Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Gong Xi Fah Choi

See here the steam of hot house flowers.
Welcome the New Year with mist.

See here the young boy sitting.
As the promise of the new is pervasive.
All when relished feels fresh
and the nowness is here calling.

In 1883 the heating plant exploded setting the main dome on fire. Railroad tycoon Charles Crocker donated funds for repair and the dome was restored. In 1906, the great San Francisco earthquake destroyed much of the city, but didn't significantly harm this "glass house."

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Right Place? Right Time?

O.K. I’m in fund development. It’s what I do, and so, since the arts & culture communities in the United States rely on the work that volunteers and fundraisers do, we all need to be realistic. And its helpful to be positive.

Like Pedro says in Napolean Dynamite, "If you vote for me all of your wildest dreams will come true."

I have been a little overwhelmed of recent how there are several quiet-ish, positive indicators out there that the economy might just be taking off. The NY Times reports…quietly?...(a little low-key, just on the cover of the business page) that the nation may be on the brink of a nineties-style expansion.

And the San Francisco Chronicle headlines “Robust economy forecast."

What’s this all about? Are these unmanned drones that are being sent out to spy upon and placate unsuspecting media readers?

Then there’s an article in today’s Chron that says, “…people must take initiative and do it themselves,” adding that "Each generation must discover its mission,” quoting Eddie Glaude Jr.


Is it a new age? Are we on the brink of something big?

Will stalled war, an accelerating economy and a necessary political push for new protocols – whether “democrat” or Republican – welcome a new apprehension for leadership in the U.S.? Am I, all of a sudden, in the really right place at the really right time?

O.K. And the other thing I want to know is – Why was Night at the Museum the 50th best box office draw in movies since the history of tracking box office draw in movies, grossing $233,295,750 on December 22, 2006?

I still ain't seen it yet. It had Adam Sandler, or maybe Ben Stiller and Robin Williams or something…but when did this nation want to get behind the scenes of a museum so bad? And how did this movie, too, go sorta under-the-radar, in terms of success?

OMG. Do I trust these indicators? Do they qualify? Together do they mean that, within the rubric of my life -- to work in a museum provides a good service that people want, to take responsibility for working effectively with others to achieve success and to be confident that the financial resources will be available are a series of reasonable assumptions?

I'm comin' up with a five-year plan, man. And it don't look so bad.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


When I went to www.britneyspears.com today it was "broke." There was a pretty, pink, slowly-loading "Under Construction" equivalent -- a faux baroque frame enclosed the words, "Stay tuned! Britney's new web site is in the works..."

Why?! What happened? Where all of those public letters and apologies for public indiscretions?

Really, I've mainly posted this hoping that maybe, just maybe I might draw some more traffic by loading not only the most sought after two words in English typing "Britney" and "Spears," but I have here loaded pictures as well. Come to me surfers. Come to me. And dear Neva, please come to me.

And amongst the "13 Sexy Men Who Are Real and Alive," Neva sayz: "I could go on about the erotic appeal of Peter Lorre or why Justin Timberlake should be served with chocolate sauce...I rest, so that you may digest."

[Translator's note: Dear Britney, Please call Justin. Call J.T. Let him save you already. Let him come over, make it alright and send the babies to famlee for carin' and a li'l luv. Yer makin' 'em smell like cigarettes.]

And, in case you were curious...as to "The Six Sexiest Men Who Used To Be Alive" Neva writes, "Jacques Derrida (philosopher): The father of deconstruction was the hottest theorist on two legs..." Oh, Neva, put on that "star of david" necklace and celeb my reality already. Or at least write me.

Friday, February 09, 2007


According to Horkheimer and Adorno, the source of today's calamity is a pattern of blind domination, domination in a triple sense: the domination of nature by human beings, domination of nature within human beings, and, in both of these forms of domination, the domination of some human beings by others.

What motivates such triple domination is an irrational fear of the unknown: "Humans believe themselves free of fear when there is no longer anything unknown. This has determined the path of demythologization . . . . Enlightenment is mythical fear radicalized" (DE 11).

In an unfree society whose culture pursues so-called progress no matter what the cost, that which is "other," whether human or nonhuman, gets shoved aside, exploited, or destroyed.

- from Stanford's Plato site


I have to say, "Yesterday was a great day." I was up at five.

My almost-eight-month-old son Emil was craning his neck to see me. And he was going “deh, deh, deh,” with the biggest smile on his face.

Work was a blast. The Museum had one of its highest weekday attendances in recent history. And we had several important donors come through.

As if the day had not had enough going on, there was a threat that the electricity might go out, because the decades-old wiring on the present building was wearing out. Museum visitors were given flashlights. I saw a woman reading one of the embroidered texts by flashlight, and it all felt so important, activist, necessary.

View Holocaust Survivor Esther Nisenthal Krinitz on FORA.tv
View Holocaust Survivor Esther Nisenthal Krinitz on FORA.tv

Toward the end of the long day, there was a scheduled public educational program with Israeli artist David Behar speaking in the Museum’s Reutlinger gallery.

At one point he played some video from his laptop presentation and you could hear the mashing churning noises of a kibbutz machine shop. It was edgy. And through the gallery’s entry I could see museum visitors taking in the fabric art of Esther Nisenthal Krinitz.

The two worlds, in a sense, we’re combining, made for each other, cathartic, important. I really felt like we were all in a vital art and culture colony, a gathering place, a Mecca. It was a crystalline moment that I will cherish for some time to come.

I had to run. I was going to be on the radio. KALX’s Soap Box Derby with Jesse Townley.

I drove to downtown Berkeley. There was a basketball game; so parking was a little scarce. I had to park on the roof of a lot. From that rooftop, I could see the great Berkeley vista, the Bay Area. It was nighttime and the puddles reflected light and oil patches rainbowed promise. And I knew this view from the promise of a new Magnes downtown. There I was almost to-campus, and due to be on the radio.

I was on the radio and I rambled. We were all over the place. When we started out Jesse said to me before going on air that we weren’t going to talk just about Magnes, but instead the whole identity-based cultural exploration thing. I knew this was going to be a disjointed conversation. I even cited Adorno...nice.

It was fine and fun. It really was just talk. And my dad listened on the Internet back in Maryland. Top of the world, Ma.

Baruch atah Adonai eloheynu melech haolam shehechiyanu vekiyemanu vehigianu lazman hazeh. amen.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Where I Left My Heart

Y'know, I just had a great day "in the City." And around these parts that means San Francisco.

When I first arrived I resented San Francisco being known as "the City." Having come only a few years ago -- and that number's growing to be some four years now -- from the NYC and having traveled a fair amount, I did not think SF deserved any grand moniker and certainly not "the City."

I live in Oakland. And there's a whole rhetoric, even t-shirts around the "competition." One of the cooler groups DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT is Oaklandish. Actually they just parked their sales van at the end of our block.

The thing is I just fell in love with San Francisco, and maybe for the first time. I just had a fantastic day IN THE CITY. Karen, Emil and I went to a presentation by our friend Patricia Bruvry and her fellow quilters about African traditions at the Public Library.

Today was my first time in the SF Public Library building. It's very important, with its centrality, homeless population, civic engagement and fantastic art commissions by artists such as Nayland Blake, Enrique Chagoya, Ann Chamberlain and Ann Hamilton.

Then we went for eats at Flippers in Hayes Valley. Oh, the food, the people, the sense of unlimited oxygen and the gorgeous banners what read "haYESvalley." I love those banners because they seem to be some brilliant, ad-smart local's throwaway thought that decorates everyone else's world, in which the Business Council and the City have invested. And the whole areas only a several-block big region.

So, I get home, and I'm, um, blogging...and I check a review on Flippers and there's one user comment:

Arkay ate...Never again “With all the great burgers available in SF, I would not spend time or money on Flippers. The burgers are average, but the rats running across the patio makes this a "no go" in my book.” 12/26/2006 1:36:53 PM

The burgers was great, by the way. But, see, that's part of the thing...you can't go to the Symphony in SF without stumbling across swollen-faced drunks, hookers outta the 70's and homeless folks remarkably most willing to break your comfort zone.

After Flippers (no rats) we went to Citizen Cake. We enjoyed Irish Coffees, a glass of Muscat for Karen and a bowl of sorbets -- pink grapefruit, bloodred orange and passion fruit.

I have a vivid memory as child of playing Trivial Pursuit. There was a question about San Francisco that I did not understand:

TRIVIAL PURSUIT: Q: What city did the Reverend Billy Graham say is "...so beautiful, I hesitate to preach about heaven while I'm here."

A: San Francisco

That's right -- this den of iniquity: it's rats; whores; and Mayors cheating on their friends with their friends wives; assassinated civic leaders as well as Big Brother and the Holding Co. all resonant and resident floating on all this extra oxygen.

I fell in love for the first time when I visited the Legion of Honor. I fell in love for the first time when I first met the new de Young.

Today was a beautiful day.

And now I'm home. And my Oakland's fine, real fine.


View Conversations on Art on FORA.tv
View Conversations on Art on FORA.tv

This was a great program at the Museum that served as a forum mainly for Prof. Ken Goldberg.

Ken's a brave cat who's been doing his thing for many years, formidably, seriously and with high acclaim.

He is a super sweet and encouraging guy with a super talented wife.

Also on the panel were Meredith Tromble, and Jim Gibson.

Also, The big JK -- Jonathon Keats and Magnes Chief Curator Alla Efimova, Ph.D.

I'm so jazzed that Magnes programs now live on "in perpetuity" on-line.

And as to the Sounds of Silence -- check it...the big JK's got a silent ringtone. And after you load the ringtone, download the wallpaper fer just something like $1.99.

Frances Dinkelspiel on Gavin Newsom Affair in the Media

From Ghost Word posted Friday, February 02, 2007

I really wasn’t all that excited by the news that San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom had an
affair with the wife of his campaign manager. But I guess I am in the minority. The Chronicle’s website got a record number of hits Thursday, garnering 4.8 million hits.

That’s 400,000 more than its last record-breaking day, which was Election Day 2006, according to Editor and Publisher.

In recognition of the importance of new media over old, the Chronicle decided to break the news of the affair on its web site rather than waiting for the next day’s newspaper. SFGate posted the article at 8 pm on Wednesday.

"Even two years ago, there would have been one article and there would have been a great debate about posting it on the Web the night before," Peter Negulescu, the Chronicle's vice president for digital media, told Editor and Publisher. "Today, we push it out to the Web site, it gets picked up by people like Drudge and Google News and the next day people are commenting on it. The press conference comes, we have raw feed of the video and the amount of content we can package around it is huge."

(For more from Frances Dinkelspiel's BLOG Ghost Word click here).