Wednesday, March 31, 2010

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

Still, the sun was hot.
Still, one got over things.
Still, life had a way of adding day to day.

~ Virginia Woolf

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

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

Sunburn achieved.
Scary Bible-beater billboards noted.
Spider webs averted.

The epic piece I'd promised you isn't going to happen tonight. Material keeps flooding in and I'm quickly realizing it's more "book" than "blog." But it will eventually appear and thenceforth make more clear what the hell I'm doing here in the random Deep South and why these few unplugged days are by necessity such a cocktail of coffee, tears and cheap red wine.

Several days spent sorting through the detritus of former lives in zip codes
38100–38126, and
have revealed a number of remarkable laughter- and tear-inducing finds, including but not limited to
  • one faded periwinkle South Dakota Public Television t-shirt from approximately 1984
  • one Wonder Woman Pez dispenser
  • 3/4 empty Gel de Ducha Rosa from a cheap Malaga convenience store
  • one can of Taco Bell-brand vegetarian Refried Beans, expiration date 05/02**
  • my first Chet Baker tape, dubbed from a copy stolen from the Lincoln City Library
  • one tangled metal Volkswagen mobile featuring 6 mini VW beetles
  • an outline of a 5-year-plan culminating in a Princeton Ph.D in Religion & Material Culture
  • one mix tape featuring a 10-year-old Mikah and 17-year-old me singing "Annie Get Your Gun" duets
  • two tiny culture-jammer buttons screaming out "Cunt Love" and "Pussy Power"***
  • one tube half-empty Aloe Vera gel, expiration date 9/99
  • one ratty blue lifeguard tank
  • embarrassing numbers of notebooks scrawled with florid 19-year-old poetry
  • one long cotton prairie skirt
  • a love letter from some dude named Jeremy in New Hampshire who I swear to God I've never heard of, ever****
  • one nude leotard painstakingly- and poorly-stitched with fake fabric flowers
  • a tattered copy of Gone With the Wind dated June 1992
  • one 1999 X-Files calendar featuring heart stickers stuck on Fox Mulder's face
  • two awards from post-show cast parties for "Best Orgy" and "Actress Most Likely to be Undressed When the Director Gives Notes"*****
So much more yet to be done before the night is out. Bed is looking doubtful. And I need a drink.


*Shit, dude. You tell me that's not overwhelming.
**Eaten. No ill effects to report as of yet.
****Seriously, never.
*****My sexy-director pick-up-skills have grown more sophisticated over the years. Trust.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

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

Running oh-so-late to catch a flight, but I just couldn't help but post a link to Molly's awesome pics from our quickie Baltimore visit a few weeks back. Grinning ear-to-ear. What a blessing old friends are - especially the kinds with mad knitting skills, brilliant brains and charming children.

Life feels Big these days. BIG, all caps. Whew. In so many ways. Hence the lack of recent updates. I've got a rich yoga-life-bodies-etc. piece in the hopper coming up for you in the next few days, if I can manage some internet access in the midst of memories and spanish moss and thick humidity. Be on the lookout. Until then, a little Downward Dog with Ms. Zo.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

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

Edward Abbey has come back into my life.
And I am fucking besotted.

* * *

"One final paragraph of advice: Do not burn yourself out. Be as I am - a reluctant enthusiast...a part time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it is still there. So get out there and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, encounter the grizz, climb the mountains. Run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, that lovely, mysterious and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to your body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much: I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those deskbound people with their hearts in a safe deposit box and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this: you will outlive the bastards."

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

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

Pretty rad profile-slash-art-collage featuring David de Rothschild over at the NYT this week. In case you missed the news, the Plastiki shipped off under the Golden Gate bright and early last Saturday morning, and by all accounts, the voyage thus far's going swimmingly. (Pun intended.) Psyched to follow via their Twitter and website reports.

This picture-heavy profile, though lacking depth, is still quite charming in its wanderlusting, anti-consumptive bent. You've gotta respect a guy who was born into such great wealth and has consciously come to the realization that, well, there's more to reality than having sixteen expensive watches and a bazillion pairs of jeans. And he's so damn on target about the need to return to the wild:
According to de Rothschild, we don’t get out enough. Our disconnect with nature is such that we will happily pay extra for a hotel room with an ocean view but won’t go so far as to get our feet wet. ‘‘It’s earth porn,’’ he says. Or, to put it more mildly, our idea of ‘‘out there’’ comes with a can of Off! ‘‘God forbid another species would land on me! We like nature when we can control it.’’ And market it.
"Earth porn!" True that. I love it. Scroll through the pics; savor the beauty; follow the journey. There are exciting things afoot.

Profile in Style: David de Rothschild (NYT)
The Plastiki Expedition ~ Official Site

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

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

So excited. Our boy Shaun TC is due to hit SF starting in May for an extended run at the Curran with the "In the Heights" national tour. Shaun's been rocking the "Sonny" role since the tour kicked off last fall, after originating the show on Broadway and backing up Usnavi there, as well. Needless to say, he's a star, and we're mad proud.

Check out the official site to read up on this hot Tony Award-winning Best Musical of 2008. Then head over to SHN to reserve your tickets. And look for me at the theater when you go. I'll be the one in the front throwing lingerie.

(Oh, and this pic is from New Year's a year and a half ago, when a few of us from the college crew headed up to NYC to see Shaun in action; that would be a post-show-exhausted-yet-seriously-charismatic Lin-Manuel Miranda in the middle. Dreamy.)

In the Heights ~ Official Site
SHNSF: Broadway Reframed

Sunday, March 21, 2010

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

Rusty's been playing a lot of Matt Morris charts for savasana of late, and though he's not cranked up the "Bloodline" in the last few days, its mellow melody has been lingering in my consciousness for weeks now, really.

Check out hot young singer-songwriter Morris; his pop-funk-folk style is just my speed, and he rocks a melancholy acoustic guitar like few others. Savvy siblings (you know who you are!) might recognize this grown-up Morris as a former Mouseketeer from those early 90's afternoons spent in front of the Disney Channel; the guy's got street cred in the same way Aguilera, Spears, Timberlake, et al do, having come up through the ranks of the Disney sweatshops with some pretty incredible fellow performers.

Justin Timberlake doesn't usually do much for me; his tenor's too, well, "tenor" for my tastes, though he makes up for it in his kinetic dance skillz and his banging sense of rhythm. Dude can rock. So when I saw this version of a live "Bloodline" duet between MM and JT, twisting and turning their so-trained voices together through some of the tightest, loveliest, lilting-est harmonies I've heard in some time, I was rapt.

Sit back, close your eyes; give it a listen; love that male-duo harmonizing that we just don't hear enough of these days. And appreciate that flash of a loose smile JT offers toward the end there. He's digging it. (The best performers make that so clear, no?) It's a gorgeous song, meant for headstands or housecleaning or a stolen hot minute between things, when you can just soften into it and let that guitar roll and know that damn, you've already got everything you need.

Matt Morris ~ Official Site

Saturday, March 20, 2010

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

How have I not heard this zinger until today??

"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross." ~ Sinclair Lewis, 1935

After running across this line on a bumper sticker walking up the street after yoga, I bounded all the way home, grinning. Shazaam! There is hope.

Friday, March 19, 2010

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

PET PEEVE: The American cultural blindness to and/or denial of the fact that relationships arise and die, and that this kind of change is normal, and natural, and not to be feared.

Also known as:

Irritable. It could be because this morning was my first practice back with Rusty and the yoga hurt like hell in ways it hasn't hurt in months. A week away, plus lots of wine lunches and vodka evenings and sugary late-nights, will do that to a girl. Add in several long plane flights and a helluva lot of time spent sitting on trains and in cars and this body's a big crunchy ball of pain. It's a humbling reminder that we are always beginners in this practice, no matter how long we've been doing it or how gracefully we've finally come to pronounce the Sanskrit; every day it is new; every day it begins.

Anyway - irritable, yes, for that reason. But even moreso, irritable because once again the newspapers and the tabloids and the evening entertainment programs are splashed with SHOCK! and DISBELIEF! and SENSATION! at the oh-so-visible recent implosions of several ostensibly rock-solid celebrity unions, all featuring bona fide artistes and romantic acceptance speeches and nicely-timed photo ops. Kate Winslet and Sam Mendes, the lovely Brit thespian couple: dunzo. Sandra Bullock and Jesse James, she of the recent Oscar win and he of the badass tats countering her America's Sweetheart image: dunzo. And of course this morning offered more of the latest dish on Tiger Woods's broken marriage, too, what with the release of even more salacious text messages from Tiger's porn-star ladyfriend Joslyn James.

People. Seriously. WHY ARE WE SURPRISED. Sorry to scream, but this bugs the shit outta me. What I would give to douse this culture in a nice big bucket of Buddhist wisdom on relationships and impermanence and transience and flux and change, that rich cross-religious teaching that all things arise and fade away - bodies, homes, relationships, all - and that all beginnings end in separation, be it of the less permanent "break-up" variety or of the more definitive "death" variety. It's normal. It's natural. Lives begin and end and we build them in the process, planting seeds, and they take root and flower and bloom in the radiant sunshine of May or June, maybe, and then the leaves brown and wither and fall off and the branches are bleak and barren come November or so, and whaddya know, they burst forth in new buds the next spring again, like Mother Nature's very own clockwork. It's how shit works. We know this. We are lucky to be reminded of this every freaking year.

And not just Buddhism teaches us this; we see the same theme, in much the same words, in Christian process theologies, too, with their emphasis on quantum physics and the perpetual state of change that is a Reality always in process, always becoming, and we see it in earth religions, in Wicca and pagan traditions rooted in the seasons and nature and that overarching blooming process that is being alive ("we come from dust and to dust we shall return"), and we see it in Native American religions, and in feminist incarnations of this, too, with their emphases on circularity and cycles and seasons and perpetuity and the natural process of death and decay.

So why the fuck do we fail so consistently to apply this knowledge to our own relationships?? Are we so naive, so blind, so hopelessly idealistic and ungrounded in reality, are we so desperate for a pseudo-solid ground to stand on, some illusion of security, that to engage the reality of impermanence engenders too much fear to possibly bear?? Why are we shocked when our loving decays, when it morphs, when it moves, when it shifts, when it's given us the luscious gifts it was meant to give and then it passes on, fades softly away, having fulfilled its duty? Don't we know how much beauty comes from the breaking, the shift, the opening up, the crevices cracking forth to make space for new seeds to fall?

Maybe Kate and Sam got what they needed to out of their union. A kid or two, some rich artistic collaboration, "Revolutionary Road." Maybe desire got the better of them. It's perpetual, this craving, we know this, yeah? Tiger knows it, that's fer damn sure. Why do we resist that? Why don't we just chill out and breathe into it and know that perpetual changing desire is normal and ok and safe, something we can sit with, something we don't need to fear? Right, Jesse? That maybe you and Sandra got what you needed to out of what you had; maybe it was time for you and the tattoo'd chick to get it on; who knows, who can say, but the one thing we can say, with such great surety - well, maybe the two things - are:

"You only lose what you cling to." ~ Buddha


“You must not for one instant give up the effort to build new lives for yourselves. Creativity means to push open the heavy, groaning doorway to life. This is not an easy struggle. Indeed, it may be the most difficult task in the world, for opening.”

~ Daisaku Ikeda, Japanese peace activist and Buddhist leader of Soka Gakkai International

That first one, well, it's obvious. (Insert pithy line here about how relationships are like sand and the more tightly you grip them, the more you lose.) This is why we study clinging and non-grasping and aparigraha in the immaterial sense; this is why we study impermanence and change; it's rich across traditions and implicit in Buddhism and yogic theory especially. It takes practice, reminding; intense, perpetual, mindful, humbling practice, every day, every breath, a letting go, a loosening of the ties.

The second one, the Ikeda, well, I love it for its insistence on our own agency in building our own lives, our own Edens, a claiming of our own responsibility for pushing open that "heavy, groaning doorway to life." (Insert here pithy reference to the overused-but-deserving Anais Nin quote about how "the day came when the risk to remain in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to bloom.") I love it for its understanding that opening, blooming, creating is not effortless; and I love it for its reminder that creativity in particular comes from change and implosion and breaking and cracking.

On that note, I'd bet money that Kate and Sam and Sandra and their ilk will get a helluva lot of great art out of these current breaking-downs. That this present shattering will lend a greater wisdom, a new birth, to their artistic creations to come. I'm less certain about the effect of this latest implosion on Tiger's golf game, the destruction therein of his brand and his affiliations and his endorsements and certainly of his marriage itself; but maybe the lesson for all of us, here, so saturated in this Western insistence upon the lifelong marital bond that is somehow supposed to withstand the ancient universal law of flux and change and death and rebirth, is that relationships come and go, they bloom and wither, and it's ok, it's normal, that even the best of us, the most Botoxed and most beautiful, the most wealthy and the most worshiped, must take solace, find a home in, rest in, that inevitable transience, as well.

/End rant

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

I stumbled across this card last week while picking up a few things at my favorite indie bookstore up Polk Street. Laughter rang out there in that hushed dusty literary sanctuary.

(Speaks for itself.)

Needless to say, I bought about 16.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

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

A human being is only breath and shadow.

~ Sophocles,
tragic Greek playwright

(And that's another Diane Arbus, of course -
less disfigured than her usual fare, no?)

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


Easy Street. Easy come, easy go. An easy train ride into the City after an easy lunch in Jersey with an easy old friend punctuated by easy laughter and easier remembering. Easy, tiger. The joy of people with whom it is easy. The slipping into an easy yoga posture, the resting there, being there, breathing there, unthinkingly, easily. Easy like a Sunday morning. A certain looseness; a particular ease of being in the world. Easy splits (yesssss!). Easy to get up in the morning on 3 hours' sleep when you know so much awaits you, and to stay up into the wee hours knowing how much the next easy day will bring. The slipping into an easy rhythm again with people after too many years, easier than expected. Easy sunlight, the languid ease of a newly-long spring afternoon tasting like grass and vodka and open air. Easy jaunts down I-95 to the next easy visit. It's not easy being green, says Kermit the Frog. (I beg to differ). Easy to use; easy to read. Easy labor. (Take it easy, sister!) An easy opening, a growing into ourselves, the natural blooming of bigger houses and bigger families and vaster horizons. Easy rider. Easy, boy. Easy duck into Wawa for yet another dose of that easy hazelnut vanilla deliciousness. Nice and easy. (Cheap and easy, just like you). Children's easy bending and moving and rolling and flopping, falling, standing, crashing, laughing. Ease of movement, ease of recovery; a certain softness. "Easy Virtue" (not the best film; not Jessica Biel's best career turn; certainly fantastic vintage costumes). Easy lover. The easy grace of Catherine Zeta-Jones gliding confidently onstage along to Stephen Sondheim's not-at-all-easy tempos and melodies and intervals and accidentals. Easy breathing, the deep long extended kinds that come of long drives and excellent jams and open windows and wind in your hair. I breathe more easily here. Easy flights, painless connections, mellow hours lost to closed eyelids and rumination and half-awake dozing while the easy melodies of Sara Bareilles and Green Day and Coldplay trot along easily in the back of your consciousness. Easy banter, easy laughter, easy jokes, easy remembering; the ease of jumping right back in where you left things last time, not a blip, not a skip. Easy sauntering stroll down the brick-laid sidewalks toward an easy lingering lunch in the early-afternoon sunlight tasting like sauvignon blanc and apples and bleu cheese. Easy rhythm, easy cadence, easy patter, easy silence. The remarkable gift that is the easy silence. Not ever to be taken for granted. The easy familiarity of a shared language, a collective memory, a tune already known, a concomitant history, a fondly-shared youth. The ease that sets up all the ease to follow. Easy East Coast navigation, all turnpikes (easy this time around, can you believe it?) and tolls and highways and curves and Baltimore to Philly to New York to Jersey in one fell swoop while you scan the radio and breathe deeply and sing notes with ease at the top of your lungs that you haven't sung since the last time you had the easy gift of an empty car and an emptier road and an emptier sky and such an empty widely broken-open anahata sunyata wild easy heart. Easy, baby. Yeah.


ease: /iz/ [eez]

1. freedom from labor, pain, or physical annoyance; tranquil rest; comfort: to enjoy one's ease.
2. freedom from concern, anxiety, or solicitude; a quiet state of mind: to be at ease about one's health.
3. freedom from difficulty or great effort; facility: It can be done with ease.
4. freedom from financial need; plenty: a life of ease on a moderate income.
5. freedom from stiffness, constraint, or formality; unaffectedness: ease of manner; the ease and elegance of her poetry.

1175–1225; (n.) ME ese, eise < AF ese, OF aise, eise comfort, convenience < VL *adjace(m), acc. of *adjacēs vicinity (cf. ML in aiace in (the) vicinity), the regular outcome of L adjacēns adjacent, taken in VL as a n. of the type nūbēs, acc. nūbem cloud; (v.) ME esen < AF e(i)ser, OF aisier, deriv. of the n.

Monday, March 15, 2010

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

Miss Rachel Lynn has been practicing her Downward Dog.

Can YOU rock a hands-free version whilst eating a cracker and flirting with your godmother?? Me neither. Told you she's a prodigy.

Friday, March 12, 2010

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

Every man is the builder of a temple, called his body, to the god he worships, after a style purely his own, nor can he get off by hammering marble instead. We are all sculptors and painters, and our material is our own flesh and blood and bones.

~ Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Thursday, March 11, 2010

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

Props to my favorite Jersey boy, Greg, who always seems to know before I do exactly which NYT articles are going to rock my world. In this case, it's the "sociologist's dream come true" that is "‘Mad Men’ Dolls in a Barbie World." Take a few minutes to check out yesterday's Business section, where you'll find news of Mattel's newest pop cultural marketing ploy, a Barbie tie-in line featuring four central "Mad Men" characters.

Now you, too, can re-enact Don and Betty's simmering WASPy gin-fueled fights, and then move right along to reconstructing Roger and Joan's illicit lunch-hour hotel room trysts, all in the privacy of your own home, and preferably with small children in tow so you can dive into an amazingly instructional rant on the gender politics of the 1960s and the consumeristic engine of the American advertising machine and the obsolescence of the old suburban nuclear family model. Good times!

The article quotes Robert Thompson, an expert from Syracuse whose name seems to so-often pop up in these pieces on television, pop culture and consumption. I'd really love to study with this dude some day, provided he moves somewhere a little more temperate than upstate New York. He's always got fascinating shit to say:

The pairing of Barbie and “Mad Men” is more interesting than the typical licensing agreement because of their shared history. Barbie was introduced in March 1959, and the first episode of “Mad Men” is set in March 1960.

“'Mad Men’ represents so beautifully the universe that created Barbie,” said Robert Thompson, professor of television and popular culture at Syracuse University, because the series is about the selling of the American consumer society.

The personification of Betty Draper as Barbie is particularly resonant, Mr. Thompson said, because she represents “the wife who lives in her dream house whose soul is eaten away.”

“I have this fantasy of an 8-year-old getting a set” of the dolls, he added, “and saying: ‘Mom, can Chelsea come over? We want to play “The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit.” I’m going to be the organization man, and she’s going to be the soulless drone.’ ”

Hee. Remind me to teach my goddaughters how to say "soulless drone" this weekend. (Can't start too early with the culture jamming, eh, Adbusters?). And before you run out to buy your own plastic Don, check out the final paragraph, where show creator Matthew Weiner alludes to the old-school Midge doll as a possible inspiration for Don Draper's original artistic and bohemian mistress, Midge Daniels, who I kind of not-so-secretly very much want to be.*

*(The beautifully tousled Rosemarie DeWitt! Throwing the TV out the window! Her anti-establishment beatnik friends! Dark nights spent in secret underground jazz clubs! "I don't do breakfast." Yes, please; all of the above.)

'Mad Men' Dolls in a Barbie World, but the Cocktails Must Stay Behind (NYT)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

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

Be nobody's darling;
Be an outcast.
Take the contradictions
Of your life
And wrap around
You like a shawl,
To parry stones
To keep you warm.

~ Alice Walker

Raw, idiom, 14b: Informal. in the nude; naked: sunbathing in the raw.

Sex on the brain.

And not just because I'm still buzzing from MJP's fiery and fabulous burlesque show at the Elbo Room last night, which reminded me quite welcomely how much better life is when sequins and tassels are involved. Or because this pic of old-school Liza makes me want to chuck everything and devote my life to being a slinkily-Cabaret-ing fishnet-clad Fosse ninja. Or because that long-awaited copy of "The Happy Hooker" finally hit my doorstep today.

But also because, well, this repressed sexuality crap has been so very much in the news lately (and why are we surprised again when the homophobic faux-Christian state senator with the horrid anti-LGBT voting record turns out - naturally - to be secretly closeted, as evidenced by his unfortunate inebriated drive home from a Sacramento gay bar??). And because Morford's on fire again with another sexuality rant and I love him anew for saying all the things out loud in a mainstream rag (well, online in a mainstream rag) that so many others are afraid to say.

Granted, my man Mark gets a little caught up in his run-on sentences (dreaminess aside) and his "sticky" adjectives and his gushing imagery, but give him a break, now: where else do you see this kind of real-honest-authentic-grounded dialogue about what "having sex" means? Any queer theorist worth his salt would remind you that progressive intellectuals like Butler and Dworkin and Foucault were having a heyday with this question for years on years before this most recent Kinsey survey came out, their conclusion always being that there's no one way to define "having sex," that it's foolish and boring and blase and heterosexist and phallocentric and vanilla to define it one way or the other, that maybe it's the moment or the eyes or the breath or as Morford writes [loving the yoga shout-out], the "10-minute headstand at the end of a sweaty yoga class." Amen.

And that's really what queer theory and theologies (and, by extension, embodiment theory and body theologies, too) are all about: the awareness that sexuality, eros, desire of one sort or another permeate all we do, all we say, all we see, all we breathe, all we are (and, as some like Carter Heyward would argue, inhabit the "spaces between" wherein the lush sacred divine actually unfolds in relationality), and that to foolishly try to wrap all that up in some pathetic cold-blooded saran-wrapped package as defined by some cross-section of [bless their hearts] repressed Middle Americans, well, just doesn't cut it.

Read Morford's latest; breathe through his long sentences and smile at their subversive fuck-you grammar, and see the populist wisdom therein, making so much of this heady esoteric theory on the fluid nature of sexuality visible and understandable and accessible to the general reading public; take a fresh look at your own life and your own labels and promise you'll chuck these ancient generic definitions of sexuality out the window. You'll be so very glad you did.

Ashburn: I am gay (SFGate)
You call that having sex? (SFGate)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

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

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

~ excerpt from W.H. Auden's "September 1, 1939," quoted so beautifully last night by Alan Jones at the Howie Zinn memorial

Monday, March 8, 2010

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

Really beautiful tribute to Howard Zinn due tonight at the Herbst as part of the City Arts & Lectures series if you're able to switch up your plans at the last minute. What was originally scheduled to be a speech by Zinn on his latest project, "The People Speak," has been turned into a celebration of his life and work following his recent death. Friends like Linda Ronstadt, Anthony Arnove and David Harris will present, along with my favorite old dean of Grace Cathedral, the ever-charming (and wise, and elegant) Alan Jones. See you there.

Howard Zinn ~ City Arts & Lectures

Saturday, March 6, 2010

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

Ohhh, my heart.

"One after another, then by almost geometric progression, things slipped away from me. [A] great burden fell off my shoulders, and I felt that I could now walk with ease and do my work also in the service of my fellow men with great comfort and still greater joy. The possession of anything then became a troublesome thing and a burden.

Exploring the cause of that joy, I found that if I kept anything as my own, I had to defend it against the whole world. ... And I said to myself: if [other people] want it and would take it, they do so not from any malicious motive but...because theirs was a greater need than mine.

And I said to myself: possession seems to me to be a crime, I can only possess certain things when I know that others who also want to possess similar things are able to do so. But we know...such a thing is an impossibility. Therefore, the only thing that can be possessed by all is non-possession, not to have anything whatsoever. Or ... a willing surrender ...."
~ excerpt from The Essential Gandhi: An Anthology of
His Writings on His Life, Work, and Ideas

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

New favorite term: Coca-colonization


"In the 1950s French communists coined a term to describe the pervasive and insidious techniques used by American multinational corporations to exploit less economically developed countries in marketing American products: Coca colonization. Although ostensibly this had nothing to do with health or spirituality, a subtle undertone to the marketing of American food and beverages implied that these countries' cultural ways of eating, drinking, and health care were inferior. Fifty years later type 2 diabetes and other degenerative diseases related to a poor diet, including a great deal of processed, chemicalized foods and carbonated sodas, have now reached epidemic proportions around the world, especially in countries where a Western diet has been adopted. From 1985 to the year 2000 a 500 percent increase in diabetes cases worldwide was recorded. Many overseas public health experts...point their finger at Coca colonization for this worldwide health debacle."

~ excerpted from the cute little alterna-bar book, "Chakra Tonics: Essential Elixirs
for the Mind, Body, and Spirit," by Elise Marie Collins

Friday, March 5, 2010

Raw, idiom, 14b: Informal. in the nude; naked: sunbathing in the raw.

I spent the better part of a sunny yesterday trying to hunt down a copy of this classic of sex-positive literature. It's sadly very out-of-print, and even my more off-the-beaten-path traipses into Good Vibrations and the like produced nothing, even here in mad-progressive SF. it is.

But might I recommend this title as an excellent means of procuring dates, should your type be of the bookstore-clerk variety? I've never seen more eyes light up in my life. "The Happy Hooker" ranks right up with my bundt cake caddy for best source of mojo, ever.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

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

let your life be your art
let your days be your practice


(there are fuschia buds the color of frida's headpiece blooming on the tree outside my window right now. i mourned so unexpectedly when the leaves fell off one day last fall, leaving the branches barren. little did i know they'd be replaced by these vibrant spring blossoms.
why do we ever resist change, not knowing what loss might bring?)

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

Well, good morning, Clint Eastwood!

Between this newest article and the recent Sam Shepard profile, the New Yorker's been all over the spare iconic men of the West lately. David Denby writes in the latest issue about Eastwood: his youth, his move from pretty boy to legit actor to revered director, his thematic shifts from violence to tragedy to marginality, and finally his latest incarnation here on the cusp of turning 80 years old.

Did you know Eastwood was a Bay Area native, like Shepard? And that he grew up on some of the local jazz greats? (Please note the shout-out to my man Chet):
As a teen-ager, hanging around clubs in Oakland and Los Angeles, Eastwood heard such icons of the new West Coast cool style in jazz as Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker and the bebop geniuses in their early days, among them Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. As Eastwood has said, his notion of cool—slightly aloof, giving only the central satisfaction and withholding everything else—is derived from those musicians.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

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

CARLOS: My mother always says that lovers are
like buses. You just have to wait a little while
and another one comes along.

George stubs out his cigarette.

GEORGE: Well, your mother sounds like a whore.


I've been meaning to mention this film for months now. You should see it. Have read it alternately described as "mid-century fashion porn" and "Mad Men for the gay set." If that's not enough to get you there, know that it is aching and articulate, silent and somber, grave and graceful; not unlike The Hours. Colin Firth and Julianne Moore are wizened and wrinkled and weighty. Tom Ford's script and the detailed art direction are to-die-for. The writing says something sorrowful and true about the nature of hope and grief and isolation in an era and a society wherein only certain prescriptive kinds of heteronormative love were permitted. And the killer line above comes from one of my favorite scenes in the film, spoken by a chiseled gigolo under the watchful eyes of Janet Leigh on a sunset overlook outside a liquor store in LA. See it.

A Single Man ~ Official Site

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

Sweet Laila came into the world in the very wee hours of this morning all the way over on the East Coast, and we are so very glad to know she's here. Not only do I wholeheartedly approve of her beautiful and badass name, but it rocks a certain assonance with her last name that gives the whole eponym a fluid sing-song quality. Well-done, my friends.

I've always been partial to the name Laila because it's derived in part from that most favorite of flowers, the Lilac. Every time I catch a whiff, my senses rush me back to a certain South Dakota park from my youth where an overeager lilac bush tumbled over a willing fence.

Someone once asked me: if you could choose one flower - just one - to be delivered in mass bouquets to your home once a week, what would it be? And my answer, hands down: lilacs. (What would you choose, given the chance?)

I'm sure Laila will be seeing a few of these herself in the days to come. So much love, P-Unit!

Monday, March 1, 2010

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

Really beautiful interview with Thich Nhat Hanh in the March issue of Oprah magazine. (I know, I know; I always feel slightly dirty when I link to her stuff. Like, covered in chintz and casseroles and Laura Ashley. Hold on while I go do a tequila shot.....

....ok, I'm back.)

But seriously. Great sit-down chat with the oh-so-famous, oh-so-radiant renowned Vietnamese Buddhist monk. And this interview actually, in many ways, provides an excellent introduction to many basic Buddhist concepts for the newbie who might be intrigued by the whole Siddhartha/Four Noble Truths bit.

Read it; nod as you acknowledge the ecumenical wisdom of Hanh's meditation practice as manifested in tea-drinking and silent dining; really sit with his discussions of listening and suffering and compassion and mindfulness, and find therein so many cross-religious theological parallels. Here's one of my favorite exchanges:
Oprah: The nature of Buddhism, as I understand it, is to believe that we are all pure and radiant at our core. And yet we see around us so much evidence that people are not acting from a place of purity and radiance. How do we reconcile that?

Nhat Hanh: Well, happiness and suffering support each other. To be is to inter-be. It's like the left and the right. If the left is not there, the right cannot be there. The same is true with suffering and happiness, good and evil. In every one of us there are good seeds and bad. We have the seed of brotherhood, love, compassion, insight. But we have also the seed of anger, hate, dissent.

Oprah: That's the nature of being human.

Nhat Hanh: Yes. There is the mud, and there is the lotus that grows out of the mud. We need the mud in order to make the lotus.

Oprah: Can't have one without the other.

Nhat Hanh: Yes. You can only recognize your happiness against the background of suffering. If you have not suffered hunger, you do not appreciate having something to eat. If you have not gone through a war, you don't know the value of peace. That is why we should not try to run away from one thing after another thing. Holding our suffering, looking deeply into it, we find a way to happiness.
Then, today, practice one of the elegant mantras he recommends. Just say it: "Darling, I'm here for you." Can you imagine how the world would open up if we just sat down across from one another and spoke those few words out loud every day??

Oprah Talks to Thich Nhat Hanh (

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

My wise and passionate and artistic old friend Molly sent me the loveliest surprise last week for my birfday, and I've been admittedly obsessed since. Please meet my favorite new cloche, fittingly kelly green and here pulled low over my last-night's-eye-makeup-wearing eyes, hand-knitted with love by my somehow insanely proficient friend in between dissertating and gardening and raising a genius and aiding and abetting a doctor husband. I pull this thing on and feel like a walking, talking plant, freshly watered and lush with prana, preparing to bloom. Perf.

Not ashamed to admit that I slept in it last night.

So don't be surprised to find me green-clad and cloche-bearing in the weeks to come. I'm in hat love. A million crafty thanks, Mol.

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

Over the weekend, my boys Tom and Ben and I were lucky enough to share in the christening ceremony for the Plastiki as she prepares to set sail in the next few weeks. The crew was all dolled up in fresh green Polynesian leis - they clean up so well! - and there was a good crowd there to cheer along with us, in spite of the cold and the wind and the wet (and the, er, sinking dock). The gang is set to take the ship into the Pacific this week for a several-day test run, and after that, the actual launch date is all about the weather conditions. So, keep your eyes on the news for updates on the exciting voyage to Australia.

In the meantime, here are a few pics to whet your eco-activist appetites.

She floats!! See the black reclining chair there to the left? That's actually the seat to the bicycle that will help generate power on the boat. Cool, eh.

The beauty herself. On the water. Shining in the sun. Wow.

Side view of the hull made entirely of - wait for it - plastic bottles!!

Singing and wreaths and mana and kava and excitement and radiant skipper Jo.

I hang out with such hotties. Here they are trying to stay warm before the ceremony.

Skipper Jo drinks the kava while David looks on.

Most days I still can't believe that this is my backyard. Swoon.

The whole crew, lookin' fly.

The floor porthole in the cabin interior that looks down into the sea below. How cool is that?!

And let's close with my favorite: that would be Ash in the loo, which was apparently christened in its own way by a certain famous comedian the other day. Love it. Love them. What a buzz! Can't wait to hear all the news from the voyage to Sydney.