All Mixed Up at ccMixter

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Virtually Real

One of my friends from ccMixter died last week. His name is Joe Lincoln and he shared his music as Fireproof Babies (“FPB”). I was deeply saddened by his death.. Surprised by how sad. I had never personally met Joe, but I did interact with him. We reviewed each other’s music, leaving supportive comments for each other. I used sonic samples he freely shared in music I created. And there were times when we corresponded with each other outside of ccMixter to offer each other support and encouragement during tough times.

I notified the ccMixter community of Joe's death by posting an announcement on the site forum. I also created a tribute remix for him. The sadness and grief experienced by the community was deep, palpable, real. Many community members knew Joe solely through his music, not having had occasion or opportunity to know him more personally through collaboration or correspondence. For several days, all of the remix uploads to the site were tributes to Joe, utilizing FPB source material. For several days all of the activity on the site was dedicated to Joe.

I believe Joe had no idea how much he was appreciated by us. And if he did, he was unable to internalize it.

I was struck by the depth of feeling that was stirred by Joe’s death. Community members came together in this virtual forum to share feelings that were very real. While I have always felt strongly connected to ccMixter and community members, what became apparent during this time was how vital these relationships truly are. Through music, we make relationships that have emotional impact. The experience of sitting with someone’s music in headphones during the process of making a song is uniquely intimate. You hear their breath. You feel their rhythms. You learn about their creative choices. You incorporate that bit of the other that was freely shared into a bit of yourself that you intend to share. You may know nothing else about the artist you sample but you do come to know the artist through the sample -- even if it is just an isolated aspect of the artist.

The loss of one of our community members, and the way in which we communicated to each other around the loss -- our feelings about this loss -- demonstrated how real our care for one another is. The significance of on-line communities cannot be ignored. (A google search for “study virtual communities” resulting in over 28 million results -- clearly this is a hot topic). In this instance, the value of the ccMixter on-line community cannot be diminished. The care, the concern, the love -- these are among the reasons why I engage with ccMixter in the way that I do. I love ccMixter for how it provides the space for me to know others, and for others to know me, in this unique way that is inimitably vital.

Friday, July 22, 2011

"It's My Party and I'll Cry if I Want To. . . "

Ever since I was little, I had a bit of a tantrum on my birthday. It probably stems from the narcissistic personality disorder qualities I live with causing me to suffer greatly from never feeling loved enough so that when my birthday observances come around, I am often left feeling depleted instead of filled. The need for such love an armour against allowing such love, when proffered, to make its way in. Then there is also the guilt and shame associated with wanting to feel that love, to feel special – that need engendering a sense of self-loathing for not being comfortable with myself which I have experienced since a very early age.

I’m working on it being different this time.

I remember many of my birthdays. On my fifth birthday we played a racing game. All of the children left their shoes at the far end of a long lawn. We raced from the opposite end, put our shoes on, and ran back to the starting point. I finished last. I sobbed. Not because I was last, but out of indignation – it was my birthday, and as the birthday girl, I should have won! Being only five years old, I got over it quickly -- like as soon as the birthday cake was served.

On my 18th birthday, my best friend threw a surprise party for me, but literally no one showed up -- I think because while she planned everything, she forgot to tell people about it. She and I ate the entire 1/4 sheet birthday cake that was shaped like a jar of Skippy peanut butter.

My 21st birthday was spent in Florence. I ate a giant gianduia wafer in the garret room of the pensione where I was staying, dressed only in my underwear, before going out to the Borghese gardens to see a performance of the ABT where I wondered if the famous male dancer was for real or stuffed socks in his crotch. My 30th birthday was particularly lovely as that was when I discovered I was pregnant with my first daughter. My 40th was lovely too as we had just moved into our first house after living in a tiny apartment – four of us plus the cats in a place with only one bathroom and no closets.

My parents always made a big deal of my birthday. My birthday was important to me too, until the past decade or so when the passing of time marked by my birthday became particularly painful. As I entered middle age, each birthday marked another year when I became farther from my youth, my potential, my beauty, my sadness compounded by the temporal reminder of what I have not done which somehow overshadows what I have done. 

Now my birthday is a time of mourning. The months, weeks, days leading up to my birthday filled with grief as I cry for what has passed, for the lack of appreciation I have always had for myself, and for certain choices made that took me in predictable directions, but yet somehow landed me in unexpected places -- like the job I have held for the past 11 years that turned into the career I never in a million years would have imagined or chosen for myself, and which consumed so, so much time of my life, although did provide stability for my family.

Despite all of this, I woke up this birthday morning cheerful in anticipation of some special love from my special loved ones. I am grateful for the opportunity to once again try to let it in, even though I am not so sure that I am yet comfortable in my skin, despite having made it to this ripe, ripe age.

Choices -- The Sequel

Choices may change

though indelible they remain
like ink to skin
Worn in expressions stained by experience reflecting what you did and what you chose not to do
Worn in brief side eyed glances as you cross thresholds escorted by the ghosts of your decisions
Worn in distractions crystalized like breath on frozen window glass
where you pause to peer as you pass. . .

As you pass there is no time
no time for regret.

My regrets are few, but deep
They are the gollum in my dreams and the clocks collected by my father
As if by surrounding himself by minutes and hours he will somehow linger longer.

I have neither a clock nor a mirror.
My life’s reflection transitory
Rear views
Your eyes

Choices may change but indelible they remain
so that experience is this experience.
Setting up decisions like destiny
Benchmarking probability
If these choices were odds
And I were a booking placing bets
You could make a million bucks
Guessing what happens next.

Choices may change but indelible they remain
The dna of action
Infusing each reach with a legacy of intention
At times unrecognizable,
So that even soma’s messages cannot elucidate the options.
And other times
Clear, inspired, focused, righteous
Toched by divinity
So that those choices are delicate habingers of hope in a life of crises.

Choices may change
Though indelible they remain
Link ink to skin
Coloring history with the hues of your decisions.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Quiet Time

All of us at the end.
Our play, "Box, Window, Door" ended in a cloudburst of chaos, despite getting a rave review. Last Saturday night (the night before our next set of performances started on Sunday), the entire cast left the show. We had pre-sold tickets for Sunday. I had lined up an entire evening of music. It was a nightmare. Angela Grillo (the director), Evelyn Stettin (the playwright), Ricardo Gonzalez (the stage manager) and I managed to put together a presentation for the audience explaining the process of creating the play based on dreams, explaining the protagonist's story, and explaining a bit some of the symbols and images that recur in the play.  We performed some selections from the show and had a "question and answer" session after. It actually went very well. The audience was attentive, interested and had a lot of good questions afterward.

Then my band played and we had some Irish whiskey.

Sackjo22 + 3

Now that the play is over and the large case I had been working on since August has settled, I feel like I can, need to, and should spend some quiet time just writing, processing how I have been feeling, thinking deeply about things, paying some attention to my home and garden which are terribly neglected, and writing down my dreams (my real dreams not my aspirations). I had laryngitis this week.  I never get laryngitis.  I imagine that is my body's way of informing me I need some quiet time.  It's hard for me to occupy that quiet space for fear of being forgotten.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Saturday Space

Yesterday was the first Saturday in a long time when I have not been burdened by work -- legal or creative -- or by illness.  The sense of peace as I sat in the early spring garden was more like a memory as I have not yet really transitioned from the space of heart-full anxiety to quiet.  Yet the garden was quietly lovely with bird song, intermittent car noises from the road behind the apartments behind our garden (those sounds like waves crashing on the shore), and the white noise hum of various engines or generators belonging to the neighbors.  There were clouds so the light was not purely clear, but the clouds were big, billowing gestures in the sky.  The breeze was soft.  Perennial blooms have burst and I was grateful to sit among them, the palette of the garden gently green, purple, pink, blue, as lavender, pink jasmine, daisy, rosemary and mallow flower.  Bees hummed too.  I was not able to see from where I sat under the lemon tree, but roses have started to blossom as well.

Clearly, I have not been "shomer shabbat" as I have sacrificed that peace for "duty."  Still, I value Shabbat and look forward to this trend continuing -- to have my Saturday space back, to be in my home with my family, Shabbat morning my time for reflection.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Do you want to know what's going on these days?

Much to my delight, this past week, the ccMixter community was asked to participate in another art gallery event.  Artlab in San Diego is a working exhibition and performance space where artists are encouraged to share their process and their product with one another and with the community.  I like to think our work with the White Cube Remix project last year helped demonstrate how powerful our communal voice is, and that perhaps opened the door for additional sonic installation projects such as this to follow.

As the admin team started planning the announcement and focusing on the "how to" approach of this event, we agreed the idea that what we create as a community is much more than the sum of its parts was a splendid theme, albeit a mouthful.  A bit of googling, led me to the Wikipedia page about "emergence" which describes that very phenomena as observed in all types of systems from meterological systems (think of a hurricane), to chemical systems (snowflakes), religious, spiritual, physical, interpersonal.  It became clear that "emergence" is an apt theme for the ccMixter community which transforms elements of a whole; effecting, tweaking and recombining sounds from source material to create an entirely new piece of music altogether.

I plan to go down to San Diego when the gallery opens to be part of some live performances with Haskel, Snowflake, Spinningmerkaba and DJ Queenique. 

*  *  *

But this is not all that is going on.  Box, Window, Door has initiated its fundraising campaign as we gear up for our dozen performances set for the first three weeks of March.  Being part of this production has been a very interesting experience as we work through our own dreams, as well as the dreams of the characters.  The work is intimate and deep in a unique way that I believe originates from the depth of connection that the author seeks to attain in her life through her work.  It permeates our interaction as a group so that the air is palpable with spirit during readings and rehearsals.  We will start a heavy rehearsal schedule soon.

I love bringing the music of ccMixter to another venue.  The music has become another character in the play -- not only supporting action, but at times informing it as well.  Soon, I will be very immersed in this process as I refine my curation,  start mixing tracks for the performances, and perhaps write some new material as well.

* * *

And that's not all.After each performance of BWD, live music will play.  I have not only been involved in booking bands to play during that time, but I will be putting together my own band to do three shows.  I haven't had my own band playing my original songs for a very, very, very long time. I definitely have to practice a lot to get the live chops up to snuff.  But I have been enjyoing that process very much.  The other night, rehearsal was in front of the fireplace with a bottle of wine and a couple of cats hanging out in the living room.. 

* * *

But there's more:  The mundane and every day that demands times and attention   I could easily go on  . . . and on. . . .

Thanks to Yuransky for the image (one of the ArtLab artists)


As shadows melt when light shines,

we emerge in love.

Snowflake fractal patterns pulsing with meaning
crystallize from chaos into organized forms.
Each random pleasure is a hurricane
encompassing both power and calm.

This synergy is sublime.
When the whole is more than "more than"
different from "the sum of. . ."

It is the emergence of love
rising from the ashes of broken promises, truncated memories, dreams
extracted and treated until all parts
meld into this moment
inextricable from temporal markers.

It is your mouth on my mouth as we kiss.

So take this heart, and this sigh
to emerge in love.

Our conjoined melodies that linger
Rhythms that bind
Our sound the song of intentions combined.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

The New Year with the Divine Miss S.

I stayed up way too late last night listening to music. The divine Miss S.  just bought a mandolin earlier this week, and has already taught herself enough about how to play that she wrote a song, that she then recorded with her webcam and posted on youtube. I'm not supposed to share the linkewith anyone; I posted the link on my facebook, but she insisted I take it down, but not before a couple of friends and family had a chance to view it. 

New Year's Eve was shabbat, so we just had a quiet dinner. After dinner, H. and I were hanging out in the living room. He was playing his guitar and singing -- serenading me in an odd way doing parodies of Robert Plant which I did not find at all romantic, although it was comical. At about 10:00pm, we heard a knock on the door. A boy arrived with a bottle of sparkling apple juice and two fancy glasses to toast the new year with the divine Miss S.  The boy looks  a bit like a leprachaun -- he is not terribly tall (5' 7" maybe), slightly round bellied, red haired, and he has a bushy beard. He is 16 and in the jazz band at school with the divine Miss S. While he drives, apparently he takes the bus to school with her. His visit was unexpected, to say the least. You should have seen Haskel bristle with daddy-bear protectiveness! He was hilarious, actually. Trying not to pace around or huff up too big in order to intimidate the poor boy, who was actually impressively gracious and well mannered. Poor Miss S. was totally embarrased, and awkward. Also, our house is a total mess. Miss S. took the boy into the kitchen where they opened the bottle of sparkling apple juice. H. had some too. Later, H. told me he took some just to make the bottle go faster so the kid would be more inclined to leave. We all sat around the living room for a few moments. S. brought out her mandolin. Then she took the boy on a "mandolin tour" of our house, ending up in her bedroom, where she perched on the edge of her bed, holding court while he stood. She has a chair in her room, but the space heater is on it. She did not think to remove the space heater to offer the boy a seat. H. was exhausted, and went to bed after I reassured him I would keep an eye and ear out on the "children." After a short while, the boy took his leave, giving me  a hug before he left. Turns out, he told Miss S. he might stop by, but she being a space monkey who doesn't always listen too well, thought he intended to stop by tomorrow so she was also quite surprised by this visit. I think he has a crush on her. She denies it, stating he is this way (warm, generous, and I must admit, somewhat charming) with everyone. H. is very concerned about the presence of any boys around our girls. I had to reassure him that having boys around is actually a good thing for our girls, and that they are good girls who he should trust.

(art courtesy of thepatonegro @