All I had was a sliver of an inkling, that the key to even making it through the year at all in one piece would lie in staying on a particular side of a particular threshold. There isn’t really a name for this, at least that I know of, but it’s what could be termed the participation/commentary axis. Action/reaction is a simpler form of this idea, encapsulated by but not fully conveying what it means; in the recesses of my memory I can remember the terms “spheres of influence” and “spheres of concern,” which feel as though they relate to what’s going on here as well.
But it was no more than a theory, if that. Stay proactive, focus on what you have direct influence over, eliminate the sphere of concern from your mind: you have no control over it, and do do do. Visions and intentions are no longer enough. Take action. Participate. This was the hunch, and it was all I had to follow. So we did, knowing full well that, in life, as in both history and daytime television...
Overview & Artisanal Being
Much of TPE’s growth this year took place outside BlueDorian, so much so that it bears mentioning in this blog, specifically with and within Elizabeth’s flagship “Artisanal” brand: which this year officially launched “Artisanal Being,” an impeccably sourced and immaculately curated lifestyle boutique and gift shop, currently located in Harwich Port, on Cape Cod.
BlueDorian Media Entertainment
This year was very exciting for DoT, and for BlueDorian’s visual art and multimedia initiatives in general. We began the year with big zeros lining the x-axes: no work product, no network of collaborators to help produce it, and no experience or knowledge as to how to go about creating or finding either. After several months, and no small amount of elbow grease i.e. the seemingly endless trolling of sites such as deviantart and behance (still can’t pronounce that, please advise), we managed to put together a small yet growing list of artists, character designers, and illustrators, all of whom we hope to explore working with in the future. Currently, we are actively working with three, in various contexts:
- Limetown Studios, a Brazilian visual arts company, the creative heart of which consists of Gustavo Lima and Amanda Duarte, a pair of artists with a wonderful sense of energy, zest, and humor, which they readily infuse into their artwork; I've included two samples from their open portfolio below: i) a cheeky and clever gender-swapped version of the Greek-god "Poseidon;" and a fresh take on "Tracer" from Blizzard's "Overwatch." Both gorgeous. Some links for them: instagram; behance; youtube.
- Kurt Chang, an independent artist based in California. I was drawn to Kurt's technical skill, as well as his versatility (on display in two characteristically evocative and subtle renderings of familiar faces) and through working with him have grown to value both his depth of approach, and his careful balance of style and realism. Some links: behance; deviantart; pinterest.
- Joseph Dellagatta, a New England-based independent artist, who has kindly offerred his keen eye, sharp noggin, and years of experience to the project, and to the initiative in general, as a consultant and advisor.
I’m beyond stoked about this project. It’s a story that gets me jazzed every time I work on it, and I hope you will enjoy these characters and this universe as much as we do. We’ll be keeping you posted. In the meantime, do check out and spread the word of the websites of the artists listed; there’s some wonderful art there and we’re happy to help provide some exposure any way we can (we’ll post other links as we establish professional relationships ongoing enough so as to be considered collaborative).
Sounds simple enough ;)
In many ways it was. It some ways it wasn’t. Though, I’ve already started to forget those instances that made up the latter. Some things work out, some things don’t; what matters—at least so far as I currently understand—is to keep moving forward. We set out with this goal of building a master squad of talented and like-minded musicians at the beginning of the year, tapping into every source, every contact we thought we knew we had, cold-calling at times, reaching out every which way to see who’d call back, who might be interested in helping bring this music to life in this unconventional way. We'd hoped by starting early, in view of the myriad other projects waiting in the wings, that we might be done by the end of the first quarter.
It took until early December, which might have been predictable. Still: we did it. We found, at least for now—and by that I mean that schedules are precarious things, especially for musicians, a wonderful cadre of artists willing and able (and in some cases, it seems, genuinely pleased) to work together in this way, focusing primarily on development, and reading and learning with great accuracy, deliberately and precisely notated scores.
This year’s primary starters, dubbed “Delta Squad," saw the culmination of their efforts at this year’s showcase event, this time a performance at the Lilypad, in Cambridge MA. We look forward to continuing to build the squad, and to bringing newer members up to speed, in the new year. Notation continues to be an important part of the process, and will continue to be so in 2017; the capable hands of Ray Tarantola and his able team now man the music preparation console.
The AFO does have its own page on this site, but here is the current complete squad list as of the date of this writing. Please do check out their websites (as usual, orange type means a link); this really is a group of "heavy hitters" (as Steve Latanision recently put it), solid folks with whom it is truly a privilege to make great music. Onward!
Other ("New") Projects
The first of the new projects technically already exists, in the form of a mostly unknown website and a bit of social media. So, I suppose, for those diehards among you, the term SymGastro may not come as new information. SymGastro, from the original “Symphonie Gastronomique” (yes, it is a play on Berlioz because I am just that much of a #nerd) which was an annual recipe book Elizabeth and I gave out to loved ones during the holiday season. The web presence isn’t much now, but our goal is to convert it into a bona fide hub for our “foodie adventures:” anything from recipes we adore to awesome products we might come across, to who knows what? We look forward to you joining us on this growing adventure.
I saw a headline recently that read: “Slouching Towards 2017.” Clever… is I’m sure what the writer would like me to think. But no. Sorry. #Fail. That is no more incisive political satire than it is the choice I am making in the dying embers of a year that has been a whirlwind dynamo of epic proportions. I shall make like Le Bon (that’s not a misspelling) and “dance into the fire” that at times threatens to engulf me. For I cannot fear the fire. Because I am the fire. I am the sun that lights the world of my being. I do not fear what is me all along.
And, for anyone who might find my $0.02 helpful, let me make this recommendation. Ignore them, those armchair reactionary commentators. Instead: go, make your decisions, live by your conscience, grab your life by the lapels and take this opportunity to make it the most beautiful adventure you can. If you’re mad as hell and don’t want to take it anymore, go do something to make your life better; chances are the opportunity exists.
I don’t go to war with people or things—it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense to me—but I know when I no longer have time for something, when something has served its purpose and needs to be gone from my consciousness. So I say goodbye to these people, these armchair reactionary commentators, so self-righteous in their cynicism who, just because the world didn’t live up to their every expectation, decide they’re entitled to stop trying, to stop getting up every morning and saying I am here, and I am willing to do my best, and who then demand that their opinion and approach be force fed to the point that it clogs the mindspace of others, who are actually trying, who do do their best, day in day out, and who might need a little pep, a little affirmation for the hard and noble work that they do despite whatever challenges and fears they might be facing.
So to those cynics, and on behalf of anyone who would wish me to speak as such, I say this: We understand where you are coming from. We understand you have frustrations, and that you have emotions and feelings that you feel. And we have compassion for you. And also, your voice is more destructive than you realize, more destructive, in fact, than all the happenstances about which you bemoan over your cups of hipster coffee, because nothing comes so close to extinguishing the human spirit as do cynicism and complacency. So please, kindly take both a step back from the edge as well as a deep breath, and let me direct you to a quiet corner of the room, where you can feel free to go fuck yourself.
And if it sucks for the first decade…
You’re on the right path.