Thoughts on Dylanfest 28


, , , , ,

I was apprehensive about attending this year’s Dylanfest. The ghosts of Dylan parties and other things past floated heavily about my mind that morning.   It was the first big party we threw in a brand now house by a fairly new newlywed all those years ago. Fast or not so fast forward 25 years later and I attend this year’s festivities as a fairly new divorcee. So many gone but a few still remain from those long ago days.   So many new and wonderful faces now and even a few brand new shiny pennies at this year’s event for the first time, like the wonderful friend of Renee, Patrick and Andy’s, Chris from all the way across the pond and my bass playing business partner, Michael who had the good fortune of both first time attendance and a first musical debut with Al Diesen, the Italian Dylan and the Title Trackers.

Still, I didn’t want to go. I thought back to how many of these new and improved out of the backyard Dylan events I had been to. In my mind, I always think I’ve only been to one of these and yet this will be the fifth one in a row for me. That surprised me. A few more years and it overtakes the number of backyard parties, which as one of the logistical hosts all those years ago, takes on a quite different patina both in heart and head of those days gone by.

But go I did and miss I did the surprise rendition of Desolation Row. Not only my favorite Bob song but my favorite song ever. I was stunned at first as I was given so many reasons why a song like that could not be done at Dylanfest by Andy, one of the co-hosts. I guess it was the Sierras talking that night or as good seeds often do when planted well, they grew into a fine conclusion. No matter. That song belongs to just Bob and me. Always will. I can hear lots of folks do lots of Dylan but Desolation Row is just different for me. I discovered and loved it sometime in my late teens. I don’t remember quite the circumstances and they truly do not matter. It is not a song brought to me a by a beau or a concert or a trip to Italy. It just WAS one day and there it has always stayed and always will.

It was such a beautifully buoyant event this year. Perhaps that’s just the mind playing tricks when juxtaposed against the stormy finale of last year’s downpour but I don’t think so. A bout with a fascist foot and lots of heel pain kept me in my chair for most of the day. I saved the dancing for only the choicest of songs. I didn’t spend the day doing a marathon of running around fueled by caffeine and booze and missing most of the music as I always do. I sat my chair outside the musician’s tent and had the most enjoyable of conversations with some long time folks there 25 years ago in the backyard like Karen and Bobby and some brand new ones, one kind or crazy enough to share his fine mix of wine and ginger ale with me.   The absolute hilarity of watching Dave do his sign language for the deaf and demented during the Mr. Tambourine Man finale was nothing short of brilliant and brought to mind how much fun that boy was all those years ago and can still be.   It did my heart so good to see my long time neighbors and friends who hosted the 1997 Dylan party the year my son was born, shed their sorrow for awhile to come out and get a shot of musical joy so much needed in their lives today. The power of music to heal unbearable wounds and to join humanity in a communion of camaraderie is no better evident than at these events.   It is a nod to the passion and the power of Bob’s words and to those who truly hear those words, like our hosts Andy and Renee and the other 400 some odd attendees this year.

I did walk about a bit certainly, but the restful and calming effect of just listening to the music undisturbed by the blurred passing of hundreds of people in my frenetic pace to see and say hello to all was bliss.  Movement in our lives is inevitable if we choose to lead a life of wonder and interest. In a recent talk by Maria Shriver I attended, she said she told her children that she did not want to see their 20 or 30 or 40 or 50 year old selves as the same person. She wanted to meet someone different each time.   A thought well put. If we stay stagnant and in the same shoes cemented to the same ideas and thoughts year after year, decade after decade, we will miss the joys and excitement and enlightenment unique to each period of one’s life. It is not necessary to abandon our old selves completely, but rather to bring with us the best of what we were and weave our newfound wonders around it. If I had succumbed, as unfortunately many do, to the sadness or the anxiety that enveloped me that morning, I would have missed the joy of one of the best Dylanfests I have ever attended. If I had not chosen stillness over painful prancing yesterday, I might have missed a lot of nice conversation and certainly a lot of great musical moments. There is a time in life to move and a time to sit quite still, the trick is doing both well and at the necessary intervals.

Birthday Blue/Don’t Let Them Eat Cake


, , , ,

As birthdays go, this 61 was pretty much a bust. My first one as a not so gay divorcee was well unremarkable, literally. And please look up the actual way that term was coined decades ago. It had nothing to do with being a lesbian.

Even a pissed off soon to be ex husband will get you a card and some flowers on your birthday and force the kids to sign the card, even if they do fail to find a card that is actually for someone’s mother on a few occasions. This year my two were left to their own devices. My younger son got me a nice and thoughtful Mom card. Even though he has more money stashed away than some adults I know, it didn’t come with a gift. My older son gave new meaning to “it’s the thought that counts,” cause that is about all he did do. He thought about a card. He never did actually translate it into action. I mentioned that the inheritance scales were tipping and not in his favor either. He then proclaimed that he was anti-greetings cards. Something about how they are not something he can subscribe too in good conscience. I didn’t know you could be a conscientious objector to greeting cards. Is there some province of Canada set aside for kids fleeing the States where it’s a Hallmark free zone? Scales still tipping. Still not in his favor.

I looked at my card clothesline and it was like Mother Hubbard’s cupboard, a bit bare this year. It is a string that I have had hanging in my house since I had my first kid 21 years ago. It is above our heads and spans the length of our dining room/den and it is where we hung the greeting cards all year long. We began with Valentine’s Day as I used to get and give cards before it became a hostile holiday in our house. Then we moved to Easter and always there were cards from my mother and mother in law. These women knew the value and the love and the touch that went into the sending of greeting cards. These Hallmark moms never missed a holiday for their offspring and grand offspring. Our family birthday greeting card barrages began in earnest in April with my older son’s birthday, followed six days later by mine. Those cards came down at Mother’s Day and then husband’s birthday at end of May followed close behind. We took that set down in June after the Father’s Day cards arrived. Yes, they always were Dad cards and no, I never bought a to whom it may concern card for him, much as I may have liked to at times.

We took the summer off with a bare string hanging for July, August and September. The string, like our home, came to life again in October for the birthday of our younger son. Those cards we admired until the few Hallmark Moms’ Thanksgiving cards arrived followed by the biggest card windfall of all, Christmas!! The string was filled all through December and some of January and as was our home with joy for many years back then.

This year my string was not very filled. My older son turned 21 so there are a few for him hanging but my birthday left a little to be desired. No more daughter-in-law-card of course because I am no longer one. No daughter card because it would have to come from across the grave. I did receive two very special ones from my two dear friends and for that I thank them. I loved my friend Sandi’s card about us being ‘twins’ and musical soul sisters as she said we are. My friend Patty’s card touched my heart because it was not a birthday card but rather a thank you card for my energy and my event planning.   I hate the fact that Facebook has robbed Hallmark of their card business. I looked at my string and wondered how it would look if the 126 people who posted a happy birthday comment on my page would have sent a card. I know, in this day and age, we are all too busy to take the time to read and write and ponder a sentiment. But busy doing what is the real question, I suspect.

The birthday cake- the one we did not let them eat this year. I didn’t do one for me despite my superstition that everyone in our family HAD to have a cake ON the actual date of their birthday regardless of what else was being done, party wise. I didn’t do it this year. Too busy I guess doing who knows what. I spent the day wandering about. No dinner out. Even my business partner in town for a paint job apologized for ignoring my birthday. My brother in law who is the biggest part of the family apologized two days later for forgetting it altogether as his phone lost its birthday calendar.   Are you enjoying my birthday pity party yet? I wandered down for an hour to Ports of Call Restaurant to see my favorite musicians play.   Even the staff at that restaurant failed to bring out the cupcake that the California Cupcake (Renee, the singer’s nickname) ordered so they could sing to me at the end of the night. But sing they did anyway and it was so appreciated of course. It’s hilarious this lack of birthday this year. Now don’t get me wrong, I was never one to celebrate my birthdays much at all but the firsts of everything in the grief process are the worsts and the irony is not lost in this worst of my first divorced birthdays. I did end the evening though with my Curb Crew, where the Larry David fans converge once a week. That always cheers me up!!

Unfortunately, though, my cake superstition may have something to it. I awoke the day after my birthday with the worst unexplained vertigo. So what do I do now? Should I bake a cake today to ward off the evil cakeless spirits? Will that count if it’s like three days after my birthday? I don’t know. But I did mention this all to my sister when I went to New York a few days later. She had the waiter at Captains Pizzeria in the Bronx bring me out a lovely tiramisu with a candle in it and she and my two friends and the rest of the restaurant lunch crowd actually sang Happy Birthday again! I hope this cake counts!! New things must replace the old and the eternal optimist in me thinks it will be just fine anyway.   I love my kids and my friends and I do appreciate the time all those people took to write me a Facebook birthday post. I just wish I could hang them on my string.

I’ve Been Overthinking


, , , , , ,

Whether you laugh or not at this is of no consequence so that takes the pressure off both of us. My friend and hairdresser, Debbie, put a bug in my ear a month ago that because people around her at the house concert I threw last month were laughing so hard as I was barking orders from the stage that I should give stand up a try. Not much of a stretch, I know. I thought about it, but I am not really a ‘stand up’. All I do is tell stories of my crazy life. Stand up requires timing and practice and more practice and that is just not me. I will hardly even edit this piece if I can get away with it.   The idea, though, did intrigue me. Her show with her partner, Patti O, in this little art gallery in San Pedro was on the night of my 61st birthday. Why not, I thought, it could be fun. So we agreed I would just come out during their break and tell a story or two.   I changed my mind since that conversation. I was in her chair the day before my birthday. I told her I just didn’t think I could do it.   The disappointment was clear, especially since she told me she told most of the 50 people who were coming about me. What, I said, you didn’t!! I figured if I went, there would be like maybe 20 people in the audience. So I said I would at least think about it. And as it turns out both Maria Shriver and I apparently have been thinking.

Patty, one of my dearest and longest California friends, asked me at the last moment if I would go see some panel that Maria Shriver was putting on along with these two other folks, Tracy Gordon and John Kornfeld, on compassion. Compassion? Really? No thanks.   Way too much work.   As Patty has been my rock in taking so many tickets to events at the last minute for me, I really could not refuse her. The tickets were 20 bucks and at the Saban Theater in Beverly Hills and up to $100 if you bought Maria’s book. So I said yes, but was going to see if we can get in for free. How, you don’t ask? Well a few years back when I had to weigh kids for football in the program out in Agoura Hills, the owner of the Canyon Club, Saban and now the Rose Theater in Pasadena was the head coach of one of the teams. He let me use the Canyon Club on a Sunday morning to weigh over a hundred kids to see if they were not too fat to play football. I get there and the whole place is carpeted. You can’t use a scale properly on carpet so he set me up in the foyer of the ladies’ restroom where there was tile. Fun times. Then he got irritated with me cause some of his kids, including his own son, were too fat to pass that day. These are the kinds of connections I treasure. Ever since then, all I need to do is call the current president of that football organization and he calls the guy and gets me put on the guest list for shows for free. Oddly enough, I never went to the first two that I asked for, but yesterday I asked for the Maria Shriver thing and I got the green light anyway. We knew people weren’t beating down the door to get in, as there were tons of tickets left that afternoon. I got a text from the president, telling me my name is at the door and if anyone asks, Mr. G ( I’ll leave his name out in case I need to use him again and in case some of you out there are tempted to try this yourselves) put you on the list. Ok, I’ll go then if it’s free.

We get there and of course the lady at the table has no idea who I am, no name on the list that matches mine. I tell her, well that’s too bad, Mr. G said we can come in and you have to let us or he will get really mad at you. She got that look in her eye that people usually get when I ask for something, I better say yes so she goes away. I have no problem with this at all. Ok she says and she writes my name down on some list that pretty much means nothing. She doesn’t give us a wrist band though as those were for the VIPs  who shelled out a $100 bucks to be here and buy a $20 book when they could have bought the general admission ticket for $20 bucks and the book for another $20 being sold at like 15 tables in the lobby.

Patty wants to sit right up front, but there’s a kindly older lady with a rope across the first five rows for the VIPs. Where is your wristband to sit down here, she says. We don’t have one because Mr. G put us on the VIP list (no idea actually) but the event screwed up and didn’t have our names, so we had to write our names on the list and if you are a VIP that had to write your name rather than finding your name on the list of VIPs like should have happened had the staff done what Mr. G told them to and put our name on the list then we would have had a bracelet, so I guess we just sit here without one, right? Same look. Speechless, she pushed aside the velvet rope and we got a nice seat on the aisle in the third row.

The theater was absolutely gorgeous in that Rocco style, as my friend called it. I didn’t have the heart to point out it wasn’t done in the style of some Italian guy from Brooklyn. We got some wine and popcorn and settled in.   I have always liked Maria Shriver, as a huge Kennedy fan, she is most likely my favorite of the offspring and the living Kennedys.  The other two folks she had with on her panel I never heard of and was pretty sure they would annoy me. First was this great plastic surgeried woman named Tracy Gordon who is so into relaxing that there are embalmers jealous of her. The man on the panel was another meditation guru named John Kornfield. I just kept wanting to put a straw hat and some suspenders on him and stick him in a real corn field. Maria wrote this book apparently called, “I’ve Been Thinking”.   Sure, I do this all day long and am constantly told to stop. Maybe I’ll call my book, I’ve Been Overthinking.   We are in Beverly Hills and the audience is filled with mostly women with a lot of time on their hands to be compassionate, a few sleeping husbands who I am sure are here under a court order and a couple of gay guys behind me.

Well it starts off with the usual mumbo jumbo of turn off your electronics and you can be happy except if we did, Ms. Shriver as a TV journalist wouldn’t be able to sell too many books anymore. People that tell me the key to life is relaxing just make me nervous as  hell.   Relaxing as far as I’m concerned is for when you are dead. I hate relaxing.   That’s all they wanted to talk about, that and gratitude.  I believe in gratitude and expressing it at the moment you are grateful for something. But having to sit there and come up with something every damn morning that you are grateful for is so nerve wracking, which explains the need for all that relaxing they followed it up with. Well talking about relaxing and liking people wasn’t enough apparently.   Tracy, who I am pretty sure now her name is really Trudy, but I am too darn tired to look it up, is now going to lead us in one of her love and something exercises to Nirvana or some such thing. We had to close our eyes. That part was good cause I was already falling asleep. Then after a few more minutes of relaxing we had to do this love or something thing where we had to look at the person next to us and say something like “ you are so damn wonderful in your being and thank you for existing’ or some such thing. I looked at my friend Patty and whispered “don’t you dare.” What the heck? Are we in the Catholic Church again where we had to shake random strangers’ hands that you had no idea where they had been and yell “peace be with you”. I am not doing that. Next thing I know, these three perfectly coiffed women turned around in unison and say “ You are wonderful in your being and I appreciate you” All three at the same time like some demented Greek chorus. No, I’m not, I say. Really, I’m not. I’m bad. Turn around. You have no idea. After the shock wears off, it’s all I could do to not burst out laughing. Which by the way it was then revealed by Ms. Gordon that the Dalai Lama laughs a lot and ‘ drum roll here”, it’s really good for you to laugh. Well then she did her job as far as I’m concerned cause I really can’t stop at this point. Imagine that! Joy and happiness being good for you!! And for this people have shelled out $20 bucks to hear it. I am so in the wrong business.

Now it was Maria’s turn. I love all things Maria: Westside Story I just met a girl Maria, Sound of Music Maria. In fact, Maria is my Confirmation name. If you are not Catholic please look it up or this will get too long. Anyway, her big thing in her book is, another drum roll please, the PAUSE. Yes folks, in a room full of women who are doing nothing but pausing- meno, pre and post- she’s telling us to do more pausing. What the hell for?   But pausing isn’t enough. The key to life apparently is also doing a lot of yippee moments. I guess the old Oprah Ah-ha ones weren’t good enough. Really, Maria Shriver, a Kennedy, more money than God, TV job most would kill for, maids, mansions, needs to search for something to yell yippee about every day? And yes there was of course the requisite veiled reference to the Terminator’s termination from her life because of his dalliance with the maid was it? I would have divorced him just because he’s annoying.

Well back to Mr. Kornfield and his lecture on how you can wear sackcloth and ashes but make sure you have a little fun doing it. Not too much though. That’s right. He explained carefully how when you volunteer or do things philanthropically make sure you incorporate a bit of fun into it.   Why I am not giving lectures on having fun, I’ll never know.   At this point I needed alcohol,  but how to get out and get it.   Patty is also bugging me now to find an exit strategy. We waited and watched and then a couple across the aisle got up and there was our chance. We followed them out as if they were mom and pop and we kids had to go along with them. The duck and cover up the long aisle to the exit.

While it was funny at points, I also have to be a little serious now because I did take away something from this panel nonetheless. One of the things Maria talked about is surrounding yourself with people in your life who lift you up, who truly want to be with you and who you want to be with. And shed those relationships that don’t provide this. I think many of us fall into the trap of not wanting to be part of any club that will have us or chase the relationships we know are not really good for us, whether they are romantic or platonic. We got a wonderful example of this from the other two panel members. Ms. Gordon and Mr. Kornfield were actually now husband and wife and I loved the story they told of how that came to be in terms of this. They knew each other as colleagues for over 40 years. They both had gone through some very painful divorces. He sought her out after that as someone whom he wanted to spend more time with as she added that uplift to his life and through this time of closer friendship they fell in love and got married.   In these days of instantaneous swiping left, right and off center, what a wonderful way to find true love. All in all, I am glad I went to this. You never know where you’ll pick up a bit of wisdom along with some laughter. And yes we did go and have the most delicious prosciutto and arugula flatbreads I have ever tasted along with Prosecco at a place called Flats next door. We shouted ‘yippee’ through the entire meal!! To circle back, I never did go and do my story telling at my friend’s show the next night, but there’s always next time perhaps. One never knows where the winds of chance will take us.


March 28… Adult Swim


, , , , ,

A thousand words before I sleep. That’s the plan to keep this writerly muscle exercised, as my flipping fascist foot is not allowing any other type of exercise these days. I refuse to take one sixth of me to Italy this summer. I just am not but without the requisite daily movement in the way of a walk each morning, it is so difficult to lose it. Until such time as this heel pain heals, I am now going to give a daily adult swim a shot at the local YMCA. I hate public pools or any public water for that matter. My entire swimming career has been spent in my friend’s pool next door.   But since I cannot walk, Zumba, hop, skip or jump right now, the Y is the only wet game in town. First though, I had to find one of those cute swim caps so my very expensive dyed hair doesn’t turn a lovely shade of Trump-orange. I stopped just short of the pink, yellow and orange flowered one.   It is a public pool after all.

What I do to get from one end of this very long pool to the other can only loosely be called swimming. I never learned how to properly nor do I want to, frankly. I move my arms and legs in some fashion that seems to propel me just fine from end to end. I don’t understand the concept of putting your face in the water when you are swimming on top of the water. That to me is then just the same as diving way down into the water. I never took swim lessons. My mother barely let us near the water as kids, and I managed to do the same to my kids. We are just not ocean people. A pool where you can get out when you want irrespective of any moon-tide relationship and no sharks is good enough for this type of swimming. My kids never wanted swim lessons. Self taught they are in said pool next door. I have to remind them of their lack of formal training whenever they tell me they are going to the beach. Don’t go in the water, I caution, you really can’t swim. Never took a lesson, remember.   Not a clue if they listen when they actually get there.

The other time consuming thing about public pools I now need to address on a daily basis is things floating in the pool that don’t belong there. Now it is more likely that young children make these deposits rather than the two old gentlemen and water Zumba gold crowd I encounter each day, but still the thought crosses my mind.   I don’t like to go late in the day. I prefer very first thing in the morning so as to reduce the chances of pool pee accidents by my pool peers.   But I will persevere damn it! No other way to exercise for now.   This morning was interesting. As I was flailing from one end of the pool to the other some fire alarm sounding thing went off. I looked at the guy next to me and figured we don’t need to go anywhere. Best place to be in case of a fire, right? He agreed. Off I doggie paddled to contemplate how bad this chlorine is going to be for me on a daily basis.

I am also so not a ‘gym’ person. All my exercise was done at home. The first day I bring my towel, car key and hit the locker room only to stare at the locker for a few minutes and wonder what the odds are of me putting my stuff in here with no lock and someone coming along to try and use the very same locker. I figure 50-50. Ok I know there aren’t only two lockers in there but I still calculated it as very high.  So I just took my towel and sweatshirt and pants and threw them all on the bleacher bench near the pool and hoped the nice lifeguard wouldn’t yell at me for making a mess or  leaving my flip flops right near the edge of the pool.  I can’t stand walking barefoot and I could only imagine what kind of foot disease you could get from walking around a public pool.   So that’s what I was doing with my clothes and then today I notice all these nice hooks at the other end of the pool and that people hung their bags on them. That was interesting. I could pack my stuff in a bag, carry it in, put my clothes in it while I swim. Then take them out and then and then… I was exhausted just thinking about it, so no bag. I’ll just keep throwing my clothes and keys on the bleacher and hope no one trips over the flip flops.

It’s quiet. I hate the sound of quiet. I know most people love it; so relaxing, so peaceful, so dead. Sons are gone up north to visit their father and even the dog has gone with them. The two Japanese students must live on a farm in Tokoyama cause I have never seen kids go to bed that early.  I get jetlag but wow. They barely make it through dinner at 6, then a shower then in bed by 7. It’s a great hosting job. So the house is completely silent right now.   I suppose there are those that enjoy this. Not me. It is spooky. That’s what it is. You don’t hear the sounds of a creaking floor or the refrigerator hum or the house breathe when it is filled with talking. It’s like a constant pulsating effect all around you. I don’t like it much. Perhaps because it is so foreign to me as I have not lived alone, well ever really. I see no point in starting now, especially with a flipping fascist foot that will render me incapable of fending off any monsters under the bed or in the closet.

The oddest thing about this week is not having a soul to tell my comings and goings to. Even if it was just the dog at home, I would tell him to behave that I was going out for a while.   I find myself thinking I have to get back soon so I can- then stop myself and realize I don’t have to get back to do anything for anyone actually. Nor do I have to tell anyone where I am going. But then what happens if I don’t return. There is no one with ground zero information for where to start looking.   See this is what happens when it’s this quiet. The mind wanders and you go creeping quietly behind it on tiptoe with a flashlight and a prayer.   No, give me noise or give me death. Pretty much how it will end up.   My sons will come home and five minutes later I will be looking for this quiet. I don’t really want to find it but look for it I will again am sure.   Well that was 1187 words, so I suppose it is time for sleep as long as the quiet doesn’t keep me awake.  It has been known to happen.  When I moved to California from the Bronx, I drove cross country with a friend of mine.   One night we had to stop in a motel in some town outside Lincoln Nebraska because of a big basketball game or something that made it impossible to get a hotel room in the city.   It was late at night, the innkeeper answered the door in a robe and curlers and gave us a room.   It was the quietest I had ever heard in my life and it scared me silly.  I made my friend push the dresser in front of the door as I was sure we could be killed in the middle of the night in this quiet and out in the middle of nowhere.   The Bronx with the sirens going all night was no problem of course to sleep through.  And sleep now I must and to all a good night.

March 26…..Shin and Hiro Here


, , , ,

Amidst the backdrop or rather backyard filled with 60 odd baby boomers still rockin’ it, came my two new Japanese students, Shin and Hiro. Not a clue what the real names are, I understand even less Japanese after doing this last Christmas. They are cute kids, 11 and 12 and these two are friends from Tokoyama. This is my second foray into the international student host arena. Lucky for them I only do the short, one week stints. The plan was for my brother-in-law to pick them up and sneak them in the front of the house so they would not be alarmed to find scores of people out back drinking, dancing, and dining. I explained to the head of the host company that I was hosting a house concert and therefore perhaps I shouldn’t host the students this time as they would be arriving just about the time the first note was struck. She had a host of reasons why I should have them anyway!! Such immersion in the American culture, she says, what a great experience for them! Yes, because all American backyards turn their porch into a stage, replete with dandy new burgundy curtain and invite some 60, fifty and sixty somethings to a paid show in their yard.   I acquiesced, especially since the money is so good. What, you think all the host families do it for altruistic reasons? Of course we do, but paramount is that potential extra income earning bedroom that is collecting dust.

So in they came and Uncle went out and got them some of the pasta and meatballs we served and got them fed and squared away. Japanese jetlag had them bleary eyed by 7pm. They showered and said good night and off to bed they went. Sometime after the party around 10pm or so, I saw the light still on and knocked to check on them as I hadn’t been able to really spend time with them. Lo and behold, there is Shin on his twin bed under the covers snug as the proverbial bug, when who do you suppose is lying next to him with about an inch before he crashes to the ground with a thud? That’s right the Hiro of our story. I eyed his suitcase sprawled open on the other twin bed where he was supposed to be sleeping and with lots of what I believe are fine Japanese hand waving translations, I asked, “What the heck are doing sleeping there?” Get over on your own bed! Now with even more limited English potential than my previous charge, he starts waving his hands about to let me know that Uncle told him to open his suitcases on the bed and so that is what he did, literally. Open the suitcases and left them on the bed filled with clothes, and hence no room for him to sleep!! SLAP, that’s the sound of my hand against my forehead. Take the suitcase off the bed and you get in the bed. That’s how it works here in America.

This morning was my first attempt at taking them to the new English class location this company is using this time. I missed it like three times, but first breakfast. My last guests in December wanted nothing but a couple of waffles, a banana and some water all week. I tried offering eggs, pancakes, cereal, yogurt, steak, you name it for breakfast, but nothing doing. Could syrupy lightening strike twice? Could I be so lucky as to get two more Japanese boys whose eyes positively bulge at the sight of an EGGO box? I was going to find out the first morning that’s for sure. How about some waffles, boys? BINGO!! They wanted nothing else. What is it about Japanese boys and waffles? Don’t know, but what an easy breakfast week this will be. Now on to dinner. They had pasta the night before, so I threw a pot of meatballs in the crock and thought well I’ll make them some rice. Might as well make them feel a bit at home along with some broccoli, more to assuage my conscience that I was feeding them healthy food. I offered them a meatball sandwich, which they loved but then when given the choice of the white rice I made or the pasta, they opted to go Italian again!! I love these boys, especially since there is like a mountain of pasta left from the house concert/birthday party the night before.   They ate and then gave me the gifts they brought me which I was too busy and impolite to stop and receive last night due to the aforementioned sixty odd people in my backyard. I love getting these things. So imaginative really. I got four, not one, but four sushi key chains. No, you can’t eat them actually. I got a stack of handkerchiefs of various sizes, origami and Ninja stationary which has to be my favorite of the lot. There are scads of Kabuki masks. Painted wet stuff you stick on your face. Not sure I am brave enough for that. But the best gift of all was from Shi: a small photo album with pictures in it of his life with his family, friends, events and parades and the things he does. That was as sweet as it gets.

This is my second time doing this. I am fascinated by the fact that in any group of two kids, they will not be alike. Last time, one boy made his bed every day, the other didn’t the entire time he was here. One boy was an eater, the other more slight and more picky. And with these two new ones, the theory holds true. One boy was more adventurous and ate twice the amount of the other one, the slighter one less so. One had his bed nicely made this morning, the other a valiant attempt. It reminds that we shouldn’t use a cookie cutter approach to our own children. They are unique and different and we should not expect perhaps the same sensibilities or the same approach to how they will tackle life. We need to not compare or despair but rather let them find the way to their very own best self.   Does it matter in the grand scheme of things if one of these Japanese kids makes his bed and the other doesn’t ? No, they are both still just as nice and polite. Making a bed is only something to judge an outward appearance by, not a litmus test of the fabric inside. It’s a lesson I need right now with my own two sons, who are very different and will always approach life in their own fashion. I may have more of an affinity with one type of approach than the other, but I also need to learn that there is NO one approach to life. Only judgmental, narrow minded people who allow nothing in think like that. I’m sure before the week is out we’ll have some more adventures in Japanese-American hand waving and I just hope they enjoy their stay with us as much as we enjoy opening our homes and our crazy to them.

Trust Me… Or Not


Trust, what is it? What does it feel like? What does it look like? What does it taste like? What does a life look like with it and without it? Mr. Rogers of that lovely neighborhood where now I wish I had lodged my sons as babies, testified before the Senate in 1969 to ask that they continue funding for shows on PBS. He began his testimony with the comment that the first thing a child learns in a healthy home is trust. But what if the lesson is not learned properly or in a manner that instills a life long unease with the notion? Can a person who lacks the foundation of the most basic and necessary builder of trust regain it later in life or is the possibility gone for good? I don’t trust. I can’t seem to. And the irony of it is that I am generally trusted by most people: as a mother with kids by the mothers of other kids, by my work peers and overlords, by myriad ventures and partners in volunteerism doing their finances or leading their organization. Trust. How could someone who has so little of it to give, be a person who gets so much of it from others?

My lack of trust in others, especially those closest to me, has done damage to some relationships that I can no longer repair. All I can do now is try and get to the bottom of it. Why does it happen? What are the ingredients that go into the decision to trust or not to trust? Fear, I think is the number one factor; fear of being hurt, fear of being betrayed, fear of physical harm. It’s much better not to take a chance and a leap of faith than suffer the painful consequences if wrong. A life led that way makes for a lot of missed opportunities and misunderstandings.

There are all kinds of trust: the kind between a husband and wife or any other variation of that contract, the kind between friends and relatives, the kind between parent and child.   My ex husband has accused me time and again of not trusting him. This has been a real issue in our failed marriage. He contends that I never trusted him with our kids or my feelings or a myriad other things. And he is right in a sense, but he also fails to acknowledge that the source of this mistrust was concrete at times. I didn’t trust him to take my sons on solo trips when he was drinking, for example.   I feared for their safety. We shall never agree on that nor on the effect it had on my kids. I also did not trust him to make the right decisions in child rearing and I did exclude him from those discussions many times. In that sense, my lack of trust did cause pain and damage that could have been avoided perhaps. It is too late to know that though at this point.

The one area though that I never mistrusted him about was fidelity. It just never would have crossed my mind. Just not in his character but that’s not only it. I felt no sense of unworthiness with him. I never thought him out of my league in looks or intelligence or charm and so while he had to deal with my mistrust in the area of our kids and life in general, he never had to deal with the tantrums of a jealous partner steeped in the mistrust born when you feel you are not good enough for someone. It’s the kind of mistrust that makes you see boogey men or tantalizing women around every corner and in every engagement your partner has with the opposite sex. It is a madness that comes from the mistrust that ensues when given two plausible explanations for a thing.   Lack of trust will always select the worst one. But how much of this type of mistrust comes from your character rather than your previous life experiences? Can this type of mistrust ever truly be reconciled? If not, then is the vicious cycle of selecting a partner with qualities you don’t necessarily want in exchange for the very tangible benefit of being able to trust their fidelity, easily destined to be repeated again and again? Would one then run screaming from a potential partner who they saw as their ideal simply because their sense of unworthiness of it renders them incapable of trusting that such a person could be loyal to them? Perhaps it all goes back to the beginning. Perhaps Mr. Rogers is right and if there is some issue in our early development where the trust needed is not there for whatever reason, then our entire life’s approach to trust or lack thereof is predetermined. My father left when I was a baby for several years right after I was born. My mother had an extremely difficult time of it living with her in laws that she did not get along with until he returned. My world was changed when I was three and had to leave my homeland and move to America. I still remembered all my life my maternal grandmother and the screaming I did when I had to leave her. Was this a memory I truly had or just repeated to me by my mother? I’ll never know but it stays with me nonetheless. Was all this enough to obliterate the early foundation of trust in a home that a child first needs to experience for me? Is this the source of my lack of trust? Or is it other avenues of trust formation like the outcome of one’s first love? Do those fortunate enough to have their very first encounter with true love go well and get to live happily ever after never have the foundation of their ability to trust obliterated? And for those of us who it goes woefully wrong for, are we left wondering and wandering forever? I don’t know frankly.

I am of the opinion that we do not let our childhood dictate our adulthood. I believe that firmly. I think we need to see our upbringing for what it is with its limitations and faults and recognize that our parents did the best they could under their very own unique situations. I believe, however, that we can examine the effects of these things upon ourselves and then make a conscious choice of how we let them affect us. If not, we become crippled by our childhood and will need the crutches of addiction throughout adulthood. But all this is easier said than done. To truly trust requires the ability to forgive, I think. To truly trust requires taking a breath and a leap of faith sometimes. This is most difficult for those of us with analytical brains to the point of overthinking just about everything. Ironically this skill, which serves one so well in the world of business and organization, is the death knell for most successful personal relationships. My sons at a very young age have constantly asked me to stop thinking so much and that I need to let things be. Is lack of the ability to trust forever intertwined with the penchant to over analyze and think? Perhaps. A study I came across a few years back suggested that the higher the intelligence, the harder it is to trust. Is it true or just another rationalized excuse to assuage a character flaw? My jury is still out on this one. I am a work in progress in this arena with a long, long way to go unfortunately.

While lack of trust in a marriage or other significant relationship like that is exhausting and tiresome, lack of trust between child and parent is so much more painful. It usually rears itself during the teenage and young adult years which are so difficult in and of themselves to deal with but throw in a lack of trust and it’s a witch’s brew of strife, uncertainty and sadness. What happens when that trust is broken by an offspring trying things like drugs or alcohol or sex or lying or a myriad of other things you really prefer them not to be doing. How do you know when it’s just a rite of passage that some need to experiment with versus something that will suck your child down a rabbit hole they may never crawl their way back to the top from? How do you stay vigilant while allowing them to try and earn your trust back. For some parents I imagine this is easy, for me not so much. It gets back to forgiveness for me and a sense of inflexibility when it comes to forgiveness in that I see it as, “if you did it once that’s enough to make you want to do it again”. I know people learn from their mistakes, but there some types which are never learned from because it is the very character of the person that caused it in the first place. Does this way of thinking prevent a parent like me, from seeing that trust can be restored? Or will I constantly be looking over my sons’ shoulders for evidence? It’s a tiresome way to live for both them and me. A parent has to continue to take that leap of faith and trust their offspring again. If not, the relationship severs for good. With each time I trust and am disappointed though, it becomes harder and harder like an uphill climb. I don’t want the door closed permanently like that, but how to keep it open when there are so may obstacles in the way is heartbreaking.

The issue of trust and the effect of the lack therefore are at the eye of the storm of my life right now. The assault is on several different of these relationship fronts that require trust. I am no closer to solving my inability to trust but hope I have the chance to keep trying in some of these arenas. There is no easy answer and the angst it causes is not much fun to live with. To truly suspend all the protective measures we have built up over a lifetime to guard our heart and mind and soul from pain, real or imagined, is a tough thing to do, especially at my age, but do it I must if I don’t want to repeat some mistakes again. I trust and I hope that you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it.



March 19, 2018 Happy St. Joseph’s Day


, , , ,

Dear Readers, all eight of you.   My writing mentor, the Duck, says I have to write every day. He says no one goes to the Olympics by skating one day a month. He says write what you had for breakfast if you have to. Ok, Kefir and berries with stevia and flaxseed. Everyday. Yes I don’t think that my daily food intake will provide quite the scintillating writing topic though. Write every day I must from now on. But where to write? Do I buy another nifty new journal and put pen to paper and do it long hand? Do I just random people emails all day? No. I decided I will simply put another category to my page here and call it the Daily Booze.   So here I go. Dateline today.  This one’s for you, Duck.

My playroom is coming along fine or the studio or whatever it will be called in its next manifestation. I go into the room and I am thrilled to see the new colors and then I cry to see the new colors. There is such history to this 25 year room in my life and for those no longer living here. It began as a studio for Andy, our musician house partner to me and Craig, 25 years ago on March 25, the same day as Andy’s birthday.   Seven years later, when Andy moved out, it morphed into the playroom for my Marco who was three at the time and then also his brother Max when he came along a year later. The ghosts of Grandma Anita having tea parties with Max and Marco in there resonate with every stroke of the brush of the newly mixed paint. A lovely color that Michael, my business partner, turned friend, turned handyman, came up with by mixing the remnants of gallons of left over paint from Craig who could never part with a can of paint, good or bad.   It’s a fitting symbol for mixing of the lives that lived in this room for all those years. Some gone for good like my ex and Andy. Some on hiatus I hope like my older son Marco living with his dad.   What shall this room become in its new manifestation. I don’t know. I truly don’t. I sat in there today so peacefully while Michael painted his ‘holiday’ spots as he calls them for what seems like the umpteenth time to me. But perfectionism is good in work so I can’t complain. Just glad he’s not getting paid by the hour. It’s exciting too, not all sad, to see what that room becomes. My Max is left, thank goodness.

This weekend, practicing my empty nest routine, just underscored that I don’t want one ever. .I like the sound of noise and people and laughter and chatter. I have no interest at this late date to learn to live alone. If I have to nab a few homeless folks from under the freeway, I will gosh darn it. If not this place will really become Grey Gardens and I’ll have to buy a bunch of turbans.

A play filled weekend though it was. And that brings the joy these days in a life in transition. Friday night’s Don’t Hug Me, We’re Family, with my long time best friend, the ever Zen like Pat McKane was hilarious in it’s spoof of theater music against the back drop of a small Minnesota town. The irony of the fast talking New Yorker and his wife dropping in to cause commotion was not lost on this New Yorker who married a Minnesota boy for 27 years. St. Patty’s day the next night was a hop between friends with the cheer moms at Keegans for an early celebration. Then a trip to Andy and Renee and Avenue A to meet Ms. Robin and her new beau who is as sweet as can be amidst the backdrop of so much green and glitter courtesy of Miss Marilee and Miss Lisa Matthews.

Sunday and plays reigned once again, as Sandi one of my most steadfast playgirls, and I went to the Echo to see a wonderful play called The Undivided Heart. What a poignantly orchestrated piece of theater set to the scandal of a pedophile priest and a younger priest looking to publish the story and his Zen toting brother and his Buddha and a town poisoned and dying from tainted water. In the hands of a lessor playwright and director this could have been a mess. But it wasn’t. The director, adorable, asking us at intermission if we liked it. Yes, yes, stop being so needy, we love it..   At the restroom door we chatted with this lovely lady who when I asked who she was there for, as is often the case in theaters with 40 people in the audience, said she worked the lights on the play. Why was I here she asked. We are professional playgoers I replied. And it’s true. For less than the price of what most people pay for a movie and surely a lot less that the most addicted television viewer pays for TV, we go to play after play and play. I sit a lot and wonder what should I be doing in these retired years. And a little voice always answers: you don’t need to do ANYTHING anymore but go to plays and concerts.

Holiday Presence


, , , , ,

The Title Tracker holiday party and mini show hosted by Tracker Russell and his lovely life mate Mika is as wonderful as it gets. This is their fourth one in a row and the third I have attended. The intimacy and elegance of this one lent itself to the Trackers being able to let their proverbial hair down and enjoy it as much as their guests. And that is truly what we were last night, guests not attendees. This year, unlike last, it was a smaller intimate group which ranged from a friend since kindergarten to an adorable 23 year old transplant from the Bronx who was meeting them for the first time as the guest of the Blitzstein Art Gallery manager.  It was duly noted how she managed to lose her Bronx accent in three months while I have held onto mine for 30 years.

It was good to watch them in conversations at length about all sorts of things like songwriting and the process one Tracker goes through with people they don’t often get to share this with or discussing music with the imitable Georgia B. who runs the Midnight Mission on Skid Row.   Her passion for music and the homeless has led her to create an intersection for feeding their stomachs and their souls with the music and art programs she brings to them each week. Georgia is a shining light in this very dark problem.

We forget what our local musical heroes go through when putting on a full blown gig for us. We don’t often think about the stress technically and musically and what it takes to keep scores of fans coming back for more. They must balance the myriad details of getting it all set up and ready to go with the glad handing that must be done so that every fan who comes is rewarded with a word or two, a hug or a kiss. It’s a contract of sorts that any good artist who wants to keep doing this must enter into. It can’t always easy for them to balance this. So to be able to do this event once a year, where they can mix a beautifully simple presentation of a few old Title Track favorites done by Jim, Bono and John with a preview of a new lost Title Track or two in a truly jovial, relaxed atmosphere is well pretty good actually.
The heartbeat of the event was our hostess, Mika, a quadruple threat of talent if there ever was one. She is an amazing photographer and videographer to start, but then she simply whipped off that apron after making the most delicious Hanukkah food for us and literally never missed a beat playing the cello with the Trackers last night. Why she doesn’t open a restaurant I don’t know. My favorite part of this evening and of many of the past Tracker gigs is the good night Tracker huddle. I somehow always manage to catch it at a distance. These three embrace for a few moments privately at the end of their events. I adore this gesture by this brotherhood of blended talent that gives us those terrific lost title tracks that we love so much. I imagine they are once again sharing the joy of another job well done. Either that or they are thanking one of the trackers for not spilling his beer all night. And so I thank them all for a lovely, lovely evening and for reminding us that the best holiday presents are often simply to be in the presence of some great people for the holidays.



, , , , , , ,

As every person with a Facebook account may know, I got tickets for some additional friends to see Hamilton. The second time for me -yes, I am guilty of theater gluttony- and the first time for Patty, one of my very first Los Angeles friends and favorite Customs employee, Renee, a musical long time friend, and Yoli, a brand new shiny penny I met through Andy and Renee this past year.

The tickets I got were on the first night of the 2017 Dodgers- Astros World Series. As anyone who was breathing in California or Texas or anywhere else in the baseball world knew, the Dodgers had not been to a series since 1988 and the Astros never had. We had reservations at a really nice restaurant that I cancelled since they had no television, because apparently they understood how bad eating in front of a TV is for you. We decided to take our chances instead at 33 Taps next door to the Pantages Theater as they had lots of televisions. As luck would not have it, they had more patrons that evening than TV sets. So we wandered the halls of Hollywood and Vine and came upon a nice little joint called the Lost Property Whisky Bar. The Doors used to play there constantly and wrote that famous song there. Not really.  The place was empty other than the three other people on the planet besides me and Patty who could care less that the Dodgers or Astros for that matter were in the World Series. We lucked out; great food, great drinks and of course great company.

The place was around the corner from 33 Taps and we had to pass 33 to get to the Pantages. There was a huge, glass window with one of their many TV sets hanging in it. Renee and Yoli came to a halt to watch as much of the game as possible before the curtain went up on Hamilton next door. I watched them enrapt watching the game and chuckled because they reminded me of two things: that old song “How Much is That Doggie in the Window “ and those shows from the 50s and 60s that would have people standing outside the window of their local appliance store watching the rows of televisions on the shelves.

This was Wednesday night. It got me thinking a few things over the next few days: Renee has to go to a World Series game. How will she get tickets? Does she even want to get tickets? By Monday, I had my answer. O yes, she wants to go as evidenced by her Facebook plea. Tickets? Anyone? Anyone? It was answered with one comment that said “My friend has tickets for $1800 a piece” and others earlier with like tickets are bazillion dollars. What the hell, this is baseball, not the Super Bowl for heaven’s sake. There’s a million games a year, right?   I can do better than that, I thought.   Saying you can’t get tickets to something at a reasonable price is like waving a red flag in front of me.  I started with my usual suspects, the very connected and more affluent of my football presidents. They either did not have tickets, already gave them away to clients or ignored me because they were mad at me for enforcing some rule they didn’t like. Where to next? Well I always start with the dead or the desperate. Folks who either bought tickets and are no longer with us or can’t go for some ridiculous reason like work or too scared of being blown up. I love those people. Hey in my defense, as I took the below face value Coldplay tickets, I did give the man some advice in that area. I digress. Back to Renee and the Dodgers.

I first checked Craigslist, where I have had great luck with my concerts. As you can see, no one I met there over the past few years has killed me. There was nothing but ridiculous prices and no dead tickets holders. I then checked my two favorite scalpers. I won’t tell you who because I don’t want you over there jacking up the prices on me.   A bunch came up and not in the nosebleed seats and not at the exorbitant prices that Facebook fake news was touting either. I checked again and again, even checked the location on the stadium seating chart, which I know by heart for most venues but not this one. Wow, that is a damn good price in light of what it’s for. I sent Renee a text. I found some tickets, this is what they cost, go buy them. She seemed at first a bit incredulous but said she would maybe check them out. No, right now please. My ticket magic doesn’t last all day you now.   And here’s why you need to buy them, I explained. First, the Dodgers are going to win tomorrow night and you need to be there. Second, this ain’t the Yankees, my dear. The Yankees will go to the World Series like ten more times in our lifetime but this may be the only shot the Dodgers get. And in the words of my first Customs Service boss, A dot Ham, you NEVER throw away your shot!! By Golly, Renee said, I will buy them! Ok, maybe she didn’t really say “by golly”, but you get the picture.

Besides Renee, the other biggest Dodger fan I know is Chuck the Chuckinator.  He needed to be there and he was. I have to say the pictures posted by them depicting the pure joy on those two faces at Dodger World Series game 6 was priceless and perfect. Of course the Dodgers won that night. Hey I never mentioned game 7, did I?

When I told the story the other night to our friend Andy, he said my brain is bizarre. He said that most people when someone says to them they want to see a show or an event or something like that, nod politely and wish them well. Most people don’t immediately go out and get tickets and then either send them or take them. I don’t understand. Seems perfectly normal to me. Maybe it’s cause he’s not 60 yet. Maybe it’s a 60s and a 60s thing.   A great concert or play or other event you love is way more important than eating dinner. A PB & J is just fine sometimes. Food for the soul is just as important, if not more, when you get to a certain age.

My priorities are different now. My entertainment certainly is. My 40 year old self and my 50 year old self wouldn’t understand and that’s OK they weren’t supposed to. I spent a lifetime in front of a TV set. Once I shut it off three years ago, my brain has been reprogrammed to only accept live entertainment. Strange I know. I can take old shows on a computer for a very short burst. Movies are out and so are TV shows and no news ever.   I fall asleep immediately or become so antsy I can only watch a movie for about ten minutes at a time. I can’t stand sitting there. I don’t miss it at all. I saw a great play Sunday night for less than a movie ticket costs these days.

I have had incredible ticket luck since I started this almost two years ago. I have a ticket angel, as I like to say.   A few years ago, a friend and fellow PTA and football volunteer Mom died at 51 years old of cancer. In the program they passed out at her memorial was a list of wisdoms she wanted to impart after she was gone. One of the things on it was “use the good china” along with many others in this vein. That one phrase has stayed in my heart and in my mind every since. So now rather than wait till I’m dead to tell you, here you go. “ I went to way too many concerts, plays and events,” said no one ever on their dying bed.   So next time you really, really want to go to something that you know will bring you incredible joy no matter what it is, BUY THE TICKET!!”


Musical Meanderings & Musicings #2


, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

PRESCRIPT: Pieces like this are often time sensitive and sending them out distanced is not always the best way to do it. My life is such now that I see a pen and paper off in the distance. There is a haze and a fog and obstacles preventing its reach that no swimming against the proverbial tide or crawling on hands and knees seems to get me there. Chores and kids and house and life are strewn about so that it becomes both exhausting and futile and necessary all at the same time. I am learning to push those things out of the way with a greater and greater force. This morning, I gave a fierce shove to my morning walk and Zumba workout to reach the pen and paper to finish this train of musical thought started weeks ago during one of my joyous musical weeks.

The funny little goose bumps and silly little shivers up and down my arms this morning in anticipation of the Coldplay concert I will see at the Rose Bowl this evening is as physiologically good as it gets. Induced and exacerbated by my friend Sandi telling me about her favorite CP song called Fix You. I watched it live in Paris some five years ago this morning.   I was pierced to the soul by this beautiful song and even more perfect rendition. Like a kid who sneaks down to the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve after Mom and Dad have left the presents and gone chasing the sugarplums in their head, my fingers ran to I had to unwrap the present now and know the set list odds of hearing this song played tonight.  The odds are very good.

I have not been a huge Coldplay fan. I love Viva La Vida but took me years to stop calling it Living La Vida Loca. One of the things I have treasured over the past few years with my writing polisher and business partner, Michael, is our shared love of music, albeit as different musical taste as you can get.   I call him my business partner. He refers to himself as the hired help. He is an older CP fan, not by age but by album release. He turned me on to a few great songs by them that I had never heard before, Yellow for one, Trouble for two.

Sharing musical finds is a sacred pastime of mine. I have found very few in my life travels to do so with.   When I met my partner, I lobbed Bob and Bruce at him, the litmus test for me of anyone’s musical taste. He didn’t catch them right away, if at all.   He was reluctant, given my penchant for heavy lyric above all else music, to share much of his with me. A chance trip through Facebook and the find of a very prolific posting friend of his led me to so many different kinds of his type of music. I remember the day I played Gary Neumann’s What the Clock Said. His jaw dropped that I loved that song.   I like to think that over our past several years of American Bandstand like music sharing without the dance numbers, we have had a bit of influence on each other musically. He liked Dawes a lot and I fell in love with David Bowie posthumously because of his recommendations.   The one thing that I have found most fun in learning about and listening to all this new music from him is that I have to really listen in stereo. Because the music I am most drawn to is lyrically prominent, with the surrounding sound a pretty packaged compliment to the words, I listen with mono ears. Listening to Michael’s music requires listening to it with stereophonic ears. There seems to be this common theme in much of the songs wherein there is a steady repetitive beat but not just drums and/or bass alone. It’s almost an entire song with a steady repetition and so your ear is drawn to this. With that constant is then a flurry of music wrapped around it and over it and under it, sort of independent of the basic song and so you listen to that part with the other ear. It is quite a pleasing effect.   He has liked a lot of the music outside his realm that I played for him over the years as well. He actually watched the film Don’t Look Back by Bob a few months ago, a result of a video job that my friend April gave us to do. I won’t say Michael’s going to be strolling around humming Desolation Row anytime soon though. He still remains in the “ l like Dylan’s words and songs, I just wish someone else was singing them” camp.  Well problem solved, as he knows, having done enough audio copying for Andy, that he and his associate Renee, put on the best Dylanfest every May with fifty to sixty musicians all singing Bob’s songs. No better place to see Dylan not singing Dylan.

Andy, my musician friend and West Coast honorary little brother, is another person who I have constantly played, “hey listen to this” with for near 30 years. This is very different, though, in that our musical tastes are so alike that the chances of his liking something I find or he plays for me are about 99% easily. I was a Dylan fan when I met Andy, but with a much narrower selection of songs and albums.  You can get an honorary degree in Dylan by hanging out with Andy this many years. Hang out with April, though and you get a Dylan Doctorate. April is hands down the Dylan knowledge queen. She knows every lyric and every song like I have never seen before. A small digression.

I was driving and listening to KCSN one day, the best radio station from Cal State Northridge ever and my partner’s alma mater, and I heard Dawes do A Little Bit of Everything for the very first time. I was totally and completely blown away.   The first person I called to share it with was Andy. The gold standard of whether I really like a song sometimes is that the first thought that goes through my head is Andy should play it or Andy and Renee should play it, if I hear a female part prominently. That day I literally pulled over and texted Andy and said have you ever heard of this band? YES, was the enthusiastic as Andy can be reply. Come over tonight and so I did and over some 22 minutes in the freezer timed perfectly Sierras, Andy told me the story of discovering this band on a fieldtrip with his son a few years before.   They were the musical guests at the Grammy Museum that day. Taylor the leader of the band along with his brother Griffin are the sons of Lenny Goldsmith of Tower of Power and who now has his own band and Andy and he now share a bass player in Dave Batti: six degrees of musical non-separation.   Andy told me the story that Taylor told that day at the fieldtrip of being the opening act for Bob Dylan a few years before and actually waiting for Bob after the concert as their tour buses were parked side by side. A fist bump by Bob telling Taylor he thought his song A Little Bit of Everything Thing was great sent him straight to songwriter heaven am sure. Andy played me all his favorites and I was hooked and then some. They are without a doubt my favorite new band and the best singer/songwriters to come along in near forty years. It’s no wonder Bob liked them. It’s no wonder they love Bob.

The next one I ran Dawes by is my musical gal pal extraordinaire, Ms. Sandi Behar. She knew of them and loved their music. Well this much of a musical find requires an up close and personal look, does it not? So ticket mistress me, does what I do best and finds out where they are playing and organizes a musical field trip. What a great time we had with this one. First Dawes had a new album coming out in the fall. They were to play as an opening act in August, but executive decision by me- no way was this band opening band material. We either see a full concert by them or nothing. They are too damn good to go see for a 45 minute set. That’s music-interruptus at it’s worst. Rewarded we were by waiting, like all good virgins sometimes are, because by September they had a new album out. First Andy, his son Chase, Lorna (Andy’s girlfriend and my most ZEN BFF) and I saw them in a tiny record store in Long Beach where they played a beautiful semi-acoustic set and signed posters and CDs for the fans.   As I said to Taylor when he signed my poster, “Don’t believe any of these people, I AM your biggest fan”. Two nights later as luck and my ticket-enchanted life would have it; I had two tickets to see an entire show at the Masonic Lodge at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery with Sandi. It was one of the best, and I know she would agree, wonderfully magical experiences of our musical madness friendship.  When you meet kindred musical spirits you hold them close and treasure them, as they are rare in one’s life. This wonderful lady who I met through Andy is certainly one of my rare few.

The following spring, I organized a posse of Dawes fans that included Renee and husband Patrick, Andy, Chase and girlfriend Sam, Lorna and Sandi to see them at the Ace Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles. This is by far one of my absolute favorite venues. A little ticket trickery on my part, which I am not going to disclose, had balcony seats turned into first and sixth row front and center for what was a phenomenal Dawes show. Andy had only seen the short record store performance, so it was a pleasure watching him watching them at this full-blown concert.

It is only fitting that as I contemplated yesterday who I should take to see Coldplay tonight, as I had to let poor Sandi off the hook with her work schedule and our previous night’s musical Lukas magic, that I decided to see if my partner would go. I like going to shows with a fan and even better if they have never see them.  I set out to find my tickets and within a half hour I did. Great seats on the 50-yard line about 26 rows up from the floor. The man said he was selling at less than face value because he had to work. Perhaps, or perhaps the fear set in of concert crowds and mayhem from the prior week’s Las Vegas debacle.   I will never know and he will never say. I am sure there are many more who live by the news rather than by the numbers these days. So I’ll drag Michael kicking and beaming tonight thanks to a lovely man who couldn’t go.

The show was big. Very big. Stadium big with the coolest bracelets lighting up at different colors upon Coldplay’s commands. I was so upset they turned off after a few miles down the freeway. We could have kept them lit for good, couldn’t we? I am sure there is some terrible technical reason why not. Fireworks, twinkly lights and colorful balloons are enough to make me happy, but I missed the intimacy of music a bit more up close and personal. The last time I was at the Rose Bowl was for the Rolling Stones Voodoo Lounge tour decades ago. Thank you to my friend Trish for that musical reminder. Coldplay is a wonderful band, although as agreed, the sound is not the best here. The seats are tight but the night was just beautiful weather-wise and with a full moon. Speaking of Full Moon Risings, they did a great tribute to Tom Petty with Free Falling at the end joined by that James something guy from the carpool Karaoke and a great horn section. Really nice.   They are a great band and the musicianship top notch. They are true Guitar Heroes, playing their years old guitars for all their worth and that is not measured by the costly sheen.  One guitar looked like the first cast on a third grader’s broken leg, covered with colorful signatures and writing.   It is only the Guitar Zeroes that think they need to change out a shiny brand new $1000 instrument with every few notes, as if musical soul and talent and passion exude from a price tag.   We got lots of Coldplay favorites and even the Fix You song I love, albeit more the album version than the softer piano only one I saw on YouTube, but lovely just the same. My partner was happy with the choice of a song from their very first album entitled Don’t Panic. That album, Parachutes, has been a phenomenal find for me this week as well. Music is timeless and when one discovers it doesn’t matter really. Parachutes is as near a perfect album as it gets. Now on to part one of my musical week.

The Wednesday night before was one of the most magical of musical events. The Los Angeles Chapter of the Lukas Nelson fan club rides again, this time to the Fonda Theater in Hollywood. These old theaters we have around Los Angeles are such terrific venues to see music at. This one did not disappoint. Lukas is Willie Nelson’s son. I discovered him quite by accident several months back through one of my musical internet meanderings. He was doing an impromptu rendition in a lounge on a cruise ship with just a couple of old veteran musicians on the piano and trumpet of his Dad’s You Were on My Mind that simply took my breath away for about an hour.   Fast forward to June and a Facebook conversation with Sandi and a few others about their seeing Lukas and his band, the Promise of the Real, at the previous weekend’s Arroyo Grande musical festival in Pasadena. They were talking about how great he was. But didn’t I send you that YouTube of him months ago doing the song, I asked? They didn’t remember anything like that. Hmm. Well this certainly requires an up close and personal look by me, does it not? So while we were FB chatting I mentioned we should see him. I then looked up where his tour was and sadly no Los Angeles shows for the rest of the year. The closest show was Sacramento at the end of July. Well within the hour, I had the tickets, the itinerary and the agreement of Sandi, and two other fans and friends, Yoli and Christine- fans of Lukas, friends of ours- ready, willing and able for an overnight trip to Sacramento to see him.

Phenomenal night, phenomenal band.   We saw him at the Ace of Spades in downtown Sac, a great, intimate musical venue.   We then found out that he was adding a show in Los Angeles in October at the Fonda theater and that is how the Lukas Nelson Fan club plus a few more additions like Jacki, music photographer extraordinaire and Lorraine joined the club.  Vampire musical energy. It’s the only thing I could come up with to describe what Lukas has. I bought his CD at the Sacramento show. I listened to it, maybe once in my car. It does nothing for me. They are nice songs. He’s got a nice voice. That’s it. I have watched a few live performances with the band videos of him on YouTube. Ok, not bad, pretty good as rock country goes. But enter a room with him. See him and his band from a few feet away from the stage at a show you paid like 30 bucks for and every one of your senses becomes assaulted and engaged. He is pure, pure musical magic, albeit black magic I am starting to think, on that stage. Like a vampire whose selfie you never took or seen, his musical energy simply cannot be captured on any medium. It exists in live form only. You watch his soul and fire and charm and heart and all laid bare for you right on that stage to share and enjoy and it’s an experience one never forgets.   Everyone is better live than on a record some would say.  That’s not the same here. The usual course of events is that we develop a kinship and connection to the music first by listening to it on record or radio. . We then want to see it performed live and sometimes we are pleased and sometimes not, but we go back to listening to our favorite artists on the record or tape or MP3 and we are fine with that experience. What I am saying here is, I can’t listen to him on those mediums cause it kind of bores me. The songs run together in a way. There is nothing remarkable about listening to them in my car, but I can say with absolute conviction that there will never be a Lukas Nelson concert in Los Angeles and parts nearby that I won’t be at if humanly possible. Lukas travels a lot with his Dad playing on his tours and his band is also Neil Young’s touring band. All very nice, but this is another musician that I have no interest in seeing as an opening act or part of some long bill that gives them a 45 minute set.

As musically special weeks go, the first one of this October was a gift in so many ways and I treasure and thank all the people I got to share it with. And so I reached the pen and the paper this morning. Now it’s time to get back to the walk and the Zumba until the next piece beckons.