Friday, June 24, 2016

MADRIGAL MAGIC: THE BRITON ENSEMBLE


ALYSSA GALE OF THE BRITON ENSEMBLE

This week's arts and culture column is on a merry olde ensemble that sings madrigals.

Here's how it begins:

A few Sundays ago, I made my way toward Altadena, north of Pasadena. The neighborhood is lovely: up against the mountains, up above the city, quiet.

The homes were large, graceful and charmingly landscaped.

When I arrived, a woman in a medieval wench costume with a gigantic bosom and a feather wreath in her hair was sitting cross-legged in the driveway. “Welcome!” she said brightly — and I did feel welcome, right away.

Inside I felt as if I’d stepped onto the extras lot of the Errol Flynn “Three Musketeers” shoot. There were more wenches, in tightly-cinched corset-style bodices and long full skirts. There were men in leather jerkins, harlequin-style pantaloons, striped stockings and fawn-colored boots. Fringed, ruffled, medallioned — sporting an astonishing array of feather-bedecked headgear, the whole merry group toasted with another with tankards of what could only be mead.

This was The Briton Ensemble, whose work has been described by “Splash Magazine” as “madrigal magic.”


READ THE WHOLE PIECE HERE.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

TRAVELS IN NEW ENGLAND

 
 
 

The above pix are from in and around the greenhouse, gardens and lily pond at Smith College in Northampton, MA.


 
Northampton has a wonderful, miles-long bike path. This was taken from a bridge off Main St. above the Connecticut River. My sister Little Meddy and I were out taking the air at dusk.




Above is a Japanese maple and below a white peony, both from my cousin Dickie's back yard on Ocean Boulevard in Rye, NH, at the magic hour.


Friday, June 17, 2016

AARON LIPSTADT: URBAN CYCLIST




This week's arts and culture column is on a personal friend of mine: Mr. Aaron Lipstadt, cylist extraordinaire.

Here's how the piece begins:

Aaron Lipstadt is 63, a TV director and a resident of Hollywood’s Bronson Canyon.

He also rides his bicycle just about everywhere.

Recently, he sat down at an Echo Park café and told how he came to his passion.

“I grew up in small-town Connecticut. My friends lived a mile, two miles away, so I’d ride my bike over. Then I went to college in Chicago during the ‘70s bike boom. I took my bike down to Kentucky one weekend and rode the back roads for three days. It was kind of the signal adventure of my life.

“Mapped it out: Lexington to Louisville. Camped. Asked this couple if I could pitch my tent in their yard. In the middle of the night I was almost blown away by a tornado. Ran across the field to their house. Saw the power go out. Their son came out and let me sleep in his truck. The next morning was beautiful. Clear, wind still blowing. The family invited me to breakfast. Made a fire. Dried my stuff. I was 20 or so. That hooked me on biking. I understood that cycling was an adventure.” By the early ‘80s, he and his wife Julia were living in Los Angeles.

“In the late 90’s, I went on the AIDS ride, San Francisco to L.A... 


READ THE WHOLE PIECE HERE. 


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

ORLANDO: IF ONE IS TRULY PRO-LIFE, EMBRACE A BAN ON ASSAULT RIFLES




CATALPA TREE

Along with all people of decency, love and goodwill, I am sickened and shaken by the recent massacre in Orlando. I'm especially sickened that we allow our citizens to purchase assault rifles.

Here's a spot-on piece by Adam Gopnik of The New Yorker who, to his great credit, has written consistently and eloquently of the insanity of our permissive gun laws.

A priest friend sent the below piece along yesterday.

ORLANDO, ORLANDO WE LOVE YOU

Today I write with a heavy heart arising from the tragedy which occurred in the early morning hours yesterday at a Gay, Lesbian, Transgender night club in Orlando, our neighbor to the east. Yesterday, the best I could muster was to send these words by text message to my brother, Bishop John Noonan, bishop of Orlando: “John, I am so sorry. With love to and for all.” Today with a new dawn, I once again have some thoughts which I wish to share.

Our founding parents had no knowledge of assault rifles which are intended to be weapons of mass destruction. In crafting the second amendment to the Constitution which I affirm, they thought only of the most awkward of pistols and heavy shotguns. I suspect they are turning in their graves if they can but glimpse at what their words now protect. It is long past time to ban the sale of all assault weapons whose use should be available only to the armed forces. If one is truly pro-life, then embrace this issue also and work for the elimination of sales to those who would turn them on innocents.

Second, sadly it is religion, including our own, which targets, mostly verbally, and also often breeds contempt for gays, lesbians and transgender people. Attacks today on LGBT men and women often plant the seed of contempt, then hatred, which can ultimately lead to violence. Those women and men who were mowed down early yesterday morning were all made in the image and likeness of God. We teach that. We should believe that. We must stand for that. Without yet knowing who perpetrated the PULSE mass murders, when I saw the Imam come forward at a press conference yesterday morning, I knew that somewhere in the story there would be a search to find religious roots. While deranged people do senseless things, all of us observe, judge and act from some kind of religious background. Singling out people for victimization because of their religion, their sexual orientation, their nationality must be offensive to God’s ears. It has to stop also.

Third, responding by barring people of Muslim only faith from entering the country solely because of their stated faith until they can be checked out is un-American, even in these most challenging of times and situations. There are as many good, peace loving and God fearing Muslims to be found as Catholics or Methodists or Mormons or Seventh Day Adventists. The devil and devilish intent escape no religious iteration.

Will we ever learn? I hope so but until the above three points are taken seriously by society, sadly, tragically, we can expect more Orlandos. May the souls of those faithful departed who met their God early Sunday morning rest in peace, and those recovering from deep wounds heal, help and hope.

+ Bishop Robert Lynch, St. Petersburg





ID, ANYONE?


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

DOGWOOD




I think it's official--my photo-taking now focuses exclusively on flowers. I like to take fifty or sixty shots of the same small area of blooms. And I truly believe my little camera is magic. The flowers know I love them and thus reveal themselves.

These are of a single dogwood tree on the grounds of Portsmouth (RI) Abbey, which overlooks the ocean, where I spent last weekend.












 





Sunday, June 12, 2016

DOMESTIC SCENES: THE ART OF RAMIRO GOMEZ



Hello people, I'm in Portsmouth, RI!

This week's arts and culture piece is about L.A. artist Ramiro Gomez.

Here's how it begins:

Marta was the cleaning lady of the woman who owned the house in Silver Lake — my roommate — where I lived from 2010 to 2014. Every other Wednesday, Marta arrived at noon and stayed until 8 p.m.

I myself have never had a cleaning lady. Even though Marta was younger than me, she triggered all the unresolved guilt and sorrow and pride I had for my own mother, who also never had a cleaning lady (that was with eight kids), for my bricklayer father and for the fact that I escaped the blue-collar life for the writing life.

Marta didn’t clean my little wing (bedroom/office and bathroom), but the whole time she was there I felt I should be asking if I could pitch in. I’d be sitting in my room with the fan on, a glass of iced tea and a basket of fresh figs writing about the Crucifixion while she was out in the blazing sun emptying the mop bucket.

Artist Ramiro Gomez was born in 1968 in San Bernardino to (then) undocumented parents from Mexico. His father drove trucks; his mother was a janitor at the same high school from which she’d graduated.

An introspective kid who showed talent in drawing early on, he adored his grandmother Nina, was “nannied” by his aunts and grandmother and himself frequently babysat for his sisters and cousins.

He won a partial scholarship to Cal Arts...


READ THE WHOLE PIECE HERE.

Monday, June 6, 2016

JUNE SWEET PEAS


Whoa.  I can't believe I grew these dear fragrant sweet peas from seed!

The crop isn't actually that good. Tons of foliage; not a ton of flowers. Still, they were incandescent the other early eve in the vesper light. I could have taken hundreds of pictures of these three small vases of flowers.

I'm thrilled they bloomed before I take off for back East in a few days. My friend Patrick who'll be staying at my place can enjoy them, too.