Monthly Archives: August 2009

Frida Kahlo with Swine Flu Mask Backpack

I found this wonderful gallows humor-filled creation at Akitch, one of my favorite shops in San Miguel de Allende. In trying to find a link (which doesn’t seem to exist) for the shop just now, I discovered that the maker of the backpack has an Etsy shop…he seems to be a savvy expat. I still love the backpack even if it’s not an authentic Mexican Mexican artifact. I’m also a fan of these gringa-designed Virgin of Guadalupe aprons and shower curtains. Ironically, most of the Mexican-themed fabrics she uses for the aprons are manufactured in Japan. My own Day of the Dead Box was once cited by an NYU grad student as an example of the worst of globalization: a book about a Mexican holiday written by a gringa, photographed by a Japanese person (actually, also a gringa), and printed by a U.S. publisher in China. What I can say? It’s a big, big world.

Photo 20

My Mexican Pedicure, My Mexican Floors

There’s much to love about our house in San Miguel, but most especially the floors. Here’s last week’s “sunburst” Mexican pedicure in situ.

Casa Grande stairscase.Between dining room and living room.Between upstairs landing and master bedroom.Between kitchen and dining room.Courtyard.On stone fireplace hearth looking down to living room floor.Upstairs bathtub ledge.Staircase to roof terrace.

Rachel Maddow at Jacob's Pillow

Rachel Maddow and Suzanne Carbonneau. Photos: Christopher Duggan.

Rachel Maddow and Suzanne Carbonneau. Photos: Christopher Duggan.

This past Saturday, it was my great pleasure to see MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow give an inspired and inspiring talk at Jacob’s Pillow about dance, art, and society. Here are a few excerpts from her remarks (thanks to Mariclare Hulbert for the transcription):

I know nothing about dance. I am a fan. I am a fan of dance and of Jacob’s Pillow and a fan of people who know nothing about dance going to see dance.

As a person who understands more about news and politics and war and peace than I do about dance, when I think about arts being important in the country, I think it’s sometimes interesting to consider what else was going on in the world when people were making the big, brave, bold decisions about the art that brought us the institutions that we’ve still got today, like Jacob’s Pillow…

Sometimes we choose to serve our country in uniform, in war.  Sometimes in elected office. And those are the ways of serving our country that I think we are trained to easily call heroic. It’s also a service to your country, I think, to teach poetry in the prisons, to be an incredibly dedicated student of dance, to fight for funding music and arts education in the schools.

A country without an expectation of minimal artistic literacy, without a basic structure by which the artists among us can be awakened and given the choice of following their talents and a way to get to be great at what they do, is a country that is not actually as great as it could be. And a country without the capacity to nurture artistic greatness is not being a great country. It is a service to our country, and sometimes it is heroic service to our country, to fight for the United States of America to have the capacity to nurture artistic greatness…

I think there’s a great speech to be made, I think there are bumper stickers to be written, I think there’s a little patriotic chest-pounding that can be done, about what value arts are to a country. Not in terms of their propaganda, but in terms of the arts as a sign of national greatness, that a great country nurtures great artists. And that the greatness of a country is measured in part by its freedom, and artistic freedom is one of the measures by which a country shows its greatness.

Rachel Maddow
Jacob’s Pillow, August 8, 2009

Annalena meets her idol.

Annalena meets her idol.

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