Monday, November 17, 2008

next : pinot noir and wine label for non-synesthetes

next : pinot noir
Originally uploaded by chacal la chaise.
While this is not truly an image of an El Paso landmark or scenic view, it is something that tangentially says something interesting about El Paso and her people: Na zdrowie! L'Chaim! Salut! Prost! Cheerio! To Your Health! Cheers!

Yes, the season of light, of life, of new beginnings is almost upon us, and Black Friday (the good kind, of course) is hopefully around the corner. But first, back to two things about this wine label that set it apart from others I have enjoyed.

First, I am a graphics freak, especially labels--from Depression-era California fruit box labels to wine labels. I love the graphics and use of text, their typography, colors, embossing, printing--it all adds up to what the producer/sellers try to say or invent about their products--wrapped up especially for its wine-drinking audience (and typography freaks.)

Secondly, by including this image here, I am not saying that an El Pasoness means that we here exclusively drink wine or any other alcoholic beverage (although many do). No. The image was taken at Sun Harvest Sunday afternoon; and, I had never seen this wine. And that makes the finding fun. It was something new, reminded me of things I am interested in (graphic, typography, and rhetoric) and finding trendy things on-the-fly. How many times can you say you had fun while shopping these days?

I saw this bottle because I was looking for a cheap (yes, cheap--not affordable nor amusing nor any other euphemistic word for a headache producing bottle of cheap) white wine for roasting a 40 clove of garlic chicken tomorrow night. And next: pino noir, apart from being a red wine, was so out of my budget for cooking 40 clove roast chicken. But not so much for drinking. Well, OK. Festive drinking. Perhaps I will get a bottle when I go back for Beaujolais Nouveau, aka the newborn of reds, when it comes out next week.

In any event, I love this label. It is deceptively and overtly simple. Here, an old typewritten style (Courier), all mono-spaced and clear, with another, a handwritten styled typeface litters words about the wine's name--scattered descriptives that impart your sensations and experiences should you drink this wine. The label just straight up propagandizes, attempts to sell, and display it all at the same time. Nicely subversive and different. It is as if it were a dramatization of how a synesthete might see (or not) the descriptive, if they tasted the wine for the first, second, or twenty-second time.

Speaking of which, and this is probably more for my memory than what you may want to know about, but I heard the best explanation and description of just that neuro-sensory condition (that people "'enjoy," according to the show's host) on the NPR Now show broadcast on the sat rad. While I had hoped to find a free podcast link, (you must purchase this show,) the link does provide a good overview of the show and what synesthesia is and what it means to those who experience it.

In any event, happy shopping and enjoy the season! That is all we truly have control over, right. Of course, right! L'Chaim! And Salud!

Arg! Apologies for adding sticking this at the end of a post, which is something I've never done, but want to do now. Here, finally, is a link to a friend's blog--City Representative Susie Byrd's Notes from District 2. And while I'd love to be a constituent of her district (we live in District 1,) her blog does merit a note of appreciation and link.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Luis Villegas

Luis Villegas
Originally uploaded by chacal la chaise.
This afternoon, MJ and I went to a party given in honor of Luis. Working for Lee and Bobby Byrd of Cinco Puntos Press for many years, Luis has crafted art to embellish and burnish the Byrd's home until it lives up to its style: Arts and Crafts Bungalow. Sitting in the middle of what Susie Byrd terms west-central El Paso, the Byrd’s home is a hub of creative activity most days. However, today they out did themselves as they invited their friends in to see all the wonderful art Luis created for them. From a porch mural underfoot with a 45-pound gar (northern pike) sculpted fish hanging nearby, Luis worked magic in unassuming places. From the first step, through the home, baths, bedroom, and finally to the backyard, Luis never stops working. We are happy to have seen all our old and new friends today with Lee, Bobby, and the man of the hour, Luis.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Lincoln Park Murals :: Comandanta Ramona

Sometimes you just have to get away, steal a moment of solitude with just your thoughts and your camera. I put off photography using excuses like I must 1) read, 2) summarize, 3) work, 4) read more, 5) summarize more, and finally 6) sleep. But today, I said enough was enough. Perhaps it was a post-election ebbing elation; maybe it was the idea that I could get rid of whatever this flu/allergy is that I had by getting outside for a few minutes. Whatever the reason to leave the confines of campus, I knew I must go to Lincoln Park. The park lies beneath I-10 east, and is quite close to Thomason Hospital (and future new children’s hospital), Evergreen, Concordia and B’nai Zion cemeteries, and Jefferson-Silva High Schools. )

Lincoln Park contains a beautiful collection of small murals, painted on the freeway concrete supporting uprights. Originally an art project for students from Bowie High School, they have stood for many years. While some murals have small tags identifying a gang’s territory, the murals generally stand unmarked, in their colourful glory. When I arrived around 4:00 pm, it was quiet and cool with a slight breeze, with a brilliant Morenci turquoise blue sky over my head.

Fortunately, as I left the park, I drove to the area where the last (and most political and social activist) murals were. There I saw this beautiful and bright mural of the late Comandanta Ramona of the Clandestine Indigenous Revolutionary Committee (CGRI) and the leadership body of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN). Beautiful and petite, she sadly died of cancer after battling it for many years.

Unfortunately, I do not know who painted her image, but it is an inspiring and uplifting addition to the murals at this central El Paso Park that lies beneath the spaghetti bowl and I-10.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Day: Obama Sticker Hunt

Hardly ever are there any signs of student discourse beyond the conversations of those walking to and from class. Neither do we see written nor visual discourse not vetted first by the administration of this university. Yet today, I photographed a group of small Obama stickers installed in and around the Geology Building, Leech Grove and onward, to the Political Science building.

Of course, I do not expect them to stay long because the grounds of the campus never really speak for the silenced. In any event, it was a great thing to see today--a little bit of action, a little bit of change. Moreover, after eight years, these tiny images of smiling faces helped show that we are near the end of this sad, sordid ride.

Tomorrow is another day, and it does appear that We Have Overcome.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Starbucks graffiti: Jose

This little sign inside the Kirby Starbucks got me thinking about all the Red team's political speechifying and how it refers to people by only their first name and their day job title as presumed last name. What are we now? A legion of the "guy you call when your toilet backs up" and nothing else? I find it manipulative, condescending, and idiotic. I do not know about where you live, but here in El Paso we call each other the normal way, like Jose, Rosie, Chuy, Maria, Susan, Mark, and Rita.

People in their daily lives do not refer to one another as Jose the Barista, Rosie the nurse, Chuy the CPA, Maria the teacher, Susan the lawyer, Mark the restaurateur, and Rita the piano teacher. It would take forever to have a simple conversation. People! It is not normal. It is condescending. And while I know it's just political speak, those people need to understand that our identities are not exclusively tied to how we make money--It is only the portion that allows us to do what we really like--painting, writing, Freestyle and croquet playing, and even talking to our friends.

If the Republican Party can only see us as moneymaking robots, concerned with only coin, then they do not see us as individuals with souls, families, lovers, children, and interests outside the act of earning a buck. Instead, they see us as easily frightened rabbits—afraid of change, ready to follow orders, ready for them to make our decisions for us. Moreover, if we as a country elect someone who thinks of us in this manner, then I guess we will get what we deserve. To but monetize us, see nothing but dollar bills standing at the ready to pay for their past recklessness, hubris, and failed domestic and foreign policies, is perhaps the saddest thing that I will take from this election season. And it was done before. It was called U.S.S.R.

I am glad all the speeches begging and scaring us for votes ends tomorrow. Because I want and need change, which I hope we get soon. Like tomorrow night.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Doniphan graffiti

Strangely, a wonderful collection of local (and regional) graffiti artwork hides within a chain linked used car lot on Doniphan Drive near the Artcraft bridge. Years ago, I was able to take a few pictures of this collection when it was just an empty lot. Back then the street art was vivid and bright; I snapped pictures with my new toy--a leaky plastic Chinese-made Holga, a medium format film "toy" camera.

Friday, I had a few extra minutes to drive down to the lot, and ask the men minding the cars if I could take pictures of the graffiti. They looked at me like I was nuts and asked me in Spanish why I couldn't speak the language.

Funny. It's always smart-ass Mexican men who look at me and ask in an accusatory manner. Whatever.

I can only explain my heritage so many times. I told them no--who did they think they were talking to anyway? My dad is Anglo, speaks only English and my mother chose not to teach me Spanish. End of story.

However, that does not mean I cannot draw like a Mexican, look like a Mexican, and at times get angry like a...smarty pants American mutt.

Sometimes you need to get away from it all.

And sometimes, it's time to return and be part of the larger world.  Between the first of 2023 and February 14, I painted many watercolo...