Monday, May 21, 2007

as Borat says, "I liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiikkke"

I saw an amazing play yesterday called "Yellow Face" by David Henry Hwang at the Taper in downtown LA. It dealt with issues of race versus culture, identity/ethnicity politics, racial profiling, wrongly accused scientist Ho Min Lee, Jonathan Pryce's portrayal of the Vietnamese pimp in Cameron McKintosh's Miss Saigon, the case around Hwang's father and the Far East Bank... and it was funny, sad, sharp and electric. Very exciting and potent theater.
Also, I just read a remarkable screenplay, "Kinsey," ... remarkable most especially because of the subject matter and the actual source material Bill Condon weaves into the writing. The book, called "Kinsey: Public and Private" includes newspaper articles from the 1940s and 1950s responding to Kinsey's research and various publications, actual interviews with subjects, biographies of Kinsey, general historical context info, writing by leading sex and gender-research specialists, and more. Fascinating.
I highly recommend checking out both if you can.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Kids-- put some tacks or bottle caps on your shoes

"I mean, are having little bubbles in your shoes really going to make you jump 6 inches higher??! I don't think so!"
A kid, who is probably at least 30 now, said this in a video called "Buy Me That!" The teacher I am subbing for left this for the 6th grade Journalism Elective class and I loved it.
I heard horror stories from circa 1991 12 year-olds who had gotten hooked on New Kids and DJ Jazzy Jeff 900-numbers... Seriously, actual 11 year-olds were talking about how they got "addicted to 900 numbers, like you'd get addicted to anything else... It started with 2 or 3 calls a day, and then, I just LOVED it, I was making maybe 20 calls a day, spending hours on the phone!" One girl talked about how she "found out later the first minute was 2 dollars, and each minute afterwards was 45 cents." She had been "hooked for two months." Fortunately, her "mom called ATT and they took it off because they felt bad and they understood." FOR REAL?? And my parents thought it was bad when I talked to my friends or BOYS on the phone!

I heard kids talk about how Pogo Balls were in fact not all that easy OR FUN to play with (contrary to the advertisements), how it would be pretty hard to "dance like Paula Abdul in those Reeboks unless you put tacks or bottle caps on your shoes or something" ...


Anyway, then the current 6th-graders and I had a pretty honest discussion about advertising and how "everyone is always trying to sell you something" ... especially when you live in LA and the tension of commerce vs. culture is so blurred anyway.
I tried to emphasize the importance of not being passive to the media's influence on you, but instead really observing it and trying to think objectively about how and/or why they would be targeted to buy a certain thing. It's crazy because I think about how intense the world we live in right now is-- with the opportunities for access to INFINITE amounts of information, with the realities becoming more and more widely-understood about our environment and the negative impact we are having on it, with the extremely confusing conflicts/violence going on in the Middle East, in Africa, in cities AND suburbs across the U.S., and I am just floored that so many kids seem to care SO MUCH about clothes, shoes, cell phones, ipods, jewelry, and other material stuff... and seem so disengaged with the rest of it.
Anyway, I think a good place to start changing that is with teaching kids to ask questions, to challenge what they are being told, and to encourage them again and again to think for themselves. It really would do them and the world so much good!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

I went to return a book to a friend last night and found I had dog-eared several pages. Growing up in a book store I learned at a young age this was not the way to treat a beloved book. Nevertheless, sometimes i just can't help myself. I re-read the pages I had folded over and found the passages I had responded to so deeply. There they were, just waiting for me to find them and immediately I felt all over again the intensity and emotion I felt the first time through. I responded to them I guess because they reminded me of myself, or moments in my life, or feelings I have felt, and the author was able to express the feelings so precisely, so simply. So much so that for me it is almost like a religious experience. When I experience some piece of art, play, dance, music, poem, prose, person, nature, or more recently-- athleticism, a wonderful calm comes over me and I feel a light inside. I don't know what it is exactly, but it is magical.
This whole blogging this is very much of an experiment, a work-in-progress, and I am figuring out just what I'd like it to be through the writing. I like the idea of sharing something I found wonderful though, putting it out there, into the greater consciousness, like blowing the feathery seeds off a dandelion never knowing where or what they will bring... into the wind.

Here are the passages:

She was lucky enough to find a furnished apartment on a short-term lease in a pleasant, tidy little building on top of a hill on the outskirts of town. The view was superb. Nearby was a place where she could practice piano. The rent wasn’t cheap but if she found herself strapped she could always rely on her father to help out.
Thus Miu began her temporary but placid life in the town. She attended concerts at the music festival and took walks in the neighborhood, and before long she’s made a few acquaintances. She found a nice little restaurant and cafĂ©, which she began to frequent. From the window of her apartment she could see an amusement park outside town. There was a giant Ferris wheel in the park. Colorful boxes with doors forever wed to the huge wheel, all of which would slowly rotate through the sky. Once one reached its upward limits, it began to descend. Naturally. Ferris wheels don’t go anywhere. The gondolas go up, they come back down, a roundabout trip that, for some strange reason, most people find pleasant.
In the evenings the Ferris wheel was speckled with countless lights. Even after it shut down for the night and the amusement park closed, the wheel twinkled all night long, as if vying with the stars in the sky. Miu would sit near her window, listening to music on the radio, and gaze endlessly at the up-and-down motion of the Ferris wheel. Or, when it was stopped, at the monument-like stillness of it.
We each have a special something we can get only at a special time of our life. Like a small flame. A careful, fortunate few cherish that flame, nurture it, hold it as a torch to light their way. But once that flame goes out, it’s gone forever.
p. 178

Sputnik Sweetheart
Haruki Murakami

Thursday, May 10, 2007

birthday in new york city

Tuesday I was walking through Bryant Park in the morning, perfect light, blue sky, warm, everyone frisky and jumping...

I heard a bird calling behind me
louder and growing closer, it being a park, I was not so surprised but then it came swooping by me.
It wasn't a bird at all but a man who must identify as a bird. He was making different bird sounds-- different frequencies, quiet and soft, and then once in a while flapping his arms. Quite beautifully actually. Long and strong arms and he would arch his back and stretch his neck. His dreads bouncing and cascading over his shoulders or resting in absolute stillness. Sometimes he stopped still standing on just one leg, the other leg bent and folded into his standing leg like a flamingo.
He meandered through the park and I followed him. All who experienced the bird man shared smiles and laughs, or glances at least. I heard three different people say aloud: "Only in New York."
So true.

Happy Birthday it was.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

may days

For days Alice sick with a fever STOP
Went to camp nurse for rest STOP
Didn't turn out so well STOP
Now hard comb and head burning shampoo STOP
The bed had lice but she's feeling better START

the school infirmary really did give me the willies. Wool blankets hard as brillo pads.
And did you hear about the poor acrobat in the Mexican circus? He fell in the middle of his act. Right before the Ringleader said something like, "now, boys and girls, with just the slip of a wrist or the snap of a rope, what you're about to see-- it could be fatal." Hopefully the "Ahhhhhhh" in a on-the-edge-of-their-seats-EXCITED way was the last sound the man heard, and not so much the sadly clairvoyant introduction.

RIP all the ones we've lost in flight