26 February 2010


YOGA TOES: I'm feeling very grateful for yoga this week. We take a regular restorative hatha yoga class, and I am constantly amazed at how such a gentle practice challenges, strengthens, centers, and opens me. It's a great class: people are serious and committed but low-key, and there's no jockeying for a spot and no 'yoga' clothing. One man brings lemons from his tree, and I've brought lemon bars and lemon shortbread made from them to share, and people came to see my "Catching The Sun" show, but the class is too small to be cliquish. And I love our teacher Erin, who really thinks about and explains the poses, how we progress through them, why we are doing them, how they should feel, and how we can ease or extend them. And I really appreciate taking the class with David: as something to share, and also for the place I am for the yoga.

But my feet get cold in class (this is NOT bikram!) and I've seen some special yoga socks--anyone have recommendations???

THE PLOT THICKENS: Week Two at the community garden plot. I know you can barely see the little lettuce and greens sprouts, but I get a certain frisson...from germinating frisée. And one of the fun things about lettuces is how fast they sprout. I'm glad these older seeds are still viable, and I'm very happy with my cage and screen: when I've stopped by the birds have been voraciously partaking of the garden buffet in other plots, and my seeds have been undisturbed by them or our heavy rains (but nicely damp).

18 PANCHAN: I love, love, love Korean food, and one of the ways I judge Korean restaurants is by the quality and generosity of panchan, the little tastes that come with and are incorporated into every meal. Our favorite place in the Bay Area is Ohgane in Oakland, and I just had to share this quick pic of...18 panchan! That's the most I've ever been served anywhere, including there, and every single one--including the scary little fishies--was the tastiest, freshest morsel of goodness!

25 February 2010


Recess isn’t just for kids anymore...

If you’ve ever walked through the parking lot at Oakland’s Rockridge Bart late on a Thursday night, you may have seen a group of raucous twenty and thirty somethings yelling and drinking beer. They’re not a bunch of hooligans. They are out there playing a friendly game of four square. Reporter Dara Kerr joins them for a round.

* * *

DARA KERR: We’re here under the Rockridge Bart train. The parking lot’s lights dimly shine down on the friends and strangers who’ve gathered here to play. Even though it’s chilly outside, most are warmed up and sweating. Four square is pretty simple, it has four people, four squares and one ball. So the players add rules to make things interesting. Sometimes everyone has to jump up and down, dance or spin in circles to get dizzy. Player Uriah Finley says a popular rule is to call categories.

URIAH FINLEY: People will call countries in the world, types of bird, things that live
under the sea, breakfast cereals, Saturday morning cartoons. And basically whenever you
hit it you have to call out one of said things.

Finley joined this weekly four square game when it started a year and a half ago.

FINLEY: Mostly it’s a good fun-based game but there’s definitely some skills
involved and finesse and style. There’s just a lot of tricks. Um, Lee’s kinda the trick shot
guy, he’s standing right there. Hey, Lee!

He’s calling to Lee Bothwick.

LEE BOTHWICK: My favorite shots are the ones where it comes to me and I kinda like
let it slide off my fingers and it gets a little spin on it. Hopefully away from the player
you’re hitting it to, so they have to run after it and look really silly. You can hit it really
hard, that’s always cool.

These guys say that four square fits into something called the urban playground movement. The movement comes from this idea—as adults we’re missing out on something. Kids walk onto a playground and can befriend anyone with a ball, sidewalk chalk or a jump rope. As grown-ups we often limit ourselves—we hang out only with people we know, commute in silence and socialize online. But not these guys. Sam Wong founded the Rockridge Bart game.

SAM WONG: I would say that the community that’s been built up here really is one of
welcome and inclusion and of silliness.

Now, urban playground groups are organizing games all over the Bay Area. They play capture the flag at Oakland City Hall, have pillow fights by San Francisco’s Ferry building and play Four square at the Bart station. They say that taking over these adult spaces brings back the spontaneity of the playground… but without bullies.

TRAVIS MUNN: A lot of us are now friends outside of four square; it’s been a good way
to meet people, you know it’s not an easy thing to meet people these days.

Travis Munn comes almost every week to play and has seen what four square can do for people’s social lives.

MUNN: There’s definitely been some four square romances. Actually, now
that I think about it, like half the friends that I hang out with now are all four square friends. Who knew?

From his square, Finley adds another benefit.

FINLEY: It’s free, that’s definitely a big plus and I think in today’s world,
that’s a factor.

Anyone can join in and between five and thirty people show up to play every week. And, that’s just in Oakland. In cities all over the U.S. people are playing four square in public places. Some are even getting competitive. In fact, there’s even a four square world championship which takes place on February 27th in Bridgton, Maine. Player Sam Wong.

WONG: I don’t think that any of the Cali cats have been able to put together the money or the will-power to go all the way to Maine in the middle of winter to play four square. It’s a dream though, it’s a dream. We do want to go to nationals.

If they don’t make it to Maine, they can be found at the Rockridge Bart parking lot, every Thursday night at 9pm.

Reporting from Oakland, I’m Dara Kerr for Cross Currents.

By Dara Kerr on Wednesday, Feb 24, 7:34pm

24 February 2010


Our dearest friends are going through one of the hardest things I can imagine: not just losing your best canine friend, but also having had to make the decision of when it was best for him to go. And our hearts are with them.

Sailor was an amazingly sweet and beautiful dog, especially because it was clear he had such a hard life before he was lucky enough to be adopted by, and Dena and Russell were lucky enough to find him six years ago.

Two years ago, their vet told them the unimaginable: that Sailor was very sick and probably only had weeks or months to live. And yet, two years later he was still here in body and spirit . But it was clear he was incredibly frail, his quality of life was gone, and almost all of things he enjoyed in life were in the past. And Dena and Russell had to decide to say goodbye out of love and compassion. He had blossomed and loved living with them, but it was so clear that they made the right decision at the right time.

I am so grateful to them and him to have been included in his life, and that we got to see him happy after his move north and recently to say goodbye.

Some of the sweet and funny ways I will always remember Sailor:

Breathing heavily from playing fetch and fighting off sleepy eyes...

On alert for strange human behavior...


And sleeping soundly on the floor (and on the sofa, and on the bed...)

23 February 2010


I have another piece in another show: I created the hand-made book,"the seasons of point reyes" for the 2010 Wild Book Show on exhibit at Gallery Route One in West Marin through March 28th. The Wild Book Show was created by our friends Steve Costa and Kate Levinson at Point Reyes Books as a fundraiser for G.R.O.'s Artists in the Schools program.

This is the most recent in a series of handmade books I've created using my words and photographs; I'll do some short posts on some of the previous ones soon. The theme for this year was "Rain or Shine: The Atmosphere," and I decided to focus on the seasons and what created their distinctive weather patterns of wind, fog, sun, and rain. The design concept arose from one picture of Schooner Bay off of Drakes Bay that seemed to include all the seasons in one image; I used that on the frontispieces with windows cut into the cover showing different types of weather. From there I decided to create windows through the pages to tell the story. Here's a quick video walk-through:

These are some photos from the exhibit opening this past Sunday; there are many beautiful books to see if you happen to be up that way, and bids can be placed any time in person or by phone or email for the silent auction closing on March 28th.

19 February 2010

HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR! (on Chinese time :-P )

A quick, belated Lunar New Year greeting i finally put together today (click on the image to enlarge):

18 February 2010


After three years on a waiting list, I finally got a plot in a neighborhood community garden!  The plots in this garden are small, but it's a brand new, raised bed in a nice, small, sunny garden attached to a Mission District mini-park a couple of blocks from me.

The other gardeners I've met are great, and small world that San Francisco is, among them is the father of David's son's brother, his partner, my ex-co-worker's ex-roommate, and a participant in a green planning "salon" that I once moderated.


My plan is to grow vegetables that need more room, sun, warmth, and soil in my garden plot, and keep growing lettuces, greens, and herbs in my kitchen and back porch windowboxes.  

That said, in this cooler weather I decided to do a first crop of lettuces and greens in my new bed, using up half-used packets of seeds, and overseeding because germination may be lower because the seeds are older.

Lettuce and greens seeds are planted very shallow, so I decided to build a cage to protect them from the many birds in the park.  I can keep it on while the seedlings are small, and re-use it for any sowings or small transplants.  I used wire snips to cut and shape the cage from 4-foot width chicken wire.

I also attached some screening to the top of the cage, to diffuse the heavy rain we're expecting, so the seeds wouldn't wash away.  And I can leave it on as a shade cloth for the tender lettuces. 

One of the longtime gardeners clued me in to the snails that like to hide out under the top edges of the beds, so I decided to staple some copper strapping over the outer edges; the theory is that the small electrical charge in the copper deters snails and slugs.  The strapping is much cheaper than the copper tape sold for this purpose.

It felt good to be digging in the dirt again, building things, and planting. Stay tuned as the plot thickens...I'm hoping to document here the growing, harvesting, cooking, and eating of vegetables from the garden. 

17 February 2010


No, not a post about cross-country skiing, but our recent adventures with absinthe. You know, that anise-flavored, wormwood-derived drink that supposedly made madmen of Wilde, Rimbaud, Verlaine, et al (wait--does its moniker as the "the green fairy" have a different meaning? :-P ).

After my recent photography opening, we went with Donna and Dan to Flora, a hip spot with a great room, food, drinks, and staff in a restored Deco building in Uptown Oakland.  As we toasted at the bar, I noticed this beautiful, Art Nouveau absinthe "fountain," and long story short, with just one drink shared amongst us four we ended up with numb arms and legs.  Did you know that absinthe can be up to 74% alcohol?  I swear even smelling the drink made me intoxicated...

But it was tasty and fun, with a special presentation and equipment, including ice water, a fountain, sugar, and a filigreed sugar spoon, as you can see in this quick vid I shot at Flora:

P.S.  Do you know what makes absinthe a spirit and not a liqueur?

15 February 2010


Cortt, the great owner of Awaken Cafe, took some fotos at the very beginning of the opening of my photography show at Awaken on February 5th, and just forwarded them to me:

Thanks again to everyone who came out that night and those who sent long distance good wishes (and siblings!). This first one-person show, and my first juried show were both big steps for me, and your support meant everything.

12 February 2010


Last night, David and I went to help celebrate Kate Kendell, NCLR's amazing executive director, being honored by the San Francisco League of Women Voters as one of their 2010 "Women Who Could Be President."

As you probably know, Kate has led NCLR in its seminal work advocating for LGBT civil rights and equality. As usual, she made everyone teary-eyed when she spoke. And afterwards, Kate and David tried to convince a skeptical group of the merits of "The Office," and I pointed out that it's not cringe-inducing for her because she works at NCLR with so many great people like my dear friend Dena.

And since the gala was at the City Club, I got to pause and appreciate the Deco beauty of the lobby and club--it's one of my favorite spots in San Francisco. Kate and I were talking about how it's classically San Francisco: this old, WASPY, men's business club that's now led and used by members who are women or LGBT or people of color.

11 February 2010


I was very sad to find out yesterday that the
Carnelian Room, the restaurant and bar on the 52nd floor of San Francisco's Bank of America Building, had finally closed on January 1st of this year.

I remember going there as a little kid with my parents on my very first visit to San Francisco, not long after the building opened in 1969, and falling asleep at cocktail hour because of the time difference between here and the East Coast.

Reading that the Carnelian Room's close was imminent, David and I decided to go for cocktails this past September on our anniversary, before an as-always perfect, celebratory dinner at Delfina. It was a beautiful evening and a great way to start the evening. The decor, staff, menu, and cocktails seemed unchanged since my first visit, which helped to explain the plans to close and the primarily-tourist crowd, but it was also slower-paced, retro, and with service that was comfortably clubby: you expected to see Karl Malden and Michael Douglas shooting a "Streets of San Francisco" chase scene when we peered down into the city streets.

Anyway, it was a beautiful evening and we're very glad we got to enjoy it once more before they closed the doors. And here are a couple of quick snaps from that evening.

P.S. Know why it was called the Carnelian Room?

10 February 2010


Three of my photographs were also chosen by Ken Baker, art critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, for inclusion in Gallery Route One's 2010 Annual Juried Show. The show is up through this Sunday, February 14th.

I had a great conversation with Ken Baker at the show's opening reception on January 17th: I had submitted four pieces and he said that as he kept going through the submissions it had been impossible to eliminate any of the three photographs of mine that he had chosen in the first round, so he decided that all three had to be in the show. And that he really loved my work and my eye: my choice of subjects, my composition, and the vibrancy of the color and light. I also got kudos from other photographers and artists. Take a look at my art website to see the pieces in this show and other new work.

G.R.O is a great gallery in Point Reyes Station that does great artist-in-schools programs in West Marin, as well as great thematic group shows. They have a great annual "Wild Book Show" of environmentally-themed, handmade books that is a fundraiser for their school programs; I've participated in the past and I'm planning on creating a book again this year.

09 February 2010


So how ironic is it that my first one-man photography show was just unveiled, and I forgot to take any pics at the opening reception?! I had every intention, but then peeps started arriving, it got crowded, and...I forgot.

But it was great! I got great support from friends and colleagues, David invited friends and patients, other artists and art lovers and hipsters from the First Friday ArtWalk came by, live jazz was played and classic r&b was spun, wine was downed and cupcakes nibbled, and one piece was purchased and three pieces are tagged for consideration.

There are ten pieces in "Chasing the Sun," including new work from New York, and the show is up at Awaken Cafe in downtown Oakland through March 3rd. Please stop by and take a look at the show; Awaken is a great cafe with great people, food, and drink. For more background on the show and my inspirations, or if you aren't in the Bay Area, take a look at the show website and my photography website. Let me know if you have any questions or are interested in any pieces.

P.S. You may have noticed that this blog was on a not-so-brief "hiatus," as they say in TVland: post-Prop 8 doldrums, and then work and life, got in the way; but there have been lots great things happening in my work, life, and art--like this show of my photographs--so I'm determined that I'll be blogging regularly again. You may notice that I may try to do it more often and more briefly just to get info, events, and images (and food!) out there. Let me know what you think (or if I'm forgetting something I promised to post...)!

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