Monday, June 30, 2008

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

Ok, so I've never been able to stand those insipid cheesy-ass Reader's Digest-style columns about the wisdom of children and how much we can learn from toddlers and all that shit. Trite cliched crap. I don't wanna hear it. Makes me want to chain-smoke and drink a bottle of Scotch.

That said, Lulu.

She's my girl. Her mother and I, both Nebraska girls from back in the day, inadvertently discovered each other here in San Francisco out of the blue a few years ago. She and her husband live not far from me over in Cow Hollow. Lulu was born in February, making her an ancient almost-5-months now. She and I hang out afternoons now and then so that her mama can get out and about, go for a run here and there, you know, when dad's out of town for work.

So here's the part where I eat crow. In spite of all that about Scotch and cigarettes -- I'm crazy about this little heartbeat beating next to mine.* She's soft and tender and trusting and fearless; she tucks her head into this strange lady's chest and burrows in. (I think it's just the boobs, but oh well. I'll take what I can get.)

Being with Lulu is like some crash course in Buddhist meditation. She brings all these transcendental ideas that I read about in theory - the learning to sit still, being present in the moment, slowing the mind, calming the breath - into materiality. Everything suddenly becomes very simple: no more lists, no more rushing here and there, no more trying to kill six birds with one stone in one afternoon. The perpetual multi-tasking goes out the window. You breathe, and eat, and sleep, and move slowly and deliberately so as not to tweak the squeaky floorboard that leads into her nursery. You turn your phone to silent mode and sit with her sighing on your shoulder and she sleeps and the sunlight moves across the room and the air gets slow and heavy and the clock ticks and she breathes and you breathe and the hours pass and that, my friends, is meditation.

Zen teacher Norman Fischer has a killer excerpt in the Shambhala Sun I mentioned the other day. When I read his article this afternoon while Lulu slept, I thought of her immediately:
Zen meditation is just this simple, childish practice. Just sitting, just breathing, being with whatever arises, but then letting go and coming back to just sitting and breathing, trusting that being alive in the body, the breath, the mind, and the heart is enough. Being content not to know, but simply to be present with life as it appears.

* Um, also, I'm getting really strong arms from hefting around a little 18-pound tank.

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

This morning I woke up to find Nob Hill blanketed in fog. My heavy eyelids and heavier head stumbled into the kitchen pantry in pursuit of that morning cup of comfort, only to find an empty container with a few teasing grounds, not even close to enough for one pathetic cup. In yesterday afternoon's adventures I'd forgotten to pick up another bag of grounds at the Ferry Building. So here I was, groggy, exhausted, craving that rich warm java smell filling up my flat on a cold and foggy Monday morning off, and there was nothing. Torture!

So I threw on a wraparound sweater and pulled a cloche low over my eyes and trudged out to the corner market for some java. Threw down some cash, plodded back up the hill (so much steeper sans-caffeine), cracked it open and poured some into the waiting filter. And voila! Breathing again.

Serious drama at the coffee-less Rach household this morning. So it was only appropriate to hit up Salon for my morning fix and find this little interview about Michaele Weissman's newish book on specialty coffee, God In A Cup. Love it. The article's a little high-maintenance for my tastes; I mean, who really gives a shit about these frou-frou $130 beans? But Weissman's talk of third waves and craft and aromatics and whatnot is interesting nonetheless. Not unlike the doting attention given to wine in these parts. And Weissman addresses the problematic question of whether Fair Trade is really so fair after all.

For me, good coffee is less about the bitterness or aroma or whether the beans were shipped in from Guatemala this morning or ground before my eyes ten seconds ago; it's more about the moment and the place and the scent and the memory; the jagged edge of the mug from that cafe in Vienna where Marx used to write with Engels, or the tattered paper cup from the gas station in Illinois where I used to stop for a midnight jolt when doing the long drive from Nebraska to Delaware, or the lingering French Press at that dimly-lit restaurant after dinner with that mysterious man, name long forgotten, or the Folgers Instant Brew sipped hungrily in the weak light of an Edinburgh morning reading the Guardian while the mice scurried along the baseboards, or now, the early ritual that starts my day with quiet and reading and a splash of cold soy as I look ahead to what's coming in the next several hours and catch up on the news from the world.

Wish I didn't love it like I do. But I do. So bring on the java.

Good to the Last Drop (

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Raw, idiom: 14a. in the natural, uncultivated, or unrefined state: nature in the raw.

I picked up the July issue of Shambhala Sun the other day and have been carting it around religiously, trying to wade through a particularly dense issue in stolen moments on apartment stoops and park benches and bus stops. This month's issue is devoted to questions of yoga and Buddhism, the dharma of body and mind, the ways in which the two ancient traditions interweave and complement one another. As you can imagine, I'm hooked.

Tucked in amongst the talk of asanas and meditations, though, is a little gem of a reverie from writer Pico Iyer. I've always enjoyed what little I've read of Iyer, and this particular piece, "My Private Cineplex," is a melancholy rumination from Japan on seasons and nature and change and moods and minds and writing and death and impermanence and what remains. And in that, it captures so many of the Buddhist themes - transience and change, non-attachment, mindfulness, a witness consciousness - that the rest of the issue speaks more deliberately. The piece isn't available online, so all I can do is direct you to this link for excerpts from several features of the issue itself.

But here's a little taste of Iyer's haunting prose:
The skies are high and warm and brilliant in the autumn, even in early December; the parks are full of gold and yellow and scarlet. The warmth is deceiving, and yet everything is deceiving, because it's all contradicted by everything else around it. The season cannot be quite as renewed and buoyant as the skies suggest; you can feel the sting of cold in the air. And yet it can't be as elegiac as you suppose either, because the leaves are giving off their richest, most generous colors as they fall. You don't know whether to feel happy or sad, which means that it's a choice, in part - and besides, the seasons will keep turning, the colors will keep flaring, the branches will soon be bare again, and everyone will be covered up, whether you want them to be or not.

It doesn't have anything to do with you.

Pick it up. And breathe deeply.

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

So this is either true devotion or truly pathetic: take your pick.

B and I were on the horn yesterday because ticket sales opened for the hot! new! world premiere! musical theater version of Little House on the Prairie, that beloved staple of our goldenrod-colored, blue-skied South Dakota youth. And I'm embarrassingly thrilled to admit that after several hours of busy signals, B snatched up a few prime seats for the show in late August. So instead of planning some exotic trip to Fiji or Botswana for the dog days of summer, I'll be spending one sizzling weekend in Minneapolis at the Guthrie with bonnets and covered wagons and Ma and Pa Ingalls. The sisters and I are pathetically excited.

The Guthrie's great, of course, for hot new theater; if I remember correctly, I think The Lion King debuted there before transferring to Broadway for its run under Julie Taymor. The cast looks stellar, the production team top-caliber, and the source material strong and rich (naturally). And did you see that Melissa Gilbert herself (Laura from the Michael Landon-era TV series of our youth) will be playing Ma Ingalls this time around? Talk about full circle. I love it.

Go here to the Guthrie for dishy details. And I'll see you in Minneapolis in August.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

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

Excellent article in this week's Yoga Journal newsletter about the yoga of money. Part of what I have come to love about yogic philosophy is its ability to transcend the body and the asanas themselves and spill over into every other aspect of living well. This is a great example of that.

Yogic ethical precepts like ahimsa (non-suffering) and aparigraha (non-grasping, or greedlessness), along with ideals of self-awareness and balance all come into play when you start thinking about the way you consume, what causes (or cruelties) you inadvertently fund through your lifestyle, and what you can do to better live consciously and peacefully, whether it's in relation to how you pay the rent or what you do to support local producers.

A nice application of some of Patanjali's key yogic concepts as related to dollars and cents.

The Yoga of Money (YJ)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

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

After all this time,
The sun never says to the earth,
"You Owe Me."
Look at what happens
With a love like that,
It lights the whole sky.

~~ 12th c. Persian poet Hafiz, "The Sun Never Says"

(And that's Klimt again, detail from Sea Serpents II, c. 1907)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

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

Being so serious about my yoga practice of late has meant a natural and concomitant increase in my raw food intake, as well. One sort of comes with the other; the more raw and hydrated and healthy I am, the better and stronger and more flexible my yoga becomes. So it just sort of happens that I haven't really had much sugar or white flour or cheese or whatnot in, well, a really long time. And I feel, well, terrific. Beyond terrific.

So yesterday I ended up having ice cream AND mashed potatoes and what-have-you, and today I feel literally hungover. Foggy head and tired heavy eyes and slow lethargic body. I can't believe the direct difference. It's like a frickin science experiment. I woke up thrilled to dive into a half a cantaloupe and get back to the clear-headed buzzing mad-healthy place I've been steadily occupying of late.

Anyway, so I dropped some serious bucks the other day at Whole Paycheck loading up my basket with some new novelty foods I discovered from Roxanne's. If you're not familiar with Roxanne Klein, she was one of the first well-known faces of the whole raw food movement five or six years ago. She ran a very hot (and now-defunct) raw restaurant in Larkspur with her husband and now since January has rolled out a line of packaged goodies sold at Whole Foods in California (and hopefully eventually across the country).

I picked up two boxes of delicious-looking little snacks called "Vanilla Raw Energee" (ahem), and a Chocolate version as well. They do kind of look like, um, mouse food, like the kind you put in the corner by the baseboards to catch little vermin running around your old house, but they taste amazing and pack a punch; I've been throwing a few in a Ziploc bag and snacking on them evenings when I bartend, and they're perfect sustainable energy to get me through 6 or 7 hours when I'm usually wilting from hunger.

Check out these ingredients: sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, goji berries, pumpkin seeds, cashews, coconut, honey, vanilla, maca, mesquite, chia seeds. Note how many (all?) of those foods are listed as superfoods in lists of the World's Healthiest Foods (see link to the lower right, for instance). And they taste so rich and delicious. Such a better alternative to the rush and crash of sugar or even grains that will wreak havoc with your blood sugar.

Link below to a 2002 article from the Chron when Roxanne's was still running; it's good for background info and some basics on raw foods, as well. Then, a link to Roxanne's current website with further details on the delish offerings you can pick up at your California Whole Foods stores.

Shangri-La in the Raw (SFGate)

Monday, June 23, 2008

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

After a tropical weekend rife with margaritas and mojitos and total bodily exhaustion, it's Monday and the wind's cold again and the fog rolled in this morning and it's not going anywhere. And I'm wearing two shirts and a hoodie and dodging the chill tucked into the front bay window, and it's winter-summer again in San Francisco. And I'm glad to be nowhere but here.

Did you see this piece in this morning's Wall Street Journal? I don't usually read the WSJ, but this is an interesting spin on the whole Planned Parenthood phenomenon from a more business-oriented, branding kind of angle. Somehow, in spite of (or perhaps because of?) the sexual education armageddon that has been the Bush Jr. presidency, Planned Parenthood sounds like it's doing amazingly well. Glory hallelujah is about all I have to say about that.

Anyway, the WSJ points to some new growing pains as PP sorts out a balance between business and branding, suburbia and urbanity, poverty and affluence. How does it remain that last bastion for women (and men) who "literally have nowhere else to go" while garnering most of its funding from the increasing numbers of insured clients who pop in for an STD test at the strip mall on the way to pick up tomatoes at the Safeway and videos at the Blockbuster next door?

Fascinating angle on the gentrifying of Margaret Sanger's original defender of sexuality and sexual health.

Planned Parenthood Hits Suburbia (WSJ)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Raw, idiom: 14a. in the natural, uncultivated, or unrefined state: nature in the raw.

Ok, people:

It's officially the first day of summer and I've got musicals on the brain and Rodgers and Hammerstein are the underlying accompaniment to everything because it's sunny and insanely gorgeous and the tree out front is heavy with blooms and Billy Bigelow's singing a soliloquy everywhere I turn and the wind is hot at night, even here in this cold city, and Rod Alexander's choreography here is crazy athletic and inspired (he's so good with men!) and also I'd forgotten they're shirtless in this clip and there are also ladies doing can-can kicks in skirts on a roof and Gordon MacRae has a voice from the gods and it's the longest day of the year, yes ma'am, right here, right now, and for all of those reasons in addition to the pink hydrangeas swooning on my coffee table right now, I just have one thing to say: June Is Bustin' Out All Over

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

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

Quickly, a couple of things:

I was headed downtown this morning shortly before 9 and happened to walk through Civic Center, completely forgetting that City Hall would be a melee of news trucks and radio stations and rainbow flags and beaming couples. My reservations about marriage hold for homosexual hitchings as much as they do for heterosexual ones, but I've gotta admit: it made me grin.

Saw some of the cutest, proudest, most excited couples: dads wearing Hawaiian shirts carrying kids wearing Hawaiian shirts ready to get hitched, sixty-ish Asian women taking their wedding pictures, a couple of bearded bears in suits, a waltzing lesbian couple. Some dude was just standing on the steps waving an enormous rainbow flag. And there were no protesters to be found. A pretty sweet day in the City, and in all of California, for a lot of people who've been waiting a long time for some very basic civil rights to set in.

And if you aren't yet sick of the constant burbling over who'll be Obama's VP, here's a twist on the whole debate: how about Chuck Hagel? Salon asks this question, and answers it pretty well. Apparently there's a decent amount of buzz around this senior senator from Nebraska. I'm partial to the query because of that NE connection, of course; it's worth a read, if nothing else. I was kind of ok with the whole unity-ticket idea until the whole thing came up about him being anti-choice, anti-civil rights, and anti-gun control. Dealbreakers, all. But it was a nice idea, nonetheless.

And Obama's veep is...a Republican? (Salon)

Monday, June 16, 2008

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

So I did get down to the Frida Kahlo preview last week, and it was rich, really rich.

Notwithstanding her tumultuous lifelong love affair with Diego Rivera, Kahlo's life was a picture of tragedy. From her shattered spinal column (irredeemably damaged in a youthful bus accident) to her struggles with infertility to watching her own sister have an affair with her womanizing but charismatic and brilliant husband, the woman trudged through a lot of shit.

And walking through the exhibit, soaking up images of blood and death and heartbreak and unibrows, I couldn't help but realize, quite clearly, how central pain is to the project of creation. That pain is what creates, pain is what catalyzes, that pain, when processed and channeled and put to use, is what so often fuels art. And that Frida Kahlo's life was a testament to the fact that if you are not afraid to use it, to dive into it, your very deepest pain can be your greatest gift. Because the reason we're still talking about this fiery diminutive leftist dead Mexican woman is that she, in the midst of near-perpetual heartache, managed to translate that to the canvas.

And whew, those canvases. It's a relatively small exhibit compared to some at the MoMA, but rich in quality and span. It's particularly fascinating to see the collection of photos and art related to Diego and Frida's time spent in San Francisco, where a number of the soap operas of their lives played out (including their second marriage, following their first divorce).

Highlights for me were A Few Small Nips (1935), above, which was inspired by a newspaper article about a crime of passion, but informed by Kahlo's pain on discovering Diego's affair with her sister. Note the bloodstained frame and the red fingerprints; the torment literally bleeds out of the painting itself. Holy shit.

I was surprised to dig another very different piece: The Love Embrace of the Universe, the Earth (Mexico), Diego, Me and Senor Xolotl (1949) which was created toward the very end of Kahlo's life, and which takes a few minutes' analysis to really delve into. Note the gauzy figure in green embracing Frida and Diego; the anthropomorphic hands of the plants and trees; the blood gushing out of Kahlo's broken heart (this following her reconciliation with Rivera), and his childlike rest in her embrace. It's rich with symbolism in a marriage of mind, body and cosmos.

I could go on. But mostly I walked away with a number of words repeating in my consciousness. Certain themes, really, that struck me about the nature of Kahlo herself, her art, the spirit of the whole thing. Political. Queer. Boundary-breaking. Unusual. Beautiful. Grotesque. Sublime. Serious (her downcast eyes, her infrequent smiles, even in family photos). Indigenous. Native. Sexy, sexual. Bohemian. Wildly unconventional. Socialist. Earthy, earth-connected. Intricately tied to San Francisco. Real. Present. Sensual. Broken. Breaking.

Kahlo's widely quoted throughout the promotional materials with this self-aware statement: I paint my own reality. The only thing I know is that I paint because I need to.

Go rent the Salma Hayek biopic from a few years ago, watch that first (ignoring the terrible turn by Ashley Judd), and then hit the MoMA. The experience is much richer for it when you've got the images and narratives of Kahlo's life fresh in your memory.

(Oh, and here's the Chron's review: Kahlo at the SF MoMA

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

I promised you pics and then my Mac died.

But it's a cool foggy Monday morning and I've got Philip Glass on repeat and the radiator's humming and my coffee cup is full. So here you go, better late than never: kind of a mish-mash from random folks at the beach. (And happy one-month anniversary to Aaron & Courtney tomorrow!)

That's fabulous Nina and fabulous B, when the sis was in SF. If I can be half the badass Nina is someday, I'll have done well. B isn't so bad herself.

Love me some Sarah Hearn.

Little ducks all in a row. Ian, where are your glasses?

Beautiful couple (plus breeze).

Bird's-eye view. Getting our cocktails on while they take photos.

The boys. Not the best shot, but the memories are good. Hate to cut off Don's and Matt's heads - but at least your package gets some serious exposure, Hearn.

With the future Mrs. Unga, behaving...

and then not.

So happy to be back with the gang.

(And on the Delaware note: cheers to STC for mad Tony action last night! We were dying. National tour, stat!)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

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

Very little grows on jagged rock.

Be ground.
Be crumbled, so wildflowers will
come up
where you are.

You've been stony
for too many years.
Try something different.


~~ Rumi, "A Necessary Autumn Inside Each"

(And that's O'Keeffe, of course; White Calico Flower, 1931)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

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

How sad is it about Tim Russert? The obits are breaking my heart. What a young guy.

So, um, speaking of coronary artery disease...or, uh, averting it...

I spent yesterday learning more pretzel-y new asanas. Upside down and feet behind the head and balancing on fingertips (or trying to, and failing). This twice-weekly series is 84 asanas, a little more obscure and performed at a regular clip. Ass is officially kicked.

Yoga Journal had a strong feature on Bikram a few years back, and it's worth a read if you're not familiar with the style or story of the yoga. The article's a little dated; they are now holding the teacher training in Acapulco, not LA, but most of the names and faces remain the same. I'm reading Bikram's new book right now and hoping for revelations. We'll see.

On the same note, Sports Illustrated did a gallery on San Francisco 49ers player Tony Parrish a while back, too, with great photos of this huge athletic dude rocking the postures in the sweaty heat. Check it here.

Yoga's Bad Boy: Bikram Choudhury (YJ)
Tony Parrish's Yoga Workout (SI)

Friday, June 13, 2008

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

The Tonys are Sunday night!

I don't know if we get Hugh Jackman back as host this year or not (say yes, say yes), but you don't want to miss this nonetheless. Crossing my fingers for "In The Heights."

Campbell Robertson has his predictions here and Salon has an annoyingly myopic yet charming article from an unabashed musical theater-lover here. The writer absolves her tendency toward self-indulgence by calling the Tonys "another black-tie circle jerk." Heh heh.

Sunday in the Dark With Tony? (NYT)
Everyone Hates the Tonys (Salon)

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

New favorite pose!

So my body's raw as hell these days. Been in mad yoga mode, practicing upwards of 2 hrs/day and really feeling the effects (read: crazy soreness) in my sinews. I found an advanced series that runs for 4 hrs on Tuesdays and Fridays, and it's kicking my ass. But don't get me wrong; it's good, great, life-giving, fer sure.

Anyway, so the knees are opening up after some hard runs and my shoulders are looser than they've been in some time, and this is due in part to my latest discovery, Kapotasana (or King Pigeon Pose). You've seen a variation on this one before in One-Legged King Pigeon Pose; that remains a favorite, especially after running for loosening the hips, but this one takes it a few steps deeper to open up the entire front side of the body along with massaging the thyroid/endocrine glands, opening up the heart and throat chakras, and deepening the backbend.

It's a little more ambitious than some, but very do-able; start with your Camel and open up your chest while compressing your spine, and you'll be warmed up for this. Yoga Journal does a better play-by-play than I do, so I'll just direct you there.

The more physiological stuff I've been reading lately really emphasizes the way that disease in the body comes from the stored tension and blocked energy we fail to release when we don't do a lot of these kinds of heart- and muscle-opening asanas. I've been focusing mentally in my practice lately on really thinking about softening and opening up; when you take the tension out of needing to perform a posture a certain way and let your muscles fall into it themselves, the asanas really do open up more easily.

I'm constantly amazed by the emotional and spiritual parallels these physical parts of the practice encourage. Same goes for tension and fear in the mind; if you just soften up and let it go instead of trying to force things, whether they are little daily arguments or big future quandaries or anything, life seems to take care of itself in a kind of cosmic cruise control.

Sorry. I'm really drinking the yogic Kool-Aid lately, huh? Oh well. Whatevs.

Stay tuned for reports on the killer Frida Kahlo show yesterday (holy fuckin great exhibit) and a few other odds and ends.

Kapotasana (YJ)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

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

Frida Kahlo opens this week at the SF MoMA. This is one hot exhibit. The kind of buzz I haven't seen since they had the Chagall exhibit some four years ago. Member preview day is Thursday and I can't wait to hit the action before the herds thunder in.

June usually means fog here in the City, and I'm happy to say we haven't seen much of it. Sunny and gorgeous, consistently so. I'm roughly the color of tree bark. Doesn't matter how much I know about skin cancer or how guilty I feel about all those crispy summers lifeguarding. I can't stay inside for anything.

The blogosphere is kind of buzzing about this piece in Salon about Rebecca Walker and her mother, Alice. Both, of course, have carved out lives as writers and thinkers and activists in their own generations; you know Alice as the author of The Color Purple and Rebecca as one of the most famous faces of Third Wave activism. But there's serious brouhaha going on between mother and daughter. Phyllis Chesler tries to piece together the latest schism based on Rebecca's angry diatribe about her mother in the Daily Mail. It kind of hurts my heart. I don't know who's right anymore. Both Alice and Rebecca have come to where they are from very different places, and I hear the validity of both's arguments, and I wonder if it's possible to have everything, and I doubt that it is, and I wonder what we should want, and I wonder where we will go, and I much. The lesson for me in part is that certainly our most dearly-held political and ideological and social stances ebb and flow with the changing of years and lives. And that it's healthy and necessary to constantly be revising our outlooks on what it means to live well.

And uh, speaking of living well: did you see that the most-emailed NYT piece today is about sex-starved marriages and two (very politically and religiously different) couples who decided to have sex every day for a year as a counter to the inevitable descent into a sexual desert that marriage often becomes? This is one of the major reasons I've never felt a huge need to get married: I mean, it seems like if you're still trying hard and not taking a relationship for granted and working at something without assuming it will always be there per contract or ring, you can at least hope that the spark will stick around a little longer. And I don't want to believe that a long-term thing has to mean monotony or boredom in the bedroom. Anyway, for those reasons and more I found the article interesting. Especially the way the super-Christian lady won't even call it sex, but calls it "the gift." WTF?!

Read it, and then please get outside. It's so beautiful.

The Mother-Daughter Wars (Salon)
Yes, Dear. Tonight Again. (NYT)

Sunday, June 8, 2008

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

I was transferring docs onto my new hard drive this morning when I found this. It definitely deserves its own moment.

Joynite '96, baby!

We may not have managed a 10-year reunion, but I like to think we're all a little more put-together than we were here. Although that purple sweatband was pretty HOTTT.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

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


Slowly the evening changes into the clothes
held for it by a row of ancient trees;
you look: and two worlds grow separate from you,
one ascending to heaven, another, that falls;

and leaves you, belonging not wholly to either one,
not quite as dark as the house that remains silent,
not quite as certainly sworn to eternity
as that which becomes star each night and rises --

and leaves you (unsayably to disentangle) your life
with all its immensity and fear and great ripening,
so that, all but bounded, all but understood,
it is by turns stone in you and star.

-- Rainer Maria Rilke (tr. Cliff Crego)

(Georges Barbier, turn-of-the-century French illustrator, Fashion Design, 1914)

Friday, June 6, 2008

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

Interesting little article in this morning's NYT about this racy new German book that apparently everyone's talking about: "Wetlands" (or "Feuchtgebiete").

Sounds like a modern-day Erica Jong; lots of talk of sex and bodies and taboos writ large, all by some cute 30-year-old TV presenter named Charlotte Roche. The popularity of this frank and controversial little novel seems particularly germane given the recent media hubbub here in the States over what is ostensibly such a radical and progressive and "empowering" SATC legacy.

Haven't read this one yet myself, but in terms of real edge and real boundary-pushing, it sounds a million times more engaging than the label-whore-fest that was the SATC movie. Whereas when it debuted a decade ago maybe SATC was truly edgy, I think now in this particularly Botoxed and waxed, plasticized and artificial era of beauty standards, the really radical stuff is happening here in Roche's territory.

Good for her for getting the Germans' panties in a twist. I love it.

Germany Abuzz at Racy Novel of Sex and Hygiene (NYT)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

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

I know this is just one dumb little AP article slapping together a few token anecdotes, but it made me grin ear-to-ear. Hope for some friendly global relationships again, finally, finally.

Obama '08!!! Here we go.

Excitement About Obama Spreads Around the World (AP)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

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

Yesterday I did my chick duty and went to see the new Sex and The City movie.

I don't do well around herds of giggly girls who like to shop. But I, you know, had to do my anthropological research on this whole contemporary American urban gender mythology thing. So I snuck into a 3:50 showing, hoping that a quiet Monday afternoon matinee wouldn't be overrun with chicks bearing bejewelled cell phones and knock-off heels.

I was wrong. The place was packed with a gaggle of girls and gays. I knew things would get ugly when Fergie's "Labels or Love" came on with the titles and everybody cheered. And it was all downhill from there.

Quick unedited thoughts on SATC:

1. Bad writing.
2. Bad acting. Ugh, Kim Cattrall. Ugh, Chris Noth. Really? That's the best you can do?
3. Conspicuous consumption sold as cinema! More product placement than I've seen in a long, long time.
4. Why the random unnecessary Fashion Week bit?
5. Charlotte makes me want to stab myself.
6. Samantha is such a one-note character.
7. Sarah Jessica Parker has really aged.
8. They're all wearing too much stage make-up. I couldn't listen to anything Mr. Big said because all I could think about was how heavy his foundation and blusher were. Ugh.
9. Sigh. Seriously? This is supposed to be about single women in the city? Wobbling around in ridiculous heels? No woman who actually lives and walks in a city can wear shoes that high. Promise.
10. My life will be complete if I never have to hear the words "Manolo Blahnik" again. Overrated.
11. Louis Vuitton is some ugly-ass shit. Why the hell people pay $1000 for those bags is beyond me.
12. Can we please flesh out these poor male characters please? Give us a little depth, por favor.
13. Just superficial all-around. Much moreso than I remember the series itself being.
14. And a lap-dog? Really?
15. Sushi nipples. Whoa mama.
16. SJP looks like a drag queen.
17. More product placement. Wedding gowns. Dior. Skyy. Smartwater. Sigh.
18. Over 2 hours? Really? Longest movie ever. And did we really need the cheesy bridge reunion scene when Miranda and Steve get back together?
19. Um, not funny. Wasn't the TV show at least funny now and then? Where'd the humor go? Replaced by the big earrings and bad costumes?
20. Sex commodified. Ugh.
21. Speaking of, where IS the sex?

Ok, could go on. But Anthony Lane in the New Yorker says it soooo much better than I ever could. Please, please read his review. The guy nails it all, from the cattiness to the cheap shots to the commodity fetishism to the pornographic nature of the whole materialism thing (and no, I'm not talking about the sex). In fact, I was surprised by how very little "sex," per se, was actually a vital part of the whole shebang. In spite of SATC's claims to being earthy and raw, I found the whole thing to have this glossy, artificial veneer instead of being a living, breathing creation.

There's a subset of thinkers who've connected the obsession with labels with a certain kind of desexualized fetishism, arguing that the desire to consume fetishized labels like Louis Vuitton and Gucci and their ilk actually serves as a convolution of the actual animal sexual desire for women. I am a big believer in this line of thought. I think a lot of women channel their confused and/or misdirected and/or misunderstood sexual desires into consuming material shit instead. Manolo porn. Closet fetishism. Shoe obsessions. You've read all the sexualized theoretical analysis of fairy tales and Cinderella and the whole sexual symbolism of the "fitting into the right shoe" thing, right? Yeah, that's what I thought. Look how this movie ends. Still alive and kicking in 2008.

Lane says it best in his last line:
"I walked into the theatre hoping for a nice evening and came out as a hard-line Marxist, my head a whirl of closets, delusions, and blunt-clawed cattiness. All the film lacks is a subtitle: “The Lying, the Bitch, and the Wardrobe.”"

Lane's turn-of-a-phrase just makes the shitty screenwriting in the film itself seem even more neutered and blase. Skip it!

Sex and The City (New Yorker)

Monday, June 2, 2008

Raw, idiom: 14a. in the natural, uncultivated, or unrefined state: nature in the raw.

Ahoy there from my newly lobotomized Mac. My heart hurts a little every time it boots up to an empty desktop, haunted by ghosts of documents past.

But then I remember those immortal words from our old boy Wayne: "What can you do, Meemaw; what can you do?"

And it's all gravy.

Check out my peonies! I'm still besotted.