Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Before we went to Michigan my son and I started going to a Tuesday night open mic at a bookstore north of the University District. Our first time there he sang “Home on the Range” and I played guitar, and I sang my setting of a William Blake poem and he played drum. Our second time there we did one of my songs, with him singing on the choruses and playing drum. We’ve missed the last two Tuesdays but we’re planning to go this week. The open mic regulars are totally sweet and indulgent of us, and there are some fine musicians there.

week the kid wants to sing a Chinese song he learned in pre-school to the tune of “Frere Jacques.” We’ve been practicing singing it in round, me singing the French version. He’s enjoying the challenge, which is a delight for me. We’ll see how we do this Tuesday.

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This afternoon we went to a Totem Pole Raising ceremony for a pole carved by Wayne Hewson, a Tsimshian Indian from S.E. Alaska, at the Burke Museum of Anthropology at the University of Washington. The pole was very beautiful, and the ceremony lasted an hour and a half, with two dance groups singing songs and dancing. Some of the dancing was funny, and it was great to hear the stories behind the songs, some of them very personal. It was a beautiful and moving celebration.

After the ceremony we looked around the museum. I was admiring a mask carved by a carver from the Nuu-Chah-Nulth tribe in Vancouver Island; one side of the mask was painted Nuu-Chah-Nulth style and the other side was painted in the style of the Maori people from New Zealand. I turned around to show the mask to my beloved spouse, and a Native American man said something to me in his language. I said, “I’m sorry, I only speak English,” and he said, “I carved that.” It was the artist, David George. He said that he had been inspired to make the mask after visiting New Zealand and admiring Maori art, and that he had taken a long time to come up with the mask’s design, but that once he had the design the carving flowed like water. He was delightful to talk to.

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Speaking of meeting the artist, last Sunday, on our early morning flight from Detroit to Chicago, en route back to Seattle, I thanked the great jazz saxophonist and composer Roscoe Mitchell -- whom I have seen in concert three times -- for his music. He smiled and shook my hand -- a true thrill.

Photo by my beloved spouse some time around Labor Day in the neighbor’s driveway behind our house.

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