Wednesday, October 18, 2017

fall in Denver

It's a warm fall evening in Denver - a couple of nights here, celebrating Shortfall in, so to speak, its natal home - well, nearly.  Truly, Alice's new book belongs to Colorado Springs (tomorrow! tomorrow!) - but some parts of The Scandal took place here and, well, the food is much better than in the Springs.  If you're in striking distance of Denver, and can get to Fruition, go.  We just wish we could get amazing food - without any pretension - like this in LA.  But we needed to take a walk round the (hotel) block afterwards ... aspen trees, illuminated clock tower ... despite being work-hounded, it's great to be away for these few days of festivication.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

driving westward

I know it's a line of traffic - it's Los Angeles, after all.  But if you have to be in a line of traffic, it's a very pretty sky and sunset light surrounding one.  The strange quality of the light may owe something to the windshield, of course; probably not much to the smoke that's traveling east from the Mount Wilson fire (not something that I really wanted to see when I woke up this morning) - it's probably standard pollution.  But I still can never get used to the magic foreignness of light like this.

Monday, October 16, 2017

describing things

Today's Grad Methods class was enormous fun - thanks to Catherine and Katie who were introducing it.  Remember that the room is half full of creative writers, half of critical folk ... those two are poets.  We were talking about Description ... they led us in, via our reading from Mark Doty's The Art of Description, by asking us to write a description of a sound that they played us (for me, it was as if a woodpecker had been followed by a terrible snore, but it was actually an Elk Rage Grunt (just remind me never to go anywhere near a cross elk).  They had us looking at a Frieda Kahlo painting and went round the room with each of us finding a new detail; they gave us paint color cards, and made us text SF MOMA at 572-51 - ask them "send me ..." and fill in a noun that's close to the color we were each given - to be sent an image (try it!) and then to write a description of it (I was sent a Richard Misrach photo of a house evacuated for Katrina, that proved to be full of angles and triangles).  We talked about Perec and lists, and a chunk of James Wood about Serious Noticing, and Patrick Fessenbecker on paraphrase, and, yes, Sharon Marcus, Heather Love and Stephen Best on "Building a Better Description" - and they had us discuss the opening of Pound's ABC of Reading, and then discuss whatever we think the author(s) that each table was allocated would have to say about it.  And so we could get into the spirit of that, each table was given their speaking heads, their voices to ventriloquize, to hold up.  Or ... give some smart graduates a range of texts, and see where they take you ... it was a stellar exercise in bringing ideas home through practice.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

stretching out (and some thoughts on the "me too" posts. As in, me too).

LucyFur, slowly repossessing the house after Walter Gomez's departure for Minnesota (though with helicopters circling overhead right now, dropping water on what we hope is a little fire in Griffith Park, maybe we should all have moved to the land of 10,000 lakes.  She and Moth are currently in the bedroom, since we could pack them up in a hurry, should we have to, most easily from there).  I digress (and the helicopter activity seems to be quietening down) ... Lucy has always favored certain spots of morning sunshine, and even though there's a certain amount of shuffling and growling involved in asserting her rights to them, she's coming back into her tabby own.

Oh, and of course, "me too."  But this covers so many different things, from being whistled at by workmen to the cab driver who drove me off to a dark and scary destination in Greece; from a colleague in my first job who came round early on a Sunday morning to see if I "wanted any help in settling in" to those stray hands that came round from the seat behind on buses in Turkey and in Mexico; from an eight year old boy whom the 17-year old me was baby-sitting, to older and much more powerful academics in my field who Should Have Known Better.  What intrigues me much more is what we've all done in all of these circumstances; how we might have acted differently; how - in my case - my tendency to be a Nice Girl (and yes, my wanting to be liked) led me into positions of quasi-complicity that then became very hard to extricate myself from.  I could give my past self a lot of good advice about speaking up and Not Wanting to Offend.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

ah, Silver Lake ...

Pi, and birds.  Why?  I don't care.  For me, this is old Silver Lake - the neighborhood that I first came to in 2004, full of funkiness and inexplicable bits of art, and some of it's still very much visible when - as we did this morning - we drive down the hill from Los Feliz and park about a mile away from the Farmers' Market (good walk, albeit more noticeable on the way back, with a backpack full of avocados and raspberries and guavas - guavas! - and dandelion leaves and green beans [ah, California]).   And this, below, is another form of old Silver Lake too - lanterns and parasols, and they stretch all the way up a shady path into this house's back yard.

But what of this Speedy Cylinder Exchange, though - and a strange set of red racks looking like coat hangers turned into a very boring art installation?  Think of this, however, not as a functional daytime operation, but as a place holder, a space holder for the carpark that this turns into at night -ready for hordes of bars and restaurants night-lifers, the influx of people who think that Silver Lake is the epitome of LA hipsterdom, the wannabe population who's causing the steady demise of mid C20th nondescript (but often still modestly lovable) housing, in favor of new blocks of apartments, condos, traffic producing residences, which will inevitably creep in and kill precisely the laid back ambience that we love(d) this neighborhood for in the first place.

Friday, October 13, 2017

another cushion

sometimes I joke that on a really busy week, on a really busy day, when most of what I've been doing is either stuff I can't really write about, or - in the case of the last few hours, would involve an account of an unimpressive volleyball game - all I'm left with is a picture of a cat or a flower.  The cats have either gone to bed or are roaming around wanting an extra late-night treat; the flowers are - well, time to go to the Farmers' Market tomorrow and buy some more.  So here's another cushion.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

fall (rainbow) colors

USC does a very excellent job in putting up rainbow banners in October - quality banners.  There's such a mismatch between this celebration of LGBTQ life, though, and whatever culture of wilful ignorance and blind-eye turning led to the state of things in our medical school (just Google "Keck USC" if you don't know what I'm talking about ...).  At which point, I remember, once again, that I have to do my mandatory Sexual Harassment training - which one suppose all these offenders had to do, once, or forced or cajoled someone into taking for them.