Thursday, March 30, 2006

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

God Save Ray Davies

I first heard the Kinks on the radio. "All Day and All of the Night" and "You Really Got Me". Those songs rocked. I wanted more, so I went to the local Caldor and bought "The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society". It sounded totally different. I was a bit disappointed, but still intrigued. Then my cousin sent me a copy of "Arthur". That was more like it. A few years later I picked up "Face to Face". My friend Lars, a diehard Kinks fan, gave me "Soap Opera" for my birthday. So over the years I grew to appreciate the width and depth of The Kinks's work. From "Fancy" to "Apeman" to "Low Budget".

So last night, we trekked to the 9:30 Club to join the many faithful to hear Ray Davies. It was a funny crowd- parents with their children, parents with their parents, fortysomethings on dates, DC hipsters- and not a single cell phone ring or loud conversation to interrupt the show.

The set was an array of tunes from all eras of The Kinks, from "You Really Got Me" to "Days" to "Picture Book" to "Dead End Street" to "Oklahoma USA" to "Lola". Over the course of the show he took the crowd through many moods- quiet, loud, sad, happy, serious and silly. He looked like he was having as much fun as we were.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Vernal Equinox Thoughts

Today is the vernal equinox, which means the first day of spring for those of us inhabiting the northern hemisphere. The equinox is the only day when the sun is above the horizon for the same amount of time that it is below the horizon. People around the world celebrate the equinox but here in Washington DC it's just another day. This isn't a city that's connected to nature. But cities are the culmination of human's efforts to control nature, so I guess it's not realistic to expect them to acknowledge nature, other than spring sales, easter candy, and asparagus in the grocery stores. But then again, there is a certain energy on the street that wasn't there a month ago. Not just the birds are singing different songs.

Leafy Green

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Ides of March

Today is the day Marcus Brutus stabbed Julius Caeser. Once I visited Rome and saw the steps to the Capitol where he was murdered. Caeser's tomb is nearby. People still leave flowers and offerings there. Up the hill from the tomb is the Forum, where Marcus Antonius addressed the citizens after the murder. In Shakespeare's version, he says the following:

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answer'd it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest--
For Brutus is an honourable man;
So are they all, all honourable men--
Come I to speak in Caesar's funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
He hath brought many captives home to Rome
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept:
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
You all did see that on the Lupercal
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And, sure, he is an honourable man.
I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you then, to mourn for him?
O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause till it come back to me.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Ali Farka Toure R.I.P.

Every summer the Smithsonian Museum here in Washington DC holds a Folklife Festival on the Mall. The festival features the arts and culture of a region of America as well as that of a few countries. Different ones are selected each year. In 2003 it was Mali. One night Ali Farka Toure showed up to play. It wasn't really publicized, but the tent was packed that night. The folks from Mali sat up front to see their main man. We stood in the back. It was really hot, we were dripping sweat and guzzling water until it ran out. Farka Toure played for hours. He was sweating too, and women from the audience would jump up onstage to slap paper money on his sweaty skin. Everyone was having a blast. His guitar playing was psychedelic; it was African; it was the blues; it was everything that night. He had a couple percussion players and maybe a rhythm guitar. Not a whole band. He was dressed in black, he looked like a star. And he was. Here's his obituary.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Film: The Station Agent

The Station Agent (2003) is a charming movie. It's one of those movies that does a good job telling a story visually. There are lots of nice shots, lots of summertime green trees and golden light. There are three main characters and they all seem to be different sides of the same problem. The pacing and camera work reminded me a bit of George Washington (2000).