Music was my first love

by Micky Siamendes

 

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I thought the opening of the latest sim addition, Bar Cafe Fabriken, would be a good angle for some stories about music and what music means to us. I would love to hear others on that subject as well! What does music mean to YOU, what role plays it in your life?

Let me start with my “musical history”. I grew up with music. My dad played the guitar and my mom the zither, rather folkloristic and not really the type of music I liked later on, but back then in toddler times any kind of music was welcome. I learned early that making music was something enjoyable, something that gave people a sort of togetherness and seemed to make them happy. Some of my dearest childhood memories are about hiking trips with friends and family which always ended in sitting around a campfire with my dad playing the guitar and everyone singing.

When my mom would prepare lunch, she always put on the radio. One of those old things that took ages to warm up before you heard anything. And then she would cook and sing along to the old easy listening tunes. (Maybe that’s why her meals always were delicious.)

I got toy instruments all the time, my first was a clarina:

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And my fav one was a toy piano:

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Not to forget my tin drum of course that really drove my mom crazy!

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I started to learn piano and guitar quite early after the obligatory year of horrible recorder that about any child back then had to go through. But becoming a teenager I lost interest in practicing and would rather spend my time with other things. My dad tried to make me stick to it, forcing my ass down on the piano stool, but after some months he gave up on it.

It was later on as an adult when I picked up my guitar again, and even sat down at my piano again. This time playing what I wanted and not what some teacher would force me to practice. I never had the ambition to become a great classical pianist, practicing Bach, Chopin and Beethoven for hours was not my thing. I rather wanted to be able to enter a bar, sit down at the piano and play some jazzy tunes.

And then one day after work I happened to enter a hotel bar in Munich with some friends, and there he was, an old guy, sitting at the piano, playing just like I would have loved to be able to. He sat there, wearing a hat, talking and laughing with the people while he played. I was fascinated and asked the barkeeper about him. His name was Simon Schott, and he was a quite famous bar piano player.

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He seemed a very interesting person and I wanted to get to know him. I kept coming back to that hotel bar (where he had played for over 30 years), standing by the piano, talking to him, listening to him play about any request he got (he had a repertoire of more than 2000 songs), always with a smile on his face.

One day I invited him for dinner and he told me about his more than interesting life. After WW II he played in Paris for Rity Hayworth, Humphrey Bogart (“He didn’t really like his movie ‘Casablanca’ you know, he never asked me to play ‘As time goes by’”) or at private parties of Coco Chanel. He played at ‘Harry’s New York Bar’ and knew people like Jean-Paul Sartre, Ernest Hemingway or John Steinbeck. He was also a writer, he gave me two of his books back then, one about his life and the other one about how to play bar piano, both very interesting reads. He died at age 92 and had played in that hotel bar nearly till his last day.

Here’s a clip about him:

I really liked that guy, and he inspired me a lot to go back to playing the piano. I will never master that instrument, but it is a great way to relax, to soothe my soul, and if I finally succeed in playing a piece I’ve been practising forever, it gives me satisfaction and the feeling of “yes I did it!”.

Music has always been an important part of my life, and I am happy I can play some instruments, even if just good enough for domestic use.

Soooo, what’s your musical story?

And finally for your listening pleasure, here are two of my favorite piano pieces to play:

What is art?

by Micky Siamendes

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I have run into this question many times in my life. And I haven’t found a universally valid answer to it yet. I have been to exhibitions that made me go “wow, that’s amazing!” and I have seen others (like gallons of spilled stinky motoroil on the floor) that made me and probably always will make me go “WTF?!” Same thing when it comes to music – there are musicians that really get me and I consider them fantastic artists and others that make me wanna plug my ears and run away screaming. I have seen movies that touched me deeply and others that just made me shrug and wonder what they really are about although they have been showered with awards.

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In German there is a saying: “Kunst kommt von können.” Basically it means that the word “art” derives from the word for “being capable of doing something, having the skills to do something”, the German word origin actually is like that. Some “operas” I have seen truly made me wonder what other capability than splashing some paint on a canvas or triggering the camera release the artist would have. And I am sure that there are a lot of so called “artists” out there who just have a good laugh at the people standing in awe in front of their works that they actually didn’t put any artistic thought or effort into at all.

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US artist Cynthia Albritton “Plaster Caster” with a plaster cast of Jimi Hendrix’ penis. Her exhibition “Penis Dimension” with 25 penis exhibits has been discussed quite controversal (uhm really wondering why?)

 

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45-year-old Mike Drake has been doing something bizarre in the name of art for over a decade – he’s been collecting all his fingernail clippings, stuffing them in paperweights, and selling them for $300 to $500 a piece! (Yuck, seriously?!)

 

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Like many other animal lovers, Dutch artist Bart Jansen found it hard to part with his pet cat, Orville, after he was hit by a car. So he decided to turn the dead feline into a unique piece of artwork called the Orvillecopter. (Alright, call the guys with the straitjacket!)

 

Yep, some things will definitely just make me flip the bird forever! Even if the artist’s name is Joseph Beuys and the “masterpieces” are worth millions:

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Is this art or can it be removed?

 

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The cleaning staff removed this art installation in an Italian museum, thinking it was leftovers of a heavy party night.

 

On the other hand I am also sure that many artists have an approach that is just only entirely different from mine. A different way of thinking, a different way of looking at things, a different way of perception, a different way of expressing themselves. What seems to be easy to achieve for me may be a huge effort or great achievement for others. Some skills I have that seem to be just part of me or natural to me, others would love to have them (so I’ve been told) or they have to work hard to achieve them. Some things I look at as ordinary and uninspiring to other’s may be special enough to use them for an artwork.

The definition of art is something personal I think. What someone considers art is determined by their own capabilities, by their taste, by their sense of aesthetics and beauty, by their education, maybe even by their dreams, wishes, desires. Art like beauty for me is in the eye of the beholder.

So is art on Furillen. When I scroll through the Flickr group site and look at all the pictures and movies there, there are some that capture my eye instantly and others that make me think “yeah well, ok, another snapshot”. But I also have noticed that I change my way of looking at works once I get to know the people behind them.

So basically I think the main thing is to keep an open mind for everything ranging outside our usual horizon, and that goes for about anything in life. We don’t need to like it all but we should just give things the space they deserve.

Reminds me of the saying “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” which surely has some truth in it.

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So – let’s keep the magic of Furillen alive and encourage and inspire each other! And I sure hope that “Bar Café Fabriken” will be a place where a lot of magic happens.

 

 

Getting involved …

As I never tire of reminding people, Furillen was always about collaborating within a dynamic, constantly-changing virtual space, not putting on a finished sim that sits proudly – but passively – while the vast Flickrite army visits, takes its fill of similar-looking pictures, and moves on to the next place.

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We had our fair share that on the sim – with highs of 400-500 visitors daily, all snapping away. But I am more comfortable with how the sim is evolving, with a steady stream of around 150 visitors daily, many of whom are part of what can only be described as a Furillen ‘community’.

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A sense of belonging and connection is important to many people who regularly ‘play’ Second Life, and I try to support it at Furillen with events, the competition, this blog, and periodic invitations to get involved. We had our flash mobs too, in the past, and no doubt we’ll have some more.

Quite some time ago now, I invited those who read and enjoy this blog – and visit Furillen – to make your own contributions. Just a few words, I said, you don’t need to be Hemingway …

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I had a few takers: Blimp put together a wonderful set of words and pictures called Furillen Crime Scene – she is currently planning another – and Jinx Shipman made a very cool cartoon strip. I’m still waiting for others, so if you have something you want to say, now is a good time …

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Meanwhile, others made fantastic contributions to the sim itself – such as Laura and her gorgeous Yellow Room (and I am sure that Laura will soon be jumping at the chance to do a new room).

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As for the competition, this is now in its fourth round with some wonderful entries that – as with Round 3 – I will be publishing on this blog; and Furillenites have put together some great videos, which celebrate both the sim itself (you can see most of them here), and specific events, such as those made for the Radiohead event (which can be seen here and here and here), and the videos of the events that were made during our Abba event and the disco night.

In future, Furillen will be hosting more exhibitions in its own inimitable style – eschewing the  gallery approach that characterizes most art presentation in Second Life, in favour of the slide show style we enjoyed with Moon Edenbaum’s show earlier this year. There are a few such exhibitions in the pipeline, as you will soon see.

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So there is plenty happening at the sim; indeed we are busier than ever. This weekend we’ll be announcing the winner of Round 4 of the Furillen Photography Competition – entries close tomorrow. I am noticing that while there are fewer entries for this competition – inevitable, given that there is no cash prize and the brief is getting more stringent every time – the standard is going up very high indeed.

Cue tasteless ‘awesome’ GIF …

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What satisfies me most is that almost everything – no, absolutely everything – I have referred to in this post has been made by others: regular (and irregular) visitors to Furillen, many of whom I did not know before the sim opened in October.

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And so it is with our newest venture – Bar Cafe Fabriken. This opens on Saturday, with an evening of Blues music provided by Second Life’s greatest blues exponent, DJ Wolf. The bar as been built and decorated, and is sitting somewhere on the grid, waiting to be moved across – en masse – during the day on Saturday.

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Once again, I am most excited to say that this is not my venture, but ours. Its roots lie in a conversation that took place one evening at Furillen …

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… leading to our first music event – that fabulous Bowie weekend – and evolving into a series of events, through Abba, disco funk, Radiohead to Grease.

Step forward Micky Siamendes, Furillen’s very own mushroom man …

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… whose thoughts about a blues night with a made-for-the-purpose bar evolved into the idea – already mooted by others during the Bowie weekend – that the sim should have its own permanent bar / cafe. Despite being such an obviously dubious character, Micky is also a do-er, and it’s to his great credit that he realised his own vision by building the place himself.

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Micky ‘gets’ Furillen – what it means and what it stands for – and it is in keeping that he thought the project through in terms of the history of the real Furillen, and imagined where the bar might fit in. He writes about this here. Later on today, I’ll be publishing another post by Micky, in which he reflects on art and its role in his life.

Furillen has always been a collaborative sim, but this venture – it will be run by Micky, Dooozy and me – takes this onto a new level. I hope you’ll not only join us on Saturday to celebrate, but think about making your own contributions – with suggestions for themes and performances, pieces of art, and any other ideas.

As some of you will already know, I don’t always have the time or head space for a detailed conversation the moment you get in touch with me, but if you write a few lines on notecard and give me a moment to reflect …

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… well, everything I have written here is testimony to the fact that if an idea has legs, we’ll get it to walk.

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Furillen cartoon strip

I met Jinx Shipman a few days ago and commented on the great cartoon strips in his Flickr stream. I suggested that he might put a strip together at Furillen.

He did. It’s here. And it’s brilliant.

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As you can see, Furillen’s chairs – and your friendly neighbourhood janitor – survived the mindless attack from this little hooligan.

Thanks to Jinx – and I hope he does some more.

Furillen Crime Scene – guest post

In a recent entry I floated the idea of guest posts on this blog. Here is the first one, by blipmumfuzz, who has provided a narrative in words and pictures called ‘Furillen Crime Scene’.

How this post came about is a typical Furillen story. I noticed blipmumfuzz – whom I had never met before – at Furillen using unusual poses (and outfits) in her pictures and checked out her flickr stream. What I found there, particularly in relation to Furillen, reminded me of a travelogue.

Then I spoke to her. She told me that she liked to make pictures that told stories. I suggested she could ramp it up a bit, by adding words to the pictures and making a ‘complete’ story … and then post it here.

What she went on to produce is a wonderful, witty and wacky example of the unusual stories people project on to the Furillen canvas – and of how to combine pictures with words.

Hope you enjoy it as much as I did …

Furillen Crime Scene

by blipmumfuzz

Body of Assassinated Alliance Military Attache - Furillen

Excerpt from Classified Preliminary Report on January 23, 2025: Incident on Furillen Island

Colonel Thea Mandal-Rojas. Murdered by an unknown assassin. Colonel Rojas was on Furillen ostensibly for a holiday. But given her senior position within the Alliance of Southern Cartels’ intelligence services there is speculation that she was here to meet with opposition leaders who oppose the EU’s aggressive and blatant push for a piece of the lucrative Central American coca trade.

This was a professional job. The perpetrator left no evidence of any kind. We speculate that he/she arrived on the 11:45 ferry from Peaton. The body on the roof of the Ferry Terminal belongs to a maintenance worker. The body of an unidentified female was found on the pier. A third body, also female, was found washed up on the beach behind the hotel. At this time we are treating all these cases as the work of the individual responsible for Colonel Rojas’ murder.

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“My father and my grandfather were both ferry pilots. And now look at me…the first female ferry pilot to make the 10-hour run from Nynashamn!

That business last month. They say the person who killed all those people probably came over on MY ferry! All the passengers were later accounted for and cleared by the police. And we did a thorough stowaway check before departing, as we always do per procedures.

That poor girl Lilly from maintenance. Very pretty blond girl. She always waved from the dock when the ferry arrived.

 I surely hope they catch the person who did it.”

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“Hey Mats. Do you think this could be connected to the murder of that Alliance Colonel over at the hotel?

“Don’t know.”

“Captain said within an hour military is gong to be all over this island…plus state, federal, the EU…

“When did he say that?

“Before he sent us out here.”

“That was two hours ago.

“Yeah well what about those two black helicopters parked by the hotel? And those fast boats been circling the island with no lights on?”

“I’m just saying its probably just a robbery.”

“Who is gong to rob someone and leave a suitcase full of cash behind!”

“This ain’t a James Bond movie…and who said there was a suitcase full of cash?”

“The night manager who found the colonel. But then the black helicopters arrived and since then its been total information blackout. They’re saying that the killer was a passenger on the ferry.”

“Forensics have an ID on the girl yet?”

“No. But they think its one of the ferry company’s maintenance staff.”

“Whoever she is she was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“No doubt about that.”

Sir, we have a positive ID on the male... -  Furillen

Sir, we have a positive ID on the male. His name is Bernard Chatenet.

He’s worked for several political and criminal organizations including the FRG during the period it was actively opposing President La Pen’s candidacy. He’s also a Catholic priest with close ties to the Vatican’s intelligence service and military directorate.

He’s a behind the scenes operator. Rarely surfaces. The last time he popped up was three years ago in Reykjavik during the incident involving…

Yes.

Yessir.

Yes. He was in Houston a few weeks before the US government ceded Texas to the Cartels.

SIAC has turned up nothing on what he was doing there. Neither has the CIA.

No, nothing at all.

Yes…I mean no, it’s not likely he’s a Rockets fan. Sorry Sir, I didn’t get the joke.

I haven’t a clue why he is in Furillen meeting with a senior member of the Alliance of Southern Cartel’s intelligence services.

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Breathe in…2…3…4. Breathe out…2…3…4.

Focus.

That’s the manager getting up to pee.

Breathe in…2…3…4. Breathe out…2…3…4.

The cat in the laundry room.

Focus.

Today was her first day at school. She’ll like the pink hat I got her in Stockholm.

Focus.

Breathe in…2…3…4. Breathe out…2…3…4.

Suitcase Full of Money - Furillen

Memorandum, Page 1

To: Asst. Director, EU Office, Exxon Google Corporate Intelligence

From: M. Bennet, Field Officer

Re: Assassination of Colonel Thea Mandal-Rojas, Senior Officer, Alliance of Southern Cartels Intelligence Service

This photograph was taken in Colonel Thea Mandal-Rojas’ hotel room shortly after the Gotland police arrived at the scene. The suitcase contains an estimated 500K in US dollars. The fact that the individual who killed Colonel Rojas did not take any of the money strongly suggests that robbery was not a motive

So why would Colonel Rojas, a senior officer in the Cartels’ intelligence operations, who was in Furillen on holiday have such a large amount of cash in a suitcase in her hotel room?

Our theory is that she got the money from Alexander Chatenet who she met with at the hotel several hours before she was assassinated.

We believe Chatenet is working for the Vatican and that the money was an advance payment for the Colonel’s support in influencing her brother Alberto Rojas, the dissident Cardinal of the Archdiocese of New York and its new mayor.

With the Archdiocese firmly in control of the City Council, the Unions, and every other locus of power in the City, and with New York on the verge of breaking away from the United States, the Vatican desperately wants to bring Cardinal Rojas back into the fold.

For the Cartels, who are now in possession of Texas with its oil fields and vast refinery infrastructure, the last thing they want is for New York to secede just as they’ve solidified their grip on the United States Government, which has, in effect, become a Cartel client state.

Continued…

Dock 3:30 A.M. - Furillen

Memorandum, Page 2

The question is, were the Cartels aware of Colonel Rojas’ business in Furillen, or was she acting “independently”?

We do not know that answer to that question.

The Swedish government, the EU, Interpol, and everybody else have issued APBs for Chatenet. If we can find him we expect he can shed some light on the matter. That said we are not confident that he will be found. In fact, we do not believe he left the island alive.

The assassin has disappeared without a trace.