Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Happy New Year 2011: "May all beings ... be kind-of-okay"

After a year like 2010 you don't want to push your luck.

"May All Beings Be Happy" may be pushing it a bit.

2010 was one of the lousiest years in recent Shakuhachidom history if you don't look at things philosophically.

We lost friend, bamboo-pioneer and raconteur Tom Deaver at a young age.

Yokoyama Katsuya-sensei's health had been flagging for some years, but that didn't lessen the loss to Japanese music lovers and students when he passed from this Earth.

Dr. Tsuneko Tsukitani, professor at Osaka University of the Arts, Japan's leading expert on the shakuhachi, died of cancer, again too young.

Teacher/performer Phil 'Nyokai' James suffered a stroke which thank god didn't take him, but it certainly wrecked havoc in his life.

After a car jumped a curb and smashed into our dear Riley Lee, we're happy that he is is alive and healing, but he paid for it with a literal pound, or two, of flesh.

The news that Australian shakuhachi master Andrew McGregor is going into retirement is unhappy news indeed.

Many of us lesser mortals have had our fair share of challenges this year. Let's not even mention The Economy and the number of tragic disasters worldwide like the earthquake in Haiti and more tsunamis in Indonesia. But we'll stop with that and move on ...

Things to be grateful for:
, the web radio brainchild of musician/composer Michael Doherty was launched.

Kurahashi Yodo II, Alcvin Ryuzen Ramos and Michael Chikuzen Gould have been traveling about, performing, teaching and spreading shakuhachi good will. Kakizakai Kaoru-sensei, a "teachers' teacher" has been touring, teaching and performing. I was fortunate enough to take class with him this year in West Los Angeles. David Wheeler's Shakuhachi Camp of the Rockies had another great year by all accounts. Kiku Day finished her PhD. The European Shakuhachi Society has steadily grown. John Singer has been performing. Ronnie Nyogetsu Reishin Seldin, the Loving Spoonful-and-a-Half of Shakuhachidom, has been active and teaching.

(Many more positive advances from myriad players and performers and teachers — more than I can list.)

There have been very good benefit efforts by Phil Nyokai James' friends in the wake of his continuing recovery.

And the rest of Shakuhachi Forum seems to be getting along surprisingly well. Brian Tairaku Ritchie is in good humor and healing well from his multiple identity gymnastics this year — but I must admit that is the pot calling the kettle black from this multifaceted (some would say "two-faced")author.

Oh, and I would be remiss not to mention that Xorst Xenmeister has been seen and heard in hither and yon parts ... and that my favorite YouTube video group STAN has been unusually productive, kind of like a thick bronchial condition.

So from me to you, be as happy as you can or want to be this New Year of 2011.

I leave you now to reflect on an old Italian saying passed onto me by Father William J. Fulco, SJ from his mother who is ... an old Italian, of course:

"When you want to talk, shut up."

With fondness and due negligence,

— Chris M.

Post Script: Apparently I spoke too soon about people on Shakuhachi BBQ Forum getting along well. The Freaks Vs. Geeks Bore Wars are on again...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The øbject of my affection: a shakuhachi lesson with Don Van Vleit


you need that stink on there. then you have to get that stink onto your music.
Captain Beefheart