Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Everything!

Happy happy happy to you and yours.
Cheer and joy and an auspicious new year.
See you in 2012!

The Final Poem in 2011 from the Ongoing Series About the Fall of 2005

October 25, 2005
Walking to work

at a quarter to eight this morning
the sky was still in its sunrise colors
palest blue above
clouds with shaggy pink and gold edges
Taken aback by how early it looked
even just the lemon light on the walls of the buildings
And the wet sidewalks
And the wet air
and the cold
Man it was cold

image source is here

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Books

Here's a little peek at the holiday picture books--Christmas, Winter, and one for Hanukkah--that are in heavy rotation at our house just now. Several are available on amazon if you should happen to want them, though a number of them are out of print, and so are not. I cannot recommend the strange and wonderful world of M. B. Goffstein enough. This is the version of The Night Before Christmas that I grew up with, and so am quite attached to. The Philharmonic Gets Dressed is perhaps a stretch for inclusion, but it clearly takes place in the winter and there is a lot of discussion of putting on warm clothing, plus it's just so great I can't resist mentioning it. Babar and Father Christmas is totally totally bizarre. The Snowy Day is wonderful by any standard but particularly for babies who live in the city. Olive The Other Reindeer is, in my view, a contemporary classic, and just happens to be published by my fine employer. Merry reading!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Esprit Catalog

In the mid-eighties I was in elementary school and the Esprit catalog was the absolute height of cool. Most of us had only a few garments of the actual clothing--it being rather expensive and our families still being frugal in that hold-over-from-the-seventies driving-vacations-hand-me-down-chords-and-tuna-noodle-casserole kind of way--but we poured over the big pages (it was over-sized and printed on matte paper, the way W Magazine used to be) with almost religious fervor. And, looking back on it now, it's easy to see why. Those shapes! Those colors! Those hairstyles! Come on.

Images from the catalog are actually surprisingly difficult to find online. I'm grateful to Nothing Is New, Feathers and Ice, and The WX4 for taking the time to scan in their own precious thirty-year old pages so we can see them.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Pretty Girl

Here is Mabel looking extra pretty at a little under one year old. Gosh, she had much less hair then. Now her curls are all over the place. Speaking of all over the place, nowadays it's hard to capture this sort of calm sweet pretty smile in pictures because usually by the time you've pressed the shutter she's turned around, run down the hall, stuck a dirty sock onto the bookcase, run back, hugged your knees, yelled "Ho ho ho!," and gone and hid behind the chair.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Please Don't Feed the Artists Tequila

This is the former site of the much-beloved and much-mourned downtown independent bookstore Stacy's. It's stood empty for a year or more. So, walking by the other night, I was at first not terribly surprised to see a great big ad for Patron Tequila splashed all over the front windows--this has become a common recession-era practice in recent years, a way for landlords to squeeze a bit of money out of all their standing-vacant primo downtown retail properties--I was not surprised, that is, until I spotted the unusual set-up in the lower left-hand window. What was it?

Yes, that's right! It's a real live artist working in a tiny artist habitat. No doubt, like panda bears, it is exceedingly difficult to get artists to perform in captivity, but this Tequila manufacturer has pulled it off. How exceedingly strange.

Perusal of the signage revealed that they have, not just this one San Francisco artist, but artists behind glass in major cities all across America. It did not explain to my satisfaction, however, what an artist making art had to do with bottles of booze for Christmas (unless that is perhaps self-explanatory) or their taglines "Simply Perfect" and "Eliminate Regifting."  Perhaps it's: Eliminate regifting--give the simply perfect gift of a live artist clutching an empty bottle! Just don't forget to punch some air holes in the box.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Next Poem in the Ongoing Series About the Autumn of 2005

October 24, 2005
Vanessa’s birthday weekend trip to cabin in Freestone

Had a moment alone with Bill out on the deck
overlooking the valley early one morning
the hills the color we in California call gold
dotted with trees so dark green they’re nearly black
We talked about two trees nearer to hand
one tall narrow and silvery with just a few fluttering yellow leaves
the other great and sprawling all covered in pale green moss
I liked these trees very much
I’d been looking at them all weekend
yet I found I had a hard time letting them in
or going out towards them
or meeting them in the middle
As though my eye kept sliding off them
as though they were slippery
Though of course they were standing right there
And we talked about what do you see when you see?
what do you look for?
And I said solidity, bulk, mass, reality existing outside my body, thing-y-ness
And Bill said light and shadow
And with that I saw the trees all over again

Later we took a walk
and saw a deer and poison oak
sunlight streaming in an almost absurdly picturesque way
wild turkeys that look like dinosaurs
and the golden hill grasses up close
all lying down flat in different directions side by side

A trip to the bakery
with all the bread stacked up in a mound
and the smell and the heat and the bustle and the taste
and then a walk in the vegetable garden behind the bakery
with zinnias planted among the tomatoes
a blue wheelbarrow full of little round gourds like pumpkins
half dark green and half off-white
and a visit to some pretty clean chickens, bunnies, and goats

Star-gazing on the deck on Saturday night
layers upon layers of stars you don’t see in the city
the bigness of the universe making me feel small and lucky as it always does
I mean what are the odds?
I exist at all
and I get to wear cashmere sweaters

And the food
tart and salad for dinner
Vanessa’s big breakfast
bread and cheese and wine
great mac and cheese
with Bill’s pumpkin pie for dessert
How other people’s food is different from your own
not just what they cook or even how they cook it
but how it tastes
The distinct overall flavor profile unique to the hands of any given cook
that makes her eggs taste more like her pasta
than her eggs taste like my eggs

image source is here

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tangerine Tango

I just can't stop talking about Pantone, can I? No, I cannot. In honor of the newly announced Color of the Year for 2012, the lovely Tangerine Tango...

...and the blank journal with said color on the cover that I've been working on which ships out today, I thought I'd round up a few of the latest and greatest Pantone stuff and happenings:

Glamor magazine's snapshot of the color-of-the-year in fashion.

Pantone Christmas ornaments,

Pantone credit cards,

and, perhaps most amazing of all, the Pantone Barbie Doll.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Baby Polymath

This morning baby Mabel invented the game of having her father hand her the plastic Christmas ornaments out of the decorative bowl in the front hall, one at a time, so she could walk briskly with each one over to her crib and shove it through the wooden bars and onto her mattress. Some were too large to fit through the bars, and they had to be pushed in up over the top. Every time she added a new ball to the arrangement she would  then bend down to look through the bars and admire her handiwork, then scoot back down the hall to do it it all over again.

And it occurred to me as I watched her do this, that nearly all very young children, just by virtue of their very natures and how their brains are built, are what, if we saw it in an adult, we would call both great scientists and great artists. That wide-openness, that spirit of exploration and doing, that attitude of both "what would happen if I?" and "there, that is my vision realized."  It's like living with a tiny Leonardo da Vinci around the house. Below, a portrait of the artist as a very young child.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Tiny Winter Baby

The weather's turned appropriately cold, of late, so we've been bundling Mabel up to go outside. And that in turn reminded me of bundling her up in different, much smaller, warm wooly clothes last winter. No matter how many times I think back on that era of her infanthood, or look at pictures like this one from when she was just a few months old, I still just can't get over her tininess, and how much bigger she is now. The ultimate cliche of parenthood--nonetheless true for being trite, indeed it's had the chance to become trite exactly because it is true.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Happy Belated Birthday Diego

Yesterday was Diego Rivera's 125th birthday. It also happened to be my company holiday party, which happened to be held at the City Club of San Fransisco, in a room that happens to contain one of the three murals Rivera created in San Francisco. Now, as a person who works on quite a bit of Frida Kahlo publishing, and as I think is the case for almost all fans of the inimitable Ms. Kahlo's work (and wardrobe), Diego tends to be a bit of the bad penny you love to hate. (For instance, years ago when the SFMOMA did a big show about Mexican Muralists, if was gratifying to see that you could totally trace her influence on his work over the years, but that his work seems to have had no influence on her whatsoever). But its good to be reminded from time to time that, man, the dude could paint. This mural is phenomenal. I wish I could find a shot online (or had had the presence of mind to take one!) that would better show the part of the mural that goes up onto the ceiling, with a sky full of naked people and airplanes. Very cool.

image sources are here and here

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Next Poem in the Series about Fall 2005

October 21, 2005
Bill made weekday morning french toast

just one slice each
using the leftover bakery bread
with lots of spices in the yellow egg mixture
and melted butter and syrup on top
I felt spoiled by such an unusual treat

It reminded me of the french toast I had
when we went out for breakfast a few weeks back
With fresh strawberries
and raspberry jam
simply amazing

As you raised the fork to your face
you could smell the sugar before the bite went into your mouth
Yet somehow miraculously the toast was not cloying or heavy to eat
The man who made that toast is a genius is what it is
Credit where credit is due

image source is here

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Ten from the Top Tens

Top ten lists are as ubiquitous this time of year as unfortunate santa hats, sparkly trees, or candycane hangovers. So I've been pouring over the top-ten lists for art books, illustrated books, and so forth lately, for instance such as these on: Flavorwire,, Huffington Post, and Brainpickings (regular readers of this blog may, if they peruse those four lists carefully, discern a common theme that drew my attention to them in the first place), plus many others in all kinds of fine publications, both print and online.

And I now feel ready to present you my personal picks for the top ten books that a) keep popping up on these lists the most, and b) I'm most excited about. This is an entirety unscientific, statistically inaccurate, personal, visceral list--I haven't by any means read all the lists out there, I haven't tabulated anything, hell, I haven't read most of these books (yet)--these are just the books that have started to percolate up in my brain as seeming important and wonderful this holiday season:

At top, Woolgathering by Patti Smith.
Above, Radioactive: Marie and Pierre Curie by Lauren Redniss

I Wonder by Marian Bantjes

High Line by Joshua David and Robert Hammond

Food Rules by Michale Pollan, illustrated by Maira Kalman

Yes, it's my very own Pantone: The 20th Century in Color by Leatrice Eiseman and Keith Recker

Chicks with Guns by Lindsay McCrum

Missed Connections by Sophie Blackall

Moby Dick in Pictures by Matt Kish

Maps by Paula Scher

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Brooklyn of the West

Oakland gets a bad rap. The San Francisco Chronicle, for instance, loves to take pot shots at its violence and crime, its economic woes, its strife. This, at best, seems to me to be shooting fish in a barrel (didn't anyone ever tell them there's no dignity in sniping at an easy target?) and at worst carries an unpleasant undercurrent of prejudice. But as many residents of Oakland will tell you, there's a lot to love there, too. Now, I don't live in Oakland, but I had an experience there last Friday night which gave me the distinct impression that Oakland is poised to become the Brooklyn of the Bay Area (of course, its a long way from all the way there, yet, and its an open question whether becoming Brooklyn would actually be a good thing, coming, as it would, with its freight of hipster gentrification and seven dollar ice cream sandwiches). The experience I had was the Oakland Art Murmur--a gallery walk that happens on 25th and 23rd Streets, between Broadway and Telegraph, on the first Friday night of each month. With all respect to the many fine art galleries in San Francisco, I saw more art that interested me, condensed into a smaller geographical area and a shorter span of time, than I've seen in a year of First Thursdays and other such happenings here in the city. And so, without further ado, here is my round up of the many fine things I saw:

Group show "A Week in Calistoga" featuring work by Logan Payne (top), Amy Schaffer (above), Karen Worth (below), Joelle Jones (below that), (and many more) at Oakopolis.

 The charming "slow fashion" boutique, The Moon, in the Oakopolis building.

Luke Heimbinger, Mari Marks, and Sakura Haru, at Vessel.

These next half-dozen galleries are all in the same building, 473 25th Street:

Erin Malone at Photo Gallery.

Donna Anderegg (top) Wesley Anderegg (above) and  at Roscoe Ceramic Gallery.

Group show featuring Wayne Armstrong (above, and below, in order:) Elaine Maute, Mark Lightfoot, Linn Thygeson, and DanWeber at Manna Gallery:

Group show "Barely There"  featuring (below) in order: Brian Mancl, Pouk√© Halpern, Joanne Fox, Michelle Lynn Dyrness, and Jonah Burlingame (plus many more) at Slate.


Steve Lomprey at The Wall Gallery

Chopsticks Urban Art Space

Dave Meeker at Mercury20

A whole indie craft and food fair at 25th Street Collective  

Jaun Santiago at FM Gallery. Plus  the open studios of (below, in order) Peter St. Lawrence, Joe Kowalczyk, Mike Steffen, Lauren Rayburn, Joshua Margolis, Dane Pollok, Jessica Jenkins, and Julie Ann Travis:

Alex Pardee at Zero Friends

Farnaz Shadravan at Shadravan Gallery.

David Wiley and Stephani Martinez at Hatch Gallery.

Monet Clark at Krowswork.