The Next Penn Station

“The past is gone
It went by, like dusk to dawn
Isn’t that the way
Everybody’s got the dues in life to pay”*

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Madison Square Garden. Believe it or not, concerts are held & the Rangers and Knicks play on the 5th Floor, Penn Station is in the basement.

I’m a lifelong NY Rangers fan. I was at Games 1 and 5 of the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals at MSG, and yes, I also was at the unforgettable Game 7, June 14, 1994, when the Rangers won the Cup for the first time in those forgettable 54 years, the first time they ever won it at home. My seat was right above the guy with the famous “NOW I CAN DIE IN PEACE” sign. Oh, I know how he felt- Having been a Rangers fan for more than half of those 54 years to that point, It may have been the greatest experience of my entire lifetime.

I convinced the company I worked for to get Ranger Season Tickets for a few years after that.

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MSG does not pay to advertise on Nighthawk.NYC, so I had to replace their ads. I think it looks much better now, right?

I was also a Knicks fan during the Frazier-Willis Reed years, and saw one playoff game by that Championship Team at MSG, still, the greatest basketball team I’ve ever seen. Additionally, I’ve seen many many concerts at MSG by Prince, Elvis Costello, Radiohead, the Rolling Stones, Yes, Miles Davis, Lady GaGa, Blondie and Morrissey, himself.

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Morrissey @MSG June 27, 2015. One of the most recent unforgettable moments I’ve had there.

The Garden has been a big part of my life.

All of that, the fact that the Knicks are headed back up (which will result in more popularity & attention), and the billion dollars the Dolans spent to renovate the Garden1(while somehow paying $0 to the City in Property Taxes) stand on one side.

“Sing with me, sing for the years
Sing for the laughter, sing for the tears
Sing with me, just for today
Maybe tomorrow, the good Lord will take you away”*

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MSG Renovations, in progress here, included new periphery lighting and huge new advertising billboards, only partly installed here. Renovations to Penn Station? $0

The countless thousands of others who commute or travel through Penn Station every single day stand on the other.

For me? This is a no brainer.

As NYC debates what to do about that pathetic transit hub called “Penn Station,” which used to be the name of one of the glories of American Architecture (on the same location), before some genius decided to tear it all down, let’s not be shortsighted, again, or yield to big money.

“Half my life
Is books, written pages
Live and learn from fools and
From sages”*

There is only ONE choice here-

Do What Is Best for the commuters and travelers, FIRST and Last. That’s an investment in helping to keep NYC great, as well as a step towards bringing transportation here into the 21st Century. Then, when the best plan for that has been determined? Put MSG on the next best option.

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The Farley Post Office (right), across 8th Avenue from the current MSG, could be where the “next” MSG goes, though it’s landmark status may be a problem.

Sorry, Dolans- MSG is an AFTERTHOUGHT in this discussion, NOT the priority.

End of story.

Right now, there seems to be no clear vision. Some steps are in progress, however, with the construction currently underway of Moynihan Station in part of said Farley Post Office, as seen today-

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“Raise the curtain and show them what they’ve won!” It’s the entrance to the New Moynihan Station, the new Amtrak Station, at the Farley Post Office, across the street from MSG, Jan 28, 2016.

But there remains no concrete overriding plan that “solves” the bigger problem. Governor Cuomo’s proposal doesn’t sound like “it” to me.

First, we need to make that choice I just outlined to fix mass transit. Period. Then, create the best urban design plan that facilitates it best. THEN put MSG on the next best location 2. Penn Station needs to be a focus, not an afterthought “shoehorned” into MSG as the Governor’s plan tries to do. They are two separate structures on two different sites in my opinion. The chance exists to do something defining & wonderful here. A chance we had and failed to seize at Ground Zero, and more recently in Brooklyn. It is another chance to define NYC for the 21st Century. Yes, whatever we build will “define” the City going forward. Why not build something GREAT for the “Greatest City In The World,” (to quote Lin-Manuel Miranda)?

Will we seize that chance and do something Great with it? I’m not holding my breath. I don’t see the leader with the guts to overrule the special interests and push something magical AND every bit as functional as we desperately need through.

So? I’m left to Dream On….

While I’m dreaming…If we were going to build something new AND Great? I STRONGLY suggest we beg 3 Frank Gehry to design it, then leave him alone to do it. Gehry, America’s greatest living architect, who’s father lived in Hell’s Kitchen, in the very shadow of MSG & the Farley Post Office, has created masterpieces that have helped put even Bilbao, Spain on the map. If he’s creating this in Las Vegas, isn’t it about time we got a masterpiece from him to help define NYC for the 21st Century?

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Gehry’s Lou Ruvo Center, Las Vegas. Not a train station, though it’s located on “Grand Central Pkwy.” Check out their site to see it at night. Exterior & Interior photos courtesy of Jane In Las Vegas. Thanks, Jane!

“Dream on
Dream on
Dream on
Dream until your dreams come true”*

Ok…next problem. Do I hear anyone say-

“What about that other transit disaster, and monstrosity, a few blocks north known as the Port Authority Bus Terminal?”

Maybe we could get a “deal” on both from Mr. Gehry? My brain glosses over orgasmically thinking about how amazing that could be.4

Remember to thank me later. After I wake up.

*-Soundtrack for this post is “Dream On” by Steven Tyler and recorded by Aerosmith on their 1973 self-titled debut album. Published by BMG Rights Management US.

Comments are off, but that doesn’t mean I don’t welcome them, thoughts, feedback or propositions. Please send them to denizen@nighthawknyc.com.

  1. MSG looks great inside. The exterior is now a mess, in my opinion.
  2. The Voice makes mention of the $300 Million in tax breaks MSG has received the past 30 years, thanks to Ed Koch…and counting. Well? Since they no doubt invested that money well they could possibly build the new MSG from the proceeds, and given the bull market the past 8 years, might be able to build it without even touching the principle! If ANY public official turns around and gives them MORE tax breaks now? SERIOUSLY?
  3. which we may have to after he got jerked around so badly in Brooklyn. That turned out so well, hasn’t it?
  4. Keep in mind the NY Times building, across from the Port Authority, came THIS close to being a Gehry. I shed a tear every time I walk past it.

Welcome To New York!

A lovely Saturday afternoon in the big Town courtesy of cnyclive. Snow much to see! Snow much to do! Enjoy some of the many sites-

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World Famous Brooklyn Bridge, seen in the background, is a very romantic spot, day or night!

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Or, Take Advantage of the Post-Holiday Sales on Glamorous 5th Avenue & 42nd Street. Times Square is just 2 blocks to the left!

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Or, just enjoy a nice Saturday stroll on Broadway, “The Great White Way!”

Soundtrack for this Post is “Take The A Train,” (about the Subways, which, as far as I know, is the only means of transportation open right now), by Billy Strayhorn and made immortal by Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington & his great Orchestra, seen here in 1943-

First installment in an ongoing series..

Comments are off, but that doesn’t mean I don’t welcome them, thoughts, feedback or propositions. Please send them to denizen@nighthawknyc.com.

Art Shows, 2015 – Who Keeps Your Flame?

“But when you’re gone,
Who remembers your name?
Who keeps your flame?”*

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January, 2015. Goya @The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Neither snow, nor 5 hours on a train kept the Nighthawk from the Front Door of Great Art. Click any image for full size.

Since I don’t believe in comparing creative work or creative people, AND I believe that “awards” for “Best” whatever among the Arts (and Sports) are absurd 1, I thought I’d do a “List In No Particular Order” of 2015 Art Shows I saw (some opened in 2014) that may or may not have closed for good, but still continue to open doors in my mind, and that’s more important than any award I could bestow.

“Oh can I show you what I’m proudest of?”*

“Goya: Order and Disorder” (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA. No photos permitted.) AND “Goya:Los Caprichos” (National Arts Club, Gramercy Park, NYC)- Two concurrent, excellent shows, 250 miles apart, one huge, the other “small” showing two views of  Goya- one all encompassing, filling the whole lower level of the MFA, one narrowly focused on a rare, complete set of his landmark 80 print, “Los Caprichos,”(once owned by Robert Henri, who reappears below) combined to show the enduring power, importance, relevance and eternal influence of the Spanish Master. Many saw the former, far fewer saw the latter, tucked away in a dining? lecture? room on the second floor of the NAC (Behind hundreds of chairs on one of my visits!). An artist of nightmares, both surreal and all-too-real, the likes of which perhaps only Bosch can equal, who can then turn around and paint with the utmost lyricism, Goya was all about what it is to be human. Take your pick- portraits, historical pieces, landscapes, the otherworldly or the underworldly, children, tapestries, or his graphic works that hold their own with dare-I-say-Rembrandt, he’ll blow your mind.

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Goya/MFA on the show’s elevator entrance, overlooking Dale Chihuly’s Tree.

Remember My Name. Goya’s Self Portrait casts his all-seeing eye on us 215 years later.

“The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters” from “The Caprichos.” So? Stay up!

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Neither blizzard, nor the furniture(!), kept the Nighthawk from seeing all of Goya’s incredible “Los Caprichos” at the National Arts Club, but I think they tried to.

“Richard Pousette-Dart” (Pace 510 West 25th, Chelsea)- I walked in and was completely captivated by “abstract” Art the way I haven’t been since the Mark Rothko Show at the “Old” Whitney in 1998, which was one of the greatest shows I’ve ever seen. (That’s not comparing.) Don’t be fooled by the apparent geometric simplicity, there is an astounding subtlety to these works that at once feel microscopically considered, often freely rendered, yet globally cohesive. Pousette-Dart had a number of styles, and this show represented one, geometric style, from the 1970’s in both large oils and smaller drawings. For any of those who think that Abstract Expressionism is “easy” to do, go ahead and try creating one of these, the largest is almost 8 foot square, and then see if it has the “Presence” of Dart’s. The amount of work that went into each piece belies their seemingly “simple” composition, is matched by an extraordinary primacy of order, and second only to their transcendent impact. Here, we see Richard Pousette-Dart as the great, “under known” abstract artist. While Pollock & Rothko have grown larger in stature, Pousette -Dart’s name deserves to be right there with theirs. There is only one word to describe this show’s effect- Magical.

Then? There’s never a chair around when you want one. Pousette-Dart @Pace- “Presence, Circle of Night,” 1975-6, center, “Black Circle Time”, 1980, left and “White Circle Time,” 1980, 90″ square each.

“Imploding Black,” 1975, six feet square. Transcendent,

Detail.

“Cerchio di Dante,” 1986, six foot square

Detail of the left side.

“Let me tell you what I wish I’d known
When I was young and dreamed of glory
You have no control
Who lives
Who dies
Who tells your story?”*

“Richard Estes: Painting New York City” (Museum of Art & Design, NYC)- My favorite contemporary artist, and one of the greatest living realists, FINALLY gets an NYC Museum show, and it was worth the wait. A virtual time capsule of NYC from the mid 1960’s to 2015’s astounding “Corner Cafe,” showing the 83 year old Master is still at the height of his considerable power. Oh…Do NOT call him a “photorealist” in my presence! Estes shows us the world we live in as we do not see it, (more on this soon) and so follows in the footsteps of Edward Hopper and Charles Sheeler in advancing American realism while, perhaps, being the first to include the abstraction that is also a part of the real world. A misunderstood painter, in my eyes, who is only just beginning to be really seen, finally.

“Horn & Hardart Automat” 1967. Not since Hopper has a work spoken to me of life in the City like this does.

“Columbus Circle, Maine Monument” 1989. 500 years ago, or 100, they came by ship. Now? They come by bus. Frozen in time, side by side.

“Times Square”, 2004. Nothing captures the experience of the place better than this, though Robert Rauschenberg is capable of giving me a similar feeling (See below).

“I try to make sense of your thousands of pages of writings
You really do write like you’re running out of time.”*

“Picasso: Sculpture” (MoMA)- If he had never done anything besides paint, Picasso would be considered among the all time Masters. But, noooooooooooo… Picasso was, perhaps, the most unique genius in (known) art history in that his genius was among the most restless. He almost never stopped creating, and he never stopped seeking new outlets for his creative vision. Consider- PICASSO HAD NO TRAINING AS A SCULPTOR! NONE. Yet, that didn’t stop him from becoming, perhaps, THE most revolutionary sculptor up to his time. There is so much great work to see in this show, I don’t even know where to start talking about it. “Picasso: Sculpture” shows us the naked face of endlessly creative genius the like the world has never seen. I’ll sum it up by saying virtually all of it is wonderfully selected, though some of the Cubist works here don’t stand up to his paintings, in my opinion, and wonder- When will we see his like, again? The “other” takeaway, for me, is- Oh…MoMA. I miss you. About as much as I miss your “old” building.

Standing “Figure” in Wire, 1928. Unprecedented. Astounding.

“Sylvette,” 1954. “I see you slightly folded…in steel, my dear.” Picasso must have said.

“America Is Hard To See” (Whitney Museum)- I’m saving my thoughts on the “New Whitney” Building, but the opening show in the new place was a wonderful “Welcome Back” to one of the first 3 of NYC”s Big Four Museums and a reminder of it’s world class (and first anywhere) collection of American Art. My personal highlight? The first floor gallery featuring a selection of Hopper Drawings done at the Whitney Studio which predated the Museum, and the absolutely mesmerizing portrait of Museum founder, the indomitable Mrs. Gertrude V. Whitney (also an overlooked sculptor) that looked out at Gansevoort Street, and for my money? SHOULD HAVE BEEN LEFT RIGHT THERE- PERMANENTLY! It wasn’t.

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Frozen in time. Mrs Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney looks out on the new home of the collection she started.

Mrs. Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney by Robert Henri, 1917, with her “Study for the Head of her Titanic Memorial” from 1922, right. Yes. She was a sculptor, too.

Before the First Whitney Museum opened in 1931, there was the Whitney Studio Club, where artists came to draw from the model. See that guy to the left of center rear with the light shining on his bald head? That’s Edward Hopper, a regular. That’s why his estate was left to The Whitney. Litho by Mabel Dwight, 1931.

America is hard to change. Excellent, rarely seen, works by Grant Wood, “Study for Breaking the Prairie” 1939,…

…And Kara Walker, “A Means To An End,” 1995, struck me as serendipitous.

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America: Seen everywhere. Inside- Rothko’s “Four Darks in Red, 1958, Pollock’s “Number 27,” 1950, Chamberlain “Jim,” 1962 & Guston’s “Dial,” 1956…

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…And, Outside- sculpture from one of the countless roof decks.

“And I’m still not trough I ask myself,
what would you do if you had more time
The Lord, in his kindness
He gives me what you always wanted
He gives me more time.”*

I end this section honoring two endlessly creative American “painters,” featured in very very good shows. Like Richard Estes, these two artists also put that “more” time of a long life to superb use. Yes, despite evidence to the contrary, they both consider themselves to be painters. To me, the “lessons” of their lives, how they were able to survive following their star in this country for so long, may prove to be as important as their considerable artistic legacies.

Robert Rauschenberg- Anagrams, Arcadian Retreats, Anagrams:A Pun” (Pace 534 West 25th, Chelsea)- Presaging Photoshop, the late, great Mr. Rauchenberg continues to speak to our times though he, unfortunately, left us almost 7 years ago. Light years ahead of his times, throughout his life, “Anagrams…,” a show of Mr. Rauschenberg’s final development, shows that once again, his work will look “contemporary” for years to come, and more amazingly, I think it will be as relevant as what anyone else is doing at the moment! As I just said, he represents something of an American miracle- an artist who was able to spend virtually his entire life creating EXACTLY what he wanted to, answering to no one but himself. That sure must seem miraculous to today’s American artists. Interestingly, like Mr. Estes, the works here are based on Mr. Rauschenberg’s own photography, to very different results. Unlike Mr. Estes, Mr. Rauschenberg’s are directly transferred to the piece, though with such skill and subtlety they have the effect of melting into the others they’re surrounded by. A surprisingly fresh, visually rich, often beautiful show who’s spell will call me a few more times before it ends on January 16. And then, I will miss it, but it will have changed the way I see the world, like Richard Estes has.

Rauschenberg @ PACE. I just loved this show.

“Frank Stella” (Whitney)- An art mover’s nightmare of a show, the Artist’s helpful hand notated directional markings seen on some of the pieces notwithstanding, it must have been hard for Mr Stella, himself, to narrow his 50-some year career down to one floor at the New Whitney, handsomely displayed in the still-new space. With only one Moby Dick piece in sight, the take away for me is that here is a Triumphant overview of another rare American artist who continues to explore and evolve, fickle times and the “harpoons” of even more fickle critics & collectors be damned. Mr. Stella has devoted his career to the eternal pursuit of finding new possibilities, “new spacial complexities” 2, for the Art Form of painting. Some of these sure look like sculpture, but I’ll bow to what he says on one of the show’s signs- “Q- You still call these paintings? A- Yes. They are, in fact, paintings.” Remarkably, as he closes in on 80 this May 12, Mr. Stella continues to “start over,” as Richard Meier says on the audio guide, eternally following his muse, breaking painting out of 2 dimensions, to lord-only-knows-where-next. In this show’s case? The Journey IS The Destination. Mr. Stella strikes me as a master conceptualist with an endless font of making the unlikely, and especially the unthought-of, real. Forget this show’s afterthought of a catalog, for me, his value, “message” and influence lie in the sheer physical experience of his work- they simply must be seen, and often, walked around like sculpture to be fully appreciated. Who else “paints” like this? If you go, and you should, check out the great quotes from Mr. Stella on the wall signage- “What you see is what you see.” And then some. What I saw was a show to fire your creativity, and inspire you to see new possibilities in anything, if there ever was one. You still have a few days left to see it before it closes after February 7. Then, the art movers get to pack it up and move it out. I would pay to watch that.

50+ years of “starting over.”

“Toto, We’re Not On Canvas, Anymore.” Stella Busts Painting Out.

“Um..A Little Higher On The Right?”

And lest I forget…

 

 

Cubism (The Met No photos permitted.)- TM is on a mission to shore up it’s Modern & Contemporary Art holdings, as we will soon see at The Met, Breuer, but this show featuring works of a promised gift goes a very long way to solidifying TM’s Cubists holdings, and then some. So many strong works by the Masters of Cubism, Picasso, Braque, the underrated Juan Gris, and Leger abound, they made me wonder where TM is going to install them all when they finally get them!

Madame Cezanne (TM No photos permitted.)- Portraits are not the first thing most think of when they think of Cezanne. Many think of his groundbreaking landscapes and genius with color, but this show of his, no doubt long-suffering wife, says as much about this under known muse as it does about Cezanne. The hours she spent posing for him reminds me of “The Man in The Blue Shirt,” by Martin Gayford about sitting for Lucian Freud. The show is a striking look at another side of this master of impressionism, and gives us rare opportunities to see 4 versions of a painting reunited, and Cezanne’s actual sketchbooks. A rare treat for the lover of Impressionism, portraiture and great Art.

China Through The Looking Glass” (TM)- Except for Picasso: Sculpture and Goya’s Los Caprichos, the above shows are painting shows, my true love, but CTTLG is in a category all it’s own. ANY show that can get TM to stay open till Midnight has to make the Nighthawk’s list. After setting the bar high with “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty,” TM’s Costume Institute topped themselves with a spectacle that the 800,000 who saw it will remember almost as long, and which will prove quite a challenge for 2016’s “manus x machina,” or MxM, as I’m calling it to equal, let alone top. I predicted 1 Million will attend it, so GO EARLY (or don’t say I didn’t warn you) & Stay tuned!

“Francis Bacon- Late Paintings” – (Gagosian No photos permitted.) – with one work, a triptych selling for 142 million, I can’t fathom how much 28 are worth, but here was a chance to see that many in one show, focused on the seemingly contemplative, other-worldly “late” Bacon,

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especially after seeing the following (Rembrandt show) on the same day, which brought to mind subtle, fascinating convergences- self-portraits, multiple views, or states, for Rembrandt, diptychs & triptychs for Bacon, among them.

“Rembrandt’s Changing Impressions” (Columbia U.)- In lieu of the “big one” I missed (see below), this was a closer-to-home chance to see 50 or so prints by the Master and a rare chance to see various “states” (versions) of works side by side. A bit light on the most well known of Rembrandt’s etchings, but very worth 4 visits none the less.

Not a triptych. Rembrandt creates 3 masterpieces from one composition.

Chuck Close Recent Paintings” (Pace 534, Chelsea)- I met Mr. Close, briefly, but in spite of the fact that he is one of the greatest portraitists of the 2nd half of the 20th Century+, I know he won’t remember my face. He has Prosopagnosia. He’s ALSO paralyzed and in a wheel chair. I never cease to be absolutely astounded at what he achieves and what new ground he breaks. Already a Master before his brain aneurysm, which would have stopped 99.5% of anyone not named Chuck Close, he’s gone on to create ever new works that continue his life long exploration of his famous “grid technique.” These works add even new elements- new palettes, a new approach to focus and depth of field, and more.

Linda & Mary McCartney “(Gagosian Books)- If they had taken down all the title cards, removed the iconic shots among Linda’s, and you walked in without knowing which work was by who- Linda McCartney, or her and Paul’s daughter, Mary, you’d never know. That’s how amazingly symbiotic the eyes of the two photographers are. They see as one. Walking out, and I say this with nothing but respect, it really felt like Linda had never passed away. That her work continues. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

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The daughter reflects well on her famous mother.

 

George Caleb Bingham” (TM)- The year’s “sleeper” pick. I don’t know if he ever met Mark Twain, but if Mr. T. ever wanted an artist to illustrate “Huck” or “Tom Sawyer?” G.C.B. would get my vote. His work captured what it was to live on the River the way only Twain, himself, has, and makes a contribution to laying the ground work towards defining a truly “American” style of painting, and by the Mid-Nineteenth Century? It was about time! TM’s show reveals him to be something of a predecessor for that other great American 19th C. portraitist, Thomas Eakins, but with a style and a power of his own that still holds up.

“Araki” (Anton Kern, NYC)- He lost his wife…he gets prostate cancer…he says he no longer has sex…Nothing stops the indefatigable, legendary Araki. Don’t let the “casual” taping of the photos to the wall fool you- I found this show striking, poignant, meditative and moving. The images flowed one to the next, sometimes in harmony, sometimes in dissonance, but all of them speak with that sense that only Araki has. Some will say he’s a misogynist. I’m not a woman but I disagree. I see beauty and poetry in his shots of women. Reading some of the press materials on hand, I was struck by his comment that he had sex with most of his models. I couldn’t help wonder- Does that include Bjork? Live long, and much health, Araki.

 

Also lingering in my mind, tormenting me with what I missed, are the ones that got away-

“Late Rembrandt” (Rikjsmuseum, Amsterdam)- I agonized about going. For months. Like I agonize about Frank Gehry at LACMA right now! (Hello, Sponsorship?)

Bjork” (Moma)- Sold out when I went. Bad reviews be damned, I love Bjork.

Overall, it was a good, but not great year. Still, these 17 shows had real staying power and lasting influence. I’m grateful that in NYC, we still have so much to see. As I said a few posts back, I live in mortal fear of missing a great show- Like all those I missed this year because I never knew about them, and still don’t.

As I look back on 2015, the Idea of great Art is what lingers in the mind, inspires, even instructs. The experience, talent and creativity of a great Artist speaks to the highest & best of mankind, in ways the rest of us can, perhaps, relate to, learn from, and even aspire to. As Mr. Pousette-Dart cosmically said-

 

In these times of so much senseless hatred, violence and the worst of human kind on display, we need this more than ever.

*Soundtrack for this post is “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells  Your Story?” from the 2015 album I listened to the most, “Hamilton– Original Broadway Cast Recording,” by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Please send comments, thoughts, feedback or propositions to denizen at nighthawknyc.com.
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This Post was created by Kenn Sava for www.nighthawknyc.com

  1. Remember- Charlie Chaplin, Hitchcock, Fellini, Orson Welles, Akira Kurosawa, Ingmar Bergman or Stanley Kubrick, among others, never won an Oscar for Best Director! I rest my case.
  2. as is said on the audio tour, #508

Yoko Ono & Linda McCartney- Out Of The Long And Winding Shadows

In NYC there are so many shows going on at any given moment, it’s often possible to find strange, not so strange, and/or enlightening connections among the completely randomly scheduled Art Show bedfellows, and I love exploring them! Recently, there were shows of the Art of two of the Beatles spouses up at the same time- with a show of the work of Linda McCartney, and her and Paul’s daughter, Mary McCartney’s photographs Uptown at the Gagosian Bookstore Gallery, and a double show of 3 new works by Yoko Ono in Chelsea (the same 3 pieces were on view in 2 galleries). To boot, she also took out a full page ad in the Village Voice this past week…about crying.

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When I was a kid Asian women, not named Anna May Wong, were seen as quiet, demure, even submissive by most people in the West.

Then along came Yoko Ono on the arm of John Lennon.

“Every man has a woman who loves him
In rain or shine or life or death
If he finds her in this lifetime
He will know when he presses his ear to her breast”*

At first, she seemed quiet, too. She was omnipresent. She appeared to be John’s shadow. But that was mostly because we weren’t familiar with her Art. Most people still aren’t. They took one listen to her music and that was as far as they went.

Art has long been the Beatles “dirty little secret.” People forget, (or would like to), that Paul McCartney paints, John Lennon drew, and had attended the Liverpool College of Art, and both of their famous spouses, among others not famous, are established Artists in their own right. People seemingly didn’t want to know about anything other than the Beatle’s music. Yet, even a casually close look at the Beatles accomplishment shows they were eternally trying to push the envelope creatively. They aspired to “more” than pop music. Just listen to “I Wanna Hold Your Hand,” and “Strawberry Fields Forever” back to back. They aspired to be Artists, and they succeeded more than any other “popular music” group in history, though not in everyone’s mind. Their more “chancier” creations, like the film “Magical Mystery Tour,” which was years ahead of it’s time, got mixed, even bad reviews. Many didn’t get George’s interest in Indian music, and on and on. It was almost like people were saying “shut up and play yer guitar,” to quote Frank Zappa.

Yet all the while, these two Beatles women kept at their craft and followed their own creative voices. Think it’s an accident two Beatles married them? Think again.

In the case of Yoko- She received a lot of  denigration, and worse, from a public who have virtually no experience with the kind of Art she makes, on top of the abuse she received for being “the reason” the Beatles broke up (as absurd as that was). It often seemed like John was one of the few who appreciated her creativity during his lifetime,

“Every woman has a man who loves her
Rise or fall of her life and in death
If she finds him in this life time
She will know when she looks into his eyes”*

It’s already 35 years since John tragically left us way too soon. Still, Yoko has not only survived that horrid death, and all the rest I just mentioned, and carried on, continuously, with her art, her music, her messages, and being her indomitable self.

Artists gonna Art, I say. Her stature continues to rise.

I think she’s one of the most courageous Artists, and women, of our time. Sure, having money no doubt helps, but I bet she still would have kept on keeping on and made her own way, as she was doing before she met John. I bet John would agree and that’s part of why there was “John & Yoko” to begin with.

Linda’s work is well known, well respected and rightly so. Along with Annie Liebovitz, she was one of the first important female rock photo-journalists, even before she became Mrs. Paul McCartney. Oh, yeah…She got a fair bit of grief about that, too. Then, he put her in Wings! HA! (Sing it with me now- “Every woman has a man who loves her…”, above.) Some of her most well-known photos are on display, and available for purchase at prices up to 10,000.00. Right along side are her & Paul’s daughter, Mary’s photos, which are entirely unknown to me. If they had taken down all the title cards, removed the iconic shots among Linda’s, and you walked in without knowing which work was by who- Linda’s or Mary’s, you’d never know. That’s how amazingly symbiotic the eyes of the two photographers are. They see as one.

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Far Left & Far Right are Iconic Linda’s. Who shot the others?

Linda & Mary & Brian & Keith & Kate & Paul

Linda & Mary & Brian & Keith & Kate & Paul

Walking out, and I say this with nothing but respect, it really felt like Linda had never passed away. That her work continues. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

In Chelsea, Yoko’s 3 works (“Stone Piece,” “Line Piece,” “Mend Piece”), with the overall title “The Riverbed,” are beautifully conceived, and largely left to the viewing public to realize. Yes, that’s right- you get to help Yoko realize her Artwork. How cool is that? Her notes say-“RIVERBED is over the river in-between life and death…” I’ve reproduced the rest-

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Line Piece.

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Entrance to “Mend Piece,” with work table and display shelves inside.

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Mend a Cup. Heal the World with your love.

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It reads- “Someone, somewhere in the world loves you”…”It’s me.”

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Parts of the Earth, Mended, with Love.

I watched people lose themselves interacting and creating with the materials provided- string, nails, hammers, scissors and rock in one room at each show, and a pile of broken china, glue, tape, markers on a table with chairs in another room at each location. The participants were of all ages, sexes and races. The shelves for “Mend Piece” in both galleries were stocked full of “reconstructions.” The string “webs” of “Line Piece” were so intricate that they required careful stooping and straddling to navigate the rooms. I came away feeling that Yoko is leaving a legacy among the young, like the Beatles did. This is in addition to the legacy she is creating as an Artist, a female Artist at that, and as a person.

Also, in these shows, she’s breaking down the walls of “What is Art?” and letting everyone in. Art lies in the idea. The Artist is the person realizing it. As such we are all capable of being Artists. And? Art can heal- yourself, even the world!

How beautiful is that?

John Lennon is STILL proud of her. Hopefully now, finally, the rest of us know how right he was about her.

Since she signs everything “I love you,” which is always nice to hear, I’ll reciprocate, since she probably likes hearing it, too-

I love you, too, Yoko.

There…a little piece of the Earth mended. With Love…and Art. Imagine…

*-Soundtrack for this post is “Every Man Has A Woman Who Loves Him” by Yoko Ono, from “Double Fantasy” and published by Sony/ATV Music Publishing Co.

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“Give Me The Hamilton Lottery, Or Give Me Death!”

It’s 25 degrees, but I’m back. This is my fourth try to win the darn Hamilton Lottery. Win, as in being one of 10 people who get a chance to buy two front row tickets for $10.00, each. Say what you say. What? The otherwise cheapest ticket for tonite is $750.00.

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I’m standing at the very end of this line. It stretches some 500 people long two-thirds of the way east down West 46th Street. See that Scientology sign way down the street on the left? The Richard Rogers Theater is directly across the street from it. That’s where I have to get to to get that little piece of paper.

That’s what all these people are freezing their butts off for. A little slip of paper about 2 inches square.

On it, you put your name. Then, you put it in the famous bucket on the famous table and you wait.

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Give Me Lottery, Or Give Me Death! “Watch out for that van, people. We’re STANDING IN THE MIDDLE OF WEST 46th STREET!”

And you freeze your butt off some more, WHILE STANDING IN THE STREET (“Keep the sidewalks clear,” they continuously bull-horn.) before they announce the 10 winners two hours before curtain.

I’ve never seen anything like this. This is as New York as New York gets right now.

Then, you don’t hear your name called, so you walk home unable to feel your fingers. Two pairs of gloves be damned.

and come back and try yet again. Attempt #5. (Later, you will also lose the $1.5 BILLION Powerball.) Cheer up!- “How lucky we are to be alive right now, in the Greatest City in the World!”* remember?

All… to be “in the room where it happens. The room where it happens.”*

Oh…what I go through for Art.

They say “Winning the Hamilton lottery is a spiritual experience.”

Some say the same thing about Scientology.

I may never know that firsthand about either.

*-Soundtrack for this post is “The Room Where It Happens” from, oh, you know….by Lin-Manuel Miranda

Comments are off, but that doesn’t mean I don’t welcome them, thoughts, feedback or propositions. Please send them to denizen@nighthawknyc.com.

 

“I Love You All The Time”*

The original, performed live-

And, now- “THESE ARE THE BEST UNEXPECTED COVERS OF EAGLES OF DEATH METAL’S ‘I LOVE YOU ALL THE TIME” (from VillageVoice.com)

“I love you all the time
I’m never alone, I look at my phone
If I call you up, you’re never at home

I love you all the time

I’m fueled up and high, I’m out with the guys
A smile on my face, no reason to cry

I love you all the time

I can tell by that look in your eye
You’re looking and all you see is another guy
I can tell you’re gonna take your love away

I can tell by that look in your eye
You’re looking and all you see is another guy
I would beg you if I thought it would make you stay

Ce soir c’est le soir et toi avec moi
Et tu viens me voir, tu viens ouh la la

I love you all the time

Tu me réponds pas, ah dis-moi pourquoi
Just say au revoir, again me voilà

I love you all the time

I can tell by that look in your eye
You’re looking and all you see is another guy
I can tell you’re gonna take your love away

I can tell by that look in your eye
You’re looking and all you see is another guy
I would beg if I thought it would make you stay
I would beg if I thought it would make you stay
I would beg if I thought it would make you stay

Ah dis-moi pourquoi
Ah dis-moi pourquoi
Ah dis-moi pourquoi”*

*Soundtrack for this Post is “I Love You All The Time,” by The Eagles of Death Metal,” words & music by Jessie Everett Hughes & Mark Nishita. Published by Imagem US, LLC

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Comments are off, but that doesn’t mean I don’t welcome them, thoughts, feedback or propositions. Please send them to denizen@nighthawknyc.com.

David Bowie Is Free

2:25am. This notification comes across my iPad from the Breaking News App-

“Musician David Bowie has died after an 18-month battle with cancer, spokesman says- @DavidBowieReal”

What?????

It’s the kind of message you read and think, wait. No. I misread that. What?

Then, I see this on CNN, from his son-

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I had no idea he was fighting cancer for the past 18 months. I’m in shock.

It’s one of those moments where his life suddenly becomes “Before,” and the rest will be, sadly, “After.”

2016 isn’t getting off to a great start. We’ve now lost Pierre Boulez and David Bowie in less than a week. I guess God needed a Conductor/Composer and a Musical Visionary for his Orchestra and Band.

Much will, rightfully, be said over the next day, days, weeks, months, years and decades about David Bowie. Many who I know will shed a tear, or more. Yet, maybe, David Bowie himself, said it best in his new song, eerily entitled “Lazarus”-

“Look up here, I’m in heaven I’ve got scars that can’t be seen
I’ve got drama, can’t be stolen
Everybody knows me now”*

David Bowie was a game-changer. He changed music, music performance, style, and? He changed A LOT of people’s lives. There aren’t all that many of them.

My first thoughts about this past took me back to fairly recent history, though, remembering what Morrissey had written about discovering David Bowie, who became a huge influence on him as well in his formative years, in “Autobiography”-

“As David Bowie appears, the child dies. The vision is profound – a sanity heralding the coming of consciousness from someone who – at last! – transcends our gloomy coal-fire existence. David Bowie is detached from everything, yet open to everything; stripped of the notion that both art and life are impossible. He is quite real, impossibly glamorous, fearless, and quite British. How could this possibly be?” (Excerpt From: Morrissey. “Autobiography.” iBooks. By Morrissey, published by Penguin Books.)

Morrissey is typical of people all over the world who were as captivated by this beginning (possibly even becoming driven to “follow him” into music), as liberated by his example, as they are now feel a sudden gaping emptiness by his leaving. Some solace is to be taken in realizing that even cancer did not keep him from creating, giving the world at least two new works- “Lazarus,” and his new album “Blackstar,” which he released only TWO DAYS AGO, on January 8, his 69th Birthday.

Never having seen him in concert, my two closest “encounters” with Mr. Bowie was seeing him across 5th Avenue as I walked South along the front of The Met one day some years back, as he turned and went into one of the elegant small brownstones on the East side of 5th. He was hatless in a long dark coat, and though I’d never seen him before, I remember that he walked with a unique grace. The second was when I was talking with Carlos Alomar, the brilliant guitarist, who I had booked for a recording session in the early 1990’s. Among many other things in Mr. Alomar’s storied career, he co-wrote “Fame” with no less than Mr. Bowie and John Lennon. Speaking with him once, I remember suddenly being distracted by the thought of what that collaboration must have been like. I couldn’t find a segue to ask him without looking like a clown. I booked other musicians who played with Mr. Bowie, and my band did a gig along side an Earl Slick band, before he played with Bowie, on Staten Island, but I never got closer.

But? As it turns out, I may have missed my third, and best chance.

The story goes that Mr. Bowie discovered the band he performs with on “Blackstar” at NYC jazz/dive bar, “55 Bar” on Christopher Street, a place I have haunted down through the years. Maria Schneider, who I wrote about for “Jazziz” Magazine some years ago, suggested Mr. Bowie go and hear the band performing one Monday night in 2014, which happened to be a very good quartet led by the rising jazz star saxophonist Donny McCaslin. A short time later, they became Mr. Bowie’s band for the new album. Of course, I wasn’t there that night. Three strikes and I’m out.

“This way or no way
You know, I’ll be free
Just like that bluebird
Now ain’t that just like me?
Oh I’ll be free
Just like that bluebird
Oh I’ll be free
Ain’t that just like me?”*

And now, he’s left us. Even from the short vantage of a couple hours, it’s obvious that Mr. Bowie was unique in rock. As a performer he seemed to have the something of the resourcefulness and charisma of Chaplin. As a musician, he refused to stand still- he took chances right to the end and risked losing a huge audience, something that very few superstars have the guts to do. As an icon of style, he is still years ahead of his times, and as a composer and lyricist, he resolutely followed his own path, and that led him to fame and fortune, but never at the expense of his vision.

I admire him for all of that.

Most of all, he stood for the “other-ness” so many feel. While we could never hope to achieve the “perfect personna” Mr Bowie seemed to effortlessly conjure from Ziggy through the Thin White Duke, then re-conjure, over and over, he gave us hope, and something to point to.

“Look up here, man, I’m in danger
I’ve got nothing left to lose
I’m so high it makes my brain whirl
Dropped my cell phone down below
Ain’t that just like me?”*

“There! Look at that guy. He’s an outsider, like me, but he’s up there and all these other people here relate to him, too.”

Yeah. He was up there for all these years “with scars that can’t be seen.”*

Who would have thought that David Bowie, a “Hero” to many, was really, just like “us?”

*Soundtrack for this post is “Lazarus” by David Bowie from his new album, “Blackstar.” Showman to the end, I don’t know what could be more fitting than this-

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The 20th Century Is Officially Over- R.I.P. Pierre Boulez

That was my first thought on hearing that the composer and incomparable interpreter of 20th Century music, Pierre Boulez, former Music Director of the New York Philharmonic, from 1971-77,  had passed earlier today, only months after his 90th Birthday celebration. He took a ton of grief for programming 20th Century music at the NY Phil back in the 70’s but he opened up the ears and minds of countless listeners who became lifelong fans, like me. If you were struggling with the “extended tonality” of, or looking to get a toehold into the music of modern composers like Varese, Messiaen (who he studied with), Bartok, Schoenberg, Berg or even Stravinsky, Boulez’ interpretations were often the ones that, finally, opened their doors for you. He brought more pure excitement to these works than anyone had. He seemed to also have uncanny insights into them, perhaps because he knew some of these composers personally, and perhaps because he grew up in Europe after the First and during the Second World War, he understood what those other European Composers had experienced first hand.

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The Hammer of The Master takes up parts of 2 of my shelves. He may be gone, his legacy will endure.

More than anyone else I can think of, including Glenn Gould, he forged my love of 20th Century music, and I will always be grateful to him for that. His recordings- ALL of them- sit on my shelves and are continually rotated on my listening devices.

But, there is more to his legacy than his state of the art recordings of 20th Century music. Much more.

His recordings of the 19th Century French literature- especially Debussy, Ravel & Berlioz, remain benchmarks. As time went on, he added a number of non-Frenchmen, like Mahler, to them, in what are don’t-miss performances. His choice as conductor for the annual Wagner-fest at Bayreuth in 1976, the Centennial of Wagner’s birth, caused a storm of protest, but resulted in, perhaps, the greatest and most memorable modern Cycle of “The Ring” Operas we have. I think as time goes on his recordings of all of these 19th Century works will be regarded the way his 20th Century performances are. After all, there aren’t many conductors who were also great composers who conducted as much in the Stereo & Digital ages as Pierre Boulez, and Leonard Bernstein. Hearing composers conduct the work of others has, and will continue to have, lasting historical importance.

Beyond conducting, Pierre Boulez was also one of the most important composers of the post Second World War era. His music has already made inroads on to concert programs around the world, even without him being personally involved in the program (he basically “retired” a few years back as health issues kept him from conducting). His “Le marteau sans maitre” (The Hammer without a Master) is, perhaps, his most well known work. You can hear in it’s entirety here. His Piano Sonatas are regularly performed and recorded. They are parts of a legacy that appear likely to continue and endure, especially given the countless students and younger musicians he taught or directly influenced.

In some ways, it’s tempting to think of him as Contemporary Music’s European Leonard Bernstein, who I’m sure he knew personally, and who he followed at the New York Phil as Music Director. Their own music couldn’t be more different, though, Lenny’s work seem to get a bit “darker” later. Perhaps, Boulez had a subtle influence on him as well? Probably not.

Even beyond all of this, Boulez founded the French music organization, IRCAM, which includes a wonderful group for performances of contemporary music called the Ensemble InterContemporain (a chamber sized ensemble), and personally conducted them in many memorable performances and recordings. They continue their unique and important mission. IRCAM was a founding part of the renowned Pompidou Center in Paris.

Surely, France will honor Boulez as one of their musical giants. Along with Berlioz, Debussy & Ravel, he has earned a place right along side his Master, the brilliant Olivier Messiaen, in French musical history.

For the rest of the world, though, when people look back and want to hear the music of any 20th Century composer who’s work he recorded, and want to hear it in definitive performances 1, as they say, they will need look no further than the recordings of Pierre Boulez.

And so I say, 20th Century Music is now, Officially, over.

Long may it be played.

Soundtrack for this post is “Le marteau sans maitre,” The Hammer without a Master, by Pierre Boulez. I am, however, posting the following performance of what is my favorite classical work, Bela Bartok’s “Concerto For Orchestra,” conducted by Pierre Boulez in concert in 2003, in Memorium, and to say “Thank you” for turning me on to it, and countless other masterpieces-

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  1. Stravinsky, fortunately, recorded extensively conducting his own music, and those recordings are certainly essential as well.

“Home…

…is where I want to be…”*

I’ve spent most of my life searching for “Home.”

I had it when I was a kid through my early adulthood. Even when I moved away and lived 1,280 miles away in Miami, Florida with my band, I still had a sense of it, though in a radically different way. The five of us shared a large house in the suburbs. We also shared a common purpose, interest and passion. Since then, it’s been something I’ve felt on (for a year when I was married) and off (most of my life since that band and that divorce), except for brief times I got a little bit close to it, but not really, these past 24 years of living mostly on my own in NYC. The holidays seem to crystalize the feeling, since so many people “go home” for whatever holiday they celebrate. They also serve to heighten what’s missing in your life if you’re not one of them. Thank goodness, they’re Officially over!

Yeah. The pattern is easy to see. When I’m living under the same roof as someone else, it feels more like “Home,” but it’s not as simple as that.

“The less we say about it the better
Make it up as we go along”*

What, exactly, is it?

I think it has to do with both feeling free and safe to be yourself as well as being accepted for you- just as you are, by another or others on a reciprocal basis. Yes, the outer environment does play a role. It can nurture who you are, and offer you acceptance, but it can just as easily deny you all of that and fight you every step of the way. Both kinds of environments have given rise to countless great figures in the arts, sciences, sports and politics…every field of endeavor, but the outer environment, alone, doesn’t seem capable of fully providing that sense of “Home.”

“Pick me up and turn me round
I feel numb – born with a weak heart
I guess I must be having fun”*

However, being somewhere that is not nurturing in any way WITH someone can. I think of couples I’ve known who fight all the time, about everything- but breaking up, or that documentary, “Cutie & The Boxer.”

It’s very nice to feel accepted and appreciated by the outside environment. That can be through having a good, well paying job, public acclaim, or even public responsibility. These can lead to wonderfully healthy self-esteem, a heightened sense of fulfillment and belonging. But, I find that they, by themselves are incomplete.

They provide the framework of “Home” but, something’s missing. And, that “something” is what I’ve been seeking for a very long time.

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One Giant Leap – About to Leave “Home” For The Last Time- July 28, 2001

A dwelling consists of four (or more) walls, a roof and a ceiling. In addition to providing protection from the elements, they provide an enclosed space where intimacy can be born, grow and be protected. This is essential to “Home”. I’m sorry to say this, though…and believe me, what I’m about to say is about as hard to hear for no one more than myself…

It’s almost impossible to have this by yourself.

I was reminded of this watching he amazing story of Addie, a young Arizona girl who fought an incredibly hard battle with an antibiotic resistant virus that nearly took her life. One day, early on, when the nurse asked her how she was, she said, “I want to go home.” 1 Think about what she means. Home for Addie is that place where she’s free to be herself, be loved and accepted for being Addie and surrounded by her folks, siblings and friends.

It also brought this home to me-

“Home” is one of the most overlooked and taken for granted things in life, in my opinion. Usually when we have it. When we don’t? Many other things in life suddenly don’t seem to be as important as getting back Home.

“I’m just an animal
Looking for a home”*

I recently saw a doc about a famous WW1 Homing Pigeon. “Don’t call them “courier” Pigeons- they are “Homers,” a current Pigeoneer (a keeper) said. “Their determination to get home is unbelievable.” Wow & Whoa. Sounds familiar. This isn’t only a human instinct! Their determination to get “home” knows no bounds. Some flew threw raging battles and snipers out to stop them. Some were shot or lost limbs, but nothing stopped them. 2 Being nocturnal, I relate to Owls, but I guess I’m also part Homing Pigeon.

Luckily, I’ve had a “Home” before. So, I’ll know it when I find it. And? I will find it. I have no choice.

I’m a “Homer.”

“Home –

is where I want to be

But I guess I’m already there

I come home – she lifted up her wings

I guess that this must be the place

I can’t tell one from another

Did I find you, or you find me?

There was a time

Before we were born

If someone asks, this where I’ll be… where I’ll be.”*

For Addie.

*- Soundtrack for this post is “This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)” by Talking Heads. Music & Lyrics by Tina Weymouth, Jerry Harrison, Chris Frantz & David Byrne, from their 1983 album, “Speaking In Tongues.” Published by Index Music Inc., WB Music Corp.

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This Post was created by Kenn Sava for www.nighthawknyc.com

  1. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/hunting-the-nightmare-bacteria/transcript/
  2. It turns out their “prime motivation” might be…sex.