Thursday, December 31, 2009

why there's a cat?

The last day of 2009 finds me at the top of the country, two miles west of Copper Harbor, MI, spending a few days with N. at an incredible house filled with antique dolls and taxidermied animals. Our cell phones are useless up here, but the internet connection's dependable. We've spent hours and hours in pajamas, tying up loose ends with work and projects.

In between chunks of online time we've been snowshoeing, dashing out to the sauna and back, drinking tea, snacking on leftover Christmas cookies and plowing through season 5 of LOST. Not a bad way to transition into the new year.

My favorite NY greeting this year came from pals over in Moscow, whose
Podstansiya website/ podcast is a totally singular - and important - destination for independent Russian radio/audio work, and public forums about media, the arts, and culture. The greeting is a short essay/poem by a young father, inspired by questions from his son and scored with rowdy electric guitar. And I'm happily taking the liberty to pass it along to you.

Now it's time to hit the snowshoe trails. All good things in 2010, to everyone!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

The Words of Sounds (2) - Dybek

Earlier this year I posted a paragraph from a novel that explored the sound of a scene so beautifully I thought it was worth sharing. Here's another bunch of words you can practically hear. It's text from a "A Minor Mood," a short story by Stuart Dybek from his outstanding collection I Sailed With Magellan. There's music and noise and sound throughout this book (and all of SD's work) but something about this scene really stands out for me.

Here's the set-up: An aged and worn-down character Lefty is remembering back to the times when his Grandmother ("Lefty's Gran") would nurse him back to health from the croup, and other bronchial tube-challenged conditions. Imagine a room in an old Chicago apartment building on the South Side, full of pots and pans balancing on radiators, steam pouring forth, the smell of Vicks Vaporub hanging in the air.

"She taught Lefty to play the measuring spoons like castanets in accompaniment to her gypsylike singing. She was playing the radiators with a ladle as if they were marimbas. Lefty was up, out of bed, flushed, but feeling great, and in steam that was fading to wisps he was dancing with his gran. Her girlish curls tossed as around and around the room they whirled, both of them singing, and on or the other dizzily breaking off the dance in order to beat or plunk or blow some instrument they'd just invented: Lefty strumming the egg slicer, Lefty's Gran oompahing an empty half gallon of Dad's old-fashioned root beer; Lefty bugling "Sunshine" through the cardboard clarion at the center of a toilet-paper roll, Lefty's Gran chiming a closet of empty coat hangers; Lefty shake-rattle-and-rolling the silverware drawer; Lefty's Gran Spike Jonesing the vacuum cleaner; Lefty, surrounded by pots and lids, drum-soloing with wooden spoons; while Lefty's Gran, conducting with a potato masher, yelled "Go, Krupa, go!"

According to's spell check, "oompahing" is misspelled. But Dybek knows better.

P.S. Read this one outloud, if you will.

Monday, November 09, 2009

We eat, we breath, we sleep, we compile

Mix tapes: Formative, crushing, life-saving little nostalgia-bombs... even when they're carefully compiled by strangers and lovingly bestowed (or awkwardly thrust) upon other strangers. Case in point - a new, sharply designed collection of sixty (!) stories by a whole mess of folks about mix tapes given, received, dreamed, destroyed. And if you're in Chicago - come out tonight to the Hideout to help celebrate the release of Cassette From My Ex: Stories and Soundtracks of Lost Loves.

Disclaimer: This isn't the altruistic-est of posts... my good pal Jason's (ha! just noticed his wikipedia page for the first time) behind CFME, if you remember this Lissenup post then you know I'm a contributor, and I'll be participating in tonight's event, on the "panel of experts." Ha! (I'm honored.)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

city blues

After two and a half days out in Harvard, IL, I'm feeling kind of glum, back in Chicago. Twenty four hours ago we were listening to acorns drop from tall trees, light breezes swim through the oak groves, birds rustling in trees and thousands of insects singing in a range of pitch and tone.

Back in the city, it's a different story. Shared a train car with a pair of the most foul-mouthed, angry drunks you could imagine (now I'm not one to mind an expressive/emphatic word choice, and have been known swear up a storm without too much provocation, but...this was different. Aggressive. Insistent. Really, really unpleasant.) And as I type this sirens are screaming off in the distance - getting closer.

It's enough to make me wonder if my switches are lined properly - a question I've been thinking about since N. dropped me at the train station in Harvard earlier today, to catch a train back to Chicago. I'm beginning to have my doubts.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Pin Drop Melody

When I learned my dear niece was checking in here, realized it was high time to post some thoughts that have been rattling (quietly) around in my head - and which don't actually have anything to do with Monkey.

I'm almost finished reading this book about one man's intense quest for preserving silence - just one square inch in a national park out in Washington - in the so very noisy world we live in. Author Gordon Hempton gets a bit too vainglorious (new favorite synonym for 'proud') at times but i'm down with his basic premise - that silence in the natural world is endangered, and that this does not bode well for humankind. ("My aim," I explain, "is to establish the Hoh Valley as the world's first quiet place. This would be essentially a no-flight zone.")

At the same time I'm reading a book by John Cage, which in some ways counters One Square Inch by, among other things, exploring some of the very noise that drives Hempton crazy as music in its own right, and well-worth our recognition of it as such. ("Was it an airplane? Is it a noise? Is it music?") Instead of lamenting the "aural graffiti" scrawled by aircraft, motorized vehicles, espresso machines and other basic sounds of 'civilization' - Cage composed with them.

Combined, these books are giving my ears and brain quite the workout. I'm more aware than ever of just how much noise surrounds me, every moment of the day (right now the crickets outside my parents' back deck in Ohio are screaming - almost eclipsing the sound of the highway traffic a mile or so away.) While I'm finding this hyper-awareness somewhat excruciating, there are also moments when the noise transcends /crosses over into music, with tones, rhythms and lyrical expression. At which point I'm more amused and gratified (majestic / bewildering) than neurotically irritated.

In any case, I think there's plenty that Hempton and Cage have in common, despite their obvious differences. It's in the listening, and the thinking about the listening, and the devotion to the listening, and the writing about the listening, and the caring about the listening. I imagine these two might actually enjoy taking a long walk together through a beautiful forest or down a back city alley - Cage pointing out the sounds of their footsteps and Hempton noting (dejectedly) how many decibels they register at. To which I say, [very very softly,] amen.

"We're passing through time and space. Our ears are in excellent condition." (Cage)

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Who knew?

Now I know what kind of sound I make when the cat trots into the room with a squirming mouse in her mouth. Evidently...I scream. Not once, not twice but three times. Like in the cartoons - high-pitched and hysterical. At least I didn't jump up onto a chair, or start swatting blindly with a broom...

In my defense - I'm not scared of mice, it was just very startling when Monkey interrupted our card game to proudly show us her new friend. So startling that I screamed, which startled Monkey who then dropped the mouse, which startled me more so I screamed, which startled the mouse who then started scrambling (with a limp) away, which made me scream again, which startled Monkey again but not enough to prevent her from grabbing her friend and heading downstairs, away from the screams.

Eventually we were able to rescue(?) the mouse from Monkey's jaws and take it outside, in a La Croix box, so it could scurry (with a limp) away to freedom. I doubt it survived the night - it didn't seem long for the world and let's not forget the trio of astute feline hunters living next door. But the box was empty this morning...we'll never know.
Back to the screams - I was kind of surprised, myself, by my blood-curdling response to the wriggling little furry guy. Felt a little silly, but also amused, when the whole adventure was over.

As we stood in the kitchen, recalling the Great Mouse Incident of 2009, N. asked me to promise never to make those sounds again. But something tells me there's no guarantee...

As you might imagine, there's no scarcity of images on the internet of cats with mice in their mouths. Or on their heads.

Screaming at the top of your lungs is actually very cathartic. But famous scientists like
Dr. Gregory Whitehead have known this for a long time. Check out some of his most impressive research. (number 20)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Unlikely friends = my first cool milion

Woke up yesterday morning to the sound of scrambling. Sleepy brain translated: cat paws scratching at a window in the sun room. Sure enough - there was Monkey, perched precariously in a corner where the wall met a bank of windows, desperately trying to reach the furry little squirrel calmly sitting right on the other side of the window. I mean RIGHT there. Monkey seemed confused, determined, and sort of gleeful at this turn of events. She's been a little lonely since Pony died...

After a few minutes Squirrel disappeared and I brought Monkey out of the room. About ten minutes later...repeat visit. And this morning - Squirrel seemed to be hanging out waiting for Monkey, who galloped up the stairs when I called down to tell her that her friend had returned. (True!) I'm trying not to think about the damage Monkey's new pal (and its extended family) is causing to our roof, to the peeling paint on the window sill, and to Monkey's fragile, neurotic little brain.

In the meantime - am already imagining the Saturday morning cartoon: Monkey (the Cat) and Squirrel Take on the World. Then comes feature-length Pixar animation, sugar cereal, lunchboxes, TV appearances, Fresh Air interviews, and of course - their own podcast. Any illustrators out there looking for work?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

5 sounds from Ireland

1. Altogether, radio from: Czech Republic, UK, Lithuania, Slovakia, Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Croatia, Poland, Ireland, Canada, Australia, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, plus my own contribution, from the USA. An impressive array of stories and approaches to storytelling, with distinct national radio cultures defined, challenged, and stretched, as each program played. Didn't come away with favorite stories, rather moments from several: A gravedigger, about to retire, describing looking forward to sitting at his kitchen table tinkering with a clock. Two former circus performers (and lovers) reunited in a nursing home in old age, nostalgic for the dream of a shared future they'll never experience: "running a nice big carousel...". A long, awkward silence between two estranged friends, over the phone. The sound of a mama cow licking her newborn calf. And so many others...

2. Beirut, followed by Sufjan Stevens, from the speakers at the Mermaid Cafe, (the Lula of Dublin?) over the course of a nice long dinner with new and old friends. Always especially pleasing to hear (certain) familiar music when far from home. Also that night, learned that in Ireland (and many other countries) rocket is actually arugula, and that people really do eat pig's cheeks. Which I do not condone.

3. Beautiful, traditional Irish music in a extraordinarily non-extraordinary bar that was far from the city center, or other touristic byways. Was my first experience in an Irish snug - a small, cozy, separate section of a pub where live music is often played for an audience of maybe a dozen. This is not the place to pull out a camera or recorder, fyi. Learn from our mistakes.

4. Young girl walking by me in the airport, holding on to her father's hand. With each step she took her right foot yelped. Realized that her shoe had a 'squeaker' in it - yes, like the squeaker in a dog toy - to help her parents keep track of her, I guess? Though the company that makes them claims they're "fun." Heard that thing for 6 gates worth of airport hallway, as I continued in the opposite direction. Creepy.

5. The rain coming on, across the field, while we rode through the most beautiful Irish countryside in Lackan, County Wicklow. The horses didn't seem to mind the damp - neither my trusty mare Blue, or Thelon's gigantic Naylor (supposedly the second largest registered horse in the country. And I believe it.) Another sound, from this incredible afternoon: the lambs bleating, as we'd ride by and they'd scamper away from the fencelines. The cows, on the other hand, strode right up to say hello.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Radio Dublin

Greetings from Dublin, where I've just made it through Day #1 of the International Features Conference. Besides a minor luggage mishap on the way in (resolved!) it's been a fine trip so far. Am still thinking about yesterday's late lunch - goat cheese, spinach & beet pie and a perfect pint of Smithwicks (you know when you're traveling and you pick a random bar or eatery on a whim and it just happens to be a perfect decision? )

More to the point (of this blog, at least):
We've been hanging out in a castle all day, listening to and discussing radio features about: a homeless shelter installed on a boat (Czech Republic), bicycle couriers (UK) a rural version of a 7-11 - minus Slurpees - (Lithuania), a car crash from driver and victim's perspectives (UK), and cyber activism against transit ticket inspectors (Slovakia). Finished up with a presentation of the "I Live in the Balkans" radio project - an impressive collaboration between 11 Balkan countries.

Yes, ears are tired. And could use a beer...into the city for dinner.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Good clean audio fun involving free cookies

Felt like we hit the (some? a?) jackpot this past Saturday. After dinner we took a long bike ride toward the lake and parked our bikes outside the North Lakeside Cultural Center where we spent the next hour with:

Thrifted old cassettes, hundreds of buttons, dollhouse miniatures, an interactive laundry experience, flashlights, creepy/beautiful old black and white photos, a toy piano, the drawer of exquisite objects, old-school
composition books, (yes, composition books have a wikipedia entry), light mystery, lots of Hauschka and, I believe, John Fahey, an obsessive (yet likable) recordist's true: free cookies.

People! What more could you want from a surprising and interactive, hour-long audio mystery tour set brilliantly throughout a beautiful old Chicago house? I'm talking about:
Static: A Headphones Tour (conceived by Tom Horan and directed by Libby Ford). I don't want to say too much - probably already have - because if you're in Chicago you really should just buy a $10 ticket and experience it yourself.

Static seems to me to be one of those incredibly special events going on in a big city that you imagine you're always missing, or that you read about after the fact and wish you'd known about earlier. Here's your chance...the tour runs through May, every Friday and Saturday nights.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Remembering Simon

We were sitting around earlier today thinking of ideas for future Re:sound shows when Simon came to mind. Remember? It's that old electronic game from the early 80's that would warble songs consisting of bleeps in four notes corresponding to 4 boldly colored, enormous buttons, that would light up with each respective bleep.

Simon would start with one bleep (blue!) which you'd repeat back by pressing the blue button, and then would advance to two (blue! green!) and then three (blue! green! yellow!) and so on. The point of the game was to repeat Simon's melody back to him (it?) as it became increasingly long, complicated, and beautiful. The point was remembering.

Simon was a close friend for a while. I used to play for hours, sitting cross-legged in my closet in the dark, with Simon on my lap lighting up a color show and bleeping away, then letting out the always startling Game Over-signaling MEHHHHH when the song became too jumbled in my head and I pressed the wrong button.

I can still hear those tones so clearly in my mind's ear. Turns out
red = A , green's = A an octave higher, yellow = G and blue = D. Also turns out there were a lot of Simon imitators, (like Castle Toy Einstein, Space Echo and Copy Cat.) and later versions of my beloved game, like Simon Surprise, Simon Rewind, Simon Trickster, Simon Bounce (!?). Think I prefer remembering the regular old Simon, the first version. The best version.

So now I'm on the lookout for a Simon, and am certain there's one out there in Chicago, perched upon a thrift store shelf just waiting for me. Bleep! MEHHHHH. Bleep! Red. Bleep! Blue. Bleep! Green. Bleep! Green. Bleep! MEHHHHH.
And yes, of course I can play a virtual version in the meantime. There are tons of them out there. Like this one. Or this one. (no soul) Or THIS one (nice sword, dude.) No surprise - I can even play on my phone. But none adequately simulate the look, feel and sound of the actual game. So guess I'll just keep my eyes open for the real deal.


Friday, March 27, 2009

holy megapolis poster

Tickets are now available for Megapolis - an audio art explosion scheduled for April 24-26 in Boston, though I predict the sonic shrapnel will reverberate much further. And if the poster just revealed by the fine fellas running the show (and designed by mister nick van der kolk) is any indication, it's going to be a gorgeous, noisy, crazed, over-stimulated weekend, to say the least. I'd be remiss not to mention the TCF listening thingee with the unparalleled Sean Cole on Saturday the 25th, and very pleased to see you there.

P.S. This morning I picked up a cd off the station's free music shelf. Despite quick research that coughed up a review claiming Curtains of Night's Lost Houses is one of the worst cds ever produced, to my humble ears a ladies metal band never sounded so good. And it's not just because (by some bizarre coincidence) the singer is the daughter of next-door neighbors, from back when I lived in Carrboro.

On my third listen, brain's happy. I have no explanation for this.

P.P.S. You really should click on that poster for a better look.

Friday, March 20, 2009


I'm guessing that by now you've seen (and are possibly tired of, or deeply detest) the Snickers ad campaign for which they've made up words in (brace yourself) "snacklish." Words like hungerectomy, peanutopolis, nougatocity have been around for months and the most recent wave brings snaxophone, nutopia, antihungerestablishmentariansm...and so on. Truth is - i'm conflicted about this awful/amazing semantic buffoonery in the name of selling a candy bar. Horrified and somewhat...taken with them. Despite the terrifying message they deliver about the power of brand recognition, I'm a reluctant fan. And enjoy imagining the meeting where a bunch of marketing execs sat around a table, dreaming up the campaign, and shouting out brand new words in snacklish.

But do they work? They've sprouted up thickly around downtown Chicago, and have come up lately in a few conversations (ok...i've brought them up) and it seems like while everyone has seen the ads...nobody I've talked to has actually bought a Snickers candy bar since noticing them at on billboards, at bus stops, on taxi cab roofs. Maybe we'll all buy cases off the internet this holiday season, and wonder why.
Anyway, this latest batch of vocabulary is kinda weak. Take "chewmute," which is plastered on the side of CTA buses. Took days before I figured it out. Chewmute. On the bus. COMmute. Good grief, Charlie Brown.

Um...what about sound, you may be thinking? Right. Sound. Spend just a minute or two on the
Snickers website. The audio is fucking out of control. And beware the loudspeakers, which belt out 'funky' and 'snaxophone' in the same sentence. Which should be against the law.

Monday, March 16, 2009

improbable, but true.

I apologize, up front, for the blatant self-congratulation. But I never, in a trillion years would have expected to find my name in the middle of a news item on the Breyer Horses website, let alone a link to the non-narrated, disjointed, sound-rich audio piece about the inexplicable connection between girls / horses and the curious sport of competitive model horse collecting, that I produced a few years ago.

But here it is! And I'm kind of speechless. Overwhelmed. Honored. And astounded by the significant bump in the Third Coast Festival's website traffic. Thanks, Breyer!

[Once a model horse freak, always a model horse freak. And...we're everywhere. You're probably sitting next to or down the hallway from one RIGHT NOW!]

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Stille Post

Save the afternoon! On March 21, between 3 and 7pm, CST, radio/sound artists all around the world will be joining forces to help conduct ARCOPARLANTE, a (real) live radio experiment.

If i've got it straight, here's what will happen:

During those four hours, a the radio art group of Deutschlandradio (a German public radio broadcaster) will broadcast nearly incomprehensible recordings of human speech on medium and long (radio)waves and over the internet. Listeners everywhere are invited to transcribe whatever they
think they're hearing, and share this via email or telephone with the Deutschlandradio-ers, who will promptly broadcast these in addition to the recordings already going out. Listeners are also encouraged to record their acts of listening/puzzling out the message being delivered by the initial recordings, and send these home-recordings as well. See where this is going? What's being created is a cycle of barely understood communication passed and shared around the world. Kind of like an enormous game of telephone, where players repeat what they _think_ they've heard.

After it's all over Alessandro Bosetti, a key organizer of the experiment (and all-round good guy) will assemble bits from the initial recordings, listeners' transcriptions, and listeners' recordings, into original compositions. Then maybe he'll tour around, come to YOUR town, and share the very composition you've contributed to by playing along on the 21st.

Here's where to tune in:

Or if this is more your thing:

Aholming kHz 207
Donebach kHz 153

Braunschweig kHz 756
Heusweiler kHz 1422
Neum√ľnster kHz 1269
Nordkirchen kHz 549
Ravensburg kHz 756
Thurnau kHz 549

Send your recordings here:

Deutschlandradio Kultur
Hörspiel / Klangkunst
D-10825 Berlin

And transcriptions here:

OK. Got all of that? Good. I'll listen for you on the medium waves.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Absorbed a lot this weekend: John Duncan concert, 'Future of Journalism' meeting, two LOST episodes, Fahey (the sweet black pup we're dogsitting) running around like a tasmanian devil in the snowy backyard, and at the end of it all - Juana Molina, who I'm now officially astounded by, after watching/listening, spellbound, tonight's performance at the Morse Theater.

Even backed by 2 other musicians (sorry, fellas accompanying her whose name I can't track down) she's a one-woman show - kind of a tasmanian devil herself - singing, crooning, uttering, strumming, looping it all at crazy, cyclical, syncopated intervals with the slightest tap(s) of a foot on (one of many) pedal(s). And all the while cracking up / charming the pants off the audience between songs, and making it all seem effortless - the acrobatic timings, the hauntingly piercing melodies, the complex structure of every song she offered up.

Looks like she's headed to Cincinnati, Cleveland, Boston, NYC, DC, Philadelphia in the next week...if you're anywhere close, do yourself a big, big favor and go see the show. Then drop a line, and we can talk about the amazing CUP/handclap song thing. Because I really can't figure out how to explain it, and would love to know what you think.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

the melodies remain

Driving home from Columbus last week a jolt of recognition released a flood of memories when we passed the green highway sign for a small town in Indiana - home of the Jewish overnight camp I attended for a few summers 20-25 (wha?!) or so years ago. First and foremost, songs came to mind - haunting melodies and hebrew lyrics that I've long since forgotten the translations to, if I ever knew them in the first place.

All of these years later, I can clearly envision sitting around a campfire and singing freely into the night, and so many other small impressions wander back...the way sparks from the fire would shoot up into the sky then disappear, linking arms with the girl (or boy!) next to me and swaying from left to right, slowly, with each song...the SMELL, of course, of fire and pine and summer and Calamine lotion. Remember?

There were a few English songs too, ones that I didn't necessarily understand the words of, but whose melancholy, minor key melodies introduced tragedies I'd not yet encountered. Probably didn't understand the notion of 'tragedy' even, age 11ish. But still, the songs stuck.

And have been playing in my head, on a loop, for days now. The camp has a website, which I spent about thirty seconds on before quickly navigating away. The songs are findable as YouTube videos from Jewish folk festivals and other various group singalongs (none of which hold a candle to the campfire sessions) But I have no desire to find any of this on the interwebs... it seems all wrong to encounter these memories again through poor graphic design and others' experiences that seem to barely relate to mine.

I'd prefer to savor the wisps and verses that still exist somewhere deep in my brain, and let them wash over and take me back to the days of reluctantly dressing up for the Shabbat Walk, inventing excuses to skip swimming lessons, traversing the length of the dining room for bug juice refills, and playing jacks on the concrete deck outside the canteen. I'd rather marvel at how embedded all of this remains, how easy it was to tap into, how sad it still feels to hear those songs in my mind's ears, and how nice it feels to let the memories swell.

[So many boucy balls lost each summer...]

Monday, February 16, 2009

Round in the middle...

Ahoy Ohioans! Ohioians! Buckeyes! People from the great state where I was born! We're heading your way with a laptop full of fantastic audio stories. Destination: the Wexner Center in Columbus, for a Third Coast Festival Listening Room. And what's more, now OH-based producer Neenah Ellis (remember the centenarians series on NPR back in 2000? What about those amazing stories about one-room school houses?) will be on hand, and we'll be playing some of her fine work.

So come on out and listen on Wednesday, February 18th (yes, soon) at 7 pm. And thanks to the audio-leaning folks at OSU for helping bring us over.

P.S. It's a free event. You may even consider road tripping.

P.P.S. That is, indeed, a mousepad with I LOVE OHIO printed badly/too largely across a blue (!) silhouette of the state. But no, I don't have one. Yet.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Words of Sounds (1) - Powers

I've noticed that fiction writers seldom spend a lot of extra words describing sounds, so I'm trying to pay more attention, and share the occasional worthy (at least in my estimation) passages. Suggestions welcome, and thanks in advance.

The Words of Sounds #1 - The Echo Maker, by Richard Powers (pg. 166)

"He stopped at the far end of the MotoRest parking lot, closed his filmy eyes, and listened.

The songs came on, mathematical, melodious, their elaborate patterns slowly mutating. Some were as singable as any human tune. He counted, sensitizing to the calls that played off one another, each a solo against a mass chorus. He lost count after a dozen, unsure where to lump and where to split. Every complex riff was identifiable, although Weber could identify none. Softer, in the middle distance, he heard the shush of cars along Interstate 80 whooshing like sprung balloons."

In this case, Weber is a writer (about neurological disorders / consciousness) from New York who has just spent a sleepless night in the middle of Nebraska (where he traveled to investigate a man with a brain injury) and is about to embark upon the streets of a small town at dawn.

[Sensitizing is my new favorite verb.]

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Sunday Improvisations

Pretty soon here, I'll be on a plane heading back to Chicago. In the meantime am sitting at The Bridge PAI, listening to some of hour 3 of a 12 hour improvising marathon. It's just me and the three musicians in the room. Bass and computer language push to every corner of the room. Layers of tone fill the space, in cahoots with the sun flooding through the window behind me, warming my back. Quieter murmers break through now and then, seemingly bubbling up from deep water.

It's a maybe perfect way to wrap the past three days in Charlottesville, dense and curious and full of listening, talking talking talking, hiking, bourbon, coffee.

Overheard: Teenager in the hotel elevator, responding to mom's entreaty too loudly over the tinny smash of bad rock and roll bleeding out of his earbuds. Mom: "smile?" Teenager: "WHY."

Overheard: Sex, in the room next door. Or two doors down.

Overheard: The wail of a mother, looking frantically for the toddler she'd lost in a crowd.

Heard: Jingling of dog collars (Harriet and Luna's), between pockets of conversation, as we climbed up to the lookout on Turk Mountain.
Heard: The loudest water drips, inside a secret train tunnel full of stalagmites.
Heard: Cat Power in the background, sealing the deal on the most charmed day ever.

[Can feel the drones now. Vibrating back against warm window. Slightly louder than before.]

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Here comes Audio February

And if you live near Charlottesville, VA, or happen to be passing through in the next few weeks, you're luckier than the rest of us. The folks over at the Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative are devoting the entire month of February to audio stuffs, from experimental music performances, to a variety of installations - including one in the bathroom. i know, brilliant! - to an evening of sound-rich audio stories that I'm thrilled to be heading down to share. (Check out the latest TCF Listening Room news.)

And on top of all of that - there's the
Sound Room. Which would love to include YOUR sound(s). Here's the official Call to Ears:

The Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative in Charlottesville, VA is
devoting the entire month of February to the celebration to sound. Our intention is to utilize the gallery space in creative ways to foster a sound-loving community. We have scheduled a series of events, including improvised music performances, robotics workshop, radio documentary demos, and sound installations and lectures.

A crucial part of the month is the ongoing Sound Room, an audio
installation in the main gallery space over speakers, featuring sound pieces by artists from around the world. We would like for you to take part in this installation.

If you're interested, please send along a piece of your sound work in the form of a digital file (mp3, wav, aiff, etc) via email or other file-transferring means (such as

Along with the file, please attach:

1. Text related to the track

2. Your bio and any other pertinent information

The Sound Room will open during regular gallery hours and at points
during events through out the month of February.

[But that's not all. Stay tuned for the related Call for Horses. ]

Sunday, January 18, 2009


I've come across a couple daily (or daily-ish) audio projects recently, which you may want to know about. Am curious to observe how long the frequency holds up, as i'm finding it challenging enough to listen daily, or daily-ish. (Not unlike my New Year Flossing Intentions.)

The efforts are opposites in some ways - narratives on one hand and field recordings (so far) on the other but there's a thruline of observation, of paying attention, of offering, that links the two. Kudos to Laura and Taylor, for being game...

One Sound Each Day
[On the heels of One Picture Each Day. Wonder how the two years will compare?!]


Audio Everyday

[One of my favorite posts is from 11/06/08, a 15-second extract from Obama's acceptance speech 11/04/08.]

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Testing...1 - 2 - 3. Testing?

Trying again, with this. Because of course, I'm still listening. A small thought this morning, easing back into it from a very different perspective, literally:

It's minus 10 degrees right now, and from the second floor bathroom in our house I can hear birds singing joyfully. It's blindingly sunny outside, and hurts to breath. At least it sounds joyful.

More, soon.

For 2009 - hope + action, and capitals in all the right places.