While practicing piano recently I had a particularly frustrating session working on the Bach fugue I picked up a month or so ago. For a normal practice session I play slowly through the whole piece, or what I have in my hands at that point, noting any trouble spots, and then work on logical sections from start to finish or sometimes the reverse. Sections may be a few measures or more likely eight or 16 or what feels independent. I learned the approach of working from the end backwards from my piano teacher. It helps with memorization and makes it easier to start playing at any point in the score from memory.

During the frustrating practice session I would work through maybe eight measures and by the end my mind would completely wander and lose the notes. Go very slowly, get it right several times, try a slightly faster tempo, and yet fail near the eight measure point. I had some to drink the night before, and considered that as cause, but I also worried that the event last year may be affecting me. Or maybe age? I probably had bad practices years ago and just never had an excuse to go all hypochondriac over it. There have been many sessions since that Bad One, both good and less good.

Locatelli, L’art del Violino, solo part from the first concerto

While commuting I have been listening to Locatelli’s Art of the Violin (see the L’art del Violino scores at IMSLP). I have a relatively inexpensive 4 CD recording with Susanne Lautenbacher that was burned to MP3 and uploaded to Google, so have been getting familiar with the work instead of looking at it on the shelf. Recommended performance. Anyway, I’ll often keep focused on the melody and structure for several minutes, but then wander and start thinking about work or life or whatever. But then maybe I’m just focusing on traffic, which is good. Still, the diminution of attention span is frustrating. I’ve also been listening to and following the score of Elliott Carter’s Piano Sonata (jazzy harmonies with Carter’s complex rhythms and part writing). Dedicated listening is key.

Because of the lack of sustained focus, frequent or just sporadic, I’ve been thinking about meditation, whatever that may be. I guess I’m just trying to sit and think of nothing which is the opposite of focusing on something but it feels like an attempt at controlling my thoughts and so controlling my thoughtfulness. We shall see.

Where was I?

My first visit to Vancouver and Canada proper from Fri 28 Sep to Mon 1 Oct for music shenanigans that changed before departure and became much weirder once the night of the concert arrived but could still be categorized as Shenanigans proper.

The trip was initiated on impulse when we saw that Childish Gambino was closing his last tour there qua Gambino.  Tickets purchased, other tickets purchased, and hotel etc. However comma the week before our weekend there CG broke his foot during a performance and so cut the performance short and cut the Vancouver performance much, much shorter as in “canceled”. Make-up concert is the beginning of December IIRC, so we’ll probably be visiting again. Beautiful, fun city so no regrets.

Fri 28 Sep 2018

Drinks and snack at Cat Cora’s before departure, a tradition since some previous trip I don’t remember when, but do remember that said name sounded made up, and so was as good a choice as any for departure. Wine, cocktail, hummus, and chat with a 76-year-old who was visiting family and needed to get back home for work. Travelers are the best.

(Mid-flight, I glance at the video screen of one of the people in the seats in front of me, voyeurism we’re all guilty of, and see that Sen. Flake has made some ruckus in the senate Judiciary hearing. Everything since has gone to shit, but watching that 12th hour pause in the apocalypse was exuberant. (I’m sorry to even remember it now.).)

Stopover at SeaTac and more snacks at the Dungeoness Seafood House. The general environment has changed from South East to become Pacific Rim/Northwest. (Last Seattle trip was for the Peter Gabriel/Sting concert.) West coast, man. Current pulp sci-fi novel was left on the plane as we arrived in Vancouver and Lyfted it over to the Marriott Pinnacle.

The most holy of crabs, met the next day. He followed Lisa all the way from Louisiana.

Pause at the hotel bar for drinks before going out (over the weekend we had a stopover three times at that bar and the drinks were bad each time, ugh, if the hotel bar is not good I question the hotel). Still, we had a nice confirmation of dinner choices when the bartender recommended the restaurant we had already planned to go to: The Flying Pig in an area called Gastown (how Mad Max!). At Das Fliegende Schwein, waiting for our table, the hostess sent us across the street to the bar at The Lamplighter Public House. There, we chatted with a barfly incredulous at our Presidential Idiot. You and me buddy. Light dinner of shared squid and caprese was perfect.

Sat 29 Sep 2018

Day 2! Cold, light rain, and generally what you expect in the northwest. Sun would be good, but this weather fit the locale nicely.

Brutalist salmon hatchery seen in our park while walkin’

Locally-sourced late-breakfast/early-brunch at Forage–double fried pork sandwich, bison hash, scones for the next morning–to prepare us for our foraging in the wonderfully betreed Stanley Park. As we entered the park we saw one of many groups of people in various rope-based tree climbing competitions. We were promised coyotes and beavers (apparently nocturnally sleeping in their muddy pile of a beaver dam) but ultimately only saw ducks and squirrels and many dog-walkers. I had not dressed for the day, so in the gift shop planted in the middle of the park I picked up a woolen red plaid jacket with elbow patches (Professor Lumberjack!). Near the shop was a display of 8-or-so totem poles carved in the past decade by local artists, each telling the stories of various origins: the art of canoe-making given to local tribes by a water spirit (IIRC?), wolf god be-knighting a family, etc.

Land, sea, and sky

After an hour or so of wanderings around the many isolated park trails, we exited at the water to circle back to civilization and relax at the Cactus Club Cafe. Hot waitresses and a crazy chalkboard filled with inscrutable writings and drawings (ed. Lisa has a pic of the blackboard, need to get it to relive the mania). We continued our day of walking with a walk back through the city and its little neighborhoods: a distinctly asian area with shops and markets, quaint houses, and a Louisiana restaurant called The Holy Crab (see above) that had a crab with a halo as its logo. Eschewing po’ boys and jambalaya, we continued back to the waterfront for local beers and margarita pizza at the TAPshack. Late afternoon, the walk and the time change finally hit us, we had a power nap back at our room at the Pinnacle.

Snafu! from the TAPshack. What does it mean?!?

The evening’s major plans were a swanky dinner at the 11th best restaurant in all of Canada: Hawksworth. It’s also on West Georgia Street, so that’s nice. First stop on the way was the bar at the Fairmont hotel. It had great atmosphere and an excellent Manhattan and, even better, a female pianist who during her set did a loose cover of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off”. On to some of Canada’s 11th best food! I had fretted over not having a nice-yet-casual sport jacket to wear but, though very nice inside, there was a healthy mix of styles from somewhat casual to some very trashy club dresses to proper swanky. Dinner was on fleek. We shared appetizer squid (again) in peanut sauce then a sliced ribeye, haricot vert, carrots, cauliflower gratin. Any steak I have in the future should be ashamed of itself because I think I blacked out from deliciousness.

Back to the hotel and an early end at around 11:30 because we are old.

Sun 30 Sep 2018

Rain rain rain.

This was the day of the Childish Gambino that was not to be but it was still filled with hi-jinx. First was a long walk to breakfast at Cacao 70 Eatery where, sadly, it wasn’t that good. You get a delicious little fruit and chocolate appetizer, and the waitress was soooo nice, but what followed the appetizer and the soooo nice waitress was just meh. Next, the dotted line of walking to the Contemporary Art Gallery took us by The Moose Garage which was a must stop dive bar situation. Very Vortex-like so we were right at home. A wall of old blown-out stereo speakers, be-stickered walls, and music from Donnie Darko (along with, oddly, some 80s hair metal). Coincidentally, the bartender grew up in Adalaide (though he says he would never go back) and we chatted about our recent trip to Sydney and Lisa’s frequent Australia work comings and goings.

Dove Allouche’s works: Petrographie RSM 5 and Surplomb 7, 8, and 9

The Contemporary Art Gallery was much smaller than expected, only two large rooms reminiscent of the The Contemporary Austin, but the featured artist, Dove Allouche, had some stunning pieces that, so complex in their preparation, process, and ultimate expression, I can hardly describe. My best attempt: he sometimes works with old, pre-1900s photographic techniques and, with them, photographs and post-processes molds that grow on paintings, cross-sections of millenia-old stalactites, pearls, and the Paris sewers, using crystals as lenses, crown glass (that I think he created?) as part of the frame, and added hand-drawn tones. The processes’ results were almost overfull with content. The other artist, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, was a tonic to Allouche’s density. She works with short, alliterative phrases that kindof break the words contained. Think Jenny Holzer or Barbara Kruger who, weirdly, I just saw referenced in BoJack Horseman season 2 episode 4.

Other, enumerated wanderings before the plan B concert (and that concert was… oh, jeez, I can’t even…):

Uva Wine and Cocktail Bar around the corner from the gallery. Our first quality wines of the trip, many local, paired with groovy French pop music. A nice British Columbia pinot noir.

Beat Street Records. We had a choice of I think a dozen record stores in the city, most near Gastown which seemed to be hipsville. The only near-purchase I had, I had unfortunately forgotten the name of the album and realized later that it was one of those that I looked at: Pete Rock and CL Smooth’s All Souled Out. Dammit. However, it is a pain flying back with vinyl so, hooray… question mark?

Stop off at the hotel bar across the street from our hotel, because we thought it looked cool but ultimately wasn’t, for some bad wine but delicious house made chips.

Dinner at Taishoken Ramen. Great choice! And five minutes after we sat down as one of maybe three other patrons, it completely filled up and people started lining up out the door. We’re trend-setters. Neat.

One thing Lisa spotted when researching where to go before before our plan B concert (again, oh jeez…) was the Vancouver International Film Festival. Dozens and dozens of films to choose from, I don’t know how we picked what we picked but it was amazing: a Singapore film by the Singaporean director Siew Hua Yeo called A Land Imagined. Generally it was about Chinese guest/slave laborers that come to Singapore to work construction and disappear under suspicious circumstances. A sleep-deprived detective follows the immigrant underground in an attempt to solve the cases. The unifying theme, in a somewhat magic-realist story, was The Ephemeral. Workers without a home and without respect as human beings, land being created that seems to exist outside of any country, sleeplessness, homelessness, lack of self. 5/5. And as if echoing the film, we saw it in a multistoried mall that, like most malls you can think of, was at its end of days.

The DJ cometh

We chose DPR Live based on the fact alone that he’s a Korean rapper. Could be weird; could be fun. I expected maybe a club scene letting the beat drop and having a unique DJ behind him with maybe some odd, Southeast Asian sampling. Instead with DPR (which stands for I am not kidding you: Dream Perfect Regime) we got a teenybopper, ahem, chigga. Think of him as a Korean Justin Bieber (who’s a Canadian. huh). Thinking that he was going to start fashionably late and that the opener would run late, and not that the audience would be 14- and 15-year olds out on a school nite, we arrived to see only the last three songs. Mercifully. The look on the bartender’s face when we arrived and grabbed beers was classic. A worse night he could not have had.

Still, interesting is interesting and we definitely got interesting.

Post “concert” was across the street at the Cinema Public House which, it was assured, there would be no DPRats. Cool scene, man. A very bar bar with cute waitresses that hung with the best snark I could muster and the soundtrack was old school hip hop that was cool but made me more angry at my missed opportunity with the Pete Rock and the CL Smooth and the fact that they were All Souled Out. Still, good bar, yo. Post hip hop was DJ High Toones with some good cuts. And throughout were Temples of Dooms on like seven or eight TVs. Consistency is a virtue.

The end.

Mon 1 Oct 2018

But not.

Flight home but not too early and the reverse layover at SeaTac landed us in The Africa Lounge for drinks and snacks and talks with bar neighbors I don’t specifically remember. The vacation end was not all depressing like most vacation ends are and I credit Canada.

Thanks, Canada!

Not sure where I saw this, but it’s cool.


Updated 5 May 2020

6 Oct 2018, 9:59 AM

No matter what happens with Kavanaugh, despair is not an option. Channel your angry energy into action. Call. Demonstrate. Register. Vote. There will be devastating losses along the way, and from them we recover and learn. We’re taking this fucking country back. Keep going.

6 Oct 2018, 10:59 AM

Older woman crying in photo: “How are we going to find the strength to keep fighting? Are we going to be out here for another 30 years? I don’t have 30 years left.”

Younger woman taking her photo: “I’ll be here. I’ll keep fighting.”

6 Oct 2018, 11:03 AM

NEW: Ramirez statement:
‘The other students … chose to laugh and look the other
way as sexual violence was perpetrated on me by (BK). As I watch many
of the Senators speak & vote … I feel like I’m right back at Yale where half the room is laughing and looking the other way.’

6 Oct 2018, 12:56 PM

Protesters have climbed the stairs of the Capitol chanting “November is coming!”. Hundred present here and across the street in front of SCOTUS.

6 Oct 2018, 1:12 PM

Thousands of anti-Kavanaugh protestors chanting “Vote them out!” Dozens being arrested on East Capitol steps now

6 Oct 2018, 3:46 PM

The screams from the protestors in the Senate are primal.

6 Oct 2018, 4:05 PM

There will be renewed calls for civility. Ignore them. They ask for civility as a way for you to grant them complicity in what they do.

Kavanaugh’s appointment isn’t a step backward. It’s a head-first plunge into an ugly past

6 Oct 2018, 5:48 PM

“What we are witnessing is not a step backwards for America so much as a headlong plunge into a punitive past. Adults must fight this future for the sake of the youngest Americans, who have already lost more than they ever got the chance to know.”

6 Oct 2018, 6:23 PM

What I hope people grasp is that the fight is not only about the win. You fight because it’s the right thing to do. You fight because if it alleviates suffering for just one person, it’s worth it. You fight because if you don’t, if you let them define you, you will lose yourself.

Updated 5 May 2020

I was reminded recently of another tweet Sarah Kendzior posted at the time of the Kavenaugh hearing. In his Washington Post op-ed Trump must be removed. So must his congressional enablers, George Will referenced the T S Eliot poem The Hollow Men. Skewering the Republican Congressmen, Kendzior posted verses from that poem along with images of those pretending to engage in the Kavenaugh accusations at hand, but were obviously not. This was the first time I had heard the poem and it was a moving introduction.


Trump was mocked ruthlessly by Obama et al. at the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

He was corrupt for decades through the 80s and 90s and eventually grew into a dependency on money from Russian oligarchs. They laundered and he ameliorated debts he accrued from exceedingly poor business decisions and kiting loans and generally robbing Peter.

He joined the bloated collection of Republican contestants in the 2016 presidential election with gross absurdity: gliding down an escalator in a gauche-looking hotel lobby in front of a crowd paid for their attendance (to be repeated many times later). John Oliver notably and–regrettably–mocked him and his chances as did everyone. Craven and slightly un-craven presidential-hungry politicians were skewered by him with base taunts. The constituency groomed by Fox News and trash AM Limbaugh decades before in an attempt to destroy liberal policies arose to destroy the ugly conservatives that benefitted, until they didn’t. The golem ate its creators.

Hillary was too much of a policy wonk, too much of a Democrat, and too much of a Clinton.

The results were no less gauche and maybe we deserved it but no we really didn’t I don’t think or at least hope we didn’t. He started his iconoclastic retribution towards Obama childishly enough with a boast (eventually doubled- and tripled-down with cringe-inducing ferocity by his first-of-many press secretaries) that his inauguration crowd was larger than Obama’s. More grave attacks on the previous president’s accomplishments followed. Obamacare, the Iran nuclear deal, the TPP, NAFTA, the Paris Climate Accord, and any number of greater or lesser thorns. For Trump, the bad became the enemy of the good.

Hungry for vengeance against immigrants, Trump attacked Muslims with the protracted attempt at an emergency, short-term travel ban (eventually implemented in part and months after the original request was to expire), a horrific caging of children at the southern border that only grows more horrific, and an attempt to strip citizenship from foreign-born citizens. This all started with a dream of a wall.

In Helsinki, he stated that he trusted Putin over the US intelligence agencies. In front of Putin. In front of a disbelieving world.

Alliances with Europe and Canada were destroyed as new ones were formed with North Korea and Russia.

During the Obama administration, Republicans petulantly held up a Supreme Court nomination, along and with equal importance, many federal judgeship positions. Under Trump the SC position and federal positions have been quickly filled; many of those federal positions filled by the grossly inexperienced. To extend for decades.

Supreme Court Justice Kennedy retired.

The fight for his replacement started from a list provided by the Federalist Society. Going off script, Trump chose a judge who would allow a president to pardon himself, who would eliminate separation of state-level prosecutions when federal pardons are granted, and who–after being investigated for sexual assault in college–declared that the investigation was a product of, though not exclusively, a Clinton conspiracy. His accuser acted with more judicial propriety than him.

The women fought against the nomination and were both inspiring and heart-breaking, echoing the bravery of Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony.

via Bill Clark

I’m not sure where we go from here, but Sarah Kendzior has said from the start that it will get much, much worse. So probably further down.