Friday, June 30, 2006

Fri. Oakland pictures

"India itself had a more sinister and depressing effect upon me than I would have thought possible. I was shocked by the misery of the emaciated figures, the joyless seriousness in their somber glances, the often cruel monotony of the landscape and, more than all else, the rigid division of classes and races…" Stefan Zweig World of Yesterday

Why pictures of Oakland? Becuase this city is so strange, than I feel the need to celebrate its paradox... The world should have an opportunity for a glimpse into this uncanny place.
This photo was taken on 45th St. between Lawton and Shafter or thereabouts. While I was waiting for this truck to go by, so I could take the picture, the driver yelled out, "Take my picture!" so I did.

Lewis Buzbee reading photos

As promised-- Lewis Buzbee! Reading at City Lights in North Beach on 6/27/2006 for his book, The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop

and you thought I was kidding about the bowling shirt-

The many little girls-- and C-span filming

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Book readings-

"One can readily understand my uneasiness at remaining in the dramatic field and the anxiety which ensued every time I presented a new piece to a theatre. The fact that the two greatest actors of Germany had died while rehearsing my verses made me (I am not ashamed to confess it) superstitious. " Stefan Zweig World of Yesterday

On Tues. (6/27) night I attended a book reading at the esteemed bookstore in North Beach, City Lights. I had earlier planned to go to a reading which took place on the same evening, in a bookstore in the Haight. The book is titled, Doing Nothing: A History of Loafers, Loungers, Slackers, and Bums in America by Tom Lutz; but in order to get to the Haight, I would have had to taken BART and a bus, and I just felt too slack- so I went to North Beach instead, and saw Lewis Buzbee present his The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop, which was easier to get to.

A few strange things about this reading (well, actually I wouldn't call it a reading, rather it was an author appearance- which seems to be the trend nowadays- fine by me, I am capable of reading the book myself), 1.C-span wasfilming, 2. there was quite a scene of book dealer, writers etc. 3. they all seem to breed girls- meaning there were a dozen or so little girls between the ages of 6-9, they sat in little chairs right under the podium and wiggled around, listening sometimes and sneaking away.

Buzbee mostly talked about the important of the bookstore's physicality and how that "sensual" (yes, he used that word several times) quality could never be replicated online. He waxed sentimental about his first City Lights visit and his bookselling days and a book's feel. Sprinkled within were little stories and memories; he even got emotional at one point and dabbed his eyes with a handkerchief. I imagined this little segment airing between C-span's wholesome, tug-on-your-heart, plucky heroines from the Oprah Winfrey book of the month club, and the bestselling, must-read-of-the-summer, future blockbuster thriller. Yes, from San Francisco's over-cultured anti-war, pro-drug, post-beatnik subculture bookstore, reads bowling-shirt wearing Nerd Dad and his love of bookstores. But overall- it was a goodtime.

I will post pictures tomorrow- I forgot my camera….and later some more about Author appearances…and how they are fun, much more fun than t.v.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


"Unawares, I found myself in a circle where actual poverty existed, with torn clothing and worn-out shoes, a sphere which I had never touched in Vienna. I sat at the same table with heavy drinkers, homosexuals, morphine addicts." "…passionate individuals whose only mania was mere existence…without a goal…" Stefan Zweig World of Yesterday

This weekend, finished reading The Flâneur: A Stroll Through the Paradoxes of Paris
by Edmund White- my very short review:

Overall, a quick read; meaning, it was short and it moved at a lively pace. It wouldn't be a book I would recommend if one wanted an understanding of the flâneur. I think it would have been more honest to simply title the book- A Stroll through the Paradoxes of Paris, which he does capture that quality. Each chapter seems to focus on a marginalized people and their anecdotal history as he strolls from neighborhood to neighborhood. He writes about the crazy writers, gays, Jews, black-Americans, and royalists (or was that monarchists?). It is a great introduction to a complicated history, but it did make me wonder how a flâneur- novel should be written. Perhaps that's a challenge to be taken up.
My favourite sub-chapter was on the Gustave Moreau museum, mostly because it was one place in Paris that I also visited (of the many listed in his book). Like White, I also believe that Moreau was a minor Symbolist painter, but nevertheless, the museum's charms and mysteries seduced me. Someday in the future I will post some pictures. Other reviews and discussions of the book-

just for fun-I'm going to post semi-random links-link this random page off of Wikipedia
and this headline from my email
and this blog

Becuase there's pleasure in the aleatory...

Monday, June 26, 2006

Weekend #25

"I had expected great things from his questioning intellect, and I would not have been in the least astonished to hear of some important biological discovery which his intuitive spirit had accomplished; but when many years later I saw the grandiose Gotheanum in Dornach, this 'school of wisdom', which his pupils had founded as platonic academy of anthroposophy, I was rather disappointed that his power had to material and sometimes even to the commonplace." Stefan Zweig World of Yesterday

Things I did in between reading:

Fri. Night at DeYoung

Sat. night goth-warehouse perfomance party- with Kira & Ricky

Sun. afternoon at Saul's

Friday, June 23, 2006

comments on the acid landscape

That's right! Oakland photo time- here's a building in downtown, where Telegraph Ave. and Broadway Ave. converge.

"And above all, we read! We read everything that came into our hands. We got books from all the public libraries, and lent each other whatever we had been able to discover. But the coffeehouse was still the best place to keep up with everything new." Stefan Zweig World of Yesterday

Reading this reminded me of my last years of high school when I lived in Minnesota-I was able to get away with skipping classes, and would spend the whole day in the university library. There I discovered all sorts of poetry: the Imagists, Modernists, Polish experimentalists and the 60's underground. One of the anthologies I would read over and over again was The Living Underground ed. By Hugh Fox- you just can't find this anymore. One of the poets included, d.a.levy, captured my attention with his unique writing style and radical, tragic life. It may have the beginnings of my obsessions with lives of strange people. I was inspired by reading his poetry, but he was dead and therefore inaccessible. I chose then to write to the editor, Mr. Fox, whose address I was able to find in a Michigan phonebook from the library (I had developed good investigative skills being in the library so much). Mr. Fox wrote back to me and asked that I call him instead, which I did, surreptitiously, late at night (my parents never seem to have noticed a late call to Michigan on the phone bill). I was incredibly excited to talk to Mr. Fox, and he was quite gracious with his information- I still have the scribbled notes taken during that phone conversation. D.a. levy was pretty much an unknown in the late 80's, but recently there had been an belated anthology of his work- and a website here. I did not have any friends to share the excitement of my discoveries, but I can definitely relate to Zweig's youthful zeal for such exploration.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


"All the livid streets of the Apocalypse have stormed through my life-revolution and famine, inflation and terror, epidemics and emigration. I have seen the great mass ideologies grow and spread before my eyes….and above all else that arch-plague nationalism which has poisoned the flower of our European culture.
I was forced to be defenseless, helpless witness to the most inconceivable decline of humanity into a barbarism which we have believed long since forgotten, with its deliberate and programmatic dogma of anti-humanitarianism." Stefan Zweig World of Yesterday

Last night I finished reading Victoria Finlay's Color: A Natural History of the Palette.

Here's my very short review.

It’s a pretty good book if you like to learn things and travel vicariously. An I don't mean that flippantly. Each chapter is dedicated to a color, or in the case of the black/ brown chapter which is focused on the two.
What I liked most about this book is how Finlay bounces her narrative from the stories of the past to her present travels and research. She steps in cow poo in India, goes snail hunting in Mexico then crashes a Mixtec wedding and travels within post 9/11 Afghanistan. Interspersed throughout her adventure accounts are stories of historical figures: Napoleon, George Washington and French naturalist, Thiery de Menonville.
Its an accessible read, with plenty of science and facts thrown in to make it credible, yet it doesn't simplify it's subject.
Here are some other reviews:

Monday, June 19, 2006

How I spend some of my Sundays

Eating yummy cream puffs from Beard Papa's before seeing short movies by Weldon Kees.

Sometimes I stalk strange birds that I rarely see- like this weird character I encountered while walking back from the Morcom Rose Garden to Piedmont Ave. There was another witness, he said it was a wild turkey, but after some deductive reasoning, I believe now that it was a Peahen. It probably escaped its home and was nonchalantly wandering around the streets- even crossing a street with cars driving by and then walking down a driveway into someone's lawn. Notice the cat on the edge of the lawn, must have been an exciting moment for him/her.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

silly June tidbits

Is it possible? Is Bush actually planning to do something positive for the environment? Perhaps…

Anyway- my photo of a Beluga Whale taken in Valencia's Aquarium.

How do accountants kill time?- By looking at celebrity heights!! Ever wonder how tall is Bono: 5' 6.5"- how about Marilyn Monroe- 5' 5.5" and other time wasting "facts"

I hit "random page" on Wikipedia just for fun- and this is what I got: Your Own Decay- hmm, I wonder if the universe is trying to tell me something?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

entente cordiale

"There are other aspirants who vie to deface shrines and desecrate sacred cows, but surely it is the highway commissioner and engineer who most passionately embrace insensitivity and philistinism as a way of life and profession." Ian McHarg Design with Nature

The cat was on some kind of bug high, crunching a crane fly; buzzing around the room, agitated.

If you would like to save some lives- go here- some members of our government would like to undo some small attempted good set forth 30 years ago (see Endangered Species Act)- haven't our lives been defiled enough?

I really need to work on capturing some of these free-floating memories.
One of the things that bother me in life, is the realization that he never really cared about what I was feeling. Then again, perhaps its not in his temperment, he might not be able to. I would not want that life.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Photo Profile- Oakland

I think once a week I'm going to try to post a photo of Oakland. I'm trying to get a grasp of this city where I have lived since 1997. I don't understand it, but it mesmerizes me nonetheless.

Here is a picture taken in front of Children's Hospital- MLK Way and 52nd St.

Picture by Jason W. Pickens

What happens when you leave a car alone in Oakland-


Truna is a strange fellow in Valencia who performs his self-made intruments. I was lucky to see his sound-installation, which allowed one to try to play his weird-wired instruments. His "music" hovered some extra-terrestial orb of its own; a cross of buzzy-bleepy, but now my memory is fuzzy, so I can't explain it accurately. But I took a few pictures--

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Rainy Rue des Martyrs

Tall buildings i.e. skyscrapers, impressed the European visitor, in European cities, the most impressive urban monument were public structures.. "Commercial towers were symbols of the entrepreneurial American city. The tall office building not only made money for its corporate owner but also celebrated and symbolized the making of money." City Life Witold Rybczynski

Pretty much demarks the differences between Americans and Europeans- as mentioned in a previous post.

Last night I went to a bookreading about this book: Walks Through Lost Paris: A Journey Into the Heart of Historic Paris by Leonard Pitt. Paris, city of layers and palimpsests. Yet another mysterious glimpse into this city.

Friday, June 02, 2006


Maybe because there is no good metaphor.

This is a picture illustrated by the German biologist, Ernst Haeckel (1834–1919)

"The ecological view requires that we look upon the world, listen and learn. The place, the creatures, and [men] people were, have been, and now, are in the process of becoming. We and they are here now, co-tenants of the phenomenal world, united in its origins and destiny." Ian McHarg, Design with Nature

More interesting Satie facts, from Perloff's article on Cage and Postmoderism- (down with both, up with Satie)

Le Piège de Méduse (Medusa’s Trap) (1913), was revived as part of a Satie Festival organized by Cage at Black Mountain College in 1948. The production, which marked the American premiere, featured Buckminster Fuller as the Baron Medusa, Merce Cunningham as the mechanical monkey, sets by Elaine de Kooning, dances performed by Cunningham, and piano accompaniment by Cage. While fully notated and scripted (far from a chance piece), Piège de Méduse experiments with absurdist word-play, outrageous disjunctions between dialogue and stage action, and mixed media (dance, theater, music).

Thursday, June 01, 2006

furniture music

Today's blog is brought to you by Erik Satie- why? why not?

I did stand outside his former home which is now the Musée-Placard d'Erik Satie-but I did not take a picture. Instead I took a picture of Paris from a few blocks away.

Something Satie said: from this website

"Everyone will tell you I am not a musician. That is correct.From the very beginning of my career I class myself a phonometrographer. My work is completely phonometrical. Take my Fils des Étoiles, or my Morceaux en forme de Poire, my En habit de Cheval or my Sarabandes - it is evident that musical ideas played no part whatsoever in their composition. Science is the dominating factor. Besides, I enjoy measuring a sound much more than hearing it. With my phonometer in my hand, I work happily and with confidence.What haven't I weighed or measured? I've done all Beethoven, all Verdi, etc. It's fascinating.The first time I used a phonoscope, I examined a B flat of medium size. I can assure you that I have never seen anything so revolting. I called in my man to show it to him.On my phono-scales a common or garden F sharp registered 93 kilos. It came out of a fat tenor whom I also weighed. Do you know how to clean sounds? It's a filthy business. Stretching them out is cleaner; indexing them is a meticulous task and needs good eyesight. Here, we are in the realm of pyrophony.To write my Pièces Froides, I used a caleidophone recorder. It took seven minutes. I called in my man to let him hear them.I think I can say that phonology is superior to music. There's more variety in it. The financial return is greater, too. I owe my fortune to it.At all events, with a motodynamophone, even a rather inexperienced phonometrologist can easily note down more sounds that the most skilled musician in the same time, using the same amount of effort. This is how I have been able to write so much.And so the future lies with philophony."