LIKE IT OR NOT

What do I love the most: the man, or his work? Hard to say. Start following my better-half’s facebook page and you will realize why that’s such a hard question for me to answer!

https://www.facebook.com/eugene.pierce.photographer

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We are MODPOnians

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MASSIVE.  The class had already started the week before. I had no background on the subjects that were being discussed, and an assignment was due in a couple of hours. But I mindlessly clicked the button and signed up for my first Coursera class. That morning, I had no idea of how massive of a step I was taking. I signed up to be part of an online class with tens of thousands of students. The exact number was something like 35.000 students. What was staggering was not how many people were doing something collectively online. Afterall, Facebook has trained us well on being one user in a billion. What was staggering was what tens of thousands of people, including now me, had chosen to do collectively online for 10 weeks. We had chosen to take a class on Modern & Contemporary American Poetry.

OPEN. The sense of belonging is not natural to me. I am an outsider. I think I will always feel inadequate. What could I possibly write about poetry? Who am I to talk about American Poetry? Could I even understand it? English is not my native tongue. But you can only underestimate the realm of universality that poetry belongs to for so long. By the end of the first week of classes, I got it. We all got it. Poetry is wide open. Wide open like beauty. And it had a world wide open space just for it. And from and through – forums, webcasts, assignments, peer reviews, twitter feeds, blogs, links – poetry was webbing itself. A World wide web.

ONLINE. You would think a Cousera class would be limited to a http:// address. But not this class. This class has an address. 3805 Locust Walk.  The Kelly Writers House, located on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania. Al Filreis welcomes all. Enrolls all. Teaches all. He circled himself with a select group of Teaching Assistants, wisely picked for their brilliance. And he generously shared the teaching gems he found with his student body. A physical student body that had nothing virtual about it. Because we came in herds from all walks of life, ages, nationalities, backgrounds. And we sat by their feet. And we listened to poetry. Read poetry. Discussed poetry. Proclaimed poetry. And we wrote poetry. Yes, we dared to.

COURSE.  You can call it Modern. Or Contemporary. Or American. Or Poetry. We call it MODPO. And we call ourselves MODPOnians. It is spread all over the web. Recorded for times to come. As proof of what is possible. Join us.

I was a proud pupil of Al Filreis during the class Modern & Contemporary American Poetry in the fall semester of 2013. And among my degrees, this certificate is one I will always hold dear to me. For more about this course and upcoming classes go to https://www.coursera.org/course/modernpoetry

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Miles apart

13-miles111“Are you ready?” – That is a question I have been asked a lot by those who learn I am running my first half-marathon this weekend. Even my mother is wondering, “Are you sure you can do this?”. And I’ll give you the same answer I gave her: “Mom, I have no idea!”

I know I probably didn’t get a “proper training”, because I simply can’t follow any rules. When I finished reading the book Running on Air for example, I put it down and hit the pavement. Between breathing and strides, I tried to apply all it’s detailed formula and somewhere during my run I lost track of it all. I came up with my own version of this technique, and managed to finished my first 13-mile run that afternoon. Sorry, Budd Coates your technique was a helpful start, but I couldn’t follow it all the way. Not surprising since I can’t even follow a cooking recipe, but somehow I always make it work.

When I am in the kitchen, I change ingredients; I mix different quantities; I add odd ingredients to everyday dishes like, cinnamon on rice, or cayenne pepper on oatmeal. I am as unpredictable in the kitchen, as I am in my runs. I know there is plenty of perfect equations with variables like carbs, electrolytes, pronated and supinated feet, orthotics, lactate threshold, taper….the list goes on. But when I schedule a run, things never go as planned. Days with perfect blue skies followed by GPS in synch, a blasting playlist, the new jacket that is just warm enough and a perfectly balanced evening meal, still might end as a battle against the asphalt in the morning. I try to follow all rules, but if my mind isn’t there, if my heart isn’t there, it just doesn’t happen. I don’t know how you do it, Pro athletes out there who must perform no matter what, when and where!

It’s the same when I’m photographing. I know the rule of thirds in composition. The four saddle points for subject placement that produces the most interesting and dynamic composition forcing the viewer to direct their eyes to the regions that follow the Golden Proportion scheme. Do I think about these rules even for one split second when I am looking through the viewfinder of my camera? Nup. That’s not how I function. All rules get lost somewhere in my brain, and I only follow what feels right. Which for me is something in between a tingling sensation in my belly, a longer inhalation and the skip of a heart beat. That’s when I know its time to push the shutter. And that’s when I know its time to push my body during a run.

And I know just as well, it is not by pounding the ground, puffing my lungs out or breaking my back, like some actually do, that I manage to finish a run. My almost fainting-breathless-self is proof. Instead, I have to go into a space inside my body where all I do is listen. The same space I had to find within myself during a 10-day-silent retreat I signed up for. Do you think running is hard? Try sitting meditation for 12 hours per day/ 10 days in a row. All I could do in that wanna-be-Budha-state was listen to my breath until I could hear my own heart beating. Only when I asked my body “What do you need?”, my hips found a way to melt into a lotus position and stay there without screaming. If I do the same while running, my body has infinite room to expand – there is more than enough air to take in and strides to push out. As long as I care to ask “What do you need?” like some magical running mantra, my body is willing to go the extra mile.

And you never know, there is always the possibility of coming across one of those mutating runs. Those mornings when I am tying my shoe laces as an I-don’t-want-to-do-this runner and finish as a gazelle-chased-by-lion one. In those runs, a sluggish-trotting-being takes over my body the entire first mile, yapping “turn around and walk home.” But if I only stop to ask: “What do you need?”, I can find myself lost in a blissful state by mile 2. In this runner’s high, my already big-mouth-smile doubles in size, and a 3-mile-run becomes 8. That’s because I am no longer running. I am dancing. Yes, sis. You are not the only one in the family that gets to do that. When I pay attention to my breath, align it with my heart, and synchronize it with my strides, a dance takes place.

I was always a quitter. One of those annoying whiny ones:  “It hurts. It’s too hard. I can’t do it.”. That was me at 13, running after my 11 volleyball teammates, the very last in line. So for the next 20 some years my “I can’t run” speech was legit. But the 13-year-old is now going on 40. In 3 months and 3 days to be exact. Mid life crises or not, I know the 13 and the 40-year-old are now miles apart. Let’s just hope they are apart for at least 13.1 miles.

And, Mom… I’ll let you know how it goes.

If you are in town, come to cheer me on and other 1000 runners during the Princeton Half-Marathon this Sunday, Nov. 3rd 2013. Race starts at 7:30AM and lasts for about 3 hours. 250 volunteers and 2000 spectators will be attending. More at https://www.facebook.com/PrincetonHalfMarathon 

Jennifer Cabral is a photographer in Princeton, NJ. Together with her husband, Photographer Eugene Pierce, she creates high-end portrait sessions and photo essays. www.jennifercabral.com

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A BAKER’S HOUSE

Photos by Eugene Pierce and Jennifer Cabral. Written by Jennifer Cabral 
A bakery in central New Jersey becomes a household name for gluten-free living

The address is 2691 Main Street, Lawrenceville, NJ 08648. When I walk into this house, I can feel the inhabitants that lived in it. Old fixtures and incandescent bulbs can still be found on the upstairs walls. A large dining table, full of stories to share is set up in the middle of the room. A chair saturated with age is placed by a window. The bathroom still carries its original iron tub. There is a couch I can share a book with. And the kitchen is no different than in any other home, the heart of it all. That is where I met Marilyn Besner. And that is where Wildflour Bakery and Cafe is housed.

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As the welcoming host at Wildflour, Marilyn is willing to spread maple syrup on confections for her guests, like the true Canadian that she is. Marilyn’s dedication to baking and cooking took years in the making. But the move from a part time pastry chef in the Princeton area, to a business owner, happened in a matter of months – she saw the old house for sale in November 2012, and Wildflour opened its doors in May 2013. After a few adaptations from a previous restaurant operating in the building, it was remodeled with food as it’s central purpose, and a home setting as it’s core. It now carries a hybrid design that allows a state of the art industrial kitchen to cohabit the intimacy of a living space. Marilyn Besner formally trained in New York, at The French Culinary Institute and The Natural Gourmet Institute. But it was in between meals served to family and friends, at a table inherited from her mother, where she has always actualized her recipes. It wouldn’t be any different when she had to create a menu for her first cafe. Except on one occasion, when Marilyn had to play guest instead of a host. To perfect the mint chutney sauce served on crepes at Wildflour, or the vegetable dosa that shows up as a daily special, Marilyn was invited to a dosa party. No such thing as too many cooks in that kitchen. There, surrounded by women willing to share as many recipes as stories, Marilyn made her first attempts to prepare dosa. Later, she would achieve the precise crispness and flavor of these dishes in her own kitchen with the direct supervision of her friend Jaya and her native South Asian palate.

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Her familiarity with timing and temperature comes not only from the oven, but from a kiln, as well. She is skilled in the art of pottery – clay and glaze being treated no different than flour and frosting. But when time came to create her breads and pastries, Marilyn Besner relied on Mathew Andresen, a member of Bread Bakers Guild of America, to help her adapt home made recipes into production. The most challenging element was creating the perfect mixture of entirely gluten-free flours – the core element of Wildflour Bakery and Cafe. Their partnership’s success can be tasted in every bite. You not only do not miss regular wheat flour, but welcome all sophisticated textures and flavors incorporated into their recipes from the use of more intricate flours like tapioca, quinoa, garbanzo, rice, lentil and amaranth. Wildflour is a safe haven for those with gluten sensitivity that will not disappoint any bread and butter eater. And believe me, I am both.

My grandfather owned a bakery in my hometown of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, in the 40’s. My dad, the youngest of 6 children, was able to escape shifts working behind the counter at Bakery Sul America, to attend games by his favorite soccer team, but life wouldn’t let him escape his fate of working in the baking business. Even after getting an Engineering degree at CUNY in New York, he would eventually go back to Brazil and open his own company custom building baking ovens in the same town his father delivered fresh bread out of carriages. For years, my dad’s job was coming in and out of bakeries making sure the ovens he designed at Erlan Ovens were evenly distributing heat over the golden rolls we Brazilians call “bread of salt”. My way of embracing our family’s roots in the baking business was to offer no resistance to being raised on bread – like any Brazilian worth it’s salt. As a child, I volunteered to take part of a national daily ritual – to stand in line at a neighborhood bakery to pick up fresh bread in the late afternoons. I can still feel in my arms, the warm paper bag I would carry, full of bread that would be smothered with butter within minutes of being out of the oven.

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I would still be carrying on such tradition, if it weren’t for a gluten sensitivity I developed a couple of years ago, and the migraines that accompany it. I had no choice but to settle for tasteless frozen versions of gluten-free breads offered at natural supermarkets. I was getting used to the packages full of ingredients that promised far more than they could deliver, until one day I read in the local paper that a gluten-free bakery was opening in my own town of Lawrenceville, NJ. I visited the bakery the next morning. And the morning after that. It quickly became my daily stop on my way to work – “A banana muffin, please. No. Make it, two.” One day I stared at a tray of robust purple loaves freshly baked. “What are those?”, I asked Anita, the friendly server that by now, knows me by name. “It’s Pumpernickel”, she said. I took a loaf home, and smothered it with butter while still warm out of the oven. Nothing like tasting tradition again. I was overwhelmed by its taste. Later I would learn where all that flavor came from – together with caraway seeds, Wildflour‘s Pumpernickel contains cocoa, maple sugar and a shot of espresso.

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And it was with a shot of espresso that I enticed my husband to come to a gluten-free bakery with me. Gene is the coffee-and-cigarettes type. My better-half is unwilling to sacrifice much in the name of healthy habits, let alone taste. So, he didn’t have many expectations for the “no-wheat-zone” he was about to step into. But that only lasted the first bite into a blueberry scone. Wildflour’s version of his favorite delicacy, and a bold cup of coffee did the trick. Now, he is hooked as I am at sitting in the cafe and enjoying the ambiance of the place, while trying something new from their menu without any fear of disappointment. It didn’t take long for the photographers in us to get hungry, too. So we invited ourselves into the kitchen, camera and all – “What time does a baker get out of bed?”, we naively asked.

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At 5:15 AM, both Matt and Marilyn were already down by the oven rolling bread. Predictable in shape and size were their rolls, but not their conversations. The discussions went from global warming – “Last night’s heavy rain in the garden might have done some damage”; to the ethics of free range cattle – “It tastes better, too”; to participating in the slow food movement – “Chard from the farmer across the street should arrive today”. As I stare at their hands covered in dough someone mentions: “You better love your baker, ’cause a little of the baker goes into the dough.” At some point, I caught Marilyn looking at the veins on her hands as she bragged: “I worked hard to earn these”. I kept a list in my head of the nouns those hands were able to create so early in the morning: Foccacia. Challah. Biscotti. Scone. Danish.

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The bread was finally baked. Clouds of steam rolled out every time the oven door opened. We were enveloped in fresh-out-of-the-oven smells. The 16 baguettes that would be sold throughout the day took over the kitchen counter. Right there and then, one was sliced and covered with jam and butter. Equal portions were shared among all. Breakfast was served. Nothing will ever taste better. I asked Matt: “What is your favorite thing to bake?” Chocolate chip cookies, he answered, as he handed me a scoop of cookie dough that made me dream of what the baked version tasted like. When I mentioned I was from Brazil, Matt immediately asked about Pão de Queijo, a cheese puff typical from my home state of Minas Gerais. I promised to bring him the authentic yucca flour recipe. They played with the ingredients I listed, and came up with a delicious crisper and darker version of the round and creamy color of the Pão de Queijo I’ve known growing up. They will now serve Brazilian cheese puffs every Wednesday mornings. If they serve it as my father likes it, it will be eaten along side a tiny cup of espresso, filled with spoons of sugar.

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It’s 8 A.M.. Countless trays flowed out of the basement. The staircase stood as a reminder there was a whole world waiting. Counter, kitchen and tables lingered. The encased glass display was now filled with flavors. The door opened to it’s first customers of the day. The servers and the dishwasher soon lined up for duty. Since 7 A.M., Monica had taken over the kitchen prepping vegetables and leafy greens with the familiarity that can only come from being a vegetarian chef (Her blog La Vegetariana is proof – www.lavegetariana.com ). The lunch rush would soon take over this establishment. One of the servers carrying a stack of empty plates, proclaimed: “They loved the corn cakes. They just ordered one more.” Monica greased a pan for the task. The case of ripened mangoes would no longer wait to garnish this dish. Monica combined the sweet salsa with a stack of warm cakes. All I could say was Olé. And many are saying the same about their menu that is not only gluten-free, but vegetarian as well. Wildflour Bakery was included in the 2013 Jersey Critic’s Choice Restaurant Poll under the vegetarian category.

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Orders for late lunches were still coming in, but the counter of pastries was already busy with late afternoon customers hovering to take home any gluten-free treats left. It doesn’t take much for someone to feel lucky – the last macaroon or shortbread will do. Meanwhile, Marilyn is in charge of the less glamorous tasks in the restaurant business: payroll, placing orders, getting supplies. If only her restaurant management training in NY, would make it any easier. The dishes are all washed. The kitchen is cleaned. The bakery is dormant for the day. The doors are now locked. But Marilyn is still standing behind the counter looking at numbers. It’s a 12 hour day, everyday. Do they teach that in culinary school? That’s what my father remembers the most about the bakery – the long hours his father worked. The bakery opened its doors at 6 in the morning and wouldn’t stop serving customers until way past 10 P.M. My Grandfather moved his family to the upper floor of the bakery as the only way to keep up with the intense schedule. The building of Bakery Sul America would be where my grandfather lived and died. He was 61. My dad was 15 when his father, José Amaro, passed away. To “earn one’s bread and butter” takes a whole new meaning when you are the one standing by the oven.

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Photographers Jennifer Cabral and Eugene Pierce create high-end photo essays for blogging, web illustration and social media to attend the needs of independent professionals and small businesses. To learn more about their services visit www.jennifercabral.com

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SAUDADES DO BRASIL

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The radio would be playing: A stick, a stone, it’s the end of the road…. And as fast as my dad reached for the car radio after arriving at our destination, I would beg: “Please don’t turn it off, Dad, I want to finish listening to this song.” For as long as I can remember, Águas de Março by Elis Regina and Tom Jobim has been my lullaby. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a memory from the womb, since in 1974, the year I was born, the classic duet’s recording was the number one song in Brazil. It’s still my favorite song, the same one I used to sing to my dolls, and the one I hummed in my head during the endless arithmetic classes I’ve hated so much as a child. In 1979, the poet Vinícius de Moraes put out the record “Arca de Noé” (Noah’s Arc) and my repertory of childhood songs grew exponentially. I would listen to all its 15 songs, but my favorite one was sang by Elis Regina, “A Corujinha” (The Little Owl), one of the saddest children’s songs you will ever hear. (listen to it here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=djv1UV8oCDI).

By 1980, when a K-7 tape titled “Saudades do Brasil” showed up in my house, Elis Regina was all I listened to. I had my first muse. That K-7 tape disappeared from my Dad’s collection and became my property. It’s still one of the few relics I’ve kept from my childhood. Never mind that so many words were not appropriate to a 7-year-old. Take the song “Onze Fitas”, for example:

By mistake, revenge or courtesy Por engano, vingança ou cortesia
Was there dead and put a stray Tava morto e posto, um desgarrado
Eleven shots made ​​fault Onze tiros fizeram a avaria
The dead man was already conformed E o mortotava conformado

And, I can’t tell you how many hours my little mind tried to understand the lyrics of “Redescobrir”:

Go like the child who does not fear the time. Mystery!
Love so pleasing to make that is to bepain. Magic!
Vai como a criança que não teme o tempo. Mistério!
Amor se fazer é tão prazer que é como fosse dor. Magia!

Then, in 1982, while spending the summer at my gradmother‘s house in Rio de Janeiro came the news: Elis Regina was dead. She was 36. Dead? – what does that mean? – Glued to the TV screen on a hot January afternoon, a week short of my 8th birthday, I was trying to understand it. A thousand people followed a casket through the streets of São Paulo. Her body there, laying still on TV, white, just like my grandma Luzia would be a few years later, their beds of roses mixed in a confusion of childhood memories. Dead? How could that be? The radio played her songs non-stop. Her voice still came out of my K-7 player. And, I could hear her singing in my head all the time:” It is night, it is death, it’s a trap, it’s a gun…”

A decade or so later, I came across moving images of her in Black and White. Enveloped in cigarette smoke, playing with rosary beads hanging from her neck as a necklace, she wasn’t laying still on the screen, but strong and alive as ever. I video taped part of the famous TV CULTURA interview on VHS. The muse was etched once and for all in my mind, where I had kept her alive just in case that casket, that body was just a childish make believe. Years later, at a concert in New York City, I saw her progeny sing. I closed my eyes and listened to Maria Rita pronouncing a language only spoken between a mother and daughter. Elis, Dead? Who said so? And away I still sing: “And the river bank talks of the waters of March. It’s the promise of life in your heart, in your heart.”

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BIRTHPLACE

visual conceptive seriesSo I will finally give birth to my latest project CONCEPTIVES after months of gestation! The birthplace is Brooklyn, New York. Most exactly, at BROOKLYN FIREPROOF in East Williamsburg on July, 6th 2013 during E.S.P. | Extra-Sensorial Perception | a Feminist Art & Variety Show. A show that has been cancelled before for lack of support to it’s goal: to raise money to Planned Parenthood and www.womanspace.org – a non-profit organization in NJ dedicated to assist victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. But we are achieving what curator Doris Yuan envisioned as its birthright: to create a platform for emerging feminist artists and establish a link between artists and communities. Thirty artists from various parts of the country, will be participating of a group exhibition and during opening night a series of performances will take place including STAND-UP/IMPROV/MUSICAL COMEDY PERFORMANCES BY: Jessica Delfino, Sasheer Zamata, SVCK MY D!CK II, Anna Drezen, Emilie Parker Strange; Judith George. LIVE MUSIC PERFORMANCE BY: Tiny Teeth and DANCE PARTY to follow with DJ DANNY BONADUCE, KAPERKOLATER, and DJ SOUR PUSS.

E.S.P. | a Feminist Art Show
8PM-2AM @ BROOKLYN FIREPROOF
119 Ingraham St, New York, NY 11237 (Morgan Avenue stop L train)
$5 – $10 sliding scale cover (all proceeds will benefit Planned Parenthood and Womanspace.) (ages 21+)

For further information visit http://esp-feminist.tumblr.com/ 

Two of the four elements that compose the project CONCEPTIVES will be shown at E.S.P. | a Feminist Art & Variety ShowVISUAL CONCEPTIVE – a series of 4 photographs representing women’s weekly cycles;  And ORAL CONCEPTIVE– a set of cards that will be distributed during opening night. These cards will be presented inside birth control holders, collected during the last 5 years the artist submitted her body to oral contraceptive consumption. Each of the 50 pouches will be inserted with a set of 4 cards. “By repurposing birth control holders I’ve accumulated over the years, I am taking control over my own cycles and reclaiming each phase my body is experiencing. At the same time, I hope to raise awareness of what we, as women, might be loosing when we interfere with our natural hormonal cycles by absorbing artificial hormones via oral contraceptive consumption.

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But don’t forget CONCEPTIVES is an ongoing art project that can be completely accessed online. So if you cannot make it to the show you can still be part of it. The images that compose ORAL CONCEPTIVE can be downloaded as wallpaper/ screensaver for digital devices and be used as cycle reminders on computers or mobile devices. To download it, go to http://conceptives.jennifercabral.com And a Limited Edition Series of VISUAL CONCEPTIVE is available for purchase online. From each 4-print series purchase, a $5 donation will be made to Womanspace – a non-profit organization in NJ dedicated to assist victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. To see this Limited Edition Series click here.

In addition, I’ve been sharing words and images to describe the stage of my cycle I am experiencing at #DAILY CONCEPTIVE. This is being explored simultaneously on Twitter with the hashtag #DAILYCONCEPTIVE and on the social media site Pinterest. It has become a fun interaction with other women and together we are constructing an iconography of personal cycles. See it now at:

http://pinterest.com/jennifercabral/dailyconceptive-diarioconceptivo-an-art-project-gr/

Any images included on this post can be used exclusively to promote the artist’s project and art show. Further usage of these images require a written permission from the artist Jennifer Cabral. She can be reached at photos@jennifercabral.com

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Spare Change

271493_107625736003330_4501113_o In September, 2004 I was in Los Angeles finishing a 2-month printing job. I woke up one morning, and received the sad news of Eddie’s passing. I went into the darkroom and made a small contact print of a portrait I shot of Eddie some year’s earlier. When it was dry, I put it in my wallet and it has stayed there ever since. A few month’s ago, I was contacted by the New Kensigton Camera Club, with a request to reproduce the image on a coin to help raise money to purchase a Pennsylvania Historical Marker in New Kensington, Eddie’s hometown. I said the cost would be one coin. When I receive the coin, I will put it in my wallet with Eddie’s picture. Fortunately, my wallet is usually empty which leaves a lot of room for fond memories of a friend who could be difficult at times, but never boring.

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The 100 coins featuring my photograph of Eddie Adams were designed by Don Henderson and minted by Dennis St Joer, a retired Army Sergeant Major that since 1993 has been manufacturing coins for the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. They will be sold during EDDIE ADAMS DAY, a day dedicated to Eddie’s life and times, organized by New Kensington Camera Club.

Eddie Adams Day

EDDIE ADAMS DAY will be celebrated on June 8th, 2013 in New Kensigton, PA. The event that will be marked by an exhibition of 21 photos by Eddie Adams at the Heritage Museum, a screeening of the documentary “An Unlikely Weapon” about his life, followed by a dinner with guest speaker Hal Buell, veteran photo editor for the Associated Press. Alyssa Adams, co-creator of the Eddie Adams Workshop and deputy Photo Editor at TV Guide will also participate of the day’s festivities as the judge of the competition Inspired by Eddie Adams 2013 photo show. All proceeds will be used to purchase the Historical Marker for Eddie in New Kensington, PA. Additional Proceeds will be used towards the Eddie Adams/John Filo Scholarship Fund.. Full information about EDDIE ADAMS DAY at www.eddieadamsday.com

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