Thursday, December 28, 2006

Raw, adjective: 5. crude in quality or character; not tempered or refined by art or taste

George and I are off to the villa in Lake Como to ring in the New Year. We'll think of you dutifully drafting your resolutions as we sip bellinis under the moody Italian sky and go cliff-diving into the Med.

(Come now, don't be jealous. We'll invite you over next year if you're good. And by "good," I mean "bribe us shamelessly").

So here's to 2006! See you next year.

Random shit I wanted to post that has no feasible connection whatsoever to any definition of "rawness"

Ok, funniest thing I've seen in months.

Click on the link to behold the fabulosity.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Raw, adjective: 10. not diluted, as alcoholic spirits: raw whiskey

Last night over Christmas dinner we had the pleasure of drinking a lot of ridiculously good wines. Gotta love Christmas for giving you an excuse to pull out the big hitters. The night was actually bookended by a little local red zin, though - a bottle we popped open early in the evening to sip on while baking, and another that, following some big cabs and a little bubbly, finished out the evening. I woke up this morning and the first thing I thought of (well, the second thing, actually; the first thing being the vague ache in my temples as I hit snooze for the twelfth time) was how damn *good* that little zin was. I can still remember that first impression rolling around in my mouth; the little raspberry brambles and the fuzziness of the berries just filling my tastebuds.

So if you're looking for a nice little Napa wine, or just want an excuse to find a package full of vino sitting on your doorstep, check out the D-Cubed website and order a few little post-Christmas treats for yourself. It's really a delicious little find, and a great introduction to red zinfandels if you haven't had much of them in the past.

You can find the site here, along with the vintner's back story and a few cute little quirks: D-Cubed Cellars

Friday, December 22, 2006

Raw, noun: 13. unrefined sugar, oil, etc.

And cue the silence.

The mass holiday exodus has officially begun. I woke up this morning to quiet streets, the strange void of no doors slamming, and the exaggerated squeak of my bare feet on the hardwood floors. It's Christmastime in the City, and that means one thing: everyone flees.

High on the laundry list of reasons that San Francisco rocks my world is its nature as a haven for transients, a destination from which few have come and to which many have escaped. It's always been that way, really, since the Gold Rush days on, and it remains a city where people come looking for something, flush with high expectations of widespread granola and anti-Bush bumper stickers and wild sex orgies in the street. And, given the right time of year, all of those expectations can pretty much be fulfilled. The upshot of this is that with so many transplants and so few natives, the City really empties out come holiday time. It's at once eerie and fantastic, but I'll take it, though I do miss the low baritone rumblings of the guys next door, strangely enough.

They're playing the Yule Log this year again on TV on Christmas Day, and I've gotta say, it's on my calendar. As long as I'm in the house, that little baby is going to burn, burn, burn. Don't know what I'm talking about, you say? Read here for the story of this hilarious holiday tradition. I discovered it last year in the throes of a not-so-stellar Christmas, settled here at home on my sofa with a pan of lasagna, a half-empty bottle of Bailey's, and the tinny sounds of 1970s "Little Drummer Boy" carols coming from the TV. And at once the sick notion of a perpetually burning yule log ON THE TV and the strange comfort it gave me to know other people out there were watching this absurd shit made me smile, and take another swig of the Bailey's, before diving facefirst into my pan o' lasagna.

Enjoy the long weekend - and if you are anywhere near Denver, I hope you're loaded down with lots of hot chocolate, a bottle of Jack and a few good books. We've been complaining about the rain and the wind here, but all I have to do is read the news reports from Colorado to know that I'm immensely content to be exactly where I am. As for me, it's going to be a weekend of baking, yoga, a few little Christmas gatherings, and maybe a quickie service at Grace Cathedral - they really know how to do the music right, especially if you've got a hankering to sing a bit. Mostly, though, I'm psyched to take advantage of the girls upstairs being away by playing piano and wailing my guts out without having to worry about them stomping around (i.e. passive aggressively telling me to shut the hell up). Sweet! Gotta love those thin Edwardian walls.

Cheers, and happy holidays.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Raw, adjective: 6. ignorant, inexperienced, or untrained

And you thought YOUR parents had issues?!? Someone's going to need a lot of therapy someday.

Woman Puts Baby Through Airport X-Ray

Monday, December 18, 2006

Raw, adjective: 11. unprocessed or unevaluated: raw data

Some of you may know that I shake martinis a few nights a week at a dimly-lit place here in the City. I must say, in spite of being pretty seriously introverted, I just love bartending, and have come to really look forward to those nights as a welcome change from my quieter days, which are generally spent in some combination of writing, researching and yoga. It's a perfect contrast to being so stuck in my head, and I love the physicality and the fast pace of it, along with the added benefit of getting to know so many cool and interesting people who I otherwise would just not run into.

That being said, I also meet a lot of men. Which I am, for the record, totally not complaining about. Added perk of the job, shall we say. So, as a bartender, I probably talk to, oh, say fifty men an evening, give or take, and the vast majority of them are cool, good for a laugh, good for a flirt if I'm feeling like it. Always makes for an interesting evening, and I love the rush of the unexpected dreamboat sitting down at the end of the bar when I am least expecting it. But now and then I do get the random stalker type who nurses a little crush while failing to realize that no, I am not in love with him, I just get paid to talk to him. There's a difference.

But after a little run-in over the weekend, I've got men on the mind; more specifically, older men, confidence, and the bizarro phenomenon of misguided entitlement that one sees now and then as a young chick behind the bar. So this guy comes in Saturday night. He'd been in a few weeks ago, maybe a month ago, and we'd had a few conversations about football, the weather, San Francisco, you know. The usual small talk. He rolls in again Saturday night, sits at the bar, and I can see from the look in his eyes that - oh dear god - we've got a case of the Misguidedly Entitled Middle-Aged Man Syndrome. What is that, you say? Well, briefly, it's when some middling 45 year old dude, in this case a Danny Devito lookalike (minus a few pounds, plus a bad goatee) decides you, a smokin' and independent young chick, are definitely into him (on the basis of, well, no evidence whatsoever), and proceeds to harass you with irritating confidence while grinning slimily and checking you out when he thinks you're not looking. It's pretty gross. Leaves you feeling slightly molested. And makes you wish you weren't trapped behind that bar and having to make further conversation in spite of your lack of interest and, well, complete revulsion.

So, long story short, this guy proceeds to harangue me with "When are you free??" and "How can I take you out?" and "When are you here?" etc., ad nauseum, while I, stammering awkwardly, and being the awful liar that I am, mutter something about being really busy, uh, "baking for the holidays" and whatnot. Yes, I actually said that: "No, sorry, I can't go out with you, because I am really busy baking for the holidays." Ok, I know that's pathetic, beyond pathetic, and I promise to come up with a better retort next time, something along the lines of being a lesbian and having a boyfriend who is a 7'5" body builder (yes, both of those things at once). But anyway - if you're a dude and the chick you just asked out tells you she can't go out with you because she's busy BAKING for the HOLIDAYS, don't you get a clue and realize she is definitely, most definitely, not into you??

Well, not this guy. He persisted. He asked my co-worker how he could get me to go out with him. He tried to follow me out. It was bad. Really bad. And finally I got rid of him. But now I am going to be holding my breath every time he rolls in, all 4 feet of him, flashing that stalkerly glint in his eye.

And the whole point of this, what I keep rolling over in my mind, is the way this parallels other experiences I have had in the past with older, socially inept men following me around in public places and carrying themselves with this insanely overblown sense of confidence in their powers of seduction. And I am just baffled as to where this false confidence comes from - especially when I flip the gender roles and imagine if it were, say, some middle-aged housewife a la Roseanne Barr following around, say, Justin Timberlake and assuming with the utmost confidence that she could absolutely seduce him with very little effort. That's laughable. I don't see it happening that way. What's the deal? I mean, obviously, there's the well-known double standard of older men being with younger women. But geez. Most of the time those match-ups involve clear trades of cultural capital, e.g. Donald Trump's vast wealth and social power for Melania Knauss's great beauty and reproductive capacity. (Not to be too crassly sociological, but that's a pretty accurate understanding of those types of relationships, per social theory). What about for those of us who don't trade in those kinds of extreme sources of cultural capital but still see this dynamic reproduced? Where does a middle-aged Danny Devito lookalike get that kind of swaggering confidence? I don't get it. I know it's gendered, I can see that, but geez, wow, this is ridiculous.

I don't know really what my point is - just that this is happening, and will continue to happen, and where the hell do these guys get their blind confidence in the face of clear rejection? And is there anyone out there who is 7'5" and wants to stand in as my body builder boyfriend for the next time this dude rolls in and sits at my bar??

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Raw, adjective: 1. uncooked, as articles of food: a raw carrot.

It's official: vegetarians really are smarter.

Kids With High IQs Grow Up to Be Vegetarians

The smarter they are, the more likely they'll shun meat as adults, British researchers contend.

FRIDAY, Dec. 15 (HealthDay News) -- As a child's IQ rises, his taste for meat in adulthood declines, a new study suggests. British researchers have found that children's IQ predicts their likelihood of becoming vegetarians as young adults -- lowering their risk for cardiovascular disease in the process. The finding could explain the link between smarts and better health, the investigators say.

Could've told you that myself!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Raw, adjective: 5. crude in quality or character; not tempered or refined by art or taste

Last night I saw this film, and man, it was a piece of shit. MAN! Piece. Of. Shit.

Yeah, yeah, so I should've seen it coming. Holiday movie, Cameron Diaz, Nancy Meyers writing and directing...all the puzzle pieces fall into place easily enough to predict that it's going to be a pretty blase clump of bourgeois cliches. But it was a cold and windy night, and I had the evening blessedly to myself, and so I popped into the movie theater for a quickie as I am wont to do when that sort of situation presents itself.

But geez. It was a thousand times more stupid and offensive to intelligent good taste than I ever imagined.

Ok, so first of all, Nancy Meyers is officially a schlockmeister. Her writing is such cliched bourgeois middle-aged woman fantasy crap, from the cheesy-ass Thomas Kincaid cottage in England to the one-dimensional archetypes (the cad! the plain Jane! the old guy who imparts the wisdom while doing cute old man things!) to the utterly whitewashed occupants of her films (hello, post-imperialism Britain: no, they are not all white and Anglo). Critics raved about her Something's Gotta Give from 2003, and so I expected to like that one, too, given that Diane Keaton can be a pretty sexy older-lady badass when she wants to be, and Jack Nicholson's rogue act never fails to charm me. But when I finally did catch it once on a cross-continental flight, I almost ripped the little TV monitor out of the seat in front of me, it was so bad. Embarrassing, cliched, whitewashed, bourgeois, blah. The thing that really riles me about Meyers' stuff is that she so clearly thinks she's saying Big Profound Things about sex and love and relationships and independence and whatnot, and in fact is often described in reviews as providing characterizations that are empowering, and I've gotta say: where the HELL does that idea come from??? Her characters are all prancing around like little children (witness the usually elegant Diane Keaton flitting around like she never had a self-possessed moment in her sixty years) or utterly swimming in insecurity (as are both Winslet and Diaz in this film). And if I ever have to sit through another gratuitous air-guitar scene, I think my insides will shrivel up and die.

And on that note: Cameron Diaz. Wow, dude. The woman is stunningly beautiful, I will grant that. But jesus. Her acting in this film is the most piece of shit acting I have seen in a long, long time. Overacting up the wazoo. Arms flailing, face scrunching up into ridiculous contortions, mannerisms so affected and cutesy and over the top, I was ready to walk out within the first five minutes. How does this woman get roles?? Obviously it's not on the basis of her acting. Now Winslet, on the other hand, was quite good, per usual, in spite of the dreck she was given to work with, and in spite of some awkward moments with her supposed lover, Jack Black, who tried desperately to be the straight man while slipping here and there into his classic manic Jack Black-ness. And Jude Law, well, let's just say Jude is the only reason I stuck around. I seriously started to get up and walk out when the urge to vomit got too much to bear, but then I'd think of the fifty-foot Jude who was due to replace Diaz onscreen any second, and settle back into my chair. The guy is lovely. And granted, while his character was yet another Total Shit Piece of Middle Aged Lady Fantasy, he was still pretty to look at, despite the godawful things they gave him to say. I just have to say, on behalf of all not-middle-aged-ladies who do attend the movies now and then: LET HIM BE A CAD! Please! Don't apologize for the pseudo-caddishness at the beginning by castrating him halfway through the film ("oh, he's not a dashing playboy, he's a sad widower with two little girls and the perfect dad who spends his weekends looking for tutus"). Yes, the tutu thing is an actual part of the script. Let him have his balls! Please! The characters are so much more fun when they actually have a few layers and they aren't so goddamned easy to like! In fact, I liked him better before he was the dad who sews buttons onto the kids' sweaters at night! Arghh!!

Sorry. This rant has been coming for awhile now. I just feel like Meyers' films represent so much of what is so wrong with mass-marketed art and culture and aesthetics right now: they are so whitewashed, so clearly motivated by this bourgeois white fantasy of a land where everyone wears neutral tones and decorates in Pottery Barn and reads Jonathan Franzen and listens to boring music and wallows in questions of self and everyone is white and pretty and upper middle class and utterly vanilla. Give me complicated, give me messy, give me diverse, give me difficult. Give me no easy resolution at the end. Give me more Jude Law in a topcoat and glasses. And just give me no more Nancy Meyers. Ever. Again.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Raw, adjective: 10. not diluted, as alcoholic spirits: raw whiskey.

I've found my official December 2006 theme drink. Thanks to Larry the Bartender at the old man dive bar around the corner for this delicious discovery. If you can't find me at any point in the next three weeks, you now know where to look.

Larry's Late Night Post-Champagne Nightcap:

6 oz coffee
1 1/2 oz Rumplemintz peppermint liqueur (like peppermint schnapps, but 100 proof!)
1/2 oz Creme de Cacao, swirled on top
Whipped creme to finish

All my favorite things - coffee, cordials, and dessert - wrapped into one.


Friday, December 8, 2006

Raw, adjective: 9. disagreeably damp and chilly, as the weather or air

Have you been following this story about the missing San Francisco family that was stranded in Oregon and eventually rescued, only to find the husband's body floating in a creek after he'd gone off to find help?

It's absolutely tragic and I can't seem to get it out of my bones.

Seems like the case has gotten quite a bit of national media coverage, but if you're not familiar with the story, basically a young SF family with two small daughters veered off into a canyon in some rugged terrain and bad weather on their way home from a trip to Oregon the weekend of Thanksgiving. After being stranded in the snow for a week, burning the tires for warmth, etc., the father finally set off in search of help, and the mother and two daughters were rescued by helicopter 9 days after being stranded. His body was found, dead of hypothermia, on Wednesday afternoon. For some reason, I just can't shake the sorrow of this story. The whole city's talking about it; not only was the father a respected and beloved local guy, but people just somehow found themselves highly invested in this sweet little family's hope for a happy ending.

Yesterday I was walking down past the Wharf to run a few errands and noticed that the flag there was half-mast, and teared up all over again. The news coverage was such a rush of joy and fear, especially when the days passed and they still couldn't find the father, knowing that the nights were dipping to 20 degrees and there was increasingly little chance he could've survived. I think the saddest part is knowing that the two little girls, aged 7 mos. and 4 years, will not know or remember their father, outside of a few blurry memories for the older daughter. It's amazing how a routine trip home from the holidays can suddenly change everything. All those Buddhist themes of transience and living in the moment rush into my mind as I try to make sense of this sort of thing; how little we can plan for, and how much of living is knowing that all meetings end in separation, and that, in spite of the tragedy and seeming implausibility of getting lost in the mountains in a country that sometimes seems to be all interstates and cell phone networks and wireless connections, it's still possible to lose everything in a wrong turn.

Sorry for the heaviness; it's been weighing on my mind, and in this holiday season when we're so caught up in sparkles and scents and sights, it's a sobering reminder not to take one single second of it for granted.

Enjoy your weekend, the holiday parties and the snow and the cold. We're getting our first "big storm" of the season tonight - nothing in comparison to what many of you in the middle of the country are getting, but a storm nonetheless. Stay warm, and hug your pets and/or children and/or live-in mistresses.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Raw, adjective: 2. not having undergone processes of preparing, dressing, finishing, refining, or manufacture

"This is what you shall do: Love the earth and the sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown, or to any man or number of men - go freely with powerful uneducated persons, and with the young, and with the mothers of families - re-examine all you have been told in school or church or in any book, and dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem, and have the richest fluency, not only in its words, but in the silent lines of its lips and face, and between the lashes of your eyes, and in every motion and joint of your body.

-- Walt Whitman, from the 1855 Preface to Leaves of Grass

(I love me some Edward Hopper! This one: "Compartment C, Car 293," 1938. Oil on canvas.)

Monday, December 4, 2006

Raw, adjective: 8. brutally harsh or unfair: a raw deal

In breaking world news, we have a Christmas tree!! And now the whole place smells like forest. Delicious.

Yesterday's Times had an important, if not particularly incisive, article on the increasing minority of straights in long-term relationships who are choosing not to marry as a statement against the continued illegality of marriages for all people who'd like to commit their lives to another person. I was glad to see this article for a number of reasons: first off, because it makes the important point that this is not just a "gay" issue, it's a matter of civil rights being violated, similar to the ways in which blacks were not permitted to sit at pre-1960s lunch counters, etc. That comparison might not be completely perfect, but I do think it's apt in drawing on past examples of civil rights violations that were once perceived as "normal" being flung out into the light as obsolete and unfair. And in reminding us that it's ALL our responsibility to cry out against that, especially those of us who have the luxury of marrying without being questioned by the government.

Secondly, as vanilla as this article is, I'm glad to see it appearing in a mainstream rag. I'm not surprised to see mention of the whole Angelina Jolie-Brad Pitt refusal to marry. People are often quick to deride celebrity attempts to make political waves, but I have to say how pleased I was when they made that statement. Joe Blow at the supermarket check-out stand might not read a polemical treatise about how marriage is a civil rights issue, but he'll sure as hell pick up InTouch to find out what Angie and Brad are doing. And it's in the baby steps that things change. So check it out:

"The Sit-In At the Altar: No 'I Do' Til Gays Can Do It, Too"

Friday, December 1, 2006

Raw, adjective: 8. brutally harsh or unfair: a raw deal

Support World AIDS Day

It's World AIDS Day. Do something.

The Chron did a week-long series earlier this year to mark the 25th anniversary of AIDS in a city which has been, of course, particularly shattered by the epidemic. This link will take you to any number of articles, charts, links, etc. Really very touching and eye-opening.

It's definitely worth a look.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Raw, adjective: 7. brutally or grossly frank: a raw portrayal of human passions

Did you know there's a new Sondheim revival on B'way?!

Maybe I'm just late to the game, but I hadn't heard they were putting up a new version of Company. Between this and Shaun's show, it's definitely time for a quickie trip to NYC for a weekend of theater.

Sondheim's always been in my top tier of composers - not only for his wickedly impossible-to-sing melodies, but for his dark, cynical take on things that so contrasts the shiny happy tone of most old-school musical theater. His stuff refuses to settle into an easy reconciliation, leaving you slightly itchy, a little uncomfortable, a bit unresolved both musically and emotionally - which, of course, is a much more accurate mirror of the experience of being alive than the happily resolved endings of say, Rodgers and Hammerstein. It's brilliant, poetic, mindful, snarky. And the guy's had a seriously prolific career; I mean, he started as the lyricist on West Side Story - not a bad way to begin as a young guy out of music school - and, of course, proceeded to write any and everything on B'way in the last thirty years, usually starring Bernadette Peters or some other stage icon.

Most of all, though, I love Stevie for the way he constantly engages the tension between the need to be alone and the difficult but necessary and equal need to be with people. Every show seems to find some way to slip this push-pull of the joy and frustration of being with people vs. the blessed solitude of being alone with your thoughts into the discussion. And I am grateful to him for this. Company, of course, features some of the best individual songs engaging this theme in "Sorry-Grateful" (haunting!) and "Being Alive" (the big finale song in which Bobby essentially sells out to commitment, which I've read in the past was actually a grudging acquiescence on the part of Sondheim to pressure from producers to give the show a happy ending - he preferred to let Bobby remain content with his bachelorhood, but they thought it would leave audiences cold). More reason to love him.

It looks like this particular production's getting some solid reviews. If you're in the neighborhood, check it out. I'm hoping to squeeze in a viewing when I'm in the area later this year. Until then, here are a few reviews from Wednesday night's premiere:

NY Times
USA Today

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Raw, adjective: 1. uncooked, as articles of food: a raw carrot.

Last week, on one of my regular trips to Whole Foods to scope out the local hippie boy scene, um, I mean, to buy some spinach for Thanksgiving dinner, I passed the salad bar. Now, usually my store visits stay within the vicinity of the produce and the bulk food sections, and sometimes maybe the alternative medicine section. But this particular day, aided by large amounts of caffeine, I was feeling a little more adventurous, and decided to sashay over toward the steaming vats in the deli.

Lo and behold, there amongst the sauteed mushrooms and the self-serve baba ghanoush beckoned a mass of vibrant green. I looked more closely and, sure enough, there it was: homemade kale and seaweed salad, flavored just perfectly with a few touches of ginger and sesame, and finished off with a little olive oil. I could hardly contain myself.

Needless to say, instead of chatting up that cute guy from my yoga studio who I saw over by the fennel, I walked out with a big ol' tub of kale seaweed salad. And proceeded to spend the rest of the night with that little guy. And wow! What can I say. Something that's got 1327% of your daily recommended vitamin K intake cannot be taken lightly.

Since then, my trips to Whole Foods have taken on a more urgent quality. The kale seaweed salad beckons. And I am besotted. Today, after spending $12.37 on, like, two ounces of it, I decided to make the big commitment of learning how to make the shit myself. A little googling, and voila! Some woman named Elise who also happens to live in SF found herself infatuated too, and did the hard work of actually figuring out the recipe. Thanks, lady. Appreciate it. I was really tempted to steal the gorgeous pic she's got on her recipe page, but I'll be ethical and refrain. So go here for all the verdant glory.

I will steal one of her links, though, as it's one of my favorite sites, too. So, Saturday night when you're at home, NY Times-style, hiding from the hair-gelled riff-raff flooding the city clubs, curl up with your laptop and read about the remarkable wonders of kale. KALE! Kale.

Fabulous kale page (WH Foods)
Fabulous sea veggie page (WH Foods)

Monday, November 27, 2006

Raw, adjective: 7. brutally or grossly frank: a raw portrayal of human passions

"There are times I feel that nothing has meaning. On a tiny planet that has been racing toward oblivion for millions of years, we are born amid sorrow; we grow, we struggle, we grow ill, we suffer, we make others suffer, we cry out, we die, others die, and new beings are born to begin the senseless comedy all over again.

Was that really it? I sat pondering the idea of the absence of meaning. Was our life nothing more than a sequence of anonymous screams in a desert of indifferent stars?"

-- Ernesto Sabato, "El Tunel," 1948.

(Photo: Marbella, looking south toward Morocco, Oct. '02)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Raw, adjective: 6. ignorant, inexperienced, or untrained: a raw recruit.

I am so over the NY Times.

On the one hand, it admittedly has a stronger world news focus than many, if not most, other American papers (USA Today, anyone?), and I definitely turn to it for the lowdown on big news events. And I can always count on the Times for a good puff piece now and then.

But beyond that, the crazy-making. Not only has the Times' implicit claim to being the Only Source Of Legitimate Journalism always annoyed me, reeking as it does of elitism and East Coast establishment privilege, but geez: it's just so damn arrogant. Gimme a break. This sense of annoyance coincides, of course, with my general long-term irritation with Manhattan's myopic belief that it's the center of the universe. Growing up in other corners of the country will teach anyone that there's much more to the world than I-95 and the vast parking lot that is the eastern metropolitan corridor. Don't get me wrong; I love all those cities on that stretch of devil traffic in many ways for each of their own unique characteristics (well, except for anything in Jersey, but can you blame me? I mean, really?). And I am fully aware that other newspapers have their own shortcomings; just look at the aforementioned USA Today (a.k.a. the "Everything's Great!" paper) or my own beloved SF Chron, which is admittedly pretty guilty of being a pinko softy food- and wine-obsessed little rag.

But seriously. Have you SEEN some of these articles lately? I sat down today to catch up on a little news, and found the following articles headlined on the site. Now, granted, they're from the Fashion and Style section, so should understandably be light, but jesus - these are downright farcical:

* First, a scintillating, hard-nosed look at the social politics of email signatures (!).

(Did you know you were being a) rude and short, or b) friendly and warm, or c) both at once, the last time you signed an email "Best?" And don't even think about going for "xoxo" if you want to be taken seriously by Anyone Who Matters. What profound journalistic flair!)

* And next, an article so laced with scathing disapproval and class bias that it almost oozes the snot from an upturned posh nose.

(All you bridge-and-tunnelers, thanks for ruining Saturday night with your hair gel and stretch Hummers! What are those poor chic sophisticates like Candace Bushnell supposed to do now that you've invaded their haunts with bad cologne and cheap shoes? Run for the hills, Candy, before their cheap gaucheness rubs off on your new Manolo Blahniks! Run!)

Seriously?!? This is the best newspaper in the country (or the world)? You've gotta be kidding me. I'll take the soft-core leftist yuppie porn of the Chron or the more unabashed commie propaganda of the London Guardian any day.

Now, I need to go reserve my stretch Hummer for Saturday night.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Raw, adjective: 2. not having undergone processes of preparing, dressing, finishing, refining, or manufacture

Don't know about you, but I'm looking forward to a big ol' day of Buying Nothing! It's amazing how much your day opens up when you're not concerned about making it to Macy's by 5am.

As for me, it looks like some yoga, some football, and then we're hosting Thanksgiving dinner, part deux. Because who doesn't love another chance to dive into a big bowl of mashed potatoes? The City's eerily silent - I think everyone's fled to Tahoe for the long weekend or is still snoozing in bed. It's wonderful.

Enjoy your day.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Raw, adjective: 10. not diluted, as alcoholic spirits: raw whiskey

Your life is not yet complete until you have seen this. (Thanks, Mari)

Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Raw, adjective: 7. brutally or grossly frank: a raw portrayal of human passions

You know, I keep telling myself there's no way I could fall more in love with this city. I mean, seriously.

But then, out of the blue, there's the unexpected late-night stroll home through the slumbering Financial District, past Chinatown and the crest of Nob Hill, and suddenly everything's twinkling lights and wrought-iron fences and the top of the Clift Hotel shining like a beacon, and there's just the right amount of crispness in the air, an excuse to pull my favorite cloche low over my eyes, and I'm smitten all over again.

The other night I saw the new film version of Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation. I don't know about you, but FFN was one of those books that sucked me in like a riptide. I remember so clearly popping into Waterstone's in Edinburgh one cold dark winter night (there are a lot of those in Scotland in January), sitting down with a copy on a footstool in the corner, and not coming up for air until suddenly three hours later I'd hit the last page. I was surprised when I heard they were making a movie version, though; the material is engrossing but can be dry, and I couldn't imagine how they'd get away with making it interesting as a film.

Well, they've done it. Not only did they turn the material from a potential documentary into a fictional narrative, but it's actually strong, coherent, interesting, and even a little bit funny. Who knew? I credit Richard Linklater, the director, who of course has done fabulous things in the past with School of Rock, Before Sunset, etc. The script is passionate and yet not preachy, which I think is the major coup here. If nothing else, it will definitely smack you upside the head with a few sobering revelations. Couple of thoughts:

* Great cast: Ethan Hawke, Greg Kinnear, Bruce Willis, Wilmer Valderrama, Kris Kristofferson. Random cast member: Avril Lavigne (WTF?). Old-school cast member: remember the annoyingly precocious little girl who played Chrissy Seaver on Growing Pains? Uh, yeah - well, she's, like, 22 now, and the lead. And actually does quite well, if you can get the image of her bopping around harassing an adolescent Kirk Cameron out of your mind.

* In a city where I'm assuming something like 94% of the populace have read this book, I expected a sold-out showing. There were four people in the theater, at a 7:15 showing, and that counts Julio and me. Why aren't people seeing this? And is it true that it's only playing in art houses elsewhere? What's the deal?

* I try really hard not to be a hostile vegetarian - you know the kind I'm talking about. And this film makes its own case against animal cruelty more strongly than I ever could. So I won't go off on the animal suffering aspects here. But I will say: it does a remarkable job of portraying the ways in which our Big Mac consumption makes us complicit in other peoples' suffering, particularly, here, in the case of the migrant workers who make this low-cost meat possible. It's sobering to see the byproduct of this industry in the form of very real human casualties. And that's what I really love about the film - the way it connects the dots between what you put in your mouth and the ripple effects of that choice.

* There were a few lines that had me scrambling for my pen in the dark - so good that I didn't want to forget them: "There's SHIT in the MEAT!" - the big tagline, yeah, but god, doesn't that say so much?! Mmm, fecal matter, delicious. And then Ethan Hawke's character, the token anti-bourgeois lefty, who says: "Right now I can't think of anything more patriotic than violating the Patriot Act" (YEAH). Later, Chrissy Seaver asks him if he's happy living his countercultural life as a carpenter in Montana outside of the corporate rat race, and he replies: "I'm all right with what I'm doing...but I'm really all right with what I'm NOT doing." What a great way of seeing things.

Love it. Go see it.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Raw, adjective: 8. brutally harsh or unfair: a raw deal

My dad taught me, among other things:

how to swing a hammer
how to talk football
how to weed petunias
the rush of road trips
the itch of restlessness
the pleasure of a shared silence
the pleasure of a good sunburn
to make of my life something I love
to change my oil every 3000 miles
that we already have everything we could ever need,
here, now, in this moment; enough.

Nov. 21, 1946 - Apr. 29, 2005

Today would've been #60.
We miss you, Pops, every day.

American Cancer Society

Monday, November 20, 2006

Raw, adjective: 9. disagreeably damp and chilly, as the weather or air

Last night the fog set in early, rolling in softly around four o'clock and settling in for the long haul. By nine or so, I could barely make out the streetlights through the blanket of mist. It's still lingering this morning, and I love it, because it means one thing: time to catch up on college football.

* I had such high hopes for Cal. And they held it together so well that first half. Sigh. What a downer. Now all signs for Roses point toward USC.

* Have you heard some of these names they're throwing around for Coker's Miami job? Alvarez, Schiano, Spurrier - wouldn't THAT be interesting? He's saying he's not interested, but we'll see. This'll be an intriguing one to follow.

* This Friday, while you're busy buying nothing and recovering from your food coma, catch the annual NU-CU rivalry on ABC at 3:30 et. Always a good time, even if the Buffs are sucking this year.

* I love The Onion. (A bean field: ha!)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Raw, idiom: b. Informal. in the nude; naked: sunbathing in the raw

Is YOUR womb open to God?

These people think it should be. And apparently "open to God" = cranking out 11 babies before the age of 38. Holy shit.

Newsweek's got a brief little feature on this fringe evangelical movement that actually parallels Catholicism's anti-birth control stances in some interesting (and frightening) ways. This movement, known as the "Quiverfull" moment (for the "quiver" that you're supposed to keep "full" so that you can be blessed with zillions of children as evidence of divine approval), is gaining strength in the South, in particular. No surprise there. But it does seem to be aligning with mainstream religiously-motivated anti-choice efforts in some potentially scary ways, too.

These people are the ones organizing and heading to the polls to pass scary legalized discrimination laws like the bans we saw pass earlier this month. And this is why we need Dems in control of Congress! Check it out.

I'm reminded of a fascinating (and scary) article the Sunday Chron had earlier this fall that sort of paralleled this whole issue. It highlighted the growing fertility gap between Republicans and Democrats, pointing out that if people like the Quiverfulls continue reproducing this way and left-leaning folk continue having illicit, non-procreative, recreational sex (horrors!) the demographics of our country are in for a scary shift in a few decades.

Here's the opening blurb, courtesy of Vicki Haddock:

"If you're a liberal, here's what you can do to make Karl Rove a very happy man: Get yourself a labradoodle. Or any other kind of dog, for that matter. Even a cat will do.

Just don't have children.

That way you'll maintain a fertility gap that already is invisibly working to guarantee the political right will outnumber the left by an ever-growing margin.

Over the past three decades, conservatives have been procreating more than liberals -- continuing to seed the future with their genes by filling bassinets coast to coast with tiny Future Republicans of America."

Read the rest here.


Raw, adjective: 1. uncooked, as articles of food: a raw carrot.

In this first edition of what might just become an ongoing series, "Cool Hippie Shit that You Should Really Look Into," I give you:


Unprocessed! No added sugar! Soy, dairy and gluten free! Totally uncooked! Full of fiber and omega-6s! And delicious!

In all seriousness, these are the best things I've stumbled across in awhile. Fresh, tasty, easy to throw into your bag for the day. Full of dates and almonds and walnuts and cashews and such rich explosive flavor that you just about can't handle it. And great flavors, too: banana cookie, lemon bar, apple pie, cherry pie, chocolate coconut chew, pecan pie, cocoa mole, cinnamon roll, etc. These fit into the whole "raw" spectrum, in that they are totally unprocessed, etc., which means that they retain all the necessary digestive enzymes and whatnot that whole foods contain and which are usually destroyed in the cooking process. Check out the site for info - they do a great job of explaining all of the nutritional ins and outs. And the pictures are pretty, too.

Totally wonderful. And soooo good for you.

Lara Bar

Friday, November 17, 2006

Raw, Idiom: b. Informal. in the nude; naked: sunbathing in the raw

In a particularly busy week for the Vatican, Catholicism continues its steady march toward obsolescence...

First, by shooting down any hopes for lifting the celibacy requirements for the priesthood and thus ensuring that their numbers will continue to dwindle:

Second, by asserting, once again, that parishioners' sexuality is the one arena where it's just fine to discriminate, by completely disregarding the notion of whole personhood that the Church supposedly embraces.

Oh yeah, and also by reminding Catholics that artificial contraception is NOT ok. Hello, 1962!! And they wonder why they can't fill the pews. Unbelievable.

If you need something to wash that bad taste of religious disenchantment out of your mouth, I highly recommend checking out Christine Gudorf's "Body, Sex, and Pleasure." It's an easy-reading look at reconstructing Christian sexual ethics that doesn't come straight out of the 14th century. Then, go pop your birth control pill and march into your nearest Mass for communion. Rawr!

Happy Friday.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Random shit I wanted to post that has no feasible connection whatsoever to any definition of "rawness"

In today's vaguely "Waiting for Guffman"-themed post...

* Christopher Guest & crew have a new satire! And it opens tomorrow!! So pop in that worn copy of "A Mighty Wind" and sing along in honor of the latest brilliance coming our way.

* We've all seen/been in/cringed at that community theater production pulled straight from the B'way version or the Julie Andrews video from 1972. The NYTimes has an interesting mention of a case in which the creative team behind "Urinetown" is actually doing something about it. Those poor guys in Akron. Ouch. Bet they figured no one would ever notice. But the case does raise interesting issues of intellectual property...I didn't realize that there were already legal protections in place for choreography.

* And in unrelated, but breaking news of world importance, Clooney's been chosen People's Sexiest Man Alive for the second time.

First of all, 1) Duh, and second of all, 2) I'm glad they're taking note of his particularly politically-outspoken year (Darfur, Bush, Iraq, etc.) to reiterate to the People Magazine-reading masses that smart and politically opinionated = sexy. Yay George!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Raw, adjective: 4. painfully open, as a sore or wound

Last night I saw the (relatively new) film with Kate Winslet and Patrick Wilson, "Little Children." Whew. One-word review: unsettling. And gorgeous. I guess that's three words. Oh well.

The film's based on the novel by Tom Perrotta, known and loved around these parts for the brilliant "Election" (filmed in Omaha, of course). So you can trust that it's pretty much oozing anti-suburban angst and just general real-life malaise. Love it. In the tradition of suburb-skewering movies like American Beauty, Magnolia, etc., this one punctures that mythic idyll of suburban bliss from the get-go. And that, of course, is exactly why I love it.

Anyway - no need to bother you with plot or synopsis. It's better to let it unfold as it is. But I'll just say, per my three-word review of above:

1) "Unsettling," as in - wow, holy shit, adults are pretty much struggling to get their shit together and in so doing are just as lost as their little children. And as in, isn't it interesting how people continually try to locate the demons outside themselves (witness the abuse of the creepy yet rehabbed neighborhood sex offender here, who's treated as less than a person in that most black-and-white of fashions) when in fact that's just a tactic for avoiding the ones swirling around inside themselves. And as in, yikes, that ending.

2) "Gorgeous," as in - I think we might have, in Patrick Wilson, a challenger for the status of Resident Dreamboat (sorry, Nathan). I just have to give a shout-out to this guy in general for a) being generally hunkalicious, b) being a bona-fide cross-over star (hello, musical theatre - did you know he starred in Oklahoma and The Full Monty on Broadway and was nominated for Tonys for both?), and c) wearing that god-awful wig as Raoul in Phantom of the Opera. He should've won an Oscar just for being a good sport. Wilson's Brad is struggling to pass the bar exam after failing it twice. Every evening he trots off to the library to study, only to stop short at the basketball court and chill with the adolescent skateboarders instead. Feelin' your pain, bro. Feelin' your pain.

For the record, this film also has one of the more funny touch-football scenes I've seen in some time, complete with overlaid moaning and groaning. As well as a randomly hilarious cameo by "Slutty Kay." Sweet.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Raw, adjective: 7. brutally or grossly frank: a raw portrayal of human passions

One of my favorites: Andrew Wyeth, "Christina's World," 1948. Love the starkness, the period feel, the way you can feel the wind blowing. And the open sky and twisting grasses remind me of the prairie.

Incidentally, the Wyeths hailed from the southeastern part of Pennsylvania, not far from UD. Wish I would've spent more time digging into the collections while I was there.

Raw, adjective: 5. crude in quality or character; not tempered or refined by art or taste: raw humor.

Raw, adjective: 1. uncooked, as articles of food: a raw carrot.

Seems the theme of the day is food, and so, it makes sense to take a second to talk about the reason I'm really here in the first place.

For several years now I've been buried in research on holistic nutrition, anti-medical-establishment healing and just general hippie-granola wanky vegetarian shit. I've always been interested in the politics of food, not only in terms of ethics and grand global schemes, but also in terms of more microcosmic levels of interpersonal relations and how food plays a role in them. Being in San Francisco has, of course, been a boon to that, and such a blessing on many levels, in that the Bay Area is such a progressive place in terms of organic and regional produce, healthy lifestyles and just a general foodie mentality. But at this point, I am really seeing the various elements of my theoretical and social work coming together in the form of what we put into our bodies, and why, and how that affects our daily lives (and the future).

I was first introduced to the "raw food" lifestyle when I was living in the UK and doing a lot of reading in my downtime. Then, when I moved to Southern Spain and was living at a sustainable community there, one of its primary emphases was raw food and the ways in which a raw diet can potentially assuage all kinds of environmental, economic, political and physical problems. It was still fairly new to me at that point, but I was an eager learner, and after returning to the States to be with my father during his battle with cancer, I obviously had a new impetus for researching this stuff further. So I read everything out there in the hopes of easing Dad's pain, and learning what I could do to avoid being in the same situation myself thirty years down the road.

Long story short - after so much research and simultaneously witnessing remarkable changes in my own body and mind after several years of living this way myself, I'm sold on this shit - and as an environmentalist, a feminist, a social progressive and just someone who'd like to be around someday to meet my grandchildren, I really can't imagine finding a more ideal solution to so many of the current micro- and macro- problems we're having on a global level. Obesity, poverty, resource depletion, Big Pharma, Big Food, consumerism, the sexual, race and class politics of meat and of food consumption...all of it seems set to do battle with this radical (or not so radical, when you really look at it) new approach to eating and to nourishing ourselves and one another.

I'll leave it there for now. I'm knee-deep in several projects right now that will do a much more thorough job of explaining the politics and the theory and the simple practical reality behind this notion, and I have to say, I'm reaaallly excited about them. First, an article on the sexual politics of food and how given the body of work on feminist-vegetarianism, raw foodism emerges as the clear cut option for enacting a praxis of personal and political social ethics in the daily life of anyone who's interested in social justice at any level. And second, an article on Buddhism, the notion of "ahimsa" (non-suffering), materialism and non-consumption, and the hungry-ghost realm that also considers raw foodism as a hugely appropriate means of living in the world. And a few more side projects, as well, dealing with yoga and embodiment and a look at the notion of "nourishment" in the light of current political and social crises. Mmm!

It's exciting to see a lot of this ostensibly macrocosmic social theory coming together in the very tangible realm of food and consumption. I'm seeing so many threads of "nourishment" cohering here: physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, sexual, environmental, etc. And that feels inherently deviant in a culture that is so full of "empty calories," aka superficial bullshit that masquerades as deep or true or life-giving.

Anyway. More to come. In the meantime, a great book to look into if you're at all interested in the politics of food is "The Sexual Politics of Meat," by Carol J. Adams. A real barnstormer in the study of the sex, race and class dimensions of eating and who gets to eat what. We see this today in the connections between poverty, diabetes and obesity...and in so much more. Check it out.

Raw, adjective: 8. brutally harsh or unfair: a raw deal

Scientists have discovered a link between breast cancer and the consumption of red meat. C'mon, folks; I mean, really - are we surprised here??

Diet laden with red meat is linked to breast cancer (AP)

"Younger women who eat red meat regularly appear to face an increased risk for a common form of breast cancer, according to a large Harvard study of women's health.

The study of more than 90,000 women found that the more red meat the women consumed when they were in their 20s, 30s and 40s, the greater their risk for getting breast cancer fueled by hormones in the next 12 years. Those who consumed the most red meat faced nearly twice the risk of those who ate red meat infrequently....

The reason why red meat might increase the risk for breast cancer remains unknown, but previous research has suggested several possible reasons: Substances produced by cooking meat may be carcinogenic; naturally occurring substances in meat may mimic the action of hormones, or hormones farmers feed cows to make them grow bigger could fuel breast cancer in women who consume meat from the animals."

Full article here.

So, meat+dairy = free drugs! Free synthetic hormones! Free carcinogens! Good times.

(And yet, so many people still ask me if it's "hard" to be a vegetarian. Are you kidding me?!?)

Monday, November 13, 2006

Raw, noun: 12. a sore or irritated place, as on the flesh.

Out of nowhere, I am sick.

Really sick. Flu-sick. For the first time in what must be at least a year or two. Trying to trust that my body's telling me something here - maybe to draw in and take it easy today, after a busy and fairly sleepless weekend. With the rain continuing to pour outside and the day just growing colder by the hour, I don't mind the excuse to stay in. But my nose is raw-red-Rudolph-style. Ow.

Went to the opera the other night, and the evening's been resonating in my mind ever since. When you go to the opera, you generally know what to expect: stellar vocals, beautiful costumes, an excellent orchestra, and of course the sweeping scenery and gilt-domed beauty of the opera house itself. You don't, however, necessarily expect to find a lot of eye candy. It's the simultaneous charm and the disappointment of opera that the performers' aesthetics generally play second fiddle to their vocal prowess. And so sometimes - ok, often - that means the romantic male lead is played by, say, an obese hairy man in his 50s, albeit with a killer vibrato and a soaring range.

That's cool. No prob. I can go to the movies for the pretty boys.

So you can imagine my surprise on sitting down to "The Barber of Seville" and seeing the most gorgeous piece of eye candy zoom onstage in his 1940s red Vespa and strapping boots. Whoa mama goddess. Hello, Nathan Gunn. Google this man. Please. Because he's a stunner. A chiseled radiant uber-sexy young baritone with the most charismatic, self-possessed body language this side of Hugh Jackman. Talk about raw male beauty. Wow. I almost had to leave the room.

Needless to say, I was riveted. Opera sans eye candy will never be the same now. Unfortunately for me, Dreamboat Gunn is a) very much married, b) very much a father, and c) very much not based in San Francisco. So I'll have to fall back on my default, Mr. Clooney. Which is fine - George will do. But I'm just saying, if you ever get a chance to see this guy - take it. It's not often that you run across such a rare combination of stunning good looks, audacious ease of movement, and resonant vocal talent.

Now if I could just get the image of him swaggering around onstage out of my mind...

Friday, November 10, 2006

Raw, adjective: 2. not having undergone processes of preparing, dressing, finishing, refining, or manufacture

Thanksgiving's around the corner, and you know what that means! Time for my annual holiday missive on the wonders of consumer rebellion.

So here's your old girl Rach reminding y'all of a happy little holiday called Buy Nothing Day, this year on Friday, Nov. 26th (a.k.a., in other less subversive circles as "The Busiest Shopping Day of the Year"). I usually wait to say something till just a few days before, but this year I wanted to do it a little earlier so that you all have time to look into any culture jamming of your own happening in your own backyards.

So instead of rolling up to the mall at 3 a.m. to buy more plastic crap you don’t need, sleep late. Watch some football. Bake a pie. Read a book. Go for a walk. Make snow angels. Wake up! Do something real.

Take a day (or a lifetime) to speak out against the American mandate to consume, consume, consume. And remember that our lives are made rich not by the things we own, but by the people we do and the work we love. Or vice versa, if you prefer.

Some quick resources:

Buy Nothing Day UK
* A great site with lots of background on the environmental and political reasons we revolt against consumer culture for a day.

* Where it all began! Watch the site for updated posters, press materials and more info to come in the next week.

Wikipedia BND
* Some quickie background info.

Buy Nothing Christmas
* Make it a seasonal thing!

If you dig it…hit up yer local library for “Affluenza” by Degraaf/Wann/Taylor or “Culture Jam” by Kalle Lasn. You’ll be glad you did.

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Raw, adjective: 9. disagreeably damp and chilly, as the weather or air

So it's a raw day here in the City, fifty-some degrees and drippy, and I, in fact, am rather loving it. Cool breeze in the big bay window, the rustle of leaves outside, fresh coffee, and a morning to myself. Sorting out this new blog thing and secretly loving it, in spite of how much I'd like not to.

Life lately seems to be circling back upon this one certain theme. Raw food, raw music, raw edges, raw energy. It works. So we'll run with it. See where it takes us.



raw  [raw]

Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation adjective, -er, -est, noun

1. uncooked, as articles of food: a raw carrot.
2. not having undergone processes of preparing, dressing, finishing, refining, or manufacture: raw cotton.
3. unnaturally or painfully exposed, as flesh, by removal of the skin or natural integument.
4. painfully open, as a sore or wound.
5. crude in quality or character; not tempered or refined by art or taste: raw humor.
6. ignorant, inexperienced, or untrained: a raw recruit.
7. brutally or grossly frank: a raw portrayal of human passions.
8. brutally harsh or unfair: a raw deal; receiving raw treatment from his friends.
9. disagreeably damp and chilly, as the weather or air: a raw, foggy day at the beach.
10. not diluted, as alcoholic spirits: raw whiskey.
11. unprocessed or unevaluated: raw data.

12. a sore or irritated place, as on the flesh.
13. unrefined sugar, oil, etc.

14. in the raw,
a. in the natural, uncultivated, or unrefined state: nature in the raw.
b. Informal. in the nude; naked: sunbathing in the raw.

[Origin: bef. 1000; ME; OE hrēaw, hrǣw; c. D rauw, G roh; akin to L crūdus raw (see crude), cruor blood, Gk kréas raw flesh]