Krishna Das

September 7, 2019 Leave a comment

So I went with Steph to see my first “kirtan concert” last night, with a performance by a singer/harmonium player called Krishna Das. Now, seeing as how my counterparts were engaging in mind-altering substances, I thought it only courteous to join them, in my own brand, if you will–please note that the word “brand” has a number of definitions, two of them being:


brand /brand/

noun
plural: brands
  1. a particular type or kind of something.
  2. a piece of burning or smoldering wood.

In this case, both may apply. I, of course, thought this the perfect opportunity to try just a piece of a tab of acid I had sitting around. Trying to be responsible–as responsible as a person about to ingest LSD can be–I chose to take only a quarter of it, and luckily, because it was more than enough, despite the original claim that this particular acid was allegedly weak in potency. I object.

Regardless, the show went on, and holy shit was it a show. So, picture a big music festival, with a ton of hipster kids everywhere you look. Basically the same thing, except instead of a festival, it was a church, and instead of hipster kids, it was diverse people of all races, ages and cultures. Amazing. People filled the pews, the front of the pews were littered with people on the floor–some cross-legged, others lounging out–some filled the front of the aisles. The different reactions to the songs ran the gamut–some singing along, some dancing in the aisles, some sitting quietly with eyes closed, some looking like they were performing their own personal seance. Except for a couple certain things, it really just seemed as though there was no one conventional way to enjoy and interact with this spectacle that I had immersed myself in.

The music was just as distinct. The general structure of the entire evening is considered, “call and response,” where the singer will sing a line or two of music and then the audience repeats it as an interactive chorus line (or two) of the song–call and response. Except these lyrics weren’t in english, they’re in Sanskrit so, while there were plenty of people who already had the chants down by heart (or could at least understand what Krishna Das was chanting), pages were available with all the chants printed out on them, in order for everyone to be able to chant along in response. As a minor side-gripe, since the chants weren’t all listed in order of the song, it was a bit difficult to read along (except for during the one or two songs we knew)–since the chants sound and look very similar to the untrained ear & eye–so it would take a few minutes to figure out which chants were being sung, but Steph and I made a game of seeing who could figure out which chant was being sung (we were about tied at the end), and some of the time we were too busy floating/introverting/zoning out, or dancing in our seats (and ultimately the aisle, obviously), or meditating. Heavy, beautiful meditating. Seriously, it was intense, especially between songs, which deliberately contained a perfect amount of silence. Just enough to let your ears digest all it had just consumed; enough to exhibit perfect contrast; enough for your mind to find peace. More than once, during these silences, Steph and I looked at each other silently, swapped a knowing appreciative smile–of the concert and each other–sometimes a kiss, and returned to the show. Our friend Sherry had expressed, after the show, that the silences were actually her favorite part. Hopefully+ not to butcher her words but, in essence, “The shift in energy from song to silence is just incredible.” Wise woman, that Sherry.

Steph and I had snuck out to the bathroom during a (much appreciated) lull in the music at one point, hopscotching our way through the up-front and aisle loungers, and did a status check, along with some quirks and romance. After a bit more recalibration, we went back to the concert room, but a song had just finished and we arrived during a silence. I wasn’t sure of the etiquette here, but while it’s usually customary to hop out of a show between songs, I felt the need to actually wait until the next song started before carefully creeping back across people alongside the stage. Other people went during the silence, but it almost didn’t feel appropriate. Like, sacrilegious. Like doing “the wave” across half a pew while the other half prays. Well, kinda like that. In my head, at least.

I found the idea of the chanting particularly interesting, as I had only learned about the call and response method from Steph in the car on the way. I’ve never been a big fan of repeating things others say, as I’m a fervent advocate of independent thinking, but this was different. I haven’t yet explored the reasons for the kirtan approach of interactive performing, but aside from audience interaction just being more engaging, as well as more informative (for those who care to look up the Sanskrit translations) Steph had insightfully speculated earlier that she believed it employed a sense of oneness, bringing us back to our primal form. Whether intended or not, for me, it definitely included that effect.

Speaking of oneness, I’m actually bummed that we couldn’t be together with our other friends who got there a bit later (due to hours of dead-stopped traffic). We tried to save seats for them–actually holding a whole row at one point, but people started getting rightfully grumpy about it so we cut it down from ten to four seats. The group wound up having more than we expected though and understandably decided not to break up their arriving flock, so a few extra latecomers got the seats we turned a few others away from (apologies to the “few others”!).

The evening wrapped up at ten before ten, a bit earlier than the three hours we expected from the 7:30 concert, but still more than worth the 50 dollar ticket. So it was a pleasant surprise when Krishna Das stuck around for the extra forty minutes and took pictures with everyone till at least 10:30. The group wound up chatting together outside, taking some pictures, parting numerous times to go our separate ways (each time followed by further chats and hugs), then finally parted ways back to our respective rides home. Although, our ride didn’t come for yet another couple hours as Steph and I chatted away once reaching our car; about the night, the ups the downs, the Natalie Merchant Tigerlily album and it’s nostalgic ties to early motherhood (more for Steph than me). And, after some laughs, tears and snorts–only once I felt boringly sober–we got gas, Red Bull, snacks, and home safely, eagerly awaiting our next trip to see Krishna Das.

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Most of our group on the church steps after the concert

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Learning…

March 12, 2018 Leave a comment

Relationships are like books in that, even if you learn just one thing, it was worth it. …and if it was great but felt short, hopefully you’ll even get a sequel.

The CIA and The Church Committee

November 30, 2015 Leave a comment

So I just heard a really interesting interview about the CIA on POTUS Satellite Radio Channel 124. Apparently, the CIA got figurative cuffs slapped on in the 70’s, disabling them from doing a lot of what was being abused at the time, such as the assassination of foreign leaders and heavy operations on domestic grounds. It was called The Church Committee.

However, it was actually to the extent where, especially now during war, they’re a bit too restricted in many people’s eyes because even if a CIA agent wants to execute a human intelligence mission of high danger, they’re not allowed because it’s too dangerous and, due to the politicalization of national security—the 24/7 ubiquitous media sticking their noses in everything—security is actually afraid they’ll get scolded by the government if casualties are deemed unjustified in any way. Therefore, it’s now being deduced that even though the technological intelligence is at a debatably decent point, the human intelligence may need to have the handcuffs loosened.

National security vs civil liberties topics are obviously very relevant right now and I hope America can be smart enough to find an appropriate balance.

The Unknown Brain

September 30, 2015 Leave a comment

I learned some great info listening to a TED Talk this morning focused on the human brain. As the title of the talk suggests, “The Unknown Brain” includes a bunch of discussions centering around new information regarding the brain and personal anecdotes related thereto.

So far, the most interesting and relevant facts I learned are as follows:

    1. Out of the approx 2000 calories humans need to ingest daily, 500 of those calories go right to the brain, providing the necessary nutrients it requires to properly function. This of course means that, much like a lack of sleep, we truly are depriving our brains and partially disabling ourselves by failing to eat properly.
    2. Humans have an average of approx 86 billion neurons in their brains, 16 billion of which are located in the cerebral cortex–the most complex and advanced of the brain’s regions–which controls planning and other intricate functions. This region is what truly separates us from animals, because even though other animals can have larger brains with more neurons, none have anywhere near as many neurons in the cerebral cortex. Primates are the closest with about 9 billion.

    In fact, one of the greatest points being made on this episode was that, otherwise, humans aren’t really all that different from animals.

    It’s an interesting topic that I want to prioritize in my memory and further research, hence this post.

My Top Music of 2O14

January 2, 2015 Leave a comment

Favorite Albums of 2014:

10) U2 – Songs of Innocence
I like U2, I really do. I just hate Bono. So even though I’ve liked plenty of their songs throughout the years, I haven’t really been able to sit through a whole album. Usually because I get an arrogant Bono feel somewhere along the tracks. I was able to sit through this one. That’s momentous.

9) Dan Croll – Sweet Disarray
Found this guy listening to Alt Nation on satellite radio and fell in love with From Nowhere, one of my favorite tracks of the year. Didn’t actually scope out the album til late in the year but it’s a lot of fun; light and upbeat, willing to add levity to any profound playlist.

8) The Black Keys – Turn Blue
I’ve really enjoyed every album they’ve put out so this isn’t much of a surprise. I was in the supportive camp for their release of El Camino in 2011 when the hipsters were dismayed by their sell-out tracks. I liked their sell-out tracks and I like this. Though they probably would’ve been higher on this list if I was more wowed. I think they were gun-shy on the ‘wow’ing innovation cuz they wanted to focus on being bluesy again for their hipster fans after that poppy last release. That’s fine, but who gives a shit–do what moves you dawgs.

7) Phantogram – Voices
I actually don’t adore this album. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great, but not fully consistent through & through. The reason it sits here is because tracks 2 & 3 are basically my favorite songs of the year, hands down. Black Out Days Fall In Love have been played on my ears on their own more than other full albums have. They’re that repeat-worthy to me. The mood, the synth tones, the beats, the nuances, her voice–everything–I wish the whole album smelled like these tracks.
Side fun fact: The bass synth in Fall In Love immediately struck me as reminiscent of the crazy synth in The Flaming Lips’ Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. I soon-after saw The Lips open for The YYYs and Wayne brought Phantogram’s singer out to break it down with him. Coincidence? I think not.

6) Jack White – Lazaretto
White brought it back as classic as ever. Honestly it might be my least favorite work by him thus far, but that doesn’t say much since I love everything he’s done. There are, without a doubt, insanely killer tracks on the album that I’d add to my all-time favorites, but not consistently. It’s probably just him being a bit cornier than usual so there feels like a lack of balance in the badass-ness of the disc. That’s fine though, in reality, it’ll probably still grow on me plenty.

5) TV On the Radio – Seeds
Love. This may be my favorite album by this band–and that says a lot. I don’t even know what to say about it. It just kills from front to back. The old-school meets modern creative brilliance of this band is endless. Period.

4) Every Time I Die – From Parts Unknown
This album is a perfect combination of their debut disc, Hot Fuss, and my favorite parts of their more recent releases. These guys have become one of my favorite artists. Take raw, angry, disgusting tones, add tasteful intricacy, and top it with Keith Buckley’s nonpareil style & witty lyrics = this album. Non-stop in my ears this yearz.
Side fun fact: Looking forward to Buckley’s first novel due for release in 2015/16.

3) Julian Casablancas & The Voidz – Tyranny
So like, dirty electronic punk The Strokes. That’s what it is. And I can’t get enough. I have a feeling not everyone will dig this. But the ones who do will.

2) St. Vincent – S/T
Annie Clark killed it this year. Nailed it. Smooshed it. I’ve enjoyed her preceding albums but she went crazy with this one. Angelic badass vocals over Jack Whitesque dirty guitars/synths and awesomely innovative rhythms. I also had an opportunity to see her live, and let me just tell you… if there’s an “it”–like a David Bowie “I’m not really sure if you’re human” “it”–she has it. She’s an artist in every sense of the word. Including sick, sick guitar work. Swoon.

1) Crosses – S/T
This album is the reason I didn’t get to listen to many others. Three months after its release, I had something like 647 song listens compared to my next most listened to band at like, 54. Now yes, I’m biased, because this is my favorite vocalist, Chino Moreno of Deftones fame. The bias isn’t without justification however. Quite underrated (much like this album), he easily has one of the most unique voices of his generation; a breathiness reminiscent of Sade which takes incredible vocal control, especially when you mix it with his belting range. This side project joins him with a fella from Far and some other guy and they make beautiful sounds together. Some fans will say that it’s disappointing since they re-released a bunch of songs on this debut LP that they’d already released on their three prior EPs. I agree to an extent, I would’ve enjoyed more new songs as well, but what saved it for me was the track listing. This album took me on an emotional journey of perceptive dynamics. They definitely got highAF and put the stamp of approval on before letting this off the shelf. I didn’t immediately care much about all the tracks–namely the real slow ones–but they found me after a bunch of listens and I fell head over heels. And really, those are the albums I’ll always appreciate more. The ones that don’t hit you right away. When they finally soak in though, they’re there to stay.

Favorite New Artists (w/ notable songs by them):

George EzraBudapest; Did You Hear the Rain?

Big DataDangerous
Really happy I got to catch these guys in a venue as intimate as Old Westbury Theater opening for Fitz & The Tantrums this year. They just completely killed it and I really enjoyed them even more than Fitz. And their female vocalist is swoon-worthy. Highly anticipating their full release in March 2015.

HozierAngel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene; Take Me to Church


Favorite Shows:

3) Big Data @ The Space at Westbury

2) St. Vincent @ Prospect Park

1) Arcade Fire @ Barclay’s Center

It’s been a great year. Here’s to another one–happy new year!

-Chezz

Review – Final Fantasy XII

August 5, 2014 Leave a comment

I know it’s rare that I do a review here, but I’ve been internally debating my opinion of Final Fantasy XII (PS2) for quite some time, mainly due to the story-line. I know it’s also been out for a long time and is no longer relevant, but for the first time, someone has put into words what I’ve been thinking since pretty much the beginning. Despite my enjoyment of the game-play and battle sequencing, I’ve had quite a few issues with the story-line but always doubted my doubts since all the reviews I read of the game were positive through & through. So while the following aren’t my own words, I found someone that well-conveyed my exact thoughts on the game, thereby supporting my opinion so I know I’m not just out of the FF loop. Perhaps for my own reference as much as your info, here’s his brief review of it with the key points:

Final Fantasy 12
“It’s not bad, it’s just not great. It doesn’t really grip people or try and elicit emotions from people. Vaan the shoehorn is part of the issue. He’s like the kid that interrupts when the adults (Ashe & Balthier) are talking. Of course, there’s some issue with a dialogue-dysfunctional party. Ashe & Balthier get all the lines, Vaan has some quota to interrupt every scene with something stupid or obvious, Basch is too quiet, just standing there like a potted plant most of the time, Fran usually only gets dialogue to act as a weather sensor with a voice reading or as a native interpreter, Penelo only exists to ask Fran how is she.

Another big issue is the cut-scenes/story not quite jiving with the lay of the land. This mighty oppressive empire doesn’t seem so mighty when they’re nowhere to be seen, even across the long journey to their capital city and when they do appear, its literally just dropping in out of the sky(…)They don’t have a strong ground presence. Then, their occupation of Rabanastre isn’t that brutal. It seems very casual in fact. Upbeat music (contrast with FFVI occupation music), no devastation (contrast with FFIX occupations after shock & awe), the troops don’t interfere in daily life.

(…)FFXII is subpar (by FF standards) for story, but above average for gameplay with a few weak points (Espers, Quickenings, strong drive towards 6 clones), and A++++ for B-game content (all the hunts, rare game, optional bosses, espers, whatnot) and unlike FFX, it can be very long, quite easy to get 120-200+ hours into FFXII.”

Source: www.gamefaqs.com forum – zoogelio

In a Nutshell
– character development’s weak
– enemy (empire) doesn’t feel oppressive/threatening enough
+ game-play is great
+ the best part of the game is the hunt for beast side-quests

Fun at times? Sure. Do I recommend it? Not really. I’m sure you have better things to do.

My Overall Rating:
6.5/10

Categories: Media, Reviews, Video Games

Painting With Words

October 5, 2013 Leave a comment

It’s a shame that I don’t have time to write in depth at the moment due to the report I’m presently writing for my college class, but it’s not a shame that I’m writing the report. During my research for the paper, it’s been requested that I read two discourses by William James, and in doing so, I’ve been greatly inspired by his articulation. A self-proclaimed philosopher, and with that I agree, James brings me back to the mentality I enjoyed during my Philosophy course two years ago. That mentality that not only allows but urges people to think for themselves and question beyond the mundane obstacles life presents us with.

This mentality is not exclusive to philosophy though, of course. Whether it’s wording of a less immediate functional value, such as philosophy, poetry, or really any speech given by an individual who has passion for the topic and respect for the audience, there is a certain mindset that, when coupled with an eloquent articulation of the same nature, appears to have an artistic quality not unlike painting in its truest form.

“Our permanent enemy is the noted bellicosity of human nature.”

–William James

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