Sunday, April 20, 2008

This is a good example of what I'm seeing in Queens these days. Trees inexorably afoam with green. This is a Sunday shot along Skillman on the ride to the studio. And, hey, LOOK! Graffiti! Wow. That's totally keepin it real, yo.

Got in the studio early today, around 10 am. Worked for a bit. Steve came in. Then Teddy. Then Teddy had a visit from some British lady. Then we looked for a brunch place in LIC. We found it in a place called Blend. EXCELLENT food--I had the fried eggs, fried cheese, Dominican sausage and mashed plantains. So good. Phenomenally good. Problem? No liquor license. We all wanted bloody marys. None were to be had.

So. We bought vodka and mixings on the way to the studio and had a bloody afternoon.

Ahhh. That's better.
Who are you, Oswego?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

In the studio for eight hours today. Propped open the door, flung the windows open, aired the place out. Broke out all of the spring ritual music: In a Silent Way, English Settlement, etc. Worked for about four hours then took a break. Rode over to the deli, got a chicken salad sandwich and kept riding down to the East River waterfront in LIC. Nice but very very crowded. Seems to be getting more crowded each year.

Slow going, this drawing. They all go slowly but this size has always been difficult for me. I am going to change the name of the drawing to Gorgon Copper. Just because I've been carrying the name around with me for six or seven years now. Might was well use it with this drawing.

Friday, April 18, 2008

This is a magnolia tree (bush?) on my block. It sits next to a horrid little shack that has bars over all the windows; the house make me think of one of those frontier jail houses that showed up in Quickdraw McGraw cartoons. The owner of this jailhouse owns the plots on either side of his dwelling and he (or her, don't know) converted all available property to a parking lot which, I assume, he rents out to local residents. The entire property is asphalty/gravely with the exception of the space directly under this magnolia which is grassy and hold a bird bath. Every spring, this magnolia is the first to go off and the sparrows and starlings flick about in the branches, alternately splashing in the water of the bath or tucking themselves down in the grit of the parking lot and dousing themselves with dust and powder. It's almost Edenic. I mean, for Astoria that is.

Spring is here. Good. It's inexorable now. I look down the streets and see the trees covered with flecks of bright green froth. I've unearthed one of my spring albums, XTC's English Settlement. I'm not sure what prompted the purchase of this album back in early 1998 but it became the soundtrack for the spring/summer/fall of that year. (I remember my girlfriend at the time, Abby, being absolutely sick of that album within a few weeks of my getting hooked on it. I'd listen to Yacht Dance for an hour straight. I can't blame her, really.) It was a good year in Chicago, too....lots of bike riding, drinking, socializing, and I made my first body of work that wasn't directly related to the assignments in school. (I've yet to exhume the other spring album, Miles Davis's In A Silent Way. I'll save that for the studio.)

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

One view traded for another. The squalor of White Plains traded for the squalor of Long Island City. Ah, but it's my squalor. My neighborhood squalor. Ten minutes from apartment to job. Home for lunch.

I haven't been in the studio all week. Just don't have the energy or concentration. Which is fine, I guess. I feel wiped out from the six months of White Plains. I am incommunicado and uncreative.

Been listening to Wayne Shorter's Odyssey of Iska lately, the 9 minute track Joy in particular. Coltrane performed a song of the same title...I'm trying to discover if Shorter's version is a cover. But the melody is so fragmented on the Odyssey album that I can't tell. The best part about Joy is the bass line--which is a very funky stutter--but it only appears at random intervals. Anticipating the return of the bass line is one of my favorite aspects of the song. Shorter plays tenor through most of tune but switches to soprano for the last two minutes and his playing gets very fragmented--he'll play part of a phrase and leave it hanging incomplete, or he'll restate part of the melody but, again, just let it go unfinished. There is something very playful in his playing during that part of the song; I think it presages (or parallels--not sure on the exact chronology) this playinf on the first two Weather Report albums which share the same kind of foggy, gentle(ish) atmosphere.

Overall, a very misty album, like sunlight through fog along a coastline...liquid meeting solid meeting vapor, larger forms hinted at, softened and disguised, made unfamiliar by the shrouding atmosphere. Very good album, definitely one that takes some concentration because the structures are so loose. It's not free, exactly, but casual (?) somehow. Hard to pin it down. Good stuff.