I’ll Fly Away

Hello dear friends.  I believe I alluded to some family strife in a previous blog post. I wish I could report that the situation has improved. Sadly, it hasn’t. The last couple of days have been difficult. Of course you all understand that it’s not appropriate for me to go into detail here, as it is family stuff and I don’t want to speak negatively on my blog about people I love and care deeply about, no matter how incredibly frustrated I am. Just pray for us, if you’re so inclined.

For now, I’d like to share a video that I discovered through Fred Hatt’s blog Drawing Life. Fred posted about his photography experiments with the GoPro camera, which captures very cool visual perspectives. Here, a GoPro was strapped to an eagle as it soared through the French Alps. It is absolutely breathtaking; a real “bird’s eye view” that makes we wish I was riding on the eagle’s back, flying away from turmoil, taking in the extraordinary splendor of the earth, without a care in the world. See you all very soon.

Miles Davis Way

Like most big cities, New York has its share of honorary street names. More than it’s share, really. Our city council has re-named so many streets in tribute to famous figures that’s it’s hard to keep track of all of them.  The standard for street re-naming according to the council is “proposed honorees must be individuals who are deceased and of significant importance to New York City.”  The names range from local politicians to military figures to contributors to the arts, academia, sports and finance. The sheer number of them is a testament to the historical and cultural breadth of our throbbing, humming city and how many noteworthy individuals have lived here, worked here, created here, and found inspiration among its people and neighborhoods.

East 110th St is “Tito Puente Way”. West 145th is “A. Philip Randolph Boulevard”. Broadway between 51st and 52nd is “Al Jolson Way”. West 31st St is “Father Mychal F. Judge Street”, in honor of the Fire Department Chaplain who was killed during the 9-11 attacks while administering last rites. These are just a few examples of many. Last week, the city unveiled its newest street honorific; “Miles Davis Way” on 77th Street between West End Avenue and Riverside Drive. The jazz legend lived on the block for 25 years. It’s a cool honor for the man credited with the “birth of the cool”.

For Music Monday I’m posting a 1989 interview with Miles Davis from the 60 Minutes archives. Interviews with Miles Davis are quite rare, as he was not the most accessible or congenial fellow in the music business. However, I found this interview interesting in that you can see flashes of humor in Miles, and a sense that he’s putting us on a bit. And Harry Reasoner, in spite of some rather silly questions, deserves credit for getting the elusive Miles Davis to sit down for a face to face interview at all. They touch on race, music, art, women, and Miles’ past heroin addiction. Also, this isn’t the first time Miles Davis has been the subject of a Music Monday. Here’s my Museworthy post from March 2010 about Kind of Blue.

O’Museworthy

“To be Irish is to know that in the end the world will break your heart.”

– Daniel Patrick Moynihan

In a Dublin Park, light and shade, c. 1895, Walter Frederick Osborne. From the National Gallery of Ireland:

Osborne-DublinPark

Poets. Playwrights. Rebels. Iconoclasts. Wisecrackers. Saints and sinners. Lacemakers, footballers, farmers and whiskey distillers. Full of joy and cynicism at the same time. I would drink to the Irish for St. Patrick’s Day but I’ll be modeling for hours and hours. So I’ll get naked instead. Consider it a tribute to all the Irish bad boys I dated in my younger, more free-spirited years. Troublemakers ;-)

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day, and Happy Music Monday! Here’s a group of fine Irish fellas. Maybe you’ve heard of them :-)

Music, Survival, and 110 Years

It sometimes bothers me that many of the Music Monday posts are obituaries for an acclaimed figure recently lost. But I feel like I can’t help it, because I believe strongly in eulogizing the dead. Life stories are fascinating to me. And if there was ever a person whose life story deserves a tribute here it is Holocaust survivor and classical pianist Alice Herz-Sommer who just passed away at the age of 110. Alice is the subject of an Oscar nominated short documentary The Lady in Number 6, which I really hope wins at the awards ceremony this Sunday.

To describe Alice Herz-Sommer’s life as remarkable would be a spectacular understatement. I am completely in awe of this woman. She carries not an ounce of anger, bitterness, anguish, or sadness. She radiates nothing but joy and gratitude. And the way she speaks about music – Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, etc. – is pure love. From Prague, to a Nazi prison camp, to her apartment in London, here she is, in her own words. RIP Alice, you beautiful extraordinary soul . . .

1964

We Beatles fans have surely been relishing all the “Beatles 50″ hoopla that has built up these last few weeks. Yesterday, February 9th, was the 50th anniversary of the Beatles first appearance on American television on The Ed Sullivan Show. I happen to enjoy commemorating watershed moments, whether they mark points in serious history or popular culture, if only because they add structure and context to our perceptions of place and time, and replenish our memories. Also, I just love history of all sorts.

Over the past fifty years, the Beatles have been the beneficiaries of much mythologizing, fanaticism, and hagiography; deifying treatments that John Lennon himself often repudiated and felt were unwarranted. The elevated status of the Beatles irks some, and as a hard core Beatles fan I can appreciate their opinions. I think much of it has to do with the Beatles serving as a symbolic proxy for Baby Boomers, a generation that has become, fairly or not, a subject of derision in some circles. Nostalgia is great, but it does seem to have a breaking point when people just tire of it all.

It’s fairly futile to quarrel about the Beatles music or whether they are fully deserving of their exalted status, a point of contention which was being disputed on Twitter last night during the CBS Grammy tribute. The larger point, I think, is the Beatles’ fortuitous position in the 60s zeitgeist: four young men who morphed from fresh-faced playful innocence into disillusioned cynicism before the world’s eyes over the course of a mere six years – a mirroring of the world itself during the same transformative period of time. It might be worth examining the significance of the “50th” in terms of 1964 itself. The Beatles on Ed Sullivan was just one notable event in an overall notable year. So what else happened in 1964? A lot. Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law. Cassius Clay beat Sonny Liston to become the heavyweight champion of the world. Shea Stadium was opened and the Polo Grounds were demolished. Three civil rights activists, Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, and Michael Schwerner, were murdered by the Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi,. The Warren Commission report was published. The New York Times Co. v Sullivan Supreme Court ruling upheld the First Amendment. Nelson Mandela was sentenced to life in prison. Dr. Martin Luther King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Ford Motor Compnay unveiled the first Mustang. Jack Ruby was found guilty of assassinating Lee Harvey Oswald. A computer program written in BASIC was run for the first time. Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor got married. And my brother, Chris Hajian, was born on September 29th :-)

Since we’ve all seen the grainy footage of Ed Sullivan introducing the band, extending his arm and hollering “The Beatles!!”, the ensuing screams, and the opening guitar chords jangling away, let’s watch a different video for Music Monday. Here are the Beatles singing sweet harmonies in “This Boy”. The year, of course, is 1964:

A Maestro’s Requiem

If there was ever a Monday that needed to be salvaged with some music, today is the one. I feel totally exhausted from a long day of modeling at the National Academy, which was then compounded by an aggravating evening commute home. Tomorrow I get to do it all over again. So as I rest my weary body, tired feet, and get some red wine into me, I’m more than happy to post the first Music Monday of 2014.

Last week,  the classical music world lost a giant. Claudio Abbado, legendary conductor of La Scala, died at his home in Bologna, Italy at the age of 80. Coincidentally, today also happens to be Mozart’s birthday, so our video is of Abbado conducting Mozart’s “Requiem” with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra and Bavarian and Swedish Radio Choirs. It’s one of the finest renditions I’ve heard. Check out the link above for the maestro’s obituary in the NY Times. His achievements in music are tremendous. And I would add that another great thing  about the man is that his name was Claudio, because we all know that variations of the name “Claud” belong to the coolest people :cool:

Until next time, friends … your tired muse, Claudia.

Art Comes to Life

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Museworthy readers are the best! A stunning and exquisitely made video that is now being circulated around social media was sent to me, ahead of the growing popularity, by our friend in Kentucky, Todd Fife. What can I say? Todd is on the ball :-)

Digital animator and videographer Rino Stefano Tagliafierro uploaded to Vimeo a haunting and, at times, eerie video titled “Beauty” in which famous works of art “come alive” in movement. It has to be seen to be believed. You will easily recognize the Pre-Raphaelites, Bouguereau, and then Caravaggio, where the video takes a dark and gory turn. Caravaggio tends to have that effect! Anyway, I felt I just had to post the video here on Museworthy. So thank you Todd!

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I have a busy weekend ahead. I’m posing for an art class taught by my friend Paul, and I have two memorials to attend: one for a parishioner at my church who lost her battle with cancer, and one at Spring Studio for our dear friend Julia Foote. Also, I haven’t forgotten about Music Mondays! I’ll get back on track very soon. In the meantime, be well friends. See you all in a few days :-)

The Angels Sing

On this Christmas Eve, I want to take a moment to again express my sincere thanks to Museworthy readers who participated in the Art Show and shared it on social media, emailed me with warm correspondence, and all who consistently support this blog. My appreciation never wanes. If anything, it grows stronger. I hope you’ve all been well these past several days since we last met up here.

After attending the Christmas Pageant at my church, where the angels sang, I am home to cut up acorn squash for Christmas dinner tomorrow at Mom’s house, and also prepare a whipped creamy cauliflower thing that I hope I don’t make a mess of :lol:

A video for this Christmas Eve that guarantees to make you smile. I came across it on Twitter and it charmed me to no end. From the adorable 5th graders of Quinhagak, Alaska, along with town residents, this is their special version of the “Hallelujah” chorus, in which they proclaim joy amid the snow, trucks, and dogs of their unique corner of America. I wish all of you a most blessed Christmas. May the spirit of the season fill your hearts with love, peace, promises, and reawakening . . .

Brownie

Helloooo friends! Hope you all had a wonderful weekend. And if you’re experiencing some cold, snowy, sleety winter weather where you are, please stay warm and dry if you can. We should all probably get our shoveling muscles limber. Except me, of course, because I pay the neighborhood kids to do it ;-)

Let’s have a Music Monday, shall we? Saturday, December 7th, marked nine years that my father passed away, so I’d like to honor him with a video I was excited to discover on YouTube. It’s a rare television appearance of the great trumpet player Clifford Brown on the Soupy Sales show. Brown was a huge favorite of my Dad’s, who most of you are aware was himself a trumpeter. Clifford, known affectionately as “Brownie”, was a gifted musician who died tragically as a passenger in a car accident in 1956 at the young age of 25. In his brief career he had already earned the respect of older, seasoned jazz musicians who recognized his incredible talent. One of the things which distinguished Clifford Brown from many of his bebop jazz world contemporaries was his “clean” lifestyle. He never used drugs, rarely drank alcohol, and was a devoted family man. The great saxophonist Sonny Rollins said of Clifford, “He showed me that it was possible to live a good, clean life and still be a good jazz musician”.  Given so many associations of music legends with drug abuse – Jimi Hendrix, Charlie Parker, etc – Clifford Brown’s regular “good guy” conduct is a refreshing departure from the stereotype of the reckless, drug-using tortured soul. A short interview with Clifford takes place at the end of this video, and you can see that he is sweet, soft-spoken, without an ounce of bravado. I wish my father were alive to watch this, as I know he would enjoy it very much. Miss you Dad. RIP :sad:

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I’ll post again in a couple of days and then, on Sunday, the Museworthy Art Show!

Rock the Week

Hey gang! One of my busiest modeling weeks thus far has begun with one day down, four more to go. I worked over in Jersey City today, which went well. A little ride on the PATH train never hurt anybody. Now I’m comfortable at home with feet up, sweatpants on, and a freshly poured glass of wine next to me, posting on my little blog before Game 5 of the World Series starts.

I hope to post again before the weekend, but can’t guarantee. Something tells me you’ll all survive just fine if I don’t. The muse will return. Never fear! For now, here’s a little old school 70s rock and roll for Music Monday to get our toes tapping. From 1971 this is The Faces, with a really young Rod Stewart, doing their song “Bad ‘N’ Ruin” on a BBC television show. I have no idea what’s going on with Ronnie Wood and his toilet seat guitar. Is that thing even plugged in? :lol: Whatever, this is fun stuff. Enjoy everyone, and rock the week!

Beethoven and Brotherly Love

Have I ever mentioned how much I adore my brother and love hanging out with him? Yes, I believe I have :-) Last week Chris and I attended the NY Philharmonic concert at Avery Fisher Hall. The evening’s program was Beethoven’s sublime and transcendent Ninth Symphony. The moment conductor Alan Gilbert strode onto the stage and took his place at the podium you could feel the anticipation filling the air of the sold out hall. New York City native and child of the Philharmonic, Alan Gilbert conducted the hour long Ninth Symphony from memory, with no score in front of him. That’s not uncommon among conductors these days but still it was fabulous to watch.

Chris and I before the concert, outside an illuminated Lincoln Center:

Picture 8

My brother and I share the widely held view that Beethoven’s Ninth (and last) symphony is as close to the musical pinnacle of Western Civilization as it gets. In other words, it is sacred. And scared things often run the risk of being desecrated by the more prosaic arena of popular culture. Case in point: the background of my Twitter page is the Mona Lisa blowing bubblegum. Sorry Leonardo! I’m guilty as charged :lol:

When Beethoven is involved, however, I become a bit protective. For me he’s the untouchable exception, as I am in reverent awe of the man and his music. My protective instincts kick into even higher gear when a Beethoven work is co-opted for undignified purposes. The Ninth Symphony, intended by Beethoven as a paean to humanity and universal love, provides the musical backdrop for the 1988 smash hit action movie “Die Hard”. It also figures prominently in the violent futuristic dystopia of Stanley Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange”, in which the music is contrasted with disturbing images of Nazis. Loudmouthed TV personality Keith Olbermann used the first few bars of the symphony’s 2nd movement as the opening theme for his now defunct MSNBC program. And since we apparently can’t leave Beethoven’s unparalleled genius alone there’s now ” an app for that”. Yes, a Ninth Symphony iPhone app! Okay, so the app doesn’t really bother me and actually seems pretty cool, but Bruce Willis fighting terrorists to “Ode to Joy” is tacky. That’s some degrading bullshit.

I wonder what Beethoven, or any of the giants of artistic creation, would think of their works being treated in such ways. Mona Lisa parodies depicting her as a biker chick, Beethoven symphonies in action movie soundtracks, Vermeer’s Girl With a Pearl Earring taking a “selfie”. Heck maybe the artists wouldn’t be offended much at all. Or maybe they would find such things travesties. We’ll never know.

To conclude this Music Monday, Here are The Beatles performing – what else? – Roll Over Beethoven. Kisses for John xxx :-)

A Trip for Mom

A little Music Monday as a send off for my mother as she embarks on a late summer sojourn in France. She is leaving tomorrow for painting and touring in Provence and Paris.  To say she’s excited would be a huge understatement! Mom will be traveling with a group of women and I wish her an absolutely wonderful, inspirational, and magnificent time. I also worry about her safety because I’m such a doting daughter. But as long as she stays in touch regularly with her special phone – text, Mom, TEXT! – everything should be okay :-)

In this video we have gorgeous paintings by the French artist Camille Pissarro, both rural and city scenes, accompanied by Chopin’s Mazurka Op. 59 in A minor performed by Michel Block. Lovely.

Bernstein On Brotherhood

Not many people can work references to Beethoven, Aristophanes, the World War I Armistice, conflict in Northern Ireland, Christianity, the prophet Isaiah, Goethe’s “Faust”, King David, and Vietnamese refugees into a mere six minutes of extemporaneous, unscripted monologue. But the great Leonard Bernstein was such a person. Composer, educator, philanthropist, the Massachusetts native and Harvard graduate possessed throughout his life an earnest and attentive disposition to the world around him. In our Music Monday video, Mr. Bernstein shares his thoughtful ruminations after having conducted a recording of Beethoven’s glorious, sublime Ninth Symphony. The starting point for his reflections is Friedrich Schiller’s 1785 poem “Ode to Joy”, the work that inspired Beethoven to compose the Ninth. The relevant themes of love, brotherhood, peace and joy weave their way through Bernstein’s free associations of dates, quotes, and historic events. This was filmed sometime in the late 70s or early 80s I believe. Take it away maestro!

Feeling the Heat

To my fellow east coasters, I hope you’re handling this oppressive heat wave with more dignity than I am. Sure, I’ll admit that I’m walking around the house in a somewhat “indecent” manner, i.e. underwear. And that I cut up half a watermelon and ate it all by myself. I’m also giving my outdoor cats cold bottled “artesian” water stored in the fridge instead of plain old water from the garden hose, because I’m an unapologetic cat-pamperer. And I myself am drinking quite a bit of Mike’s Hard Lemonade, a beverage that one can too easily forget contains alcohol. One minute you’re innocently trying to quench your thirst, and the next you’re feeling an inebriated buzz in the middle of the afternoon and lying around like a useless lump. To paraphrase Dean Wormer from Animal House, “sweaty, drunk, and lethargic is no way to go through life, son”. :lol:

Extreme heat, humidity, and horrible air quality don’t lend themselves to refined behavior. Hot, gross weather makes you feel, well, hot and gross. Even while sitting in church yesterday, I used the paper service program to fan myself as we read from the Book of Common Prayer. So I should try to comport myself with more grace and sophistication, like the lovely woman in this 1912 John William Waterhouse painting Sweet Summer. But look, even she’s doing the partially nude routine. Can you blame her? Go topless girl, it’s hot!

waterhouse-sweet-summer-1912

I was going to post “Heat Wave” by Martha and the Vandelas for Music Monday, but I thought that was too obvious and predictable. Instead, let’s enjoy someone I consider one of the greatest female vocalists of all time. This is the superb Ella Fitzgerald performing George Gershwin’s “Summertime” from the American opera Porgy and Bess. Stay cool, friends!

You Are Beautiful

When your grandfather was a musician, and your mother is a singer and your father is a composer, the odds are pretty good that you’ll be blessed with innate musical ability. These familial gifts were on full display last week at the end of year Talent Show held by my niece Olivia’s 5th grade class. After about 30 minutes of ten year-olds dancing, singing, in some cases hitting off-key notes, getting rattled by nerves, and having to deal with technical microphone issues (bless their hearts, all of those lovely children) our girl came out and absolutely nailed it. I was there, the proud auntie sitting in the audience with eyes tearing up. Yes I cried, I admit it :-)

Filmed on iPhone by her Dad, my brother Chris, this is Olivia Hajian taking the stage at P.S. !66, performing the song “Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera, with composure, sensitivity, and the voice of an angel. Our Music Monday: