Smart

Listening to Zero 7 (Simple Things) The album Simple Things is saturated in memories for me. This is one of my favorite aspects of music – its power to transport you to another time with complete clarity. In the case of Simple Things I am brought back to a bittersweet time of confusion and the start of a major life transformation. (No, it wasn’t a sex change.) The relief I feel to have all that behind me is almost overwhelming (it really wasn’t a sex change), and adds a unique dimension to the album. I know no one else hears the same thing as I do when I listen to it. It’s my very own version, and it’s inextricably part of my life experience. Music has shaped many of my life experiences, starting in college. But it wasn’t until I moved to DC right after graduation that I got immersed into the concert scene and music became the thread that held everything together. I had this fantastic group of friends, the likes of which you have only in your early to mid 20s. Right out of school, no responsibilities, dew-y optimism glinting on the brow, we ran all over DC seeking out the best happy hours and going to see bands in small, dark clubs. We’d go dancing on Thursday nights, not even leaving the house until 11p. I’d get home at 4a and get back up at 7 to go to work, my liver happy to get me back in good form by lunch. Being young and resilient is fun. Fast forward to now, when after my last...

Inspired

Listening to School of Seven Bells (Windstorm) Directly to the left: Behold! My Symbol. I’m more like Prince now than ever before. Dig if you will the Symbol. I arrived at this symbol through the compression and re-working of the phrase “Life in balance” which is a motto of sorts for me. I can hear you all clamoring to know more more MORE about how I found out about this symbol-making creative process. Wait no longer, fair reader(s). Read on. It’s a pretty amazing story. Because life takes one on unexpected and (largely due to the unexpected-ness) magical adventures, I spent Saturday night enraptured by the NYC skyline as viewed from the roof deck of a Long Island City high rise. And because life sometimes figures one could use a little push in the right direction, I met someone on that roof deck who shifted my trajectory at a time when nothing else was or could. And finally, because life, every once in a while, deems one worthy of an indulgence the likes of which one would never think was possible, that trajectory shifter just happened to be the main #1 guy in one of my favorite bands. Let me set the scene: Saturday was the Coney Island Mermaid Parade. H_ and I were to attend, to witness the debauchery first-hand, and possibly get a glimpse of this year’s King Neptune, Lou Reed. H_ had done some reconnaissance among her friends who had attended the parade in the past, and had the full report. Salient points: 1. Drunk, possibly naked people – about 500,000 of them 2. Chances of...

Joy-Full

Listening to Flaming Lips (Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots) My latest show deserves more than this quick post, but I have an overwhelming need to be prone on my couch with cold cucumbers over my eyes and my feet up. I swear I’m watching myself go gray in real time – kind of like Obama. I need to create a more spa-like daily life situation for myself with a Zen outlook to go along with it. My dear friend L_ labeled this year Two Thousand Zen. If I take that on as my mantra (even though it’s already June, and I can therefore only hope to achieve half the Zen I could have had as an early adopter), lay around at night with cucumbers over my eyes, and then pay myself $150 for it, Voila! instant spa. While my cucumber slices are chilling, I shall share with you my night with Josh Ritter at Town Hall. I went to dinner beforehand with four of the thousand or so “Future Mrs. Josh Ritter”s in attendance that night and listened to some good stories about past shows of his they’d been to, and how little his real-life wife figured into their plans to marry him. Some truly fascinating conversation about urban planning and NYC charter schools, coupled with yummy Greek food, made for a great set-up for the show. I’d seen Josh open for Swell Season earlier this year and really enjoyed it. He’s so easy to listen to. Beautiful voice, melodic songs – nothing challenging or aggressive about any of it. The January show was at Radio City and he...

Transcendent

Listening to Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings (Songs from the House of Soul) The way I figure it, artists fall into two categories (more or less): the talented and the gifted. Some artists have the talent, the technical skill to write a gorgeous song or paint a beautiful picture or compose a poem written in perfect form, but lack the ability (or maybe desire, or fearlessness) to take you on the ride. Their work is a framework in a sense, and you fill in the emotion and soul. The gifted artists are the ones who, through the expression of their art, show the rest of us the path to God/Nirvana/[insert your preferred deity or spiritual apex here]. They are conduits, and usually tortured ones. Maybe they are driven to self-destruction by their dance with the divine juxtaposed against the cold realities of electricity bills, rent and the high cost of a Starbucks latte, or maybe they are trying to escape the hell they tap into (or, quite possibly, Starbucks). Maybe they are tortured from playing in the shadows of both. Giving themselves so completely to expression seems to bestow upon them the ability to take others on the trip. I believe there is room for both. Some days I like to be taken on a trip, and some days I want to drive. Rarely, and divinely, sometimes I get both at once (PJ Harvey, take a bow). Lately I’ve had two experiences with live shows that have shown with clarity the difference between a musician who wants with his whole heart to take you to the heights and depths,...

Soul Quenched

Listening to White Rabbits (It’s Frightening) What do you get when you bring together three college friends for a weekend without kids and husbands, or (if you’re me) kid and endless piles of work? You get Mayhem with a capital Crazy! I exaggerate. We never needed the bail money we had set aside. We couldn’t have been more disparate of interest or temperament at 19 yet, twenty years (give or take) later, Kathleen and Jen are two of the brightest stars in my sky. When in college we were pretty much oil, water and some other substance that doesn’t mix with oil or water; now we have endless topics to discuss, we amuse each other with tales of our children’s antics, we are completely on the same wave-length. They are among the first I go to when I need insight, a reality check or a belly laugh. It took us twenty years to grow into the people we needed to be to be blessed with such richness of friendship, and it was so worth the wait. They came to NYC to visit last weekend. We did a bar crawl of Lower East Side favorites, dined at Taco San Loco, WD-50 and Pastis, and I made them a mix of all NYC bands, both old school Sonic Youth to new school Grizzly Bear. That mix will forever remind me of one of the best weekends I’ve had in a very long time. I’m still grieving that it’s over. Talk of the all NYC bands mix brings me to my latest joy: blip.fm. I’ve found my online home: a site that...

Torn

Listening to: Bon Iver (For Emma, Forever Ago) Justin Vernon, aka Bon Iver, must have been in the exact mood I’m in now when he wrote Skinny Love. God, I cannot get enough of that song. It’s like he’s plugged directly into my emotional tumult, a more musically talented and on-key conduit for my search for inner quiet than I could ever be for myself. I have so much in my life that’s in a state of flux: career, the (hellish, horrible) move, how to build my holistic business. That on top of the usual concerns and stresses of the single mom life. I need to figure out what the hell I’m doing, and For Emma, Forever Ago is winding itself around and through the scene, and pulling me gently toward some inner peace. Honestly, I don’t know the lyrics, and can barely make out what he’s saying. It’s the feeling of the song, the intensity of it, the key (D Minor maybe) that are resonating so deeply. I want to drink Skinny Love and feel it course through my bloodstream. I want to distill Skinny Love and spray it all over myself. Though smelling like isolation and emotional pain may make me hard to be around. That’s OK though. I could use some figuring-out space. Do I choose security, stability and social interaction with adults in an office environment? Or do I stay the course and fight ever harder to stay afloat in the face of economic uncertainty, but with the thrill and challenge inherent in owning my own business, captainess of my own destiny? Huge decision, huge...