Bread and Roses

On the entrance arbor at the bottom of the steps that lead to our house I thought it would be nice to plant some climbing roses to add to the general fuddy-duddyness that is our 1920s bungalow. Our two climbing roses have survived neglect for many years now and put on a nice show for most of the year.

While I’m sure there are many more worthy and interesting heirloom climbing roses one can hunt down we went with two boring varieties. One is an Iceberg climbing rose that Kelly calls the “gas station rose” for its ubiquity. The other is a lot more interesting, a Don Juan climbing rose.

The Don Juan has a strong scent, a rare quality in a climbing rose. Plus the people like our Don Juan. This week I’ve seen folks Instagraming it and de-masking to smell the blossoms (hope we’re not a horticultural super-spreader event here). While our Don Juan is conventionally attractive in a red rose sorta way, the scent is the winning trait. I’d describe it as what you might imagine a perfect rose to smell like in a pleasant dream.

The Don Juan rose was introduced in 1958 by Italian rose breeder Michele Malandrone. It requires 6 to 8 hours of sunlight and grows to the manageable size of 10 to 12 feet. We’ve been more diligent in pruning in the past year to keep it tidy on the arbor.

The main problem with roses, in my opinion, is that at some times of the year the leaves are just frankly, uninteresting. As I noted I’m no rose expert, so I’d appreciate your opinions about ways to make our roses more healthy and vigorous. The soil they are planted in leaves a lot to be desired and I’m very confused about watering needs. I’m also open to suggestions from readers about interesting rose varieties either climbing or bush.

Saturday Linkages: Can’t Stop the Memes

Turn Off Your Mind, Relax—and Float Right-Wing?

Chairman Mao Invented Traditional Chinese Medicine

“Cocaine of the sea” — the illegal fish trade of the Mexican cartel and Chinese mafia

Meaty meals and play stop cats killing wildlife, study finds

NeoPixel Ancient Oil Lamp

Kelly Norris on New Naturalism and Informed Plant Choices

Grow Your Own Giant Sequoia Tree

I love lava

I Can’t Get Adam Curtis Out of My Head

Could it be that this entire multi-thousand post blog, with all those canning, bread making, gardening, squirrel complaining ramblings are just an excuse for those few times I get to implore readers to watch the latest Adam Curtis documentary?

Methinks yes and so I must note that a new Curtis just dropped on the BBC yesterday. “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” is Curtis at his most sprawling and complex. We watched the first episode last night which covers, among other topics, British colonialism in Kenya, the Discoridian connection to the Kennedy assassination, anti-immigrant movements, artificial intelligence, a messy celebrity divorce and . . . the Bavarian Illuminati.

I can think of only a handful of other thoughtstylists who have helped guide me through these confusing times (Mark Fisher, Cornel West and Slavoj Žižek come to mind). More than any other period in my 55 years, at this particular point I think it’s important to look at the ideologies that change the way we perceive things. Curtis is a master at revealing what’s hidden in plain sight.

Perhaps the hidden message of all the posts on this blog is summed up in a quote from the late David Graeber that Curtis uses at the beginning of episode 1, “The ultimate hidden truth of the world is that it is something we make. And could just as easily make differently.”

Can’t Get You Out of My Head is streaming for free on the BBC. To watch it you’ll need to live in the U.K. or use a VPN to get around the regional blocking. You can also search on YouTube. Curtisheads post episodes which appear for awhile before the BBC takes them down. Just Google and you’ll find it. Here’s the last: Hypernormalization.

A Beautiful Evening

Many thanks to Silver Lake comrade Brother Lee for tipping me off to one of his busy neighbors, saxophonist Pat Posey. I’m posting Posey’s improvisational version of Debussy’s Beau Soir because it deserves way more views. The visuals also perfectly sum up a typical evening in Los Angeles under the rat infested palms and circling police helicopters.

Earlier in the pandemic Posey used seven different saxophones ranging from the baritone to a sopranino to record Ravel’s Bolero all by himself. Let that sink in.

In spite of my comfortable and privileged position during this pandemic I’ve found it hard to access the muses. I’m okay with that but I really respect the creativity of people like Posey who have made the best of a bad situation.

Saturday Linkages: The week I discovered the honey buzzard

Make your own Bayeux tapestry memes

Ladies and gentleman, the Oriental Honey Buzzard

What does a cup of flour weight? It’s surprisingly complicated

Obrigado, Internet.

‘A managerial Mephistopheles’: inside the mind of Jeff Bezos

Cactus smuggler sentenced for importing illegal plants

La-la land: the playful side of Los Angeles – in pictures

The McMansion Hell Yearbook: 1978