Alexander’s Guichet

Alexander Calder "Le Guichet." Photo © 2017 Maddy SJ (The Gipsy Geek)

December 9, 2017. How often have I passed by “Le Guichet” – a 1963 sculpture by Alexander Calder! Located in the plaza of the Lincoln Center in front of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. And how often have I passed by without pausing to take a photo or post one. Until now.

During daytime and evenings the plaza is bustling; its lively fountain and surrounding performance halls drawing in large omnipresent swaths of people like moths to a flame. But I like wandering there at night, at times just before midnight. When the crowds have lulled, the patrons of the theater long gone, the library closed and the plaza stands near-empty except for a handful of people passing by…..

In that solitude of night, in that vacancy and stillness of space – a rarity in a city that never sleeps, I like to walk around Le Guichet, taking in its sinuous curves and voids, its alienesque tentacles tiptoeing on the concrete pavers, a silent witness in stoic steel, unlike Calder’s playful mobiles; painted pitch dark like a galactic black hole unlike his vibrant red Flamingo and Eagle in Chicago and Seattle respectively. This one is not about to soar off; it has just landed. A “box office” selling tickets to another world. Far away.

 

Alexander Calder "Le Guichet." Photo © 2017 Maddy SJ (The Gipsy Geek)

 

Alexander Calder "Le Guichet." Photo © 2017 Maddy SJ (The Gipsy Geek)

 

Alexander Calder "Le Guichet." Photo © 2017 Maddy SJ (The Gipsy Geek)

 


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Celebrating a 3 year anniversary of a Musical Movement

“Planetary Coalition.” In our current times, we need this even more. 

So happy to be a part of this massive project since its inception & create its album artwork and much more. With nearly 30 musicians from 5 continents. 

11/11 marks another anniversary of the release which Guitar World listed as one of the top 10 albums of 2014 & Bluenote/Artistshare selected it for the Grammys. Where USA, Canada, Argentina, Turkey, Greece, India, China, Japan, Israel, Palestine, Mexico, Cuba, Mali & other parts of Africa, France, Spain, Albania, Macedonia, Poland…the Balkans & the Baltic…& many other countries came together in the spirit of jazz/gypsy/klezmer/ragas/sufi/flamenco & so many other styles. And the Liberty Science Center & some universities arranged live lecture/performances.

The Facebook page for the project is at http://bit.ly/2zvqoM9

Also, it’s not everyday that a musical piece (“Sleeping Gypsy,” the project’s signature tune which got Union Square dancing) has been written/composed for yours truly. 

#MakeMusicNotWar #SupporttheindependentArts

Here’s an updated video of the complete album. Obviously, it has far fewer views than on its FB fan page.

For the album artwork, go to: http://bit.ly/2i9Ghha


 

“What Happened” last night

Around 6:15 pm September 27, 2017. At the Greenlight independent Bookstore in Brooklyn. Got to meet and speak with  Hillary Rodham Clinton and get a signed copy of her new book. 

Meeting Hillary Clinton

Me, all smiles after meeting HRC and making her laugh. She was so gracious, dignified and warm.

She was very gracious and spoke with all who came. I blurted out a few sentences that I can’t fully recall, as I felt quite overwhelmed seeing her again. She always looks very well-coiffed, elegant, soft, feminine and delicate in person and does not photograph as well as she looks in person.

But best of all, she cracked up and guffawed loudly when I said I’d started the page Donald Trump SHUT UP nearly 7 years back because I couldn’t stand his idiotic rants. That while I’d adored her since the ’90s, I found him utterly repulsive from even back then.

We got lucky to get in early in the line. That’s Huma standing behind me in white, while I’m speaking to HRC – in the 2nd pic. The bookstore staff did a great job to accommodate everyone despite the long lines and keep things running smoothly. Right in front of us in the queue was a tiny 4-year old girl – Grace Payton-Lafferty – dressed up in a white pantsuit and a string of pearls who stole hearts and ended up being featured in several media outlets, including a tweet by Ms. Clinton herself. When I saw little Grace in the line – where we’d been waiting for an hour and a half, I told her that I hoped in 25 years I’d see her running for office. She is too young now to understand a lot perhaps, but one of the most heartening aspects was to see how inspiring Hillary has been to little girls, raised by rational parents, many who lined up outside the bookstore to get their own signed copies of “It takes a village.” Since Grace was right ahead of us we saw Hillary herself light up, stand up and and hug the little girl.

I remembered how seeing Indira Gandhi as a little girl I’d immediately thought that a woman could hold any position she wanted to. (We won’t get into what I found out about Indira later – nothing that male politicians haven’t done themselves.) But Hillary was more qualified, capable, kind-hearted and deserving than IG, and a self-made woman from a middle-class family instead of being born into a political dynasty like IG. And yet, in this topsy-turvy world the highest post in America was denied to her, despite being ahead by more than 3 million votes. Do you think that instead of Donald & Bernie, if it was trashy Donna Trump (pic) or hysterical Bernadine Sanders (pic) running, they’d EVER have been even taken seriously, let alone get a following??!! 

What a different state we’d have been in today if even a fraction of the votes wasted on 3rd parties or by abstainers had gone to HRC (or if Huma had dumped her sick hubby a long time back so a last-minute Comey investigation/announcement was avoided…. I’m not even getting into Trumpers, BernieorBusters, etc. For that you can read my detailed houghts from last spring here – https://gipsygeek.wordpress.com/2016/06/07/the-real-revolution-hillary-clinton-elizabeth-warren/ )

Instead of this intelligent, articulate overqualified and literary woman with incredible strength, resilience and pragmatism, we now have the most disgusting, vapid, stunted “peesident” in US history – an excuse of a “man,” a scourge on the planet. 

I would rather see HRC in the White House than in a bookstore…I saw her earlier up close during her victory in the NYC primaries last spring, but this time I was able to speak to her. The woman who should have been the President. The woman who should have been the President of the United States had sanity, rationality and fairness prevailed.
#HillaryClinton #WhatHappened

Hillary Clinton 1992

Hillary Rodham Clinton: The woman who should have been President

i colori brillanti di Burano

Out in the Venetian Lagoon, around 4 miles north of Venezia,  lies the tiny island of Burano or rather the archipelago of four islands connected by bridges, with a population of just over 2,500 people.

While the nearby island of Murano is known for its centuries’ old glass-making craft, Burano boasts a reputation for lace-making. But the more fascinating feature of this little Italian island is the vivid vibrant colors of its brightly painted houses. 

The buoyant, brilliant colors of Burano seem straight out of a surrealist painter’s dream. Certainly, every proverbial crayon in the box has had a chance to shine here!

Here are a few from many photos I took during my last trip there a short while back. These are untouched and unfiltered and only two have been mildly rotated to straighten them. Like most places in Italy, Burano is yet another effortlessly photogenic one.

The hues of Fall will soon descend in the northern hemisphere as another September seeps in today. Here’re some more colors to warm up the cooler seasons.

(Click on any photo to start the slideshow but please do not download. These are for viewing purposes only. If you need to use a photo please email me at gipsygeek at gmail dot com for permission.)

Marooned

……And the time came when even words could not give shape to her grief, and she had to think in pictures again….an infinite sense of unfathomable loss…….of love, of life, of hopes and dreams. As though sorrow had laid her waste and barren akin to the aftermath of a nuclear leak. A Chernobyl-ed landscape. That’s how she’d become. Portraits in rich color and textures – of laughter, ardor, music, voyages – in all their gorgeousness – now lay shattered; anger and hurt hurled around as weapons which now left a deserted battlefield strewn with the debris of her heart, her guts; soaked in her tears; her fears floating around like ghosts among the ruins; and her sadness came to roost like squatters amidst the wreckage.

She had laughed unabashedly in her carefree childhood; she’d always felt she was the child of Joy and Light – no matter the darkness she had seen or faced. She’d always fought against the darkness…..but this time, this time the mobs were too dense; their fetid fingernails, their rancid ribaldry and cold-eyed fakeness mocking her genuineness of spirit, her hopeful earnestness in her belief in love. Mocking her loyalty, her naiveté, her outspoken frankness in pointing out injustices, her abhorrence for shallow masks. Like screaming banshees they wouldn’t let her go until her skin had been gnawed and shred and she lay there broken and bleeding.

She closed her eyes. “This is how it ends then,” she thought. “Take me Death. I have no more strength. No more dreams. No more life to give.”

But long after the crowds had moved away leaving her alone to die, taking with them the friend she loved and trusted and had poured her goodwill and energy into – the friend who had unwittingly betrayed her because he had trusted the duplicitous wenches in the crowd and joined in their cruelty believing the seductive promises they’d dangled before him incessantly for years – there still remained the echo of a laugh. Through her tattered ears and limbs she could hear a little girl laughing far away.

And that’s when she realized: the laughter she heard was coming from within her. From some secret chamber buried deep inside – a place which only belonged to her and to her alone; faint at first but soon with an increased richness: half-mirth, half-rebellion.

Then she understood. A part of her soul was still intact. They hadn’t been able to touch it, nor reach it. That part that wouldn’t give up. And like the tiniest ember within the ashes of a stamped-upon, doused-out fire – if she could only blow at it the right way – that laugh, that ember could become a spark that could light up the fire again. All she had to do was to generate fuel or dry wood from a near-empty coffer to help it glow brighter.

And in its warmth and its golden light, she would come back to life.

Because, she remembered, it’s the broken and dried up branches that make the strongest of fires. It is rock metamorphosed through intense, unbearable heat and pressure over time which creates the most potent of fuel that can set ablaze with even the smallest of sparks.  And after the strongest of fires have engulfed the forest, from the ashes when it’s all over, the tiniest of saplings rise up. Slowly but surely they expand – gulping in the sunlight for very survival itself. And life finds a way to bloom again in all its splendor. Only stronger. Lusher. But most of all, at least for her, wiser.


 

Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017

duck-sails-into-sunset-gipsy-geek

A little duck sails off to the sunset. Prospect Park, Brooklyn.  ©2016. Maddy. The Gipsy Geek

December 31, 2016. By the time this post is published, it will already be New Year in many parts of the world. But here in east coast America – the country which provided the final punchline of the string of bad news that 2016 brought in, it rings in within 5 short hours.

If you view the world as a giant lab, 2016 – among its other features – served as a great tool for an experiment in human cognition.

It served as one of the greatest litmus tests in identifying the delusional from the rational;

It smoked out en masse the implicit racists (in all races), the implicit misogynists (in both genders), homophobes & fundamentalists and ripped away their masks, better than even any IAT (Implicit Association Test) could;

It showed the startling similarities viewed in real time/real life in the anti-rationality, anti-fact vitriolic conduct of followers of ALL extreme ideologies across the spectrum and reaffirmed the horseshoe theory in political science;

It revealed the apathetic, the cowards, the hypocrites, the ignorant, the ones who can’t/don’t/won’t partake in critical thinking and especially revealed the personality-disordered among strangers and non-strangers alike, including among those we thought were our friends & acquaintances, better than any psychological tests could reveal;

It also brought out the best among the hopeful, the eternal optimists, the genuinely concerned & empathetic and those who fight for human rights, environmental rights, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, animal rights…..

Yes, it was a year when many well-known & lesser-known or little-known perished in large numbers globally through natural causes, accidents, shootings, terrorist attacks, wars, bombings & drone attacks…

But all in all (for me at least) 2016 will be looked back upon as the year that most efficiently separated the wheat from the chaff – when it came to human values & ethics.

(The above words are taken from the thoughts I shared this morning with my friends on Facebook. I was thinking not just of the results of the US elections, but of the Nice attacks, of Aleppo, of the deaths of many beloved musicians, authors, performers, artists and also of our continued helplessness or apathy as we continue to carry on as part and participants of this world. While Trumpism revealed a lot of ugliness in the US, I hold to contempt all those who voted 3rd party too or showed apathy while claiming to be liberals (humbug!), given the precarious situation we were heading to; especially the ones who voted for Gary Johnson – a fella who didn’t even know what Aleppo is, and STILL won the numbers needed that could have helped swing the race!

In some ways, true, the stable among humans may be the majority, but in other ways, the way we treat animals, the environment and are helpless/indifferent to injustices across the board, I wonder…..we may be outwardly “stable” yet we go along with the flow of the many injustices, no? What else are we to do? Live off the grid? (and I truly admire those who do.)

Within our small spheres we can live kinder lives, but at least this year my tolerance for the apathetic, the racists, the cruel, the narcissistic & the deliberately dumb who flaunt their repulsive ill-informed swagger has completely depleted away and I have no qualms of ejecting, nay, slaying the chaff away from the wheat.)

If you thought 2016 read like one long obituary, you were not incorrect. Here is Wikipedia’s full list of those we lost, and this is just December. You can click on the prior months in the list. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deaths_in_2016

Here’s  Tom and Hubert’s hilarious sketch on 2016:

On a “light” side, here’s a link to a slideshow of the most stunning space photographs taken in 2016: https://www.wired.com/2016/12/stunning-space-photos-2016/#slide-1

Onward Ho! And away we go!