In the dead of winter, the temperature is 115°F.  Sweat dripping from my brow, I duck under a parched dobera glabra evergreen for some respite from the hot Ethiopian sun.

Traveling to the Danakil Depression in Ethiopia’s Afar Region, an unforgiving region nestled against an inhospitable border with Eritrea, was not at the top of my bucket list.  After discovering that five travelers were killed by armed rebels in late 2012, the region was the last thing on my mind. Yet, here I was – life infusing electrolyte drink permanently affixed to one hand, a camera to the other, and a mouth hung in awe at the most spectacular scenery I had ever witnessed.


An Afar village girl greeting us as we make our way into the Afar region.

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Strolling around New York City after dinner and a vintage crozes hermitage is high up on my list of fun things to do. The tidal ebb and flow of pedestrians, zig-zagging yellow cabs, bright city lights and rolling pastures with grazing sheep morph into a tapestry of colors, sounds and smells that are uniquely synonymous with the Big Apple.

Wait… did I say rolling pastures and grazing sheep?

Grazing Sheep? At a gas station in NYC?

Grazing Sheep? At a gas station in NYC?

Yes, that's right - sheep in the city!

Yes, that’s right – sheep in the city!

My eyes didn’t deceive.  A former Getty gas station, at the intersection of 10th Avenue and 24th Street, now houses a public art installation known as Getty Station.  A surreal rolling grass landscape features 25 sheep statues.  The entire installation is juxtaposed against the industrial backdrop of a modern gas station.

Grazing Sheep? At a gas station in NYC?

Unleaded BAaaaaaa-aaaa, please!

A representative of Getty Station demystified the strange scene for me.  The exhibit, created by Michal Shvo and Paul Kasmin Gallery, pays homage to the late Francois-Xavier Lalanne, an artist that specialized in surrealistic sculpture.  Lalanne unveiled 7 exhibits over the course of his lifetime featuring his famous stone and bronze sheep sculptures. The first, titled Les Noveaux Moutons, was launched in 1965.  Getty Station, which debuted on September 17, 2013, features the largest collection ever of Lalanne’s ‘moutons’ in a single art exhibit.

Grazing Sheep? At a gas station in NYC?

The exhibit was slated to close on October 20th, 2013 as the location prepares for the construction of luxury apartments.  However, as of mid-November, the exhibit remains publicly viewable.  Visit soon if you’d like to try your hand at shepherding some stone sheep in one of NYC’s strangest outdoor exhibits!

The Sheep Station Vitals:

Location: 239 10th Avenue (Corner of 10th Ave/24th St.)

A little over one year since our visit to Bhutan, we’re reminiscing.  Looking forward to returning to this mystical land!  In the interim, here’s a quick photo journal of sights we miss the most.

2013 Newport Folk Festival.

2013 Newport Folk Festival.

I’ll be the first to admit that my music collection has become stale.  A child of the 80s, my playlist revolves around Duran Duran (don’t judge!), New Order, Pet Shop Boys, Depeche Mode, Michael Jackson and Men at Work. Yes, my iPod playlist could be called a nostalgic journey into yesteryear.  But, to call it fresh would be stretch by anyone’s imagination.

My wife, Joyce, download RDIO two years ago to explore new music.  Our radio dials, previously glued to WPLJ’s Justin Bieber, Rihana and Timberlake infused top 20 pop countdown and Z100’s daily morning show, were replaced by our new RDIO streaming lists. Thus, began our exposure to music a bit off the beaten path.

We booked a trip to Rhode Island to attend the annual Newport Folk Music Festival that took place last weekend.  The festival featured many artists we had recently discovered – The Lumineers (which has since become main stream with their release of “Ho Hey”), The Avett Brothers, The Lone Bellow, Jason Isbell, The Wheeler Brothers, Nicki Bluhm and Michael Kiwanuka.

While my wife had her favorite new artists to check out at the festival, I had my own.  Michael Kiwanuka, a British soul musician, was at the top of the list.  Even before attending the festival, I had fallen in love with Kiwanuka’s chill vibe through his YouTube video collections.

My favorite Kiwanuka song, Bones.

Kiwanuka’s, Home Again.


Michael Kiwanuka: 2013 Newport Folk Festival.

Seeing Michael Kiwanuka up close during his performances at the Newport Folk Festival was a true pleasure.  His vocals were virtually identical to his recorded version but much more impressive was the sheer trance-like state the audience (myself included) was in during his performances.

In an age where music has become a commodity and bands are created in calculated fashion based on previously successful business-recipes, it is refreshing to rediscover true artistry… singers who have a passion for their music, write their own songs and perform every live venue as if it’s their first.

My iPod list will always include my old school 80s tracks… but, what the heck.  Memory is cheap.  Let’s queue in the fresh music!