Sunday, July 31, 2022

BEAUTY: Painting--Tony Peters

Southern California has a charm all its own and painter Tony Peters captures it in a beautifully simplified way that brings to mind the works of Edward Hopper. He paints iconic Los Angeles landmarks that show up in films and tv shows...

Saturday, July 30, 2022

"There Were Bells" by Brian Eno

Brian Eno has been a special, prolific, inspirational, influential genius in his long and varied career creating music and art. Here, he sings his song "There Were Bells" from his album FOREVERANDEVERNOMORE out on October 14th, 2022. This live performance of "There Were Bells" was written by Brian Eno for a performance by him and his brother Roger at UNESCO World Heritage site, the Acropolis in August 2021. It was 45 degrees (113 degrees F) in Athens on the day of the concert with wildfires raging just outside the city, prompting his introductory comment "I thought, here we are at the birthplace of Western civilization, probably witnessing the end of it." This haunting track is taken from Eno’s new album FOREVERANDEVERNOMORE and provides a poignant reminder of the current climate emergency, a theme that is explored throughout the record.

His statement on his website says:
"I'm more and more convinced that our only hope of saving our planet is if we begin to have different feelings about it: specifically, if we become re-enchanted by the amazing improbability of life, suffer regret and even shame at what we've already lost and feel exhilarated by the challenges we face and what might yet become possible. Briefly, we need to fall in love again, but this time with nature, with Civilisation and with our hopes for the future."
--Brian Eno, July 2022

There were birds above, they sang the whole day through
And the sky revolves a pink to golden blue
All the roads through time weave the world's long rhyme
And it all unravels in a sea of pearls and swine

There were bells above that rang the whole day through
And the sky was shot with light and hazy blue
Early days of winter sun, all the days turned into one
All the sirens beckoning the crew

There were horns as loud as war that tore apart the sky
There were storms and floods of blood of human life
Never mind, my love, let's wait for the dove
Fly back to tell us there is a haven showing nigh
There were those who ran away
There were those who had to stay
In the end, they all went the same way

Brian Eno | Photo: Cecily Eno

I am not sure I can muster the same cautious optimism that Eno can. I created this blog many years ago now as a way to catalog things that inspired me, caught my eye or ear or heart, things I found beautiful. And it goes without saying, at least in my mind, that these things are products of a wondrous world full of the possibility of creation, a pure expression of the sheer existence of human beings. It all results from an inexhaustible élan toward creating, participating in a cycle that is breathtaking, overwhelming, and even a little frightening if one can stand still long enough to perceive it. It sounds silly but this little blog has been my way to remember this all, and I wrote in the "ABOUT" column to the right that I am dedicated to posting the positive, the fascinating, the beautiful, the interesting, the moving, and the inspiring and uplifting. But I also say that just like life, all of these things may often have a bit of melancholy or even sadness in them, which is what makes our time here so lovely and bittersweet and precious. And I cannot think of anything more melancholy or sad than the impending end of our civilization which, make no mistake, is on the way. I have alluded to these worries we all have in posts through the last many years but my focus, being on beauty, has not allowed me to address it directly.

Maybe like many of you, readers, I am sometimes too weary and worn down from it all to continue to hold it at bay. After all, we still have to carry on with our lives at this moment, in this place and time, for each of us. I still have to earn a living, manage my design company, pay a mortgage, feed and clothe myself. But every so often I just break down and cry. The impending disasters encroaching on us all weigh us all down whether we acknowledge it or not: the constant fires, and extreme heat fronts, and droughts, and storms, and hurricanes, and rising sea levels, and flooding, and burned bodies of humans and animals, and charred ruins of homes and towns, and drowned bodies of humans and animals, and migrants from climate disasters as well as murderous regimes, and senseless wars, and the deliberate cruelty and the denialism from so, so, so many fellow humans whose ignorance perpetuates it all. I was evacuated from my home here in California for almost 2 weeks because of a fire that threatened a large section of the state, and I hold directly responsible anyone who denied and still denies what is happening in front of their eyes, anyone who has thwarted efforts to address climate catastrophe, anyone who has voted for and supports any political figure in a position of power who could enact meaningful change but who simply has not out of misplaced religious fanaticism or willful ignorance and a wish to hold on to power. I was lucky enough to have my home and neighborhood spared but hundreds of my fellow citizens just a few miles away from me were not so lucky. Everything we are suffering now was laid out over 30 years ago and we have had all that time to make plans and changes but no, we are now witnessing the beginning of the end. Actually, it has been going on for a bit now so this is not the beginning, it is well underway. How far will it be allowed to go? How far will the destruction go? Will there be a day when I turn on my faucet and nothing comes out, when I have to leave my home for a migrant camp because the state is no longer inhabitable? Do I die of hunger or dehydration? Dysentery from crowded conditions? What is waiting for us all? And maybe we deserve whatever is waiting for us, if we can't figure out how to do this right. Maybe we all deserve to die. These thoughts and worries are painful and sometimes debilitating. At this moment, I am in a place where I can't be quiet, I have to cry out in a way I allow myself to do in life but have not here in virtual blog-land, until now.

So for this post, readers, I speak to you a tiny bit of what keeps me up at night, what churns my stomach, and what makes me tremble for my future and the future of us all. But I have to do some laundry, and get ready for my upcoming week. And tomorrow I will be back to sharing lovely art and special music with you all. It will make the time go by faster. And maybe, just maybe, it will have some sort of ripple effect...if you are inspired by what I share, maybe you can inspire someone else, and we can all, as Eno suggests, fall in love with civilization and ourselves, and find ourselves worthy of saving. Maybe.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

BEAUTY: Painting--Jonathan Kent Adams

Jonathan Kent Adams' series THE LAND & ME / DAILY OFFERINGS is a special minimalist statement of place and presence. The artist explains:

"Inspired by my drives through the Mississippi landscape and Catholic iconography, these self portraits explore meditations on space and belonging."

I am moved and intrigued by the idea that the figure in this series is anonymous, roughly in the same spot and position while the world around him changes. It makes me think of the idea of the Axis Mundi, the center of the world, and that we are all, in a way, the center of the universe. Our own awareness and perception is at the center of our essence and we can't help but feel that.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

"Both Sides Now" by Joni Mitchell at the Newport Folk Festival 2022

In case you missed it in the news, an incredible event in music history just happened a few days ago, July 24th 2022, at the Newport Folk Festival: Joni Mitchell appeared on the Festival stage for the first time in 53 years. Her set was a surprise because Brandi Carlile and friends--billed as The Coyote Jam--were ostensibly performing until Carlile introduced this 78 year-old living legend, and possibly the best songwriter to ever have lived. Joni sang along with several of her own songs, played a guitar solo from "Just Like This Train," and looked like she was having a genuinely marvelous time.

I am a lifelong Joni fan and this was quite a moving event to see, especially since she has not performed in nearly 20 years and suffered a brain aneurysm 7 years ago. But she is still with us, and while her voice might be deeper and a little weaker, the musical power and emotional expression is completely intact. A few years ago, I posted two videos of Joni singing "Both Sides Now," one from 1970 and the other from 2000. I'll post these below Joni's lovely performance of this classic at the Festival. Let's go back in time, from 2022 to 2000 to see how the seasons, they go round and round,
And the painted ponies go up and down
We're captive on the carousel of time
We can't return, we can only look
Behind, from where we came...


Tuesday, July 26, 2022

"Erased Dreams" by Yotto

I know Yotto (the nom de musique of Otto Yliperttula), previously here, as a DJ and creator of electronic dance music so I am delighted to discover his brand new release of downtempo and ambient tracks called "Erased Dreams." The entire collection is stellar but the first few tracks really set the tone. "Lone Machine" is a gorgeous almost-drone, blending beautifully with "Seat 11" which is an expansive/pensive movement. "Sunburn" is another highlight among these lovely eight tracks. Listen to the whole release below.

Yotto's record label says:
"Throughout his sparkling career, which includes a Billboard #1 LP and official remixes for artists like Joris Voorn, Gorillaz, and Coldplay, Yotto has produced ambient tracks to help him look inward and recharge his creative battery. But when COVID hit, his inner world took over. 'At first, I was being really productive with club music,' Yotto says, speaking from his home in Helsinki. 'But then after a while, I started making something completely opposite.' Yotto found himself exploring a different form of expression, and didn’t have a plan other than to create. But when he put the tracks side-by-side in a playlist he recognized a synergy, and the outline of the project began to take shape."

The result is more of a continuous soundscape than an album; an ethereal and dreamy experience designed to accompany the listener as they turn inward and drift away. If club music is a form of escape, then this is too – but instead of turning outward, we lose ourselves inward."

Monday, July 25, 2022

BEAUTY: Painting--Kelly Puissegur

The quirky work of artist Kelly Puissegur tickles me greatly. I love her sense of humor and of course the way she puts animal heads on human bodies, something regular readers will recall I fall for every time.

And you can buy prints of these pieces and more on her Etsy shop!

Sunday, July 24, 2022

"Interstellar Cowboy (Gui Boratto Remix)" by Agents of Time

I'm riding the wave of this Gui Boratto remix of "Interstellar Cowboy" by Agents of Time (Italian DJs Andrea Di Ceglie and Luigi Tutolo). Boratto has added an ominous edge that the original needed. And I love the groove that kicks in at 2:17 and again at 3:48...blissy, dreamy, dance vibe.

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Just watched...

...the delightful "Everything Everywhere All At Once."

With a name like that, it could be a Charlie Kaufman film. Is it a fantasy, multiverse/alternate reality story? Yes. Is it a statement about existence and human connection? Yes. Is it a comedy or drama? Yes. It stars Michelle Yeoh, so is it a martial arts film? Of course. Is it a love story? Yes, on a few levels.

Poor Evelyn Wang (the funny, touching, incredibly talented Michelle Yeoh) is being audited by the IRS with her family laundry business vivisected in front of her by a grizzled, irritable IRS worker named Deirdre Beaubeirdre (the hilarious--and frightening!--Jamie Lee Curtis). Her husband has served her divorce papers. And she does not know how to handle introducing her daughter's girlfriend to her aged, very traditional and presumably homophobic father. So she does not have time for much of anything else, until figures from parallel universes convince her to save the entire multiverse from a dark, evil force bent on ending all space and time. It is a mindbender, it is a kooky zany silly romp, it is a comedy, it is a love story, and it is a fantastic action film with seamless fight sequences that never feel like they are inserted from some other kind of "kung fu" film. The special mix works well and is marvelously engaging. Look at the trailer below to get a hint of the energy and texture of this wonderful film. I loved every second of it from the supremely imaginative script to the acting to the sets to the choreographed fight scenes to the costumes!

Recommend? YES, it is a great colorful explosion of a film, not too arty and not pandering. It's juuuuuust right with a stellar cast and direction from Daniels.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

The Ice Cream Project at The Village Hall

I am huge fan of interestingly flavored (including savory as well as sweet!) ice creams, sorbets, and granitas and Anya Hindmarch has created some wild flavors based on classic British flavors for a summer pop up shop in London. Her site lists the inspirations:

The Ice Cream Project

Our high summer concept store, The Ice Cream Project, will be open at The Village from 9th July - 28th August, serving up a collection of unexpected and delicious ice creams and sorbets which celebrate Anya Hindmarch’s favourite cult food brands.

With sleek silver freezers packed full of ice cream pots, the Ice Cream Project is a minimalist temple to the joy of ice cream and sorbet, with a twist – the household names inspiring our ice creams are typically found in the pantry rather than the freezer; think savoury sauces, condiments, tea, breakfast cereals and even baked beans. Plus, discover the inspiration behind the taste sensations – our Anya Brands accessories collection.

Kikkoman Soy Sauce
A delicious toasted sesame ice cream laced with umami-rich naturally brewed soy sauce

Heinz Tomato Ketchup
The perfect combination of sweet, salty and tangy flavours

PG Tips
An ice cream infused with a great tasting black tea blend. An elegant frozen afternoon pick me up

Heinz Mayonnaise
A surprising rich and creamy ice cream with the zestiness of lemon and tang of vinegar

HP Sauce
A fruity, aromatic taste with a spicy hit of tamarind and dates

Heinz Salad Cream
The ‘original tangy taste’ ice cream with a hint of heat

Heinz Baked Beans
A rich, sweet flavoured ice cream brimming with protein. One of your 5 a day!

Quaker Rolled Oats
A creamy ice cream blended with Quaker’s 100% wholegrain oats with maple syrup for a touch of sweetness

Bird’s Custard
A smooth and creamy ice cream whipped with the original homemade taste of Bird’s custard.

Kellogg’s Coco Pops
A delicious milky chocolate ice cream interspersed with the crunch of Chocolate flavoured toasted rice

Kellogg’s Frosties
A rich vanilla ice cream with frosted corn flakes. Made with Tony’s closely guarded secret recipe- it’s gr-r-reat!

Lyle’s Golden Syrup
An ice cream with notes of butter, caramel and honey

Lea & Perrins
A sweet tomato fruit sorbet with a splash of Worcestershire sauce

A bright, refreshing mint sorbet laced with tiny pieces of smashed Polo

If you are or will be in London, The Ice Cream Project is open until August 28th at:
The Village Hall
11 Pont St, Chelsea
London SW1X 9EH
located a short walk from both Sloane Square and Knightsbridge tube stations. Pop in and let us know how it was! I'm fascinated with the HP and Baked Beans flavors. I wish I could taste them!