Thursday, February 11, 2016

COLLAGE PARTY

My friends Gaye and Catherine put together a collage session Saturday and it was really fun. I spent most of my time on one collage. Then I followed up with a fake album cover by the non-existent southern fried art rock band Beauty of the Ozarks  for their ever-evolving EP Civil War Cave.  I finished with a before-its-time 1876 business card by Colonel Zebulon Teal, the Missouri bootheel's first incorporated weed dealer.  

It was great gathering around a big messy dining room table with scissors and glue in a beautiful home, especially in my home town, with old friends.



 ***


I listened to Herbie Hancock's autobiography on Audible and really couldn't have enjoyed it more.  Exploring his discography has been really cool.

“There is no such thing as art," he said. "There is only this painting, this piece of music, that sculpture. And it either resonates with you or it doesn't." He paused for a moment and then added, "There is no such thing as art, there are only works."

... In those two moments, Antonioni taught me something profound.”
Herbie Hancock, Herbie Hancock: Possibilities 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

MOVIE NIGHT + A DOODLE + HEAVY ROTATION



We watched the film About Elly last night--it was good.  I didn't know what to expect--a full-on thriller or a psychological drama.  I knew it was going to be serious.  It was serious--middle class Iranians cross traditional moral lines on a weekend vacation. There is then overwhelming tension caused by the threat of reprisal after a dramatic event.  The Big Chill it was not.  It showed at The Tivoli here in KC for a week or so this year.

It was a film with a unique tone, an enclosed, single location--and that enclosure was the beach, so the wide open, ever-present sounds of the waves got more and more oppressive.  That was a cool move.  If they had been at a resort the feeling of being beyond the pale in a conservative society would not have been so lunar.

Part of the upstairs revamp was to make this movie-watching space.  This is where I go to skip the Super Bowl and to stop the drooling if I am burned out and muttering gibberish.


*** 

I found this doodle in a pile of papers, stuck between a tax return and a 401K quarterly report.

This Mariam The Believer record has been on heavy earbud rotation at the office and while I'm running, along with Herbie Hancock's Headhunters.  I'll never crack jokes about 70's fusion jazz again, that shit is dope.  So is this:

Saturday, January 23, 2016

IN ORBIT WITH MAJOR TOM

I recently watched the Clark Terry documentary Keep On Keepin'On, and then listened to his autobiography Clark.  Both made a strong impression on me.  I live a couple miles from the baseball museum and historical jazz district and CT's decency and joy and generous teaching reminded me so much of what I've seen and heard about Buck O'Neill.  There is warmth and happiness in his music and if you learn more about his life, that warmth and happiness shines all the more.

The wonder and worry of Spotify is finding entire discographies available for ten bucks a month.  I make an earnest effort to treat Spotify as 1) a research tool to inform purchases and 2) a way to listen to my vinyl and cd collection remotely.  There are three or four records I've listened to a great deal on Spotify lately and I have my eye out for each of them: Blood by B'last; Discreet Music by Eno; Blood Donation by Mariam The Believer; and this Clark Terry album.  I've looked for them all, lately. It's really quaint, but I've made the deal that if I'm going to have an album in heavy rotation on my "smart phone," I owe it to that artist to buy it, at some point.

The new David Bowie is nowhere to be found, and I can't bring myself to listen to it on Spotify or any other digital source.  I did review half of his classic discography last week, after bursting into tears in the shower, the morning I learned he died.  I think if I had to choose one, it would be a very tough choice between Ziggy Stardust and Station to Station.  The song that really, REALLY struck me was "Sweet Thing/The Candidate" from Diamond Dogs, which in its arrangement and vocal style opens up the second half of the 70's for Bowie and is kind of a creative leap.  And we are talking about someone who leapt creatively all the time.  Just my dumb opinion but great artists surge forward, move back, settle in, send out a sonar ping, then move on into what's next. "Sweet Thing" sweeps the chess pieces off the table. 

So, anyhow, I gave this CT record a spin or two and made a mental note to pick it up. I like the cover, a lot, and I like that Monk is a sideman on it, and it is adjacent chronologically to the other CT album I have, from all the way back in high school, Duke With A Difference. I don't know how I got that album, it was either a gift from my brother-in-law Jonathan or a pure impulse buy on my part.  Steve Tulipana and I used part of it to make a promotional ad for The Trash Dance, a goofy geek-friendly high school dance where we played Devo and The Clash and slam-danced.  I prompted my dad to say something about how The Trash Dance was really hip and cool, and recorded him with Clark Terry in the background.  Steve and I also recorded some ambient guitars that segued into the Clark Terry/Dad bit and our assistant principal Mr. Stessman said it sounded like Country Joe and The Fish.  

I got a haircut today at Endicott, asking for the usual though I'm kind of wanting a hair style change up, I just don't know what.  My barber Joe and I talked about the Royals and Chiefs and stuff and his grandkids were in there getting after him for money for ice cream.  I went to Endicott the first week I lived here and have gone back every month or six weeks since.  Endicott is down the street from Mills Records so I always go there and it is my Saturday thing, like my dad getting a haircut but instead of shopping for records, Dad shopped for Metamucil at Wal-Mart and fertilizer at Frevert's Tru-Value.

I gave Loretta the dog record clerk some strokes and talked to Judy for a while and looked through the used jazz and half-heartedly flipped through different genres.  It's almost always TOO MUCH information and I shouldn't be spending money anyway.  Then as I was about to bail, feeling like the dip-thong guy who goes to stores but never buys anything, found a small section of new jazz album, maybe thirty or forty albums, and In Orbit was in there.  It just seemed super random and wonderful and I bought it.  Did I mention it is the first record to feature the flugelhorn in the lead role throughout?  So joyful and mellow, it just feels good.

These are circular and self-referential thoughts about how a record arrives in my life but it's one of my joys, it matters to me, more than an accurate review or recommendation.  I know I can't own, know, or understand every record ever made, but I do know how instinct feels and how records define a season of life and this is my particular kind of treasure hunt.

 

Sunday, December 27, 2015

MY COOKING HABITS HAVE BEEN CHOPPED

Lately I have forgotten how to do anything but slap meals together based on expertise I used to practice more carefully, even professionally.  Better now to admit that I don't know how to cook any more and start over and read cookbooks again and be more detail-oriented and to hell with all cooking shows and intimidating competitive chef shows.  I roasted a chicken yesterday, close to perfectly, which is what the three wise men did in their Airstream trailer the day after Christmas, but this did not get in the Bible as it lacked gravitas

We have a Le Creuset roasting dish, very heavy, with an iron lid, and I think I have been enamored with the lid as some kind of old-world magic device.  I have basically steam-murdered the last few roasted dishes I've tried in it.  I looked up a few roast chicken recipes and found the typical temperature was 425 and the typical time was an hour and a quarter or an hour and twenty minutes.  I used to know this but maybe my average temp had crept down in the spirit of "low and slow".  An overcooked, steamed whole chicken gets a mushy texture that is not pleasant.  Braised pork ribs, low and slow,  and a roast chicken are two different things.


Tracy was taking a nap so I listened to the last chapter of Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers using my earbuds and got lost in ideas and chicken prep.  I was fascinated by every sentence of this book,  and of all the Audible books I've enjoyed in the last year,  it featured the best reading.  The guy who does John D. Mcdonald novels reads all the female lines in variously pitched female-ish voices.  It gets kind of weird.


I lightly sautéed onions and carrots and put them in the bottom of the pan with olive oil and a few sage leaves, then stuffed the chicken with garlic and onions and a spoonful of the onions/carrots and a quartered lemon and a bunch of rosemary and time.  Then I stuck it in the oven uncovered at 425 and walked away for some time.

The juices for basting weren't really activated until around an hour or an hour plus.  (I've always found this surprising, the same way I find the bloom of  yeast surprising when making pizza dough.  I doubt up to the last minute that this magic will occur.)  In the last half hour, I crisped some pancetta and set it aside and sautéed green beans and almonds, then tossed them with the pancetta, and made a box of Trader Joe's cornbread stuffing to go with it.  The carrots were thinly sliced and with the lemony-garlicky roasting juices from the chicken, were excellent on top of the stuffing in lieu of gravy. 


This made a fine day after Christmas dinner and I read the forwards to Dust & Grooves: Adventures in Record-Collecting and savored many amazing photographs along with a chicken dinner.  Afterwards I went up to the music room and continued to rearrange, and listened to Arthur Russel's "Love is Overtaking Me", an anthology that features some his early singer-songwritery efforts.  I am reminded to be on the prowl for more Arthur Russell, vintage, reissued, or otherwise.  Like most people my response to a cool book like Dust & Grooves isn't to find another $2000 in the monthly budget for test pressings of Pharaoh Sanders albums.  Rather, I'm reminded to slow down and puts around and enjoy what few special records we do have, while other vinyl nuts curate at a much higher level, requiring additional pilings and floor supports under their record rooms.


Sunday, December 20, 2015

DOODLES TWO WAYS AND A GREAT DOCUMENTARY

I've been having a good time with Sharpie art and with my entry level digital keyboard run through GarageBand with added guitars and some analog percussion. Both of these are doodles (on paper and .wav file) that accrued over a couple of weeks. Both modes are more about chilling out, and fitting it in when I can. 





*** 

This documentary is wonderful--inspiring and renewing.  It's streaming on Netflix.


Friday, December 11, 2015

TGIF IN TEN TRILLION OTHER UNIVERSES AND THIS ONE

Friday, December 11, 2015
(transcription of typical morning journal writing at SquidHQ)
Gratitudinals:  I am grateful for stop lights--what a mess without those.  I am grateful for sharp cheddar cheese, enormous bullfrogs, hobby rocket kits, colored markers, notebooks, blank cassette tapes, and 3 terabyte hard drives.  I am grateful for those who are muses to me and grateful if ever I am a muse to someone else. 

Curiosity: Are there parallel universes?  If there are infinite possibilities is it not a fractilized honeycomb of potentials more than a straight line parallel?  Ten trillion trillion light years from here this moment in all its detail is a potential--but I could be wearing a different shirt.  Just in shirt choices alone, how many potential honeycombs of manifesting iterations are there of this moment?  And how many trillions of trillions of light year for a reiteration of this shirt, but missing a button?

I'm glad its Friday.  Last night Tracy worked at Tannin so I fed Joe and Susan's dogs, walked our dogs, ran myself, and then went down to Brookside and had dinner at the pub down there, I forget its name but they are somewhat well known for their hot dogs and fish and chips.  At first I looked in the window and saw great banks of TV's and thought it was kind of a frat place, but I walked around the block and rejected other options and then bucked up and went in, a man alone anxious about eating alone in a crowded bar.  I think it's a nice neighborhood pub, well-run, with good food.   They have Firestone Union Jack IPA on tap--that is a major plus.  I'll go back there for sure, the nachos looked great.

I ran 3.3 miles last night, up around the Nelson and down Main to 51st and up the stairs through UMKC.  It wasn't a terrible run; it felt good at first.  There were a lot of traffic stops that probably amounted to 30 second on my splits.  I'm feeling the difference with daily exercise--I JUST DO IT, and if I catch myself worrying about "will I be able to keep this up?  what if I quit?" I just focus on DOING IT today.  There are some things in life that require vision and goals and strategy but among the things you can just do every day without a lot of doubt is get 45 minutes to an hour of exercise.  It becomes an anchor--an anchor that keeps you moving.  The other thing you can do for 45 minutes to an hour is write.  The other thing is make music.  The other thing is talk to a friend on the phone--all of these add up to needing just a part time job that pays the same as a full time job, with benefits as good as the  gridlocked U.S. Senate gets for doing nothing, so you can do these things.

My record collection turned into a monolith in the last year--the color and forms and moods inside it went to sleep.  I even considered selling it, for the money to pay off a credit card, but lately pulling out random things has brought it back to life--Joni Mitchell with Jaco Pastorious; Leaving Trains--anything really.  Overall my big kick has been Steve Reich--I've been listening to his music a bunch.  I have a cd but mainly I've been listening on Spotify.  It's good music to listen to for half an hour in the midst of a busy fabrication shop that sometimes goes many directions at once--figuring out weldments to be subbed out and how they fit together; renting a truck, canceling it because it's too big, then discovering that UPS has claimed every cargo van in town for the holiday, and re-renting a truck but smaller; tracking down an elusive engineered drawing of a plaque that someone assumes I understand because it was like that one from a project six years ago.  You need subtly dovetailing marimba patterns and a few deep breaths to go seven directions at once.