Sunday, November 25, 2007


For some reason I've been able to remember nearly all of my dreams for the last week. Maybe it's all the turkey in my diet, or the whiskey-spiked soy egg nog. (Which, FYI, is the best thing to come out of the holiday season--ever--and that's a fact. I love soy egg nog so much that if I were to get a cut I would probably bleed soy egg nog).

Anyways. Dreams. Carl Jung said in "The Meaning of Psychology for Modern Man":

The dream is a little hidden door in the innermost and most secret recesses of the soul, opening into that cosmic night which was psyche long before there was any ego dreams we put on the likeness of that more universal, truer, more eternal man dwelling in the darkness of primordial night. There he is still the whole, and the whole is in him, indistinguishable from nature and bare of all egohood. It is from these all-uniting depths that the dream arises, be it never so childish, grotesque, and immoral.

I like the idea of being an "eternal man dwelling into the darkness of primordial night", however, if that's true, I think the "secret recesses" of my soul are really kinda superficial. I mean, take this one that I posted a few years ago. Also, here are some quotes and scenarios that have filled my sleeping state recently:

--"I don't mind walking the catwalk in a pumpkin suit, but I just hate it when they make you say 'thanks for the salad' before you do a turn." --unknown girl.

--"Put my love into the sauce you spread on all your friends." --I have NO idea who this dude was in my dream, but he said this to me. And I think he was wearing a Peter Pan costume.

--"I just came to deliver your mail. Yeah, I sing and work for USPS. Is Andy here?" --Emily Newsom, Joanna Newsom's sister, who my friend Andy claims he knows.

--In a dream that I had a few nights ago, me and my friend Crazy P are trying to catch a flight to Tokyo, but she has to stop at Starbucks first. We are already late to the airport, but she has to stop at a second Starbucks. Eventually we are over an hour late, and she must stop at the Starbucks at Dolores Park (which does not exist in real life, thank god). We miss our flight. The end.

--In my most recent dream, I am visiting my friend Sarah V at her new home in the Lower Haight which is an old dilapidated Victorian. She lets me do laundry there. She shares her laundry room with the rest of the building. From the window I can look up into the neighboring building to see a step aerobics class in session. One of Sarah's neighbors tells me that they are a cult of "perfect healthy living". I look up and say, "Shit! Is that a smoothie he is balancing on his head?" --Yes, the neighbor says, that is the instructor, he is trying to teach them how to balance a smoothie on their heads while doing step aerobics. The end.

In summary, here is a good comic from toothepastefordinner:

Monday, November 19, 2007


I finally watched this Wes Anderson American Express commercial. It's true, this credit card commercial is actually his finest work to date. Not to knock the Darjleeng Limited, which I saw a few weeks ago and adored, but this is like a quick megadose of high quality Anderson injected straight to the jugular and I am such a junkie.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


What will you do in your golden years? Sit around foaming at the mouth and yelling at the television, your decrepit cat shedding in your lap, a lean cuisine Salsbury Steak snugly resting on the table next to your recliner?

That's not what these fine folks, pensioners in Glasgow, have been up to. Nope, as part of Henry VIII, an art collective based out of a local university, they have been serving as models, re-enacting various "Iconic Moments of the Twentieth Century":

Re-enactment of "Viet Cong Assassination"

Although I prefer this G-rated re-imaging:

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


I finally managed to watch Marin Scorsese's "No Direction Home", a documentary about Bob Dylan and his controversial imprint on the 60s folk music scene, after I caught a few seconds of it last year in London. Borrowing generous amounts of footage from DA Pennebaker's '67 documentary on the reluctant icon, the film is fascinating to anyone not born before Dylan's heretic days of "going electric", in which he was literally decried as a Judas, and blasted--directly by the public (more pronounced in England than anywhere else, really) and the media for going too mainstream and not taking the Joan Baez route of political activism.

My favorite scene takes place at a massive press meeting (this was before he was to turn on his public and go more rock n'roll). A fluffy-haired, smug Bob Dylan sits before a sea of camera flashes, of course wearing his trademark black sunglasses. A
voice begins to question him from off-camera--it's some 50s squarehead reporter, in complete Ozzie and Harriet-style baritone:

Reporter: How many people who major in the same musical vineyard in which you toil, how many are protest singers? That is, people who use their music, and use the songs to protest the uh, social state in which we live today, the matter of war, the matter of crime, or whatever it might be.

Bob Dylan: Um... how many?

Reporter: Yes. How many?

Bob Dylan: Uh, I think there's about uh, 136.
[Other reporters start to laugh]

Reporter: You say ABOUT 136, or you mean exactly 136?

Bob Dylan: Uh, it's either 136 or 142.

This kind of sarcasm typifies Dylan's attitude towards the mainstream, or at least it did in the beginning of his career. And as far as his musical direction is concerned, it's admirable that Dylan refused to let the public influence him; he really seemed to be on his own inner mission. And it is this quality to his persona that led some to believe his work was truly marked by divinity. This viewpoint only adds to the myth behind the man.

But it seems to me that, in his golden years, Dylan has in fact taken the public denouncement of his sell-out ways and expanded them in spite. A few years back, I was more than a little upset to find him playing his guitar in a Victoria's Secret commercial. And then today I came across this Cadillac/XM Radio commercial of him on youtube:

I'm sorry if I find absolutely no artistic value in this atmospheric lonesome travelin man bit of commercial shit. C'mon, is this what one of the best songwriters--if not THE best--of the 20th century has been reduced to:

Music sounds a little sweeter, a little bit neater
When your windows are rolled down
and you got your hands at 10 and 2

I just wish he didn't have to actively tarnish the legacy of his music will this crap. I don't think that's too much to ask of you Bob Dyaln. I really don't.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

My long-lost British novelist father, Clive Sinclair, just emailed with an update on his latest, "Clive Sinclair's True Tales of the Wild West." He asked me if I didn't mind being acknowledged. Of course I had to oblige, feeling honored he would ask.

(From left to right: Seth, Haidee, Clive and me)

It was nearly four years ago that I journeyed across 11 states in a little over two weeks with him, his son (my boyfriend at the time), Clive's girlfriend and her daughter, as well as her daughter's best friend. We began in San Francisco, making our way up to Wyoming for the "Mother of All Rodeos", down to Wichita, all the way down to San Antonio, where we met Kinky Friedman on his ranch. He gave me a Saint Mary night light.

It was a strange yet exciting predicament to find oneself in, visiting old forts, Indian reservations, film sets from old westerns, buffalo ranches, etc--with five Brits. Clive was doing research for a book, that was all I knew, and I was more than excited about going along for the ride. As one of the most published English critics of the American West and it's pop-culture (I don't know what the competition's like there, but he's ALWAYS reviewing something or another for the Times or the Guardian or something), I assumed he would be writing a travel guide. Given his track record for writing fiction, however, I don't know why I assumed this. His new novel, from what I read in the synopsis, is a work of historical fiction or, as Clive has dubbed it, "Dodgy Realism."

I never held any sort of appreciation for the Western film genre, or anything related to that barbaric time in American history before this trip. The closest bit of interest I felt growing up was for grisly tales of cannibalism, namely the Donner Party story, since I lived very close to the trail they took during their grim sojourn to the unforgiving wilds of the Truckee mountains.

But when I looked at my country's legacy from a British perspective, I could see why it could seem so romantic, so epic; almost mythological. These lawless, enterprising, and at times blood-thirsty early Americans were forces to be reckoned with, forces which still contribute to our national culture and identity (i.e. President Cowboy exploring and exploiting foreign lands in classic wild west tradition).

My trip was enlightening, and many moments will stay with me forever. Staring straight into the eyes of a buffalo, just a few feet away, was one such moment. I don't know how may people can say that they stared straight into the eyes of a beast capable of ripping them to shreds, yet could feel a raw soulfulness that shook them to their core.

I tip my hat off to Clive for giving me the opportunity to experience those moments. And hope that his journeys into the Wild West never end.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


Last weekend I had to get out of town, had to get away from it all, had to visit my granny in Huntsville, Alabama.

The culture shock never ceases to be any less shocking with every visit to the South, where most of my extended family lives. The people just seem to get fatter, the strip malls longer, and the accents more and more inaudible. The only things which struck my as culturally significant, "signs of our times" perhaps, were the drive-through Starbucks (see picture), the proliferation of Mexican restaurants, and the slovenly dressed, malnourished-looking folks selling goods, yard sale style, in front of the Piggly Wiggly or Wal-Mart--this was particularly disturbing to me, as I was reminded of a scene in "Roger and Me" where a woman in Flint, Michigan is selling rabbits at her home, "For food or meat". Desperate times, desperate times.

I guess I've been in California too long, or Europe for that matter.

The South is a source of constant fascination for me. It will always be a part of me, not only my heritage, (my father's side of the family includes slave-loving, marauding confederates including Nathaniel Bacon of "Bacon's Rebellion", much to our amusement and shame), but also as a place where I began to form my identity as an adult.

How I got there is irrelevant, but, after growing up in California and Nevada all my life, I found myself in Mississippi for my first year of high school. I was horrified by what I experienced: being picked on mercilessly by preppy cheerleaders who thought I was from another planet, blacks and whites sticking to opposing ends of the classroom, teachers taking students out to the halls with a wooden paddle to discipline them, English teachers who seemed to be speaking anything was frightening, and I had to get out. After one month, my mother found a new school for me in Memphis which centered on the performing arts, and was far more progressive in a sense.

I'll never forget that day in the Principals' Office, where me and my mother nervously awaited the Principal himself so that we could file the necessary papers to get me the hell out of Mississippi.

In a classic cowboy swagger, he came up to me and said, "So, Yn'kee, are school ain't good enough fer ya?" I looked up at this towering man, reflecting upon the fact that several of my textbooks at his "fine establishment"were recognizable from classes I'd had two years ago, and the fact that half of my day was spent in study hall, sleeping and dreaming of escape...meekly, I replied, "'s not that.." He interrupted, "I'm just teasin."

And that was that. I got out, and, although the remainder of the school year was spent in Tennessee, I headed back to the West as soon as possible and knew then that I wasn't a creature of the last weekend I went to Huntsville.

Besides spending time with my grandmother, two delightful aunts, a sweet uncle and a teenage cousin, I spent time reading novels and transcribing everything interesting I could find. This included recipes from Southern Lady magazine, and poems from my scholarly great-gradmother, Faye Brownfield, who graduated from Mount Union College in Ohio some time around the 1920s or 30s. These were written somewhere around that time; taken from a booklet she put together for her family entitled, "Verses For Those Who Love." This is one of my favorites:

A Wheel

Were I a wagon wheel
Joined to the rest by fate
To try the road ahead,
I would not wait
Til it was leveled.

I would take
Fate's jolts and jars, my toll
Because I was a wheel
And made to roll.

Were I a mere cart wheel,
One of a willing pair
To bear a lesser road,
Well, I would share
Nor wish to have it lightened.

I would dare
To rumble toward the goal,
Because I was a wheel
And made to roll.

But, were I just the wheel,
The rest disintegrate
And I alone were left,
Then I would hate
To be a round white ghost
Beside a gate,
No burdens to control
As when I was a wheel
All set to roll.

Great wheel I never was
Or ever hoped to be
But make some other use
Of what remains of me,
Til hub and tire and spoke
Have ceased to be
Be glad, be glad my soul.
That I have been a wheel
That loved to roll.

Here's another one, written in 1942, that, she noted, was used during a sermon at her church:

Would Be Author

I wrote, but lived apart from life.
I wrote in vain.
I lived and loved; joined in the strife;
Knew joy and pain.

The leaves of my book that might
have been
Are yellow with age.
But the love I gave my fellow man
Makes a living page.

Cheers Faye, cheers Alabama.