Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Blast from the '80s Past on Video

I haven't seen this video since 1987. It's the greatest... Kate Bush & Peter Gabriel - "Don't Give Up" [go here now]

I remember seeing this video on one of those great late-night video programmes on VH-1 (back in the days when they actually played music) and loved it so much. This was hi-tech in the '80s... but listen to the music. It's glorious. Jerry Goodman "On the Future of Aviation" [go here now]

Friday, September 10, 2010

Yoko's Purpose Still Strong at 77

This is a piece of pottery Yoko gave
us to keep from her 2006 show
at the Guggenheim
I've always admired Yoko Ono and believe she's been terribly misunderstood by so many.  She deserves a lot more credit as an artist than most are willing to grant her.  And, at 77, she's still going strong communicating, through her unique brand of conceptual art, the ideas of hope and peace.  I remember when John Lennon was shot in 1980, she sent out a message to the world, "John loved and prayed for the human race; let's do the same for him..." and that inspired me to no end. 

Her new exhibition in Berlin is a continuation of the work she began long before she met John Lennon in the '60s.  At the center of Yoko Ono's new installation is a perfectly round bullet hole shot through a large pane of glass that John Lennon's widow says challenges viewers to confront "incredible violence and abuse" in the world today. [more...]

Read my article about Yoko - after I got to see her in Manhattan in 2006.
Read One Day at a Time - a wonderful book about John & Yoko in their prime.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Julia More Like Julie?

I'm reading "My Life in France," Julia Child's memoir of her life in the late '40s/early '50s with her husband, Paul. Everything I'd read about Julia and Paul indicated that theirs was a perfect love story - that they were inseparable and blissfully in love - when in fact, Julia was probably more like Julie Powell (author of Julie & Julia) than critics of Powell would like to admit.

The book is written in a colourful manner, probably mostly thanks to Alex Prud'homme, her husband's twin brother's grandson (Julia did admit to being a terrible writer). You're able to easily envision every scene and can almost taste every dish, smell every aroma, fragrance, temperature... AND feel the indigestion rising.

All those high-fat, high-sodium foods she loved so much - the heavy creams, red meat, etc. - is ironically what made her sick and might have caused her cancer. She definitely romanticized what was obviously very difficult living in post-war France. She had a positive attitude and absolutely loved what she was doing... but the movie, Julie & Julia made it seem as though she were living in luxury, when in reality, it was the opposite. Paul's $95/week - only $15 to live on after expenses - could not have sufficed for this ambitious lady.

Julia was rebelling against her rich, conservative father and went for the opposite life - she was one of those spoiled California girls going off to live a so-called charmed Bohemian life struggling in the streets with the working class, yet still taking money from her parents - so not exactly struggling like the rest of the impoverished, just living among them. Though I do admire Julia's determination to document authentic French life and cooking rather than choosing to mingle with the bourgeoisie.

She wasn't interested in creature comforts; she'd discovered a great passion - her wonderful career - relatively late in life and was determined not to take the easy road, to instead work hard to be the best cook possible - admitting her limitations and overcoming them step by step along the way. And thanks to her husband's support, she was able to achieve that and so much more.

In every venue, including the movie version of Julie & Julia, Julia Child comes off as a beloved American master (thanks to Meryl Streep's brilliant portrayal); and her cheerful, optimistic attitude was the impetus to her success all along the way. Julie Powell, on the other hand, has become maligned for evidently cutting off her own nose to spite her face, revealing her dark side and being too "whiny" and "immature."

Powell might be judged in the reviews as a despicable person, but she was smart and creative enough to find her mirror image and to bring the Childs to the forefront of American history because of her discoveries about Julia. Julia Child may not have thought much of Julie's blog idea, but she can thank Powell for sparking an interest in us all so Julia Child is not just remembered as the goofy gawky cook on PBS in the '60s lampooned on SNL, but rather a real romantic - a brave woman, great pioneer in gastronomy - who found true love and her calling and was able to live a very full life in spite of limitations one of lesser character may have found insurmountable.

The jury is still out on this one... I'm reading further and will post an update shortly.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Joan Baez: Great American Troubadour

Joan Baez is a polarizing figure in my life now that I am grown... I have mixed feelings about her... unlike the way I felt about her when I was young.  I played her songs in bars and open mike nights in Chicago - "Diamonds & Rust," "Love Song to a Stranger," and her imitations of Bob Dylan were always amusing to me.

Seeing her on "American Masters: How Sweet the Sound" was touching, inspiring and also perplexing to me.  I think she enjoys being an enigma and I got the impression that her own reflections caused her to need to reflect even more.  She's a wandering troubadour - a minstrel, a poet and a woman of the global world who lives everywhere yet lives nowhere in particular.

I really admire her as an artist, a mirror of our times... I admire her ability to reflect upon her life and put things into perspective.  I admire the way, in this documentary, she takes us on a sobering journey through her past and you hear her mention the word "learn" a lot as she tells us that she learned the lessons of life the hard way... she didn't choose an easy path or easy people with whom to associate.  Yet she's very much in the present and open to new songs, which she pours over and new concerts, which she organizes strategically to fit in with her improved priorities.

She admits that when she was young, she was "promiscuous" but doesn't really tell us what that means.  She tells us of the pain she believes she caused (Dylan and others) and the pain she herself felt so intensely as a political activist.  This is the story of a woman who grew up and learned from everything she'd experienced and then blossomed into a silver-haired, contemplative traveler of the universe whose eyes have not faded and still see with crystal clarity.

You are able to truly feel her pain in Vietnam as she herself was caught in an air raid and ended up in a bomb shelter... and Sarajevo with the cellist playing in the streets, how she hugged him with all of her might and then sat in his chair and sang "Amazing Grace" with the extraordinary instrument of her calling - that gorgeous, lilting, sweet voice.  This is a mature, smart woman with a great gift of musicality who was always certain of her calling and she is determined to live it to the end.

Watch her here...
Go here for more...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

'Gandhi Spinning' in New Book

My picture, "Gandhi Spinning" will appear in a new book entitled Peace Fibres: Stitching a Soulful World by Karen Lohn. In it, she enlists "fibre work as metaphor and manifestation for developing harmonious relationship to self, others, and the larger world." They plan to use the image as a centerpiece for a page called "Threads for Thought" in which she discusses Gandhi's daily spinning and the role he played in leading India to independence.