Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Traveling Babo Uglydoll Adventures

This Flickr series of "Traveling Babo Uglydoll Adventures" cracked me up...I especially liked the ones with babo at Easter Island and the beach at Cabo San Lucas. Series like this are nothing new, of course, but I really like the Ugly Doll aspect of it...the little guy has character. Click here for the slide show.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Bear and the Berry Picker

The image above is of a woodcut print by artist Carlos Cortez (1923-2005), titled "The Bear and the Berry Picker." It is one of eleven original prints by Cortez that are now on display at Stumpjack Coffee Company in Two Rivers. The prints range, in subject matter, from Mexican Day of the Dead imagery (skeletons), workers rights and unionization, folk music, and history of Mexico. This particular image is the only one that shows any overt nudity (if you don't count the skeleton imagery...think about it) and is also the most overtly sexual in theme. The subject matter of "The Bear and the Berry Picker" relates to, as told to me by Cortez, a Mexican folk tale, the details of which I have forgotten over the years.

As I recall, the story is not too dissimilar from stories coming out of any number of indigenous cultures, as well as early European fables. It goes something like this: A bear (or coyote or wolf or some other wily critter) tricks or seduces one or more female berry pickers, the ruse's outcome of which is procreation and/or transformation by either the animal, the female(s) or the offspring.
There often seems to be some aspect of the myth surrounding feral children to these tales (human children raised in the wild by nonhuman animals). Feral children are often thought to have certain characteristics that are superior in some way to "normal" human children, attributes such as great strength, intelligence or insight. The belief is that they are so gifted because they have been raised in a "purer" environment, unpolluted by civilization and humankind's corrupted state of being. These beings often are at the foundation of a culture's myths of origin (think of Rome's mythical founders, Romulus and Remus, for example).

In any event (I'm getting off track here and am allowing the historian in me to push his way through), the real purpose of this post is to talk about the surface image itself. A lady came into Stumpjack today and by all appearances was having a wonderful time (great lunch, mocha and conversation)...until she wandered into the back and saw the Cortez print, at which point she expressed her offense and scolded me for displaying the image. Yes, to answer your obvious question, she was an older lady, yet well dressed and obviously (to me) not uneducated and socially connected in some way. I addressed her lament with what I think was good humor and politeness, although I did not acquiesce to her mandate that I remove the print altogether.

I confess that I found the exchange both amusingly interesting and yet a little disappointing at the same time. Interesting because I, of course, mentally flashed through any number of Renaissance and Neo-Classical images of entirely nude or semi-nude figures, mythical half human/half animal creatures, and erotic subject matter...that I would bet five pounds of fine Puerto Rican coffee this good lady is well aware of and doesn't so much as raise an eyebrow at.

Of course often much of the issue of whether or not something is deemed offensive has to do with context. Was it the image itself that offended her (would she have found it as distasteful had she viewed it at, for example, the Art Institute of Chicago, in a gilded frame with other objects de arte on either side)? Or did the fact that she discovered it in a small, tastefully appointed coffee shop in Two Rivers create a jarring enough juxtaposition for her to nevertheless be taken aback by the (what I consider) rather innocuous and cartoony nudity of the piece?

This incident was not entirely unexpected, as I did think we might get few comments on that particular piece, although I thought the comments would be of the more humorous and playfully sarcastic sort. I really didn't believe that anyone who came to Stumpjack would actually be offended or upset by it (in my capacity as a small business owner I certainly don't desire to offend or upset). The intent is largely to stimulate conversation, provoke thought, present something hopefully new and interesting, and to possibly educate or create greater awareness (stay tuned for our next scheduled exhibition of Robert Mapplethorpe

Thursday, November 8, 2007

October 19th! Holy Crappy Breakfast Batman!

I just realized that my last post on here was on October 19th, almost three weeks ago! Yikes, where does the time go?! I'll need to get something new on here soon (not like anyone actually reads this drivel anyway, but for my own sense of purpose if nothing else). In the meantime, here's a little article I just read that cracked me up...about Starbucks and their efforts to become even more like McDonalds. Love the "frosted toast" line...

Starbucks Tries to Wrap

04:55 PM PDT on Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Starbucks has started selling hot food, well, technically.

I visited a Starbucks at Third and Market streets in Riverside and ordered an egg wrap ($3.25) with bacon, avocado and cheddar.

The guy behind the counter reached into a drawer for a prepackaged tortilla, unwrapped the plastic and put it in a convection oven for two minutes.

At that point, I realized I had just spent $3 for a Hot Pocket.

This is either a picture of egg wraps sold at Starbucks or two of the world's ugliest scones.

Starbucks should sell Pop Tarts, change the name to "frosted toast" and call the rainbow sprinkles "flavor seeds."

If you're looking for something fast to fill you up with your daily java fix, an egg wrap will do the trick.

Starbucks also sells an array of breakfast sandwiches that look and taste like Egg McMuffins. None of it seems up to the coffee giant's usually high standards.

The wrap's tortilla was alternately doughy and crispy, and the contents tasted prefabricated and refrigerated.

At the very least, Starbucks should move the oven out of view and pay a guy to make cooking sounds with a spatula.