Monday, December 6, 2010

Taking a page from The Book of Chang


Some days you feel like you are living like an Aphex Twin song, where a piano plays wistfully in the background as you whimper under the covers. It's probably raining. It's Monday, which is your Sunday, which means that tomorrow is Tuesday, which is more like your Monday, which is basically just a reason for you to be like Garfield and eat lasagna. You are physically and mentally exhausted from the week previous and so there is only thing to do.

Channel David Chang.

Most people that know me understand my unhealthy obsession with food. The familiar steps of a recipe are as close to religion as I get on a daily basis, and chefs are my deities. When I feel a need to slow down and be methodical, I channel Thomas Keller (and his 454 steps to root vegetable heaven). When I feel toxic and all-consumed, I seek out the vibrant simplicity of Alice Waters. When I need to be coddled, I turn to Molly Stevens (who believes you can braise your way out of any problem), or Laurie Colwin, who will inevitably remind me that the only faith I need on Sunday is a freshly baked pie and a slow cooked stew. However, when I need someone to kick my pathetic self out of Aphex Twin blues, I look to David Chang.

"I felt terrible. I was wracked with stress. So I did the only thing restaurant cooks know how to do: worked harder and harder."

David Chang has become my life guru. He smokes too much, swears too much, and refuses to give up (I am none of these things, I am a total clean living quitter). He does not pretend to be exceptional, but upholds his food and everyone else's to exceptional standards. And the food? The food is brilliant. The food is at once pickly as it is sweet, spicy as it is comforting, and brash as it is humble. The early years of Momofuku were extraordinarily challenging, and Chang was hemorrhaging money and time. At its worst, he contracted shingles and kept working until he was unable to feel the entire left side of his body. This man is not a clean living quitter.

"And me. I'm burnt out. Fried. At some point 'me' evolved into 'we.' My life stopped being mine and the restaurants' needs replaced any I might have had. I got into the kitchen to get away from sitting at a desk and having to be nice to people, and here I am with a calendar full of events and meetings and food conferences. I opened a noodle bar so I wouldn't have to deal with the expectations of the starred restaurant world and that plan fell flat on its face. (Living up to high expectations sucks).
But for all that, I know this: I am one very lucky bastard."

He is unapologetic and he works hard. But the most important thing? He does nothing on Sundays.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

December Song

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Snow!



















Vancouver isn't a very snowy place, so when flakes do fall, it is quite a special event. This afternoon I went up to the mountains to go for a walk and take some photos.





































































Followed, of course, by a trip to Deep Cove for their legendary donuts.








Friday, November 19, 2010

Read It: Wondrous Strange: The Life and Art of Glenn Gould by Kevin Bazzana



















It is a mistake to travel by ferry from Vancouver to Victoria without a book. But, having awoken at 5:30 on Thursday morning, my brain was not at full capacity and my book accidentally stayed behind. A quick trip to Munro's (oh, Munro's!) fixed that problem, and I discovered two books, the first of which is this lovely tome about Mr. Gould:


















This book is so thoroughly researched and so highly entertaining I could hardly put it down to compose this blog post. The initial pages are filled to the brim with key details from Gould's childhood in Toronto, which, author Kevin Bazzana argues, greatly informed the pianist Gould would become.

I was drawn to the book because I hope it might improve my attitude toward playing Bach (which, to my own surprise, has not changed much since I was a child - old habits die hard, it seems). Among the fascinating facts I've learned so far:

1. Gould's legacy is impressive. But, in spite of his staggering record sales, cult status, and the fact that he has served as artistic inspiration for a truly remarkable number of composers, poets, filmmakers and writers, he has never appeared on a Canadian stamp on the grounds that he is too eccentric.

2. "Gould Tourism," so-called by Mr. Bazzana, involves pilgrimages to various Toronto sites associated with Gould, including his childhood home, schools, churches and diners.

3. Gould often misspelled his own first name, claiming that when he began to write the second "n," he couldn't help but also write a third.

4. He hated bright colours (especially red), but his favourites were "battleship grey and midnight blue."1


Footnote:
1. Bazzana, Kevin. Wondrous Strange: The Life and Art of Glenn Gould. Toronto: McLellan & Stewart Ltd. 31.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Slacker Dude Intelligentsia

Artist Mungo Thompson and curator Matthew Higgs

In recent months I have discovered an unhealthy attraction to intellectual men with a wry sense of humour and a slacker dude aesthetic. You may recognize them based upon their attire, reminiscent of teenage boys or first-year art students. They are self-deprecating and ironic. They wear worn out sneakers, ill-fitting jeans, and hoodies or heavy knits. Many have glasses. It is likely they had a stint as a skater or moonlighted with an underground punk scene in their respective blue-collar cities. They exude a certain anti-celebrity humbleness, and on occasion act as bored curmudgeons at lavish social events. Despite being well-known in their respective careers, they likely have allergies to cauliflower or pine nuts, and an affinity for dark beers in seedy pubs in every city they travel to. They may have complexes about being nerds in high school but it makes them more sarcastic and charming.

Totally hot, right?

Zach Galifinakis and weird doll

Monday, November 15, 2010

Style Icons: Beth Gibbons

















Beth Gibbons was an icon for my generation - slouchy, brooding, minimal. Portishead's music, which somehow simultaneously evokes a dimly lit, cigarette smoke-filled Depression-era speakeasy, a sad 1960s spy movie, and the deserted streets of 1990s Bristol, also filled my teenage headphones on many melancholic nights:

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Because she's the cheese and I'm the macaroni!


My friend's older brother used to drive around in the family minivan and would sometimes leave his cassettes in the tape deck. One day the cassette tape was Ill Communication and my mind was blown.














And I know, I know, this story would be cooler if I had discovered the Beastie Boys 8-10 years earlier, but I was four years old when Licenced to Ill came out and I was a nerd. So I didn't discover them until the minivan in '94. I then quickly developed a fleeting interest in Tibetan Buddhism and a mad crush on Adam Horovitz.

I struggled with the fact that he was married to Ione Skye:
















mostly because she is so lame in Say Anything:
















but I told myself she must have some redeeming qualities in real life. I mean, her father is none other than psychedelic pop superstar, DONOVAN:
















who's greatest hits include "Mellow Yellow," "Season of the Witch," and "Jennifer Juniper."

When I finally saw the Beastie Boys live at the Pacific Coliseum in 1997 or 1998, it was probably the best thing that happened to me for a couple of years.

Adam Horovitz is now married to the very awesome Kathleen Hanna:














but maybe we'll be together when we're old, like in a García Márquez novel?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Return




















I began studying piano at the age of four and fell in love with the expressive musicality of Romantic composers. I listened to recordings voraciously, often "interpreting" them by ear, and Chopin was my favourite, although it took many years before my small hands were able to conquer his vast leaps across the keyboard.

Last year, a decade since my last piano lesson, I decided to resume my study. I quickly experienced the humbling frustration of returning to an instrument after many years. Far from simply picking up where I left off, many things I once did with ease and precision had to be re-learned or remembered. The memories were there, in my fingertips and brain, and I was told that with time they could be recovered, but the learning curve felt dramatic. Over the course of the last twelve months I have slowly begun working my way back into a routine, frequently wanting to give up and dreading the lessons.

When learning a new piece of music, there are logistics involved: notes, rhythm, tempo, key signature, accidentals, and expressive markings must all be achieved with confidence before interpretation can begin. Take Chopin's Nocturne in B flat minor, Opus 9, Number 1 for example, to which I have devoted six months (and counting...) of study:


Many great pianists have performed and recorded Chopin's nocturnes, but Claudio Arrau's interpretation remains my favourite.












Whereas others, like Maurizio Pollini and Angela Hewitt, play with expert precision, there is, in my opinion, a necessary emotional quality to Arrau's version which is lacking in their interpretations. Arrau seems to be reaching out beyond technique to the ears of the listener. It is certainly something to aspire to.

Monday, October 11, 2010

On this, the day of your turkey's consumption


As the leaves on my neighbourhood trees turn from green to vibrant red and warm amber, I begin to get consumed by an almost manic excitement for autumn. My scarves get thicker, my sweaters woolier, and my brain has difficulty focusing on anything beyond searching for recipes that involve pumpkin, turnips, cream, and a casserole dish. I become obsessed with insipid masses that taste like nothing but cinnamon and comfort, and pending deadlines seem unbearable without sickeningly sweet seasonal beverages from coffee places that shall remain unnamed. Autumn is a wonderful time for rain boots and falling in love, and drinking hot toddies and listening to alternative country songs about being crazy about you.

Another season passes, as does another year that I have been in this rainy city. Movements become a bit more ritualistic, and structures continue to collapse and are rebuilt. Every year the city changes, and every fall I forget what it used to look like. Few things remain the same, and, like the buildings in this city, the seasons collapse into the next. But each year I anticipate the moment in which the remnants of summer disappear, and we are left with autumn, rebuilt on a stretch of trees on Ontario and Alberta.

Happy Turkey Day everyone.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Piano


































Thursday, October 7, 2010

Style Icons: Irène Jacob


















Is there anyone more enigmatic than Irène Jacob? In Krzysztof Kieślowski's iconic Trois Couleurs: Rouge (my personal favourite of the three) and La double vie de Véronique her presence is nothing less than mesmerizing. Scarves and melancholy never looked better:

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Painful Process of Writing, or how to be simultaneously defeatist and egotistical.


Mariner Chic















Nautical shit is cool: old maps, compasses, fishermen, knots, old ships, diving watches, Breton stripes, booty. Lately I've been fixated on recapturing the magic of a perfect ivory cable-knit cardigan I bought at Value Village when I was a teenager. I might need to take up knitting.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

1963: Dinosaur models on the hudson river, en route to the 1964 New York World's Fair




1965, New York World's Fair, Brontosaurus dismantling operation on the Sinclair Dinoland Pavilion

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Cure for a Bad Day


The cure for a bad day can come in many forms, depending on just how awful your day has been. If we are talking extreme public embarrassment that ends in tears, the only solution is a glass of wine. If you were forced to spend a day dealing with irrational or idiotic jerks you have no choice but to devote your evening to breaking some serious shit. If you are exhausted and cursing your non-19 year old body for not bouncing back from a hangover from drinking on an empty stomach days ago, one of the best cures is a grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl of tomato soup. Cures such as this do not require fancy ingredients (but they help, depending on the severity of the situation). When I was a child, tomato soup came from the red and white labelled can. but these days I prefer something less preserved and lower on the sodium (this just reiterates my non-19 year old status, doesn't it?).

Some people get fancy with their grilled cheese, but when you are searching for comfort all you need is a nice slice of aged cheddar and two pieces of bread. I like to make my grilled cheese with a leftover baguette, the tiny rounds are perfect for making many tiny sandwiches, which, due to my portion control issues, feels more satisfying to consume. You can saute some apples and add that to your pre-grilled cheese sandwich as well (highly recommended). For a nice pot of tomato soup all you need is a can of Italian plum tomatoes, some chicken broth, fresh thyme, and garlic. Puree, boil, simmer. Finish with a splash of cream and more thyme. I like to add noodles to my tomato soup, anything from small alphabet pasta to orzo is acceptable. My personal favourite is moose-shaped pasta from Ikea. They have antlers. You understand.

Pour a bowl of hot tomato soup, dip with your tiny baguettes. Repeat. Bad day resolved.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Not so fast, Sheen. Or should I say CARLOS ESTEVEZ?

A few weeks ago I read an overly dramatic article about the end of Tiger Woods' career (one of many, sadly). Once upon a time he was a little Caublinasian kid that decided to forego college for a brilliant golf career. Years later he sleeps with a bunch of cocktail waitresses with stripper names, cheats on his wife, and now he is the guy whose entire life is in the toilet. His tarnished reputation means he will never win another Masters! His career is finished and he should be publicly shamed! Tiger's indiscretions are, for some reason, unforgivable in comparison to other jerk celebrities.


Everyone is so quick to demonize poor Tiger, but why is no one attacking someone like, oh I don't know, CHARLIE SHEEN? You know, that crazy offensive dude who BEATS HOOKERS? Why are we not more angry about that? Why is it that this guy verbally and physically abuses his wife and calls her a whore and yet somehow no one marks this as the demise of Two and a Half Men?* Yes, I understand that Charlie Sheen does not pretend to be an innocent, aw shucks golfer. But does that make him less of a terrible person? No! The answer is no! Embracing a "bad boy" (that description is so gross and sexual and it creeps me out to even say it because Charlie Sheen is chubby and mean) image should not absolve you of alcoholic rages and voicemail tirades. If you're gonna have a coke problem and be mean at least be Robert Downey Jr.!

*For the love of god, when will someone cancel this sitcom?!

Books & Brunch

Brunched today at Seattle's Oddfellows Cafe: perfectly seasoned eggs, spinach and ham in a little skillet with a strong cup of coffee. The room is the sort of ancient, lofty, brick-walled space you rarely find in Vancouver, and a lovely setting for a morning meal.

Oddfellows also happens to be right next door to the new Capitol Hill location of the Elliott Bay Book Company, from which I managed to escape with a single purchase:


















Friday, September 3, 2010

Style Icons: Back to School Edition

In honour of September, four academic style icons:

1. The cast of Dead Poets Society









Their late 1950s wardrobe of sweater vests, blazers, striped ties and horn-rimmed glasses is both a poetic ode to the colour burgundy and a telltale reminder of the self-esteem issues and suicidal tendencies lurking beneath.

2. Moira Kelly in With Honors:
















The epitome of grunge-era Harvard cool. She's like the Winona Ryder that no one remembers.

3. The cast of Picnic at Hanging Rock









A cautionary tale about the dangers of class field-trips and hiking in the Australian outback in lacy white dresses. Also, the pan flute magic of Zamfir:



4. Ali McGraw in Love Story












Ali McGraw totally deserves her own entry in this category, but as Jennifer Cavelleri, she's the epitome of Radcliffe College nerd-chic. Her glasses blow my mind:












Monday, August 30, 2010

Curatorial Hotties (Men's Edition)

When most people think of curators (if they think of us at all, which I highly doubt), they imagine an individual who is kind of pale, wears a lot of black, and places their hair in a chignon to accentuate their severe angled glasses. We are fortunate not to have the wacko artist stigma, but as our reward we are often viewed as bitchy, uptight, and pretentious. I'm going to be honest, we are probably all of these things. But most of us are also painfully socially awkward and we drink too much to compensate. Despite this, I am certain there are some serious curatorial dreamboats lurking about. Some potential contenders:

Here we have the current curatorial wonder boy, Jens Hoffman. I bet that sweater is cashmere.



Not your typical choice for a hottie, but you can tell that Cuauhtemoc Medina means business with that finger pointing.



Next up, representing my hometown, is the Director of Plugin ICA, Anthony Kiendl. Adorable!



In the adorable camp is also Hou Hanru. This look says, "Get on the back of my motorbike, we're going to Istanbul."



Hans Ulrich Obrist. Can you go wrong with a person known by 3 names? I don't think so.



Sizzlin'! Can we get an extinguisher, I think Klaus Biesenbach is on fire!



Now, my personal favourite, Okwui Enwezor, artistic director of Documenta 11 and all-around dreamboat. I have met this man. He really is this fancy.


Stay tuned for the ladies' edition of this new segment!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

In honour of life-changing foods


Last February I went to San Francisco and ate a pizza at Pizzeria Delfina that could not be described as anything short of life-changing. With a piping hot thin crust, sweet tomato sauce with a splash of cream, fresh chopped basil, and shavings of parmigiano reggiano, this pizza was the epitome of simple and spectacular. It was so amazing, I completely forgot to take a photo of it. Or the cold and delicious beer that accompanied this meal. Or the small and lovely restaurant we ate it in. I completely forgot that we were sweltering in the pizza oven heat during a random, 20 minute increase in temperature that occasionally occurs in San Francisco.

Life-changing foods are not always related to travel, but that is often the case for myself. My trip to Italy produced a number of these occasions - the giant peach on top of Mount Vesuvius, the plate of spaghetti with mussels in a tiny, family-run bistro on the water with plastic chairs and checkered table cloths, (another) pizza, this time a margherita in Napoli, and, what was perhaps the most memorable, my last meal in Italy. At the end of my month-long journey I went back to the first restaurant I ate at when I arrived in Rome. My appetite had become quite voracious at that point. In one sitting I quickly disposed of a large bowl of minestrone, a plate of greens drenched in olive oil (it should be noted this was not "salad" by any means), a simple and wonderful plate of spaghetti all'arrabbiata, and a tiramisu. It. was. awesome.

This may lead you to believe that life-changing foods are everywhere, but there is something distinct and wonderful that separates them from just a great meal. They do not have to be fancy, nor do they have to be consumed in faraway places. They can be comforting and restorative, perhaps even familiar. But they are foods that force you to pause

Saturday, August 28, 2010

It's Coming!!














I'm getting very excited about AUTUMN: that great, great reward for having survived through the smells, the sweating, and the skin rashes of the oft-celebrated season called summer. It is finally, nearly over. Mere days away from September, I've already noticed the subtle changes: the slowly waning daylight hours, and a slightly cool, fresh feeling in the air. Perhaps it is a sign that I spent too many years in school, but as September approaches, I begin to make plans and feel ambitious again. My mind, dulled by the August sun, smog, and heat, reawakens.

Things to look forward to (in no particular order):

1. WOOL. Wool sweaters, coats, gloves, skirts, tights! And especially scarves. Scarves for everyone!

2. Red wine.

3. Hot chocolate / Hot apple cider.

4. Pumpkins, carved or baked.

5. Hearty, meaty soups.

6. Staying in and watching movies.

7. Celine and Burberry Fall 2010-inspired wardrobe improvements.

8. Bike rides.

9. Falling leaves.

10. Two turkey-themed holidays in three months.

Goodbye summer!!!!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

In defense of 20 somethings (again)

Okay. Enough already. I love you, New York Times, but you are killing me with articles like this, this, and this.

I'm going to put it out there. I am 27. I turned 27 last month and for the past 5 years I have had to endure an onslaught of overdramatic articles about the dire state of my generation. Some haven't been awful, but many are borderline attacks under the guise of cultural research. We are listless wanderers who don't know how to work hard and we can't find $50,000 jobs after completing our undergraduate degrees because we are lazy, unambitious sacks of garbage. I am terrible with my finances and I want to start a band and pretend that the "real world" doesn't exist because I am obsessed with finding my bliss. I am spoiled and directionless, buried in debt. My only option is to move to Williamsburg or move back home with my parents, where they will continue to coddle me with their bland suburban frittatas while I whine about my band and my finances. There is no way I could be a person with a Master's Degree who works 6 days a week at 2 jobs and gets underpaid at both.

This of course has nothing to do with the state of our economy. Or perhaps the fact that certain baby boomers refuse to retire. Or the growing number of graduates at post-secondary institutions. Or! Oh, or! That businesses are exploiting free labour by hiring graduates desperate for experience! Or, I don't know, the province that you live in just cut the industry that you work in by 92%, or that age discrimination is a legitimate reason to pay you less. Also, the world is like, totally ending.

I know, I know. My generation does suck in many ways. We've got a lot of useless jerks hanging around, working as laboratory specimens or being full-time server/bartenders at 3-star restaurants. But can you stop talking about us like we're all lazy sacks of garbage? I don't get paid enough to deal with this. Also? I already have an Asian mom to make me feel bad about my successes. I don't need this.

I love you Ira Glass

How much is too much to spend on a haircut? 
I don't know, but my barber Severin told me the other day that he thinks all the barbers in New York should have a competition for the best barber in the city because he'd like to know his ranking. I may be making this up, but I think he told me he's tried to trash-talk other barbers, hoping that might get the ball rolling. The only reason I think I'm making that up is because now that I type these words I can't imagine that he could've said that without me asking what barber trash-talk would consist of, and I know if he had told me, I'd remember it for the rest of my life.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

HIPPIES. There, I said it.



Upon moving to the west coast I anticipated I would encounter more hippie activity in my day-to-day life. When I setup my phone and cable the customer service representative gave me the option of a digital or paper bill. I said perhaps a paper bill to start (I was, and still am, very particular about receiving and paying my bills. I like to thoroughly read over what fees I have accrued. This is perhaps my Asian distrust and paranoia of companies creeping in again). My response was met with immediate judgement from the customer service rep: "Really? Don't you want to save paper?"

Hippies, I am sure much to their dismay, function like the middle class. The definitions of a hippie are varied and extend from the artistic bohemian, to the rastafarian, to the granola head, to just a person that recycles. In many ways we are all a part of or have participated in a form of hippiedom, especially with the growing trendiness of being concerned with the environment. Hippies drive hybrids. Elementary schools are chock full of young, peanut-free hippies raised by gluten-free moms and dads. Hippies stay in touch by using toxic, cancer-inducing cell phones that are partially made of plants. Hippiedom can be made into your own, and we are hedonists who have found a way to make hippiedom into another capitalist dream.

There are many positive aspects of this rise of hippie culture. We have made a fine mess of this earth and it's about time we start actively doing something about it. Organic and sustainable foods and fair and healthy practices for raising animals is also something we can all get on board with. Recycling, reusing, and composting is not new but is certainly becoming more widespread (vintage clothing and upcycling fall under this category as well). Utensils made of corn? Sounds crazy but I can get behind it. Though there is some resistance to this, the increase in alternate forms of transportation is also a plus. Bicycles make you feel like a kid again and riding the train means you can drink more. Sounds alright to me. 

While there are numerous characteristics of hippie culture I am supportive of, there are many things I have yet to make amends with, nor do I feel I should. Firstly, there is the issue of camping. As much as I absolutely loathe camping (I am a germaphobe who can't swim, has sensitive skin, and hasn't purchased a running shoe in over 5 years. Need I say more?), I can still understand the desire to do so. The amazing wilderness, the seclusion, the fulfillment of a need to "get away from it all," are all adequate reasons to pack your car full of dehydrated snacks and overpriced gor-tex. I am not one to judge you for the complete absurdity of trying to live like a refugee in an attempt to get back to a nature you were never a part of. Good for you hippie, those trees are something amazing. Wait, I guess that was judgemental.

This mention of gore-tex and judgement leads me to the discussion of hippie capitalism. I do not appreciate being criticized for being materialistic and superficial by some long hair who is willing to embrace his capitalistic side under the guise of practicality. The exorbitant prices of hippie attire are astounding, and the acquisition of hippie "necessities" are parallel, if not in excess of, my own desire for new dresses. We are not much different, you (hippie) and I (me). Except I have no need for convertible pants and you, for some reason, think that your Parisian adventure is a good time to break out the hiking boots and zippered shorts with multiple pockets (excellent targets for pickpocketers). I'm sorry hippie capitalists, but you are just as equally implicated in our economic downturn.

The antagonistic hippie also makes an appearance as the agitated cyclist, aka the belligerent guest at a party in Strathcona. You can recognize this individual by the amount of couscous and mesclun greens on their plate while they rant about both the lack of bike paths in the city and the overabundance of non-serious bikers on the current paths. They have been sideswiped by a car once, and like the child of an emotionally abusive father, spend the rest of their time furiously competing for its attention by challenging its existence. What happened to the affectionate hippie, bursting with love and inclusiveness? Riding a bicycle in this city is downright frightening when you combine aggressive drivers with angry, spandex-wearing, work-less-party-going cyclists. I am always shocked by the amount of entitlement and rage that emanates from these bike people. Is it not good enough that I ride my bike or walk to work, rather than drive an SUV? Is it not good enough that I wear a helmet? WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT FROM ME HIPPIE?

The agitated cyclist leads us to the controlling and obsessive hippie that cannot show up on time. They are unbelievably obsessive about a particular aspect of hippiedom - whether it is cycling, eating healthy, or their annoyance for large corporations. But they love to take it easy, enjoy a cup of coffee, and spend an entire day wasting someone else's time. This is truly a fascinating faction of hippie, as their uptight nature does not translate to being punctual, making a schedule, or even sticking to an original plan of any sort. Who knew you could be simultaneously obsessive and non-committal?

This brings me to food and the hippie. As mentioned previously, the prevalence of more organic foods and products in our stores is a positive result of the rise of the hippie. Although I am a proponent of organic, I am not swayed by its invincibility - yes, it's probably better for you. Yes, it tastes better. But the standards of "organic" differ depending on the country you are in and organic in China does not mean organic here, and having organic foods shipped across the world produces a great carbon footprint. This is not a deterrent to eating organic foods, but a realistic outlook, one that is sometimes dismissed by militant food hippies. I love food. I do all kinds of domestic, borderline hippie food activities, like grow tomatoes on my balcony and make homemade granola. But I do NOT believe in cleanses and I think your colonics (or its dirty non-spa worthy name, enemas) are stupid. You can judge me for all sorts of life choices, but do not demonize food and make me feel guilty about eating. Bingeing on unhealthy sugary foods and then feeling immense guilt at your lack of self-control is not a reason to only drink wheat juice for 10 days. It is also not a reason to have someone shove a tool up your butt to rid your body of toxins. The extreme nature of these processes are disturbing. What happened to having a balanced diet that incorporates a diversity of foods? The militant food hippie also takes pride in strange activities such as eating quinoa at every meal. Unless you are Peruvian, get your quinoa entitlement out of my face! When did caring about the environment and your body mean you could no longer eat things that tasted good? Things that made you blissfully content? Things that brought people together? When, hippie, did you stop wanting to be happy?

Unhappy hippies can sometimes also be referred to as hipsters. This can be summed up with: "This food sucks, this town sucks, this bike is awesome, my clothes are awesome, I am awesome, you suck." That's all I need to say on that.

The shining beacon of hippiedom, I feel, is still the old hippie. Not the dirty old hippie, just the old free-lovin' variety. The kind that wears a lot of yellow, has gray hair, and enjoys a naked swim at the lake. They throw fantastic parties that are low on the general hippie pretentiousness (but high on the baby boomer kind), are in long-term unmarried and open relationships, and have wonderful collections of antique furniture, records, and art. They smoke a few doobies and used to do acid, but now are upstanding citizens with decent jobs to support their Danish Teak and African ceramics habit. The one major downside to this hippie is their obsession with May 1968, and the subsequent and continual letdown of every "revolution" after. This old hippie can be a bit hit or miss - sometimes they are just draft dodgers that got weird. Despite this, out of all the hippies, this might still be the best. Old school and all that.

Obviously, this list could continue on for numerous posts. I have not even touched upon the political zealot or protest hippie, the reformed corporate hippie, or even celebrity or hybrid hippies. The list goes on. We all have a bit of hippie in us I suppose, some more than others. But that's the thing about hippiedom. Some of us just learn how to not let it run our lives. 

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Um im Zauberkreis der Nacht

















At age 84, Richard Strauss composed Vier Letzte Lieder (Four Last Songs). A leading figure of German Romanticism, Strauss's Vier Letzte Lieder, with lyrics taken from the poetry of Hermann Hesse and Joseph von Eichendorff, expresses a peaceful acceptance of death. Strauss's own death was imminent - he passed away before the premiere of this, his final composition.

Vier Letzte Lieder has been performed and recorded on innumerable occasions since its premiere in 1950, by sopranos as diverse as Renée Fleming, Jessye Norman, and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf. I was lucky enough to attend a live performance of Vier Letzte Lieder in 2007, performed by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. But there is, for me, one seminal recording which far surpasses all of these: the 1973 version by famed conductor Herbert von Karajan and soprano Gundula Janowitz, with the Berlin Philharmonic. Particularly in her transcendental rendition of the third lied, "Beim Schlafengehen," the amazing Janowitz achieves something the other sopranos cannot: a perfect vocal expression of life slipping away.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Style Icons: Karen Elson


Oh, Karen Elson. I want to hate you for your ginger waves and your pearlescent skin, your rock star husband who is actually in a credible rock band, your vintage aesthetic and wispy 70s frocks, your numerous Vogue covers and for being the face of Chanel, and your beautiful and ghostly folk album. But I cannot. You are just that perfect.


Friday, August 13, 2010

Plea to Ringo


Dearest Ringo,

Please don't die. Because if you do, then McCartney wins. I We can't have that. I want to tell you all the ways that Paul is a total nutball, but you already know. He appears invincible - even when accusations surface of his attempts to toss his wife's prosthetic leg into a fire, people are blindly on his side. They don't know what we know, Ringo. I understand your concerns that he's got two years on you, but I believe you can ride this one out. Case in point:


Keep on, keepin' on, Ringo.