It's been two weeks since I have returned from my month long trip to India and the jet lag is still lingering. It's also taking me some time to readjust to the sleepiness and monochromatic color scheme (overcast skies, black down coats everywhere) of NYC. I know, but seriously right now NYC seems tired (literally) compared to the vibrancy, noise, traffic, smells, and colors found in the cities of Hyderabad or Kolkata. I was lucky enough to accompany my parents to their native land on the special occasion of my cousin Dipak's wedding in West Bengal. I have not travelled to India in ten years, and while so much has changed (everyone has a cell phone, women wear jeans and drive scooters) I was comforted by the visuals of beautiful women in their colorful saris, road side markets with fresh vegetables and fruits, and cows and goats roaming the streets in the middle of traffic jams filled with scooters, rickshaws, and Marutis. Dipak's wedding to beautiful Sharmistha was also the first Indian wedding I have attended in India. The Indian feasts, the various traditional wedding ceremonies spanning over four days, the wonderful extended family that came from all over the country, and the chance to share this special time with my parents made for a trip that I will never forget. Although I can speak and understand a little Bengali, I chose broken English with a strong Indian accent to get me through most of my trip. It worked well. We traveled from West Bengal down south to Andrha Pradesh to see my mom's family in which they speak Telegu and English. I have no idea how to speak Telegu and still enjoyed going to see a Telugu blockbuster film at the Cinemax Theater in Banjara Hills, Hyderabad called Ongole Gitta. My mom's family actually lives in Ongole, so that was a cool coincidence. Everywhere we travelled in India, we were lucky to have generous family members and friends eager to show us a great time be it with fantastic tasty home cooked meals, gifts, shopping, scenic drives, applying mendhi to my hands (Susmita), or my favorite - sharing laughs.
As for the exhausting and humorous aspects of this trip, throughout most of my trip I decided to stay in the same room if not bed with my parents. That's right. I have to say we managed quite well although I would often wake up in the middle of the night with a mosquito buzzing in my ear and giant welts on my forehead. I did get sick the few times I ventured off the bottled water path, which is always awful. I should have listened to the southern American gentleman whom I overheard on the plane to India advising a British couple, "It's not a matter of IF you get sick, it's a matter of WHEN, so you may as well go ahead and start taking your Cipro now." Needless to say, I started taking mine immediately after eating my first meal in India ( I was too shy to demand bottled water but that shyness ended immediately after meal one). But still this was the first trip to India in which I was sick only a day at a time (on three occasions) which was a great success for me! I did get some of the same questions I've received on past trips to India, "What type of meat do you eat? Not cows right?", "Do you consider yourself American or Indian?", and "Why aren't you married?", but I have to admit I received them much less often than on trips in the past so that was nice. Oh, and let's not forget the last night I was in India, I was riding on a van rickshaw (a bicycle rickshaw with a pallet attached) in my new chudidhar/salwar and my scarf got caught in the wheel. Before I could stop the driver, the scarf tightened so tightly around my arm that it flipped me off the rickshaw on to the street. I was not hurt and was laughing hysterically when everyone was stopping to help me. I am still laughing now thinking of it. I just kept hearing my niece Rani telling the driver in Bengali "She's not used to wearing these clothes." That made me laugh harder. I've attached some of the images from my trip. Hope you enjoy them.
So many firsts happening this year - saw Madonna a few weeks ago, Nets vs. Knicks game this week at Barclays Center, The Radio City Christmas Spectacular with my nieces this coming weekend! While all these things are fantastic, then there are those things which you don't get to see. I am bummed right now because I am not seeing Os Mutantes and they are playing at Le Poisson Rouge which is only a few subway stops away. New York has just way too much going on to keep up with. For those of you who don't live here, I know it sounds like I am rubbing it in your face, but at any point on any given day, some awesome event is happening in NYC that only you would love and dream of doing but will have no knowledge at all it is happening. Not because you aren't hip or happening, but because it takes too much time to figure it all out. I find out about things too late or too far in advance and then there are things such as costs and time which of course limit the amount of entertainment I get to see. I hate feeling like I've missed out, but it is an every day ocurrence here in NYC.
I have to say that I only recently started listening to Os Mutantes, which is way late in the game since they are a group that started in the 1960's. Thanks to my friend's toddler daughter (at age 3, I realized she had the best taste in music), some of my hipster music friends, Beck and Jay-Z, I started paying attention to their Brazilian psychedelic brand of rock n' roll last year. I know, so not cool. I should have known earlier. So in case you are behind the times, here is a link to a French TV show performance in the 1960's and a song called A Minha Menina. Os Mutantes combines sounds of Spanish dance music, electronica, Ventures style surf guitars, mariachi, bossa nova, Beatles pop harmonies, American soul music, and random strange pychedelic sounds adding a texture of suspense and surprise at all times. oooh...see! Moving on....
Since I wrote last, the NYC area was hit hard by Super Storn Sandy. I live only a few blocks away from the South Street Seaport which was devastated by the storm and feel very lucky that I got away with only losing power for a week and heat for two weeks. The internet is still down right now (over 6 weeks now). So as you know, it was a tale of two cities on the island of Manhattan. All the lights were out below 34th for an entire week and those above 34th from what I hear were completely unaffected. The lower part of the city where I live, became almost completely deserted. At least it seemed that way. I rode my bike uptown on empty streets many days to eat w friends who were charging phones at various charging stations in areas where power existed. With traffic lights and subways down, it was surreal to ride my bike back home through the complete darkness. Seriously, I would look to my right and the West Village was pitch black. I would look to my left and the East Village was pitch black. In many ways I embraced the moment as one that I perhaps would never experience again. I am certain that although most New Yorkers were prepared for the storm, we had no idea as to what level of devastation Sandy could bring. We saw our city paralyzed. Everyone was frozen. And although it was beyond awful for so many people, in a positive sense it forced people to stop and perhaps to think about how complex our lives are, how delicate the infrastructure that provides for our communties is, how rare it is that we spend time together with friends or family, or perhaps to not think at all. Obviously there are folks in this area that will feel the effects of Sandy for years to come - Staten Island, Breezy Point, Rockaway Beach, and Coney Island are just some of the areas that were hit extra hard. The relief effort will be ongoing throughout the year. It is easy to volunteer through NY Cares if you are so inclined. I recommend it. Here is a pic of my friend Hyemi and I as we were helping the American Red Cross the week after the storm hit us.
(INTERRUPT THE FLOW OF BLOG ENTRY HERE) I fell asleep last night while writing this and woke up this morning to get not one or two but three texts/emails regarding how amazing the Os Mutantes show was last night! Jeez! Okay, I am sick now. (FLOW CONTINUES HERE)
Well, the holiday season is upon us and I am booked for a number of holiday parties within the next two weeks. I'm not bragging, it's just the NY way of life. Ooh, that sounded so pretentious.... I guess I am bragging. Sheesh. I attended my first holiday party of the year last week. I was fortunate enough to be invited to join my sister at her Christmas Office Party. I of course said yes, albeit I would have to ride the Vamoose bus to DC to attend. My sister is the Deputy Cabinet Secretary of the White House and Special Assistant to the President. I rarely get to go on about her, because she likes it that way. She is humble and keeps a low profile. But she is without a doubt a badass; a smart, generous, talented, super hard working woman, mother of two, who is beyond deserving of all the successes that have come to her. I wrote a short post regarding the party on my friend Jason Lam's food blog, Me So Hungry with more details. The stunning decorations, portrait paintings, food, and champagne were way beyond my expectations. The best part of the party was that I got to spend a wonderful afternoon with my sister, meet her many friends and share in their excitement of working at the White House. Also the icing on the cake was that I was able to shake the First Lady (only words that came from me were "You're so gorgeous!") and the President's hands at the end of the evening. I am certain that this will be the most memorable Office Christmas Party that I will have ever attended, however - there was the one a few years back that may be in contention, yeah friends, you remember the one at Bayard's?!......whew - you know who you are...we'll leave it at that.
Not sure where I am spending Christmas as of yet. I have spent almost every Christmas in Nashville, TN, my hometown, but this year Los Angeles, CA is in contention along with NYC. We'll see! I hope you all have the happiest of holidays.
Last week I was privileged to perform at Brooklyn Beta 2012 Conference - (Oct 10,11, and 12th ) at The Invisible Dog in Brooklyn. The website describes the conference:
"Brooklyn Beta is a small, friendly web conference aimed at the “work hard and be nice to people” crowd. Once a year, we welcome some of the friendliest web designers, developers, and entrepreneurs to Brooklyn, and we invite speakers to highlight meaningful problems that need our help. Our goal is to inspire you to make something you love, so we get all the people who can turn an idea into reality in one place and try our best to make it happen."
I am finally ready to tell you about my semi regular weekly podcast called We Don't Know. The podcast is hosted by myself and my great friend Christian Felix. We hit it off while working as temporary workers on a big case at a huge Manhattan law firm years ago when I first moved to the city. We share a love of laughing and giving each other hell. We can easily talk about all that's going on in our lives for hours when it feels as though only a few minutes have passed. We were destined to become podcast partners. Not sure how to classify what we are doing. Our iTunes description says "They may be called hipsters, old school, mainstream, irreverent, classic, country, gangster, or rock n' roll. All labels apply." See what I mean. Each show includes a conversation with a special guest, music, news and a conversation about our own lives. We just completed our 5th episode, and our guests have been fabulous, including Jason Lam - food blogger & rock 'n roller, Duane Harriott - seminal music guru and DJ to the stars, John Early, a young brilliant actor and stand up comedian, Kenny Lienhardt - legendary Bowery Ballroom sound man and host of the Urban Angler fishing show, and lastly my childhood friend Charlest Scott - endurance athlete, writer, and family adventurer. Just in case you were wondering, we will be getting lots more lady guests on in the upcoming shows...schedules are being worked out as I type. There you have it. Honestly with no formal promotion we have been shocked at the number of downloads we have accumulated (almost 8,000) . Someone is enjoying the show in the Phillipines and Bahrain. Oh, also you can subscribe for free to We Don't Know via our Itunes feed and listen as you work, do the laundry, clean your apartment, or sit staring at your computer. I hope you enjoy!
For the last two months I have managed to spend approximately 95% less time on the computer (no FB, internet surfing for fun, no internet shopping), which is not to say I accomplished lots more with my time. Only that I did things that I would not have otherwise done. I have seen movies in actual theaters, gone outside more often to walk - hike - and bike, and have been able to make a big dent in catching up on my lack of sleep. I wonder if my brain has changed in anyway. Who knows, but at the least I can say the experience has been rejuvenating. I am certain a computer leave of absence is not for everyone (also note this has not been a 100% absence from the old Mac Book) but for those of you that try it out, it may force you to discover something about yourself that you never would have learned on your computer.
The night before last, I saw this wonderful documentary at the Angelika Theater called Searching for Sugar Man, about the musician peformer Sixto Rodriguez. I was lucky that I did not go online to see the trailer before I saw the movie, which is usually what I would do. Instead I went to the movie, not knowing anything but the beautiful music of Rodriguez. Thank goodness for that. Everything that unfolded on the screen, was the first that I had known of Rodriguez' story. I am telling you now. Go see this film and do not do any research on Rodriguez or the movie before you see it. I mean it. I learned lots regarding Rodriguez in turn regarding myself from seeing this film. Who knows you may be as lucky as I was. I hope you are.
Here is Rodriguez song Sugar Man.
Oh and in the past week, I also saw Neil Young live at Red Rocks in Colorado, and I saw Mike Tyson in the Undisputed Truth (one-man show) live on Broadway. Both of these live shows were out of this world. Lucky me.
Do you remember the day you met your best childhood friend? I remember when I first saw Michelle from afar. She was the new kid in elementary school. She was so pretty and had a cool short Dorothy Hamill like haircut. Super different from us Nashville girls. She had a unique style and I seriously developed a girl crush. I wanted to know her. Upon first sight, she seemed shy and quiet. But I was partially wrong. Michelle has always been shy upon meeting her initially, but even back then she was a full out performer. She was a super silly, smarty pants, hilarious, talented little girl. Who would have known that she would be the one friend that I have laughed with more than any other person in my life. We connected in many ways, but music and laughter was the connection that changed my life. That chemistry from back in elementary school created a longlasting friendship which has become a big part of who I am. We started playing and writing music together as kids - the violin, clarinet, guitar. We were on the dance committee together in Jr. High and demanded our principal get a silver mirror glass disco ball. While we both had relatively strict parents, somehow they allowed us to fly to Oklahoma to see Duran Duran as teenagers. We went to every rock show in Nashville as soon as we were of age. We were given guitars by rock n' roll boyfriends in college and as many of you know we eventually became partners in a rock n' roll band as adults, complete with recording deals, touring schedules, sleeping on floors together, living together for years. Our personal lives were meshed together and we loved it - at one point our boyfriends lived together and at another point our boyfriends were brothers, and actually now our boyfriends both have the initials J.P. Of course now I live in NYC, and Michelle is in Atlanta, GA but we always talk about making an album together when we are 80 years old. I am certain it will rock. Our partnership has never ended and she influences me on a daily basis.
That's us in Jr. High. We were even color coordinated! I love my headband and Michelle's sailor shirt. Alright, so enough rambling - you get it, I love Michelle.
I am writing this because I wanted to share with you something a bit more personal regarding my influences. This friend of mine, K. Michelle Dubois is a genius musician. I feel so lucky to have performed and composed music with her for so long. She just put out a solo release, which I am listening to right now. I love it. It is called Lux Capone. You should download it now. It is a perfect summer breezy pop album, with the sweetness and the sour which I crave, The dissonant sounds are reminiscent of a beautiful summer storm. I will let you decide for yourself.
Click this link to her album.
Michelle has also released music with her band Luigi which you can find on her site.
Here is the link to Michelle's site.
Oh how weird I am clicking on to her site right now while listening to her album. So I am hearing, Star's Lament (Ultrababyfat) playing over Footsteps on Wingspan (from her solo album) and it sounds amazing!!!
We are only a month away til the first day of summer and here in New York, I have worn a rainjacket or jacket to work for the last few weeks. Folks complain here about the killer summer heat all the time, which probably only comes to NY two to three weeks out of the year since I have lived here. No judgement. Everyone needs something to complain about, right? But still, please I need some real warmth in NYC. It is the best to be here in the summer time, all the cool kids go to their country homes, and those of us that only pay rent in one city have no choice but to stay here. I love NYC in the summertime. It becomes quiet and somewhat quaint.
As for Spring 2012, this one has flown by. In March, I was the musical guest on a couple of episodes of a new NPR Trivia Game Show called "Ask Me Another" which is just now being aired. Look for it, listen to it, talk about it. It is a geek's dream radio show which means if you are reading this blog you would surely enjoy it.
As for April and May, I traveled to Nashville, TN, my hometown, and to New Orleans, LA for Jazz Fest 2012 for fun in the swamplands. I performed a bunch with my bands and in comedy shows- 100 Oaks Revival shows, Tigers and Monkeys, and Variety Shac. I always love explaining to comedy audiences how my music is not comedy music as in the vein of Tenacious D or Flight of the Conchords, but rather that I got involved initially in the comedy world, becuase comedians love the fact that I laugh loudly at them as well as they love (I am putting words into their mouths) my music (whether you classify my music as serious or not will be reserved for a future blog entry).
So we are coming upon June and with it comes more clarity as to my creative goals. Shhshshshs, I can't tell you. I must do. But I am excited, aren't you? (generic response needed here, like "Why yes, we are excited for you!"). I am excited for you, whatever it is that you may be doing or not doing that is. I am serious. Someone needs to be excited for you don't you think? Well here are a couple of links to some short vids I took over the spring, to emphasize my excitement.
Oh and off to another city which starts with "N", Newport, Rhode Island! How many major cities in the US start with "N"? Do you know?
Nashville in the Springtime - my mom and dad's backyard (while it was raining and cold in NYC)
Black Feather Mardi Gras Indians, New Orleans Jazz Fest 2012
Here's a pic of my dearest friend, Kathleen Michelle DuBois and I at the New Orleans Jazzfest 2012
I need some new music suggestions. I guess I will ask you on FB.
But I will tell you right now that I am listening to Skip Spence's Oar . My friend Austin gave me the CD last year when I was explaining to him that the basic tracks for 100 Oaks Revival was recorded initially in Nashville live within a few days. Spence's Oar was recorded in 1969, in Nashville in a similar fashion only Skip Spence (formerly of Moby Grape) was on the brink of a mental breakdown or should I say he was losing his mind as he was recording. There is a frenetic energy, a simplicity, a looseness, but also some beautifully crafted sweet songs. The barely audible vocals hit me just right. I dunno! You have to be in the mood, but something about it captures Nashville in the way that I love it. It is the city that as a kid, I got to be surrounded by so many lovely musicians who schooled me. Should I get a haircut like Skip's?
Sopa and Pipa bills are postponed in the US due to protests. I may be naive, but at least for now it looks like everyone's actions made a difference yesterday.
Ah, snow on the ground! Reminds me of the children's book The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats. Do you know it? Loved that story, seeing the illustrations and touching the slick pages of that book as a child....I scraped up the bottom of the bag of my Belizean coffee beans purchased from a trip two years ago...yup. You probably would have thrown them away right? Too lazy to go out to buy more beans this morning, in pjs til noon and listened to my Tito Puente Cha Cha album. Some mornings are really good.
Those are my new earmuffs! Aren't they cute? Or do they look like I have grey mutton chops like Martin Van Buren? Those muffs are a life changer! But is life going to change on the information superhighway? I already had one life change today, don't need another.
Today, only one day after Wikipedia and Reddit went dark in protest of the proposed PIPA (Protect IP Act) and SOPA (Stop Piracy Act) legislation, the DOJ took down the MegaUpload site (on grounds of copyright infringement) and then Anonymous took responsibility for taking down RIAA, Universal Music, Justice.org, and MPAA sites. Today was also the first day that I had ever heard the term "Tango down" in terms of taking down a website for a temporary time period. I had only heard of MegaUpload last week. What the hell is happening? Although the SOPA and PIPA legislation was supposedly introduced as a protection for copywritten material, there is a sense that these bills will open the door to internet censorship and jeopardize the freedom we enjoy on the internet today.
It has been easy for us to take this little thing called the internet for granted for a long while now. Although I am not one that has an undying fear of tying ourselves to our gadgets (wait perhaps that's not true), I would be a fool to not notice how every second of our existence is usually tied to the web- be it through our phones or computers. Look at me now. After a day at work in front of a screen, I am sitting here in front of a screen eager to communicate with you.
Our finances, maps, movies, restaurants, emails, music, and friends all come to us straight through little boxes and screens. It's a struggle right? In one sense the need to attach ourselves cannot be good for our physical or mental health while we sit hunched over a keyboard looking at a screen. At the other end, we are conflicted because the ease and freedom with which we have to gain such entertaining, amusing, necessary, and complex information gives us our greatest ability to communicate and learn on a daily basis. With the world wide web, we have our most popular and useful venue for us to openly and abundantly communicate/gab.
So who knows where the web will go in the next decade? For now, we can help to keep this communication open and free between us all. Here is a letter from Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon suggesting we all get involved in this next phase of the fight. I am a big fan of Senator Wyden's for many reasons. One of which is my sister worked for him for years in the Senate, and consistently told me of his intelligence, wit, and courage.
I hope not to be bumming you out with all this, just checking in and hoping you too are making your voice be heard. Here is a video to keep you laughing through all of this.
My friend John Roberts just posted it and he makes me laugh so there.
Shit Jodi Says After Her High School Reunion