LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
Likely our most imaginative, provocative and downright fun editions yet, I’m curious to hear the chatter on this Valentinian launch. Honestly, I’ve never put much stock in to Valentine’s Day. Past girlfriends are quick to remind me of this with much relish.
Growing up with a Ukrainian Father quick to teach us to observe weaknesses in systems, akin to a chess master playing a novice, Hallmark Holidays and the American need to advertise everything and anything at all times, was a familial favorite. Exacerbated by the advent of cable TV, the internet and its spawn, Hallmark Holidays have become tenets of society today.
Not without irony, this magazine is basically one huge advertisement for what we create daily, monthly and yearly. No doubt my Father will pipe up with this edition, and with good reason, for this month we have the rare privilege to celebrate capturing Kathleen and Randall. (Since we’re old friends we’ll call them Kathy and Randy.) Their story is the magic of classic literature I adore so much, unlike this forced holiday testament to love and chocolate.
Paired with Margarita’s lament, a brazen composition, Bowie inspired styling and expression, a sinful steak, and not so cloudy thoughts on The Cloud, Valentine’s Day is just a way of life for us here at KARJAKA. When you do what you love, with people that you love, who wants just one day to celebrate that?
When we first met, it was at one of the low points of each of our lives..maybe THE low point. I had just broken up with my partner, was living in shoddy tiny places in Cambridge, and had no career or musical support to speak of. I had written a 30 minute crazy, hard to play piano piece, a kaleidoscopic stew of Classical and Romantic styles that was of interest to no one. I was working as a janitor, a falafel-stand cook, a dance class accompanist, whatever I could find. Other than that, I had all my time free to work on my music.
When we first met…I was coming up from the lowest point in my life, too. After losing several loved ones within a month, I went back to my post-Juilliard life, moving to Boston to work with an incredible piano teacher, Russell Sherman. I made a few friends there (difficult), and some have lasted until now. One of them was a very friendly guy, a composer, and we wanted to start a new music group together. We were both working late one night at New England Conservatory, and we ran into each other. He was with 2 people, one of each gender. I very cheekily said: “And who are these 2 folks???” Well, the woman was his wife, and the other was his friend from Michigan, Randy Woolf, who had just moved to town that day. He told me about an incredibly difficult but cool piece he had, and maybe I’d look at it. Randy began talking it up with his signature enthusiasm, and I was open, but I was also thinking about how cute his eyebrows were! (Note: I also liked the piece: I thought it was so ingenious).
I asked an old friend and mentor from Michigan if he knew anyone foolish enough to learn this pointless monstrosity. Kathy literally came around the corner at that instant, and my friend pointed in her direction and said “Her”. And she did! She tore up this piece, played with all the flair and feeling, gave me my first support from a performer. And since she was very cute as well, I decided to ask her out on a date. And it went well…started a conversation that has gone on for almost 40 years.
I’ve often thought that one of the biggest things that keeps the bond strong is our fervent interest in something that goes beyond us.
More pieces, and more performances, and we started a presenting group, Extension Works. Kathy became one of the premier new music performers in Boston. But that had its limits…it was sort of like high school…people got a reputation, a ranking, a place, and it was very hard to change that. And Kathy got more and more gigs in New York….
I took private lessons with two amazing teachers who totally shaped my music: Joe Maneri for harmony and counterpoint, and David Del Tredici for orchestration. But in Boston, you really had to have a degree to be taken seriously. I got into Harvard, and got a Ph.D, and then got into Tanglewood. This led to my first real commission, my first orchestra piece, my first performance for a crowd of more than 70 or so people. Oliver Knussen took him under his wing, and we became good friends.
Then Kathy and I left Boston, moved to Brooklyn, and everything changed. We found a world of fascinating musicians downtown, rock musicians who played classical, classical musicians who played rock, poets, rappers, choreographers, every sort of unusual ensemble and blend of styles. And most of all, there was an audience in New York, eager for new things.
Randy and I felt like, in New York, we were where we belonged. The thing about New York is that, though the competition is more intense, the opportunities are so much wider. If you’e unhappy with a scene, you can change it! It was also a place of misfits, people who were really ambitious, and not just for material wealth or superficial labels, but truly ambitious for their art.
Kathy began working with Eve Beglarian, and through Eve I learned so much about the state of electronic music, the possibilities of software and popular music production techniques in classical music. I continued to write for orchestra, strings, and classical chamber groups, and started blending these worlds together. I learned about turntables, and how to use them in classical music. I had ups and downs with my career, of course, but we both felt like we were participating in a lively, bustling world of expanding sonic creativity, and a freedom to use any medium we felt like.
And a Kathy shout-out to Eve Beglarian, too, who provided me with several baptisms-by-fire: improvising onstage, working electronics while playing keyboard, knowing what a MIDI cable was, ha ha….all that stuff.
Of course I kept writing pieces for Kathy, knowing that in these pieces I could ask for any crazy thing I wanted, and she would learn to do it. I can go off into the empyrean and wander, knowing that she will learn whatever wacko impossible passage I come back with, and breathe life, and fire, into it.
Being in New York continues to be the wildest ride, the greatest challenge, and the biggest education of our lives. I hope to continue to go through other phases—-more pieces, more stagings, and more strange and wonderful collaborators—-machines and humans! I’ve become a composer, too, recently, after having an epiphany a few years ago while performing graphic scores. I’d invented entire structures for improvisations I did to them, they took on a life beyond the art work! I thought: what if I just dropped the art work or kept it hidden in the back of my mind? So I started making pieces about secret art or made up art (the title of my first piece was “Secret Abstractions”).
We became New Yorkers. We have a wonderful life here, and are together almost all of the time, just not when composing or practicing. The pandemic brought us even closer together, more time for fun and relaxation, with concert life on hold for a while. We keep meeting new people who challenge our ideas, keep going to cultural events that take us new places, go the Met Opera as much as we can, 10 times this year, and work out. I was lucky to get a teaching job at CUNY City Tech just before the pandemic, and Kathy wound up with more piano students after lockdown started than she had before it. Of course things are coming back to how they used to be, and we are trying to keep some things from the pandemic era that were improvements.
One of the things I’ve discovered about Randy in our years in New York is his natural sense of theater: he has great ideas about what works well in front of an audience. This photo shoot with Aleks (Aleksandr Karjaka) was a birthday present from Randy to me. Interestingly, it was meant for just us, something to look back on in coming years. Randy conceived of the shoot in the style of the famous naked photo of John Lennon and Yoko Ono! What I love about this particular one is that Aleks really captured our senses of humor. As a performer, I get more opportunities to do that, but for Randy, it’s a kind of debut. -KS & RW
Written & performed by Daria Meyer
The sound of a bird’s wings woke up Margarita too early that morning. She hadn’t sleep well and kept restlessly thinking about last night’s event and that kept bothering her ever since. It was a warm evening. She was taking a long meaningless walk, noticing the last sparks of sunlight, then jumped into a Subway to go home. A poor man with a guitar entered the cart. He was short but strong complexion, he spread his legs wide like a fighter to keep the balance in a moving train and hit the strings. His guitar looked cheap and sounded old, slightly out of tune but you could see from scratches on it, it was his guitar and he loved it. A little birthday paper bag for change was hanging on grief. He sang something in Spanish, with all the desperation of his soul and trembling voice that took everyone’s attention. Margarita was bewitched by this pure energy. She just listened and enjoyed the performance as she would enjoy a concert in Carnegie Hall. The man finished singing, turned his head to her, stared for a moment confused by her wide smile. She was ready to applaud! He hesitated for one more second and then walked fast through the cart. And that’s when it came to her: “Good Lord, I should’ve given him some money!” Immediately she realized that she didn’t have any change, only one large bill… She rushed out of the cart, hoping to catch the man in the next cart, but what she would say to him? Her moves were unreasonable. Then she saw him leaving the train. He walked fast into the night on the windy platform with his guitar and hanging birthday bag.
It broke Margarita’s heart and reflected upon herself with shame. The shame of not being able to share her love and wealth with someone who needed it. All she gave him that was that stupid smile.
The sun hadn’t risen yet. But the birds outside were already singing, frosty morning wind touched silk curtains and brought a smell of spring earth and blooming plum trees into the room. Margarita’s body felt heavy from a restless night and a desire to move or being moved… Anxious and driven she decided not to bother her maid. She got up from her bed, put on an inappropriately beautiful pink dress… then covered it with a black coat. Wearing the dress didn’t make sense, no one would see it under the coat.
She tried on a hat on in front of the vintage mirror when she paused for a moment and realized how unfamiliar everything was all of the sudden: nor the smell of lavander, nor carefully picked frames for paintings reminded her of home. As one exits a place without plans on returning, Margarita left her apartment in a hurry.
Thinking about that poor musician from the train, she observes that she’s unreasonably hungry for such an hour.
An empty city early in the morning had not much to offer to a lady: wet streets, the smell of washed concrete walkways, rare cars passing by, store workers opening up their little places. A truck pulled over on a corner and an sad-looking Asian lady with a silly blue hat started helping a driver unload flowers, mostly yellow daffodils. Both looking exhausted and focused at the task at hand, the driver was hangover. Margarita stopped for a minute and thought about the chain of hands of whoever dealt with those flowers: starting with the botanist who put his life into growing those roses and magnolias, then workers who were instructed to water the plants in a certain way, they don’t know much of the science but they spend their days in those gardens; then all those beauties are given to a truck driver like this one, who doesn’t particularly care what he delivers, whether it’s potatoes or pipes, he
probably preferred flowers because they didn’t weigh much. Flowers would stay in a corner tent with this Asian lady for the whole day, experiencing all kinds of weather and temperature changes that the city can possibly offer (much more than one can handle). They survive a day or two. And then here is Margarita who already pulled out a few bills to kill that bouquet of these revolting, disturbing yellow daffodils, that would stand out very distinctly from her black spring coat. Nobody could possibly imagine how much tenderness and love she felt toward them. Out of the whole chain of hands, Margarita was the most caring one and the most merciless – daffodils would die in her hands before the sun goes down, she would never put them in a vase.
After walking several more blocks she found a place that offered her a cup of coffee and a lovely table on the balcony. Never in her life, she felt more thankful, yet, more anxious. “Something’s going to happen today,” she thought, and couldn’t stop milking this unexplainable excitement. She opened the book: a collection of poems and sonnets by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Sonnet 43 was her favorite. Margarita could never imagine loving someone like it was described in that sonnet.
“I love thee with the breath, Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death.”
Margarita also didn’t believe in God but she knew she was wrong.
Yet, it was a captivating fantasy of loving someone like this. She pulled out a fountain pen and wrote her name on a paper tablecloth. Margarita. Then she drew a few lines and shapes that she always drew out of boredom… distracted by loud pedestrians, she looked down the street. A cat crossed the street. Little bird zipped down from a rooftop and zigzagged in between the buildings. The shadow of a man in a black coat appeared on a crosswalk and disappeared behind the building, followed by a reflection of a jumping light. It was coming from the window of the building, which was cracked and slightly moving back and forth… that’s how the wind played with the light.
“Would you like more coffee?” – the waitress appeared next to the table.
A loud fire siren overlapped Margarita’s response.
So many little elements are floating around, crossing each other in different ways: sounds, colors, shapes, and smells. Distracting dance of life, perfectly mismatching puzzle pieces are glued together in the abstract collage, that illustrates inside and outside world at the same moment if you look at it carefully. Margarita loved acknowledging those kinds of moments. Her mind was always seeking a solid piece that would center the composition. Is there a center at all? Or what would be the center of the endless space?
Playing with those thoughts she left a few bills on a table and walked out. The cathedral around the corner was definitely a center of attention. Tall and stunning it appeared as a strong symbol of faith and power, a house of God who probably didn’t care about its existence. Does he care about hers? All of a sudden she felt like for the first time in her life she really wanted to know if he did. If God existed at all and if he knew that she existed. And how bad she struggled with her life that appeared to her like nothing but an unfinished abstract painting to which she didn’t know how to complete.
“If… you are there…,” she began, looking upon big cathedral gates, “tell me what kind of question I should ask?” The silence was inevitable, and yet… calming. Sometimes it is the best answer.
Walking down the street, she smiled at her first attempt to pray. The strong wind blew from the corner, catching her off guard. She looked straight and didn’t hear anything at all except the footsteps of a stranger in a black coat, who noticed her at the same moment.
“What kind of question should I ask?” echoed in her head.
“How do I love thee?
Let me count the ways.”
The first line of sonnet 43 stroked through her head like lightning. That moment Margarita knew: if this is the question she sought, then it was the right one…
I look forward to my Friday evenings every week. It’s usually the same script: grass finished steak, sweet potatoes with truffle salt, asparagus or other greens and pre-dinner high-end bourbon or whiskey. It’s what the beginnings of weekends are made of.
But some Friday evenings are rather self-indulgent. Recently I had over 1.5 lbs of steak with 2 sweet potatoes and a heaping of roasted asparagus drenched in olive oil. I even tossed in a couple spoon-fulls of ice cream at the end. All of this before 7 pm. I did not put anything into my body until after noon the next day. My body felt like an aircraft carrier that absorbed more fighter planes on deck that it could handle…
But I was ok with that.
It’s about acceptance and the willingness to let myself go a little overboard sometimes. I have to have off days in order to feel like I’ve knocked it out of the park on my good days. It’s being aware that I have a propensity to have nights like this to become in touch with who I really am.
That being said, in order to truly love myself, I not only have to become accepting of my extravagance but also weigh the worth of it. Do I want to feel smoked the next day in exchange for a few extra mouthfuls (okay—maybe 10 extra mouthfuls) the evening before?
Being okay with going a little overboard can create a pathway to
understand why I think I’m deserving of it. Most of the time, I go overboard and I know during the time that I am and still do it. Other times I can stop myself and think it through that I am about to go too far and I stop.
How do we balance all of this? Do we need to? Or is it just understanding ourselves a little better so that we can truly respect and love who we are?
After listening to a podcast about 6 months ago (on one of the 4-5 I religiously listen to) on self love and
respect, I decided to buy the book by the author being interviewed. When I got the book in the mail, I did an internal eye-roll to myself. I thought: “do I really need help with this? I seem like a guy who has things together and is raising a healthy family.”
But I did need help. And I needed to read the book. I’ve actually re-read several passages several times.
One of the resounding mantras of the book is looking at myself in the mirror and saying: “I love myself” over and over. And when I feel stressed, I revert back to that. And it works for me.
I’m not saying to get a self help book or shrink. (I have had therapists in my past and I’ve gotten and used some self-help books, but I know they aren’t for everyone). But I do think that having a daily axiom or aphorism to adhere to is an extremely important reminder of self acceptance. It’ll help you bounce back quickly and get you back on your roadway without remorse.
Carve out your pathway to be the best of yourself that you can to fulfill your goals. Know that it can’t be 100% foolproof because no one wants to live that way. Falling off the wagon is normal. Having the self reliance to get back on it is what it’s all about.
Our bodies and minds weren’t made to be perfect. We are supposed to have hiccups when reaching for our pinnacles. Just make sure you have a method to cure yourself of the hiccups when you have them and maybe even laugh along when you get those hiccups.
Or have a 2 lb steak when you really feel like it. Because it’s sometimes worth it. And sometimes you actually deserve it and then kick back and feel the (incredibly) full intoxication of 500 grams of protein.
Just make sure to wake up the next morning and tell yourself that you love yourself. Because you deserve that too. -CT
with Sterl On Style
Is it that vintage broach from your eccentric yet elegant grand-mother?
Is it a designer it bag you’ve had your eye on? Is it that limited edition designer/artist sneaker collab? Those rare gem earrings you bought when you were traveling to New Deli or Dubai?
Is it that hand-crafted straw bag you picked up while on Vacay in the Maldives?
Blow the dust off of those accessories and make them new again. Or perhaps it’s time to let them go, and bring in something NEW that says “here I am” today.
Choose an accessory that sparks inspiration and the imagination. Wear something a little EXTRA will put a little extra spring in your step, like a secret power.
I love wearing my sparkly STAR pin.
Why a star? David Bowie is one of my all-time favorite style icons. Bowie is eternally the Star Man afterall. And I often feel I am the “woman that fell to earth, not always fitting in the past present or future here. And as a personal stylist, I love styling an individual’s inner brilliance to shine on the outside like the stars they truly are.
Wearing that something extra may put an extra spark in your day, and may just add a little sparkle in someone else’s day, too. That something extra that glimmers an insight into who you are now, where you’ve been, or what you are summoning in the near future…
Give yourself permission to be a little extra, treat yourself to that designer “it” bag you’ve had your eye on, When you give yourself permission to bring something new into your life, it will lift your mood and you’ll be amazed at what other goodness you will attract into your life.
It may just put an extra spark in your step. It may put a spark in someone else’s life, too.
So live a little, Be daring, Be a little (or a lot) extra… wear something extra that says “here I am” today.
Treat yourself. It’s YOU time! Accessorize to celebrate yourself, with style! -TS
Howard Globus – IT on Demand!
“The Cloud” is a term that is designed to cause person to nod their head, as if to say “Ah, Bach” and glance knowing at the speaker. It’s a catch all term that holds vast meaning for some and simple bewilderment of others. Like NFTs or Blockchain. Or tipping at Christmas time.
The simplest way to think of The Cloud is as “Someone Else’s Servers”. As a everyman or everywoman, all servers may be “Someone Else’s Servers” to you. But here is what I mean. The Cloud are servers that you, or your company, doesn’t own and haven’t invested money upfront to purchase.
In the olden days, like twenty or thirty years ago, when computing power was required to process large amounts of data or run an application or host a website, you or someone in your company had to purchase the iron and silica (the metal and chip) to run the processes. The server or servers may have been set up under someone’s desk, or in a back closet or room or even offsite in a data center where there were rows and rows of other servers with dedicated power and cooling. The important bit was that you owned the hardware. That was a capital expenditure, a CapEx cost that would require money be invested in the hardware and then personnel costs for the care and feeding of the hardware, specialists who knew what they were doing ot keep the operating systems up and running and updated and backed up and deal with any nasty business that might have come from a hacker or errant code.
When the internet took off, services started to be offered online by the industries that move our lives. Things like online banking, credit card servicing, online shopping, auctions, entertainment, early social media, dating and pornography were served up to any who could get online. These services were hosted on those servers in offices and data centers and owned by the companies providing the services.
Then about fifteen years ago there as a shift. Rather than purchasing the hardware and running the servers and the power and cooling themselves, large companies and small companies and even individuals started to use distributed computing “In The Cloud”. These were servers or portions of servers that were hosted in Amazon data centers and other independent providers data centers where there was no requirement for a large CapEx, initial investment in the hardware. There was no need to maintain or manage the servers, the power, the cooling or the storage of these Cloud instances. Services could be brought online or taken offline without a large investment of money and no need to amortize the costs over years to reap the maximum tax benefits of a large infrastructure investment.
Today, using Cloud based services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft’s Azure Platform or Google Cloud a developer or designer can bring up a complex set of services to manage end user websites, backend databases, security services and advanced mathematical formulas to run analysis or planning. An idea can go from thought to Minimum Viable Product – a product that can actually do something without a whole lot of bells and whistles but more than a proof of concept – in a matter of days or weeks. These services are designed to fit pieces together like Legos or building blocks to create great towering structures.
So why should we care? It’s easier to bring ideas and products to market – that’s good, right? It’s cheaper to bring things online – so that’s good, right?
There are three areas that we as end users should be aware of as more services move to Cloud Services. The first is security. Where is the data stored, is it stored properly, is it backed up (if you’re running your business on it) and who is responsible for the day-to-day tasks, the care and feeding that used ot be done by in house, hired professionals. It is easy to think that because the services are running in The Cloud and ’t’s not my server, I’m not responsible for it. Every Cloud provider has terms of service that you need to be aware of and recognize what is the provider’s responsibility, what is shared responsibility and what is ultimately your responsibility. Most Cloud providers do not take responsibility for the data on the servers, so it is up to you to secure it and back it up.
Second, with a widening gap of systems and services moving to the cloud and fewer in house specialty personnel to manage the systems, there is a skills gap that can affect a company’s ability to maintain full functionality. As noted, the day-to-day tasks can quickly be overlooked and that may lead to data loss or worse.
Finally, there is a real ecological impact to Cloud based services. These services are offered by companies that build vast data centers that require enormous amounts of cooling and power and can have a negative impact on the surrounding communities. In the age of social responsibility or the desire to have companies show social responsibility, this needs to be taken into account.
Cloud services are here, and the decentralization of the data center means that more services will be moving to the Cloud. It’s important to keep in mind, all of these will still run on a server, just someone else’s server. It’s your data and ultimately still your responsibility.