Amber orbs

Venturing back into my long-dormant blog, just in time for the new year. I have a tendency to write posts as unedited, rambling drafts and then never actually POST them, so going to make a minor effort to push that Publish Post button.

Up first is a series of pictures taken on the rooftop balcony at SFMOMA in late November. My family journeyed from the damp reaches of Seattle and Portland to visit San Francisco for Thanksgiving, so I had a chance to play host and show off all of the city’s decadent amenities. Naturally we made a go for SFMOMA, that art-deco tower of modern artistic thought. Prior to our museum jaunt, we stopped for coffee and contributed to a letter to my sister’s pen pal, an architecture friend studying at Columbia. We added a pint-sized doodle of a bird’s eye view of San Francisco, with commentary added (“My house”, “HIPSTERS”, “HIPPIES”, etc.) Here is her reply:


Wow, that Gawon sure is a great pen pal. And what lovely handwriting!

After feeling particularly inspired by the celestial Field Conditions exhibit and Chinese paintings depicting the Maoist culture of the 20th century, we snaked up to the top floor for a pause from our arduous standing-and-pondering activities.

As we sat down on a side balcony, the clock nearing 5 pm, the last rays of the day cast a  sharply incandescent glow.  My family humored me as I went into amateur photog mode, cajoling them to “Stay right there! Now.. scrunch down a bit, yeah.” They both have such warmly amber orbital eyes that I wanted to capture their moment in the sun.

Fire eye’d girl.




It would be too easy to go into cliche-land and compare her ambiguous smile to a certain eyebrow-less Da Vinci, but I am NOT GOING TO GO THERE.



But really, what is she thinking?


playlist 05.26.12- and now, the end is here…

After almost five years of hosting a non-commercial radio show, I’ve decided to hang up my headphones. This was my final show as “Duffy” on KSCU 103.3 fm.

R. H. Quaytman, I Love—The Eyelid Clicks / I See / Cold Poetry, Chapter 18, 2010

Source: SF Moma: Contemporary Painting, 1960- present 

The show’s bittersweet theme:

Melancholy, dark beauty with a playful wink. The painful edge of the sublime. Life as a series of small deaths. The wild-eyed freedom linked with the finite. Transcendence.

(Not that I take myself too seriously.)

In true college-radio form, the show touched on an abundant number of intermingling genres, careening between 60’s-influenced surfer pop (Tennis), downtempo electronic fit for a European lounge (Buraka Som Sistema), synthed-out psychedelia (BMSR), and Venezuelan acid jazz (Los Amigos Invisibles), all connected through some ethereal thread.

BEST COAST the only place – the only place Single from Best Coast’s just-released second album, slickly produced by Jon Brion… sure to  be a staple at this summer’s sun-drenched, chlorine-scented BBQ’s. Bethany and Bobb, you’ve done it again!

TENNIS it all feels the same- young & old

SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE hot fun in the summertime- greatest hits

WILD NOTHING live in dreams- gemini

ANDREW BIRD near death experience experience- break it yourself This morbidity-obsessed show wouldn’t be complete without this plucky gem from A.Bird’s 2012 release, “Break it Yourself”!

SUFJAN STEVENS futile devices (shigeto remix) A subtlety bass-inflected remix of Sufjan’s  Age of Adz opener. 

CAN vitamin c “Hey you!”  

WILD BEASTS bed of nails- smother

SUN RA space is the place / door to the cosmos Venture to the cosmos and beyond with Sun Ra!

MULATU ASTATKE yegelle tezetu 1970’s Ethiopian latin-tinged jazz…. talk about smooth. 

COYOTE TRICKSTER pass well- coy  Check out this funky fresh SF band on their bandcamp!

ALABAMA SHAKES you ain’t alone- boys & girls

BEACH HOUSE lazuli- bloom New Beach House…. guess I know what I’m playing on repeat for the next year! Keep an ear out for the secret song at the end of Bloom’s closing track  “Irene”…

AUTOLUX highchair – K.V.Wong’s selection

BLOUSE into black- blouse

LITTLE DRAGON looking glass- machine dreams

LYKKE LI  dance dance dance (buraka som sistema remix)

AIR so light is her footfall (breakbot remix)

BLACK MOTH SUPER RAINBOW twin of myself- eating us This song/ video would be cool projected on a wall during a social gathering… just a thought. 


BONOBO kiara (cosmin trg remix)- black sands remix


OF MONTREAL lysergic bliss- satanic panic in the attic Funny how in spite of all my woes, life could appear rosy and clear

LOS AMIGOS INVISIBLES ease your mind – Gonzilla pick

SUFJAN STEVENS star of wonder

A sincere thank you to all I have encountered on this radio adventure. Five years!

photographic dabblings: look at the street

Objects (and people, and things) found on the streets of San Francisco and Berkeley; spontaneous moments of whimsy and intrigue. A song for each picture to capture the mood.

“Beware.” Woolsey Street, Berkeley, April 2012.  Musical Accompaniment: “What Do You Expect,” El Perro Del Mar. 

“Sprouting.”  Arguello Street, February 2012.  Musical Accompaniment: “Phone Call,” Jon Brion.

“Sorta Like a Dream (Isn’t It?)” Great Highway, January 2012.
Musical Accompaniment: “Collapsing at your Doorstep,” Air France. 

Creators Project SF eliminates the boundaries of art, music, technology

Disclaimer: I feel that I am playing INTO THE SYSTEM by even writing this post… the whole #creators phenom is a fantastic product placement marketing scheme for Intel and Vice, aligning their brands with a particularly desirable demographic (presumably affluent, tech-savvy urbanities). Nothing is really free, and by participating in an event like this (and by broadcasting your participation via Twitter, blogs, etc), you are providing advertising gold.

But you know what? They did a damn good job. If they decide to spend big bucks on an event that fosters creativity, innovation, imagination… there are worse values to promote. I appreciated the level of intellectual curiosity present at the Creators Project, the sense of elevated discourse, the   understanding of the immediate, integrated nature of technology in our lives. Rather than separating “new media” as its own unique entity outside of everyday life, the event featured an acutely realistic  perspective on the nature of human interaction in 2012.

James Murphy (LCD Soundsystem/ DFA Records), the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s, and Squarepusher were the headliners in the solid line-up, also featuring Shabazz Palaces, the Antlers, the Hundred in the Hands, and Zola Jesus.

Nancy Whang, Patrick Mahoney, and James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem

In 2011 the Creators Project toured to New York, Beijing, London, Paris, Lyon, Sao Paulo and Seoul, and this weekend’s SF exhibit was the first full-blown West Coast festival. The Creator’s Project made its first splash at Coachella 2011 during Arcade Fire’s headlining Saturday set, with director Chris Milk’s interactive piece, “Summer Into Dusk”. I found Arcade Fire’s set undoubtedly one of the highlights of Coachella, an emotive experience that exemplified the collective euphoria that festivals strive to achieve. Take a look at this behind-the-scenes documentary about the preparation of “Summer Into Dusk” on Chris Milk’s site, really fascinating.

This was by far the most polite, mild-mannered free music event I have ever been to. Patient cueing for drinks, clean, well-stocked bathrooms, indoor heat-lamps… what is this! It seemed to  be a fusion of the soft-spoken, negative-space art world with the unabashed psychedelia of Outside Lands, with just a touch of Burning Man whimsy thrown in. By making the Creators Project a free event (with pre-registration RSVP required), it minimized the classism that accompanies most major festivals ($400 Coachella ticket, I’m lookin’ at you).

Now, onto the exhibits! Stand-out piece by far was “Origin,” aka THE CUBE (shown above). This 40 foot by 40 foot aluminum structure entranced festival-goers long into the night… best viewed while laying down inside of the structure, providing full sensory immersion.

Loved “Meditation” by Minha Yang… feel the power!

“Strata #4” by Quayola was a soothing, engaging, fascinating integration of “old-world” and computer-based art.

Still attempting to process “Life on Mars (Revisited)” by David Bowie, Mick Rock, and Barney Clay. Another exhibit viewed while laying down on pillows, highly recommend! (Photo by MTV, as they did not allow photography inside of the exhibit).

The Antlers were one of my favorite sets– dreamy,  atmospheric soundscapes. And that falsetto, whew, spine-tingling! Playing “French Exit” from 2011’s Burst Apart on repeat.
Chris Milk returned with “The Treasury of Sanctuary” — a massive interactive instillation with definite Black Swan vibes.
All in all, a really cool experience, check it out this weekend at Fort Mason if you have the opportunity! Exhibits open to the public until 9 pm Sunday night.

the place where you go to listen

Excerpt from “Song of the Earth: The Arctic Sound of John Luther Adams.” Alex Ross, The Rest Is Noise. Originally published in The New Yorker, 2008. 

At The Museum of the North, the composer John Luther Adams has created a sound-and-light instillation called The Place Where You Go To Listen— a kind of infinite musical work that is controlled by natural events occurring in real time. The mechanism of The Place translates raw data into music: information from seismological, meterological, and geomagnetic stations in various parts of Alaska is fed into a computer and transformed into a luminous field of electronic sound.

The Place occupies a small white-walled room on the museum’s second floor. You sit on a bench before five glass panels, which change color according to the time of day and the season.

What you notice first is a dense, organlike sonority; the notes follow the contour of the natural harmonic series– the rainbow of overtones that emnate from a vibrating string– and have the brightness of music in a major key. The moon is audible as a narrow sliver of noise. Pulsating patterns in the bass are activated by small earthquakes and other seismic events around Alaska. And shimmering sounds in the highest registers are tied to the fluctuations in the magnetic field that cause the Northern Lights.

For  stellar audio of Adams’ complex, ambient compositions, check out his website and listen to his pieces, which he describes as “electro-acoustic soundscapes.”  Here’s a video of The Place in action (albeit with subpar sound quality):

Adams describes The Place in his own words:

“I knew that I wanted to hear the unheard, that I wanted to somehow transpose the music that is just beyond the reach of our ears into audible vibrations. I knew that it had to be its own space. And I knew that it had to be real– that I couldn’t fake this, that nothing could be recorded. It had to have the ring of truth.

“Actually my original conception for The Place was truly grandiose. I thought that it might be a piece that could be realized at any location on the earth, and that each location would have its unique sonic signature. That idea– tuning the whole world– stayed with me for a long time. But at some point I realized that I was tuning it so that this place, this room, on this hill, looking out over the Alaska Range, was the sweetest-sounding spot on Earth.”

The composer and artist, John Luther Adams

The composer and artist, John Luther Adams