Saturday, December 31, 2011

Camille Claudel

I just watched Camille Claudel, the 1988 movie starring Isabelle Adjani in the title role. Besides the sometimes horrendous (read : over-dramatic) soundtrack, I enjoyed the portrayal of the artist. And was touched by Claudel's genius, and her tragic story. The long fought struggle of women artists to exist in their own right, not as merely other (male) artists' muses. And the hardship that comes from not having what most of those men had : support and care in the form of female companionship and inspiration. As a woman you have to be the artist, the muse and the caretaker all at once. And what was her brother Paul thinking? she introduced him to the poetry of Arthur Rimbaud, and all he found to do to repay her was to keep her interned for 30 years - even though the medical personnel recommended she be released. Maybe he felt threatened...we yet have to see the day when most men are not, by strong women. I find her willfulness and dedication so inspiring, and her art beyond moving. I loved when Blot (the gallery owner) says about it : "...puisqu'il m'arrache les entrailles, moi" ('since it tears my heart out'). I guess next time I'm in Paris a trip to the Musée Rodin will be in order - not to see his works (although I will too) but to visit the room dedicated to her.

 la vague

Camille Claudel in 1884, at 19

la valse

vertumne et pomone

la petite châtelaine

les causeuses

...and Rodin's arrogance:

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Bay Bridged

A nice treat for the end of the year: The Bay Bridged included a song of mine in one of their 2011 in-review mixtape - take a listen! A lot of other Bay Area friends in there, including Dreamdate, Sonny Smith,  Papercuts, Vetiver, The Foxtails Brigade, Little Wings...too many to name. How lucky are we here?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Xmas Cheeseburgers

Xmas Cheeseburgers 

I was without Christmas spirit
so I made three cow dogs, 
Lola and Blacky and Pinto,
cheeseburgers with ground chuck
and French St. André cheese
so that we'd all fell better.
I delivered them to Hard Luck Ranch
and said, "Chew each bite 32 times."
They ignored me and gobbled.
The world that used to nurse us
now keeps shouting inane instructions.
That's why I ran to the woods.

Jim Harrison, Songs of Unreason

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Alice and the Jabberwocky

Some of my students were learning Jabberwocky with me this semester, the Donovan version:

...they were having fun with the words, acting them out. I explained to them that since the nonsensical language was invented, you could imagine the Jabberwocky to be anything you wanted it to be, but some of them told me that 'there is a Jabberwocky in the movie'. Since I only knew the 1951 Walt Disney version (I do prefer books before anything else after all), I was a little perplexed. They went on to tell me how it was a sort of dragon, big and scary of course. After a little research I figured that they must have been talking about the Tim Burton film, and so I borrowed it and watched it one night:

And I loved it. I usually don't go for big productions and special effects, but I loved how he used the Jabberwocky poem and made it come to life, while at the same time making the story about a young woman finally taking charge of her own life through the power of her imagination. It was wonderful to see what someone might make a bandersnatch to be, or the jubjub bird and of course the jabberwocky. Yet I was mostly touched by the typical fairytale symbolism of slaying the monster - your inner fears and everything that keeps you from believing in yourself - in order to proceed to the next chapter of your life. And in this case the hero (in the mythical sense, as discussed by Joseph Campbell) is a heroine. "Girl power" as one of my colleagues summarized it when I described it to him.

I ended up showing it to my students on their last class of the semester (after they were done with their holiday show) - reserved a room and arranged to have all three fifth grade classes together for an hour and forty-five minutes. A lot of them hadn't seen it - they were riveted.


And here's the Lewis Carroll poem that started it all. For an explanation of the lexicon you might want to consult this wikipedia article.


'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought--
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! and through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

"And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"
He chortled in his joy.

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

from Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There

(as illustrated by John Tenniel)

Sunday, October 30, 2011


Right before the brutal police action that ensued last tuesday. Love those sweet punk butts. How can you gas or fire at these kids?

(photo from Facebook - Bhadra Bhee)

Our friends Persephone's Bees (New York transplants from Oakland) have a song about all that is wrong and being rightfully protested these days. Listen below, find the Bees here.

Persephone's Bees -  Independence Day

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Fall Mix

I made a Fall mix, mostly of songs I've been listening to in the last two months. I called it Lovers Lane after this awesome song by locals Hunx and His Punx...enjoy!

Photo © Dara Scully
1- David Bowie - An Occasional Dream
2- The Kings Of Convenience - Rule My World
3- Neil Young - Lookin' For A Love
4- Syd Barrett - Late Night
5- The Pastels - Comin' Through
6- Hunx And His Punx - Lovers Lane
7- Bert Jansch - Woe Is Love My Dear
8- The Smiths - How Soon Is Now?
9- Donovan- Jabberwocky
10- The Beatles - Across The Universe
11- David Bowie - The Man Who Sold The World

check out the stellar Lovers Lane video:

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Poolside Sunday

I'm finally back from Europe and all my travels up and down the West Coast, ready to be back in the hazy fold of San Francisco. It was  a memorable summer. I was met with sweet audiences and the nicest people most time I'll just plan the driving a little better! (never play a show after driving 10 hours, one of the golden rules I learned...). This is why we do what we do, as musicians, and so taking my songs to new places and people felt so right and inspiring.

For the record, the album is now available in a few new places: for Europe, 
Total Heaven in Bordeaux and online at Hands and Arms, and for Seattle, at Mossy Bottom Records and Sonic Boom. You can also always order either the vinyl or the download from Bandcamp or get your mp3s from iTunes.

To celebrate my return I'm playing a sweet solo show for the 
Mission Creek Festival this sunday at the Phoenix Hotel. It's a poolside party with Hannah Moriah and Matthew and the Unfortunates. 2 to 8pm, and FREE! and - all ages!!
To RSVP on Facebook:

So bring the kids, your sunglasses and come out to welcome me back! It'll be great to see all your friendly faces. The songs might not be all new (although there might be some...) but I think the summer did something to my singing I rather like, so come hear...

The Mission Creek Music & Arts Festival presents

A Poolside Party at the Phoenix Hotel
+ DJ Neil Martinson
The Phoenix Hotel 601 Eddy at Larkin
2pm – 8pm / FREE! All Ages!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

On the road

Up in Seattle right now, lovely last night at Mossy Bottom Records, radio show this morning, sweet house concert tonight, and tomorrow the Sunset Tavern!!

Here are some of the tracks we played on the radio this morning:

The Boswell Sisters - That's How Rhythm Was Born

B.B. King - The Thrill Is Gone

The Kinks - All Day And All Of The Night

Jacques Brel - Madeleine

Nouvelle Vague - The Killing Moon


Saturday, August 6, 2011

Days of summer

The Supremes, You Can't Hurry Love

the cafe on the harbor, where I go read

les plages sauvages

The Beach Boys, Disney Girls

Sometimes it rains too. Kids and family everywhere, with hardly any time to think, or do the work I need to do. My reading stalled.

But I liked this poem.

Friday, August 5, 2011

La Loge, Paris

The last Paris show was at La Loge, a lovely little theater nestled in the courtyard of old cabinetmakers' worshops, in the 11th arrondissement. You have to ring the bell from the street to get in!

The show was an afternoon marathon of 15 solo artists, put together by Les Boutiques Sonores - part of their summer festival, the Bittersweet Paradise. A lot of talent and friendly people, both on the artists' and organizers' sides...

It was seated affair, the theater is a sweet 50 capacity room, and there were pillows on the floor for the front rows. The ladies on the left are part of a music-loving knitting brigade called Les Pelotes Soniques ('the sonic balls of yarn'). Check out what they're all about on their blog here - they made the stage even cozier. Once again, a very quiet and attentive audience, thank you!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Where to get your vinyl in Europe

As I mentioned before, I visited a great record store in Bordeaux, Total Heaven. The owner took a few copies of The Deer Convention in consignment, so if you live or find yourself in Bordeaux, do go and pay Martial a visit, and ask him for a copy. He'll play you any record you want to hear in his store, and he has a great selection!
Total Heaven is at 6 rue de Candale in the very center of town, near rue Sainte Catherine.

If you live elsewhere...well the record is now available through a very cool online vendor called Hands and Arms. It's only 17.50 euros, and that includes shipping for France. Cheaper (and faster!) than ordering through Bandcamp (but do visit Bandcamp if you just want the download). Read about them here (in French). I met the owner at a Boutique Sonores show (more on that later) and was intrigued by his collection - from Gainsbourg to Britpop, with some obscure or otherwise lesser known bands thrown in for good measure. I bought him a sweet little Field Mice reissue...memory lane!

Monday, August 1, 2011


I'm a little late on reporting on the shows and travel...Bordeaux was almost a month ago! - july 8 and 9. The show was a lot of fun, at the St Ex, a bar with a smoky downstairs basement that made me think of Liverpool or St Germain des Prés back in the least what I imagine it might have been. I played with some fun loving lads, Alba Lua, and a sweet lady, also named Hélène (Queen of the Meadow) - it was only her second show!
Sadly I didn't take any photos of the club, or of the cool record store where I played the night before (Total Heaven), but I had one evening on my own when I traipsed the old town and the quays. There's a definite feeling you're in the south, south of the Loire but even further, I could have pretended to be in Spain or some mediterranean city. As recommended by my friend Rita, I had a thé à la menthe on the old square...sweet!

And what it all made me want to listen to on the train the next day:

Caetano Veloso e Gal Costa, Coraçao Vagabundo

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

La Flèche d'Or - 7/7

...or "The Golden Arrow"- that was the first Paris show (and my first show in France ever!), opening for Vetiver and Marques Toliver. Such a lovely and attentive audience...a lot of people sat on the floor as my set went on, it made me feel like I was in California. Friends were there. And someone (Florian Denis) took some beautiful looking photos, check them out here. Afterwards, Marques Toliver wooed the audience and Vetiver were stellar as always...a great night!

here we are on the weekly program 
(in the entrance hallway)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Poème du matin

...with an evening photograph. The same week I went to the bird market, I was staying in the 5th arrondissement, which is a lovely part of Paris with old buildings, parks nearby (the Luxembourg and the Jardin des Plantes), and a lot of history. The apartment was on the sixth floor (with no elevator...) and the view of the rooftops was magical at sundown. One morning I started to write a poem, so here it is.

                    The day begs to be begun
                    Amidst the stirring of dreams and birds
                    Beyond the wing of hopeful wishes
                    On the tips of the rosy sunrise

                    The day begs to be begun
                    Though the valleys are steep
                    The boat waits for its water
                    And mysterious houses call to be found -
                    While you hide away the jewels
                    Bury them deep
                    Claim your leave

                    The day begs to be begun
                    On the far corner of my sleep
                    By the soft borders of the bed

                    In the recesses of my limbs

                    The day

June 30 - July 4, 2011

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Le marché aux oiseaux

I'm still (or again) in Paris- a lot has happened, I played a couple of great shows here and in Bordeaux. For now here are a few photos of the bird market- it's an old institution on the Ile de la Cité (where Notre Dame is). There is a flower market everyday, it's held in beautiful cast iron stalls with glass roofs, and every sunday it's a bird market. I was always fascinated by it as a child (I must have read about it) but had never gone. So I did sunday before last. It was a little disheartening to see all of them birds caged-in (can you imagine if they were all flying around instead?) - but some of them were very pretty...

...and there were fish too!
(and a few other critters, like ferrets and guinea pigs)