Sunday, December 31, 2006


The other night I could not sleep. All night. In the midst of the tossing and turning and surfing, I grabbed the notebook beside the bed and wrote something I can barely make out:

Cannot sleep again.
Thirsty, tired & mind
is running like crazy. cannot
sleep on right side or
s.i. hurts.

a banana, more water,

Then a thought-
I need to get rid of
sequinned 40 in 04 dress

The dress in question is the silver mini-dress, above, which I wore to our big 40 in '04 birthday celebration. I picked it up at a vintage clothing store when my mother was still (barely) alive, and immediately felt guilty. But she said to hold onto it - that I'd eventually find a use for it.

Eight years later I finally wore it for the first time. The party was fab -- there were many bands, wonderful food, several birthday celebrants, plentiful revelers, and one human disco ball -- me.

After the party my male friend at the time told me to change before we went to the 24-hour Mexican restaurant. I found this odd but complied.

One week later he broke up with me.

Then I learnt he was seeing one of the revelers. Not long after they became the proud parents of twins!

Once again Caca facilitates a marriage.

Once again Caca narrowly escapes a disaster.

The dress was still on the hanger when I brought it to the thrift store today. I had to get rid of it before the year ended. When I set it down some staffers gathered around and said how glad they were to have it.

It's their problem now.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

NeVeR MiNd DoNna KaRaN....

HeRe'S RuSsElL SiMmOnS.

There was ANOTHER huge accident in front of my house tonight. According to a bystander the car flipped over several times before landing upright. Along the way it bounced into several other vehicles. It would have hit the bystander's wife's car, too. But, luckily, she was at work. Phew.

I heard it all from my desk; the screeching and those awful loud thuds that can only come from one 3000-pound metal projectile slamming into another. Or, in this case, several others.

It's happened so many times over the years. The screech, the thuds. In the early years, before the world was wireless, I'd phone it in myself.

As usual it seems no one was hurt, but many vehicles were dented.

And many bystanders, who crept from their homes like roaches after dark, were well entertained.

I walked out of my building to gape at the same time as one of my new neighbors.

(Some background; while I was in India, two or three apartments in my building changed hands. The new tenants seem to know my neighbor-across-the-way, Jennywhatever, and there's a lot of cooking and stomping up and down the rear stairs. Unlike previous tenants (Neck Tattoo and the Firef--ker nonwithstanding) they've been unusually weird/unfriendly. Was life so good while I was away? I mean, I sign for their packages and walk around in SOCKS, for cryin' out loud).

Anyway, I said to my new-ish neighbor that there had been a similar accident in the same spot about a month ago, and that you should never park in front of the building if you can help it. He wondered why the accidents keep happening. I was too tired to say "because it's a four-lane street and people go too fast and no one has been able to see the other cars ever since the mayor installed giant cement planters in the middle of the street." Instead I suggested that there was something wrong with this particular intersection. He was like, "it's rough everywhere."

No, it's rough HERE.

I didn't tell him that oftimes people who live in the building go out to their cars in the morning only to find them dented beyond recognition. It even happened to me.

Later I heard the new-ish neighbor agree with another (male) bystander that it's a bad intersection, and that he himself never parks in front of the building.


Wonder if he knows I've been stealing his internet....*

Last time around, the car in question flipped over and settled on its side right in front of my building. I was about to leave for work, and my first thought was, "That thing better not be blocking me in."**

Before the firetrucks arrived a group of guys -- and a few women -- tried to push the car upright. They were not successful. But it was fun to gape anyway.


*Actually I only borrow the neighbor's internet when mine takes too long to upload photos

****Actually the first thing I do is offer up a prayer whenever I hear those thuds or see a rescue squad or run across (not over) a dead animal or a homeless person or someone in agony or hear about a death.

Friday, December 29, 2006


Today's Sun-Times carried the headline Duty Delayed.
I hate it when that happens.

The New York Times carried a stinky piece called Meditate on Thi$, about how yoga is big business.
Apparently Liz Claiborne bought Prana.
Longtime yogini Donna Karan would have been a far better fit.
Speaking of which....the reporter neglected to mention that yoga plays a prominent role in the overplayed TV ad for the Herpes medication Valtrex.
Because yogis can be carriers, too.

Also today -- Merce Cunningham turned 87.
His voice soothes like no one else's. And his outlook!
I'm pretty sure he's self-realized.
Sometimes he goes around in a wheelchair
Nonetheless NewYorkians can apparently still take classes with him.
Lucky CSers.

Speaking of self-realization.... Dharma Mittra sometimes goes around on a Segway.
He's 67, and I'm pretty sure he's a clairvoyant.
NYers can still take classes with him, too.
Just don't ask too many questions about teacher training.*


*The person I've been e-mailing about TT has been giving some, uh, vague answers about the reading list and the required "apprenticeship." I know I should take it all on faith but as a starving skeptical journalist I'm just not there yet. If anyone knows anything, please do tell.

Thursday, December 28, 2006


Christmas Eve. The family is sitting and standing in the kitchen, drinking, snacking and joking about the baby Jeebus.

Koppel, holding a large Jack + Coke, looks down and notices a brown speck on the floor.

"What's that?" he asks, squatting and peering at it.

"It looks like a raisin," offers Drey.

"It looks like a baby cockroach," says Caca.

Koppel bends down and reaches for the raisinlike thing. The rest of the family watches, rapt, as he stands up and rolls it between the first two fingers of his left hand.

"Let me see it," says Drey, walking closer to him.

Koppel proffers the brown bit to Drey, who brings his face closer.

Time seems to stand still as everyone continues to watch, motionless.

"It doesn't look like a raisin," says Dreyfus, slowly putting it up to his nose. He inhales deeply, and suddenly jerks back his head.

"It's shit!" he yells, his voice high. "Ewwwwww!" he screams, waving his arms. "Get that shit away from me."

Koppel calmly walks towards the garbage can and throws the thing out. Then he washes his hands.

"That came from someone's shoe," he says.

Caca lifts up her foot and performs a twisty yoga move that allows her to look at the sole of her hideous-but-sensible Earth Shoes. Her face clouds when she sees the light brown dogshit packed into the the tread.

"It's me," she says meekly, and starts skulking towards the back door. The group moves away from her, as if she were a Baby Ruth bar floating in a public swimming pool.

"Take those things off!" yells Drey, his voice still high. "You can't wear them here!" Putting down his Scotch, he bends over and starts scanning the floor for more turds. Caca puts her shoes in the garage and returns to the kitchen.

"It's all over the place," yells Drey from the hallway. "What the f--k? Where in the hell were you?"

Caca ignores him and apologizes profusely to her poor polluted nephew, who once did indeed resemble the carrot-top newscaster Ted Koppel. Drey, crouching, continues searching the house for hidden poop.

"It's in here, too," he yells from the bathroom. "Where else were you?"

"I was in your bedroom -- and in your office too," Caca yells. She is joking but he doesn't know that. Feeling dirty, she apologizes again and washes her hands at the sink.

"The one on the left is antibacterial," says Monca, pointing.

"I knew there weren't any raisins in the food," she adds.

Caca apologizes again to Koppel, who now has a fresh drink.

"At least it was your poo hand."

Photo of 'Layna.Xmas.Hoop takem by Drey and processed by Caca

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


My first student today asked me to adjust her more strongly in an intense forward bend. I'd never seen her before and didn't know her practice, plus her breathing was rough and uneven. So what if it was a Mysore class. I told her I wouldn't do it.

My last student today asked me not to adjust him at all. He was visiting from another city and had some back issues. Apparently he'd been injured many times while practicing ashtanga -- but only when someone was adjusting him. When he mentioned the cracked rib I said, "Did it happen during a Marichyasana adjustment?" Of course it did. I feel your pain.

Between episodes I subbed a half-hour class called Yoga on the Ball. I didn't want anyone to get hurt (and I'm not really sure what the hell Yoga on the Ball means), so instead of bringing out the physio balls we did a quick vinyasa class sans props. It seemed to go well. That is, until the buff man who taught the next class marched in two minutes early like he owned the place -- while everyone was still in savasana -- and started fiddling with the stereo. HUH?

Later, in the locker room, a woman told me how much she'd enjoyed going ball-less. "I really needed that," she said. "I used to do a lot of yoga but I had a sciatica problem on and off for a long time, one month at work, one month off, bla bla.... and I'm finally easing back into it...."

She kept talking, occasionally lapsing into a Brooklyn accent.

"...I'm in a car all day working and it sucks... After work I'm tired and the last thing I want to do is take a fucking yoga class. But this was really good."

To hear the words "fucking" and "yoga class" next to each other in the same sentence, unprompted! So unexpected. So taboo. So..... refreshing.

I wanted to hug her. But I'm not the hugging type.

Now at last the year can end on a happy note.

Monday, December 25, 2006

from the Cacanandas

Sunday, December 24, 2006

and whatnot

Remember the film The Magnificent Ambersons? Remember the refrain?

This is one of the most curious and amusing windows in Andersonville, regardless of season.

And this is its twin. I've never actually set foot inside the store; how could it possibly live up to the display? There are already enough disappointments in life.

This NYC Candy store is next door to Temple in the Village. It's like heroin to me.

And back to Chicawgo. Where they tell it like it is. Year round.

Friday, December 22, 2006


xmas window, originally uploaded by satya cacananda.

....a Swedish-gay-Middle Eastern neighborhood on Chicago's north side. This is the window of a Swedish deli, where one can pick up lutefisk, glog, Danish pudding and pickled herring. The last was a vile favorite of my late father.

Thursday, December 21, 2006


You can no longer read the numbers or locate the "mute" button on the TV remote control.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


I began mailing out holiday greeting cards nine years ago. It's what one does when one's mother dies and one wants to keep in touch with the people who knew her.

But it's become a drag -- in no small part because I design the stupid thing myself and always enclose a Urine Review, a tongue-in-cheek chronicle of the minor accomplishments and many misadventures of Kirby and I.

This year's listed included some 70 people.

It's become a project not unlike doing taxes, with just about as many steps: buying the Glu-Stik, glitter glue, envelopes and stamps; updating the mailing list, printing it out, cutting it up, Glu-Stiking the labels onto the envelopes, drawing the cover art, brainstorming, writing and editing the stupid insert, bringing the stuff to the print shop, looking at the proof, approving the proof, picking it up, bringing it home, adding glitter glue to all 70 cards, waiting for the glue to dry, writing some sort of mildly personal message inside, sealing the envelopes, adding the stamps and return address labels, schlepping it all to the post office in time....

This year I got thru it with the help of local community radio station WLUW and Turner Classic Movies.

And a call from my friend Bo, who was in the midst of the same task ("f*cking Christmas cards" is how she put it) and as far from completing it as I was.

One can't help but wonder how people with offspring and hosting obligations cope with it all.

No wonder the yoga classes are full -- and the liquor store shelves have been picked clean.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


Whenever yoga students take their first trip Mysore they invariably make a pilgrimage to the old shala, which fit 12 students. This guy has many pictures of how it looks now -- ie; before Guruji, et al built a massive home/shala in the fancy part of town called Gokulam, where some 80 students practice at one time.

I'm too, uh, busy to scan more images at the moment -- in those halcyon days BG (Before Gokulam) we used analog cameras and teletype machines and purified our own drinking water -- but here's an idea of how things looked in the old shala circa 2002.

When Caca's stateside teacher saw this pic he said something to the effect of, "I can feel your s-i joint screaming in pain." He was right. In fact I can still hear it. Behind me (on the crease) is Randy-who-lives-in-Mysore and behind him is a friendly, fair-haired American called Dinesh. I'm not sure who's next to me but I think it's Madeleine-from-Australia. I still have that Prana top.

Who says your practice doesn't suffer in Mysore? Ms. Janice just sent this photo of me in an embarrassingly backbendy headstand in the famous upstairs closing room -- where I actually used to shuuush people who were talking. No wonder I didn't make many friends. This must have been early during my four-month stay (pat-pat), because it's already quite light outside. Corpsing out next to me is Tony, formerly of Holly and Tony's Mysore cantina. A bit of Bobeiseennow looks on from the right. The face of the person who seems to be suffering in child's pose next to me cannot be seen, so we'll have to assume it's Andre Van Lysbeth. The carpet has a swastika design on its border.

Monday, December 18, 2006


The setting is a quiet, well-appointed health club yoga studio that overlooks a large body of water. NINETEEN PEOPLE have just awakened from the final resting pose and are sitting on their mats. Their hair is not perfect. They know this because they are looking at themselves in the mirror that spans the front of the room.

The SUBSTITUTE TEACHER, sitting in the front of the massive mirror, brings her palms together in front of her chest and bows her head. Her thong is not showing. The students know this but she does not.

" Namaste," says the substitute teacher. " Thank you for coming."

The students mumble something that sounds like "Nice day to you, too" and start to collect their things.

But the substitute teacher isn't finished with them.

"If you liked this class, I'm teaching again on Sunday morning," she says hopefully.

The students glance at her.

In the same hopeful tone, she says,

"If you didn't like this class, I'm teaching again on Sunday morning."

Guffaws galore.

It gets 'em every time.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Modern-Day Doublespeak

Modern-Day Doublespeak, originally uploaded by satya cacananda.

One of my favorite bloggers, Ursula-in-Munich, speaks English as a second language and recently mentioned something in passing that really piqued my interest:

A side note: health insurance is translated illness insurance, when I translate it word by word from German to English. Interesting.

So in German it's illness insurance. Makes sense to me. After all, you're covering your ass in case you get sick.

But American English tends to put a positive spin on things. Because the further we distance ourselves from reality, the more we can compartmentalize it and avoid experiencing it. You know -- denial.

This doesn't just apply to words, but to things like the killing and selling of animals as food. When we go to the supermarket, we see pretty cuts of dyed, marbled meat that bear no relation whatsoever to the cute animals that we like to watch frolic on Animal Planet. We distance ourselves from it so we can eat it.

I think this is partly why westerners freak out when they go to India and see goats hanging from their heels in store shops and dead human bodies garlanded with flowers being carried down the street.

Personally, I find the lack of pretense refreshing.

There was something very visceral and healing about watching the bodies of both my grandmother and my mother rolling into the cremation oven at the funeral home and seeing them consumed by flames.

When I lived in Spain I loved to sip Mahou and eat serrano bocadillos at the Museo del Jamon (Ham Museum), where dozens of smoked pig flanks hung from the ceiling. I was also addicted to the bullfights, and went every Sunday. Afterwards I used to climb up to the window of the the little slaughterhouse behind the ring, and surreptitiously watch them butcher the freshly-killed bulls. Although I grew up on a farm and we ate some of our own animals I never saw the process firsthand (although I once watched my grandmother slice off a chicken's head with an ax -- it really did run around afterwards). Watching them pull apart the steaming animal and seeing the blood and entrails drip out of it solved the mystery of where the meat came from (it wasn't until two years later that I became the militant vegetarian I remain today).

But usually the denial process applies to language.

In the olden days, when someone died, they used to lay out the dead body at home -- in the parlor. People would congregate and mourn at home. But someone (undertakers?) decided that was too grotesque, and people started sending the bodies to the funeral parlor. So as not to confuse it with death, the parlor became the living room.

That beat-up car in the lot is not "used" -- it's "pre-owned."

Best Buy doesn't have a "Complaint Department" -- it has "Customer Fulfillment"

The child is not "retarded" -- it's "special."

He's not a spoiled brat -- he has ADD.

The girl is not an idiot -- she has a learning disablity.

A person is not "crippled" -- it is "disabled."

He's not "blind" -- he's "sight-impaired."

It's not a failed marriage -- it's a "starter" marriage.

It's not gambling -- it's gaming.

Elderly people are not "old" -- they're "seniors."

It's not illness and decline - it's the golden years.

It's not dementia -- it's Alzheimer's.

It's not "war," it's "peacekeeping" or "spreading democracy."

It's not fascism, it's homeland security.

And in yoga it's not an "injury" -- it's an "opening."

Oh wait -- that last one comes from India.


There goes my theory.

Or perhaps not.

One could say it's the exception that proves the rule....

Friday, December 15, 2006


There's nothing like the prospect of a Mysore practice with a senior teacher to shake off the winter doldrums.

For the past week this former noon-sleeper has dragged her ass out of bed happily at 5:45 each morning to join a dozen other students and practice with certified teacher David Roche, who led a weekend intensive and eight days of morning self-practice right here in The Windy City.

At one point during the weekend intensive we even got to act like minkeys while doing Kapalbhati breathing.

David is tireless and detailed and patient and full of insight and gives unusual adjustments the likes of which I haven't experienced in eons -- the type that awaken long-dead muscles and make weird sounds come out of the mouth.

But he's on his way back to Oz at this very moment.

And we're all a little sadder (and our quadriceps a little sore-er) because of it.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


is how the birds in Little India looked today.

The defiant ones on the bottom would be the three-chord punks.

Avian rebels.


Everything had a soft, air-brushed look.

Except perhaps the building on Devon Ave. that recently burnt down. Most of the Indian and Pakistani immigrant-owned businesses that were ruined were not insured. The Developers can't wait to get ahold of it, visions of subpar multi-use construction dancing above their heads.

Even the three-flats across the cemetery from the new Peterson Avenue Target had a painterly, albeit crooked, look.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


There are Three Things People Invariably Say When They See a Grown Woman Carrying a Giant Hula- Hoop Down the Street in the Middle of Winter:

--Is that a Hula-Hoop?


--It's so big!

-Yes. The new ones are bigger and easier to use.

-I haven't done that since the 1950's / 1970's!

At which point the grown woman responds,

"Wanna try it?"

There is invariably much smiling during the exchange. Only about two out of five people actually put down what they're doing and give the hoop a whirl, laughing the whole time. You cannot hoop and frown at the same time.

Lucky for Caca they always give the thing back.

So far anyway

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


After writing the Eastland post I cannot get The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald out of my head.

Gordon Lightfoot's ballad about the freighter that sank during a Lake Superior squall on November 10, 1975 is an eternal favorite here in the Midwest.

Does anyone know where the love of god goes, when the gales of November come early?

Like the Eastland, The Edmund Fitzgerald listed to port before it sank. Twenty-nine men died.

Only twenty-nine, and they get a whole song that will live forever on classic rock radio.

The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down, of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee

And now, you can suffer too.

The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee
The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead
When the skies of November turn gloomy.

With a load of iron ore - 26,000 tons more
Than the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty
That good ship and true was a bone to be chewed
When the gales of November came early

The ship was the pride of the American side
Coming back from some mill in Wisconson
As the big freighters go it was bigger than most
With a crew and the Captain well seasoned.

Concluding some terms with a couple of steel firms
When they left fully loaded for Cleveland
And later that night when the ships bell rang
Could it be the North Wind they'd been feeling.

The wind in the wires made a tattletale sound
And a wave broke over the railing
And every man knew, as the Captain did, too,
T'was the witch of November come stealing.

The dawn came late and the breakfast had to wait
When the gales of November came slashing
When afternoon came it was freezing rain
In the face of a hurricane West Wind

When supper time came the old cook came on deck
Saying fellows it's too rough to feed ya
At 7PM a main hatchway caved in
He said fellas it's been good to know ya.

The Captain wired in he had water coming in
And the good ship and crew was in peril
And later that night when his lights went out of sight
Came the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Does anyone know where the love of God goes
When the words turn the minutes to hours
The searchers all say they'd have made Whitefish Bay
If they'd fifteen more miles behind her.

They might have split up or they might have capsized
They may have broke deep and took water
And all that remains is the faces and the names
Of the wives and the sons and the daughters.

Lake Huron rolls, Superior sings
In the ruins of her ice water mansion
Old Michigan steams like a young man's dreams,
The islands and bays are for sportsmen.

And farther below Lake Ontario
Takes in what Lake Erie can send her
And the iron boats go as the mariners all know
With the gales of November remembered.

In a musty old hall in Detroit they prayed
In the Maritime Sailors' Cathedral
The church bell chimed, 'til it rang 29 times
For each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald.

The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee
Superior, they say, never gives up her dead
When the gales of November come early.

© 1976 Moose Music, Inc.

Monday, December 11, 2006


People were falling over to the side in Parighasana / Parvritta Janu Sirsasana this morning.

In an effort to get them to straighten up, I asked them to flex the front foot, press down the back of the front knee, roll in the shin, anchor the sitting bones, etc.


Then I told them they were listing to the side like the SS Eastland, a large passenger vessel that was filled with mostly Czech workers going on a company outing, about to depart from a dock along the Chicago River in 1916, when it tipped over.

Eight hundred forty-four people drowned.


While the boat was docked.

The yoga students' ears pricked up. And so did their feet, and they stopped toppling over.

I mentioned that "Papa Bear" George Halas survived the disaster, and that if he hadn't there may never have been a Chicago Bears, let alone a National Football League.

On second thought....

I also told them that the Eastland disaster occurred in the wake (ha!) of the Titanic, and that lifeboats had recently been installed on its upper decks.

The rotting wood floors between decks had been reinforced with concrete, making the thing even more top-heavy.

It tipped over in 20 feet of water, 20 feet from the wharf, in the downtown of what was then the nation's second largest city.


It wasn't yoga and it was distracting. But what else am I supposed to do with all of this useless info left over from The Book That Never Was?

Now, if I could only figure out how to make the 1906 Iroquois Theatre fire relevant to yoga.

More people died in the brand-new, state-of-the-art, "absolutely fireproof" theater than in the Great Chicago Fire.

As with the Eastland, most of the 600 dead were women and children.

As with the Eastland, their families were never compensated.

Ladies holiday indeed.


Next time I must remember to mention that the Eastland bodies were taken to a Near West Side cold storage facility that is now better known as Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Studios. (And prior to that it was the HQ for the groundbreaking nature show, Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. Strange karma, that.).

Friday, December 08, 2006


Today is the 75th anniversary of Jane Addams winning the Nobel Peace Prize.

She did her good works in the immigrant slums of Chicago.

But is there a statue of her, or some kind of monument?


In fact there's not a single statue of a woman in the entire city.

But we do have statues of Very Important Dead Men, such as:

-drunken sports announcer Harry Caray

-average gossip columnist Irv Kupcinet

-and fictional TV character Bob Newhart.

Lest you think this affects only women -- there's no statue or monument to the city's first non-native resident, Jean Baptiste Pointe duSable, either.

Despite the fact that a group of activists has been lobbying for one since the 1920's.

Of course it has nothing to do with the fact that he's black.

Nothing at all.

Such a melting pot, this.

Thursday, December 07, 2006


It is not a good idea to turn the head while in shoulderstand, because it could damage the neck.

I tell students this, and yet still they turn their heads to see what everyone else in class is doing.

So I tell them that if they're doing something dangerous I'll let them know, but there's no need to see if they're on the same page as everyone else.

Yet still they turn their heads.

Sometimes I have them sit on their arses and watch me while I quickly show them the whole shoulderstand sequence, so that they know what to expect.

But once they're in it they turn their heads and look around.

Sometimes I catch one or two of them turning their heads to look at themselves in the giant health club mirror.

When that happens, I say, "That is a very unflattering angle. Don't look at the mirror now. Wait until you've cleaned up after class -- then you can look at yourself all you want."

Still they crane their necks.

Sometimes I'll say, "Maybe you're mad at your neck and want to punish it. Fine. Do what you want. Just don't come running to me."

No reaction.

Sometimes, to hammer the point home, I'll say, "No matter who walks in the door, don't turn your head to look. Come down first -- and then you can even point and shout."

Still they turn their heads.

So lately I've been trying to make it more specific and timely.

"Even if Michael Richards walks in swearing, don't turn your head."

No reaction.

"Even if Danny DeVito walks in drunk, don't turn your head."

It's like they didn't even hear me.

Today I said, "Even if James Baker walks in carrying a big report, don't turn your head."


After explaining who Baker was, I said, "Vince Vaughn. He's in the news today. Don't turn and look if Vince Vaughn walks in-- which could happen, since he's from Lake Forest."

It's fun to throw in the triva when you have it.

Still it didn't work.

The lone exception came right after the Bears' big loss a couple of weeks ago:

"Even if Rex Grossman comes in to make a public apology, don't turn your head."

That one got the laughs.

Which could actually hurt the neck, when you think about it.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


I was thumbing through a woman's fashion magazine while waiting to get my hair cut yesterday, when I came across an article about hair extensions.

LA's most famous extention-attacher had plenty to say about hair length. He seemed to think that women of all ages should grow their hair long. Or, better yet, keep it fairly short and add expensive, high-maintenance extensions.

He said that in America women's hairstyles work like this:

-When a woman turns 30 she gets a mom haircut

-When a woman turns 40 she gets her mom's haircut

-And when she's 50, a woman gets her husband's haircut.

Actually he's off by about ten years.

Still -- I read all that before getting my hair cut.

So how did I end up with a mom-bob?

Why does everyone want me to look like a helmet-headed newscaster, and not the cool rock chick that's cowering inside, dying to get out?

Oh, well -- maybe next year.

Monday, December 04, 2006


CACA: It's so cold today --


CACA: It's so cold today that Caca didn't ride her bike....

and some of the white people are even wearing hats!


Sunday, December 03, 2006


, originally uploaded by satya cacananda.


Turns out the snowbombed church is an affiliate of the Southern Baptist Convention; i.e. it's the conservative Billy Graham / Jerry Falwell sect. Apparently Dakota Fanning, Chuck Norris and Bill Clinton are members. Jimmy Carter left when the more progressive Cooperative Baptist Fellowship split apart. No word on Hillary.

I doubt the North Face family knew all this when they pelted the wee church with snowballs. I didn't know, and I'm a journalist for chrissakes -- and we all know that journalists know it all.

So.....After pulling away from the snow-splattered church I made my way to class, where I led three people through a version of Dharma Mittra's Level III/IV flow sequence. More III than IV, actually. For the record: Two of the students drove to class, while one walked. All three thought they would be the only ones there. All three seemed unaware of the teacher-can-cancel-if-there's-only-one-student rule, and I chose not to enlighten them. Only later I realized the proper response would have been, "I thought I'd be the only one, too." I did however thank them for coming.

Afterwards the roads were relatively clear, so I made my way to Jewel to pick up some red peppers and other delightful bits for the salad I was to bring to an evening gathering of my writing class. I took the main roads. Despite the fact that it was still snowing, hard, they'd all been cleared quickly and cleanly -- the Mayor is up for re-election next year and we wouldn't want to repeat Michael Blandic's disastrous performance during the Blizzard of '79. Even Addison Avenue, heading towards Wrigley Field, was gorgeous.

In front of The Jewels I saw a short, fit man holding a clipboard. Oh no, I thought, rolling my eyes, not another ward cretin trying to get da mare on da ballet.

But he didn't fit the mold -- he was normal-size -- so I met his eye as he started his spiel.

He was trying to get the city's only openly gay alderman on the primary ballet, which required just 250 signatures (vs the 25,000 needed to run for mare). But I wasn't in his ward.

Inside The Jewels, it was like a scene from Day of the Dead -- limping, half-blind white zombies wandering about, bumping into things, dazzled by the selection and trying to remember what they came in to buy. Meanwhile a woman in a bright orange jacket flitted about them with purpose, which confused them even more.

After telling the Streetwise guy in the baby blue Carolina snowsuit thanks-but-no-thanks I went across the street to CVS, in search of a new snow removal device.

I looked near the entrance; nothing.

I looked in the automobile aisle; nada.

Finally I tracked down a blue-shirted employee.

Turns out they didn't have anything along those lines.

"I hate CVS," I said as I turned away.

Apparently she'd heard me.

"I know," she said. "Everyone does."

(NOTE: Over the summer, all free-standing Osco Drug Stores were taken over by the East Coast-owned CVS chain).

"Osco would have had everything right by the front door, right where you could find it," I said.

"I know," she agreed.

"They would have made a killing."

"I know."

"What is CVS thinking?"

"I don't know."

"CVS doesn't sell blue recycling bags, either," I whined.

"I know."

"And they don't let you recycle plastic bags here. They're civic bad sports!"

"I know."

It was nice to feel validated.

"I'm not upset with you," I said. "It's not your fault. It's this store."

"I know."

"I miss Osco."

"I know."

Still, I had to get in the last word.

Er, make that bird:

, originally uploaded by satya cacananda.

Saturday, December 02, 2006


While on my way to pry my car out of the snow yesterday, I trudged past the small Baptist chuch.

The church doesn't really fit in with the rest of the affluent, verywhite neighborhood.* Suffice to say that while the not-so-local high school girls have been issued short black hooded parkas with fake fur trim, the local moms all wear expensive untrimmed North Face.

As I rounded the corner I noticed a bevy of local North Face-clad brats lobbing snowballs at the church.

I was incensed.

How dare they, I thought. I'm neither pro- nor anti- Jeebus, but I do believe that one should at least pretend to respect other people's gods.

Then I noticed they were being egged on by a North Face Mom, who was encouraging them to hit the sign attached to the church.

She kept saying, "Hit the L! Hit the L!"

And when they started in on each other she said, "Don't hit people. Hit the church."

I nearly exploded.

But instead I held my tongue and stared, hard, while I cleaned the snow off my car.

It was the wet, heavy snow that is perfect for snowman-making.

While cleaning off the car my 20-year-old snow removal device, which had been given to me by my mother, broke in half.

Only later did I realize what I should have said.

CACA: Are you telling them to throw snowballs at A CHURCH?

NF MOM: Yes. So?

CACA: What do you think that's TEACHING them?

At least I caught them in the act....

The little Fauntleroys' aim really sucked though, didn't it?

You could even say it was god-awful.


*Caca lives in a large apartment building on a very busy street that abuts this high-class neighborhood.

Friday, December 01, 2006


You'd think it had never snowed here before.

United Airlines cancelled hundreds of flights.

So has American.

Hundreds of snowplows have been deployed.

They are telling everyone to stay off the roads.

They are telling everyone to stay home.

And Caca must teach a 10AM class at The Empty Shala where very few people, if any, ever show up.

Where she is paid five dollars per head or less.

Perhaps her car gets stuck today.....

Anyway she feels like crap.

Self-practice, anyone?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


I recently went grocery shopping at The Jewels.

But something was different.

Standing in front, in the spot usually reserved for the gregarious Streetwise vendor, was one of the mayor's tall fat leather-clad Machine ward cretins.

He held a clipboard in his hand, and as I slipped past him I realized he was collecting signatures to get da mare on the ballot for the spring primary. (Mayoral hopefuls must procure a whopping 25,000 signatures -- while statewide candidates only need 5,000 signatures to run for office. This 1995 rule makes it nearly impossible for outsiders to get on the ballot and could perhaps explain why we have a Mare for Life). I'd seen a similar clipboard-toting thug in front of the drug store on Sunday, and gave him a wide berth.

When I came out, though, the corpulant committeeman caught me.

"Are you registered to the vote in the City of Chicago?"

"Nope," I said, pulling out my keys and making a beeline for my bicycle.

So much for satya.

Monday, November 27, 2006


Two students came late to the Mysore (self-practice) ashtanga yoga class.

Late as in they began setting up their mats and assorted props and sundries 15 minutes before class ended.

It was not a big deal since the teacher was sticking around to do her own practice after class anyway.

The teacher didn't give them any help, however, because 1) She was off the clock 2) She was focusing on her own practice 3) She believes such behavior rewards tardiness, and 4) They didn't ask for any.

At a couple of points the teacher left the room to attend to some business, and returned later to pick up where she'd left off.

Upon one return, the students told her they had been watching her and were concerned about her practice.

Apparently she'd been dangling her head in Caturanga Dandasana (a sort of push-up) and doing some weird neck-thing in Uttanasana (standing forward bend).

She conceded, and explained she was in pain from teaching the previous day's Mysore class and had been rushing thru Caturanga to get it over with as quickly as possible. They made suggestions about her shoulder placement and one of them even adjusted her.

It felt good.

Damn good.

Later one of them kindly offered her an adjustment in Supta Vajrasana, which she politely decllined. The shelf under which she'd wedged her knees worked just fine.

After seeing her barely grasping her thigh in her bloated, post-Thanksgiving rendition of an intense seated twist called Ardha Matsyendrasana, one of them suggested she modify the pose and showed her the options.... much the same way she'd often explained the same modifications to her newest beginning students. The teacher, slightly defensive, said something about having back issues and the twist being deep enough as it was. The suggestor said the modificiations had been learnt from Famous Iyengar Teachers.

The teacher, who'd learnt her own modifications for various poses from 1) Famous Ashtanga Teachers* 2) The many workshops, intensives and retreats she'd attended and written about over the past decade, and 3) By working with her own tight, old and misshapen body and those of her students, held her tongue and did the pose her way.

It was also suggested that she go to a teacher who is well- known for knowing many ashtanga modifications, particularly for the injured.

The teacher was nonplussed.

The ego however was not confused.

It was annoyed.

But the practice went on, such as it was.

And the mouth remained closed, and no words about proper drishti (gazing point) and so on spewed forth.

Not til much later, anyway, when the hands took over and began typing up a storm.


* Famous Ashtanga Teachers such as Maty Ezraty and the Millers Chuck and TIm, among others.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Jamie Kennedy Experiment - Yoga

I found this on another ashtangi's blog. It could be 1/3 the length. Enjoy....

Friday, November 24, 2006


Even public radio* is flogging the perennial, yawn-inducing stories about today's shopping frenzy; Check out the brainwashed people fighting over Ninetendo XXI! Listen to the cash register ring! See the merchants smile!

Has no one informed them that today is Buy Nothing Day?

Not to mention Fur Free Friday?

C-S-ing somnambulists....


*That said, the essay aired today and sounded really good.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


I'm grateful today for the fact that there are no holes in the roof (that I know of) and it's a decent temperature in here and there's food in the cupboards and the electricty works and you can turn a faucet and water comes out.

The other night I watched Spike Lee's brilliant When the Levees Broke. His work has been hit-or-miss over the years (She's Gotta Have It = Hit, School Daze = not so much, Do the Right Thing = hit, Jungle Fever = not so much, etc). But this is a masterpiece. I stayed up until 1 AM watching it --unprecedented outside of a brand-new relationship -- because I could not turn it off.

Most of those people are still in trailers, by the way.

I'm also thankful that my left elbow stopped hurting and I can do vinyasas and was able to ride my bike to teaching (for double time) this morning and that I could snap digital photos on the ride home and also that the History Channel is rerunning Desperate Crossing: The Untold Story of the Mayflower tonight at 7 (8 Eastern). I caught the last hour the other night and it was great (well, it was until the Wampanoag actor playing Squanto* appeared sans costume, in an office, and addressed the camera as a Native American expert. Talk about breaking down walls....).

*Squanto looks a bit like John Herndon of Tortoise back when he was Johnny Machine of Poster Children.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


I was half- listening to Chicago Public Radio's magazine show while making chai this morning when I heard them say something about overeating on Thanksgiving and raw foods. My ears perked up, and next thing I knew I heard my own voice talking about how "afterwords I was thirsty, and my date and I both craved ice cream." What an awful, flat, Midwestern voice, I thought. But it was mine. And they said the magic words -- that the essay would air on the next show.

But when is the next show? Thanksgiving or Friday?

The website doesn't say.

The person at the front desk didn't know.

And no one at the show picked up the phone.

Some background: I recorded this essay the day before I left for India last May. Six months ago. I remember being miffed upon learning that the station's free parking policy had just changed, and that I'd have to shell out $24 for the 45 minutes my car was in the Navy Pier garage. No one told me. The regular producer was out, and I couldn't help but telegraph my hurt surprise to the person who recorded the essay.

While in India I e-mailed them a few times asking when / if the thing had aired.

It hadn't.

When I returned in late July I asked again.

The producer did some research and got back to me a few days later.

Apparently they had lost it.

"Aha!" I thought. "Punishment for geting mad about the parking."

But they said they still wanted it. So I rode my bicycle down to Navy Pier and re-recorded it, along with a new essay about surviving summer in Chicago -- with the regular producer, whom I adore.

Of course the heat wave disappeared, never to return, the minute I rode out of the garage.

And despite occasional prodding, the raw foods essay never aired either.

"OK," I figured, "They're done with me."

But after 42 years you get quite good at beating your head against a wall.

So after many false starts I sent them a new essay -- about feeling like an underacheiver at my 20th college reunion.

(Actually I feel like one all the time. But that would be a book, not an essay).

Lo and behold -- yesterday they e-mailed back the new essay with minor edits and said I should set up a time to record it.

"OK," I thought. "Now they'll have three of may essays to misplace."

So when I heard my thin flat voice coming through the radio today, I actually whooped and jumped up and down.

Maybe I do have a career after all.

Now, if only I could figure out when it's going to air.


The interim producer got back to me: It will air Friday sometime between 9 and 10 on 91.5-FM. Ha!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


...they came up with this little obscenity.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


Here're some images of Chicago's new Trump International Hotel and Tower, captured by the CacaCam on Friday. It's meant to usurp the Sears Tower as America's tallest building. Condos start at $470,000 and top out at $9 million. At last -- affordable housing in a building that will put Chicago back on the map....

Saturday, November 18, 2006


It is freezing cold here.

Yet both air conditioners are still in the windows, letting in more cold air.

In the past few years the landlord has sent his workers to remove them (so that he could save on heating costs of course).

But not this year.

I can't do it myself because of my bad back. Plus one of them is just too damn heavy.

I can't call anyone because everyone I know either has a bad back or is estranged from me or both.

Maybe I can hold out all winter.

After all, layers are in this year.

Friday, November 17, 2006


According to Anthony Lane's New Yorker review of Casino Royale, the new James Bond is a bit asexual*:

"Poor fellow. If Pussy Galore showed up, he'd pour her a saucer of milk."


*Perhaps he's a yogi.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


Yahoo! Avatars

This Windian, urban-dwelling version of Durga is usually depicted with just two arms and is surrounded by flames representing the pain of everyday existence. The lightening signifies the potential for enlightenment. This form of the Goddess is the embodiment of anger turned inward (Depression) and she often underestimates her own power. Yet she still manages, ultimately, to vanquish the enemies whose bones litter the ground. Her vehicle is either a horse or a cat -- depending on her mood. Both vehicles are advocating for a big bowl of ladoo to be added to the mix.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


Caca began studying yoga in Tibet with Yogeswarar Rama Mohana Brahmacharya in the 1920's. After spending the next two decades meditating in a cave, she began teaching in 1941. Her students have included David and Andy Williams, George Michael, Stephen Hawking, Indra Devi, Maria Callas, Steve McQueen, Kamil Ataturk and Georg Fuerstein, to name just a few.

She's been making annual trips to Mysore to study with her beloved guruji, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, since 1943 and has completed all 11 series of the ashtanga vinyasa system -- including the five secret ones they never discuss with westerners. She holds advanced degrees in anatomy, psychology, physical therapy and Eastern Studies and is fluent in English, Hindi, Sanskrit, Farsi and Gibberish. She's held lucrative intensives, retreats and teacher training programs on six of the seven continents and has scaled Everest in her bare feet.


*Ever notice how many yoga teachers pad their resumes? Satya, my arse.

...was that both Zola and Dreyfus sported pince-nez.

Whenever I see them or hear that word, well, it's like when they say c---sucker on Deadwood -- x 1,000.

Apparently you can still buy them (it?), too.

Monday, November 13, 2006


I learnt a few things while going through my grandfather's photo album at my brother's house yesterday.

My grandmother (mother's side) was born 100 years ago today (she died in 1991).

Her husband died at the age of 67, in 1965.

My mother (their daughter) also died at the age of 67.

Her sister killed herself when she was in her 30's.

I suppose that means I should get around to writing that novel sooner rather than later.


Recently in class a student did the finger-wag at me. You know, the gesture where they lift their index finger and curl it towards them a few times as if to say, "Come over here, slave-bitch. NOW!"

I always hated that gesture when I was a waitress, and often interpreted it as a signal to disappear into the bathroom.

But I came over anyway.

"What would you like?" I asked, taking out my notepad.


Yesterday's baby shower was very empowering.

First there was the open bar; after a few drinks we all got into a very deep discussion about politics, architecture and morality.

Everyone was dressed very sexily I may add.

But my miniskirt was still the shortest.

La Leche League gave a breastfeeding demostration, and recommended that the new mother breastfeed for at least five years. Then they handed out baby dolls to everyone and had us try it.

Then Planned Parenthood led us through a breast self-exam.

After the presents were opened, we loaded our plates at the vegan buffet and toasted Nancy Pelosi. Kneeling men massaged our feet while we came up with a plan for resurrecting the Equal Rights Amendment.

Then the band started, and we danced like crazy people at a Cramps concert.

Needless to say, I'm now a huge fan of the baby shower -- and can't wait to have one of my own.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


I stayed in last night and watched the 1937 multi award-winning The Life of Emile Zola. We briefly studied The Dreyfus Affair in college but none of it really stuck; French people, army politics, anti-Semitism, railroading, corruption, J'accuse...! -- why was Prof. Moodie so obsessed with this Franco-crap?

If he'd only shown us the film, instead of making us read some dry academic account of it.

It stars the brilliant Paul Muni as the muckraking French writer who'd written many bestsellers and become rich, corpulent and -- according to his friend Paul Cezanne, who subsequently ditched him -- complacent.... That is, until the wife of the wrongly convicted Jewish French Army Captain Alfred Dreyfus convinced him to take up his case. Zola turned his back on his good name and fancy lifestyle and became a pariah for taking on the glorious French Army. In his dotage he realized he was more interested in satya, or truth, than consuming the most tender lobster.

Two things stand out.

-Before testifying in court, witnesses held up their right hand and were asked, "Do you swear to tell the truth without hatred or fear?" No mention of god.

-After acquittal, the government brought Capt. Dreyfus back from his South American prison and made him a knight of the Legion of Honor. At the ceremony, the general (?) pinned a medal on his chest........and then kissed him on each cheek.

We could learn from that, I think.

more details, from Wikipedia:

The Dreyfus Affair was one of the most important scandals of the French Third Republic, if not the most important.
The Affair deeply divided the country into Dreyfusards (those supporting Dreyfus) and anti-Dreyfusards (those against).
Generally speaking, royalists, conservatives and the Catholic Church (the "right wing") were antidreyfusards while socialists, republicans and anticlericalists (the "left wing") were dreyfusards, though there were exceptions.

The Dreyfus Affair could not have happened in a country wholly antisemitic, nor in a country devoid of antisemitism. Indeed, Alfred Dreyfus, openly Jewish, had been admitted to the most selective military schools in the country, and had been commissionned into a sensitive position; this was, at the time, unheard of in several other European countries, where policies of discrimination were often in place.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


The March grand opening of the brand-new, Flordia branch of the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute will feature a two week workshop with Guruji, Sharath and Saraswati. It's in Islamoralda, the sportfishing capital of the world... which means it'll be affordable and accessible to all. From the AYRI website:

"My beloved students,

"For the last 30 years I have been visiting the United States to spread my teachings. With great pleasure, I am proud to announce the opening of my new yoga center in Florida.

"I would like to invite each and every one of you to join myself, my daughter Saraswathi and my grandson Sharath for the grand opening party on March 24th, followed by a 2-week workshop. This will be our only visit to the United States in 2007. I look forward to seeing you there!

"Love, Guruji"

Islamorada, FL
First week (5 days): March 25, 26, 27, 28, 29
Second week (5 days): April 1, 3, 4, 5, 6 (April 2nd moon day holiday)
7:00AM Led Primary Series
Fees: 5-day workshop $200, single class $50
Workshop students are invited to the opening party on March 24
Registration opens November 15

I was really enjoying reading Jonathon Franzen's book of essays, "How to Be Alone."

Until it fell into the bathtub, that is.


And it's a library book, too.

When/if it ever dries I'll post a picture.

In the meantime, here's a excerpt from Franzen's 1995 essay "First City," on why NYC is more like a European metropolis than an American one:

"Hiking is what I do for fun in Manhattan on windy days or after sundown, when the diesel fumes lift. I'm a recreational walker, and in the last few years I've noticed something odd when I've hit the sidewalks of suburban St. Louis and suburban Colorado: a not negligible percentage of the men speeding by me in theri cars or sport-utility vehicles (it's always men) feel moved to yell obscenities at me. It's hard to know why they do this. The only things unusual about me are that I'm not driving and that I'm not wearing teal and purple or a backward baseball cap. My guess is that they yell at me simply because I'm a stranger, and from the perspective of their glassed-in vehicles I have no more human reality than the coach on their TV screens who has elected to punt on fourth and short.

"I've been yelled at in New York, too, but only by deinstitutionalized psychotics, and then only in the midst of fellow subway riders who sympathized with me...."


Last night was the first installment of Paul Grilley's yoga and anatomy workshop, and I was singled out not once but twice for the, uh, uniqueness of my body; first, for my amazing hyperextending arms. And then for the lack of mobility in my neck: when I tilt my head back it goes 45 degrees max. Then Mr. Grilley pointed out a woman at the other side of the room; her head goes back THREE TIMES as much as mine.


No wonder my backbends suck.

Friday, November 10, 2006


...for NPR, and I promise not to write about them again for some time.

But they did do a rather good piece on negative campaign ads earlier this week. Apparently not only are the Democrats back -- but also irony (and not just on the Daily Show, either).

"All Things Considered" asked two of the genre's top voiceover actors to twist around some nursery rhymes to sound like negative campaign ads. As with the Rumsfeld verse, seeing is good, but hearing is believing.

A sample:

“Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. He said he could put himself together again. But after wasting thousands of our tax dollars, all the King's horses and all the King's men, he failed us. Humpty Dumpty. Wrong on wall sitting.”

I never did like that one anyway.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Morning Edition ran an uncharacteristically jocular piece today about the unintentionally brilliant poetry of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The warmonger has recited so many poems in fact that Slate has posted them in two parts: volume one and volume two. Of course there's also a book and a CD of songs that kind of suck. While seeing is good, hearing is believing. A sampling:

The Unknown

As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don't know
We don't know.

—Feb. 12, 2002, Department of Defense news briefing

A Confession

Once in a while,
I'm standing here, doing something.
And I think,
"What in the world am I doing here?"
It's a big surprise.

Interview with The New York Times
May 16, 2001


You may think it's something
I ought to know,
But I happen not to.
That's life.
(July 9, 2003)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


From today's Chicago Tribune:

"The two sides were holding placards and screaming at one another behind police tape while county workers carried in voting materials."

The hottest race here is the one for Cook County Board President. It's soclose in fact that we still don't know who the winner is the day after the election.

A bit of background: Cook County has a $3 million budget and myriad patronage opportunities and hence is like a magnet for some of our more cunning politicos. Last year around primary time then-president John Stroger, an African American Machine-supported Democrat, became very ill and had to step down. Somehow though he got his son on the ballot in his stead. Very third world. Very Evita Perone. Meanwhile interim board president Bobbie Steele (a female, African American Democrat) found proof positive of widespread corruption under Stroger's watch. Not that there's anything wrong with that here in the Windy City.

The current race between 43-year-old Democrat Todd Stroger and Tony Peraica, a Croatian-American Republican, was soclose that when I went to sleep last night it was 55 to 45 in favor of Stroger, with many precincts still to be counted. The votes were split along racial and suburban/city lines ouf course

What I didn't know was that at around 1 AM things got so out of hand that Peraica and supporters actually got into taxis and stormed the County Clerk's office -- which is headed by David Orr, a white, liberal, squeakly clean Democrat.

What prompted them were some election shenanigans that had taken place two hours earlier. According to the Sun-Times, "Orr emerged from his office to say 'hooligans' were trying to break into boxes with election cartridges inside.

"'Drunks or whoever, they were trying to block people from bringing them up,'Orr said. 'And the freight elevator was broken'

"Still, Orr said the integrity of the election hadn't been compromised.

"'Media cameras captured boxes being ripped open by unknown people, and others lying over the boxes to protect them. One man was arrested for allegedly damaging the elevator.'"

Once the Peraica people got there, "a Stroger campaign volunteer was seen briefly wedging himself into the revolving door. Eventually, most supporters were allowed in, and Peraica and six supporters met with Orr, along with seven Stroger supporters.

"'I smell a rat here,' Peraica said, citing $60 million in upgrades county taxpayers funded to improve voting equipment since a similar debacle in the March primary.

"Peraica's venomous response was a stark contrast to Stroger's reaction. Stroger, a Democrat, giggled as he told supporters he was going to bed for the night and would wake up today 'just like Christmas' and celebrate."

Sometimes, this is the best city ever.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


I finally dragged my arse over to the yellow-y high school and voted. I loathe going because of the gauntlet of bouncer-type ward cretins who verbally assault you (they would call it electioneering) on the way to the polling place. But school had just let out and everyone was under 20 years of age. Each and every high school girl on the north side, by the way, has a short black parka that skims the waist (the better to show off the arse) and is topped by a fake fur-trimmed hood.

Sitting behind the counter inside was the Walkin' Man (a spindly gent who walks around the neighborhood year round and reminds me of an older Martin Sheen, only with uneven legs rather than arms). A middle-aged black woman with a Betty Boop voice showed me how to use the giant, game show-size ballots we're now using instead of the old human scale hanging-chad punch cards.

As I blacked in my choices, the salsa and circus music blaring from the adjacent auditorium competed for aural supremacy against the shrill, fake-sweet voice of a mom who was far more interested in socializing her todder than questions such as whether the state should ban the manufacture and sale of assault weapons: "Who's a good girl? Are you a good girl? GOOOOOOOOOOOOD GIRL!!" vs "Da-da, da-da-da-da-da, da-da-da-da-da, DA-DA-DA-DA-DA..."

In the end the circus music won out. It always does.

Apart from the usual races there were at least 50 judges to deal with. For some reason the general public in Illinois must decide whether or not to retain judges. Like we have a clue. It's like letting retards, er, the mentally impaired, do god's job for a day. Luckily I had printed out a list of losers and keepers supplied to me via Dexter. But I nearly lost my eyesight squinting at the long list of names in the dim light. As I voted I realized that my usual strategy -- when in doubt, keep the women and minorities and toss out The Man -- was completely wrongheaded. Oops.

We also got to decide whether the state should pull the troops out of Iraq -- that was a hard one -- and if it should raise the minimum wage to six-dollars-and-change. There was no place to write in a higher amount.

But I did write in a felon for sherrif.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


I went to see the Bollywood film Umrao Jaan at the Des Plaines Cinema last night, after learning Friday night that I can review it for the Backwards R if I can get it in first thing Monday. I drove to the hinderlands instead of cycling downtown to 600 N. Mich because it was windy and freezing and late and I'd just had a veryintense massage and couldn't deal with the wind and cold.

I was famished when I arrived at the rundown suburban theatre. I'd just ordered popcorn from the handsome (Abishek Bachchan-meets-my-ex, Devdutt) counter-guy-cum-projectionist when I noticed a pile of warm samosas sitting near my right elbow. I ordered some of those instead and took a seat front and center.

But there were technical problems that peaked twenty minutes into the period epic -- a remake of a 1981 film that takes place in 19th century Lucknow. Just as the 12-year-old girl who grows up to be Aishwarya Rai was bedding down for her first night at the brothel, the audio got very loud and disappeared -- and then so did the image. Wow , I thought, What an understated rape scene.

But the picture never came back; apparantly the projector was hungry too, and had eaten the film. After some time the lights came up and everyone made for the doors. Entire families were there, including infants with black spots on their cheeks to ward off the evil eye and western-dressing Indian hipster tweens. I was the lone Windian. About a third of the crowd went over to see Don but having seen it I opted for the refund and drove back home.

An hour round-trip for nothing, and money lost on top of it. But at least I'd gotten to eat those samosas.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

A Chicago Moment

SoHo Mac Store, originally uploaded by satya cacananda.


We were checking our e-mail at the SoHo Apple Store a la Bob Eisen.* Yes, it's free, but apparently you can catch a lot of germs by checking your e-mail there. I had the hand sanitizer on me and wasn't worried. Besides, I'd just taken the two-hour class at Dharma Mittra's followed by massive amounts of greens at Temple in the Village chased down by dark chocolate nonpareils. I was in New York City. It was sunny. My feet didn't hurt. I felt good.

School had let out and the two-story behemoth was wall-to-wall with geniuses, nincompoops and all the rest. Most were male (as were most of the students in Dharma Mittra's class. What's up with this? Oh who cares -- I likes it!).

And then there it was -- an e-mail from a fitness coordinator desperate for a sub for a Wed. 7-8:15 AM Yoga Basics class. So desperate in fact she was willing to pay time-and-a-half. I thought, "Well, I'm flying in Tuesday night and I have to teach at 9AM anyway... My practice will be f---ed either way....Why not?". So I agreed to do it.


Cut to the Wednesday morning 7-8:15 AM Basics class. It's 7:30. The sun streams in. Fourteen people are on their backs, not putting their hands on their thighs in supta padangustasana -- despite the protestations of the teacher, who says, in desperation, "If your hand is not on your thigh, take a moment and examine why it's not there." Suddenly, seven hands shoot onto seven thighs. And she didn't even have to say, "And now ask yourself why this would not apply to you."

But at 8AM 11 people get up, put on their shoes, collect their mats, and walk out of class -- without doing savasana. Not hiding her shock, the teacher tells them that their minds will be restless for the remainder of the day if they don't do savasana (corpse pose). An empty threat. Instead of listening they head even more quickly towards the door.

Was it something I said? she wonders. Or is there a new type of silent fire alarm that only the affluent can hear?

Desperate, she asks, over the confusion and din of the mass exodus, "DOES THIS CLASS END AT 8 OR 8:15? BECAUSE THEY TOLD ME IT WAS 8:15.

One of the remaing three students (probably a stay-at-home mom) says, "Oh no, everyone always leaves at 8. The other instructors have all given up and just stop the class at that time."

"Well. No one told me," she says, miffed. "Maybe they should put it on the schedule that way."

Nonetheless the determined instructor sticks it out til the bitter end....

....and winds up being late for her 9AM lesson.


*Bob is both smart and frugal, and knows how to make the most out of that which can be had for free. We all stand to learn a lot from him.