Friday, November 30, 2012

still-sound 128. Franky's barber shop

Look at the picture that appears at the top of Franky's barber shop blog.*  Is it any wonder why I decided to get my hair trimmed there?  Although my loyalty to Ian, Burbank's best barber, is ordinarily unshakable, I found myself wandering into Franky's the day before Thanksgiving.  My appearance was borderline straggly and Ian was taking a few days off for the holidays.  I simply could not wait.

It's an unusal set-up.  The shop is a record and used clothing store with a barber's chair in the corner.  The speakers reverberated with New Order's album Technique as the record spun next to the cash register.  I commented that the New Order concert for the the Technique tour with Public Image Limited and Echo and the Bunnymen sharing the billing was one of my favorite performances ever.  Franky saw the same show in Los Angeles.  It eventually became clear that Franky had seen every show that I had ever seen (in California, rather than Pennsylvania) plus, approximately 8,000 more.  He saw Christian Death play when Rozz Williams was still alive.  Something I had only ever dreamed about in my gothic-tinged adolescence. 

Franky admitted that the show "wasn't so great".  I did not expect this at all.  I was equally scared and excited by Christian Death as a teenager.  I was almost too frightened to flip through their albums in the record store because of what I might see.  I always did though.  I figured that to see them live would be the closest thing to entering Hell and watching Satan's own private minstrels.  Judging from Franky's reaction, this would not have been the case though.

I was pleased with my haircut.  Short back and sides with a side part.  I felt civilized again.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

still-sound 127. Mansard stone

I painted the back wall of my living room on Thanksgiving.  The name of the color is Mansard Stone.*  It took most of the day to complete the project.  The only pause occured when I drove to the supermarket to buy mascarpone cheese, a key ingredient in tiramisu, the dessert I had planned to make.  I forgot about the plan the previous day when I did the main shop for the meal - in fact I even bought a pumpkin pie because that's what I thought one served after Thanksgiving dinner.  But when I took a break from painting and spotted the box of lady finger biscuits above the refrigerator, I remembered my original tiramisu plan and decided to follow through.

When the first layer of paint had dried I panicked that it was too dark.  I added an extra light to the room as the sun set and I began cooking.  I eventually decided that Mansard Stone was not too dark.  It established the moody yet cozy atmosphere I had intended all along.  Rob and Ryota, my Thanksgiving guests, liked the color.  The meal turned out well.  Especially the tiramisu.

Do you want to see one of the pictures hanging against a backdrop of Mansard Stone?

A very talented artist named Sheila Pepe made this drawing with pen and white-out.  She graciously gave it to me in 1995 to thank me for my efforts in helping to organize an exhibition that included her.  The show was called Way Cool.  The gallery was Exit Art.  I worked there for a couple of years after college.  I like the visual rhymes in this drawing.  It's funny.

*I also considered Squirrel Gray and Tweed Gray.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

still-sound 126. Mushrooms & moss

This is what I saw the other morning while walking Rosie.  Today I'm thinking about my sister.  It's her birthday tomorrow.  Every now and then her birthday coincides with Thanksgiving.  I hope she and her family have a wonderful meal to celebrate.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

still-sound 125. Sunday morning & a shave

I slept so deeply last night.  I came home from an especially busy day at work exhausted to find cupcakes left at my door by my neighbor Tiffany.  I ate one after a large bowlful of Vietnamese vermicelli noodles.  I went to bed shortly afterwards.

This morning I emerged from a very dark bedroom to find that it had rained overnight.  The water on my balcony reflected the sky and trees.

After drinking a cup and a half of coffee I brushed shaving cream on to my face.  I recently acquired a badger brush and enjoy my new morning ritual.  It feels silky and nice to have the lather spread on my whiskers.  Beneath the soapy smell of the cream, the subtle but distinctive scent of a wet animal lurks.  I didn't expect this and consider it a nice surprise.

Delighted by the scent of wet animal fur.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

still-sound 124. Recorder music

I have an inexplicable fondness for music played on the recorder.  I'm not suggesting that my Asian background led to a predilection for this particular sound, but face it, when I look up videos of recorder music on youtube, all the performances seem to be in Taiwan, Japan and Korea.

This performance of John Dowland's work by The Royal Wind Music is particularly magical. I am filled with an overwhelming sense of calm while listening.  The instruments' voices are hollow and pure.  I love how the bass recorders are even taller than the musicians, the largest of which appears to be nearly double the height of the player.  While watching the video I couldn't help but imagine this musican's lovelife...meeting a prospective lover in a bar only to take him home to have him ask nervously, "So, what do you do for a living?".  She  would have no choice but to respond with "I play THIS", pointing to a twelve foot instrument

On Sunday I went to Amoeba and purchased several records.  After several listens I decided that my best find was, in fact, Bach fur Blochflote; compositions for recorder and harpsichord.  Baroque perfection.  My comprehension of German is limited at best, but I even I could appreciate the little play on words. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

still-sound 123. Wedding

Saskia Wilson-Brown took this picture

This is a vase I gave to my friends Saskia and Micah for their wedding.  When Saskia sent me this picture I was surprised to see that she fit three stems of carnation through the small opening.  I love how the vase seems to have become a feature in an altar to the newly-married couple's awesomeness.

I went to their reception last week.  Saskia was sleek and beautiful in a golden, floor-length sequined gown.  Micah was dashing, tall and lean in a black suit.  A Cuban band played music and my friend Laura and I started to dance.  I didn't even know that I knew how to dance to Cuban music but somehow it all made sense.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

still-sound 122. Smoke

I wonder what evolutionary course of events led to the instinctual enjoyment of the smell of burning wood.  I think most people like the smell of campfires and smoke escaping chimneys on cold nights.  In fact I know they do.  My work has me chatting with people every day about smells.  Campfires, coffee, the ocean and babies seem to be the most popular scents mentioned.

Obviously our brains are hard-wired to like the smell of babies.  So that we keep them around despite the crying and spitting up.  We are most likely repulsed by rotting food to keep from eating it.  You would think that the warmth generated by a fire and the prospect of cooking food would be reason enough to love burning wood - but the smell is equally pleasing.  So is the noise of the crackle and pops.

Perhaps there is something inherently sacred about burning wood.  Incense is most likely a result of this.  A purification by fire.

There are so few commercial perfumes with a smoky note that I like.  I may be seduced by the first whiff but on the dry-down I smell like a hot dog.  Hinoki by Comme des Garçons x Monocle is one of the few exceptions.  The wood and smoke notes stay balanced and true the entire duration of the fragrance cycle.

We started selling a new perfume at the shop where I work called Bois d'Ascèse.  It's one of two fragrances developed by an Australian milliner based in Paris named Naomi Goodsir.   I can't remember the last time I was so impressed by a new scent and have been spraying it on myself regularly.  A young perfumer named Julien Rasquinet designed it.  He trained under legendary perfumer Pierre Bourdon.  I particularly like a fragrance Rasquinet created for an Icelandic artist named Andrea Maack.  I discovered it last spring and it's called Silk. It smells like a dew-covered violet leaf.

Bois d'Ascèse begins smoky, resembling burning piñon wood. The fragrance settles into a pared-down, transparent scent resembling old wooden church pews infused with incense.

The name is funny.  It must refer to a monastic lifestyle which involves church and incense because a true ascetic experience would probably not include indulgent, expensive perfume.  But then again, those monks are responsible for some of the finest liquors in existence.  They must harbor sybaritic tendencies.  Or at least the French ones do.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

still-sound 121. Foreign junk food

Whenever I am in a foreign place I feel compelled to eat the local junk food.  When Rob and I were in France last spring we stopped into Carrefours Supermarché on the way to the house in Languedoc to stock up on wine, crisps and chocolate.  I hardly ever buy crisps in Los Angeles but oddly I can't seem to have enough of them in France.  It's become an equation.  France = Crisps.  Je préfère le saveur barbeque.

And Speculoos cookies.  They're Belgian delights, but again I associate the endless packets of slightly spiced cookies with France.

When Rob visited Munich in June, he brought back tinned fish.  The Germans appreciate a good tinned fish and have invented interesting flavors.  Like light mustard sauce with diced carrot.

Rob's friend Ryota is from Japan and cooks brilliantly.  The first time I met Ryota he whipped up Okonomiyaki, the delicious pancake stuffed with vegetables and seafood. Traditionally you squeeze strings of mayonnaise across the top and sprinkle flakes of smoked fish until they shimmer on the surface like iridescent scales.  Japanese comfort food.  I ate quickly and greedily, punctuating my pancake with gulps of Asahi stout beer.  At the end of the night I was offered a green-tea Kit Kat.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

still-sound 120. Tuba

One of my neighbors appears to have a tuba.  In the last few weeks I have opened the door to my balcony to be met with a lugubrious tonal splatter.  I can't tell where it's coming from.  My amateur tubist neighbor doesn't play any actual songs with his low brass.  Just an occasional, ornamental toot, toot, blaaah.

When I was in Seoul a few years ago I met a woman named Shi-ne.  She told me about her cousin who, when serving in the army (something all Korean men have to do) was commanded to learn to play the tuba.  Until then he had never played an instrument.  The point was to master a task for which you may display no inherent talent.  He learned to play adequately and served his country by marching along in the army band.

toot, toot, blaaaah.