Portraits by Seoul-based artist Kim Byungkwan
"The habitual vision or visual habit makes us go by the routine ways. It stops us from having adventure and checking out the wonders out there. My work is trying to destroy, tear up, and reconstruct this habitual vision so that our vision can be expended to other images.” (text source)
before her body
Keep her that she believes
herself the moon. Teach her
to know no pull but yours.
To live in excess
is to seek balance.
She will believe herself
to be all of existence and
the space that cradles.
Bathe her — purity in flesh
cupped by unsettling hand.
to birth a god,
Let her labors last
as many days as months.
Train her not to choke,
to breathe vapors laced
with your regret.
You are finished.
Watch a woman raise
this world from ash.
When she is empty, feed her
beans. Plant within her
new seeds. Let her grow.
before her open heart
knows your pulse.
There’s something about my mama’s green beans. I don’t know what it is. I can prepare the same beans the same way she does, using the same recipe, but they still don’t taste like hers — and they probably never will. That probably explains why I helped myself to seconds at dinner tonight.
Don’t get me wrong, my mama’s not some great chef. In fact, she’s at best only a marginally good cook, and she’ll tell you as much herself. All of her recipes are handed down from her mother, and if you compliment a dish of hers she’s quick to tell you it’s not as good as the way her mama made it.
I’ve eaten similar dishes in restaurants that were better than mama’s, and so has she. We were eating at a restaurant once and mama quipped that if her meatloaf were as good as the meatloaf at that restaurant, she wouldn’t have spent 40 years of her life teaching. There’s no ego in mama’s kitchen — she has no problem admitting something’s better than hers, and if you tried to tell her otherwise she’d laugh you right out of your chair.
Of course, mama was never interested in being a great chef — she was just interested in putting food on the table to feed her family. Great chefs may go to fancy “culinary arts” schools to learn how to cook, or they may learn as they go by working under someone who’s already established a reputation as a great chef. But however they go about it, they spend years learning and perfecting their craft — and they’re always learning, and their craft is never perfected.
They may study everything there is to know (which is to say, everything that someone else has previously discovered) about foods and flavors — but to be a truly great chef, you have to surpass that training. You have to think creatively, attempting combinations no one else has ever done. The goal of any chef who aspires to be great is either to perfect something created by a great chef who came before, or to create something wholly original themselves.
But just like my mama, no chef who aspires to greatness wants to be told their food is just as good as anything Wolfgang Puck has ever created if it’s not — primarily because he’ll know it’s empty flattery at best and he’ll resent you for it. I mean, if you ate something I’d cooked and declared it the best thing you’d ever eaten, I’d assume you were starving — because I know I’m not a good cook.
Nor do I try to be. I’ve not taken any cooking classes at all, and apart from passively watching cooking shows on TV occasionally I’ve not attempted to learn in any other way. Nor am I a picky eater. If it’s edible, I’ll eat it. That’s not to say that I don’t know when I’m eating food prepared well and when I’m eating something mediocre, but I don’t need to eat gourmet every time I sit down at the table. There are some foods I dislike and some I love, but I don’t necessarily have the most discerning palate, and I realize this.
The greatest chef in the world might cook something I detest, but my opinion won’t change the quality of her preparation. It may be critically lauded as the greatest dish in the world, but if it’s liver and onions, I’m not touching it with a ten-foot pole. That’s my taste (actually, if you can make me eat liver and onions, you probably are the greatest chef in the world — but you’d have to lie to me about what it was first). People’s palates are an amalgamation of their lives: their culture, their history, their training or education, their socio-economic status, and their personal preferences. But what goes into quality preparation of the dish is separate from that — it’s still a well-prepared dish if you don’t like it, and it may be a mediocre dish even if you do.
My mama’s green beans, though — so good you’d think they were an analogy.
© 2014 by Jennifer R.R. Mueller
Rudy Francisco - “Complainers” (NPS 2014)
"It doesn’t matter if the glass is half full or half empty, drink that shit and stop complaining."
Performing for San Diego during semifinals at the 2014 National Poetry Slam.
"Life is a gym membership with a really complicated cancellation policy."
purplemonkeysexgod69 replied to your video post: “An immense amount [of] courage is also required to stand your ground…”:
freedom isn’t free
It costs a buck o’ five.
An immense amount [of] courage is also required to stand your ground when reporting the illegal conduct of persons who, with their political or financial powers, can get you fired—or worse.
— Chuck Klein, Police Ethics: The Creed
This article is a couple of years old, but how many of you think enough law enforcement officials have read it? Perhaps they just need someone to kindly link them. It takes a lot of courage to respond to riots. It takes even more courage to refuse an order to fire on a crowd in protest in a residential setting. Wouldn’t you agree?
I’m not sure what’s going on in Ferguson, but neither the airspace restrictions nor the arrests/harassment of reporters are helping me figure it out. The United States of America aspires to be an example for the so-called free world, so why am I resorting to YouTube and Twitter coverage (and a few well-written but visually lacking traditional news media articles) as I was when Turkey became a police state?
Lids down, I count sheep
I count heartbeats
The only thing that counts is
that I won’t sleep
— Barenaked Ladies, “Who Needs Sleep?”
Good morning, mikefrawley =)
I’m going to be visiting my family for the next few days to celebrate my niece’s first birthday. The last couple times I’ve seen my parents, I’ve had some technicolor shade of hair. Yes, I’m an adult. Yes, I work on the internet and can have whatever color hair I want. But sometimes, I know how to pick my battles — and the “what have you done to your hair?!” battle is not one I wish to fight this week. This visit isn’t about me; it’s about my niece.
So I picked a nice, subdued burgundy shade and put it right over top of my old purple (which had faded to a bright pink). It’s still mostly purplish — with some little pink highlights here and there that I actually kinda dig. This qualifies as “natural,” right? (Don’t answer that.)
Won without ever firing a shot
O Captain! My Captain! our fearful trip is done;
at nineteen years old, i trapped myself
in a mental hospital. for six nights,
three wild cards and i ran
a game of crazy watermelon split,
wagering halved honey graham checks.
of course i cheated. those kids
had never known a full house.
i’ll never forget that
for nearly a week,
…haven’t been hungry since.
Tomorrow is not my birthday
but all the math will change again.
More to busy me, more to figure and record.
More to have. More to let go.