Not to contradict the Gershwin brother’s beautiful music in Porgy and Bess, but while it is now officially summertime, the living sure doesn’t feel easy. It has been another week of political conflict, of accusations of illegal police violence, and of rising cases of coronavirus. Here in North Carolina, based on the continuing increase of Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, the Governor put a delay on any further reopening activities and mandated a state-wide practice of requiring face masks of everyone in public spaces. His order sparked protests and declarations from some area sheriffs that they wouldn’t enforce the law and just more conflict in general.
Personally, I think the best thing to do is just to stay home and chill out using healthier techniques than consuming excessive alcohol (alcohol sales have surged throughout the country since the onset of coronavirus).
Here are a few suggestions. I’m going to start with two that I am committed to doing this weekend.
First off, what better way to deal with all the stress and conflict and discouraging news than to meditate? And luckily for us, Deepak Chopra has released another FREE 21 Day Meditation Program. This one is different because instead of Oprah, his co-host is J Balvin, who is a popular Columbian reggaeton singer with multiple Latin Music Grammy awards and musical collaborations with some of the US biggest new stars. Being a “mature” person who is totally out of the current music scene, I had never heard of him and didn’t know what reggaeton even was, but the more I read about him and watched a few of his videos, the more he seems like a really cool, positive, and artistic guy. So great–a new, younger Latinx addition to my meditation practice! And what is also special about this series is that it is the first one to be available in Spanish as well as in English. I think it is fantastic that the Chopra Center is trying to reach out to different populations than just “yoga moms” like me!
This series is called Renew Yourself: Body, Mind, and Spirit, and seeks to calm your thoughts, unleash your body’s ability to take care of and heal itself, and to uplift your spirits. I’ve only listened to the first one, but it really set a positive tone for my day. If you want to check it out, you can register to receive daily emails for that day’s meditation at: https://chopracentermeditation.com
Some of the music that I like relaxes me almost as much as doing meditation. One of those is Japanese guitarist Hiroya Tsukamoto, a unique independent artist living in New York who, up until coronavirus-time, toured around the country, including the Triangle area. He has a really cool history. He grew up outside Kyoto, Japan, and when he was young, someone gave him a banjo. Of course, there was no one around there who played the banjo, so he ended up teaching himself using the Internet. Eventually he picked up the guitar as well and was talented enough to get a scholarship to attend Berklee School of Music in Boston, MA, which is the PREMIER college for jazz music in the country, if not the world. He met his wife and many colloborators there, and ended up staying in the US for the musical inspiration he found in this country.
The pandemic has been devastating for musicians like him, since all live performances EVERYWHERE have been cancelled, and that was his primary source of income. However, this Saturday night at 8 PM Eastern Time, he will be doing a live streaming concert over YouTube. It is free, but, of course, he would be grateful for any contributions people are willing to make to support him, his wife, and their two small children.
To watch his concert tomorrow night, go to:
His YouTube link at https://youtu.be/5Gk3LIWidYU OR
His Facebook event page at https://www.facebook.com/events/466193520910339/
You can donate to him via his tip jars as:
Here are a couple of previews if you want to check out his music. The first piece is new work by his wife for their collaboration with another couple with young children they became friends with at Berklee:
The second is one of his solo songs with the inspiring title, “Another Great Day to Be Alive:”
If you’ve read these posts before, you know that I’m also a great enthusiast of Broadway musicals. Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s YouTube channel, TheShowsMustGoOn, is continuing its practice of offering a free on-demand viewing of a musical performance from 2:00 PM Friday until 2:00 PM Sunday. This weekend’s show is Carrie Underwood’s performance in The Sound of Music. I’ve never particularly liked that musical, but if you do, check it out at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F96i5dcFhZA .
Instead of that, maybe tonight I will watch the Lincoln Center’s free weekend musical (their free schedule is from Thursday, June 25 at 8:00 PM Eastern Time through Saturday, June 27 at 8:00 PM Eastern Time). This week they are showing the musical Falsettos, which I don’t know at all, but here is Wikipedia’s description of it:
The story centers on Marvin, who has left his wife to be with a male lover, Whizzer, and struggles to keep his family together. Much of the first act explores the impact his relationship with Whizzer has had on his family. The second act explores family dynamics that evolve as he and his wife plan his son’s Bar Mitzvah. Central to the musical are the themes of Jewish identity, gender roles, and gay life in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Sounds like a perfect musical for the final Friday in Gay Pride Month!
Here is what the Lincoln Center website says about this particular production:
Directed for the stage by James Lapine, Falsettos centers on the lives of an eclectic, modern family in a hilarious and poignant story of love in its many facets. The production stars Christian Borle, Stephanie J. Block, Andrew Rannells, and Brandon Uranowitz, all of whom received Tony Award nominations for their respective performances. Anthony Rosenthal, Tracie Thoms, and Betsy Wolfe round out the talented cast. The production was filmed live at the Walter Kerr Theatre in January 2017 for Live From Lincoln Center.
It certainly sounds like an all-star cast, plus James Lapine has a special place in my heart because he wrote the book and was the original director for what is probably my most favorite Stephen Sondheim musical, Into the Woods. So that’s probably how I will spend my Friday evening. If you want to join me (virtually), go to: https://www.broadwayhd.com/movies/AXKjesRYWvvVnCQNlP0a.
The Lincoln Center At Home has a ton of other free programs this weekend, including jazz, opera, Mozart, children’s shows, so if you are looking for something besides Broadway, see their other offerings at: http://lincolncenter.org/lincoln-center-at-home.
Or maybe you are into some more escapist fare–you need some ACTION! What could take your mind off of worrying about catching COVID-19? How about being chased by a veloceraptor? The film critics at the New York Times think that’s just the ticket for some movie watching fun, so they are hosting a virtual watching party for the original 1993 blockbuster Jurassic Park. They invite you to rent or download or rewatch the movie on your old, then come to the online discussion page to report your reactions. It was quite a movie phenomenon at its time, but how has it held up? For more information, or to post your comments, go to: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/25/movies/jurassic-park.html.
So whether your fancy tends towards soulful, reflective guitar playing or a Spielberg spectacular, they are plenty of ways to unwind at home this weekend. I’m going to end with a final video that combines two of our Western culture’s most iconic groups and reminds us of what we can always count on when things start looking too depressing…