Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The May 2006 issue of Tokion has a little article about Austrian art collective Gelitin and their gigantic stuffed bunny.

This is Gelitin's beautiful press release that reads like poetry. It does make me happy!

The things one finds wandering in a landscape: familiar things and utterly unknown, like a flower one has never seen before, or, as Columbus discovered, an inexplicable continent;
and then, behind a hill, as if knitted by giant grandmothers, lies this vast rabbit, to make you feel as small as a daisy.
The toilet-paper-pink creature lies on its back: a rabbit-mountain like Gulliver in Lilliput. Happy you feel as you climb up along its ears, almost falling into its cavernous mouth, to the belly-summit and look out over the pink woolen landscape of the rabbitís body, a country dropped from the sky;
ears and limbs sneaking into the distance; from its side flowing heart, liver and intestines.
Happily in love you step down the decaying corpse, through the wound, now small like a maggot, over woolen kidney and bowel.
Happy you leave like the larva that gets its wings from an innocent carcass at the roadside.
Such is the happiness which made this rabbit.
i love the rabbit the rabbit loves me.

I have a small obsession with Gelitin right now after reading the Tokion article and checking out their website. My first impression was a bunch of boys looking for an excuse to get naked and run around with candles in their butts and say it's in the name of art. Closer inspection has me thinking this collective is actually capturing childhood and that transition to adulthood, which is so succinctly epitomized for me through projects like this bunny and Otto Volante. That wondrous and sometimes frightening and nonsensical whimsy of life through a child's eyes.

So, the bunny will be on display on this mountain in Italy for 20 years, metamorphosing into a rotten carcass and then nothing, just like it's life counterpart. Plenty of time to crest the belly-summit.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

So, that last post was so depressing and exhausting that I feel the need to shine a little bit of sunshine.

Saw Neko Case last night at Bimbo's 365 Club in San Francisco. My man and I got there early enough to snag a corner table and have some delicious Niman Ranch hot dogs with fries, and some ice cold pale ales. We sat politely but without much interest through her musically talented but lyrically bland opener, San Franciscan John Vanderslice, and enjoyed a rare evening out together.

Then Neko Case took the stage. Neko’s voice is breathtaking. It is amazing to me that sounds like that can come out of a human being; her voice can make you weep. Her entire band, cobbled together from musicians all over Northern America, were tight. Her banjo/slide guitar player was phenomenal.

She was so warm and friendly, bantering with the crowd and the band between songs. She did a very nice span of songs from the new album, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, favorites from Blacklisted, (I Wish I was the Moon, Deep Red Bells) a couple of songs from Furnace Room Lullaby, a few things I didn't recognize, and a Buffy Sainte-Marie cover.

We bought one of her "exclusive for the tour" CDs and she signed it for us and we chatted a bit. She's very down to earth – the hubby and she exchanged cookie recipe secrets!

Definitely check her out if you have any inclination toward that haunting but sweet and beautiful melancholia that inhabits old soul country music.
I read something quite horrifying today about the Bush Administration and their actions in what bodes as devastating for international AIDS policy. In an email from the most excellent international women’s grantgiving nonprofit, The Global Fund for Women, I read of how the Administration is quietly circumnavigating an agreement they signed to ease restrictions on the procurement of cheaper AIDS drugs in poor countries. From the political blog of former journalist Doug Ireland, DIRELAND:

...Back in 2001, after a long fight against Big Pharma's monopolization of the production of AIDS drugs, a World Trade Organization meeting in Doha, Qatar, agreed that poor countries should have the right to break the multinational drug companies' patent monopoly on those drugs if they declared a national health emergency due to the AIDS pandemic. The U.S. was one of the 142 countries that signed on to this breakthrough agreement, under which poor countries could make their own AIDS-fighting medications cheaply, or buy generic versions of them from a country that produced them, thus bypassing Big Pharma.

This was a huge victory, won after years of struggle by AIDS and non-governmental public health advocacy organizations from around the world. And the Doha agreement began to save thousands of lives, by getting cheap, life-prolonging AIDS meds into the hands of the HIV-positive in the poorer nations who so desperately needed them but couldn't afford them.

But the Bush administration is morbidly blackmailing poor countries into giving up their rights to make cheap AIDS meds under that international treaty if they want the benefits of so-called Free Trade Agreements with the U.S. Either the poor countries refuse to knuckle under and scuttle these bi-lateral and regional trade deals with Washington -- which are worth billions of dollars -- or they accept these deals and raise the price of AIDS meds beyond the reach of the poor.

I’m sick at this. I’m sick of so much money being made from so much suffering. I’m sick of not hearing about this from our media, and I’m sick of what we have become. I'm sick of working for social justice and human livelihood and having my own government, the most powerful and influential in the world, actively campaign against it. I think it’s, sadly, a human trait to use power to make money and fuck over those who are powerless; it’s been happening for millennia. But god, this isn't just affecting a small group of people (read: American military in Iraq, America's working poor, etc.) who are so often ignored anyway by these filthy vermin. This affects billions, and countless more who will be infected in the future. The health of our world, the viability of our global community, is at stake. How do they sleep at night?

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Walking home from dropping my honey off at work, I came upon a bunch of books on the sidewalk. Some were stacked neatly in a box, some were scattered haphazardly on their sides, and some were spread out all over the sidewalk. One thing you must know about me -- I cannot resist any kind of trash people put out on the sidewalk. I also have a tendency to want to look through people's cupboards when I'm at their house (with permission, of course). Trevor says it's one of the endearing things about me. I'm like a little raccoon.

Well, we have a lot of damn books in our tiny apartment. So I passed the box up, but of course I turned right around 15 feet later and went back to look. Squatting down, I noticed the majority of the books were cloth covered hardbacks. Old cloth-covered hardbacks. Now, I have a strange obsession with picking up old books, specifically first editions and weird tales that I find in thrift shops and at yard sales. Not so strange, I hear you saying, but it IS strange because I refuse to pay more than a dollar or whatever. I like the hunt, and the glee of finding something so (rare, expensive, quirky) that was just discarded, and for such a low price.

So, I see my first victim -- GodEmperor of Dune, by Frank Herbert, in paperback. Pick that up for my honey-pie. Then I spy The Insidious Dr. Fu-Manchu, by Sax Rohmer. 1913, first printing. Sweet. Then something magical happens. Buried under all the stacks is a maroon cloth hardback in perfect condition, with the initials "TC" on the cover. It's Truman Capote's novel, In Cold Blood, which I've been wanting to read for ages, and even more so after watching Philip Seymour Hoffman's portrayal of him in the film Capote.

It's a first edition from 1965. Sweetness, I think to myself, and trundle home with my booty. Drop them on the floor in the hallway to wait for Trevor to come home and see my loot. I fuck around on the internet for awhile, practice my bass, and pretend not to notice my apartment is a filthy pigsty. When Trevor gets home and lauds me for my good finds, as an afterthought I get on that treasure trove of rare book goodness, ABE books, and nonchalantly look up my finds. OMG.

In Cold Blood A True Account of A Multiple Murder (ISBN: 0375507906)
Capote, Truman
Book Description: Random House, N.Y., 1965. Hard Cover. Book Condition: Very Good. No Jacket. First Printing. 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall. Maroon cloth covered boards, spine and corners are bumped, has light wear on edges, signed by previous owner on title page, no d.j. Bookseller Inventory # 010987

Price: US$ 125.00

And Mr. Fu-Manchu is an easy $20 as well. This is what I love, and what fuels my OCD tendencies to scour the endless boxes of vinyl Lawrence Welk at the thrift shop in search of David J's rare vinyl EP V for Vendetta (which, incidentally, was reissued on June 13 on CD -- just click the link to pick it up, believe me you will not be sorry) or pore over 4 bookcases full of Michael Crichton just on the off chance I'll find, oh, a first edition Cannibal Nights, the Reminiscences of a Freeland Trader from 1927 (for a dollar!).

Ah, sweet satisfaction.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Trevor and I went out to lunch with our friend Aaron today. Because of busy schedules and life in general, we don’t often get a chance to see him. But, hot damn, every time I see him I am always blown away by how fucking brilliant he is.

Aaron’s artwork was a catalyst for Probability Map, a series of poems by Trevor, some of which were recently published in Bay Poetics (see my previous blog entry about this). Aaron is also the mastermind behind the Center for Tactical Magic, Tactical Magic being a “fusion force summoned from the ways of the artist, the magician, the ninja, and the private investigator…an amalgam of disparate arts invoked for the purpose of actively addressing Power on individual, communal, and transnational fronts.”

Aaron’s projects are amazing! As an artist, he creates performance and static projects that are a synthesis of art, magic, media, and community activism. One of his most recent projects, funded by a grant from Grand Arts, is the Tactical Ice Cream Unit

From the Grand Arts website:

An amalgam equal parts SWAT van and ice cream truck (with functional and aesthetic flourishes borrowed from the apparatus of armored cars, military transport vehicles, urban hot-rods, and 1950’s-style milk trucks) the Tactical Ice Cream Unit is designed to attract, unsettle, amuse, disarm and engage the public with its strange brew of Good Humor gentility, Willy-Wonka wizardry, and Big Brother bravado.

Citizens looking for a free icy treat choose one of a myriad of flavors from one menu, flavors which include a red-white-and-blue pop called Da Bomb (the Mexican flag version is called La Bamba). There's also Black Magic (chocolate-chili), White Magic (honey-vanilla) and eight other flavors. Then folks choose an issue (oil, clean water, etc.) from another menu.

From Tactical Magic’s website:

The TICU emerges at a time when most channels of distribution, communication, and social interaction are mediated and constrained by the fervor of financial exchange…with every free ice cream handed out, the sweet-toothed citizenry also receives printed information developed by local progressive groups…incorporating an alternative strategy of utopian potlatch, the Tactical Ice Cream Unit is envisioned primarily as a mobile distribution center for ice cream and information.

The Tactical Ice Cream Unit just wound up a tour of the Midwest and Southern California, touring college campuses – where Aaron gave talks on the intersection between design, activism, art, technology, and magic – while also providing support and cold creamy goodness to antiwar protesters, as well as flat-fixums to critical mass participants, and serving up both frosty treats and food-for-thought to all stratum of society.

Aaron regaled us with stories of how the truck seemed to break down barriers in people’s consciousness. This ranged from the simple -- that the ice cream and pamphlets were indeed free -- to the more profound, as when a gentleman expressed concern about the issuing of “liberal” propaganda to children via a frozen treat. Aaron proceeded to ask him if he had problems with the progressive issues expressed, or the dissemination of propaganda to children itself. Of course, it’s the propaganda that is the problem, the gentleman said. Aaron said, “then you’re not a supporter of our military?” To which the gentleman vehemently said he was indeed a supporter of our military. Aaron then engaged him in conversation about how the military fully admits that some of their propaganda is aimed specifically at the 10-12 year-old bracket. The man didn’t leave with any of Aaron’s literature, but I bet you he is still thinking about this encounter.

Aaron mentioned how it seems most folks think in, and are comfortable with, a strict black and white dichotomy – conservative and liberal, Republican and Democrat. The Tactical Ice Cream Unit parrots that familiar dichotomy and then fucks with it. Utilizing things with very intense associations for most people -- a SWAT van outfitted with scavenged military hardware, a sophisticated surveillance system, and a loudspeaker pumping out hip-hop – and melding it with something as innocuous and memory-pleasing as a mobile ice cream van, confuses, yet opens up the opportunity for a critical thinking and the option of looking at issues from different perspectives.

Again, from the Grand Arts website:

It is not possible to tell from the uniform or hat that a person wears if he or she is part of the legitimate government or a terrorist. It is necessary to look closely at the person's actions to know where he or she stands.

As Trevor pointed out, the truck and it’s MO operates just as the ninja – unbalancing, creating a space in which to move, and then letting the person move into it.

Aaron’s project has received a lot of attention, and he is gearing up for more Tactical Ice Cream Unit tours. If you’re interested in hosting Aaron and the Tactical Ice Cream Unit, be sure to contact him through the Center for Tactical Magic site. And for one of the most unintentionally publicity generating and hilarious takes on the Tactical Ice Cream Unit, see Funding Anarchism as “Performance Art” at the Front Page Magazine website.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Heehee, I love this sign that is featured prominently on the main street in my hometown. I think this says all that really needs to be said.

Bonus points to my friend Craig if he remembers the name of this sacred place and what was so special about it as a high school student.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

So, my bestest girl, my partner in all things fabulous, the only one who understands when my eyes go wide at the sight of the eyebrow lady or who will cackle wildly and with abandon with me in quiet bookstores at US magazine and Vogue, who will play Ms. Pac-Man until she has carpal tunnel and loves to watch teen movies, who will tell me immediately if something looks awful on me or if I'm being a bitch or if she's being a bitch, who I can shop with because we are not the same size and never fight over accessories, who will share filthy quesadillas with me and will spend 4 hours shopping with me in the Fillmore Goodwill, is moving to Vietnam to be with her honey. For a year. Maybe more, maybe less.

I've known for months, but been in denial. Since she went away in early May to become a yoga instructor at yoga boot camp, the cold reality of it is finally hitting me. She's been emailing and I never have the heart to give a full response, because I can't stand it that this is how we'll be communicating for the foreseeable future. She wants me to get one of those cameras and use Skype, but I feel like a mannequin on those webcam things. But how will I see your fabulous thrifting finds and your hair growing out, she says? *sniff* She's back for a week at the end of the month, and then *zoom* off to pho and scooters and communist capitalism and the hustle of Saigon.

I miss her already. But I am really happy for her too, because goddamn, Vietnam! For a year. And she's saved enough so that she doesn't have to work if she doesn't want to. Pure freedom and the luxury to choose exactly what she wants to do. All that adventure for a girl used to planning and saving and doing the responsible thing, and then planning some more. Sucking up all that wonderful LIFE. And she gets to be reunited with her sweetie-pie, who has been gone for over a year. And here I am sulking. It's enough to make a girl develop multiple personalities.

When we first met, I thought she was a snooty bitch, and she thought I was a copy machine. How am I going to function without you, T?

Friday, June 02, 2006

Today is a special day. It is my and my sweetie-pie's anniversary. 2 years married and 15 years together. And the magical thing is, I love him more every day. 15 years! Blessed, I am.

We went to our special sushi spot for dinner -- hands down THE BEST sushi in the Bay Area (not going to post the name -- there are like 10 seats in there and the wait is horrendous as it is, but if you are in the Bay and I love you, you can email me and I'll tell you) and had our favorite nigori and gorged on o-toro and amaebi and kanpachi and tairagai, as well as the best nasu this side of the Pacific. Tonight the sushi chef had made special green tea creme brulees, so hot damn we had one of those too.

Tomorrow we are going to see Mark Kozelek. Sunday we hike the Redwoods and picnic. Everyday I wake up with this incredible man it is an incredible day, but this weekend in particular is all about bliss bliss bliss.

NP: With the Indians Permanent, David J. From Etiquette of Violence, his first solo record. Bloody brilliant, that man.