Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Poetry Wednesday


Odd friend,
you sit with me
on every stone step, like a potted plant.

We dangle our feet in the rising water.

Annnnnnnnnnnnnnd something not-mine that I love:

Thirteen Ways Of Looking At A Blackbird
By Wallace Stevens


Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the black bird.


I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.


The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.


A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a blackbird
Are one.


I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.


Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass.
The shadow of the blackbird
Crossed it, to and fro.
The mood
Traced in the shadow
An indecipherable cause.


O thin men of Haddam,
Why do you imagine golden birds?
Do you not see how the blackbird
Walks around the feet
Of the women about you?


I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know.


When the blackbird flew out of sight,
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles.


At the sight of blackbirds
Flying in a green light,
Even the bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply.


He rode over Connecticut
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced him,
In that he mistook
The shadow of his equipage
For blackbirds.


The river is moving.
The blackbird must be flying.


It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.

Monday, April 25, 2011

(Human) Babies to Make You Go "Awwwwwwwwwwwwww"

This is how I get through all-nighters (minus one accidental desk-nap). Just accept it. Babies are the best. Especially Asian babies (Modern Familyyyyyyyyyyyy). The only thing better is baby BEARS. Oh yes. Baby bears always win.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


New Mix- Goofs v. Goons

It's a valid science, I promise. If you think you know the difference, you're wrong. Anyway. This one was made for a friend in return for the best mix I've received in a verrrry long time. Magic.

1. Vagabond- Wolfmother
2. Blood Bank- Bon Iver
3. Spring and By Summer Fall- Blonde Redhead (I have theory that this song would be really scary if you were tripping, and, in fact, there's a thoroughly trippy music video version of it with these dreamy airplane scenes all mashed together. It freaks me out.)
4. Adventures in Solitude- The New Pornographers (This song is equally effective for endings and beginnings.)
5. Blood- The Middle East (This is the best song I've found in a while. Listen on repeat, improve your life.)
6. Sweet Disposition- The Temper Trap
7. Islands- The Xx (Both of these singers have dead-sexy voices. Both of them.)
8. In the Dirt- S. Carey
9. To Leave It Behind- The Great Lake Swimmers
10. Love Me Through- Port O'Brien
11. Smile That Explodes- Joseph Arthur (All-time favorite, what can I say?)
12. Desperately Wanting- Better Than Ezra
13. Heartbeats- José González (Another old favorite. I've seen him live before, and he's fantastic. I also love his less-well-known band Junip. Check them out.)
14. Twelve Minutes North- Breakfast of Champions (Ok, this song has a weird story behind it. I'm constantly sniffing out new music to love, and I have many ways of doing that. In that capacity, I stumbled across this song online, and fell in love with it. I'd never heard of the band before, and they only had a couple of songs out, so I did a little research and realized the band is fronted by the brother of an old friend. This is the Twilight Zone.)
15. Pure- Mirah ft. Ginger Takahashi
16. Thunderclap- Eskimo Joe

Friday, April 22, 2011

Chiharu Shiota: Rooms of Memory

I came across Chiharu Shiota's installation and performance pieces last spring when a lot of things were changing--relationships, addresses, plans, etc--and they just made sense to me. Or, rather, they made no sense at all, and that was exactly what made sense to me. "In Silence" (2006) was the first piece I saw. It seems as though both the pianist and the audience were suddenly stricken by plague hundreds of years ago, their bodies and bones reduced to dust and blown to other places on the wind. They've left no trace, and the black woolen cords that overtake the scene become like spider-silk, filling the emptiness in a beautiful new economy of space. (At left: "No Title", Marugame Genichiro-Inokuma Museum of Contemporary Art Kagawa, Japan, 2007)

The wool webs are a common thread (forgive the pun) throughout many of her installations, and though they don't appear in all of them, there's something analogous in her way of repeating form, whether that of a bed, a window frame, a suitcase, or a dress. It's armies marching in on all sides, it's counting sheep. It's singing to yourself when you're afraid and it's claustrophobia. (At right: "During Sleep", Kunstmuseum Luzern, Luzern, Switzerland, 2002)

(Above two images: "In Silence", 6th Gwangju Biennale, Gwangju, Korea, 2006)

The installations she does with window frames are so striking to me. I love that they're often structures in which the viewer can exist, little houses and hovels made entirely of escape routes. I also feel like the experience of them would be completely different depending on the light. If you entered her glass houses in a gallery space full of sunlight, it would feel like that secret house in the fairytale woods, a frozen moment, a memory. In the cloudy dark, it would be like an abandoned cathedral, all cool stone and hush. In the artificial florescent beasties with which most modern art galleries seem to be lit, I imagine the effect is...well...rather diluted.
(Above: "Room of Memory", 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan, 2009)
You kinda get tangled in these pieces. Tangled, trapped, and then released.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Poetry Wednesday

The Water Tower

This time last year
I was in love
on a tin-top roof as cold as the sky,
dome-middle metal reaching up to those stars.
I return there,
to search for pocket-treasures,
things that fell out there with you.

Everything I owned was in my pockets.

Annnnnnnnnnnd something not-mine that I love:

By Ada Limón

Maybe my limbs are made
mostly for decoration,
like the way I feel about
persimmons. You can’t
really eat them. Or you
wouldn’t want to. If you grab
the soft side with your fist
it somehow feels funny,
like you’ve been here
before and uncomfortable,
too, like you’d rather
squish it between your teeth
impatiently, before spitting
the soft parts back up
to linger on the tongue like
burnt sugar or guilt.
For starters, it was all
an accident, you cut
the right branch
and a sort of light
woke up underneath,
and the indelible fruit
grew dark and needy.
Think crucial hanging.
Think crayon orange.
There is one low, leaning
heart-shaped globe left
and dearest, can you
tell, I am trying
to love you less.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Light Me Up

I have this really weird obsession with light. I can't explain it. When I was reeeeally little, my parents used to take my sister and me out in the car at night in December just to look at the Christmas lights. It was the best, when there was nothing more important or more pressing than the need to find some really good Christmas lights. I think I could live in the crummiest apartment in the world and make it feel like home as long as I have some white twinkle lights to string up.

I'm unconsciously attracted to art and installations that feature light. My thought (feeling?) process tends to go "I love this" first, and "This lights up" second-- not the other way around. James Clar, who I've posted about before, is probably my favorite installation artists, and he does some unbearably beautiful things with light.

So imagine my GLEE at discovering that there is a a THEME PARK based on lights in Japan. 5.8 million lights illuminate Nabana no Sato park in Kuana. Everything is illuminated, from the flower gardens to the beer gardens to the towering replica of Mt. Fuji. I'm positively pining for it. This is not melodrama.

I Bake: The Completely Non-Boozy Version

Chocolate cake with Nutella buttercream and strawberries.
*This was probably the best frosting I've ever made. I might just be saying that because I could eat Nutella with a spoon, but it was pretty damn good frosting.

Dark chocolate sea-salt shortbread cookies.

Strawberry-apple muffins with a caramel crumble topping

Frosted sugar cookies.

Vanilla bean cupcakes with citrus buttercream.
*I used lemon and lime zest for these, but I feel like oranges would be yummy as well.

Vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream.
*The Jewish stars were actually just supposed to be regular little stars. I'm going to blame it on lack of sleep and lack of appropriate cookie-cutters. Also, I'm a space-cadet.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Arborea- River and Rapids

A friend put Arborea on a mix for me the other day, and I'm falling fast and hard for them. The guitar (acoustic and occasionally electric)/banjo/violin combinations are mesmerizing. You get these almost mechanical repeated acoustic rhythms that are suddenly eclipsed by the rising wail of electric strings. It's the interplay between the safe, constant little banjo and the grieving, insensible electric guitar that I love, especially in Arms & Horses.

Shanti's voice is like a memory of itself. It sounds like a hundred things I know, but I can't recall a single one of them. It's thin like the shrilling of the wind through a small space, but it's round like the bells that ring the hour. Some of their recordings are done in a dark room, lit only by oil lamps that waver on the walls so that the entire world moves. It's there they belong.

I much prefer them live to their recordings, which get a little too processed for me. It's wonderful though, because I feel like they way they get over-processed is the way I get over-"processed" when I'm tired and stressed. Things get disjointed and dream-like. It's still me, and it's still them, we're all just a little bit somewhere else.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Poetry Wednesday

Breathing Patterns

I am growing daisies, tending to them like a cat,
staking everything I own on the small sprouts.
I cannot fathom the WhitePetal creatures
that come so clean from the black earth,
strange moles blind-and-begging for pleasure,
for the touch of the sun.

At night they curl in on themselves,
and drop like eggs into NightWaters
And still
I am Me is She who tends Them,
Learning to breathe here and there like a MotherWhale,
All crusted over with barnacles.

If they live, I think,
they will imprint like geese
on a WhiteMother.
But I am no match for the fish and the serpents.
They steal petals, they gnaw on petals.
Hungry ghosts in the blackblack water.

Annnnnnd, something not-mine that I love:

my love is building a building...(xii)
by e.e. cummings

my love is building a building
around you, a frail slippery
house, a strong fragile house
(beginning at the singular beginning

of your smile)a skilful uncouth
prison, a precise clumsy
prison(building thatandthis into Thus,
Around the reckless magic of your mouth)

my love is building a magic, a discrete
tower of magic and(as i guess)

when Farmer Death(whom fairies hate)shall

crumble the mouth-flower fleet
He'll not my tower,
laborious, casual

where the surrounded smile


Sunday, April 10, 2011

You, and Everyone You've Ever Known

I'm thinking a lot about the people in my life, the ones who were there a year ago, or ten, and the ones who have come back into it after a long absence, and the ones I know won't. Our lives are so circular. Sometimes it's just time to part ways with people, and places, and, to a certain extent I think that fate takes care of you; when people drift out of your life, new ones come in and spackle up those cracks. Does anything ever really end? I don't think so. I will forever cut sandwiches diagonally because my best friend from elementary school (with whom I lost contact years and years ago) told me it was bad juju to do it down the middle. Giraffes remind me of the first boy I ever fell for. A friend I worked with at Ralph Lauren last summer sent me a sunflower ring in the mail a few weeks ago. She's back home in Mexico now, and it's unlikely we'll cross paths again, but she was a much-appreciated ally, and now I have something to remind me of her. People don't ever really disappear.

A friend pointed out to me the other day that the number of people we "keep" when we leave Vassar will probably be a lot smaller than we think right now, but that those people, however few, will be the ones worth keeping. Isn't that sad, and sweet, and scary? All at the same time.

You know that final scene in Y tu mamá también, when Tenoch and Julio meet for coffee and realize they don't really have anything to say to one another anymore? They've had this epic, life-altering adventure together that only the two of them can understand, and still, a cup of coffee and Luisa's death are the only things holding them together. They never see each other again. I wonder what will hold the people I love here together once "here" doesn't mean what it does now.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Poetry Wednesday


Planes flew overhead
And notes came down
White and weightless post
In languages we could not manage.
Our minds, our hands
And despair was effortless.

Annnnnnnnd something not-mine, which I love:

The Sleepers (I)
by Walt Whitman

I wander all night in my vision,
Stepping with light feet, swiftly and noiselessly stepping and stopping,
Bending with open eyes over the shut eyes of sleepers,
Wandering and confused, lost to myself, ill-assorted, contradictory,
Pausing, gazing, bending, and stopping.

How solemn they look there, stretch'd and still,
How quiet they breathe, the little children in their cradles.

The wretched features of ennuyes, the white features of corpses, the
livid faces of drunkards, the sick-gray faces of onanists,
The gash'd bodies on battle-fields, the insane in their
strong-door'd rooms, the sacred idiots, the new-born emerging
from gates, and the dying emerging from gates,
The night pervades them and infolds them.

The married couple sleep calmly in their bed, he with his palm on
the hip of the wife, and she with her palm on the hip of the husband,
The sisters sleep lovingly side by side in their bed,
The men sleep lovingly side by side in theirs,
And the mother sleeps with her little child carefully wrapt.

The blind sleep, and the deaf and dumb sleep,
The prisoner sleeps well in the prison, the runaway son sleeps,
The murderer that is to be hung next day, how does he sleep?
And the murder'd person, how does he sleep?

The female that loves unrequited sleeps,
And the male that loves unrequited sleeps,
The head of the money-maker that plotted all day sleeps,
And the enraged and treacherous dispositions, all, all sleep.

I stand in the dark with drooping eyes by the worst-suffering and
the most restless,
I pass my hands soothingly to and fro a few inches from them,
The restless sink in their beds, they fitfully sleep.

Now I pierce the darkness, new beings appear,
The earth recedes from me into the night,
I saw that it was beautiful, and I see that what is not the earth is

I go from bedside to bedside, I sleep close with the other sleepers
each in turn,
I dream in my dream all the dreams of the other dreamers,
And I become the other dreamers.

I am a dance--play up there! the fit is whirling me fast!

I am the ever-laughing--it is new moon and twilight,
I see the hiding of douceurs, I see nimble ghosts whichever way look,
Cache and cache again deep in the ground and sea, and where it is
neither ground nor sea.

Well do they do their jobs those journeymen divine,
Only from me can they hide nothing, and would not if they could,
I reckon I am their boss and they make me a pet besides,
And surround me and lead me and run ahead when I walk,
To lift their cunning covers to signify me with stretch'd arms, and
resume the way;
Onward we move, a gay gang of blackguards! with mirth-shouting
music and wild-flapping pennants of joy!

I am the actor, the actress, the voter, the politician,
The emigrant and the exile, the criminal that stood in the box,
He who has been famous and he who shall be famous after to-day,
The stammerer, the well-form'd person, the wasted or feeble person.

I am she who adorn'd herself and folded her hair expectantly,
My truant lover has come, and it is dark.

Double yourself and receive me darkness,
Receive me and my lover too, he will not let me go without him.

I roll myself upon you as upon a bed, I resign myself to the dusk.

He whom I call answers me and takes the place of my lover,
He rises with me silently from the bed.

Darkness, you are gentler than my lover, his flesh was sweaty and panting,
I feel the hot moisture yet that he left me.

My hands are spread forth, I pass them in all directions,
I would sound up the shadowy shore to which you are journeying.

Be careful darkness! already what was it touch'd me?
I thought my lover had gone, else darkness and he are one,
I hear the heart-beat, I follow, I fade away.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Ten Things I Have Learned About The Sea

I grew up on stories of selkies. If you cry seven tears into the sea, I was told, your selkie will appear. He'll (or, more traditionally, "she'll") shed his seal-skin and walk on land with you, and you will love each other. But he will stay on land only for as long as you can hide his skin, because even great love cannot compare to the lure of the sea. And to keep him, you have to live with his longing for it.

I love the sea. When I leave a beach, I usually weigh almost twice as much as normal...what with the 100+ pounds of seashells in my pockets. I love the too-much-sand and too-much-salt and too-much-sun-ness of it all. I love the way the sea smells and the way it sounds, and the way, as Lorenzo Fonda says in his video short, it's the greatest mirror; when you're happy, the sea seems happy. When you're sad, the sea seems sad.

ten things i have learned about the sea from lorenzo fonda on Vimeo.

Lorenzo Fonda, 2008

Someday I'll pick a direction and drive until I end up at the ocean.

P.S. Happy Day. I just got my acceptance to URochester's phD program. Doctorate in Art History, Here. I. Come.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Myeongbeom Kim- This Feeling is Untitled

Myeongbeom Kim does some questionable things with goldfish. But I'm dwelling in his work anyway because it's familiar. It belongs to the part of my brain that would like to try creating three-dimensional art objects, but never has, and perhaps never will because, as with olives, I just have a feeling we wouldn't mesh.

Sylvia Plath, had she sculpted rather than written, would have produced works like this. They would whisper that inanimate objects think about death while they glitter in the sun, and that goldfish are reincarnated balloons, which are reincarnated flower petals, and they will all shrivel in the exact same way.

I like that so many of his Kim's works have a lifespan, that they sicken and die so prettily, that they are adored in death like martyrs . I like his tree stumps and candle wax, and I like that his surrealism is unapologetically quite traditional, quite painterly. I like that his flowers leer at you and his nooses caress you, and the sensation is the same. I love that his ideas dwell in the fragile bodies of helium balloons and glass jars. Both aesthetically and ideologically, his installations reach. Upward, downward, toward you. Toward me. They cannot bear the small interiors of souls and hearts, impossibly central and far too quiet to keep as company. They mutter to themselves and are silent, and then mutter again like creatures left too long alone in the dark. Can an object be deranged? These are. But lovely, like Ophelia. There's rue for you; and here's some for me.

1) Imigration (spelling intentional!)- Boat, Oak Tree, Lawn
2) Untitled- Balloon, Oak Tree
3) Untitled- Deer Taxidermy, Branch, Leaves
4) Untitled (before)- Glass, Steel, Sunflower
5) Untitled (after)- Glass, Steel, Sunflower