Monday, December 31, 2012

Yonder Year --- Day 360

Walk: No

Often I forget to remember we never know what the new year will bring.  But sometimes this unknown is particularly (and may I add for any politicians reading ciwt - unnecessarily) pronounced. So I wish us courage, hope, patience, wisdom, resourcefulness, creativity, and luck along with good old Happiness!* as we enter 2013. In the (slightly modified) words of The Grateful Dead, we will get by, we will survive and we will take our individual and collective journeys FURTUR. 

* Here is the online Thesaurus on Happiness:

happy[hap-ee] Show IPA
Part of Speech: adjective
Definition: in high spirits; satisfied
Synonyms: blessed**, blest, blissful, blithe, can't complain, captivated, cheerful, chipper, chirpy, content, contented, convivial, delighted, ecstatic, elated, exultant, flying high, gay, glad, gleeful, gratified, intoxicated***, jolly, joyful, joyous, jubilant, laughing**, light, lively, looking good**, merry, mirthful, on cloud nine, overjoyed, peaceful, peppy, perky, playful, pleasant, pleased, sparkling, sunny, thrilled, tickled, tickled pink, up, upbeat, walking on air
Antonyms: depressed, discouraged, dissatisfied, miserable, morose, pained, sad, sorrowful, unhappy

**These are the synonyms that call to me at first glance.
***Good to have this on the list just in case.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Wolfe is still right, but.... --- Day 359

My one year commitment to CIWT is rapidly approaching an end. During that time I've looked back at my grandparents' Lake House and Town House, and photographically, my school and the club. Now (if it sticks), though it makes me uneasy, I feel I need to include our last house as a family - Mom, Dad, me and my three brothers - some time in this CIWT year. So, here it is: Several Bedrooms and Baths, Dock, Boathouse, Tennis Court. Beautiful, Light, Airy in and out. Built by a lumber 'tycoon' in 1917 with some extraordinary wood paneling. It was naturally weathered shingle when we owned it which I prefer to this too grand white. But it doesn't matter much what I prefer because this lovely house on gracious grounds was a casualty of the New Tycoon wealth. Two or three years ago it was bought at full price, demolished. Maybe it saddened the new owners to do this. And I'm sure remodeling would have been extensive and expensive. But, I doubt they appreciated the quality of the house and its site on the rolling grounds because they 'replaced' it with a huge brown hulk that looms over virtually the entire property almost to the boathouse - which I'm sure is gone.

(Re: T. Wolfe Redux...)  You Can't go home again, but writing and looking brings me closer than I've been for a Long time to the fact of this house and the things it touches in me. Also to the unreal and complex fact that, for better or worse, it really doesn't exist any more. One of the first things that comes to mind is that there was always something unreal to me about us living here.  Also this is not the house I lived in with Zipper*, and, therefore, not the one that really feels like home to me. So, I realize while I'm truly sorry the property wasn't more carefully respected architecturally in the rebuilding, I am not as sad as I've supposed myself to be that the house is gone.

Hmmmm....a little less tar baby ('in joke' for cool ciwt readers)

*See Day 1 for Zipper

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Are We There Yet? --- Day 358

Walk: Mindful Body, Trader Joe's/Laurel Village
Distance: 3 miles

There are about 8 days left until I complete my commitment to making a daily post to CIWT, and I am starting to notice a quiet, subtle voice.  It says, "Only 8 more days.  Well, really you've essentially done it already" or "8 more days and your eyes are really dry. That computer might not be good for you."  There are other arguments, but they all lead to the same place: "Don't finish."  "Don't actually write every day for a year."

I've come to enjoy the CIWT writing (mostly) and I really am only 8 days away, so why would part of me be vested in not completing the job/failing actually?  Very strange; wonder when else the voice has shown up without my noticing it.

Well, maybe it's also involved in what for several years I've called my "Tar Baby Syndrome."
This is where I get stuck in something I'm doing, have no interest in continuing but just can't allow myself to quit.  For instance, I'll take a part time job for one reason or another and then not let myself quit it.  I'm clear entering that I'm doing it for some limited reason but, once begun, some guilt trip says essentially "What makes you think you can just not do that?  It's possible to keep that job and add another one. And, when you have those two, you can add a third..."  Just a giant, mushrooming multi-task spurred on by guilt and some sense of having to do "it all." 

When I was copying the graphic below, I saw that it is attached to an article by a time management coach about "Fear of Finishing." Maybe I'll do a little research on that...

Friday, December 28, 2012

Let Me Tell You About Picasso --- Day 357

Walk: Mindful Body (2), Union Square
Distance: 2 miles and teach 2 yoga classes

In college I did my senior art history thesis on a comparison between Picasso's Guernica and Hemingway's For Whom The Bell Tolls as statements about the Spanish Civil War.  It was a rich topic and I had particular fun "decoding" Picasso's symbols in Guernica -  as have scholars and writers since the painting was unveiled in 1937.  To date there has been no agreement about the meaning of Guernica's symbols and interpretations have been widely various and contradictory.  Despite the enormous interest the painting generated in his lifetime, Picasso obstinately refused to explain Guernica's imagery. Guernica has been the subject of more books than any other work in modern art and it is often described as..."the most important work of art of the twentieth century," yet its meanings have to this day eluded some of the most renowned scholars. So it will never be known whether my senior thesis point of view was correct or not.  Of course, I think it was.

I'm tempted now to "decode" Boy Leading A Horse (1906) another famous Picasso painting which also has confounded scholars and led to widely diverse interpretations.  The painting has an interesting and at times controversial history of ownership/provenance having once been owned by Leo and Gertrude Stein and ending at New York's MoMA as one of the two most important and valuable paintings of the Paley Collection donation.  (The other is Cezanne's L'Estaque*).  I have many thoughts about the horse, and the fact that the boy does not actually have reins in his hand - all of which are right of course.  And I am absolutely correct in 'knowing' the boy to be Picasso himself. 

Pablo Picasso, Guernica (1937), Oil on Canvas, 11' x 26.5' (Museo Reina Sofía in Madrid)

Pablo Picasso, “Boy Leading a Horse” (Paris, 1905–1906), Oil on canvas, 86 7/8 in. x 51 5/8 inches, The William S. Paley Collection, courtesy of MoMA.

Pablo Picasso, “Boy Leading a Horse” (Paris, 1905–1906), Oil on canvas, 86 7/8 in. x 51 5/8 inches, The William S. Paley Collection, courtesy of MoMA.

*See Day 314 Post on L'Estaque

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Thomas Wolfe Redux --- Day 356

Walk: Trader Joe's, coffee house
Distance: 2.5 miles

You Can't Go Home Again.  Yet anyway.....

(Yes, for those of you who caught it, this is not the original post.  Our Last House - is under revision, waiting for its time, if ever.  I 'blythely' posted that first essay on the last house my 'family of origin' and I lived in together along with pictures.  Then I became more and more uncomfortable about --not quite sure --.  Basically I just wasn't ready to go that close to home again I guess ).

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Town House --- Day 355

Walk: Mindful Body, Laurel Village
Distance: 1 mile and teach 2 yoga classes

This time of year puts me in mind of the Town House, my grandparents' house in the city.  We always went there at Christmas - the whole family.  We had drinks (another story) and ate dinner (lunch) upstairs.  My favorite was always the peppermint ice cream at the end in the shape of Santas and Christmas trees. 

Then after the meal the door was opened to the downstairs ballroom and the 'special present' was exposed.  My grandfather was a gadget addict so the special present was some gadget he'd been attracted to that year.  One year it was remote cars we all rode around in, another year it was roller skates and the whole family skated around the ballroom.  There were pedal tractors, electronic airplanes and other 'special presents' I can't recall.  The women and even the girl cousins were only mildly entertained, but the boys always went Nuts!  Which was what my grandfather had in mind.

The Town House was a 'miniature Georgean' built in 1923 and had 8 bedrooms, 6.5 baths, and a large gracious winding staircase. The sconces were silver, the dining room had large panels of Greek gods and goddesses, and the furniture was mostly acquired on trips to Europe. The garage was freestanding, as big as a house and had stalls for 6 cars on two levels. One museum curator deemed the Town House the loveliest house in the entire city. A wealthy man who married one of my cousins stood quite struck when he was first brought to the house and finally said "Some pad!" It really was impressive in its proportions and tasteful details.

The era was still one where many events happened at home.  My parents were married at the Town House, and sadly a funeral was held there.   My grandfather loved parties, and they were pretty much continuous.  During the Prohibition/bootleg era I'm sure there were numerous ones where the "special presents" were liquid and spirited.  In my era the parties were big and always had a piano player and people standing around singing.

My grandmother died here in the 1980's, and shortly afterward the house was sold.  In the city where it stands it is rumored that the house has ghosts, and I, for one, believe it.


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Tantra and Tarantino --- Day 354

Walk: Mindful Body, Sundance Kabuki Theater (Django Unchained)
Distance: 2 miles and teach yoga class

Hatha, actually, but it didn't go with Tarantino.  Taught yoga about peace, opening to self, etc. and then went to Tarantino's latest movie - 2:45 hours of 'clever' violence.  Which is my type of violence - there's dumb pyrotechnic/slasher violence and then there's the smart stuff: Psycho, Bonnie and Clyde, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, The Godfather, Miller's Crossing, Pulp Fiction, No Country For Old Men, those kinds of movies.

People who hate violence on the screen would never split these hairs, and you do feel a little odd relishing these movies.  I liked them from the teenage get-go, but tricked my brother into watching the actual deeds and screaming while I was totally clever at knowing just when to cover my eyes and then getting him to tell me what had happened.  He believed I was watching too, and it took him a few years to realize I was doing this.  (Sorry..) 

But then Alfred Hitchcock one-upped the eye-coverers/me with Psycho.  No musical buildup, no obviously scary murder scene, just sudden, completely unexpected, illogical in terms of what you were looking at Violence.  It was never the same after Psycho for me.  Every smart-violent movie from then on was judged for its ability to out-think, out-fox, walk the audience into unforeseen gore and keep it rapt in suspense the whole time.  Sadistic, voyeuristic on everyone's part.

And not easy.  Into this genre walked Quentin Tarantino, an instant master who probably has seen and digested every violent movie in the film canon. As I said, I saw his latest, Django Unchained, today, and once again he is at the top of his top game.  The movie, his version of Spaghetti western,  is complex even in its uncomplex bloodbaths.  Tarantino wraps his scenes in history-based, suspenseful, entertaining, humorous irony.  So you, the movie-goer, admire him for how he has structured and shot the brutal horror.  But when the horror happens, it is truly horror, and there you are mixed up about yourself.  Watching in some mixture of repulsion and awe which becomes self-repulsion for sitting/not leaving the theater watching the grisly, visceral gore. This then leads to even more awe of the writer-director who could have brought you to this point and held you. 

Yoga and Tarantino.  What a mix - and I feel so lucky to have the freedom to put this preposterous combination together on this Christmas day in this amazing city.  Doing what I please watching Tarantino do the same.  Not many would probably choose to follow in these footsteps, but if this is your type of movie, even though it isn't perfect/doesn't have the humor or taut storyline to offset the graphic gore (like Pulp Fiction), you will like it a lot.  Others, stay away...

Monday, December 24, 2012

Never, Ever Give Up --- Day 353

Walk: Fillmore Street, Trader Joe's, Mindful Body
Distance: 3.5 miles and teach yoga class

Today I subbed at the last minute for an ailing teacher.  And so happy I did. 

It was a restorative/very gentle class, but one of the students - a very sturdy, fit appearing young man could not get comfortable no matter what we did.  I worked with him a bit/as best I could since I'd never seen such a thing happen in very gentle classes.  Then afterward I had an opportunity to talk with him. 

Turns out he fought in Iraq where he injured his neck and shoulders and has "been feeling tight around there" ever since.  Probably "tight" means he's been experiencing pain ever since.  Luckily I was truly able to give him hope and inspiration about the ability of yoga to free him.  That's because one of my Saturday students sent me a video about Arthur, another Iraq war vet, who was told over and over he wouldn't walk again but found a way to do it: Yoga - Every Day.

I think my student today was encouraged and inspired  His wife told me that he usually won't mention his injuries to anybody, so I take that to mean he really was present to the information.  And I appreciated being able to thank him and give him a hug - as well as my student who sent me Arthur's video.

Here is an extended cut of Arthur's story (which I believe will be a movie)
If this story can inspire someone you know, please share it with them!



Sunday, December 23, 2012

It Comes, It Goes --- Day 352

Walk:  No; Big Storm

Christmas/Holiday season can be kind of a tangle.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Moment, It Speaks --- Day 351

Walk: Mindful Body
Distance: 14 blocks and teach yoga class

K. Libbey Nash, San Marco - Detail, 2009, Mixed Media 5"X5"

In Christianity The Annunciation is the announcement by the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary that she would conceive and become the mother of Jesus, the Son of God, marking his Incarnation.
On a trip to Italy my artist friend, K. Libbey Nash, "began paying attention to the astounding number of paintings which depict  this critical moment in the history of Christianity - when the Angel Gabriel visits Mary with his important message." She also found the concept  of the Annunciation "asserting itself in my artistic representations of my experience."

As she worked with the concept in her paintings, she came more and more to believe The Annunciation "so exquisitely relevant in contemporary life." And she feels the words of the Scottish poet John Burnside about his poem Annunciation with Zero Point Field capture her thoughts.  Burnside said in an interview: 'For me the emblematic element in the Annunciation paintings or Annunciation story is one of something divine confronting the soul and making a demand of the soul and throughout our lives we are faced with moments when, if we are receptive enough, we could find out something new about the way to live.'

I believe K. Libbey Nash has captured that electrifying stirring up of soul energy in this small but powerful work.


Friday, December 21, 2012

Life of Pi 3D on winter solstice --- Day 350

Walk: Mindful Body, Sundance Kabuki (Life of Pi)
Distance: 3 miles and teach yoga class

Life of Pi does not disappoint.  I knew nothing about it not having read the book and wasn't going to go.  That would have been a mistake.  Luckily many of my yoga students strongly encouraged me to see it. 

Came out quite 'spent' in a tender way.  Very touching, and visually remarkable and gorgeous.

Also - thanks again to a student who is a honcho in one of the U.S. Environmental divisions - here is a link to everything I didn't know about today, Winter Solstice. Eg, if I read correctly, it has already occurred, having happened at 3:21 this morning.  SO, Yesterday was the shortest day!  It felt so much like it I actually remarked on it in CIWT. 

December solstice

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Too Short for Words --- Day 349

Walk: Mindful Body, etc.
Distance: 1 mile and teach yoga class

The shortest day of the year approaches - tomorrow.  Finally learning to go with this, not to fight the darkness. (Sort of)

Last night I stopped my car to capture a bit of our neighborhood festive house in the dark.  (See previous post for late afternoon photo).

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Take Five ---- Day 348

Walk: de Young (last friend's docent qualifying tour), Russian Hill
Distance: 3 miles

Nothing at the writing stage in my mind, so a rest for CIWT.  But before I go, walking home from Russian Hill I did find another festive house just a block away from mine.  Unfortunately it was kind of light so you can't see much twinkling, but it is quite country Italian and dear.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Class that Yoga Built --- Day 347

Walk: Mindful Body
Distance: 9 Blocks and teach yoga class

There were 14 in class today.  Pretty consistently I am getting at least 10 people attending.  I would bet this is the largest yoga class in the Bay Area at 3:00 on Tuesday afternoons.  When I started almost 10 years ago, maybe 2 people attended.  There were several/many days of no students or just a single one. I'm not at all sure why I continued - especially since I really wasn't sure I wanted to be a yoga teacher or exactly why I was teaching.

One initial reason was that I wanted a reliable forum where I could get more comfortable speaking in public.  Another was that after the training I knew I had yoga in me.  I was prepared to teach, so, do it I guess.  One vague reason silently morphed into another, students showed up, some of them stuck around, my teaching grew, an ad hoc community began to form. 

The owner of the studio is a regular attendee/my student, several studio personnel also love the class, sometimes people take the day off from work or consistently rearrange their work schedules to be able to attend.  And more.  It is quite a meaningful place for them and me to be.

I just kept showing up.  Such is the nature of yoga.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Doctor, My Eyes (and Back, and..) --- Day 346

Walk: Mindful Body, Fillmore Street
Distance: 2 miles, acupuncture, take yoga class, chiropractic, eye exam

Like a lot of people, at the end of the year I sometimes cram in a flurry of deductible health type procedures.  Today I had so many I'm too wired to sit and write.  And, here come the holidays for real!!!  Can you feel it?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Oh man, Derain - Pt. 2 --- Day 345

Walk: Cinema Club (Quartet), de Young (Another Docent friend's AOA qualifying tour)
Distance: 3 miles

Some artists evolve (at least in the eyes of their patrons and art historians) and others devolve among the same viewers and collectors.  In my research on Derain I find I'm not alone in feeling he devolved.  According to Lucie-Smith in his book on the lives of 20th C artists*: Of all the major figures in the Ecole de Paris, Andre Derain's reputation has sunk into the deepest trough.

Abandoning Fauvism, Cubism and all pre-WW I modernist movements in favor of French neo-classicism was the top level of that trough in my opinion.  The lower levels of the trough include making a sizable income from painting stage sets, ultimately preferring drama/the stage to painting, hobnobbing with wealthy collectors, and, perhaps lowest of all, accepting an invitation by Hitler to come to Germany as his guest.  In joining Hitler, he symbolically joined with Hitler's glorification of classical art and derision of modern art which he confiscated (or somehow acquired), deemed 'degenerative' and displayed in Germany as such. 

My personal sense is that the painting I love, Derain's fauvist masterpiece (Bridge over the Riou, 1906 - see Day 344) and his other successful fauvist paintings were never really deep in Derain's artistic vocabulary. At the time he painted these his best friend was Maurice de Vlaminck, and the two young men together were graced with the friendship of Matisse.  The three discussed painting in the cafes of Montmartre, critiqued each others' works, and I would say both Derain and Vlaminck were basically standing on Matisse's artistic shoulders during the fauve period.  Almost as soon as life took them in different directions from Matisse, both artists abandoned bright, clear colors and eventually embraced neo-classicism and a wealthy bourgeois lifestyle and company.  Vlaminck too went to Germany at Hitler's invitation.

Matisse, again in my opinion, went on to glory.

Henri Matisse, Portrait of Andre Derain, 1905

*Edward Lucie-Smith, Lives of the Great 20th Century Artists, (Thames and Hudson, London), 1999

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Oh man, Derain --- Day 344

Walk: Mindful Body, Fillmore Street
Distance: 15 blocks and teach yoga classt in cold rain

Perhaps my favorite painting in the de Young Paley Collection show is this clear, bright fauvist oil by Andre Derain.  No matter how many times I look at it, it feels fresh, new and surprises me with happy energy.

André Derain. (French, 1880-1954). Bridge over the Riou. 1906. Oil on canvas

And, sadly, I cannot look at a later Derain, also in the exhibition, without a sense of disappointment.

Andre Derain. (French, 1880- 1954) The Rehearsal, 1933. Oil on canvas

What happened?  I would like to explore this question and get back to CIWT on where my research leads factually and intuitively.

PS   - Unbelievably I see I am only 21 days from fulfilling my one year commitment to a daily CIWT post.  At this point I can't imagine life without CIWT and presume I will make a new goal to continue.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Mde. and Srta. --- Day 343

Walk: Sundance Kabuki (Lincoln - 2nd time even better), Trader Joe's, Sacramento Street
Distance: 3.5 miles and teach yoga class

paley 1

Mde. Lili Grenier, Henri De Toulouse Lautrec, o/c, circa 1888

From her life-size oil portrait hanging in one gallery of the de Young's William S. Paley Collection, a Taste for Modernism exhibition, Madame Grenier glances at her visitors with disdain. In addition to his skill as a satiric painter of Paris-Cabarets' images, Henri De Toulouse-Lautrec was a gifted portraitist.  He was known to be amused by Mde. Grenier who at 20-something had secured a marriage to a wealthy man and manages in this 1888 portrait to put into her face an air of superior, self-satisfied indolence.

The painting is not necessarily for me, but I found it to be more memorable than I realized when I saw a recent newspaper photo of her current 20-something look alike:

 Actress  (and Srta.)Paz de la Huerta

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Sneak Preview ---- Day 342

Walk: de Young (friend's qualifying tour), Mountain Lake Park, Trader Joe's
Distance: 6 miles

Enough thinking for today.  In later posts I may have some things to say about these two paintings:

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Piano Men --- Day 341

Walk: de Young Museum (join 2 friends' final qualifying docent tours), Fillmore Street
Distance: 2 miles

Walking by a really small piano tuning and refinishing store down the hill from me I  (finally) noticed a warm Christmas display.

The store is owned by a man whose whole life is pianos and perfect sound.  A charming article was written about him and his totally 'low key' venue last month in our local neighborhood rag, The New Fillmore.  It was a real 'aww' article about his fidelity to music, his quiet obsession with perfect pitch, something about sitting at a piano and being able to play almost instantly, and especially nice because we neighbors who don't play piano but pass by his store, love its presence and wonder who he is.

Then this month there was a letter from him to the editor.  I assumed it would be some sort of thank you.  Not at all, politely but exactingly he ripped the article and its author to shreds for complete factual 'fantasy.' It was shocking and exciting to read (not what you expect in a little local paper), and it made me admire him/his character even more.  This is a deeply honest, exacting and unpretentious man.

Knowing this I looked a little closer at the sheet music sitting quietly in the middle of his display.  A very touching tribute; there is no way the composer would have such a place of honor in the piano man's display unless he was immanently worthy.  And, boy, was he - as well as a local kid who made good for the world.

Probably my flash obscures the name on the music: Dave Brubeck (December 6, 1920 - December 5, 2012).  ("Fantasy" article that also contains quite a bit of truth on Robert C. Bell (piano tuner and refinisher), 2011 Divisadero, San Francisco.  I'll add his rebuttal if I can find it in accessible form). 


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

SF Does Xmas, Pt. 2 --- Day 340

Walk: Mindful Body, Fillmore Street
Distance: 18 blocks and teach yoga class

On my way to Opera Plaza and the Asian Art Museum Sunday I looked for more Christmas decorations. 

Here is what I found:

Maybe you think I walked by all sorts of decorated houses and public buildings, but no.  This is the only Christmas 'Shrine' I saw.  Here is how our City Hall is decorated:

I started out a week or so ago feeling whimsical and ha ha about the dearth of holiday decorations, but now I wonder.. Is it just 'melting pot' San Francisco that doesn't make a big deal of the holiday season, or are other parts of the country also feeling less spirited than usual?  What is usual now?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Slower Yoga --- Day 339

Walk: Mindful Body, Trader Joe's, Chiropractic,, Fillmore Street
Distance: 5 miles, acupuncture, take yoga class

A friend's friend has a blog in which he recently wrote about totally dismissing slow songs 'in the day' and now loving to listen to them for hours.  I sent him a comment saying, yes, 'back in the day' yoga for me was 2-3 classes a day - fast, fast, faster.  And now I could spend hours (or not) exploring the details and opening to the depth of a slow practice.  Not sure when that shift began - or how voluntary it was- but

 has become

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Asian Art Museum --- Day 338

Walk: Opera Plaza Cinema (The Flat), Asian Art Museum
Distance: 4.5 miles

Took two tours at the Asian Art Museum today and told one docent that I thought it would be difficult to be a docent at this museum because there would be a lot of Asians who would know much more about everything you were presenting.  He surprised me by saying, "Not at all; people are people.  Unless they develop a deep curiosity about a topic and pursue it, they mostly go about their daily lives.  Asians on my tours are generally just as uninformed/curious to know about Asian art and all the things it touches on (History, Religion, Politics, Technology, etc) as everyone else."

No one else was standing at the Docent Tour sign so I was lucky to have a private tour.  And, generously he made it 90 minutes instead of the prescribed 30 during which he did a marvelous job making the extremely noteworthy collection very accessible to my 'Western' mind. Here's just one example:

One of the curators at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (whose name my 'private guide' couldn't quite retrieve - not Hoving) deemed these two sculptural figures (about 3.5 feet high I'd estimate) "the most beautiful sculptures in the world."  In the world, ever, pronounced by an expert extraordinaire  -  That
is a huge pause for thought.  At first viewing I would say they do have an aura about them of exquisitely/flawlessly (somehow) serene beauty. 

The Hindu deities Shiva and Parvati, 1000–1100. Cambodia; former kingdom of Angkor. Metamorphosed volcanic rock. The Avery Brundage Collection, B66S2 and B66S3.

And I feel I have to travel from San Francisco because....???

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Art.Basel.Miami Beach --- Day 337

Walk: Mindful Body
Distance: 8 blocks and teach two yoga classes

I was talking to an artist-student-friend today after class, and she was telling me about Art Basel Miami Beach being the worst of things art and, for her, the best.  The worst for her was the wild abundance of the art and the rabid collecting by so many stretched, lifted faces in spandex and mink.  The best she felt was that it set her free. She has felt inhibited by wanting to appeal to buyers, but now that she has witnessed them in droves she feels released.  "Just practice" was the message that came to her.  Just go to her studio and make art as it comes to her.  Just practice like she does yoga, let it emerge at its own pace with its own voice.  Whether it will speak to anyone is beside the point.

Friday, December 7, 2012

SF Does Christmas --- Day 336

Walk: Noe Valley
Distance: 2 miles

Even in the charming, kid and dog friendly neighborhood of Noe Valley, signs of Christmas are few and far between.  On my walk there I only found a mail box so high up it would be difficult for Santa to deliver Christmas cards.

But one neighborhood over, the Castro, I found the Most tasteful and charming Christmas house I believe I've ever seen. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

And the question is.... ---- Day 335

Walk: de Young (last AOA public lecture in connection with  docent training), Presidio Heights
Distance: 3 miles

So, here are just a few of the questions that come up when researching,  viewing, or presenting  AOA (African Oceanic Americas) art:

- What is art? Same question as regards AOA art?
- What is the image from the Jolika Collection of New Guinea Art above about?
- It is a New Guinea spirit figure, but what did or does that mean to the New Guinea people?
- Does/Did it have meaning for just one or a few connected tribes?
- Is it a fragment of a larger ritual object? (Most of what is seen in museums are fragments)
- It is made from mandrake root; what would have been the significance of that material when it was designated a spirit figure?
- We 'know' it is a spirit figure, but how do we know that?  Was this told to a Christian missionary? If so, was he/she told the truth?
- Who was the missionary?  Was he/she a white European or a converted native who actually did most of the conversion work among the native peoples?
- Who was the collector?  A missionary?  For his/her personal collection or for a public collection? A sea captain? For trade and profit?
- Etc. etc.

In this field of art especially the questions are truly never answered (as of yet); one leads to the next; and the answer to virtually all of them is "We don't know for sure..."  Here's a blog entry (with video link)I just found on the Jolika Collection in which the writer attempts to address some of the questions.

Also New Guinea birds are known as the worlds most beautiful (and elusive), and they Too are a source of "profound questions."  Here is a Beautiful! trailer the Cornell Ornithology Lab's Birds of Paradise Project. The lead in ends: As this trailer shows, the opulent plumes and fantastical dances of these 39 species astound us, leaving us with the most profound of scientific questions: Why? Watch them dance.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

"Worthless" Eagle --- Day 334

Walk: Union Square (dentist) and Fillmore Street (just wandering)
Distance:  9 blocks or so

According to the government, this "combine"  (a kind of large-scale, three-dimensional collage that includes photographs, pieces of wood, a mirror, a pillow and a stuffed bald eagle)1. is appraised at $65 Million, and the heirs owe over $40 million in taxes if they keep the work in their collection.  But, according to MoMA to which it was donated and the heirs who received no tax advantage for the donation, the work is on the books as Worthless/$0.  After years of wrangling, the government accepted this arrangement withdrew its tax bill, and MoMA unveiled this extremely significant addition to its collection late last month - where it will join five other Robert Rauschenberg combines.


John Wronn
Robert Rauschenberg's "Canyon" (1959) at Museum of Modern Art.

The legal story is so complex I suggest you read it for yourself (along with a personal opinion) in a December 2 Wall Street Journal article by Eric Gibson. (Or just view the related video). A single sentence quote from it gives a 'feeling sense' of the article:  The arrival of "Canyon" at MoMA is the culmination of a five-year absurdist farce—one tinged more by Kafka than Feydeau—that involved the IRS, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the heirs of art dealer Ileana Sonnabend. It might have been laughable, except that the stakes were so high.

I don't know; I don't usually side with 'Authority/the IRS" but, even if they had to do it in an absurb way or just stumbled into right action in the process of being absurd, I think the government's actions on behalf of protecting wildlife was the correct priority.  To me there does need to be a barrier between dead animals (not just Bald Eagles) and "art."  But, thinking of all those moose heads and dead fish adorning fireplaces, bars and hunting lodges, I wonder where that barrier is.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Paris on My Mind --- Day 333

Walk: JCCSF, Trader Joe's, Mindful Body
Distance: 2 miles, take 1.5 yoga classes, teach yoga class

My next (non) trip (after Berlin) will be Paris either this April or next Fall.  I really would like to get more conversant with some European cities, and 'everyone' in San Francisco loves Paris and finds it really easy to travel to.  Something to look forward to at this darker time of year. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Delicate Debris --- Day 332

Walk: Mindful Body, Fillmore Street/Roam, Trader Joe's, Books Inc
Distance: 3 miles, take yoga class and acupuncture

First major winter storm just blew through the Bay Area. Almost hated to sweep the deck after it. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Did They Have to Name it That? --- Day 331

Walk: Sundance Kabuki (The Fitzgerald Family Christmas), Troya Restaurant, Trader Joe's
Distance: 4 miles

So, Cinema Club again this morning.  The movie, The Fitzgerald Family Christmas,  was written, directed and starred in by Edward Burns.  There were no early screenings for any movie reviewers so our moderator was working with the same short blurb we all were before seeing it with us.  To wit:

The adult siblings of the Fitzgerald family prepare for their estranged father to return home for Christmas for the first time since he walked out on his family 20 years ago.

Between the title, anything to do with Christmas at all and then this blurb, I was not all that thrilled about walking through a mini-San Francisco deluge for this.  And I'd like to report my hesitations were wrong and the movie was excellent - or even good.  But, you know, it just wasn't.  It felt shallow and melodramatic like a soap opera, and there was nothing new to the Irish Fitzgeralds' disfunctionality and struggle about the meaning family.  So much better done by David O. Russell in his 2010 The Fighter which was nominated for seven Oscars, and starred Mark Wahlberg, Amy Adams, Christian Bale, and Melissa Leo - the latter two both winning Best Supporting Oscars.

Okay, that said, I will say after the movie has sunk in for several hours, I believe there might be (a lot of) people who would like the movie. The acting is good and the resolution well-handled and touching.  I would not recommend it, but I wouldn't say "Don't go."  It just wasn't for me.

The Fitzgerald Family Christmas

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Yoga in the Rain --- Day 330

Walk: Mindful Body
Distance: 8 blocks and teach yoga class

I know this is how many men feel when they begin yoga.  Not the least because I felt exactly the same way; when I began taking classes the back of the room was filled with all the men and me.  When the instructor said "Touch your toes" the back room people creaked over maybe 4 inches, back rounded, arms hanging out in space in front of them - and thinking something along the lines of the tin man above.

But when the rainy (or snowy or you name it bad weather) season arrived we stiff  back rowers noticed that at least we were moving, doing something, getting exercise instead of sitting around because the weather wasn't conducive to tennis, golf, skiing, biking, roller blading - whatever our sport was.  Yoga was the first challenging, coordinated- movement oriented activity I found that held my interest and wasn't weather related. And that last made a huge difference over time.

Over time I could make a class plan and actually execute it no matter what the weather.  No making a skiing, tennis, golf, whatever plan and then canceling due to weather.  This consistent availability of the practice provides a trustworthy opportunity for growth and deepening, allows yoga to be a reliable friend and sanctuary.  And, in this tin man's case, yoga literally saves him by bringing him in out of the rain where he will rust and keeping his -albeit stiff -  joints oiled.  If he comes often, he might even loosen up enough to be able to skip down the road in a famous movie.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Terrapin Crossroads Grate Room Gala --- Day 329

Walk: Mindful Body
Distance: 8 blocks and take yoga class

Wish I and my iphone camera had this man's skills:

Jay Blakesberg photographing Bob Weir

I try and try and try...getting blur, microphones, anything but a good shot of Bob and Phil tuning their instruments and together on stage.  Guess you had to be there as they say.  And I was, fulfilling my dream of seeing Phil and Bob together in a small venue.  I was maybe 10 feet at most away from Bob for the concert, and Phil, Jackie Greene and others were often just about as close.  Nice.

Bob Weir adjusting pedal

Phil Lesh finding the sound

Bob, Phil and Jackie Greene dueling guitars center stage.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

MTT and The GD --- Day 328

Walk: Terrapin Crossroads
Distance: A Few Steps in a Huge Downpour(?)

Early today because don't know when I'll get back from concert tonight.  Enjoying reading the few old articles in The New Yorker re: The Dead.  Especially Bill Barich's October 11, 1993 one on Jerry Garcia (Still Truckin').  And here's a passage concerning the Dead in a November 17, 1997 article by Alex Ross on the initiation of MTT as director of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra:

None of this quite prepared audiences for Tilson Thomas's raucous first season in San Franciso in 1995.  Outdoing even his contemporary-minded colleague at the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Esa-Pekka Salonen, he unloaded reams of twentieth-century music and turned again and again to American names.  The truly startling development was the two-week American Festival he held at season's end.  A marathon concert of avant-garde showpieces was capped by a dissonant jam session in which Tilson Thomas joined surviving members of the Grateful Dead.  No one who was there will forget the sight of Davies Hall overrun with Deadheads, or the sound of them cheering Varese's 'Ionisation" and Henry Cowell's "Quartet Euphometri." Most wonderfully, the festival lacked the condencension that so often poisons classical-pop crossover schemes.  It was an authentically festive day - topsy-turvy, at times sublime.

Wish I'd known to go to that!

L: Phil Lesh, Michael Tilson Thomas, Mickey Hart     R: Bob Weir   (1995, San Francisco Chronicle)