Thursday, April 17, 2014

Here is the lovely, pensive, introspective "Wild Garlic" by Colour Sun...

...perfect for a warmish but still slightly cool spring morning...

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

BEAUTY: Men--The Evolutionary Beard

A report from the BBC indicates that the cycle of popularity between clean shaven faces and bearded faces has an evolutionary root! Who knew?
Original scientific research published here.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Not Outward Appearance, But Inward Significance

“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things,
but their inward significance.”


Top to bottom: Brad Pasutti, Bachanal Before A Herm; Elizabeth Schuppe, Softly In The Grass; Federico Infante, Pathology of Nowhere 2; Jennifer Febbraro, Missing Children

Monday, April 14, 2014

"Translations of my Postcards" by Michael Ondaatje

In honor of National Poetry Month, here is "Translations of my Postcards" by Michael Ondaatje.

Translations of my Postcards

the peacock means order
the fighting kangaroos mean madness
the oasis means I have struck water

positioning of the stamp — the despot’s head
horizontal, or ‘mounted policemen’,
mean political danger

the false date means I
am not where I should be

when I speak of the weather
I mean business

a blank postcard says
I am in the wilderness

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Just watched...

...Wes Anderson's absolutely charming "The Grand Budapest Hotel."

A Wes Anderson film is usually a cross between some kind of fairy tale and a piece of literature that is equal parts tragedy and straight-faced comedy. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” does not disappoint in that regard. It is rife with all of the Anderson-isms which make his films so charming, memorable, and special. But in it we have the added bonuses of a crime mystery, and an adventure story!

First, it might be helpful to clarify that the Budapest part of “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is not meant to be the actual city of Budapest. It is simply the name of the hotel where the tale takes place. And this fictional hotel is located high in the snowy Alps, in the fictional country of Zubrowka.

Much like Anderson’s previous film “The Royal Tennenbaums” (a book motif runs through that film: we see pages of a book open on to chapters, the first few sentences of which describe the action we are about to see; and most of the characters in that film are authors, academics or playwrights), “The Grand Budapest Hotel” owes a great deal to literature and a literary ideal. Indeed, it is presented as a story within a story within a story within a story. Anderson, in the credits, says the film is inspired by the work of Austrian author Stefan Zweig (1881 - 1942), who used this device in many of his short stories, and in particular his novel BEWARE OF PITY.

A young girl in the present visits a monument to The Author in an unidentified Eastern European city, and sits to read a chapter of his book he wrote about The Grand Budapest Hotel. We go back in time to 1985 to see The Author before his death, about to read his story to a video camera. Then another jump back in time to 1968 when he visited the Grand Budapest and met the owner of the establishment; the owner related a fantastical adventurous story to the author. And in our final jump back in time, we see our main story itself, set in 1932. It’s a touching device that suggests the imperceptible ways our stories live on, the way we touch other lives without knowing or even guessing that we ever could.

Once we are safely ensconced in 1932, we follow the concierge of The Grand Budapest, one Gustave H, through his exploits of loving a coterie of older women who come to stay at The Grand Budapest, many of them solely to spend time with Gustave. An untimely death, a police chase, good guys/bad guys, pre-World War II references to Fascism/Nazism and the looming ethnic cleansing, a love story, a smattering of slapstick, delectable pastries reminiscent of Ladurée, and the pastry colored hotel itself are swirled together in a delightful, fast-paced fable/fictional memoir.

The cast couldn’t be more stellar: Ralph Fiennes, Adrian Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Edward Norton, F. Murray Abraham, Jude Law, Harvey Keitel, Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, a nearly unrecognizable Tilda Swinton, Owen Wilson, Bob Balaban, Tony Revolori, and Saoirse Ronan. All the details are stunning, as they are in every Anderson film. The production design is exquisite (marvelous color palette and costume design) and the period details are correct without being “only” a period film. Anderson’s colors, fable-like syntax, and highly stylized framing (see the wonderful Kogonanda video survey below) keeps it in Anderson-land. He manages to create entire, self-referencing worlds that run on their own internal logic; a satisfying and monumental feat for any artist in any medium.

Recommend? Yes. It is a fun romp with a sort of melancholy, unsettling core. Anderson’s vision is a quirky one to most people, so understand that you are going to see a unique experience, one that is not easily categorized or identified.

And from Kogonada, we get a glimpse of the exquisite Anderson framing.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

"Odyssey" by Dream Koala


Inspired by a dream of dying in a plane crash:
"What if there's no tomorrow?"

The plaintive repetition of the word "tomorrow" at 3:13 is  just chilling and heartbreaking...

Nineteen-year old Dream Koala (née Yndi Ferreira, Brazilian-born, raised in Paris), says of his music in an interview with Jacob Brown for VOGUE, "I love when music makes you feel like you’re in another dimension, when it transports you somewhere else, like a dream."

But even more importantly, when asked about the extraordinary video, he revealed, "I wrote this song when I woke up from a dream where I was dying in a plane crash. It’s about the fear of not reaching your goals, the fear to die without realizing your dreams. In the lyrics I say, 'All these landscapes / I wish I had seen.' So what we see in the video is the whole world representing 'these landscapes.' It is somewhere between dream and reality, between death and life. I didn’t want to put a character in it because I wanted people to feel like they were the main character. When I met Adrien Peze and Albin Merle, the two guys who made the video, I told them that I wanted the video to be like if Terrence Malick’s 'Tree of Life' was mixed with the work of Hayao Miyazaki and Moebius, and they made it happen."

A nineteen-year old who references Terrence Malick, Miyazaki, and Moebius?
Wow, indeed...

For those unfamiliar, I reviewed Malick's "The Tree of Life" in a past post here.

Friday, April 11, 2014

"We're Not Lost"

In honor of National Poetry Month, here is my poem "We're Not Lost":

We're Not Lost

This California cliff road holds a guard rail,
winds its way round, left to right, and down,
delicately balanced at the edge of the continent.
Strands of sunlight suspended over water,
a tender voice whispers secrets from behind a curtain cloud.
It makes us weep.
Final, bright, awake,
irrevocably here.

©JEF 2012

An here is the soundtrack to this poem. It sounds like what the poem feels like for me.

"I'm Lost" by Noble Oak

Day of Silence 2014

The Day of Silence is a student-led national event that brings attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying, violence, and harassment in schools. Students from middle school to college take a vow of silence in an effort to encourage schools and classmates to address the problem of anti-LGBT behavior by illustrating the silencing effect of bullying and harassment on LGBT students and those perceived to be LGBT.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

"Good Mistake" by Mr. Little Jeans

Mr. Little Jeans (the nom de musique of Norwegian singer Monica Birkenes) singing "Good Mistake" with a fascinating video...

BEAUTY: Graphic Design--Witchoria

Humorous but true graphic design by Brooklyn-based Witchoria.

Monday, April 7, 2014

"Child" by Jacek Gutorow

In honor of National Poetry Month, here is "Child" by Polish poet Jacek Gutorow.


Joy thinks I’m on its side
when I run through a snowy field
but death keeps its eyes open
and looks into my right pocket
where a plastic airplane
flies and flies in a clenched fist.

(Translation by Piotr Florczyk)

"When The Night" by St. Lucia

Still in a St. Lucia groove...

Friday, April 4, 2014

"Ghosts of Winter"

In honor of National Poetry Month, here is my poem "Ghosts of Winter":

Ghosts of Winter

When rain drops sleep,
they dream they are snowflakes,
spiky ghosts swirling, snagging,
in a blue wash of light.
Phantom shards talking, singing
in haunted vapor tones,
bringers, bestowers, companions of frost,
echoes of an Ice Age,
crystallized resurrection,
harbingers of its return.

When snowflakes sleep,
they dream of glaciers,
paralyzed water,
a cracking, spreading sheet
seizing our freshly silent world,
hail-hammered, hushed,
encased in a bubble of glass.

©JEF 2014

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

National Poetry Month 2014

April is National Poetry Month! Sponsored by the Academy of American Poets, this year's poster for the celebration features heart-stopping lines from "Song of Myself" by Walt Whitman.

This month:
Read your favorite poet again.
Read some new poetry. Find a new favorite poet.
Write some poetry.
Leave poems for people to find in public places.
Read poetry out loud to family and friends.
Dream a poem.

And April 24th, 2014 is Poem In Your Pocket Day. According to the Academy of American Poets, "The idea is simple: select a poem you love during National Poetry Month then carry it with you to share with co-workers, family, and friends."

I'll be posting poems, some by me, some by others, during the month.

And to kick it off, here is the appropriately titled "April" by Jean Valentine.


Suppose we are standing together a minute
on the wire floor of a gasenwagon:
suppose we are in the dark.

It's warm and dry.
We have food.
We aren't in hiding waiting, mostly
we're sitting in our own light rooms.

Come over, bring things: bring
milk, peanut butter,
your pills, your woolens, crayons.

Nuns pray.
Snow. It's dark.
Pray for our friends who died
last year and the year
before and who will die this year.

Let's speak,
as the bees do.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Preparing for Day of Silence 2014

I am not sure how many high school or middle school students stop by "Oh, By The Way," but if you are a student, please consider joining the Day of Silence on April 11th, 2014. And if you are an adult who knows a teen, especially a gay teen, who might benefit from this, please pass it along. The event is also observed on college campuses.

The Day of Silence started eighteen years ago as a way to protest bullying, harassment, and attacks on LGBT students in schools. In recent years, the destructive Radical Christian Agenda has attempted to thwart or stop this student outreach, essentially claiming that it is their religious right to harass, harm, and attack human beings for being gay. Because of this, it is even more important to counteract such hurtful, hateful, backward beliefs. A religious freedom is a personal choice, not a ticket to ostracize, punish, intimidate, shame, or attack (mentally, psychologically, socially, verbally, OR physically) another person.

According to the GLSEN website's FAQ section about the Day of Silence, "GLSEN’s 2009 National School Climate Survey found that nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT students report verbal, sexual or physical harassment at school and more than 30% report missing at least a day of school in the past month out of fear for their personal safety. Moreover, two of the top three reasons students said their peers were most often bullied at school were actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender expression, according to From Teasing to Torment: School Climate in America, a 2005 report by GLSEN and Harris Interactive. Thus, the Day of Silence helps bring us closer to making anti-LGBT bullying, harassment and name-calling unacceptable in America’s schools."

I am posting this ahead of the date so there is time to plan. To organize a Day of Silence in a school or to learn how to participate, please visit the GLSEN website linked below. If you register your participation at the site, GLSEN gets an accurate count of how many people support the event itself.

Friday, March 28, 2014


I just booked tickets to see Kate Bush, live on stage, on Saturday September 27th, at the Hammersmith Apollo in London, performing her Before The Dawn tour, previously here. I got up at 2AM Pacific time, an hour ago, to make sure I could purchase tickets on-line when they went on sale at 9:30 GMT... before they sold out.

I am still shaking a little, and have received my email confirmation already, so I can breathe easier.
It is very hard to describe what this means to me, and I am sure a lot of people out there won't understand or may simply view this as another rock concert by some singer or other. But I have been a Kate Bush fan since I saw her on "Saturday Night Live" in 1978. As her albums became increasingly more complex, more emotional, more experimental (for lack of a better word) and the lyrical content became more involved with psychology, inner worlds, metaphysics, a sense of personal spirituality and mysticism, much of it inspired by literature, art, and film, I became more of a fan. Her concerns resonated with me. In a way, she created her own, vast mythology. Her album "The Dreaming" was a major force for me, not only musically, but in a much broader artistic sense, with its stories of Aboriginal Dreamtime, magical human to animal transformation, the disastrous effects of colonization and war on indigenous cultures, and the grander concepts of love and loss set against a fictionalized account of famed magician Houdini's death. She heavily used a synthesizer that was new at the time, called the Fairlight, which was one of the first digital samplers. But true to form, Kate used it in startlingly new and inventive ways.

And of course her follow up, "The Hounds of Love," contains what I consider to be her masterpiece, a concept suite called "The Ninth Wave" which is a devastating story about the experience of a young girl who fell through the ice while skating, and her near-death (or actual death depending upon how one interprets the story). It is profound, moving, and sweeping in scope... so far beyond what any mere "pop" or rock music or musician can usually accomplish.

With each successive release, Kate has never failed to capture profound moments (listen/watch and read the lyrics for her song "Moments of Pleasure"), and the absolute cosmic joy and tragedy of being alive in this reality. Hers is a special mind and heart and talent, and I am beyond moved that I am going to actually see and hear her play these songs which have such lives of their own, songs that reverberate out through time.

It is 3:30AM and I am heading back to bed to dream of this September when I will be mere yards from Kate, sharing her genius with us. Thank you Kate, for coming back to the stage after so long away (35 years). You certainly did not have to tour since you are THE Kate Bush, a legend... but I am supremely glad you did. I never thought I would see you live, so this is, to sound corny, a dream come true. See you in September.

Kate Bush is magic. Kate Bush taught me how to fly.

UPDATE: According to the BBC, The Telegraph and The Independent, all 22 nights sold out in under fifteen minutes. I feel doubly lucky to have tickets.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The World of Impulse and Dream

“We have learned that beneath the surface of an ordinary everyday normal casual conscious existence there lies a vast dynamic world of impulse and dream, a hinterland of energy which has an independent existence of its own and laws of its own: laws which motivate all our thoughts and our actions.”
--Robert Edmond Jones

Monday, March 24, 2014

BEAUTY: Men--Eyes Part 2

Big, blue, brown, hazel, green...
Gorgeous eyes...

Sunday, March 23, 2014

BEAUTY: Painting--Michael Ward

Michael Ward lives in Costa Mesa and paints spectacular, quintessential images of Southern California. You can just feel the warmth and hear the breeze rustle the palm fronds... amid a kind of surreal Lynchian/Angelino decay...

Top to bottom: Bonito Court; Park Free For Penney's; Long Beach #1; Rollin' Down Pico; Long Beach House #3; The 99; Pink Apartments; Twilight of Empires; Dusk

Saturday, March 22, 2014


OH MY GOD! After 35 years, the iconic, legendary Kate Bush, CBE, is going to play a series of live shows! This is phenomenal and so unexpected--a true once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I mean, seriously, this is a huge, huge, huge, huge, HUGE, HUGE deal. You must understand that this is like getting one more chance to see John, Paul, Ringo, and George play live!

She is booked for 15 nights at the Hammersmith Apollo (formerly the Hammersmith Odeon) in London where she played a series of dates 35 years ago. Tickets go on sale March 28th: see the screen cap from Kate's website below.

There is already some speculation about the title of the show, and the promotional shot you see above which is eerily reminiscent of the photo that accompanied her profound masterpiece, "The Ninth Wave" from her album "The Hounds of Love." Will she be playing "The Ninth Wave?" Will she play old hits? Newer songs? Both?

I am sure the tickets will sell out in mere minutes. And we should be hearing about the concert, along with pictures and videos, after the fact.

Thank you Kate, for deciding to come back to the stage! Break a leg!

Kate Bush is magic. Kate Bush taught me how to fly.

UPDATE: Because of heavy demand, as would be expected, Kate has added seven nights to the already full tour, bringing her engagement to 22 nights! She is now playing to October 1st.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Happy Spring Equinox 2014!

Happy Spring (or Vernal) Equinox! Today our planet is upright on its axis, producing a night and day of equal length. And it is the official start of Spring. Enjoy!

Photo by JEF

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Evolution Really Happened

I am currently watching the new "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey" with astrophysicist Neil de Grasse Tyson on the National Geographic Channel, a follow up to the original "Cosmos: A Personal Voyage" with Carl Sagan. This new version is produced by Seth MacFarlane and Ann Druyan who is Sagan's widow.
Such a worthy show... both of them.