“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” – Mother Teresa
you wake up and it’s friday. or maybe thursday, or could it already be the weekend, again? you can’t remember. the days blur together, endlessly. but you have your rituals and each day the same ~ no real differentiator. your kids’ days are more specific ~ a zoom class here, a wood project due there, an all-school gathering, take-out. and then there’s mondays when i sit in on a Cal graduate class taught by Dr. John Swartzberg, on infectious diseases and vaccinology. this is my moment of weekly structure, a ritual that marks time, but says it’s distinctly Monday, can only be that day.
time: the indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole. you take this time to think about what’s next (25%), what was (15%), and what is (60%)… of course much of what you do in the present, is gearing you towards future possibilities, and it is this luxury of learning and thinking and reflecting that you are grateful for. and sure, also, the long walks and long meals and late mornings baking, late afternoons trying new wines and new soups and salads and desserts. you are sure this wouldn’t have happened, never ever, if life was going on as usual. this little respite, this pause, you want to last… because what does tomorrow really look like? back to shopping at Crossroads and Radbird ~ your weekly stop-ins with Royal always a highlight; dinners at Kevin’s Vietnamese and Manpuku, Chez Panisse and Ramen Shop, Casa Orinda or Village Pizza. you miss this much, but can barely remember 2 months ago when you ate at all these places regularly, or imagine in two months time eating inside a restaurant again. when will it “feel safe” to partake? you’re truly not sure. it took weeks to wrap your head around take out, and even longer to drive through the bridge to Berkeley, to pick up vegetables at Chez… there’s no going back to normal, but re-imagining a new one…
“It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.” ~ Lewis Carroll
but you are sure of this: our lives have changed, dramatically. and if we’re not going back to yesterday’s normalcy, what does the future look like and feel like ~ and ~ what are the new rules of engagement? as an anthropologist, this is my expertise ~ patterns of human behavior, their role in culture and society, and how they change through time (below, a pic of me in Turkey circa 1995, when i wanted it to be a field site, curious to understand the role of architecture and the use of public space in ancient Ephesus). Back in 1998 I wrote a masters thesis that looked at Hollywood in Britain and the effect of historical narratives on contemporary interpretations of what it means to be American. I was living in England, again, and wanted to understand everyones’ preconceptions of who i was immediately defined by my accent but not necessarily by my looks. In 2001 I completed a doctoral thesis that focused on the art world and the encounters between artists, art collectors, gallerists and audiences in understanding Caribbean identity both at home and abroad. Entitled “Jamaican Art Worlds: Encounters, Transformations, Metamorphoses,” I looked at the circulation and consumption of blackness in the art and tourist worlds. Becoming a fashion designer (in 2000) and salonniere (in 2012), I focused on local and intimate behaviors of the Bay Area ~ the interaction between fashion designer and client and who shaped whom’s tastes? Could I in fact create and thus influence what women desired, what made them feel good, based on what I liked to wear ~ fabrics and textures, silhouettes and volume, colors and juxtapositions? With the salon dinners a whole other set of questions arose ~ who would come and why? how can we cultivate connections between strangers ~ how do people want to gather? But larger questions perplexed me ~ what did people want in connecting, to take away from each interaction? what did i want? and how do i get what i want, except by creating it? In 2011 Peter Sellars sat across from me at Cafe Milano on Bancroft Way (he was in town in rehearsals fro Toni Morrison’s Desdemona) ~ and said this: “you have to imagine a world, create it, and then live in it…” which i then did, responding to this idea of Riesman’s “the lonely crowd,” based on his 1950 analysis of the changing american character. So from 2012 to 2016 I hosted 77 salon dinners in my 4th street studio, culminating in many ways in an “art of gathering” installation at YBCA in Dec 2015. Then, in 2017 I wanted a job, as in a stable one with a paycheck, and since 2017 (off and on) until the first week of March I’ve been a consulting anthropologist at Apple. I got to work on close to a dozen different projects in three different areas (two of which I can’t talk about), but my customer-facing role in retail marketing through being “guest” Head of Programming for Today at Apple asked a set of new(ish) questions ~ first, the role of art and culture in the Bay Area, who defines it, and how would Apple as a global company define it, the balance of how employees versus retail customers would interpret it~ and then, curating the 170+ sessions around the intersection of this matrix : internally ~ Apple corporate / Apple retail / myself as a consulting curator; and externally ~ customers / artists. what did people want to see, experience (and learn) in Apple retail stores in face to face encounters (versos on-line) , and specifically in the Apple Union Square flagship? I talk about it in THIS piece… Most recently, I got to spend the past 6 months working on another project in Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives which ended March 5th and left me in pursuit of questions of the role of non-profit organizations, creativity-youth-technology, and what it means to have access to education and the arts, both as makers and consumers of culture.
with everything on hold since March 17th, and all my job prospects ~ many which were greenlit early March, now cancelled or postponed, and others not, like Royal’s 17th birthday on May 4th, or today May 10th ~ Mother’s Day and Royal’s first day back at Starbucks in Orinda (!!) ~ i get to spend my time trying to understand what is happening with the effects of the coronavirus, the communication and interpretation of it, by the media for the masses ~ especially locally. this constant questioning, attempt at understanding and trying to figure out ways of moving forward, is what i do. it’s how i see the world ~ the global in the local, the larger social structure and patterns of behavior in the individual…
the graduate school class I got to sit in on ….. just ended on Monday and I am left with my Masterclasses, baking, screening, learning and continually trying to be productive until there are signs of what it makes sense for me (for many of us, really) to do next: teach, consult, design, program, write? or all of the above? below, some (more) things, I’ve been obsessed with (and excited by) in the past 40 days since my last post March 31st, 15 days after sheltering in place… today, it’s day #55 ~
Learning / Reading / Watching / Eating / Doing / Listening / Obsessing / Supporting
More Masterclasses /
in film: Shonda Rhimes (think Grey’s Anatomy/2005, Scandal/2012, or her 1991 Dartmouth commencement speech + 2016 TED talk) + Aaron Sorkin (think The West Wing/1999, the opening scene for The Newsroom “America is not the greatest country in the world anymore…”, A Few Good Men/1992, The Social Network/2010, Steve Jobs/2015, Molly’s Game/2017) + Ken Burns (The Vietnam War, The Roosevelts, Jack Johnson: Unforgivable Blackness, Jazz, The National Parks) + Ron Howard (Splash/1984, Apollo 13/1995, A Beautiful Mind/2001);
and… last night, a screening of Steve Martin’s iconic LA Story (1991) ~ remember that one?! ~ “Let’s just say I was deeply unhappy, but I didn’t know it because I was so happy all the time…” / “a kiss may not be the truth but it is what we wish were true…”
~~~ EATING / cookbooks ~~~
1. a platter of figs by david tanis / * fava bean salad with mountain ham and mint (p 18), zuppa di fagioli with rosemary oil (p 185), chicken tagging with pumpkin + chickpeas (p 283),
2. chez panisse fruit by alice waters / * pink pearl apple galette (p 14), candied citron (p 66), rocket salad with pomegranates and toasted hazelnuts (p 257)
3. market cooking by david tanis / * double-coriander sea bass ceviche (p 100), spicy asparagus stir-fry (p 121), pasta e ceci (p 221), bucatini with homemade fennel sausage (p 387)
4. a recipe for cooking by cal peternell / * agnolotti del plin in brodo with sweet peas (p 37), grilled asparagus with homemade pancetta + hazelnut salsa (p 51), corn soup with roasted red pepper and wild mushrooms (p 85)
5. bien cuit by zachary golper + peter kaminsky / * ciabatta (p 97), real bagels (p 233), basic buttermilk biscuits (p 252), candied lemon and blackberry scones (p 263)
6. mac&cheese, please! by laura werlin / * classic mac & cheese, with added bacon, baked ( p 3); truffle, cream and mushroom mac & cheese (p 42), prosciutto and pine nut mac & cheese (p 79)
7. italian slow and savory by joyce goldstein / * le virtu (farro and bean soup from abruzzo; p 32), ragu alla bolognese (p 50), farro with mushrooms + hazelnuts (p 83), farro with shrimp + spinach (p 84)
8. the newlywed table by maria zizka / * schnitzel, in a hurry (p 38); green lasagna (p. 72); manchego-paprika gougeres (p 120)
9. celebrating italy by carol field / * maccheroni con ragu alla contadina (p 129), cinghiale o maiale con polenta (p 150), hazelnut pound cake (p 216), gnocchi di zucca (p 304)
~~~ EATING / recipes ~~~
above, sesame seed “no-knead” bread / bagels / apple galette / buttermilk biscuits
- I usually make this Mark Bittman no-knead bread with kalamata olives, but last week i tried it with sesame seeds.
- First time making bagels. we had two pots of boiling water, one with molasses… so easy… and perfect, twice toasted.
- Apple galette recipe, from alice water’s In the Green Kitchen; I used a mixture of granny smith and pink ladies.
- Bien Cuit’s buttermilk biscuits, which i made twice last week, the second time trading half the butter for oil. i preferred full butter.
~~~ DOING ~~~
a bit of painting (by royal), and sculpting textile sculptures (below), a continuation of a texture series I did in 2015-2016 (here with Barbie collection for Lena Ingram + Stuart Locklear’s SAFFRON short), as well as a commissioned fabric “interpretation” of red wine profiles for Stonestreet Winery in Healdsburg 2013 (pictured below, with Guillaume + I)….
~~~ LISTENING ~~~
1. Hal Willner / go to Jeremy Shatan’s piece on Hal Willner, for clips from Hal’s “5 greatest albums” including: Lost in the Stars: The Music of Kurt Weill (1985), Adam’N’Eve by Gavin Friday (1992), Dead City Radio by William S. Burroughs (1989), Amarcord Nino Rota (1981) and Stay Awake: Various interpretations of Music from Vintage Disney Films (1988)… Hal, who was Saturday Night Live’s composer since 1980, passed away from complications caused by COVID-19, on April 7th, a day after his 64th birthday.
2. 1. John Prine / all of his albums, but especially this performance at Austin City Limits of “When I Get to Heaven” and “The Other Side of Town” and with Bonnie Raitt, singing “Angel of Montgomery” Nov 2019. John passed away April 7th 2020, to coronavirus complications.
3. Ellis Marsalis Jr, who died April 1st, also of complications from COVID-19, father of Wynton and Branford, who I mostly knew of most recently because of the Ellis Marsalis Center and Musicians Village in New Orleans which inspired some of the work I did for Apple… Here are a couple of beautiful pieces: THIS (with Mr. Rogers, honoring Ellis) and THIS “Twelve’s It.”
4. remembering how much (i still) love Keith Jarrett… 5. Max Richter live… and his Recomposed + Spring 1, Vivaldi … 6. Kronos Quartet’s Sigur Ros cover of Flugufrelsarinn ; 7. Julie Delpy’s An Ocean Apart + A Waltz for a Night and Kath Bloom’s Come Here (from Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise + Before Sunset) ; 8. Glenn Gould’s Goldberg Variations; 9. The Chemical Brothers Hanna’s Theme; 10. Brian Eno’s Ambient 1, Music for Airports
~~~~OBSESSING / websites + articles on COVID-19 ~~~
1. US Digital Response / founded by former US Deputy CTOs and tech industry veterans, including founder of Code for America’s Jennifer Pahlka, Cori Zarek, Raylene Yung and Ryan Panchadsaram ~ “USDR helps governments meet the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis by strengthening decision-making and supporting their ability to effectively deliver critical services to the public at scale.”
2. The Authoritative Source / launched by Charles Ferguson ~ comprehensive, objective, scientific facts about the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
3. March 10, 2020 / Joe Rogan + Michael Osterholm’s Conversation on The Joe Rogan Experience #1439
4. March 26, 2020 / Leslie Jamison’s “Since I Became Symptomatic” in NY Review of Books
5. April 3, 2020 / Arundhati Roy’s “The Pandemic is a Portal” in the Financial Times
6. April 23, 2020 / Orhan Pamuk’s “What the Great Pandemic Novels Teach Us” in the New York Times
7. April 23, 2020 / Olga Khazan’s “Americans are Too Optimistic to Comprehend the Coronavirus: Why Americans Didn’t See This Pandemic Coming” in The Atlantic
8. May 3, 2020 / Dave Egger’s “Flattening the Truth on Coronavirus” in the New York Times
9. May 5, 2020 / Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s “What Happened to Val Kilmer? He’s Just Starting to Figure It Out,” in the New York Times
10. May 5, 2020 / Masha Gessen’s “The Political Consequences of Loneliness and Isolation During the Pandemic” in the NEW YORKER
11. May 6, 2020 / Dr. John Swartzberg + Ed Wasserman’s “The Role of Journalism in a Global Pandemic” on UC Berkeley, Berkeley Conversations
12. May 7, 2020 / Sabrina Orah Mark’s “Fuck the Bread. The Bread Is Over.” in the PARIS REVIEW
~~~ SUPPORTING ~~~
- Creative Growth (above, from Creative Growth instagram ~ the artists from my Friday mornings in their oakland studio) / in lieu of their Beyond Trend runway show, you can WATCH their “Party in Place,” DONATE/become a member or PURCHASE art works and even two “cari borja” pieces from our collaboration…
- FeedER / founded by Berkeley author Ayelet Waldman ~ “We are nourishing our East Bay community by feeding the heroic frontline staff in our Emergency Rooms, sustaining our local restaurant community, and giving our community as a whole a way to contribute.
Every day, we purchase meals (at full price!) from local, independently-owned restaurants, which are struggling because of the coronavirus social distancing rules. We deliver those meals to our local East Bay hospitals, including Highland Hospital and Summit Hospital in Oakland.” / to DONATE… ~ Partners include 13 East Bay hospitals + 60+ east bay restaurants
- She-Can Global ~ the annual dinner I do every spring in New York City was cancelled, and the annual fall gala at the SF War Memorial might have to be re-conceptualized, but you can still become a mentor or sponsor to one of our scholars from Rwanda, Cambodia and Liberia. you can also WATCH their virtual 2020 graduation to be introduced to the intimate community of She-Can scholars + mentors.
- Bay Area Hospitality Coalition ~ “Led by a group of San Francisco chefs, restaurateurs and food world figures, including Brandon Jew, Mourad Lahlou, Chris Cosentino, and Kim Alter, the newly formed Bay Area Hospitality Coalition hopes to serve as an educational and resource center for restaurants and food workers.”
- EAT.LEARN.PLAY ~ is committed to ensuring every Oakland resident has the food they need for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis. Working alongside our key partners – including Oakland Unified School District, Alameda County Community Food Bank, and World Central Kitchen – the Foundation will help provide nearly 300,000 meals a week to Oakland residents over the next several months.
- NaNoWriMo aka National Novel Writing Month ~ one of my favorite organizations (i am a board member as well), that has a few parts to their organization ~ The Young Writers Program (that supports under-18 writers and K-12 educators as they participate in our flagship event each November, and take part in smaller writing challenges year-round), as well as what it is most well-known for ~ a challenge every November to write a 50,000 word novel. You can even participate NOW, by joining #StayHomeWriMo… Click HERE to participate or donate.
“Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.” ~ arundhati roy
above / a dinner celebrating Ralph Steadman, and his retrospective at the Haight Art Center… November 2018… and the same evening Pamela Esterson introduced me to her dear friend, the music producer and SNL composer Hal Willner, who’s pictured beside me on my left…. he passed away in NYC April 7th 2020, from complications from COVID-19….(RIP dear Hal) bringing the reality of this moment closer to the seeming bubble we live in in Lamorinda/East Bay/Bay Area/California…
“We must hurry! said Mr. Wonka.
We have so much time and so little to do!
No! Wait! Strike that! Reverse it!”
~ roald dahl, charlie and the chocolate factory