Sunday, August 29, 2010

in a blade of grass

Once when mowing I had a sudden image of a first-grade classmate, Drucilla, someone I did not know especially well and had not thought of, ever, for more than 55 years. For reasons I cannot explain, it was accompanied by sadness. Another time I was struck by a fully-formed interpretation of a movie my wife and I had watched two nights previously. It did not take shape; it came to me fully shaped. Yet another time I had an abrupt, powerfully moving image of my grandmother making ravioli, speaking in soft Italian, with 10-year-old me standing beside her on a step stool, watching her crack eggs into a crater centered in a pile of flour. Yet another time Frank Sinatra singing “Witchcraft” sprang to mind. I heard it; my body fell into the rhythm of it. Where does this all come from, and why? ... All I know is that a gated mental enclave briefly opened for a showing, that something, some connection, was occurring among my brain’s 100 billion neurons, each, like grass, part of a dense root structure, each entangled with the tendrils of other neurons.

It spooks me that the syntax of our minds is so complex, so capable of recursivity. It spooks me that the texture of our mental experience is so embodied, that our bodies and minds greet each other in mutual recognition and do not, as Descartes would have it, pass each other with an indifferent look. It didn’t spook Emerson, though; he knew that “under every deep, another deep opens.” All I know is that, sometimes, while cutting grass, what Seamus Heaney calls “the music of what happens” happens. I am in time, on the beat. My “I” meets my “me.” We have a beer afterward. Maybe two.

Jerry DeNuccio in The Metaphysics of Cutting Grass, The Smart Set

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

cold solace

the last of the norton trees

When my mother died
one of her honey cakes remained in the freezer.
I couldn't bear to see it vanish,
so it waited, pardoned,
in its ice cave behind the metal trays
for two more years.

On my forty-first birthday
I chipped it out,
a rectangular resurrection,
hefted the dead weight in my palm.

Before it thawed,
I sawed, with serrated knife,
the thinnest of slices --
Jewish Eucharist.

The amber squares
with their translucent panes of walnuts
tasted -- even after I toasted them -- of freezer,
of frost,
a raisined delicacy delivered up
from a deli in the underworld.

I yearned to recall life, not death --
the still body in her pink nightgown on her bed,
how I lay in the shallow cradle of the scattered sheets
after they took it away,
inhaling her scent one last time.

I close my eyes, savor a wafer of
sacred cake on my tongue and
try to taste my mother, to discern
the message she baked in these loaves
when she was too ill to eat them:

I love you.
It will end.
Leave something of sweetness
and substance
in the mouth of the world.

Anna Belle Kaufman in the September issue of The Sun

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Originally uploaded by suttonhoo
Posting by caneraphone
on the descent.

Boulder, CO

Friday, August 20, 2010


Originally uploaded by suttonhoo
Took the nickel tour at NCAR this afternoon.
Hope to return soon with the big guns to shoot
more of the building and the site.

Cameraphone shot
Boulder, CO

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


David Pearson
Great Ideas Vol. 1, Penguin Books

I really struggle with the idea that book covers should have a distinct voice. In many ways I think a book cover should do no more than titillate, leaving the blurb — and reader — to do the rest. I don’t think it should be down to me to reveal what the chief protagonist looks like, nor to imbue a piece of photography with a meaning for which it was never intended. Typographic or pattern-led covers challenge the reader to project meaning onto them, which feels entirely more sympathetic and — luckily for me — the French publishing industry seems to embrace quietly suggestive cover designs.

Text Designer David Pearson, interviewed by Peter Terzian in Print: Design for Curious Minds

It's not clear to me how I missed Penguin's reissue of the Great Ideas series, in four volumes no less with a fifth imminent, designed exquisitely by David Pearson. My only excuse is that, perhaps, the releases with their extraordinary book design didn't make it to the US, and we all know I've had my own difficulties leaving these shores of late.

Although I fear the reason may be that I don't spend enough time in bookstores anymore, browsing the tables with the latest releases; that I rely too much on the Internet for information and insights; that I buy too frequently from Amazon; that I've neglected my first, my truest, my dearest friends: books.

How curious that I would discover what I've missed through a random Flickr photostream encounter.

Whatever the reason, Mr. Pearson's work is exquisite and makes me want to toss off my responsibilities and spend a good solid series of weeks catching up with the great ideas books, and then weeks more discovering new books that his covers tease out for me.


Great Ideas Vol. 1 »
Great Ideas Vol. 2 »
Great Ideas Vol. 3 »

Internally, illustrative endpapers and a decorative title page are joined by a rather unusual text setting method rarely seen in the last hundred years. Each right-hand page sports what is known as a catchword: a hanging word that provides the opening of the following page. We believe that this aids the flow of reading, especially when using a larger, heavy page with a slow turning rate.

From the same interview cited above.

Monday, August 16, 2010

the quetzalcoatl of bicycles

This bike has feathers.
Spotted in Boulder, CO

getting the job done


Sunday, August 15, 2010

moore curve

The sculpture of Henry Moore makes perfect sense, but I’m at a loss to explain why. I knew his work first as a kid through his Vertebrae on 4th Avenue in Seattle, but I didn’t know the piece was by anyone I should know anything about. I only knew that there was something solid and satisfying about it; that it transformed the sharp unreceptive lines of the plaza in which it sits into a place where I wanted to be.

When I mentioned to my brother that I was going to catch the Moore exhibit at the Denver Botanic Gardens he shared a clip that his company recently digitized for the BBC, a wonderful program called Face to Face in which Moore speaks of his influences and his process, which led me to dig through the rest of the BBC archival programming on Moore trying to find a word or phrase that could articulate what it is that he does.

I found nothing that summed it all up. But I did learn that Moore was influenced by Mexican sculpture, which I took to mean Aztec and Toltec given other references to the reclining Chaac Mool. That too made sense even though I didn’t anticipate it: like introducing two friends and discovering they already know each other, already adore one another, for all the reasons you thought they might.

chac mool under wraps

Mexican sculpture seems to me to be true and right. Its ‘stoniness’, by which I mean its truth to material, its tremendous power without loss of seriousness, its astonishing variety and fertility of form invention and its approach to a full three-dimensional conception of form, make it unsurpassed in my opinion by any other period of stone sculpture.

Henry Moore cited in The Aztec World by Elizabeth Hill Boone, Smithsonian Books, Washington, 1994

taking obvious photographs of beautiful things

Because sometimes that's what's called for.
Taking in the Henry Moore exhibit at the
Denver Botanical Gardens.

Posting by cameraphone.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


What people find interesting is that we are not well polished. Our society is more informal and therefore offers a richer opportunity for bright persons of all ages to come up with really rude things—–of which there are many.

Architect Tarald Lundeval speaking of Oslo in the September issue of Dwell.

For those of you with a vested interest in these things the Grünerløkka district of Oslo is described as offering "the rarest of distillates: hipness without attitude."

See a Flickr slideshow of the new Oslo Opera House -- it's stunning »

Monday, August 09, 2010

late night, lamp light

late night, lamp light
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo
Abandoned storefront along Pearl Street:
someone left the light on.

Posting by cameraphone from Boulder, CO.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

big basin redwoods state park

Hiked one of the oldest stands of redwoods
in the Bay Area this morning, and the oldest
state park in California, where the trees are
as tall as the Empire State Building, but the
place smells way better than 5th Avenue.

Posting by cameraphone from right around
Cupertino, CA.
Related Posts with Thumbnails