I’m lost and I wish I were found, in the arms of My Darlin’ Hometown…

Alan LeQuire’s bronze and limestone sculpture presides over the Music Row Roundabout in my hometown of Nashville, intended to convey “the importance of music to Nashville”.  If you know much about my beloved South, you will understand that those easily offended (they’re naked!) called for its removal at its installation in 2003.  We all calmed down eventually, or at least got tired of shouting about it, and these days it is a mostly beloved iconic figure representing music in all its forms (we have a wonderful symphony too).  I love music, and many of my posts feature lines from songs I particularly enjoy and/or find relevant.  A case in point would be My Darlin’ Hometown, a song by the great John Prine that speaks to those of us who live far away from home.  My hope is that anyone interested might dig a little deeper, check out the music in question, or even better buy a song or a CD and give it a listen…you waste more money than that driving driving around every day, and music is much more fun!  (30 March, 2010  Nashville, TN)

Doctor, my eyes…Tell me what is wrong…

Venetians have a long tradition of using masks to cloak their identity, and the masks themselves are truly works of art.  The practice arose during Carnival, though it became useful on any occasion when the wearer desired to disguise their identity and social status…to mingle with the herd, party-down without consequences.  There are many stock characters based on theater or folktales or simply tradition, and the artisans in the narrow alleyway shops skillfully apply paints, gold leaf, and feathers or other baubles to make each a unique artistic statement.  The guys with the long beaks are called Plague Doctors, and the costume is typically completed by a black tri-corner hat and a flowing black cloak.  Unsurprisingly, the term “plague doctor” comes to us courtesy of the Black Death.  Back in the day before science and Big Pharma had solved all our problems, the bubonic plague was thought to be caused by “miasma” or bad air, and the plague doctor protected himself against infection by stuffing that long beak full of nice-smelling goodies.  Turns out the plague is a bacterial infection, passed along by the nibbles of fleas or their hosts and running-buddies the rats, and for all we know both the rats and the fleas may have quite enjoyed their lilac-scented plague doctor lunch.  In any case, being plague doctor was a somewhat hazardous occupation, though I imagine you did have job security going for you.  So that’s the relationship between Venetian party masks, the role of the artist in the modern economy, and job security in the Middle Ages!  (19 September, 2011  Venice, Italy)

Sky, sky, blue and black…

Jackson Browne was talking about how true love hangs in through thick and thin, whether you have sunny blue skies or ugly black ones.  Black skies are not too tough to figure out, they result from the absence of light…night.  But what makes the sky blue?  To answer that question, you have to know something about the nature of light.  Sunlight is composed of different colors (wavelengths) of light…maybe you’ve seen this when the morning sun shines through a piece of crystal, breaking the light into that pretty array (spectrum) of red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet.  Moving from the red toward the blue end of the lineup, those wave forms become shorter, smaller.  It turns out the little blue waves scatter more easily than the reds when they encounter bits of dust, water vapor, political ads and other trash on their journey from the sun to our eyes.  So we look up, and all those crazy blue particles of light are bouncing around willy-nilly, while the reds and oranges are marching on locked in on target.  Our eyes see blue, blue, blue…hey, it’s all blue up there, apparently!  But what about sunset?  It’s usually some form of red, right?  Well, the sunlight coming to our eyes at sunset is really low down there on the horizon, which means the light has to travel through even more of our messy atmosphere, down low where the dust particles are bigger, water molecules more rampant, and politician yap more intense.  By this time the blue particles of light are pretty much beaten into submission, out of the game, and even the big boys…the reds and yellows and golds…are getting kicked around and scattered about.  To our eyes, the blue bits are gone and we we see the colors that are still there bouncing around, and we grab the camera because it’s just so pretty.  So the next time you get The Blues from too many Tequila Sunrises, you can just blame all the Dust In The Wind!  (16 September, 2011  Firenze, Italy)