Back from Israel

August 3, 2014 Leave a comment
Tzfat, Israel

Tzfat, Israel

My wife and I just returned from two weeks in Israel with the Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP) mission, “Follow Me To Israel.”  The 10-day mission was to interview youth groups visiting Israel to find out their motivations for coming and learn about their experience there, and also to explore first hand the range of opportunities that Israel offers to young people.   Now that we are back it will be our job to promote trips to Israel for teenagers at our synagogue.

It was a very action-packed trip, as each day we interviewed a youth group or two and had a lecture or presentation or brainstorming session, and also toured an historic site.  We spent a few nights in Jerusalem, a couple nights in Haifa, and then a few more nights in Jerusalem.  We returned to our hotel happily exhausted every night.  We return to Boston energized and equipped with the information and experiences we need to promote Israel travel.

At the end of the Israel phase of the mission we left the group and went off on our own to spend three relatively leisurely days in the city of Tzfat in northern Israel.  Tzfat (often shown on the map as Safed) is said to be the birthplace of Kabbalah and remains a center for Jewish spirituality today, as it has been for thousands of years.  There we were able to make  personal connections with several remarkable people.  Although we were universally welcomed throughout Israel, especially since we did not cancel our trip due to current circumstances there, in Tzfat I think we found some of the friendliest people I have ever met.

Concerning the Conflict:

As our Israel journey was approaching, hostilities escalated between Israel and Gaza.   Our CJP sponsors satisfied our safety concerns and so we did not change our plans, but went as scheduled on July 15, 2014.  As we traveled through Israel under the watchful eyes of “The Situation Room”, an Israeli office run by the Israeli police, the IDF and the Israeli environmental agency that advises all groups visiting Israel about where it may be safe or unsafe to go, and our excellent guides, logistics people and leaders, we neither saw nor heard any direct evidence of the conflict.

Although our itinerary was changed daily, we never knew it because they never told us where we were going until they were sure themselves.   The itineraries of the groups we were to interview were being changed daily as well, so our itinerary was a dynamically unfolding phenomenon.

We heard no sirens and saw no rockets but were advised what to do should we hear an air raid alert. As our journey unfolded we saw more IDF soldiers.  On our way north we saw many heavy equipment trailers loaded with Israeli tanks on the southbound side.  Israeli fighter jets flew at high altitude over Tzvat and Tel Aviv.

Yet wherever we went people were welcoming and friendly.  They were happy to see us, glad that we did not cancel our trip in time of trouble.  “It’s very bad this time,” I heard several Israelis say on several different occasions.  Israel is a very small country, so the degrees of separation tend to be less than one might find in larger nations.

Inevitably as conversation progressed with the Israelis we met, it would emerge that someone they know had been called to active duty, was engaged in combat or combat support, or was sadly wounded or killed in the line of duty.   The daughter of Asher, our guide, a champion swimmer, had been called to active duty before we arrived.  Rabbi Binny Freedman’s son, who shared Shabbat dinner with us reported to breakfast on Sunday in his IDF uniform and left from there to join the other fighters in the south.   I do not think that it is a stretch to say that almost every Israeli knows someone close to them who is, was, or will be directly involved in the conflict.

I pray that peace will come soon.

Vacation

I neglected to mention that I will be mostly offline between July 15th and 28th, 2014, but I will doubtless have much to share upon my return.  Poetry submitted to Eye On Life in July will be considered for publication during the month of August.

I recently joined ReverbNation, having noticed that my talented friends Tracy Clark and Louise Van Aarson did so.  I notice that there are many ways to spend money at ReverbNation.  When I have more tunes I feel might be ready for public consumption perhaps I will avail myself of a few.

Thanks to all who stop by this far flung exit off the information superhighway.  I hope you are having a wonderful summer.  I did leave a little something for you to listen to called, “Tango with Danger.”  I hope you enjoy it.

PINNashoba002

“The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.”

– J.R.R. Tolkien

 

Bubbles and Streamers

PINNashoba004Motion is a lovely illusion, full of nuance and visual stimuli.  The orderly-seeming motion of water and the mysterious effects of moving air are certainly fascinating phenomena.  Motion only exists because of relative position.   The motion of an object can only measured by its changing relationship to some other object.   It must be traveling either away from or toward some other thing.  Both objects are either in the process of coming to be or ceasing to be.   The path of the moving object is always a curve because both the objects and their relative motion have separate relationships with the energy and motion of the expanding universe.

In the midst of all these unpredictable eddies and currents I write to you unsure of everything, including my own existence – or perhaps yours, or both.   One might ask, why?  But why might one ask?

During the month of June, The Poetry Locksmith feature at Eye On Life was blessed with a good crop of poetry submissions.   We posted poetry from perennial contributor Donal Mahoney, new poets J.K. Durick, Frank C. Praeger, Cynthia Vantresca, Maria Picone and others, and returning poets Michael Estabrook and Diane Webster.   Please stop by and read their fine work.  You can read some of my work there, too.

Things have quieted down musically, as they usually do in the summer when many of the musicians I play with are away.  I will also be away for a couple of weeks and away from my instrument as well, so when I return I can look forward to getting my chops back.  I did manage to get the last piece from our recording session up at Soundcloud if you would like to hear it.

I have been working on some new music and will keep you posted as to my progress.

I wrote a couple more articles about door hardware, too, if that is one of your vices ;)

Thanks once again for stopping by.

Ramping Up

pin001cI have been even busier than usual.  It has been fun.

Backtracking, the Too Klez For Comfort concert at St. Peter’s Church in Cambridge went exceedingly well and we were invited back next fall to play for dancing folk downstairs – a distinct promotion in my view.  We were complimented on commentary by members of the band on the history and circumstances of the music – truly high praise.  I look forward to playing there again.

Unclaimed Freight played at Copperfield’s in Boston’s famed Kenmore Square – upstairs this time, if you please – and were blessed by the presence of many familiar faces wishing us well.  I think we will be playing there again and I am glad to think so.  The sound guy there is really amazing.  I think this may be the first UC gig where I could actually hear myself and everyone else in the band, too.  Meredith – our female lead singer – made her first appearance since the birth of her child, now two months old, and we were very happy to welcome her back.

I am continuing to work on my own music as well and look forward to performing it at some venue in the Greater Boston area.  I’ll keep you posted.

At Eye On Life this week we have new poetry by Gil Hoy, Donal Mahoney and Rob Dyer, and I wrote a couple of poems as well, one called “Al Dente” and another called “Psalm.”

There is a bit of travel in my future, but more on that later.

 

 

Conscious of the Illusion (and other stuff, too)

south_stationFirst of all, please stop by and check out the winners of the last ever Eye On Life Poetry Contest.   There is some good stuff there.  Now on to “the illusion.”

The biggest shell game is time.   Einstein scratched the surface of the complexities of time, including its elasticity.   Planck gave us a clue about universal connective energy.  Yet if you visualize the immense busyness of our galaxy with its ubiquitous time-bending phenomena and dizzying eddies of matter and energy, realizing that it is just a small part of the universe as we know it, the idea of time as an absolute begins to seem absurd.

Given this inherent absurdity the effects of time become suspect; yet locked into our inexorable march from cradle to grave and subjected to rhythmically alternating light and darkness (day and night) we tend to passively watch as things (including people, i.e. us) wear, sag and age.  Flash a light in your face every five seconds for a couple of years and you’ll go crazy.  That’s why we all are.   Crazy, that is.

Speaking of crazy, I took my music into the studio with some friends and recorded four tunes.  You can hear them at my Soundcloud page.  They came out pretty well, I think.  I think “Crazy As Me” came out the best.   Also at Soundcloud are “More Salsa Please” and “No I Don’t Miss You.”

I have spoken with the band leader of Unclaimed Freight and we have agreed in principal to book a gig at The Lilypad in Cambridge next fall.  The idea is that I’ll do two sets and then they (and me) will do two sets.   I’ll keep you posted on all that.   I am writing new music for the occasion to play with my “old stuff”.  Ha.

Too Klez for Comfort will be performing at St. Peter’s Church at 838 Mass Ave, Central  Sq in Cambridge on May 27th, 7 PM.   Yesterday we performed at a private party at Biogen in Kendall Square, Cambridge.  All in all, the Cambridge thing is working out.

Unclaimed Freight will be performing at the second annual Techjam in Boston on June 12 at Boston City Hall Plaza.  Don’t worry, I’ll mention it again.

Culminations

March 29, 2014 Leave a comment

A time of endings and beginnings.  microwave_tree

Monday is the deadline for entering the Eye On Life Poetry Contest, offering $150 in prizes.  As it stands right now there are five poets entered, so odds are great for all of them.  If you were to enter right now you would have approximately a 1 in 6 chance of winning the $100 first prize.   Of course there are usually a few last minute entries, so in the end the odds may not be quite as spectacular as they are now, but I’m sure they will remain quite good given the low turnout this year.  This will be the last Eye On Life Poetry Contest, ever.

In music, Monday is the end of one phase and the beginning of another.  Today I will rehearse with what is ostensibly (or perhaps potentially) my band that will play music that I have written.   Today it will be decided which tunes we will record.   On Monday night we will meet at the studio and make recordings, ending the first phase of this project.    In the second phase of this project, the studio will provide me with sound files that I will use to market ‘my band’ to some local clubs.  The last phase of the project will conclude when we perform my music live in front of an audience.   I’ll let you know how it goes with all that.

In the mean time the resurrection of the Klezmer band, “Too Close For Klez”, is well underway.  Last night I played with members of TCFK at a local middle school fundraiser for their music department.  It was a lot of fun.   We have a gig coming up later in May.

In other news I wrote this recipe for our favorite vegetable stew, complete with a video of me for comic relief.

The Conspiring Universe

winter_fruit_treesRecently it has been a time when the swirling influences have gelled in marvelous kaleidoscopic momentary formations.   At other times it has seemed as if I were wearing a trench in the Earth with the sameness of my days, and while there remains an element of that, doors have opened and I have opportunities to pass through them into new and exciting spaces.  So it has passed that my companions, Desire and Despair, have at times been at odds, but as through time I have come to know them well I can greet each with equanimity and detachment for the most part; and being aware of those times that I succumb, I can afford to be amused at my inner stories rather than tortured by them.  As I have said before, I am a very lucky man.

From the vantage of detachment I can look upon the boiling pot of influences and be grateful for all of its patterns – both those I would have chosen for myself and those that I would not.  I can see, also, both the effects of my careful stirring of the pot and of my leaving it be.   I have found (and am advised) that leaving it be is usually best.

So it seems that in my immediate future I will record my own music with fine musicians and have multiple opportunities to play R & B, Klezmer and jazz; in my intermediate future I will perhaps have an opportunity to perform my music in public, and I will be traveling to a distant land with my lovely wife;  and in my later future I have no doubt that many delightful surprises await.  There is some other stuff going on, but I think I have touched on the highlights.  Now we’ll see how it all unfolds.

At Eye On Life the Poetry Contest is off to a slow start with only two poets so far competing for the over $150 in prizes.  If this keeps up one of them will have to win two of the prizes.  That won’t do.  Be sure to enter right away so you don’t have to worry about the March 31 deadline.   At The Poetry Locksmith, Donal Mahoney has continued to bless us with his prolific work and Samuel Vargo has returned with more of his eclectic and thought-provoking verse.

I wrote a couple of articles for newbies to door hardware – “Door Handing for Hardware Dummies” and “How to Order Hardware for Small Commercial Projects” – and a poem.  Also I am working on a how-to article about what to do when your lock explodes, video included.  It should be fun.  I did the video already.   I’ll let you know when it’s up ;)

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