A Week in the Life

So what do I do when I'm home in Salt Lake not living out of a suitcase? Sometimes I detoxify from the stress and intentionally do...not much. This was not one of those times. I leave town again on Wednesday, but in the meantime, in no particular or significant order...

New Music at the Rose

A friend of mine works for Utah Symphony & Opera and gets great deals on tickets and easy access to special events. She recently rounded up 17 eclectic lovers of the arts and we took over the entirety of Row L in the Jeanne Wagner Theatre at the Rose. It's an awesome night at the symphony when the program notes inform you that the evening is sponsored by SLUG Magazine and that all pieces performed are found in iTunes.

The guest conductor was Cliff Colnot from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and he did an amazing job navigating four very difficult, very avant garde pieces: Luis Tinoco Short Cuts (C), Leon Kirchner Music for 12, Arvo Part Fratres, and Augusta Read Thomas Terpsichore's Dream. It was the world premiere of Terpsichore's Dream and I loved having Augusta Read Thomas there to explain the piece, her inspiration, intention, and process. I like all four pieces, but particularly enjoyed Part's Fratres.

From the program notes, the piece is "...based on the repetition of an austere, hymn-like theme played above a continuous drone...inspired by the vision of a solemn procession of meditating monks wending their way by flickering candlelight along the ambulatory to the abbey's chapels, for another of the endless succession of services that regulated their monastic lives." One of the reasons I love this piece so much is because Gregorian chants rock my world and this piece is a very close instrumental interpretation of that art form. Should you decide to check out Fratres via iTunes, select the piece composed for eight cellos as the most haunting rendition.

Three Faces of an Enspirited Community

This half-day training event for community activists and organizers (and those with a very high threshold for new age hippie dippiness) focused on "the three faces of enspiritedness that help us create broader and deeper community: Connecting to others, communing with others, being aware of others." It was a completely experiential workshop, which means that not much was explained, but rather we participated in every practice we're meant to take back to our communities.

The yoga instructors who opened the workshop with a 40-minute vinyasa sat the rest of the day cross-legged in their chairs, participating in the other activities with deep breath and their eyes half closed. The man responsible for taking minutes did so by drawing pictures with smelly marks-a-lot pens, doodling and scribbling on huge post-it notes "symbols that will hold the meaning of our words." We all sat on the floor and allowed the facilitator to "speak to the voice of fear inside us" before we switched seating position and mindset and allowed the facilitator to "speak to the voice of trust inside us." We closed the afternoon with a Navajo talking circle. When asked to share sacred ceremonies from our own community, one woman told of the solstice that she and her friends collected water from each of their watersheds, mingled the collections, drank and gave thanks.

Quaker Peacekeeper training & Anti-war march/rally

There are many reasons why I march, protest, and rally in opposition (or in support) of a litany of social/political causes. Lately I've been feeling, however, that it's time I take it to the next level. I feel that anti-war actions, for instance, do make an impact, do build a critical mass, and do re-energize the people involved. But I also feel that if everyone involved would upgrade their actions even by a degree or two, we could turn the tide even faster.

With that intention I attended a Circle Dynamics training (hosted and facilitated by the Salt Lake Meeting of Friends (Quakers)) to become a Peacekeeper for the October 27th anti-war action. Rather than simply marching (not at all to diminish my gratitude for those that did march) I helped coordinate and facilitate a peaceful march and rally for fellow activists. A peacekeeping team from Boise, Idaho came down to join our Salt Lake team. In the process of the training and peacekeeping at the action, I met interesting, sincere, passionate people. A report filed by Wasatch Coalition for Peace & Justice (local organizers) to United for Peace & Justice (national organizers) said that: "...the Circle Dynamics Peacekeepers got widespread praise for a smoothly-flowing and enjoyable event." Hurray. I'm rejuvinated and recommitted. I will definitely serve as a Peacekeeper again.

Both major papers (Deseret News and Tribune) said about 1,000 people were at the rally and it was heartening to see on the fliers advertising the event: "National Day of Action: Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, New Orleans, Orlando, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Seattle." People have major misconceptions about Salt Lake and while it's no 30,000 in San Francisco, it's relatively impressive and I'm proud to have been a part of such a sizable protest in the reddest of the red states.

Eboo Patel lecture & book signing

The Utah Humanities Council hosts an annual book festival, bringing authors to Salt Lake for lectures, workshops, book signings, and other cultural events. With all the interfaith dialogue work I've done in the past couple years, Eboo Patel's lecture on his recent publication, "Acts of Faith: the story of an American Muslim, the struggle for the soul of a generation" was the perfect way to spend an evening.

The thesis of "Acts of Faith" is that our society (the whole planet, not just the United States) is polarizing into religious totalitarians and religious pluralists. By his definition, religious totalitarians believe that "only one interpretation of only one religion is a legitimate way of being, believing, and belonging on earth." Religious pluralists believe that regardless of creed, people must learn to live peacefully and respectfully in the same community. It is not mere coexistence nor is it forced consensus. It is proactive cooperation. For the benefit of those who would bristle at that notion, Eboo quickly points out that he didn't say religious pluralists necessarily believe the creeds of their neighbors or follow those creeds. You can hold your beliefs and if you are a pluralist, so can your neighbor.

Eboo put into such graceful words the sentiments that I've been stumbling over, many times in this blog, for years and years. The entire lecture was one huge ah-ha moment. It wasn't that the ideas are new to me, its that the words resonated perfectly. Finally. He gave me the language I've been searching for. I purchased the book, chatted with him as he signed it, and am about half way finished with it. I highly recommend reading it and I will, some time soon, compose ISBN ### posts about it. You can listen to his interview with Doug Fabrizio on Radiowest, if you're interested, or check out Eboo's blog.

Calvary Baptist Choir & Wintley Phipps

I have a special emotional space reserved for the reverent, quiet LDS hymns. But that having been said, I readily admit that this quiet music leads me, sometimes forces me, to seek out rockin' worship music elsewhere. My cousin is Born Again, works at a Christian bookstore, and makes great recommendations. I also know where to go locally for live worship music that rocks my socks. Included in the top three, to words: Calvary. Baptist.

The Calvary Baptist Choir is awesome in their own right, but this performance was extra super awesome because Wintley Phipps performed. Wow. What. A. Voice. I definitely want to track down some of his albums (or at least a few key songs). Wintley Phipps founded the US Dream Academy which mentors and tutors children of incarcerated parents. My friend is the director of the Salt Lake City US Dream Academy and it was also great to see her and support her fundraising event.

Anne of Green Gables at the Grand Theatre

I've had season tickets to the Grand for a few years now and as far as community theatre goes, it's professional and well done. The thing that stood out about Anne of Green Gables was how talented the young cast members are and furthermore, how ridiculously impressive their bios/resumes are. I don't even want to imagine the force that is the competitive soccer moms driving the success of these kids.

Snippets from various bios: sophomore at the Salt Lake School of Performing Arts, has sung and danced with the Radio Disney performing team, performed with Ballet West, studied with Tim Santos in Santa Fe with the Broadway Theater Dance Workshop...all accolades alongside such statements as: "...would like to thank his mom and dad for driving him to practices and his choreographers for all their support."

Laurel Thatcher Ulrich lecture

Well-behaved women seldom make history. Those words, so deeply entrenched in popular culture, were penned by Harvard University Historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich in a scholarly article published 1976. In 1996 the phrase exploded onto bumper stickers, tote bags, t-shirts, and coffee mugs. Ulrich was at the UHC Book Festival and I attended her lecture with high hopes for uplifting radical propaganda. Rather, I found a rather non-descript historian.

The lecture wasn't bad, by any means, it was fine. But that's it. It was just fine. Ulrich made some interesting points though. She said that her recent book, for which she is now on a speaking tour, "attempts to complicate the definition of 'well-behaved' and attempts to dialogue about what it means to make history." She also shared a fascinating bit of trivia: the feminist text "City of Ladies" was first printed in English in 1571 and not until 1981 was it republished in English - when there was finally a long-overdue popular and an academic demand for women's history.

My favorite take-home nugget: How do you talk back to books? How do you talk back to history? History is alive, dynamic, and a living conversation. Right on. You probably don't need my mother to tell you that I've been known to talk back.

The 8th Annual H&K Halloween Bash

Marie Antionette, Carrie, a dominatrix, pirates, Ricky Bobby, Little Bo Peep, a diner waitress, Frida Kahlo, Napoleon Dynamite, Evil Knievel, and so much more. Welcome to the party. An otherwise somewhat professional group of 30-somethings gathered at our friend's recently purchased/remodeled bar, The Woodshed, to celebrate, eat, dance, and enjoy each other's creative costumes.

To be a scribe in a scriptorium

Pop Quiz, re: Cute Artsy Guy