Monday, December 31, 2007
by Charles Reznikoff
Not because of victories
but for the common sunshine,
the largess of the spring.
Not for victory
but for the day's work done
as well as I was able;
not for a seat upon the dais
but at the common table.
Happy New Year, dear friends close to me and dappled readers one shade beyond.
Friday, December 28, 2007
"I intend to drink my mortgage industry sorrows and await the next crisis to hit the financial world, the credit card debacle. Maybe I can charge a bunch of stuff and Bush will lower my interest rate since we Americans certainly don't know that a house worth 500K will not be at 1000 dollar payments a month no matter how may brokers tell you that."
— Rahim, Dallas, Texas
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
All my life, I have lacked two things: a camera and a sense of direction. This year, both deficits have been resolved.
One crazy sweet elf gave me a digital camera. Fantastic! I took pictures of snow. I took pictures of prime rib (it is not very photogenic). I took pictures of cookies, my shoes, angels (below), my hands, doorways, window sills, my obliging parents, my sleeping grandmother, of police at the Dunkin' Donuts (Bavarian cream, good call), of passing ambulances, electric snowflakes (also below), inflatable lawn art, the whole god damned Christmas shebang.
I took pictures of pictures, themselves already framed on the wall. I took pictures and deleted them, sent them places, took them four times over just to pick which I liked best. This is tremendous. I am quite sure, in fact, that no one has ever owned or used a camera before. Otherwise, it's all they'd talk about. I do believe I am the first to experience this rapture. What a holiday. All I can say is just wait till you too get to work with this new-fangled invention, this enthralling little box of light; it’s great, good fun—but now onto the showstopping news.
That would be the sense of direction. Brothers and sisters of this new, well-met year, I have received a GPS for the Matrix. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, you have no idea my joy (unless you’ve been in the car with me, in which case, alas, you know how sorely I lack the ability to drive anywhere beyond my own bedroom). The miracle device’s name is
Chelsea is versatile as all good performers ought to be—she can direct me in Italian (rawr!), with a British accent, whatever my fancy—she’s absolutely bellissima, bloody brilliant. I tell her my destination and off we go, sure on our course. If I overshoot a turn (though it’s quite hard to mess up when she guides me with such sterling confidence and clarity), she patiently says “recalculating” and directs me back to the original destination by way of the next shortest, sensible route. She’s infinitely reliable, thanks to her satellite network. Hillary, you could learn a thing or two from your daughter’s efficient utility.
Above: After the show at the Jazz Standard, I hung by the Rockefeller tree with the angels—the tree, btw, had blue lights for Hannukah, did you notice? That was a first; better late than never—and anyway, angel and I pretended we were Nicholas Peyton blowin' it out in the horn section. (Though if I had it to do over again, I'd have angled the umbrella down, not up, and stood in as the fella on alto sax, Donald Harrison. As my father, who has become startlingly hip and jazzy in recent years, would say, man, that cat can blow. Check Harrison out. You'll be glad you did.)
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Christmas, post-dinner. Mom and I had energy to burn. Both fidgety and disinclined to read or otherwise operate productively in the world, we decided to pack up some gifts and bring them up to the baby Jesus at the local church for his big 2012th birthday. Things did not go quite as planned.
First off, our lord baby Jesus had been stolen. Awesome surprise. See for yourself:
But I had walked all that way with my frankincense and myrrh. So someone was going to pose for me in that frickin' manger. Mom, gamey and ever deferent to my bratty pleas, climbed on in. Again, awesome. Awesome, that is until she thought she heard it crack. That's what we've captured very flatteringly here. (For the record, it did not crack. And also for the record, we’d not had a sip of moonshine. Nothing.)
I made several friends along the way, including a nice gay man to whom I gave a holiday bouquet:
And a thirsty lamb:
And a mechanical bull that, to my disappointment, did not take quarters, after all.
Merry Christmas, folks. If you're damned if you do and damned if you don't, well then you might as well. Right? Next up, New Year's.
Monday, December 24, 2007
Observation Late December, temp in the twenties with wind chill. I am going for a run.
Experiment Marathon training continues, regardless of locale.
Analysis Incorrecto, Doktor Kennedito! I nearly died.
Conclusion I am a lily-livered, pansy-footed West Coaster incapable of exerting myself anywhere but in a Surfin' Safari video set.
Above: Laughing death in the face.
Monday, December 17, 2007
(Looking at the map included in the story, I gotta say I think someone on the BBC's cartography team may have been hitting the Maker's Mark because Pennsylvania appears to be eating its way into Jersey's westerly midsection. So much for Trenton.)
Let me try to get you there: Etta James, Tori Amos, Norah Jones, and Koko Taylor all rolled into one in a smart, darling, effervescent package. Her subject matter runs from an NPR-inspired number on domestic violence to a heartfelt ode to the metal roller skate. She's all impossible charm and whimsy. She's got lungs like you would not believe, unswerving vocal control, and a vibrato that ranges, rages, and rattles cages. A human that manages to purr. I can't say her recordings do justice to her live performance. She's really all that in person. But a CD may do ya in a pinch. (I challenge you to play "Give Me a Reason" in the car and resist singing along. I find myself hollering along without even realizing it sometimes, missing exits, fleeting past stop signs, rolling off roads into the brush. And still, we sing.)
Here are some lame pictures. (I asked my imaginary admin Hillary to get me a camera, but she's busy Christmas shopping for herself.)
Thursday, December 13, 2007
The butter changed my life. This fascinating big hunk of heavensent fat alerted me to the inherent limitlessness of hedonism, a greedy reality that has never since left me, not once. Up to that point (I think I was around seven), I'd not only lacked a consciousness of food and its various local incarnations, but of where it came from in the very first place, what seasons brought which produce, how things like butter were even made.
And that, not really in any kind of linear thought progression that holds the conceptual hand of you, dear and ever-patient reader, brings me now to tins of biscuits. As phenomenally farmy as the bacon, butter, and bread were, the biscuits at said family farm were a tremendous disappointment to my young Wonder-bread palate. Likely packed with rolled oats, wheat germ, and other wholesome dust, the biscuits served in that heatless canister of a house delighted my grandparents and parents alike. Me, not so much. I rolled the mealy lumps around in my mouth and hardly took my eyes off the butter, which I just wanted to take, dip in sugar, and eat. (I had done this before with Land O'Lakes.)
Still, it is with some wistful reminiscence of those dreaded biscuits—and the kitchen with what stands in my mind now as an old Wedgewood and below it, Mick the meanest Jack Russell staring and growling at me after a long day's herding cows—that I present to you dog biscuits that (yes, I tried them) bear an uncanny, and therefore sentimental, resemblance to my greataunt's miniature oat bran ship anchors/biscuits.
They're easy to make. The dog will love them. Mick guarantees.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
I am bereft of words and of hope. Woot indeed.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Monday, December 10, 2007
K, well there's more to come on this case. The hearing yesterday was limited to racketeering charges at the state level, I believe. Vick could still receive a federal sentence for neglect and abuse charges—and if I've got it right, he's just admitted he personally helped hang two of the victim dogs. So the question will be—if he is in fact sentenced to more time—whether they'll restrict him from serving it concurrently.
Here's a new piece from the Contra Costa Times.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Here, as a point of reference, is Adam Gopnik on Cornell's work: "The art under inspection ... has ... old French hotel ads and stuffed birds and soap-bubble pipes hermetically sealed behind glass, evoking vanished Victorian worlds of Curiosity Shops and steamer trunks and natural-history-museum displays of long-refuted principles. They ought to have dated; they ought to date; they are, in a way, about being dated. And yet something keeps the visitor locked in place, looking, and turns his mind to the warmer, though still not quite satisfying, words of romantic praise: haunting, mysterious, dreamy, sublime.... "
Why does it always seem the artists I favor are characterized as provincial or dusty or quaint in effete intellectual circles? Cornell built little windows of imagination. Art. Period. I'm not sure why we need to speak of nostalgia in the diminutive. I think his art is beautiful and the simple measure of that effect is in the oblivion of my singular I, the checking of one overblown sense of self, even if just for a few seconds. For the record, I'm all for art without irony, complication, or ornamentation. Huzzah for steamer trunks of nostalgia, old chaps!
Simplicity is the highest art we've got.
(That picture is from icanhascheezburger.com, by the way, my latest in an endless array of time-destroying diversions.)
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Monday, December 03, 2007
During the twelve-miler through Berkeley yesterday, the following citizen assurance won Best in Show for my favorite sightseeing experience. It's a two-step dance. First, one thinks as she approaches the car, "Oh how awful." And if that someone is me, she imagines the worst for the passengers:
Then, in passing, she is met at the side window with a note (blurry, sorry) that makes her laugh out loud, stop for a second, and just take in how great some people can be:
What a considerate Berkeley resident. How much better this made the last leg of the route, knowing that, at least in that instance, the evidence looked so much worse than the event ... and how comforting to know that someone out there was aware enough to realize that I—or any random stranger taking in the sight of such a gnarled car—would benefit from witnessing the small, seemingly insignificant solace of miraculous survival.