Art and Culture

Aerial View

If I had been born a different person and chosen an entirely different career path (say a secret service agent), I might have had a view like this today.  Would it have been worth it?  So interesting to watch the dance of intention and fate.  This, by the way, is the view from the cafeteria at the Department of Labor, so I can have it any other day.  If you look closely, you can see where the podium was set up in front of the capitol.  The pictures in the next post are mostly from the park just north of the capitol — so they would be just outside of this shot on the left.a-secret-service-view


“Yes We Can”

Yesterday’s inaugural concert spurred all sorts of memories from me.  When I was a child, we went a number of times to the Clearwater Revival Festival and other folk festivals where Pete Seeger was a headline.  He is just ten years older than my Dad, and though my parents were not among those who became famous, they were hanging around the Village and my Dad was doing activist things at the same time.  James Taylor’s “Shower the People” was a favorite when I was in junior high school.  There was a boy from camp who played the guitar who I remember saying that “a little James Taylor goes a long way [towards getting a girl’s attention].”  Bruce Springsteen, John Cougar Mellenkamp, U2, Bob Marley, Aaron Copeland, and the great oldies (played at the concert and listed as Obama’s top ten ipod songs), are part of the music of my high school, college, and law school years.

Not needing music or advertising to help me decide to vote, I didn’t pay much attention to how music was being used in the campaign.  But here was the music, and it was mostly my music, too.  The concert was very clever, designed to appeal to black and white, young and old, and populist — they were careful to have the performers whose oevre might not appeal to an older or younger crowd stick to songs with mass appeal.

Interestingly, it gave me an insight to those conservative guys from the middle of the country who said they liked W because he was the kind of guy they could hang with and have a beer.  The concert was a concert I might have attended when I was in high school or college or law school.  I had an insight about what it feels like to feel comfortable with the education and background of the President, but only up to a point.  I enjoyed this trip down memory lane, but it did not impact my politics or how I would view the Presidency.  There is a fine line between relating and agreeing, appreciating and accepting without question.


Slumdog Millionaire

I’d been thinking about going based on the subject matter and the reviews.  Studying and practicing yoga from such a Western perspective, I think it is important for me to understand more deeply how much and what of our culture India is embracing, while we embrace its philosophy and aesthetics and use it to supply us with cheap labor.  I am conscious that yoga has come to me through the filter of British colonialism (that is one of the many reasons for the name “Rose Garden Yoga”).

I was worried about whether I could sit through the violent images, but I was talking to my sister last weekend, and she had it on the top of her list, so I decided to go after all.  The movie deserves its superlative reviews.  Don’t be misled, though, by the reviews that say it is ultimately a fairytale.  Although it is a story of compassion and loyalty, of the quirks of fate, memory, and the solace of philosophy, it contains candid depictions of abject suffering, unbearable poverty, and unspeakable cruelty.  It raises pointed questions about when violence is warranted in the face of injustice or for mere survival. It is certainly thought provoking and eye opening.  Most of the thoughts I’ll wait to share with those who have seen the movie.