Monday, November 24, 2008

thanks giving: project

Begin by pressing play.

Below is a picture of a list of things to be happy about. I started keeping it when I was sad, a long time ago now, in Santa Barbara. I remember thinking that people would see it taped on my kitchen cupboard and think, "a list of things to be happy about is the work of a depressed person." But no one seemed to think so.

In fact, nearly everyone who came to my apartment regularly checked to see what I had added, or add something themselves once in a while. The list includes items like:

#9 winter sun

#56 phosphorescence

#74 airmail envelopes

The list has been tucked away for a few years now, but I still add to it mentally every now and then. A couple weeks ago (the same night I recorded the farmers and chocolate-makers playing the music recorded in my last entry), my friend Stephen Brooks sang a song wishing that everyone everywhere could be as fortunate as he was in that moment. I feel that all the time.

Just a few of the things I am profoundly thankful for this year include:

Erin back in New York, and just down the street.

Walking away from Edun a year ago was tough, but I managed to find another place that keeps me equally sleep-deprived, inspired and surrounded by impossibly eccentric personalities. Perfect.

Which brings me to how happy I am to still have all those silly beautiful Edun people in my life.

Even though they locked my computer, purse and scarf inside the office Friday night while I was lost in the Steven Alan sample sale. (Being locked outside Edun in the freezing dark was not as scary as briefly believing on Wednesday night that I was locked inside CUNY after editing video for thirteen hours.)

So...I'm thankful that right now, I am not locked in, or out, of anything at all.
It's easy to be so free when you've got a big safety net, which is...

My family.
This year started with my sister and her babes taking care of me in
New Zealand. If that music player up top is playing the song "Home" right now, that's what they gave me.

Here's my niece, Bella.

Skipping rocks will be on her list of things to be happy about one day. For now, it's just "throwing rocks," which was one of our preferred excuses for sitting together on the shore of the lake.

This photo refers back to #9 on the original list: winter sun, which is wonderful all over New York, but I highly recommend 2nd avenue. It also refers back to an entry from May when Polaroids were added to the list. I'm thankful that Tom Slaughter never lets golden light like this on the fire escape go unappreciated. I appreciate that. He snapped this on Friday.

I've been assigned cookies for Thanksgiving, probably because my cousin Judy knows there's nothing I'd rather make. So...thanks.

Click the little pencil below to leave a comment if you want, and let me know what's on your list.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

theobroma cacao: sensual sustainable seratonins

Single-origin chocolate should have been starring at last weekend's New York Chocolate Show.
Jill Santopietro wrote and blogged about it for The New York Times. It's been the high point of my kitchen cupboard since August, when I visited Fazenda Monte Alegre, Diego BadarĂ³'s cacao farm in Bahia, Brazil.
So I bundled up Sunday evening to catch the end of the show, ripe for cacao-buzzed inspiration.

Instead I found chocolate records inscribed with holiday messages, mannequins wearing chocolate dresses and a "Divalicious!" chocolate fountain for marshmallow-dipping. I don't mean to sound like a scrooge, but it seems silly to go to such great lengths to create a novelty out of what is such a magical material to begin with. But, alas...

Diego, he of Cacao BadarĂ³ in Brazil, an alchemist in the truest sense, came to New York for the occasion. Tuesday night he shared his wares with a few friends: some special chocolate-makers, farmers and importers of exotic fruits. In an apartment in the West Village, a red wine and dark chocolate-fueled jam session brought us all back to Bahia, the origin of Cacao BadarĂ³ chocolate. Magic is restored.

Below is a little taste I recorded that night:
The farmers and chocolateirs on their instruments in the background, Diego telling about cacao farming and my photos: beginning in New York, then taking you back to the origin in Bahia.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

living to see the day

Go figure that my star reporter on the election is a Canadian.
For real though, my friend and colleague from CUNY, the photographer Kristen Joy Watts, produced this audio slide show with Collin Orcutt in Harlem yesterday.

I won't write much. It speaks for itself.
A Canadian photographing an America we can begin to feel proud of.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

election day

Reporting live from the end of the line...

CUNY assigned me to cover the end of the line in Queens in September.
So today I'm pounding the pavement out there again...went with Jagir Singh-Bains, 76, a new citizen and first-time voter, for a story a few hours ago. Now I'm about to head to the Democratic Headquarters to watch the results come in.

Here's a photo from the last stop on the F-Train, where Jagir picked me up today to accompany him to the polls.
What I've found here over the last couple of months is sort of like an American Atlantis...a mythical land where middle-class people of all colors and religions run small businesses in relative harmony.

The candidates kept talking about Main Street. Maybe this is what it looks like.