Friday, September 23, 2016


Funny. But true.

Save the day: as in "mark that day on your calendar because you will have something important to do," but also as in "rescue something before it is destroyed."

Help to rescue us all from a megalomaniacal, lying, thieving, swindling, bigoted, ruthless, brutal, oppressive, petulant, sociopathic, greedy, callous, con man. Please vote.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Happy Autumnal Equinox 2016

Today is the official start of autumn, when our planet begins to tilt the other direction, tipping the northern hemisphere away from the sun. The days grow shorter, nights grow longer, as we move indoors and into ourselves for hibernation and introspection. Autumn is a time of harvest as the earth moves into hibernation as well. It is a beautiful time, a spiritual transition, a doorway between summer and winter.


(And for my friends Down Under, Happy Spring!)

Happy Birthday, "Oh, By The Way!" 2016

Congratulations "Oh, By The Way," you are seven years old today!

Seven years ago, I had a dream in which I started a blog called “Oh, By The Way.” When I woke up that morning, I went to the computer and promptly started a blog called “Oh, By The Way.” Seriously--it was the first thing I did that morning, and yes, I often act out in waking life things I have dreamt.

"Oh, By The Way" is my digital scrap book of things I like, things I would share with a close friend and say: “Oh, by the way, do you know of this artist/ clothing or interior designer/ model/ singer/ actor/ gorgeous man… or, have you seen this video/ photo/ film... or heard (or do you remember) this song/ band... or, read this book/ poem/ inspiring quote... or, visited this place/ restaurant/ famous building... or, have you heard of this amazing new scientific discovery?”

And what have people responded to the most over the last seven years? Here are the Top Ten posts ranked by individual pageviews:
1) A post about Nick Wooster earned 60,367 pageviews
2) My essay about Kate Bush's phenomenal "The Ninth Wave" comes in at a whopping 15,401 pageviews (This post also has the distinction of receiving the most reader comments!)
3) The handsome Aaron Taylor Johnson was the subject of a post in 2012 that comes in at 14,922 pageviews
4) Visitors enjoyed seeing a shirtless Jared Leto in a double wrap belt to the tune of 10,123 pageviews
5) Silver-haired male model Andy Lucchesi was ogled 7,191 times...
6) ...and those who appreciate mature men with silver hair visited my "Silver Is In" page 7,120 times
7) A page featuring Sylvia Ji's artwork inspired by the Mexican Día de los Muertos festival racked up 6,921 pageviews
8) Oddly, a whimsical page about cookies (Lorna Doone, Ladyfinger, Madeleine) was seen 6,825 times
9) A post about holiday wreaths made out of old glass ornaments came up with 6,740 pageviews
10) And finally, a post about the Vatican Fashion Show segment from Fellini's amazing "Roma" film got 6,698 pageviews
Who knew?

Followers and regular readers: thank you so much! I hope you find this blog fascinating, beautiful, interesting, moving, inspiring, informative, and uplifting. Welcome to the birthday party. I'm serving several virtual dessert choices this year: lavender ice cream...

...Meyer lemon meringue tarts...

...or chocolate soufflé. Please allow up to 30 minutes for the soufflé...get your order in early. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Currently watching...

..."Better Things" on FX.

Created by series star Pamela Adlon and Louis C.K., "Better Things" feels like an extension of C.K.'s marvelous FX show, "Louie"--in fact, Adlon was a series regular on "Louie." They both share the same awkward, sometimes bizarre, engrossing-yet-anxious style of comedy, and they both feature stories, scripts, and performances that are at once comedy, black comedy, and poignant, penetrating moments of reality. It's a hard balancing act and C.K. achieved it brilliantly on his own show, and the pair do it here effortlessly. There have only been two shows broadcast so far, and one can feel the quality and import in every second. Although the show is rooted in a "situation" and comes in a thirty-minute format, it feels light years away from a typical "situation comedy."

Adlon is Sam Fox, a divorced mother of three girls and a struggling actress who was once, apparently, a child/teen star. Her life in Los Angeles is fraught with all the same things the rest of us suffer, but she must wade through the ignominies of the entertainment industry as well (and I can say that from experience, having waded--and continue to wade--through the business myself, a little worse for the wear). The rest of the cast, especially the young girls, seem extremely capable and talented, but it's Adlon's show. And she is marvelous. Funny yes, but also so touching and tender.

Recommend? YES! Especially if you liked "Louie"--hurry and catch the third episode!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Friday, September 16, 2016

BEAUTY: Painting--Elly Smallwood

Elly Smallwood's engaging, dynamic, large scale portraits are full of color and gestures that render them near-abstract. What's fascinating is how she zeroes in on a part of the face like the nose and lips or just eyes, creating a kind of creepy hyper-attention to a detail to which we normally do not pay such close attention.

Top to bottom: Alistair II; Head Study (Mike); In The Forest; Portrait In Pink And Black; Self Portrait (With Palette); Untitled In Umber; Untitled (Portrait Of My Father)

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Secret In The Mirror by Albert Rios

The Secret In The Mirror
by Alberto Rios

The mirror is dirty from the detritus of dailiness—
I look in the mirror and am freckled.

A week out from being cleaned, maybe two, maybe more,
The Milky Way shows itself in the secret silver,

This star chart in my own bathroom,
Aglow not in darkness but with the lights on,

Everything suddenly so clear.
It is not smear I am looking at, but galaxies.

It is not toothpaste and water spots—
When I look in the mirror, it is writing and numbers,

Musical notes, 1s and 0s, Morse-like codes, runes.
I am looking over into the other side,

And over there, whoever they are, it turns out
They look a lot like me. Like me, but freckled.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

CATS in The Tube

The daily onslaught of advertising and intrusive imagery in our current society can be overwhelming so to combat that, a group calling themselves Citizens Advertising Takeover Service (or CATS) under the auspices of Glimpse purchased 68 advertising sections of wall space at the Clapham Common subway station in London. And now this Tube station has been taken over by cats: sweetly, many of the felines for this respite from visual pollution are stray cats from two rescue charities, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, and Cats Protection. CATS have brought attention to the worthwhile cause of animal adoption but their ultimate goal on a much larger platform is to bring about general social change via creative campaigns. I say "Well done, CATS!"

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Happy Birthday, Yma Sumac!

Today would have been Yma Sumac's 94th birthday (if one is to believe varying accounts of her birth). Hailing from Peru, with the claim of being an Incan princess related to Atahualpa (the last sovereign emperor of the Inca Empire), Sumac moved to America in the 1940s and became a singing sensation in the world of "Exotica" music, a genre named after the 1957 Martin Denny album of the same title, popular during the 1950s to mid-1960s. Sumac possessed an impressive five-octave vocal range, able to sing as a low baritone or as a soprano. There was a great "lounge music" resurgence in the late 80's and early 90s, and along with it, a revival of Exotica, which is where I found her...

Happy birthday, Yma!

Thursday, September 8, 2016


"Well...that's not supposed to do that!"

GIFs by Nicolas Monterrat aka Un GIF Dans Ta Geuele

Monday, September 5, 2016

Currently listening to...

...the live version of "Future Lovers" by Madonna. I seem to be stuck on this song...

First of all, the song itself--even the studio version--is pulsing, mesmerizing, hypnotizing...ecstatic. The key and the musical arrangement are arresting, gripping. Even though it is ostensibly about leaving behind this reality ("I'm gonna tell you about love/ Let's forget your life/ Forget your problems/ Administration, bills, and loans/ Come with me") there is a delicious abstract sense about the following repeated phrase, like a mantra or ritual praise, "In the evidence of its brilliance." What possesses this brilliance? That is the unspoken core she is singing of--perhaps a place in some kind of shimmering future, a place beyond words, a place, as Rumi said, "beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing." Indeed, she next sings, "In the demonstration of this evidence/ Some have called it religion/ This is not a coincidence/ Would you like to try?"

Peak experience? A transcending altered consciousness? The sinking, thrilling sensation of being--finally--separated from your body outside of time? Regular readers of OBTW might recognize these ideas as recurring themes of the art, films, music, and literature I share with you, and as a motif in my own original writing and poetry (usually featured here in April for National Poetry Month). These ideas are "the evidence of its brilliance." Its brilliance: you can't see it without it destroying you. You can't be near it without becoming it. Words cannot be used to describe something beyond words. Images cannot be employed to show something that is beyond the physical. All we can do is feel it, follow it parallel, and intone endlessly, "In the evidence of its brilliance."

But back to our powerful performance at hand: Madonna opened every concert for her 2006 Confessions Tour with this piece of stunning performance art. The equestrian theme somehow blends beautifully--perhaps because the music is so pounding and relentless, like a horse at full gallop. The tensions and anticipation building up to her entrance is palpable--she knows how to choreograph a moment. And giving a nod to the original inspiration to the song--the classic Euro-disco hit "I Feel Love" by Donna Summer--is a wonderful, dreamlike touch.

Here, listen to the studio version too: just as powerful...

In the evidence of its brilliance.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Just finished watching...

...the first season of the Netflix original series "Stranger Things."

This delightful, spooky, horror/sci-fi original Netflix series debuted in July and has gained quite a following. And once you see it, it is easy to understand why. "Stranger Things" was created by twins the Duffer Brothers, born in 1984. They have a great nostalgia for the pop culture and films of their childhood so "Stranger Things," with its marvelous retro-synthesizer theme and soundtrack, is set in 1983 and on the surface is a clear, ringing homage to the films and works of Steven Spielberg (particularly "E.T." and "The Goonies"), John Carpenter, Stephen King, and George Lucas. Even the title font looks exactly like something one would find in a George Lucas film. But storywise, the series actually stands on its own quite well.

The show concerns itself with a small town in Indiana where a young boy has disappeared under odd circumstances. Add in his remaining three friends trying to solve the mystery of his absence (like the four friends in "The Goonies") and the discovery of a young girl with paranormal abilities whom they hide in a basement (reminiscent of how the kids hid E.T.), a nefarious covert agency, and you have the recipe for an intriguing saga. Each episode moves along at a great pace and the cast (Winona Ryder as the mother of the young missing boy, David Harbour as the sheriff of the town, Finn Wolfhard and Gaten Matarazzo and Caleb McLaughlin as the trio trying to find their friend, and Millie Bobby Brown as a spooky girl with unimaginable powers) is great, throwing themselves into whatever needed to be done to tell this story.

Recommend? Yep, it's great fun, and if you were around for the original sources of inspiration, you'll have even more fun. And Netflix just greenlighted season two!!!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

BEAUTY: Mixed Media--Turiya Magadlela

These fun, colorful pieces by South African artist Turiya Magadlela utilize nylon and cotton pantyhose and fishnet stockings on canvas with sealant. I love the palette, and the unexpected material which, according to the artist, speaks to a more weightier and profound idea: the "fragility, transparency, beauty, pain, distortions and liberations of a woman." Magadlela won the prestigious FNB Art Prize last year and this year exhibited work at The Armory in New York City.