A Modest Proposal

As I was preparing Friday Night dinner I had sudden flash of it looking like a new born child. Sick, I know but it reminded me of the Jonathan Swift essay 'A Modest Proposal'.

A political satire written to address the Irish child over population issues using current events it is a sickeningly great read. Swift makes reference to George Psalmanazar who was a con-man in the early 1700's. Psalmanazar fabricated that he was from Formosa (present day Taiwan) and wrote books to perpetuate his claims, which included descriptions of a culture that supported cannibalism. Swift also mocks the Catholic church which at the time had just signed the Act of Settlement in 1701, thus settling the succession to the English throne of the Sophia of Hanover, the elected choice. This resulted in criticism towards what Swift refers to as the Papists (anti-Catholic). By mocking the oppressors who would dehumanize the poor beggars that are threatening to overtake the country Swift follows the rules and structure of Latin Satire.

Latin Satire, according to the Latin Satirical Writing Subsequent to Juvenal By Arthur Harold Weston: "may deal with topics and problems and thoughts of every day life as in Horace and Persius and as a rule wherever it mentions names mention them more as representatives of types embodiments of the qualities under discussion than with any special feeling of personal bitterness in mind"

Anyway it was a good re-read:

The picture I took above also reminded me of the painting by Derrick Guild:


This is an oil on canvas.

Phantom Galleries LA

There is a recession, we are in tough times, the economy is taking a dip, never since the depression..., I get it.
Many years before this particular economic meltdown (my favorite one out of all of them) there was an idea to make inspiration out emptiness. Based on the ideas of Brian Eder and Cherri Lakey who worked together as graphic designers at Two Fish Design, Phantom Galleries was born. The idea is to take empty store front space and showcase art. This is first and foremost an economic development program. The goal is to reward property owners by highlighting their property, making it visible both literally and figuratively. Buildings feature store fronts as 24/7 exhibits or public access gallery spaces with operation hours. In both scenarios the real estate owner lends their space and covers electric while artist agree to insure their work and pay for all prep and instillation costs. This program has been implemented in many cities including Detroit, Baltimore, San Jose, Boston and Philadelphia.
Run by Liza Simone, Phantom Galleries LA is a for profit organization that creates opportunities for artists while maintaining the benefits of the property owner as a top priority. Often gallery spaces, which are sometimes given 3-14 day evacuation contracts, are left in better condition than before donating the space. Each space is unique and decisions regarding everything from owner stipulations to artist boundaries are taken into account when matching an artist to a space.

Cities like Detroit are based on a foundation of near flawless aesthetic. The architecture is that of master craftsmen and the whispers of its former glory visible in every stone. The present reality is that is resembles a third world war torn city. In downtown L.A. soon after the dotcom crash many store went out of business, creating a haven for squatters, vandals and a further perpetuation of despair. Programs like Phantom Galleries serve as an alternative to the hopelessness.
Any and ever city suffering from the emptiness of it’s businesses can commiserate that to “fill up the empty storefronts with funky paintings, murals, installations, displays or whatever local visual artists can come up with" better serves the community and gives tourists and residence "something to look at besides decrepit, crumbling store fronts or a botched movie theater complex.” (www.phantomgalleriesla.com)

Statement off the Phantom Galleries website:

Benefits of participation
-An inspirational marketing tool for properties to find permanent tenants.
-Helps to create a buzz about the area that the public and media will embrace and support.
-Keeps areas looking vital, vibrant and culturally exciting.
-Invites more pedestrian traffic for the neighboring business.
-Helps to enliven a blighted area and helps to reduce graffiti.
-Inspires other local retailers to spruce up their own windows.
-Generates economic development through direct sales and commission work for the artists.
-Engages community involvement within the districts.

I personally think this is a fantastic business that serves both the property owner and the artist. Really what city would not benefit from a program like this at a time like this?


Artist: Chitra Ganesh

Secrets (2007)

So I was introduced to this most delicious artist my friend N. gave me her website http://www.chitraganesh.com/

A New York native and resident Chitra Ganesh finished her B.A. at Brown in 1996 and then completed her MFA at Columbia. A many faceted artist Ms. Ganesh examines South Asian culture as a first generation American using a variety of material in her multi-medium art work. Her website gives detailed examples of her installations, digital collages, photography, works on paper and painting.

In her artists statement Ms. Ganesh describes her digital collages as “inspired by images from Indian comic books known as Amar Chitra Kathas” which are educationally based, comic book format stories from Indian epics, mythology, history, folklore, and fables. By North American standards Amar Chitra Kathas fall short of their goal to relay a historical narrative while providing a moral bases for “models of citizenship, nationalism, religious expression, public behavior, and sexuality”. Ms Ganesh shakes things up drastically “by integrating fragments of the original comics with pen and ink drawings and rewriting the text.” Her words simultaneously compliment and contrast the images, drawing attention to the multitude of South Asian cultural stories from the past and present. The image of the female, juxtaposed as the 'dynamic sexual character' yet dismembered and bloody, further ministers to the unanswered questions of the viewer.
Tantamount to the reoccurring themes in her digital collages are those found in Ms. Ganesh’s paintings. As poignantly as in her other works, the role of the female is glamorized in the spirit of Bollywood fame and then dredged with dejection. Again we see the theme of fragmented parts, in Salome (2000, acrylic on fabric) myth is encapsulated with colonialist era subservience, sexuality and the ultimate virtuousness of the side of head. In Zeenat On The Board (2007, acrylic and ink on carrom board) a regal image of a woman is shown in contemporary beachwear holding a dual structured skull. Carrom is a popular game said to have originated in India. The object of the game is to flick, with a finger, a disk know as a ‘striker’ and to strike another lighter disk, propelling it into one of four corners. In carrom as in Ms. Ganesh’s painting the red or pink ‘Queen’ is the most powerful carrom piece and is placed in the center of the circle. To win the game one must pocket their opponents Queen thus metaphorically owning her.

The installations that are shown in New York, Houston, Saskatchewan and Vitoria-Gasteizare are testaments to Ms. Ganesh’s ability to create texture, sculpture, space, value, movement, emphasis and balance within the constraints of white walls and nature alike. Having obtained a MFA in writing Ms. Ganesh often uses words as part of her installations, as in her digital collages. In Hair Poem (2007, mixed media including hair, wire, oil and glass) the ancient act of shaving one’s head as an offering to Hindu gods is analogous with the contemporary phenomenon of Indian woman’s hair being sold to supply the North American trend of purchasing hair extensions. In Altered (2001, mixed media installation) everyday office objects are placed in a circular, rhythmic pattern placing emphasis on the two pictures mounted on the wall and the religious figurines at its core.
Ms Ganesh certainly succeeds in creating stratified works each its own unique sordid tale. In consideration of her art one is taken through a process of shedding layers of one’s own life experiences, applying them (or not) in whatever relevance, to women in South Asian culture.
Ramp Drawing
(2005)mixed media installation created for Fatal Love, Queens Museum of Art, NY




I love fun fabric. Here are two patterns around my home. They both make me happy.


Tom Stoppard- R and G are Dead

“This is a most remarkable play. Very Funny. Very brilliant. Very chilling”
-New York Times

When I first saw Empire of the Sun in theaters as a child, I had no idea that Tom Stoppard was the screenwriter for the script. Nor should this be of such riveting news considering the screenplay was an adaptation of a novel written by JG Ballard and not an original story of Mr. Stoppard’s. Some critics would argue that neither is Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead as the play is set within another, perhaps more famously know play, Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Neither of these facts has ever undermined the genius that is palpable in the creative undertakings of Mr. Stoppard.

Mr. Stoppard was born Tomáš Straussler a Czechoslovakian-Jew in 1937. Two years later when the Nazi’s invaded Czechoslovakia his family fled to Singapore. In 1941 his family again fled, this time the Japanese invasion of Singapore. His father, however, stayed to fight with the resistance and was captured by the Japanese eventually dying in a POW camp. In 1945 his mother remarried and Mr. Stoppard took the surname of his stepfather. Starting his writing career in journalism at the tender age of seventeen, Mr. Stoppard also wrote under the nom de plum William Booth.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (R&G) which was written in 1966 and first came onto the London stage in 1967 is the play that launched Mr. Stoppard’s playwright career into the forefront. Influenced heavily by the Polish and Czech absurdist writers of the 1930 and their resurrected popularity after Stalin’s death in 1953, Stoppard’s R&G examines the absurdity of life, probability and irrationality based on the philosophical theories of Søren Kierkegaard. The title characters are simultaneously simple minded and unwittingly philosophical. They circle their words, confusing language and creating a tangle that can only be untagled with the admission that everything they say is both foolish and genius. Common to ‘Theater of the Absurd’ Stoppard’s characters reflect on the reality between life and art blurring the line between the characters and audience. Another characteristic of ‘Theater of the Absurd’ is the seeming insignificance of it’s players who often question if they possess free will or are simply puppets at the mercy of a mad pupeteer.
I have read this play many times, not only because it is a quick and entertaining read, but because it has yet to cease suprising me.



Slumdog Millionaire

I love it when a low budget film gets national acclaim and nominations. It is fun following the darlings of various film festivals. I am happy to go see a film in local theaters and support fresh talent. Slumdog Millionaire, with a budget of 15 million and having grossed more than 130 million is well worth my general admission.
I love thinking about how exciting it must be for the actors to be so quickly shot into the spotlight. There is much publicized criticism over the unchanged living conditions that the child actors in the film endure. The rebuttal finds that trust funds have in fact been set up for the children in the film (or at least the two lead roles). There was also debate over the role and title of the films co-director, after the nomination announcement (see link below). I would imagine the success of this film has been a great blessing to all those involved in it. I look forward to following future projects by the actors and directors alike.
This professor’s blog reads like a awesome class with a favorite teacher.
I highly recommend reading it all.

This ABC News site has a great article that summarizes the media spotlights on the film.

Freida Pinto with Dev Patel at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival



It is the year of the:

Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen was born in 1934 in Montreal, Canada. Born into a middle class Jewish family, in the middle class Jewish neighborhood of Westmount, Mr. Cohen identifies strongly with his Jewish roots.

He received his B.A. in 1955 from McGill University and studied with Irving Layton. After finishing his undergrad Mr. Cohen spent one term at McGill’s law school before attending Columbia from 1956-1957 and publishing his first book of poetry: Let Us Compare Mythologies. This first collection of poems explored his Jewish heritage with classical and Christian mythologies juxtaposing religion with sensuality.

In 1961 Mr. Cohen moved to London, England where he wrote his first novel, a semibiographical novel based on the life of a Montreal Jewish boy’s journey to discovery though writing titled: The Favourite Game (1963). In 1966 he published his second novel Beautiful Losers and achieved international acclaim as a song-writer, singer.

Mr. Cohen has eleven studio albums his last one "Dear Heather" came out in 2004.
On March 31st 2009 Mr. Cohen is releasing “Live In London” recorded live on July 17, 2008 at London’s 02 Arena, an indoor venue- during his 2008 World Tour and includes songs from his 40 year repertory.

The album Live In London includes:

Disc 1 -

1. Dance Me To The End Of Love

2. The Future

3. Ain't No Cure For Love

4. Bird On The Wire

5. Everybody Knows

6. In My Secret Life

7. Who By Fire

8. Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye

9. Anthem

10. Introduction

11. Tower Of Song

12. Suzanne

13. The Gypsy's Wife

Disc 2 -

1. Boogie Street

2. Hallelujah

3. Democracy

4. I'm Your Man

5. Recitation w/ N.L.

6. Take This Waltz

7. So Long, Marianne

8. First We Take Manhattan

9. Sisters Of Mercy

Click here for a review by Jim Allen on Leonard Cohen’s performance Thursday February 19th 2009 in NYC:


A recent article in the L.A. Times was brought to my attention by my friend C:
Phantom Galleries is a for profit organizations that takes empty retail space and ‘borrows’ it to showcase art work. In lieu of having the space stand empty while awaiting new tenancy, the space is providing a platform to showcase artist and their work. This a a great program which helps preserve culture. According to the Phantom Galleries website: “We are guests in someone else's home and we respect and appreciate the opportunity that we have been given and work within the limitations of that invitation.” The limitations of that invitation are what have gotten many in the arts community upset. The arts community is demanding a stop in censorship and the organizers defend themselves by stating we are a “privately owned business whose goal is to sustain itself”.

For profit galleries are middlemen. It is a business and if it is a good business then it makes a profit. Featuring works they think will be most likely to sell and taking the steps required to sell them, is what a gallery does. Is a grocery store morally obligated to stuff their shelves with healthy food or the food that sells the most? A food manufacture does not even have the moral obligation to choose the best quality ingredients for the products we as consumers ingest.
At what point is Liza Simone, executive producer of Phantom Galleries in L.A. obligated to show art work she deems as less likely to sell? If Simone is following well played out guidelines and the works by artist Christiana are in fact simply less likely to sell because they offend potential buyers or their quality is lacking then is it not her prerogative to make that decision? If on the other hand the guidelines are those established by the City of Long Beach then this is a load of shit.
An elected government has the moral obligation to encourage the people of that city to be exposed, educated and heard when it comes to Arts and Culture. A city does not have the right to censor art work. Phantom Galleries L.A. states that “we do not censor or suppress any artists work but we do edit what can and can not be placed into each property based on the community that the property is located in.”

From this we can assume then that it was not Simone that was the driving force behind the decision but rather a decision was made to remove art that explicitly showed a woman’s nipple based on city guidelines. Apparently nipples qualify under the definition of “work that will offend or intentionally provoke or incite numerous complaints.” In further defense of their decision to not include all of Christiana’s pieces Phantom Galleries states “we are only able to offer Artist's opportunities if we have participating locations for their exhibits to be in.” And “[c]learly we would no longer be desirable guests if we [displayed work that is considered offensive] and would be asked to leave.”

Here is the link for more of Christiana's painting at the Faraci Art +Design (FA+D)- http://www.faraciart.com/

Personally I feel that the quality of the works removed by the Phantom Gallery L.A. from the 4 Chambers exhibit are of equal caliber. Christiana’s paintings are openly sexual. They are a reflection of human bodies, both male and female. On the F+D site Christiana’s work is described as using “the female as an iconic figure of strength to seduce the audience and explore social issues to incite discussion and positive change.” It seems that Phantom Galleries L.A. would have been aware of this prior to accepting Christiana’s work into the exhibit. In the L.A. Times article by Louis Sahagun, Simone is quoted as saying that Christiana is simply “trying to create a fuss for publicity”. What an unsophisticated remark to be made in light of the transparent mutual advantage any controvery of this nature has. Christiana’s emotions are sincere and it is sad that a community that is regenerated through mutual support has been unable to resolve this issue. Phantom Galleries’ overseers failed to pacify the artist by not providing sufficient briefing so as to avoid snubbing one of their own. To have originally suggested that Christiana’ art was of a lesser distinction further demonstrate the unseasoned management of this incident.



Yes. As in that band- Red Hot Chili Peppers.

I have been a huge fan since I was in 6th grade. Had a poster of Anthony Kiedis above my bed throughout adolescence and to this day think he is one of the sexiest men alive.

In nineth grade I wrote an English paper about the RHCP's lyrics for a poetry assignment. My English teacher Mrs. F gave me a good grade but wrote in the comments that she didn't know if she agreed with me (I had handed in a cassette tape (!) with the three song/poems I analyzed). In my mind I had failed- as an unconvincing writer.

Do you think this is poetry:
Under The Bridge

Sometimes I feel

Like I don't have a partner

Sometimes I feel

Like my only friend

Is the city I live in

The city of angels

Lonely as I am

Together we cry

I drive on her streets

'Cause she's my companion

I walk through her hills

'Cause she knows who I am

She sees my good deeds

And she kisses me windy

I never worry

Now that is a lie

I don't ever want to feel

Like I did that day

Take me to the place I love

Take me all the way

It's hard to believe

That there's nobody out there

It's hard to believe

That I'm all alone

At least I have her love

The city she loves me

Lonely as I am

Together we cry

I don't ever want to feel

Like I did that day

Take me to the place I love

Take me all that way

Under the bridge downtown

Is where I drew some blood

Under the bridge downtown

I could not get enough

Under the bridge downtown

Forgot about my love

Under the bridge downtown

I gave my life away

About five years ago I was on a flight from Toronto to Miami- Anthony Kiedis was on my flight-I was travelling with Sir S. When we were waiting at luggage claim I positioned myself beside him, arms length. His girlfriend and I exchanged pleasantries briefly over Sir S.'s gorgeousness. There is no doubt that AK looked at me and acknowledged my existence.


Chinese New Year

God of Wealth and Fortune
The botanical garden at the Bellagio is always awe inspiring. Presently they have a Chinese New Year display for the year of the Ox showing. Upon entering the atrium visitors are greeted by a huge figure of the God of Wealth and Luck. At his feet gold I-Ching coins surround him as a symbol of luck and prosperity for the New Year.

Taking many elements of Feng Shui to attract harmony, balance and positive life energy this exhibit, one of five yearly themes, is made almost entirely of living plants. Three panda bears made out of living plants surround the bamboo garden as does the 15 foot long ox made out of over 10,000 Alternanthera.

Other elements of Feng Shui design are the instillation of a zig zag bridge and hundreds of hanging red lanterns.

This exhibit goes until Feb 28th 2009


Squid (a chambered nautilus class of cephalopods) has been consumed by humans for centuries and is now most widely consumed in Japan. Squid is a fantastic form of protein and compared to other forms of marine life has a high ratio of edible parts to the whole body. The proteins found in squid are similar to those found in fish meat and have similar nutritional value- squid also contains all eight essential amino acids. Although the amount of cholesterol is high the quantity of fat is low making them a great source of lean protein.

I enjoy using squid in my cooking and either toss it into a stir fry with Asian seasoning or grill it and use it in a salad.

Here is the squid post wash, cut and trim. I just rinsed these together in a bowl in cold water. It is important to clean the inside too and they make a little poping sound when you open them underwater. I then stick a knife into the squid and slice it on the most transparent part. With the squiggly's I just make sure there are not bits that are hard or pathetic looking.

Just before placing them on my hot panini grill I tossed some oyster sauce, soy sauce, sea salt and sesame oil onto them and grilled them in small batches. They cook very quickly and don't seem to need to marinate for long.

Squid are known to be a very intelligent animal. They have well developed senses and large brains. They are the most intelligent of all invertebrates. There exist about 375 different species in the world and they are usually caught during their breeding season when millions gather together to spawn. Squid have large heads (to accommodate their large brains) and eight arms with suckers, two longer feeding tentacles, a beak, two large eyes and two hearts. Their eyes are very similar in structure to human eyes. They use gills to breath. Squid propel themselves in water by siphoning water through their mantel (head). As with some species of octopus when suspected danger approaches squid squirt a cloud of dark ink to cause confusion in their enemies and allow time to escape. Squid reproduce by releasing eggs into the water which either free float or attach onto seaweed or the ocean floor. Squid are carnivores and catch their prey with their two feeding tubes then use their parrot like beak to bite their food into small pieces.

Film: Noodle

Jewish Film Festival 2009

“The art of film reflects our dreams and reality, and elevates the spirit of our shared humanity.” Victor Chaltiel

The eighth annual Las Vegas Jewish Film Festival screened thirteen films at three locations from January 17th 2009 through to the 31st (as last minute provisions were made to accommodate the Super Bowl!). Unique to this years event is the representation from many congregations and all denominations. Based on the opening remarks by moderator Ellis Landau, promoters were able to screen several films and choose the one that they wanted to sponsor.

Because I am presently reading a WWII holocaust novel (and coincidently the one I finished last week was too!) I didn’t have any desire to see a war film. I invited my friend J to come with me and the date that suited us both fell on the night of the screening of Noodle, presented by the Anti-Defamation League.
It is written and directed by Ayelet Menahemi and written by Shemi Zarhin.

The blurb on the pamphlet describes the film in these words:

“Miri’s life has been crumbling around her for years. She wants nothing more than to be left alone, but things change when her Chinese housekeeper asks Miri to watch her son for an hour and never comes back. Miri tries to reunite the boy she dubs ‘Noodle’ with his mother and, in the process, learns about the importance of family and emotional healing.”

This film takes place in modern Israel. The English subtitled film was partly in colloquial Hebrew and in Mandarin, using many slang words making it difficult for non-native speakers to follow audibly.

The actors are all excellent and do a fantastic job of representing human relationships. This film explores the soft moments and the painful moments between husband and wife; mother and daughter; mother and son; sisters; and secret paramour. The most poignant relationship is that between Miri a thirty-seven year old, twice widowed, childless woman and a little Chinese boy. The sadness of both these characters is palpable. BaoQi Chen does an excellent job in this film and dominates virtually all of his scenes.

The feedback post screening seems to indicate that this American Jewish audience enjoyed the stories and acting in the film. We discussed the issue of illegal immigration in Israel which is a fairly new problem for this fairly new nation. Because Israel has had to adapt to the constant threat of terrorism, cheap labor is being imported from mostly Asian countries. In veracious Israeli spirit The Jerusalem Post’s Hannah Brown, gives Noodle a ‘smack down shut out’.
Her article: Limp ‘Noodle’ Has Little Flavor, gives away so much of the film that Menahemi and Zarhin should credit her for the CliffsNotes version.

For Hannah Brown’s article go to:
For the TJP:

An excellent article by Alon Hadar titled Finding The ‘Noodle’ Boy describes how they cast the role of ‘Noodle’ and describes an obviously talented child actor BaoQi Chen.
And for Alon Hadar’s article go to:
For Haaretz Daily Newspaper:

To Read another blog review:
For the Israeli “Noodle” Movie : A journey to take a Chinese kid to Beijing

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