Sunday, September 30, 2007

Dead Blues Guys

The sun's gone down and I never got around to putting up a blog post today. I've been working all day and my little brain is tired, so I don't dare try to write anything. I'd probably just get myself in trouble. So, in lieu of any incomprehensible words from me, click here to go to the site for Dead Blues Guys, "a virtual tour of the final resting places (FRP) of blues musicians and significant people who have contributed to the development and growth of the blues." It's a wonderful site, with lots of info about the late and great. If you go to the photo credits page, you'll see that several of the photographers have websites that are worth checking out.

I don't know about you, but I don't think there's anything more soothing than wandering around a cemetery. I'm headed over there right now to rest my mind...

Saturday, September 29, 2007

More of the Daimon at work

Jim Baker is a brilliant jazz pianist you've probably never heard of, unless you live in Chicago or you're a pretty rabid fan of free jazz. My own appetite for free jazz is pretty limited, but Jim just knocked me out the first time I heard him. He's very intense, which is a lot of his appeal for me. I love to see people completely absorbed in their creative process, even if I don't have a clue what the hell they're doing. It's as if the soul becomes visible for as long as the trance lasts. Dave, who knew Jim during our Chicago years, sent me a link to a video interview with Jim that gives you a real sense of his passionate obsession with music, and his sense of humor about it. Click here to go to a page where you can download the interview in your choice of Quicktime or Windows Media.

This Youtube vid is from a performance at the Velvet Lounge in Chicago in 1999. Jim's playing is a lot more straight-ahead here:

Friday, September 28, 2007

Mnasidika's Breasts

Carefully, with one hand, she opened her tunic and tendered me her breasts, warm and sweet, just as one offers the goddess a pair of living turtle-doves.

"Love them well," she said to me, "I love them so! They are little darlings, little children. I busy myself with them when I am alone. I play with them; I pleasure them.

"I flush them with milk. I powder them with flowers. I dry them with my fine-spun hair, soft to their little nipples. I caress them and I shiver. I couch them in soft wool.

"Since I shall never have a child, be their nursling, oh! my love, and since they are so distant from my mouth, kiss them, sweet, for me."

From The Songs of Bilitis by Pierre Louÿs, translated by Alvah C. Bessie, illustrated by Willy Pogany (1926) via The Internet Sacred Text Archive

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The bird geek is kind of excited

Via Wikimedia Commons

I was sitting at the dinner table just before sunset, watching the birds at my backyard feeders, and I saw what I thought were 2 female Rose-breasted Grosbeaks. They're so pretty, and it's always a pleasure to see them as they come through on their migration. They don't normally nest or winter here.

The more I looked at them, though, the more they didn't look "right" somehow. They had color but no streaks on their breasts, and their eyestripe was a lot more vivid than usual. So I pulled out the Peterson bird book and realized that they matched the picture and description of the Black-headed Grosbeak--a bird common on the plains, but rarely found this far east. According to both the Peterson guide and the eNature site, they hybridize with the Rose-breasted along the eastern part of their range, and Peterson says they sometimes stray all the way to the Atlantic states. I'm pretty certain of my ID, so I'm considering this an official rare bird sighting.

It takes so little to make bird girl happy.

The poets are fighting

A blogger curtsy to my friend Margaret, who sent me this article from the New York Times concerning the big dust-up at the Poetry Society of America. In a nutshell, the PSoA is giving the prestigious Frost medal to John Hollander, an old white guy who has shown a certain lack of appreciation for literature produced by the young and nonwhite. Novelist Walter Mosley has resigned from the society's board, quietly but clearly in protest. The board president, William Louis-Dreyfus, accused Mosley of McCarthyism, and a slew of other prominent board members quit over that. So now Louis-Dreyfus has quit because--well, it's not really clear. Maybe because there's nobody left to fight with. (Hollander, by the way, is not talking. You can read a couple of his poems here.)

The charge of McCarthyism against Mosley and the other writers is ridiculous. McCarthyism looks like this--a school principal smeared as a terrorist sympathizer and forced to resign from her job. (You can read a fuller account of Debbie Almontaser and the controversy over the school here.) Nobody tried to destroy Hollander's career or his reputation as a poet. All Mosley and the other writers did was quit a board. They've been pretty discreet in their public statements, not saying much of anything except to answer Louis-Dreyfus' charges against them.

The article brings up the old question of whether an asshole can be a great artist; or, to put it more politely, whether unsavory personal characteristics of an artist should effect how we evaluate his work. One of Louis-Dreyfus' complaints is that it's "as if you have to approve of the man’s politics before you can praise his poetry.” Generally speaking, I come down firmly on the side of saying the work is unsullied by the foibles of its creator. Edith Wharton was a terrible snob and a pretty vicious anti-Semite, but I still marvel at her genius and think American literature would be much poorer without her. That said, the issue seems like a bit of a red herring here, since Hollander is not being slammed for espousing racism generally, or for some private indiscretion. He's being criticized specifically for aspects of his "service to American poetry," which is supposedly what the prize is about. There's a good argument to be made that he did a disservice to poetry by insulting emerging writers. It doesn't seem unreasonable to bring that up in determining whether he is the right person to get the prize.

Anyway, the next time you're caught up in some idiotic, petty squabble with family or colleagues, console yourself with the knowledge that the big dogs of the literary world are no better than you.

And now, click here to read something fine by Lydia Melvin--just the sort of writer I suspect Mr. Hollander wouldn't much like.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Nice sandals

Paul-Emile Bécat (1885-1960). Image courtesy of A World History of Art

I don't mean to be sadistic or anything...

but if you didn't hear the interview with Norman Podhoretz on WBUR's On Point this morning, I urge you to click here and listen to as much of it as you can stand. It's excruciating, but not as bad as reading the man's writing, and it's a great reminder of why we're in the mess we're in right now. NP is the Warren Jeffs of the neocons, the prophet of moral bankruptcy and primitive tribalism who camouflages hate in jargon and metaphor.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Our friend Renee...

sent me a link to this fantastic essay by Erin Solaro about perfume and war. I'm sure most of my fellow perfume freaks have already seen it on POL, but even normal people will find it fascinating, I swear.

Harvest Moon

The moon is beautiful here tonight. The Harvest Moon officially rises tomorrow, 9/26. Go out to greet the Goddess if you're so inclined.

Luna, Evelyn de Morgan (1855-1919)

See, this is what I'm talking about

It turns out that David Banner, one of the people I talked to for the article on Dr. Sharpley-Whiting (see yesterday's post), also testified before the Congressional committee this morning. Check out how he's depicted in this news story about the hearings: "Defiant," "testimony laced with swear words," etc. It makes him sound like some sort of goon. I interviewed the man by phone for the better part of an hour, and he knew I was doing an article about a feminist critique of hip-hop, so I wasn't exactly the friendliest face of the media. He was perfectly polite, and impressed me as an intelligent, reasonable guy who's just trying to make a living in the music business. He might have used the odd swear word, but so do most members of Congress. If you read the actual quotes in the AP article, it's clear that what he said was perfectly sane--but the quotes come after the description of his testimony.

Things always get dumbed down in the process of being reported. It's inevitable. There's only so much of a story you can tell in 500 words. Still, there's something about the arena of a Congressional hearing that makes makes the problem especially acute. Parading experts before authority is a pantomime, a bit of theater. There's not really any discourse happening, so the media reports the drama, the good guys versus the bad guys. Don't believe everything you read

Monday, September 24, 2007

This makes me nervous

I just got a press release from Vanderbilt University:

Tracy Sharpley-Whiting, director of the Program in African American and Diaspora Studies at Vanderbilt University, is set to testify Tuesday, Sept. 25, in Washington before the Congressional Subcommittee on Energy and Commerce on the topic of “From Imus to Industry: The Business of Stereotypes and Degrading Images.”

Sharpley-Whiting wrote Pimps Up, Ho's Down, a very good book about misogyny in hip hop culture. A link to my article on her and the book is in the list to the right--"The Bitch Ho Problem." Sharpley-Whiting has a very thoughtful feminist take on the issue. She's uncompromising in her condemnation of sexism and sexual violence, but she loves music, she respects hip-hop, and she doesn't demonize anybody. I attended one of the Rap Sessions events that toured college campuses, and I thought the level of discourse on the subject was impressive, both from the panel and from the students who attended.

So why does it make me cringe a little to read that she's about to testify before Congress? I guess I should be glad to see someone so smart and so unabashedly feminist getting a hearing anywhere, but I just hate the idea of this issue being worked over in Washington. When politicians get the opportunity to posture on race, gender and "values" all at one go, there's no way any of the nuance of the issue can survive. And the possibility of legislation designed to protect us from nasty pop culture makes me queasy.

The Daimon at work

I love this clip of Mississippi John Hurt telling the story of how he learned to play the guitar. What a charming man. That's Pete Seeger trying to hurry him along with the banjo.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Happy Mabon

An Autumn Pastoral (detail), François Boucher, 1749

Please explain

Finntroll has arrived, I guess, apparently meriting serious copy in the New York Times. Dave and his little friends love this shit. I love most things Nordic (even the food), and I'm a good anti-Christian, but I just don't get it.

Friday, September 21, 2007


Mr. Phydeaux has posted a couple of videos about the antics of the Christian fundamentalists. They're interesting on several levels. I'm not going to comment beyond that, except to say that if anybody's taking donations to ship the monotheist fanatics--all of them--to Mars, feel free to hit me up. Click here to see the clips.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Leda, swans, etc.

Heinrich Lossow, 19th century. Courtesy of The Museum of Bestial Art.


Where the slow river
meets the tide,
a red swan lifts red wings
and darker beak,
and underneath the purple down
of his soft breast
uncurls his coral feet.

Through the deep purple
of the dying heat
of sun and mist,
the level ray of sun-beam
has caressed
the lily with dark breast,
and flecked with richer gold
its golden crest.

Where the slow lifting
of the tide,
floats into the river
and slowly drifts
among the reeds,
and lifts the yellow flags,
he floats
where tide and river meet.

Ah kingly kiss—
no more regret
nor old deep memories
to mar the bliss;
where the low sedge is thick,
the gold day-lily
outspreads and rests
beneath soft fluttering
of red swan wings
and the warm quivering
of the red swan's breast.

by H. D. (Hilda Doolittle), via Poetry Foundation

Venus and Adonis, Bartholomeus Spranger, c.1586 (detail)

The Myth of Venus/Aphrodite and Adonis

(Click here to see a full image of Spranger's painting.)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Getting it wrong

I'm always telling friends who read this blog to please, please email me if they see some stupid typo or other dumbass mistake. I know I shouldn't expect other people to save me from myself, but god knows I need some help from somebody. Case in point: My two posts last week that mentioned executed killer Daryl Holton had his name as "Horton." Actually, I used both names, getting it right one time out of four. The AP feed used by a lot of local news outlets contained the same mistake (see here and here), but that doesn't make me feel any better. I had been looking at the TCASK site, where his name is never misspelled.

It just adds to the sadness of the whole business that this poor guy counts for so little that some of us can't get his name right, even as his life is snuffed out. And, of course, it makes his victims' fate a little sadder as well. It was their name, too.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Spider season

Photo by Bruce Marlin,

I saw one of these beautiful Marbled Orb Weaver spiders in the park today. She had spun a huge web across the trail and she was hanging right in the middle of it, as if waiting for somebody to come along and admire her. So I did. I love spider-watching this time of year. By the way, for the POL contingent, you'll be happy to know--well, I'm happy anyway--that Charlotte is back, right on schedule.

In honor of the occasion, a favorite spidery poem:

Mr. Edwards and the Spider

I saw the spiders marching through the air,
Swimming from tree to tree that mildewed day
In latter August when the hay
Came creaking to the barn. But where
The wind is westerly,
Where gnarled November makes the spiders fly
Into the apparitions of the sky,
They purpose nothing but their ease and die
Urgently beating east to sunrise and the sea
... [more]

From Lord Weary's Castle by Robert Lowell via Poetry Foundation

Monday, September 17, 2007

This is my rifle, this is my gun...

Last week I was wandering around the world and passed a tanning salon with a sign in the window: “No Firearms Allowed on the Premises.” That struck me as very funny. I mean, the idea that somebody would pack heat to go to a tanning salon is ridiculous on several levels. I had a mental image of a guy positioning his Glock 9mm very carefully so as to prevent unsightly tan lines.

I didn’t think much about it afterwards, but then this weekend I was walking past a music store in Nashville, a place that professionals and wannabes tend to frequent, and there were two young guys sitting out front having a very intense conversation. They were throwing around brand names that meant nothing to me, and I assumed they were audio geeks talking shop. It was only when I walked past again on the way back to my car that I realized they were talking about guns—at that moment, how to purchase the best ammo for an AK-47.

As I walked away I found myself thinking about Daryl Holton, the man who was executed last week for killing his children. He shot them with an SKS assault rifle. And then I thought about my brother, who to the best of my knowledge has never shot anybody, but who kept an M-14 for years, along with the usual hunting firearms. He may still have that gun for all I know, though I doubt it. Guys were constantly offering to buy the thing.

My point is that there’s a lot of firepower floating around out there, more even than most of us realize. A lot of people love weapons. Courting the gun lobby is absolutely de rigueur for any politician with the remotest hope of carrying right-of-center votes. That’s alarming on one level, I guess, but I guess I find it oddly encouraging that given all the guns at our disposal, life is pretty damn peaceful. According to the Centers for Disease Control, poisoning deaths in the US are about as common as deaths caused by firearms, including both accidental and deliberate shootings. (You can compare various types of death by injury here.)

Obviously, if someone you love is part of that second statistic, numbers don’t mean much. One person needlessly killed by a firearm is one too many. I’m no gun fan myself, and if people want to preach against them, I say go to it. But the hysterical tone that dominates the gun control debate might be eased a lot if the anti-gun crowd would stop painting the gun fetishists as nothing but psychos and potential psychos. For every Daryl Holton or Cho Seung-Hui, there are a thousand decent people who, for whatever reason, want to own weapons. Demonizing and criminalizing them isn’t going to do much to change their minds.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The hummingbirds are leaving

I'm still getting a fair number of stragglers, but the big mob has cleared out. I always have mixed feelings about the hummer exit. It's sad because they're so entertaining to have around, but it's a relief to stop making nectar every damn day. Between the dogs and the birds, sometimes it seems as if all I do is prepare food for animals. I don't actually do much cooking for people. Dave fends for himself, and I live on salad a lot of the time, which gives you some idea of the priorities around here.

Fellow bird fanatic Dawn sent me a link today to these wonderful photos of a hummingbird nest. There's a huge number of hits on the site, so some of you may have seen them, but they are certainly worth a second look. There is a link to another set of nest photos on the last page.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Sabra and Shatila

Saturday, 9/15, is the 25th anniversary of the massacre at the Sabra and Shatila camps. The day usually goes unremarked here, which is shameful but not surprising. We need to remember it--every time we hear about a terror plot or attack, every time we wonder why "those people" are so crazed with hatred, every time we have to listen to another round of scaremongering from our half-wit tyrant.

We're big on mourning our own dead and resenting attacks against us, but when it comes to remembering our crimes and the crimes of our friends, we're the Alzheimer's nation.

You can read the Wikipedia page on the massacre here. All the usual Wikipedia caveats apply, of course, but it seems accurate enough. I notice it isn't locked, though, so given the date, it's possible some craziness could land there before you read this post.

For a moving account that makes no claim to neutrality, read this by Franklin Lamb at Electronic Intifada.

I believe this Youtube clip with Robert Fisk is taken from his documentary "From Beirut to Bosnia." There are some disturbing images. It's worth clicking over to the Youtube page to read the highly emotional comments.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Me, preaching on it

Via Wikimedia Commons

Just in case y'all haven't had enough of me bloviating about the drought, the starving critters and the state of the universe, click here for my sermon from a different pulpit.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Another execution

Some of you may remember my post on the old POL blog about the execution of Philip Workman. Workman's death got worldwide attention because of his poignant last request that a pizza be given to a homeless person on his behalf. Workman always had a fair amount of public sympathy because of the circumstances of his crime, and because he came across as a fundamentally decent, if messed up, human being. Sympathy didn't save him in the end, but I'd like to think it matters that people cared about his death and saw it as an injustice. Maybe sympathy for him pushed us just a little way toward ending our attachment to state murder.

The State of Tennessee killed Daryl Holton last night, and I suspect it would have gone completely unnoticed except for the gruesome fact that he chose the electric chair over lethal injection. Holton's crime was mind-numbingly awful. He killed his three young sons and their half sister, quite deliberately and methodically, as an act of revenge against his ex-wife. He was mentally ill, and completely lacked Workman's ability to inspire sympathy. Even the director of the state's most important anti-death penalty organization didn't sound that sorry to see him leave this earth, reportedly saying “We want it to be as humane and painless as possible.’’

I wouldn't presume to criticize Stacy Rector for those words. What would any of us say when obliged to comment on such a sad, repulsive event? But the truth, of course, is that electrocuting a man can't possibly be painless or humane. The horror of what Daryl Holton did doesn't diminish the cruelty of his death one bit. He was murdered, deliberately and methodically, just the way he murdered his children.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Much better than a field holler

Here's what I love about the internet. Renee and I were having an exchange about field hollers, which led me to thinking about Alan Lomax, which caused me to idly plug his name into a YouTube search, which pulled up this incredible gem of a video. It's Bukka White during the Newport Folk Festival in 1966. Lomax made the original film. You can read about its production here

This clip exemplifies everything that makes people twitchy about Lomax; i.e., the vaguely prurient white fascination with African-American music and culture. Keeping that in mind, this is a riveting 5 minutes of video. Don't just listen to the music. Watch the dancing, and the dynamic between the men, the lone woman, and White.

Friendly debate

My post about the Counterpunch article on sex offenders sparked an email exchange with a friend of mine--no surprise, since she and I go 'round about this topic pretty regularly. I'm posting our debate in the comments section of this post, since it's rather lengthy. I promised her the last word and I'm sticking to that, though I admit to having to stifle a few obvious rejoinders.

Laziness prevents me from really editing our exchange, except for redacting names to protect the innocent. I'll put her words in bold, just to try to reduce the confusion.

Monday, September 10, 2007

"Yours for less justice and more mercy"

Still from Fritz Lang's M

The title of this post is my favorite line from the Archy poems. It was his sign-off, if I remember correctly,*** to a passionate defense of the carnivorous spider. I thought of it today as I read this article by Betty Schneider in Counterpunch, which makes an excellent case for ending our current hysteria about sex offenders, especially pedophiles. (I confess I may be abusing the words of the wise cockroach here, since I don't know that he had any opinions on pedophiles, pro or con. But I think the sentiment is transferable, and neither he nor Don Marquis is likely to complain, so I'm claiming the phrase.)

Since I recently defended Larry Craig's right to get busy with the guy of his choice in a public restroom, I don't want any of you to get the wrong idea and think I'm suggesting we jettison the laws against sex with the SpongeBob Squarepants contingent. Not at all. But I think Schneider's article is a fine examination of what's wrong with the current vigilante approach.

I think Schneider is maybe a little too optimistic about the possibilities of therapy, but even if she is, her basic point that our perception of the problem has been wildly skewed by political posturing and media sensationalism is well-founded.

"Certainly, when kids are sexually victimized, they can suffer psychic trauma, as they can from other types of abuse. But their offenders, contrary to popular misconception, are hardly ever high-risk predators. Less than 10 percent of registrants fall into this category, while the rest are low- to no-risk. In an interview with Chris Hansen of "To Catch a Predator," Dr. Fred Berlin, founder of the Johns Hopkins Sexual Disorders Clinic said, ".... if the choice was between a sexual offender fondling my 12-year-old or a drunk driver killing my 12-year-old, given that horrible dilemma, it still wouldn’t take me much time to figure out which I think is more serious." For a perspective on child fatality, the U.S. Dept. Of Health and Human Services has estimated that 1,500 children died from maltreatment in 2003, primarily at the hands of their parents. In that same year, according to the National Center for Statistics and Analyses, 396 children under 14 were killed in alcohol-related crashes. But as for murder by sex offenders, the general estimate is about 50 per year, or one per state."

More than a decade ago I was a crisis line counselor, and I vividly remember getting a call one night from a guy who had walked in on a family member fondling one of the household's children, a toddler. The caller wanted to know what he should do, and I told him the only thing I was allowed to tell him, which was that he was required by law to report the incident to the police. If he gave me any clue about his identity, I would be obliged to call the police. There was absolutely no help of any kind that he could access without getting the criminal justice system involved.

Although I see the basic wisdom behind the reporting laws, in that particular case it seemed to me that they probably did more harm than good. I got the distinct impression that the caller wanted very much to intervene but was extremely reluctant to set the cops after his relative. I suspect he wound up doing nothing at all--which was certainly not in the best interests of the child, or even the offender. If he had been able to seek some kind of professional assistance without dragging the whole family through the legal system, I think he would have. I've often wondered what happened to that child.

***No surprise, I didn't remember correctly. I looked it up today (9/11), and the line is actually "yours for less justice and more charity"--a kindred but not quite identical sentiment. I really should stop throwing up blog posts when it's past my bedtime. Charity demands more empathy than mercy does, though, so I think the correct quote is even more apt.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

The drought has broken

Since I've tried your patience wailing about the drought all summer, I thought you'd all like to know that it has finally ended--at least, it rained in a serious way yesterday and today. Of course, we're still way behind on rainfall for the year, but honestly, it seemed as if it might never rain again, so the showers are worth celebrating.

I went out on the trail this morning as usual, even though it was pouring. As much as I might try to pass myself off as the outdoorsy type, I don't much like getting wet, or cold, or bathed in sweat. Deep down I'm more bookish perfume freak than nature girl. Still, I try to get myself outside most days, and I find that if I do it when the weather's hostile I'm nearly always rewarded with something beautiful and out of the ordinary. On one of the coldest walks I took last winter, I came across a big pileated woodpecker feeding on a stump just about knee height. He let me walk right up to him and hang out for a while, watching him excavate the goodies out of the rotten wood.

Today I got completely soaked, and then sat under a picnic shelter for a while, watching the rain and trying to dry off a little. When it finally let up and I was headed back to my car, I walked past a meadow covered with wild thistles and grasses that haven't much minded the drought. It's just the sort of place goldfinches like, and sure enough, there was a big flock of them hidden in the brush. They flew up in a wave as I passed, at least a hundred of them, and headed for the trees.

It was one of the prettiest things I've seen in a long time, and it reminded me of a passage from a Charlotte Hilton Green's Birds of the South, a beautiful book first published in the 1930s. Green's not the most reliable authority on birds, but she more than makes up for her inaccuracies with the charm and passion of her writing.

"We passed by a field taken over by thistles, and as something startled the horse, it neighed loudly. Up from the thistle-sown fields, on both sides of the road, rose a veritable golden, black-flecked cloud, as several hundred goldfinches mounted the air, singing. I think that picture and experience started my interest in birds. I had not realized before that birds could be so beautiful, or so plentiful. Later, in a book by a New England naturalist, I read about "collecting" birds in the memory instead of specimens in the bag. And that picture, of a northern field sun-flecked with goldfinches rising on wings of song, ranks first of my many "memory-chain" pictures."

From Birds of the South: Permanent and Winter Birds, by Charlotte Hilton Green, The University of North Carolina Press, 1933, 1995.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Mercy, how long has it been...

...since I blogged about perfume? Weeks, at least. Not that I haven't been engaged in sniffing and spritzing--I've just had other things to blog about. I'm really not up to speed on my perfume blather, being out of practice and all, so I'll get warmed up with some random recent observations from my olfactory world:

Ivoire is an old friend, and it's been in pretty frequent rotation this summer when I haven't been up for anything too adventurous. It seems like such an unobtrusive scent, the ultimate understated green floral chypre--so why does it attract so much attention? I get a compliment nearly every time I wear it. On one of our recent sweltering days, I was walking to my car when a runner passed me and then did a U-turn to ask, "What's your perfume?" I told her, she gave me a thumbs-up and ran on. Anything that can make me smell that good to people in the 100+ degree heat is worth hoarding. I've got at least 4 bottles. May it never be tweaked or discontinued.

My new love affair with the scents of Ava Luxe has reached a peak with my discovery of AL Lotus. Why did no one on POL ever mention it when I was whining about my search for a truly great lotus-based perfume? (Well, maybe someone did, and I just didn't listen. Stranger things have happened.) Anyway, Lotus does that perfect balancing act I've always craved. It has a full-bodied musky character--none of that candy-sweet sheer floral crap--yet the dewy lotus note is persistent right into the drydown. There's a touch of the swamp in there, just the right hint of nasty to relieve the purity of the flower. I want to bathe in this stuff.

The gallant Leopoldo--henceforth to be known as Glenda the Good Witch--has sent me the most incredible treasure trove of samps: niche beauties--Lutens, Mona di Orio, Parfumerie Generale--along with Les Exclusifs de Chanel and the Private Blend collection from Satan, also known as Tom Ford. I'm not sure what inspired this spasm of generosity other than fundamental Good Witchiness, which Leo has in abundance, rationalist though he may be. In any case, I am just wallowing in greedy delight here. I'll blog at length about some of these over the next few days, but I can already say I am in love with Nuit Noir, and Arabie has me wondering if the dogs would mind me getting a camel for the back yard.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Love and death

Lou blogged today about an excellent article in the Guardian on legal prostitution in Nevada. Apparently, your average state-sanctioned brothel is not the happiest place on earth. What a shock. Go here to see Lou's post, which has a link to the full text at the Guardian's site.

Right after I read Lou's post, I clicked over to the BBC website and saw this article about two accused prostitutes who were kidnapped and beheaded in Pakistan.

You know, I spent a lot of my life thinking the world hated women, and now I just think the world hates sex. Outside of a very narrow range of acceptable sexuality, it seems that almost any sexual expression, anywhere, is regarded as repulsive or criminal, or both. Larry Craig isn't in any danger of being beheaded, but gay men are lynched on a fairly regular basis in this country. As the Guardian piece points out, even legal sex workers are treated like subhuman deviants by their employers, their customers and the state that licenses their trade.

Why are we like this? Why are we so cruel about regulating this appetite? Trust me, I've done my share of slogging through feminist theory, and I don't dismiss it, but neither do I feel satisfied with the explanations it offers. The older I get the more I have a sneaking suspicion that we are hardwired for sexual meanness, just as we are hardwired to be predators and to make war--which, if it's true, excuses none of our crimes against each other. It just means we have to think of them as something to manage rather than cure.

Two Friends, or Tenderness

Egon Schiele, 1913. Courtesy of Isle of Lesbos

Thursday, September 6, 2007

I wish I was a mole in the ground

Photo courtesy of hoobellatoo

All this talk about field hollers and folk music got me craving some Appalachian opera, so I dug out our Smithsonian Folkways CD of Bascom Lamar Lunsford. It's great stuff, though he does a lot of blathering on it. To skip the blather and just enjoy some of his music, go listen to this MP3 of "I Wish I was a Mole in the Ground." Great stuff. For more on Lunsford, see this excellent article by Chris King. And here you'll find a short clip from a film about Lunsford. (Warning to sensitive individuals: the clip has a hunting scene.)

The genuine article

Okay, so some of us, including me, didn't much care for Dave's and Brady's Balkan crush--at least not for her version of "I Will Always Love You." But here she is singing some honest-to-god traditional music, and I have to admit, it's beautiful.

Good deed for the day

Via Wikimedia Commons

Every hummingbird in N. America seems to be stopping here on the trip south. I've got 5 quart feeders up and I have to refill them every 2 days--so much for complaints about not enough hummers! I went out to hang a freshly filled feeder on my carport this morning, and discovered a young male trapped in a dense cobweb near the door. (Hey, I never said I was a good housekeeper.) He was struggling to get loose and I thought he'd make it on his own, but no. When it was clear he was tiring himself out, I went over and picked him loose. He latched onto a window screen for a minute or so, and then he flew over to rejoin the battle over the food. It's amazing that such fragile little creatures are so pugnacious.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The crabby critic

No time for a real post today, but I've got a review of This I Believe, the book version of the NPR series, up at the Scene. Click here to read me in serious Scrooge mode.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

A word from my inner agricultural policy geek

Yes, I do have one, and she thinks you might be interested in this AP article about the declining diversity of livestock. It's just one more reason to support small farmers who are working to keep heritage breeds alive. The porker in the photo is a Tamworth pig (a breed the article mentions) from the farm I blogged about the other day. The Drakes let their pigs run loose. The sight of the piggies scampering across the pasture in the company of goats and ducks is just about the cutest thing I have ever seen.

Go visit Dave

He's got a great Piaf clip from Youtube up on Perambulating the Bounds today, along with one of some Balkan singer he and his pal Brady have the hots for. I think she's so bad it makes my teeth hurt. If you scroll past her (trust me, you'll want to) you'll a find a touching little rant about Dave's hero, Pete Seeger.

“When tyrants tremble, sick with fear,
And hear their death-knell ringing,
When friends rejoice both far and near,
How can I keep from singing?”

Monday, September 3, 2007

More owls

Via Wikimedia Commons

I seem to have owls on the brain lately, so naturally they've started showing up in real life. Funny how that happens. Yesterday I ran into a very chatty barred owl as I walked along the trail. It's not the time of year for pairing up, but he was clearly looking for a friend. He just kept calling and calling, but nobody answered. Kinda sad. Then today I heard him again, and this time a girl called back. Unfortunately, she didn't seem that into him. Pretty soon he was just talking to himself again, no doubt dreaming about a duet of true love.

Support your local Pagan entrepreneur

I've been haunting metaphysical bookstores for years, but unlike Bunky Bartlett, I can't say they've brought me anything except a nice Tarot deck and a vast collection of incense burners. Bunky's story reminded me of an article I wrote about Nashville's Pagan shopkeepers a few years ago. I don't think I ever linked to it on the old blog. The slant of the article is very local, but you'd find the same cast of characters just about anywhere. They certainly were a pleasant group to interview. Click here to meet them.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

A message from my brother

Hope you all have a safe and happy Labor Day. Enjoy, brought to you by the union workers of America.

The Origins of Labor Day

In case Jen drops by...'s a song I think she'll like. It's the best Bill Monroe song, "Walls of Time," performed by Emmylou Harris and the Nash Ramblers. Listen to the words.