Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Summer renovations and developments

By daring at all to open the
subject warned of, above, an
innocent seasonality in the
structure of the problem im-
mediately divides a reader-
ship already tested repeat-
edly by opinion, into halves
separated by the Equator.
We must allow, therefore, a
reasonably ambiguous portrait
of ourselves to launch this
impartial inquiry. We cannot
allow one man's Summer to
stand for another man's envy,
burrow as one may toward the
preferred hemisphere.

Who can know how much those
synchronised rotations of an
academic year have thrust us
upon the season of abandon-
ment to self-discipline, so
repeatedly, as to have endow-
ed that liberation with such
residual interferences of hab-
itual "achievement," as to o-
verlay our innocence with ac-
quired reflexes of guilt for
simple play? Do we ask if this
is fair; do we even remember

There, one may find oneself,
turning a simple mushroom bav-
arois from the cookbook of Le
Gavroche - summer camp child's
play of yore (recipe to follow)
- in one of those ongoing fits
of renovation and self-improve-
ment which found us reading Ol-
iver Twist in childhood on the
sand or, dare we say, the snowy
slope. The inertia of competi-
tion with time, itself, is at
its most visibly extenuated in
Summer, needing to look good.
Still, Dickens on deprivation
pairs nicely in the mind loosed
upon a season of free-range re-
freshment, with its rarer del-

Fitzgerald, usually our re-
liable guide to such distinc-
tions on either side of par-
adise, closed his Summeriest
of all creations with that
timeless reference to a beat-
ing back against the current,
which we come to identify as
the self-selected Summer syl-
labus. I hazard the guess that 
we revisit - relish - the con-
duct of those encounters for
their trials of our framing,
of desire and extrapolation.
We mean no betrayal of self-
improvement, to improvise ap-
proaches offering pleasure.

We are never reading one thing,
imaging one ingredient. I hap-
pen to have open Michel Roux,
and E.L. Doctorow, virtuosi in
the simplicity of superior cui-

         .. I stood across the narrow street in the
         weeds and rocks overlooking the tracks and
         demonstrated my latest accomplishment, the
         juggling of a set of objects of unequal 
         weight, a Galilean maneuver involving two
         rubber balls, a navel orange, an egg, and
         a black stone, wherein the art of the thing
         is in creating a flow nevertheless, main-
         taining the apogee from a kind of rhythm 
         of compensating throws, and it is a trick
         of such consummate discipline that the bet-
         ter it is done the easier and less remark-
         able it looks to the uninitiated .. I was
         juggling my own self as well in a kind of
         matching spiritual feat ..

2.5 cups white button
  mushrooms, thinly

salt, white pepper,

3.33 cups cream

3 sheets gelatin

lemon juice

           Put the mushrooms in a saucepan, season well,
           add half the cream, and bring to a boil; the
           mushrooms will be cooked in two minutes. Soak
           the gelatin in cold water until soft, squeeze
           dry, and add to the mushrooms; purée until
           smooth. Let cool.

           When nearly set, fold in the remaining cream,
           lightly whipped, check the seasoning, and add
           a little lemon juice if needed. Cover and re-
           frigerate for at least six hours

           Using two tablespoons dipped in hot water,
           shape into quenelles and serve with toasted

E.L. Doctorow
Billy Bathgate
Random House, 1989©

  Dedicated to his great
  editor, Jason Epstein,
  whose own Eating: A
  Memoir, 2009, belongs.

Michel Roux, Jr
Le Gavroche Cookbook
Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2003©

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

House ii

  To mark rmbl's fifth
  year, I happily turn
  to an admired compil-
  ation by J.D. McClat-
  chy which I've cited
  repeatedly over the
  years, without per-
  mission. One cannot
  claim authority, ei-
  ther, not to share a
  a generous creation.

      And suddenly now this small
    Unlooked for joy. Where did it come from,
      With these pale shoots
    And drooping lavender bell? Persistent
      Intruder, whether or not
    I want you, you've hidden in the heart's
      Overworked subsoil. Hacked at
    Or trampled on, may you divide and spread,
      Just as, last night,
    The wind scattered a milkweed across the sky.

J.D. McClatchy
The Rest of the Way
  fragment: 2nd of 2 verses
op. cit.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Suggested, the Biden candidacy

    For the convenience of the reader-
    ship outside of the United States,
    whose interest I value greatly, it
    is enough to beg their indulgence
    in yet another domestic political
    comment, with repercussions, how-
    ever, of broader potential reach.

    It has become the responsible view,
    that projects under way in the cur-
    rent Presidency are of sufficient
    vulnerability to unravelling by a
    successor, even of the same Party,
    to favour one whose professional
    investment in them is unquestion-
    able, whose moral commitment to
    them may be trusted, whose sup-
    port of them will not subject 
    them to extraneous denigration,
    and whose capacity to shoulder 
    them is demonstrable.

    This therefore obligates those who
    concur with the first part, to sup-
    port the implication of the second.
    The only American politician defined
    by these criteria is Joe Biden.

    Let's see that he runs, and let's be
    ready to extend every encouragement. 

President and Vice-President
of the United States, announ-
cing an arms control accord,
Washington, July 14, 2015

Getty Images©

Saturday, July 25, 2015


 When my spirit
 was overwhelmed
 within me, then
 thou knewest my
 path. In the way
 wherein I walked
 have they privi-
 ly laid a snare
 for me.

 I looked on my
 right hand, and
 beheld .. there
 was no man that
 would know me:
 refuge failed 
 me; no one cared
 for my soul.

 I said, thou art
 my refuge and my
 portion in the
 land of the living.


Psalm 141

Richard Meier
Douglas House
Harbor Springs

Luke Smalley photo

Lake Mendota

Friday, July 24, 2015

Suppose it were Friday cvi: Going anywhere in Balmain

Casual Friday
at the plant.

  People are spilling out of the windows of the buildings,
  Or are jumping out to escape the vaporizing heat
  And exploding when they hit the street ..

   But to have
   Barragán to
   dry off in.

Frederick Seidel
  Nice Weather
  Transport [fragment]
op. cit.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Parental advisory: Texas has a new prank

Who ever met so many Germans who didn't know about the camps, as Texans who disclaim awareness of Texas? That's easily explained,   of course. We weren't yet born when the Germans didn't know about the camps, and where we were educated, Texans were reasonably plentiful. Now they are older, and even more fastidiously unin-formed, we shouldn't doubt. But Texas has come up with a prank of such illustrious pedigree, even the most obtuse must be impressed.

The people of the state of Texas are denying birth certificates to American infants born in Texas, whose parents are unable to account for their own nation of citizenship, under the state's sudden, novel, and exquisitely sadistic new documentary criteria. This is unconstitutional -- unambiguously, starkly, and even by Texan standards, unspeakably. Readers who would like to move along to the latest news of shimmering distractions are welcome to toggle the phrase, an English dog in the sidebar search column now; and the children should be excused. I dislike this chore but it can't be abbreviated, so prolific are the denials to critique. The estab-lished system had three defects: it was efficient, it was rational, and it conserved families.

This one has to do with taking delight in subjecting the newborn to harm, as a crowbar for tearing apart their family. An ingenious inversion, you may say, of the judgment of Solomon. Our German exemplars in these tactics, in their Nuremberg Laws, understood their underlying pleasure by the term, "schadenfreude." Surely, many will squirm in gigglingest glee, at the sight of families suffering for this peremptory administrative decree; and naturally, there will be multitudes to exult in the deniability of the whole untouchable process. But to American demographers these parlour games deserve the hopeful title, "political suicide."

Do we remember, that the state of Texas is now instructing its public school children that Moses wrote the Constitution of the United States? Possibly that lesson plan elides the detail of Pharaoh's hounding of his people to give up their infants, whence Moses was sequestered for known historic purposes. Texas is using the newborn to torment their parents to abandon them to the state, in exchange for documenting that they exist, lest they be denied health care, education, and the slightest, flimsiest protections of the citizenship irrevocably conferred by the United States.

Not that any of us, searching his family tree, can cite an ancestor who needed to document his own condition of citizen-ship, to substantiate the citizenship of his offspring. But Texas pleads that this grotesque intent is unintended; its bureaucracy merely wishes to align claims of relationship with accuracy. Texas weeps, pathetic-ally, about an imagined rash of fraudulent claims of parentage, a temptation somehow very high among non-citizens - when not stuffing ballot boxes, that is.

One does not ask why Texans are doing this, for of course they are not. Texas is. It is hard to be Texan, when in another election cy-cle or two, fertility rates will paint policies such as these into a corner smaller than the Alamo; and so the bravery, the radiant mar-tyrdom so characteristic of every racist self-defense by regulatory means, merits our admiring regard. It was all very legal and reason-able, for the Nuremberg Laws of 1934 and after, to take note of the ethnicity of one's grandparents - one out of four, would do - and an elementary safeguard against fraudulent exemption from vituperation and ostracism, to compel such disclosures by the parent. We must revisit Jackson's Seminole Wars for adequate precedent, for this targeted, wholesale expulsion of our citizens from our nation's protection. 

The comparison startles? Doesn't such zeal to deprive American citizens of the bonds of family, simply to achieve that purpose and no other, manifest the shiningest sincerity of cruelty? This can not be derided as small change, much less exalted by distinguishing its banality from its putrid moral roots. These are Texas' own excuses for this, and they must dazzle the mind of everyone acquainted with the Old Testament, let alone the twentieth century. We are left con-fidently to trust, an infant must escape the eyes of Texas in this decree, to instruct it soon enough in the acts of Moses.

Thobias Malmberg

Xavier Serrano

Luke Edward Hall
Blue + Square
By permission
  of the artist©