Wednesday, May 31, 2017

JUNE PILGRIMAGE



IT'S JACARANDA SEASON IN LA


I'm off tomorrow for the first of three June trips.

The first is to Sioux Falls, SD, to the ordination as a priesT of my dear old friend Timothy J. Smith.

The second will be to Livermore, CA, to the high school graduation of my nephew Allen E. King. I hope to arrive in time to take in the Centennial Light Bulb. From there, I'll motor down to the Monterey area to visit with my another dear friend, ordained a priest for decades, the one and only Fr. Patrick Dooling, who will say Sunday morning Mass for the Carmelite nuns. I also have slated to take in the "Secret Gardens of Old Monterey." And to stop in on the way back home to Santa Maria CA and some other dear friends--Dona Tensie Hernandez and Dennis Apel.


The third trip will be to South Bend, Indiana. That's right--the campus of Notre Dame. Here, I'll give a talk Friday evening at a big shindig of a conference called "Trying to Say God: Re-enchanting the Catholic Literary Imagination."

In between, I hope to spend some time with a visitor to Los Angeles, artist Anthony Santella, currently of Harlem NYC. Anthony is a brilliant artist, works at some brainy job at I believe Sloane-Kettering, and will be in LA for a worm conference. That will give some small idea of his wide range of interests. Even more importantly, he is kind and funny. Welcome in advance, Anthony!

Anyhoo, here are a few links to some of my recent work

May 4, 2017: "Restoring the Soul" podcast with Michael John Cusick.

Part 1.
Part 2.

May 15, 2017: Pieces of Faith podcast with Andee Zomerman.

May 22, 2017: Feature essay "Sex, Lies and the Gig Economy," Mind & Spirit.
 

A PASADENA MAGNOLIA

Sunday, May 28, 2017

SCIENCE IS FICTION: 23 FILMS BY JEAN PAINLEVÉ

JEAN PAINLEVÉ AND HIS CAMERA

This week's arts and culture column begins:

Jean Painlevé (1902-1989) was an early visionary in the genres of educational, science and nature films. A three-disc set from Criterion, available on Netflix, is called “Science is Fiction: 23 Films by Jean Painlevé.”

In an introduction to “Science is Fiction,” editor Marian McDougall wrote: “The joy of experiencing these films, short cinematic gems that renew a sense of the mystery and miracle of nature, is to unearth a still fertile root of cinema and the revelation that there are film hybrids yet to be realized.”

The films, she continued, include “anthropological accounts that unfold like fiction,” “painterly descriptions of technological processes,” “absurd juxtapositions,” “animated fables,” “city symphonies” and “mechanical ballets.”

Painlevé was the son of a French prime minister and a mother who died two months after his birth. Well-educated and well-loved, he was also an outlier and a daredevil. “My only friends at school were Jews and outcasts,” he later remarked.

He took his first photographs at the age of eight, using the bottom of a glass bottle as a lens. As an adult, he befriended the Surrealists, raced cars and lived sans benefit of marriage with Geneviève (“Ginette”) Hamon, his lifelong helpmeet and collaborator.


READ THE WHOLE PIECE HERE.

OUR FRIEND THE SEA HORSE.
THE MALE GIVES BIRTH!


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

WHITE HEART OF MOJAVE: A VISIT TO DEATH VALLEY





Somehow I neglected to publish this a few weeks back. Here you go!

This week's arts and culture piece begins like this:

In the early 1920s, Edna Brush Perkins, a Cleveland socialite, and her pal Charlotte decided to come to California.

“Charlotte and I knew the outdoors a little. Though we were middle-aged, mothers of families and deeply involved in the historic struggle for the vote, we sometimes looked at the sky.”

Gazing at a map, Edna saw “a great empty space just east of the Sierra Nevada Range and the San Bernardino Mountains vaguely designated as the Mojave Desert.”

“Was the desert just a white space like that?” she wondered. “The word had a mixed connotation; it suggested monotony, sterility, death — and also big open spaces, gold and blue sunsets, and fascination. We recollected that some author had written about the ‘terrible fascination’ of the desert. The white blank on the map looked very wild and lonely. We went to Los Angeles on the Santa Fe [Railroad] in order to see what it might contain.”

In those days, there was no paved road into the Mojave. And when they arrived in Los Angeles and aired their plan to explore it, they were met with discouragement on every side.

“Our friends drew a dismal picture of us sitting out in the sagebrush beside a disabled car and slowly starving to death. ‘You could not fix it,’ they said, ‘and what would you do?’ We suggested that we might wait until somebody came along. They assured us that nobody ever came along.”


READ THE WHOLE PIECE HERE.






Friday, May 19, 2017

CORITA KENT


Corita (center right) at Immaculate Heart College Mary’s Day celebration, 1964. Image courtesy of the Corita Art Center, Immaculate Heart Community, Los Angeles.

This week's arts and culture column is on renowned Catholic artist, Corita (formerly Sister Corita) Kent.

The piece begins like this:

The Center for Spiritual Renewal in Montecito was founded by the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, a community with an interesting history. Visiting there recently, I spotted a coffee-table book entitled “Someday is Now: The Art of Corita Kent.”

Anyone who grew up in the New Hampshire Seacoast-Boston area, as I did, knew Sister Corita from the huge Rainbow Swash design on the gas storage tank that was visible as you whizzed by on the Southeast Expressway.

I remembered her from my youth as a zany nun. She seemed old to me then, a somewhat quaint figure who’d managed to escape what I then viewed as the straitjacket of organized religion.

In fact, the Rainbow Swash was designed on the back end of a decades-long career that included innovative teaching and social activism, as well as art.

As independent curator Michael Duncan put it in his “Someday is Now” essay, “A unique contributor to Pop Art and the generator or an effective style of socially engaged art-making, [Corita] has been rediscovered by a new generation bred on Photoshop, grassroots activism, font-tweaking and DIY publishing.”


READ THE WHOLE PIECE HERE.


Monday, May 15, 2017

THE G2 GALLERY: NATURE AND LIFE PHOTOGRAPHY


SOME OF MY OWN "WILDLIFE" PHTOGRAPHY.
SCENES FROM THE HDK APARTMENT BALCONY. 


This week's arts and culture piece is on a wonderful gallery. It begins:

Smack in the midst of Venice’s über swank-hip Abbot Kinney Boulevard is a welcome oasis featuring nature and wildlife photography: The G2 Gallery.

Founded in 2008, the award-winning G2 “facilitates change by bringing attention to environmental issues through the persuasive power of photographic art.” All proceeds from its art sales are donated to environmental charities.

The gallery was founded and is run by Dan and Susan Gottlieb. Dan was trained as a lawyer, Susan as a nurse. Widely traveled, the couple has long been interested in environmental causes. In the 1980s, Susan began removing the garden from their home in Beverly Hills and installing a California native plant garden. (I learned of G2 while taking a class at Sun Valley’s Theodore Payne Foundation, a Southern California native plant mecca.)

Susan’s garden is now designated by the National Wildlife Federation as a certified Wildlife Habitat, and by the Xerces Society as a certified Pollinator Habitat. She has just published a book entitled “The Gottlieb Native Garden: A California Love Story.” You can take a virtual tour and learn how to visit at gottliebnativegarden.com.

So those are the folks behind this worthy cause.


READ THE WHOLE PIECE HERE.




A MILLION TIMES BETTER THAN TV.
HOUSE FINCHES, TITMOUSES, BLUE JAYS, SPARROWS...
AND ALWAYS, THE BIRDSONG...

OUR LADY ABOVE THE DOOR

SOLAR-POWERED FAIRY LIGHTS
THAT COME ON LIKE MAGIC AT NIGHT!

HUMMINGBIRD CAFETERIA


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

THIS, THAT, AND ROSES



LA's winter rains have brought an insane bounty of spring flowers. Pasadena is known for its roses to begin with, but they are outdoing themselves this year. You'll be driving along and see them cascading off walls, around fountains, over fences.

This "nothing special" stand, trellised along an ordinary office building, capture some of the there-for-the-taking magic.





ROSES,
 HUNTINGTON DRIVE.
SAN MARINO, CA

More news: I've been doing scads of radio interviews and podcasts for my new book which I know you've bought, Holy Desperation.

Last weekend I gave a talk to the Orange County chapter of a Catholic women's organization called Magnificat. I didn't quite understand before meeting them that they are "charismatic" and speak in tongues! So that was a bit of a surprise. The audience was incredibly warm and welcoming I sold lots of books (a turn of events always dear to a writer's heart). And they very generously gave me a hotel room the night before in the hotel where the talk took place. Which was Anaheim, CA.

Anaheim in case you've been asleep all your life ALL ABOUT Disneyland. Harbor Boulevard, the main drag, consists of blocks and blocks and traffic-clogged blocks of high-rise hotels, gas stations and chain restaurants. The Embassy Suites lobby was filled with shrieking, cell-phone clutching teenagers, the girls, to a person, in Mickey Mouse ears.

As soon as I settled in, I nabbed a coffee at the nearest Starbucks (you are never more than 200 yards from one in Anaheim) and set out for a brisk constitutional. Surely there is more to Anaheim than Harbor Boulevard was my thought. Indeed there is. Blocks and blocks and blocks of lower middLe-glass ranch houses, bungalows, pawn shops, liquor stores and gritty strip malls, where I gathered the vast horde of people who provide the labor needed to keep the Disney franchise and its offshoots rolling, live, weep and raise kids.

I saw some lovely old-school courtyards with hibiscus, blooming succulents, and more roses.

Back in my 14th-floor, unimpeded-view hotel room, I threw open the drapes, reclined on the gigantic bed, and basked in the sunset,




SUNSET FROM ROOM 1401,
EMBASSY SUITES-SOUTH, ANAHEIM CA

Today, safe home, I'm writing a piece about Servant of God Demetrius Gallitzen, "Apostle of the Alleghenies." Then I'll head to Rite-Aid for more Flonase, followed by the noon Mass at St. Philip.

STAINED GLASS WINDOW,
VESTIBULE,
ST. PHILIP CHURCH, PASADENA

Saturday, May 6, 2017

CHARLES AND RAY EAMES


RAY AND CHARLES EAMES
© 2017 Eames Office, LLC (eamesoffice.com)

This week's arts and culture column is about the Charles and Ray Eames Foundation.

Here's how it begins:

Charles and Ray Eames, husband and wife, were one of the foremost design teams of the 20th century.

Charles’ background was in architecture. One of his first commissions was St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Helena-West Helena, Arkansas (1934). Architectural Forum published a review, after which well-known Finnish architect Elliel Saarinen offered Eames a fellowship to the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, where he would eventually head the industrial design department.

That’s where Charles met Ray, whose background was in painting and color. They married in 1941 and moved to Los Angeles. The documentary “Eames: The Architect and the Painter” tells the story.

For years, 901 Washington Boulevard in Venice was the design team’s nerve center. Walking into the Eames Office, one former employee observed, was like walking into a circus: animation stands, photographs spread out on tables, models, a screening room, a woodshop, salt water tanks, all with the je ne sais quoi Eames patina.

The Eames didn’t hold with rigid rules. A design degree wasn’t necessary in order to work for them, but rather imagination, flexibility, intuition, the ability “to think and to see” — and a capacity for incredibly hard work.

“For them, these names like painter and architect, they weren’t job descriptions; they were ways of looking at the world.”

“Life was fun, was work, was fun, was life.”


READ THE WHOLE PIECE HERE. 

THE EAMES HOUSE, PACIFIC PALISADES CA
http://eamesfoundation.org/

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

THANK YOU, SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION!


OH BEAUTIFUL FOR SPACIOUS SKIES.
OR HAVE WE SOLD THEM, TOO?...


Ha folks I am officially old now.

I turn 65 in July--I know it's hard to believe, I'm so mature--and I have applied for and been accepted to Medicare!

Adela from Kaiser is coming over TO MY APT. this afternoon, such is the individual attention, to pick up my app for Parts C and D or however it goes. I'm gonna get me a "Silver and Fit" card and will thus get "free" gym (for 20 bucks a month).

My only real ailment (besides tingly hands at night, intermittent skin conditions, and a chronically sore back) is hay fever, which right now in Southern Cal is rather a 24/7 problem. (Side note: I got a prescription for allergy eye drops with two refills and sometime between the time I picked up the first prescription and the time I called for a refill which was less than two weeks, my insurance (not Medicare yet) had decided they didn't cover it anymore. Weird, right?).

It's happening! I'm old and all I want to talk about is my "health problems."

I promise I won't bring them up again unless I come down with something really gross or otherwise interesting. But I do want to emphasize I am ALL, at this point, about being old. Bring on the "senior" discounts! Hold the door. Carry my packages. And give me some money.

Meanwhile I continue to dig up Bermuda grass in my "garden" and finally got a chance to go back to my beloved Lower Arroyo last week around the magic hour.

Here I became entranced by the mysterious beauty of sage, which is in its full glory right now. The heady fragrance is really required for full effect.  

But here are some pix.