The Actual Summer Cool-Down

September 20, 2011

Well, there’s nothing like skinny women brushing down the streets with their trailing dusters and rain, rain, and more rain to signal that summer has come to a close and that chilly, grey days are here to stay. And the Autumnal Equinox officially arrives this Friday. Bah. Time to get in a couple more sun salutations before it really isn’t “’tis the season” anymore.

So… summer is fading, yes. In its place, we fill our hearts with the warmth of creative energy. Here are some items and projects I’m really digging while I go about my days in denial of this dreaded seasonal transition.

1. Keith Haring-inspired designs

Whole Foods is selling purses or at least lunch bags with prints of Keith Haring’s squiggle people in  simple red and black color choices. But I’ve been thinking back to some chairs I saw years ago in Barcelona, modular furniture in fact, that also featured blown-up prints of Haring’s designs. A mere search of the internet oracle doesn’t turn up the designs stored in my memory, but Keith Haring chairs of other varieties are definitely a reality.

2. Rethink NYC

Rethink NY(C)

I came across this poster on the subway, and I really like its clever subversion of the rampant urbanism (of the concrete variety) of New York City with the use of borrowed imagery — the manicured lushness of Central Park, were it able to skip its bounds or jump its banks (pick your metaphor).

3. Sara K. Rubin Ceramics

I’ve been thinking a lot about S.K.R. and her pottery because of a designer (to be discussed in a later post) that I see at work all the time now, whose creations remind me of Sara’s gorgeous wall hangings.

And the best for last!

4. Scarfy!

Video by angela+ithyle

Designlovefests’s Bri Emery told me there were no rules so I got much more excited about my underloved scarf collection. Et tu?

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April’s Flowers

April 1, 2011

Hello, April!

I wanted to kick off a new series for the month of April, exploring the ways poetry is truly alive in music today, with something fully spring-themed (even though today’s East-coast weather seems to indicate otherwise). This is a fresh song, composed by young songwriters in a sprightly one day! session. Its theme? Rooftop gardens and love. Perfect, right?

The High Line, New York's premier park of the decade, styled after the rooftop garden model.

This beauty is called “Reservoirs,” and it sprouted in one stunning day at a small New York indie recording studio called Dubway Studios, through the collaboration of artists Vienna Teng and Ben Arthur, along with their talented musician friends at Dubway. (For some reason, it looks like the studio released this brand-new creation as a Vienna tune, not a Vienna and Ben duet, though I imagine you’ll probably hear them both singing it live plenty of times, if you choose to check out their concerts. Ben’s touring the continent right now, though, so poor little me won’t get to see that live set for a while yet.) This is all remark-able in three particular ways:

1) The studio, through BreakThru Radio (BTR; Careful, their site will immediately start talking at you!), has just launched the coolest little series a music fan could ever dream of, in which these fateful one-day fests are organized again and again, filmed and edited into “Dubway Days,” which you can watch from the comfort of YouTube, as no doubt you already know if, in a bit of a haste, you followed the link! :)

2) I discovered Vienna Teng’s incredible artistry about a year and a half ago, through the magic of Last.FM. I wanted to find more artists like my all-time favorite creator, Tori Amos. And bam! First Vienna’s terrific cover of  Tori’s “1000 Oceans,” then her own “Pontchartrain,” streamed past. Its lithe lyrical bravado (the word here reclaimed for a positive connotation, obviously) struck an emotional chord, and the song’s climax recalled medieval cathedrals and choral chants — how could I not be hooked? I can’t wait to hear her live in a month or so. If not for her collaborations with Alex Wong, I would have missed out on a very emotional night at Rockwood last month. (Yes, sorry, still meaning to put all my zinging thoughts on that into a coherent post.) Vienna is one of my biggest inspirations right now, not only through her powerful music, but also because she’s dabbled in several career paths in just one decade, and her path has led her to a joint MBA and Masters in Environmental Science. There’s nothing cooler. Oh, wait. Songs inspired by graduate school reading on rooftop gardens! There’s that! (Oh, also, if you want to get in touch, she’s on Twitter, and, occasionally, she even has Formspring Q&A sessions – I’ve gotta try that sometime!)

3) I’ve now been introduced to Ben Arthur.

Technically, that's a March flower, but why quibble?

So much remarkable! Now on to the sung verses, available here thanks to Emily X.R. Pan’s helpful post!

Reservoirs

Voices fly, tracing the skyline
And spiraling up through the grass,
Across wood and steel and clambering vines.
The day is fading fast,

But love, love, there’s light in my garden.
Love, love, you just have to jump.
The city below, the taxicab slow,
Love is all that ever was.

These reservoirs are minarets, irises cornflower blue,
Clouds of caraway thyme.
You flared like a match, struck in the dead-of-night gloom,
Leaving me blind.

Now love, love, there’s light in the garden.
Love, love, you just have to jump.
The city below, the taxicab slow,
For love is all that ever was.

Every morning,
I want you to be
the first thing that I touch,
the first thing I see.

Love, love, there’s light in my garden.
Love, love, leap to my arms–
One step then two,
Keep your eyes on my roof,
For love is all that ever was,
Love is all that ever was,
… is all that ever was

Thoughts? Reactions? C’mon, guys, did you weep?