Monday, April 30, 2007

"Oedipus at Colonus" set

Oedipus at Colonus set
Originally uploaded by madabandon.

This is the set, pre-production. The folding chair sitting incongruously is replaced by a wooden hand-made stool. The hanging textile sculptures are trees. This is the grove of the gods at Colonus, where Oedipus comes to seek his final resting place.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

trees and ramp

hudson landscape

hudson landscape II
Originally uploaded by madabandon.

While traveling up the Hudson on the Metro North to Poughkeepsie, Friday, around 2 pm.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

"Oedipus at Colonus" set (detail)

success and its discontents

The final performance of "Oedipus at Colonus" took place yesterday. We were able to do it in the outdoor theater; the threatened massive rain storms skipped the Hudson Valley, and while it was chilly and overcast, there was still a huge crowd. It was a huge success. The audience seemed mesmerized. Either that or they were drugged, because I know that I froze my tail off sitting there, constantly retuning my drum as the cold temperatures kept dragging the pitch down. Maybe the mass of them created some kind of crowd warmth that kept them from freezing. I was excited and exhausted when it was over. But there was one downside; because of the weather and some mixed-up plans, none of my friends were able to come up from NYC. I thought I didn't care, but afterward, alone on the train heading back to Grand Central, I crashed. Perhaps it was due to the fact that I had no one to share the excitement with once I left Vassar. When I got home I felt lousy. I can't describe it. Some hollowness, and also the sadness that this project, which I've been involved in for the past year-and-a-half, is over.

But the actors were magnificent. The chorus sang their songs with drive and power. The tempos were right. My drum sounded great. The set was awesome, beautiful, powerful. I have some pictures that I will post later.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


rothko tribute
Originally uploaded by madabandon.

Yesterday was an intense day and I am thoroughly tired. I have taken today as a "mental health day" to prepare for my performances tomorrow and friday.

The best thing of all is that my friend's illness looks to be highly treatable with a very good prognosis. I almost shouted with relief when I heard the news. I was very concerned, worried, and sad for my friends. But now the picture looks brighter than what was thought.

And my students performed beautifully. The audience was thrilled. I felt very proud of them and how well they did. And it was nice to get the heartfelt thanks and congratulations from my students and their parents. And one little thing. I don't drop names, but one can surmise that the students of what is considered one of the very best schools in the country come from a pool of highly-accomplished, successful parents. One such parent, a leading figure in international circles, a great artist, told me I was brilliant. I, being one to constantly deflect praise away, said that it was the students who are, not me. "No," he said. "I can see it in what they did tonight. You are brilliant."

I am not one to toot my own horn but this remark, coming from someone of such magnificent accomplishment, felt really good to hear.

So now I will take a rare afternoon nap. I have many things to be thankful for today.

Monday, April 23, 2007


Originally uploaded by madabandon.

This picture makes me miss my Tuna more than ever. And Patsy misses him too. I wonder if she expects him to come back any moment.

I tend to be reserved and not particularly social. Among my friends though I am not shy. And I am very loyal and devoted to my friends. I recently got some very bad news about one of my best friends from college, serious illness in her family. So today I called. It was a happy/sad phone call. I realized that what really makes someone is a true friend is that when we speak, even if we have not spoken for a while (which happens as life gets busier, and people have children and we no longer live so close by one another, etc.), it is as if we had seen each other just a moment ago. She started crying as soon as she heard my voice. And I cried too, though I did so silently. And I know that with that call I was able to give her some comfort today, the comfort of an old familiar voice. I want to help and offering one's ear and heart is the simplest and best way to do so.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


Originally uploaded by madabandon.

I have not posted since Thursday. I simply have not had the time or energy to think about much but the play and the other play and my student concert Tuesday. I in the last forty-eight hours I have driven over 400 miles, upstate and back two days in a row, played and rehearsed in the sun for two afternoons; gone to a party for the birthday of a friend, done my laundry including the bedcover which Mabel pissed on in an unprecedented fit of pique over my absence; continued the Pearle Vision Saga of Utter Incompetence (nope, it's not over yet). I feel very tired today, the result of too much sun, not enough food or sleep, too much driving, and so on. So now I will take a nap. I wanted to ride on the water taxi today, but the sun and my exhaustion won and here I am, at home.

And you don't even want to know about my poor slashed thumb.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


moss (2)
Originally uploaded by madabandon.

I wish I could be like this moss, simply existing on the cracked surface of an old tree. Events would take place, people would come and go, and I would stay, inert, no will or worry or desire or fear.

This has been a very complex week. Each day I have had some kind of difficult situation to deal with, and I feel quite exhausted. Due to my thumb I have not been able to swim, which just makes the stress harder to shrug off. But I must. I must remember detachment. Detachment detachment detachment. But is detachment really possible if I have to convince myself to be detached? Help!

Anyway I don't really have time to pursue these thoughts because there is too much going on with concerts and rehearsals for me to get distracted.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

petty trauma

trees and sky
Originally uploaded by madabandon.

Yesterday evening was a time of petty trauma.

First I seriously cut my left thumb. I mean BAD. I have very sharp knives, was chopping garlic, and it was nasty. But I also have amazingly fast reflexes and no sooner had the knife sliced through my thumbnail than my hand was over my head and firmly clenced in a towel. I have not taken a good look at it, having bandaged it up too quickly. So I did not clean it out but it was bleeding so much it is probably ok.

Then my phone line went dead. My landline. No internet, no email, no phone, at a time that is perhaps the busiest in years. It took a great deal of detective work until I discovered the cause, but in fixing it I was not nice to my throbbing thumb.

It was difficult to sleep last night. I had to keep my thumb up and it hurt a lot. Today it feels painful but I think I will be ok. Good thing I don't have to play piano in these upcoming gigs.

Monday, April 16, 2007

another one bites the dust

Well, the last bastion of experimental music in Manhattan has closed.

It is not a surprise, but it is a sad statement on the transformation a city that celebrated creativity and fostered artistic communion has undergone at the hands of real estate developers and the sanitization of our urban life.

More and more the things that drew me to this city almost twenty years ago are disappearing and I don't recognize the place anymore.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


Hudson, NY
Originally uploaded by madabandon.

I was really enjoying my new fancy lenses in my glasses. Glare disappears. Notice that my eyes are not hidden behind reflections. But the other day I was putting them on and I noticed the right lens had four small cracks. So I went back to Pearle Vision. They said they would order a new lens, but they had to send the glasses out and it would take a week to ten days. I asked if there were any way they could do it faster. On Friday they called and said the glasses were ready. Happy, I retreived them and went off to a rehearsal. Later when I put them on something seemed odd. They no longer had anti-glare coating. And upon closer inspection I discovered that the right lens had little bubbles in it. So I called, and was told that they were EXACTLY the same lenses as before. I finally had to go back and show them the glasses. I told them I wanted a refund. "We can't give you a refund," I was told. I told them I would report the situation to American Express, who would give me a credit and would not give Pearle the money. Suddenly they were all agreeable, and they said they would express-order new lenses and that I should have them in a week or so (In the meantime I called American Express and explained the story to them, and they are suspending the charge, just in case).

I had shown the cracked lens to my regular optician and he told me that they had given me very expensive polycarbonate lenses, and that this type is prone to cracking. They are normally used for people who play contact sports, and he said that I should have gotten normal plastic, which costs about half as much. I was not given a choice at Pearle, though I did wonder why the lenses cost so much.

So if you need glasses DO NOT go to Pearle Vision. You might regret it.

Yesterday, in another flurry of consumerism, I bought a new set of rapidographs (I can't find my old ones); iSkin cover for my MacBook to protect it from spills and crumbs and such; and a paper lantern-thing to cover the bare-bulb light fixture on my ceiling fan (the glass globe thing broke at least a year ago and I have been living with the ugly bare bulb all this time).

Friday, April 13, 2007

a different world

I got my hair cut yesterday evening. I go to this hipster place on Atlantic Avenue. The woman who owns the shop was cutting a young Asian woman's hair. The Asian woman said "I just moved. My parents bought me an apartment." She said that it was in an old converted church. "It's an ok apartment. But I wish I lived in a brownstone. I wanted an apartment in a brownstone."

Thursday, April 12, 2007

home sweet home

trashed lot
Originally uploaded by madabandon.

Well, California, here I come (not!). It's too late in the year for me to do such a drastic move, and I don't have the mental clarity to address such a huge step right now, one of the busiest months in recent memory. I am flattered to be courted, and if this were a different time I would probably jump at this opportunity. But to move to the other side of the country, far away from my family and friends, at this point in my life, seems too hard. I would be going solo, and the only way I can see myself making a move like this is with a partner, or at least if I were not deeply entangled in a relationship. But it is not time to uproot. The one thing that really does entice me is the idea of ridding myself of virtually all my possessions and starting fresh, just me, Mabel and Patsy, my piano, and my music and art. But this may be something I can do this summer anyway. I plan on ridding myself of fifty per-cent of all material possessions. Wish me luck. It's harder than it sounds.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Originally uploaded by madabandon.

I am so busy these days that I can't think clearly. It is not that my days are packed with activity, but rather that my consciousness is engaged with sorting through all the big obligations I have in the next few weeks. Add a relentless headache--day two--and you have a messed-up me. I have not been sleeping well either. The past two nights I've been woken by nightmares so freaky that I've woken up in the middle of the night and never really fall back into a deep sleep.

I don't like to read too much into things, but while walking a very frisky and happy Mabel this morning I was visited by a pigeon, if you know what I mean. Luckily my head was not involved. But the pigeon left its mark on my clean shirt.

Monday, April 09, 2007


Brooklyn Heights Promenade, Looking South
Originally uploaded by madabandon.

It's funny. I live in a neighborhood that is one of the biggest tourist destinations in the city. Every day one sees people with guidebooks walking the tourist walk, looking up, stopping to read descriptions from their books or from the many plaques that decorate the historic buildings here. And the promenade, of course, is stunning. So why is it that I rarely go there? I live two blocks away. I wonder if the people who live on Central Park West find themselves in a similar predicament. When I lived in Park Slope, though, I visited Prospect Park frequently.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

red, white and blue graffiti

red, white and blue graffiti
Originally uploaded by madabandon.

I love this graffiti. I hope that the owner of the garage will leave it there.

I am feeling spacey and my imagination is working vividly so that I feel a bit restless and pulled in many directions, creatively. This is always difficult for me. I am not single-minded in my creativity, and in today's ultra-specialized culture that is something suspicious. We much prefer the idea of a composer who is consumed with writing music every waking moment rather than a composer who would often much rather be drawing or writing or taking photographs or improvising.

When I was in the first grade I won a county-wide art contest with my picture of a horse with colored teeth. My mom had told me that you could infer a horse's age from the teeth, and I interpreted that to mean that the teeth were multicolored. At the time we had a horse and I should have known. But it was not the last time my imagination created my reality. It still does to some extent, and I try to hang on to that.

Tomorrow I have to write a short piece for men's chorus. I have to buy a new ink cartridge for my printer so that I can print my tax forms. It will be a busy week. If my manic energy persists I will coast right through.

Saturday, April 07, 2007


Originally uploaded by madabandon.

It was freezing cold in the country. I was ill prepared. I didn't bring warm enough clothes. So I was a little on edge, feeling cold all the time. But the silence and the beauty were well worth it. I did some work, drew, wrote (words), stared into space, slept. The house phone line was dead so I had no internet connection, which was wonderful.

There was a very busy rehearsal at Vassar most of yesterday, and then I drove back here. Oh, an interesting phone call came on Thursday evening. A school in Oakland, CA, interested in having me come out for interview. The timing could not be worse, as the next three weeks will be insanely busy. I am pondering what to do. I have to call the guy today at some point. I can't bring myself to do it now, for some reason. I guess it is because as you can clearly infer I have not thought about it enough. I certainly do like the Bay Area, though.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


Originally uploaded by madabandon.

I am heading out any minute now.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


Mabel on Promenade
Originally uploaded by madabandon.

Medusa hit it on the head. The woman's compositions were graduates of Purdue University. The adjectival clause and the subject do not agree. That is today's grammar lesson. The prize is this lovely picture of lovely Mabel, who never ceases to amaze me with how sweet and nice she is.

I am feeling what the romantics would call "melancholy." In my pursuit of a kind of detachment, Buddhist-style, I am trying to be objective about my melancholy. In fact, by accepting it, I can find something positive in it, I hope.

Tomorrow early I will head north. Some solitude in the countryside will do me good. I wish I could have gone today, because the weather is so nice.

Monday, April 02, 2007

what's wrong with this?

wall of windows
Originally uploaded by madabandon.

What is wrong with this sentence?

"A graduate of Purdue University, her compositions are eclectic."
(from a member's biography on the website of the American Composers Forum).
Now what's wrong with the picture? Can you tell?

Maybe I am such a grammar vigilante because I teach. And good grammar was expected at home when I was a kid. After all, my mother taught english at various high schools and was a free-lance writer. My grammar is not perfect, but I try always to use language intelligently and coherently.

Mabel got her rabies shot this morning. For the first time in her life she stopped dead across the street from the vet's office; she always was nervous going, but this time she flat-out refused and I had to pick her up and carry her in, which offended her dignity. The vet feels she is too fat and demands that I put her on a diet.

Sunday, April 01, 2007


Originally uploaded by madabandon.

It is "spring break." School is closed until April 10. I will have to finish my taxes. I will go upstate early Wednesday, or maybe late Tuesday. Tonight I am going to Carnegie Hall to hear Pierre-Laurent Aimard, the eclectic virtuoso pianist. It has been a lazy and pleasant weekend. And I actually slept a lot. Miracle.