Tuesday, July 31, 2012

July Highlights

7 things that happened in the 7th month:








Arts & Crafts
Coldplay in concert
Annapolis Irish Festival
Trip to West Virginia
Picnicking 
The sorting of the M&Ms signaling the start of the Olympics
Beach trip

Song of the Week: Cab Calloway

Yesterday I declared it Cab Calloway Day in my office, well at least in the immediate area around my cubicle. First, I had to tell the youngsters who Cab Calloway was.  That's Cabell Calloway III, if you want to get technical, and he lived for awhile in Baltimore, so he is almost a local boy.  I told them of the Cotton Club in Harlem and Duke Ellington, who was born in DC, and scat singing and all that jazz.  


This is music you guys. This is music.


Does anyone remember when Mr. Calloway was on Sesame Street? I totally do. Jazz and Muppets. I mean really.  How do you forget that? We need more of this kind of education for the kids today.


Later in the day I had to explain that Captain Kangaroo was not an actual captain in the military. They didn't believe me, they pointed to the caption on the picture they were working with and it did clearly say, Captain. Oh future, I weep for you sometimes.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Uncle Walt

I read a lot. There are a lot of books, poems, and other combinations of letters and punctuation that I like and love. But there are a chosen few that I hold sacred to me, words that have actually become a part of who I am. "Song of the Open Road" found within the pages of Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman is one of these few, so much so that I almost always, and sometimes embarrassingly so, refer to Mr. Whitman as Uncle Walt. A wise, and yes sometimes even a little eccentric, uncle spewing forth bits of wisdom mixed in with adventure.


Full text of the poem can be found here.  Uncle Walt was revising Leaves of Grass until shortly before he died, so some versions may be a little different. Below are some of the passages that you might hear me softly repeating to myself in darken subway stations,  humidity steamed streets and smooth sandy beaches alike: 
--
AFOOT and light-hearted, I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me, leading wherever I choose.
  
Henceforth I ask not good-fortune—I myself am good fortune;
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing
Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms
         
Strong and content, I travel the open road.

(Still here I carry my old delicious burdens,
I carry them, men and woman, I carry them with me wherever I go,
I swear it is impossible for me to get rid of them,
I am fill'd with them, and I will fill them in return.)

--


From this hour I ordain myself loos’d of limits and imaginary lines,
Going where I list, my own master, total and absolute,  
Listening to others, and considering well what they say,
Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating,
Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me.
  
I inhale great draughts of space;
The east and the west are mine, and the north and the south are mine.  
  
I am larger, better than I thought;
I did not know I held so much goodness.

--

Listen! I will be honest with you;
I do not offer the old smooth prizes, but offer rough new prizes;
These are the days that must happen to you
--

Of the progress of the souls of men and women along the grand roads of the universe, all other progress is the needed emblem and sustenance.
  
Forever alive, forever forward,
Stately, solemn, sad, withdrawn, baffled, mad, turbulent, feeble, dissatisfied,
Desperate, proud, fond, sick, accepted by men, rejected by men,
They go! they go! I know that they go, but I know not where they go;
But I know that they go toward the best—toward something great.


---
 The bolded line, "These are the days that must happen to you," has become a battle cry for me. The belief, the survival mechanism, the peace of mind, that everything we go through, the good and the bad, is preparing us for the good and bad of the future.  No scraped knee or ridiculously goofy smile is a waste. To become the people that we are capable of becoming we must go through these days;  the painful good-byes and heartaches, the dance on the tables victories;  the lessons that can only be taught by living. 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Standing At The Edge of the World

I  know that I talk a lot about moving back to the Midwest, but I don't if I could give this up:





















I also know there are lakes and rivers in the Heartland. But do lakes have crashing waves? When standing in a river, do you have the feeling that you are literally standing on the edge of the continent? 


Pictures taken at Fenwick Island, DE. Maybe my new favorite beach. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Support What You Love


The other day a musician friend was trying to explain to me that whenever someone illegally downloads a song of hers, she obviously loses money. And that money could have been used to go back into the studio to make more music.  That really hit me.  I would rather have musicians be able to keep making music than a free song.  The combination of having friends who are musicians, living in a social networking world where there is less of a wall between performer and audience, and in general liking bands that seem to be reasonable people, it has become easier to see musicians and performers as real people, not just product producers.  It’s not like they are leaving their families, and maybe really good paying jobs with benefits to tour because they think music is a really cool hobby.  They are taking a risk with each song, every tour date. I admired that a lot. But admiration alone doesn’t pay the bills.  Bands or the solo music maker all  have the expenses of making and recording music, tour expenses (a van, gas money, hotel rooms, etc.), and instrument/equipment upkeep,  but as real people they also have families (and themselves!) to feed and utility bills to pay.

Because I am very, very selfish, I want the bands I like to keep making music, keep touring, keep doing that they do, AND be able pay the rent.  So I’ve made 5 resolutions to support music and music makers more.

1. Buy music in the format that best supports the band. The most important word in that sentence is the first one; buy.  A lot of bands, in hopes of getting their music into new ears, will offer a free song or two on their own website or on other sites such as NoiseTrade. This is great. I have found a lot of new music this way. However, there comes a time when we kinda have to become upright music listeners. You don’t do your job for free, we can’t expect others to either.

And the format thing I have been thinking a lot about lately.  I love music on vinyl. I love putting the album on the turntable and moving over the needle. I love pulling out the liner notes and reading all the lyrics (huh, that is what they are really singing), and all the dedications and thank yous. I love the little crackles in between songs and the sound of the arm moving back over when the music is done playing.  There is just something about seeing all those records lined up neatly on the shelf. However, I also know that sometimes vinyl or cd pressings aren’t the most affordable means for the band.  There is the disc itself, the liner notes, commissioning the artwork, the cover and case, and then there is mailing that sucker. All that takes money. And sometimes for an independent band that’s money they don’t have.  And if an MP3 version of the song or album, without all the packaging, puts  more money into the pockets of the band, I can do that.  When I need a physical copy of the album, I have been trying to make more of an effort to seek out local record shops or buy it directly from the band. Every penny I make is hard earned, so I kind like to know that my money is going other hard working, music living, souls. (P.S. you can find locations of local records shops on Record Store Day.)

2. If I own more than two songs off an album, I will buy the whole album. The digital age of music has given us the convenience of being able to cherry pick our music, one song at a time. There are pros to this, but I feel that we are losing the idea of an album being a story that progresses with each song. The musicians specifically picked these songs to go in this order for a reason.  Each song by itself can be grand, but I want to hear the whole story.

3. Spend a little extra money at the merchandise table at shows.  I used to be so much better at visiting the merch table.  But now, my old age curmudgeon heart sometimes struggles between stopping by the table at the beginning of the show, and then have to hold whatever I buy for the whole show or waiting  until the end and have to wade through the exiting mob. I just need to get over my curmudgeon heart.   I know that sales from the goods at the merch table  (at least in the case of smaller touring bands, arena shows I have no problem passing right on by the tables) are most likely helping the band get to the next gig— paying for gas or greasy pizza or both. Depending on what I can spare that day, sometimes it is just a pin or a sticker and sometimes it is a t-shirt, LP (see point #1) or one of the letterpress posters more and more bands are making (thank you!).  I want people in the next town over to experience the show that I just did. I want the band to come back to my town because they know they have supportive fans here.  And while the cost of the concert ticket is divided between all the bands, the venue, and probably  5 other people, the money from merchandise goes right to band.

4. Support more Kickstarter projects.  I think Kickstarter is a pretty well-known fundraising platform these days so I don’t have to explain it in detail.   Many bands are using Kickstarter campaigns to help fund the making of new albums. This is a beautiful idea. Fans can directly support the band and their music, and a band can make the album they want to make without restraints of outside (marketing, corporate) influences. The last couple physical copies of albums that have entered into my collection have been because of participation in such campaigns. This month I pledged my couple of dollars towards a new Ducky Boys album. I have posted about them before, so I won’t gush, but I do encourage you to look at their project site and watch their video to understand their musical philosophy  (and to know they are truly from Boston), and if you can, support them or any other of the creative projects on Kickstarter.

5.  Invite a friend to at least one show a month. This is going to be a hard one. Pretty soon most of my tried and true concert buddies will be concerting in different states. And sometimes it is hard to find someone to go to a band they have never heard of. I have also come to the {sad} realization that they are just some people that don’t like my music and will always tell  me to turn it down. And that’s ok.  But I won’t give up. No siree. I’m going to keep bugging you guys.   Listening to music in your car or on your iPod is great, keep doing that, but there is just something about live music. To see the performers doing what they were created to do,  to be a crowd of people all clapping and singing along,  there is just an energy there that you can’t find anywhere else. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Gold. Silver. Bronze.

I am a big fan of the Olympics. Big. Fan. During the last Olympics, which was winter mind you, we set up a curling court in our house. Truth. But I have been looking forward to these 2012 Summer Olympics with extra pep and vigor. Not only do I get the Parade of the Nations, a whole 2 weeks of the seeing the best of the best (this does NOT include Bob Costas who makes me so ragey with his too much commentary), but this time I get 24 hour streaming of one of my favorite cities in world: London, oh lovely, lovely London. 




Oh yes. I am going to be insufferable for the new future.


For your reference:
The Summer Olympics are from Today (!!!) July 27--August 12.
The dedicated website for Olympic coverage is http://www.nbcolympics.com/
And because my sister works for a competing TV network, I feel I must add that this information does not any way support (or oppose for that matter) NBC. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

In Black & White

From today's Washington Post:


Everyone's Favorite Class: Statistics

I know a large portion of the readers of this the blog are people that I know (hi guys!), but every now and then I check the stats  to see how other people are finding their way here.  80% of keyword searches are music related, which makes my heart happy. I only write about music/bands that I love, so it makes me feel like a productive member of humanity to share all this love.  I love hearing that someone bought a song or an album or went to a concert because of what I posted here, and even though I never actively seek out publicity from bands, I can’t help to smile until my face hurts when a band member leaves a  comment or sends me a quick email thanking me for the post. I really do see music as an important community in my life, one that I am thankful for beyond words. I hope I can keep paying it forward. (And that “Hey” song people keep trying to find is called "Hey Ho" and it’s by the Lumineers, and you should just probably buy the whole album, every song on it is gold.)

After music, I get a lot hits about France, especially Sarlat and the Dordogne countryside. If you are thinking about a trip there, DO IT.  I cannot think of one bad thing about my adventures there last November. The food is incredible, the people are wonderful and the scenery is straight out of a fairy tale. If you do go, be sure to say Bonjour to Pascal, the tour guide at the prehistoric caves, and please, please eat your weight in cheese in Pain du Chocolat.  Also, and extremely important: plan your meals around the French time and lifestyle, you will learn very quick that it is very inconvenient to be hungry at 3pm on a  Monday.

Lately there have been a lot of hits looking for good burger places near the Smithsonian museums here in DC. I didn’t think I ate or blogged about hamburgers that much, but apparently I do. My American citizenship seems to be safe.  First off, let me warn you that there are not a lot of eatery choices of any kind right on the National Mall. This is for two reasons; first, to keep some sort of respect and beauty for this lovely space full of green grass and museums and national monuments. Fast food joints blocking the view of monuments to our founding fathers is more than a little tacky. And second, every museum has its own cafeteria, and they would just love to have some of your tourist money. But to be honest, as much as I am one for supporting museums and places of historical preservation, those cafeterias are overpriced and the food is decent at best. And c’mon, did you really come to our fine city to eat in cafeteria? (The answer is no.) If you are starving, then my all means stop at one of the hot dog carts, which are along the Mall, but if you want a good burger, you are going to have to walk a little bit.  Here are my quick recommendations, that are no means inclusive, but are either a short-ish walk or even shorter metro ride away from the Mall. I should also mention that good hamburgers in the city will run anywhere between 5 and 12 dollars, and if you add drinks and fries it can get a little pricey for one meal, but all these places usually have lunch specials and will keep you full until breakfast tomorrow.

 Good Stuff Eatery located on Capitol Hill.  This burger joint is owned by Top Chef alum Spike Mendelsohn. The burgers are pretty good, but what people really go there are the milkshakes and the dipping sauces for the fries. Good heavens, the strawberry milkshake is divine.   Right next door, and also owned by Spike, is We the Pizza, a pizza parlor where they have their own soda fountain, and I highly, highly recommend the grape soda.  Good Stuff is super close to the House of Representatives Office Buildings and the Library of Congress, which means hundreds of college aged interns and young staffers with their enormous appetites are roaming around during the lunch hour, so eateries around there fill up quick during the work week. (Metro stop: Capitol South)

Shake Shack located in DuPont Circle.  When this New York burger staple opened down here, it was a big deal to say the least. But believe all the hype, the burgers are good.  I’ve heard more than one person compare them to In & Out. I don’t know if I would go that far, but there’s definitely quality beef there. And, oh, they have concretes. CONCRETES. Concretes are like blizzards only a gazillion times better.    Because it is in DuPont Circle there is usually a group or two of hipsters there taking pictures of their food, but don’t mind them, they are harmless. Sometimes I’m one of them. If you are in the DuPont area around lunch time you will also be in one of the prime locations for all the marvelous food trucks that serve everything from tacos to mac and cheese to cupcakes to falafel. If you really want to eat like the locals, for the cheap, this is the way to go. (Metro stop: DuPont Circle)
               
Ray’s Hell Burger located in Arlington, which is across the bridge, but if you are already at Iwo Jima it isn’t that bad of a (uphill) walk. This is my personal favorite burger place. I used to have a friend that lived right down the street and her apartment was my safe haven to wait out whatever apocalyptic scenario hit DC that week. More than several times, we walked down for a burger and shake while we waited for dust to clear (quite literally during the earthquake), or  until I talked myself into going home.    With all the publicity that it gets, you would think that Ray’s is some fancy place, but it really is kind of a hole in wall located in a strip mall, but the burgers are fantastic. What really made me a loyal customer was the selections of cheeses: American, Swiss, Vermont White Cheddar, Smoked Mozzarella, Pepper Jack, Provolone, Aged Danish Bleu, Imported Double Cream Brie, and Cave-Aged Irish Cheddar.  Hellooooo nurse. Ray’s is cash only, but there is an ATM located inside. (Metro stop: Rosslyn OR Courthouse,  about equal walking distance)

DC Friends: am I missing any really good, metro accessible, burger joints?

So, after music, France, and local eateries, there are a lot of odds and evens that people asked Google, and in all its wisdom the internet pointed them here. My favorite of this week has been the phase, “I am a complex person.” Hey, so am I!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

How to Make Friends on Metro

The scene: crowded subway car where it is almost impossible NOT to read over your neighbor's shoulder.


Guy Behind Me: You're texting the Green Flash?
Me: Um. Yes.
Guy: Like the superhero?
Me: I believe that is just The Flash
Guy: So who is the Green Flash?
Me: (straight face) Oh, his cousin.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Song of the Week: Ha Ha Tonka


I guess I’m feeling a little homesick today  because  I stood by a guy in a camouflage hat at a crosswalk today. On purpose.

I always try to go visit Missouri, especially Southern Missouri in the Spring. It’s so lovely. Everything is so green.  There are random cows and red barns and Amish bakeries along the highway. Little towns with only 1 stoplight have endearing names like Pumpkin Center.  And speaking of enduring names, there is Ha Ha Tonka State Park.  And in this state park, located on the Lake of the Ozarks, is the ruins of a castle. That’s right. A castle. In Missouri.  Take that all you other 49 states, do you have castle? (OK so, some of you do, but do you have a castle AND good BBQ? What.) In 1904, Robert Snyder, a wealthy KC businessman, fell in love with the natural beauty of the area (caves, natural bridges, rock formations) and purchased 2,500 acres of land to build a resort to rival the fancy pants ones in Europe. [Side note: Missourians have an odd, but loveable, habit of thinking that we, for some reason, have to rival Europe, especially France. Oh, there is a Paris in France? Well we have a Paris in Missouri! And a Versailles, but we have our own way of pronouncing that one. Oh but wait, weren’t we part of the original Louisiana Purchase? Oh snap. We were French. ] Snyder hired Scottish masons to build the castle, and when completed the complex consisted of a 3 story castle, stone stable, nine greenhouses, and an eighty foot water tower.  The castle was burned to ruins in 1942, and the area was named a state park in 1978. The name Ha Ha Tonka, as the legend goes, is from the Osage Indian tongue, however it is pretty much now believed that the person who started the legend,  made up not only the legend but also the name. It’s still fun to say, either way.

And all this gets us to the song of the week, from the band Ha Ha Tonka. See what I did there?  I consider all Missouri bands (they are from Springfield) local bands, so I am always so happy to pass their music around to new ears. Especially when a song of theirs perfectly embodies my mood right now. The lyrics of the song are so spot on (Nobody wants to act like they care too much, I’m gonna hide it well ), but so is the folksy yet still rock n’roll feeling of the song.  
"Hide It Well," from the album, Death of a Decade by Ha Ha Tonka. 

They will be playing at Floyd Fest in Virginia this weekend, and then head back on a nationwide tour

Anyone up for a field trip to the Mighty MO? 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Career Opportunities

I have mentioned before that I'll be looking for a new job soon. This weekend I learned I can mark at least one profession off my list: barkeep.

I volunteered to be barkeep at a friend's going away mocktail party on Saturday, if and only if, I was referred to only as a barkeep and never a bartender. In all honesty, I was happy to do it so our hostess could actually enjoy her party and not spend all night in the kitchen.  I pushed buttons on the blender like a pro, I made sure all Shirley Temples had a cherry on top, chatted with people about current events and how to purge hipsters from urban areas, and I even faithfully practiced my sliding a cup across the counter skillz, and at the end of the night I checked my tip jar:


3 M&Ms. That won't even pay the rent in Candyland. So cross off barkeeping from the list.

However, what DID go over well was the cheese platter I also helped with:

CHEESE MENU

Cambozola Triple Crème
(Germany)
Very buttery with a delicate blue finish
Mild Cow Milk

Triple Crème Brie
(France)
Very silky texture with a strong butter flavor
Mild Cow Milk

Pur Brebis de
L’Abbaye de Balloc
(France)
Complex flavor with a caramelized brown sugar note
Produced in a monastery
Medium Sheep Milk

Carr Valley Sweet
Vanilla Cardona
(USA)
Medium-bodied cheese with a smooth texture
and hints of vanilla and sugar
Medium Goat Milk

Cabot Clothbound Cheddar
(USA)
Cave-aged 10 months
Perfect blend of salty and sweet
Sharp Cow Milk

What I forgot to do was explain, however, what was up with that plate right next to the cheese plate:
This was the pairing plate and eating cheese with some of these little bits can change the whole experience:

If the blue cheese is too strong, (although I picked an extremely mild blue), eating with a little bread and a grape will really mellow out the flavor.

Eating the dessert cheese (in this case it was the Carr Valley Sweet Vanilla) with a little bit of dark chocolate and an apricot will cause happy things to happen in your mouth. 

Also, please don't inhale the triple creme brie. 

So maybe I can teach classes about how to pretend you're fancy when actually you are making drinks in the kitchen barefoot and using straws out of a Star Wars cup. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Saturday Tune

I'm off to the cheesemonger, the pie shop, the farmer's market to search for pickling cucumbers and of course, the hardware store. That's how I roll when my time is my own. And I hope that I can do all this rolling before it storms and I have to divert all my energy into hoping and praying that our power doesn't go out. Again.  But before I go, here is the latest song that I am obsessed with. It may be a little bit of any oldie, but I just can't get enough of it. 


"Back to the Wild", Langhorne Slim.
I missed Slim and the band when they came to DC in June promoting their newest album, The Way We Move (which is fantastic too by the way, especially this song). I won't let it happen again. Me missing them, that is. They can come to DC all they want. Please. We have cheese and pie and pickles. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Wilco + Wolf Trap = Winning!

Alternate Title:  Shut up Tweedy, You're Breaking My Heart.
I had the chance to attend both nights of Wilco's stop in the Washington DC area. Technically, both shows were at Wolf Trap Performing Arts Center, which is technically in Virginia, but people get very territorial around here, so I'm sticking with DC area. Both shows were fantastic. I expected nothing less. Worth once again hanging out in triple digit temperatures? Without a doubt. 


The setlists were a little different each night, but they still encored with a couple Woody Guthrie songs, so world peace was achieved if only for a couple of minutes.  They played "Christ for President" on Wednesday which just about made my heart explode, and well, the cow bell guy (Josh, one of their techs) on Tuesday, I do believe he is from a different planet. A very happy planet. Wilco's catalog ranges from lovely acoustic numbers to fully plugged in rock and roll themes, and boy oh boy, every one of the musicians are crazy good at what they do. I can't think of a better way to spend a couple of evenings; barefoot under the heavens with my ears full of music. 


Sorry Jeff Tweedy for cutting you off,  but  Glenn Kotche's (the drummer) face is just so intense.  


Check out the double guitar. Like I said, Rock.And. Roll. 


I brought a couple of friends each night and got to witness and be a part of their first Wilco concert. Hopefully it won't be their last. Along with parallel parking a mini van on the streets of Los Angeles, I am now adding Wilco Missionary to my resume. 


Although I am looking forward to hitting more shows in air conditioned clubs, I have to admit with a happy heart , that there is just something extra special about summer music. 


Post Script to all the ninjas out there: DO NOT take the Lewinsville Rd short cut for Wolf Trap shows during the week, during rush hour. It is a dead man parking lot from Spring Hill Rd to 7. It will eat your soul. On the weekend, you and  your soul should be fine. 

How to guarantee a whole bench to yourself on the subway during rush hour


Find an old voicemail from your (recently departed) dad on your phone and cry the entire 30  minute train ride home.

I am, although, learning slowly, ever so slowly, that it does get easier each day. But every now and then the tears still flow, sometimes in the most random of places at the most random of times, and I am learning that is ok too. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Family Wanderings

What can I say, unless you really want to talk about how I locked myself out of my bedroom and even the random Marine who was randomly at our house at the time couldn't open it, and because I love 'Merica, I didn't say, see Marines can't do everything, but I really wanted to, well then, music is about all there is to talk about in these parts. 


My great great grandfather is somewhat of a family legend. A legend, not necessarily because of the great things he did, but because we know so little about him. We have no idea where or when he was born.  We don't know when or how or why he showed up in the Utah Territory. We have nothing to indicate that he was one of those pioneers.  But there he married my great great grandmother and fathered a son by her, and then he disappeared again. We have one letter from him during this roaming time from South Dakota, then nothing. We are assuming he died at some point, but again we don't have any idea, when or where or how or why. I'm guessing, not of natural causes, he had a (loud) mouth on him, or say they say.  We have no pictures, no copies of his signature on anything. We can't find his name, or variations of his name in any type of official records (census, birth certificate, etc), any where. Nothing. This also means that we can't trace our family line (the line of my last name), any further back.  But this hasn't stopped me from trying to piece together the man out of whatever little bits and pieces we do have, and dreaming up stories of his adventures to fill in the gaps. I have also convinced that one of my Scottish forefathers was a pirate. Family history is so much fun inside my head. 


One of the bits of (unverified) family folklore about dear old great great grandpa Justus (yes, that is real name, or the name he went by) is that he may have come from Virginia. When I heard Old Crow Medicine Show new song "Take Me Back To Virginia,"  I instantly thought of my wandering kin:   
Old Crow Medicine Show new album, Carry Me Back, was released yesterday and they will be playing two nights here in DC in August. Both nights sold out long ago, we may be city folk, but don't underestimate our love for some good fiddle playing. Full tour details here.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Song of the Week: Hey Marseilles/Daniel Johnston

This week’s Song of the Week is Hey Marseilles’ cover of Daniel Johnston’s "True Love Will Find You In The End." Hey Marseilles is one of the delightful bands coming out of the Seattle area that doesn’t make it to this side of the Mississippi all that often. But we still love them.  This is lovely cover, complete with hand claps, accordions and waltzing tempos.



You can download the song for free on their bandcamp page. You can (or should)  also check out their Tiny Desk Concert here. And then check out every other Tiny Desk Concert. 

The original song was written by Daniel Johnston, who is a shining example of the power of music. You see, Daniel who has been writing and recording music since the early 1980s has been diagnosed with both manic depression and schizophrenia.  Some may say that he has a troubled mind, yet he creates beautiful, painfully insightful, and some has even called brilliant music.

I have friends who deal with mental illness and without a second thought, they are honestly the strongest people I know because of what they are called to endure, both with their illness and the misguided and just plain wrong stigmas that follow them and in many cases make they feel they have to suffer alone and in silence.  Music seems to be a universal language that even the most unquiet mind can understand and speak and find solace in. 

And in the end, all of us, crazy and clear minds alike, just want to love and be loved. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Words: Wisdom

When you die, if you get a choice between going to regular heaven or pie heaven, choose pie heaven. It might be a trick, but if it's not, mmmm, boy.—Jack Handey

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Sign

I got this in the mail today:
It's totally a sign, right?
And not just that I should reacquaint myself with this "iron" thing people keep talking about it. 


(p.s. fun with new iphone filters!)

Home Art

I was going to wait until I got this framed to write about it, but it's too pretty not to share:




A limited edition Woody Guthrie print, signed by Shepard Fairey, the artist. Awesome by itself, but like almost everything in my life, there is a story behind it. 


For awhile I've had this weird feeling that I really couldn't place. It wasn't until I bought the above print that I finally figured it out. This is art, I said to myself, art by a recognized artist.  This is art that you put on a wall. Of a home. 


Ah. That's it. That's this different kind of feeling that has been mulling around in me. The want of a home. A real home. A home to call my own.  A place where I know the strange people sleeping on the couch and I am the only one to blame for clothes being left in the dryer for days. This is new for me. Many, many times I have mentioned that I'm a wild soul, a wanderer, look me going here and going there. The thought of settling down, to me, always translated into settling for a second place life. But now I am thinking about stopping the running and finding a place where I can say, "This is enough."


My heart is telling me that this place probably isn't in the DC area, which has me dreaming of mountains, lakes, small town American main streets and new starts. I don't know when or how or where I will find this place, but it's out there.  And wherever I end up, I'll hang this poster up and it will remind me of the day that I decided to be OK with the word HOME. 


This new, and still a little uneasy, state of mind also inspired my new ceramic tile project. I'm making a map of the USA, and I'm kinda in love with it, and the whole idea and hope and faith that one day I will have a big wall to put it on. 


*I got the  Woody Guthrie print from the Woody Guthrie Foundation, all proceeds from print go the foundation to help preserve Woody's creative and historical legacy. The print came with a thank you letter from/signed by Nora Guthrie, daughter of Mr. Guthrie and president of the foundation. In the world of 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon, that letter just connected me to Woody Guthrie. Ta da to that. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Summer Freely



Hallelujah the heatwave has broken!  It's bearable to go outside and enjoy summer again! And not a minute too soon since summer is about half over. It's about time I start doing the things that make me love DC in the summer. And because DC loves me and you back, it lets us spend our money on ice cream and frozen custard and gelato, instead of admission prices: 

1.    Screen on the Green. There are numerous places around town to catch free outdoor movies and with that brings numerous excuses for picnic dinners. I’ll be at “It Happened One Night, “ on the National Mall and directly after Clark Gables recites:


If I could ever meet the right sort of girl. Aw, where you gonna find her? Somebody that's real. Somebody that's alive. They don't come that way anymore. Have I ever thought about it? I've even been sucker enough to make plans. You know, I saw an island in the Pacific once. I've never been able to forget it. That's where I'd like to take her. She'd have to be the sort of a girl who'd... well, who'd jump in the surf with me and love it as much as I did. You know, nights when you and the moon and the water all become one. You feel you're part of something big and marvelous. That's the only place to live... where the stars are so close over your head you feel you could reach up and stir them around. Certainly, I've been thinking about it. Boy, if I could ever find a girl who was hungry for those things... 

I’ll jump up and shout, “I’m right here. I’M RIGHT HERE.”  Man, I love that movie.

2.    Friday Sunset Military Parades at the Marine Barracks. Sunset. Military. Parade. Do I really have to say anything else? OK, maybe I do. The evening parades are held every Friday during the summer (May 4- August 31) from 8:45-10:00pm. The one hour and fifteen minute performance includes music and marching from The United States Marine Band, as well as other Marine groups (full information here). Tickets are free but you have to reserve them (see aforementioned link), and plan for time to go through security since you will be on military grounds. Numerous people have told me that witnessing this parade is one of the most moving experiences in DC. 

3.    Jazz in the Garden in the National Gallery’s Sculpture Garden. This is usually a hit or miss. Sometimes it is too hot. Sometimes it is too crowded. But sometimes you get the right spot and can lean back and gaze up to heavens with a soundtrack of cool jazz. Full schedule of performers can be found here.


4. Space Shuttle Discovery at the Air and Space Museum-Udvar-Hazy Center. This is NOT the Air and Space Museum that is on the National Mall, this is the one that is by Dulles Airport. I actually prefer this one over the one on the Mall; it's where all the big stuff is displayed and big stuff that has been in space (like Discovery) is doubly awesome. The museum, as part of the Smithsonian is free, however parking is $15 from 10:00am to 4pm. The museum is not Metro accessible either. But don't fear, during the summer the museum is open until 6:30pm.


5. Ai Weiwei! The Chinese and political activist has two installations in DC right now. Perspectives is at the Sackler Gallery until April 2013 and Circle of Animals, an outdoor piece, is at the Hishorrn until February 2013. Ai Weiwei is a modern artist so you won't be seeing pictures of flowers or landscapes, but his outlook and interpretations of the world always amaze and intrigue me. Both museums are free and are on the National Mall. 



Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Song of the Week: Sarah Krueger


My question for you today is, how do you find new music?

I have always been a seeker of music, but the way I find new tunes has changed over the years. Early on it was whatever my family was listening to or what was played on the radio or on MTV when it actually played music (anyone remember 120 minutes?). In college I discovered the beautiful world of live and local music. Bands in little coffee shops blew me away  just as much or more than headliners in a big arena. It was also during this time that I started to see music as community, rather than just something you listen to. I connected to people through music. I became friends with people I met at shows or with people in local bands. You like that band? So do I!  We would make mix tapes for each other and go super early to shows to hear the opening bands no one had heard of, and have long drown out conversations about what exactly “punk” is or what defines a “scene”. (p.s. both are quite useless conversations)

But times have changed. I still love getting music recommendations by word of mouth or seeing I think you will like this band emails in my inbox, but just like (or maybe as part of) the robot revolution that will eventually enslave humanity, technology now is the king in music land.  The internet has made the idea of music as community, not just a local or scene thing, but literally a world thing. I rarely find new music on the radio, well, except for NPR music, which technically I listen to on my computer or phone, so is it still radio? Then there is streaming music sites like Pandora and Spoitfly. And live set series such as Daytrotter and the Sleepover Shows. Music blogs fill my reader, and then there is Facebook. Not a whole lot of my close friends spend that much time on Facebook so I really just use it to complain about the metro and to organize my music news.  I follow not only bands and musicians, but local venues (and their low ticket warnings), music publications, music collectives, and small record labels.  Social networking and music is something that intrigues me. You can pretty easily tell if someone in the actual band is sending the tweets or posting on Facebook as opposed to some PR person. And it is not like I need to know what my favorite band ate for lunch (except if it is good BBQ, then I do), but I have to admit, in a very non-stalkerish way, that I love how technology really is breaking down that third wall between the performer and the listener. I don't know how the artists themselves feel about this, but I like to think that all these new shiny communicating and connecting tools has helped to foster more respect, and more, hey we are all real people and all in this together, between the maker and the listener. And thus we see music can be much, much more than just a supply and demand marketplace.

And to continue this trend of finding new music with new technology, this week’s Song of the Week comes to you via Instagram, the highly addictive, ‘the world is big and it is awesome’, picture sharing app. I love this idea of sharing little views our lives with others, chipping away at the idea that the world is a scary place so go hide in your basement, and breaking those imaginary, yet real, boundaries of us vs. them, me vs. you. We all have different lives and different jobs and different loves and fears, but a picture of a sunset over the ocean makes us all swoon.  I follow people I know in real life, but also  people I don't know and probably couldn't  pick out of a crowd, except well, they would be the people taking pictures with their phones: professional photographers, chefs and foodies,  random people from all around the world that like to take pictures of doors and bicycles and beaches, and yes, musicians and bands.  There is a feature on Instagram that allows you to see the pictures that people you follow like. This can easily set you loose in a  labyrinth of seeing the world through so many different eyes. This picture leads you to this picture that leads to you another picture and picture taker that leads to another and wow they take good pictures, and oh look, they have a blog or website . . . This is exactly how I found the music of Sarah Krueger. To try to find the path or person or people that connects us would be a little difficult (I’m guessing it’s something folky), but it ended up with me clicking over to her website, listening to a couple of songs on her bandcamp site which led me to download those songs, and here I am telling you to give her a listen too.

Favorites on the album include:

Break



And  Ships and Trees

Doesn’t it have the old soul walking along dusty roads quality to it? And yes, it completely passes the “drown out the interns sitting behind me” test. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

California Shadows

From Clive:
The Getty


Griffith Park


Griffith Park Observatory



Montana de Oro State Park




From my phone/Instragram
Pismo Beach


Griffith Park Observatory