Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Anti Kenny G

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So What

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GW on GW

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Friday, March 28, 2008

The Birth of the Cool

I’ve been listening to Miles Davis quite a bit lately. I’ve always regarded him as one of the most influential musicians in jazz and quite possibly music in general. I didn’t regard him as a terribly gifted trumpet player, but rather one who was ahead of or the progenitor for trends. Until this weekend. Reading Nat Hentoff’s liner notes while listening to “Miles Davis – The Columbia Years 1955 – 1985” I came across the following:

“Miles, as it happened, created his own sound. It was all coming together. The spareness, the evocative use of space, the intense lyricism and the deep fire underneath it all. And nothing was superfluous.”
It was at that moment that I realized the genius of Miles Davis; he was a master of using silence or space to create drama and tension. Communicating the mood through intervals between notes as well as with the notes resulting in a piece greater than the sum of its parts.

This is particularly apparent in the Birth of the Cool period – 1949 – 1950. Another quote:
“In contrast to the hot, urgent sound and drive of bop, these 1948 – 1949 sessions developed softer but still intense shadings of textures and a more supple flexible sense of jazz time.”
In other words, bops intensity derived from a strong rhythm accompanied by an avalanche of notes, whereas Miles kept the intensity by shifting the attention to what happened between the notes.

This brings me to the point I’m trying to make, that is Che Bella’s design approach resembles more Miles Davis than bee-bop. An important design element to us is the incorporation of negative space. To understand negative space, think of Miles’ use of intervals between notes. Negative space creates movement within an arrangement by drawing the eye towards it, through it and around it. By carefully implementing negative space, the florals within the arrangement have more impact. Negative space more accurately mimics nature in the design; think of the tips of tree branches spreading their fingers to the sky or the irregularity of how a plant grows, some parts densely packed other parts not.

To continue with the Miles metaphor, we tend to limit the amount of elements in an arrangement. By elements, I mean flowers and color. One way to think about these two elements in the broad sense is color as chords and flowers as notes. We chose a chord and fill the chord with notes. It can be a one chord/one note arrangement such as a vase filled with lilac, or a chord progression of complementary colors and a note/flower structure within each chord to create an arrangement of drama, or whimsy, sublime or extravagant, always carefully choosing our notes so that each rings clear and true.

Pick up a copy of Miles’ “Kind of Blue” and give it a serious listen, if this doesn’t make sense to you now, it will then.


Give this a listen.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Skin like a Turkey

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Sunday, March 23, 2008


Someone to remember

I see him as did the child of my life.
From diminished vantage a shadow did befall me.
Respite from the summer's heat.
Aloft and over to safety's nest.

Laid me down gently so that I could walk with him
Above the dual hue corridors of suspicion
Into the spectral garden of God's creation
Forlorn destinies were shaken asunder.

Perhaps my innocence did unlock his heart
Or eyes of ample and curious strain
Did connect our lives in permanence
Through life's travails and harvest's sown.

Our journey parted some time ago
But today's cool wind in a whisper
Reminds me that love is never truly lost.
But wil rejoin in eternity's mist.

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

This Obama Thing

This whole ObamaJeremiahWrightRace kerfuffle of the past week has got me thinking. No I’m not writing about politics here and yes I do have an opinion, but I’m not sharing it with you. I reminisce about growing up in an inter-racial household. You see, I’m the inverse of Steve Martin’s character in the Jerk, you know he’s born a poor black child and discovers Montovani and becomes white. I was born a poor white child until I discovered James Brown and his Famous Flames.

That and my Mom married a black man in 1965. I think it was 1965 anyway. I was eight and my brother was three. The year prior to their marriage, we lived in a section of LA just off of what is now Martin Luther King Blvd. Back then MLK was called Santa Rosalia Blvd; we lived on a street just below Baldwin Hills called Hillcrest Ave. My mom, my brother and I were the only white kids around I’m pretty sure. If my memory serves me correctly (Mom help me out here), there were some white folks still living there – mostly retired. I remember our neighbor across the hall used to race midget cars and give me STP stickers. But by and large we hung out with the black kids in the neighborhood. The neighborhood was working class poor, and this was what we could afford while we waited for my Mom’s divorce to be finalized.

One day, my Mom came home with this portly black guy with a hat, little did I know then that he’d become my stepfather within a year. I admit it was strange to me on a number of levels, conflicted over my real father (whom I didn’t miss, but may have had some sense of loyalty too), being the oldest have my authority being usurped by an outsider, and just being completely different in skin tone. So I was a bit suspicious.

But he eventually won us over.

Snippets of memories come back to me. Walking to Mr. J’s record store at the end of the street to by 45s – James Brown, The Temptations, Smokey, the Four Tops, the Delfonics, the Chi-Lites… Walkin’past the brothers in pork pie hats and the most fabulous Italian knit shirts that to this day I cannot find. Conques and doo-rags were still in evidence.

A year later we moved up the street to Baldwin Hills. To put it into TV parlance, it was kinda like being the Jefferson’s – not for my step dad but for me and my brother. What a difference a half mile makes because on top of that hill lived an affluent, professional predominantly black community. The white folks had fled to Ladera Heights, Trousdale and Beverly Hills some time back. This was a neighborhood of physicians, businessmen, and professionals who got to where they were through education, diligence and hard work.

A brief side note: My stepfather graduated from Columbia University at the top of his class to become the first black anesthesiologist in the US, his brother was a high school teacher in Brooklyn and his sister created the first African studies program for a University (whose name escapes me) in the US and incidentally was a friend to Maya Angelou.

I’m not quite sure where I’m going with this expository, certainly not an historical record of my childhood rather I think the texture of my “black experience”. You see my experience was not of the angry black man, although there was plenty of it bubbling up, the Watts Riots I, the Black Panthers, Malcolm X, and Eldridge Cleaver – my life in that milieu was more like a hybrid version of the Huckstables; which to Cosby’s great credit showed America that we really have very little differences in what we want out of life.

We were all middle class kids raised on middle class values going to middle class schools.

And I’m surprised that we’re still talkin’ about race some forty years later….

I remember the 8th grade parties slow dancing with the girls with the light down low, and Mom (not mine) flickin’ the light switch and giving us the “look”.

I remember having a crush on a lovely black girl named Valerie, and passing her note asking if she’d go steady with me only to have her laugh and show the note to her friends who also got a big kick out it.

I remember my Mom dropping me and my buddy Marvin off at the 5th Avenue theater in Morningside to see some movie, and the gang bangers (the Crips) pouring in through the back doors and stealing our popcorn – we were absolutely terrified.

I remember the day my Dad starting wearing platform shoes – that was the day I grew taller than him. Pursuant to that remembrance, I used to tell him at the dinner table how I tall I was and he used to say “What do you want to be – a basketball player!”

I remember the poster of MLK I had with his I Have A Dream speech and MLK’s picture and showing it to my Dad and telling him how much he looked like MLK. To this day, I wonder if he was complemented or chagrined (as in you all look alike, which was certainly NOT how I meant it).

I remember how much he loved La.

I remember him telling me to get a job 30 days before I went to boot camp.

I remember how much he loved Amalthea.

I remember how life turned on him – became too much for him to bear and him turning to alcohol.

I remember how he lost everything.

I love him and miss him.

I think that’s where I’ll leave this off.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

A Perfect Night's Sleep

I’ve never been a fabulous sleeper. When people talk about deep, dreamless sleep, or waking up after a full eight hours in the same position they fell asleep in, or actually waking up feeling refreshed, I cannot relate on any level but that of some sort of unreachable dream. I consider it a great night if I only get up twice to stare vacantly into the fridge. Consequently, my bedroom and, more importantly, my bed are my sanctuaries. I have a fetish for bedrooms. I lust after soft, smooshy beds and lavish pillows and expensive, highest thread count sheets. And the blanket,…truly, I have a weakness for blankets. I pile them on. My idea of a perfect bed is one you can burrow into and get lost, pretend you’re in the womb.

My bed sits right under my bedroom window where I can quite comfortably lay on my bed with my arms resting on the windowsill and watch the world go by. Just outside the window are two beautiful and verdant trees. I am on the second floor so if I stretch my imagination a bit and squint, I can fairly convince myself that I am snuggled in my own little nest perched in the tree branches. Humble perhaps, but my sanctuary of sanctuaries. The benefit of this vantage point is that I can see and hear a lot of things without being seen or heard myself.

I’ve witnessed a lot life’s joys and sorrows from my perch. Lovers, partygoers, enemies, and friends. I’ve seen late-night caresses, boundaries of feline territory fought for, won, and sometimes lost, games of tag and hide-and-seek, children acting out the way they do when they think no adult is watching. I’ve seen relationships end and mend, neighbors off to work in the morning looking sharp and back home in the evening looking bedraggled, babies become toddlers and then go off to school. Like I said, I’ve seen a lot of things.

One night last summer when J was gone for the weekend, I went to bed a little early to wallow in the luxury of having it all to myself. A night to sleep diagonally uninterrupted by unearthly snoring is a luxury indeed. I was watching a little cop drama to relax and heard an oboe. One unforgettable run, and I thought, “Weird. That can’t be.” And then the orchestra came in, and I turned to look in wonder out my window towards the balcony across from my bedroom. The guy that lives there was in his kitchen washing dishes at ten o’clock at night with “Rhapsody in Blue” bellowing out of his open windows. You have to understand, I don’t live in boho East Village, or cool Kensington. I live in an average condo complex full of average people in average Allied Gardens. George Gershwin wafting its way into my nest on that warm, summer wind was unexpected to say the least. I fumbled for the remote to turn off the tv and turned around to get a face full of that Gershwin breeze. The sky was clear and indigo, the birds were settling in and the tree frogs were waking up, and my neighbor’s windows glowed golden as I watched and listened rapt. He and I, unlikely and unknowing lovers sharing two private moments in two unconnected lives. And I whispered to myself, “Never forget this magic. Don’t ever forget this night.” I wept and thanked God and the universe for such perfection. And that night, I didn’t wake up until morning.

Mr. Bernstein, second best only to Mr. Gershwin himself... (I suggest playing while reading)

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Come Help Say - Buon Giorno America

Little Italy Association – “I SAY GMA” Video Shoot

WHAT: “I Say GMA” ABC’s Good Morning America Video Submission
(Viewers submit videos to ABC that represent a unique/personal way to say good morning to America). Link with more info: I Say GMA
Little Italy has decided to shoot a brief video clip beneath Little Italy sign on India street, with group of individuals shouting “BUONGIORNO AMERICA!” to demonstrate and promote the unique experience of Little Italy in San Diego.

WHO: Any and all Little Italy residents, merchants, business owners/employees, etc. (the MORE people the better)!

WHEN: Friday, March 28 @ 9am (sharp!)
*Video shoot will last no longer than 20 minutes, dependent on the prompt arrival of participants

WHERE: Participants should meet beneath Little Italy sign on India Street

ATTIRE: ALL participants are asked to wear red, green or white for this video shoot!


CONTACTS: Chris Gomez, LIA - 619-233-3898
Lauren Walsh, Citrus PR – 760-889-2909

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Amalthea gave me a book today called "Plato and a Platypus walk into a bar... Understanding Philosophy throug Jokes.
It's a great book, so I thought I'd include some of the concepts and jokes. Let's start simple:


Does the universe have a purpose? Aristotle thought so, to him everything has a telos or inner goal. The seed to become a plant or flower, it is was the seed is meant to be.

Here's Mrs. Goldsteins view: Mrs. Goldstein was walking down the street with her two grandchildren. A friend stopped to ask her how old they were.

She replied, "The doctor is five and the lawyer is seven."

Obviously, Mrs. Goldstein has a definite idea of what her grandchildrens' telos is.

Aristotle thought that the telos of human life was happiness, a thought disputed by philosphers ever since. If Mrs. Goldstein's grandkids are meant to be a doctor and a lawyer, is this what they necesarrily want to be? And would their telos make them happy? Which begs the question, what is happiness? Ah, but that's for another philogag.

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Friday, March 14, 2008

We'll be in Anza Borrego this weekend.

Enjoying the spring bloom and taking a much needed respite. No blogging from me, so I'll leave you with this nugget.

Gotta love it!

See ya Monday!

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Think Local First

50 % of this country’s GDP is generated by small businesses. By small business I mean your local retailer, restauranteur, plumber, electrician, graphic designer, architect et al make a significant contribution to our countries economy. You might say where the small business goes, so goes the country.

Now I have no truck with the big box stores, such as Wal-Mart, Costco, Home Depot, Ikea and the like. I believe they provide a useful service to the consumer. Particularly in the case of stores like Wal-Mart where folks from lower income levels have access to goods and services they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford.

So this isn’t a slam against them. What I’m trying to point out to you Dear Reader is your impact on the economy where you live when you decide to purchase goods and services. You may not realize this but when you purchase that latte from Starbucks or those jeans from the Gap at the local mall, most of the revenue from that purchase is leaving the local economy. Sure, when you purchase from these establishments they can continue to pay their employees who in turn spend their money locally, however most of the revenue is returned to the parent organization to cover overhead and contribute to the corporate bottom line. Furthermore, many of these companies make the decision (wisely) to incorporate in tax friendly states (Nevada or New Hampshire) or in the case of trans-national companies incorporate in countries with little or no tax laws such as Bermuda. I know because I used to work for one. So not only is most of the money you spent leaving your neighborhood, the state and the country lose in taxes the company would otherwise pay on their profits.

Surveys have shown conclusively that when you purchase from locally owned businesses more money is fed back to the local economy. A 2002 case study in Austin Texas showed that for every $100 in consumer spending at a national bookstore in Austin the local economic impact was only $13. The same amount spent at locally based bookstores yielded $45, or more than three times the local economic impact. (Civic Economics, “Austin Unchained” October 2003).

A 2003 case study of Midcoast Maine covering several lines of goods and services validated these findings. In Maine eight locally owned businesses were surveyed. The survey found that the businesses spent 44.6 percent of their revenue with the surrounding two counties. Another 8.7 percent was spent elsewhere in the state of Maine. The four largest components of this local spending were: wages and benefits paid to local employees; goods and services purchased from other local businesses; profits that accrued to local owners and taxes paid to local and state government… The study estimated that a big box retailer returns just 14.1 percent of its revenue to the local economy, mostly in the form of payroll. The rest leaves the state, flowing to out-of-state suppliers and back to corporate headquarters. (The Economic Impact of Locally Business vs. Chains: A Case Study in Midcoast Maine – New Rules Project, September 2003).

In this case study in Andersonville – a hamlet outside of Chicago Illinois – they found that for every $100 spent in a locally owned business, $68 dollars remained in the Chicago area.

So what is a locally owned business? The Business Alliance for Local Living Economies recommends you ask these five questions:

1. Is the business privately held (not publicly traded)?
2. Do the business owners, totaling greater than 50% of the business ownership, live in your local region?
3. Is the business registered in your state, with no corporate or national headquarters outside your region?
4. Can the business make independent decisions regarding the name and look of the business, as well as all business purchasing, practices and distribution?
5. Does the business pay all its own rent, marketing expenses, and other expenses (without assistance from a corporate headquarters)?

If the answer to all these questions is in the affirmative, then that business is locally owned.

You’ve probably figured out by now that I’m not entirely altruistic here. We want you to shop at Che Bella and Nido whenever you’re in the need of the best in florals or that perfect gift. But if you can’t make to Little Italy, please consider using someone local, I know he or she will appreciate it, we certainly do. Consider it giving a little somethin’ somethin’ back to the community.

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Piss, Vinegar and Beer

I love this guy, check it out!

Hat Tip: Roger L. Simon

Nothing Follows.

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Saturday, March 8, 2008


Last night I decided to throw Steely Dan’s Aja on the turntable, that’s right I said turntable. That’s not surprising to those who know me, but I do have a large collection of vinyl. Anyway, I’m always struck by how brilliant that album is and what a departure it was from anything that they had done prior.

I remember the day I bought that album (it’s still in mint condition by the way); it was 1977 La and I were living in Wichita Falls TX where I was a lowly Airmen, Amalthea was not yet born but on the way, we were driving around town and I decided to check out a record store that caught my eye. Sorry, I can’t remember the name of the store. We walked in and there at the front of the store was the new Steely Dan album.


We didn’t have a pot to piss in back then, but I had to buy it. I was so happy, whooda thunk it. You could actually buy a Steely Dan album in hick town like Wicheeta Falls (we knew people with dirt floors there). I think it cost me 7.99. In all fairness to Wichita Falls it is a lovely Texas town way up north, but a little short on culture if you know what I mean.

But I digress a bit.

So we get home. Roll a fat one. Turn on our 13” black and white TV. Fiddle with the rabbit ears. Turn the sound off (which was our habit). Plop that brand new Steely Dan licorice pizza on the turntable.

The opening chords of Black Cow come through the speakers.

And I was blown away.

Aja is Steely Dan’s masterpiece. Broad and expansive in scope, courageous – a complete departure from anything they’d done previously. Although, there may have been hints of things to come in The Royal Scam, it took me completely by surprise.

Every track on that LP is great. Musicianship, lyrics, production it’s all perfect. Check out the roster of musicians:

Walter Becker - bass, guitar, electric guitar, vocals
Chuck Rainey - bass
Timothy B. Schmit - bass, vocals
Donald Fagen - synthesizer, keyboards, vocals, background vocals, whistle
Paul Griffin - keyboards, electric piano, vocals, background vocals
Don Grolnick - keyboards, clavinet
Michael Omartian - piano, keyboards
Joe Sample - keyboards, electric piano, clavinet
Larry Carlton - guitar, electric guitar
Denny Dias - guitar
Jay Graydon - guitar, electric guitar
Steve Khan - guitar
Dean Parks - guitar
Lee Ritenour - guitar
Pete Christlieb - flute, tenor saxophone
Chuck Findley - horn, brass
Jim Horn - flute, saxophone
Richard Hyde - trombone
Slyde Hyde - brass
Plas Johnson - flute, saxophone
Jackie Kelso - flute, horn, saxophone
Lou McCreary - brass
Bill Perkins - flute, horn, saxophone
Tom Scott - conductor, flute, tenor saxophone, lyricon
Wayne Shorter - flute, tenor saxophone
Bernard Purdie - drums
Steve Gadd - drums (on Aja)
Ed Greene - drums (on "I got the News")
Paul Humphrey - drums
Jim Keltner - percussion, drums
Rick Marotta - drums
Gary Coleman - percussion
Victor Feldman - percussion, piano, keyboards, electric piano, vibraphone
Venetta Fields - vocals, background vocals
Clydie King - vocals, background vocals
Rebecca Louis - vocals, background vocals
Shirley Matthews - vocals, background vocals
Michael McDonald - vocals, background vocals

Every one of these folks is famous in their own right.

Well I’m rambling. If you don’t own this CD, you really need to buy it. You won’t be disappointed.

By the way, I haven’t touched a joint in 30 years.

Jus so’s ya know.

Mom would be proud.

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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

I'd like a pizza to go - no anchovies

This brings back memories of being 16, smokin' weed with my buddy Paul and absolutely crackin' up. We used to go to the old Fox Venice theatre and watch Firesign Theatre movies. I hope you find it as funny as I do.

Part Two

Part Three

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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

This one is different....

Normally, I don't like kids floggin' stuff on TV. It smacks to me as the advertisers are either really cynical or they think we're just too stupid and we'll go out buy that product 'cuz it's got a cute kid in it.

But this one's different. Kaiser got it just right.

Just the right amount of humor and wryness. Rich in irony. And it's hilarious!

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Saturday, March 1, 2008

Have you ever felt like this?

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First Day of Little League

It’s opening day for Little League today. I know this because I saw it on the news this morning. Can I tell you how cute these 4 – 6 year old kids looked? Little munchkins with over sized helmets – they looked like bobble head dolls. Holding a bat that’s nearly as big as they are, taking a mighty swing at the tee ball and to their surprise hits the ball! There’s a moment of indecision…

Finally, the coach shouts RUN!

And the little bobble head doll scurries down to first base as fast as his little legs will carry him, head bobbling all the way.

Meanwhile, all hells broke loose in the infield. Kids scampering every which way, until one of ‘em figures out how to catch the ball, (their mitts are about the size of their heads) unfortunately in the melee the first basemen’s been drawn off the bag and the kid who picked up the ball, throws it to thin air.

The kid makes it to first and decides to take two. The first basemen manages to run back and get the ball, the coach is shouting THROW IT SECOND! He throws it over the second basemen’s head and the ball ends up in left field. The left fielder wasn’t expecting that, as a matter of fact he was looking the other way. After a few seconds and shouts from the coach, he goes scampering after the ball. Meanwhile, our intrepid batter decides to make it a triple.

Obviously, the kids have yet to fully appreciate the mechanics of the game. It’s like watching puppies play baseball.

The left fielder manages to catch up to the ball and throws it back to the second baseman who ducks when the ball gets to him. Fortunately, the pitcher (why there’s a pitcher in Tee ball I’ll never know) who’s mind is in the game and manages to scoop up the ball.

The third base coach is giving the “round house” signal to the runner to go for home. So the little tyke rounds third and barrels towards home. The pitcher turns and throws the ball home…

The throw is good.

It hits the catchers’ oversized mitt, but he doesn’t have the strength in his little hands to close the glove and the ball drops to the ground.

Our intrepid bobble head doll makes it across home plate for an in the park home run!!!

I wonder if A-Rod started out this way.

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March is House of Love's First Anniversary


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White Rabbits, White Rabbits

That's what the House of Love says on the first of each month. It's supposed to be the very first thing you say, but sometimes we mess it up with Good Morning. It's supposed to bring you good fortune for the month.

Do you have a similar tradition/saying?

UPDATE: Here's what Wikipedia has to say: Rabbit Rabbit White Rabbit

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