Monday, April 26, 2010

Sometimes Progress

"Sometimes progress takes the form of historical amnesia"
-Christopher Clausen, Wilson Quarterly, Spring 2010

Labels: ,

Wednesday, April 07, 2010


Across from the SF Main Public Library, standing in front of the south wall of the Asian Art Museum, is the mighty statue of Assyrian king Ashurbanipal by Iraqi sculptor Fred Parhad (who at the time was a California resident). Commissioned in 1987 by The Assyrian Fund For The Arts and installed in 1988, the statue is a truly majestic 8 foot tall triumph. When it was installed, there was (of course) controversy around HOW it looked. Some said it looked more like the hero of the Babylonian epic Gilgamesh. But regardless of this fact, it was the first (maybe only) statue of this 7th century ruler and a gem for the city.
As for Fred Parhad, he has since done a statue of Sumuramat for Chicago and one of Hammurabi for Detroit.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

A Day Off

Spent yesterday attempting to do nothing. Nothing but reading, throwing some platters on, and chasing away the hurried holiday-filled day before.
It started out pouring down rain yesterday morning...a welcome way to ooze through the day. But when the sun came out, everything changed. My wife informed me simultaneously that her monthly OB appointment was at 2pm and while that did not fit in to the day of nothingness, it became its welcome, wonderful focal point. And yes, we got to hear our little girl's heart beat, with a growing gusto from last month. I am living to meet her.
Wile E and I took an amazing stroll through Golden Gate Park. Her pace is slowing with age, and she seemed to tire quicker, but we both enjoyed the blossoming arena fresh from the morning mist. The cherry blossoms are in total bloom right now, as are the plants that produce the varied purple thistle-like flowers.
Back home and back into the land of Moby Dick. Reached the half-way point yesterday and am plowing through the tough reading waters. The first Sperm Whale has been caught and the crew is dealing with its dismemberment. Pretty damn gruesome, highlighted by the film Barb and I watched later in the evening, Star Trek IV, where the focus is on whale predators and the human actions towards whale extinction. And if that was not bad enough, while the flick rolled, a mouse trap went off in our kitchen not killing the mouse, but trapping one of its hind legs. It kept scurrying around the room, trap in tow, squealing something awful. Why this day was framed with a theme of animal-endangerment was beyond me, leaving me with no other option than to try and set the mouse free. This is no small feet. The mouse was writhing. I had no desire to touch it. I took some prongs and loaded the mouse and the trap into a tupperware trough. Using a kneif, holding the trap with the prongs, I jimmied the trap open and the mouse got its leg out, immediately attempting not to escape, but to eat the rest of the trap's peanut butter. Wile E and I brought the trough out to the backyard, stepped away and kicked it over. The mouse scurried to freedom and I felt that I had accomplished a task that for some reason was meant for me this day.
Strangely, a day-off can be a melancholy thing and the lack-of-direction heaviness hit me mid afternoon. Pointlessness set in. The un-directed, foundation-less, existential pointlessness. In recent chapters of Moby Dick, it speaks of the soul "full of peace and joy, but encompassed by all the horrors of the half-known life."
Trying to shake it off, I went to the usual salvation of the record collection. Dusted off The Lollipop Shoppe record from the 60s (front man Fred Cole was SO GOOD at SXSW with his new band Pierced Arrow), and threw the needle on the groove. It really is one of the greatest slabs of psychedelia in the world: Oregon-dark, hazy and groovy. By song two I was cooking up dinner, including Alice Water's recipe for cabbage which rocks. The day ended as it began, with contentment. Why I must dwell on the half-known life is beyond me, but at least I went back to the known and slept close to my wife and unborn baby girl.