Monday, January 28, 2013

HP etceteras

The Knipe house gets a roof.  Here's a recent article about it at Vanishing Phoenix, a great but ultimately totally depressing historic preservation blog.

I noticed this 1914 architectural watercolor of the Monroe School hanging askew in the Kenilworth School basement during my tour of their archive last year.  No one at Kenilworth seemed to know or care what it was, so after a few months of emails, I was able to pick it up to take over to Monroe.  I don't really think they care either.  DAMN IT.  Doesn't anyone ever care about anything important?  Anyway, it will be home, at least.  I just hope they re-frame it.  This photo also features me and my favorite show, Rehab Addict.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

I feel that there is a need for blogs about feminist humor, and also, about coping with it.  Partly because of how the concept is perceived by outsiders (NON FEMINISTS), and the stupid mirth and also confusion that happens when you are paying a lot of attention to anything.

Sometimes I say something and I'm like, Wait, Jesus Christ I'm offending myself.  I need a place to record my confusion about these moments.  The other day I referred to my mother's really-elderly neighbor as "the slut upstairs" and it was so funny.  Was this wrong?

Or, is this song offensive?  Is this social commentary or Lolita fetishization?  Because I enjoy it.  Should I feel smug, or guilty?  TBD.

My friend Anita and I spent all of Thanksgiving riding around in cars in New Mexico with men (Kaveh), listening to NPR and saying WHY AREN'T THERE MORE WOMEN IN THIS SHOW!  THE PATRIARCHY IS AT IT AGAIN.  I TOLD YOU ABOUT THEM.  etc.  It is funny, but am I making jokes because society makes me feel that I should humorously attack my people? Or is it just funny?  Seriously, this is dissertation material.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

EAP's birthday, again

In honor of Poe's birthday, I have looked at the internet for evidence of Poe in the news. 

I should like to go to there: The Chamber Music Society of Mississauga is putting on an evening of "dramatic music" interspersed with various readings of Poe in honor of his birthday.  How nice. 

Secondly, a reader of the Baltimore Sun only somewhat testily reminds the paper that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle did not invent crime fiction.  "Perhaps you have heard of Edgar Allan Poe?"  Thank you, reader. Isn't everyone so stupid? 

I would point out again how cute the Poe Museum's website is.  Here is their schedule for Poe's 204th birthday party:

Noon: Guided Tour of Poe Museum
12:30: Performance of “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Jamie Ebersole
1:00: Lecture on the 170th Anniversary of ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ by Poe Museum’s Curator
2:00: Guided Walking tour of neighborhood Poe sites by author of Edgar Allan Poe’s Richmond
3:00: Poe’s Loves Face-Off (Sarah Helen Whitman, Virginia Poe, and Elmira Royster)
4:00: Guided Tour of the Poe Museum
4:30: Birthday Cake with Poe’s Cousin, Dr. Harry Lee Poe
5:00: Multilingual Reading of “The Raven”
5:30: Performance direct from London by English actor Tony Parkin
6:00: Guided Tour of Poe Museum
7:00: Poe Trivia Showdown
8:00: Guided Walking Tour of Neighborhood Poe Sites with Sarah Helen Whitman
9:00: Live Music by The Blue and the Grey
10:00: Guided Tour of the Poe Museum
11:00: Victorian Seance with Poe’s Fiancee Sarah Helen Whitman
Midnight: Champagne Toast to Poe

It seems like a pretty good event aside from the face-off of actresses portraying his exes.  Yuck.  I hate living history performances, but if they must do it, why don't they have a Fanny Osgood?  She was the most famous lady in his stable.  The seance turns me a little green as well.  Can't please everyone, meaning me.

John Evangelist Walsh wrote a couple of books about Poe which I think are worth reading if you care.  Midnight Dreary is an account of the last months of Poe's life which includes a very convincing hypothesis of the circumstances that resulted in his mysterious death.  Because Poe had a reputation for terrible binge drinking, his sudden death was shrugged off as the result of an impulsive bender, however there are many details that would indicate that this is either not the case or not the whole case.  Plumes in the Dust is an account of Poe's affair with famous lady writer Fanny Osgood, who allegedly bore his child.  Both are recommendable.

Friday, January 18, 2013

I came across this old picture of Arthur, my grandmother's "disgusting" Chesapeake Bay Retriever, and laughed.  This corpulent and sad-eyed dog was a confusion for me as a child, because he was the first un-fun dog I had ever known.  Arthur spent his days looming moodily in the backyard or lumbering unpredictably through the house, knocking over children and tripping my grandmother.  She was forever treating him for fleas and ticks, which involved a hand-administered "dip," so that he always exuded a rank, chemical smell, and his rumpled coat left a sheen of poison powder on the hands.  She would always say, "Oh, don't touch him, honey. Now go wash your hands."  Poor Arthur.

My grandma sometimes made up songs about him, most of which were about how awful and pathetic he was, that she would sing as she went about her day.  It was funny because it was true, but also because we knew that she secretly loved him but would never admit it.  She often traded in the uncharitable but ultimately affectionate brand of humor that I enjoy.  She always started the song I remember with a jaunty, "Oh..." the memory of which cracks me up any time I'm reminded of it.

Thank god someone took this picture of him.  

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Nick Cave

Not responsible for how this video may change your life.

& something for the older crowd.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Tenement Museum

One of my favorite museums that I have not yet visited is the Tenement Museum in Manhattan.  It's a Civil War-era multi-family, well, tenement, that housed immigrant families for generations.  I love the mission, I love the interpretation, I love the marketing, I love the blog, I love this museum.  The way they found the building and what it turned out to be is like a fairy tale to me.  A total time-capsule, almost untouched for decades, loaded with clues and small items lost to history and found again under floorboards and inside walls and fireplaces.
You know what else I love?  While parts of the museum have been restored to various moments of the 19th and early 20th century, replicating the domiciles of people who actually lived there, other sections of the museum have been left in the state of decay that I presume they were in when the organization moved into the building.  They've been preserved to prevent further deterioration, but that's it.  I LOVE that.  I love ruins.  Why?  Who cares.  Check it out.

Yeah!  That!

Innovative Conservation at 97 Orchard

The idea of living in a large beehive of a city crammed with people and activity makes me feel anxious.  I have no starry-eyed desire for New York, and one of the only things that could possibly change my mind about that is this very museum.  It engages at least three of my Main Themes of Interest!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

I listened to Lau's Twin Peaks/Christmas playlist on 8tracks and suddenly remembered driving home from LA in the middle of the night, once, a very long time ago.

My car had a tape deck, and I flipped the tape over and over so I could listen to the same few songs from the Twin Peaks soundtrack.  It was hypnotic in the dark with nothing but faint green dash lights, a few feet of lit road, and stars glinting in the edge of my vision.  It was the prettiest sense of isolation ever. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013


I've mentioned it before, but I'm still concerned about letter writing.

It seems worthless or pointless or both to voice a concern about something that is inevitable, and already done.  Worrying about the internet's erosion of communication styles is not unlike now-amusing comments of concern and distaste made by people who just couldn't get on board with the electric light.  But what if it's emitting something?  And it makes the furniture look so ugly! 

No one writes letters but the very old and the very twee.  What will happen with emails?  Will there ever be publications of collected emails by cherished writers?

Emailing is so informal.  Sometimes that's a good thing, but upon reading a structured letter, I feel that I am missing out on writing them.  I have exchanged thousands and THOUSANDS of emails with my best friend over the last however many years, and while we both occasionally make the effort to write well or at least memorably, I am physically perceiving the missed potential.  Although you almost can't fail at letter writing, no matter who you are.  From Truman Capote writing to his society bitches from Capri to my grandma's older brother writing from a French battlefield in WWII, the little dispatches seem to be the perfect vehicle for being clever.  After a paragraph of complaints about his living conditions, the brother said, "Ah, c'est la krieg."  I thought it was the wittiest thing I had ever seen. 

Anyway, this latest twinge of concern was inspired by my amusement at the conclusion of a letter from Groucho Marx to Dick Cavett:

Well, Richard (I’d say “Dick” but my secretary is a spinster), I’m running out of things to say. And they should be running out of me. Anyway, good-bye ’til hell freezes over. And if you’ve read this far, there’s something wrong with you.

Perhaps the real problem here is not so much that we are not writing on paper, but rather who is doing the writing.  Groucho is dead and I can hardly bear to say it, but Dick is getting old.  The best, most interesting and amusing people are made of diverse interests and varied knowledge.  Renaissance people, if you wanted to use a tired phrase.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

New Mexico

Late fall afternoon at Coronado State Monument, New Mexico

Pueblo walls melting away

The Rio Grande is so spectacular amid fall shades and hot autumn light

An excellent docent took us down into a kiva in the Kuaua ruin area.  It was excavated by the WPA in the 1930s.  Most of the kivas were reburied after excavation and study, because the best way to preserve something is to hide it in the ground.  To get into the kiva, you climb onto a platform and then lower yourself 15 feet into the ground by ladder.  The space is dark, with round earthen walls, and a scent that I have never smelled before.  It smelled like wet dirt, with a hint of something aromatic, perfumed.  The kiva probably dates to the 13th century or so.

The kiva at Kuaua is one of, or perhaps the only known kiva to have wall paintings.  They depict men and women interacting with gods, animals, each other.  There are no photos allowed in the kiva, because it's a holy place, and descendants of the people who built it want some element of the sanctity to be preserved.

It felt different inside.  There was a sense of pause and feeling of quiet such that I didn't want to talk in there, and I didn't want anyone else to either.

& then there's this

Thursday, January 3, 2013


Is the greatest thing I have ever seen.

A 1927 travel trailer prototype built by one crazy guy and restored by another one.  Read about it here.  It's...perfect.