Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Sultan's Elephant by Royale de Luxe

I ran across this video on Be quiet Angela, you were never baptized (moondropsandteacakes.blogspot).

The performance art was created by a French mechanical marionette theater company named Royale de Luxe. The company was founded in 1979 by Jean Luc Courcoult in Nantes and has performed in Europe, Chile and Australia.

The Sultan's Elephant is the fifth in a series of performances that utilizes giant puppets—it is really beautiful and kind of creepy.

If you speak French you may want to check out the Royale de Luxe website here.

There is a photoblog of the performance in Nantes at Revolte des Mannequines here.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Saint Johns College, Music on the Hill in Santa Fe

I did a post a few weeks back about Music on the Hill at Saint Johns College in Santa Fe. You can read the complete post here.

Music on the Hill is a great free Wednesday activity during the summer.

Here's a little video:

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Roberta Flack at the Santa Fe Opera

The Santa Fe Opera

My birthday was in August, and this year my friends treated me to the Roberta Flack concert (with Shawn Colvin) at the Santa Fe Opera which was to include a nice tailgate dinner.

To be honest, most of my friends are older than I am and Roberta Flack was a little before my time (and I had never even heard of Shawn Colvin), so I was more excited about spending a nice evening with my friends than I was about actually seeing the performances.

Tailgating at the opera is a tried-and-true steezy pastime in Santa Fe, unfortunately the day was rainy and we decided to have the diner before we went to the concert.

The Crosby Theater Sign

The Crosby Theater is the name of the main performance space at the Santa Fe Opera. It is truly the steeze and everyone who visits Santa Fe should check it out. They have a gift shop and tours if you are not able to attend (or don't want to attend) a show.

As I said, I had never heard of Shawn Colvin. She had a nice voice and interacted with the audience well.

Here is a picture of Shawn Colvin with Ernie. Shawn must be Ernie's beard because I was told that he is gay. Or, maybe Shawn is a plushie. Would that make Ernie a fleshie? I don't know. What I do know is that all those pervs out there seem to get really bent when you don't identify their kink using the proper terminology. So, I am sorry if I offended any of you fur freaks.

Shawn Colvin and Ernie

Anyway...Shawn was great except that she started killing me softly with folksong—her set lasted about 45 minutes! I sat in my seat wondering if Shawn just didn't realize that this was my birthday concert and I was really there to see the other chick, or if she was intentionally taunting me.

Either way, I needed a drink and fortunately our seats were mere steps from my favorite Opera bar.

My favorite spot at the Opera.

This is a patio area just to the right of the stage. There is a bar here and you can have your cocktail and still be able to watch the performace—a great steezy tip for those times when you can only get SRO tickets.

Finally Roberta and her 16 piece orchestra got on stage. Roberta received a lifetime achievement award from AgeNation and we were told that the proceeds of the concert were to benefit Empower New Mexico (don't ask me what either of those two things are).

Of the sixteen piece orchestra, I think that fifty of them were backup singers. The other was this Kenny G dude on the sax. So needless to say, we heard a lot of backup vocals and plenty of saxaphone.

I figured that this extra background music was because Roberta is like 1000 years old. I thought that they would probably prop her up on the piano, plug her in and try to cover up any of the age-jenky vocals that come out of her mouth.


When Roberta did sing, her voice, at least to me, sounded just as pure and clean as some of the recordings that I have heard. I immediately recognized many of the songs and felt transported to the 70's.
Since that concert, I have listened to several recordings and watched some videos of Roberta and my opinion stands—Roberta, you still sound great.

Roberta's voice sounded just like this:

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Big Lizard in my Courtyard

Living in Santa Fe means sharing your home with various forms of wildlife.

There are dozens of these lizards hanging in my yard, from cute little babies to the big-ass Kelly Clarkson looking things with cankles.

They eat crickets and don't mess with my beer—we're cool.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bert likes it when I drink a little too much and sit on it...I like it too

I love Bert. Bert waits patiently for me by the door each day. Bert accepts deliveries when I am gone. Bert cradles my ass on those warm summer evenings after a long day at work. Bert holds me steady on the occasion that I have had too much to drink. Most importantly, Bert is really good looking.

Santa Fe Steeze,Bertoia
This isn't Bert.

This is the man who is responsible for bringing Bert into my life—Harry Bertoia. Harry was born in Italy in 1915 and died in Pennsylvania in 1978. Bertoia was many things: artist, sculptor, furniture designer and, so I have been told, singer. Harry even created the wedding rings for the iconic designers Charles and Ray Eames.

In 1950 Harry moved to Pennsylvania to work with Hans and Florence Knoll. During this period Harry designed five wire pieces that became known as the Bertoia Collection for Knoll Furniture. Among them my beloved Bert—the famous Diamond Chair. The Diamond chair is a fluid, sculptural form made from a molded lattice work of welded steel.

In Bertoia's own words, "If you look at these chairs, they are mainly made of air, like sculpture. Space passes right through them."

In my friends words, "It looks kinda sharp and pokey—I ain't sittin' on that."

My response, "Good, Bert is all mine."

In reality, the Diamond chair is quite comfortable. Even for someone like me (my ass is kind of sharp and pokey).

My Bert is dressed in the seat cushion only since he remains outside all year, but you can get a nifty full seat cover for a little more modesty—your call.

You can get your own Bert at Knoll Furniture.

This is Bert, my Bertoia Diamond Chair

Here is Bert keeping my packages safe, or perhaps displaying them for thieves.

Here is Bert waiting for me with a nice cold beer.

I have other chairs in my courtyard, but I think Bert is my favorite.

Naming my furniture does not necessarily indicate that I am insane.

Drinking with my furniture probably does indicate that I am insane, possibly dangerous, and definitely lonely.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fall Equinox...

It's cold, it's wet, and now they tell me that the days are getting shorter.

I didn't move to the desert to carry an umbrella and fumble around in the dark.

And yes, all you earth-humpers, I do know that we are in a drought and need the rain—get off my back.

Even my fish hate this shit. Look at them, smiles on their faces, happily swimming until it starts to rain. Then they curl up in a ball and sink to the bottom of the pond praying for it to end.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Late Summer Garden in Santa Fe

Plumbago Bloom

Gardening is quite the steezy hobby in Santa Fe—and I certainly enjoy it myself. I started gardening at a very early age, although not by choice.

My mother's side of the family is Cherokee. She grew up in Northeastern Oklahoma on what was basically a subsistence farm. Because of the prejudice of the time, her father often had to travel and be away from home for what work he could find. My uncles were all sent off to the government sanctioned institutional genocide called "Indian boarding school" leaving my mother and grandmother to tend to the garden—a laborious chore that is still set deep in my mother's memory. My mother vowed to leave poverty behind her. She graduated from college and eventually became an international cost account analyst for a large multi-national corporation. Go mom!

My father's side of the family is French and German. They made money owning speakeasies during prohibition and eventually liquor distribution—a fun time for all. My father grew up watching the gardeners and landscapers tend to his family's properties—a world of maids, butlers, drivers and nannies.

So when my parents got married and built a home on a nice plot of land, for some reason my father decided that it would be a fun novelty to start a garden "out back". Needless to say, my mother wanted nothing to do with it.

Over the years my father's obsession with the garden grew into a 3/4 acre mass of edible vegetation. The sheer volume of fruit and vegetables produced by his garden was staggering.

So you may be wondering how an individual can tend to such a large horticultural undertaking. You would think that with my father's background he would hire some help. No, my father found a much more economical solution—have children.

My brother and I were forced to work in that damn garden all summer, every summer. Our reward...tomatoes, and the knowledge that good children obey their father.

In retrospect, I learned more than just how to be subservient (and how to identify the subtle warning signs of heat stroke). I actually learned how to grow things and not only appreciate, but enjoy being outdoors working in the garden.

I am certain that part of the popularity of gardening in Santa Fe is that we have all four seasons, each one is beautiful and all of them are relatively mild.

But be forewarned, gardening in Santa Fe can be difficult. First and foremost, we live in a desert and get very little precipitation—most of which is either the summer monsoons or snow in the winter. Secondly, Santa Fe is basically on a mountain therefore our soil is generally poor, consisting of either extreme sand or heavy clay (mine happens to be clay).

I will write more about gardening in the desert southwest in future posts. In the meantime, here are a few photos of my front courtyard on the last official day of summer 2009.

View From Portal

Santa Fe's vernacular architecture is instrumental in providing the sense of place that in part makes Santa Fe steezy, although some of the terms may not be familiar. This is part of the view of my front courtyard from the portàl. A portàl is a decorative covered structure usually at an entrance to a building. In other words, this is the view from my front porch.

Purple Leaf Sage

The top of this photo shows purple leaf sage which is somewhat evergreen (or everpurple) here. In front the the sage is an orange mum and hardy plumbago. The grassy looking thing is actually part of a Scotch broom.

Silver Mound Artemesia

This is a snapshot of silver mound artemesia. Generally if a plant has gray foliage, it is at least drought-tolerant if not xeric.

Hardy Hibiscus (Rose of Sharon)

Even this late in the season the hibiscus is still blooming. I planted this to remind me of my grandmothers home. Rose of Sharon grew there like weeds—mine not so much.

Bishops Weed

Bishops Weed can be a little invasive, but it is nice in dark corners of the courtyard. This photo also shows iris foliage, a crimson barberry and a gro-low sumac.

Plumbago and Lavender

Plumbago is one of my favorite ground covers. It has nice green foliage, brilliant blue flowers and as you can see turns red, yellow and orange in late summer through fall.

Path by the Pond

This is the gravel path that curves from the front gate of the courtyard to the pond. The tall plant beginning to bloom yellow is Chamisa. Chamisa is one of the signature plants of northern New Mexico. It grows wild in nearly all open spaces here. Chamisa blooms in the late summer and is a harbinger of fall.

Chamisa Bloom (detail)

This is a detail of the Chamisa beginning to bloom.

Red Twig Dogwood

Another way that my garden tells me that summer is over is that the branches of the red twig dogwood begin to turn. You can see the red branches in the center of the photo.

Good Lord, this photo makes it look as if I am living in an overgrown "grey gardens" with sixteen cats and my elderly bed-ridden mother...A picture paints a thousand words. Please send pâté.

Plumbago Fall Foliage

Here is another photo of the plumbago (on the bottom left) turning red for the fall.

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Blogging is Hard...

Some of my friends and family who are not able to visit Santa Fe often asked me to start this blog so that they could keep in touch and see some of the things that are going on here. I agreed to do it—I actually thought that it would be a lot of fun. I didn't realize how much work it actually is to blog.

More importantly, I just have not placed myself on a "blog schedule" so most days go by without a new post. I have lived in Santa Fe for over ten years and now realize that the steeze culture has truly rubbed off on me. I rarely do anything that requires a definite schedule—times are always "ish" and it seems that the entire city operates this way. Since everyone here (newbies not included) lives in the land of mañana we all accept this relaxed and, in my opinion, quite civilized and stress-free existence as the norm. It is a habit that I fear is now impossible for me to break although I will try to start posting more often.

Why the change of heart? It is actually a combination of things. First I did promise the few family and friends that read this blog that I would keep them informed of what I am doing in Santa Fe. Second, I bought some new gear to make the blog interesting (pocket vid camera, etc.) and it would be a shame not to use it. Also, the last two days have been rainy and much colder (low-mid 70's F) so I am coming to the realization that summer is really over and it is getting close to the time that I will need to move indoors and reminisce about the summer's activities. Most importantly, I still believe that this could be a really fun project and need to embrace it as part of a daily routine.

The dilemma? I feel that I don't have anything to write about. I had a telephone conversation that changed my mind. I was telling a friend in Michigan about some of the summer's events and he was actually really interested—go figure.

So I will start the new posts as a item by item recap of the last couple of months and maybe a few current things too. Sorry if I seem like a slacker to some of you—it is just the Santa Fe steeze.

Hopefully I can learn to use my words.

I will end with a vid of some kids who don't have any problem using their words. Thanks to Rich Juzwiak at fourfour for the clip:

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