Feliz Navidad

A(n American) Christmas Carol

Merry Christmas from the Family
Robert Earl Keen

Mom got drunk and Dad got drunk
at our Christmas party.
We were drinkin’ champagne punch and homemade eggnog.
Little sister brought her new boyfriend.
He was a Mexican.
We didn’t know what to think of him
until he sang Feliz Navidad.

Brother Ken brought his kids with him-
the three from his first wife Lynn,
and the two identical twins
from his second wife Mary Nell.
Of course he brought his new wife, Kay-
who talks all about AA,
chain smokin’ while the stereo plays
Noel, Noel, the First Noel.

Carve the turkey, turn the ballgame on.
Mix margaritas when the eggnog’s gone.
Send somebody to the Quik Pak store,
we need some icing and extension cords,
a can of bean dip and some Diet Rite,
a box of tampons and some more Burl Ives.
Halleluia everybody say cheese,
Merry Christmas from the Family.

Fran and Rita drove from Harlogen.
I can’t remember how I’m kin to them.
But when they tried to plug their motor home in,
they blew our Christmas lights.
Cousin David knew just what went wrong
so we all waited out on our front lawn.
He threw the breaker and the lights came on
and we sang Silent Night, oh Silent Night.

Carve the turkey, turn the ballgame on
Make bloody marys cause we all want one.
Send somebody to the Stop ‘N Go,
we need some celery and a can of fake snow,
a bag of lemons and some Diet Sprite,
a box of tampons and some Salem Lights.
Halleluia everybody say cheese,
Merry Christmas from the Family.

Feliz Navidad…

I love Robert Earl Keene because he’s a great storyteller and does such a great job of conveying americana. This song always reminds me of Christmas time with my dad and his wife’s family. The image above is from a Christmas about 8 or 9 years ago at their place in Red Lodge Montana and the picture to the left is of my dad’s wife’s grandkids. I used to refer to it as Commie Christmas; all of the boys would get the exact same gifts, which were “boy-like” (read: jackknives, fishing gear, hunting gear etc) and all of the girls would get the exact same gifts, which were “girl-like” (read: perfume, clothing, make-up etc.). This was a total insult to me since as a young child the gifts that I appreciated the most were jackknives (I wittled a lot) and rock hammers (I was an avid rock collector — and insect collector) and both my parents were total supporters of these interests. But it all made for good laughs.

I stopped celebrating “Christmas” years ago and actually hate this time of year more than any other because of the pressure, shopping and giving purchases as a symbol of love, the herd mentality etc. My favorite experiences at this time of year have been spent X-country skiing with family. Though the meditation retreats are a close second.

Skiing with dad, Red Lodge Montana

My brother Stewart, dad, and me, Red Lodge

My brother Stewart and me — I’d just taken a really bad fall and screwed up my knee

Kidd of Speed

It’s 1:30am and I’m unable to sleep, which is a bummer since I have a full day tommemorrow. So I’m visiting some of my favorite sites (and getting very irritated as my mac keeps fucking up with my typing).

One of my favorite Websites is Kiddofspeed – GHOST TOWN – Chernobyl Pictures - Elena’s Motorcyle Ride through Chernobyl. This is how it starts:

“My name is Elena. I run this website and I don’t have anything to sell. What I do have is my motorbike and the absolute freedom to ride it wherever curiosity and the speed demon take me.

This page is maintained by the author, but when internet traffic is heavy it may be down occasionally.

have ridden all my life and over the years I have owned several different motorbikes. I ended my search for a perfect bike with a big kawasaki ninja, that boasts a mature 147 horse power, some serious bark, is fast as a bullet and comfortable for a long trips. here is more about my motorcycle

I travel a lot and one of my favorite destinations leads North from Kiev, towards so called Chernobyl “dead zone”, which is 130kms from my home. Why my favorite? Because one can take long rides there on empty roads.

The people there all left and nature is blooming. There are beautiful woods and lakes.

In places where roads have not been travelled by trucks or army vehicles, they are in the same condition they were 20 years ago – except for an occasional blade of grass that discovered a crack to spring through. Time does not ruin roads, so they may stay this way until they can be opened to normal traffic again…….. a few centuries from now.”

Elena’s travels through the Chernobyl “dead zone” are amazing, hard to believe/digest, and beautiful. She provides a very thorough history of the background, what led up to it,e and the aftermath.

I’m going to have to finish this tommorrow because my mac is beyond fucked up (yes, all you mac lover friends of mine — be expecting a call for tech assistance because this sucks!

But MY Kids Are Just So Advanced …..

Hmmmmm…. when I was a kid all the rage was Bonne Bell Lip Smackers, Sun-In, Hash Jeans, and Sea Monkeys — don’t you wish you (or rather your parents) would’ve invested? And then again, wasn’t it just 5, maybe 6 years ago that pets.com and WebVan.com were THE HOTTEST.

How soon the VCs forget, but then again they didn’t pay that $50,000 /year tuition for pre-school for nothing.

From The New York Times:

Published: December 17, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 16 – Wanted: investment adviser, the younger the better.

In a nod to the wisdom of youth, many wealthy, highly connected and well-educated technology investors are taking counsel and investment tips from their children, summer interns and twentysomething receptionists.

These venture capital investors say there is good reason to ask young people to help them assess new technology: as the investors themselves are aging, the technology – including social networking Web sites and mobile gadgets – is designed for, used by and sometimes built by people half their age.

“Children are a secret weapon in my arsenal for making investment decisions,” said Heidi Roizen, a managing director at Mobius Venture Capital, a Silicon Valley firm.

Last year, Ms. Roizen asked her daughters, Niki and Marleyna Mohler, ages 13 and 11, to check out a handheld video player she was thinking about backing. The daughters quickly tired of the gadget, so Ms. Roizen did not invest.

And this year, Ms. Roizen bought Niki a subscription to World of Warcraft, the popular online role-playing game. The idea was to get her daughter familiar with the genre so she could offer advice about an investment Ms. Roizen had made in another game company.

“I was a guinea pig, a lab rat,” Niki said of the experience, in a tone that suggested she was also experimenting with sarcasm.

While the idea of testing products on consumers is hardly new, its emergence in the world of venture capitalists is something of a sea change. After all, this is an industry of independent-minded investors who have historically made decisions by trusting their knowledge of engineering, strict analytics and their own gut instincts — along with a bit of the herd mentality.

Unlike the formal consumer tests and focus groups at large companies like Procter & Gamble, these inquiries are taking place closer to home, with friends and family. But their impact can be broad, because venture capitalists not only help steer the development of new ideas but also invest billions of dollars in those ideas on behalf of investment groups and wealthy individuals.

To some, the approach looks like a product of the desperation felt by investors trying to identify the next YouTube or iPod.

“There is something comical, and maybe silly, about relying on kids,” said Paul Romer, a professor of economics at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. “It seems risky.”

But Mr. Romer noted that it was getting tougher to pick the winners among start-ups. Young people, Mr. Romer said, may be better equipped than investors, who tend to be in their 30s or older, to see nuances and identify trends.

“The people making the decisions may not appreciate some of the small differences that might be apparent to end users,” he said.

Those end users include Mariana and Tatiana Megevand, who live in Geneva. Last year, Neil Rimer, their uncle, heard the girls, 14 and 12, talking about one of their favorite Web sites, Stardoll.com.

The site lets visitors create and dress up virtual paper dolls. Mr. Rimer is not just an uncle but also a venture capitalist, a partner with Index Ventures, based in Geneva. He decided that his nieces’ interest constituted one of the better tips he had heard in a while.

“The next Monday I went in and talked about it with my partners,” he said, “and that week we were on the phone to the company.”

Index and other firms, including the venerable Sequoia Capital, have invested more than $10 million in Stardoll this year, and the company has moved to Geneva from Finland. Mr. Rimer says he still talks to the girls about what they like and what they would improve. He has given them some incentive, too: a small stake in Stardoll that could be valuable if the company prospers.

Other firms have started surveying groups of children. IDG Ventures, a Boston firm, recently asked one of its associates to visit its partners’ homes and ask their children to assess a new social networking site.

The trend may indicate the rise of something new in the venture capital industry itself: humility. A notoriously self-assured bunch, these investors are admitting that some innovations may be lost on their g-g-generation.

“The funniest thing is when we sit around and say, ‘I’m not sure because I would never use this,’ ” said Jeff Fagnan, 36, a general partner with Atlas Ventures.

The investors said consulting with younger people would have been unheard of in the dot-com boom of the 1990s. Then, investors were immersed in the very technology they were financing, ordering books on Amazon, downloading music from Napster and buying and selling on eBay. But now, in the so-called Web 2.0 era, venture capitalists’ personal interests have strayed from the sweet spot of innovation: Web sites like MySpace intended to connect people, free Internet calling tools like Skype or software for mobile phones.

And people now in junior high and high school have spent their lives with technology. “This is the first generation for whom the computer is a native language,” said Jim Gauer, managing director of Palomar Ventures, a Los Angeles firm. “We’re all going to have to get re-educated and learn that language.’

Or they can do what Palomar and others have: hire a native speaker. Last summer, the firm had an intern, Adam Gottesfeld, 21, who was heading into his senior year as an international studies major at Princeton. Mr. Gottesfeld so impressed the firm with his technological knowledge that it has offered him a job as an associate when he graduates.

After Niki, Ms. Roizen’s daughter, became proficient at World of Warcraft, her mother took her to visit Perpetual Entertainment, a game company in San Francisco she had invested in. Niki had some criticisms of the company’s game, a role-playing epic called Gods and Heroes, telling its developers that it seemed unpolished and choppy. The game makers, taking advice from Niki and others, improved the product by the time she visited again.

“When she picked me up, she said, ‘Did you like it? Was it more fun?’ And I said yes, the whole car ride home,” Niki said.

Niki is not only teaching, it seems, but also learning about business. A couple of years ago, Ms. Roizen said, her daughter was looking at Neopets.com, a Web site where people play with virtual pets.

“She said, ‘I don’t get their business model,’ ” Ms. Roizen recalled. “She was 11.”

This That

It’s one of those grey, dreary days where you just want to stay inside all day and drink tea, which is what I’m doing — that and working on proposals, and now taking a break to download some of my brain to a blog. Many different snippets …

I had a very lovely sushi dinner with my friends Maw and Lise last night. Both showered gifts on me — late birthday presents (a fabulous orange and green poncho, seen here, — very Irish! a beenie hat, and a book on patterns in nature) from Maw and some great additions of owls and mushrooms from Lise’s mother’s collection to add to my collection (my mother’s collection)!

Lise recently found out that the film she co-produced with Lynn Hershman Leeson will be screening at Sundance in 2007! Very exciting. But more exciting to me is that Lise’s current project is a short that she’s writing specifically around, inspired by my Forever Summer installation and will be filmed onsite. Lise has shared the general storyline with me and I am thrilled! I couldn’t sleep one night last week because I kept thinking through who would be the best actress to play the role — two came to mind — Gena Rowlands and Ellen Burstyn!!

Maw is busy getting ready to go to Sweden and Amsterdam. She also recently sent me one of her new poems The Contract, a strong, yet subtle reminder of the unwritten “rules” within institutional settings.

I’m getting ready to attend my 4th Vipassana meditation retreat. The last one I did was in Jaipur India (pictured) in December 2004. The meditation center was stunning! Up in the mountains and filled with peacocks. I never knew that peacocks could fly! — they make so much noise when they do; and I never knew that their call sounds like a cat meowing!! Anyway, we (my friend Sarita and I) had to leave the course after 3 days because the center’s administrators had scheduled for the meditation hall to be sanded and painted during our course! It was nuts. I’m very much looking forward to this one in Joshua Tree, where I’ve completed the other three (the new poncho will be perfect for sitting and meditating for 11 hours a day). For those interested in learning more about the practice of Vipassana, check out this website.

There’s also a good movie called Doing Time, Doing Vipassana directed by Eilona Ariel and Ayelet Menahemi that I recommend. It’s what got me interested in the practice in the first place.

From the Dhamma Website:
“In the mid-1970s Vipassana was first tried within a prison environment with two 10 day courses being conducted for jail officials and inmates of a prison in Jaipur in the Indian state of Rajasthan. Despite the success of those courses, no further jail courses were conducted in India for almost 20 years. In 1993 a new Inspector General of Indian prisons, Kiran Bedi, was appointed and in the process of trying to reform the harsh Indian penal system, learned of the earlier Vipassana courses. She requested that additional courses be conducted in the largest prison in India, Tihar Jail outside of New Delhi. The results were dramatically sucessful. Based upon the success of these courses, another course was conducted in April 1994 by Goenkaji and a number of his assistant teachers for over one thousand inmates of Tihar prison with wonderful benefit for all of those who participated.

During the following winter of 1994-95, the Israeli filmmakers traveled to both Tihar and to the Baroda Jail in the India state of Gujarat, at which Vipassana courses had also been conducted. There they conducted and filmed extensive interviews with jail officials, including Karen Bedei, and inmates from many different countries who participated in the courses. The result of these efforts was an extremely powerful 52-minute documentary film entitled Doing Time, Doing Vipassana. The film describes the way in which Vipassana has been sucessfully used within the Indian prison system to dramatically change the behaviour and attitude of the inmates and jailers who participated in the courses and, thereby, improve the entire atmosphere of the prisons.”

I can see how Vipassana would make a profound difference for prisoners. I remember visiting Alcatraz not too long ago and seeing the cells used for solitary confinement and reading that prisoners would be held for up to 30 days. My first thought was, “what a great opportunity for meditation!”

While down south, I’m also going to get to see my uncle Sande (dad’s bro) and aunt Gail and cousins, Jeff and Mark. I haven’t seen Sande and Gail since I visited them in 1994 in Vienna and I haven’t seen my cousins since a family get-together in 1982!!!

Yes, my cousin Jeff also has red hair — we’re the only two in the family. I think we might also be the most fringe. I’m curious if Jeff still has a British accent. I can remember after they had moved to London and lived for four years, Jeff came back with a full on Brit accent. I was always so jealous that their family lived all over the world (Okinawa, Bangkok, Panama, London, Cyprus, Vienna, and I can’t remember the others) — though I’m sure this influenced my passion for traveling since my early twenties.

Macrame Madness

Been very busy working on the installation. Lots of Macrame Madness!!!

Carpet Installation and Ceiling Installation Madness!!

Same Sex Couple Baby For Whitehouse!!!!!

Published: December 7, 2006

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6 – Mary Cheney, a daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney, is expecting a baby with her partner of 15 years, Heather Poe, Mr. Cheney’s office said Wednesday.

Lea Anne McBride, a spokeswoman for Mr. Cheney, said the vice president and his wife, Lynne Cheney, were “looking forward with eager anticipation’ to the baby’s birth, which is expected this spring and will bring to six the number of grandchildren the Cheneys have.

Mr. Cheney’s office would not provide details about how Mary Cheney became pregnant or by whom, and Ms. Cheney did not respond to messages left at her office and with her book publisher, Simon & Schuster.

The announcement of the pregnancy, which was first reported Wednesday by The Washington Post, and Ms. Cheney’s future status as a same-sex parent, prompted new debate over the administration’s opposition to gay marriage.

Family Pride, a gay rights group, noted that Ms. Cheney’s home state, Virginia, does not recognize same-sex civil unions or marriages.

“The news of Mary Cheney’s pregnancy exemplifies, once again, how the best interests of children are denied when lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens are treated unfairly and accorded different and unequal rights and responsibilities than other parents,” said the group’s executive director, Jennifer Chrisler.

Focus on the Family, a Christian group that has provided crucial political support to President Bush, released a statement that criticized child rearing by same-sex couples.

“Mary Cheney’s pregnancy raises the question of what’s best for children,” said Carrie Gordon Earll, the group’s director of issues analysis. “Just because it’s possible to conceive a child outside of the relationship of a married mother and father doesn’t mean it’s the best for the child.”

In 2004, Ms. Cheney worked on the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign, which won in part because of the so-called values voters who were drawn to the polls by ballot measures seeking to ban same-sex marriage.

Mr. Bush voiced strong approval that year for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, as he did this year, too. While gay rights groups called on Ms. Cheney to speak out against the proposed ban in 2004, she remained silent.

But Ms. Cheney wrote in a book published this year that she had considered resigning from the campaign after learning that Mr. Bush would endorse the proposed amendment. She said that she decided to stay because other important issues were at stake in the 2004 campaign.

As she promoted her book last spring, she said a federal ban on same-sex marriage would “write discrimination into the Constitution.” The vice president has hinted at disapproval of the proposed amendment. Asked where he stood on the issue during a campaign stop in Iowa in 2004, Mr. Cheney said, “Freedom means freedom for everyone.”

Dana Perino, a spokeswoman for Mr. Bush, said that Mr. Cheney had recently told the president about the pregnancy and that “the president said he was happy for him.” The Cheneys have five grandchildren by their other daughter, Elizabeth.

Mary Cheney, 37, is a vice president at AOL; Ms. Poe, a former park ranger, is 45.

New Jogja Gallery

Yogyakarta has a new gallery!!

Jogja Gallery was launch on September 19th, 2006 and declared by Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwono X. Located at 0 (zero) kilometer in heritage area, the center of Yogyakarta city. Jogja Gallery built upon the former Soboharsono Theater – a theater building that was constructed in the year 1929 and since the 1980s it was no longer used. This place is strategic because it is part of the Yogyakarta Sultanate Palace and near a number of landmarks and cultural activities which have been the traditional icons of Yogyakarta, i.e. Malioboro street, the Central Post Office, Alun-alun Utara with it’s Ringin Kurung (the city town square with a pair of banyan trees in its center), the center of “Gudeg” (a traditional food of Yogyakarta) in along Wijilan street, and the Sonobudoyo Museum. Jogja Gallery situates itself as an institution which will accommodate and manage the contemporary art potential in Yogyakarta which in fact is very active, dynamic and is carried out by many artists from different kinds of backgrounds. Jogja Gallery first exhibition is “ICON: Retrospective” and “Pallingjang (Saltwater)”. Next exhibition will be held on December 2nd, 2006 which are “Young Arrows: 40 outstanding young Indonesian artists” and “Rhythm and Passion” by 8 artists.

Gallery opens > Tuesday – Sunday, 09.00 am – 09.00 pm
Administration opens > Monday – Saturday, 08.00 am – 04.00 pm
Banaran café and restaurant opens > Every day, 10.00 am – 11.00 pm

Jogja Gallery
Jalan Pekapalan No 7, Alun-alun Utara Yogyakarta
Tel +62 274 419999
Fax +62 274 412023
Email jogjagallery@yahoo.co.id
skype jogjagallery

Update on AkuOke! Project in Yogyakarta

From Aisyah Hilal at the Cemeti Foundation:

In October 2006, AkuOke! organized two time meetings in each village: Sampangan Kidul and Tegal. In general, the chosen activities were those that had not taken too much energy, considering the Ramadhan/fasting month. In Sampangan Kidul we held the percussion exploration activities, traditional children games, as well as making the Idul Fitri/lebaran greeting cards. In Tegal, we held session of hands-on practice of tie-dye batik and explorative usage of clay. Despite held in fasting month, the children’s interest of participating in AkuOke! were still high.

As informed in our previous email, AkuOke! will be finished by the second week of November. On the 4th and 5th of November, AkuOke! runs one night camping program in Dusun Tegal, together with the good bye moment to the children, parents, local people and authorities. On the 6th of November AkuOke! screens the video documentation of four month AkuOke! activities in Dusun Sampangan Kidul.

Some of you have already received the video of “5,9 SR Video Project”, but some of them have not, since we are still waiting for the video copies from the video project makers. Soon after available, we will send them out to you.

Last but not least, Cemeti Art Foundation would like to thank to friends and colleagues who believe Cemeti Art Foundation to pass on their support to the needed parties.

Best and strong regards,

Aisyah Hilal
Cemeti Art Foundation

MachiNations 2

That last entry got so long that I decided to continue my musings on November’s issue of Harper’s to another log.

The second piece I read was “THE KIDS ARE FAR RIGHT Hippie hunting, bunny bashing, and the new conservatism” by Wells Tower. The report from the 28th annual National Conservative Student Conference in Washington D.C. was disturbing, but not surprising. I think having grown up in Montana and attended two years as an undergraduate at Montana State University in Bozeman, I was exposed to lots of small town kids with similar viewpoints that I knew were, for the most part, coming from generations of ignorance and brainwashing. What is always jarring to me though, is how much anger these kids have towards people who are “progressive,” “liberal,” “left,” etc. (which leads to the adult version in the likes of Ann Coulter, Bill O’Reilly, John Stossel etc.). So here’s a partial summary of Tower’s article and some of the points that stuck with me.

The conference took place over a week at the end of July. Attendees included students from more than 180 colleges and thirty-nine states as guest of Young America’s Foundation, a conservative campus group that sponsored the event. Presenters included Bay Buchanan (Pat’s sister), David Horowitz (author of The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America), Fox News contributors John Stossel and Michelle Malkin, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, Alexander Haig, Sam Brownback, David Brooks and Robert Novak. Students were required at the opening ceremony of the conference provide a brief statement as to why they were attending. Their explanations included: “I needed to come to a place where people love America and understand why.” “I’m here because I want to make liberals cry and subvert the socialist agenda.” “I’m here because I’m a Christian.” “Liberals on my campus make me sick, and I want to figure out how to combat them better.” “I came to D.C. because I might get the chance to slap the jaw of Ted Kennedy.” “I’m here because I thought this conference had the potential to turn into a weeklong fear-and-loathing-in-Las-Vegas-style adventure but with conservatism instead of drugs.” “I’m here to see a girl I met on MySpace.” “I want to teach freshmen how to defend themselves against dirty hippies.” “I’m here because I’ve seen the liberals destroy Chicago.” “I’m sick of dating liberal guys.” “I’m here for How to Bash Liberals 101.”

Tower goes on to describe the lack of youth identifying themselves as”Republican.”
“The more than 400 attendees is a record for the conference, and although this is good news for the conservative movement, it is also an oblique sort of nose-thumbing at the Republican Party … Proud self-declared Republicans, in fact, are curiously hard to come by among the students, nearly all of whom identify themselves as libertarians or simply as “conservatives,” and who will later describe our president to me in the following terms: “embarrassing,” “stupid,” “arrogant,” “a halfway conservative,” “a puppet of lobbyists and special interests,” and “a liberal basically.”

Reading this I’m aghast at how easily these kids have been spoonfed by the media, specifically the likes of Fox News. It’s great to hear these words finally forming from the mouths of babes who just two years ago were gaga over Bush; however, it may as well be babble given the absence of critical thinking behind such sound bites.

Tower’s mingling amongst the students seems to support this observation:
“What lies at the heart of the poverty problem, student Bennett Rawicki muses, is that America’s poorest families have turned pathological; they’re ‘crippled,’ as he puts it. Taking a box cutter to the public safety net, and driving the poor into a modern-day state of nature, he says, might be just the thing to teach them a few important lessons in family values. ‘Think of the hunter-gatherers. It wasn’t just one person out there doing it on his own. You had people working together.’”

“The girl ahead of us in the buffet line turns to join our conversation. Like Rawicki, she, too, is an admirer of Dr. Williams (Dr. Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University, and an occasional stand-in for Rush Limbaugh. Williams was one of the featured speakers at the conference. African American, Williams refers to the NAACP as the “Klan with a Tan.”). ‘He’s amazing, a genius, I love him — I’m very libertarianesque.’ She introduces herself as Samantha Soller of Bucknell University. … In her facebook bio, Samantha Soller listed among her hobbies “political science, philosophy, and hippie-hunting, enjoys foreclosing on poor people’s cardboard boxes, eathing red meat, using her Sigarms P232 Stainless to shoot cute little bunny rabbits.” Tower’s asks her about the gun. “‘It’s a semiautomatic handgun. I don’t have one, but I would love to own one soon. It’s really cute. It’s silver. It fits in your handbag.’ … We close in on the catering trays, which today are full of steak and chicken fajita meat. The sight douses the cheer that mention of the Sigarms P232 had stirred in Soller’s hale, brown cheeks. ‘What is this?’ she says, surveying the buffet. ‘I don’t eat anything that’s not American.’”