Friday, October 28, 2011

i can understand it

image credit...

oh what a time the 70's were. bell bottoms, qiana shirts, platform shoes, the gold chain, the nik-nik shirt, double belted high waisted baggie trousers, afros, r&b, the evolution of disco, the emergence of punk, the gentrification of shabby chic.....

this is one of the 1st songs i remember hearing in a gay bar. there was a small little disco called pq's on the near north side of chicago. i was 15 when i first folded in with the crowd there. sometimes that tiny dance floor would be packed. a person couldn't move really, so there was a lot of repeating moves and shifting weight.

the original version was by the song's author bobby womack. much later in my life, i realized just why this particular song had been so popular with my gay comrades. it speaks of tolerance. and a different kind of love. a lover that is only part time, a love that requires understanding. you do yours.. i'll do mine... i can understand it...

i can understand it... lyrics by bobby womack..

I know everybody realizes that a man works
Better when he works out of his own band
Can you understand that? I can understand that

Woah, yeah, yeah
Something sweet as a candy bar
My girl in need
Thats what you are
Oh, I, I can understand it

Jack and Jill going up the hill
Storybooks and fairytales
I, I can understand it

And if our love gets to be anything but this
If someone gets to feel your warm and tender kiss
Oh, tell me, baby, how will I ever understand it, baby?

Get on down, baby
Gonna do it on the good foot, yeah
Gonna do it on the right foot, baby
Gonna do it on the left foot, baby

Look here, yall
Something cool but not too cold
Girl, you got to give to get, you know?
I, I can understand it

Try my best to make you happy
Woke up early one morning, find you packing
Lord, Lord, Lord, you cant make me understand it

I know sometimes that you wanna get away from home
But I get upset when you stay too long
Oh, your love, baby, your love
-- How will I ever understand it?

Get on down
Gonna do it on the good foot
Gonna do it on the right foot, baby
Gonna do it on the left foot
Ooh baby

I can understand it
Baby, I can understand it
Oh, I have no choice about the situation

But Im trying my best to make you happy
Wake up early one morning and I find you packing
Lord, you cant make me understand it

I get a job and I work all the time
When I get home you better lay it on the line
Your love, baby, your love
-- How will I ever understand it?

Get on down
Gonna do it on the good foot
Gonna do it on the right foot
I can understand it
You do yours
Ill do mine
Can you understand it?
Can you understand it?
Can you understand it, baby?
I can understand it
Can you understand it?
I can understand it, baby
Can you understand it?
I can understand it, baby

Break it down
God Almighty
Lordy, Lordy, Lordy

Im going to find out can we keep the groove
Is yall ready for this?
Look here
Ooh, yeah, baby
I can understand it, oh
Can you understand it?

Baby, baby, baby
Get on, get on, get on, get on down
Do in on the good foot, there it is
Lordy, Lordy, Lordy
Look here yall
Dont put down a man with a better hand
Old Les trying to do the very best he can
You wear your hair long, baby
I wear my hair short
Come on, baby, talk that talk
I can understand it
Can you understand it?

Baby, Baby, Baby
Get on down
Look here
Gotta say it one more time
Lordy, Lordy, Lordy
Look here
Dont put down a man with the better hand
Old Les trying to do the very best he can
You wear your hair long, baby
I wear my hair short
Come on, baby
Talk that talk
You gotta
I gotta
You gotta
I gotta
You gotta
I gotta
You gotta
Hey, Baby

Yeah, look here
Can I say it?
Can I say it now, yall?
Can I say it?
Can I say it
Look here yall
I can understand it

celery root salad... quiet delight

reprinted from

this weekend i am headed to the mountains and will be making dinner and breakfast. i have been looking forward to it especially because i will be cooking 2 meals. i plan on making pork tenderloin with pomegranate and apricot accompanied by celery root salad for tomorrow's dinner. i haven't had this salad for at least 5 years and it has always been one of my favorites. i decided to put the recipe here for any of you. for my money, this is regional cuisine at its best. happy halloween.

Some things are so classic, so perfectly right as they are that it seems like a total disgrace to “reinvent” them. There is a reason some dishes have been around for a long time, on and off restaurant menu’s, but always there. There is a tricky knife edge here though. You can fall one way in to classic stardom of a recipe - something so good, so simple that it should never be changed. A quick shake on the edge however and things can fall drastically apart. The dish can be flat, boring, dated.
Celery root (or celariac as it is often called) remoulade when done with care falls head first into the first category of classic stardom. But like all things simple, the devil is hiding in the details. If you coarsely chop a celery root, mix it with store bought mayo, season with table salt you are going to think I am a grade A idiot for even suggesting this dish was a classic never to be changed. If, however, care is taken to create perfect little matchsticks of clean tasting celery root, and mixed with just the right amount of characterful homemade Dijon mayonnaise, spruced up with fresh lemon and herbs the you are on to a winner.
I first got thinking about celariac remoulade towards the end of last year when we had a family vacation to southern California. We rode bikes along the strand, all the way to god knows where (well at a guess close to LAX, given the fact I nearly fell off my bike being buzzed by a 747). We stopped and were hungry. There was a dicey looking “Italian” joint, a dive bar (we had our son with us..) or this crusty old French place that looked like you could blow the thing down.
Everyone knows how much the English love the crusty French, so we obviously headed straight there. Locking the bikes up next to the outside toilet one thought was going through my mind - “this place is either going to be fucking good, or I am going to be hoping to god that I can cycle back to out apartment in time before the lunch really hits home..” No fast cycling was required that afternoon I am happy to say, quite the contrary in fact.
The place was genius. I don’t think the decor or menu had changed since the 30s. Nor had the server (most likely the owner too), who must have been well in to her 80s, walked with a huge stoop, and berating the other younger waiter for not doing things right. The whole place just oozed old French. Sitting down I still had the same thought I did when we locked the bikes up. We ordered. Danika had some salmon, I had a roast lamb open sandwich, and a salad.
This was seriously one of the most perfectly prepared meals I have ever eaten. The salmon was ridiculously perfect. The lamb sandwich was fantastically balanced - rich, a little sweet, then a pop of cornichons. Nice. The highlight however was the side salads. A perfectly simple green salad, with just the right amount of fines herbs, dressing and salt. It was so fresh, clean and perfect. Just like the little heap of Céleri Rémoulade that sat unassumingly next to the roast lamb. You know they had been making these for decades, could do them in their sleep and them down right perfect.
A couple of hours over lunch (80 year old hunched over servers aren’t fast), a glass of wine, and a tired 4 year old meant that we rather reluctantly had to leave the place and cycle back past the noisy airplanes, and in to the rush of city (well, OK.. vacation) life again.
So back to the celery root. Whilst you might think it is the root of the celery stalks we all hate to eat raw(seriously, who enjoys chewing on a stringy celery stick?) it is different. It is a kind of celery, but harvested for the root, not stalk. Often I end up either roasting them in a bit of duck fat, or making a puree from them, with a little potato for body. Celeriac soup is lovely too, especially with a tiny dice of fresh tart apple and pancetta.
The French would absolutely argue that the classic of chopped celery root and mayonnaise cannot be improved upon, and I pretty much agree (as per my first statement in this blog post - keep it simple, don’t muck it up). I do however like to add just enough chopped fresh parsley and tarragon to make it even fresher. This time I finished the plateful with a sprinkling of Piment d’Espelette really just because I had bought a new jar and wanted an excuse to try it out.
Turns out it is great on this remoulade.
So there you have it really. A very simple clean French winter raw vegetable salad.
Raw celery root salad recipe
NOTE: this salad uses a lovely pungent homemade mayo based on a recipe from Anne Willian’s lovely “Country Cooking of France” book. It uses raw eggs. People get squiffy about raw eggs, mainly thanks to poor quality eggs from chickens on an incredibly cruel battery farm. Use good quality farm fresh eggs. The taste difference is incredible, and they are safer too.
Be sure to use a good quality Dijon mustard, and clean olive oil. Personally I like the Dijon from Trader Joes very much.
2 medium celery roots
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
3/4 cup olive oil (scant)
small bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley, hard stems removed
a few stalks of fresh taragon, leaves picked
Piment d’Espelette to taste (optionalish)
salt and pepper
Start by making the mustard mayo. Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature. Whisk together the egg yolks, mustard and 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice. Whisk until this thickens a bit. Slowly start adding in the lemon juice, pretty much a drop at a time, whisking constantly. After you have added about a tablespoon of oil this way, it can be added a little faster - in a slow stream - but whisk that arm of yours off. If at any point it looks like you have oil to whisk in, then slow down adding the oil, and whisk like mad. Now whisk in the remaining lemon juice. Season well with salt and pepper.
Trim the skin off the celery root. A wash to remove any excess dirt. Slice the celery root into 3mm slices. This is best done on a mandolin or deli slicer. Stack some of these slices up and now slice them in to thin matchsticks.
Cover the unused pieces of celery root with a damp towel, to stop them from going brown.
Once sliced put in a large bowl. Add the mayo a tablespoon or so at a time, mixing the celery root in well. Add just enough to liberally coat the celery root.  Finely chop the fresh herbs and toss enough in to make things interesting. Season well with good sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
Let this stand, covered in the fridge for a couple of hours to let the celery root soften a bit. When it comes time to serve, dish it up, and sprinkle each plate with a little Espelette if you like.

and so a friend on facebook (who actually posts more music than i do) shared this link. i hadn't heard of her before. but i know i like the retro sound and i like the quality of her vocals. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

pretty strange and pretty damn cool

This review is about: The Sluts (Paperback)

Joey Comeau (Toronto) -Dennis Cooper's  novel, The Sluts, opens with an online review of a hustler named "Brad" who has mental problems. A second review follows, and then a third. The novel is told through these reviews and through emails and posts on a website devoted to reviewing hustlers. The posts by these reviewers mix the empty, repeated, imitative language of pornography with a series of straightforward, honest sounding voices. And they lie.

They lie, and they admit to lying when they think it will help you believe their next lie. The saga of "Brad" on this website gets stranger and stranger and it becomes clear that the reviewers are obsessed. They are writing themselves into the story. We only rarely hear from Brad himself, who might have a brain tumor, who might be fourteen or eighteen or something in between, who might be real. The story that you piece together conflicts with itself and sprawls. He's in prison. His boyfriend has hired him out for violent sex and a man pays to break his legs during the act. Another man pays to cut his face and murder him. Only, maybe not.

In the end, what's real is unimportant. This is a novel about the reviewers themselves. It's about their obsessions and about their ability to live inside their own heads. The sex described is brutal and graphic and unreal and maybe none of it ever happens and maybe some of it does. In any case, The Sluts is good. It's interesting and perverted and boring and relentless and numbing and I felt like throwing the book across the room a dozen times in anger. This is a frustrating and worthwhile book about voyeurism and fantasy and you are a pervert for even reading a review about it.

Bookmark and ShareDocuments

Saturday, October 22, 2011

breakfast of champions

life seems to be suddenly picking up the pace. i got a call from the bank yesterday which informed me that the underwriters were going to make a decision on my loan modification. they requested that i take the place off the market - which i did. this doesn't erase the flux my life is in, but it does create a sense of finish.

i had lunch with a colleague at parallel 17 yesterday as well. it was great to see her and we caught up quite a bit. i asked her to consider joining the board of afr for a year to collaborate on refocusing the mission and agenda for the organization. they have received several grants within the last month and they will need to do some fine-tuning on their efforts. i absolutely love the idea of making recovery a more visible option for everyone and so i have decided to work more closely with their efforts. i was surprised i asked her. and i am certain she was just as surprised.

my heater has not been working so i am waiting for a tech to come out and give it a checkup. it has dipped below freezing a couple of times this week and this morning my nips are a bit turgid.

i begin work on the dually-diagnosed treatment groups starting this week. there are a couple of training sessions and a couple of coordination meetings as well. this is a new adventure for me and a new direction for my work. it's titillating, to be sure.

i have become enamored with the "occupy" movement. things have been broken in our country for some time and the apathy surrounding that seems to be shifting. this is something to celebrate in my eyes. i am not naive enough to believe that this will change policies immediately, but i am genuinely relieved that citizens are exercising their right to participate. this seems to be what a democracy requires to remain. for my money (ha), there seems to have been a shift of financial and political power that took place when the twin towers were taken out in 2011. i have never felt secure that the ragtag al queda were capable of pulling that event off so deliciously on their own accord.

i got an email from a colleague who is a counselor with the mile high meth project. he wrote that he had heard good things about the stonewall huddle and was requesting that he come by and talk to my group about his group. i invited him and he came. there were 3 guys there who are currently dealing with meth issues and so hopefully it gave them a sense of options and hope. for me, it signaled a 360 degree revolution since i worked on getting mhmp going. and the resultant triggering of ptsd changed my life forever. i have grown enormously since then, and the visit by the program's current (there have been several) counselor added an underline to this fact for me. it honestly felt good.

Monday, October 17, 2011

remain in light

image credit ... pascal meunier

Week 4: Smart Things 10 12 and A vision for you 
  • When you are hurt or upset, what do you do to comfort yourself?
  • How has your recovery helped you develop a personal compass in your life?
  • The Ninth Step promises in Alcoholics Anonymous, page 84, indicate that "we will intuitively know how to handle situations that used to baffle us." How has this manifested itself in your life?
  • How do you respond to conflict or tension in your relationship?
  • What perspective would you need to take in order to see the tension in your relationship as an opportunity for you to work on your emotional sobriety?
  • What would it mean to you if you started to look at the real problem as how you cope with a situation rather than the problem being the problem?
  • Emotional sobriety creates emotional resilience. This means that we can stay clean and sober regardless of a difficult situation or circumstance, regardless of health or illness, regardless of success or failure. Is your recovery this stable? Do you have this kind of faith in yourself? What idea would you need to give up to have this kind of faith in your recovery?
from "12 smart things to do when the booze and drugs are gone" by allen berger

with the continuing change going on in my daily work life, i find myself perpetually moving or shifting or adjusting or waiting for any or all of those. the clients i work with have expanded to well beyond hiv. i am working with opioid replacement clients, with hep-c positive patients, and with dually diagnosed patients- all of which i certainly worked before, however the challenges and the life experiences are more diverse.

adding to this, i have been asked to chair a board for a recovery advocacy organization. this is a request which i am not quite ready to provide an answer at this time. i am waiting to hear a response from the lender who holds the note on my townhouse, because that transition will affect my life the most primarily. and to add to the shake-ups, i have applied for an additional counseling position to replace the 12K that i dropped this last year- which set some of this current richter scale action in motion and i continue to wait to discover if this is a good fit.

i am in awe of the confidence i have rendered in all this chaos. and i feel comforted by the lack of panic. i don't know what is next, but i am moving forward with faith and trust in my relationship with the world. wow- did i even write that? but it's true. i feel connected and i welcome tomorrow.

i don't always satisfy the expectations of those around me. i still often judge my actions very harshly at first. i stumble in new situations and misspeak and misstep as often as i get it right. but what really keeps me going is my fairly newly acquired sense that i am okay. nothing great certainly, but nothing broken. for all my life, i felt-no believed- that i was flawed- twisted and warped. this is a belief that has had a metamorphosis into something else and been carried away with the winds. this is definitely an easier way to live.

image credit- bob jagendorf

i have recently heard some sets played by this dj named nick warren. i like him very much. it sounds so contemporary to me. i hope you like it, too.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Autumn Newsletter 2011

the human aspect of hiv matters very much to me..

TEN Newsletter Autumn 2011

Thursday, October 6, 2011


image credit... jon estwards

i am a mixed up bag of spices- sometimes sweet, sometimes savory, a little or a lot peppery, way too spicy at times- whatever... but it rarely stays exactly the same- just like indian food. this has taken some adjustments to maneuver all the moods feelings. at first it felt heroic and adventurous to just be feeling feelings without trying to change them. as this became habit, it was revealed that there were things that had been submerged - feelings and thoughts and memories which rose up like corpses in a new orleans cemetery.

there was another process which included understanding what these corpses were, how they got here, and how best to dispose of them this time so they wouldn't make another appearance. man- this bit took a high toll- i let go of friendships, of jobs, of some finances, and some safety nets. some of these skeletons were connected to me at times i honestly couldn't remember right away. it took awhile to remember the babysitter in 1st grade who was physically inappropriate. it took even longer to understand that the shame i have always felt throughout my life was not deserved. it was carried by me unnecessarily for decades because i was (am) an odd duck.

luckily, i have travelled through a quagmire of old bodies, thoughts, and feelings, and have reached a bit more solid ground. it has been a relief and i seem to be opening my heart again. amidst this opening was a reminder for me today. a reminder of a basic philosophy that has shaped my outlook. my bi-polar mind and my inability to self-soothe led me to an hiv diagnosis at 27. for the next 12 years or so i lived waiting for the other shoe to drop. i expected to die. i planned on it, actually. i forged ahead with work, but threw myself into partying because it was easier than being quiet and contemplating what could be.

then in 1996, i began to take hiv meds and my dark future-less self had to regroup. i didn't have a plan and i didn't have a clue. and it seemed unfair that i had to suddenly get one. so i made an impetuous decision to move to san francisco and continue the party. turned out to be a tough path. ran back here. bottomed out on crystal. burned a lotta bridges. tried to die and didn't.

then recovery flowed into my life, like the mississippi waters flowing into that sea-level graveyard and it rooted up dead bodies and spirits that had long been buried. damn - the clean up is a bitch. but one thing i have concretely come to know. at 27, i became convinced i had no future and had no life. considering the hand i had been dealt, it is a miracle that i am alive. it is not responsible for me to take this simple and neon-like fact for granted. every day i wake up is a day i had never planned to be here. with this in mind, it makes no sense for me to be anything but joyful. i am in awe of my presence and my life. and i try to begin and end each day by recognizing this.  i remembered this grace today in the middle of the day. remembering it felt like getting a really big hug.  and it definitely helped. a hella lot.