Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

200 Pleasures


begin your list today
twenty-ten !

200 pleasures in 2010

painting: Moxy Lura Astor
photo: Love Tree Lura Astor

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

perfumery book

Perfumery: Techniques in Evolution
by Arcadi Boix Camps
second edition of the book available now

read excerpt here

with some interesting comments on the difficulty of the current perfumer's palette meeting numerous, and often hindering, restrictions.

An analogy is drawn ... what if (name your favorite painter) was restricted from using red (hurray! say the red haters). I take it further, though. Many materials in original paints turn out to not always be so healthy, especially if they saturate your skin or you put the paintbrush in your mouth (not uncommon amongst painters).

So, while the painters were not restricted from using colors per se, except perhaps by clients who had patented colors for their brand of heraldry, there are those who may not have been sad by an artist's demise ... it ups the value of the collectible.

Of course, perfumery has another set of problems on the plate ... and the palettes ...

I'll leave you with a memory from In Like Flint starring James Coburn, a film from 1967. The tongue in cheek plot reveals women gone bad using beauty spas, treatments and hypnosis to take over the world. New Age, anyone?

Illustration: Dancer goes Wild Lura Astor


Doing some art work with muse-ical tunes on shuffle
An aural observation
a muse-ical cross-over of two songs

Musical (not lyrical) Crossovers:

The Last Time I Saw Paris
I dodged the same old taxicabs that I had dodged for years.
The chorus of their squeaky horns was music to my ears.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town
He sees you when you're sleeping
He knows when you're awake
He knows if you've been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake!

One way muses cross into parallel multi-verses, note by note, step by step, slippy slidey.

Illustration: B-flats Lura Astor

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Muses are Ravenous

feed them

Q: what do I feed them?

A: strew stuff around, 
ask them, 
invite them, 
seduce them,  

Feed the Muses!

Merman/Mermaid/Your Siren Song: The Muse Series Lura Astor

Thursday, December 24, 2009

civet hiss

The Wondermonger tells a funny.

Receiving pure civet, he opens the jar and all his cats hiss.

"In case I was wondering if it's the real stuff ...," he says.


Illustration: Cat Lura Astor

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

sugar plum fairies

Memories flood on the shores of my present with bottles upon bottles of water-blurred messages, driftwood memories, tattered nets of snagged dreams, crushed shell that twinkles like star sillage.

With my off-strip Las Vegas company throughout the 1980's, The Tai Chi Comedy Performers, we used comedy to push the envelope in every medium available to us. They told us comedy was dead, unless you were Eddie Murphy or Richard Pryor. Not so, we said.

Our opera singer was Carmen Ghia.
A kid with a gimp leg ran away like a graceful gazelle from a naughty Santa who chased him after he angelically sang I Saw Mother Kissing Santa Claus. "I'm going to get you," threatened Santa.

I danced classical ballet choreography to Tchaikovsky's Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies with the addition of a star-shaped, magic wand and proceeded to a raucous change in dance theatrics and finale in The Good Fairy Gets Down.

Director of Ballet Etudes Repertory Company/BERC in Connecticut, Russell Fratto, (r.i.p. Russell I still hear you screaming Smile! Smile! as our toes screamed from rehearsal heat) braved a Christmas season sans The Nutcracker Suite in the late 1960's, with an ambitious, and excellent, program of variations from a huge range of ballet repertoire.

He, his company, lost money. Lesson learned, every year end holiday saved the year's budget with the in/famous Nutcracker Suite from then on. End of story. A real nut cracker.

Back in Las Vegas, despite our shoestring budget, we had some of the best lighting designers on the Las Vegas Strip working with us; a singer and piano talent that Liberace last introduced to Caesar's Palace and his own Museum, High Tea and Piano Bar; a Michael Jackson look alike didn't last two shows, he disappeared to Los Angeles after night one. Some years later, my friend Willie Collins gained permission from the Liberace estate to get the showman's dentures imprint, for Willie was/is the consummate Liberace impersonator (he was the above mentioned Santa.)

I was fortunate to see masterful showmen and showwomen in live performance. True to form, they gave me goosebumps and tears simultaneously for just be so damneddamned good.

Sitting next a top spot follower high above a major showroom stage, he told me subtle differences he did when a star and he connected, to really funnel the star shine. Creating magic intensity, magic moment to magic moment ...

Sequoia sang and danced her Tina impersonations. Within the year, Tina was back singing and shimmying those same songs, breaking her silence, Proud Mary Keep On Rollin' ...

Alfredo Gustar, aka the "Suntan Fred Astaire" and Maceo Anderson of the Step Brothers hoofed and spoofed. Tap tap tap, smash, "damn cockroaches". Maceo and the 4 Step Brothers got their Hollywood Walk star finally, 15 years after our last show together.

We mixed it up, all colors, people who'd been blacklisted off the main stages (one for a jealous husband who had smashed cameras in a television studio - but, that was almost the norm in Las Vegas, back then).

Yours truly, choreographed, MC'd, dance, sang, directed, took the oldtimers to doctors, worked fulltime and a half to support the shows, wrote skits, talent scouted, created graphics, saw the video my Tai Chi students took and the lawyer stealing from the ticket box, on the one show that I knew was the turning point after years of work, all to help support his cocaine habit and I cried, Uncle. Bye bye. The hat hung, the shoes undone, climbed off that huge climb, la precipice, off the stage and have been climbing and falling ever since.

I proceeded to take the characters I see, while I dream music, lights, sound, make-up!, the knowledge from the vantage point of theater wings and empty seats in audience caverns, drafty theaters new and old, writing, writing to make sense of the non-theatrical whirled, and, I tell you this,

thank goodness for Chandler Burr's book The Emperor of Scent, for Luca Turin's writing, for bibliographies and online communications of things fragrant that open/ed up before me faster than Ali Baba could say Open Sesame! magico presto digito


My continued fall became graceful again

Q: Did you fall on purpose, or was that choreographed?

LA/A: No, no, so&so put water on the stage where I do that tricky bit. I landed on my knee and fell, then rolled out and up.

Q: It was so graceful, I couldn't tell.

Me: Good thing for Tai Chi ... at least it wasn't the invisible cigarette cellophane wrap at the top of the stairs at the (major casino showroom) that so & so took ... the understudy's method of winning the role.

The Language of Smell

allows me to chase the sillage
further down the rabbit hole
a life long,
long, long chase,
an olfactory hunt,
of play and mischief
stringing together picas
to help others understand

the sublime, the irritable (pearl makers),
the ecstatic, mundane and cool of
the smelly world

thanks to all those I meet along the way ...
the Mad Hatters, Caterpillars, Butterflies, Queens and more.

Illustration: Noteflakes Lura Astor

excerpt from book I'm writing and writing and writing
and, for those who ask about my multi-media performing

Monday, December 21, 2009

the exuberant energy of you

feed the inner sun
sleep with the inner moondance with the outer stars
laugh with the spiraling galaxies

smell like there's no tomorrow
touch, even if invisibly
cry and hardness melts
wonder for curiosity hungers!

the exuberant energy of you
keep the capacity to be astonished
put the awe in awful
and know that inspiration has value


click here to hear The Purple Bottle by Animal Collective

Sunday, December 20, 2009

sun's a' rising

I tell you this,
no eternal reward
will forgive us now
for wasting the dawn

jim morrison

Happy Winter's Solstice!


Illustration: The Sun Bores but is not Boring Lura Astor

Friday, December 18, 2009

winter's solstice is almost here

Cold things
have little smell,
and one of the attractions
of a snowy night
is the total blank
our nose perceives.

~ Luca TurinThe Secret of Scent: Adventures in Perfume and the Science of Smell

But flowers distilled,
though they
with winter meet,
Leese but
their show;
their substance
still lives sweet.

~ William Shakespeare

Sonnet 5
Those hours that with gentle work did frame
The lovely gaze where every eye doth dwell
Will play the tyrants to the very sameAnd that unfair which fairly doth excel.
For never-resting time leads summer on
To hideous winter and confounds him there,Sap checked with frost and lusty leaves quite gone,Beauty o'er-snowed and bareness everywhere.
Then were not summer's distillation left,

A liquid prisoner pent in walls of glass,
Beauty's effect with beauty were bereft,
Nor it nor no remembrance what it was.

But flowers distilled, though they with winter meet,

Leese but their show;
their substance still lives sweet.
~ William Shakespeare

I love juxtapositions of spritzing spring/summer
in the dark of winter,
notes held captive in glass reveal their stories of light and season.
In bright of summer, putting on a cool, sharp winter plays with the senses.

The perfumers' art amuses
and for this
I thank them, heartily, joyfully.

Lurana author in 1967 or '68
part of a photo
series/art poem
for an art project
to a Ferlinghetti poem

Pound Ridge Tree Reservation, Connecticut

Thursday, December 17, 2009



Poetry is a very subjective
and intimate expression.
It's literally your heartbeat.
Your rhythm.
The song of your soul.
It's superconcentrated.
It's a dense piece of yourself.

- Val Kilmer

I enjoy my poetry sung and spritzed - LA

Illustration: Heart Roots Lura Astor

kinetic melodies

For adults,

writing is an
automatic skill,
a series of
built-in movements
which I call
kinetic melodies

- A.R. Luria

The Man with a Shattered World:
The History of a Brain Wound

Illustration: rainbowriting Lura Astor

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Gift

Once Upon a Time
a dreamer dreamed of
The Gift.

try viewing while listening to this music by Peter Salem

best viewed full-screen with dissolve and both visual and music looping. I welcome help on how to technically achieve this-LA

... Each hand held a tool of the dreamer, in one hand a paintbrush, another a pen, another a writing book, another a sketching book, another her heart, another a perfume bottle... and on and on.

In a museum one day, the dreamer found the gold icon that seemed the basis of this dream. It was titled The Dance of Furious Bliss, which fit this dreamer perfectly, a choreographer dancer of dreams, color, words, scent, languages, fury, bliss and so much more.

-the end-


here you can hear more from Peter Salem

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Paint with Perfume

“The painter of the future,”

said Van Gogh,

“is a colorist such as
has never been seen before.”


a quote from Philip Ball's book
Bright Earth.

Ball continues:

I do hope so. The delicious irony is that paint manufacturers, color theorists, and colormakers, practically inclined craftspeople, have traditionally been conventionally minded folk, offering up gleaming new tools into the hands of visionaries who go and do something crazy with them, break the mold, create a revolution. Long may it last,

…. that is the way of art, to find ways to take advantage of what technology offers. That, I hope, is the one central message of this book: technology opens new doors for artists. And of course technologists cannot then prescribe which portals the artists will go through or what they will do on the other side.

Lurana asks: which portal will you go through?

Descanso Gardens Lura Astor

Thursday, December 10, 2009

the Fool

Without foolish inspiration
there can be no

-Michael Lutin

Illustration: Swirl We're Back Lura Astor

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Smell of the Future

Lewis Thomas ‘On Smell'

from Late Night Thoughts

I should think we might fairly gauge the future of biological science, centuries ahead, by estimating the time it will take to reach a complete, comprehensive understanding of odour. It may not seem a profound enough problem to dominate all the life sciences, but it contains, piece by piece, all the mysteries.


photo: Wavy Lura Astor

Monday, December 7, 2009

nose of rose

The scent of roses
has a smile on its face.

~Georg Christoph Lichtenberg


German physicist and author

photos: lastor

Thursday, December 3, 2009

inky stinky do

ink that not only travelled seductively across the paper, but which also smelled wonderful

"From early times both the Persians and the Chinese thought it was desirable to have ink that not only travelled seductively across the paper, but which also smelled wonderful. So they would add perfumes, to make writing the sensual experience that scholars deserved. Sometimes recipes for ink read like the random elements of a love poem: cloves, honey, locusts, the virgin pressing of olives, powdered pearl, scented musk, rhinoceros horn, jade, jasper, as well as, of course - most poignant and most common - that exquisite smoke of pine trees in autumn. Of all the luxury ingredients they probably needed the musk most: sometimes the binding glue was from rhino horn or yak skin, but sometimes it was from fish intestines, as it sometimes still is, and in its raw state it must have been horribly smelly."

-from Victoria Finlay's Color: A Natural History of the Palette
good writing, wit, fun information on color

If you enjoyed Diane Ackerman's A Natural History of the Senses, you will love the book Color.

b/w: Eye of the Needle: lastor
based on Popy Moreni perfume bottle by Thierry de Baschmoakoff

weaving language - carpet of flowers

Yearly event in Brussels, Belgium

the weaving of the tapestry of flowers

Tapis de Fleurs

click here to see the begonias being hand "woven" into the huge carpet

and here in sped-up time lapse

here with lights as a performance at night

Official site click here wonderful background information, videos, pictures from the previous decades, how it's all done

Tapis de fleurs sur la Grande-Place de Bruxelles photo: Bourdaire

continuing on - weaving language

Continuing on from the previous post about the rapid loss of languages/cultures, I recommend 

Women's Work: The First 20,000 Years 

by Elizabeth Wayland Barber, at Occidental College when not on travels and digs.

The book describes the way textiles,

specifically weaving,
integrate language transmission and story telling.

Not all linguistic records are textual ... some are textural.

photo: Ariadne Lura Astor 1992

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


quotes from

Wade Davis: On Endangered Cultures TED Talks

when you click the link above: below left of screen are subtitle options for 24 languages; above right click to open transcript.

Their (the Waorani) hunters could smell animal urine at 40 paces and tell you what species left it behind.

When each of you in this room were born, there were 6,000 languages spoken on the planet. Now, a language is not just a body of vocabulary or a set of grammatical rules. A language is a flash of the human spirit. It's a vehicle through which the soul of each particular culture comes into the material world. Every language is an old-growth forest of the mind, a watershed, a thought, an ecosystem of spiritual possibilities.

And of those 6,000 languages, as we sit here today in Monterrey, fully half are no longer being whispered into the ears of children. They're no longer being taught to babies, which means, effectively, unless something changes, they're already dead. What could be more lonely than to be enveloped in silence, to be the last of your people to speak your language, to have no way to pass on the wisdom of the ancestors or anticipate the promise of the children? And yet, that dreadful fate is indeed the plight of somebody somewhere on Earth roughly every two weeks, because every two weeks, some elder dies and carries with him into the grave the last syllables of an ancient tongue.

thanks to WonderMonger Michael for passing this along

Illustration Art Hands series Lura Astor

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Vedat Ozan and Smiling Passport Stampers

Perfumer Vedat Ozan, of Istanbul, Turkey was interviewed click here on Carmel Perfumer's October 2009 postsI love Ozan's quote:
"On my trips, I always spend a lot of time in duty free aisles, spraying this or that to myself, my shirt and even my passport.

I will never forget the passport officer lady in the Malpensa Airport in Milan who opened the pages, closed her eyes, inhaled deeply and stamped my passport with a smile."

Video interview in Turkish here and written Hurriyet interview

Ozan has a weekly radio show discussing all facets of scent, odor, olfaction, perfume, and fragrance, including interviews, history and more ... koku and you can find him on TED.
this one discusses Coty, in Turkish.

I've had the chance to enjoy a selection of Vedat Ozan's creations. He is an artist. I was tickled to smell some truly enjoyable fumes, especially since it's been awhile since I got inspired on the sniff.

Not only are his works lovely, they have the added benefit of making me feel really good. Now, this is an indefinable I've been trying to define ... what makes one experience the feeling with a scent of just feeling good, more so than before wearing the scent? The perfume's aura merges with one's own personal space, and there you are ... different for it, moving within it as a cocoon carriage. It is not a static experience of the world.

With some of Ozan's work my wrist and nose kept in continual contact, a yakkity yakkity nasal conversation. As I slowly gain recognition, over the years, of certain perfumer's signatures evident in their work, with Vedat Ozan's perfumes I often get a distinct, dimensional, globe of soft glow that interacts.

Not woo woo but sniff ahhhh ! ~LA

watercolor: lastor

additional info on grande dame Lauder

American joke
knock knock
who's there
Madame who?
Madame foot's caught in the door

If you ever wanted to be a fly on the wall, here was a moment in time ...

Yuri Gutsatz (1914-2005), chief perfumer at Roure-Bertrand Fils & Justin Dupont, Paris, France shares anecdotes of meeting with Estee Lauder.
Scroll down for the English version, which omits some of the original in French. For example, the keora flower is discussed. You can read of this plant, and its name in 42 languages described in this link and under Sensory Quality.

Yuri Gutsatz founded Le Jardin Retrouvé in 1975

Some of their fragrant offerings:
Le Chèvrefeuille,1977
Cuir de Russie, 1977
Eau de Sandalwood, 1977
Eau de Vétyver, 1977
Le Jasmin, 1977
Le Lys, 1989
Rose Thé, 1989
La Tubéreuse, 1980
Veritable Eau de Cologne, 1977
La Verveine, 1978
Le Citron Poivré
Le Vétyver-Vanille
L'eau du Jardin
Eau de cuir de Russie
L'eau pour Homme
Décibelde PSS

Of interest to me in the above referenced anecdotes story is not only the differences in nasal acuity but of skin absorption or burn rate. I know that people "burn off" fragrance at different rates, but this seemed an extreme case. It made more clear that a smell seeming "heavy" to many would seem light, or "not even there", in the condition when one's burn-off rate is that fast.

lubock woodcut from inner bark of linden tree: Farnos

I selected this image for the noses, a red and a pig's!
Pigs with their good noses -see previous posts
Lyall Watson devoted a whole book to suidae acuity
translation copyright: Alexander Boguslawski 1999:
I'm a poor lad, I suppose, but I have a crooked nose
And I strike a glorious pose. My name is Farnos the Red Nose.
For three days I drank booze while putting on my dancing shoes.
I donned a feathered hat to dance and filled with farts my spacious pants.
Finally, fully dressed, astride, I took my winepig for a ride.
And grunting, this pig of mine keeps sniffing out her favorite wine.

thanks to perfumer Vedat Ozan for the link to Yuri/Le Jardin Retrouve