Friday, November 28, 2008

A Painful Pill to Swallow

"Make Believe Damien Hirst For The Love of God" by Jim Riswold

I don't understand our economy. How can it be possible that telling Americans to borrow more money is good for the economy, when we're all already in debt above our eyeballs. And how does it make sense that lower gas prices aren't good for the economy? Is it just that the oil executives aren't making their multi-million dollar profits? And how come retail prices coming down from their inflated levels is bad for the economy when no one's incomes are going up?

So here's another question, how is it that Damien Hirst, one of the world's richest artists, who made £111 million British pounds selling his artwork at his latest auction (just his latest folks), how come he now has to "be mindful of the current economic climate." Just this week Hirst canceled the contracts of many of the poor sods that work for him for a measly £19,000 a year, 17 of the 22 artists that make the pills featured in a number of his works. However, "In June 2007, Lullaby Spring, a cabinet filled with hand-painted pills, sold for £9.65m."

Am I missing something here? Well, it turns out he wants to stop making his pill cabinets, but still...he can't find other work for these artists? All together their wages are a measly £323,000 a year.

According to an article in the Guardian, "Last week, Hirst admitted that art had probably become too expensive in recent years and said he welcomed the prospect of selling his work at cheaper rates in the present climate of recession." Hmmmm, seems to me he could just sell his work for less. How much less could he possibly pay his workers?!?!

I say it makes no sense and he's being a scrooge, breaking the news that by years end they'll be out of a job! It's shocking and despicable!

Bah Humbug.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Which American car would you buy?

A friend sent me the following article from the Huffington Post....awesome...gotta love American cars.

"I guess I've rented American cars..."

Last night on Charlie Rose, the talking boobs (i mean heads) were having a heated debate. The guy from the NT Times was arguing for Chapter 11. The Auto Industry Rep was arguing the biggest doom and gloom if we don't give em money. But then he admitted that 25 billion wasn't really enough. And he didn't know what number would be enough. The NY Times guy was explaining that US car manufacturers BY LAW can't afford to stop producing a particular brand IF THEY WANTED TO. There are state laws that make it prohibitively expensive to close dealerships...over a million dollars a dealership. So, if they went into Chapter 11 they could re-organize for less. Hey, if it worked for uh United Airlines, Delta, Northwest, and can work for the auto industry. The airlines got to shirk their debts, screw the labor unions, as well as their their employees, reorganize, and come out of Chapter 11....making lawyers rich in the process. yup, it's a lose/lose situation.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sign of the Times

Not my typical post...but last night my sister and I spent some time talking about the possible bailout of GM. It's a complicated issue and I don't think anyone really knows if giving the car industry money right now will really prevent them from failing, or prevent the devastation of massive joblessness.

Well, check the piece "A Sea of Unwanted Imports" in today's NY Times. Frankly, if no one's buying cars, giving GM an unlimited supply of money, let alone some tens of billions, isn't going to get them selling more cars. It's like putting the proverbial finger in the dyke hole. It really looks like we're entering a new era, people. We've stopped shopping and, won't recognize the future we're about to enter. I fear the human despair. But hopefully we will adjust to the seismic shift of having and needing less quickly, and the change will be in time (and enough) to prevent the collapse of our planet.

Monday, November 17, 2008


"Broadway Protest" by Jerry Spagnoli

Back in December 2006, Barack, Michelle and eight others were in Axelrod’s office in downtown Chicago. If Barack was going to run, he had to decide quickly, a point the group made by laying out primary schedules and game plans for fund-raising and building an organization. Insights were offered from around the room.

It was Michelle, Axelrod remembers, who stopped the show. “You need to ask yourself, Why do you want to do this?” she said directly. “What are hoping to uniquely accomplish, Barack?”

Obama sat quietly for a moment, and everyone waited. “This I know: When I raise my hand and take that oath of office, I think the world will look at us differently,” he said. “And millions of kids across this country will look at themselves differently.”

Obama understood, through his own search for identity, how America’s seminal struggle over race was part of a wider story, of a search for dignity and hope that defined the lives of countless people throughout the world. A battered America, he felt, was ready, even anxious, to prove the truth of its sacred oaths — liberty, justice and equality. To show the world. If, through his own ambitions, he could offer his country a chance to step forward, it might rise to the occasion.

What started as a story about race became a larger story, by day’s end, about America. The transforming promise of the nation, after all, is the idea of welcoming the stranger, the outcast, to a place of limitless possibility — a place where each of us might discover our best self, be comfortable in our skin and find a home.

Excerpt from Change by Ron Suskind in NYTimes

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Aphorism 3

artwork by Idiots

“The first mistake of art is to assume that it’s serious.” - Lester Bangs

Monday, November 10, 2008

Terra Aqua

Maya Lin is certainly one of the greatest American artists. Her lastest? Wave Field at Storm King which opens next spring. Here she deals with some of my favorite topics, water and land. Reminds me of a large scale realization of a Hiroshi Sugimoto: oceanic landscapes, undulating meditations, and the disorientation of losing oneself.


Sunday, November 9, 2008

A New Dawn

It’s shocking isn’t it?
It’s shocking to feel like the person who is steering the ship shares your values and your concerns, is thoughtful and heart-full.

It feels different doesn’t it?
Did you notice how in NYC on the 4th of November and every day since, people are looking you in the eye…like they did after 9/11?

I keep catching myself smiling. I keep realizing I still care…that it hasn’t worn off. This is my country and my president. For real.

I love this video, the spontaneous outbreak into a song that never held much meaning for me, until now. Heartbreaking it didn’t matter before. But this is a new dawn, a new day.

So, astrologers have been throwing in their 2 cents about this election. Did you know that on November 4th (you can decide if it’s a coincidence) Saturn and Uranus moved into opposition, something that happens about every 40 years. What does this mean, you ask? Well…the previous two times Saturn and Uranus opposed each other was 1918-20 and 1964-67, two period that saw big cultural changes.

At the end of World War 1 distinct class privilege began to be eroded, a flu epidemic killed more people than had died in the war, women in the US agitated for the right to vote, Wall Street was bombed, there were massive strikes in major industries like steel, race riots occurred, the Russian revolution had just happened and socialist ideology was spreading. The 1960s saw immense social upheaval: riots, strikes, race struggles in Africa, and a US Presidential assassination. “In the mid-’60s the counterculture emerged as an articulate alternative to the blind pursuit of the American dream and automatic support for the overt hegemony of the military-industrial complex. For the first time in history, young people all over the world voiced their social criticism en masse.”

Currently, we’re seeing sweeping changes to our financial systems and an erosion of the complacent sense of material security we’ve had. We’re also witnessing an environmental crisis on a global scale unseen before. Check out the 'American history' article on Wikipedia.

It's conveniently divided into historical periods. One begins in 1918, at a Saturn-Uranus opposition. Another begins in 1964, at the next Saturn-Uranus opposition. Could 2009 mark another major epochal break? What else might Saturn/Uranus have in store for us? And where does Obama fit in all of this?

Well let’s look closer at Saturn and Uranus…
“Saturn is experience earned the hard way, through a trial-by-fire history of achievements and mistakes, which bestows a real-world wisdom one cannot learn through books or theories or sudden flashes of genius. Uranus is radical freshness, the electrifying pulse of innovation born from the need to try something different, once it appears those with experience have become blinded by the perspectives they've held for years. Saturn signifies tradition, a conservative approach that respects the sanctity of institutions upon which many folks' sense of stability rests. Uranus brings the change and, along with it, increased liberation for those who felt oppressed by such traditions… and what surely seems like anarchistic end-times to those plenty content with how things have always been.”

While typically Saturn is seen as restrictive while Uranus is exciting, this is a big simplification. Uranus can be destructive and cynical, and Saturn can bring calm by being containing, realistic, and stable.

What is remarkable is how Obama seems to naturally balance these opposing forces. Neither Saturn’s strict adherence to order, nor Uranus’ rebelliousness should “be allowed to unilaterally triumph at the expense of the other. Their opposition reveals the obvious pitfalls of both extremes to our immediate consciousness. The touchy challenge here is to balance between a reining-in and tightening-up of government's traditional role (Saturn) and an abrupt, dramatic reinvention of its practices to better support the needs of a changing populace (Uranus).”

If Barack Obama can pull this off this will be the shiniest new dawn of them all.

Thanks to the following sites for illuminating me
All pictures are courtesy of the fabulous

Friday, October 17, 2008

Wonder in Wanderlust

Bjork's new stereoscopic 3-D video "Wanderlust" screened yesterday at FIT because a couple of FIT graduates worked on the imaging. This video is awesome!! Okay, well, we can also say...Bjork is awesome.

Dressed in mash-up fantasy Tibetan costume, Bjork communes with Himalayan yaks, traverses a raging river, struggles with her alter ego Pain-Body, and finally cascades over a waterfall, plummeting into the awaiting hands of Rivergod. This is no subtle journey of self-discover. Bjork and her dual self are fighting (or dancing as if in a pas de deux) upon the backs of these wooly mammoths as the river carries them, rushes them, towards the arms of fate.

It is magical to see a river play such a key role - here, vivid blue, ever changing, whirring and churring. And get this....made from hair.

Here's a link to the 2-d video. Slightly disappointing now I've seen it in 3-d.

Here is a link to the video in 3-d and a making-of short.

I learned from a couple of the animators, that they originally thought this video would only take a few weeks to make. Well, duh, it took them nine months and a team of volunteers to complete this labor of love. The video was created using a blend of puppetry, live action and CG, and was a collaboration between producers Ghost Robot, directors Encyclopedia Pictura (Isaiah Saxon and Sean Hellfrich) and New York-based animation house UVPhactory.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Wander in Wonder

"Katwijk-Bomen" by Ellen Kooi

"Celebration ... is self-restraint, is attentiveness, is questioning, is meditating, is awaiting, is the step over into the more wakeful glimpse of the wonder -- the wonder that a world is worlding around us at all, that there are beings rather than nothing, that things are and we ourselves are in their midst, that we ourselves are and yet barely know who we are, and barely know that we do not know this."
- Martin Heidegger

Sunday, October 12, 2008


"Clearing" by Tamsen Ellen

"Sometimes I have loved the peacefulness of an ordinary Sunday. It is like standing in a newly planted garden after a warm rain. You can feel the silent and invisible life. All it needs from you is that you take care not to trample on it."

Marilynne Robinson ~ Gilead

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Park(ing) Day

I bet y'all didn't know that this past Friday was national Park(ing) Day. Walking up Sixth Avenue, lo and behold, I encountered green grass and flowers!! What a delight! I'd remembered this event from last year and so quickly was able to assess what was going on. This is no eco-hippie sit-in. No people, NYC offered up 5o prime parking spots to let ordinary citizens (or rather architects and motivated artists) turn them into mini parks for the day.

But don't miss Park(ing) Day REDUX, taking place on October 18th. "This capstone exhibit will feature a rebuild of selected parking spots on a closed street in front of EYEBEAM Art and Technology Center on 21st Street, a mixer with the city's most imaginative public space interventionists, and photos."
Trust for Public Land

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Ever Present - Never Twice the Same

The air has changed here in New York. It indeed feels like fall. Many plants will die, as they are covered in snow and frost throughout the winter, but will come back next spring, with a renewed, yet unique, life force.

While I've always been drawn to Pantheism, a philosophy that posits that divinity is present in every living thing, I recently learned the word Aisthesis. For ancient Greeks it meant that knowledge could be derived through physical sensory perception. "It is a taking in of the world, a taking in of soulful communications that arise from living the phenomena in that world." (Stephen Buhner) Psychologist James Hillman says it literally means "to breathe in."

Biognosis is another new word I learned. It means "to gain knowledge from life." But it is also the application of that knowledge of systems found in nature "to the study and design of engineering systems and modern technology." That is just so interesting to me!! It's also called bionics or Biomimetics. For example, the invention of Velcro was from the observation of the hooked seeds of the burdock plant which caught in the coat of George de Mestral's dog when they were out on a walk.

We tend to be far removed from nature in our urban lives, it is worth being reminded that:

"Only to him who stands where the barley stands and listens well will it speak, and tell, for his sake, what man is" - Masanobu Fukuoka


ever present - never twice the same
It was wonderful to come across this adage carved in stone and laid inconspicuously into the dirt floor of a wooded trail in Wave Hill. What's Wave Hill? That's what I wanted to know...

Well, it's a spectacular twenty-eight acre public garden in the Bronx, with magnificent views of the Hudson River and the Palisades.
It features greenhouses, woodlands, and numerous themed gardens, including the aquatic garden below.

Now, I'm no botanist, but the wonder and enchantment! Here's a plant where the leaves turn fire red, emulating a flower.

And the infamous lotus, seat of the buddah, shown here in the end-stage of its temporal life.

and other delights....

The bees were extremely busy, and were mostly uncooperative when it came to having their picture this guy.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

*yoga *cook *eat

Yesterday was a special Om yoga event. A large group of us went to the Union Square Farmer's Market with Margi Young and Maria Rosa Menocal to learn about local vendors, buy seasonal food, cook easy (yet versatile) dishes, and enjoy each other's company. As Maria said, the class was to be about, "ways of developing a practice where nourishment is rooted in an intimate and personal relationship with our food, one where the acts of buying it and making it are part of the process. Being present in the selection and preparation of food can be a deeply enriching part of our daily lives, and part of developing a consciousness about our relationship to the rest of the universe." It was a glorious day! I took notes so that we could remember all the fabulous tips Maria gave us, and how we shared a meal with each other, prepared a little something for others, many of us strangers. order of the vendors we visited...

Ronnybrook Farm РAmcramdale, NY. For all dairy. Often a long line. The cr̬me fraiche and butter we ate was from here. At market Wed and Sat, year round. (Also sold through Fresh Direct as a featured local vendor)

Quattro’s Game Farm – Pleasant Valley, NY. At market Wed and Sat, year round.

Stokes Farm -- Old Tappan, NJ. Mostly for herbs but also tomatoes. One of the founding vendors at this greeenmarket. At market since 1976, Wed, Fri and Sat, March through December. Here's video of farmer Ron.

Fantasy Fruit Farm – Afton, NY. for berries,very seasonal. At market Mon, Wed, and Sat.

Berried Treasure – Cooks Falls, NY. Some consider the strawberries here the best at the market. Marie called Franca an “extraordinary farmer” Usually at market Wed and Fri.

Keith’s Farm – Greenville, NY. One of the most famous vendors here. Has written a book about his farm. Known for garlic, but has 15 acres with organic veggies and herbs. At market Wednesday and Saturday only / June through December.

Terhune Orchard
– Salt Point, NY – Apples all year. At market 29 years.

Eckerton Hill Farm – Lenhartsville, PA. Carries many specialty items, such as baby bell peppers, lemon cucumbers, jelly melon cucumber. Many of the city’s top chefs shop here, so get here early! At market 13 years. (Also sold through Fresh Direct as a featured local vendor)

Flying Pig Farm – Shushan, NY. Not just any pork vendor, these pig farmers raise heritage breeds and have photos of their loved ones at their stand and on their website. At market Saturdays only. Watch a video of these adorable piggies.

Oak Grove Plantation – Franklin Township, NJ. “Ted” started the farm in 1977, and started at market in 1980. Carries heirloom tomatoes, but specializes in every kind of pepper: habaneros, poblanos, tomatillos, jalepeno, sweet peppers, etc. Has unusual items like ground husk cherry tomatoes (like pineapple). Our green corn for the soup was bought here.

Hoeffner Farm – Montgomery, NY. Mostly vegetables. At market 32 years.

The Cheerful Cherry – Hector, NY. The table was full of sour cherries, and a sign said they were the last of the season.

Paffenroth Gardens – Warwick, NY. 18 years at market Wed and Sat; open all year long with carrots, leeks potatoes.

Gorzynski Ornery Farm – Cochecton Center, NY. John is the friendly farmer ready to share his knowledge of vegetables. In business since 1979, this farm produces over 500 varieties of vegetables. They adhere to organic standards that exceed the government’s criteria, but chose not to go through the bureaucratic certification process by the USDA. When we were there, on display were a large variety of greens. John grows for flavor not for looks or durability. At market April to Dec on Saturdays.

Violet Hill – Livingston Manor, NY. They raise pastured poultry (chicken, duck, turkey, geese, and guinea birds), and grass fed meats (beef, pork, goat, lamb, and rabbit), but currently sell only lamb, pork (Maria suggests trying the fennel sausage) and eggs. They have araucana eggs (the ones we made our tortillas from) At market five years, Sat, year round.

Bulich Mushrooms – Catskill, NY. An important vendor to remember in winter. At market 23 years, year round.

Hawthorne Valley Farm – Ghent, NY. Bio-dynamic farm, selling cheese, baked goods, meats, and produce. Wed and Sat, year round.

3-Corner Field Farm – Shushan, NY. Raises grass-fed lamb and uses every part. Sells meat, cheese, wool, and soap. Marie always buys her lamb here. The ricotta we ate was from this vendor. At market six years. Watch a video from the farm.

Yuno’s Farm –Bordentown, NY. Maria claims they have the best produce!! It is where she got the peppers for our soup. They are at market Monday and Friday only.

Well, shamefully I did not take pictures of the cooking process, the green corn soup (with poblanos and tomatillos), the potato /mushroom/truffle oil tortilla, or our wonderful group. (I was busy being present in the moment!) But here are a couple pictures of some of the finished salads: a rice salad, and a "fruits-and-nuts" chicken salad. And of course the amazing view of Madison Square Park and the Empire State Building.

Sacred Eavesdropping

"Man Looking" by tamsen ellen

Every Wednesday, Rob Brezsny's newsletter arrives in my in-box. While I can't always make heads or tails of his horoscope, I often appreciate the excerpts from his book and the abundance of quotes from wise men and women. Last week, he showed how easily our voyeuristic tendencies can be turned into loving kindness...


I've tried a wide variety of meditative practices from many traditions. I've calmed myself through rhythmic breathing; watched with amusement as the nonstop procession of images paraded across my mind; visualized images of deities; cultivated unconditional love; chanted mantras; and taken rigorous inventories to determine whether the integrity of my actions matches my high ideals.

But in my years of study, I've never heard of a form of meditation that would ask me to go to a public place, take my attention off myself, and observe other people with compassionate objectivity. That's why I was forced to invent it. Hereafter known as Sacred Eavesdropping, this meditation builds one's ability to pray in the manner described by poet W. H. Auden: "The definition of prayer is paying careful and concentrated attention to something other than your own constructions."

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Dancing = Smiling

the outtakes are funny and can be found here

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Building blocks

“When I was little, possibly the biggest treat in my life was going to FAO Schwartz, a massive fancy toy store in New York…From across the store, the Lego robots looked solid and statuesque—whole, complete, and monolithic. But when I got up close, I could see all the tiny fissures between the individual Lego pieces, and I could see the thousands and thousands of building blocks, all different colors and shapes interlocking, that made up the thing in front of me. That eight-foot tall dinosaur was really a heap of many tiny pieces, perfectly arranged to create the impression of a singular, unchangeable whole.

When we become aware of the myriad building-blocks of our identity, we get new perspective on who and what we are. What we sometimes mistakenly assume to be one mind, one being, one self, one “me,” is really a construct comprising many interlocking elements. I am never one thing; I am always many. And the many things that I am are themselves the result of, and connected to, many other things.”


Excerpt from "One City" by Ethan Nichtern

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A Useful Mantra

In Being Peace, the Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hanh has provided a useful tool for calming oneself in the face of stress, anger, frustration or fear. It is a mantra that in it's simplest form it can be repeated as follows:

Breathing in, I calm my body
Breathing out, I smile
Breathing in, present moment
Breathing out, wonderful moment

The full value of Thich Nhat Hanh's teaching is better understood reading his own words:


From time to time, to remind ourselves to relax, to be peaceful, we may wish to set aside some time for a retreat, a day of mindfulness, when we can walk slowly, smile, drink tea with a friend, enjoy being together as if we are the happiest people on Earth. This is not a retreat, it is a treat. During walking meditation, during kitchen and garden work, during sitting meditation, all day long, we can practice smiling. At first you may find it difficult to smile, and we have to think about why. Smiling means that we are ourselves, that we have sovereignty over ourselves, that we are not drowned into forgetfulness. This kind of smile can be seen on the faces of Buddhas and bodhisattvas.

I would like to offer one short poem you can recite from time to time, while breathing and smiling.

Breathing in, I calm body and mind.
Breathing out, I smile.
Dwelling in the present moment
I know this is the only moment.

"Breathing in, I calm body and mind." This line is like drinking a glass of ice water - you feel the cold, the freshness, permeate your body. When I breathe in and recite this line, I actually feel the breathing calming my body, calming my mind.

"Breathing out, I smile." You know the effect of a smile. A smile can relax hundreds of muscles in your face, and relax your nervous system. A smile makes you master of yourself. That is why the Buddhas and bodhisattvas are always smiling. When you smile, you realize the won-der of the smile.

"Dwelling in the present moment." While I sit here, I don't think of somewhere else, of the future or the past. I sit here, and I know where I am. This is very important. We tend to be alive in the future, not now. We say, "Wait until I finish school and get my Ph.D. degree, and then I will be really alive." When we have it, and it's not easy to get, we say to ourselves, "I have to wait until I have a job in order to be really alive." And then after the job, a car. After the car, a house. We are not capable of being alive in the present moment. We tend to postpone being alive to the future, the distant future, we don't know when. Now is not the moment to be alive. We may never be alive at all in our entire life. Therefore, the technique, if we have to speak of a technique, is to be in the present moment, to be aware that we are here and now, and the only moment to be alive is the present moment.

"I know this is the only moment." This is the only moment that is real. To be here and now, and enjoy the present moment is our most important task. "Calming, Smiling, Present moment, Only moment." I hope you will try it.


Even though life is hard, even though it is sometimes difficult to smile, we have to try. Just as when we wish each other "Good morning," it must be a real "Good morning." Recently, one friend asked me, "How can I force myself to smile when I am filled with sorrow? It isn't natural." I told her she must be able to smile to her sorrow, because we are more than our sorrow. A human being is like a television set with millions of channels. If we turn the Buddha on, we are the Buddha. If we turn sorrow on, we are sorrow. If we turn a smile on, we really are the smile. We cannot let just one channel dominate us. We have the seed of everything in us, and we have to seize the situation in our hand, to recover our own sovereignty.

When we sit down peacefully, breathing and smiling, with awareness, we are our true selves, we have sovereignty over ourselves. When we open ourselves up to a TV program, we let ourselves be invaded by the program. Sometimes it is a good program, but often it is just noisy. Because we want to have something other than ourselves enter us, we sit there and let a noisy television program invade us, assail us, destroy us. Even if our nervous system suffers, we don't have the courage to stand up and turn it off, because if we do that, we will have to return to our self."

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


"To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else."
- Emily Dickinson

Sergey Chilik

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


"What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly."
- Chuang Tse

This photograph by Adam Fuss captures the pregnancy of transformation; past and future collapsed yet resonant.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Bountiful Beards / Hair Wars

If you haven't yet heard, the World Beard and Moustache Competition will be held in Anchorage Alaska on May 23, 2009. If you have any hope of competing you had better get growing! The biannual event will feature the likes of Willi Chevalier of Sigmaringen, Germany

Photograph by Sheri Manson

and Gunnar Rosenquist of Gothenburg, Sweden
Photograph by Sheri Manson

But all is not lost for the Americans because Beard Team USA represents with gorgeous growths by founder Phil Olsen

Photograph by Zach Ramey

and Burke Kenny
Photograph by Zach Ramey

But follicle fantasies are not just for the gents. The ladies get into the action at Hair Wars in Detroit every year. Check out these David Yellen images while listening to an audio track about Hair Wars on NPR

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Mel Kadel

I just cannot say enough about this artist. I love her whimsical, poignant work. If someone needed a gift idea for me, I don't think there is piece of hers I don't like. Here are a few of my favorites.