Kettle Belle Chronicles: “Why I’m hostile to exercise”, or… “follow the way of the Wrecking Belle in the Real Madrid T-shirt and yoga pants.”


I sometimes toy with the idea of attaining exercise god status. The black yoga pants wearer,  that adored symbol of strength and power.  The all knowing being whom saunters into Pinkberry without a care or a ripple on her behind.  I endeavored to be the cut / toned / tony-excessively smooth pantaloon wearer.

I embarked on this journey with some reservations but higher than proper expectations.   I only wanted to do this if it fit nicely within my carefully crafted idea of invigorating exercise, and I painted a pretty good picture of the journey in my mind.  A precise one in fact.   I would accept it if it was moderately tiring but yet refreshingly rejuvenating.  If I could meet other ladies and affiliate with them and we could form a team of supportive women working toward the goal of being ridiculously hot!   Where shared experience and hardship made the journey that much easier and rewarding.  I couldn’t picture myself caring much about some sweat.  It might only serve to make me look like Jennifer Beals sans chair but still like Jennifer Beals.  I had the curly hair that hung around my face uncannily like her…when I didn’t blow dry that is.  And  I accepted that I may feel a modicum of pain, but that soon my muscles would be toned and sculpted.  But how much pain would be bearable?  And, as I would learn, I wouldn’t get to determine that.

Well it hit me like a kettle bell on the side of the temple when I found out that there was no magical group of women welcoming you into their leg pumping lair. The women arrived, threw down their keys, knock-off sunglasses, squeezed their water bottles into cubbies and threw their white towels round their necks.  They visually organized eachother, preened, hands on hips slowly checking out newcomers.  There were no smiles, just long gazes, that if you caught one, a sort of straight grimace was returned.  I seemed to have entered a paddock of overweight racehorses readying for competition.

I wasn’t exactly sure why all the life lessons I had had drilled into my psyche about ‘listening to pain’ were lost on the Exercise gods.  I reasoned, I was the person who was feeling the pain, the person whose brain was responsible for the urgent messages to cease and desist whatever the particular activity was at the moment, so why was ‘ignoring the pain’ the instruction that I was given? .” I had discovered the essence of the problem that I had with ‘exercise’  Do they believe that our minds are separate from our body? Does the body not work in conjunction with the brain?  does the brain not field signals from the body and then decide what actions to take?  Is it then wise that we keep working the body in the repetitive manner when the body is clearly saying, “NO YOU CANNOT KEEP THROWING THAT KETTLE BELL OVER YOUR WANING LEFT SHOULDER AND EXPECT NOT TO LAUNCH IT INTO THE CHEST OF THAT ELABORATELY SWEATING CROATIAN WOMAN!

We began with two laps around the building and were told not to stop.  One of the evil geniuses was stationed at the opposite side of the building to ‘keep an eye on us and make sure we did not stop.  Our herd returned bounding for the water fountain.  Seconds later we swang kettle bells to and fro.  We then did burpies until dizziness set in. We lifted heavy bars while doing jumping jacks. We swung ropes as though ceaselessly straightening them out.  We did squats that threatened to re-open our episiotomies.  Even if they were given to us years ago.  “Wider, Wider!”  How My mind begged my mouth to shout, “yah? let’s see you open that wide!”  We did push ups, chin ups, and fast weights to keep the cardio effect going.   We army crawls and the dreaded burpie.  Every time my body began to revolt, writhe with the equivalent of a physiological scream, heart pulsing out of my chest easily seen by passers-by, like some comic book grinch in love, and I would point at my chest signifying my lack of breath, The exercise god (female or male),  Impervious to my impending heart attack, would glance at me momentarily finally offer a deliberation,  “you can go further, you can do it Christine!”  As I looked up with long eyes, intentionally trying to clear my double vision, my soaked shirt seemed to bangle in the wind like some latvian wet towel air conditioner.  My jello thighs danced. My exercise god lavished a wide smile unto me saying, “THERE YOU GO!!!” Usually finishing off with the dispassionate and quite routine 90’s meme “YOU GO GIRL!!!”

The exercise gods believe in “pushing oneself” It’s a rite of the baptismal font of back sprains.  The ungainly church of belly crunches and impossibly performed burpies.  “If you push yourself, you will surprise yourself.’  ….”If you push yourself….you won’t be sorry…”  “If you push yourself you will be so proud!”  I find an extreme dichotomy in the fact that the women or men that are ‘coaching’ you, many of whom you do not know from Adam or Eve, are ripped beyond belief and do not remember their own days of cookies and carmel macchiatos. Well not really anyway.   Those discretions are seen through skinny-latte coloured glasses. If you ask them, the cookies are remembered as necessary ‘Tiger Milk Bars” maybe only two a day, and the caramel macchiatos are declared but suddenly remembered as intermittent at best.   The bad ‘ol days of minimal muscle and ripped adipose are forgotten and that is the disconnect.

Half way into the reality of the work out, the dry throat, the slight dizziness.  The women wince in pain and look up as they rise from doing push ups.  They begin to knowingly glance at each other.  The tired faux warrior princesses realize that they need each-other.      They begin to look for the affiliation that they narcissistically did not seek in the beginning of the workout.

Class after class this social machination repeats itself.  Ignore each other, then feel pain and affiliate. Rinse and repeat. Do they like it?  Do they like communal pain? Additionally, Do they enjoy paying the Exercise Gods to “make” them push themselves?  I offer that they do.

Part of the motivation comes from pure peer adulation for ‘just doing it’ being ‘brave.’ I was recently told I was a ‘real trooper’ I kept going in part because I didn’t relish the idea of letting everybody know that I thought it was ‘too hard‘ for me.  I had just been given the rather militaristic moniker of “Trooper” and I was feeling a tad nationalistic at the time.  I pictured myself a sort of stylized  Jane Q. Public  upholder of the exercise ethos. Well, within my circle of soft-bellied family and friends.

Ultimately, I found that the exercise gods wanted me to believe that my body was my enemy and that I must conquer it with my Jedi mind.

It was not proper to let my body tell me that one or another exercise could not be done.  Somehow I was to overcome all of the brutal messages that my body was sending me about my pain and satiety.  I really WANT TO DO THIS, but my analytical nature may be getting in the way, oh! that and my muscle capacity!  How can I know whether I can actually do this? …Guess I’ll just have to trust the ‘wrecking belle’ in a Real madrid T-shirt and Yoga pants.

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Stay tuned for hopefully twice weekly updates on “The kettle Belle Chronicles” (Written by unwilling exercise maven, Christina Long) about the ugly and hopefully someday ‘beautiful’ side of cardio / strength training classes in Los Angeles on “The Trouble With Milk.”  http://thetroublewithmilk.com

Ai Meja! Maria De La Luz’ Capirotada : Memories of old and new


Ahhh Capirotada…The smell and taste of it brings back memories of my grandmother Maria De La Luz (Lucy) collecting bread pieces, me wondering why and ends with a full belly and a smile.  As a child I wondered what the heck my grandmother was going to do with all those stale bread pieces saved in a plastic bag.  Finally she fesssed,  “Oh Meija, I’m going to make capirotada, it’ll be good, you just watch!”

My grandmother a few days after marriage in Fort Worth Texas. She had been making Capirotada for her brothers and sisters many years by this time. She probably learned from an aunt as her mother had been passed away many years by this time.

Now Capirotada was a word I could just not get my head around.  Capirotada.  Capiro-WHAT??  I was six years old.  I think I was only being fed two syllable words at school.  Yes Capirotada is a weird word and I have no idea what the origin or etymology of it  is.   That being said, I’ll probably look that up in a minute and add it to this post….  But Capirotada  is a  rich bread pudding derrived of collected and deliciously stale bread.  The bread can be french bread, white bread, wheat or sourdough.  If it’s stale it’s actually better due to the slight sour taste that it imparts in the final dish.  The bread is then soaked in three kinds of milk (for some people it’s preferable to use a mexican condensed milk, and this Mexi-gringa prefers “la Lechera”), and to the uninitiated, a very strange tomato / onion / pilloncillo / clove concoction which is boiled and reduced to a sauce with some tooth to it. 

Originally “Capirotada” was a typical spanish dessert using ingredients placed in layers. Originally there was Olive oil, Cheese and eggs, The second layer added the meats, probably partridge!  (shudder)….The given name comes from “Capirote”  which was a hat that that was worn by Spanish noble women in the early 15th century.  Capirote come from the Latin word “Cappa”  which is cape or cloak.  Today’s Mexican Capirotada is certainly cloaked!  Those bread pieces are hidden and layered with many ingredients!  As the dish was prepared for more of the population and ceased to be exclusive to nobles, meats were left out and sweet overtook savory.  At some point the dish gained more of a religious significance and was prepared during lent so as to provide Christian denizens of the middle ages, sustenance in the way of protein (derived from the cheese and nut ingredients).   As is still common today,  during Lent, meat per se, is not allowed.   The ingredients and recipes for Capirotada have been recorded by the Holy Office of the Inquisition and saved to this day in the archives.

Pre-dating the Spanish appearance, Capirotada’s gastronomic ancestors can be traced back as far as Ancient Rome.  Seen in a dish called  “Sala Cattabia,”  The Romans used a bread for this casserole dish which was baked, covered with a layer of goat cheese, and then layered with chicken, cucumbers,  onions, and pine nuts.  This concoction was cooked with a dressing of raisins,  honey, pepper, and vinegar.  Spainards brought this or a dish like it to  ‘The new Country”  (that would be us  peeps here stateside), who eventually modified it to become the varied Capirotada we know today.  Capirotada is viewed by many Mexican and Mexican-American families as a reminder of the suffering of Christ on Good Friday.  Holding special the symbolism of this ancient dessert, Mexicans believe capirotada’s bread represents the Body of Christ, the syrup, his blood, the cloves, the the nails of the cross.  They believe that the whole cinnamon sticks represent the wood of the cross.  Some say the  melted cheese stands for the Holy Shroud. The truth is that a version of this dish was being served  in Spain at the time of the Conquest.  Here is where you imagine Conquistadores  abducting and  pillaging villagers and then feeding the stragglers dessert nice huh?  While the the conquest was vile and not to be glossed over by history books, the Spanish did bring changes in gastronomy and this one was good.    Mexican Capirotada has evolved to include specific types of Mexican ingredients including a special brown sugar called pilloncillo which is produced and prepared into a large cone and  Queso fresco, a Mexican farmer’s cheese.  The inclusion of  a sweet / savory  tomato ,onion, clove and cinnamon  broth begets a rich and delicious complexity within the pudding.  Some people add  peanuts or pineapple and even add festive cupcake sprinkles on the top of the entire dish.

There are alot of versions of bread pudding possibly all originating during biblical or Roman times, but the one nearest and dearest to my heart is my grandmother’s recipe, and yes it’s a MEXICAN bread pudding.  Although she is half Basque Spanish and half indigenous Mestizo Indian (of the Aztec blood line, a tribe called Tarahumara to be exact ),   The most important thing to me now about Capirotada is it’s power.  My grandmother has Alzheimer’s disease and her memory is fast fading.  When talking about Easter last year, I asked her if she could remember her recipe for Capirotada, I was hoping I could glean a few of her special ingredients, to make sure I was making it right.  I really wanted to make sure and carry on a part of her wonderful food tradition, but I also just wanted to jog her memory.

The Author's son fist bumping with Lucy, his Great-Grandmother

I was desperate to jump start any other memories surrounded by food and family and friends.   Initially I was sad to find that she could not remember ingredients, but she remembered the act of making the capirotada!  In thinking about it, I realized that I could ‘just get a recipe online” (the most authentic I could find of course), and then query her on the particulars of it.  What would she remember? Maybe we could do a process of elimination.  Did she add peanuts? Well that was a yes.  Did she add pineapple? or other fruit?   I had to laugh because mostly she remembered  toasting the bread and layering the pan.  She didn’t remember any pineapple, but she did remember peanuts.  She was insulted when I asked her about sprinkles…so that was a no!  One day she said “Leche” (but I already knew that!)  Still one day she said “sauce” cebolla and tomato…So I selected the recipe with most of the ingredients she had mentioned, and was the oldest syle of preparation, and went to town.     I was so happy to hear some of these things coming back.  She knew that she loved to make Capirotada and and that everyone on the street would stop by to have some and talk.  Her friend Joyce was very clear in her memory, which was very nice to hear, as Joyce was her very best friends and unfortunately passed away in a very sad manner later, but my grandmother’s thoughts of her were happy and included how they used to talk over capirotada and a bit of iced tea.    Funny how older memories can be eased from Alzheimer’s patients via the memories of food.  I finally made my (grandmother’s)  capirotada.  The next day I returned to her “home” with an entire tray of the pudding.  I cut that first wonderful piece as the word got out to caregivers who crowded around.  I served a piece to my grandmother.  Her hand shook, he glasses slipped a little.  She pushed them back up.   She chewed and smiled, she said, “oh Mejia…THAT’S  THE BEST CAPIROTADA that I’ve EVER HAD! ”  Now… my grandmother is not one to dole out compliments easily… or exclusives like that.   She’s usually in her chair complaining and uttering the word “Bah!” when she can’t stand something, or if there’s a situation that she can’t control.  Or in frustration when her  opinion doesn’t get the proper response. So, I was filled with surprise and joy because…well…because she was!

There’s something about that savory bite of cheese hidden within the flavors of cinnamon, cloves and raisins. It’s a natural pairing, even if I did think it was strange as a child. boy how our tastes change as we grow.  This special batch of capirotada  seemed to spark, for my grandmother, a visual, multi-dimensional memory of a happier time. A time when she proudly fed family and friends and would sit down and chat in her kitchen.  A kitchen she misses so dearly!  All she has a is a little room now but it’s necessary for her care.   Funny how food carries such  intense experiential feelings.  Memories through food can be so useful for alzheimer’s patients and for all of us.   Now my grandmother is requesting that I make  her cocido!  and bunelos!   I’m pretty worried about re-creating those recipes,  but I’ll try …. just to help her remember….

"Lucy" about 1946

Maria De La Luz’ Capirotada

1 24-inch loaf of French bread, cubed and toasted (about six cups)
2 cups of brown sugar or 16 oz. of piloncillo
2 cups of water
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup of shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup of pecans, toasted and chopped
1/2 cup of raisins
½ cup of dried apricots, chopped
1/4 cup of butter, melted
Method:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.Make a syrup by boiling the sugar, water, cinnamon and cloves together for 10 minutes or until it’s slightly thickened and reduced.In a greased large cast-iron skillet or an 8×8 cake pan, place half the bread and pour over it half the melted butter. Toss to coat. Drizzle about ¼ cup of the syrup over the bread and toss to coat. Layer on top of the bread the cheese, pecans, raisins and dried apricots. Place the rest of the bread on top, drizzle over the remaining butter and then pour over the rest of the syrup. Make sure that each piece of bread is properly coated in syrup.Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for fifteen more minutes. I like to eat it warm.

Serves 8.

My Story of Retribution and The “You Pissed me Off You Bastard” Blog..


My Song of Retribution via The “You Pissed me Off Blog”

Last week in my car whilst waiting for a spell for my children to return from their math tutor, a large black rolling living room pulled up along side of me.  The first inhabitant sitting in the backseat leaned toward their window, and threw all of his 60 lbs or so, of tutor-weary-angry-tiger-child right into throwing open that door right into the side of my car!  Big as a Mexico quake (too soon?..sorry), my car shook this Mexigringa right into next Tuesday and forced my shaken hand to load a screwed up Instagram photo. Okay, Hey! I was not done profusely editing my mediocre photo! ! I took a breath actually feeling sorry for a probable overwhelmed tiger-child who was obviously arriving to ‘tutoring’ at dinner time and I knew that must suck…when…a second door (this time the driver’s side) whipped open with wreckless abandon with ANOTHER CRASH RIGHT INTO MY CAR!! this time the driver’s door!  

The little snark’s mother now repeated his event right into my passenger side door!  Now I was done, fried, livid, seeing red and not about to sit there and ignore it, I got out of my seat and into the rain.  The sky had really opened up, but paying no mind to the rain, the heat traveled up my neck to my face and the top of my head, as I neared the snape who was exiting her door and grabbing her purse as I came around and yelled at her, “I CAN’T AFFORD THIS!!!  I CAN’T AFFORD THIS!!!…AGAIN…I CAN’T AFFORD THIS!!!  YOU SEE THE TWO DENTS? YOUR LITTLE SCHOLAR SLAVE  DID THE FIRST ONE AND I FIGURED KIDS MAKE MISTAKES, BUT NOW YOU DO IT TOO?  I CAN’T AFFORD THIS!!  she just looked at me wet hair, getting wetter, glaring with angry green eyes, my finger still pointing to the dents, she stared at me righteously,  collecting up her Juicy Couture overly patented bag, as her kid bounded past us into the tutoring center leaving his mother to deal with me. After what seemed like an eternity, she uttered,  “not my fault, sorry” as she pushed past me.  This woman did not offer to pay anything nor did she offer to help me.  I then yelled to her as she turned her back, I WAS GOING TO SELL MY CAR! BUT WHAT DO YOU CARE? YOU’VE GOT A ROLLING LIVING ROOM!  YOU SNAPE!  KEEP PLAYING SPONGEBOB UNTIL YOUR KID ROTS HIS MIND!”

She looked at me blankly over her shoulder. I was most certainly grabbing at straws.  I got back into my car, my head was hurting by that time, sorry that I used Spongebob in a negative manner, cuz I really love that guy.  I really do.  At least I said my peace. Later my boys got in my car, My hair all curly and ruined.  It was obvious I was out in the rain.  But why? The kids wondered. ‘Mom what happened?” “snapes” I said, “Snapes happened,  big rude, entitled uncaring snapes a whole family of them.” I continued, “now we’ve got two big dents in the side of the car !”  “‘who did it?”  my son Cameron persisted.  “A woman driving a Behemoth gas guzzling Suburban with multiple kid- stunners (movie screens), rolled up in all of her superiority and crushed the side of the honda’s doors!”  Cameron was livid. I had unknowingly transferred my anger to my freshly tutored “A” student who is taking criminal justice and was in the law and government program at his high school. I felt a little bad for synopsizing the event in such a railing way.  Maybe I should have just NOT told my kids?  Naw…the truth is always the way.  Of course Cam wanted to run recon and get pictures of the woman’s license plate once she returned to pick up her little uber-scholar-demon. Of course…. I let them.  I needed that plate anyway to litigate.  We actually waited for an hour after tutoring was done, (was I being a little maniacal?)  I wondered for a hot second but was back to my anger the next.  Later I posited that there must be a website where you can tell your story, and publicly shame someone.  Vindication!? was it to be had? at least online in a public forum before I did all the footwork to make her pay? Well I never found that site but tonight I sure found something funny called “you pissed me off you bastard” Click on the link under the title of this blog, and enjoy the restless griping within a well written blog.  This gentleman hails from  the UK and talks about things that piss him off in general.  The gripes are both large and small but the laughs are big.  Just what I needed to let off some of the steam!  Cheers!

The Cause is real. FIND KONY NOW


http://invisiblechildrenstore.myshopify.com/

Is Invisible Children a sham? I don’t think so. This group was born out of the extreme desire to change a horrible human ongoing tragedy.  Out of it some pretty well connected and creative people ideated a way to get the extreme latent power of The American People moving as a massive force for change.  I call this an amazing social experiment that if it works will not only show common folk America it’s extreme power but hopefully move a specific tragic situation to a better outcome.  I.E., taking a ruthless killer out of business. The Invisible Children do alot with their money.  Building schools, re-building communities and making children  safer is not cheap.  Let’s not kid ourselves. Setting up communication venues so that incidents can be reported and hopefully acted upon quickly cannot be cheap either.  Collecting data about these atrocities is essential should Mr. Kony finally come to trial at The Hague.  They are hoping he eventually will.  He has too much blood on his hands for America to look away and conclude that “it’s all fine, it’s not happening anymore.”  How many families remember? How many families hurt everyday for their lost loved ones? How many have body parts that are missing and have to deal with an extreme handicap in a very unforgivable setting such as some of the remote villages they live in?  I say DO NOT FORGET ABOUT KONY.  America won’t go back to sleep.  We don’t always need to fight for money or for our claims, or just when we are directly threatened.  We can spare some of our vast resources to capture Kony for the ICC.  We can do this because it is right.  I believe that Invisible Children will pay for the capture of Kony as best it can contribute.  I can’t believe in my heart that the money they collect will go spent selfishly.  It’s ridiculous. America won’t let that happen!  That being said,  I totally “get” the girl from Uganda that made the video about Kony not really being a problem anymore and Uganda not being this ‘terrible place’ and that with all this media attention and money being spent on awareness kits, that other charities may lose funding.   I get that her Uganda is not this place of 24-7 horror where these atrocities are happening.  But that is her Uganda and yes Kony is moving, but that is what these criminals do!  they need to feed and feed they do, they move when the grass has been eaten! We know that Kony has moved from the area into Congo and is probably lying low as The Great Giant is now on his tail and more aware of his atrocities.  Last of all there is reason he’s number one on the ICC’s Most Wanted list.  When Hitler vacationed in Bergdorf he wasn’t done wreaking havoc on mankind.  He was just on vacation fathering a child.  Egregious things followed. Please follow the LRA Tracking app http://www.lracrisistracker.com/   that was set up to bring this entier process into the 21st century and keep the abuses on our radar.  Day by day the LRA is still active in Uganda and still rapes, murders and maims people.  It is only a matter of time before Kony ramps up and continues his disgusting plan.  He can’t be let off the hook and Americans can make a big thumping noise and move our government to see a positive end to these tragedies.  We’ve seen the power or Tunisia, Egypt, and the unrelenting belief in the power of the people in other nations in the area.  America still has the Occupy movement but this is different.  You don’t mess with Children.  ANYBODY’S CHILDREN.  FIND KONY NOW!! 

America must trust and act.  

 

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My Resolve is strong: ‘What I am endeavoring to correct in the latter part of 2012’


Well I missed the boat.  The huge Italian-piloted-playboy-of a captain’s-type of boat that is.  Because well I’m just not the glitzy “12 lido decks” sailing type.  

"Lido Deck"

I like the impermanance of the warm and sea-worn dinghy.  I love the sheer mystery that goes with the wind in my hair and the”throw caution to the wind”  feeling of, “Will I make it to shore?”  So I missed the boat on putting to paper my “wants” for 2012.  First of all, I wanted the world to continue.  I did not REALLY believe that those crazy Mayans correctly foretold of the end of our spastic little attention deficit planet.  They were probably like….tired of tip tapping all that crazy angular text into stone and were like….Um…bro, I’m DONE! this sh*t’s TIRING!!! Or maybe there’s a “mayan Calendar part deux” buried beneath a behemoth pyramid and the archeologist types will unearth it and will be like…”crap….sorry…you mad bro?”   Not to knock Mayan, because I’m pretty sure their my ancestors.  I’m Mexican and Irish, which officially makes me a “Mexi-gringa” and my grandmother’s family comes from The Tarahumara Tribe.  all you need to know is that they actually chase (yes still) deer and whatever they want to eat, on foot. They wear crazy little skirts.  AND THOSE ARE THE MEN!!   They live in high altitude cliff dwellings in Mexico’s  Copper Canyon to be exact) …and drink a beverage called Iskiate that makes ecstasy look like baby food. So I don’t diss the Mayans.  I’m not an ancestry buff but i’ve a feeling the corn meal doesn’t  fall too far from the huarache if you know what I mean.    But I’m glad they got it wrong.  VERY WRONG.  Because that means we all have more time to ignore Super-Pacs, not stand up for Women’s rights on contraception etc.,  I guess what I’m saying is…DOES IT TAKE THE IMPENDING END OF THE WORLD TO GET FIRED UP ABOUT THESE THINGS?! People…PEOPLE!!!! …..  Seriously.  If you’re gonna get fired up and change things…ahem…then these are some starting points.

I’m also endeavoring to figure out why young female children are hanging their entire tiny self esteems on the millions of mostly hardened YouTube Viewer’s opinions! Patt Morrison of KPCC devoted one of her radio shows to this question the other day.  I was lucky enough to have one of my comments read on the air by Patt, (I can’t tell you how exciting this was…) but my thoughts on this subject have not been entirely aired and I wish to explore this phenomena more fully here! You lucky readers!  Okay you four readers of mine, (you know who you are…)   Personally I don’t remember being wary of my self esteem as a child never mind manically  questioning  whether I was “pretty” or not.  Not much of a thought to tell you the truth.  Not until my next door neighbor, the evil Yvette Lopez,  told me that I got to borrow the ‘ugly Barbie’ because as she put it, ‘I was ‘ugly too.’  I remember being angry, and not really believing her.  I guess my parents had done some work there and made sure my  intrinsic self esteem was intact and somewhat unretractable in a way.  Some sort of positive verbal massaging of the spirit went on.  I do know that I did not own Barbies, either by the sheer prospect of borderline poverty or by ideal I know not.  I do know, however, I was the eager recipient of an occasional chicharone or  pan dulce whilst watching 1970’s basketball with my dad.  My mother had me busy with art projects.  As for Yvette?  I wanted to punch her lights out and began making mud pies to launch over the wall into her front yard.  Being resourceful, I enlisted my little brother and the offensive began.   Looking back, that was my first taste of justice and haven’t’ lost the thirst for it.  Today I’m wondering why America has been resting on it’s laurels with regard to women’s issues.  Not only are we on the razor’s edge of losing contraception rights, we are okay with so much misogyny in our media once again.  I wasn’t around for the 50’s and I was just a wee tot in the 60’s and all I know is that in the 70’s women’s issues were important. I felt it. I saw it.  Women were in a fight.  Gloria Steinem was a common visual on my parent’s magnavox. Cher might’ve been in a tiny deerskin bikini but she was a strong woman.   Women with caftans, flared pants large flowered prints were pissed and on guard.  They wanted to be respected for the women they were.  In the eighties the idea of ‘being an airhead’ or one’s entire self-esteem being soley based on looks still didn’t fly.  There was an enduring radar out there just daring any inkling of disrespect to waft within it’s general airspace.  How did things change so quickly? Now we have The Kardashians, The Bachelor, Jersey Shore’s women put out there as defacto role models for young girls.  Women in bikinis selling hamburgers.  Maybe the ladies on Hee Haw or Petty Coat Junction we’rent perfect but they certainly weren’t bouncing booze soaked ice cubes off the pecs of half naked guido boys! There was enough strong feminist vibe going on that even girls as young as I was knew that we weren’t to be messed with or disrespected and most of all? I had more than my looks to make me feel whole.

Thankfully there is a group called G.A.T.E. (Global Alliance for Transformational Entertainment) spearheaded by John Raatz, Jim Carrey and Eckhart Tolle

John Raatz, Eckhart Tolle and JIm Carrey : G.A.T.E.

…and they endeavor to change some of the tendencies in Hollywood that culminate in movies and shows that lower that self-esteem bar.  Basically GATE is trying to raise the bar making Hollywood responsible for what is conveyed in their productions.  Can we tell a good story that people want to see without all the gratuitous sex or stereotypical demography that we now use so wantonly? Can we make an impact without the gratuitous violence?  Can we merely allude to the violence in the story if it is a necessary part of the storytelling?  but not glorify it’s detail? Can we get past using sex and violence as cash cows? and raise our cinema arts to a new level?   Can we tell better stories? and can we tell stories that are more impactful and help us all get along on this tiny blue idiosyncratic planet?  I think so.  And if we do…succeed that is, in making Hollywood just a little less attention starved, we will we have an impact on young children.  We must do this because young kids  are starting to show signs of  the hyper sexualization and adult drama that they encounter everywhere in out society.  A ten year old asking the world if she’s pretty, an eleven year old worried that she’s ‘not hot’.  it’s worrisome.   Endeavor with me.  Eyes on the prize.

Why Egypt’s progressives win


This Youth in Revolt….   Aristotle said, “In democracy the poor will have more power than the rich, because there are more of them, and the will of the majority is supreme.”  Clearly the idea of Democracy is a fire in the heart.  It is the call for freedom from the chains of subordination.  It is a call for justice for ALL PEOPLE, not JUST the rich.

It is a call for a level playing field for all people, or at least a demand for a government that works for ALL and endeavors to take care of all of the classes.   The disproportionate wealth in Egypt is obvious and the people will take no more of Mubarak’s policies.

All governments should be reminded that they work for ALL of the people and that they are in power to lead as is a representative entity of the people. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.  The greatest power that a people can have is the power to choose, and this is now what the Egyptians are asserting.  Their power to choose. They choose for Mubarak to step down.

Why Egypt’s progressives win – Opinion – Al Jazeera English.

Women has been at the forefront of the organization of the protests at Tahrir Square.

My Post secret Synchronicity


On New Year’s Day, (okay yesterday)... I woke up and decided to visualize my new goals and resolutions. I decided that before I got to the real  angst and torture from which all sacrifice must come,  I would flounder in my old habits just a little longer.   I proceeded to roll out of bed at 1PM, eat cereal for my breakfast / lunch / afternoon snack.  (one bowl accounted for all of those meals, but lord it was a large one).  I then lain in an extremely hot bath hoping to settle the granola that was without a doubt nefariously swimming in my breadbasket like paunch.

After enjoying my scalding dip (which lasted approximately an hour), I dried off and took a seat next to my husband at our local Mexican food eatery, “The Whole Enchilada.”  I consumed “Street tacos.”

It did, in fact, cross my mind that i just paid $10.00 for a plate of ‘street tacos’ not on the ‘STREET but ‘in THE ‘KITCHEN’ of a corporate restaurant.  I probably should’ve  mosied back down the boulevard and bought some those tacos for about $2.00!   Yes, I did get a tiny bowl of frijoles de la hoya with a ‘pift’ of cacique cheese floating in it, but even that didn’t make it a moderate economic gain.  After whooshing the corporate cloaked ‘street tacos’ down my gullet,  Steve and I decided we would see the latest Coen Brothers’ movie, “True Grit.”  but with an hour to kill before our flick,  we decided to first go to our local bookstore use it like a library (as usual.)  Usually we purchase a coffee and cookie reading books in their entirety and taking pictures of weird titles.  We’d wait until the movie started or they kicked us out.  Whatever came first.

I hung in Cultural studies / social issues because I can’t get enough controversy, stories of intervention and political unrest.  I must say that I do have a ‘highbrow literary fantasy’ so sometimes I break character and skulk over to the literary fiction looking for affecting coming of age tales with political overtones set in middle America.  Ahem Thomas Pynchon..Ahem…

Steve dallied in Tech, computing, cooking or building.  But I was hoping to find something different in my usual domain, running my finger along several spines, the  new P.J. O’Rourke, the new Amy Goodman, 

some blasted books blasting Obama, some social book applauding Oprah, what it feels like to be half black and half white, how it feels to be transgender.  Partisan stuff, union stuff, struggles of women with eating disorders and how to talk to your child if he’s in a gang.  I noticed some opinion stuff on Kabul and then… there I spotted it.  “PostSecrets.” Intrigued in general with ‘secrets,’ I opened the book.  “PostSecrets” is a book created by Frank Warren, in which people mail their secrets anonymously on a homemade postcard.

The simple concept of the project was that completely anonymous people decorate a postcard and portray a secret that they had never previously revealed. No restrictions are made on the content of the secret; only that it must be completely truthful and must never have been spoken before.

Entries range from admissions of sexual misconduct and criminal activity to confessions of secret desires, embarrassing habits, hopes and dreams.  I was intrigued to say the least.  I flipped through the book dazzled by the humor, the honesty and yes the sadness.

The sadness was striking and hard to digest at the same time since it was expressed with such artistic beauty.

Some of the revelations sworn to secrecy were familiar.  Yes, at times I do hate people who display some of the same traits that I do hate within myself.  But I read on.  I found people who felt ignored, unloved, bound and angry.  Some were flippant, using the platform / art piece / literary work as a context to simply goof on the idea of a secret through the use of exaggeration or minimalism.  There were ‘matter of fact secrets’ and then there were ones that we only have had inklings were occurring in some of our family friends and neighbors.

As I perused the expanse of artwork, now with Steve looking over my shoulder, I was turning the pages and found this!  It said, “I cheated on my husban with a woman and i’ll do it again.”  In a way I felt honored to be the unlikely and completely unexpected

recipient of one woman’s “secret.”  I felt sad that she (whomever she was), was obviously torn in her relationship, and that she was burdened with something she seemed to feel ashamed of.  I felt sorry for the unknowing party, the deceived, the husband.  This unknown woman had seen the book, gone into the bathroom which was only 10 steps from the end of the aisle where the section was located, and tore a sheet from the towel dispenser, authored her admission and left it for discovery.

I felt as though the sadness and beauty of this book had just reached out and touched me in reality, there on that shelf in that bookstore while killing time waiting for a Coen Brothers’ movie.

"I only ever played sports to feel like my father loved me."

The Trouble With Milk: 2010 in review – How loud were we?


The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Fresher than ever.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 3,000 times in 2010. That’s about 7 full 747s.

 

In 2010, there were 53 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 81 posts. There were 257 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 84mb. That’s about 5 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was December 9th with 66 views. The most popular post that day was “SOUNDS-WEST” The best music in Los Angeles .

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were stumbleupon.com, facebook.com, webmail.aol.com, en.wordpress.com, and WordPress Dashboard.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for the trouble with milk, birth defects pictures, disney female characters, deadmau5, and disney male characters.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

“SOUNDS-WEST” The best music in Los Angeles October 2009
3 comments

2

NCLB and it’s effects on school ‘truancy.’ or…Pearls of Wisdom: “If our American life fails the child, it fails us all.” ~ Pearl S. Buck writer and sometime sha-woman.. March 2010
7 comments

3

Kettleman City – We need another Cesar Chavez. February 2010

4

Micachu and the Shapes: Bite your lip, get up and Dance. January 2010

5

How the Amelia Bedelia Books SHOULD be titled! October 2009

Remember how we felt? Words About the coming fascism from my father Gil Franco


Note: Although Gil Franco passed away in 2006, it is obvious that we as a country are still dealing with the ‘fascism’ that we were during the reign of ‘King George.’  Read this and ‘remember how we felt.’

Now… think about our current struggle for ‘freedom of speech‘, (Assange, Jeremy Marks, so many others), ‘truth’, (Assange, our war engagement), and ‘transparency.‘ (there are too many examples to place in parenth!)

The ‘slowly, but surely ‘part,  of this essay…was so prescient.

Read on…

Find Gil’s (My dad’s) writing still posted on http://progressivewritersbloc.com

On Sunday March 5 while watching CNN a story appeared that certainly got my attention. It was about a high school teacher in Aurora, Colorado who was suspended (lucky for him, with pay) when he asked his students if they thought there were any similarities between President George W. Bush and Adolph Hitler. (By the way, just Google “Bush Hitler Similarities” and you will find several lengthy lists of similarities various people have compiled.) One of his students, a fifteen year old boy, “just happened” to record this question on his hand held recorder. The teacher, Jay Bennish, did not deny that he asked the question, but he emphasized that he posed his remark as a question, not a statement, in order to stimulate a dialog with his students.

I agree with Mr. Bennish because grappling with controversial issues is supposed to be part of the educational process. A teacher is supposed to get his students to think, isn’t he? Though this incident has been a mere blip on the radar screen, thus far, I find it disturbing (to put it mildly) in the sense that the teacher’s first amendment right (the freedom of speech provision) was violated. Quite frankly this doesn’t surprise me at all. Why? Because this administration has slowly but surely squelched, put down, denied, pressured, or humiliated anyone who disagrees with them. (Hey! That’s a similarity with Hitler right there, isn’t it?) They’re denying us, Americans, our constitutional rights slowly but surely.

What’s almost laughable is that Bush and his partners in crime have the audacity, temerity and unmitigated gall to state (ad nauseam) that they want to spread freedom and democracy around the world while at the same time they’re taking our freedoms away here at home! They must think we’re all just a bunch of brainless morons. Well, I have news for the Bush regime’s boot-lickers and hangers on. There are some of us in this great country of ours who are waking up to the grim reality that confronts us here in the United States of America. There are many of us who do not fall for Bush’s lies, and double talk. We are not part of his so-called base; huge and powerful corporations (foreign and domestic), the oil industry, pharmaceutical firms, the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.), Halliburton, etc. Yes, it’s incumbent on those of us who know a con artist when we see one to do everything in our power to stop the theft of our constitutional rights. No one is going to do it for us; it’s up to us. The future is now. Tomorrow will be too late. So let’s stop complaining and start rolling NOW!

Micachu and the Shapes: Bite your lip, get up and Dance.



The Precocious, multi-instrumentality of Micachu and the Shapes is like camping on an English moor full of howling wolves as you dance to a Kraftwerk album with Gavin Friday, Marke E. Smith and Guggi.  You’ll need a tour-guide in for this moor party because it’s a bafflingly intricate, yet uneasy place. Walking at night, you feel your feet sink into the moor, tin pans crash, an acoustic guitar rants and a shock of Roux-like hair bounces in and out of the frame. Just aloft you spy Colin Newman stoking a sonic campfire as he types on his iphone.  The fire crackles repetitively with a  waffle and snap.  You are at a zeitgeist sleepover, a tempiscore melding of sense datum.   Yes, you are overloaded but in a playful dreamlike state, these things are expected!   In fact it feels downright amazing, the music in the background has a restless energy,   a crack, a pop.   Set against a nefarious groan or the heaving low hum of soft machines, this eclectic pop is tamed by a warm and yet  distinctive androgynous voice.    That is the sound of Micachu and the Shapes, and it’s not a dream.  Micachu (Mica Levi) is tangible! and in a club somewhere tonight playing a vacuum cleaner.

Mica sits staccato, with an unexpected and painterly face. Her voice and  demeanor  project an element of confident-uneasiness. a careless androgyne, tall with a complex grin,  she is an ‘artiste de artist,’  one  bringing sounds useful to Dee jays, club-goers and the lucky and hard working denizens of Rough Trade, San Francisco.  So far everyone fron Bjork to Beck are calling her one of their “influences.”  or at at least “the most un-classifiable pop experimental music existing today.”   That’s pretty good when the avant-garde of the uber popular alternative are calling you “one of the lovely bones with which we are collectively building this thing we call popular music”.

Straddling many genres of music at one time, Michachu has got the concept cornered. How does someone play front instruments, sing,  and add the sound of a vacuum cleaner along with pops and clacks purposfully (and perfectly) set in time to a thick bumping background track? In my humble opinion the only contemporary rock band able to cross this boundary and do well with so many genres was  The White Stripes.  Jack White did whatever he wanted, and Meg was the co-ideator / conspirator in those avant experiments that turned into great songs.   The only constant was his voice as the music always surprised, swelled and dipped as he wailed and groaned in new and different ways.   Experimental, though, it was not.    It was exploratory. In Micachu and the Shapes’  type of ‘experimental’,   there’s  an element of  “I don’t care, I do what I want, what feels right at the time, and by the way… to hell with this ‘image thing”.   It seems  Levi and company do not ascribe to any specific assemblage of their art, it simply is… “what it is.”

Micachu and The Shapes’ songs arent’ about punching other girls in bars, thanks Lilly, we’ve had enough of that.  It was fun in the begining, but now we have to see other people.   The female role in new music must get some plaster and lathe ready and quick, because Micachu just ripped that house a hole in the wall.

As Micachu swoons into a neutral plastic bounce, “Golden Phone,”  seems to reference her ‘style,’ that is, if she could be categorized…

How could they even care it’s a nonsense sound
This sound is everywhere but it can’t be found
Find Nancy fool around and the noise went white
It built the warmth back and there was light

Crimes everywhere yeah, but I don’t want that
Love’s all around yeah, but I don’t want that
Gold in my hair yeah, but I don’t want that
Bring me that nonsense sound and I’ll be back

Well, crushed up bit of stuff, can you pull their ear?
Their legs are far too stiff and they can’t get near
I’ll make this call back to you in a year
Mongrels, this nonsense sound won’t disappear

The song ‘Lips’ explores grime and punk crossover sounds.  Not unlike the likes of early Gang of Four, or Wire, Mica and the Shapes sharp and staccato dithering make you wanna get up and dance.

Die, die, die, your lips  a big lie

You lie all the time, but you still get by.

You bite your tongue but you don’t comply

Dry your tears away with your tie

You drive that truck but you’re still let by

Drop, drop, drop, your lips a big lie

In ‘Sweetheart’ and ‘Eat your Teeth’ Mica samples and manipulates every squeal and stray breath.  She and The Shapes, processes them into pop staccato explosions.  In contrast,  ‘Golden Phone’ is a dirty punk song, breathless and beguiling.

This is the Golden phone, can you ring me back?

Ten mongrels home alone bring the panic back

Sound traveled in the air then they blew it back

The took out all the noise and it all went black

How could they even care it’s a nonsense sound

This sound is everywhere but it can’t be found

Find Nancy fool around and the noise went white

It built the warmth back and there was light

‘Worst Bastard’ is pure punk brilliance; whilst “Vultures” may have the same basic background as Glen Branca’s, “The Ascension” Lesson No. 1″  I could be wrong though.  Branca’s wall of sound is exactly  the intricacy Micachu uses in their swirling and full soundscapes, and especially on this song.   The new Shapes’ album “Jewellery” is on track for album British Album of the year and I’m not surprised.  It may have to fight with La Roux’s signature album “La Roux” but they really are different territory.

In “Curly teeth”, Micachu uses a squeaky sound as a background layer and a dissonence that actually works under her defined and short shap vocals. “Curly teeth” does not dissapoint in fact as with other Shapes’ songs, it surprises once again.

I stumbled upon Micachu and the Shapes about 3 months ago via my favorite performance artiste chanteuse Bjork, and in my humble opinion, this unclassfiable band headed up by Mica Levi  is  channeling the best of electronica, rough wire, punk, avant-garde, pop, and dance. This stateside inhabitant will be sure to see them when they turn up at any venue within 40 miles of me.  Even if you just go to see someone use a vacuum cleaner onstage, don’t miss them when they come to town.

Ditch the Dead Heads!!!


No, We’re definitely not talking about your favorite Jerry Bear / Bob Weir lovin’ friends,

Jer-Bear and Bob

but the un-moving, previously living creatures above your head in your favorite restaurant or bar..

I’ve always thought those folks that hang the heads of moose, elk and the like were a bit looney tunes (still do), but mostly I hate going into restaurants and eating under the glassy eyed stare of some poor Elk that was probably just minding his own business checking out some milk thistle or looking for the perfect cow to hang out with. You know pass the boring time in the woods, that dang outback up there in Maine or in Canada or some place, vast, and cold.  Somewhere where things are peaceful.  It’s rough waiting until the permafrost melts.   The only ruckus is when Dick Cheney and his cronies start combing the taiga in search of living things to shoot for sport.

"Satan-i-cheney" Coutesy of democralypsenow.blogspot.com

Oh!  Damn…I guess other humanoids holding boston lager in hunter’s fatigues don’t count.  Hey! Dick makes mistakes doesn’t everyone? sic.  Back to the other denizens of the taiga who mind their own business, actually belong there and don’t drink boston lager whilst handling firearms, who would that be?….um…let’s see… the animals?

More and more the “Deco-hunter-trend” seems to have oozed slowly from the taiga of the greater Northern Americas and seeped into the hearts and minds of upscale “uber-designers” as they have never been so keen as to use this motif for or  in lighting fixtures, lamps and upscale restaurants.  I think that we would be better Americans if we changed the  “scene of Americana,”  or at the very least the icons of the “Great North America.”

PETA members, active and gift-bearing sympathizers are now “on to”  those that promote the subjugating practice of buying and displaying Trophy animals on the walls of their restaurants, bars and personal spaces. Animal activists (whom should quite simply be called life Activists, as they are supporting and protecting life, in particular the lives of animals), have been asking everyone to consider the rights that animals have to live.  These activists are asking us all to go a step further and think about “the promotion of the horror of  killing for sport”  in particular the use of “trophy animals.” If Trophy heads are being used in the “design” of a “space” or to support an “art idea” it is wrong. Yes, we are talking to you!  The fine artists dwelling saliently in dilapidated but decidedly cool downtown lofts, we urge you to really think about your “installations. Do they even vaguely support this subjugation?  Hopefully not.  Hopefully arm-chair activists we have not become.  Manifesting our activism on blogs and Face-book but rarely in real life.     Whether it’s a convoluted window dressing “just trying to give the feeling of Americana”, or “the close to the bone living off the land ” type of feel, it is wrong.   How about the restaurant designer who thinks that a trophy-head gives that just right je ne sais quois,  mix of testosterone and boutique lager” that draws in the 21-35’er “city cool” male demographic he’s aiming for?  This trend is bad for the animals, for environmentalism, it’s bad judgement in general, and further teaches our children to subjugate animals.  Let’s let Johnny who pours salt on slugs grow out of that ‘sometimes common boyhood mis-judgement’, and become a concerned and caring individual not only towards other humans, but also toward his unspeaking but feeling animal neighbors.

I’ve got a great idea!  Let’s substitute Trophy animals with “Trophy wives?”  How about that?  Imagine for a moment won’t you?   Woman “A” puts an ad in (of course, Craig’s List), for a “sugar-daddy” and voila!  One “dubiously lucky” guy gets his trophy wife and then has a bolt driven into her underside and has her put on a trophy mount!   No longer a nuissance  having her on his arm for the looks and no meaningful conversation, and the status 2-7, now he can pretty much just place her on a shelf to point out whenever guests come by to visit.

It’s the “hey look what I did!” syndrome.  “Aren’t I a man? Look how strong and able I am!”  It’s where primitivo meets insecurity.  It can be on Match.com or in a restaurant in Michigan.  We can’t control whose psyche needs the trophy, but we can control whether we patronize establishments that display that kind of cruelty. If we wouldn’t think of doing that to women in America, then why do we do that to our Moose and Elk friends?

If it's good enough for the Trophy Moose, it's good enough for the Trophy Wife

When you enter a restaurant or bar that promotes this practice.  Ask them this:

Concerned cool person (you) says: “Excuse me, may I ask you a question?”

Capricious and unaware or just plain cruel bar / restaurant owner:  “Sure! What’s up? seating okay?”

Concerned cool person (You) says:  “I was wondering whether you enjoy decapitation.”

Capricious and unaware or just plain cruel bar / restaurant owner:  “What the? Why would you ask me that?”

Concerned cool person (you) says: Well I don’t think that it’s necessary to mount lifeless decapitated animals on the walls to make your food any better.  We all “get” the “Americana” thing.  Can I replace the Moose head with a piece of art work representing that moose / elk head?

Capricious and unaware or just plain cruel bar / restaurant owner:  “Um… well can I see your artwork?”

At this point, you have a potential customer, you can tell them about how they ‘really don’t want PETA to come and review the restaurant’ and then show them your portfolio.

It’s suggested to have some ideas available or at least pull up your blog on your iphone and show them your work.

Here’s a cool installation I ran across, and sky’s the limit on what else can be ideated!

Go to 2 http://www.watermelonwatermelon.com to read about this artwork

please…I don’t want to look into those glassy sad eyes anymore, anywhere.

-Chrissylong

Yes please…Can we have it now?


Oh “omnipotent-god-of-over-the-top-but-unneeded-crazy-cool-personal-electronics,” May I please have the opportunity to make my friends and people I don’t even know jealous?

OMG. OMFG.

Could I just have a demo when it comes out in order to satiate my husband’s un-quenchable thirst for uniquely slim, simple and highly sought-after personal media communication devices?

I have been very good!  Really I have!  I bought cookies for my children today at the Trader Joe’s and did not eat them ALL  in the car on the way home from the grocery store!  (I saved them two, they were coconut macaroon their favorite).

I even endeavored to make dinner for my husband and his mother and actually Still intend to do it!  ….That is if we don’t end up going out to dinner.

I do realize, of course, that there’s good and then there’s ‘really good’.  Like the little girl with the little curl right in the middle of her forehead…I have just been…well….mildly good.  OKAY.  there.  I said it.

Since this “Window Phone,” only exists in the minds’ eye and on some digital graphic device owned by ‘Designer, Seunghan Song, all of us plebeians can rest easy and know that we don’t have to move mountains to get to after school soccer games, we don’t have to make sure the broccoli isn’t mush in the last 2 minutes of steaming whilst you’re going to hell-to-hell-in-a-hand-basket trying to explain Algebra-two equations to your seventh-grader as you turn on a heel to get a glaze on the ham and check on E-Bay auctions.

Just go ahead and blow!


Basically, It’s not time to kick it up a notch people.  So rest easy ‘marginals, It aint easy being great and who wants to start that kind of magic now?  All in good time babies.  For now hooking one of these originals s is just pie in the sky.

but I’m just hoping it’s APPLE pie!

CLEARLY...It will be a winner.

“Lift” a film by Marc Issacs.


LIFT is a quietly fascinating meditation on the mundanities of London life. Installing himself inside the lift of a high-rise block of council flats, Isaacs and his camera patiently observe the residents as they go about their daily business. As each of his subjects enters the lift, it’s interesting to note their reactions to him being there; some are suspicious, others curious, and then there are those who seem more comfortable in his presence. Lift is a revealing and truly original perspective on modern British life.
***
Marc Isaacs worked as an assistant to acclaimed filmmaker Pawel Pawlikowski, who encouraged Isaacs to make his own film. The result was Lift, and from that debut onwards Isaacs has revealed a great capacity to empathise with the protagonists of his films. Never judging by appearances, Isaacs’ skill at getting to know the characters becomes part of the narrative of the film, and their (and our) prejudices and preconceptions are challenged by the reality he finds.   Strong human characters are at the heart of all of Isaacs’ films and “he has quietly built a body of work that puts him amongst the most empathetic documentary observers we have of lives often overlooked” In his films Isaacs creates a succession of deeply moving portraits, piecing together a unique vision of modern Britain.

La ROUX!! Listen up statesiders… change is in the hair.


Elly Jackson of La Roux

Don’t call her “Techno Lady Gaga”  or  “young  Annie Lennox” unless you would like a sneer and a few explatives, but Elly Jackson feels the critics encircling…literally chanting… with ever increasing volume:  “Elly Jackson is The new face of Electronic Music!”   Go see her  in the clubs before Madonna, Jay-Z or some such music mogul accosts her and makes her choose whether or not to sell her soul to the devil.    Jackson, along with bandmate and co-writer, co-producer Ben Langmaid,  meld together wild pulses,  fluttery beats and popping thick synth drums.   Capturing sound like  bolts of sassy lightening stuffed into a tesla coil, Elly croons …’We can fight our desires
Ohhhh but when we start making fires… We get ever so hot… Ohhhhh whether we like it or not….
They say we can love who we trust… Ohhhh but what is love without lust?

The red-haired one”

In late 1995, Happening upon a baby naming book, Elly figured “La Roux” was as good a name as any as it fit the shocking scarlet hue of her hair.  Consequently  the masculine form of “Roux” was prescient as she realized “Rousee” could’ve been seen as conversationally opposite of her persona as it did not fit her obvious androgyny.  Later hybridizing her amazing coiffe  into a Bowie-esque/ Mike Score do, La Roux / Elly Jackson the stage persona was born.     Beginning her musical journey on seventies Nick Drake and Carole King amongst other gritty songsters, early in life Elly developed the  love of a well crafted song.

A shock of Stardust colored hair, on-stage intensity, and andro-lustful poses to match,  Jackson  conjures  the soulful thick electronic sound of Depeche Mode, The poppy playfulness of Yazoo, and the stylistic croon of Allison Moyet.    La Roux has managed a completely new sound from the ashes of the best in eighties electronica.  Ahem….’New Wave’ as some of us remember.

“Quicksand”

With their Freshman effort  released by Parisian label Kitsuné, in 2008, La Roux later tapped  producer “Lifelike” for the remix of  “In For The Kill !” which  debuted at number 11 in the UK Singles Chart.  Finally signed to Polydor Records, La Roux released their debut album, uncerimoniously called “La Roux.”


The same effort yielded “Buletproof” which was released as a single in June of ’09.  It debuted at # 1 in the UK Singles Chart.. In the U.S. it topped the Dance/Club Play chart the week of September 17. I’m Not Your Toy was released to the baded breath of house / techno devotees on September 29th of this year.

Joining Lily Allen’s UK tour in March of ‘o9, La Roux began a long touring commitment that included the NME Radar Tour, The Glastonbury, Oxegen, Reading and Leeds outings.  Finally placating almost rabid dance fans in the U.S., La Roux toured North America in July and August of 2009.   Canadian venues were supported as was The Jimmy Kimmel show in addition to the historic Troubadour in Hollywood / West L.A. Lucky San Franciscans attended “Popscene”  (The Club NME series),  and enjoyed an amazing show even if a playful yet  snarky Jackson taunted “Which one of you is gonna have this up on YouTube tomorrow?

Planning to pen their sophmore effort sometime after  their very busy tour is done, but with no specific date in mind, La Roux isn’t gonna push.  You can’t rush art.  Their  beats are born of collaboration,  they aren’t aimless, or repetitive,  and are not without rhyme or reason.  They’ve got originality, substance and direction.  That’s what makes them so palatable to a very musically-hungry-stateside-beast.

We’re still digesting La Roux, discovering it’s nuances, and incredibly buoyant at this very British “discovery”. In closing, whatever is rolled up into the collective conscience of La Roux does not really matter, for quite simplistically, all any music lover needs to know is that  La Roux bounces like the devil and how lucky we are to be in the room.

We can fight our desires
Ouuhh but when we start making fires
We get ever so hot
Ouuhh whether we like it or not.
They say we can love who we trust
Ouuhh but what is love without lust?
Two hearts with accurate devotions
Ouuhh and what are feelings without emotions?

~Chrissylong

The Willowz ~


The Willowz

When Anaheim was bad she was very very  bad. (Think “The Block at Disney” and The Mighty Ducks)  and… when Anaheim was good she was very very good… think “No Doubt” , good Udon, cheap mexican food (The “B” on the window as you enter means: “BEST.)”   The Cold War Kids, The Mighty Ducks in ’03 and ’07… and THE WILLOZ!!   Anaheim, a sometimes Fickle and brazenly pompous beauty, has redeemed herself by allowing the germination of this  willowy band of musical choristers.

The Willowz were once called “Just out of high school long-hairs” with a  “Billy Corrigan on helium” for a lead singer.  Now everyone’s eating their words.

Punk, soul, blues, an electric hybrid.  Isn’t that what making music is all about?  Bit o’ pixies, bit o’ sonic love, go ahead pull up a chair and listen.  Have a pen and paper nearby, you’ll have to make a list of the influences that you can hear and yet listen hard and close because they are so well blended, twisted, molded, melded and lit up with a blow torch that you’ll have trouble really naming them.  Again.  That’s the way it should be.  At once familiar and yet not, what goes into the willowz is original and made in the perfection of it’s own collective raw personality.  A sonic, yet organic, tree like sound.  Yes the Willowz are like trees.  Branches wild and strong and able to span in any direction.  2007 ‘s release “Chataqua” proved that they band could comb new limbs and encourage growth in new directions.  Witness “Evil Son”  …met a man with an evil stare said I’m the wicked one and quite aware, I lost my nerve, I said don’t despiar…My evil son time to prepare.” The song traverses melodic soulsey balladry and progresses to a Wolfmother  free-for-all in a matter a few stanzas.  Complete with a gong and a slide of the entire neck of a gretsch or the like and some bells, These Willowz aren’t afraid to make a rattle in the garden.  The rattle in this song isn’t entirely the stuff of seasoned auteurs, but the seeds are sewn.

From the bedroom and into the bedlam, Willoz made the trek in 2002 with Richie James Follin and Jessica Reynoza leading and grew their sound.  Perfecting the best and losing the rest, this band is an organic petrie dish project that has been obviously carefully nurtured.

“Willowz” came to Jessica in a dream  when a tree told her that the word “Willow”  would being her musical enlightenment. I’ve had dreams where a word was prominent but they told me things like, “Ride your horse to the front of Vons and then fold it into the baloney package, take the stairs in the pagoda go to the top and  attend school given by headmaster Angela Merkel sporting a small whip made from whale bone.  But I digress.

Good news can travel fast even if all your friends don’t listen to NPR.  Later in blustery ’02 The Willowz  released a 7” on the infamous Posh Boy records with  Robbie Fields producing.  Traipsing back to the arms of that  “mean girl Anaheim”  that somber fair weathered friend who pushed them around at the lockers and ignored them in the hallways, The Willowz then began playing kick-ass shows to ever growing crowds.  Simultaneously moving and in and around Los Angeles, in 2004, Dionysus records soon released their first record “The Willowz.  In a pungent and yet sweet turn of events the OC Weekly named “The Willowz’s” record as one of the top 10 albums of the year!    v

They had snagged Paul Kostabi as their producer and the record was done in a few days.  There’s nothing like raw unknowingness to lend a disjointed and yet energetic spell of desire to the sound of a record.  The Jackson Pollack method of laying music like paint worked well.  Wild abandon tempered with some direction to the splatter of the sound.  Okay some say J.P. planned every stray swath of paint but he applied but  I do not agree.  There’s joy, surprise and improvisation even in the most wild, fractured and wonderful art.

The Willowz

Soon after touring greater North America, and Europe the Willowz music was featured in the cinematic and odd “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.”  Soon nominated for a grammy, Willowz were surprised when the Eternal Sunshine filmmaker Gondry had a dream about the Willowz song “I Wonder” and flew them out to NYC to make a video for them. Soon touring with the likes of the Weirdos, NY Dolls, the Dirtbombs, the Greenhornes, Wolfmother, the Ponys, Tom Vek, Ted Leo, YGM, OK GO, the Gossip, Brian Jonestown Massacre, the Dwarves, Burning Brides, John Cale and many others, The Willowz had come full circle and seemed to be the musical version of someone’s  Tibetan dream set in Yarlung South Central Tibet was coming true. But noone was selected as the Rimpoche just yet.

In February 2005 the Willowz re-released their self titled album on Sympathy For the Record Industry and titled the album “Are Coming” (with a four more songs on it). The follow up “Talk in Circles” was released June 2005 (also recorded in a garage by Paul Kostabi, this time as a four piece and with a little more focus on making an album) on the Long Beach, CA label Sympathy for the Record Industry by way of record mogul Long Gone John. “Talk in Circles” received extraordinary reviews, including “46th Best Album of the Year” by Rolling Stone and was also featured in another one of Gondry’s films, “The Science of Sleep”.

The Willowz were nominated by LA Weekly as one of the tope bands of 2005. More singles followed “Talk in Circles” on such labels as Contaminated, Acid Bird, and Sympathy. The second album was followed by a DVD, “See In Squares”, released on Sympathy. “See In Squares” contained 27 unique videos, all by different directors, and additional live concert footage at a catholic school summer camp in Oklahoma, several of these videos have gone on to win national and international awards.

For the third album “Chautauqua”, to be released on Steve Aoki’s Los Angeles label Dim Mak, the Willowz headed to the eastern countryside and set up a studio, this time in a basement, with Paul Kostabi producing again. They recruited Aric Bohn on guitar and Tony Mann back on the drums. “Chautauqua” provides the energy and rawness of the first albums with a thicker rock sound more focused on songwriting. They came out in ’09  and are in heavy rotation in a round L.A. with Steve Aoki lending support.  Do not miss the chimerous impression that is “The Willowz.”

~  Chrissylong

http://lala.com/zQ2n

Tracks:

Note:  The new music section will be written by Garet Whipple and has yet to be cleverly named!  But keep a watch for Garet’s new column!  Music spans from new pop to dance, trance and rock.  Garet knows the scene and writes with reverie.  Stay tuned.

The coolest band to photograph in the studio….ROUGH CHURCH


Greg Franco’s Rough Church invited me to photograph them in the studio and let me tell you these are some cool people. There was alot of laughter, raunchy jokes, talking about politics, green action, current events, good food seite mares sopa anything and everything.  They recorded at Andrew’s studio “Grandma’s Kitchen” in Silverlake. My D2H was sick and stuck at Nikon who promised it by the 7th and their update on it was nary to be found. (thanks guys)  So instead of having a tantrum, (which would have given me some bad personal mojo)  Calumet saved me by renting me a D90.  Photographing Rough Church was a breeze.  They didn’t mind me being ‘in their face’ so to speak.  Which I had to be, actually.  How else was I going to get the kind of photos that I like?  I like sharp angles, color, movement and design. Okay, so they hung with that.  Most of all I was amazed at the process of recording. It’s such a play between the producer and the band. It’s  a creative negotiation interspersed with humor, joking and serious technical audio and studio knowledge.   There’s this ability to let go get “into” the song, (pushing it out of your instrument and your body in a way that works with the rest of the band) and is also what’s being aimed for with regard to the track. And then then there’s this uncanny the ability to turn on a dime, stop and assess the track, your part and take direction from the producer on how to change or fine tune things based on the band’s goal for the sound of the track and ultimately the record. There would be banter about one part or another and some onomonopeia used to indicate some part of a song that was hard to describe.     How did these guys know what minute part they had to go back to and re-do?  Amazing.  Not to mention their technical craft and expertise.   Greg is an AMAZING lyricist and singer, he’s on angst filled growl  and rhythm guitar. Ever-sunny Jef Hogan pounds out a steady Bassline,  and Jon Franco works the the kit (even with a sheet over it for a dampened and thicker tone).   “Five” “Five Track” or “Fiver” leads melodically or grindingly on guitar, piano and sometime percussion. Studio work is part an acquiescent note by note assessment of the vibe, tone, tempo and energy of a song.   There are also some extemporaneous bursts that definitely provide for new and occasionally unexpected ideation.  Usually ideation is done before the studio time, but sometimes those things just burst from time and space and then everyone has an “Oh shit, keep that!”   moment, and so it goes. I knew ahead of time that each person would be on their own channel being miked, playing their part, playing their heart out, whilst listening to the full mix in their headphones.  What I didn’t realize was how tired doing this for two whole days from 11AM to 9PM at night can make someone!  Especially the drummer!   We took breaks and hung out in the control room or the lounge,  ate Thai food and ventured to “The Tribal Cafe” for smoothies, sandwiches etc.   I also just happened to discover THE ABSOLOUTE BEST PLACE FOR COFFEE IN ALL OF LOS ANGELES…The Tribal Cafe! http://www.tribalcafe.com They grind, brew and concoct Eurasian, Ameriasian, South American, Latasian, and latin coffees.   Some of the coffees are autentico and others the cool ideation of the owner.  Everything is hand made with passion and care, with health and vibrancy in mind.  You can get all manner of health and energy shots in just about anything.  AMAZING. The Minty Brew is KILLER. Do not miss it! I REPEAT, DO NOT MISS IT!!

Gentlemen to the core, within Greg Franco’s Rough Church there are no prima-donnas or  ‘mike hogs.’  These guys are all well tenured artists, some from the Los Angeles area and some hailing form the North and Five from the East Coast, Woodstock to be exact.

I’m always interested in the ‘language of music’ (how it works) and there’s was no shortage of  “studio-speak” for me to learn.  It’s changed alot since I’ve been in a studio years ago. At times it’s like sort of an esoteric audio dialect between these keepers of beats /syncopation and the guy assessing the beats and making suggestions.  You need these guys in an arena where you’re tryin’ to get some technical shit done!  Obviously the culture of anything this demands that those that ‘live in it’ speak the language!  Anyway… Andrew the owner of  ‘Grandma’s Kitchen’ has all the best equipment, a great console and basically an AMAZING STUIDO with all the best acoustic accouterments to be found. For the last recording, Rough Church asked me join in with a host of singers for a sort of ‘end of the album’ mock bar anthem called, “Rub one out for me” (Not unlike The Beatles’ “why don’t we do it in the road”) and  I sheepishly agreed.   I  sang my little pink heart out with people that were actually trained.   My only hope was to meld into the wall of voices, (not unlike Ike and Tina Turner’s ‘wall of sound’ production for ‘I forget what song it was…)   and stay somewhat unrecognizable.  I’m not sure if they had to surgically remove my baleful voice or not , but here’s to hoping that it was pleasant and actually helped the recording.  Enjoy this  visual smattering of pics from the recording.  Be sure to buy the new Rough Church CD when it comes out.  Some of these pics will be on the as of  yet to unnamed CD.  If you Bookmark this site, “The Trouble With Milk” I’ll take care of ‘ya….and make sure you know when it’s released.

For an overview of R.C.’s sound see my post:  Sounds West:  The Best Music in Los Angeles. Scroll down to the paragraph on Greg Franco’s Rough Church.  It also talks about Greg’s solo project, The highly revered in Australia and New Zealand “Greg Franco’s Wandering Bear.”  ~ Cheers!  Christina Long

for more info on my photography, you can find a bit on this blog and you can also go to:

http://www.wix.com/chrissylong/Christina%20Long%20Photography%20final

049_49

Deadmau5


Deadmau5:   Techno?  Tribal?  Electro?  House?  Trance?  Short answer?  E.D.M!!!

Explained by none other than DJ Joel Zimmerman

Deadmau5 in Berlin

Deadmau5 rocks Berlin

DoNt  B  LeFt  oUt  – kNoW  yEr  sHiT.

Deadmau5 (pronounced “Deadmouse”) is not to be confused with Modest Mouse the band or Modestmouse the DJ.  is a progressive house andelectro house producer from Toronto, Canada. His extensive discography includes tracks such as “Arguru” and “Not Exactly”, which have been included in compilation albums such as In Search of Sunrise 6: Ibiza, MixMag’s Tech-Trance-Electro-Madness (mixed by Deadmau5 himself), and on Armin van Buuren‘s A State of Trance radio show. His debut album, Random Album Title, was released in 2008, with its follow-up compilation album of old and new songs, For Lack of a Better Name, in 2009.

As well as his own extensive solo back catalogue, Deadmau5 is recognised for his work alongside numerous other DJs and producers, such as: Kaskade, MC Flipside, Rob Swire of Pendulum, andSteve Duda under the BSOD alias.  This music (along with Killthenoiz IMHO),  is so cool that  I can smell Madonna’s blood hounds just around the corner.  Hurry Move the cheese!  Before Madge finds someone ELSE to rip off in order to re-invent herself again!  either that or…. Jay-Z ‘comes-a-callin.’

Picture 45


Newsworthy Smart stuff


Picture 12Hey there smart stuff! If you’re reading my blog, you are def a more enlightened, creative  type of individual so you probably are already pretty on top of this stuff, so ignore the following scriven “beating” that’s about to occur.   If you know a mall-rat or at least an”office tapir” that skulks ’round the coffee machine’ every AM waving around their Nordstrom card and talking about gettin’ some “deals” on their lunchbreak, then Implore these capricious consumers to  resist non-fair trade products and instead set an eco-conscious example by buying online at http://www.globalexchange.com” Purchasing with creativity and conscience is a win-win for all.   Tell those demented denizens of Dillons, those natiform naves of  Nordstrom that with merely a few drags of their index finger and a few clicks with the thumb (oh! that’s MAC, and it’s easier, sorry… I should not assume…) they can go to http://www.globalexchange.org and help folks!   Some of these people have quit their ‘maquiladora-type’  jobs (the ones that actually had the freedom to do it anyway), and joined a coop where they share the profits from the products they make.  These products are made from recycled materials procured in and around their communities. Coops help people to build a  better lifestyle and they afford their members an alternative to working in “sweat production houses.”  They gain a semblance of self esteem and some form of monetary sustenance.   If we’re gonna “consume” then maybe it’s a good idea to think about how we do it. Oh…yah..for all you soccer moms that will buy anything based on looks and whim, (“well, I know it was expensive but I just walked by and saw it and I just HAD to have it…) you won’t be sorry.  These items are beautiful, made with love, happiness and genuine craft. Who wouldn’t be proud to own something made with passion and independence?   There aint nothin’ better than being a part of thriving as opposed to suffering.

The bowl pictured above is called “Spread The News” and was crafted from magazines by the Mai Vietnamese Handicrafts coop. This organization was created in 2006 by four college graduates.  Who saw the need to fairly employ a growing group of marginalized women. They now have 20 artisans in rural Tuy Hoa province!  The coop provides health insurance, scholarship funds and a living wage for it’s artisans!  Now that’s newsworthy! ~Chrissylong