Really I have not much to say for myself, lately.


Easy to slip a few blogless days when there's film scanning involved. I am deeply annoyed by dust! It seems like it should be so easy to slip the negative into the film holder, slap it on the scanner glass & press a button, but noooo, I am plagued by many varieties of evil dust. There are the little linty bits, which show up as whimsical squiggles on the image, & then there are the superfine particles, which manifest as scattered white dots. All enough to drive me insane, as if you couldn't tell already since here I am blogging about dust! How humiliating. This is where my lackadaisical housekeeping (studiokeeping?) comes back to bite me in the ass.

It wouldn't be like this in Martha's house. She has other problems, of course. Gotta hand it to her for how she's maintaining. Seems like this can only be good for her public image, I mean, suddenly she has this underdog thing going, & the "Free Martha" meme is propogating away. It gives her a hipness she never had before. Used to be that she was the only person who I actually loved to hate & hated to love, but now, hey, whatta complex, rich stew of cultural meaning! Theoryheads are surely writing delicious papers....

But I was talking about dust. The crocheting of wool flowers in the immediate vicinity of the scanner cannot possibly be helping my cause. In fact clearly I am working at cross-purposes with myself. At least I know which images I have to scan, thanks to patient & caring feedback from my very helpful art pals both near & far: Irene in DC, Heather in Austin, Oriane in Brooklyn, & the home team crit girls, Donna, Birgit, Debra & Peggy. What would I do without each & every one of you? Y'all rock!!!


Last chance to see the very brilliant Eurydice at the Berkeley Rep! It closes Sunday. You can get same-day half-price tickets by paying cash at the box office when it opens at noon. It's funny & sad & clever & sweet, witty & beautiful. All that plus an amazing set with lots of cool water tricks. You'll like it.


One thing about the Mississippi Delta: it has a very strong sense of place. It's specific. When you're there, you know you're there. It's not like some other places where you just feel that you could be almost anywhere in America. Maybe part of it has to do with the blues, how all of us who have listened to the blues have absorbed a sort of subconscious knowledge about the birthplace of this music, so that when we go to that place we recognize it on that mythic or archetypal level. Does that make sense?

On a much more mundane level, when we were in Greenville I felt that this sense of place was reinforced by the brown tap water. Kind of demoralizing if you're used to clear, colorless water, but it also lets you know where you are. I couldn't google up much about it, other than this article, which is a couple years old. I'm not ashamed to say, I'm glad I mostly drank bottled water while we were there.


I've mostly been crocheting wool flowers instead of getting real work done, but I did start logging some of the recordings I made in the South. There's a lot of stuff there & I haven't the first clue what I'm going to do with it all. Further adventures in a new medium....

Meanwhile, if you're interesting in the therapeutic/procrastinatory benefits of crochet flowers, here's an easy pattern for basic, flat 5-petal flowers:

ch 5, join to form ring
*ch 3, dc in ring, ch3, sl st in ring
repeat from * 4x

You can crank a bunch of these out in no time, & then either felt them or not. Donna observed that felting is like shrinky dinks. It is! She's so smart.


Another morsel o' demographic goodness: Jennifer 8. Lee (yes, 8 is really her middle name) informs me that, out of all 50 states, Mississippi has the lowest number of Chinese restaurants per capita. I love that shit.

Go map geeks! These maps & cartograms are totally fascinating. Also this purple states map.

Looking at these various visual aids, I see that I was wrong about being in red territory during our Southern trip. I think we actually spent much of our time in bluish-purple areas. I guess that would explain all the Kerry signs, huh? We did cross through various red & reddish-purple areas, so overall I think the trip was a pretty good mix. Could we feel the difference? Maybe. This might be coincidence, but I found Birmingham quite depressing, for no particular reason I could name at the time. If you look at the map, it's a much redder purple than you might expect for a city of its size, especially compared to the bluish-purple Memphis we had just left a couple days before.

But you know, even these relatively nuanced maps are still huge generalizations. The highlight of Birmingham was our visit to Joe Minter's sculpture garden, African Village in America. We had spent a good hour or so wandering through his amazing installations & were about to leave when he happened to come home. He very generously showed us around & talked at length about his work. I was struck by the realization that people in Birmingham who see Joe on the street with his heavily-decorated staff must think he's a total nutcase, & yet out of all the people we met & spoke with on the trip, I probably identified with him the most. Which makes sense because I'm sure a lot of people in clean-cut Birmingham think Berkeley is full of raving wackos, & I feel right at home here.

Here is Joe with his staff. He also has a big piece he wears around his neck, which I think contributes a lot to the nutjob perception, but he'd taken it off by the time I took this picture.



Sorry Everybody is unexpectedly compelling; so compelling that we sat together clicking slowly through 29 pages of it on our old-school dial-up connection last night. Gonna have to go someplace wireless to look at the remaining 100-plus pages. I think because it's so validating, comforting & earnest, & also so handmade. Much better than, say, slogging through postings on a message board. I wanna post something! As soon as I take care of some bits of Chinese restaurant business today. People to see, phone calls to make....


I probably don't need to point out that the back of the T-shirts could almost pass for a tour of remote Chinese restaurants. You knew that was coming, didn't you? Here, do you need me to draw the Venn diagram? What does this mean? That queer-friendly folks demand lots of good Chinese restaurants? That Chinese Americans are open-minded & queer-friendly? If people don't have access to lots of good Chinese food, they become cranky, bigoted & spiteful? Too many crab rangoons make a person vote for Bush? Hmm....

Oh, I also just added lunchboxes & tote bags to the store. I couldn't help it... the lunchbox, especially, was so shiny & inviting.


Now for something a little different.... I was so glum all day yesterday that the goddess took pity on me & sent me an obsessive idea to cheer me up. In the spirit of Queer Nation, I spent today whipping up some smart (if I do say so myself) graphics to slap on a T-shirt that commemorates this, er, interesting historical moment we're in. If you're as outraged by the same-sex marriage bans as I am, maybe this T-shirt will cheer you up some.

Here's the front of it:

And the band-tour-inspired back:

Go on, lick your wounds the American way, with a little retail therapy. I'll donate half of the profits to organizations fighting on behalf of queer folks.


Some post-election coping methods... just as when the war began, I find the creative intelligence of art & music to be potent antidote for stupidity & violence: thousand-year-old buddhas & 20-year-old prints at the Asian Art Museum; a sweetly intimate sound performance by Loren Chasse at Berkeley Art Museum; Carla Bozulich's spine-chilling cover of Bob Dylan's "Masters of War" closing out a set of mostly brand-new material at Cafe Du Nord's Swedish American Hall.

At home: Robert Johnson, Cat Power, & a fluffy new bathrobe... oops, one of these things is not like the others. Okay then, some things to keep the bathrobe company: potato-leek-celery root soup, Lagerfeld roses from the garden, perfect pears. Still on the jello thing too.


If you're looking for a pep talk, this one is better than Michael Moore's or Margaret Cho's.

Or you can just stay in your pj's & eat jello. That's helpful too.


More geeky progress: I do believe I got the site feed goin on. I barely understand it, but I tried it out using Bloglines & it appears to work. So aggregate away, if that's what you're into.


On a more cheerful note, & providing instructive contrast, here's
what humorous Chinese-American self-representation looks like in New
Orleans. I can't remember if these are campaign treats or Mardi Gras
favors, but in any case, they're magnets of Sheriff Harry Lee, who I
mentioned before. (He was the one who treated us to fresh-caught
fish.) I could probably sell these on ebay, but I'd rather stick em
to the side of my flat files.


While I'm on the subject of misery... sorry this photo is a little
fuzzy, but I think you can still see clearly enough that the worst
racist stereotypes are readily available in the form of Mardi Gras
beads, made in China -- how's that for cruel irony? The good news is
that I only saw these particular beads in one shop out of many, many,
many similar tourist traps in the French Quarter.

More bad news, though: "retro" black caricatures, big red lips & all,
were distressingly widespread, not just in New Orleans, but also in
touristy shops along Beale Street in Memphis. So white tourists from
the North can come to the South, experience racist nostalgia by
touring antebellum mansions, maybe visit a few Civil War sites, &
then for souvenirs they can bring home these horrible icons of the
Black people they probably never even talked to on their trip. Is
that the idea? Or are these trinkets meant for white tourists from
other parts of the South? What are all the Black tourists supposed to
bring home as souvenirs of the South? I didn't see any cute little
dolls portraying ignorant white racists.... oo, getting a little
mean. Blame it on post-election ire.

Misery loves company.