[Belated] Happy Birthday to Louis Armstrong

This post is overdue by a few weeks (it’s July 22nd, even though I’m dating it the 4th) but it’s something I wanted to make sure I remembered and could share with anyone interested.

It’s said that Jazz was born in America and is enjoyed worldwide, so it was very befitting that the father of jazz, Louis Armstrong, happened to be born on this day – or so that’s what most people believe. From a child, Louis Armstrong had been told by his mother that his birthday was the same day as the country he had been born in. It’s the date associated with his social security number as well as his draft card and other government-issues documents. It wasn’t until scholars found his baptismal papers that it was confirmed that Louis Armstrong was in fact born on August 4, 1901.

That didn’t stop the Louis Armstrong House Museum  (LAHM) from celebrating his birthday in full force on July 4, 2013, however. The LAHM is an organization run by Queens College, CUNY, built to preserve the legacy of Louis Armstrong and the home he shared with his wife Lucille in Corona, Queens, where he spent the last 30 years of his life  up until his death on July 6, 1971 just a month shy of his (real) 71st birthday.

The celebration started with a private complimentary luncheon for members and then followed with a concert from the band Bria’s Hot Five which was open to everyone who purchased a ticket. Being a member of the LAHM, but never having visited the house, I was able get access to the backyard (you need to sign up for a tour to see the inside of house) before most were – though it turns out almost everyone who attended has been to the house before. The backyard, which is an entire lot onto itself, had what could be described as a parasol of intertwined branches and leaves. The high trees gave an abundance of shade, which made it more comfortable on such a hot day, though there was unshaded area where you could sit on benches or admire the small pond. There was also a nice outdoor bar, where they served members some southern fixins like collard greens, mac & cheese, rice & beans and corn bread. Not to mention the delicious birthday cake that everyone got a piece of after the show. It was certainly a great day and a great way to celebrate The 4th of July.

PS: If you bring your mouthpiece to the LAHM archives at Queens College, you’ll get the opportunity to play one of Louis’ actual trumpets.

louis armstrong house museum - welcome desk on July 4, 2013 event
Welcome desk at Louis Armstrong’s House located at 34-56 107th Street
Corona, NY 11368

louis armstrong house museum - luncheon welcome

louis armstrong house museum - inside first floor

louis armstrong house museum - armstrong coronet

louis armstrong house museum - backyard (looking out to 107th street)

louis armstrong house museum - backyard

louis armstrong house museum - backyard

louis armstrong house museum - backyard

bria and the hot five

bria and the hot five. bria playing trumpet.

art deco + urban + zombies = BIOSHOCK

For those of you who are not video game aficionados, like myself, BioShock is a survival horror first-person shooter with role-playing game customization and stealth elements. The game, set in an alternate 1960, but is stylized from the 1920s art deco era, puts the player in the role of a plane crash survivor named Jack, who must explore the underwater city of Rapture, and survive attacks by the mutated beings and mechanical drones that populate it. (wikipedia)

I’ve never actually played the game – I first saw it a few years back, while I was watching a friend play it. But I always remembered it because of the first impression it gave me.  The music was eerie, like something out of The Shining. The phonographs will occasionally play music from the 1930s, 40s and 50s. The mechanics of the zombies remind me of the movie 28 Days Later. But the best and most memorable aspect of the game is the design.  The posters and signs look like something from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. And I especially loved the steam punk inspired characters.

The game has received critical acclaim for its design, and is now being featured in the Smithsonian’s Art of Video Games Exhibit running from March 16, 2012 – September 30, 2012. Irrational Games’ BioShock was one of 240 video games nominated for the exhibit, and became one of the top 80 currently displayed at the museum. To view the full list of games, click here.

“In addition to the 80 games . . . . five playable games will be included in the exhibition: Pac-Man, Super Mario Brothers, The Secret of Monkey Island, Myst, and Flower.” Go to the Smithsonian’s site to download the The Art of Video Games Exhibition Checklist, which features screen shots of classic games like Pac-Man and Donkey Kong, amongst many others.

The museum describes the exhibit as one of the first exhibitions to explore the forty-year evolution of video games as an artistic medium, with a focus on striking visual effects and the creative use of new technologies. It features some of the most influential artists and designers during five eras of game technology, from early pioneers to contemporary designers.”