My Fourth Ukulele

LONDON, UK: I’ve picked up the ukulele again, this time it seems that it might stick a little longer than in times past. The first time I purchased a ukulele was way back in 1999. It was a starter and like many of my purchases, it was a whimsical decision. I don’t recall the influence exactly. I was really into jazz, swing and lindy hop back then.

There was a great little place in the LES ran by two friends of mine, called The Piano Store. As you would guess, it was in the basement of a piano store. The weekly dancing and socializing was a huge part of a young subculture, a fun, sophisticated community which aspired to live out life from 1940s Manhattan through to 1960s Las Vegas. The dance was the center of this, with a small set of cocktail connoisseurs holding up the bar. I would like to think we were the one’s who started the current cocktail culture. In New York we certainly were.

It was on one fabulous night that Casey MacGill played at The Piano Store. The night had a feeling of 1920s speakeasy (before speakeasies were brought back into style), everyone decked out in their retro best, the dance floor smooth and the bar in tiki decor. Casey and his band were the real McCoy. My memory of Casey later that night, meeting him downstairs, drink in one hand and what looked like a beat up ukulele in another. Do not underestimate a beat up uke by the way, the age and styling were more simple in the 1920s and 1930s, but the sound hasn’t changed, and the price will attest to that. Continue reading “My Fourth Ukulele”

Art Impersonating Art: Gerard Byrne

LONDON, UK: While visiting the Whitechapel Gallery in London’s East End I was introduced to the work of artist Gerard Byrne, whose work impressed me enough to do a bit of post-viewing research. Simple enough, the Whitechapel Gallery describes Byrne as:

“Renowned for his films installations which re-enact conversations from specific historic moments, Irish artist Gerard Byrne’s (b. 1969) work explores the way we understand the present through revisiting the past.”

Continue reading “Art Impersonating Art: Gerard Byrne”

Notes From “Who Owns the Future?” An Evening with Jaron Lanier

“To my mind an overleveraged unsecured mortgage is exactly the same thing as a pirated music file. It’s somebody’s value that’s been copied many times to give benefit to some distant party. In the case of the music files, it’s to the benefit of an advertising spy like Google [which monetizes your search history], and in the case of the mortgage, it’s to the benefit of a fund manager somewhere. But in both cases all the risk and the cost is radiated out toward ordinary people and the middle classes—and even worse, the overall economy has shrunk in order to make a few people more.”

LONOND, UK: The stage is set: two chairs, bottles of water, a flute, a guitar an an unnamable instrument yet to be unveiled. The gentleman behind me notices the instruments on stage and comments, “What are those doing up there?” He clearly hasn’t done his pre-reading on the main attraction: Jaron Lanier.

Continue reading “Notes From “Who Owns the Future?” An Evening with Jaron Lanier”