Musings from the Bunker 5/27/20
Here we are, at another 25 day milestone, which means another “best of” from the past 25 Musings. This is something of a random sampling from the last 25 days. Still hanging in there…!
BEST INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE
Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you.
--Ralph Waldo Emerson
While at home, some mothers and sons are playing extraordinary duets! Here is Bing Wang, Associate Concertmaster of the LA Philharmonic, on the violin with her 16 year old son on piano. Here is “Meditation” from the opera Thais by Jules Massenet. This five minute piece is beautiful, as is the performance and her introduction “from our house to yours.” https://www.laphil.com/about/watch-and-listen/la-phil-at-home-bing-wang
We all know George Harrison wrote “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” But you may not have seen this cover by Prince, Jeff Lynne, Eric Clapton, Tom Petty and others in concert in memory of Harrison: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6SFNW5F8K9Y.
DEATH BE NOT PROUD
Death, be not proud, though some have called thee Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so; For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow Die not, poor death, nor yet canst thou kill me. From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be, Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow, And soonest our best men with thee do go, Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery. Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men, And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell, And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then? One short sleep past, we wake eternally, And death shall be no more, death, thou shalt die.
Iron Giant, Brad Bird’s first and, in my opinion, best. Set in 50s America, with McCarthy era politicians and a beatnik hero. Maybe one of the best movies of all time—animated or real life. I guarantee you’ll laugh, think, be moved, and maybe even shed a tear.
BEST TV SHOW
Friday Night Lights, which started off the great TV series. Who doesn’t love Coach Chandler and his wife Sharon? Quite possibly the single instance when the TV show was better than the movie (well, maybe M*A*S*H as well). But if you are a sports fan or if you love great sports clichés, spend two minutes with this mash-up from Coach Taylor: “this is it, right here, right now,” Kyle Chandler will move you. Why isn’t he President? “Clear eyes, full hearts…can’t lose…” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4pZHXQ698Ok
For a spectacular, literate, exploration of deep time on a grand scale, I suggest Annals of the Former World, the Pulitzer Prize winning volume by John McPhee, professor and writer for the New Yorker and a master of the long form of journalism. In the words of one reviewer, “this book takes my breath away and makes me feel alive.” This is a fantastic compilation of McPhee’s work on the creation of the continent, explored through in a series of drives around the country. Beyond the science, the geology and the travelogue, McPhee meditates over the concept of geological time, which is measured in millions and billions of years. Here is a wonderful profile from the New York Times (including discussion of his most recent book, Draft No. 4): https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/28/magazine/the-mind-of-john-mcphee.html
One Summer, America, 1927, yet another brilliant book by Bill Bryson. The year saw Lindbergh cross the Atlantic, Babe Ruth’s 60 home run season with “Murderers’ Row,” arguably the greatest Yankee (or any) team ever, the first “talkie”—The Jazz Singer, and so much more, in Bryson’s breezy, conversational style.
BEST PLACE TO VISIT
Mesa Verde contains several notable cliff dwellings built and populated by the Anasazi culture. They are considered to be ancestors of Pueblo Indians, including the Hopi and the Zuni. Centuries ago. Their most distinguishing characteristic was that they moved to cliff dwellings with limited accessibility (cliffs had to be scaled or tall ladders climbed to reach them) in the mid-13th century and disappeared shortly thereafter.
What drove them to abandon their cliff dwellings remains a mystery. Theories include drought, deforesting, disease, poor sanitation, overpopulation, among others. Some of these issues don’t seem so far-fetched or unfamiliar today…
The Met has a great feature called the Heilbrun Timeline of Art History. It’s an interactive map of regions of the world. You can click on an area and then click on a time period. Then you will be transported the Met’s vast collections of art (with pictures and descriptions) and essays on art history and the cultures that created the art. I could spend another month of quarantine just paging through this: https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/chronology/#!?time=all&geo=all
BEST SILLY THING TO DO
Recreating famous pieces of art by using items available at home: https://mymodernmet.com/recreate-art-history-challenge/
BEST POSITIVE ABOUT THE LOCKDOWN
We empty nester boomers with children temporarily back at home have been given a gift in this time of crisis. We have been afforded the opportunity to get to know our grown children as adults in a way not seen in many of our families for some time. I’m not saying it’s always a piece of cake to have multiple adults, with independent lives, forced together in relatively close quarters, but it’s really been a blessing. We have been able to peek into their lives and see our grown kids “in action,” watching them navigate their careers, pursue civic and charitable causes, and indulge in their hobbies. Plus, they seem to like to cook...
BEST AT HOME PRESENTATION
Enjoy this great cover of “Lean On Me:” https://youtu.be/3Bf89OoOj3U. This is a fun, melodic and moving version, particularly given it is a “living room” production starring our Senior Rabbi Yoshi Zweiback (and featuring our Cantors and others from the Temple). Enjoy!
BEST “WE’RE GOING TO MAKE IT THROUGH” THOUGHT
I prefer to think of these days as neither long nor short—but different. Our lives have gotten simpler—smaller—and it forces us to either rage against where we are or recalibrate to gain new perspectives and joy from what we are able to experience in the moment. These are days of heightened awareness and sensitivity to our surroundings. The chirps from the birds’ nests in our yard are harbingers of Spring. The hummingbirds and the bees are out in force (and, sadly, the mosquitos are returning). Flowers are blooming all around, the sun is out, and light breezes fill the night air.
With much love and respect,