Sunday, December 12, 2010

Parple- "But Why, Sir?"

My band, Parple's, full-length debut album has officially been released. Download it now for free on Available soon on iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, and virtually anywhere else that music is sold online.


Friday, October 29, 2010

This blogger is doing something original: Off to DC for the Rally to Restore Sanity!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Miles From Nowhere, I guess I'll take my time

"Miles from nowhere/ I guess I'll take my time/ Oh yeah, to reach there. Look up at the mountain/ I have to climb/ Oh yeah, to reach there... Lord my body has been a good friend/ But I won't need it when I reach the end... Miles from nowhere/ Guess I'll take my time/ Oh yeah, to reach there... I love everything/ So don't it make you feel sad/ 'cause I'll drink to you, my baby/ I'll think to that, I'll think to that... Miles from nowhere/ Not a soul in sight/ Oh yeah, but it's alright...

"I have my freedom/ I can make my own rules/ Oh yeah, the ones that I choose... Lord my body has been a good friend/ But I won't need it when I reach the end...

"Miles from nowhere/ Guess I'll take my time/ Oh yeah, to reach there."

-Cat Stevens

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

But Why, Sir? New Album from Parple

Forgive my shameless self promotion, but my excitement can't be contained as I share the outcome of several months of hard work. Earlier this summer, I joined a new band with some old friends out of South Jersey and New York City called Parple. Since then, we've been working furiously on our debut album, "But Why, Sir?" to be released this December.

I've played many live shows as a lead guitarist in my relatively short career so far with bands promoting their own albums and original music and have always enjoyed it. But I've never had the privilege and honor of working in a recording studio on an album, and even have my own creative input utilized. It's a tedious process, but a thrilling one at that. Its remarkably exciting to watch a piece of music slowly unfold before your ears.

I have to also say that the band, featuring a lineup of old high school buddies, one of which I was formerly in a band with, is a fantastic collection of some of the greatest musical minds I have personally known and worked with. Collaborating on this music with them has challenged my own skills and made me a better musician. The music on the album is a collection that piano player Todd Selby wrote on his own as well as with best friend and drummer Alex Terruso, after previous stints in a band called the Claques. Entering college, the band, and the friendship, crumbled over petty issues. But alas, reconciliation achieved, the duo returned to song writing and decided to expand their field of creative input and invited the remarkably talented bassist, Steve Conroy, and myself on guitar, before entering the studio to cut their debut album under the new name, Parple.

The band, as a stroke of fortune, all happens to live in New York City after meeting in high school in South Jersey, and as such looks forward to playing shows there once the album is released. It is my great privilege to introduce the first sample of the album, "But There Will Be Free T-Shirts," available now on the Facebook page.

Also, coming soon, the new website,

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Robert Randolph and the Family Band prove that dueling slide solos are the coolest thing ever.

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes. A must see if ever in your area.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

"Breathe chicken breathe... Chickens don't get no life after death" -the Felice Brothers rocking the accordian

Whiskey in my Whiskey:

Day two of the festival: Diane Birch stole my heart.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Live blogging from the XPN festival. Grace Potter and the Nocturnals are cooking with every band member on drums...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Seven Bottles of Light in a Stone Box

Ever since his lecture at Pratt Institute in February of this year, I've been fascinated by architect Steven Holl. Coincidentally, he designed the recently completed connection of Higgins Hall Center, part of Pratt's School of Architecture.

Holl is not one of these modern architects who finds a need to rationalize architecture through modern technology. I acknowledge my naiveté in this field, but all of these architects like Brett Steele (chair of the Architectural Association in London) that look to the internet and the massive interconnected networks of the 21st century as some sort of basis for the future of architecture drive me crazy. It is not even a case of the human element being lost in this process, for it isn't even there to begin with. There is not attention to or care for form, and is that not where all architecture is "doomed" to end up, intentional or not? Yet an overarching notion is that none of these projects are intended to even be completed. This architecture that lacks a human purpose and element disturbs me, despite its intentional efforts as experimentation.

But Steven Holl is different. He is an artist-- but an artist in a way that is very much architecturally minded. He paints, but painting is not separate from architecture for him. His projects reflect this artistic approach, as they play with forms and are routed in concepts based on human interaction and physical realities. If there were any overarching guide to his architecture, it would be the constant play of light. Many architects speak of the prominent importance of light in architecture, yet Holl is more deliberate and successful in its use and exploitation than any other I have studied. Case in point is his project at the Seattle University, the Jesuit Chapel. It is without a doubt my favorite piece of architecture of modern times.

The Chapel of St. Ignatius is based on a very simple concept-- "seven bottles of light in a stone box." This water color painting became the concept and basis for the entire project:
These bottles of light function as both beacons of light in seven directions at night, as well as nets which capture multiple types and colors of light throughout the day. The entire project surrounds Jesuit principles of spirituality. As such, the multiple sources of light emphasize the Jesuit idea that "different methods [of spiritual exercises] helped different people" (Steven Holl).

A further play of light is that although light is admitted from all directions, there are no views out. The enclosed space creates an incredibly meditative experience as the shifting light and colors (created from colored baffles behind each "bottle") change throughout the day.

This piece of architecture is intimately connected and geared to the human experience of space. Its concept is a concept of form, and its program is derived from its intent and human flow through space. Similarly, the implementation and usage of light is derived from its purpose and inhabitants. This project, to me, is the essence of what a modern architectural project should be. Perhaps it is an age-old idea for architecture; yet I believe it has the ability to be, and is in fact only effective when, molded and shaped for its contemporary context.

Quotes and images from

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Cash for Architecture

My first "real" architecture project is finished-- not one defined by a professor or done for a grade-- but a project for a client that finishes with a paycheck. I found it pretty exciting, and thought I'd share. A project for an expansion of a backyard porch:

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bluegrass Revelation

Couch-bound due to a wisdom teeth operation, I've had plenty of time in the past few days to soak in the boob tube. One program that I've found and particularly enjoyed is PBS's "WoodSongs." They bring on whole ranges of bluegrass and other acoustic performers, all of them exceptionally talented.

On the show tonight was bluegrass legend Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver. Lawson, an aged mandolin player who grew up in Tennessee growing up to the sounds of bluegrass and gospel, learning from his father, has tended to glean away from his own voice in favor of 3 and 4 part harmonies. As a result, he and his band Quicksilver have won the International Bluegrass Music Award for Best Vocal Group seven years in a row.

I was blown away by the musicianship both instrumentally and vocally. Two songs that the played stopped me dead in my tracks, and I'm anxious to share them with anyone who will give them a listen. Unfortunately, I cannot find the recordings from the show on YouTube, but these videos will have to do.

The first one is an a capella number that is truly stunning. "He Made it All Right" by Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver:

And the second one is a bit more upbeat, its sure to knock your socks off. "Blue Train" by Doyle Lawson:

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Spider Concept-- Oscar Howe

Recommended to me by a friend from South Dakota, this artist produced significant and innovative work that followed in many of the Native American art traditions as well as created new forms and styles reflective of its time. Arguably influenced by Cubism, Oscar Howe's work transcends the style as a hashing of many different artistic influences and ideas. It was really very exciting to take a look at this work, and as I read more about it and see more of it I become more interested in it.

A brief biography written by John A. Day, director of University of South Dakota art galleries, sums up the scope of this artist's work: "In retrospect, O'Neil finds the frequently-stated opinion that Howe was influenced by Cubism during his graduate education to be unfounded. Rather, he believes that Howe returned to the abstract traditions of Plains Indian art and utilized its linear patterns to add dimensionality or illusion to a style that had become flat and static."

John A. Day. Director, University of South Dakota- University Art Galleries. The South Dakota Magazine. July/August 1996.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Lecture from one of the Greats

Yesterday, I had the great fortune of being able to see a lecture by the great contemporary architect Santiago Calatrava at my school, Pratt Institute. There was a real excitement in the air leading up to this event, which had been moved to a larger auditorium than the one usually used for these events. For a bunch of architecture students, this was like seeing a rock star.

The lecture itself perhaps was not as in-depth or as theory-based as some that we often hear, yet there was something memorable about it. The microphone was not working very well, and Mr. Calatrava's heavy accent made it difficult to hear what he was saying. Nevertheless, we all got the gist of what he was saying-- which was to let the architecture speak for itself. Highly different from most lectures on architecture, it was nearly meditative. The room-- packed solid-- was dead quiet, and his calm Spanish accent spoke softly over incredible images of his ephemeral work. It was an incredible evening to be inspired by the work; just the work speaking for itself.

The rock star mentality really surfaced afterwards, catching up with friends of mine who had Mr. Calatrava visit their studio, talk about their work, give them autographs, and take a few photos with them. One girl got a pat on the shoulder... that shirt is getting framed. Others got sketchbooks signed. ...And the rest of us got crazy jealous.

Its funny what rock stars are at architecture school.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Lessons from the Boss

I am enamored by Bruce Springsteen... and I've put a lot of time into figuring out why. Few other artists have made me cry so many times, laugh so many times, and inspired me as much as he has. I think part of the key to this ability is that for Bruce, its not a one-trick game. Its not just the songwriting, not just the showmanship, not just the craft, not just the sound. Music is a confluence of all of the emotions, talents, and abilities of his mind, body, and soul as well as those of the musicians he plays with. And it appears as though he approaches his music the same way he approaches his life-- there isn't an "on" switch he flicks when he goes on stage or into the studio. He's just Bruce Springsteen, all the time, which lends his craft authenticity.

But tactics aside, it is the result of this process that is what has captured me and countless others: When the man goes on stage, he exudes energy, appearing to be bursting out of his own skin ignited by the Holy Spirit of all things musical, emotional, powerful; and everyone around him-- the musicians and audience alike-- can't help but get caught up in that same spirit. For those moments of ecstasy I experience listening to the Boss, I am at once free of the things that bring me down, and intimately in touch with the things that I love.

The feeling I come away with, after the ecstasy, on the drive home from the concert or at the end of the album, is one of admiration, especially as a guitarist, songwriter, and performer; and a nagging question of "how can I become more like this man that I admire me so?" But lets look at the facts: what I like so much about Bruce is the way he approaches what he does with every ounce of his body and soul. Throw your heart and soul into it. This is something I can do. Now, there tends to be a notion of intangibility when you look at celebrities and admire them. But its important to remember that celebrities are just samplings of people, and that there are people who aren't celebrities that have these same qualities. There is nothing about being a "celebrity" that implies that their qualities are intangible.

I think when we allow ourselves to become so absorbed by a celebrity, we have the tendency to let ourselves down. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with celebrities, or admiring them, but its important to keep our heads in reality, looking out for those qualities we admire in the stars, in real people that we see on the streets, at school, or in our groups of friends. Its people that we admire, celebrities and those around us alike, that inspire us and allow us to grow.

This video clip is from his second appearance on Spectacle: Elvis Costello with... and is a great example of how his energy fuels the band and audience alike. As much as I love the E Street Band, I like how this isn't the E Street Band-- it's Elvis's band-- because it shows how Bruce can fuel any band to play with that kind of energy. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Piano in Washington Square

Has anyone ever noticed the acoustics in Washington Square Park?

The other night, my brother and his girlfriend came up for a visit. We walked around the city all day, taking advantage of the recent change in weather. By evening, we found ourselves strolling into Washington Square, where we decided to just sit and listen for a little while. Some young musician had rolled his upright piano out into the middle of the park, and, for whatever change was dropped in the bucket, provided the most incredible atmosphere for a beautiful night.

He was playing Debussy's "Suite Bergamasque." Its a beautiful piece, that always captures me when I hear it, yet there was something more to it that night. Somehow the acoustics of Washington Square added a bit of magic to the mix. I think the way that the circular piazza is situated-- just far enough from any real traffic, and large enough for it never to seem crowded-- mixes the transient noise of young families, couples old and young, and college students into an intimate atmosphere that puts the musician and passersby in conversation. The acoustics of the circle morph the outdoor park into a grand space defined by music-- music of the streets, music of people, and music of a piano.

But very simply, it represented to me what life in the city can be at its best. People coming together in a public space, enjoying and appreciating those around us. It was a peaceful as a night under the stars... which will likely be the topic of my next post.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Three fifty degree days in a row after a long cold winter... Its no wonder George Harrison ever wrote Here Comes the Sun.

Sunday, February 28, 2010


Here's a great article from the NYTimes from 2008. I read it a while ago, and recently rediscovered it. Its about a beautiful piece of architecture that I think is at once vernacular and contemporary. One of the most interesting ideas is that it was almost entirely designed around the idea of making every window a picture window.

The next idea I love about this is the way in which, after decades of neglect, it was revitalized and how it is still kept up. The owners hold work weekends, where they brings friends and workers (who become friends) who are willing to give a little hard labor in return for rest and relaxation. No cash transaction involved. Its friends helping out friends, in return for friendship.

Now isn't that what being human is all about?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Music on my Mind

I've known this song for a while, but it came on my iPod the other day and it was as if it were the first time I'd heard it. A beautiful song, well worth a few listens. I'll let the music do the talking:

Monday, February 22, 2010

Stories from the Pine Ridge- The Bloody Waters will Run Clear Again

Hopefully this post will be the first of a series. I cannot go on blogging much longer without bringing up my experiences this past summer on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. I traveled there with a wonderful group of close friends and two teachers a few weeks after graduating high school-- a trip we had been preparing for for about a year. We went with plans to to run a Bible camp for some of the children out there, and with the intent of keeping open hearts and minds to the beautiful Lakota culture.

While there, we had the tremendous privilege of meeting with and listening to some of the kindest, wisest, and most spiritually powerful people I have ever met. We would sit down with them (always sitting, as Arlo's Uncle Jim explained, because you never really listen unless your seated eye to eye) and listen for hours and hours to their stories of their culture, and accounts of the woes of the reservation today. I would love to bring you all of these stories, however I could never do them any justice relaying to you. But there are a few that cannot go untold, and this is the first of several:

Leonard Littlefinger, a highly respected and intently busy man of about 70, with a remarkable memory and, its worth mentioning, one of the most intelligent and worldly people I've come across, spoke with us a few different times during our stay in the Pine Ridge. This man has lived quite a full life-- he has traveled and worked around the world, fought tirelessly for his people's rights, devoted a great deal of his life to preserving Lakota culture (he speaks English, of course, as well as Lakota, and I'm pretty certain he knows a few other languages), and for a brief time, as he puts it, (i.e. about a decade) he taught in the public school system on the reservation so that he could truly understand the sorry shape of his people's schools. And now, at over 70 years old, he is preparing to open a school that he has formed and built through his global efforts, that will educated Lakota children in their own culture, language, and traditions, as opposed to the imposed education system that is truly detrimental to the continuity of their culture. When asked if he thinks he'll ever slow down or retire, he just chuckles a little to himself. This is a man deeply invested in the well being of all those around him. Being in his presence, you can sense the burden he gracefully carries and have nothing but respect for him.

Amidst his busy schedule, he took a good chunk of time out of his day to spend an afternoon with us to tell us about his family's history. We turned off of the main road, down a dirt driveway to the middle of an open field where a modest and traditional shade structure. We met Littlefinger there, and all sat down amongst the various benches and former car seats scattered under the shade. It was a hot day, but in the shade, by the water, with a constant slow breeze, it was cool and peaceful. Leonard began by making sure we all knew about the Massacre of Wounded Knee, which happened about 20 miles from where we were.

The Massacre of Wounded Knee, recognized by the US Gov't as the "Battle" of Wounded Knee until the 1980's, occurred on December 29, 1890. A group of 250 Sioux women and children, plus about 100 warriors, had finally turned themselves into the U.S. Calvary and were being transported onto their new land, after the government took away more of their reservation land. That night, (now, there is some speculation on what actually happened, so I will be telling from what I heard on the reservation, as it is the best anyone can figure) as they were setting up camp, the Sioux were in the valley, and the Calvary was keeping watch from an encampment atop the hill-- where they had four Hotchkiss guns aimed at the camp below. All of the weapons were collected and heaped in a stock pile. As a few soldiers were doing a final round of checks, one weapon fell from the pile and discharged on its own. At that, the soldiers opened fire from the hill on the innocent women and children below and unarmed men.

Leonard Littlefinger's grandfather and great great grandfather-- Chief Big Foot, leader of the Lakota-- were there. Chief Big Foot was killed in the massacre, and his grandfather, at about 12 years old, survived. In fact, most of the survivors were young boys. In the negative temperatures, they were the only ones that stood any chance of escape. Their mothers told them to run, keep running, through the night, as far as they possibly could. His grandfather had been shot in the leg and ankle, and yet he ran through the frigid night and hid, by himself, for the next year and a half in a valley twenty miles away, constantly moving to avoid the U.S. troops who were looking for survivors.

His grandfather eventually settled on the land we were sitting on, listening to Leonard tell us this. He raised his family there, and its where Leonard was raised. It is still his land. The story of Wounded Knee likely makes you mad, it should infuriate you, ignite a righteous passion for justice. And yet the real power of this story is one of healing. Leonard and his family have grown up with the understanding that the country they live in tried to kill them-- this country of freedom and democracy. Leonard remembers fishing with his grandfather, and looking at the scars on his leg from Wounded Knee. And yet, he strongly believes in a statement his grandfather said to him, which he shared with us:

The bloody waters will always run crystal clear again.

This statement from a man who still feels in his family and his community the pain and loss of the Massacre. From a man who lives on a reservation with 85% alcoholism, and 85% unemployment. A community stricken with gang violence. A people with a life expectancy about 20 years less than the national average, and an infant mortality rate twice the national average. 69% of children that do survive live below the poverty line. (Statistics from Red Cloud Indian School)

If this man has no time for cynicism, then nobody does.

So in closing, I invite you to do what Leonard Littlefinger told us to do: Take what's beautiful of cultures you experience and incorporate them into your own life. And trust that the bloody waters will always run crystal clear again.

Mitakuye Oyasin

AS a SIDE NOTE: Leonard Littlefinger also played an NPR show for us that day which he had recorded a few years ago about the repatriation of a lock of his great great grandfather's, Chief Big Foot, hair which was taken after he was killed at Wounded Knee. Please take some time to the listen to the story, it can much more eloquently portray the events than I, and gives a wonderful insight into Lakota culture. Find the story at this link:

Friday, February 19, 2010

Love these two men...

Photo Credits: Pete Souza

A great shot of two of my favorite men-- Bob Dylan and President Obama-- shaking hands at the White House celebration of Music of Civil Rights Movement.

I've had the great privilege of seeing both of them, and its remarkable to have them in the same place. Its also nice to find Dylan doing something other than his never-ending tour. Both of these men have had a significant impact on my life, and this photo really struck me.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Jonathan Richman

Last minute google search for music in Brooklyn on a Saturday night brought up a long list... and when you dropped out all the hits over 20 bucks a pop, it had very few names I recognized. After checking out a few myspace pages, I thought Jonathan Richman looked like a good find. Hopped on the B62 to Williamsburg and walked in just in time for the show to start.

An eccentric Jonathan walked out onto an almost empty stage (save for a microphone and drum set), guitar case in hand, with his overly subdued drummer. He popped out his classical guitar, the drummer took his seat and they rolled right into an hour+ set of comedic, philosophical, and sentimental songs. He was able to milk out a wide range of styles-- rockabilly, flamenco, folk-- with the considerably limited ensemble of instruments and also made up a few highly entertaining songs on the spot. He's got a great on-stage character, equal parts aloof, funny man, and thinker, while being incredibly in tune with the audience.

Overall a great show, though the highlight had to be listening to his song "Dancing in a Lesbian Bar" while I found myself dancing next to a few lesbians...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

snow day

A day off from classes: Massive snowball fight on the quad, girls in their underwear running through the snow, and the architecture majors couped up in studio all day.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The little things...

At 2PM Tuesday afternoon, a stroke of good fortune came my way via a text message, which informed me that classes had been cancelled for Wednesday on account of a snow storm. I was working in studio then, and soon realized that I had a bit of extra time on my hands. After a quick calculation of available work time before a Thursday review, I cleared out of studio, grabbed my sketchbook, and took the metro up to the New York Public Library (42nd St & 5th Ave). I've been trying to find an opportunity to go there, and the opportunity found me.

[For those in NYC, the F and the 7 both drop you off directly outside of the library-- super convenient for a quick trip]

I took a little time to explore the Neo-Classical building, and situated myself in a nice corner of the massive reading room. I soaked in the space around me and began sketching. Its a wonderful place to read, study, sketch, relax... and very quiet, despite the fact that it was nearly full to capacity. Its kind of interesting being in a space like that; it goes against your intuition-- a room full of people, but its silent. Which reminds me of an exhibit I saw at the Philadelphia Museum of Art's Perelmen Building, Bruce Nauman's "Days and Giorni." Installed in long, narrow gallery with windows on both sides, you walk into a large empty room with the sound of people all around-- conversation surrounds you, yet you see no one. It was incredible to experience the effect sound has on space. (If anyone is in Philadelphia, this exhibit is still running and the Perelmen. It, along with Marcel Wanders: Daydreams, are both very much worth your while)

Arriving back on campus, I felt refreshed. I shared dinner with a friend, went to the gym for a quick workout, and went back to studio feeling more focused an energized than I have in a long time. And I probably was more productive than I would have been had I just stayed in studio all day. A lesson for all of us: a little randomness, and a little chance in your day is a good thing.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Moving Slow is the Way to Go

I understand that this is a topic the blogs go crazy over, and I'm coming into this a little late, but I'd like to say my piece on the Slow Movement-- particularly Slow Cities (Cittaslow, as it originated in Italy).

Here's the Slow Movement website's description of Slow Cities:

Firstly, I have to say that my overall reaction is that the Slow Movement in general just seems to make good sense. In this increasingly globalized world, broad solutions seem less and less effective. Localized answers to problems based on good sense, and consideration not only for the immediate area but for the world at large, simply makes sense to me. So I'm not going to use this post to make a pitch for the Slow Movement, or slow cities, other than to say I think its ashame that only one town in the U.S. has qualified as a "slow city,"-- Sonoma Valley, CA.

What interests me, however, is the meshing of ideas-- a criss-crossing of old and new, big and small. The globalized 21st century using its clout to try and reverse the effects of globalization. I find it ironic-- yet somehow I like-- that the principles of the global organization suggest a return to traditional and local ways of living, while the organization enforces these principles with all of the tools of the 21st century.

Theres plenty of things that could make you worry about the future... but I don't like doing that much. If this is the kind of thing that the future could provide, then I'm excited about what's to come.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

An Introduction

I am a student of architecture at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. But don't expect this to be an architecture blog. I'm a musician as well, but this won't be a music blog either. This will be a collection of things that interest me-- in architecture, music, writing... the world around me.

Expect a lot of links at first. Then maybe I'll start doing some writing, some rambling. We'll see where it goes. Lets have fun with this. I want this to be a collection of inspiring things-- a kind of digital sketch book. If you're interested, come along. If you think I'd be interested in something else, let me know.

Room with a View

Who knew garage doors could be so cool?