Barbra Brady

Archive for the ‘Cultural Musings’ Category

The Bay Lights: Homage to Warhol and Picasso

In Art, The Bay Lights, This Evening's Movie on March 29, 2013 at 3:39 pm
--The Bay Lights screen shot 2013-03-28 at 8.20

–The Bay Lights screen shot 2013-03-28 at 8.20

Soundtrack: Bach’s Goldberg Variations.  Tonight’s The Bay Lights are a ripple of Warhol’s film The Empire State Building wrapped in Picasso’s Blue Period.

Fireflies Spotted in San Francisco!

In Art, The Bay Lights on March 27, 2013 at 5:05 am

The Bay Lights, full moon

Soundtrack: Julianna Barwick’s Vow. Fireflies, or lightning bugs, are beetles. My tidbit of a research tells me they aren’t west of the Rockies. They don’t live anywhere near San Francisco (though Utah lays a claim).

So while I’m crazy about living in Sonoma, in the north Bay, I miss these bugs. The perennial, crepuscular Celeoptera. Stilted, I know, but they provoke the laudatory.

I used to live east of the Rockies, most recently in Greensboro, NC, where I had nightly meditations on their light effects. Each year, early June, I’d sit in the courtyard of my apartment building, and wait for the first sighting of the year, kinda like waiting for the first snowfall. Just as magical each year, no matter how many times I’d seen them. The anticipation of the known only added allure. It was sometime during my first summer of evening viewings that I noticed an operational detail: they don’t just start lighting up the sky once dusk settles in, they slowly, dopily, rise up from the ground. Make that: they waft up. They are wafters.

Here’s where the “Fireflies spotted in San Francisco!” comes in. I’ve been watching the live cam of The Bay Lights “no two patterns ever repeat” light display for a couple of weeks now. I get kind of mesmerized by the way the lights play of lights across the span of the bridge, and I’d already noted their ascent and descent. Here’s the thing: tonight I noticed that at times the LED lights…waft up. Like…fireflies.

The full moon didn’t exactly put any dents in the experience.

The Bay Lights Screen shot 2013-03-26 at 8.50.01 PMThe Bay Lights Screen shot 2013-03-26 at 8.49.54 PMThe Bay Lights Screen shot 2013-03-26 at 8.46.45 PMThe Bay Lights Screen shot 2013-03-26 at 8.48.47 PMThe Bay Lights Screen shot 2013-03-26 at 8.57.10 PM

The Thin Yellow Line

In Writings on March 26, 2013 at 3:48 pm

Thanks for the story!

It was one twenty in the morning and I was staring at a band of yellow police tape across the closed-door of my hotel room. “Thats funny” I thought, ”I don’t recall committing a crime before going to work. I would remember that”.

via The Thin Yellow Line.

via The Thin Yellow Line.

Waking from Black White and Grey

In Art on March 26, 2013 at 2:43 am

Screen shot 2013-03-25 at 8.46.21 AM


Soundtrack: Gregory Cain’s The Waking. “The Waking” is a track from Gregory Cain’s soon to-be-released recording Black White and Grey. It is also an incredibly apt subtitle for this morning’s viewing of The Bay Bridge–no lights.

I’ve been capturing screen shots at all hours from the live cam trained on the Bay Bridge, ala Andy Warhol. This shot is from 8:46 a.m., March 25 2013. I was just waking. The live cam feed was in black, white, and grey… Synchronistically I chose this viewing to listen to Cain…and randomly (really?) selected this track…The Waking…from Black White and Grey…

I don’t need to say any more than this: Cain’s piece sounds (to me) exactly like the way this shot feels. Picture Perfect Pitch.

But hear for yourself.

The Hidden Art of Silent Films

In This Evening's Movie on March 21, 2013 at 4:40 pm

Swing State Voter

Silent films are a lost art.  Hollywood really has gone overboard on special effects and underwhelming plot lines (that is, when they do something other than just remaking an 80’s film or re-vamping Superman for the zillionth time).

I took a trip back to my alma mater Ohio Wesleyan University last weekend.  As I meandered down memory lane, I was saddened to see my favorite professor, Helmut Kremling, was no longer teaching.  Not only was he a great mentor for me while proffing the courses of my major (German Studies), he also taught an Introduction to Film class that completely opened up a whole new world to me.  I had always been a lover of movies, but never before had I experienced so much fascination with a dying art form.  Much like the old celluloid films of the late 19th Century, the structural integrity of true trend-setting and cutting-edge films is in…

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The Bay Lights: Black & White in Blue

In Art on March 21, 2013 at 4:55 am
Screen shot 2013-03-20 at 9.06.04 PM

The Bay Lights screen shot 2013-03-20 at 9.06.04 PM

Soundtrack: Joni Mitchell’s BlueLive cam in black & white tonight…I listen to Blue. Mitchell’s Blue has been getting some neo-buzz lately, without question a valid consideration.

Puts me in the mood, just cruising along like the ship under the bridge, above. Its fortunate passengers drifting toward, under, and by the Bay Light. This screen capture… Ed Ruscha’s painting, Untitled, (galleon ship silhouette) whispers in my ear as soft/acute as when it first penetrated my consciousness in 1986. That’s no mixed metaphor–a painting whispering in my ear. Remember: I’m drawn down to gaze while listening, to listen while my eyes take in the lights, The Bay Lights.

Ed Ruscha's Untitled, 1986

Untitled (galleon ship silhouette), oil & enamel on canvas
64 H x 64 W (inches)

If you’re enjoying, send some tune suggestions, I’ll ping for you.

The Bay Lights on Palestrina

In Art on March 20, 2013 at 5:45 pm
The Bay Lights 3.19.13 8.39.44 PM

The Bay Lights 3.19.13 8.39.44 PM

Soundtrack: Palestrina’s Allergi Meserere. I didn’t plan this. Yes, I had already planned to listen to (what is for me) the calmest music in the world (psst, I was inspired by Guy Maddin’s film title The Saddest Music in the World there), Palestrina’s  Allegri Meserere. Synchronicity happens in this project. Tonight the bay was the calmest I’ve seen it.

When I hear this marvel-ous 16th century polyphony, my first association–it’s *very visceral–are the words: “My perfection,” ala “My Precious.” Hey, if Gollum isn’t of the viscera, nothing is.

Now, in the same setting that had fit Miles like a glove, I read the lights as a delicate shimmer, a lacing of lights. No jazz, all calm. The Palestrina takes my breath away, as does my ritual meditation on the bridge. In Palestrina’s surround, the lights are like gems in the eyes of God, diamonds ascending copper. A feather on the breath of God

And. Have you noticed Oakland in these screen shots? It’s that band of fire running under the left third of the bridge.

Water. Fire. Space. Air. Even earth (the platform below the camera). The presence of all five elements = a Divine source of power, perhaps why I am so devoted to my Meditation on the Bridge.

*My history with Palestrina

I was once a entire family all by myself. As the head of the household, I had the job of full-time Registrar at the Weatherspoon Art Museum, University of North Carolina Greensboro. At night, I became the house-holder, cooking, cleaning, the stereotypical hours of the stay-at-home personnel. I was already both “parents” when I decided to become the offspring in school, too. I enrolled in grad school. Man. Three family members in one very depleted woman.

Often I was wrought. And then over-the-top-ly so. When it felt roughest, there was one thing in particular that peeled away all stress, tension, and fatigue. When I sensed critical mass of overwhelm, Palestrina’s Allegri Meserere was an unfailing, instant hit of calm.

Enter the Bay Lights viewing, March 19 2013. See above.

Visual Harmonics: Miles Davis and the Bay Bridge

In Art on March 19, 2013 at 2:05 pm


The Bay Lights Meditation, March 16, 2013

Soundtrack: Miles Davis. I Dreamed Last Night.  Was “flow” one of the first words I associated with Miles? Most like. Saturday night, it was Miles. Maybe it is always Miles on Saturday nights, but this one, March 16 2013, it was Miles +. Miles and the Bay Bridge, 7+ miles long. The music flows. The water, flows (bigger water than previous nights, the wind blows). The light show flows in seeming sync with Miles. Perhaps it has been said that Miles was in sync with the Universe. I saw each movement of I Dreamed Last Night traced across the Bridge, its programming a never-repeating improvisation of light. The Harmonics of Miles across 7 miles…I can see for Miles…

Meditating on Installation Art

In Art on March 12, 2013 at 7:25 pm


photo credit:

The new light installation by artist Leo Villareal, The Bay Lights, is quietly dazzling me and all who behold this huge LED installation spanning the Bay Bridge between San Francisco and Oakland.

Perfection beginning of my two-year long Meditation on a Installation–see my The Bay Lights Page for regular blogs about my gazing/meditating on the live stream with changing “soundtracks.”

I Need Your Peep Inspiration.

In Art, Poetry, Truisms on April 4, 2012 at 1:03 am

Portrait of a Peep in White

There are Peeps that are tucked into Easter baskets.

Some will be eaten, some not, and some, sort of.

There are victimized Peeps.

Some are microwaved.

Some Peeps, wretched to many, are made more edible.

They become sushi, (Peepshi); they become Peeps pizza. (Peepza). Or S’meeps.

Some meet with a horrifying genocide, a nuclear meltdown that no Peep deserves.

I’ll take my Peeps elegant, pure, a poem dressed in white.

Portrait of a Peep in White, Photograph by Barbra Brady

What have you done to a Peep lately?