Saturday, December 5, 2009

A Non-Train Wreck Family With Multiple Children

My Mom and I were discussing a family with six kids, and how composed the Mom of six is, despite the fact that she also homeschools them. I will repeat: she homeschools six kids. Alone. Herself.

I have a hard enough time wading through the aisles of the local Target during an afternoon of wailing children, snot-leaking noses, and helter-skelter scampering. I'm not the only one. There is a look that Moms get when they've had enough and wish it were more socially acceptable to leave their children in the parking lot, locked in the family car. The look of the harried Mother transcends race, creed, and fashion sense -- even if it's somewhat blunted by a popcorn infused Target.

I am pleased to report that all six kids are genuinely good kids, in spite of or maybe because of, their homeschooling. They are courteous, well-spoken, and friendly to each other. In other words, they would never be offered a reality TV contract. They are the kind of children those who wish for children hope they actually get. Still, the act of homeschooling (anyone), much less six polite kids, is an initiative I would take on only after a host of tortures had been laid upon me and I still had one more to complete. My admiration for this Mom of six is H-U-G-E. I'd like to buy her a drink, but I bet she'd prefer coffee.

I quickly fashioned a fantasy of what my childhood would have been like if I had been homeschooled, but did not get far. I remember clashing vehemently at the age of nine with my mother over how to proceed with my fractions homework. I don't think a homeschooled childhood would have been bucolic. Very likely it would have sucked ass.

I turned to my Mom and said: "Can you imagine if you had homeschooled me and Booger (my sister)? You would have blown your brains out". My Mom looked up, paused thoughtfully and said: "No. I just would have had a mental breakdown". And with that she returned to her crossword puzzle and I resumed eating my ice cream. But, with a little bit more hope for how the world will run when I am old, gray, and the whippersnappers have whippersnappers of their own.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Dating sucks, and I'm taking the rest of the year off, but that's OK because I have bacon.

A few days ago I bit into a BLT and was immediately reminded of the rapturous way poets describe the sweet arrow piercing of falling in love, because this is how I felt about my sandwich. People in their prose, and poets in their way, have chronicled their ardor in different ways, but the basics remain the same: the senses swim around in dopamine juice as the heart swells, straining against its encasement of ribs and sternum.

And so it is with bacon. With each bite the heart beats itself a bit bigger (I suppose this is literally true if one were to eat bacon at every meal). With each bite a haze of happiness appears. With each bite a symphony completes a movement. Each bite introduces maybe the only true contentment in an aggravating day, or punctuates a particularly blissful one. It is the sole reason why I will never commit to becoming a vegetarian, despite the many and compelling reasons for why it would be advisable.

Dates and romantic attachments may come and go, but bacon will have your back as long as you fry/bake/microwave it properly (respect the bacon, and it will respect you). Of course I won't go into bacon's pesky details, like the USDA's silent treatment on recalls, the debate on sodium nitrite, colorectal cancer, or slaughterhouses. I will, however, allow Sarah Hepola of to have the final say:

"Loving bacon is like shoving a middle finger in the face of all that is healthy and holy while an unfiltered cigarette smolders between your lips."


P.S. How to say, "May I have some bacon" in a few other languages:
German: Darf ich bitte Speck
Chinese: 我请你们熏肉
RussianL Позвольте мне, пожалуйста, свиной
Greek: Επιτρέψτε μου να έχει κάποια μπέικον
Spanish: ¿Por favor me puedes dar tocino?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Dear Life, Thank You

I suppose 12/31/09 would be an apropos time to stare 2009 in the eye and reflect upon the good and the bad throughout the year, and after coffee and an introspective interlude, formulate a renewed hope and set of aspirations for 2010. But, frankly, I'll be busy that night, sitting on my sister's couch in my nicest sweats, with Season 3 of Dexter and a bottle of Pinot Grigio.

As Thanksgiving approached, I've been pondering how the really truly shitty moments in a year, or their longer counterparts, episodes, can re-cast good moments, even lukewarm OK moments, in a much shinier light. So, I hereby proclaim that on this Thanksgiving Day I give a hearty gracias for the bad times. And, I mean bad times: true job suckage, super early conference calls, the kind of sharp and prolonged stress that causes insomnia and the curse of acne, and times when my checking account brought me nothing but a piercing woe.

Amidst a challenging job search, an anemic bank account, and the adjustment to becoming a member of the Boomerang generation (adults who return home to roost with Mom and Dad), I've also got to give my sincerest thanks - and I feel this thanks all the way down, deep, deep, down, in the cartilage that forms my kneecaps - for my family, friends, laughter, the Twilight Series, HBO, the incredible music that came out this year, and the good friends who despite my being me, were still generous with their time, their $, and heartfelt advice. 2009 demonstrated to me, more than any other year thus far, that after a prolonged gloom, much like after the harshest and most destructive of weather systems concludes, the sun shines again.

Don't just take my word for it. Herewith, a brief glimpse for what others are thankful.

"1. Bacon, in all its savory, sweet and succulent glory
2. Beer, despite all the deplorable things I do when I drink it
3. A decent metabolism that allows me to chronically overindulge in #1 & #2
4. The acute understanding that I'm just another expendable, semi-gelatinous, carbon-based, resource-annihilating whore-ganism in the greater game of nature
5. Phreedom to do my life on my terms
6. Phamily who always have a home for me and shower me in this magical stuff called "unconditional love"
7. Phriends who know my dark side yet trust and defend me
8. Traveling the world but calling Amurrica my home
9. The hope of silent sunrises
10. The comfort of an unknown future"

"Well of course [I'm] thankful for another day above the turf...I am grateful to have been relieved of the bondage of self..that I am free to do whatever I desire to within principled boundries...that I am surrounded by fellow members of my tribe who love and support me--that I didn't gain weight when I quit smoking, and most of all for my assistant who makes it possible for me to only work 4 hours a"

"I am very thankful for my family and my awesome son."

"-Thankful for another wonderful year of life.
-Thankful for the opportunities to travel and see knew things with old friends
-Thankful that I can survive 48 hours with my family (maybe)
-Thankful for a 4 day weekend"

"I'm thankful to live in a country where I can go to college (twice) to pursue the career I want to have. I'm thankful I have a loving husband who is my soulmate. I'm thankful I have two loving, strong parents and a brother who is my best friend. I'm thankful for all of those in my life that help keep me sane and make life worth living. I'm thankful for my poochy, Winston. And, I'm really thankful for food and sex. God is a genius. Oh, and I'm definitely thankful for Stephenie Meyer for letting me lust after seventeen year old vampires and werewolves. *Sigh*"

"I am thankful for kick-ass friends and family...a dog that entertains me on a daily basis, and the knowledge that I'm FINALLY on the right path in life. Better late than never right? oh yea...and for my health, and home, and job. whew!"

"I'm thankful for people who think beyond their own lives, their own families, their own countries and have the balls to act with that bigger picture in mind even (especially) if they may be fired, vilified, or voted out of office for those acts. And for burritos."

"I am thankful for living in America despite all of its faults and mindful of the access and privilege I am provided because of this. I am thankful for a healthy body that functions despite my badness (and I do mean BADNESS!). I am thankful for my wonderful friends and family who love me despite myself and I am thankful for kittens without which I would know no pure joy and unconditional love!"

"I am thankful that throughout so many phases and stages of my life, and in so many settings, I have found myself surrounded by good, honest, intelligent, caring and fun people."

"I am thankful that so far life has pushed me in certain directions and pulled me back from others - in time for me to learn, but not drown ... I am also so very grateful for living so close to this part of the Pacific Ocean ... the sun set today made me feel comfortingly small and in wonderment ..."

A special thank you to the dear friends who kindly shared their thoughts. You are my counterparts, not just on this post, but in life, and I feel pretty fucking lucky.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bedroom Muses

During a summer in the early 90s I worked as a journalist intern for my hometown newspaper. One of my mentors, for all her daytime professionalism and reserve, could not completely suppress what she was in her off hours -- a Good Time Girl*. She seemed to recognize I was one in the making. She slipped me a cassette. It was Liz Phair's Exile in Guyville.

None of the tape covers in the collection I owned were like this. Liz Phair, draped in a dark cape, her mouth open in a forceful "O", had paired her intimately revealing lyrics with a cover that gave peek at the upper tip of her left areola. The tape cover sat at the very back of my sock drawer -- musical contraband.

I credit Liz Phair with the truce my naiveté feverishly made that summer with my heretofore dormant irreverence and inclination toward highbrow snark. A Catholic education had previously curbed but not quashed the inevitable. Liz Phair used the word "Fuck" all the time and repudiated anything demure or - gag me - princess-y. I unabashedly sang her words in my car with the windows down -- as long as my parents weren't around.

I found out later that Liz Phair wrote and recorded Exile in Guyville in her bedroom. She had taken her destiny into her own arms and completed the ultimate DIY project: a still to this day critically hailed debut.

I have a special place in my heart for musicians who don't wait for recording contracts, but charge up their Macs, ask for donations, sling espressos, walk dogs, and employ Web 2.0 strategies so they can put their music out into the ether, and preferably in your ears. These are the artists who are a pleasure to support because they are bypassing traditional means of mass producing and marketing their music. (So when one in particular makes your eyes go wide with delight, be sure you tell the world about it.)

Merrill Garbus is the one-woman show behind tUnE-YaRdS. She classifies herself as "experimental", and describes her music thusly:
Your mom when she gets really mad but instead of whoopin' yo' ass she starts making crazy-ass beats with the pots and pans AND yo' ass.

This makes me want to get my Mom really mad -- around some strategically placed kitchen gadgetry.

*Good Time Girl: A member of the female species inclined toward activities one would confidently term as "fun", or "a good time"; a member of a group engaging in goodhearted, if slightly irreverent -- fuck, who are we kidding? -- completely irreverent dialogue that may or may not involve a round or four of spirits, uninhibited dancing, and potentially watching the sun illuminate the dark, giving rise to a brand new fun, er, day.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Recordings Of The Middle East

When you've got a good thing going, sometimes a second chance is really a blessing wrapped up in shiny, celestial paper, with a big rapturous bow on top. I'd opine The Middle East would agree with me.

I admit to confusion when I first came across the album The Recordings of the Middle East, thinking it was a compilation by Western artists providing their musical viewpoints on the group of nation-states first identified in the Eisenhower Doctrine, in the part about the Suez Canal.

The Middle East is not actually from the Middle East, but from the smallest continent on the planet -- Australia. At first I thought that naming themselves after a complex and violent geographical hot spot was mystifying. Now I think, whatever. I think this mostly because the music is superb; it's ethereal and atmospheric -- but not all the way through. Each song has blood and guts and marrow.

The band broke up a year ago and - thankfully for the rest of us - band members came to their senses, re-recognized that good thing they had going, and reunited. The band released an abridged version of their earlier work a couple weeks ago. If the musical blogosphere has anything to do with it, the album will catch fire like a desiccated Christmas tree and tingle the ears of the alternative set before the calendar year reaches its coup de grâce.

The Recordings of the Middle East is one of the finest etherealesque albums I've had the pleasure of listening to in this Year of our Lord 2009. For me, "Blood" is the standout track, and the album cover is a visual dagger through the chest, but in the best possible sense that can be said.

After staring at the cover for the better part of a minute I wanted to hug someone, but not a dainty squeeze. I felt the desire to participate in an embrace with the kind of vigor and adoration that engages every last chamber of the heart for a moment of true physical connection -- a tactile time out powerful enough to briefly still this fleeting life and demonstrate the sentiments not so easily uttered -- much like the album does in the architecture of each song, and each visceral lyric.

Friday, November 13, 2009

You're A Bone Machine

I had to turn down a ticket to see The Pixies at the newly beautiful (renovated) Fox Theater in Oakland earlier this week. Saying no to the ticket was like stabbing myself through the heart with a dirty, dusty, blade that causes profound pain but is most assuredly non-fatal.

I have a string of epithets, italicized and bolded, to follow that thought, but I am going to save their incendiary intent for my post on Carrie Prejean.

In the meantime I leave you with what is possibly my most cherished Pixies tune: "You're A Bone Machine".

Much like one might pair a romantic interlude with champagne and strawberries (actually, I'm not sure if anyone does that; champagne is never a cliche without or without the berries), or match the time-tested favorite of peanut butter and jelly on wheat (no crust), "You're A Bone Machine" does not translate well, as in you cannot truly experience the transcendent atomic energy it will unfold in you, if you listen to it on a tepid volume. Some songs require an appropriate amplification that truly rattles double-paned windows. This is one such song.

So do yourself a favor: Go thermonuclear. Turn the dial up on this tune. Your neighbors might be sorry, but you won't be. Such is the fission of The Pixies, and such is the frisson of jettisoning momentary proprietary and embracing your inner, feral, wild child. Allow yourself to scream with Frank Black, to splay your demons, stresses, and cheerful profundities in a musical tantrum that doesn't require you to be the ringleader -- just a member of the crowd. One who sings a long.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

You Made A Bad Choice. Now I'll Take A Testicle.

I hate reading stories about bad things happening to defenseless people: little kids, the elderly, harmless animals, but I especially hate coming across stories about gang rape.

I've never wanted to be a vampire, or a superhero, or possess abilities that would allow me to rise above being an average mortal with too many pairs of shoes. But when a glaring act of injustice occurs -- when someone elects to harm another with the kind of viciousness that makes me hope there is a hell, my first thought is not compassion. Maybe it should be. My first white hot thought involves getting in the perpetrator's grill, ripping the grill out, and then hacking out every tooth with a soiled pair of pliers -- one by one.

A recent gang rape in the Bay Area jarringly put into focus how a collection of ugly factors can explode into the kind of appalling brutality that was inflicted on a fifteen-year-old girl as she left a homecoming dance. The violence enacted on this girl is a result of - a fucking horrible symptom of - a societal gangrene we're all exposed to whether we want it or not.

The gangrene's many elements involve an entrenched and violent inner city culture; young, impressionable, and stupid high school students and dropouts; troubled men who have aged out of continuation school and juvenile hall with their tarnished and malfunctioning moral compasses in tow. Mix in generous heaps of drugs, alcohol abuse, and boredom and you've got one hell of a potent molotov cocktail that once hurled exploded a toxic chemistry that burned, charred, and seared not just the victim, but all of us.

My anger is not just limited to the perpetrators. I want to expose and humiliate the subhumans who stood by and watched as events unfolded. They took pictures and they took video. I want them all to explain what they were thinking. Then, I want to rip out each of their eyelashes, one by one. And then I want to slowly cauterize a "V" (for voyeur) into their foreheads with a blowtorch. Everything has a price of admission.

I have no doubt that those arrested will be incarcerated for a very long time. I know I should feel some compassion for the guilty (most entered the world with major disadvantages), but we all come to pivotal crossroads and have to make choices, and they made theirs. And now I want one testicle -- each. Their karmic burden is not my business. But, it's time for them to sacrifice a profound part of themselves. I'll take their testicles.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Summertime Clothes on a Summer Day in November

It is November 2, 2009, and on this day the sun perched itself showily in a new November sky free of clouds and smoke (the Santa Cruz mountains keep birthing forest fires) and radiated a warmth we don't often feel in the middle of summer -- much less an autumn stretching itself into California's version of winter.

I did what any sane person would do: I marveled at this unexpected gift of 80 degrees on this 306th day of the year, and played hooky from editing assignments to take myself for a walk -- a glorious walk. Today was a day for pool parties, barbecues, shorts, and contemplating one's naval or election choices (tomorrow's Election Day) outside.

As I walked through the streets I felt an exuberance return with which I had parted ways months ago. The sun whisked away remnant cerebral cobwebs, and my situation - one in the midst of yet another career change - tilted in a direction, if only by perception, that was decidedly positive.

Naturally, I had trouble easing my way back indoors. There is no WiFi on the patch of grass in the backyard, alas, which a job search grudgingly requires. Luckily, a melodic encapsulation of this November summer day crossed my path (or ear canals rather) in a most synchronous manner, allowing me to relive the warmth and all-around sweetness of this short-sleeved day once the sun had made its farewell, and as a theatrical and thoroughly rotund harvest moon hoisted itself into position.

Rip off your sleeves and I'll ditch my socks
We'll dance to the songs from the cars as they pass...
Walking around in our summertime clothes...
And I want to walk around with you
And I want to walk around with you


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Harlem Shakes Makes Me Shake (in a good way)

My guess is that the members of Harlem Shakes, an indie band from New York, were birthed in the 1980s, making them definitive cardholders of Generation Y. So, I was immediately suspicious when the lyrics to their cheery latest, "Natural Man", referenced Morrissey.

I'm not going to get up in their collective grill, though, just because they were probably making the transition away from sippy cups and getting their second molars around the time Morrissey released his first solo effort in '88. And, because I was a second-grader when The Smiths broke up, and I still went through the requisite Smiths infatuation my first year of college, flirting with vegetarianism, and the idea of shunning leather shoes because Morrissey did.

It makes sense that as Harlem Shakes trudged through Yale they learned to roll a proper spliff along with bathing their psyches with the kind of skinny tie music madness Morrissey and Johnny Marr perfected -- especially the kind inspired by soul-whipping UK cold and thick-as-duck-down cloud cover that was likely a contributing factor in Henry the VIII's decision to behead a couple of wives. (BTW, I would totally be into singing about my boyfriend in a coma if lack of Vitamin D malnourished me from epidermis to organs to woe-as-woebegone diary entries).

Harlem Shakes didn't squander its Morrissey reference in "Natural Man". If ever there were a cleverly crafted auditory circus masking as a simple 4:38 song that could easily transport one back to the days when anything, anything, anything was possible because youthful invincibility said so, and Zima was a truly viable alternative to cheap frat party beer, this tune is it.

"Zima saturday sunsets, watching the world
See how sad the real fun gets with the morrissey girls"

Nicely done, Harlem Shakes.

I'm back from the dead; follow me on Twitter!

Imagine a continuum. Imagine on one end there is an existence not unlike that of a sloth. Plenty of sleep, little urgency unless one must use the facilities or one is out of low-fat Chips Ahoy. On the other end of this ephemeral continuum is a workaholic existence fueled by a cortisone level that causes heart attacks in the old and weak-hearted.

I had the privilege of making my way from slothdom to becoming one with my BlackBerry in unhealthy co-dependency in the span of a few short weeks. Instead of rolling out of bed at noon, I had long lists of action items that gave me paralysis and cut off my air supply until I found myself gulping air. I neglected friends, returning non-work-related phone calls, abandoned laundry and cleaning, healthy eating, and gained five pounds [fuck!].

My project, the one that made me cranky and lie awake nights for fear of stark and bitter failure, ended last Friday with a whimper and a lot of wine. I still have a lot of work to do, but there's more yin to go along with my yang now. And more time to record insights, observations, and stupid inanities. I've got a lot to say before the end of the year. Rolling up my sleeves now...

And don't forget to follow me on Twitter!

Friday, September 18, 2009


And so it goes:  Zero to 60. A pitch black night to a bright, sunlit day. The abrupt end of one chapter entitled:

Chapter 17:  Unemployment :'( the lickety split turn of the page, and a new chapter entitled:

Chapter 18: Gainful Employment :)

Prior to Chapter 18, the notion of engaging an alarm clock (and its corollary, sleep deprivation) was as hazy as the faded ink barely protruding from a sun blanched newspaper.

Prior to Chapter 18, the downside of unemployment (poverty) stood hand in hand with its stark silver lining - actually, screw that - its fiercely good as gold super feature:  a    w   i   d   e    swath of time to sleep, and nap, and fall sway to even the slightest of the slight-li-est urges to shut my eyes and paddle drowsily toward a haven of rapid eye movement. At any hour of the day.

I certainly don't regret flipping the page to a new chapter, despite the accompanying lack of sleep, subsequent late night delusions (about 30 minutes ago I couldn't remember how to spell "Wednesday"), and the spike in cortisol level.

In a corner of my heart (right hand corner of the pericardium) I carry some fondness for the previous chapter. I'll miss constantly confusing the days of the week, sleeping like a sloth, and the crisp vision that was a gift of steady somnolence.

The best part of Chapter 17 was that I could watch today gradually curl into tonight without constraint or restriction, and then alertly greet tonight's today while the world around me slumbered. And then wake up and eat my eggs while the world around me ordered lunch.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Peace Out, Twilight Zone

How many red-faced mortals does it take to screw in a light bulb?

How sun salutations does it take to transfix a surly mood into a positive one?

How many evil eye pendants does it take to ward off the evil eye and other associated bad luck bullshit?

For a year my pressing question was: How long does it take to find a job? And then there were the corollary questions. How many cover letters? How many interviews? How many butterflies have to hatch and flitter about in my stomach while waiting for word back? How many days of trolling job boards, and positive thinking, and mantras?

425 days. A nice, crisp, non-prime number.

After an exciting era of graduate school, travel, and non-nuclear family living, the meltdown of global markets ushered me, among many, into the Twilight Zone, and into the Casa de Mom & Dad.

The Twilight Zone greeted me warmly. It wrapped me cocoon-style in a suffocating embrace, rarely leaving me less than an arm's length away. At first, I fought my stay. But whenever I felt the Twilight Zone's breath hot on my face, I realized resistance was futile; the Twilight Zone was cock-blocking me from gainful employment, and that was that.

The more the Twilight Zone and I learned to cohabitate, the more it released me on furlough. There were the temp jobs before they dried up completely, and the editing gigs that made my eyes bleed and bullied the median nerves in my wrists into paraesthesia.

And then came the point where we could stand side by side, not exactly holding hands, but no more epithets, no more teeth-gnashing, no more angst, no more identifying with broken-souled poets who bled their torment on paper.

I exorcised the self-pity, I started writing again (out of which came House of G), and when I finally looked up from my wallowing saw all the silver linings scattered around me.

It occurred to me to contact awesome, as faithful readers of this blog may recall. For newcomers, awesome is like a beneficent Zeus, a guardian angel, but more omniscient and with greater power than the National Rifle Association and the National Tobacco Association combined.

I'd like to say that only mere days after writing a letter to awesome I landed a job. I didn't. But, I did get an interview, and a few weeks later a friendly rejection. Awesome had heard/read my plea, however, and entered into negotiations with the Twilight Zone. Last week they finally struck a deal. The Twilight Zone immediately evicted me. Two days later I started my new job.

Writing an open letter to awesome may not be your bag. But, I'm proof that it doesn't hurt to put requests/dreams/desires out for the universe to consider -- in whatever format you deem most appropriate and genuine.

I just have one last open letter to write.

Dear Twilight Zone:

Thank you for your hospitality, your (hard) lessons, and the beautiful silver linings that came along unexpectedly. I'm sure we'll see each other again. No need to send a postcard. Be well. Peace.

House of G

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Super Powers

A year ago I began putting together a storyline for a graphic novel. With shyness in one hand and full-blown curiosity in the other, I asked some friends what super power they would choose if they could pick any power on land, in the sea, over land and sea, on this Earth, in this galaxy.

I was moved by the responses. Through them my friends provided small photographs of their lives at the time, framed by interesting tidbits about themselves that only might otherwise emerge during a game of 20 questions coupled with a round of cocktails.

A few friends asked if I would share what others said. I agreed, started the email, and never finished. So, herewith I share what super powers some would choose, not just to gift themselves with a talent, but to crack through the bubble they/we all live in to affect people in a more extraordinary way, let's say, than allowing someone with less groceries to cut in front of you at the grocery store.

I would read auras. Then I would be able to read people's intentions and see what kind of people they ACTUALLY entiendes? No foolin' with auras.

If I could choose only ONE super power...I think it would be to have the ability to zap people and make them happy...without them realizing I did it, and at the same time, for it to feel totally natural for them, inside their minds/hearts (and for that happiness to be easily re-channel-able). If I could have one other one, I would, in a BLINK, be able to be some place else (like near a loved one right away). This one works particularly well for me tonight, where everyone I love is not near at all."

EASY...complete control of time and the physical properties that would result. I have given this lots of thought. So for example, if I could slow things down to half speed, then the force would be 4 times greater due to the laws of physics. I would not want this to always be the case. Imagine if you slow things down 100 times such as making bullet move at 13 miles an hour...then each action would generate 10,000 times the normal force. So, even touching someone would be fatal. However, when people stop time completely, than all molecules would be held in place and no damage is done. However, I have always wondered how people are able to move when even air molecules would be like fixed cement...hmmmmmm.

To be anywhere I chose to be, at any time. Flying, transporting, whatever. To be able to go where I wanted whenever. A form of escapism I guess.

Actually for me this is a really easy question. Ever since Leadership Edge I have put some thought into it and I decided that I would most like the ability to teleport anywhere (this was also before the lame movie "Jumper"). Not only to any place, put also to points in the not so distant future. But not the past, that would be too much power in any individual person. All people have their breaking points when they do something bad, and going into the past to change your present is one of them. But I think being able to teleport, while subject to some risk and threat of abuse, would be such a fun power to have since all T-Birds are global citizens and love to travel. Added bonus by the way, you would reduce your carbon footprint to almost zero! Al Gore would approve.

So, without thinking about it I immediately said Teleportation so that I could go anywhere in the world (and possibly in time) that I wanted to in an instant. BUT this has me thinking a lot about the whole superhero phenomena...I think the nature of a superhero (hero being the operative word) is that at some point they use their power/s in the service of others. What I would find intriguing and unique in a superhero is to exploit what has been traditionally viewed as womens' "powers". What if you explored things like intuition or healing or love supersized?

I would fly. To speed over traffic and leave leave less of a carbon footprint.

Without a doubt, the super power I'd pick would be the ultimate gift of persuasion. I don't know if that counts as a super power, and if it doesn't, then I'd go with my second choice: ability to speak/understand/read/write any language on Earth.

What would your super power be?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

And The Beat Goes: OHM

I recently came across a stash of songs that had provided the soundtrack to my early years in San Francisco, when I was young enough to own and wear body glitter and wave away thoughts of wrinkle cream and a 401K. I hit "play" on said stash and took a stroll down memory lane...

Before the tech bubble burst back in '01, back in those golden days of overinflated salaries, batshit crazy ventures, and the frenetic pace of MTWThF parties, I relished the city-wide buzz that enveloped the city - even the crack-strewn back alleys of 6th and Mission - and the free-flowing cosmopolitans that sustained it. Everyone had exultant dreams of millionairhood.

But the spoken word scene was really my scene, and nary a free cocktail was to be found. I was friends with (poor) poets who waxed eloquently on just about every topic under the sun in a way I had never heard or seen poetry delivered, and it blew my mind, and I've never entirely recovered.

Once a week Club Amnesia in the Mission District hosted renowned spoken word artists from all over the country, and then cleared the floor for open mic. The latter portion of the night had varied results. Some nights the amateurs seemed to be possessed, like the sun had embedded itself in their mouths and they just spoke and gesticulated light. And then there were the ones who were bad. This was when people got up to get a beer or a refill.

I was tasked with checking I.D.s at the door and making sure no one got out of hand. Of course being the size of a flower I did not work the security circuit alone. I didn't get paid, I did it as a favor. I may have gotten free beer, but I don't remember. I did it because it was my church.

Club Amnesia, on a school night, with crack dealers and moneyed hipsters and everyone in between passing by, and sometimes through the front door, was a place where people let their guards down, their hair down, and wove words together in a way a fusion chef breaks apart culinary paradigms and inventively melds seemingly disparate food groups.

Club Amnesia, on a school night, with Generation X's version of beat poets clutching worn sheets of paper, but mostly delivering their odes by memory, was a place where beer in hand, and heart on sleeve, we all participated in a collective "Ohm".

But don't take my word for it, take Saul's.

"through meditation I program my heart
to beat breakbeats and hum basslines on exhalation...
I burn seven day candles that melt
into twelve inch circles on my mantle
and spin funk like myrrh...
the beat goes on, the beat goes on, the beat goes 'ohm'"

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Half Mast Rebel

The following post was originally posted on my friend Matt Gonzalez's new blog on August 12, 2009, As It Ought To Be.

When I discovered what the religiously-tinted definition of a prude was, back in the 6th grade, I decided I didn't want to be one.

In my 11-year-old mind, already indoctrinated by a steady stream of Catholic-infused political beliefs and dogma, prudes didn't sneak Guns N' Roses tapes, heavy metal magazines, or try smoking an abandoned pack of cigarettes.

But I wasn't about to turn full-fledged rebel. In concert with the floweret of rebellion beginning to bloom there was a flash of the most boring of all adages, ready for harnessing at any moment (especially by dieters), and one my Mom stated constantly: "Everything in moderation".

So, while I was determined not be a pre-makeover Charlotte Vale from Now Voyager (young spinster goes from nunnery dress to sophisticate on celluloid in black and white) I also wasn't going to manifest the exhibitionistic Catholic school girl stereotype, with a skirt hiked up to there – the maximal anti-prude.

But the rebel floweret inched a bit taller. I may not have attempted to set my uniform skirt on fire, but I watched. And I was disappointed, like everyone else, that the material kind of melted and curled, and that the resulting acrid stench made me and my adolescent comrades run away and stuff our mouths with contraband Hubba Bubba to stave off the caustic tang that permeated our polyester, our Peter Pan collars, and even it seemed, our skin.

More than 20 years later, I'm not as fascinated by cloying bubble gum flavors, burning my uniform in effigy, or espousing the Catholic doctrines I was taught by teachers with (mostly) good intentions. In those 20 years I've met many people of diverse backgrounds. Through more than a few I observed that faith (not religion, but faith) is not just housed among the very good, the very dogmatic, and those who shun all forms of venial sin.

A notable example: The best yoga teacher I ever had, a former heroin addict, could drink a bottle of wine and get blazed the night before class and still teach with the kind of patience and in-the-moment presence only gifted instructors possess. She was a good time gal, and a dedicated and very spiritual yogi – not an either/or. It gradually became clear that I didn't have to run from the religious prude archetype proffered by teachers back in my uniform days. I just had to merely give my regards and say, "No, thank you".

I may have veered off the path my parents put me on back in Kindergarten, while they have become even more devout, but I now understand the importance of respecting their beliefs even though they are not okay with mine (maybe slightly alarmed is more like it). We've even managed to have some conversations about our differences without skyrocketing blood pressures on either side (of the aisle).

So, instead of continuing to run, or drowning out the dogma with GN'R, I'll listen. I won't necessarily accept or adopt, but I'll listen. My yoga instructor once said: "flexible in the body, flexible in the mind". My sprint now is away from narrowness and rigidity, and toward a more catholic view – but allow me emphasize that lower-case "c".

Monday, August 3, 2009

It's Like, Galaxies

A galaxy is not just a million stars suspended in ethereal darkness -- try a billion. This soupe du ephemeral jour also includes other bits of "interstellar media" like gas and dust.

(If you ever happen to be kicking around the subject with your posse and need to refer to more than one, the technical term is "galactic clusters".)

According to those in the know, when the night sky is clear (particularly during summer nights -- excluding San Francisco), it's possible to see a stretch of stars that are - get this - located close to the center of the Earth's galaxy. That's right. Even though our solar system is a tiny dot in our very own Milky Way, we can see starry snippets of it because everything in it revolves around a magnetic core.

Of course we don't live in just any old type of galaxy; we live in a barred spiral one. This means that our galaxy's main body is circular with a center all lit up like a house on fire (a result of the aforementioned serious magnetic action). This shape also features "revolving arms" shooting out of the central mass of stardust. Basically, our galaxy shape is super symmetrical and looks cool. Not everyone lives in an awesomely shaped galaxy.

A galaxy by its very nature has wondrous qualities about it. Therefore, one might say its metaphorical antonym is a black hole. Black holes are fascinating but perhaps not as wondrous, except to astronomers and quantum physicists because they are a tiny bit more scary than sublime. This is why: they are spaces containing a gravitational pull so powerful that not even light - ¡light! - can escape. This is why someone, like my Dad, may occasionally drop a corn-infested joke about how they sporadically show up in a womens' handbags.

The "door" of a black hole is known as an "event horizon", through which items, matter, Rush Limbaugh I wish, are sucked right in, industrial vacuum style. An event horizon is a one-way door, though; nothing going in ever ventures out again. It's not unlike an anaconda and its meals of rattus and canus.

So you can imagine, with this preface, that when one likens one's feelings to the utter, incomprehensible massiveness that is a galaxy (1,000,000,000 stars, remember?) that those feelings are most assuredly very strong, and feel very profound to the proprietor of said emotions.

And now I give you Laura Viers. I haven't come across anyone who has usurped the concept of a galaxy to say so cogently something we've all felt -- and also applied a melody that results in a celestial union of lyrics and notes.

When you sing, when you sing
The stars fill up my eyes
Galaxies pour down my cheeks
Galaxies…they flood the street

When we dance, when we dance
Eels and sea grass float on by
I’m 10,000 leagues beneath the sea
10,000 leagues…beneath the green
10,000 leagues

When we kiss, when we kiss
Bears and boulders vibrate through the air
Gravity is dead you see
No gravity…all I need is beating red
No gravity…

Saturday, August 1, 2009


It's Q2 earnings season! For most public companies this means hauling together financial statements, comparing quarterly goals to the the last fiscal year, and figuring out to spin the latest stats into a really nice story that analysts will like and buy.

These days it's also a rather bleak exercise for most C-level executives who face the scrutiny of a board of directors and depressed shareholders. C-levels are the folks who don't get pink slipped. It's a blessing and a curse. If you're C-level your salary is likely hefty, you probably know every make of Lexus, and you regularly wear out Blackberrys. In the midst of an economic shitstorm, however, it can suck a little to be in charge -- unless you actually like canning people.

Luckily, I'm far from in charge. I just get to edit earnings transcripts, as well as other hapless editors' transcripts of CEOs and CFOs spinning their stories of financial woe in thick foreign accents.

[Quick note: if you are ever head of Investor Relations at a company, I highly advise that the scripted management update at the beginning of the call be delivered by someone who a) speaks well, b) enunciates, and c) does not have just a rudimentary ability with the English language. Analysts suffer, too.]

While I've been itching to blog about anything other than Q2 trancripts, I haven't had time. The chains of earnings season have kept me shackled to my desk until my eyes bleed and my head hurts, and I'm ready to vomit the corporate platitudes C-levels are so fond of saying. The only antidote to this is an episode of the Real Housewives of Atlanta or a good night's sleep. new favorite tune. I hope C-levels know that a good playlist goes a long way during earnings season. As Peaches would say: it f*&%s the pain away.


The following post was originally posted on my friend Matt Gonzalez's new blog: As It Ought To Be, "a progressive blog which hopes to encourage thought and action related to contemporary political and cultural matters". I'll be contributing in the future, around the general theme of music. Check it out!

When I leave my house it’s inevitable: I cork my ears with trusty buds, sheathed in silicone, to create a steely seal against the blaring cacophony of the outside world.

There have been times, pre, mid, and post corking, that I have wondered if it might be a better idea to pocket the music and walk the streets, or ride the bus, with naked ears. I get a nagging feeling that sometimes I’m missing out by this constant corking, no matter how much the songs on my current playlist light up my brain. What kind of price have I been paying for this musical corkage?

I'm a lot closer to an introvert than an extrovert, but I actually do cherish random, spontaneous conversations with strangers – not limited to, but somehow mostly on MUNI – but I rarely invite these experiences. Mostly, I’ve been bent on thwarting them by filling my ear canals with music and podcasts, pretty much effectively nullifying the outside world.

It began innocently enough. As a newly minted college graduate and San Francisco resident a decade ago, I created my own music bubble to deter “the crazy” – in all its forms – and especially when I rode public transportation after twilight. After a few random – and awesome – interactions with strangers (likely when my iPod ran out of juice or I was in between headphones) it began to dawn on me that I was cloaking myself with a sonic veil. So, every now and again I would gingerly stow the music away, as if conducting my own personal experiment in approachability. But this was rare.

Recently, I was walking through my parents’ suburban neighborhood on the way to a soul-boosting mocha when I crossed paths with a young jogger. Despite having exchanged an urban landscape for a suburban one, I hadn’t discarded my modus operandi for daily walks: earbuds firmly embedded. My focus was on the sonic landscape rather than the one through which I traipsed -- the one with trees and flowers and and things.

As the jogger came closer we made eye contact. He raised his right hand. In fact, his hand was poised as if to give me a…high five? This stranger in teeny shorts? With, what is that? A smile stretched across his face?

Sometimes, I’m slow. By the time it occurred to me to raise my own right hand to meet his cheerful intention with a conclusionary, flesh-smacking handclap, a random and transient thing that could have boosted me more than a mocha, the moment passed. His right hand never met mine because it remained at my side, gripping my iPod, that sonic seal I had created unbroken. And it sucked.

I regretted my reticence. But I also marveled at the stranger who had just dashed by, and his in-the-moment inclination to boost us both with a fleeting act: a freaking high five, a sort of impromptu namaste. And then it hit me: how many times have I thwarted a simple “good morning,” or “hello?” while ensconced in my cocoon of musical bliss? How many meaningful exchanges have I missed out on that could have been pleasant or thought-provoking punctuations to the daily routine, to otherwise ordinary days?

Last week I was in the same neighborhood. I offered a nod and a smile to those with whom I made eye contact. I paid attention. And if I hadn’t been, I would have missed the flyer. It was a “Thank You” to those in the neighborhood who had helped return a beloved and heretofore wayward canine. I stood in front of the flyer for a while, outside of my usual cocoon, hearing the mechanical wooshing of cars going by, squeaking breaks, occasionally thumping bass lines, and fragments of conversations spilling out of open windows. This flyer was a high five in paper form, and though it was not meant for me, I was absolutely moved by the earnestness of the message.

I’ve decided to build windows in my sonic wall, so it’s less barricade and more permeable membrane, allowing for greater connection/interaction with the outside world. There’s no changing my clinical (or technical) introversion, but I’ve seen that the outside world, this planet, is a good place and worth connecting with – if sometimes to the soundtrack of my making.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Don’t Mullet Hate. Congratulate!

It's one thing to appreciate mullet humor ("Business in the front, party in the back!"). But it's another animal entirely to be the unintentional recipient of one.

I knew that no good would come of my new haircut as I watched "Cindy" use a razor to hack through the thick terrain of my hair for longer than what seemed necessary. I simply sat still and watched the swaths of darkness fall, fall, fall, onto the cold linoleum.

My inner optimism whispered incessantly: "Maybe after she adds product, and dries it, and straightens it everything is going to be just fine!"

But it wasn't, because when all was said and done and paid for, I emerged into the daylight with a fucking mullet, looking like a soccer Mom heading to my Honda Odyssey to pick up the kids from the babysitter.

[There's nothing disparaging about being a soccer Mom, obviously. But, I'm not one, not now, and I disagree with looking the part before I am the part.]

The mullet is not a new phenomenon, although the southern portion of this country is entirely responsible for its current death grip on certain American subcultures, as well as its exportation overseas.

According to Plague of the Mullet, a website dedicated to utter annihilation of the mullet, the Great Sphinx of Giza, over 4,500 years old, is the first monument depicting a figure (technically a human/lion hybrid) with the royal Egyptian hairdo of choice -- unbelievably, the mullet. Other noteworthy civilizations, such as the Assyrians, Persians, and Greeks all favored the mullet (automatic sunblock for the back of the neck?). I have no idea whether any broads within these cultures sported the popular cut as well, or if they had a greater degree of sense and style.

It wasn't until the 60's and 70's that the mullet began to show its fugliness more prominently in the U.S., although it mostly hibernated in the south until it exploded nationwide in the 1980's (I haven't yet uncovered who or what is to blame).

The site also mentions notable writers, philosophers, and celebrities who have at some point favored business in the front and a party in the back. Plague of the Mullet blames Samuel Taylor Coleridge's unfortunate hairstyle on opium abuse and a bad marriage. In his defense, his hair obviously did not stop him from founding the Romantic Movement along with that slacker William Wordsworth, and writing The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and freaking Kubla Khan.

Other notable mulleters have included Christopher Guest (did mullet magic have something to do with the greatness that is This Is Spinal Tap?), The Incredible Hulk, Joan Jett (still, actually), David Bowie in his Ziggy Stardust days, and we can't forget MacGyver.

As for my mullet, it will grow. There's no mental or physical state, in this dimension or any other, in which I can be convinced to intentionally wear a mullet. Not even on Halloween.

[I will concede that it is much better than the horrendous perm (chastity belt) I sported back in high school.]

In the meantime, I'm going to throw on some mullet-influenced glam rock and enjoy the party in the back.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

"I Can't Hear Above All The Awesome"*

A benefic time is like having the best hair day ever, but for a string of days. It's not a momentary streak of luck at the card table, or that one time the soufflé didn't cave in like a dilapidated coal mine. Rather, it's a harvest time: a confluence of perfectly aligned stars and planets all dressed up in sparkly layers of celestial dust, hanging out for awhile, just for you.

We've probably all had times when awesome came in and sat down for awhile. Maybe as a consequence we found ourselves doing involuntary jigs and smiling at perfect strangers. Maybe we were so grateful how our cup overfloweth that we, say, wept at the beauty of flowers.

Recently, like yesterday, it occurred to me that awesome and I need to spend some quality time together; it has been awhile. In the middle of contentedly eating sushi I realized that my services as a substitute teacher ("shark bait" is more accurate) will be called upon soon. School starts up again in a few mere weeks. This is definitive proof that I am not on awesome's priority list because awesome would have provided a less heinous income stream by now. Instantly I tasted bile and went color blind for about five seconds. This may also have been due to the electrifying wasabi sting that had just scored a touchdown in my mouth. It occurred to me that maybe I oughta formally invite awesome to swing by for a spell.

I've never tried to directly contact awesome before. I don't think my business school contacts can get me an email, and it definitely does not have a profile on Facebook. But, I imagine awesome is pretty smart and is totally plugged-in like all the superheroes at the Justice League HQ with their HDTV and giant plasma screens (cause that's all real, right?). I'm fairly confident that whether I recite an ode to awesome on a mountaintop, or splash an open letter on a blog, awesome will receive my message.

[Not sure where awesome lives. My first guess is another dimension. Other top guesses include Cape Sounio in Greece, God's Window in Mpumalanga, South Africa, or Zion National Park in Utah.]

I'd like to qualify the following by saying that as far as I can tell I'm not in the early stages of a mental breakdown, nor have I swum over to the deep end of delusion. If my open letter works, and awesome rings my doorbell, I am proof that a cocktail of sheer willpower, fantasy, and a dash of barmy, can summon a shimmery rainbow of change.

Dear awesome,

Hello. I hope this letter finds you well. As I am fairly confident you are omniscient, I will eschew formal introductions. I would like to kindly remind you that I haven't heard from you in awhile, and I humbly ask that you sojourn at my house in the near future (like say before public schools start up again?). Or, if you usually work through some sort of possession, by all means I'm ready. Come on through me. I'm ready. I accept. I'll willingly be your vessel; I will squeeze you in among my organs and clear out cerebral cobwebs to make room.

I think it will amuse you that I have an idea of what housing you would look like. I imagine that when I stretch out my hands my fingers will shoot thin beams of light, leaving behind wisps of that celestial ephemera you wear like perfume. I bet my cheeks will glow as if I had spent all day at the sauna, and the zits on my chin will slide off into oblivion (everyone knows whiteheads recoil in the presence of awesome). My gait will go from clumsy to graceful, and I won't even be tempted to eat a bag of potato chips or drink a venti mocha because I'll only want to eat food and drink that embolden and sustain you.

You will grant me the ability to finally see all the open doors and windows -- the ones referenced in those adages everyone mentions when there's no sign of you and we are huddled under clouds of dejection or individual rainstorms of despair.

Upon inspection I will see that all those doors of opportunity and adventure and success are immaculately crafted (by you, of course) with knobs that beckon brightly, and open with no whisper of creaking. And those windows! The variety and artistry of their frames and glass would make even the most pathological of defenestrators cream their pants (excuse my French).

The best part, though, will be the din that you bring, because it will be music; it will sound like a sweet rabble of angels, club hopping and laughing and rolling their own cigarettes. We'll sit outside, in the sun or under the stars, with our antioxidant shakes or cups of chamomille tea and talk and laugh, and when we are moved, cut a rug with the volume all the way up.

I hope that you do not find my letter too forward, and I do understand that you must be very busy these days. I am grateful and thankful for all that you have accomplished, and continue to make happen. Please do not hesitate to contact me. I am best reached on my mobile (I'm sure you've got the number).

Very truly yours,
House of G

*A variation on a quote by Joe Franklin vis-à-vis his Facebook satus on 6/4/09.

Monday, July 6, 2009

For This I P....

I pray. Maybe not your way. But I confess that prayer in one form or another still ekes out of me, and very likely will for as long as I walk the Earth in my Chuck D's. My way is more IRReverent than Reverent, but my gut tells me it still counts.

The first time that prayer and laughter co-mingled for me was at my cousin Ed's high school graduation on a sultry afternoon in 1991, and definitely not a Cat On A Hot Tin Roof sultry. I still faced a two-year stretch at an all-girl Catholic high school. I thought it was hell. We were instructed that prayer was a rigid thing: it was rote, it was dessicated, and I didn't question it.

[Digression: my all-girl high school experience is often perceived by the opposite sex as a juicy morsel from the past. It seems to suggest - to them - a teenagehood fraught with unspeakable eagerness and hormone-filled curiosity bred in steamy post P.E. locker rooms, of an outlook not yet jaded by feminism and the dull edge of monochromatic adult life. As if. Behind my globular glasses, and under my abominable poodle perm, I snarkily thought the pretty girls would end up pregnant by their early 20s (which they did), and I thought boys were stupid because I silently had crushes on them.]

At the graduation, the valedictorian gave a pretentious speech that included the term "laissez-faire" multiple times. Most people barely made it through the salutatorian's speech without reaching Stage 1 of sleep. It was the student body president's speech I remember vividly because it referenced a controversial topic at the time, prayer in schools, and because she was (kindly) bent on making her long-suffering, heat-stroked audience laugh: "As long as there are final exams in high school, there will always be prayer in classrooms." Everyone laughed, the graduates threw their caps in the air, and we all went home and ate cake.

The line about prayer in schools stuck with me as I grew out my perm and learned how to drive. My concept of prayer began to extend beyond a circuit of beads and a prescribed set of Vatican II-approved supplications. I saw that prayer comes from all kinds of people, and through so many forms because we are all conduits to things beyond (then perhaps greater than?) ourselves. We can hear this through music, see this through dance, miraculous sunsets drawing on a dizzying array of pinks and oranges, through acts of kindness, in works of art on the sides of buildings, or housed securely in sterilized museums, in the whispered entreaties addressed to a divine spirit, and through ardent pleas that may not involve a recognized form of providence.

As for me and God, I don't know. We are still working it out. We may go our separate ways, or we may meet in the middle. No one's call it yet, not even the most confident of soothsayers. But, I still pray, and always will, just like a modern-day Lazarus with a fun dial on high and ready to pour another round for everyone at the table.

Addendum: Luis Saguar, my prayers - not made from concentrate - include you and your family. Que tienes paz, en tu corazon, en tu alma, y que no sufres. Te queremos muchísimo, y tengo fe que el viaje al otro lado estará lleno con el amor del mundo -- por esto estoy rezando.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Double, Tall, Nonfat, ¡No Whip!, Mocha

I do not have a thyroid condition. I'm not pregnant. I possess a modicum of self-control. I exercise daily.

So there's no reason why I should have a problem fitting in my jeans. But, I am having a problem fitting into my jeans.

When the sunny side of life is not tipped in one's favor it helps to manufacture one's own sunshine. I don't do pharmaceuticals so mine has come in the form of a hot beverage: a double, tall, nonfat, ¡no whip!, mocha. Every afternoon. Rain or shine. For, oh, the last several months.

When I committed to the mocha, my sunshine in a paper cup, I committed. I committed in the way one might devote oneself to constructing a noteworthy career. To salvaging a passionate relationship. To seeking the meaning of life (by way of a methodically made espresso drink).

My days revolved around my sacred mid-afternoon ritual, whether I wrote ten cover letters during the day (Reward! Reward! I get a mocha!), or wrote jackshit (I need my antidepressant; I need my mocha).

Thus came the inevitable, and thus spake Zarathustra, I mean, my Mom: "If you keep that up you are going to gain weight". Having been a teenager I know a little something about flipping the switch to lock down my sense of hearing when I'm hearing what I don't want to hear. And, I wasn't hearing it when it came to my sunshine, hot or iced.

There's also something about enduring a long stretch of unemployment in "the worse economic period since the Great Depression, blah, blah" that afforded me emotional leverage with my Mom with regard to a habit on which we did not see eye to eye: she just stopped giving me verbal cues about the correlation between mochas, calories, and the size of my butt.

For several months I rationalized my habit: But, I'm unemployed and it takes away the pain! But, I'm ordering it nonfat, ¡no whip! But, I got my 167th rejection letter today! But, it helps me explore my voice, and develop the texture of my wordsmithing! But, I just got paid for editing! But, I am paying tribute to my Mexican ancestors whose innovative use of the cacao plant resulted in xocoatl -- the consumption of which was said to bring universal wisdom and knowledge!

But then my butt all on its own pulverized my rationalizations when the zipper on my jeans began to buzz in protest, and a disconcerting tightness around my waist added to the chorus of which my Mom had long ago been appointed chanticleer. The scale barked in stark confirmation: Weight. Gain. After a few moments the scale added a little side snark that only I could hear: "On a petite flower like you, honey, you're practically zaftig". Oh. The. Horror.

What I really like about an Americano (single or double shot of espresso combined with 6 to 8 ounces of hot water) is how light it feels on the palette, and in my body. I'm on the path I need to be on now. I'm exploring the new territory of "Low-Calorie Espresso Drinks", and my first destination is "Back To Normal". My checking account has also voiced its approval.

Fare thee well, xocoatl.

Friday, June 26, 2009

"The Baddest Nissans in the Northwest"

First, some context.

FOUND Magazine was birthed by Davy Rothbart after he found a note that someone had mistakenly left on his windshield. It proved momentous: his interest piqued by the lone note, he began collecting, along with co-founder Jason Bitner, abandoned bits of paper, notes, scraps, letters, pictures -- any written word of quirky interest that either tells a story, or hints intriguingly at one.

The first FOUND Magazine was produced several years ago (originally meant to be a zine for shits and giggles amongst friends), but the momentum behind it caught fire, and several volumes later (including a book, a play, and a few volumes of the NC-17 version of the magazine, Dirty FOUND -- a zine repository of drrrty deeds and pix), the magazine's momentum continues to grow.

At the heart of the zine's creation is the idea that a tremendous amount of beauty, stupidity, tenderness, and honesty (and the magazine only proves that all this comes in many forms, stripes, and levels of intelligence) can be found in the very unselfconscious act of communicating, through the written word, to another human being. Those abandoned bits of paper, those misplaced notes, those letters the wind carried away from their intended targets reveal one thing: we're more honest with ourselves, and with others, when we've taken a pen to paper. The result is a level of honesty we can't just shoo away, or turn the volume down on -- the tangibility of the written word is no mere figment of the imagination, and it commands our rapt attention.

Thumbing through one of the magazines is a nice ride through the zany, the moving, and the hysterical, but not more so than attending a stop on this year's "Denim & Diamonds" tour (Davy and Co. have been touring nationwide since 2002), during which Davy encourages steady drinking at the top of the show (two-fisting it is simply practical so as to not have to get up from one's seat halfway through) before he launches into reading old FOUND favorites, and new ones.

Davy also invites musical acts to play jams during the show, and this for me was the highlight of the show. The Watson Twins were the featured band on the San Francisco stop, and while they seem very friendly, and very tall, I was not moved at all except to fight the urge to check Facebook on my Blackberry. The showstopper for me was Davy's brother, Peter Rothbart. Peter, a talented musician (like, *wow*), composes music inspired by FOUND items. He's really our generation's definition of a Gen X troubador. I can only hope that his CDs, 2007's The Sight Of Any Bird, and 2004's Songs For The Long Lonely Drive, catch the same fire that has propelled the magazine into a much deserved spotlight.

Peter is the type of performer who can easily elicit a schizophrenic response: I both laughed up a lung, before nudging it back into place, and was moved to tears (that's life, right?). During his rendition of "The Baddest Nissans in the Northwest" I experienced the low key lightning of chills over and over as I cradled a Corona. This is why (in Peter's words):

"This song is based on a letter found in Oregon City, Oregon, and printed in issue 5 of FOUND Magazine. It's a beautiful, epic, 5-page profession of enduring love written by a man who is learning to tip the balance of his life in his own favor.

I adapted the letter into song using a mix of words and phrases from the original and some of my own material."

The letter was found unopened, returned to sender. After a long struggle with drug addiction the author declares, along with his love, that he has found his true purpose in life: to outfit and race "the baddest Nissans in the northwest" (frankly, I've heard worse goals). There's a quiet nobility to an endeavor, however much it drips with wackiness, dreamt up by someone determined to leave behind a legacy that outweighs the constant reminder of faded needle marks and the ever-present aftershocks of having faced the maw of drug addiction, and emerging from it mostly intact.

The tragedy of this FOUND letter is that one woman never learned of the author's profound and abiding love for her. But, I argue it's a minor one in that it allowed Peter to craft something that leaves us all momentarily vulnerable, allowing us to drop our pretenses for a few minutes, to momentarily shun our cynicism, and to once again cradle a hope for change for the better - along with our beer - despite/in spite of our damaged and flawed selves.

Peter Rothbart's website: