Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Ever-Present Impala

Embark on an African Safari, and you are just about guaranteed to see a wealth of impalas; this is one species you need not worry about. I first heard of this delightful antelope-like critter from the Ford model that has shared its name since 1958 (see below). Southern Africa is home to over 2 million impalas, typically about 3 feet tall and 100-150 pounds.

Ed Cole, Chevrolet's chief engineer in the late 1950s, defined the Impala as a "prestige car within the reach of the average American citizen."

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Labor Shortage

I am suddenly that rarest of all birds; an employer with a vacancy. My right hand person (my only employee!), Matheus, is returning to Brazil and I am scrambling to find a replacement...

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Use What You Got

Resourceful and ecologically minded, these South Africans in Pilgrim's Rest, Mpumalanga province, own a gift shop consisting almost exclusively of paper products made from elephant dung. I found a Thai site explaining why this is a good idea. Mpumpalanga, by the way, is on South Africa's eastern edge and its name means 'the place where the sun rises' in Swazi, Xhosa, and Zulu.

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Left-Field Hit

It isn't often that I feature a Top Ten song, but it isn't often either that something this quirky, smart, and infectious reaches that pop stratosphere...

I refer to 'Pumped-Up Kicks' by LA-based indie pop trio Foster The People, led by Mark Foster's vocals, keyboards and guitar.

'Kicks' is a deceptively uptempo and breezy song about an isolated, distrubed kid with a weapon :'all the other kids/with the pumped-up kicks /better run, better run/ outrun my gun.' It's an unlikely crossover and sleeper hit, to be sure; first released last September, it slowly gained pop momentum over the summer.

Mark Foster originally named the band 'Foster and the People' but it was often misheard as 'Foster the People,' and the band dropped the 'and,' liking the seeming exhortation to nurture the populace...

Here's the clip for 'Pumped Up Kicks':

'Helena Beat' will be the band's follow-up single:

Here's the band performing the lovely 'Houdini' acoustic at 91X in San Diego;

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Now, That Wasn't Too Bad

Irene came and went, and New York City got off pretty easy, with some low-lying exceptions (the car pictured left is in Staten Island).

Since Bloomberg wisely erred on the side of caution, it was ironically not the hurricane, but the closing of all transit, that brought the city to a grinding halt... Tomorrow's transit will likely be spotty as the city completes its safety checks..

Most stores went dark and shuttered in our area, with some notable exceptions, including New Venus Diner and the lovely Royal Siam Restaurant, where we had a Thai lunch yesterday as a 'farewell to non-home cooked food.'

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Ready Or Not

Here comes Irene! We provisioned up last night and JP has cooked two days worth of meals (in case we lose gas and electricity, unlikely in my view), including Italian and Asian frittatas and pork chops with beet-grapefruit salad and asparagus.. I used the gym last night and this morning, while I could..

Pictured left: water lapped over the seawall down at Battery Park City, which Bloomberg ordered evacuated, reportedly with about 80% compliance... We know 'refugees' from Williamsburg and from Atlantic Beach out on Long Island.

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Mandatory Evacuation

New York is taking no chances with a possible landfall by a Category 2 hurricane. Over 250,000 people will be evacuated from areas on or near the waterfront! This includes my West 23rd Street neighbors west of 10th Avenue (see map, left! Moreover, flood waters are possible up to 9th Avenue in a Category 2 hurricane, and up to my doorstep in a Category 3 hurricane; good thing I live on the 10th floor. Excellent weekend to stay indoors!

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Look Alive

This little feller is a Central American red-eyed tree frog...

Today was a great day (it's Wednesday night), hitting on all burners, with perfect summer weather - sunny, mid-70s and breezy - that belies news of earthquakes and hurricanes...

I finished a good potboiler, Walter Mosley's 'Devil With A Blue Dress On,' about a black detective in 1940s LA - maybe I'll check out the 1994 film version with Denzel Washington.

That was in Spanish, audible.com version. I love audible because, among other things, it remembers your place. Look alive!

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Forking Paths

Google today honors the 112th birthday of one of my favorite writers, the Argentine poet, short story writer and surrealist Jorge Luis Borges. Another reminder of summer 1979, when I commuted 90 minutes each way to my warehouse job in the city, while learning to read Spanish literature in the original, dictionary in hand. The Borges 1941 classic 'Garden of Forking Paths' really sticks out, involving an infinite maze of multiple paths and futures that, as Google notes, is not unlike the hyperlinks of our information age and is reflected in the form and structure of computer games.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

RIP Nick Ashford

Sad to hear Nick Ashford passed at 70... He was 1/2 of Ashford and Simpson, the brilliant singer-songwriter husband and wife duo that penned 'Ain't No Mountain High Enough' and many other Motown classics before launching their own career in the 1970s... Their memorable soul/disco work in the late 70s reminds me of my earliest days in New York, as a starry-eyed and newly out kid of 19. I actually met them both on the street in the 1980s, they are lovely people with a good, generous vibe.. From 1983, enjoy 'High Rise.'

The duo's signature song is 1984's 'Solid', a huge crossover hit and a testament to their marriage.

I love their smoking 'Nobody Knows,' from 1979...

I was won over by their charming 'Found A Cure', from 1979..

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Monday, August 22, 2011

Happy Birthday, Bruno!

Bruno turns four today! Yesterday's family party celebrated with much mirth, truly scrumptious chocolate cake, and a vast panoply of Star Wars-themed presents... Here's Bruno, delighted with his new light saber...

The coolest gift, from Bruno's older brother Karl (pictured right), was this terrific reversible stuffed pillow that doubles as an igloo or a penguin, and, I think, snores... It's made by Happy NappersĀ®, which also offers a dragon/castle, ladybug/house, and cow/barn... Check out their

Here we are with the birthday boy!
JP Aaron Bruno 4

Mom and Dad

Bruno's birthday, August 22nd, is also my parents' anniversary... here they are in 1990, with my then-partner Andres, in Chinatown...

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

In His Old Room, He Found Chillwave...

I'm fresh back from my honeymoon, my jump into the cold waters of work has been soothed by Washed Out's 'Amor Fati,' perhaps the summer's prettiest song, awash in dreamy, summery synths.

Washed Out is the stage name of Ernest Greene, who ,unemployed and broke, moved back with his parents in 2009 amidst the peach groves of Perry, Georgia and began to compose dreamy synth landscapes in his bedroom and post them on YouTube. Music blogs took notice, and a trickle of song videos led 'Within and Without,' the atmospheric debut album released in July.

This new genre is called 'Chillwave' or sometimes 'Glo-Fi', and is the marriage of 80s/retro and indie/ambient, combining heavily filtered vocals, beautiful but simple melodic lines, and heavy use of synths, looping, sampling, and effects processing. I'll feature more Chillwave artists in the final weeks of this waning summer...

Here's the DIY clip for 'Amor Fati'

Washed Out's actual single is the equally lovely, stately, 'Eyes Be Closed,' and the clip is even more washed out and dreamlike..

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Saturday, August 20, 2011


JP enjoys downtime on the beaches of southern Mozambique, with protective headgear and sunblock 50... The combined shape and hue of his head-garb suggests, perhaps, Yassir Arafat on Earth Day... : - )


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Friday, August 19, 2011

Aloe and Coral

While Africa's spectacular fauna steals the thunder of flora, we saw many lovely plants as well. Here's a lovely aloe all a-flower with yellow buds. But it's not wise to touch the plants; some thorns carry potent poisons...

Deep red blooms characterize the coral plant...

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Both Sides Now

Imposing and massive, Victoria Falls is nested on the Zambezi river, dividing Zambia and Zimbabwe. Both sides have national parks, each with their distinct vistas.. We started on the Zimbabwe side.. The Zimbabwe side is simpler, with a path along the edge then through the woods..

The rainbow is omnipresent and scintillating..

The Zambian side is more elaborate, with three highlights: watching the river right before it goes over the cliff, facing the falls at the top of the gorge, and viewing the massive waters from the shore of the canyon floor... Here's JP standing in front of 'Knife Edge Bridge'..

Cross the bridge is its own thrill.. The railings, steadily splashed by spray from the falls, are lined with algae!

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Greetings From Victoria Falls


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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Places I've Been (So Far)

I'm up to
63 countries and 49 states...

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Monday, August 15, 2011

I'm Back! (Over But Not Over)

Hey there all - arrived this morning on a 16-hour flight from Johannesburg - our exotic but delightful and relaxing honeymoon trip has drawn to close, though the honeymoon is certainly not over : - ). But work we must, and work we will today... Miss you all and look forward to reconnecting as we slowly regain our normal rhythm...

Pictured left: The Waterberry Lodge at Livingstone, Zambia, near Victoria Falls, one of many dreamy oases in which we were fortunate enough to stay...

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