Tweedly-Tweet   (2015Aug30)

Sunday, August 30, 2015                                         2:28 PM

I always knew I was special—and now I have proof. This morning I listened to a great YouTube of Leonard Bernstein conducting the Beethoven Symphony No. 6 (Pastoral) in F, Opus 68.

So maybe I had nature on the brain—but then I went to lie down and listen to myself. It’s not as self-centered as it sounds—I play CDs I’ve burned of my improvs, so that I have something to listen to while I roll cigarettes or watch close-captioned TV on mute or read a book.

I usually play it pretty low volume—just enough to hear it well without it actually striking my eardrums (I’m a sensitive flower) especially if I’m trying to read. By doing this I can hear when a particular improv has a sour note or an ugly passage—any awkwardness of execution, beyond the endemic. It interrupts my thinking—because, like everyone else, I’m used to perfect music coming out of loudspeakers—it’s almost impossible to imagine an album with a sour note on it. Not surprising, since a recording studio is basically a perfection filter that catches any trace of clumsiness and rules it right out—not that there’s anything wrong with that…..

I’m occasionally, pleasantly surprised by a bit of musical soaring that catches my ear in a rare piece—something that makes me proud. These are important for several reasons—one, obviously, it encourages me to continue playing Don Quixote on the keyboard. But I also play them back repeatedly, trying to take note of what I did and why it works and how I might use it in future.

There are, among those rare moments, even rarer instances where the key to what makes a passage striking is the emotional energy—not something I’m famous for, but it shows its head every decade or so. These passages stymy me—how can I transport myself into inspiration once I’ve sat down to play? You might as well ask me to fly.

Anyway, sometimes I listen to myself turned up real loud so I can hear every sound and nuance on the recording, just to make sure I heard everything I did—and whether any background sounds that might ruin the recording show up at high volume. That’s what I was doing today—I had the Bose cranked to 50—and I get to the third track, which is called “Blue Lake”. Now Claire and I have often joked that the birds outside our windows like to sing along with me at the piano—and it did seem kinda eerie sometimes, but I was too busy to pay attention.

Blue Lake:  

26 seconds in you hear a cricket or cicada or something, then after a minute in, you hear a bird chirping along for two minutes or more, with occasional chiming in throughout. But it’s right on the beat—you can even hear it get a little huffy about my messing up the beat (which I do).

So, I jumped up and went to tell Claire about it in the living room—and while we were talking about how strange it was, I felt inspired and began to record today’s improv, while Claire studied on the couch—and after a minute and a half of playing, the darn bird sang along again—but Claire says it was a different bird. There’s some other birds in there, too—although I can’t say whether the crow was doing his own thing or what. Once I heard them chiming in, I started to play to them, looking around the upper register for stuff they might react to—ultimately, this is less a musical piece and more a dialogue with my avian house-hangers. So I guess I have a fan club—boy, do I feel special.

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So that’s my day so far..

In Which I Make a Spectacle of Myself

What town was I in? Nelsonville, aka Cold Springs, NY. Where? On Main Street.

Jessy’s dog, Tuesday (the ring-bearer) and our son, Spencer, and myself had just been driven there by Karen, Claire’s Mom. My Mom, Ethel, had already arrived at a nearby hotel, where she shared rooms with my niece, Danielle, Kathy’s eldest, and Danielle’s daughter, Boston (the flower girl). Our neighbors, Harlan and Sherryl, were there. The rest of the forty-odd wedding party were Burrs from South California.

They had excused me from the rehearsal dinner so that I would be fit for the wedding—and Claire had gotten a sudden case of shingles, so she stayed home, too. If my Mom hadn’t made it, Jessy would have had no family there! I felt bad for Claire—between her work and her courses and helping Jessica with wedding arrangements, she’s been busier than a one-armed paper-hanger. So, I figure the shingles were stress-induced. Now that it’s all over, I hope she can find a little ‘me-time’ again.

So there I was, walking down Main Street on a busy Saturday afternoon in a tuxedo with bow-tie and two-toned (black and white) shiny dress shoes. People were shouting at me, “Hey, nice suit” and “Looking dapper, there” and so forth—I had never felt so exposed in my life—and I wasn’t quite sure where I was going. I wandered into a bed and breakfast and asked if Jessy was there and, for a miracle, the lady said, “Yes, she is. Come on in.” So I stood there in the foyer and I guess I was a little winded—she looked at me solicitously and asked if I’d like to sit down—which I suddenly realized I very much wanted to do—and asked me if I wanted a cup of tea or some water—which I suddenly realized I needed almost as badly.

So she disappeared upstairs to the girl’s party that brides-getting-dressed always seem to become. I sat in an armchair sipping ice water and dreading the long walk up the street to the library where the wedding would take place. I didn’t want to walk that far, but as father of the bride I felt obliged to escort her wherever she went in her bridal gown—and she was walking up Main Street, so I was too. In the event, it was five of us, including the beribboned dog, walking through town and causing quite a stir.

At the library I ignored all the stairways and what-not, focused on being the ‘arm’ Jessy was ‘on’. The service was surprisingly long (considering it was secular—I would’ve expected it from a Catholic wedding service) and then it was back down the hill, but it was dark, I was no longer obligated to escort anyone—so Claire and I walked down rather slowly. I was running on fumes at this point.

We got to the reception, an illegal storefront with no liquor license. As soon as I walked in, the sonic assault made me dizzy—O, do I hate loud music in a small place when I’m expected to make small talk with strangers—OMG, as the kids say. I soon retreated to the sidewalk again, had a smoke, and steeled myself to re-enter. Before too long it was time to eat, and then they danced. I had to do the traditional Father-Daughter dance—but I can’t dance, of course, so I just went from side to side, trying to lift my feet off the floor a few times just to make it officially ‘dancing’.

But Jessy was so happy and so loved and really enjoying her own wedding—something much rarer than you might think—it was a pleasure just to hold her in my arms, regardless of my awkwardness. And she had told me, days before, that the father-daughter dance would be my last mandated activity, so I was relieved to be close to the ‘finish line’, if I can call it that. I would miss the bulk of the reception, including the cutting of the cake, and the after-party—which I assume only the young people had the energy for.

Today, if I remember correctly, they are on their way to Cancun for their honeymoon. Jessy had been married once before, alone in Vegas, to an army recruit who spent most of their married years in Iraq—and this ceremony had much more of an air of permanency about it. I hope that remains the case—they are wonderful people, the now Mr. and Mrs. Burr, and life is so much nicer when you have someone to share it with!

And me? Well, I have a renewed appreciation for lying in bed and watching TV all day. And something about this wedding made me feel that Jessy was taken care of, parentally speaking—and that’s a great feeling. Now, all we need to do is find a girl smart enough to see Spencer as the beautiful man he is…

Tag Summer (Journal Entry of August 17-21, 2013)

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Saturday, August 17, 2013                 11:19 PM

It’s difficult to say how I feel tonight. It was such a beautiful day. Just perfect, with the sun shining and a few little clouds just there for ornamentation. And our yard looked like a store that had had its walls removed. All our tag sale stuff was on rows of tables and some on the ground, upon tarps. The clothes had a little hanging area with all the sizes marked on the different stacks of shirts and pants. People came early and stayed late. I stayed out of the whole process—if they asked me, we’d never sell a thing—or I’d give it away.

British Museum

British Museum

But our lovely Jessy made a nice wad towards her big wedding in the fall (the preparations have gone on for months—damn all those ‘bride-zilla’ TV shows). I’m to be fitted for a tux—Spencer, too. Looking forward to seeing him in a suit almost makes up for having to rent and wear a tux, myself—besides; I have to give the bride away.

Guggenheim Museum

Guggenheim Museum

But the down-side is that, as summer reaches its full glory, its end draws inevitably near. The way the weeks slip by for me, it’ll seem like no time at all until the wedding, the end of the year holidays—and there I am, in the dead of winter. Optimism, as you can see, is my forte.

But tomorrow, whatever’s not sold gets carted off to good-will or wherever. They’re even selling my Buick Le Sabre 2000 (with the HUD {heads-up display} and the genuine leather seats) because we don’t want to get it fixed ourselves. After a day of motor-heads discussing this and that beneath the hood, the upshot was the battery would be charged overnight, and an attempt to start it will be made in the morning.

Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain

Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain

I’m glad to see it go—it looks so beautiful in the driveway (I’ve always liked that car) and it’s painful to see it just rust out there. Besides, my driver’s license has lapsed, a couple of years back, and the car was always being borrowed, as unused vehicles often are—the only thing ‘mine’ about it is the insurance and registration (all the responsibility and cost, and none of the driving).

H-O Trains at the Museum

H-O Trains at the Museum

I’ve no doubt someone will decide to take it off our hands and, if necessary, tow it away. I used it like the proverbial little old lady from Pasadena—except for other people driving it, it’s practically mint. But, of course, there were the other people, so it’s just ‘in pretty good shape’ for a 13-year-old Buick. Old-people stuff is the pits—you know, if you have to stop driving as a young person, it’s a matter of ‘how long until I can drive again?’—but for me, it’s ‘my driving days are over’.

Porsche Museum

Porsche Museum

But it was just great to have both kids (only they’re not kids anymore) and Claire and I, and our neighbors, Harlan and Sherryl, just hanging out in the front yard all day. Some people came to say ‘hi’ more than to shop, so we had several ‘how long’s it been?’- type encounters throughout the day. O—and Claire’s mom brought by her blondie brownies (OMG—she’s hard to beat, baking-wise).

Spencer’s old Legos were all gathered in one spot, about ten big bags full and several large boxes besides—a veritable leaf-pile’s worth of Legos. I wish we could say that lots of little kids had fun with them throughout the day but the truth is someone came by very early and bought the whole pile—o, well. Toys go fast at tag sales.

Milwaukee Art Museum

Milwaukee Art Museum

Now all the unsold stuff is under tarps, awaiting day two of the monster tag sale. The funniest part about it is Jessy—she would be right at home in a middle-eastern bazaar, dickering and schmoozing, glad-handing and organizing—she’s amazing. She could command troops, I think, if the conditions ever arose.

Natural History Museum London

Natural History Museum London

Every once in a while I’d catch a glimpse of something, like my marimbas, drumsticks, and ukulele, or my oil-skin jacket, or my serape—and I would just bite my tongue. After all, I couldn’t say I’d used any one of those things in a long time—or anticipated using them anytime soon—but they’re just the kinds of things I feel possessive about. So, in my head, I let it all go. I’ve found that if such things are sold without me seeing them go, I never miss them—so I just pretend I don’t see them.

I’ve always had a knack for extrapolation—I often see the elbow heading for the juice glass in time to move the glass—but I am, sadly, best at the bad extrapolations—for instance, I can see where this could easily be the last time, or at best, the last time for a long while, that the four of us will be sharing the house and seeing each other every day. It’s so nice, I can’t bear the thought of it ending.

So fires and floods, coast to coast, and I don’t care. I live here and here is very nice right now—I feel bad for the troubles of others, but I’m not going to dwell on the news from far away, especially bad news from far away (is there any other kind?)

kscvc atlantis

kscvc atlantis

I’m enjoying re-reading the works of Ian Banks, one of my top sci-fi writers, ever. I’m having so much fun with music I have to keep telling myself to back up my recordings, for safety, but I’m too busy making new ones and, somehow, that seems more important. And I’ve come to accept that my writing will never be in the form of a book, will never be popular reading, and will, therefore, never make me a penny—nothing new there, except for the end of the fantasy that it would ever change.

Museum of Science and Industry

Museum of Science and Industry

I am consoled by the freedom I feel now, writing whatever I feel like writing, not worrying about my interface with the real world. God, do I have a shitty interface with the real world—I am flush with all kinds of wonders and conceits that have no practical value—but my ability to meet people, converse with people, convince people, or ‘close’ on people is pitifully weak, damn near non-existent. I have spent too much of my life in situations where my optimistically existential world-view is never challenged.

New South Wales Art Gallery - night

New South Wales Art Gallery – night

I’ve become so comfortable in my sectarianism that I’m liable to say all kinds of impolite things that I should keep to myself when in the company of faith-based society—which is still most of society—and which will be a long time changing, in that respect. If I had stayed in the mix, held a job, interacted with other people all day, I would have never had the chance to become so impatient with everyday phrases like, ‘I’ll pray for you’; ‘It’s God’s will’; or ‘They’re still watching us from heaven’—you know the sort of thing.

British Museum

British Museum

I can watch “Saved By An Angel”—but for me, it’s a comedy. I can watch Hallmark movies—firstly, because I love the corn, the really tall corn—but secondly, because they make serious movies about God and Santa Claus, which is kind of where I am with the whole thing.

Photographers' Gallery, London

Photographers’ Gallery, London

Come to think of it, when people of faith watch Hallmark TV-movies, do they see the ‘God’ ones as real and the ‘Santa’ movies as a silly kid’s fantasy? How could that fail to cause cognitive dissonance? I think the execs over at Hallmark are invested in faith-based and fantasy-based messages—after all, they are the folks who made holiday cards and gift cards and get-well cards absolute necessities of our society. Even after the Roman Catholic Church had removed St. Valentine’s Day from the church calendar, the folks at Hallmark were still interested. How could they resist? A holiday that pretty much mandates a greeting card, or a handful, even?—Hallmark bravely said, ‘No, St. Valentine stays’!

The point is, whenever that kind of loose talk about the spiritual world gets bandied about, I say nothing. But I’m still feeling something—I just know that no good can come from criticizing someone else’s belief system—but I still have all kinds of comments just begging to be let loose. I get frustrated and impatient in such company and I soon reach a point where I have to walk away.

gallery

gallery

There are some mental gymnastics involved with being a secular humanist—one must keep in mind that religion is still very much a real thing for the other people, one learns some very subtle responses to ‘I’ll pray for you’, etc., and one inevitably edits the subject out of any discussion about other things—because it’s a big thing to most people, and the original subject would be forgotten in the ensuing argument over God.

Louvre at Dusk

Louvre at Dusk

I already had some limitations, back in my normal days—I had no patience with bigotry or sexism and I would never just let it slide. It’s surprising how strong the reaction is from people who aren’t used to being called on their ignorance—it should be as obvious to them as it is to me that reactions that strong are born of defensiveness—that they know in their hearts they are wrong and are just mad at me because I ruined the ‘fun’.

Field Museum of Natural History

Field Museum of Natural History

So, lots of arguments at work, or in a bar—and this was before I went from agnostic to full-on anti-religious. I hurt myself with this behavior—a more stable person would roll with the waves and let things slide—but I have been neglected, misunderstood, and even hated in my life—I did not like it and I can’t stand to see it happen to others.

I used to do crystal meth—I just couldn’t believe the change it made in me—I would snort some speed and the next thing you know I’m introducing myself to strangers, having conversations with people, enjoying being in a crowded bar or at a party. Those were the days—but they weren’t me, not really. Only under the influence of a strong drug could I act like other people and be comfortable with a social scene. But the supply dried up, and suddenly everyone was selling coke—that was the end of my enjoying being in crowds…

Main Display Tile View

Main Display Tile View

Follow up:

The Tag Sale was just as good on the second day, Sunday. Someone actually got the Buick started, and promptly bought it and drove it away.

It’s Wednesday now and most of the leftover stuff has been carted off to charities or the junkyard.

The yard is mostly a lawn again. Jessie made a big pile of dough. Everybody’s happy. I’m still reading (same author, different book). Claire’s gone off to her literary ladies gathering. Spencer just picked some cukes and a little basil from the backyard garden—cukes taste delicious. Every summer we get both our own garden’s produce and the subscription Claire has to an organic farm that brings in a mixed crate-full each week.

Summer is so good—we really ought to make it longer.

Gallery Cité

Gallery Cité

My Baby’s Sick –And That Debate Just Now Isn’t Helping

Tuesday, October 23, 2012              2:18 AM

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Our sweet petunia, Jessy, came up on the Harlem North train tonight with her dog, Tuesday (the Wonder Dog). She came and asked for heartburn remedies, of which I have several. But she was in intense abdominal pain and she wanted a hug. So I gave her my best daddy-hug, but it didn’t work. Claire just called from Northern Westchester Hospital in Mt. Kisco. They say ‘appendicitis’ and she’ll call me back when she knows whether the surgery will be tonight or later this morning.

 I know I’m not supposed to be worried about a little appendicitis operation, but it is surgery, minor or otherwise, plus I’ve been getting pessimistic lately and I could really use one in my win column—if only to convince me that there are two sides to luck, and not just the s**t end of it, which is all I’ve been getting lately. And our baby is so fragile. I couldn’t stand it if anything went wrong.

 Just to give you an example of how things have been going lately: Jessy’s emergency surgery in the next few hours will require us to cancel the surgery scheduled for Tuesday later today—the reason Jessy came up to our house in the first place! I should be grateful—if she had stayed in the city, who knows what might have happened. Now she’s with Claire, up here in Westchester—and I’m watching Tuesday until they get back. And Tuesday’s surgery can wait—she’s just getting something removed, in case it’s cancerous. Maybe I should talk to my doctor about adding a third anti-depressant prescription….

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And that debate tonight—I nearly gag every time that nut-job tries to criticize Obama while saying that his policies won’t be any different. It’s times like these that I really wish the USA had a higher standard of education—if Obama doesn’t get his ‘four more’, I’m just going to stop talking to people. If the people in this country have already forgotten what eight years of GOP admin has done to us, we have nothing to talk about.

Besides, it seems like the stupid people are always winning elections these days—those tea-party whack jobs got voted in in 2010, pretending they were a new, improved conservative agenda—they’re new, alright—we haven’t had such narrow-minded, fear-based elected officials since the Salem Witch Trials—who woulda thunk any group could out-stupid Geo. W. Bush!

 But it will all happen the way it happens. I’ll be thrilled if we voters get the better man—but, if it’s Romney, that will only indicate that our days as an ‘empire’ are fading. And that’s something I’ve been hoping isn’t true for decades now, while suspecting that it already was. Making sense and having patience—stuff like that has never been the American way—hell, it’s never been the way of the world at large. Nor can I claim any great sense or patience in the way I lived my own life, so how can I complain?

If civilization doesn’t simply collapse under its own weight, it will only be due to a sea-change in the global paradigm. Unless the entrenched powers-that-be are overrun by angry mobs, nothing of significance will change quickly enough to stop our totally uncontrolled explosion of digital tech, the widening gap between rich and poor, and the abuse of natural resources that threaten the world’s ability to sustain life of any kind.

 And that angry mob will have to be a global one—so, imagine Syria, then multiply that times the whole world. Not a pretty picture—yet, still the only alternative to allowing the stuffed shirts to guard their own precious quality-of-life until it is too late to reverse the damage. Am I advocating violence? No, I am not. But I would appreciate it if someone else can tell me what the hell else can change civilization’s inertia from self-destruction to self-awareness? And in just a few decades—because, while our ecological policies remain as is, the damage they cause accelerates constantly—and now we have all of China (and other just-now developing nations) well on their way to matching, even exceeding the pollution that we Americans produce.

I’m just saying.

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