Author Archives: Max La Rivière-Hedrick

The Quenching of Salted Bones

Looking through his sightglass, Capt. Morehouse of the British brigantine Dei Gratia could tell something was wrong, and he dispatched an emergency boarding party. In the distance, the Mary Celeste was yawing, under short canvas, eerily with no crew on deck. She was a ghost ship.

Once Upon a Cuarentañera

Max: It was dark in the kitchen. I struggled to stack multiple bottles of just-opened Champagne and glasses into my arms before heading back into the crowd. Paolo appeared out of nowhere. “You must really love her,” he said. My mind couldn’t help but downshift into first gear. It played back the time you got your lip stuck in a coffee Thermos lid while driving — it had snapped on like a turtle. “Yes,” I said to Paolo, “she is family, and the one friend I have known the longest.” And this is why I agreed to host a “Cuarentañera.”

Why the Pigs Are on the South Side

Nogales, Arizona, is a shared hunting ground. Border patrol collaborates with ICE, Homeland Security, and the National Guard. Together with their SUVs, heavy firepower, and technology they track immigrants who have crossed the border from Mexico. And in the same rugged, high desert land, hunters with their SUVs, heavy firepower, and technology hunt wild pigs called javelina. We are the among latter group of hunters.

An Unintended Turn

Our ears perked at the idea of counterfeit caviar. Art historian and curator Tere Arcq told Wendi, Julio, and me a story about Remedios Varo and Leonora Carrington. In the 1940s in Mexico City, Varo and Carrington were friendly with the Russian Consulate and were expecting members of the delegation for dinner. The mischievous artists served tapioca colored with squid ink as caviar to their unsuspecting Russian guests.

A Recalibrated Zero

I taste bone.
My mouth and hands are coated with meat grease.
And I am cold. We are very very cold.

Wool scratches my neck, but the warmth should make up for it. I can feel the heat from a dog at our feet. As for the grease, it is oddly comforting. The alcohol cuts right through the cold with a different heat, a vibrating, clean heat. On this December night I can see our breath in the soft casts of moonlight coming through the fogged windows, the primary source of illumination.

The Ornament of the World

For over 700 years, Jews, Muslims, and Christians lived together in medieval Spain in relative peace. This rare period of a pluralistic society is called La Convivencia (“the Coexistence”) by Spanish historians. It started with the Muslim conquest of the Iberian Peninsula in 711 and ended with the surrender of the last Moorish King of Granada in 1492.

Leap of Faith

Last night, during the A Sors performance, our Master of Ceremonies, Norma, told us all about the “trust fall” that was performed, many years ago, by the Freemasons—right there in the very same room in the north alcove of the Lodge at the Regency on Sutter Street here in San Francisco.

Norma described how, at the hour of initiation, the Freemason candidate would be blindfolded, and how a noose would be placed around his neck. Of his own volition, the candidate would then jump into an opening in the floor … and his cloaked brethren would catch him, saving his life.

In Advance of Thought

We could see a crowd gathered ahead on the road. Pickups and cars had pulled over in haste, partially blocking traffic. Something was wrong.

It’s a Saturday in Bodega, California, and my father and I are taking a lazy walk after lunch. There’s no wind. The air is clean, a touch of sea salt and eucalyptus. Based on the shadows, it must be around two in the afternoon.