Tag Archives: new music

not alone

i’ve been periodically working on a new song over the last couple months whenever i could find time between the job, raising a puppy, and having too many hobbies.  i finished it last week and just hadn’t had a chance to publish yet.

it’s a brooding track, and not particularly light-hearted, but these types of emotions and thoughts are wont to be evoked during the cold winter up in the rocky mountains of colorado.  bundle up and enjoy…

4/13 Music Monday: Makers 46, another we philistines original

good monday to all, i hope your weekend was wild.   i’ve been hard at work here trying to finish this batch of new songs to share with the internetz, and i’ve just completed another song.  please give this a spin and share with your friends.  enjoy…

Music Monday: new We Philistines original material!

i’ve been working obsessively around the clock lately on new we philistines original material, and am happy and excited to announce the first of a new batch of newly recorded songs which i will be sharing over the coming weeks!

it has been a long road toward getting back into this season of life for myself, as i bitterly gave up music 5 years ago and rarely touched my guitars since.  but now that i’ve returned from my wander, writing music is something i have decided to prioritize again.  i hope you enjoy this, i have poured my heart and soul into it, recording every instrument you hear within the confined space of my tiny “recording room” in my house.

so turn on your nice stereo, turn it up loud, and if you like it, share it with your friends and facebook world.  thanks so much for listening and reading.  enjoy…

guten tag: welcome to germany, pt 2. berlin, reunification, and graffiti

the days following hamburg and oldenburg flew by.  berlin is truly a unique city, one that views like a good book reads, where each successive chapter continues to build and surprise, and just when you think you’ve seen it all, it surprises you again.  when i had initially started outlining last summer what countries i wanted to visit on this trip, berlin was just a city that had made the list because it was simply on the way to other places I wanted to go and it would have seemed idiotic to leave out.  i knew that i would be interested in the history, but i didn’t really know why else i was going. this thought occurred to me on the train over from hamburg.

an old friend from my youth had seen some of my instagram photos pop up on his social media account and, having a few weeks for himself to do some traveling, decided to join me for a couple weeks.  he chose berlin as the rendezvous point. i suppose reuniting with an old friend after more than a decade seemed only appropriate in a city like berlin, but that comparison is probably eye-rollingly obvious. i was more than grateful for robert’s arrival, as i was still a little shell-shocked from the language barrier/loneliness issues from paris, and i was worried of a repeat performance in germany (now that i was truly out on my own and had no more options of meeting up with old acquaintances and friends from my past).  plus, when you’re exploring new places, it’s always more fun when you have people to explore those areas with.  you get to share the experience with someone else, see the things they see that you missed, see the world through their eyes, get their perspective.  you also have the added benefit of external opinion.  one of the toughest things about traveling alone is, ironically, decision making.  i thought this would be the easiest thing, because i am a decisive person and i do not have to worry about accommodating anyone other than myself.  but on the contrary, the problem is one of surplus of choice:  you have too many options. sometimes having to appease someone else’s wishes and desires is actually really nice, because making the decisions (or even caring) can often be a daunting task for yourself, especially if you don’t always know exactly what you want.  game-planning is something i have always been good at, but when you’re doing it all the time, it gets exhausting.  arriving somewhere new and trying to figure why it is cool and what you need to go see, what you need to eat, what you need to drink, who you need to meet, and trying to fit all that into a window of three to six days becomes a juggling act in a revolving door.

so i was glad to have a friend along for the ride.  robert and i became friends through a long-disbanded group of buddies that all used to play a particular computer game together.  it was called “delta force:  blackhawk down” and it was a 1st person shooter that mimicked the types of battles fought by troops in the crisis in mogadishu in the 90s (made famous by the movie of the same title).  our group had a “clan” which we’d cleverly (read as:  immaturely) named “cleavage.”  each member of the team had a code name or “call sign” that fit within the theme.  an exclusive club, we really only had 2 criteria for membership:  we had to know you personally and you had to be funny.  some examples of “call signs” on the cleavage clan were as follows:  left breast, right breast, perky breast, saggy breast, fake breast, etc. et al.  the members of our team would log on together from our own computers at home, join the same team, and then we would wage war against other doritos-eating-mountain-dew-downing-teenagers until the wee hours of the morning.  and we were good.  our team members had different roles to play within the team, and we played them well.  rarely would we lose, thanks to aggressive domination from the likes of core members andreas, terry, ardy, Robert, cody, and myself.  it was good clean fun.  mostly.

robert on kgb patrol at the brandenburg
robert on kgb patrol at the brandenburg

anyway, robert is a complex individual with a firm grasp of who he is in the world and what he likes.  a coffee enthusiast, he’d modestly tell you that he’s only just learning how coffee really works since he’s only been in search of the perfect “flat white” for a couple years now.  but in the time I’ve been traveling with him, i’ve learned more about coffee than i ever desired to (i don’t really drink coffee, i know that will cause me to lose touch with a couple readers.  sorry. i am what i am) in just a handful of conversations with him at cool coffee houses that he somehow locates with some sort of coffee bean sixth sense.  he also knows more than most people i know who drink starbucks religiously.

robert is a front-end software engineer who has found his way into freelancing as a way to help him balance out his need to travel off the grid from time to time, but still stay connected to the tech world in silicon valley and beyond that his career has tied him to.  i’m a little envious of skills and abilities in programming as I think if I was able to “freelance,” i’d probably live the rest of my life on the road, rambling from town to town, only stopping to work whenever I found a reliable wifi signal and a contract i liked.

i'm clearly a spy. at checkpoint charlie
i’m clearly a spy. at checkpoint charlie

we met up at a little hostel in the mitte neighborhood of berlin.  it’s a cool and clean neighborhood that some might call “yuppie-ish,” and they’d probably be right, but it’s got a great charm to it.  it’s pretty safe and is handily located next to a few metro stops so it is easy to get to and from.  once we got our bearings, we wasted no time at dissecting the city, knocking out tourist mainstays like the brandenburg gate, the reichstag building, and checkpoint charlie within the first couple days.  when we were done with those, we would wander for hours through random neighborhoods that robert had found while searching for his hipster haven coffee shops.  while i don’t really partake of this pursuit of his, i’ve been thankful for it because it has often led me to places i probably would not have found on my own.   often times while in search of a cappuccino shop that robert had seen good reviews for, we would wander down some random wrong street and find some ornate clocktower that wasn’t visible from the main walkways.  Or we would see some really cool graffiti that one would have no clue was there had they never left beaten path.

speaking of graffiti, berlin has to be the best city in the world at embracing its graffiti.  they don’t even fight it.  in the US, if graffiti ends up on a wall somewhere, it’s rarely clever or intelligible, and it is usually covered up or painted over expeditiously, and the eyesore is gone before you know it.  in berlin the graffiti is EVERYWHERE, and often times it has a very clever message about consumerism, or it pokes fun of itself, or even makes you think deeper thoughts about your own existence. 

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Berlin has the best graffiti #Berlin #CheckPlease

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everywhere i went, i found myself really enjoying graffiti even more so than some of the sights.   i even began to notice some of the taggers’ calling cards.  i could tell which neighborhoods belonged to which artists.  and when a commissioned piece had adorned a wall in giant mural fashion, there seemed to be a respect among the taggers.  they would usually leave those walls alone.  or, if that wall was tagged, it would be tagged around the mural, so as not to disturb the art, and the new tagger would only hit an area that was empty and unoccupied by paint.

my guess is that a lot of this acceptable culture comes from the acceptance of living with a giant wall running right down the middle of the city for 30 years. the amount of decoration and graffiti that came to adorn this monstrosity likely spilled over into the rest of the city as years wore on, and now its just a badge of pride.  but that wall is something else.  i can’t even describe how i felt as i walked along segments of it during the week i was in berlin.  trying to put myself the shoes of someone living in this city during the soviet reign made my head spin countless times.  the thought that i could be living on one street corner one day and the love of my life might be living on the other side of the street, and the next day a giant wall went up between us and i might never see her again… this scenario kept resurfacing in my mind for days, until i saw the following scribbled on a section of the wall near checkpoint charlie:

heartbreak at the berlin wall
“to astrid: maybe someday we will be together”

i knew that it had happened to someone at some point;  it had to.  but the reality of loved ones being separated during this conflict suddenly became real to me when i saw a heartbreaking message scrawled onto the wall with the words “to astrid: maybe someday we will be together.”  i stared at the message for at least 10 minutes while the light rain fell around me.  i was overcome with sadness, despite the fact this tragedy had occurred decades ago.  eventually i moved along, but this moment has stayed with me during my trip.

this city grew on me every day that i was there.  if a trip to europe was a march madness college basketball tournament, berlin was the dangerous 14 seed that was starting to upset all the mainstays and work deep into the tourney.  berlin was the darkhorse.

berlin wall madness
berlin wall madness

i think one of the things i liked about it so much was that everywhere you looked, there were old remnants of painful memories of the city:  the past was never far.  just like people, i like them better when they have a story to tell.  especially if that story hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows.  the pain of berlin no longer holds its citizens back, but it is always lurking in the shadows warning just how far a city or a person can fall if they are careless with the world around them.

or maybe that isn’t the message waiting to be interpreted.  for the life of me i couldn’t decipher what the history and identity of berlin was.  was it the powerhouse city of the north that was a haven for the nazi empire that crumbled and has been slowly rebounding ever since?  or was the city a victim, that had been subjugated by a radical aggressor in the nazi party and was then taken advantage of by another meddling power in the soviet union, which then suppressed and abused the people and city for decades, and now they were finding their way out of the dark?

or is the identity something completely different altogether?  perhaps berlin is a place that, through ages of darkness and consequence, knows the weight of action and reaction, and now uses that knowledge to its advantage to help shape its future and rebuild a brighter and more prosperous outcome (which it is easily succeeding at)?  surely this is the identity, and the longer i spent in the city the more confirmation i received.  berlin is a bastion of hope, and one need nothing more than to walk its streets for a day to see why. it exemplifies that no matter what happens, no matter how grave the circumstance or the situation, nothing is completely beyond saving.  one need only the will, the discipline, and the desire to restart from the bottom, and any height can be achieved.


today’s ear candy is a new single by zola jesus, and i. love. this. song.  can’t get enough of it.  this girl can sing, but she has this brooding, deep baritone pipes that just strike a chord in all the right ways for me, probably because she sounds so different than most singers out there in pop music.  i first heard her sing on the first track of the m83 album “hurry up, we’re dreaming” that blew up the whole world a couple years ago but i confess i never really sought her out to see what she was doing on her own.  i can tell you now, however, that her new album is fantastic from top to bottom.  enjoy the video…

paris, pt 2: secret entrances, climbing stairs, and bob dylan narrations

the next morning i ambitiously set off on my goal of taking down the louvre in one day.  for the record:  this is not really possible.  either you will run out of time, or the louvre will simply wear you down. The louvre always wins.

nevertheless, i arrived at the louvre first thing in the morning, in time for the doors to open.  i was intent on trying to enter thru one of these “famous only on the internet” secret entrances to the louvre, so rather than line up with all the other tourists, i headed for the “porte des lions,” a small door just a little south and west of the famed pyramid entrance that has become an icon across the world.

as i approached the entrance i felt proud of myself for doing the work the night before so i could cleverly and smugly skip all the lines and have the louvre to myself for a time until the throngs of other tourists caught up to me.

porte des lions location at the louvre

but as soon as i tried to enter the small revolving door, i noticed that it wasn’t revolving.  not sure if i was pushing hard enough, i started to increase my effort when i noticed someone inside sitting at a desk waving his hands in the air, shaking his head frantically side to side with a look on his face as though he had just ingested spoiled milk.  to verify he was signifying that i was not allowed to enter here, i silently made an inquisitive face and drew my hand horizontally across my throat making the “off with his head” gesture (and now that i know more about the history of paris and its relationship with the guillotine, i realize that this is probably not a good gesture to make in this city).  he didn’t change his behavior and just kept waving his hands and shaking his head until I turned around and walked away.  time to wait in line. (and for the record, i looked it up later. this entrance is frequently closed according to other travelers online. you need to call the day before to ensure it will be open. so if someone else has had success with this entrance, please let me know about it in the comments section. i’d be very curious how it works).

the louvre graciously poses for a pic on a blue sky day in paris
the louvre graciously poses for a pic on a blue sky day in paris

the wait ended up only being like 10 minutes because i had gotten there so early in the morning (alternatively, you can pay extra and buy a ticket that lets you skip the line. definitely worth it if you’re leisurely strolling up around lunchtime, see below for info), plus standing in line next to that big glass pyramid is actually pretty cool.  it wasn’t a part of the louvre until 1989 when it was completed after president mitterand controversially commissioned it.  the most popular and biggest museum in the world still only had normal doors at that point, so the key french officials and curators came together to think in a more advanced fashion than parisians typically do (it seems to me that the parisians never want anything to change, they always like things the way they are.  doesn’t matter if the change is good change.  Any change is bad change to them. I think this is endearingly funny. then again, you could make the same case about a lot of my fellow americans).  So they came up with a way to “go big” in the typical french fashion and created the pyramid entrance, dramatically reconstructing the internal center of the louvre.

the louvre stares back at itself through its reflection.  paris, france
the louvre stares back at itself through its reflection. paris, france

anyway, if you visit the louvre, do not attempt to just wander.  you’ll end up losing your mind in there and you’ll leave feeling like you wasted your time getting lost in a maze of meaningless art.  instead, do what i did.  create a list of the top 20 things you’d like to see.  do some googling to see what the internet says are the noteworthy pieces and then try to prioritize those.  then, you can download the louvre app for $2.99 and you’ll have a little tidbit of audio info when you find each piece in the museum (at least for the main ones).  then just work your way through the museum and locate things from your list, leaving yourself time to view other things that grab your attention (and other things will indeed grab your attention) that weren’t on your list.  also, for the love of god, don’t take pictures of everything you see.  take a few here and there, but

  1. make sure you’re appreciating the art as intended, spend some time trying to notice details about the piece, and leave your phone in your pocket, and
  2. if you must snap a pic, ask yourself “why?  what will i do with this photo?”  remember that a straight-on photo of the mona lisa has been seen by every person in the world, even if not in real life.  nobody gives a damn that your cellphone was 20 feet away from it.  plus, everything you see in there can be found on google images.  If you need to show somebody back home what you saw, use that.

in other words, when you’re in the louvre, spend your time wisely and in all other cases, just keep moving.  this is also good advice in case of a zombiepocalypse.


after about 5 or 6 hours of the louvre, i felt my eyes popping out of my head and my feet were going to fall off, so i got out of there.  as i exited, i could see the arc de triomphe looming off in the distance (not the small fake one right across the way from the louvre pyramid, the actual one a couple miles away, straight down the champs-elysees), and decided to climb it.

this was a much more ambitious plan than i had realized.  my feet were hurting and it was further than i had realized.  this is because that arc is so damn big and nothing around it is even close to its height, so it looks a lot closer than it is.  i just kept walking and skipping the subway stations because i thought i was almost there for about 20 minutes.. i wanted to amputate my own feet when i finally got there.  And then I couldn’t figure out how to get across the major roundabout to climb the arc once I got there.   You see, not only is the arc so massive, but the chaotic roundabout that surrounds it serves as an incredible moat with completely insane french motorists jockeying for position and madly

the arc de triomphe supervises the insanity at the roundabout below in paris
the arc de triomphe supervises the insanity at the roundabout below in paris

running each other off the road to get to the next exit from the turnstyle.  let me save you the trouble.  if you are approaching the arc from the champs elysees in the east, the entrance is on the other side of the arc, the west side, on the northern sidewalk.  there is a little staircase leading underground which will take you under the roundabout and up into the arc.  you’ll need a ticket to ascend the 280 stairs to the top, but I think it was less than 10 euros, so it’s worth it.  the view from the top is spectacular, mainly because paris is so expansive, and the weather was perfect.  As with everything in paris however, there are always crowds to fight, so beware.

after i had finished taking in the view, had to run across town over to the canal st. martin area to meet my friend anaelle, whom I had met in iceland.  anaelle was one of the self deprecating french friends that I made in reykjavik whom had been very insistent that I come visit them in france. as exhausted as i was from all my traversing all over the city those 3 days, i was very eager to have a full conversation with someone.  even though i had been getting around and productively seeing all the main sites, all my interactions with people in paris thus far had been limited to pointing to things and hilariously trying to pronounce french words and failing miserably.  the most in-depth conversations i had been in so far had been with ticket agents.

anaelle and i had agreed to meet in the neighborhood of canal st. martin, at a mcdonalds, because if there’s one thing an american knows how to find, it’s a mcdonalds (i actually play a game when i travel internationally. every time i see a mcdonalds i proclaim “found it!” these are the kinds of things you develop to keep you sane when you’ve been traveling alone for too long). i arrived about 10 minutes late, but anaelle didn’t mention it.

when i had met anaelle in reykjavik, my friends gregory and thomas had introduced me to her and i awkwardly failed on the greeting.  i’m not completely sure how it works, but i believe that when men and women meet in france on an informal basis, it is customary to do one of those kiss the right cheek, then the left cheek things, instead of in america where you would shake hands, or if you’re more comfortable with the person you just give them a hug.  i could google this and instruct you properly, but i’m writing this from a train with no internet connection, so i’ll just settle for once again looking like an ignorant fool.

anyway, in iceland i extended my hand to shake anaelle’s hand when she was already moving in close, so i assumed she was giving me a hug. so i changed my approach and gave her a light hug, locking her awkwardly onto my right cheek and then releasing her, realizing she had kissed my cheek.  the end result was total confusion between both of us as to what had just happened. i sincerely wish i had that moment on video, because even now when i think about it, it makes me laugh out loud.

so this time when i met anaelle, i executed the proper french greeting between a male and a female. outside the mcdonald’s.  how ironic.

anaelle is an attractive student in her early-mid 20s with a sweet smile and a friendly, happy-go-lucky disposition.  when she speaks, it is through a thick french accent, but i’d be lying if i said it wasn’t one of the sexiest accents i’ve ever heard; i told her to never improve her english, just speak exactly the way she does forever. she originally had met my friends gregory and thomas at the airport departing for iceland in the security line.  they had all been late for their flight and were hurriedly trying to make the gate before it closed when they all realized they were going to the same place.  they became friends, and eventually i met her on their last day in reykjavik, near the beginning of my trip.

anaelle did not know me very well, but she somehow intuitively knew that what i had craved most from paris was authenticity and something a little more in between the extremes of how i had been experiencing the city:  evenings in the ghetto and daytime at the luxurious tourist traps.  so rather than head straight to a restaurant or a bar, she suggested we walk around a little and let her show me the neighborhood.  despite my aching feet, i gratefully agreed.

rare tranquility in paris is found at the canal st. martin
rare tranquility in paris is found at the canal st. martin

we walked for about an hour around the bastille neighborhood, up through republique, and over to canal st. martin, and it was here that i knew i should have been spending my time. this was the area i had imagined in my mind would be my paris.  i was torn. i was so happy that it did in fact exist, and that it wasn’t just some fiction in my mind, but i was sad that i had only just now found it, and it was almost time to head to germany.

anaelle explained to me that this was more of an artist community.  lots of artists and musicians and aspiring fashion designers and students live in this area, creating a culture of creativity and progressive free-thinking. it sounded marvelous.  we walked along the canal, finding small grass lawns and parks where people were sitting on blankets and drinking wine, eating bread, talking.  she explained to me how lucky i was with the weather.  apparently it had been raining every day for like a month straight, and then suddenly right when i arrived it stopped and was nothing but clear skies.

we stopped and found a patio overlooking the water to have a beer and rest my aching feet.  we talked for another hour before anaelle had to leave to meet someone else that she had made plans with before i had contacted her.  we left the patio and she helped me find a restaurant where i could get some decent food.  we said our goodbyes and i earnestly thanked her for taking a little time to hang out with me.


today’s noise poetry is a gem from the new basement tapes.  music junkies everywhere are eagerly awaiting this release, as it is not your garden variety new band or new album bringing something to the table, no this release is a very interesting one.  this album was born from a collection of abandoned bob dylan lyrics that never made it into song form which was recently discovered and given from bob dylan to legendary producer t-bone burnett.  t-bone then invited a handful of musicians to collaborate on writing music to the lyrics.  these musicians include jim james, taylor goldsmith, elvis costello, rhiannon giddens, and marcus mumford.  the album is called “lost on the river” and is set to release november 11th.  in the meantime, we have this song to hold us over.  it’s called “when i get my hands on you.”   enjoy…

truth, honesty, and observation

okay, it's not the cafe citroen, but this is the view from its patio.
okay, it’s not the cafe citroen, but this is the view from its patio.

wednesday night arrived in amsterdam with a light rain.  i had spent most of my day sitting in a pleasant little “cafe” called “café citroen,”  writing and editing video and photos (a tip for the uninitiated: in amsterdam, a cafe is a coffee shop, where you can buy coffee.  a “coffee shop” on the other hand… well that’s where you go to buy and smoke marijuana. why they do it this way i have no idea, but if you want play a joke on your significant other, don’t tell them this before they go out for a cup of morning joe) .  jenna had informed me that they would be having a dinner party that night as part of a small group they regularly host for their church.  they had offered me the escape route if i wasn’t interested in attending, and if I’m completely honest, it had been my intention to find something else to do.  but as the sun descended and the rain clouds moved in, i had not, in fact, found anything else to do and i realized that i preferred to spend time with my friends instead.

i got back to the apartment and started to help jenna and sam prepare a curry she was readying for the group of about 10.  always considering myself a better sous chef than actual chef, jenna handed me a knife and instructed me to get chopping.  i’m surprised i didn’t chop one of my fingers off because I was so preoccupied with how I was going to approach the church group atmosphere that was quickly approaching.

i won’t go too far into detail, but i have a complex past with the church and with modern christianity and all the conflicted opinions that go with them.  my family was one of those very religiously conservative families growing up, that on paper and in public always seemed to have everything together, but behind closed doors there was a lot of anger, pain, and chaos.  the duality of the lifestyle always really confused me, and unfortunately i never had many role models in my life (neither in or out of the church) that i could reference as positive examples or influences to draw from).  i then went to a very conservative christian university in search of answers and peace, and while I did eventually find some answers, they weren’t the kind that jive with what typically is preached on sunday morning at the pulpit.  these weren’t destinations i arrived at lightly, as they are the types of slow-burning battles that are fought internally over time, intensity, frustration, confusion, and ultimately release.  But suffice it to say that i understand now that i am older that everyone has their journey and their struggle, and no one man can claim to know the truth, for absolute truth has not been granted to us.  nor can one man truly tell another that he is wrong in his belief, for that is not for us to decide.

so with that being said, my general plan of attack was to basically keep my mouth shut and be a silent observer.  the last thing i wanted to do was somehow influence someone else’s spiritual journey, especially when my own has been littered with so much… well, litter.

the people in the group arrived and everyone was very nice and polite, conversation was very casual for about an hour while food was enjoyed and a couple bottles of wine were shared by the table.  eventually the discussion began, the topic being “transformation.”  jenna led things with the wisdom and grace that i had only come to expect from her, but i noticed quickly that the group was rather shy at first. and then before i knew it, i found myself speaking up to just try and get the wheels greased on the machine.  the silence had made me uncomfortable.

eventually people started chiming in while I silently chided myself for opening my mouth. but as the night wore on, i was finding myself increasingly struck by the candidness with which the people in this group were sharing from.  the conversation slowly evolved from the host topic and started straying to a more personal level for the people of the group, as they shared from more honest and more “real” places than many of the “bubble gum” church experiences i had experienced so much in my life.  i found myself occasionally offering small tidbits of advice to people in some of the real life experiences that they had presented.  i sensed that many of the group was relatively new in their faith, as compared to someone like me who had been wrestling with belief since as far back as i can remember (this is not to say that these individuals hadn’t also, but this is merely a feeling I got from the atmosphere in the moment).  my state of mind began to change during the night from one of “i should stay out of the way so that i don’t lead someone from their own path,” to a mentality of “i recognize many of these themes and have dealt with them long, long ago. i can help,” and so i began re-entering the conversation.  soon sam and i were actually helping create makeshift “game plans” for how to approach some of the issues that were being presented by individuals in the group.

there were 2 people who were particularly striking within the group, and i hope they don’t mind me chronicling any of this in the blog.  for their privacy, i’ve tried to remain as vague on the subject matter of the conversation, but if not for these two and their soul-baring honesty within the conversation, i probably would not have even opened my mouth the entire night, save for the occasional social nicety.  one of these two was named elze.  elze had a delicate but confident nature about her.  She was from south africa (so many south africans I met in Amsterdam!), and she had been working as an auditor of some type for some company that she had been somewhat bored with for awhile, but was excited about a new opportunity she was starting the following week.  elze is one of those people who is very intelligent and probably very good at what she does, but she doesn’t feel the need to parade that around to everyone’s attention, which made me like her immediately (i’m not always good at that.  sometimes I’m too eager to please others, so i pointlessly brag about something to prove myself.  it’s stupid).  she was also interested in stocks and investing, which is something i’ve been interested in for about a year, so we talked shop a little about that and shared info on some companies to check out.

the other person was named esther-hanna.  esther-hanna has one of the coolest jobs of anyone i know.  a year ago, she and one of her friends started their own business in amsterdam where they take tourists on local street food tours with tiny locations that an out-of-towner would definitely not find.  i was so intrigued by her profession that i immediately had started talking with her during the early part of the night about the food tours (i’m a foodie, i couldn’t help it), and we hadn’t really talked about her at all.  so i was taken aback when later she began sharing so openly with such a large group of people and a stranger present among them.  esther-hanna has a piercing gaze that seems to look straight into your soul, but instead of this being an intimidating thing, if you are paying attention you notice that she, too, is allowing you to look into her soul.  it is so refreshing and unique, but also can be off-putting if you’re not ready for it, because most people in this world don’t operate with that level of intimacy in conversation.  needless to say, I live for these types of interactions.

at the end of the night, there wasn’t a single person in the group that I wasn’t impressed with, and this doesn’t usually happen to me.  My cynical self usually finds a way to discount something within gatherings like these or the individuals within them.  But every person at this dinner was beautiful in their own unique way, and I appreciate my presence even having been tolerated.  I didn’t have any grand spiritual realizations, none of my questions about life and the universe and spirituality answered, in fact I still find myself in the same place as I was when I was chopping potatoes only hours earlier.  But I think the experience did assuage a little of the apprehension and mistrust I often have toward organized religions and subsequent gatherings.  I’m glad I took part, and I thank the group all humbly in retrospect.


today’s song is a new instrumental piece from Odesza, an EDM duo from the US.  only clocking in at 2:15, this seemingly inconsequential track is actually the most interesting of a top-to-bottom solid album.  for those of you who are not fans of electronic dance music, give this album a spin.  it breaks away from the often repetitive obnoxious formula that seems to define edm these days by keeping fun off-beat rhythms mixed with chopped up vocal melodies and subtle supporting layers of unexpected dreamy pop sounds, all without being afraid of slowing the beat down and getting quiet at times.  this is crucial for grown-ups like me who don’t want a neck-ache the morning after listening to my music.  i’ve been listening to this album for about a month now and i have yet to get sick of a single song.  enjoy…