Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The end and the beginning

Dear Y'all,

Twenty-twenty will be The Year of Just Desserts.  Make quickly your goodbyes to The Year of the Sudden Surge of Confidence.   

I like to get my silly resolutions done in the first week of the new year, so they won't get in the way of having fun for the rest of the year.  As a guiding principle, I will be using Take Risks.  For the resolutions I will use two well worn and faithful ones: wear hats and read more books.  (Note the crucial lack of specificity and quantity in these two resolutions- meaning, I can wear a hat while reading a book on January first, and I will have completely fulfilled my contract with the New Year!)

How about you?  Are you caught in the last minute rush without an appropriate resolution?  Here are a few you can use in a pinch, all of which can be accomplished early on the first day, let alone by the end of January.  I have organized them according to personality.  Just find yourself on the column on the left, and resolve to the action on the right.  No guesswork, no hand wringing, just solid resolutions that will get you where you want to go in this new year of Globalness, Robot Overlords, and Lightning Fast Communication.

Penitents:                                            Play and listen to all of The Wall.  Every note.  It will do
                                                            you good.

Practical Cats:                                    Clean out the drawer you keep your scissors in.

Ritual Lovers:                                    Wash just one window.

Sporty Folks:                                      Do five sit ups. (Yup, for the whole year, not every day!                                                            What you are going for here is actually fulfilling                                                             our promises to ourselves, not another ride on the wheel of
                                                           impotent wishing and planning.  

Over Achievers:                                Clear out an old sweater; one of the ones with holes. You
                                                           can get a reprieve on next year's resolutions if you make
                                                           something out of the old sweater:  a tea cozy, a pillow cover,
                                                           a door mat for the cat door.

Sentimentalists:                                 Write a nice note to someone from the old days.

Okay, well, that's all until next year, then.

Saturday, December 28, 2019


Dear Mind Over Matter,

Don't you just love it when you get somewhere you didn't even know you were going?  Like when I find myself staring at the wall in my usual way, and noticing how supremely happy I am. 

This sensation occurs when I am not directly the focus of a conversation, but listening to others, or with others, but not really doing anything.  Just setting, I guess. 

Either I have changed my notion of what it feels like to be happy, or, somehow, the state has become more accessible to me.   What I especially love about this sensation, is that it comes out of nowhere. 

I suspect my previous construct of happiness required a large effort of planning and imagining being happy, waiting for the Big Day of the upcoming Happy Event, and then sort of wondering if this was all there was.

What I am talking about here, is different than that- I don't think it can be hunted, or seeded that way.  You can't stock it like a pond, with happiness fish to catch later.  I think you have to do something else to get this feeling- wander into a detached assessment, or a back burner meditative state.  You can't look directly at it; it will scare off.

Georgia O'keeffe said that happiness was silly, because it was so fleeting, so maybe this thing I am referring to isn't even properly happiness- it might be called frisson.  Or being.  Or self awareness.

It hardly matters, really, because rhetorical pondering of happiness might be just as silly as pursuing it; what you can do, without fear of silliness, is watch Georgia O'Keeffe in this little film, and hear it from her, and decide what you think about it.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Near the plaza.














Friday, December 13, 2019


Dear December,

Another song for you, because you're my babe, because you're my love.  You have the universe reclining in your hair, and I will call you Jaguar.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Black Birthday Cake

Dear Baking,

For Emily Dickenson's birthday today, bake this cake:


a fruitcake.

If you don't want to mix 22 eggs (and why not?  Will you go to your grave a 'small batch only' kind of baker??!) then you can read this poem by Ms. Dickinson instead:
       How happy is the little stone
       That rambles in the road alone,
       And doesn't care about careers,
       And exigencies never fears:
       Whose coat of elemental brown
       A passing universe put on;
       And independent as the sun,
       Associates or glows alone,
       Fulfilling absolute decree
       In casual simplicity.

In choosing this particular poem, I read a great many from my big Collected volume of Dickinson, and every first line is stellar, and some of the second lines are too.  I loved the first lines clipped from their remainders, and strung together randomly.  I like them this way so much I typed them up on thin, translucent paper, and then sewed them onto vaporous dollops of ink

I love very much the idea of Emily Dickinson; so much that I visited her house, the place she spent her 'recluse' days.  It was a fine pilgrimage.  I object somewhat to the word recluse which is always associated with her- It smacks of a belittling tendency towards female poets of any age. 

Still, I love the idea of her holing up and writing from her windowsill, and I will revere that notion of her for a while longer.  I expect Emily Dickinson's lack of interest in certain things would come under this writer's definition of resistance (explicated in this excellent article) which she calls 'just not.'

Sunday, December 8, 2019

The greening has begun.

Dear December,

It's you and me baby, that makes the world go around.  Here is your song for today.  It's Al Green, on account of the fact that now the ground, after just a few lovely, soggy days, has gone All Green.  So the Fall, which is still floating and swirling gorgeous yellow and russet leaves, is on the way out, and the few minutes of the actual winter look of the place, the silver, faded shafts, and dark, leafless branches, has gone already.  It's a narrow season, the one I speak of, and delicately liminal.

PS  A few more versions of the same song, because it is a fine song.  EttaUB40, Marcia Griffiths. Griffiths.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Fresh Pavement Society

Dear Skating Members,

It's high time for another roller post.  This summer I bought some used rink rental skates from a place in Texas, and the episodic skating society, Planet Claire, is going pretty well.  We have 7 pairs of skates to loan out to anyone with socks that arrives at the meetings.  Eventually, I hope to grow the seven pairs into a horse trailer filled with rental skates, which will prowl the sidewalks of summertime beach towns.  There will be pink.  You won't miss it.  After the trailer, the ultimate goal: a rink of my own.  Which will feature more pink, and a record player, among other things.

In the meantime, I have been dreaming of a second skating group:  the Fresh Pavement Society!

We would need to be fast, and nimble in our communications.  A member would note the location and co-ordinates of the new pavement, and skaters would meet, or not meet, as long as the pavement was fresh.  I think it could function easily world wide.

Another skater and I have proven the concept in a parking lot and on a 1/4 mile section of new asphalt road.  The new macadam is flat and rubble free!  I have my eye on some other new parking lots too- once the cars get all over them and the dreary chain stores open up, there will be less opportunity to skate.  That's why we need this fast communication and a large network of skaters reporting on new pavement in their area. 

Here is a little film of a thing called the Barrel Roll.  Let's meet at some fresh pavement and do it together soon!

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Christmas Cookies

Dear Holidays,

Well, it's time.  Or maybe it isn't, because I stopped making glorious boxes of holiday cookies some years ago.  I stopped because people seemed a bit poisoned by my cookies, all full of gluten, sugar, fat, salt, and love.  I didn't want to give people something they thought was killing them, or making them ill.

In the last ten years, we have been given cookies just once, so I know I am not the only one who has given up on giving cookies. 

So what am I giving you this year?  A kale smoothie, of course!  Nah, just kidding.  I am giving you this gorgeously filmed video of a woman making very, very beautiful cookies, which I secretly hope will give you a pang, a little teeny tiny sense of regret at what your stringent health consciousness has wrought.  Go ahead and watch it twice; there aren't any calories or sodium at all!

Monday, December 2, 2019

two babies

Dear Baby,

My dj played this lovely version of Don't Worry Baby the other day-  There isn't much I like better than a honey and cigarettes voice like Ronnie Spector.

For to honor the two baby songs here, I describe a kind of a cocktail:  Let us call it the Don't Worry Baby.  Mostly because there is SO dang much to worry about, and so very little to do about it.  Everything will be all right; in the not great, but not actual mortal despair, sense of the word.

whiskey- a dark, caramelly one
ice- big ice is nice
fancy cherries in syrup
soda- cheap is fine, so is luxury soda, like Topo Chico

You will need two glasses to enjoy this drink, and a spoon.  Put a few cherries in the bottom of glass, with a dollop of syrup.  The numerologically correct number of cherries would be four in this case.  Put in your ice, stir it up some, add the whiskey, as much as you like.  Stir it or not.  Pour the soda into a second glass.  Add it as you go.  Here's how you drink it for a kind of medium amount of worry:  take a sip of it without any soda, then pour in a few ounces of soda.  Drink that about half down, and then add some more soda.

Here's how you'd drink it in a lot of worry: skip the soda until you pour the second drink, then tip in some soda.

Here's another baby to enjoy.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Marlborough Pudding

Dear Bakeists,

Did you get your Marlborough Pudding made?  It was custardy, faintly boozy, and unusual; the flavor reminded me of desserts like brandied fruitcake or zabaglione. 

Let's make these Milk Bar cake truffles next.  Meet you back here later!

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

We never get old.

Dear Peter Pan and Wendy,

It just dawned on me, and you will find it unbelievable, that when people say they will not grow old, that they mean that they will die before they get old.  I see now that this has been an enormous misapprehension of many things- poems, songs, essays, and novels.  I tell you, I really thought it was meant more metaphorically, as in, they will be forever young in spirit.  Or, that it meant that they will never grow up in some ways, remaining childish or immature.  Or that it meant that they were cursed with a kind of magical stasis.  That it is a euphemism for dying young, hadn't hit me until today. 

Today's song for today is one that I have been misunderstanding in this way for 33 years.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

A Bottle of Look Like Her.


Come a little closer; I don't want everyone to hear.  It feels a little confessional, and I am sorry to burden you, because our love is so pure, our relationship is on a high plane of enlightenment looking down at these earthly concerns.  Ours is une affaire d'esprit.

I was maybe 5, or even 4, when I first realized I wasn't what I was supposed to be.  It seems ludicrous to me now that as a sub-six year old I would have any notion of what to be.  By 'be' I mean the specifically female awareness of 'what you are supposed to look like.' 

There were ways I was supposed to behave, too, of course, but those were more direct expectations;  Be seen and not heard.  Sit quietly.  Don't run around in here.  These directives were mostly spoken, and they mostly had to do with not making noise, now that I consider it.  So, here was what I had for tools at age six:  Shut Up, Now!; and, You Are All Wrong. 

My hair was wrong, my body was way wrong, and my face was wrong, too; I needed glasses.  Oh, and did I mention my feet?  Well, they were so wrong that only one kind of shoe would fit them.  I feel terrible guilt about this, because now I love saddle shoes in tan and navy.  But this comes from a mature eye- it took me 20 years to learn to love those dorky, clunky, über cool shoes.  When it was all I could get, I hated them.  They were not lovely, girly, princessy, shoes.  They were boyish and drab.  They had stupid laces, instead of patent leather straps and buckles.  There was a lot of self-loathing in those days.

It's all a continuum.  My awareness that I was not right visually is nothing compared to a woman born with three elbows, or 7 toes.  Or whatever else it is that makes a person think they should buy a bottle, tube, or jar of "Look Like Her."  I have hundreds of these bottles, and I still don't look like Her.  I wonder if anything can be done for us, in our self-made hell of in-adequacy?  I mean, of course, that a million things can be done, but is there a universally useful change that could be made in the way we peddle images pretending to be products?

Sunday, November 10, 2019

In typical precise order.

Dear Streets,

Your song for today has been heard on the Dodo before, but it must be played again, and I recommend, just for this song, a whiskey and soda with a little lemon twist.  It's a darn fine combination.

I think I have told you about seeing the incomparable Jonathan Richman in 1989 or 1990?  He played a place we used to go to for interesting music called The Barn.  When I try to determine where it was now, it's all a low fog of causeway and Delta flatness.  Suffice it to say it was there, it was small, it was real, and I fell for Jonathan Richman like a ton of bricks; you would have too, he is solid charisma.

This song's trudging passages, alternating with frenzied staccato still send me.  Here are some chords if you want to try it for yourself.

I'll never see you anymore.

Dear Listeners,

Oh man!  Check this out!  I hate to send you there, because, you will never come by here anymore.  Still, I can't just keep you in the dark and save you for only me, so this could be goodbye....

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Bake Along.

Dear Bakers and Cooks,

Hey!  I have an idea!  Let's have a bake along!  The neighbors tree is loaded with apples, and I found this interesting dessert at Atlas Obscura's food subdivision: Gastro Obscura (yes, you should check it out). 

The whole recipe is on this short film*- I am going to bake the Marlborough Pudding in Old Bess, our trusty oven even.  I hope someone out there will use a hearth and a cast iron dutch oven. 

Let's meet again soon to discuss results!  Oh, and, I think that just isn't enough butter in that pastry, but maybe I will try it that way....

*  Say, did the sharp viewers notice that something extra is poured into the pudding?!?  It was melted butter!  Here is a written recipe

Sunday, November 3, 2019

The Birds.

Dear Looking Out the Window,

Oh my!  They are everywhere right now- the Raven is talking to himself in the window of the barn to the North, the finches are moving in a tight flock of chirping, the shrubs send up cyclones of sparrows when I walk out the door.  There are bluebirds in the bath, and towhees, flickers, doves, thrashers, and wrens scuffling on the ground. 

When you begin to watch birds, as a verb, a hobby, to birdwatch; at first it is all leaves and splitseconds.  The feathers are indistinguishable from the foliage, and if you are lucky enough to spot something moving, it’s like a flashbulb and there isn’t time to recognize anything more than that it might have been a bird?  As you put in your hours, though, forms begin to emerge from the leaves- after awhile, you have a sense of bird and non-bird, and gradually, there is enough time to see some things that approach details: brownish, a forked tail, a roundness, a long pointed beak.  Eventually, you can glimpse but a shadow and know that it was an oak titmouse.  You also become attuned to the sounds of the different birds; even the sounds of the wingbeats.  In fact, after a long while at it, you can become quite amazed at the variety of details that you are able to identify.  Things that in the early days you never dreamed you could notice- things like the rising and falling arc that certain birds make in flight.  Or, the sound of some birds’ feet, as they scuffle around in the leaf litter.  It’s all very distinctive, it turns out.

The time of counting for Project Feederwatch is very soon, and I hope this year you will sign on and make a regular appointment with your backyard birds.  The practice of looking is very rewarding.

Thursday, October 17, 2019


Dear Days,

To celebrate this 500th day of roller skating, let's have a few notable 500s:  A band, a song, and a sweet, sweet ride.  Or, maybe order one of these 500s.  You will want these chords, too, so you can play along on the guitar.

Another 500, and another.  Let's see, that makes 3000, I think.  That will be December 24, 2027. See you then!

Friday, October 11, 2019

Subverted expectations.

Ryan, Green-Eyed Monster, 2019 (KR 19.012) A

Dear Sparkles,

I really admire the various juxtapositions represented in Kathleen Ryan's work: small things made big, ephemeral things made fixed, moldy made semi-precious.  I also like the notion that beadwork is kinda crafty and a little bit womenswork-ish, and that she has taken it to such a large scale.  What is not to like about this bedazzled, half-rotted lemon sculpture?   Doesn't it send you running out to your studio to glue some little things onto substrates?  It does me, and I have a lot of glitter that I think I have been ignoring too long now, fearing that glitter might be a bit too girly or tacky for the (ha!) 'high' art things I have been mucking around with.  Yes, I think it is time to experiment with putting on some glitz. 

Onwards, then, to our project for today: to make a little something inspired by Kathleen Ryan's work!

Want to see more?   An article, and a gallery link.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

To redeem the work of fools.

Dear People,

Do you remember a tv show called Square Pegs?  I bet you do; there a was a girl on it, a "Soc" is probably what the word for her type was, and she used to say:  "People, it behooves me..." to give you the song of the day.

It also behooves me to tell you a little more about Choir!Choir!Choir! because it is right up my alley as a "musical project."  The choristers are not trained and practiced in the usual way- they are rather, people, who show up to sing.  Can you think of anything nicer than that?  I know I can't.

Friday, October 4, 2019

A night photograph.

Dear Shutterbugs,

I saw an inspiring movie about a photographer recently; it was all about stuff, and you know how I adore stuff, and as a corollary, I adore considering the meaning of the stuff we save, and the relationship between the things, the stuff, and the meaning of the stories that reside in the objects.

Consider, please, a glass duck shaped ashtray.  It's big, it's heavy, and it has a little mate, a smaller duck.  Consider also that the smokers who owned these items have departed this plane, and now there are just the ashtrays and no ashes.  Why keep these items?  Right now, I'd say, keep them because they telescope time and space.  One sees these ducks, and one sees a ghost of the table they sat on in the house of the smokers.  Mind you, I never saw them use these ducks to hold ashes; for ashes, they used a finny little sandbag thing, with a concave brass dish with a wavy brass strip attached.*

Which is another ghost image that lives with the ducks, the sandbag ashtray.  The little memory landscape map that these ducks reveal can grow and grow.  You step outside, beyond the table the ducks are on: the sky down there is so white, high, and un-blue.  It is nearly always warm and damp, and there are stringy, ungainly cacti clambering along a painted wall, and they bloom sometimes at night; huge, creamy, fragile trumpets of deliriously fine fragrance.  There are bricks, and a kind of feeling of scuffling along the grit of them near to the cacti.  There is a lot of light coming from the window, too, because now it is night.  It's all there, and how can this be kept with the ducks?  How can it remain in the ducks?  It cannot.  The ducks will go on perhaps, to tell a totally different tale, to people that I will never meet.

And that is the kind of story that stuff is telling all the time.

* A little like this one:

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

A sing along.

Dear Radio Dodo Fans,

Here is your song of the day.  My DJ played it for me, and so I wanted to send it along a little further.
Play it loud and maybe sing along in a parking lot.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Sunday, September 22, 2019

small bits

Dear Little Pieces,

Today your song is called Fragment II; and it's what they call a musical project, which is kind of nowspeak for what we might once have called a 'band.' 

I have been thinking about my own musical projects, in a kind of fantasy baseball way.  Here is a rundown of the projects I have been working on, albeit wishfully, and only in my imagination.

I have been playing cowbell for Exene Cervenka now for about a decade, and later this year, we will head out on tour, opening for Laurie Anderson.  I have been co-writing a song with Jonathan Richman; it will come out sometime next year.  In January, I will play keyboards in a project with Y La Bamba, and do some vocals too, on a filmscore for a new John Sayles movie.  For the holidays, I am doing a duet with Elvis Costello; we will be singing Greg Lake's I Believe in Father Christmas.  I am also playing the buzzing fish shaped percussion thingy that I can't remember the name of, in a supergroup called Torch and Twang- we cover Kraftwork songs, and we are really killing it with the Sylvan Esso fans.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Dear You,

I am tired of trying to be polite about this, and actually, it might have been kinder if I had told you how I felt from the beginning.  I wanted you to accept me, to like me, to hear me.  I regret my lack of confidence more than anything.  I know you won't let me down, and I should never have doubted you.

It's a life and death matter now, and everyone now knows it, so, I need you to be honest about this, I need you to say something out loud, I need you to act on it.  I need you to mourn our luxurious lives.  I need you to sacrifice for beings less fortunate than you.  I need you to voluntarily use less of what you currently use, and I need you to come out on Friday and stand around the gazebo in the park with me:  Global Climate Strike

See you there, my humans! 

Monday, September 16, 2019

Now sky.

Dear Everyone,

I am so often amazed at the beauty we are offered from the sky.  Today there is this amazing texture and coloring in the sky.  It's a sky that demands setting out some chairs, and silently watching this vaporous spectacle together.  Join me!

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Story & Song

Dear What's New,

A wonderful woman I know showed me this great Story Corps film, and so, of course, I wanted to hear Lavender Country, and you will want to too.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Wait for me.

Dear Waiting,

Today on Radio Dodo Anaïs Mitchell's Wait for Me.  Her folk opera, Hadestown is on Broadway now, if you happen to be out that way.

If you are staying put, have another version, and this one, too.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Ojos derrotados.


Dear Shipwrecked,

A poem today, by Pablo Neruda.  Aquí en inglés.

LXVIII                                                             (Mascarón de Proa)

La niña de madera no llegó caminando:
allí de pronto estuvo sentada en los ladrillos,
viejas flores del mar cubrían su cabeza,
su mirada tenia tristeza de raíces.

Allí quedó mirando nuestras vidas abiertas,
el ir y ser y andar y volver por la tierra,
el día destiñendo sus pétalos graduales.
Vigilaba sin vernos la niña de madera.

La niña coronada por las antiguas olas,
allí miraba con sus ojos derrotados:
sabia que vivemos en una red remota

de tiempo y aqua y ollas y sonidos y Lluvia,
sin saber si existimos o si somos su sueño.
Está de la historia de la muchacha de madera.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Thought by thought.

Dear Radio Dodo Listener,

Your song for today is a really full pail; a stack of a song, that tells it all for everyone.  Steer Your Way.

There haven't been any songs here from this beautiful, beautiful final album from Brother Leonard, because I haven't yet wanted to talk to you about this album.  The day after he died I found myself in conversation with other mourners and I could not really accept their thoughts.  I didn't even want their thoughts.  I only wanted my thoughts, my place of private grief with a single, high window, and maybe a candle for when the sun went down.  I wanted my cot there, my plain table, a tiny chair, and blank paper and a good fountain pen.  What did I want to write there?  Something I still cannot write: all the things I want to write; the love, and the gratitude, and the deep, are always beyond my reach.  The only elegy I can write is hash and stale borrowings.  It's like that though, even for the great ones, I think.

I have listened to the album enough to have changed my mind four times on which is the best cut, and I am ready to tell you that this is it.  No further listenings will yield a different choice.  It's this one, but oh! so many of them are terrific.  You want it darker?  Listen to the whole thing.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

So good!

Dear Artists, Chefs, and Saints,

Oh!  This is a lovely thing you will want to read right away.  I am working today on a lecture that I will give in a few months, collecting images that I hope will enlighten and expand the attendees minds and spirits.

Of course, I will show a few images of my own work, which, in review, looks very feeble and dubious.  Can I stand behind this big pink painting and pretend I know what I am doing?  What I am talking about?  No, of course I cannot.  I must fake it, or pull back the curtain enough to admit it is absurd to paint, and even slightly more absurd to talk about painting.  Some of them will not be ready for that, so maybe I can do it very cleverly, so that only the prepared ones will notice?  The trouble lies in the fact that I am certain the absurd is worthwhile; in fact, the more absurd, the more truthful it is likely to be, and so then, the more vulnerable and fragile and again, worthwhile.

Here, I will tell all; the Dodo is that kind of a thing; it's yelling out my worst fears and fantasies into an empty canyon without echo.  Stay tuned for the images in the days to come.

Friday, August 9, 2019

park here

Dear Mundane,

I love the ordinary exalted and these parking spaces filled with phrases chosen by a middle school in Salinas is the bee's knees!  How quickly can you get something like this done in your area?  I am going to ask my pals if they'd join me in fixing up some parking spaces- it can be our Project for the Year.


Monday, August 5, 2019

ramp rolling



Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Your Role for Today

Dear Sir,

I find myself in a jam.  Miss Otis regrets.  I am terribly sad and afraid that I do not want to attend your invitation.  I do not want to wear the mask.  I do not want to shoulder the conversation.  I do not want to mentor.  Or to be witty for you, like the trained seals barking for their fishes.  Yes, Miss Otis regrets.

Try this on for size:  You are Joe Smith.  You bring your really excellent Julia Child's Jello mold in the elaborate shape of a squirrel holding a nut to the Big Party.  People love it, and they ask you to bring it again.  And again.  And it goes on for years, and it is now called Joe's Jello by everyone who knows you, and no one else even dares to bring a molded item of any kind, because it will never be as good as Joe's.  And even more time passes, and then Joe is gone, and his Jello lives on in that people make the recipe, and they meet and they say "it's just not as good as Joe's,' and "Joe always brought his Jello, how I miss him!' and "Can you give me Joe's recipe for Jello?"  This is all good and a very nice memory of Joe, dead and gone.  It's the kind of thing you might hope to elicit.  Which is maybe why you bring a pineapple upside down cake and hope, in your secret heart, that you will become Known For It.

Let's consider another aspic aspect:  Joe tires of making the damned Jello on the 8th time, but he doesn't want to disappoint, and he enjoys the notoriety.  He is slightly trapped by the success of his Jello.  He would like to try, just once, a Dobos Torte.  In fact, maybe he did, once, and all anyone could say was "what?  You didn't make your Jello??"  So, yes, he is quite trapped in the role of the One Who Makes Jello for The Party.*

Stay with me now, Sir, because I know you are thinking of turning on an interesting podcast made by hipsters in NYC about the ways in which we assume different identities all the time, everyday.  Stay with me, because I am going to nudge you, or to permit you, to abandon some of these roles.  We are not only the Jello we bring, we humans.  We are quite complicated beings with many, many interests, goals, and fantasies. 

But, you say, that's not right- making Jello is not role-playing!  It's making Jello.  Well, be that as it may, bringing Jello has become a role for Joe, and he might be tired of it.  Also, we are playing roles all the time.  Right now, I am playing the role of a writer of this letter to you, and you may or may not be playing the role of reader.  If the idea of a role is too much for you, consider it a mode of being.  You might be in the receiving mode when you read this and you might not.

Let me offer further example:  You go to the post office to return the vegetable spiralizer you got on the internet, because you realized, while watching a very old episode of Dr. Who (wherein the Doctor meets a computer that he gave his mind to upon its birth as a sentient new being, and it has been flailing along for years with this split personality, wreaking havoc on everyone around it), you realized, that you might be entering a trap.  You might end up being the one that everyone goes to for spiralized vegetables, and you decided, deep in the clarity of the night, that you did not want this role after all.  So, you are at the post office with the box to return this potential role.  You get in line and now you play the role of the person who is slightly annoyed at having to wait, but you don't take it out on the poor beleaguered postal worker, although, you do think to yourself "I am not paid to be on this side of the counter, and you, Postal Employee, however much you may hate your job, are being paid to do it."  And the other people playing the same role remark to you on how long the line is and how inconvenient it is and you agree, in your role as Postal Customer.  You might say now, to me, Sir, that that is that, and how else could one possibly behave waiting in line at the post office? 

How happy I am that you asked!  You could take the time while you wait in line, to compose a manifesto for avoiding impulse purchases online.  Which you could put to music and maybe even upload a video of you and Joe performing it to YouTube.  Or you could say, to the person who says this is a mighty long line and slow, too, that you enjoy lines like this, because of the way it requires you to examine the floor tiles to avoid making eye contact with people who are playing the role of slightly annoyed at waiting in line at the post office.  Because, you might explain to them, you don't really want to get stuck in the same role every time you come to the post office.

Well, I know your time is precious, Sir, so I guess I will say just once more:  Miss Otis regrets.

*  Joe's crisis deepens:  If he isn't The One Who Brings the Jello, just who is he?

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Acheronian Song of the Day

Dear Billy Joe,

Here is the song of today.  My DJ just played it for me.  In days past, I would have changed the station when this maudlin rot would come on the radio.  I guess I have gone soft.  One thing that has changed since those days is that Lucinda Williams kills this song.  Kills it.  She makes a true, operatic lament out of it, and it is great.

Try Bobby Gentry, too, for comparison.  Ms. Gentry would have sung it like Ms. Williams if she could have, I am certain.

The thing I love about this song is the way the dialogue tells the story.  Dialogue isn't the usual way a ballad is told.  I love the way that we know that Pa is a real insensitive piece of work, and that Ma is suggesting, hinting, that our storyteller ought to spend more time around that nice, young, eligible, tasty, and morally incontrovertible Brother Taylor.   But, what, exactly, do you suppose this bereft young woman and Billy Joe threw off of theTallahatchie Bridge?

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Lunar Anniversary

Dear Mooning,

This is the day to celebrate the anniversary of the moon landing.  Here at the Dodo, we will take a pilgrimage to a nearby Moon Tree, make Moon Pies, and watch this excellent documentary.  Oh, and we will have this song on our party play list, too.  If you aren't having your own party, come over and have a Moon Pie with us!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Holy Moonmen!

Dear Moon Mission Enthusiasts,

Can you believe this amazing recreation of NASA's trip to the moon?  I love that people will make this kind of geeky thing, and that we can play with it, right now, right here, for free.  Enjoy it, and have a moon song for today.

A little cheesecake.

Dear Summer Cooks,

It's been a coon's age since we have had a baking recommendation for you here at the Dodo.  Mind you, we have been baking, but just hum-drum stuff:  Brownies, chocolate chip cookies, Skibo Castle Ginger Crunch, scones, lemon bars, chocolate sheet cakes;  a couple of fancy chocolate tortes, but I didn't get any photos.

This lemon cheesecake was inspired by a really delicious marshmallow lemon cheesecake dessert at Coda.  If you get up to Southwest Harbor, be sure to stop there and have a meal.  The recipe is adapted from this cheesecake.  The meringue is showy and really so darned good on it!

1 cup flour
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup cold butter
1 tablespoon lemon zest
a pinch of salt

As you would for shortbread, combine the flour and sugar and lemon zest, then work the butter in until it is crumbly and then press it into a 10 inch spring form pan.  Bake the crust for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

20 ounces of cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons flour
2 eggs
2 egg yolks (save the egg whites for the meringue)
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup heavy cream

Heat the oven to 475 degrees.  Butter the pan above the crust.  Beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth.  Add the salt and flour.  Add the eggs and vanilla.  Beat in the heavy cream and the lemon zest.  Pour the filling over the crust for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 200 degrees and bake for another 30 minutes or so.  It should be set in the center.  Let it cool forever.  Well, like 4 hours at least- it can't be warm, but it can be cold, so you could put it in the fridge and put the meringue on the next day, right before you eat it.

2 egg whites
pinch of salt
1/2 cup of sugar

Beat the egg whites with the salt until frothy; gradually add the sugar and stop beating when it's glossy and holds nice, stiff, showy peaks.

Spread it on your cheesecake and then caramelize the meringue with a torch.  If you are lucky, your neighbor will have one in his garage that you can borrow.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Art Car


Dear Drivers,

We strive here at the Dodo plant to bring you the best of what there is in the world, and a recent correspondent sent me an article on artist Peggy Noland.  One thing she makes are Art Cars;  a fabulous curiosity that anyone can have and make and drive. 

I met an art car owner/creator once and she invited anyone to make additions to her work/car.  It was like a kitsch museum turned inside out; with lots of little tacky objects glued to it.  It was great, because of the freedom it expressed, not because it was a beautiful object, or because it had been transformed from humble vehicle to something grander.  The Art Car isn't necessarily grand, it's more of a mobile folk art site, which is what the world needs now.

Watching Ms. Noland's Cartoon Up videos brought me another treat; a concept and phrase new to me: ASMR.  I never even knew there was a name for that feeling, and I adore anything that "may overlap with frisson."

If you can spare a little more time for beautiful sentiments and ideas, try this.  If you want a little more Jackie DeShannon, here it is.  If that doesn't give you ASMR, try this song

Monday, July 8, 2019


Dear Still Skating,

It has gone on.  After getting to the end of a year by going to the end of the US with my roller skates, and skating on wet decks, bedroom carpets, and a fine maple roller rink in Auburn, Maine., I wasn't convinced I should hang it up entirely, and once you add another day, you might just as well add another.  Which is how I got to here; 400 days.

Auburn's rink is the Rollodrome, and it is charming.  I haven't added a rink to my list for some time, and it brings the grand total to 38. I can't wait to open my own.