Posts About Books
March 17, 2009
Art and Justice
“Give what you have to give and receive what has been given honestly and generously.” – Justice Albie Sachs, Constitutional Court of South Africa
So rare is real humility that until a few weeks ago, I’d almost forgotten what it looks like. It looks like Justice Albie Sachs, who sees more of the world from his one good eye than most of us do with two. Exiled from South Africa in 1966, targeted as a “race traitor” by the former apartheid regime, and nearly assassinated by a car bomb planted by South African agents, the Johannesburg-born Sachs sacrificed an eye, an arm and so much more to the fight against apartheid and for justice in his home land.
Long a behind-the-scenes orchestrator for change, Sachs has stepped forth quietly and surely when needed.. When Nelson Mandela became the first democratically elected President of South Africa in 1994, Sachs played an integral role in negotiations for the new constitution and the language of its revolutionary Bill of Rights. And, in many ways, he has become the gentle but firm “face” of the new South African government.
Now one of the most powerful voices on human rights, equality, dignity and freedom, Justice Albie Sachs is the original architect of the new constitution of South Africa. Two weeks ago, I was among a few hundred privileged guests of Chief Justice Ronald George, and Barbara George when Justice Sachs spoke in the, “Purpose of Justice,” series underwritten by Ralph and Shirley Shapiro of Los Angeles. That night Sachs spoke openly about apartheid, redefining systems of justice, and the inspiring role art and architecture have played in creating South Africa’s new Constitutional Court building.
Justice Sachs also gave us a preview of his new film, Light on a Hill, which has been submitted to the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. In it, Sachs takes viewers on an intimate and moving tour of the new Constitutional Court building, the most important physical structure in post-Apartheid South Africa. Built on the site of the Old Fort Prison in Johannesburg (once the “cage” for Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela), the new Constitutional Court now houses a diverse, light-filled art collection that simultaneously memorializes South Africa’s history and offers a rainbow colored vision for the country’s future.
To view this film is to walk alongside Justice Sachs through a building that is literally and symbolically filled with light – and with hope. Certainly everyone left the lecture hall that night with a buoyed spirit. And I was reminded…that the power of positive energy burns like a laser through grim surroundings. It’s a great message for all Americans, and for the world, at this present time and in this seemingly light-less economy. We should all be so fortunate as to have something to burn for so brightly. And so selflessly.
Although Light on a Hill has not yet been released to the public, you can find equally vibrant inspiration in Sachs’ books. I have already decided to pick up one of his autobriographies, The Soft Vengeance of a Freedom Fighter, re-issued by the University of California Press. His most recent book, Art and Justice: The Art of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, is a full-color showcase of the complexly beautiful artworks and interior design that make up “the most important building in post-Apartheid South Africa.”
** Justice Sachs was unofficially traveling with Facing History and Ourselves, an international educational and development organization whose mission is to engage students of diverse backgrounds in an examination of racism, prejudice, genocide and antisemitism in order to promote the development of a more humane and informed citizenry. If you’d like to learn more about this dynamic organization, please go to www.facinghistory.org. More than 1,400 educators and an estimated 150,000 students in the Bay Area have benefited from Facing History’s programs, and their reach is expanding. In partnership with the Cape Town Holocaust Centre and the Western Cape Department of Education, Facing History has created a project called Facing the Past, a 9th grade curriculum focusing on the Holocaust and apartheid, which is taught in 25 schools in the Cape Town province.
December 18, 2008
The Very Last Minute Holiday Gift Guide
by guest writer, Brooke Cheshier
Maybe you didn't know your brother was bringing his fiance home for the holidays. Or maybe, like me, you looked up from your overstuffed desk and realized - oh s#@$! - it's December 18th. Before you rush out and spend your hard earned money on a dozen iTunes gift cards, check out our last minute gift ideas. Not only do they seem thoughtful. they actually are.
Re-Consider the Catalog. All I want for Christmas is ANYTHING from Corti Brothers but, especially the rare shoyus (soy sauces) and deep sea salts. And the stamped pasta cutters, the Luxardo Box of Cherry Delights and the 750 mL bottle of Hayman’s Old Tom Gin…
If this were Japan, Darrell Corti would be a living national treasure.
He is also a walking encyclopedia when it comes to culinary culture, which is why every item in Corti’s food and drink web catalogue will engage your senses and please your palate. Darrell seeks out only the very best producers. As longtime customer Pam Hunter says, “You can order any product from this catalog knowing you will come to love it.” Food Blogger Elise Bauer of SimplyRecipes.com says her father has made daily pilgrimages to Corti Bros, for as long as she can remember.
If your holiday budget took a hit this year, don’t underestimate the value of a Corti Brothers newsletter subscription (It’s FREE!). The prose alone is enough to make your mouth water, although I’m personally dreaming about a stocking stuffed with sherries from Garvey Sacristia’s bodega in Jerez. Just In case anyone was wondering.
- For subscription and ordering information – and to pick up the recipe for the Martinez Cocktail (the ancestor to the martini and a classic Old Tom Gin concoction)– go to www.cortibros.biz.
Give the Gift of Knowledge. Everyone’s got to eat, right? Now everyone –well, everyone you love in NoCal– can know how and where to fill their bellies with the Bay Area’s juiciest brisket, beefiest meatballs, and leafiest vegetarian cuisine. All you have to do is give them a subscription to "Unterman on Food."
Patricia Unterman has been publishing her bi-monthly newsletter on food, wine, dining and travel for five years. It is safe to say that the restaurant reviewer for the San Francisco Examiner and chef/co-owner of Hayes Street Grill knows a thing or two about eating and drinking. And where to go to do the best of both.
With Unterman as their guide, your friends and family will find real joy at Five Happiness (where a banquet for 10 could cost less than $200) and superior pisco cocktails at the Embarcadero’s La Mar Cebicheria Peruana. Unterman is also an expert on where to find the best West Coast version of an East Coast crab shack, the cheapest 7-course beef Vietnamese beef dinner and the most comforting fusion of Indian, Chinese and Southeast Asian flavors.
This is one of those gifts you send out that comes back to you threefold. Karma, baby. Karma.
- A subscription runs about $32. Send checks to Unterman on Food, c/o Hayes Street Grill, 320 Hayes Street, San Francisco, CA 94102. Unterman is also the author of the San Francisco Fooder Lover’s Pocket Guide, which makes a sweet little stocking stuffer.
Go to http://www.hayesstreetgrill.com/uof-newsletter.html.
Embrace The Pleasure Principle: If there’s one wine that will spice up your life, it is petite syrah. It’s important to remember, however, that not every petite syrah is created equal. On a bad day, it’s baggy, flabby and way out-of-proportion. But on a good day – and with a great winemaker behind it, every day is a good day– it’s rich and voluptuous, even slightly zaftig.
That’s right, we said zaftig. As in erotically ripe and round. Think Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, Elizabeth Taylor at her peak ripeness, or Quixote Winery’s 2004 Petite Sirah and you’re on the right track.
The Doumani family has always believed in making wine with both structure and personality. At first glance, this petite syrah from Napa Valley’s Stags’ Leap Ranch Vineyard is a hedonists’ dream. It’s all satin and silk, blackberry brambles and earth-covered fruit. And yet, it possesses a robust tannin structure and enough acid for some quality aging.
In other words, a bottle (or a case) of the ’04 Petite Syrah has the potential to keep on giving for years to come. Since Quixote made less than a thousand cases of this wine, the gift has the added allure of being precious and rare. It tastes mighty fine, too.
- To order the 2004 Quixote Petite Syrah, visit www.quixotewinery.com and click on “Purchase Wine.” If you love the flavor and patina of older red wines but don’t have the patience (or the cellar) to wait for them to properly age, Quixote’ also has an incredible selection of library wines. They sell out quickly, however, so don’t hesitate too long to scoop up some of these juicy treasures.
Brooke Cheshier spends most weekends watching SEC Football and stealing blackberries from the neighbors. She is the wine correspondent for G -The Magazine of Greenville, making heavenly matches between southern eats and the world of drinks. Visit her blog at: http://aficionada.squarespace.com.
December 15, 2008
SF Urban Holiday 2008
by guest writer, Brooke Cheshier
Book Review; Seeing Through The Fog: A Gateway to San Francisco
What to do When the Fog Clears
Forget Citywalks. If you want a real San Francisco experience this holiday season, let the 72 voices of this inspirational anthology guide you through the beloved Bay Area metropolis known as Fog City.
Pulitzer Prize finalist, ace raconteur, accidental parent, and the man behind McSweeney’s. Over the last decade the many, slightly manic, personae of Dave Eggers have manifested themselves for readers through personal works like A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and magazines like The Believer.
Now meet Dave Eggers, the tutor and mentor to high school kids in San Francisco and across the nation. The founder of a nonprofit writing and teaching organization called 826 Valencia, he is the man behind this combination city guide, historic chronicle and inspirational memoir. Well, he and three high school teachers, 82 tutors and 72 high school students.
>A collection of essays written by seniors from Gateway High School, Seeing Through the Fog is one of several books created by 826’s Young Author’s Book Series, an annual project that allows students to serve as both editors and authors as they learn the ropes of the publishing industry. The results of the series are timely anthologies like Seeing Through the Fog, one of the most original and moving San Francisco “travel guides” in the market to date.
Comprised of 72 surprisingly astute perspectives on life, travel and passion in the Bay Area, these essays will lure you off the beaten path and introduce you to some of the city’s most delicious pleasures. We’re not just talking about the pink popcorn at Stow Lake. Although it is a treat.
This holiday season, why don’t you let the kids of Gateway High be your guide through the neighborhoods, bridges and back alleys of San Francisco. Set off on madcap adventures through Chinatown’s Pacific Fish Market, take archery lessons in Golden Gate Park and learn to survive in the Mission on just $22 a day. You won’t want to miss Conor Murphy-Hoffman’s poignant take on the neighborhood's gentrification. Of course, seeing the city from these young, animated perspectives may just inspire you to look at San Francisco with fresh eyes. Once you feel steady, you can take off the training wheels and do some creative merry-making of your own.
Christmas Bonus: You can find copies of Seeing Through the Fog on Amazon.com and on Valencia.org , but don’t buy it used! Proceeds from the sale of new books go toward free student programming at 826 Valencia, an educational nonprofit serving the Bay Area and with satellites across the U.S. For more information go to www.826valencia.org. Remember, giving to others is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.
May 14, 2008
Hear Eleanor Coppola Read
From Her, "Notes On A Life"
"Eleanor Coppola shares her extraordinary life as an artist, filmmaker, wife, and mother in a book that captures the glamour and grit of Hollywood and reveals the private tragedies and joys that tested and strengthened her over the past twenty years.
Her first book, Notes on the Making of Apocalypse Now, was hailed as “one of the most revealing of all first hand looks at the movies” (Los Angeles Herald Examiner). And now the author brings the same honesty, insight, and wit to this absorbing account of the next chapters in her life.
In this new work we travel back and forth with her from the swirling center of the film world to the intimate heart of her family. She offers a fascinating look at the vision that drives her husband, Francis Ford Coppola, and describes her daughter Sofia’s rise to fame with the film Lost in Translation. Even as she visits faraway movie sets and attends parties, she is pulled back to pursue her own art, but is always focused on keeping her family safe. The death of their son Gio in a boating accident in 1986 and her struggle to cope with her grief and anger leads to a moving exploration of her deepest feelings as a woman and a mother.
Written with a quiet strength, Eleanor Coppola’s powerful portrait of the conflicting demands of family, love and art is at once very personal and universally resonant."(Random House, 2008)
Upcoming Book Signing Events:
5/19/2008 - 7:30 pm
1010 El Camino Real
Menlo Park, CA 94025
5/20/2008 - 6 p.m.
242 Columbus Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94133
5/22/2008 - 7 pm
51 Tamal Vista Blvd.
Corte Madera, CA 94925
5/28/2008 - 7:30 pm
Capitola Book Cafe
1475 41st Avenue
Capitola, CA 95010
6/3/2008 - 7 pm
Rubicon Estate (Click here for information on the 'Music in the Vineyards' event)
1991 St Helena Highway
Rutherford, CA 94573
To purchase tickets for this event: 707-258-5559
May 1, 2008
Father-Daughter Artists Provide
Two Reasons for Palo Alto Field Trip
Experiments in Navigation: The Art of Charles Hobson
Exhibition Explores Making of Artist's Books at Two Venues on Stanford University Campus
April 30 - July 6, 2008 at Cantor Arts Center
April 30 - August 17, 2008 at Peterson Gallery, Green Library, Stanford, California
The Stanford University Libraries and the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University present the exhibition "Experiments in Navigation: The Art of Charles Hobson,” which opens at two locations on campus April 30. Hobson's work explores themes of classical mythology, astronomy, surrealism, shipwrecks, and love affairs of famous historical figures, among other topics, through the medium of the artist's book.
April 17, 2008
Summer Garden Cooking Inspired
By Sonoma Author in 2 New Books
Guest posting by Janet Fletcher
Anybody who loves fruits and vegetables as much as Jeff Cox clearly does is, for me, a kindred spirit. Cox, a prolific writer, has spent his distinguished professional career promoting organic gardening, wine appreciation and good cooking, all passions I share. For those of us who believe that good eating begins with a home garden—or, lacking that, a local farmer’s market—Cox’s two new books, The Organic Cook’s Bible and The Organic Food Shopper’s Guide (both from John Wiley & Sons), reinforce our prejudices. Like him, I’m persuaded that varieties matter (nothing beats an O’Henry peach), that the season should steer the menu, and that fresh produce offers endless inspiration.
A Sonoma County resident and longtime restaurant critic for the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Cox spent much of his early career at Organic Gardening magazine. Organic food was a fringe movement then; today’s shoppers have many more organic choices, and Cox’s new books give readers the tools to make the most of them.
February 22, 2008
Academy Awards 2008, Watch the Costumes
“No One Knows Our Name”
If you read, “Dressed: A Century Of Hollywood Costume Design,” published by Harper Collins last November, you’ll be hypersensitive to the difference between red carpet fashion and the art of costume design when you watch the Academy Awards Sunday night. Written by Deborah Nadoolman Landis, president of The Costume Designers’ Guild, “Dressed” takes the reader from the lavish productions of Hollywood’s Golden Age to contemporary blockbusters, illustrating the pivotal role the costume designer plays in creating the authentic characters that move an audience to tears and to laughter.
December 5, 2006
Heidi Swanson Book Announcment
December 4, 2006
In the February 2007 Ten Speed Press will publish the second book
by our talented and progressive friend, Heidi Swanson. This isn't
old material re-packaged. She's created an original we'll all want
on our reference shelves. In fact, if I were on your gift list, I'd be
glad to receive an IOU for this book.
To receive an e-vite to the party I'll host in her honor in Napa, send me a return e-mail indicating your interest.
68 Coombs Street, Ste. C
Napa, CA 94559
Mailing address: P.O. Box 670, Napa, CA 94559