Monthly Archives: July 2009

A Resident Mountain Lion

My first night sleeping in New York City I was convinced crazy people were crawling up my fire escape to rob and brutalize me.

But no, it was the clank and clatter of a city.

My first night sleeping in Montana, I was sure an angry bear was breaking down the screen door to eat me.

But no, it was a persistent wind.

Adjusting to the ways of a new place takes a while. 

After three weeks living on 100-acres where large potentially aggressive animals do roam, I’m trying to be composed about it and not lambast myself for being scared or cautious. Right when I thought I was slipping into a Zen place about solo exploring through huckleberries, we met our neighbor, a woman who has lived here for 25 years.

“Oh yeah, there’s a resident mountain lion, she explained, “But she knows the rules.” 

“Does that scare you?” I asked, trying to seem aloof about it… Continue reading


Filed under Environment, Orienting

Clowns 1, KKK 0

via Rob Brezsny

clownaraThis story is almost two years old, but it’s still a fantastic tale of using lively humor to puncture hate.

Posted in its entirety; originally from Asheville Indymedia:

Unfortunately for [VNN] the 100th ARA (Anti Racist Action) clown block came and handed them their asses by making them appear like the asses they were.

Alex Linder the founder of VNN and the lead organizer of the rally kicked off events by rushing the clowns in a fit of rage, and was promptly arrested by 4 Knoxville police officers who dropped him to the ground when he resisted and dragged him off past the red shiny shoes of the clowns.

“White Power!” the Nazi’s shouted, “White Flour?” the clowns yelled back running in circles throwing flour in the air and raising separate letters which spelt “White Flour”.

Continue reading


Filed under Beauty in a Wicked World, Race, Theater

Street Art: Noticing Where You Live

lauren1I’ve been thinking about how people actively connect to place. Not everyone is active in this process; many let it happen to them; many do not notice. But my cousin Lauren is always in an active phase. She strolls through cities with her point-n-shoot in her pocket­–looking for street art. I even had the privilege of her showing me around NYC, the city I lived in, and indoctrinating me into who painted what, who pasted up what, how, why. It is a knowledge she has cultivated. And done best in her own hometown of Chicago for the past three years. For example, her photo to the right is a “tip toe heart in hands paste-up, chicago.”

“It’s the reason walking these streets I’ve walked for 25 years stays interesting. My eyes are always darting around. Down alleys and around corners.”

She likes observing how a community represents itself in its own space. Now she sees every city she goes to in the context of street art. It’s like being a cyclist who notices the detailed cracks or fissures of any road. It’s a lens–perhaps a way of claiming place. Even Chicago Public Radio has discovered her flickr site and showcased her photos. 



Below is a story straight from Lauren’s email to me: (three of her photos here are #1 choke and goons paste ups, chicago, #2 miss van ice cream girl, toulousse, #3 C215 stencil on the pompidou, paris)

Continue reading


Filed under Environment, Orienting, Pop Culture


Therapy Thursdays


Filed under General, Therapy Thursdays

Flickr Search Inspiration

It’s been a busy week. From writing and shooting a three-minute PSA for a film competition to battling squash vine borers in our garden, almost every waking minute has been accounted for.

This afternoon, looking for writing practice prompts, I discovered a quick way to find visual inspiration: the Flickr search engine. I just searched for “blue” in everyone’s uploads on Flickr, and got pages and pages of beautiful images, from barn walls to butterflies. I’ve also searched for “kitten,” “peace,” “feta,” and “America.” Try it, and see how long it takes you to find an image that moves you.

Beauty in a Wicked World is a weekly column by Jennifer Gandin Le. It appears on Wednesdays.


Filed under Art, Beauty in a Wicked World, Writing

To The Ashram We Go

Has this hard economic time tempted you to hightail it to the ashram?

The New York Times says that people are going in droves.

After a “hard time” living in a provocative desert that threw my body off-kilter, I thought sitting still would do me good. I didn’t want to (nor could I afford) “going to the ashram,” which I’d read about somewhere. At the ashram, Hollywood-esque folks paid an exorbitant price to be forced to eat only kale, hike and sweat it out, and lose 20 pounds to fit into a dress for next month’s party. I wanted something authentic, which to 23-year-old me meant Hindu monks in saffron robes teaching us the intricacies of the Bhagavad Gita.

I found the exact place in the Catskill Mountains and laid down a precious, hard-earned $2,000, the most monumental straight-cash purchase of my young life. We sat crossed-legged for hours–chanting, meditating and doing yoga asanas for 30 days in a row. My inflexible hips opened too quickly, a mistake I am reminded of every time they crack and click. We read ancient texts. We even wore white uniforms. I was one of the four people who camped on the soggy lawn. It was a wet September. Everyone else slept in the housing barn. We ate brown rice and vegetables; our one taste of sweet manifested as shriveled dates. I eyed these delicacies and when the communal breakfast platter made its way across the room to me, I had to steady myself from snatching my one date, from snarfing it up like a pig. On the last day my new friend, an Irish woman recovering from cocaine addiction, admitted that every night Continue reading


Filed under Environment, Health, In The News, Orienting

(500) Days of Summer: A Love Letter to a Not-Love-Story

500-days-of-summerDear Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber, Marc Webb, Eric Steelberg, the producers, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel, and everyone else involved in making the movie (500) Days of Summer,

I’ve been subconsciously writing this letter for four months, since I first saw your movie at SXSW. I wrote on this site about my screening experience, but looking back, my post seems flippant and doesn’t indicate the depth to which your story delighted me. My husband wasn’t with me at the SXSW screening, which was unfortunate, because as soon as the credits rolled, I knew he would see himself on that screen. (As will many, many men my age.) Last night, I took him to see the movie at another screening in town.

I loved the movie again, maybe even more this time. You have created a masterful film that captures countless desperately honest moments. It was a visceral pleasure to watch. And I want to articulate some of the reasons why it has touched me so significantly.

I’ll cut here so I can spill lots of spoilers below. (Crucial Minutiae readers, if you’re going to see this movie, bookmark this post and come back once you’ve seen it. I don’t want to ruin your viewing experience.)

Continue reading


Filed under Beauty in a Wicked World, Gender, Movies, Music, Pop Culture, Random, Relationships, Writing