Wednesday, December 30, 2009

who do you love

Borrow trouble for yourself, if that's your nature, but don't lend it to your neighbours.
Rudyard Kipling (b. 30 december 1865 - 1936) author & poet

today is also the anniversary of rock and roll legend and guitar great bo diddley (1928-2008); according to the portal of all knowledge, diddley is well known for the 'bo diddley' beat, "a style used by street performers who play out the beat by slapping and patting their arms, legs, chest, and cheeks while chanting rhymes. Somewhat resembling "shave and a haircut, two bits" beat, Diddley came across it while trying to play Gene Autry's "(I've Got Spurs That) Jingle, Jangle, Jingle".

over the years, I had the good fortune of seeing diddley a few times, he gave one heck of a show! diddley was inducted into the rock and roll hall of fame in 1987. by the way bo diddley was his stage name, bo was born ellas otha bates.

photo: dixie (my "grandpup") christmas morning, 2009

Saturday, December 26, 2009

the wren song

A wren in the hand is better than a crane to be caught.
Irish Proverb

happy st. stephen's day, the day of the wren, or boxing day! in many parts of the world today is an 'official holiday' and a day with special significance. in the united states, the day after christmas is just another day, unless one takes the day off work or it falls on the weekend, it's back to business as usual.

for me this day is marked by some special songs. of course, foremost is the wren song - since it has a long tradition there are many versions of the song. the song first came to my attention many years ago after hearing it sung by the clancy brothers. another song I always like to listen to on december 26th is elvis costello and paddy maloney's st. stephen day murders. the song is on perhaps my all time favorite holiday album the bells of dublin by the chieftains; the album contains several songs particular to st. stephen's day as they feature to the wren (which according to legend betrayed st. stephen which led to him being caught and martyred).

recently, f and I heard eileen ivers perform the wren song when she and her band played with the cleveland orchestra at their (hopefully) annual holiday performance at severance hall. a couple years ago eileen released an nollaig, an irish christmas album; surprising the album doesn't contain the wren song, although eileen does discuss her family's tradition of celebrating the wren day in her liner notes.

earlier this month liam clancy, the last of the clancy brothers died at age 74. liam was the youngest of eleven children from county tipperany. the ny times obituary for liam includes a 1984 quote by bob dylan:
“I never heard a singer as good as Liam ever. He was just the best ballad singer I’d ever heard in my life. Still is, probably.”
liam, who was a few years older than dylan, befriended bob when they were both young folk singers in greenwich village. liam moved to new york in 1956 and soon after his career took off. rest in peace liam, thank you for all the beauty and grace you brought to the world.

the clancy brothers on the mike douglas show in 1969 performing the wren song.

photos: top - okay I know these are sparrows not wrens but they are both small brown birds; bottom - ivers and immigrant soul performing at severance hall in 2008; I took a couple (non-flash) pictures last year at the concert and although I was sneaky I did end up getting reprimanded by the woman sitting next to me who just happened to be an employee of the hall; I was quite chagrined. this year I didn't want to be tempted and I left my camera behind.

Friday, December 25, 2009

gabriel's message

wishing you a holiday filled with sweet loving kindness

merry christmas

god bless us, every one!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

take the 'a' train

last month was the anniversary of walker evans birth. evans' birthday inspired me to seek out some books about him and his work from the local library. one book that I checked out was many are called - the book was composed of photographs walker surreptitiously shot from 1938 to 1941 of people riding the nyc subway. walker used a concealed camera to take portraits of strangers riding the subway; each picture is incredible as each is a microcosm of history, biography, and personality.

walker's work in the subway inspired me to play around and take some candid pictures of some of my fellow subway riders. although my camera wasn't concealed, I did manage to surreptitiously snap a number of photographs of my fellow subway passengers. just as evans' photographs do for the late 30s/early 40s, perhaps, these photos capture life circa 2009. for my flickr slide show (21 pics) of these snaps go HERE. if you check them out - please let me know what you think - there are a couple, like the one above, that I think really like, I'd love to learn which is your fave.

ella fitzgerald with duke ellington and his orchestra performing the jazz standard take the 'a' train. of all the subways lines in nyc, the 'a' train has to be is my favorite (if for no other reason than it's the line I'm most familiar with) - on the 'a' train you can travel from north of washington heights, through harlem, all the way through the rest of manhattan, under the brooklyn bridge and across brooklyn to ozone park or past jfk airport to rockaway beach. and to think you can go all that way for a mere 2 bucks 50 cents! what a deal!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

solstice song

I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December
A magical thing
And sweet to remember.
"We are nearer to Spring"
Than we were in September.
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.

Oliver Herford (1863 - 1935) writer, artist and illustrator

The mid December solstice marks the beginning of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and summer in the Southern Hemisphere.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the Winter Solstice occurs on December 21, 2009 at 12:47 PM EST and 17:47 UT (Universal Time).

In the Southern Hemisphere, the Winter Solstice takes place on June 21, 2009 5:45 UT (Universal Time).

While the beginning of summer marks the longest day of the year, the winter solstice brings the shortest day - and the longest night! - of the year.

the above information (and much more) about solstice comes from here.

happy solstice!

denise jordan finley's short and sweet solstice song

photo: washington dc. november 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

animal crackers in my soup

before I left nyc on monday last, I had the good fortune to go on a photo safari with fellow shutterbug and blogging bud julian. we were on the hunt for street art and in a relatively short time we encountered quite a bit of stimulating and thought provoking stuff. of course, it does helps when one is on a wander to be with someone who has already scouted out the terrain. the photo above is a detail from an amazing (and most curious) mural which honors the zapatista revolution in chiapas.

for a virtual tour of what we captured, check out this slide show. with the exception of the first couple snaps, all the photos were taken in harlem.

shirley temple singing animal crackers in my soup from the 1935 musical curly top

Thursday, December 17, 2009

we didn't start the fire

In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) philosopher, founding 'father' and 3rd US president

I would like the angels of Heaven to be among us. I would like an abundance of peace. I would like full vessels of charity. I would like rich treasures of mercy. I would like cheerfulness to preside over all.
Saint Brigid of Ireland (c. 451 – 525) one of the three patron saints of Ireland

If monarchy is corrupting - and it is - wait till you see what overt empire does to us.

Daniel Ellsberg (b. 1931) economist and anti-war activist

Old friends pass away, new friends appear. It is just like the days. An old day passes, a new day arrives. The important thing is to make it meaningful: a meaningful friend - or a meaningful day.
Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama (born 1935)

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.
Harriet Tubman (1820-1913) abolitionist and humanitarian

I would venture to guess that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.

Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) novelist and essayist

The museums and parks are graveyards above the ground- congealed memories of the past that act as a pretext for reality.
Robert Smithson (1938-1973) artist best known for his land art

When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said, 'Let us pray.' We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land.
Bishop Desmond Tutu (b. 1931) spiritual leader,activist, writer

Hold on to what is good,
Even if it's a handful of earth.
Hold on to what you believe,
Even if it's a tree that stands by itself.
Hold on to what you must do,
Even if it's a long way from here.
Hold on to your life,
Even if it's easier to let go.
Hold on to my hand,
Even if someday I'll be gone away from you.

A Pueblo Indian Prayer

God has a brown voice, as soft and full as beer.

Anne Sexton (1928-1974) poet & writer

notes on photos:
  1. petroglyphs in chaco canyon; hundreds of years ago chaco canyon was the center of anasazi culture. then the anasazi disappeared, what happened remains a mystery, although as with all mysteries there are plenty of theories. new mexico. december 1987
  2. gallarus oratory, an early christian church, established between the 6th and 9th century. located on the dingle peninsula, county kerry, ireland. may 2001
  3. 1st century aqueduct constructed by the roman empire. added to unesco's world heritage sites in 1985. pont du gard, france. october 2005
  4. statue of tara, mother of all activities, made in tibet (13th century) rubin museum of art, new york. october 2009
  5. larger-than-life bronze replica of harriet tubman, positioned at the intersection of 122nd street, st. nicholas avenue and frederick douglass boulevard in harlem (dedicated november 2008), new york. december 2009
  6. judy chicago's the dinner party, a massive ceremonial banquet, each of the thirty-nine place settings commemorates an important woman from history. the settings consist of embroidered runners, gold chalices and utensils, and china-painted porcelain plates with central motifs based on vulvar and butterfly forms and rendered in styles appropriate to the individual women being honored. the names of another 999 women are inscribed in gold on the white tile floor below the triangular table. brooklyn museum, new york. december 2009
  7. the british museum houses a vast collection of world art and artifacts, numbering more than seven million objects, making them amongst the largest and most comprehensive collections in the world, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its beginning to the present. one of the best things about the museum is that it is free and open to all! london. may 2001
  8. christopher columbus landed in hispaniola in december 1492, during the first of his four voyages to america. the arrival of columbus and subsequent conquering spaniards decimated the taínos, the island's indigenous people by introducing infectious diseases to which they had no immunity. santa domingo. november 2003
  9. taos pueblo was probably built between 1000 and 1450 a.d. in 1960 it was designated a national historic landmark and in 1992 became a world heritage site. the most amazing thing about taos pueblo is that is still inhabitated; in 2006, about 150 people lived in there full-time. december 1987
  10. f and I in front of the st. james gate brewery. beer is the world's oldest and most consumed alcoholic beverage. humankind's earliest writings relate to the production and distribution of beer. dublin. may 2001

history buff billy joel's ode to boomer history (circa 1940-1990) we didn't start the fire

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

first snow on brooklyn

I'm back!

nyc was particularly magical - not only was the city all decked out for the holidays, but one magical thing after another keep happening.

I started hilary mantel's wolf hall on the train going out, I didn't read while in the city (too much going on) but still I've almost completed this wonderful literary romp through the life of thomas cromwell. if what mantel writes truly mirrors historic fact, I've learned so much. if it doesn't reflect reality, it's still a marvelous read, unfortunately, the downside to reading historical fiction away from the internet is the lack of being able to verify factoids.

friday I amused myself with a visit to brooklyn and a trip to the mta transit museum. for years I've tried to convince family and friends to go with me to 'the subway museum', no one was interested. go figure. so this trip I decided to visit the museum by myself. I had a grand time. okay, I am the mass transit geek - which probably explains why I get along so well with children under the age of 6 (don't they all adore thomas the train?) - geez, if I don't watch it I may very well become one of those trainspotters (or railfans) in my dotage.

friday night before alice from washington state arrived (alice's trip east was the whole raison d'être for this trip east) I had the good fortune to meet up with a couple blog buds - steve and gary. 'twas great fun.

once alice arrived the fun and frivolity continued - alice and I have been friends for over 36 years so in addition to fun and frivolity there was also great depth to our time together.

on saturday alice and I headed were again brooklyn bond (btw, we were staying with friends in manhattan north of the gw bridge). our intention was to simply go to the brooklyn museum; alice hadn't seen judy's dinner party installation in decades and we were most interested in checking out the exhibit who shot rock & roll. prior to the museum we wandered through the farmer's market at grand army plaza. then as we were walking by the brooklyn public library I said why don't we ditch in for a sec to see what it's like inside.
who would have known that inside the library was celebrating the 40th anniversary of sesame street. I was in heaven to say the least! click here for a wee flickr set of the brooklyn library's focusing on sesame street artifacts (14 pics).
we left the libraryto find ourselves surrounded by an amazing parade of santas and other holiday characters - when asked participants informed us that the santa convention was courtesy of santacon. it was completely wild and crazy! for the mouse's set of pics from this rocking and randy convergence go here.

after the hanging with the santas it was time to get serious and head into the museum.... and of course that too rocked. and the magic continued with lucking out and catching a gallery tour conducted by none other than gail buckland, the curator of the show.

alas, the witching hour is upon me and my eyes are crossing. I had little sleep last night (train arrived in cleveland at 3:30 AM this morning)so it's time to crash. perhaps if you are lucky (or unlucky) more to come tomorrow......

the sweet song first snow on brooklyn from the jethro tull christmas album - vid by teiska123, thanks whomever you are!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

just like this train

the mouse is soon off on another wander. I'm crossing my fingers that the wintry mess of weather that is all about doesn't play havoc with train travel .

the plan is to board a car that looks like this

around 5:20 a.m.

pass this sight sometime in the late afternoon

and hopefully by 6:30 be here

see you next week! y'all take care.

just like this train, from joni's 1974 albumn court and spark!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

el gusto

All art is propaganda - religious art, political art. The only difference is the kind of propaganda. Since art is essential for human life it can't just belong to the few. Art is the universal language and it belongs to all mankind.
Diego Rivera (8 december 1886-1957) artist

the photo above is one of four diego rivera murals that adorn various walls throughout the san francisco bay area. this one is located at the san francisco art institute and entitled making a fresco (or the making of a fresco showing the building of a city). the mural plays with the viewer with its utilization of a trompe l’oeil wood scaffold and how it features a fresco inside a fresco. rivera has place himself in the center of the mural, with his back to the viewer. a complete description of the mural can be found here.

rivera is known primarily as a muralist, but like most artists he was quite versatile. during the late 1930s and 1940s diego was drawn to portraiture, as with all of his work he often depicted the indigenous peoples of mexico. the photo above is of a watercolor entitled portrait of a girl it was done in the mid 1940s and is currently on view at the allen memorial art museum (amam) in oberlin as part of its exhibit out of line: drawings from the allen from the twentieth century and beyond. pardon the odd angle of the photo, sometimes it's difficult to take photos of art hanging on gallery walls, particularly when glass and overhead lights are involved.

by the way, the allen will be closing on december 23rd for several months while the museum undergoes some significant renovations.

el gusto, as performed by los camperos de valles at the 2005 smithsonian folklife festival. the song was used in the soundtrack for the 2002 movie frida. in the movie alfred molino was to diego rivera as salma hayek was to frida kahlo. in my humble opinion, both actors did an amazing job channeling the charisma and passionate nature of the two artists - if you haven't seen the movie, it's your loss; but a loss, I expect can be easily remedied.

according to the youtube description for this vid, the los camperos de valles has
come to represent the best in one of Mexico's most distinctive and uplifting folk music traditions—the son huasteco. In the son huasteco tradition, poetic lyrics often deal with themes of longing, love, and nature. The melancholy themes often contrast with and yet somehow complement the playful melodies. "El gusto" (The Pleasure) is about lost love and typifies how imagery of rural life is often used to portray this pain and longing in son huasteco.

Monday, December 7, 2009

shiny happy people

All over the place, from the popular culture to the propaganda system, there is constant pressure to make people feel that they are helpless, that the only role they can have is to ratify decisions and to consume.
Noam Chomsky (b. 7 december 1928) philosopher, linguist, activist

although it was a cold this weekend here on the north coast it was the clear, crystal cold that makes you want to spend time outside. perfect since this weekend was the annual holiday bazaar sponsored by women speak out for peace and justice. for years I've been going to this seasonal happening with jane. I love going with jane as she's always up for a bit of a wander and and we never know what we will end up getting into.

jane is an avid organic gardener and is plugged into the local sustainability community. she recently received an email asking folks to help with a coop moving project at gather 'round farm, a unique urban permaculture garden located in the heart of the ohio city neighborhood. jane asked if that sounded like something I'd be interested in; of course, I jumped at the idea, but stated that I wouldn't be good for much more than documenting the activity. I'm slowly (and I mean slowly) trying to recover from tendon tear (without having to result to having surgery). well, I didn't need to worry of feel bad about not being provide any muscle, the turn out was outstanding - a little flickr show of the farm and the coop moving can be seen here. the chicken coop only really needed to be moved about a foot or two so it could rest on cement supports.

after the visit to the gather 'round farm we headed to the west side market. the place was bustling and was all decked out for the holidays. after the market we made a few more rounds meeting quite a few shiny happy people along the way and eventually we found our way home.

sunday proved just as full and busy as saturday and I'm thinking the pace will be sustained from now until the end of the year! speaking of full and busy, time to run!

two renditions of rem performing their infectiously giddy 1991 song, shiny happy people

a tradition version

and version where r.e.m performs shiny happy people, or rather should I say furry happy monsters with a few of their more adorable friends!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

kind and generous

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one.'
C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) scholar and novelist

What an enormous magnifier is tradition! How a thing grows in the human memory and in the human imagination, when love, worship, and all that lies in the human heart, is there to encourage it.
Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881)historian and essayist

Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Albert Camus (1913-1960)novelist, essayist and playwright

Let us put our minds together and see what life we can make for our children.
Sitting Bull (ca 1831-1890)Lakota holy man

If we are to achieve a richer culture, rich in contrasting values, we must recognize the whole gamut of human potentialities, and so weave a less arbitrary social fabric, one in which each diverse human gift will find a fitting place.
Margaret Mead (1901-1978) anthropologist

If dogs could talk, perhaps we would find it as hard to get along with them as we do with people.
Karel Čapek (1890-1938) writer

A hug is a great gift - one size fits all, and it's easy to exchange.

The trouble with life isn't that there is no answer, it's that there are so many answers.

Ruth Benedict (1887-1948) author & anthropologist

The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.
Elisabeth Foley

notes on photos:
  1. mural on the side of the western reserve historical society, cleveland. january 2009
  2. new year's eve is a time of celebration and is often particularly marked by gatherings of friends. some of our cleveland friends have a tradition to call in the new year with a celebratory feast which is heavy on friendship, food, and fun.
  3. ms t holding the hand of a friend. july 2009
  4. a group of friends pose and share some smiles and attempt to teach me a little spanish. guaricano, dominican republic, november 2002
  5. neighbors and friends gather for a block party. although I moved the previous year, the draw of friendship drew me back. unfortunately, this was the last of the annual summertime block parties. shaker heights, september 2006
  6. dog friends at the lakewood dog park a wonderful community resource where both canine and human friends gather. even though I don't have a dog, I enjoy going to the dog park to socialize with my human and dog buddies. february 2009
  7. group hug among friends. new york city, march 2009
  8. my mother and I making some new friends on a family trip to japan. summer 1965
  9. alice, a friend of thirty-six years, pointing to wise and true expression about friends. austin, april 2009

missing above is a picture that captures all the friends I've made via the blogosphere; but to the right is a snap featuring a few of the faces from my bloggyhood (steve, lettuce and reya and the back of blissful gary) at a meeting in metro dc in may 2008. before I started blogging I would have never imagined how my circle of friends could expand through this activity, but over the last couple years of blogging, I've had the good fortune to meet some of my bloggyhood friends in the flesh. these meetings confirm that the connections forged in the blogosphere are just as real, kind, and generous as the friendships made in all the other spheres of my life. in the days, months, and years to come, I hope I will have more opportunities to meet bloggyhood friends. given my propensity to wandering, I know that this will happen - be it there, here, or anywhere. until then, real hugs to you!

natalie merchant's 1998 song 'kind and generous' a most wonderful thank you to the all friends in our lives.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


The bird a nest, the spider a web, man friendship.
William Blake (1757–1827) poet and artist

december 1 is world aids day. my heart today is filled with loving thoughts for all our family and friends who have died of aids and for everyone whose lives have been affected by the hiv/aids pandemic.

wondering what you can do? there are many wonderful programs around the world, however, for me this program really stands out. the people involved with the faith alive clinic are truly angels on earth. several years ago two family friends spent their sabbaticals working with the clinic; they returned home filled with incredible stories of hope and healing. it is really great that with the advances in the treatment of hiv and with the reduction of the price of antivirals, our annual donation is now helping twice as many people now than when we joined as sponsors several years ago. how often does something like that happen?

photo: remember the snap of this nest posted over five months ago? this photo was taken in late october as evidenced by the leaves remaining on some trees.