Another Spin Around the Sun

Pink Flower

June 9, 2019.

Another spin round the sun….here’s to getting older and ever-wiser but also more openly curmudgeon-ish in other ways..?

Truly, sometimes I wonder how/when did this shy optimistic “Amelie”-girl turn into a caustic “Dr House”?… I mean with my verbal comebacks in person…

At least this formerly relentlessly-bullied oddball introverted girl learned a while back to fight back with lethal zingers…so I take that as a good sign. 

At least the preference for the company of animals to 90% of humans, the utter love for solitude.. and the pessimism about the planet’s environmental future and the aghastness at ubridled population-growth/lack of human-population-control hasn’t changed since age 5 (yeah, wasn’t I a cheery kid? 😉 )………. nor the love for sunflowers and any-flowers (on trees and bushes, NOT fresh-cut-plucked-away-from-life-in-bouquets-in-store-aisles), bees and butterflies, solitary hikes through hills and mountains and meadows or city streets, good poetry and prose and good books and comics, tea and jazz, Bach and Beatles (and too many others to name), the smell of first-rain’d-upon-earth, the wonder at our Universe, the love for shows by Carl Sagan and David Attenborough, the marveling at the serrations and beauty of geological stone, at the sinuous curves of trees..their fractal branches and leaves, for Spock and Sherlock, silly walks and ni!! ni!…and so many, many other petits plaisirs de la vie….those pleasures still remain….more are added or reduced as the years go by, yet the fundamentals resonate.
Always.

It’s good to be alive….as opposed to dead, I guess…🙄 even though I too am a part of this unbridled-population growth on the planet…(at least my parents produced just two and not a bunny brood, albeit humans are so much more annoying than bunnies, generally speaking…)…and so here’s to another spin around the sun, alive and kicking; amiable yet kvetching; happy to be loved deeply and to love deeply; getting deeply dippy and dopey and deliriously dendrite….as I go on a-rambling on a random rattle…voicing words into some vortex of cyberspace just because sometimes the act of writing takes off on its own, a frenzied galloping along and against the breeze, that can’t be bridled back…. 🐎🐎🐎

….neigh, neigh, ni, ni, ekki-ekki-ekki-p’tang-zoom-boing…z’nourrwringmm….

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Year-end-year-ahead Conundrum

Gotham City Conundrum by the Gipsy GeekDecember 31, 2018. New York, New York. So here’s something to end the year with…and ring in the New Year. (I’ll spare explanations of why I’ve been tardy in posting regularly in this space….but in a nutshell – Life and Procrastination. And travel. Lots of it…..to Zurich, Bombay, Baroda, London, Edinburgh, Barcelona, Toulouse, Bordeaux in that order just in the past three months alone. And earlier in the year, time spent in New York, short stints near Chicago and briefly Montreal and Toronto.)

In early fall, before the mid-term elections, I was proud to give a speech for women’s rights and a call to political unity among liberals at Union Square, NYC, as the gathered throngs chanted in unison against the political and environmental degradation in this country, as we marched from Union Square to Times Square; And earlier in spring I joined many, many of my fellow women architects (including many older women architects I’ve long admired as inspiring icons) at the annual AIA meeting in New York to make the voices of women architects heard and to demand equity, visibility and due credit for our work in our very sexist profession. If anything at all, it is always cathartic to speak up…to speak up FACTS, that is.

Many of my stronger opinions and political views were shared with friends on my personal Facebook page (which is why, perhaps, I am guilty of not posting here), even as I continue to maintain another page on this link (this one is public and not related to my personal FB page) –  https://www.facebook.com/DonaldTrumpShutUp/  – can you believe it will be 9 years since I started it?!! It was the first of its kind on social media, before pages like that sprung up aplenty in 2017.  However, I can say with certainty that early-a**hole-personality-detection runs in my DNA. My maternal forefather – a leader in European politics – had written a book, a scathing critique against fascism –  years before the Holocaust foretelling that Hitler was a grave danger – at the time when people thought he was good for the economy.

End rant.

On to reflection.

As every year ends, as we grow another year older, and often another year sadder or wiser, or for some – especially for those whose neurotransmitters+receptors (dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins) are working in a balanced and healthy way – another year happier – we get into that time when we reflect on what we’ve gained and what we’ve lost, the past that cannot be changed and the future that is yet to unfold, the conundrum of the choices we’ve made or are to make, unsure at times if they are the right ones……..even as we try to keep Hope and Optimism alive as we always do when we step into something new – like a new year; in this case, the last of the teens of this century, before the start of a new decade (2020).

So to end this year, and ring it in with some New York jazz from New York – the city where I live and which is closest to my heart – here’re two videos that I edited for a very dear person and his jazz trio. If you like their music, give their official facebook page a “like” to keep up with their upcoming concert dates – https://www.facebook.com/alexskolnick/

The name of the album is Conundrum. Regarding its name and content, says Skolnick:

“It represents the sense of confusion many of us are feeling in the midst of the strangest sociopolitical upheavals of our lifetimes….This album captures many styles in an effort to channel that angst into art and inspire others to do likewise.”

The album, released in September went on to No.2 on i-tunes jazz charts on the very week of its release, preceded by Miles Davis (Kind of Blue) at no. 1 and followed by John Coltrane (the Best of Coltrane) at no. 3.  Not bad company! ;-) Of course,  the greats who always are at the top 10 soon took over their original positions but the exhilaration to see its rise upon its release was nice. If you want to support independent artists, please buy their albums – don’t stream on youtube, unless it’s a promo video – such as these ones :-) (Links to purchase are found underneath the videos on youtube and on the fb page, but as a repeat here they are as shortlinks: https://amzn.to/2Qjk1Qz  and https://apple.co/2Napfw7 )

Enjoy, expand to full screen and turn the volume up! The first is of the complete album excerpts; the second of possibly the liveliest tune of the album. (Videos edited, along with additional videography, photography, album design etc. by yours truly – Maddy, the Gipsy Geek.)

Here’s saying goodbye to 2018….and reflecting on the conundrum in the year that was and the year(s) to come…..and, in the process, using music as therapy.

The 2nd video is the full performance of a lively song “Culture Shock” which has received thousands of views and is one of the album’s favorites…the music combines eastern (you can hear the Oriental and Middle-eastern melody) and western (jazz and Americana) styles, along with a dash of southern bluegrass and blends them into a harmonious whole. The title of the track also loosely references Herbie Hancock’s “Future Shock.” The guitars used are a semi-hollowbody-acoustic & a vintage telecaster.

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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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