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Archive for February, 2008

Food: The Lies and The Hope

February 27, 2008 By: admin Category: Food, Humane Food, sustainability

I’ve just seen one of the most disturbing videos I’ve ever seen in my life. It appears in the middle of a speech being given by Whole Foods CEO, John Mackey a couple of years ago. He is responding to Michael Pollan’s book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” which criticizes Whole Foods in certain sections.

The two have actually become good friends and have taken their disagreements and agreements to the public in the spirit of educating. It is a perfect marriage and one of the greatest examples of productive democracy that I’ve seen. You can see all of their correspondence to each other on both Michael’s website as well as the Whole Foods website…

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Mr. Mackey’s talk includes a video narrated by celebrity actor Alec Baldwin and shows in graphic details how chickens, cows, calves, and pigs are raised and slaughtered in industrial food manufacturing companies. I assure you, this is not a bleeding heart liberal message I’m giving you. What I saw happen to these animals is nothing short of holocaust-level horror. It should not be ignored and it should be stopped immediately. NO ONE would be immune from the images I saw except, perhaps, farmers, who have lived with the realities of survival-as-a-business for a long time and have had, I’m sure, to steel themselves against certain things they saw so they could do their jobs.

Anyway, as a result of seeing this video I am officially not going to eat any animal products that I know are from such manufacturers. I am fortunate enough to have been born in the age of consciousness about such things, and I am seeking out producers who treat their animals humanely. As I find them I will post their website on this blog. Please look for updates on this topic under the tag “Humane Food.”

I know this will sound extreme to many of you, but watching this video I felt the same way I felt when I watched Mom being “revived” from an apparent near-drug-induced-coma. A very kind and thorough resident pressed hard on the cuticle area of her thumb to invoke a pain response. He got his response and I had to be held back by another young doctor as I screamed “STOOOOOP!!!!” It is, to date, my most horrifying memory.

Watching these animals being treated so grotesquely, I felt the same urge to scream “stop.” But in this case there is nothing I can do except change the way I eat.

Thanks for reading…

HUMANE FOODS
Amazing PBS website from Frontline show “Modern Meat,” with details about beef production.

PS: I am deliberately not including a link to the video here, but if you want to see it send me an email or if I get a critical mass of comments on the blog I’ll post it. These are just incredibly difficult images to see and I guarantee that you won’t be the same afterward.

There’s No “c” In “Aqueduct”

February 22, 2008 By: admin Category: General, sustainability, Video

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I’m doing research for an upcoming shoot for the Sustainability Series, and have discovered, to my shame, that “aqueduct” is, in fact, NOT spelled “aCqueduct.” I think I keep thinking of “aCknowledge” which, itself, opens up a whole other can of worms as I can’t understand why “acknowledge” has a “d” in the middle there–plain as day–while “privilege” does not! You wanna know how many times I’ve written “privilege” with a goddamned “d”? A LOT!!!!

Anyway… So I’m doing research for the “WATER” segment of the series and came across tales of the Owens Valley in CA. If you haven’t read “Cadillac Desert” run right out now and get it from the local library (fyi: I’m advocating not buying books anymore. Wastes money. Instead, engage in community and go to your local library. They’re SUCH wonderful places and have tons of obscure, fun videos as well as all those books… :)

SO, I’m doing all this research when I find out about how FUCKED the farmers and residents of Owens Valley got when Los Angeles came and stole their water. Robbed, they were! And it’s still going on! L.A. still draws much of it’s water from the Owens Valley – it’s awful! But, the big town is trying to make amends. Just a few days ago, actually, the Mayor of L.A. visited the area and vowed to right the wrong done in the early part of the last century. Hm. We’ll see…

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In the meantime (while you wait for the wrong to be righted), please enjoy these stunning photos I found on Wikimedia.org (a site for license-free photographs) of the Los Angeles aqueduct. This was one of the great construction projects of this state, and, truly, the country. Water is carried for the ungrateful swine of L.A. from sooooo far, and this is the thing that carries most of it.

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The Zen of Great Rice

February 21, 2008 By: admin Category: Blogging Dinner, Cooking, Food, Health, India, Mom, Recipes

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DOVER SOLE WITH MAYO AND MUSTARD GLAZE
I got the ingredients for this dish from Mom’s copy of “The Spice Cookbook.

Filets of Dover Sole for 2
Mustard (of choice — I used a French kind with those big, brown seeds in it)
Mayonnaise
Thyme
Pepper
Salt
Lemon juice

Heat large skillet on Med/High.

Mix about 2 teaspoons of mayo with 1.5 teaspoons of mustard. Add 1 teaspoon Thyme, .5 teaspoons of Pepper, and dashes of Salt & Lemon Juice to taste. Stir’em up good so they’re mixed together very well. Lather the fish in this concoction and place filets into the skillet. Cover and immediately turn heat down to Low. (Sole cooks very fast!) Cook one side of filets for about 2 mins., then turn over and cook opposite side for 2 mins. Turn heat off, cover skillet, remove skillet from cooling burner. let sit. 2 mins. on each side should be enough to cook the fish through. If not then the cover-and-let-sit action will do the trick. It will also enhance the moistness of the fish.

*****

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I’m a simple girl. Easy to please: you work hard, I’ll get off your back; you treat my nearest and dearest well, I’m your friend for life. So then it’s little wonder that I’m in awe of great rice. Great rice can make a meal, and as Mom used to say, “It’s not easy, Ah-lehck-SYA!”

Tonight and last night I made killer rice. Molly had requested fish for dinner and when I went to the store I couldn’t resist getting dover sole AND whole brook trout. She’d only asked for fish for the one night, but when a Prichard sees a deal ($4.99 a pound!!!)… and we had to have rice because if you’re avoiding potatoes in a pathetic attempt to lose some of the weight you inexplicably gained in your recent trip to the third world, there aren’t that many choices for something to balance to plate, especially if you’re also having salad. I don’t know about y’all, but I need something grainy or starchy with my fish because for some reason fish with only salad fucks with my stomach. It’s like I need something in there to “bind” with everything else.

Anyway, so I have a little bit of a gift with fish but have always burned, undercooked or overcooked the rice. It’s never a total disaster, but it’s always rarely as good as it could be. So you can imagine my delight when Molly produced HER RICE COOKER.

People…

All I can tell you is that if you’ve been slaving over a hot stove trying for the perfect Oryza sativa, STOP. Stop, and run to the nearest kitchen store and get yourself a goddamned rice cooker. The tastse of rice from a properly used rice cooker is like the first time you had an orgasm: you just won’t believe that anything could be this good.

Happy cooking. :)

“I Just Fucked Tony Curtis. In The Ass!”

February 19, 2008 By: admin Category: General

Every once in a while you meet someone extraordinary. Someone who changes you with every moment you spend together. I met one such person last night at The EchoPlex, a tiny music club in Echo Park, an almost hip/still slightly sketch neighborhood beside L.A. His name is Tony, and he has full-blown AIDS. Having full-blown AIDS is not why Tony is beautiful, but it might be why he’s so vibrant (appreciates life more… I don’t know… I wasn’t with him long enough to find out what makes him so full of joy and hilarious absurdity). He’s beautiful because he sensed a moment of emotional connection between us and didn’t let it die. Moreover, he enhanced, and kept feeding that connection all night long. It was lovely. This is what happened…

Molly and I were in the typically awful and annoying disorganized ticket line at the EchoPlex waiting to get in to see Rickie Lee Jones. The door guys couldn’t figure out who was–did you have hard tickets, internet tickets, tickets you’d bought through ticketweb.com, or were you completely without a ticket? It’s not rocket science, and yet each night the line has been a nightmare.

By this, the third night in Rickie’s residency at the EchoPlex, those of us who’d been at the first two were old hat at the line-olympics so we naturally gravitated to chatting with each other instead of spreading more bad vibes. The line is actually a great place to meet people, and that’s exactly what Molly did. She began talking with a couple behind us who turned out to be LeeAnn and Tony. Obviously pals, LeeAnn and Tony look like two folks who have seen it all. Tony talks about boys and being gay and loving life, and losing his friends, and Act Up! (a fabulous gay activist organization from the 80s). LeeAnn stands there and looks at Tony lovingly while seeming like she was just released from the prison of a 40-year Hollywood studio contract. “Day Player #1.” The warmth between them is easy and sincere and catchy, so Molly naturally felt open enough to talk about me — since I was busy keeping my eye on the ticket-takers who were letting some “cut” the line…

Tony was fascinated by my documentary work and said that all his friends tell him he should write a book. “But I don’t want to sit at home and type out a book. Ugh!” We chatted a bit and I felt instantly comfortable with him, and so as the line inched forward it came out that he was ill. I said, “Oh, no. You’re positive?” He shook his head. “Go higher, honey.” I blanched. “Not full-blown AIDS…?” He nodded. Now, Tony is filled out and fit as a fiddle, so this was shocking. “Why do you look so healthy?” I asked as he puffed on his second cigarette. “Isn’t it amazing,” chimed LeeAnn. “I smoke,” said Tony, and we all laughed. He says that smoking releases his stress and stress just makes the virus worse. Then he told a funny story…

Once, when someone was standing next to him as he smoked they turned and asked, indignantly: “Why do you SMOKE?” Without missing a beat Tony looked them right in the eye and said: “So I don’t kill you.”

Later, as we left the club together after the show, Tony told us that when Rickie sang a requested song, “Rainbow Sleeves,” the “fellow who requested it” to whom her performance was dedicated was Tony. “I emailed her a couple of days ago and just told her how I felt about her music.” It was perfect. That’s also one of my very favorite songs.

But our evening with Tony and LeeAnn couldn’t end on a down note, so just before we went our separate ways Tony told a story about a recent run-in he’d had with a homeless man. He’d been minding his own business when suddenly this homeless guy walks up to him and enthusiastically said: “I just fucked Tony Curtis! In the ass!” We all fell over. And so, by way of reciprocation for the laugh, this, Tony, is for you:

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Mountain To Molly, and What It Means To Love Family

February 13, 2008 By: admin Category: Family, Health, India, Video

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I find that my life is a lot more boring/less meaningful without Bryan making me cappuccino every morning. We IM every once in a while when our online schedules intersect, so I’m happy to report that he’s still providing me with excellent blog-post titles – the title for this post comes from a story I told him of an L.A. neighbor pal of Molly’s discovering that his local drum teacher has a MASTERS IN TABLA. Fucking fantastic… Bryan also laughed “lol” when I told him that Molly still sings the Sanskrit version of “Do-Re-Mi” in the shower every morning.

I miss our times in India – the little moments that made it all worthwhile: mornings with Bryan & Alison & Molly and sometimes (if we were lucky!), Megumi; hanging out with Puja Roy, and listening to Lata and Ruxana sing at Soma Home; shooting with Nandini. Other than those times there wasn’t much to look forward to in a given day. I dreaded the smog, dreaded going outside to deal with it. I dreaded walking home alone from Keya’s after leaving Nandini, worried that I might get accosted by annoying men. I dreaded going outside overall because of the men. So fucking annoying. But mostly I miss the relationships I was just starting to build there. I especially miss the Soma girls. Not a day has gone by that I haven’t thought of them. I dream about them a lot. I dream of going back and showing them the film. That dream stops abruptly, though, as I’m TERRIFIED of their reaction. Typical that I’m stressing about this before the film has even started….

Molly and I had an interesting conversation yesterday. We were talking about me getting a tattoo. She said she was finally ready to give her permission as long as she would be consulted on placement. I said that would be fine, but that I probably wouldn’t be getting a tattoo because my father doesn’t want me to. I told her that there were a lot of things I’m doing in my life right now that I would never have done while my mother was alive because I just couldn’t see putting her through that kind of stress. I didn’t miss anything by waiting, and so the tattoo thing is kind of the same. I told Molly that I honor my father very much, and if this is a huge threshold for him then I’m not going to push it. I think you decide how you’re going to treat the loves in your life. Are you going tot do something they don’t like and then sit with them as they get used to it? (I’ve done that for some things) Are you just going to go ahead and never mind them? Or are you going to not do the thing and see if there’s another way to satisfy yourself? I understand stress. I understand the way my parents stress out. My father is having a GREAT TIME in his life right now, and so if this is something that would bum him out enough to derail him even a little, tiny bit from his current joy, then FUCKIT. A fucking cosmetic trinket isn’t worth it.

SIDENOTE: the tattoo I would get would be an imagine honoring my mother. Some kind of Peruvian artistic bird – she loved those so much. But, for the time being, I can carry the image in my heart. That’ll do for now. :)

Low Energy

February 07, 2008 By: admin Category: Health, India, The Film

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Both Molly and I are still suffering the after effects of Influenza B, it seems. Neither of us can eat enough to satisfy our hunger pangs, and we’re both still zapped of energy. Just standing up is a process. Feels almost like what people describe as “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.” Perpetual headache, eye ache, and — for me — a constant stuffiness of the ears and sinuses.

I’ve also been reading again… “It only took you two weeks to start reading about India,” said Molly when I picked up my new copy of Mark Tully’s “India’s Unending Journey.” I felt so, so sad two days ago that I actually took to bed and cried myself to sleep in the middle of the afternoon. When I woke up I was famished and desperate to write. I picked up the book and automatically began writing in my head. Tully’s voice rings so true in me, about India, that I could no longer deny that there is a flooding torrent in me waiting to come out about my experiences there. I’ll add it all to this blog as it comes out… Here’s installment #1:

FEBRUARY 5, 2008 – Lake Sherwood, CA
I am being ravaged from the inside by India’s desire to see the world through me. She has burst her Asian banks and used me as a carrier in order to broaden her horizons. She is desperate to know more and see more and feel more — like a hungry, rabid animal — and won’t stop exploring and consuming until she falls over.

I came home with something inside me. A small heart, emotions, memories, pain, regret, feeling, longing, anguish, hope, pride, relief, agenda — desperation. India hitched a ride in me and is now making her painful way out. It feels as if I’m being burned from the inside — my organs melting. It feels like I’m being cleansed, but all I sense in my heart and all I remember is sadness. And how can that be cleansing???

The triggers are these beautiful Kantha blankets we brought back with us. So beautiful, delicate and strong — contrasting, just like India.

Kolkata feels so close – as close as reality feels in dreams. Every time I close my eyes I’m back there, and the vision is dizzying. I’m seeing the girls, seeing Megumi, seeing Bryan & Alison, the apartment, seeing David and Cafe Coffee Day. I hear Nandini’s frustrated voice and nod my head — India pushed all of our buttons this time. Maybe she always does. From here, she’s still pushing.

What will be interesting is to see how long India stays with me. Will she stay because I have to make this film and will enveloped in all her India-ness for this whole year? Or will she stay because she’s here to stay, eternally a part of me? have I been changed forever?

India will not be silent. She has been here longer than all of us and will continue long after we’re gone. If Africa is the birthplace of mankind, then surely India is the birthplace of the heart – and of sorrow.

The tears pour forth — what are they from??? Is it Suchitra, or Puja Roy, or little Ruxana? Part of this, I think, is true lonliness. Mom and I shared a bond that cannot be replicated unless I give birth to a daughter — and so part of my mourning and sorrow is still for the loss of that bond. India has forced me to not ignore my emotions, and for that I owe her. She is helping me to grieve.

Good Luck, Everyone!

February 05, 2008 By: admin Category: Campaign 2008, India, NewsQuake!, Politics

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When we were driving through Kolkata toward Soma Home one day, Nandini and I passed huge crowds on their way to a rally. We passed easily hundreds of thousands of people marching and chanting. We were silent in the taxi, for the most part, until Nandini looked outside and said: “They take the voting process so seriously here.” She went on to proudly explain the high rate of voter turnout in India. “People really understand that their vote counts for something here. They take great pride in that.”

Today I vote in the CA primary and I’ve never felt such pressure in a primary before. There is so much at stake and we all — Americans — seem to know it. We have a lot to clean up with the nest administration: Iraq, the environment, education and health care.

Tonight I will “live-blog” the returns from an Irish pub in downtown LA. There’s something so perfect about the idea of being surrounded by a shitload of young people all gathered for the democratic process. These kids are the future. Let’s see what they do… :)

Back In The Saddle

February 04, 2008 By: admin Category: Health, India, NewsQuake!, sustainability, The Film

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Molly and I have been convalescing. Relaxing. Trying to let our bodies heal from the twin assaults of Influenza B. Somehow, adding the “B” after “Influenza” makes it seem more like I got out of a war zone with all my limbs intact. It wasn’t a war zone we were in, but I still feel good about having all my limbs….

Anyway, the flight home SUCKED FOR ME. My sinuses were clogged in a way that they’ve clearly never been before because as we were descending after our first 10 hour leg the pain was so excruciating I started to cry like I was being killed. A stewardess even came over and asked Molly if there was anything wrong. She gave me earplugs — too late — and a kind smile. Seriously if I never feel that pain again it’ll be too soon…

At that point I hadn’t slept for about 5 days. The coughing had woken me up every 20 minutes and caused me to sweat dramatically, which, coupled with the unseasonable cold of Kolkata at that time, served as the perfect jumping off place to me getting a bad chill. By the time we got home I was sick as hell.

Molly’s Dad, a doctor, took one look at my raw, inflamed throat and proclaimed: “It’s antibiotic time.” My own father, the next day, insisted that I go see my doctor immediately and so that’s what I did. She gave me antibiotics, steroids to build up my crushed lungs, an inhaler, and an expectorant which has done a remarkable job at dislodging all the phlegm in my chest that’s been keeping me from, you know, breathing.

Being back home has been surreal so far. Today is better as it’s really the first day when both of us can actually get up and do stuff. I spent the other days reading emails and doing research for my job–just trying to get back into the swing of life in the USA. I had some amazing experiences in India, but there are priorities now that need to be addressed. I always knew I’d spend a few days decompressing, but also knew that it wouldn’t be forever. I don’t want to dwell. I don’t want to forget either, and I won’t–that’s what the film will be for–but I do want to move forward. This year can be one of the best of my life in so many aspects and I’m ready to go out and make that all happen. :)

Tonight, I’ll be filming someone for my sustainability series!