Tag Archives: culture

On My Calendar

Exciting things coming up in August both in and around Rockridge and further afield:

  • Subculture the East Bay Express’s Best of the East Bay Party:  With something for everyone (and I mean everyone), the East Bay Express will be celebrating everything wonderful about the East Bay at the Oakland Museum this Friday, August 7 from 5pm to midnight.  The party itself is so massive and diverse that it makes summary a futile endeavor.  Download a large copy of the invitation by clicking here (invite) or check the blog the EBE has set up for more information.  (Best of the East Bay 2009 Party Blog)
  • FLUX Super 8 Showcase: Sets from the short film Synesthesia by directors Corey Creasey and Ian Kibbey of Terri Timely will be part of this exhibition curated by RESFEST founder Jonathan Wells.  This is the first annual showcase by FLUX, organized to celebrate eight of the most exciting and emerging young artists working in film, video, music and design.  Watch Terri Timely’s film here (Synesthesia via Terri Timely).  Opening: August 15, 7pm  Scion Installation L.A. 3521 Helms Ave (at National) Culver City, CA. 90232 (310) 815-8840.  Through September 8.

synesthesiafrom Terri Timely’s Synesthesia

  • Oliveto Tomato Dinners: Oliveto’s annual Tomato dinners are the perfect capstone to tomato season, but this year in particular.  Oliveto’s new Community Journal has been tracking the cultivation of this years crop from the time the Early Girls were planted as seeds back in February via Tomato Watch (check out their brilliant Tomato Watch timeline by clicking here).  For those of us who have been watching all along, the Journal has taken the experience of anticipation of eating this prized fruit to new levels.  Whether you’re a regular or an Oliveto virgin, the Tomato Dinners are sure to delight.  Wednesday through Saturday, August 26 through 29, 2009.  (Oliveto Restaurant, Oliveto Community Journal)
  • Chalk Hill Clematis’s Mary Toomey Garden Open House:  The eminent clematis cultivators Chalk Hill will open their doors to the public later this month for a tour of the Mary Toomey Garden.  From the Chalk Hill website: The Mary Toomey Garden is adjacent to the nursery and consists of a large pergola planted with roses and clematis and five individual gardens each with a different theme including an eighty foot long perennial bed featuring many herbaceous varieties. Chalk Hill also produces their own Olive Oil and Vinegar, available for sale at the farm.  In addition, cultivator Kaye Heafey’s book A Celebration of Clematis will be available for purchase  Open House Friday August 28th from 9am-4pm.  Chalk Hill Clematis PO Box 1847, Healdsburg, CA 95448 (707) 433-8416 farmmgr@chalkhillclematis.com


MTGsiteplan_smallArtwork by Martha Kemp

  • Os Mutantes LIVE: One of my favorite musical acts of all time will be performing live at the Independent in San Francisco as part of the second annual Outside Lands festival.  Their blend of Tropicalia, Psychedelia, and progressive rock have made them a unique (and we all shudder to use that word, but in this case it’s appropriate) force in 20th century popular music consciousness since their debut in the mid-1960s.  Don’t miss this rare opportunity to see them in action.  Sunday, August 30, 9PM (Os Mutantes Myspace) (Tickets via the Independent) (About Os Mutantes via Wikipedia)

os-mutantes1

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Fanzine Publishes Parks on Strawberry

In the late summer of 2005 I met Casey McKinney, a quietly bruised character at Maxfield’s coffee house on Dolores in San Francisco.  We drove up to Muir Woods in a 1990 325i and stood in the fog and talked about my moving to the Bay Area and his potential escape to Europe and possibly New York City.  I wasn’t sure what to think.  But McKinney did it, and in doing so created the Fanzine; an everything and everyman culture magazine, which allows, or rather encourages, longer form writing that blurs the boundaries of fiction/non-fiction and every other genre encapsulation to which we might confine prose.

Today on the Fanzine, McKinney published a piece of writing that perfectly fits the bill of the Fanzine’s mission.  In “Strawberry Jamming: Darryl’s Dodger Days, Memories of a Young Fan,” Richard Parks laces together the narrative of Darryl Strawberry’s self-destruction with urban malaise and tragedy of Los Angeles in the early 1990’s, all told (both) through the large innocent eyes of a nine-year-old fan and a 20-something’s hindsight.

It would behoove you to read it, in toto.  You can let me know what you think.

darryl

Image from dingedcorners.com

Like all great arts organizations, the Fanzine is struggling right now.  You can help by sponsoring them.  Click here for more information.

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An Elmwood Halloween: Abuzz for Obama

Saddleshoos and crew made our way to “Abuzz for Obama” in the Elmwood section of Berkeley on Friday night.  “Abuzz for Obama” was this year’s theme for an annual shrine to candy corn at the home of a prominent academic/artist/activist couple.  

As we walked up to the house we were greeted by an extravaganza of candycorn lights, and the whirring of a genny.  It was a sight to be seen.  I was so caught up taking pictures that I actually walked right by a guy standing in the shadows, waved hi, and said, “we’ll be right in!” before realizing that it was a cardboard cut out of Obama.  Everyone got a big kick out of that one.

Squint to read the name on the mailbox:

Everyone who is anyone in Berkeley was there.  Guests all received gift bags with various candycorn accessories, obama pins, and a handheld fan with an LED message programmed to read: OBAMA 2008, BERKELEY IS FOR OBAMA 2008, ABUZZ FOR OBAMA, etc. with alternating messages:

 

The grand finale was the Obama cake, which measured in a conservative estimate at least 3 feet in diameter.  Check it out below. 


There were some aliens from Uranus there who led us all in a big long prayer for Obama.  Many present left the following morning for Nevada to let the people there know what’s up.  On this election eve, may all of our prayers be with Obama and all of us who support him.  Yes we can.  

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T.G.I.F. Part I

Last week was a long, hard one for me, so when I was done teaching on Friday I felt less exuberant than worn down, worn out, and worn left and right.  I thought I had to do something for me.  

I got home and remembered I had to go next door to Mrs. B’s to pick up my ticket for her big church event on Saturday: the church’s 65th anniversary celebration.  Mrs. B is my ninety-three year old next door neighbor.  

When I got over to Mrs. B’s I found her in quite a state.  She is highly functional, both physically and mentally, for her age but she was in a state.  She has been REALLY worried about the event on Saturday.  There had been some confusion regarding the tickets and the seating arrangement at her table, and though it’s illogical, Mrs. B was so stressed out she hadn’t barely slept all week.  

I had promised Mrs. B that I would bring over the dress I planned to wear so that she could approve it.  She wanted someone to talk to about clothing since her daughter who would usually come up from Stockton and spend the night before an event like this had to stay home for an event in Stockton on Friday.  I was planning on wearing a vintage Carolina Herrera dress: black with a white upper bodice and big collar.  Very Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s kind of a vibe.  A nice column design, with the collar for flare and a hem that hits below the knee–how could I go wrong?  I had originally bought the dress to become a godmother, and I thought it was perfect.  

When I brought it to Mrs. B she said “do you have anything with longer sleeves?  It’s semi-formal, but you don’t have to dress that fancy.”  I told her no problem and ran home to get something else.  Thank goodness I had the sense seek her approval.

I brought over a cream colored long-sleeved silk blouse and a black skirt.  She said, “do you have anything…[long pause] with more color?”  Mrs. B was planning to wear a red suit.  Now, being the faux-New Yorker that I am, my wardrobe is mostly made up of black, with a splash of gray, navy blue, and cream thrown in for good measure.  I own a pair of hot pink Fendi flats but that’s about it.  So I said, “maybe I could wear a suit?”  This seemed to meet with approval.  I told Mrs. B that the only skirt suit (knowing that pants were NOT OK) I owned was cotton, and therefore less formal.  She said that was OK and told me to go get the suit.

The navy blue cotton suit it was.  Mrs. B approved, and reminded me to wear hose.  (I hate hose, don’t own “hose” and only ever occasionally wear opaque black tights).  

Wardrobe: check.

Note to self: channelling a high-class hooker character when making wardrobe choices may fly in the Episcopal church but has no place, however iconic, in a Southern Baptist church’s 65th anniversary celebration.  As Mrs. B’s granddaughter (who is a good decade older than me) would tell me the following day, “it’s a cultural thing.” 

This was more the look of the day:

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“We Must Cultivate Our Garden.” Candide

Last night at dinner with friends we were talking about how the crash that caused the Great Depression actually took two years to fully play out and cause dire effects to peoples’ lives.  Who knows what eight years of Bush, and the events of the last month will have in the coming months and years on our economy.  Scary to think.

Let us look to Voltaire’s Candide, and the metaphor of the garden.  In answer to Pangloss’ optimism, Candide declares at the end that “we must cultivate our garden.”  Critics argue that Voltaire advocates pessimism; that Candide’s ambiguous declaration was a repudiation of Pangloss, and that isolation on the farm was a rejection of society and represented a loss of hope in mankind.  

I don’t think Candide was all that pessimistic, and often I think about this quote as a dictum on how to live life.  I read it as every individuals’ responsibility to themselves and their livelihood.  It is rather isolationist, which could be viewed as pessimism.  It certainly doesn’t align with the side of me devoted to public service.  On the other hand I often fantasize about returning to some kind of agrarian ideal, alone on the land and sustaining myself free from capitalism and the free market.  

But in light of my literal reading of the text, the stock market, and our increasingly meaningless dollars, I continue to commit myself to the cultivation of my garden.  A casual hobby may increase my chances for survival one of these dark days.  I don’t know about you, but I’m stockpiling seeds.  

My carrots are finally maturing.  Very exciting.  Carrots take a long time.

This is very exciting too, my lettuces just re-grew on their own.  No new seeding required.  New growth of fresh beautiful leaves.  So tasty.

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Hare or Hair -Brained?

When I was writing “Smells Kind of Fish-y,”  and characterizing Stanley Fish as “hare-brained,” I had to look up the word harebrained, because I don’t really know it.  If “knowing” is to have the capacity to use a term to create meaning, then I, in this sense did not know “harebrained.”  It was not because I had never used the term “harebrained,” and not that I had never looked up the term.  In fact, I had.  But it was so recently, and so few times, that the meaning hadn’t really sunken in.

I reflected on the fact that I have never fully understood or employed the term “harebrained.”  The fact is that to this day I have been confused: is it “hair” brained (as in a brain full of hair, and therefore little brain matter?) or “hare” brained?  The latter would make no sense to me…but why?

***

Why? Because this is the image of a Hare that I grew up with:

Now, it would be nice if I had a larger image, but this will work.  That is a hare, specifically Brer Rabbit.  Brer Rabbit is cunning, Brer Rabbit is smart, Brer Rabbit outfoxes his predators, and Brer Rabbit protects his family.  In this publication and related ones in the same series he is given to smoking, sitting at a dinner table in a chair, and wearing overalls and suspenders.  He is a hare.  “Hare” or “hair” -brained people are supposed to be lacking in cognitive abilities right?  Sort of irrational right?  Well, here is a hare who cares for his family, models correct dinner table manners for the youth, and wears snappy outfits.  Now, given these realities I find it perfectly reasonable that a woman with a year of post-graduate study under her belt and more in process would be confused over the odd and colloquial term, “harebrained.”  Based on my observations of Brer Rabbit, and my observations of “hare” or “hair” -brained individuals, I deduced that the term “harebrained” for dense individuals couldn’t possibly be correct!  You must mean HAIRbrained!  As in a brain the size and thickness of a shaft of HAIR!

***

Brer Rabbit comes down to us through West Africa, the Gullah, Black slaves, the white man Joel Chandler Harris who published his stories into a book, and the Disney studio, who in 1946 made the stories into a motion picture called Song of the South.  The different tellings and different tellers have all added layers to this melting pot of a story, and I do mean melting.  Because these days, our image of Brer Rabbit is not dictated by one or the other, but is rather a creolization, a cycle of imitation, reflection, and reiteration.  Now, I was about to say, as dictionary.com says, that “harebrained” is to be giddy or reckless, and that Brer Rabbit is neither of those things.  But, perhaps in the imaginations of the youth more exposed to cartoons than Joel Chandler Harris, Brer Rabbit is a fool, though he was never one to me.  But I digress.  To clear things up I felt the need to go beyond the internet crutch that is dictionary.com and Google the term.  [I know, you’re thinking, well what did that take, an entire click of the tab key?].  But I did, and I was enlightened.  For “Bartleby,” [like the Scrivner?  I love Melville] the online version of the American Heritage Dictionary, lays it all out for us.  

Their definition is “foolish; flighty,” which is consistent with dictionary.com BUT interestingly enough, ADH provides some historical context:  

USAGE NOTE: The first use of harebrained dates to 1548. The spelling hairbrained also has a long history, going back to the 1500s when hair was a variant spelling of hare. The hair variant was preserved in Scotland into the 18th century, and as a result it is impossible to tell exactly when people began writing hairbrained in the belief that the word means “having a hair-sized brain” rather than “with no more sense than a hare.” While hairbrainedcontinues to be used and confused, it should be avoided in favor ofharebrained which has been established as the correct spelling.

 

It appears that the term hair/hare -brained PRE-dates our furry friend of the middle passage.  According to AHD, my Scottish ancestors, who immigrated to the New World in the 17th century, were still using the spelling “hairbrained” well into the 18th century! AND they may have believed that the word means “having a hair-sized brain!!!”

I am vindicated of my ignorance.  Saddleshoos triumphs again! [Draft version…Saddleshoos to explore European/white/Scottish ancestry, intersection with African cultures, creolization, narrative, etc. to follow on a non-school night]

***

Please investigate the Gullah, Joel Chandler Harris, the book called Jump! The Adventures of Brer Rabbit, Jump! the album by Van Dyke Parks, and the illustrations of Barry Moser.

 

 

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