Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Tis the season to GIVE!

It's a good time to give!

Micro-donations make a difference - so don't feel like you can't give!  Even donations as small as a dollar add up if you spread the word, too!

In the spirit of the season, here are a few places your donations will make a contribution to the quality of life of many people.


Los Angeles' public radio station and one of the best radio stations in the world.  They bring culture to Los Angeles, and they tie together all the different cultural media and institutions.  At the moment I'm crushing on Edward Goldman's Art Talk, but who can live without Evan Kleiman's Good Food, or MBE w/Jason Bentley, and my always personal fave - Jeremy Sole?


Giving shelter to women who need it in times of trouble.  Think on it - this is very necessary.


Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center has been holding down poetry in Venice for DECADES.  What other poetry venue can you think of that has kept it together for so long and brought out so many voices from our local scene?  They are going through some radical transition and need dollars and members to transform into the 21st Century organization they are going to become.

United States Artists

A micro-financing site for artists of all disciplines with projects they are hoping to fund.  Just scroll through and pick a project you'd like to see come to fruition.  Imagine it was that easy to get your project going...it is!

All of these are practically one-click donatable!

Feel free to suggest your own below!

Monday, 27 December 2010

Monday's Quote - Garland

"Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of someone else."

-Judy Garland

Monday, 20 December 2010

Monday's Quote - Jefferson

"It is neither wealth nor splendor, but occupation and tranquility which give happiness."

- Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Practivist of the Week - Dean Atta

Photo by Naomi Waddis

Practivist Questionnaire

How old are you, if you don’t mind?

I'm 26 and proud! I'm technically no longer a 'young person', I'm a man. I'm a man with a plan.

A lot of people think I'm younger than I am, I have a young energy and people think I'm in my late teens or early twenties, but if you do your homework or ask around or even Google me you'll see that I've been around for quite a while.

What is the main focus of your practivism at this time and how does that manifest?

I speak for change and I don't write without a reason.   I  produce events to raise awareness for a cause or to support a specific community.

Recently I was commissioned by The Damilola Taylor Trust to write a tribute poem to mark 10 years since his death.  I performed the piece  at the Spirit of London Awards. As the only poet in the line-up of artists including chart-toppers Labrinth, Alexandra Burke, Roll Deep and Daley, I am reaching mainstream audiences in big venues. It was great to be back at the Spirit of London Awards as a performer as I was there last year picking up the award for Achievement through the Arts

Earlier this year I produced an event called 'Gay Africa' to bring together artists and activists to discuss LGBT rights and equality in Africa, as well as the need for support from, and asylum in the UK.  Before the last General Election, I launched the  'Silence Is Not Golden' (SING) campaign to get more young people engaged with politics.  SING is an on going movement to give a voice to marginalized and disenfranchised people using music, poetry, drama, and lively debate. 

I'm a member of poetry collective Point Blank Poets (PBP) which includes the talents of Sabrina Mahfouz, Deanna Rodger, Chimene Suleyman, Bridget Minamore and others. Our first project was Rhymes Won't Wait,  funded by the Ideas Tap.  Since then, we have collaborated with charities and socially conscious organizations such as Fairtrade, TRAID, Object Against Female Objectification, English PEN and Love Music Hate Racism to help further the reach of their message. In 2011, we will represent the UK at the next International Young Artists Biennale in Morocco.

Next up, I will be launching a brand new project called Recycled Tunes, to educate young people about recycling and sustainability through recording music made from recyclable objects, and writing lyrics about sustainability to make credible tunes with a positive message. This project has already gained support from the BBC, Recycled for London, Sound Connections and Veolia waste management services, and has the potential to be a London-wide, Nationwide and International project.

What route did you take to get here?

I always follow my heart and my conscience and try to do things that will make my mum proud.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Monday's Quote - Stoppard

"It is a defect of God's humour that he directs our hearts everywhere but to those who have a right to them."

From one of my favorite plays.  

Monday, 6 December 2010

Monday's Quote - Chandler

Oh - this is a long one.  It's from The Notebooks of Raymond Chandler and the heading is "Great Thought" and I think, perhaps, it is...anyway, it's in keeping my latest science and art themes.

"There are two kinds of truth:  the truth that lights the way and the truth that warms the heart.  The first of these is science, and the second is art.  Neither is independent of the other or more important than the other.  Without art science would be as useless as a pair of high froceps in the hands of a plumber.  Without science art would become a crude mess of folklore and emotional quackery.  The truth of art keeps science from becoming inhuman, and the truth of science keeps art from becoming ridiculous.

-Raymond Chandler

Monday, 29 November 2010

Monday's Quote - Ackerman

"I guess it shouldn't surprise us to find ourselves linked with the stars. Every atom of gold or silver jewelry was created in supernovas.  The water we drink, the air we breathe, the ground we walk, the complicated pouch of fluids and salts and minerals and bones we are -- all forged in some early chaos of our sun.  I think it was the astrophysicist John Wheeler who remarked that we are the sun's way of thinking about itself."

-Diane Ackerman
It was serendipitous to find this quote - I've just recently seen a play about astrophysicist Beatrice Tinsley who makes this connection very strongly in her life and work.  I've reviewed it for Remote Goat if you want to read it.
Diane Ackerman wrote the amazing A Natural History of the Senses - a book all artists should check out.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Monday's Quote - Moreau

“To me, life is going up until you are burned by flames. Life is an accomplishment and each moment has a meaning and you must use it. Life is given to you like a flat piece of land and everything has to be done. I hope that when I am finished, my piece of land will be a beautiful garden, so there is a lot of work.”

Jeanne Moreau, Oscar Werner and Henri Serre in Jules et Jim
Arguably the greatest cinema actress, and certainly both prolific in her own work as well as a muse to others, Moreau evidences her passion for life here as openly as she manages to slyly control its embers on screen.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Practivist of the Week - Catherine Brogan


Catherine Brogan

Practivist Questionnaire

How old are you, if you don’t mind?

25 (nearly 26)

What is the main focus of your practivism at this time and how does that manifest?

Feminism, FairTrade, some green stuff, squatting, performing, organisng events and fundraisers linked with poetry.

I live in a squatted house so I can be artistic and not strangled by bills.

Amazing squat!
I attend demos.

Make my own clothes.

What route did you take to get here?

Degree politics and English focusing on international relations.

2 summers in Kenya.

Worked in various FairTrade jobs.

After lots of job redundancies and poetry success have decided poetry can't be resisted any more.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Monday's Quote - Tomlin

"I always wanted to be somebody, but now I realize I should have been more specific."

-Lily Tomlin

One of my favorite ladies ever!

Come out to B.E.A.T tonight - check the Up/Coming page for deets....

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Practivist of the Week - Julie Titus


Julie Titus in Guatemala
Practivism Questionnaire

How old are you, if you don’t mind?


What is the main focus of your practivism at this time and how does that manifest?

My practivism stems from the absolute truth that serving others is how we truly serve ourselves. The more healing and practical/sustainable solutions we offer each other, the more we connect with our own fears, disconnectedness, shallowness, and judgements. When we force ourselves to face the pain and suffering of others, we break through new barriers in our psyches and evolve into more courageous and outspoken people than we've ever imagined. So in short my humanitarianism is a completely self serving endeavor (j/k).

What route did you take to get here?

There are dozens of experiences and dreams that have lead me to this current stage of hunger to serve and travel. From watching the History Channel as a child, to being humiliated at a party I catered, to looking into the face of my daughter and striving to give her both the childhood I never had as well an understanding of the world that I was never exposed to, the result has been a fairly new birth for me; the birth of Global Mother.

Global Mother is my multi-faceted and multi-intentional business directed at serving other non-profits, serving the people they serve in the most humble and enthusiastic capacity, and serving the locally disadvantaged by giving them the gift of travel.

So far I've joined a team of amazing single moms who have managed to individually and collectively raise the money and awareness to travel Guatemala this past summer. While there, we served the women and children of Guatemala city who live in the trash dump community surrounding the 40-acre municipal trash dump.  Domestic violence, poor education, exposure to toxic chemicals, and extreme poverty are just a few of the issues affecting the everyday lives of these people.

What I believe is most important to remember, is that for each and every one of these lives, there is a face, a name, a dream and a story.

Mirna, is a single mother of 7 and grandmother of 2 who attends the literacy program of Safe Passage and generates income by making earth-conscious jewelry. She has an amazing presence and beautiful smile, although you can see the years of hard work and pain in her hands.

Ariste, is a bright, rambunctious seven year-old boy who loves to play, fight, give hugs and be held. He needs sponsors to afford the nutritional and educational program that Safe Passage provides. more importantly he needs to feel cared about and motivated to continue his education passed the 6th grade education that Guatemala can provide.

The trip we took changed the lives of the women and children we spent time with. They changed us too. They made us more grateful, more loving, more brave women. We pass this to our children and now we feel equipped to raise a generation of Americans who give a damn about what goes on in the world outside their borders of Disney, McDonalds, and American Idol.

Guatemala is just one trip taken so far, but the vision remains so much greater! We plan to serve Uganda, Bali, Thailand, Korea, Mexico, and .... south central Los Angeles!  My deepest passion is PEOPLE; healing, touching, serving, giving hope and life. In turn, I receive those benefits too. So call me today. I look forward to partnering with you and nurturing the world... one village at a time.

If you are interested in joining us, sponsoring us, leading a trip, or just learning more about whats on the map, please feel free to contact me anytime.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Monday's Quote - Van Gogh

"The more I think it over, the more I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people."

- Vincent Van Gogh

It's Monday.  Be careful out there.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Practivist of the Week - Michele D'Acosta

Michele D'Acosta

Practivism Questionnaire

How old are you, if you don’t mind?

 I was born in January 1965!

What is the main focus of your practivism at this time and how does that manifest?

The main focus of my practivism at this time is creating artwork and making documentary films as a catalyst for positive social change. The way that this aim manifests itself at this time is that I am working with an organisation called The Peace Project which is an international collaborative art competition and exhibition created to connect peace-minded individuals everywhere. All net proceeds from sales of The Peace Project artwork and related products will be used in Sierra Leone to provide healthcare, education and other services and infrastructure designed to help people sustain themselves and their families long term.

What route did you take to get here?

Well my practivism journey began, in earnest, in 1989 when I started working in the Press Office of the UK branch of Amnesty International. At that time, I was writing articles about Amnesty's Prisoners of Conscience campaign, and their anti-death penalty campaign, and had the honor of meeting a nun called Sister Helen Prejean who was based in New Orleans and campaigned tirelessly on behalf of men on Death Row in Louisiana, many of whom were innocent or, had been sentenced as minors, to the death penalty.

Fast forward to 2010, where the most recent leg of my practivism journey is currently in progress....! I am a member of an LA-based online artists community called The Whole 9 which was founded by Lisa Schultz about four years ago.  I found The Whole 9 via Google in 2009, and that's how I got involved with my current practivist project, which is The Peace Project.

*Note from Michele - Sister Helen Prejean's work was the subject of the Tim Robbins-directed film Dead Man Walking starring Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Monday's Quote - Rodgers

"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there."

-Will Rodgers

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Porn is Boring - Sofia Coppola's Somehwere (with spoilers)


The opening scene of Somewhere is painful to watch. 

Camera in a small hotel room in a medium-wide lock-off as twin strippers dressed as candy stripers do a pole dance routine.  The scene goes on forever – their routine timed to a song, their moves half-hearted, their sexuality absent.  So boring it is almost assaultive, Jonny Marco takes the easy way out; he simply falls asleep.

Welcome to LA via Sofia Coppola, Mistress of Our Discontent.  As she did in the fantastic Lost in Translation, and the possibly too much maligned Marie Antoinette, Coppola shows us the result of decades of material isolationism – complete personal disconnect.  Celebrity is the topic, but not the issue – Johnny could literally be anybody.  His jeans, work boots and faded t-shirts, along with his ever-present beer make him an American everyman who happens to live in a hotel and drive a natty sports car.  Still, Jonny doesn’t seem to know he is prosperous.  Presumably somebody somewhere pays his hotel bills and child support, but generally he just asks for things and they appear.

He doesn’t ask for his daughter, but she appears as everything else does, in some bubble of time and space. After taking her to skating practise, he seems impressed.  He asks how long she has been doing it and she replies three years.  Somehow, he failed to notice.
Required to go to Italy by yet another phone call telling him where to go and what to do, Marco has to take Cleo. The Italian sequence plays like a parallel universe La Dolce Vita.  Marco’s life is not sweet but brittle; it is grandiose and weird and takes place around you, but doesn’t involve you.  The only women are over-accessorized and most are trying to sleep with you for bragging rights.  The ones who have slept with you already are mad at you and the only way to shut them up is to sleep with them again, which angers your daughter, but her you can appease.
Stephen Dorff/Elle Fanning

Any actual sex is off-screen.  Onscreen, Marco is a sexual narcopleptic – falling asleep whenever he’s supposed to be stimulated.  This is reality porn – a slice of life without a cum shot.  He goes through life as a sleepwalker, doing what he is told, no matter how boring or unpleasant.  He shrugs off awards, press junkets, and parties he is having completely orchestrated by others with equanimity.  He does not seem to know what to do with himself at all when someone is not giving him the very next task.  Only Cleo’s presence seems to thaw him to life, but perhaps too little too late.

The film’s only almost a-ha moment comes when Marco drives Cleo to summer camp.  Her mother has now taken indefinite leave of LA and parenting.  Elle Fanning’s stoic Cleo breaks down in tears as they drive into the desert, suddenly becoming the child she is, wondering what she will be coming back to when camp is over.  As Marco says goodbye to her as he stands under the already whirling helicopter, he has a moment where he almost decides to become a man and her father, yet somehow, lets it fall short.  She has not heard; he makes no effort to comfort her or even himself.

The film’s ending seems to leave us near where we started.  Marco has come to some level of self-awareness, but we’ve no idea if he’ll use this to help himself or destruct completely.  His blubbering phone call to what is most likely an ex is a typical feature of Los Angeles modern life.  She has no time for him and his self-indulgence, as he probably had no time for her needs when she presented them.

With it’s aridity and heat, LA does not eviscerate, it evaporates the lives of its humans.  Marco is just another patch of desert sand hoping to hide a gusher underneath.  Coppola unfolds this slowly, carefully, sleekly and elegantly, delivering a movie dripping with the sorrow of loneliness, and ultimately more haunting than any genre film you may take in over the Halloween weekend.

Sofia Coppola


Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Practivist of the Week - Mark Walton

Well - here it is - the first pracitivist feature!  He's answered my "Practivism Questionnaire" and here are the responses.

Mark Walton

Practivism Questionnaire

Name:  Mark Walton

How old are you, if you don’t mind?

I’m 41 – and even if I did mind there wouldn’t be much I could do about that.

What is the main focus of your practivism at this time and how does that manifest?

The main focus of my practivism is currently The Waterways Project @ CIVA. It’s a new project that I set up with a friend in August this year to explore the potential for the development of community assets and social enterprise on and around Britain’s canal system.

British Waterways, the public body that manages the 2,200 miles of canals in Britain, is about to be transformed into a charity. We want to ensure that as many communities as possible benefit from this change. We believe that the canal system, as well as being a magnificent piece of industrial heritage, also has the potential to be the biggest piece of sustainable infrastructure in the UK. Think about New York’s 1.5 mile High Line then multiply by about 1,500...

What route did you take to get here?

When the government first started to publicly consult on the idea of turning British Waterways into a charitable body, my mind started racing with ideas at how this could open up opportunities for communities living on and around the canals. But the canals have a long history and some long-standing user groups and so there was also a fear that only those people already interested would get involved in thinking about this new opportunity.

I racked my brains for someone to talk to about it and thought of my friend Ben Metz. We used to work together in community recycling organisations many moons ago and we get fired up about the same kind of issues. We met up for beers a few times over a number of months and our excitement grew. We sketched out an idea for a big conference to bring people together and went to a funder to ask them to back it. They liked our idea but sent us away and told us to come back with a bigger project. So we did.

The Waterways Project will run for about six months. We have two paid part-time workers, a couple of interns and we are busy seeking pro bono help and approaching business schools to see if we can get some of their students working on projects for us.

The transformation of British Waterways into a charity was confirmed by the government in the last couple of weeks and we only have a few months to influence how it happens, what it ends up looking like, and to excite a whole load of new people into thinking differently about our waterways.

We believe there are opportunities to develop new social enterprises in the fields of housing, energy generation, food growing and a range of other sectors that could provide new income for the charity as well as jobs and other benefits for local communities. We’ve created an online map so that local canal users can get involved by suggesting ideas in their area. More generally we are also developing a business case for each of the sectors we are exploring.

What makes this practivism?

The government in the UK is currently looking to offload a whole range of assets from public into private / charity / community ownership. We could have just thrown our hands up in horror and complained about it. We could have never taken it beyond the pub, or Twitter, or Facebook.

Instead we looked at what was happening and asked ourselves how we could turn this to the advantage of social entrepreneurs and communities. We looked at our own knowledge and connections and skills and decided how we could best use them. Then we convinced someone else that it was worth funding us to do it. 

From here, where?

Who knows? This project is focused on one particular case of an asset being moved from the public sector into charitable ownership. But there will be others.  We are looking to see where we can apply the lessons we are learning in this project and how we can develop our approach to create genuine new opportunities to involve communities in the management of our commonly held assets.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

beauty in the hood - first in a series

Yeah - am completely behind with this blogging thing, which you'll notice when you realize I'm still blogging LA stuff and am 3 weeks gone from there!

I took these videos in the hood - this is part of the outdoor space between LACMA and the Tar Pits. 

This is what art is for - to bring beauty and tranquility into daily life.  I like to watch these clips when it's getting a little hectic in my world.


Calder always had a way with public art - featured here Hello Girls!

Monday, 25 October 2010

Monday's Quote - Lee

"Use that which works, and take it from any place you can find it."

-Bruce Lee

I find this to be a particularly liberating notion. 

Happy Week!

Friday, 22 October 2010

the birth of practivism?

Practivism:  proactive, pragmatic, promotable activism.

As far as I know, I just came up with this word or contraction.  Maybe I should google it.

It's been a strange week - an explosive pub owner, and a full moon on the rise -- I've been witnessing a lot of rants, even more than usual even for a spoken word artist.

(I have just googled.  It appears Canadian designers are using the term.  Canadian + designer = double progressives.)

Rants are good chest-clearers, but they can lead to hating.  And we all know being a hater is not where it's at. 

Is going to rallies and marches being an activist?

So many people in the grassroots community refer to themselves as activists, that it makes me wonder sometimes what we think that term means.

Tweeting that you are upset about a jury verdict in a police brutality case - does that make you an activist?

Does just having, holding, and perhaps occasionally speaking an alternative opinion to public policy make you an activist?

I say no.

I say working solidly within your community to build it to a better place makes you a practivist.

So now I'm thinking I might highlight some practivists every so often.  Lucky for me, I know quite a few.

: )

Monday, 18 October 2010

Monday's Quote - Basho

"Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of men of old; seek what they sought."


Ah....lovely....welcome to the week!

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Monday's Quote on Tuesday -- Planck

I claim yesterday as a travel day.  And today as a jet-lag day.  And, no, that's not the quote.  This is:

"When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change."

-Max Planck

That's physics talking.  Make of it what you will.

Monday, 4 October 2010

the books are here!

and they look awesome!

: )

Monday's Quote - Beal

Welcome to the first Monday in October!  Let's make it count!

"Love they neighbour as yourself, but choose your neighbourhood."

-Louise Beal

This meant a lot to me when I first encountered it.  If you have comments or thoughts, leave them below.

Oh, and the SWIMMING THROUGH AMBER book release is tonight!

Hope to see you there!

Saturday, 2 October 2010

the social dilemma

I was going to do a review-style blog on The Social Network, but then I read Joe Morgenstern's fantastic Wall Street Journal review, and decided there was no need.  As a movie, this is the ugly underside of Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World and the true inheritor of the original Wall Street's mantle as definitive of a generation's relationship to power, money and avarice.

Eisenberg's Zuckerberg and Timberlake's Parker get the bad mojo rolling

What is gnawing at me about the movie, though -- one of the best and tensest dramas I've ever seen -- is the implications of the truths it lays bare.

1:  Was the largest social construct ever created outside of civilization itself engineered by a sociopath?

2:  If there was no Facebook would Tyler Clementi  have killed himself last week?

These beg a lot of questions.  Most importantly:  is Zuckerberg a sociopath?

Just for fun - here's the Oxford American definition:

sociopath |ˈsōsēōˌpaθ|nouna person with a personality disorder manifesting itself in extreme antisocial attitudes and behavior and a lack of conscience.

After sitting with the movie for a bit and mulling over Zuckerberg's behaviour, the answer is, well, not exactly - not yet or rather, not in the time frame of the movie.  He certainly has tendencies.  The urges behind those tendencies get channeled into programming and then you get Facebook, and we all know where we are with that.

There are a lot of chicken-egg scenarios here, and the potential for circling logic.  If he wasn't such a great programmer would he have become American Psycho instead?  Or, if he wasn't such a great programmer would he also not have the same sociopathic tendencies.  He didn't exactly commit crimes, he committed indiscretions.  Those may have come from his being emotionally immature which may have been the result of his age, or those may have come from his upbringing, which we don't see in the movie, or they may just be part of his character.  The question is whether the same Mark Zuckerberg, with tiny changes in situation, could have evolved into someone very different.  Say a Unabomber type.

Again, a lot of assumptions, but here's what I'm really interested in.  What happens when a person who has a whole lot of trouble with humanity in general and individuals specifically is the architect of the web that now binds us beyond time and geography.

Well, the answer is we don't know.  In the words of the movie, "we don't know what it is yet."

But what do we know?

That a very promising young musician committed suicide last week because his privacy was violated in the most intimate of ways.

For the recap - his roommate and a friend had a webcam going in the room while Tyler Clementi had a date with a man.  They not only watched this from the room next door - they streamed it.  This not only exposed someone's most intimate moments, it also outed him as a homosexual.

What does Mark Zuckerberg have to do with this?   Nothing.  And everything.

We exist differently since Facebook.  Myspace did not change our behaviour in the ways that Facebook has.  We exist collectively, we will be assimilated, all the while flailing our arms exclaiming our individuality.  We will lives our lives in public, then post links to the erosions of our privacy.

We were never very good with boundaries as a species.  We overdid it in Victoriana and the 50's, then we got wildly free in the 60's and 70's until STD's and HIV put a stop to that party.  We have spent the Oprah decades oversharing which might have been okay if not for Facebook, and Twitter, where we can completely disconnect our impulse controls, circumvent out own judgement and tie our brains into the collective grid.  William Gibson called this "jacking in" and it seemed like a far-off concept in Neuromancer.  It doesn't anymore.

When Tyler's roommate and his friend were streaming live video, they were committing an extreme case of oversharing.   They were sharing somebody else's private moments.  Before you argue, think about times you might have posted things on behalf of other people without their permission or prior knowledge,  say "Alfie and I just had an awesome brunch at The Griddle" or "my prayers go out to so and so and their family on their loss," (I imagine there are a lot of those out there now about Tyler) perhaps even linking them to your post, so others have theability to examine their lives .

Tyler's roommate and his friend were doing it as a lark -- in another pop culture moment, they were punking him.

Mostly, and this is sad, I suspect they were doing it because they could.  And because it was cool.  And both of these things are concepts Sorkin's screenplay and Fincher's movie tackle.

Mallory climbed Everest famously, "because it's there."  Hackers and coders have long had that same sense of adventure, though they do it from home.

Zuckerberg built Facebook because he could see it and because it opened a window on the coolness he coveted  that might possibly lead to a door.  He and Saverin argue repeatedly over the economics of cool and Saverin always loses.

Tyler Clementi's is not the only casualty of this type of human digitization.  There are plenty of cases of kids being cyber-bullied and trying to hurt themselves as a result.  There are plenty of cases of feuding exes and de-friendings.  Like the real world, the virtual one has its ugly side.

But Tyler's story is just particularly awful.  It's awful because there is some implication that the two people who did it had absolutely no sense of the humanity of the subjects of their prank.  As they imagined and enabled the 2-D version of reality, they lost all sense of the 3-D world.  Tyler and his date were no longer people to them - they were images.  They were a good story or a good joke and the uploading and streaming of the moment would make them....cool.

No matter how you look at it, the story is heartbreaking.  No matter whose role you take in the events -- Tyler's, his date's, his parents, family, roommate, classmates, orchestra-mates -- you are left fractured.  This didn't have to happen at all - in fact - shouldn't have happened.  No matter how robust our technology and our ability to pump it up gets, we still need to remember how fragile a psyche is.

Zuckerberg's main character flaw is a fairly universal one.  He feels that no one's suffering is as poignant or deep as his own.  He sees the world as a bunch of haves, and himself as an unfairly deprived have not.  His actions stem from wanting to correct that balance - a sure product of our survival instincts, but one that allows him to steal, lie, cheat and be conveniently "wired in" whenever the emotional shit hits the fan.

No, you don't get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies.

So now what?

Monday, 27 September 2010

Monday's Quote - Andretti

"If you are fully in control, then you aren't going fast enough."

- Mario Andretti

I think this was suggested by the illustrious Stephen Long.

It showed up just when I needed it.  I've been feeling like I'm moving in 6 directions at once, not really focused properly and definitely not in charge of anything.

Still, I imagine I'll look up from this computer a week or two from now, see the light of day and think I've come a long way.  Sometimes you have to let go to hold on.

Have a killer week.  Don't let anyone mess with you.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Friday, 24 September 2010

Monday, Interrupted

How does it get to be Friday?  Amidst running errands and having meetings and trying trying trying in very un-Yoda-like fashion to finish this manuscript, I don't know whither Thursday, Wednesday, Tuesday, I only know the (working) weekend is upon me.

In a moment of weakness and frustration last night, I put on the cable where I'm staying and stumbled upon The Turning Point.  This is one of my FAVORITE 70's movies!  Ballet, Shirley MacLaine, Anne Bancroft, Misha -- what's not to love?  Melodrama at its finest with a healthy dose of the best dancers and choreographers of the time.  Even then I knew I'd be Anne Bancroft and not Shirley MacLaine.  Bancroft is stunning in this movie, and tiny - tinier than tiny Shirley MacLaine.  How she and not MacLaine ends up being the one with the dance solo is odd -- MacLaine is the dancer between them.  Seeing James Mitchell (Palmer Cortlandt to you AMC fans) playing a choreographer was amazing.  Mitchell was a dancer with ABT, on Broadway, worked with Agnes DeMille, he had a real legacy in that world.
I like this version of a poster!
I would love to make this film again - I'd love to make it into an opera!  It is so operatic, my friend Thomas and I were talking about it.  It's so good and so bad at the same time - so dated and so current.  Two strong women exploring the sacrifices they had to get to get some of what they wanted.  That dilemma hasn't changed.

Watching Baryshnikov in this, I was reminded of his gloriousness.  I've seen him dance live - both classical and with White Oak - but you forget.  His technique is so high, there is no technique.  He is the Bruce Lee of dance!  Roger Federer is the Baryshnikov of tennis!  You hold your breath when he leaps, forgetting you're alive while you are watching him.

Okay, with a little help from a friend, I may have solved two, but created one new problem with the manuscript.  Back to the real work at hand.

Click on this link for the dorky original trailer!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Yum 11 - SF/Bay Edition!


Yeah - some things are better left unblogged.  However, the food at this SF Burmese place is soooo ravishing, I'm gonna post the pix anyway.  I'm not going to tell you where it is.  How bout this -- if you backchannel me, I'll give you the restaurant details.

Tofu and Okra - sooo good
Salmon with Snap Peas - perfectly cooked
Shrimp with Pumpkin - OMG

We also got the tea leaf salad (they fly the leaves in from Burma) and the samosa soup.  

The cool pool at the Phoenix

It has come to pass that many of my friends have moved to the burbs.  For this reason, I found myself needing a place to stay on my recent trip to SF.  I've stayed in a good bnb in the Mission, but decided I wanted somewhere a little car-friendly --- and then decided to fly.  Oh well.  Based on googling and some time spent on Trip Advisor, I settled on the Phoenix Hotel.  All in all, a good choice.  Really reasonable and close to lots of things.  The rooms were bigger than expected, well-appointed and the staff was fab and friendly and just the right amount of arty.  The breakfast part was also better than expected.  I thought it'd be a lot noisier, but except for some folks rolling their carriers through at 1am on Saturday, it was pretty quiet overall.

The only drawback is its Tenderloin location.  While you get off at Civic Center, you walk through the Tenderloin to get to and from the hotel.  I thought by now gentrification would've reached the area, but it is stubbornly holding onto its grottiness.  Still, the location can't really be beat - it's pretty central, close to BART and busses and MUNI.  And walking distance to a lot of places you may want to go.  Like...Little Saigon:

At the entrance of "Little Saigon"
I sent my fave color palette in advance.  BATH TUB!!!!


Wow - like 30 kinds of drip coffee made on the spot for you at Philz!  A couple of blocks from the Phoenix (they also have East Bay and South Bay locations), this place is awesome and was recommended by...everyone.

The baked goods are phenomenal and there are these samosa like things that are delicious.  They really open at 6am - even on weekends.

Of the kinds I tried, Philharmonic was my favorite coffee.

There's a Peet's right across the street if you're feeling less adventurous.


I was accidentally lucky enough to catch the splendiforous Mike McGee in his fun-tastic one-person show!  Once, I watched Mike win a slam at the Nuyorican doing about a 15-minute set -- he thought there was a time limit, as there usually is in slam, but there wasn't.  Not only did he captivate the audience for the entire time, he got the highest score of the night.  He didn't even mean to win!  Mike's like that.  You can pretty much count on wanting to listen to him a long, long, time.  He's honest, entertaining, funny and poignant.  His show gave me insight on the strange lifestyle I've chosen, which he has been living for some time -- wandering for your art.

If you can catch him somewhere, you won't be sorry.  Plus he gives good hugs.  Plus plus he has a new awesome book.

Speaking of books....

The Savage Detectives, 1st US EditionGREEN APPLE BOOKS is one of the BEST bookstores in the Bay, which is saying a lot considering how many amazing bookstores there are in the Bay!  Green Apple has been through it, hung around it, and is still it.  We wandered in there while waiting for a table at the restaurant that is not to be named.  I didn't want to get anything, but you know, there were just too many amazing books on sale.  

My friend decided I needed to read a Roberto Bolano book.  He got it for me.  He was right.  I'm half-way through The Savage Detectives and wonder how I never like met all these characters wandering around the poetry sphere.  What a luscious writer!  


A new addition outside SF City Hall - a gargantuan and fascinating Buddha sculpture.  I wish I could have really stood right out in the street for maximum views!


Here's the seal of the great state of California: 
In it's shadow I saw more homeless than I've seen since New York in the 80's.  I didn't take their pictures - that seemed like a final disrespectful action.  However, all around the government buildings and the squares, there were homeless in bus shelters, in doorways, pushing carts.  It was horrific.  No, it was shameful.  We should be able to do better than this.  

Do I feel guilty carting my $3.00 drip coffee around while people sleep on the street?  I feel conundrummed.  That's not a word, but it's how I feel.  In a place where there is so much money how can it be that people need to sleep on the street?  I had a friend who told me how he ended up in San Francisco, homeless, waiting on a job interview.  He survived quite some time like that.  Eventually, the job interview came through.  He managed to clean himself up for it, and get the job.  He turned his life around.  Not everyone gets to, though.  Wandering like I do, like Mike McGee does, it makes you sensitive.  Sometimes there are holes between where you think you are going to stay and where you are actually going to stay.  No one is that far from the street, no matter what they think about themselves.  No, I don't feel guilty.  I just happened to have a place to stay on those nights.  Or friends to call.  No one's that far from the street in a country where we deem that an acceptable way for some people to try surviving. 

I gotta go finish a book.  Mine.