The Blue People: Tuareg Steeze

Yet another group of gorgeous, captivating people. The Tuareg are a nomadic Berber people found mostly in the Saharan interior of North Africa. Traditionally, the women do not wear the veil, whereas the men do. The indigo men's face coverings are believed to ward off evil spirits. The Tuareg are sometimes called "The Blue People" since the indigo pigments of their veils and robes stained their skin dark blue.

07.14.14 The Genius, Power and Magic of Boldness

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.

-William Hutchinson Murray (1913-1996), from his 1951 book entitled The Scottish Himalayan Expedition

I've spent a lot of time on my father's laptop recently, compelled to piece together the bits of ideas, writings and journals he kept there with the story of the man I knew. I found a document with this quote saved in it, which in many ways captured what I admired most about my father. In a world where many of us doubt, hesitate and grow stagnant in our lives, he never wasted a moment in taking necessary leaps of faith.

For the first time in my life I have felt death's real presence. Witnessing my father's sudden passing has made me realize that we cannot plan our lives according to some assumed lifespan. We cannot waste precious time believing we are trapped in certain situations, longing for lives that could have been. Certainly, we have responsibilities, but too often we create false masters and become slaves with invisible shackles, heavy with our own delusions of the difficulties involved in breaking free. My father took bold steps in making his way from carpenter to non-profit founder, a journey that profoundly touched hundreds, if not thousands of people along the way. In this, he was able to do more in 60 years than some do in many lifetimes. I am grateful to have his example--I hope to keep it with me so that when death comes for me I can say, "I did not hold myself back, I blossomed with all the splendor I could muster." That is the only way anyone can be prepared to die, because it will always seem to come too soon.

We all struggle with the idea of destiny and wrestle with how to live best to fulfill some notion of a life's purpose. My father was fond of Howard Thurman's idea of how to navigate the existential path, "Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." When you think of life in these terms it seems simple. A question of what challenges you, energizes your spirit, causes you to slip into the natural track of what your being was meant to do, what brings you joy and in turn has some lasting effect on the world and others.

There are plenty of things I enjoy doing, but I know that music does something different. At times while playing, I experience a transcendence that in its moment is the closest I get to oneness. I feel an overwhelming joy in being struck with the insight of writing a new song. I become connected with other people in ways that I don't imagine I could achieve doing anything else.  I have labored for over a decade to be better in what I do, to be more honest and to make a career out of something that for me holds so much gravity, such aching necessity. In some ways, death's visit has thrown my world into new perspective. In other ways, things remain the same. It feels strange to start a new journey with the same destination I've had for many years. And maybe the destination will change. I can't be sure. But I am most certain that whatever it is it has to be now, the way my father would have done it, fully committed, ready for possible failure but eager to fly.

The EP's album cover goes out to you, Dad.

With love, Lisa.

Frida's Flowers

“I wish I could do whatever I liked behind the curtain of 'madness'. Then: I’d arrange flowers, all day long, I’d paint; pain, love and tenderness, I would laugh as much as I feel like at the stupidity of others, and they would all say: 'Poor thing, she’s crazy!' (Above all I would laugh at my own stupidity.) I would build my world which while I lived, would be in agreement with all the worlds. The day, or the hour, or the minute that I lived would be mine and everyone else’s - my madness would not be an escape from 'reality'.”  -Frida Kahlo

08.21.14 Becoming Your Mother

My mom turns 60 today, and I wanted to take the time to write down what the 29-years she has spent with me have meant in shaping who I am. Many women reach a point in their lives when they realized that they've become their mothers. For me, that moment comes with a joy and thankfulness of having someone so talented, fearless and remarkable to emulate. Just some of what I've learned from her...

Travel the world while you're young.

Believe that everything can be art, and anything can be transformed into something extraordinary with creativity and imagination.

Be mindful of what you can offer to the world. Don't give up trying to make something that matters.

Be compassionate to all living things.

Learn new instruments. Make up your own music.

Be able to grow things, catch things, and cook and eat those things.

Don't worry so much about what other people think. And always buy your clothes secondhand.

Don't follow recipes. Trust that you can make anything taste good with a few magic ingredients.

Go to bed early. Wake up early.

Make your own cards. And always send thank you cards.

Stand up for what you believe in and for people weaker than you.

Take home improvements into your own hands.

Have an eye for color.

Don't become too attached to money or material possessions. And value people over both.

...and so much more. Thanks, Mom and Happy Birthday!!!

Eugène Séguy

A fascinating French entomologist, illustrator and textile designer from the early half of the 20th century. Because bugs can be beautiful. Just not in my apartment.

03.27.12 Josephine Baker and Her Pet Cheetah, Chiquita

The first black woman to star in a major motion picture, to integrate an American concert hall and to become a world-famous entertainer. After King’s assassination, his widow Coretta Scott King approached her in Holland to ask if she would take her husband’s place as leader of the American Civil Rights Movement, which she declined, saying her (12 adopted) children were “too young to lose their mother.” She allegedly had an affair with artist Frida Kahlo. When World War II broke out, she volunteered to spy for her adopted country of France. After the war, for her underground activity, Baker received the Croix de Guerre, the Rosette de la Resistance, and was made a Chevalier of the Legion d’honneur by General Charles de Gaulle. WHAT A BADASS.

Jack Kerouac

“I realized that I had died and been reborn numberless times but just didn’t remember because the transitions from life to death and back are so ghostly easy, a magical action for naught, like falling asleep and waking up again a million times, the utter casualness and deep ignorance of it.”  – Jack Kerouac, On the Road

01.16.13 Jimi Hendrix

Look at how insanely FLY this dude’s wardrobe is. Please take a minute to marvel at him. The swagger. The freshness. The unfettered, audacious imagination. Oh, hay…are you wearing a kimono? That’s cool. Velvet vest with gold embroidery? Sweet. Floral on floral? Um, hells yes. Men want to be him…women want to be with him…I just want to be in his closet.

01.13.13 The Owl and the Pussycat

There are a handful of children’s books I remember loving as a kid, most of which featured highly detailed, colorful and ornate illustrations. Which are still my jam. Anything drawn by Trina Schart Hyman (go ahead…chuckle immaturely…it’s almost too good to be true), Jan Brett or Edmund Dulac and you could consider me sold. Jan Brett’s The Owl and the Pussycat especially stands out in my memory because not only is it gorgeous, but look at that pussycat’s fucking outfit. DOPE. I’d wear that. I’m probably wearing that right now.  Actually, I think the illustrations in this book embody everything I love:

A) The tropics.

B) Flowers.

C) Lots o’ Color.

D) A boat full of fruit.


F) Inter-species marriage.

Jan Brett’s illustrations are so beautiful I am even willing to overlook certain inaccuracies in both the story and her artistic interpretations. Cat that walks exclusively on its hind legs: what. Owl to cat size ratio: huge owl or tiny cat? Fruitarian owl and cat: I guess a boat full of dead mice would be less appealing. Then again, children’s books are for, well, children…who are notoriously less cognizant, so I can further forgive the unabashed use of artistic license.  And that’s why Jan Brett deserves this month’s “Oh Hell Yes, Artist of the Month” award. Which I will be nominating for this month and this month only. Way to go Jan Brett.

12.21.12 Mayan Doomsday Gingerbread Temple

When I get the notion in my head that my man deserves a Doomsday Gingerbread Mayan Temple for his Birthday, then hot damn he will have one. And it will be the most accurate and structurally sound Doomsday Gingerbread Mayan Temple any slightly-tipsy-party-goer has ever seen. It’s probably best if you didn’t know the details about the geometry and obsessive precision involved in the designing and executing of this masterpiece. Let’s just say I’m very committed (read: a little psycho) when it comes to these things. Unfortunately, I don’t have photos of it lit with fiery candles surrounding the top, but you can imagine it was pretty sweet. If I do say so myself.  And delicious.

11.29.12 Famous Exotic Pets

Because while it’s probably a bad idea to have a wild animal on a leash or in your home, it’s totally cool as long as you’re famous. It’s in the famous people’s contract. Duh. Go read it.

1. Painter, Salvador Dali & his ocelot

2. Actress, Audrey Hepburn & her deer

3. Burlesque dancer, Zorita & her snake

4. Actress, Jane Havoc & her toucan (extra cool points for the last name)

5. Explorer, Osa Johnson & her cheetah

6. Painter, Frida Kahlo & her deer

7. Actor, John Barrymore & his monkey

8. Ballerina, Ana Pavlova & her swan

09.12.12 Han Hey Jin for Vogue Korea

Oh, shameless cultural appropriation why are you so aesthetically beautiful?

07.23.12 Kandinsky

Hands down, Wassily Kandinsky is one of my favorite artists of all time.

“The true work of art is born from the ‘artist’: a mysterious, enigmatic, and mystical creation. It detaches itself from him, it acquires an autonomous life, becomes a personality, an independent subject, animated with a spiritual breath, the living subject of a real existence of being.”

“The arts are encroaching one upon another, and from a proper use of this encroachment will rise the art that is truly monumental.”

06.05.12 Helen Frankenthaler

I don’t know what makes Helen Frankenthaler’s work so beautiful or how she did it. But I guess she did…

 “A really good picture looks as if it’s happened at once. It’s an immediate image. For my own work…I think very often it takes ten of those over-labored efforts to produce one really beautiful wrist motion that is synchronized with your head and heart, and you have it.”

“There are no rules. That is how art is born, how breakthroughs happen. Go against the rules or ignore the rules. That is what invention is about.”