Saturday, January 22, 2011
Nina Simone was an unstoppable force against racism. She sang and played with soul, but also with the great classical technique of European composers such as Bach. As such, her message could not be denied. I believe the world needed her at that time, and she was carried along in that wave, but with great sacrifice of her personal life.
I just read Nina Simone's autobiography, I put a spell on you. I have always loved her music since I stumbled across it in my teenage years, who knows how, for its great emotion, starting off with Wild is the Wind. I still find her music a constant source of inspiration, and listen to it often, especially to her Live Euro Concerts recordings. There has been so much I've picked up over the years about her life - even just to clear up the confusion of looking through her discography, all the albums she has recorded at various times - I just really wanted to know all about her actual life.
She wrote her autobiography with honesty, and also with her great control and artistry in telling her story. I have really gained an understanding. I found it fascinating how she grew up, that she was a child prodigy, playing for church revivals from the age of six, and how her community supported her. America was divided into black and white at that time. Her destiny was influenced by that fact. Instead of becoming America's first black concert pianist, as her mother wanted, although she did train classically and have that dream, she ended up becoming a voice of change, with a gift and classical background that was impossible to deny. Although she had prodigious talent, the musical institute had never had a black student, let alone a black female student. She was turned down for full scholarship (necessary since she did not have wealth). She ended up singing in a club for money, although her minister mother would never have approved. She was a classical pianist (who had played gospel and church songs growing up) who ended up singing to support herself, and after gaining fame, turned her talent into a weapon to fight for civil rights. I'll post a video of Mississippi Goddam, a song I enjoyed for a long time just for its energy before actually understanding what it was about. It was the first song she wrote for civil rights, which she wrote in a flood of emotion after hearing of black children being blown up in a church in Alabama, and a few other similar events that tipped her over.
I would like to post an excerpt that I find personally fascinating from her autobiography. From I put a spell on you, by Nina Simone (with Stephen Cleary), Ebury Press: 1991, page 91-94:
"After the murder of Medgar Evers, the Alabama bombing and 'Mississippi Goddam' the entire direction of my life shifted, and for the next seven years I was driven by civil rights and the hope of black revolution. I was proud of what I was doing and proud to be part of a movement that was changing history. It made what I did for a living something much more worthwhile. I had started singing because it was a way of earning more money; then fame came along and I began to enjoy the trappings of success, but after a while even they weren't enough, and I got my fulfillment outside of music - from my husband, my daughter, my home. That changed when I started singing for the movement because I justified what I was doing to myself and to the world outside, I could finally answer Momma's great unasked question, 'Why do you sing out in the world when you could be praising God?'
"I needed to be able to answer that question because, although being a performing artist sounded like something grand and wonderful, up to then it felt like just another job. I didn't feel like an 'artist' because the music I played, to which I dedicated my artistry, was so inferior. That was why I put as much of my classical background as I could into the songs I performed and the music I recorded, to give it at least some depth and quality. The world of popular music was nothing compared to the classical world: you didn't have to work as hard, the audiences were too easily pleased, and all they were interested in was the delivery of the lyrics. It seemed like a nothing world to me, and I didn't have much respect for popular audiences because they were so musically ignorant.
"As I became more involved in the movement this attitude I had towards my audiences changed, because I admired what they were achieving for my people so much that the level of their musical education didn't come into it anymore. They gave me respect too, not only for my music - which they loved - but because they understood the stand I was making. They knew I was making sacrifices and running risks just like they were, and we were all in it together. Being a part of this struggle made me feel so good. My music was dedicated to a purpose more important than classical music's pursuit of excellence; it was dedicated to the fight for freedom and the historical destiny of my people. I felt a fierce pride when I thought about what we were all doing together. So if the movement gave me nothing else, it gave me self-respect.
"It was at this time, in the mid-sixties, that I first began to feel the power and spirituality I could connect with when I played in front of an audience. I'd been performing for ten years, but it was only at this time that I felt a kind of state of grace come upon me on those occasions when everything fell into place. At such times I would give a concert that everyone who witnessed it would remember for years, and they would go home afterwards knowing that something very special had happened.
"Those moments are very difficult for a performer to explain. It's like being transported in church; something descends upon you and you are gone, taken away by a spirit that is outside of you. I can only think of one comparison: I went to a bullfight in Barcelona once, not knowing what to expect. I sat in the sun drinking vodka waiting for it to begin and when they got the bull out and killed him I threw up from the mixture of alcohol and shock. It was a Sunday afternoon blood-letting, a real blood-letting. Back in Tryon at revival time people would 'come through' and shout, carry on and foam at the mouth. We'd call it 'blood-letting' but it wasn't - not real blood-letting like it was that Sunday afternoon. I realized then that Spanish people were not much different from black people in America in the Holy Roller Church, and the songs performed by the flamenco musicians were similar to those performed by my people in churches in the black south - all rhythm and emotion. The only difference was they actually killed the bull in Spain, whereas in America they had revival meetings where the death and sacrifice were only symbolic. But it was the same thing, the same sense of being transformed, of celebrating something deep, something very deep. That's what I learned about performing - that it was real, and I had the ability to make people feel on a deep level. It's difficult to describe because it's not something you can analyze; to get near what it's about you have to play it.
"And when you've caught it, when you've got the audience hooked, you always know because it's like electricity hanging in the air. I began to feel it happening and it seemed to me like mass hypnosis - like I was hypnotizing an entire audience to feel a certain way. I was the toreador mesmerizing this bull and I could turn around and walk away, turning my back on this huge animal which I knew would do nothing because I had it under my complete control. And like they did with the toreadors, people came to see me because they knew I was playing close to the edge and one day I might fail. This was how I got my reputation as a live performer, because I went out from the mid-sixties onwards determined to get every audience to enjoy my concerts the way I wanted to, and if they resisted at first I had all the tricks to bewitch them with.
"I know it all sounds a little Californian and wired, but it wasn't like that at all: I had technique, and I used it. To cast the spell over an audience I would start with a song to create a certain mood which I carried into the next song and then on through into the third, until I created a certain climax of feeling and by then they would be hypnotized. To check, I'd stop and do nothing for a moment and I'd hear absolute silence: I'd got them. It was always an uncanny moment. It was as if there was a power source somewhere that we all plugged into, and the bigger the audience the easier it was - as if each person supplied a certain amount of the power. As I moved on from clubs into bigger halls I learned to prepare myself thoroughly: I'd go to the empty hall in the afternoon and walk around to see where the people were sitting, how close they'd be to me at the front and how far away at the back, whether the seats got closer together or further apart, how big the stage was, how the lights were positioned, where the microphones were going to hit - everything. I was especially careful of microphones, taking the trouble to find one that worked for me and throwing away those that didn't. So by the time I got on stage I knew exactly what I was doing.
"Before important concerts I would practise alone for hours at a time, so long sometimes that my arms would seize up completely. There was one period when I was so dissatisfied with drummers that I decided not to use them anymore. So I sat down for days and trained my left hand like a drum; just as I mastered it my arm went paralyzed from all the work it had done. Other times I'd fall asleep at the piano and Andy would have to come and put me to bed. I made sure the musicians in my bands understood the way I was likely to go on stage. My ideal musician was Al Schackman, but there were others who were almost as wonderful - and those that weren't got fired from day one. My bands knew the repertoire of songs I would choose from, but I never gave them a set list until the very last minute - sometimes as we walked out on stage - because the songs I played each night depended on the mood I caught from the audience, the hall and my preparations through the day. When I walked out to play I was super-sensitive and, whilst aware of the crowd, tried to play for myself, have a good time and hope the audience would get pulled into that, as if - like my musicians - they were an extension of me for the time the concert lasted.
"The saddest part of performing was - and still is - that it didn't mean anything once you were off stage. I never felt proud of being a performer or got vain about it, because it mostly came naturally and I didn't feel I completely understood or controlled what happened on stage anyhow. I did my preparations as carefully as possible in order to set the scene, but having done that the rest was difficult to predict. I knew which songs to play, and in what order, but the difference between a good professional show and a great show, one where I would get lost in the music, was impossible to know. It just happened. Whatever it was that happened out there under the lights, it mostly came from God, and I was just a place along the line He was moving on. [my bolding] With civil rights I played on stage for a reason, and when I walked off stage those reasons still existed - they didn't fade away with the applause; and there were always new ideas to discuss, articles to read, speakers to listen to and songs to write. For the first time performing made sense as a part of my life - it was no longer that strange and wonderful two hours out front which only depressed you more when you got back to the dressing room and stared at the paint peeling off the walls and wondered if you'd get any sleep that night."
Look her up on iTunes! Don't miss:
Four Women (Four Women: The Nina Simone Philips Recordings)
To be Young, Gifted and Black (The Very Best of Nina Simone)
Mississippi Goddam (Four Women: The Nina Simone Philips Recordings)
Medley: Moon of Alabama / In Childhood's Bright Endeavour (Live Euro Concerts)
Ain't Got No / I got Life (Live Euro Concerts)
My Baby Just Cares for Me (Live Euro Concerts)
Revolution (Live Euro Concerts)
Who Am I (Live Euro Concerts)
Compensation (Live Euro Concerts)
Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood (Live Euro Concerts)
Just get Live Euro Concerts!!
Friday, January 21, 2011
...and reproduced here!
Caretakers of the Empire State Building announced that the architectural icon recently set a new standard for excellence by becoming the largest commercial purchaser of renewable power in the state.
According to the New York Times, the Empire State Building will purchase over 50 million kilowatt-hours worth of renewable energy certificates annually — enough to cover its yearly electricity consumption.
The two-year renewable energy contract was purchased from carbon offset retailer Green Mountain Energy Company (recently acquired by NRG Energy New Jersey), and will be sourced through wind power facilities.
The iconic building occupies about 2.85 million square feet and is estimated to use approximately 55 million kilowatt-hours of energy each year (Seer Press). By offsetting all of its electricity consumption, the Empire State Building will avoid 100 million pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
That's the equivalent of:
•Nearly every house in New York State turning off all their lights for a week;
•Taking approximately 40 million fewer cab rides; or
•Planting nearly 150,000 trees--more than 6 times the number of trees in Central Park.
In July 2010, the Empire State Building unveiled a $2 million interactive, multi-media sustainability exhibit at the second floor visitor's center, which showcases a $20 million energy retrofit project aimed at educating the millions of people who visit the building every year on the positive global impact of both energy-efficient building and sustainable living practices.
"It was a natural fit for us to combine 100% clean energy with our nearly completed, ground breaking energy efficiency retrofit work,” said Anthony E. Malkin, president of Malkin Holdings which supervises the Empire State Building.
"Clean energy and our nearly 40 percent reduced consumption of watts and BTUs gives us a competitive advantage in attracting the best credit tenants at the best rents," Malkin continued.
"Our program of innovation at the Empire State Building shows simple, replicable, non-proprietary steps for other landlords to follow to be more energy efficient, cleaner and greener."
Saturday, January 15, 2011
This is a National Geographic documentary. I found it at my suberb local video store, it orders in all kinds of TV shows. This is, in short, the true story of the settlement of the Americas, as only now is our culture ready to hear it. I want to hear it! I am the descendant of those who descended into America and Canada. I remember hearing in primary school about how my people killed all the buffalo, some just shot them from trains for "sport".
England at this time is a land tightly coiled with energy, becoming literate, and running out of land. Only the nobles own land, and most people are peasants that work the land, but can't own their own land. Only nobles go hunting for sport. Most of the forest has been cut down to use the wood and free up land. The rivers are now muddy and slow-moving because of all the runoff from farming. They used to flow quickly, and were full of fish. Eventually they were overfished and the people had to turn to the sea for fish for the first time, as they'd killed the freshwater resource. The largest difference which influenced the development of the people in Europe is that the Europeans have the big 5 domesticated animals, animals which happened to be very useful to us due to their natures: horses, pigs, cows, sheep, and goats. The heavy horses and cattle can help plow fields, and also help fields be more productive with their manure.
Anyways, there is alot of info that we don't commonly know, such as that the pigs that the Spanish brought with them when they arrived in the Americas became a major pest, eating the corn that the natives to America were planting in their fields. The Americas were so full of resources, the rivers were described as being more full of fish than water. In America, there was so much space that the animals there roamed in vast herds, and the people there would hunt the buffalo and it gave them all that they needed. But they did burn back forest to create even more rich grassland so the buffalo would "come to them". All the landscape in North America and south America was managed. It's fascinating to see all these civilizations enacted. It's done so well, with actors, giving you a glimpse of life here and there, contrasting, helping you understand who the people actually were for the first time. But even just knowing that the tomato, potato, the turkey, and so on were cultivated in South America over many years, is something we are all not really aware of. They contast visuals of the foods of each people, it's so cool. This is where we have come from.
An amazing graphic that stood out to me, was the "tree-falling" graphic. In Europe, they show the huge area of forest that is felled by people by speeding along a map, and trees falling down domino style as you speed along. This is our way of life. We needed wood for everything. When we got to the Americas, North America especially, we just went nuts there too. We exported wood for money, and again they show the swath of tree falling, over a huge area of the map.
It was interesting too, how we went over to North America, and lived in the fortified villages, stakes all around their villages for protection. Our cattle replaced the buffalo. We came there and took over their landscape with our own. We transplanted apple trees. Biological domination. We wouldn't have been able to take over if it weren't for the accidental destructiveness of the pigs we brought, and the microbes we brought like smallpox, that killed most people. Civilizations of people that had been living for so long, with the ways they had found on both continents, wiped out. They showed the European people, families who never could have owned their own land in Europe, especially in England, boating down the rivers of the New World in wooden boats. My favourite thing though is how they showed the native people, as people. Women laughing and talking. Perhaps we are far away enough from our domination of the New World, that our culture can admit to it. And now we are facing the evil of our own ways-- not to be too dramatic, but we lived unsustainably where we came from, and now we have used up the great bounty of this place. There is no new place to turn. We have to change.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Monday, January 10, 2011
Watch the video.
I've always thought that you can't have highly specialized technological methods for production but then just throw those products in a hole in the ground. If we want to create highly technical products that don't bio-degrade, then we have to use the same amount of care in its disposal.
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Second image: Savannah's painting for Lucan, characterizing him as this manga monster character by Christopher Hart.
The Kaipatiki Project told me to gather the seeds between New Year's and Christmas, and they will grow right away. I gathered the seeds at this time - a year later, no sprouts, so FAIL.
Just now I got a comment -below - about how to do it! (March 2012). Copying it here:
All you need to do it knick the outercasing with a knife and soak the seed in a damp papertowel overnight ( the paper towel should then be dyed yellow in the morning and the seed doubled in size)and then plant ( I remove the rest of the casing, not sure if thats necessary though). The seed will then sprout almost straight away. Has worked a treat for me many a time :)Hope that helps.
I am definitely going to try it.
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
by Lauren Frayer
Zunino Celotto, Getty Images.
"Italy, which uses more than 20 billion plastic bags a year, is starting 2011 with a ban on the non-biodegradable bags.
"Starting Saturday, Italians will have only one answer to the question, "Paper or plastic?"
"Shops and supermarkets across Italy are doling out their last plastic bags today, before a nationwide ban forces them to swap plastic for more environmentally friendly paper or fabric bags.
"Italy is Europe's biggest consumer of plastic bags, using more than 20 billion annually.
"Every year each Italian uses 400 plastic bags, and Italy in total is responsible for 25 percent of all plastic bags that are used and produced in Europe," Eva Alessi, a spokeswoman for the World Wildlife Fund, told Euro News.
"The new ban on plastic bags has been phased in gradually since 2006, when Italian lawmakers first approved the measure. But an original deadline of January 2010 was postponed because of opposition from industry groups, who complained that the ban could create chaos in supermarkets and hurt local plastics manufacturers.
"The full ban will now go into effect on Saturday. It requires all retailers to offer customers only special biodegradable plastic bags, or ones made of paper or fabric. The emphasis is on reusable bags, which the Italian government is promoting as fashionable as well as earth-friendly.
"Sponsored LinksSupporters of the law say plastic bags use too much oil to manufacture and take decades to break down in landfills. The Italian environmental group Legambiente estimates that the plastic bag ban will save Italy 180,000 tons of CO2 emissions, according to The Daily Telegraph.
"This marks a key step forward in the fight against pollution, and it makes us all more responsible in terms of recycling," Italy's environment minister, Stefania Prestigiacomo, told Agence France-Presse.
"Other European cities have implemented similar measures, but Italy's is believed to be the first nationwide ban on plastic bags on the continent. Many countries charge customers for plastic bags."
Monday, January 3, 2011
He said it so much more strongly, but I've always felt this as well! Yay for the spiritual awakening the world is experiencing.
Sunday, January 2, 2011
Basically, Dr. Cynthia Kenyon (Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of California at San Francisco) has experimented scientifically with simpler life forms, one species worms in particular, and has isolated two genes which control aging. The worms she used have under 1000 cells in total, their lifespan is 2 weeks, and they are transparent (C. elegans, a very small roundworm about the size of a comma). The genes present in the worms are also present in us (and in fruit-flies she also uses, and in mice).
DAF-2 causes aging by inhibiting the good work done by DAF-16. DAF-16's role is to repair, etc, accessing genetic material in the nucleus of cells. DAF-2 represses DAF-16 which causes aging. Damaging DAF-2, she has discovered the fountain of youth by discovering the gene which inhibits the repairing "youth" gene, DAF-16. The worms she experimented on not only lived six times longer when DAF-2 was damaged, they also resisted great injury, and illness. The common illnesses of "old age", that a weakened organism will get, cancer, alzheimer's, heart disease were also not experienced. The implications were that we may be able to control the DAF-2 gene in humans (which is called something else, will look it up, possibly transcribe the entire talk), and then the DAF-16 gene already present in us would be able to do its good work and keep us youthful and strong alot longer. If old age were no longer present, we would go on fit and healthy until we expired, due to DNA mutations over time. Or we could get hit by a bus.
One man (with asmart jacket apparently, according to the host) had a smart question as well, about why nature hadn't already created a life-form which used this power to keep organisms young and healthy for longer. Now that was a good question. Dr. Kenyon's answer was that for one, the parent, once they had had their offspring, would be better gone as they competed with the children for resources (very relevant to humans). The other is that, perhaps a stronger worm was not necessary, as it was usually to be killed by a predator after a certain length of time.
When she initially spoke, I noticed that she spoke with passion for the science of what she was doing-- passion for what she was discovering in life. At the same time, I noticed the classic disconnection of this scientific age of the intuitive awareness of the impact of her actions on the world.
Of course the discussion did come around to that. I was listening to a talk by Dr. Cynthia Kenyon on the radio the first time; I could hear awareness in the British professor host, concern for the implications of the research in his tone. He asked about the "social implications" of her work (meaning the impact on people). She first said that she was a scientist, stating the usual disclaimer of her field-- implying that the responsibility for her work was held by someone else specialized to make ethical choices. I ran into this separation all the time in university, by science in particular, my biology textbook stated in the very beginning that it answered only scientific questions, and other questions were reserved for a philosophy class. But when you are talking about deep things such as death, life, and so on, how can these be separated?
Her first personal response was to acknowledge that the Earth's resources were already suffering due to the pressures of overpopulation. Then she followed by saying that in China, where there are also thinking and feeling humans, they manage to use the 1 child policy. The host mentioned that it hadn't been such a great success before turning to questions from the students. I know that in China, there are many problems such as having to kill nearly term babies, or even that there are less girls, because they need a boy to carry on the family name-- so many girl babies are aborted. And the Chinese are sad about only ever being able to have one child.
Shane summed it up succinctly, as always (my husband), when he said that she was just going to carry on her work, and leave it to others to tell people to only have 1 child.
The hose suggested that it could be a solution to choose to not develop this science. Dr. Cynthia Kenyon was thrilled about the implications of her work, and said that although some countries would ban it, there would always be others who would be interested. (So it was going to go forward.)
Dr. Kenyon's thrill about discovering nature was not wrong in itself, but it is the lack of using the whole mind, and conscience, in particular the neglected intuitive mind, that creates a monstrous imbalance. If were were a society which appropriately managed our greater powers, distributing wealth and resources, and also could manage our impact on the environment, this new power could be considered. But are not managing ourselves at all-- that would require intuitive powers of balance. How can we pull the strings of nature even more without listening to her lessons also of balance? We learn what we wish to, and use it how we wish. It is really frightening.
A few days later:
You can't just think in a bubble - like Dr. Cyntha Kenyon with her anti-aging discoveries. Yes, nature is a marvel, but are you adding to the problem, or the solution in our world? Dr. Cynthia has essentially discovered a way to make overpopulation worse on our planet- there was a reason nature had struck that balance. Akinori Ito has used his life and abilities to help the world in which he has found himself.
PS - about anti-aging science and the whole science love affair in general, who wants to have power and control over everything? Then it no longer manages itself, it is just taking on more that we have to now manage and maintain ourselves. Our heart and many body functions currently operated autonomously. Taking over something that is currently managed by Nature is similar to saying No, I want to manage the beating of my heart consciously from now on.
Who wants that worry? (And responsibility.)
"Earlier this week, Mexico City became the second largest metropolis in the Western Hemisphere to outlaw the distribution of plastic shopping bags.
"Hailed as one of the fastest ways to cut down on solid waste, the new ordinance will affect thousands of retail stores and almost 19 million people living in the district and surrounding communities that make up greater Mexico City.
"In good circumstances, high-density polyethylene will take more than 20 years to degrade. In less ideal circumstances (landfills or as general refuse), a bag will take more than 1,000 years to degrade, according to Reusit.com.
"Mexico City is just one more in an ever-growing list of large urban areas banning plastic bags, which are costly to produce, environmentally destructive, and toxic when buried in a landfill.
"In March of 2007, San Francisco enacted an ordinance that gave supermarkets six months and large chain pharmacies about a year to phase out the bags. Los Angeles is set to impose a similar ban if the state of California does not enact a statewide 25-cent fee per bag by July.
"Around the world, plastic bags are either completely banned or significantly taxed in: South Africa, Eritrea, Rwanda, Somalia, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, several cities in India, China, Ireland, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, and Holland. Both the United Kingdom and Australia are considering similar measures.
"People who might like to recycle their plastic bags find that they are unable to mix them in with normal curbside materials. In many cases, bags can be recycled at the store from which they originated, but many doubt that these actually make it to a recycling facility.
"Although recycling bags is on the rise in the United States, an estimated 90 billion thin bags a year, most used to handle produce and groceries, go unrecycled (McClatchy)."
"Editor's Note: The wonderful trend continues, as more and more cities have put bans on plastic bags in place, and other areas follow suit. This post originally appeared on Plastic Pollution Coalition.
"On January 4th, the Marin County Board of Supervisors will vote on a single-use bag ordinance. While it’s certainly not the first of such ordinances to be considered, particularly in California, it is unique in one important way: Marin County plans to rely on a categorical exemption to CEQA (click here for more info) and not prepare an Environmental Impact Report (EIR).
"The City of Oakland attempted a similar approach last year and lost a lawsuit challenging its ordinance on the grounds that it had not done an EIR. In Oakland’s case, however, the city’s bag ordinance simply banned plastic bags.
"Marin County’s ordinance includes a ban on plastic carryout bags and 5-cent charge on paper bags. County supervisors believe that by imposing a charge on paper bags in addition to banning plastic bags, the ordinance neutralizes the argument that if consumers just switch to paper it can be as bad or worse for the environment than plastic, and thus also bypasses the need for an EIR.
"Since most cities and counties view EIRs as a mandatory part of passing a bag ban, and the reports can potentially cost tens (or hundreds) of thousands of dollars for each municipality, other cities will be closely watching what happens in Marin. No doubt the American Chemistry Council will be watching as well. "