Sunday, May 31, 2009

In Defense of Food





"What happens on your plate represents your most important engagement you have with the natural world and the biggest impact you have on environmental change." Michael Pollan

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Somewhere Here On Earth





WOW!!!!!

I love the set here on Leno's stage....like a whole huge lounge.... Prince has been incredible everytime he shows up on Leno's...I dig his expressions and his jacket...I've pretty much been in love with Prince my whole life.

Superfan

View more news videos at: http://www.nbclosangeles.com/video.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Famine

Intimacy



I love John Mahoney. In this season's storyline of the HBO series In Treatment he plays almost an extension or riff of the father he played so purely and truthfully in the movie Say Anything. Both characters became involved in corporate coruption and see themselves or their lives irrevocably altered in the process. Mahoney is spectacular as a CEO with sleep problems and anxiety attacks who goes to see Gabriel Byrne's doctor Paul. Mahoney does everything just right and we can see inside the mind of a person who is quite often so socially and intimately locked away from people yet among us in every environment. It's as if we get to the heart of the "hands off father" to the heart of "the callous business man"..."the workaholic, the control freak"...Mahoney tries to hide the heart of these stereotypes and but slowly reveals his characters secrets and helps us feel compassion for his journey. I never thought would be so involved in this series when I first started watching it...and I had no intention of watching it this season...until I saw Mahoney was in it. I can not recommend this series enough. If you have any interest in the what makes us tick, what is the human condition...if yu are a people person...then please check out this series. It will knock your socks off. And season two is even better than season one. At one last moment of the finale Mahoney can't understand why his therapist Paul would want to spend any more time with a useless old man. Byrne says "Because you have spent all your life rescuing others, I want to be there when you rescue yourself"...I melted into a puddle of tears. This is a beautiful show.

Hope Davis plays the character Mia. I probably know half a dozen women just like her in real life. During this season of In Treatment she has been utterly compelling by being so fucked up, so tough, so vulnerable, so humourous and so dam blind to her own patterns and devices that trap her away from happiness and intimacy, you want to shout out to her through the tv "Just be happy!. Go have fun!" I cried in this last episode when she doesn't have any idea what itimacy is but she has just said everything and broken down and exposed all the devices she's used to survive while being their victim without seeing the patterns of behaviour repeated. She says "I don't have intimacy" And Byrne's character says "This is it". Davis's facial and spiritual work is incredible as it surfaces that the way she is speaking in this room with her therapist is a beautiful example f intimacy. We just know she will be able to take this recognition into her daily life. Or we hope she can.

Sherri Saum is really good in this season too. She is so watchable and even with her flaws, we feel for her. Again another rewarding character arc to experience.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Video Killed

Open Mic Night


We went for dinner at our friend Jeni's place, The Urban Cafe last night. Inside the cafe are these really cool paintings by local artist Christina Cornier. I only had my cell phone with me so hopefully the colours are clear enough.


My friend Jeni Urban who is not only an awesome drummer she makes a mean sandwich and burger here at her restaurant, The Urban Cafe. The Urban Cafe has open mic night the last Tuesday of every month.

Poet Tiara blew us all away with erotic lesbian writing and poem! (looking for online web site but haven't found one...yet)

Jami Bantry sang a beautiful original song about a lost loved one. Bantry is part of the Folk Music Meet Up in Chicago.

Scott Free is a fantastic singer, I loved the sound of his voice. Jeni Urban plays with him. Here you can listen to some of their music online at MySpace. And check out the video! That is Scott Free and Jeni is playing drums! I love this one!
Free

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Beach Freeze


We were very excited all weekend looking forward to going to the beach for a picnic. We drove down to Foster Ave beach on sunday afternoon...and...it was freezing! We tried to set up right near the beach but it was even colder. So we moved back to the grass. We had set up all our stuff including some delicious White russians and Mudslides...but none of us could get warm. I couldn't stop laughing there were hundreds of families with bbqs and great set ups of lawnchairs even a tent! and none of them appeared to be cold. We sat there and ate some crackers and cheese and drank a couple of White Russians but then moved the picnic back to our house. We phoned a friend and she joined us and we had a riot in the comfort of our kitchen. I think May might be too ambitious for picnics...can't wait till June!

Yard Sale

I pretty much was so busy all weekend I forgot to take pictures. We had a yard sale on Saturday and although it was a lot of work it was also a blast. Our friend Andy came to town, thank god, and helped us on Saturday. Stagg and I had made all kinds of signs and flyers...which I even took downtown to the business offices and such...like Merill Lynch....we were selling a lot of art and I was hoping someone might buy something for their office. We put up flyers all around our hood at record stores and coffee shops etc. We had priced things the night before then woke up saround 5:30 on Saturday to get details organized then later move stuff out to the front. At 8a.m. some shit phoned the landlord and complained. (see remember what William Burroughs said about shits and Johnsons? A shit is someone who can't mind their own business!) Anyways...I had run to the store and the landlord yelled at Stagg and was gonna cancel our yard sale. He thought someone was moving out the front door and was gonna give us a fine (nice world huh?). Anyways, he said "Just this once" (isn't it sick that unless you own a house someone thinks they can tell you how to live...especially in this poor recession...telling artists they can't try to sell their work. The landlord is lucky I was at the store.) Yoou know, we tolerate a lot of crap from our neighbours. We have two neighbours Stompy McFooty (who tramps across her floor with the worlds deadest weight prod at midnight, 2 a.m. and 5:30 a.m.) We have Bombing ForPeace (who plays computer games at full volume all night...and cusses when he isn't saving the world) And some psycho who vaccuums at 7:30 on sunday mornings. I would never call the landlord on these folks even though they are inconsiderate. Ya just cope. I just wonder what kind of an asshole would freak out about a yard sale. Oh well.

We had a great time. We met all kinds of neighbours and heard all kinds of stories and histories about the neighbourhood! And guess what? Remember the reporter I said earlier who had interviewed us downtown at the Indigent Persons Memorial? He walked by! What a coincidence! He lives near us and here is his profile. I had to go to volunteer work to help some girlfriends ...so Andy and Stagg were working the room from 10-2 and they sold lots of Stagg's art work! I was amazed when I got back home how much stuff they had sold, even one of my paintings!

Later after we tidied up we had a Cookout in Pilsen. Our friends Brooke and Tony had the most awesome bbq and lots of friendly neighbours and good food. Amazingly Stagg and I managed to visit and stay awake on the train ride home. This was like the craziest busy Saturday but a lot of fun! Here are the only pics I took...during the walk from the El train to the Cookout:

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Actor Slash Model



Chicago based transgender bluegrass band Actor Slash Model

Mc Goonski


Chicago street artist

Saturday, May 23, 2009

For The Underground Baker


I always mean to take a picture and post it here of a tiny display at The National Museum of Mexican Art that reminds me of my sister, The Underground Baker, and her dream kitchen. So here it is.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Memorial For Our Brothers and Sisters At Potters Fields


If the people who are panhandling , or sleeping on subway grates, or wandering on public transit near you are inconvenient, meaningless, depressing and not fully people for you to relate to while they are alive...maybe in death their lives will become real?

Today was Chicago's 24th Annual Memorial Service for Indigent Persons buried in Potters Fields. Most major cities have annual memorial services for the lost homeless who are often buried by civil servants from municipal offices. If you don't want to pay respects to a homeless person by getting to know them, volunteering, or giving them money or food...consider going to their funeral service.



Gerald Blake Hankerson represented the Islamic community and gave a very good reading. I asked each of the speakers if they were going to post their work online, because they gave very moving eulogies and memorials. Mr. Hankerson said he would try next week.

From left to right, Keynote Address by Rev. Dr. Martha L. Scott, at The Euclid Avenue Methodist Church, Satchitananda Dasa (from Temple in Rogers Park)...I surprised him and his wife, in photo, by sharing some Sanskrit with them, knowing his name means "truth consciousness and bliss" translated to English.

Above is a photo of soloist Henry Pleas. He sang two songs and his voice is absolutely incredible. He sings at The Euclid Avenue United Methodist Church, in Oak Park.

I went with Jim and James from the Francescan Outreach Program.

The Memorial had many good speakers, and I was pretty much a wreck during Rev Martha Scott's speech. She listed some statistics among her thoughts...that 1/10th of the lost were Veterans, one third had been incarcerated at least once during their life, that homeless die about 20 years younger than the general average age of population, 1/10th had AIDS and/or Hepatitus, and there are over 600,000 homeless in the States.

In the United States, during the late 1970s, the deinstitutionalisation of patients from state psychiatric hospitals was a precipitating factor which seeded the homeless population, especially in urban areas such as New York City.
The Community Mental Health Act of 1963 was a pre-disposing factor in setting the stage for homelessness in the United States. Long term psychiatric patients were released from state hospitals into Single Room Occupancies and sent to community health centers for treatment and follow-up. It never quite worked out properly and this population largely was found living in the streets soon thereafter with no sustainable support system.


In 1980 federal dollars accounted for 22% of big city budgets, but by 1989 the same such aid composed only 6% of urban revenue (part of a larger 60% decrease in federal spending to support local governments). It is largely (although not exclusively) in these urban areas that homelessness became widespread and reached unprecedented numbers. Critics of President Ronald Reagan identify several main policy shifts as fundamental in the sharp rise of homelessness.
Most notable were cuts to federal low-income housing programs. In his first year of office, President Reagan halved the budget for public housing and Section 8 (the government's housing voucher subsidization program). Between the years of 1980 and 1989 HUD's budget authority was reduced from $74 billion to $19 billion. Such changes resulted in an inadequate supply of affordable housing to meet the growing demand of low-income populations. In 1970 there were 300,000 more low-cost rental units (6.5 million) than low-income renter households (6.2 million). By 1985 the number of low-cost units had fallen to 5.6 million, and the number of low-income renter households had grown to 8.9 million, a disparity of 3.3 million units
The 1980s also saw a continuing trend of deinstitutionalizing mental-health hospitals. It is believed that a large percentage of these released patients ended up in the homeless system.

The McKinney-Vento Act paved the way for service providers in the coming years. During the 1990s homeless shelters, soup kitchens, and other supportive services sprouted up in cities and towns across the nation. However, despite these efforts and the dramatic economic growth marked by this decade, homeless numbers remained stubbornly high. It became increasingly apparent that simply providing services to alleviate the symptoms of homelessness (i.e. shelter beds, hot meals, psychiatric counseling, etc.), although needed, were not successful at solving the root causes of homelessness. However, critics claim that Bill Clinton's 1996 welfare reforms increased the number of families entering homelessness. At any rate, policies set into motion in the 1980s were never adequately reversed during the Bush Senior or Clinton administrations; conditions, therefore, remained ripe for becoming homeless.


A READING OF THE NAMES was the foundation of today's annual memorial for Chicago's Indigent persons who had passed away this past year. Some of these people were Known only by God. If you click on the images below you will be able to read their names. How many homeless people in your town or neighborourhood do you know of their names? Why not go outside today and ask someone homeless their name? and give them a smile and a dollar. Make some sandwiches and take them to your main street and give them to a homeless person?

A reporter interviewed us briefly and he asked me "It was so depressing, is there any sense of hope?"

And I said, "You can't legislate people to become interested in each other, you can't force it. Hopefully, if every person had a shift in their spirit or philosophy and just helped one other person then maybe...but it has to be a personal journey and response. Hope isn't found in religion or politics, the only hope I see for any of this life is a personal response within our minds and philosophies."



Monday, May 18, 2009

The Road



SERE:


In the United Kingdom, SERE is an acronym for Survive, Evade, Resist and Extract. At a basic level this is core aspect of training for all UK Regular Army personnel and is tested as part of their Military Annual Training Tests (MATTs)

SERE is a U.S. military acronym for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape, a program that provides military personnel, Department of Defense civilians and contractors with training in evading capture, survival skills and the military code of conduct. Established by the Air Force at the end of the Korean War (1950-53), it was extended during the Vietnam War (1959-75) to the Army and Navy. Most higher level SERE students are aircrew and special operations soldiers considered to be at high-risk of enemy capture.

Esquire Magazine has an excellent review of the movie.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Tweetey Meet Up!



Tweetey and her family went to the zoo outside Chicago this weekend and we were able to MIRL last night for supper! What a blast...Tweetey is hilarious in person, she had me laughing and the whole family are real sweethearts. I had no idea just how funny Tweetey was in real life compared to just knowing someone from their blog. It was great to finally meet in person after knowing each other online for two years.

Friday, May 15, 2009

What Makes Us Happy?


The Atlantic Monthly magazine has an article about "happiness research"...

What allows people to work, and love, as they grow old? By the time the Grant Study men had entered retirement, Vaillant, who had then been following them for a quarter century, had identified seven major factors that predict healthy aging, both physically and psychologically.

Employing mature adaptations was one. The others were education, stable marriage, not smoking, not abusing alcohol, some exercise, and healthy weight. Of the 106 Harvard men who had five or six of these factors in their favor at age 50, half ended up at 80 as what Vaillant called “happy-well” and only 7.5 percent as “sad-sick.” Meanwhile, of the men who had three or fewer of the health factors at age 50, none ended up “happy-well” at 80. Even if they had been in adequate physical shape at 50, the men who had three or fewer protective factors were three times as likely to be dead at 80 as those with four or more factors.

What factors don’t matter? Vaillant identified some surprises. Cholesterol levels at age 50 have nothing to do with health in old age. While social ease correlates highly with good psychosocial adjustment in college and early adulthood, its significance diminishes over time. The predictive importance of childhood temperament also diminishes over time: shy, anxious kids tend to do poorly in young adulthood, but by age 70, are just as likely as the outgoing kids to be “happy-well.” Vaillant sums up: “If you follow lives long enough, the risk factors for healthy life adjustment change. There is an age to watch your cholesterol and an age to ignore it.”






"What would you do right now if you learned that you were going to die in ten minutes? Would you race upstairs and light that Marlboro you've been hiding in your sock drawer since the Ford administration? Would you waltz into your boss's office and present him with a detailed description of his personal defects? Would you drive out to that steakhouse near the new mall and order a T-bone, medium rare, with an extra side of the really bad cholesterol? Hard to say, of course, but of all the things you might do in your final ten minutes, it's a pretty safe bet that few of them are things you actually did today." from Stumbling On Happiness

..."is a book about a very simple but powerful idea. What distinguishes us as human beings from other animals is our ability to predict the future--or rather, our interest in predicting the future. We spend a great deal of our waking life imagining what it would be like to be this way or that way, or to do this or that, or taste or buy or experience some state or feeling or thing. We do that for good reasons: it is what allows us to shape our life. And it is by trying to exert some control over our futures that we attempt to be happy. But by any objective measure, we are really bad at that predictive function. We're terrible at knowing how we will feel a day or a month or year from now, and even worse at knowing what will and will not bring us that cherished happiness. Gilbert sets out to figure what that's so: why we are so terrible at something that would seem to be so extraordinarily important?" Malcolm Gladwell


RELATED LINKS:

1.) Stumbling On Happiness
2.) The happiest places to live Denmark!
3.) What makes us happy?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Artist's Picnic...


Stagg's best imitation of the guy who is sitting about 30 feet beside/behind him...



We've walked up to our lawyers in the morning (we have all the paperwork done!) and then we walked around downtown for an hour or so, got coffee and donuts...some booze for our picnic lunch. Stagg is on holiday all this week so we're doing all kinds of things. We walked back to Michigan Ave and across Millenium Park, and walked acoss the Frank Gery designed Bridge which double functions as a walkway over a highway and an acoustic barrier of the road noises. Then down to the lake and back over to the Buckingham Fountain...can you see the fountain above? Way back there?

I'm just using zoom for first time today. There can you sort of see the fountain? I had to ditch a lot of photos today because I was laughing about and shaking the camera too much playing with the zoom feature.

Our view during lunch walk. We just sat here and pigged out with our cooler and knap-sack full of picnic lunch. Cheese, olives, hummous, celery, egg salad...yum!

We got "road pops" a couple major sized Smirnoff Ices for our lunch by the lake.


This is Buckingham Fountain, which I always accidently call Buckingham Palace. The fountain just underwent a $25 million restoration and repairs, but when I was googling about the restoration plans, I found this: a website claiming the renovation in 1987 The completed work on Buckingham Fountain is designed to last for a century, far longer than the life of the fountain's original work! What's going on? Maybe Chicago should invoice the Cement company for this new restoration? The renovation was funded by the Chicago Park District, the Buckingham Fountain Endowment Fund, Lollapalooza, private donations, and the city of Chicago. Click here to see photos I took of the fountain a couple of years ago. I love this fountain!

If you look behind the eagle fountain to the storefronts across the street, you can see the "Artists Snack Shop"...that's where we're going...see pics below. We finished our lake afternoon with a beer and "Italian potatoes" at The Artists Snack Shop.



Stagg is posting some other photos at his blog later this morning...