Category Archives: music

’cause i feel like it

do what i always do

I’ve sat down t write something here many times during the last few weeks and, every time, after typing a sentence, I’ve walked away.  It’s not for not having some thoughts in my head.  I’ve got some of those.  The hesitation has stemmed more from a concern that veering too far from my eternally optimistic tone may read as alarming to some.  I mean, if we were to analyze this blog I would guess that the words “lucky,” “grateful,” and “awesome” appear more than any other.  It’s rare that I scratch the surface…

It’s probably better that way…but when has whats better stopped me from doing what I want?

A (rather big) piece of me wanted last nights hurricane to affect us.  Not in a catastrophic way but in a humbling way that required humans to use their instincts instead of the internet.  The earthquake we had the other day scared me and immediately following scared I was irritated.  Stupid, entitled and numb New Yorkers were so unaffected that, while the building was swaying, they were reaching for their phones to tweet about it.  (I waited to tweet until I was outside and relatively sure that I wasn’t going to be crushed in a pile of falling ruble.)  The point being that for hyper-connected beings it is all feeling pretty detached…

It’s possible that this is my own not-so-subtle reaction to a string of mild rejections or it’s possible that this is a trending problem that nobody will pay attention to unless it’s #trending or #viral or #somethingallyourfirendssawtoo.  I don’t know.  What I do know is that, for the first time since I moved back to the USA, I’m feeling pissed off.  And lost.  And lonely.

There.  I said it.

The water in this city is like a stimulant and anesthetic.  I am powering through days and nights…busy and occupied…and then I come home and have the same sinking feeling.  I feel like I’m on a hamster wheel – running myself ragged and going nowhere fast.  In my past life, it was the opposite.  I was so stationary and stuck in my isolation that I set myself free in my head.  Turns out that the fantasy and the reality are a lot alike except for the fact that one doesn’t feel like anything and the other feels confusing.  I’m leaning on things that I didn’t think I would lean on and looking for things I told myself I didn’t want.

So now what?

..wait for a natural disaster to flood the change i’m seeking?  stay in the fast lane and trust that my moral compass knows where the hell i’m going?  pull over and ask for directions?  wake up tomorrow and take it from there?  I’ll probably keep doing what I always do…wake up tomorrow and take it from there but, damn! it would feel great to  see some fresh light cast on these old ideas and it would feel better-than-great to be rewarded for putting myself out there instead of left hanging like an asshole.  I hate that i’m complaining but i’m just sayin’…

Anyway, I think I already regret dumping this honesty out into the world since it’s unclear to me who even reads this shit.  But there is also something therapeutic about materializing thoughts into words and turning words into action.  So….boom….lights, camera, ACTION!

Dimples That Can House the Ocean

The last couple weeks have been so full that, when contemplating how best to re-cap things, I find myself stumped.  If there’s a theme to be found, I’m guessing it is what it usually is….I’m some special variety of Lucky Bean.  Perhaps a hybrid bean made up of some parts Jelly, Mexican Jumping, Magic, Lima, Baked and Green?  James Garfield once said that, “a pound of pluck is worth a ton of luck” and I have been plucking and lucking like it’s my job…

The most noteworthy news would have to be my 3 days of documentary photography at Levon Helm’s Studio in Woodstock, NY.  Chris Castle rallied The Womack Family Band, Garth & Maud Hudson, Tommy Ramone, Gabriel & Salli Butterfield, Sandy Allen, Daphne Lee Martin and Carl Franklin together to make an album.  The session was masterfully run and engineered by Justin Guip and his assistant Brendan and, in a nutshell, it was amazing.   The atmosphere is something all by itself but add to that some rock and roll icons and 5 cameras and you’ve got a smile so wide my dimples could house the oceans.  I’m still editing away and hope to be able to share the work and – eventually – an album cover with you…fingers crossed.  Even if the work never sees the light of day, pays me nothing and costs me plenty it was a worthwhile experience and something I hope to do more of.  Though I will never complain about shooting rock shows, the quiet tension of the studio and added elements of hope and waiting and architecture challenged me in a new way.  It’s been a while since I have felt like a humbled and hungry artist….mostly becuase I’ve been consumed with my day job…but it feels great. 

You know what else feels great?  A whiskey-drunk Thile & Daves show at the Bell House.  I could not like these guys any more than I do and I especially love rocking the front row with a video-equipped recording device.  Here’s my favorite shot of the night and a little video clip.  If you want to see the rest of the album (published on their Facebook page by Red Light Management) click here and click here for a couple more videos.

Thile & Daves @ The Bell House

The down home goodness just kept giving when some besties rolled in from far and wide (VT, PA, SF) for some mexican food and karaoke.  The nice things about time rolling past us so fast is that good friends become good, old friends in no time flat.  Queso & Karaoke are always good fun and throw in a cute (and amazingly well-behaved baby) and it’s a party!

The gift of GOOD kept on giving for a third, yeah!  that’s right!, third night of Tragedy at the Brooklyn Bowl.  I skipped my weekly Glitter Anonymous meeting and decided to indulge for their finale and I’m glad I did.  You can check out the growing archive or Tragedy pix here or, if you’re lazy, just check out one of my favorites right here…

Tragedy @ Brooklyn Bowl

The text and life that occurred between all this rocking punctuation were as – perhaps even better – than everything else.  I’m beginning to feel like myself again after a long haul of identifying myself as an expatriate before whatever came next.  It feels like a long, cosmic exhale.  

Ahhhhhhh.

In the immortal words of Oprah, “Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure. “

Spectacular Geography

Where to begin?

The thing about life in the big, bad city is that – in an instant – everything can change.  BAM! new places.  POW! new people.  HUZZAH!  new stories.  A door opens, a path unwinds and you find yourself amazed at the possibilities.  I should probably rename this blog ilovenyc.com because it seems like every time I sit down to share a thought it begins with my spectacular geography.

The last couple weeks have been filled to the brim with work and music and photos and friends and it’s all a little too much to try to weave into a tale for you now.  There’s been no discernible theme other than, ‘go with the flow’ so I’ll keep it simple.  Here’s a glimpse at what I’ve been up to when the work is done…

Tragedy @ Brooklyn Bowl

A glitter-infused, rocks off, metal-tastic, spandex-wrapped party with the Tri-State Areas #1 Heavy Metal Tribute to the Bee Gees.  You can check out a few more images from this night right here.

A slightly more subdued evening in Gowanus with Vetiver & the Yellow Birds, a friend and I enjoyed some pretty, pretty music while conjuring the life stories and intentions of just about everybody present.  It was great.  You can see more pix of Vetiver right here.
Then we headed back to Greenpoint for another night with Tragedy that ended with whiskey consumed from the bottle and a great deal of footage that will support the making of a Glitter PSA.  Did you know that the #1 risk of glitter addiction is “Confetti in your eye” followed closely by “Sparkle Cough?”  Seriously, glitter is no joke.

 These guys are so much fun it should (and probably is in some States) illegal.  There are still 2 nights of their residency glitterbombing the Bowl and you should grab some protective eyewear and get there.  Check out some more pix of last Friday’s party right here.
Judging by the party pix you just waded through you might not believe the week could get better…right?  Well, it did.
Saturday I devoured some risotto balls and a Scotch Porter while watching Del McCourey make magic at the City Winery.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there aren’t too many problems that some good bluegrass can’t fix.  I love how Del smiles when he sings…There’s no pix to share since I wasn’t “working” that night so you’ll just have to use your imagination…
Finally, the cherry on top of a mountain of fun….believe it or not…Motley Crew & Poison at PNC last night.  I hopped on a Rocks Off party bus with a real, live motley crew and the rest was history.  Imagine these 3 guys, 1 Bean and bus load of random poison fans…it was awesome and I descend into giggles just thinking about it.

motley crew

On tap for tonight is some Levon Helm & Emmy Lou Harris in Central Park with more bluegrass lined up for Wednesday and…wait for it….Death From Above 1979 on Friday.  I am making up for the musical drought that I lived through in Honkers and now my cup runneth over…

tits

Down home Goodness, Butter & Love

Rolling East on I-40 last night out of Memphis, I was kept company by a stream of semi’s, rolling in lines and groups like an alien school of fish, and the pink-orange light of the sun setting in my rearview mirror.  A thousand lonely voices on the radio kept me company and taught me a thing or two about cheatin’ men, pick-up trucks, heartache and red necks.  After a day in Dallas and 3 days in Memphis, it was nice to let the night sky envelope me on the road to Nashville.   Like a kind of baptisim, the grease of pulled pork and sweat from the hot Tennessee sun have reimmersed me in America and I feel like I’m home.

Dallas was all business and, aside from a triumphant pit stop in Richardson, was most memorable for dinner at III Forks and some fun-seeking in Old Plano Town (fyi, there is no fun to be had in Downtown Plano).  Dinner was epic, in the scheme of beef, and I will not soon forget my 15 oz “Baseball Cut”.  With 3 days to kill before moving onto Nashville, I decided to scrap plans to accumulate miles and opted instead for a weekend in Memphis…which turned out to be one of the best ideas I had all day!

My camera is brmming with a wonderful narrative of sweet Memphis – as is my belly which is still coping with the down-home goodness, butter and love that makes up the Souther diet.  36 hours felt like a week, we covered so much ground though, at no point, did we ever have to try to hard to get anywhere.  Sun Studio, Graceland, Beale Street, the Brooks Museum, the Metal Museum, sunset on the Mississippi and eats from the likes of Huey’s, Central BBQ, Dyers, Brothers Juniper…tipping our hats, of course, to The Buccaneer, Murphey’s, Westy’s and some more I’m forgetting.  I feel like I have a family there now and look forward to a reason to return.  JW is – officially – the best tourguide and baked potato/frenchfrier that Memphis has ever seen.  

Gotta get back down to business now here in Opreyland but stay tuned for some photos and more tails of savory pork, sour mash and good times.

On a road to . . .

With 15 pages left to the novel I was reading, The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman, I found myself so impatient to see how the story ended that I got frustrated with my inability to read faster.  Shifting in my chair, sitting up straight as though that was going to streamline absorption, I was relieved when I finally reached the  end.  I’m commenting on this because it was a new feeling.  Usually, I get a little sad when a book is ending and tend to drift off before reaching the end, perhaps to keep the end from coming…Anticipating the need for a new beginning I picked up another paperback off a stoop today and wonder, already, how that story will end.

This seems to be a theme with me:  a pounding desire to know how the story ends.  It didn’t occur to me until pretty recently that this may be a trend worth diverting.  Perhaps, like the mighty Mississippi, I can reshape my own path and carve a channel through a more patient and meandering landscape.  I think to myself (everyday) that I want to write a book and then think a little longer (every time) that I can only begin when I know how the story ends.  Tonight is the first time that it occurred to me that this may not be true.  Maybe I just need to know where it begins…

The last couple days in NYC have proven to be filled with stories.  Cue up a soundtrack of some old timey Rugged Sauce and ease into Paul Simon playing his acoustic guitar to a silent Webster Hall then fade into a jubilant David Byrne followed by a melancholy and over-crowded Andrew Bird.  In front of the music was a hard lost fight with an endless To-Do list, some unidentified ailments and a little caffeine. Perhaps more excitement than some people score in a lifetime but, for me, a rather typical week.  It’s utterly overwhelming.

Pinch me, I'm dreaming

I keep waiting to wake up feeling ‘normal’ and it keeps escaping me.  Overseas I dreamt of the ease with which my life unfolded in America.  Now that I’m back I realize how easy I had it beyond the beyond.  The grass is always greener…the water always clearer…the smog always smoggier in the space between what we know and what we think we know.  It’s both reassuring and a little anticlimactic to constantly realize that wherever you go, there you are.

Old Rugged Sauce - Brooklyn Rod & Gun Club

Succumbing to the overwhelmption (should I trademark that word?) seems to be the only course of action.  The things to do, places to go and people to see are not going to decrease in number.  It’s up to me to make the space, make the time and make it work.  It’s breezy tonight in New York City and I have opened my windows wide, allowing the wind to stir me up, fill my sails and carry me a little ways.

Lonely Geometry

There’s a city in my mind…it’s very far away but it’s growing day by day…but it’s alright…

Where the magic happens

I wish it was as easy to upload my thoughts as it is my photographs.   I’ve been skimming snippets and poetry up like leaves floating on the surface of a swimming pool.   Thoughtful muck, as it were, with the intent of slopping it up here so the light of day can dry it out, deconstruct it.  The sun is shining now so there’s a chance I might make some sense of things yet.

10 days in the Alps was as fun as it was intense and I can state frankly that I am very lucky to find myself at home, surrounded by friends, almost everywhere I go now.  A gift of incessant wandering.  Though my focus was on work, I did manage to squeeze in some p.m.k. action for Innsbruck’s Sound City 2011, some grillage and some fishcicles at the Eibsee.

HGichT, short for heute gehe ich taut (loosely translated as, today i’m gonna  die), seemed to be well loved by everyone around me though, if I’m honest, I found it more weird than meaningful.  Its possible that some art cannot translate beyond its linguistic and cultural boundaries and, if that’s the case, it could explain things.  You can google them or youtube them if you’re curious to get to the bottom of it and I’ll just leave you with my visual impressions and one of my favorite shots of the show…

HGichT - p.m.k.

More inspiring than the sweaty Germans was the way the sunlight reflected off the Zugspitz and played on the surface of the turquoise and silver Eibsee.  A couple friends and I peddled from island to island and wrapped up the adventure with some smoked fish, brezen and – eventually – homemade pizza back in IBK.  You can explore this Bavarian treasure a little more right here

Zugspitz from the Eibsee - Bavaria, Germany

Shimmer - Eibsee

The grillage and other assorted love and kindness in Kufstein warmed my heart and will keep it warm until I get back to the Tirol later this year to re-up and rodle.

As expected, arriving home to Brooklyn felt like I hoped it would.  If you can imagine the skyscrapers, bridges and beltways all wrapping around me like ribbons, it was the hug of all hugs.  State Street is a great street and to celebrate my life in New York (and on the planet) I opted to take a few days off to simply absorb the Spring, my city and catch my breath.  As I write, a 72 degree breeze is flowing over me and the sound of leaves rustling and birds chirping is filling the air.  It was a good call to take some time.  Some nesting, some baking, some wandering, some music and some time left still to rack up some “somes” …

Last night, when finding myself standing between Spike Jones and Johnny Knoxville at the Mercury Lounge, it occurred to me that I am madly in love with New York.  It was more likely the amazing rendition of Birthday Boy by Danjaboots V1.1 or the wildly talented Jonny Corndawg that had me so elated but, throw some Roger Alan Wade and random celebrities in the mix and it’s hard to identify exactly where the magic happened.  It did though.  I am still editing pix but here’s a glimpse at a few…

Danjaboots V1.1 - Mercury Lounge

Jonny Corndawg - Mercury Lounge - NYC

I’m gonna go feel some sun on my face now.  You should too.