Tuesday, February 28, 2006


4.5 - Total Paczki consumed so far.

60 - Number of students taught on Sunday.

16 - Number of classes to be taught this week.

0 - Number of naps taken today.

1 - Number of classes left to teach before watching The Shield.

11 - Number of minutes left to finish this entry.

5:31 PM CST - The moment when Satya looked up from locking her bike and saw a woman get out of a cab and run (not walk) into the annoying theme bar Blue Bayou.

1 - The number of masterful Jean Renoir films playing at the Music Box Theatre, which combine three of our favorite things -- Excellent writing, excellent filmmaking and lovely India. Renoir is the son of the famous painter and auteur of Rules of the Game, and The River is his other masterpiece. It's from a book by Rumer Godden (who also penned Black Narcissus) and was his first color film, made after he moved to Hollywood and done on a shoestring. Suffice to say it's so incredible that Martin Scorsese Himself watches it three or four times a year. (This brings to mind the time I watched The Hex shush Spike Lee not once but twice at a nearly-empty NYC screening of Raging Bull). Anyone who lives in Chicago should run (not walk) out and see The River before it closes on Thursday. Timings are here. It's in English, by the way, made in 1951 although it depicts events that take place just after WWII and just before Independence and the ensuing nightmare called Partition.

Some River trivia from IMDB:

Esmond Knight, who plays the one-eyed Father, lost his eye during the battle to sink the Bismark. He served on the Prince of Wales, and later starred as the Captain of the Prince of Wales in the 1960 film Sink the Bismarck.

When Kenneth McEldowney, a successful florist and real estate agent in Los Angeles, complained to his wife, an MGM publicist, about one of her studio's films, she dared him to do better. So he sold their home and floral shops, and from 1947 to 1951 worked to produce this film. It opened in New York to a record 34-week run at reserved-seat prices and was on several ten-best movie lists in 1951. McEldowney then returned to real estate and never made another movie.

Friday, February 24, 2006


My friend LoTus turned me on to the delightful seasonal treat called Paczki last year. This was just before she and her husband and their exquisite daughter Sunny moved to LA. We consumed them at the very old-school (since 1922) Dinkel's Bakery, about an hour before I recorded my first public radio essay. I brought a box of Paczki to the radio station, which is probably why they let me keep coming back.

The Dinkel's website describes them thus:

Paczki is not just another jelly donut. It's a premium sweet good that is super rich, filled, yeast raised pastry. It is a Polish tradition and is traditionally the item eaten to mark Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras. It is the last blow-out before the fasting period of Lent.

I'm not Catholic, but that's OK. Pretty much every day is a fat day for me.

Paczki is pronounced "POONCH-key", but I like to call them Ed Paschke's.

Like LoTus, Paschke was a painter from Chicago. Like Paczki, he was Polish. Chicago likes to claim it has the largest Polish population outside of Warsaw*.

We're also one of the fattest cities. And have the worst traffic. Not to mention the massive artist-drain to the coasts....

But I digress.

At Dinkel's, the Paczki come in the following flavas:

Fresh Strawberry
Custard & Chocolate (mixed)

My favorites are the Custard-and-Chocolate and the Prune (yes, I'm getting old).

So far today I've had three.

I was hoping they'd ease the pain of Tuesday's $550 mechanic bill for a new distributor and today's no-show class at 10 and the $50 parking ticket I found stuck to my car this morning (apparently it's now legal to tape a white, barely-visible "no parking from 7AM to 2PM" sign to a tree and put a handwritten "please move or you will be towed tomorrow" note under the windshield wiper of a legally parked car the night before you move and the police will enforce it. Yet upon closer inspection I learned that A) Enforcement is selective, since the car behind me didn't get a ticket and B) The affluent, well-connected whatchamacallits had also commandeered the alley, where another large moving van was piled high with their stuff. But they certainly got a fright when they saw me taking pictures of it all [to boost my defense when I contest the ticket]).

But I digress.

I gave two blueberry Paczki to Dorian Black, who took them home and exclaimed, "They're especially good if you suck out the blueberry filling and put a brownie inside."

Ack! I just read that Paczki are deep fried!

I'm still standing.

For now.

But Dinkel's has them til Tuesday.



*Chicago is also considered to be the second-largest Serbian city in the world after Belgrade (which has a population of two million). I know this is true because I went on a date with one of 'em. The brilliant Chicago-based writer Aleksander Hemon is a Bosnian who came here from Sarajevo in 1992. Dorian Black is Italo-Croatian.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


Marcia Froelke Coburn’s excellent interview of "This American Life" creator and host Ira Glass in the March issue of Chicago magazine opens with an intro that really rankles -- because it's total BS: “Ten years ago, in the first interview of his career, Ira Glass, a producer and on-air reporter for National Public Radio’s idiosyncratic news and features program "All Things Considered," sat down and told me about the idea he had for a new kind of radio program. It was going to concentrate on everyday life, with fiction or poems sandwiched between strangely ordinary people telling strange stories. Glass wanted to apply novelistic techniques to radio reporting.”

Actually, Glass’s first professional interview dates back to at least November of 1993, when I, Satya Cacananda, interviewed him for my first Illinois Entertainer media column. It was a piece on the WBEZ program "The Wild Room", a then-new kind of radio program that he co-hosted with NPR producer Gary Covino. “I like to think of it as the only show on public radio other than ‘Car Talk’ that both [NPR news analyst] Daniel Schorr and Kurt Cobain could listen to,” Glass told me. He added, “I think it’s appropriate that the show [which aired on Friday evenings] is on a station that most people don’t listen to at a time when most people won’t hear it. And the fact that public radio never puts a new show on the air or takes any off is definitely to our advantage.”

The latter is no longer true and Kurt Cobain is long dead. But the interviews went so well I became a guest – Gary’s guest – on the show several times. And I found the apartment where I still live through Ira – who last year loaned his own pad to The New Orleans Evacugees for a few months. And now he's moving to NYC (to which Covino fled before fleeing to Massachusetts), making Chicago yet again fall short of its pathetic, longstanding boast of being a world class city.


Sadly, the above photo is what you get when you do a Google image search for "Wild Room."

Saturday, February 18, 2006


Lads Gone Mad: A followup to last week's Tribune piece about the alleged relaxed sex standards in India. Gawd forbid you're a famous South Indian actress and say it's OK to have premarital sex as long as it's safe, and that men probably shouldn't expect to marry a virgin -- you'll be attacked by everyone from other women to Dalits (formerly known as Harijans or the Untouchable caste) to British boys' magazines.

If yr in a hurry the juicy bits are in boldface.....

From the 1/28 Observer (UK)

The actress, the virgins and the lads' mag in India

Wealthy young Indian men are being targeted by a 'culturally tweaked' British publication

Amelia Gentleman in New Delhi
Sunday January 29, 2006
The Observer

In the new basement offices of Maxim, the British lads' magazine launched in India this month, Sunil Mehra, the editor, sets out his policy. 'We don't do breasts. We don't do nipples. We do cleavage - that's our cultural template,' he said.

Studying proofs of the magazine's second edition, Mehra is navigating new terrain, trying to identify the boundaries of sexual acceptability in an increasingly permissive India. For the first issue he erred on the side of lewdness, superimposing the head of a famous actress on the body of a woman wearing transparent knickers, and ended up fighting off legal proceedings. Now he is veering towards caution. February's cover girl is Bollywood actress Kareena Kapoor and the strapline promises 'Eye-frying pics: More Kareena - Less Clothes'. On the cover Kapoor displays maybe an inch of midriff, but otherwise looks as if she could be on the way to meet her grandmother. Inside, pictures show her draped across a sofa, wearing a sensible T-shirt and a skirt which is only a tiny bit short. Readers' eyes will remain unfried.

Gentle titillation appears to be a winning formula. 'I have to walk a razor- fine line,' Mehra said. 'This is India, after all. I don't think Indian men are comfortable with total nudity.'

Maxim's arrival is the first attempt to export lad culture to India, but publishers of other men's titles have also expressed interest in targeting its growing population of rich young male consumers. The rival Condé Nast group is looking at bringing GQ to India and Playboy's chief executive, Christie Hefner, daughter of the magazine's founder, Hugh, said her company was aiming at a launch, though its magazine 'would not have nudity and I don't think it would be called Playboy'

Most media analysts agree India has no lad culture of the sort that fuelled Maxim's success when it launched in Britain in 1995, but 80,000 copies of the first Indian edition sold out in 10 days. 'This is just the beginning; others will follow,' Suhel Seth, a Delhi-based advertising executive said. 'There have always been flesh magazines in India, but until recently you wouldn't want to be seen carrying them, so they were sold in paper bags. That paper bag culture has been dispensed with.'

Vasanti Rao, director of the Centre for Media Studies in Delhi, said there would be a market for lads' mags among a new generation of young men, living alone for the first time. 'In the countryside people live with extended families. You would not want to sit with your sisters reading this. Changing lifestyles in urban India have given people a new privacy.'

International women's magazines such as Cosmopolitan have been pushing the boundaries of sexual openness in India for about a decade, but the men's market has not previously been targeted by foreign publishers. Among the domestic English-language titles available, Indian men could choose from Man's World, offering gardening and interior decoration tips, or Debonair, showing skimpily dressed girls headlined 'nubile nymphets'. Pornography is illegal, but available under the counter.

Attitudes towards sex are changing swiftly in India, but puritanism and permissiveness still coexist. Many Bollywood films still use such euphemisms as thunder or butterflies kissing to denote sex, and there is a long way to go before the nation readopts the relaxed mindset which inspired the Kama Sutra. Beyond the capital, displays of conservatism can be extreme. This month TV images were broadcast across the country of police in the northern town of Meerut beating young couples sitting in a park as part of a drive to eliminate 'indecent displays' of affection between unmarried couples.

When the actress Khushboo, who goes by one name, said last year that men should not expect their brides to be virgins, arguing that premarital sex was fine as long as it was safe, she was pelted with tomatoes, old shoes and rotten eggs by conservative groups and taken to court.

Instead of celebrating her stance, Maxim's inaugural edition had a mocked-up photograph of Khushboo half naked beneath a slogan declaring: 'Of course, I am a virgin if you don't count from the behind.' Khushboo threatened to sue and Maxim was forced last week to make a public apology

'A lawsuit is the best thing for sales,' said Shobhaa De, a novelist who writes forthrightly about relationships.

Media experts say the magazine must remain sensitive to local tastes to survive. About a third of India's Maxim is heavily rewritten material from the magazine's 30 other international editions, including an article promising to reveal '100 things you never knew about women'. 'It is a different market,' said editor Mehra. 'The magazine is culturally tweaked. I don't think you have to be pornographic to address the erotic.'

Khushboo's still suing. Here's the latest
from the 2-15-06 BBC news:
Khushboo gives ultimatum to Maxim
By L R Jagadheesan
BBC News, Madras

Khushboo will not accept an apology (Photo: RS Kumar)
Indian film star Khushboo has given Maxim magazine three weeks to pay compensation for publishing a faked photograph of her in a bikini.
The actress, who has been in more than 100 films, is seeking compensation of 30m Indian rupees ($680,000).

She said she was not willing to accept an apology and would sue if the magazine did not pay up.

Khushboo, who is popular in southern India, said the article had caused her "irreparable damage".

Her lawyer Karthikeyan said she was also planning to sue for defamation: "Irreversible damage has been done to her. An apology will not be sufficient."

The 35-year-old actress already filed a police complaint against the magazine following which the police in Madras (Chennai) seized several copies of the magazine from the newsstands.

The police also registered a criminal complaint against the publisher of the magazine under the "Indecent Representation of Women Act".

Khushboo is known for her outspokenness

The magazine had published the picture in its new Indian edition as part of a feature called "Women you will never see in Maxim - 100% fake".

The magazine subsequently apologised but failed to placate Khushboo, who is known for her outspokenness in a film world where conservatism still rules.

She faced a storm of protests last year after speaking out in favour of safe premarital sex and advising men not to insist on their brides being virgins.

Some political parties launched violent protests across Tamil Nadu state and filed several cases against her accusing her of hurting what they called Tamil sentiments.

Courts intervention stopped violent protests, but the cases against her are still pending before various courts in the state.

And here's a piece about the comments that sparked the whole thing (a few days after this appeared the Dalits protested in the streets and demanded an apology and requested that Khushboo, who hails from Maharashtra [Bombay area], be deported from Tamil Nadu). Rarely do women take to the streets like that.
From the Hindustan Times:

For prudes, Khushboo’s views on sex stink

GC Shekhar

Chennai, September 26, 2005

Tamil film and TV star Khushboo has kicked up a storm with her interview to a magazine where she said there was nothing wrong in premarital sex. Women's groups have hit out at her for “insulting Tamil womanhood”.

The actor told the Tamil edition of India Today that society should free itself from “outdated thinking that a woman has to be a virgin at the time of her marriage”.

“They should know to protect themselves from pregnancy and AIDS if they chose to have sex before marriage. Educated men these days do not expect their spouses to be virgins at the time of marriage,” she had said. The interview was part of a survey on sex and the single woman.

On Sunday, women members of the Dalit Panthers of India (DPI), armed with brooms and chappals [flip-flops], protested in front of the South Indian Artistes Association at T. Nagar. They demanded the actor leave the state and return to Mumbai. At least 60 activists were arrested.

Many suspect the DPI was getting back at Khushboo for spearheading a protest by female actors against director Thangabachan, a Dalit, after he had compared actresses to prostitutes in an interview recently. The director had to apologise even though the DPI had rallied behind him. Meanwhile, the Sun TV group’s new tabloid Tamil Murasu has tried to cash in on the debate and sought public opinion on Khushboo's — the star anchor of Jaya TV — remarks.

The actress and her director husband Sundar C. are currently in Singapore and are expected on October 5.

Oh, yeah -- In other news,the bird flu hit India today.

Thursday, February 16, 2006


Ever notice that




are almost one and the same?

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


According to Munkin the news that Aishwarya Rai and Abhishek Bachchan may wed was even carried by the Chicago Sun-Times.

For the record, Bachchan-the-younger gives me gas (Old Man Amitabh, on the other hand, is a whole 'nother story)....
We do love it though that a bit of extra deli belly is not a federal crime in India.


A link to the extended play version of the story is here.


'Aishwarya may marry Abhishek'
NEW DELHI: Their horoscopes match and a wedding could be on the cards says a Hindu priest in southern India, sparking off media reports that beauty queen Aishwarya Rai and Bollywood's rising star Abhishek Bachchan could be tying the knot soon.

Chandrashekar Swami, a Hindu priest and astrologer in Bangalore, said he had examined the horoscopes of both stars and found they "matched perfectly," the Times of India said in a report yesterday.

A former Miss World, Rai is a superstar in India. She has made more than 30 movies, served on the Cannes Film Festival jury and features in international ad campaigns for leading jewellery, cosmetic and cola companies.

The Rai-Bachchan wedding buzz began when a television channel reported last week that Abhishek's uncle, Ajitabh, had met Swami to seek his views about a Aishwarya-Abhishek match.




SATYA, a slim woman in her late 30's, reclines in an orange and chrome chair, clutching a fuzzy orange pillow, her legs covered with a plaid wool throw. She stares intently at the TV, which is playing "The Shield." To her left DORIAN BLACK, a slim man in his late 40's, hangs upside-down from an inversion table. His head is inches from the floor; his feet are near the ceiling, held in place by black metal cuffs. He too is watching the TV.

(glancing over)
I thought they got rid of Forest
Whitaker last week.

Me too. I hate that guy.

You know he's Johnny Whitaker's

The first gay man on TV.

He wasn't gay. He went on to
do "Sigmund and the Sea

(folding his arms)
Man my back hurts.


Friday, February 10, 2006


YODA : "Do, or do not. There is no try."

YOGA*: "At least try to do."


*This gem was sweetly delivered by Sharath Rangaswamy to The Hex, who had a torn meniscus and was standing up (vs. folding forward) in Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana at Guruji's 1999 NYC intensive. It worked; he did do.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


This would not go over in Mysore....

From Today's Chicago Tribune:

Some say India displays new openness about sex.
Others aren't so sure.

By Kim Barker
Tribune foreign correspondent

February 8 2006

NEW DELHI -- The two hosts wear shiny suits and advise men how to juggle more than one chick. They joke about test-driving women and perhaps choosing one "with bigger airbags." Babes in leather suggestively caress the latest mobile phones.

This is "The Man's World Show," a TV production that made its debut in mid-January. In the West, the show would be dismissed as a lame rip-off of testosterone TV. But in India, "The Man's World Show" is part of a revolution in the way Indians approach the topic of sex -- or at least, in the way the urban elite talk about sex.

What is happening now, at least for India's moneyed younger class, is a cultural shift akin to what happened in the 1950s and the 1960s in the United States. The topic of sex is coming out from behind closed doors and drawn shades.

Proclaiming "Hello boys!" and "Sizzling!," the first Indian edition of British laddie-mag Maxim hit the stands in late December -- the same week that Viagra arrived in the public marketplace. Not to be outdone, Playboy is planning to come to India, though its pin-up girls will have to be strategically draped to conform to the country's obscenity laws.

Even the most mainstream newspapers and magazines seem crowded with references to sex -- from advice on one-night stands to the latest shocking pornographic video clip sent instantly from mobile phone to mobile phone.

"Sex is no longer a taboo," says Shray Kamboj, 18, a law student in New Delhi. "People feel free to talk about their fantasies."

Granted, this revolution is happening for only a small number of Indians -- young go-getters in cities. Their parents are not included; neither are the millions of India's villagers mired in poverty. The result is a growing gap between affluent, urban young people who embrace the idea of sexuality and a prevailing society that still idealizes virgins; between a country struggling with an AIDS epidemic and the refusal by many men to even contemplate the use of condoms.

Even 10 years ago, couples would not scandalize society by holding hands in public.

Here, most high schools -- urban and rural -- do not teach sex education. An actress from southern Tamil Nadu state recently caused a huge controversy -- and was accused of insulting Tamil women's morals -- when she publicly advocated safe sex before marriage.

It has taken India centuries to get to this point. Ancient erotic sculptures and paintings depict multiarmed gods engaging in orgies, but India grew into a conservative, even repressed society.

Blame the Mughal emperors, blame the Victorian-era colonial English, blame tradition, blame conservative aunties. The result is this: Most marriages are arranged. Most men demand virgin brides. Obscenity laws outlaw nude pictures. Movie censors cut out anything resembling sex.

Even 10 years ago, couples would not scandalize society by holding hands in public. Bollywood movies showed sexy women, but they hesitated to show couples actually kissing. Instead, kisses were hinted at by bending flowers or flying birds.

But life in India has changed for the young elite, largely spurred by the economic liberalization policies of 1991 that led to an influx of Western companies, products and culture.

Satellite TV arrived, along with Indian MTV, and movies reflected the changing times. In 2003, the movie "Khwahish," or "Desire," grabbed headlines for its record-breaking 17 smooches sprinkled through a plotless storyline.

Now, Web sites rank Bollywood's hottest on-screen kisses -- although some movie stars vow never to hurt their images by engaging in such behavior.

Last year, India Today, a major news weekly, conducted a "Sex and the Single Woman" poll for its September issue, a bookend to the previous year's "What Men Want: Exploring the libido of the Indian male."

Propelled by the hot economy, young, educated Indians have found good jobs, moved out of their parents' homes and are experimenting with life on their own terms.

They flock to the bars and nightclubs that have multiplied in major cities and feature the pounding music of Bollywood hits, the Black Eyed Peas and inexplicably, Bryan Adams, particularly "Summer of '69." An increasing number of young people have postponed marriage -- but not sex. The India Today poll revealed one in four Indian women between 18 and 30 in 11 cities had sex before marriage. One in three women said she was open to having a sexual relationship even if she was not in love.

Young people are "breeding like rabbits, for God's sakes," says Sunil Mehra, the editor of the new Maxim in India.

Perhaps that's an exaggeration. Still, though it's certainly watered down by Western standards, Maxim's new India edition, Mehra says, is designed for men -- it is 20 percent about women and 80 percent about "what populates a man's universe."

But Indian society is a complicated world that has not come to terms with seemingly new openness about sex.

Saurabh Balwani, 18, a friend of Kamboj, says he is a virgin but he's open to the idea of having sex before marriage. His future wife should not be.

"It's just like that -- I prefer virgins," says Balwani over lunch at a McDonald's.

"It's so stupid," Kamboj responds. "You can't even tell who's a virgin."

Two tables away, a pair of female college students talk openly about sex.

Aparna Kapoor and Radhika Gupta, both 19, say they are no longer virgins, although Gupta says she won't introduce her boyfriends to her parents -- her elders are too conservative for that.

She also says she doesn't worry about the value Indian men traditionally place on choosing an untouched bride.

"Eventually, there won't be any virgins left," Gupta says.



Copyright © 2006, The Chicago Tribune

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


The Allah / free speech foofaraw = the American flag-burning brouhaha, as pointed out most pointedly by the brilliant folks at Badmash.

Many other excellent cartoons are also there.


*The damn things first appeared back in September. But that won't stop the cable news channels from flogging it to death.

Friday, February 03, 2006


A teacher from my early days at The Empty Shala came to my open class today and I was floored. I used to take his class nine years ago (and took over his Wednesday night class after he left-- and still teach it). That was before the shala was empty, and when I finally felt ready to take my first primary series class my main teacher situated my mat between his and that of my other teacher (the one who told me to be a teacher in the first place, and who went on to teach with Manju Jois). I remember watching both of them floating from arm balance into caturanga dandasana and thinking "no way," but they kept a compassionate eye on me and made sure I twisted the right way in Mari B and D. Seeing him was disconcerting, as was the fact that 12 people showed up to a class that usually has three to five. I'm not complaining -- energy and space-wise, 12 is the ideal class size. 'Twas a mix of newbies and very experienced folk but I led them through a sequence leading to Kapotasana anyway. However I was too freaked out to adjust my old teacher, except in savasana. Maybe next time.

Thursday, February 02, 2006


Barack Obama has a blog**

And Satya C got a brand-new ring.***


*While growing up just outside of McHenry in Johnsburg, Illinois (not unlike the Tom Waits song from Swordfishtrombones), my favorite author was Marguerite Henry (who was born in Milwaukee and lived in Chicago for awhile) and King of the Wind my favorite book -- far better than National Velvet if you ask me -- and I read it all the time, even though right outside we had 40 real, (mostly Appaloosa) horses -- one of which was mine. That is, until I decided to live below the poverty level with my mother... Then Buckwheat was immediately sold and my worldly possessions (toys, clothes, jewelry, etc) were gifted to the stempmotha's niece. Only after much lobbying was my mother grudgingly given $200 to replace the whole lot. I created an elaborate chart of what I wore to seventh grade each and every day so that no one knew I only had three outfits. But that's a whole 'nother story.

.... Justin Morgan and Samuel Adams -- separated at birth?

**If any of the five people reading this know of any Chicago luminaries / Windy City denizens who're prominent in their fields and keep blogs, let me know ASAP so I may further indulge my pathetic obsession.

....speaking of which -- apparently even local playwright/comedian/tritathlete Aaron Freeman, of Council Wars fame, shares my taste in templates. And we raced the same triathlon and attended the same after-party in 1991, and currently do those little essays on public radio. But as Gridlife points out, "He is: A Black Jew. You Are: A WASP-y nondenominational. He is: Non afraid to put his picture up. You Are: Oddly afraid to have any picture up." Plus he's older, gifted and black. I'm allegedly free, white and 41. Add your wry comment here: ______________________________________.

***The ring, a gift from Dorian Black, who is white, is not for 'roids but for a sore tailbone, the source of which seems to be the bucket seat in the new (1992) Honda-car, which I've been driving far too often of late.