May Day Ma(y)genta

New York, May 1, 2018. And once again a new month breezed in – the merriest spring weather in the city so far………..cherry blossoms abloom, winter coats and trousers abandoned, the aroma of macaroons and mead and mayflowers on the streets, the chirps of baby birds emitting from every nesting tree, and most of all – a mist of pinks: in the flowers, on the trees, in the gaiety of garments – soft roses and fuscias, corals and strawberries, pink like the lips whispering love and secret promises, pink like the soft sunset clouds……Here’s to a “May”genta May Day! 

For fellow geeks – a color chart:

Shades-of-Pink


Feeling like reading a long poem from yesteryear? Here’s Ralph Waldo Emerson’s (1803-1882) poem May Day: http://www.blackcatpoems.com/e/may_day.html


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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!


Tambourine Time

I’ve decided to repost this in light of Bob Dylan (Robert Zimmerman) being awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature today.  While in terms of pure “literature” there are many deserving writers and authors, one has to admit that this man sure is a modern day bard, and his lyrical songs are sheer poetry. Here’s why.

The Gipsy Geek

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July 2, 2011. Here I go a-wandering somewhere in Montreal or Quebec City or Toronto and the roads and towns in between southern Ontario’s wine country. Through streets and crowds, familiar smells, ancient whispers, new sounds, the beats of the Jazz Festival in Montreal, the cheers on Canada Day in Toronto, and a song that for some reason always stirs that old wanderlust inside my gipsy heart. And reignites that vagabond whimsy buried inside: subdued through months of practiced stoicism and yet, stirring once in a while amidst summer heat and long amaranthine warm night skies, forgotten lyrics and the sheer abandon of tumbling, intoxicating melodies. 

And here I go a-wandering though poignant Paris, the labyrinthine streets of Venice, the merchants’ markets in exotic, overwhelming India and through the dazzling colors of Burano, the snow-capped mountains of Salzburg, the inexhaustible energy of New York City and pensive train rides along the ocean of the…

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“Stay Weird”

September 1, 2015. In the past couple of weeks, this gem of a 4-minute video from Canada has been doing its rounds on the web. It’s a video posted as a farewell by the CBC Radio show “Wiretap” which ended after 11 seasons. Created by Jonathan Goldstein, a former producer of This American Life, WireTap invited audiences to “eavesdrop on a mix of funny, thoughtful, and unpredictable stories and conversations.” The Montreal Gazette called the show “something between borscht-belt comedy and Franz Kafka.”

“How to Age Gracefully” was originally an episode that kicked off the show’s tenth season on September 6, 2013. In it, people between the ages of 5 years to 90 years old shared their wisdom about growing up — and it was as witty as powerful. Goldstein remarked that the concept seemed to have stuck with people; so he and the show’s team decided the best send-off would be to invite listeners down to the CBC and make the premise of that episode into a video. 

If my readers get the chance, do pick up a copy of Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert’s book “Stumbling on Happiness.” Among its many insightful observations there is one that perhaps correctly notes that each individual person may think that he/she is utterly unique (which in a sense everyone is at a DNA level) but in truth how we feel or question or ruminate later in life in fact can and will be very, very similar in manner and kind to those who are like us in personality, but are much older than us. So a good way to deduce how your future self may feel/regret/question/wonder is by asking someone who is older than you, yet with a similar outlook, attitude, profession, upbringing, preferences and belief system, and find out how they feel at their age and what they would have told their younger selves.

In that sense, other than its charming premise and real life characters, the video “How to age gracefully” is a simple, minimalist yet powerful and poignant philosophical vignette shining a light on existentialism and what it means to grow up or grow old or to keep “growing” with age.

Make sure to watch till the very end ;)


Planetary Coalition – Album Excerpts 2

A short video with glimpses of the first four tracks of the album, including two time Juno-award winning North Indian ghazal/folk style as well as classically trained Indo-Canadian singer Kiran Ahluwalia; also Turkish kanun player Tamer Pinarbasi along with other members of New York Gypsy All Stars; members of the group Raza Truncka from the small agricultural community of Salto playing Argentine indigenous drums; and members of the Brooklyn-based world music group House of Waters. Stay tuned till the end of the video. Artwork and editing by moi  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87ncMQRiX44

The first track is of course for Planet Earth and includes a small homage to Carl Sagan, whose wisdom, philosophy and Science communication skills have been one of the greatest influences in my life since childhood.

Last night was the album release party in New York City at The Meridian 23 with performances by nearly a dozen of the 27 musicians of the project. We are so grateful to all who attended despite the chilly temperatures in the city. The project was also featured in an article in yesterday’s Village Voice newspaper.

For more excerpts of the musical tracks check out my previous post: https://gipsygeek.wordpress.com/2014/11/16/planetary-coalition-album-excerpts-1/