Saturday, December 29, 2007

On Life :: Tabula Rasa Part II

thinker 15_PS1
Sorry to disappear there for a few days folks. I lost my internet connection/account on Wednesday, and this is the first chance I've had to make it to the Aspen Public Library to check my email and such. I've been working long hours the past several days, and will be working feverishly for the next 7 days or so to get my office packed up (and into storage), and the last of my affairs concluded here in Aspen.

I'm still debating as to whether or not I will continue with my Tabula Rasa series - which may completely replace/supercede my "Year End" post that I mentioned a while back.

For now - my Tabula Rasa Part II will just be this old adage....

"A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush."

I will post as I can in the next couple of weeks - but it will not be until after Jan 8th or 9th until I can get back on a regular schedule.

Take care, and Happy New Year!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas from Aspen

Merry Christmas to all of you, especially my new blog/tanguera friends...Happy Holidays to you and is a link to my Christmas message I sent out to my family and friends....
Merry Christmas from Aspen
Merry Christmas from Aspen

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Life :: Merry Christmas from the family by Robert Earl Keen

Forgive the very politically incorrect part about the Mexican boyfriend - that part makes me uncomfortable - but rest is pretty hilarious.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Life :: The Aspen Ski Bum Myth

Audi A8L
I've noticed a couple of ski bums living in the old victorian house next door. I've also noticed that they are driving an Audi A8L. This is the Audi luxury flagship and starts at $120,000 U.S. You see, in Aspen, the six figure automobile is pretty much at the bottom of the economic ladder - so it makes sense that ski bums would be driving them. There are much more expensive cars here (mostly seen in the summer) - Bentleys, Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini. Cars in the $250,000 to $1,000,000 range.

So, the old myth of the ski bums living in a VW bus - bartending, carpentering - doing whatever it took too ski - is a just that - an old myth, at least in Aspen. And old myths never die...

The Aspen ski bum is likely the Ivy league educated daughter or son of Mommy and Daddy dearest. Nine and ten figure net worths (for the parents) are not uncommon here. Yes, that's right folks, that's $100,000,000 and up. They have graduated from college and don't yet know what to do with themselves. They are in Aspen to live the dream, the myth of the ski bum - for a season or perhaps a few.

I'm exaggerating of course, a bit. There are still the real ski bums - who have carpentering or bartending or property managing for years - some for forty years or more. These are the ones like "the rest of us" - struggling to make ends meet - living in market capped - equity controlled "employee" housing. That's the only really affordable housing here. Studios here start at $600k - as do single wide, tiny mobile homes. To rent a room - do the "roommate" gig - is $1,500 a month now. Two years ago it was $500. That's a 150% increase per year.

A friend of mine, another builder, bought a non-conforming lot on the edge of Aspen's only mobile home park. The city has made it so you can now build a permanent residence where a mobile home once was. He used to joke that he had the only $1.5 million dollar mobile home in the world. It's not a mobile home by any means - it's about 3,000 square feet - a very nice contemporary home with unobstructed views of Aspen Mountain.

Now, he jokes that he owns the only $3.8 million dollar mobile home in the world - okay - "$3.8 million dollar home in a mobile home park" - there is a difference. At least that was two years ago. Homes are now reaching $2,000 per square foot sales price-wise. So, 3,000sf x $2,000/sf equals about $6,000,0000.

I would estimate the mobile home park downgrade would be at least a, call it $5 mil...$5,000,000 "affordable housing"...

Only in Aspen...

Friday, December 21, 2007

Life :: Quotes from my journal

My Journals
It's a huge snow storm - a blizzard this morning. As such, I am working on a long post - "My Year in Review". The coming of Christmas and the New Year always puts me in a reflective mood. So, I will be recapping my year for the world to read about.

In the meantime, here are a few things that I wrote in my journal a few years ago - not my words - but quotes that I like...

"Any life, no matter how long and complex it may be, is made up of a single moment - the moment in which a man finds out, once and for all, who he is."
Jorge Luis Borges

I saw all the things I feared, and which feared me, had nothing good nor bad in them save insofar as the mind was affected by them.
Spinoza, Dutch Philosopher

There is nothing nobler or more admirable than when two people who see eye to eye keep house as husband and wife - confounding their enemies and delighting their friends.

"Be good and you will be lonesome and you will be a lie and you will live to regret it."
Mark Twain

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Life :: My favorite Christmas Movie

Tina @ siguiendo mi corazón just made a post that reminded me of my favorite Christmas movie - "Love Actually". It came out in 2003 and I saw it in Aspen just before Christmas. I was only a few months out of my divorce - and was feeling very alone in the world. I saw it by myself - and as I recall, I had to sit there at the end - through the ending credits - and compose myself before I walked out. It definitely made me cry. But, it's a "feel good" movie - and probably qualifies as a "chick flick" - a "must see" if you ask me.

I am man enough to admit that I like "chick flicks" enough to cry at a chick flick...and man enough to admit it...

It's a good it...or order it on NetFlix...

P.S. The very best scene is at the end of the trailer...when Hugh Grant (as the PM of England) and his security guard/driver start singing Christmas carols and the little girls start dancing (hip-hop-like) with joy...very funny...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Universe :: Winter Solstice

The winter solstice is just a few days away...I took this photograph on a hike up the mountain last night, under the pale moonlight.
Winter Solstice

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Graphic Tango (with some "Life" mixed in...)

[Not my photo and I don't know who to credit...sorry...]
Have you ever had a "holyshitwhatthefuckwasthat?" dance? I've had one or two in the three years or so I have been dancing. It wasn't anything sexual or sensual or sexy...but it was based more on the connection and the feeling and the music and the room and the moment - and the woman of course. Kinda like the stars were all aligned perfectly in those moments of the dance. I think most dancers, mostly followers, know this as a "tangasm".

I was just walking to the store to get some cereal for lunch and other singleguybachelorfood and this popped into my head for some reason. Then, right on the heels of that thought, a memory of an orgasm I once had "popped" into my head.

Bear with me, this was not an ordinary orgasm - but an orgasm in the most spiritual sense. Remember my post the other day about the Tango Dream Dance? Well, this orgasm was kinda like that. "A-once-in-a-life-time-I-would-consider-myself-blessed-even-if-it-never-happens-again-and-I-hope-I-will-remember-it-with-my-dying-breath-orgasm."

So, this was several years ago - "pre-tango". She was a California woman that I had been having a long distance relationship with for several months. This was our first time in bed together - naked. Well, she was naked and I was (at this point) shirtless with my jeans still on.

I was basically "partaking" of her...of her body...caressing her smooth skin with my hands...with my body....with my lips. I would travel up her body from the soles of her feet, kissing and caressing my way up her thighs, detouring to her belly, lingering around her navel, then along her rib cage, along the sides of her breasts, to her collar bones, her neck, her jaw, the flat spot on her cheek right in front of her ear and finally to her lips - kissing her deeply. She was a good kisser.

This went on for about twenty or thirty minutes or so - me shirtless with my jeans still on. Then, almost like an involuntary reflex, I straightened up - on my knees, straddling one of her legs - and was now upright. She was still prone on the bed, just laying there looking at me. She was probably wondering when I was going to take my jeans off.

At first it felt like I needed to do a big "kitty cat" stretch - you know - the big ones we all do in the morning. I started to arch backwards a bit, then forward, almost like I was about to have a stomach cramp - but with no pain - my core was contracting. Imagine this pulsing, rolling, contracting and arching feeling - pulsing and rolling upwards and downwards through my torso. I think I was even moaning. It pulsed through me for a good 20 seconds or so - perhaps longer.

There was no doubt in my mind, nor in hers, that I was having a tremendous orgasm. This was a "torso centered", non-genital orgasm - "tantric" if you will. And then I collapsed onto her - exhausted - and then I whispered in her ear... "holyshitwhatthefuckwasthat?" It scared me at first - it scared her. Neither of us had ever experienced or witnessed anything like this. We didn't know what it was, or what to think.

It was non-genital in that nothing happened down there - no "special" feelings - no evidence of a genital orgasm - nothing. It was all contained in my torso - from just below my navel to just above my solar plexus. Orgasmic bliss...without having sex...with one party's jeans still on. Amazing. Yes, it was amazing.

In the hours and days afterwards, we talked about it - and both of us were pretty sure it came from being pent-up, all verbal, and non-physical for so many months that we were at a distance. Pent up for months, and then being released all a once in some kind of tantric orgasmic sensory overload - triggered by skin to skin contact and some deep, passionate kisses.

This orgasm - and this woman - are only memories to me now. And that's okay - I consider myself blessed to have them.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Houston Tango Festival - Jan 25-27, 2008

The Houston Tango Festival is right around the corner, as is the San Diego Tango Festival Jan 3-6.


"The Invitation" video by Mikas of the Houston Tango Community::

"The Dream" video by Mikas also...The song on this video is "Mi Otra Mitad de Naranja" ... composed by Glover Gill of Austin Texas ... and performed by the Tosca String Quartet of Austin Texas ... it's on their Tosca Tango Orchestra soundtrack CD from the motion picture "Waking Life" ...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Life :: 2007 World Snow Polo Championships [Aspen]

I just walked over and took a few shots of the first chukker. This is the shot I like the best. This is one of the nice things about Aspen. There are things to do here that you don't see anywhere else in the world. It was 14 degrees farenheit. This is Nacho Figueras - a Polo Ralph Lauren model & polo player for the RL sponsored Black Watch Polo Team. (FYI, I'm back here for a few weeks concluding some business, and packing up some of my final things.)

Nacho Figueras - Ralph Lauren Polo Model

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Universe :: Baraka [Film]

I suppose you would have to call this a visual documentary. No dialog, no spoken words whatsoever. But its message is clear. Stunning images, great music. A "must see" film - and a great Christmas or Hanukkah gift. Filmed in 70mm by Ron Fricke and Mark Madgison - released in 1992. Best viewed on a home theater system...large screen...with a killer surround sound system...turn up the subwoofer.

Here is a link to more information about the film.

Embedding disabled...

Monday, December 10, 2007

Tango Dream Dance

Gustav Klimt - The Kiss
Gustav Klimt - The Kiss

While we're on the subject of Tango dreams, I will continue to share mine...

This is a dream I had several months ago, possibly as far back as a year ago. But I still remember it very vividly. In this dream, I was dancing tango with a woman. The room was very dark and we were alone - perhaps at home. This dream dance began to take on an ethereal quality. It was as if our bodies, our auras, our energy fields began to merge into one. At first, this merging seemed vaporous, surficial - the fusion was only skin deep. Our dance continued, and the more we danced, the deeper our union became. By the end of the dance, it was as if we were now one - standing inside each other.

The feelings I had in the dream were like a buzzing, electric, crackling sensation as our bodies and souls came together. The emotions I felt were love, warmth, and sublime contentment. These emotions and physical sensations from the dream were carried over into my waking reality. As I lay there, now fully awake, I languished in what I was feeling - not wanting it to end. For a split second I asked myself - was this a dream, or was it real?

It was almost as if I had been making love to this woman in my sleep. But I was alone in my cold bed. If love can be made non-sexually, if orgasmic bliss can be reached whilst fully clothed and dancing tango - two bodies, two souls, two energetic beings - fully joined into one - then this dream achieved it. As I lay there awake and thinking, the image of Gustav Klimt's "The Kiss" came into my mind. This painting most closely resembles the imagery of what happened in my dream - and capturing the emotions I felt.

The beauty of this dream - perhaps the only one like this in my life that I recall - is that those profound emotions and physical sensations carried over into my waking life. And I still carry them with me today...

Sunday, December 9, 2007

A Tango Dream

Photo by Kevin Rolly on Flickr...

I had a dream night before last. My friend Roxanne, who now lives in Houston, was in it. She doesn't dance tango. I haven't seen her in about two years now and our communication is sporadic.

What I can remember of the dream is me walking through a large crowd - at a tango festival of some sort. I was talking on the phone to Roxanne - she was there at the event and we were trying to find each other. Roxanne is about 5'-2" or 5'-3" so she was hard to find in the crowd. I remember "thinking" this in my dream, that she would be hard to find for this reason.

As I walked through the crowd talking to her on the phone (I don't recall what we were talking about...), I could hear her voice both through the phone and through the other ear - she was nearby. (You know how sometimes to be goofy, as you walk up to someone you are talking to on a cell phone - you keep talking on the phone - and you can hear them via two "inputs"? was like that...) I do recall from the dream that she called me - to tell me she had seen me at the event - and that she had taken up tango.

Anyway, I continued walking and her voice (not on the phone) became fainter, so I backtracked through the throngs of people a little bit and found her. As I was walking up to her, I was thinking to myself that it was cool that she was now dancing tango - and then I woke up. I don't think we even got to the point of hugging - I was right in front of her and then woke up from the dream.

I find it interesting that in the absence of a lot of detail in my dreams, that this detail of her voice - both on the phone and in the air - is what led me to her. The detail of her voice fading away behind me, and then being able to pinpoint her location by coming back to it.

Needless to say, I have emailed her...but haven't heard back. The last contact we had was in May.

Do you dream "in tango"?

Friday, December 7, 2007

Tango for the Blind

A report today on NBC Nightly News...

My friend Luciano Mares is involved with this Miami group somehow...although they don't mention him...the group is "Miami Lighthouse for the Blind"...Luciano is also involved in Buenos Aires teaching tango to the blind...and I think also to the deaf...if I'm not mistaken...

Teaching blind teens to tango
Teaching blind teens to tango

Here is another video...more from the founders/organizers...

Teaching the blind to lead
Teaching the blind to lead

This, my friends, is good tango... is a link to an article...with links to both videos on it...

Foto :: Forgotten stories, forgotten lives...


Foto :: Why did the buck cross the road?

Why did the buck cross the road?

Because the doe is in's rutting season in the mountains...notice how intent he is...head down...nose in the airstream of her scent...oblivious to his surroundings...a man on a mission...

Also note how her ears are back...attuned to the inevitable...unless a bigger, stronger buck comes along...

Foto :: What has Alex been up to?

Too bad I didn't have a tanguera with me...I would bet that no one has ever danced Argentine tango here...I was there yesterday...
dunas de arena

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Tango :: Photography

Recognize these two? A great photo of Jennifer Bratt & Ney Melo by the Capri Tango Festival this past summer...

Monday, December 3, 2007

Not Tango :: Just in time for Christmas!

Bugatti Veyron

What every man needs...or wants and doesn't need...or needs and/or wants but can't have...not every man...only the privileged few...

The Bugatti Veyron...$1,600,000...1001 horsepower...253 mph top speed (403kmh)...interesting note from the video...the first 150 mph requires about 250 horsepower...the next 100 mph requires 750 horsepower...

An amazing example of engineering and technology...and conspicuous consumption...

Tango :: Fandango de Tango - The Final Analysis - Re-posted

Five milongas in five nights. I think I danced more in the past 5 days than I have in the past year - not counting my eleven days in Buenos Aires last April.

Based on my overall "milonga only" experience, I am not sure that I would come back. I had more "fun" than I think I ever have at past milongas...but...

The reasons?

DJ'ing:: 80%
The DJ'ing was not at 100% and it should be - should definitely be - at the "festival" level. I sat out a good part of the time - all under the same DJ.

Another reason is the overall level of dancing - I would say that over 50 percent of the dancers there were at the beginner level - perhaps "advanced" beginner. The beginning leaders were evidenced mostly by floorcraft (or lack thereof) and by general bad form.

Some of the followers I danced with had difficulty with a subtle lead to the cross, no mastery of the ocho cortado, bounced at times during the walk, and got confused when I was walking in crossed feet and automatically switched their feet into normal walk. I would call these women beginners.

This is just my personal opinion - but I got the feeling a substantial number of the attendees were ballroom people. I would say in the range of 20-30%. I base this on a number of factors - dress being one (I was embarrassed for a few women) - shoes being another - style of dance - skill level of lead and follow. Teaching on the floor. The biggest issue or symptom would be the lack of floorcraft and navigation skills amongst the leaders. Others complained of this so it's not just me.

The big piece of evidence was the roar of the crowd and long and loud applause after Fernanda & Guillermo's performance. Granted, they are technically skilled dancers - pros - magnificent dancers. But, the performance was too Vegas-y, too ballroom-y, too glitter-y, too sequin-y, too showy, too fantasia-y, too much unlike-y what Argentine Tango represents to me. And they got the hugest applause of all. That spells b-a-l-l-r-o-o-m to me.

I think the ballroom people get bored with the ballroom scene, and the Argentine Tango community is something of a novelty for them. Don't get me wrong - I'm happy to have them convert - or add it as one of the many dances they dance. Someone has to dance all those other dances - just not me.

I think it's great for them to come over to AT. I would just expect that they make attempts to develop proper form, the proper lead (nothing at all like a ballroom lead), avail themselves of the vast knowledgebase (Google) of codigos, floorcraft, and the traditions of AT.

The only reason I give 10% off is because there was no "a la carte" class pricing. You had to buy a one day pass - all classes & the milonga. What about the working single mom? What if she could only arrange to attend one or two classes during the entire weekend? I supppose it might be by design - to keep the classes less crowded -but still rake in the income needed. This was the 9th Annual Fandango - I'm sure Ricardo has figured out the numbers by now.

Overall, this is one of the more pricey festivals. I heard other complaints throughout the weekend.

The teachers were great. Even though it didn't take any classes - I have taken workshops with all of them except Alex Krebs and Pablo Pugliese. They are all top notch, even if they aren't exactly estilo milonguero.

Oh, and not announcing the class topics until the morning of the classes - big fugaboo to me. This happened the first couple of days I think. Then they had the schedule for the next day available the night before. With no a la carte pricing, I suppose it didn't matter. Kudos to the upcoming Houston Tango Festival - they had postcards there - already printed with the class topics.

Keep in mind these are my own personal opinions, based on my own "milonga only" experiences as a leader. I didn't do any of the classes.

This definitely not a "milonguero" "close embrace" "tango tipica" festival. Not like Denver at least. If I lived in Austin (or in Texas) I might go again next year, but if you are spending big bucks to fly in and stay in the hotel, your dollars might be better spent - yield a better return - on a different festival.

Good but not great. But I still had some great dances, and lots of fun.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Tango :: Tango Chills

I'm sitting here listening to Biagi's "Flor de Monserrat"...and the hair is standing up on the back of my neck...and chills are running up and down my always happens...what's up with that?

Tango:: Musicality Nailed - SEE ALL THREE POSTS! TWO MORE BELOW!

Getting the brain going here...another thought is that it (a leader's interpretation of musicality) is also dependent on the dancing level of the follower. Some followers I dance with can't get my traspie ochos - even more can't get the superfast traspie ochos (in milonga) that I do - so I have to dial it all in and be more musical in less complex ways.

And lastly, without making another, separate post - no discussion of musicality can be had without mention of Murat & Michelle Erdemsel. Here is a video of them "nailing" "musicality" my humble opinion...

I need some tango bad after all of this...I need it bad...

Per Debbi's are Murat & Michelle again...dancing to "Re Fa Si" con Orquestra Ben Bogart y los Gatos Azules...

Deep Tango Thoughts - Musicality

There is a new thread on Tango-L on the subject of "musicality". As usual, Tom Stermitz, the organizer of Denver Tango Festivals, is the voice of experience and reason. Here is what he had to say on the subject (in response to Igor Polk's post):

Message: 5

Date: Fri, 30 Nov 2007 16:07:08 -0700

From: Tom Stermitz

Subject: Re: [Tango-L] Musicality. What is it?

To: Tango-L


Content-Type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII; format=flowed; delsp=yes

I have a simple description. Admittedly, you can find more complicated explanations:

Musicality is when Movement Energy Corresponds to Musical Energy.

Energy is still a fuzzy, undefined concept, but it includes various

aspects of movement such as speed, force, size, suspension,

acceleration, lift, grounded-ness.

So musicality is about adjusting your physical movements to go with

the music in a pleasing (again undefined) manner.

To teach it, you have to provide examples of musicality in the

exercises. The goal is to offer enough varied examples, that people

can ultimately learn it how it feels in the kinesthetic sense.

So, for example, I teach brand new beginners to walk with musicality

by matching their short elements to the musical phrase. Tango is built

on four plus four equals eight walking beats. Initiate movement

(compression and accelerate or surge) on the one or five, and come

together stationary on the four or eight (suspend, momentum = zero).

I'm very deterministic, and really insist on beginning at one and

ending at four.

Wooden? Yes at first, but at least they are wooden WITH the music

instead of walking woodenly and aimlessly around the room.

The value here is that when movement energy corresponds to musical

energy for these 4+4=8 steps, then they "FEEL" right, the leaders are

more confident, the followers learn about their musicality (i.e. how

they respond through the connection), and that all adds up to bringing

people closer to kinesthetic awareness (i.e. achieving musicality

through intuitive learning).

On Nov 30, 2007, at 3:24 PM, Igor Polk wrote:

> Following Steve's thoughts,

> I have deepen more into that, and to my surprise have found that I can not

> really define what people understand under the term "Musicality".

> I can not say what it is. I know that dancing supposed to be with music.

> And I believe I myself dance musically too ) But on a logical side, or

> rather sociological side I am confused.


> If it is so common, can one define what "musicality" is?

> What most people understand under "musicality"?

> So if one say: "This is a musicality lesson" what people expect?

> Those who come and those who do not?


> Another question is how to develop it.


> Igor Polk

My first thought upon reading this, perhaps obvious, is that "musicality" can be expressed differently, elegantly, eloquently by different people. Indeed, the same couple, dancing to the same song, should, in theory, express different musicality when dancing to that same song on different nights. That is, going with the theory that Tango is an improvised dance.

Some people obviously have "nailed" their musicality - especially on the "demo" and "performance" videos we all watch on YouTube. Some of this, I am sure, comes from practice, practice, practice. I am also sure that much of it comes from listening to tango music over and over - in effect, memorizing a song. There may be a certain spot where the rhythm and melody make it good to do traspie ochos - and a leader may do these in this spot every time he dances to a song.

Speaking for myself, I know I have difficulty being "musical" to a song I have never heard before. I had this problem in the early months of my tango - I didn't know what was coming next. This problem was solved by listening to tango music almost exclusively for over two years now.

I don't really reach any conclusions here - no real "deep tango thoughts" - except that musicality in and of itself is a fairly deep subject. My only conclusion is that good musicality is "a good thing" and that we should all strive to be better with our musical interpretations of a song, and the music in general.

Oh, this just popped into my head - "musicality" does not mean pumping (leader) or flapping (follower) your arms to the music. I hate that - it's not tango. Don't do it. Cuz I said so.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Tango::The Tango is a game of seduction...

Ah, now I get it! The Tango, as a dance, is a game of seduction. And like any game of seduction, it begins with the eyes, in a glance, and has very clear rules.

I happened across this video series on YouTube bright and early this morning. They comprise an instructional series featuring Osvaldo Zotta and Mora Godoy. Nothing against Osvaldo y Mora. The video series is titled "TANGOCITY - LEARN HOW TO DANCE TANGO IN YOUTUBE" (in twenty lessons)

Virtual Tango - that's a new concept - dancing tango in YouTube - actually IN YouTube.

At first I thought, "great! what a great resource for beginners!". The more I watched though, it became obvious that a beginner would become very confused very rapidly. The voice over does not match the steps they are taking all of the time. The narrator is counting out "one" "two" "three" "four" "five" "six" "seven" and "eight" (or "stop") - sometimes not matching the actual step being taken on the video. All of the videos show the dancers in slow motion - good for very rank beginners, to be sure, but they should also see the vocubulary/figure danced at full speed, and "to the music".

This is "Lesson 1 of 20" - and with 110,448 views, I now understand why there were so many leaders dancing the basic eight at the Fandango de Tango - back step and all - and with musicality equal to dark matter (less than zero).

Here is Lesson 12 - Rulo (lapiz) con sacadas...

Lesson 12 was better as far as the voice over and dancer's steps matching.

Overall, I would say this is a good resource - a good "primer" - but more for intermediate or advanced beginners - not the brand new beginner - especially not without a real, live teacher and some group classes.

ACK! I just watched Lesson 5 "Medialuna". The narrator says that Osvaldo leads with his fingers and the palm of his hand....MUY MALO! BAD! BAD! BAD! VERY BAD!

As we all KNOW...everything, absolutely EVERYTHING in Tango is led with the torso/ least in social tango. Fantasia tango might be different.