Monday, June 28, 2010

The view from my bedroom window

Sometimes the fishermen wake me up at night with their noise. I look through the curtains at them and don't mind it.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Country cloth meets the Liberian market

These scarves/stoles are hand woven from natural fibers in the tradition of upcountry Liberia. I found them at the US Embassy Craft Fair, where I found all the artists in my recent 'Liberian Artists' posts. I liked the juxtaposition of football clubs and Jesus at this man's stall.

His name is Bah Mohamed and he has a shop opposite the US Embassy in Mamba Point. He's also at or +231-657-1602.

Monday, June 21, 2010

One year of lapas

The Women's Sewing Co-op--a project I mentor through Robertsport Community Works--is coming up on its 1-year anniversary. The women want to have a party. Most especially, they want me to make the same vegan chocolate cake I made for Bendu's birthday--and they want my recipe. They also want me to help them buy identical lapas so that we can all have matching dresses. If/when this happens, I promise to document it.

While I go up to my Tides kitchen and bake for them, here are some of the coolest lapa prints the Co-op has sewn together in the last year:

Gorgeous lapas

Frog feet

Cat tails

Yellow lanterns

Pineapple (so far, the Co-op's all-time favorite)


Plenty fish

Snake eyes




Tree lapas

Yellow trees

Klimt trees (aka Klimt deforestation)


Wildlife lapa

Big butterfly

Honeybees (a favorite)



Blue goose

Free bird


Entertaining lapa





Tropical palm trees


Aquatic lapa

Big fish

Plenty fish


Sting ray

Sea creatures

Fish pond

Friday, June 18, 2010

How to run a bar with a kitchen (in Liberia), 1

1. You are going to need pens. A lot of pens. In fact, stop reading this and go out, buy 5 boxes of Bic black ballpoints, mail them to me, and then come back. Then make sure our waitresses don't "borrow" (I was going to write steal) them. Chase said waitresses, however, and they sweetly remind you that you left your last pen by the stove, where it is slowly melting.

2. Although, because you have a large team, you will not have to do any chopping, it will still take a long time. Jobs are hard to get here, everyone is eager and no one wants to fuck up. Expect this and do not try to rush it.

3. Bars are fun. Try not to take yourself too seriously. Seriously.

4. People like what you're doing, but they don't want to hear about your tamarind prawn marinade. (That's you, lucky reader, right?)

5. It is always okay to go to bed, as long as you've send all the staff home first, the gas is off and the kitchen is clean.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Liberian Artists: Amazing Grace, jewelry maker

Grace--and my apologies for not knowing her first name--is indeed amazing. Since the end of the war, she's been recycling glass bottles and making them into beads, which she lovingly beads into bright and bulky necklaces and bracelets.

Order them direct by emailing her at or calling +231-77-063-061.

Coca Cola's 'Quest' commercial for the 2010 World Cup

Image from YouTube.

I thought I'd transcibe Coca Cola's inane World Cup commercial 'Quest', animated to K'Naan's 'Waving Flag', to see if it makes any sense to anyone. I have seen it probably one hundred times, and the "he was rocked by strangers" part still weirds me out.

Narrated in a South African accent, I think:

"This is the story of a boy who didn't know how to celebrate, so he set off on a quest to find his own celebration. He flew like a plane. He fought against robots. He was rocked by strangers and crossed oceans. And then, after climbing mountains of celebration, tired and thirsty, the boy nearly gave up. [Cue a rock giant handing the boy a Coke bottle.] Until he realized that the only place he needed to explore was inside himself."

I like the animation, but WTF does that even mean? Watch the whole thing here.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Liberian Artists: Morris Kanneh, cobbler

Morris Kanneh makes handmade leather sandals out of cowhide, snakeskin and crocodile. That's right. He designs his own 1970's era men's shoes, women's knee-length boots and classic sandals, but he replicates shoes from photos.

Morris is keen to increase his orders and is happy to ship internationally. His crocodile knee-length boots...well, let's just say I've got my eye on them.

Give him a call to place an order at +231-77-362-2956.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Liberian Artisits: John Gartau, coconut jewelry

Liberian artist John Gartau handcrafts these lovely earrings and pendants out of coconut shells. Mature coconut shells make darker pieces, while younger coconuts are lighter.

John can be contacted at or +231-649-2853. He will happily ship his jewelry all over the world!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Tides: The art of the speakeasy

The Prohibition-style speakeasies in New York were one of my favorite places to hang out. I confess that when we wanted to start Tides without being entirely ready, the idea was to have a secret drinking den deep in the heart of Monrovia. Actually, the easiest landmark to describe exactly where we are is the "yellow skips for the dirt." If you live here, you'll know what I mean.

Anyway, we did open Tides as a speakeasy. It's open for friends as we train our staff, figure out how to cook twelve orders on two burners of a broken stove, vie for fridge space and decide which coconut seller is the most reliable. When we open properly, Tides will be a bar-with-food, one of those places you come after work and dance after midnight. I know one or two places like that in New York, and I think Funrovia could benefit from the same.

So, this is my way of saying come on over if you don't mind that we haven't got enough furniture: we're making pretty good drinks. And by the sound of it, good food too. I'll be posting pictures and profiles of the place when we're ready to open.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Liberian Artist: Alfreda Ocar, dollmaker

This is Alfreda, who is rather famous in Liberia for her handmade dolls. Alfreda can ship orders to the US using the Liberian Postal Service and can take orders at or by phone at +231-656-7696 or +2310693-2296. Enjoy her work!

Pounding fufu:
Selling fish from a basket:
Carrying firewood:
On the river:

Carrying the sick:

Here are a few of her Christian-themed sets.

The flight to Egypt:

The African Arc:


Full Nativity: