Broadacre City: Just My Imagination?

Frank Lloyd Wright portrait

A few years ago I blogged about an imagined quote from  Fredric Chopin.

trevor.pratt, flickr
trevor.pratt, flickr

This happened again recently. I know I’ve seen archival footage of Frank Lloyd Wright standing over the model of Broadacre City (now on view at the Museum of Modern Art through June 1), his vision of urban design. He looks imposing, unshakeable in his conviction that this is how cities should be designed and built. I’ve searched and searched and searched, but haven’t found a thing. Maybe I dreamed it. Or maybe it’s a case of wishful thinking gone haywire. Or maybe I’m going insane. Perhaps a visit to MoMA will clear things up.

In the meantime, here’s me playing a Chopin prelude on the guitar, recorded a few years ago at Blue Mountain Center. Chopin composed it for piano, of course, but this piece was transcribed by Francisco Tarrega.


More music here.


Perfect! Print!

Blue Mountain Center Boathouse

There was a time when I believed it was possible to achieve perfection in art. (See Practice, Practice by yours truly in Helen Literary Magazine.)

Here’s me playing one of the first classical pieces I learned, Lagrima by Francisco Tarrega, recorded at the Blue Mountain Center boathouse (hence the sloshing sounds). I’m playing my guitar, not BMC’s beautiful Robert L. Vincent guitar.

The sheet music represents a kind of ideal; it is very clear what notes are to be played and it is unforgiving. Over the course of my guitar-playing life, I’ve played this piece thousands of times; it is hardwired in my brain and fingers. It’s about 130 notes total, twice that with the repeats. It’s not especially technically challenging  but whenever I perform it I always misplay at least one note. Always.

Here’s a still pulled from A Life’s Work.

We shot this interview at a lovely B&B in Chicago. That circled bit you see? That’s a framed, atmospheric photo of a large elm tree. It was on the mantle in this room and we tried to hang it where the arrow points. We tried to use gaffer tape but it wouldn’t hold. We didn’t want to make holes in the wall, and pressed for time, we let it go and placed it where you see it.

When I look at a shot from this interview I think, I should have tried harder to get that picture up there in the background. That would have made the shot perfect!

So this documentary, I’m sorry to say, will not be perfect. I’ve accepted that; I stopped believing in perfection in art (I never believed it was possible in people and life) a long long time ago.

But I am not dismayed, because there is something more exciting than perfection anyway: the happy accident. And A Life’s Work, like life, is full of happy accidents, like this one. There are many more, too, I’m sure. I just need to be attuned to them. And that is my job as I begin editing the whole film.

I’d love to hear about your happy accidents. Care to share?

Related: More classical guitar music.


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What’s A Life’s Work about? It’s a documentary about people engaged in projects they won’t see completed in their lifetimes. You can find out more on this page.

We recently ran a crowdfunding campaign and raised enough to pay an animator and license half of the archival footage the film requires. We need just a bit more to pay for licensing the other half of the archival footage, sound mixing, color correction, E&O insurance and a bunch of smaller things. When that’s done, the film is done! It’s really very VERY close!

So here’s how you can help get this film out to the world. It’s very simple: click the button…

Donate Now!

… and enter the amount you want to contribute (as little as $5, as much as $50,000) and the other specifics. That’s it. No login or registration required. Your contribution does not line my pocket; because the film is fiscally sponsored by the New York Foundation for the Arts, all money given this way is overseen by them and is guaranteed to go toward the completion of this film. Being fiscally sponsored also means that your contribution is tax-deductible. So why not do it? The amount doesn’t matter as much as the fact that you’re helping to bring a work of art into the world. And that, I think, is really exciting!

Questions? Email me at d a v i d ( aT } b l o o d o r a n g e f i l m s {d o t] c o m[/color-box]

Music, or How to Stay Sane in the Studio

It’s easy to go batty when you spend day after day holed up in the studio. I’m not complaining, it’s a great problem to have, but I definitely need to make time in my day to do something other than work. When I’m stuck, or when I want to break up the monotony, or when I want to procrastinate, I pick up my guitar for a few minutes. It’s a wonderful reset button.

Here’s what’s been on heavy rotation in my studio at the MacDowell Colony:

My guitar makes itself at home in the MacDowell Colony’s New Hampshire studio.

Bowie, Ziggy Stardust and Rebel Rebel (bossa, Seu Jorge version)

Galaxie 500, Oblivious and Tugboat

Jens Lekman, Tram No. 7 to Heaven

Neil Young, Cinnamon Girl and Cortez the Killer

Beatles, Every Little Thing

Villa Lobos, Prelude Nos. 2, 3, & 4

Satie, Gymnopedies No. 1

Tarrega, Lagrima and Adelita

Logy, Partita A-moll

(You can hear me playing some of the classical pieces on the Music page.)

I’ve also fallen in with a few musicians, Alex the nonfiction writing uke player, Cindy the painter banjo player, and Christian the poet guitarist. We play mostly old school country. I kind of follow.

(Cover photo by Peter LaMastro.)