Friday, March 31, 2006

Food, Money and Ethics

A few bloggers have asked me what does your "gnostic" title imply and what is your deal with food and farming? I believe we need to have food for everybody and that farming may be the only way to accomplish such a project, but it is farming because we have painted ourselves into a corner, not because it is a superior way to feed ourselves. I believe we need to look to ancient science and food production to accomplish meeting our needs today. Thanks to anyone who drops by and who asked me questions. You're probably getting more than you bargained for , ha ha! I think it's best if I defer to more thoughtful writers than myself.........

Romantic notions of farming lifestyle are usually held by people who have never lived and worked on a farm. A lot of my questions about farming developed when our family lived on a ranch in Alberta. As much as I loved it, and I did- horseback riding, fixing fences, herding cattle for artificial insemination...I started feeling something was out of whack in our culture. It wasn't just the grueling work, it was the ghettoization of farmers and then the distribution of the food they produced. It seemed like a lot of work considering food is free. Can you imagine if we started buying water? Oh right, we do. There are a number of working class people who find the concept of buying water pretentious and misguided. Perhaps that is how I feel about growing locking up and selling back food? And the ethics and mindsets that produces. I beleive it is the attitude of over-controlling nature by totalitarian farming that led to economic structures like prostitution, scalping, slavery, pesticides and corporate coruption. The belief that anything is for sale and anything will be bought. Even ethics and culture.

The following is an excerpt from The Other Side Of Eden; Farmers Hunters Gatherers and The Shaping of the World by Hugh Brody

"Throughout the western world, there are men and women who choose low levels of material comfort and small numbers of children to avoid the need for large incomes, thereby pursuing lives in which they may survive without regular jobs and devote themselves instead to creative work and family life. This way of being encompasses a concern about the destruction of the natural world by the ever-growing pressures to reshape it in the interests of surplus and profit. And dissident voices within mainstream culture have long criticised the use of repression and violence both in maintaining social order and raising children. In all these we can hear echoes of hunter-gatherer ideas and practices.

Men and women galloping on horses across the countryside in pursuit of foxes; men with shotguns who fire at pheasants, grouse or partridges driven towards them by a line of beaters; those whose wealth allows them to trawl the seas for game fish in their powerful boats-these people lay claim to represent the hunter-gatherer within us all. Yet their habits and minds are fixed firm to the farming condition. Their hunting, shooting and fishing is evidence of the very characteristics that agricultural development has exaggerated, with the help of capitalist and industrial developments, to an extreme. They are suppressors rather than exemplifiers of the hunter-gatherer. They live by the systems of priviledge and organization that are hallmarks of the agricultural mind.

No: the hunter-gatherers in the heartland of the exiles, living in the nation-states of farmers and in the cities farmers have built, are opponents of the dominant order. They oppose hierarchy and challenge the need to control both other people and the land itself. Consciously or not, they are radicals in their own lives. At the least, they experience the tension in themselves that comes from a longing not to plan and to acquiesce in plans; at most, they use a mixture of knowledge and dreams to express their vision. It is artists, speculative scientists and those whose journeys in life depend on not quite knowing the destination who are close to hunter-gatherers, who rely upon a hunter-gatherer mind.

The visionaries in society are always there, and they are perhaps a part of us all. The agriculturalist mind and its economic order never quite obscure evidence of the hunters. Many people feel the strain of a way of life and a mind-set that disallow all forms of improvisation and intuition. The controlling features of a life that has no place for the hunter-gatherer mind create a longing for spirituality and underpin many forms of protest, from Quaker ideals of equality to the call for deschooling society, from new-age mysticism to concern about rainforests.

There is a common experience of something being wrong that may receive real illumination from a much more direct acknowledgement of rival forms of mind. Rival forms of mind are, of course, reducible to rival forms of society-and, in the end, to the displacement of one kind of economy by another."

To be fair, I should offer a different perspective with this article.

Is farming better? Below excerpt from Primal Seed magazine site article:

We are wrong if we assume that the change from hunter gathering to farming bought an improvement in the quality of the human life or in the humans themselves. Skeletal evidence reveals that hunter gatherers were in fact, taller, better nourished, suffered less disease and lived longer than farmers. The gathering of wild grains produces more calories of food for each calorie of energy invested than any form of agriculture

Hunter-gatherers typically get more of their energy from gathering plant sources, usually done by women, than from hunting. Their diet is extremely diverse and thereby balanced, between 3000 and 5000 plants were gathered as food in North America. Hunter gathering humans had developed superior stone tool making skills, bone needles and fish-hooks, jewellery, art and music over 30,000 years prior to the advent of agriculture. We have discovered from the last remaining hunter-gatherer societies that these people have an encyclopaedic knowledge of plants and their uses and names for every species.

No hunter gatherer would voluntarily change to farming. The practice of cultivation developed gradually in settled communities over thousands of years. Migrant mothers have to carry around their children and generally have longer birth intervals and lower birth rates than settled people. Increased population required increased food enforcing more reliance on agriculture. Settled agriculturists can survive at higher population densities estimated to be 10-100 times greater than hunter-gatherers.

Worst mistake we ever made?

And Marshall Sahlins had this to say about "bad science" perspectives on hunter gatherers.

Cultural Materialism and Research

And I believe this discovery of an ancient mound is no mystery. It is an tower for practicing astronomy. One of the biggest arguments farmers have to dismiss hunter and gatherers is that they didn't have "culture" or "science" or "civilization". Pshaw. The entire history of literature, oral and printed, is astronomy. Gnostic belief systems and metaphors built memory grids in myths like Beowul, Rig Veda, Krishna/Christ motif, Gilgamesh to represent astronomical events and cycles. We have forgotten that we studied the stars for food, life and guidance. It's no coinicidence that many constellations are named after animals, and that the birth of many gods are linked to stars and morality. Not only did hunter and gatherers understand astronomy and record it within the incantations and stories of ancient myths, their societies knew how to eat, live and survive throguh communion with each other, the material world and the supernatural world. To feed all of earths population I believe we need to respect, preserve and learn from hunter and gatherers skills.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

John Woo's Call It Exercise

I had a breakthrough moment in dance the other night!!! These are my comfy awesome dance shoes.

I was always a dancer. I worked in nightclubs and went to clubs all the time. I probably was dancing at least 3 nights a week when I was young. The shittiest part about getting older is almost no one I know goes dancing any more. I was getting flabby and that was not cool. Or "healthy." Vancouver in 2000, I signed up at Harbour Dance School to take hip hop dancing. If I was gonna look like an old idiot dancing, it was going to be in a professional environment. It was the most incredible workout I've ever had, harder than aquafit! Ouch. But boy did it feel good. I am miserable at lessons in hip hop, I crash into everybody. What made it worse was there were these young talented dancers. People who had made a decision to dedicate their lives and bodies to dance. I woke up like in Bedazzled and shouted "Oh no I'm a dance mom." (We used to have art moms as co-eds when we were at York University, retired career women or empty nest women who had always loved art-extremely generous and kind to us new students...I used to say when I retire from being an artist I'm going to take up brain surgery and be nice to the med students) And now, here I was a dance mom! It was depressing until I got in such good shape who cares! Any time I show anyone my aquired=earned new dance moves, I break out laughing and can't really get through a routine. It also doesn't help that every time I've shown my trusted peeps THEY break out laughing. (yes, I mean YOU Rita, Tiffany and Stagg!)

Whatever, fool-folly...dancing is just something that I could never get old and give up! I always loved those couples that would shake it out at weddings with their ballroom dancing. Usually they met at some big dance and it was always part of their life. A few of my dearest friendships were built around clubbing. Working in a club with Dolly, and then dancing all night with Anita and Karl or Andrew Shand in NYC. (I am hoping that me posting Andrew's name here might draw him here...haven't talked to him in years maybe he'll google his own name!) I found Karl online today though, and even watched him in a video at the school he teaches in Toronto. You can find almost anybody on the internet.

In Toronto, where I go dancing about once a month is at Zipperz where it doesn't matter how old you are, dancing is timeless. A comfortable friendly atmosphere where it's easy to find kindred spirits.

So one of the first things I did here in Chicago was sign up for dance workshops. I found a great place and Lee Daniels is an incredible dancer and teacher. And he is patient. I mean though, I haven't actually TALKED to him, I am too intimidated. I try not to draw attention to my struggling movements. I am enjoying this workshop because a lot of the participants are not professional dancers, heh heh. Anyways, the other night, things just clicked for me. I didn't smash into anybody, I had learned how to not take up so much space and I was super familiar with the song for our new routine. Hollaback Girl by Gwen Steffani.

This is on the fridge. If you click and enlarge this photo, you will see Stagg and I dancing at Tuffy P and Mr. A.'s wedding in 2001. Thats' Paul James behind us. It's a miracle Stagg loves dancing, whew! I have been saying how frustrating it is to have to treat DANCE as excercise, and so Stagg has found some places for us to go dancing here. We have already been to aTechno Club which I really liked, good music, comfortable atmosphere. I used to be really into goth so we tracked down no cover nights for Goth Club. We'll check it out next week. Anything to avoid obvious excercise lifestyle! Um, just a side note, there is a post card on the fridge photo with grafiti art in NYC in 87. I found this postcard in Vancouver and almost fell over. I had sat with my sketch book (in the 80's) on one of my jillion of trips to NYC and drew this whole street scene with the grafiti once because it was so funny. I am happy to say I spent a lot of time in NYC clubbing, with Andrew Shand!!! who was doing his phd there, and we would stay up all night at Danceteria, Mudd Club, Berlin, Lucky Strike, CBGBs...last I heard Andrew and his wife Jennifer Bowen had moved to Brooklyn. I still have my sketch books from those trips, with notes about The Fun Gallery where we met Kenny Sharf and Keith Harring, openings with David Salle and Anthony Hayden Guest( Vanity Fair contributor back in the day we shared a taxi gallery hopping once)...well you can tell I am getting all nostagic right now ha ha....memory lane...

Richard Ashcroft was on Regis and Kelly yesterday, and he was excellent and very funny. At one point in the middle of his song he says "sing it Regis." He is awesome in concert. Great to lay around and stare at a ceiling and listen to like Springsteen or Costello. A spacey technofolksy. Yeah, I know I crack myself up taking these silly photos.

Madonna has put krunk/krump into her latest video, much like she did with voguing.

Lisa Rinna was sub co-hosting with Regis. She was amazing on the competition Dancing With The Stars. Of course I watched that show!!! There just isn't enough time in the day for me to watch all the reality tv I'd like to, but it is on my top faves list.

Reality tv I am dedicated to:
Beauty and The Geek
Surreal Life
Top Chef
Dancing With The Stars
Project Runway
Amazing Race
The Bachelorette

Well, I'll leave this post on a nice low-brow note with Reality TV. Oh by the way, I think the other reason I had a breakthough in dance workshop is from the non-smoking. I hate to admit it but I feel so much better not smoking. Damn. I watched the Gere/JLo movie the other day, Shall We Dance, it was okay, but Gere stole the movie. Usually JLo can be in a mediocre movie but she is so captivating it doesn't matter. Not this time.(I think JLo just acted out her breakup with Affleck in this movie) The movie was nice, but Gere was perfect. Very sweet and believable. Anyways, at one point Stanley Tucci's characters tells Gere's character you have to practice 5 hours to every hour of instruction. FIVE hours! So off to ...exercise!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Emerald Tablet of Hermes

Emerald Tablet of Hermes

Making: Godboatcakeziggurat.

Just get it started. Using a bunch of newspaper and thinking about Gods and goddesses

God boat

Picked up some day-glo paint. You can see how nice it is, it even shows up in photos.

Some collage words: hard, demystified, people, everywhere, plan, madness, Legend, pump, the World, possessed.

Silver Sharpie pens are fantastic! Really shiny great coverage.

Also used some really good silver acrylic paint for the moon and a couple of the stars.

Finished. Godboatcakeziggurat, March 2006.

Hitchcock Fans

Bright Lights Film Journal | Alfred Hitchcock's PSYCHO (1)

Thoughtful article and lots more links.

Living Welll!!!

Cliff and Cathy Dinners

I am so into this couple's blog. It's such a funny thing about reading blogs...there are good ones and lame ones. And I think the best blogs are ones that are a focus of peoples hobbies and passions. The diary style blogs just don't grab me. Sheesh, I wouldn't even read my own diary, nevermind a strangers, heh heh. I love cooking blogs, they make so much sense. It's a chronicle but it's also practical..and of course my food fetish is served so well!

This couple really know how to eat! I have read their entire archives and think they are a riot of cooking and yummy wine adventures. They also remind me of all my friends who also love to eat and drink. I had to add them as a permanent link here I get so much happiness out of reading their blog and seeing their beautiful presentations and their home atmosphere. It's such an organic experience to visit their site.

Below is a mac and cheese recipe they have!

Macaroni and Cheese from Paris Bistro Cooking by Linda Dannenberg.

This is the BEST Mac and cheese recipe we have ever had! We make it several times per year.

Gratin de Macaroni a l’Ancienne
(Old-fashioned Baked Macaroni)

12 oz Elbow Macaroni
7 oz Prosciutto cut in Strips
3 oz blanched bacon
1 ¼ Cups Crème Fraiche
Salt and Fresh ground black pepper
6 tablespoons Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 ½ cup Grated Gruyere Cheese

Preheat the oven to 425

Cook the macaroni in salted boiling water until still quite firm.
Drain. Mix the macaroni with the prosciutto, bacon, crème fraiche, and milk and adjust the seasoning. Add about ½ cup of the grated Gruyere.

Spread in a buttered shallow ovenproof glass or earthenware casserole.
Sprinkle the remaining cheeses on top.

Bake for 25 minutes, until the cheese is browned on tap and liquid is completely absorbed. Let sit 5 minutes before serving.

Ishtar/Easter/Ostara Clash of Farmers

The Food Timeline: food history reference & research service

Anybody who knows me knows I am obsessed with food. So is my sister. We used to play cooking show when we were kids. My theory about our obsession is because we didn't eat that well when we were little. You can't pay me money to eat canned beans. Beans period, I have memories of eating those beans that are all pale from the can with squishy maple flavour.I hate lasanga too, can't imagine why it was invented. Yuck. I am a hunter gatherer and I eat like a grizzly bear. I love berries and salmon.

I remember my whole life changing when we moved from Army bases to the west coast and our family discovered vegetables! I'll tell you it was a huge culture shock and lifestyle change from the military to the hippies! Brocoli and fresh peppers and yogurt I thought were the most incredible food I had ever eaten. I couldn't get enough salad or brocoli and became a vegetarian for ten years. Got Buddha and Krishna too!

The pagan spring holiday of Ishtar/Ostara is coming up and I was trying to find out the history of eating ham, and any kind of stuff on the Goddess of Heaven, Ishtar (now called Easter). Most of the stuff I am finding online so far is pretty corny, but did find this Food Timeline website.

I am an armchair economist and I believe all ethics and economic structures begin with food and how we get it. I believe what aligns cultures and defines them is how they live by food. I do not define culture by such superficial traits as spice choices or skin colour. That is why I don't believe in the idea of a "clash of civilizations" because China, Middle East, Canada, Britian, India, America and Europe all base their economy on totalitarian agriculture. They are all the exact same culture. They all grow food , lock it up and sell it back to themselves.

  • Farming and invention of cities

  • Anyways, I am curious if there is a pagan tradition of eating ham at this holiday...and maybe someone who trips by here will have some answers for me. Meanwhile the Food Timeline website is totally addictive. Oh and what do hunters and gatherers have in common with farmers? Astronomy.

  • Tidbit on food and culture

  • More food
  • Sunday, March 26, 2006

    Making: A Year, Too Long For A Play

    I ran out of grocery bags for collage, and I am out of paper around here in general. So I've found an empty tea bag package and cereal box, some cuttings from past collages, small pieces of water colour the upper left of this photo you can see some brown bag bottoms glued together with business reply cards...and white paper and black paint...

    One section at a time...taping some odds and ends of paper together on the wall. I forgot that it's difficult to get tea in America. Lipton is doing okay. I meant to bring a bunch of Red Rose or Tetley with me, but really, Lipton is not bad.

    Just adding what ever I can find. We need to get some more paper or groceries!

    Some of my resources. We fight over who is first into the Popular Science magazine around here!

    Patching lots of layers to hold the separate scraps of paper into one painting. Considering its just paper this starts to weigh a bit once I get going.

    I recommend some refreshment. I like cheap champagne and expensive O.J.

    Some words arranged in here together: total, thruster, real, you actually have rockets, tough, Blow, aware, Gold, probabilities? coming, puzzled, connect, easy, release, monkey business, delicious and stabbing.

    Some newspaper clippings in here say...Ingmar Bergmans 1966 "Persona" successful personal experiment, Fateless director's debut late but great, shaggy dog, honest and things.

    Listening to reggae radio and then Public Enemy, Fear of a Black Planet.

    Some of us do actually use pallets. I got this downtown yesterday after Warhol show. $0.79.

    Almost finished.

    My cool supersize clip board. Yes, that is a Powerpuffgirls blanket.

    Some details. It's all about the stars. Bras don't hurt either.

    Finished! A Year, Too Long For A Play. 45 1/2"x 41 1/2".March 2006.

    Saturday, March 25, 2006

    Warhol/Supernova Chicago

    Reconsidering Warhol as an artist who mattered

    It took me a while to find an article that came even close to representing the incredible emotion to be found in the Warhol/Supernova show in Chicago right now. (so many people project Warhol as a cynic)

    If I didn't think I would have embarassed my boyfriend I would have got on my knees at the Tourqoise Marilyn. When we went through the show we went downstairs and then said, lets do it again!

    It was wonderful to see the magazine clippings that Warhol had used to make the art work, some with notes about size and cropped to represent what the final image would include. There was the LIFE magazine photos of Jackie Kennedy. I know how it feels to find an image ina magzine or newspaper that resonates with you. I could imagine him looking at these and selecting them. they meant something to him.

    The paintings are awesome pagan heartfelt. Mary Magdelene Marilyns and Virgin Mary Jackie Kennedy's to disasters and Cleopatra made me feel like it didn't matter what Warhol said as soundbites...and he said a lot. All kinds of quotes were on the walls and I suddenly saw them as satire as comedy, what a joker. The art brought tears to my eyes.

    The images of disaster and of tragic strong women are Goddesses. Most of the greatest female characters in literature have been written by gay men. They understood what it felt like to be ina mans world. To desire or to be a lover and object of desire and emotion. I believe the women in Warhols paintings were women he related to. Not because they were damaged by celebrity, which they were or exposed. he felt their history, their journey and their position in society. He felt their pain and discrimination. Their role as a lover or icon. He projected himself into their stories: like everyone who has followed a tabloid saga. Although most of the pieces in thsi show are silk screens, a format of mass production and repetitiveness...these pictures also have paint stokes and are very sensual to the eye. Silver globs like royalty, feminine, film quality. They feel alive and organic and painterly. These are Warhols female family. these are Warhol himself. They are us as we watch the drama of celebrity stories. Bradegelina, terrorist tragededies, plane crashes, war victims, wounded soldiers, anorexia superstars, rejected lovers women at their rock bottom while being loved and crumpling before us with their weight of public attention. Mother figures. Ourselves. Drag queens are the ultimate homage to being a woman. These are Andy Warhols Mona Lisas.

    These are paintings done by a lover.

    Wednesday, March 22, 2006

    Attention Anita, Karl and Hobie!

    Chicago Millennium Park Photo Album Pictures from Chicago Traveler

    I love this park. The cloudgate sculpture shaped like mercury is as shiny in real life as it is in this photo. Some people feel this park cost too much money, but I think it is one of the most beautiful public spaces. Right now you can skate and get a hot chocolate. The Crown Fountain is really cool and mind blowing. The park is just about perfect. I love the tightly organized wild plants in the gardens. This concept reminds me of the beautiful Yorkville Park. They are different designers but similar sensibilities. I can't help think of my ol various club pals and how we used to walk the city after dancing all night and explore urban environments...I wish I could go for a midnight drink with you three at this spot, and with a stereo!!!

    Tuesday, March 21, 2006

    Indian Food

    Indian Food

    Did that trickster Plato know about precession?

    Plato's Perfect Number of the Divine Creature - � Dr Shepherd

    I think he rightly did. He was always trashing metaphor, and using his cave to describe how we are being told too many stories and living in shadows. He said Aristotle said we should be honest and rational, let go of old stories, myths and poems...But...I think he liked metaphor, and he landed up using metaphor and mytholgy to explain most of his philosphy. He was sly and staying under the radar. I think all of The Republic is dropping clever codes of rational thought hidden within the old stories of his education and folk tales...he carries on an oral tradition hidden within his dialogues.

    Making Plato's Spindle III

    I am making a third Plato's Spindle. The theme just keeps on giving! The first one I did I gave to Jill and Scott a couple of holidays ago. I made it in 2002. A lot of people find it grating and really ugly...I must get a picture of it...but I think it's just ugly enough! I am going to take some photos of this third Plato's Spindle as I work on it. The second version is in my photo album link. One of the reasons I love the metaphor of Plato's Spindle is because it may represent a knowledge of the planets and sun, and precession before Copernicus and Galileo came along, ha ha!

    This pile of stuff on my work floor is off cuts of other paintings. I keep all the shapes and extra edges from other paintings, like the battleship I made for Mr Anchovy and Tuffy P, and just keep using them layer after layer on future paintings. I think Stagg is jealous of my yummy collage pile here! I am going to use paper grocery bags as a base/canvas once again. Love brown paper!

    Well, I like to mix it up and surprise myself, so I've got one of the bags here on the floor and I threw orange paint on it. Been cutting some photos and colours, odds and ends from magazines.

    Good ol Jewel grocery bags, lightly taped together to get started.

    So now I am going to try to stretch some of these paper grocery bags...with some of the stuff that was on the floor, and magazine clippings. Lots of watery paint, some white, some clear. I'll be taping it down with masking tape as I go.

    Okay, so we use a lot of glue around here. We have a gallon of Bondex on the go all the time, which is an acrylic gel medium, nice and shiny!

    Some of the magazine stuff I have been cutting up.

    I love these business reply cards from magazines. I used to find them annoying, but now they make great collage material. Basically, I'm making home-made paper by the time I finish gluing.

    Mix up some sky colours.

    Knock in some blue sky. It's all about the sky and the stars connected to people on the earth. Migrating Turtles use the stars to navigate, just like we do. Stars=GODS.Birds and fish.

    I collect clusters of words...

    I love circles...circles for Plato!

    Getting there...

    Some details.

    Almost finished.

    The Year Impersonated By Figures.
    acrylic and collage on carboard,42"x34".2006.

    Jesus With Short Hair.
    acrylic, collage on paper,30"x22".2006.

    The Ways of the Demiurge.
    paper grocery bags, acrylic, collage. 33"x48". 2006

    Monday, March 20, 2006

    Let's Go Hawks!

    Stagg's parents, John and Lee, took us to a Blackhawks game! It was a fun afternoon even though the Blackhawks lost. The game was a surreal experience for me. For one, it was weird to not be getting a buzz on during the live game. Yes, I had two beer, but it's American beer. I can't feel two. And two, I was trying not to be my typical Canadian self and drink too much in front of his folks, so I only had two beer. This goes against my experience because I figure family is WHY we drink. His parents shared a beer while I inhaled the first one! And three, I joked about who should I cheer for? Blackhawks or Gretzky? Of course I'm a Blackhawks fan! But it was pretty weird for me to get used to seeing Gretzky in a glass box. I think he was struggling with it too. (I said hi to him for you Suzanne, but I don't know if he heard me) He coached right by the door to exit, and as soon as periods were over, he was OUT OF THERE. And then Cujo was playing on Coyotes too. It just seemed weird. Slowly, I was a great way to spend an afternoon. And it was beautiful outside too, we did some more touristy things...

    Team gear, okay well, I'm wearing red! You can see we had great seats.

    Game face.

    Warm up! Can't you taste the beer and pretzels now?

    Just before we got to the arena, Stagg made his dad drive by Oprah's studio for me. I took this out the window. I had sunglasses on so no one could see my tears.

    Air and Spokesmodel. Don't forget, you can click on photos and make them bigger. Excellent!

    I think about this point I'm driving them crazy taking nerdy photos.

    I love the Blackhawks logo. About this sculpture


    More Chick Swag...

    The sports store was all basketball and hockey all day. And all of a sudden this poster. Stagg made me take a photo because we couldn't believe out of anybody not in Chicago sports, theres Madonna. Like what? And this poster is from the concert tour Tiffany and I saw last year. The only thing we would have found funnier is if there was a picture of Tiffany and I there.
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