D-MoZone is the place to find out what’s new with pianist/composer/educator Diane Moser. Keep an eye on this blog for updates on music, health, gigs, fundraisers, random thoughts and all things D-Mo. And please keep sending your thoughts, good wishes and comments this way—they’re always needed and always appreciated.
Friday, December 24, 2010
Just saw this on the newsletter that I subscribe to from the Life Raft Group-the organization that helps people with GIST and funds scientists and doctors for research. I was just telling a friend last night that even though I am NED (no evidence of disease)-there's a very strong possibility that those little nasty cells will overcome Gleevec-the drug I take-and begin to multiply. With this new discovery-scientists have pin pointed the protein in the GIST cancer cell that is the culprit-which means now they can develop a new drug that will target and eradicate that protein if Gleevec fails.
I have to say-this is what I've been praying for because I was never satisfied with the idea that it was only the KIT protein-I knew there had to be another one. Thank you Rockefeller University!
It is by far-the BEST Christmas present ever!
Posted: December 22, 2010
Scientists identify protein that drives survival of gastrointestinal tumors
For patients with gastrointestinal stromal tumors, or GISTs, the blockbuster
cancer drug Gleevec has been a reason to hope. Since the drug’s
introduction, survival rates have climbed dramatically and recurrence has
fallen by two-thirds. But there’s a downside: over time, many patients
develop resistance to the drug. Now, scientists at Rockefeller University
and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center have identified a molecule that
acts as a survival factor for gastrointestinal tumors, a finding that may
lead to next-generation therapies that can pick up where Gleevec leaves off.
Gleevec was initially approved for fighting chronic myelogenous leukemia and
it targets the BCR-ABL fusion protein that causes that rare blood disease.
But Gleevec also inhibits the activated KIT receptor tyrosine kinase.
Scientists have known that mutations in the gene that codes for KIT are
responsible for development of GISTs, as well as other cancers such as
melanomas, which makes Gleevec a potent treatment for GISTs.
Ping Chi, a postdoctoral fellow in C. David Allis’ Laboratory of Chromatin
Biology and Epigenetics at Rockefeller and a clinical fellow at MSKCC, and
in collaboration with Yu Chen in Charles Sawyers’ group at MSKCC, searched
for GIST-specific genes to obtain better insight on the molecular events in
GIST development. She focused on a group of cells in the gastrointestinal
tract called interstitial cells of Cajal, or ICCs. GISTs arise from two
specific populations of ICCs, myenteric and intramuscular; it’s been known
that KIT is highly expressed in these two types of ICCs, and these cells
have been implicated as the cells that spur GIST formation.
By analyzing patient tumor samples stored at MSKCC, Chi and colleagues found
that a protein called ETV1 is expressed in all GISTs at significantly
greater levels than in any other type of tumor. Using RNA interference, in
which small RNAs are deployed to prevent gene expression, Chi and her
colleagues blocked ETV1 in GIST cell lines. The result was a decrease in
cell division and an increase in cell death, findings that indicated that
GISTs require ETV1 for growth and survival.
“We’ve shown that ETV1 is just as important as KIT in the development of
gastrointestinal stromal tumors,” says Chi. The findings have far-reaching
implications, she says.
“About five percent of GISTs are KIT negative by immunohistochemistry,” Chi
says. “Because all GISTs express ETV1, we now have a very good biomarker for
Chi and her colleagues were also interested in determining if ETV1 is
required for normal growth of ICCs. They looked at the gastrointestinal
tracts of genetically modified mice lacking the gene for ETV1 and observed
significant loss of only myenteric and intramuscular ICCs, providing
evidence of ETV1’s role as a survival factor for the ICC-GISTs lineage.
The discovery by Chi and her colleagues also means that scientists now have
a new therapeutic target. In addition to the risk of developing resistance
to Gleevec, the drug must be given continuously because interrupting Gleevec
treatment can cause GISTs to rapidly regrow.
“Now that we know ETV1’s importance in GIST formation, we need to determine
how the ETV1-driven oncogenic transcriptome is regulated,” Chi says. “This
opens possibilities for stopping GIST development when targeting of KIT
“This work represents a remarkable collaborative effort from both sides of
York Avenue wherein our combined strengths in signaling, mouse modeling,
transcriptional regulation and chromatin biology came together to tackle
complex mechanisms of cancer pathogenesis,” says Allis, who is Joy and Jack
Fishman Professor. “In addition to the gain-of-function KIT mutation, our
results clearly show that cellular context, likely determined by
transcription factor networks and chromatin landscape, also plays critical
roles in oncogenesis.”
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
The concert is produced by recording engineer Patrick Lo Re who envisioned and designed this space so that audiences may truly experience "Sound and Silence." D-Mo and Dresser "are the first artists to perform on this new series - and we're both very excited and very honored!"
Expect to hear them play material from their soon-to-be-released CD, Duetto (CIMP).
Diane also accompanies soprano Natascha Radke Henke for An Evening with Mozart, on Nov. 6, at the Allwood Community Church in Clifton, NJ. The music begins at 8. Among the material will be some of Mozart's Art Songs, and "Exsultate, Jubilate."
“I was intrigued by his use of different languages in these art songs, how it affected the character of the music. So I selected a couple of French, German and Italian songs, and for good measure we throw in some Latin,” Natascha says. She speaks several different languages herself.
In taking language as a starting point for her recital, Natascha feels validated by Mozart himself, who was something of a lingual trailblazer in music, composing the first opera in a language other than Italian, The Magic Flute, in German.
Parts of this are a tough read. Cancer is not a single disease and there isn't a single treatment that offers hope on all or even most types. But recent research has yielded promising results.
I'm not really well-versed in science, so I was surprised at how fascinating and how clearly presented the research info is here. The writer, Siddhartha Mukherjee, deserves a thumbs up for keeping at least this reader so engaged.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Dizzy's last oncologist was Dr. Forte of Englewood Hospital. He knew his time was drawing to a close so he asked Dr. Forte to create the Dizzy Gillespie Foundation at the hospital-a foundation that would help jazz musicians who had no health insurance receive free medical care.
Back in Jan '09-when I was really sick and paying for tests-that thankfully my wonderful GP in Montclair-Dr. Grobstien was cutting deals for me left and right-we got to the point of knowing that I needed a biopsy. I contacted the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music (where I teach) and asked them if there was any health insurance available for me. There was-but it wouldn't kick in fast enough-meaning-immediately-it would take about a month. But they went to work on it for me immediately.
Meanwhile-because of the New School's collective bargaining agreement with the Local AFM 802-I decided to pay a visit to Todd Weeks-the liason between 802 and the school-to see if there was any help there. The clock was ticking-my weight was dropping fast-and I needed a biopsy pronto.
Todd was amazing-he listened-we looked at various options-nothing was going to work for me-but then he said-hey-come and talk to our V.P. Bill Dennison.
Thankfully Bill was in that day-and after I told him my story thus far-he immediately called the Jazz Foundation and told them they needed to help me.
As a side note-I had run a fundraiser for the Jazz Foundation several years before-for Lynn Kalbacher's retirement party from Hot House magazine-and also did another one for them with the big band.
The Jazz Foundation is in the same building as 802-so I went up to their floor-told my story again to Alicia-who was really wonderful. The funny part of this was-she wanted to know who I played music with etc.-which kind of caught me off guard. I spotted some issues of Hot House on her table-so I picked them up and pointed at the ad for Trumpets-talking about the big band and our anniversary-and then to the Jazz Women column (thank you Elzy!) and my name was listed there too. Alicia responded with-okay-you're cool then. Phew-didn't know I would have to pass that test.
She called me a week later-as I was watching Barack Obama being sworn in as president-and told me to call Dr. Forte at Englewood Hospital.
I immediately called and made an appointment-which I think was with in a few days (my memory starts to get a little foggy here).
I went to see Dr. Forte-this time I was prepared-I brought cd's ;-) Turns out that was a good call because he also asked me about my career-and then told me about the Dizzy Gillespie Foundation.
I would be able to get the biopsy through the Dizzy Gillespie Foundation and the Jazz Foundation-which we scheduled for the Friday following the big band's 12th anniversary-that was the last week of January 2009.
When I arrived at the registration department at Englewood-they looked at my paperwork and then looked at me and said-oh how wonderful-you're a jazz musician-we love jazz musicians here!
That was the first time I ever heard that from a hospital!
A few weeks later the results were in-I was in stage 4 GIST cancer-and Dr. Forte called Dr Ibrahim to ask him to do the surgery-which he and his partner Dr Strain did a week and a half later.
By then the health insurance from the New School had kicked in and I was able to go to the hospital knowing that I was covered for everything.
The Dizzy Gillespie Foundation is comprised of 50 + doctors-who Dr. Forte has gathered-who have pledged to help jazz musicians who don't have health insurance. Dr. Forte has also created a space in the lobby of Englewood Hospital with a grand piano-and hires musicians to play there everyday.
There's an artist's rendering of Dizzy hanging on the wall in that music corner-along with a photo of the wonderful bassist Earl May who played there for many years before he passed away in Jan of 2008.
Another side note here..I had the great fortune of playing with Earl in 2006 in a trio backing Howard Johnson and the unveiling of the new tuba the 4/4 BBb-Tuba series 2011 Heritage Howard Johnson Gravity model. And a few weeks after Earl died-I received a call from a prospective piano student's mother-who then came to my house with her son. Earl's name came up in conversation-they had met him in the past year-but they didn't know he had recently passed away. The young man looked at me and said-"but Earl was going to teach me jazz on the bass". My heart just broke into pieces and I told him I would do my best to teach him jazz on the piano. He became my student and we worked on a lot of Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk music.
It's truly amazing how everything comes around and around and I am so fortunate to have had so many people helping me and my son during that time of crisis.
So once again-I thank all of you-because without all of you-I know I wouldn't be where I am now. And I especially thank Dizzy for looking towards the future for all jazz musicians-and for making it possible for me to continue to live my life and keep the music going!
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Two of our board members were there-and we talked a little bit about what today means for all of us.
I have to say that for the first time ever-I actually felt that-yeah-maybe it's possible for World Peace.
I know that sounds like a tall order-but here's how I started thinking about it....we need to break that tall order down into little pieces. Here's the analogy I came up with (probably because I'm involved with this right now in my studio)....organizing tasks into smaller groups-like trying to organize one corner of a room-and not be overwhelmed by the entire room.
What if we sat down and looked at every area in our lives-and broke it down into smaller tasks-for example-the environment. Can we visualize what a sustaining environment really means-clean rivers-lakes-oceans-healthy forests-healthy critters etc.. What would it take to do that? I can visualize that.
How about poverty? What would it take to eradicate poverty? Can we visualize all the ways that we can help those who have no where to sleep, very little food and clothing? I can visualize that.
I have always maintained that world peace is not a possibility-but today-I thought about it differently. Today I thought about everyone who died on Sept 11th, 2001-and then everyone who has died in a war-and then everyone who has died a violent death....just thinking about all of those people, from the beginning of time, I thought we can't give up on the idea of world peace-we just have to break it down into more manageable segments.
Hatred-yeah-that's a toughie-but I do believe that we can find a way to help people to give up their hatred, their bigotries, their racists views and so forth. How do we do that-I'm not quite sure-but I know that it's one person at a time-it takes being committed to that idea-that small gestures can open the doors of the heart.
I had a friend who died in the collapse of the towers and I had friends who narrowly escaped-so I will be thinking about them today-along with other friends who have died violently.
But I will mostly be thinking of ideas that will contribute peace to our world, because my friends gave up so much.
I'm putting some ideas together for a concert-it won't happen for several months-but stay tuned-it's perculatin' ;-)
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Sunday, August 22, 2010
The author is from Nepal, came to the US when he was 15, went to college, earned a B.S. in Civil Engineering. He talks about growing up in Nepal with herbalists and monks practising various healing techniques including sound and vibration. I really enjoyed the book-it's not too long-and he gets right to the point-very concise-easy to use. From the calendar on his website it looks like he is coming to New Jersey in October 21-24-and that might possibly be at Divine Inspirations Bookstore in Nutley. I'm very interested-so I'm hoping I can go.
Using the Tibetan Singing Bowl is an interesting experience. There is definitely a calming effect-but as an after affect I also found that it stirred up a lot of emotions. That's fine-I see that as an opportunity to let go of some old crud ;-)
I also found someone in Montclair-believe it or not-her name is Jessica Rasp-you can see a video of her playing a whole set of bowls. I will be contacting her as well. I see on her website that she likes "jazz" which is great because I would love to compose a piece that includes the singing bowls.
So thank you Russ and Elzy for the wonderful gift-and setting me off on another exploration!!!
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Monday, July 12, 2010
I had a fantastic time playing music with Mark Dresser at the Cornelia St Cafe on July 1st. Thank you to everyone who came out-especially to all of you from outside of NYC!
Mark and I also played a concert on Tues June 29th at the Allwood Community Church-as part of the Music for the Soul Concert Series-and that was very moving and wonderful. Thank you to everyone who attended-there was something special about that concert. One audience member told me that he and his wife had a transcendental experience-how beautiful!
Tim Ferguson-bass, Rob Henke-trumpet, Diane Moser-piano
"Music for the Soul Concert Series"
Allwood Community Church
"Inside/Out" is a new trio consisting of (bass), Rob Henke (trumpet) and Diane Moser (piano). On this debut concert-they will perform a variety of jazz and improvised music ranging from classic jazz standards to compositions by the members of the group and completely improvised pieces. Friends and colleagues for many years, Tim Ferguson approached Rob and Diane with the idea of creating a new trio using an organic approach to jazz and new music. “I was interested in exploring some different ways of improvising" explained bassist Ferguson "and I knew that Rob and Diane both have the kind of musical openness and sensitivity that I was looking for."
"Music for the Soul" is a brand new concert series at the Allwood Community Church in Clifton, New Jersey. The series began in May 2010 with a Jazz Vespers tribute to with Diane Moser (piano), Tom Colao (flute) Ron Naspo (bass) and Rudy Walker (drums), followed by The Muse under the direction of violinist Gary Ianco in June, and most recently a duo concert by (bass) and Diane Moser (piano) in late June.
Audience members have commented on the series with "electrifying"..... "transforming"..... " a welcoming and inviting space"... "beautiful acoustics"..."one of
the most beautifully transcendent musical experiences I've had in years"........
For more info contact Diane Moser email@example.com
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Gleevec is used to treat chronic myeloid leukemia, a life threatening form of cancer. It is a $2.2 billion drug, posting double-digit growth figures.
The drug helps in prolonging the life of cancer patients. Several Indian pharma firms like Natco, Cipla, Ranbaxy and Hetero produce the generic equivalent.
I didn't even know there was a generic version out there-but probably not available here in the states.
This rare disease that I have called GIST has only been around for 10 years. But what a difference 10 years can make. I am inspired by Tania Stutman, founder of the GIST Cancer Research Fund, who upon learning that she had this rare disease over 10 years ago-went door to door -by herself-soliciting donations that she gave to cancer researchers to figure out what GIST actually was.
On their website-it states that they have given away $1 Million to GIST cancer researchers to find a cure-that's totally awesome!
I am inspired by the folks at Life Raft who have organized this event called Life Fest, bringing together fellow GISTers, doctors, and researchers to educate and illuminate all of us about the recent medications, trials and what's next.
Both groups work tirelessly with doctors, researchers and GISTers towards understanding the disease, promoting and funding new research, networking with GISTers to find the right doctor, the right medication, testing and sometimes just a time to talk.
Without both of these groups-I would be completely lost-so I am extremely grateful to their hard work and dedication to helping all of us who have GIST.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
I just finished reading this amazing book "When The Body Says No" by Dr. Gabor Mate-it's about the relationship between stress and disease.
At times, it's difficult to read this book, especially when the various stresses of the various case studies become all too familiar.
But it's a fascinating book about the new study of psychoneuroimmunology-yep that's a big word-also known as PNI.
PNI is the study of the connection between the mind and the body and the role of our environment.
Before you throw up your hands and say-oh yeah-another new agey thing-let me assure you-this is very much NOT a new agey thing. Dr Mate is a family practitioner, and worked with biologists, cancer researchers, psychotherapists, oncologists and many other health practitioners in gathering his data to present this insightful book.
As I said before, it's a tough read, but the last chapter entitled "The Seven A's of Healing" provides a "plan" for healing and the prevention of disease.
When I talked to my oncologist many months ago about the level of stress I was feeling, he sort of shrugged it off as to yes-everyone has stress. That really angered me-and I told him so. Unfortunately, he had no suggestions for me, but he did listen a little more.
Fortunately, I found this book through my dear friend and fellow MacDowell Colony fellow-Billy Newman-a great guitarist and composer. Billy called me many times a week-for many weeks-after my return from the hospital-just to let me talk about what I was experiencing-which was incredibly helpful to me.
I've also had many wonderful conversations with fellow cancer patients, who have experienced the same "mind issues" that I have-which was very reassuring because of course, the doctors want you to think that you're the only one having these issues-and-these issues are not very important.
After you read this book-you're gonna see just how VERY important they are.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
No admission fee-just come enjoy the music and the gardens!
Note the time has changed to 2:30.
Not only will the music be beautiful, so will the setting. This is amazing garden is full of brightly colored iris blooms at this time of year, absolutely gorgeous.
The Essex County Presby Memorial Iris Gardens was established in 1927 to honor Frank H. Presby of Montclair, a leading horticulturalist and a founder of The American Iris Society. This living museum, listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Sites, offers a spectacular display of thousands of iris varieties to visitors from all over the world.
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
A few weeks ago I was trying to access some info on plasma testing-remember the post I wrote about my fellow Gister on the internet and his post? That's what reminded me. But the website was down. Plasma testing supposedly tells us how much Gleevec is being absorbed into the bloodstream.
Then I start getting these google alerts about Novartis and the FDA and their websites.
This has me very concerned-and it's not just on Fox Business, the story ran in the Wall Street Journal and on Reuters.
I actually had been thinking about this for some time-the possibility that there are claims made by the company that have not been substantiated-but the one that really scares me is the plasma testing that Gist Alliance (I think some how a part of Novartis) was doing-how do we know if their results are true-and not just a scare tactic to "up" the dosage.
The FDA also accused Novartis of not keeping the public informed of all of the side effects-and I know that to be true first hand. Everyone in the GIST community laughs about it-but I for one never thought it was that funny.
Not for nuttin' (as we say here in NJ) the drug is definitely saving lives-but what are they not telling us about the ones who didn't survive-oops-our bad?
In the meantime-they laid off 400 employees-and outsourced those jobs overseas-my inside source tells me that every year they demand double digit growth-although a story ran last week that they were only projecting single digit growth-however-Gleevec is still their top profit making drug.
I hope they all straighten this out and soon-because a lot of us are betting the farm on Gleevec-and we need to know if Novartis is on the up and up!
Thursday, April 29, 2010
I follow a blog of another Gister and he said he had joined up with Gist Alliance and they are working with Novartis plasma research for Gist-meaning-they check the levels of Gleevec in the blood. They are looking to see if there is a correlation between levels of Gleevec and recurring tumors/cancer. If you're interested you can read about it here.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
I absolutely love the music of Mary Lou Williams and her playing completely inspires me.
I always feel from her playing that she was a "free spirit"-inventing her own way across the piano keyboard. She'll grab some ideas out of this bag and that and then completely turn everything upside down inside out-it's like being on the roller coaster of jazz!
For the past couple of weeks I've been intently listening to Mary Lou's sacred music-and transcribing a few tunes for our upcoming Jazz Vespers at the Allwood Community Church on May 23rd.The recordings I've been listening to and transcribing from are Mary Lou's Mass, Zoning, and Solo Recital Live at the Montreux Jazz Festival 1978. I particularly like "Gloria"-which is on all three recordings, and "Offertory/Meditation" which is only on the Montreux recording. Medi I & II is another tune I transcribed-those are on Mary Lou's Mass and Zoning.
I have a few more tunes to transcribe-the difficulty is which ones to I pick-they're all good!
"O.W." named for the tenor saxophonist Orlando Wright- is a very interesting tune from Mary Lou's Mass-it's starts out like a sort of boogaloo/reggae tune-then it goes into swing-then back again then into another groove. The liner notes say it was also used in Mary Lou's Pittsburgh Mass, and I have it on another recording from 1954-when she was in Paris-but it's a completely different tune. That's one of the things that I love about Mary Lou-she'll take her tunes and put them into any situation-it's all sacred to her.
My fellow musicians for the Jazz Vespers event have requested the tune "Act of Contrition" a very beautiful tune-almost like a jazz art song-short and to the point. It's a ballad that starts off with only a bass line between the piano and bass-which is repeated over and over-then vocalist Honi Gordon comes in-then Mary Lou comes in with the harmony. The vocal line is a lot like the bass line-just a few more ornamentations-almost like she's ghosting the bass line. It's one of those tunes that you say-whoa-what was that-then you have to listen to it a couple of more times.
If we had a vocalist there are many more tunes I would do-including the intriguing "It's Always Spring"-another tune from the Mary Lou's Mass recording. The lead vocalist on that is Leon Thomas-man-that is another era gone by-I sure do miss him too.
So now I'm deciding between "Willis", "Old Time Spiritual" and "Credo"-although I might do all 3.
Meanwhile-if you want to catch up on all things Mary Lou-go to the Mary Lou Foundation website-there are a few concerts coming up, there's video of an interview and of her playing.
The photo of Mary Lou is from their website.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
11-which is the most common of the gene mutations-which is good.
My doctor always says-may you have unremarkable test results and common results.
I just got the email from Dr. Chris Corless of Oregon State Hospital University-he did the gene mutation test for me-and is known for his brilliant work with GIST.
He volunteers a lot of his services-and I cannot tell you how much that means to me-it is a very special gift.
Tania Stutman of the Gist Cancer Research Fund introduced me to Dr. Corless-and asked him if he would do the test. I am so grateful to Tania for making those introductions.
I don't have the full lab results, but from what I have read-Exon 11 is the most common of the gene mutations, and has the longer progression free survival rate. This disease is fairly new-so far I think we have people who have lived 11 or 12 years-and those are the first patients to be diagnosed with GIST.
Also, from what I have read-it looks like I am fine with the 400mg dose-no need to go higher-that's a big relief.
For how long is the question and what are my chances of secondary mutations?
I will have more answers in a few weeks.
But-tonight-I am going to celebrate-because this is very good news!
Thursday, April 15, 2010
I don't know the entire new Health Care Bill, but I have been told that there is a provision in there that penalizes companies who outsource labor.
This decision was made now before those provisions are in place.
Although part of me is happy for the people in India, knowing that there is extreme poverty there, the other part of me is very upset with Novartis.
Gleevec was their biggest profit making drug last year-3.9 billion I believe is what I have read.
I am extremely grateful to Novartis for making Gleevec-which so far has kept me cancer free.
I am extremely grateful to my friend who worked there during it's development and to everyone else for that matter.
But when I take my dosage today, I am going to be thinking about all of those employees who have been laid off, in this very tumultuous economy, hoping that they were given a decent severance package and that they will find new employment very soon.
There just has to be a better way for us to have health care and new innovative therapies, without it costing others so much.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
13 Luminary Women in Jazz!
This Saturday March 27th 7-11pm
CLOVER'S FINE ART GALLERY
338 Atlantic Avenue btw Hoyt & Smith
Brooklyn New York 11201
Schermerhorn/Hoyt street subway station 2 min walk down Hoyt to Atlantic!
Doors open at 6:15 for The Silent Auction-Exciting Donated Gifts auctioned off
Proceeds of the evenings events Donated to Doctor's Without Borders
for the Crisis in Haiti.
Two 90 minute sets of uninterupted Live Jazz in 100 seat posh Art Gallery!
Mala Waldron & Diane Moser-Piano / Noriko Ueda & Anne Iversen-Bass
LaRe! Keisha St. Joan! Lucy Blanco! Singing!
Dr Jan Grice-Bassoon Andrea Brachfeld-Flute Anette Lipson-World Percussion
Special Surprise Guests!
Please join us for this beautiful performance of Live exciting Jazz & support
Women in Jazz, Women's Month & Doctor's Without Borders.
After Party too!
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
There seem to be a lot of stories in the news these days about happiness. Everything from why don't you have it to how you can get it. But this story from the New York Times by Roni Caryn Rabin really caught my attention-it's about engaging in meaningful conversation. Social scientists have done studies that show we are far happier when we engage in meaningful conversation and not very happy when we engage in small talk.
Personally, I always feel a sense of renewed energy after I have engaged in meaningful conversation. I think it's the give and take that occurs during the conversation that somehow energizes me. There's the pleasure of giving to the other person (people) and then there's the satisfaction of having been heard. And then there's the discussion part-where the conversationalist spend time to "suss out" a challenge or problem-and that involves creativity-and that gets my brain going-and I really like that. It's a win win situation.
We all lead very busy lives, but to make time for some real face/ear time I think is essential to well being, I know it is for me.
In the words of my favorite little philosopher Christine..."for real, for real life "
Monday, March 22, 2010
Wow-that was fast-eh?! I just finished writing on the blog about awe inspiring stories, then looked at my email, and there was one from my high school piano teacher-an inspiring woman in her own right, who told me about a story in the Des Moines Register on Al Bell.
Al Bell travel around the world with his wife, they produced their own travelogues, then they would show up at school with all of their stuff, which included tons of musical instruments, their film and give us a show.
Every year I looked forward to seeing Al Bell-I couldn't wait! In my mind, I was traveling there with him and his wife to every country they went to. I was fascinated and thrilled by the sounds of the musical instruments that he brought back. I wanted to be Al Bell!
Those experiences influenced me and inspired me-and still do to this day. Those shows broadened my horizons, taught me about the world outside of Iowa, inspired me to search out other cultures, their foods, their religions, their arts-it inspired me to create the program I ran at the Brooklyn Children's Museum called "Found Sounds"-where I would take instruments from around the world into the pediatric wards of NYC hospitals-and work with very sick and terminally ill children-we played music together and learned about how sound is made.
Even today, when I'm teaching piano, I will pull out my world instrument book, my art history book and I always keep an atlas handy and talk to my students about how cultures influenced the making of music and design of instruments.
You can bet that all week I'll be showing my students the Des Moines Register article.....hope it inspires them too.
As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far place. --Russian Proverb
The article and quote above, arrived in my email box via charityfocus.org, which I highly recommend subscribing to their newsletter, always filled with inspirational stories of one sort or another. This particular article is about which stories, that appear in the newspaper, are emailed the most. The researchers figured it would be all of the "bad news" stories, but instead it was all of the "good news" stories, especially the ones that were awe inspiring.
They talked about a story that had.... an “emotion of self-transcendence, a feeling of admiration and elevation in the face of something greater than the self.”
And how it.." involves the opening and broadening of the mind,” writes Dr. Berger and Dr. Milkman, who is a behavioral economist at Wharton.
“Seeing the Grand Canyon, standing in front of a beautiful piece of art, hearing a grand theory or listening to a beautiful symphony may all inspire awe. So may the revelation of something profound and important in something you may have once seen as ordinary or routine, or seeing a causal connection between important things and seemingly remote causes.”
Dr Berger goes on to say..."people who share this kind of article seem to have loftier motives than trying to impress their friends. They’re seeking emotional communion, emotion in general leads to transmission, and awe is quite a strong emotion.”
So let's take this a little further.....if you are experiencing "awe" , then you are experiencing inspiration, which may propel you to do something you've always wanted to do,go somewhere new (the Dalai Lamma recommends going to one new place every year) a creative project, or just spread a little kindness for the day.
And all of this has a huge impact on our "well being". I watched a "Nova" program last night called "Ghost in your Genes"-it was about epigenetics-very fascinating-they are little chemical tags that can turn a gene on or off. I was riveted to this program, because this is what my medication (Gleevec) is working on-keeping that gene turned off that created the cancer.
They also talked about other factors that can manipulate these little tags-environmental, nutrition, lifestyle, exercise, and of course-emotions and traumatic experiences (which my nutritionist had talked to me about)-and how we can manipulate them back! That's where Gleevec comes in, and the reason for writing this in the first place and that is Jin Shin Jyutsu.
Mark Dresser hipped me to this wonderful body energy work many years ago. I use it everyday, and go to a wonderful practitioner every other month. The main focus of this work is like most body energy practices-to release stuck energy and get it flowing again. In Jin Shin Jyutsu, energy is associated with 5 basic emotions, anxiety, fear,anger,grief, and what they call pre-tense or trying to hard. Then, there are energy locks that are associated with various medical and psychological issues, as well as organ flows. I work on the energy locks for digestion, and mental clarity, and combine that work with meditation. It gets me going in the morning, and de-stresses me in the evening.
So there are genes that we are born with, and little chemical tags that buzz around them that have been influence by environment, lifestyle etc., emotional and psychological trauma-and I forgot to mention that they have proven all of that can also be inherited. But those little tags can be manipulated by reading an inspiring story everyday, passing that along to others, meditating, body energy work, doing something creative, spreading a little kindness, learning something or going somewhere new-even if it's only a new place for lunch or a different route home.
The other part I want to add is something that my first acupuncturist told me "there is the energy that you are born with-ancestral chi-and the chi that you generate"-sounds a little like what these biologist are talking about with genes and epigenes.
So while western medicine-which I am extremely grateful to-finds new ways to manipulate epigenes which in turns eradicates or as they called it-restructuring the cell with the cancer causing protein-I am working on another level of manipulating those little buggers ;-)
And-keeping a look out for "awe inspiring stories".
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Jennings wraps up with some real food for thought: "Strangely enough, although cancer threatened my life it also exalted it, brought with it a bright and terrible clarity.
"So, no, cancer isn’t a battle, a fight. It’s simply life — life raised to a higher power."
Sunday, March 14, 2010
There's a little secret that all of us- who have been on some sort of chemo-have, and that is chemo brain. It's interesting, the reaction I get from my friends who are cancer survivors-we talk about it in a very hushed voice-nobody wants to admit to it-but we all live with it-and "it" chemo brain-is the "new us". The docs didn't tell us we would be fighting this too along with everything else. Once we start the conversation, and we have confirmed for each other that we are experiencing "chemo brain" there is the huge sigh of relief-finally-somebody else understands.
One of my friends hipped me to this website-a wonderful resource-please share it with anyone you may know who is struggling with chemo brain http://www.chemobraininfo.org/
Once I got to the website, and saw the books my friend wanted me to see, I immediately got in touch with my local library-one they had-the other they're getting from another library.
I started perusing thru their articles, and found the first 2 from the NYTimes......
This one "The Fog That Follows Chemotherapy" by Jane E. Brody http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/04/health/04brod.html?emc=eta1 talks about the symptoms of "chemo brain", one of them I had to laugh at-"inability to follow instructions when cooking or knitting"-ha! I tried to re-learn crocheting, I wanted to make a baby blanket for a friends first baby, and I got as far as the first chain, then I completely lost it, couldn't follow the directions, became dizzy-I gave up. (and yes, I had crocheted a baby blanket before...)
The second article "Taking Steps To Cope With Chemo Brain" (same author) http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/11/health/11brod.html?emc=eta1
talks about coping mechanisms-all of which I do except for the ask for help part-although-just this week I had arrived to the conclusion that there are things that I just can't do anymore, and that I would need support. That's a very difficult place to get to and to be in.......but I think the fact that I recognize that now, will help me move forward.
Many folks laugh this off-but I take this very seriously. It's not just about making sure you pay your bills on time, do errands, remember passwords etc. etc.-all of that is remedied by making lists (which I did months and months ago-lists upon lists-and still use).
But it's having conversations, creating art, engaging in life. When those neurotransmitters are on the blink, the light goes out, and all of a sudden I'm in a void.
Many people have this experience after emotional or physical trauma and that rings true for me too. But I'm still taking my "chemo", and the drug is still affecting me in this way-on top of the emotional, physical trauma, and all of the drugs that I had in the hospital and all of the xrays, and cat scans.......
Somehow I think there is a different answer to all of this. How interesting would it be for everyone who has "chemo brain" to just say "okay-I don't really fit into the life I had before, so I think I'll create a new one-one that allows for "chemo brain" . Why are we as a society so insistent on making sure everything goes "back to normal", when in reality, there is no normal, there just "is"-in fact-I wrote a blues about that back in the 80's called "It Is", because that's what our lives are about-whatever "it is" at the moment.
I'm interested in reading about the what's and why's of chemo brain in these books, and maybe I'll have a different viewpoint when I'm done. But my opinion is that "reality" is what is in my mind at any moment in time, and if my mind is experiencing "brown outs and black outs", then I have to go with that.
Or more literally-flow with that.....
Friday, March 12, 2010
This week has been the start of my one year anniversary of my surgery-hospitalization-and generally new life!
Libra Zebra has revamped the opening of the blog,thank you Libra Zebra and I celebrated with my son Chad and my other "2 sons" James and Ryen at out favorite pizza place-Star Tavern in East Orange, NJ-best thin crust pizza in NJ-I know so because the Newark Star Ledger Pizza Patrol Contest says so-plus-we love it!
Monday, March 8, 2010
Although this article refers to "older people"-maybe that means me too, I don't know what the author's idea of an older person is, but I definitely experienced cognitive malfunctions after my hospital experience, and I still do to some extent. Many people just laughed at me when I would try to explain this phenomena, even my doctor told me I was over reacting.
But I know the difference in how my brain worked before I went in and after I came out, and it was distinctly slower on the outbound side.
Maybe some of the cognitive slow down had to do with the trauma of it all in general, I would buy that theory. Multi- tasking for me is not what it used to be, and, my reaction to extreme multi tasking these days usually results in high anxiety (one of my favorite Mel Brooks' films). Sometimes I don't even know I have high anxiety, until I pop! That doesn't happen that often, but when it does "mommy needs a time out"!
Now here's where the benefits of one the "so-called alternative therapies" comes in.
Meditation, is a very useful and beneficial activity. Meditating allows your mind to process information, without really thinking about it. Sounds paradoxical, but it's true.
And there are many different ways to meditate, you don't actually have to sit with legs crossed, index fingers touching, palms up while humming "ohm". I meditate while I'm playing the piano.
I meditate while I'm walking-usually in the park on a circular track-that way I don't get run over by someone who is drinking a latte, talking on their cell phone while driving their car.
I used to meditate while swimming, but I had a very close to drowning type incident and decided that just the zen-like feel I get from swimming would suffice.
Meditation has been proven to lower blood pressure and restore-guess what-brain activity.
I started my exploration of meditation when I was in the 7th grade-I found a book at the library called "Kung Fu Meditations". How a book like that ended up in our tiny town in the middle of Iowa I have no idea. But I followed the steps and found a certain kind of peace that helped me through those crazy middle school years. Now I follow more of the Mindfulness Meditation concepts. There's a lot more leeway in that camp and it fits my lifestyle.
Meditation helps to clear my head so I can work on the repair of those cognitive functions.
I'm not "all there yet"-but I'm much closer than I was a year ago.
Saturday, March 6, 2010
It bugs me that acupuncture, body energy work, meditation, even nutrition are called alternative therapies. There was a time on this planet, that they were the main therapies for healing.
Let's start with acupuncture!
Acupuncture dates back to the stone age. There are hieroglyphics and pictographs of acupuncture and moxibustion from 1600-1100 BCE, the Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine (History of Acupuncture) which was compiled around 305–204 B.C, and in Europe, examinations of the 5,000-year-old mummified body of Ötzi the Iceman have identified 15 groups of tattoos on his body, some of which are located on what are now seen as contemporary acupuncture points. This has been cited as evidence that practices similar to acupuncture may have been practiced elsewhere in Eurasia during the early Bronze Age.
I was introduced to acupuncture by a chiropractor in 1990. I had fallen and rolled down the side of a mountain (not the entire mountain, but a few hundred feet) while backpacking in the Adirondacks. I seemed fine at the time, but one morning, 5 months later, I was in extreme pain and could not walk, I couldn't even get out of bed. Somehow, I made it to my chiropractor, and to the xray lab, to discover that I had a slipped disc. So for the next 3 months, I saw my chiropractor 3 days a week, and, an acupuncturist 2 days a week. I had lost the "electronic" connection in my right leg, which meant I couldn't stand on that leg but could drag it along as I walked, and I was in extreme pain 24/7.
The acupuncturist (also a huge fan of jazz ;-), applied needled and moxibustion. Slowly, the pain decreased. My chiropractor said he would prescribe pain pills, but I didn't want to go that route.
By the 4th month, I was down to 2 days a week at the chiropractor, and 1 day a week for acupuncture.
By the 6th month, the pain was gone and I could walk and stand on my right leg. I went to the YMCA for their "Y's Way To A Healthy Back", a wonderful course that helped me develop abdominal muscles and to learn how to move my body so that I didn't hurt my back. I also started a routine of daily walks.
By the 7th month, I was swimming again, slowly, only a few laps at a time. But by the 8th month I was swimming a half mile a day.
Most of the people I talked to who had experienced a similar accident and set of circumstances advised me to get back surgery. Many of those people are still in pain and have limited mobility.
I'm very happy I didn't go that route.
For the present......
A few weeks after I returned home from the hospital (March 28th, 2009), my current acupuncturist gave me the gift of weekly sessions for a couple of months. If you have never been to an acupuncturist before, the first thing they do is feel your pulse. Well, she could feel a slight pulse on my left, and no pulse on my right (which is where the tumor was). The pulse is not the traditional pulse as in heartbeat, but an energy pulse, actually pulses, which coincide with various meridians of energy. Basically, it tells her where to "fire up the energy line"-my translation, not hers ;-) So as she worked on those meridians, she also used a technique on my scar, to help it to heal and to prevent scarring, which included beads, aluminum foil and a little zapper tool that sent electric pulses-and it's lookin' pretty good now.
We are still working on that right side, the pulse is definitely getting stronger, and the left side is very solid. We're also working on reducing the effects of some of the side effects of the drug-edema, fatigue, foggy brain, cramping-it's a slow go, but there's improvement.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
The 8th Annual Lady Got Chops Women's Month Jazz Festival presents 9-time Award Winning Jazz Singer & accomplished Musician LaRe alongside 10 Luminary Women in Jazz!
Clover's Fine Arts Gallery
338 Atlantic Avenue
two block walk from Hoyt Schermerhorn Train Stop!
Saturday March 27th
Doors open 6pm
Proceeds donated to Doctor's Without Borders relief work in Haiti
Mala Waldron, Diane Moser - Piano
Naoko Ueda - Bass
Keisha St Joa, LaRe, Lucy Blanco - Singers
Annette Lipson - world percussion
Melissa Jean - trombone
Rachel Housle - drums
Special Guest Jazz Performances!
There will be a silent auction of specially donated gifts auctioned off and proceeds will be donated to Dr's Without Borders!
Please be there early to participate & sign up for silent auction!
Kudos to bassist Kim Clarke for putting together a great Lady Got Chops festival lineup for Women's History Month.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
I loved him on my favorite Ahmad Jamal recording-Free Flight!
It turns out that Jamil Nasser was one of the folks-I think along with Jimmy Owens-who started the Jazz Foundation-of whom I owe my life to-they took me on and helped me to connect with Dr Forte and paid for my biopsy at Englewood. Cobi Narita tells me that Dr Forte was Jamil's doctor.
If I hadn't talked to Todd Weeks and Bill Denison at 802-who in turn sent me to the Jazz Foundation-who in turn sent me to Dr. Forte-I would have probably died-and that's not an exaggeration-it was that close.
So I owe Jamil Nasser a great deal that's for sure.
This is from an email that Cobi Narita sent me....
Right now-we're looking at March 21st for Jamil's Celebration of his Life and Gifts at St Peter's Church in NYC-although that's not set yet.
I also wanted to let you know that it was Jamil's idea and his bringing in his friend Dr Forte that started the whole thing at Englewood Hospital. He told me about it before it was no more than an idea. Of course, the brilliant Wendy, whom I dearly love, and others brought the idea to fruition and what it is today.
JAMIL NASSER - born June 21. 1932 - died February 13, 2010
Jamil Nasser (George Joyner) was born in Memphis, Tennessee, where he began his musical career in 1948 as a tuba player in the Booker T Washington High School Band. Shortly thereafter, he was encouraged by his boyhood friend and neighbor, the musical genius Phineas Newborn Jr., to play the bass violin. He began playing the bass in 1949, and was selected to play bass with the school dance band after an impromptu audition. The Director was Phineas Newborn Jr. Jamil and Phineas recorded in Memphis in 1953 for Peacock Records.
After high school, with three all-expense musical scholarships to choose from, he chose Arkansas A.M. & N. College in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, where he organized and led the college band, the State Collegians. They went on to win the Pittsburgh Courier Poll for the "Best College Dance Band of 1950-1951."
After college, Jamil was drafted into the Army and was bassist and arranger for the 3rd Army Special Service Package Shows. Other members included Wynton Kelly, Duke Pearson and Leonard Nimoy (Mr. Spock from Star Trek). During that time, he was commissioned by General Bolling (Commander-In-Chief of the 3rd Army) to orchestrate the overture for the 3rd Army extravaganza, "Southland Panorama," using the 100-man concert orchestra plus the 19-piece dance band.
Upon being released in 1955, Jamil joined BB King’s band as bassist and arranger, and played the Electric Bass (a newly created instrument at that time). Phineas asked Jamil to join him in New York for his debut at the Basin Street East in 1956. They were well received by the musicians and the Jazz fans in New York. The trio was invited on the Birdland tour in 1957. Jamil was featured with the Phineas Newborn Jr. Quartet until 1958.
Thereafter, he was featured bassist with all-star jazz groups in both recording and personal appearances with such notables as Lou Donaldson, Donald Byrd, John Coltrane, Randy Weston, Red Garland, Gene Ammons, Herbie Mann, Al Haig, Lionel Hampton, Anita O’Day, Chuck Wayne and "Philly" Joe Jones, to name a few.
Forming a quartet in 1958 with the late legendary Oscar Dennard (pianist), Idrees Sulieman (trumpet) and Buster Smith (drums), they performed throughout Western and Eastern Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East for three years. After returning to America in 1962, Jamil was musical director and leader of the trio at Chuck's Composite, an East Side night club that was the phenomenon of the early sixties.
Jamil joined the Ahmad Jamal Trio in 1964, along with Frank Gant on drums, an association that lasted for eleven years. During this same period Jamil was vice president of Ahmad Jamal Productions Corporation, Hema Music Incorporated, and Jamal Publishing Corporation. He was President of The King Series, an organization that specialized in special artistic packaging of all-star groups assembled with emphasis on musical compatibillity and historical importance, such as the importent packaging of the quartet which featured Red Garland, Lou Donaldson, Jimmy Cobb and Jamil, which toured Japan to sold-out houses in each city.
As producer of the jazz portion of the first "Memphis In May Festival" in 1977, Jamil assembled expatriate Memphis jazz artists and performed with them to more than 13,000 people on the famous Beale Street. Artists included were Phineas Newborn Jr., George Coleman, Hank Crawford, the late Sonny Criss, Frank Strozier, Harold Mabern and Marvin Stamm, to name but a few.
He served as musical director and bassist for actress/jazz singer Cybill Shepherd's east coast engagements.
Jamil produced and directed the first enormously successful 3-day Westchester Jazz Festival for the Presbyterian Jazz Society in Mount Vernon, N.Y.
He was a Vice Presdent of the Jazz Foundation of American 1990-1995.
He was the CEO and founder of Global International Art, Inc.. (GIA), which had a board consisting of artists and business people whose primary interest was to preserve the classical Jazz Art that is based on the total Black experience of swing-soul and beauty.
As an educator, he was director of jazz workshops at State University of New York st Stony Brook.
For many years, he was music director of the Universal Jazz Coalition, Inc./ Jazz Center of New York. producing special concerts and different workshops for instrumentalists and vocalists. Jamil and his trio, Harold Maben on piano and Frank Gant on drums, conducted well-attended weekly free jam sessions, which were important due to the construcitve critiques offered by the trio.
Among his most notable concerts were the intensely beautiful presentation of his Bassoon Choir, the fulfillment of a long-time dream, under a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts; his concert honoring one of his best friends, Major Holley, titled Bass Ball, his tribute concert for Red Garland was one of the most musically-satisfying concerts of the year; and he, along with Max Roach and Cobi Narita, spearheaded the fundraising concert for his best friend and mentor, Papa Jo Jones, at the Village Gate, raising $15,000 in cash which he presented to Papa Jo.
Jamil’s other mentor and great friend was Lester Young; Jamil used to say that Papa Jo and Prez had their own special language. They watched over Jamil and taught him “the tricks of the trade”. Jamil made the arranements to get Prez out of France and back to the U.S., during his final illness.
For more than a decade, he was George Coleman’s “bassist of choice”, performing in hundreds of supremely successful concerts, where his steady, strong, yet sensitive, lyrical bass lifted the group to new heights with each performance. One of the finest tenors of our time, George never sounded better nor appeared to enjoy the music more than when he played with Jamil.
He was also bassist of choice with Randy Weston for many years; his first performance with Randy (as George Joyner; he legally became Jamil Nasser later in the same year) was at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival. One of the highlights of his working with Randy was performing with the Boston Pops Orchestra. With Randy, he recorded three albums in Paris over one weekend:
Tribute to Duke Ellington
Tribute to Thelonious Monk
Music of Randy Weston
Nasser's great diversity and sensitivity on the bass made him in great demand. He is on hundreds of albums. A few of them, among many others, are:
Outertimeinnerspace Ahmad Jamal-Impulse AS-9226
Ahmad Jamal-Impulse AS-9217
Eddie Heyward Now
Eddie Heyward-Lyn Records EH-1000
Fine and Dandy
Lou Donaldson, Red Garland, Jimmy
Cobb, Jamil Nasser LOB LOC-1022
Al Haig-Jamil Nasser Combo Spotlite SPJ LP20
New York Panorama
George Coleman Quartet Theresa Records TR120
Portraits of Thelonious Monk Randy Weston 3 Album set Polydor France 281-LCO383
Portraits of Duke Ellington Randy Weston Polydor France 281-LCO383
Self Portraits Randy Weston Randy Weston Polydor France 281-LCO383
Thursday, February 11, 2010
We also talked about secondary mutations-which it sounds like they could be inevitable-which could generate new tumors-but as he said-we'll deal with that if it happens.
We also talked about the pros and cons of doing cat scans every 6 months-which is what is suggested by the GIST specialists-but I had a read an article in the NYTimes this week about the amount of radiation that just 1 cat scan can generate-I think they said 1 cat scan equals 400 chest xrays http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/10/health/policy/10radiation.html Yikes!! I had a cat scan almost everyday that first week in the hospital-I should be glowing in the dark by now......
Dr Forte believes that it's dangerous to do too many cat scans-and I have to agree-so I think we'll wait on the next one past the 6 month deadline.
All in all-he says I'm in great health-and we laughed about the cat scan report that said there was nothing remarkable-I said"Oh Dr Forte-it says I'm unremarkable"-which he took seriously and I started to laugh-telling him that I was jokin' with him-he started to laugh too.!
After the doc visit-I picked up my dear friend and lead trumpet player Mike Spengler and we went out for a celebratory lunch for my good news and his birthday!
Today was a very good day!
Friday, February 5, 2010
One day I walked in and Lisle Atkinson was playing bass (I didn't recognize the pianist). A few days later it was Ron Naspo on bass, Bob DeBenedette on piano, and Fred Stoll on drums. That was the day I was picking up barium for my upcoming cat scan, and checking on the insurance pre-cert, good thing I did the checking, the insurance company didn't say yes to all of it-so I had to go back to the doctor's office to figure out the what next scenario-which they did.
Ron, Bob and Fred play every Friday-and possibly Saturday too. Ron and Bob told me that the gig was originally with a trombonist, who has since passed away. Ron and Bob visited me while I was in the hospital last year, on the days that they played in the lobby. It was so wonderful to have them hanging out in my room-swappin' musician stories- of course!
Then a few days after I saw Ron, Bob and Fred, I was there for my chest xray and cat scan. After I was done, I walked over to the cafeteria (hadn't had any food for many hours) and this time it was my dear friend Calvin Hill on bass and Richard Wyans on piano. Calvin and I talked for a little, updating each other on comings and goings. Calvin looks and sounds great! Many of you probably didn't know that Calvin was hospitalized a few weeks after me-but in Paris! We are so grateful that he's fine now.
There's a sign on the piano in the lobby that the music is a contribution to the hospital by-my doctor-Dr Forte. This I believe is part of his promise to Dizzy Gillespie, to keep the music going, and to give medical care to jazz musicians who do not have health insurance.
Going to the hospital can be very stressful, but knowing that I'll be able to hear some wonderful music while I'm there, makes all the difference in the world.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
A SHORT DOCUMENTARY FILM
BY DENNIS CONNORS
SELECTED AS DIRECTOR’S CHOICE FOR
29th BLACK MARIA FILM + VIDEO FESTIVAL
Montclair, NJ Jan 25- “Is it art if he can’t tell us what he’s doing?” is just one of the questions filmmaker and Montclair resident Dennis Connors explores in this short documentary film, a close-up look at Alex Masket and his remarkable work. Alex is a young adult with severe autism. He is functionally non-verbal and makes what we in the verbal world call “art”. Is he expressing himself? Is this his language, and is it our disability if we don’t understand it?
“Breaking Boundaries: the Art of Alex Masket” was filmed from the summer of 2008 thru the summer of 2009 and is 18 minutes long. The music was written by Montclair’s own Diane Moser, and performed by the Diane Moser Quintet featuring local musicians Andy Eulau, Scott Neumann, Ben Williams, and fellow Montclairian Rob Henke.
Opening night award ceremony for the 29th Black Maria Film + Video Festival will take place on February 5th at 7:00 PM at New Jersey City University- Margaret Williams Theatre- Hepburn Hall, Culver Ave. at John F. Kennedy Blvd (201-200-2043). Additional screenings will take place Saturday February at 2:PM at the Newark Museum Bill Johnson Auditorium- 49 Washington Street, Newark, NJ (973-596-6550), and Sunday February 7 at 2:00PM at the AMC9 Cinema-West Orange Film Society- Essex Green Shopping Center 495 Prospect Ave. just off 280 exit 8a in West Orange (973-324-9100).
Director/producer Connors has enjoyed a career in still photography for over 30 years. His work includes editorial, corporate and advertising assignments, as well as personal projects. The recent addition of filmmaking to his toolbox allows him to open new doors and explore his subjects more deeply. His curiosity about what makes people create art fuels his recent explorations in both mediums. In his own words, “I learn by working, and hope that my work can contribute to helping us better understand people that are different than ourselves. Filming Alex for the past 18 months has been an extraordinary journey. I would like to thank the Masket family for allowing me to witness this period of accomplishment in Alex’s life.”
Alex’s work is the cover story in the current issue of Esopus magazine.
For further information about the festival, visit http://www.blackmariafilmfestival.org/Tour
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
We live in a culture that firmly believes that recovery consists of as brief a physical healing process as possible, followed by getting right back on the horse. We prize the stoic, Marlboro man, fade to black, everything's all right, it's just a flesh wound attitude.
But in his article Times reporter Dana Jennings describes his need to slow down, despite his impulse to take care of business as usual. He was "physically game," but unable to focus. "I couldn’t make sense of my cancer-blasted interior landscape," he says. He felt the world was speeding up as he was slowing down.
Eventually he realized, "I had to remove daily pressures from my psyche," Jennings says.
The article left me with the feeling that time does indeed heal all wounds, but the psychic, spiritual, soulful mending will take far longer than the physical.
I've had positive feedback on the article from Diane and two other cancer-surviving friends: All have experienced what Jennings describes.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
they are a group dedicated to helping people like me with GIST-what an amazing group of people!
They had a presentation by a GIST specialist in Colorado-via WebEx-who we heard over the phone and watched a power point presentation about GIST, Exon numbers/mutations, and the various treatments that are available now, and new ones that are just getting out there.
I am so impressed with this group by their dedication and their hard work. They have their own staff of researchers who work with doctors, researchers and drug companies on a multitude of issues concerning GIST. For example, when I new drug is being developed, they send their staff to the drug company and talk with their researchers and provide input from Life Raft members.
There are now Life Raft groups in 50 countries-that's a lot of input.
The most exciting piece of information I received today is that I can send them tissue samples from my tumor (and I'm hoping the pathology department has kept those tissues in paraffin) and they will provide a gene mutation test on the sample and then add that sample to a tissue bank for GIST cancer researchers. This is great news! I have been trying desperately to get my doc to do the gene mutation test-but he doesn't know a lot about that.
The reason for the gene mutation test is to find out what exon number I have-which will in turn tell me several things:my chances for secondary mutations, and,if the dosage of Gleevec needs to be increased, or if I should be on another drug.
There was no talk of getting off of Gleevec.
They talked about 10 years survival rate as being the new thresh hold-when several years ago it used to be 5 years.
So you know where I will be popping into on Monday morning-that's right-my doc's office-let's get this show on the road already!
Friday, January 8, 2010
If you want to see more pix, they're posted at: