Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Dear Hannah Jane

Given the general tenor of Dear Hannah Jane, I was shocked (pleasantly) to see she'd put up something that included the ef word. Too, there's often an interesting quote in the upper right.  

Saturday, November 21, 2015

N'awlins Mardi Gras Event!

Hie thee Foodie, to the realm of Chef Eddie Adams

Chef Eddie

Todd Lowry's boogie-woogie piano 
inspired us to push the tables out of the way and commence flingin' ourselves in abandon.

The oysters (in the soup) had substance and flavor, and the Kiona riesling is respectable. For "The World-Famous Squidges," it's all about the desserts. But the enthusiasm and music made it into an event!


Thursday, November 12, 2015

Against Work: A Polemic

One of the great treatises of our time is Laura Kipnis's Against Love: A Polemic.

Although there's alot more, the take away I got was: sexual satisfaction stems from indulging in unmitigated desire, sometimes with others...and sometimes with one's self. The key being a sense of self that enables focused enjoyment, non-judgemental, self-satisfying appreciation; the wherewithal to engage without self-deprecation...a basic tenet of  "mindfulness."

In a similar vein, Chief Joseph said to the American Congress, "It  currently takes (and he used percentages) 20% of our time to satisfy our needs for food and shelter. The rest we spend with our wives and children, with our friends and enjoying our lives. If we took up your way of life (farming) it would be the opposite. We'd spend all our time plowing, sowing and harvesting... leaving little time for anything else. No thanks." (Hey, wait Joe!! How about "keeping up with the Joneses?")

Not enthused.

Western culture  -- Americans think culture is a hamburger -- is founded on the Puritan work ethic. This heinous belief system has driven both the idea that one could rise to heights of unbelievable wealth and that the purpose of wealth is leisure. 

Vincent Distasio, one of the artists I still represent, has a different view. The black sheep of a wealthy family whose siblings reside east of the Hudson River, his siblings enjoy flaunting their accumulations in the form of large domiciles, expensive dinners and shiny new vehicles. Vince, being who he is, lives in a trailer court among ruffians where he paints, as he puts it, "the pictures no one else will paint." He enjoys manual labor. And even though he holds an undergraduate degree in biology and a graduate degree in poly sci, he's spent -- after a decade of teaching science in Cuba, New Mexico in the early sixties -- the rest of his working life doing construction and tree-trimming.

In his spare time he can often be found at a local cafe eating a bear-claw, a doughnut-like  pastry. In disgust of oil-based consumerism, he rides his bicycle (see p. 137) nearly everywhere including, for over ten years, the 22 miles from his house to a jobsite at Kirtland Air Force base where he cleaned the officers' swimming pool three times a week.

As a ten-year-old he was "abused" by male relatives who made him plow a furrow behind a horse until it was straight. There was no allowance for the fact that he, as a ten year old, was being made to do a job even full-grown men found challenging. They said he'd learn from the experience.

His dad, in a similar way, would "simoniz" their car; Vince would have to buff it out. This was in the days when wax was hard and buffing-polishing could take an  entire afternoon. An afternoon when a ten-year-old would nornally have been playing ball, or exploring. When he complained that his arm was sore, his dad would yell at him that no one out in the world was going to give him a break and he better get used to it!! Work was something necessary to be endured.

Over the past 40 years as folks have seen how easy it is to become wealthy through song-writing, sports, drugs, sex and other ways that aren't as painful as plowing or simonizing, the much-touted work-ethic has lost its cachet; people have begun to appreciate Chief Joseph's perspective. But unlike the Chief, we've also been inculcated with ideas from Kafka and his ilk. i.e., existentialism and it's fundamental query of "why?"

And one of the things the first inhabitants of this segment of land used to do that garnered them criticism (consider the source) was take their time about decision-making....often a necessary element in answering the above mentioned and now all-important query.

So as you enjoy the beauty of nature, the company of friends, you can also add the sense of pleasure in working (pun intended) your way back to a pre-industrial state wherein simply being, and, perhaps, as Ms. Kipnis posits (was that what the Chief meant?), sex, was enough.

Besides, if Manny says it's so, it's so. 

Thanks to Rolling Steel Tent for inspiring this "discourse."

Saturday, November 7, 2015


FIRST, WATCH THE VIDEO                     

It was sometime around '94, soon after I took up with the artist and social critic Michelle D. Cook, that I began studying the accordion (the two were NOT coincidental). Perhaps it stems from her love of cats, but  Michelle's sardonic perspective imagined me, a morose German, hopping & skipping in lederhosen while squeezing something. 

She's always been the idea person in our relationship and being well-trained I immediately began my studies. To help me along she purchased a Hero Midget 

and presented it to me on the Solstice. 

As a busy art dealer, I made time to practice while waiting at red lights.  As incentive, Michelle composed a new national anthem. I spent several months learning it. (As you're aware, literary folks are drawn to magazines and journals with the word REVIEW in their title; Bloomsbury ReviewThe New York Review of Books and The Yale Law & Policy Review are popular. Cats, being the olfactory creatures that they are, get their news via the Cat Odor Review -- which comes via pee-mail.)


I never progressed beyond C. O. R., but our enthusiasm led us, in 2008,  to attend the Cotati Accordion Festival in Cotati, California. The festival was curated by Renee de la Prade and included the great Duckmandu


While surfing the web the other day I stumbled upon Renee's 2015 calendar

 that comes with a music CD. I ordered, paid and went on my way.

Now, a month later, while perusing emails I noticed a paypal receipt. One thing led to another and the following email soon arrived.

I'm sorry for the delay Michael!
I'm very disorganized this year because I moved to Europe and my regular mail-order-filler was on extended vacation, so it's a bit of a scramble. When I publish future editions, (the next will be 2017,) I plan to sign up with either CD Baby or Amazon or both, so that it's easy to fill orders in a timely manner, even when I'm travelling.
Thanks for your patience, thanks for contacting me. I'm sending you a special present along with your original order; you should get a shipping confirmation email with a tracking number within the next few days.
Best wishes,
Renee de la Prade

Renee is in Hamburg, Germany, where she resides with her new (as of August) husband, Ingo. That's Ingo on drums in the first video.

So that brings us to today. I'm in Albuquerque, the armpit of the SW, where Michelle's mother is dying of olde age. And although the sun is shining, it's cold and I felt the need of a bit of jollility. 

I hope you too got a chuckle.


Susie slid into the otherworld at 11:43 p.m. on Nov 12, mere minutes before what is known as ALL SMIRKETS DAY (Friday the 13th). Smirket, for those unfamiliar, is the proper term for a black cat.

Sunday, November 1, 2015


The print above the Jack-o-lantern is by Marjie Bassler.

We demand a trick. An elementary teacher who lived up the street gave us the idea; she used to make them scream or shake their booties. We've never tried the booty bit, but they seem to enjoy screaming. Their first attempt is always met with "You call that a scream?" 

The teenagers are taught Cat Odor Review and then have to perform it. Keeping a straight face while they "learn" it is half the fun. Watching them sing is priceless. Surprisingly, none have ever refused. 

From 2014...

Age takes its toll.....

The lovely terra-cotta girl (above the pumpkin) was the daughter of the Chief of Police of Munich, Germany. He gave the statue, one of six, to my dad. She was killed in an automobile accident not long after it was made. She was sixteen.