Sunday, April 29, 2007

Tough Times

This post is for my father and others like him.

I grew up in an autoworker culture in Michigan. It permeated my early education, the expectations of what I would be, how life was to be lived. Like all cultures it had its positive and negative points. I left that culture a long time ago, but its roots will always be a part of me. Now it's a culture that is dying. Michigan is in the midst of economic woes that it will take a long time to recover from. The reasons why it has reached this point are complex and many. It would be easy to point a finger of blame at GM, the unions, the management and even the various levels of government, but what it comes back to is the immediate effect that I see now. Families are breaking up due to moves (such is happening to my own siblings) forced by a bad economy and despair seems to be the way of life these days (talking with various people I keep in contact with).

I think eventually there will be recovery, but it's a long and difficult road. I have been back to Michigan a couple of times to work, but I know when I left 4 years ago it was the last time. My life has changed and gone in different directions. There is hope though. Now I see my nieces and nephews who are choosing to stay, pursue education and work there for the time being. I hope that they and others like them, will help usher in a new era.

So here is Bruce Springsteen and Sting, "The River" a ode to a way of life that has and is changing:

Saturday, April 28, 2007


I had planned on having a more travel oriented weekend and now for different reasons, I'm going to be home based. So I'm cooking and doing art, catching up with family (I'm working on some issues that will most likely make enormous changes in my family geographically) and relaxing. A few months ago I was pretty sure that moving back to the East Coast was what I was doing next. Now that is being challenged. I'm stepping back and just waiting for indicators. I've always had them appear when I was approaching major decisions, so now it's paying attention, being open and my next step will come. In the mean time, I'm saying yes, keeping the door to art and relationship open and ready to step through.

I fell in love with Frida Kahlo's work long before Madonna or many people started making her popular again. I had been aware of her work having seen Diego Rivera's Detroit Industry Murals. When the movie "Frida" came out, I was one of the first in line to see it. There I fell in love with Lila Downs singing. Both are/were passionate women and I love their respective art. I had the opportunity to see Lila Downs in Stern Grove at a concert and had one of the most incredible experiences musically, I've ever had. She isn't afraid to take risks and her music shows it. If you ever get a chance to see her go. She embraces change, art and is an amazing human being. She is a role model in saying "Yes".

This picture I took in the Bay area of this woman, reminded me of those women. Passionate, colorful and having a good time.

Here's a wonderful video, incorporating Frida Kahlo's art and Lila Downs singing(one of my favorites of hers):

Friday, April 27, 2007

Bawdy Women

I come from a long line of bawdy women. I love that many modern women have taken Chaucer's notion of a bawdy woman somewhat to heart and turned it a bit on it's ear. To me bawdy today isn't crassness, rather it's an earthy, spicy luscious way of living. It's being the ripe peach that's ready to be bitten into, it's a full bodied wine with many layers of complexity.

My maternal grandmother was one of my teachers in this. I remember when I was reading Chaucer in my freshman year of high school, I was a bit confused and asked her about bawdy women, did it mean they were never "ladies". She laughed and told me "a bawdy woman knows how to be a lady when it's warranted, but rarely does a lady know how to be a bawdy woman." I was puzzled and didn't really understand what she was telling me. She told me I would understand eventually. Unfortunately I lost her that same year and never was able to tell her that I really understand now that I've been living life.

The blues celebrates bawdy women and Ida Cox was one of the best....Her "One Hour Mama" is a blues classic. What woman couldn't identify with some of these lyrics:

..... I've always heard that haste makes waste
So I believe in takin' my time
The highest mountain can't be raced
It's something you must slowly climb
I want a slow and easy man
He needn't ever take the lead
Cause I work on that long-time plan
And I ain't a-lookin' for no speed

I'm a one hour mama
So no one minute papa
Ain't the kind of man for me
Set your alarm clock papa
One hour, that's proper
Then love me like I like to be

I don't want no lame excuses
'Bout my lovin' bein' so good
That you couldn't wait no longer
Now I hope I'm understood

I'm a one hour mama
So no one minute papa
Ain't the kind of man for me

I can't stand no greenhorn lover
Like a rookie goin' to war
With a load of big artillery
But don't know what it's for

He's got to bring me a reference
With a great long pedigree
And must prove he's got endurance
Or he don't mean that to me

I don't like no crowin' rooster
What just kicks a lick or two
Action is the only booster
Of just what my man can do

I don't want no imitation
My requirements ain't no joke
Cause I've got pure indignation
For a guy what's lost his stroke

I'm a one hour mama
So no one minute papa
Ain't the kind of man for me
Set your alarm clock papa
One hour, that's proper
Then love me like I like to be

I may want love for one hour
Then decide to make it two
Takes an hour before I get started
Maybe three 'fore I'm through....

So here's to all the bawdy women out there, may it be a great weekend...

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Let's Play

Is there anything better in the world then friends who can enjoy girl talk and boy watching? Especially when you're sitting in a cafe, with a warm sun playing on your body, having wonderful food and having a full sense of being alive and in the moment. I didn't think so.

Here's to my girl friends who enjoy talking makeup, clothes, men and their attributes inside and out and who know how to make you laugh so hard, people want to come and sit with you because they see what a good time you're having.

Salt-N-Pepa: "Shoop"

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Surreally Real

The day has been spent fixing a full brunch for friends and having discussions on our art, what's happening in politics, listening to some blues and learning about some blues artists from the Bay area. I was really rocking on Tommy Castro, now I'll have to pick up some of his stuff. In turn I introduced them to G. Love and Special Sauce. One of my friends is looking to do more abstracts both in his photographs and his painting. He like this shot, so I'm tossing it out for him.

Not a bad way to spend a rainy day. Here's a little G. Love, "Beautiful" to celebrate the day:

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Just Fun

It's been raining, so in between catching up with friends, I've settled in for a good bout of scanning photos from travels, doing senior pictures for nephews/nieces and just listening to some good music.

I found this statue in the gardens at Hampton Palace. They had wrapped several in preparation for the winter to protect them. I remember hearing a woman say, "Now there's a gorgeous man who knows how it feels to be a woman. You don't see his face, just his body." Hmmm, she had a point.

In tribute here's En Vogue, "Free Your Mind":

Friday, April 20, 2007

Poetry Man

You have to love someone with poetry in their soul and a visual way of bringing it out. I had a blast with this guy when I asked to shoot him. He definitely is a "poetry man".

And you have to love someone who gave us such a great song, Phoebe Snow:

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Landslide or Yes

Oh, mirror in the sky
What is love
Can the child within my heart rise above
Can I sail thru the changing ocean tides
Can I handle the seasons of my life

Well, I've been afraid of changing 'cause I built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Children get older
I'm getting older, too
Well I'm getting older too
.......Landslide, lyrics, Stevie Nicks

It's been a roller coaster week in some ways with family, friends and work. This song seems to express the core of some of the dilemma. Can I be bold, put love and creativity to the forefront of my life after years of putting other persons needs first?

I read an inspiring blog entry from someone who described learning to say "yes" and even had it tattooed on her arm. Can I follow her example and become bolder then I've ever been? And what am I saying yes to, that's even the harder part to figure out, a move, a stay, a new love??? Right now I'm just saying yes to be open to what comes...

This photo I took somehow seemed symbolic to trying to stay open to those dreams, yearnings and hopes. To continue being bold and believing in dreams...

So tonight, "Yes!!"

Thanks Shauna and Stevie for the inspiration....

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Guilty Pleasures

I had a discussion with a friend today about guilty pleasures. Let's face it, they don't call them such for nothing. The guilt adds a little edge to the enjoyment. They're the kind of thing you're not exactly ashamed of, just a little sheepish about. In my case it's vampire romances, movies and occasional TV show. I got hooked on them from movies that friends liked to watch and a high school Gothic literature class. It's fun and it's a release from the seriousness of every day life, not to mention occasionally cathartic. My current incarnation of the vampire guilty pleasure, is a TV show called "Blood Ties". It is based on a series of books by an Canadian author Tanya Huff which I had read in the 90s. I found out just by seeing an ad that it was going to be on Lifetime. Now I really don't like Lifetime as a rule, but this was an exception. I've been curious about how people were reacting to the show, so have looked at some blogs and such and guess what there are more people then me who are enjoying the show as a guilty pleasure. So here's to the guilty pleasures in life and the fun they bring us.

I found a fan video from Evanescence's Bring Me to Life. It's fun and gives a peek at why the show is such a guilty pleasure:

Friday, April 13, 2007

Reaching Out

Unexpected encounters are what make the world so wonderful. In the city where I live, we have many homeless people who ride bikes and go around collecting cans from the waste receptacle to redeem at recycling centers. Unfortunately it has gotten so obnoxious here at the condo where I live that we had to post signs stating it was trespassing as we were getting so many people. It was also because they were tossing garbage out onto the grounds. There is one elderly gentleman though who has been exempted. I had gotten his story from someone who knew a bit about him and his sisters who live close by.

They are political refugees from one of the countries that emerged when the Soviet Union broke up. What his story is exactly they didn't know. When I first moved here you would see him collecting cans. He was always very polite and careful in doing it. In recent months he had gotten what I call the adult tricycle with a basket attached and I would see him from time to time. Many of us have taken to collecting our cans and bottles and watching for him. A little while ago I saw him (I hadn't seen him for about a month and was concerned). As we had two large garbage bags of cans and bottles, I took them over and tapped him on the shoulder. Now he doesn't speak English hardly at all, but we have managed in the past to communicate with sign language. His face broke into a enormous grin and he started saying, "Thank you, thank you." He then reached for my hands and pulled back as if he were afraid that I might object. So I reached back and he took my hand in his raised it too his lips and kissed it then bowed. What a courtier he was. I felt more then blessed and uplifted by the encounter. He is like a bodhisavatta. There is just something about his presence that touches anyone who meets him. I think that is why we have more or less adopted him at the condo. I just hope he knows that he gives more then he ever receives.

To mix it up a bit, Alanis Morissette, "Hand In My Pocket":

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


It was raining today in California and as a result was cooler. I got out of work, went for a walk and was immersed in the smell and feel of spring. Soft humid breezes, rolling scent clouds of the flowers blooming and the occasional gentle rain caressing my cheeks. It felt like quietly coming home. And I was surprised by that feeling. I realized I was homesick for the springs I have known a good part of my life, that I had not acclimated to California geography as much as I thought. It's more as if I'm on the outside looking in....

Staind "Outside":

Monday, April 9, 2007

Beautiful Child

I was working on some photos I took and I ended up working on a batch of photos I had taken from a gentlemen who was selling architectural fragments up to a few hundred years old from his company Ancients. If I had had room at home, some would have come with me. I ended up doing this in a cyantotype tonight. I like the color version too, but somehow this just seemed to be right.

It reminded me of the Fleetwood Mac song, "Beautiful Child", a bit melancholy, but ultimately something that is haunting and seems to stay with you forever:

Friday, April 6, 2007

It's A Good Friday

It's been a busy day. Although I'm not Christian, I still utilize this time to celebrate my connection to the earth, to family and friends and the emergence of spring. The air the last few days have been fecund with the smell of flowers coming to life. It makes my walks in the dawn and twilight with Bella even more special.

I'm going over to a friend's house on Sunday, but I'm hoping to cook an early brunch with this recipe for my roommate and his dad. I was lucky enough to find the Serrano ham it calls for at a local market here.

Baked Eggs with Serrano Ham

12 slices serrano ham
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups baby new potatoes, diced
1 small onion, finely chopped
8 large organic eggs
1 cup oil cured sun-dried tomatoes finely chopped
Sourdough toast, to serve

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the cups of a 12 cup muffin pan. Place a slice of of serrano ham in each muffin cup to form a case for the eggs.
2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the potatoes and gently fry until beginning to turn golden. Add the onion and continue to fry until it also softens and starts to turn golden. Season to taste with salt.
3. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs and season with a good grind of black pepper. Divide the potato mixture between the serrano-lined muffin pan cups,pour over the egg scatter with the sun-dried tomato and place in the over to cook for 25-30 minutes until golden. Serve warm with hot, buttered sourdough toast.

And just to be cliche, here is the Goo Goo Dolls "Iris":

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Pieces of the Mind

Another thing that amazes me about people is you never know what they will collect or what they consider saleable. One of the great adventures in going to markets to take photos is in what you will find that people have put together to offer up for sale. Some of it is quite wonderful and exquisite, others make you ponder the perhaps darker side of the human mind...who wants these broken and left over doll parts, why does someone bother to gather them and offer them to said people? There is an attraction, albeit a bit morbid perhaps. I found myself taking photographs of some of these collections. Maybe it's something in the forlornness of them, maybe they echo the leftover pieces of our childhood, but for me they have become something that I loved making into art.

Here's a favorite piece that seems to fit; Elton John's "Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding"....

Sunday, April 1, 2007

A Little Crazy

I returned to the Alameda Antique Market today and got back into my art. Let's just say I've been on a bit of a break with family issues and an extraordinarily busy work schedule. This market was different in what I found and how I proceeded with taking shots. Several of the lessons my profs had drilled into suddenly seemed to kick in and I found myself shooting around 2 or 3 themes. One of them was doll/mannequins. It amazes me what you can find. This broken doll was lying in an bag in a sense abandoned and ignored and the social worker/philosopher in me went to work. It brought to mind some of the negative news that we seem so bombarded with these days.

It was a wonderful day. We ate fresh food, while sitting on a curb by the ocean, talked life and shared laughter with people we were sitting with. Not a bad return to life.

Here's some thoughts from Seal about some the things we've been experiencing, "Crazy":

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