Friday, August 31, 2007

Went home yesterday. My entire family went out to dinner at a delightful Indian restaurant I'd not been to before. First time we'd all been together in well over a year. Was surprisingly fun. Spent the night at my big sister's house. Breakfasted on a tasty glazed cranberry-something muffin & coffee with Margaret on the downtown mall. Charged back to DC.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Been busy working & drinking beer (closed out the neighborhood bar two nights in a row to start the week... wow) for the last little while & for the past month my borrowed neighborhood internet has been very unreliable. No new pix. Starting what should become another fun job this weekend. Whoooo! Played bass in a trance last night for a few hours. Heading home to see my little sister who is home from Florida for the first time in over a year. Crashed on the couch last night & Saturday. The woman on my street I refer to as "my wife" makes me drool, but I have little interest in learning her name because it feels better to have her be my unattainable mystery woman with whom I frequently exchange greetings accompanied by silly smirks. She likes me. Hehe. I think I'm going to make a book for the 41-y/o psychotherapist (looks 30 but is a mom of two college girls!) I met in Georgetown a couple of weekends ago, she was jawdroppingly lovely & terribly sweet in brushing me off. :) Ahh... summertime. Everyone is attractive when they're brown & showing skin. Soon it'll be the time of pale skin, short days, darkness, & too many clothes. A bunch of neighbors have finally been won over by my charming smile & constant presence on the porch & have joined the enormous pool of people who nod, wave, say hi & keep walking... hehehe. Whooo!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Old videos from my phone.

A gorgeous DC weekend. Spent Saturday morning making most of a book (finished it Sunday); first book made since October, when I put a lot of love into one for a fan of the color yellow. Ate & drank the rest of the day away with Emily, Rafal, Meg, Gavin, Kelly, & eventually some others. Columbia Heights, Georgetown & back to the foot of Adams Morgan before stalking down U St for one last beer before bed.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Thomas Michael Corcoran rode off into this morning's sunrise, leaving a plume of dust behind him as his horses kicked hard for the cold north. In search of Maine, a place he claimed to have visited, somewhere towards the edge of the earth, he left with a wagon full of hopes & dreams & everything nice, including sugar & spice (probably even raindrops on roses). Some people who watered, housed, fed, put up with, & loved him over the years met at a Mt Pleasant bar last night for one last round of goodbyes before he assumes the mantle of Moose Layer, or is it Moose Slayer? It's probably one & the same! Anyway, we'll miss you douchebag. Good luck. Send me a postcard & your mailing address.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

This WaPo piece was written to mark the tenth anniversary of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's death. I like it. The original can be found here.
Remembering Nusrat 1948-1997

Long before 9/11 and the subsequent drum beat of a war on terror and talk of a clash of civilizations between Islam and the West, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Pakistan's greatest musical export, sang ecstatically about the Oneness of God and love for humanity.

Muslim, Jew, Christian, Hindu, all people with or without faith who tuned into the power and emotion of his voice were transported to another place, beyond the self-created ghettos of the mind and into a spiritual wonderland of joy and transcendence.

I was first introduced to Nusrat in 1990 by the Pakistani cricket captain, Imran Khan, for whose cancer hospital we did a fund-raising tour of concerts together. Having been born in Lahore and grown up in New York, my musical leanings were the blues and classic rock: John Lee Hooker, Robert Johnson, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles and Pink Floyd. As a result, I felt a little out of place arriving at Lahore's Alhamra arts council carrying a stratocaster and a guitar amp to my first Qawwali rehearsal with the celebrated Nusrat.

He sat onstage, cross legged on a Persian carpet, looking like a Punjabi Buddha, while his qawwali group brought out the harmoniums, tablas, and cups full of Lahori chai. After the traditional greetings of "Salaamualeikum" (peace be upon you) I nervously asked Nusrat what he wanted me to play on the first song "Mustt,Mustt" (lost in you), he replied with a childlike innocence: "do whatever your heart tells you to do". It turned out to be the strongest piece of career and personal advice anyone could've offered me.Nusrat's voice and the songs performed that day and later on the tour had a profound impact on my music.

To modify a Nirvana lyric, his music is "addictive and contagious". The poetry and the melodies opened doors inside my head, which allowed Rumi, Bulleh Shah and Iqbal to enter and coexist with John Lennon, Jimmy Page and John Lee Hooker. Nusrat also helped pave the way for my band, Junoon, to take the risks we did when we married electric guitars to bhangra drum and dhol grooves while chanting traditional sufi texts considered sacred by the orthodox. In fact it was Nusrat who broke the traditional mould of the Qawwali singer, when he collaborated with Peter Gabriel, Michael Brook and Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam.

In one particular conversation I had with him about about his brilliant album "NIGHT SONG" with Michael Brook, he told me that he favored fusion because in the Qur'an it mentioned that God loves diversity, and Nusrat felt the most powerful way to celebrate and express diversity was through music.

Years later,in 1998, when Junoon's song Sayonee raced up the pop charts in India to help us become South Asia's biggest rock band, it was a special poignant moment for me because our album "Azadi (Freedom)" for EMI had been dedicated to the memory of Nusrat who had sadly passed on a year earlier while only 48 and with all the music still inside of him.

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan left behind a universal DNA in his songs, for all people to share and celebrate the yearning, the joy and the timeless message of Oneness. Can music help build the bridge of Unity between East and West?

Nusrat certainly had no doubts.

"On Faith" panelist Salman Ahmad is a Pakistani-born rock star who started the wildly popular South Asian band known as Junoon.

Posted by Salman Ahmad on August 14, 2007 10:41 AM

It's a hopeful view. It's what should be heard in this world, but instead we promote war. Music has long been the pulse of life. For many it still remains the essential ingredient to their life. Not an accessory. Some people are addicted to alcohol, some to crack, some to power, & some to music. Consider that strength. We Are the World, Imagine, & We Shall Overcome all moved millions of hearts & minds. Nothing profound here, just me blathering about crap, but music destroys me every day (in a good way). From Ralph Vaughan Williams' soaring Symphony No. 3 "A Pastoral Symphony" to the occasionally gorgeous & random tunes that Kim K emails me now & then, to the tunes with which I've become comfortable through years of listening, still amazed by bass tones coming in at the right time to achieve a structure, a flow, or a mess, depending on what I'm listening to, that makes my brain swirl. Static pictures don't do that for me. I like moving pictures/film/video & think that when/if I'm actively creative again it'll be in that vein--motion & sound. Words are crap. Photos are kind of crappy too. I sincerely doubt I'll be in DC at this time next year. The idea of living abroad has its claws fully in me. But the world is too big for borders, so maybe just living will allow me to find my way everywhere I need to be. There I am. Here I am. There I will be. Now I will be. Here.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

On a superior August Saturday morning, Audrey gave me a ride in the droptop Bimmer to Alexandria, where we had a distinctly American shopping experience. I snapped digi's as we cruised back along Rte 1. Who knew the Holiday Inn looked so good as a wedge? Later we had a few friends over for the first Demon House Yard BBQ of the summer. It was delightful. Kevin went above & beyond as Master of the Grill, a title he probably had no desire to receive, but his efforts are/were much appreciated. If you made it, thanks for coming! After smoothly wrapping it up at a reasonable 10:30, pool was shot, beer was quaffed, & the many attractive single ladies were ogled at our home away from home bar.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The busy week almost took my voice & has left me hawking delicious pudding from my bronchial region. Yummm!
Ate dinner at Rafal's last night, then went home & slept for four hours, waking up at 1:15 in time to join him & Casey for beer at Shauna's, where she hooked us up once again--one beer on the bill after drinking eight or nine. I heart Shauna. ;)
My street is closed off today... I'm thinking impromptu block party! hehehe.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Monday: Gallery: talked with Bill & looked at exciting new work in progress. Dinner with Craig. Night of delirium (I don't mean beer--I mean hours of non-stop sweaty tossing & turning with nonsensical grunts, moans, & exhalations) attributed to heat exhaustion.
Tuesday: Painted the gallery. Dinner with Alissa, Jeff, & Moe the awesome bulldog.
Wednesday: ? We shall see. I await more good things.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Friday: returned work to painters Martin & Steve & enjoyed my busy gallery day.

Saturday: drove friends to Ballston on my way to Annandale, where I finished Joe's varnishing project, returned home, had a huge Demon Porch plate of pasta, drank beers with Mike (who finally got a good job & is moving to Maine to work as copydesk editor for a couple of newspapers), beers with my neighbor Brad, beers with Ben, we traipsed to Brad's backyard/patio/driveway on the alley where more beers were consumed before we finally took off a little before midnight. Jabari & Craig stopped by, Mike went home, & we barhopped for a few hours before Jabari crashed on my couch.

Sunday: Ate a couple of the delicious peaches I brought from Rappahannock for a morning snack on the porch. Brunched/simmered on Rafal's sunny patio/sauna, sweating out yesterday's alcohol as I gulped down a couple of yummy crepes, a couple of mimosas, coffee, & lots of water. The End

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Spent two of the last three days wandering home from tree work: Warrenton, Annandale, Fairfax, NOVA, Arlington, DC, Sperryville, Griffinsburg, Washington, Flint Hill... passing by Caledonia, Reva, Ben Venue, Amissville... on & on go the names of real, individual, places. Today developers name their projects Hopewell's Landing, Pickett's Reserve, and The Shops at Stonewall. WTF y'all. What The Fuck y'all? Why do they give such assuming names? Presumably because "Super-Sized Development Full of Crappy Homegeneity Built By Morons" doesn't have the same ring to it. Build a bridge to the future. I'm ready to go. The Present Kinda Blows.