Monday, December 22, 2008

Willoughby Sharp, R.I.P.

Long live Willoughby Sharp.

To be filled with longing one cannot bear...

In Virginia Heffernan's recent New York Times Magazine article entitled "Pop Couture" she wrote: "A friend of mine won’t look at Garance Doré because he says it fills him with longing he can’t bear. I feel nearly the same way, though I don’t stay away; I’m pleasurably overwhelmed." Me too. But Ms. Heffernan's friend is on to something. Isn't this the lure of just about anything beautiful? Maybe this is how one recognizes beauty. When something strikes one's fancy, one is filled with longing one cannot bear. OK, so it's a little Proustian, but I follow that persuasion, too... It could be a face or a mannerism, a jewel or a pile of laundry, a painting, an object of design, any glimmering, glinting, sorrowful or exuberant something... Whatever it is, it's hard to describe in words, but one knows it when one sees it, as one is filled with that tell-tale longing. I love street fashion blogs because the beauty in question is that of people going about their lives, and some of them are in hot pursuit of beauty, in seething defiance of the great mediocrity, while others are just coincidentally, insanely, helplessly beautiful... I'm glad that Ms. Heffernan included Garance Doré. When Lisa called my attention to this one, I was so pleased to have an addition to my daily check in to The Sartorialist. Candace just sent me this link as well. Those Finnish love their Dr. Martens... Yes!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Jerusalem Olive Oil Hanukkah Cake

Tonight begins the Hanukkah celebration. The olive oil in this cake symbolizes the sustenance of oil that brought light to the winter nights for the rededication of the temple in the Hanukkah story. I found this recipe through Lynne Rossetto Kasper, but it was written by Sara Perry. I have adapted it slightly, as I found the original recipe too sweet. Increase the sugar to 1 C if you have a serious sweet tooth. Pasolivo makes an incredible tangerine olive oil that adds even more citrus flavor to the cake with only a T or so substituted with the rest of the olive oil.

1 1/4 C all-purpose flour
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
2 eggs, at room temperature
3/4 C granulated sugar
1/2 C fruity extra virgin olive oil
3/4 C milk
1 1/2 T orange zest
1/4 C sliced and toasted almonds
A little bit of orange marmalade and powdered sugar

Preheat the over to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 9-inch round baking pan, line it with a round of parchment, and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk the first four ingredients and set aside. In another medium bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until they are thoroughly blended, then add the milk, olive, oil, and orange zest and whisk to combine. Pour this mixture into the dry ingredients and whisk to a smooth batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake about 30 minutes. I always check the cake at 25 minutes, as the edges can brown very quickly at the end of cooking. The cake is done when a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center. Let the cake cool in the pan on a rack for 20 minutes or so, and then turn it out onto a serving dish. Brush some orange marmalade over the top and around the edges. Sprinkle the almonds on top, then sift a little bit of powdered sugar over the cake and serve.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Getting to "I Don't Care"

I had this idea last night that, in order to get anything done in any way that is really one's own, one must get to "I Don't Care". Not giving a damn is a requisite for making something that will truly reflect the will of the author, to adequately and accurately articulate an idea in one's own voice. As individuals in the social body, though, we are taught to care about others' perceptions of us and our actions. Our educations instill voices in our heads that can block us from acting upon what is in our hearts. It takes work to get all of those voices out of the room, for sure. But then there is another step, which is getting to the point of genuinely not giving a throw. If this is true, then it would help to explain why so many people work well under pressure: There is no time to care, no time to wonder from every perspective, time only to finely concentrate the mind on the task at hand.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Idle dreaming is often the essence of what we do...

Thomas Pynchon's essay entitled Nearer, My Couch, to Thee is a meditation on Sloth, one of the seven deadly sins. I link to it here with an observation about myself upon which I will refrain from commenting for the moment: I used to work harder. I used to fill every possible moment with work. Always reading books, writing letters, adding to or crossing out items from lists (and, of course, occupying myself with tasks outlined in said lists), making artworks, writing songs... So, maybe it's not that I worked harder, but I worked more. Always doing something of substance, or so I thought. Or so I thought. And now I wonder. Have I succumbed to sloth?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Writer's block...

I don't know. I seem to have lost steam with this blog thing. So quickly, too. Actually, I have five posts that are all in various states of completion. Can't seem to finish them. I seem to be over-thinking everything (read: avoiding completing anything). It's hard to complete posts when I know that I have another project that requires more immediate attention. Funny, though: In the past 24 hours, as I stew in the alternating states of exhilaration and anxiety that writing always brings to me, I have received two invitations to write yet more. They are both quite lovely and flattering invitations, which I will accept. Therefore, the feat is thus: Remain focused on the work for the first deadline. One invitation came in just minutes ago, and I all but went for it immediately. Instead, I turned in this direction to confess: I just love how I am all of a sudden jazzed to make holiday greetings for everyone I know, to write a proposal that could be written by one of my collaborators rather than me, to sew the curtains that have been lying around for three months, to watch a million episodes of Gossip Girl... Anything to postpone the inevitable. Anything in the name of procrastination. The art of procrastination is such a finely honed discipline. The thing is, I take such pleasure in its torture, so much so that I have convinced myself that it is essential to the process of writing and is, therefore and actually, writing itself.

Monday, December 8, 2008

George Brecht. R.I.P.

The Süddeutsche Zeitung’s Catrin Lorch reports that George Brecht, an early member of the Fluxus movement, died Friday, December 5, in a nursing home in Cologne. Brecht was born George MacDiarmid in New York in 1926; in 1945, while stationed in the Black Forest, he gave himself the nom de guerre of George Brecht. From 1958–59, Brecht participated in John Cage’s seminar in experimental composition at the New School for Social Research; there, and in the years that followed, Brecht befriended many of the artists with whom he would collaborate in the future, articulating the precepts for the Events that would come to define much of the style of the Fluxus movement. In late 2005, the Museum Ludwig in Cologne organized a retrospective of Brecht’s work, and in 2006, the artist was awarded the Berliner Kunstpreis. Brecht lived in Cologne from 1972 until his death.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

What is a blog?

Well, I jumped into this feet first, figuring I would learn as I go. I learned a little more the other day when I had the chance to talk about it a little with JC and PC. JC is the first person who ever said the word "blog" to me. I had to ask her what it was. Then later, when PC started coming to Los Angeles to be with JC and finally moved here, I got to know him a little more quickly by following his blog. I keep tabs on JS in Chicago through her blog, though she hasn't posted much lately. The blogs I read most by people I don't know are The Sartorialist and Bitten. I also look at Modern Art Notes pretty often. For quite a while, I looked Theresa Duncan's blog Wit of the Staircase every day. (It was really hard for me to go there right now in order to copy the URL into this post. I didn't know her very well, but it's still hard to accept her death.) All of these blogs are really different. I've been trying to figure out what a blog really is, and the variety doesn't make it easy to answer this question. Some people are really specific about a theme or topic, some use blogs as daily diaries or logs, some use them as a way to disseminate their work, ideas, and projects, some to advance their knowledge. Some blogs are personal, some academic, journalistic, etc. Some are abstract and some straightforward. I think reading TD's blog is the first time I thought I might like to have one of my own. It was filled with mystery and humor and cool stuff, just like her. In the end, I think that's the thing: Blogs can be self-portraits of their writers that evolve over time. I like that LM and I started our blogs around the same time, since we talk over things like this quite often. I will continue to think through the ways in which I may approach using a blog and just keep posting stuff and changing things around until I think it looks like me...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The etiquette of conversation

  • It is necessary to listen to others if one wants to have attention in return.
  • Above all things and upon all occasions, avoid speaking of oneself.
  • Being over confident and peremptory does very much unfit men for conversation.
  • Avoid too excessive pedantic or technical speech (like direct interrogation, the use of imperatives and short answers such as ‘Yes’ and above all ‘No’).
  • Adapt your conversation to the people with whom you are conversing.
  • Honorable people must never use a low word in their speech.
  • Subjects to avoid for men: hunting, hawking, and the War of the Netherlands; for women: fashionable clothes and housewifery. In general, avoid talking about one’s children, telling one’s dreams, or boasting of one’s nobility or riches.
  • It is a great fault to be too fond of keeping silent.
  • Don’t talk when you eat, it makes people think you are not enjoying the food.
  • No one speaks to the king during his public meals unless he addresses him first.
  • And of course: Whereof one cannot speak, thereof must one be silent.
P.S. I don't know where I got this list, so if anyone reads this and knows where it comes from, please let me know.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Cipollini onions with greens and pasta

Add a whole sliced cipollini onion to a skillet with some warm olive oil and let it all sit at low heat, stirring now and then, until they get tender. Add some salt and a little pepper and let it sit and cook. When I caramelize onions, I try to do something else at the same time, otherwise I am constantly lording over them. As they say, a watched onion never caramelizes. Anyway, once they get brown and sweet, add whatever greens are around (I used beet greens and spinach this evening). Keep the proportion so that the onions outweigh the greens. Add a little broth to help deglaze the pan and steam the greens. Boil up some whole wheat pasta until just tender. Keep a little of the water on reserve before you drain it so you have a little starchy moisture in case the dish is dry. Toss the drained pasta in with the onion and greens, and add a little of the pasta water, if needed. I ate it just like that with some roasted delicata squash, but it would be really good with toasted pine nuts added to the top as well.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Proposition 8 as a question of the separation of church and state

The Courage Campaign is asking for feedback from its followers. They want to know where to go next. I posted this comment to them this morning:

"Enforce the separation of church and state. Make this an issue about marriage having two components as seen one way through religious rites and one way through the eyes of the state. Encourage marriage between all people as civil unions first and foremost, making every marriage performed as a legal rite in the eyes of the state. Should couples like to engage in a religious rite as a part of their marriage then they will do so at will. Separating church and state in marriage rites should make a ban on any group's right to marry impossible to uphold."

My contention is that, not only does legislation like Proposition 8 discriminate, it is also a transgression of the boundary between church and state. These are primary tenets of the foundation of this country, and they are also humane and ethical perspectives.

No matter what our orientation with regard to the opposite sex, it is necessary for us all to recognize that banning any group of people from marrying one another is a massive affront to civil rights and is an undeniable act of discrimination. This legislation must also be recognized as precedent for future potential state and federal amendments to the constitutions which would gradually erode what we currently understand as inalienable rights.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Jill Spector and Corrina Peipon: Project 02

Our design for the Thanksgiving table is influenced by the colors, light, and bounty of autumn and the particularity of autumn in southern California, suggested through a cornucopia basket form, plaid fabric, and autumn colors. The tablecloth is neutral muslin (like a blank canvas or preliminary dress pattern), and the napkins are made from a fabric that incorporates turquoise, red, purple, teal, black, etc., in an imprecise stripe. The centerpiece is made from plaid fabrics using turquoise, red, black, yellow, etc., including a single strand of gold Lurex. Rather than using traditional Scottish plaids associated with fall and winter, we decided to use the association of plaid with this time of year but in colors that hearken back (or forward... ) to summer and reflect the warmth and glow of autumn in Southern California. The plaid fabric forms stand in for traditional cornucopia basketry, wrapping seasonal foliage, fruit, and wheat in a form that is more amorphous, drawing the elements of the table together. Fig leaves, eucalyptus, lemons, oranges, orchid tree blooms, holly berries, etc. are foraged for the centerpiece, and dried wheat is added to symbolize thanks for our food and as a sign of hope for the next good harvest. One or two smaller ornaments made from a large black and white polka-dot fabric in combination with the multi-color stripe from the napkins and the flora from the centerpiece are arranged on the mantle and bar. To wish for light and luck throughout the season, candles are set out with each arrangement, using plain votives in aluminum cans with decorative punctures.

P.S. I added the picture above today (November 19). It was taken at Thanksgiving in 1972 in Philadelphia. On the left is my uncle, Garry Prowe. He is being embraced by my grandmother, Amelia Olga Prowe. My grandfather, Joseph Prowe, is serving something or adding the feast to his plate, and my mother, Barbara Prowe, is grinning at the camera. She still has that fruit basket on her counter, which is now in Portland, Oregon. There are many striking things to me about this image, but one of my favorite things is the green wine bottle with shafts of dried wheat in the foreground. I was born on August 27, 1973, so maybe my mother was already pregnant with me when this image was taken.

Monday, November 17, 2008

WAR IS OVER (If you want it.)

The New York Times, dated July 4, 2009.

The broadside was handed out for free in New York City and around the country. The web site mimics, and the many comments on the stories variously reveal readers' anxieties, exuberance, confusion, despair, and on and on...

From the section "Fine Print":

"The dozens of volunteer citizens who produced this paper spent the last eight years dreaming of a better world for themselves, their friends, and any descendants they might end up having. Today, that better world, though still very far away, is finally possible — but only if millions of us demand it, and finally force our government to do its job."

P.S. I found out today (November 18) that there were many groups who collaborated on this project and that it was led in part by The Yes Men.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

To educate for initiative and courage

This interview is incredible. Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn are deeply articulate and endlessly committed to living lives that exemplify the change they want to see in the world. They describe a kind of everyday resistance I admire. In listening to this, I realized that there are many ways in which I have not yet entirely embodied my ideals and need an occasional reminder that silence and inaction are affirmation and complicity to that which is ethically objectionable and inhumane. We each must invent our own ways to contribute to the human endeavor to love and progress as a people lest the corporate-political, military-industrial project of fear and greed infiltrate our lives completely. Below is an excerpt in which Ayers describes his view on the necessity of education for an enlightened society.

..."So, the question is, who gets to set the agenda? ...[W]hat makes education in a democracy distinct? And I would argue that what makes education in a democracy distinct is that we don’t educate for obedience and conformity; we educate for initiative and courage. We educate for imagination and hope and possibility. And we recognize that the full development of each person requires the full development of all people. Or another way of saying it is, the full development of all is the condition whereby we can educate each. And that shifting of the frame is so important. And frankly, I’m hopeful that in this period of rising expectations, of rethinking so much, that this is where we can go."

Saturday, November 15, 2008

East to West and West to East...

Bennett Simpson talks with Dorit Cypis, Julio Cesar Morales, and Martin Kersels at MOCA Grand Avenue, 3-5pm

West Hollywood:
Sarah Thorton book signing (Seven Days in the Art World) at Art Catalogues at MOCA PDC, 4-6pm

Culver City:
Ruben Ortiz-Torres and Julio Cesar Morales at LAXART, talk at 6pm and reception 7-9pm

A Machine Project Field Guide to LACMA, noon to 10pm
Anne Collier and Mateo Tannatt at Marc Foxx, 6-8pm
Kirsten Everberg and 1301PE, 6-8pm
Davis Rhodes at ACME, 6-8pm

Kiersten Puusemp at The Box, 6-9pm
Davis Rhodes at Sister, 6-9pm
Krysten Cunningham at Cottage Home, 6-9pm