Sunday, August 26, 2018

Victims and martyrs: a who's who of oppression




When it comes to keeping up with Our President's proclamations, the answer is simple:  it can't be done. As Trevor Noah has said, "Ain't nobody got time for that." Instead of blatting out responses of horror and doom every time, I have been noting the style and content of his and his supporters' complaints. Voter fraud, underreporting attendance at public rallies, sources of terrorist attacks, police-citizen violence, 'fake' news--all are important issues. What strikes me, however, is that the right has to dig for incidents, with disproportionate outcry, while the left points out actual events. No special inner-circle knowledge needed, no arcane interpretations or conspiracies. Just stuff that happened.

Voter fraud? The very few instances of someone voting under someone else's identity are mostly accidental--son (jr.) mistakenly signing in father's slot on the register (sr.) Voter suppression? Thousand upon thousand of voters turned away from polling places, guilty of voting while black or brown, or of being students living at their university, or not being able to afford a credit card.

Of the terrorist attacks in the continental US since 2001, the vast majority were carried out by individuals born in the US. Of those, most (can't track down the numbers on this right now--blood sugar dropping) were not Muslim, but were white anti-government, using their legally obtained assault weapons.

I hope--I desperately hope--that soon, actual deeds and events will matter again.

Incidentally, I obtained/created both these images when my camera battery was failing. Visions of the apocalypse.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

I Have a Lovely Problem

The Blues

The Riverside Community Art Association Gallery in Riverside, California is hosting a show, to be called Writers Who Art, Artists Who Write. If you are someone like me who writes and who goes visual by photo, this makes an opportunity to let one modality speak to the other. The projects are to be in the form of a diptych of 11 x 14 boards with the work arrayed on them. Lisa Henry, one of the organizers and the one who so graciously invited me to participate, agreed that thinking of the whole as a multi-media chapbook was a useful conceptualization.

At first I thought of the photos mainly as illustrations of the poems. Then I realized that the poems could be expansions of the photos. I have occasionally been asked to contribute photos to accompany pieces of other people's writing, and I have thought of it as showing a mood. The whole process makes it clear to me that I am, fundamentally, expressively more verbal than visual. Still, I wanted the entire diptych to make the viewer look from one thing to another, and to find that one thing commented on the others. A completely different way of thinking and proceeding and making choices for me, and I really appreciated it. The diptychs will be coming home at the end of next week, and I'll try to take decent photos of them and post them here.


Sunday, June 17, 2018

Dozy Neuropsychologist Thinking Out Loud

The violin-maker's cat, over-exposed


We were talking about Trompe this morning, and I remarked idly that his cluster of behaviors rather resembles Frontal Lobe Syndrome. Then I started thinking about it, checked in my books, and finally saw the following online:

Characteristic features are:
  1. Decrease or lack of spontaneous activity:  the patient feels no desire to do anything and is unable to plan activities, but may have periods of restlessness.
  2. Loss of attention:  the patient displays a lack of interest and is easily distracted.
  3. Memory is normal but the patient cannot be bothered to remember.
  4. Loss of abstract thought: eg, cannot understand proverbs.
  5. Perseveration:  a tendency to continue with one form of behavior when a situation requires it to change.
  6. Change in affect:  depending on the nature of the damage to the brain, the patient either becomes apathetic and 'flat' or becomes over-exuberant and childish or uninhibited with possibly inappropriate sexual behavior.
  7. The mini mental status protocol [the one used recently on DJT] does not measure frontal lobe damage properly. Other tasks where this impairment might show up are:  inability to maintain a sequence (messes up the order of elements); inability to follow instructions ["Do Not Congratulate" "Do not look at the sun"]; paucity of vocabulary ["I have the best words"]; inability to orient oneself in space [e.g., trouble learning the layout of a new place, such as, oh, the East Wing], inability to inhibit undesired actions [tearing up documents after being told repeatedly that they must be saved intact]. And there's more, isn't there.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Happy Pi Day



Pie are square. Pie is round. Pi is approximately 3.14159265.... I know this--that is, I still remember this--because my idea of a good time in high school was to compete in the honor society quiz team against other local high schools. Other students submitted questions (vetted by our faculty sponsors) and we four had at them. Students liked to ask us to give the values of e, and π, and√2. All to 10 places, of course. I specialized in reeling them off like a phone number. God help me, I still love to produce right answers. In this instance, I have wrestled for 52 years to produce the perfect pie crust.  A golden flaky crust is almost a prayerful experience--and takes the same kind of focus and intention and devotion. We'll have some for lunch, and maybe for breakfast tomorrow, if any is left. It's only a 7" pie. But check out the flaky layers!

Postscript:  If I do say so myself, this may have been the best pie I've ever made. Pastry as buttery and flaky as any I had in France. Miam miam! [French for 'yum yum']


Friday, December 29, 2017

Sarcastic Neon Art




A visiting European friend and I headed into downtown Los Angeles, by train and on foot and by bus. I had not realized how well our public transportation does work, if you only use it. No one-way streets to navigate around, no parking, just walking and serendipity.

After I showed her Frank Gehry's Disney Hall, she wanted to take advantage of the Broad Museum (rhymes with "road") on the next block. No charge for admission! and no crowd! as it was already 3 pm.

I had never heard of Glenn Ligon but he impressed the hell out of me. Engaged, sarcastic/sardonic, utterly original, eye-popping comments on American society. Seeing and hearing, though ignored and unheard. How glad I am that my friend insisted. Dayam.




Monday, October 30, 2017

Lifestyles of the Undead and Fabulous





Very Personally Yours—or—When Life Sucks

 Congratulations! You’ve risen from the dead! Everyone has questions about becoming a vampire, so don’t be embarrassed. We hope this pamphlet will help you as you begin this new cycle.

When I found this pamphlet under the wilting flowers, I thought it was some kind of joke. They don’t tell you what you really need to know, any more than those Kotex booklets from the 1960s told a girl what to expect. Those pamphlets made a girl think that her flow would be blue, that she’d have to learn to play tennis, that she’d become slim and dainty. Nothing about the mood swings, or what would happen to your clothing. Same for us new creatures of the night.

You will have risen at night, waking up in a coffin. You’ve clawed your way out and up through six feet of dirt. It’s a special time. No wonder you’re hungry!

Lucky for you, you’ve just been to a funeral. You’ll be well-dressed, so important for putting people off-guard before you jump them and tear into their arteries with your fangs. Don’t worry about that part. It will feel like the right thing to do, and you’ll know how. But no one tells you where to get one of those cool leather coats that swirl and flap like wings, the coats that never get in the way of fighting. Forget the high-collared capes lined in satin. That’s what your grand-sire wore.

You may wonder about your social life. Some vampires like to go it alone, all brooding Romantic, but most prefer to nest. A good way to find others is to share your kill.

I’ll tell you one thing about your social life:  it’s all after dark, baby. The louder and cheesier the club, the better for hunting. You will literally smell their desperation to hook up. It’s a win-win.

Enjoy your new existence. You’ve got super-strength and mad martial arts skills. What’s more, you’re virtually immortal!

About that ‘immortal’:  you won’t age, but that doesn’t mean ‘invulnerable.’ You didn’t have to read the pamphlet to know about wooden stakes, or beheadings. What about the lifestyle? No tanning, no driving up the coast with the top down, no dancing in front of the fireplace. If you were vegan, that’s gone too. You’ll know what you want, but you still might feel squeamish about blood from a cup, even an IV bag with a straw. No one’s ever figured out how to talk us through that part. On the other hand, you can eat and drink anything else you want—death-by-chocolate cake, double-double cheeseburgers animal-style, fettuccine Alfredo. If you want. There isn’t really much point, is all. But go ahead and smoke. It can’t hurt you now, right? You can’t breathe but you can blow impressive dragon plumes out your nostrils. Just don’t ask me where the air comes from.

Just because you’re a vampire doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. In fact, a whole new world is waiting—for you!

Yes they are. Waiting for you, I mean. A good thing you can fight and kick like—well, like a demon. Also, you carry no weight on your feet. No reflection, no weight. It’s that simple. When you have no soul, your soles never wear out. It’s catchy in English, kinda pointless otherwise.