Thursday, October 21, 2004

Delicious Evening

On Wednesday night, Deep Listening Space in Kingston, New York was the site of a delicious evening of animation, poetry and sound compositions by Upstate Pal and Dadu.

Upstate Pal, Dadu and family moved to that small city near the Catskills in 2002. For years, they'd talked about leaving Brooklyn, longing as they were for a house, a backyard and ample space in which to homeschool their children and engage in a wide range of creative endeavors. After September 11th, their desire to leave intensified and they decided that Kingston, which is only 100 miles from New York City, was where they needed to be.

On their very first "exploratory" trip to Kingston they found their dream house. Listed on the National Registry of Historic places, it's a grand old abode with enormous rooms and high ceilings. There are two staircases and a dining room large enough for a banquet. The house also has historical detail up the wazoo and an enormous stained glass window that at a certain times of day makes the foyer sparkle with color and light.

Who could blame them for leaving their 3-bedroom co-op in Prospect Heights for this voluptuous yellow house on a tree-lined street?

Well, Hepcat and Smartmom weren't exactly thrilled when their constant companions decided to up and leave the borough of Brooklyn. It was a huge adjustment for Hepcat, who has known Dadu since 1986 when they met in an Amiga Computer user's group and soon after became soul mates and techno/creative cohorts.

As for Smartmom, losing Upstate Pal was like losing a limb. The two were pregnant at the same time and gave birth five weeks apart. The early years of their friendship was a non-stop stroller hop from Music for Aardvarks to playgroups, Music Together, the Third Street Playground, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and beyond. They even started a discussion group for mothers called, Manifesto Moms, which was a safe space to kvetch about the travails of motherhood and postulate revolutionary reforms.

But great friendships survive with effort and love. Distance is no obstacle for those willing to do whatever it takes to stay in touch. Smartmom and Hepcat think nothing of driving up to Kingston for a fun weekend of inter-family togetherness, Sometimes, they spend hours standing at Dadu's grand player piano in the parlor, singing their favorite show tunes -- they do a mean version of "Fugue for Tin Horns" from "Guys and Dolls." E-mail and the telephone has also been instrumental in keeping the love alive.

Luckily, Upstate Pal, Dadu and family also make frequent trips downstate. They sleep in Smartmom and Hepcat's living room on borrowed Aero mattresses whenever they feel the need to catch up with old friends and grab some Brooklyn cultcha.

So as you can see, missing last night's event was out of the question. Even if it was a school night during the busiest Fall in memory.

For months now, Upstate Pal, a talented writer and visual artist, has been recording herself reading from various texts, including "Walden," "David Copperfield," and "Good Night Moon" at bedtime. On the cusp of sleep, she reads and dozes and finds herself unconsciously changing the text, adding words and phrases. Transcribing these tapes the next day, she is always surprised to hear what her unconscious mind has come up with. She then edits these transcriptions into poems, and creates what she calls Somniloquies.

Dadu, a cartoonist, musician, composer, animator and computer wizard, took these tapes and made them into sound pieces, some of which are the soundtrack for the three videos that the couple collaborated on. Dadu created these sublime animations using a program he invented called, Vapor Paint.

A crowd of close to 20 people, including two of Dadu's brothers and many new local friends gathered to sit on floor pillows. Nancy, with her short blonde hair, looked striking in a long black dress and a reddish-orange shawl. She stood at a candle-lit podium and read the somiliquies. What began as Good Night Moon, the bedtime classic, was unconsciously transformed into : "In the great green room there was a triumph of Oz, and a red balloon, and a picutre of -- There were several things there, How about the cow jumping under the moon? That'd be good, Or a sea cow?"

Dadu sat at a table in the back, looking fetching in turquoise Chinese pants made for him by his prcocious 7-year old. He controlled two computers (including his trusty old Amiga) and a video projector.

During the performance, Upstate Pal and Dadu were the picture of marital artistry. They reminded Smartom of couples like Charles and Ray Eames, Faith and John Hubley, John and Yoko, and Christo and Jeanne-Claude, heroes all and exemplars of art-making couples.

In the case of Upstate Pal and Dadu, it is a testament to their passion for each other that they are able to weave together their disparate and deeply complimentary sensibilities into a cohesive whole. Actually, it was downright romantic to see their creativity intertwined at the Deep Listening Space.

After the show, Smartmom and Hepcat went back to the big yellow house to pick up OSFO, who was a-quivver with fun after hours of play with her good old friends. She slept on the drive back, which was fast and traffic free. They listened to the now-historic Yankees and Red Sox game on the radio and were back in Brooklyn before one in the morning.


At 2:36 PM, Blogger Udge said...

"Somniloquies" - what an ultracool concept. Tell us more! (Better: get Upstate Pal onto Blogger and she can do it herself.)

You are so lucky to be living in such a culturally vibrant city (sorry for the cliché, it's late here). I salivate & shed tears of envy when reading the "what's on" section of the New Yorker. Not that Stuttgart is a desert, we do our modest best, but there's just no comparison for variety or quantity or (in the end) quality. We have an opera house, recently voted "European opera house of the year" for the fourth time in five years, but it doesn't hold a candle to the Met.


At 5:41 PM, Blogger Third Street said...

If you want to learn more about Delicious Evening, go to
Once there, click on About. At the bottom of that page, it will say,
"Vapor Paint was also used to create all of the animation in Delicious Evening, (2004) a short video presented at Deep Listening Space on October 20th 2004."
You will have the opportunity to view frames from the video that were based on the somniloguies.

The somniloquies: Upstate Pal started creating these incredible poems unconsciously by reading existing text into a tape recorder as she is getting ready to sleep. She gets into a hypnotic state and begins to substitute words and phrases creating "automatic poetry in the process.

I'll let her know that you're interested in seeing more.


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