Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Live Oak

This is a dirt driveway through the live oaks, at the end of a paved road on the Sound side of Avon, N.C. I had been wandering on the paved road, which has some very old graveyards on it, when I saw the dirt road snaking away through the trees. I felt almost compelled to follow it, but it was a private driveway. This was one of the largest groups of the oaks I had seen.

Live oaks stay green all winter (they are also called evergreen oaks), and were once used for building parts of boat hulls. Getting a straight plank from a live oak is not easy, so they were generally used for large structural parts.

The next photo is from Cumberland Island, and Island that’s been settled by people as far back as local written history goes, and farther than that, based on archeological evidence. Most of it is now part of the National Park system. This is just over the inside dune on the ocean side, where there is a NPS campground entirely under live oaks like these. The live oaks and the campground go up to the dune facing the ocean, and stop. It’s interesting coming in from the beach. You walk down the open beach, climb a wooden boardwalk over the dune and down into the oak grove.

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Charlottesville Mall and the Landmark Hotel

There it is, a tall reminder of the project "in negotiation," due to what usually happens when the bank account goes south for the winter.

While I was setting up to take the picture, I had to explain all this to some curious out-of-towners, assuring them that the building would be finished/used eventually.

In the mean time; perhaps drape it in a sheet and show movies on it? Asheville N.C. does outside free movies in the summer. They’re usually silent flicks with a live pianist providing support. And there are some small orchestral groups that specialize in providing music for “silents.”

Another idea; cover it with a giant rendering of what would be seen if the building was not there at all. With the Mall itself all repaired that “building” is going to begin to stand out.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Easter says you can put truth in a grave, but it won't stay there. ~Clarence W. Hall

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Saturday, April 4, 2009

Chalottesville Downtown Mall Story

The "bag lady" and the other silhouettes on the Charlottesville Mall have stayed put during the recent re-bricking. Things look pretty grim in the above photo, but today it was sunny, warm, and the City had paid a good jazz band to play. So, in spite of the unfinished spots, there was quite a bit of activity.

The following story happened about a month back;

It was about the first warm day and it was sunny at the end of the Downtown Mall, by the Bus station. The Vendors were there with their gear, but it was, for the most part, wool caps and other winter items. I had taken the afternoon off from work and had secured a Washington Post, and found a spot on one of the small benches in front of the City Building.

It wasn’t long before an older man sat down on the bench to the left of mine. He started up a conversation, asking me how old I was. I was having some trouble understanding him, and had to ask him to repeat what he said. His voice was gravelly and weak, but I had decided to hear him out so I kept asking him to repeat things when I hadn’t heard them.

He had been conscripted into the army during the last part of senior high school, as World War II had gone on for a while, and the army was short of fresh troops. He went directly into a rushed basic training. The food at the camp was being cooked by German POW’s, as many had been brought to the U.S. to take on jobs that would normally be done by our own troops. It was the troop shortage problem again.

He was put on a boat, but it took a number of months to make it to France. This was a time when the German submarines were far too effective in attacks on vessels. So, the soldiers were anxious to go ashore. He said that by the time his platoon arrived, the war was being waged elsewhere. By that point the Germans were decimated, and soldiers had tried to blend in and run. All he did was guard duty, night after night.

Towards 4 a.m. on a guard duty, on a very cold night, he was startled when he heard a distinct “click” right behind him. He turned around to see a German, in uniform, pointing his gun towards the ground. The sound was his uncocking the gun. He turned and simply walked away. The story teller said he had plenty of time to shoot him if he had wanted to, since the German was making his way across a muddy open field. But, he saw no point in it.

It was interesting. Since this had sort of cropped up at the end of a longer, wandering narrative, I instinctively felt that it was a true story.

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Fred Frith and Evelyn Glennie

Last year Fred Frith and Evelyn Glennie were resident artists for the UVA Music Department. I missed the concert they did together, but caught Mr. Frith and the UVA Music Students in their concert.

That was a very unusual night in itself. It was evident that students were encouraged to bring improvised instruments. One table appeared to consist of guitar effect pedals, with no instrument as a source. The artifacts of the pedals were the source. The stage was filled with students. There were music stands too, but I think that large areas of time were assigned to pure improvisation. On the other hand, the introduction and ending of the piece was carefully followed from a written score.

Mr. Frith used mostly electric guitars which were either played directly, or bowed with both gut and “electronic” bows. After a while, he slowly moved away from the stage and was gone until the end of the piece, where he once again joined with the others. It was an entertaining performance, and the students appeared to really enjoy the experimentation.

Just recently I decided to look into Evelyn Glennie, and was amazed by some of this percussionist’s accomplishments. What was even more startling was that she became deaf at age 12. After searching a bit, I found some examples of her playing and a lecture she gave for TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design). I’ve included the You Tube material and link to the TED lecture. The TED lecture, where she explains how she learned to listen with her body, is remarkable.

Fred Frith and Evelyn Glennie, from 2007

The TED lecture;

And here's another piece done by Fred Frith/ Iva Bittová/ Pavel Fajt "Morning Song" (1989) . An electronic alarm clock is used as an instrument.

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