Friday, July 30, 2010

Sepia Saturday: India Memories

This photo from February 1992 was from my first visit to India while making a documentary about a women's health program in Deenabandupurum on the border of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. If I get ambitious, I might post a digital version of that video that I haven't look at in easily a decade. I'll never forget the "protagonist" of the piece, a low caste woman named Jeya Laxmi who endured years physical abuse from her husband and went on to run against a Brahman man as mayor of her village.

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Reason to Put Up with Life's Many Agonies

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

MAGPIE TALES: Contact Bridge

(Our latest contribution to the Magpie Tales.)

The pattern of light on Nedra's back -- half in and out of the rumpled sheets -- made Bark think of a sunrise over the Atlas Mountains. He half wanted to let her rest for what remained of the morning until the room would be filled with only remnants of direct sun as it busied itself with other rooms to illuminate. He could hear the tinkering bells of the Salvadorean ice cream vendors and children across the street chasing their rat terrier until it yelped with confusion or delight. Finally he could resist no longer and placed his hand on Nedra's bare right shoulder. "Would you like to play a game?" She stirred slowly and finally mumbled, "Only if it's not too tedious..."

"How about contact bridge."

"Oh, please no," Nedra groaned. "I hate contract bridge. It makes me think of my mother and her gin-soaked friends."

"No, I said contact bridge."

"I told you, Bark, I'm not interested. It's too tedious."

"Listen..." There was the slightest air of irritation in his voice that warmed the otherwise calm still of the room. "Contact, not contract. There is a huge difference." He pulled a deck of tarot cards from the tiny drawer of the bedside table and began to shuffle them. "All you have to do in this game is lie there and be...well, just be honest in your breathing."

Nedra weaved in the sheets, a koi navigating irritable waters. "In all honesty, I'm not sure I am up to it..."

Deaf to her tepid protests, he placed the first card on the base of her spine. "Ah, the juggler. How fitting for all that you carry in your third chakra."

Bark placed another card perfectly parallel to the first, and slowly continuing the process up Nedra's spine as her back rose and fell gently with each breath, a tiny sliver of flesh exposed with each inhale but not a card out of place. He smiled as he admired the perfect bridge of cards winding its way upward. Finally the last card was placed just below her crown.

"Ah ha! The Joker." Nedra ignored him for a moment and then turned and glared at him, the face of the angry hierophant, unwilling to continue the game.

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Jersey Shore: Pimped Up for the Mission

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Imagine My Horror...

...when I picked up this at Community Thrift...
...only to discover THIS inside when I got home!

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Sepia Saturday: Do You Shorpy?

Maybe this is cheating a bit, but I've had a really busy past couple of weeks with travel and other projects, so I'm recommending a "third party" sepia site.

Fans of historic photographs might enjoy Shorpy. Many of these come from national archives, and each one is sort of like a mini-novel/movie. Shorpy, to me, is the granddaddy of all sepia sites, and there is always something fascinating there. Be sure to hit the "click for full size" button, especially on the street scenes. The level of detail is jaw dropping on most of these since, I am assuming, most are from glass plates and the clarity and human detail really takes you into the places, making you feel like you are walking down a Brooklyn street circa 1893 or walking through the front door of a former slave cabin.

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President Lincoln Rescues a Homie!

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

This Is My FIrst Choice for My Retirement Community

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sage Advice

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010



Sunday, July 11, 2010

MAGPIE TALES: The Country Squire

Our latest contribution to Magpie Tales. The others are here.

Vonda called it a truck farm, even though it was a station wagon that delivered her crop to customers. It wasn't long after she started selling the tomatoes door-to-door that she decided to name the enterprise after the vehicle, and thus Country Squire Tomatoes was launched. Trevor and Millie helped her with much of the work, sometimes pulling their fox hunt green Radio Flyer Wagon, a rare model made only from 1971 to 1973, down Harkness Boulevard.

The kids hated being in the business, especially Trevor who was prone throwing out the tomatoes and turnips after just a couple of calls in the neighborhood. Or sometimes, when he was feeling more altruistic he'd leave them on the front steps of the two widows who lived down on Bratford Lane. "Always give the widows a discount," Vonda told him. When he returned with an empty wagon and just three dollars, he would explain that he'd given so many widows discounts that his profits were minimal. Vonda took to searching his embroidered backpack after that, always sure there would be an inappropriate magazine or airplane glue he blown the money on inside of it. She found nothing but his algebra exam with "D-" on the top, one of many secrets he failed to share with her.

Millie was another story, coming home with straight As and $30 to $50 after each trip down the street. Once Vonda advanced to growing lettuce that she sold to artisan bakeries and shitake mushrooms, Trevor had gone on to selling his mother's jewelry to the widows and giving the vegetables to the soup kitchen down the street. Vonda was pleased to see he was now able to bring home at least $25 a week but was certain there had been a break in at the house since her prized pearls were missing. As they sat over soup and saltines in the kitchen, Vonda would try to read Trevor's gaze, but it was almost impossible to catch as he looked directly into his bowl, occasionally breaking the crackers and dropping them into his bowl, mysterious little islands in a red sea of pureed tomatoes.

The next week, when Mrs. Aldrich passed Vonda on 23rd Avenue, she nodded and smirked, "And so how is the mother of the country squire today?"

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What We're Seeing in the Mission

Our Lady of the Perpetual Swan Swirl.

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Friday, July 09, 2010

Sepia Saturday: Adventures in the Time Machine

It's a busy week, and I am about to hit the road, so I apologize for playing "reruns" from last weekend, but since I didn't post it for last Sepia Saturday post, here goes. I've been taking trips in my time machine to visit the early 20th century around the world.

For your enjoyment, you can hit these links for:

My trip to London.

My trip to Paris.

My trip to Vegas.

My trip to Cairo.


Thursday, July 08, 2010

Why It's a Dragon, He Exclaimed.

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Monday, July 05, 2010

My Trip to London

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My Trip to Cairo

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My Trip to Las Vegas

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MAGPIE TALES: Has Anyone Seen Miss Novotny?

(Our contribution to this week's Magpie Tales. Check out the others here.)

Uncle Van and Aunt Kip opened their little shop on Hudiburg Way in Alder Village right after the war, long before the city had expanded its westward expanse and there was nothing there but random bungalows, an A&P and an Methodist Episcopal Church North and tiny Lutheran chapel. Uncle Van was adamant from the start that it be called be called Kip and Van Upholstery and Windows since he claimed she was the brains behind the operation.

It was Uncle Van who came up with the slogans that make me cringe today but at the time I thought were the embodiment of wit. "The Blind Man Is Driving This Car" was hand lettered on their delivery truck that listed every type of blind and shade they could provide. Their newspaper ads often featured Aunt Kip in a very prim, high-necked dress holding a parasol beneath the china berry tree in their front yard with the caption, "Come see the shady lady when you want to bring new style to your windows."

"Old world craftsmanship with tomorrow's design," they boasted. I remember Mrs. Reilly and Miss Novotny, both of whom came from the old world and did much of the upholstery work and shade design. I remember seeing them glare down at me from the attic room of Uncle Van and Aunt Kip's house which adjoined the shop which faced north on Hudiburg Way towards the old saw mill. Why did they look at me with such intent interest as I played in the sand box that an old Allis Chambers tractor tire filled with sand.

My mother said it was probably because neither of them had children. Mrs. Reilly did have a son that died in an air raid during the war. I had seen her smile once or twice, and once she actually offered me a cookie that she had made from scratch, but I remember it being bitter and heavy on ginger and light on any sugar.

It was Mrs. Novotny who bothered me the most with a white streak of color that swept through the middle of her dark brown hair, her eyebrows heavy as if they had been cut from felt and glued on. She wore heavy soled shoes to compensate for her club foot and always had breath that smelled like molding cabbage. Mother said that I should be kind to her since women like Miss Novotny will face a bitter fate in old age.

We lost track of the two women once the business was sold and Aunt Kip and Uncle Van took to selling Herbalife and Mary K products. Some nights I have a flash of Miss Novotny's expressionless face as she glared down at me from the attic room, sewing furiously while looking at me instead of her handwork until a needle prick brought her attention back to the task at hand. There was something in those locked, silent gazes that we shared that refuses to leave me, and today it is left to my imagination to figure how Miss Novotny whiled away her remaining days once she left Kip and Van's.

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Trouble Stopped in Its Tracks


Sunday, July 04, 2010

My Trip to Paris This Afternoon

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Saturday, July 03, 2010

Not Quite Ready for Oprah #348

Do you like flashy men with jewelry?


Do U Ubu?

Not that I need another internet diversion, I must sing the praises of discovering Ubuweb. How can you not be enchanted by a site with the declared mission of "a completely independent resource dedicated to all strains of the avant-garde, ethnopoetics, and outsider arts. All materials on UbuWeb are being made available for noncommercial and educational use only. All rights belong to the author(s). UbuWeb is completely free."

There are some great films posted by famed outsiders such as Jack Smith's Flaming Creatures and George Kuchar's Corruption of the Damned. Not exactly outsider, but rare is the documentary Shanghai Jim aired on BBC in 1991 in which Empire of the Sun author J.G. Ballard returns to Shanghai and revisits his childhood home at 31 Amherst Avenue. Or a nifty documentary on the Bauhaus movement.

Then there is the wonderful 365 days project that features such jewels as Edith Massey singing "Big Girls Don't Cry", "Turn On!" the fabulous LP of Miss Pat Collins, the Hip Hypnotist, German Cowboys songs and the curious warbling of Madame Saint Onge, billed as the "French Mrs. Miller."

I would venture to say 95% of what they have will never be found on Netflix.

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Friday, July 02, 2010

Sepia Saturday: Dress Up Day!

Align Left(It's Sepia Saturday. Here are the other great posts here.)

If for no other reason than to dispel the rumor that there are no photos of me smiling, here is one of my "big" sister Nanette and me engaged in one of our favorite Saturday activities -- dress up day. There are other, more dramatic ones I will try to share for future posts. We got more creative through the years and went on to put on shows with our increasingly elaborate home made costumes. But this one is just a taste of our repertoire.


Thursday, July 01, 2010

Junk Thief is Now Four

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