Adventures of Hoogrrl!

A person who appears to be ambling aimlessly, but is secretly in search of adventure.

Browsing Posts published in March, 2006

We hiked over four hours to reach this breathtaking view of the Torres del Paine, 2800 meter granite monoliths that soar over the Patagonia. Even as we stood in front of the torres and saw them with our own eyes, it did not seem real, but more like a backdrop to a movie or something that exists on another planet.

The last hour of the hike was a knee-popping scramble up a steep terrain of giant boulders. (The descent was even crueler.) Glacial waters streamed down the vertical faces of the torres and into a green pool that did not belong in the natural spectrum of colors to which urban eyes have become accustomed. We arrived before most of the early morning day hikers and so were able to enjoy it as if we were among an elite and hearty few. Soon, hikers perched on every rock in sight and it was time to make our way back down in silent awe.

How do I get in this line up??

Went to open mic night at Busboys and Poets last night to hear Josefin Holmberg sing and play the piano. The night consisted mostly of raw, almost bitter, poetry filled with black anger. I don’t think anyone had any idea that they would soon be enchanted by this charismatic Swedish songstress. It was a contrast that somehow lightened the night’s mood while intensifying the experience of the poetry. She brought the house down singing original music in her soulful, almost magically expressive voice.

When I hear her sing, I get that pit in my stomach that usually visits me in the presence of beauty and perfection. Other times I have felt it: the first time I saw Van Gogh’s Starry Night at the old MOMA, listening to Holst’s The Planets (the Saturn section), climbing among the ruins of Angkor Wat, watching the movie In the Mood For Love, that sunny day after Christmas at Crystal River when we sat on a dock drinking beer with David Poole and Santa and his Elves motored up in their skiff (I got to sit on Santa’s lap!). There have been other instances, but not many.

What is this pit? Sadness at the knowledge that I will never possess such talent? Absolute joy that I have the privilege to enjoy something so beautiful? Awe at the power of humanity, for all its foibles, to produce excellence? All of it all at once.

Listen for yourself:

And check out Busboys and Poets, too!


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Some of my favorite movie dialogue comes from a 1999 movie called Guinevere, starring Sarah Polley, Stephen Rea, and Jean Smart. Jean Smart delivers an ugly monologue with so much venom that it required a mental shower after I first heard it and I still feel a little icky reading it now.

-Oh, before I go, I would really like to ask you a question. And I can’t tell you how valuable an honest response would be to me.

-She’s starting.
-I have my own theories about this, but I really would love to hear it from you.
-Ask away.
-What do you have against women your own age?
-Mom, please don’t.
- Shut up, Harper. Look, I’m smiling. I promise your answer won’t hurt my feelings.
- I don’t have anything against women my own age.
- Sure you do. I tell you what. I’ll tell you my theory, and . . . you just jump in any time. All right? Oh, you can sit. For starters, I don’t really think . . . that your young girl predilection has much to do with . . . their firm, young flesh. I mean, when someone like you is out with someone like Harper, you must invite all kinds of comparison and ridicule, which can’t be much fun . . . for either of you. Right, honey? So then, what is . . . a man of, uh, your age . . . doing with my 19-year-old daughter? It’d be easy enough to say you’re afraid of mature women, but that’s so glib. Afraid of what, exactly? So I kept thinking. And then it hit me. I know exactly what she has that I haven’t got. Awe. That’s it, isn’t it? I mean, no real woman — no woman of experience would ever stand in front of you . . . with awe in her eyes . . . and say,”Wow, look at that man. Look at that bohemian wedding photographer with . . . holes in his jeans. Gosh, isn’t he something?” No. I mean, it takes a naive girl for that. It takes Harper for that. So what do you think? Am I right?
-You’re some woman, Deborah.
-Mrs. Sloane. I’m Mrs. Sloane.

The elation of awe clouds reason and all you can see is what you want to see. It’s painful and terrible when you eventually and inevitably lose awe and the object of your awe turns back into the shmo that he or she really is. Self-loathing sets in for having thought this once awe-inspiring person was ever worthy of your adoration in the first place and you hate this person even more than you ever adored him or her because you feel tricked and deceived. You feel like an idiot! The first time it happens is when you’re a child and you revere your parents until you become old enough to realize your parents are human and have weaknesses and foibles and are not invincible and all-knowing as you once thought. That is our first experience with awe and after, we are much more careful about doling it out until one day we lose any sense of awe at all. Losing the ability to have awe may be worst of all.


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Lise Bruneau gave a spellbinding performance of Sylvia Plath’s Tulips at the Taffety Punk party. Critics have said that “her voice is beautifully expressive” and that she is “glowingly charismatic….piercingly intelligent….She is incredible.” All true. I admire her and daresay, I am in awe of her.

Check her out at


The tulips are too excitable, it is winter here.
Look how white everything is, how quiet, how snowed-in
I am learning peacefulness, lying by myself quietly
As the light lies on these white walls, this bed, these hands.
I am nobody; I have nothing to do with explosions.
I have given my name and my day-clothes up to the nurses
And my history to the anaesthetist and my body to surgeons.

They have propped my head between the pillow and the sheet-cuff
Like an eye between two white lids that will not shut.
Stupid pupil, it has to take everything in.
The nurses pass and pass, they are no trouble,
They pass the way gulls pass inland in their white caps,
Doing things with their hands, one just the same as another,
So it is impossible to tell how many there are.

My body is a pebble to them, they tend it as water
Tends to the pebbles it must run over, smoothing them gently.
They bring me numbness in their bright needles, they bring me sleep.
Now I have lost myself I am sick of baggage —-
My patent leather overnight case like a black pillbox,
My husband and child smiling out of the family photo;
Their smiles catch onto my skin, little smiling hooks.

I have let things slip, a thirty-year-old cargo boat
Stubbornly hanging on to my name and address.
They have swabbed me clear of my loving associations.
Scared and bare on the green plastic-pillowed trolley
I watched my teaset, my bureaus of linen, my books
Sink out of sight, and the water went over my head.
I am a nun now, I have never been so pure.

I didn’t want any flowers, I only wanted
To lie with my hands turned up and be utterly empty.
How free it is, you have no idea how free —-
The peacefulness is so big it dazes you,
And it asks nothing, a name tag, a few trinkets.
It is what the dead close on, finally; I imagine them
Shutting their mouths on it, like a Communion tablet.

The tulips are too red in the first place, they hurt me.
Even through the gift paper I could hear them breathe
Lightly, through their white swaddlings, like an awful baby.
Their redness talks to my wound, it corresponds.
They are subtle: they seem to float, though they weigh me down,
Upsetting me with their sudden tongues and their colour,
A dozen red lead sinkers round my neck.

Nobody watched me before, now I am watched.
The tulips turn to me, and the window behind me
Where once a day the light slowly widens and slowly thins,
And I see myself, flat, ridiculous, a cut-paper shadow
Between the eye of the sun and the eyes of the tulips,
And I hve no face, I have wanted to efface myself.
The vivid tulips eat my oxygen.

Before they came the air was calm enough,
Coming and going, breath by breath, without any fuss.
Then the tulips filled it up like a loud noise.
Now the air snags and eddies round them the way a river
Snags and eddies round a sunken rust-red engine.
They concentrate my attention, that was happy
Playing and resting without committing itself.

The walls, also, seem to be warming themselves.
The tulips should be behind bars like dangerous animals;
They are opening like the mouth of some great African cat,
And I am aware of my heart: it opens and closes
Its bowl of red blooms out of sheer love of me.
The water I taste is warm and salt, like the sea,
And comes from a country far away as health.

-Sylvia Plath


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Sandra and I met at the Gagosian Gallery on Madison to see the Pino Pascali exhibition.

Pascali is associated with Post-Minimalism and, specifically, with the Italian Arte Povera movement, whose protagonists sought to incorporate everyday life into art through the use of natural, organic and, often, unorthodox materials. In his short yet vital career (the artist died at the age of only thirty-two), Pascali displayed a subtle and sophisticated approach to the canon of sculpture. His sculptures function both as constructed objects and also as a distinct visual code.

Sandra’s friend Valentina works at Gagosian and curated the exhibition. “Valentina is the most glamorous woman I know,” proclaimed Sandra. And now that I have met her, she is the most glamourous woman I know.

Valentina is Italian and speaks English perfectly and graciously, with an accent that bespeaks euro-sophistication. She wears fabulous clothes that anyone could be told to put on their bodies, but not anyone could have thought to put together on their own or wear with the same savoir faire and aplomb. She speaks the language of art with deftness and brilliance. I am in awe.

Lindsay the Victoria’s Secret model picked us up in her chauffered Lincoln Town Car around 12:30 AM from the Cafe Charbon in the Lower East Side and took us to the Pink Elephant, in the Meatpacking District. She looked like she’d just walked off a fashion shoot, while we looked like we’d just come from a shopping spree at Express. Lindsay was escorted by Derek, a beautiful boy from Tennessee who works at her modeling agency. He loved Dolly Parton and couldn’t wait to take Lindsay to DollyWorld, “an homage” to the great woman herself. As much as I wanted to experience the Pink Elephant, we ended up not going inside with them and I regret it. I think I would have died young if I had ever lived in New York City. I’d like to live my life without regret.

What is a Taffety Punk?
We chose a name with classical reverberations and modern kick. The term “Taffety Punk” appears in Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well, and in that context means roughly “a well-dressed whore.” Sound a little crazy? Consider that 400 years later Uta Hagen, lamenting the death of the actor-driven theatre in America, likened actors to prostitutes pimping themselves to producers. The word punk now is used to describe members of a rebellious counter culture or a smoldering substance used to ignite fireworks.
Our company members grew up in the punk underground, and there honed an artistic aesthetic thatembraces the positive and the possible. The greatest lessons we learned from Punk Rock: be who you are and fight for your ideals. We continue to do so today, in whatever costumes we are wearing.

The mission:

Our mission is to establish a dynamic ensemble, to integrate acting, dance, and music into a collision of forms that ignites a public passion for theatre, to produce the highest quality work, and to make the classical and the contemporary exciting, meaningful, and affordable.

We envision a theatre with a living function in a community: to examine, to teach, to share, to provide a laboratory for the human experience, and a space for different people to meet. As members of the community we intend to be active and present in it.

For more information, go to

Isn’t this newly discovered crustacean adorable? It is called Kiwa hirsuta and is so unusual that scientists created a new family and genus for it: Kiwaida, from Kiwa, the goddess of crustaceans in Polynesian mythology. Divers found the silky, blond lobster-like creature 900 miles south of Easter Island, 7,540 feet below the water’s surface.

Every evening, Coconut Harry walks down the molasses encrusted road from his eponymous surf shop to watch the sunset on Playa Guiones. He stands on the bluff at the beach entrance, a small blue cooler hangs from one hand while a sweating can of Imperial beer nestles in the other. He is always shirtless, his body deeply bronzed by the sun and chiseled by years of surfing.

He gazes out at the ocean and the sky as tired, dripping surfers carrying surfboards under one arm return from the ocean. They pay respects as they pass.

“Hi, Harry.”
Harry nods imperceptibly and parts his lips in a slight smile.

“Howya doin’, Harry?”
Harry lifts his beer a couple inches to acknowledge the greeting.

As the sun sinks closer to the horizon and the colors fade away, he chats with a few locals. Asks them about their rides that day and talks about what the weather will be like in the morning. Harry surfs in the mornings, when the offshore winds hold up the waves in perfect, long cylinders.
This ritual lasts ten months of the year. When the rains kick up from September through November, he returns home to Virginia Beach, just as East Coast surfing improves with hurricane powered waves.