Saturday, December 30, 2017

Looking into 2018 with perspective

 I was taking a walk with my dear friend Ann, freaking out about my personal situation…money, gigs, artistic fulfillment, finding more time to be with my family and friends, and falling into deep despair about the direction that our world seems to be taking. She shared this beautiful paragraph from an article written by Maria Popova, that gave me perspective and I wanted to share it with you as we move into a new year. 
Wishing you all a 2018 filled with inspiration, joy, good health and hope! 
More on my music and January gigs here:  

and here is the paragraph…enjoy! 

"When the Voyager completed its exploratory mission and took the last photograph — of Neptune — NASA commanded that the cameras be shut off to conserve energy. But Carl Sagan had the idea of turning the spacecraft around and taking one final photograph — of Earth. Objections were raised — from so great a distance and at so low a resolution, the resulting image would have absolutely no scientific value. But Sagan saw the larger poetic worth — he took the request all the way up to NASA’s administrator and charmed his way into permission.
The “Pale Blue Dot” — the Voyager‘s view of Earth seen from the outer edge of the Solar System. (Photograph courtesy of NASA.)
And so,...the Voyager took the now-iconic image of Earth known as the “Pale Blue Dot” — a grainy pixel, “a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam,” as Sagan so poetically put it when he immortalized the photograph in his beautiful “Pale Blue Dot” monologue from Cosmos — that great masterwork of perspective, a timeless reminder that “everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was… every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician” lived out their lives on this pale blue dot. And every political conflict, every war we’ve ever fought, we have waged over a fraction of this grainy pixel barely perceptible against the cosmic backdrop of endless lonesome space. 
In the cosmic blink of our present existence, as we stand on this increasingly fragmented pixel, it is worth keeping the Voyager  in mind as we find our capacity for perspective constricted by the stranglehold of our cultural moment. It is worth questioning what proportion of the news this year, what imperceptible fraction, was devoted to the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics, awarded for the landmark detection of gravitational waves — the single most significant astrophysical discovery since Galileo. After centuries of knowing the universe only by sight, only by looking, we can now listen to it and hear echoes of events that took place billions of lightyears away, billions of years ago — events that made the stardust that made us. 
I don’t think it is possible to contribute to the present moment in any meaningful way while being wholly engulfed by it. It is only by stepping out of it, by taking a telescopic perspective, that we can then dip back in and do the work which our time asks of us. 

Saturday, December 9, 2017

The Holidays

I'm in the Baltimore airport waiting for my next flight back to Austin.
The Southwest Airlines counter is donned in plastic green garland with wrinkled red ribbon and a bad arrangement of "let it snow" is playing on the airport intercom occasionally interrupted by a Siri sort of voice telling us to report suspicious activity to officials when ever you see something creepy. 
I was up north visiting my family before the holidays.  My mom who just turned 99 still lives in the same house where I grew up in north Buffalo.  Even though her home is beautiful I felt a melancholy being there as things are of course quite different now. 
My children are adults starting traditions of their own, my father and sister Shay have passed away and my once vibrant mother who would create memories of candle lit dining room tables decorated with fragrant pine and set with grandmothers silver is now the one we take care we set the tables and light the candles...and rightly so.
Her house was dark when I arrived and desperately needed the warmth of company and light.
My heart kept flipping between a sense of joy that she was still with us...this amazing smart beautiful woman, to a nostalgic sadness knowing nothing can ever be as it was in those years of holiday's past.  Happy no school feelings, baking smells, singing and dads violin, constant company, the warm crackling of vinyl playing Ella, Nat King Cole and George Shearing, sitting on the radiator watching falling fat flake sparkling silent snow around lamp post light in blue cold night evenings from out our front window. 
On my week of visiting I found myself searching for a moment...anyone of those memory grab even just a glimmer of and drink it up. 
Waiting at my gate to return to my life in Austin I got a call from my son and his wife. 
They both sounded excited and happy as they shared their news with me...I was so touched by the sound of their exuberance and I was reminded of the cycle that is this life we all live.
Things move and shift and change and I can't really recover the little jewels from my past but I can find new gems moving forward...and how lucky am I to have those memories.  Life is an interesting and wonderful journey and my life has been an incredibly fortunate one.  Not so for many.  I am filled with gratitude. 

Happy holidays and may the new year be one of good health, inspiration, happiness, creativity, and time spent with the people you love...and in the bigger picture I hope that this year will bring a greater awareness of inclusiveness, an understanding and practice of true equality, magnanimity, care for this fragile beautiful planet, less divisiveness, more compassion,  more honesty, empathy and kindness.  Wouldn't that be nice?

To my Texas fans, see you at JEN in Dallas Jan. 3,4 & 5 and The Suzi Stern Quintet will be at the Elephant Room in Austin Jan. 18th. Come by and say "hello".  I would love to see you. 

Happy New Year and much love,


                                            Snow in my Austin hood the morning I returned.

Just this 1/4 inch dusting of the frozen white stuff got everyone in town excited and school was cancelled...somewhat amusing to a Buffalonian!

It was magical...I got out a bit too late with my camera because much of it had melted already.

I felt like the snow was a of those wonderful memories I got to grab a taste of for a few hours.

The grand Dame herself...lovely at any age.