The Pleasures of Sourness

Does our taste for asim come from our sour green landscape? From the proliferation of sour-towards-sweet tastes in our fruits and vegetables? Certainly we Filipinos have a tongue, a taste, a temper for sour notes, which is one of our chief flavor principles. We not only sour our soups (sinigang) and cook sundry dishes in vinegar (paksiw, adobo); we also use vinegars (nipa, coconut) and citrus (calamansi, dayap) as dips and marinades.

—  Palayok: Philippine Food Through Time, On Site, In the Pot, by Doreen Fernandez

P.S. Señor Sigig, a Filipino food truck, was just featured on Bay Area food program Check, Please! Owner says everything is marinated for at least 48 hours. But the lines!

It’s Filipino/Mexican — there are burritos and nachos. Open every day for lunch and dinner. Average price of a meal: $12.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Isolation Leads to Extinction

Reading Ben Ehrenreich’s The Way to the Spring: Life and Death In Palestine, which is mainly about land. Land, stony land. Homeland.

She remembers reading, a couple of pages back, something about settlements. That it is natural for settlements to expand.

She also learns the meaning of the word Intifada: it means shaking off.

Which brings us to “isolation leads to extinction.” Which is something she read in a book, long long time ago. A book about extinction. She thinks it was The Beak of the Finch. Or maybe something by Stephen Jay Gould.

What self is trying to say is, from that book read so long ago, self learned this vaulable lesson: that when earth’s land bridges disappeared, and islands and their attendant species became cut off from other species, a species inevitably lost its vigor, inbreeding passed on genetic weakness, and eventually that species was no more.

Which brings us back to Palestine!

Apologies for the digression.

On p. 55, Ehrenreich introduces us to a man named Hani Amer whose land exists as “a crease” between concrete fences and barbed wire. The Israelis built the walls and gave Amer a choice: either he move and let them demolish his house, or he remained and they would build the wall around him. Amer stayed.

On the day he meets Ehrenreich, Amer says, “I’m tired of telling this story.” But Ehrenreich prods it out of him anyway.

p. 57:

  • Amer’s house was soon surrounded: the wall on one side, the fence on the other. They built a gate and told him to choose a time and they would come and open it for fifteen minutes every twenty-four hours. He demanded a gate of his own with a key of his own, so that he could let himself in and out when he wished, so that his home would not become for him a prison. They refused.

And now, self has spent far too long on this post and will resume reading.

Stay tuned.

 

 

Currently Reading

Sweet like Sunday morning.

Beginning Ben Ehrenreich’s The Way to the Spring: Life and Death in Palestine. The book next to it is self’s newest sketchbook, cover illustration by Irina Troitskaya, whose work you can find in The Exquisite Book: 100 Artists Play a Collaborative Game (Chronicle Books, 2010)

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Sunday, 18 September 2016: Sketchbook and Ehrenreich

Every new book is an adventure.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Quote of the Day: Mahmoud Darwish

  • No spectators at chasm’s door, and no one is neutral here.

— Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish

 

Poetry Friday: Galway Kinnell

An Excerpt from Conversation

For Maud

–How old?

It was completely inadvertent.
It was more or less late afternoon.
and I came over a hilltop
and smack in front of me was the sunset.

–Couldn’t you have turned around and gone back?

Wherever you turn, a window
in a childhood house fills with fire.

–Remember the pennies we put on the track,
how the train left behind only the bright splashes?

Everything startles with its beauty
when assigned value has been eradicated,
especially if the value assigned is one cent.

–Does the past ever get too heavy to lug around?

If your rucksack is too heavy, it could
wrestle you down backwards.

–Does it ever get lighter?

Yes, when so-called obsolete words
start falling off the back end of the language.

(from the Galway Kinnell collection, Strong Is Your Hold)

Self’s Life in Books

In 2013, she read a total of 30 books.

In 2014, to her great disappointment, she managed to read only 7.

Thus far, in 2016, she’s read 18 books. Oh happy happy joy joy.

2013 was a great year for her reading life.

She read:

  • Bicycle Diaries, by David Byrne
  • Anna Karenina
  • Don Quijote
  • Per Petterson’s Out Stealing Horses
  • Mildred Armstrong Kalish’s Litte Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression
  • Sister Carrie
  • The Leopard, by Giuseppe di Lampedusa
  • The Quiet American, by Graham Greene
  • Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel
  • The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin
  • City of Thieves, by David Benioff
  • The Lincoln Lawyer, by Michae Connelly
  • Henry M. Stanley’s How I Found Livingstone in Central Africa

In 2015, self’s great reads were:

  • Silas Marner
  • Brooklyn, by Colm Toibin
  • The Act of Love, by Howard Jacobson
  • Middlemarch, by George Eliot
  • Bad Behavior, by Mary Gaitskill

This year, self’s favorite books have been:

  • The Forever War, by Dexter Filkins (which she just realized she’d already read five years ago: She didn’t remember a thing!)
  • Anjelica Huston’s second memoir, Watch Me
  • The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins
  • The Narrow Road to the Deep North, by Matsuo Basho
  • Swimming Studies, by Leanne Shapton

She’s struggling through Northanger Abbey. Really struggling. But she is determined to finish it.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Reading (2016)

  1. Memoir, Leanne Shapton, Swimming Studies
  2. Brick 96
  3. 2nd poetry collection, John Clegg, Holy Toledo
  4. Nonfiction, Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power
  5. Walasse Ting, 1 Cent Life
  6. Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

 

Beautiful Passage

This is from Essay # 3 of The Lonely City, a collection of essays which so far are all about New York, and the special loneliness of being lonely in a city of so many millions of people (Self actually appreciates that kind of loneliness; she loves the angst of it).

Self took the picture below last spring. She was looking across Park Avenue from a building on the east side:

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Sunset, Manhattan: May 2016

On East 9th Street there was a café that looked out over a community garden planted with an enormous weeping willow. It was populated almost exclusively by people gazing into the glowing clamshells of their laptops and so it seemed a safe place, in which my solitary status was unlikely to be exposed.

— “My Heart Opens to Your Voice,” Essay # 3 in Olivia Laing’s The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone

Edward Hopper, Jo Hopper, and the Whitney Museum

This passage is too sad. Jo Hopper, Edward Hopper’s wife, was a painter. But she painted very little after she married (She was 41, Edward was almost 42).

. . .  it is almost impossible to form a judgement of Jo Hopper’s work, since so little of it has survived. Edward left everything to his wife, asking that she bequeath his art to the Whitney, the institution with which he’d had the closest ties. After his death, she donated both his and the majority of her own artistic estates to the museum, even though she’d felt from the moment of her marriage that she’d been a victim of a boycott by the curators there. Her disquiet was not unwarranted. After her death, the Whitney discarded all her paintings, perhaps because of their calibre and perhaps because of the systematic undervaluing of women’s art against which she’d railed so bitterly in her own life.

— “Walls of Glass,” Essay # 2 in Olivia Laing’s The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone

 

 

THE LONELY CITY: Another Chapter

I didn’t stay in Brooklyn long. The friend whose apartment I was staying in came back from L.A. and I moved to the green walk-up in the East Village. The change in habitat marked another phase of loneliness; a period in which speech became an increasingly perilous endeavour.

— Olivia Laing, “My Heart Opens to Your Voice,” Essay # 3 of The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone

This is really a lovely book.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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