Winter Curatives

Nowadays the night descendeth at the delicate hour of 5 pm and next thing you know the hoarfrost is going to be all up in our shizz. The hoarfrost and the rime, not to mention the boreal winds. Well, you can rage, rage against the turning of the planet, or you can lock your door, turn on some Decemberists or Oum Kalthoum and enjoy its sweet, sweet and black frigidity.

Here are my own personal recommendations for daylight-savings-blown-to-hell discombobulation.

Coconut water–that sweet tropical elixir best sucked straight from a green coconut on a foreign beach. I know some of the magic is lost drinking it from an aluminum can at the laundromat, but  if you really think about it–fresh coconut nectar trickling down your gullet in the cold and gray is even more magical. My laundromat is patronized mostly by Chicanos and East-Indian-Americans which means, a few swigs of my Goya and it’s not too difficult to imagine we’re all at the beach together in Goa or Acapulco rather than sorting and folding our knee socks. I picture us all in Victorian-style bathing onesies (see Oct 5 post) because it’s less awkward in some ways. It’s probably more awkward in others and a lesson to us all that we never know when strangers are undressing us with their eyes, or even worse, dressing us up in very unattractive period costumes.


Mexican Street TacosCarnitas from the cooking blog smittenkitchen.com With slaw, and crema, and little lime spritzes. This recipe makes me want to grab someone by the lapels and shake them really hard and yell, “Holy Shit, You Have to Taste These!!!” until they taste them and say, “These are the best tacos in the world made in some white chick’s kitchen of predominantly German descent.” At which point I will grab them by the lapels again and bellow, “I know!!!!” And then it will be sort of awkward because I am still holding their lapels for much longer than is commonly acceptable and I have crema on my chin, while they are dressed semi-formally and didn’t bargain for all of this sexual tension, which is not sexual anyway. It’s taco-based tension. Oh, sweet Mother of Mary, they are that good. Instant transport to balmy Mexico.

Prints by Karl P. Koenig–an Albuquerque-based photographer who invented the gumoil technique for photographic printing. He travels all over the world lecturing and demonstrating this obviously bitchin’ method which renders photographs looking tarnished in an ethereal sort of way. If he uses cold press it’s inky-looking–you know, painterly– if he uses hot press it is more photographic. And then there is gravure which is like a whole ‘nother bag of apples involving metal plates coated with polymer which gives it an intaglio surface which…okay, I am totally just cribbing from his website. I don’t know anything about printing photographs. But I like the sound of it and I just visited Koenig’s studio with my 1.5 year old daughter who was too preoccupied with the socks she was wearing on her hands to give a shit about a gumoil. Why is Karl Koenig one of my winter curatives? Well, because much of his work does seem kind of grounded in winter, impressionistically recalling summer or unabashedly capturing the beauty of bare branches. And I just wanted to work him into my blog somehow, because he is a cool local talent.

I have many more winter curatives up my sleeve which I shall share with you forthwith. Well, forthwith-ish. Maybe next week. If you have any of your own magical cures for winter doldrums, gloom and cold, post them in the comment section. I haven’t even mentioned any good winter films, books, furs, sea chanties, pancake recipes, fire starters or herbal tonics yet. Also, my friend John wants to know the really very true non-fiction story of how I got kicked out of art school. Also there is non-existent cotton candy that yearns to exist. Wow, people. Do not believe that. That is a first class fallacy of logic and metaphysics both. Seriously. There is no longing outside of existence.

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Look What My Cousin Found!

Gail–

I was just sitting in a cute little Indian restaurant reading about Victorians on your blog (got to Wilmington, DE with Veronica 1.5 hours before showtime for her last performance of Mozart’s The Magic Flute (possibly written to prove that Masons were as crazy as Victorians)…  and when I left to head for the theater I walked by the Delaware Historical Society and this sign…

Coincidence? Maybe so, maybe not. More importantly, what would the Victorians, with all of their modesty, think of this?… And will this just begin a downward spiral of the Delaware Historical Society repeatedly undresses women of numerous affiliations?… And who WILL be next? Masons? Moravians? Lilliputians? Scandinavians?

Good question, Jason! Must we make history so titillating? Hasn’t the white male Patriarchy done enough, what with their male gaze always gazing to and fro and all over the place? Haven’t Victorian women just suffered by being Victorian women? Now they have to be posthumously stripped?

My cousin Jason. He keeps me informed about all sorts of urbane happenings and cultural events in the Philadelphia area. He also knows how to make the most decadent and recherché desserts. He also scored very high on his SAT’s. Yet he was a sort of naughty child. No, that’s not true. Not naughty–lively, spirited! Willing to partake in the most misguided schemes that usually ended in property damage on my grandparents’ Lancaster county farm. Like the time we rang the bell so hard in the old schoolhouse-turned-garage that we broke the rope. That was some very naughty bell ringing!

But no matter–he is an upstanding young gentleman now. A masterful cook, married to an opera singer, with refined tastes and an eye for upscale indignities.

I say: For shame, Delaware Historical Society! Let the ladies keep their clothes on.

Lord Nelson in the Hizzous

I know what you’re thinking. I know. You’re thinking: “What is up with Lord Nelson? What’s up with all of this: ‘I loooove Lord Nelson! He is just the most beloved British naval hero of all time! Let’s build him a column! In London! Gaaaaahhhhh…Horatio Nelson!'”

Well who would you rather enshrine? Admiral Jacky Fisher? Okay. Well he may have renovated the entire English fleet, scrapping all of those timbered boats for oil-fueled steel ones, but he was also a dance hall loon who forced his officers to attend “whirling dance jamborees” on the poop decks of his battleships. He would dock their pay if they tried to hide out below. Not cool, Jacky Fisher.

Also, according to Wikipedia, Jacky Fisher is accredited with the first use of the acronym OMG for Oh My God. Which is really, like, a travesty of the English language. So yes, he was a character, yes he charmed, yes he got the Westminster funeral, burial under a mighty chestnut tree, and so forth. But no, Jacky Fisher failed to die heroically at sea.

“I hear that a new order of Knighthood is on the tapis—O.M.G. (Oh! My God!)—Shower it on the Admiralty!” (Letter written by Jacky Fisher, 1917)

Which brings us to the pink-cheeked, adored, cockaded and shot-through-the-neck Admiral Horatio Nelson: Chaser (but not catcher) of Polar Bears. Loser of Arms. Gallant of the Drawing Room. Bane of Napoleon. Capturer of Corsica. Boondazzler of the Nile. Mofo of Trafalgar.

Here he is after getting it through the neck during said battle in 1805.

Here he is sans right arm (shot off at Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife) loping along the English coast, piteously holding his right glove in his left hand. Note the stalwart expression on his face. Also notice the mod yet wistful stevedore in the background.

Here he is in his youth in a portrait by Rigaud. Just looking kind of hot. Notice his right arm is totally still there.

I could go on. But all I will say for now is, enough already. The Battle of Trafalgar meant British mastery of the seas which meant Pax Britannica. All of you Nelson naysayers are ignorant. And have you nothing better to do with your time?