Wednesday, October 02, 2013


ashes and snowed

Finally getting around to reading Porochisya Khakpour's decidedly negative review of "The Lowland" by Jhumpa Lahira today, these sentences signposted a path for me to understand my visceral, hostile, and similarly negative reaction to Gregory Colbert's "Ashes and Snow" photography/art (sic) exhibit in Santa Monica some years ago:

"Lahiri's place in literature has always seemed beyond reproach, since her cotillion by Pulitzer, but also partly, I suspect, because liberal-educated white people prefer their exotica watered down with high patrician elegance. Perhaps a product of Lahiri's Old and New Englands, all the vindaloos, saris, bindis and Bollywood feel like they've been given a scrubbing by a blond yogini army of Gwyneth Paltrow disciples: understated sweet-nothings, mannered manners, even passionless restraint."

That is exactly and precisely my reaction Ashes and Snow and its immaculate "wild" animals and closed-eyed, perfectly-coifed, pleasingly-braided humans in Vanity Fair ad-copy-like devotional poses. Would that I had possessed the insight! Thank you to the poetically-named Iranian from South Pas, Porochisya Khakpour.  Imagine the mystification of my friends who saw the installation in my company, endured my inarticulate but seething response at the exit way, and are undoubtedly still shaking their heads. Well, probably not. Only I have stewed endlessly about my reaction, surely? Art or non-art: it is still and the viewer moves on…..

Now to delve a bit more deeply, privately, into why my inner curmudgeon took such umbrage at pretty. At perfected. Why taming nature so offends me. Why manicured sets my teeth on edge.

Monday, June 29, 2009


Top o' the world

If I were to have a spiritual experience, I suppose this would have been the "x marks the spot" moment.  If awe will suffice, then I have achieved some connection with what the rest of you hang your futures on when you "turn it over",  pray, genuflect or otherwise seek transcendence.  I recognized it, had been previously so emotionally ball-peened; it happened when I wandered alone into the Serengeti and encountered the water buffalo.  I had been warned, and yet I set off solo, unconsciously wishing to frighten myself, to see if I could heighten the wanderlust high by pretending courage.  The buffalo was docile; what unnerved and dazzled me was the vastness, the clean line of horizon, the Edenic smell, the sheer beauty of Africa.  So fucking much bigger than me.  Better than Machu Picchu, really, for that gut-whallop of incredulity.  No one built Africa.  It just is.  Huge.  All true.  No snark, no bling, no avarice, no spin. Itself.  Machu Picchu does it differently - it addles your mind with the complete impossibility of its existence up there, shimmering atop a tor, lifted and dropped by magicians and conjurers.

Friday, March 20, 2009



Yesterday I finally purchased a daypack for the Costa Rica adventure.  Still, I am accepting the irrefutable evidence that I really don't want to go: haven't bought hiking boots; haven't looked up the various eco-lodge locations on any map; have done neither the writing assignment nor the "getting in shape" suggested walks.  Haven't purchased a single wicking sock.  How in the world did I get talked into this?  I know what I like - - politically-oriented trips with the potential of meeting artists, writers, human rights workers, NGO people, lawyers, elected representatives, street people, activists of every stripe, etc.   I LOVE trips with Global Exchange.  I enjoy vacations with friends to cities around the world.  I can't get enough of solo travel to weird locations.  So then. Humph.  I can't really believe I let someone (okay, Irene) noodge me into a nonfiction writing workshop concerned with "pura vida" and ecology.  A magical realism workshop concerned with poetry, maybe...but this is just going to turn out to be 11 days with earnest greenfolk who worship nature and despise what mankind has wrought.  And I'm interested in the works and machinations of humans, not bugs and badgers, moths and monkeys.
There, I've said it.
Or maybe I'm just too bone-lazy for endless hot walks (with "moderate elevation", whatever horrible-to-anticipate breathing difficulty that entails!) in the cloud forest.

910/2/13 update

It was a fabulous adventure, I learned and learned and learned, fell in love with all my trip-mates, and take back every sentence of the above rant. Well, not taking back what I felt, pre-trip. So, let's just amend it now that I am post-anxiety, years on, and have other writing workshops under my scaredy-cat belt. The fear was about the writing, not the hiking, actually. Nature is our friend.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Sarah Fucking Palin...what fresh hell is this????

Thursday, March 23, 2006


No empathy

The air conditioning in my office is not working today. Imagine then how slowly my thoughts come...all sluggish and oxygen-deprived. I'm trying to channel the President, because this is undoubtedly the way he functions all the time. Nah. It isn't working. I sense that if Helen Thomas asked me a probing question right now, I'd be more likely to nod out or giggle stupidly than lose my temper.

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