Wednesday, May 30, 2007

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

Ok, I'm all for technology, but this is just creepy.

Just when you were getting used to the potential for being spied on with its satellite maps, Google Maps has now introduced Street Views. Meaning: you can plug in any San Francisco address or intersection and get a frickin street-level view, and walk on down the street and turn corners and everything. This is fuckin scary. You can zoom right in and see in the goddamned windows if you want.

It looks like they must've taken a camera around the City at some point and saved the footage. Obviously I'm not going to link you to my home here (totally creepy to see your windows right...THERE, by the way), but if you wanna test this out and get a sense of the total weirdness that is Street View, hit up this link. It'll take you to a street shot of one of my favorite coffee shops, The Grove, which happens to be next to an equally great bar, Harry's on Fillmore. Play around with it a little - you can do a 360 degree turn if you want, you can frickin zoom in and check out the lattes those poor unassuming chicks out front are drinking, and you can almost read the writing on the menu there by the front door. WTF. Creepy.

I've got hours of playing with this shit to do. I mean, I could give you a shot-for-shot lowdown on any run I take. This is crazy. If you want another fun address to plug in, type in "Ferry Building, Embarcadero and Market, San Francisco". You'll get a good shot of Pier 1, the palm trees and what looks like a weekday Farmers' Market.

I think this is only in SF so far, but it's just a matter of time till it expands, I'm sure. Whoa mama. Is nothing sacred?

P.S. Happy First Birthday to my favorite little Chucky today!

Monday, May 28, 2007

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

This is hi-larious.

(Can I reiterate how much The Onion rocks my world?)

Scarier yet, I feel like I have heard parallel versions of this spiel in real life, from real people. Ay Dios mio.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

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

I really do love me some Anne Magill. Have had her stuff scattered around my place for several years now, and just can't get enough. Love the Hopper-esque quietude of her work, the way you never really see her subjects' faces, the way we're observing them, quietly, subtly, without intruding in any particular moment or way.

The distance, the remove, the vague sense of mystery; there's a vintage feel that suits this reverie vibe. And how can you not love the use of light and shadows, especially in that second one...?

It's a cool foggy Saturday afternoon here, and I'm getting some writing done, and listening to a symphony, and Magill's stuff feels perfectly suited to that.

Check her out. British artist, based in London. Contemporary stuff. Here, we've got "A Distant Wave" and "Saturday Afternoon." Cheers.

Friday, May 25, 2007

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

The other night I finally caught "The Lives of Others" (Das Leben der Anderen), which was, of course the Best Foreign Film Oscar winner back in March. It's been playing here in the City since the early part of the year, so I am pretty behind the times in finally catching it, but happily one of the local art houses has been running it since its win. And I've gotta say: wow. I'd heard good things from a few different people, but went in not knowing much else, and that's definitely the way to do it. What you think will be a terse political thriller (set in 1984 East Germany, five years before the fall of the Wall and very much in the old-school GDR grey-green paradigm) turns out to be a poignant rumination on humanity and the arts and fidelity and the compromises we make just to get through.

I don't want to reveal much else plot-wise, but it left me especially mindful of the role of the arts in making (and keeping) us human. The plot spins around a German playwright, sexy in that tousled open-collared spectacle-wearing tweedy sportcoat kind of way, and his actress girlfriend, also beautiful in a brunette Marlene Dietrich kind of melancholy Eastern European way. As the film weaves along we find them in the theater, at a cast party following, playing a sorrowful song on the piano as they mourn the death of a friend, him hard at work writing with colleagues and late-night at his writing desk, etc. And I found all those moments - the creating of art, the life of an artist, the watching the performances onstage and knowing and remembering that crackling feeling - really hitting home with me, reminding me of the way those artistic moments in my own life are what make me feel most human, most real, most alive, as well.

Don't feel like rhapsodizing any more this morning (It's Friday! Memorial Day weekend! Get your drink on!), but just have had the arts spinning in my consciousness a lot in the last week. I think I take it for granted that my family and friends make up such a fuckin incredible arts world, surround me with so many smart and creative and musical and artistic people. And I'm just feeling v. aware of the importance of that right now. Couldn't live without it.

On another note, Macarthur Maze re-opened last night (ahead of schedule), so Bay Area commuters will all be breathing a little more easily this weekend. And I've got Dostoevsky in hand, a quiet morning and a cup of coffee. So cheers to good thick writing and a chilly start to the day and strong coffee. Have a good weekend. And please drink gallons of margaritas.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

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

So, this season of The Bachelor finally wrapped up Monday night. Cheesy-but-upright Lt. Baldwin chose the chica we'd called out weeks ago (Tessa), who seemed to be one of the few with a) brains, and b) anything resembling spirit. (She is also, by the way, from San Francisco. Not a coincidence, folks! All the good chicks come to SF - what can I say?). Let the countdown to the inevitable break-up news release begin.

To fill the hollow hole in my heart that's resulted from the closure of this important matchmaking chapter (what will I do with the long empty Monday nights stretching ahead of me??), and to compensate for the soul-sucking vapidity that marked the several hours of life I lost to the Bach's drivel, I've decided to shift gears and dive into a summer romance with Fyodor Dostoevsky.

Like Marquez, somehow I managed throughout the course of my higher ed to never read anything by the Russian great. And this seems, well, slightly ridiculous, especially considering that he's known for his thoughts on religion, philosophy, and psychology (hello, my life), as well as his role as a kind of granddaddy to the modern Existentialists like Camus and Kafka (all of whom are, of course, my dears). I've been held rapt by this particular quotation of his scribbled on my wall for six months now: "Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid." So it's pretty much ridiculous that I haven't read his shit.

Think I'll begin with Notes from Underground (1864) (and that's not just because there's a cafe a few blocks away by the same name). I might just make it a Russian-themed June and roll into a little Tolstoy after hitting Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov...we'll see how much gets done...but I'm definitely game for any recommendations. In the meantime, thanks to the wonders of frickin Google, here are some tantalizing little tidbits that make me certain I am definitely going to love this dude:

* "If you wish to glimpse inside a human soul and get to know a man, don't bother analyzing his ways of being silent, of talking, of weeping, of seeing how much he is moved by noble ideas; you will get better results if you just watch him laugh. If he laughs well, he's a good man."

* "We sometimes encounter people, even perfect strangers, who begin to interest us at first sight, somehow suddenly, all at once, before a word has been spoken. "

* "What is hell? I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love."

* "For, after all, you do grow up, you do outgrow your ideals, which turn to dust and ashes, which are shattered into fragments; and if you have no other life, you just have to build one up out of these fragments. And all the time your soul is craving and longing for something else. And in vain does the dreamer rummage about in his old dreams, raking them over as though they were a heap of cinders, looking in these cinders for some spark, however tiny, to fan it into a flame so as to warm his chilled blood by it and revive in it all that he held so dear before, all that touched his heart, that made his blood course through his veins, that drew tears from his eyes, and that so splendidly deceived him!"

Ok, I'm feeling a little more absolved of the whole Bachelor thing already. Updates on my man Fyodor to come. Ciao.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

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

I have a new pose. And I'm slightly in love with it.

Enter Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (One-Legged King Pigeon Pose). It happened sort of organically a few weeks ago after yoga class, having settled into a good routine of finishing out the session in Taoist Pigeon (a modified version of this, when your chest and arms lie on the floor extended in front of you). I wanted more of a backbend, something else to open up my chest and neck (a.k.a the heart chakras) and deepen the thigh and hip stretches at the same time. And there it was.

It's an Advanced Pose, but if you have fairly good back flexibility and some loose hips you shouldn't have a problem doing it. The rush is amazing - full body, purple-colored, wild - and completely worth it. I'm officially addicted.

Three months on from the foot injury, my yoga practice is back to the usual 2 hrs/day Monday through Friday with two long runs on Saturday and Sunday. I feel at the top of my game again, especially combined with the emphasis on raw foods and lots of fruits for hydration. Wednesday I had my dental check-up and I am sooo happy to report no cavities and what the dentist described as really great bone density. This feels like a big HUZZAH! in support of the reality that you don't need to rely on dairy products for calcium. There are zillions of studies out there right now proving that the National Dairy Industry is in cahoots with the guys behind the Food Pyramid, and that so many of the reasons milk is supposedly sold as "good for us" lead back to subsidies and economic pressure from the milk producers. Talk about the social construction of reality!!! Studies show that leafy greens are the best sources of calcium, as opposed to the milk products which actually leach calcium from your bones. (I'll look for some of the references if you want the info). But in the meantime, I just feel super-validated to see the positive effects of living primarily raw vegan in my complexion and in my frickin BONES. Sweet, dude.

Bay to Breakers is Sunday, which, if you're not familiar with SF traditions, is one of the best, most "only in San Francisco" events here. Let's just say, it's a 12K involving lots of costumes, even more nudity, and even more kegs on wheels. Love it. Other than that, big Giants/A's across-the-bay rivalry last night in Oakland, which featured Zito crashing and burning against his old home team in his old coliseum for the first time. Poor guy.

Have a good weekend. And try some Pigeon if you're bored. I promise, you'll feel amazing.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Raw, adjective: 11. unprocessed or unevaluated

So Jerry Falwell has died. What a difficult kind of reaction to have to wrestle with. You never want to celebrate the loss of a human life, ever - remembering that that person, however controversial and frustrating his presence in the world might've been, had children, a wife, family, friends, people who will miss him desperately when he is gone.

But then you've got the same anger about all the bullshit he was responsible for. Pretty single-handedly charging up the religious right in American politics. Founding the Moral Majority. Making asinine connections between the Sept. 11 attacks and progressive ethics. Check out this old gem from the days following the Trade Center collapse, for instance:

"The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America, I point the finger in their face and say, 'You helped this happen.' "

I dunno what to say. So much of my own personal interests in radical theology and anti-religious activism come from the absolute bile guys like Falwell stir up, the ways they have convoluted reactionary socio-economic agendas with a supposed base in Christian faith, the complete co-optation of public dialogue on morality with some false notion of faith-based activism. And yet, he was just a guy, who had a family, who will miss him...

So what can you say?

Monday, May 14, 2007

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

Welcome to the Picture Extravaganza Edition. Enjoy it while it's hot, because you won't be getting this shit very often.

So Palm Springs it was over the weekend! Hilarious. The desert is an oasis of pastels and Tommy Bahama flowered shirts, obscenely tan older women and overpriced boutiques, rolling golf courses and blowing sand, and more golf bags at the airport baggage claim than you've seen in your life. And, of course, vast, vast wealth. What a sea change from the misty cool granola vibes of SF. Everything in Palm Springs is big and bright and ostentatious and suburban. Though I'll admit that I loved the Southwestern architecture and the ubiquitous clay roofs.

My co-worker (and buddy) Claudia and I flew down for this wedding for two of our friends for whom we have strangely and somewhat inaccurately been given credit for their getting together. Long story. Anyway, so we went for the weekend to partake in the revelry. Not only was it amazingly sunny and 100 degrees the whole time, we got killer tans, sat by the pool, read cheesy shit, ate stellar food, drank delicious champagne, and - oh yes - drove around the whole weekend in a ridiculous brand new red Mustang convertible. What can I say - it was fab.

The desert outside of the Mustang window at full speed. Hello, tumbleweeds! Every street there is named after some obscure local son: Gene Autry Trail, Kirk Douglas Drive, etc.

Claud rockin' the shades at the stoplight on the way to Indio. We turned lobster-red in the span of minutes.

The golf course (right in La Quinta, where all the big guys like Arnold Palmer play) at sunset, following the ceremony. We stood, sipped champagne, watched them walk in on a carpet of rose petals, and sweated. It was gorgeous. And almost enough to silence the most vocal of wedding critics (er, Yours Truly). Tear. **Oh yeah, and we hung out with a certain ballplayer's sister (he happens to be a smokin' hot new lefty pitcher for the Giants whose name rhymes with "mosquito" - and who bought his new 10-million dollar house in the Marin Hills from Jim, the groom). This was a little bit exciting. Just a little bit. I'm still trying to decide if it was appropriate or not to propose marriage to him via his big sis.

Tired, sunburned, and busting out the Palm Springs hottness at the airport this morning.

So, you didn't really get any of me, and, that being deliberate, of course (I hate pics!), I'll add one more since I'm feeling nice. Picked up some poolside reading on the way down - Gabriel Garcia Marquez, "Memories of My Melancholy Whores" - and once again, am loving it. A friend once described his stuff as decidedly "below-the-belt," and I think of that whenever I return to it. Sensual and earthy and real and body-rich. Good shit. Check it.

And thus ends the Palm Springs adventure. I will remember the wind whipping my hair in that convertible for a long time. And the way that goddamned song ("take a look at my girlfriend, something something something" blah blah blah) kept coming on the radio every two minutes. But I've gotta say, it's nice to throw on a scarf here at home in the chilly SF evening again. Ahh.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

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

Hey hey. Good morning.

Not the most blogorific week ever, eh? Combination of factors, really. It's been so out-of-control beautiful outside, the last thing I can do is sit in front of a computer. Which is, of course, not boding very well for my writing, either. Spring is intoxicating, and I feel drunk. What can you do?

Other than that, just lots of Real Life stuff going on here, hence the silence. There's much out there to potentially discuss - the ongoing exploits of The Bach (down to 3 "ladies"), Paris Hilton's jail term (there is a God!), the rumors that Britney Spears was supposed to play around the corner at the neighborhood indie rock venue, the Warriors' pursuit of the Jazz (so far unsuccessful - but we have high hopes for Friday evening and a home game at Oracle Arena). And I've just read that Tony Blair's revealed he'll step down in mid-summer, as well. Cue all the long articles about his legacy. I'm intrigued by the guy - have you seen Helen Mirren's "The Queen?" You should, if only for the interesting portrayal of Tony Blair that carries half the film.

There's more going on this weekend. A few grad school friends are in town from all parts and it's one big reunion - sweet. And then, Saturday, KFog Kaboom, a big outdoor concert under the Bay Bridge right by the ballpark, one of my favorite annual events, followed by fireworks set to rock music. I look forward to this every year and am sad to say that I won't be around this year to chill under the stars (especially because Guster is playing - oh, man!). But the good news is I'll be spending a hot weekend in SoCal just outside of Joshua Tree National Park in Palm Springs for a wedding. More on that when I return - I'm even taking a camera (shocking for this camera-hater) and have loaded up my lightest white linen trousers and sunblock for the dry desert heat and the perpetual sunshine. Pretty excited. I'll see what I can do for some pics next week if they come out well.

Anyway, keep cheering for the Warriors and have a good Thursday. Ciao.

Monday, May 7, 2007

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

San Francisco, CA
Monday, May 7th
90° / 55°

It's dazzlingly gorgeous. I'm living at the beach. See you when the sun goes down.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

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

Did you hear that Conan O'Brien's filming in SF all this week? Everybody's buzzing about it. Market Street's been full of people standing in line for tickets all week. He'll do two more shows tonight and tomorrow before wrapping it up and heading back. I haven't caught much of his schtick myself, but there are two hilarious video clips here that you should definitely check out. Click on the ones that say "San Francisco Tour Pt. 1" and "Pt. 2." Among other things, Conan does tai chi with the old Chinese ladies in the park (a common sight in the morning, wherever you are in the City) and hunts down the famous Victorian from Full House. Hilarious. Anyway, many of the places and streets you see are my regular sights on the way to work, going for a run, walking downtown, or whatever. Gives you a nice little view of the City.

Hopefully if the Warriors can finally seal the deal tonight we'll have even more to feel a little cheesy civic pride about. Come on, guys!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

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

Being the diehard Karl Marx groupie that I am, I can't help but take a second to point out that today, May Day, is less about Maypoles or May baskets and more about workers' rights and the international labor movement. In pretty much every country but the US (and Canada, I think?), Labor Day is celebrated on the 1st, in honor of the Haymarket martyrs of 1886 and the labor riots that followed. Commies and pinkos across the world are marching, chanting and demonstrating today in support of workers' rights and general solidarity.

So here's a shout-out to my man Karl and his legacy of awareness of the rights of the proletariat - the little guys, the cogs, who make the big machines run and keep the superstructure afloat. If you want to read a fab little bit on Marx from a site on European intellectual history (c'mon, embrace the dorkdom and just run with it), go here for the goods. This guy's work is the foundation of pretty much all of my own academic work tying together commodification, sexuality, capital, the body and notions of salvation and redemption. (I might need a cold shower after that link. Whew.)

Today they're having big marches in both Oakland and SF in the name of immigration rights. Just last week Gavin reiterated that SF will be a place of sanctuary for illegal aliens. This is very cool. Go Gav.

So take a breather between Maypole dances to send out good vibes to the people showing solidarity on behalf of the little guys today. Karl would approve.