As many of you know, T Lavitz, my friend and former bandmate, died unexpectedly on Oct. 7 2010. I have been thinking a lot about T since then, running through experiences of so many times and conversations in my mind as people do about others, but with both a disbelief and poignancy that there won’t be any more.
Rod Morgenstein told be about a tribute that Derek Sherinian was putting together to T that will be published in Keyboard magazine that we could possibly contribute to. I found it very difficult to put my thoughts into words. I didn’t want to simplify T, or my relationship to him. But I really wanted to say something, so this is what I wrote:
“I met T at a small bar near Miami over 30 years ago. Rod had heard him at the University of Miami and recommended him as a possibility for the band, so we went and heard him play. It was mainly Miami ‘jazz club’ music of the day, but he shined through it. He sounded great, and was so enthusiastic and something just felt really right about him being in the band even from that first night.
We all became close friends over the years sharing so many experiences together as bands do, but T and I especially spent a lot of time together back then. We were both very social and liked meeting new people and just exploring the world and finding interesting situations. I’m sure it has been said by many, but T was someone who could just light people up, they would be very glad to see him and be around him. I include myself in that group, and even years after the band broke up and I would see him with Jazz is Dead or the re-formed Dregs, it was just fun and natural, as if we simply picked up from the last moment.
But I want to go back and point out how I felt when I heard a couple of parts on the first album that he played with the band on “Dregs of the Earth”. The really short organ solo on “Twigg’s Approved” just sent me into a spin and still does with its perfect touch and note choices. There was so much feel beneath his hands on an organ. Of course, the other tune was “I’m Freaking out”. That was really a feature for T and again, the first time I heard it, it just killed (and still does). It really captures him as a musician. There is a section in the middle with the electric piano sound which I loved hearing and playing at the same time because it felt like it was almost just him and me for that whole section. I felt proud of him and proud to be in a band with him. His blend of jazz and rock organ and everything else simply has a power and brightness and happiness to it that just comes out through the notes. From then there were many, many notes played and heard and life stories I will value forever. There is something in every song. It is weird, even though I haven’t spent nearly enough time with T in the last number of years, his untimely death has ripped a part of the past out of the present and it leaves a huge hole. I’ll always see and feel T the man in my mind, by hearing the music we still have from him.”
Here is an obituary with some sweet comments about T in the guestbook link. A friend has also created a Facebook group, both of which are worth checking out. I have also found lots of great videos of T on YouTube. And Rod Morgenstein posted the beautiful eulogy he gave at T’s memorial service.
I think all these things are good for us…
A german film made in 2006 with some excellent acting, story, and score. It is always refreshing to come across something that is just not stupid in it design and aspirations. This is a complex movie that highlights some complicated emotional situations that can take place as a result of crazy external circumstances. It takes place 4 years before the unification of Germany (1985) which already seems like ancient times. I had not explored the meaning of what it must have been like living in West Germany during what I consider ‘modern’ times…anyway, it is basically a suspenseful drama so watch it if you are in a thoughtful mood. And did I mention I really liked the score?
I wouldn’t say Factotum is a great movie, though I did watch it in all its depressing glory. I had a fascination with Charles Bukowski in the late seventies and early 80′s. He seems a little less interesting to me now…but the score to this movie is just great (and they are his lyrics actually). I had never heard of her but Kristin Asbjørnsen wrote it:
Is anybody stupid enough to believe this crap:
“Hit Song Science™ provides immediate feedback on your song´s potential for commercial success and instant legitimization in the market for high-scoring music.
Do you want help choosing the best channels and markets for your music and which of your songs have the best chance for success?
The Music Universe™ helps you understand the hit potential of your songs within different markets and niches, and includes targeted promotional features to help your music gain visibility with audiences who already like your sound.”
Oh wait, yeah…this could actually work on that bunch of mindless drones that actually buys American Idol cd’s…or fans of ‘modern’ country music. What’s really weird is that I actually DO believe it is possible to analyze and pattern match songs against previous hit song drivel. I mean Clive Davis among others could do it… Click “here” to barf.
Oh, and just to add to the list of really stupid things I’ve seen on the web lately, this one is way at the top. This comes from a CBS ‘news’ site, what a freaking joke. You have have to watch a really stupid ad promoting alcoholism (fitting somehow) but after that you get get to hear “Kim Kardashian – Reality TV Star” (BTW I did NOT make that up). The byline reads:
“in a revealing interview with CBSNews.com, ultra-famous reality TV star (my emphasis) Kim Kardashian discusses, among other things, her new turn in a special summer Nivea challenge to help fight against cellulite.”
I feel kind of sorry for her as a human being, this is just not right, and she is obviously clueless. And after all, she is leading the fight against cellulite, having suffered with it herself…gad…I cannot believe I am putting this here, but here’s the link.
A Couple of years ago I read Michael Pollan’s Omnivores Dilemma and it really affected me. Anytime there are strong opinions, there will be strong arguments made. Still, I can’t help but this one is correct. In my experience, although everyone is affected deeply by the food industry, this is a topic most people are way too busy to think about and most people I broach the topic to are ‘fine’ with the status quo.
Now for those of you who have lost your attention span for reading anything more than two minutes long on a web page, there is a movie(!) about this important topic.
I watched the 2007 Documentary “Les Paul: Chasing Sound”. It was really great and I highly recommend it. Actually for anyone, it is a very interesting and inspiring story. I had not heard some of the very innovative music he has done. And he was over ninety in this documentary….gad…
The other awesome thing about this is that, I simply stumbled on it while searching the Netflix library, then said add it to my “instant’ queue. There it was…simple as that. The TV is a terrible place to browse shows, so you still have to use Netflix, but there site is not bad. I’m impressed at how simple it is.
So with the fascination of watching a train wreck live, I watched this show. Fortunately, I could Tivo it so I could fast forward…but OMFG the garbage!. This is like when the terms ‘moral’ and ‘ethics’ were co-opted by raving lunatics. American Music? stupid. The best act was a 53 year old Scottish woman. Annie Lennox is great, and I have to ask..well…how many of the so-called artists on stage will have a career when they are 53? Check out these ‘totally awesome’, freakin’, so-called AMERICAN MUSIC performers:
And that is who represents ‘Amercian Music’ in 2008???? I won’t even wast the typing time for the so-called winners..though I do love the fact that Alvin and the Chipmunks are the first listed. Good grief. It is as if the so called music industry is nothing but American Idol participants…er…wait, I think that is true. I am going back in my cave now…
Watched the 2005 documentary movie, ‘Why We Fight’ the other day. Below is link to the home page which has a video playing of Eisenhower’s farewell speech, which I find fascinating. The speech really takes you back to what seems like ancient times, though it was less than 50 years ago. The weird thing is how relevant it is today. The movie is worth watching to get a view into how our Defense Department actually works.
The wikipedia ‘review’ here…the title comes from a series of propaganda films that Frank Capra did for the US government during WW II to tell American Soldiers the ‘reasons’ for them being in the war. All very interesting stuff…
Having played around with Grails, I think it is a suitable development and deployment technology choice, especially for java shops. It seems to be gaining traction and with the endorsement of Rob Johnson framed in the context of his companies acquisition of G2One. His explanation of why it makes sense is here and is very succinct and articulate. It seems like there will be lots of growth. All the goodness of RoR with extra power and leverage when you need it. Having gone through working with Hibernate around the transition from Hibernate 1 to Hibernate 2 and sticking with it (the current is V3.4) I really like how Grails lets you just not worry about it…of course, like anything good technically, you can get down into it easily if you want to. They just make it easy to avoid the temptation. I am working on a web app that will use Grails and also expose services accessible for the iPhone. I’ll post more on that later…
Ok, this has to be one of the weirdest movies I have ever seen. Only for people who are seriously interested in understanding pop culture and derangement and mental illness at the same time. It is very hard to watch, yet compels you until the end. Watch it if you really like off-kilter movies and documentaries. If you get far enough to see it, I highly suggest the viewing the extras for more context. Much better and more moving and educational than any of those intelligence erasing reality shows that everyone seems to smoke like crack. Here is an excerpt from the official site:
“As an artist suffering from manic depression with delusions of grandeur, Daniel Johnston’s wild fluctuations, numerous downward spirals, and periodic respites are exposed in this deeply moving documentary.
As a reclusive teenager growing up in New Cumberland, VA, Johnston began showing signs of unusual artistic ability at an early age. He religiously recorded his thoughts and stories onto cassette tapes, directed intuitive Super- 8 films starring himself in multiple roles ala Peter Sellers, and created expressive comic book-style drawings and animation in the basement of his family’s home. However, in the eyes of his fundamentalist Christian family, Daniel simply wasn’t contributing to society in a useful or productive way. After running off on a moped and joining a carnival, he landed in Austin, Texas, broke and alone. It was there he began to hone his musical career, recording folk songs on a series of homemade, lo-fi cassettes, which Daniel handed out free to fans, friends and journalists in the early 80s. With the help of a timely break and the thriving Austin music scene, Daniel managed to secure a brief spotlight on MTV making him a minor celebrity. But just as he was beginning to make a name for himself, his inner demons began to surface and Daniel’s ongoing struggle with manic depression became more and more evident in his songs and drawings.”
Having been a long time fan of Melville via the novellas Bartleby the Scrivener (online here) and Billy Budd (online here), I finally read Moby Dick and now I know why the book is so famous. I am not even going to try and write a review, there are many on the web, but it deservedly fits in the pantheon of great books. Aside from the character development, plot, blending of humor and seriousness, mastery of the use of language, and so forth(!), a side effect of reading the book is an understanding of the whaling industry in America in the late 1800′s from the viewpoint of a sailor.Which brings me to my next point…
There used to be a way of deriding a certain sensibility using the phrase “Save the Whales” to get everyone to laugh at the perceived quixotic nature of the pursuit. (The topic of soundbite derision will have to be another post, one my major peeves) But I came across an article in the New York Times about the current plight of the right whale off the coast of the southern US as it relates to shipping in the area. A sample from the article:
Ships are one of the two leading causes of unnatural death among right whales, and scientists have warned that the unnatural death of even one breeding female has the potential to tip the species toward extinction. From 2002 to 2006, there were 17 confirmed deaths by ship strike, at least six involving adult females.In an effort to stop the fatalities, the National Marine Fisheries Service has tried to impose speed limits on ships within 30 miles of port. But the White House has delayed approval of the rule, which is opposed by some shipping companies. The White House Office of Management and Budget is supposed to review federal agencies’ rule proposals within 90 days, with an optional 30-day extension. In the case of the right whale ship strike rule, it has been more than a year.
Click here to read the full article. The Save the Whales Again! site also has some things that are worth reading should you decide to be informed. Whale hunters are behaving in a truly inhuman and inhumane way towards these incredible creatures. And only for greed…