Do you have many shoes? I don´t. In fact, shoes are a top item on my gotta-buy-sometime-very-soon list. I recently got two pairs back from repair, and it was such a relief! I say it a very practical, non-shoe fetishist way. I just happen to have a very limited number of choices and any item matters.

Maybe you are one of those “sneakers will do everywhere” kind of person. There are so many of you out there! I admit it: maybe a tiny part of me envies you, but I could never be part of the gang (same applies for the “jeans will do in any occasion” fandom). And then there’s also this particular group, whose skills I truly admire: people that actually feel comfortable in high heels.

You may not believe they exist, and I do not blame you for that. I also used to be skeptical about their existence, until I was warmly welcomed into the house of one of them. Long story short: I had a few stop-over days in Paris on my way to India, and this very nice couple of friends of my good friend M. welcomed me into their lovely place, and by welcome I mean a great dinner and subway tickets. Best hosts ever!

One night we went out and then I had my vision. Walking around Paris cobblestone streets, I realized my hostess was one of those heavenly creatures that rather seem to float, so graceful are their steps. Effortless Parisian elegance, materialized right in front of me.

Anyway, I know my limits and I do not plan to achieve this level of expertise, but after such a long time (ages, it seems) out of stage, and maybe slightly influenced by this series I am streaming, I thought it was the perfect time to practice walking in heels again. Just a little bit. For fun.

My first enthusiasm faded a bit when confronted to the bitter reality of a low-budget season, apparent temperatures of 50º C (!) in Rio, and the Omicron variant, all very good reasons to stay home. Nevertheless, my determination to go back into heels (go figure) was stronger. After cleaning them carefully, I put on my favourite pair and used my apartment as a catwalk, so to speak.

The first steps were not easy, but after a while I was doing the laundry on heels with no problem. A great song started on the playlist, and voilà! I was dancing on my living room and really enjoying it. In heels!

My tiny condo may not have the same magic appeal of the streets in Paris, but I guess as long as I keep moving, it´s all right.

Be seeing you!

G. F.

The biophysicist Norman Holter was responsible for a big step in the history of heart treatment. 1949 he  presented to the world for the first time a portable device for continuously monitoring the electrical activity of the heart for long periods (24 hours or more). The Holter monitor was a true game-changer for Cardiology. Holter even added a noble humanitarian note to the story, by donating the rights to his invention to medicine.

When my cardiologist asked me during a check up, how I felt about including a 24 hour blood pressure monitoring, I remembered all the nice stories about Mr. Holter and cheerfully agreed. Unfortunately, they did not help at all, when the technician adjusted the device that would inflate my left arm each 15 (!) minutes for the next 24 hours. In case this information does not sound bad enough for you, read the next paragraph.

The instructions were clear and yet a bit incomprehensible: 1. stay still after hearing the long beep (measurement starts) and wait until short beep ends to move it again; 2.fill up a paper form with a description of my activities during the day; 3. in case the monitor tiny screen shows “error”, change batteries immediately.; 4. do not leave the device in contact with water, and finally: 5. follow your regular activities, normally. Doubts? No doubts? See you tomorrow, thank you. Next!

The next 24 hours were as unpleasant, as you can imagine with the nice extra touch of very high temperatures, and required a lot of faith in science and a even bigger amount of willing suspension of disbelief (paper form? batteries? act normally?). The following morning, after getting rid of the monitor, I walked myself home and wondered what the result of the readings would show, but I will be very impressed if it is all normal. To anyone, at all.

I let my thoughts fly to that day in 1949 and came to the conclusion that Mr. Holter himself would be disappointed, if he could see how little your invention has advanced compared to others. Think of drones, smartphones and self-driven cars and you will know what I mean.

Anyway, what do we know, me and my foolish heart?

Be seeing you!

G.F.

There is always a lot of expectation around New Year´s Eve. Basically, two main groups dispute endlessly the right thing to be done on this particular night: the ones who prefer to sleep over it and start the New Year fresh and renewed, and the ones who believe you´ve got to have some sort of ritual to assure an auspicious year to come.

As I mentioned before, in Brazil a New Year´s classic ritual is to dress in white. It is one of my favourite traditions, but I have many other personal ones. My mental personal retrospective. As the first dawn of the year approaches, I let my mind fly back to the same period, a year ago. No doubt we moved a few steps forward.

Need an example? The single fact of having a vaccine developed in such a short time is already a huge development for humanity. It should be a sign of hope for humanity, but then again, there is all the mess going on everywhere. Future generations will have problems trying to understand how could we be so brilliant and so dumb at the same time.

Nevertheless, it is hard to pretend that there is nothing going on and that we should live our lives “old normal” style. With protocols changing all the time, it is very hard to plan anything at all, from a single performance to a tour. Artists, booking agents, venue owners, regulars: everyone is frustrated. And tired. Everyone is really tired.

I wish I had a flawless plan for the year starting today. Something that I could share with you, some sort of “5 steps to get it done in 2022” list, but I don´t. There is a lot of uncertainty going on, that´s for sure. Do you know what is also for sure? We will make mistakes. A lot of them. Wanna know why? Because life is like a concert.

As I say to my musicians before going on stage, it doesn´t matter how many times we have rehearsed and prepared ourselves for the show. There will always be some surprise in the middle of the way.

You don´t have to look for the unexpected (you don´t need to), but when it comes, don´t fight it. Embrace it, adjust the route and move on.

Enjoy your New Year.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

Corporations always win. The average individual, caught in the net of big companies, which will decide all aspects of their lives. From what you eat, to where you keep your money; from how you spend your leisure time to with whom you spend your pleasure time, there is always a corporation involved. Not even religious dates manage to escape the voracious radar of corporations and Christmas is no exception.

My story begins early in the month, on December 6th. On that day I bought online eighteen packages of Panettone to give as a present to family and friends. In Brazil, the Italian yeast-leavened bread, usually made with raisins, candied fruit peels, almonds, and a bit of brandy is a holiday traditional, and I was very happy for the good deal. With the delivery due to the fourteenth, what could go wrong? Well, quite a lot, as I would find out.

By the 10th it was clear to me that the package would not arrive on time. My account on the web store kept showing: “preparing your order” and the web chat was not a big help either. One day, I waited online for seven hours (I started in the 79th position on the line) just to be automatically disconnect, when the counter showed there were three people ahead of me. Pure evil? A total lack of organization? A mix of both?

I was not only very angry about not getting any kind of attention by the company, but also totally frustrated about the lack of my (already plaid) gifts. My sister came with a partial solution: a local super market had enough packages to replace my lost, by the same price. Great! The big corporations would not ruin my Holiday, although there was still the matter of the money to be solved.

On the 15th, since the delivered date had expired, I logged in again on my account on the web store and canceled the purchase. No need to tell you that, again, the company did not contact me. Little did I know, the plot twist was about to happen.

On the 20th the order arrived. Watching that huge box with all the packages laying on living room I felt confused. No sign from the company, no money back, double costs to me, double profits for them (if you consider the replacements bought at the supermarket). I simply did not know what to do, and hated the fact of being made “a hostage” by a big company.

I felt really angry and quite guilty for having such a feeling so close to Christmas. After all, no situation is so bad that it cannot be made worse by guilt. On the following day, I had a great idea, which turned the situation in my favor. A second plot twist: instead of trying to reach the company for a refund, I would simply donate the Panettones to the orphanage I usually help. Of course!

This way, it does not matter anymore, if the company will ever pay me back or, at least, answer one of the numerous e-mails I´ve sent. The packages had already paid themselves, so to speak. This time, the big corporation would not win, for a change.

The next day, the box with the Panettone packages was gone and there was a big empty space in my living room, but my heart was overflowing with pure joy. Since then, I feel ready for a Happy New Year.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

The satirical paper’s headline cut to the chase: “Person Who Bought Something He Really Needed on Black Friday Intrigues Scientists”. Of all the fashions recently imported from the USA, Black Friday is the one that most feeds the consumer monster that lives inside each one of us. First restricted to one day, in Brazil the concept was extended to the entire month of November, with special emphasis on the last Friday, when consumer tension levels reach their highest peaks.

Even if you managed to escape all the “super offers”, it is very likely that the personal item you really needed to buy anyway, ended up in your virtual shopping cart. And then, my friend, before you knew it, a thing or two that perhaps you might need someday have also found their way to it, you know, just to round up the bill (it would be a shame to miss the free shipping after all).

I think there are a lot of elements involved in this equation, and advertising handles them all very well. Greed, timing and, above all, willingness to take part in a collective movement certainly play an important role in this hugely successful formula, to the point that now even banks (!) have started announcing Black Friday deals. Unfortunately they didn’t include really useful things like a mortgage reduction for example, but so what? The important thing is to take part in this party, isn’t it?

Musicians tend to take advantage of the date announcing discounts on the price of their catalogs and merch, and I believe that if you do your homework well, there is a real possibility of extra earnings. And this is precisely my problem with taking advantage of the consumerist delusion for my own cause.

Every year, the last week of November comes too fast for me. I suspect it has to do with the shock of the realization that the end of the year is just around the corner, waiting for us and there is nothing we can do about it. Anyway, I understand you, dear reader, and I know that just like me, you appreciate doing things at your own pace. I also know that this year hasn’t been easy and you need a little help getting ready for 2022.

So, here is my kind of Black Friday, actually Cyber Monday deal: for thirty days you can use the coupon LASTCHANCE for an incredible 65% off on the price of The Touring Jazz Musician – A Guide to Jazz Festivals Worldwide.

The guide has a list of jazz fests that accept entries made directly by artists. It can be consulted by event date, name or country, and the best part is that you get all updated editions of The Touring Jazz Musician – A Guide to Jazz Festivals Worldwide for free!

If you are an independent jazz musician who knows the value of a tool that saves your time, you will not miss this opportunity. Click here to use your coupon.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

Deadlines. How to deal with them? If you ever looked anxiously to the calendar every hour, counting the remaining days until that very important deadline, you know what I mean.

I understand deadlines are part of life in society and I am ready to deal with them. Quick and painless is my usual style, although sometimes I also play the long and suffering mode. Either way, I am not afraid of them. Why? Because I know that the real deal starts right after you have pressed that “send” button.

Waiting for the result of a project is not easy. You did your part, putting all your heart and soul in it (not to talk about a huge amount of time), you double checked all the boxes, uploaded all requested files and now what? You exercise your mental balance and self-control: you wait.

Plenty of songs, from different genres deal with the variety of feelings we experience while waiting for someone or for something. Probably a playlist, with your top ten themes has already started in your head, but what is the thing about waiting?

First of all, it is a word with a lot of meanings. From longing to someone to arrive, to hoping for something to happen, waiting has to do with accepting that there is a limit to our actions. Sometimes, the move is not ours and there is nothing we can do about it. Or is there?

My trick to deal with the torments of waiting is fulfilling it with a meaningful action, instead of simply killing time. It can be a simple thing, such as: taking a shower, doing the laundry, cooking or actively listening to music, whatever makes sense to you.

Once immersed in a new, engaging activity, your perception of time changes completely and the feeling of emptiness brought by the waiting is suddenly gone.

Be seeing you!

G. F.

How do you like to learn new things? I love it! At least, this is what I conclude every time I conquer the procrastination monster and start floating through the garden of delights, also known as: “things I did not know about, but now I do”. Learning is like exercising: if you do not like it, it is probably because you never gave yourself the chance. Actually, our body is programmed to like both.

Falling in love with the subject you are learning about and turning your interest into something that can be shared with others is the basic principle of research, and I am glad to remember this feeling while collect information for a new project in music.

Do you also sometimes wonder about how different your life would be, if you had taken a different step in the past? Sooner or later, we find ourselves at this point on the road, questioning some (maybe all) of our previous choices. No shame on that. Just try not to get lost on it, for it is a tricky road. It can easily lead you to nowhere, so whenever you find yourself in a “coulda, woulda, shoulda” situation, the best thing to do is to fight back using a good argument.

Here is mine: becoming a researcher was one of the most valuable and useful achievements in my life. Researching is learning and learning opens your mind. I could say it using a lot of fancy words, explaining how the process of discovering new things increases brain synapses in a way that learning the next thing is a little bit easier, and the process repeats itself every time you experience new situations. Every time you go outside your box, so to speak. Instead, let´s have it short and straight: learning new stuff makes you more intelligent.

A very intelligent man was born on this day, in 1898. He saw the twentieth century rising, overcame tremendous adversities on his childhood and teenage years and managed to build himself a solid reputation as a lawyer and briefly as a politician. He was an amazing guy and he happened to be my dad. I had him around for a short time, but somehow he has always been quite present in my life. His name was Oséas and I tell more about him here, if you are interested.

I would like to wish him a Happy Birthday and tell him how grateful and honored I am for having him as my father. I know he will get the message. Love always find a way.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

Do you know when you have a full scheduled day, but destiny keeps testing your will, by putting a million little problems on you way? Welcome to my week! From medical appointments to groceries delivery, this week I had to exercise my patience and tolerance for other human beings on a daily basis. Not always successfully, but the really important thing is trying, right?

Here is my trick, when things go wrong: repeat to yourself “it is all Maya”. Again, now breathing: it is all Maya. Felling better already? Sure you are aware of the concept, but just in case, let´s refresh: according to Hinduism and Buddhism, the world we live in is a mere illusion created by gods and demons. Maya is the name of this illusion, by which the universe becomes manifest (did anyone say “Matrix”?).

Write that down, kids: everything you hear, see, smell, taste and touch is nothing but Maya. It does not matter how expensive it was, it does not matter how many “views” and “likes” you were able to pile. Still Maya.

I wonder how this concept could blow the minds of so many people, in a way they cannot even imagine, if they would bother to care. Maya can be a cozy place. However, I doubt it can be enjoyed permanently, unless you double the bet and drown in your own illusions.

It works for a lot of folks, sadly (or not) I does not work for me. I dare to say it does not work for anyone who wants to be considered an artist, for art use our senses to question reality, to doubt what is taken for granted, offering a different perception of the world. That book you love, that song you play, when you are felling sad, that painting that makes your imagination fly, they all use your senses to take you beyond them.

Art defies Maya.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

Lucy is flying right now, while you read this. We cannot see her, but she is up there, somewhere in the big blue sky, diligently fulfilling her mission . You probably read about the space probe sent to a twelve-year journey to many asteroids, and yes, the name is a direct mention to the Beatles´s song.

Earlier on the blog, I shared my reflections with you on space missions. This time, instead of a holistic approach, I would like to address the topic from a different perspective. A very personal one, based on the benefits provided by those who never leave Earth: plants.

Growing up in a house, with a garden and a backyard, plants have always been around me. Although apartments have been my reality for quite a while, I always have a few plants at home. Ok, more than a few (it is not my fault, they multiply themselves, you know?)

Beyond aesthetics, I truly believe plants are, in may aspects, real diamonds (sorry, Lucy), and I am not even talking about the importance of the Amazon forest or the urge for more urban green areas. We do not have to go that far. Let me simply talk about my adorable little plants.

They saved my day many times already, and yet sometimes I forget to nurture them. Well, not last week! I bought this great organic plant compost and followed my usual ritual: jazz playing, cinnamon incense (strongly recommend the masala kind) in the air, a hot cup of tea and lots of time.

No rush, no mobile checking, no further worries. Just some quality time taking care of my plants. Ever tried? A miracle worker! To dive deep: Stevie Wonder’s Journey Through “The Secret Life of Plants

Meanwhile, Lucy keeps on flying high. Down here we keep on our usual mess, plenty of bad things, as we are quite aware of, but also full of wonders, as we frequently forget about.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

Do you change your mood according to the weather? After a week of rainy days, I can say without hesitating: I do! It is hard to keep on the good mood, when nature is basically saying: “let me complete my cycle”.

As Fela Kuti repeated, water, you no get enemy. Not to mention that Gentle Rain is also the name of a very beautiful 1965 Bossa Nova composition by Luiz Bonfá, with lyrics by Matt Dubey. All good references, but maybe because of this melancholic atmosphere, I must confess I simply cannot work very well on rainy days.

My attention becomes fragile and my focus disappears. Not rarely I feel the urge to see old pictures and read again that certain line, on that certain page of that long forgotten book. I am not saying this state of mind it is all bad, not at all.

It can actually be a moment of incredible creativity, with ideas popping up, like little soap bubbles in the air, but as cute as this analogy may sound, if you do not write down or record notes on your ideas, chances are their fate will be the same of the cute little soap bubbles. My suggestion: if the muses visit you, enjoy it, but pay attention to the message. And take notes, please!

Sunny days, on the other hand, bring up that feeling of energy and power we need so much when writing new projects. The muses are gone and it is time to get the job done! After all, deadlines know no mercy, right?

Be seeing you!

G.F.