Friday, March 28, 2008


I loved these photos from the latest issue of Indian fashion and design magazine Verve .
They cover both Indian and western fashion scenes, but these above were all Delhi designers.

Friday, March 21, 2008

SF Asian Film Festival

One of the best films at the festival was Amal

It is the story of a poor rickshaw driver in New Delhi and how sometimes "the poorest people are really the richest". The actors are all amazing and many are stars in India with roles in movies like Gandhi, Monsoon Wedding, and Water. During a Q&A after the screening the director Richie Mehta was on hand to answer questions. The idea came from a short story his brother wrote after a trip from Toronto, where he lives, to Delhi and an exchange with an unusually honest rickshaw driver. The short story became a short and the short became a full feature film.
Gina Kim's Never Forever was also worth seeing - in the Q&A Ms. Kim, who teaches film production at Harvard and was born and raised in Korea before moving to the US, said she wrote the screenplay in an attempt to bring better roles with a deeper emotional landscape to Asian male actors and I would say she succeeds. Vera Farmiga was amazing in the lead.

Last, but not least was the closing night film, The Home Song Stories starring Joan Chen directed by Tony Ayres. It is a deeply moving autobiographical piece giving Ms Chen the opportunity to explore the entire emotional spectrum available to her as an actress.

Monday, March 17, 2008

masala chai

I love the illustrations from Alice in Wonderland - especially the tea party! When Olivia & I were in India we always heard wherever we went: "masala chai?" We came to look forward to merchants and shopkeepers showing us carpets or crafts handing us a cup of the warm, sweet, milky tea spiced with cardamon and cloves, black pepper and star anise or ginger. It energized and refreshed us everywhere we went. Sometimes it was served in little clay cups that could be tossed after drinking the tea - India's answer to Styrofoam and a much better alternative don't you think? Ashes to ashes and dust to dust instead of half-life to half-life.

There is a wonderful book called oddly enough The Book of Tea and it chronicles the history of growing tea complete with exquisite photos and artwork and all the types of tea and how to brew them. I have the orignal edition printed in 1992 but Rizzoli is getting ready to reissue it in May. Above is a woman in India picking tea leaves. Like coffee picking and other exported beverages, the work is hard and the pay is small - the unions fight hard to gain rights and benefits for the people bringing that pot of Assam or Darjeeling to your neighborhood.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

leonard cohen - bird on a wire

"I'm Your Man" - Leonard Cohen being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this week

This week Lou Reed read from Leonard Cohen's lyrics and poems before intruducing him as he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. I grew up listening to his music and reading his novel Beautiful Losers. I think one of the reasons I love the movie Mccabe & Mrs. Miller is not only Robert Altman's direction and Julie Christie's performance, but Cohen's magical soundtrack in the background makes it still one of my favorite rainy afternoon films. This June I am flying to Toronto to hear him play after a fifteen year absence from the stage. If you haven't already seen the documentary "I'm Your Man" definitely put it on the Netflix cue.

Here's the trailer from McCabe & Mrs Miller - enjoy!

Monday, March 10, 2008

tabla twins - suphala & talvin singh

Suphala with her tabla above and in the 1st issue of Indian Vogue below

I first heard about Suphala in the NY Times and, having always loved the tabla, sampled and listened to one of her cds on cdbaby and promptly ordered it! Wanting more,more, more I downloaded another cd from itunes and was not disappointed.

Her music is deft and sensual, from a time long ago heard in the future. Drums stir the feet and heart to move as one. But no, there are two - Talvin Singh, who I was fortunate enough to see at Bimbo's in North Beach after having travelled throughout India, meeting different classical percussionists of every style and jamming with them - a delightful documentary captured these marvellous beats and was screened before a live performance - a night to remember!

Here are two videos I found of the tabla twins - Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

my dream car - the Citroen SM

When I was a teenager my mother bought a 1969 Citroen D Pallas sedan and then added a station wagon a year later - they were both pale blue and we loved them. The hydraulic suspension gave the smoothest ride imaginable and heads turned as the bullet-shaped car would lower for freeway drives and rise back up for the back roads of farmland we lived on. Gas station attendants weren't sure how to open the hood and find the dipstick to check the oil, but changing a tire was easy as you didn't need a jack - you just raised the car up and took the tire off!

On my first trip to Paris in 1983 imagine my delight when all the taxis were old Citroens! Unfortunately the car ceased production for Canadian or US export in the early 70s due I'm told at first to the requirement they have catalytic converters to comply with emission laws.


I love this photo of a Citroen 2cv (deux chevaux ) which literally means two horses in the snow and the Citroen Traction on Place de la Concorde in 1952. I'm told you used to be able to buy a kit for the 2CV and build it yourself! Bay Breads, my favorite French bakery in San Francisco uses one as their mascot and you can often see it parked outside one of their locations.

But my real dream car was the Citroen SM built by Citroen with a Masserati engine very briefly in the early 70s. Queen Elizabeth rode in one when she visited France in the early 90s. I'm told they only like to be driven very fast and you need to be married to a mechanic named Pierre to ensure driving. The convertibles were extremely rare.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Age of Shiva

The Lotus - symbol of eternity, prosperity and purity

In the February 14th, 2000 issue of the New Yorker I read a story called The Seven Circles by writer Manil Suri and was utterly and completely drawn in to this tale of an arranged marriage whose union (surprisingly) brings ardor and lasting love to its bride and groom.

The next year I stumbled on Suri's first novel The Death of Vishnu and even went so far as to
e-mail the author with a question and was delighted when he responded.

This past month his latest novel The Age of Shiva was published and my copy arrived in the mail yesterday. So far I can't put it down and hope I don't have to wait as many years for the sequel (to be titled The Birth of Brahma). You see, Brahma is the creator born out of the lotus held by Vishnu the Preserver and they, with Shiva the Destroyer, form the Hindu Trinity. It appears that Suri still holds down his day job as professor in Mathematics Department at the University of Maryland where he does some interesting work. You can hear excerpts of him reading frrom his stories and presenting a lecture on infinity on his website. He even has artwork and food sections being a true Renaissance man.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

It's a new "Day"

Michala Weisneck & Graham Addinal - the creative force of Day Birger & Mikkelson

A few shots of Twiggy and Catherine Deneuve in Belle de Jour

Some shots from their Spring 2008 collection - Michaela was inspired by the 60's combination of Twiggy for her more gamine looks and Catherine Deneuve for her sexier designs. Graham was fueled by the music of Damien Rice and Ray LaMontagne. They have stores in Denmark, Sweden and London and also have a home furnishings line as seen below.

Align Left

Saturday, March 1, 2008

collect raindrops

I discovered this lovely book of papercuts called "collect raindrops" by artist Nikki McClure while walking through the Mission District this afternoon and stopping in to browse at Little Otsu on Valencia Street. I also picked up an amazing vegan cookbook from Millenium restaurant.
I celebrated my last birthday at Millenium and so enjoyed the experience from start-to-finish. Their philosophy around food is akin to my own about buying from local organic farmers and cooking instinctively using seasonal foods. I can't wait to try the recipe for Asparagus-Rhubarb Cannelloni with Tumeric-Orange Sauce and Herb Aioli.