Washington Square Park. Sunny summer day. Haze and humidity on a hiatus so terse to be apocryphal. Lined with benches, reading's the order of the day until the chef chose a different menu.
Enter from the south and a take a seat.
On my left, a squirrel feeding guitarist strums the same three chords with zen like amusement.
On my right, a young oriental couple practices ballroom dancing with the intensity of, well, ballroom dancers. The same steps over and over until perfection or exhaustion prevails.
Behind me a jazz combo plays as if their lives depend on it. I'm guessing it does. That's what makes it sound so good.
Out front, a mass of kids are splashing in the circular central fountain. What appears aimless is improvised innocence composed by childhood with a backdrop courtesy of love-to-hate-em' Moses. Clumps of fleshtone, acqua, splash and mirth, an intoxicating abstraction.
Exiting north, in front of Holley's bust is a lithe, athletic trio of graceful dancers. NYU students no doubt. Hat out in front. Worth a few bucks for sure.
I'll be back. WSP, like the city itself, never stops performing.
Alighirero Boetti. Only knew the name and reputation. MOMA smart to devote the atrium to his woven marvels. Boetti's penchant for complex patterns and transfusion of high-concept, unremarkable material and locally informed craft captivate the mind and eye. Don't miss it.
A "center of the universe" evening. Karlheinz Stockhausen's Gruppen for three orchestras surrounding the audience has only been performed in the US a few times since being composed in 1957. I had the privilege of first hearing it at Tanglewood in 1988.
Maestros Alain Gilbert, Magnus Lindberg and Matthias Pintscher conducting members of the NY Philharmonic did a superb job of swathing us in elaborate tempos, rich sonorities and mystifying rhythmic blocks.
Gruppen's a masterpiece, the venue - Park Avenue Armory - wisely chosen, the rest of the program a waste by comparison. What they should have done, as happened at Tanglewood, was perform Gruppen twice asking audience members to switch positions within the space. The music changes radically depending on your vantage point; that's essential to its alchemy.
Rarely has folklore and fantasy, grit, grime, poverty and stubborn personal sovereignty pirouetted amongst disparate constituents with such dexterity on the silver screen. Rejoice at getting lost in the narrative as you teeter between dream and nightmare, triumph and travail. It doesn't all add up. It's not neat and tidy. Be thankful for it. Bravo to first time filmmaker Benh Zeitlin. Beasts of The Southern Wild is headed to the Oscars.
|John Zorn's place The Stone, a summer sauna masquerading as performance venue (hey, I'm not complaining, I'm just sayin') at 2nd and Avenue C hosted several performances of the Northern Spy Festival. One of the highlights was the pianist Angelica Sanchez's duet with polymath Rob Mazurek. I enjoy Sanchez but Mazurek destroys me - not only his stunning facility on trumpet and flugelhorn but his ingenuity in creating spontaneous, genreless music. He's all over the stylistic map - unconcerned with borders - crafting grooves on the fly, pivoting on a dime, keeping this listener on the edge of his seat. Anyone who can make you forget you're melting into a puddle of your own sweat is worth pursuing with vigor.
Pomp and circumstance on July 4th as the Macy's spectacle diversion factor glimmered out my bedroom window. I went down to Battery Park the next morning to see if Lady Liberty was still standing. It was humid. She was obscured by the steam bath swelter. Might've been tipping slightly. Couldn't be sure.
And yet hope springs eternal the following day as one of this country's finest citiziens, Euguene Chadbourne, performs standards from the classic American repetoire to restore my faith in democracy if only for a moment. Fuck Obama. I'm writing in CHADBOURNE. (Another performance at The Stone in the Northern Spy Festival series.)
|Bassist Mark Helias is perennially underrated. His new band with saxophone stalwart Tim Berne swings like a motherfucker and the tunes twist, turn, and doubleback all while motivating your toes to tap, your head to bob, and your voice to gasp at the joyous virtuosity. Hope the set was recorded.|
|*Post title comes from the name of the classic Julius Hemphill recording.|
Reimagining Coltrane’s Ascension: Kickstarter Campaign - only 12 days remaining
On September 7 of this year Rova will present Electric Ascension at the Guelph Jazz Festival, near Toronto, Canada. The band for the September concert is Rova plus Nels Cline, Fred Frith, Hamid Drake, Carla Kihlstedt, Jenny Scheinman, Rob Mazurek, Chris Brown and Ikue Mori. The Rova:Arts project that has enjoyed the most successful run since 2000 is this re-imagining of John Coltrane’s mighty late-period masterwork, Ascension.
Right now, Rova and film-maker John Rogers are asking you to take a look at our Kickstarter site and consider helping us document this one-time only concert of Electric Ascension. All the reasons for donating $10 or more for a stand-alone concert video of a one-time-only performance at Guelph Jazz Festival are laid out in the 8 minute video on the Kickstarter site. We can’t make a professional-quality shoot of this concert without your help, and we know you’ll feel good being part of the group that made it possible. Click here: http://kck.st/MAzbMx
The long dry spell's on spin cycle.
Power cord is out of reach.
Misogyny on cracked lips crescendos in feeble sour spunk.
The sheer willpower to remember this one's name
drains the blood from the shaft at twice the speed
of sobriety's flickering apparition.
This sandstorm's arid as dry mouth
and the nearly dead eludes
the permanent patch of black
[the courtesy of immutably sealed eyelids]
through the sympathetic torment of
buzzing flies and biting ants.
Litigation stings a leathered cheek.
Familial guilt pricks an aching chest.
An unquiet mind contorts memory
like a kaleidoscope pointed towards a blinding sun.
The hues are Bacon's, not Monet's.
On the ropes, no sign of an Ali miracle.
The count's at 8.
If I were a betting man...
If I were a betting man...
12 hour marathon this year...amazing as always. No organization has erased the barriers, real and imagined, between the uptown (academic) and downtown (not) composing and performing communities with the zeal, steadfastness or irreverence of Bang on a Can. Their flippancy towards rigid definitions of genre permits the high-and-lowbrow to mix and merge.
They - founders David Lang (now a Pulitzer Prize winner - goddamn how times have changed), Julia Wolfe, and Michael Gordon - were instrumental in the emancipation of sound from tidy labels.
It's Vision Festival week - year 15 or 16 for me.
I'm mightily tempted to list a long bundle of grievances that have accumulated over time like a middle age grudge against mom or dad; pathetic but real.
And then I'll hear a quartet like Paul Dunmall, Matthew Shipp, Joe Morris and Gerald Cleaver and the music whacks the curmudgeon unconscious, laughing incredulously as it says: Get over it!
Natasha Trethewey was appointed poet laureate of the United States last Thursday 06/07/2012. She takes the reins from poet Philip Levine.
The Library of Congress is to announce Thursday that the next poet laureate is Natasha Trethewey, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of three collections and a professor of creative writing at Emory University in Atlanta. Ms. Trethewey, 46, was born in Gulfport, Miss., and is the first Southerner to hold the post since Robert Penn Warren, the original laureate, and the first African-American since Rita Dove in 1993.
Source: NY Times
You can read the full NY Times article here.
There's a concise biographical entry at the Poetry Foundation.
Tretheway won the Pulitzer Prize in 2007 for her collection of poems Native Guard. These poems interlace a racial narrative perambulating between past and present, reexamining burdensome legacies personal and public.
The book is brief and when reading it there were moments I felt I was trespassing on her diary - discomfiting, alluring and congruent with the pulse of Fast Orbit.
Tretheway's poems also provoke a thorny reigniting of my cognitive dissonance over whether we're living - or should be living - in a post racial era.
Is this an epoch when experiencing life's rich pageant through the prism of historical injustice is as useful to our ideal of achieving E pluribus unum or as resonant as creative source material as it once was?
Native Guard is explicitly racial. Some of the poems are concurrently stale and riveting.
The notion of post racialism is fraught with trip wires, especially for a white guy.
And why go there at all? Just thinking about it is like wearing clothes two sizes too small; you're constantly squirming. But I've spent much of my life reaping the rewards of African American culture for the same reason Willie Sutton robbed banks and it influences the state and evolution of my identity.
I don't have answers. I'm thankful there are folks asking questions directly and indirectly about ifs, shoulds or shouldn'ts, whys and why nots.
A few titles either recently read or in queue include:
The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness, by Kevin Young
Who's Afraid of Post-Blackness, by Toure
How to Be Black, by Baratunde Thurston
The Iris ensata
in arid ground
The lone Amaryllis
late summer soil
The gazelle dashes
through dense traffic
Seen only as one sees
through mist or fog -
as a witness to the collision
of truth and illusion
Fictive but not ficticious
Auteur Wes Anderson has crafted a gleaming gem of a film in Moonrise Kingdom, his most accomplished work.
The kids possess certainty and wisdom, the adults are adrift, whimsy and melancholy blend seamlessly and the attention to detail in every frame is exquisite. Contemporary contrivance is often paradoxically antithetical to the suspension of disbelief; not here.
Moonrise Kingdom is delightful in its sorrows and heartbreaking in its mirth. Watching, reflecting, I wished for memories that were not mine.
Sharply distinct from the bathos and emotional pornography produced en masse, this film elicits genuine tenderness.
When I wasn't laughing, I was smiling. When I wasn't smiling it was only because the film had ended and the city's bustle (though I love her dearly) was jarring.