I Heart Sonoma; The Great Animal Orchestra; LA FIGA
How to Live & Drink in Wine Country
By Daedalus Howell
In the Court of St. James, ambassadors are addressed as “Your Excellency.”
In the Court of Sonoma, just plain “Dude” will do. Or perhaps, “Your Dudency.”
Keep that in mind if you happen to encounter Daedalus Howell roaming the Plaza, a Reidel Vinum Extreme—sloshing shiraz—in one hand, a brown paper bag in the other.
Howell is a member of the diplomatic corps, having been hired and named Sonoma County’s Lifestyle Ambassador (by whom isn’t always clear), and he works as hard as any man we know to fulfill the expectations raised by his title and rank.
Howell is connoisseur of both wine and words, the latter he mines from ancient mythology (witness his appropriated name), from pop culture and from all the literary crevices in between.
Comb through the anthology of columns he has collected under the title, I Heart Sonoma: How to Live & Drink in Wine Country, and you’ll find terms 99 out of 100 people don’t use, can’t spell and wouldn’t understand. Words like vicissitudes, louche, dosh, epistolary, profundant (a Daedalian neologism not found in the OED—yet), de Coeur, anandamide, quotidian, antediluvian and schvitz.
All were gleaned from a quick pass through the book, most of which we had already read because we published most of the content. If you’ve missed any of Howell’s brilliantly self-deprecating, wine-soaked columns, or simply want to find them all under one roof, buy the book. And if you see him on the street, try “Your Dudency.” Maybe it will kick-start another column.
- David Bolling
Finding the origins of music in the world’s wild places
By Bernie Krause
There is a New Yorker cartoon showing a middle-aged couple in Adirondack chairs on a manicured lawn. The text reads, “Darling, will you see if they can give us better nature sounds?”
We have long understood that most animals—take for instance dogs—occupy an entirely different acoustic reality than humans. The aural range of most canines is about an octave-and-a-half above people’s, and bats’ hearing extends way beyond that. They hear a world we don’t even know exists.
Now, it turns out, for largely social, cultural, industrial and perhaps political reasons, human civilization has grown nearly deaf to the natural world. Not only do we not hear well compared to other creatures, but we’ve long since stopped listening.
Enter Bernie Krause, the Glen Ellen musician, naturalist, and soundscape pioneer who, with this new book, lays bare the acoustic topography of the planet and the orchestral harmonies—and disharmonies—of what he calls the biophony, the biological voices of the ambient soundscape.
Krause, a former professional musician and one of the progenitors of the electronic synthesizer, has devoted more than 30 years to recording the natural world and now has 4,500 hours of soundscapes, about half of which, he says, have already been silenced or dramatically diminished since his recordings.
He describes the sudden forest stillness that follows passage of overhead jets and helicopters and, more sobering, reports on the radically silenced sound levels in a selectively logged forest, in which only scattered trees were removed.
This may be one of the most profoundly important books that most people will never read. According to Krause, human civilization is in danger of lowering the volume on natural sound until all that’s left is a whisper.
It is beautifully written, compelling, a book that demands to be read.
Find TheGreatAnimalOrchestra on Facebook for sound bites of Krause’s recordings.
- David Bolling
Visions of Food and Form
By Chef Tiberio Simone, Photos Matt Freedman
In the end, says James Beard Award-winning chef and self-described “pleasure activist” Tiberio Simone, “There are two things you must remember: Eat well and make love.”
Simone’s credo is captured in this stunning celebration of food and bodies in intimate juxtaposition, chronicled by Seattle photographer Matt Freedman, who’s other most familiar focus has been Burning Man.
Together the two explore the relationship between food, sensuality, and sex, reflecting Simone’s post-adolescent discovery that “the perfect diet—the perfect existence—includes food and touch. Food nourishes the body from the inside out, and sex feeds it from the outside in.”
This exploration combines Freedman’s gorgeous images with Simone’s recipes and his reflections on food, flirting, touching, love and lust. Simone is Italian and some of what he suggests, in the essays interspersed between the art, is to our ears a little off the wall.
“Because I have become so fluent with food, I use those skills and senses to learn about people too, and I often do that by touching or smelling them, or both.”
Simone says he only pursues this canine strategy with permission, insisting, “While this approach might sound silly, it actually works very well. If you decide to try it, you’ll be amazed by how many people accept such a request.”
It helps, we suppose, to be Italian.
Whatever the impulse behind the art, the result is visually stunning and socially bold. Simone has presented his food/art sculptures at countless public and private events around the Northwest, even delivering his message to a TEDX conference, and he is open to “custom” La Figa photo shoots.
The recipes in the book are innovative and enticing, the essays interesting and honest, but the photos are out of the park.
We see here a woman’s body coated with 1,500 cucumber slices; another, delicately decorated with glittering pearls of pomegranate; another wrapped in seaweed. Ripe raspberries cover the curve of a naked hip; an aging woman is lavished with layers of thinly sliced orange; another woman is shown bathing in a tub of cranberries; the coffee-colored skin of an African-American man is patterned with thin slivers of contrasting avocado.
From fruit-to-fruit, vegetable-to-vegetable—on body after body—Simone reflects on the flavors, smells, and sensual sensations of food.
And, he explains, La Figa—the name of the book and of his catering business—is not only a twist on the Italian word for fig (la fica) but a popular Italian expression of male adoration for women and slang for “vagina.”
“In my opinion,” concludes the very Italian Simone, “bella figa is the highest compliment a man can give a woman.”
- David Bolling
From the 2012 summer issue of SONOMA
Visions of Food and Form