Je Suis Charlie

NYC Washington Park Saturday January 10

November Paintings

Walking up this morning: Nov 3rd, 2010, was not as bad as waking up on November 5th 2008: Bush’s reelection, but certainly not as joyful as waking up on November 5th 2008 : Obama’s election.  I am certainly not looking forward to Boehner‘s face as the House leader,  but I take little comfort at the White House and the Senate still blue.
Below two paintings: “Fear Factor” from Nov 3rd, 2004;  and “VLand #3” — part of the Vulvic Space Series — finished yesterday. Will see what gets painted next, though I will keep working at the Vulvic Space Series for a while…Do I have two years to finish it?

Off To Nola

Thank you all of you who came to hear Trialogues at The Local 269 on Monday.  Pierre Joris, Michael Bisio & I had a wonderful  time and the captive audience provided great support and inspiration. At the end of this post you will find the photo gallery of the gig —courtesy of my friend documentalist/ videographer Chiaki Matsumoto.

Next gig for me will be Sunday afternoon at the Gold Mine Saloon in the French Quarter in New Orleans. Megan Burns & Dave Brinks are organizing a mega event to try to raise funds for ““. The event will feature: a silent auction —paintings by George Rodrigue, as well as my painting “Unfinished Business” (see picture above) will be part of it, as well as a poetry/performance reading by “La Voix de Nola Poétique” and I am honored to  be featured as one of them. There will also be performances by the Saintsations, Cyrill Neville, Rockin’ Dopsie Jr. and the Zydeco Twisters, plus many celebrities & great food. It is open to the public and please forward the info to anyone you know in the Gulf Region.

I am looking forward to be among my friends but also a bit anxious to be confronted with the Gulf devastation from close up.   I was there right after Katrina and I remember too well how different it was to be there than from getting the info via TV or the newspapers. There is always a lot of issues that are not discussed  in the main stream media & I highly recommend reading Dahr Jamail‘s posts about the devastating use of dispersant sand how the fisherman are being lied to, used & abused by BP. So not really a “Laissez les bon temps rouler” kind of trip but an “All-hands-on-deck” experience:

Trialogues at The Local 269 Monday August 23rd 2010
All photos by Chiaki Matsumoto

Thanks for the support and keep in touch!

Live Lunch at the C.I.A


“We don’t allow photography inside the school, outside as much as you want,” says the black coated supervisor/waiter at the Apple Pie Bakery Café. As soon as I put my camera down a flash goes off at the other end of the room. I am not the only one wanting to document a visit at America’s Northeast food temple: The C.I.A  a.k.a: The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y.

It is 13:05 pm and I notice on my receipt that I paid for my food at 12:53 pm. I have ordered my lunch and a few treats to bring Miles who is on the Muttnik film shoot —by the way you can check Miles’ new website here. I’m only twenty minutes away from the set and on call in case he needs anything. I hope he doesn’t call until my Riesling Cave Spring Cellar from Canada comes!

13:08pm: the bag with the to go items is brought to me.

13:10pm: Ah! The Riesling lands on my table. The glass is not perfectly clean, but not dirty enough to send it back. The wine is not cold enough, but again not warm enough to send it back either — plus, I really want to taste it. It is good, maybe a touch acidic, but decent.
At the “pay here” station along with my receipt I was given a plastic card with the number #91 on it. I was instructed to place it on my table. On the center of the table there is a little iron chipped basket carousel filled with cutlery, napkins, salt, pepper, sugar, a decorative apple and in the middle, a stem where to stick my number #91. This is how the student-waiter/tresse will know where to bring the food & drink  I ordered at “order here” and paid for at “pay here”. This system makes them wander awkwardly throughout the fairly large dining room café. They have one eye on the tray for balance and the other intensely scanning the center of the tables to find the matching number. It not that easy to decipher when a stem holds several numbers. I am watching the entire waiting staff playing a table hunt game. Maybe it is a new technique in order to test and improve students’ hand/eye coordination! At any rate super entertaining to me, the lone diner!

13:17 pm: I’m patiently waiting for my food. I’m not super hungry but very thrilled to report “live” from the CIA! I have my wine and plenty of observing and writing to do.
Darn! I was going to seriously eavesdrop on the conversation of the five diners two tables away but they are already done and leaving. The jovial chubby gay student’s louder voice had carried over to me via the arch above us, maybe it was gossip about the school? I’ll never know. The table across me is being reassured that their food is on the way. I am reassured too cause I was right behind them on the line “order here”.

13:23 pm: Stretching my wine and noticing that the neighbors got their food. Great! mine must be close.

13:28 pm: The waitress who brought my wine comes to me: “Are you waiting for something?”
“Yes! A BLT and an order of fries”
“Ok! Let me check!”
A sip or two and my wine is done. Right on time when my food will come. I am not having a second glass, it is lunch and I have to drive. I don’t mind not having wine with my food, my favorite glass of wine is before the food comes.

13:13 pm: Food is here… How do they expect me to eat this sandwich? I know that I am not very articulate when it comes to American kitchen sink sandwiches but there is no way I can hold and eat a —at least— two and half inch thick sandwich. The slices of toasted Pullman bread are each one-inch thick! I try to close it as it came open face on a wooden board. Not an easy task: the crispy bacon in the center creates a complication, it pushes out the beautiful red, ripe but firm tomatoes that surf out on the mayo. Ok, I will abandon the top part and hold it carefully as it is now an overloaded toast. It is very tasty, and if the bread was half the thickness it would be a perfect BLT. I got so surprised and busy that I didn’t even pick at the French fries yet. Just by looking at them I suspect they are frozen fries, tasting them confirms my suspicion. On the other hand the potato chips are delicious even if a tad too salty for my taste. Why on hearth did I order fries when potato chips came with the BLT? For one I’m still jet-lagged, and two, I have a craving for fresh French fries as I didn’t eat any in France —all frozen there too— and at the CIA I expected they would be fresh potato French fries.
Ok! Done with the food, I left one slice of bread and most of the French fries. The waitress cleans up my table. I ask if I can order coffee, and as I suspected she tells me that I would have to go thru the long “order here” and “pay here” lines again. I don’t want to so and settle for a glass of iced water. Two tables away some people are getting table service. A women who looks like a manager/teacher comes to take their order, obviously they are VIP’s du jour… and I think it is  Joel Berg who is here to give a lecture that I plan to attend. I saw the announcement in the entrance of the hall and I recognize him.

13:5o pm: I  must go as I was told sitting for the talk is limited and on first come first serve basis.

Return of the Rabbit


I love to rearrange leftovers. I learned this skill from my grandfather who was a master at making a splendid dish with a week’s worth of leftovers. Do you remember the Quick Apple Rabbit last week? I had frozen the leftovers and I served them last night with fresh green peas. It worked very well though it became a different dish. The apple taste got a bit lost but the  popping texture of the delicious fresh peas with the complex cream sauce  made up of for it.

Fresh Green Peas

I would highly recommend the double boiler technique to reheat delicate  dishes or sauces —it works great for mash potatoes, gravy, hollandaise, chocolate sauce. A double boiler is a double-decker sauce pan: the upper container fits tightly into a lower one filled with water. Make sure your lower container has always enough water. Whatever  is in the upper deck will be warmed up by steam and not by a direct flame. This is a more gentle method as you will have better control and it can also be used to keep things warm while you are having your cocktails. I  should mention here that I do not have a microwave and use this technique all the time.

Double boiler

Shell your fresh peas.
In a skillet melt 2 tablespoons of butter with a dash of oil, add the peas, lower the  heat and cover for about 6 minutes — that will depend on how big or mature your peas are.  Make sure they are not over cooked.
Once they are cooked add the to your rabbit, taste and adjust seasoning. I did add a generous “round” of fresh ground pepper.

And speaking of peas, here is my pea drawing from last year in homage of my friend “Petit Pois”:

Petit Pois

From the series "Many Body": Petit Pois

Pork superbug

Sadly this article doesn’t come as a surprise. How can animals living in CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation) be healthy? CAFO meat might be *cheap* but on it’s real cost is very high.

Pork superbug documented
As evidence mounts of deadly bacteria from CAFO pigs, will the FDA and the USDA act?

Posted by Tom Philpott at 9:33 PM on 27 Jan 2009

Last June, Iowa State researcher Tara Smith delivered preliminary results of a study linking the deadly, antibiotic-resistant pathogen MRSA to pigs in concentrated animal feedlot operations. Despite mounting evidence of the link from Canada and Europe, U.S. public-health officials had never formally studied the issue, even though MRSA kills something close to 20,000 Americans every year — more than AIDS.

In a must-read blog post at the time, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s ace health reporter Andrew Schneider documents the craven inaction of the FDA and the USDA as this public-health menace gained force. (I weighed in here.) As Schneider wrote:

An effective way to say there isn’t a problem is never to look. That seems to be precisely what most U.S. government food-safety agencies are doing when it comes to determining whether the livestock in our food supply is contaminated with MRSA and if so, whether the often-fatal bacterium is being passed on to consumers who buy and consume that meat

Now Smith’s research has been published in a peer-reviewed journal. Examining CAFOs scattered in Iowa and Illinois, Smith and her team found the MRSA strain in 49 percent of pigs and 45 percent of the workers who tend them. The sample size is small; more study must be done. Will the government undertake it?

A real reckoning with the MRSA-CAFO link could deliver a devastating blow to the meat industry. To keep animals alive while stuffed together by the thousands, standing in their own collected waste, it’s evidently necessary to dose them with lots of antibiotics. CAFO conditions destroy animal’s immune systems; antibiotics pick up the slack. Take them away, and the CAFO model might crumble.

That, presumably, is why the Bush agencies so studiously ignored the problem. Let’s hope the Obama FDA and USDA do better.

Update [2009-1-28 8:40:10 by Tom Philpott]:The Seattle PI’s indispensable Schneider reacts to the publication of Smith’s findings:

So I called some disease detectives and food safety specialists in agencies responsible for ensuring that our food supply is safe. You could almost hear them cringe over the phone. And, no, to the best of their knowledge, neither the FDA, USDA nor CDC had launched systematic testing of the U.S. meat supply for MRSA. One physician said that a study was being done on the MRSA strain (ST398) that Smith had found on the pigs but added, “I don’t think it has anything to do with meat.”

La Pwofitasyon: End Profitation

After 3 weeks of intense struggle in Guadeloupe —one of the French overseas “departments” in the Caribbean—during which one activist was shot dead and several others wounded, the LKP (Liyannaj Kont’ Pwofitasyon, or Collective Against Outrageous Exploitation) seems to have gotten the upper hand in their hard-fought battle. The  most talked about point was the demand for an immediate 200 euros salary raise, but the complete list had 120 demands. Among them one complaint that can be levelled across the board at the French Parisian centralized regime concerns the need for essential consideration of  Guadeloupe’s culture and language in the media. In fact, all regional cultures in France suffer from this neglect: my fellows Occitan activists  know this all too well.
Anyhow, our sisters and brothers in Guadeloupe (and let’s not forget  the people of Martinique, Reunion and Guyana  who are also fighting to end profitation) have been a serious inspiration.
In only a few weeks the people of Guadeloupe have managed to rally over 40 organizations, from various “greens” to several Trade Unions, to consumer rights activists & many others (including even a few right wingers!) under the LKP umbrella. Their leader is Elie Domota (on the video above it is him speaking in his native tongue). He is clearly serving the  common cause of the moment here, but he doesn’t hide his personal independantist leanings. I heard him give a very good interview on the radical French radio show Las-Bas Si J’y Suis. If you are francophone I highly recommend this truly radical radio show (also available on France Inter, you can download it as a podcast ) . The French government has good reasons to be freaked out, the atmosphere in metropolitan France is already pretty volatile as little president Sarkozy has only around 35% approval.
In solidarity, nine intellectuals from the region (Ernest Breleur, Patrick Chamoiseau, Serge Domi, Gérard Delver, Edouard Glissant, Guillaume Pigeard de Gurbert, Olivier Portecop, Olivier Pulvar, Jean-Claude William) published a manifesto entitled Manifeste pour les “produits” de haute nécessité”. This refreshing manifesto calls for human emancipation more than for revolution, and its concerns are sustainable change through responsibility and a desire  to make a poetics prevail over the prosaic. It is a true 21st century manifesto
and opens with a quote by Gilles Deleuze and another by  Aimé Cesaire from a letter he wrote to Maurice Thorez. I haven’t yet found an English translation — if you know of one, please let me know. This text should be taught in schools.
The struggle and the suffering of the people of this region kept under yoke one way or another, has been intense for centuries (none of this is talked about in French high schools!). I immensely enjoyed getting more familiar with their beautiful language and especially with the word : PWOFITASYON, PROFITATION.