Thursday, April 30, 2009

Post 11: Slow Down

Song of the day is Slow Down.

Last night I watched part 6 of The Beatles Anthology. It’s 1966 and things are starting to fall apart. The lads are chased out of the Philippines for snubbing the Marcos family, John says the thing about how The Beatles seem to be more important to kids that Jesus, they fail to fill Shea Stadium, and they are generally burned out from 4 years of playing to massive crowds screaming so loud that they (JPGR) can’t hear what they are playing. They decide they need to slow down-- maybe eliminate live performances and devote more time to making music in the studio. Starting with Sgt Peppers, most of their songs were filled with sounds that precluded live performance (given the technology available back then).

You may have noticed my posts have slowed down. It’s been a busy week.

On Tuesday, I gave my big lecture at Cambridge to the neuroscience community. The neuroscience tradition at Cambridge is incredible: Sherrington, the father of modern neurophysiology and the person who coined the term synapse; Hodgkin and Huxley, who explained how action potentials work; Adrian, who found that neurons respond in proportion to the intensity of their inputs; Barlow, great-grandson of Charles Darwin and modern work in work on the visual system. The crowd was pretty large, but I noticed a few people other than the ones I normally see. I’m pretty sure Hoarce Barlow was there in the front row, which was quite an honor. Sadly, I tried to pack too much into the lecture and had to rush through the end, which shortened the Q and A. But overall I think it went pretty well. Off to drinks on St. Andrews Street, and then to a very nice meal organized by Hannah Critchlow, neuroscience coordinator at Cambridge, and Bill Harris, an American/Canadian ex-patriot who chairs Anatomy and Physiology.

Backtracking. Saturday we had the gig in Grantchester with Simon Baron-Cohen’s group Deep Blue, and Sunday I got together with Bhisma, formerly from Simon’s autism research group, but now starting his own lab. I recorded him playing tabla, basically Indian bongos. Even though I had blown out my preamp and compressor with English electricity and American stupidity (mine), my recording interface has it’s own preamp. So we were able to hook up a couple of mics and have Bishma do his thing while one of my Amygdaloids songs, Theory of My Mind, played. Simon’s group, of course, is known for his work on theory of mind in autism, so it is totally fitting that we should have an autism researcher or two (maybe even Simon) playing on that song. We didn’t include Theory of My Mind on the pre-release version of Brainstorm because we didn’t get around to polishing it. But the tabla sounds awesome and hopefully we will be able to fine tune the recording and include it on the final CD.

Fastforwarding. I’m off to Valencia on Sunday to receive a prize. I have to give 3 lectures there in association with the prize, so I’m busily preparing those now. Once I get there, I’ll be busy with lots of things, like paella, rioja, and avoiding swine flu, as well as giving the lectures.

So slowing down is not an option the Spain week. And when I get back to Cambridge, I only have a few days before chunneling to Paris for the Fyssen Foundation 30th Anniversary gala and symposium. Nancy will join me in Paris for a long awaited rendezvous—we will have been apart for more than a month at that point. She’ll want to hit every museum and gallery in sight, so no rest for the weary.

Slowing down won’t happen after Paris either since I’ll just have a week or so left in Cambridge before returning to NY. It is all going so fast.

Now that I think about it, being away from home shouldn’t be a time when you slow down. You’ve got to take advantage of all the things the places you go have to offer since you only have a little time in each.

By the time I get home summer will be rapidly approaching. The heat and humidity are so powerful in Manhattan in summer that even the most driven New Yorkers slow down. I won’t have to make the decision about when to slow down. Mother Nature will do it for me.

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