...GATHER YE
B A R R Y L A N D .

 

 

things i did in 01.
a moustache-twisting journal of the few things in my life worth mentioning

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yeah

 

go east.
my month in beijing

fast hannah.
a preliminary bit of blizz blazz

mad skills.
bbbbarry thRoWz U sOmE dEeP hOuSe

nineveh.
a painting i painted

the defense rests.
an original art work celebrates my dad's career

 

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shopped in the grand bazaar

in Istanbul. On a whim, thanks to the deep pockets of my old roommate Jeff, I joined him and our friend Lee in a journey through Turkey, where, among other things, we recited from St Paul in the very amphitheater in Ephesus where he spoke, ate Turkish Delight (on a moonlit night), had a bath and sado-massage in a palatial marble Turkish bath (est. 1530), visited St Sophia and the gorgeous Blue Mosque, listened to the haunting call of the muezzin echoing through the city. What a trip! Thanks again, guys.

 

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saw a brand-new opera

commissioned in part by Austin Lyric Opera: a premiere performance of Carlisle Floyd's Cold Sassy Tree, based on the Oprah-club bestseller. it made me realize that the way we listen to opera has changed: since you've heard 'Un bel di' a million times, you critique this or that singer's performance, and the work itself recedes. Tree, though, was entirely fresh, and we got to experience it as the original audiences experienced Butterfly — realizing that a new work was entering our ears for the first time.
more

 

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sang nessun dorma on the great wall

Yep, I went to China, for a month. One of the great pleasures of the composer's life is that you have time, and I spent quite a bit of it away this year. China was stupendous: ancient temples, serenely friendly people, great food, fascinating music; the Temple of Heaven, the Forbidden City, the splendid Summer Palace, the Ancient Observatory, and Kubla Khan's hill, where all that's left of his reign is a single jar — it was a cultural feast. And, of course, the Great Wall, where, on a peak tower, I balanced vertiginously on the edge and sent my voice out to echo for a moment from the roller-coaster mountains of Mongolia.
more

 

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shared a piano with rachmaninoff

I was at my friend George's house for a party, and noticed that he had a second piano next to his old one. It had belonged to his grandmother, who was friends with Sergei; he used to play it on visits. And, now, so have I. You usually think of the "six degrees of separation" principle as applying to living people; but with only two between me and Rach, how many steps back to Beethoven? Bach? Palestrina? How small our human family is!

 

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walked through a volcano

My brother Paul treated the family to a Hawaiian adventure. We luaued, swam, basked, and stared goggle-eyed at the splendor of the place. It's a cliche to call it a paradise, but when you get there the comparison is unavoidable.

 

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got covered parking

for the first time in my life. In July I moved to a duplex, where I was able to spread out a bit. Now I have an actual studio/office, a beautiful living room, a yard, and, to my delight — something few people have these days — a separate, four-walled, dining room. Nice.

 

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spent over $2000 on my car

Ouch. Hadn't counted on that as I made all my travel plans.

 

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wrote more songs

Most of my money comes from arrangements that I do of other people's stuff, and most of my live gigs involve jazz standards. But this year, for one reason and another, I had one of those little spurts that come along, and wrote a number of original songs for the band, for church, and for my gosh durn self.

 

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went to the top of the empire state building

When I go to New York, I usually avoid the big tourist places, figuring I'll see them at some unspecified later time. The price for that is that I never got to take in the World Trade Center. That sobering fact motivated me, this time around, to visit the other grand symbol of our striving, as well as pay my respects at the still-smoldering ground zero.

 

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didn't watch too much CNN

It took a bit of discipline to put into practice a lesson learned from the Gulf War: the wall-to-wall coverage actually diminishes the impact of the event.

 

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visited a medieval building

the only one on our continent. The Cloisters is now a museum in northern Manhattan, made up of several old monasteries the Rockefellers brought over piece by piece, and stitched together in a hybrid that both honors its spiritual past and befits its new home in this mongrel nation.

 

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bowed

Greg Norris, the bass player in our band, gave me what turned out to be my favorite Christmas gift of last year: a bow for my string bass, so I could again bathe in the deep chocolate tone, and feel the vibration of the instrument resonating against me. Pure gratification. Not to mention every bass player's secret pleasure: the smell of Pop's Bass Resin.

 

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thought about verklärte nacht

the poem by Richard Dehmel, and the basis for Schönberg's most haunting piece of music. The occasion was my new gas stove, whose knobs have the 'lite' function (ignition, that is) right beyond the 'hi' setting, so it says 'HI LITE.' Invariably, after cooking, I'd walk out of the kitchen chanting: Two people walk through high, light night. Then, sometimes, I'd do a romantic little dance.

 

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had more spiritual doubt

For some reason, this year, I've found myself thinking, mid-prayer, that I was praying into emptiness; or realizing, with a jolt, that I couldn't believe a word I was reading in a particular scripture passage. Like all mature believers, I've had these dry patches and periods of doubt before, but never as deep or lasting as this one. My only refuge has been to continue my faithless prayers to the God who, on good days, I know is there, and is as faithful as I am faithless. Lord, I believe: help thou my unbelief.

 

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got spam

I'd always been fortunate not to get spam emails, and smug when folks complained about it. But this year the spammers got my number and made up for lost time — I get several solicitations a day. What a dull nightmare. I even got several SirCam-infected emails, and although, being a Mac/Netscape guy, I'm impervious to them, they're still a clutter. On the upside, it shows that my website is at least inobscure enough to show up on someone's radar.

 

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got neat

It took months to turn my cardboard-box-filled rooms into livable ones; perhaps that became a giant case of aversion therapy, because I'm now less cluttered than I've ever been. It's still mildly shocking to stroll through a room and think, "Hey — there's no junk in here at all."

 

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met my new pastor

After 18 months of searching, our church committee (of which my mom was a member, as was her mother in 1949) found a new pastor for Trinity Baptist, to relieve Buckner Fanning of his 42-year stint. Coming from the fireside chat of Buckner, a media-friendly grandpa with evangelistic fire in the belly, Charlie's style — mainline social conscience draped in starched purple orations — is an adjustment, and an exciting change. Services these first several Sundays have been a relief and a thrill. Can't wait to see how he turns out.

 

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enjoyed a bunch of cubanos

My brother Paul gave me a box of 25 Cohiba Esplendidos; enjoying them with different combinations of friends took me nearly the whole year. It's true what they say about Cuban cigars. They really are different. And what a blessing to have a whole load of them to enjoy and share. It's good to be rich.

 

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congratulated dr brake

Dr Richard Brake, that is: my brother. Yep, he finished his studies this year, and is now addressed (by some) as Doctor. Only he knows how much this cost him in toil, money, time, and thought. The result is obvious, though, when he gets the look on his face that you see on people who have reached a summit — the look that says, "yes I'm sweaty, but what a view."

 

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drank coffee shakes

One fine day, I put a lump of vanilla ice cream into a giant mug, threw some coffee and milk in, blended it into a delicious, frothy thing, and discovered a new dessert obsession. I've imbibed countless gallons of the stuff since then and show no sign of relenting.

 

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flew planes

A record 23 flights, 6 of which took me 3/4 of the way around the world in 80 hours.

 

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designed clothes

A friend once said, "Barry, you have your own version of everything." I took it as the highest of compliments. Toward better living up to it, I found myself in a position this year to get some stuff made for me from scratch: three suits and three shirts. For the most part, I settled on designs the tailor was comfortable making, but for two of the suits I came up with my very own idea, based on the lapelling of overcoats rather than jackets. Can't be more pleased with the results; my hope is that they'll never go out of style, never having been in style to begin with.

 

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what a year. dedicated to the glory of God.

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so, what did you do?

 

 

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