M.’s Blog

Greetings from Auckland, New Zealand

December 11, 2010 :: Tags: , , , :: Comment

I have been in Auckland for a few weeks now. I will be posting some pictures soon. Love the people here. New Zealanders are some of the most open, approachable and sweetest people I have ever met in my life. I love their accents, and their sense of humor. Many times I catch myself not listening to what they say, but listening to their accents instead.

Auckland is a beautiful city. A bit spread, so despite being much bigger (size, and population) than San Francisco, it feels half as populated.

Cafe culture is great here. People seem to get out of their beds early, go to cafes, and have great coffee/breakfast. Easy to talk to the people sitting next to you. They are willing to tell you all about their city and country, helping you out with suggestions and directions.

At this point my favorite area in Auckland is Ponsonby, a Bohemian area, kinda up and coming, similar to where we live in Chicago, a bit like Berlin. As soon as I arrived in Auckland, took my shower, hired a cab to take me to this great cafe in Ponsonby, called Dizongoff. I have been a regular ever since.

I love New Zealand cheese. So delicious. Have also had some good New Zealand wines. I’ll be missing SORA’s birthday again but will be back home in time to celebrate Christmas with Nami and SORA. As always, a phone call or email away from my good friends.

SORA and Senator Dick Durbin

September 26, 2010 :: Tags: , , , :: Comment

What a delight. By total coincidence SORA and I were at a Cafe were Senator Dick Durbin was holding a press conference. I had a question to ask, as always leading to a follow up discussion. My main question was regarding the economy. I wanted to know how the senator rated the success/performance of Obama administration’s stimulus plan. He gave it a 5. I said “WOW, I would have given it a 2 or  3.” But his explanation was good and I appreciated that.

We even talked about another country. I wish I had used a bit more polite word in talking about the president of that country.

I thanked the senator and sat at a table with SORA.

Lo’and behold, Senator Durbin asked me if he and his wife, Loretta could sit with us. We were together for 45 minutes. I still had a lot of questions that I forgot to ask! He and his wife were two of the most humble, down to earth people I have ever met in my life. It was almost like being in a flight and making a conversation with the person sitting next to you.

Senator Durbin is an intelligent, knowledgeable gentleman, even if one disagrees with him politically. He can talk about many subjects and trends, and links them together. He reminded me of a boss / friend I have who used to be a Harvard Business School professor. In fact, I wrote to my friend about the senator that evening. My friend thanked me, and said he is a fan of Senator Durbin.

SORA was also very interested despite initially being shy about it. Later on he asked me questions about the Senator, our President, etc. I was happy to have such a conversation with him in particular since last week I drove him to South Chicago to show him President Obama’s neighborhood (easier to get in the White House than to the beginning of that block!)

Absolutely made our day. I can not thank the Senator and Loretta enough for their time and generosity.

Berlin Visit

May 10, 2010 :: Tags: , :: 2 Comments

I love Berlin. There is so much good music here, and so much interesting cultural activities. Arrived in Berlin last night, hit the ground running after a good shower. Today, went to the “Eastern” part of the town close to where the wall used to be.

Sundays are great in this part of Berlin. Lazy breakfasts/brunches, and flea markets where I was lucky enough to find some very good records. Fortunately it was a sunny and beautiful day, turned out to be the only sunny and beautiful day in the last couple of weeks. I walked for a few hours and as always managed to sniff my way to some record shops and flea markets. There were a few nice stands with records at the flea markets. Some of the records are pretty expensive (40 euros or more). By the time I got to these two gentlemen, I barely had enough euro left for a cab ride back to the hotel. They were kind enough to accept dollar bills from me, hence their pictures here. Between these stands and other shops, again I am in need of yet one more suitcase.

I enjoy the music of Holger Czuaky (formerly of CAN) very much. I am glad I found two records, one a rare one with Holger Czukay on it. I found out about a very good record shop in Berlin. I will be visiting there as I want Holger Czukay’s first solo performance after parting from CAN, called Persian Love! It has some very good sampling and use of short wave radio reception.

I was hoping to see Nina Hagen perform. Unfortunately she has a concert/poetry reading (a la Nina Hagen I am sure) on Wednesday night, a few hours after I am supposed to fly back to Chicago.

There are also a couple of restaurants I would like to try. One, Fischers Fritz and is known to have the best sea food in Berlin and has two Michelin stars; the other, Borchardt restaurant is supposed to be more traditional and has been a Berlin establishment/hallmark. Will soon post some pictures. Stay tuned.

Munich, Germany

May 9, 2010 :: Tags: , :: Comment

Also check out the Munich Hi-End show “report.”

Just To Be For Sure, For Sure

April 27, 2010 :: Tags: , , , , , :: 12 Comments

In my excitement to share good music with friends and customers, at times I give a favorite CD or LP as a gift, just to find out they are out of print and impossible to get back in my collection. It has happened once too often.

A few months ago when I gave a copy of Kazue Sawai CD to a customer who had come to audition Musical Affairs speakers. The sound is so real. You hear Ms. Sawai play in your music room. You hear everything. So beautiful. I am willing to cough up a couple of hundred dollars to get back that CD.

Another CD I really like is by Tamia and Pierre Favre, called “de la nuit… le jour” on ECM New Series. Hard to find. I have seen their new CDs on Amazon go anywhere from thirty some dollars to around $130. Lucky me. Just found a good source for them and ordered 12 copies of them! Received today from Germany.

Holderlin was a great German poet. I have read a little of his works. Not much. I was introduced to his work through a Wim Wenders’ movie called Wings of Desire. In it, Bruno Ganz recites some Holderlin poem. Beautiful even to the ears of someone like me who does not speak German. Found out there is actually a recording of Holderlin poetry recited by Bruno Ganz. Lucky me. Took a few months until I could locate one. And a while longer to find the LP version. Now, a couple of more copies, just in case.

Arvo Part is a very good composer. His Miserere and Tabula Rasa are still two of my favorite works. Both out of print now. I got 12 copies of Miserere on LP and have a couple of copies on CD. I figure every now and then I can take them to friends as a gift instead of a bottle of wine. Well, a good bottle of wine while listening to great music is rather fun anyways. You can find a good interview with Arvo Part on YouTube, by none other Bjork.

Please help me find my Kazue Sawai CD.