Throwing it back to one of my favorite projects I’ve worked on with Bob Rabbit. A live studio performance followed by a trip out to SF to capture sounds. Running In Street Clothes was a concept project that came about so naturally. To me, running in street clothes captures the essence of the ever-busy streets of San Francisco, California. The image of somebody running in street clothes is a metaphor that can hold so many different interpretations. I’ll leave that up to you to figure out.
The piece is juxtaposed with a rather fascinating video of Bob Rabbit meditating – as he often does – in the midst of the chaotic commuter traffic hour between the Embarcadero Station and the Ferry Building. Observe the chaos or choose to tune out, it’s up to you.
I’ve been trying to conjure up the right words to share with y’all about my experience in Hawaii. It is hard to do. A part of me wants to give you some background on the beautiful islands, to help you appreciate this place – but you can find that information all over the internet. I want to tell you about each day and the places we went, the food we ate and the drinks we drank. I want to share about the conversations we had and how our two families bonded together. I want to express my full gratitude to the people who made this trip happen because Lord knows I wouldn’t have made it happen myself. Thank you Rachel, Roxanne, Mom, Dad, and Jeff for everything! I am full of gratitude as I think back on our trip. We laughed and cried and swam with turtles. We jumped off rocks into the ocean and cracked skulls in the pool. We read books and drank fine wine, and we unwound from the intense world that we left behind in the mainland. It was truly unforgettable.
I guess what I really want to convey is that in Hawaii there is a feeling. It’s something that we all felt, more or less. The natives call it Mana. Mana is a life energy that flows through all things. It’s true – this feeling is intoxicating and it sticks with you after you leave the islands. So when I reminisce on our time there I close my eyes and feel the Mana. I am reminded of the warm winds, the constant ocean, and the color green. I hear the music of the island, I taste the fresh exotic fruit, and feel the soft sand on my feet. I remember feeding the finch’s with bread and watching them flock to us from all over, gathering around in a frenzy for their daily breakfast. I feel a calmness. My breathing slows down as I remember the push and pull of the tides, and the fire from the tiki torches that lights up the nights sky. An extravagant sunset fills the backs of my eyelids as I visualize the sun, reflecting off of the ocean as it projects it’s many colors into the sky. My heart is warmed as I recall the peaceful Mana in the atmosphere. A feeling of calmness, of being grounded. That’s what Hawaii means to me.
I tried to balance my time and energy there in the best way. During the day I was present, hanging with the family and spending time together. At night and in the early mornings I had a bit more time to myself where I could work on getting some sounds and video content. If you look at my last post there is a really cool sunset timelapse that I took on our last night in Maui. Check it out if you haven’t already! The sounds I recorded are special to me because they bring me back to that feeling. As I listen to them, all of the beautiful imagery comes rushing back to me and I find myself in that peaceful place again. That’s why I love recording these sounds!! It’s the best way to reconnect with past feelings and memories. I know most of you weren’t there, but hopefully you can find your own meaning behind the sounds. My ultimate hope is for you to connect.
A poet lost in his work, oblivious to the world outside.
The move out to Denver has brought about many new experiences for me. I have to say, of them all, this was one of the most fun! My friend Matt and I signed up for the 48 Hour Film Project here in Denver. I didn’t really know what to expect when we signed up, but he had done it before and said it was a blast. We talked about it for weeks at work sharing ideas and resources, and when the time came we pulled the trigger and signed up.
Here’s how it works…
On the night of the opening ceremony, each team pulls two genres out of a hat. We pulled “Suspense” and “Fish Out Of Water” (think Eddie Murphy ‘Coming To America’ or ‘Pleasantville’). We chose Suspense. THE MOMENT YOU PULL YOUR GENRE YOUR 48 HOURS STARTS!! Then they give the global rules that everyone must follow.
RULES: Your film must include…
A character named Ruby Starr
An overstuffed wallet
One line of dialogue – “Stop copying me”.
Write, cast, shoot, edit, color, score, and complete your film. That’s the goal. Oh yeah, and make it great. Better than the competing 62 teams.
To say it was a rush would be a major understatement. We hardly slept, but had some of our grandest moments in those delusional hours. I consumed more coffee in those 48 hours than I may have all year (I normally don’t drink it). The first day was all shooting with our cast at 3 different locations. It was a race to get our indoor shots done in time before the sun set. We wrapped our first location after lunch time and were headed to our outdoor locations when it started raining. NO! We made good use of the time and fueled up on tacos while the rain passed over. When it did, we got right back to work shooting the rest of our film outdoor. We hit golden hour when the sun was setting perfectly and lighting our actors faces with a gentle, soft afternoon light. Lovely. Matt let me call the “Martini Shot” and it was a wrap!
Not for us though… Next we went back to my place and started compiling all of the footage. We made sure that it was all in order and did a rough cut of the film before calling it a very late night. Sleep was beyond needed at that point and our brains had stopped producing anything of substance.
The next morning we each woke up at our separate places and got to work with post production. Matt’s role was to color grade, and edit the film. While he was doing that, I was putting together all of the audio and coming up with a composition for the film score. When Matt arrived that afternoon with the picture lock, I was busy doing ADR (automated dialogue replacement) with our main actor for the monologue/narration that drives the film. Shoutout Jackson Maloney for the beautiful poem that was written on the spot that day. So talented!
After the ADR was finished, I was rushing to get all of the audio in place. This was the last step to getting our film together (besides the final bounce). If you ever want to test your audio skills, give yourself 2/3 hours to edit and score a film! It really challenged me to only use what was necessary, and to not be a perfectionist. I laid down the piano and music bed in a couple of takes, just watching the film as I played. It turned out surprisingly nice!
We were running out of time and still had to bounce the final version, package it, and drive it to the meeting spot. We turned it in with all of our paperwork completed about 40 minutes early. Booyah!
A week later we had a premier where we got to watch it on the big screen. Super cool experience, and it was interesting to see some of the other films.
I learned a lot from this project that I could write about, but one thing seems to resonate most right now. It’s so important to challenge yourself. This was an uncomfortable experience for us on many levels. It forced us to play many positions, and take risks, and most importantly to make educated decisions – and stick with them! No second guessing, just do it.
Spent time in beautiful Aspen, CO this weekend. The quick 3 hour drive from Denver is totally worth it as each minute is spent traveling through changing landscapes and boundless views of incredible nature. As I made the decent through Independence Pass into the valley where Aspen lies, I was reminded of the beauty that this wonderful place holds. The magnificent groves of Aspen trees – which gave the place it’s name – stretched out far and wide, covering the mountain sides with their long white trunks and fragile green leaves. I love the way that they shake and shimmy in the wind like jazz hands.
After spending some time in the town, I made my way down to the Roaring Fork River that splits the valley in two. There I found ACES, Aspen Center for Environmental Studies. Here’s an excerpt from the ACES website which describes their mission.
Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES) is a non-profit environmental science education center with four sites in the Roaring Fork Valley. ACES provides programs in environmental science and ecological literacy for everyone from school children, to leaders and decision makers, working to build a community of knowledgeable, motivated and capable environmental stewards.
Here at ACES, we believe that protecting the people of our planet means protecting the natural environment. To achieve this lofty endeavor, we need more science education and we must bridge the unfortunate political divide that exists around “environmentalism.” It requires a new vernacular for the environmental movement which includes diversity, humility, social justice, innovation, and yes—tribal symbiosis.
This “oasis”, as I like to call it, was truly special. A protected piece of land that holds animals such as Golden Eagles, Great Horned Owls, Red Tailed Hawks, Bearded Dragons, Tarantulas, Pythons, Deer, Moose, Bears, Fish, Birds, and more!
Some of the animals such as the Golden Eagle were injured in nature and brought back to ACES for rehabilitation. This particular Golden Eagle is 37 years old! For reference, the longest living Golden Eagle in captivity is 40 years old. After a life threatening injury to both wings, the Golden Eagle was found on Aspen Mountain struggling for her life. They knew she was injured badly because she allowed their rescue team to pick her up and help her down the mountain. She was in such bad shape that she had maggots growing in her wounds. ACES has helped her back to good health and their plan is to eventually reintroduce her into the wild one day. Here’s a video of her taking a bath.
DISCLAIMER: This video was taken before we knew about her injuries, and how ACES was helping rehabilitate her so don’t mind the audio. She’s a powerful creature that is used to flying free, so it’s no wonder that she doesn’t like the straps on her legs.
After hiking through the land for a while, I sat down to relax and listen. I found a place to set up my recorder where it most accurately captured the essence of the environment. Here’s what I heard.
A perfect 75 degrees, sunny with light breeze. My recorder is stationed to the right of me, on a stand, inches from the river. The microphones are pointed down facing the rocks below, where the water is smoothing over the slick rocks. Bikers pedal passed me on my left. Here. Then gone. As is the water on my right. An interesting man strolls forward from ahead. A curious lookin’ fella. Then, he too is out of sight, out of mind. It feels revitalizing to my soul to be spending time listening again. What a blessing…
Cherry Creek – Bike Path
Spokes. Gears. Tires gripping the pathway, propelling people forward. Footsteps. Concrete. Slapping heavily to the rhythm of each breath. Little to no words. Just exercise. And then there’s that constant hum from the river that fills the silence. A few folks go un-noticed by the ear, passing along on the bridge above. But the eye sees them. It watches as they stop and marvel at the beauty of it all. Just as I am…
This was a special day. My good buddy Jackson invited me out to ‘care for the land’ at his bosses house. It was going to be a beautiful day, and I didn’t have any plans so I figured spending some time working outdoors in the mountains wouldn’t be a bad way to spend my day.
We met early in the morning and drove up into the foothills near Boulder, CO. We stopped at a local gas station where we met Jackson’s friend Jim. I loaded up on 3 bags of BBQ sunflower seeds – which I haven’t been able to find since I moved out to Colorado – and we went on our way. The drive up was beautiful and it didn’t take long for me to be reminded of the magic in the mountains; providing me with reassurance of why I love them so much. When we arrived at our destination we hopped out of the car and got the trailer into position.
What made this day significant was the purpose behind the job. Jackson was preparing for a ‘vision quest’ down in southern Colorado. From my understanding, a vision quest is a ceremonious rite of passage practiced in some Native American cultures. It is a powerful experience that has been practiced for thousands of years, and it still holds great value today. Since I have never participated in this, and I don’t know a heck of a lot about it, I will leave the explaining to someone who knows it better. Jackson chose to not participate in it this time around, but still wanted to be involved for his community. So he and his buddy Jim took up the vital role of tending to the fire during the ceremony. From what Jackson has told me about it, the fire holds a major significance in the whole process.
What was cool about the day was that Jackson’s boss Bill had a bunch of land that needed tending to. As the summer is approaching, he was beginning to worry that all of the trees in his backyard were going to be hazardous if a fire ever came through. He had been slowly tending to his land over the past few months, but it’s really hard work clearing trees out of your yard, and it takes a long time if you are on your own. So, it was mutually beneficial for both parties to take on this day of work. For Jackson and Jim, the wood that was to be gathered would be put to perfect use during the vision quest. For Bill, we were helping him big time by caring for his land, cutting up the dead trees, and taking them for him. And for me… I was just happy to be with my good pal, working hard for a good cause and soaking in the beautiful scenery of the mountains.
We got right to work. I set up my recorder on top of the hill in the copse behind Bill’s house, and pressed record. Here’s what it sounded like…
RANDOM THOUGHT: After that day I found a whole new respect for trees. The amount of work it takes to take a tree down reminds me of the great strength that they hold. Each ring inside the trunk representing another year of life. Each year of life making the tree stronger and stronger, rooting it deeper into the earth. Nearly impossible to uproot, we are forced to chop it down with a chainsaw. The sweet smell of pine and sap and wood blending together as we worked made for a pleasant aroma. The rough texture of the bark on my arms as I carried the stumps down towards the trailer reminded me of the durability of the tree. Each species of wood varying in scent, density, weight and feel.
After working I went to hang by the creek in Boulder and sat underneath the trees by the river. I looked up with great reverence at the bold and magical trees towering over me. They’ve been here so much longer than I. They’ve seen so much. They must be wise.
“Music from Bob about a beautiful girl, and growing up.”
Right before my move to Denver, I was experiencing some pretty intense dreams. I had two in particular that caught my attention; one more vivid than the next. The synopsis of the dream was this…
The world was in a state of destruction and chaos. Above in the sky were giant planes dropping bombs. In the distance there were pillars of smoke, and fire lit up the night sky. On the ground, frantic people ran for their lives, terrified as they tried to find shelter. It was the end surely. However, Bob and I seemed to be unaffected. We sat on a stone ledge near the beach cultivating our music. I was playing piano, Bob was playing guitar and we were both singing. We were locked in tight to a groove that stuck with me even after I woke up. The song was beautiful. We were happy. In fact, we were at peace. In that very moment, nothing else mattered. The fire, smoke, death, and destruction. None of it mattered. The music carried us through, and we found light in a dark place.
I believe now that there is a significant correlation between Katie and what happened in my dream. Coincidence? I don’t really believe in that sort of thing…
Upon waking I sent Bob a text message saying, “Hey, I’m not sure what this means yet, but I’ve just had two really vivid dreams about us making music together. I think we’re supposed to collaborate on something here pretty soon. Call me.”
We got on a phone call and caught up. I shared my dream with Bob and then he shared his heart with me. Our collaboration was Katie.
Bob had already curated all of the music together. He felt like he was hitting a creative wall – and if you know Bob, he’s always got a variety of projects going on at once – so the help came at a good time. He kindly asked me if I would mix the project for him. I humbly accepted, and got to work.
A beautiful album, simple and organic – my personal favorite style of Bob Rabbits. Original instrumentation and lyrics from the heart.
Take a listen and enjoy.
Also, please be sure to check his website out at https://www.bobrabbit.com/ to support the mission of the Bob Rabbit Project, a non-profit organization founded in 2016 working to provide the creative and business-minded individuals of this world with quality computers.