Archive for February, 2007


Monday, February 26th, 2007

…info about the music

Yes, calm…

Tempted as I was to post yet another relaxing snapshot of the Heron-du-Jour or some other local denizen, instead I’ll show you our relaxing view in Santa Barbara this weekend. The island in the distance is the north end of Anacapa, one of the lovely Channel Islands that erupted from the ocean floor and broke off from the mainland of southern California about half a million years ago. Nothing calm about that, I’m betting.

Mussel beach

Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

…info about the music

Some music with a little muscle.

And yet more animals to join in the recent parade of Alex’s Beach Bestiary.

Be heron now

Tuesday, February 20th, 2007

…info about the music

Music for a walk by the sea.

Strolling, both of us. This low tide beachcomber is nearly as tall as I am. And we’re both watching the oncoming waves, wondering what they might bring.

A watery scene of a different sort

Friday, February 16th, 2007

…info about the music

Music that oozes.

Continuing with the recent animal theme, we now turn to those who have become extinct, pictured above in their natural gritty urban habitat among skyscrapers and fast food: mammoths.

If I had to live outside on Wilshire Blvd. with all those cars and busses whizzing by, I’d want to become extinct, too.

One of Los Angeles’ more famous geological features, second only to our heady anthropological contribution of the Hollywood sign, The La Brea Tar Pits remind us that slick and oily creatures are not only found in agents and lawyers’ offices (rim shot, please). Long before the movie business, the real grease was here, at what is known, in its translation, as The The Tar Tar Pits.

Redundancy is omnipresent in La La Land.

I drove into the city for lunch with a colleague and found myself with something rarely possessed in Los Angeles: a little free time. Anticipating the usual amount of traffic, I had allotted myself an appropriate commute (one in which I could have flown down to Mexico) and, in a Murphy’s Law moment, arrived 30 minutes early. Not long enough to enjoy the LA County Museum of Art across the street, but certainly perfect for a contemplative look back to prehistoric time at the Page Museum’s crown jewel.

The scene around this remaining, preserved pit is R-rated: sad, terrifying and depressing. Father and child stand helplessly on the shore as mom is irreversibly mired in gooey asphalt seeping from below. My mood was only darkened by the sight of what the area had become tens of thousands of years later, at the hands of a species with its own asphalt abuse problems. I was relieved to turn away after a few minutes and walk over to the restaurant. In the desperate faces of those mammoths, I saw all of us.

Invertebrately yours

Wednesday, February 14th, 2007

…info about the music

A love theme for these colorful lovers.

Valentine’s Day: holding tentacles with the one you love.

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Notes from the cats

Friday, February 9th, 2007

…info about the music

Piano music, of course.

A new friend!
Well, sort of.
By now, my regular kelp-istas know Smudge and Moses.
But this fellow in the middle… hmmm….
All I can say is, insert two batteries, and watch him breathe while you hear him purr. Those nifty tricks, along with fur that’s every bit as soft as his adopted brothers, were enough to convince my guys that curling up for a nap with this new kid in one of their favorite spots wouldn’t be a bad idea.
And so there the three of them were when I walked into the studio.
Impatiently awaiting a new Shapiro serenade, no doubt.

The piano is a terrific upright that has followed me through my life, beginning from my conservatory days 25+ years ago when it was brand new. And above it are four of nearly 20 treasured, autographed programs from Carnegie Hall’s concerts during the first half of the 20th century. In this photo, you can see the revered signatures of Vladimir Horowitz, 1944; Fritz Reiner and Rudolph Serkin, 1944; Sergei Rachmaninoff, 1922, and Jascha Heifetz, about 1945. Wow. Other brilliant ghosts who surround me (and haunt and heckle me!) while I work include Isaac Stern, Mstislav Rostropovich, Josef Hofmann, Itzhak Perlman and Van Cliburn. And the list goes on. Each one of these was lovingly procured and saved by my grandmother, Augusta Shapiro.

My father’s mother, she adored music. Living in lower Manhattan most of their life, Gus and Archiebald, my grandfather, endured the Depression and the years which followed with not much more than a couple of nickels to rub together. But Gus carefully saved enough change to be able to buy tickets to many of the greatest concerts that have reverberated from Carnegie Hall’s stage. After each one, this diminutive woman would make her way back to the receiving line at the green room, meet the musicians and have them sign her program.
Bless her.

Many years ago I got to perform on that stage. Looking out to the audience from such a hallowed vantage point, I could swear I saw Gus, now long gone, smiling back, just waiting for her chance for another autographed program to add to her collection.


Tuesday, February 6th, 2007

…info about the music

A Postlude, for this postlude.

I’m never more aware of the Earth’s immediate atmosphere than at the edges of the day. And I often get to see both of those edges, just in reverse order from the norm. My bedroom faces southeast, and as I wrap up my work night and trod off to sleep in the early morning hours, I’m blanketed with the visual lullaby of a blazing sunrise. Orange/salmon/red/yellow light beams straight into my window, and bounces off my walls and mirror. For many, the rising sun announces the beginning of yet another day. For me, it celebrates the peaceful end of one. Light has no effect on my ability to begin dreaming. Perhaps it enhances it, and the more psychedelic the rays, the more vivid the reverie.

And then there are the moments like this one, pictured above. Sunset delineates when I make the shift from my afternoon of interacting with other people’s requests, to when I can drape myself in precious hours alone in the studio. It’s often the time I’ll take a break and bring my toes to the sand. Sometimes I curse my tardiness, knowing I could take better photos with more overhead light. But there are other rewards, like this.

Moon and light

Friday, February 2nd, 2007

…info about the music

On the rise.

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