Johnstown, PA
dream by the string
July 26, 2004
I have been known, in the past, to uproot my life for love. I have led and followed more than one boy to a new apartment. I have dropped everything in a week to take job in another state. I have even consciously created temporary insanity in the blindly loyal commitment to art - lost my mind and almost my body temporarily for arguably six months. Intentionally.

Yes, I give accept appreciate receive strongly powerfully completely for love.

But right now I am just floating over the earth and I have nothing pulling my perfect red balloon, a dot in blue sky, further farther from sight, down. I used to write messages on a paper (mostly the name of my town) and would tie them to the end of the string - let helium and a warm front do what floating fate does. I was only five, but I remember vividly imagining someone in the next town finding my red balloon popped in a naked autumn tree and knowing that it came from practically clear across the world (a whole fifteen miles) away, where I was standing, holding a dream by the string.

You never know how far. Until you let go.

Manhattan, NY
Sign o'the Times
July 21, 2004
The raw vegan lifestyle is officially mainstream in the Big Apple. It's officially mainstream in Maui, too, but in a very different way. I mean, on a tropical island, saturated with sunshine, generous with sweet abundance and ocean breeze, it is natural to eat of the earth. In fact on Maui, not too many of the raw foodists I meet even call themselves raw foodists. They don't need a name, a support group, a cafe - on Maui, eating raw is just affordable, easy and makes sense. Which is precisely the way it should be - tropical rainforest or concrete jungle.

Communal Union Square and the freaky East Village are paradises in NYC - the hub of raw activity. While, unlike Hawaii, I can not pick my lunch from the nearest wild fruit tree, I can choose from six raw restaurants within walking distance, three raw store fronts, a fantastic farmer's market, a plethora of private juice bars or a cornucopia of fruit stands on every street corner.

One of the restaurants making my life simple in NYC is Bonobo's: the first raw joint I have dined in that actually serves food like I would make at home (if I had one). Counter service specializing in the made-to-order salad, complete with sun ripened olives, dulse sea weed, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and all the organic salad standards - just like home! All the soups are slammin', especially the red pepper / coconut, and you can sample anything they have. Loads of healthy house plants green the air, thriving under skylights and hanging from cathedral ceilings. I must admit that Bonobo's white walls feel artistically unfinished, like a painter's gallery unrealized. But as is, the simple clean vibe is perfect for corporate lunch meetings or the quick stop in.

In contrast to the foot traffic salad bar of Bonobo's we have the reservations-only atmosphere of Pure Food and Wine. Red swank seethes from it's open front garden level dining room, but seating in the private outdoor garden is preferable. Having opened only one month ago, Pure Food and Wine is targeting the high class mainstream as a "concept" restaurant. Though the wine menu is elaborate and the tortilla fantastic, I found the most pleasing aspect was, no, not the prices, but my jovial waiter, genuinely excited about the raw lifestyle. At the end of the nite, as I was enjoying my pistachio and coconut based ice cream, he even lent me a little menu cheat sheet: an ingredient list for every recipe. I asked if he made that up to impress the curious customer with his elaborate gourmet food knowledge. He said no, he made it up to share with other cool, enthusiastic raw people. He made my evening.

And finally, if there was any doubt as to which direction we, as ever evolving conscious caring Americans are headed, the biggest grocery store in New York City is now Whole Foods on Columbus Circle. Supply and demand do not lie. The dollar is the most effective vote we can cast. This is a sign of the times.

Manhattan, NY
Pure Art
July 17, 2004
I can't believe they haven't made New York City illegal yet. More potent than any up your nose in your veins prescription only amazon rain forest stimulant truck driver diet pill outlawed to date. I'm jitzed high on NYC and best of all, it's natural and free.

People think it costs a lot to live here and it is true, rent is a nite shift after your day job kinda expense. But really, after you procure shelter in the Big Apple, transportation is extremely affordable, what with the efficient, dependable, environmental subway/bus system, and well, entertainment doesn't cost a dime. It is seeping out of the gutters and growing up through the sidewalk cracks - everywhere you look, Art is happening, just opening herself up like the corner florists' stargazer lily, stifling the smell of corner garbage with her sweet alluring scent, saying, "come on over and stick your nose in."

Yesterday I pulled away with pollen on my nose at the Union Square "Main Stage" as break dancers who humble my own abilities, pop locked flipped tricked rallied challenged battled for the sheer joy of dancing and a bucket full of dollar bills. The nite before, I wandered into a dark little East Village bar's back room where a hilarious all-woman sketch comedy troupe had me rocking and cackling. And today, well, I put on my mechanic jumper, tie my locks into pigtails and let others decide if I am worth contemplating - masterpiece that I am. Like every insane normal person on these narcotic sidewalks.

Pure Art.

Raw Restaurant Review - Au Lac Vegetarian
Fountain Valley, CA
Chicken McNugget
July 09, 2004
Precision is one approach to communication. Choosing just the right words to convey an exact meaning. When I write that Au Lac Vegetarian Restaurant is a Vietnamese/Chinese cuisine dining establishment located in Fountain Valley, CA approximately 38 miles south of Los Angeles, the reader understands me completely. As well, when I write: Upon entering the vegetarian restaurant, my smiling Asian hostess stated rather than asked, "two for raw", and led me to a seat in a windowless dining area of 25 tables, leaving me to wonder if it was my glowing complexion, my healthy physique, or my dread locks and hippie dress that revealed my uncooked identity - the same phenomena happens: the reader interprets the information exactly as intended. I ordered the spring roll and sea weed soup for appetizers, costing $3.95 and $5.95 respectively, and between two of us, still took home leftovers, due to overly generous portions. There it happens again: concise communication. Language of precision, ideal for couple's therapy, Ikea assembly manuals, and driving directions in Washington DC, effectively prevents confusion...

And imagination.

Metaphor is another approach to communication. Choosing more general, encompassing words to appeal to the reader's sensory, rather than rational, intelligence: Even my pulse paused to take in the new experience - never before had I tasted authentically Asian raw cuisine. Curried Rice, a tabu question mark tempting the curious deviant tongue. Was it sea grass seeds and sun dried olives? Was it dehydrated onions, cauliflower and sinfully soft avocado? No American raw gourmet has dared daydream Au Lac's combinations - an entire meal without even one nut. I felt like the explorer of forbidden new worlds, stumbling upon treasure so tender, so fragile, so unexploited that I must consider whether it is safe to tell the world. I must consider whether the world is safe in knowing. If the writer is comfortable surrendering to the possibility of misinterpretation, the language of metaphor can actually convey more by providing less information.

Either way, the advanced level of communication we utilize as human beings is actually what defines us as human beings. It all began with the independently mobile vertebras about 3 - 4 billion years ago and the development of what we call the "reptile brain" - a tiny little chicken mcnugget in the skull cavity who's main function is to decipher if the organism is safe or in danger (an advance/retreat mechanism that is a must for the survival of any species). About 500 - 1000 million years ago, the "mammalian brain" showed up at the cranium party, providing it's host territorial awareness, relationship development and emotional capacity (see: mammalian mating habits and child rearing methods). And finally, around only 100,000 years ago, the cortex swelled like saturated sponges into brain history. These underused and even less understood lobes are found uniquely in the human head, and function to sort, categorize, shuffle and reorganize information - to create symbol. Semantics, and not the opposable thumb, may actually be what "separate us from the apes". Perhaps the Missing Link wasn't out hunting or gathering at all, but at home becoming a better mother by developing elaborate symbolic systems to interpret her baby's cries.

So in an attempt to continue my advancement of our blessed race:

After my last, swooning bite of Durian Pie (in which there is only one secret ingredient I have sworn to not reveal) a quiet, young Asian man stepped up to my table. He seemed intensely interested in interacting with me, yet stood there not saying a word. And it was in an uncomfortable moment of pregnant silence that I realized two things: 1) this man is none other than the chef of this sensational meal, visiting personally each table who orders one of his creations, and 2) this man is mute?

Chef Ito of Au Lac Vegetarian Restaurant conveyed more through the metaphor of food than the author has in an entire essay. He brought the language of precision to a new level with three simple letters scribbled across his tshirt in magic marker: R-A-W. And exposed "opportunities" in communication (and human evolution) with one smile, beaming joy brighter than summer noon.

There's interpreting your baby's cries and then there is predicting your baby's cries. Without words, we understad each other completely.

Happydale, MI
My One Nite
July 02, 2004
There are noises in the woods. It is thick nite, but still bright - this full moon. Still beyond the tree line, I see not why twigs bust. If it were me migrating midnite with no visible path, I imagine I would sound like a combine. Well, their massive muscular bodies are often a hundred pounds my superior, but the deer's lithe feet make barely a sound.

There are mosquitos with no patience in humid Michigan July. But I grew up in this town, near this swamp, in this forest, and like the migrating deer, I have instincts, too. I pull down my sleeves, wear the long pants - there is no need for chemicals repelling here. It is sultry sullen steam room too hot for these sweat pants, but the mosquitos will find no skin bare. I blur like tired twilight, I disappear like sullen shadow - under this hood insects do not know I'm here.

Dear Emily...and Robert....and all my friends back in Los Angeles: remember how I said there is another way? Remember how I insisted that the entire world doesn't "work like this?" Well, here I am, breathing green summer, swearing it's the truth.

Lightning bugs are little fairies, even if you don't believe. Which I don't. But I've seen both anyway. It is said they light up for only one nite, to attract a mate, and then die before the dawn. I found one today crawling around in my mother's kitchen, so I put him outdoors, where he belongs. I couldn't imagine his one chance to shine unashamed, to glow to show off, spent anywhere but with others shining as flamboyantly as he.

Look at him now, perishing happily at my feet.

Life is my one nite. There is no jar that will contain me.