Response to Ebenezer (David’s Post)

Although I cannot ever fully understand what it’s like to be in your shoes, your post really hit home. Coming from a mixed background, I do sometimes struggle with my identity. I father is Italian and my mother is Ecuadorian and Spanish. Despite this fact, I grew up pretty ‘”ethnically neutral”. I grew up only speaking English even though with my grandparents begging me to learn the languages and growing up in a predominantly mixed area (Queens, New York). My family has a running joke that the only thing Italian about me is my first name and the only Spanish thing about me is my last night. After living almost two decades, my biggest regret and my biggest struggle were never embracing where I come from. Like you, I do embrace who I am through God. Although I don’t know much about what it means to be Spanish or Italian, I know what it means to believe in God (this is something that I feel I learned through my culture.) Catholicism has always and will always play a pinnacle role in life, and I always turn to it when I feel lost. Sometimes I feel like the only thing I know about myself is that I am Catholic. I also learn through cooking. Food is huge in both cultures (at least in my family). My father has recipe books from his grandmother and aunts from Naples, and my mom learned everything she knows about cooking from her mother.  Through this, I was able to build a bond, not like those my fluent speaking cousins could with my grandparents. I was also indirectly able to connect to my roots through cooking whether it be from making sauce and mozzarella, or to cooking pernil. These two things have been my passion and my doorway to who the stories of my past. Through these things, I know that I can find comfort and rest easy knowing who I am. Very well said, David.

The Real Deal

Being a Catholic and attending Catholic middle school, it was every guy’s dream to get an invitation to apply to Regis Jesuit High School. This school was so selective, it sent out invitations to only the top three Catholic males in the eighth grade. The young men who attend this school are all known and all go to the top schools in the country. Another huge plus is that this school is free. Just getting an invitation to this school was an honor to me. I went through with the exam and the interview with two of my friends. One was rejected at the interview stage and the other went on to attend the school. I was lucky enough to be accepted into the school and was ecstatic to attend. Everybody in my family was pressuring me into taking the acceptance, and telling me “how set your life is going to be”.  I graduated the eighth grade thinking I was going to attend this school. Everything changed in September that year though. I couldn’t go this school, it didn’t feel right. I ended up changing my mind and choosing to go to St. Francis Preparatory (with a scholarship) three days before the first day of school. A similar thing happened to me last year when choosing schools. I was between Macaulay and Brown. With encouragement from my guidance counselor, I chose to come here and I can say I made the right decision. What I find most fascinating is that the 14-year-old me that made the decision to go to St. Francis Prep indirectly chose Macaulay as well. If I never chose St. Francis, I probably would not have come here, and my college path would be much different. I think we’re all guided by something, and I think all things happen for a reason. I think there is a greater force out there that is responsible for the things that happen, and sometimes if you just listen to what you feel inside, you find what you’re looking for. It is the real deal.

Sound and Vision Blog 10

In Bowie’s “Sounds and Vision”, there were different instruments to follow, but Beck’s took the cake in being an array of sounds.  The retelling of Bowie’s “Sounds and Vision” was greater in size, but I  wouldn’t call it the better version. Although I found Beck’s version to be visually stunning and beautiful, I got overwhelmed by the intensity of the sound. I was amazed by some elements in Beck’s performance of the piece. He combined different elements from different genres and connected and made all the pieces fit and created something that I would compare to a well-oiled machine. I saw gospel singers, guitarists, and a string orchestra play with what looked to be brass instruments and an acoustic guitar. I applaud Beck’s performance, but I prefer the original. The best cover for a David Bowie song is Nirvana’s “The Man Who Sold the World”.

The nature of Jazz is improvisation that builds off one another in a group. From what I expected to be disjointed was very organized and congruent in the Latin Jazz Concert at Lehman. The individuals performing showed their skills in their solo pieces, and I think this stood out most in “Super Ray”. Although I found it difficult to follow individual instrumental groups in the band, the sounds did come together in harmony like jazz.

Blog 7 and 8

I.        Both the Judge’s monologue in Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann and Man on Wire deal with crime. The crime Phillipe Petit committed and the crimes Judge Soderberg spoke about are not the same, however. Phillipe’s crime is one driven by passion and love for the art (of tightrope walking) while the crimes the judge speaks about are crimes driven by lust and greed. These crimes include rape, murder, and robbery.

II.        Judge Soderberg gets both Phillipe Petit as well as Jazlyn and Tillie on the same day. This judge is Claire’s husband, and this bridge in the characters is what ties them together. The judge almost has a predetermined outlook on the characters in which he thinks of Tillie and Jazzlyn as bottom feeder criminals and prostitutes and sees Corrigan as nothing more than their pimp. Doubling up on both of these cases show the different walks of life in which these people come from while still highlighting a connection they make with one another (a prominent judge, two prostitutes, and an Irish missionary).

III.       The prologue in Let the Great World Spin tells the story of the day Phillipe Petit crossed a wire connecting the World Trade Center Towers. It tells how all of New York hushed in amazement over the great feat that was being done over their heads. People halted their daily commutes to watch this man do what was thought to be impossible and perhaps foolish. As the two buildings were bridged that day by the tightrope cable, people from different walks of life crossed paths as well. It was on that very day on August 7, 1974, that said events would take place. We learn Tillie and Jazzlyn get arrested, Corrigan dies, Claire has the women from counseling over, and Judge Soderberg presides over both the tightrope walker as well as Jazzlyn and Tillie. Whether they knew it or not, these people would affect each other in one way or another.

The connection that surprised me the most was the one of Corrigan and Adelita. Knowing he was a Catholic monk and that he had to take a vow of celibacy, I was truly shocked when we first learned how intimate their relationship truly was. With talks of furthering their relationship, it was soon evident that Corrigan showed interest in leaving his duties as a monk and eventually his duties as a priest. I feel like this was solidified in having sex with Adelita. I think its also interesting in noting the fact that neither Corrigan nor Adelita were native to New York, or the United States for that manner. Adelita is from Guatemala while Corrigan’s original home was Ireland.

A connection that makes my heart skip a beat is that of Jaslyn and the tightrope walker. Jaslyn carries a photo of Phillipe Petit in her pocket in memory of her mother. When she looks at it, she wonders how something so beautiful can happen the same day just hours before of something so wicked taking form (the death of her mother).  This was significant to me because we should all be aware of fleeting time. The notion of significant events happening in concert with one another. This goes well with a book like this because it is a perfect example of the networks this book establishes among its characters.

Blog 6

Stairway to Heaven– Led Zeppelin


This song holds great importance to music in general. The guitar solo is thought to be the most famous in all of Rock. I was first turned onto Led Zeppelin, and other groups of music in this genre, last summer when my brother showed me Black Dog. When I listen to this band, I think of how they mastered their instruments. I have always been in love with how the guitar sounds and how a master can play. This group made me fascinated with how an instrument can sound so different but so similar every time I heard it. I got into Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana and of course Jimi Hendrix during this time. Next thing I know the summer is a month in and the music on my iPhone is not what it once was. I had realized I had deleted a majority of the rap and pop from my phone and instead had a lot more rock n’ roll. To me, this genre of music has always represented a free will and free feeling group of people. It represents the rebellious and free feeling youth of the 60s and 70s that made music meaningful. Stairway to Heaven has always been a song of joy to me. The guitar solo specifically makes me feel happy. It gives me a burst of energy and I feel a surge of emotion. I can’t help but hum along to the melody that they create. I think of light colors when I listen to this song. It reminds me of things associated with heaven—colors like white, cream, green and gold. I think of a stairway to heaven that continues forever. This has become my favorite song and has changed my taste in music heavily. I find myself enjoying music similar to this, and preferring it to over the contemporary music I once listened to religiously.



What to Listen to in Music

Aaron Copland November was an American composer, composition teacher, writer, and a conductor of his personal and other American songs. He was known by the world as “the Dean of American Composers.” The exposed, gradually shifting melodies in a lot of his works are standard in what many think to be the sound of American music. He is identified for the works he wrote in the 30s and 40s in a purposely accessible style known as “populist”. Works in this manner include the ballets Billy the Kid, Appalachian, and Rodeo. In addition to ballet and orchestral works, he created music in other categories including vocals, opera, and chamber music.

To me, the meaning of music lies in one’s experience with it. With this interpretation in mind, there is no set definition. The meaning changes with new experiences in music. As Copland stated in What to Listen to in Music, the opportunities for listening to music increases as well as the quality of it. However, just because you have access to it, it doesn’t mean you fully grasp what it means to be musical. Copland believes “that all music has an expressive power…but that all music has a certain meaning behind the notes and that the meanings behind the notes constitute, after all, what the piece is saying, what the piece is about”. Copland believes that there is a meaning to music, but the meaning cannot be answered in words. People, all of whom have different experiences and come from different backgrounds, interpret these pieces differently. There is no concrete definition for music for the simple reason that people identify to different things.

I think Beethoven is easier to pin down than Tchaikovsky. In watching the video, I was able to notice a pattern in his symphony. I noticed a lot of high points followed by a lot of lows. The song, however, can be more easily interpreted than Tchaikovsky’s (or can be defined differently). In listening to Beethoven, the mood of the music often changed with how I felt and that was most notable toward the end. Because Swan Lake is played so frequently during the holiday season, it takes the essence and practically embodies a “jolly spirit”. The common experience with Swan Lake is that of joy and happiness while Beethoven’s 9th Symphony 1st movement isn’t really tied down to any time or event.


“From War” by C.K. Williams

Fall’s first freshnesss, strange: the season’s ceaseless wheel,

starlings starting south, the annealed leaves ready to release,

yet still those columns of nothingness rise from their own ruins,

their twisted carcasses of steel and rise still fume, and still,

one by one, tacked up on walls by hopeful lovers, husbands, wives,

the absent faces wait, already tattering, fading, going out.

These things that happen in the particle of time we have to be alive,

these violations which almost more than altar, ark, or mosque embody sanctity by

enacting sanctity so precisely sanctity’s desecration.

These voices of bereavement asking of us what isn’t to be given.

These suddenly smudged images of consonance and peace.

These fearful burdens to borne: complicity, contrition, grief.