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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Johann Wilhelm von Goethe was given a copy of Tüer’s work on his deathbed, and he was quite impressed.

The Origins of Comics
Graphic Novels like Art Speigelman’s Maus, Chris Ware’s and Charles Burns’ Black Hole have only become popular in recent decades, but comics were invented much earlier. While some critics point to everything from Egyptian Hieroglyphics to the Bayeux Tapestry for predecessors, but most would agree that the first proper comics were created by the German artist Rodolphe Tüer. In the 1830's and early 1840's, Tüer published a series of seven satirical stories about 19th-century society. What made them unique was their format, a series of images in separate panels, with caption text describing the action—in other words, Tüer created the first comic books.
They were soon translated and published in the United States as a supplement to the New York newspaper Brother Jonathan (though they were only recently published in book form in the United States last year). They were popular and generally well received. However, one of the highest complements Tüer could have been paid was given him back in Germany: the great German poet, scientist and polymath Johann Wilhelm von Goethe was given a copy of Tüer’s work on his deathbed, and he was quite impressed. He found them amusing and “highly pleasurable,” but added a caveat—“if he . . . did not have such an insignificant text [i.e., story-line] before him, he would invent things which would surpass all our expectations.” Tüer never did take Goethe up on this and produc e a more serious work, but his successors in recent years certainly have.

“It is time to strangle several bad poets.”

Fresh Air


 At the Poem Society a black-haired man stands up to say
“You make me sick with all your talk about restraint and mature talent!
Haven’t you ever looked out the window at a painting by Matisse,
Or did you always stay in hotels where there were too many spiders crawling on your visages?
Did you ever glance inside a bottle of sparkling pop,
Or see a citizen split in two by the lightning?
I am afraid you have never smiled at the hibernation
Of bear cubs except that you saw in it some deep relation
To human suffering and wishes, oh what a bunch of crackpots!”
The black-haired man sits down, and the others shoot arrows at him.
A blond man stands up and says,
“He is right! Why should we be organized to defend the kingdom
Of dullness? There are so many slimy people connected with poetry,
Too, and people who know nothing about it!
I am not recommending that poets like each other and organize to fight them,
But simply that lightning should strike them.”
Then the assembled mediocrities shot arrows at the blond-haired man.
The chairman stood up on the platform, oh he was physically ugly!
He was small-limbed and –boned and thought he was quite seductive,
But he was bald with certain hideous black hairs,
And his voice had the sound of water leaving a vaseline bathtub,
And he said, “The subject for this evening’s discussion is poetry
On the subject of love between swans.” And everyone threw candy hearts
At the disgusting man, and they stuck to his bib and tucker,
And he danced up and down on the platform in terrific glee
And recited the poetry of his little friends—but the blond man stuck his head
Out of a cloud and recited poems about the east and thunder,
And the black-haired man moved through the stratosphere chanting
Poems of the relationships between terrific prehistoric charcoal whales,
And the slimy man with candy hearts sticking all over him
Wilted away like a cigarette paper on which the bumblebees have urinated,
And all the professors left the room to go back to their duty,
And all that were left in the room were five or six poets
And together they sang the new poem of the twentieth century
Which, though influenced by Mallarmé, Shelley, Byron, and Whitman,
Plus a million other poets, is still entirely original
And is so exciting that it cannot be here repeated.
You must go to the Poem Society and wait for it to happen.
Once you have heard this poem you will not love any other,
Once you have dreamed this dream you will be inconsolable,
Once you have loved this dream you will be as one dead,
Once you have visited the passages of this time’s great art!


“Oh to be seventeen years old
Once again,” sang the red-haired man, “and not know that poetry
Is ruled with the sceptre of the dumb, the deaf, and the creepy!”
And the shouting persons battered his immortal body with stones
And threw his primitive comedy into the sea
From which it sang forth poems irrevocably blue.
Who are the great poets of our time, and what are their names?
Yeats of the baleful influence, Auden of the baleful influence, Eliot of the baleful influence
(Is Eliot a great poet? no one knows), Hardy, Stevens, Williams (is Hardy of our time?),
Hopkins (is Hopkins of our time?), Rilke (is Rilke of our time?), Lorca (is Lorca of our time?), who is still of our time?
Mallarmé, Valéry, Apollinaire, Éluard, Reverdy, French poets are still of our time,
Pasternak and Mayakovsky, is Jouve of our time?
Where are young poets in America, they are trembling in publishing houses and universities,
Above all they are trembling in universities, they are bathing the library steps with their spit,
They are gargling out innocuous (to whom?) poems about maple trees and their children,
Sometimes they brave a subject like the Villa d’Este or a lighthouse in Rhode Island,
Oh what worms they are! they wish to perfect their form.
Yet could not these young men, put in another profession,
Succeed admirably, say at sailing a ship? I do not doubt it, Sir, and I wish we could try them.
(A plane flies over the ship holding a bomb but perhaps it will not drop the bomb,
The young poets from the universities are staring anxiously at the skies,
Oh they are remembering their days on the campus when they looked up to watch birds excrete,
They are remembering the days they spent making their elegant poems.)
Is there no voice to cry out from the wind and say what it is like to be the wind,
To be roughed up by the trees and to bring music from the scattered houses
And the stones, and to be in such intimate relationship with the sea
That you cannot understand it? Is there no one who feels like a pair of pants?

Summer in the trees! “It is time to strangle several bad poets.”
The yellow hobbyhorse rocks to and fro, and from the chimney
Drops the Strangler! The white and pink roses are slightly agitated by the struggle,
But afterwards beside the dead “poet” they cuddle up comfortingly against their vase. They are safer now, no one will compare them to the sea. 

Here on the railroad train, one more time, is the Strangler.
He is going to get that one there, who is on his way to a poetry reading.
Agh! Biff! A body falls to the moving floor.
In the football stadium I also see him,
He leaps through the frosty air at the maker of comparisons
Between football and life and silently, silently strangles him!
Here is the Strangler dressed in a cowboy suit
Leaping from his horse to annihilate the students of myth!
The Strangler’s ear is alert for the names of Orpheus,
Cuchulain, Gawain, and Odysseus,
And for poems addressed to Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald,
To Ezra Pound, and to personages no longer living
Even in anyone’s thoughts—O Strangler the Strangler!
He lies on his back in the waves of the Pacific Ocean.

Supposing that one walks out into the air
On a fresh spring day and has the misfortune
To encounter an article on modern poetry
In New World Writing, or has the misfortune
To see some examples of some of the poetry
Written by the men with their eyes on the myth
And the Missus and the midterms, in the Hudson Review,
Or, if one is abroad, in Botteghe Oscure,
Or indeed in Encounter, what is one to do
With the rest of one’s day that lies blasted to ruins
All bluely about one, what is one to do?
O surely one cannot complain to the President,
Nor even to the deans of Columbia College,
Nor to T. S. Eliot, nor to Ezra Pound,
And supposing one writes to the Princess Caetani,
“Your poets are awful!” what good would it do?
And supposing one goes to the Hudson Review
With a package of matches and sets fire to the building?
One ends up in prison with trial subscriptions
To the Partisan, Sewanee, and Kenyon Review!


Sun out! perhaps there is a reason for the lack of poetry
In these ill-contented souls, perhaps they need air!

Blue air, fresh air, come in, I welcome you, you are an art student,
Take off your cap and gown and sit down on the chair.

Together we shall paint the poets—but no, air! perhaps you should go to them, quickly,
Give them a little inspiration, they need it, perhaps they are out of breath,
Give them a little inhuman company before they freeze the English language to death!
(And rust their typewriters a little, be sea air! be noxious! kill them, if you must, but stop their poetry!
I remember I saw you dancing on the surf on the Côte d’Azur,
And I stopped, taking my hat off, but you did not remember me,
Then afterwards you came to my room bearing a handful of orange flowers
And we were together all through the summer night!)

That we might go away together, it is so beautiful on the sea, there are a few white clouds in the sky!
But no, air! you must go . . . Ah, stay!

But she has departed and . . . Ugh! what poisonous fumes and clouds! what a suffocating atmosphere!
Cough! whose are these hideous faces I see, what is this rigor
Infecting the mind? where are the green Azores,
Fond memories of childhood, and the pleasant orange trolleys,
A girl’s face, red-white, and her breasts and calves, blue eyes, brown eyes, green eyes, fahrenheit
Temperatures, dandelions, and trains, O blue?!
Wind, wind, what is happening? Wind! I can’t see any bird but the gull, and I feel it should symbolize . . .
Oh, pardon me, there’s a swan, one two three swans, a great white swan, hahaha how pretty they are! Smack!
Oh! stop! help! yes, I see—disrespect for my superiors—forgive me, dear Zeus, nice Zeus, parabolic bird, O feathered excellence! white!
There is Achilles too, and there’s Ulysses, I’ve always wanted to see them,
And there is Helen of Troy, I suppose she is Zeus too, she’s so terribly pretty—hello, Zeus, my you are beautiful, Bang!
One more mistake and I get thrown out of the Modern Poetry Association, help! Why aren’t there any adjectives around?
Oh there are, there’s practically nothing else—look, here’s grey, utter, agonized, total, phenomenal, gracile, invidious, sundered, and fused,
Elegant, absolute, pyramidal, and . . . Scream! but what can I describe with these words? States!
States symbolized and divided by two, complex states, magic states, states of consciousness governed by an aroused sincerity, cockadoodle doo!
Another bird! is it morning? Help! where am I? am I in the barnyard? oink oink, scratch, moo! Splash!
My first lesson. “Look around you. What do you think and feel?” Uhhh . . . “Quickly!”This Connecticut landscape would have pleased Vermeer. Wham! A-Plus. “Congratulations!” I am promoted.
OOOhhhhh I wish I were dead, what a headache! My second lesson: “Rewrite your first lesson line six hundred times. Try to make it into a magnetic field.” I can do it too. But my poor line! What a nightmare! Here comes a tremendous horse,
Trojan, I presume. No, it’s my third lesson. “Look, look! Watch him, see what he’s doing? That’s what we want you to do. Of course it won’t be the same as his at first, but . . .” I demur. Is there no other way to fertilize minds?
Bang! I give in . . . Already I see my name in two or three anthologies, a serving girl comes into the barn bringing me the anthologies,
She is very pretty and I smile at her a little sadly, perhaps it is my last smile! Perhaps she will hit me! But no, she smiles in return, and she takes my hand.
My hand, my hand! what is this strange thing I feel in my hand, on my arm, on my chest, my face—can it be . . . ? it is! AIR!
Air, air, you’ve come back! Did you have any success? “What do you think?” I don’t know, air. You are so strong, air.
And she breaks my chains of straw, and we walk down the road, behind us the hideous fumes!
Soon we reach the seaside, she is a young art student who places her head on my shoulder,
I kiss her warm red lips, and here is the Strangler, reading the Kenyon Review! Good luck to you, Strangler!
Goodbye, Helen! goodbye, fumes! goodbye, abstracted dried-up boys! goodbye, dead trees! goodbye, skunks!
Goodbye, manure! goodbye, critical manicure! goodbye, you big fat men standing on the east coast as well as the west giving poems the test! farewell, Valéry’s stern dictum!
Until tomorrow, then, scum floating on the surface of poetry! goodbye for a moment, refuse that happens to land in poetry’s boundaries! adieu, stale eggs teaching imbeciles poetry to bolster up your egos! adios, boring anomalies of these same stale eggs!
Ah, but the scum is deep! Come, let me help you! and soon we pass into the clear blue water. Oh GOODBYE, castrati of poetry! farewell, stale pale skunky pentameters (the only honest English meter, gloop gloop!) until tomorrow, horrors! oh, farewell!

Hello, sea! good morning, sea! hello, clarity and excitement, you great expanse of green—

O green, beneath which all of them shall drown!
Kenneth Koch, “Fresh Air” from The Collected Poems of Kenneth Koch, published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Copyright © 2006 by Kenneth Koch. Reprinted by permission of the Kenneth Koch Literary Estate.

Source: The Collected Poems of Kenneth Koch (Alfred A. Knopf, 2006)

It looks and tastes like a cross between Champagne and vinegar, kombucha is now a $150-million-a-year industry that’s growing exponentially,

Is Celebrity Favorite Kombucha Really a Health and Anti-Aging Cure?

Madonna, Halle Berry, and Gwyneth Paltrow have been snapped swigging the sweet-and-sour fermented tea, which fans credit with curing everything from acne to cancer and turning back the biological clock—and new scientific studies seem to agree. So is kombucha a drinkable fountain of youth?

It costs just a few bucks per bottle in your local supermarket and is claimed to reverse the aging process and cure everything from baldness to cancer. For pennies, it can even be brewed at home, if you don’t mind a little slime.

So who wouldn’t join Madonna, Halle Berry, Lindsay Lohan, and Gwyneth Paltrow on the kombucha bandwagon, especially now that new scientific studies appear to support all those claims? A sparkling golden fermented beverage that packs a massive antioxidant punch and looks and tastes like a cross between Champagne and vinegar, kombucha is now a $150-million-a-year industry that’s growing exponentially, despite worries about possible side effects and health risks.
Comprising acetic acid, malic acid, butyric acid, oxalic acid, lactic acid, and a teensy bit of alcohol, kombucha has been a standard refresher, alleged hangover cure, and all-around home remedy in Asia and Eastern Europe for millennia. Its origins and etymology are veiled in mystery: cha is Chinese for “tea,” but debates rage over those first two syllables. Some say kombucha was brought to Russia by Manchurian traders. Others trace it to southern China, Korea, and Japan. Some go so far as to call it ancient.
Which culture created it? When something’s being touted as the next best thing to manna, everyone wants to say, "We had it first."
“In many cases—but not all—foods that have long, rich cultural and medicinal traditions often turn out to have proven scientific benefits,” says registered dietitian Sharon Palmer, author of The Plant-Powered Diet. Still, she adds that “although celebrities bring attention to many issues of diet and nutrition, that doesn’t mean they are always correct or give the best advice.”
Kombucha was withdrawn from Whole Foods and other stores in the summer of 2010 due to concerns over its alcohol content. By that fall, it was back on the shelves.
Kombucha Stink
Charles Krupa
Because the rubbery white wodge that fuels its fermentation resembles a mushroom cap, kombucha is often mistakenly called “mushroom tea.” That mat is actually a culture: in technical terms, a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. Fed a steady stream of super-sweet black, green, or white tea—one cup of sugar per gallon—it will replicate indefinitely, producing ever more wodges, each of which can be reused indefinitely.
Mid-20th-century Russian and German studies credited kombucha with reducing or curing dysentery, dyspepsia, high blood pressure, gastritis, colitis, gout, kidney stones, and even cancer. Nobel Prize winner Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn credited kombucha with curative properties in his novel The Cancer Ward. After his own bout with cancer, Ronald Reagan became a fan. Celebs have followed suit ever since: Reese Witherspoon, Anna Paquin, and Orlando Bloom have been snapped clutching bottles of “booch.” Now a new wave of studies might boost sales even higher.
One cell-based study, destined for the June 2012 issue of the journal Swiss Society of Food Science and Technology’s, asserts that kombucha “has prophylactic and therapeutic properties” including antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antifungal effects. Its authors speculate that kombucha “may be very healthful” in combating yeast infections, thrush, and other forms of candidiasis.
Palmer warns that the scientific evidence on kombucha’s benefits is just in the preliminary stages. “Cell and animal studies indicate that it may have some antioxidant properties, but there’s no proof to back many of the popular claims,” she says.
A 2011 study affiliated with India’s Jadavpur University and published inPathophysiology found that kombucha consumption effectively protects liver cells. Its authors conclude that kombucha “was found to modulate the oxidative stress-induced apoptosis in murine hepatocytes probably due to its antioxidant activity and functioning via mitochondria dependent pathways and could be beneficial against liver diseases, where oxidative stress is known to play a crucial role.”
Maybe Lindsay Lohan wouldn’t put it quite that way, but the message is clearly spreading.
“I sell every bottle of kombucha that I make, and I can hardly keep up with demand,” says Alex Hozven, co-owner of the Cultured Pickle Shop in Berkeley, Calif.
Hozven first began brewing kombucha 13 years ago, when she was nursing her son. Having given up caffeine, she had heard that kombucha produced a light buzz.
“I was interested in fermented foods anyway,” she recalls. “Here was one more to experiment with.”
Using local produce, she devised a line of seasonal luxury kombuchas such as blood orange-caraway, parsley-grapefruit, and lemon-turmeric-sunflower-greens, as well as pumpkin, celery, carrot, fennel, jalapeño pepper, turnip, and beet. They have proved wildly popular.
“My kombucha’s a lot more expensive than anything else out there,” Hozven says, “but I still sell every drop.”
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Spring Poems February 24, 2012 | by Lorin Stein-"The bees are kissing throbbing stamen"

Boffing bunnies, flipping fishes,
Spawning salmon, juicy wishes,
Oozing mud with pushing fronds,
Brown and green by fecund ponds.
Four-leaf clover comes unfurled,
Umbrella plant, a phallus curled,
Mushrooms, orange on black log,
In this fragrant earth bog.
Spring has sprung
The grass is riz
I wonder where the birdies is?”
The birds, of course, are with the bees.
The bees are kissing throbbing stamen,
Thriving, pollinating – Amen!


500 Years of Female Portraits in Western Art Music: Bach's Sarabande from Suite for Solo Cello No. 1 in G Major, BWV 1007 performed by Yo-Yo Ma Nominated as Most Creative Video 2nd Annual YouTube Awards

Monday, February 27, 2012

“Food culture in the United States has long been cast as the property of a privileged class. It is nothing of the kind,”

The American Way
of Eating

(Scribner 2012)

578 Kb


From the introduction:

Like all myths, the idea that only the affluent and educated care about their meals has spread not because it is true, but because parts of it are. Healthier food is more expensive; that much is true. So is the fact that it can be hard to find in poor neighborhoods. And yet it requires an impossible leap of logic to conclude from these facts that only the rich care about their meals. “Food culture in the United States has long been cast as the property of a privileged class. It is nothing of the kind,” wrote Barbara Kingsolver in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. She may be right, but for most people—myself included—seeing good food as a luxury product is just the way it is. It has been so deeply embedded in our thinking about our meals that we barely notice it. I didn’t until I met Vanessa.
That’s a polite way of saying I believed that the way I thought about food was so deeply removed from the “rest” of America that it would be foreign—inapplicable, even—once I descended the class ladder a few rungs.Implicit in that is the idea that the food culture I had chosen for myself was not only different from, but a little bit superior to, the others on offer throughout America’s kitchens. Like most armors, this hubris protected me from feeling as if I didn’t know what I was doing—something most of us need from time to time, and almost always when we leave home behind. But it also obscured my view and limited my movement. Eventually, I had to strip myself of it, and try to look at the world in a new way, asking the question, What would it take for us all to eat well?

I didn’t know; there’s no way I could have. But, luckily, I’m a reporter. What I don’t know, I can go find out.

Excerpted on Slate: Working at Applebee’s

At 9:30 I am shoved aside. The rush has slowed for the cooks, but it has migrated to the pass, a stampede of meals run amok. There are bowls of pasta teetering on top of each other; platters of ribs sitting in pyramids; towers of chicken baskets and trio plates hitting the top of the window. This food has to go out now. Calixto abandons broil to Damian, the other broil cook, and Omar leaves Geoff on mid to come work expo, and with a brusque, Excuse me, Ma, I’m ousted to the head of the pass, relegated to wiping down plates and checking orders against tickets before they go out. Terry’s pulling from fry, Omar’s talking to Geoff on mid, Calixto’s grabbing plates from broil. Everyone’s working their own tickets, calling for plates from every window, a furious flurry of arms and cheap porcelain flying up and down the line. I’ve heard line work described as being as graceful as dance, but this is harder, faster, hotter, meaner. What comes to mind is neither battle nor ballet, but a simultaneous expression of both—Capoeira.*

Read the excerpt series 

Excerpted on Gilt Taste:

Dolores and José have fed me nearly every day since I moved in. I handle my own breakfasts (coffee and bread), and pack my own lunches (PB&J and cheese sandwiches), but when the sun begins to drop behind the Coast Range and the evening breeze picks up, there’s a loosely communal meal on offer, and I am always invited. Sometimes the other boarders eat with us, but rarely. There has been sufficient time since my inaugural bowl of soup for a little guilt to seep in about this state of affairs. Here I am, a single per- son, eating the food of a seven-person family with funds so limited that they fill their cupboards from an informal food pantry twice a week.

Still, I want to feel like I’m contributing, so I’m focusing on helping Inez, Dolores’s fourteen-year-old daughter, with her English. She has been in the States for about five months, and she spends her days cooking most of the family meals, watching the smaller children, and cleaning house. Teach- ing anyone English is no small task, but I find it particularly difficult with Inez because even her Spanish is weak; her English is nonexistent. Though she went to school in Mexico, Inez isn’t going to classes here; we had to start with the alphabet. She’s so self-conscious that teaching her anything requires an almost endless stream of encouragement. To help even our foot- ing, I have asked her to teach me something in which she is fluent and I am not: tortillas.

Read the full excerpt at GiltTaste.com after Feb. 21.

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Thursday, February 23, 2012


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