Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Girl in the Photo

No one wants to know who that chére bébé below is? Or even guess?

Anne Frank.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

What with the recent slew of birthdays

I feel it's only fair to mention that mine was on Tuesday. I am sorry to report that while I am, indeed, another year older, I am not one whit the wiser.

(I'll be seriously impressed if you can name the person in that photo.)

While I did have a nice dinner with Tex, and an even greater conversation with him later that evening (that is, after I awakened from a brief sofa coma, induced by two glasses of wine and one ill-advised post-dinner cocktail), I can't say it was the most auspicious of days overall. First off, that morning I dreamt I was four months pregnant, and upon waking was disappointed to realize it wasn't true. I should have been relieved, as it really is for the best. Still, I had a protracted moment of grief over my childlessness. Mercifully, that is an emotional visitation which happens only occasionally - I've rigged the snooze button on my biological clock for longer increments between alarms.

Then there was the incessant stress over this hare-brained fundraising event that I've been planning, which has, of late, been nothing but obstructed, and I've wondered at the wisdom of doing it at all. My frustration is such that I'm moments away from pulling the plug, which only gives rise to greater feelings of self-doubt. And all of it is ridiculous, because it's supposed to be worthwhile and fun. Think the Uni is trying to tell me something?

Later that afternoon, I was seriously encumbered by the inappropriate gift of the husband of one of my employers, who accompanied the earrings he bought in India with a note confessing his long-standing crush, which he hoped would remain our secret. It should have remained his. The wife is my friend and confidant, and I have yet to decide the most appropriate course of action. She left me a card with a certificate for a Thai massage. We give each other lots of things. She trusts me, and I her. She's in Paris for a while, and he joins her on Friday, so I have some time. Fortunately, I haven't actually seen that sucka of a husband, he simply left the offending objects for me to find when I came to work in their home. Hours later emailed me all in a fluster of anxiety because he knew he was indulging in risky behavior.

Why does this have to be my problem? I did nothing to encourage any such advance, I swear on my life. I toil in their home, fixing broken windows and door handles, and painting rooms. Sometimes I tend to their child*, I am friends with her and friendly to him, a man I almost never see. They offered me an administrative job running the office of his new internet company, which I declined. They have been very good to me. So now I have to choose between a complicity of silence and a brutal honesty that will disrupt everyone's life. I'm leaning towards returning the earrings with a strong slap on the wrist, because I cannot accept any gesture that requires my complicity in something I know will hurt her, but will remain silent about the matter until such time as he trespasses again. And what kind of present is it to entangle someone in something that has absolutely nothing to do with the beneficiary? He should have given the earrings to her; I will never wear them. It's all so perverse, and it gave me a major meltdown as I was trying to dress for my dinner date, because I am practically incapable of not taking such things personally, or deflecting guilt, even when none of it is mine to bear. I was so angry, which almost always registers in tears, because I'm not the lashing out sort, though I should learn to be. Oh, Bother. Happy Birthday. Don't go looking for drama, drama will find you, Children.

What would you do, my dutiful readers of the Blogosphere?

Finally, birthdays are always a reminder of the anniversary of my father's death, which is this day, right here. While I don't feel a conscious grief, I do wonder at the significance of having that loss attached so near the day that is supposed to be a celebration of my own life. Perhaps there is no meaning there at all, but I am always reticent to celebrate my birthday. It could be the pall of that spectre, or it could be the wet blanket tradition, established on my twelfth birthday by my mother, who picked a fight with me every year after the cake was cut and the tinsels had hit the floor. I do believe the first time stemmed from my protest against the notion that I should clean the house after the guests were gone, as it was my birthday, after all. Her peculiar pugilistic habit lasted for the duration of high school, though the reason shifted from year to year, as did her convenient forgetting of the date of my father's passing. I was intended to forget, as well.

Life is full of sun and shadows and fog. I had a great date Tuesday night, and lots of friends phoned and wrote, and flowers were delivered. I felt loved, and I'm grateful for that. It was a good day, after all.

(*I didn't really say that to him, only wanted to.)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Spurious Claims of Nativity Aside...

Happy Birthday, Peteski! When we are betrothed, I hope it plays like this:


ps - thanks for encouraging me to turn my blog into an "adult" site. Lord.
Oh, and my birthday was yesterday.
And as for you, Stitch, naked shout-outs are cold in December!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Happy Birthday, Citizen H!

May love, joy and peace find you this new year.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Happy Midsummer's Eve

"Though western iconography usually called the sun male and the moon female, archaic Oriental tradition spoke of a female sun. Japanese ruling clans traced their descent from a supreme Sun Goddess, Omikami Amaterasu.

The Hindu Great Mother took the form of the sun as the Goddess Aditi, mother of the twelve zodiacal Adityas, spirits who would "reveal their light at Doomsday." The Mahanirvanatantra said the sun was the "garment" of the Great Goddess: "The sun, the most glorious symbol in the physical world, is the mayik vesture of Her who is 'clothed with the sun.' " The same goddess, identified with Mary, appeared in the Gospels as the "woman clothed with the sun" (Revelation 12:1).

Tantric Buddhism recognized a precursor of the Middle-Eastern Mari, or Mary, as the sun. Her monks greeted her at dawn as "the glorious one, the sun of happiness..."

Among the ancient Arabs, the sun was a goddess, Atthar, sometimes called Torch of the Gods. The Celts had a sun goddess names Sulis, from suil, meaning both "eye" and "sun." Germans called her Sunna. Norwegians called her Sol. In Scandinavia she was also known as Glory-of-Elves, the Goddess who would give birth to a daughter after doomsday, thus producing the new sun of the next creation. The Eddas said: "One beaming daughter the bright Sun bears before she is swallowed by Fenrir; so shall the maid pace her mother's way when the gods have gone to their doom."

The Sun Goddess Sul, Sol, or Sulis was worshipped in Britain at the famous artificial mountain in the Avebury complex of megalithic monuments, now known as Silbury Hill. Here she gave birth ti each new Aeon from her great belly-tumulus, over 130 feet high and more than 500 feet in diameter. "The influence of the British goddess, Sul, aextended over the greater part of south west England, and her worship appears to have been conducted on the tops of hills, overlooking springs. Thus near her springs at Bath we have the isolated hill called Solsbury, or Sulisbury, probably the seat of her worship." At Bath, Romans identified Sul with Minerva and set up altars to her under the name of Sul Minerva. "

(This text was lifted from Barbara G. Walker. So sue me.)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


This woman is a heroine of mine. I endeavor to practice what she preaches. Even at awards shows. (wink)

Pema Chödron clip.

Pema Chodron: The bodhisattva vow has something to do with going cold turkey, naked, without any clothes on into whatever situation presents itself to you, and seeing how you hate certain people, how people trigger you in every single way, how you want to hold on, how you want to get in bed and put the covers over your head. Seeing all of that just increases your compassion for the human situation. We're all up against not finding ourselves perfect, and still wanting to be open and be there for others. My sense of what it means to be a bodhisattva on the path, a student-warrior-bodhisattva, is that you are constantly caught with "don't know." Can't say yes, can't say no. Can't say right, can't say wrong.

...Trungpa Rinpoche used to say that the first step in the training of the warrior, which is to say, one who is cultivating their courage, is to place them in a cradle of loving-kindness. And this is really true. In the Buddhist teachings we talk about cultivation of maitri or loving-kindness toward oneself. This does seem necessary in order to have the willingness to work with all the messy and delightful parts of yourself. Real safety is your willingness to not run away from yourself. In terms of creating a safe environment, you want to create a space in which people can look at themselves and where that's going to meet with approval and it's going to be safe to do that. No one is going to laugh at them for crying or falling apart. Now that's the first stage, because, what you're really talking about is how to live in this world where people do ridicule and laugh at you. And so we don't just want to create a lot of practitioners who can only exist in a "safe" situation where there is no insult, where there's no roughness. The cradle of loving-kindness is not about getting stroked. It's more about developing a friendship with yourself in a more complete way. The real sense of safety that people need is that things aren't going to be hidden.

...Certain practices dislodge a lot of emotional material-for instance, tonglen. Tonglen is a practice where you work with your breath. You breathe in suffering and connect with it fully-yours' and other people's. It's a willingness to feel what hurts, not to shy away, not to reject it. You're willing to take on suffering and develop compassion for it and even relax with it. And when you breathe out, you give away joy, a sense of inspiration, delight. So what you're usually attached to and want to keep for yourself, you get used to sharing, giving. It's very advanced practice when you start working with other people because it shows you every place that you shut down, hold back, every single place where you close your heart. If you're a practitioner of the dharma, you want to see that and make friends with it. I think if you really want to become enlightened, somehow you've got to put yourself on the line. If you're already a student and want to wake up fully, then you're going to get the tests and challenges you need, and they're all going to come from other people. Safety becomes wanting to avoid all that.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Cause I know I don't belong, here in Heaven...

There's a lesser known Circle of Hell reserved and engirded with a red-velvet v.i.p. rope for unrepentant name droppers, and that is precisely where you will find me when I palm some coins off on the ferryman. Alright, I'm mixing mythologies, but the point is that star-gazing is fun! and that's precisely what I got an eyeful of this last Saturday night.

The band played a song at the 34th Annual Vision Awards, a benefit for blindness and award show for visionary work in the arts and sciences. Yeah, I'd never heard of it either. Nonetheless, it was held in The Beverly Hilton which, while famous for many reasons, is mostly known to me via the Merv Griffin Show, as "Friends and guests of the Merv Griffin Show..." always stayed there, capping the end of his talk show. I watched that all the time as a kid, and it's a wonder that my tastes developed as they are, in spite of that particular influence. That, Lawrence Welk and Dinah Shore. Anyway, The Hotel is inextricable from the idea of Merv Griffin and all he represents, as Merv once was from Eva Gabor.

Needless to say, an odd venue for the band, but conscious as we were of the sense of dislocation, we were happy to be there. After all, the amusement factor was first rate. There was that tiny gal on the parking elevator whom Tex is sure was Renee Zellwegger, and look who's on the red carpet... Charles Durning and Dick Van Patten! And there's Matthew Modine and that tall chick from That 70s Show! And the B-list just keeps getting longer.

Once you entered the doors to the lobby of the auditorium/dining room, you saw the endless display of ticky-tacky auction items - most of them poorly matted and framed film and sports memorabilia. Notable was a heavyweight championship belt, with photos of past winners, the most remarkable of which (for me) was the presence of Ken Norton, who broke Muhammed Ali's jaw in '73, and then went on to star, two years later, in the titular role of a trashy plantation drama, Mandingo. Tex, my friend, Billy, and I just saw it at the Egyptian Theater. Later, when the stage auction was happening, and they sold the old USC helmets belonging to the few that were Heisman Trophy winners, the auctioneer called out their names, skipping right over the photo of O.J. Take THAT!

But sports were not what really interested me about the evening. What did interest me was walking up to the bar and standing near Robert Evans. Robert freakin' Evans, people. Even if you aren't aware of his illustrious producing career (Rosemary's Baby, Chinatown, Godfather, Marathon Man, Urban Cowboy... ring a bell?), or his famous romance with Ali McGraw, before Steve McQueen got his hooks into her, you might have a notion of his imitably slick presence and hedonistic lifestyle. If you haven't seen the "documentary" biopic (I shackle it with quotation marks, because it isn't typical convention to have the subject narrate his own filmic biography.), The Kid Stays in the Picture, don't hesitate to rent it.

Then there was Wes Craven, who received an award, and whose speech was the very best of the night. Truly a thoughtful, intelligent, witty, slightly mischieveous, and sweet man, hardly what you expect from one of the biggest horror masters in film. I want him to be my dad. A friend informed me today that he has a master's degree in philosophy, and his oratory reflected that. He was very polite when we met him, and his wife was very sweet, also. I reminded her not to forget his award, which they left on the table. Actually, quite a few people forgot their little statuettes. I doubt that happens so much at Oscar time, but I think it was Meryl Streep who left on of hers in the bathroom.

Mr. Craven (talk about a great ironical name - 'craven' means 'cowardly'), told a great story about being at a dinner party at Robert Evans' home sometime in the last few years. "Bob turned to me and said, 'I think I'm having a stroke.' " So they phoned the fire dept., which was at the other end of Evans' property. Before they arrived, Evans said, "I promised you an exciting evening, didn't I?" Then, as they were rolling him away to the ambulance he pleaded, "Please, stay and enjoy yourselves!" Kid's got nerve.

Dare I mention the tense and hilarious moment in the Green Room when the hostess, who is, er, sight impaired, was throwing an absolute fit and came out yelling at a woman who must have been her assistant? In self-defense, the beleagured lady entreated, "Please don't blame me, I'm only doing what I'm told." To this the Grande Dame if the evening roared, "You NEVER do what you're told!" It was straight out of Mommie Dearest. Then, as they were headed for the exit, the elder lady walked right into the door. I'm just sayin'. I was holding back the tears, one more reason why I'm taking the down escalator after I croak.

Andy Garcia's acceptance speech revealed that his first "break" in Hollywood was employment as a busboy in the very same hotel. He pointed out that his former captain was still working there that night.

The strangest moment for me occurred when Linda Blair was onstage talking about the honored scientist whose ocular research on Abyssinian felines has restored their sight, which will assist human macular regeneration. Surrealing, I turned to a friend and said, "I feel like I'm in an episode the Simpsons right now." On cue for the stage departure of Miss Projectile Vomit, the orchestra struck up the theme from "Cats." I kid you not. John turned to me and replied, "Well, that just sealed it."

Standing a foot away from Stevie Wonder was pretty great, as is the man himself. I never guessed he was that big! He made a surprise performance for the second song of The Blind Boys of Alabama, who have been doing this for over 60 years, and simply must be heard. After they sang "Amazing Grace," set to the tune of "House of the Rising Sun," Stevie got up there with them for "Higher Ground." Phenomenal. Could I love him more?

Tex and I recently just rewatched Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece, Barry Lyndon, a personal favorite for us both, so it was exciting to speak with Leon Vitali, who played Lord Bullingdon, or "Lord Bowling Balls" as he was dubbed on set, or so he told us. He was also Kubrick's right hand man for what I believe was nearly twenty years, though he had slipped into virtual obscurity as an actor. He looked terribly sickly and had been left out of the big prizes, so I gave him one of the pieces of swag intended for the band (a really amazing roller suitcase that positively SPINS!). While I defended myself to our lead singer, who happens to love that film too, Nathan looked at me for a hard second then forgave my choice. "I like your style," he said.

Perhaps the best celebrity encounter came when Nathan recognized an aging rocker, to whom I slipped both of the band's cds. He wished us good luck, through his impenetrable mop of hair and dark shades. Nothing so notable about the actual interaction, but after all, it was Jeff Lynne. We were pissing ourselves.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Cinematic Pop with a Chewy Folk-Rock Center

Any way you slice it, it comes up nuts.

My band's featured on today. Read the article! Better yet, email it to your friends!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

upside out, inside down

these days
the sheep wear wolves
the wolves don wool
and nobody really knows who is who

and be careful who you call crazy
because the looney in the street
is just singing out loud your tunes

Friday, June 08, 2007

Kiss Them For Me

Gene Simmons teaching the pre-K set that as you age, your feet never stop growing.

Thursday, June 07, 2007


Three-year-old Yang Yang kisses a beluga whale during a publicity photo shoot at the Qingdao Polar Ocean World, located in China's eastern Shandong Province, on June 2, 2007.

Friday, June 01, 2007

The Ill-Posse Comitatus

Yesterday I was stunned to read an interview with Father Frank Morales on Theresa Duncan's blog, The Wit of The Staircase, which is a personal favorite. Herein you will discover their dialogue about Gov't conspiracies, dissent in art, Scientology, Christianity as subversion and Jesus as Insurrectionist, some meaning of Time, Lennon, P.K. Dick, Disney, St. Paul, the truth about 911, how the artist must take risks...

I can just hear the reactions now and I await them with bated breath (or should I say, 'baited'), but please, Gentle Reader, take in the entire piece. Whether you agree or not, I doubt you can deny that the level of discourse is elevated and offers some very interesting insights. Also note, as background reference, that Theresa Duncan and her husband, the illustrious artist, Jeremy Blake, have been monitored by the FBI and allegedly harrassed by the Church of Xenu. You can read up on that in her 5/13 post, The Trouble with Anna Gaskell.

(picture credit: Jeremy Blake, Winchester (still), from Winchester trilogy, 2002; DVD with sound; 18-minute continuous loop; courtesy of the artist and Feigen Contemporary, New York; © Jeremy Blake. More on his work, specifically the Winchester series, here.)