The Recording Cabinet of…

I was reading about Elfo Recording Studio. Well, not exactly reading about it but saw the above-the-fold pic of the exterior at Dezeen in my Googlefeed and liked it, a raucous but curiously comforting jumble, like several 1960s elementary school kindergartens cut up and reboxed. Comforting in the way that public school was comforting when you didn’t belong to that school and were just loitering in the flat land no financing for play equipment let’s just tear out all the trees and call it a day playground.

I’ve not a clue who is the architect, Romolo Stanco, but he designed this building.

Clicking on the post at Dezeen, the below-the-fold pics appear and, to tell you the truth, as best as I can see from these pics, what pops to my mind is what this will look like in five short years and it’s likely not to be very pretty.

Recording studios seem kin to H.o.p.’s play doh sculpting clay. Add air and in five years it all falls apart regardless–but studios aren’t just showpieces of course, they get serious-hard wear and tear and too shortly tend to crumble if not attended to with fanatical fastidiousness and Better Homes and Gardens building materials and carpentry of long bygone eras. At first it’s just like, “Oh, look, Auntie Idyllopus’ sleeve is coming off her shirt, but let’s be polite and ignore it,” then when you next see her it’s, “Poor Auntie Idyllopus, her clothes inside out, trailing the bathroom around on the vestigial heel of her shoe. Whatever happened?”

Then I go visit Elfostudio’s website and…I I I, well…I…well….uhm…how much money have they poured into the building and they have a crappy, free Bravenet hit counter and a BRAVENET GUEST BOOK?

Did they blow all their money on the architect and have none left for good web design??

Then ’tis occurs to me that perhaps the studio’s interior design is intended to court now this senile Auntie Idyllopus ambiance in an effort to camouflage the then later decay which will be undoubtedly encouraged by lack of custodial care.

I don’t know anything about Elfo. Keep that in mind. It’s probably a great place and when I’m dust on the wind the studio will be an Italian National Treasure or something, still standing strong, a testament to the vitality of what will by then be styled Callegari Acoustic Baroque.

You see, the client was Alberto Callegari.

I look up Alberto Callegari and it all begins to make some sense to me.

And maybe just a bit of a nod to this.

Dear Callegari. I love the exterior of your recording studio. Please be kind to it and bless it with a shade nicer website.

Or not. I don’t care. OK? I like the building’s exterior. I’ve not a clue what it sounds like. I don’t care what it sounds like. I was just, “Look, visitors to my blog, pretty picture of Elfo at Dezeen.” And then, “Oh, wow, Bravenet?? All that money for an architect and Elfo has Bravenet message boards and counters?” And then I was, “Wow, band in diapers”, and finally was thinking your studio shouldn’t be named Elfo but The Recording Cabinet of Callegari. That’s all. Good luck.

Creative Loafing write up on Heston

Nice little write up on Heston in this week’s Creative Loafing. Audio included is “Brand New U”. If you’re interested in learning a bit more about this up-and-coming West Indian soul artist Marty’s been recording the past few years, head over and read and have a listen. Nice guy and is out there working hard spreading the music around. He’s doing a Bob Marley tribute with Julie Dexter (Marty worked on her last album) this coming Saturday at Sugarhill.

“Brand New U” features Sasha on guitar, another artist Marty has spent a good amount of time recording. Raphael is on percussion. Julius Speed plays Rhodes. The Freeman Brothers play horns.

What they did opening for Todd Rundgren

I wasn’t at the Variety Playhouse yesterday, where Marty was playing, but I’m still going to try to provide a basic description of the scene, via his telling of it.

Not only was I not at the Variety Playhouse, I didn’t do my yoga yesterday. It’s the first time in the nearly seven weeks since I started doing the yoga that I didn’t do it. The entire household woke up sick…not dreadfully sick (apart from a bit of fever, and congestion and upset stomach) but lay you out on the futon-sofa sick where someone asks you to do something and your mind checks out your body to see if it will comply but the body doesn’t respond and your mind decides its only option is to go back to sleep. Except for Marty. He wasn’t feeling top form but he managed to move. But then he’d been invited by Clay Harper to play in his band opening up for Todd Rundgren (that last name is a real problem for a dyslexic) and had to be at the Variety Playhouse. Noises were made about H.o.p. and me going to the show but then Thursday morning we woke up sick and the next thing I knew (for all intents and purposes, it having been a waste of a day here) Marty was calling me to tell me the show was over.

So, Clay Harper (singing), Marty (Wurlitzer), Reggie (drums–kick, snare, hi hat), Jimmy Cobb (bass) and Ken Watt (trumpet and flugelhorn) set up on the stage, in a straight line across it. And there they sat in their folding chairs. All the way across the stage. Everyone settled into their folding chairs. Sandra Hall was there too, singing, and had her own folding chair. And there was a hiphop dancer and their MC, a Jamaican guy by the name of Fire. They had their own folding chairs too and were on stage through the entire show but they were sometimes released from their folding chairs whereas everyone else stayed put.

What they did.

They played stripped down versions of Clay’s songs interspersed with tapes from telephone messages (responses to a personal ad Clay had placed) and a long rant from a mail man.

Marty couldn’t tell what the mail man’s rant was as he couldn’t hear it but his cue was, “There’s going to be a revolution.”

They started with the phone messages. The musicians sat through the entire show. Every time the tapes ran the stage went dark.

“It wasn’t quite the right crowd for this show,” Marty says, “but the people that got it enjoyed it.”

They were almost booed off the stage once. Marty says it was his fault, that he got the tempo wrong on one song and the song after it was ultra slow and no one wanted two slow songs in a row. But they salvaged it all and apparently the presentation, very stripped down, went very well. The idea was they play the least they could play and have it still be music.

They did “Roly Poly” and I wish I’d been there to hear it. I love “Roly Poly”. They did “Crazy”. These are all some great songs of Clay’s that were recorded back in the 90’s when he still had his Casino studio and was producing vinyl singles of his stuff and wrapping them up in fun covers. Marty was in on those sessions. And they performed some other tunes from other CDs of Clay’s. Old Ray, Kid’s on the Weekend, Main Street, Three Fingers. A 40 minute show that turned into 30 minutes as their start time had been pushed back from 8:00 to 8:10.

Some people were yelling for older songs that they didn’t do.

It was the first time they’d played together in eleven years and Marty said it was outstanding. I had some question, hearing that the show was interspersed with phone messages, which seemed rather outdated to me, but Marty says it worked very well and was instead outrageous, hilarious and crazy.

By the way, Marty says Todd Rundgren was incredible.

H.o.p. is still quite not back to normal (neither am I). He’s laid out on the futon and last I checked he’s still got a low fever and his eyes are still red (so are mine) but he’s better than he was yesterday. Yesterday he was curled up on one corner of the futon. I was unable to find the memory card for his camera and he wasn’t even moaning and groaning over the empty memory card slot in his camera, he just lay there, holding his camera, eyes glazed and vaguely focused on the television. Hardly a word from him, not even of complaint. Last night, beginning to feel a little better, he cheerily said, “When we feel better we’ll have a party, right?” Today he is stretched out full on the futon and holding his camera and occasionally clicking a photo (I found the memory card) and occasionally going through a coughing spell. I just took him some Tylenol. He was very cheery about the Tylenol.

Damn, I want to hear “Roly Poly” now. Where are those singles?

The Heard Museum

Day 10. We went to the Heard Museum.

David Hannan's "Untitled (the hunt/hunted)", Heard Museum, Phoenix
Untitled (the hunter/hunted) by David Hannan b. 1971
Untitled (the hunt/hunted), 2006-2007
Mixed media installation

Metis artist David Hannan works with taxidermy-form sculptures to explore aspects of union, adaptation and metamorphosis. Hannan’s taxidermy hybrids present tension and beauty in the merging of animals into sculptures. Many of the themes in Hannan’s art derive from his Aboriginal heritage, particularly his engagement with history and notions of territory. His work uses taxidermy forms to make transformational sculptures that evoke emotional responses of fear, endearment and aggression. Traditionally, taxidermy forms have been used as the basis of a hunter’s trophy, here the skin of an animal is stretched over the form to be preserved. In Hannan’s work however, instead of using animal skin, he uses packing tape to wrap and produce new species.
–from All Creatures at Gallery 101, Ottawa, Ontario, 2006

Heard Museum, Life In A Cold Place Exhibit, 2008
Heard Museum, Life in a Cold Place Exhibit, Arctic Art from the Albrecht Collection.
Custodian sweeping.

Then that evening we enjoyed dinner at The Cheesecake Factory with my parents.

Art and Those Pesky Hands and Feet

Some doctors got themselves all in a hubbub over finding what they believe is nearly incontrovertable evidence that Raphael used polydactyl models.

Below is a detail from Raphael’s La Belle Jardinere. Doctors say the infant shows polydactylism.

I think artists call this foreshortening. And with some people that part of the foot sticks out more when standing than the pinky toe.

This is all remarkably like when celeb blogs go on about Ophrah’s sixth toe (non existent) or Kate Hudson’s sixth toe but as you can see she does not have six toes.

But physicians get extra credibility by discussing in terms like postaxial polydactyly of type A and hypothesizing on Raphael recruiting models from families who exhibit this autosomal dominant trait with variable expressivity.

Some physicians also claimed that the Pope’s right hand, in Raphael’s La Madonna Sistina, shows six fingers.

I think artists call this sixth finger the palm of the hand.

My brain screamed "NOO, I'M MUSH, DON'T DO THIS TO ME!" all the while

Waited all day yesterday for a UPS shipment for Marty but then he realized it was coming in today instead so here I wait for UPS to knock at the window.

I started using the Flash Media Player via Dreamhost for displaying QT to FLV video on the blogs because Youtube can be pretty funky, videos not playing very smoothly, indeed so roughly that they have the appearance of dropping stretches of frames. (I already related the other night how Dreamhost’s conversion utility was behaving very badly so I’m doing the QT to FLV myself in QT).

BUT! Yes, but. There was no way to do a preview image in the Flash player and that was giving the blogs (H.o.p.’s and mine) the appearance of having big black gateways to nothingness instead of RICH MEDIA CONTENT!

So, yesterday I began my journey to previews via this nifty plug-in.

Well, well, I labored quite a while and couldn’t get previews to work, despite the fact my code was fine.

Turns out that you can use an absolute url for the movies (I have them located outside the blog folders since the movies are serving multiple blogs) but you must have a relative url for the previews, it seems. So, success, finally got that figured out. Moved the preview images inside the WordPress folders and am doing relatives urls as the base url is automatically appended to preview images in this plug-in.

But wait! I discovered that on the category and archive pages and in searches the flash videos were appearing as code. So, I looked through the forum and fortunately this issue had been covered. I found the couple of files in each theme in which the word “excerpt” needed to be replaced with “post” and did that and got both blogs looking right again.

No, wait! Other things were going on in the meanwhile where I had to update WordPress to its most recent release, which meant also working on H.o.p.’s category template as it hasn’t liked the most recent WordPress updates, but I had a fix for it and uploaded that.

But wait! I realized posts were now disappearing in H.o.p.’s blog. They couldn’t be reached via categories or archives or searches. They were THERE but were simply gone. Panic time! I backtracked in my browser and did a duplicate post of one I’d just made which was one of the posts that had disappeared. Now TWO posts were appearing, both the original and the duplicate. So I removed one of them. And both disappeared. I did this several times over. The theme we were using on H.o.p.’s blog hadn’t appreciated, apparently, my changing “excerpt” to “post” because this issue involved archives, searches and categories.

Forget it. H.o.p. loved that theme (Mistylook, the appearance of which we’d modified according to his exact specifications) but it was time to change.

I spent hours last night trying out themes. Seeking them out. Downloading. Unzipping. Loading them up. Almost all of them had the same issues with the plug-in where you would need to change “excerpt” to “post” but I didn’t see any posts being dropped at least. They were all present. Or so it seemed.

We also didn’t like the themes, not even after my changing the appearance of them. None of them were working for us. They were ugly and I didn’t feel like doing hours and hours of work modifying css to create a whole new theme essentially. I just wanted to do simple mods like changing colors and images. I didn’t want to have to redo type and spatial orientations.

Finally tried the Artsemerging theme and WONDERFUL it worked straight out of the box with the plug-in. I modified the appearance (images and just a little CSS) and H.o.p.’s blog is back in order.

P.S. DAMN IT! I WAS WRONG. I’m now losing posts in my blog, having changed “excerpt” to “post”. Damn, damn, damn, damn! I didn’t notice it last night.

I’m not working on that today. Will face that tomorrow.

P.P.S. My brain decided it had to face the problem. And VOILA a light clicked. I changed my archives and search php files back to what they originally were, restoring “excerpt” where I’d replaced with “post” (which was the fix supplied in the forum but wasn’t working well for Veryplaintext or Mistylook themes, which weren’t displaying the full post with the change and were dropping posts) and when I have Flash videos to display I will write an OPTIONAL EXCERPT (a summary), thus bypassing the problem. You see, excerpts strip away all coding, which was why it was showing the coding for the flash player. But changing from excerpt to post in the archives and search php files resulted in posts being dropped rather than full posts being displayed in Veryplaintest and Mistylook.

We like H.o.p.’s new theme so will leave that as it is. It’s already configured to display full posts rather than excerpts, and though excerpts are nice, well, it’s not so bad to have H.o.p.’s blog displaying full posts in categories, archives etc.

Told you my brain is mush. I should have thought of this last night.

Monteverdi's Orfeo

How I came across Marilia Vargas was looking up Monteverdi’s “Orfeo” at Youtube.

“Mom, look up some opera for me,” H.o.p. said. He meant something like Mozart’s “Requiem” but he’s never seen Ponnelle’s 1978 staging of “Orfeo”.

Instead I found clips from the Jordi Savall/Brian Large 2002 production. The opening is promising…

Marilia Vargas as a nymph blessing the marriage of Orpheus and Eurydice…

I love Vargas! I believe her. When she turns and retires I want to follow off the stage into that mythic realm, but she conveys the impossibility of doing so, that she’s a nymph…and as nymph originally meant bride, it is peculiarly right that she should leave us as she does, as if the nature of the bride, Eurydice, preceding Eurydice into the Underworld, abiding fate acting unconscious of itself as is sung into being the fearsome cloud which causes the earth to quake and will destroy the happiness of Orpheus and Eurydice, first with the heel-nipping snake when their happiness was so great (and perhaps self-obsessed) that tempering and humiliation were inescapable, and second when Orpheus broke the law, losing Eurydice absolutely…

Or so we are told in this story that purports to do with Orpheus’ loss of his wife and his attempt to revive her, when the Orphics believed the physical body a tomb to the soul, its Titanic nature preventing one from attaining Elysium, and strove to escape from the wheel of reincarnation, drinking deep of the waters of memory.

Bees, for the Orphics, symbolized souls swarming toward the divine unity, and Eurydice was caught by the snake when (seemingly) attempting to escape the bee-keeper.

And what about that snake?

But, never mind. We all suffer loss and can relate to the story at face value. The hero, Orpheus, suffers along with us, and, incredibly, with his song, charms death into giving him a second chance at happiness with Eurydice, an unparalleled victory , only to then forget compliance with the single demand set upon him.

There is some correspondence with the tale of Lot, though it is his wife who is saddled with the sin of looking back and throughout history has been designed as bitter, contemptible, unthankful, undisciplined.

So people are told to not reflect on the past, to not hold too tightly, to look ahead and disdain loss.

If I remember correctly, Jean Cocteau had Orpheus turn intentionally.

* * * * * * *

I’ve not seen Ponnelle’s “Orfeo”, except for several stunning clips about 15 years ago on a VHS recording, and since then I’ve longed for a copy. As I find it is now available on DVD, I have put it in my wish list and hope to buy it soon. Wouldn’t mind getting a copy of the Savall either.

Just Became Aware of Marilia Vargas This Morning…

Marilia Vargas singing Villa Lobos’ Bachianas Brasilerias No. 5. To listen is to breathe more deeply, it is that affecting. Vargas’ voice strikes me as alternative, faithful yet modern, and I’m not even sure yet how so. Something in her expressiveness that is as open to the concert hall as the corner food mart, as if she wants that voice to leap over the seats to the street, bypassing the turgid conceits of the classical/pop bin.

Marilia Vargas sings “Et Incarnatus Est” from Mozart’s Mass in C Minor. An unabashed, unembarrassed joyous marriage of the sacred and mundane in this beautiful, even mesmerizing, performance by Vargas. And though I feel compelled to say that the wonderful performance makes up for the poor quality of the audience member recording, I actually enjoyed it just as it is.

Vargas’ styling and sense of presence make me feel as though I’m in Mozart’s head listening as he realized the music, that this is how it came to him, this is how he meant it to be. This is how it was before performed.