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Archives for April 2009

Wisdom Work

These pictures were taken in June 2008, at Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI) in Pune, India. This is Yogacharya B.K.S. Iyengar (Guruji), 90 years of age, assisting his student in the execution of the posture (asana) called Vrschikasana. Vrschik means a scorpion. In order to sting its victim the scorpion arches its tail above its back and then strikes beyond its head. This asana resembles that of a striking scorpion, hence the name. I am riveted to these pictures trying to appropriate for myself the adjustments Mr. Iyengar is administering to his student, Raya; the specific touch that would inspire the body and mind to strike, to form, the posture. At first viewing one can detect how Guruji is using his own … [Read more...]

In the Heart of All Things

Isha Upanishad, as read by Christopher Isherwood By Nancy Cantwell Hollywood was first exposed to the philosophical and religous texts of India when Swami Prabhavananda was charged with opening the Vedanta Society of Southen California (VSSC) in 1930. It was Prabhavananda's discourses and ministries that attracted southern California cultural luminaries Aldous Huxley, Christopher Isherwood, Gerald Heard, Henry Miller and composer Igor Stravinsky to Vendanta. Isherwood went on to collaborate with Swami Prabhavananda translating "The Song of God: Bhagavad Gita", 1944, "Shankara's Crest-Jewel of Discrimination (Viveka Choodamani)", 1947, and "How to know God, the Yoga Aphorisms … [Read more...]

Lunch at Brophy’s

Brophy Bros. is a Santa Barbara institution. It is located in the marina just across from the city college. I never tire of the experience, never find it touristy nor cliched. It just a great way to spend time. The sound bites at Brophy's are as entertaining, if not more so, than the food. There is not a shread of remorse about that mid-morning, mid-day cocktail. That's just how things roll here. This is a long counter and our girl and guy worked it. Both sides bustle, particularly on a stunning day like this where outside and in are equally attractive.   © Nancy Cantwell … [Read more...]

The Sudden Density of Life

From "The Curtain", An Essay in Seven Parts,  by Milan Kundera Part One: "The Conciousness of Continuity" Kundera addressing a Concenration of Events:   It brings to mind the libertine bohemia of my youth. My friends used to declare that there was no more gorgeous experience for a man than to make love to three different women in a single day. Not as the mechanical workings of an orgy, but as a personal adventure resulting from some unexpected confluence of opportunities, surprises, lightening seductions. That "three woman day"—extremely rare, dreamlike—had a dazzling charm which, I see today, consisted not in some athletic sexual performance but in the epic beauty of a rapid series of encounters in which each woman, seen against … [Read more...]

Two Hot Women

                  Hot Women is a compilation put together by Robert (Keep On Trucking) Crumb of  "Women Singers from Torrid Regions of the World Taken from Old 78 RPM Records, 1920 to 1950s". Here are two sizzling samples! From the Liner Notes: Clemona Falcon: "Blues Negres": Accompanying herself on guitar, with Joseph Falcon on accordion; Recorded Dec., 1934, New York City, Decca 17004.  She has been fairly well researched. Born Clemona Breaux in the Acadian, or "Cajun" county of Louisiana, she came from a musical family, played and sang in the family band, and with the band of her husband, Jospeh Falcon, in local dance halls and roadhouses, … [Read more...]

Happy Go Lucky

In which a cheerful, sometimes obtuse, young female primary school teacher takes driving lessons with a rage-ridden instructor, helps a child in need, and ultimately finds her Prince Charming. All I knew was that in Happy Go Lucky,  Mike Leigh had come up with this truly repellant character that made people want to gouge her eyes out or spit on the ground with disgust, because she was too damn happy. I put off seeing it, although I was intrigued. Then Nancy asked me to write about it. So I watched the IMDb trailer first and saw as cloying a scene as I could recall, though every millimeter a Mike Leigh joint, with Poppy (Sally Hawkins) in a fabulously fake-y fifties-style flirtation with the handsome and equally fake Tim (Samuel … [Read more...]


These are the Dharma Family cats. Zen to the core. Who is watching the store, after all? … [Read more...]

Good Luck, Bad Luck

An Introduction to the Dharma Family Ed Wortz was my friend and mentor. He ushered me through some bad times and was there to toast me when the sun was shinning bright. Thich Thien An was Ed's mentor and initiator in Buddhist philosophy. Ed and Thien-An first met the Ven. Dr. Thich Thien-An when Thien-An came to Southern California in the summer of 1966 as an exchange professor at UCLA. Thien-An's father had been one of the monks who self immolated to bring attention to the world of the horrors being perpetrated in Vietnam by the Diem regime. When Saigon fell in 1975, Ven. Thien-An saw his responsibility and helped the boat people and other refugees from his homeland. Thus, the International Buddhist … [Read more...]

California Academy of Science Museum, Golden Gate, San Francisco

What draws me to this work is the contrast in texture. One gets to experience the fuzzy turf rooftop, the glossy, sparkly interior dome, then the smooth velum like dioramas and finally the brittle exterior entrance. I have come to feel that very few photographs can be seen as single or standalone statement. Relationships are the key to resonance. The Rooftop photos alone are awkward, but together they form a gentle curve, a hint at infinity. Our antelopes and zebras co-exist, the stealth and stolid attributes are two sides of the same coin. There is a collusion between the fractured ceiling and the faceted dome that the quartet of pictures makes plain. An eminent sense of shelter, with its foreboding saw like edge, becomes a shaded refuge … [Read more...]

Take That!

Achim Freyer's Redemption through Geometry, Metaphysics and Light Sabers Although I am focusing on design and direction in these notes on LA OPERA's Ring Cycle, it would be a travesty here not to applaud the spectacular vocal performances last night. I would single out Anja Kampe, whose performance was jaw-droppingly powerful, tender and transfixing...but then that would leave out Placido Domingo's powerful, expertly polished performance with its subtly Italianate flourishes so right for the part of Seigmund; or Linda Watson's spectacular Brunnhilde. Eric Halvarson (Hunding) has a basso so profound I would be terrified to be in the same room with him singing, and Vitalj Kowaljow performed a nuanced and complex Wotan. Michelle DeYoung … [Read more...]

Double Entendre

I usually like to keep my art and fashion in separate silos. Seeing each product in context can make all the difference. Crossover rarely is of interest, appropriation that mimics style and lacks insight. Recently I have seen two spreads that make the handshake between fashion and art palatable, maybe even tasty. Egon Schiele was a truly tragic, memorable artist whose works penetrate the retina with as much passion as they penetrate the psyche. In this spring's NYTimes' Men's Fashion Season Premier 2009, photographer Eric Nehr offers up a fashion editorial based on Scheile's work that is eye catching. The posturing is perfectly reminiscent, the gaze of the eyes disenfranchised, the makeup and brushed in background painterly. But after … [Read more...]

Alan Rich – So I’ve Heard

An old friend of mine recently commented, "you always have had the best taste in music!"  Well thank you, but Alan Rich is the man! He has been the voice for Los Angeles music criticism for 20 years and I have learned more than a thing or two by keeping abreast of Alan's work. Now, we are so lucky to have SO I'VE HEARD, the blog. To say that this is a Rich resource would not only be a bad pun, but also an understatement. So I've Heard has cataloged reviews going all the way back to January 1983 when Alan Rich and Steve Reich discuss together Reich's, then new recording, "Tehillim". It's heaven! When I was informed of So I've Heard, I immediately added it to my blogroll. I encourage everyone to spend some quality time browsing Rich's … [Read more...]

At The Polo Grounds

This is my Valentine to Baseball. And what better day to post than the opening of the 2009 Season, the Dodgers vs. Giants! These are photographs taken with a stereoscopic camera. They were shot at the Polo Grounds(IV), dated 1951-52, I am not really sure. But what I do know is that the Great Willie Mays is playing, Bobby "The Shot Heard Round the World" Thomson is playing and Leo "The Lip" Durocher is managing the New York Giants. This Giants' roster also included Sal "The Barber" Maglie,  famous for throwing "chin music", hence the legacy, effectual, close shave. My grandfather is the photographer and my grandmother is the silver haired lady with the best sunglasses on the planet! They were friends of the Durochers and when Leo came … [Read more...]

A Shimmer of Possibility

“a shimmer of possibility: Photographs by Paul Graham” is on view through May 18 at the Museum of Modern Art. I had been unaware of his body of work before I read this review in the NYTimes and being very intrigued decided to rectify that circumstance. After spending some time on Paul Graham's site I am now excited by the non-linear approach of his books, an strategy he calls "filmic Haiku". His work bypasses mere road work documentation and pursues vernacular accidents to "replicate the episodic, Chekhovian experience". Fine Deal! So I passed these treasures onto my friend Paul Cabanis whose work has quite a similar bend. Paul doesn't oft answer my emails with more than one word responses, but this time he spent some time in crafting a … [Read more...]

Here’s Looking at You Wotan

The Dilemma of Watching Wagner – Theatrical eminence Achim Freyer has an astonishing portfolio: please check out the photos of the productions he's done at his own company Freyer Ensemble. http://www.freyer-ensemble.de The task of staging the mythic, grand and otherworldly works of the Ring cycle involves scholarly mastery and a theoretical rigor. Any major opera company needs to engage a theater artist who is credentialed and bears the imprimatur of a cultural establishment. Wagner after all is the epitome of a grand master, a model for the hyperinflation of artistic importance...big themes set to brilliant grandiose music, and backed up by the most refined musical skills that Western culture can provide. The musical … [Read more...]