Decadence and Elegance

I have been re-listening to the Kraftwerk album, Trans Europe Express, that I first heard back in the late 70’s and was inspired by the lyrics “elegance and decadence” from the track Europa Endloss (Europe Endless) to create a variation of one of my art photographs.

Ironically though it was the much more widely known track Hotel California, by The Eagles which ended up directing how I modified the image. It’s funny how things turn out.

170412_PinkChampagneOnIce.jpg
~Richard

 

Haiku: Zappa Solstice

Today is the Winter Solstice, the “shortest day” and therefore the start of many rebirth legends and fables that are liberally sprinkled throughout human history, give or take a few days. Rather than reflect on the meaning of Stonehenge or myriad superstitions associated with this time of year I prefer to pay homage to one of my favorite artists of all time who was born this day, in 1940 – the late, great Frank Zappa:

~ Frank Zappa ~

On Winter’s solstice

This Mother of Invention

Brings forth Jazz from Hell!

161221_zappasolstice

(By Discreet Records (ebay front back) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

~Richard

Missing the Point

On Friday we went to see the original line up of Culture Club who are currently on their US tour and were visiting The Electric Factory in Philadelphia. The venue was new to us and we were very pleased with the fact that it was general admission standing only, just like my old student days back in London in the 1980s. With beer in hand we were fairly near the front and the gig was excellent. Boy George interacted really well with the audience and it really felt like an intimate “club gig”.

One thing that really pissed me off though was the huge overuse of cellphones during the gig. Not only did they cast a lot of light back to the audience but some idiots even used their flashed (totally pointless) not only for photos but also when video recording. Quite why anyone would go to a gig, especially one where you are so close to the stage, and then watch the whole show through their 5” phone screen is totally beyond my understanding. I am beginning to think that modern audiences are getting even more mindless. They may as well have stayed at home. Just to my left there were 5 or 6 of these clowns, as you can see. I am pretty sure that a couple of them filmed every song that was song and so therefore didn’t look directly at the stage even once during the performance.

160911_missingthepoint

I guess we’re slowly sinking into the abyss of not even wanting to experience reality when we can. How ironic it is that theses guys are missing the whole point of a “live” gig while concentrating on streaming it to Facebook.

~Richard

52 Week Challenge: Week 22

As I mentioned previously I am playing catch up with a few of these challenges. I finally got around to this exercise and also decided to make it a black and white image as I liked the subtle shadow.

WEEK 22: Portrait: Hands – Usually the face is the strongest element in the frame; with the hands being second. Make the hands the most important element in your image this week.

160711_52WK22_Hands

~Richard

52 week challenge: week 16

WEEK 16: Portrait: Movement – Most portraits are stationary, so this week explore adding some movement. Dancing, twirling, or even hair flips.

Lots of choices this week – skateboarding, bicycling, etc. In the end I went for more localized movement – portrait of a drummer jamming in the basement…

160419_BasementDrummer

~Richard

St Patrick, Aesop, and the Donald

Yesterday was the big celebration all over the (western-influenced) world when millions of disparate people became “honorary Irish” in order to celebrate St Patrick’s Day, which really marks the Irish diaspora, especially the 5 million or so who emigrated to the United States. Although the migration started in the early 19th century it was during the Victorian era (from 1840) that it became almost a national  industry such that 40% of Irish-born people had emigrated from the Emerald Isle by 1890. Today around 36 million Americans – that’s more that 10% of the population – claim Irish as their primary ancestry* and hence we have the huge St Paddy’s Day parades in New York City, Philadelphia and many other towns and cities throughout the land. We even had a “St Patrick’s Day Potluck” at my place of work. All this largely to celebrate the huge benefits this massive influx of people from a single country have had on other nations (especially the USA), as well as a good excuse to gulp a few pints of Guinness.

So, it is with more than a touch of irony and bitterness that the day preceding this event I was sent a link to a Trump video where the polemic pouter, whose mother (née Mary Anne MacLeod) was a Scottish immigrant, reading  the Oscar Brown-penned song The Snake, that was made famous by Al Wilson in the late 60s, against a background of selective videos of violence.

This song is based on one of the famous fables of the Greek slave and storyteller, Aesop, specifically, The Farmer and the Viper, and is the source of the idiom “to nourish a viper in one’s bosom” (little used today).  It’s not difficult to see the claim he is making, albeit crudely.

The gist of the tale is that the farmer (or woman in the song) finds a viper that is injured and feeling compassion for the animal’s plight takes it home to heal it. Whilst ministering to its needs the snake bites him, delivering a fatal dose of venom. Dying, the farmer asks, “why did you kill me when I was helping you?” to which the viper replies dispassionately, “I’m a snake, what did you expect me to do?”

160318_Snake

Now, I’d like to turn this around somewhat and say that given the Donald’s past history of narcissism, deceit, misogyny, racism, vitriolic ranting, violence inciting, and general disregard for humanity as a whole …

“Who’s the snake?”

~Richard

* Although I am an immigrant, who enjoys a Guinness (or Murphy’s), I am not of Irish descent, as far as I know.

Friday Fun – Rolling Bone Magazine

Rolling Bone Magazine was an underground publication that championed the musical underdog for many years. Readership was strong throughout the 70’s and 80’s but tailed off after a scandal in the early 90’s before finally being buried by the arrival of online content.

Rolling Bone was unusual in that the issues were not dated, allowing for a sporadic output and also ensuring that copies always appeared to be current. This is a cover believed to be from late ’75 to early ’76 featuring Eddie “Howlin’ Jack” Russell shortly before his surprise first retirement from the music business at the height of his career.

Rolling Bone Magazine - ReevePhotos.com

~Richard

6 sentence story – Playing to the crowd

As with every morning the old man picked his way along the freshly hosed down cobbled streets to the same spot and arranged his sign and his jar before sitting on the chilly doorstep.

The sun came up over the ruined castle and warmed his face and hands as he unbuckled the bellows of his accordion.He cocked his head and scanned up and down the street, hearing the increasing footfall echoing between the buildings from the old stairway.

The first cruise ship had arrived, so he started his playing.

“That’s beautiful,” said a young woman’s voice as she dropped some coins in his jar.

Looking up whilst playing he smiled graciously at her through sightless eyes.

Accordion Player - Richard Reeve

~ Richard

Earworms

I had not suffered an earworm for quite a while. I don’t know why this is but I have been grateful for it. Then, while browsing the web last night I stumbled across a youtube video of a couple of girls (twins, in fact) playing Stairway to Heaven on harps for some unbelievable reason. Not since disgraced Aussie entertainer Rolf Harris released his version with a bleedin’ wobble board have I been so appalled. Yes, I know they play their harps beautifully but there are some things that simply should not be done. And tampering with Led Zeppelin’s STH is one of them. Anyhow, that being said. I have now had that great rock classic buzzing around in my head all day. Thankfully, it is Jimmy Page’s ‘58 Telecaster version and not harps!

Last time this happened to me for a week or so it was to Pink Floyd’s, Shine on you Crazy Diamond. At least that time it inspired me to create some artwork based on the arpeggiated chord that became know as “Syd’s Theme.”

160227_SteelBreeze

This time, it only lasted a few hours.

So, what is an earworm?

Apparently the odd word is an Anglicization of the German “Ohrwurm” which, ironically, has nothing to do with the phenomenon and refers rather to the ancient practice of treating ear diseases by using ground up pieces of the insect we commonly call earwigs!

Very strange indeed.

The modern earworm simply refers to the phenomenon when you cannot get a tune out of your head or, more usually, a particular musical phrase. Interestingly there appears to be no definitive consensus of how or why this happens. Personally, I think it may be linked to human’s innate pattern processing that has evolved for our survival, perhaps akin, though totally unlinked, to pareidolia that I touched on in an earlier post. Most times the earworm will go away on its own, but it can also be replaced by other music or even by engaging the brain’s working memory in moderately difficult logic puzzles such as anagrams or sudoku, which seem to “wipe the biological RAM” so to speak.

In my case creating some art in GIMP did the job, and was a productive exercise too!

Now for the statistics: apparently 98% of us will experience these at some time, so be warned, and let’s hope it’s a great song at least!

~Richard

The Day the Music Died – National Signing Day

I was in the gym this morning and thinking about what I could use a subject for today’s blog entry when one of the wall screens showed a conference taking place with the banner “National Signing Day” in the background. Being a non-sporting type of guy I was intrigued so, after my workout, I toddled off to the trusty old interweb and “ran a search” as we used to say, in the pre-googly days of dial up.

Now I don’t really have much to say about National Signing Day, or football in general, but I thought it would be great to turn this into a pun about National Singing Day, perhaps (see what I did there?). A quick bit of research showed that, along with all the sad misspellings commemorating today’s “big event” on twitter, there is some limited consensus that a National Singing Day exists (or rather A Sing Up Day) today too!

However, and much more poignantly, I also uncovered that today, February 3rd, is also noted as “The Day the Music Died” since it memorializes the dreadful plane crash in 1959 that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, and their pilot, Roger Peterson near Clear Lake, Iowa.

For my younger readers (!), the phrase comes from Don McLeans’s classic song American Pie, first released in 1971, but it has now become part of American musical folklore.

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that Holly, Valens and “Big Bopper” were early players in a youth culture shift that shaped the attitudes of the western world forever. They moved the focus of the old, staid world towards a more upbeat, positive, freer society that, in turn, paved the way for myriad positive societal changes throughout the US and beyond. Through the medium of music, and showmanship they showed the youth of the era that change could happen from the ground up.

Now, nearly 60 years later, I wonder if some of that spark has been lost as we have succumbed totally to the material nature of the modern world. It seems to me that the youth of today are more obsessed with plastic celebrity than raw talent; being force fed conformity through technology and the fear of making mistakes I wonder if they (and we) have lost something.

Perhaps it is time for those free spirits to be re-kindled and for me to bring up my homage to the simple instruction kit that was used in the 1977 Sniffin’ Glue fanzine some 18 years after The Day the Music Died to inspire the birth of the “punk” movement, and encourage the then disenfranchised kids to pick up a guitar and form a band.

160203_TheDayTheMusicDied

Rock on, kids!

~Richard

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