Monthly Archives: December 2010

Rice and Coca-Cola

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Is blogging dead? Bloggers, including myself, just don’t seem to be writing as much and readers have definitely followed suit by reading less. This is probably due to two factors: over-saturation in the so-called blogosphere and the briefer, less time consuming tweet. As a matter of fact, most of my friends who were big bloggers four or five years ago have almost all abandoned the practice in favor of the lazier tweet.

So now other than the blogs of Glenn Greenwald and Paul Krugman, there is not much out there that I turn to for news and analysis. Nevertheless, I do have a few friends who are still writing interesting blogs. For example, one of my favorite reads these days is Rice and Coca-Cola by my friend Martina.

Martina recently decided to quit her job and travel around the world, almost entirely on her own. She left a few months ago from her native Sweden and has already covered Algeria, Mali, Senegal, Gambia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Malawi, South Africa, Swaziland, Madagascar, Nepal, and has now just landed in India. She still has South East Asia, Australia, and South America left. While the idea of a trip-around-the-world-blog may seem a touch cliché, Martina has turned out to be a very good writer. Furthermore, I thoroughly enjoy her writing, learn vicariously from her adventures, and eagerly look forward to being updated on her whereabouts. I only wish there were more gratuitous stories of sex, lies, deceit and gnashing of teeth.

Start from the beginning and give Rice and Coca-Cola a try.

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Filed under Digressions, Friends / Family

Time for the Piano Trio

Here in Spain everyone celebrates the Christmas Season all the way up until the Epiphany on January 6th. Nevertheless, instead of letting Christmas drag on, I strictly follow the day-after-Thanksgiving to December 25th schedule. So while I will keep the Christmas decorations up until January 1st (maybe even until January 6th if my wife gets her way), starting yesterday, December 26th, there is no more Christmas music until Black Friday 2011.

As a result, for the past two days I have been listening to a random selection of my favorite Jazz piano trios (piano, bass and drums), a good transitional genre for what’s left of the holiday spirit: Ahmad Jamal, Andrew Hill, Barry Harris, Bill Evans, Bobby Timmons, Brad Medlhau, Bud Powell, Cecil Taylor, Chick Corea, Duke Ellington, Herbie Hancock, Herbie Nichols, Horace Silver, Jaki Byard, Kenny Kenny Drew, Kenny Drew Jr., McCoy Tyner, Oscar Peterson, Phineas Newborn Jr., Red Garland, Sonny Clark, Thelonious Monk, Tommy Flanagan, and Wynton Kelly.

And of these, Herbie Nichols always surprises me both because of his virtuosity and lack of notoriety. For anyone interested in Jazz piano, I definitely recommend Herbie Nichols’ The Complete Blue Note Recordings (with Al McKibbon or Teddy Kotick on bass and Art Blakey or Max Roach on drums).

As a farewell note to my favorite Christmas tunes, I would like to recognize the perpetual greatness of Vince Guaraldi’s A Charlie Brown Christmas (also a piano trio album). They just don’t make music like that any more. And a special mention goes to the quasi-Christmas song “The River” from Herbie Hancock’s 2007 Joni Mitchell tribute album with vocalist Corinne Bailey Rae. Although I don’t ice skate, I do love the imagery from the song: a long frozen river to fly away on . . .

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Filed under Digressions, Jazz

Paris, je t’ai aimé

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After almost four years of commuting back and forth between Madrid and Paris – with 27 round trip flights in 2010 alone, not including the ones my wife took to Madrid this year – it looks like we have finally settled on and in Madrid.

Weather and an air controllers’ strike came close but ultimately were not enough to delay our move to Madrid.

Here are a few photos from our neighborhood in Paris.

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Book Vending Machines

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These book vending machines are a nice alternative to the ones that just sell junk food. I have no idea whether they actually make many sales. This one is at the Principe Pio train station in Madrid. There are also a bunch of small libraries in a few of the Madrid metro stations where people can check out books for the commute.

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Filed under Literature, Living la vida española