October 2015

Looking at other people looking at themselves


Or, in other words, putting this entire #selfie thing into an historical context that suddenly pushes the whole genre away from a general societal egotistical psychosis and towards a central part of the way human beings make sense of themselves and the world around them.

A Kaia Miller self portrai, as seen in a video as part of the show "ME" at Ricco Maresca gallery in NYC.

A Kaia Miller self portrai, as seen in a video as part of the show “ME” at ricco Maresca in NYC.

My friend Emily told me that her 12 year old daughter Kaia was going to be featured n a photography exhibit at Rico Maresca gallery in Chelsea. I looked at her Instagram (@growingrainbows) and was intrigued, but I have been growing increasingly skeptical of the constant flow of selfies and the apparent myopic obsession with ourselves that they seem to represent, so, to be honest, I was also a bit worried about what kind of person Kaia was growing into.

But I love Emily and I dutifully went to check out her kid’s work, just like I’d like my friends to look at my kid’s stuff if and when the time ever comes. And as I read the press release and looked around at the other work in the show, I was suddenly able to see that some of today’s selfies really are a part of an evolving body of work that is well worth checking out, sitting with, and mulling over.

Kaia Miller’s work is presented as a video, played on an iPad, in which the artist talks about the motivations behind each of her photographs. The images are for sale, but the only way to view them is via this video. And I found myself glued to the screen, curious about how she manipulated some of the images, impressed by her thoughtfulness, and captivated by the parallel universe digital fairy world she has created. I might not want to live there, but it’d be a nice place for an expedition-style vacation.

The show also includes Photomatic images from the 1940′s, and other surreal self portraits from artists like André Kertész and Berenice Abbott. Some images are familiar, while some I’ve never seen before. But they are all evidence of people grappling with self and self image and their place in the world.

self prtrait with gorilla mask soji Ueda

Self portrait with gorilla mask (1975) has always been one of my favorite images by Shoji Ueda.

It’s a show well worth seeing… but tomorrow is the last day, so hop to it. If you miss seeing the images live, there is always the gallery website, and a lovely piece by Adam Gopnik in the New Yorker that you can peruse at your leisure.

Photographic Self Portraits
Through October 31 2015
Ricco Maresca Gallery
529 W 20th Street, third floor

Yeasterday, at some point…

jack o lantern

This year’s model. Kid designed and husband carved.

And now, on to the costume…

Yesterday, at some point is a series of photographs that describe a moment I experienced during the previous day. The posts are meant to be stand alone images, though at times I can’t control myself, and I end up expanding the caption into a more lengthy bit of text. Hopefully the extra information is useful, or at least interesting. If not, feel free to ignore it.

Monday, Monday– or more links about podcasts

Ok so this is not the Long Island Expressway mentioned below, but it is a road that I have driven on during the past year. In Hawaii. I wish I were there now, to be honest. Podcast or no podcast.

Ok so this is not the Long Island Expressway mentioned below, but it is a road that I have driven on during the past year. In Hawaii. I wish I were there now, to be honest. Podcast or no podcast.

I have discovered, after many many hours of experience, that nothing turns a potentially endless drive down the LIE into a captivating and sometimes enlightening adventure faster than a good story.

Like the Radiolab podcast about real life Dr Doolittles who are actually figuring out how to talk to the animals.

Or the second episode of The Mystery Show in which Andrea, a writer who nobody has ever heard of, discovers she may have one very high profile fan.

And then perhaps it is fitting to use technology to listen to Sherry Turkle talk (on Note To Self) about the psychology of our relationships with… well… technology. Because I would like to know if, when we get married, we are also marrying our intended’s smartphones.

Terry Gross interviews Gloria Steinem. Need I say more?

Sometimes it’s just cool to learn abut a phenomenal person who you may have known very little about before. Like this State of the Re:Union episode about Bayard Rustin, the black, gay, Quaker pacifist who schooled Martin Luther King in the ways of non-violence and was the unofficial architect of the March On Washington.

Halloween is coming (are your costumes ready?) so perhaps some real life scary stories are just the thing right about now.

And then no list of podcasts is complete without the gold standard, the shining crown jewel of them all: Serial. Which most people have already listened to, but I have only just discovered. I am on Episode 2 and I am tempted to just blow everything else off (including making my kid’s Halloween costume) to just listen to the entire season at once.

Apple curry coconut soup

Apple coconut curry shiitake soup.

A cure for what ails you… Apple coconut curry shiitake soup. Delicious.

In the interest of winning the epic life long battle against the dreaded cold and flu season, and because we are going apple picking tomorrow and are going to need all sorts of things to do with the bushel of apples we are sure to bring home, I present to you this incredibly delicious, warming, wholesome, flavorful (nay, spicy if truth be told) and healing apple coconut curry soup.

It started with an e mail from John Gallagher (of Learning Herbs fame) with the subject line: “Is an apple a healing herb?” Naturally I had to find out, so I opened the message and discovered this recipe from Learning Herbs contributor Rosalie de la Foret. Before laying down the cooking directions, she shares a bit about the healing properties of each ingredient (Apples are loaded with antioxidants, garlic boosts the immune system and shiitake mushrooms have been shown to support cardiovascular health) just in case we need any more motivation.

And then we are off to the races. You can get all sorts of details about the nutrition, plus the recipe in it’s original form, on LearningHerbs.com.
But I’ve laid it all out here just to make it easier.

I’ve been eating this soup all week and man has it hit the spot!

Coconut Apple Curry Soup


3 tablespoons butter
1 onion, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
2 small apples, cubed into small pieces (I like the more tart apples like McIntosh)
2 medium potatoes, cubed into small pieces (I like Yellow Finn potatoes)
1 quart vegetable or chicken broth
1 cup coconut milk
Salt to taste (I added about 2 teaspoons)
2 handfuls fresh shiitakes, cut into quarters (If using dry shiitakes, rehydrate the mushrooms in hot water and then cut to size)
Parsley for garnish (optional)

Begin by melting the butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Add the minced onion and sauté until translucent. Add the fresh ginger, curry powder, and freshly ground pepper. Stir for one minute or until the spices are fragrant.

Bring it to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Add salt to taste. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Using an immersion blender or a regular blender, purée the soup until smooth. Return the soup to the pan and add the shiitakes.

Simmer for 10 minutes or until shiitakes are cooked. Stir frequently. Add salt and pepper as desired. Optional parsley for garnish. Makes four large servings

Yes, dear, video games can be beautiful

monument valley

Monument Valley, brought to us mortals by ustwo.

In my (overly simplistic) world view, there are basically two kinds of video games. The good ones of my youth (space invaders and pong) and the horrible ones of today (like soldier of fortune and those overly saccharine ones where you give a beauty makeover to a cat.)

And yet to be honest, I must admit that the above statement isn’t true. I’ve even written about some compelling video games and apps on this very blog. And as my daughter gets older, I find myself looking for more of these types of digital experiences. Because like I have always said… Video games are not the enemy. Bad video games are the enemy.

Enter Monument Valley.

It’s simple, but not stupid. It features a princess who is an intrepid explorer and has some complicated back story that we haven’t figured out yet because we have yet to travel far enough into the game. I say we, because this game is kind of like falling backwards into an Escher drawing that moves in ways that are so complex it often requires my daughter and I working together to figure out how to get our valiant heroine to the next level.

But isn’t that the perfect thing? A video game that brings us together, stretches our minds, and pleases our eyes whilst refraining from pounding our brains into mush with horrible music, bad graphics and loud noises? A tool for enlarging our imaginations rather than numbing our senses? A digital universe even my vinyl listening, rotary phone dialing, Waldorf-adjacent self can get behind?

Yes. Yes it is. And here’s the trailer for you to check out, so you know what I mean.

And suddenly, it’s cold and flu season again…

elderberry syrup ingredients

The makings of my family’s first line of defense against colds and flu.

It. Has. Begun.

On Thursday, we were all walking around in t-shirts. By Friday, my daughter was home sick with a runny nose and a low grade fever. The vast majority of my plans flew out the window, and I spent the day watching movies, drinking tea, reading and making this seasons’ batch of Elderberry syrup.

Elderberry is my favorite first line of defense against colds and flu… We drink the dark, flavorful elderberry tea almost every day during the fall and winter as a preventative measure. However, when the symptoms actually hit, I find the syrup to be even more effective. (The University of Maryland Medical Center has some good literature about Elderberry and how it works, if you want to go deep.)

This season, I found a recipe (from Wellness Mama) that includes ginger, cinnamon and cloves, three herbs which add a pleasing sweetness and complexity to the syrup, as well as their own immune boosting and antibiotic properties.

Here’s the recipe in all of its glory:

Black Elderberry Syrup, from Wellness Mama


⅔ cup black elderberries
3½ cups of water
2 Tablespoons fresh or dried ginger root
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
½ teaspoon cloves or clove powder
1 cup raw honey (we get from our farmer’s market)


Pour water into medium saucepan and add elderberries, ginger, cinnamon and cloves (do not add honey!)

Bring to a boil and then cover and reduce to a simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour until the liquid has reduced by almost half. At that point, remove from heat and let cool enough to be handled. Pour through a strainer into a glass jar or bowl.

Discard the elderberries (or compost them!) and let the liquid cool to lukewarm. When it is no longer hot, add 1 cup of honey and stir well.

When honey is well mixed into the elderberry mixture, pour the syrup into a pint sized mason jar or 16 ounce glass bottle of some kind.

elderberry syrup

Here’s our fresh supply, ready to do battle against the evil viruses that plague us all this time of year…

Standard dose is ½ tsp to 1 tsp for kids and ½ Tbsp to 1 Tbsp for adults. If the flu does strike, take the normal dose every 2-3 hours instead of once a day until symptoms disappear.

5 movies I’d like to show at our school’s movie night next month

Once a year, my daughter’s elementary school hosts a movie night. Kids come, all excited, some in PJ’s with sleeping bags, to eat pizza and popcorn and watch a movie. Their parents drink wine, eat cheese and hang out in the back. All in all a great night for the entire family. So far, we’ve seen Ponyo and The Lego Movie (not bad, right?) and now it’s time to choose the film for this year’s shindig.

Here’s what I might screen, were I the person in charge (which thankfully I am not):

The secret World of Arrietty is a modern Japanese anime take on the beloved novel The Borrowers by Mary Norton. The main character is an adventurous girl, which is always a good thing, and the action takes place in a tiny imaginary world inside of our normal one that, to this day, makes me wonder whenever a thimble goes missing.

The Iron Giant is one of my all time favorite movies. It is an old-school feeling cartoon that rails against the military industrial complex while celebrating the individualism and compassion that makes this world of ours truly great. Plus it stars a giant robot that you can ride on. What’s not to love?

And while we’re on the topic of cultural criticism, Wall-E, an action packed love story of two robots who manage to help bring humanity back to the human race after a seven century hiatus from Earth, might be one of the most profound films your kid will see… at least while they’re still little.

Song of the Sea tells the otherworldly story of a mother and daughter who live between our world and the mystical world of the Selkies– mythological creatures who live primarily in the sea. It is kind of like entering the most beautiful lava lamp/Escher drawing combination imaginable… you may never want to leave their world once you’ve experienced it…

In the spirit of The Lego Movie, Big Hero 6 is one of those films that looks like it’s going to be one of those lame one-dimensional kid action animated films but is actually thoughtful, intelligent and grapples with complex issues (grief, healing as more powerful than hurting, loyalty) with finesse. Actually, Common Sense Media says this is for ages 7+, and they may be right, but I couldn’t help putting this on the list. I mean, these kids are New Yorkers. They can handle it.

Tis the season

middle olors humidifier

Takashi Hiroshi Tsubori’s Middle Colors humidifier. In WOOD! How cool is that? (photo courtesy Amazon.com)

Ok lets be honest. When was the last time you looked at a picture of a humidifier while shopping online and involuntarily said “Oooooooooh” loud enough to be heard in the next room? Because that just happened to me a few minutes ago. Currently, I am excitedly remembering that we are actually in need of such a device and as soon as I’m done with this post, I plan to buy one.

I mean, a wooden humidifier is unusual and organic and cool and practical all in one little package. Plus, it comes from Japan. Just what this family needs to cheer us up when our noses begin to get all stuffy and our throats sore. (Which is right around the corner, oh those of you with children in school…)

In fact, we should all order this model and then we can collectively be the envy of our friends.

Monday, Monday– or more links about hayfever, organic farming, Gwyneth Paltrow…


Bloom County is back, after 25 years in deep storage. But this time the comic strip in on Facebook.

It is hay fever season again. It might be worth try some of these natural remedies before you run to Claritin this time. Especially if you’re me and Claritin doesn’t really work for you…

Tis the season to start buying beautiful heirloom quality clothes for your kids… Soorploom has everything you need.

Goop (Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle blog/web zine) has expanded it’s beauty section, so now we can dive deep into moisturizers and facials while we also read about yoga and why stress is actually good for us.

And while we’re on the topic of wholesome living, turns out that “organic” does not automatically mean “better.” Modern Farmer shares the bad news about the organic industry.

Tonight for dinner we had chicken cooked in coconut milk and peanut oil with a pineapple and scallion relish. Sticky rice would have been the perfect thing to go with it… if only I had seen this recipe on Food52 earlier today. Next time…

I noticed pomegranates on the shelves at Whole Foods today… And while I feel like it’s a bit early in the season, this cabbage, pomegranate and tomato salad from Bon Apetit may have me returning to WF to pick up one or two of these cold weather fruits.