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Best Tracks of 2009

Adams Best Tracks of 2009

Somehow with all the excitement at the end of the decade, I neglected to put together my mix of the best tracks of 2009. The mix can be found at 8tracks.com, and the playlist is as follows:

Potion Approaching by Arctic Monkeys from Humbug
The Ancient Commonsense of Things by Bishop Allen from Grrr…
Katherine Kiss Me by Franz Ferdinand from Tonight: Franz Ferdinand
Airport ‘99 by Iran from Dissolver
Chinese by Lily Allen from It’s Not Me, It’s You
Waving at the Shore by Throw Me the Statue from Creaturesque
Everyday by Vetiver from Tight Knit
What A Rush by Art Brut from Art Brut Vs. Satan
Looking Out by Brandi Carlile from Give Up The Ghost
Little Girl (Ft. Julian Casablancas) by Danger Mouse & Sparklehorse from Dark Night Of The Soul
Knotty Piny by Dirty Projectors & David Byrne from Dark Was the Night
Ulysses by Franz Ferdinand from Tonight: Franz Ferdinand
Out of the Blue by Julian Casablancas from Phrazes for the Young
The Fear by Lily Allen from It’s Not Me, It’s You
We Are London by Madness from The Liberty Of Norton Folgate
Plain Material by Memory Tapes from Seek Magic
Lisztomania by Phoenix from Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
Sometimes by The Rifles from The Great Escape
The Passover by The Soundtrack of Our Lives from Communion
Why Does the Sun Really Shine? by They Might Be Giants from Here Comes Science

Celia Honig, 1944 – 2010

Celia Honig in 1998
My Mom, Celia Honig, died Sunday, January 17th, 2010. She was 65 and had been struggling with Lewy Body Syndrome* for about ten years.

Though the disease made her final years difficult for her and our family, Mom had a tremendous amount of joy and love in her life and certainly lived her life to the fullest possible. She rarely complained and always told me that she was a ‘happy person’.Celia was born in 1944 to Jack and Geraldine Newman in New York City. She grew up with her brother Harvey in Washington Heights and then later Douglaston, Queens. According to Karen Wasserman, one of her friends back then, “she was the prettiest, sweetest girl in the neighborhood.” After high school, Celia attended classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan, but did not graduate.

How her eventual husband, Alan Honig, managed to date her and eventually marry her in 1964 is still a mystery. Celia and Alan moved to Long Island and had me in 1967 and Nol and 1970. For over twenty-five years, Celia lived in the Wincoma area of Huntington, Long Island. Celia and Alan loved to travel, dance and enjoy hosting and attending parties. Here they are at a one of many costume parties they enjoyed:

celia-and-alan-honig-in-costume.jpg

Celia started two entrepreneurial ventures. Her first business was arranging and selling dried flowers. Turns out that this was quite popular in the 1970’s. Many years later she would start a cosmetics business called Color Theory Concepts. Mom used her artistic background to create custom shades of lipstick for her customers. Color Theory Concepts eventually expanded to selling all forms of cosmetics, handbags and accessories at the Gizay Michaels Salon. Color Theory Concepts operated until Mom moved to Manhattan in 2003.

From her earliest days, Celia was quite artistic. Celia started studying painting and drawing in the 1970’s, first under Mary Rose Palau and later under Lorianne Kulik. Mom’s works were initially representational, focusing on still life, landscapes and portraits. Here is an example of a oil painting of peaches:

celia honig painting of peaches
Over time her work became progressively abstract with an emphasis on color over form. Here is an example of her more advanced work:
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Mom had numerous shows around Long Island and her work is in private collections in the US and abroad.

After my father’s death in late 2002, Celia realized her dream of moving back into New York City, where she lived with her dog Lucky. When she was able she took classes and enjoyed programs at the 92nd Street Y, Broadway shows and galleries around the city.

Me and Mike in 2004
Me and Mike in 2004

(Me and Mom in 2004.)

When I think of my Mom, I often think of all the things I learned from her. She taught me to drive, to enjoy David Bowie’s music and to cook. She advised me on girls — not that I listened well enough. We spent days, hours at The Metropolitan Museum, where Mom was my art history professor. We walked all over Manhattan on Sundays while Nol was rehearsing or performing with the Metropolitan Opera Company. She took me to visit Cornell University where her cousin had attended and advised me to apply early decision.

For Mom, the most fun was always sitting down and having a cup of coffee and really catching up. She was an excellent listener.

In the end, that is the most important thing I learned from her: really how to listen and connect with people. Most people seem to listen as if it is the polite thing to do before talking again. Mom listened because she really wanted to know, to truly understand where you were coming from, to connect.

Celia was always the person that you could call up and just talk to. No problem was too big or small; she had a large well of patience, and she gave wise counsel. This what I miss the most. God, it sucks to have lost her so young.

Celia and Alan the way they are in my mind forever
Now that they’re gone, I’m not going to focus on the lost, last so many years. In my mind, Alan and Celia are young, strong and unencumbered by disease.

The consensus, first suggested to me by my cousin Amy, is that Celia and Alan, wherever they are right now are having a drink, probably a smoke, and getting ready to dance.

—-

*Updated: The official autopsy report came back with a different result — Alzheimer’s. I’m not sure I believe it, as it would have to be very early onset  Alzheimer’s… like from when Mom was 50.

Songs of the Decade

There have been quite a few lists published so far of the best albums of the 2000’s. (Would I say “of the aughts”?) For example, Amazon rates Radiohead’s Kid A as #1 of the decade. (Here is a link to their full list.)

I find it hard enough to figure out which are my favorite songs of the year, let along the whole decade, so I think this may be a project that will take a while.

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In the meanwhile, I am enjoying the new They Might Be GiantsHere Comes Science. I guess this is a kiddy album designed to make sure that M’bar doesn’t grow up to be Sarah Palin, but it’s as catchy as heck, and has such great lyrics:

The sun is a mass of incandescent gas
A gigantic nuclear furnace
Where hydrogen is built into helium
At a temperature of millions of degreesYo ho, it’s hot, the sun is not
A place where we could live
But here on earth there’d be no life
Without the light it gives

That’s from Why Does the Sun Shine, and if you can’t really picture those lyrics being sung, here is the video. Check it out even if you don’t have kids.

Recently Finished

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar WaoImage via Wikipedia

Thanks to a few long flights and some relaxing time on the beach, I recently finished two excellent novels.

How to Buy a Love of Reading, written by my Cornell classmate Tanya Egan Gibson, was set in a fictional town on the north shore of Long Island town that was too wealthy to be Huntington, where I grew up. With many references to Gatsby, the book is a funny and touching story centered around a fat and unpopular high school girl, Carley, who has an unlikely friendship with the uber-popular Hunter. Carley is the character who the love of reading is being bought for, and against all odds succeeds. How to Buy a Love of Reading was a page turner that will hopefully be the first of many novels from Gibson.

Junot Diaz’s The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is about a fat and unpopular Dominican boy growing up in Patterson, New Jersey. Fortunately for Oscar, his love of reading (and writing) is pretty much the only thing that gets him through high school and later college. Oscar’s struggles to find his place in the world – especially the world of macho, women-collecting Dominican men – are not as successful as Carley’s, and the streets of Patterson and later Santa Domingo are not nearly as forgiving. While it had humorous moments – Oscar’s ‘kamikaze’ attempts to meet women – it was more of a bittersweet tale of lost opportunity.

Also somewhere over the past few months I also finished James Michener’s Poland, which seemed to be completed about five years before the fall of the Berlin Wall, but after the rise of Solidarity. It was an interesting read – fictionalized lives of families living through almost a thousand years of Polish history. I was familiar with a lot of the history: the partitions, the veto that each member of their parliament had, the alliances with the Lithuanians, but Michener’s way of describing the details of people lives during those periods was very interesting.

I also did not finish Pascal Mercier’s Night Train to Lisbon, which seemed to be attempting to be attempting a Camus style existentialism, but I found actually quite boring.

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