How To Cook A Man

The Beer Burn - photo courtesy of Brandon Burkhart

The title of this essay was going to be “How to Cook a Man…(So He Stays Tender and Juicy)”.

At first, I thought I would focus on the slow-simmer rather than the full heat, using the right seasoning, drawing out the flavor, rather than cutting in too quickly–all the food-stuff metaphors you could possibly lay on sex and love innuendo.  For reasons of scarcity and sanity, I have been out of the game for a while.

Love is a country I have visited but where I cannot remember the language. Maybe I mean the opposite. I know the words; I just have no idea where it is or how to get there.

I’m not lonely, which one of my friends Tony states is utter bullsh-t. I’m not yearning or pining, which is my usual state of being. I am desperately trying to avoid being bitter and callous and drudging up the old clichés of being this particular age and watching the men of the same age gallivant straight towards chicks a decade or more younger.

I was there once. I lured in the older guys and ignored the wise all-knowing, exhausted looks of their female counterparts. The weight we imparted on men back then was looser and idealistic. There is no more ideal. Instead, there is ‘Can this work in a practical and sexual manner for an extended period of time, and do we get along enough to not loathe each other in the process’? Best friend with great sexual chemistry. That’s the gist.

Instead of how to keep a man juicy, I am wondering how to keep myself moist and supple, tender and delicious. Age is rapidly descending, manifesting in both positive and droopy ways. It’s funny, cause I feel happier and more gorgeous than I did when dudes were readily available for swings and flings. But a gentleman friend recently said I scare men away. Why the hell would I do that, I implored? Because you know what you want, he offered.

Hmmph. I know what I don’t want and won’t tolerate. But I also know what brings me happiness.  And now I am trying to rally up all the things that bring me joy. Other than food, I mean.

Is that so scary?

I don’t regret being single right now. Or being childless. Hells no.  I am immersed in great people, a great town, and blessed with a curious, voracious appetite. I do occasionally regret my ample leftovers, and hope that some handsome funny fine fellow can one day savor the impromptu casual meals I cook for myself. The ones we improvise are sometimes the best ones we make. Hopefully a good meal and being yourself can keep a man warm and delicious and vice versa. If anything has kept my folks together for almost 40 years, it has to be their love of food and cooking. That might not be enough, but it is better than most.

Baste, rub, cajole, be salty and sweet. Go slowly, shop around, be picky but get cooking cause it’s almost supper time. And if you have to eat alone, just make sure you enjoy the company.

SMASHPAPER 2011: WRITERS WANTED

Well, as a web-zine with one contributor and editor (me), I can egocentrically say that 2010 was a great year for Smashpaper.  We learned how to log into our blog, we learned how to post articles to said blog, we even learned how to re-post content from the web and add pictures sometimes.  Big stuff.

For 2011, Smashpaper is expanding by at least 100% and focusing attention on self-improvement as well as continuing reviews of what people are doing well.   A lot of us grow naturally–blossoming like roses in the desert, persevering like cacti, proliferating like weeds, whatever!  But some of us require more careful pruning.

That some-of-us reads and writes for Smashpaper 2011.

On the web, there are sites that will tell you how to make a pancake, for example, or how to organize your Hi-8 collection.  But the bigger-better question still needs to be asked.  How do you just become a bigger-better version of who you already are?  You have innate gifts, right?  How do you hone and amplify those gifts and turn into a machine lean and mean enough to endure the normal challenges of life and discouragement and still stay focused on what you want to deliver with your limited time on earth.

The ultimate question:

How do you be a great writer and have fantastic abs?

O, o.  So many inspirational words.

Anyway, if you know someone who knows someone who has a unique and eh. . .slightly

optimistic perspective on life-the-endurance-test, or if they just know how to do something unique and spell pretty well, please send them my way.

We are looking for a stable of writing stallions, black-humored, muscular, and beautiful.  If you personally are interested, don’t volunteer, have someone recommend you.

Thank you,

Chairmeowww

chairmeowww@ladwpower.com

Real Cop Tips For A Would-Be Bicycle Thief Vigilante

My housemate’s bike got stolen two days ago between 12AM and 8AM. The guy used a crow-bar to separate bars of a welded iron fence by our house and made off with her ride. She was upset. I was upset for her. I was upset for us. Our block in Little Tokyo guarantees a certain amount of daily downtown mayhem, but the fence in question stands only 15 ft. from our building. The adjacent parking lot is well-lit, monitored by 24-hour surveillance cameras courtesy of the 24-hour bail bonds businesses that run out of the first floor of our building. Across the way, a shopping plaza has security on overnight foot patrol. The LAPD headquarters is literally across the street.

I’ve been thinking for weeks about buying a new machine to replace my granny-style bike as my mode of transportation to work everyday. But since this disturbance of my domestic peace new, tense, okay, vengeful thoughts have presented themselves. What if a prospective new bike could be used as a decoy to catch our neighborhood fence thug, or better, a legion of neighborhood fence thugs? What if I bought the Swobo-Otis, which I’ve been eyeing online ($719.00), but ALSO bought a semi-automatic bb-gun to man from our second story window on a cold, dark night?

These things were on my mind as I sat having coffee with a friend this past Saturday morning. I had just finished outlining my plans for OLTJMBH (Operation Little Tokyo Justice Must Be Had) when two well-groomed (aren’t they usually-at least in Little Tokyo?) police officers walked into Urth Cafe and sat down next to us. I struck up a conversation with Officer 89902 and told him of my intentions. “Officer, my roommate’s bike was stolen and I’d like to take matters into my own hands. Can you tell me what I can do within the law?” The officer was friendly and helpful. We casually discussed BB-guns, paintball guns, and water guns. He said it was all a matter of getting caught, ha ha, but that actually “defending property with a weapon is illegal.” Defending oneself against assault is okay, but in general, reasonable (rather than killer) force is recommended when apprehending criminals, otherwise you can get in trouble. I learned that while you can’t use a bb-gun, you can use a stun gun, but you’re not allowed to hold anyone captive for an excessive amount of time. Meaning, once you’ve got him handcuffed to the fence, you shouldn’t use your stun gun to make him squeal. Best to call the cops before you make your citizen’s arrest and leave prolonged tazing to the authorities, lest you be sued for excessive force/torture. I also learned, citizens are allowed to “volunteer patrol” neighborhoods in cop cars. They are licensed, given an official vehicle to drive around in, but have no authority to make arrests. On foot and outside of licensed patrol, citizens have privileges that cops don’t have. They / We can enter a building and check things out without probable cause or warrant. I guess trespassing private property’s not allowed, but if something’s amiss, you can always go and investigate the situation as a snoopy citizen. A cop, on the other hand, IS the gov’ment.

Interfering or entering without probable cause or a warrant would be a violation of someone’s civil rights. What this means is that we have the liberty to watch our own neighborhoods and engage in a way that cops can’t–as undercover civilian hawks. It’s not against the law to be on the look-out or to take action when necessary.

Note to bicycle thieves at 1st and Los Angeles–

I have a super-soaker and it’s filled with fish oil.

Male Wedding Fantasies by Craig Spivek

I think about dating. It’s fun. It’s the normal thing to do. It definitely accomplishes the task of being and feeling normal.

It’s normal for women to picture their wedding day. That’s normal shit. It’s pretty widespread. Perhaps that’s why there is all of those bridezilla reality shows and magazine covers. My favorite image so far is Hilary Duff on the cover of OK Magazine. In her wedding dress, smiling, the caption reads, “Her DREAM WEDDING.”

She’s alone on the cover.

The groom is non-existent.

Her cyborg-ish smile engineered by Honeywell appears to be ripping apart cheek muscles as whitened teeth are clearly made over prominent.

Whatever.

Mazel tov.

Why do women picture their wedding day? Especially when first meeting someone. I think it’s a necessary parameter of vision. If they can envision it, it can be achievable. A believable vision, set in stone, early in life, so as to foster hope and joy in a worldly endeavor. When a girl meets a guy (a real guy, not a booty call guy), she calibrates. Can I see being married to him? The more she sees, the better it looks. The more realistic and “Inception-esque” the fantasy, the better your chances. Can I see the day? Can I see the dress? The flowers, the catering, the band? The location. Whose in charge of flowers? Why is that person in every shot? Where’s the photographer…? Those hors d’oeuvres sucked ass! Why is my maid-of-honor acting like a total whore? You get the idea.

But I think guys are different. I know I am. I’ve tried to have the wedding fantasy. But it doesn’t take. Something about it is too pure for me. I think it is wrong to look upon such things in advance. It leads to manipulation.

Control makes me nervous. Guys use other visionary tactics to figure out if she’s the one. For myself I use a couple of scenarios. The first one is easy.

Can I picture her dead?

Boom, laying there, limp. Maybe in a casket.

Dead from a shootout with the cops.

One bank too many, baby…tears…I won’t let you die in vain…(We hear the click of the gun, I turn to face the Bolivian army, solo… morbid?! Not really.

I think about her dead and then I think to myself, can I handle it? Can I be without her? If my eyes well up, If I think about turning the gun on myself, she’s a keeper.

If I take a bite out of an imaginary corned beef sandwich and start thinking about where to eat dinner with such a heavy lunch in me as I stare down at her lifeless corpse then, guess what?

R.I.P. baby…

Can I see her at a podium? Looking strong and true? She’s accepting some award on my behalf. Being gracious and filled with poise, humility and strength. The wind blowing as she reads a prepared statement on my behalf. “My now-dead husband believed in starting this foundation so that children could get ahead. He believed in helping people, especially the youth of this world. The fact that he died while having some serious mind-blowing sex with me, his totally hot and insatiable wife, should not deter any of you from seeking out your dreams. This scholarship that he is creating is for all of you…truly.”

Can I see her kicking the crap out of some hoochie momma who is talking shit about me in a bar?

“Come on bitch! Outside, NOW! Nobody puts Cragi in a corner!!! I will cut you!”

Behind bars? Staring out of her holding cell, framed for wire fraud by a jealous ex-husband?

Can I see her plotting an interstate check kiting scam involving magazine subscriptions? A string of  minority-owned Check Cashing places in her wake. She floors the stolen Camaro across the state line, late for a hot date at the dog track with yours truly…

Yes, as a man, I try to envision her sexually, but in all honesty, there’s not a whole lot to it. I see her face, sweaty, in a level of ecstacy. Perhaps a body on top of her, or underneath her. Not even sure if it’s me. The point being is can I envision her being sexual? Doesn’t matter if it’s me or not. It just can’t be her with an Elf or a Hobbit or someone funnier then me. That shit will wear on me.

I see the love we make as a present to be unwrapped as we proceed. Can I envision her laughing? Crying? Showing human emotion?

She’s in.

Can I see her cutting people off in traffic?

Laughing at the retarded?

Being rude to a waiter?

Letting the plant I bought her die?

She’s out.

I try to envision as many of these things as possible in order to facilitate some type of reference point to see if it sticks. To see if they stick. That’s what I fantasize about. I’m a man. Here me roar. I think women are doing the same thing when they fantasize about their wedding day.

A wedding day fantasy?

Man, that’s creepy.

Rasa Gallery Artist Bio: Ayuna Collins, Painter

Brrack a.k.a. "Mr. President"

Ayuna Collins stands in space with the long neck of a dancer.

If she was a chicken, she would be a swan, if she was a submarine, she would be the periscope. From her unique position as dancer/swam/periscope, she sees color, people, objects, texts in a unique way.

In this series, we consider the chicken from Ayuna’s perspective and cluck with revelation.

The birds separate into two flocks. Birds of Sacrifice, and Birds of Gaze. The Birds of Sacrifice have color but will not avoid slaughter. Their place in the world is one of form and movement, but their destiny is to be consumed. For all their scratch and cockle, they share a wild look of attention to nothing at all. They are mad chickens, belonging neither in the sky nor in the coop, but rather in the art frame.

The birds of gaze are another story.

These birds could guard your house.
Their form is inhabited.
Their form intimidates.
Their form holds a history.
Their form has a presence.
Their form implies effect.

Hang them in the entryway of your home and they will apprehend, even as they are apprehended.

As with these birds, so with man.

Interview (repost): Talking with Joon Lee from the Depths of the Blue Whale

from blogdowntown


DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES — Musician-turned-entrepreneur Joon Lee acts more like a curator or patron of the arts than club owner. Intent on producing an intense level of engagement with music for both performer and listener, everything about his venue reflects a vision that lives deep in the space. A wall-sized chalkboard that serves as a constantly changing marquee for the artists slated to play. Seating is comfortable and modular, so that guests arrange themselves around the music as they see fit. No platform separates performers from audience members. On an angled ceiling overhead, poems by Rumi, Hafiz, and Cherokee leader Leon Shanandoah Tadodaho invite guests to settle in and listen more deeply.

ALANNA LIN: Where are you from?

JOON LEE: I’m from Korea originally. But I moved when I was 18 or 19. . . to Kentucky.

AL: Kentucky. Why!

JL: In big cities there are so many Koreans, so I decided I would go a small city where there were not very many Koreans so I could learn how to speak English. But then there were not enough Koreans in Kentucky (laughs). People would run away when they would see me. So I lived there for seven months and then I moved out to NYC.

AL: That’s a dramatic change.

JL: Yeah, at the time, my major was architecture. I went to Pratt Institute of Art in Brooklyn. I was studying architecture, working as a busboy at a restaurant on Bleeker Street a little above Soho. I started listening to the music they were playing at the restaurant and it sounded pretty fun. It sounded TOO FUN. At the time I didn’t know that it was jazz or anything, but I thought to myself, maybe I’m going to do this instead of architecture, so I quit school.

AL: You heard this music and decided just to change what you were doing?

JL: (pauses, considering) Yes?

AL: Wow.

JL: I found out later that the album was Bobby McFerrin and Chick Corea.

AL: Oh, yeah, that is too fun.

JL: Yeah (nodding).

So I quit everything, came out to LA and started looking for a vocal teacher. I found her. Cathy Segal-Garcia–an amazing woman. Then I went to MI [Musician’s Institute] briefly, but quit school when I realized I was learning more from my friends gigging than what I was learning in class.

So instead of paying for school (laughs). . . I decided to make a recording. Last year my album was 80-90% finished when suddenly my good friend called me up and said, “Joon, you want to do something in Downtown? “ I was like, “What you talking about?” It was the recession, you know? He took me to the spot where there was a Japanese club. The place had really low ceilings. Looked totally different. At the time, I didn’t know Downtown was really happening. But he said, “You want to take it or what?” I said, “I’ll take it.”

The next day I called my arranger and said, “We’re going to stop arranging for now–please don’t bother me, I have another gig for a while.”

We worked on the space for three months, knocking out the low ceiling. It was 9 ft. to and now it’s 12 ft. Construction started in September and we worked up until opening day. December 10, 2009. I was working until 6:30pm and we were opening at 8pm. But since then. . .it’s been Blue Whale.

AL: How was opening night?

JL: Great! Ralph Morrison (past concertmaster of the LA Chamber Orchestra), came down with a string quartet. Bevan Manson, a beautiful piano player – wrote a song about the Blue Whale, and all these classical and jazz guys played it together! He was the partner on my album who introduced me to Rumi and Hafiz.

AL: The poetry on the ceiling?

JL: Yes. When we were working on the space, I called up Bevan and said, “Come up with some Rumi or Hafiz for me.” He asked me, “What do you want to do with it? Do you want me to print it up and frame it as a gift?” I said, “No, no. Let’s just come up with three good things and I’ll take care of it.” He said, “Where are you going to put it?” I said, “You don’t have to know.”

AL: Did you already know where you were going to put it then?

JL: Yeah, I wanted to have Rumi or Hafiz on the ceiling because I wanted all the musicians to be able to play under Rumi’s energy (smiles). And when Bevan came, and he looked up and saw it on the ceiling, he said, “F-ck. . .It’s nice.” . . .So that’s how Rumi came into the Blue Whale.

AL: What specifically about Hafiz and Rumi did you connect with? Both are mystics. I love their poems, but I remember walking in here the first time, looking up and thinking, “Rumi! Hafiz! What are Rumi and Hafiz doing here?”

JL: They’re blue whales. . .I don’t know how to put it. There are many bad things are happening in the world right now, every second. So, this room is “supporting the arts.” But supporting the arts is one of the ways to save the world. There are so many scars that we’ve made, we (quoting Hafiz) “have to hold hands.”

Out of a great need
We are all holding hands
and climbing.
Not loving is letting go.

AL: The photographs on the wall?

JL: They’re are all of children from Iraq.

AL: Really?

JL: When I built this place, I knew this friend of mine was in Iraq as a journalist / photographer and he took these photos of children in that country. I said, “Hey, I know you’ve been taking pictures in Iraq. . .” He’s a sensitive guy so he said, “You can’t do that. This is a jazz club. You should have a nice photo of a city night scene. . .” I said “We have enough of that. We don’t need that.” The pictures of Iraq are actually what’s happening right now. . .People are so hypnotized by all the reality shows like American Idol and stuff like that, they don’t see it. . .So I was like, “No, I’m going to do this. Bring all your pictures. Not much blood, ok? But bring some good ones.”

Maybe the next exhibition should be mug shots of contestants from American Idol. But I’m not going to do that. (laughs). It’s all connected to the poems. It’s not just about the music I want to have here. There’s a lot of music clubs in LA. . .It may sound weird. But I just want to have a little peace from this little room. I want to have more of that.”

AL: Peace through looking at reality truthfully.

JL: Yeah. It’s not about the politics. I’m not a political guy, but even during construction I was thinking, maybe the first exhibit will be pictures from Iraq because that’s what’s happening right now.

AL: Versus American Idol. . .

JL: Or Dancing with the Stars. I’m not very knowledgeable about politics. But no matter what, kids are dying, young men are dying without knowing one good reason. Actually that’s what’s happening along with American Idol . ..but people are more focused on beautiful things. . .I mean. . .beautiful? — I don’t know. But they’re more focused on that than what is happening. . .Just like jazz.

AL: Why’s that?

JL: The scene is not as good as before. It’s the whole economy, YouTube– people don’t want to listen to live music, jazz music anymore. They’re more into all the computerized things. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of people doing great things. But there’s a reason I book who I book here. I carefully find musicians who are willing to be on the edge rather than just straight ahead, jing jinga jing. Because there are so many so many places out there and everything and people are always complaining about N.Y. and L.A. But the thing is, there are tons of great musicians in LA who don’t get a chance to play out, who don’t get a chance to play what they want to play. Because I listen to their music beforehand and have an understanding of what they are doing before I book them, it’s not such a risk for me. Once they come in here as a player, they have priority here. I always tell them, “Start whenever you want to start. . . and end whenever you want to end.” That’s the reason we don’t have a stage. . .As an improviser it’s very important to share energy, eye contact and energy –so I wanted to break that invisible wall in this case a musician can set up their band anywhere. We designed it so that there’s an electrical outlet every three feet(smiling) — they can find one anywhere.

AL: That’s cool!

JL: So people want to set up in the middle now… First few months it was pretty funny to look at them, they were so used to the conventional way, always going to the back-wall to set up, so I said, “Come on out, play in the middle!” If we have a string quartet in the middle, the audience hears the bow-sound, even breathing, everything. Or like the piano player tonight . . .I want people to be able to really listen to the music just like they would in their living room.

AL: How can you afford to keep up this ethos? I don’t know if this is a rude question, but are you going broke?

JL: Pretty soon (laughs). It’s tough for everyone right now. I don’t want to complain. I want to keep it as along as I can. I want to do whatever I can to keep it going. Thankfully, I have great support from the musicians — they come here and play . . .I’m very grateful about that. Great music, great things from people. It makes me humble. Even when it’s a struggle, watching people who come here and play hard, makes me really strong. I don’t know how long my batteries are going to last, but all the great people and great music help my batteries stay green.”

The Blue Whale / 123 Astronaut E S Unisia St., Suite 301 (Weller Court) / Open Mic, Mondays 9pm-2am; Thu-Sat 8pm-2am, Sun 6pm-12am / $10 cover with parking validation / Great food

Kontemporary Fried Chicken (KFC)- Moral Conflict Dinner and Art Show

Would You Eat Me?

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

LOS ANGELES, CA, 3 August 2010 —

LADWP Opens with Kontemporary Fried Chicken (KFC)- A Moral Conflict Chicken Dinner and Art Show

On Saturday, August 14th , 2010, Los Angeles Department of Writing and Power, a creative writing and performance studio based in Downtown LA, will be hosting “Kontemporary Fried Chicken” an event billed as a ‘complicated’ celebration of the world’s most domesticated bird of prey.  The vibrant paintings of Ayuna Collins will be on display as fry-masters,  Gene Coye and Jeremiah Jeffra, serve up a feast that members of the honored bird family would most likely lament…fried chicken.  Is it possible to love the chicken and eat it, too?  Will attendees be able to admire the art and digest the main course?  A vegetarian alternative will be available for conscientious objectors.  The event takes place at LADWP headquarters in Little Tokyo.

“This event covers the range and the free-range, featuring chickens that express humanity,  to test the boundaries of our empathy.  How would you feel if we fried you up? Would you prefer a cage or wide open lawns?  On the other hand, if it tastes so good, how can it possibly be wrong?  These are a few of the questions we hope to pose to the public–whose responses should be interesting,”  said LADWP event host, Mindy Chiu.  The visual art of Ayuna Collins, plays freely with personality and personification.  Her understanding of movement and figure and the implications of gesture from a past-life in the dance world yields chickens that lean, heckle, regard, confront, question, bleed, itch, scratch, exude machismo. . .All from mixed media compositions on parchment.

“Kontemporary Fried Chicken: A Moral Conflict Dinner & Art Show” hosted by Los Angeles Department of Writing and Power (LADWP), 244 1/2 E. 1st Street, Suite 220, Los Angeles 90012, Saturday, August 14th, 2010, 7:30pm-10:30pm.  Featuring work by Ayuna Collins, public comment, and fried chicken (with vegetarian option).   Art Show:  Free.  Dinner:  RSVP via website –  $10 (members), $15 (non-members).  http://www.ladwpower.com/events

Contact:

Alanna Lin, Director of Public Relations
Immaculate PR / LADWP
310-936-1212
alanna@ladwpower.com
http://www.ladwpower.com

###

Interview: Stephen Hauptfur of Mooi – Echo Park

Chairmeowww & Stephen Hauptfur of Mooi
A Sunny Afternoon @ Mooi with Stephen Hauptfur

Testing Inspiration – Pop-Tarts from the DIY Underground

How many vegan pop-tarts have you eaten without thinking about how that vegan pop-tart came to be?

My interview with Stephen Hauptfur of  Mooi (1700 W. Sunset Blvd.) in Echo Park, revealed a fascinating story about the DIY ethos at work behind the counters and enticing glass displays of the charming cafe.  Early childhood immune system failure, house music, and event promotions. . .Who would’ve guessed all three would parlay into Stephen Hauptfur’s creation of delightful raw and vegan confections for all of Los Angeles?

When you were a kid, did you cook?
Yeah I did, because of health issues.  It started with an incident where I was 20 months old and I got accidentally  poisoned.  I actually died and got resuscitated in the ambulance, but after that my immune system was wrecked.

At 3 1/2, they diagnosed me with infectious mono. . .the kissing disease?  I was three, I hadn’t kissed anyone, but my immunity was so low, I was sick all of the time.  When I was four, the doctors told me I had leukemia.  I had no social life until sixth grade, because I got picked up from school every day at 3pm to go to the doctor’s.

I started making food for myself when I was around eleven years of age, because my parents were gone a lot and it was up to me to figure out how to take care of myself.  Over the years I gradually figured out my intolerances.   When I was fifteen, I cut red meat out of my diet.  Two years later, I eliminated diary and gluten.  I think due to figuring things out for myself from a very young age, I’m very DIY.  Getting myself down the path I chose, getting to raw food has been amazing.

What did you do before this?
Promotions, weddings, parties, events.  I didn’t have any formal education for what I ended up doing.  Usually people work for someone who is doing events and learn the business that way.  I actually went to art school where in my infinite wisdom of being (at seventeen) I decided that I  didn’t want to compromise my artwork in order to sell it for rent–in that lame, when you’re seventeen, idealistic sort-of- way.

That’s not lame, that’s understandable.  But what then?
I decided to go into music –my second thing–to make a living, which lead me to DJing and putting on events.

How did it all happen?
We were holding underground parties at the beginning of the rave scene in LA.   Some of my friends and I were getting into house music, the acid house music coming out of Chicago, even house music from London, which was very alternative at the time.  No one was playing it and no one wanted to hire us when we wanted to play that music.  By default we started doing our parties. . .But then it caught on.   It went from house parties, to putting on clubs at bars, and from there, to doing corporate events.

Corporate?  How corporate?
Corporate.  Hugo Boss, GQ, Jaguar –like that– where we were inviting 500 -2500 people at a time.  Building out the tops of buildings, crazy stuff like that.  It all happened within a year in a half.

High production value, big budgets?
Yeah.  Some of the stuff we did was crazy. . .It’s just a testament that you should do what you want to do.

Why did you stop?
During that time I changed.  Or was changing.  I stopped drinking, not that I drank that much anyway.  Maybe for a total of two years out of my entire life.  I just got tired of inviting my friends somewhere in order to have them drink.  Just that entire world. . .tired me.

The catering company evolved out of monthly dinner parties I would host at my loft Downtown at the Brewery.  Friends started asking me, “Can you make me a cake or pie?”   Eventually friends of friends started asking.   And then friends of friends of friends.   At that point, I realized it might be a door out of doing what I was doing into another thing.

What was the name of your catering company?
Mooi. Same as this place.

How did it go?
It was very successful, actually.  We did very well, we started to sell packaged food, etc. — but we needed larger, licensed kitchen to sell to Whole Foods, so that’s when we found the kitchen here, and thought, if we’re going to pay for a kitchen, we might as well have another outlet for revenue, so we decided to open up here (gestures around him).

In the process of making all these things happen, have there ever been times when you felt daunted or afraid to take the next step?
I feel like that all the time whenever I start anything new, but if you don’t feel that way–then it’s probably not something you really want to do.  Every time there should be an element of impossibility, unsureness. . .If you already know the outcome what’s the fun and interest?

Do it and figure it out.
Yeah.  Two years ago when I said I wanted to start this and people would ask:  “What do you know about restaurants?”  My answer: “Nothing.”  I was still going to do it, though.  I knew I could figure it out along the way.

I was reading this book about career paths and it said something interesting about how artists are actually problem-solvers.  That they recognize something that’s needed or missing or bothering them and then seek to provide a creative solution. . .
(nodding) Well, I spend most of the my time recreating junk food that I liked to eat as a kid.  Because I couldn’t find version of it that I could eat.

Pop-tarts!  I saw those on display in the counter!  What else?
Orange chicken, Chinese food.  I loved it as a kid.  We have a  vegan orange chicken – orange jackfruit chicken. . .I also love mexican food.  So I’ve been creating things that I couldn’t find for myself, things I wanted–that didn’t exist.

How strict are you about your diet?
I’m not 100% raw/vegan.  I think anyone who is about being 100% anything, is setting themselves up for failure, because anything less than a 100% becomes the equivalent of failure.  The stress induced by that kind of self-expectation is horrible for you.  You want a bag of chips and burger at 1am? Do it and don’t worry about it.  Maybe juice the next day.  But don’t worry.  Worry is much worse for you than the chips or burger.

My feeling is a balance of everything is better than 100% of anything.

Why do you wear blue rubber gloves?
Not for looks.  Not to be cool (laughs).  I have a liver condition that makes my hands react when my skin comes into contact with sugar or agave.  I’m going to be doing a kidney / liver cleanse soon, hopefully that will get things working again.

You know how on Myspace there use to be a tag-line, i.e., your philosophy in a few words. . .What is yours right now?
I don’t want to sound cheesy or something.  But. . .(pause). . .Ultimately, really think that you can.  Imagine it and know that you can do anything you want.   You can make it happen, ’cause I have.

Do you ever regret getting sick as a little kid?
I’m kinda glad I did, because everything that happened led me to what I do now.  Sometimes people tell me they’re sorry for me because of everything I have to deal with.  I’m not sorry, it is who I am. I’m probably way healthier than the person telling me how sorry they are.  And I have done a lot of things people wouldn’t be able to do in 4 lifetimes, so I’m really happy.  :)

___


COMING UP AT MOOI IN AUGUST

August 10th, 2010 – Skinny Bitch Diet authors, Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin, will be doing a book signing and feeding all you skinny bitches, er, ladies.  The book is seemingly titled to make you think it’s promoting rude anorexia, but in fact it’s about animal rights and vegan dietary choices.

Mooi’s Restaurant and Dessert Parlour is located at 1700 W Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90026.  Check website for hours and times.  Contact: stephen@mooifoods.com with event  and / or catering inquiries.

Upcoming Event: UCLA Hammer Museum to Host Reading for PEN USA Emerging Writers

You’re scribbling in the night.  You think to yourself, this stuff is great!  I should really get it out there.  Become a writer.  Try to publish. Maybe apply for a creative writing program, get a scholarship!  I love the poetry in me!  I want to starve!

Or.

You could go to tomorrow’s lecture (more like a literary show and tell) at UCLA’s Hammer Museum, to hear the final reading from Emerging Voices Fellowship 2010 recipients.   The idea at work here is that writers need more support than a pen can provide.  Over a year’s time, PEN USA helps these new writers out by setting them up with a mentor, connecting them with more visible, established peers, giving them classes focused on genre (“I write political vampire humor pieces”) and hosting two public readings for them, the last of which takes place tomorrow night.

The emerging writers and poets are: Monica Carter, Natashia Deon, Lorene Garrett, Simone Kang, and Bev Magennis. Never heard of them?  Exactly the reason for the program!  They’re EMERGING! Like butterflies from the night! Let them be heard!

DETAILS!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm,
UCLA Hammer Museum (Call 310.443.7000 for more information.)
Free. 1 hour before start time.  1 per person, first come first serve.  No RSVP.

To apply for the 2011 PEN FELLOWSHIP, click here.

[original post for CultureMob]


Poetry Review: Jaime Asaye Fitzgerald – Dance For Your Ears

There is occasionally that experience of encountering something so adorable and exquisite at the same time, that you just clutch your chest and feel like a happy squirrel.

?!?

Wait, let me finish that image.

You’re a squirrel and you’re clutching a nut to your chest, like many nuts you’ve held in your arms time before, but somehow at this particular moment, you understand how beautiful it is that a nut is a nut, because. . .You are like the nut you hold.  Your grip is as firm, your heart, as close and protective.  And so you go from being a squirrel to being a nut and that means you’re going to be a tree.  And now you know greatness.

This is how I feel when I go to hear Jaime Asaye Fitzgerald read.  You can Google her if you want to hear about her Japanese-Hawaiian background, education, where’s she’s published, badda badda.  What you can’t possibly know until you see and hear her read aloud and live is that you will fall in love with her simple, deep poetry and her open, personal introductions to poems family, love, and life, and that she reads and writes like someone who understands dance, so that what you hear is full of movement and phrasing and weight.  Ah.  Every word has body.  It is so wonderful.

I pretty much have become accustomed to going and sitting myself in the audience so that I can crinkle my head in amazement at the beauty that comes out of this woman.  Some of her poems are sad, but they’re so lovely and satisfying, you don’t care.  Some of them are short.  Some of them are visually stunning.  I could launch into a litany of the many ways Jaime Asaye Fitzgerald charms the sh-t out of me EVERY TIME I go to hear her read, but I won’t list them here because I don’t want to make genius self-conscious.

Let us go and peace to love and serve the Lord.

Amen.

[This constitutes a review of her reading (7/14/10) at The World Stage as featured by the remarkable Anansi Writer’s Workshop in Leimert Park, just east of Downtown.  A nexus of talent, past and future.]