Manhattan Morning: A Sound Postcard from Home to Myself

My iPhone is filled with voice memos taken over the years. They are not what one could consider typical voice memos with shopping lists or meeting reminders, they are audio captures of moments in my day that I found, somehow, fascinating. I didn’t do anything with them just had them there; a time capsule about nothing for nobody. Life occurring.

Radio, always a love of mine and a passion I never pursued for reasons I have yet to understand, is on the rise in my life and today, on vacation, with the rain pouring down sending all of us inside I had the inspiration to download a trial version of Hindenburg and apply my hand at editing together a short audio piece.

So here it is, two-minutes about waking up at home on an early fall morning in 2015. It’s about cultivating an awareness of the space I am in. It’s a postcard from home to myself.

Music: Intome Gesamt by Peter Michael von der Nahmer

Northern Exposure

God Bless You and Your Family Have a Wonderful Day

“God bless you and your family; have a wonderful day.”

The mantra was part of him now. He’d said it hundreds of times daily for how long, he couldn’t tell you. Pan-handling in front of Pike Place Market was the most proficient career choice for Edmund. He set his own hours, enjoyed the fresh sea air coming in off the bay and had the opportunity to interact with a wide variety of interesting people who crossed his path as he blessed their comings and goings.

The streets of Seattle were Edmund’s ministry; his place where God resonated most powerfully. Whomever you believed your God was, is or would come to be, he was there to speak to you about that!

“How many people out there break the cardinal rule of judgement? Did you know that is a cardinal rule you shouldn’t break? Unless, of course, you’re God. Then, of course, you can break that judgement, right?”

It was in these moments that angels descended and danced around him while birds chirped and thunder hailed the truths emerging from his lips and heart in the middle of the market on a Monday morning. He would ask you for money, bless you anyway and go forth in life breathing, being, and watching you walk by trying to pretend you didn’t see him.

“Is there something that all of you expect me to do?” Edmund would ask “ ‘cause I’m not sure what it is. God bless you and your family; have a wonderful day.”

People flowed around him like water, diverging them as if he’d put his staff down and parted the ocean of humanity that surged ahead, bent on consumption like a swarm of locusts. Every once in a while a person would be caught up in an Edmund eddy and swirl about him as he caught them in his kind gaze, enraptured by his radical acceptance of who and what they were; thin, fat, rich, not-so-rich…and so it went day in day out for time eternal.

Edmond pressed on this day with his teachings and pan-handling, taking the souls passing him by as simply part of the whole process when a woman – middle aged, plump and unremarkable – approached him, caught in his vortex.

“Excuse me ma’am, do you have a dollar you can spare. If not that’s ok God bless you and your family and have a wonderful day.” His smile was full and kind on his face and then she took out a twenty dollar bill; clean, crisp and green as a verdant garden. She held it out to Edmond and smiled back at him. For a moment they looked at one another as though life-long friends. He took her money with gratitude equaling the generous act in which it had been given. Their heads bowed together in what first appeared as prayer, or was it a secret incantation of healing? Their voices spoke softly such that no one around could hear them any longer; hushed tones pulling you in closer in a market full of chaotic enterprise. Silent they stood, smiles lingering upon their lips. She wordlessly whispered her secrets to him and he took her confessional into his strong, street savvy arms, removing the pain she’d been carrying for far too long. For the exchange of a $20 he had released a lifetime of her anguish and she hugged him, joy oozing out between their embrace. From the corner where I stood witnessing the whole exchange it appeared that she’d given up something huge, that he’d absorbed a massive tumor of her grief. A bird chirped in the distance, the woman’s countenance expanded. Her face lit up in a radiant glow and all within a breath of a moment caught in your chest, she was a wholly remarkable woman in her full beauty and strength of being.

Edmond, the pan-handling preacher of Pike Place, raised his arms in an act of sanctification.

“Holy Mother of whatever God you choose to believe in…heal this sister of salvation and forgive her every iniquity in this world filled with thieves and liars. She is an innocent among the guilty, a survivor among the fallen, a triumphant warrior standing in the face of every obstacle. Bless her and be blessed BY her!”

The pair fell to their knees weeping for all the hurt in the world. Traffic stopped, people paid attention, birds began their incantation to heaven, lifting them up in a thunderstorm of emotion. Cascadia rose and fell shattering the earth then leaving it to settle into its new pattern on the shaken surface while underneath tectonic plates continued slowly colliding. Awareness reset itself. Truth prevailed once more over bull-shit reasonings of an unremarkable life, forcing back relentlessly absurd ways of being. Social norms folded back in on themselves, lost no more, appropriately sourced within the center of her authentic sense of self.

The woman rose from the ground, brushed the dirt from her skirt, adjusted her bra and walked on confidently. Edmond stood in the place he always stood watching the people he always watched when his eyes fell upon me.

The ground I stood upon was not the same as it was half-a-breath ago.

MMN ‘17

  • Music in this audio piece is composed by Peter Michael von der Nahmerperformed by musicians and singers from the Aspen Music Festival – audio capture from the corner of Pike and First in Downtown Seattle June 19, 2017. All permissions cleared including this picture I took of “Edmond” – he was cool with it.

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Author’s note: Waiting to catch the Light Rail to the Seattle airport I had time to spare and enjoy the last bits of my long weekend on the West coast when I heard this guy doing his thing on this corner. There was, indeed, a woman who came up to him, gave him money, talked with him for a while, and hugged him repeatedly. This interaction fascinated me as he looked so tough and she looked so unlikely to be hugging a homeless guy on the street so I riffed on the scene I had just witnessed and came up with this story. With a four-hour delay at the airport I set Mike’s music, Angel’s (parts 1-2), to my audio capture using the Hokusi audio editing ap in my phone.  MMN

When Falling…Dive | A VideOpera

Gretchen, out on a bender, posts a Tweet-to-regret. She ends the night passed out in bed and the next morning, as her alarm clock wakes her from disturbing liquor-soaked dreams, she sees her phone melting with alerts. The Twitterverse has found it’s next meal and Gretchen watches as everything she values about herself is systematically and instantaneously dismantled before her eyes.

This is the premise of my recent work, a VideOpera entitled When Falling…Dive. In collaboration with composer, Peter Michael von der Nahmer, we are working to finish this short opera created specifically for video. We are launching an Indegogo campaign to raise the funds to produce this VideOpera ourselves.

Check out our Indegogo promo video, follow the link to our crowdfunding page and join the movement to support this project.

Life is Short | Make Opera

Thanks for reading

MMN

When Falling…Dive | A VideOpera

My silence over the last few months is an indication of how intensively I’ve been working on developing my librettist muscle. It’s been a mind-blowingly productive and creative time; I’m just getting started!

Currently I am working with composer, Peter Michael von der Nahmer on a VideOpera (it’s exactly what it sounds like, an opera created for video) about a woman and her tortured relationship with Twitter.

We are producing this ourselves and are about to launch a crowdfunding campaign to raise some money so we can cover the cost of production and pay our artists. If you want to learn more about this cool little project and would like to be added to our mailing list, use the link below to take you to our sign-up page. This will add you to our list so we can share campaign launch information and updates with you.


This is an inspiring project and many people are starting to get as excited about it as we are. Join the movement and follow the link below to join our mailing list!

Sign up and, please, share this with your friends and family.

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Thank you! MMN & PMvdN 

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/when-falling-dive-a-videopera-video-opera/coming_soon