Thursday, April 28, 2005

New music for the day, a Lebanese pianist named Rami Khalife introduced to me by Mike C. He said it reminded him of Monk and I agree. He has a lot of Chopin in him too. Beautiful stuff. Konono, passed on to me from Thomas Bartlett's audiofile column in salon. I've re-earthed my old African records like Prince Nico Mbarga and the Modern Sounds of Kampala comp. KONONO N°1, a band from the Congo, fits right in. Check out this bio from their site:

KONONO N°1 was founded over 25 years ago by Mingiedi, a virtuoso of the likembé (a traditional instrument sometimes called "sanza" or "thumb piano", consisting of metal rods attached to a resonator). The band's line-up includes three electric likembés (bass, medium and treble), equipped with hand-made microphones built from magnets salvaged from old car parts, and plugged into amplifiers. There's also a rhythm section which uses traditional as well as makeshift percussion (pans, pots and car parts), three singers, three dancers and a sound system featuring these famous megaphones. The musicians come from an area which sits right across the border between Congo and Angola. Their repertoire draws largely on Bazombo trance music, but they've had to incorporate the originally-unwanted distorsions of their sound system. This has made them develop a unique style which, from a sonic viewpoint, has accidentally connected them with the aesthetics of the most experimental forms of rock and electronic music, as much through their sounds than through their sheer volume (they play in front of a wall of speakers) and their merciless grooves.

Atticus starts daycare on Monday. We (Me and Irene) went and met with the infant and toddler director at St. Vincent De Paul yesterday. Gabs has been going to St. Vincent's since she was three and I have been acquainted with it since she was five. I practically know everyone there and they are all golden (All the parents too). The infant and toddler program is no different. I am not as acquainted with them so it was nice to meet with the director, who came across as a warm and strong human being, and visit the classrooms. I nearly started to cry though when she was talking about everything he would be experiencing. It is amazing stuff, face time, tummy time, they really emphasize learning and not just daycare, but I found myself really sad that he would be going. It really broke my heart and I had to stop myself from crying. I thought this wasn’t supposed to happen until kindergarten. It'll be good for him though, to be around other kids.

The past weekend was intense. I was going to write about it Monday (partly because I am feeling guilty for not writing in the blog more consistently) but it seemed too much to process. A strange and long weekend. We entered into it rather intensely, watching Hotel Rwanda Friday night. I am no stranger to the news of Rwanda, having both taught it in my history classes and done extensive research on it, but the movie still shocked me. It had a tremendous effect on Irene. I will say more about it later when I can. I will say that there is also another movie out about Rwanda, Shake Hands with The Devil, that is worth seeing.

Saturday all five of us (me irene gabs atticus and even matilda) were set to go to my parents to meet my old friend who I haven't seen in ages. I have known him since I was very young and even though we took different paths in life I enjoy seeing him. He has two children, both girls-two and a half and five months, who I were also eager to see. So Saturday morning I went to get some baby gifts from Babies R Us, a strange and intimidating store. Me and Gabs listened to the audio book of James and the Giant Peach read by Jeremy Irons (Thanks Sis!) as we drove there. So me and Gabs and Atticus strrolled around the store looking finally settling on a couple of things. Mind you, we didn't have a cart. I just hung the clothes from Atticus' stroller. We checked out and a manager comes up to us and kind of checks out the stroller and says that he thinks it has been recalled. Safety issues and such. So we start talking and he talks to us for awhile. There were people waiting in line behind me and Gabs was getting uncomfortable. Of course I would want to know if it was being recalled but it was taking forever. Finally we pulled over out of the way and he kept talking, went to go get a number so I could call the company. He comes back, checks out the stroller, we shake hands and then leave. As we get outside I realize we don't have the brand of stroller that he was talking about and then it hits me, he thought I was shoplifting, putting clothes into my baby's stroller. I understand it, the guy has to do his job, but it was the way he did it and the fact that it was in front of Gabs that really hurt me. Then again, it could have all been my imagination and he could have really been sincere about the recall. It was Gabs' discomfort at the whole situation (telling me later on, "That was weird, Hilly, I think he wanted to steal the stroller or something") that clinched it for me. I have had many experiences, having spent the latter part of my childhood in the suburbs, having people tail me in stores to see if I was going to shoplift something. Suffice to say, we got our gifts and had a odd but overall decent evening.

This evening was weird in ways I cannot fully explain. It was good to see my friend and his wife and her parents. Irene finally got to meet him. She said he was a gentle soul. And he is. His wife is a gem. And their kids are cute as hell. The two year old would not stop talking and repeated everything you said. I suggested she name her hippo stuffed animal Ralph and in the background Irene giggles and says Ralph Malph and instantly this little child starts saying Ralph Malph over and over. Being that Irene and I are constantly swearing like sailors (Hi Donaldson!) I was a little frightened of the future.

I must get something off my chest though. Something that has been with me. You know, I could go to any one of my friend's houses, from The Cates Slodkis to Kent in Brooklyn to Shari, and, well, they would love me and welcome me and tell me when I am full of shit but still my family would be welcome sincerely. You see, I love my culture, I do. I love it all. It's mine. But my people, and I say my people because they are mine and when Atticus grows up he will see it like that, my people, his people, they are old school just like a lot of other immigrant cultures, hell, just like all cultures, they see us walking through the door, Tall beautiful Greek woman with olive skin and curly black hair, tall lanky Indian man with dark skin, growing little girl with white white skin and red hair and little man with inquisitive eyes (oh yeah, and the chihuahua) and I see their eyes, the darting. God, I don't know. I am bitter. Irene brings me home to her family and the whole family whether they are this way or that, opens their arms and hearts and says, basically, sit eat have food, you now are family. My family implies to me last night that maybe it would be better if I didn’t come home for awhile because the weight of my actions, of being with a divorced woman with a previous child and being unmarried brings shame on them and affects their life. And you know what, it does. I know it does. They risk being shut out of social circles. There are parts of my own extended family that refuse to talk to me because of what I have done. What I have done. That's just the way it is. So I understand it, it's real life for them. They have to deal with the consequences of my actions.

But fucking hell, I chose love and be goddmaned if I ever EVER tell my child something different. If anyone so much as says anything to him or Gabs I swear to god I'll fuck them up.

Or at least pour water over their heads and curse them out in Sanskrit.

Things I will never do to Atticus:

I will never make you fetch me a beer
I will never shout at you for vomiting (on anything, even my records)
I will never ever make you suffer for love.

I will raise my child for the world. That's a big fucking responsibility but it comes back to Hotel Rwanda. How can we let these things happen? How Do they happen. Life is a responsibility not just a gift. You must bear witness. You must give to the world something that can keep giving. You must. But enough. I digress. It's early in the morning. I’ve been typing this since six. I might have to revise it later. I tend to go off the deep end. Sorry. I tend to get preachy at times. Ask anyone.

Friday, April 22, 2005

matilda as captured by miss cortney groves Posted by Hello

atticus and i at work as captured by arturo valle, senor panicfilms himself Posted by Hello

So it’s been a minute since I’ve posted here. I’m sure my readership has
dropped from seven to two, one of which is me. Life has been happening.
On many scales, large and small. The day is cold, getting colder. I have
a rare moment of tranquility as Atticus is sleeping. I’m not sure how
long it will last. Gabs is in her room listening to the soundtrack to The
Little Mermaid and Irene is at work.

It becomes progressively harder and harder to type, well, to type
coherently, without making mistakes. My hands get more numb with each
passing day. It’s slowly starting up the wrist with designs on my elbow.
Officially, my head doesn’t need to be excavated meaning no surgery to
remove my cyst, which as it turns out is congenital and ok. The
neurosurgeon, god bless him, was old school and by far the most thorough
and best doctor I have seen. I highly recommend him if you have trouble
with your noggin. I still have to see a neurologist about the numbness.
We’ll see how that progresses.

I have so much to say. I am just not sure how to say it. I’ve been thin
king a lot about anger recently among all the other things that I think
about on a daily basis: health, dying, diabetes, the effects of spray
paint on chip board, needing new glasses, the new weight gain I have
encountered, my fiends, my family, Sarah Vowell’s voice, eating red meat
vs. eating fish and chicken. etc etc. Anger has always been a part of my
life. It was introduced to me early. I won’t elaborate too much except to
say that alcohol and being immigrants in this country fueled it and
encouraged its resonance in my heart and mind, as with that of my sister.
If that sounds all too cryptic then I can’t help you. I have a lot of
anger in me. I have seen its manifestations many times. I am scared of
anger. I am even more scared of becoming angry. A friend once told me
years ago that what I really needed to learn was that it was ok to get
angry and that there are different ways of getting angry. I guess this is
all coming up because of Atticus, but really it all came up when
Gabrielle entered my life. It was then I started thinking about what it
is you pass down to your kids. I have more to say but I’ll let that
dangle for now, see how it looks.

Irene started work a few weeks ago and our schedules have been
subsequently crazy. I wake up at 5:30 am and get to work by 6:30/6:45 and
stay until 3 pm, coming home where Irene leaves at 3:30 to get to work.
Until Atticus starts daycare this is our schedule. I have always been an
early riser so I like being up at crack when the city is just starting to

I am trying to pack a lot into this entry, as I have no idea when little
man will start crying and I will have to go feed him. I added a my space
profile for narendra, my old music identity. You can find me at It’s been awhile since I’ve cut and pasted
and mixed anything but it felt good to profile myself.

Sissy gave me The Time Travelers Wife to read and so far I am intrigued
and hooked though my friend Kent put a thought into my head about the
author that I can’t shake. Doug gave me Woodcuts of Women by Dagoberto
Gilb to read. I loved his story I Knew she was Beautiful so I am excited.
Danced with Atticus yesterday to a song called Sometimes by Daniel
Lanois. Then after I put him to sleep and just after wards accidentally
hit his vibrating chair and woke him up and he screamed like I have never
heard him scream and started crying. And I started crying and told him I
would never do that again. I held him and memories of my own childhood
that led to my thoughts about anger and probably led to this journal

And I have e to say this publicly so she gets some props. My sister
defended her thesis and rocked the jury. They were blown away and she
officially has her master’s degree. Congratulations.

So....all over the place but present. There you go. Good to see you all

Friday, April 15, 2005

So, it's been awhile since I've posted. Apologies. It's amazing how much happens in such a short time, or at least since last Thursday. Part of me wants to do the quick recap, i.e., ":watched two movies, took Gabs and Atticus to the park, read a book" but maybe I'll hold off on that. My mood has been temperamental and ambiguous in the past week. I find myself increasingly flustered and unable to join the machinations of daily life. Monday, they performed a colonoscopy on me (for those of you familiar or blessed enough to have gone through this before, the prep for this is a doozy). They seemed positive after the fact. Then again I was out of it. Irene assured me that it was ok. They took tow samples and sent them off for a biopsy. I will get the results today. My CEA tests (blood cancer tests) have been negative so far but if the cancer has returned or started to return then I will be in trouble. SO far that doesn't look like a possibility but should it happen then life would definitely change again and it would involve radiation.

I was talking to my good friend this morning and she wondered what the "breaking point" might be in terms of my openness and vulnerability displayed on this blog. I guess this it. I have been full of thoughts the last week or so and the thoughts just refuse to become external. I guess the cancer and chemo made me stand outside of myself and look at my body and face. Now I feel like I've crawled back inside and am hiding.

So I might peek out in a few to say hi again. Maybe tomorrow or later, but now I am going back inside for a little while.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

My man (well not really my man, I don't know him personally but I love his music) Devin Davis has gotten his props from Salon's audiofile. Let's hope it gives him a wider audience. Audiofile chose Iron Woman which is indeed a great song but my favorite is Turtle and the Flightless Bird.

From the review:

Thursday, Apr 7, 2005

Daily Download: "Iron Woman," Devin Davis

image"Iron Woman," the opening track of Devin Davis' debut record "Lonely People of the World, Unite!," is a ragged, invigorating, somewhat anarchic two-minute rock song, the vocals delivered with Springsteenian gusto and grit, and with an unhinged sax solo snuck in to rough things up further. The whole record is mightily impressive, equal parts tight songcraft and undisciplined emotional fervor, recorded nearly single-handedly by Davis over a period of a few years. Also available for free download, "Turtle and the Flightless Bird" and "Deserted Eyeland."

Free Download:
"Iron Woman"

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Listening to Ray LaMontagne. A song called All the Wild Horses. My first thought when I first heard it was that this guy is the real thing, the real deal.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Sunday afternoon. All tired out. Posted by Hello

A painting from Saturday. The circle around his head is a coffee stain from a large pot I used. What I want to know is how did he end up looking like Ethan Hawke? Or is it just me? Posted by Hello

Sunday, April 03, 2005

I have nothing really dramatic to say today. Well that’s a lie. I do. But I am feeling very self conscious. Part of me wants to go the grocery list route: woke up, walked the dogs, had a bowl of cereal, it was get the point.

I feel there is an innate sense of heaviness to this blog. Cancer, physical and emotional numbness, the joys of fatherhood. I mean, I just as easily could tell you that I am playing Indiana Jones on the PS2 and it’s hit a snag. Or I could tell you that Matilda the chihuahua steals Stella the Basset Hound's bone and chews on it just to fuck with her. Really. Or that I walked the dogs this morning and suddenly noticed a tree that has always been on my route. I followed the trunk up with my eyes until the branches became thinner. I went over to touch it and run my hands across the bark. I could tell you that someone slowed their car down to stare at me while I was doing get the point.

I do have very dramatic things to say. I mean, I am a very dramatic person. I live with other dramatic people. Even the pets are dramatic. Atticus is not very dramatic. Intense, yes, but not dramatic.

I have things floating in my head, revolving around in these orbits. On each cycle they inevitably pass right by my immediate thought center and I think about them. Like my friend Shari’s second inevitable gift to me (in no less than a year) where she put me at ease about something I have been rather defensive about. She looked at me across the ocean of digital numbers (or cornfields, whatever) and did her whole you’re not listening snap out of it it’s really simple say what you feel thing. Other orbits like the worry about my friends, the love I feel for them, the love and fierce protectiveness I feel for my family. Going to Reza’s last night with Jon and Lisa and having Atticus sit on my lap while I was talking and having it feel completely natural. Then there is always the art, is it good is it bad would you give me 100 bucks to write a poem about your foot and paint a picture of a cherry orchard?

Sunday morning. The birds are chirping. I made chai and am waiting to open the door and enter the day.

Friday, April 01, 2005

A wide space in between posts. Apologies.

Many thoughts today. For those of you who read Suddenly I'm Huge, a rare link has been posted. Amazingly beautiful and heartbreaking art, life. Reminds me of the apology line from New York years ago.