Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Rock and Roll Week

Not my normal speed, but we caught 4 nights of live music shows last week. Which adds up to awesome.
Night 1
Yo La Tengo 30th Anniversary show at Town Hall.  Antietam opened.  Here they are joined by many of the people they've worked and played with over the years.  Superfab.

Night 2
Second night of Yo La Tengo's anniversary residency.  Here are the Feelies in their opening set.  They all joined YLT as well at various times throughout the evening.  Megafab.

Oh, and these nights gave Cory a good chance to expand her collection of Yo La Tengo and Feelies setlists.  They're filling up the better part of the hearth at this point...

Night 3

Lucius, doing their New York homecoming at Terminal 5.  Not my favorite venue, but one of my current favorite acts.  They came out into the crowd for the encore, as is their wont.

Night 4

Beep opened the show at Music Hall of Williamsburg - they were great, but I didn't get any photos

Cibo Matto - Amazing.

Tune-Yards - Incredible.

So - now we're kind of in recovery mode.  Kind of.  I had a shoot on Sunday (tucked in between Lucius and Tune-Yards, if you're keeping score) and of course we've both been working regular hours this whole while.  Plans every night this week (but mainly mellower plans - that's what makes it recovery mode, I guess) and both days this weekend too.  

Like the man said, you'll sleep when you're dead.

Monday, December 01, 2014


I am thankful for a lot (overwhelming evidence from all quarters to the contrary).  So, while we can't and shouldn't ignore the reality (as opposed to the cartoon pageant version) of the Pilgrims or the rest of the European occupation of this continent and the one to the south, we can still make use of a national opportunity to express gratitude.

Small dinner, as Thanksgivings go, with Bruce and Caroline from the building, and Caroline's brother and his girlfriend.  Lentil soup, mussels, turkey roulade, roasted root veggies, mashed potatoes, green beans, brussels sprouts, sweet potato pie & pine nut tart for dessert.  We shared the cooking tasks, and it turns out that the brother is a wine distributor, so there was a bunch of that flowing.  Much to be thankful for.

Put together a thanks-themed disc for the hosts.  Didn't think they'd cue it up for the event, but toward the end of the night they did play it. If you want to play along at home, this year's offering worked out to be:

Vince Guaraldi - Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Theme
Nancy Marano - Thanks A Million
The Silos - A Few Hundred Thank You's
Led Zeppelin - Thank You
M.T. Thomas/CSO - Thanksgiving and Forefather's Day movement from Charles Ives' Holidays Symphony
The Beatles - Thank You Girl
Sinéad O'Connor - Thank You for Hearing Me
Johnny Cash - Thanks A Lot
The Books - Thankyoubranch
Alan Titus/Norman Scribner Choir - Gloria/Trope: "Thank You" from Bernstein's Mass
Talking Heads - Thank You for Sending Me An Angel
Big Star - Thank You Friends
Bonnie Raitt - Thank You
Sly & The Family Stone - Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)
My Morning Jacket - Thank You Too!

Monday, September 15, 2014


Uncopyrightable Macaque selfie, or, me on a Monday like this...

The link takes you to an article (one of many) about the intellectual property legal questions surrounding photos taken by animals (non-human animals, I mean) no matter how human-trained.  I do feel bad for David Slater, who is losing out on the money from these images, but have hopes he'll strike gold on another project.  Meanwhile, come on - those photos!!!!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Watching from the Canal

From every which way.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Monday, August 11, 2014

Westminster Thistle

From the garden where the monks used to grow the veg.

This Is Not Disturbing the Peace

This is paint. Over a parking lot in Shoreditch.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

The Best in Community Gardening

From the banks of the Regents Canal

Sunday, July 27, 2014

money never changed a thing

We heard the Sermon on the Mount and I knew it was too complex
It didn't amount to anything more than the broken glass reflects

When you bite off more than you can chew you pay the penalty
Somebody's got to tell the tale, I guess it must be up to me

Monday, July 21, 2014

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Women to women

That night, we went to see the Sa Dance Company perform.  The house was full and performance was full to bursting with life – streaks of color and movement that simultaneously pulse with celestial abandon and the down-to-the-finger precision of Indian dance.  So who am I to talk about Indian dance tradition? Nobody.  But it was fab to see this group of mostly amateur but highly trained and experienced women cover ground from strict classicism to Bollywood exuberance.

Then on Sunday we went to the Kara Walker “A Subtlety” exhibition at the Domino Sugar Factory in Williamsburg. As much great stuff as we'd read about this, it was more amazing than we’d dared expect.

The full title was: "A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant."

Sugar baby, tar baby, Sugar Mammie Sphinx - sugar and molasses sculptures standing, melting, decaying and laying in wait, accusing and celebrating and remembering the people who worked, lived, and died in the sugar harvesting & refining industries. 

A history that stretches from the triangle of trade in slave, cash, and cane cargo from Europe to Africa to the Americas and back finds one end in this defunct Domino plant in Williamsburg, up and running until less than a decade ago.

There's so much written out there that I feel I can't add a lot to the conversation, especially since it's scarcely my story to tell.

There was a performance artist there, in green and black tiger print spandex, with a 'hidden' videographer (I didn't see him until later) getting footage of people's reactions to her as she walked the space.

At one point after she'd been there I don't know how long she let out a piercing scream standing in front of the sphinx who dominated the space (and most of the coverage of the exhibition).

She had a partner (also in spandex, black and yellow I think), who gave a simultaneous scream - no words, just an outcry - from the other end of the sphinx sculpture.

I don't know who they are or anything about them.  It wasn't this guy, who seems to have done something along similar lines, but including verbal statement and follow-up. But they were there. They were there on that day, as this art work was there, as generations of factory work happened there, and the work that built this place - this culture, this nation, this economy - happened, in the physical universe, for better and/or for worse, for a few hundred years.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Quick! Look over there!

Aaaand the upload of that last post didn't work and now it's more than a week later.  Ugh.  Here, look at these photos of a pie and a pup and think of something nice:

While we're at it - the dog in that photo is in need of some serious mojo on the health front.  Cast any healing spells you know; send out any vibes, prayers, or simple good wishes, because he's the best and we want him to stick around a good long time, dammit!

Notes from a Saturday Morning

Some quick thoughts while David Rothenberg finishes up this week's radio offering.

As usual, there has been lots of music/film/theater-going.  The Mike Daisey Yes This Man show at Joe's Pub was a standout, as was Casa Valentina.  Daisey has been at the center of quite a little storm on ye olde internets, stemming from the fact that his original title for this piece co-opted the #yesallwomen hashtag (which itself of course was a response to the misguided, not to say asinine, #notallmen hashtag that sprung up as a defensive backlash to the anger stemming from the Santa Barbara murders)  Some of the fiercest opinions came from people who seem [in my opinion] to have been blinded by the old Apple flap [missing the point and, at this point, boring] and/or driven to distraction by the notion of a white man weighing in on Women's Issues [completely understandable, necessary, and to a great extent the point of the show - and this is where it gets interesting: where does he get off doing this? Can anyone speaking from a place of privilege have something valid to contribute to the discussion? Where are the female, trans, queer, not-white-male monologists and performance artists taking on this topic at Joe's Pub? Or anywhere that gathers the kind of media attention that 1) goes along with the Public Theater or similar venues; or 2) seems to pop up when a famous, or semi-famous, man has something to say. Is he just a self-absorbed performer who needs to be loved?] Yes, I get the irony that I am a white dude making this commentary.  My opinions on this topic are extremely humble.  

And, it seems that some people are developing some strong opinions without actually seeing or hearing the work, which in my view is riveting, multi-faceted, and significantly more nuanced than some of the critical reaction would suggest. If you want to go to the crux of it, audio downloads of this and a whole bunch of Daisey's other work is free for the asking.  

Another worthwhile link is this old interview with the late, great Eli Wallach, departed a few days ago, who was a hero on a bunch of levels, and not just because he took time out of the goodness of his heart to talk to a friend of mine who was doing a Tennessee Williams role in Boston that Wallach had originated in New York about 50 years earlier.

Much happening these days.  Houseguest next weekend.  More to come...

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Not Bad for a Sunday Night

Sylvan Esso and Tune-Yards at Webster Hall.

No justice being done here to Sylvan Esso - too far away and WAY too dark (I hear they fixed the lighting for the second night), but you can almost get a sense of Amelia's platform high tops and her moves.  Be assured: Amelia and Nick brought it.  Brought. It.
Tune-Yards with special guests Roomful of Teeth.  There was much rejoicing in the land.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Garu Was Our Favorite

We also loved Pucca.  Not that we were such big fans of the Korean anime series, but we really liked this bag.  

Sadly, time took its toll and eventually every time we'd use the bag, little red flecks would end up on whatever was inside it (and, frequently, whatever was outside in its general vicinity).  So Pucca, Garu, and the bag itself made the trip to the Giant Tote Bag in the Sky.

Thanks for taking care of us all those years...

Friday, June 13, 2014

And so it goes...

Some follow-up may be required.  Last weekend saw a trip to Wisconsin for my Grandmother's memorial.  Yes, she died back around New Year's, but the family made the call (an overall wise one, in my opinion) to hold the memorial event with a lot of notice, making it easier for people to come from far and wide, with the added bonus of not needing to contend with last winter's unremitting frigidity. Which was wonderful in its way, but which of course carried a certain amount of grief, sadness, pain, and family agita (always a healthy dose of family agita).

And, because fate is bitter and mocks us all, a few days before the trip, one of my friends from growing up lost his battle with depression and killed himself.  I can't bring myself to call it luck, but the circumstance of being out there meant that - while still prevented from attending his memorial, I was able to pay my respects to his father and brother, and take said brother out for drinks on a night when I think it's fair to say he could use some out-of-the-house amusement, or at least distraction.

As if that weren't enough (it was quite enough, thank you very much) my extremely-robust-but-there-ain't-no-getting-around-it-OLD Grandfather, who mourns in a way that I don't suppose anyone who hasn't been married for over 70 years can really identify with, had a couple health events of his own.  The first happened the day he arrived: after a 14-hour drive, he and Mom stopped at my aunt's house for supper.  On a trip to the bathroom he stumbled, lost his balance, and fell into the tub - had to go to the emergency room for X Rays. No real damage, but he scraped the hell out of his arms so it was good he was in a place where he could get them bandaged by a pro.  Then, the day after the memorial, which was a celebration but still heartbreaking, a group of us went out for breakfast and grandpa had a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA, sometimes imperfectly referred to as a mini-stroke) about two-thirds of the way through his french toast. His 8-yr-old great-granddaughter (my niece, shown feeding that calf in the last post) was sitting right across from him, eating french toast of her own, and I have to say she held it together remarkably well as I went over and got his attention, helped ease him back to alertness, went through some of the "rule out a for-reals stroke" steps, unhinged his fingers from his coffee cup, and got him standing and out into the parking lot with my cousin Wally. 

That fresh air did him good right away, as he recovered from the overheated sweat he’d broken into.  But of course it also meant another trip to the hospital, which he wanted about as much as a hole in the head.  Once we got him there, kicking and screaming, the visit went about as well as it could have, and it only took a small chunk out of what was going to be our last day in that part of the state before he headed east with one of his daughters.  And Cory and I headed to Madison to take care of the understandably unhinged friend whose brother had died the week before.

So that happened.  And believe it or not, I’m leaving out some of the nastiest stuff.  Now it’s Friday the 13th and it’s raining.  Ruby Dee died, almost exactly the same age as my Grandmother, and I’m listening to some Duke Ellington and we’re seeing Macbeth tonight because fuck curses and fuck bad luck.  Power poses all around.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Wisco Weekend

A lot went on last weekend, a lot of it pretty dark, and the effects will resonate for a while.  But there were some streaks of light.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Weight of the World

Since the recent reports on Global Climate, and the not-coincidental Civilians show The Great Immensity at the Public, I've been thinking a lot about the Adrián Villar Rojas exhibition we caught at the Serpentine last year, Today, We Reboot the Planet.

The floor of the gallery consisted (for this exhibition) of bricks fabricated from native clay in the artist's home country of Argentina.  The bricks were laid without mortar, which meant that they clinked against the sub-floor and each other when people walked on them, creating a constant descant of sound, and conveying the shaky ground we all walk in this pivotal moment of high-stakes environmental poker.

Clay was his primary medium throughout, most prominently in the central image of an elephant bearing the weight of the building - and, as I read the sculpture, bearing up under the weight of development (another kind of 'building'), industry and imperialism with their interlocking versions of environmental effrontery.

A central studio with stained glass gable windows contained dozens of smaller sculptures, also mainly fired clay, with other media, including found objects, mixed in.

Maybe you'll forgive me if I admit that this one, even with its explicit connection to the earth in the form of farm and gardening implements, reminds me of Marvin the Martian.

Happy May Day.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Thoreau is Weeping

You may have seen some things about this on Jon Stewart or FOX News, but you want to take a look at this article, from the Times.

I know, it's from that East Coast Elitist rag, but no one is claiming they are misquoting Freedom-Loving Rancher and purported champion of Civil Disobedience Cliven Bundy when he held forth on “The Negro”:

“They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.”

You know Cliven, when y’all keep saying things like that while you’re waving guns around, people are going to start to think you’re downright unreasonable.

Of course, according to him, Bundy is just a Patriot doing the Lord's work. A confusing kind of patriot, in that he Really Really Loves America while simultaneously denying the authority of the Federal government over Federal land.  Go into the comment thread and banner ads of that article at your own risk.  Personal fave from my first glance: "What would you rather eat... Beef or Solar Panels?"  Yup.  Just keep raising the bar of discourse, guys.

Speaking of beef, lest you think I’m only unhappy with the right wing racist nutjobs out there, I've also got a beef with a quote in that Times article from Rob Mrowka from the Center of Biological Diversity:

“This should not be confused with civil disobedience. This is outright anarchy going on here.”

Well, sheesh Rob!  That’s just flat-out unfair to anarchists.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Happy Birthday Will!

Yes, I've been a slacker blogger, but to this, attention must be paid.

And yes, I know that we're not really sure what Shakespeare's birthday was in 1564, and that the April 23 thing is probably just a too-tidy parallel to his April 23 death date in 1616.  (And I'm not even getting into the question of whether Shakespeare was really Shakespeare.)

But come on - a 450th birthday party?  It's worth a mention.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Bronx Botanicals

At Mary's request, we went to the NY Botanical Gardens for the Orchid show.  Also got to see Philip Haas's Four Seasons sculptures.



Too cold to honor Spring and Summer.  But here are some orchids for you:

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