Thursday, June 26, 2008

Strange Magic Two

Today I will present my second episode of

Strange Magic
Misses & Hits of the 1970s

We will begin the festivites around 4:15 pm at

You can listen through iTunes.

This show is dedicated to the 1970s, a decade of fanciful, cinematic, dreamy and aspirational pop music. Yay! We will, we will rock you.

Last week's show list was as follows. As always, we sprinkled an ultrafine mist of sounds from other eras. (Clear throat):

1. The Wackers, "Hot Wacks"
2. The Wackers, "We Can Be"
3. The Real Kids, "My Baby's Book"

4. Ted Mulry Gang, "My Little Girl"
5. Nina Simone, "My Baby Just Cares For Me" (1959)
6. Curtis Mayfield, "Blue Monday People"

7. Journey, "Stone In Love"
8. Bay City Rollers, "Shang-A-Lang"
9. Nick Lowe, "Rollers Show"

10. Ted Mulry Gang, "Dark Town Strutters' Ball"
11. Fats Waller, "Dark Town Strutters' Ball," composed by Shelton Brooks 1917
12. Elvis Presley, "Burning Love"

13. Journey, "Don't Stop Believing"
14. The Toms, "Long Line of Collectors"
15. Olivia Newton-John, "If Not For You"

16. Electric Light Orchestra, "Sweet Is the Night"
17. Isley Brothers, "Hello It's Me"
18. Todd Rundgren, "Couldn't I Just Tell You"

19. 38 Special, "Hold On Loosely"
20. Badfinger, "Beautiful & Blue"
21. Dobie Gray, "Drift Away"

22. Poco, "Raindrops"
23. Shakone, "Love Machine"
24. Status Quo, "The Price of Love"

25. Fanny, "I Need You Need Me"
26. Stevie Wonder, "You and I"
27. Disney Pinnoccio soundtrack, "When You Wish Upon A Star," 1940


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Boogie-woogie yay!

"I can see your house from here."

It's finally summertime. School's out for summer!

That means time for my rock & roll radio show!

Strange Magic.

(The show formerly known as Rock & Roll Love Letter.)

I am SO excited about the show I've got planned for tomorrow, Thursday June 19.

4 pm West Coast Time.

Then go to "Tune In."

It's a really neat station.

And tomorrow, I am going to play music to make YOU happy.

Gardening wise, I am waiting waiting waiting for my tomatoes and strawberries, and the suspense is killing me. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Sunflower, the King of Flowers

I used to be very political, but while living in the former Eastern Bloc 1992-1995, my kneejerk American liberalism took a serious blow. 

I truly long, with all my heart, soul, and essence, for a world in which all creatures are treated with respect and kindness. I long with an aching heart for a world of equality and peace. 

Always have, always will.

I am Irish, after all.

But my ideas about the mortal patterns known as "politics" have gone a bit woozy.

I spent a lot of time with American communists in college--I went to UC Santa Cruz, after all. But living in a former Communist nation for three years after graduation was a rude awakening. I discovered that a  lot of great ideas just don't work out so well macro-wise. Which is something Karl Marx really should have thought about. 

I think Karl Marx should have thought about architecture.

The Czechoslovak people had a nice thing going before the Russians stepped in; they really did. They weren't exactly living in the Dark Ages. They had a democracy and beautiful stylish Art Nouveau architecture; they gave women the right to vote before the Americans did.

This was all before the Commies took over.

The Communists built faceless, ominous mega-housing projects, prefabricated monstrosities called panelaks. I lived in one. Humane, but not human.

That experience -- living in Eastern Europe without money for a substantial period of time-- is Reason Number One why my American Kneejerk Liberalism took a blow. 

Reason Number Two is that I found out that people who are politically or economically subjugated can also be absolute jerks, just as much as anybody else. Americans have no monopoly on jerkiness, stupidity, and ugliness. 

Jackass-ness is something that can transcend -- and descend -- class, race, and education. It's something that often exists on the most basic animal level. It has to do with genetics, with family dynamics, with brain chemistry, with a soul's nature. And with socio-economic experience. 

That's what I learned in Eastern Europe.

There's a particular kind of liberal narcissism that thinks Americans are somehow responsible for human evil.

This is a vast and useless burden that benefits no one and hurts many.

Reason Number Three that my liberal politics took a blow: Bill Clinton approved the deregulation of radio, effectively whoring our most beautiful, beloved, and sacred media.

Reason Number Four: The majority of the Democrats in the House and Senate voted for the war in Iraq.

It's not like I had any illusions about the Democrats by that point. But they lay down much more quickly than I had expected--with a few exceptions. 

Thursday, May 29, 2008

This Is Why

I Love E.L.O.

The Electric Light Orchestra.

E.L.O. is music that brings an eager message to the world, a message of some urgency but great delicacy:

Life is special.

This is why I Love E.L.O.

But E.L.O. gives even more: Their music also says, Music is Special.
Music is An Event.
And isn't it exciting?
You might say that E.L.O. is music about music.

Music about the Beatles. Music about Beethoven and Roy Orbison.
In this way, E.L.O. is very Disney. Because so often, the Disney ethos is art about art. Fantasy about fantasy. Experience about experience. Take Angels Stadium in Anaheim, designed under Disney: a baseball stadium about baseball. Or Disney Hall: a concert hall about concert halls (as Jonathan Gold wrote when it first opened, if memory serves).
I like that, though.
And no, I'm not smoking pot.
To bring this all back to the subject at hand, I would now like to posit that the Passion Flower, Passiflora edulis, is the most Disney of flowers. Or, put another way, it is the E.L.O. of flowers.
Passiflora edulis is the one flower that, more than all flowers, says, Aren't flowers cool?
Passiflora edulis is a flower about flowers.

There's really no other explanation.

Monday, April 28, 2008


"...Women who ate five or more servings of chocolate each week in their third trimester of pregnancy were 40 percent less likely to develop preeclampsia than those who ate chocolate less than once a week."

If I could grow my own chocolate in the garden, you know I'd be all over that action. 

Instead, I am going to grow something called Chocolate Morning Glory . I am going to grow it on my arbor, which is currently naked. This is what the Chocolate Morning Glory is supposed to look like. 

"Is there something yummy going on? It must be me."

Some people hate Morning Glories because they can be a bit invasive. I love them, because my mother always grew them in our backyard on Third Avenue in Koreatown. I also love them because they grow quickly to create a near-instant screen of loveliness, and they always reach for the sun. Aw. Morning Glory blossoms only live for a day, but they put on quite a show. Many times, the sight of a brand-new, just-opened Morning Glory in my garden has yanked me out of the dark blues and into the bright sunlight. 

Morning Glories have an important lesson to teach. And like the best teachers, they teach by example.

So, my big Artistic Plan is to grow them on the arbor with something called 'Ruby Moon' Hyacinth Bean, which apparently makes purple bean pods and lavender-ish flowers that look like sweet peas. 

"We represent the purple pod guild."

Brown, purple and lavender: a color combo made in flower-chocolate heaven.

"He's the bean pod, I'm the flower."
Over the weekend, I played the vintage 1970s Family Feud board game with some friends, which I can't recommend enough.


It's truly a great game. But one of the questions was a bit fucked-up for me. 

"Name five fruits or vegetables that grow on a stalk." 

Feeling horticulturally savvy, I blurted out "Brussels Sprouts!" 


You see, the key to this game is not being correct, but being able to think like someone in the 1970s. Maybe someone who's not necessarily the smartest blouse on the rack.

Apparently people in the 1970s didn't know very much about plants, because the answers were all things like beans, which obviously grow on vines, and celery, which is a stalk, but doesn't grow on a stalk. 

My answer was a big zero. I felt like such a mom. I mean, a Family Feud Mom. You know what I mean.


PS: Go eat some chocolate.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Urf Day!

Hi, Wiggle Worms:

Happy Earth Day! Today is my personal best Earth Day ever, and it's also my earthiest, because today I got a "crapload" of badass compost from Mr. Tim Dundon of Altadena, for a song. Marta Teegan of Homegrown put me in touch with him. 

Mr. Tim Dundon has a miniature jungle full of exotic fowl, including a Polish rooster named Rod Stewart, for obvious reasons. Rod Stewart was a little camera-shy, but here is a photo that looks like him.

"Yes, I really am this cool."

My favorite was the crested duck, though. Here is what it looks like as a baby. Can you say OMG CUTE?

"Oh my! I think I'll take a walk."

Mr. Tim Dundon also has a huge compost pile made of fresh wood shavings scraped from the floor of a high-end horse stable. His compost is THE SHIT, if you know what I mean. I will provide his phone number if you leave a comment. He doesn't like to be paid for his compost, but I gave him as much money as he would take. He really just wanted me to spread the word about the magic of gardening. He was full of poetic turns of phrase, such as "The garden is the altar on which we worship God" and things of this nature. 

Mr. Tim Dundon takes a dim view of organized religion, Catholicism in particular. He said that instead of a Popemobile, he drives a big old truck called a Poopmobile.

He also takes a dim view of capitalism. He likes to practice what he calls Crapitalism.

Things of this nature.

I am going out side to pour this happy horsheshit into my raised beds, and sink a bunch of tomatoes, cukes, zukes, bell peppers, strawberries et al.

From the bottom of my soil, Happy Earth Day to you and yours.


Monday, April 21, 2008

Spring at Sunset Nursery

Hi, Strawberry!

I went to Sunset Nursery today and spent about an hour and a half choosing seeds and plants for my spring/summer veggie/fruit/flower fiesta. One time I saw Bianca Jagger at Sunset Nursery. This time I didn't see anyone from Studio 54. However, I noted that the variety of Blue Fescue I want to plant (Festuca ovina glauca) is called "Elijah Blue," which I can only assume is a tribute to Cher's son with Gregg Allman.

Elijah Blue

Elijah Blue

I'm super-psyched about everything I bought, especially the soy bean (edamame) plant. Edamame is such a treat and so expensive at the store.  Also super-psyched on three new strawberry plants that promise to bear fruit all summer. My strawberry experiment has been a rousing success so far, aside from the Aggravated Assault Incident, and I am now eager to live a full-blown Strawberry Lifestyle. I feel it is my destiny.

Ever so much more soon,


Friday, April 18, 2008

Happy Friday!

Sorry for not writing this week. I have a lot of garden news to share, mainly concerning the very fun activity of Planning My Summer Edible Garden Wonderland.

I attended a workshop at Homegrown on how to plan a series of raised beds for flowers and edibles. The main exciting thing was learning that I can use straight compost instead of soil, and skip buying soil by the bag at Home Depot for four thousand dollars. Marta, the woman who runs Homegrown, gave us a source for some truly badass compost you buy by the trash bag.

Marta also said it's perfectly fine, and even preferable, to hand-water rather than install a drip system. This was also a huge relief, as I love hand-watering and am not keen on spending a whole weekend attaching tiny tubes to tiny clips and whatnot.

What was a little troubling was that apparently the soaker hoses I've been using--those black ones made out of old tires--are not food safe. Oops!

Most of all, I loved spending time with some other garden geeks in a beautiful backyard in Mount Washington, one of L.A.'s more magical neighborhoods. 


Monday, April 14, 2008

"I am so tall today!"

Thanks to my wonderful father Dan, a.k.a. Daddy Spice, for this poem. He sent it to me today because he is awesome.  

God Says Yes To Me
by Kaylin Haught

I asked God if it was okay to be melodramatic
and she said yes
I asked her if it was okay to be short
and she said it sure is
I asked her if I could wear nail polish
or not wear nail polish
and she said honey
she calls me that sometimes
she said you can do just exactly 
what you want to
Thanks God I said
And is it even okay if I don't paragraph
my letters
Sweetcakes God said
who knows where she picked that up
what I'm telling you is
Yes Yes Yes

Friday, April 11, 2008

Happy Friday!

Purple hats are so in.

Ah, dears:

The good news is that I finished my taxes today. As a reward, I am hoping/planning to attend two workshops tomorrow on organic kitchen gardening. These are my rewards for a tough week of Taking Care of Bidness. 

The other exciting thing is that it's getting on time for Tomato Time. Plus, Sweet Pepper Time. 

I ate my first homegrown radish the other day. It was sweet and meaty, sorta. It had a kind of backbone of flavor that normal radishes from the store don't have. It was a radish for people who think they don't like radishes. It was an "Easter Egg" variety. Will take pics soon.

Must walk Sir Toby before sun sets.

Go Dodgers!


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Plant Prejudice

IF YOU ARE are a plant person, I expect you will nod in empathy with what I am about to say. If you are not a plant person, perhaps this will help you to better understand how it feels to be a plant person.

I'm talking about Plant Prejudice.

The plant world is divided into different types of plants. And while all these are created equal, they are certainly not equal in the eyes of gardeners.  You see, the world of gardeners is also divided into types. 

Let me put this into Rock terms, if that makes it easier. We all know rock fans may be roughly divided into two general categories:  Beatle people and Stones people. 

These rough categorizations express an aesthetic, spiritual and even philosophical dichotomy. Some argumentative types might also add in the Velvet Underground to form a trichotomy. That's OK.

The point is, likewise, plants may be roughly divided into two major categories: Monocots and Dicots.

Monocots are things like palm trees, various waxy tropical buddies, lots of weird plastic-looking houseplanty things, and so forth. They often have no flowers worth mentioning; or else they have flowers with no fragrance. For example, take the excellently named Beer Plant, a.k.a. Cast Iron Plant, a.k.a. Aspidistra elatior, which is said to be so hardy, it can live in a dorm room closet on a regular diet of beer.

Despite its party-hardy constitution, I hate Cast Iron plants. Their flower is one of the only legitimately ugly flowers I have ever seen in my whole goddamn life. 

"Dude. I'm soooo wasted."

Believe me, this photo is unbelievably flattering. 

Dicots are things like roses, gardenias, all kinds of fragrant herbs and shrubs and veggies; wonderful Mediterranean plants and all kinds of trees. 

My badass first horticulture teacher, the Esteemed Dave Lannom, is a hardcore Monocot Person. He is known in the world as "the Palm Man" due to his main obsession. As he puts it in his typical deadpan, "I have a little thing for palms." But the truth is, he is obsessed, and he can't help it. Therefore, I can't blame him.

I believe that plant people are born with certain predilections which they can't really control. 

Myself, I am a dicot person. I discovered this while taking Dave's Horticultural Science class last fall. I love European plants and cottage gardens, and I can't help it. I need flowers that smell good. I need Italian tonic and culinary herbs. I need gardenias. Most of all, forever and ever, I need Lavender.

"Get with the program, people. The Lavender program."

Granted, I do love lilies, which are monocots. But I feel that lilies are only monocots in biology; in spirit and every other important sense, they are dicots.

"Now," you ask. "What differentiates the two?"

What a great question.

The main thing is really weird. I mean, it's a really tiny difference on which to base two entire regions of the plant kingdom. But whatever.

When a monocot is a little tiny baby plant, and it grows its very first seedling leaves, it only grows one single leaf. 

A baby dicot grows two.

That's it.

But then what's really cool is that this one tiny difference grows to become many bigger differences, involving the way their veins look, the ways their roots grow, all sorts of major things.

And then there are the Velvet Underground conifers, which are neither monocots nor dicots, but something quite unique (or wholly derivative, depending on your perspective).

They think they are So Cool.

Anyway, I am very ecstatic to be  Dicot Person, now and always. This picture, of a beautiful fragrant gardenia, tells you why.

"The whole world smells of love, it seems."

My mother, Faith — my first gardening hero — is an absolutely incredible woman. She also wrote a wonderful novel called Gardenias. This is purely coincidental. 

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Rock & Roll Love Letter

Drink a beer and listen to my fun radio show today at 4 pm PST at

Or 4:30...

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The Frogs of Spring



Monday, March 31, 2008

You Have Our Permission

THIS WEEK, YOU SHOULD PROBABLY PLAY HOOKY. I mean, if that's something you've been considering. This week, Spring is happening so fast, you need to be out there with your mouth open and your tongue sticking out to catch the falling Spring sunrays, or you might miss them.

If you need permission, I'm happy to provide that. Sloopy the Peach Tree (above) is also happy to provide any necessary encouragement or signing of permission slips. So is Franz the Gnome.


This week is going to be Garden Week. I'm going to behave like a proper Serious gardener, and work, and work, and weed, and clear, and clean, and be rad. 

Friday, March 28, 2008

Good Friday

"We make music with our trumpets, but you must listen with your nose."

I HAVE A MIDTERM tomorrow, so this shall be just a short salute to a couple of the best things they got goin' these days: flowers and puppies.

Above is Brugmansia 'Charles Grimaldi.' Below is Dogyus sleepyus.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Treat Her Like a Ladybug.

What more could we possibly ask of a bug but to be cute, nice, not bite, and have a song? 

Nothing. But still, Ladybugs give us more

Ladybugs also eat bad bugs that hurt our garden, like aphids.

In conclusion, Ladybugs are tops.

Only thing about ladybugs: They look bad when they're babies and teenagers. You think you went through an awkward stage in junior high? Imagine looking like a teenage ladybug.

I told you they look bad.

I have killed them before in ignorance. I assumed something that ugly must be bad. That's usually how it seems to work in the garden. (See: white grubs, mealybugs, scale et al.)

Now I know better. This morning while weeding I discovered a bunch of them on the weeds I was pulling, so I had to leave them be. I need these guys. Teen ladybugs eat more aphids than adults.

Like junior high kids, these ladybugs were at all different stages of transformation. Some looked like children, some had really bad taste in music, and some seemed completely lost in their own unknowable world of metamorphosis.

Some were "awkward in-between."

Some looked almost completely grown-up.

Some looked like straight-up badasses. 

To all of them, I say:

PS: I will be playing music today at 4 pm Pacific Time on!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Ask A Bee.

YOU KNOW the Onion column "Ask A Bee"? 

It's concept comedy that always brings a smile. Not that you can actually read the whole thing more than once. 

Staring at a bee in my lavender, I often get to thinking about the nature of "free will."

No, seriously.

A bee, much like the advice columnist for the Onion, seems strictly programmed for certain behaviors — so strictly programmed, you might say the bee has a bit of a one-track mind.

Ask A Bee about your ungrateful grandchildren, and he answers, Enable protocol "seek POLLEN"/Must harvest POLLEN for HIVE.

Yet if you ever sit in your garden and really just watch an individual bee on a lavender plant, you will start to notice how its tiny legs navigate the awkward surfaces of the blossoms, and its tiny feet struggle to find stability. You will notice how it must react kinetically to an infinite variety of circumstances. The bee is no drone!

The bee simultaneously does and does not have free will.

To bee, or not to bee? 

What about c)Both?

Sitting in a garden, watching a bee, or watching the birds gathering twigs and string and fluff for their nests now, or even watching plants grow, the whole notion of Free Will starts to sound fundamentally Who Cares. 

Maybe the garden and all of its inhabitants, from the bee to me, are programmed for certain behaviors. Yet look how free and beautiful they are!

"Considering our beauty and fragrance, we feel we deserve a better name than Common Stock. Your attention to this matter is greatly appreciated." 

I'm not talking politics. I'm just talking flowers.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Eat flowers.

"Dig my rustic beauty, man."

MORE SECRET DISNEYLAND information: Most of the plants in Tomorrowland are edible. 

As with every nuance of Disneyland's design, there is a unified field theory behind this. 

My teacher, who worked at Disneyland for seven years in the horticulture department, explained it to me briefly. It has something to do with the idea that in the future, overcrowding will force us to eat our gardens. Type of deal. 

Tell you what: Considering the newly outrageous price of groceries/gas, I think Tomorrow may have arrived early. Last fall, I planted my first edible "raised bed" — four boards screwed together to form a box — just for fun. Now I find it is saving me money and trips to Vons!

I didn't really know what I was planting, so it's been a series of surprises.

Maybe the biggest surprise regards broccoli: Guess what? Broccoli does not smell bad at all if you eat it fresh. It takes several days in the fridge to develop that stenchy situation.

I also discovered that Romaine lettuce grows flowers if you let it! Incredible!

My fave-rave is the arugula. And guess what: The buds and flowers, which are almost crunchy, are the sweetest part. I sprinkled them on a baked yam, and it was very yummers. I don't know why arugula buds aren't sold with the greens. It's the coolest feeling in the world to eat a flower. Even cooler to enjoy it. I mean, lots of flowers are edible, but not really fun to eat. 

"the thing perhaps is to eat flowers and not to be afraid"

Another surprise is a certain unidentified plant which tastes like a much spicier arugula, with tiny yellow flowers. It might be wild arugula. I adore it. It is also now growing as a weed all over my yard.

It's funny: Sometimes the only difference between a weed and an herb is whether it's growing inside or outside the box.

"I been weeding/for a girl like you..."

Friday, March 21, 2008

A Strawberry Is Born

So, guess what: I made a strawberry!

And double guess what: I picked it too soon. I bet that's a common mistake with first-time berry people. But it was so cute and fucked-up and shrimpy. I couldn't resist.

Action shot:

I nibbled the strawberry a tiny bit, and it was tangy, not sweet. 

Still, it was my Very First Strawberry Ever. It seemed too special for me to just eat it myself. So I went over to see if the Gnome wanted it. 

The Gnome became hypnotized. So I decided to give it to Sir Toby, who will eat anything, and who really deserved the honor more than any of us.


My strawberry had a short life and a happy ending.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Disneyland Pansies.

"You may call us pansies; we will not be offended in the least."

The pansies, a.k.a. Viola x wittrockiana, are in crazy bloom at Disneyland. I thought you should know.