Friday, August 31, 2007

old pictures

Originally uploaded by madabandon.

My printer died last weekend and I got this new Canon multifunction unit (scanner, printer, copier etc.) so I have been scanning some old photos. Here is my mother sitting with the carriage driver. My grandparents are sitting in the cab. I never met my grandfather. He died at 55 of a heart attack, a few years before I was born. Everyone always speaks of him in reverential tones, as if he were some sainted man. And he very well may have been. I wish I knew.

I am not sure where the picture was taken but it is most likely in Pennsylvania. My mother grew up in Bethlehem.

Thursday, August 30, 2007


patsy's fangs
Originally uploaded by madabandon.

I am fighting my demons the last few days. For a number of reasons the agonies of depression--in my case, anxiety, paranoia, hypochondria--have mounted a full-scale assault on my psyche. I am utilizing a variety of methods to manage the situation. Last night I just gave in and went to bed for the sleep cure; I slept almost eleven hours, fitfully at times, but don't feel much better right now. I am going to just stay in the moment, moment giving way to the next, and not ponder anything too deeply right now. I am in survival mode. Sounds dramatic, right? But it's also deeply, awfully boring.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

some comments on music

I know he's clever and a wizard in the studio, but I am just not impressed with Beck's music. I can't hear any soul in it.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Originally uploaded by madabandon.

I am not anonymous on my blog because I repeatedly, narcissistically, post photographs, self-portraits. I don't use my full name, or even part of my name, though. But if you read my blog and you have a good memory for faces and you live in Brooklyn, especially the Heights/Cobble Hill/Boerum Hill/Ft Greene area you have undoubtedly seen me at some point.

It doesn't matter really because I don't think there is much that is scandalous in these many many posts. Surprising, perhaps, to some; maybe I reveal things that one might never suspect about me. But I treat my blog like I treat my own history/self: I try not to hide anything, but I am by nature reserved and so I don't run around proclaiming my sexuality, my struggles with depression and bipolar disorder and such. They are essential parts of me. But I am rarely one to proclaim things about myself so publicly. This blog is a big step.

Monday, August 27, 2007


Originally uploaded by madabandon.

I love to cook and I especially love to cook for people who love to eat good food. I think I have serious talent for cooking; both my maternal grandmother and my mother were excellent cooks and I learned a lot just from watching them. I read about food and used to read cookbooks voraciously. I never use recipes but draw upon them for ideas. And one of my best college friends, an old housemate, is now a very successful chef in NYC, and I learned a lot from him. I can figure out how to make most things that I eat in restaurants, unless it involves some super-arcane technique. I guess I have a good imagination for flavor and how flavors combine. I just like the whole process of cooking. It's cool to be able to conceive of something and execute it in such an immediate way, so different than composing.

Anyway the produce at the greenmarkets these days is amazing, perfect even. I bought a huge bunch of mustard greens and fresh garlic and was just preparing them; now they will cook for a long time and rest, and by evening they will be awesome. I was thinking while cooking that if my mom were still alive she and I would probably get along quite well, and I would love to cook these for her. And I felt her presence, then, in me, in a really wonderful way.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

the `hood

red, white and blue graffiti
Originally uploaded by madabandon.

It makes me laugh to call Brooklyn Heights "the `hood." Somehow it does not seem apt. But here I am. Y went to California. His sister will meet him and N there. I was looking at plane fares but I decided to stay here and save my pennies. It's a good thing I did, because today my printer died, and so I will have to buy a new one. They are manufactured to cease functioning relatively quickly, I've found. And periods go by where I don't use it, which doesn't help. But I ordered one of those print/fax/scan/copy machines, a Canon, highly recommended by those in the know.

So I putter around, unused to such weekend solitude. This quality is enhanced by the fact that most sane people have left town, and all that remain...hmmmm. I don't want to speculate.

Friday, August 24, 2007

looking ahead, wistfully

trees sky clouds (abstract)
Originally uploaded by madabandon.

My summer is drawing to a close. August always flies by, in contrast to the slow winding days of June and July. I see glimpses of the year ahead, more of them each day. I run into colleagues whom I have not seen since the end of last school year. I see the occasional kid from school, back from whatever the summer activities were. It is rare that these kids spend the summer in the city.

I am happy to teach and don't dread the start of the school year. The schedule makes me more productive. Too much unscheduled time is not good for my habits. But there will be those hectic days when, by evening, I want to scream at the sky. And here, in the city, I can't very easily do that without making a spectacle of myself.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Originally uploaded by madabandon.

Today my errands took me to the East Village. I used to spend a lot of time there in my early years in the city. Today, maybe because of the extremely cool autumnal weather, the lack of crowds, or something less easy to pinpoint, I felt some of the old charm of the neighborhood. I purposely avoided St. Mark's Place and the spots where new condos are sprouting and stuck to the side streets, where I saw some true East Village characters: an old man in a leather jacket, boombox sitting in his bicycle basket, dancing disco-style on the corner at Avenue A and 7th Street; an old woman pushing her cart full of plastic bags purposefully ahead of her, muttering and smiling; a homeless guy, looked like one of the Tompkins Square Park anarchists of old, being quizzed by a little boy while the boy's hippie-ish father looked on bemused. I felt happy.

Maybe I was in this good mood because last night I took my brother to dinner for his birthday, belatedly but not too much so, and we had a fine and funny time. We went to Alfama, a very charming Portuguese restaurant in the West Village, where I got to chat with the cute and flirty bartender, recently arrived from northern Brazil. He had a kind of innocent friendliness that one doesn't encounter much in the city these days.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Originally uploaded by madabandon.

The alarm went off at seven am. I sensed that it was darker than it normally is at that hour, and went to the window. Lifting the blinds I saw that it was raining very hard. No swimming for me. I went back to bed and slept another hour.

This is the second day I have skipped swimming. I had planned to go yesterday and today. But I am feeling lazy lately, and since school starts the week after Labor Day I need to be lazy while I can do so with impunity.

It is now half past one and it is still raining steadily. Since I had to move the car I went to Fairway. So the day is not a total loss.

So anyone who hoped to find something interesting or thought-provoking here will be disappointed. My existence, at least for now, seems unremarkably mundane.

Monday, August 20, 2007


Originally uploaded by madabandon.

I am back in Brooklyn. The weekend was beautiful, relaxing, a little too cool for much swimming. On the drive up--Friday night--I encountered a ferocious storm in northern Dutchess County and into Columbia County. Torrential rain, wild wind, brilliant lightning. Coming north from Manhattan I could see the lightning up ahead; it created a fantastic light show that captivated me from afar. It was not so captivating once I was in the thick of it. Many cars had pulled off the road, which is famous for its twists and turns and lack of a shoulder so that if you miss a curve, off you hurtle into the woods.

I have driven up this way dozens of times in the last year, and at least half of my trips have featured horrific rainstorms. It is always scary, driving on the Taconic Parkway in those conditions. But I am a good driver and not a daredevil. And lucky.

Friday, August 17, 2007


night swimming (2)
Originally uploaded by madabandon.

This is what I will be doing tonight, I hope, when I am up in the country.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

in memory of Elizabeth Murray

I heard of Elizabeth Murray's death on Monday. I felt sad. I knew she had cancer and so I was not surprised by the news, but I still remember back in my earliest days in NYC, when I spent much of my time in Tribeca, I would see her frequently on the street. You could not miss that head of white hair. At that time I did not much like her work; it seemed to me too flippant. I wanted everything to be Serious. But the respect that other artists had for her was so obvious and so consistent that I ascribed my feelings to a kind of aesthetic difference. But I knew she was the real thing, and she inspired me with how cool she was.

Now as I am getting older I have much more of a feeling for her work, and I admire it on so many levels. But the thing I know most is that back then she struck me as so human, on the street buying vegetables at the little market, or talking energetically on a corner. Paint-splattered artists are an infrequent sight these days.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


books on yellow shelf
Originally uploaded by madabandon.

Back in Brooklyn. Actually I returned on Sunday. Upstate was productive. I returned to working on music. But now I am working on a new kind of thing, writing songs for a band I am putting together. I don't want to reveal much about it, but so far I am very pleased with what is happening.

The weather was conducive to working. Thursday was overcast. Friday it rained heavily most of the day. Saturday was glorious and I spent time at the pool. Sunday was also beautiful, but it was a driving day.

I went swimming this morning. The lifeguard was sleeping. On the way back I went to the farmers' market at Borough Hall and bought kale, tomatoes, and flowers.

Oh, and the big news: yesterday Hammy was neutered, poor guy. But today he acts as if nothing happened and is his usual funny sweet self. Mabel was nearly hysterical when I took him out in his carrier; she gets very upset whenever one of her friends leaves.

Monday, August 13, 2007

clouds at dusk

clouds at dusk
Originally uploaded by madabandon.

The sky on Saturday at dusk upstate was incredible, as you can see here.


Originally uploaded by madabandon.

In the country Mabel likes to sleep on this small sofa. When she is not sleeping she runs around outside, looking for things to eat, digging, and acting like a dog.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

enormous changes at the last minute

Originally uploaded by madabandon.

This is Spencer, my aunt's puppy. He has nothing to do with this post, but he is so cute that I wanted to post his picture here.

Rather than go to Montreal, I am taking advantage of a generous invitation and going back to Hudson for a few days. Montreal was going to be a quick trip, lots of driving and relatively short stay. So I reconsidered, and will go there during the year for a week, giving myself and my traveling companions more time to enjoy ourselves (and also cooler weather, since cities are best enjoyed in times other than summer as far as I am concerned).

So I will have a nice sojourn in my beloved upstate locale, see the horses, cook on the grill, swim in the pool, and generally relax. And a two-hour drive beats a seven-hour drive any time.

Apparently the city is in a mess due to the enormous storms that occurred this morning. I have to say I slept through most of it, which is sort of miraculous, given my usually shallow sleeping patterns. There was a tornado in Bay Ridge, according to what I am hearing. Scary.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Lorimer Street

Lorimer Street
Originally uploaded by madabandon.

Today the sky has that awful color, whitish-yellow-gray, that is the sure sign of choking humidity and bad ozone levels. Thus I feel a little less guilty about skipping my morning swim and staying inside. I took this picture on Sunday in Williamsburg while waiting to get into the concert. I don't know why the sky turns this color, but can only assume that it is due to a large amount of air pollution. Yuck. Also yuck are the hideous cheap-looking condo buildings that are being slapped up around the park. I don't know who is going to buy them now that the hedge funds will start falling like flies. And all that floor-to-ceiling glass, while perhaps enticing, must be awful to actually live with.

The concert on Sunday was interesting. McCarren Pool is a huge city pool, in disrepair, that now is used to hold big party-like events. The crowd was mostly Williamsburg "hipsters" in all their glory, their resurrected 1980s fashions alternately charming and horrifying me, who remembers when these items (OP corduroy shorts, big aviator glasses, Ray-Ban Wayfarers) were ugly the first time around. There were also little families, thirty-something parents with young children in tow; also yuppies slumming, and a fair amount of Eurotrash (some of whom cut the line right behind me and then stood feverishly smoking and speaking sneeringly in French). Inside there were big fans in front of these water machines that cooled the crowd. The sun was blistering hot, but I tried to stay in the shade. Blonde Redhead is an ok band. They are at their best when Kazu is singing; she has an eerie bodiless voice that works well. But when the guy sings they just sound like another dark alternative band, nondescript. There is no bassist; the bass parts are prerecorded, which I find artistically lame. I saw my friend G working and messaged him and we went to the VIP area which was full of people looking self-important with clipboards and two-way radios things.

The first band was really bizarre. I'm From Barcelona is a huge group of Swedes, all of whom--or certainly some of whom--are actual "musicians." They sing anthems, bright and poppy, with singalong refrains and lyrics. Every song they sang was in the same key. The sheer number of people on stage projects a happy atmosphere. It seems to be a trend, started perhaps by The Arcade Fire, to have lots of people on stage even when they are actually musically extraneous. But I remember Stereolab did this years ago. But in their case everyone on stage was actually doing something musically essential. I'm From Barcelona would do well to write some songs in keys other than F major. I thought I would lose my mind after awhile, but I was having too much fun watching all the people around me.

Note: one thing I find I truly can't stand lately is the smell/presence of cigarette smoke. When people around me were smoking I thought I was going to puke. The smell and the heaviness are noxious. And this from one who was for years a die-hard smoker.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

simon says

simon says
Originally uploaded by madabandon.

I went to hear Blonde Redhead at the McCarren Park Pool in Williamsburg. It was crowded, the sun was hot, the music was good, and the people were fun to watch. More later. My battery is about to run out on my Macbook.

Friday, August 03, 2007

the indignities of (age)?

Originally uploaded by madabandon.

Mabel is at the groomer's, getting her pre-travel haircut. I want her to look her best in stylish Montréal next week. While she is there I take advantage of her absence, strange as it is, and do the things that are more easily accomplished without her. For example, the laundry is in process now. She becomes crazed and barks madly when I take the laundry out. She has never outgrown or changed her attitude about laundry--or the trash--since she was young, and clearly I have not done so well as a parent to cure her of that particular quirky anxiety. I also went to the pharmacy to refill my psych meds. She doesn't like coming and going, getting upset each time I leave.

The young hipster boy with the pierced lip and pageboy hairdo waited on me. He took my prescriptions, and after a rather long delay, announced to me that it was too soon for refills; they had just filled them mid-month. I knew that this was not true. I was nearly out of my ________. But I could not offer proof to counter his claim, so I went home thinking that I have slipped so badly into prescription-drug abuse that I have finished more than a month's supply in just a few weeks. How could I have let myself get to this state? I felt distraught and a little sick.

When I got home I checked the pill bottle. The label clearly stated "filled June 18, 2007." Ahah. Of course I wasn't a pill abuser. I would at least know it if I were. Annoyed but also relieved, I called the pharmacy and spoke to the managing pharmacist, who confirmed that my label was correct. So back I went, out onto the steaming street (it was quite hot today). This time I asked Mr. Lipring they fill the two `scrips right then and there. Lipring was apologetic. I said that the best way he could make it up to me was to fill them. Now. I was rather gruff about it, as I can be.

It is easy for me, since I fulfill so many of my daily tasks with my head somewhere else, to imagine that maybe I am a pill-popper. But I am gullible, able to talk myself into the most ridiculous things.

* * * * *

Later: Mabel looks adorable. Y wants me to go to some huge crazy underground party out in Bushwick, but it would be one of those all-night type things, and I think I am just a little too old and a little too sleepy and it's really hot out tonight. So I will pass. But damn. I wanted to do something tonight.

Thursday, August 02, 2007


Originally uploaded by madabandon.

I was up late last night configuring my computer network. I replaced my wireless router with an "airport extreme" base station from Apple, so that I can print wirelessly, have a faster connection, and send things from computer to computer (I have two) more easily. Don't I sound like I am being paid by Apple? All went well, except that as I was carrying my macbook into the office room, I dropped it. Slam! It fell heavily on the ground. And it was on! But miraculously, it seems fine. I am using it now. The cd drive made noises like it was trying to eject something, but I popped a cd in, ejected it, and since then all is well. I even ran a check using Tech Tool Deluxe. The new setup is very fast and I have to say that the airport router is cool looking, with its one glowing green light.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

I always feel a kinship with him...

If poetry has more than its fair share of outsiders, American poetry has some of its oddest. Stevens spent his whole working life as vice-president of an insurance firm in Hartford, Connecticut. He composed some of his greatest poems whilst walking to work and had his secretary type them up. Belonging to no movement, never hanging with any group, with few influences, he is almost a poet sui generis. Stevens was a unique and independent pedestrian amidst the world's flux (or perhaps it's more accurate to say the "flux of being" disclosed as the permanent world), and the enterprise was to fix it poetically in the intensest language. Stevens is the creative outsider operating alone.


another nail in the...

Carnegie Hall is evicting its long-term tenants from the studios where for decades musicians, dancers, writers, and artists have found a creative community. It is yet another resounding nail in the coffin that houses the artistic/cultural community of New York. Greed has no end. Art for "art's sake" is a naive and silly idea, it seems. If you don't have the flash or PR chops to make it in the fast world you are finished. I feel like some sort of dinosaur.