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Monday, January 31, 2011

I dug this oil lamp out of an old cellar hole in New Hampshire in 1967!

Mr Chippy knows that the spot next to the kerosine lamp is cozy on a winter morning-

A meditation on time and longing-


If you were coming in the fall,
I'd brush the summer by
With half a smile and half a spurn,
As housewives do a fly.

If I could see you in a year,
I'd wind the months in balls,
And put them each in separate drawers,
Until their time befalls.

If only centuries delayed,
I'd count them on my hand,
Subtracting till my fingers dropped
Into Van Diemen's land.

If certain, when this life was out,
That yours and mine should be,
I'd toss it yonder like a rind,
And taste eternity.

But now, all ignorant of the length
Of time's uncertain wing,
It goads me, like the goblin bee,
That will not state its sting.

-Emily Dickinson-

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Thursday, January 27, 2011

In the mountains of LA, a painter finds stillness with poetry.

The Poetry Foundation


A Primitive Mind

In the mountains of LA, a painter finds stillness with poetry.

by Madeleine Avirov

if I could know in what language to address the spirits that claim a place beneath these low and simple ceilings, tenants that neither speak nor stir yet dwell in mute insistence
till I can feel utterly ghosted in this house.
—From “Toward the Solstice,” by Adrienne Rich

When I wake in the night in fear I regain the knowledge that no child lacks: the world is alive and in dread; it is, as the ancient Greek philosopher Thales claimed, “full of gods.” The time is invariably between three and four in the morning. I sleep fitfully until a little after five, when I get up and walk a four-mile loop, part of which is along the Arroyo Seco, a dry riverbed that begins to the north, in the folds of the San Gabriel Mountains above Los Angeles. I never want to get up, and every morning revisit the same tired argument about why I could—and should—stay in bed, but I do. Anne Carson said that “the poet is someone who feasts at the same table as other people. But at a certain point he feels a lack. He is provoked by a perception of absence within what others regard as a full and satisfactory present.” I am a painter, but this same lack drives me out into the morning dark.

If once I brooded endlessly about received law and rule and their injustice writ large, now my attention to such things is at best pro forma, its larger part given over to discerning the untranslatable, the insupportable rule, whether of what I call my psyche or of nature’s vast spaces. The day’s first rule then is to be out before first light, the darker the better, the better to hear the trees. Not their sound in a wind or of leaves underfoot, but the lowered voice of their slow inclination toward me, out of the dead objective field of our cultural imagination. To hear this requires that I myself become still, that my turbid waters clear. I do this with poetry.

In the pockets of my sweatshirt I carry typed passages, folded into quarters, which, when the light comes up, I pull out and memorize. In the dark, I reach down into the storehouse of memory, equally dark. This morning it was Wallace Stevens’s “The Snow Man,” which begins:

One must have a mind of winter To regard the frost and the boughs Of the pine-trees crusted with snow; And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun.

Earlier this year, over several months’ time, I completed a painting that contained an afternoon in Buckhorn Canyon, a preserve of Jeffrey and sugar pine, incense cedar, alder, and oak at 6,400 feet in the San Gabriels. It was late May; it had snowed and was still snowing, and I held the snow in my ungloved hands and endured the cold as if this could propitiate the gods of my undoing, who in 2005 had shipped me off with my family to Los Angeles from the Midwest. I would come to learn that I was wired for the light and silence of a northern winter, and that, with Czeslaw Milosz, who during his many years in California yearned for his native Poland, “the compass of my dreams always points north.”

To call out winter while I worked in the Los Angeles summer, I called out poems that, when uttered in good faith, concentrate the mind (as drawing does), becoming words with power and, as such, a cord, a laundry line, which I can follow hand over hand to the canyon of memory until Iam Stevens’s snow man, his

listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

This re-visioning, this return, is coextensive with the making of the painting, its hundred orchestrated decisions and movements that unfold consciously and not. The poem, unfolding in time, is its interior soundscape, which enablesme to orchestrate the movements: eyes taking in the palette. Which colors? Ivory black, a little yellow ochre, flake white—don’t over-mix with the palette knife, you’re not making cookies. Which brush? Sable or bristle? Round, flat, filbert, bright? Which size? Straighten spine to ease the ache of standing, pull a #2 flat from the honey jar, look at it, set it gently into the trash—it’s perished at the hands of my rough treatment, having been scrubbed into the canvas to work in the color, only to be eaten by solvent and medium, its bristles broken and dried, flexibility gone, tiny-haired workhorse. Refill the baby-food jar with medium, dip in another brush, replace the cap on the jar to contain toxic solvent. Make a mark on the canvas. Another one. Stop. Step back. Wipe brush with rag, choose a painting knife from the peanut butter jar. Hatch into the wet paint as if you are threshing grain—faster, faster, until your tensile strength equals the pine needles you would render: the brush is too soft to find them. Remember Gary Snyder: “Lifting a brush, a burin, a pen, or a stylus is like releasing a bite or lifting a claw.”

It is that elemental. In line with poetry, which, says the literarycritic Northrop Frye, recreates “something very primitive and archaic in society… . primitive in the sense of expressing a fundamental and persisting link with reality.” And, he continues, “every mind is a primitive mind, whatever the varieties of social conditioning.”


Madeleine Avirov

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Elizabeth Bishop ’34 starts literary career at Vassar By Emma Daniels

Elizabeth Bishop

Elizabeth Bishop, above, attended Vassar as part of the Class of 1934. While at Vassar, she was well-known for her involvement in literary publications.

The Office of Residential Life expects incoming freshmen to bring bedding, toiletries, clothing and other necessities to school. Although different people bring different and unique items to school, a pot of arguably stinky Roquefort cheese is not something that’s normally packed with one’s shoes and towels. The poet Elizabeth Bishop ‘34, did bring a pot of said cheese with her, however. Although it may have only been her hallmates on the third floor of Cushing House that knew about this addition to her luggage, from her first day at Vassar, she showed herself to be a distinct member of her class, and later, a distinguished Vassar poet.

Bishop brought the cheese to college because she claimed that the best way to develop poems was to record her dreams, and eating cheese before bed made her dreams more vivid and interesting. According to her freshman year English professor at Vassar, Barbara Swan, Bishop was “evidently doomed to be a poet.”

By the end of her life, Bishop had published six volumes of poetry and was well known amongst her fellow writers as, according to the acclaimed poet John Ashbery, “a writer’s writer’s writer.” During her lifetime, she was certainly recognized amongst writers and poets for her craft, but it wasn’t until after her death in 1979 that her fame escalated following the publication of The Complete Poems: 1927-1979, The Collected Prose, and One Art, a collection of Bishop’s letters.

Vassar’s Thompson Memorial Library today is the starting point for any scholar wishing to research Bishop; it contains over 3,500 pages of drafts of her poems and prose, correspondence, personal papers, working papers, notebooks, diaries and memorabilia. Ron Patkus, Vassar’s head of Archives & Special Collections, wrote in an e-mailed statement, “Since Vassar acquired them in 1981, the Elizabeth Bishop Papers have become the most heavily-used collection in the Archives & Special Collections Library.”

Bishop was born in 1911 in Worcester, Mass. She attended the small Walnut Hill School in Massachusetts before arriving at Vassar in 1930. Although she knew she enjoyed poetry, she didn’t always see it as her calling. This confusion about what to study reflected her overall lack of direction when she began at Vassar. Her freshman year was quite unhappy; she was overwhelmed by Vassar’s large size (1,150 people at the time). Later, her alcoholism would be traced to her college years.

Although Bishop often may have felt she did not fit in at Vassar, she did fit the Princeton Review’s bill of the typical Vassar student—in the present, at least—as being “unique.” Her behavior was unconventional, to say the least; that fact could be determined simply from the anecdote about her luggage. As well, though, she once slept in a tree, was seen staring at the shadows of a lamp on a wall, and kept a pet duck.

As Bishop’s time at Vassar progressed, her humor was put to good use, and she simultaneously found her place at the institution. Although she remained quite introverted, she became admired amongst her peers as an intellectual.

Her junior year, she joined the editorial staff of The Miscellany News. Although the newspaper centered primarily on political discussion at the time, her specialty was the most read part of the newspaper during the 1930s, “Campus Chat,” the paper’s humor column. That year, she also helped found a literary magazine at Vassar, Con Spirito, when a friend expressed dissatisfaction with the current literary publication: the more conservative Vassar Review.Con Spirito created a sensation on campus and helped Bishop’s reputation to disseminate past Vassar’s gates: to those at Princeton University and to T.S. Eliot, who complimented the magazine when he came to visit the College.

During Bishop’s senior year, she was the editor of the yearbook, and also notably met the poet Marianne Moore, who was introduced to her by a Vassar librarian, and helped her to finally decided to pursue a career in writing. After Vassar, Bishop went on to travel, translate works, win a Pulitzer, and write stories and poems that remain widely visible today.

To celebrate Elizabeth Bishop during Vassar’s sesquicentennial year, Patkus said in an e-mailed statement, “the Library will sponsor a mini-conference Sept. 23-24, titled ‘From the Archive: Discovering Elizabeth Bishop.’ The conference will feature an exhibition composed of books on Bishop by key scholars, as well as the primary sources in our collection that supported their research.”

January 17th was the birthday of Luis López Nieves,

It’s the birthday of Luis López Nieves, (books by this author) born in San Juan, Puerto Rico (1950). He’s been called “the great novelist of Puerto Rico” by a Colombian newspaper and “the first novelist of Puerto Rico” by one of Spain’s papers. A Chilean said that “he has created urban legends that Puerto Ricans assume as historical truths.” His books The True Death of Juan Ponce de León (2000) and Voltaire’s Heart (2005) each won the National Literature Prize, Puerto Rico’s highest literary award.

As a child, he would wait for his mom to tuck him in at night, turn off his bedroom light, and go to bed — and then when he was sure that she was asleep, he would sneak out of bed, turn on the light, and furtively read until 4 or 5 each morning. He wrote his first poem when he was 13, and for the next six months he carried it with him everywhere he went, folded up in the pocket of his pants, aspiring to be a poet but afraid to show his one poem to anyone. Then he read Albert Camus’ The Stranger, and he decided that he’d rather be an existentialist prose writer than a profound lyrical poet. He threw the poem in the trash can and never wrote another.

Instead, he wrote short stories, and he starting living a bohemian teenage life. He dropped out of college when he was 16 and convinced his girlfriend to run off to New York City with him. It was the mid-1960s. Her parents disapproved, trekked up to New York City, found the couple in Greenwich Village, hauled their daughter back to Puerto Rico, and forbade her to speak with him again.

So he left the Village and started backpacking around the world. A few years later, he felt obliged to go back to college. He hated studying, though, and spent most of his time working on campus literary magazines, even founding a couple of new ones. Then he went back to New York, did a Ph.D. in comparative literature, and turned in a novel for his dissertation rather than a scholarly thesis.

In 1984, he published the short-story collection Seva, which became one of the best-selling story collections in Puerto Rican history and made him famous. His most recent novel is Galileo’s Silence (2009).

Taco Bell sued because it's beef is said to be lacking-

Taco Bell Sued Because Its Beef Is Said To Be Lacking

The Chicago Tribune reports that Taco Bell is being sued by a California woman who claims that the fast feeder is lying when it calls its taco filling "seasoned ground beef," when in fact "Taco Bell's ground beef is made of such components as water, isolated oat product, wheat oats, soy lecithin, maltodextrin, anti-dusting agent, autolyzed yeast extract, modified corn starch, sodium phosphate, as well as some beef and seasonings."

"Taco Bell's definition of 'seasoned beef' does not conform to consumers' reasonable expectation or ordinary meaning of seasoned beef, which is beef and seasonings," the suit says.

According to the story, "Taco Bell did not immediately return a request for comment but it told Alabama television station, WSFA, in a prepared statement: 'Taco Bell prides itself on serving high quality Mexican inspired food with great value. We're happy that the millions of customers we serve every week agree. We deny our advertising is misleading in any way and we intend to vigorously defend the suit.'"

KC's View: This is the kind of suit that, if successful, could really damage Taco Bell's reputation for barely mediocre food. The science should be pretty simple - either the beef is beef, or it isn't. And if it isn't, Taco Bell deserves as much castigation as it inevitably will get.

Anti-dusting agent? Autolyzed yeast extract? Yuck.

Monday, January 24, 2011

More than 100 years ago, a Yup'ik Eskimo used wood, pigment, sinew, feathers and fiber to make a mask celebrating the winds.

[ICONS mask]Donald Ellis Gallery

The Donati Studio Mask is for sale at a Canadian gallery for just over $2.1 million. It could set a record for a Native American artwork.

More than 100 years ago, a Yup'ik Eskimo used wood, pigment, sinew, feathers and fiber to make a mask celebrating the winds. Now, its striking appearance, rarity and influence on modern art have led its owner to ask what may be a record price for a Native American work.

The 34-inch tall "Donati Studio Mask"—known to the Yup'iks as "the mask that brought the south winds," and therefore spring and sustenance—is for sale at the Donald Ellis Gallery in Dundas, Ontario.


Objects made by Northwest tribes have commanded some of the highest prices for Native American artworks in recent years.

Bonhams & Butterfields

Chief Legaic war dagger, 'Eagle at the Head of the Skeena River,' $482,000, Bonhams, June 1, 2009 (seen in detail)

Bonhams & Butterfields

Northwest Cost Bowl, $230,000, Bonhams & Butterfields, San Francisco, Dec. 14, 2009

The Yup'iks of western Alaska made elaborate masks for their ceremonial dances, and Mr. Ellis's windmaker mask is one of a dozen bought from the tribe in 1905 by trader Adam Hollis Twitchell. He sold the mask to George Gustav Heye, a collector whose purchases became the core of the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution.

But when the museum got into financial trouble in the 1940s, it sold five of its Yup'ik masks. A New York dealer purchased them, for prices ranging from $120 to $160. He resold several to Surrealist artists, including the writer André Breton and painter-sculptor Enrico Donati, both of whom found inspiration in the masks.

Four of those five masks are now owned by museums. The most famous of the five, once owned by Mr. Breton, is on view at the Louvre; another is at the Beyeler Foundation in Basel, the private museum established by the late Swiss dealer Ernst Beyeler.

It was the famed dealer's only purchase of Native American art. Mr. Ellis says that modern art collectors, rather than Native-American-art collectors, buy many Yup'ik works because of their relevance to 20th-century art. "These are conceptual works of art," he says.

The Italian-born Mr. Donati worked in the U.S. for many decades, dying in 2008 at the age of 99. The Donati Studio Mask is by the same Native American artist and has the same provenance as the Breton mask.

That's why Mr. Ellis's asking price is set just above $2.1 million, a sum fetched a few years ago for a war helmet of the Tlingit—another Pacific Northwest tribe—at a Connecticut auction. People knowledgeable about Native American artworks generally consider that a record.

John Molloy, a rival dealer who also advises Christie's on Native American art, says the Donati mask is a superb specimen. "The influence of this mask and others collected by Twitchell on the group of Surrealists living in New York in the 1940s is immeasurable but undeniable. It's a great piece and deserves to be the record-holder."

The Ellis gallery plans to show the mask at the Winter Antiques Show in New York, Jan. 21-30.

—Judith H. DobrzynskiPrinted in The Wall Street Journal, page C14
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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Erika "Grundy" Nakmura and Amelia "Lindy" Posada are readying their knives and cleavers to butcher the finest sustainable California meats.

Lindy & Grundy

A Tokyo-born chef and a former vegetarian butcher locally-sourced meats in L.A.

by Julie Wolfson in Food-Drink on 19 January 2011 Clip to Evernote


Erika "Grundy" Nakmura and Amelia "Lindy" Posada are readying their knives and cleavers to butcher the finest sustainable California meats. Opening up shop in L.A., Lindy & Grundy will peddle locally-sourced charcuterie includingRancho San Julian beef, Reride Ranch pork,Sonoma Direct lamb and Rainbow Ranch Farms chicken.

After studying the art of butchering at Fleisher's Grass-Fed and Organic Meats in upstate New York, the married couple head west. Making appearances at Artisanal L.A. to butcher a pig and teaming up with Chicks with Knives to break down a whole lamb at Surfas, Nakamura and Posada quickly made a name for themselves among the L.A. food community and decided to establish their own butcher shop, currently opening mid-February 2011.

Cool Hunting caught up with Posada and Nakmura to find out more about the journey of this French Culinary Institute graduate and vegetarian flower designer on the path to opening a butcher shop.

Why did you choose L.A. for Lindy & Grundy?

Erika: Amelia is born and raised in Los Angeles, so we would come visit her family here a lot, and we saw that there was a great need for a whole animal, sustainable butcher shop. We try to source as close to L.A. as possible. Everything other than our lamb comes from a 150-mile radius of our butcher shop.

Amelia, you were a vegetarian for a long time. When did you decide to start eating meat again?

Amelia: I started to crave meat, pretty much out of nowhere, in 2007. I found it very hard to find meats that had been raised locally and sustainably, humanely. But when we found Fleishers Grass-Fed and Organic Meats in Kingston, NY we were thrilled! Now, I love meat, especially pork. Being able to butcher what you are going to eat for dinner feels wonderful.

Erika, how did growing up in Tokyo influence your choice to work in restaurants and to study at the French Culinary Institute?

Erika: Growing up in Japan, I spent a lot of time in the kitchen with my mother and her friend Mira Metah, who owned Bidi, an Indian restaurant in town. The complexities in Japanese cuisine have definitely shaped my palate and cooking style. I think that in Japanese food you can actually taste and identify the ingredients, they don't over power one other nor are they one-dimensional. I attended the French Culinary Institute to strengthen my culinary skills. Throughout my education at FCI, I found a great interest in butchery and charcuterie, with a special attention cured, smoked meats.

You both apprenticed at Fleisher Grass-Fed meats, how did your time there affect you?

Erika: We apprenticed at Fleisher's for 8 months. We learned a true philosophy of whole animal utilization and nose to tail butchery—a skill that not many people can do these days.

Amelia: It is a thriving community of artists, small business owners and all-around amazing people. They have an impressive farmers market, and one of our favorite restaurants of all time, Elephant, is just across the street from the butcher shop. It was an intensive apprenticeship, very back-breaking work, which we love. We want to share our knowledge of our craft with chefs and home cooks, and we'll be offering butchering programs at Lindy & Grundy once we're rockin' and rollin' and ready for students in our shop.

What was the moment when you realized that butchering was your calling?

Erika: It started in my production class in culinary school at FCI. We learned how to process smaller animals like chickens, ducks, rabbits and eventually pork butts. Even the process of just cleaning up steaks, that experience of cutting meat excited me. My background is in sculpture and I get a tremendous creative rush when I butcher, it's a type of subtractive sculpture and I've always enjoyed working with my hands.

Who designed the space and what is the atmosphere you are hoping to create for your customers?

Erika: Our shop is inspired by the layout at Fleisher's, and a lot of things are set-up in a way that we are used to. We are challenged by a much smaller space than Fleisher's so we had to be very creative, and thankfully our architect was patient with us. Also, Amelia's cousin Gabriel Shelton is an incredibly talented iron-worker in Brooklyn, and she has been a huge part of our design process as well.

Amelia: She is custom-making some beautiful pieces for our shop, including our overhead hanging rail system, where our meat will be hung. As for the atmosphere, we hope to be a place where the community wants to gather to talk about food, sustainability, recipes and cooking. We want a friendly environment that is educational, approachable and fun! Meat should not be intimidating, we want folks to know where there meat comes from and be proud to support local California agriculture and small farms.

What have you done to become part of the local food community?

Erika: We are brand new to the L.A. food community, and have been fortunate to be embraced by so many talented chefs, urban farmers, foodies, neighbors and folks who are just excited to be able to have a new butcher shop come to town. The food blogging community has helped us network with other like-minded folks here in town.

What are your goals for Lindy & Grundy?

Amelia: Our goal is to provide an alternative to commodity meat, and help spread awareness of the importance of eating locally, and living sustainably. We want people to think beyond the tenderloin and boneless skinless chicken breasts, and realize how tasty, healthy and affordable the rest of the animal can be! Let's appreciate and utilize the entire animal, and more importantly, let's be thankful for having small farmers who work so hard so that we can eat well.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wanderbird left this morning for San Diego and ultimately New England via the Panama Canal

Hot Doom
Rafaël Rozendaal/Courtesy

A still from Rafaël Rozendaal's hot doom .com

For between $4,000 and $6,000, you can own a unique image that lives only on the Internet. Created by 30-year-old Rafaël Rozendaal, each website is public, with its own personal domain name. Without any context, it’s hard to imagine a collector buying a "piece," just for a small credit that says “collection of” in the title bar.

But they do— and you have to see it to believe it!

Collectively, Rafaël’s websites get 1.2 million unique visits per month, according to his analytics from Google. That’s pretty impressive for a project that is now nine years old. When I spoke to Rafaël, even he expressed some surprise at the popularity of certain sites. To date, he’s created nearly 60 that range from passive moving images to clickable graphics.

But each page is oddly immersive, instinctively daring the viewer to click. For example, Rafaël’s most popular site shows just a plate of jello. What do you do to jello? Poke it.

Rafaël Rozendaal/Courtesy

Rafaël Rozendaal on Sunset Boulevard in 2007

And Rafaël wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Clicking is a little bit like when you’re a small child, you’re taught not to touch things. Your mom or your dad tells you, ‘Don’t touch that, don’t touch that’, but instinctively you want to touch everything," he said. "I’m interested in exploring things with both your hands and your eyes. I just think that the whole history of art always has been about [stepping back] from an object so you’re in a museum. It’s sort of like a temple, and you’re not supposed to touch anything."

Online, that’s not the case. Another one of his most popular sites is simply a block of color; click and peel away to the next color. Sitting at the privacy of your own screen, it’s your own unique conversation with something few would normally think of as art. When I finally flip to another window on my browser, I can’t help but take a moment to wonder: “Is this really art?”

Rafaël acknowledges that internet art is unusual to many.

“It’s so weird doing this, because not many people are doing this, and you’re thinking, ‘This is kinda ridiculous. I could be making movies or I could be making paintings where I have a lot of reference,’" he said. "It’s a little bit like floating in outer space.”

Floating isn’t necessarily a bad thing though. The frame reserved for art is changed when it’s created for the Internet. In some ways, it's more dynamic- you’re not looking at these pieces dressed in cocktail attire with a drink in hand. You’re allowed to click it, allowed to mute it, allowed to move on without a thought if that’s what you want. Instead of only seeing a piece once in a gallery, you can see it at work, at home— anywhere. That context is what makes creating art online compelling for Rafaël.

“It’s different, but that’s the cool thing," he said. "It’s the same thing with music — [can] you imagine someone listening to it while they’re jogging or while they’re having sex or while they’re cooking or while they’re in the shower? Or maybe they should all come to the concert in the stadium or should they see the music video. [Instead] it’s just around and part of people’s lives."

Although Rafaël is an artist, he’s not a programmer. That’s why he has Reinier Feijen to help him to program his concepts. And it’s artful coding; a set of simple rules generating an unexpected result. To get there, each site starts with a sketch sent to Reiner, to see what’s possible. From there, Rafaël finalizes the sketch, finds sounds, chooses colors, and make a rough animation and writes down what he wants, incuding what should be “tweakable”. Then Reiner (the programmer) makes a first version, and the conversation continues until they reach a final site.

It’s quite a process, but even as this project approaches its 10th year, Rafaël intends to continue.

“I still have a lot of ideas I want to make, and the medium is beautiful for so many reasons," he said. "Most of all it is complete freedom, a direct connection from artist to audience.”

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