Sunday, October 24, 2010

Step Three: It's Just You and Me

Actually it's been more like just me and me. But soon it will be just you and me, professionally. Well, not "you" specifically, as in second person plural but the "you" does apply to one reader in the second person singular who will be the "you" in the duo of "you and me." And there's also a third (part-time) "you" and a fourth, rather furry and howly "you," who keeps things competitive at tea time. So that's happy.

But for the past couple of months I've been in an extended transition. A monumental limbo as I finish some final projects for my former employer and await the green light from someone else's employer to announce my successor, as I unpack and nest at our new home, and as the aforementioned "you and me" secure arrangements for the new venture. But this week became an unexpected triple dislodging, allowing the River Styx to surge (wait, no. metaphor stops here.) . . . ushering a time of action on all three fronts and ending in a massive Housewarming Party / Wiener Roast** last night. (There's a deadline for ya'.) The apartment is painted, painted, painted, and painted. The wall hangings are up. All shelving needs are met. The liquor cabinets, slim yesterday, are now full of wine from generous houseguests. And, most importantly, the house has been generously full of guests. It's a real home now!

**Important note on throwing a wiener roast in New York City
: You can't just "gather some sticks from the woods out back," home goods stores do not carry anything longer than a street meat stick, and most New Yorkers don't understand why this doesn't suffice. (Have you ever smelled burning forearm hairs?! NO. Stop talking with your dumb suggestions.) Just save yourself some time and unbend a bunch of unpainted, unpapered wire hangers from the dry cleaners. Another note: this will feel "rustic" to some of your guests. (Roll eyes.)

But enough yo gabba gabba. It's time for another progress report. For all of the above reasons, it's a-gonna be slim.

~Left full-time office job to create new free-lance life. (OK, that's not so small.)
~Had second voice lesson with Mark Baxter Did not cry.
~Assembled music studio in basement. Rediscovered all those knobs on my Sony multitrack recorder.
~Acquired ukulele, swaddled in birthday wrapping by my dear Alaska. Learned five chords.
~Attended my first poetry reading ever. (There are other people! Who think! Like me!)
~Wrote two poems.
~Recorded the hook of a song I really like and want to develop.
~Had walk-over-the-Brooklyn-Bridge-meeting with composer/songwriter about the whole business of orchestration and arranging.

Next Steps
~Find a composition/counterpoint/arranging/orchestration teacher who gets/appreciates songwriting. PER ABOVE, GETTING CLOSER
~Keep vocalizing with my real voice and get rid of all that awful training. SOUNDS WARBLY AND EDGY AND TERRIBLE BUT FEELS HONEST.
~Buy big ukulele chord chart poster for music studio wall.
~Book voice lesson for November?
~Book horn lesson for November?
~Book horn/piano duet with Pam at PSUMC.
~Continue block-buzzing on horn mouthpiece and work range up to C5. (F4) Practice duets and etudes from July lesson. HAVE NOT PLAYED HORN SINCE AUGUST. WILL HAVE TO START ALL OVER AGAIN. GROAN.

Play Dates
~Play horn and guitar duet with Amy. Try out Ft. Lauderdale First Date song with her nylon string guitar.
~Coordinate Southern gospel trio with Leila and Sarah T.
~Join Pam's poetry collective.
~Follow up with flute, violin, cello, trumpet, oboe, guitar-playing friends to see about playing around in the studio.
~Learn "Tonight You Belong to Me" on uke.
~Arrange a small assortment of tunes for horn, piano, ukulele, recorder, and random African percussion instruments. Record and give to friends and family at Christmas like some kind of ill-imagined fruitcake wreck.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Migdalia 196 (more poetry)

While I was walking to the gym this morning for One Stop Workout (my get-out-of-30 Rock Live-popcorn free pass), I was stopped by an elderly woman on the street. She was terrified.

I did not go to the gym. 

"Migdalia 196"

you are home, Migdalia
(ay Dios mio oh my God)
they didn't leave you, they're only at work
see these pictures, Migdalia?
that's your face, and your niece
no, you can't call your husband anymore
check the numbers, Migdalia
(196? that's my house)
touch your Jesus, remember your couch

you don't work here? -- I'm so sorry
do I live here? -- oh, please help me
I was sleeping and I have to get home

you are home, Migdalia
(oh my God oh my God)
they didn't leave you, they're only at work
see these pictures, Migdalia?
that's your face, and your niece
no, you can't call your husband anymore
check the numbers, Migdalia
(196? that's my house)
touch your Jesus, remember your couch

Alzheimer's is cruel.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

after zumba (poetry)

I wrote this poem tonight while listening to Natalie Merchant sing songs from her new Nonesuch album, Leave Your Sleep, at a Poetry Society of America reading in The Cooper Union's Great Hall. Well, I drafted it there then finished it up just now at Whole Foods, and then downloaded this Blogger-droid App to post it. (Let's see if it works.)

I was thinking about last night's flash hail storm in Brooklyn.

"after zumba"

after zumba, I question: "What?"
the streets are wet but
there was no threat going in
hands in my pockets
I cross the blocks, soft in sneakers
I trick the locks and
close. three. doors.

— silence —

then, as if shaking inside a rogue washing machine
(the sound of grinding homemade ice cream)
through the screen, crunching ice
scrapes against salted bricks, street lights

a city's reckless attempt to scrub clean

the apartment
(still upset)
forgives me all the things I haven't done yet

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Buy Local? Slow Food and Slow Music

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to exercise my new-found free-lance portability by joining Alaska on a business trip to Sweden. (Why not? I have an Android. They have the internet. I'm in business!)

As I was strolling through Ă–stermalmshallen Market, admiring the labyrinth of Swedish delights—locally grown turnips, house-made lingonberry tarts, Arctic Charr—I noticed a funny juxtaposition. One that I've been meaning to write about for a while: American music.

Exclusively. Everywhere.

Beyoncé in the cafes, Katy Perry (ok, I admit it: she's smokin' hot) in the stores, Taylor Dayne blaring from the speakers of some strange advertising truck (?). In six full days I can't say that I heard a single Swedish (or any non-American) artist. Not even ABBA?, you might ask. Nope, not even ABBA.

Huh. America's #1 export? Behind debt, quite possibly.

I was thinking about this last season (concert season that is, because I measure years September – May) and tweeted about it then. There's this whole Slow Food movement, dedicated to growing, preparing, eating, and enjoying real local food. Shunning the exotic "gas-guzzling" bananas, as Barbara Kingsolver calls them in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

Here's a blurb from the "About Us" on Slow Food International's website:

A non-profit member-supported association, Slow Food was founded in 1989 to counter the rise of fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world.

I can't help but wonder how this might apply to music. What about the disappearance of local music traditions? What about people's dwindling interest in musicians who don't come pre-prepared and famous? Are we addicted to processed, packaged music? Are we sacrificing the health of home-cooked music-making by importing exotic "gas-guzzling" artists from large urban areas around the world, instead of nurturing those in our own selves, homes, and communities? What would that look like?

Does anyone see a case for, as Timo Andres called it in response to my original tweet, "Slow Music"?