullshit w/fire. that's the ticket.

bad scooter searching for his groove

i take the boss pretty seriously. he was my discovery(back when philip & mike & i did that)& born to run, nebraska, & the rising are all major albums. he's getting lots of press this week because he's been on the obama bandwagon from early on. he's also been on the edge of self-parody many times in the past but he's never really fallen into it. when you're as big as the boss, i'm imagining that's hard to do. but it's always nice to have someone like ben stiller around to keep you honest. this is from his short-lived television show. i suppose the irony here is that stiller has fallen into self-parody quite a bit lately. luckily, i never took him that seriously.

riding in on bent backs

a week of unprecedented history. the confluence of past & present being key to the whole shebang. if anyone doubted that great historical moments were over & that history had simply become a series of grotesque calamities, this week should undo that doubt.

"If you don't stand for something you will fall for anything." malcolm x
" A man can't ride your back unless it's bent." mlk

Saturday, January 17, 2009

tattoo WHO?

right before sally hoisted her foot onto the dinner table to show off her tattoo, she'd been haranguing us about the state of popular music. " it's just noise," she whispered conspiratorially, " they're just screaming." she leaned back in her chair as if she expected someone to take a swing at her. her face was resolute. she damn well meant what she said. i guess to prove that she was still hip tho, her foot came flying up from beneath the table.

while i think michael was amused, personally i was stunned. not by the obvious absurdity of calling "todays" music noise when compared w/what we used to listen to, (o say, grand funk)& not even by her foot sitting right there on the table next to her manicotti, but by the tat. sally had a tat! this was groundbreaking! this was earth shaking! this was another chance for me to try & talk ann into getting one! i was deeply grateful to sal.

tats & piercings really demarcate the generations. they mean different things to different people too. when REsearch published the "modern primitives" issue, it was really quite shocking(& i'm not even talking about fakir mustapha)even to the younger kids who worked at the outrigger. it wasn't long before they were lining up at second skin in new orleans tho. i don't think they were swayed by the thoughtful philosophy as articulated in the journal. i don't think they were re-tooling their bodies into works of art or rejecting modernity & it's corporate manipulation of body image. they just looked cool & were, therefore, hot!

i imagine that was lynn's main concern when her daughter wanted her belly button pierced. there is an inherent sexuality in tats & piercings, the inarguable fact of the body, its attractiveness, its responsiveness. add to that the fact that standard tats & piercings are usually put on or near erogenous zones & you're definitely on thin ice w/a 16yo girl. lynn saw piercings as utterly sexual. they were not cool to her & probably never were. i'm sure lots of parents have put their feet down on this issue. at least until their kids turn 18yo. that's a different story all together. i wish i had a dollar for all the tats & piercings that get done the first month of every new college year.

my buddy nancy got her clit hood pierced in new orleans last summer. i encouraged it. what can i say? i don't care that we're older & that maybe it's a youngster's game nowadays. nan wanted something to augment her sexual feelings & from what everyone says, that'll do it. she confirmed that it did too.

as for me, i'm not baffled by any of it. i'm not repulsed. i'm not sure if i'm tuned into what's cool or not but i do know what's hot to me. tats & piercings imply a willful concentration on the body. they are figuratively & quite literally sexual enhancements. that's hot. to me.

for ann? not so much. the different attempts at persuasion? they didn't work entirely.


we just went through turducken season. did anyone else notice? i did. i felt my blood pressure rising. hell, i had my gall bladder removed! who could say that turducken didn't have anything to do w/that? it's that goddamned insidious. let me explain.

nothing bugs me more than someone co-opting someone else's great idea. i know it's the way of the world & all that but it still rankles. i remember down at new college, some art major coming up w/a cute cartoon idea sort of thing(before cartoons had become a big business)& another new college art student taking that cartoon out to los angeles & scoring big. there were slight variations in the drawn characters but anyone from new college at that time couldn't help but know where those characters came from. the thief is still in hollywood making money. the original artist? well, she ain't in hollywood.

at one point, i had all the time/life cookbooks---the ones edited by the great richard olney & the "world cuisine" ones too. ed willard(asshole & ex-friend)& i always went crazy over the creole-arcadian book. it actually inspired my first real eating trip to new orleans(prior trips had basically revolved around staggering down bourbon street, drunk). ed & i ended up eating at mother's & buster holmes & angelo brocato's & leruth's. we tried to get into corinne dunbar's too & i can't say why that didn't happen.

i can say our efforts to eat there were absolutely based on a story in the cookbook on page 113. jimmy plauche the owner of dunbar's had prepared a special dinner for friends of the restaurant. he had heard about stuffing a bird into another into another somewhere. he found nine birds (a snipe tucked into a dove tucked into a quail stuffed into a squab stuffed into a cornish game hen placed into a chicken inserted into a pheasant squeezed into a duck stuffed into a turkey) & the results were stunning: "when the chef carved it, the partakers felt like they were eating a single legendary bird, a sort of poached phoenix." this story spoke directly to our college aged sense of extravagance. like i said, we didn't get to indulge but that unattained extravagance stuck in my mind.

that's why i know for sure & can prove that chef paul prudhomme did not originate the idea for turducken. my time-life "american cooking: creole & arcadian" was published in 1971. chef paul wasn't even in new orleans then & he wasn't stuffing birds w/other birds. chef paul is making money w/the idea tho. i can't dispute that at all.

i can't begrudge him it either. in the world of cooking, so many ideas get passed around, added to, subtracted from that any ur-turducken receipe wouldn't be accessible any more. still, one did exist prior to chef paul's emergence. it's a small thing but at least my blood pressure will return to normal.

can i have my gall bladder back?

andrew wyeth 1917-2009

talk about an artist whose initial vision remained consistent & primary throughout his life despite never being in synch w/current preoccupations. add to that mix the much revered father-figure & it's a wonder he got anything done. i can't say this is my favorite art but it's solid & seems to be very comfortable w/its place in history. that, it seems to me, takes it very close to masterful.

Friday, January 16, 2009

chris marker

'The Sorbonne should be razed, and Chris Marker put up in its place,'' the poet Henri Michaux is reported to have said.

i remember giving uncle tupelo's "no depression" to a friend(he knows who he is)in a moment of enthusiastic revelation. we hadn't seen eye to eye about everything music-wise but this was an epochal album. for me, it kind of validated much of what i thought my friend & i had believed about music, the timeless qualities of the good stuff. w/o dock boggs, you don't get hank williams. w/o hank williams, you don't get johnny cash. w/o johnny cash, you don't get the band. & w/o the band, you don't get uncle tupelo. it's not so much that there's nothing "new under the sun" as much as it is anamnesis, the recognition, in various forms, of something genuine.

surprizingly, my friend didn't see it that way. "what are they doing that hasn't already been done & done better?," he sneered. o well. i couldn't sell him on the genius of chris marker either.

chris marker is 87yo now. his genius is beyond friendly dispute. his films are very beautiful & deeply emotional. the first film of his i ever saw was "san soliel," that profound meditation on time & memory, loss & recompense. i saw "last bolshevik" at uva & remember dona weeping, the contemplation of potential, human failure, & mourning too much to bear. marker has made many films over the years tho many are not available. find & see them if you can.

one of the great things about the net is that while your friends might not agree w/you, you can find someone who does. here's a great link to site that is all things chris marker, so it's really good.

happy b'day ruthie

today is the birthday, in 1948, of Ruth Reichl. After working in a Berkeley, California restaurant for a few years, she became a restaurant critic on the West Coast and with the New York Times for years before being named editor of Gourmet Magazine in 1999. Her three-volume autobiography--Tender At The Bone, Comfort Me With Apples, and Garlic And Sapphires--is fascinating, occasionally sexy, and delicious.

from tom fitzmorris's newspage.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

it's very easy, day in & day out, to think about how shitty humans are to one another. just check the news in whatever medium you want & there it is: awfulness.

when the whip comes down in some disaster, i want americans surrounding me. just like they did w/that airliner in the hudson today, just like they did during 9-11. i can't speak for any other nationality. look at the picture. those are ferries that rushed to the scene BEFORE emergency vehicles to help in the rescue. who knew if bombs were still on board yet to detonate? as rachel maddow said in her newscast, "people ran towards & not away from the disaster." folks who were on their way home to dinner ended up pulling folks out of a sinking airliner in the hudson river. they could not in their wildest dreams have imagined that that was how they'd end their day.

bless each & every one of them.

THAT'S SO CUTE!!! much cuter can you get, right? well, yes & no. i'll let you read the caption yourself. in keeping w/my mixed messages of the day(life is a shit-hole but it can be so cute), i offer you this link. this guy doesn't nail it every time but he does most of the time (the tamarin is hilarious). it's time well spent.


clean sweep

well, ok. things have been a little morbid around the ol' blog lately. two entries on suicide & one about the on-going tragedy in gaza. what can i say? the world can really be too much w/us sometimes, esp when we just want to party like there's a new millenium & not feel like we're getting swept out by the devil's broom. it's hard NOT to feel like the guy in the video (snatched from his bed & dragged around town like that w/everything that's good in his life a blur)but a little music never hurts.

i like this guy a lot. his stuff is everywhere on youtube & itunes. enjoy.

violating the vaughn doctrine

sometime back during the american involvement in kosovo, i remember saying to philip: "what the hell are muslims doing in that country? what the hell is going on there?" & his very simple reply: " your ignorance is a perfect example of why americans really should refrain from even having opinions about these kinds of conflicts." it made sense to me at the time & makes more sense now but this on-going cluster-fuck in gaza has really passed the "having opinions" point. from what i've read & heard most israelis(which does NOT include american jews) believe in the two-state solution & want it put into effect. ditto most of the palestinian people. of course, over 70% of the american people want out of iraq & you see where that's gotten them.

i think there were several episodes of "star trek" where the enterprise crew got themselves mixed up in a centuries old conflict between two opposing races/tribes. inevitably, after much bloodshed & usually ONE particularly senseless death(most of the time, a child or woman), the bloodthirsty crazies come to their senses & realize that things AS THEY ARE must end. of course, this is fiction & usually written by someone w/no experience of either war or the kind of conflict described.

the piece at this link(entitled "the pornography of horror") was written about gaza by someone who's fully invested there. what continues to strike me is the disconnect between the people & their leaders. that's an old story too but one that shouldn't get buried beneath the emotions of the moment. my only real opinion here is that when the leaders refuse to do the people's will, it's time for a change.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


i saw bo jackson play baseball once. i'd seen the great runs he'd made as an auburn football player. i'd heard all the stories. w/someone like lebron around nowadays, it's hard to remember that other "complete" athletes ever existed(who, someone might ask nowadays, was jim thorpe, my childhood hero). i saw him down in sarasota, during spring training. he was playing for kansas city, a team i never liked. he hit a bloop single to left that was fielded cleanly & quickly by whoever was playing leftfield for the white sox at the time. by the time the leftfielder had made his throw to second base(what should have been a perfunctory precautionary rote move), jackson was standing there on second, his trajectory around the base paths nearly invisible but certainly magical. there was a moment of utter silence & then the nearly reflexive roar of the crowd. it was quite a sight to not really see. bo jackson only lasted eight seasons in professional baseball & only a couple were really productive.

i thought about this moment of magical realism last night when i watched rickey henderson being interviewed on mlb network. henderson did what i saw jackson do countless times, over several decades. of course, henderson is known for being kind of nutty, speaking about himself in the third person & making odd non sequiturs. not last night. i wouldn't say he was eloquent but he was definately adequate in assessing his place in baseball history. he really doesn't have to say much though. he is simply the greatest lead-off hitter of all time. he is the most electrifying base stealer ever. he is a first ballot unanimous choice for the hall of fame. guys like this don't come up very often. w/all that baseball has gone through these last few years, having someone w/such astonishing natural physical skills going into the hall is a true blessing.

that he's going into the hall w/jim rice, the boston great whose talents & stats have been unbelievably ignored all these years, is just frosting on the cake.

life takes care of this for us

we had one more suicide this year off the golden gate bridge than we did in 2007. since 1937 when the bridge opened, there have been more than 1300 hearty souls to take the plunge. if you saw the riveting documentary "the bridge," you know that there's no soaring transcendent moment when you take that plunge. you drop like a rock & smash yourself into the concrete-like water. no womb re-entry. no human fantasy fulfilled. just ignominious death in all it's grinning glory.

anyone who survives the drop (amazingly, there have been a few)pretty much spends years in physical therapy & probably the rest of their lives in real true physically human pain. in the film, what's interesting is that the real true mental pain that drove them to make the leap is gone. vanished. for one survivor, it vanished (that real true mental pain)when he saw his hands hoisting his body up over the railing. "at that moment," he says, " i thought: all my problems, they're nothing, they could be easily solved." very quickly, his new problem became a very real physical one: surviving the drop & it's aftermath.

most of these folks (in the film, anyway)are under 40yo. they don't have cancer. some have jobs. they're only about half way through their run. they simply failed to see that their cul-de-sac was an intersection. what they also failed to see is that friends have to cope, workers(those lucky ones who get to fish them out of the bay)have to deal, & the world just keeps spinning on.

in 2008, 34 folks made the drop.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

"counterfeit infinity"

a remarkable life that ends abruptly is just that. there is nothing remarkable about death. it is the lowest possible common denominator of all living things. the only thing remarkable about it is that tragic or stupid or bizarre deaths will inevitably have someone remark on them. other than that, it is base & w/o any redeeming qualities.

i used to say, half-jokingly, that death is the worst thing that could happen to us when we're alive. for the most part, i believed that. but a scene from joy williams' "breaking & entering" made me reconsider. one of the characters, a wild ex-hollywood stunt man, is constantly saying, "fuck death! when death comes for me i'm gonna piss in his face..." & then he knocks back a shot of bourbon. of course, death has other plans for him & when it shows up, rather than take him, it cripples him w/a paralyzing stroke. mute & confined to a wheelchair, he spends most of the novel being wheeled around as an inert object, cognizant of his circumstance but unable to do anything about it.

when considered, that's probably the worst thing that could happen to us when we're alive(or some variation thereof)but god knows we fail to see it. humans are capable of generating so much self-pain over such trivial things: lovers, jobs, lovers, money, lovers. when we're young we have feelings that seem so large, so all consuming that we can't imagine surviving them but we do. then, here they come w/just enough variation to blindside us all over again.

i met charles bernstein the poet once, at uva. i liked his work &, even more, appreciated its significance. i remember richard rorty walked out of bernstein's reading & my appreciation for bernstein went off the charts. i had no idea he was married to susan bee but i'd enjoyed her artworks & her work on various journals associated w/the language poets. i didn't know they had children.

i found their daughter's blog, girldrive, quite by accident. i've always had an interest in subcultures, marginalized voices have always spoken meaningfully to me. women in general & esp younger women of a certain age(just out of high school to a few years out of college, the effects of their institutionalized oppression either taken hold fully or not yet fully shaken off)are marginalized voices. emma bernstein's blog gave those specific voices a place to sound out. her own writing struck me as beautiful but facile. she was gifted w/words(as her father is)but the words seemed to inflate feelings that were small or insular. they exaggerated common experience too dramatically & produced a "counterfeit infinity." it would be easy to get lost in those words & lose track of the actual feelings or even the world itself. beautiful. dangerous. damned.

it is not natural in this new millenium for a parent to bury their child. i'm not sure it's ever been natural. this is one of those empty losses that compels everyone who hears of it to remark on it. the magnitude of this kind of loss is what's remarkable. that doesn't make death remarkable.

inward desolation
horror of
great darkness

great things
on the ocean

& counterfeit


[italicized lines after Coleridge's notebooks]


for more info & a link to her blog, girldrive, click on the poetics sidebar.