Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Mayhem with Malcolm!

By now, anyone who has the slightest interest in popular culture, knows that Malcolm Mclaren passed away on the 8th of April.

Malcolm was the iconoclastic force that shaped punk rock, and bands like The Sex Pistols with the likes of Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious.

In the late 60's Malcolm encouraged his then girlfriend, Vivienne Westwood to give up teaching and learn to sew. Together they opened up Let it rock! which soon became Sex, inspired by the bondage elements in punk rock fashion. The store went through several more incarnations before closing down in the mid 70's.

When Vivienne fell pregnant, Malcolm gave her money for an abortion but she spent it on a cashmere jersey instead! Their son Joseph Corre, creator of Agent Provocateur Lingerie, is the happy result of that decision.

Joseph has asked all those who remember Malcolm fondly, to observe a minute of mayhem at 12h 00 on the 22nd April.

I love that idea.

What kind of minute would you choose, to honour your own departure from this mortal coil?

A minute of dark chocolate melting on the tongue.

60 seconds in a hot bath. Several marvelous bounces on a trampoline. A quiet slow submerging in a mountain stream.

Much better then silence...

Come Thursday 12h 00 a.m, I'll be behaving badly with the rest of them!

xxx elle

Monday, April 19, 2010

To paint the portrait of a bird,

First paint a cage
with an open door
then paint
something pretty
something simple
something beautiful,
something useful
for the bird.
then place the canvas against a tree
in a garden
in a wood
or in a forest
hide behind the tree
without speaking
without moving...
Sometimes the bird comes quickly
but he can just as well spend long years
before deciding
don't get discouraged
wait years if necessary
the swiftness or slowness of the
coming of the bird having no rapport
with the success of the picture
when the bird comes
if he comes
observe the most profound silence
wait till the bird enters the cage
and when he has entered
gently close the door with a brush
paint out all the bars one by one
taking care not to touch any of the feathers of the bird
Then paint the portrait of the tree
choosing the most beautiful of its branches
for the bird
paint also the green foilage and the wind's freshness
the dust of the sun
and the noise of the insects in the summer heat
and then wait for the bird to decide to sing
if the bird doesn't sing
it's a bad sign
a sign that the painting is bad
but if he sings it's a good sign
a sign that you can sign
so then so gently you pull out
one of the feathers of the bird
and sign your name in a corner of the picture.

Jacques Prevert

(translated by Lawrence Ferlinghetti)

xxx elle

It's not complicated

During the conflict in Gaza, my daughter Skye showed me a letter, written on behalf of those Jews who felt uncomfortable with some of the official statements, released by the Chief Rabbinate in explanation of events unfolding in Israel.

We decided to sign the letter, which suggested that as a diverse community, there were Jews willing to offer a different voice to the broadly sterile, uniformity of the official one. We signed, believing that we would be adding our names to a list of thousands.

Instead, only a few dozen signatures were collected, and our names appeared on it, in the newspaper, very visible to all.

In synagogue, one Shabbas a congregant refused to shake Mr Nielson better know as Sid's hand, admonishing him with, "Can't you control your wife and daughter?". It took a while for Mr Nielson to understand what he was talking about!

Such is the power of the collective.

It's hard to criticize Israel. Hard to do so, knowing that there are so many groups with a different, sinister agenda willing do that for you;vociferously and with prejudice.

It feels like a betrayal.

An unfaithfulness.

But being Jewish, means holding yourself accountable. It means being true to the values of the Torah, it means being a light...

And sometimes it means speaking your truth, even when it is uncomfortable, and unpopular to do so.

When Judge Goldstone agreed to lead the enquiry into human rights abuse during the Gaza conflict, he made an error in judgement. It was expedient for the United Nations to make use of a Jew, to increase the credibility of their report.

War is ugly.

It is always the underbelly.
Even with the best of intentions, shameful acts will occur. It is the nature of the beast. But holding Jews up to a different standard then other nations is what makes the report questionable. Where is the indictment against the atrocities of conflict in Africa, Asia and the Middle East?

If the Jew is to be the Light, then the darkness needed to extinguish it, must be relentless.

And it is...

This makes our efforts to spread our Light all the more urgent, and necessary.

When the Zionist Federation threatened to protest, outside the synagogue where Judge Goldstone's grandson is to perform his bar Mitzvah next Shabbas, that Light was dimmed.

When the Chief Rabbi, endorsed the suggestion that Judge Goldstone not attend the bar Mitzvah to prevent disruption of this sacred rite of passage, he dimmed that light further...

It's not complicated.

There is a way to be in the Light.

This is not it.

xxx elle

Sunday, April 18, 2010

'Hop in KId!'

It was early morning, and I was on my way home from dropping my boy, Steele off at school, when I saw her standing outside the local cafe.

Looking pretty as always, as she stood on the sidewalk, it seemed perfect timing for me to pull up next to the curb, roll down the window and say, 'Hop in, kid!'

And she did.

'Come' I said, 'I'll give you a lift to your car.'

We only had to turn the corner, and we were there.

And so we sat talking, in the parked car, with the bustle of the neighborhood around us. And there was a lot that my friend needed to talk about. So much that needed to be said. Needed to be heard.

Pain that had been spilling out of her on the sidewalk, found a refuge in my car.

All I had to do was listen. Hear. Care...

And then she was gone, and I went on to claim the day.

Later, my friend sent me a message. 'Thank you for stopping today', she wrote. 'G-d sent you. You are my angel.'

The universe is full of synchronicity.

When it happens for you, I hope that you notice and give thanks...

xxx elle

ashes to ashes

The world was moved this week by the images of thousands of mourners in Warsaw, who had gathered to pay homage to those who lost their lives in a tragic presidential plane crash, that took place in Russia last Saturday.

As the names of those who perished were read out one by one, and as their faces were shown on the wall of remembrance erected in their honour, I could not help thinking of the many who had been buried in Polish soil, with much less ceremony.

The billowing clouds of volcanic ash that have shrouded Europe this past week, are for me a strange and ironic reminder of the Warsaw Ghetto, and of Auschwitz-Birkenau. How long I wondered, would it take to show the faces, and read the names of the millions that died there.

There are of course, many memorials to those who lost their lives in the Holocaust but few can be as poignant, as the one in the forests of Plunge, a small town in Lithuania.
Jacob Bunka, who is the last remaining Jew in the little town, carved these beautiful works out of cedar wood, in memory of the many thousands of his community who were murdered there during the Holocaust.

Of the almost 2300 Jews who remained in Plunge after 1941, only 6 survived.

In the quiet of the forest, with the dappled light and bird song, they are a glorious testimony to the human spirit...

xxx elle

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Rock a bye Baby

Mr Nielson better known as Sid, spent a long time in the old oak tree in our garden one summer, hammering away at his idea of a tree house.

Eventually I was invited up to see the beauty of his handiwork, only to discover that even in a tree, I don't feel altogether comfortable more then a few feet up, above the ground.

I was never seen in Mr Nielson's treehouse again.

And no-one else was allowed up there either, until Mr Nielson better known as Sid had put a little fencing up, to protect the small visitors who frequent its dizzy heights!

Still, I can't stop loving the idea of a treehouse. Not the higgledy piggledy, wall-less wander that is Mr Nielson's, but something more closely resembling one of these little beauties.

Bruce Attwood, who was once married to the extraordinary artist Judith Mason, has built a little villiage of them on his farm in the Natal midlands, and best of all he hires them out to tree lovers from all over. The one below is an example of their charm and romance...
I feel sure that I could manage a few days holed up in one of these darlings. Give me a few books, a pot of tea and my very own treehouse builder, that is Mr Nielson, and I'd feel dizzy for all the right reasons! Of course.

xxx elle

With new eyes...

Mr Nielson better known as Sid, always encourages me to look very closely at my shadow.

'Shadow' is central to The Mankind Project philosophy, and nary a day goes by when one is not made conscious of the play of shadow in a world deserving of more Light. We learn from shadow, it is our teacher.

Oftentimes I come upon Muslim ladies dressed in their black Burka's, peering from a thin slit out into the world. Amidst the colourful diversity of women surrounding them, they appear grim and menacing to my prejudiced eye. Magazines hint at the expensive lingerie worn under their protective facade, and tales are told of the designer clothes worn in the privacy of their homes.

The truth is, I find them vaguely disturbing. There is something about a persons eyes, and the open page of their face that feels honest and necessary. I confess to sometimes staring at them with a hint of hostility, and obvious disapproval.

Sometimes, when I am in my Light, I see them in the fullness of their humanity.

That is why I love these photos...
Aren't they Beautiful.

They are full of Light!

xxx elle