Monday, March 31, 2008
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Saturday, March 22, 2008
what the speaker is referring to is this review in the nytimes, an excerpt:
Camcorder Brings Zen to the Shoot
By DAVID POGUE
Well, this is a little embarrassing. One of the most significant electronics products of the year slipped into the market, became a mega-hit, changed its industry -- and I haven't reviewed it yet.
Lately, my guilt has deepened every time someone whips this thing out to show off. "Look what my first grader did with it all by herself," one guy told me. "We're using them in schools to teach narrative structure," said a teacher at a conference. "I bought two of 'em: one for my 80-year-old grandmother," said a neighbor, "and one for my 5-year-old."
O.K., wait -- what?
It's the Flip: a tiny, stripped-down video recorder the size of a digital camera (but you hold it vertically). And in the year since its invention, it has taken 13 percent of the camcorder market, according to its maker, Pure Digital. The latest model, called the Flip Ultra, had its debut six months ago with slightly improved video quality, greater capacity, a tripod mount and better looks (available in white, black, orange, pink and green). It's been the best-selling camcorder on Amazon.com since the day of its debut.
Now, understanding the appeal of this machine will require you not just to open your mind, but to practically empty it. Because on paper, the Flip looks like a cheesy toy that no self-respecting geek would fool with, let alone a technology columnist.
Friday, March 21, 2008
Growing up in Knickerbocker Village and later in Warbasse I never had my own room. I slept in our one bedroom and my parents slept on a high rise in the living room. I thought I was deprived, but look at this family on Ludlow Street, just a half mile from where I lived as a kid.
from the nytimes of 3/16/08
Living Small, By BONNIE YOCHELSON
THOMAS HOLTON first met the Lam family in 2003 when taking public relations photographs for the University Settlement, an organization that has helped immigrants on the Lower East Side for more than a century. Like thousands of New Yorkers before him, Mr. Holton offered his services to the settlement house as a good-will gesture, but he also had a more personal motive.
Mr. Holton is half Chinese. His father, an American, met his mother in Taiwan after her family fled mainland China in the wake of the Communist revolution. Although Mr. Holton’s grandparents lived in Chinatown when he was growing up on the Upper East Side, he felt like an outsider whenever he visited.
When he met Steven and Shirley Lam and their three young children, Mr. Holton seized the opportunity to get to know them. Visiting once a week over several years, he became part of the household, helping with chores and celebrating holidays and birthdays with the family. In 2004, he accompanied them on a trip to Hong Kong and China.
The Lams’ apartment consists of two rooms at the top of a five-story tenement; on warm days, the roof becomes a playground. The children, Michael, Franklin and Cindy, attend Public School 184, a bilingual school on Cherry Street, and Mr. Lam, who speaks English very well, handles administrative paperwork for an import-export company.
Within their small home, order reigns supreme, and each family member knows his or her part. In a dinnertime portrait, the family forms a line, surrounded by neatly arranged rows of coats, plates and chairs. In another kitchen scene, Mrs. Lam washes the dishes while watching her children play in the bathtub, which sits next to the sink. In the softly lighted bedroom, the multicolored sheets and the Lams’ wedding portrait form a quiet counterpoint to the bustling kitchen.
Mr. Holton’s pictures are on view at the Sasha Wolf Gallery, 10 Leonard Street in TriBeCa, through April 26. Although he no longer photographs the Lams regularly, they stay in touch. Last summer, the family attended his wedding in Groton, Mass., and Cindy was a flower girl.
In looking for reprints of Tomahawk Comics, which I thought would be a good resource to compliment the John Adams' HBO series, I went to Forbidden Planet on Broadway and 13th Street. No such thing, but one of the clerks told me that a store called the Time Machine on 14th Street and 8th Avenue (Roger''s Time Machine
207 W 14th St Second Floor, (212) 691-0380) might have old copies at a reasonable price. Well, what a find that store was. As one reviewer writes, "It's not a place to bring a date," not because it's seedy, but it's a bit on the worn side. Lots of comics in bins, all conditions, all prices. The owner, I think named Roger, was very menschy and when I told him I wasn't a collector, but a teacher, he steered me to a couple of amazingly inexpensive comics that fit the bill. One was a Superman Bicentennial Issue (large format) that had several Tomahawk, American Revolution themed stories. I scanned the first story and cropped it to fit the Google Video player and added some music from the Patriot (forgive me Mel Gibson haters). Here's part one:
Limited Collectors' Edition C47 - 1976
The most awesomest back cover ever--a history of the US presidents! I learned who the presidents were from this cover more than any history class. ...Oh, I guess I should mention the front cover and the insides, shouldn't I?
The front cover re-uses a classic Superman cover by Jack Burnley. That original appears in the new book Superman Cover to Cover as an example one of the finest Superman comic covers.
This book is a bit of a cheat--great front cover, but the insides are all reprints of DC's Tomahawk series. (and not even those cool Tomahawk issues by Frank Thorne with the Kubert/Adams' covers! *Yawn*)
Sorry, I don't mean malign the fine efforts of the writers and artists who crafted all those years of Tomahawk comics. Its just that, if you're gonna call the book Superman Salutes the Bicentennial, it's gotta be Superman doing the saluting.
from crooksandliars 3/19/08
Bill Maher appeared on “Hardball” Wednesday to talk about the 2008 presidential race and delivered a gem about John McCain and his “mental problem” regarding Iraq. He also gave a stellar response to the Wright controversy and whether or not Obama was able to win over the blue-collar crowd.
“We are one terrorist attack away from John McCain…rising in the polls by ten points, because people think, ‘oh, yeah, he is tougher.’ He is not tougher about the war — he’s dumber about the war. He’s dumb about the war because he thinks by keeping troops in the heart of the Muslim world that’s going to help the war on terror. That’s exactly what started the war on terror. That’s why bin Laden was so angry at the us because we had troops in Saudi Arabia. We pulled them out after 9/11, by the way. Of course, we go right back in and plant them in the heart of the Muslim world and build Pizza Huts. That is why young Muslim men want to come here and blow themselves up and kill us. It is not about what happens in Iraq; we need to get out of Iraq — not build bases there.”
the original times' review from 1970
Sometimes you settle for half a loaf. In movie comedy, even a quarter of a loaf will pass for a feast. So if "Where's Poppa?" which opened yesterday at the Coronet Theater, doesn't succeed all the time, or even most of the time, it succeeds often enough, if only by energy and will, to satisfy a taste for comedy that has not had much nourishment this season. And occasionally, when invention, which is in long supply, and execution, which isn't always, get properly together, "Where's Poppa?" becomes a desperately funny film.
The situation will seem familiar enough to post-Oedipal America. George Segal plays a small-time New York lawyer, a dutiful son who lives at home with his ancient mother (Ruth Gordon), whom he would dearly love to dump forever into an old people's home. If he can't do that (and his father's dying request says he can't), he would like to scare her to death. And if he can't do that, and he can't because she is unscarable, he is almost willing to drop her fragile body from an apartment window—so that the mess she would make on the sidewalk below might at least signal an end to the mess she is making of his life.
To speed her on her way, or to get her out of the way, he hires for her a wish-fulfillment nurse (Trish Van Devere), with whom he immediately falls in love—I mean, within the first 10 seconds—and whose lovely presence moves Segal, and the film, to the resolution toward which he, and it, had been tending. The resolution itself is nothing much, and I gather that at this stage the story has been monkeyed with—or at least cut short of a few final indignities.
But for most of its length "Where's Poppa?" deals with an exceptionably viable mixture of local jokes and black comedy that works as well as it does because everybody in the film possesses either enough good humor or outrageous imagination to promote his own worldview.
A kind of benign individualism applies to everybody (except Miss Gordon)—even down to a cheery troop of black youths lounging in Central Park, so they can mug all passers-by, except young women, whom they rape.
All the performances, except that of Miss Gordon, who continues to play old age without conviction, are pretty good. But Trish Van Devere, whom I had never heard of, proves a commedienne of a complexity, precision and gentleness exactly to balance the broad cruelties of "Where's Poppa?" Carl Reiner's direction also balances those cruelties, and he is absolutely at his best with such magical absurdities as the first meeting between George Segal and Miss Van Devere.
Like most New York comedy, "Where's Poppa?" means to score points in its incidental treatment of how we live. But unlike most such comedy, it actually scores a few — as when on Central Park West a Negro lady hails a cab, which almost stops but then drives on to pick up instead a wildly gesticulating giant gorilla.
from the amazon reviews
Where's Poppa is a 1970 black comedy film starring George Segal, Ron Leibman and Ruth Gordon. The plot revolves around the troubled relationship between a lawyer son played by Segal and his senile mother played by Gordon. It was directed by Carl Reiner and son Rob Reiner is featured in an early performance.
The brothers Hocheiser make a solemn promise to their dying father that they will "never put their mother (Ruth Gordon) in a home." But brother Gordon (George Siegel) gets stuck with the old dingbat and she is wrecking his life. His law practice is falling apart, his sex life nonexistent, and he can't even hire a nurse to take care of the wacko. Then, suddenly, a nurse-- the girl of his dreams comes along, but mother has other ideas. This wonderful, creative, hilarious 1970 classic comedy directed by Carl Reiner with its gallows humor could not be made today. We have lost much of our artistic freedom to political correctness, commercial timidity and lack of creative talent. But don't take my word for it, ask Mel Brooks who has remarked that some of his movies could not be made today either. Fortunately we can get the video. The movie does require a somewhat offbeat taste to appreciate. Everything and everyone is in a kind of reality warp, the Hocheiser family, the Central Park muggers, the police, the nurse Louise (Patricia Van Devere). The movie is also comment on life in America in 1970, and on how family members manipulate each other with guilt. Finally, I like the ending the movie was released with, it really does work better artistically.
Anyone who doubts George Segal's place in the first rank of American actors over more than a generation needs to see Where's Papa. As a totally hapless, deadpan character he is far funnier in this hour and a half than lots of celebrated comics (Robin Williams, Chevy Chase)have been throughout their whole career. The courtroom scenes are the wildest ever of their type, as are the ones where Ron Leibman runs through Central Park trying to elude the gang of muggers. They can be likened to a Three Stooges comedy with profanity replacing the slapstick. This humor is more than black and certainly not for the sensitive (or the elderly), but almost 30 years after I first saw it, Robert Klane's script and Segal's performance still leave me incapacitated with laughter
from the nytimes 3/14/08
For Bronx School’s Dancers, the Moves Are Irish, By ELISSA GOOTMAN
Taja Garnett’s parents are from Belize, but her nickname is “Irish girl.”
Ever since Taja, 10, joined the Keltic Dreams, the Irish dance troupe that is the unlikely pride of her Bronx elementary school, she has been so consumed by high kicks, heel clicks and treble hop backs that she practices “on the street, at the bus stop, sometimes at the train station, in the living room, on the bus when I’m standing up and there’s no seats.”
Oh, and also in class. In class? That’s right, with her fingers, she explained, demonstrating the way her index finger acts as the left foot and her middle finger as the right.
“I look at the teacher,” Taja chirped, her eyes gleaming mischievously behind wire-rimmed glasses, “and do it at the same time.”
With a student body that is 71 percent Hispanic and 27 percent black, Public School 59 does not seem an obvious home for a thriving Irish dance troupe. And when Caroline Duggan first arrived from Dublin at age 23 to try her hand as a New York City public school music teacher, it wasn’t. Many of her students had never heard of Ireland. Why, they wanted to know, did she talk funny?
Then, to stave off homesickness, Ms. Duggan hung a “Riverdance” poster in her fifth-floor classroom, and one thing led to another. The children pointed to a long-haired dancer on the poster and asked if it was her. No, she laughed, but I could show you a few steps. The impromptu lesson grew into a wildly popular after-school program and, for the first time last year, a trip to Ireland that still inspires dreamy looks among those lucky enough to go.
“The grass wasn’t like ordinary grass,” recalled Nyiasha Newby, 10. “It was like sparkling and stuff, because the water was on it. It was, like, fresh.”
On a recent afternoon, as cars blaring hip-hop music rolled past P.S. 59, on Bathgate Avenue near 181st Street, and neighbors called to one another in Spanglish, the school auditorium swelled with the soaring sounds of drums, fiddles and uilleann pipes.
Sixty growing feet laced into clunky black shoes spun, kicked and hop-1,2,3’d their way across the stage, in routines that Ms. Duggan, now 29, had choreographed, infusing the traditional Irish dancing she was reared on with elements of hip-hop, salsa and African dance. Toothy smiles mingled with the bitten lips of deep concentration. The Keltic Dreams were at it again.
“It kind of took on a life of its own,” marveled the principal, Christine McHugh.
There was Anna Perez, 10, her hair pulled back into a tight bun, who wants to be a professional Irish dancer when she grows up. There was Alice Olom, 11, rehearsing alongside third-graders even after having moved on to middle school herself.
“There are some people in here that are very, very shy, so I’m here to let them know that shyness is not an option in Irish dancing,” Alice said, her long braids pulled back in a ponytail. “You have to be confident in everything you do.”
For years, Ana Sotomayor, 47, had tried to teach her son, Angel Perez, 11, the salsa moves she had learned growing up in Puerto Rico. For years, she recalled, he had shrugged her off, saying he didn’t like it and couldn’t do it.
But there Angel was, center stage, hands on his hips and baggy jeans flapping as he began a routine with a short solo.
“Every time I see him in a show I cry, because I’m very proud of him,” Ms. Sotomayor said. “He’s very shy, but then when I see him dance I see another Angel, very secure in what he’s doing. He’s very different.”
Parents agree that the dancing has filtered into other aspects of their children’s lives.
“She knows that she has to do good in school to keep up with her Irish dancing,” Maritza Rosa, 42, said of her daughter Karilis Javier, 11.
Ms. Rosa was taken aback when Karilis first mentioned her new hobby.
“I thought she would do, you know, the Latin dance, the merengue, the salsa, the English music that’s here in the Bronx,” she said. “I said, ‘Irish dancing?’ And then I said, well, something different, something new for the kids.”
Now, Ms. Rosa said, she finds herself experimenting with steps. “You see your child perform,” she said, “and you get into it.”
It has not always been easy. In the months leading up to last year’s trip to Ireland, Ms. Duggan had a window into the difficulties in her students’ lives. In her quest to obtain passports, which only a few children had, she navigated tricky immigration issues and helped track down a number of fathers who had not seen their children in years.
One student had a tearful reunion with her father in the back of the school auditorium. Another, an 8-year-old, showed up for rehearsal clutching her passport just weeks before the trip; after months of trying, relatives had finally managed to contact her father in Puerto Rico to get his needed signature.
Ms. Duggan had long feared she would never be able to raise enough money for the Ireland trip. That changed two years ago, after she met Tim O’Connor, then the Irish consul general in New York, who put her in touch with a network of Irish-American New Yorkers. She eventually raised $70,000, enough to take to Ireland 32 students and 19 chaperones, among them Mrs. McHugh, who had never been overseas.
The group performed on Ireland’s “Late Late Show” and at the official residence of the president, Mary McAleese. They were filmed for a documentary, “A Bronx Dream,” which is scheduled to be shown on Irish television on Monday, St. Patrick’s Day.
One of Jesely Salcedo’s favorite memories, though, is of the visit with Ms. Duggan’s mother, who hid foil-covered chocolate leprechauns in her backyard. “We even had our own little treasure hunt,” Jesely, 11, recounted.
Now, Ms. Duggan is struggling to raise money for this year’s trip to Ireland and preparing her young charges for another big day: The St. Patrick’s Day parade in Manhattan on Monday, in which they will march for the first time.
Ms. Duggan has outlasted most of the young teachers she met when she first came to New York, who, like her, had been recruited from overseas to fill shortages. “The administration wasn’t supportive or they didn’t like their school or they missed their family,” she said.
She credits the people of P.S. 59, from Mrs. McHugh — who welcomed her for Christmas Eve dinner in Riverdale one year when she could not afford a ticket home — to students like Jesely, who have embraced Irish dancing as though the culture were their own. Which, in a sense, it now is.
“As I get older I’ll even show my kids, so that way they, like, can spread it around,” Jesely said. “Cause I think like the whole world should know about it.”
from crooks and liars
Chris Matthews was invited to go on the Ellen Degeneres Show and like other guests, encouraged to dance with Ellen into their segment. Tweety was game but the producers may want to reconsider this choice unless Ellen wants to be pawed and dropped by their fatally unfunky guests.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Geraldine Ferraro's free ride from Big Media crunched to a halt in mid-August after she revealed on August 12 that husband John Zaccaro would not be releasing his tax returns. Rep. Ferraro had issued a statement on July 24 promising that Zaccaro's returns as well as her own would be released. That statement said: "I plan to include my husband's financial holdings in that disclosure because my husband and I believe that it is in the public interest to do so and because the office of vice president is one of high public trust."
Ferraro first revealed her withdrawal of that promise on August 10 when she met with the Texas congressional delegation in Washington. It was reported in one sentence in the third paragraph of a story on Page A7 in the Washington Post the next day. Neither the reporter nor the editors realized that Ferraro had dropped a bombshell. They illustrated the story with a photo of Ferraro with this caption: "Rep. Geraldine Ferraro ... plans to release her tax forms." .......
The Naive Landlord
ABC gave John Zaccaro high marks as a landlord, putting on a city official who thought he was a model for others. But it was noted that he had "at least one very embarrassing tenant," Star Distributors. Ltd.. described as "a major supplier of pornographic: magazines and linked with organized crime." It said: "There's no evidence that Zaccaro has had any connection with anyone at Star, other than as a landlord renting storage space. Still, it's an uncomfortable association, and Zaccaro is trying to see what can be done to remove Star from his building."
While this statement was being made by correspondent Steve Shepard, the camera showed packages of porno- graphic magazines sitting on the sidewalk in front of the building within sight of the Zaccaro real estate office. The packages were labeled with such titles as Kink. Bondage Times, Fetish Times, Screw, and Swing Contacts. ABC did not report that Zaccaro had said that he did not know the "exact use" this tenant was making of the space he was renting. (An AP story published August 20 went further saying, "Mrs. Ferraro said her husband did not know the firm was in the pornography business until news accounts of it appeared"}.ABC said Zaccaro was looking into the possibility of evicting the tenant but said that might be difficult legally.
On August 13, Reed Irvine had discussed this at length with George Watson, an ABC News vice president.
Watson thought it reasonable that Zaccaro might not know what was going on in his building until he was told that Zaccaro's own office was only 40 yards away and that the pornographic material was loaded and unloaded on the sidewalk in easy view of any passerby. Irvine had also told Mr. Watson of the gambling den in the Zaccaro building at 68 Mott Street and of the New York Tribune's as yet unpublished discovery that a building at 49 Market Street that had been in the Zaccaro family since 1946 was reported by police to be a hangout for the Bonanno mob.
Here's a scavenger hunt question that anyone can participate in. Given recent media coverage of a certain person displaying questionable intelligence, this building's history echo's another questionable decision made by that same person.
Friday, March 14, 2008
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Thursday, March 06, 2008
great new black history site.
the above movie is from the Columbia Teacher's College site
from the nytimes of 3/6/07
New Medium, Old Stories: A High-Tech Look at the City’s Black History
By GLENN COLLINS
The teeming restaurant was called Downing’s Oyster House, and its 19th-century patrons were bankers, politicians and lawyers. But even as the swells did their deals upstairs, the proprietor, Thomas Downing, a free black man, presided over a far different scene in his basement, a hiding place for escaping slaves.
The establishment, at 5 Broad Street near Wall Street, was a stop on the Underground Railroad — to Canada, and freedom.
Stories about Downing’s — and many other locales and people significant to black history in New York City — have rarely been classroom staples for schoolchildren. But these sagas, presented in text, historical images and interactive maps, are the focus of a new Web site officially unveiled on Wednesday with an acronym, MAAP, that stands for “Mapping the African American Past.”
The Web site, presented by Columbia University at http://www.maap.columbia.edu, uses video, audio and maps and images to showcase 52 historic sites and people in the city, ranging from the familiar (the African Burial Ground in Lower Manhattan) to the rarely acknowledged, including the Oyster House and the Colored Orphan Asylum.
“It gives students an opportunity for detailed study in a way that would never be possible in traditional textbooks,” said Frank A. Moretti, a professor of communications at Teachers College and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
He described the new site as the most extensive Web-based examination of the city’s African-American history. The Web site — a portal to film and music clips, photographs and artwork — is searchable by location and year, back to 1632. Narratives can be podcast through iTunes.
Dr. Moretti said the yearlong project was conceived by Reginald L. Powe, a longtime developer of educational content for publishers and curriculum providers. Mr. Powe’s Manhattan-based company, Creative Curriculum Initiatives, has produced boxed sets of 52 cards (3 ½ inches by 5 inches) depicting historical locations under the rubric “The African Experience in New York.”
“As an African-American interested in history, I found it hard to understand why so much of the city’s African-American past was unknown to students,” Mr. Powe said. “People know little about slave revolts and people burned at the stake — and about inspirational stories of those who advanced against impossible odds.”
A thousand sets of the cards will be made available free to city schools, and they will be offered for sale to the public for $24, which is “the price reputed to have been paid for Manhattan,” Mr. Powe said.
Educators in Columbia’s Center for New Media Teaching and Learning added more information, images and video interviews to the cards in creating the Web site, said Dr. Moretti, who is the center’s executive director. The history project was initially financed with $250,000 from the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, and then Columbia contributed $250,000 in development and staff expenses to produce the Web site and teaching materials, he said.
“Creating lessons on New York history has been a bit of a challenge for many teachers, since there hasn’t been a large market for publishers to create these materials,” said Dr. Margaret S. Crocco, professor and coordinator of social studies education at Teachers College.
As part of the Web site, she directed a team of eight educators at the college to create 24 lesson plans at eighth- and fourth-grade levels that can be downloaded free. The site’s images and information can be dragged, manipulated and otherwise organized by students for projects and teachers creating their own lesson plans.
The Web site is evidence of “the significant awakening of interest in New York’s black history,” said Kenneth T. Jackson, the Jacques Barzun professor of history at Columbia University and the editor in chief of the Encyclopedia of New York City.
“This site should just keep expanding.”
two hundred million people
no two are quite the same
each doing things their own way
each plays a different game
and most agree on some things
but all agree they say
everybody loves a burger
if they can have it fixed their way
america loves burgers and
we're america's burger king
oh yes, america loves burgers and
we're america's burger king
oh, if you love it big
or love em strong
or with everything
or nothing at all
america loves burgers and
we're america's burger king
and we're america's burger king
not for nothing, but I can't stand burgers.
the world would be a healthier and more energy efficient place if we were all vegans
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
the rest of the Piazzolla biography from wikipedia
With the composition of Adiós Nonino in 1959, Piazzolla established a standard structural pattern for his compositions, involving a formal pattern of fast-slow-fast-slow-coda, with the fast sections emphasizing gritty tango rhythms and harsh, angular melodic figures, and the slower sections usually making use of the string instrument in the group and/or Piazzolla's own bandoneon as lyrical soloists. The piano tends to be used throughout as a percussive rhythmic backbone, while the electric guitar either joins in this role or spins filigree improvisations; the double bass parts are usually of little interest, but provide an indispensable rugged thickness to the sound of the ensemble. The quintet of bandoneon, violin, piano, electric guitar and double bass was Piazzolla's preferred setup on two extended occasions during his career, and most critics consider it to be the most successful instrumentation for his works. This is due partly to its great efficiency in terms of sound - it covers or imitates most sections of a symphony orchestra, including the percussion which is improvised by all players on the bodies of their instruments - and the strong expressive identity it permits each individual musician. With a style that is both rugged and intricate, such a setup augments the compositions' inherent characteristics.
Despite the prevalence of the quintet formation and the ABABC compositional structure, Piazzolla consistently experimented with other musical forms and instrumental combinations. In 1965 an album was released containing collaborations between Piazzolla and Jorge Luis Borges where Borges's poetry was narrated over very avant-garde music by Piazzolla including the use of dodecaphonic (twelve-tone) rows, free non-melodic improvisation on all instruments, and modal harmonies and scales. In 1968 Piazzolla wrote and produced an "operita", María de Buenos Aires, that employed a larger ensemble including flute, percussion, multiple strings and three vocalists, and juxtaposed movements in Piazzolla's own style with several pastiche numbers ranging from waltz and hurdy-gurdy to a piano/narrator bar-room scena straight out of Casablanca.
By the 1970s Piazzolla was living in Rome, managed by the Italian agent Aldo Pagani, and exploring a leaner, more fluid musical style drawing on more jazz influence, and with simpler, more continuous forms. Pieces that exemplify this new direction include Libertango and most of the Suite Troileana, written in memory of the late Anibal Troilo. In the 1980s Piazzolla was rich enough, for the first time, to become relatively autonomous artistically, and wrote some of his most ambitious multi-movement works. These included Tango Suite for the virtuoso guitar duo Sergio and Odair Assad; Histoire du Tango, where a flutist and guitarist tell the history of tango in four chunks of music styled at thirty-year intervals; and La Camorra, a suite in three ten minute movements, inspired by the Neapolitan crime family and exploring symphonic concepts of large-scale form, thematic development, contrasts of texture and massive accumulations of ensemble sound. After making three albums in New York with the second quintet and producer Kip Hanrahan, two of which he described on separate occasions as "the greatest thing I've done", he disbanded the quintet, formed a sextet with an extra bandoneon, cello, bass, electric guitar, and piano, and wrote music for this ensemble that was even more adventurous harmonically and structurally than any of his previous works (Preludio y Fuga; Sex-tet). Had he not suffered an incapacitating stroke on the way to Notre Dame mass in 1990, it is likely that he would have continued to use his popularity as a performer of his own works to experiment in relative safety with even more audacious musical techniques, while possibly responding to the surging popularity of non-Western musics by finding ways to incorporate new styles into his own. In his musical professionalism and open-minded attitude to existing styles he held the mindset of an 18th century composing performer such as Handel or Mozart, who were anxious to assimilate all national "flavors" of their day into their own compositions, and who always wrote with both first-hand performing experience and a sense of direct social relationship with their audiences. This may have resulted in a backlash amongst conservative tango aficionados in Argentina, but in the rest of the West it was the key to his extremely sympathetic reception among classical and jazz musicians, both seeing some of the best aspects of their musical practices reflected in his work.
Piazzolla, after leaving Troilo's orchestra in the 1940s, led numerous ensembles beginning with the 1946 Orchestra, the 1955 "Octeto Buenos Aires", the 1960 "First Quintet", the 1971 "Noneto", the 1978 "Second Quintet" and the 1989 "Sextet". As well as providing original compositions and arrangements, he was the director and Bandoneon player in all of them. He also recorded the album Summit with jazz baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan. His numerous compositions include orchestral work such as the "Concierto para Bandoneón, Orquesta, Cuerdas y Percusión", "Doble-Concierto para Bandoneón y Guitarra", "Tres Tangos Sinfónicos" and "Concierto de Nácar para 9 Tanguistas y Orquesta", pieces for the solo classical guitar -- the "Cinco Piezas", as well as song-form compositions that still today are well known by the general public in his country, like "Balada para un loco" (Ballad for a madman) and Adiós Nonino (dedicated to his father) which he recorded many times with different musicians and ensembles. Biographers estimate that Piazzolla wrote around 3,000 pieces and recorded around 500.
from a tango history siteSee what Astor learned on St Marks Place :). Actually this isn't Piazzolla,the real name of this piece is ''Por una Cabeza,'' a tango by Carlos Gardel.
Alas, although endorsed during the Peron regime, neo-folkloric music gains in national popularity and tango unites disparate immigrant groups less as they assimilate into Argentine society. Ensembles replace large orchestras, concerts replace dances, and el nuevo tango appears with outstanding and disciplined musicians like bandoneonist Astor Piazzolla, who returns to Argentina after his New York childhood to fuse tango and jazz. For his audition, he performed Gershwin's famous Rhapsody in Blue.
Playing standing, Piazzolla introduced dissonance, chromatic harmony, and new rhythms.
Argentine tango was long ago absorbed and modified by ballroom dancers and many films such as Scent of a Woman, True Lies, and Assassination Tango, and on stage in productions such as Tango Argentino and Forever Tango.
Featuring Pablo Veron & Gisela Merino, professional shows like Tango Argentino promote tango today.
Today Argentine tango enjoys a subtle but pervasive worldwide re-emergence, perhaps promoted by traveling Argentine performers and instructors and well produced stages shows. The foundation of this revival, however, comprises literally scores of tango communities in which its nostalgic bohemian lifestyle and dramatic expression continues to fascinate local tangueros -- people like you and me!
My daughter is going to Argentina, so I picked up a Piazzolla CD a Academy Records to learn about Argentinian music. I shocked myself that I really liked it. Even old farts can appreciate new things
from wikipedia, part 1
Ástor Pantaleón Piazzolla (March 11, 1921 – July 4, 1992) was an Argentine tango composer and bandoneón player. His oeuvre revolutionized the traditional tango into a new style termed nuevo tango, incorporating elements from jazz and classical music. He is therefore widely considered the most important tango composer of the latter half of the twentieth century. A formidable bandoneonist, he regularly performed his own compositions with different ensembles. He is known in his native land as "El Gran Ástor" ("The Great Astor").
Piazzolla was born in Mar del Plata, Argentina in 1921 to Italian parents, Vicente Piazzolla and Asunta Manetti. His grandfather, a sailor and fisherman named Pantaleón Piazzolla, had emigrated to Mar del Plata from Trani, a seaport town in the southeastern Italian region of Apulia, at the end of the 19th century. Ástor Piazzolla spent most of his childhood with his family in New York City, where he was exposed to both jazz and the music of J.S. Bach at an early age. While there, he acquired fluency in four languages: Spanish, English, French, and Italian. He began to play the bandoneon after his father, nostalgic for his homeland, spotted one in a New York pawn shop. At the age of 13, he met Carlos Gardel, another great figure of tango, who invited the young prodigy to join him on his current tour. Much to his dismay, Piazzolla's father deemed that he was too young to go along. Nevertheless he played a young paper boy in Gardel´s movie El dia que me quieras . This early disappointment proved a blessing in disguise, as it was on this tour that Gardel and his entire band perished in a plane crash. In later years, Piazzolla made light of this near miss, joking that had his father not been so careful, he wouldn't be playing the bandoneon — he'd be playing the harp.
He returned to Argentina in 1937, where strictly traditional tango still reigned, and played in night clubs with a series of groups including the orchestra of Anibal Troilo, then considered the top bandoneon player and bandleader in Buenos Aires. The pianist Arthur Rubinstein—then living in Buenos Aires—advised him to study with the Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera. Delving into scores of Stravinsky, Bartók, Ravel, and others, he rose early each morning to hear the Teatro Colón orchestra rehearse while continuing a gruelling performing schedule in the tango clubs at night. In 1950 he composed the soundtrack to the film Bólidos de acero.
At Ginastera's urging, in 1953 Piazzolla entered his Buenos Aires Symphony in a composition contest, and won a grant from the French government to study in Paris with the legendary French composition teacher Nadia Boulanger. The insightful Boulanger turned his life around in a day, as Piazzolla related in his own words:
When I met her, I showed her my kilos of symphonies and sonatas. She started to read them and suddenly came out with a horrible sentence: “It's very well written.” And stopped, with a big period, round like a soccer ball. After a long while, she said: “Here you are like Stravinsky, like Bartók, like Ravel, but you know what happens? I can't find Piazzolla in this.” And she began to investigate my private life: what I did, what I did and did not play, if I was single, married, or living with someone, she was like an FBI agent! And I was very ashamed to tell her that I was a tango musician. Finally I said, “I play in a night club.” I didn't want to say cabaret. And she answered, “Night club, mais oui, but that is a cabaret, isn't it?” “Yes,” I answered, and thought, “I'll hit this woman in the head with a radio....” It wasn't easy to lie to her. She kept asking: “You say that you are not pianist. What instrument do you play, then?” And I didn't want to tell her that I was a bandoneon player, because I thought, “Then she will throw me from the fourth floor.” Finally, I confessed and she asked me to play some bars of a tango of my own. She suddenly opened her eyes, took my hand and told me: “You idiot, that's Piazzolla!” And I took all the music I composed, ten years of my life, and sent it to hell in two seconds.
Piazzolla returned from New York to Argentina in 1955, formed the Octeto Buenos Aires to play tangos, and never looked back.
Upon introducing his new approach to the tango (nuevo tango), he became a controversial figure among Argentines both musically and politically. The Argentine saying "in Argentina everything may change — except the tango" suggests some of the resistance he found in his native land. However, his music gained acceptance in Europe and North America, and his reworking of the tango was embraced by some liberal segments of Argentine society, who were pushing for political changes in parallel to his musical revolution.
During the period of Argentine military dictatorship from 1976 to 1983, Piazzolla lived in Italy, but returned many times to Argentina, recorded there, and on at least one occasion had lunch with the dictator Jorge Rafael Videla. However, his relationship with the dictator might have been less than friendly, as recounted in Astor Piazzolla, A manera de Memorias (a comprehensive collection of interviews, constituting a memoir):
One year before the Los Largartos issue you went to Videla's house and had lunch with him, why did you accept that invitation?
What an invitation! They sent a couple of guys in black suits and a letter with my name on it that said that Videla expected me a particular day in a particular place. I have a book around in some place, with pictures of all the guests: Eladia Blázquez, Daniel Tinayre, Olga Ferri, the composer Juan Carlos Tauriello, there were painters, actors [...]
– Astor Piazzolla, A manera de Memorias, Libros Perfil 1998, ISBN 9500809206, p. 85
In 1990 he suffered thrombosis in Paris, and died two years later in Buenos Aires.
Among his followers, his own protege Marcelo Nisinman is the best known innovator of the tango music of the new millennium, while Pablo Ziegler, pianist with Piazzolla's second quintet, has assumed the role of principal custodian of nuevo tango, extending the jazz influence in the style. The Brazilian guitarist Sergio Assad has also experimented with folk-derived, complex virtuoso compositions that show Piazzolla's structural influence while steering clear of tango sounds; and Osvaldo Golijov has acknowledged Piazzolla as perhaps the greatest influence on his globally oriented, eclectic compositions for classical and klezmer performers.
Monday, March 03, 2008
The trailer from this excellent upcoming movie
from the movie site
What happens when a teacher in New York City is accused of misconduct or incompetence in the classroom? They are sent to the "Rubber Room" while an investigation is launched. They spend months or even years there getting full pay and doing nothing.