Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Take THAT, AV Nerds!

Finally... A completed AV Club Crossword!

The ONION, May 24-30, 2007

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Beethoven’s Imperial March

Tonight I had a student inform me that Beethoven could have written John William’s Imperial March (Darth Vader’s Theme) in his sleep. This insightful 5th grader explained that the Imperial March had all the "emotion and feeling of Beethoven’s later works." If Beethoven himself didn’t write it (in his sleep) he most certainly would have approved of it.

As my clarinet student fumbled his way through my hasty transcription, trying to master both the dotted eighths and expression of the “powerful,” “evil,” and “march-like” qualities, no doubt envisioning formations of storm troopers awaiting his command, I was reminded of a similar lecture once received on the brilliance of Darth’s ominous motif.

Anyone that has ever caffeinated through Ed Green’s Film Scoring class at the Manhattan School of Music knows the lecture I refer to. While I will save discussion of the finer points of that class for a forum less public and as easily accessible as the internet, I will share, in a most simplistic form, the one point that stuck with me. Green’s praise lay in that the minor theme continually and repeatedly returned to the tonic, forcing “one” “one” “one” upon the listener, thereby musically reinforcing the totalitarian dictatorship of an evil and selfish egocentricity as one as poor Anakin.

And oh yeah, evil will never triumph over good.

These interpretations were for me, the highlights of that class, and I say that without the sarcasm many might assume.

Regardless, an encouraging thought process for a 10 year old.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Dreaming of Americana

I mentioned dreams earlier... I was shocked when I read that diary entry from 1999. I had forgotten how I dreamt of being a good classical saxophonist (!!!) and my heart jumped when I read that I wanted to be not a decent, nor good, but great as I had underlined, dancer. That’s the lost dream I most lament. Funny how there was no mention of writing. Of course in ’99 I had not yet taken that fateful jazz arranging class with Steve Haines that put me on my current path.

Recently, I have developed a new dream. This one inspired by the reading of Asne Seierstad’s A Hundred And One Days. I now dream of refining my writing skill and becoming a musical journalist, reporting from places around the world. Typically this day dream involves places outside the US of A. After all, I have my shiny new passport and I want to bulk up the stampage!

However, I have been once again inspired by another artist.

I know almost nothing about photographer Stephen Shore. Only the little bit mentioned in the NY Times article promoting his latest exhibit and some follow-up wikipedia research. The slide show accompanying the NYT article featured shots of 1970’s Americana.

Those eight pictures remind me of the hidden intrigue America’s interstates can offer. I know they are there, I’ve experienced them myself.

Growing up military, I have lived in three of the four corners of our country. I have driven across the US at least 4 times. I loved these monstrous car trips. The hotels, the rest stops, the diners, the occasional tourist attraction. I yearn to experience them again. They call to me to be found, and reported on.

Asne writes the books, Stephen took the pictures, I want to write the music.

“Biographical Landscape: The Photography of Stephen Shore, 1969-1979” runs through September 9 at the International Center of Photography, 1133 Avenue of the Americas, at 43rd Street; (212) 857-0000 or

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Child Prodigy

I'm speechless... and quite ashamed of myself for being annoyed. I just read a release about the newest prodigy to "grace" the jazz scene. Her name is Grace Kelly. She's labeled as a Singer/Songwriter/Saxophonist. She's booked at the Standard this week. She's 14.

. . .

I know my skin is turning an unattractive shade of green, but how bad is it that I was relieved not to care for her saxophone playing after listening to her newly registered myspace? Her vocals on the track "I Will" I found more convincing.

Maybe it's the shared name, or the instrument, or the career, but come on folks, the Standard?!!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Presidential Validation

"Cedar Springs Road, Dallas, Texas, June 5, 1976" by Stephen Shore

Thursday, May 17, 2007

A page from my diary...


Today’s good: I’ve been thinking about my dreams of
dreams- what I really want to do with my life (when I’m in a good mood). Here
they are:

1. I want to be a decent classical player. I
don’t have to be great, though I would love to play (soprano) in a good quartet-
one that’s well respected, etc. That would be a lot of fun.

2. I want to be a good jazzer. I want to be able to hang. I don’t
want to be as good as Doug wants to be. But I want to be respected as a
player. And if I happen to make a couple of albums… or more likely, play
on [a couple of albums] or with great names of the time, I’d be very

3. I want to be a great dancer! I want to perform with a great company
like David Parsons. I don’t want to do that for long. But that is
something I want to experience.

4. I go back and forth on my own company idea. I’d love to integrate
[music and dance] but I’ll have to think about that one for awhile…

5. I want to be a healer. Help people, especially musicians and
dancers with their physical and mental problems with their mind/body.

My question is… do dreams change, or do we simply give up on them and adapt new ones?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Feminism in Venice

Who knew Venice was so chauvinistic? The New York Times reported this morning on Alexandra Hai, Venice’s newest gondolier. Except she’s not. Women aren’t allowed to be gondoliers, but one hotel, the Locanda Art Deco has hired the German Hai to navigate the canals for the hotel privately.
Apparently women aren’t allowed to wait on customers the Piazza San Marco either.

Read more

And I still want to go there.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Somedays you just really need those directions!

"Drink" by Jennifer Galatioto, used with permission

Monday, May 7, 2007

Dumb American…

…no more? Hardly. But in an effort to help others, who like me, are trying to rid ourselves of the ignorance that comes with being an egocentric American, I would like to share some of the wisdom I acquired while abroad…

The Union Jack


… is not the flag of England. It is the national flag of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and is properly referred to as the Union Flag, not Jack.

The flag of England is this…

… in honor of St. George, England’s patron saint.

The Union Jack has quite a history, but briefly, here is how the Union Flag is made up:

Cool, huh?


Turns out the term “Beefeater” is not just a crazy name for a high quality gin. It’s an actual term for the Yoeman Warders who are the ceremonial guarders of the Tower of London. They were instated at the tower back in 1485, responsible for guarding the prisoners and the crown jewels. Today they serve as tour guides. For more, go here.

If London is a beautiful china cup of tea…

…then New York is a disposable paper cup of coffee, with a wad of napkins instead of a coffee sleeve.

London completely charmed me. I’ve posted pictures ACN-style to prove it. It’s streets were clean (despite never being able to find a trashcan for my gum), the buildings beautiful and old, the MTA workers nice and helpful! The Tube had cushioned seats and was devoid of beggars. I was as captivated by the lineage of Kings and Queens as I was mesmerized by the variations of British and French accents.

One of my first observations in the NYC vs. London game was that London was not as diverse as NYC. But then I opened my ears and heard many different, some unidentifiable languages and realized that London was diverse, just with other Europeans who couldn’t help their light skin.

As Julie, Jason and I sat over our first cream tea in a little café outside of Covent Garden, we all agreed that we loved London, but debated whether or not we personally could live there. Those who know me know that I loathe when people say “I love New York, but I could never live there” as if they are this independent self-thinker who goes against the popular grain of aspiring to live in NY. Don’t they know everyone says that?! Well, Julie and I both agreed that we would love to live in London while Jason declined based on the financial logical that is clearly absent from both mine and Julie’s decision making skills. Julie asked if I would rather live in London than NY and without hesitation I responded “no!”

Why? What is it about NY that has its barbed claws in us, keeping us from leaving?

When we arrived to JFK after our glorious week abroad, the Homeland Security person in customs was tightlipped, coarse and rude. No cute smiles there, unlike the customs guy in Heathrow. Welcome to America, I thought, the cynicism already creeping back in. As I rode the airbus out to connect to the E train, the scenery of a dirty, low-income, barren Queens contrasted with my recent tube ride into London which showcased the quintessential quaint, English landscape. Welcome to NY, my mind bittered away. What must people think of America as they experience this for the first time? Later, I as disembarked the 1 train and had to carry my heavy luggage down the non-working escalator then up 6 flights to my apartment, I was exhausted, starving, and turning dark. But damn, it felt good to be back in New York. I immediately called Nad to get some V&T Pizza. It had been too long!

New York is like coffee. It’s bitter, dark, and each experience can vary between shitty and weak to strong and bold. Why do we love NY? Why do we love coffee? I mean, lets be honest; coffee (especially NY coffee) is not the best tasting thing in the world. If it were about pleasing the taste buds, I’d drink a chocolate milkshake over a cup of black coffee in a second! But coffee is not about the taste buds, and neither is NY. NY does not set out to charm, to be beautiful, to have clean streets. NY is about bitter reality. It encompasses all ends of the economic, cultural, artistic, ethnic, culinary, crime, education, etc, etc. spectrums. It can be very, very dark. But then, running through Riverside Park on Saturday, the gardens and trees in full bloom, the Hudson reflecting the blue skies, families playing and couples sunning in the grass, old folks chatting on the benches, it, like London, can be just as charming and beautiful. This past weekend I heard 4 sets of very different but all wonderful music, within 3 nights. I had croissants and knitting with 2 good friends at the HPS. And I’m enjoying an incredibly satisfying cup of coffee as I write this.

New York is like coffee: it’s addictive, satisfying and can be to you many things at any given time. London is like a delicious cup of tea: light, invigorating, charming, and consoling.

I loved London, and could totally pull a Madonna and move there in the future, career permitting. I’d love to delve into it’s many layers knowing that so far I have only scratched the shiny touristy top coat. But like Carrie, I think my heart will always have its place in NY.

My new plan: to find a tall Englishman (possibly of half Indian descent?) to marry so that I can live half in NY, and half in London. …I’ll keep you posted.