Friday, October 31, 2008

Bowing down to the greatness of Leonard Cohen

The day after the big election, next Wednesday, I will be performing as part of a night of tribute to the music of Leonard Cohen.
Come one, come all. It's a free show and if You don't know Leonard Cohen's music then you are missing some amazing poetry.

I will be reading from the novel Beautiful Losers and singing my version of Famous Blue Raincoat.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Are French Children on Acid?

Our trip to Montreal has evoked a fascination with the French language and a desire to learn it. In my quest I have come across many interesting websites, podcasts and online tools for learning French. By far, the most interesting and most twisted is a children's show called Telechat. Well, Actually it's a tie between Telechat and L├ęguman. I shall let you be the judge.

I am now convinced that French children are on acid.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Knots in my stomach

Photo by Robert German of The Illuminated Crowd Statue Downtown Montreal, Quebec

It is a day that ties knots in my stomach
and drags my heart across the floor.
I am waiting for the call,
waiting to rush to your side.
to hold enough of your weight for you to walk through the door.
ready for the water to pour from your eyes.

I am here,
two feet tapping
Two shoulders with years of experience
collecting tears.

They are yours to soak today.
I will hold you if you need it
cook you soup
tap dance.

I will try my best. I am here, waiting for your call
stomach tied in knots with thoughts
of all that is to come
and all that's come undone.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Robert Recommends: Patrick Watson

Close To Paradise
Patrick Watson

While visiting Montreal we stayed with our friend Matheiu who much like myself is very passionate about music.

One artist in particular by the name of Patrick Watson caught my ear.

His music is unique, fun and full of whimsy with vocalization and production that touch upon the voices of Jeff Buckley and Chris Martin(Coldplay) and production elements of The Beatles, Pink Floyd and again,Coldplay. The fusion of these sounds treats the listeners ears to something uniquely breathtaking, full of ear candy and angst.

I highly recommend this current album on my playlist.

Get it from iTunes.

Back in NY

I am back in New York and adjusting to the change of pace, the change of scale, the change of language.

There is something so romantic about montreal.
It has seeped into my skin. My ears are full of music
and French words whose meanings I have yet to discover.

I wrote a silly little song about a convenience store called Couche-tard.

There are stories and images coming soon as I collect the thoughts in my head.
after the 11 hour train ride, I am still in recovery, though I must say the beauty from the window of the train was paralyzing.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

A Vacation of sorts

I feel fortunate and very blessed to have some of the most amazing and giving friends. Though I don't get to see many of them as much as I would like, I have been given the opportunity to meet some really sweet, talented and warm people in my travels and in my life. I would like take a moment to say thank you... to Ricky for the letters,the help with the studio, and being one of my biggest cheerleaders. Recently you have helped me to find a renewed sense of George for everything, more than I can even say. Of course, Sanford, who I will get to see tonight.
I will do my best to do you all proud.

So, I am very excited...something that almost never happens is happening.
I almost never get the opportunity to take vacations really with the exception of visiting Mr. Carpentier's beach house in Delaware during the summer...and that is not too shabby. Rehoboth is a beautiful magical town. If you walk two blocks from Mr. Carpentier's house and cross the highway, you will find yourself in a soccer field. Walk through the soccer field to the row of trees, cross the dirt road and you will find yourself at the swing sets. If I am visiting then you will probably find Mr. Carpentier and I swinging. It is good to hold onto part of being a child, to still see parts of the world through those hopeful eyes.

This time tomorrow, K and I will be in Vermont visiting our friend Chris and mountain biking. We arrive at what I've been told is the peak of the turning leaves. Chris has been kind enough to let us stay with him and also managed to borrow some bikes for us to use. See, this is what I am talking about, so sweet.

On Friday, we are taking a 2 1/2 hour bus ride to Montreal to visit friends. Matheiu has been kind enough to offer us a place to stay in his apartment. His roomate who I have not met is out of town for the weekend and has kindly loaned us her room and bed.

I have never been to Montreal, but I hear that it is amazing. It is the 2nd largest French speaking city in the world next to Paris. This will be the first time I have left the country in over 6 years. I am so excited to see what waits in store for us on this little adventure. I will try to take some pictures and document the journey as I am able.

I must say it is strange to be traveling and not doing a show. I don't travel generally unless I can also book a show. I did almost book something in Montreal, but unfortunately it was too short of notice to make it happen.

Well, I am packed. Laura is staying in the apartment to watch the cat.
Deep breath...Away we go

9 to 5

Something rather alarming happened over the weekend. For many this wouldn't seem alarming, but for me, well, it's a different story. We ran out of beans in the cupboard. I being a crazy stockpiler of canned goods and former grocery store employee, maintain my cupboard like a grocery shelf. As soon as I buy a can of beans, it goes behind the previous cans so that the oldest can is at the front and will be grabbed first. This is something we called "Rotating Shelves" in my previous life.

Being aware of shelf rotation when shopping, I pull cans off the shelf and buy the cans at the back knowing that they are the freshest. I do the same with milk and almost everything I buy, digging until I find the items with the latest expiration dates.
These neurotic behaviors most specifically the stockpiling have been brought into question in the past. With slightly raised eyebrow and subtle smiles, my boyfriend looks at me with that adoring look given only to one capable of coupling with someone as neurotic as my self.

We went to the corner store to put a bandaid on the situation and buy a few cans of beans only to discover that the beans were marked at 95 cents a can. I was shocked. 95 cents a can, really? I thought for sure someone dyslexic must have just started working at the grocery store, switching the 9 to a 5 and vice versa. Unfortunately, I was wrong. Upon visiting another store I discovered an outrageous bean price of $1.29 a can, I accepted the sad state of affairs with a tinge of regret. If only I had bought more cans of beans 6 months ago when they were 59 cents a can. It's amazing that the price of beans, a staple of my poor man's diet has doubled in less than a year.

I hate buying dried beans, but it looks like I will now be stockpiling dry beans in mason jars.

As a child, I remember being at my grandparent's house on their farm in Oklahoma. They had this walk-in pantry with enough food to survive for months without going to the store. Something about it always creaped me out because half the labels were faded and tinted a shade of green. The brands were some I had never heard of and I even think perhaps some of those cans had been placed in the cupboard during the 1st great depression. We find ourselves on the brink of a possible second great depression. My grandmother, having been forced to move to California during the dustbowl (see grapes of wrath aka her life story) has been preparing all her life for a second great depression. Knowing it was only a matter of time, she has been patiently building her reserves.

I live a world away in New York. I was born into the commercial excess of the 1980's and the proliferation of Public relations and marketing to the masses. I was part of the MTV generation but grew up in a town that didn't have MTV. I didn't even see MTV until it had morphed into the epicenter of reality television, a plague that has swallowed popular culture and vomitted out people like Paris Hilton, Clay Aiken, and a heard of forgettable ladder climbers clinging to their five to fifteen minutes of fame. Despite the distance in time, space and generation, like my grandmother I find myself stockpiling canned goods, building my reserves and preparing for some sort of tragedy. Sometimes I wonder if this makes my cynical, practical, crazy or all of the above. No matter what it means, instinctively, like a squirrel burying nuts, I forage through the isles of grocery stores looking for choice nuts to bury until some sort of winter brings hunger. It is impulse. It is instinct. It is what needs to be done. The urgency for which this task holds in my conciousness is ever growing. It is this urgency which scares me most.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Courtesy of Mr. Carpentier

Here is the redesign for the American Dollar. ;)

My Man+ My MOW MOW

Yes, I know. It's cheesy, but I couldn't resist sharing this photo I took last night.

Starving Artists Live in the Ghetto

There is something kind of amazing about this photo of our cat, Sheba. It was taken from the large gap under the front door to our apartment. Being a very affectionate and sometimes needy cat, Sheba waits by the door when we are not home, listening for the jingling of keys or the sound of approaching foot traffic. As soon as the door is opened she attaches herself to your leg demanding attention. I guess her time as an alley cat without close human contact has made her a bit of an affection junky. Aren't we all though really? Sometimes she will literally climb my back and stand on my shoulder, rubbing her face against mine. I've never known a cat so gentle and loving. She sleeps in bed curled at my feet or around K's head.

I've been fighting off a bit of a cold and as though she could sense that I was not feeling well, she slept curled at my chest.
I think there is a fear with having a cat that it might lead to having two cats, three cats, thirty cats. Hello crazy cat lady. They find you dead after a week with an overturned cup of herbal tea surrounded by cats and filth, stacked newspapers dating back to 1953 reaching towards the ceiling like stalagmites.

I've been thinking a lot about our neighborhood lately. It's been changing. When I moved here over a year ago, it felt like an act of bravery. I had lived on people's sofas for over a year, traveling by bus, train, plane and car to shows on the weekends. The main thing that drew me in was the very low rent, very low. Artists, musicians, painters, sculptors, writers are often poor. We put a lot of our money and the money we make back into what drives us, the need to create. Many of us die poor. Some of us get acclaim or respect, but that really doesn't feed you. We find ourselves lost in this battle between the need to make money, to literally put bread on the table and the desire to create something we believe in, unaltered by the need to make money. Often though, the commercial side takes over and taints the art. The music that was once just an acoustic guitar or piano and a voice becomes electronic techno beats and diminished lyrical content, provocative for the sake of drawing attention and unaware of what once made it special. It is the trap of art as a career, one of which I am all too conscious.

I did a show out of state one really cold winter evening at this little bar in a really cute neighborhood, opening for a Canadian musician named Erika who I'd met at an open Mic. After the show, I was approached by someone who came to see me perform and told me how much my music meant to him. I was deeply touched. He then told me of how he was so excited that he burned copies of my cd for friends so that they would listen. I just smiled but inside I found myself torn. On one hand I wanted as many people to hear my music as possible, but on the other I wanted to be compensated for all the work I had put into the album. It got me thinking down this course of a grocery store. Most people would not go into a grocery store and shove cans of beans in their pockets, nor would they go to a music store for that matter and shove cds in their pockets.

It is an unfortunate and fortunate reality, this digital age that we live in. We find our music, our art traveling to places we never imagined, Japan, Russia, amazing is that? Often though, the music finds its way to those far reaches through illegal downloads and the burning of cd's among friends. So, essentially it is shoved into pockets or ears in this case without a trip to the register. Is illegal downloading the modern shoplifting or is it a free mode of promotion and publicity? I think it is a bit of both. Many musicians have resolved themselves to the fact that a lot of their money must be made through doing shows and yet venues that were once plentiful and open to an array of art have been drying up. I wonder if they are also victims of the digital age. People are attached to their devices and connected in a million ways and yet it seems to have led to less people leaving their homes. They can have their groceries, their clothing, their music, movies and just about anything delivered right to their door. Some people telecommute, working at home on their laptops....Is there a reason to leave their homes at all?

So back to our neighborhood.... When I moved to the neighborhood it was a predominantly caribbean neighborhood and in many aspects still is. There is a cycle that happens with urban gentrification. The poor artist move into a neighborhood along with the lesbians and homos. Yes, homos. They take an otherwise "undesirable" area and seeing the potential, move in. Landlords see the potential for asking more money for rent, so they fix things up a, the friends of the artists see the cheap rent and feel ok about moving into the area since their homo artist friends are living there and haven't been stabbed in the eye yet. The only problem is that once you get a bunch of white people in a neighborhood, they want their Starbucks and the GAP and an assortment of little stores and restuarants. Yes, White people are spoiled and a little needy. I'm white so I can say that. They want everything to be cute. Little boutiques open catering to the new crowd. Soon, however the neighborhood becomes "desirable" and the floodgates open. Luxury condos pop up everywhere along with Starbucks, the Gap, and and assortment of banks and sushi restaurants. Rents go through the roof and the poor artists are forced to move away from the neighborhood. BTW, they demolished the building behind our apartment and are turning it into a 20 story luxury condo building with the first two floors being used for commercial purposes. It is a glass and steel structure that will block out the sunlight. It will be architecturally out of place for the neighborhood and about 15 stories taller than almost all the surrounding buildings. The end is nigh.

This is the cycle as I've seen it happen before. It is starting in our neighborhood. I fear it. I like the caribbean flavor, the interesting spices at the vegetable market across the street. The one thing I don't like is the gap under our door, but there is some give and take one must accept when pioneering a neighborhood where the buildings border on or were previously slums.
I don't shop at starbucks. I prefer the local coffee shop with its slow lines and inconsistent service. I shop at salvation army and used clothing stores most of the time. I have never purchased anything from the gap. Ironically though, I being a white homo artist am both the cause and the victim of this gentrification. A part of me feels guilty. I love my neighbors. It truly is a neighborhood. I miss my cracked out neighbor James who used to blast his stereo into the street and sit on the stoop shirtless drinking beer out of a paper bag. I'd much rather have the flavor of my neighborhood than a crummy overroasted starbucks coffee...any day.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Sarah Palin can suck it.

I don't hate gay people. One of my best friends is gay. Oh, I don't have a problem with the sinful choices people make for their own lives, like homosexuality. Of course they will burn in hell for eternity, but hey...did you know that I can see Russia from my house?

Sarah Palin....YOU CAN SUCK IT!

And now a word from our sponsor

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