Macaulay Seminar One at Brooklyn College
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Snapshot event

I arrived at the Macaulay building alone, dropped off by my father. My parents are not very happy with me for understandable reasons, and quite frankly I was feeling depressed and hopeless as I walked into the Macaulay building. I had a negative mindset from the get go.

I walked around the building with preconceived thoughts that these pictures were bland and had no real artistic significance. Tons of pictures of the Hudson river and the New York Sky line, Time Square and other bustling centers of the city. You could tell the difference between the people who put a lot of effort into their pictures and those who just snapped a quick photo. Of course We were going to have the people posting pictures of their fancy meals, but you never see the shot of the meal they eat after that. Tons of clouds, everywhere. Thank you for the picture of the Brooklyn Bridge, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it!

Now that I’ve gotten my Scrooge-attitude out of the way, I then began to simmer down and ignore the situation that had been stressing me out. I noticed all the people around me, working diligently at their laptops, speaking with their group members, and conversing with friends. I hadn’t approached anyone since I entered the building. I saw Kyle from Macaulay at Brooklyn and talked to him for a minute. He’s a cool guy and talking to him calmed me down more. He was so caught up in a paper he had to write, you could tell it was stressing him out, but he was trying to stay positive.

At this moment, I started to think a little differently then how I was when I entered the snapshot event. At first, I was cynical and angry, ridiculing the whole event to myself and hating without reason. Although, Kyle reminded me of something that is quite obvious, and might seem silly to bring up. That point was that I’m not the only one going through stress right now. It’s coming close to finals, and everyone is starting to hanker down for the long, arduous period of studying. We all need an escape from these processes, and sometimes the presence of others is all you need.

From then on, I didn’t look at the photos the same way as I had before. Instead, I thought about what that person was doing on the day they took that photo, and what they were feeling. Maybe they were having one of the most horrible days ever when they took that picture of the man creating gigantic bubbles. Maybe the man sitting on the subway that the student took a picture of reminds them of their uncle that they love, but who is a lost man. Maybe that letter to Banksy really made that student laugh, and brightened their day for at least a little while.

In the end, I walked out of the Macaulay building feeling much better then when I had entered. The photos had reminded me of the insignificance of the small things I had been worrying about, and at the end of the day everything will work itself out. We all live on this planet together, through happiness and hardship. Just sometimes we need to remind ourselves we’re not the only ones.

December 8, 2013   1 Comment

American Ballet

As a soccer player, I have a deep respect for those who push their physical strength to perform fantastic feats. Like many talents, physical prowess takes a huge dedication to practice and regimentation. For these reasons I commend the ballerinas. It is ridiculous how they dance around in those flattened-toe shoes, prancing across the stage like an elegant creature. None 0f their movements were human, as in performed on a regular basis in everyday life. This is one of the true spectacles of the Ballet. There is a fantasy aspect of Ballet that is translated through the movements of the dancers. Based on their movements, I don’t believe anyone could believe that these Men and Women go about their lives everyday, walking, just like we do.

This being said, overall I wasn’t such a huge fan of the Ballet. I think in its traditional form, it is a dying art. Our generation needs to be constantly challenged by their senses to stay interested. Now, elegant ballerinas have been replaced with break dancers who can perform some of the most ridiculous feats of all dancers. Also, the music and culture of break dancing is accepted in our culture, while Ballet is viewed as “ancient” and “dull”.

The first two ballets didn’t do anything for me. I do not mean to downplay the skill of the performance, but I simply was not left a-gasped for a single moment. I wasn’t surprised or on the edge of my seat. I was more concerned with my gummy bears at the time.

despite all this, I have to say that I did enjoy the last ballet. The costumes were eye catching, and promoted the “fantasy” side of ballet that I enjoy the most. The movements were certainly not conventional, and I loved it. The dancers moved in a fluid, oscillating manner that was almost hypnotizing to watch. As I watched, I imagined the dancers as small molecules of the universe, reacting to each others charges and running the universe.

November 16, 2013   No Comments

9/11

I remember september 11th, 2001 in short bursts of memories. I remember sitting in my kitchen, the door open, and it was early in the day. We had been let out of school early, but I don’t remember leaving the school. I remember the warmth of the early september 11th weather pouring into the kitchen, a nostalgic taste of the summer prior. I had been eating a cream cheese and jelly sandwich, sitting far away from the table and staring at the t.v. I saw both towers in pieces. My mother was in another room, probably talking to her friends still living in the city. I realized the severity of the situation, but as a child I could not fully absorb the emotional toll of this disaster.

My father had been a fire fighter for 20 years, serving in Harlem, the Bronx and Yonkers, and had finally retired only a few months before 9/11. When he heard news of the crisis, he immediately began to make his way down to Manhattan. He ran into plenty of traffic, and arrived on the scene long after both towers had fallen. He saw the wreckage first hand; I don’t think my Dad will ever reconcile what happened on that horrible day. My Dad knew many of the fireman who died fighting to save the lives of the victims, and had even worked in the same Ladder as some of them. Tragedy was all around us. Another family in my hometown Pleasantville lost a father in the incident, Captain Charles William Garbarini. Today, there’s a basketball court at the Pleasantville Middle School named in his honor. I used to skate there when I was younger, and anytime I fell on my ass, I thought about Mr. Garbarini, and how he gave his all on that dreaded date. It used to push me, and it used to make me mad. Mad that something so horrible as this could have ever happened.

It wasn’t until all these first hand accounts that I began to feel the depth of the tragedy. Every St. Patrick’s day, My father dresses in a dark black fireman’s suit, and wears the purple insgnia of the 311 firemen that lost their lives. I march as well, and deep down I march for those who were lost too along with my Irish county.

Surprisingly, I had never visited the 9/11 memorial before last Thursday. My Mom has been dying to come down and see it, but it’s different for my Dad. I think he’s scared of reliving his own memories on 9/11. So, as I entered the memorial I thought of my dad, and my mom, and all the people they knew who died on 9/11, and the others I didn’t know.

I thought it was beautiful the first minute upon entering. The trees all lined up, and perfectly spaced from each other. They gave a sense of life in the memorial, that something could grow out of this desolate location. And of course, the waterfalls. I thought they really nailed the design and concepts behind the piece. The water was beautiful as it made its decent into the unknown abyss. The area was silent, people held their tongues and held their heads low, with the sound of rushing water rolling in the background. The sound was soothing, and sent me into a mood of tranquility and humility. I think everyone wanted to hear the water running. It calmed the nerves and eased our thoughts, as if the voices of those who past were embedded in each drop of water.

I was thrilled to find Mr. Garbarini’s name written down surrounding the Southern Tower. I felt a happiness flood over me, and I began to smirk a little. Something about seeing his name there made everything I’d ever felt for this day O.K.. I felt at peace about the whole thing, and had a very reflective day from then on. It felt good to finally visit the memorial. I hope one day my Dad could come down here, and feel that same O.K I experienced.

November 4, 2013   No Comments

International Center of Photography (A.K.A Insane Clown Posse)

I really enjoyed the concept of Zoe Strauss’s exhibit. I agree that there is so much beauty that surrounds us on a daily basis, yet we ignore such things and consider them boring or grotesque. Her pictures showcase the poverty and dysfunctional culture of Southern Philadelphia and the sketchy areas of New Jersey. Each picture was grotesque and at some points downright depressing, but there was a lot of beauty within. From prostitutes to Vietnam veterans, almost every subject had a smile on their face, or looked as if they were excited about something. This proves that money and fortune do not equate to happiness. These people, with almost nothing in their lives, still find the will to laugh, smile and joke around with their counterparts. Within this concept is the true meaning of Strauss’s exhibit; The setting you live in should not dictate your emotional standings and love for others. It is the small things in life that are important and tend to be the most beautiful; the crooked, sarcastic smile of a prostitute, the embrace between two veterans, one without an arm, in their sketchy hotel room.

My favorite, out of all the pieces, was the Chanel naval ring from Ocean City, New Jersey, 2009. It brings to light the disgusting and horrid reality of what our society usually refers to as sexy. You can see the naval is beginning to infect, and a liquid is starting to seep from the top. But, what really caught my eye about this piece was if you look closely into the silver ball at the top of the ring, you can see the reflection of the camerawoman, as well as her counterpart.

October 22, 2013   No Comments

Julliard Jazz Quartet Extravaganza

Jazz is such a wonderful genre of music. In my opinion, it is the ultimate musical style you can express emotions and feelings¬†through orchestration and personal playing style. The boundaries of Jazz are extremely loose, leaving massive room for personal touch within the music. As a jazz musician I can vouch for these opinions. When I’m on stage about to improvise with either my guitar or saxophone, the moment before playing I realize what I do next is completely up to me. This is not very common in other genres of music. When I’m taking a solo, the voice of the instrument and my creative spark become one, and it is a truly epic experience.

When I found out we were going to see the Julliard Jazz Quartet, I became super excited immediately. I love going to see jazz, and a quartet comprised of Julliard’s Jazz professors would definitely prove to be interesting. I thought they picked a great variety of music, choosing songs that counteracted each others’ emotional overtones as well as musical style. I specifically liked the Thelonious Monk piece “Nutty” and the ballad “For Duke”. The saxophonist had a strong, smooth tone that bounced up and down arpeggios like it was nothing. The drummer was the obvious leader of the band, his syncopation rhythmically delicious and his intensity inspiring. The piano player was a grand accompanist, with a Monk-esque style that created beauty through dissonance. The bass player was damn solid, and his tone was comfortingly warm. He didn’t showboat like some Jazz bassists, and always kept the time, which is the most important task.

We discussed in class how the quartet thanked the crowd for coming to the show, showed their appreciation for our open minds and even went as far as to say “they love us”. To some, this might be a strange notion, that men you’ve never met in your life before could love you simply for listening. As a musician, I could not agree more with the quartet. Whether they like it or not, the audience is a very crucial player in the success of a performance. When you’re about to solo, you can feel the eyes of the crowd over you, and you can feel their anticipation in a glance. You try to come off as cool and collective, but inside you’re about to explode with emotion and passion. You feed off of the crowds’ a gasped mouths and widened eyes. their emotions become entangled with your own, and all of a sudden music is flowing through you and you’re not even sure where its coming from. That is why the quartet can so abruptly fall in love with the audience. Every performance is different than the last. Different people, different temperaures in the room, different clothes, different emotions and thoughts, different air humidity, different pasts and futures. This all plays into the success of a performance, guiding the music and its musicians through the here and now.

 

September 23, 2013   No Comments