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Who it is I am

I'm a libertine with a conscience who refuses to acknowledge a distinction between work and play, who believes that you don't get the days back and therefore aspires to embrace the eternally messy present for what it is; a gift. And all gifts should be shared.

Within this framework I'm also a dad, an angel investor, a business owner, deeply passionate about the visual arts, music, literature, technology and politics (the degrees of interest aren't equal and what's posted here is a fair barometer of what captures my attention), and a dedicated philanthropist.

Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes. - Walt Whitman

robert@fastorbit.com

212-671-2030

Affiliations

Updated 09/19/2012

Board Member: Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center "Whenever someone asks me where I studied art, I always say it was at Hallwalls." - Cindy Sherman

Former Board Member: No Longer Empty: No Longer Empty redefines public art through temporary site -specific exhibitions that draw together the vitality of the contemporary art world and the values of building community.

Owner: Fast Orbit, LLC

Owner/Partner: ParkSleepFly.com

Owner/Partner: AirportParkingReservations.com

Owner/Investor: Wireless-NRG: Innovative consumer, commerical and industrial applications using unique solar technology.  Stay tuned for the imminent introduction of the Lillypad (Kudocase) for IPad, IPad2, IPad3.

Owner/InvestorVeenome - a video enabling platform translating video content into machine-readable data for superior organization, publishing, searching and monetization.

Owner/InvestorSocial Prize: Social Prize is a new way of sharing that makes it easy for you to share what you like with your friends and win. For the everyday business owner, Social Prize evens the odds by making it a snap for you to use social sweepstakes as a cost-effective means to get the word out about your business and grow your customer base.

Owner/Investor: uKnow.com:
Smart Tools.  Safer Kids
Keep your kids safe from bad guys and bullies online and on the mobile phone.

Projects & Participation

Updated 09/19/2012

Loan: Oded Hirsch's 50 Blue to Art Miami's curatorial project CONTEXT, December 2012 (curated by Julia Draganovic)

Collector-level Member - Issue Project Room 

Sponsor of Hallwalls
Fall 2012 Music Program

Nora Ligorano/Marshall Reese: Morning In America Ice Sculpture at the RNC/DNC Conventions

Composer Poul Ruders: New Symphonic Music (including a solo piano commission)

Channeling Coltrane: A concert video of "Electric Ascension"

Grammar: A documentary film about Jason Moran

Even Though the Whole World is Burning: A film about the life and work of Poet Laureate, two-time Pulitzer winner, and environmental activist W.S. Merwin.

George: A feature length documentary on George Maciunas, the founder and impresario of Fluxus, the radical international art movement.

Electronic Arts Intermix Benefactor
Founded in 1971, Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI) is a nonprofit arts organization that is a leading international resource for video and media art. A pioneering advocate for media art and artists, EAI's core program is the distribution and preservation of a major collection of over 3,500 new and historical video works by artists. For 40 years, EAI has fostered the creation, exhibition, distribution and preservation of video art, and more recently, digital art projects. 

Sponsor: Kreppa: A Symphonic Poem about the Financial Situation in Iceland
By: Örn Alexander Ámundason, Performed by Metropolis Ensemble, Andrew Cyr, Artistic Director/Conductor
The Armory Show 03/07/2012 The Wall Street Journal Media Lounge

Sponsor of Hallwalls
Winter 2012 Music Program

Sponsor of Hallwalls
Fall 2011 Music Program

Richard Garet (refer to post)
Espacios No-Euclídeos
Curated by Laura Bardier
11 August - 30 October 2011
EAC – Espacio Arte Contemporáneo
Montevideo, Uruguay  http://www.eac.gub.uy

Steve Swell's Nation of We Recording: "The Business of Here"

Producer (one of thousands) of the upcoming 2011 film: Lemonade: Detroit

Contributor: +Pool: A Floating Pool in the River For Everyone

Challenge grant to the Metropolis Ensemble for the recording of composer Timothy Andres on Nonesuch Records Fall 2011.  (Supporting contemporary composition is critical to the health of the culture and visionary Director Andrew Cyr is a living, breathing exemplar of leadership.)

Sponsor: No Longer Empty's About Face art exhibition May/June 2011

Sponsor: Hallwalls Artists & Models 2011 - RAPTURE/RUPTURE May 2011

Principal Benefactor NMC Recordings

Donor of artist Kate Gilmore's (a tireless, fearless creator with a limitless imagination) "Blood From a Stone" to the Brooklyn Museum 2010.

Bedrock financial support for the Cecil Taylor / Tony Oxley 2LP limited edition recording "AILANTHUS / ALTISSIMA bilateral dimensions of 2 root songs" on Triple Point Records.

Sponsor of composer Mayke Nas and artist Joe Diebbes at the 2010 Liverpool Bienniel.

Sponsor of numerous Hallwalls concerts including: Cecil Taylor's 80th birthday performance, Evan Parker & Ned Rothenberg, Henry Grimes solo, Chicago Underground duo, etc.

Commissioned Composer Frederic Rzweski's "Peace Dances" as part of pianist Sarah Cahill's project "A Sweeter Music."

Causes & Contributions

Updated 08/03/2012

UnPac

The Woodshed at the Jazz Gallery

World Food Programme

Jazz Foundation of America

Wordplay: Celebrating Buffalo's Youngest Writers

Join My Village: a click-to-commit social change initiative that gives you the power to inspire charitable donations from companies to women and girls in Malawi through CARE.

Hallwalls

Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy

It Gets Better

Catalog Choice

Village Enterprise Fund

This Week in Tech's (TWIT) new studio

CMH Counseling, Buffalo, NY

Worldreader

Mercy Corp

Food Bank of Western New York

Tuesday
Oct042011

Monk at 94

Kris Bowers, 2011 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition Winner

Thelonious Monk at 94. Goddamn! Time stops for know one. It sure as hell wasn't kind to him. But timelessness is as timelessness does and so I sit here at Winter Garden (in the World Financial Center) celebrating this generation's interpretation of music that does not age. Ever.

Monk's a foundational pillar on which the future of Jazz continues to be built, torn down and built again.

Monk is bedrock. Monk is bone and marrow. Monk is the trunk of a tree that can't be unrooted.

When I need to be reminded of why it is who it is I am, I turn to - among others - Monk (and Ellington and Mingus).

I could take a hackneyed stab at describing how Monk inexplicably tampered with the DNA of Jazz's rhythmic and melodic forms in a way that even the lamest improvisation can't kill (although the jazz harpist Edmar Castaneda, talented though he is, came close) but I won't.

Instead I'll implore you to seek out his music and I'll leave you with the words of a Monk acolyte (the finest in a tiny lineage who got it "right") and one of my heros, the late soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy:

"Monk left us: rhythmic messages, song, quality dreams, games, things to say, things to play, pictures dates lines structure licks insides outsides points details surfaces, parallels rhymes jokes silences, spaces blocks locks melodies, bits harmonies joints corners, edges wedges hedges, bounds rebounds sounds, shocks shapes places faces, traces shadows and lights darkness, fun sadness beauty, ugly duty booty, bounty rich reward, dense intense, research dance trance, spell dwellings bells tellings, smells shells swells, pearls diamonds silver gold rubies ice, hot and cold and old, new time bold schemes, geometry and precision, concision division revision decision, mission, accomplishment, goal, death, redemption, indoctrination, fulfillment."

Tuesday
Oct042011

Marching in Chinatown

It's Tuesday. It's 10am. I'm in a funky four story walkup on the Lower East Side bordering Chinatown (best not to ask).

Out of nowhere there's the sound of a Chinese marching band blairing through the windows.

I walk outside. It's a funeral or some part thereof.  I, along with whoever else happens to be Caucasion and walking by start snapping photos.

Hey, what the fuck? It's New York and I'm a glutton for all of it: "Their" tradition and "my" behavior in its midst.

Back inside now. The performance continues. The music's pretty damn good. Judging by those sounds, I bet he/she lived a good life.

 

Monday
Oct032011

Read it, pass it on and then pass it on again

My sister Julie has a blog.

She wrote this today. It's a nail-studded two-by-four to the heart. Read it, pass it on and then pass it on again.

An Open Letter to My Daughter's Bullies. Including But Not Limited to the Mean Girls.

On my best days, I pray for you. I feel bad for you. I wonder what your home life has sown into you that is now reaping such ugliness. I wonder if your mom and dad know the things you say and do. Maybe you only have one or the other? Maybe they are the ones you have learned this from? Or would they be shocked and disappointed? I work hard not to judge them. Would they say things like, “This is not how we have raised you”? I wonder who’s been mean to you. Have you been bullied too? I remind myself that hurting people hurt people and you are simply acting out of your own pain. I feel a spark of compassion for whatever pain you carry and I feel strangely curious about your internal life–Are you mad? Are you sad? Do you know you’re being mean? Is it on purpose? Do you ever feel guilty? Do you ever feel bad? Do you ever think of my daughter and wonder how she feels? Ever? You didn’t have to be her best friend–just friendly would have been enough. But either way, it’s your loss. She would’ve had your back. She’s loyal. She’s kind. She’s true. She’s brilliantly clever and creative. And funny. But apparently those qualities aren’t trending these days.

On my worst days, I hate you. I hate what you’ve done to my daughter and the way you’ve made her feel. I hate the things you’ve said and done– all the eye-rolling, the smirks, the huffs and the knowing looks between you and your friends. The outbursts of laughter at her expense. The way you have excluded her. The way you have made someone so beautiful and shiny and precious feel so ugly and dull and worthless. The school day memories you have painted with a thousand tears. Hers and mine. It’s petty and wrong and right on your level-but it’s human: There are moments when I want you to be bullied and excluded and hurt the way she has been. I don’t understand you. I don’t understand how on earth you somehow have been tricked into thinking your behavior is okay. I wonder where on earth your parents are. I think things like, “The apple must not fall far from the tree” and I wonder if anyone has ever told you, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” And I think about karma. About what comes around goes around. And I think, I hope you get what you deserve. And then I stop. Because I wasn’t raised that way. Because that isn’t the person I want to be. Because I can’t be the mom I need to be if I’m too busy being bitter and wishing you pain.

But truthfully, most days I don’t have time to let you take up too much space in my head. The day my daughter came home from school sobbing, literally falling through the door and choking out the words, “I can’t do this anymore”, we decided to home school her. That’s right–even though we pay school taxes in one of the most highly rated districts around, we home school her. You go. She doesn’t. You’ve made the price not worth the cost. The suicide of a local boy last month and the deaths of other kids your age are stunning reminders that for now, we have done the right thing. We have made the right choice. We are not hiding our daughter from the reality of life–we are protecting hers. I know you are not the first or last mean person she will meet, but we are giving her a reprieve from you. The school can potentially keep you from being mean by imposing rules and consequences, by initiating expensive anti-bullying campaigns and promoting clever anti-bullying rhetoric, but they can’t make you be nice. And there’s a big difference. They can’t make you like her. It’s not their job to sow love and kindness into your heart so that your life will reap goodness and mercy and grace towards others. But along with reading, writing and arithmetic, that is my job. And I take it very seriously.

Saturday
Sep242011

The tragic utility of remaining stuck

I encounter people, too many people, friends and family, acquaintances and intimates who reside in the perpetuity of a dissatisfied status quo.

Trapped by circumstance. Wedded to "if only." It ( and my god that two letter word covers an immense amount of territory) is always someone else's fault.

The tragic irony is that remaining embedded in painful inertia provides the illusion of comfort. At least the twisted refuge of victimhood is familiar.

Saturday
Sep242011

Sounds from the soil

I first discovered pianist and composer Muhal Richard Abrams, co-founder and spiritual father of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), when I was fifteen. Many LP's, cd's, and mp3's later together with enjoying the privilege of countless live performances in every conceivable instrumental configuration, he's still surprising me.  His Quartet's performance last night - the AACM-New York's fall concert series opener - with Vincent Chancey on french horn, bassist Stomu Takeishi and percussionist Adam Rudolph had an earthy quality, an early autumn tonal palette spanning the colors of leaves as they say goodbye to summer.

Sounds from the Soil

Muhal Richard Abrams
a triptych
unique
edition of one

If you're in the know,
the proper pronunciation
rolls off the tongue
as proclamation;
a boast for some
revered relative
whom all the world
should know

His ear's to the earth
while teaching
black and white keys
to keep majors and minors
in harmony through
odd constellations

It's been said
"Dig in the earth,
delve in the soul"

Tonight's excavation
unearthed pungent brass,
low bass tones and tribal beats

Muhal Richard Abrams
took this harvest's bounty
and wove the quotidian:

-rainy NY night
-four men
-one stage
-small audience

into the unforgettable. 

Wednesday
Sep212011

I couldn't resist

Michael Leavitt's first solo exhibition at the James Levine Gallery (520 West 29th Street), The Art Army Royalty is clever, cool and laugh-out-loud funny.

The show of art world super star action figures opened September 10th and is almost completely sold out. It's not hard to understand the perverse attraction.

Although I felt lucky to snag the Richard Serra figure (who's work I've had the great pleasure to enjoy recently at the Metropolitan (his drawings), Storm King Arts Center, Mass Moca and new Gagosian exhibition), there was this odd concurrent feeling that the joke was on me; collector as unwitting self-deprecator.

The press release hits the nail on the head: "Leavitt’s Art Army is a satire on consumer culture, reducing the collector compulsion of two markets—art and product—into a miniature scale."

Michael Leavitt Richard Serra action figureLeavitt's show closes October 8th so if you're in NY, make the trip to Chelsea.

You can view all the action figures here.

Wednesday
Sep212011

Tight Spot

David Byrne's new sound and sculptural installation for Pace Gallery underneath the Highline on 25 Street (between 10th and 11th Avenue).

David Byrne's "Tight Spot"

 

Tuesday
Sep202011

Nothing but love. Billy Bang, a life affirmed.

Tonight at St. Pete's Church on Lexington and 54th - where most jazz memorials happen - Billy Bang, who passed away on April 11th, 2011 and would have celebrated his 64th birthday tomorrow, was celebrated by a coterie of musicians, family and friends.

If you listened to Bang's music, if his violin playing moved you to dance in ways you never dreamed of dancing, if you caught his irrepressible smile even once, you were a friend.

Tonight's communal honorific was pitch perfect - the key of B of course - as a staggering list of improvisers and poets performed set after set of tuneful adulation.

Although the bio of his early years possess a sad familiarity, Bang helped exorcise his demons with a soulful, southern inflected playing style that didn't eschew virtuosity but recognized it as simply one tool among many. Further, his often jubilant compositions (such as "Nothing but Love") inspire a physical response from the body and stand in stark contrast to his sometimes turbulent life.

I wish we practiced recognition of the living with the same verve we memorialize the dead. That's a tradition I think Billy would've liked.


Monday
Sep192011

Romare Bearden on the block

This is the centennial year of artist Romare Bearden. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is displaying his seminal six panel work "On the Block." It's just enough to whet your appetitie for the upcoming Studio Museum of Harlem's The Bearden Project opening on November 10, 2011.

Bearden's complex portrayal of African American life is as fresh, relevant and influential today as it was in 1971 when "On the Block" was created. The good, the bad, the ugly and the sublime as one supreme mashup.

The six panels of "On the Block" are like sheets of a musical score, different sections drawing your eyes up close in wonderment at various parts of the notation; the juxtapositions repeatedly eliciting a "how'd he do that" shake of the head.

Romare Bearden close up from "On the Block"Romare Bearden close up from "On the Block"

Monday
Sep192011

Paul Motian's elasticity of time

I think it's safe to say that Paul Motian is the de facto house drummer at Jazz's holy house in NYC, the Village Vanguard. At the eighty year mark after a gig filled journey with all the great bebop luminaries of the past 50 years, he's more than earned the honor. Fact is, he only plays in NY now and why not? Let the world come to him; and it does.

Although I'm not sure "working band" is the most apt moniker in the usual sense of the term for his trio with alto saxophonist Greg Osby and pianist Masabumi Kikuchi - Motian enjoys the privilege of shifting his lineups with great frequency - they've played together for over a decade and the final night of their week long run at the Vanguard had all the hallmarks of old friendships rekindled.

I've heard some folks complain that Motian's gotten lazy in his playing. Motian hasn't changed at all. He plays with (literally) time not rhythm, his meter is pliable to the point of elusiveness and he swings like a motherfucker while not swinging at all. It's a glorious aural paradox.

Osby - one of the most underappreciated composers/mentors/performers on the scene today - and Kikuchi effortlessly shifted the sounds current throughout each tune.

The evening ended. The music stopped. But only on stage, not in my mind.

The Village Vanguard, NYC