A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Archive for the ‘Non Blog’ Category

[NON BLOG] On focus and fragmentation

I have been feeling more than a bit fragmented, more than a bit caught up in a mass of details which need to be attended to but cannot be properly done on account of their sheer number, for some time. My laptop’s hard drive malfunction didn’t help, although the prospect of having much of my data lost permanently is hardly cherry. (At least my photos, my main work, are in the cloud.) The state of the world, similarly, has done something of a number on me, even before the recent election of Ford as premier here in Ontario. Underlying all that, I suppose, is a state of frustration at the way things are going in–among other things–my creative life.

I have been thinking about my recent essay on the need to cultivate our gardens. I like having my gardens in order, coherent and organized and with some goal. My virtual gardens, similarly, should be nicely ordered. It is just that, the way the online world has evolved, that coherence is hard to find. This blog, for instance, is hardly a full representation of what I do. My Twitter account, perhaps sadly, with its links to my photos on Instagram if not Flickr, is probably the best way to keep track of me. But then, even ignoring the gated gardens of Facebook, there is still so much else there. Over at Quora I have been a prolific writer, with my answers coming up in genera Internet searches but not otherwise, not on a platform that is easy to interact with for people not on that site. Medium promises–ever promises?–to be a place for long form writing, but then, what do I write? There is so much to write about, and there is so so very much about the rest of life that is not writing, that I do not know what to do.

Dune and marram, North Rustico Beach #pei #princeedwardisland #northrustico #rustico #beach #dunes #marramgrass #gulfofstlawrence #latergram

I do not know quite how to go from here. Finding a focus–perhaps several focuses–is key to making any headway, to feel as if I’m not trying to shovel away all the shifting sands of a dune. I want something solid I can build on. I wonder if I’m overthinking this: Is it just a simple matter, I wonder, of picking things and sticking with them?


Written by Randy McDonald

June 18, 2018 at 11:58 pm

[PHOTO] Me and a J car at Privé Revaux, New York City

Just east of Times Square on 42nd Street, Privé Revaux, a designer sunglasses line maintains right now a local outpost described alternatively as a pop-up store or a flagship store. (The article describing this as a pop-up store suggests it is slated to close to March.)

Located at 120 W. 42nd Street, the Privé Revaux flagship store, which soft-launched last week, will allow customers to try-before-they-buy and will feature four interactive vignettes that evoke personalities from the brand’s sunglasses – The Artist, The Billionaire, The Dreamer and The Explorer. Each social media-friendly vignette allows customers to physically step inside and utilize props, creating memorable moments. Easy-to-read handles and hashtags, including the brand’s signature #ReframeYourself, encourage social sharing.

In addition, the pop-up pays homage to New York City via a life-sized subway car covered in graffiti with campaign images inside. Patrons can be photographed in the subway car while wearing a pair of Privé Revaux sunglasses, including the new Icon Collection with styles such as The Einstein, The McQueen, The Karl and The Jackie O. Each design is crafted by hand with high-end materials including acetate and proprietary lightweight, yet durable metal alloy. Additional features include polarized lenses, newly designed hinge screws and more; again only retailing for $29.95 per pair (two pairs for $54.95).

I took advantage of the subway train.

J Train (1) #newyorkcity #newyork #manhattan #subway #train #priverevaux #graffiti #latergram

J Train (2) #newyorkcity #newyork #manhattan #subway #train #priverevaux #graffiti #latergram

J Train (3) #newyorkcity #newyork #manhattan #subway #train #priverevaux #graffiti #latergram

Me and a J car at Privé Revaux

Written by Randy McDonald

February 2, 2018 at 10:00 am

[PHOTO] Security camera selfie, Macy’s

The impulse hit me, there in the moment as I stood in the menswear entrance off West 34th.

Security camera selfie #newyorkcity #newyork #securitycamera #macys #me #selfie

Written by Randy McDonald

January 26, 2018 at 10:00 am

[PHOTO] Three photos from arrival in Manhattan

When the Lincoln Tunnel threaded onto West 36th Street just west of Ninth Avenue, I was ready.

Looking east on West 36th #newyorkcity #newyork #hellskitchen #skyline #towers #west36thstreet #west36th

The intersection of West 27th Street and Seventh Avenue, where the Megabus came to a stop, was likewise photo-worthy.

Looking down, West 27th and 7th Avenue #newyorkcity #newyork #west27thstreet #west27th #seventhavenue

When I finally disembarked just outside of the Fashion Institute of Technology, it was time to take a selfie. I made it.

Arrival selfie #newyorkcity #newyork #me #selfie #manhattan #seventhavenue #west27thstreet #west27th

Written by Randy McDonald

January 20, 2018 at 1:15 pm

[MUSIC] The Cranberries, “Linger”

I was getting ready to leave Brooklyn’s Bay Ridge early Monday afternoon when the news broke on Facebook that Dolores O’Riordan of The Cranberries had died. I was taken aback; The Cranberries is one of those bands that defines my mid-1990s experience of watching music television, Canada’s MuchMusic, and to have yet another star gone prematurely … Sharing their breakthrough song “Linger” was the only response I could think of as I walked those chill street.

Oh, I thought the world of you
I thought nothing could go wrong
But I was wrong, I was wrong
If you, if you could get by
Trying not to lie
Things wouldn’t be so confused
And I wouldn’t feel so used
But you always really knew
I just want to be with you

The Independent has a nice feature explaining the genesis of the song, how the young O’Riordan took a song written by Noel Hogan and introduced her own lyrics, talking about her own teenage heartbreak at a nightclub.

Stephen Thomas Erlewine wrote at Pitchfork about this song, more evidence of O’Riordan’s “flinty open heart”.

It was one of the first songs the band completed after O’Riordan joined, when they were just in their late teens. It’s a tale of love, deceit and the lingering feelings of desire for an impossible relationship, an impossible situation, and an impossible partner who broke the contract of love. “It’s ruining every day / For me I swore I would be true / And fellow, so did you / So why were you holding her hand? / Is that the way we stand?” asks O’Riordan. “Were you lying all the time? / Was it just a game to you?…” Yeah, you don’t want to be on O’Riordan’s emotional hit list.

Then the fireworks come. The twinkling guitars and staccato strings rise with her oh-so-recognizable voice and she nails the unforgettable lyrics thousands of fans have sang back to her at festivals and concerts across the globe these past 25 years: “But I’m in so deep / You know I’m such a fool for you / You’ve got me wrapped around your finger / Do you have to let it linger? Do you have to, do you have to, do have to let it linger?” [Shakes head. Places palm over heart.]

(Erlewine goes on to write about how the marketing practices of the music industry in the 1990s helped make “Linger”, along with “Dreams” and “Zombie”, such memorable songs, appearing on soundtracks and being associated with iconic moments of pop culture. Recommended.)

It was iconic, was a song that mattered to me even before (almost a decade before) I could actually get the feelings involved. “Linger” is a profoundly honest song, and Dolores O’Riordan felt like an honest person, the sort of person I’d like to know. I wasn’t alone in connecting, or buying that song’s album and is successors; O’Riordan’s strongly Irish voice connected globally.

William Goodman at Billboard also wrote movingly about O’Riordan, how her voice was not just distinctive but distinctly Irish, perhaps symbolizing dynamic Ireland’s moving forth in the world as modern but still itself.

As a kid, this was one of my first introductions to wistful alt-rock drama. In an era of male-dominated guitar rock, I discovered the Cranberries by sneaking into my older sisters’ rooms and listening to their CDs. The cover of the Cranberries’ debut, Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?, released at the height of the grunge era in March 1993, showed the band cloaked in black, perched on a couch (as would their next release… they liked couches). It was easy to sit in awe of a vocalist commanding so much emotional power, and so in control of her dynamic, unique instrument. It’s a voice that left deep and lasting marks.

“Linger,” along with the LP’s other single “Dreams,” would launch the band’s career — and go on to sell five million copies worldwide. The group would ultimately sell over 40 million records across the globe. The grittier rocker “Zombie” would become perhaps their most recognizable song, but it’s always their dreamy side that stunned the most—the gliding choruses and lyrics that were like a swan dive off the Cliffs of Moher.

And now O’Riordan is gone. The police say it wasn’t a suspicious death; the suspicion seems to be that, in the context of her openness about abuse she had suffered, that this was an accidental overdose or something intentional. I am so sorry for that: we all need more musicians like her. All I can do, from my vantage point as a distant fan, is to be thankful we had her for as long as we did, and that she gave us songs like “Linger.”

Written by Randy McDonald

January 18, 2018 at 12:02 am

[MUSIC] Ryan Adams, “New York, New York”

The Ryan Adams classic song “New York, New York” is a perfect song to start off a soundtrack for a New York City trip.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 11, 2018 at 11:59 pm

[PHOTO] Reflection in a diagonally blocked mirror, Art Gallery of Ontario (@agotoronto)

The mirrored elevators of the Art Gallery of Ontario can lend themselves to interesting selfies.

Reflection in a diagonally blocked mirror #toronto #me #selfie #mirror #artgalleryofontario #elevator #mirror #diagonal

Written by Randy McDonald

January 6, 2018 at 9:30 pm