Sunday, December 31, 2017

What Are You Doing New Year's Eve? 2017

The sublime songbird Ella sings the ultimate version of this lovely song..."What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?"

I hope whatever you do, you have fun.

Goodbye 2017...

Saturday, December 30, 2017

"Heroes" is 40!

In honor of David Bowie's song and album "Heroes" turning 40 a few months ago, let's revisit this iconic musical moment.

I first heard this song one Friday or Saturday night when I was young. My parents would go to bed and let me stay up to watch "Midnight Special" or "Don Kirshner's Rock Concert" or whatever was on after 11PM--or even after 1AM! There I was, on the shag carpet in front of the TV quite late at night, when Bowie's silhouette appeared, long and slim, seeming to float in a wash of bright light. The image was stark and otherworldy. But what really got me was the sound--that sound. How to describe it? A magical, heart-stopping wall of sound that seemed to pulse from another dimension, a rumbling, reverberating drone... a roaring that could be a billion heartbeats, the grinding of time itself. I mean, come on... what else sounded like this at that time? Nothing. Bowie, his band, guitarist Robert Fripp, producer Tony Visconti, and genius Brian Eno created a sonic texture never heard before.

And then there's Bowie's stunning vocal performance... screaming out with emotion, his voice breaking as he howls out images that evoke concentration camps or the divided Berlin, where the song was recorded. I have heard "Heroes" probably a million times over the years, but I can still think back to that time when the sound of the music and his voice were startling, improbable, but so inexplicably fresh. Watch him perform "Heroes" and see and hear for yourself... try to feel it again like it is the first time.

And here is a very special treat: producer Tony Visconti demonstrating with the original tracks how the song was created. Fascinating!

We miss you, David.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Currently listening to...

...the ethereal, otherworldy "Waves Become Wings" by This Mortal Coil from the classic debut album "It'll End In Tears" released in 1984. TMC was a kind of "super group" comprising members from many different bands who were all signed to the 4AD label. This song features Lisa Gerrard from Dead Can Dance (previously here, here, and here) on vocals and treated accordion.

READ! Fight The Coming Conflicts!

Or the ones that are already here.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Just finished binge watching...

...the much anticipated second season of the Netflix original series "The Crown" with Claire Foy as HRH Queen Elizabeth and Matt Smith as Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.

Where season one examined with great sympathy the life of Queen Elizabeth up to 1955, season two examines the years and events from 1956 to 1963 which includes the Suez canal crisis, visits from Billy Graham and the Kennedys, and ends with the Profumo Affair scandal. The series writers continue to humanize the Queen and her family, showing us that they are indeed "mere mortals" caught in exceptional--sometimes seemingly impossible--circumstances. There may be palaces and servants and lavish dinners, but there is doubt, pressure, and loneliness in an attempt to keep up the appearance of being super-human, always cool and in control.

Again, Claire Foy breathtakingly plumbs subtle emotional depths, and Matt Smith rightly continues to destroy any connection to Dr. Who with a portrayal of a complex and contradictory man (at least the way the character is written and Smith is playing him). All the supporting players in this pitch perfect period piece are marvelous as well.

The creators of the series plan for six seasons with the roles of all major players being recast every two seasons. Olivia Colman (who was so brilliant in "Broadchurch") has been cast as Elizabeth for seasons three and four while the role of Philip has yet to be announced. This leaves the final seasons of five and six to cover the later period of Elizabeth's life and events...possibly such as Charles and Diana's marriage and divorce and the subsequent death of Diana. And who will be the senior Elizabeth? I hope it is someone unexpected (and by that I mean someone other than Judi Dench--perhaps Imelda Staunton?).

Just finished binge watching...

...all four seasons of "Transparent," the award-winning (8 Emmys, 2 Golden Globes, an AFI award, a British Academy Television award, a Directors Guild of America award, a Screen Actors Guild award, a Producers Guild of America award, 3 Critic's Choice awards, and a Peabody award) Amazon Prime original series. I'd been meaning to see this for a while and I am so glad I did.

If you don't know anything about this series, the story concerns itself with a family whose patriarch (played with stunning restraint and skill by Jeffrey Tambor) decides to live his truth of being transgendered, hence the title "Transparent." But the story arc over the four seasons concerns itself with much more than this single story line. As Shelley the mother (played exquisitely by Judith Light) wisely notes in season three, "When one person in a family transitions, everyone transitions." Billed as a comedy, there are certainly some very amusing and yes, funny moments in it, but taken altogether, it is absolutely a drama. And a sensitive, moving one at that.

In addition to the mother and father (mother and mother) there are three grown children in this family (Gaby Hoffman, Jay Duplass, and Amy Landecker) as well as their associated spouses, lovers, and friends. Over all four seasons, and via multiple story lines and flash backs that move through generations, we get a sweeping story arc that is quite literary at its core. It has fascinating things to say about sexuality, culture, religion, discrimination, psychology, genetic memory, and just generally what it means to be a human being.

The entire cast is beyond talented, and the story, as I just mentioned, is impressive. My only small quibble, and it is a small one, is that there were some things about the fourth season that felt rushed...some of the story lines were given quick answers. Now, I could be imagining this since, as I stop to think of it, the answers were a long time coming, and once an answer to a question arrives, there is an end to that question, that wonder, that probing. Like I said, it is a small quibble and one others may not have even noticed. In no way does it diminish the series or the story as a whole.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

"Subhuman Inhuman Superhuman"--Rick Owens at the Triennale di Milano

A grand retrospective of the amazing work of designer Rick Owens is currently at the Triennale di Milano until March 25,2018.

The Curve, the Triennale di Milano’s signature exhibition space, has been transformed by Rick Owens into an involving pathway through two decades of supreme creativity: a selection of more than 100 garments, objects, accessories, furniture, a sculptural installation, and runway videos are displayed and connected through a spectacular site-specific installation created by the designer for the occasion.

Based around an exploration of Owens’s influences, the show traces various themes and influences found throughout his work which includes artists like Alessandro Manzoni, Pierre Molinier, Marcel Duchamp and more.

One enters the retrospective space through horizontal stripes of light in mist, a highly theatrical effect Owens has used in his runway shows.

A massive black sculptural installation--Owens calls it a "Primal Howl"--made of a mixture of concrete, lilies, and Adriatic sand is suspended throughout the gallery space. Owens told Tiziana Cardini at Vogue, "When the Triennale very kindly offered me this beautiful 1930s white space, my first thought was: I need to defile it. So, I was thinking earth, something primal, and I needed a primal gesture. Twenty years ago I wrote something about myself, and one line was: 'I would lie a black glittering turd on the white landscape of conformity.' It was a good line, and that’s what I set out to do with my creative work; my oeuvre is a reaction, it’s my black glittering turd."

The show is not arranged in chronological order. Owens deliberately chose to mix his work and collections for a fresh approach. Because of this, viewers are able to pick up on motifs that have occupied Owens' imagination for the last several decades.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Let's Go For A Walk 2017

Then we can sit by a fire and have S'mores...

..and a dinner at twilight before we walk home.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

It's Midnight At Christmas 2017

"Snowflake" by Kate Bush...

I was born in a cloud...

Now I am falling.
I want you to catch me.
Look up and you'll see me.
You know you can hear me.

The world is so loud. Keep falling. I'll find you.

We're over a forest.
There's millions of snowflakes.
We're dancing.

The world is so loud. Keep falling and I'll find you.

I am ice and dust. I am sky.

I can see horses wading through snowdrifts.
My broken heart, my fabulous dances.
My fleeting song, fleeting.

The world is so loud. Keep falling. I'll find you.

My broken heart, my fabulous dance.
My fleeting song, my twist and shout.

I am ice and dust and light. I am sky and here.

I can hear people.
I think you are near me now.

The world is so loud. Keep falling. I'll find you.

We're over a forest.
It's midnight at Christmas.

The world is so loud. Keep falling. I'll find you.

I think I can see you.
There's your long, white neck.

The world is so loud. Keep falling. I'll find you.

Now I am falling.
Look up and you'll see me.

The world is so loud. Keep falling. I'll find you.

In a moment or two.
I'll be with you.

The world is so loud. Keep falling. I'll find you.

Be ready to catch me.

The world is so loud. Keep falling. I'll find you.

Kate Bush taught me how to fly.

Lights Will Guide you Home 2017

On this Christmas Eve, may you find your way home, where ever that may be, even if it is only in your heart.