Artist Nagi Noda’s Death: Too Young To Die

I was a little late to the news but learning of artist and conceptual filmmaker (they call her a director but I think that is not the best description by any means)  Nagi Noda’s sudden death makes me incredibly sad. Only 35 years old, so unique, so creative, so accomplished, so weird, delightful, and magical.  Time is of the essence to make art and invent so get to it. I feel this urgency now more than ever. The sky is falling. The sky is falling, yes, but economy be damned (and I’m talking to myself too here).  This is one woman I wanted to meet and befriend (of many of course!) She inspired me and awed me. Japan, with all its innovation and break-through everything, is not an easy place to be different. Selfishly, this is such a disappointment. I wanted another 50 years of Nagi Noda.




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Trailer: The Greatest Silence: Rape in The Congo

HBO Films. Won the Jury prize at Sundance 2008.

and 60 minutes report on the war against women in the Congo, massive rape during the Congolese civil war from 3 years olds to 75 year old women victimized.

How to help? Go to Women for Women dot org



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Kyoto Backstreets: My Adventures in Ancient Craftsmanship in Japan


I just got back from the back alleys of Kyoto where I met wonderful people and got a chance to take an inside look on some of the best and most ancient craftsmanship the world has to offer.

  1. A family-run dye workshop that does all the hand dying for Issey Miyake. They use natural root vegetables, charcoal, coffee, and various indigenous plants, layering color on pre-worn and original fabrics to varied effect. He also employs ancient fabric cutting techniques mixing new technology with the ancient craft used for centuries. We sweat and fanned ourselves in a Kyoto workshop tucked away in one of the many back roads of Kyoto among rows of wood and clay houses. His daughter presided over boiling blue dye and his son’s voice could be heard from the back room. He told us his wife was also an artist. The reed thin, passionate, and kindly man took treated us as though we were the most important people in the world. We sipped iced coffee and poured over his portfolio books of sketches, fabric samples, ink drawings as the fan whirred offering us moments of cool air before oscillating around the room again. (In America, this would never happen. The person would be so protective of his work fearing imitation.)
  2. A young cobbler trained in ancient techniques with a store and workshop in a leafy residential neighborhood. He hand stitches an updated version of the Geta shoe (the thong slippers Geisha wear with socks, usually made of wood with blocks at the heel and toe to raise the height). His are a layering of visible structural materials on leather. I bought a pair he had in the workshop already. He makes only 30 pair a month because of the time it takes to cut the leather, to dye it with vegetable dyes, and to hand stitch the shoe.
  3. Tale of the Genji scrolls by Yamaguchi (a story originally written by a woman, Murasaki Shikibu 1000 A.D.)

I love Japan. I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s like a love affair you can’t forget and you are sure you will be right back. Well, maybe I won’t be right back – instead I’m headed to the Normandy coast and then probably London waiting for my next project to start. But I’ll be back. More on Japan later.



Solo Traveler: Reflections On Life in a Non-Traditional Asian Family

Growing up in a non-traditional Asian family, I have always loved travel. My mother lived in Hamburg, Germany for 13 years. During that time she backpacked all over Europe, most of the time solo. When she got married, she and my father often went camping together, packing tents sometimes in sub zero weather.

I like traveling alone. That is not to say I haven’t encountered the weird, the strange, and the hilarious. When I went to New York for the first time, my friends couldn’t understand why I would go alone. Their fears ranged from boredom to personal safety.

When I travel alone, I’m able to think clearly. Going to New York alone for the first time, I was able to feel Central Park, take time with paintings at the MET, watch people passing by me more clearly.

Sometimes, when you are with friends, you are so engaged in conversation that them that new sights become a blur, a memory before you even go home. You don’t take the time to look or really see. Because I had three days left and I had already poured over the whole city, I decided to take the Chinatown bus to Boston and Washington D.C. Upon coming back, my mind was filled with anxiety. It was after midnight when I arrived and I guess I thought, coming from a small town, that the streets would be empty with shady people lurking around corners. Myth! When the bus stopped, the passengers unloaded. I was relieved to see the streets bustling. As I begun to walk to the nearest subway, I thought like a child of all the possibilities of things that could go very wrong. Then a voice whispered, “excussseee meeee?” My heart jumped into my throat and I panicked, and okay, I ran. And then I turned around. It was a lost and confused tourist. I shook off my embarrassment and walked back and helped her.

In Japan, I spent some days traveling by myself. In a super market, this lady offered food samples. Tiny crackers inside a cup- that’s Japan for you. Unassumingly, I took the whole tiny cup. She then shook her head furiously, gave me a disapproving frown, and gestured “one only”. Embarrassed, I gave back the tiny cup and took one tiny cracker from the cup. But if you saw the tiny cracker, you would have done the same. In America, the whole cup IS the sample.

My hope is to travel around the world, alone. I would bring two essentials- a journal and a camera. I reevaluate my goals and dreams when I travel and realize what I really care about back home.

-by Rebekka Lien former Girl on the street “GOTS girl”


This feminist says: I’m not voting for Hillary Clinton just because she’s a woman

we are not asking permission from some great Uncle Sam like authority to be who we are or to have power.


Tenisha Anderson, Qlix Founder Talks Obama

I’ve been back from my studies in London for about 6 months now (returned to the good ole U S of A in November 2007) and I’m torn between whether I miss London or not and whether I am happy to be back in Chicago or not. Thus my life story…indecisive as hell. Living in London for the past in year and a half was interesting to say the least. Coming back to “The Chi” was once welcomed with open arms, but has now (after 6 months) as posed a challenge…I get bored very easily.t

However, right now in the American economy…I have done what very few immediate university graduates are able to accomplish and that is not only snag a job, but a job in the industry in which I received my degree. What a feat and something that I am extremely proud of and excited about.

Nevertheless, my excitement at the present time does not continuously lie within the joy of my jobs, as interesting as they may be (i.e. working in the advertising department for mags Maxim and Blender and freelancing as international editor for Papierdoll magazine), but my overt exuberance is towards the constant battle between Clinton and Obama for the Democrat nomination (pure entertainment) and the US Presidential election in November. For the first time in my 31 years of existence, I can honestly say that I feel like there is a candidate who is for all of us and not just pulling interest from those in my parents and grandparents generations. That I’m not choosing a candidate just because he/she is a democrat, but because I believe in this individual’s mantra to bring change and unity to this country.

History is being made, and to think at one time one would have thought hell would have to freeze over before seeing a woman or a person of color running for the highest office in the free land.

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Alabama Chanin Answers: Who Is Your Hero?

Chauncey was diligent in asking me to post. She just didn’t give up. I almost dreaded when her next email would come as I really did not know what I wanted to say with my “personal” voice. It seems that my “Alabama Chanin” voice has become my personal voice or, perhaps, that my personal voice has become one with my Alabama Chanin voice. For this reason, it was difficult to find a place and time to speak my own mind.

I was asked the other day by a journalist, “Who is your hero?” And my answer was, “If I have to choose one, Alice Waters.”

The person asking the question replied, “Who is Alice Waters?” And I did not know where to begin. So, my answer was rather bland, “Why don’t you Google her?”

So, I Googled Alice Waters myself and became inspired again after all these years.

If I could have “Dinner for Twelve before I Die” – a game that I play often with an ever changing cast of characters, Alice Waters would forever be both Chef and Honored Guest.

The Edible School Yard is one of the most important projects started in years as it takes the mission of the 4-H Club and the best of Montessori training into our contemporary society and straight to the classroom where it prepares a legion of children to appreciate, cultivate and propagate their own food and tastes.

I have tried to model my life after The Edible School Yard. My own backyard is a place to plant, grow and reap the rewards of a good days work. I want to use fabric, fashion, textiles and my voice to feed the hungry, myself and my family while learning (and loving) the taste of it…

That is why Alice Waters is my hero.


Mommy and Baby Go to the Salon

I read an article the other day talking about a trend in hair salon treatments for kids as young as six and usually in the ten to twelve year range. The first time my now thirteen year old sister got highlights I really laid in on her. I said she was going to ruin her hair and miss out on the beauty of being a little girl. I found it creepy to see such a child with porcelain skin and baby fat also have processed locks.

Attention all global marketers – your children’s market is shrinking.

Childhood only seems to last from the time infancy/toddler age ends (two-ish) to, apparently, six or eight. That’s a small window for digging in the dirt and getting elbow scrapes climbing trees.

Five or so years ago, I noticed and heralded the narrowing gap between mothers and their daughters. Girls and moms both loved Spongebob and Justin Timberlake. I love the idea of the freedom to not be restricted by your demographic. That you can tap into your tween-self and return to your complex nuanced adult self all within an outing. I created a strategic platform for a well-known plush toy company to use their material to create products across six stages of human development with this idea in mind – that in one individual there is the infant, the newly physically separate child, the newly socialized kid, the preteen, the teen, the early adopter twenty-something, and the settled and established adult. I was excited about the idea that we can’t be reduced to a list of simple drives. We live at a time when time is new again – where our task is to break from all previous definitions.


I love technology and what is has afforded us in freedoms to define ourselves but skipping the inevitably time consuming aspect of human development in our desire to mimic and therefore rush our entree into the consuming public, juxtaposing nascent flesh and clean new hair, small hands and feet, clouding organic physical and mental development and self-integration with a marring of your physical nascent being doesn’t allow or any freedom at all.

-Chauncey Zalkin

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