Happy birthday Buddha

This year in Korea and much of Asia, May 14th is calculated to be the day on which the Buddha’s birthday is celebrated.  Having never attended his birthday celebrations before, a friend and I hopped on a cab to the nearby Yakchunsa Temple 약천사(제주) here in Jeju Island South Korea to see what was up. Here’s a bit of what we saw:

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Happy birthday Buddha

The infinitely disgusting horror of the tulip [UPDATED]

Today while digging a small trench into which I was to transplant some salvaged lavender, I happened to glance over at a massive red and black tulip.  Have you ever done, this?  If not, here is what you will find at its flowery heart:

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The naughty bits of the tulip in my yard

My brother Ben, possessed as ever of a particular kind of excellent timing, recalled the sentiments of the Slovenian psychoanalytic Salvoj Žižek on the subject to tulips as vagina dentata. 

 

UPDATE:

My friend Hannah responds to this with a link to Sylvia Plath’s poem Tulips, in which the hospital-bound Plath engages in a lengthy hallucination/fantasy involving a bouquet of tulips brought to her by some well-wisher, but which she transforms into a monstrous presence:

The tulips turn to me, and the window behind me
Where once a day the light slowly widens and slowly thins,
And I see myself, flat, ridiculous, a cut-paper shadow
Between the eye of the sun and the eyes of the tulips,
And I have no face, I have wanted to efface myself.
The vivid tulips eat my oxygen.

and

The tulips should be behind bars like dangerous animals;
They are opening like the mouth of some great African cat,
which all got Hannah and I talking on the social mediaz about this thing with tulips:
H:  I want to take Zizek to the Georgia O’Keeffe museum and leave him there. Haha! !!!
Me: Yah he has some issues.
H:  whereas Sylvia Plath – no issues there. haha! 

Me: perhaps over-identification with or hostility towards nearby tulips should be added to the DSM
H:  there are some pretty good lines in that poem that would be good crazy blog comments when written in all caps…
H:  I DIDN’T WANT ANY FLOWERS
H:  I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH EXPLOSIONS
H:  THE TULIPS ARE TOO RED IN THE FIRST
H:  THEY HURT ME aaaaaah
Me:  THE TULIPS SHOULD BE BEHIND BARS LIKE DANGEROUS ANIMALS
The infinitely disgusting horror of the tulip [UPDATED]

Greenwood a few days after the explosion

Early on Wednesday morning of this week, my Seattle neighborhood was rocked by a large natural gas explosion which destroyed three local businesses and damaged many other buildings.  This happened at the center of the neighborhood commercial district — a place I go every day.  For these three businesses:  Mr Gyros, Neptune Coffee and Greenwood Quickstop, the destruction was total.

I’d always hear about the change in human and community behavior after a disaster — perhaps most famously in New York after 911 … and while this is surely no 911 (nine firefighters sustained injuries, no one died) I’ve observed the same sort of phenomenon here in our little neighborhood.  More strangers talked to me this week than every before.  People gave money to support the destroyed businesses and employees.  Drank beer to raise money.  Gave more money.  Some school kids at Greenwood Elementary formed themselves into the shape of a heart that was seen by the news helicopters hanging overhead all week.  Here are a few images of what the neighborhood looked like today, two days later, as cleanup began:

 

Greenwood a few days after the explosion

Seattle 10th and Pine February night

pine

I love my city.  I took this photo in the Pike/Pine part of Capitol Hill in Seattle just the other night.  Pike/Pine has become an infamous hive of gentrification these last several years.  It’s pretty much the familiar story — a place that used to house artists, fringe theaters and dingy coffee shops but now serves evermore as a playground for young techies with way too much money and not enough experience.  I took the photo just after passing a huge mob of people outside a club.  Turns out some local guy was playing inside — probably an unannounced gig.  This happens sometimes in Seattle:  we have just enough local bigwigs that some artist-of-national-note will sometimes show up in a medium sized or smaller club and play an impromptu date.  But whatever.  I’m not a huge popular music fan (Same Love aside, I can’t keep it all straight in my own head, and besides most of it is terrible music) but I am a fan of scenes like this:  big mobs of people on the sidewalk … hot-dog man setup in their midst, rain coming down, cold-but-not-freezing.  And by the way, hot dogs in Seattle look like this:

hotdog
Cream cheese is the Seattle Way
Seattle 10th and Pine February night

My shadow on the Sagrada Familia

Antoni Gaudi’s great masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia cathedral of Barcelona, is still under construction in that city some 140 years after the first stone was laid.  The pauses in its construction have been many — wars (parts of the front door were blown away during the Spanish Civil War), financial hard times, a reversal in the general zeitgeist around either cathedrals or Gaudi himself.

door.jpg

But the thing is a magnificence — its interior in particular steals the breath, while its exterior manages to be both grandly structural and filigreed in its more intimate aspects.  It’s equally amazing if viewed from a distance with squinting eyes, or up close, inches from its stones.   Visit it if you can.  I hope to again during my life, if I am lucky.

 

My shadow on the Sagrada Familia