Sunday, December 01, 2013

Le deuil


Thursday

I'm sitting in the bus station in Albany. The dreaded mandatory pit stop for most buses between New York and Montreal. This station is where busloads of passengers are required to spend 30 minutes in deep reflection while the driver rests and the bus is refuelled. This is what purgatory must feel like. It's an unredeemable place. This visit has already proved fruitful; our bus driver declared that the McDonald's was a little far "and besides it's pretty much the worst McDonald's I've ever been to anyway". I once considered using my sole $2 (USD) to purchase green apple slices in a moment of desperation and decided against it. Green apples (the worst variety of apples, sliced, but oddly not oxidized) at a McDonald's by the Albany bus station. Too depressing.

Reasons I haven't written:

  1. I've recently fallen in love with too much new music to begin to know what to write about.
  2. I've recently become self-conscious about the way I construct sentences and overuse commas. This is to blame on the high volume of great fiction I've recently read as a result of taking the subway every day instead of biking (due to a leg injury). I am one of those rare people not playing iPhone Bejeweled on his commute.
  3. I've recently moved back to NYC and begun a new job working for people I respect tremendously. This takes up a lot of time. The rest of it is spent sleeping, cooking, doing the dishes, and waking up early to write music every day.
Today (November 21st 2013) is the one year mark of having lost Peralta. I thought about him every day since it happened. Though I haven't done it yet, I'll be erasing his number from my phone. It seemed impossible the first month, unreasonable the second, and so on. For a person usually not emotionally tied to dates, November 18th marked one year without having organized a concert of my own music. There were recording sessions, pieces of mine played by others (3 continents!), many gigs with other projects; none of them my own. These two dates have a lot to do with each other. The death of Austin marked an ending of my desire to run my large band and perform the music I had written for him.

I had considerable anxiety about my lack of musical presentations until I realized that I was better off taking my time. Over this last year I've come to the realization that our musical culture has been cornered into thinking that a constant stream of content should be the norm. This is why aspiring groups are making videos on rooftops and parks and any unseemly location that will make us want to click their links- it has very little to do with music. It's attempting to attract our limited attention in the course of days navigating what seem to be endless distractions. Even musicians I admire are guilty of this (I've also been a part of these ploys, with no regrets). I will resist the temptation to "go all Franzen" on you, but I think he's right. Depending on how you view it, I'm fortunate or unfortunate enough to be in a position where I no longer make my living off of performances. This means that I'm able to focus on what I want to do – I'm not at the mercy of “money-gigs”, at least not right now. This is neither good or bad. As a writer of music, all of this means that a lot of time is spent in solitude working towards very specific goals instead of scrambling to have enough gigs to cover rent. I empathize with those around me that are in that position, as choices have to be made on which gigs to take, weighing creatively fulfilling gigs against financially fulfilling ones.

The point of this all is to say that the passing of Austin made me think hard about what I wanted to say and do with the time I have to express it. It comes down to Sondheim making a hat, where there wasn't a hat before (see all of “Sunday In The Park With George” to understand my point). The whole premise is only worth it if we can give ourselves away to the task with the most genuine of intentions. Do I really need minor works of quasi-social-media (sort-of-but-not-really) engagement to get to the bottom of what I want to create? My personal answer is no, but all the more power to you if this is part of your vision. There's been an insurgence of this kind of artistic thinking since I began thinking seriously about music a decade ago. I'm convinced social media is the biggest culprit. I have two minds about this: some of my peers have gone on to receive attention they may not have had prior to this social environment, but I have a feeling deserved recognition is inevitable no matter the time or place. I'm more focused on the artistic intentions (or lack of) around me than ever before.

Just as every lover at some level believes that he or she makes love as it's made nowhere else on the planet, so every artist clings for dear life to the illusion that the art he or she produces is vital, necessary, and unique.”

Jonathan Franzen, from his 1997 essay “Books in Bed”


The point being that the will to share should not be superseded by the belief that what is being said wouldn't be cared about were it not for the person responsible for its creation. That is the fundamental flaw in the intention behind a lot of the material I hear, which is the same as the fundamental flaw inherent in sharing oneself in any form of online representation (such as this fine blog). The reason Franzen's writing resonates so deeply with me is the fact that he was able to convey MY feelings in a way that exploited them – you feel the relationship with the artist as being wholly personal. Sami Bronowski satirized it best, appropriately in a tweet:

"This is how I decide if a movie is good or bad. I watch it and I ask myself : 'How much is this about me?' "

Perfect! Exactly the attitude that pervades the world of bad songs. I've decided to stop indulging it, and in doing so uncovered what I think is wrong with this culture of “artistic intentions”.

The man next to me is snoring. Woe is me.

...

Friday

I spend today tracking for my friend Henry's first album at Hotel 2 Tango in Montreal. Something about playing guitar makes me uneasy. A part of me feels proficient enough to contribute positively to the music, and the other part believes I'm just faking. I console myself with this quote:

An early tutor of mine in radical journalism, the late James Cameron, once confessed that every time he addressed the typewriter he thought to himself: 'Today is the day they are going to find me out.' ... I am consoled, when I suffer this very same apprehension, by the thought that the pope and the queen and the president all wake up with a similar gnawing fear. Or that, if they do not, they deserve to be doubted and distrusted even more, if that were possible, than I doubt and distrust them now.”

Christopher Hitchens from “Letters to a Young Contrarian”

I felt like I could play better than what I'd been hearing in the playback. Afterwards at home, I try to read through Schubert's last piano sonata, which I would love to learn in its entirety, but I know this won't happen. I'm hopelessly bad at playing the piano, but I feel like my limitation may be an asset to my musical being in some strange way. I recently realized that I don't know a single piece of music by heart. If you were to ask me to play anything, I would have to play based on what I believe to be the general idea of the music (speaking strictly about notated music). This is a problem. Maybe there's a Mozart minuet deeply lodged in my memory, but even my attempt to recall it feels like an imitation. Maybe I really am a musical fraud. Why haven't I retained anything? I have less than perfect pitch, good rhythmic identification but horrible output. Harmony is what I think I know.

...

Saturday

In the second day of tracking, my opinion fluctuates between thinking my choices are valid and thinking they aren't. I have the thought while tracking that maybe part of my attitude stems from not having been at home for 5 months. The duality of feeling like everything is in its place (family, friends) but also that the rest of it all is stuck right where you left it, as if the story has to continue now that you're back.

You: "But I'm 5 months older!"
Montreal: "Not to me you're not."

I'm not the musician that I was when I was a part of this with Henry. I have a feeling the record will sound good, and I'm proud of Henry for getting to where he is now. All I want is to be able to give him what he's looking for. What if I'm no longer this guitar player though? Or even a guitar player at all? The frame of reference is too wide. Stephen Sondheim, Stravinsky, Louis Cole, Blake Mills, Brahms, Randy Newman, Daedelus, Coltrane. Is this asking for too much?

...

I bring this up in a conversation with my mom. She says it sounds like it's "le deuil".

F: "C'est quoi le deuil? What does that mean?"
M: "Tu sais quand quelq'un meur. Tu fais le deuil. I don't know the English word for it."
F: "Oh, mourning."
M: "Oui c'est ça. Tu fais le deuil pour certaines musiques."

Peraltitas, she found it! C'est le deuil de certaines musiques! C'est une immense partie de pourquoi que tu me manques. I miss you because you allowed a certain kind of musical existence in me to live. I will not be a jazz player. I already knew that. I will not be a self-proclaimed guitarist. I guess I already knew that, but it's a tougher pill to swallow. So what's left?

John Adams wakes up everyday and the frame of reference is pretty clear, at least I assume. I've been writing a music theatre piece with two of my greatest friends for nearly two years. We go into so-called "production" in January. We know it's a broken piece. We would never make the same mistakes we made in putting this together again. Was it Ravel or Stravinsky (or someone else) who said that we never finish pieces of music, we only abandon them. Our piece is at the end of its rebellious adolescence and it looks like it's heading into its dysfunctional adult phase. What is there to do except love the imperfections for where they came from.

Today's session ended early enough for me to go hear one of the youth orchestras my sister plays in. This is exciting because I'm meeting Jean, the conductor who has agreed to let me write a piece for their June 2014 concert. This is an opportunity I'm incredibly excited about.

...

Sunday

I felt good about the way the overdubs went for Henry's session today; why do I do this to myself? I love the guitar – but it's my mistress, I mostly lust after it. Composition is my wife, through good days and debilitatingly bad days.

I took a break in the middle of the day to meet with Jean at Shaika Café in NDG. She is the kind of woman I would have easily become friends with had we met at the same age. She is in her 50's, looks a bit like Joni Mitchell and has the Western Canadian attitude that I know and love. We talk of the orchestra's strengths and weaknesses, as well as the avenues we can explore for this piece. She is charmingly encouraging, and speaks with passion about what she does and what it means to her. This is someone for whom music has mattered every day of her life. She basically gives me free reign to do whatever I want to do. I will begin writing my first orchestral piece.

....

I'm back on the bus, this time headed back towards Montreal. The driver informs us that it will be windy for most of the ride, and he'll do his best to not make the ride too bumpy. Nevertheless, I'm unable to sleep – nauseated from the motion.

I haven't listened to my recording in a while, so I put it on. Some things I like, others I don't.

Arthur sounds amazing.
Austin sounds amazing.
Matt Baltrucki engineered the hell out of it.
What the hell is up with the third movement? Why did I write that? Oh well.
Dillon's solo is so strange... I like it.
Michael's solo is hilarious, that's exactly what I asked for. He laughed when I proposed it to him...
The way Austin ends it (improvised) is perfect. It asks a question with that last chord (we feel like the penultimate chord should be the ending, but he extends it ever so slightly).

I wouldn't write this piece again. It's naive and jumbled. I guess that's a good thing – here it stands, knees wobbly but functional. I guess I made a hat.

I delete Austin's number from my phone. He hasn't called; my rationality so badly wanted to be irrational. It still does. I can see why religion consumes the majority of this world - it's less secure to live in uncertainty.

I know why we try to keep the dead alive: we try to keep them alive in order to keep them with us. I also know that if we are to live ourselves there comes a point at which we must relinquish the dead, let them go, keep them dead.”

Joan Didion, from “The Year of Magical Thinking

C'est le deuil de certaines musiques.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

On Writing for Dance


Collision Collective's first presentation

I've been immersed in “the dance world” for the last couple of months. Scoring this dance piece has proven to be a new kind of challenge for many different reasons. I don't want to bore whoever reads this with all of the details; only a few.

We decided early on (since one of the members of the group, Carou, plays trumpet) that we were going to use brass with effects, along with pre-recorded materials. I now realize that this may have been a bad decision, but we've had to stick to it (no offense to the wonderful brass players!!!) There was an informal presentation of our work in mid-April which went well. Afterwards there was a discussion period with the audience, which is normal in the dance and theater worlds. I'm glad that's not the norm in the musical world... I can hardly stand talking about music with those that are close to me, I can't imagine what it would be like to have a roomful of people telling me what they liked and disliked about my music!

Having used up the initial ideas that interested me when the project began, their applications have because cumbersome. What to do with 4 brass players to create an atmosphere worthy of these movements? I still don't know... The musical problem stems largely from the approach I think many contemporary dancers take when they choreograph. What is the role of the music if the dance is not based directly off of it? Does it exist as counterpoint to the dance? Does it serve as an emotional tie to the mood of the movements? Is it necessary?

A large majority of the dance pieces I've seen in recent months have consisted of scores completely lacking in harmony. This doesn't devalue their merit, but if you know me, it goes without saying that harmony is why I write music. I do play and listen to a lot of music that necessitates harmonic stagnation; I love it too. However, when I think about music I want to create, it doesn't even cross my mind to approach it another way. I've found that constant harmonic motion is less suited to the approach our group has taken, since the timings are often not in lieu of the music, but alongside them. This is the most important realization I've made since this project began. Due to time limitations, it's looking like none of the movements will be choreographed to the music – only the opposite, which is frustrating as a writer, but maybe best for this specific project.  I've heard it said from a few people that Montréal is the most avant-garde city in North America dance-wise.  Maybe I'm a classicist, but the pieces that have moved me the most have been the ones where music is inextricably linked to the movements. 

This is my favourite piece I've seen so far while researching contemporary dance. The fact that I love the music probably helps make it so.  Those Ligeti etudes!  I love the Jeremy Denk interpretations; my teacher believes they're not even CLOSE to the Aimard ones.

Meanwhile, I'm writing the piano quartet that continues where Peralta left off. He didn't write much, but there's a ton of thematic and gestural ideas to play with the music he did write. I'm hoping to finish it in the next several weeks – the plan is to get it recorded sometime this summer. While in the thick of writing, I had a recurring dream where I would run into Austin and I spend all of the time I saw him telling him he wasn't supposed to be there. I would wake up frustrated that I had used my precious dream time like that. There are 15 bars that he had fully notated, and as of now the entire piece is an exploration of those ideas. I have a hunch that he turned some of the ideas from this quartet into “Lapis”.  I brought a rough draft of the piece to my teacher, who dismantled it and left me the good parts to re-assemble.

I read David Byrne's “How Music Works”, having a hard time finishing Saul Bellow's “Humboldt's Gift” (it's a lot to take in). I've mostly been reading articles and newspapers. This one blew me away – I have to put a disclaimer on this one, it's rated R. Absolutely binge watched season 4 of Arrested Development. Have finally been watching Mad Men – I'm close to being caught up. When I took Robert Sadin's “Special Topics” at New School, during the first class he told us there was no point in attending if we couldn't appreciate the genius of the writers of “The Simpsons”. Sadin said a lot of things I wish I'd written down; another good one was about how Mozart went to “tennis school” (alluding to how tennis players are required to train innumerable hours when they're young), and that we hear that in the music; not that it's good or bad - it's just true. Anyhow, I think Mad Men gets “it” right, but I'm wondering whether it needed to be explored across more than 3 seasons regardless of how good it still is. 


Notable music I've recently seen/heard (without comments - some of these I enjoyed more than others)

Sufjan Stevens's “A Sun Came”

Dom Mekky and Arthur Hnatek's Senior Recitals at The New School

Devendra Barnhart's show at The Corona in Montreal

D'Angelo's show at The Olympia

"Gypsy" – The Jule Styne/Stephen Sondheim musical.

Sam Amidon's record release show at LPR in NYC

Andrew Norman's "Companion Guide to Rome"

Schubert's Fantasy in F minor Op. 103

Wagner's "Tristan Und Isolde"

Kanye West's "Yeezus"

Friday, February 22, 2013

A few things...


The grant for the dance piece was approved, so we're pressing on with that. Thank you Québec Government, I appreciate the investment. My American friends can only dream about the kinds of opportunities we have here in Canada for government Arts funding. That being said, I write this amidst the hilarity of #pastagate. I also have to thank the Québec Government for the laughs, and encourage those taking it seriously to settle down, this is definitely one of those times where laughing is the only appropriate response.

Vanessa in rehearsal

I'm modifying the first movement of “Hope” slightly for the “Keio Light Music Society” in Japan. My friend Jun Umeki is championing my big band music over there, which I'm always thrilled about. Here's a link to their performance of “The Facebook Generation” at the Yamano Big Band Jazz Contest from this past summer, along with Jim McNeely's “A Single Sky”.

Ironically, I think the only way to see it is to have a Facebook account.... My plan all along. 


I haven't been in the mindset of big band writing for over a year now; 2012 yielded one chart entitled “9 Lives” written in honour of Tom, my glorious cat of 15 years after he passed away this summer. Here's a bootleg of it from the band's show at Resonance Cafe in Montréal last November. The gain is sort of low, so turn it up...

The recorder is too close to the saxophones, it's under-rehearsed, and the piece is about 50% good in my opinion (my self-conscious disclaimer). This piece is different than my other writing for this ensemble. I wanted to represent three things in it:

  1. The intensity of watching my cat's kidneys fail him in real time (I solely witnessed the beginning of his body deciding to shut down)
  2. The grandiosity of his character. Anyone that had ever met him understood this badassery.
  3. The transition into death as my family sat huddled around him which was both sad and beautiful in its own way. I think this musical moment is pretty clear: I used the same notes as the famous repeated chord in “Les augures printaniers – danses des adolescentes” from the “Rite of Spring”. The last chord from THAT piece is the ultimate death chord. I saw an interview with Michael Tilson Thomas where he mentions that if you look at the last bar in the contrabasses, their divisi is D-E-A-D. I can't imagine Stravinsky made a deliberate choice in English (at that time), but I love to pretend like he did...

In a way, I think this chart is a spectacular failure. I like it, but it's not very good. The more I write music, the more I realize it's HARD to write anything of substance. It also just takes a really long time. I'll save my thoughts about whether or not it should matter what the music means to the composer from a listener's perspective for another post. (This is my problem with a lot of songwriters and most music criticism/writing). That being said, I think I MIGHT be qualified to comment on big band writing in general, but probably not (2.5 years is barely called “experience” in any field). I only point this out because I've seen and listened to quite a bit of large ensemble music, and I think I've just begun to realize where MY large ensemble could continue to have a fresh direction.

In short, the truth of the matter is that big bands stopped being cool arguably 60 years ago. Most people attribute this to the fact that dance music moved away from swing towards rock and roll. This isn't to say that there weren't amazing and innovative composers in big band writing after the 40's; my bigger influences for this instrumentation only really start around then until nowadays. I think a lot of composers failed to appropriate the sounds of their generation into their big band writing – for example, let's hypothetically invent an ensemble trying to play punk-big-band-music: they probably aren't living/breathing punk, so all that comes out of trying is a really bad imitation of the elements of punk rock music. On top of that, their gigs are probably at jazz clubs, with crowds that are sitting down, some of them informed jazz listeners, others just pissed off punk enthusiasts wanting their money back. There probably isn't a singer, so the “melodies” are played by saxophones (perhaps alternating between sections if the writer wants to be clever), and (assuming our writer is arranging punk hits of the day) the lyric component is totally gone. How punk rock is that? I think we're now living in a time that would embrace and be excited by a really inventive use of this group of instruments, but very few people are actually cool in their big band writing, further perpetuating the hybrids that don't really speak; “big-band-influenced-by-hip-hop-but-also-Carla-Bley's-music” with open sections that are improvised over with quasi-bop language. (Actually maybe that sounds cool, but for reasons other than what I'm trying to point out). I'm guilty of this too, but increasingly becoming aware that if we could re-contextualize the use of the big band, it would be welcomed by many curious listeners. Darcy James Argue succeeded with “Brooklyn Babylon” last year at BAM, hopefully they'll find a way to put on the entire show (not just the music, which is great on its own) in many cities.

I frequently get asked what's going on with my “Large Band”. It's on hiatus for an indeterminate period of time. Maybe I'll come back to it soon, maybe not, unless the right opportunity comes up.

In other big band news: here's a cool interview I did with the Hits and Gigs podcast last week. Dan Rougeau is a good friend of mine from my Vanier College days. I was asked about the writing and planning of "Hope", along with other great questions from Dan, Savic Panylyk, and Noah Sherman. Check it out!

. . .

Dom, Sami, and I had 2 sessions reading through some of the material for our theatre piece. We had a proposed rough draft for a first act, and now it's back to the drawing board for what seems to be a 30% complete first act, and a solid scene near the end of the piece. This is also another one of those times where the only appropriate response is to laugh (and keep on writing).

Lined up for March and April is some music with Charlotte Cornfield; she is AWESOME!

My friend Brian suggested I check out Andy Shauf. EVERYONE check him out.

My friend Jay suggested I check out Blake Mills. EVERYONE check him out.


Jeremy Denk linked this article to Twitter yesterday. Absolutely worth reading if anyone has a bit of time to spare.

I'm living in a world between folk songs (for lack of any proper term) and contemporary classical music. When nobody's looking, I'm nerding out to jazz records.

I saw Thomas Adès' “Powder Her Face” at BAM last Friday. I know age isn't supposed to matter, but he wrote that when he was around my age... Jeez. It's hard writing music when you know a genius like that is out there totally crushing it. WWTAD? (What Would Thomas Adès Do?)

I love when friends and strangers write to me about the thoughts and opinions expressed on here, please continue doing so!

-FR

Monday, January 21, 2013

Cold Winter Update



Today is the two month anniversary of Austin's passing and so much has happened. I don't want to dwell on this subject, though I want to mention that I went to his memorial in LA and met his family and friends who surpassed all the expectations of kindness and love I had envisioned. I want to thank Gemma and her roommates (at the “Goddess Complex”) for hosting me. 

I also want to thank everyone who wrote me with their condolences, it truly does make a difference while grieving. I think about him a lot, every day. Austin's best friend Jake Bloch has asked me to compile and finish a piano quartet piece that Austin had sketched out, which will be a part of a larger project consisting of his unfinished material finished by his musical friends. It's such a beautiful notion, Austin really does have an amazing circle. I recently came across the short-doc that Jake made at USC, which is incredible. It was just accepted into the Global Visions Film Festival here in Canada. Check it out here.

BTW I've made the recording of “Hope” free, I want everyone to listen to Austin's playing eternally.

On another note, one of my greatest friends Levon Henry just released a recording I played on called “Music For Trains”. We got together last May at this little studio in the Lower East Side to record this suite that Levon wrote for his senior recital at the New School. The music is so “Levon”, I love it. Check it out here

Lee in studio
  The band is:

  • Levon on clarinet, bass clarinet, and tenor sax.
  • Samuel Bronowski on tenor sax
  • Patrick Sargeant on alto sax
  • Sammy Miller on drums
  • Garret Lang on bass
  • Tom Csatari on acoustic guitar
  • JJ Wright on piano/organ (he takes a breathtaking solo on “Mountains”)
  • Me on electric guitar
  • Dominic Mekky on sound design

    JJ and Garret
    The narrator on the second track is the legendary Van Dyke Parks. Pretty sweet collabo.
Last November I got together with Felix Del Tredici at Concordia University to record “Episodes For Felix”, which I wrote over September and October of 2012. The ensemble was:

  • Felix Del Tredici on bass trombone
  • Dan Garmon on piano
  • Julian Gammon on piano
  • Lara Deutsch on flute
  • Krisjana Thornsteinson on oboe and english horn
  • Barbara Bentley on bassoon
  • Dominic Mekky on sound design

Felix at Oscar Peterson Hall
Julian

Dan
Barbara, Krisjana, and Lara

I'll be getting together with James Finnerty in February to mix and master the whole thing, which I'll post for free download thereafter.

I'm just about to begin the contemporary dance piece with the newly formed “Collective Collision” ensemble which consists of:

  • Vanessa Beaupré (dance)
  • Laurie-Anne Langis (dance)
  • Marilyn Daoust (dance)
  • Carou Johnson (composition)
  • Me (composition)
  • Pier-Louis Dagenais-Savard (cinematic artist/documentarian)

We'll be putting together a full concert-length piece to be performed mid-August.

Another new project is “Maerin”. My good friend Maerin Hunting (formerly of “Felix”) just had one of her songs featured in an upcoming feature film and has decided to use the royalty money to record her next album, which I'll be helping her out with. Look forward to some ingeniously honest and beautiful songs. Great stuff.

I keep getting asked if I'm writing at all. The answer is YES, though it's been the same piece for over a year now. The chamber/opera/musical/operetta is coming along. The first act is tentatively finished. We're hoping to be finished all of the writing by June...

Dom Mekky wrote that, not me, I just write quarter notes with the white keys


LISTENING

I have a new project that I started a little while ago: I'm listening to all of Stravinsky's music exclusively with whatever recordings I can find on Youtube, chronologically. I'm up to “Renard”, and so far have only not found the second part of “2 Poems by Paul Verlaine”. Otherwise, there's some amazing stuff; I've taken to looking for versions of Gergiev conducting for the larger orchestral works. The most thrilling discovery was the film version of “Le rossignol” by Christian Chaudet. Check this out, it's completely absurd, beautiful, and the piece is now amongst my favourites by old Igor. It's an attempt at getting through his entire oeuvre but I'm also a little perturbed at the fact that someone's entire life's work can be represented online both by the greatest symphony orchestras as well as modestly attended piano recitals, all for “free”.

Thomas Adès. I had only heard "Asyla" when I last wrote about him. I think he's a genius, and maybe the greatest living composer I've ever heard. I saw “The Tempest” at the Met in NY, and again when the live stream was shown at the movie theater. Does it get any better than this?!?!?!? “In Seven Days” is the deepest shit. Listen to it with the visuals if possible (done by his husband I believe).

Gabriel Kahane. His “pop” music is so smart it hurts. His “art” music is piquant defined. I have to hear more. His “Craigslistlieder” is dope.


READING/WATCHING

All of P.T. Anderson's films. He's the baddest.

Exit Music: The Radiohead Story” by Mac Randall. I don't love his writing, or care much for his presumptions about meanings of lyrics or harmonic choices, but it's well sourced and put together nicely.

The Myth of the Muslim Tide” by Doug Saunders. Great read, he easily disproves all of the xenophobic and biased writing and attitudes that we're inundated with by “Muslim Tide” theorists.

Moby Dick” by Herman Melville. My friend Ali Levy told me that Ben Street (the bassist) believes it contains everything.

A People's History of the United States” by Howard Zinn. Another friend, Nikol Drewry, bought this as a holiday present for me. Amazing book.

The Joy of Music” by Leonard Bernstein. This was such a pleasure to read, it contains transcripts of some of his omnibus lectures, as well as several essays.

Just picked up “Mortality” by Christopher Hitchens. I have no doubt that it will be stunning.

Gigs with Bud Rice and Marc Beland coming up. The winter in Montreal is less pleasant than I remember it before having moved to NYC. I spoke to MTL bassist Dave Watts who confirmed that no one is really working in the winter here; people (with good reason) don't go out as much, so there's less music going on. All of the ambitious and exciting projects seem to be summer/late spring/early fall oriented. Everyone is hibernating, and I can't stand it... I'm biking around as much as possible (with a clunky winter bike), but I miss the NY winter biking, which is really just biking with a mild-weather coat on and less riders in the bike lanes.

That's Celsius
 Also, a giant thanks to everyone that came out and packed Cafe Resonance for the FRLB show featuring the Le Boeuf Brothers and Arthur Hnatek. I had a blast, band sounded good. Arthur is on tour in England right now, and the Le Boeuf's have a new record coming out that sounds like it's gonna be AMAZING. I have inspiring friends.

If anyone needs me, I'll be inside, thanks.