January 3, 2019

Are you Gothic?

After the a long period of quiet on a 7 hour car trip both my kids started speaking in English accents.

G: "I'm feeling gothic."

R: "Very gothic?"

G: "So very gothic."

R: "I was mildly gothic, but now I'm so completely gothic."

G: "I wear black lipstick."

R: "I wear black eye liner."

G: "We scowl repeatedly, call us the gothic bros."

R: "Yeah. My hair is oh so long."

G: "and tangled and greasy.... And we read Harry Potter obsessively."

R: "We have a black charred hearts."


January 4, 2019

To a Daughter Leaving Home

"When I taught you
at eight to ride
a bicycle, loping along
beside you
as you wobbled away
on two round wheels,
my own mouth rounding
in surprise when you pulled
ahead down the curved
path of the park,
I kept waiting
for the thud
of your crash as I
sprinted to catch up,
while you grew
smaller, more breakable
with distance,
pumping, pumping
for your life, screaming
with laughter,
the hair flapping
behind you like a
handkerchief waving

-by Linda Pastan

January 6, 2019

David Jien

David JienI love the weird and wonderful work of David Jien. His gallerist Richard Heller writes, "he takes inspiration from the infinite possibilities of science fiction, the storytelling of Henry Darger, the isometric perspective and narrative geography of Nintendo and Chinese scroll paintings, the eroticism of Japanese pillow books and the limitless transformations of graffiti..."

January 8, 2019

East Texas Place Names

Having grown up in an area known as Gobbler's Knob I've always had a fondness for East Texas place names. Often the original towns have vanished, but the names persist.

East Texan historian Bob Bowman lists a few including:

Grannie’s Neck
Lick Skillet
Weeping Mary

I also like the cities named after other places:

Old Boston

And then there are the weird ones:

Black Ankle
Bobo (on the famous Tenaha, Timpson, Bobo & Blair [or alternately Wells] line)
Holcomb Store
Jumbo - Named for the elephant.
Mim's Chapel
Mutt and Jeff
Old Dimple
Twin Groceries
Weeping Mary
Who'd Thought it

January 8, 2019

Dust Devils on Mars

Opportunity-Dust Devil-Mars.jpg

More NASA dust devil images. HiRise dust devil images.


January 8, 2019

Northern Cheyenne children and their playhouses

It's always hard to find vintage pictures of kids with their toys. I found this image from 1907 in the Library of Congress. This photo of Cheyenne girls playing displaying their dolls and doll-sized teepees is unusual in its casual empathy.

I wondered about the context of the image and found the photographer Julia Tuell was a young missionary assigned to the Lame Deer Agency in Montana. I haven't found a good complete archive of her photos, but many are striking in their intimacy such as this image of Cheyenne sun dance ceremony preparations. Scans of two of her photobooks can be found at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West: Julia Tuell 1, Julia Tuell 2. It's important to remember that adults in the community would have lived through Custer's massacres and were entering a period of bewildering change and oppression. Imagine the impression made by a Cheyenne-speaking white woman carrying a large Kodak camera.

January 11, 2019

The Secret Life of the City Banana

I like reading stories that change the way I look at the world, even if it's only a degree or two. I read Annie Correal's The Secret Life of the City Banana a year and a half ago, and now every time I pass a fruit stand I'm reminded of it. The writing is lively. Worth the read.

January 15, 2019

Jamel Shabazz

Jamel Shabazz has been photographing Brooklyn since he was 15. His Instagram feed full of images of 1980's NY is a love letter to that time, the city and its people. He's working on a new book titled, "The Book of Life." I can't wait to see check it out.

Related: New York's Summer of '78

January 18, 2019


Watching Alfonso Cuarón's Roma, I couldn't help thinking about the woman who worked for my abuelito's family. We affectionately called her Cucita and loved her dearly. In northern Mexico, at least in our family the lines of class and race were not as clearly defined as they are in Mexico City as families in the north are a bit more mixed and close to the earth. This said the shape of relationships depicted were all deeply familiar.

January 23, 2019

Archangel Ancient Tree Archive

The Archangel Ancient Tree Archive has cloned five ancient redwood stumps to create 75 saplings. After 2 years of propagation, the saplings were planted in the Presidio in SF in the hopes of creating a supergrove. I'm intrigued by the science behind this project. The short film Moving the Giants tells the story of Archangel scientist David Milarch an arborist on a quest to archive the genetics of the world’s largest trees before they’re gone.

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