Sunday, July 17, 2005

Sailing To Byzantium

On the 22d of July we soar to Spain. After six nights in Sitges, south of Barcelona, we set sail for Ibiza, Italy, Istanbul, and the Isles of Hellas: Thera and Mykonos. As in the Yeats' poem quoted below, we shall sail to Byzantium and to the Monuments of Unaging Intellect.
For all the depth of culture, of history, of thoughts of mortality as we gaze upon the greatest art and architecture of these civilizations, there will be for us the added revelation of a renewed Europe. Spain especially will hold for us joy and a celebration of higher awareness. For almost three weeks we shall be free of the repressing hand of the U.S. -- of its obsession with control of the world, from oil to religion, to the detriment of all.
It would be exciting to think that Spain today, like Seville and Granada in the 14th Century, exalts all peoples and artistic visions. Then Jew, Moor, and Christian worked together to create the Alhambra and the Alcazar of Seville. I think that today Federico Garcia Lorca and Luis Bunuel would flourish. In any event, Lorca, D.H. Lawrence, and Yeats shall accompany us on our journey.

W.B. Yeats 

That is no country for old men. The young

In one another's arms, birds in the trees--

Those dying generations -- at their song,

The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,

Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long

Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.

Caught in that sensual music all neglect

Monuments of unageing intellect.


An aged man is but a paltry thing,

A tattered coat upon a stick, unless

Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing

For every tatter in its mortal dress,

Nor is there singing school but studying

Monuments of its own magnificence;

And therefore I have sailed the seas and come

To the holy city of Byzantium.

O sages standing in God's holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.

- The Tower (1927)

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Recalling Jamie Cullum and the Algonquin

While looking over details of our European Cruise and listening to Adult Alternative on music cable, Jamie Cullum's "All At Sea" (click for the you tube video) took me back to New York City in October 2003. What a great trip that was. Here's what I wrote on our return:

Jamie Cullum
from Wikipedia

October : New York City:
We had a dazzling three days in the Big Apple, including three amazing plays: Wicked, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and Take Me Out. All were sold out and all got standing ovations that were heart felt. Ned Beatty as Big Daddy was stunning. The sets and story and singing in Wicked were over the top and over the rainbow, including those flying monkeys soaring over the audience. Soaring is the word.
Jamie Cullum at the Algonquin's Oak Room was a jazz and piano treat, his voice easily handling classic jazz songs. The New York Times accolades were correct. But best of all was our partying together at Jimmy's Corner after the performance. Jamie turned out to be a charming party boy, and his impressive knowledge of everyone from Mable Mercer to Johnny Mercer was respectable for a 24-year-old. He is eager to go to the Big Easy soon.
On Monday, we saw the awe-inspiring El Greco show at the Metropolitan. Room after room of the Master's best 70 paintings transcended description. We walked through a lovely autumn Central Park filled with New Yorkers sunning themselves after the bustle of the Columbus Day parade. Yes, we took in the Village and some good food too. So much to do, so little time. The Algonquin and our room with the bay window over 44th St. were comfy and the best service we've gotten in NYC. Our first class flight (yea, we got upgraded to 1st class again, like on our flight up) got us back to Druid Hills by midnight.
Here's a link to the webpage:

I also sent a note to Cullum:

Hi Jamie,
I'm assuming you're the webmaster. If not, guess you'll get this forwarded to you. It was a delight hearing you play piano and sing at the Algonquin Oak Room Friday night. But what made the night especially enjoyable was partying with you at Jimmy's. Of course I was impressed by your music and your fab band. But that you could put your knowledge of music into words was an added pleasure. When you mentioned Mable Mercer, whose enunciation and song I have thrilled in so long (since the 70's) I about fell off my stool. And Johnny Mercer too, whose home on Moon River in Savannah was where I once lived. The songs you sang were so gorgeous, deeper than I expected from someone only 24.
Finally, I love your journal. I've kept my own since I was 18. You are so spontaneous and "unspoiled." Guess it'll be hard to stay that way as fame takes hold. All I can say is how much fun I had Friday night and I wish you all the success in the world. Sorry the elevator skit didn't work out-- would have been fun to be on video with you. Thought it neat that you were always hanging out in the lobby of the Algonquin. Wasn't that a great place to stay? Let us know if you ever come to Atlanta-- or better yet, New Orleans. Man, You would lap it up there. Keep up the good music and the good personality.

And here's what HE wrote in his Journal: for 11/10/2003: (day 1st, month 2d)

11/10/2003 - Simple and uncluttered

This city is dangerous. I haven't been to bed before 4am for 10 straight days. This is the reason why they call it the city that never sleeps. I crave sleep, and I probably need it, but every hour on the matress seems so pointless when there is so much to do here. Why is it that when your abroad you do all those things you really should do at home but never do. Example 'a' - I'm in the New York Public Library now! Ok, so there is free internet here, but this place is incredible. All I can think about is that scene from Ghostbusters though, I keep thinking I'm going to spot Slimer any minute.

Last nights gig was a stormer. Someone proposed to their girlfriend during a specially requested version of "My one and only love" which I haven't played since I recorded it on my first record "Heard it all before". She accepted. Do you think she would have declined if I had been singing "The thrill is gone"? It's so much fun to mess with people's destiny......

We found this great bar round the corner from the hotel called "Jimmy's Corner" which is covered with Boxing memorabilia and had John Coltrane and Marvin Gaye on the jukebox. We went down there with a whole bunch of people we met from the gig. That is what is so great about playing the Oak Room. It is just like being in someone's living room and you can't escape from your audience even if you want to. So the only option is to take 'em all to the pub.

It's weird being apart from eveything that is happening in the UK with regards to the album launch. All the newspaper articles and the TV stuff I'm missing. It seems like it is all about someone else. I get back from New York the night before the album is out. My days here are so different, very simple and uncluttered. I'm going to watch the England/Turkey game today in a Turkish Bar. Hopefully I'll come out alive.

with love from NYC


Friday, July 01, 2005

Independence Day

As the 4th of July approaches, two more nations now give America a goal to consider. Spain and Canada are both granting marriage equality to their citizens. As our president talks about restricting such rights in a Constitutional Amendment, and as he considers his first choice for a Supreme Court judge to replace Sandra Day O'Connor, a swing vote in favor of gay rights, these two countries join a growing list of nations around the world who respect the freedom and equality of all their citizens. As we celebrate Independence Day here in the United States, we should think of the independence being celebrated in Europe, in Canada, and even in New Zealand-- in reality. It is time for us to practice what we preach. All Americans, straight and gay, deserve freedom and the pursuit of happiness.