Saturday, December 21, 2013

How Geo-tags and Tags Change Historical Records

Imagine re-doing history to see where "Elvis checked in."  

That's how I spent 12,000 hours of my time. I helped a lot of dead people check-in as one friend jokes.

Applying geo-tags and tags to  people who never had the internet dramatically changes the lens of history. You can see the past - more revealed - as if social media existed in their time. 

Seeing Sheri Martinelli as a mutual friend of Anais Nin, Ezra Pound, Allen Ginsberg, Charles Bukowski, Marlon Brando, ee cummings and Charlie Parker makes you see her relevance as a muse. 

Patsy Cline checked in at Triangle Diner across from John Handley High to start a "path." Plotted paths of profiles show the where and how of a trail blazed - and intersections with notable people.  You can see places in history that had a great vibe and the melting pot of moments. A dream is mapped to answer how one goes from Triangle Diner to making world history. 

Plotting paths reveals things you never saw in written history. Like why did F Scott Fitzgerald move into the same building (38 West 59th St, New York) as one of his hate-mailers within months of seeing the letter?  Was this move a riposte? 

Suddenly Bob was his neighbor.

After geo-tagging the biography of Steve Jobs, I wondered why he never set foot in Canada. Not publicly anyways. Did he have a thing against Canadians? 

Notable addresses led to other inter-connected addresses. It was incredible to see how Steve Jobs, Michael Jackson, and Princess Diana got onto the same elevator from different floors of Carlyle Hotel. That's a metaphor for what you can see geo-tagging history.  

Geo-patterns defined pathways of trailblazers. You can see how destiny was shaped.  The people who made history at more than 400 places became legends.  Warren Buffett changed history less staying home than a globetrotting Allen Ginsberg who never seemed to have a salary.  

Jump2Spot is the world's largest GPS story atlas featuring where movie scenes, music history, art, invention, books and biographies took place. Stories are also geo-tagged at the world's most photographed spots. The present is also geo-tagged to see the future. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

A World Without Music

The meaning of music has been a lifelong meditation of mine.

When I first heard The Beatles Across the Universe, I was only 7 years old. My mind started to drift and I started seeing things only music could show...imagined dreams.  I’d later get the same feeling listening to songs during a night drive or playing vinyl records for hours. Every time Across The Universe plays, that feeling I had at 7 still lingers. 

* * *  

Music, at its best, invents a new genre. And suddenly, new identities form for a new generation. It's been said many times, music saves lives and  gives people purpose. We are reminded of the human spirit and its power through music. 

Music is present everywhere, every minute. No business is as omnipresent. And it's probably the most taken for granted art, just because it's everywhere. 

So when tasked with  making a business out of music in the modern era, it’s baffling why it’s been such a struggle. Unlike any other business, music is everywhere. It would be hard to find a product people love more than music. Music is also behind some of the most successful technology businesses (Apple, YouTube etc). So why isn’t music as successful as a cellular service? Or a computer company? 

I’ve long blamed copyright. 

Not because I don’t want Artists to be paid, but rather,  the format for copyright is from Elizabethan times and cannot cope with modern behavior and distribution.  It takes years (more than a decade sometimes) before copyright has new laws for channels that never existed before. That's a pace for bankruptcy.

I've listened to a CEO of the world's largest music label tell me just how hard it is to have 2 songs sold together from 2 different artists. He spent years trying to get the rights. Ten years later, it's still not allowed.  If you wonder why Canada doesn't have Pandora or Spotify, look no further than copyright. The laws are different country-to-country. So when you try to make a global business for music, it's impossible. Copyright is about building impenetrable walls between territories. 

Copyright was designed to be geographical and mechanical in nature. It works in a paper world that is internet-less where the product is physical. Copyright works in a music world with boundaries that no longer exist. The industry nobly protects copyright with good intentions for the most part. But it clearly doesn’t work anymore. So keeping copyright  is in essence a slow suicide for the payment of Artists.

Let me illustrate. 

There’s long been a model of having every household pay $5 a month for all-you-can-eat music. Doing the math, that’s already far more than what a household pays for albums today. It's a guarantee of  6-12 albums a year bought by every household.  You can then also easily see how music can charge like a cell phone with premium music services. But copyright cannot accommodate new digital channels. The rights are not there to be given. There’s no geographic border or penny-counting mechanism copyright loves to enforce. And so, this is yet another feasible business model that just dies before birth. Almost every new model for music dies just like this. It gets the axe from copyright. 

I once bought 3000 downloads. But I stopped willingly buying downloads when my machine died and, along with it, the songs were gone. Sure, I had rights to re-download them again…but who has the time to download 3000 songs?  

The pain of losing so many songs has never left me. I loved each Artist. 

* * *
Suddenly, I wondered if music were ever to become extinct. What would that be like?

The radio would only have spoken word – all news, all day long. Talk shows. Movies would only have the grating sounds of the city and human dialogue. Elevators would be quiet. So would every phone, every iPod and every computer.

Phones would no longer ring.

TV commercials would be mostly silent.

You would no longer be able to walk into a bar with music. There’d be no dancing.

Music is the only creative genre where you can walk into any town and see a show. It’s the last daily community on earth in urban centres. There’d be no more community without music.

Long work hours or jogs would be silent or filled with noise.

Baseball stadiums and hockey arenas would only have the din of the crowd.  No more marching bands at football games. 

Video games would only have gunfire and sound f/x .

No choirs would fill a church. No more Christmas caroling.

Many Apple products would be out of business. I actually can't see anyone wanting to use a computer without music. Music is a machine's creative soul. 

YouTube would be would be out of business. 

The awesome spirit of life can no longer be represented in sound.

* * *

But this is far from reality. Today, the opposite is happening. We have more songs released in one year than all songs combined in music history before the internet.

It got fixed by copyright at 99 cents a song without requirement to recommend or rank 1 song admidst 28 million other songs. The odds of being found are miniscule unless you personally know the Artist.  An Artist is a small fish in the world’s largest creative pond, making less than buck if discovered.

So the net math is…great undiscovered music is buried.  Few musicians make money. Copyright rules. And there’s oversupply (by a lot). Today there are more songs released in 1 year than 25x the entire back catalogue of music before downloads. 

We have plenty of music but great music is dying.

Everyone has the tools to make a song fast. Few have the wherewithal to make a great song last, and if so, be found. 

In some years, Top 10 songs account for 80% of the revenues. 


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

"Squeezing complicated lives into a simple headline"

Media has no time for courage today. It's click as fast as possible. 

To get a story, Nellie Bly fooled NYPD, the New York Times, New York Sun, Bellevue doctors and a judge feigning insanity to expose asylum conditions on Roosevelt Island as an undercover patient.  She wrote Ten Days In A Mad-House for Joseph Pulitzer's New York World

Today, gourmet stories are no longer digested. Readers drink quick Kool-Aid. 

"Squeezing complicated lives into a simple headline." 

Nellie's next journalistic expedition set a world record for going "Around the World in 72 Days." She went from Jersey to Jersey meeting Jules Verne in France.

Today, media is about being "liked." "Like" is the world's most popular human activity for ads.  


Grew up in Pittsburgh 

Nellie broke into journalism at age 21, when women were unwelcome, writing in a steel town. She persisted writing on topics no one else had challenged, defining the essence of investigative journalism. 

929 Flushing Ave, Brooklyn

Later Nellie  invented stacking garbage cans and a new kind of milk container. She received patents, becoming a leading industrialist. That all ended when her staff embezzled funds. She returned to journalism, and the world was probably better for it. 

words no longer kept

i saw the best minds of a generation
busy hysterically
yearning to be free
from the machinery

tech lets you do more
of less and less
gives you speed
to be busier and busier

people write more 
conveying less and less
words are no longer kept
words without beats

(words that stay in the memory beat on)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


94 St Mark's Place, NY

Truth be told, I was afraid.

Though I was shielded by darkness in the audience, this was a room, where it felt like all eyes were upon you (and looking through you).

Everyone was unique. That’s the toughest audience you can possibly get. 

I mean, can you imagine if poet Tim Shea and Joe Yoga were to uniquely articulate thoughts about your art? Art is always in mixed emotion so I’d not expect one flavor. Or, can you imagine Mike Milazzo playing guitar strings so hard, and you wondering if you worked hard enough for Art?   And what if you saw Killy Mockstar Dwyer creating physical illusions with dazzling movements, making you wonder if your art was even magical? And let’s face it, having a guy named “Satan” as a viewer can be intimidating. 

Unique people make you question a lot--and wonder in awe. 

So much could unexpectedly happen in 7 minutes. And so much did. 

If people were to ask, where can you find a place to be creatively versatile like  Patti Smith, this basement room would be it at Under St Mark's Theater where Penny's Open Mic has been staged every Tuesday for 6 years.  It’s not just because of sheer madness – people singing “Where Is My Mind?” – that Penny’s Open Mic poetically lasted this long. Not even Sandy  pummeling Manhattan lights could stop Penny's Open Mic on a Tuesday. 

I note: No power outage made “Somehwere in the Dark” look darker.  After Sandy, the  flag of piracy that said "Penny’s Open Mic" still waved outside Penny’s famed Ludlow  Street APT candlelit above a darkened bar sign. Power out.  

There’s something special about a stage that heralds uniqueness.

I’ve written three times already on Penny’s Open Mic, inspired by a different muse each time that came with the night. For the final  night of Penny’s Open Mic,  I didn’t want to reminisce about what was written because who repeats an act on a stage that is all about uniqueness?

But this is true. When I wrote those 3 pieces about Penny’s Open Mic, I didn’t tell anyone. I was truly afraid of what so many unique talents would think--even after I’d written a well-received piece about that night of “Risk." The second piece on "Avant Garde" night was  in the style of surrealism, fragmented like a Picasso painting. Did it work out? I didn’t know.

I’d wait months – sometimes half a year – before people would discover the writing posted quietly. They’d say they liked it or loved it, and until then,  I thought no one did.

A writer hears a voice to write but sometimes you think only you understand that voice. That’s the nature of unique.

They’ll be a lot of people who are tone deaf to the voice of unique.

But not on this stage. People who are unlike you will like you. Their differences will sharpen your work, making it edgier.  

Penny Pollak is magic. I always say she should be the Mayor of New York because she knows how to host “unique.” After  6 years, she'll be doing it one last Tuesday, August 27, 2013. 

She'll be having a new exciting creative chapter next. It’s no surprise American X director Tony Kaye is making the film Abigail with Penny. They are two individuals who break the mold.

Who doesn’t love Penny’s creativity, spirit and blue jacket found on the fence?  Not to mention her fire breathing.

She uniquely can make a small space seem so big, turning a bathtub into a stage.  Winnipeg and Scotland know.

* * *

Her eyes didn't just look at you.
They sent a spirit into you and you suddenly performed. 

The underground is not about press. But I’ll tell ya, the press wrote stuff they never write for any place else:

"Possibly the best venue in New York City for performers who like to take risks." 
 ~ CBS 
 “Every Tuesday night, in a tiny theater hidden below a busy East Village street, some of the city’s most inventive minds take the stage.”  ~ New York Magazine.

And I say, in my lifetime, it’s the best deal in New York ever. For $3, you will see crafty words and performances from people who believe:

* * *

I had writer’s block on what to write one last time for Penny’s Open Mic. Then the  muse finally came.  

"nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping"

I was inspired by Killy Mockstar Dwyer’s speech for Revelation night at Penny's Open Mic:

I think one, if not the most important revelation that I came to gradually over my time at Penny's Open Mic, is that I truly wanted do something that no one else is doing. To strive every day for that almost impossible goal, anyway. I wanted to be an entirely unique artist and entertainer. To be incomparable. I think after more than 6 years of trial, error, success and failure, I am pretty damn close. I'm not really a comedian. I'm not exactly a musician. I'm not an actress or a dancer or a puppeteer or a filmmaker. I'm a imperfectly perfect amalgamation of all of those things and more. I'm someone that rebels against fitting in and following a path. With the help of Penny and Penny's Open Mic I blazed my own zigzagging, bumpy, beautiful winding road, flanked with the lovely graffiti of experience, failure, love, support, time, bravery and risk - with lifelong friends to hold my hand along the way. There aren't words that offer my gratitude for the space to fall and fly - "jump and the net will appear". There is only the still forming, ever changing artist that stands before the audience wherever I land, giving 110% of everything I am and the residual experience of every performance I had the esteemed honor to witness and learn from in a underground, black box theater on St. Marks street.”

She was the hardest act to describe.  So in that regard, that’s how unique she’s been. Words do not exist yet to describe her. 

* * * 

Addendum -  Week #314 straight, Penny's Open Mic #314.  68 people showed up to perform. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

US Economic Forecast

The business of liberty can no longer afford rent. A new luxury condo called The Liberty is expected to take over. The prestigious penthouse is expected to go for a record-breaking price. The lower levels will pay homage to the United Nations recently demolished to make way for a taller luxury condo charging triple the rent. Every Liberty suite has an waterfront view. If you have too much money, and are looking for a 5th offshore home you don’t really use often, this is the place for you.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Next Wave of Geo-Tagging

“It’s what we don’t know that is the breakthrough.”

Investors Geo-Tagged: The investment trail of Chris Sacca 
Quora CEO & Former Facebook CTO 

* * *

It’s time for a leap in the geo-space.

So much is known about a place, but so little is represented.

A big missing strategic piece has always been the lack of compelling content to measure up to the capabilities of Google Goggles or even  Apple and Google Maps. 

Viewers have not been impressed with generic photos, recycled listings, ads looking like Times Square or unmeaningful user-generated words geo-tagged to “augment” a rich geographical world.

Foursquare and Facebook check-ins could certainly be re-vitalized by better content. Travel/accommodation sites could also spike interest with greater location intelligence.

* * *

To make places more interesting,  Jump2Spot embarked on a mammoth project to geo-tag digital content that had been curated daily and collected  over 7 years. 

10,000 hours was spent geo-tagging notable photos and iconic stories (new and old).

A new kind of "augmented reality" has been created. You can see where Bob Dylan was photographed for an album cover, wrote a song or bought a house. You can follow the footsteps of  Steve Jobs, to where he invented new ideas, regularly ate, met notable people, traveled and lived. You can see where Audrey Hepburn or Madonna checked-in. You can see where The Godfather made an offer that “can’t be refused.” Or where a lesser known photographer took a stunning photo.

Today Jump2Spot's GPS atlas is more than double the world’s longest novel in words, accompanied by notable visuals geo-tagged. It is already larger than the world's first  digital encyclopedia.

Stories can be seen near the most photographed spots in the world and on every block in Manhattan. New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, London, Paris, Toronto, Chicago,  Vancouver, Dublin, Boston, Washington DC, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Montreal, and Rome  have become  “story networks” where geo-patterns and geo-connections can be seen.

A new form of geo-journalism emerged - to chronicle what happened at a place, its stories geo-tagged there.  News is geo-indexed.  

A new form of geo-history emerged - to time lapse what happened at a place over  a century. 

New history has been discovered from old history via  geo-intersections disclosing factoids seen only by mapping stories at a common place.  Who knew F Scott Fitzgerald moved into the same apartment building of his hate mailer within months of receiving his letter? 

* * *

So where does a stand-out geo-library go from here?

 Jump2Spot 2.0 blueprinting 
at U2 producer ’s place

In the tech space, too many build what they know. But it’s what we don’t know that breaks through. Or as my math prof once said, “You have to twist your mind to see it.”

There are formulas for status quo but there are none for breakthrough.  

At first, Jump2Spot 2.0  focused on a new kind visual geo-zine showing cool things near any place - including stories matching your interests and stories connecting people at places.  But  a convenient process where you don’t have to do much while on the go  became paramount. These days, even opening a new app is quite a chore – especially if you have 100 apps on your phone.

Today you can open Jump2Spot 1.0 and see stories nearby instantly without pressing a button. Or alternatively, type an address to see stories near a place top of mind. It’s so simple but still too much in this era of serve me (who has no time) conveniently.

The Jump2Spot 2.0 blueprint is now focused on having your  instant camera shots trigger story annotations for your photos.

When you use your camera, Jump2Spot 2.0 could automatically  inform you  about objects in your photo – and notable stories related to the spot.. You will no longer be clueless about the place you just photographed.  

Additionally, it can alert you of interesting things to photograph nearby. 

* * * 
A lot of brain power is behind this start up. 

There's  a pre-seed stage  advisory board that includes a tech executive who managed Cisco and Motorola;  digital product leaders with global experience at AirBnB,  Blackberry’s Instant Messenger,  the New York Times and TV Guide; a museum app guru  at the  Royal Ontario Museum; and community leaders involved with Esri, Ushahidi, TED, and SxSW. Friends with experience at  Intel, Harvard, and a leading VC have put thought into it.

Thousands of people have reacted to stories shared by Jump2Spot 1.0 to give valuable feedback. 

Founders are personally active in communities now spanning 9 cities - and it's clear a creative or leading edge audience expects a highly visual, relevant and resonating, convenient experience. 

The geo-story assets are tremendously rich, but it’ll come down to the execution of  product convenience. 

Stay tuned.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Songs from the Empty Chair

I sat at my chair wondering where to start.

This image of an empty chair kept on gleaming in my head.

In Andy Warhol's chair (1985-86),
Caffe Vivaldi founder Ishrat Ansari

At a cafeI recently took pictures of every chair in daylight.

It dawned on me  these chairs represent an entire community and history.  More than 100,000 artists have sat in them.

A chair was once even used as a drum.

I  photographed Josh Taylor from his chair so he could see what he looked like from his own point of view.   

No one has sat where I am more than Josh.

It’s discernible that every regular has had a regular seat – at least in memory. Like band positions on a stage. 

At the window (1st table from the corner) is Marcus Mumford's chair, where he sat after singing with Oscar Issac

The next year Coen brothers' Inside Llewyn Davis -- in which Oscar stars as a singer in Greenwich Village -- won the Grand Prix for the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.  

Mumford's chair is also where Rachel Epp sat regularly with Mary Jennings. 

Every cafe chair has had a person on a poster.   

Rachel once told me she wanted to give  Beautiful Like This  (a song about a surviving farm where she grew up) to Farm Aid.

It has a cool line about seeing things from a  "passenger seat."  I listened while in Josh Taylor's seat.

A video made from our conversation was suddenly shared farm-to-farm in upstate New York, tweeted weekly for months.  Responses came from so many people we'd never met - including Mark Ruffalo and Mariel Hemingway. Next thing I know, Farm Aid is coming to upstate New York. I kept on flashing back to our first conversation. The seat gleamed like magic.  

At Rachel’s regular seat, friends of Jeremy Sisto (Law & Order, Six Feet Under) once shared a table. Sisto dialogued with them from stage before he closed with a rousing Just Cuz.

Al Pacino sat at this table too eating a salad when he first frequented Caffe Vivaldi.  So did Ethan Hawke on a night his daughter Maya sang, and he later joined her on stage. 

Nearby,  Maya's mom Uma Thurman sat in the middle row  across from Andy Warhol’s chair.

Warhol's chair was across from here. 
He snapped pictures in daylight. 

A half circle of people once huddled around Al Pacino sitting by the fireplace. He then declared he would direct his debut feature film here (Chinese Coffee). Bette Midler celebrated her birthday there. Rob Reiner (When Harry Met Sally) and John Cusack once sat around there too. This might be New York’s last public fireplace in a cafe.

Bob Dylan sits on a piano chair
looking towards Jones Street
where he was photographed
for a 1963 album cover 

In the corner table by pictures from Woody Allen's Oscar-winning Bullets Over Broadway (1994),  writer Joseph Brodsky sat with his glass of wine. The world press came to interview him here after he'd won the Nobel Prize.  That’s just one story.  In a community, every story is just one thread of a  tapestry.

It is possible Woody Allen has sat in every chair here. He did shoot two movies 15 years apart here: Bullets Over Broadway (1994) and, more recently, Seinfeld co-creator Larry David sat outside Caffe Vivaldi for Woody Allen’s Whatever Works (2009).

There was once a bench  outside 32 Jones Street on which many singer-songwriters sat. There's a mystical wind blowin' down Jones. Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan was photographed on Jones. It’s why Steve Earle moved to Jones. 

9 Jones 

But these days, guitar players stand and wait on Jones before going on stage at Caffe Vivaldi. For Robert Johnson’s Centennial, Jeff Buckley guitarist Gary Lucas stood here before he went on to play some amazing finger-picking guitar.  At Josh Taylor's seat,  I saw why Rolling Stone called him "one of the best and most original guitarists in America."

* * *

At the chair jetting out most from the round bar,  the Closer, aka Erik Frandsen,  arriving at last call, would sit on Monday nights playing the last song, his guitar unplugged.  I often sat at that chair in my earlier years here. The Grammy Awards once asked me to storyboard a photo community illustrating the meaning of music and this is where I sketched the concept. 

At closing, Monday nights, Erik has sung duets and played guitar with Kate Sland who poured last drinks and sang from behind the bar. 

 Erik Frandsen took Josh Taylor's seat this time!

Erik is still at the heart and soul of Greenwich Village music.  I think the late Dave Van Ronk - whose memoir inspired the latest Coen brothers film - would readily bestow Erik the title of Mayor of MacDougal.  Besides Joel Zighel who operates Jones Street Wines nearby,  Erik might be the only Village local who regularly plays here. Long ago, he recorded with Bob Dylan when Dylan was local. More recently, Erik has appeared on The Colbert Report as a funny man. Blues players have told me Erik is the reason why they play guitar. And one night, I saw Erik play slide guitar for Robert Johnson’s Centennial hosted by vintage guitar connoisseur Zeke Schein who found the 3rd known photo of Robert Johnson. That was once only and I’ll never forget it.

It’s good to know the best values of Greenwich Village are still being passed around this café. There’s no cover, no minimum drinks and no RSVP. Only open access. You just come right in and freely listen or play. And you’ll meet people you’ll know for life.

I used to get a bar seat at 7 pm on Open Mic Mondays. But now you have to arrive 5:15 pm  before the café opens 5:30 pm to get one. Blame it on hosts Kate Sland and now Tracy Thorne whose songwriting I love and personalities will show you a new life. You’ll be outside of yourself. 

I first saw Kate Sland sitting in Josh Taylor's seat waiting for her shift to start. That was nearly 7 years ago.  I don’t think I’ve seen her sitting since (working 3-5 jobs here).  She served every chair drinks/food somehow within the ticking time of 1-2 songs before calling up the next Open Mic artist. That was after washing dishes (once upon a time), doing sound and talking to patrons. That night, she also sang Jeff Buckley’s Mojo Pin and  Lover, You Should’ve Come Over. 

Years later, I’d sit in Josh Taylor’s seat and see Jeff Buckley’s guitarist  Gary Lucas play Mojo Pin. Magic got summoned. 

Producer-guitarist Will Hensley also sat at Josh’s chair when Tracy Thorne first asked about working together on an album. They’ve since released I Am That.

On my birthday, sitting in my regular chair, I wondered how far I'd come. And this is true, I sat next to someone on my left from my birthplace. And, on my right, someone was born on my birthday. I’ve had a lot of strange intersections here. I once waited for friends driving from Memphis 24 hours to get here and a man from Memphis sat next to me. In San Francisco, I once bumped into someone who regularly sat next to me at this café.

Music vagabonds drift in from all over the world - as far as Paris, Scandanavia and Tokyo -  like some magnetic force is here.   It must be music ley lines or something. 

* * *

I watched Caffe Vivaldi's live daily webcast from Canada for Kate Sland’s going away to California. So did folks from Sweden. Johnny Boy from Hoboken stood on a chair aiming high as he sang Kate Sland's  song Aim Low. True to his own song, he might've been the "Last Man Standing" on a chair singing  a song here.

Every chair here has a story.

Layers of people have sat on them. I would hazard to guess that Kristin Hoffmann sat on the piano bench most. Kristin Hoffman  just celebrated her 10th year here…400+ sets. 

Kristin Hoffmann on the wall 

Her long-time friend NLX once went from this piano seat to catch a Canada-bound bus seat in Midtown. Somehow she made it in 14 minutes, 30 seconds before departure. 

Before the Closer was here, I once saw Dani Mari after closing. Lights out, she sat on the corner bench, where everyone piles guitars now. She started fiddling around on her guitar, whispering words, before heading home to Philly. Next thing I know,  there are two rows of chairs huddled around that bench as she sung.  It was like you could hear your soul in dialogue with that song. I’ll never forget that feeling.

So next time you sit in a radiant chair, you never know what new history will manifest.  Every square foot here has a story. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Country Free

Often, we see the country for what it has: majestic beauty.  Hues that only a people-less nature can offer.

Lately, I’ve been pondering what it doesn’t have. And I think it contributes equally to this sanctuary for the soul.

For starters, the country doesn’t often have headlines beyond stories like “the wild chives and buttercups” are out.

Photo by @NYFarmer from Twitter 

That’s quite a contrast to Toronto, a city where political intellect focuses on a Mayor and his association with crack. Or some crazy thing people have done causing outrage. 

There’s not much politics for the mind out here. You couldn’t even make it up.

Less people also means there is less a feeling of inequality or injustice – unless we’re talking about dial up connections and internet access.

Sanctuary from media is soulful.

It is beautiful.

One national columnist I knew pondered how far he’d have to travel to hear no news. “That’s a vacation.”

A place where the news is seeing each drop of rain, each snowflake falling, each leaf blowing in the wind or a ray of sun hitting the water. Where we feel the pulse of life.

I have gone up to 11 days without spending a dime. I can even work 15 hours uninterrupted.

In the City, I can’t recall a day that happened. The City is set up to tap into your pockets and time like a suction cup. There seems to always be the next obligation of the day, these days, twice at once.

The seduction of bars and live events – or a constant desire to leave home to socialize…leave 4  walls closing in…compel the cabbing, the driving, the cycling, or public transit to the next stop.

In the country, there is only one stop – here.

No rush hour or New York minute. No competition for attention. Only the timeless state of being.

The eyes pay attention if there’s purple suddenly in the field. Animals roam freely unleashed.

No pre-defined path for circulation 

You can hear a heartbeat and see the stars.

It would be hard to see man-made rules top of mind.

The nearest traffic light is miles away. There’s not even a No Parking or No Stopping sign, from this time to part of next time.

There is no timeline. There is no need to even parallel park.

I can’t even remember the last time I saw a stranger in angst saying, “I had a bad day.”

Road rage between walkers, bikers and drivers – the country has no such collisions. There is no need to shoot someone the bird. We’d be grateful to just see another person.

The pre-conceived guarded behaviour against unruly behaviour is let go.

People at the nearest gas station, liquor store, DVD rental stop, and post office all know me even if I haven’t shown up in 6 months. Sometimes I think I see them more than good friends I know in the City.  Everyone is so busy in the City. All the time. Double time.

In the country, the manufactured pre-occupations are gone. The strangeness of strangers or distance of friends in their own world, non-existent.

The sun rises every morning. And it is noticed.

Later in the night, a firefly visited