Friday, December 31, 2010

Top Ten

Almost the end of the year and I've been sleeping through the top ten list tidal wave. Where have I been? I still have time to throw something together though, so I'm taking Time Magazine's model as my template to present 10 Rat's Nest's special awards:

Person of the Year Award
Time Magazine

Well sure, Mark Zuckerberg created facebook, that social network thingy, but more significantly, look at those green eyes—how many people can do that? Therefore, an award goes to the person with the same extraordinary gaze, a gaze with penetrating color and allure, which is Molly, one of my Saturday morning walking partners and a member of the prog rock band Phideaux. Thank you Molly!

#1 Person with the Bluest Eyes of the Year Award

Okay, one down and 9 to go...

As keeper of the Rat's Nest, I'm proud to present Malka, our hard working, hard playing and hard eating, pet rat with:

#2 Rat of the Year Award
(snapped by a paparazzie)

Maybe we should just do five, five is commendable, don't you think? 

Recalling READ Books—my favorite book store in Eagle Rock—and it's wonderful Comedy Night of yore, here is:

#3 Comedian of the Year, with her dog, Award
Maria Bamford at READ Books
(just look at that mug)

Continuing, on a more somber note...

A poem, written by my former student, Jae, gets the:
 #4 Poem of the Year Award

Do sadness, do pain,  If you want your own life,  
Do suffering, Do endurance, If you want to live in heaven, 
Suffering is happiness in true life

By the time I got around to asking Jae what this poem meant, he had disappeared. But perhaps he was trying to say that to achieve happiness, one must make friends with suffering, as it is true life, not the one imagined. That, more than anything else, is what binds immigrants in this city, well, actually, anywhere, together. Without doing in-depth research, I can safely say that immigrants, those poor and dispossessed, suffer more than native speakers, language being a Herculean task to surmount. 

Sonny (Korean), Manny (Thai) and Mina (Persian Jew)

Okay, I think I can do a few more....

 #5 Quintessential California Photo of the Year Award
(photo credit: Tom Harjo, who wasn't even trying)

# 6 Best Smile from a Piece of Bread We've Ever Eaten Award
(I swear we found this as is, a fluke of nature)

#7 The Kids are Homekkah Award, to the kids who came home, Mekko and his friend Katrina (l) and Maya (r) (who really didn't want her picture taken, sorry Maya)

And finally to all: health, happiness and...

#8 PEACE for the New Year Award

(Not ten, damn it, but close!)

Happy New Year

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas Everyone


The Rat's Nest

Monday, December 13, 2010

Passing Through: part two

After posting part two of Passing Through on the weekend, I realized the only thing I liked about it was the photographs, so I took the writing down and left the images up:

Paul Caponigro and Don Anderson in Louisville
(photo credit: Ron, sorry Ron, forgot your last name)

photo of a leaf by Paul Caponigro
hanging in my downstairs stairwell

I've been on a bit of a jag lately, looking at old black and whites from earlier days, when I studied at the Univ. of Louisville with Don Anderson, who led me to further study with the photographer Paul Caponigro, which led me among other things to art school which lead me to leave photography altogether.

I think what I found out from writing this post, is that it's not so easy to write about certain things that happened to you in the past, wrapping it all up in a neat little blog post. Some things are better left unsaid.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Passing Through: part one

I was standing by the window. I remember distinctly what I felt the moment I got the news: at that instant, I knew the sixties were over. That thought seems rather simplistic now but at the time, it was a shock;  with Lennon's murder, everything we'd fought and lived for, everything we believed in was irreparably gone.

Simultaneously, I was thinking about my friend and fellow dancer, Bettle Liota, because she happened to be in NYC at that historic moment. She'd gone I believe to see a Meredith Monk performance, and I got a call that she was headed to Central Park, where hundreds were gathering for a spontaneous vigil. I wanted to be there, but I was in Toronto. Good thing for her to have taken that greyhound bus to Port Authority. What luck, I thought with a tinge of jealousy.

 Bettle  Liota in Toronto

How to describe Bettle? For one, there was no one like her, and there'll never be another....

Bettle had everything a person could want; she was beautiful, talented and smart, with long legs that for a while had more spirit than technique. After kicking around for a few years she went back to school and received a degree from York University, a star in the dance dept. A modern dancer and choreographer, she moved on to step dancing and became an expert clogger. Took up the fiddle and called square dances, sang in the sacred heart chorale. Later a mother of two and a wife. A laugh that burst out of an overly abundant chest and kicked with long legs all the way to the Rockies. 

a laugh hard to forget

By the time I left Toronto Bettle and I weren't speaking; we'd had a falling out. A few years later I tried writing, but my letter went unanswered. I don't blame her, for whatever it was that came between us was my fault. Much later, I found out from a mutual friend and her old lover that she'd died of breast cancer in the early naughts, not quite 50. She had tried mistletoe treatments in Switzerland and every alternative therapy known to man, but later as the cancer advanced to her spine she underwent a course of chemo but lost the good fight. With two teenagers, and hundreds of people who adored her, she didn't want to die.

Here's an ancient picture of us when we danced together in Toronto in the seventies, in a piece called Artificial Desperation....

Bettle, me and Nancy Shrieber
at 15 Dance Lab

John Lennon and Bettle Liota, the two will forever be linked in my mind. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

My ol' rat

Here's my ol' pet rat these days:

Hiding under the couch

After dinner Malka likes to dig around under the couch in her newspaper nest (a good use for the newspaper lately), dragging her tumors along side her. Don't mean to gross you out but rats develop tumors in their old age—2+— which is, among other things, what gets them in the end. If I could be as dignified in my old age with massive tumors weighing me down, I'd be super woman. Malka certainly is super rat. She cries out in pain occasionally but most of the time scurries from place to place, eating whatever we hand her, building her nest under the couch, letting us pet her under the blanket, and showing affection by licking our fingers and trimming our nails. 
Here's how I wish she could carry her tumors: 

Malka with extra baggage

If only we could remove those things that weigh us down. Malka could carry her two tumors around in her Sears Roebuck luggage until she was ready to go; until then, she'd throw them onto the fly-away-bus when she came home from NYC, sleep with them in her hammock, while eating bananas, make room for visitors by storing them under the couch; anything but not have them inside. Well, that's a children's story I suppose....but not reality. Reality is I'm really going to miss this little rat when she's gone.