Saturday, May 23, 2009

Carousel: in an effort to forget less

Carousels for me rouse a nostalgia that is borne both of the iconic images of the ride, and by the personal memories I have associated with them.

When I was barely 13, a boy with a blond mohawk - who had recently burrowed his way into my young heart - and I went for a bike ride. It was a weekday afternoon. We rode from our school in the upper reaches of the city down the spine of Central Park. Not quite sure if we were on a date, we stopped at the carousel, enclosed in its brick facade as though the horses might run wild if there were no walls to prevent them.

Strangely the actors Danny DeVito and Rita Perlman were sitting on the nearby benches. They seemed trustworthy as we saw them on television regularly. We asked them to watch our bikes, which they agreed to, and we on our unsure date went to ride the painted ponies.

Years later in a short film I made, my father is riding a carousel in the south of France. It is three summers before he died. The image is indistinct and washed out, and he turns away from the camera just before I am able to adjust the focus. As the leader on the film runs out, it mimics the color of the horses. Red, orange, yellow, black in a blur.

Friday, March 6, 2009

the photographs I have not taken

On a recent work trip to Nicaragua, my still camera remained primarily in my bag, though my eyes remained open.

Photographs I did not take:

Two women cooking outside at night, I can only make out the edges of their forms behind the smoke that pours from the grill. They are laughing full belly laughs.

Shirtless boy-men washing rows of shiny minibuses in the late afternoon sun.

The young man and woman on the bus in front of me. They both wear the light blue starched uniforms of the National Police. She carries the infant, and he carries the diaper bag. I imagine that they never take their uniforms off. That they met in them, made love in them, conceived this child in them. One day I think, this child will wear the uniform.

Soft volcanic waters lapping at my legs, the wind wild through the trees, the strains of Galileo and his dark sky struggling to be seen in the moonlight.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Slices of paradise

We crossed California, Nevada, and Arizona arriving in the dark at the tower on the Crawford's Garlic Farm in the paradisical town of Dixon, New Mexico. The snow on the garlic fields illuminated our way up to the stone and adobe tower.

This town has everything that one needs and nothing more. A river that runs through it, a righteous community radio station, a local library, a food co-op - entirely volunteer run, and a post office. Every other day we would take the 3 mile round trip walk to the library or co-op, feeding apples to the dalmation horse with the one blue and one brown eye, on the way.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

When i wake the smell of beans roasting

I had been dreaming of her for years, a coffee robot that would wake before I do and have the coffee hot and piping. I finally found her in San Francisco, and though this one seems more designed for tea, I'm sure she'll learn to make a mean cup of joe.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


"Full fathom five thy father lies,
Of his bones are coral made,
Those are pearls that were his eyes,
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea change,
into something rich and strange,
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell,
Hark! now I hear them, ding-dong, bell."
- The Tempest

Upon the death of her comrade Elizabeth Cady Staton, Susan B. Anthony lamented
"I am all at sea -but the laws of nature are still going on with no shadow of turning".

I have been pondering the sea as of late. It all began with a failed grant proposed to the Jerome Foundation requesting funds to sail to the antarctic to re-trace Captain James Cooks' search for the mythical Southern Continent. And though this dream still slogs along, I have meanwhile set my sights closer to home and now simply take long walks along the harbor considering the history and nature of sea voyage and all those that have been sea changed.

On a recent outing with my mother, the lovely Carol Kahn, I visited the Met for a show on Beyond Babylon. The show traces the networks of trade and the movement of lusciously obscene precious materials (I must get one of those hammered out gold headpieces inlaid with lapis lazuli for my next party) from Syria, Mesopotamia and Egypt in the South to Anatolia, the Caucasus, and Greece in the North. The heart of the show is the Uluburun Shipwreck - a ship that went down off the coast of Turkey about 3400 years ago.

The ship carried goods from 12 cultures. Here is a partial list of some of the finds dredged up from the bowels of the sea by the Institute of Nautical Archaeology between 1985 and 1994.

Copper, tin, and glass ingots,

gold falcon pendant,

gold goddess pendant,

ostrich eggs and gold ostrich eggshell

A gold chalice,

Accreted mass of tiny faience beads

1 ton of terebinth resin for perfumes, in Canaanite jars

Acorns, almonds, figs, olives, pomegranates (ok these weren’t really dredged up – but they were stored on the ship and they do sound tasty)

Elephant and hippopotamus ivory

One large jar of carefully packed Cypriot pots

Wide mouthed jugs

Clay lamps

A bronze pin with globular head (A personal favorite of mine)

A gold scarab bearing the name of Nefertiti

6 european style spearheads.

A sword of Itlaian Origin

A ceremonial Axe

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Even though you are in Paris, I am not jealous

A photograph for my favorite sisters, Janelle and Lisa, who are eating tarts and arm wrestling in Paris.

Taken at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco shortly before being reprimanded by the guard for taking photographs.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The lastmaker

I begin this blog in celebration of a performance I went to tonight in NYC at PS 122. The Lastmaker, the last performance of the Goat Island Group who have been collaborating for 20 years.. Magically they wove together riveting repetitive movement, St. Francis of Assisi, Lenny Bruce, the words of shoemakers, Emily Dickinson and music played on a saw, all the whilst building a small replica of the Hagia Sophia conceptually.

The last shot, though it was live theater, I will long remember it as if it were a film with a last shot -
Two planks of wood, approx. 1 ft. x 8ft a piece, overlapped in a V shape so that they meet at one corner. They are held up by 3 step stools, a performer at each edge of the planks. The first holds a pair of shoes in her hand, the second a hand-saw in his, and the third holds the central dome of the Hagia Sophia. Puff the Magic dragon plays and like a woodland sprite, Matthew Goulish, soliloquies. As I write about it can sound like nonsense, or madsense, but it was strangely blissful and full of sense. An elegy to labor, loss and love and all the vagaries between.