Friday, October 15, 2021

Happy Birthday Mr. Fuzz!

Mr. Fuzz is 18 years young today!




Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Welcome to Autumn 2021: September 22 3:31 PM EDT

AUTUMN

by John Keats

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,

    Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
    With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
    And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
        To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells


    With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
        For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
    Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
    Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
    Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
        Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
    Steady thy laden head across a brook;
    Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
        Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
    Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
    And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
    Among the river sallows, borne aloft
       Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
    Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
    The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
        And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.




 

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Advertisement by Erik Satie

This appeared in the November 24, 1888 edition of the weekly publication Le Chat Noir.

Vient de paraître 66, boulevard Magenta, la 3e gymnopédie, par Erik Satie. On ne saurait assez recommander au public musical cette œuvre essentiellement artistique, qui passe, à juste titre, pour l'une des plus belles du siècle qui a vu naître ce malheureux monsieur.

Translation:

Just published 66, boulevard Magenta, la 3e gymnopédie, by Erik Satie. We cannot recommend enough to the musical public this essentially artistic work, which passes, rightly, for one of the most beautiful of the century which saw the birth of this unfortunate man.

The page it comes from - it's in the bottom-right corner.



Tuesday, September 07, 2021

In memory of Earl Rich




I finally got around to donating to the Cousteau Society








Thursday, August 19, 2021

Photo shared on Facebook

Paul McCartney's Facebook account shared this photo, taken by Linda in 1969. 


Such a beautiful man. Oof.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

McCartney 3, 2, 1

Of course I had to watch the Hulu documentary McCartney 3,2,1. One of the great aspects of the show is that it reveals how much the Beatles were influence by Black American musicians.




I won't deny though that I was bitterly disappointed they didn't talk about McCartney's most perfect masterpiece, in my opinion, "I've Just Seen a Face."

This YouTuber covers it. But it's not the same. 



And such a beautiful man. Oof.




Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Haiku: Seen from an Island

 

Almost silent, the

Long boat passes by slowly,

Almost unnoticed.





It's been a long time since I wrote a real haiku.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Friday, June 04, 2021

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Just when I think I've heard it all from the Beatles


I was recently playing a bunch of 1960s music and while listening to "A World Without Love" I recalled that this was a Lennon/McCartney tune, although to be strictly accurate, it was written by McCartney alone, when he was 16. 

You can really tell it's a song by McCartney because of the emphasis on loneliness. I've mentioned before that McCartney has a definite phobia about loneliness, such that he was able to write "Eleanor Rigby" while living the life of the least voluntarily lonely human being possible: a 24-year-old beloved international pop music star.

I wondered if the Beatles had ever recorded the song and while searching for the answer (no) found a Rolling Stone article that mentioned that Peter Asher, a member of the duo Peter and Gordon, who did record it, had a recording of McCartney playing it for him. Asher was the brother of McCartney's then-girlfriend, Jane Asher.

It was then but a quick trip to YouTube land and voila, here is the recording. 

You have to love Lennon, again, and his smart-aleck response to the opening lyric "please lock me away":
'Yes, okay.' End of song.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Central Park in Spring


This is at Conservatory Water in Central Park - no model boat sailing yet though.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

The NYTimes discovers hipsters

While doing some research in the NYTimes archives online I came across this New York Times Magazine article from August 1957: For Cool Cats and Far-Out Chicks - Here is a lexicon for do-it-yourself hipsters of the newest jazz slang. Don't be an oofus, man. Just dig it!

I knew the term hipster had been around long before the Brooklyn scene, but I was surprised to see the term "hippy" in this lexicon, ten years before the Summer of Love. Other terms still around that are mentioned in the article include "gig", "the scene", "far out", "something else" and "hanging out."

But alas, gone by the wayside are "out sack" for an attractive dress; "go-it-all" for a car; and "the snake" for the subway. Meanwhile "oofus" has apparently transformed into "doofus" and the terms "bear" and "blow" have different primary meanings in most hipster social scenes these days.

Jazz slang would be Black slang but I notice the cartoon illustrations all portray white people, which I guess is what you can expect from 1957.



Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Jeffrey Epstein and the Marquis de Sade

Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein's alleged procurer, is in the news lately. I came across this article in the Guardian making the case that Maxwell is not an outlier, but rather typical of the world of wealthy elites who get away with crimes thanks to their privilege.

...there’s still a good chance Maxwell will evade punishment. Epstein himself originally got what was essentially a slap on the wrist after abusing scores of girls, because he was rich and influential and the quality of a person’s defense representation depends on how much money they have. (One way to make the punishment system more egalitarian would be to ban private counsel, so that everyone had to to use the public defender’s office.)

Maxwell has already been able to evade the law for much longer than anyone with less wealth and fewer social connections. But whether she ultimately walks or not, let us be careful not to focus excessively on Maxwell’s individual pathologies. We must also understand the social and economic milieu that made her alleged actions possible.

It reminded me of the Marquis de Sade who got away with multiple rapes, abductions and pedophilia before the law caught up with him. He got away with his crimes for so long because he was an aristocrat, and most of his victims were the working class - servants and prostitutes. Of course he wasn't alone among the aristocracy in abusing the non-elites, he was just more extreme than most, probably he was a certifiable psychopath. But luckily for his historical legacy he also wrote about rape, pedophilia. etc. which made him a hero to some, especially in France.

In the 1990s, American playwright Doug Wright decided that it would be cool to portray de Sade as a hero of free speech, so he wrote QUILLS which was later made into a movie. 

It would be like someone deciding, 200 years from now, to write a play portraying Jeffrey Epstein as a hero. Somebody probably will, if it turns out that Epstein has written a fictionalized version of his crimes and thus qualifying him as an above-bourgeois-morality Great Man of the Arts.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Springtime

Here is Mr. Fuzz during our first spring on West 85th Street. Look at the green elm tree and the ivy, so beautiful. Both destroyed by my neighbors.

In other seasonal news, Sprinter finally arrived yesterday, even though we already had some 60 - 70 degree weather. Sprinter is very late this year thanks to it being unusually cold this winter especially in late February - early March. But as I was walking around Astoria yesterday there was suddenly the exact confluence of temperature and the scent of burning wood necessary for it to really be Sprinter.

Mr. Fuzz is 17 and a half now. He has some health issues but he's hanging in there!

Friday, March 19, 2021

The Randy Disher Podcast

One of the funniest recurring bits on the TV show Monk - which I have mentioned I adore - is when the young police officer Randy Disher talks about - and even performs with - his garage band "The Randy Disher Project."

The last episode of Monk aired in 2009 but the world of Monk has recently be revived, ever-so-briefly, in the first months of the Covid-19 quarantine in the video spot Monk in Quarantine. Jason Gray-Stanford who played Randy Disher appeared on Monk in Quarantine along with Tony Shaloub, Ted Levine and Traylor Howard. 

And now Gray-Stanford is hosting The Randy Disher Podcast which features the Randy Disher Project's theme song "Don't Need a Badge." The Project made a video which was partially shown on Monk episodes but the whole thing is available on YouTube.

I don't normally get so deep into fandom for a TV show. Almost every guy I've had a serious relationship with has been big into Star Trek and while I supported them I could never get into it myself. Now I get it.

The Monk writers had fun with extreme fandom when they created a character, Marci Maven, played by Sarah Silverman.


Sunday, March 14, 2021

I got no tears on my ice cream but you know me, I love pretending


This woman had a really strong positive reaction to what is probably my favorite pretenders song "Mystery Achievement." I really enjoyed watching her loving this song.

   

 I have never been much of a concert-goer but I'm proud to say I saw them before half the original line-up (Peter Farndon, James Honeyman Scott) died from drug overdoses.

Unfortunately there's only one video I could find of the original lineup doing "Mystery Achievement."

Whenever I smell a leather jacket I think of the Pretenders. They wore leather, the audience wore leather. Everybody in leather.


Friday, February 19, 2021

Good-bye West 85th Street

Five years ago I was so happy with my new apartment on West 85th Street. It was an improvement in many ways over my previous apartment in Astoria, but the biggest benefit was the large elm tree growing at the far end of the deck belonging to apartment 1B, one floor below me. My first view of the tree in daylight was during a light snow and I saw bluejays hopping among its branches. It was so unexpectedly beautiful and charming and I felt very lucky to have found that apartment.

Windows filled the back wall of my apartment and the elm tree filled the windows and even in the winter provided some privacy from the large 86th Street apartment building's back wall full of apartment windows. In the summer it was glorious and shady and green and provided almost total privacy.

It was quite a tall tree, about five stories, so it must have been there for decades, certainly before the deck, which had been built around the tree.

In addition to the elm tree there was the two-story tall pine tree in the yard of the ground-floor apartment, B; and the ivy climbing all over the apartment building wall, and which framed my bedroom window.

So the pine tree, elm tree and and ivy must have been growing for years before I moved there. But one by one they were taken away, in less than five years.

The first to go was the pine tree which can be seen in this photo, to the right of the elm tree.

A nice older couple had lived in apartment B for decades and the first year I was in my apartment they moved away. I know they were nice because they threw a party for everybody in the building in the summer, just before they moved out. Oddly, only people from the B line came to the party. There are two "lines" in the building, the A line, whose apartments all face 85th Street and the B line, with back-facing apartments.




A young couple moved into apartment B right after the older couple left and almost immediately they chopped down the pine tree. And they didn't even stay around long to enjoy their atrocity, they moved out a few years later. But they had done their duty to make my apartment worse.

Next to go was the ivy. The woman above me in 3B nagged the building handyman until he killed all the ivy. She had been in the building for years and years and the ivy had also been there for a long time, but somehow when I was living there it had to go.

And the handyman didn't take the dead plants out after he killed them, he just left them there to rot, so that instead of living green ivy leaves around my bedroom window, it was dead rotting black leaves which caused me to have allergy symptoms. This same woman also nagged the handyman to prevent him from turning the heat on in the beginning of the autumn heating season every year because it made her apartment hot. She didn't care how that affected anybody else. My apartment was freezing. 

But worst of all was when the creeps, Michael and Joe, who lived in apartment 1B, killed the elm tree. I heard second-hand they claimed they had to kill the tree because it was sick or some such bullshit - but it looked fine to me, and after I had my own separate run-in with those assholes I believe it was a lie invented because they wanted a sunny deck instead of a shady one. So instead of a big old elm tree, during the last summer I got to look at two chubby middle-aged men doing yoga.


But the assholes in 1B were not done making my life miserable. They killed the tree in December 2019. In February 2020, I arrived home one night after work. It was around 6PM. I did the usual home-from-work things: I changed, I fed my cat, I started dinner. Then I heard a banging sound coming from the floor of my living room like someone was hitting it. I ignored it because I hadn't been making unusually loud noises and it was 6 o'clock in the very early evening. It wasn't possible somebody would bang to complain about the noise. So I thought.

I had already been living in my apartment for four years when this incident occurred, and 1B had never complained about my noise in all the time, except for the one incident when I broke a glass in the late evening and ran the vacuum cleaner so my cat wouldn't step in glass shards. It literally took me 30 seconds to vacuum and I was finished before Joe ran up the stairs to bang on the door and tell me to stop.

But in spite of 1B having almost no complaint about my noise for four years, they had been banging at me in February 2020 because the next day after work I found a nasty note from them telling me I made too much noise. My habits had not changed in 4 years, but they suddenly decided I was too noisy.

And since I couldn't stop walking in my apartment, there was nothing I could do about their sudden tetchiness and so I ignored them. I didn't have much of a connection to them anyway and an incident at the B line party that first summer, the one thrown by the nice older couple, had already revealed how vicious Michael was: I was making conversation during the party, as one does, and I asked him about his business making women's dresses. He responded: "you couldn't afford them." I was stunned by this completely unwarranted, aggressive nastiness. I thought about retorting "I wouldn't want to buy them" because I had seen his web site and thought his work was tacky and that you couldn't pay me to wear his Sunset Boulevard garbage, but there was no point in making the party even more unpleasant, so I let it pass. But I certainly never forgot how weirdly, emotionally inappropriate Michael the ladies dress-maker was.

Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up


In spite of that I was still shocked by what happened in April 2020. Since February, the creeps had only occasionally banged at me while I went about the normal business of living, when suddenly, on April 10, Michael had a complete melt-down. At around 4PM in the afternoon I was assembling some furniture in my living room. I gently placed a piece of wood on the floor. This caused Michael to start screaming and banging. I couldn't believe his over-reaction and I screamed back that he was over-sensitive to noise. So he came storming up the stairs and proceeded to stand outside my door screaming threats at me. Then he ran down the stairs and slammed the door to his own apartment.

My neighbor across the hall heard the whole thing and texted me to ask what happened. I still have that exchange:


It really was crazy. A little bit later I had an email exchange with Michael in which he admitted that my behavior had not changed but rather he had become more sensitive to it. 

The creeps in 1B continued to bang at me for the next months, although they were much quieter during the summer. I thought maybe the new large rugs I had bought for my living room and bedroom helped. So in spite of the loss of the elm tree, and the nastiness from 1B I thought I might stay in my apartment.

Then came the autumn and Michael came up with a new tactic - in addition to banging on his ceiling when I had the temerity to vacuum my living room rug at 4PM on a Sunday afternoon, he started to randomly bang loudly on his ceiling under my bed in the middle of the night,  or early in the morning,  which caused me to wake up and then I couldn't get back to sleep. I started to have insomnia and that started to impact my job.

So that tells you how petty and vindictive and emotionally unstable this man is - he would be mad at me for making noise in my apartment and then wait to retaliate in the middle of the night or in the early morning.

Finally I decided to catch him at it. I bought an app for my iPad that detects snoring, but it also detects other noises and I managed to record him doing this late-night/early morning banging twice. I sent Michael the recordings via Facebook Messenger. Here is one of our exchanges:





It took him a minute to remember to claim he had no idea what I was talking about. 

I then had an email exchange with Joe, who threatened me with his lawyer. I mentioned I had plenty of documentation of Michael's activities and asked Joe to send me his lawyer's contact information.

He never responded.

Now this unreasonable hatefulness from the two creeps in 1B would have been plenty to convince me it was time to get the hell out of Dodge, but the icing on the shit cake was that an outdoor workshop was set up in early autumn in the back of the apartment on 86th street across from my back-facing window. This plein-air atelier sometimes produced god-awful grinding noises in the middle of the day, while I was working from home in my apartment. So not only did I no longer have the tree, I had an industrial workshop to look at and hear.

You can see the apparently permanent shed they set up, in the photo below. Also please note the black dead ivy vines on the left. And the snow-covered stump of the murdered elm tree.



In early 2021 some people moved into the building next door and they like to have noisy parties until 4AM in the middle of the working week. And this was during the pandemic. Meanwhile, the creeps in 1B started to have indoor/outdoor parties, also during the pandemic. Once the pandemic is over, I shudder to think of the noise coming at my old apartment from three sides. I'm so glad I won't be there to hear it.

This is the view from my new apartment. That's the East River on the left. And those are lots of trees.



Sunday, January 24, 2021

Adam Neely

I recently discovered Adam Neely, the humorous music theory guru. Two recent videos of his I've really enjoyed:

Sea Shanties



Lady Gaga's performance of The Star-Spangled Banner at the Biden inauguration.


Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Brava The Financial Diet - well done

This woman may well be the heir to Paul Krugman. Really good work here.