Remembering Ernst

“Use your feet to zoom in or out, because the less you carry, the more you will see. And the more you see the more photographs you’ll make.”

Remembering Ernst – Arthur Meyerson

My friend Arthur Meyerson remembers Ernst Haas, one of the greatest color photographers there ever was. Arthur told me that quote years ago and I will always remember it. Travel light and use your feet to zoom. 

Certain people come into our lives and we are never the same afterwards.

This is the photo Arthur mentions in his post.

The Santa Fe Internment Camp

The former Santa Fe Civilian Conservation Corps Camp was converted to a camp for 4,555 civilian men of Japanese descent from 1942 to the spring of 1946. Initially, men of Japanese descent who were brought to the camp had been denied U.S. citizenship even though they had worked in America for two decades or more. Their age averaged 52 years. They were removed from the West Coast because their leadership roles in their communities had a perceived potential to support the enemy, yet they were innocent of wrong doing. This talk describes, through archival photos, how the internees spent their waiting hours while being separated from family while some had sons serving in the U.S. Army.

The Santa Fe Internment Camp (1942-1946) | Santa Fe Public Library

The Santa Fe Internment Camp (1942-1946) in the Shadow of Los Alamos. A presentation by Nancy Bartlit, in the Main Library Community Room of the Main Library, at 145 Washington Ave, in Santa Fe on Thursday, May 18, 2023, 6:00pm – 7:00pm.

What they had the least of…

A prominent white educator was studying the culture of the Hopi, a Native American desert dwelling tribe. He found it strange that almost all of the Hopi music was about water and he asked one of the musicians why. He explained that so much of their music was about water because that was what they had the least of. And then he told the white man, “Most of your music is about love.”

1970 Jazz: Atlantic Records

Found that quote on The Music Aficionado’s history of Atlantic Records. I’ll be thinking about that for a long time.

David Toop on Ryuichi Sakamoto

“I don’t want to express myself as the image of Japan,” he told me, “big power, big money, technologies.” Then in a different conversation he spoke against the arbitrary division of the globe into East and West. “Where is the edge?” he asked. “My music is much more melting. All the different things are layered at the same time. It represents a sense of Utopia.” And now? Utopia, what can we say, other than its enclosed certainty is unattainable, but music is never really about certainty, only possibility, and in possibility there is a way to live, a positivity that Ryuichi Sakamoto never abandoned, even when dying.

Life, Life: David Toop remembers Ryuichi Sakamoto – The Wire

Writer and musician David Toop pays tribute to his friend and collaborator Ryuichi Sakamoto, who died on 28 March. Lovely article. 

While you are reading the article, listen to LIFE LIFE from the beautiful album async, with David Sylvian reading from Arseny Tarkovsky.

 A French critic, he told me, disliked his Beauty album because there wasn’t enough Japanese music in it.

I wonder whether a French musician playing American music would be accused of not having enough French music in it. 

Holger Czukay

In response to DMT36, James asked:

Did you ever see Czukay performing in Cologne?

No, I never saw Holger Czukay perform live but I watched several performances on TV in Köln, and I met him one time. Some of the performances were actually live and others were full playback. I remember watching his band Can perform on a TV show and wondering whether they were actually performing this particular time. I was around 15 at the time and had learned to look for the telltale signs. Are there microphones on the drums? Is the singer using a regular microphone, but without the cable, to make it look like a wireless mic? Are the guitar and bass plugged into anything? My mom used to say I was ruining performances for her by pointing out that a singer’s lips and the singing didn’t actually sync up and they weren’t real performances… well, just miming really. 

So I was watching a Can performance and everything seemed to be plugged in and… could they be doing this live in the studio???? Then the guitar player, Michael Karoli, took a solo. During his solo he slowly turned around, with a smirk on his face, and…. the end of the cable, the one that was supposedly connecting his guitar to the big amp behind him, was in fact stuck into the back pocket of his jeans. I roared with laughter and loved that they were poking fun at the full playback. (Many years later I had some interesting experiences with full playback in Mexico and in Germany, myself…)

At this point, in the Seventies, Holger was already playing shortwave radio and dictaphone instead of bass. I think Rosco Gee was on bass. Not many understand the huge influence Holger had on music. The use of cut up radio voices on Brian Eno and David Byrne’s excellent album My Life in the Bush of Ghosts goes back to Holger who had been doing that for many years already. In the late Seventies Eno visited Conny Plank’s studio in Cologne many times. In fact Eno said he was inspired to create Music for Airports after an experience of waiting for his flight from the airport in Köln. My Life in the Bush of Ghosts is an excellent album and I merely want to point out that Czukay’s influence on music is disproportionate to his fame. I am sure he liked it that way.

One late afternoon in the early Eighties, sometime between 1981 and 1983, while I was visiting my parents in Köln, I walked around the city. (((I thought about this and am not sure whether it is correct… could have been around that time, or around 1986, when I was back in Köln to buy the classical guitar that I ended up recording most of NF with))) I stopped at a cafe and while I was there I saw Holger come in and sit down at the bar. I walked over to him and we started talking. He ordered a glass of Fernet-Branca, advertised on German TV as hellishly bitter, to make himself more brave, or so he claimed. He explained that he had to do a difficult mixing session that evening. The subject turned to recording and microphones and Holger explained that the where (of microphones) is much more important than the what. He said he had gone to Hamburg, where Irmin Schmidt (founder of Can) was conducting the orchestra of the NDR (public radio station) in a performance of his music. While the orchestra was recorded in the modern fashion, with the use of dozens of microphones, Holger went looking for the “one sweet spot” in the room and recorded the performance with a single mic. He claimed that his recording sounded far better than the official record did. I believe it. It’s an art, finding the sweet spot of a room. Perhaps it’s an art that is going extinct.

I am so glad that I plucked up the courage to talk to Holger that day. I’ll never forget it.

Anthony Bourdain recorded a show in Köln in 2016 (Parts Unknown, Season 7, Episode 7). It’s an excellent excellent show and I was hugely impressed with Bourdain’s (and his researchers’) knowledge about the city. I had a big smile when Bourdain met Irmin Schmidt for a meal around 21’ into the show. The first image of that section was Czukay playing bass, actually. Definitely worth seeing the entire episode!!


my 2008 post on Holger’s 70th birthday, which links to a great post by Echoes. Quote: 

Holger Czukay enjoys his status as a homunculus in the machinery of pop music. “I did an interview with German MTV and at the end I asked the director of the station if they had a chief editor. He said, No. I said, Take me. I can make your station very successful. Don’t play anything that I like and you’ll become very successful.”

another post from 2010

Groundhog Day

I was asked how come I had a song on the soundtrack of Groundhog Day. Funny story, that. One evening, we were working in the studio in Santa Barbara, recording The Hours Between Night + Day, when I received a call from the soundtrack division of Epic Records. We need another song for this soundtrack and would like you to record “You Don’t Know Me”, by Ray Charles. I don’t know the song, or the movie, I replied, and what’s in it for me, if I interrupt my work to record this tune for the soundtrack? Well, this is going to be a big movie and we would make sure you get more work on soundtrack albums. Of course we will pick up the studio cost for the duration of this recording, and oh, we would need the song by tomorrow evening.

I turned to Jon. He knew the song and said we could bang that out pretty quickly, if we had to. So we did. We ran after the carrot, like musicians are often made to do. Then the carrot turned a corner and another corner and then it disappeared into some crevice. And that’s how I have a song on the soundtrack album of Groundhog Day. Can’t say the tune does much for me, neither the original nor our version. I think Jon’s bass is great and I do like the electric guitar feedback I added! It was a work for hire, or the promise of hire.