On Cezanne's "The Card Players" Print E-mail
Essays and Memoirs

Cezanne The Card Players Barnes(Written February 4, 2016)

Not long ago, in Philadelphia’s Barnes’ Foundation, I sat then stood long with Paul Cezanne’s monumental, “The Card Players.” (This rendition is the most complicated and multi-involved of the series of five “Card Players” he painted in the 1890s.) It’s a mesmerizing work where paint, texture, composition, and pose are equals—three burly men around a table, cards in hands, another man with pipe looking on, a fifth, a feminine boy, his eyes downcast, echoing and softening each man’s self-absorption. A man and a boy not watching but witnessing the huddle of the three. (A painting whose witnesses—us—are portrayed within.)

Between Words & Images Print E-mail
San Diego Reader

thumbnail 01(San Diego Reader February 3, 2016)

Now open at Cedar and Kettner downtown is yet another San Diego monument to the commute: a $24 million, trolley-side, ten-story (three levels below ground, seven above), 645-space parking structure, bestowing on County Administration Center employees slots by day and on Little Italy revelers slots by night.

I Don't Know Why I'm a Musician Print E-mail
San Diego Reader

Joe-Garrison t670(San Diego Reader December 24, 2015)

Joe Garrison is a musical survivalist. The 64-year-old jazz and new music composer has shaped his artistic life to favor more beginnings than ends. Like his hero, Igor Stravinsky, he’s learned that to reinvent himself by adapting to new musical ideas elicits in him the highest pleasure. He does so despite having been lured by the sirens of L.A. and New York. Staying put—all local artists know—can be detrimental to the ego. “If someone hears you’re from San Diego,” he says, “what they’re really telling you is ‘Oh, you’re from San Diego.’” Ah, the embarrassment of being from here and stuck here forever.

On the Best American Essays 1995: Man Versus Boy Print E-mail
Essays and Memoirs

m7781-spiderman-spiderboy(Essay Daily December 16, 2015)

The surprise? That I single out the male authors. That I count twenty authors total, thirteen men. That my distaste is palpable. Find them sexist, show-off-y, self-infatuated. Was unprepared for such a response. In me. What the passage of twenty years since I first read these pieces can do. It’s the self-righteousness that’s so bothersome. The wooliness of having put it behind me or I have no doubts so no reflection turns the bearing as though the past were father to the man. How glossily several calibrate their inner Brett Easton Ellis in whom the boy demands—be he PFC, rookie, deckhand, red-shirt—to ring the remembrance.

What I mean is. John Turturro in Barton Fink. Michael Keaton in Birdman. The boy in the man who is ever what he was. Who LP’s Sticky Fingers or Blonde on Blonde with unclogged reverence. Boys in men other men admire. Who reel highlights, who wash-and-wield a Buick 6, who used to be, if not are, some woman’s used-to-be. Those literary varietals—the stooge incarnate or the male ingénue. Whose sense of self comes at the boy’s behest.

Eliot & Faith Print E-mail
Essays and Memoirs

tumblr mtvbloYsOu1rpxkmvo1 500(Forth Magazine November 10, 2015)

Only later, walking back—after he attacks—do I realize that earlier, the first time by, I marked this tawny pit just as he raised his paw-lain head beside his seated keeper.

Both sat porch-fixed-safe behind a fenced-in yard—and before a rough brick, two-story duplex, dormers and posts Reconstruction-made.

Brow twitching, mouth shutting, the dog (like me) must have heard the woman whisper, “Now, Killer.” His glare more than reimbursed her: You’re too close. Get on by. I mean it.

I complied, quick-stepping, the danger flinching on my skin as though I’d stirred a serpent.

I Go To Church, Meet God on Film, and Find the Pastor's Faith in the Word Lays Bare the Absence of Mine Print E-mail
Essays and Memoirs

17iht-melikian17-pic1-articleLarge(Indiana Voice Journal November 5, 2015)

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One day, in 2014, in midsummer, I drive by a church in my San Diego neighborhood: there’s an intriguing announcement on the little brick-monument marquee out front, the Sunday homiletic: “God on Film: Noah.” The new film, which I’ve seen—bewitchingly watchable and, at times, mawkishly funny—was created and directed by Darrin Aronofsky and stars Russell Crowe. I’m intrigued by a host of questions. What do Christians think about this movie’s representation of their faith or, at least, one of their defining legends, Noah and the flood? What does a movie based on the Bible do to the Bible? How do we read Scripture after seeing the film? How do we judge what the movie should be faithful to, especially if the Bible is deemed sacred, which, in this case, it has, and the film, to some degree, has desacralized the book via film?

Review: Interlude by Jamie Cullum (CD) Print E-mail

leprotti(Music & Musicians Issue 41 2015)

Some vocalists take wing as teen sensations and circle the port; some launch as adults and fly transcontinental. Few make the shift—few as driven as England’s Jamie Cullum: 7 albums in 15 years. He of the bedhead, the suit-and-Converse-wearing Phenom, the 20-year-old crooner who hit pop-smart with 1999’s Heard It All Before. Cullum’s latest, Interlude, meshes jazz and near-jazz: 15 tunes in search of his comfort zone, which, gorgeously produced, still sounds a touch over-comfy, a tad couch-safe. On “My One and Only Love,” the song’s yearning plods, lacking the vibrant candor of his 1999 trio recording. Same with Hank Williams’ “Lovesick Blues,” a ribald honky-tonker too slow-to-pop, though the band’s country funk is heel-toe firm. Several gems here do shine with an inner ferocity, especially when Cullum and an orchestra parlay. Of the album’s two duets, Gregory Porter’s preacherly conviction on the Animals’ classic “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” unbuckles the ride. The sound is brassy, torch-bearing, and the balladeer gets it. Best of show is Jule Styne’s “Make Someone Happy,” the voice/solo piano blend bleedingly sincere. Here a full-grown Cullum crosses conflicted emotions; he’s as much pained by as he’s possessed of the tune’s declaration. Overall—less pap, more tart, please. The talent’s undeniable.


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