Saturday, August 30, 2008

(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction (The Rolling Stones)

Loved this article! - FYI, for my friends reading this: should I ever slip into a coma, I hope you know which song I'd like on Repeat Play until I wake up - Love Shack, baby ("tin roof, rusted"... :-)

Rolling Stones classic wakes grandfather from coma
A 60-year-old grandfather woke up from a 10-week coma after his favourite Rolling Stones song was blared into his ears.

By Chris Irvine, 07 Aug 2008

Sam Carter lost consciousness after contracting severe anaemia but was brought back to life when "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" was blared into his ears.

The anthem was the first single the retired baker from Stoke in Staffordshire ever bought, released in 1965 when he was just 17.

Despite only being given a 30 per cent chance of survival, he woke from his coma after his wife Eva, 65, took the doctor's advice and played him his favourite tunes through a set of earphones.

After three days of listening to the local Stoke station Signal 2, his eyes opened as soon as he heard the sound of Mick Jagger's vocals and Keith Richards' guitar riff.

Sam said: "I can't remember much from being in a coma, but I do remember that when that song came on it took me right back to when I was a youngster.

"I could remember how excited I was to get it down at the record shop.

"I suddenly had a burst of energy and knew I had a lot more life left in me and that's when I woke up - to the sound of the first song I ever bought."

Sam, who has three children and six grandchildren, added: "I would love to thank Mick and the rest of the Stones personally - I feel they really did help wake me from my coma."

Wife Eva said she had switched on the radio at Stoke's City General Hospital in a last-ditch attempt to bring him back a fortnight ago, after growing increasingly frustrated with his lack of progress.

She said: "I didn't really think it would work.

"I couldn't believe it when he started opening his eyes and looked at me. It was like we had been given another chance."

SONG: (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction by The Rolling Stones

BOOK: Time Flies When You're in a Coma: The Wisdom of the Metal Gods by Mike Daly (author), Mark Weiss (photographer)

POEM: Chrysalis by Joan Murray

It's mid-September, and in the Magic Wing Butterfly Conservancy
in Deerfield, Massachusetts, the woman at the register
is ringing up the items of a small girl and her mother.
There are pencils and postcards and a paperweight--
all with butterflies--and, chilly but alive,
three monarch caterpillars--in small white boxes
with cellophane tops, and holes punched in their sides.
The girl keeps rearranging them like a shell game
while the cashier chats with her mother: "They have to
feed on milkweed--you can buy it in the nursery outside."
"We've got a field behind our house," the mother answers.
The cashier smiles to show she didn't need the sale:
"And in no time, they'll be on their way to Brazil or Argentina--
or wherever they go--" ("to Mexico," says the girl,
though she's ignored) "and you can watch them
do their thing till they're ready to fly."

I remember the monarchs my son and I brought in one summer
on bright pink flowers we'd picked along the swamp
on Yetter's farm. We were "city folks," eager for nature
and ignorant--we left our TV home--and left the flowers
in a jar on the dry sink in the trailer. We never noticed the
till we puzzled out the mystery of the small black things
on the marble top--which turned out to be their droppings.
And soon, three pale green dollops hung from the carved-out leaves,
each studded with four gold beads--so gold they looked to be
mineral--not animal--a miracle that kept us amazed
as the walls grew clear and the transformed things broke through,
pumped fluid in their wings, dried off--and flew.
I gauge from that memory that it will be next month
before the girls are "ready." I wonder how they'll "fly"
when there's been frost. "And they'll come back next summer,"
the cashier says, "to the very same field--they always do."
I'm sure that isn't true. But why punch holes
in our little hopes when we have so few?

Next month, my mother will have a hole put in her skull
to drain the fluid that's been weighing on her brain.
All summer, she's lain in one hospital or another--
yet the old complainer's never complained.
In Mather, the woman beside her spent a week in a coma,
wrapped like a white cocoon with an open mouth
(a nurse came now and then to dab the drool).
My mother claimed the woman's husband was there too--
"doing what they do"--though it didn't annoy her.
Now she's in Stony Brook--on the eighteenth floor.
I realize I don't know her anymore. When she beat against
the window to break through, they had to strap her down
--and yet how happy and how likeable she's become.
When I visit, I spend my nights in her empty house--
in the bed she and my father used to share. Perhaps they're
there. Perhaps we do come back year after year
to do what we've always done--if we can't make
our way to kingdom come, or lose ourselves altogether.

QUOTE: "There is nothing in the world so much like prayer as music is." ~ William P. Merrill

Friday, August 29, 2008

Norman (Rod MacDonald)

I'm a long-time fan of anything Alfred Hitchcock-ian, both the movies and the forever-ago TV show - loved the way he walked into the profile drawing of himself at the beginning of each week's episode.

His movies were masters of understatement, suspense but not gore - I remember reading once that, in the Psycho shower scene, the knife never touched Janet Leigh's body, but, with the combination of shrieking music, rapid-fire motions and the sheer terror of the situation, it's still one of the most chilling and infamous horror scenes ever. Who could forget the final shot of blood swirling down the drain (the film was in black and white, but you'd swear you saw red)... coupled with a close-up of her glazed, unseeing eye? - many of us took baths only for quite a while!

August 26, 2008
By Tim Briscoe

Maggie Van Ostrand of Film School Rejects recently posted a great article to commemorate what would have been filmmaker
Alfred Hitchcock's 109th birthday. Her article on the movie blog chronicles all 37 of Hitch's cameos in his own movies.

I always knew that this was one of the Master of Suspense's trademarks. He would feature himself in a brief walk-on role in each movie, often times carrying a musical instrument. I had no idea he did it in 37 of his 52 major movies.

Here, from FSR and similar listings on the site and the Wikipedia entry, are all of his brief appearances. How many do you remember?

The Lodger (1926) - :03 at a desk in newsroom and(unconfirmed) part of the crowd at 1:32
Easy Virtue (1927) - :15 walking past tennis court
Blackmail (1929) - :11 reading a book in subway
Murder! (1930) - 1:00 walking past house
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) - :31 walking across screen in trench coat (also unconfirmed)
The 39 Steps (1935) - :06 tossing some litter
Young and Innocent (1938) - :15 holding a camera outside courhouse
The Lady Vanishes (1938) - 1:30 wearing a black coat and smoking a cigarette
Foreign Correspondent (1940) - :13 wearing a coat and hat, reading a newspaper
Rebecca (1940) - 2:03 walking near the phone booth
Mr. and Mrs. Smith (1941) - :43 passing by Robert Montgomery
Suspicion (1941) - :46 mailing a letter
Saboteur (1942) - 1:04 in front of drug store
Shadow of a Doubt (1943) - :17 playing cards on the train
Lifeboat (1944) - :25 in a newspaper ad for Reduco Obesity Slayer
Spellbound (1945) - :35 carrying violin and smoking a cigar
Notorious (1946) - 1:00 drinking champagne
The Paradine Case (1947) - :36 leaving the train carrying a cello
Rope (1948) - :02 holding a newspaper during opening credits and at :55 his silhouette is shown on a neon sign
Under Capricorn (1949) - :04 in the town square during parade and at :14 on the steps of Government House
Stage Fright (1950) - :39 turning back to look at Jane Wyman
Strangers on a Train (1951) - :10 boarding the train with a double bass
I Confess (1953) - :01 walking across top of stairs
Dial M for Murder (1954) - in class reunion photo
Rear Window (1954) - :25 winding clock in the songwriter's apartment
To Catch a Thief (1955) - :10 sitting next to Cary Grant on bus
The Trouble with Harry (1955) - :22 walking past the parked limousine
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) - :25 watching acrobats with his back to the camera
Vertigo (1958) - :11 walking in the street
North by Northwest (1959) - :02 missing a bus
Psycho (1960) - :06 through Janet Leigh's window, wearing a cowboy hat
The Birds (1963) - :02 leaving the pet shop with two white dogs
Marnie (1964) - :05 entering into the hotel corridor
Torn Curtain (1966) - :08 sitting in the lobby with baby on his knee
Topaz (1969) - :33 pushed a wheelchair at the airport
Frenzy (1972) - :03 wearing a bowler hat, not applauding
Family Plot (1976) - :40 shown in silhouette through the door

Looking at the time in the film where Hitch makes his appearance, it seems clear that he started putting it in early. I believe this was so movie-goers who knew of his signature appearances could get it out of the way and focus on the thrills to come.

Here is a video featuring many of the cameos. It even highlights them for you so won't miss them in your next viewing of the Hitchcock movie. Enjoy!

There is a corpse in my cupboard
With withered lips
And a ring in its frozen finger.
The now useless ring on its stiff fingers
is still a puzzle.
I can see a gloomy staircase
leading to a bell tower.
Whatever be the number of the steps
to the top,
the fear of fall is a truth.
Don’t fall in love.
* * * * * *
His presence is obvious.
His unexpected cameos startle me.
I feel the threat of a deadly rope
In my neckscape.
Sure, I am one who knew too much.
He desires my silence.
Ghouls of my sabotaged dreams
Frightens me to death.
The vision from my rear window
opens to the horror of violent birds
That kept circling in the psyche.
The sound of their wings steals my sleep.
* * * * * *
An ominous day opened my ears
To a fatal dial tone
That pursued me ad infinitum.
I must flee.
Any moment He will dial the number I dreaded.
I am afraid of trains.
There will be strangers on trains
On your trail, He tells me
* * * * *
The frenzy of my flight is sure to ungrave
My stage fright, despite all rehearsals, I know.
Que Sera Sera.
Future’s not ours to see.
Sure, God is the bulky guy
Who carries a bird on the tip of his cigar,
The eternal saboteur.

QUOTE: "There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it." ~ Alfred Hitchcock

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Won't Get Fooled Again (The Who)

I seem to be posting less and less... a combination of busyness and tiredness and time-challenges, oh my - it's certainly not that I'm intentionally neglecting my blog... but on a general list of priorities these days, it seems to be inching farther down.

However, it's like my walking routine: when I don't do it, I miss it - just as my legs twitch when I'm ready to lace up my New Balances and hit the road (or when I can't if it's raining or I'm going to a meeting), so do my fingers have the Pavlovian urge to type type type away with some new global discovery or self-revelation.

The following is motivated by the ongoing Democratic Convention, which I've been avidly following - how 'bout that Hillary? ("no way, no how, no McCain" indeed... :-)

Thank you, George W. Bush
Without your dark and spectacular failures, we wouldn't be so ready to leap forward. Kudos!

By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist
Friday, June 13, 2008

And then it came to pass that I happened to catch the tail end of a recent episode of "Miami Ink," that odd little reality show on TLC about the trials and tribulations of an unabashedly macho but still adorably funky Florida tattoo shop offering all sorts of engaging quirks, especially if you harbor a mild appreciation for decent Koi fish tattoos and giant ridiculous motorcycles and lots of sweaty siliconed sun baked Miami cheese.

This episode featured the story of a young, fresh-faced Iraqi War vet, a big, shy sweetheart of a kid who, it turns out, had both of his legs blown off at the knee by an improvised explosive device. As a commemoration, he came to the shop to get a giant flaming skull tattooed on his shoulder — a skull with, um, a couple of femur bones stuck in there, somehow, in honor of his former appendages. Well, OK.

I hereby shall not question the kid's garish taste in body art. But in the process of describing his injury to the artist/camera, the guy said something rather startling, something I didn't quite expect, considering his young age and his lack of legs and the violence with which they were taken from him, even though it's a refrain we've all heard a million times before.

In sum, he said, You know what? Despite the horror of it, despite the brutal war, it turns out getting my legs blown off was probably the best thing to ever happen to me. It made me appreciate life in a new way, discover new abilities, experience a new vitality. In fact, only through getting my legs blown off do I finally feel truly alive, and what's more, I actually feel sorry for people who don't get to experience life this way.

That's what he said. More or less.

Now, I don't always agree with this line of thinking. In fact, I outwardly reject the idea that it's only through trauma, through pain or suffering that you truly grow or learn, find your creative thrust or the "true" meaning of life. It's certainly one way, it's certainly often wildly effective, it's certainly the way it has to happen for some people before they finally wake up, but it's far from the only way.

But then, as I'm watching footage of this kid waterskiing and climbing mountains and grinning like crazy on his skinny metal prosthetics, I realized, well now, what an absolutely perfect analogy for our mauled, tattered, shell-shocked nation at this very moment in time.

Ain't it so? Because America has, figuratively speaking, had its legs blown off at the knee. We have been hobbled and traumatized and numbed, our once indestructible ego ripped away, had our entire moral and ethical infrastructure blasted out from under us in the most bloody and irresponsible and ignoble way possible.

And the primary explosive that did it? A deadly and useless war. Wait, that's not quite right. It was the inept leaders and disastrous reasoning behind the war, the pathetic cadre of hawks and neocons and insular kill-'em-all demagogues in the Bush Administration who veered the nation so far off course we ended up in a bloody ditch just outside Purgatory, a place teeming with recession and torture and homophobia, Patriot Acts and surveillance and fear.

And so, like this kid who actually thanked the fates for blowing his legs off, I'm here to suggest that maybe it's time we offered up some sort of warped, tentative thanks to George W. Bush, for all the appalling trauma he hath wreaked upon us. Maybe he is, in a slightly nauseating way, the best thing that ever happened to us. You think?

Maybe he's exactly what we needed. Maybe Bush's brand of frighteningly inept politicking has been just the right kind of sociocultural emetic to induce a true purge of our congested system, just the thing to finally snap us out of our lethargy. Hell, sometimes you gotta go deep into the darkness to realize just how much you need the light.

So thank you, George, for exemplifying and embodying everything that's wrong with the neocon agenda, for serving as the final death knell of the failed conservative movement, of a once-noble Republican Party that's run out of ideas and has turned bitter and nasty and paranoid.

Thank you, Dubya, for setting the stage for Obama and Hillary. Because the truth is, even as recently as eight years ago, if you'd have asked if we as a nation would be anywhere near ready for a female or black president, it would have felt incredibly premature, a good 20 years off before we could entertain such an idea. But so potent has been the recoil against everything you stood for — the misogyny, homophobia, classism, fear of "the other," of foreigners and minorities and alternative beliefs — that we are ready to be inspired and reinvigorated sooner than anyone thought possible.

Thank you for your embarrassing rejection of science, your refusal to support any climate change initiative, for furthering the war-for-oil agenda, for blocking stem-cell research, for serving all your masters in Big Energy, Big Agribusiness, Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Auto. Thanks for gutting the Constitution and front-loading the courts and trying to hack away at women's rights, gay marriage, privacy rights and on and on.

Because it turns out, inviting all that darkness and corruption and holding back all the energy of progress and change is less about hastening the Second Coming (sorry, better luck next time), and more like pulling back on a slingshot. It just gets tighter and tighter and the pressure builds until eventually you just gotta let go, and then boom — or I should say, Obama.

Now, this is not to say it can't all happen again. History is, unfortunately, a very bitchy and unreliable teacher. I'm guessing there were plenty of people who, post-Nixon, were saying, well thank God we'll never go through that again, we've sure learned our lesson. I mean, fool me once shame on you, fool me twice and, um, fool me ... won't get fooled again.

We'll just have to see. For now, the bleeding is slowing, we are finally getting up off the sickbed, testing our shiny new prosthetics, hobbling toward the new. Soon, maybe we'll learn to run, ski, climb mountains, even dance on the international stage again with something resembling grace and renewed self-respect.

We might even say, you know what? It turns out getting our political, moral and spiritual legs blown off was the best thing that ever happened to us. Dubya actually did us a huge favor. Can you imagine?

How magnificent the war is!
How eager
and efficient!
Early in the morning
it wakes up the sirens
and dispatches ambulances
to various places
swings corpses through the air
rolls stretchers to the wounded
summons rain
from the eyes of mothers
digs into the earth
dislodging many things
from under the ruins...
Some are lifeless and glistening
others are pale and still throbbing...
It produces the most questions
in the minds of children
entertains the gods
by shooting fireworks and missiles
into the sky
sows mines in the fields
and reaps punctures and blisters
urges families to emigrate
stands beside the clergymen
as they curse the devil
(poor devil, he remains
with one hand in the searing fire)...
The war continues working, day and night.
It inspires tyrants
to deliver long speeches
awards medals to generals
and themes to poets
it contributes to the industry
of artificial limbs
provides food for flies
adds pages to the history books
achieves equality
between killer and killed
teaches lovers to write letters
accustoms young women to waiting
fills the newspapers
with articles and pictures
builds new houses
for the orphans
invigorates the coffin makers
gives grave diggers
a pat on the back
and paints a smile on the leader's face.
It works with unparalleled diligence!
Yet no one gives it
a word of praise.

QUOTE: "The military doesn't start wars. Politicians start wars." ~ William Westmoreland

Saturday, August 23, 2008

I Have a Dream (ABBA)

I met up with my BookWomen this afternoon to see Mamma Mia!... and we all absolutely loved it - the acting/singing/costumes/scenery were amazing... and Meryl Streep was perfection (as always... :-)

What a fun, light-hearted, escapist film - after a crazy and stormy and grumpy (oh, my) week, it was just what the doctor ordered!

Does your mother know about our last summer?
when i sent you an SOS because you were slipping through my fingers
"Honey, Honey, Honey please take a chance on me"
were the only words you could say.
I prayed that someone would gimme gimme gimme the strength
to be a super trouper and get through this.
voulez-vous me to tell you
the name of the game
you think that because they crown the dancing queen that the winner takes it all
But that's not how it works.
Knowing me, knowing you it has to come down to one of us
and i have a dream of saying I do, I do, I do, I do, I do.
So thank you for the music and letting me be your chiquitita
Because, Mamma Mia,
When all is said and done, money, money, money doesn't matter
As long as you lay all your love on me.

QUOTE: "We danced on the beach, kissed on the beach and dot, dot, dot." ~ Sophie, reading from Donna's diary

P.S. Just a reminder that I'll be on Michael Stock's Folk and Acoustic Show, WLRN 91.3, tomorrow (Sunday, August 24) at 2 p.m. to discuss our upcoming Labyrinth Cafe concert series season - it is also webstreamed if you care to listen in long-distance...

Friday, August 22, 2008

Everyday (Dave Matthews Band)

Dave Matthews Band is my daughter Sarah's favorite musical group (major understatement) - such sad news for so many followers of their music and spirit...

I saw the Dave Matthews Band open for Phish at the Santa Monica Civic.

I do what Chip tells me. He'd told me I had to come see Phish at the Variety Arts Center and I'd watched them blow up. The DMB was his new band.

I didn't know that the Santa Monica Civic had a false floor, that it was suspended in such a way that when they started playing "Ants Marching" and the college-aged audience dressed in the same exact clothing as the band members themselves erupted and started moving up and down that the floor would too. I'd never heard the number before, I haven't forgotten it since.

During the break, before the headliner took the stage, I went with Chip to a side room, just east of the auditorium itself, that resembled nothing so much as an elementary school classroom, to hang out. It was there that I met Boyd, Carter and LeRoi. Maybe LeRoi, I can't remember exactly, it was fifteen years ago...

This was before Dave became not only a TV star, but a cultural icon, before his humor became widely known. They were just another band. Who kept getting bigger and bigger, whose fanbase kept growing. I followed them to the Palladium, all the way to Staples and the Hollywood Bowl. And got to know their manager, Coran Capshaw, along the way. Not incredibly well. Which is probably why he wanted to have lunch on Tuesday. To talk in an environment different from backstage.

On the way to the Peninsula, I heard "Where Are You Going" on No Shoes Radio, Kenny Chesney testified not only about Dave, but the band's drummer. I told Coran and Chip this when we sat down. Coran told me Kenny had a place on St. John too. They were buddies.

It was that kind of conversation. Catching up, filling in the little details. Telling me about the status of the band. How they'd mixed it up, how they were playing better than ever before, with Tim Reynolds on the road with them and two replacements for LeRoi.

LeRoi had been in an ATV accident. This I knew. But Coran told me the details. The four-wheeled vehicle flipped over backwards upon him. He broke ribs, had a collapsed lung, his shoulder was hurt, they had him in an induced coma for a week. And three days after he came to, LeRoi checked himself out. Against the will of the doctors.

And after being home, he got an infection. The nurse taking care of him had LeRoi readmitted to the hospital. Where he was on both heart and lung machines. But he pulled through.

The story was told with seriousness, but no drama. There was no question, LeRoi was coming back. Certainly by the first of the year. We started talking about other things. The challenges of maintaining a superstar act in these confusing times, ticketing, Music Today. And an hour later, the phone rang.

Coran carries both a BlackBerry and a Razr. He picked up the Razr. He was listening rather than talking. And after two minutes or so, he flipped the phone closed and became wistful, let us in on his mental soliloquy. That was LeRoi's assistant. They'd called 911. LeRoi's lips had turned blue. They were taking him to the hospital. He had a blood clot.

Coran traced it back to the infection that had put LeRoi back in the hospital weeks before. He'd had a hard time fighting back. And he hadn't gone into the process in the greatest shape, he had diabetes, other health problems.

LeRoi had flown to L.A. for rehab, he was staying at his house here, just miles away. Suddenly the story took on a different feel. Somewhere in the landscape visible from the Peninsula deck, this story was playing out.

Then ten minutes later, the phone rang again.

But this time, the call was longer. Chip and I engaged in conversation. For the better part of ten minutes. And when Coran flipped the phone closed again, he said:

"He died."

A jolt just went through my body, writing this. I've never been in a situation like this before. I might have met this guy, but in a perfunctory way, I don't know him. But he's part of the lifeblood of Coran and Chip's world. And he's a human being, like the rest of us. And he's now gone.

Chip put his head in his hands. Coran stared into space. I was in shock. Trying to decide the best thing to do. Feeling that I needed to excuse myself, that they didn't need an intruder, I was just about to stand when Coran got up, said "I've got to deal.", and walked off.

Chip asked, WHAT NOW?

I realized that I needed to stay. As long as Chip needed to.

I figured this was L.A. LeRoi had probably gone to Cedars. The news would be on the wire, on the Internet, in a matter of minutes. I told Chip that Coran was probably trying to beat the press to the punch, in addition to alerting the rest of the band.


I didn't know. It could go either way. Maybe they were too fucked up to play. Or maybe they'd say this is what LeRoi would do.Chip called Dan, founder of the agency. Told him and asked him the question too. The gig scheduled for that night, in Staples Center, only hours away, did it happen? Dan said what I did. Maybe, maybe not.

And then it became that moment in "Almost Famous". The plane crash scene. When suddenly truth passes between human beings. Chip and I have a deep, honest relationship, but we touched on subjects we'd never delved into before.

Then, after about forty minutes, we left.

In the car to Felice's house, the shock truly set in. I realized why you needed the living around you when someone passed. If you were alone, you drifted away.

Felice was on her exercise bike, watching "Oprah". I could barely speak. She realized something was wrong. I ultimately got the story out. It barely registered. How could it? You go to lunch and a band member dies, DURING LUNCH? News like that bounces right off of you, it doesn't stick.

And it seemed that only Coran, Chip and I knew. I kept going online. The band's Website had not changed, there was nothing in the Google News. I was in the loop, but no one else was. This never happens in 2008, where everything is instant, where everybody knows everything all the time.

I spoke with my mother. But I basically listened. I called Chip two hours later, as we'd agreed. He still didn't know whether the band would play. He said he'd call me back. A little after six, he told me to come on down.

By time we got to Staples, the news had just broken. Maybe by going to Hollywood Presbyterian, the vultures had missed the story. Ambrosia had written a press release, the news was now out, Chip's BlackBerry was going berserk.

The halls were almost empty. Dave was talking to a gray-haired gentleman. There were no festivities, there was no buzz, but in less than an hour, the band would take the stage in front of thousands.

Coran's number two said the band had had a meeting, uttered "Back to the van.", their mantra, to remember where they'd come from, their brotherhood.

We went to catering. Coran nodded his head, but stayed glued to his phone. It was positively bizarre.

And twenty minutes after the time on the sheet, the Dave Matthews Band took the stage.

I don't know how you play under those circumstances.

And being in L.A., the roar of the crowd was muted to a degree. L.A.'s jaded, everybody plays L.A., a concert here isn't just enough of an event!

But the band is firing on all cylinders. Coran's checking the set list as we stand behind the lighting board, he tells me they're going to play my favorite, "The Dreaming Tree".

The ten minute number calmed my nerves. Music is a magic carpet loaded with oils and other soothing potions, it's just what you need when you don't know what you need, when you've got more questions than answers.

And they played "Ants Marching", with even more ferocity than they had fifteen years before. Their cover of "Sledgehammer" had more power than Peter Gabriel's. But the highlight of the evening was unexpected, a rendition of Talking Heads' "Burning Down The House".

Only played for the first time live two weeks before, the number is unmistakable. It starts with an ethereal guitar, the drum pounds and then...

"Watch out
You might get what you're after"

Whatever the audience expected, this exceeded it. I'd say the band was a freight train, but it was more like a 747, that had DRIVEN all the way from Charlottesville to Los Angeles and was burning rubber at the airport before finally coming to a rest... THE TIRES WERE SMOKING!

And just like a modern jet, EVERYTHING was working. It has to in order to move. And boy was the band moving. Musically. There were no dance steps, everybody was almost rigid in his place. But Carter's arms were churning, Dave was spitting into the mic like he was seventeen, and he needed to show the bullies, who he was, where he was coming from.

"I'm an ordinary guy
Burning down the house"

This was not the hair band eighties. The members of the DMB were wearing the same clothes that had covered them backstage. They were not stars, they were MUSICIANS!

There was nothing on tape, no loops, no hard drives. This night they'd had to conjure the fire from scratch. They'd had to reach down deep and do it one more time, knowing that their brother was not only gone, but was never coming back.


"Pick me up, love, from the bottom
Up on to the top, love, everyday
Pay no mind to taunts or advances
I'm gonna take my chances on everyday"

The video of the hugger played on the hi-def screens. The audience sang along, knowing every word. That's just what we've got, every day. Until we don't.

I don't know what happens when people die. Is this really the end? LeRoi had called his business manager just that morning, left a voice mail before the crisis, did he know this was going to be his last day on this mortal coil? And the recipient of this message, he didn't receive it until after LeRoi expired.

The audience was cascading in a virtual wave, going up and down in place, not the artificial arena exercise, but something inspired by the music. We were in unison.

"Jump in the mud, mud
Get your hands filthy, love
Give it up, love

Get up from that couch! Go out into the bright sunshine. Dial your crush and ask her for a date. It may be messy, but maybe not. Don't be somnambulant, get out of your own way, don't only embrace life, but eat it up. Everyday.

How can it all end,
the moon making foil of the blueblack sea,
at twilight the sandbars holding lavender
among turquoise shadows,
pastels of water lidded by pastels of sky
and, at angle, moon shimmer snaking to the horizon?
By the dockside, a diver kneels at his tank,
to test the regulator, as if taking communion.


How can it all end,
the cabbage whites aflutter
like tissue-papers
lofting to Heaven in a Japanese temple,
the yellow roses numbingly fragrant
and even the spiky conifer
whispering scent.

I praise my destroyer.
The sea turtle's revenge
is to dwell at equal measures
from the grave. Our cavernous brains
won't save us in the end,
though, heaven knows, they enhance the drama.
Despite passion's rule, deep play
and wonder, worry hangs
like a curtain of trembling beads
across every doorway.

But there was never a dull torment,
and it was grace to live
among the fruits of summer, to love by design,
and walk the startling Earth
for what seemed
an endless resurrection of days.

I praise life's bright catastrophes,
and all the ceremonies of grief.
I praise our real estate - a shadow and a grave.
I praise my destroyer,
and will continue praising
until hours run like mercury
through my fingers, hope flares a final time
into the last throes of innocence,
and all the coins of sense are spent.

QUOTE: "Whenever you see darkness, there is extraordinary opportunity for the light to burn brighter." ~ Bono

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Days Like These (Janis Ian)

It's late and I should be in the bed... but I have a hodge-podge of thoughts swirling in my brain, and what better way to purge than to prose.

My house is a wreck from pre- and post-vacation... and I still haven't even fully grocery shopped since we returned home - 2+ weeks away (with four days in between) has me scrambling to catch up and meet beaucoup deadlines.

The threat of Tropical Storm Fay Monday and Tuesday only added to the frazzle/delay - we had bursts of high winds and teeming rains but, in the grand scheme of things, the only damage was minor inconvenience. We did the headless chicken routine Monday morning trying to get E ready to go back to college two days ahead of schedule, so he and his ride could get to Orlando ahead of the storm - they're settled in now and ready to start classes the first of next week...

I've been working like a maniac getting my Labyrinth Cafe concert series schedule finalized, as well as finetuning the MySpace page with song samples, etc. - I'll also be going on Michael Stock's Folk and Acoustic radio show this Sunday at 2 p.m. (as I did last year), giving an overview of our upcoming season and playing songs from the various artists.

My birthday came and went while I was on vacation, and I didn't mind one bit - I had told my dear friend Nancy that I really wanted to play it low-key this year, and I meant it. I was surrounded by family at the beach and I continue to be loved and valued on my home turf the other 364 days of the year - to use the see-it-everywhere T-shirt/hat/totebag slogan, "Life is Good"... even when it's not, you know?... :-)

My sweet daughter Sarah uploaded all the vacation photos she took to a Shutterfly account, and will be making a scrapbook for my mom - I've never posted more than one photo at a time here before, but I'm going to try to put up a handful of some special ones (wish me luck!).

I feel better already - goodnight... <3

P.S. Family photo: top row (left to right): my son Rob, my husband Robert, my brother-in-law Bill, my sister Mari, their daughter (my niece) Julia, my son Eric - bottom row (left to right): my daughter Sarah, my mom Connie, my brother Brad, me... :-)

P.P.S. Not sure why the pictures uploaded blurry... but if you click on each individual photo, it comes up very clearly!

SONG: Days Like These by Janis Ian

BOOK: A Blessing in Disguise: 39 Life Lessons from Today's Greatest Teachers by Andrea Joy Cohen, M.D.

POEM: View #8 (excerpt) by Thomas Centolella

the world is merely
empty, except for its refuse,
and goes nowhere, like a
cul-de-sac. And sometimes
it's empty but wide open,
the fruitless winter vines
dreaming of a vintage season.
You don't need anything
that isn't yours to keep going.
If someone is holding you
inside themselves
the way you're learning
to hold them, so much
the better. Sometimes
there is no difference
between a mind and a mind,
a heart and a heart, a mind
and a heart. Sometimes
the world won't move
unless you move.
Won't hold its course
unless you show it how.
And sometimes, the world holds
the two of you in one moment
and whispers: Yes. Now.

QUOTE: "Stare, pry, listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long." ~ Walker Evans

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Me and Buddha (Andrew Kerr)

Your horoscope for August 16, 2008

When we have found our path, we naturally want to start to walk down it, SUSAN. The reverse isn't true despite what you seem to believe. It is quite futile to learn how to walk when you don't know which path to walk upon. This may seem a little obtuse to you and yet it is true. It is desire that creates aptitude and not the reverse.

SONG: Me and Buddha by Andrew Kerr (scroll about halfway down)

Together Under One Roof: Making a Home of the Buddha's Household by Lin Jensen

POEM: The Buddha's Last Instruction by Mary Oliver

“Make of yourself a light,”
said the Buddha,
before he died.
I think of this every morning
as the east begins
to tear off its many clouds
of darkness, to send up the first
signal – a white fan
streaked with pink and violet,
even green.
An old man, he lay down
between two sala trees,
and he might have said anything,
knowing it was his final hour.
The light burns upward,
it thickens and settles over the fields.
Around him, the villagers gathered
and stretched forward to listen.
Even before the sun itself
hangs, disattached, in the blue air,
I am touched everywhere
by its ocean of yellow waves.
No doubt he thought of everything
that had happened in his difficult life.
And then I feel the sun itself
as it blazes over the hills,
like a million flowers on fire –
clearly I’m not needed,
yet I feel myself turning
into something of inexplicable value.
Slowly, beneath the branches,
he raised his head.
He looked into the faces of that frightened crowd.

QUOTE: "Seeking perfect total enlightenment is like looking for a flashlight when all you need the flashlight for is to find your flashlight." ~ Lew Welch

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Pools of Eden (Eliza Gilkyson)

We returned from our beach vacation this past Saturday, August 9 - the days following have been full of overload and catch-up and life re-entry, oh my!

Preparations the night before leaving had me almost pulling an all-nighter, getting in the bed at 4:00 a.m. to be up at 7:00 a.m... only to find there had been a power outage somewhere in that time frame - we had hoped for an 8 a.m. departure and, two hours later (no surprise there) we were on the road. My husband R and I took turns driving and, with the iPod on shuffle (everything from Roberta Flack to the B-52's to Joni Mitchell), the miles flew by. About an hour from our destination, I blipped on navigation and missed a turn (too busy singing along to Cat Stevens' Father and Son), adding another hour to the trip - sorry, family!

As we drove along the coast, we could see the island of St. George in the distance, and it seemed forever before we finally reached the bridge to get us across and over - each house we passed looked more beautiful than the next, as we drove by Whelk Way, Coral Street and Dolphin Drive. We finally pulled into the driveway of Seaclusion, our rental for the week (pictured above) to find my mom, brother, sister and her family (hugs all around!) had made themselves at home - organizer Mari had their food and supplies already stashed in the refrigerator and cupboards, drinks had been poured and bedrooms assigned. R and I were generously gifted with the master suite, with a king-size bed and a view overlooking the Gulf - thanks, Mare... :-)

Since it was close to 8 p.m. before we had our stuff unloaded and stored, we decided to order pizza and sandwiches from a bar and grill in town - Mari and Sarah went to pick up, and sweet S paid the tab. Our first night on the island was spent having dinner on one of the two decks, watching the waves and smelling the delicious salt air, sipping beers and anxiously anticipating the next 6 days - who knew how quickly they would fly by... yet how tangibly embraceable the magic moments would be...


~ our first full day there (Sunday, August 3), as we each followed our own path (getting up early or sleeping late, gravitating to the heat of the beach/pool or staying in the shady comfort of the deck, eating a heavier breakfast/lunch or snacking throughout) - I loved the hit-and-run pockets of conversation at various points and places along the way...

~ the island and surrounding area is called "The Forgotten Coast" because of its lack of development (what a concept), thereby presenting an amazing blanket of stars in the dark sky night after night - we could even view clusters of galaxies and constellations...

~ my brother took us all out to dinner at The Blue Parrot, and I had fried local oysters and broiled Gulf shrimp - washed down with a Yuengling, I was in seafood heaven!

~ finding sea turtle nesting in full swing on the island - we rented lounge chairs and umbrellas the first day, left them on the beach and woke to find everything tagged by the sea turtle watch volunteer organization, asking us to move the items off the beach each night, as they were in the path of the egg-laying females. There were also notices throughout the house, reminding us to turn off outdoor lights at night, so as not to be confused with the pull of the moon - it's a very respectful, protective emphasis on the birthing cycle...

~ we took turns cooking throughout the week, my husband and I serving up grilled bacon-wrapped fillets, roast potatoes and steamed veggies; my kids cooking plain and blue-cheese-stuffed turkey and regular burgers, corn on the cob and french fries; my sister making baked salmon and grouper one evening and chicken parmesan with homemade pasta (more on that later) another few evenings - yum!

~ we vowed to have Cocktail/Happy Hour each night, and we lived up to the promise - cheater that I am, I had bought frozen mini-quiches and sandwich spirals for our turns, while Martha Mari whipped up bacon-wrapped water chestnuts and salmon spread (god, she's good... :-) My son Rob (the bartender) mixed up frozen and over-ice concoctions each night - my fave was a spiced rum mixed with kiwi-lime sparking water with a wedge of lime run around the edge of the glass and then added to the mix).

~ one my favorite things to do at the beach is to immerse myself in a good book and, although reading opportunities were less optimal because of wanting to spend time with mom (and everyone else), I still managed to savor three terrific novels, the first of which was one of Mari's library books (but which I begged to read first because I'm such a fan of the author, and hadn't yet picked up the new one): Run by Ann Patchett, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer and The Probable Future by Alice Hoffman - I also had my sister read Broken for You by Stephanie Kallos (my new favorite novel), and urged mom to take it home with her to enjoy.

~ we celebrated my 54th (yikes!) birthday at the beach with a key lime pie, presents and cards - my brother had given me money and I had a grand time spending it during our souvenir shop excursion Thursday, picking up a very cool white lacy straw cowboy hat with shells around the crown ("borderline WT", Sarah told me), perfect for shading my face at the beach/around the pool, and some sun readers - who knew there was such a fabulous invention?!? (for the last decade, ever since I needed reading glasses, I'd just place my sunglasses over them... two inconvenient layers). We also came home with pirate mugs ("time flies when you're having rum" and "Surrender your Booty" from The Jolly Roger Shop for co-workers and friends and a sea turtle windchime for my next-door neighbors who brought in the mail) - photos of trying on hats and glasses: priceless!

~ I was proud of myself for walking my usual 45 minutes 4 of the 6 days we were there - I had brought my walkman as accompaniment but, given the solitude of the island, chose not to use it, instead concentrating and meditating on the breeze, the sounds and the smells.

~ our beach house faced south, so we had to drive to the northwest side of the island for a sunset angle - our three visits delivered one better than the other two but none perfect. No problem - you know what they say: "even a bad sunset at the beach is better than a good evening anywhere else!"...

~ our weather was perfect the entire trip, with about three drops of rain one afternoon (what? - gone!) - I slathered enough sunscreen on each day so as to tan but not burn (mission accomplished). We experienced daily dolphin sightings (mostly in groups of three or more) - there were dragonflies everywhere on the island (Dave, Dave, Dave... :-)

~ so, we did make a gigantic batch of pasta (under mom's expert tutelage), dried it out on the kitchen table for a few days and boiled it up to go with Mari's Thursday night dinner - it tasted even more delicious because of the memories embedded...

~ we are proud to claim we recycled all week (although it was frightening the amount of beer/wine bottles and soda cans we went through), and made two drop-off trips to the bins in the middle of the island - yay, us!

~ dear Sarah borrowed her office camera and documented all the snippets of magic moments that came together to make this a trip to remember (Julia on Eric's shoulders, our sandcastle decorated with shells, beachgrass and Corona bottles on the turrets, Rob playing Guitar Hero, etc.)... and she'll be uploading them to Shutterfly to make a bound book (complete with captions) for mom's birthday September 9... as well as for the rest of us.

Needless to say, mom was beyond thrilled at our ability to pull this trip together on such short notice (not to mention being able to take the week off), our desire to help her have this family vacation and our commitment to spending quality time together each day - she smiled, she laughed, she cried tears of joy... and she couldn't stop repeating how blessed she felt, surrounded by her children, he grandchildren and her sons-in-law...

As long as we retain the memories, we can return any time we choose... and we're already thinking positive and planning an encore trip next August - there's no place like St. George Island, there's no place like St. George Island, there's no place like St. George Island... :-)

SONG: Pools of Eden by Eliza Gilkyson (can't seem to find the lyrics anywhere... but here is an audio sample)

BOOK: Chicken Soup for the Beach Lover's Soul: Memories Made Beside a Bonfire, on the Boardwalk and with Family and Friends by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Patty Aubery, Peter Vegso

POEM: The Gardener of Eden by James Broughton

I am the old dreamer who never sleeps
I am timekeeper of the timeless dance
I preserve the long rhythms of the earth
and fertilize the rounds of desire

In my evergreen arboretum
I raise flowering hopes for the world
I plant seeds of perennial affection
and wait for their passionate bloom

Would you welcome that sight if you saw it?
Revalue the view you have lost?
Could you wake to the innocent morning
and follow the risks of your heart?

Every day I grow a dream in my garden
where the beds are laid out for love
When will you come to embrace it
and join in the joy of the dance?

QUOTE: "I find myself at the extremity of a long beach. How gladly does the spirit leap forth, and suddenly enlarge its sense of being to the full extent of the broad, blue, sunny deep! A greeting and a homage to the Sea! I descend over its margin, and dip my hand into the wave that meets me, and bathe my brow. That far-resounding roar is the Ocean's voice of welcome. His salt breath brings a blessing along with it." ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne

Friday, August 1, 2008

Blue Dress (Annie Gallup)

I've intimated here that my mom is in ill health - when I went up to Atlanta for my aunt's funeral, it was even more painfully obvious. Her troubles with pulmonary fibrosis, in addition to kidney disease, have caused her to slow down substantially (severe shortness of breath), as well as having to watch her diet, being ever-vigilant of protein, potassium, sodium and phosphorus - she just segued to Stage 4, with Stage 5 requiring dialysis.

So... a recent wish of mom's has us experiencing a beach vacation together (my family of 5; my sister, her husband and daughter; my brother; and mom) - my sister and I decided to make this happen before the summer got away from us, and spent the better part of a week e-mailing and phoning realty companies and rental properties to find the perfect location.

Despite the last-minuteness, we did come up with something on St. George Island, Florida that fit all our criteria: a house directly on the beach, with a pool, sleeps 10 - in addition, this one also has a jacuzzi, two family/living areas, an outdoor grill and, believe it or not, an elevator (since mom has trouble walking great distances). It's a bit pricy but, synchronistically, my aunt's passing saw that each of us received a few thousand dollars, which we'll just roll over toward the rental fees - found money, right?... :-)

The kids and I did B.J.'s bulk shopping night before last for most of our non-perishables (since there's only one grocery store on the island, small and expensive) - we bought enough to sink a battleship (snacks, sodas, alcoholic beverages, etc.) and will get milk, eggs, bread when we get there. Very sweetly, and secretively, my three children co-conspired to split the cost of groceries - I of course cried in the wholesale store...

The plan is to have very low-key breakfasts and lunches... and take turns cooking dinner, with a few evenings designated as restaurant nights and the last being Leftover Night (my self-admitted anal-retentive... um... attention-to-detail... sister compared it to the scene in About Last Night, that classic 80's movie with Demi Moore and Rob Lowe) - love you, Mari... <3

We're also bringing lots of games (Trivial Pursuit, Scrabble, cards) as well as Wii - guess I'll finally see what all this Guitar Hero fuss is about. Of course, it wouldn't be vacation without a totebag full of books - those are already stacked on the dining room table. I understand the shelling is good there - can't wait for relaxing strolls along the shore, and I'll be bringing my New Balances for exercise walking too!

We will do a Cocktail/Happy Hour each evening, which could very well coincide with the sunset - I am a strong believer in coming to a standstill to reverently honor the peaceful and colorful beauty of day's end... and I also encourage applause when the glowing orb sinks below the horizon line... :-)

One of the special moments will be a pasta-making lesson - my mom has made her own noodles for years, and gave each of us a pasta machine for our wedding (you should see the family of spiders that resides in mine!). So, it was decided we will all bring our machines and mom will refresh our skills (the males as well as the females) - my Aunt Julia years ago established the first rule: take off your rings... :-)

Despite my sense of overwhelmedness these last few days with having just returned from Falcon Ridge... and advance planning for the first event of my concert series the Saturday we return (ack!), I am so ready to go on this vacation - we plan to make lots of memories and I will of course bittersweetly share them upon our arrival home...

We leave first thing tomorrow (Saturday, August 2) morning, and come back August 9 (about an 8-hour drive each way) - have a great week... as will I, returning tanned, well-rested and well-read... as well as a year older (we'll celebrate my 54th birthday at the beach... :-)

It is in the small things we see it.
The child's first step,
as awesome as an earthquake.
The first time you rode a bike,
wallowing up the sidewalk.
The first spanking when your heart
went on a journey all alone.
When they called you crybaby
or poor or fatty or crazy
and made you into an alien,
you drank their acid
and concealed it.

if you faced the death of bombs and bullets
you did not do it with a banner,
you did it with only a hat to
cover your heart.
You did not fondle the weakness inside you
though it was there.
Your courage was a small coal
that you kept swallowing.
If your buddy saved you
and died himself in so doing,
then his courage was not courage,
it was love; love as simple as shaving soap.

if you have endured a great despair,
then you did it alone,
getting a transfusion from the fire,
picking the scabs off your heart,
then wringing it out like a sock.
Next, my kinsman, you powdered your sorrow,
you gave it a back rub
and then you covered it with a blanket
and after it had slept a while
it woke to the wings of the roses
and was transformed.

when you face old age and its natural conclusion
your courage will still be shown in the little ways,
each spring will be a sword you'll sharpen,
those you love will live in a fever of love,
and you'll bargain with the calendar
and at the last moment
when death opens the back door
you'll put on your carpet slippers
and stride out.

QUOTE: "The most important thing in illness is never to lose heart." ~ Nikolai Lenin