Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Darwin Martin Complex

Another grey, washed out day in Buffalo. Colder than before though. My mother had tickets to the Martin House sitting around and there's been an awful lot done in the 6 years since I'd toured it, so off we went. I always wind up think about how absolutely unbearable Frank Lloyd Wright must have been when I see his buildings.

Barton House

Barton House window from the outside. They don't allow you to take pictures from the inside. Something I thought was fairly obnoxious. Particularly since they don't sell fabulous postcards or anything. Our docent claimed that they followed "museum rules" but the vast majority of museums I've been to allow pictures as long as you turn off your flash.

Darwin Martin House

The Park

This is the first time I've been to Buffalo since the big tree-destroying storm this past fall. Quite sad. Took the dog for a walk in the park on Christmas day with my camera. It was an ugly, dreary day with not a lot to recommend it other than the fact that it was a holiday. I wasn't in too much of a holiday mood so it seemed appropriate.

The park has a great old apple orchard. Most of the trees in the area seem to have been taken care of--broken branches cut off and cleared away. Not so much with the orchard.

My dog in the park. The broken trees in this part have been cleared away.

The former convent by the park (now an old age home).

Saturday, December 16, 2006

David Byrne = False Advertising!

Sad but true. David Byrne was not there. It was a fun evening though. Eclectic, shambolic, and friendly.

I'm not a reviewer and don't have a ton to say. The guest were great, there were no low points (although some songs didn't quite work for me) and an awful lot of high ones. Rufus and Martha make the best kind of hosts for a show like this, keeping things running to an extent, but also ceding the spotlight to their guests. My should I talk about the show though since you can see bits of it yourself via YouTube. Here are videos presumably lovely (and sneaky with those cameras) people have put up with my commentary.

I wish the whole song was up for this because it was one of the best bits of the night. Still, you can get the idea.

The video here was shown just after intermission as a message from Kate McGarrigle.

It's unfortunate that this one is blurry but it's fun to hear. I was so high up that my view wasn't much better than this.

Lou Reed--rather funny...although the joke was better the first time (this video) than on his second song.

This is one of those songs that really shows just how good Rufus can be. Not that I can understand a word of it mind you.

Some of my favorite songs don't appear to have been taped...very unfortunate. Still, it's great that anything was recorded at all.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Wainwright Family and Friends Christmas

I bought tickets for this when it was going to be the McGarrigle Christmas and am a bit disappointed that that's no longer the case. Still, it should be fun. I don't really need a lot of urging to go to Carnegie Hall. It's so pretty that I could just sit there and be happy. As usual I will be up at the very tip-top of the theater, in the seats I can marginally afford. Better to see a bunch of things from bad seats than nothing from good seats. Also, I'm fairly cheap.

Anyway, I imagine it will be lots of traditional music with some other stuff thrown in, which is mostly how Christmas concerts should be as far as I'm concerned. I'm not a big fan of the rock out for Christmas angle on Christmas music. Nor for that matter of the cheery pop with synthesizers angle.

This should be good though, as Rufus Wainwright is pretty reliably entertaining as a live performer. I went to see his Judy Garland concert with my grandmother and she thought he was just absolutely adorable. If she wasn't Jewish I would have brought her to this one as well. Or, rather, she would have brought me since she never lets me pay for anything.

Martha Wainwright I usually like and I think she's a good performer in that kind of tortured way that modern-folk-y performers seem to have. Very confessional girl with a guitar type stuff. Generally she seems less insistent on sounding pretty than most though, which is what puts her over the edge for me. Then again, this is a Christmas concert which usually means pretty is in fairly high supply. I don't entirely mind that (it allows me to pretend I go for the whole spiritual religion thing) provided there's nothing particularly precious about it. The words, "baby Jesus," always make me cringe.

Having talked about all the things I will be expecting from this concert, I'll mention that what I most excited about is that I don't know what to expect from the concert as a whole. They're having a whole bunch of guests (the "and friends" after all) and they should be some entertaining ones. Teddy Thompson will be on hand, as will Linda Thompson (so wonderful!) and David Byrne. Also, on the good side, Laurie Anderson. On this less good side, Lou Reed, who always strikes me as someone so convinced of his own genius that he honesly believes everything he works on should be received as though it reaches unparalleled levels of genius. Maybe I'm being completely unfair, but that's just how it seems. Also, Jimmy Fallon. Not as funny as he thinks he is.

Anyway, hopefully it'll be a nice time.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Thursday Poetry

Four Poems for Robin
Gary Snyder

Siwashing It Out Once in Suislaw Forest

I slept under rhododendron
All night blossoms fell
Shivering on a sheet of cardboard
Feet stuck in my pack
Hands deep in my pockets
Barely able to sleep.
I remembered when we were in school
Sleeping together in a big warm bed
We were the youngest lovers
When we broke up we were still nineteen
Now our friends are married
You teach school back east
I dont mind living this way
Green hills the long blue beach
But sometimes sleeping in the open
I think back when I had you.

A Spring Night in Shokoku-ji

Eight years ago this May
We walked under cherry blossoms
At night in an orchard in Oregon.
All that I wanted then
Is forgotten now, but you.
Here in the night
In a garden of the old capital
I feel the trembling ghost of Yugao
I remember your cool body
Naked under a summer cotton dress.

An Autumn Morning in Shokoku-ji

Last night watching the Pleiades,
Breath smoking in the moonlight,
Bitter memory like vomit
Choked my throat.
I unrolled a sleeping bag
On mats on the porch
Under thick autumn stars.
In dream you appeared
(Three times in nine years)
Wild, cold, and accusing.
I woke shamed and angry:
The pointless wars of the heart.
Almost dawn. Venus and Jupiter.
The first time I have
Ever seen them close.

December at Yase

You said, that October,
In the tall dry grass by the orchard
When you chose to be free,
"Again someday, maybe ten years."

After college I saw you
One time. You were strange.
And I was obsessed with a plan.

Now ten years and more have
Gone by: I've always known
where you were--
I might have gone to you
Hoping to win your love back.
You still are single.

I didn't.
I thought I must make it alone. I
Have done that.

Only in dream, like this dawn,
Does the grave, awed intensity
Of our young love
Return to my mind, to my flesh.

We had what the others
All crave and seek for;
We left it behind at nineteen.

I feel ancient, as though I had
Lived many lives.
And may never now know
If I am a fool
Or have done what my
karma demands.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The ballet was nice. I don't really know enough about dance to talk or even think about it critically. It was the Nutcracker: it was beautiful and familiar.

We sat up in the fifth tier because we are poor (in comparison to the other people attending the New York City Ballet) and those are the cheapest seats available. You have to kind of lean over the edge to see the whole stage but on the whole it's not half bad. I didn't use my opera glasses though (not that they're great for the ballet anyway) because I was convinced that I would drop them all the way from the fifth tier to the orchestra and hit someone in the head. Death by opera glasses would at least be an interesting way to go, but I'm not sure my victim's family would have appreciated that so much. It's kind of interesting to be up so high because you see things that you can't see when you're at a lower level. When the tree began to grow, we could see the opening in the stage it was coming out of.

It sounds trite but it's nice to see something where money doesn't feel like the driving factor. So much of Christmas in NYC is purely about commercialism: the store windows, the Christmas market in Union Square, all the tourists making life difficult and paying an arm and a leg for the Christmas in New York experience...Of course Nutcracker is also about money. I'm not quite that naive and I'm sure it's a huge cash cow for the Ballet. But for the people attending it's also about tradition and magic and beautiful dancing and that's a nice thing. It's less gaudy and crass than the Christmas Spectacular and that's a good thing too. It's like good Christmas music in a way: sure it's about the money but underneath that there's something wonderful and clean.

Friday, December 01, 2006


My sister's coming into town with friends, one of whom is from Alaska and has never been to NYC. So of course we're doing the whole Christmas in New York thing. The Nutcracker (matinee so it'll be positively packed with kids), Rockefeller Center, the store windows, and all that jazz.

I haven't seen the Nutcracker in years--it should be fun.

Thursday Poetry? Oops...

Richard Wilbur

......The eyes open to a cry of pulleys,
And spirited from sleep, the astounded soul
Hangs for a moment bodiless and simple
As false dawn.
......................Outside the open window
The morning air is all awash with angels.

......Some are in bed-sheets, some are in blouses,
Some are in smocks: but truly there they are.
Now they are rising together in calm swells
Of halcyon feeling, filling whatever they wear
With the deep joy of their impersonal breathing;

.......Now they are flying in place, conveying
The terrible speed of their omnipresence, moving
And staying like white water; and now of a sudden
They swoon down into so rapt a quiet
That nobody seems to be there.
.................................................The soul shrinks

.......From all that is about to remember,
From the punctual rape of every blessed day,
And cries,
..............."Oh, let there be nothing on earth but laundry,
Nothing but rosy hands in the rising steam
And clear dances done in the sight of heaven.''

.....Yet, as the sun acknowledges
With a warm look the world's hunks and colors,
The soul descends once more in bitter love
To accept the waking body, saying now
In a changed voice as the man yawns and rises,

.......Bring them down from their ruddy gallows;
Let there be clean linen for the backs of thieves;
Let lovers go fresh and sweet to be undone,
And the heaviest nuns walk in a pure floating
Of dark habits,
.......................keeping their difficult balance.''