I love food. And I love San Francisco. So when I saw artist Liz Hickok’s“San Francisco in Jell-O” series I totally fell in love. The series includes photos and videos of San Francisco landscapes that she’s cast in Jell-O. In Jell-O!! First she makes scale models of landscapes like the row of Painted Ladies (aka The Full House houses) or the Transamerica building out of balsa wood and foam. She uses these to make molds which she uses to make the finished Jell-O sculpture. Amazing.
Millions of spiders have come together in a coalition effort to weave a gigantic web near Dallas. The Herald Tribune reports that “sheets of web have encased several mature oak trees and are thick enough in places to block out the sun along a nature trail at Lake Tawakoni State Park.”
It’s really beautiful, the strength of what is so fragile is moving and a little intimidating (says the girl with the massive brown recluse bite scar). I also can’t get Ronald Weasley out of my mind. “Ha-harry… there’s spy-dahs in th’ forest!”
I’m happy to share that this weekend I was elected to the Board of Directors for Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. I’ve worked with GFADP for years, from struggling to stop the death penalty from being carried out (recent success for now is Troy Davis) but also standing with them during those horrible nights at the prison in Jackson while the State commits murder. For the last five years they have introduced and pushed resolutions that commission a study of Georgia’s death penalty and recommend a halt to executions during the time of the study. One of the reasons they brought me on at this time is because they are changing their legislative work to instead focus on measures that would reduce the likelihood of the death penalty being imposed- such as reforms of eyewitness identification and police interrogation procedures, as well as ensuring that our statewide public defender system is fully funded. This decision puts their policies directly in line with the work that I carry out.
In other criminal injustice news, Michael Vick has pled guilty, proving further that we condemn animal cruelty more so than violence against women, Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez resigns, and I get to have lunch with two of the top folks at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation- hilarious.
At the risk of sounding old school goth, one of my litmus tests for new people in my life is seeing how they do on a walk, a drive, a picnic at some lovely old cemetery. I'm lucky enough to have Oakland Cemetery so close by for that purpose. Oakland was built at a time when there wasn't green space specifically dedicated to the purpose of public gatherings like parks. Cemeteries were designed in a way that would entice people to visit them and stay for awhile.
I think the ones closest to me will always be people who enter that space and feel peace and love and revel in the beauty of the contrast between the stone and sky. They will smile with anticipation when I suggest finding a pretty spot to settle in and open up the bottle of cheap champagne and munch on the chocolate I've smuggled inside in my bag.
Secret Agent Man wrote to me this morning from Syria. He visited the grave of his best friend, god bless his soul. He was killed in December, 2002 - the same month that the Agent and I met. He spoke of how cemeteries stand still while the rest of the world is upside down. In my head I could see him standing by Khaled's grave. In my head I felt my energy fly there and gently press my palms and forehead on his back.
I think that we become more able to feel the serenity of the cemetery when we have had someone so dear ripped from our lives, our hearts. Once the funeral is over and a week or so has passed, there are very few opportunities where mourning is welcomed. As a culture we push thoughts of death aside and become more and more messed up about it- both our own death and that of the ones we love.
I've found that I need this sort of permanent place with physical definitions that holds the specific purpose to provide a setting to love and honor those we have passed on through our worlds. Even if my loved one isn't there specifically, the energy of the cemetery gives me a safe, sometimes sad, always peaceful place to remember-- and then wander and pick rosemary.
Since this is MY blog, I'll offer my $.02. For the record, I disagreed with her when she referred to me as an 'expert'- I am by no means an expert on sex offenders. I know a hell of a lot about Georgia's sex offender residency and employment restrictions, but thats where it ends. The reporter also failed to state at any point that what the French president was proposing was chemical castration- she just kept referring to "castration" which understandably I'm sure, was very shocking to me. And finally, she told me that this was just a background interview and I told her I didn't want to be quoted, but that I was happy to help her think through her story.
When I said the line that ultimately became the headline I couched it specifically as "Please don't print that- I don't want my mother calling and fussing at me about talking about penises to the media." I was of course joking, don't think my Mom would really mind considering she works for a urologist and all. I was just trying to make it clear to her that I didn't want to be quoted. And here we are: a whole article with multiple quotes from yours truly being syndicated around the world. Yikes.
Anyway, I had to clear the air, and now I can laugh at myself. Who else me would have this luck? Who else but me has to talk on this level at their work? I still think I make a good point. Yikes!
"Gazans are being denied every fundamental human right -- the right to live freely, not under the thumb of occupation, without fear; the right to an education; the right to work and to provide for their families; and the very right to govern themselves and their lives. All the while, Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahiya are being bulldozed away and we are being terrorized by the tanks which sit at our borders and the F-16s that roam our skies. How do I describe the planes that fly low at random hours of the night to frighten our children who then scream for the rest of the night?"
From the Cordele Dispatch: Ms. Juanita Jones realizes the crack she just bought is fake and calls the cops hoping they'll help her get her money back. Can you hear me sobbing? I suppose it's more like whimpering.
Reaffirming my Rome, GA pride, in much better news, the Rome News Tribune's Editorial Board has struck another blow against Georgia's draconian sex offender law. They reference the fact that the law renders almost all of Georgia unliveable for people on the registry, yet also makes it illegal to be homeless- with a first time penalty being 10-20 years in prison. For being caught homeless a second time, it requires a mandatory life in prison sentence.
The Rome Editorial Board refers to the law as "asinine... draconian, over-the-top, punishment after the price to society has already been paid" and then goes so far to compare the state of Georgia to the Taliban for this practice. Hilarious!
I can't help it- even though internet quizzes are silly, just knowing a quiz about Francesca Lia Block's books exists makes me feel all warm and drunky inside. If you haven't read the Weetzie Bat books yet you're missing out. They are the books I wish that I had when I was a kid- beautiful but dark, like shadows or sunshine through thunder clouds. Smells like bourgainvilla and tastes like sushi, unapologeticly deals with drugs, sexuality, death, angst, hope and the potential of magic- and without trite morality lessons.
Check out the Dangerous Angels anthology first; its the compliation of all the early books that introduce you to the wonderful cast of characters: Weetzie Bat, Dirk, My Secret Agent Lover Man, Cherokee Bat, Juan Angel and the lovely Witch Baby. Then a few months later read Necklace of Kisses- all about Weetzie as a grown up who runs away to the pink hotel, struggling with all she has been and learing to honor and trust her love and all that is yet to come.
After a couple weeks of silence, I heard from Secret Agent Man. I knew the silence was due to his travels in and out of precarious places- this time, in and out of Jerusalem. Though he was born in Jerusalem, Secret Agent Man does not have the right papers and permits to travel freely in and out of his birth town. He whispered about sneaking around from town to town throughout Palestine, all undercover in true Secret Agent nature.
When I spoke to him previously, it was a few days after he had entered Jerusalem. It took him three days of trying before he got in. He told me how dangerous it was and how his mother had collapsed crying she was so worried about him. He stayed in the Old City above a market in a house bearing a sign that declared it was built in 1079. He contemplated that this may be the last time he will ever see the city. The apartheid wall is ninety-percent done now and once it’s complete there will be no way for him to enter the city of his birth.
Today, Secret Agent Man told me that he had seen more of Palestine than he had ever seen before in his life, and places that his family who lives there never ventured to find. Because he didn’t have the right papers to be there, his family took huge risks just by walking next to him in certain parts of the country. His family all thought that he was crazy, reckless to travel like this. They’re right- just today at the Hebron gate – he was there a week ago – Israeli soldiers open-fired on a group of Palestinians, killing 2 people.
He spoke of the beauty of the northern part of the country. He was excited, elated. He said there was so much to remember; he didn’t know how he would. I told him I’d help him write it down. And here we are.
Today, for the first time in my life, I am wearing seersucker. I always wanted to, but was afraid that I'm too dark-featured to pull it off. This weekend though I saw a beautiful black woman wearing a seersucker suit and she inspired me to break out the pants I bought ages ago.
I really feel like a true Southerner now. If I start wearing saddle shoes or talking like Foghorn Leghorn, y'all have permission to promptly intervene.
After about 16 hours of traveling, including multiple layovers due to my flight being cancelled, I finally made it home at about 2 am last night. Though I was exhausted, I was still on California time so I sat down to watch the last night of Shark Week.
This show called Shark Man was on, all about this guy who "hypnotizes" sharks, putting them in a state of tonic immobility. By rubbing their nostrils, the sharks sort of glaze out and its possible to invert their whole body, as if they are standing on their noses. This truly amazing feat is captured in a trailer for the very show I saw here:
I nearly cried when I saw it- it's so beautiful! The way the shark would rub up to the diver was pretty much exactly the same as the way my cat was head-butting me, happy to see me after I had been gone for several days. The ease in which the sharks can be manipulated says so much about the power of touch. I could almost relate with the expressions on the sharks faces as they gave in to the pleasure of being touched. Yeah I guess the sharks could be called "loose" if you know what I'm saying.
The guy went on to do this same thing with a tiger shark and then –gasp- with a 15 ft female great white. It was seriously one of the most amazing things I've seen.
God I'm gonna miss Shark Week now that its over. Well, I'm not gonna miss "Top 5 Eaten Alive" or "shark Feeding Frenzy", but Shark Man, him I'll miss.
I'm sitting in an internet cafe on Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. I walked down here on my own and retraced steps I've taken with my dad so many times through the fish markets, the salt water taffy shops, pored through buckets of seashells, and climbed the stairs down to the pier to see the sea lions. I even ate fried fish right bought from a street vendor- just like my dad would have bought. All of a sudden I feel very grown up doing this on my own.