Thursday, July 31, 2008

Kidnapping Water: Bottled Operas

After performing at Alan Lau's 60th birthday party composer, musician, performer and conceptual artist Byron Au Yong handed me a postcard with the image of a stout man in a shapeless overcoat, wearing a skull cap, on his back an emblem in the shape of a sunflower. Text bubbles in front of his open mouth read: … glug glug glug.

All this imagery proved to be figments of my imagination. A second look showed a blue bottle, cap still partially in place, the body decorated with a circle of white I-Ching hexagrams. Still, knowing Byron Au Yong, the audience may expect anything to transform from one thing into the next in Kidnapping Water: Bottled Operas - a work about human and water migration.

Kidnapping Water: Bottled Operas
August to October 2008 Production Schedule
Site-Specific Performances and New Media Installation are FREE to the public, except for Bumbershoot Festival of the Arts Performances on Aug 29, 30, 31

Sunday, July 13, 2008

James "flower man" Paroline (1948-2008)

The last time I saw James Paroline, he told me he had renovated his bathroom, "it's a little Taj Mahal," he said. "That's one lucky woman," I jested. He smiled. I believe he lived alone with his two old dogs, but a man who tended so lovingly to his own yard as well as the center garden of the round-about in the intersection, of 61st Avenue South and Cooper street, a man who had the silhouettes of two sets of lovebirds in one of his windows, a man who would take the time to talk and listen, he would surely not be without womenfolk in his life.

The first winter in this for me and my husband's new neighborhood I hoped our pooch Mocha, a foxy mutt, would aid in making contact with people in the area. If anything I'd meet other dog owners, or at least count on exchanging greetings, even with people without dogs. Mocha is the kind of creature that makes people wonder out loud what kind of a dog she is.

One cold day I talked to an old dog, who followed Mocha and me, then asked the man across the street whether the animal was his. The man equally bundled up as I, was working in his yard. Yes the dog was his, and demented, he sometimes wandered off, not knowing where he was going. He told me all about the car that had come flying through the intersection (before the round-about was there) into his garden, crashing into the south-east corner of his house, the fender ending up only inches from him and his dogs. The accident had triggered memories of his time in Vietnam… I guessed the damage done by the careless drivers was not restricted to the damage of his house, the damage went much deeper, he felt attacked.

As far as I could tell, Paroline was a caring person. Each time that I would run into him after that first encounter, we talked. About journalism and psychology, about PTSD and therapists. Sometimes, when I was in a rush, I'd take another route, just so I wouldn't be tempted to stop and chat. It's easy to lose track of time when you find an interesting conversationalist who takes more than a moment to share his point of view and listen to yours.

I'm so sorry I'll never again have the chance to chat with James Paroline our good neigbhor (I heard him introduce himself as Jay, but since have read on blogs he went by Jage). Jay died last Friday of trauma to his head after a passer-by knocked him out and he hit his head on the pavement.

On Friday evening his death brought folks in the neighborhood together for a candle light vigil. A good 100 neighbors of all ages gathered in front of Jay's house circling the round-about. My husband and I learned about what had happened from watching the evening news, and immediately walked over with flowers to pay our respect. We had missed the lighting of candles and speeches, but we sensed a feeling of urgency and connection among all who were present. While the expression on many faces was solemn, I noticed that some present were already engaged in conversations of a totally different nature.
So I was relieved to notice reminiscing did continue as I heard an elderly Japanese American man tell a police officer: "I'm painting my house, and Jay gave me the paint to do it."

Apparently a neighborhood community organizer spoke before our arrival of the importance of people to find each other and work together for the safety of all. There's nothing good about a person's life coming to an end like this. But if Jay's death has lead to people in our neighborhood working together for the greater good, there is a spark of hope.

May James Paroline rest in peace.

Visit the blog of Sable Verity, someone who has known the neighborhood better than we newcomers, for a more in depth coverage of the situation.

Friday, July 11, 2008

16th World Carillon Federation Congress

Starting this Sunday the 16th World Carillon Federation Congress organized by Stichting Martini Beiaard Groningen will take place in the city of Groningen and in surrounding smaller towns and villages.

Among the locations where the presentations take place are the Academy Building of the University of Groningen, and in Middelstum, Uithuizen, Winschoten, Heiligerlee and Appingedam.

On 6/18/2008 I wrote in this blog (in Dutch) how touched I was by the work of the artist Jan Ernst Douma and how his depiction of the Martini Tower brought back memories of my youth.
"I only have to imagine the sound of the carillon,' I mused.

If only I could be in Groningen on Sunday July 13 through Thursday July 17 for during those days the sound of bells will fill the air in the city and the province of Groningen, as carillon lovers from around the worlds join one another in the north of the Netherlands to share their passion.

From age 16-18 I lived in a house with a view of the Martini tower, as shown in the wintery scene created by Douma.

Wishing I could be there this coming week!

For English program follow the link and click on English flag.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Jan Willem van de Wetering 1931-2008

Jan Willem Lincoln van de Wetering, the creator of a series of mystery novels centered around detectives Grijpstra and De Gier died on the 4th of July at his home in Maine.

I've got all of the mystery titles, as well as at least one graphic novel about Grijpstra & De Gier.
The books Van de Wetering wrote about Zen (he was a Zen Buddhist since 1975) AfterZen and The Empty Mirror are on my wish list.

Our paths crossed in Amsterdam (at the apartment of my downstairs neighbor, his nephew), at the University of Texas at Austin, and at the Seattle Mystery Bookshop.

I remember Jan Willem as a kind, gregarious man with a typically Dutch sense of humor, and a thoughtful author.
Thank goodness he lives on in his writing.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

European Investigative Journalism Conference

The VVOJ (Vereniging Voor Onderzoek Journalisten) organizes the conference which takes place on November 21 and 22, 2008 at several venues in Brussels.
A guided tour of the Parliament is planned for Thursday the 20th.

Fee for early birds is €165, for later registration €195 and for students €99 (the latter does not include celebratory dinner).

The conference program is being finalized and will include:

-At least three keynotes
-Fifteen (or more) panel discussions
-Hands-on computer training
-Roundtable session
-Two receptions
-Celebratory dinner.

All sessions concentrate on the exchange of ideas, research methods, and techniques. A panel session will generally have two speakers and a moderator. In certain cases there may be three speakers, or a presentation by one speaker, with plenty of room for questions and debate.
During a demonstration session, a speaker will present a method or technique.
Round table sessions present opportunities for conference attendants interested in trans-national cooperation to discuss a particular topic in an informal atmosphere. Each round table will have a moderator.
Computer training sessions will cover various topics, from (advanced) online searching to data analysis. Capacity for training sessions will be limited, as everyone must have a place at computer. Advance sign up is necessary.

Around fifty speakers, trainers and moderators from the EU and the USA will be part of the panel sessions, demonstrations, CAR classes and round table sessions. Many, among whom Geert Mak(Netherlands), Loretta Napoleoni (Italy), Mark Thomas (UK) and Michael Schrenk (US) have pledged their participation. VVOJ is still working on the program.