Day Off at the DIA

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I had a bad day at work yesterday and decided to have a great day to compensate.

I started with a very nice breakfast while I listen to the NPR webstream of the Newport Jazz Festival. It was recorded but they played the sets unaltered from the original playing of the set. I got to hear Jean Baptiste, a young pianist from Louisiana, who I had heard and met at the Detroit Jazz Festival a few years ago. It is so exciting to see a young performer with talent grow. One of the numbers he played was “St. James Infirmary” which was one of my first musical loves.

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It was almost like I was there.

The Detroit Institute of Arts is one of my favorite places in Detroit. It is a place where I can get lost for days. With Detroit in bankruptcy, the creditor banks who were loony enough and bereft of due diligence and lent Detroit money now want to loot the DIA. The collection may disappear into the homes of billionaires. At the same time, our nutty state governor, Rick Snyder, wants the citizens of Detroit to pay for a new stadium. Did I mention that it will not benefit Detroit but will benefit one of our local billionaires? So, I am planning on spending a lot of my time there and take it all in again and again.

Today, I passed one of my landmark sculptures on the way from the parking lot to the door.

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It was a beautiful day for a picture and the museum closes at 5:00 p.m. so there would still a lot of day left. I walked in and up the back stairs to what was my son’s favorite room. It is at the front entrance and is a room full of suit of armor and medieval weaponry. Today there were easels set up for the Sunday program where the museum sets up sketch easels so anyone can try to make some art.

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I walked through the armor gallery and into the Diego Rivera murals on all four walls and up to the ceiling. As a side note, his wife was Frida Kahlo. Diego did the murals in the 1930s and was an alleged communist. Some of his work was destroyed because of his politics. In the 1950s, there were signs in the room to defend the artistic merit of the mural named “Detroit Industry”. There are many music programs in the room and I have had the pleasure of looking at it for so many years.

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This is a picture of the south wall. There is so much symbolism here. The very large stamping machine depicted on the wall is reminiscent of a native Mexican goddess. The two large figures at the top are symbolic representations of Caucasians and Asians. One the opposite wall the figures are Negro and Native American. There is so much to see.

I moved on to my favorite galleries. The impressionist galleries are where I can relax and breathe deeply. I was in the mood for Van Gogh today. There are three hanging in the museum. One is a self portrait painted in 1887. I like the way I can walk up to it and be only inches away so I can look at each brush stroke. Then, step back and see how the dabs form the picture.

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The other Van Gogh I like is called “The Diggers” and was painted in1889. The brush strokes are a lot broader and less defined than the self portrait.

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I took a turn into the next gallery to see my favorite example pointillism painted by Camille Pissarro. I stood before it walking backward and forward. It works so well.

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And then to the next gallery to visit Whistler. I grew up on the iconic ” Whistler’s Mother” or “Study in Black and Grey” so when I saw “Nocturne in Black and Gold: Falling Rocket”, it was not what I expected.

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I went on to the Kresge Court to have some chips and listen to Biddy Budson play some jazz on the piano. Some of the tables have iPads firmly attached so you can get a bit of art history or just surf the Internet. My doctor was there and came up to talk to me approaching from behind. She said she wasn’t sure it was me since she usually sees me with my clothes off. We talked for a few minutes and it was time for the museum to close and for me to go home and listen to the rest of the Newport Jazz Festival.

TV for Dogs

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I have Directv in my home. Yesterday they had a message that told me about a new subscription channel called DogTV. And yes, your right, it is a channel with content for dogs. It is supposed to provide relaxation, stimulation and exposure to new things. It is colorized for dogs. They also said with HD technology, the dogs can actually see it. And supposedly will watch it. They have a trial period. They want you to pay for it. The promos really play on guilt about leaving your dog alone.

My dog has given no indication that she wants to watch TV. Since it is free for a week, I will be running it while I’m at work today and see if it has any effect on her. Will my greeting be different? Perhaps she won’t want to leave the TV when I get home. Maybe she’ll object when I change the channel. Only time will tell.

Blogging Benefits

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The first benefit I noticed from blogging was that I got to show things from my point of view. I have strong opinions. i talk about my dog, garden, music, food and more. I am an educated person who travels in an uneducated world a lot of the time. Sometimes it is a choice and sometimes a circumstance. Blogging allowed me to express some of the disconnect I feel.

Also, I am in Detroit a lot for music. I see the beauty and the warts. I get to talk about the beauty. And soon I will talk about some of the warts. Another view of Detroit…

The surprise was being able to access the blogs of so many others and read their stories. I see snapshots of life from around the world. It is in a form where I can take it in and reflect. That is truly the best and has expanded my world.

Thanks to all you bloggers….

Detroit Concert of Colors…

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Yesterday was the last day for the Concert of Colors this year. The festival has three stages and there were things I wanted to see all day long. I delayed going to midtown Detroit just a bit due to rain since my plans included starting at the outdoor stage.

The first group on my plan was Wissal belles as an Arab fusion group combining Arab, klezmer, classical Indian and American influences. They were on the last few numbers and there were a few drops of rain.

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They has a mandolin, guitar, and clarinet. The percussion was a a skin stretched over a rim in several sizes. There was a stringed instrument I hadn’t seen before. The music was melodic and the real difference I heard was in the percussion which was more pronounced and a part of the music than most of the music I hear.

A stand up comedian named Horace Sanders did an attempt at comedy while one group was tearing down and the next group was setting up and doing the sound check. It was not the best.

The next group was Ben Sharkey named after the vocalist. It is a Detroit group and I have not seen them. I had seen all the musicians(Kris Kurzawa, Takashi Io, and Nate Winn) except the vocalist Ben Sharkey. The music was loud enough to vibrate my body at this point. He is very good and I enjoyed most of the set. As a vocalist, he uses his voice as an instrument. On his own compositions, his words were supposed to tell the story with the music as background. At first, the mic was muffled and improved so that the last few songs were really good.

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The next set was jazz billed as Sean Dobbins and is my home. I had seen all the musicians(Sean Dobbins, Marcus Elliot, Ralph Tope and Chris Codish). I stayed for a number for two. They were as usual good. I wanted to catch a bite to eat before the next set and left for the food court.

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The food court was full and the selections were different than the previous day. There was no short cake so I bought the chicken and waffles. The server put maple syrup on the waffles and some of it migrated to the chicken. It was so good(it may not have been that good but I was so hungry) except for the chicken with the maple syrup drips.

The next set was Calypso Rose with Universal Xpression. I like the reggae beat and was looking forward to the set. The mic was muffled again and it was hard to understand anything. The spokesman who I think was call Mellowman said things that were just no clear due to the mic. After a few thoroughly enjoyable numbers, they introduced Calypso Rose.

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There was another two tier key set up to the left and a trumpet with two saxes. The mic has cleared slightly for Calypso Rose so she was a little clearer. This is the kind of music that lightens my mood and it did.

I left Calypso Rose to get to a set where I had no idea of what I would hear. The group was called Samba Mapangala which is basically an East African dance band.

20130708-123111.jpgSo, for the next hour and a half people danced. The seats vibrated with the music and as the dancing took off, the beat of the feet of the dancers on the floor began to add to the movement of the seats. I can remember sitting at the top of the venue a couple of years ago. At the top the vibration is magnified. The music was electrifying. People of all ages, sizes and colors were dancing with each other in a concert of colors. Walking back to the car, I passed the Chris Canas Blues Band and was too tired to stop and listen for more than a few minutes.

There was only one splash of fireworks in the sky on the way home and I arrived to find a calm and hungry dog. And there is the Paradise Valley Festival at Hart Plaza weekend after next.

Thunderstorms and Firecrackers

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My thirteen year old dog, Bonnie, has always been sensitive with sound. She is a silky terrier and like most silky terriers, she is very active and alert. She is also a very cuddly lap dog.

I got her in April of 2000. I soon found out that she shook in terror at the sound of thunder. She also barked furiously when she heard thunder. The sequence was thunderclap, ensue barking, thunder stops and a shaking dog remains.. I decided and it was a decision since I do not read doggy minds that Bonnie believed that her barking stopped the thunder. I tried to look at it from her point of view. Thunder, bark and thunder stops and shake to get ready for the next thunder. She was a powerful little doggy. This was not so bad during the day. At night it was not good for sleeping. I made the mistake of letting her sleep on the bed so could comfort her. She is still on the bed. During storms, she began to lay on top of my head shaking.

The fireworks reactions soon followed. Fireworks are a traditional way to celebrate the Fourth of July. They are readily available in Michigan and somehow the celebration sporadically starts in June and seems to go until late summer. Since fireworks noise is brief, her reaction is just shaking with fear.

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When she was a younger dog, the behavior was extreme. As she got older, it began to moderate. It was still strong enough to hinder my sleeping at night. Whenever there was a thunderstorm, I still woke up with a dog on my head. And it seemed as if she was stuck on with Velcro. On warm summer nights, having a warm, hairy dog on my head was not a good feeling.

About a year ago I bought a Thundershirt for her.

Last night, we had the combo. Firecrackers were going off a couple of doors down down the street in the evening and they were followed by a thunderstorm. I held up the Thundershirt and she stood still so I could put it on her. She now knows that it makes her feel calm. After it was on her, she collapsed to the side and went to sleep. Her only storm/fireworks reaction now is that she wants me between her and the window.
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