Wednesday, April 30, 2008

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



"Down with a world in which the guarantee that we will not die of starvation has been purchased with the guarantee that we will die of boredom."

-- Situationist graffiti, Paris 1968


May marks 40 years since the riots in France. Of course 1968 was a big year here in the States for myriad reasons; the spring was equally intense in France, where leftists marched and the Situationist movement flowered. I'm knee-deep in a lot of Guy Debord these days, and he and his cronies who encouraged people to resist commodification and, in so doing, "live without dead time" are kind of ringing in my ears.

(That's Robert Rauschenberg, 1968, above.)

[Update: the NYT actually has a front-page article about the protests today. Barricades of May '68 Still Divide the French]

Monday, April 28, 2008

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

I'm feeling pretty evangelical about Shoulderstand these days.

"Sarvangasana" in Sanskrit, meaning "whole body pose," is often referred to as the Queen of all asanas. This Mother of all poses benefits pretty much any bodily system you could imagine, while at the same time being immensely calming, cooling, and restorative. It's often considered the Yin balance to the more Yang inversion, Headstand (the King).

When we were little girls, B and I used to flop all over the living room and roll into shoulderstand while we watched TV (probably The Electric Company or maybe Little House on the Prairie). That's partly why I love this pose so much; it's ultimately so organic, something that even as kids you roll into because it feels silly and good at the same time, not realizing how many systemic benefits you're getting along with the head rush.

I've found myself returning to Sarvangasana this spring after several frustrating bouts with bronchitis, laryngitis and other frustrating sinus crap. It's ideal for head colds and throat issues, because of the way the chinlock feeds the thyroid and the parathyroid glands. Not only do you nourish and flush out your endocrine and lymphatic systems, but you also shake up your circulation with the kind of inversion that rushes fresh blood into the head and lungs and away from stagnant pooling in your feet and legs. This particular pose isn't especially difficult; you certainly won't break into a cardio sweat from hanging out here for 3 minutes, although you will definitely feel the muscles in your back and neck opening up as you breathe through the posture. You'll also find your quads working hard, and another good step on the way to that tight yoga butt.

I've been finishing my daily practice with this pose for about six months now, and really feeling things opening up as a result. Take a few minutes in the morning or the evening to roll into this; it's easy to kick into after a few minutes in Plough, and it's also great for insomnia, depression and anxiety because of the calming and cooling Yin nature of the pose and the way it helps circulate fresh oxygen and blood to the brain. You really can't lose here. And it's a great natural way to achieve those kinds of benefits without resorting to the kinds of meds often prescribed for similar systemic conditions related to the thyroid, the spirit, circulation, etc.

If you struggle with the meditative aspects of sitting with this for a few minutes, start slowly and gradually build up to longer timing. Worst case scenario, flop into it in front of the TV and just enjoy sitting there while you catch up on your favorite reality TV show. I think B and I had the right idea 20 years ago doing just that, even if we didn't know we were massaging our thyroids in the process.

Supported Shoulderstand (Yoga Journal)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

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


After weeks of good intentions and no action, I finally made it up the hill to the Legion of Honor to see the "Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer's Life" exhibit the other day. And I say "up the hill" because it definitely involved trudging up a long-ass drive past idyllic golfers overlooking the Pacific to the entrance of the museum perched up on the hill in the Presidio.

If you haven't been there recently, it's worth revisiting. Lincoln Park is weirdly quiet, full of birdsong and breeze, and strangely removed from the more bustling City just a quick Muni ride away. There's a killer view of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Pacific to the west; I had forgotten, too, that a mold of Rodin's "The Thinker" sits at the front of the museum to greet you on entering.

Before I get to the nitty-gritty, might I also add that the Legion of Honor has a sweet little cafe tucked in the back corner of the lower level that's "green" almost to a fault. After wandering through the Leibovitz exhibit I tucked in to "locally grown organic [pre-peeled] tangerines in a compostable plastic container." Whew. You can haul your little compostable sack lunch out to the adjacent sculpture garden, which overlooks the water, and when I was there on a Thursday afternoon, was peppered with French tourists, art students, and middle-aged Ladies Who Lunch. Sitting there eating my ridiculous tangerines, I had another of those increasingly frequent moments when I looked up and listened to the birds twittering and saw the ocean beyond and thought, with a strange freeze in time: I live here! Holy shit! I live here.

But that's all small and silly compared to the Leibovitz action inside. If you're not familiar with her, first of all: pathetic. Second of all: probably the most famous photographer in America right now. Vanity Fair, Vogue, Rolling Stone, etc. She's of course responsible for the iconic John Lennon-Yoko Ono shot above, taken just a few hours before Lennon was shot. The retrospective includes her more recent work, including famous shots of Demi Moore naked and pregnant, Colin Powell and Norman Schwarzkopf, the Clintons, Brad Pitt, Chris Rock, Queen Elizabeth II, etc. The woman has serious access to some major political players and pop culture personalities.

The revelation of the exhibit, however, comes in the unexpected interweaving of Leibovitz's personal photos with these monolithic celebrity portraits. Somehow I had forgotten in the wake of writer Susan Sontag's death a few years ago that she and Leibovitz had been partners for some 16 years. Walking through the exhibit, you quickly realize that it's in many ways an elegy, a portrait of the end of a love affair, so intimate it sometimes becomes difficult to take in. I was gutted on leaving.

Check this: Leibovitz lost Sontag to cancer in Dec. 04, lost her father two months later in Feb. 05, and had twins born to a surrogate mother three months later in May. Holy being alive. And of course she named the two new daughters after these two recently-lost huge figures in her life: Susan and Samuelle. Need I also mention she gave birth to her first daughter, Sarah, at 51? Sweet jesus.

So all of these experiences are captured in this exhibit, interspersed with the Chris Rocks and the Arnold Schwarzeneggers and whatnot, these harrowing portraits of death and travel and humble apartments in Berlin and Sarajevo and shots of Sontag overlooking the Seine and then later laid out in her death clothes, funereal, and family scenes frolicking at the Maryland beaches. And the silence of it all strikes you, the power of the arts to sort of encapsulate so much of being alive, to make you feel so much of living and dying and loving and aching just walking through a climate-controlled basement room for a couple of hours.

The strange and disappointing bit was that the exhibit was weirdly silent about the nature of Leibovitz's relationship with Sontag. Even the introductory notes would only deign to refer to Sontag as AL's "long-time friend." Not even the desexualized "companion" or "partner," no; but "long-time friend." WTF. And meanwhile the content of the exhibit itself screams out the intimate nature of their life together. Weirdly closeted. I don't know what to make of that.

The Chron had a good interview with AL when this exhibit first debuted in New York in '06, and another current review from the Legion of Honor exhibit itself. Both give some additional insight into Leibovitz, her art and her career. You really come to understand that this collection was her means of working through her vast grief and simultaneous joy at so many huge life events hitting in a very short amount of time.

Love, Family, Celebrity, Grief (SF Chron)
Review: For Leibovitz, Image is Everything (SF Gate)

Finally, that moving snapshot above is Sontag herself, "Susan at the House on Hedges Lane," 1988.

Friday, April 25, 2008

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


L.A. yogi and former rock guitarist Steve Ross wrote a great little book that I picked up a few years ago and find myself returning to on a regular basis when I need a good yogic shot in the arm.

It's called "Happy Yoga," and while that title makes me twitch a little and cringe a lot, the actual content of the book is a hell of a lot more useful, grounded and down-to-earth than it might appear. Ross breaks down the ideal yogic lifestyle into some easy-to-digest chunks, looking at things like music, food, laughter, and of course, poses and meditation and whatnot.

One of the concepts in particular has stuck with me over the years. When I find myself bogged down by a lot of Real Life crap, caught up in my head and furrowing my brow, I always come back to this well-worn page. It introduces a concept called "Anahata," which is a Sanskrit word that means "unstruck."

Ross describes it better than I do:

Anahata...is also the name given to the swirling vortex of life force energy located in the area of the heart known as the Anahata chakra, or heart chakra. ...When this [opens], unconditional love gushes forth, and the lucky yogi with the open heart chakra regains a sense of being unstruck - as though no transgression, violation, heartbreak, or emotional injury had ever happened. (p. 57)

I think of this many mornings as I'm tumbling back into a backbend or Camel pose; I envision my sternum cracking open, shattering like an egg, and just opening up all Care Bear stare. So much of who we are is a pastiche of all the hurts or the losses or the imagined injustices we have experienced; I don't think we realize how much we carry those around like armor everywhere we go.

So think of that this weekend. Being "anahata." Choosing it. Living unstruck. And think of how differently we might all interact if we walked around like our chests were cracked open, loose and unbounded light shining out.

[Approaching maximum cheese content: signing out before it can get any sappier.]

Happy Yoga (Amazon.com)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

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


Salon has an interview this morning with Jennifer Sey, the former national champion gymnast and now author of a new memoir of girlhood in the institutionalized mess that is competitive gymnastics, "Chalked Up."

I don't know what it is about women's (girls'? children's?) gymnastics, but something about it has always struck me as vaguely grotesque, macabre, bizarrely dark in the midst of so much sprightly prancing and ponytail-swinging. This is just a quickie chat with Sey, and it gives a number of peeks into the content of her book, which looks to be disenchanting at best and disturbing at worst.

There's a strange juxtaposition going on in women's gymnastics. I mean, these little girls - truly, children - train under what can only be described as duress, and in the process become these muscular super-human little creatures before they've even hit puberty. And, in spite of being starving and oftentimes driven into the ground, they manage to accomplish inconceivable physical feats. So I am drawn to the thrill of contorting the body and mastering a physical challenge at the same time that I am left agape at the extraordinary circumstances under which they do so.

Throw in all this crap about "corporate malfeasance" and the fact that so many of these little girls do end up becoming meal tickets - for their parents, their coaches, their countries - and I am left increasingly disturbed. I've always been fascinated not so much by the elite level gymnast at the top of her game, when she is all pigtails and chirpy voice and astounding tumbles, but moreso by the same person a decade down the road; by watching what these people do when they suddenly find themselves washed up and over the hill at 19 or 20, their bodies crumbling and their metabolisms completely fucked forever. How do they find balance after so much discipline and such a strange, structured lifestyle? How do they come back to their bodies and find some kind of home in them after being so completely estranged? And what terror must it be to wake up one morning at 21 or 22 and find that the rest of your life looks like dealing with crippling pain from lingering injuries and trying to decide what to do with the years to come?

It's interesting to me the way you often see these girls retain their high voices and somewhat stunted femininity. Cultivated so carefully to be at once hyper-masculine in athleticism and hyper-feminine in affect, they seem to struggle to settle into womanhood after living such a juxtaposed existence.

Bodies and commodification are two things I spend a lot of time thinking about. And this glimpse at elite gymnastics makes me realize even moreso what a classic example of the body commodified can be found here; bodies put to service to earn medals, to placate governments, to sell Wheaties. Nevermind the broken ankles or starvation.

Sigh.

"Why Do These Men Want to Coach Little Girls?" (Salon.com)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

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


Ok, let's just be clear here: I am a caffeine whore.

Have been, will be, it's just what it is. My coffee pot is the first and only thing I want to see in the morning. And sugar-free Red Bull gets me through more social interactions than I'd like to admit.

I am totally aware that the whole major-chemical-dependency thing doesn't really jive with the whole raw food thing, but whatevs. We are works in progress. So I refuse to feel guilty about needing my cuppa joe every day. End of story.

That said, I'm trying to, uh, loosen the shackles a bit. And studying all this Chinese medicine shit lately has refueled what had been a waning interest in herbal alternatives. So, in spite of the fact that drinking hot tea makes me feel like a goddamned middle-aged British lady lacking the cojones for regular coffee, I'm making an effort.

Enter Chamomile. It's surprisingly delicious, remarkably soothing, smells of lush ripe apple, and is actually good for you in all kinds of ways. After a few late-night cups, it's settled into a solid second-place status behind my old stalwart, Peppermint.

Benefits? Among others: it's anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, and anti-bacterial. You can drink this stuff (or actually use it topically) to soothe skin issues like eczema or irritation. It's calming, too; I've long struggled with falling asleep at night (hmm, perhaps related to the ungodly caffeine intake, Miss Obvious?), but chamomile's mild sedative effect lulls me into relative stillness and slows my breath and my heartbeat so that I can actually chill out. It's also been used for centuries in Europe for its anti-spasmodic effects, which means gold for things like menstrual cramps or an upset stomach.

Not saying you should ditch the coffee or anything, but if you're finding it hard to slow yourself down or struggling with unfortunate digestion, give it a try. Peter Rabbit's mother used to give it to him to help him sleep. And if Beatrix Potter isn't a good enough reference for you, I don't know who is.

Be careful if you're allergic to ragweed, though; Chamomile's a member of the family, so you'll want to stay away if so. And on a random note: apparently it's great for sunny highlights when mixed with lemon juice during the summertime. So get in there, blondie.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

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


I'm sitting cross-legged on the floor of my living room surrounded by empty envelopes, strips of mangled paper, and a smoking shredder. Barefoot, wearing the same grey trousers I've been living in all week, a handkerchief on my head a la the kind I have not worn since approximately June 1998 when I also had a chunk of purple hair and took to wearing inflammatory t-shirts that said things like "Jesus Is a Liberal." Um, yes.

And it's a Thursday and something like 73 degrees and gorgeous out and Sondre Lerche is on repeat on the stereo and I have a belly full of [very not-raw] lasagna and in the meantime it feels like the contents of the last 5 years of my life are sitting, shredded, in that white garbage bag propped by the front door waiting to be taken down to the trash.

And that is the setting for this existential crisis.

Had it on my list to sit down and sort out my files and shelves and whatnot brimming with letters and paid bills and tax docs and you name it, and finally in the midst of a long sought-after quiet day after a week and a half of so much being social, I carved out a few hours to make good friends with my shredder. Erasing the contents of my life in the course of an afternoon, blowing through pay stubs from my first corporate bullshit job on moving out here in '03 and letters from old friends who've long since floated away on the eddies of time and distance, averting tears in the meantime as I come across silly little notes from my long-gone father written in his distinctive penmanship (3 years the end of this month now, how?) and grad school bills and Sprint phone records and endless MBNA credit card statements.

If there's a recipe for how to relive your life in the course of a few hours, this is it. Evidence of every airline flight paid for and every rental car rented and every friendship fizzled and every relationship begun and every minute of every phone bill, which months were the talkative ones and which were silent. To-do lists and motivational speeches (I will not eat cheese, I will not eat cheese) and calendars carefully plotted out in longhand, all passing through my hands as I shred them away and clear out space for the new memories, for the next 5 years, for the statements to come and the letters yet to be received.

And I wonder what the hell it's all about on this Thursday in mid-April, a small silly Thursday among Thursdays when everything feels bigger and softer and sadder and more serious than before.

And suddenly my shredder bites the dust, plugged up with the remnants of an old United Airlines itinerary (Baltimore via Omaha), and it sits here to my right smelling of overheating and exhaustion, and Sondre sings on, "I'll be ok," in an endless circle, and the sirens blow by outside and the breeze wafts in through the corner window and I think to myself, this is what it's all about, I guess, yeah; the last week of baseball and sunshine and beer and parks and work and cocktails and all of it, that's what it's about too, but it's equally the lasagna and the tattered grey pants and the stock slowly wilting in its vase on the coffee table as the pungent scent of dying flowers threatens to overtake the room.

And the revelations hit when you least expect them, over coffee and Norwegian pop singers. And the phone rings and I let it go and Sondre sings again that "my hands are shaking from carrying this torch for you" and I run across old emails thrown carelessly into files from men who never knew they mattered, and I marvel with some vague sorrow at the wistful realization that they don't matter; they did for a hot moment, maybe, and they don't anymore, and how sad and yet inevitable that now they, too, go into the shredder, emotionless, along with the to-do lists and the cell phone bills.

And I wonder if I'll be here in 5 years doing the same thing, or if the Big One will have hit by then, because you know the papers and their apocalyptic predictions are calling it a 99.7% chance of happening in the next thirty years, and will I feel it?, or will I be long gone, on a ranch in Idaho somewhere digging for beets on my knees, or teaching yoga in Paris, or chanting at an ashram in India?

Maybe I will be here, if the rent doesn’t skyrocket; maybe the earth will open up one nondescript spring Thursday afternoon, cracking there, rippling right in front of my creeping crow’s feet and greying hair, and I'll just fall in and swim in the molten heat, and that'll be the end of it, and someone else can shred the mementos sitting in my 1915 Edwardian, or what's left of it, whatever doesn't burn in the fires that will surely envelop the City. And they'll see the remnants of a life, the medical bills and the letters and the Christmas cards and the secret saved emails, and they'll glimpse a person, or two dimensions of one, and that will be it.

And the shredder cools off; and Sondre sings along to the hum of the motor, and more life is cut into pieces.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

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


There is a line.

You may not believe it's there, what with all the talk of raw veggies and prana and yoga and lefty politics and shit, but indeed, there is a line, believe it or not, at which point the hippy-dippy California crap stops me in my tracks and I say: that's it. No more. Cut the crap. Cease the wankity wankity wank.

Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love crossed it. The names of the dishes at Cafe Gratitude ("I am fulfilled," "I am radiant," "I am renewed") cross it. And Sandy Lawrence and her buzzed-about new restaurant-slash-yoga-studio, Ubuntu, have crossed it. Have leapt over it, bounded across it, left even this nice open-minded California girl in the dust on the way.

So, the basics:

This new restaurant opened recently on Main Street in Napa. It's garnered immediate raves from both Michael Bauer of the SF Chronicle (included in his Top 100 list) and Frank Bruni of the NYT (as the 2nd hottest new restaurant in the country). No small praise here, folks. The basic conceit is that this space is shared by both a progressive vegetarian restaurant and a yoga studio. Ok. And they do all the things you're supposed to do when you're a hot new restaurant in the Bay Area: function as consciously "green," use local biodynamically farmed ingredients, encourage the employees to walk or bike to work, blah blah blah. A little self-consciously noble, but whatevs; I can forgive that vague smugness in deference to the good intentions at work here. And in reading about this Ubuntu place, I've been intending to hit it up the next time I head north; the veggie-yoga combo seemed pretty perfectly suited to my interests, and I figured I'd sate my curiosity by checking it out.

But then this feature appeared in the Chron over the weekend, a cheesy lifestyle piece on Ubuntu owner Sandy Lawrence and her brand-new home (read: estate) in Napa. It reads like a piece of fawning elitist tripe. Leaves a bad taste in your mouth like you wouldn't believe. And sort of crystallizes every unspoken discomfort I have with the whole yoga-veggie-mindfulness lifestyle that Lawrence (and yours truly) espouse.

Here's this corporate honcho who's clearly rolling in dough who sells out of the 9-to-5 lifestyle to "downsize" to a 3100 sq foot custom-built home in Napa with its own wine cellar, guest quarters (!!!), yoga studio, and swimming pool. And 33 doors. Did you catch the part about 33 doors? Read the damn article. It's immensely annoying. This woman pretending to have this simple, mindful lifestyle in a home that is so utterly excessive and that seems unsustainable in many ways. The reporter makes a huge deal about the fact that the walls are made of soil (to paraphrase too reductively), but jeez - at least give us some interesting content on the nuts and bolts of making the whole thing happen, what with electricity and building codes and earthquake preparations taken into account, instead of this ridiculous gushing article about a woman who happens to have enough disposable income to pick up and buy nearly 100 acres in Napa, build a custom-made home, and open a wanky restaurant with the remaining dough.

I admire her intentions, I do, and I understand the desire to live the way she does, because it's terribly tempting to blanket yourself in material comfort while ostensibly embracing a mindful life; but some part of me feels sick to my stomach in reading this article, and in exploring the Ubuntu restaurant site. Is it liberal guilt? That Midwestern populist streak I got from my father? Discomfort with my own affluent lifestyle that I'm just projecting onto this Ms. Lawrence? I dunno. But I'm reminded of this constant struggle to reconcile the seeming narcissism of trying to live consciously with trying to engage in a kind of meaningful praxis in the world at the same time. And I'm not sure if the best way to do that is to build a pricey restaurant with an equally pricey yoga studio so that affluent white soccer moms can come drop a few bucks now and then and feel like they're doing something to help the planet by eating lavender-dusted almonds before their vinyasa flow class. It all feels vaguely misdirected. And shamefully removed from the realities of what goes on in Hunters Point, or the Tenderloin, or any of those other less-affluent corners of the same small Bay Area world.

Napa restaurant owner connects to earth with home made of soil (SF Gate)
Ubuntu (Frank Bruni's review, NYT)
Ubuntu website

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


Huh. This is interesting. Did you see that there's a new musical version of "Gone With the Wind" in the works for the West End?

A quickie article in this morning's NYT highlights the unlikely production. My interest was initially sparked, well, I'll embarrassingly admit, because "GWTW" was my favorite read as, oh, a 12-year-old or so. Um, yeah. Sucker for the hoopskirts and shit, I guess. Overlooking the racist overtones, that is - but moving right along....

So it turns out none other than Trevor Nunn is attached, he of recent National Theater fame (damn, he's good!). And this woman who wrote the book/lyrics/etc, Margaret Martin, has such an interesting story.

Check it out. I'll be very curious to see how the reviews shape up.

A First-Timer Makes Rhett and Scarlett Sing (NYT)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

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


Late Fragment

And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.

-- Raymond Carver


(Spanish Surrealist Joan Miro, Bleu II, 1961)

Monday, April 7, 2008

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


There's a good buzz in these parts right about now.

Today is our [pathetic] SF Giants' Opening Day, so the disinterested crowds will be heading down toward McCovey Cove for an afternoon of sunshine, beer, and mediocre baseball. It's really not looking good for the guys in black and orange. And this year they don't even have Barry to draw people in. On the upside: cheap tickets!

Everybody's in a tizzy, too, because the Olympic torch is running through on Wednesday, and if you've been reading any of the news reports from London and Paris, it won't come quietly, especially in this protest-minded city. All of the Tibet and Darfur activists have been organizing for weeks. The torch will run a six-mile route along the waterfront on Wednesday afternoon, and people will definitely be mobilized a) to see it, and b) to resist it. No matter whether you're on the celebratory or outraged side of things, it'll make for an interesting day, for sure. I think it's the only North American stop, if I remember correctly? Which makes sense given that SF has in Chinatown the largest Chinese population outside of China proper. They decided not to run the torch through Chinatown out of fears it would clog the narrow streets...probably a good move considering how hard it is to walk down one on just a usual Saturday morning.

The weather's been fairly gorge, per usual, which means lots of running. My body hurts. A lot. On a regular basis. It's a good hurt, but yesterday I think I was definitely walking like a cowboy who just spent two days in the saddle. I need some serious yoga to undo this muscley tightness.

Spent one hot evening with my favorite paramour last night in his newest directorial effort, Leatherheads. The film is a little charmer, heavy on tinkly vintage music from Randy Newman and light on story arc. Clooney was his dashingly Clark Gable-esque self, per usual, and John Krasinski as his corn-fed war hero counterpart couldn't have been more perfectly cast. Renee Zellweger as the Rosalind Russell role left me pretty cold, but that's to be expected; I cannot fathom why this puffy-faced simpering lip-pursing chick has made it so far in Hollywood. And don't even get me started on the Oscar nomination for Chicago. Girlfriend couldn't dance her way out of a cardboard box. But do go for the costumes and the aesthetics and the aforementioned music. I'd kill for the collection of cloche hats that Zellweger's character sports throughout.

And on a final cinematic note, last week, in the midst of an incredibly frustrating 5-day bout of laryngitis, I finally sat down with Marion Cotillard and her Oscar-winning performance as Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose. Dark, depressing, intense; decently put together in terms of creativity for a biopic; and definitely highlighted by Cotillard's transformative performance. I hadn't known much about Edith Piaf; one of the reviews I read called her music's Sylvia Plath, and I have to say, that seems quite appropriate. A tragic life, a tragic love.

On a final note for this random morning update: Lara Bars debuted a few new flavors a few months ago. I've done my duty in taste-testing and can say with some experienced taste buds: skip the Key Lime Pie, and buy case upon case of the Pistachio. Totally delicious. And full of raw prana-chi goodness.

Friday, April 4, 2008

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


Oh, man. Crazy about blackberries this week. I've been eating half a pint a day.

Did you know:

* They're a member of the rose family (along with other bramble fruits like raspberries)
* They prevent cancer - by inhibiting metalloproteinase enzymes (whew)
* They're the highest berry in antioxidant phytonutrients - much moreso than strawberries, raspberries or blueberries
* That they're red when they're green - meaning, when they're unripe
* They're full of mad fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, and manganese

Totally a stepsister to blue- and rasp-, which get all the attention, but a sleeper hit, for sure. And so delicious.

Blackberries are divine fruit of the vine (SF Gate)

Thursday, April 3, 2008

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

Yoga Journal has a decent, if not revelatory, little article this week about yoga for runners. It's pretty much what you'd expect, in terms of emphasizing balance and breath control, injury prevention, etc. - you know, the sort of complementary aspects of each that do well to keep the hamstrings loose and the heart strong.

As far as I'm concerned, I couldn't have one without the other. Especially on a sunny 70 degree day like today.

Worth a read if you fancy yourself a runner or a yogi or some mixture of the two.

Yoga For Runners (YJ)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

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


Ok, so I really, really have a thing for Edward Hopper. It's nothing new, of course - only one of the longer-lasting love affairs of my life.

This to the left is one of my favorites, "Room in New York" (1932), which is actually owned by the Sheldon Gallery in none other than Lincoln, NE. (You have no idea to what great degree this redeems Lincoln for being a corn-fed college town full of Applebees and Blockbusters. No idea.)

Apparently there's a big Hopper exhibition right now at the Art Institute of Chicago through May 10th (after showing in Boston and DC last year), and this piece is included. Obvs., go if you're around. Hopper's probably best known for his iconic "Nighthawks" (1942). You've seen it, of course; it's the one in the diner on the city corner, looking in through the windows at night. But two other favorites of mine, among the many, would be "Morning Sun" (1952, below) and "Chop Suey" (1929).

I love Hopper for many reasons: because his work so often feels lonely, melancholy, moody, spare; because he does so much with morning light, and style, and space; but perhaps foremost, because he so often features people being quiet together. His work engages questions of isolation and solitude, company and angst, the same kinds of difficult relational struggles that Stephen Sondheim tackles in his musical work.

Slate featured a slideshow piece last week on the architecture of Edward Hopper, and it's a nice taste of his other subject matter: heavy on landscapes, more rural, outdoorsy, featuring lighthouses and clapboard homes and water and wind, often from a distance. The Slate piece uses two words to describe his work - "unsentimental" and "yearnful" - that seem particularly suited to his Modernist style.

Arts Editor had a smart little article about the exhibition last spring that's got some good perspectives on Hopper's whole oeuvre (along with a few big postmodern words on Text if that's your thing). It's called "Alone, Together," which of course perfectly describes the feel of so many of Hopper's paintings. Check it.

The Architecture of Edward Hopper (Slate)
Alone, Together (Arts Editor)