My children found a dead blue heron in the yard last night, folded up and strangely exotic like one of Audubon's paintings. There was no sign of a struggle. It reminded me of something I read about Jean Sibelius. Around the time he was working on his Fifth Symphony, Jean Sibelius watched sixteen swans fly in formation over his home. In his diary, he wrote,
“One of my greatest experiences! Lord God, that beauty! They circled over me for a long time. Disappeared into the solar haze like a gleaming, silver ribbon. . . . That this should have happened to me, who have so long been the outsider.”
I can’t hear the Aram Khachaturian’s Sabre Dance without picturing guys in blue and white outfits zooming across the ice with sticks. In the 1970’s, the Buffalo Sabres NHL hockey team ran local TV commercials using the classical warhorse at its rousing theme song. I saw that ad a lot.
According to the British newspaper The Guardian, the Eiffel Tower will be reshaped, altering the skyline of Paris. In time for the structure's 120th anniversary next year, builders will add a bigger viewing platform so more people at one time can go up and look around. The new platform will be attached with a design similar to the way that an aircraft's wings are attached to the fuselage.
(with apologies to Walt Whitman) I HEAR America singing, the varied carols I hear;
Those of mechanics—each one singing his, as it should be, blithe and strong;
The tubas, the timpani, the sea of clarinets.
The gymnasiums awash with sweaty sixth-graders,
Parents lolling like walruses on the beach.
The toddlers squirming,
The sibling—thumbing his PSP, distracted and intent, the body electric.
The delicious singing of the mothers,
The dutiful clapping of the fathers,
Teachers, glazed and spent--swimming in an ocean of fatigue.
The day what belongs to the day—At night, the party of students, robust, friendly,
Singing, with open mouths, their strong melodious songs.
I finally finished Alex Ross’s book, The Rest is Noise, and it’s got me fired up for 20th century music. Ross traces the threads of music woven into the fabric of politics, technology, history, and society. It’s an absorbing, brilliant book, densely packed with lively writing, vivid anecdotes, and sharp insights.
“The painter’s whole morality consists of keeping his brushes clean and getting up in the morning. He wakes up with the light, tosses till the sun is overhead, then gets up and starts moving around. He works moving around. Drawing, engraving, and water-color sketching can be done seated. But oil painting must be done on foot, walking back and forth. It entails no inconsiderable amount of mild physical exercise and that among turpentine fumes, which keeps the lungs open. Hence your painter is on the whole a healthy and cheerful man. His besetting maladies are digestive, due to poverty, irregular meals, and undernourishment. He requires a lot of food. In middle and later life he sometimes has rheumatism. But he is seldom too ill to paint.
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