Thursday, March 31, 2011

Audrey Thursday


I am more than delighted to announce that this little treat was recently featured on one of my favorite blogs: Coincidently, this guy is the reason a certain edition in my Wuthering Heights collection is a favorite and also on display in my home. I had no idea he was an actual person.

This one's a shoutout to the hometown, the City of Brotherly Love. Shoutout number two goes to Miranda, who first alerted me of Cornelius' existence.

Robert Cornelius, American chemist and pioneer in photography

The Evidence:

For five dollars, you could have commissioned Cornelius to capture your likeness in one of his two daguerreotype studios in Philadelphia. I’m not sure how much $5 was worth back in the 1840’s—though Google tells me an 1840 Liberty Seated dollar could run upwards of a grand these days—but common sense tells me that that is a small price to pay for being in the same room as that face/hair. The reduced exposure time of one minute left so much more time to the imagination, right, right?

And I don't know where that shot at the work ethic of my fellow Americans came from, though I have been watching a lot of Married...With Children lately...

The War, Lucifer

Franz Von Stuck

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Rape is already being used as a weapon of war, with doctors finding Viagra and condoms in the pockets of dead soldiers.

Libyan Woman Reportedly Sued By Her Rapists

Musa Ibrahim, a spokesman for the Libyan government, "expressed frustration" that he keeps being asked about Iman Obeidi, the woman who burst into a Tripoli hotel Saturday shouting about being gang-raped by Qaddafi thugs. But maybe that's because he's already expended so much energy lying about what happened to her.

First Ibrahim told reporters Obeidi was drunk and mentally ill. The same day he changed his story to say she was neither. By Sunday she was a whore and a thief. (A state TV announcer echoed that, calling her a "whore" who is "filled with hatred for her country"). Ibrahim also said she was free and back with her family; her family says she's still being held hostage on Qaddafi's compound, and that they've gotten calls trying to enlist them in changing her story.

So we'll take the latest statement from Ibrahim with a grain of salt. Today he told reporters that some of the men accused of raping Obeidi were suing her. Here are Ibrahim's own words:

"Oh, yeah, they have filed a case," the spokesman, Musa Ibrahim said. "The boys who she accused of rape are bringing a case because it is a very grave offense to accuse someone of a sexual crime."

Grave, indeed. As Time points out, while Obeidi's case is unusually public, prosecuting victims is a sadly common affair in Libya, citing a 2006 Human Rights Watch report saying the country discourages "rape victims from seeking justice by presenting the threat of prosecution of the victims themselves." And as the above report from Al Jazeera chillingly suggests, rape is already being used as a weapon of war, with doctors finding Viagra and condoms in the pockets of dead soldiers.

Obeidi's mother told Time "with a certain pride" that "Iman did not fear. Gaddafi is a butcher and a criminal." And to Al Jazeera: "I don't feel ashamed. Instead my head is up high," the mother told al-Jazeera, saying her daughter "broke the barrier that no other man could break."

Charles Clover, the Financial Times reporter who was wrestled to the ground and kicked out of the country for previous coverage, wrote about the breaking of that barrier:

All the careful efforts of the Libyan government to nurture their parallel reality were demolished that day. The hired mobs, the theatrical set pieces designed for foreign press consumption, and the alleged civilian casualties of the allied air campaign for which we have been shown little evidence – they all came crashing down, because of one woman's bravery and desperation."


Franz Von Stuck

New favorite artist, discovered in Berlin

Frans Von Stuck

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Monday, March 28, 2011


"Certain words now in our knowledge we will not use again, and we will never forget them. We need them. Like the back of the picture. Like our marrow, and the color in our veins. We shine the lantern of our sleep on them, to make sure, and there they are, trembling already for the day of witness. They will be buried with us, and rise with the rest." --Merwin
Thank you, Miranda

My friends, the forgotten

"My friends without shields walk on the target

It is late the windows are breaking

My friends without shoes leave
What they love
Grief moves among them as a fire among
Its bells
My friends without clocks turn
On the dial they turn
They part

My friends with names like gloves set out
Bare handed as they have lived
And nobody knows them
It is they that lay the wreaths at the milestones it is their
Cups that are found at the wells
And are then chained up

My friends without feet sit by the wall
Nodding to the lame orchestra
Brotherhood it says on the decorations
My friend without eyes sits in the rain smiling
With a nest of salt in his hand

My friends without fathers or houses hear
Doors opening in the darkness
Whose halls announce

Behold the smoke has come home

My friends and I have in common
The present a wax bell in a wax belfry
This message telling of
Metals this
Hunger for the sake of hunger this owl in the heart
And these hands one
For asking one for applause

My friends with nothing leave it behind
In a box
My friends without keys go out from the jails it is night
They take the same road they miss
Each other they invent the same banner in the dark
They ask their way only of sentries too proud to breathe

At dawn the stars on their flag will vanish

The water will turn up their footprints and the day will rise
Like a monument to my
Friends the forgotten."

-W.S. Merwin

Audrey Monday says, "Hello, I am your deepest dream."


I turned the corner, saw this and almost passed out. I had forgotten it was at the Pinakothek in Munich.

Dancing it up all over Germany

"We are not drunks, we are multimillionaires." -
-Withnail and I

Another Country bookstore, Berlin

Our favorite find.

One of the most wonderful parts of my trip to Germany, Another Country was the epitome of what a bookstore should be. Piles of books that can be lended or purchased, a monthly pot-luck and movie night featuring a projector and VHS player and a owner who clearly breathes literature. Surrounded by half empty wine bottles, a section titled "Evil Books" and dust-filled air, it is people like Sophie that make me love the world all the more. This bookstore was magic.

"Evil Books" section

Marienplatz, Munich


Germany/Austria highlights



Residenz, Munich

Berliner Dom Cathedral

Salzburg, Swiss Alps

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Monica Bird

"Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes. She has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag.She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she finds the book she wants. You see the weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a second hand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow.

She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.

Buy her another cup of coffee.

Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.

It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas and for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry, in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.

She has to give it a shot somehow.

Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.

Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who understand that all things will come to end. That you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilightseries.

If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.

You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.

Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.

Or better yet, date a girl who writes."

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Horrors of Sleep

Sleep brings no joy to me.
Remembrance never dies.
My soul is given to mystery,
And lives in sighs.

Sleep brings no rest to me;
The shadows of the dead
My wakening eyes may never see
Surround my bed.

Sleep brings no hope to me,
In soundest sleep they come,
And with their doleful imag'ry
Deepen the gloom.

Sleep brings no strength to me,
No power renewed to brave;
I only sail a wilder sea,
A darker wave.

Sleep brings no friend to me
to soothe and aid to bear;
They all gaze on, how scornfully,
And I despair.

Sleep brings no wish to fret
My harrassed heart beneath;
My only wish is to forget
In endless sleep of death.

-Emily Bronte

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Thistles and Weeds

Spare me your judgements and spare me your dreams
Cause recently mine have been tearing my seams
I sit alone in this winter clarity which clouds my mind
Alone in the wind and the rain you left me
It's getting dark darling, too dark to see
And I'm on my knees, and your faith in shreds, it seems

And I'm on my knees and the water creeps to my chest

But plant your hope with good seeds
Don't cover yourself with thistle and weeds

Rain down, rain down on me

Look over your hills and be still
The sky above us shoots to kill
Rain down, rain down on me

But I will hold on
I will hold on hope

I begged you to hear me, there's more than flesh and bones
Let the dead bury the dead, they will come out in droves
But take the spade from my hands and fill in the holes you've made

Rain down, rain down on me

-Mumford and Sons

"Rip the earth in two with your mind..."

But I gave you all

And you rip it from my hands
And you swear it's all gone
And you rip out all I have
Just to say that you've won

Well now you've won.

-Mumford and Sons

Daphne du Maurier's words bring gown to life

Dress made from pages of novel Rebecca goes on show at oldest continuously inhabited house in England

Michael Howells, the head designer at Ballet Rambert, has created a gown which is made from pages of Daphne du Maurier's novel Rebecca. Photograph: Port Eliot

The head designer at the Ballet Rambert, Michael Howells, has designed a spectacular gown, which visitors to Port Eliot, the oldest continuously inhabited house in England, will discover is made entirely from hundreds of pages of Daphne du Maurier's classic, Rebecca.

The slightly eerie room set is intended to evoke the night of the costume ball in that other Cornish mansion, Manderley. Port Eliot, which was partly remodelled by Sir John Soane, in a garden by Humphrey Repton that involved moving a river, claims continuous occupation at least since 937 AD, when Augustinian monks moved there, and has been the home of the St Germans family for the last 500 years.

It admitted the public for the first time only in 2008, and now opens for 100 days each year, partly to allow access to a remarkable collection of family portraits. The Manderley scene is in the Big Dining Room, never used for meals, not least because it is so far from the kitchens that all food would be icy when served.

Chanel - Apocalypse Now

PARIS — With a show that was dark and dramatic, but also strangely romantic, Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel ignited the autumn 2011 fashion season. The incendiary moment included smoke belching out of what looked like volcanic ash, while ghostly shadows of winter trees were reflected on the walls.

At first it seemed like an apocalyptic vision of the world and of fashion as the models trudged the wood runway apparently lined with hot coals. Far from the bourgeois Parisian world of Chanel’s Rue Cambon, the iconic tweed jackets were cropped breast high and worn over roomy jackets and pants, including dark shaded jeans.

A mannish, haute boiler suit look ran through the collection — but for evening, this down-and-dirty style was made up in fabrics that were the antithesis of that factory concept: layers of satin, lace, gazar and other couture materials. At night, at least for some of the time, the stout walking boots were replaced by low-heeled court shoes.

What did it all mean?

Mr. Lagerfeld seemed to have caught the end-of-an-era melancholy of this troubled fashion season. But he had a less dark explanation for the forest: memories of his Hamburg childhood, of the poetry of Paul Verlaine and of Fritz Lang films.

“It is the right thing for the period. I did richness with the Byzantium collection and I was tired of bright colors. And it is not black, but gray,” said the designer, who himself was dressed head to toe in smoky colors.

The collection was not entirely dark. It had a dab of forest green and red at the inside of a tweed cape, as though embers were glowing. Sparkly surfaces also lighted up the clothes, as though erupting from the heart of darkness.

It was a somber, but perhaps visionary, Chanel show from Mr. Lagerfeld, who seemed to have captured more powerfully than any other designer this turbulent, unsettling fashion moment

The Yves Saint Laurent show was on a more upbeat note. It is a happy coincidence that the designer Stefano Pilati hit a high dynamic note of austerity chic just as the YSL foundation has opened an exhibition on the Rive Gauche, or Left Bank, style that was invented at the end of the 1960s.

Mr. Pilati produced a sharp, smart collection that was definitely on the right bank of the River Seine, which is where the fashion action now is. The rigorous clothes, with that touch of priestly perversity, as in a Federico Fellini movie, made for a streamlined and sensual wardrobe for a modern woman.

The strength of the show was in its day wear. The tailoring had the same boyish look as the models, with their sleek hair, while the brief, low-buttoned jackets in Prince of Wales check with a kicky pleated skirt was the essence of masculine/feminine style.

Geometry was the story, as Mr. Pilati twirled a compass to create rounded shapes for a soft white satin blouse, fur sleeves or a cape-back coat, while the check pattern and the overall cut was drawn with a square. The subtle balance included gilt chains worked as belts, pockets and as a teasing pair of straps holding up one of the snow white evening outfits, where the bodice was cut with twin rounded curves.

Mr. Pilati seems to have channeled the YSL spirit through Helmut Newton images to inject sexual tension into regular clothes. Although this collection plucked a few elements from the designer’s glory years — say, 1970s culottes or the famous parakeet-green fur chubby, made over in white feathers.

There was no attempt to recreate the juicy, romantic and artistic palette that was once the house signature. Just a single papal purple coat and royal blue for a dress and the hem of a skirt broke the monochrome color. But if Mr. Pilati chose to draw his vision of Saint Laurent in black and white, he couldn’t have done it better.

It was not exactly royal wedding fever at Valentino , but the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton next month and Prince Albert of Monaco and Charlene Wittstock in July are affecting the fashion house.

“We have done a year’s business in six weeks — with young clients and with the princesses coming back,” said the brand’s chief executive, Stefano Stassi, referring to the success of January’s couture collection with the European royalty whom Valentino used to dress.

The new confidence showed in the work of Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli, who said backstage that they wanted to soften up the daytime tailoring by using double-faced cashmere to make a suit or coat dress as soft as a cardigan. But on the runway, the tailored pieces were planted with studs to sharpen up the look.

The duo’s interesting angle on embellishment was to modernize it as digitally printed lace on a plaid dress — or actual slithers of lace inserted in a leather skirt.

There were not too many surprises, except in the palette, where the familiar cappuccino of the early pieces moved into darker tones of Bordeaux and teal and then, for evening clothes, “off” colors like lichen green.

One might wish that the design duo would show a mad streak. But their faint dashes of daring were just the meld of a rose-embellished blouse with a feather skirt or visible bra tops, which are yesterday’s trend.

Yet this line now offers a Valentino style genuinely refreshed for a new generation — but with plenty to lure back faithful former customers.

I recently read "Prostitution in London" and here is what I thought:

Image from John Thomas' The Crawlers series

In Bracebridge Hemyng’s account of prostitution in London, we find a thorough albeit emotionally lacking insight into the motivation, mindset and outcome of the oldest profession in the world. At the time of Hemyng’s analysis, it was estimated that over 80,000 prostitutes working in the metropolis. Very early in the reading he makes his personal opinion, which is stated as fact, known by saying, “Literally every woman who yields to her passion and loses her virtue is a prostitute, but many draw a distinction between those who live by promiscuous intercourse, and those who confine themselves to one man.” Although the law does not care to persecute women who are living with a man out of wedlock, Hemyng makes a direct correlation between living unmarried with a lover and prostitution. Thus, the misogynistic barrage upon the female in his text begins.

Although misogyny was generally part and parcel to being a Victorian male, Hemyng’s commentary gives us a particularly scathing peek into the chauvinist mind. In his attempt to disclose and unveil the inner workings of those living such a “debauched” life, he tells the reader, “The harlot’s progress is short and rapid, and that there is no possible advance, moral or physical; and that once abandoned she must always be profligate.” Hemyng presents his thoughts in a manner that frames his work around the desire for improvement of the social and economic issues engendered to such a profession, yet simultaneously damns all those affiliated with it forever. In Hemyng’s mind there is no hope of redemption or elevation from such a life once it has commenced and these women, with their initial purity gone, are marred eternally. Even in Hemyng’s attempt to present an unbiased and official account, his vocabulary gives his prejudice away. He uses words like “vagrant amours,” he calls the women “harlots” and “low and cheap.” Hemyng tells the women he has no religious agenda and is merely curious then flays them with his moralistic commentary.

He does occasionally feign sympathy; usually while pouring alcohol into a glass to facilitate a more candid interview with a woman who is clearly pained by the deeply personal subject matter being discussed. This trite tenderness enables the women to open up to him, only to have her life’s history exploited and rebuked in his actual retelling of her tale. Hemyng does admit to women being “broken” and “conquered” by those seeking to forcibly place them into prostitution but there is no further admittance outside of acknowledging that their situation is unfortunate. Hemyng offers no empathy or understanding of their current situation, frequently bringing up the women’s addictions and reliance on alcohol. Alcohol is used to invariably numb the ache of their lives, emotional as well as physical. The degradation to which these women must submit themselves to on a sometimes hourly basis would put the need for alcohol into perspective for anyone remotely perceptive, but miraculously for Hemyng, who is seemingly void of true understand for the women he stalks down, he remains unaffected.

Hemyng’s voyeuristic text not only solidifies the male driven opinion of these “lost” women while salaciously glorifying the perverse appeal of their vocation but in what could have been an important social commentary on the vast need for improvement in London’s working class society, we see a disgusting ledger of abuses against women that not only vilify the victims but proliferate the problem.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

I got a little nostalgic and dug up one of my favorite old photos from high school.

Making fun of Jessica Simpson never looked so good.

Beauty and the Beast

Eva May in The Count of Charolais

Kiarash Zarezadeh

"I support abortions. I love NPR. I adore riding trains.

And I believe all of them don’t deserve federal funding.

My positions put me at odds with many of my friends and colleagues. The conservatives often find my pro-abortion-rights, green viewpoints either immoral or alarmist. The liberals don’t understand how I could be against programs that enrich lives and help the needy.

It’s simple: I put my principles before my preferences.

A woman’s right to choose what happens inside her body is sacred to me, just as sacred as a religious man’s God is to him. I firmly believe clinics in America should be free to terminate pregnancies without being intimidated or punished. That’s pretty straightforward.
But I don’t believe my fellow Americans who find the practice barbaric or immoral should be forced to pay for abortions. It hardly seems fair to say, “Hands off women’s bodies, but pay for anything they want to do with them.”

So when my best friend expressed revulsion at The Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act, which cuts funding for family-planning programs that perform abortions, I had to speak up. I understand Planned Parenthood’s annual budget costs less than a few fighter jets. I understand Planned Parenthood performs important services that help the community. But no one should be forced to pay for it.

And no one should be forced to pay for radio, no matter how good the programming is.
If it weren’t for NPR, my drives to Dayton, Chicago and Goshen, Ind., would be a drab nightmare. Instead, I’m treated to “This American Life,” “Car Talk,” “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me,” “Talk of the Nation” and “Fresh Air.” Well, maybe not “Fresh Air,” which ironically can be quite stale at times.

Needless to say, I’m a huge NPR fan. I contribute during the funding drives and would be devastated if my favorite programs went off the air.

And that made speaking against NPR painful, but it was necessary. Dozens of my friends posted “save NPR” links on their Facebook pages, which apparently is the thing to do when you care enough to demonstrate outrage but don’t care enough to actually contact your representative or donate money. And I responded to each one, “NPR is state-controlled media. We shouldn’t pay for it with taxpayer money.”

The most common reaction I received was, “Federal funds only pay for 5 percent of NPR’s budget.” Really? Then step up private funding by 5 percent and be done with it.
NPR has some of the most rabid and loyal fans in radio. They certainly would listen through commercials or donate more to keep their favorite shows alive. Would we accept the federal-funding setup if it were a newspaper? Would you read a newspaper printed by the government?
And switching gears from high demand to low demand, Ohio seems to be all right with passing on high-speed rail. My pals in California won’t let me forget it. I’m told we’re a backward state and asked why I don’t return West. I remind my friends they’re a bankrupt state and I have a job.

But sure, I’d love to hop on a train from Lima to Cleveland. I’m a New Yorker by birth and was riding subway trains before I could walk. I like reading a book on my trip, meeting other passengers, and watching the scenery without gripping a steering wheel. But when the price of train ticket costs more than a tank of gas and too few people are interested in riding the rails, train investment won’t pay off. If it would, I guarantee Amtrak would be expanding routes and cramming cars full of riders. Ohio remains a state dotted with small communities and few long-distance commuters. How rail fits into the equation is beyond me.

Again, I like trains. I don’t think all of America should be forced to like them, too.

It’s all about choices. On the points where we disagree, it’s best let each person go his or her own way. Otherwise, we end up viciously dragging one another around."

A Ring

"At this moment
this earth which for all we know

is the only place in the vault of darkness
with life on it is wound in a fine veil

of whispered voices griping the frayed waves
of absence they keep flaring up

out of hope entwined with its opposite
to wander in ignorance as we do

when we look for what we have lost
lone moment touching the earth and the nest

straying far out past the orbits and webs
and the static of knowledge they go on

without being able to tell whether
they are addressing the past or the future

or knowing there they are heard these words
of the living talking to the dead."