Amy has been an inspiration for me over the years. Yes, we share the same name, but also for her ability to take a vision and make it a reality. Before I left Oakland we had been meeting regularly to talk about our various projects. Besides being a wonderful artist she is also an amazing arts manager. Amy founded The Hub at the JCC SF which still flourishes today.
January 25 is the birthday of Scottish poet and bard Robert Burns. To commemorate this national hero Scots and Scot-wanna-be, like myself, participate in a dinner called a Burns Supper.
Featuring Burn’s poetry, written between 1759 and 1796, during his short life of 37 years, the guest of honor is always haggis. Here in American we really don’t know how to make haggis and the few we’ve tasted here are really quite gross – identifiable chewy bits throughout.
Stephen’s work associate Collin (pictured here in the kilt) and his wife Lindsay hosted a supper for their work associates. The guests were a mix of Scotts and Americans. But we all could appreciate Auld Lang Syne, Burn’s most famous poem.
The evening began with the haggis being piped into the room with Collin as its escort. Stephen then performed “Address To A Haggis” which is an Old Scottish English poem that peaks with the stabbing of the haggis. Not the best way to treat an honored guest.
Stephen spoke beautifully. I had never heard him use the rolling “r” – sounding very ancient and lyrical. We all thought he was possessed as his booming voice and dramatic gestures culminated in the stabbing.
We then ate the American haggis which was produced in Florida. There were more poems including this one that Stephen was kind enough to dedicate to me.
My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose
O, my luve’s like a red, red rose That’s newly sprung in June O, my luve’s like the melodie That’s sweetly play’d in tune
As fair art thou, my bonnie lass So deep in luve am I And I will luve thee still, my Dear Till a’ the seas gang dry
Till a’ the seas gang dry, my Dear And the rocks melt wi’ the sun! O I will luve thee still, my Dear While the sands o’ life shall run
And fare the well, my only Luve And fare thee well a while! And I will come again, my Luve Tho’ it were ten thousand mile
Another behavior quirk I’m developing is hyper-spaz-ness. Since the pace of work is so much more laid back and what I’d call a bit slow here I’m jumping out of my skin. Now that I have a variety of projects, jobs and clients that keep me thinking I feel like all my pent up energy from the past six months of Texas living is bursting out of me.
When I’m in meetings I have a zillion ideas, I raise my hand, I nod uncontrollably like a bobble head. Call me Wiggly Jiggly. Again, people don’t get it. I have to hold myself back but really want to jump up and down, spin in a circle, run some jolts of juice through the room.
Thank goodness I have this arts administration class to teach. I’m on stage in the classroom. My students seem to be getting my hyper-spaz-ness and are even now laughing at my antics.
At home Stephen sits and reads a book while watching tv while I cook up a storm in the kitchen, chatter away at him, and run around the house. He fits in here. I feel like I’m visiting from a different planet most of the time. Mr. Bill Bobble Head captures it for me.
I realized that my sense of humor; dark sarcasm and cynicism, don’t fit in to Houston. On the East or Left Coasts it makes sense. Here it doesn’t. People are too polite here. I’m use to verbal battles of cranky, moody, sometimes angry sharing. It seemed more honest and made us feel smarter, better, above the common riff-raff.
Here when I make my comments people either give a nervous laugh, pretend they didn’t hear what I said, stare me in the eyes and just smile politely or ask me to repeat myself. In response I start to mumble what I said again, trying to dig myself out of a social hole.
Example: “It’s this kind of Southern music that makes my brain curdle.” Person I’m talking to stares at me politely, they probably love this music or are related to the singer. I realize my rude comment and try to fix it by saying, “What I means is that Southern music hurts my brain, well I’m sure some day I’ll look back on this statement and laugh while I’m driving my pickup truck and listening to country tunes.” I’ve successfully dug a bigger hole. Person just keeps staring at me with a blank smile.
My first University of Houston class teaching Arts Administration was a success on Monday! The students are superb. Most of them are back at University after years in the business world. Others have recently graduated but actually came back to take the class. I have to take my classes up a notch because they are so savvy – which is a great challenge.
For those of you that want to follow along on our coursework here is what we discussed day one.
Class 1 – January 23, 2006 What is art? What is arts administration?
Discussion Topics: -Arts as a business and why we will focus on nonprofits in this course -What are nonprofits -Conversation about the history of art –the earliest forms of art, culture, craft -Brainstorm about types of art -Art in Houston, the U.S., the world -How does art touch you every day -Who makes art and why -Understanding the creative process - previsualization -Who “consumes” art and why -What competes with the arts - What is a nonprofit -Why nonprofit arts -Defining the bottomline – mission-driven organizations -Discussion of why arts administration its own course – who are arts administrators
Homework Assignment; Read and write a two page paper responding to the Introduction of the article What is an Artist? by Donnell Butler of Princeton University
Philip Seymour Hoffman is Capote. His performance in the film is astonishing - thoroughly convincing. I entered the theater knowing nothing about Capote or In Cold Blood so I had no preconceived notions of this man or his story. Hoffman’s performance presented Capote in a way that allowed you to step into his thoughts and experience his complicated and highly selfish decisions.
It was selfishness that motivated Capote to befriend Perry, the murderer, and for Perry to candidly explore his life and crime. Although there is sincerity, compassion and a bizarre love between the two men the viewer fluctuates between understanding each of their motivations to feeling disgust for each of them.
Monday is the first class of my UHD Arts Administration course and would you believe that I still haven't finished my syllabus or curriculum. Cramming was supposed to have ended when I finished school.
Remind me again why I am trying this sugar free diet? I can't remember and all I want to do is eat sweets. Last night I had my first glass of wine - or any kind of sweet - since last Friday. It was yummy. I miss it. So afraid that this crazy diet is going to make me binge. The cravings for sweets hasn't ended.
But it is okay to crave sweets, right? I should just eat fruits and good-for-you stuff.
I think at this point I'm on the sugar-free part to see if I can get rid of the fantastic headaches I get for several days every four to six weeks.
One thing I've noticed over the last couple of weeks is that my email in-box hardly ever has non-junk emails in it anymore. It use to be filled to the brim with so many emails and I eagerly and promptly responded so that there were at least five threads of conversations going on at once. It was a hectic pace but once you get spinning it is easy to stay the course.
Now that I don't have those ongoing conversations with San Francisco friends I'm only receiving the occasional email and usually I take a bit of time to contemplate and craft my response. Not sure how I feel about this change. I miss staying in touch on a regular basis with so many of my friends but I also am enjoying this slower pace of communications.
Another cool thing that is happening is that my San Francisco friends are now calling me to chat. I use to be an emailer but the phone calls are really nice. My friend Simone and I use Skype, which is an amazing service. With the software, a microphone and speakers you can talk to anyone anywhere for free (so they say on their website). The person you’re calling has to also have the software and hardware. When Simone and I get chatting it is even clearer than being on the phone. Since she’s in the UK, except for the time difference, it is like being together. Of course I miss actually being with her.
Well, I've now completed day three of no grains, no sugar. My stomach is not very happy so I'm reintroducing some grains. The sugar cravings aren't gone but I didn't O.D. on coconut last night so that must be an improvement.
I'm trying a new food diet - not to lose weight, but to feel healthier. This one features no grains or sugars. Yes, that is extreme but the no grain part is only for the first three days. The no sugar goes on forever.
Sugar does bad things to me. Clearly I have an addiction as obviated in my Peeps post last week. It probably wouldn’t be such a big deal except that it makes me actually feel blind. Could this be the start of diabetes? What happens is that when I eat it I can’t see, and of course I then crash. Plus, I have terrible mood swings which I hope will be solved by a sugarless diet. Maybe Stephen hopes so too - although he's not commenting.
So, the first three days, although I think I may try it for a week, are all about protein, vegetables and legumes. It hasn’t been easy. My dreams are filled with eating sugary yum stuff. But that feeling is supposed to go away and then you can reintroduce grains. Plus, I am very moody and am nearly screaming for sugar - more fun for Stephen.
The worst cravings are at night when I regularly have a glass of wine and maybe some dessert. Instead I tried eating fresh coconut, which was not at all satisfying. Ever try to open a coconut? You want to chuck it across the room and even then it won't open. Trust me.
Saturday I worked my first screening for Aurora Picture Show. Appropriately it was a compilation of avant garde cinema classics – something on which to build a foundation of cinema-vocabulary. Curator Michelle Silva of Canyon Cinema was in from San Francisco. Small world?
The eleven films, ranging from one to 15 minutes, were shown with a 16mm film projector – how cool is that. The rattle of the projector, its precarious perch on the 1960’s classroom-like stand and its positioning near the front door reinforced that Aurora homey ambiance.
For me the highlight was Martin Arnold's film Passage a l'acte, 1993. The Austrian filmmaker took a ten second segment from the Hollywood production of stutter, the movements and audio of the original film took on new meaning. Here is what Canyon Cinema says:
“Four people at the breakfast table, an American family, locked in the beat of the cutting table. The short, pulsating sequence at the family table shows, in its original state, a classic, deceptive harmony. Arnold deconstructs this scenario of normality by destroying its original continuity. It catches on the tinny sounds and bizarre body movements of the subjects, which, in reaction, become snagged on the continuity. The message, which lies deep under the surface of the family idyll, suppressed or lost, is exposed – that message is war.”
Nicking the Never, the title of the Marina Zurkow installation at DiverseWorks is enticing enough to check out the exhibition. Friday night we attended the opening reception and DW3D member after party at a photographer’s studio down the dock. What a scene!
A funk band jammed in the photographer’s studio as the crowd chowed on giant Whole Foods cookies and other yummy and savory treats. I couldn’t stop looking at the knickknacks around the studio and then of course the menagerie of people. Stephen later commented, “these are the people we should be hanging out with in Houston.”
The Zurkow exhibition features ten screens hanging in the darkened exhibition space. Each has a seemingly-simple animation of a hip young woman moving through repetitive tasks. Speakers placed beneath each screen periodically play a clever sounding electronic tune that makes the room feel very much like a dance club. I could stand in the space and watch this for hours. The images are relaxing, maybe even mesmerizing. You can check view unused scenes on her website.
Once you read Zurkow's explanation of the work you want to pick her brain to really understand the depths of the meaning. On her website she writes:
"Nicking the Never” is a multi-linear installation that incorporates screen-based animated narratives into a sculptural interface. Composed of allegories about a young girl stuck in a kinetic world of emotional pitfalls, this kaleidoscopic trip into the states of selfhood bases its structure in the Tibetan Buddhist Wheel of Existence, whose images luridly and vividly describe the human struggle with need, jealousy, complacence, aggression, desire, and ego. Borrowing this emotional taxonomy, “Nicking the Never” unfolds in six corresponding short chapters: “Guzzle,” “Bash,” “Buoy,” “Smash,” “Nuzzle,” and “Dash.”
The exhibition is up at DiverseWorks until February 25, 2006. Check it out!
For all of you waiting on the edge of your seat to find out if the University of Houston class is going forward - it is! Now I have to really prepare.
Remember those anxiety nightmares you got as a student about not showing up to class because you didn't know you were registered until the final exam? I've actually had a few about being a professor and not being prepared, showing up late, students being unhappy. Feels like when you get pimples at 36.
If I have my personal email application open on my desktop I have to check it every three minutes. Even if it is hidden under six windows I know it is there and I have to check. Funnily enough (always wanted to use that expression) I have the same issue with sweets in the house. They call my name, they whisper in my ear, they scratch at my brain. Another addiction like Peeps? Rehab needed.
George, my new Scion, is very petite. I’ve noticed that while I’m zipping around in him it appears that cars are getting mighty close to his butt. At first I thought they were antagonizing my beautiful but unfamiliarly-shaped George. Then I finally realized that because there is no trunk the cars behind me pull up very close to pass or stop at the light. The feeling of looking in the rear view mirror and seeing giant headlights just a few feet away is unnerving. But George doesn’t care. He’s use to bigger dogs sniffing his butt. Check this out - a Scion forum. So I'm not the only Scion addict. It costs $10/month to post. Okay, maybe they're more into than me.
In an irrational daze of tiredness, in search for a free e-card website, I let down my defenses and let a website install all kinds of wicked stuff on my computer. My fault, I hit all the “OK” and “I ACCEPT” buttons and watched it happen. The "Oh No" moment came when my home page changed to the website of this not-to-be-named e-card service. Turns out it was more than e-cards – they loaded all kinds of gambling software and pop-up ads on my system. The ads even popped-up without being linked to the internet.
Luckily and hopefully I was able to de-install it all. You just know that there is spywear polluting my computer.
Do my friends that send me e-cards actually subscribe to the services?
I have a full blown addiction to peeps. My favorite time of year is a couple of days after each holiday for which they have peeps - Easter, Halloween, Xmas. I purchase and pig out on peeps that are now on clearence sale. Just purchased two packages and ate them in two minutes. Just 12 cents a pack and they pack a punch. Waiting for that suger crash.
Plus, I'm a card carrying member of the Peeps fan club thanks to my brother. What's next, the NRA? Help.
2005 was a year filled with change. Stephen and I moved from the (relative) safety, comfort and familiarity of Oakland, CA to the mysterious place called Houston, TX. We weren’t looking to move and we loved living in the SF Bay Area. When the opportunity came our way we said, “what the heck” and shocked everyone.
Six months later we are settled in Houston. I have started a new job at Aurora Picture Show, continue to offer Arts Management Consulting and am establishing a great network of friends.
Leaving behind many great friends, fun projects and a wonderful community has only been softened by the ability to jet quickly across the country, send emails, skype and use the cell phone.
My mom's camera lens broke so I traded with her. In fact, I really liked the fuzzy effect of the broken lens and had several days of fun looking at shape, color and texture - purely composing. Here are the best images.
The last image is actually our arrival back in Houston at sunset. Remember from my earlier post I was drunk from the First Class Flight so I was already seeing out of focus. I've just learned that in the Hip Hop lingo I was sippn' and tippn'.
Don't be alarmed, we didn't find a mummy at Tent Rocks - that's my dad performing his typical wacky humor. When he got to the top of this climb he stopped to call his office on his cell phone. When you are that close to heaven who do you think of calling? My mom borrowed the phone and called my sister and grandmother who were vacationing in Arizona. Perhaps the good cell phone reception was coming from the giant dish mounted in Los Alomos National Laboratory a couple of dozen miles away.
Back to happier thoughts - about these Tent Rocks. They natural wonder is formally known as Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument. The Bureau of Land Management website describes these natural wonders.
"The cone-shaped tent rock formations are the products of volcanic eruptions that occurred 6 to 7 million years ago and left pumice, ash and tuff deposits over 1,000 feet thick. Tremendous explosions from the Jemez volcanic field spewed pyroclasts (rock fragments), while searing hot gases blasted down slopes in an incandescent avalanche called a “pyroclastic flow.” In close inspections of the arroyos, visitors will discover small, rounded, translucent obsidian (volcanic glass) fragments created by rapid cooling. Please leave these fragments for others to enjoy.
Precariously perched on many of the tapering hoodoos are boulder caps that protect the softer pumice and tuff below. Some tents have lost their hard, resistant caprocks and are disintegrating. While fairly uniform in shape, the tent rock formations vary in height from a few feet to 90 feet." Tent Rocks
Luminarias - Old Town Albaquerque on Christmas Eve while we waited for my parents to arrive from the East Coast. We spent several hours wandering around the area and then eagerly awaited sunset.
Retablos - would you believe that these are located in an Albaquerque McDonald's? The manager agreed that it is the most beautiful McDonald's in the world. It looks like something out of Mexico City - my favorite city.