June Brides

•06/22/12 • 10 Comments


Yes, yes, I know, the errant in me is silently creeping in to post an utterance to my diminishing band of readers who have all but abandoned me, as I have them. Forgive me, but I will make my new endeavors known shortly. In the interim, a bit of art to soothe the brow of the cultural wars that divide us. Lest you thought this to be a personal announcement of the Errant Aesthete’s upcoming nuptials … well, yea of momentous imagination!

Before the month of June of 2012, leaves us to the annals of history, an enchanting, and in these times, controversial, cover from first-time contributor, Gayle Kabaker, for the New Yorker commemorating a year of marriage equality in New York. Chosen from the blog, Blown Covers, also known as ‘New Yorker covers you were never meant to see,’ the story of the pick for the June 25 cover is, clearly, far gentler than the feedback.

The magazine’s art editor, Françoise Mouly, found the image through her Blown Covers blog. Every week, Mouly hosts a cover contest on the blog, open to all, with themes that closely mirror those she suggests to her regular contributors, from Father’s Day to books to the theme that reeled this image in: weddings. Kabaker is the first artist to make the leap from blog to cover.

“I live in the Berkshires, so I do almost all of my work online,” Kabaker said. “It’s a big deal, getting on the cover. … Françoise told me not to tell my mother until the issue actually went to press, because things could change,” she added. “I didn’t want to say that my mother’s dead—but I know she’d be very proud of me.”

I had thought to end this lovely little anecdote with that warm sentiment on the artist’s deceased mother, but the bliss of brides and weddings is not only a political war, but one of gender as well, as evidenced in this email to the New Yorker on their depiction of marriage:

“Why isn’t there a gay male couple on the cover of New Yorker magazine? You guys seem to have a habit of avoiding showing gay male couples on the cover of your magazine. This is not going down well with the gay male community and has been criticized on popular gay websites like towleroad. Perhaps New Yorker is not the gay-friendly magazine it claims to be. All in all, this selective homophobia on the part of New Yorker magazine is one of the reasons why I and my gay male friends won’t be voting for Obama.”

A more reasonably seasoned soul noted, “Really? You and your friends are going to vote for Mitt Romney because of a New Yorker cover?”

So, it would seem. How banal and predictable we are. How rabid and quick triggered our responses, how shallow and sluggish our thinking.




•05/27/12 • 2 Comments


(1140-1160, Lombardy)

Although this sculpture of Eve on the portal of the Cathedral of Lodi, also known as Basilica Cattedrale della Vergine Assunta located in Lodi, Lombardy, Italy, is a statue set against a pier, a column-statue in the Italian manner, in execution it is close to the French style. Some consider this a work by Benedetto Antelami from the second third of the 12th century; it was more probably carved by an Antelami follower. The expressiveness of the sorrowful face, the dynamic movement emphasized by the folds of the contemporary dress, and the linear formulations are all characteristic of the 12th-century Lombard school.

In a word, exquisite.



•04/01/12 • 6 Comments


“Wouldn’t it be
a fine thing,
a swell thing,
a boon to the community of man
and to all creatures great and small,
if this girl’s soul
was as ripe
and stunning
as her ass.”



Image: Horst
Words: Tom Robbins, Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas



Dolce Far Niente

•03/27/12 • 6 Comments




I am obsessed with home right now for I am in search of one. A quiet place, a private place where I can retreat from everything. There is a beautiful expression in Italian ‘Dolce Far Niente.’ The sweetness of doing nothing. For me, these spaces are exactly that, places that require little more than just being in them — doing nothing.



There should be at least one room, or some corner,
where no one will find you and disturb you or notice you. You should
be able to untether yourself from the world and set yourself free,
loosing all the fine strings and strands of unison that bind you,
by sound, by thought, to the presence of other men.



Images: Electic Revisited
Homes & Gardens
Chateau de Moissac
Passage: Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation



Passing Through

•03/26/12 • Leave a Comment


Things always come when they are meant to, even if a bit late. This post, “Passing Through,” for example, seemed perfectly harmonious with the lyrics of a song, entitled “Empty” by Ray LaMontagne.

You see,
I’ve been to
hell and back
so many times
I must admit


And then late this morning, as I was idly paging through a mostly forgotten book, the perfect pairing of word and image found its way to me in this fable taken from the Tales of the Hassidim. While the weathered door hardly resembles the modest room depicted in the fable, it, somehow, matters not.


A tourist from America paid a visit to a renowned Polish rabbi, Hofetz Chaim.
He was astonished to see the rabbi’s home was only a simple room filled with books, plus a table and bench.
“Rabbi,” asked the tourist, “where is your furniture?”
“Where is yours?” replied Hofetz Chaim.
“Mine?” asked the puzzled American. “But I’m only passing through.”
“So am I,” said the rabbi.



Overheard: Bette Davis

•03/24/12 • 3 Comments



I’m the nicest goddamn dame that ever lived


When a man gives his opinion he’s a man. When a woman gives her opinion she’s a bitch.


I often think that a slightly exposed shoulder emerging from a long satin nightgown packed more sex than two naked bodies in bed.


In this business, until you’re known as a monster you’re not a star.


I’d marry again if I found a man who had fifteen million dollars, would sign over half to me, and guarantee that he’d be dead within a year.


I wanted to be the first to win three Oscars, but Miss Hepburn has done it. Actually it hasn’t been done. Miss Hepburn only won half an Oscar. If they’d given me half an Oscar I would have thrown it back in their faces. You see, I’m an Aries. I never lose.


I survived because I was tougher than anybody else.


I will never be below the title.



Image: Bette Davis, Photographer: George Hurrell



The Enchanted Edible Forest

•03/22/12 • 1 Comment


Surely, it had to be enchanted. What else could account for the intoxication in the air – the perfumed scent of peaches, apples, lemons and plums, the aroma of lavender, rosemary, sage and thyme. Everywhere you looked there were fruit and nut trees forming an open canopy, with the bounty of their gifts limning the branches — pears, persimmons, pecans, and chestnuts. Barely visible shrubs yielding raspberries, blueberries, currants and hazelnuts filled the earthen hollows with other lesser-known fruits, flowers, and nuts making their scattered debut throughout the seasons. Native wildflowers, herbs, wild edibles, and perfectly colored and curved perennial vegetables blanketed the earth in a cornucopia of plenty.

Looking across this woodland web of ecological wonder, where food and medicine is cultivated, where birds, bees, butterflies and insects congregate, where soil replenishes and redeems, and where vines, trees and arbors of hanging kiwis, grapes and passion-flowers adorn nature’s nave like small sacraments, you suddenly realize this is not fantasy, but a true to life edible forest, a celestial shrine, a green cathedral, anointed with gratitude, tended with reverence and venerated by all.

This life force, or what is being called, “a park to be eaten” is currently underway on two acres of land in my newly adopted home of Seattle. In a gesture of unimagined cooperation, agreement and simple goodness, this edible ecosystem will be all-natural, healthy, and free to the public. The goal is to mimic nature while providing free, healthy food to the local community. Citizens will be invited to harvest food on the honor system. “It’s just good ethics,” one of the designers said. “Help yourself, don’t take it all and save some for anybody else.”

‘As a new citizen of the Emerald City, I couldn’t be prouder,’ I murmured in silent tribute, as though my arrival on the scene like the Elf Queen Galadriel in a wisp of gossamer, sprinkling a wave of fairy dust from my ecologically-engineered wand had something to do with Seattle’s inspiration.

The Japanese farmer and philosopher, Masanobu Fukuoka once said,


“The ultimate goal
of farming
is not the growing of crops,
but the cultivation
and perfection
of human beings.”


How we garden reflects our worldview. It is a testament to ourselves, our livelihood, and the legacy we leave behind. It’s objective is not merely the growing of things for survival, or the industrialization of farming as a means to control, contaminate and cash in on our nation’s polluted and plundered food supply, but the life-affirming cultivation and perfection of new ways of seeing, of thinking, and of acting in the world. Forest gardening gives us the experience of what it means to feel the dirt, scatter the seeds, cradle a bulb, all the while teaching us how the planet works, how life blooms, dies and resurrects, and how we, as a species, can master our collective destiny, assuming our rightful place as part of nature doing nature’s work.

Seattle’s first harvest is expected in spring of 2013, although the trees will take a few years to bear fruit. There is talk that the park may be expanded to seven splendid acres, making it the largest food forest in America.


Image: Green Cathedral, Joel Barr, Painting in Oils