Posts Tagged ‘music’

Memories are Motionless

June 2, 2016

“Memories are motionless, and the more securely they are fixed in space, the sounder they are.” – Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space

tribeca $1900 300sqft

Earlier today, taking a break from painting, I googled studio prices in NYC to check out the going rate. The above studio is on the market in Tribeca. For 300 sq. ft. you will pay $1875.00/month!

Once upon a time, I rented a painting studio of my own. The space was larger than the the space above. For 400 sq. ft. I paid $400.00/month. Situated above a clock store in Williston Park on Long Island, a decidedly unhip but affordable and convenient location at the time,  northern light flooded my studio all day long. I was in heaven.

Excited to have a dedicated workspace I could get as dirty as I wanted, I laid down a roll of cheap linoleum, moved in my work table and supplies and got to work.

One morning as I arrived, the proprietor of the store below me was standing amidst a forest of chiming grandfather clocks, front door open. He introduced himself right away and asked me what I was up to, mentioning he always heard music playing. He then said he enjoyed (rather than objected to) the music and seemed a bit tickled to find out that someone was making art in the space above him instead of preparing tax returns or teaching traffic school.

I fondly recalled my studio days as I stepped back from the easel this afternoon to assess the progress of a new painting. My studio is the second bedroom of the two bedroom apartment we rent in Queens. I never did put down linoleum, but I guess I should have.

It’s fun to fantasize about the days when I painted full time as I spend my days off from a dreadful office job. I’m not complaining, per se, but occasionally on days like these I enjoy torturing myself by thumbing through an artist book I own called Studios by the Sea. 

To refer back to Bachelard in Poetics of Space, he writes: “…even when we no longer have a garret, when the attic room is lost and gone, there remains the fact that we once loved a garret, once lived in an attic. We return to them in our night dreams.”

This is so true. At heart, I’m a romantic. A big part of me loves to dream and yearn. Loves the yearning part more than the actual getting. The aroma of coffee beans in the grinder more delicious than drinking the brew. As I flipped through Studios by the Sea I wished and imagined. Sometimes walking around NYC, I will find myself gazing longingly at a 19th century townhouse on the Upper East Side — yearning to live there. And enjoying every minute of yearning.

During my recovery from a broken ankle last summer, I would pass a particular townhouse on East 63rd St. on the way to physical therapy. A painting hanging on the wall by artist Caio Fonseca was visible through the expansive front window. It held my eye each time I passed by. His work is a favorite of mine. As I stopped to gaze, I conjured an entire fantasy scenario based upon seeing his work hanging in that space. On the landing beneath the painting an elegant ebony grand piano, keyboard exposed, was poised to be played. Above hung a glittering crystal chandelier. Aware Fonseca played the piano, I was convinced it was a Steinway and that Fonseca lived in the townhouse.

But he didn’t live in the townhouse as I would come to find out. The scene – his painting, the piano, the splendor of the decor  – had been staged by a real estate agent, likely another “romantic” like myself. That agent, through his or her design, had gifted me many evenings of yearning and pleasurable wanderings.

Fantasy is better than the reality. I suppose people who invest in their “dream house” spend the rest of their lives “making it even better than they imagined” with continual remodeling because intrinsically they know that dreams are never realized. Otherwise, they would no longer be dreams.

…the house shelters daydreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.” – Bachelard

 

Meme Girl

March 30, 2012
This describes me, at the office…
*   *   *
(Thanks to Sunday Stealing for the meme and The New Yorker for the ‘toon)
*   *   *
  • Which TV character do you think you are most like?
Peggy Olsen of Mad Men
  •  What time do you go to bed?
When I’m tired – that’s usually around 10:00 p.m., like clockwork.
  •  What was the last meal you made from scratch?
Spaghetti with garlic, olive oil, parsley and red pepper flakes. A relatively quick and delicious meal, especially with lots of locatelli romano cheese, and easy to prepare after work.
  •  What is your favorite type of music?
Savoy Family Band
I like ALL types of music. I especially love cajun (Savoy Family Band) and zydeco (Beausoleil), classical (Beethoven), swing (Benny Goodman), Doo Wop, Led Zeppelin and  the Blues (Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, old Stones, John Lee Hooker).
  •  In what position do you sleep?
Lying down.
  •  What is your first memory?
My two-year old birthday party in Brooklyn when I fell in the toilet bowl (I was a very skinny kid) and had to scream for my grandmother to get me out.
  •  What is your least favorite smell?
Bad breath. Makes me gag. I once worked with this woman named Gert who had denture breath. It was beyond horrible. Like dead body smell.
  • It’s your round at the pub and your friends asked you to surprise them. What drink would you buy and why?
Adult Hot Chocolate
1 1/2 oz peppermint schnapps
6 oz hot chocolate
1/2 – 1 oz whipped cream
Warm your mug first. Put the schnapps into your mug, and fill it with hot chocolate. Top with whipped cream, and chocolate shavings.
(I’m not a big drinker; I’m satisfied with one drink of whatever – wine, beer or a cocktail. Besides, I love hot chocolate or coffee — with a kick).
  •  What was the last thing you read/watched that made you cry?
Sad-eyed, timid, listless doggies that were bred in a puppy mill and up for adoption on CBS news this morning.
  •  They say that you learn something new every day. What was the last thing you have learned?
This morning, I began reading “New York Diaries (1609 to 2009),” a birthday gift from a good friend. It’s a compilation of random diary excerpts from famous and not so famous individuals, ranging from 9/11/1609 to 9/11/2009, and it’s just fascinating. This morning, I read this particular entry:
*   *   *
January 17, 1934: Went to that Gypsy Tea Room for lunch at Fifth Ave. and 38th…They sit with their teacups already overturned waiting for a gypsy to sit down at their table…A cat roams about and a kettle hangs on three sticks.
*  *  *
I was intrigued to learn that this Gypsy Tea Room, which I remember exactly as described above and which I frequented in the 1980s to have my tarot cards read, had been around as far back as 1934! (Not there anymore but I found a listing for a Gypsy Tea Room on 20th Street in Chelsea!)
  •  Which Literary love interests would you snog, marry and avoid.
Snog: Heathcliff
Marry: Atticus Finch
Avoid: Howard Roark
  •  What is your oldest memory?
Back in Brooklyn again. In the bedroom I shared with my sister. One night, my mother draped a piece of red cloth over our lamp to dim the glow and create a sort of nightlight. It caught fire. Somehow, I awoke in time to see the flames and called out for my mother, who came to the rescue.
  •  Paperback, Hardback or Kindle? Which of these is your favorite reading format and why?
Mostly paperback (trade fiction size), easier to hold on the subway. But I have been thinking of the Kindle lately. A foreign associate we use at work (from England) just published an e-book through Amazon – a political thriller with dry British humor (called The Schmetterling Effect). One of the characters (like the author) is a patent attorney. I read a few short chapters this morning, free of charge. It’s pretty darn good! I’d like to read the entire book. It’s for sale for 99 cents on Amazon–but only if you own  a Kindle.
  • If you could bring back any canceled TV series for another run what would you pick and why?
I’m afraid one of my favorites, Southland,
a great police drama, strong characters, excellent writing — which we download on iTunes — might be canceled! It’s highly rated by the critics, but it doesn’t make enough millions of dollars, apparently, for TNT’s very hungry coffers.
Hey, TNT: Life is short; Art is long.
*  *  *
What T.V. character are you like? I’d love to know…

Bruce Springsteen

March 11, 2012

Have you heard this song yet?

from his new CD, “Wrecking Ball”

This is beautiful. I’m speechless.

Playlist for 2012 for Playtime at Home

January 5, 2012

Thinking Outside of the Box

OMG, what an annoying day at work. Talk about High School Confidential  – a cabal of office workers GOSSIPING as if their life depended on it.

Well…I came home and decided to cook and try to forget about small-minded people. Cooking, at the right time and place, is something I love doing — as long as the iPod player is cooking, too.

On the menu:

Peppers and Eggs (because in NYC, I am reunited with my beloved Italian frying peppers and thoughts of my parents’ kitchen  — Italian peppers were unknown, unfindable in my former residence, L.A.)

A hybrid recipe combining what I’d learned (by watching) as a kid and what I gleaned from Frank Pellegrino’s Rao’s Cookbook (steam the peppers and onions, instead of frying – healthier).

But…this time, I had leftover shallots, so I diced them, FRIED them in olive oil (let’s face it, a slightly browned shallot or onion is to die for), added the peppers, covered the pan and let them steam for 10 minutes.

Poured a glass of Chateau Ste. Michelle chardonnay, still in the fridge, a gift from dear friends visiting on the eve of New Year’s — unbelievably delicious.

Queued up the iPod:

Bad As Me – Tom Waits (from his new album) – INCREDIBLE!!!!

– Cracked the eggs into a bowl (as  I learned on a old Jacques Pepin video – crack them on the SIDE – no shells in the egg mixture – PERFECT!

– Next on the queue: Baby I Don’t Care – Elvis Presley  (if you think the real Elvis is the one you heard on AM radio, you are so WRONG!)

– Took out the fork (also from Jacques Pepin – use a fork, NOT a whisk, for a perfect blend) and beat the eggs…

Largo al Factotum (Figaro, Figaro, Figaro…) (Barber of Seville) – OMG, so beautiful and exciting as I beat the eggs – I add some Locatelli Romano, black pepper and a tiny pinch of salt to the egg mixture, continue beating…

– Taste the peppers – about five minutes to go…I heat a croissant in the toaster oven –  I am decadent tonight with no thoughts of calories…

Una Voce Poco Fa (also from The Barber) begins – I am enraptured!!! Ecstatic!!!

– Pour the egg mixture into the peppers and shallots, stir around gently…

– Pour more wine; Voce Poco Fa  is crescendo-ing…

– Croissant is ready – I take it out…

– Flip the peppers and eggs (I remind myself to get a stove-to-oven pan to avoid the step of “flipping”)

– from iPod player: The Barroom Girl by Chuck Wells – ahhhh, the sublime juxtaposition!!!

– Peppers and eggs are ready; slide them onto an oven-proof dish for warming up later when my man gets home from work…

– Slice open the croissant, place a couple of wedges of the peppers and eggs on top, drizzle the AMAZING “Austin’s Own” Original- Mild Barbecue sauce on top – a gift from my brother in TX and his very special S.O.

– Take a bite…and I’m in HEAVEN with scrumptiousness!!!

– suddenly, on the iPod: Be-Bop-A-Lula by Gene Vincent (which makes me think of an excellent movie scene in: The Year of Living Dangerously (a gem of a Peter Weir film) – where that song is playing, and in Saigon!!! During the war!!!

– bite into my sandwich — OMG, it is SO good..

Because the Night starts playing — no.. not Bruce Springsteen (though he wrote it, of course, propers to him…) — not Patti Smith (an amazing cover!!)… no…my favorite rendition by Natalie Merchant (10,000 Maniacs – MTV Unplugged) – if you’ve never heard it, you must find it. It’s ravishing…

– almost done with my fantastic meal…then, Airmail Special by Benny Goodman starts playing – my brother, Will, turned me on to this piece — and, what can I say? Thank you, Will! It really SENDS me!!!

Life is beautiful 🙂 and Good Night!

Tis the Season

December 17, 2009

The arrival of the holiday season has been a gift. Besides the twinkling lights and general bonhomie, the business world has slowed down. I’ve been able to put aside the job search without guilt and accept the fact that no one is going to grant me an interview until after the start of the New Year.

Normally, I’d still be obsessing over this worrisome reality, were it not for a little volume that’s been lingering on my bookshelf for years, waiting for me to pick it up. The other night the right moment had arrived. I flipped it open for the first time and began reading.

The book contains the Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali. An instructive and rather profound little book, the teachings are based on methods that are over 2000 years old.

A simple visualization found inside these pages captured my attention right away.

I’ve been conjuring this image for the past several days:

Picture a clear lake in which you can clearly see the bottom.

The lake represents the mind.

The bottom of the lake represents the Atman (the spirit that dwells inside the body) — in other words, your true self.

Your thoughts create ripples on the lake.

Minor ripples will blur your vision of  your true self. Major ripples will create waves.

If the lake’s surface becomes agitated by waves, the water muddies and the bottom of the lake cannot be seen.

Performing this visualization has helped me keep my lake, for the most part, clear as glass.

Yet, losing sight of the bottom of the lake — my authentic self — through over-thinking and worry (which solves nothing, let’s face it) is deceptively easy. Particularly when it comes to the job-search.

It has dawned on me that I’ve been trying to sell myself to potential employers as someone I most definitely am not — with the hopes of getting group health insurance. Maybe that’s why there haven’t been any job interviews.

So, last night, when the urge to play the piano overtook me, I walked away from the computer and indulged myself and played for almost two hours. I can’t remember the last time I have done that. My fingers literally sailing over the keys, the playing had come so easily and my pleasure was so deep, despite nearly two years of no practice whatsoever.

I had to wonder, did I play so well because I’d been allowed clear access to an area in my brain that had not been muddied by erroneous thinking and worry?

Did emptying my mind of useless cogitation widen the space or vacuum the filter and permit the good to filter in?

I’m not sure, but I don’t plan on giving it any more thought. I wouldn’t want to muddy the lake, because there is nothing more peaceful than gazing into the still waters of yourself.

How To Smile (Even When You Don’t Feel Like It)

November 7, 2009

1) Surf YouTube — I cannot begin to tell you how happy I became when I found this nostalia-laced video on YouTube. After spending most of the day hooked to my computer via headphones and listening to chapter upon chapter of a Saharan tutorial on the “awesomeness” of Microsoft Word 2007 (their quote, not mine), I was desperate to experience a little joy. And, then, like magic there was Sonny and Cher…

2) Scroll Through Your iTunes Library — now that I no longer have a car, I’ve been missing the many hours I’d spend cruising the freeway with my stereo at full tilt listening — and singing at the top of my voice — to my favorite songs.

Taking a break from “How to Merge Files,” I started scrolling through my iTunes library, headphones cranked up, clicking on MP3s, willy-nilly, and suddenly I, and my imagination, were speeding through the desert at 95 m.p.h. belting out songs. Here are the names of some that made me soar:

  1. Sloop John B (The Beach Boys)
  2. Make Me Smile (Chicago)
  3. Don’t Be Cruel (Cheap Trick)
  4. Respect (Aretha Franklin)
  5. Fun, Fun, Fun (The Beach Boys)
  6. You Should Be Dancing (The Bee Gees)
  7. Cumbia del Sol (The Blazers)
  8. Rock and Ree Ah Zole (The Bobettes)
  9. Wasn’t Born to Follow (The Byrds)
  10. On the Road Again (Canned Heat)
  11. Sweet Little Sixteen (Chuck Berry)
  12. Fortunate Son (Creedance Clearwater Revival)
  13. Runaround Sue (Dion and the Belmonts)
  14. Love Me Two Times (The Doors)
  15. Express Yourself (Dr. Dre)
  16. You Belong to Me (The Duprees)
  17. Searchin’ (The Coasters)
  18. Yellow (Coldplay)
  19. I Only Want to Be With You (Dusty Springfield)
  20. Pump It Up (Elvis Costello & the Attractions)
  21. Hound Dog (Elvis Presley)
  22. Farmer’s Daughter (Fleetwood Mac)
  23. Every Time You Walk In the Room (The Searchers)
  24. Baila Me (The Gypsy Kings)
  25. Dreams (The Cranberries)
  26. King Porter’s Stomp (Benny Goodman)
  27. Get Up Offa That Thing (James Brown)
  28. Dallas (Jimmy Dale Gilmore)
  29. NY Pycho Freylekhs (The Klezmatics)
  30. Take This Waltz (Leonard Cohen)
  31. Cumbia Raza (Los Lobos)
  32. Darlin’ Be Home Soon (The Lovin’ Spoonful)
  33. I’ll Take You to the Candy Shop (50 Cent)
  34. I’m a Soldier of the Army of the Lord (Lyle Lovett)
  35. Dedicated to the One I Love (The Mamas and the Papas)
  36. Let Me Blow Your Mind (Missy Elliot)
  37. Across the Universe (Rufus Wainwright)
  38. Love Letters in the Sand (Pat Boone)
  39. Can’t Truss It (Public Enemy)
  40. We Are the Champions (Queen)
  41. Comme Facette Mammeta (Renzo Abore)
  42. I Met Him on a Sunday (The Shirelles)
  43. Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine In (The Fifth Dimension)
  44. Too Much Pork for Just One Fork (Southern Culture on the Skids)
  45. Cakewalk Into Town (Taj Mahal)
  46. Joy to the World (Three Dog Night)
  47. It’s Hot in Here (Nelly)
  48. Wild Thing (Tone Loc)
  49. Theme from Sponge Bob Square Pants

This was a very self-indulgent post and for that I apologize. But it sure was fun! I hope you can relate.