Things Consumed

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Saturday, January 26, 2008


Poems are organized into books; pictures are organized into portfolios; songs are organized into albums.

I'm not sure I approve of the random feature on digital music players. Perhaps it is my own fault, for listening to electronic instrumental music and not always being certain which band I'm listening to when I have several new albums loaded. But I liked the way songs were grouped, often very logically, into albums.

The length of the albums was technology based: vinyl records could only hold so much music, and so sets of songs were chosen that worked out to about the right amount of time. Yet... If you look at albums from bands like Radiohead, or Nine Inch Nails, it's clear that there are relationships between the songs on an album. They work together, or they are from the same era, or they share certain patterns... Some of those relationships are quite well designed to give an album a particular quality. The Fragile has songs that flow into one another, where sounds from one song continue into the beginning of the next track, and that flow only makes sense when they are played in a particular sequence.

If I don't listen to the album a few times in the provided sequence, I think I might be missing something that I was intended to notice.

It's not clear that the entire concept of an "album" will continue to be relevant, if you download the songs you want - there's no longer a structural framework created by the limitations on technology (on how much music fits in uncompressed form on a long playing record, or an audio cassette, or a compact disk), and so there isn't necessarily a reason to release music in batches/collections/albums. I'm curious as to whether or not musicians will continue to release "albums," or if they will draw other relationships between their songs. ('This one goes with the other 'blue' music I did three years ago - listen to this song with those pieces. This one, on the other hand, starts a new set...')


posted by Arlene (Beth)6:47 PM


Hold On, I'm Coming

Do any of my readers have this album by Art Blakey? Either the 1966 (or 1967) release, or the re-release in 2003-ish?

In July of 1993, I began subscribing to CMJ New Music Monthly (, a pop music magazine that comes with a CD full of music. It may be hard to imagine this, but getting a promotional CD in the mail every month seemed like a really great thing in the ancient days when radio was becoming miserable, but before you could just download songs from the Internet onto all the mobile devices that hadn't yet been invented... Anyway, during the decade or so that I subscribed, they had music by all sorts of groups that inspired me to buy their albums, from pop, to electronic, to jazz, to hip hop. On one disk, they had a version of Hold On, I'm Coming, entirely instrumental, from Art Blakey. It was a promo for the re-release.

I LOVE this version of this song. I can't find it anywhere, of course - the song or that particular issue of the CD. All I really want to hear is that one song (though it sounds like the album was fine), and so I'm not really willing to order 'collectors edition' original LPs from great distances. No, it's not available on iTunes.

If you don't have it, (I can't believe I'm about to write this) check to see if your parents have it (if they are, you know, cool). And find out if they might be willing to loan it to me. Or record it for me. Or find some other way to share it.


posted by Arlene (Beth)5:03 PM

Thursday, January 24, 2008



I always said I wouldn't start up a photoblog, because I have too much going on already. But now that I can take low-res images on my phone and post by simply e-mailing them to a blog from my phone, there's no real reason NOT to have one. is the beginning of another fun compulsion... Or the same compulsion with different tools. Or something along those lines.

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posted by Arlene (Beth)9:43 PM


A new article by me is up at Wet plate collodion studio rental in San Francisco profiles the wet collodion program at RayKo Photo Center (, where Michael Shindler is providing fabulous facilities to enable people to take up wet plate work.

RayKo is where I've been experimenting with ferrotypes and ambrotypes. Yes, I have a lot more work that I haven't shown or posted. Yes, I know I should.


posted by Arlene (Beth)9:42 PM

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Next, I walked uphill in the snow both ways

I was riding the Emery-Go-Round shuttle with the interim software developer for our office last night. She's a nice young woman, and we often speak on the shuttle. We were discussing software, and I opined that the tools available now are much nicer than the tools developers used to use. She asked what tools I'd used. I mentioned that I'd had an internship in McKesson's Computer and Information Services group in the 1980s, and had reviewed COBOL programs that ran on McKesson's mainframe, which wasn't ideal because I thought COBOL was too verbose and clumsy; I had used the Internet extensively before there was a web using UNIX environments, and in college was able to play with Sun's SPARCstations (running UNIX or Sun OS, though I might have said Solaris (which came later)) and NeXT boxes running NEXTSTEP (which I LOVED); and that I had a web presence (once the web's graphical interface arrived) from 1996 or so...

Her comment: "I wasn't born yet."

I laughed. She's a legal adult, and WAS born after most of this stuff was around, but it doesn't feel that way. I'd might as well be talking about the telegraph. Or about my paternal grandmother working in a telephone exchange in Ohio, taking the stereo-like (mono) plugs and manually connecting people with little cables...

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posted by Arlene (Beth)7:04 AM

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Modernity beeps: I answer.

I upgraded to OS X Leopard last night, watched the introductory video (which was, as so many things Mac does, targeted directly at me: the guy in the demo appealed to my demographic perfectly, from the glasses, to the haircut, to fit-but-not-too-fit, down to even the subtle hint of gray in his hair - the perfect balance between 'hot' and 'might steal your favorite books'), and activated my iPhone.

Yes. I caved. My very first wireless phone is an iPhone. Apple finally persuaded me that the technology was worth it.

Those of you who call me regularly were e-mailed the number earlier today. Those of you who don't, drop me a line, and we'll connect.

Yes, it was absolutely practical from my own home block, when I logged into and learned that the next bus was hiding over the hill, just two minutes away, and so I should stay put and let it catch up. I [heart]

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posted by Arlene (Beth)8:21 PM

Sunday, January 20, 2008


Yes, Virginia, there is a news feed for this blog.

Up there, up near the top of the page! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's... a link to subscribe to the feed for this blog, so you can read it on your reader, or aggregator, or home page, or whatever you use to read feeds you subscribe to.

Does it work? I certainly hope so.

Thank you, friends who have pressured me to setting up a feed for so very long. Sorry I kept you waiting.


posted by Arlene (Beth)2:33 PM


Life expands to fill its container.

Alternative title: if I became officially obsessive-compulsive tomorrow, there would be no noticible difference in this blog.

I spent more than an hour this morning drinking green tea and watching heavy clouds blow slowly over our living room window. I had to force myself to do this pleasant thing: my mind was so full of things to do that I was overwhelmed, and adding 'watching clouds for at least one hour' to my virtual list seemed like a wise, moderating thing to do. If I don't have time to watch clouds, I'm living incorrectly; I am thus pretending that by watching the clouds, I have corrected a grave error in my lifestyle.

I've previously described a sort of anxiety that sometimes strikes me on Friday night, when I realize that I will have upwards of 48 hours which I have not sold to an employer, in which I might accomplish some of the many, many goals I have set for myself. I have enjoyed discussing this situation with other motivated people, from a mother of a young child who, upon leaving her distant job to stay home for a few months to manage the baby and deal with contractors repairing her new home, who couldn't believe that she ever had time to ALSO work a full time job, to a retired friend whose life is filled with singing, acting lessons, and volunteer work. These friends are a relief, because I can commiserate with them about the fullness of life in a way that is not possible with a few young friends who spend their weekends watching television, drinking alcohol, and shopping, which they often summarize in one word: "bored." I simply cannot imagine having time to be bored.


For my own amusement, here is the to-do list that was interfering with my relaxation this morning, because of the obvious improbability of completing even a fraction of the items on it today:
wash laundry (towels, bedding) * mop the kitchen floor * dust the bedroom * review (and recycle) the week's non-social mail * print cyanotype photograms of pasta (three new shapes!) * print cyanotypes and develop them in different concentrations of acetic acid for my forthcoming article at * adjust cyanotypes with both acidic and basic chemicals to see how it affects their tonal range * test out sodium carbonate addition to fixer while printing vandykes to see if denser browns can be achieved * work up a shopping list of supplies needed for my photography projects (hypo clear, Polaroid 667, and ?) * figure our where books go in my Google books library once I "add" them, and how to share that library (if possible) * publish a web gallery of pinhole photos * publish a list of reviews of all movies I've rented through a DVD-by-mail service * publish a gallery of the first 48 color contact sheets made during my 2004 sabbatical (because they are pretty, and because they illustrate the concept of 'digital asset management' as something that sucks up my time) * scan orchid photos for my agency * brighten my protea ferrotype gallery so it looks good on the average monitor (and not just my ViewSonic or Steven's Mac monitor) * put a second coat of sandarac varnish on just about every wet collodion print I've made recently * publish new galleries of my most recent wet collodion session * publish a gallery of the images I've taken with the Kodak Duaflex my dad found in my grandfather's attic * publish my camera museum page (or modify Words About Pictures to include the same information) * put away laundry * cook something for dinner * bake two cranberry apple pies * make envelopes using some cool paper I've recently acquired * write letters * catch up on social e-mail * breathe * organize the postcards I've received from my postcard exchange group, and figure out who to send what to * prepare Happy New Year cards for the people on my postcard mailing list who don't know why I've stopped sending them (because the printer can't handle my monochrome work) * clean up my various messes around the house * lounge around * drink even more tea while blogging about tea (two new types!).
The way I usually manage such lists is to take on the five most necessary things, and leave the really fun things for later. But that's not very satisfying. (Happily, I've left off the many things I've already accomplished today. I'm pretending that makes me seem more balanced.)

This list changes all the time, of course, and I work out variations of my current priorities in the paper diaries (which I bind by hand, when I have time) that I fill so rapidly heading to and from work on my long commute.

And to think I wonder why I can't keep up on my reading.

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posted by Arlene (Beth)2:20 PM

Thursday, January 17, 2008


The smell of lavender.

My home currently smells of sandarac varnish. Which contains oil of lavender.

Which is so pleasant.


posted by Arlene (Beth)9:27 PM

Monday, January 14, 2008


Teaism? Yes, teaism.

As you've gathered, I drink a lot of tea, both "real" tea (from the special camellia plant that all true tea comes from) and herbal infusions. I drink green tea most often. I drink it for many reasons: I like the taste, I like to drink something warm, I like the fact that it's good for me... But I also have a sort of ideal of the idea of drinking tea. It is something that I like to do slowly, methodically, and thoughtfully. It can be very meditative to do. Really, as an independent Zen Buddhist, many ordinary things should be meditative for me to do, if I am living correctly, and my enjoyment of acting mindfully is part of what made me realize that I should identify myself as philosophically Buddhist.

I am a detail-oriented person who is usually wholly engaged in what I am doing, especially in my job(s). I have landed in a stressful profession (law), where every ounce of my attention, a great deal of patience, and continuous persistence are required for even mundane legal projects. I am often expected to do dozens of things at once, each of which is on an urgent deadline and composed of many smaller parts, some of which are quite complex, others of which are quite tedious. There is an urgency, often false, about nearly everything, and I pick it up and flow with it.

I am also the sort of person that takes inordinate pleasure in being completely absorbed in one activity: taking a hot, scented bath; feeling the texture of clean sheets against my skin; walking quietly through a forest; studying and drawing the lines on a leaf; or sitting on a beach with my bare feet in the sand and my eyes closed, listening to waves. Of course I like to really sit and wholly, completely enjoy a cup of tea. It's a relief from all of the unnecessary multi-tasking of life, a mental spa vacation in a small cup.


I realized today that Google likely has some of the classics written about tea on line. Of course they do. The Book of Tea, by Okakura-Kakuzo (from Google Book Search) ( is from 1906, and it is the perfect thing for me to read right now. It has some great quotes. On the very first page is this:
Teaism is a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence.
This is clearly my kind of book. Here is another good one:
Those who cannot feel the littleness of great things in themselves are apt to overlook the greatness of little things in others.
And it uses the word "fain" several times. When was the last time you read a book that used the word "fain?" I bet it's been too long.


P.S. Oooh! Oooh! "...the simpering innocence of cocoa." (That may make up for a few missing pages and the scan of the thumb on page 101 of the PDF.) Oh, and there's a fabulous tirade against cutting flowers for arrangements. I enjoyed this very much.

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posted by Arlene (Beth)7:31 PM

Saturday, January 12, 2008


Give us this day our daily bread.

For the longest time, I couldn't figure out why so many cultures based their diets on or around bread. It made no sense to me at all. I had no idea that we weren't really talking about the same food.


One of my favorite anthropology books, Women's Work: The First 20,000 Years by Elizabeth Wayland Barber, talked about how women involved in the textile trade ate:
Their food rations seem to us a strange diet: wheat and figs.
(See page 221 in the 1994 printing of the book.) The author goes on to explain that most people only ate meat rarely, if at all (and relays comments from Socrates about how festivals where animals were slaughtered gave the populace stomach aches, because the flesh was distributed to people to eat, and they had trouble digesting it), and that this odd diet was likely supplemented with wild veggies including onions and celery, and perhaps spices such as coriander, cumin, and fennel. The big question to me was: how could a person live on wheat and figs? I also recall reading novels, perhaps including Gene Wolfe's series about Latro, which related that people of the time ate wheat, olive oil, and wine. (Wikipedia on ancient Greek cuisine provides the same list.) I could not figure out how any survived on that.

What I didn't understand was that people back then weren't processing wheat into nutritionless white flour like we do today. They were using whole, perishable wheat with the nutrition-filled "germ" included. Wheat germ contains folic acid, fat, protein, a wide range of minerals and vitamins, fiber... Minimally processed wheat is and was an actual nutritious food!

Those nutrients which make the germ nutritionally worthwhile also make wheat spoil. All natural human foods (except honey) spoil: removing the germ allows the leftover bits of wheat to have a long shelf life. Processed flour can last for years; whole grain flours spoil relatively quickly. Processed flours can be more profitable, then, because you can sell the same crop for a long time without having to throw out spoiled product. It means the product isn't much of a food, however, and that's why most flours you buy in stores have to be "enriched" to put back some of the nutrients that were removed in processing. Most of the bread that I see in stores, and that I tasted growing up, is made from heavily processed flours. My parents were health-conscious, so we had whole wheat bread, but it was very, very, very soft, which makes me suspect that it was made with processed white flour with a bit of whole wheat flour added later to give it a little color.


My mother grew up eating bread made by a small, Eastern European bakery that catered to the tastes of bread eaters of her culture: most of the breads she ate you would now describe as "hard." Rye, sour rye, and caraway rye were popular, and she ate them all the time. They were firm breads, and very dark. Many of the rye breads I see on shelves now are made with a combination of white processed wheat flour and rye, making them pale and soft.

There's a bread I like quite a bit called pumpernickel. Translated from German, it means something along the lines of "flatulence goblin," based on the idea that it was whole-grain rye and difficult to digest. I tasted something close to the real thing in childhood: when I was little, my mother would buy long, tiny loaves of pumpernickel to eat with spreads - they were a lot like crackers in sturdiness, but were thicker and softer. (I don't see that bread in stores now.)

I've had quite a bit of pumpernickel in local sandwich shops, which I mostly chose for the color, but it turned out that it wasn't real pumpernickel. To quote Wikipedia on Pumpernickel:
A separate pumpernickel bread tradition has grown up in America. The American pumpernickel loaf approximates the dark color of traditional German pumpernickel by adding molasses, coffee, cocoa powder, or other darkening agents. In addition to coloring and flavor agents, American bakers often add wheat flour (to provide gluten structure and increase rising) and commercial yeast (to quicken the rise compared to a traditional sourdough). Because of the ways in which American bakers have changed the original German recipe, and for economic reasons, they tend to eschew the long slow baking that is characteristic of German pumpernickel. The result is a loaf that resembles commercial American rye bread -- a bread made with a mix of wheat and rye flour -- but with darker coloring.
That explains a few things.

I haven't been to Germany to eat the real thing, so I picked up some imported German pumpernickel made in Westphalia. You might have seen these little square bricks of bread in health food stores, near all of those odd, giant whole grain crackers from Europe. I was suspicious, because the package claimed that the bread was good for about six months if left unopened. I tested this by letting it sit in my cupboard for a couple of months, and there was no apparent change. I opened it up and ate it with soft, fresh cheese.

It's not like the pumpernickel that I've bought in stores, which was like ordinary soft wheat & rye stained a new color. This was more like... Like cooked, wild rice pressed into squares. The grains were the approximate size of the Japonica rice I eat now, but are an even deeper color - nearly black. Instead of being made up of soft, cottony bits of bread separated by a series of air bubbles, this looks like pressed rice with air spaces in between where the rice wouldn't bend. It's firm - not hard, but firm - a slice will remain straight when you hold it out sideways, even with cheese on it. You can crease it and break a slice evenly, rather than having it tear. It's dry, and well suited to spreadable cheeses. It has a clean, rye taste. And each slice of the particular brand I tried has 16% of your day's dietary fiber(!), 3 grams of protein(!), 10% of your day's iron(!), and several other vitamins and minerals. ONE SLICE.

The ingredients to this particular brand of preservative-free bread are: whole kernel rye, water, sugar beet syrup, salt, malt extract, and yeast. That's it.

I'll eat more of this, perhaps with hummus or some of my other vegan spreads.


We're lucky to have a range of artisan bakers in the SF Bay Area. They offer a variety of heavenly breads that put those sliced loaves you see in plastic bags in your supermarket to shame. Some of their breads are white, some are whole grain, and many are a mixture. Most of the bakers on this list make relatively soft breads. Some of my favorite bakers:

-Acme Bread ( They make a green olive bread that will stun you with its heavenly generosity of olives.
-Grace Baking (, "Good Bread Daily." Not all of their specialty breads are listed on their website. Their olive breads are wonderful, and their specialty breads in unexpected flavors are irresistible - if you see something unfamiliar or unexpected, try it.
-Metropolis Baking Co. ( Last week I enjoyed a whole wheat sourdough (which was a lovely shade of brown) with walnuts and scallions in it. It was amazing.
-Semifreddi's Handcrafted Breads and Pastries ( Their long baguettes are seen in many markets. If you have a chance, try out their walnut levain.

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posted by Arlene (Beth)5:44 PM

There really is no visual standard for monitors, is there? I'm making adjustments to my wet plate collodion galleries over at, which look really good on the two monitors I test here at home, but which aren't legible on the monitors we have at work. Which means they probably aren't legible on many monitors, which is a shame. So I'm tinkering.


posted by Arlene (Beth)4:39 PM

Friday, January 11, 2008


I [heart] genmaicha

This evening we went out with my favorite cousin for a meal at Samovar Tea Lounge (, which is a vegetarian-friendly place for Asian-inspired, very tasty, creative, light meals and absolutely marvelous tea. There are two locations of Samovar now (one in the Castro on 18th, the other in Yerba Buena Gardens near SFMoMA), and we went to the original, Castro location.

I was able to try a new tea with dinner, largely because it was paired with the dinner of my choice automatically. I ordered the "Japanese Tonsu Box & Ryokucha," with poached tofu. The ryokucha was automatically paired with it, which made sense: it is the same tea that they pour over 'tea soup' (ochazuke) when that is on the menu, and the tonsu box was basically the same delicious ingredients usually found in ochazuke (plus salad) without tea in it.

Samovar's ryokucha is a mix of matcha and sencha with rice - a lovely blended genmaicha, which is my favorite breakfast green tea. It has a bright green color, and a very smooth flavor - not too dominant, but very pleasant. I think it would go well with just about anything I would be inclined to eat.

I'm glad the ryokucha came with my dinner, because I might otherwise stick to my usual favorites - Monkey Picked Iron Goddess of Mercy (hot) or the lychee black (chilled) - and miss out on this uplifting genmaicha that was disguised with a simple name.


posted by Arlene (Beth)10:20 PM


White Tea Variations.

I was first introduced to white tea by a great foodie friend of mine, who loves the tea for its anti-oxidant properties - something she could use more of, since her Type I diabetes prevents her from getting anti-oxidants as I do from fruit. White tea is made from the same plant as all true teas, the camellia sinensis (which comes in thousands of varieties), but it is picked very early and only includes remarkably new growth. It is lower in caffeine than my beloved green teas, and milder in flavor. (You can learn more than you've planned at Wikipedia - White Tea, of course.) It is subtle.

I haven't had any in a while, and noticed that the Republic of Tea now carries a collection of ten white teas, all but one of which is flavored with fruit, or at least 'natural fruit flavor.' I picked up a can of persimmon white tea, which comes in a special tin (which may be a hint that it's priced differently than the other tins on the shelf). I rushed home and prepared some for myself and Steven.

Steven's review: "This is wrong."

I'm the big tea drinker here, so I should be able to articulate the strange novelty of this tea more specifically. When they say it is flavored with natural persimmon flavor, they really mean it is flavored with natural persimmon flavor. This tea is brewed very quickly - from thirty to sixty seconds - and you taste persimmons. If you brew it any longer than 60 seconds, or perhaps even fifty if you're using boiling water, which you really shouldn't do, but which I did on the first try, persimmons are just about all you taste. The instructions on the label, which insist on not-quite-boiling water and fast steeping times, really must be followed for this to taste like the makers intend. When brewed as carefully as directed, it still tastes primarily of persimmons, but in a nice, light way.

I'm not sure I recommend this drink for fans of other types of tea, because the tea flavor is so very delicate and the caffeine content is too low for the addicts in my social circle. (You know who you are. Stop twitching. If you can.) It is novel. It is healthy. I will drink it and get my $12+ worth. But it hasn't yet grown on me, or inspired the level of passion that a cup of Monkey Picked Iron Goddess of Mercy from Samovar Tea can.


I've eaten quite a few persimmons recently, thanks to my friends who got all 'persimmoned out' during the holidays. I've received two types of fresh, tomato-shaped (fuyu-type) persimmons and one kind of dried, sliced persimmons. I ate them all (except for one mushy soft one that I must have dropped, and one that I coerced Steven into eating, so he could say he'd had one), including the yellow persimmons that I was convinced would never turn that lovely, unique shade of orange-vermilion that I like, but they did. The friend who brought the second batch over apologized that they were "tree persimmons," by which he meant that a colleague was growing them in their yard, and so they weren't one of the commercial varieties - all persimmons grow on trees, and they're quite lovely in winter with just the bright fruit hanging there. They're also surprisingly pretty in cross section, which I hadn't realized until another friend brought me the dried slices.

They don't really taste like any other fruit to me, so it is difficult to compare them to anything else. (Water chestnuts and lychee also fall into this category with me.) They are sweet, more mild in flavor than their color suggests, and almost imply... what brown sugar would taste like if it was extracted from baked sweet potatoes. (Does that even make sense?)

My favorite 'suggested use' for persimmons comes from Larry, who learned from his parents to arrange persimmons in a decorative bowl until they begin to break down, at which time they should be thrown out. (Modern update: they should now be composted.)

I think I will soon be 'persimmoned out' also, but that's alright: it's now peak orange, mandarin orange, tangerine, and other citrus fruit season, and so there are other auspiciously colored fruits around for me to enjoy.

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posted by Arlene (Beth)10:00 PM

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Tea: a film.

We recently went out to see All In This Tea ( at the fabulous Roxie Theater (, which is a digitally filmed documentary about an SF Bay Area man who turned his passion for artisan green teas into a business. The film follows David Hoffman as explores China in person, seeking small farmers whose traditional, small scale farms produce very high quality tea, around which he created a business to import and sell in the U.S.

Most of the film involves Hoffman struggling against Chinese government bureaucracy. which is pro-mass production and uniformity, as he tries to win the right to purchase the unique, usually organic teas he wants directly from farmers, rather than the teas that the factories wish to sell him.

The countryside looks stark. The lives of small farmers look hard. And the job of working in a factory, manually removing stems from tiny tea leaves looks maddening, even though one of the factories shown looked like it was well ventilated and well lit, and the women looked more sane than I do on the average day. (Which isn't saying much, admittedly.)

It's a good documentary, and the audience reacted well to some of the wilder characters who appeared to speak about tea. (There's one whose drama is about on par with Liberace.) It also had a familiar feeling, in that it was a documentary about SF Bay Area culture in many ways as well. You see the Berkeley Himalayan Festival, visit a few of our local tea specialists, and express no surprise that the main character in the documentary lives in Marin and grows artisan wheat. (Wouldn't we all if our yards were larger? :-))


posted by Arlene (Beth)10:00 PM

Saturday, January 05, 2008


Rainy day fanaticism

Ginn Wall Hardware cyanotype photographic print by Arlene Elizabeth GravesOur first REAL winter storm in ages started slamming the SF Bay Area late this week, and I am enjoying it. The air smells good; the clouds are lovely and dramatic-looking; we've had thunder and pouring, pouring rain... The only sad thing is that we lost our twenty-foot lavatera, whose trunks twisted and split in the remarkable wind of the storm.

I'm hoping to gather the flowers from the toppled shrub and use them to make photograms tomorrow, if they haven't all wilted.


I've been completely obsessed with photographic printing, and have been using every spare moment to stand in my very cold garage workspace, testing out various combinations of printing times, new chemical washes, and other things that would bore you to tears if I were to write about them in detail.

(What was that? You're heartier than I give you credit for? Okay. How's this: I'm printing vandyke brown prints on Fabriano paper again, but I'm finding that my new technique (citric acid wash, 3% sodium thiosulfate fix, hypo clear wash, water rinse, and extremely weak selenium toning) is bleaching the highlights and overall depth out of my prints, even though the tonal relationships are otherwise... Don't slump over like that. Hey! Wake up! Stay with me! HEY!)

It's like that sort of panic I used to have on Friday nights, when I realized that I had less than 48 hours to myself, and I had to get all of the work I wanted to create out of that limited time period. I have been relentless. Tired, but also relentless. But it feels really satisfying. I feel like a person of substance again, and not just a commuter drone.

Anyway, I'm producing a lot of "new" work, most of which are prints of negatives I shot a long time ago but haven't ever printed, or haven't yet printed to my satisfaction. I am ready to show some of the new prints.

In addition to the two wet plate collodion on aluminum galleries I linked to previously at, I've posted two more: Signs of Chinatown (Cyanotype Prints), which I think I can say are some of the best cyanotypes I've yet printed, and Every-No Where: Mass Housing Part I, which is a combination of medium format color and black and white prints of large-scale, look-alike housing here in San Francisco.

Every-No Where was all shot at one site, but I am working at other locations around the City. San Francisco has a reputation for the variety of its architecture, but one of the odder things about that to me is the sameness of a very large percentage of the City's housing. I live in a house that was built in 1924, which once looked virtually identical to all but a handful of homes on my block. The homes have been modified over the years in various ways, but they were part of a project by a developer that used the same plan over and over... So the variety in my own neighborhood of the City is rather limited. You'll see examples of this in the future from me.


I recently realized how much time I spend cleaning house, and how much more art I could make if I used that time instead to print in my darkroom.

It's a very dangerous revelation to have.


I have a bit of food writing to do, but it will have to wait until I play with my prints a bit more.

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posted by Arlene (Beth)7:20 PM


Turning! (rrrrr, rrrr, rrrrrrr!) Tossing and turning! (rrrrr, rrrr, rrrrrrrr!) My love is burning me down...

I think part of the reason I like this Smoking Popes song (which I was reminded of because it plays during the credits of Clueless, the Beverly Hills remake of Jane Austen's Emma, which I watched Thursday night), is that the song sounds like a punk song as performed by Morrissey, singing lead for Joy Division who, inexplicably, were performing recently discovered songs Sinatra wrote but never performed.

If that makes any sense at all.


posted by Arlene (Beth)7:14 PM

Thursday, January 03, 2008

'Need You Around. Wow. That is a really good Smoking Popes song. How long has it been since I heard that? And did I lose custody of that CD in the breakup of... 96ish?


posted by Arlene (Beth)9:56 PM

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