Posted tagged ‘music’

Happy Name Day!

June 21, 2012

It is very seldom that something nice comes “out of the blue” for me, but this time it did happen! And the timing could not have been more perfect. I was not in the greatest of moods. It was very hot in Tucson, and my name day (which is the day this post is being published) did not look very promising. If you wonder what a name day is, please see an explanation at the bottom of this post*.

My name day was coming within hours when I got a terrific e-mail from my friend Connie, who got it from someone else. She forwarded to me a collection of music to share. It made my day! I shortened the list to focus on well known musicians and music groups.

For me it was a gift of music instead of flowers for my day. I want to share this gift with you.

pink oleander flowers

Click on an artist or group name, enjoy the music, and .

1) Elvis Presley 2) Roy Orbison 3) Beatles 4) Abba 5) Bee Gees 6) Michael Jackson 7) John Lennon 8) Celine Dion 9) Frank Sinatra 10) Creedence Clearwater Revival 11) Julio Iglesias 12) Queen 13) Neil Diamond 14) Paul Mccartney 15) Rolling Stones 16) Pink Floyd 17) Bruce Springsteen 18) Elton John 19) U2 20) George Harrison 21) Cliff Richard 22) Tina Turner 23) Bob Marley 24) Andrea Bocelli 25) Dire Straits 26) Barbra Streisand 27) Eagles 28) Madonna 29) Simon & Garfunkel 30) AC/DC 31) Bob Dylan 32) Dean Martin 33) André Hazes 34) Tom Jones 35) Eric Clapton 36) John Denver 37) Eros Ramazzotti 38) Deep Purple 39) Led Zeppelin 40) Rod Stewart 41) Status Quo 42) Louis Armstrong 43) Fleetwood Mac 44) Bryan Adams 45) Jimi Hendrix 46) Barry White 47) Nat King Cole 48) Santana 49) Michael Buble 50) Gipsy Kings 51) David Bowie 52) Adriano Celentano 53) Robbie Williams 54) Charles Aznavour 55) Metallica 56) Doors 57) Shakira 58) Beach Boys 59) Cat Stevens 60) Bon Jovi 61) UB40 62) Joe Cocker 63) Whitney Houston 64) Phil Collins 65) Enrique Iglesias 66) Ricky Martin 67) Ray Charles 68) K3 69) ZZ Top 70) Van Morrison 71) Ringo Starr 72) Stevie Wonder 73) Gloria Estefan 74) Supertramp 75) Jethro Tull 76) Black Sabbath 77) Marco Borsato 78) Guns N’ Roses 79) Neil Young 80) Chuck Berry 81) Billy Joel 82) Sting 83) Kinks 84) R.E.M. 85) Laura Pausini 86) Genesis 87) Who 88) Monkees 89) Animals 90) Simple Minds 91) Prince 92) Aretha Franklin 93) B.B. King 94) Iron Maiden 95) Pearl Jam 96) Christina Aguilera 97) Alice Cooper 98) Depeche Mode 99) Nirvana

*What is a name day?

Well, on many European calendars, days are marked with names, showing that different days are identified with different names—for instance, a day for Thomas, David, Martha, or Ann. It all started in ancient times with the days named for saints. In contemporary Poland, however, that is no longer the case. There is no saint Alicja and yet I have my day on the calendar and share it with Alojzy (for saint Alojzy). So on the 21st of June all Alicjas are celebrating their day. It is the longest day of the year and usually is the first day of summer. I always loved that day — full of sunshine and flowers!

The nice thing about name days is that there is no problem to remember them, because the names are printed on all calendars and are announced on the radio and TV stations at the beginning of the day. For instance, if it is Joseph’s day and you have a friend by that name, you better run to a flower or liquor shop to purchase something that Joseph likes, and go to celebrate that day with him.

The best part for the celebrant is that he has a lot of attention and nobody talks about his age, as happens here on birthdays.

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Text (except music list) and photos copyright © 2012 by Alicja Mann.

Footprints Left Behind

March 8, 2012

Did you ever wonder why people carve their names or initials on tree trunks, benches, and other objects? And did you notice that more significant places often have more of those markings?

That strong desire to make a statement “I was here!” is as old as the human race—a desire to make and leave behind some sort of sign, a “footprint” of existence.

The mysterious markings and images pecked or painted on cliffs and boulders in the West, known as the pictographs, are messages from the past. Similarly, the boot print of the Apollo 11 crew member and the American flag left behind on the moon in 1969 are our message to the future stating, “We were here.”

Bootprint left on moon by Apollo 11 astronaut (from NASA)

Boot print on the moon – NASA photo

I probably would not have thought about this at all if I had not found an almost forgotten photograph of my footprints, or rather boot prints, from several years ago. I was sorting through piles of my photographs in preparation for the recent art exhibit and there it was—the photograph of my boot prints in the Grand Canyon! And there also was another photo showing the boot prints of my Canadian friend, Joan, with whom I had undertaken the challenge of hiking that incredible canyon – down and up in one day!

Alicja Mann shadow and footprints at Grand Canyon

My boot prints and shadow on the Grand Canyon trail

These footprints in the dust of the trail were a short lived statement of my presence there. Short lived, but definitely a bit longer than the bare footprints I make at the edge of the ocean each time I walk on the wet sand of Silver Beach when I am on Cape Cod. There the very next wave smooths out the footprints and the following one makes them disappear totally. I never had an impulse to take a picture of my footprints there— maybe because that beach is so familiar to me. Similarly, I did not have that desire on any mountain hikes around Tucson, even though the mountains here are very beautiful.

Just being at the Grand Canyon evokes an unforgettable feeling of awe and humbleness, but hiking it, measuring myself against its giant scale of space and time is indescribable. That’s right—the magnificence and hugeness of the Grand Canyon was so overwhelming and the sense of my minuteness there against the background of the rocks formed through the millennia of time, made me feel like shouting, “I am here! I am really here!” Hence the footprint photo and many other photos that captured that adventure.

Now these photos seem flat and very one dimensional, and can’t adequately illustrate the beauty and power of that place. Still, I will share a few of them with you. If you haven’t been there, I hope that you do go—after all it is one of the wonders of the world, and was not man-made, but created by nature over millions of years!

Grand Canyon morning from South Kaibab Trail

View of the Grand Canyon in the morning light

Alicja and Joan at the Grand Canyon, morning

At the South Kaibab trailhead – 7 AM

Grand Canyon textures and colors by Alicja Mann

Textures and colors of the Grand Canyon

Alicja Mann at Grand Canyon

Alicja and view of O’Neill Butte

Footbridge at Grand Canyon

Silver Bridge over the Colorado River

Grand Cayon walls seen from Bright Angel trail

Going up the Bright Angel trail

Alicja Mann and sign at end of Grand Cayyon hike

At the end of the trail – 7 PM

My boot prints in the Grand Canyon disappeared almost immediately while the boot prints on the moon probably remain unchanged. There are no winds on the moon to erode them, so they might be there forever.

Here on Earth our physical presence is fragile and temporary, but we humans are clever and capable of making different, more permanent “footprints” to mark our short time of existence. No one wants to be forgotten or insignificant. So we often strive in a variety of ways to make “footprints” of our lives. One way is through creative work: writing, painting, composing…. As a result we create books, paintings, records, and photographs that can live on after we are gone.

Framed painting, music CD cover, book, another image

Different types of “footprints”

I was reminded of this just a few days ago. Lou Colombo, a jazz musician whom I knew from Cape Cod and whose trumpet playing I love, died last Saturday in a car accident. That was terribly upsetting. However, his music will stay with us. I know it will stay with me.

Lou Colombo CD cover with personal notes from musician

Lou Colombo’s CD jacket

Click on Lou’s picture below and listen to his musical “footprint” titled “It all depends on you.”

Lou Colombo and his trumpet (Cape Cod Times file photo by Ron Schloerb)

That is right, it all depends on you….

P.S. To learn more about Lou Colombo click to read Cape jazz legend Lou Colombo dies in the Cape Cod Times.

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Boot print on the moon photo from NASA. Alicja’s photo by Joan Agnew. Lou Colombo photo by Ron Schloerb/Cape Cod Times. Text and other photos copyright © 2012 by Alicja Mann.

Time Matters

October 24, 2010

The time has come to make a new entry in this blog. The piece which I planned to post is not ready. I just ran out of time! Making this statement ‘publically’ triggered in me some thoughts about the concept of time. I have dedicated a couple of essays to the issue of time in my book Looking at the World Twice. Today however, I am looking at this issue from a different perspective. It is different because my stage of life is different. The shortage of time seems more urgent to address now than when I was much younger.

“Running out of time” sounds and feels as if someone is running out of a defined place — a building, a room, or perhaps a container. It is understood, of course, by all who speak this language that this is simply a concept similar to running out of money, sugar, water, or any kind of supply. To translate the expression “I ran out of time” into my native Polish, I would probably choose the phrase “czas mi uciekl,” which literally means “time escaped from me” or “time ran away.” It is similar to English, except in the Polish version time, rather than the person seems to be in action.

The problem is that in both languages, and likely in most languages, the way we talk about time implies that time is tangible and touchable as is sugar or water. Yet it is not! Time is much more elusive. Our perception of it changes depending on our feelings and circumstances — how busy or inactive we are, for instance. In some situations it feels as if time is passing quickly, in others that it is passing slowly, and occasionally (very seldom) it almost stops. So time is more of an experience than a possession of ours. It is even considered by some scientists and philosophers as a fourth dimension. Fourth dimension or not, most of us complain that we don’t have enough time for what we want to accomplish. Is there anybody who has extra time these days?!

“Time is money” I have been told here (in the US) many times. But I’ve never ‘bought’ such a concept. Maybe I didn’t buy it because I grew up in a different political system in which we definitely had more time than money. Maybe I didn’t because, years ago, I decided that time is actually more valuable for me than money. Perhaps this is also the reason that I live such an intense life and consequently “run out of time” once in a while.

Forgive me if I state something that might be obvious to you. Nevertheless, since so many of us are having difficulties with time management, I will risk saying it. Yes, time, similar to money, can be ‘invested’ and can be ‘spent’. We can even ‘save’ it, but time saved can’t be accumulated the way we accumulate money in a bank savings account or potatoes in the cellar. We can’t store it and keep it for later use. We can’t borrow it and return it later. That is impossible! We use it or lose it. All depends on our priorities. We also know that there is a limit to how much time we have in our lives. Death is that powerful and inevitable ‘limiter’. Each time I encounter the death of someone I know, I am reminded of the well-known expression “memento mori,” which is most often translated to English as “remember that you are mortal.” The Polish version is more powerful and more to the point: “remember about death.”

I am writing this not only because death recently took my friend away — as some of you learned from my previous post A Friendship Tale of Love and Work. Also, since I returned to Tucson from Cape Cod, I have felt squashed in time — like one of those sardines squeezed in space among other sardines in their characteristic flat can (which is so hard to open when the ring comes off the lid accidentally). For me, no image other than a can of sardines illustrates better that tightness of space which I ‘translated’ here into tightness of time.

That ‘sardine’ feeling got me into some kind of panic lately. I could not focus, I could not sleep, I felt overwhelmed and anxious. I decided to find a remedy for it. Drinking wine would not do! I went to the Barnes and Noble bookstore to wander there as I usually do when in crisis. And as in most cases of my wandering time in a bookstore, I found what I was looking for.

After twenty minutes spent among ‘how to’ books on the subject of managing time, and then reminding myself that I already have at home a much more interesting book about it, I went to the music section. A few jazz CDs caught my attention, but after listening to them, I was still not ready to buy. Then I stumbled onto the CDs of Chris Botti. His Slowing Down the World grabbed me. “What a perfect title!” I thought. I bought it without any hesitation, ran back home to listen to it and have that glass of wine.

Cover image from Chris Botti's CD "Slowing Down the World"I‘m constantly reminded of a sense of social acceleration — we move faster every day. From air travel to the speed of information, at times it seems as though our awareness of ourselves and each other can suffer. Music is one of the few things that brings me back to my center — that calmer place amidst the distractions.  Chris Botti

The record is ten years old, but Botti’s concerns about time resonate with me. I also like his photo (from that time) — his calm and thoughtful face is very attractive. That evening Botti’s delicate trumpet playing delighted me and one of the songs with Sting (I like Sting a lot) surprised me. Every composition was soothing and comforting. The entire CD worked like a band-aid. I know I may feel different later, perhaps even bored with it, but for now it affects me the way Botti intended. His music works — it slows me down.

Cover image from Robert Grudin's book "Time and the Art of Living"That evening I also found the book I mentioned above — Time and the Art of Living by Robert Grudin. The book was sitting on the bookshelf among other books, and like them, waiting for the right moment to be picked up, to share its wisdom and interesting ideas — like a trusted friend ready for a good conversation.

We consult troops of specialists on the question of how to live, when memory alone heard with common sense and compassion, will tell us most what we need to know. Robert Grudin

Both of my findings that evening — the music that Botti created ten years ago and the rediscovery of Grudin’s writings (I’ve had that book fifteen years!) — are marked with time, yet they are timeless as our concern with time itself.

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Copyright © 2010 by Alicja Mann

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