Yesterday was wondrous. The weather is warming and I can finally step out on my balcony without the ominous suspicion that cold air may greet me again. When the clock strikes four, the balcony door opens and I allow the crowning, honeyed sunlight to blanket the wooden floors of the living room. Late afternoon sun, I am convinced, is a serious gift of science.
So, now it is clearer why yesterday might have been so wondrous. I had it in my head that I wanted to make handmade ravioli (see here). I called up my friend Hashmita and we set out on the bustling Boulevard St-Laurent to find ingredients.
First stop: La Vieille Europe. For the ravioli, I had peaches, basil and toasted hazelnuts in my mind. Inside the store, my single goal was to find some fresh ricotta and goat cheese, then get the hell out before I spent my entire month’s budget on pepper-and-chive wafers and cranberry-strawberry-violet preserves. You may be wondering, ‘Chris, how did you ever manage to get out of there intact?’ Well, as I left the store, arms stuffed with fresh cheese (I would love to tell you that it was just goat and ricotta), crackers and preserves, I will answer you this: no one is safe in that store. I beg anyone to walk by the shelves of fresh pasta, imported chocolates, roasted coffee grinds and olive oils—if you can get out of there without taking at least one item with you, then we can talk.
So, we exit the store back onto St-Laurent and pop into our local epicerie (which, though always odd smelling, has the most obscure and wonderful things). Obscure and wonderful things include spicy ginger chews and Spanish lavender plants (which I bought without hesitation), along with a perky-leafed basil plant. Hashmita carried the lavender, I grabbed the basil, and we walked back to my apartment, noses subtly (or perhaps not so much) hovering over the leaves.
Back at the apartment, as per usual after an extensive shopping trip, Nicolas (my lovely boyfriend), Hashmita and I cracked open the goods and had a mini-feast. Nothing beats good sun and good food and good friends.
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Today’s music review
Andrew Bird, in my mind, is a true genius, a true musician. For years, his commanding competence on the violin, accompanied by a billowing voice and harmonious whistles, have kept me coming back to his steadfastly intricate albums (wordy, yes, but it really is that good).
Because this album is a thoughtfully-assembled composition, I feel it should be taken in as intended – as a whole. None of this skipping from #1 to #8 then back to #5. Just take a well-deserved hour to sit, and to let Bird take you somewhere truly divine. The frenzied sweeps of violin in “Desperation Breeds ∑” and the playful Bird-esque rhythm of “Near Death Experience Experience” are some of the highlights for me on this album.
Listen to “Desperation Breeds ∑” here.
Those familiar with Bird’s music may recognize parallels with some of his earlier albums. A noteworthy example is “Hole in the Ocean Floor”, when Bird utilizes the lengthy span of the song to construct an anticipating composition that comes to a culmination reminiscent of “Yawny At the Apocalypse” from Armchair Apocrypha.
Listen to “Hole in the Ocean Floor” here.
Some artists who have been creating music for a while have an unfortunate tendency to run dry, their music becoming shriveled and cursory. After 16 years of solid music making, Bird somehow manages to keep surprising me.
So, conclusive advice to you: Grab a couple of friends, some delicious snacks, a great album, and take a break.