food, friends, music, photography

back in the saddle

finally – after 2 weeks, i feel more like myself. i battled some evil sickness, some worrisome money woes and some minor depression over those items and a few internal family matters, but my frame of mind is coming around.

i’ve been craving eggs and toast at nite, which means i am craving that much needed protein. oh – and the hot chocolate with marshmallows doesn’t hurt 😉

i’ve been working a lot of extra days lately . . . and it’s a good thing – having to pay for a new (to me) car’s registration, title, tags and insurance takes a bite out of things. Not to mention, i am back in school with 2 courses and textbooks going above $200. Cultural Anthropology and Linguistics, and Psychology of Human Sexuality. i’m yet to learn more about how we live, how we speak, how we fuck and what we think about it all.

i am patiently awaiting the new Beck – Guero. it was released as a deluxe 2-disc edition which was available for pre-sale purchase. Disc 1 has 3 bonus tracks and 4 remixes. Disc 2 is a DVD which features the 5.1 Surround Sound mix of Guero, along with Movie/video remixes for the 13 album tracks by groundbreaking video artists D-Fuse and other fun stuff. Packaged in a 52 booklet of art and photos with a cool foil stamp cover. needless to say – i am psyched!

i secured another wedding photography gig in June from another co-worker. i am very excited to shoot this one, as it will be outdoors, at dusk in a beautiful park. Megan, the bride is lovely and talented: a professional dancer, singer and generally, beautiful person. i recently met her fiancé, Michael, and he is handsome and gentlemanly. i am so fortunate to work with nice, flexible, fun people and NOT Bridezilla and Frankengroom.

my younger sister (30), Racheal, will be visiting me from LA mid-April for a few days. it has been several years since she has visited me here in Maryland. we’ve had what i will delicately call “a strained relationship,” without revealing too much of our personal dirt. but i am looking forward to enjoying some time with her.

with any luck and some honest to goodness flights being booked, the long awaited journey and visit will take place mid to late June – i will FINALLY meet and entertain two wonderful people (now married) whom i am proud to call friends. Jennifer & Thad- i cannot WAIT to tear up some evenings and put down some wine with you!  much love to you BOTH!

Odin is standing in front of the monitor. He’s ready to eat, and what a great idea . . . i suppose i will have that egg now . . .

more important thoughts as (when) they occur.

food, friends, music, photography

Fancy That

:::
– wrap yourself around
the Tree of Life
and the Dance of the Infinity
of the Hive –

:::

On Sunday, Marcy and our new found photographer friend, Andrew, went to a CFA Cat Show. This was an interesting affair consisting of gorgeous felines in various elaborately decorated “cages,” some with sequined fabric, lace, silk, and pictures of the breed and/or brood they hailed from. The cats were called into several “rings” where they were judged by categories, classifications, placed on a light box stage, petted, stroked, pulled at lightly to gauge length, eye color, fur and coat markings, then lightly taunted with a feather toy of sorts to check for playful/friendly disposition as they were commented on and declared a winning place. This was not to be mistaken with a dog show, where the animals demonstrate not only beauty, grace, and breed superiority through training and performance. This was a collection of spoiled, pretty kitties.  An interesting subculture of people to be sure . . . and the license plates in the parking lot.

i am not one to talk so much . . . i own show cats. And allow me to bore you with show considerations for my Bengal kitties . . . Pixel is not fit for show because he is too close to the wild (he is an F-2, they must be F-4 and beyond to be considered for show.) The Bengal cat is the result of a breeding between the Asian Leopard Cat (ALC) and the domestic cat. Some of the early felines used in these matings include Egyptian and Indian Maus, Burmese and non-pedigreed domestic cats. As the breed progressed, SBT Bengals were taken back to the ALC instead of the miscellaneous other breeds. When you hear reference to Bengals by a number following the letter F, this refers to the number of generations removed from the nearest Asian leopard cat in the Bengal’s lineage or pedigree. An F-1, for example, has an Asian leopard cat for a parent; therefore, this Bengal is one generation away from the nearest ALC. F-1 through F-3 Bengals are often also referred to as “Filial/Foundation” Bengals, to differentiate them from F-4 and beyond, which are considered the true domestic purebred Bengals. And lastly TICA (The International Cat Association recognizes Bengals, whereas the CFA (Cat Fanciers’ Association) does NOT. Odin is somewhere in the F-9 area, and he has papers – but i’ll never show him. As Marcy pointed out . . . Odin may be beautiful, but as the owner, i do not meet the minimum weight requirement. Besides, i’m not sure how i feel about the self-indulgence of animal competition and pet pageantry – i don’t even think it’s good for humans.

March has been a dismal month for income at the restaurant, for photograph sales and for extra paid projects otherwise. i may have to turn tricks soon or consider escort service.  And then there’s that $750 income tax bill i owe, plus estimated tax installments.  i finally went grocery shopping, and what a treat that was! i am always a bit disconcerted when i get under that hellish fluorescent light and am served up the piped in elevator tunes while perusing the frozen food section: Elton John (post Bernie Taupin) Whitney Houston ballads, and various awful, forgettable 70’s tunes. i was briefly grateful when i heard Norah Jones. Some odd signs of the apocalypse hit me as i was there, however.

😐 Easter Eggs. Already boiled, dyed and in the clear carton by the 8s, so you can save yourself the bother of coloring them yourself . . . which was always the FUN part!

😐 Pre-packaged pancakes. Already cooked, fluffy and beige, smashed in plastic like a stack of Oscar Mayer bologna. Is it that fucking difficult to make pancakes? i mean – they even have the kind where you JUST ADD WATER!

😐 The sheer VOLUME of items marked “CARB” anything: carb-free, low-carb, carb-considerate. Atkins, you fat ass – fuck YOU and your CARBS!

i wish his empire would’ve crumbled with his death. Low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets have been criticized by major health organizations including the American Heart Association, the American Dietetic Association, and the American Kidney Fund. Low-carbohydrate diets push dieters to avoid healthy foods, like rice, beans, and pasta, while ignoring the risks of high-cholesterol, high-fat meat and cheese, which also lead to heart disease, kidney problems, reduced sex drive, bone loss and cause for a worrying increase in the problem of constipation, a key factor in causing bowel cancer.

My conclusion? Keep ALL my carbohydrates in my muffins, bagels, snack foods, and for certain – in my god damned ice cream. Good Carbs have not been processed and contain a fair amount of fiber. These food types include oatmeal, whole grain bread, legumes, vegetables, fruit, and sugar-free whole grain cereals. Supposedly Bad Carbs have been processed (or refined). These food types include white bread, white pasta, rice, ice cream, candy, and soda. Oh well – i like the good, the bad AND the ugly. i like FOOD!  but bring it to me unaltered and unadulterated.

Also over the weekend – and speaking of food and exercise . . . it was my friend Sara’s birthday. Everyone arranged a Mexican/Spanish spread of food for her, including plantains, enchiladas, stuffed avocados, beans and an ice cream cake. Everyone had to submit to temporary tattoos, and so i opted for a star above my belly button, a la Star-bellied Sneetches “Now, the Star-Belly Sneetches / Had bellies with stars / The Plain-Belly Sneetches / Had none upon thars” (And you ALL had better know what i’m talking about or seek out Dr. Seuss, promptly.) My star-belly raised Brooks’ eyebrows as i got ready for bed later.

Sara wore brown, knee high, leather boots and a jean skirt and 3 flower tattoos down her calf. In the back of her boots and in her back pocket, she stuffed a few maracas. Whenever she swayed her hips, shook a leg or her groove thang (her ‘ass,’ for the uninitiated), she rattled. We ate and drank and then went out dancing. i requested “Domino” by Van Morrison from a locally loved guitar player/singer duo and the dance party ensued. Before we knew it we were swing dancing, spinning, and getting kinda funky . . . until the lights came on. Then it was back to Sara’s friend’s house for some discussion on Art History, Goddess mythology, and hula-hooping in the front yard.

it is certainly, in a month for adverse weather, poor income, and strange fancies – a blessing to have good cats, good food, good friends, good music, and a good camera to capture it all.

friends, music, photography

serenade

:::

Mexican Boyfriend
by Shivaree

i wore the dress that you liked almost everyday
Boxed up all my baby dolls and gave them away
i wrote your name on the wall next to my bed
Any day that i saw you at all was circled in red

What they said was a man drifted over the line
Drove you away and a little girl out of her mind
And the rain fell down and washed off your face
Washed you away, left carnations and stone in your place

My first cigarette and my first pill
My first cup of coffee and my first chill
Now you’ll never know my first kiss
Somebody else will
Cause you were the first one i saw
Holding that still

:::

shiv•a•ree
n. Midwestern & Western U.S.

A noisy mock serenade for newlyweds. Also called regionally charivari, belling, horning, serenade.

:::  :::  :::  :::

Marcy & i saw Shivaree LIVE, Saturday February 26th, 2005 at our favorite little venue, Ram’s Head Tavern Onstage in Annapolis, MD.

Ambrosia Parsley told the audience great stories about first loves, the vengeance of grandmothers, and the joys of childhood as altered by NyQuil and Flintstone’s Vitamins.

To tell you would take awhile, and i would hate to steal the fire from her stories.

. . . a most enjoyable show to say the least. Sexy, slinky, loungy music. We even got to meet her later – she signed my CD with a silver Sharpie, transforming herself into a shiny whiskered cat on the CD cover sleeve.

So – onto the idea of wedding serenades . . .

This weekend i’ll be taking photos at my friends’ wedding. Amy & Josh, both of whom i have worked with and had plenty of wine with.

At one point, weather permitting, we will be following an accordion player out of the church and marching up to the hall for the cocktail hour and reception. This is pretty much a parade through small town Annapolis. She is also having an apron dance which everyone should enjoy. i am a bit nervous with a new camera . . . but things should turn out well :fingerscrossed:

i also hired a new person at work, Megan, who i hope will in turn, employ me at her wedding as a photographer.

i am having fun with the semi-pro side of things, but i am often surprised at the jokers who ARE taking photos for hire, the poor quality of work they turn out, and the exorbitant fees they command. ESPECIALLY for weddings. So far, i have shot 3 weddings, all for friends, and maybe, the fact that i come cheap and i KNOW the people takes the pressure off, we have fun, and i get good shots.

Well – wish me luck this weekend!

music, photography, writing

trinity of creativity


:::

HST
7.18.37
2.20.05

“Fiction is based on reality unless you’re a fairy-tale artist . . .
you have to get your knowledge of life from somewhere.
You have to know the material you’re writing about before you alter it.”

~ Hunter S. Thompson

“The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench,
a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free,
and good men die like dogs.
There’s also a negative side.”

~ Hunter S. Thompson

“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”

~ Hunter S. Thompson

:::

He described himself as “an elderly dope fiend living out in the wilderness,” and Hunter S. Thompson, inventor of gonzo journalism, the journalist of the Me decade with his whacked-out and occasionally self-indulgent prose, brilliant, wicked swizzle stick in the shit martini that is our over-sanitized, focus-group-tested, squelched news, media and political coverage – well, he shot himself in his Aspen home.

Not everyone is built for this world . . . especially those who ride it like a rodeo bull. Poor, brave darlings that they are, bordering on reality and escaping it as often as chemically possible.

i purge my own (un)reason through writing, through exercising my voice(s). it’s one of the few things that keeps me tethered to this life and helps me to dissect and reflect on it all. it’s not history until it’s documented, it’s not understood until it’s reflected in the eyes of others, it’s not any good until it resounds in someone else’s psyche as it expands your own.

:::  :::  :::  :::  :::

“My problem is my feet are too big and I can’t find the shoes that I want, shoes that are sleek and thin and make a pronounced statement of ‘I have access to important documents’ and ‘I have catering on a 24 hour basis’. I want to communicate these things with a shoe, which is impossible with my size, I can’t find the shoes that fit. And I can’t find shoes that make the statement that ‘I am a temple’, that ‘I am a grotto’, that ‘I am a botanical park of many leaves, flowers and trees which essential oils are derived from as well’, if you’re into that sort of thing. You need to make statements, whether you’re trying to be a cemetery of life, whether you’re trying to be a chaperone-slash- assailant, whether you’re trying to be a security guard-slash-masseuse. There’s different things you need to communicate with your footwear and it’s difficult when the width of your foot is greater than the length. Which in a way is kind of the way life is sometimes. Sometimes life is wider than it is long. And you just can’t fit in anywhere.”

~ Beck

:::  :::  :::  :::  :::

Music takes up a HUGE portion of my life. i am ever looking for the soundtrack to my existence, or at least a temporary explanation. And then there’s the consideration of mood. i’m looking for what fits.

some of the things i am currently cycling into the sound check, checking out, or waiting to arrive:

  • Who’s Got Trouble – Shivaree
  • Wikked Lil’ Grrls – Esthero
  • Guero – Beck
  • Speak For Yourself – Imogen Heap
  • A Girl Called Eddy – A Girl Called Eddy
  • The Beekeeper – Tori Amos

:::  :::  :::  :::  :::

“I don’t have any allegiance to an organized religion; I have an allegiance to the gifts that I find for myself in those religions… I’d rather be non-denominational, except for music. I prefer to learn everything through music. If you want divinity, the music in every human being and their love for music is pretty much it. It’s the big indication of their spirituality and their ability to love and make love, or feel pain or joy, and really manifest it, really be real. But I don’t believe in a big guy with a beard on a throne, telling us that we’re bad; I certainly don’t believe in original sin. I believe in the opposite of that: you have an Eden immediately from the time you are born, but as you are conditioned by your caretakers and your surroundings, you may lose that original thing. Your task is to get back to it, to claim responsibility for your own perfection.”

~ Jeff Buckley

:::  :::  :::  :::  :::

“When i’m posing for a photographer, as with music, it has to be improvisational at a certain point. For it to work you have to allow yourself to dream, to walk into a painting. If you establish an inner dialogue while you’re being photographed it can be a bit more revealing. i might remember a conversation with somebody that takes me to a certain space. i’m not inhabiting a different character – i’m inhabiting myself, although this might be a piece of the self that even i am just meeting for the first time. That’s what i like to see in a photograph. When somebody’s just blankly staring out at you, or seducing the camera in a really obvious way, it just doesn’t have the same resonance.”

~ Tori Amos from Tori Amos: Piece by Piece

:::  :::  :::  :::  :::

i don’t know if i will ever be the caliber of Dorthea Lange or Diane Arbus or Annie Liebovitz, but as i am constantly inspired by photographers, male and female, new and historical, and all encompassing a wide world of imagery, i will continue to explore my tools, and document my little red chunk of the world :heart:

:::  :::  :::  :::  :::

“Most people go through life dreading they’ll have a traumatic experience. Freaks were born with their trauma. They’ve already passed their test in life. They’re aristocrats.”

~ Diane Arbus

:::  :::  :::  :::  :::

Meanwhile we are all desperately reaching for our trauma, our uniquity, our gift, or own personal freakdom that will allow us to express ourselves fully, to transcend our simplicty, mediocrity, anonymity – to become a vibrant version of ourselves.

And the approach is simple . . . convince yourself you can do it.

There is this trinity of expressive things i love: writing, music, and photography. i told myself i wanted to write; i did it, i was published in minor publications, won a small scholarship and continue to scribble – even my dreams are work for the paper. i told myself i loved music so much i would write it, sing it, play it live. i did. i took the writing, taught myself guitar, recorded several songs with a band on CD, played live and loved it immensely. i still sing and play here and there, but i mostly consume music now. i told myself i really love photography and i want to learn how to do it, learn to see my world differently. i brought joy to friends, family, even strangers who to my wild delight and surprise, actually forked over money for something i captured, and now i am displaying and selling them on the walls at my ‘real’ job. and every day, when i drive, when i walk, when i listen to conversations, when i have tea by myself, when i travel i see the world in little 4×6 boxes that i keep rotating, cropping, expanding.

and i am still learning and convincing myself i can do it.

music

Keen on Keane

i’m driving home today after doing some light grocery shopping, and while sipping on some sweet tea (just to conjure summer and drive winter back) my local station, WRNR 103.1 announces that they are giving out tickets to the 10th caller. The show for KEANE at the 930 club in DC is SOLD OUT, but i have 2 tickets for me and Marcy.

And that’s not even what i WON! i won tickets to a private luncheon event at The Ram’s Head Tavern Onstage which i have mentioned before and been to several times – a wonderful intimate venue. This is a private event BEFORE the actual show where winners get to meet & greet KEANE, hear a few songs like a warm up performance and participate in a Q&A session!

i think i might pee my pants!

music

Firefly Light: Small Flames Burn It All

:::
am i your pussycat?
i know what’s new
it’s the oldest hat in the book
we can’t get fast enough to go backwards
to take a second look

~ Animals on WheelsSam Phillips
:::

On Monday, June 21st, Zoey and i went to see Sam Phillips in concert with Eszter Balint at The Ram’s Head in Annapolis. It was a warm night and we donned our best red and black clothing. i even dragged out the leather pants and the wavy hair for the evening.

Eszter Balint was an interesting creature – she had this smallish frame and short dark hair. Somewhat atonal, offkey and definitely offbeat. Apparently, she has a fledgling movie career now turned music career. She was in a few of Jim Jarmusch Films (Trees Lounge, Stranger Than Paradise). Originally from Hungary, she plays violin and sings bittersweet, semi-caustic lyrics. Nothing wildly abrasive, only that she makes you think of broken glass and Comet cleanser and that flophouse excuse of an apartment you stayed too long at, going rent poor in New York. She reminds you of that time you layed next to an abusive lover who could really shine on that rare occasion – the one you had to try desperately, daily to talk yourself out of. To leave would mean to slough off a few layers of skin, like escaping from a bear trap, that or you layed awake at night watching their chest rise and fall and their eyes flutter as you considered killing them while they slept. Eventually you get smart and write a bunch of songs and tell morbid jokes about it.

Then there is the sweet sting of unrequited love in Sam Phillips music. She is a self-described torch singer. “Torch” both for tortured and for carrying a torch for that person you love who does not love you back. She could be swaying in front of a big band, a delicate-voiced thrush, in a small 40’s club with round tables and plenty of bourbon. Her music is wholly transporting, minimalistic with inventive percussion, small upright piano and brilliant violin punctuated by swirling Beatle-esque melodies and sharp lyrics honed with such an economy of language that they sing like paging through old photos and love letters from that time you spent in Paris with a beautiful stranger. She stood like a porcelain figure all in black, her hips curved slightly back in straight pants, the hind quarters of a silky fox, bellted by a thin shimmer of ribbon, her blouse drooped forward, a bowl to catch the song and spill it out to the upturned mouths of the audience, a small black jacket revealing the small of her back, strong for the carry.

She told cleverly crafted stories, read letters, used a handheld tape recorder as a musical backdrop for one song and looked piercingly around at the audience through a small curtain of blunt-cut blonde hair. She was wonderfully described once as “part savant, part naif, and part waif – seductive by thirds” and her music like a “subtle insistence.” Her “voice is very cool and often icy but it’s also expressive and interesting.” Her “music is mostly austere and thoughtful but it’s also enjoyable and sometimes quite catchy.” Sam Phillips is full of cagey, romantic observations even in her speech . . .

After singing “Draw Man” which she described as a “strip tease in reverse” she looked out at us, addressing the women in the audience growling, “do you know what i mean?” Some murmurred, some laughed, some howled and catcalled.

Her pedigree is also impressive, having left the world of Christian music (under the given name Leslie Phillips) she teamed up with husband/producer T Bone Burnett (producer of O Brother Where Art Thou) for a total transformation and has recorded with Elvis Costello and Gillian Welch.

Zoey and i exchanged glances and tear-soaked faces at points in the evening. Somehow a firefly got into the venue and hovered above her, blinking pale green, a magical sort of completely right moment. We came away from a performance that Zoey described as “hot.” And it was . . . truly.  As hauntingly deep as dreams and desire, we left the world for awhile and came back with the simple advice that we “shouldn’t work so hard at love – just have fun.”

music, writing

lyrical substitution

Jeff Buckley looking through match flame . . .

I looked upon his face through flame
and knew the shape, the curve of mouth
the bottomless eyes,
the puncture wound
left by his name,
but still the ache like silken hands beneath
a sleeve that only brushed my cheek
and how can I love
so deep
a boy who sings
as though to weep
and gather all
my heart in knots
of red red silk,
to wring it white and colorless
and sting my taste against
the other strangers I have never met.

~ Andrea E. Janda

family, food, gardening, humor, music, technology, weather

Beyond the Harvest

“Now the woods will never tell
What sleeps beneath the trees
Or what’s buried ‘neath a rock
Or hiding in the leaves
‘Cause road kill has its seasons
Just like anything
It’s possums in the autumn
And it’s farm cats in the spring

Now a lady can’t do nothin’
Without folks’ tongues waggin’
Is this blood on the tree
Or is it autumn’s red blaze
When the ground’s soft for diggin’
And the rain will bring all this gloom
There’s nothing wrong with a lady
Drinking alone in her room.”

~ Murder in the Red Barn by Tom Waits

i’ve been thinking. And when i think like this – i go far out beyond fatalistic borders. It’s not a cruel darkness, just one that avoids phonecalls and voicemail and email and fax machines and blenders and microwaves – most forms of digital output and noise.

It’s the kind of thinking that makes you sit in front of sci-fi films for half the afternoon with a bottle of wine, contemplating alternate futures and ultimately deciding there’s no blindingly beautiful promise, no achieved perfection, no immortality, no homogenized version of gender, no egalitarian, peaceful rule meant to blanket the world, no disembodied intelligence – only the regression to a base understanding of what makes one truly human and sentient and in it’s crude but lovely way . . . alive. For a spell.

Never do you grapple with what a production this whole thing is until you do something as simple as say, cooking a small breakfast for yourself. Or more eating and appreciating food. You get out a pan. Not clay, not tin, but some poly-cluster creation with a gleaming handle and Teflon coating bearing a brand name recognizing a long-dead, strong sounding Norse god. A pat of butter to grease it with. No. Not butter, not taken from a cow, churned for hours in wood cut from a pine or hickory tree. Well, not even butter – margarine. And from an evenly sprayed dispenser. You turn on the fire. No. The stovetop. No, not even that – an electrified flat black surface with the pan placed over the approximate round etched size of your pan. It’s hot because water skitters off the surface so you add your egg. From a carton, from some far away chicken you never fed or robbed of its children from under the warm straw nest while it protested. It whitens, sunny side up you cover it to steam and cook faster. And while you wait . . . you get two slices of bread.  Oat Nut. Two things. Several really. Yeast you didn’t produce, oat flour you never milled, nuts you never grew or shelled or chopped. And you turn them into toast in the four-slotted drawer that pulls out of a recess in the wall. And while you wait . . . you’re out of orange juice,  a fruit which you definitely did not grow in this northern climate but you do have apple cider, in a plastic container from a towering orchard you never walked. Somewhere before all of this, you started a pot of coffee.  Not on a kettle nor pressed, but all orchestrated by one machine whose compartments allow for whole beans you never grew under a hot sun or carried by donkey pack up a steep ravine and no need for paper or filters, the mesh basket strains the ground coffee and the receptacle purifies the water of all the chemicals you added to kill the previous undesirable batch you added before which you did not take from the riverbank or pump from underground. And so onto the glass plate you never saw baked with the margarined egg and the oatnut toast and into the deep mug  with the coffee and so to add sugar you never knew as brown cane once harvested by slaves now white and bleached into angelic recognition and something to cream it with . . . some milk.  You’re out of milk.  No cow for that i’m afraid but never you worry, powdered milk to add filtered water to in a cup with measured lines and the unused rest – down the drain because it’s not palatable enough and you’ll never use it in cereal with a glossy protective varnish or cookies with chocolate which is another story altogether. And this is 10 minute preparation. Just breakfast of 2 foods and two beverages, plus condiment. Nothing farmed, all stored in various airtight and plastic refrigeration.

And what’s this to do with the season of harvest and the impending winter? Everything, had you need of preserves and jellies and canning and warm storage and feed for animals. But don’t fret –there’s a 24-hour mega-store when you run out of toilet paper and sundries. Even some carrots for the horses. Hunting season consists for some of avoiding the sprinting deer across the four-lane highway – and you never thought you’d see them here. Possums are as plentiful as pets and just as many wasted, lost and flattened. And all that processed specialty cat chow they’re missing out on.

No. i’m not really disgusted. Not entirely sarcastic. Just incredibly appreciative (and occasionally fearful) of the labor and death that comes from bounty.

And please . . .

don’t ask me about my plans for Thanksgiving.