Monday, January 22, 2007

Bright Sides

So I’ve been getting a lot of emails lately from lovely people afraid I am suffering from “heimweh" (Goheen tells me this means homesickness.) But actually we’ve been having a lot of fun.

--My darling Barmaljovans debuted my first-ever original lyrics (to a gorgeous instrumental by Ljova) at Joe’s Pub! You can hear the version with Ljova’s intro to the song here and the intro-less version here. Also, check out the review of their show, and the photographic proof that Inna and Ljova have indeed run back to NYC.

Hungary’s loss is your gain. Check out Ljova's myspace page and go without fail to his next gig. You have not lived until you’ve seen Inna and Ljova live. Here's a youtube clip of the three of us jamming in the basement of Sirály.

--Before Barmaljova flew the coop, they threw a going-away party which climaxed in an incredible three-fiddle jam. Ljova wrecked shop on his viola, Inna radiated song, Yonathan laid down fluid accompaniment, and a cat named Zoltan Lantos melted his borrowed fiddle like it was a plastic sax and he was Charlie Parker. Last night we heard him play in a duo at Sirály, and once again he blew our minds with his sick fiddle skills. Zoltan spent 10 years in India studying Indian music, and you can really it in his music. His phrasing reminds me of my first really serious jazz violin teacher, David Balakrishnan of Turtle Island String Quartet. When I started with David I was so new to jazz that I associated his sound with bebop—but last night I finally realized “THAT’S the secret ingrediant in David B.'s's an Indian inflection!” David Balakrishnan and Zoltan share a clean, precise yet complex bowing style that I absolutely covet.

Zoltan has this incredible prototype Indian fiddle, with five strings and sympathetic strings (strings tuned to a certain pitch which are not played, but resonate in “sympathy” with regular strings when a true pitch is hit). The fiddle is actually Spanish, not Indian; it was created by a crazy wealthy hippie Spanish hobbyist obsessed with fusing western and eastern instruments. I meant to take a picture of Zoltan and his incredible fiddle but I forgot my camera. So I drew a picture for you.

--My quest to learn about Hungarian culture continues. This week I visited Budapest’s ethnographic museum (News Flash: Hungarian Nativity Play includes Devil Character. More at 11.) Rick and I also visited the amazing history museum with our young friend Peter. After staggering through 1000+ years of Magyar history we had a long post-museum roundtable covering Las Vegas, Tiki Bars, the Revolutions of 1848, Hungarian Literature, and American vs. Hungarian senses of humor. Peter found dead baby jokes funny, and agreed that blondes are stupid, but did not understand lightbulb jokes. In a moment of misguided optimism we made him watch Stephen Colbert’s address to the white house press corps. We averaged three minutes of explanation to one minute of joke. Peter gamely kept trying to understand and we gamely kept trying to explain the humor, but I felt like I was writing a masters’ thesis.

In other humor news, Rick, who has an even harder time with Hungarian than I do, made his first Hungarian pun. This is a big deal since the Hungarian love for punning rivals my Uncle Jimbo's. The Hungarian word for “Cheers” is “Egészégedre.” We were discussing West Coast hip-hop while wine shopping at the 24 hour deli, and Rick observed that if Dr. Dre came to Hungary, and you were drinking with him, you could slap his back and say “Egészege, …DRE!” I didn’t know whether to be encouraged or appalled. I decided on encouraged.

Last but not least, have you seen the Hungarian hip-hop cops? No? They still haven't been caught. My youtube account will still not let me post video, so click here. You're welcome.


Garth said...

You've mentioned the devil in your last two posts. Lately the evocative expression "He needs a long spoon who sups with the Devil" has been rolling around in my brain (I'm sure there's a punny Halloween costume there somewhere), and then last night I had a dream that Satan invited me and some friends to a dinner party. Seth was smothering himself in garlic-infused olive oil to protect himself. I borrowed some from him, though I was skeptical about whether garlic only works against vampires. Anyway, we brought our own food with us, and when we got there, there was a big table, but no Satan, so the whole group of us sat down and started eating without waiting for our host. When he showed up, and found that we'd already eaten (and made a big mess while we were at it), he was offended.

MelissaMajestic said...

This is totally unrelated but have you ever seen this link?

barmaljova said...

thanks for the shout-out :)
your lyrics felt just right in that room, and i felt like i was wrapping them around the audience with a honey-nutty spoon (ljova & i argued quite extensively on whether the girl in the song is going meshugene or it's just a sweet love song.... the jury is still out :)

the video came out pretty good, too, btw, we'll post it soon.

rick said...

To be fair, my Hungarian pun is still only a *potential* pun—only to be brought to life when I am actually sharing an apertif with Dr. Dre somewhere in Budapest.

I'm not holding my breath.

Kj said...

Ganch! @ Joe's Pub. Beautiful song. That's a pretty sweet lyricist's debut, I must say.
About dreams about Satan, I had this really odd dream with Jean Claude Van Damme in it the other night, where we were in the same martial arts class and I knew it was my job to encourage him because he was really embarrased about how his career turned out. The next day i mentioned the dream to someone and they reminded me that he'd been convicted or accused of beating his wife and children or something approximately that heinous. So it wasn't a "cooking for Satan" dream, but the annecdote seemed relevant. Mostly, I'm wondering how Jean Claude Van Damme made it into my subconcious...