11.18.2010

Primates

Primates. Ruben Brulat.
(thanks to Camera Obscura.)

11.02.2010

War Dead



Canadian designer Kamel Makhloufi’s pair of stark graphs effectively visualize the human toll of the Iraq war.
Each pixel represents a death: U.S. soldiers = blue, Iraqi troops = green, enemies = grey, and civilians = orange.  First image is function of sum, second image is function of time

(thanks to Data Pointed )

10.12.2010

Albanian Vendetta

Shkodra.  Guillaume Herbaut
 I can think of no greater nightmare than an inescapable spiral of revenge. Vendettas that never end, that continue on across borders, oceans, generations. Guillaume Herbaut's bleak photo essays of families in hiding in the Albanian town of Shkodra are haunting. People trapped in their homes, waiting to die. Is that not hell?

10,000 people are affected by vendettas in the North of Albania, living shut away for fear of reprisals from the opposing family. 1000 children do not leave home and no longer attend school. 2000 women have lost their husbands in the settling of scores. The fall of the communist dictatorship in 1991 led to the reappearance of earlier practices. The Kanun, a civil code drafted by Lek Dukadjini, a lord of the North in the 15th century, has extended its influence in a time when the voices of the police and the judiciary are inaudible. The Kanun strictly codifies revenge. If one of its members is killed, a family must take revenge. – Bruno Masi



These photos were taken in 2006. 





"One of us is going to die."
Hysni Ymeri has lived shut away with his son Alban for the last three years

9.30.2010

Babu, Varanasi, 2000.

Babu, Varanasi, 2000.
I met Babu one day as I was wandering down the ghats in Varanasi, and he was selling postcards to tourists. He asked if I wanted to buy some; I said, no, thank you, and that was that. But then he kept walking with me—not trying to sell me anything, just strolling along. Then he stopped, grabbed my arm and said, pointing to his eyes and then the sky, “look—moon!” I look up and, sure enough, there was the moon, in an unremarkable phase but nonetheless there, up in the blue afternoon sky. I turned and looked at this kid: here in a place of such extreme sensory cacophony; a wall of sounds, smells and sights, this kid looks up and marvels at the moon.

“What’s your name?” I asked him. “Babu,” he told me. I told him mine, and said, “Come, let’s sit down.” So there we sat, on a bench on a dais on the banks of the Ganges, just chatting. His family lived down the way, he was about seven, he had a little sister, he went to school. I told him about myself a bit, finding I was more at ease with this kid than pretty much anyone I had yet to talk to on my trip. The conversation came to its natural end, and we said goodbye. I thought what a neat kid, what a neat moment, and went about my afternoon  wander. Not really looking too far back.

The next day, and over the next few days, he was there again, playing with some friends on the ghat not too far from where I was staying with my friend. I found that I was truly happy to see him as “Hey! Babu!” shouted from my mouth. He came over, said hey, asked what I was up to, and then went back to his friends.

One night there was a music festival at the main ghat, and my girlfriend and I were sitting there, getting situated, and there came Babu with his friends, all of them, boys and girls, around the same age, seven or eight, shoeless, clothes filthy and threadbare, playing games around, over, between and basically on top of me and my friend. It was pretty silly, and I remember that whole evening as a wonderfully happy one, with incredible music in the air, candles and marigolds floating down the river, and these kids playing all around us.

We were set on leaving Varanasi soon; we had been there for almost ten days and still had a lot of miles ahead of us. This kid had gotten under my skin. As pathetic as it may sound, I found that this seven-year-old kid made me feel relaxed and happy. Since I said no to the first postcard, he never once tried to sell me anything or persuade me to go to a certain vendor or any other scheme. He seemed to have no agenda beyond hanging out. I hadn’t appreciated how guarded I had become over my time traveling, the 5’8” blond part of a two-woman unit traveling the subcontinent. Even after we got whisked away for two days by a rogue taxi driver the second we got off the plane in Delhi, I never got used to what easy mark we were.

Before we left, I wanted to do something for Babu. He was obviously very poor. I wanted to buy him some new clothes, take him to eat until he was stuffed, buy his books for school, do something. My girlfriend counseled that he already had a family; it wasn’t my place. True. Who was I to assume? But I had so much comparatively and he had so little—and he had given me so much. I wound up asking if I could take his picture—and for that I gave him a 20-rupee note, which was the largest bill I had on me.

I still look back and feel conflicted. My time and conversations with Babu are some of the strongest, and fondest, memories of my time in South Asia, and have stayed with me in a more meaningful way than the inevitable anecdotes born from two months on the road. Sometimes I wish I had drowned out the mental politics around the rich white westerner and the relativism and the propriety and myopic presumption therein and taken the kid to lunch and said thank you for being my buddy. If I could do it again, I think I would do just that. And buy up every last post card he had.

 Dasaswamedh Ghat

9.20.2010

Annapurna foothills, 2001

Annapurna foothills, 2001

Because I need something pretty today.
Sunshine, Himalayas, and marigolds.

9.15.2010

To document or to intervene?

A vulture watches a starving child in southern Sudan, March 1, 1993.  Kevin Carter/CORBIS/Sygma

It may be difficult for people to understand, but as a photojournalist, my first instinct was to make the photograph. As soon as that job was done and the child moved on, I felt completely devastated. I think I tried to pray; I tried to talk to God to assure Him that if He got me out of this place I would change my life.   -- Kevin Carter  (1960-1994)



9.10.2010

New York City. September 11, 2001. Liberty Plaza.

USA. New York City. September 11, 2001. Liberty Plaza. © Susan Meiselas/Magnum Photos

9.07.2010

Virgin of Vladimir

Natasha with dowry, daffodils

Although I think Animal was taking the piss with their Internet Slavs: A Profile Pic Extravaganza, there was something about the above picture that I thought was really beautiful. The girl is staged amid her stuff, framed by flowers at her foot and aura of the TV screen behind her. Wearing the Madonna's red veil and blank stare, she looks like an icon, but with no child. A virgin with empty arms. Reaching I know, but it stood out to me--a profile pic for the Virgin of Vladimir.  Okay, enough digression...


9.03.2010

Martian Beauty


Dunes in Mars's Polar Erg
NASA has just release hundreds of close-up photos of the surface of Mars, using its HiRISE camera. The camera shot images of nearly every known terrain on the planet, and they are incredible. Man has forever tried to attain the perfection of nature, yet always falls short; a Form and its shadows. Not sure if I have my Plato right, but nature is absolute beauty, absolute perfection. Mars was Venus's lover, no? Sure looks like it.

Hellas Basin Flow
Dunes
Viscous Flows
Polar Conformity

Source: Wired Science




8.31.2010

Reinaldo Loureiro, Hothouse



Once a deserted land and traditionally an impoverished territory, today the Almeria, Dalías and Níjar fields represent the largest concentration of plastic greenhouses in the world. This photo essay documents how the mass-production of vegetables for northern European markets has dramatically shaped the landscape of the region. Southeast Spain is still one of the main arrival points of migrants from Africa into the European Union and more than 20,000 undocumented workers are systematically employed in this labour-intensive industry. Many have to endure extreme living and working conditions; most have set sail across a murderous sea only to become trapped in the red tape of immigration rules in this imposing maze of white plastic.
London, 2009

8.27.2010

8.26.2010

Come late August, we all have a little Sonny in us


Dog Day Afternoon, the freaking brilliant film by Sidney Lumet, captures the stress of the city bar none, and how the incessant unrelenting heat can make a man, or woman, snap. Just like that. Go under. Stop fighting it and pick up the gun.

August has always kinda sucked in the city. The frolics of June and July and the outdoor concerts and events and parties have petered out, every shrink is out of town, and each day ends covered in grime. The clock clicks off each minute towards summer's end like fat drips from a leaky faucet. Anyone who loves New York City in August must have the means to escape it. A HoJo in Algeria? Yes please.

8.23.2010

Capitalist Tool: Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider

1959 Giulietta Spider


I've wanted one of these for about as long as I can remember (save for the brief moment in fourth grade when I wanted a purple metal-flake VW). Only produced 1954-1965. Is that not the most beautiful nose? 

8.05.2010

Dream House

Dream Home 2009  $70,000 worth of discarded lottery tickets, cardboard, foam, wood, and steel

Ghost of a Dream has created clever and quite lovely objects from discarded lottery tickets--truly ghosts of a dream. Especially effective to me is that each item depicted is created from the roughly the same amount of lottery tickets as the dollar cost of the item itself. So many people with a dollar and a dream...



clock from Dream Home
detail of the sideboard and mirror from Dream Home




7.27.2010

Loretta Lux

The Drummer
I love Loretta Lux's photographs. That the subjects are children is especially ironic because their faces are so devoid of glee yet their context is clinically bright and antiseptically clean. The tones and proportions are John Currinish yet the vibe is decidedly A Boy and His Dog downunder. Technicolor zombies in a sterilized screen.

The kids are not all right. And that is all right by me.

The Rose Garden
Isabella

The Waiting Girl






7.23.2010

Heat


It’s hot. So hot. Each day feels like a challenge—physical, mental, emotional. I collapse at home as if I have just lived through something, only to prepare for the weird a/c sleep of the night. It feels infernal. A taste of hell. The heat steals my brain, my thoughts, my drive. A heat-induced lobotomy. Catatonia. No end in sight. Torturous, never-ending 90*-plus days hit hit hit us, making us lose it, one by one. Murder rates are up. So are ice cream sales. Tar beach is on fire. Hot town, summer in the city.



7.21.2010

Ed Ruscha (b. 1937)
REVIEW IT LOOK IT OVER AND WHAT EVER

7.02.2010

210 Shoreview Drive

 The front porch, in the back of the house

My mom sent me the link from the realtor: my grandparent’s house is for sale. I didn’t spend a lot of time there, and it has changed hands a few times since my grandparents died, yet I have so many memories. Most of my memories are the odd fleeting ones of childhood, but they are so clear. My memories of how huge the bathtub was, and that the bathroom wallpaper had little pictures of Italian villages on it. Of the linen closet that had a door in the hallway and the bathroom, so you always had access to a fresh towel (I thought that was the neatest thing!). Of my grandfather playing solitaire at the kitchen table (actually a picnic table, painted black and covered with a gingham check table cloth) underneath a huge skylight that gave the room a muted yet bright light. The TV room—that my aunt Laura drove the car through once—that always smelled damp yet had the most interesting stuff to snoop through. Of the huge holly bush outside the front door, which was actually in the back of the house, and the massive rosemary bush outside the back door, which was in the front of the house, and the smell of sweet peas from the side garden. Of following the path in down the hill in the front of the house and finding the bench where I sat with my great-grandmother, or maybe I am just remembering the picture of sitting with her. Of those funny little ashtrays shaped like peasants, and when you turned them over, you saw their bums. Of how my grandmother saved every shred of wrapping paper and greeting card and crammed them into the cabinet midway up the stairs, to be repurposed for another occasion. The wonderful upstairs room, with the great light and breeze and rugs from China (made in Cal’s yellow and blue).



When I visited, there was always so much to explore, to look through, ask about, from their travels, their lives. I can only imagine the memories of my mom and aunts and uncles. When the house was first put up for sale, years ago, I wanted to buy it so badly, I wanted to preserve everything as I remembered it. But I guess, I have, in a way, every time I remember my grandmother on her bed shouting at the tennis match on the TV or see the Checker Marathon parked in the carport.







The interiors seemed to have been changed, as with some of the grounds, but it is as I remember it. And I suppose, if I shut my eyes, it always will be.






6.23.2010

Retratos Pintados




The Yossi Milo Gallery in Chelsea is showing Retratos Pintados, a fabulous collection of hand-painted photo images from rural Brazil. These portraits remind me of icons, with these faces of total sincerity and purity unfazed by the vulgarity that surrounds them. And they have the best of both world, the truth of photography and the fantasy of art.




(from the Yossi Milo press release) ...

Since the late 19th century through the 1990s, hand-painted photographic portraits were a common feature in homes in the rural areas of the northeastern Brazilian states. At a time when black-and-white photographs were not considered dramatic enough, the retratos pintados (“painted portraits”) glamorized and idealized their subjects. Black-and-white family photos were enlarged and painted, conferring status on members of the family and portraying them as icons or saints. Using oil washes and other techniques specific to the region, local artisans embellished clothing with pattern and color, smoothed wrinkles, added jewelry or resurrected deceased relatives, illustrating the fantasies and desires of their customers.


Due to advances in technology over the past 25 years, hand-painted photographs have become a rarity in the region, and the tradition of analogue portrait-making is being lost. Most portraits are now computer-generated, eliminating the charm and distinctiveness of each artist’s individual style. The exhibition will include approximately 150 unique, vintage painted portraits ranging in size from 8” x 10” to 16” x 20”. The photographs were selected from those collected by Titus Riedl, a European who has lived in the region for 15 years. Fit into simple frames and hung together in clusters, the exhibition reflects the way family photos might be displayed in the home.











(Thanks to Milky Blacks)


6.21.2010

Attack of the Mom Purse!


This morning, as I approached my office door, I began rifling around my purse for my keys. As I dug, going totally by feel as I kept my eyes ahead of me, I poked myself with a water gun, got stuck in a baggie of water balloons, mushed against a open box of Goobers, crumpled up a paper airplane, drew blood off the six rusty bottle caps (for the collection), and unwittingly opened a bag of totally crushed Shredded Wheat squares. I finally found my keys in the farthest corner, almost cowering, along with my wallet, cell phone and lipstick (a little rough for the wear, having been recently usurped for war paint), the sole vestiges of a purse that was once mine.

I have fallen victim of the Mom Purse. I am loathe to feel encumbered by extra bags and packs and gear, so I cram everything—everything—into my purse. The day I arrived at work with Eliot’s wet swimming trunks and a bottle of sunscreen still in my bag, I vowed to downsize, hoping that it would curb my cramming. Which it has. It has not, however, proven the least helpful in finding my keys. What are some of the craziest things you have had in your Mom Purse? Do I dare ask what lurks there now?

6.18.2010

Capitalist Tool: Vosges Barcelona Exotic Candy Bar




It was a perfect summer late afternoon. Sitting on the stoop with a girlfriend watching our kids play; drinking wine from juice glasses, eating chocolate. Is there any more sensual taste explosion than dark chocolate and big fat red wine? Letting the two come together and make magnificent magic in your mouth. I think I found the perfect red wine chocolate: the Vosges Barcelona bar. omg. smoked almonds, Fleur de Sel sea salt, and chocolate. That and a big late-pick Zin? Mmm.

6.14.2010

Los Tigres del Norte Me Hacen Feliz!


Norteño music reminds me of home. Of music blaring from car windows and cowboy hats and big belt buckles. Of being a kid and driving down through Baja with my mom, buying food and shoes and tamales from the old man and his big pot on the sidewalk. Of jicama and lime and panaderias and the little girls selling “chiclets chiclets chiclets” at the border.

My mom and I would go down to Tijuana often, and down to Rosarita Beach and Ensenada. All just a few hours drive from my home (Tijuana a mere 20 minutes). I remember grocery shopping at the Calmex and hiding our loot under blankets while my mom flirted with the border patrol, distracting him as we crossed the border. I remember the glass jar of bread sticks at Jorge’s, the fresh churros being cranked out and sizzling in the hot oil, and the Basque restaurant near the jai alai courts (Caliente! the radio spots promised).

The Rosarita Beach Hotel was often our destination—a grand old beachfront hotel with tall ceilings and cool tile. There was a kiddie pool in the middle of the outdoor restaurant, which now, as a parent, I can appreciate the lure of. We would rent these poor horses that had wooden saddles and ride down the beach.

The other night, I was flipping through the channels and came across a nortena music video countdown. I was hooked. Los Tigres del Norte are los hefes. A Czech polka? meh. But give me a Mexican polka and I am smiling and happy and dancing. Suppose context is everything.

I haven’t been back to Baja in decades, and these are all memories from my childhood. Today, I wouldn’t set foot in Tijuana let alone anywhere farther south. Too bloody and wrought with narcoterror. It makes me sad that I won’t be able to share those places with my family, those spots that glow for me with happy memories. But I suppose that is true with most of our childhood memories, that they really live inside of us. Isn’t that what growing up is? The realization that the magic is gone and glow has faded? That what was once enchanted no longer sparks? Still, what I wouldn't give for cold horchata and a warm bolillo with salty butter. And a swim in that kiddie pool.

6.08.2010

The Ice Man Cometh





Summer to me is icies. Italian icies from the push cart with the little bell and the dixie cups. Not the fancy all natural green tea and goji berry but the sticky bright striped ones oozing with sugar. A white tart lemon or a red white and blue rainbow, dripping down your hand as you slurp it from the cup, the cup that you fold all up to suck out all the icy juice, the red juice that is all over your face, your shirt, your hands. Oh yeah. Summertime.

6.03.2010

My Life in Libraries



Last night I learned that our local library has had to cut its hours, again. Such are the times, people might think; belts are tightening everywhere. It made me feel desperate, and profoundly sad. Libraries have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.

That I feel centered and at home in a library stems from my childhood in San Diego Public Library System, specifically the Central Library, downtown. The Central Library was a big, beige four-story city block of a public-service building. To this day I remember the layout of each floor: the newspapers, reference desk, rare book room, microfiche. The second floor public restrooms were always a dicey venture, as they served as the primary toilette to the area homeless, and this was the 1970s. But it is from this library that my familiarity with, and comfort from, libraries grew, from the the dark green binding tape to the solidly built, beige laminate tables and the slight grooves in the flecked marble stairs. It was a monument to order and protocol, and I loved it.

Although I have years’ worth of memories in this building, the room that plays the biggest part is the Children’s Room. As my mother worked downtown, I logged a lot of hours in the Children’s Room, killing time until she was done. It was a huge room, and I was usually the only one there. There were a lot of activity stations—record players and headsets, a puppet show area, a story time mat—although none of them ever in service when I was there, save for the record players, where I listened to many recorded stories. I also got flashed  a few times in there, most memorably by some fellow who dropped his pants and started dancing in the aisle where I was reading. And some other fellow shook his fist at me from the doorway. He was big.

The Pacific Beach branch, the local near my house, was connected to the junior high school and surrounded by giant, ant-infested Hibiscus plants. By lending me Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, the PB branch is responsible for my future aloofness and fascination with fey English gentry. Much like exposure to violence at young age can have a negative affect on a youth, exposure to too much 1930’s British literature ruined me for this world. The reading of Waugh and Forester, as well as my mother’s devotion to Noel Coward and fans of Judy Holiday musicals made me realize that I was actually Sebastian Flyte reincarnated into the unfortunate body of a 14-year-old girl with braces and a bad haircut. My true destiny was to wear white linen, nurse a small drinking problem, and study at Magdalen. And I blame the PB Library for this life of frustrated identity.

Another pivotal library for me growing up was the main library at the University of California San Diego (UCSD). I don’t quite know why, but I would drive the half-hour it took me to get there to study for the smallest thing. It was like the huge mound of dirt in Close Encounters (it kind of looked like that too). In hindsight I realize that the trance that fell over me when I studied there was due to the white noise of what must have been a monstrous air conditioning unit. There were also a lot of college boys at that library, and I found that awfully interesting as well.

College. What better place for a girl to get her library on than in college? I went to Columbia University in New York City, and it has a lot of libraries and reading rooms and nooks and stacks and carrels. I studied, a lot, and became expert at finding the perfect place for my mood: serious studying? the balcony in Butler Library’s reference room. People watching? The Butler main reading room. Cute architecture students? Art History library. Needed a nap? The nook behind the periodical room. Need a cry? Deep in the bowels of the stacks. Plus, I was doing research for the Columbia Encyclopedia at the time, and my queries took me to parts of libraries my studies normally wouldn’t.  In fact, I met my college boyfriend over the Catholic Encyclopedia. Literally. I think we were both reaching for the volume with St. Bernard of Clairvaux.

My favorite Columbia library though was the C.V. Starr East Asian library. It was always freezing, which made me focus, and the vibe was always very serious. Lots of polished wood, stained glass, green glass lamp shades. Starr library had no pretense; it was as if it knew you had come to college to study, and had been waiting patiently for you to realize that as well. It was a grown-up library that made you respect that you were, in fact, a grown up too.

After college, I continued with the Columbia Encyclopedia, but had difficulty synching with the public library system in New York. As is the case with many things, the New York libraries were tougher and less embracing than the California libraries, and certainly more so than those of a cloistered private university. This could have been a projection, though, of my general feelings of being a new citizen of the city with no one but me watching my back.  In no time, though, I found my stride, moved to Brooklyn, and carried on into the glamorous, jet-set world of reference book publishing. It is a cliché, I realize, that every young girl dreams of working in dictionaries; she giggles with her friends and fantasizes about what she could do with that etymology if they’d just give her a chance! Well, Reader, I was no different. All those years in libraries made me miss the smell of old bindings and the skitter of silverfish.  Poor man’s grad school, reference book publishing.  But back to libraries.

In the late 1990s, I found myself in England; Oxford, to be exact. There is probably no other place in the world as exciting for a library-loving medievalist with British public school homosexual ideation issues. I vowed to visit the library and chapel of every college I could manage to get in to, and I pretty much did. I even snuck into some random building at Magdalen College to see what it might have felt like to be a student there, perhaps bumping into the ghost of Wilde and Bosie in the hallway. Despite my considerable cunning, I couldn't penetrate the Bodleian, but I did pick up a nifty poster in the gift shop. 

It was the Merton College library (right) that completely transfixed me. It has been a functioning library since 1373! (The Hundred Years' War! The Black Prince!) I asked the porter if I could take a look at the library and he unlocked it for me and I got to wander around by all by myself, surrounded by centuries worth of manuscripts and Latin and study nooks. I still remember the strong smell of wood. Nerd heaven.

Today, libraries still play a vital part in my life, through my son. Our local library—the Windsor Terrace branch—is the beating heart in the neighborhood. Not only are there books, of course, but classes, games, tutoring, a RIF program.  It is a community center, a place for kids to come after school and feel safe, and feel safe around books, and find safety in books. For my son, it is a place of joy and of wonder that will always be there for him, I hope, in the way that libraries have always been there for me. If I had all the money in the world, I would pour it into libraries and to make sure their doors would remain always open. That would be my small part in saving the world.

5.28.2010

Oof, 1963
oil on canvas
72 1/2 H x 67 W (inches)

5.25.2010

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

S’io credesse che mia risposta fosse
A persona che mai tornasse al mondo,
Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse.
Ma perciocche giammai di questo fondo
Non torno vivo alcun, s’i’odo il vero,
Senza tema d’infamia ti rispondo.

LET us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherised upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question …
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes; 
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate; 
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—
[They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”]
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—
[They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”]
Do I dare 
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all:—
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons, 5
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all— 
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways? 
And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all—
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
[But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!]
It is perfume from a dress 
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
And should I then presume?
And how should I begin?
. . . . .
Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets 
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows?…

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.
. . . . .
And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully! 
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep … tired … or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis? 
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head [grown slightly bald] brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker, 
And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while, 
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
Should say: “That is not what I meant at all.
That is not it, at all.”

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen: 
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
“That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all.”
. . . . . 
No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

T.S. Eliot (1888–1965).  Prufrock and Other Observations.  1917.

5.21.2010

5.14.2010

Fred Stonehouse



Fred Stonehouse’s paintings are the perfect combination of medieval marginalia, flaming milagros, deep swamp voodoo and high art brut, equally at home on 13th century vellum or the hood of a '64 Impala. He sticks to acrylic on panel. Viewing his work is like wandering the inferno in a fever dream, led by a carny clown who just shanked Virgil and kicked him into the ditch.




That back room that your crazy aunt told you never to go into? Yeah, Fred Stonehouse is in there, painting. Best not interrupt him.




I strongly encouage you to check out his other phenomenal work.