…..on music you gotta know…..

A few months ago I came across a band created by a Greek-born singer, Magda Giannikou.  She is quite honestly one of the most amazing singers, arrangers I’ve come across in a while.   Her group known simply as BANDA MAGDA has recorded 2 albums and are getting ready to release their third album this spring.  A great entertaining band that moves from Samba to French Chanson, Colombian cambia to Greek folk tunes and Afro-Peruvian lando.   This truly is “world beat” music.   A win-win on any account.

For their second album YERAKINA, Magda says – “In many ways, Yerakina has nothing to do with music,” smiles Giannikou. “It’s about one hand holding the other, climbing up that deep, dark well, together, towards the sunlight.”  Without further delay here are 3 selections from YERAKINA.

You want to know more?  Check out the bands website at


If you liked what you’ve heard you can pre-order and support their third album TIGRE coming out this spring using the following link.


….. on Eco…..

I was so deeply grieved a few days ago to hear of the loss of one of the greatest modern thinkers and literary figures, Umberto Eco.  I am at a loss for words to describe the impact he has had on my life and my way of thinking and seeing.  He was Professor of Semiotics at Milan University, social critic and satirist, essayist and story teller.   As a founder of the study of Semiotics (the study of signs, symbols; they’re processes and they’re meaningful communication) he opened up a whole vista of study that would parallel and have the same type of impact as Joseph Campbell’s work on Mythology.   It has shaped how I perceive life around me, and various “entertainments” such as films, music,  art, sports, various media and other meaningful diversions.    I am grateful for the translators who translated his work from the Italian to English.

I’m happy to have read all of his Fiction work that has been translated to English.  I was first exposed to his work through a university theater history course on modern/contemporary theater and literature.   Mandatory reading for this course was Eco’s book, Name of The Rose (at that time back in the early 80’s) he was not quite so well known in the US as he is now.   I’m grateful for my history teacher to include this work in the required reading.   Accompanying the main story was a “post script” on post modernism written by Eco.   Between the story in the main book and his philosophical thoughts on post modernism I was hooked.

Since then I’d read all of his fictions and many of his non-fiction works.  Favorites and recommendations include,  NAME OF THE ROSE, FOUCAULT’S PENDULUM, THE MYSTERIOUS FLAME OF QUEEN LOANA.  Also I love the children books he wrote that were illustrated by abstract artist Eugenio Carmi, THE BOMB AND THE GENERAL, THREE ASTRONAUTS, and THE GNOMES OF GNU.   My favorite non-fiction works are: THE OPEN WORK, MISREADINGS, TRAVELS IN HYPER-REALITY, HOW TO TRAVEL WITH A SALMON, SIX WALKS IN THE FICTIONAL WOODS, BELIEF OR NON-BELIEF (A conversation between Eco and Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini), POSTSCRIPT TO THE NAME OF THE ROSE, KANT & THE PLATYPUS, HISTORY OF BEAUTY, TURNING BACK THE CLOCK:HOT WARS AND MEDIA POPULISM, ON UGLINESS, THE INFINITY OF LISTS, and finally, INVENTING THE ENEMY.

So as you see, yes, I’ve read a few of his works.  🙂  Here are 10 quotes:

What is love? There is nothing in the world, neither man nor Devil nor any thing, that I hold as suspect as love, for it penetrates the soul more than any other thing. Nothing exists that so fills and binds the heart as love does. Therefore, unless you have those weapons that subdue it, the soul plunges through love into an immense abyss. ― The Name of the Rose

I think a book should be judged 10 years later, after reading and re-reading it. I was always defined as too erudite and philosophical, too difficult. Then I wrote a novel that is not erudite at all, that is written in plain language, The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana, and among my novels it is the one that has sold the least. So probably I am writing for masochists. It’s only publishers and some journalists who believe that people want simple things. People are tired of simple things. They want to be challenged. – interview with the Guardian in 2011

All the stories I would like to write persecute me when I am in my chamber, it seems as if they are all around me, the little devils, and while one tugs at my ear, another tweaks my nose, and each says to me, ‘Sir, write me, I am beautiful’.

On the morning of July 27, 1943, I was told that, according to radio reports, fascism had collapsed and Mussolini was under arrest. When my mother sent me out to buy the newspaper, I saw that the papers at the nearest newsstand had different titles. Moreover, after seeing the headlines, I realized that each newspaper said different things. I bought one of them, blindly, and read a message on the first page signed by five or six political parties – among them the Democrazia Cristiana, the Communist Party, the Socialist Party, the Partito d’Azione, and the Liberal Party. Until then, I had believed that there was a single party in every country and that in Italy it was the Partito Nazionale Fascista. Now I was discovering that in my country several parties could exist at the same time. – from his 1995 essay UR-Facism, from the New York Review of Books

Books are not made to be believed, but to be subjected to inquiry. When we consider a book, we mustn’t ask ourselves what it says but what it means. – The Name of the Rose

I should be at peace. I have understood. Don’t some say that peace comes when you understand? I have understood. I should be at peace. Who said that peace derives from the contemplation of order, order understood, enjoyed, realized without residuum, in joy and truimph, the end of effort? All is clear, limpid; the eye rests on the whole and on the parts and sees how the parts have conspired to make the whole; it perceives the center where the lymph flows, the breath, the root of the whys… ― Foucault’s Pendulum

The real hero is always a hero by mistake; he dreams of being an honest coward like everybody else.

The [Da Vinci Code] author Dan Brown, is a character from Foucault’s Pendulum! I invented him. He shares my characters’ fascinations—the world conspiracy of Rosicrucians, Masons, and Jesuits. The role of the Knights Templar. The hermetic secret. The principle that everything is connected. I suspect Dan Brown might not even exist. – interview with the Paris Review in 2008

Charlie Brown has been called the most sensitive child ever to appear in a comic strip, a figure capable of Shakespearean shifts of mood; and Schulz’s pencil succeeds in rendering these variations with an economy of means that has something miraculous about it. The text, always almost courtly (these children rarely lapse into slang or commit anacoluthon), is enhanced by drawings able to portray, in each character, the subtlest psychological nuance. Thus the daily tragedy of Charlie Brown is drawn, in our eyes, with exemplary incisiveness. – Eco on the comicstrip Peanuts, for the New York Review of Books in 1985

How does a person feel when looking at the sky? He thinks that he doesn’t have enough tongues to describe what he sees. Nevertheless, people have never stopping describing the sky, simply listing what they see… We have a limit, a very discouraging, humiliating limit: death. That’s why we like all the things that we assume have no limits and, therefore, no end. It’s a way of escaping thoughts about death. We like lists because we don’t want to die. – interview with Der Spiegel in 2009

Rest in Peace:  Umberto Eco  January 5, 1932 – February 19, 2016


….. on snow…..

I’ve said many times before that Winter is my all-time favorite season…. and I do get a annoyed with people who are always complaining about the snow and the cold.   This winter has been pretty disappointing so far because even though it’s been cold (colder than normal by some reports) there’s been relatively little snow or ice.  There have been many warm-ups. So when we get a trace of snow – usually by the next day the temps have warmed, or it rains and the snow is gone.  Well, finally that past two weeks we had some actual measurable snow ending with 6+ inches on the ground by Tuesday morning last week.  Of course Thursday saw temps rise into the 40’s(F) and then Friday and Saturday and today saw temps between 60-70 degrees(F).    So needless to say, all that beautiful snow is all gone.  But…on the positive side… I was finally able to get out and about for some winter shots while the snow was here.   A few which may be used for my Christmas/holiday cards this year.  So since these may be the only snow shot’s I get this year I hope you enjoy them.   Which would be your favorite to see on a Christmas card?

(p.s. after you click play on the video – scroll back up and click on the first image you will be able to see larger versions while the music is playing)

Naturally I have to have a “soundtrack” for these images and my thoughts on Winter so here is “Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind” – words by William Shakespeare and music By John Rutter.  Performed by Julie Gaulke and Simone Lo Castro.

Blow, blow, thou winter wind
Thou art not so unkind
As man’s ingratitude;
Thy tooth is not so keen,
Because thou art not seen,
Although thy breath be rude.

Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly:
Most freindship if feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then heigh-ho, the holly!
This life is most jolly.

Freeze, freeze thou bitter sky,
That does not bite so nigh
As benefits forgot:
Though thou the waters warp,
Thy sting is not so sharp
As a friend remembered not.
Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly:
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then heigh-ho, the holly!
This life is most jolly.

….on never taking another photograph….

So, here’s the truth. I like to create. It’s no secret that I have no desire to be a professional photographer. Wedding, party’s, people, journalism, marketing, or industrial work is just not my “thang”. And if the truth be know I may never need to take another photograph as long as I live. As long as I have a computer and I strip down, tear apart, reassemble and create new things from the images I’ve already taken there really is not reason to take another photograph. As you already know I call my process “visual glossolalia”. It’s a term I’ve stuck to for years now and still best describes (at least in my mind) my process for my creations.

Here is a recent photograph. An abstract look at a broken down sign from an abandoned gas station. I called it BROKEN LANDSCAPE. Pretty straight forward.

Broken Landscape smlr

But then what happens when I start taking the image apart and reapplying it on a blank digital canvas. Well here are two of the results. I’ve printed these on metal and they look very nice together.  The dark image is titled NIGHT VISIONS and the light one is titled THE MORNING AFTER.

Again these two images both came from the one photograph. And there is still more I could do with that including a completely different design which I may do at some later point. So do I really need to take any more photos? I could actually just sell my camera and just create new things from my catalog of thousands of photographs. At any rate. Hope you enjoy these.

…on Elia Kazan….

A great documentary about the man behind the camera and behind the typewriter. For Years I have been a fan of Elia Kazan’s films: AMERICA AMERICA, ON THE WATERFRONT, BABY DOLL, FACE IN THE CROWD, BOOMERANG, PANIC IN THE STREETS and EAST OF EDEN (just to name a few of my personal favorites). Enjoy this enlightening and inspiring documentary about a complex creative writer/director.