Friday, August 31, 2012

still-sound 100. Blue Moon

Tonight there will be a blue moon.  All this means is that it's the second full moon in a calendar month.  I wished that it meant that the moon, for one night, glowed blue.

I will celebrate this event, something that only occurs once in a blue moon, by lighting a stick of Fu In Kyara incense by Minorien.  The little kiri wood box bearing a deep teal blue label is beautiful.  The sticks sleep in a bed of soft, lacy paper.  The first time I burnt this incense I thought it smelled like patchouli.  I suppose I still do.  But there's so much more.  It's very earthy and damp and woodsy.  It's not what I expect from a kyara stick.  It's less sweet and a little spicy.  I think it's the appropriate scent for a blue moon.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

still-sound 99. Fruit

Look at this fruit salad I made.  I've been making them throughout the summer.  Once a week.  They all have melon and pineapple.  And a couple of oranges thrown in too.  This particular one has green seedless grapes.  In the past I've included cherries which required slicing and pitting - too much work for the final product.  Cherries are better eaten on their own. 

I once added peaches but chose not to do so again.  The peaches I bought had little flavor and when added to the other fruits, became mushy. 

I throw all of the sliced fruit into a big shino-glazed bowl.  

Friday, August 24, 2012

still-sound 98. Ted Gontarski

This picture is for my Dad.  It would have been his birthday today.  I started drawing birds because of him.  He knows why.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

still-sound 97. Notebooks

If I were kid, I would most certainly have my back-to-school supplies bought by now.  In fact, one of my highlights of summer vacation would be the trip to K-Mart to buy a new Trapper Keeper, pencils and folders. 

I still have a fetish for stationary.  Maybe it's because I'm half Asian.  Asians tend to love notebooks, stickers, erasers, pens and paper.  In fact my preferred stationers right now, Postalco, is now based in Japan, having gotten its start in Brooklyn.

Look at the little insert that comes inside a Postalco notebook.

If you're anything like me, you'll know how exciting this is.  You'll also love how the notebook paper is light blue and graphed.  I got a small notepad to jot down useful bits of information.  Like how to set the aperture and time on my camera when it's in manual mode.

I recently wrote down the names of Northern Soul songs that I wanted to try and find on record.  I hope the list grows but I know that it probably will not because I always forget that I'm even keeping a list of Northern Soul songs that I'd like to find on record.

Whenever I visit France I pick up some Rhodia notebooks, for myself and to give as gifts.  I realize that they're for sale at Blick's, two blocks away from my work on Beverly Blvd, but still, I bring them back from France in my suitcase as though they were exotic spices or fine silk.

Rob gave me this notebook when he came back from a recent trip to Munich.  He got it at Galeria Kaufhof.

It's still sealed in plastic.  I have no idea what I'll use it for.  It'll stay in plastic until I think of something.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

still-sound 96. Composting is fun

It's true.  Composting is fun.  You should try it.

You need an outdoor space and vegetal waste.  I'm sure you have the latter if not the former.  I only have a small terrace right now - too small to accomodate a composting bin.  Just to think of my current landlord's probable reaction both fills me with dread and a small amount of delight.  I miss composting though.  When I lived in Long Beach there was a no- man's land between our house and the fence of our neighbor's property.  A useless space that was secluded from any activity, so I designated it the compost alley.

The man in this picture is enjoying his compost in a medium-sized wooden structure.  I nicked the picture from  These frames are easy to make and readily available for purchase, but were too large to fit into my compost alley.  Instead, I fashioned a compost bin out of a big trash can.  The largest I could find at Home Depot.  I drilled large holes all around it.  If you choose to do the same, remember that more is better than less in this instance.  You will need plenty of air to reach the decomposing matter. 

I then started to fill the bin with all fruit and vegetable waste from the kitchen.  I was shocked by how much I accumulated.  This is, in fact, the reason I decided to compost in the first place.  I was frustrated by the amount of waste I generated.  The recycling bin seemed to fill up in the blink of an eye and I hated the idea of leaving a legacy of inorganic, undecaying garbage somewhere out of my sight and existence...but surely in someone else's.

This is what I would throw into my compost bin:  fruit peelings and cores: carrot tops: leaves that settled into compost alley; coffee grinds; crushed up egg shells; avocado pits; hair clippings from when I would trim my hair; dead flowers that, when alive, used to grace my living room; more coffee grinds; the little bits of salad leaves that I'd forget about in the fridge and turn brown and mushy; and god only knows what else.

Do not include any of the following things into your compost bin: animal waste of any sort including dog poo.  Twigs and of course branches aren't great either.  They take so much longer to break down and I found myself constantly combing them out.

I would shovel deep down into the bin and turn the compost twice a week.  Sometimes I would lay the bin on its side allowing more air to reach the surface area (thankfully it had wheels making the process easier - it gets heavy pretty quickly). 

When you start getting shovelfulls of matter that resemble and smell of compost rather than rotting garbage, move it to another heap. I had large trays for this, covered with plastic sheets, weighed down by rocks.  After another month or two I would then collect the finished compost into the large bags that potting soil comes in.  You have no idea how satisfying this process is.  To make rich, nourishing dirt from garbage.

When we left Long Beach for Echo Park two years ago, we advertised many things on craigslist in an attempt to minimize belongings and lighten the move.  No one was interested in my collection of Dwell magazines.  One person eventually bought the electric guitar we received from Volkswagen as a promotional gift with purchase.  The ad for a free, ventilated bin with wormy, fertile compost received an overwhelming response.  I could barely keep up with the inquiries.  In the end, an elderly woman from Orange County came to pick it up with her husband.  They drove an immaculate Oldsmobile, barely fit the compost bin in the trunk and drove away.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

still-sound 95. One year

I started writing this blog exactly one year ago.  Happy birthday still-sound!

My intention was to visually keep track of the pots I was making in the ceramics studio and to record my impressions of the various incenses I'd been collecting.  Both endeavors are somehow related to my meditation practice.  The blog started to take on other themes and directions without my intending to do so.  It just did. 

I've started looking at my day-to-day life with a clearer lense. I constantly ask myself  if what I'm seeing and doing, as mundane as it may initially appear, is actually interesting.  It almost always is.  I just need to be still enough to notice.  I am grateful to have this blog, a transforming vessel where I get to throw ideas and memories in, and let them sit until it's time to float up.  Like a bubble.

Nevermind if most of my posts end up being about Rosie or my moustache. 

One realization that becomes clearer to me the more I sit still and take notice, is that all things are interconnected and affect each other.  We are all part of each other and we are all part of nature. What could possibly be more important and radical than to treat another human being and the Earth with kindness? 

I'm realizing more that everything constantly shifts and changes.  Our world, as dark and unbalanced as it may seem, is simultaneously host to profound, unexpected wonder. I am grateful for my everyday experiences. I am grateful that most people I meet are generous enough to tell me their stories.  Everyone has stories.  Fascinating ones.  

I am so grateful that there are people out in the world who choose to read about Rosie and my moustache in this blog.

I recently read something from Daniel Pinchbeck that I quite liked:

As we gain more flexibility in our thinking and emotional lives, reducing projections and attachments, we become more available to synchronicity, surprise and wonder – we become, internally, more free.

To another year of synchronicity, surprise and wonder.  And to freedom!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

still-sound 94. White Denim

On Saturday night I saw a band named White Denim perform at the Troubadour.  They're from Austin, Texas.

I've been listening to their album D a lot recently.

I wore white jeans to the show.  A girl named Alesa approached me and took a picture of the two of us because she was also wearing white denim.  Except her jeans had black lightning bolts printed on them.  Mine did not.  There was someone walking around with short, white jean cut-offs but she didn't make it into our picture.

When the band started to play, my arms covered in goosebumps.  This sometimes happens to me when I really enjoy music.  James Petralli, the lead singer, introduced the first song with a tight guitar riff which he repeated again and again very fast, setting a pace and pattern.  The band spent the next seventy five minutes playing at 150 mph following an intricate course; navigating between classic rock, blues, feedbacky psychedelia and country western with virtuostic jazz fusion guitar solos thrown in for good measure.  

They have songs in 5/4 time.

These lads could play.  Apparent, endless hours in the rehearsal studio and musical chops allowed them to change time signatures in one beat without dropping a single note.  One song seamlessly blended into the next.  James soulfully crooned and sometimes howled.  Sweat dripped from the microphone.  Austin Jenkins, the other guitar player, (who slightly resembles the singer from A-ha), finished an impossible guitar solo with effortless ease and started laughing at its completion.  Rock ecstasy.

I love that they valued the art of the guitar solo. 

Steve, the bespectacled bassist, looked like somebody's kid brother.  I loved this about him.  I can only describe his playing as lithe and instinctual.

At one point, Alesa nudged me on the back of my knee - confirming our White Denim solidarity.  "Indeed" I implied with a half-turn of the head.

As I left the Troubadour I noticed the table set up in the front bar selling tee-shirts and records.  I bought a white tee-shirt and an EP pressed on white vinyl from Steve, the bespectacled bassist in fact.  I asked him to sign the record.  He wrote "Rock Steady, Steve". 


Saturday, August 11, 2012

still-sound 93. Hori-kawa

I desire rituals.  I invent new ones and perform old ones all the time.

One summer as a teenager, I took to retreating regularly into my teen bedroom to listen to music.  I would switch on the window air conditioner to eradicate any evidence of the hot Pennsylvania mugginess outside.  I kept all the lights off save a single blue bulb.  I'd select a stick of incense from a small brown paper bag, recently purchased at a Head Shop in New Hope.  I listened to Cocteau Twins at their ethereal best.  Victorialand spun around on the turntable at 45 rpm.  I thought it was cool that a full length LP was meant to be played at 45 rpm and not 33 1/3.  I sat on the carpeted floor and took it all in.

It's so hot today in Los Angeles.  I turned the air conditioner on at home.  I looked for my Victorialand record again, in vain.  Most of my records have been in storage for years because I've been without a record player until recently.  Not Victorialand though.  I stashed it in a special place because that album has always been so important to me and I always wanted it to be close at hand. 

Except I can't seem to remember where that special place is. 

Thankfully I have it on my i-pod.  A stand-in but certainly not a substitution for the record which I will find one day.

I lit a stick of Shoyeido's Hori-kawa incense.  It's a magnicent sandalwood stick warmed with cinnamon and benzoin.  The scent is so soft and cuddly, like a kitten's fur.  I do not have a blue light bulb though and will probably not be buying one.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

still-sound 92. Nightrun

I've started running at night.

It started last week when I was unable to swim after work.  The pool closed early because the water was cloudy.  This is what the man in the ticket window told me when he finally looked up from the computer which received his undivided attention for an inappropriately long period of time.  The water is often cloudy when I swim there.  I wondered just how cloudy it was this time.  I also wondered why the man in the window didn't write that the pool had closed early on the chalkboard sign outside the entrance.  After all, that's why the chalkboard sign is there.

The experience at the pool frustrated me far more than it should have.  When I returned home I put on my yellow sneakers and embarked on a run through Elysian Park.  I had never gone running in the park this late, in the dark.  Much of the path is sheltered by tree cover and for long stretches was only barely lit by moonlight.  I wondered if there would be any scary people lurking around the trail.  Thankfully there weren't, although I was prepared to sprint away if necessary.

I enjoyed the night run and decided to make it into a habit.  On my second run I encountered a skunk towards the end of the course.  It was crossing the road - its stinky body moving along quite elegantly in a rippling motion.

My third run was surprisingly populated, mostly by people walking dogs in the dark.  At one point a fellow runner passed me yet seemed to keep the same pace as me.  He ran roughly twenty feet ahead of me for about a mile then momentarily slowed down, at which point I passed him and kept twenty feet ahead of him for another mile.  We had become unwitting running mates, separated by twenty feet.  When we reached a series of hills he sprang into action and ascended quickly.  The back of his heather gray, standard-issue tee-shirt said PU.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

still-sound 91. Russian gifts

My dear friend Marina gave me this beautiful cup and saucer for my most recent birthday.  It was made by the Lomonosov Porcelain Factory in St. Petersburg and features their best-known pattern called Cobalt Net.  I drink coffee from it every morning.  The porcelain is so fine that sunlight glows through it, illuminating the drained cup. 

I first discovered Lomonosov porcelain in the Mariage Freres teashop in Paris.  I admired it and for my next birthday Rob surprised me with a pair of teacups and saucers of the Cobalt Net pattern.  I kept them in my studio in London and served tea whenever someone would visit me.  The studio was in Whitechapel, downstairs from a bookbinders and was bone-achingly cold for most of the year.  I shared the space with three other artists and many mice.  I curtained off an area to keep it separate from the workshop - I always kept this enclave tidy for tea.

Marina has spoiled me with several beautifully-chosen gifts.  Last year when she discovered my love for Lomonosov porcelain she responded by treating me to a coffee cup, straight from St. Petersbug, featuring a modern, striped pattern. 

Last Sunday she visited me at the perfume shop where I work and presented Carlos and me with Russian jelly candies, in the shapes and flavors of lemon and orange slices.  I tried one of each and then proceeded to eat half the box.  Marina urged Carlos to try them before I ended up eating them all.  This was a wise piece of advice.

Of all of Marina's gifts, my favorites are her stories.  When she was a little girl, living in the Soviet Union, her father took a job in Mongolia.  The entire family packed up and boarded the Trans-Siberian Express.  They reached their destination after several days and lived in a yurt.*  

In the 80s she defected.  She stayed in Italy temporarily until she could settle in Canada, then the United States.  Her husband is a jazz saxophonist.  I like the idea of a jazz saxophonist defecting.  It makes me think of the movie Moscow on the Hudson featuring Robin Williams, a cold war, feel-good classic.  I saw it when I was a kid.

On Sunday we started talking about The United Arab Emirates and discovered that we knew very little about them.  We didn't know if Abu Dhabi and Dubai were cities or states.  They are both emirates or principalities evidently.  There are seven emirates in total.  We carried on reading about the UAE while I nibbled on jelly citrus fruits.  Marina didn't have any.   

*Since writing this, I've seen Marina again.  She informed me that I embellished the facts a little bit.  In Mongolia her family lived in a wooden house, not a yurt.  She's never been inside a yurt.  She told me that no Russian reading this would ever believe that she lived in a yurt.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

still-sound 90. Evening on the terrace

On Monday when I got home from work, I made myself a little dinner and ate on the terrace.  Although there was a game on across the street at Dodger's Stadium, it was strangely quiet.  The parking lot was packed to capacity but I didn't see or hear any human activity.  The flashing lights of a parked police car provided the only visual activity to animate the otherwise still vista.  

As the light dimmed I finished eating and continued drinking a glass of cold wine.  I read a New York Times article on my phone about Mitt Romney's gaffes abroad.  Specifically his pronouncement that Israel enjoyed a more robust economy than Palestine because of cultural differences.  A provocative statement displaying an insensitivity and an unfairness (considering the trade restrictions imposed on Palestine) that does little to foster confidence in a presidential hopeful.  Last week his comments regarding the lack of enthusiasm and preparedness evidenced by the host country of the current Olympics offended the Brits.  The Brits are self-effacing and choose not to toot their own horn.  They are not, however, overly fond of having their horn untooted by an American.

An illuminated blimp hovered in the darkening sky.  It eventually floated off, apparently frightened by Rosie's ferocious pug bark.  She started licking the floor of the terrace between woofs.  She likes to lick floors.  I don't know why.  I knew that the only way to stop her was to perch her on my lap.  I propped my legs up on the railing of the terrace to create more of a pug nest.  The angle was too extreme to allow for any comfort on my behalf.  We sat there until the sky darkened completely.  By then I finished my wine and we went inside.