— this is really happening

April, 2008 Monthly archive

Now that I’m full-body deep in il mondo of Marketing I understand that nearly every claim or name on product packaging is crafted, is likely false, and is even more likely to have been written by someone who has never seen, tasted, smelled, or touched the product itself. Marketing copy writing can happen far away, in homes or offices often separate from product development and product distribution. Similar to how a graphic artist might not have read the book for which they are designing a cover, the process by which a product enters the consumer world often doesn’t make time for the marketing division to have its exclusive era with the product. No, everything happens all at once. The products are often being developed while the marketing team is crafting its packaging messages. This is problematic because the messages will already be, in their nature, lies. The people who wrote the messages aren’t sure if what they are writing is true or not, and they aren’t meant to care anyway because the whole point of their writing isn’t to explain the truth, but rather to get the products sold.

We all sense this. We all know that marketing is about lies. And I’m no philosoph. I certainly read enough Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Wittgenstein, and Spinoza in college to know that the Truth train is easy to miss and hard to catch. So I wonder, is the Chameleon a liar when it changes colors to match its environment? Did its marketing division decided to smudge the copy writing a little so it’d be more likely to scare its prey? And for that matter, what am I marketing in my bid for survival? Are survival and marketing made of the same material?

(I swear I’m not Carrie Bradshaw and these aren’t “Sex and the City” questions.)

This discussion will continue later. For now, I’ll leave you with these. (Oh look, Cheeze™! It’s USDA Organic, and I can transform my body, mind and spirit by eating it!)

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Things to Do in the Belly of the Whale

Measure the walls. Count the ribs. Notch the long days.
Look up for blue sky through the spout. Make small fires
with the broken hulls of fishing boats. Practice smoke signals.
Call old friends, and listen for echoes of distant voices.
Organize your calendar. Dream of the beach. Look each way
for the dim glow of light. Work on your reports. Review
each of your life’s ten million choices. Endure moments
of self-loathing. Find the evidence of those before you.
Destroy it. Try to be very quiet, and listen for the sound
of gears and moving water. Listen for the sound of your heart.
Be thankful that you are here, swallowed with all hope,
where you can rest and wait. Be nostalgic. Think of all
the things you did and could have done. Remember
treading water in the center of the still night sea, your toes
pointing again and again down, down into the black depths.

Dan Albergotti

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Who would have thought I might someday transmit from a town where, my Canadian relatives joke, "people only make left turns," to bang the blog bell in announcement of a big secret that’s been hiding deep within the historical right wing of this country? That’s right, Harold Sterling Vanderbilt, the famed railroad executive, champion yachtsman, and great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt (think Vanderbilt University) was also a prolific contract bridge player — in fact Harold was such the player, some of the rules through which conventional bridge is played today were sanctioned first by him and his yachtsman friends back in the early twentieth century. Apparently responsible for making bridge "hip" in 1930’s America, (whatever that looked like), H.V. was one of many purple classmen who played. Seen as a gentlemen’s game, and "not fit for ladies, or lousers." (old English for losers?), the game has deep hoity-toity history, mostly having risen to popularity by the British and Russian royal class in the late nineteenth century. Irregardless (which is a double negative, I know), the game finally made its way to the front lawn of my life. God bless. Left as I might be, and right as it may be, I played contract bridge for the first time last night in a newly-created Bridge Supper Club and lemme tell ya’ … it’s the Excalibur sword of card games!

We played many hands. Some open faced, some closed. With tricks. Without trumps. On teams. Solo. You name it, we tried it. It was a calvacade of questions and interruptions. New lingo sprung from our lips and we could feel the cumberbuns tighten: Dummies, rubbers, doubles, east, west, trump, shuffles, deals, no-trump … over the line, under the line … Phew! And of course,"in the name of transparency and learning" you were allowed to say just about anything at our bridge table (which I recommend). And after about 3 hours, I was juuuuuuuust starting to get it. 

Talk about complicated. [So complicated, in fact, my favorite blue-eyed lass and beloved bridge partner threw a bit of a tantrum (in the best sense of the word) at needing to learn yet another rule.]


Talk about wanting sneaky troublemakers on your team.


Talk about an opportunity to wow your friends with your psychic connection to the divine. 


It’s entirely fun, and entirely complicated. Just like us humans, really.

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I have come to believe that this home, tucked blocks away from the bustle of Shattuck Ave. in Downtown Berkeley, CA, is actually part of The Color Purple movie set. Maybe the crew was too busy to clean up and had to rush Oprah back to her show in New York? Stunning. Beautiful.

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[This post is humbly borrowed from a favorite online source, Carol Peters.] 

Jorie Graham has a new book, Sea Change, now available in print.

Deirdre Wenger interviews Jorie Graham at www.phillyburbs.com. This excerpt from the end of the interview:

DW: What would you suggest to people who are aspiring to be writers and poets? Do you have any advice on how to achieve their goals.

JG: I hate giving advice. But if I take a stab at it today — today I would say: read. Read complete works of poets, to learn what a whole poetic “idiom” is. Also walk, look, smell, taste, touch, listen. Get your body back. Try to make yourself use all your senses every day. There is a vast amount of “information” that is coming at one from sources one doesn’t even know exist. Get outside. Find the strange — not the weird, but the mysterious. We all need to work on staying awake. This is a somnolent era. Growing more so. We need to work hard, pretty much all the time, to achieve moments of presence and wakefulness. Also, avoid living too much in the conceptual intellect at the expense of your body — the “thinky death” Berryman calls it. Undergo poems before you jump to interpretation. Wait till it is absolutely necessary to begin to think “about” the poem, or what it might “mean." Your own or someone else’s.

Also, write as if there is no satellite to transmit your words. Write as if you are writing something that could be dug up out of the sand . . .

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I wish I was at Talland House today, near St. Ives, the house where Virginia Woolf spent many holidays as an adult. I’ve never been there, someday someday, but I suspect the ocean beyond the high hedges would make an exact backdrop for this day, and this mood. As D.M. says, I am decsending, if not already, into a dark room of too much to do and not enough time to do it. So I am squeezing in this post. No idea why. Like the furniture that must support me while I grumble, I am confounded that Adjustment and Flexibility must lean against me with such vigor on some days. Like the speed of the sun setting can sometimes surprise a person. The dark comes and creeps into all my keyholes and all my crevices. And I know it’s usually a short spell, but today I am in it.

However folks, the koan of the day, (and this is coming from all sides) is to sit back and feel the hard and tough day without trying to make it stop. Hmm. Okay. Let’s do that. Right. OK. Got it. /drama /melodrama /sigh

"So with the lamps all put out, the moon sunk, and a thin rain drumming on the roof a downpouring of immense darkness began. Nothing, it seemed, could survive the flood, the profusion of darkness which, creeping in at keyholes and crevices, stole round window blinds, came into bedrooms, swallowed up here a jug and basin, there a bowl of red and yellow dahlias, there the sharp edges and firm bulk of a chest of drawers. Not only was furniture confounded; there was scarcely anything left of body or mind by which one could say, “This is he” or “This is she.” Sometimes a hand was raised as if to clutch something or ward off something, or somebody groaned, or somebody laughed aloud as if sharing a joke with nothingness."

-from "Time Passes," by Virginia Woolf


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Better pray for a fix-it Viking ship to bust a hole through my front window. Perhaps its captain would be, out of chivalrous, moral commitment, obligated to help me organize myself here in this new apartment. Send in the Norsemen!

Actually, from the right angle, anything can look cleaned up. Here is my apartment via the television. This looks like an apartment, even. What I am not showing you, is all the other angles.

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