Friday, March 30, 2007

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

Been thinking a lot about hospitals and shit.

More specifically, health insurance and cancer, really. I woke up the other day to find two of the top headlines to be Elizabeth Edwards's renewed battle with what is apparently a treatable but incurable cancer, and Tony Snow's difficult revelation that his colon cancer has his liver...which anyone who knows cancer knows is pretty much the death knell. Those two sobering bits of news were enough to remind me how prevalent (and fucking scary) cancer is in general - and how foolish and frustrating it is to have oncologists tell sufferers they are "cancer-free," because the shit inevitably comes back, sans some major lifestyle changes.

I just refuse to believe that this pervasive disease has to be normal, though. There are a lot of naturopaths who decry the fact that dying of cancer has come to seem so inevitable. This pathology really is, at its base, a product of too many toxins - put simply, when we put the kinds of poisons in our bodies that we do on a daily basis (e.g. alcohol, chemicals from exhaust fumes and whatnot, pollutants in the air, weird hormones and steroids from animal products, etc.) it's no wonder those mutate into malignant cells. And I do believe we have it in us to do something in this moment to prevent cancer ten years down the road. But, god, it's hard - it's really hard - to drink carrot juice instead of wine, or eat spinach instead of ice cream.

I'm really trying myself right now to be 100% about living well, and it's not easy, for sure. But then I read stories like Edwards' and Snow's, and they're so YOUNG (early 50s!), and they have young kids, and it breaks my heart. It's hard not to feel hopeless about things like cancer, especially when you have known people who've lost the battle after a back-breaking struggle. And at this point, who hasn't?

Anyway, on that slightly melancholy note, there was also an interesting article in this morning's Chron about health insurance and how outrageous it is that the US is so far behind on securing universal health insurance. I know I've got health shit on the brain post-injury but it's an eye-opening article nonetheless. "Uninsured patient billed more than $12,000 for broken rib"

And on a happier note, yesterday I lost myself in the echoing silence of the MoMA and its new Marden/Picasso exhibits. And holy schnikes. Killer shit. Marden's "The Muses" and "Nebraska" stood out; as did several of the large-scale Pollocks and de Koonings that were part of the Picasso exhibit. Marden's green-bluesy palette really rocked my world. As did his clear Greek and Asian influences - very light-reliant, very nature-inspired, very Zen in some serene, calming kinds of ways. Here's an article from the NY Review of Books when the exhibit was in NYC that gives some great background: "Journey From 'Nebraska'" Check it, dude.

(Brice Marden, Study for the Muses (Hydra Version), 1991-95/1997; Private Collection, New York; © 2006 Brice Marden/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.)

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Raw, adjective: 11. unprocessed or unevaluated

I vacillate wildly between loving Jack Vettriano's stuff and cringing at the sometimes crass and too-sharp colors and corners of his work. This particular painting, however, has always made my heart stop.

Vettriano is a contemporary Scottish painter whose training is apparently outside of the academy and who has come to be one of Scotland's top-selling artists. You've probably run across "The Singing Butler" here or there: you know, the couple dancing on the beach, the umbrella, etc. "In Thoughts of You" (early 90s) strikes me as so much more contemplative, and that's of course why I love it; well, that and the morning light in the window, and the way we can't see her face because she's lost in her thoughts, and the fact that it just sends out this very quiet vibe of early-day silence. I read somewhere that the room in the painting is modeled after Vettriano's studio in his Georgian townhouse in Edinburgh, and it made me smile to remember the gorgeous, creaky, mouse-infested 18th c. flat overlooking the park from my days there, too. I spent a lot of early mornings staring out the window like that with a cup of coffee in hand.

Anyway. Good morning. Enjoy the silence before the world wakes up.

Monday, March 26, 2007

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

Thoughts I have thunk lately:

1) Did you know Burgundian reds will always be pinot noirs? Or that the Sonoma Coast makes great crisp, light whites because of the cool breezes coming off the water? Or that the word "meritage" is pronounced not with some frou-frou faux French accent, but that it rhymes with "heritage?" I didn't either, but now I do. Thanks to my little wine-studying-mission of late. More to come on that when I finish today's lesson on red zins (state wine of California, thank you very much).

2) Tourist season has begun. Riding the cable car the other day, it was teeming with Japanese tourists wielding very expensive cameras. Sigh.

3) Will Ferrell is fuckin hilarious. It's cold and windy and pouring down rain and I have a quiet day off that I just spent with Ron Burgundy of "Anchorman." Jesus. The man is just brilliant. The whole foot drama of the last six weeks gave me many opportunities to get to know Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller and Will Ferrell, et al, much, much better, and I've gotta say: they're charming the pants off me. Cheers, boys. I'm glad you exist. And that you're so shamelessly willing to wear so many bad mustaches in the name of comedy.

4) Happy birthday to my old friend Sarah manana.

5) Macaroni and cheese, while very not raw, is very delicious.

6) Big Vivienne Westwood exhibit over at the DeYoung for awhile, just opened a week or so ago. Good shit, lots of edgy British fashion through the years. Check it out. Also, Brice Marden and Picasso/American art at the MoMA. Go.

7) I think Al Gore should run for President after all. There was an article the other day (on Slate, maybe?) that said: watch his waistline, because if he's going to run, he'll drop the weight; if not, forget it. So keep yer eyes on the belt.

8) Maybe I don't mind the rain after all. This shit is really cozy.

9) Think it might be time to get a dog. More to come on that.

10) I cannot wait for March 30th to see "Blades of Glory." This curly-haired afro Will Ferrell/Jon Heder publicity tour is killing me with anticipation. Have you SEEN the PR for this shit? Hilarious.

11) Why do men grow goatees? Don't they know, don't they just know in that deep, deep intuitive knowing that resonates way down in their cores, that goatees make even the most very very attractive men, well, un-? Sigh. Guys, if you will, a primer: shaven, scruffy, bearded = hot; goateed = hell no.

Hell no.

Friday, March 23, 2007

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

Best pick-up line ever...

So I'm walking down the sidewalk just north of my flat headed home and this kid, maybe 19, who could easily be Kevin Federline's little brother, rolls up next to me. He's rockin' the sideways baseball cap and the basketball shorts; I'm hiding behind my Jackie O sunglasses and trying to hobble up the stairs somewhat gracefully.

Little K-Fed is all: "Hey."

I throw off a terse "Hi," as in "Leave me alone, schoolboy - can't you see I'm way too cool for you?"

There's a beat. He does the up and down check-out move. And then: "Happy International Women's Month."

And as the door slams behind me: "Can I call you??"

(Way to work the pseudo-feminist angle to get some ass, honey. You will go far, my dear, very far.)

Monday, March 19, 2007

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

Sitting at home this chilly afternoon waiting for the delivery guys to ring my bell announcing the arrival of my brand-spankin' new cigar chair. It's pretty damn sweet; reeks of Hemingway and dimly-lit smoky rooms. They're supposed to be here sometime between 1 and 6, and in the meantime, I have successfully scrubbed my floor, read the paper, drank a cup (or 3) of coffee, and run the dishwasher. I feel so frickin productive.

Since the foot is still a little bit gimpy, I've been seeing a lot of movies lately. Finally have "An Inconvenient Truth" in the DVD player for later today, which makes me feel like I'll finally be doing my civil duty and seeing this global warming-fest featuring my man Al Gore. I'm a little afraid I'll be so depressed after seeing it that the rest of the night will = fetal position under the covers. But oh well.

But yesterday, I saw the new Chris Rock movie, "I Think I Love My Wife," spurred on by surprisingly positive reviews, and I've gotta say, it really was good. Thought-provoking, kind of hilarious, class- and racially-aware, as of course Chris Rock's shit generally is, and just worth seeing. Not a lot of "action," per se, but some spot-on observations about marriage and divorce and singlehood and the whole bourgeois American dream myth. Rock's character has it all: hot wife, adorable kids, sweet job in Manhattan, beautiful suburban home - and yet, the problem is, as he says: "I am so fucking bored." And, also, not getting laid.

Just honest, funny, real (well, "buppie real") shit. Not super thrilled that it ends with Rock's character pretty much just reconciling to a life of boredom and sexlessness versus something less stable and more invigorating, but what do you expect in a mainstream flick? And at least it does a decent job of showing the gray spaces in between.

Ok. 3:03, still no delivery man. Come on, guys!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

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

Shaun TC alert!

Opened my morning Chronicle today to find a big article on Altar Boyz accompanied by two stellar photos featuring our good buddy TC himself. I would love to steal the photos and post them, but instead of doing so and getting sued, just go here to see the evidence.

Shaun, so proud of you!

The show is running here (starting yesterday) as part of the national tour, and I think it's here through early April. Won't be the same sans our boy TC (who's still with the NYC cast), but I think I'll have to hit it again anyway with a few of my fellow PK's in tow. Hilarious. Definitely check it out if you are around.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

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

Well, my dears, it is officially spring here in the City, and you know what that means: SUNSHINE!

It's been mid-seventies and sunny all week, completely pristine, and the rain finally decided to leave as soon as the longer days hit. Which is, of course, my cue to spend every possible waking hour in the sun, hence the lack of posts. I tell ya, there is certainly something intangible about those first few blasts of vitamin D after a grey winter.

I'm trying but failing right now to upload a gorgeous pic of Grace Cathedral and Huntington Park which, being a hop-skip-and-a-jump from my place tends to be my haunt on days like these (computer issues, sorry). Old Chinese grandmas doing tai chi, young beefcake types jumping rope shirtless, couples passed out on blankets, and more dogs than you could ever hope for. All accompanied by the regular clanging of the Cable Car, which of course passes right by every few minutes. I take my "research" up there and spread out on an old flowered sheet, and it's pretty much perfect.

Add to this the fact that the walking boot will probably come off by the end of the week, and I'm a content piece of work. Tomorrow's the one-month mark of injuring my foot, and it's definitely not been the best few weeks of my life, but this springtime sunshine certainly helps things. Now, I can look forward to a few good runs in the sun in a few weeks, if things continue to heal well.

In the meantime, in accord with the rush of spring weather, I've been really getting into the Ayurvedic senses of the seasons and the energy and whatnot that comes with that shift. Here's a good article from Yoga Journal if you want to catch a little more about the yogic and nutritional and whatnot aspects of this time of year.

Now, it's back outside I go. Cheers.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Raw, adjective: 9. disagreeably damp and chilly, as the weather or air: a raw, foggy day at the beach

Saw this new play last night and I can't decide how I feel about it.

The Berkeley Rep has a solid reputation for hosting some stellar artists and some intriguing new premieres. Last summer I saw Rita Moreno take a turn as the mother in Tennessee Williams' "The Glass Menagerie" there, and it was out of this world. They generally take some big risks in a city where the smarty-pants audience members will actually appreciate those risks.

So this month they're running the world premiere of a new quasi-musical adaptation of Virginia Woolf's "To the Lighthouse." Great novel, of course; lyrical and lovely and heartbreaking in Woolf's classic stream of consciousness style. But it's such an interior format that it's hard to imagine transitioning that into a play. The results are successful aesthetically: beautiful period costumes, effective lighting, some good set ideas and interesting use of mirrors to kind of magnify that Impressionistic sense of the work. And the string quartet was simply gorgeous.

But I have to say, otherwise: disappointing. The singing - eh, not so much. A little too brassy, and a little too out-of-left-field. The adaptation was definitely made in the most well-intentioned spirit, and a lot of lines came through that I recognized verbatim from the novel itself, but if I hadn't known the book already, I think I would have been, well - left in the dark. Bad pun intended.

If you're a Virginia fan, it's worth checking out. Apparently it was a big enough premiere that the Times took care to review it. You can find that review, and the Chron's, below. I'm glad to see that both reviewers pinpointed the problematic balance of failure and success that the production seems to have found.

Times review
Chron review

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

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

Ok, children. Today's lesson is about reading.

Yup, reading. Got lots of book-ish shit on the mind lately. First of all, did you see here that critics are looking to shut down the Pizza Hut-sponsored Book-It program in elementary schools?

Let me be forthcoming here. I was, like, the Book-It Queen of Hillcrest Elementary School. A rockstar in her own right. Slamming down the books, adding gold stars everywhere, until that magical day when the personal pan pizzas would come right at me. This was undoubtedly the highlight of my elementary school years. For any little girl whose interior world consisted solely of Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Babysitters Club, it was like manna from heaven.

So you can see why it pains me to see that they're calling for the end of this program. I can't argue, their critiques are right on target: it is definitely seriously fucked up to mix commercialism and junk food with an incentive to read. I agree wholeheartedly with everything they're saying. But at the same time, I traded books for pizza and ended up just fine. And god knows it's harder and harder now in this new media age to get kids to read. So I say, let's turn a blind eye and let the Pizza Hut presence continue. For the kids! And for all those unloved books withering in the library!

And speaking of libraries, big article about a massive shutdown in Oregon due to a mixture of reasons, but in part because of Congressional funding being cut. What the hell. We can spend billions in Iraq chasing after apparitions but we can't fund a few little old lady librarians who just wanna teach the kids how to read? This hurts my heart.

Bottom line is, I don't care how smart you are; you are missing something if you are not able to read, or if you don't really enjoy it. I know plenty of people who hate to read, and well, to be honest, they're missing out. As long as you've got a book, you'll never be lonely, wherever you might be. Seriously.

So go read a book. Now. And then eat a pizza, if you must.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Raw, adjective: 11. unprocessed or unevaluated

So Ricky Williams is apparently doing yoga now to get over his little, uh, pot problem.

The Chron had an article yesterday (good pics - check 'em out) about how Mr. Ricky is spending his off-season time in Grass Valley (heh heh, get it, "Grass Valley") living in a simple wooden house with his fam and studying yoga and yogic theory. I can't tell if he's really completely genuine about all this or if he's just drinking the water, but either way, I love these articles that come out now and then completely astonished that a) you can reconcile a training regimen of yoga and weight-lifting, and b) that - goshdarnit! - yoga is HARD! Whaddya know?! Somehow the media never tires of contrasting these big hulking guys with the stereotypical willowy yogini you'd expect.

The article's here if you wanna see Ricky doing a little Plough by a lake.

Also, March 2nd. How'd that happen? I feel like the last two weeks disappeared in some Bermuda Triangle of couch-sitting and clock-watching and waiting for the foot to heal. The walking boot is still rocking my world, and as much as I'm still impatient at not being full speed yet, it's great to be able to amble around again. In search of martinis.

There's been a man outside a block or so down wailing some loud sad song for the better part of an hour. In spite of the fact that he's probably insane (the sun's not even up, man!), he has a remarkably good voice, kind of like the husky textured sound you'd picture wailing at an Irish wake or something. It's really bizarre, and kind of wonderful.

San Francisco for you. Instead of roosters at dawn, we've got Crazy Dudes serenading the streets. I'm in love.