and this shall be the new portrait

It's musing time again folks. And it's been a couple weeks since I've found enough time to enter data. Data with content, data with tension and release, data with a beginning, middle and an end. Well, things to write about nonetheless have surfaced... so let's get started.

Firstly, last week I had quite the music-filled week. With 4 concerts in one weeks time I really was proud of myself for taking advantage of being in New York City, and being young and forthright enough to go see the live performances. First up was a non-music performance. It was seeing Bill Cosby at the Keswick Theater with my dad for his long-awaiting Christmas present. Bill Cosby has had an important role in the development of my humor from the days of the Cosby show, to when I later in life discovered his early stand up, to that weird movie Ghost Dad and even Picture-pages, Jello Pudding Pops and so on. Now the guy's pretty old, but what I found best about the show was him using his age to his advantage. He came moseying out on stage with  TEMPLE football T-shirt tucked into his TEMPLE track & field sweatpants. He sat on a chair and started his routine moving extra-slow talking about growing up in the neighborhoods right around where the theater was. As the show progressed he seemed to speed up his pace a bit, but watching him function old and slow was a real tweak to an already great comedy show, the delivery was just all that more poignant I feel. So that show was a good time. A few days later I donned my nicest tie, filled 1/2 of my favorite flask with Rowan's Creek and headed to see the New York Philharmonic play some Stravinsky pieces (a piano concerto, Petrushka, and one other bit I forget the name of). The performances were real great. So much to listen to at any one time with Stravinsky. Also, one of my favorite things about going to the symphony alone is the ability to go completely on auto-pilot. I sit down in my seat and try and pay attention to the music, but also love the pseudo-trance it puts me in to go off in daydreams about ideas that don't have the mental-silence enough to normally rear their head from my subconscious. I met a nice choral teacher during the intermission who approved of my flask-toting and all in all had a good time. Perhaps my favorite symphonic performance since last August in Prague seeing Brahms Symphony no.4 while sitting directly above the musicians in a really old theater that I hope has stood since the days of Mozart in those parts. So that was  a Thursday night. One night later, and third in my series of performances was a house show by David Bazan. I went with my coworker Groana and a bottle of wine to a small office/apartment to see what I think was the most honest performance I've seen in a long time. He sings of very personal things, and between each song has very open and honest discussions with the audience about personal things which I found real great. Maybe almost as great as the music. You can tell this guy has some monkeys on his back and is trying to deal with them with his music and its something that I think people can really relate to. It's a content-rich music that for sure. If you have time and interest, I strongly suggest you take a gander at this link of David Bazan's interview, if to only listen to the clips which are pretty similar to what our show was like. LINK HERE . Now, on the other end of things was 2 nights later at the Jonsi (of Sigur Ros) performance. This show i went with Fiamma, Giona and Stephanie after a delicious Malaysian meal and a taxi-ride where Fiamma's palm was read by the cabbie while simultaneously driving up the west side highway. This show was also a great performance even though I'd say the opposite of the David Bazan performance. Here we saw a young guy playing a show that was ripe with visual elements like videos/lighting elements/ costumes and such. His music is very emotive, yet something about it does seem a bit insincere. Furthermore, all of the songs are basically the same (with half being weepy and half being real drum-heavy-excited). If you don't like one song then you probably don't like any of them.... But I particularly enjoy his brand of music, so while it was a large show with lots of dramatics, I thought it was great. And that was my week of 4 totally different, yet all great performances. I think I got my fill for a little bit, but do know of a comedy show as well as 2 other music shows coming up which will keep me assuaged.

On a different note: I've been thinking alot about reduction. I notice that in my life, and what I presume to be a large-portion-of-the-western-world's-lives, we really take advantage of the niceties that the current world allows. However, and I'm sure I won't be as eloquent as I'd like to be with this point, I think that if we were to all just reduce our comforts slightly, we could do the world a world of good. Perhaps I romanticize this view, but I think about the days at the turn of the 20th century when people had to eat what they could farm or buy at that time of the year in that part of the world. Eating meat was a special occasion, and showers and car-rides were not daily chores but happened infrequently. Now I am not advocated making our lives this war-time drastic.... But I notice how much water I probably waste when I take a long shower, or even shower twice a day because of going to the gym. And I think about the amount of money I spend on things like 4 concerts a week when there's a portion of the world that could use that money for much more dire needs. I think about the amount of cars that travel to and fro works with only one passenger. I think about all of the trashcans I pass on my walk to work and how they will be emptied and filled countless more times. And how they are just one trashcan in one city in one part of the world. When I think about these scenarios on such a mass scale, I start to see how reducing our comforts even if only slightly would help the world so much. For instance, what if everyone in the world who showers daily for 10-15 minutes changed their habit to showering every other day for 5 minutes at a time. It wouldn't be a smelly world, no one would even notice, and imagine all of the water we would save. Or what if we Americans just cut back our meat consumption, or even over-consumption slightly. Think of how much healthier we would all be, think of all the food that could then go to starving people. What if instead of buying ourselves the 3rd CD in a row, or 3rd outfit in a row, we settled for only having 2 new CDs/Jeans and put that little bit of money to catastrophes in the world that need funding? Now I know there are small awareness steps like that one day in March where everyone is supposed to not use electricity. An earth-day-type effort and it's got a good concept... but think how much less energy the world would use, if everyday, from 8-9pm everyone in the world who didn't need electricity for dire reasons, turned off their lights and TV's and spent some time playing board games or reading by candle, or even just allowing the quietness of the non-televised time at home to have real discussions with their family members. I feel like all of these changes are relatively small and easy to do. All have benefits in multiple ways, and if were followed through on a global scale could really positively effect our world and lives. I know it's a tangent and far-fetched notion that most likely will never happen until its too late. But I strongly feel that if we keep over-using our means like we are, that at some point it will become a drastic necessity as opposed to a preemptive decision.

On a different note still: I don't know if you've ever visited me in Brooklyn. But if you have, there's a chance we've waited in a 30-90 minute line under the Brooklyn Bridge so we could eat some delicious Grimaldi's Pizza (pepperoni & extra basil obviously) with a caraffe of their house wine and a cannoli. And there's a good chance at one point, before engulfing the best pizza of your life you questioned the long line. Well, these lines might change in two ways with the new Grimaldi's on 20th Street in Manhattan. LINK HERE . Now I am by no means going blindly into this new slice-optioned face of Grimaldi's tradition, but I am certainly excited to try the pizza. It's open 24 hours AND you can just buy slices?! If the pizza's half as good its going to be a great outlet for us New Yorkers. I still may hold my own tradition of: line-waiting, grumpy Italian man asking me how many is in my party, getting happy on the cheap wine as it gets tastier with each slice, cannolis on a full stomach, but this expansion is certainly not one that I am arguing against... at least not without trying first.

On yet another note: I went on a great hike out by the Bear Mountain Bridge this past weekend with Ed Kaczinski and Craig One. We had a nice time and it felt good to get out of the city, be in a car, be in the wilderness in the early sunday morning breezes and be high above the Hudson. The fun hike was then augmented by a quick sojourn to Cold Spring where I bought an old timey baseball bat and had what could possibly be my favorite bowl of Chili ever. I challenge anyone to try and out-cook that chili wherein I will proudly serve as taste-tester.

Another little bit I got to taste test yesterday was some delicious art at the MET museum. I went with my old college roomate from Germany, Philipe Gerlach. We had a great time on a nice day, and as I strolled through the museum I was making notes in my sketchbook of pieces that I admired. And flipped through that book and realize that I have visited that museum so many times, and even get constantly inspired by the same works. For instance, there's  a self portrait of De Chirico that I particularly liked on this last trip, and apparently also liked enough to note it down in November of 2005. I think if I ever had to live in a museum and never leave, the MET is the museum I would choose. It's pretty amazing. I am going to upload a couple of pics that inspired me this past time, as well as some other ones that I researched post the visit:

This first piece is a nude study by Henri Lehmann that I had never seen before. I knew of his other works, but this one was new and I really enjoyed the unfinishedness of it. Pierre Puvis De Chavannes also has similar works in mid-process and boy do I like that look. It also reminded me of that unfinished Napoleon portrait by Picasso that I enjoy but can't currently find. Maybe its not Napoleon?

The above few are lithographs by Moriz Jung but they might as well be woodcuts as far as I'm concerned. Reeeal nice.

These Modiglianis were not at the MET, but I like it all the same. This guy always gets me inspired to paint because its all seemingly so simple yet so beautiful in person. Books don't really do his work justice, but in person... sheeeesh! Now the following pieces are all Roy Lichtenstein pieces. I usually overlook this guy in the history of art that I am concerned with, but he's reeeal good sometimes, and that sometimes was yesterday. People like Roger Shimomura who I also enjoy have used his works as a catalyst for their own, and I can see why... so good sometimes, here's some for you

And another thing:  I am not sure. I am unsure of this, but I don't know how many people actually read these musings. Perhaps its my infrequency of writing, or perhaps it's that the musings are too far hidden within the site. I am sure there is no blame to be had, but how about rewards to be given? So, if anyone reads this far in the musing within 2 weeks of its posting, just email me HERE with your name and address and I will send you a woodcut of appreciation~~!~~~ That's fun right?

And just for some more fun, here's some funny signage that really got me feeling alright recently:

And lastly, here is my favorite Gchat I've had in a while with my old German Roomate from 2001-2002:

    ok, will be in meatpacking in some beargarden under the railway track
    bear garden!  AAAHHH!!!! be careful!!!
    hahah. beer
    pheuw. i was nervous there for a second
    me either

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