Friday, October 31, 2008

Tomorrow! Tomorrow! CARNIVAL OF THE DEAD!!!


HAPPY HALLOWEEN! We were going to write to you last night and wish you a happy All Hallows Eve eve but decided we would wait till the big day. And today is the big day before the BIG DAY of the CARNIVAL OF THE DEAD rolling into town! We simply cannot wait for you to see the show.

Be sure to check not only to get your tickets, but also for the extra secret directions to the Carnival location. Okay the secret is luminaries. Follow the luminaries.

Come marvel at the FIREBREATHING DIVA at 11pm. While we're certain your intoxication alone will sufficiently scare others, don't forget to dress up for the not-so-typical costume contest at midnight! (Be sure to hang onto your hobo costume after Halloween in case the financial bailout doesn't work.)

With a love that echoes through the ages,

your Ringmistresses
Sara, Mica, Becky, Ela, Kristi, Carrie and Malissa

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tis the Season

1. To eat a mini candy bar with every meal. And between every meal. No problem since you have the gigantic bag of Halloween candy from Costco. "It's for the trick-or-treaters!" you assured Kristi as you hefted the bag into your cart.

A few days later you realize that every time you pass the dining room table you grab a Baby Ruth to eat on the way to work, a Butterfinger to tide you over till dinner, a Snickers to compliment your otherwise boring lunch of a veggie sandwich and apple slices, a Reese's because Rock of Love Charm School is on, an Almond Joy because the phone rang...

2. To listen to The Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack on repeat in your office while you work for days. You sheepishly pause it when your coworkers come by to discuss important matters, but since its Wednesday they've totally already got you figured out.

3. To wear all black everyday accented with spider-based jewelry.

4. To daydream about Carnivals.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Jiddu voted

Yesterday, my 90-something year old Iraqi grandfather voted. Jiddu was escorted to the polls by my great aunt who is in her late 70s herself. To help you visualize, the two of them are at the very center of this picture (click on it to make it bigger):

When I talked with Auntie Hadar on her birthday on Sunday, she told me how hard she had been working for the Obama campaign. "Every day! 9am to 9pm!" she told me with amazement-- though she assured me she took the day off for her birthday. She spoke proudly about "all the young people" (which likely includes people from age 10-49) who would arrive in buses from across Illinois every morning and then disperse to small towns in Wisconsin to door knock.

According to my sister Reem, after voting, Jiddu and Auntie Hadar went to Sam's Club to celebrate by eating samples. Apparently they were given lots of extra samples because like any skilled organizer, Auntie Hadar always carries lots of Obama buttons to give out.

I couldn't be more proud!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

San Francisco in September #3: the Murals in the Mission

Perhaps our most favorite part of my Mom and my trip to San Francisco last month was a mural tour we took in the Mission put together by Precita Eyes Mural Arts Center. Our guide's name was Jorge, a kind and gentle spirit who told the stories behind the murals that we felt so lucky to hear.

One of the first murals we saw was called "Solidarity: Breaking Down Barriers" and was painted by youth in the Mission. It was dedicated "from the heart of the Mission to the barriers around the world that separate our families... la lucha continua!" Here are three pictures of it:

We saw several pieces by this artist whose name I regrettably cannot remember. This piece is called "The Immigrant" and it shows a man leaving his wife and homeland for the blank TV stares of the United States.

Ultimately the immigrant is able to find his own community here, surrounded by friends and watched over by the gods of his homeland.

This next one was painted by the great muralist, Susan Kelk Cervantes, and is on the Cesar Chaves Elementary School, a lovely and welcoming school that fully integrates deaf children.

The Clarion Alley Mural Project is at least 20 individual murals that run through the alley between Mission and Valencia, parallel to 17th and 18th streets. One mural after another took my breath away. This one shows Archbishop Oscar Romero, bishop of the Poor, surrounded by community and milagros:

I loved this paint bucket heart milagros, a perfect symbol for the murals:

This alley mural shows New Orleans after Katrina. Each of the little pictures shows all sorts of things that were lost in the Storm.

At the beginning of the alley, the Virgen de Guadalupe was painted to offer protection.

If you find yourself in San Francisco for some period of time, I cannot encourage you enough to go visit the Mission and take this tour offered by Precita Eyes Gallery and get to know the district through the eyes of its artists. Read more about our San Francisco trip in my posts about the delicious food and sea lions.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Who's afraid of...

My friends are super scary, y'all. Consider this your official warning.

We are so scary that Clayton County felt the need to pass a law this week to make sure we couldn't protest there. You see, about a dozen of us held signs there a month ago asking a doctor not to participate in the execution of Troy Davis, a possibly innocent man on Georgia's death row. It was very scary.

We are so scary that the Department of Corrections turns security cartwheels when we arrive at the prison in Jackson to vigil while the State is killing a human being. As visitors, we are allowed just inside the gate (the prison itself is at least a mile back into the grounds) where we are greeted by one after another corrections officers who will check our IDs, ask which side we are on, and tie green plastic ribbons on our wrists to signify we are opposing the execution.

We then are vetted by the Canine Unit; two guards and two dogs search our cars. They are searching for bombs purportedly brought in by those of us who are there because we believe that killing in all its forms is wrong.

You never know, though our folks have been coming peacefully since 1983 to bear witness to the State's killing of 42 men, we just might decide to something do something crazy. Like maybe we'll get those fancy battery-powered candles instead of our usual match-lit ones. Tremble with fear, dudes.

See for yourselves how scary we were today in this photo by Peggy Attaway:

We marched in a funeral procession through the cold rain to deliver this casket and petitions from over 140,000 people collected by Amnesty International to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles. The funeral and casket represents the metaphorical death of justice. Following that, a delegation of clergy led by the Rev., Dr. Raphael Warnock of Ebenezer Baptist Church delivered a letter signed by 100 Georgia clergy and 400 clergy from around the world to the Governor Sonny Perdue's office.

We are so scary that when I was allowed to enter the Twin Towers building to actually deliver the petitions - this is of course after being quizzed by a Capitol police officer with four of his sergeants backing him up about our intentions - I was personally escorted by Parole Board staff. Mind you, this is the same building I eat my lunch in daily between January and April each year. He remained within inches of me the whole time. In my sparkly hat, pink scarf and drenched velvet jacket I must have been particularly scary today.

I passed one Parole Board staffer after another. I think the officers were surprised when various high-up officials at the Parole Board - including the Public Affairs officer and the Director - came out an hugged me. Why shouldn't they? We have worked together amicably for years. Nothing to be afraid of.

But yet my escort remained next to my elbow despite my warm welcome by his bosses. And the Captain of the Capitol police nervously asked me again the same questions about our intentions when I emerged and we approached the Capitol. Looking at the motley crew in plastic ponchos and green umbrellas, I thought to myself, "how strange that we make them so nervous..."

But then the moment came as we stood outside the Capitol, waiting for our Clergy friends to emerge from the Governor's office. I felt my phone vibrate and saw the text from the lawyers: "Troy has a stay from 11th circuit -- it will extend past the warrant period." This means NO execution on Monday!

As we cheered and hugged then sang and prayed it hit me: THIS is why they are afraid of us.

This post is dedicated with love, respect and gratitude to Laura Moye, a very scary person who is celebrating her birthday today.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Tonight at the Eyedrum- Ground Noise and Static: Free Speech Under Attack at the RNC

A community reportback on protests, police and arrested journalists at the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis/St. Paul, featuring on-the-scene video coverage of protests and arrests from Submedia (Vancouver). Submedia is also known as the great filmmaker Frank Lopez, who Atlanta sorely misses. ANd its not just for his legendary "Yer Momma" Halloween costume.

PepperSpray reporters went bravely into the melee, collaborating with Vancouver’s Lopez to issue a daily video report from the streets. Both PepperSpray reporters were arrested, as were so many other media workers, but now they are back, with a terabyte of video clips. Continuing the collaboration with Submedia, they have prepared a report-back from what Republican nominee McCain dismissed as the "Ground-noise and static."

Monday, October 20, 2008. 9pm. Free. At the Eyedrum.

Vote Early, Vote Often

I learned something last week about the upcoming presidential election that I wanted to share with y'all:

Due to the influx of newly registered voters (woo hoo!) and the anticipated crowds at the polls on election day, voters are strongly encouraged to vote early so as help reduce the length of lines. The thought is that new voters may see ginormous lines and be discouraged to wait to vote.

So if you already know you're going to vote, and even if you're sick of the election talk, go do it now! I voted last week on my birthday and it took about 15 minutes and was fun. Yes I'm a geek. Georgians can vote between now and Oct 31 - locations are here.

For a good voter guide, check out: Urban Independents.
This is the voter guide that my friend Kate put out. She surveyed me and many other folks that I trust deeply to come up with these suggestions.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Carnival of the Dead

A Carnival of sorts is coming into town. Think, Ring Master.... Ring Mistress... Freak Show... Oddities... Delight... Contortionists... The Big Top.... Entertainment... Mysticism... Think......
Well, perhaps you should just go on over to!

This year's Day of the Dead/ Halloween celebration will be like no other!!! The space is unlike any I have ever seen-- a club opening by artists for artists. I can't even begin to describe it all here.... you will have to just take this Ring Mistress' word for it and be there yourself!

For $10 (buy online at you will receive a door prize ticket, unlimited beer and wine, food, access to a variety of carnival delights and all sorts of entertainment..... A portion of the proceeds will go to a fantastic non-profit... Check out the website for more information.

Fire Breathing Diva starts at 10:30. Costume Contest is at 11:30. Feel free to distribute far and wide! All are welcome at the Carnival of the Dead!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Just Lovely!

I had a wonderful birthday week and I am so grateful. It was kicked off by a visit from my parents to Atlanta. We had a weekend filled with beautiful flowers, delicious food, great companionship and even a visit to the Aquarium. My parents are my heroes; I got this great slice of time, lovely natural picture of them at the Botanical Gardens:

Mom took this slice of time of me and Eek in the afternoon sun:

My birthday itself was warm and lovely. My day started with two different bunches of flowers; one was sent by Sandy and the others by Reem and Emil. My siblings note referenced one of my all-time favorite Simpson's songs:

Later that evening, I was surrounded by friends. Mohammad called from the West Bank. Ela, Mica, Sandy, Carrie, Marie and Kirsten came over to my house and we drank too much champagne. Then we went to Solstice Cafe for dinner -- lovely Shelley and Becky joined us there. Our soundtrack was music by my Atlanta favorite DJ Swivel. He indulged me with some Arabic music mixed in.

The strawberry on top of this wonderful evening was that Mica made me my favorite, a beautiful pink cake (not too unlike the one I made her in July). Yes, you counted right- 33 candles - one for good luck of course!:

Thank you all for helping me kick off year 32 with love, laughter and hope!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Atlanta Skyline - October Sunset

Taken at Freedom Parkway and Boulevard. You can see Dr. King's profile in the sculpture at the center of the image.

Friday, October 10, 2008

San Francisco in September #2: the Delicious Food

Mom and I had a marvelous trip to San Francisco in mid-September- this is the second installment of our tales and today I'm focusing on the amazing food we ate- complete with pictures of course.

We got great tips before we left- I relied on the two folks in my life who are San Francisco experts, Mica and Sandy. Mica sent me a list of her suggestions, Sandy lent me what wound up being an invaluable resource, the Slow Food Guide to San Francisco and we made our dining choices with these as our guides. As a result, we consistently had delicious food, saw lovely places, and experienced San Francisco's culinary offerings quite well for a 5 day trip.

Our first lunch was at Sliding Door, a great Vietnamese restaurant in the Ferry Building that Sandy took me to on my last trip here where we dined on Vietnamese spring rolls and crepes.

That night we ate at an absolutely lovely Basque restaurant recommended by Mica and her Mom called Piperade. We ate the most delicious salmon ever- it came with a tomato and onion sauce (a little reminiscent of the Iraqi style of preparing whitefish) and on the side was a fried chick pea and tofu patty- the combinations together are permanently impressed upon my tongues memory.

We had a great lunch from a Japanese Deli inside the Ferry Building called DELICA rf1 - this is spinach with tofu, green beans with carrots and sesame, and a tofu hijiki patty.

Another of my favorites from the Ferry Building were the macarons from Miette, a delightful bakery. Mom loved the chocolate ones but I couldn't get enough of the Rose Geranium ones. They were delicate, flaky and gently sweet. We went back twice for more.

In the middle of our day trip through the vineyards, we stopped in Sonoma for lunch and enjoyed this Tuna Tartine with yellow tomatoes at Girl & the Fig restaurant.

My favorite meal was dinner at Brindisi Cucina di Mare. It started with the best Manhattan I've ever had - made with sweet instead of dry vermouth. It followed with seared tuna and avocado bruschetta:

Our entrees were Gnocchi with Braised Duck Ragout and Pecorino Sardo and Risotto with salmon and green peas, saffron broth, mushroom sauce. Both absolutely melted in our mouths. We ate as Sandy would say, like piglets.

During our walk in the Mission, we stopped to try one of the purported "best veggie burritos in San Francisco" at Taqueria Cancun, a bright and festive stop on our journey. We found out about this place in this great article from the New York Times about the Mission. The burritos are huge and delicious- we should have ordered just one and split it.

Our final night was spent at Mela Tandoori Kitchen, another spot that Sandy and I found during my last trip to San Francisco. I can't recommend this restaurant more- its top notch Indian food and is inexpensive to boot. We gorged on Chicken Tikka Masala, Daal Gosh and Matter Paneer. I should have skipped the filling but fabulous mango lassi at the beginning of the meal.

As you can see, we ate some damn good foods, y'all! At least we walked pretty much everywhere so were constantly working off all that we ate. That's the story I'm sticking with anyway.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

This Year's Autumn Oakland Cemetery Photos

Here are my favorite pictures from this lovely Sunday at Oakland Cemetery:

And I would be remiss if I didn't mention a very special part of this past Sunday: Rodger "introduced" us to his grandfather Nathan Marks.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Autumn Mourning

This is the painting I bought this afternoon at Oakland Cemetery's Sunday in the Park. It's called Autumn Mourning and was painted by a lovely woman named Angie Wehunt. It is mixed media: oil pastels, tissue paper, acrylic and even tiny gold flakes that look like tear drops from her right eye. All of her work is vibrant and made me smile, but this one was by far the darkest of Angie's paintings, so naturally it was the one I was drawn to.

I hung it in my bedroom -it looks perfect on my Atlanta-sky-blue walls. I've already twice walked by it and automatically pressed my palm to her face. I actually had to resist the urge to kiss her on her tiny heart shaped lips. I couldn't be more happy that I have this beautiful piece that reflects the loss but also hope that I feel during my autumn, mourning.

Reasons to be Happy Today

1. The Dream Blog that so many lovlies have made a part of their lives - both while awake and asleep. This has become GREAT fun!

2. Chris' Mindlab Blog - for its fashion-advice and its beautiful pictures like this one:

3. That I'm meeting lovely Tiffani for sushi shortly and then heading over to Oakland Cemetery for the Sunday in the Park Victorian festival. There will be bands, food, walking tours, story tellers, an artists' market, even antique cars. One of my favorite things about this day is that they open up some of the mausoleums and you can check out the stained glass engravings close-up. Here are my pictures from last year.

Friday, October 3, 2008


I just watched this lovely movie Young@Heart. It is a deeply touching documentary about a senior citizen's chorus that performs rock, punk, soul -all sorts of songs. I couldn't believe some of the selections: I Wanna Be Sedated by the Ramones, the Talking Heads' Road to Nowhere and wildly enough, Schizophrenia by Sonic Youth.

It was a brilliant commentary on life, age, and death. A sprightly 92 year-old woman talks about how important it is to keep your brain engaged; an 85 year old man with major spine problems says that when he sings he forgets completely about the pains in his body.

One of the scenes that took my breath away was a performance they did for the men at the local jail the same day that one of their chorus members passed away. Framed by razor wire, they sing Bob Dylan's Forever Young and dedicate it to their lost friend. For the final verse they stretch their arms like they're flying and the camera pans around to the men watching them intently, sadly. On the final note the men all leap to their feet clapping and whistling. One of the younger men says to a member of the chorus "that was the best performance I have ever seen," and a corrections officer hugs one of the women tight saying "you've touched my heart forever." That was only one of the times I wept at the beauty of this film.

Here's a clip from the final performance. It was supposed to be a duet but the other man passed away- its his family you see crying in the audience. It's the beautiful song Fix You by Coldplay. Earlier in the film you see this man practicing it while watching the actual video on his computer at home- which is why his wife in the audience knows the words. The metronome of his oxygen tank is hypnotizing.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Singin' a bad note; lookin' for a scapegoat- The Raconteurs in Atlanta

(Picture from
New York Magazine)

The Raconteurs rocked my socks off this Wednesday at the Tabernacle. I wish I had pictures and video like I usually do but documenting the show was impossible because of a considerable douchebag problem- I had to focus on my own survival, see.

I kinda can't say enough about Jack White. My friend William had told me prior to the show that he's like Jimmy Page, raw, dirty guitar, gigantic on stage. Even though he was "suffering from a vocal chord eating disease" - ha! - he wailed. I mean WAILED. Brendan Benson sang a lot of his parts, but then Jack, almost as if he couldn't resist it, would come in at the high point and screech his song, sending lightning bolts down my spine. I'm getting chills as I type about it.

Opening with their title track Consoler of the Lonely they made it abundantly clear that they were giving everything to Atlanta, their final stop of their tour. Other highlights included Many Shades of Black and Rich Kid Blues. The encore was pretty amazing too with Allison Mosshart of the Kills singing lead on Steady as She Goes, and then the final song was a grungy delivery of Carolina Drama complete with audience singalong.

It was such a joy to see such talented, tight musicians rockin out as one giant rock star on a stage framed by impossibly large pipe organ. There were times when the band would take these long, anxious but comforting pauses and the stage lights would fade in a way that it felt like looking through a black and white lens. And then they would come in loud, crashing with eerie harmonies. They are truly incredible performers.

I was super happy and excited to also see the warm up band, The Kills. It's a two piece band that feels like a 10 piece band because the two of them have such strong presence. I was bummed to hear about their tour bus and all their shit disappearing. But I was so glad when they pulled out Cheap and Cheerful as their final song. I just love that line: "I want you to be crazy cuz you're boring baby when you're sane."

I saw a lot of folks taking pictures there - if one of y'all happen to stumble by this blog I'd love to see some! My one regret of this show is that I should have arrived early enough to get a seat in the balcony so I could have actually danced.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

It's official; I am cursed

I am cursed with a douchebag magnet that activates at rock n roll shows. Sure, there are always douchebags dispersed around the crowd but I always manage to position myself right behind King Douchebag himself.

I mean, I'm glad when people get into music and are enjoying themselves, but do you really need to elbow me in the face as you pulse your fist in the air repeatedly, jump up and down on my toes, and spill your Coors Lite all over my arm to have a good time? I know you drove 4 hours from Johnson City, TN to be here, but does that really give you license to act like a total boner? And your homoerotic relationship with your buddies -- on whose shoulders you brace yourself as you jump up and down even higher, that is, in the few moments that you're not fist bumping-- could be an amusing distraction if I weren't already irritated.

If anyone has any ideas on how I can break this terrible curse let me know because I'm going on at least 6-7 shows in a row with this plague!! I don't know what I did to derserve this, but I am ready to repent for my sins if that will help. I'm even open to smudging and /or aura cleansings with crystals. Yes, that's how bad this is.

Another Night at the Variety with Jenny Lewis

Though the stock market is tanking and wall street looks more like a roller coaster, you can rest assured that you'll always get your money's worth with Ms. Jenny Lewis. Tonight was the third time I've seen her light up the Variety Playhouse and once again she was soulful, playful and slung words like vodka tonics on well-drink night.

Like the great woman June Carter Cash who came before her, Jenny's presence and voice are simultaneously peach pie sweet and deserted-cabin-in-the-woods eerie. Surrounded by her five-piece band that didn't hold back an ounce, she commanded attention. I was happy to see her sense of humor more evident this time, making fun of herself and melodramatizing some of her more silly lines.

This time around Jenny is promoting her week-old album Acid Tongue, which boasts some real gems; my favorites are the opener Black Sand and the Loretta Lynn-inspired title track Acid Tongue. A high point of tonight's show was the epic song Last Messiah -- the album version of this song does it no justice-- with its dirty guitar, different personalities and lyrics that threaten arrest. In addition to a catalogue of the new songs, we were treated to bluesy versions of some of her oldies but goodies like You Are What You Love, the Charging Sky and Rise Up with Fists.

The only down point was the first encore, my least favorite song of the album Sing a Song for Them. It's cheese - mild cheddar at that - and for final songs my taste is more like smokin' gouda. You can count on Jenny to redeem herself though and that she did with a fiery See Fernando, a cowgirl-meets-dealer tongue twister of an anthem.

Jenny Lewis' country-gospel heart and lyrical tartness is totally worth investing in.