Thursday, August 27, 2009

Le soleil se lève le soleil s'en va

Jean-Paul Lemieux is one of my all-time favourite painters, and one of my all-time favourite paintings by him is the 1972, June Wedding. I first saw an image of this work at a dear friend's home right here in this city.
It's most garishly reproduced here (the image on the stamp) but it's just a wee taste of the original which hangs not in a museum, but in the hallway of the CBC Radio Offices on Réne-Lévesque Blvd East, here in Montréal. Just in case anyone wants to go have a look-see.

His simple yet undeniably potent and somehow melancholic ability to express winter landscape and the humans found therein has always touched me.

Sometimes Blurry is Best

Interesting how beautiful so many situations appear to be when the lens that one is looking through changes. An argument in taffeta becomes some type of ode-to-an-aesthetic of yore, looses all of its astringent culpability. I feel like that idea, of how the lens at which life is looked through informs your overall satisfaction, is such an age-old cliché, but one that holds a bit of juice left in its glass jar regardless.

Lately, stress has seemingly gotten the better of me, something I think (potentially) others reading this or flying past it can relate to. A healthy amount of stress is one thing, but the addiction we have to it in my culture (being of the North American kind) means that the bar becomes raised, and what is regular in terms of expectations and productivity truly becomes an unhealthy norm.

All the more reason then to blur that lens and let go of the perspectives I have about stress. Even with certain elements and responsibilities being ones I can neither avoid nor wish to, I think it is truly a choice to be stressed out about my life and its parts. Better to feed my stomach when hungry and leave the stress-beasts to waste away in their caverns within. I might miss their ability to shake and stir my insides for awhile once they've died off from malnutrition, but I doubt I'll miss their wails and hysterias. There are other silly monsters to spend time with that leave less of a mark upon saying goodbye.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Friday, August 21, 2009

Of the things that leave one.

There are those moments where you are less aware of the changes, they happen slowly and resound in a way that takes so long to echo they could easily be considered a different sort of sound completely, by the time they fall back and are noticed.

And then, the instances where the change is undeniably present, like a visitor at the dinner table ready for seconds, watching. They aren't necessarily an unwelcome visitor either, or a rude or obnoxious sort, but perhaps their overall countenance reminds one of the melancholic moments of childhood. A sadness pervades their being so that the others present cannot help but feel its heart-heavy pull.

To the heart-strings of all who have gone through this, are going through it, will go through it. To all of us then, as it is a story and a visit received by most. That we can honour who or what that guest represents and has represented, and that we can graciously walk through these changes not unscathed, but wiser, and with an appreciation of the hues they leave including the bright merry ones, including the more dissonant, difficult shades.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

How some things never change....

....or at least seem to be somewhat applicable to a larger assortment of cultures and spaces and times...

"The Constables, and the Bow Street men from London - for, this happened in the days of the extinct red-waistcoated police - were about the house for a week or two, and did pretty much what I have heard and read of like authorities doing in such cases. They took up several obviously wrong people, and they ran their heads very hard against wrong ideas, and persisted in trying to fit the circumstances to the ideas, instead of trying to extract ideas from the circumstances. Also, they stood about the door of the Jolly Bargemen, with knowing and reserved looks that filled the whole neighbourhood with admiration; and they had a mysterious manner of taking their drink, that was almost as good as taking the culprit. But not quite, for they never did it.

Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Of the quiet through the trees

and all the things that be in the morning.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Battle of the Bands

Tonight I found myself honoured to be part of the Puces Pop Rock Lottery, which was a Montreal event that found a bunch of musical people getting mixed and matched randomly to make new 'Super bands'.

Each band got 5 days to write, learn and then perform 2 songs. I was paired up with three folks I have never met before, Soren Brothers, Sunil Sarwal and Tasha Cyr. Needless to say, it was an awesome experience. The creative process becomes so raw and immediate when you have to come up, in almost no time, with something cohesive with strangers. This type of constraint pushes forward not only new ways of thinking musically, but offers a chance to work the muscles of compromise and teamwork.

We had a total blast, (they are all amazing folks and great musicians) and wrote some pretty killer stuff I gotta say. We ended up choosing the theme of the Lion King for both our songs, (yes, yes, from Walt Disney) and somehow managed to cram the entire storyline into two 4-minute long ditties.

Highlights from the lyrics we wrote as a group include, "Gotta kill Scar", "One of us must stay and one must go" and "Lion King, I am King!"

I loved my band-mates, the rest of the groups were incredible creative and innovative, and a great time was had by all. And to top off the evening with a nice big cherry (which I actually find disgusting, honestly) we won the contest. Take that high school battle of the bands.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Giant Theremin Dreams Can Happen to Anyone!

Help me realize the dream of helping two amazing engineer/artists programmed for Art Pop 2009 build a giant room-sized theremin! Watch this video and go to kickstarter and donate and get awesome prizes, like jokes with your name in them all the way to a loudspeaker suit. Check it out!

And yes, obviously I am committed to this project enough if I am willing to jump around in a video like this. Not embarassed at all....

here's the link that gets you to the project description and prizes...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Reviving the Lost Art of Being Overly Excited

This was one of the best things I ever watched, I am sure.
What could be more connected to my 90-day sensual challenge than a movie about people who use guts, heart, determination, feelings and skill to produce the world's most awe-inspiring and legendary pianos?

The documentary Note by Note, produced and directed by Ben Niles, is a breathtaking and important film about the making of one of Steinway's Grand Pianos used in professional concert settings. Taking over a year to make, (the piano, not the documentary) and involving the handiwork of numerous craftsman from a plethora of different specialized areas, (the tuning itself takes over a month to perfect) watching the production of one of these incredible instruments is like watching a team of unique and highly passionate people give birth to an awesome monster of sound and magic. Yeah. You know what I mean. You've seen teams do this before...

I was particularly struck by several things that all the folks had in common, from the musicians that get to play these works of art to the people who bang the wood initially into shape. They all had an exceptionally sensitive understanding of the nuances and individual personalities behind each instrument. They each cared deeply about processes that rely on human problem solving and human intuition and heart, and they all shared an across-the-boards passion for what they do.

Yet with these similarities, at the same time, they all came from such different backgrounds. The folks who work at Steinway are characters enough that even if they were building something other than these magnificent beasts, you'd still want to watch a documentary about them. One man, an amazingly jovial Irishman, talks about how the team of people that make up the workers would look like the UN if they all brought in the flags of where they're from. They speak a heap of different languages and range in age, background, taste and skill in so many ways. But they all have a beauty and a wisdom that unites them together in the most profound of ways.

A plate-fitter, for instance, talks about how he closes his eyes to "feel" out where there are problems with his work. Another discusses how he puts heart into his job which is one of the things a machine (most piano companies rely on machines nowadays) cannot account for. Many of the workers are aware of the importance of handing down training and knowledge on the job, and about how real-life experience is what makes all the difference. Some are quiet, reserved and fastidious, while others look like (or are) Dead Heads, and still others resemble truckers that have been on the road for a long, long time. They all blow your socks off with their intelligence, deep understanding of their craft, and their awareness of the need to be sensual when applying their knowledge to the building of the Steinways.

I could go on and on and on here for this film really did tear the top off my head. And hats off (tumbled, really) to all the lovely and intensely exciting folks in the world who are able to, with hand, gavel, crook or song, create objects together of a beauty that surpasses any understanding of what the word means in the first place.

Reviving the Lost Art of Naming the World

I am a linking machine lately. But that's ok when it has to do with important things like taxonomy!

And Ernst Haeckle.

Isabella Rosellini Rocks.

Oh my god. This proves that everything wrong in life should just be ignored. Everything that is right and awesome will win. I am so dumbfounded by the amazingness of this that I don't even know what to say. Other than it will be alright. All of it.

And if you can't get enough, (how could you) here's even more wild behaviour from the real Queen of All, Isabella Rosellini.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

My friends rock.

I am so, so proud of all the awesome stuff the people I know do.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

And a first...

On Friday, I was at a party in a considerable way, (no I won't elaborate) that got busted up by the cops. Alright.

Not really sure why this is worthy of a spread-onto-the-eyes-of-others, but maybe it was kindof fun. Most people were annoyed or just friggin' angry at the Man, but truth be told, I thought it was kindof awesome. That's all.

Apparently I am a person of little words currently. Another first.

This sums pretty much all of it up in one sentence

But this is the exalted melancholy of our fate, that every Thou in our world must become an it.

Good ole' Martin Buber, again.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Of where we will dream of, all of us, together.

Of the window-displays made with love, just for you

This window, on street level at a corner-of-somewhere in Montreal, seems to change every once in a-while, a residential art installation. It's stuffed with all the love someone can muster (and it's a great, globulous amount) for the beautiful beasts held within certain objects. Oh how frog and sun and dairy cow unite and squabble and fall in and out of of of with each other, and manage to do so quite gracefully, sentimentally, in such cramped quarters. Or perhaps it is not cramped, but it is my perspective of what cramped is. They likely have all the room in the world.

Of the lights that hang... the trees, like glass beads on the necks of friends...

Monday, August 3, 2009

If Chaos is the new black, then Buber is the new Chaos.

The person who experiences has not part in the world. For it is "in them" and not between them and the world that the experience arises.

The world has no part in the experience. It permits itself to be experienced, but has no concern in the matter. For it does nothing to the experience, and the experience does nothing to it.

Martin Buber, from I and Thou

Chaos is the new black.

So I was trying to unwind the computer plug from some-other-plug-me-into-something this morning, and as usual, even though I had unwound it very recently, (the night before or some-such), it was in a tangled, tangled mess.

Why do these things always find a way of restoring disorder into their very fibres, and so quickly at that? I have, for years, felt that the way of the chord and plug and computer bug are all signs of an inherent desire things have to head towards chaos or decay. I am sure there are a billion theories more scientific than mine to explain and prove this feeble grasp my mind has on such tendencies, but no matter. Point being, we are not made, nor do we make, things that stay in place and continue in immortal, untouched fashions. We create objects and notions that reflect our very essence of breaking in and breaking down over time bone hair movement thought.

I have always found this fascinating and have sometimes asked why. It occurred to me today as I was unwinding the wind mentioned above that perhaps one of the reasons for this is to allow yourself the space to have lower expectations and more patience. If everything always worked and ran smoothly, we'd never consider snags-in-the-plan or have to problem solve, or slow down. Even the act of consciously taking the knots out of the chords of our little machines can be cumbersome and infuriating if we want to start our day now, that is, the part that concerns that little machine anyhow. Chaos lets us breathe for a moment and remember as we do get ready for the things running on electricity to run that we're already having a day, anyhow.

And what reassurance in that, friends. So I swear I am going to thank the next machine or thing that equals snag-in-my-day. Preferably a vending machine that breaks and gives me unlimited chocolate bars, but I am willing to compromise.