Monday, April 30, 2012

The Last Day of National Poetry Month

In honor of the last day of National Poetry Month, I present a handful of poems...

Ocean Altar

We must
gather up
pieces of the beach
and make an altar.

Abalone shells
and sea weed,
pieces of the boat
that wrecked
on the rocks,
nails and screws
and boards
and the engine
and the bullet
that shot the captain.

©JEF 1985

The Widow's House

The widow lives in
spidery sticks
and crab apples
split with age.

A maze of memorabilia,
music boxes that play
Irish jigs or
funeral marches
sit on hundreds of tables,
round, knee-high,
spun with ancient,
yellowed doilies.

Chipped china cups
hold brews of
pine nuts and birch bark
or fern spores and lichen.

The vultures in the basement
hide hunched and still,
leftovers of a
taxidermied marriage.

©JEF 1986

My Thing

It longs to be
in the midst of things,
to let loose its
heart-stopping vibrato
but, fearing for its safety,
I make it stay in a box.
Sometimes I hear it
crying in
the middle of the night.
On sunny days
I take it outside.
It sits quivering,
blinking and raw,
still pretty,
still pink,
still wondering.

©JEF 1993

April is National Poetry Month!

BEAUTY: Tableaux

I adore tableaux and I love making them. It is a very important part of designing an interior. If you have created a nice space, tableaux are the final layer; they create interest, add color and texture, direct attention, and highlight areas that might otherwise go unnoticed. Without them, a room can feel unfinished or un-lived in. Sometimes I create tableaux here at home when I am feeling down... it makes me feel better!

The art of creating a tableau is part intuitive and part formula. I have written about this art before but in a nutshell: it is about contrast and balance. You want to put smooth next to rough, shiny next to matte, organic next to mad-made, vintage with new. A concentrated collection of like objects creates impact. Flowers or greens are always appropriate. Follow the rule of three. And vary height by using tall, medium, and low objects. If you have something that isn't high enough, but you want to use anyhow, be creative and find something that will work as a pedestal. A stack of hardcover books can add height in such a case. Finally, add one unexpected element. Move things around and play with your composition... because that is exactly what you are doing. You are curating a collection, you are composing a painting, you are making a sculpture.

By Thom Felicia

Photo by Roger Davies

By Gregory Mellor

Photo by David Prince

By Natalie Younger

By Erin Martin

By Jay Jeffers

By Jay Jeffers

By Tobi Fairley

BEAUTY: Men--The Roman Nose

I find a large nose, or "Roman nose" if you will, very sexy...

BEAUTY: Art--Lee Eunyeol

I was unsure of how to title this post... and I am still unsure of how to refer to it. Artist Lee Eunyeol layers electric light into landscapes and then takes night time photos of the results which are then displayed in galleries. Is it site specific art? Yes. Is it sculpture? Yes. Is it photography? Yes. All of the above.

And I have to say, squeezing lights into the cracks of a dry river bed is really inspired! It looks like the earth glows from the inside. After all, it does...

Lee Eunyeol has no website. Images from Colossal:

...But some are more equal than others...

On May 8th, North Carolina will vote on a truly unnecessary (the backward state ALREADY bans gay marriage), mean-spirited amendment to the state constitution, Amendment One. Not only is it a hateful, anti-gay amendment, it will deem any unmarried couple to be second-class citizens. There are forces working very hard to bring back the Dark Ages, and make us live in the Atwood dystopia The Republic of Gilead. Frightening.

If you live in North Carolina, please vote AGAINST this prejudicial and unjust amendment on May 8th. It is also the day of the Republican primary, but you do not have to be a Republican to vote; it is open to ALL registered voters.

The rest of the country is watching...

Images from Every1Against1

To learn more:

Equality North Carolina

Protect ALL NC Families

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Currently listening to...

...some wonderful Matt Alber tunes.

I love the bittersweet anthemic sound and lovely lyrics of "The Monarch."

Warm invitation
To breathe in my first breath
Shoulders sure are heavy
With these wings about to stretch

We're waking up, clinging to the rafters
Sensing summer winds are coming in
When just above me a hundred of my brothers
Are ready for this journey to begin

And then we're off, heading home now
And in my body there is buried some strange memory
Of how to fly, what to follow
And it will lead me to the origin of me

How long was I asleep?
All these colors opening like bright kaleidoscopes
Of waking dreams, you won't believe the view
I'm taking a dive into the crystal river
I'm gonna find a friend who gives
The sweetest kiss creation ever knew

Oh and when she blushes all the secrets in her eyes
Become the songs of old and wiser ones
Who flew this path before me
And if you hear it too, then why not sing it?
Pick up where they left off, wing it
The rest of them will marvel at the sky

And we're off, heading home now
And in my body there is buried some strange memory
Of how to fly, what to follow
And it will lead me to the origin of me

My mind has been lazily floating to "The Slow Club" most of today.

Lying in the half light, singing lullabies
Frozen by a reverie, unrecognized
Keeping with convention, I decline to hesitate
Rushing into everything but always running five minutes late
I barely know you, but baby would you mind
If we just meet at the Slow Club
Would you meet at the Slow Club

A phalanx of treadmills, try to keep up the pace
Front-running the hit parade keeps a smile on the face
With my favorite tee shirt I will try to turn your head
What makes me a better man can hardly be determined in bed
So what would happen instead
If we just meet at the Slow Club
Would you meet at the Slow Club

You could be good for me
If we take our time
I knew before the kiss
By the way you spend your sunshine

If we just meet at the Slow Club
Would you meet at the Slow Club

Matt Alber first came to my attention in 2008 with his absolutely beautiful, romantic song and video "The End Of The World."

BEAUTY: Sculpture

It seems like I have been running across a lot of site specific installations/large-scale sculptures recently. Here is a selection of some of the more interesting artists and pieces I have seen...

The beautiful nature-based work of German artist Cornelia Konrads loosens gravity, pries the pieces of wood and stone apart, and allows them to gently float up toward the sky. (Top to bottom: The Gate; Le Mur; Passage; Piled Forest)

Filthy Luker has been making humorous site specific works for some time. These are comical because of their incongruity,  not to mention scale!

Parisian artist Baptiste Dubombourg installed a site-specific piece in a Benedictine monastery, the Abbey Brauweiler in Germany. Entitled Aerial, the piece uses glass and the idea of windows to invoke images of tidal waves and slow moving glaciers.

The Nature of the Problem

Thursday, April 26, 2012


"The Boundaries which divide life from death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins?"
--Edgar Allan Poe

Poem In Your Pocket Day 2012

In celebration of National Poetry Month, today, April 26th 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. You can also share your poem selection on Twitter by using the hashtag #pocketpoem.

Poems from pockets will be unfolded throughout the day with events in parks, libraries, schools, workplaces, and bookstores.

Need a Poem for Your Pocket?

Along with your library, bookstore, or shelf at home, you can find the perfect poem for your pocket by browsing, or by signing up to receive a poem from new spring poetry titles each day during April."

This is the poem in my pocket today. I have loved this poem for many years.

how to build an owl
by Kathleen Lynch

1. decide you must

2. develop deep respect
    for feather, bone, claw

3. place your trembling thumb
    where the heart will be:
    for one hundred hours watch
    so you will know
    where to put the first feather

4. stay awake forever.
    when the bird takes shape
    gently pry open its beak
    and whisper into it: "mouse"

5. let it go

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


If you are in the UK, sign the petition!

Meanwhile, we can only hope that a similar ad might one day soon run here in the US.

iamamiwhoami: "idle talk"

I can't wait for the "kin" release to come out!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Just finished reading...

...THE LAST DAYS OF HAUTE CUISINE: AMERICA'S CULINARY REVOLUTION by chef-turned-author (and restaurant reviewer) Patric Kuh.

I am very interested in food: its tastes, flavors, textures, and ingredients. And I have always been interested in special cuisine and unusual dining experiences. I recall a meal I had with a dear friend many years ago, when I was in my early 20s, at an Ethiopian restaurant. We were seekers of taste, learning about the balance of savory and sweet/ hot and cold/ soft and crunchy, and had already worked our way through Moroccan, Indian, Italian and “nouvelle cuisine” (a local favorite of ours served a marvelous peanut butter and bacon pizza!). We would savor dishes, identifying herbs and spices so as to recreate these dishes at home. In this way, we refined our taste buds, honing in on and isolating tastes. So we found ourselves sitting in a darkened, atmospheric den listening to the lovely Amharic language coming from the kitchen which sounded like rain softly falling on the roof, and smelling fragrances both familiar and foreign... and we knew there was nowhere to go but deeper. During that meal, we discovered that basically, all world cuisine starts with the same building blocks, but each region distinguishes itself with spices. Sometimes one even finds the same set of spices from region to region, but each country or ethnicity manages to make it individual by the combination of spices and flavors, a little bit more of this taste, a little bit less of that taste.

I have sought out grander and grander food adventures over the years and have had the pleasure of dining at some of the most fascinating and unique places, some run by chefs of renown, like the legendary Cibreo run by bon vivant chef and author Fabio Picchi in Florence (Chef Picchi made me a parmesan flan with wild boar ragout that was one of the finest things I have ever tasted), or the private atelier of Dominique Bouchet in Paris (where Chef Bouchet prepared a beautiful five course lunch in front of us), or Le Versance in Paris which soars under the wild, entertaining imagination of chef Samuel Cavagnis, or rising star David Kinch’s excellent Manresa in Northern California (where I was served a mind-boggling—and delicious— amuse bouche: a sorrel sorbet floating in a juniper soda!), or chef and best-selling author Susan McKenna Grant's exquisite, glorious agriturismo La Petraia in the Tuscan countryside (where I have had several lunches full of seriously breathtaking ingredients right from the farm, served in stunning presentations), and of course, the little California Mission/Arts and Crafts cottage that started it all, Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse in North Berkeley, the gourmet ghetto of the West (I go here every year for my birthday).

And I am aware that such an interest in food is now “trendy” and I am aware that the slightly derogatory name slapped on me for my interest is “foodie,” sometimes uttered with a belittling sneer because my interest is seen as pretentious. But participation in the culinary world is as rewarding as seeing exciting new art, or watching a new film, or reading a book by a new provocative author. We all eat; why not eat something interesting?

So it was with great interest that I read THE LAST DAYS OF HAUTE CUISINE by Patric Kuh. The book details the shift in consciousness around food, from the days when haute cuisine was indeed haute, to our current attitude toward food, dining, and cuisine. At the turn of the century and well into the 1920s, 30s and 40s, the pinnacle of food was the French restaurant. This bastion of manners, social strata, and indecipherable menus (even for some who spoke French) was to demonstrate the superiority of French cooking. But after the war, into the 1950s and 60s, several individual phenomena sprouted and took root, changing how we eat forever. Post-war prosperity created a new class… the “Middle Class” who moved out to the suburbs, and had money to spend on products, homes, cars. Suddenly a whole new demographic could afford to eat out, and the tuxedoed men and fur-draped women, the very caricature of the wealthy straight out of a “Three Stooges” film, had to get used to sharing. But the codified and rarefied world these men and women were used to made no sense to the new comers. The restaurant world was forced to change, and those who did, thrived. Menus were no longer written in French, but English with a description of the dish itself, and not simply a region or name after it. Around the same time, Julia Child became a household name; true, she was advancing French cooking, but her passion lay in the simple rustic ingredients found in le pays, the French countryside. Indeed, the words simple, rustic, fresh came to exemplify this new way of thinking about and eating food. And out of the counter-culture revolution of Berkeley in the 1960s came a charming little experiment, Chez Panisse, run by utopian dreamers who had absolutely no chef training at all. Alice Waters had been to France and had fallen in love with, yes, the simple, rustic, fresh—and seasonal—way of eating and cooking. She and her band of merry cooks plowed head first into territory that was previously held behind a red velvet rope.

Kuh, knowledgeable and with good insight, outlines this change in culinary culture and gives us plenty of evidence to consider. People, places, cities, restaurants, chefs, and restaurant owners are recounted in this colorful history, and I learned a lot about the gastronomic revolution of the last fifty or sixty years. But Kuh tells this story out of order, jumping around, sometimes without any warning, shifting time and place. It is a little puzzling at times. This, coupled with the fact that Kuh’s prose is often clumsy, stilted, and sometimes unnecessarily circuitous (I found myself re-reading sentences over and over to glean his meaning), makes the book sticky and sluggish in places. He also populates this history of 20th century cuisine with anecdotes from his own personal history, which while charming on their own, only muddies the waters of the larger history. He did not have to choose between writing an historical documentary or a memoir; it is possible to incorporate both into an entertaining whole. I suspect he just doesn’t know how to do that. But don’t get me wrong… these things did not ruin the story for me. I still followed the history and am now all the more educated and enriched for it.

Recommend? Yes, I think so. If you are at all interested in restaurants and culinary culture/history, you will enjoy it. It is on the shorter side and a fairly quick read, so the cons I mentioned above are easily overlooked as you enjoy the pros.

BEAUTY: Installation--Markus Schinwald

Austrian artist Markus Schinwald's subtle, fascinating exhibition at last year's Venice Biennale.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Currently listening to...

...a Gotye festival. I have fallen in love with Wally De Backer, whose stage name is the phonetically spelled version of his French name, Gaultier (Go-tee-yay), or Walter.

Let's start with the Beatles-inspired "Easy Way Out." The video is marvelous: comic, but with a warning...

His hit "Somebody That I Used To Know," a duet with Kimbra, is a lovely, yearning song that features a beautiful video where Gotye and Kimbra are living canvases. Paint comes and goes according to the emotional status of their relationship.

I have to do it to you. Sorry. Here is "Bronte."
Read the words, listen to the song, watch the video. Let it happen to you. Go there. It will be okay.

Now your bowl is empty
And your feet are cold
And your body cannot stop rocking
I know
It hurts to let go

Since the day we found you
You have been our friend
And your voice still
Echoes in the hallways of this house
But now
It's the end

We will be with you
When you're leaving
We will be with you
When you go
We will be with you
And hold you till you're quiet
It hurts to let you go

We will be with you
You will stay with us

And I love Gotye even more now, after watching this fantastic mini-film about the making of his most recent release, "Making Mirrors."

"Portrait Of Anne Sexton"

In honor of National Poetry Month, here is my poem "Portrait of Anne Sexton":

Portrait Of Anne Sexton

You sat at forty-
three years of age
in white wicker
with your proper
Wellesley deportment,
serene as ice yet
still looking like
a young girl, tanned, freckled,
limber, freshly clean
after climbing trees.
You were taking sips of gin
between puffs on
a Pall Mall,
hands aristocratically poised
and draped like a
panther on a branch,
wearing a sleeveless
dress with a pleated
Mary Tyler Moore skirt,
the kind my mother
made for herself
from a Butterick pattern
bought at Woolworth’s
on a blinding summer day.
You covered that chair
like a cashmere sheet,
crossed your legs
like a woman in the
backseat of a Mercedes
driving through Beverly Hills
and posed nicely for the
picture, ready to let the
camera flatten you but
a strange heat radiated
from your eyes,
your smile that
remembered being a
speechless mannequin
modeling hats and dresses
and now said softly,
But it was for the book,
all for the book, that slim
safe home for the poems
you wanted so badly.
You wanted to go to them,
run to them, you would’ve
chewed your arm off to get
out of the trap and
flee toward them,
each one a baby
falling from the sky.
You set them up
in your room,
hooked to wires,
coaxing them like
tiny lab experiments.
When they convulsed,
you did too or
maybe you did first
and they followed,
imitating their savior,
their only god,
the one who purrs and
smells of gin.
You charted their growth:
which ones would live
and which would die?
So you sat
far from rain,
far from night
but only on the outside.
You couldn’t escape
the prison, the weekly,
daily rendings
that sent you reeling to
the sealed hotels,
where they showed you
home movies of the
cosmic despair of the universe
in the doorway of your room
on a white bed sheet
strung on rope
like drying laundry.
And you still saw it
after lights out,
after your release—
all you had to do
was close your eyes
and count the steps
from the wicker chair
to the tuna sandwich,
from the tuna sandwich
to the vodka,
from the vodka
to the garage
and to the ignition.

©JEF 1998

April is National Poetry Month!

One happy elephant...

Makes me giggle...

Does he ever get tired?
No. He does not.

...because in the end, it's all the same thing...

“Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.”
--Alan Watts

“There is neither happiness nor misery in the world; there is only the comparison of one state with another, nothing more. He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness.”
--Alexandre Dumas, from THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO

“The aim is to balance the terror of being alive with the wonder of being alive.”
--Carlos Castaneda

Sunday, April 22, 2012

I Cannot Help You

BEAUTY: Sculpture--Daniel Arsham

Daniel Arsham makes the walls of art galleries seemingly come alive and do things that walls shouldn't do.

Top to bottom: Floor Drip; Hammock; Hiding Figure; Mail Slot; Sheet; Vent Anomaly

BEAUTY: Art--Andy Kehoe

The charming/creepy work of Andy Kehoe is utterly fascinating. There is a certain Sendakian whimsy to the sense of his narratives (most of his pieces look as if they could accompany a children's book), but this lightness seems to be tempered with an Hierynomous Bosch-like menace with dark forests and creatures that seem to be hybrids of moose and salamanders with feathery, external gills.

For a laugh, check out his recommendations for enjoying his work: "Paintings best enjoyed with smile on face and bourbon in non-mouse hand. When possible, fill room with the smell of burnt gun powder and bacon. At least four gas lanterns recommended for lighting. Legs can either be crossed or uncrossed. Remove Shoes." But for a real hoot, check out the "About" section of his website!

Top to bottom: All Turns To Brilliance; Dark And Light Radiate The Night; Forever My Fellow; On The Banks Of Broken Words; Together At The Threshold