where all are welcome but few will stay

5.24.2007

I'm so not Buddhist.

Mo. Toddler Ruins Monks' Sand Design

This story reminds me of my only visit to the Louvre in the summer of 2000. A mother and daughter with distinct southern accents were touring a hall filled with marble statues. They would walk up to one marvel over its age and how lovely it was... and proceed to stroke it.

YouTube - MISHEARD LYRICS - Pearl Jam - Yellow Ledbetter

YouTube - MISHEARD LYRICS - Pearl Jam - Yellow Ledbetter

As I nurse my mosquito wounds and overdose on antihistamines (they may have won the battle but not the war!), I wonder with YouTube around am I really gonna miss t.v. that much this summer?

We'll see...

5.22.2007

Jiminey Cricket, Oprah!

Staying home all day is a fantasy for most people. They think about their college days when they set their own schedules and lived life according to their own clock...ah, good times. The last couple of years I've done just that. Having decided to walk a way from a great corporate opportunity I used the time off to finish a Master's program and go to my dream destination--Italy. My trip was over a year ago now and my degree came in the mail the other night. Graduate school is truly over. I literally have the degree to prove it (insert desperate waving of paper here). Nowadays, I spend my hours hoping a dream job will come my way soon.

I have to admit being home isn't all that bad. I get to workout when I want for as long as I want. I go to the store and to get gas at off hours to avoid long lines. I tend to wake up when I please. I try not to look at t.v. while at home, though I do allow myself to engage in two day time shows regularly. One is Tyra Banks and the other is Oprah (no last name needed she's like Jesus and Madonna all rolled in one!). I've always had a love/hate relationship with Oprah. When I was working she drove me insane but now that I'm home she's kind of growing on me.

The two biggest things that drive me crazy about Oprah still drive me crazy. One is her book club. Now, I've heard all the arguments for the book club and have even debated the issue with two College English Professors. The core pro-book club stance usually comes down to, "at least she's getting people to read." An argument I'm sick of because, seriously, if someone wasn't much of a reader before they became an O-minion (copyright pending) they certainly aren't going to be one now. Every time she announces a new book the sales of that book skyrocket and instantly best seller lists are thrown off by the O-minions who go out and immediately do her bidding. She's even alluded to her own print power on more than one occasion and frankly this self-appointed gauge for what should and shouldn't be read by millions offends me! Let's suppose... Oprah had a falling out with Maya Angelou and went on the air to say, "Audience, Ms. Angelou has lost her way. She is no longer the voice for millions of women's experiences." Would Maya Angelou suffer? Its Maya Angelou I'm talking about here people most likely not. She would still be a literary treasure with or without the O-minions, but she would suffer a popular set back and her mainstream audience might be lost in the event of such a condemnation. And do I dare say, she may even fall out of public favor so much that she becomes this century's Zora Neale Hurston.

I just have a problem with one person having so much power over something so close to my heart. Okay that was a cheap sentimental argument. Especially since I know the number of publishers in this country is way below the number of fingers I have and almost all major industry in this country is a monopoly and synergy is just making things worse. Still though... the kind of power she has scares me. It would scare me no matter who was wielding it even myself.

Sometimes Interwebers, I have a day dream that Oprah and I are in Napa drinking a bottle of wine I couldn't buy with the blood of my first born (she's paying of course), and debating whether or not she should disband the book club. We sit, in a shaded area just outside The French Laundry (she's paying of course) and share a meal as the sunsets over the green rolling hills. Oprah has requested seating outside, and even though they don't have it, its done. She's also requested that dinner be served at 5:00 pm because we're being healthy and neither of us eats after seven. We laugh, we cry, and in the end... well, we order another bottle of wine. In case you didn't know, Oprah enjoys a drink or two! I didn't know this until our recent afternoon meetings began. And that is why she's growing on me because truth be known, Interwebers, I enjoy a drink or two. We also both love Neil Diamond and hate scary movies. We could hang me and Oprah as long as the topic of politics is avoided.

Politics, the second reason why Oprah still drives me crazy. I will never ever ever forgive her (a third bottle of wine; well, if you insist...) for having Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver on her show during the California recall election (Maria, Maria, Maria!). That show reached millions of viewers across the nation. It gave him the upper hand in an election that was a fight for the future of my beloved state (born and raised, holla!). In case you didn't know a lot of Schwarzenegger's election campaign money came from out of state, interesting, no? What did she think she was doing? I know she and Maria were college roomies (she mentions it at least twice during dinner). Still isn't there a law that networks aren't allowed to give one candidate more air time than another? I mean aren't they suppose to give both sides an equal amount of time to air their respective messages? I must of missed Gray Davis's appearance on her show. Either that or you know once again she's used her massive power base to land a friend a job, and you know what, this one wasn't at a magazine that starts with the letter O.

It wasn't just the election. I wasn't a big fan of Gray Davis's either, but at least you could assume he read the job description before he took the job. Its politics in general that seem to ruin dinner for Oprah and me. For instance, once she said that she was going to make it one of her personal missions to have child molestation charges be a one strike deal. You're convicted once and you're sent to prison for life. Before I go any further, you should know, I'm in no way condoning this disgusting behavior. I find it deplorable and I agree child molestation laws need to be revamped, but the problem is way bigger than that. The three strikes law in this state has overburdened our penal system. Just this week it was announced, for the first time ever, California will spend more on incarceration than on education. How disgusting is that? What does that say about how much we, as a state, value our children? The answer to these problems doesn't just lay in prison terms. Where do they lay? I dunno. I have ideas, but really I bet the answer lies in more than one person's opinion.

At least Oprah has an opinion and she fights for it, I'll give her that. I may not always agree with her but I always admire her reporting. She continues to bring forth important issues most of us let pass us by every day and she still cares enough to shed light on obesity, medical issues, domestic abuse and a myriad of other things we as a collective would rather just ignore. Oprah's been our Jiminey Cricket for a while now and she's done a pretty good job. So maybe I shouldn't begrudge her opinion and book club? Naw, not unless she let's me pick the next bottle of wine.

5.20.2007

Turn, turn, turn

"The rise of '60s counterculture has had a significant impact on our culture today. The Summer of Love resonates in strip mall yoga classes, pop music, visual art, fashion, attitudes toward drugs, the personal computer revolution, and the current mad dash toward the greening of America.

While some of the counterculture's dreams came true, others evaporated like the sweet-smelling pot smoke that saturated the air that summer."

Joel Selvin, San Francisco Chronicle

This morning, the night after I said good bye to very good friends of mine who have had enough of the cost of living in the Bay Area or should I say the Bay Area has had enough of them? This year as San Francisco celebrates the fortieth anniversary of the summer of love I curse the rise of the dot.com industry. I lament the loss of San Francisco's Summer of Love ideals. And I watch, as we one by one leave the Bay Area because we can no longer afford it. Most of us are interested in the arts. Either artists, musicians, or writers by profession we also surround ourselves with ourselves and live as shadow artists encouraging one another not to lose hope.

As e-commerce and web industries make their return so slowly does the money back into Bay Area cities. Not that it ever really left. It was more apparent in the 90's when many en mass were priced out of the Bay Area, but slowly and surely even the middle class can no longer afford it here.

I met my friends over ten years ago. We all worked together at our low paying University jobs. We didn't get paid much but had unlimited access to priceless print collections and we were nerds enough to think that enough. About six months after working together two of our ranks left. One back home to Kansas and the other to live in Italy. My friends began dating shortly after that and moved in together within a couple years. Their apartment became the epicenter to our group as we all moved on to other positions. We would gather for bountiful bbqs or be summoned to an art shows at their gallery. Trouble first appeared as the answer to the housing shortage was found in urban living condos and cheap but plentiful complexes went up quickly. Those projects started to push out the last of the artist communities in our cities. The land where most of the galleries and live work spaces were situated became prime development areas.

As the cost of living was still steadily rising so were these buildings and the landscape became unrecognizable. We were unable to identify with what it was we were fighting so vigorously to stay apart of. One of my friends actually took her P.H.d's off of her resume so that she was more marketable -- less intimidating, and took administrative positions. My friend's are leaving for good reason. One was offered an artist residence in Montana, and the other doesn't want California living to eat up the last of their savings. In Montana, they say, we can eventually afford a home. As they leave we joke that maybe if "the big one" hits they'll come back.

What will become of San Francisco after we are all gone? After it finally has its way and costs us all out of here? In my travels when people would ask me where I was from I was proud to say San Francisco. Often even though I was American, people treated me better knowing this. They would complement my city and forgive me my country's arrogance. If the City does away with its artists by making it impossible for us to live here will it continue to enjoy its reputation as a cultural well-rounded metropolitan?

Maybe Joel Selvin hasn't taken this phenomena into account for the spreading of Summer of Love ideals. Maybe its just the dreamers who no longer could afford to live here going forth and populating the country. What happened to those the San Francisco Mime troupe fed in the 60's? What is going to happen to us?