Tuesday, May 29, 2012

 

MIT students pull off "The Holy Grail of Hacks"

I've been officially separated from MIT since I retired at the end of June 2007, but I visit former colleagues in Music and Theater Arts there with some regularity when I'm in Boston and I keep up on some areas of Institute culture.  One thing I love more than any of the others are the famous student hacks, all great feats of planning, engineering, coordination and design.

Hacks, by the "rules," must cause no damage to anyone or any structure, be put in place in one night, include instructions on how to dismantle any construction for MIT Buildings and Grounds staff, and they are anonymous.  Occasionally, hack teams will reveal themselves at significant class reunions.  hacks that show especial creativity, wit, structural ingenuity, etc. are especially admired.  This spring
the outfitting of the Green Building at the very center of the campus as a giant Tetris game turned into a landmark hack in that it will attain a continuing life as part of the MIT campus.


The ‘holy grail’ of hacks:
The construction of one of the most anticipated hacks of all time
By Jessica L. Pourian, EDITOR IN CHIEF of The Tech, MIT Student Newspaper
May 1, 2012

153 windows, 153 pixels. Two weekends ago, the front of the Green Building lit up in a colorful display of the popular puzzler Tetris. The 17x9 pixel screen spanned over 80 by 250 feet — making it the second largest screen in the nation. Appearing mysteriously on Friday night, the Tetris hack was the culmination of over four and a half years of work by an undisclosed number of hackers. With the completion of the hack came the conclusion of a dream; the idea of transforming Building 54 into a working game of Tetris has been a fantasy of hackers for decades.

“The point was to do something that was marked as impossible,” one of the hackers said to The Tech this Sunday.

Birth of a hack
The idea of doing Green Building Tetris has been around since the 80s when the game was first invented, and the inception of this hack started just over four years ago. 

One of the biggest challenges in the engineering process was how to properly illuminate the entire window from a single spot. The device needed to be small enough to not annoy the room’s occupant, but powerful enough to uniformly light the window. Each window on the Green Building is about eight feet tall by six feet wide, and formed one pixel of the entire display. Every window was outfitted with a custom built LED board that was wirelessly controlled. 

“It wouldn’t have been possible to run wires to put everything together,” a hacker said, “From our perspective; this was the only way you could possibly build it.”

The units used consisted of 2-layer aluminum-core printed circuit boards housed in an aluminum casing. To cut costs, the hackers used standard aluminum bar stock which was CNC machined to create custom one-piece housings. The devices all have 13 LEDs on them, each rated for 3 watts. The hackers went through five different prototypes before settling on the final version.

One of the advantages of the design was its heat dissipation. “They are thermally linked to the window sill,” said a hacker, “Turns out we don’t actually run them that hot, ever. If you were to run them [to full capacity], it would still only be warm to the touch.”

The housing for each board was also specially designed for the wireless antennae, which communicated with a computer held in the podium where players controlled the game. 

With the design finalized, the time came to implement the hack. The team worked for two months nonstop.  “We worked every night from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.,” he said, “I’m not kidding you, every night for like two months.”

The fruit of their efforts was the patriotic display that appeared on the Green Building on 9/11. The flag, which went up in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of September 11, is the same LED system that was used for the Tetris Hack.  



They were responsible for the purple ribbon that appeared on the building in honor of Relay for Life in March. Tetris was the original goal of the project, and they set their sights on Campus Preview Week for its premiere.  “It’s a time when people want to put up hacks,” one of the hackers explained, “The more you can get prefrosh interested in hacks, the more likely you get more interesting prefrosh to come to MIT.”

Tetris in action
When the hack finally went live, the Twitterverse and Facebook exploded with photos of the event, with dozens of MIT students boasting about seeing the coolest hack ever. A number of Boston media reported on the event, and the internet carried the story even further.  Asked how they felt when the Tetris hack finally went live Friday night?  “It was freaking awesome,” said one of the hackers.  “Watching it from across the river is pretty freaking sweet,” added another. 

The future
The hackers have made arrangements with EAPS (Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary sciences); the residents of Building 54, to keep the hack installed permanently so future generations can use the Green Building’s “screen.”

“In general, EAPS is supportive,” said a hacker,  “They think it’s difficult to manage, but it’s still pretty cool. People whose windows they are in actually all have varied opinions.”  To prevent occupants from getting angry with the hack, each unit has a button that will disable the light for a few hours. 

Open source
The plan to release the software used to create the Tetris game on the internet so people can try and make their own hack that could run on the building.  “Everything would still go through us to make sure it’s vetted and ok with us,” one of the hackers said, “We would like to open this up to a general audience.”

*********

Given the "War on Women" (which it denies because it essentially doesn't recognize the equality of women in the first place) and it's entry into the American political process on the far Right, it becomes obvious that there are highly reactionary movements afoot within the Catholic Church.  Specifically, there is a move to return things to their condition prior to the Vatican II Council with its breath of fresh air in the form of liberal changes and moves to make the Church rituals more comprehensible and connected to the laity.   

Some of the pomp and splendor that had accrued to the Pope, cardinals and bishops over the centuries had been retired (as in the Pope no longer being crowned like an emperor), while the everyday vestments of the priests saying Mass were simplified and some of what might be called sacred frou-frou was packed away and replaced by more modest vestments.  But now all the old attitudes, exclusivity and pomp are roaring back.

Bishop Slattery of Tulsa being his own procession in a 20 yard long train, the rear hem of which is being carried by an altar boy. 

Here, the other end of the train in the National Catholic Cathedral in D.C.  What in the modern world is the purpose of such display, except to distance the clergy from the faithful, the very alienation that Vatican II was trying to eliminate?  We were taught in Catholic school that the clergy are supposed to be "Christ-like" and are indeed Christ's representatives on Earth; it's very difficult to imagine Jesus swanning around in this kind of empty, self-aggrandizing royalist drag. 


Former Bishop Burke of St. Louis, now a Cardinal working as head of a major Vatican department.  When I saw this, I thought it looked like the Mother of the Bride outfit from Hell.  I thought they all took a vow of poverty.  I know they always preach the virtues of simplicity and avoiding vanity to the faithful.  The above images depict a festival of vanity; money that could be spent feeding the hungry and clothing the needy is being squandered on luxury and ostentatious personal display. 

The other day when I first began putting this entry together, the scandal of the Pope's butler leaking documents detailing money laundering and corruption by the Vatican Bank was hitting the newscasts.  How long can the outrageous behavior of these people be sustained and tolerated?  Where is Martin Luther now that he's needed again?

*********

Monday, May 21, 2012

 
“Ted Cruz is a true conservative you can trust to stand on principle and change the way Washington does business… Today, through May 25, please vote early for Ted Cruz for U.S. Senate.”
Sarah Palin campaigning in Topeka, Kansas for Ted Cruz to be Senator from Kansas. 


Minor detail -- Mr. Cruz is running for the U.S. Senate from Texas! 

Ms. Palin is really almost too good to be true:  it's just like her statement that Paul Revere was riding to warn the British that the Americans were coming to get them (thereby making him a traitor rather than the American hero we were all taught he was) all over again.  It's a wonder her handlers, if she has any these days, allow her out in public unsupervised.


*********

For some years now, my performance-going in New York City has been confined to opera for both professional and financial reasons.  My life as a designer and speaker, and my love of the medium, has focused tightly on opera and I can go to performances at the Metropolitan for under $45 per ticket.  The prices on Broadway can be well over $125 a ticket and that's not just for the "best" seats since a great many theaters are close to being one price throughout the house.   

The following article [which I have edited] indicates that a movement is gaining traction to give theater-goers a place to go that they can actually afford while seeing new work of a kind that Broadway seldom does these days.


Lincoln Center Theater to Open a New Stage  
By Robin Pogrebin in the New York Times

At a time when Broadway has grown increasingly costly, Lincoln Center Theater is opening a new stage that will feature work by emerging playwrights, directors and designers, and will charge just $20 for every ticket.

The 112-seat theater aims to develop new talent, feed the company’s two larger theaters — the Vivian Beaumont and the Mitzi E. Newhouse — and attract younger, more diverse audiences.  In making this commitment, Lincoln Center joins nonprofit companies all over the country that are creating modest black-box theaters to present scaled-down productions by rising artists and to build a new generation of patrons. 

Examples abound in New York, the nation’s theater capital. In September the Brooklyn Academy of Music will open a 250-seat theater with $20 tickets. In February the Signature Theater Company opened its new complex on West 42nd Street that includes a theater with 190 seats and a price of $25 a ticket. Over the last few years the Public Theater has offered $10 to $15 tickets for its Public Lab in two small theaters. And the Roundabout Theater Company is running Roundabout Underground, a 62-seat theater below its Laura Pels Theater on West 46th Street, with $20 tickets.

“I hope it’s a response to what’s happening on Broadway, because what’s happening on Broadway is unconscionable — it’s really leaving out the mass of humanity,” said the director and playwright Robert Brustein, who founded the Yale Repertory and American Repertory Theaters. “This invites people in warmly on the basis of what they can afford.”
André Bishop, Lincoln Center Theater’s artistic director, said, “I see this as a legacy — all these young writers, directors, designers are now part of our world,” he continued. “It means I as an artistic director don’t have to do artistic direction by shopping. It’s fun to see people grow under your own roof — on top of your roof.”

The company’s $42 million new theater, called the Claire Tow, was indeed built above the Beaumont. A boxy structure, it includes rehearsal space, offices and a terrace overlooking the North Plaza.  But don’t call the new stage a black-box theater. “I didn’t want there to be the sense that this Lincoln Center theater was experimental,” Mr. Bishop said. “I wanted it to be another theater on a level with the others.”  He added, “Many of our writers are beginning their careers, and they’re not known yet, and you want to break them in gently, yet with full production values.”
While the theater’s programming will be progressive, its aesthetic is rather traditional, with cushy red theater seats and a conventional layout. “We decided, let’s just have a normal space where everyone is looking in the same direction,” Mr. Bishop said.
In designing the theater, Hugh Hardy, the building’s architect, used simple materials: stained oak for the lobby floors, walnut for the theater’s sloping walls. “This should not be a pretentious place,” Mr. Hardy said. “It should be made with very straightforward stuff.”  Lincoln Center “couldn’t pretend this was some East Village bar theater,” Mr. Bishop said. “That would be coy.”
In other ways Lincoln Center wants the theater to be un-Lincoln-Center-like, with less expensive drinks and snacks (prices still to be determined), a bar that stays open well after a performance and an informal atmosphere.

For Mr. Bishop the new theater represents the fulfillment of a need he anticipated when he first came on board in 1992: to have a small theater like the one upstairs at Playwrights Horizons, where he developed productions like “Driving Miss Daisy” and “Falsettos.”

*********

The Guardian (UK) has published a nifty information graphic breaking down gay rights in the U.S. state by state.  Issues like marriage, adoption, employment discrimination protection, hate crime laws, and whether schools have regulations to ban harassment based on gender and sexual orientation. Is the rainbow color scheme of this blatantly pro-homosexual infographic a coincidence? I think not. (via @jeaninegibson)


Not unexpectedly, the Northeast is extremely colorful, indicating that it's a great area for GLBT people to live.  

*********



Wednesday, May 16, 2012

 
This one's all about random images from life around here recently.  I keep my camera at hand in case anything interesting comes up, and even then I sometimes miss things.  Like the day we drove back up to the house from a shopping trip and saw a very big porcupine with its spines fully puffed up in the garden up the hill. 

This male goldfinch is half of a mated pair who frequently fly into the feeder together.  He's handsome enough in the shade, but when he's out in the sun he's a brilliant lemon yellow.

Our friend Martin is a nurseryman.  He got in touch early last fall and suggested coming up here and gardening together for a day.  We had a great time, and he surprised us by bringing a very showy hosta and six of these beautiful phlox plants as gifts.  We planted them where they'd be fully visible from the living room, where the fact that they've come up very full and covered with blossoms this spring can be fully appreciated.

This is me, total history geek and still mourning some of the works both scientific and literary that are known to have been lost not only in the library at Alexandria but in the destruction of ancient libraries throughout the Greco-Roman world.  Alexandria lost several libraries by accident and by conquest over the centuries.  The early ones, while the Empire was still strong and other libraries could assist in restocking Alexandria's, were not completely catastrophic.  The last destruction, however, took with it incomparable and irreplaceable things. 

          We took part of an afternoon off last week at Fritz's suggestion.  I'd always wanted to visit a site called America's Stonehenge, located forty minutes or so south of here.  It's controversial -- a fraud to some and a 4000 year old ritual space to others.  It bears a relationship to the "real" Stonehenge mainly in that it's constructed of stone, some of it in the form of monoliths up around eight or nine tons in weight.  Much of it is built into the ground in the form of open-faced rock chambers "roofed" by massive flat slabs.

The table rock with the carved channel, above, bears the somewhat sensational name of "sacrifice stone."  There is also a Stonehenge-like astronomical alignment, from a particular place adjacent to the sacrifice stone, to various other pointed rocks standing in a circle around the edge the site.  A chart and list of the equinoxes, solstices and seasonal ritual sunrises and sunsets that are visible over those encircling stones on particular dates is provided. 

Now there's no absolute proof for any of this.  There is some carbon dating evidence for bits of wood or charcoal found amid the rocks being three to four thousand years old, but the rock itself is ageless, and proof of when it was set in place can't be firmly established.

The early modern history of the site is confused by the fact that local farmers used it as a quarry site, hauling off or knocking down stones at will; then, when the property changed hands in the early 19th century, the new owner fancied himself an historical restorer and set stones up in what he felt were the correct places.  It is during this phase of the story that the charges of fraud are most frequent: if he set up some of the stones, why not all of them? seems to be the reasoning.  Apparently, there is no written documentation about the site in any condition prior to this confused period in its history.

One thing I will say is that IF the site was faked it must have taken a large crew with whatever heavy lifting equipment was available in the area at the time.  One would think word might have spread, or some mention have been found in surviving letters or local newspapers which, in those days, snooped liberally around town and published everybody's business in detail on a twice weekly basis.

In any event, I had a great time, crawled around inside the so-called Oracle Chamber and we walked the entire site which is interesting whatever it is.
                                                                                                                                                                 
Welcome to the wonderful world of 19th and early 20th century patent medicines.  All sorts of horror stories exist about what was really in these concoctions, including completely unregulated amounts of alcohol and opium products that certainly made the patient feel better but didn't begin to cure the disease in question (laudanum, a potent mix of morphine and alcohol was given freely for everything from diarrhea to the pain of childbirth, addicting many wealthy and socially prominent women, including Mary Todd Lincoln, in the process).  And yes, early Coca-Cola DID contain cocaine.  Ads touted how drinking it produced a feeling of well-being and happiness.  Yes, indeed!

I had heard about the tape-worm method of weight loss along with some rather unpleasant stories about how the worm had to be made to expel itself from the intestines once the desired weight had been achieved.  As an young opera lover, I was exposed to stories about how Maria Callas' dramatic weight loss in the early 1950s after she swallowed a tape worm had turned her into a glamorous high fashion-wearing diva.  Many people debunk that story but several other major league sopranos of the day have sworn in print that the tape worm story is true.  Of course, stories told by rival sopranos may very well not strictly be true!

Starr on a cushion on a folded faux fur lap robe on the padded cover of an antique chest, in the sun.  In total kitty heaven

Thursday, May 10, 2012

 

I grew up in New York City where I started going to theater and opera at a very young age.  By age 11 I knew that I wanted to make my life in stage design.  The City was alive with performance of all kinds: concerts, ballet, modern dance, plays, musicals, a total feast.  And the museums!  It was an incredible stimulus.

I know that starting some twenty to twenty-five years ago there was concern that the New York stage was losing its edge and becoming about nostalgia rather than new work.  Theater and opera were beginning to decentralize as performers and producers could no longer afford to operate in New York.  the rents, cost of rehearsal halls, the price of everything became prohibitive.  Some left for Brooklyn or Hoboken while others went say out to Chattanooga or Boulder, St. Louis or Minneapolis, Baltimore or Portland, OR.  So this (excerpt of a) NY Times article caught my eye and interest: 

May 8, 2012, 2:40 pm
New York, Cultural Capital of the World? Discuss
Is New York still the cultural capital of America, let alone the world?

To the creative strivers who still flock here, the answer may be self-evident. But when the question was posed point-blank to four cultural critics from New York magazine at the Public Theater on Monday night, they struggled to muster resoundingly jingoistic responses.  “No,” said Jerry Saltz, the magazine’s art critic. “It’s one of several,” said Amy Larocca, its fashion editor. Kurt Andersen, a longtime contributor to the magazine and host of the radio show "Studio 360," was less equivocal, but only barely. “Sure,” he said, but not as much as New York was in, say, 1960. “Now there are more alternatives,” he said.

The event — two back-to-back panel discussions on the question “The Culture Capital: Is New York City Still a Home for Artists?” — was meant as a meditation on the future of the kind of old-fashioned bohemia captured in "February House," a musical about a ramshackle row house in Brooklyn Heights shared by Carson McCullers, W. H. Auden and Gypsy Rose Lee in the winter of 1940. (Previews begin at the Public on Tuesday.)

 I had known about February House for years, bumping into it again and again in the biographies of its many fascinating and highly individual residents, in articles in The Gay and Lesbian Review, or the liner notes of recordings of the musicians who had lived there.  So I Googled the musical "February House" and up came this:


February House, the new musical inspired by a real life artistic commune that fostered some of America’s greatest talents, is beginning previews at off-Broadway’s Public Theater on May 8. Davis McCallum directs the piece, which features music and lyrics by Gabriel Kahane and a book by Seth Bockley. Opening night is set for May 22.


In 1940s New York, visionary and flamboyant editor George Davis transformed a dilapidated Brooklyn boarding house into a bohemian commune for artistic icons like Carson McCullers, Benjamin Britten and his lover, tenor Peter Pears, W.H. Auden and Gypsy Rose Lee. The residents of 7 Middagh Street create a tumultuous and remarkable makeshift family searching for love, inspiration, and refuge from the looming war in Europe.


Located at 7 Middagh Street in Brooklyn Heights, New York it was home to a charter membership of writers and artists that included Carson, Gypsy Rose Lee, W.H. Auden, Oliver Smith and George Davis. Writer Anais Nin gave the house its name when she discovered that Davis, Auden and McCullers had all been born under the sign of Pisces, and described it in her diary as "an amazing house, like some of the houses in Belgium, the north of France or Austria. It is like a museum of Americana which I had never seen anywhere before." Moving in October 1940 into two rooms on the second floor, McCullers says that she loved what she called "living in a real neighborhood."


Carson McCullers lived here on-and-off from 1940 to 1945, until the house was demolished by the city to make way for an expansion of the Brooklyn Bridge. While McCullers was in residence, the February House was home to a host of other notable artistic types, including writers Paul Bowles, Richard Wright and Christopher Isherwood and composers Leonard Bernstein, David Diamond, and Aaron Copeland.

February House stars Julian Fleisher as George Davis,  Kacie Sheik as Gypsy Rose Lee (above), Erik Lochtefeld as W.H. Auden, Stanley Bahorek as Benjamin Britten, Kristen Sieh as Carson McCullers, Ken Barnett as Peter Pears, Ken Clark as Reeves McCullers, Stephanie Hayes as Erika Mann and A.J. Shively as Chester Kallman.

I would be surprised if someone hadn't tried desperately to landmark and save the building for it's incredible history and associations with some the foremost creative artists and performers of the 20th century.  February House's history as a locus for gay and lesbian literary and musical achievement could not possibly be overstated.  Alas, it lives on only in photographs and glimpses of the interaction of its inhabitants in the written accounts they left behind.

The idea of a musical containing even half of the residents of the house is intriguing, but I wonder if any theater piece could be as astonishing as the reality ?

*********

I think I would file this one under "How petty and bitchy can you get?"
 
Iowa Catholic School Refuses to Allow LGBT Foundation to Present 'Matthew Shepard Scholarship' to Gay Student

Keaton Fuller, a student at Prince of Peace Catholic School in Clinton, Iowa, was encouraged by his school to apply for a $40,000 scholarship awarded to LGBT students. Fuller applied and was awarded the scholarship, but the school that told Fuller to apply for the prize won't let the foundation's representative present it to him, the AP reports:

Bishop Martin Amos in Davenport said the Eychaner Foundation would not be allowed to present the Matthew Shepard Scholarship to Keaton Fuller during the May 20 ceremony at Prince of Peace Catholic School in Clinton, saying the group’s support for gay rights conflicts with church doctrine.The announcement comes after a school official signed a document last month that promised to let a representative of the foundation’s scholarship committee present the award to Fuller.

Writes Fuller, in an open letter to The Prince of Peace Student Body and Staff:
This past March, I was made aware by our school of an incredible scholarship opportunity. The Matthew Shepard Scholarship is awarded to a few LGBT students across the state of Iowa each year by the Eychaner Foundation in honor of a young man who was beaten and later died because of his sexual orientation. The purpose of the scholarship is not only to honor the recipients for their efforts working for the acceptance of the LGBT community, but also to raise awareness and understanding throughout the state.

After becoming one of eight finalists interviewed, I was very excited. The moment I was told that I had been awarded a 2012 Gold Matthew Shepard Scholarship was one of the happiest of my life. It made me feel that my efforts had truly paid off. When word got around about this achievement, I received a great deal of praise from many of you, for which I am extremely grateful.

Part of receiving this generous scholarship includes having a member of the scholarship committee present the award at each student’s graduation or awards ceremonies. This protocol was communicated to the school as part of the scholarship materials and the scholarship committee received written confirmation that should a scholarship be awarded, a representative from the scholarship committee would be allowed to present it in person to me at graduation. Upon being selected for the award in very early April, the scholarship committee wrote to the school confirming that a committee member would present the award on May 20th.

However, on Friday, April 27th, my family and I were told by the school that a member of the foundation would not be permitted to present this award at graduation. The scholarship committee has not been notified of this decision and my family has been put in the middle, so my family has asked for a reversal of the decision.

Fuller plans to attend the University of Iowa on his scholarship.  There's a Change.org petition asking the school to allow Keaton to receive his award from the Scholarship Committee, with dignity.

UPDATE:  The story having gone viral, the general condemnation directed at the Catholic Bishop and school administration has apparently led to a compromise.  The Matthew Shepard scholarship will be presented by a member of the Foundation --who will not speak.  The diocesan Superintendent of Schools will read a prepared message from the Foundation (which the Church is presumably able to edit as its employee will be holding the text), and Keaton Fuller, clearly from the tone of his letter the adult in the room in this case,  WILL get the $40,000 and the recognition he so richly deserves.

No gay person other than Keaton will be heard, and small minds will be served

*********


Saturday, May 05, 2012

 
We'll always have Paris Nadia Boulanger

Fritz and I know a couple of composers and many musicians personally and a vast number more just from being life-long lovers of music, music of all kinds.  And it has always been astonishing when looking up the bios of the composers we like, or that I'm researching for some talk or other, to see how many of them are listed as having studied with Nadia Boulanger.  In fact, there's an old joke in the music world that every town in America had a Woolworth's 5 & 10 Cents store and a Nadia Boulanger-trained composer.

Madame Boulanger (1887-1979) never married and spent much of her life wearing mourning for her sister Lili, a major prodigy in composition and performance who died at age 24 in 1918 of Crohn's Disease.  Nadia was herself a composer and conductor and had a vast memory for musical scores of composers of all styles and eras of music.  She traveled widely and often, her visits to the U.S. resulting in her being the first woman to conduct the Boston and Philadelphia Orchestras as well as the New York Philharmonic.   She lectured at Harvard University, Radcliffe and Wellesley Colleges.  She helped revive the music of early composers such a Monteverdi and Rameau and, toward the end of her rather fabulous life, was invited to arrange all the music for the marriage of Princess Grace of Monaco.  She had medals and orders of merit bestowed on her by a slew of countries.  When she died, she was laid to rest next to Lili in Paris's Cemetery of Montmartre.

Among her activities were conducting concerts to benefit the movement for Women's Rights, although she denied being a feminist herself and even made the astonishing statement that women should not be given the vote because they "lacked the necessary political sophistication."  

Madame didn't teach how to compose music -- her pupils came to her as established composers for her critical analysis of their work, her challenges to them to explore and develop different areas of their talent.  She maintained that each one had to be approached differently.  Ned Rorem called her the most influential teacher since Socrates.  American composers -- Irving Fine, Roger Sessions, Elliot Carter, Douglas Moore, Roy Harris, Virgil Thomson, Aaron Copland, Gian Caro Menotti, Philip Glass, James Yannatos (whose opera I designed last year just before his death) and Thomas Pasatieri, among many, many others from all over the world, including music critics, conductors and performers flocked to her.  After an extensive questioning of George Gershwin, she concluded there was nothing left she could teach him.  Stunned, but accepting her words as a compliment, he departed.

More surprising than these classical music giants were others from pop, Broadway and film whose music she did not find beneath her in any way: Burt Bacharach, Quincy Jones, Charles Strouse, Joe Raposo (the Muppets!) and, again, a host of others.  

Whenever one of us comes across the credit proudly announced in a program bio or elsewhere that Composer X studied with Madame, he calls out, "guess who ELSE studied with Nadia Boulanger?"  It's one of the many private jokes between us, we dissolve into laughter and wonder, who DIDN'T study with Nadia Boulanger?. 

**********


From the Facebook page, I Fucking Love Science -- and isn't it surprising to see the F word, unedited by replacing a couple of letters with asterisks -- as the title of a Facebook page? 

Singapore's SuperTrees! Enormous vertical gardens in the form of 150-foot-tall tree-like structures. The structures support solar panels, collect rainwater, provide ventilation for two major underground plant conservatories. The 18 structures are also planted with over 200,000 plants; the horticultural trimmings are composted into biofuels.

They also suggest the columns and fan vaults of some Gothic cathedral that has otherwise fallen into compete ruin.  There are a large number of them -- perhaps now they just hold up the sky!

*********

Fashion designer Kenneth Cole has become famous all over again for his billboards supporting social justice of all kinds, including the dreaded (gasp!) homosexual agenda.  I'm not sure where this one is, but I see one of his every time I drive into or out of Manhattan on the Henry Hudson Parkway up around 125th Street.  They're always to the point, strikingly direct, uncluttered (the man's a designer, after all) and very frequently witty.  Wit is a quality I value -- a little wry humor instead of always going for the belly laugh.  And the sentiments on Mr. Cole's billboards are always what we used to call in the 60s, right on.

You know, I miss the 60s -- there was a lot of upheaval and some terrible things happened in the 60s, but it was all in the service of making the U.S. inclusive of ALL of its citizens regardless of race or gender or sexuality.  "Activist" was not a dirty word then, but stood for working for progress.  Not like now when everything we strove for in the 60 has been declared by some people to be unAmerican, or communist, socialist, Kenyan, unChristian, unBiblical, or likely to deprive a miniscule portion of the population of its god-given right to vast amounts of wealth and economic domination over everyone else.

I'm proud to have been part of the 60s. 



This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?