Trick-or-Treat, a blood red Halloween

Coming back from Europe, reality hit me with the softness of barbed wire! The U.S. is paralyzed with fear and uncertainty and the world is watching in horror the rapid meltdown of greedy and extreme American Capitalism—of the unregulated kind thanks to Reagan.

Trick-or-Treat halloween red shoes michele roohani

These are hard times and people can’t “go to the mall” anymore like their president suggested a few years back but Sarah Palin sure did with her shopping tag of $150,000—read Dowd’s interesting column here. Remember Obama’s tattered shoes?

obama tattered shoes micheleroohani

Watch out  for the trick…People have been affected by the real estate massacre and there is blood on the streets everywhere— massive layoffs have not started yet. This cartoon of Ed Stein is funny and sad at the same time:

ed stein halloween cartoon michele roohani

I don’t know about you but I prefer my autumn in its original colors of yellow/orange and the Halloween sweet and funny. If you miss my jack-o-lanterns click on my last year’s Halloween post.

pumpkin flowers fall michele roohani

I couldn’t resist including my picture of this classic Morgan—it has the perfect colors.

michele roohani morgan british sports car interior

Exploration of the unknown requires tolerating uncertainty. I hope that the elections bring some degree of order and certitude; chaos scares the hell out of me.

Paris got lost in the debates, the bailout and Paul Newman

These are scary times and as much as I wanted to, I couldn’t bring myself into making a light post about the beauties of the old world…

eiffel tower paris michele roohani

I watched the debates in awe, witnessed the bickering over the financial bailout with disbelief and then Paul Newman died and I had the Paris Blues… Watch this magnificent trailer of Newman and Sidney Poitier in Paris of the 60’s.

paul newman dies michele roohani

Did anybody looked cooler than this guy? Beautiful man with a more beautiful heart. Smoking killed him.

Paris remains splendid in spite of all the bad news I have been getting from home—a walk through Place des Vosges at night washed away some of that.

place des vosges at night stop sign michele roohani

The infernal crowds finally went home and left Isle Saint Louis in peace:

brasserie isle saint louis michele roohani

The best remedy— albeit temporary —for the blues is a visit to the Patisserie. Just looking at them can send you to the hospital…

dalloyau strawberry cakes michele roohani

I am not a chocolate or a strawberry person but I would kill for a Religieuse Café!

dalloyau religieuse cafe chocolate michele roohani

Window watching is a pleasure in this “walking city”,

red chandelier michele roohani

Nobody has the money to buy any of these overpriced un-necessities anymore.

prada avenue montaigne prada bag michele roohani

United States is trying to absolve itself from its sins and Europe will follow…

prada shoes michele roohani

This one reminds me of the “poustines” we were wearing as kids back home:

window fur coat with dogs michele roohani

Beautiful Mansard roofs are breathtaking:

mansard rooftops paris michele roohani

but not enough to make me forget this:

drilling sarah palin

Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe. Einstein

Dog eat Dog

It seems we can’t get away from the lipstick, the pit bull and the dog eat dog atmosphere of the circus of American presidential elections! To ease the general anxiety here are some pictures of real dogs and cats.

red leash dog michele roohani

Dogs are hot these days—many people prefer them to having children. They say when you get a dog you are buying yourself a tragedy…

hound dog michele roohani

Man’s best friend,

dog in a phone booth michele roohani

this image will give nightmares to mullahs: a dog on a persian rug!

amber dog persina rug michele roohani

I am not a cat person – I had to look hard in my archives to find these two pictures.

cat on man’s back reading michele roohani

Funny background:

cat with doggy curtain michele roohani

If I had a choice I would have loved to have a beagle like this one who will always be my favorite dog or a border collie. Maybe in another life…

chuck brown snoopy michele roohani peanuts

“Dogs come when they’re called; cats take a message and get back to you later.” Mary Bly

Kertész and me: “on reading”

I am a bibliophile and not ashamed to admit it! I love good books, and as much as I read online, paper and ink remain sacred to me. My love for books is thanks to my father’s great library of classics.

burnt old books los angeles library michele roohani

I went to the Los Angeles Central Library looking for some books and I couldn’t resist taking these pictures and sharing them with you. This library burnt in 1986—something about burning books fills me up with utter sadness and an enormous sense of loss (remember Fahrenheit 451?)

To see the most beautiful libraries of the world visit this site. We need these in a world where “print” increasingly resembles an endangered species.

burnt old books los angeles library michele roohani ribboned box

The books that were somewhat burnt yet still salvageable are so fragile that they have to be kept in special boxes. You can still see the black soot on them:

burnt old books los angeles library michele roohani black soot triolet

You can’t check out the more damaged ones because of their fragility like this one:

burnt old books los angeles library michele roohani ziska

The good news is that there are thousands of wonderful and “healthy” books in this library and the reading rooms are very pleasant.

reading room books los angeles library michele roohani

This is one book I have promised myself to read one day:

gibbon roman empire los angeles library michele roohani

But who has the courage to even contemplate these ones:

zola los angeles library michele roohani

André Kertész‘s newly reissued photo essay On Reading,  features 66 images, taken between 1915 and 1970, of people enraptured by print.

kertesz michele roohani man reading with a cat

“Kertész’s images celebrate the power and pleasure of this solitary activity and capture the deeply personal, yet universal moment of reading. This poetic book that has long been out of print is even more compelling today in a world where “print” increasingly resembles an endangered species.”

kertesz michele roohani woman reading

Even if Jeff Gomez argues that we are at a Gutenbergian moment, in which writers, publishers and readers must make the jump from paper to the more fluid territory of the screen, I can’t imagine being without the smell and the feel of paper.

kertesz michele roohani child reading

I still print everything serious that I want to read because staring at my screen bothers my eyes.

kertesz michele roohani woman reading in subway

“Books won’t stay banned. They won’t burn. Ideas won’t go to jail. In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only sure weapon against bad ideas is better ideas.” Alfred Whitney

Kertész and me: “on reading”

Speaking of great photographers, I went to Melvin Sokolsky’s opening night last thursday at Fahey/Klein Gallery. I’ve had the privilege of  taking a “Master Class” at UCLA with him some years ago. His pictures have remained as fresh as the day he took them and unbruised by time.

melvin sokolsky michele roohani

A freaking heartbeat away from the Presidency

I woke up this morning with the news of Sarah Palin’s 17 year old unwed daughter being 5 months pregnant! I must be dreaming – this is the stuff bad Hollywood movies are made of: an evangelical, (almost) beauty queen of a small Alaskan town, with five children, a four year college degree in journalism, and  an anti-choice/anti-evolution/pro oil drilling agenda is going to be a heartbeat away from the presidency of the the United States of America! Only in Hollywood my friends…

sarah palin michele roohani

Do I look stupid to you people? Do we, as women, look so clueless to you republicans that you imagine us all  voting for a woman only because of her gender? This is as valid as me voting for Ahmadinejad for the sole reason that he’s born persian!

Palin went through with her fifth pregnancy knowing that her child will have Down Syndrome. I have a nephew with this problem and I know how heartbreaking it is for the parents and the siblings…To insist in bringing a child like this to the world is selfish and insane.

palin mccain michele roohani cartoon

Palin is an avid member of the NRA—Natonal Rifle Association—  which makes her the dream candidate for the republican ticket. She’s too damned young and inexperienced to be the vice president of this country. Read this article and this one to have some fun with this issue. Here are some interesting opinions about this whole affair.

palin thumbs up

Unless Obama (aka the Dark Knight) messes up really bad from here to November, I don’t see how he can lose…

obama mc cain polls

“At least two thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity, idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political idols.” Aldous Huxley

jim borgman palin

A week with Usain and Hussein and the digital divide

Usain and Hussein have been on my mind in the past week; the lightning Bolt—aka the fastest man alive—and Hussein Obama. I made this image for my son who wanted a poster of Obama using a photo by Callie Shell of Time magazine:

obama paradigm shift michele roohani

“A Paradigm Shift is  a change from one way of thinking to another. It’s a revolution, a transformation, a sort of metamorphosis. It just does not happen, but rather it is driven by agents of change” according to Thomas Kuhn; he believes that Change is difficult and that human beings resist change— awareness is prerequisite to all acceptable changes. A Paradigm Shift is when a significant change happens—usually from one fundamental view to a different view. In most cases, some type of major discontinuity occurs as well. Khun thinks that “a series of peaceful interludes punctuated by intellectually violent revolutions cause one conceptual world view to be replaced by another view”.

My question for you boys and girls is that what makes one cling to the atrophied McCain—aka the off-line American—over the uber-eager Obama? I didn’t vote for Obama in the primaries but neither can I  imagine voting for mister “I want to relive vietnam ad nauseum”…

obama blue red michele roohani double poster

What are these posters from the good senator’s camp? Martin Luther King, the second coming? I frankly like my version better.

Another paradigm shift came this last week of the Olympics with the other Hussein or Usain:

usain bolt huffington post michele roohani

What can I say? the man can run! Look at him here on cruise control going the 100 meters on 9.68 seconds; this guy with all his antics was a breath of fresh air.

Coffee from paradise

I had the best coffee in Los Angeles  last week at Caffé Luxxe. Following  a tip from the director of Coffee Quality Institute—aka the Cupper Gods—I experienced the joy of having a real espresso outside europe: “espresso should have a rich honey-like texture topped off with a velvety, dark red-brown “crema.” This is the sign of una bella tazza di espresso: a beautiful cup of espresso.”

Here is my first cappuccino:

caffe luxxe cappuccino michele roohani

I was so sick and tired of (at best mediocre and at worst just plain bad) coffee served in the chain stores. The horror in the eyes of my european friends  after receiving a bit of bitter coffee in the bottom of a big paper cup has always amused me! It looks like they are serving you what’s left from the previous customer…

caffe luxxe cappuccino michele roohani black and white

I went back this morning for an early cup and standing at the counter, Italian bar style, I read a horrifying article about Putin and Georgia (call me a masochist) and remembered all the problems I was trying to forget… The great coffee brought back the vanished smile to my face!

café  Huntley michele roohani santa monica view

They have a great Synesso machine and Yaniv, the talented barista creates these fabulous cups with panache! To see how, watch this short clip and if you have a better attention span (read more than 30 seconds) watch this one on the craft of making coffee art.

So is coffee good for us? An excellent article on the subject by Jane Brody in New York Times has some answers.

Finding a European style café that serves great espresso in Los Angeles can almost make one forget the world’s problems.  Now If you really want to be scared just look at this map from Le Monde Diplomatique.

balkan map le monde diplomatique michele roohani

How is that for a nightmare in the making? Not only we are not at the End of History  but people like Fukumaya should start paying attention to the latest conflict involving Russia!  You take Kosovo, we take Georgia and Moldova!! Be scared people, be very scared…

“I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma: but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interests.”  Winston Churchill

These are sobering times – now you know why I needed to find a good cup of joe.

The best cartoons I’ve seen lately

A great cartoon can make you want to laugh, cry, and think all at once. These are the best cartoons I’ve seen lately:

massoud ziaei cartoon michele roohani law and order

Massoud Ziaei’s works are little gems:

massoud ziaei cartoon michele roohani moon


massoud ziaei cartoon michele roohani red carpet airplane

and for the bibliophile:

massoud ziaei cartoon michele roohani books

The following are from this young cartoonist:

majid amini cartoon michele roohani signs

his humor is getting darker:

majid amini cartoon michele roohani soldiers

and darker:

majid amini cartoon michele roohani fish

I laughed a lot seeing this one from Hamid Bahrami right after the batman movie:

hamid bahrami cartoon batman loverboy

hamid bahrami cartoon batmanand family

I love his light/bright sense of humor:

hamid bahrami cartoon fig leaf michele roohani

There are some very sad cartoons:

razor heads

 the quiet gnawing pain of children of divorce.

divorce javad alizadeh michele roohani

After the great masters, Ardeshir Mohassess,

ardeshir mohassess michele roohani

and Kambiz Derambakhsh,

kambiz derambakhsh michele roohani cartoon

these young artists— mentioned earlier—bring in a sense of freshness. This is a very funny one called frustration from Randall Munroe:

randall munroe frustration

and one from the late Roger Blachon:

roger blachon sports michele roohani

and this from Roger Tetsu (passed away in 2008 like Blachon—bad year for cartoonists named Roger):

roger testsu michele roohani museum

and  last but not least, one from the great Sempé

sempé petites ballerines michele roohani

I found this fabulous Russian site that archives many cartoonists’ work; once you’re in, there is no coming out soon…

A desert garden in full bloom

The Desert Garden at the Huntington’s was in full bloom and I couldn’t resist sharing these beautiful images with you. First some gorgeous Echeveria succulents:

Succulent Echeveria michele roohani huntington desert garden

They have fleshy leaves with small delicate flowers like these:

Succulent Echeveria flowers michele roohani huntington desert garden

These are called black succulents and are truly magnificent:

black succulent michele roohani huntington desert garden

Agave (of the tequila fame) , Aloe and Cactus are all members of the succulent family—the cactus having more prickles than others. They are water-retaining plants. Just look at this gorgeous queen victoria agave:

Succulent queen victoria agave michele roohani huntington desert garden

and this pretty pink flower of another agave plant.

Succulent agave pink flower michele roohani huntington desert garden

This one had small blue and red blossoms.

Succulent agave blue and red flower michele roohani huntington desert garden

You all know this more common succulent: the creeping ice plant.

Succulent pink ice plant michele roohani huntington desert garden

This desert garden is nearly 100 years old and has more than 3,000 species of desert plants. Let’s go to the thorny cacti now; you don’t want to get lost on this road on a dark night!

golden barrel cactus michele roohani huntington desert garden

I loved these peach hued blossoms on this prickly pear cactus,

cactus peach blossoms huntington desert garden michele roohani

they turn yellow when they open.

cactus yellow blossoms huntington desert garden michele roohani

This is a more dramatic version of the same plant—it almost looked like under water coral…

wavy prickly pear cactii huntington desert garden michele roohani

Cactus is an oxymoron to me. How can a plant with fleshy leaves and prickles that repel you have such brilliant and intensely colored flowers? It rejects you and invites you at the same time…

prickly pear cactus yellow flower huntington desert garden michele roohani

A closer look,

prickly pear cactus yellow blossom huntington desert garden michele roohani

and the piece de resistance: the red flower cactus.

red cactus flower huntington desert garden michele roohani

This young gardener was busy the whole time that I was visiting the gardens.

straw hat huntington gardner michele roohani

Gardening requires lots of water – most of it in the form of perspiration.”  Lou Erickson

huntington library gardener michele roohani

The batman, the ratman and some other sordid adventures…

I saw the new Batman movie yesterday and I liked it a lot. Heath Ledger was great and knowing he’s passed away makes the role even more frightening…


The fact that this latest batman is not cracking jokes like George Clooney’s gay version—with Robin—makes it easier to imagine a darker villain for the story. Christopher Nolan (of the Memento fame) has done a great job in these two last movies about the comic book franchise.

keaton kilmer clooney bale batman michele roohani

Michael Keaton and Val Kilmer were good as the dark prince but Christian Bale remains the best of the crop and Clooney the absolute worst. He should really stick to his Cary Grant roles. Take a look at the different batmen here.

What I have always liked about Batman is that he’s not a super-hero with funny super powers like the Spiderman, the creepy  Superman or that idiot Hulk! I liked the Iron man for the same reason. The engineer in me cringes every time I have to watch a scientifically impossible film. Even though I am a serious Trekkie, I have never been a fan of the Star Wars. The whole mythology and mentor/princess/father/son bit turns me off. Dune has the same effect on me…

spock and kirk michele roohani

You don’t want to hear about my childhood crush on Mister Spock so I am going back to my ratman.  Last week I had to ask a rat-man to secure my house from an epidemic of rats in Brentwood/Bel Air area…Bats are not rodents by the way and are genetically closer to us humans.

“Fascinating is a word I use for the unexpected. In this case, I should think interesting would suffice.” Spock

Live long and prosper.

vulcan salute michele roohani