Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

For most of last year I was immersed in geographic academia and geographical detail remains intriguing to me. This morning I chanced to hear just the beginning of a radio interview with Jake Gorst, director of Modern Tide, about modernist architecture on the East Coast of the US.. The first thing that struck me was his statement that Long Island was 100 miles long. I don’t know why this hadn’t registered with me in the past. But on reflection it makes sense, as many of my literary/arts favourites have some sort of connection to the island and yet I had never really connected.

Jackson Pollock lived and died there. The Pollock Krasner house in Springs in the Hamptons is now a study centre and museum of sorts.

Both Armistead Maupin and Edmund White’s (especially Forgetting Elena) stories of Fire Island.

Large parts of John Irving’s “Widow for One Year” takes place in the Hamptons also at Sagaponack. This is not an easy book but captures human nature so well like much of Irving’s writing

The wonderful book “Architect of Desire” about the infamous Stanford White was largely located at the Box Hill estate in Smithtown.

The decline of Box Hill led me to research the fading history of Long Island and I discovered this website about the mansions of Long Island and the architectural relics of its heyday.

The mansions of course bring us to one of the most know Long Island stories “The Great Gatsby” and I was surprised how close to New York in modern terms Gatsby’s Estate was. Wikipedia states that ” In this novel, Great Neck (King’s Point) became the new-money peninsula of “West Egg” and Port Washington (Sands Point) the old-money “East Egg”. Several mansions in the area served as inspiration for Gatsby’s home, such as Oheka Castle and the now-demolished Beacon Towers.

New Picture

Lou Reed’s Coney Island Baby and I am sure there are many many others….

Finally Rufus Wainright’s song Montauk is also a great favourite

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In the stress of life and a new job, I have frequently found myself at 3am worrying about work. My remedy has been to listen to audio books which I find soothing and I manage to get back to sleep. I should add at this point that a recording of Ginsberg reading ‘HOWL‘ did  not have this effect.

However my recent late night/early morning sorry has been Patti Smith reading her book “Just Kids“. There is an intimacy in an audio book read by the author, it felt like Patti was telling her (and Robert’s) story directly to me. I was surprised at her accent (yella, fella etc) and affected by her vulnerability. In fact, yesterday morning at 5am I found myself weeping as the story drew to a close with Sam Wagstaff’s and then Robert Mapplethorpe’s deaths. Yesterday was that kind of day and the book on reflection is full of reminders of our mortality.

Patti and Robert lifted from here

It is an old story. I watched a film a while back that is an intersection with Just Kids.  Black White + Grey, is mainly about Sam Wagstaff and Robert Mapplethorpe’s relationship. Ron Brownson has written about this here and I agree it was sad not have more focus on Wagstaff and his amazing collection of photography (which Smith details the beginnings of in Just Kids). I have been dreaming of black and white photographs of American Bison since: the great herds of the great plains of the west, now as non existent as the New York of the 1970s that Smith and Crump document.

File:Bison skull pile edit.jpg

A pile of American Bison skulls waiting to be ground for fertilizer: photographer unknown, mid-1870s (image by Chick Bowen, 27 May 2011)

I hate the concept of ‘bucket lists’ and yet I sort of have one. Sadly often the things I want to see or do don’t exist or can’t happen. For example I wanted to stay at the Chelsea Hotel (a feature of the Just Kids story and many others) but it has been bought out and closed. “ A property developer recently bought the down-at-heel building for $80 million (£48 million) and has turned it over to an architect best known for designing bland Holiday Inns.” Gone the way of the bison, ground into fertiliser.

[This post was written to a soundtrack of Smith’s “Horses” and aided by strong black coffee.]

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I’ve been on a beat reading binge lately. I do this every now and again. I think it started when I read an essay [.pdf] comparing Sylvia Plath’s Bell Jar with Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, and finally seeing the 2011 Walter Salles movie.

I then read a biography of Neal Cassady and Carolyn Cassady’s Off the Road and on and on. I’d really like to read this book about LuAnne Henderson – MaryLou in On the Road.

However the revelation this time was Big Sur… I thought I’d read it but I can’t have as it is just devastating. A term that sounds dramatic, but really I was so moved by Kerouac’s story. The enormity of it perhaps. There is a moment when Jack, feeling positive, takes a “huge deep Yogic breath” on the beach but instead of sea air is overcome with “a horror of an eternal condition of sick mortality…I see myself as doomed, pitiful

It’s worth a read


I have also been quietly working on a long-time project to be able to recite Ginsberg’s Howl. To this ended I follow @howltweeter on twitter which recites the poem endlessly in small chunks.

I have also been working on simply noticing

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Hard work

I have worked really hard today so instead of a blog post I will treat you to a YouTube clip of my own personal “entrance music”

Ukuleles RULE! (sorry Merc – you might prefer this one which is lovely)

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I have been listening to the Cultural Icons series of podcasts on Jam Radio. I stumbled across them when I was doing research for the  Barry Brickell book when I found a wonderful interview of Brickell by Hamish Keith.

“Jam Radio of Depot Artspace received significant funding to assist in creating a series of interviews with iconic New Zealanders who have shaped the Auckland arts and culture scene over many years. The Cultural Icons project is being produced over a two-year period, with audio and film from the interviews made accessible online. It includes, amongst others, artists, writers, biographers, actors, arts critics and commentators and features people such as Ian Wedde, David Eggleton, Barry Brickell, Vincent O’Sullivan, Shonagh Koea, Dean Buchanan, Denys Trussell, Martin Edmond, Hamish Keith, Kevin Ireland, Martin Rumsby, the Daughters of ARD Fairburn, Graeme Lay, Rachel Power, Julian McCarthy, Louis Rawnsle and Archie Bowie.”

This is an amazing project and an invaluable resource. I can only hope that the idea takes off or is expanded to other regions.  Today I listened to Par.t II of an interview of Martin Edmond by Hamish Keith – great stuff and there are more on the way.

Just because I like the Bob Marley song and everyone needs more ukulele in their life

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Being Easter I could be all predictable and link to something related to current research. It’s a little picture I saw last year at the Hocken, simple and beautiful. The three Marys at the tomb – its bluer than it looks…

But … in the Northern Hemisphere at least it is spring and I love this music…ah to have seen Nijinsky!

And for us down here in the South, what I think is my all time favourite music (and I very likely have posted it here before) – Autumn Leaves

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Nothing’s gonna happen

My life has been pretty lacking of late. The constant stop start of my daily life has led to Twitter being an easier forum with 140 characters being easy to get out in between cries of “mmmmmuuuuuuuuuummmmm”. I have also had a lot of writing work on. Thankfully its all paying off with an acceptance letter from a forthcoming publication.

Also my continuing illness has a tentative diagnosis of pneumonia. Woohoo!! So blogging has been taking a back seat.

One thing I want to mention is how I love the blogging/twittering etc of NZ art/cultural institutions. I am amazed and surprised by the open-ness. Wonderful stuff and special mention to the friendly people on twitter behind @TePapaColOnline and @ChChArtGallery. Also Te Papa – all is forgiven because you have the full set of these in your collection :-)

I do wonder why Museum/Art Institution blogs don’t get much in the way of comments. Maybe people just aren’t used to interacting in this way, or like me just feel too dumb and so do a good line in inanity.

Some visual art that has taken my eye recently is a very large 2 part (diptych I suppose) painting in MASH cafe on the Octagon. I am not 100% sure about it as maybe it’s really decor type art, but its big and red and has vague figures in white. Its also on a coarse canvas (maybe even my loved hessian?). This is a poor description and no attribution or anything but I like it.

Finally because nothing much has been happening and NZ Music month is almost over

Tall Dwarfs – Nothing’s Going to Happen

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