The streets, wet after rain, smell of tuberose and old bay seasoning. As I walk down the sidewalk I step over a half-mangled strand of neon green mardi gras beads. I run my hand over a vining fence of blooming trumpet creeper. The long orange flowers shiver. Sparkling rain drops catapult towards broken earth. A dapper couple passes and I get a sickening gulp of aftershave and perfume floating in their wake.
A tattered man with a worn face crosses the street in front of me, heading for Dat Grocery (aka sketchy-as-hell-mart). Logan and I wander, pointing out the sidewalk crawfish-boil kicking off at an Irish-themed bar. Across the street, an astute mod-vintage bar houses enthusiastic cocktail sippers. I notice a row of leafless trees heavily woven with weather-worn beads. Beads like infinite strings of tiny buds that will never bloom.
My first time in New Orleans. It’s every bit as dark and unctuous and virile as anyone has ever told me it would be. It’s at once a monster and a queen. A city full of ghosts, devils, tricksters, guides, dancers, makers, artists, divas, mothers, fathers, children, strangers and friends. Like a beautiful woman scarred by the injustices of life — abandoned, forsaken, abused. But not broken. A survivor, till the bloody end. Still kicking.
While we were in the city we took a trip to the New Orleans Museum of Art. The main exhibit was called “Self-Taught Genius.” It was a tribute to American artists who created without being educated in the European art disciplines. As I was touring the exhibit a part of me snapped awake, recognizing: American art has, since the beginning, relied on a rebellion from inculcated forms of thought. In the early national period a culture of self-education was deeply entrenched and widespread — in art, education, and business alike. Today, despite our complex (failing) socialized education system, modern artists who create outside of the canon of historically accepted art are esteemed. Even deified.
This very simple thought — that personal genius is greater than educated skill — has informed much of the art in this country. Herman Melville (Moby Dick), Ernest Hemingway, Frida Kahlo, Ray Bradbury, David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Frank Lloyd Wright, Henry Ford, The Wright Brothers, Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln. All self-taught. All significantly influential. All rebels. Yes, Ben Franklin was a rebel.
I bring all of this up because, on a personal level, I think it’s important to know in your gut that you are capable of changing the world without the help of formalized education, governance or influence. In fact, eschewing the dogma might just be essential to greatness. To sum it up further you don’t need permission to make it great. Also, don’t let the world convince you that the box is essential. The box is a prison for your mind.
Powerful thoughts for your Friday. Followed up by an odd little snack that came into my brain like a lightning bolt one rainy afternoon. A berry sunbutter parfait. Blueberries + date sweetened sunbutter + buckwheat groats + hemp sesame milk + cinnamon. It’s a swirl of sweetness countering that pleasant bitterness from the sesame and hemp. Cinnamon rounds out the flavor and really takes this snack to the next level. I would say it’s essential, so don’t leave it out.
Regarding the recipe: If you don’t feel much like DIYing your own mylk, never fear lil beans! Sub 1 – 1.5 cups plant milk of your choice. Then simply add a little bit of that plant milk to your sunflower seeds + dates to grease the wheels of your blender. That way you still get a nice, smooth seed butter. The method I’ve introduced here — that is, including the leftover seed pulp in your sunflower butter — is just a lil trick I have for using up leftover mylk pulp. I think it’s dandy.
Happy weekend-ing, you artists, inventors and geniuses! I hope you make something weird and wondrous out of it. xo — Renee