Monthly Archives: May 2010

Subway Walks and Subtle Hints

What do you get when you combine a late delayed train, a sweaty journalist, five million people and a singer from Los Angeles?
You get dehydration and a wonderful new friendship.

Yesterday was the big investigation quest for our next story. Our current editor/instructor is Tony Carnes, Senior Writer for Christianity Today. I knew I wanted to do a story on subway musicians, but I didn’t know what angle to choose that hadn’t already been done. Finally, after much debate and a conversation with Mr. Carnes, I decided I was going to focus on the artists with lucrative careers who choose to audition and participate in Music Under New York (MUNY). It’s a program started by the Metro system to help cut down on the crowding of street musicians and give multiple artists a chance to show off their art. By multiple, I mean 350. I was stuck in the classroom until around noon. Then, out I went. The final product of the next two days will be up on the blog soon. I got to attend mini-shows from some amazing artists for only $2.25 and a train ride. Pretty much worth it if you ask me. I spent more money than I was hoping to on tips/CDs, but that was also worth my money and my time.

As I was watching Najib Bahri play under 34th Street and Herald Square, I was asked to coffee by Akirim, a Palestinian man from Queens. I was sung to by a famous subway Doo-Wap group called Spank. Everyone in this city is beautiful. They are not perfect and some are not attractive, but they are all a beautiful part of the streets that I am walking on and living in.

Earlier today, Jonah, Kevin and I filmed my interview with Nicola, an independent female artist who found fame through her part in MUNY. We walked past twenty-five cops all standing by Sketchers on break, and then ran into a “Live Comedy” spokesperson named David. Kevin didn’t know he was a comedian at first because he was asking us if we had a permit for the video camera. We talked about the cops and Fleet Week and gun laws. He was a great guy with a great sense of humor and I hope to return the favor some day.

It’s 5:26 a.m and I’m still up finalizing this video. Time to get a brief hour of sleep before Manny Garcia starts tomorrow. So long, goodnight, and good luck!

-Article: Out of the mainstream and into the underground – MUNY Artists
-Personals Profile – Joe Taylor, Musician and Songwriter and my new friend
-Vlogs, smog and more!


Cleveland’s classical pride journeys to the house that music built

By Hannah Yanega

NEW YORK CITY—Usually, one night stands are not bragging matters. For the Cleveland Orchestra’s performance of Beethoven and Berg at Carnegie Hall, the bragging should never cease.

The Cleveland Orchestra performed in Carnegie Hall Friday, May 21, for their annual part in the “Great Orchestras” concert series. The orchestra travels and performs all over the world including Japan, Austria, Switzerland, Florida and Italy.

“It’s wonderful to be able to show off what a great orchestra we have in a small city in the U.S,” said Ana Papakhian, director of communications for the Cleveland Orchestra. “The orchestra builds collegiality and camaraderie that comes with traveling and together it teaches them to listen well and benefit from the experience as a group.”

Before the orchestra’s arrival, an alert eye might have caught a distinguished face amid crowd of pedestrians on New York streets. Graying hair lifting in a gust from passing city traffic, Musical Director Franz Welser-Möst stands, arms crossed, reading over a promotional poster on the 56th street side of Carnegie Hall.

Franz Welser-Möst

Musical Director Franz Welser-Möst

Dressed in blue jeans with a canary-yellow sweater draped loosely over his shoulders; he appeared relaxed 24-hours before his New York appearance.

In lieu of his immense responsibilities, Welser-Möst is glad that “fortunately, [unpacking] is not a part of my job description.” In a later interview, he explained how the popularity of the orchestra is evident through touring.

“Just last week, they opened tickets sales for Japan when we go in November and the first concert was sold out in one hour,” Welser-Möst said. “It tells you how much the orchestra is in demand. Traveling is simply getting the word out how great this orchestra is.”*

An orchestra member under Welser-Möst’s direction, cellist David Alan Harrell has been with Cleveland since 1995. Travel is a frequent part of his job, and pre-concert preparation can have some difficulties.

Alan Harrell

Orchestra cellist from 1995-present

“The main difference in preparation is for people like me with bigger instruments,” said Harrell. “My cello gets shipped to New York, so I can’t practice the night before. Otherwise, preparation is pretty much the same.”

During his years of employment, he has experienced and performed in numerous music halls around the world. Still, none have the same nostalgic quality as The House that Music Built.

“The history of Carnegie Hall is very interesting,” said Harrell. “So many musicians have been here over the century that it has a whole new meaning to have that presence in New York.”

Towering far above the bustle of 7th Avenue, the rusty red-brick face of Carnegie doesn’t emanate the initial impression of grandeur associated with Severance Hall. Even without the luxury of outdoor space, though, Carnegie radiates an antique glow which reflects its rich history and renown in the musical world. Regardless of the location of a venue, Harrell emphasizes the importance of a quality performance.

“We try and always play for the music, not the place,” Harrell said. “We seek to give the same energy and approach to the music with the same integrity that we would if we were playing anywhere else.”

Alan Harrell took a few minutes to talk about what he finds most beneficial and enjoyable about touring with the orchestra.

*I was given the privilege of interviewing Franz Welser-Möst regarding orchestra touring and his role in the process. The excerpts from Beethoven’s symphony no. 3 are courtesy of Sony Classical Records (Cleveland Orchestra, 1991).

Orchestra and Traveling: an interview with Franz Welser-Möst

Vodpod videos no longer available.
-Extended interview with Alan Harrell (deadline limit was one minute)
-Review of Beethoven and Berg – Breathtakingly Close to Perfection

Liberal Agenda – And Mine

Atheists who are militant about their intellectual arguments and vehement about hating God are fundamentally impossible. They cannot exist, but I suppose they’ve decided that “they think, therefor they are.” That does not work. If you insist that I’m wrong, you’re as deluded as they are, and I’ll tell you why.

Many atheists believe that there is no God. He is the “imaginary friend” of the evangelical Christian. He’s a myth, a joke, a fairy tale, and if you believe otherwise, many atheists won’t hesitate to tell you that you’re a moronic and sentimental fool. The problem is that many atheists hate God and make this fact clear as well. Immediate problem: How the heck can you hate something that doesn’t exist?

Don’t try and give me the crap logic tirade that I have had shoved in my face time and time again. You’ll end up wasting your breath with this conservative writer, because frankly, I know the truth in my heart and you can’t change that. If you believe God does not exist and you hate him or the thought of him, you are living a purely illogical lie and you are steeped to the waist in it.

S.E Cupp, author and commentator, was our feature luncheon speaker for WJI today. She’s spunky, direct, brilliant and a complete minority in the spheres of the public square – She’s an atheist who supports the Christian Conservative struggle in the U.S. People have accused her of faking her atheism to get an angle and draw attention to herself. Liberals, especially those in big media, can’t stand the thought that she would support the Conservative Christian right. As far as I’m concerned, she’s one of the most real, genuine atheists that I’ve ever met. She’s not trying to erase God. She doesn’t believe in his existence, but she defends and admires those who have a secure faith and she knows better than to try and fight people that God doesn’t exist.

Atheists will argue that if you can’t show them evidence of the Creator, he does not exist and you will not convince them otherwise. Until the day comes when an atheist can come up with 100% proof that an Almighty Creator does not exist, I will disregard any judgment of my beliefs, faith walk or character. I cannot give you any tangible proof of God. I don’t have his fingerprint records or photograph or autograph. I do have the Bible, the word of God, and while that won’t satisfy most atheists, it’s good enough for me.

If you think and therefor, you are, the same fundamental principle must be applied to God in your personal life. You may not believe that there is a Divine Being in control of the universe, but you also can’t make yourself supreme. You are human, just like the rest of us.

Today’s class began with an excellent devotional time by Robert Case, followed by an immediate transition to the instruction of Professor Michael Smith of Campbell University. Gonzo reporting, a method Smith uses of getting journalists to “get up and go” has been an electrifying concept. I’ve been running all over the city meeting members of the Cleveland Orchestra. By chance, I actually met the man behind the works that I had been hoping to speak with – Musical Director himself, Franz Welser-Möst. He passed me the first time and I think my brain recognized him, but it took a good minute to sink in. I had walked around the back of Carnegie to take some pictures when a very familiar person walked towards me. He was wearing jeans, a blue polo and had a pale yellow sweater tied in a loose knot around his neck. I smiled at him, walked past and stopped dead. Here he was, just the man I was looking for at a time when I wasn’t even looking. Providence? Yes.

Quickly, I ratified the matter of my muteness by whipping around and approaching him. I introduced myself and mentioned my story and my connection to the Orchestra. He shook my hand and by this point, I was quaking with uncontrollable, unbidden excitement. He was gracious enough to wait for me to get a picture, even letting me delete a few off of my CF card since (Murphy’s Law) I had just filled it up. While it’s not a great photo on my part, he was more than kind and gave me a wonderful smile. It’s nice to see musical directors and conductors get a break from routine seriousness.

More tomorrow on my day today – orchestra rehearsal, press passes, article madness, another encounter and wonderful work.

Take care, turn around, shake the hand behind you…


Big Apple from an Apartment Window

I’ve been to New York City. I’ve never had the time to see everything I wanted to see. I visited the Guggenheim and was moved by Picasso’s Woman Ironing and Anish Kapoor’s Memory. I’ve driven to the Man Ray exhibit at the Jewish Museum on 5th Avenue. I’ve walked through Madison Square Park and Bryant Park. I’ve seen Hedda Gabler on Broadway. Of all of the wonderful things that I have seen and done, I have a feeling that I won’t be doing much exploring on this trip.

The apartment that I’m inhabiting for the three weeks that I’m here looks out at the corner of Broadway and 34th Street. I have watched the entrance of Macy’s almost every year on the TV for the Thanksgiving Parade. Now, my living room window has become my television, looking right out onto Macy’s and the pedestrian walkway. My room has become my looking glass, and New York is just a glance in the right direction.

There is constant talking, constant sirens and constant movement. Today was a rainy, blustery, cold day so the movement was dampened a little, but the city barely flinches at rain. My roommate Cat made us an amazing dinner of Italian garlic chicken, macaroni and cheese and broccoli. Let me tell you, after a long day of reporting, walking and editing, that was one of the best dorm meals ever, bar none.

Today was the first day that we’ve really gotten to see the city. The program is set up in such a way that tourism is rare. Reporting gets us places, but for the most part we’re here to learn and listen, but not to touch. I don’t mind being distanced from it all. Today made up for any feeling of overwhelming stress. Today, we had some looking time.

Clayton Sizemore of CNN was our instructor today. He’ll be returning at the end of the month to solidify another article idea with us, but today was his introduction to our cameras and video editing. For this assignment, we headed over to Central Park to find a two-minute story to practice putting together using five main types of shot, narration, interview and soundbite. Because the rain was rather miserable, he allowed us to do our stories inside the Time Warner Mall. Not too much later, we found out that we weren’t allowed to film inside the mall, but journalists need to be more tenacious than that. Let’s just say that while I wasn’t happy with my final result of the exercise, I was crafty.

After our near-criminal attempts at shooting stories, we all had some sort of product to work with. From there, we met up with Mr. Sizemore in the lobby of the Time Warner building on Columbus Circle. We received guest passes and took an elevator up into the heart of CNN New York. We got a personalized tour of most of the facility, including newsroom, studios, production and planning. We also ran into Wolf Blitzer and got to watch some of the pre-production and live promos for Showbiz Tonight. It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in terms of big media, and hopefully I’ll have a few more while I still have the chance. Fox News? Perhaps?

As for this evening, we’re all trying our best to finish up the many articles and homework assignments due tomorrow. There’s so much to do and not much time to do it. That’s what makes this entire experience as thrilling and worthwhile as it already is on the second day. Two days in and already we’ve made so much progress… That’s saying something.

Tomorrow will be our first day with Russel Pulliam, so I need to finish this up and get to my work. I look forward to every experience ahead and I’ll be sure to write all about it!

Be bold, seek the truth – always.

We look like professionals!

Recognizing the Ideal

While watching the conclusion of Anne of Avonlea this recently, I realized that Anne and I are more similar than I’d like to admit. Yes, we share the enchanting creativity, positive outlook and get lost in the heart of imaginary worlds. On the flip side, we share the worst parts of ourselves. We can get irritated easily and we often misconstrue what people tell us. We get lost in our imaginations and don’t watch our tongues. We have spice, we have temper and sometimes, we have too much to think about to be bothered with the world. We tune out or overreact, and it breaks us time and time again.

More than anything, I see Anne in myself through one huge vein of commonality – getting lost looking for our ideal. We know the man we want, the career we want, the life we want and the people we want to be, but is that really what is best? I know that I’ve gone searching for my ideal and it got me a harmful dating relationship, depression, a lack of motivation and in emotional crisis. I’ve unintentionally hurt people that I care deeply about because I insisted myself that my ideal was waiting for me elsewhere. Too often, we seek security in that which we’ve always imagined was best. One song that fits this topic and has become my personal mantra of sorts is “When You Were Young” by the Killers. I don’t want to be unoriginal by linking my life pathway thus far to musical lyrics, but I don’t think I’ve heard a mainstream group state it better.

You sit there in your heartache,
Waiting on some beautiful boy to
To save you from your old ways,
You play forgiveness, watch it now,
Here he comes:

He doesn’t look a thing like Jesus,
but he talks like a gentleman, like
You imagined when you were young…

You guys who may read my entries from time to time know this feeling too. You’ve searched and searched for the ideal friends, girls, angle to your life. You’ve known the struggle of trying to be happy. This might mean finding satisfaction in a good group of friends and trying to dive completely into your classes. Most times, however, you’ve found that you’ve dived headfirst into an empty, dry pool and watch the cracking concrete hurtling towards your face. You can’t force yourself into happiness. Instead, that kind of approach makes you realize your own misery in sharper clarity and makes your struggle for idealism transparent to the people who surround you, whether they care about you or not. What you may think is your ideal may just be a rash filler for the real importance in your life. Life will move on whether you’re catching on or not. More than likely, the things you thought least important or least relevant to your aims or interests might be your perfect, true ideal. The question lies in whether or not you’ve given that outlier a chance to prove its worth.

Suppose you had the chance to have buy some fantastic, nonexchangeable item that would cost you everything. If you buy one of the first items that you come to, you risk throwing everything you have into something that may be worthless or petty compared to what you could have had if you had just waited a little longer and kept your options open. Now, apply this idea to your life. How far are you willing to walk through your life before being willing to admit that perhaps your imagined ideal was not the best investment of your time and energy?

I tried to convince myself that I had found my ideal companion last year. What I imagined was my ideal and what that person ended up being did not match up. My ideal picture in mind ended up clouding the true face of the person who had the appearance of what I had always wanted, but did not satisfy the fantasy. I’m not saying to ignore what you’ve always wanted in order to get something that’s better or worse. I’m warning you to make certain that you know yourself well enough to realize your ideal. You may get to the point where you passed some opportunity up in order to find something better that you’ve always wanted. Instead, when you finally arrive at the anticipated goal, you discover that what you had in the past was what you really wanted all along. You just didn’t know yourself well enough to accept that realism.

Don’t give in too early and don’t give up too late. If you don’t know yourself, you won’t even know what you want from anything – a mate, a job, your environment. Keep an open mind and never close out potential ideals. Most importantly, you shouldn’t have to change who you are to fit your ideal, no matter what it is. It’s important to keep open eyes to catch places where you should improve in your life (especially relationally). But at your core, you should never have to revolutionize who you are to fit an ideal in any area of your life. Your ideal will be your perfect match, and many times there will be times when you must participate in things that aren’t your cup of tea. Those are times of growth that you must look out for, otherwise you risk missing them. You can learn from any experience in your life, especially if you are willing to recognize your faults and how you can correct your mistakes.

Like puzzle pieces or bricks in a foundation, the ideal match will be found when the time is right. I’m saying this as much to myself as to you. I’ve been victim to poor decisions in my past because I was afraid. I was afraid of not knowing what to do with my life and I was afraid of being alone. I was afraid of the future and what it might or might not bring. I felt lost, rejected and frustrated that so much of what I longed for belonged to other people. Still, I need to remind myself daily to keep pressing forward and discover who I truly am. I need to be totally content in God and content in who I am and learn to be more willing to change and seek to improve in areas that I am weak. I know that this time in New York City will help.

The recent weeks have been a rush of ideas and a flurry of work. I may still fear and worry a lot, but I have security in the fact that what comes along at any time could be my ideal. I just can’t reject the notion or refuse to acknowledge that perhaps I was intended for so much more than what I think I want. Fulfilling wants is not always a bad thing, since that is who we are and that is how we live. We need to practice fulfilling those wants in healthy and broadening ways. We can stretch and we can constantly learn something new about ourselves and about our world. As Anne reminds us cheerfully in Anne of Green Gables, “Tomorrow is fresh with no mistakes in it.” Tomorrow will become today, and today is always brand new and teeming with new and unexpected opportunities and joys. Can you embrace it or are you too restricted by fear?

Fear is born of uncertainty and joy can be born of acceptance of that uncertainty. Optimism can be blind, but we can’t ever regret that blindness if we learn something valuable in the end. More on that at another time, perhaps.

Anne Shirley, you and I are kindred spirits indeed.

Until tomorrow, my dear readers. Tomorrow is a new day!


Waking Thoughts

Every once and a while at home, I actually wake up before the world really starts moving.

There have been summers where I have sat on my couch, awake, until the entire backyard was that perfect shade of blue – the one where the sun hasn’t risen, but the bird have started to wake and everything is covered in a rich, pale blue. Sometimes, I didn’t intend to stay up quite that late (or early), but sometimes I just hadn’t wanted to go to sleep.

Trust me, I lovemornings. I don’t even mind that we live within earshot of the freeway. I just love being awake before the day has gotten out of bed. This morning, “Junebug” by Robert Francis started playing on my iPod and I could just slowly open my eyes, stretch and bask in my languid state until I felt inspired to write. A breeze heavy with spring and the remnants of last night’s thunderstorm are enough to refresh anyone.

Even though my time in bed won’t last long, it’s still nice to have that moment to love life and thank God for the beauty in our suffering world. These times of peace do not mean the world stops its pain or strife, but it means I have the unbelievable opportunity to enjoy some of the wonderful lightness of my little sphere of being. If only other people could know this joy…

Today, I’ll be visiting the Farmers Market at Shaker Square, an open-air farmers market that has been returning to Shaker Square for sixteen years now. The market, open from April 3rd until December 8th, is a chance for local farmers and other merchants to gather for commerce and celebration of local agriculture. It’ll be my first time to the market and I’m really looking forward to it.

I’m also helping my father assemble a batting cage today, provided the rain doesn’t soak us out. As of now, the sky is speckled with a smattering of gray clouds, but hopefully they won’t stick around for very long. Ohio lives so much in rain and snow that any sunny day is difficult to give away to dark clouds. We take the sun that we can get and love every moment of it 🙂

So here’s until later when we’ve all woken up!

Take care, love life, find joy.