Death Does Not Become You Until….

Tags

, , , ,

PRESCRIPT: I hate editing as much as I hate cleaning. They are two tasks that never end and are never really finished, which is why I rarely do either and rather pay someone else to do it for me. This week as a lesson in patience, I kept this piece on my desk for four days and went back and rewrote it every day. It was not a pleasant experience at all for me. I hope the reading of it is more pleasant than the writing was.

The very public deaths in the last 24 hours coupled with a very private one for my younger son brings the subject first and foremost to my mind. Questions will be asked and poorly answered because we have become such a fear driven society that we cannot accept the uniqueness of the situation of the man who shot his way to infamy in a Las Vegas hotel this month, taking over 50 people with him to his death. We will wring our collective hands while listening to the talking heads delivering the daily dose of terror heaped on this nation for many decades now. We will examine every detail of this man’s life to see if we can find the one ingredient, which will keep us safe again. Is he the latest alphabet soup terrorist? Of course he must be. It is the go-to cup of terror served nice and hot with each news broadcast since 911. What did he say last week to family or friends? How did he behave when he walked his dog or bought a carton of milk? There must have been signs to show he was going to take some 30 odd guns to a hotel room and shoot the hell out of a concert going crowd. Because, of course, he could have been stopped had he just did the polite thing and told someone ahead of time or acted bizarrely so some random friend or family member could say, by Jove, I think Mr. So and So may be on his way to infamy via the death of a host of perfect strangers tomorrow.   And even if he did and they did, would anyone in authority really listen? We simply cannot accept the randomness of this. This is not so bad, but what is a shame is that we cannot accept the uniqueness of it. We cannot seem to comprehend the absolute rarity of an event like this happening to us in our lifetime because we are never given the statistics to make that case. Numbers do not lie. If only those morons who do these news reports would simply at the end of the broadcast provide the actual statistical possibility of this ever happening to someone, it would go far in eliminating the way people live in abject fear after these events.

There are voices in all our heads. We are ruled by a committee of those voices. They belong to our heart, our mind, our soul, our reason, our logic, our empathy, our fears, our self esteem, our past, our present and our future to name but a few. When the committee is like a jury of 12 Happy Men, decisions are easy. When there this conflict amongst the committee, the voice of intuition can sometimes break the logjam and sometimes not. We are not all equal in that power, nor should we be or we would have a very orderly, bland world indeed.   The very vast majority of us conduct our lives in relative harmony with each other and the world, but every now and then, there will be an individual who has this other voice. This voice in their head that doesn’t belong, that always lingers on the perimeter, never participating with the committee, just watching. The secular may call it evil, the cleric, the devil and the scientist a short in the wiring of the brain. Regardless of the label bestowed, it is not part of the normal sets of voices that exist in one’s head. This voice waits its turn. It waits for conditions to be ripe, whatever they may be. And then one moment, just like the best New Yorker working their way through a crowd on 7th Avenue, it pushes to the front of all the other voices, jumps on the stage and now commands the actions of its host. There is no more committee. The voices of reason, and logic and compassion and love and intelligence and empathy are silenced for good. In that instant is when the deeds of massacre and mayhem and murder occur.   So for pundits and persons to wring there hands and say what could have been done to stop this is ludicrous because that voice that can carry out these heinous crimes does not show itself until it is too late. If it did, then we would never know of its existence, as there would be no tragic trace of it. I am not disparaging the good a therapist or any other mental health professional can do for people who are disturbed. But you can only help someone who shows you they need it and acts like they want it. If that person shows you they need or want help, then the voice does not have quite the same conviction that I am talking about. The voice in one’s head needed to carry out the destruction of a 9-11 or a Columbine or a Mandalay Bay is devious enough never to let you see it but at the same time it is so very rare and this is what the media completely refuses to focus on. If when these situations occur they simply report it in small doses; efficiently, concisely and correctly along with the statistical probability of it happening to someone, I venture a guess we would not keep this culture of captivation and obsession with fear going very much longer.

Two encounters yesterday hammered home for me just how the fear machine rolls along. I was getting a CPAP machine. It is a nifty thing you use with a mask on your nose and mouth to sleep with when you have apnea so you, too, can look like Hannibal Lechter in a cute pajama. The technician teaching me how to use it was young man with young children. We were talking about the Vegas massacre and he told me he was at a volleyball event at USC with his kids on Sunday and it was out in the open and now he will think twice about going to that kind of stuff. Well I don’t think he expected the lecture I gave him. I asked him please don’t become one of those parents. Please understand the uniqueness and the odds of that happening to you is probably akin to being struck by lightening or winning Powerball. Please enjoy your kids and your life with them and don’t try to put them in a protective bubble. It will do more harm than good and in the long run get you nowhere other than continuing the concept of courageless living. Turn off the news or watch it in small doses. I turned it off over three years ago and I can attest to a better quality of life. People tell me what’s going on if I want to know and that is enough for me. I don’t want to be bombarded or glued to a TV for every crisis blown out of civilized proportion. I spent a lifetime doing that starting with the JFK Assassination when I was six.   I understood his fear.   I was one of those parents, at least to a certain degree. With my firstborn son, I never allowed any types of toy guns or weapons. I remember the first time a relative bought him a toy gun, I went ballistic and made them return it. How dare they buy such a thing for the son of a child of the 60’s, firmly planted in the flower power of peace and love, a rabid liberal, NRA hating mom?   A month ago I finally sold off the rest of the over 100 Nerf guns, rifles and bazookas collected by my younger son over the course of his childhood years. I am relatively certain that neither of my sons will climb a bell tower in a rage despite the very different exposure to weapons of couch destruction.  I no longer come down on firmly on either side of the gun issue in this country. I agree with the left that we should absolutely require a full background check before we allow someone to buy a gun. If I had to undergo background checks to push papers around on a desk for the federal government when I worked for them, then I want one done on someone carrying a gun next to me in the supermarket too.   I agree with the fact that assault rifles should be banned, but I don’t understand how it’s even possible to ban the sale if you don’t ban the actual manufacturing first. But I also agree with the right that believes it’s not guns that kill, it’s people. The issue is very complex and not as simple as each side thinks though and that is where the compromises and reason needs to stem from if we are ever to make real progress in this arena. We need to stop digging our heels in and throwing politically, ideological tantrums and get to the middle on this where I am sure everyone who doesn’t have a dominant stupid voice in their head is anyway.

The second brush with exaggeratedly, exacerbated fear came in an email reply from a man I know to a question about a specific concert a few of us are attending this week. He said, No thanks I won’t ever go to concerts again. This is a man with grown children, not a young parent.   That made me sad. This is a reasonably intelligent person, not one I would think to succumb to the propaganda of fear dished out on a daily basis but succumb he did or at least temporarily. I didn’t reply out of respect. I didn’t want to dismiss nor diminish his very real feelings nor try to change them. I know not if they are fleeting at all. Only time will tell for him. I am sure there are many people feeling this today and will in the weeks to come. It is a concrete action they are taking to keep themselves safe in light of the fact they do not have the statistical probability clearly explained or perhaps even if they did, will never believe the uniqueness of the act anyway. But even so, we should at least try and change people’s minds by changing the way we report this information to our citizens. Until we do that, we simply continue the status quo. And sadly that status quo will line some corporate crook’s pockets with change instead. I venture a guess that some lunacy will occur at some of the Vegas casinos in the form of metal detectors. What a shame to spend this money and put up symbols of fear for something that will most likely never occur again in the lifetime of most casino goers right now. Casinos are a fun place to visit. When I think of these metal detectors, if they come to be, I see the opening of the old movie Metropolis by Fritz Lang, where the workers are filing into the factory in such sadly depressing but perfect order. I hope logic prevails at these venues. I hope it doesn’t go the way of shoe removal aboard airplanes.   One idiot, one time lights up his shoe and the rest of us have to take ours off forever. I hope cooler heads prevail in Las Vegas, I really do. As for me, I have no intention of staying out of any concert arena any time soon. While I respect those who need to do that now, I will also be looking for their tickets starting with this Friday night to see Coldplay at the Rose Bowl. Hey I am doing them a favor. If anyone out there has good concert tickets that you are now too afraid to use, I am not, so call me. Simple as that. Someone needs to sit in those seats. I pass no judgment. I just rather live by the numbers than the news.

Right on the heels of the Sunday night’s massacre is a public death as far away from the Vegas one as one can get, but no less random. What do we say about musician Tom Petty’s sudden death at 66 years old? I liked a lot of his songs but I don’t consider myself a huge fan. His songs provided backdrop to my growing up at times with the hits on radio.   I have never seen him in concert. We have had our share of rock n roll deaths both decades ago with Jimi, Janis and Jim and in the past few years or so with the aging of our rock idols.   Tom has to be the most random of all. Doesn’t fit the drug overdose bill or the years of hard living resulting in liver failure or things like that. Even though heart disease can occur no matter what you look like, I think in our collective conscious we always think of the obese, hard drinking, bad eating, smoker as the poster child for a heart attack not a lean and still great looking for his age rock star.   If we take our view of death via massacre to be so remotely possible statistically because of the uniqueness then Petty’s death brings home the randomness and high probability of it in juxtapose. If it can happen to someone who does not fit the heart attack profile, well then is anyone safe? Of course not, but this simply underscores that leading a life in an overly fearful way, watching every thing you do and visiting the doctor more often than your relatives isn’t going to keep you alive forever either. This type of death is what leads to the million pithy platitudes posters to “just eat the cake” or “use the good silver everyday” or “dance like one is watching”.   Although my circle of friends has no problem with anyone seeing them dance, especially my friend Sandi and they do it regularly. That is much better way to go I think.

 

Death took a more personal turn on Monday. My 15 year old son’s best friend’s 48 years old step father died in his sleep. He and his sister had already lost their biological father years ago.   I went to the house as soon as I heard. I brought my son’s friend back home with me so they could spend time together and because no kid should have to witness the coroner at work. I hugged him and told him that I felt he would become an amazing adult because of his experience with loss and grief so young. I believe that. I believe to see death up close and personal at a young age defines your relationship with it. My mother took us to every funeral and wake she could when we were kids. Highlight of her social season we used to say. I credit her with my attitude and outlook on the subject as well as experiencing deaths of close relatives at a very young age. There is a patina I notice to people who have experienced it while young. It’s missing from those who haven’t. And that is as it should be. A cookie cutter world where all experience springs from the same well would be rather boring . I also told the young teen that I would like to tell him that what doesn’t kill him will make him stronger, but that’s nonsense I said, all it does is annoy you. He laughed, the best comfort I could give him I suspect.

The cause is not yet certain of this man’s death but the lifestyle is. I will leave it at that and not discuss too much further out of respect for the immediacy and the personal nature of this for my son. It brings to question our contribution to our demise. Does the level of control one can exert over the state of one’s health guarantee longevity? Or must it be done simply because there is no concrete way of knowing the impact of taking care of one’s body or not taking care of one’s body. Are we simply just hedging the bet here? And if we know there is no way to know, then we should take care of our bodies and minds simply because of the rewards that it gives us in living, not because it will prevent our demise or control when it occurs. It won’t. Nor will trying to apply logical reactions to the illogical actions of massacres or murders or mayhem prevent them.   Sometimes we just must leave reasons out of things. Sometimes we must just put our faith in the numbers instead; faith that there is no reason for things like massacres and murders and mayhem and faith that the statistics show the improbability of it happening to you. A songwriter friend of mine once wrote in his song Another Man’s War, “I get tired of looking for reasons. Reasons faith will never find”.  So go about your life in the best way possible for you because Death does not become you until Death becomes you.

Musical Meandering & Musings …

Tags

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

PRESCRIPT: I seem to spend a lot of time trying to remember who I saw what concert with all those decades ago. This little piece is simply so in 2037 I don’t have to keep asking random people if they were there with me when we go again. And as life will have it, there may be even less to ask come then, so a memory snapshot of a great musical week is in order, I think.

Most moms spend the morning shopping at the grocery store. Me, I prefer to do my shopping on ITUNES or Ticketmaster. A great magical, musical weekend often results in finding new old music or old new music, just depends on where the old memory falls at any given time. Saturday night began as most weekends don’t with a Dine and Ride trip to the Dresden Restaurant and Lounge in Los Feliz and the Greek Theater to see Peter Townsend do Quadrophenia with a full on symphony orchestra. He had a little bit of singing help from Billy Idol and Alfie Boe of Les Miserables fame in theater productions in both London’s West End and New York’s Broadway. My concert peeps this trip were my friends Sandi, Lorna and a guest appearance by April from San Diego.

Dine and Ride is an awesome discovery I made when I saw Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds at the Greek a few months ago. I hadn’t been to the Greek in decades because one time taking three hours to find my car in some dirt patch and then trying to get out of the dirt patch was enough for me.   For a princely sum, you can choose to eat in one of four restaurants nearby and leave your car at their valet. They then take you by van to the front of the Greek and pick you up when the concert is over. Just like those senior communities where they drive you to the drug store and the bank. Am pretty sure when my friends and I select a retirement home, it’s going to have to have concert and theater bus service. The Dresden we saved for this trip.  The white leather banquets were so comfortable and Disney Princess pretty. They looked exactly like the new headboard I was trying to find. The food was great, even if the staff was the original one from when they opened decades ago.

Now for the music. Quadrophenia is not my favorite Who album. I am way more a Who’s Next kind of gal but Q does contain one of my all time favorite Who numbers.    I didn’t know how I would like a symphony doing anything, let alone Who songs. Just never had much interest in it cause in the old days all they did was like Beethoven and stuff right? I have to admit, this was pretty awesome. Les Miserables is my all time favorite play. Alfie Boe is one of the iconic Jean Val Jeans. Billy Idol just took me back to the disco days of the 80s.  Love Reign O Me, in my not so humble musical opinion, is one of the best Who or anyone else songs ever. I love the anthems and this has certainly reached epic anthem proportion. Sandi and I both agreed, though, a rock anthem needs an anthem rock voice and Roger’s heights of musical passion were missing. We know that because we saw him do it the year before at the Staples Center Who concert. It was an astounding performance.   A Broadway voice and a rock voice are simply not interchangeable but it was a great musical night nonetheless.

We ended the concert on a much longer line to get the Dine and Ride van back to our car at the Dresden than we did when I went to see Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds a few months before. This is a clear indication of the socio-economic make up of the concert audience. Way more Who fans can afford the big Dine and Ride bucks than Nick Cave fans who were much younger and hence less disposably incomed, I imagine. Pay attention all you youngsters: get a good education and a good job so you can retire and attend great concerts in great comfort in your golden years. At the Cave concert with like four of us getting into the van, I just hopped right into the front seat. I have trapaphobia, which makes it impossible for me to sit in the back seat of most vehicles amongst other peculiar manifestations of the condition. By the time our turn at the van came, this man had settled himself in the front seat with the driver. Sandi, seeing me blanch, took it upon herself to move him before I could say a word. I watched her march right up to him and ask him to please move to the back as I had carsickness. That’s right, she managed to convince him to move or I puke all over the damn place. I didn’t bother to inform her that trapaphobia didn’t include that particular symptom.   This guy must have thought I was a five year old. As long as this poor man squeezed himself into the rear of the van pressed against the door and I had the front seat, I was just fine with her tactics. All in all, it was a beautifully musically perfect evening.

Sunday night we waltzed again with the Band, courtesy of Mr. Andy Hill, Ms. Renee Safier and the rest of their band, Hard Rain.  Joining them were some favorite musical guests:  Jamie Daniels aka Dylan Boy, that extraordinary keyboard player and Eric Burdon’s newest Animal, Davey Allen, and the always charming and ultra cool Dave Crossland to name but a few.   These musical folks are the best kept secret from any greedy, money grubbing, music killing, corporate crooked recording company there is in Los Angeles. At the wonderful Grand Annex Theater in San Pedro for the price of about an eighth of the cost of Pete’s ticket, we were treated to such a magical night of music from that great Winterland concert in San Francisco back on Thanksgiving 1976.  I saw the Band that year when I was 19 years old at the Westchester Premier Theater in New York. Legend has it now it was Mafia owned and people had to play there which explains all the great acts we saw in this little theater. These acts were also playing Madison Square Garden at the time.  Crime does pay sometimes.   The new old musical find this time is an over 50 year old Canadian standard done by Neil Young at the Last Waltz. It was written by Canadian Ian Tyson while hanging in the Village in the early 60s with Bob Dylan. It’s called Four Strong Winds, one of the most beautifully simple songs I have ever heard. That alone was worth the price of this admission.  A porch hang at my house for ice cream and beer at midnight with musicians Andy, Jamie, Davey, and gal pals April and Lorna capped off a great evening.

For most people you would think that would be enough, but not this gal. Monday night was Eric Clapton’s last night at the Forum and rumor had it perhaps his last night playing live anywhere. My friend Robin had a ticket for me the previous Wednesday that I passed on due to fiscal and parental prudence and the fact the seats were in the upper section. I don’t sit in the upper section anymore. Makes no sense if I am going to see an act for the second time in damn near 40 years. I might as well sit in a good seat. So I passed on Eric on Wednesday, but by the following Monday that was but a distant memory. It’s ERIC that little concert ticket crack dealer voice in my head kept saying. It’s ERIC for Heaven’s sake. You know, the member of that little band Cream that you have adored since you were 10 years old. The band whose album Disraeli Gears you melted in the hot Bronx sun when you and your best friend Patty played it over in over on a portable record player in her backyard in the summer of 68. And boy were we afraid cause it was her big sister’s album. Eric of Bell Bottom Blues and White Room and Layla fame. OK, OK well maybe we can just take a quick peek at available tickets. Doubt there’s anything good left. But who will you go with, me asked me. By yourself me answered me. Really? Yes. The Forum is only up the street. You need to do something in your new singleness by yourself. OK. As my ticket mistress luck would have it, I find a great ticket side of the stage, next to the last seat on the aisle. Do it, the voice says, just do it. And so I did with a lift there from my son and a lift home from a former PTA mom friend who lived nearby who I happened to find out was going.   Glad I did. Always listen to those voices in your head. They aren’t all crazy really. Well unless you are Son of Sam. Then don’t listen. I digress.

The sound at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood is spectacular. Better than any arena I have been in. So much better than the downtown Los Angeles Staple Center. The seats were great. Last row against the wall, so standing, bopping and swaying to the music without annoying the people glued in their seats easily happened. The opening band, which I rarely like, was amazing. Gary Clark Jr. did a blistering version of Come Together.   Eric was just Eric and didn’t disappoint at all. The opening chords to White Room still are the best ever and took me back decades to summer in the Bronx in the 60s! We didn’t get Sunshine or Badge or Bell Bottom Blues but we got other stuff. This entire glued to their seats audience finally got up with the opening notes of Cocaine. Not even going to speculate on that one. Eric was in great voice. His keyboard player Chris Stainton in particular, was just off the hook on that instrument.   Wonderful band, wonderful vocals and just wonderful that night! I missed my concert peeps of course, but I kind of liked my solo concert going debut too.

 

 

A Tree Trims in Torrance

Tags

, , , , ,

All I wanted was someone to trim my lemon and orange trees so my backyard doesn’t look like a jungle anymore. It should have been simple. I had already pissed off two nice Mexican gentlemen trimmers a few weeks before, one because he wanted like a thousand dollars and the second because I wanted him to come see the trees as soon as he hung up the phone with me. I ran out of those little business cards that only tree trimmers seam to leave on your doorstep and had to figure out a different way to find one.   A friend of mine told me about NextDoor, this new neighborhood kind of website where all sorts of things are recommended and advertised and they also let you know of every little crime that is committed so you can be even more scared. I happened to mention to the nice Yelp man who called me yesterday to sell me more junk advertising that NextDoor was going to put their sorry ass out of business and I hope soon. He had no clue what it was as he was just trying to convince me that ‘pay per click’ advertising was wonderful. No, I told him, what am I an idiot? Yelp is going to charge me a buck for every time someone clicks on my business page- not buys, not messages, not even tries to hack into it- but just for clicking on it. Then Yelp will go give some random guy in Lower Slobovia, an IPAD, some WIFI and a nickel a clickel and make 95 cents for each click all day long. Who are the people who actually pay for this? Nope, I told him, come back when you guys come up with a better idea to get money from me. Meantime, we better use NextDoor until Yelp comes along and buys it up and then we are back to capitalistic square one. But I digress.

So off to NextDoor I go last week to look for a tree trimmer and the best part about it there was only one listing- J something or other. So I call and he and his friend show up like immediately. They are rubbing their young, little millennium cheeks trying to figure out a price that won’t sound ridiculous. A hundred dollars they say. For both of you and for both trees, I ask. They see my jaw drop and try to cover with, “Well that’s our NextDoor price of course, if you were on Craigslist we would charge more”. Hmmm, interesting but I couldn’t, I just couldn’t. We weren’t really talking trimming here. Both my trees were hugely overgrown. More like major surgery. Tell you what, I say, I’ll give you a hundred and fifty if you both show up. So we make a plan that Friday morning at 7:30 they would show. When J called on Thursday morning to tell me they couldn’t make it that day, I showed the proper level of disappointment rather than snickering at their less than fully formed millennial brains. OK, how about Friday morning, I say. Great! We’re both available. Me too, I yell! What a wonderful coincidence.

I set my alarm for 7am. I get a call at 7:30am. I am going to be late, he tells me; I have to go get my tools. Hmm. I’ll be there at 8:30 he says. Not bad, I think, it gets me a little more sleep. Fully clothed and fully coffeed, but that’s OK, I’ll make it work. At about 8:45, organizational wizard boy strolls in by himself.   You are pretty damn late, I state as in the obvious.   If you expect to work in the real world you need to show up on time. I heard through the grapevine that they frown upon lateness in the real business world. If you want to be late for work for your entire life, then do what I did and work for the Federal Government. Just looking out for you, J. Where’s your friend, I ask. He couldn’t make it. He couldn’t make a job that he bid on two days ago? I don’t even want to know. Ok, I say, but then you are getting a hundred bucks and that’s it. He starts to whine, literally on the verge of tearful whining. You promised me $150! And you promised me two of you. Take it or leave it. Then just short of tears, he says, Ok, I’m sorry I just had such a bad night. Really? It’s life, Skippy. Suck it up. There’s going to be a lot more of them, trust me, and now trim the damn trees. He starts to apologize and apologize and apologize for being upset. Ok I see tough love isn’t going to work on this tree trimmer. What happened, I ask. Me and my girlfriend got into a big fight because I got drunk again and was talking to another girl. Well I certainly hope you shared some of that alcohol with the girl you were talking to, cause I’m at it for five minutes with you and I want to either open a Budweiser or a vein. How old are you? Twenty-seven, he says. Look, I tell him, you got two choices here, you can either figure out you’re an alcoholic now and stop drinking and save yourself the liver damage or you can get it under control and drink only to have fun on the weekends with your friends in moderation. Only two things in the world you can do with alcohol, my friend. He thanked me for saving him the other 11 steps.   How old is your girlfriend, I ask. Forty, he says. FORTY, FORTY are you kidding me? You are 27 years old, get rid of her. Don’t you want kids eventually and a life? Yeah, but I love her he tells me and she is starting to think she is getting too old for kids. At that point I could have taken him inside and showed him two kids whose mother was 40 and above when they were born, but why encourage him. You need to focus on your career and my tree trimming right now. You have plenty of time to settle down etc. Go out and have fun. But that’s how I got into a fight with her he tells me. Not the falling down drunk and puking kind of fun, I say. Mix it up a little. Go to a movie.

He says yeah I know I have to figure out my career, the EMT work (paramedic for the acronym-phobic among us) doesn’t pay much. Imagine now the biggest light bulb on top of someone’s head and that is what was above me. WHAT, I SAY! You are an EMT? I couldn’t find a damn EMT for one of my youth football fields last weekend. Can you work on Saturdays? Yeah, he says and so I drag him to my office, I email the companies we are working with this year with his information. He got a new job and my trees got trimmed and all this before 10am.

To E & K…

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

Before I had my sons, I had six or more miscarriages in half the amount of years. I travelled a lot for work back then. I spent a lot of time observing babies on planes. They were a source of pain and wonder back then. At times I would look at them and the high tide of hope would have me think, “I wonder when, not if, I will be a mother”. Then the times when hope would go crashing out against the horizon, the thought “I will never be a mother” was enough to require the oxygen mask to drop before me and restore my breath. Today, I see a crying baby on a plane and I just want to put it in the overhead compartment and go back to the 43 channels of inflight entertainment I don’t watch. Had I known that those babies turned into TEEENAGERS, I could have saved myself some angst. Never tell your children they are miracle babies, they grow up believing it and one doesn’t need that even if it’s true. Disclaimer- I love my sons like crazy but I digress.

I find myself as I embark on singlehoodness again for the second time in my life, doing the same observation but of couples this time. I watch now in partnerless rather than childless wonder. I had an opportunity to observe the other evening at a concert we were at. Lost in reverie, I took notes as if I could prepare the menu for a next life partner. I will leave the names out. First, because the literary advice I received tells me I should and second, it gives me plausible denial should any of them be irked by my thoughts. What are the ingredients I thought, what makes it work for some and not for others? I watched a woman dancing with a man that I thought was her husband only to find he wasn’t. A case of mistaken identity by me, nothing sinister, but what a great time those two had dancing. Is that the trick then, to find someone with so much in common and sensibilities to match that instantaneous happiness prevails? Another couple I know and admire was there on a rare occasion together at this musical event, the reason none other than each has their own preference of social events. They navigate this well and for this dancing queen, the husband never fails to get up at the end of the evening to share a few last dances with her. This touches me every time. Is this what it takes, considerate compromises? For one of my favorite couples, distance makes the heart grow fonder for sure, as they actually live in different states.   Could separate dwellings be the key? Perhaps it’s just a lit bit of everything.

The odds are just as stacked against me as before, if not even more. When one leaves a marriage in their 20s or 30s, it is likely you will marry again. Whether it is happily ever after or sadly for a few, the odds are clearly in your favor either way. They were for me and it lasted a good many years.   But at 60 the reality is quite different. The odds are clearly stacked against the girls. We live longer and so the ratio is in not in our favor. But we each make the choice that best fits at the best time. We can do nothing more or nothing less.

The couple that for me was love at its best and simplest is no longer a couple now. She is a widow. He passed a few weeks ago. I am honored to be going to the memorial this weekend. I never get invited to those out here. I just don’t know enough people dying. It comes from not living as an adult in the same place you grew up. My sisters back East get to attend a lot more of them, weddings too.

They sat at their own little table at every gig of our mutual musical friends. I didn’t get to know them well unfortunately, but every time I saw them, my heart tugged a bit.   They emanated pure love for each other and the music I thought. They sat together, ate together, left together. Didn’t have a need to flit about the room as some do.   I cannot describe this aura around them well, but I saw it often.   The last few times I saw him he had oxygen with him, yet their ritual, their sharing of their love for the music, each other and the time spent together in music prevailed no matter what the physical dictated. To this observer it was the loveliest description of a marriage I ever saw. I believe I even may have the dubious distinction of being the last one shushed by him at a gig we were at for talking too loudly. If so, I am honored. May you rest in peace, dear man, a life lived in love and music is the most wondrous life lived of all.

25

Tags

, ,

I’m not putting this on Facebook . Well it will end up there cause it’s the only place my internet writing can be shared. But that doesn’t matter cause it will still only be read by the few and fiercely loyal. I appreciate them and love them. Tomorrow AJ will turn 25. No, I cannot say would have. It doesn’t resonate nor feel right. There is something about this number. I can’t put my finger on it yet and hope I can by the last sentence.   Tears just keep flowing and so the words must as well. It should be over. That is the phrase that runs through my brain in a loop of not understanding. He is 25 now. He is no longer a child or an adolescent or a young adult. It is the age of male mental maturation. This I have been told by a few experts recently when so ready to pull my own hair out over the teenage/young adult angst and antics of my two sons ages 15 and 20. The magical number I am told. Just wait, boys brains are not fully matured until then. You will see such a difference. The magical male mental maturation age. Not fully understood by us females who are pretty done with our own mental maturation at 15 actually, give or take a year or two but no more.

And so it only feels right that his death should be ended as well. Time’s up. Time’s up for the pain and anguish his family and friends and I feel. Time’s up for the stoic and incredible strength and bravery and courage endured and displayed by his mother and father and sister. Time’s up. It should be.   Full blown adulthood begins. That should be enough to end it. But it can’t and it won’t and all the magical thinking in the world won’t change that. It doesn’t get better. It gets different. There are wounds that time will never heal. This is surely one of them.   I believe in the afterlife. I do. My computer geek of a boy has sent me a few signs along his journey in that afterlife. I believe it. I received one today. I won’t share it. Only with his mother. I believe he has reached his angel status in the afterlife now. Perhaps the equivalent of adult status in the here and now. It’s a nice thought and one I shall keep. That’s the beauty sometimes of things that require a leap of faith and not logic and facts. It comforts me to believe he is now a guardian. The two boys he grew up with need one more than ever right now. And so do I. Happy Angel Day, AJ!

 

Pride Goeth Before Falls…Or After In My Case

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

Prescript: Simply indulgent to keep me from going stir crazy while my ankle heals.

I am not sure how many people actually are the proud owners of their own set of crutches. I wonder even more so if they do own a set are they as worn out as mine? I have packing tape holding one of the rubber handles securely in place and the top rubber piece that goes under the arm flies off every two minutes. Bending over to put your crutches back together is not necessarily the best activity when one is on the damn things to begin with.   I have never broken a bone in my 60 years of pratfalls and pitfalls- knocking on every wood surface here. Spraining is my specialty. I seem to have acquired quite a knack for tripping and falling through my life. And let me just say that the drinking always occurred after the falls not before.

It started when I was 12 and slipped on the ice a few blocks away from school. I managed not only to pull the ligaments in my knee but also tear a 4-inch gap in my ring finger by grabbing on to the spikes of a cyclone fence on my way down. The bitter winter Bronx cold acted as an anesthetic and so I never noticed the trail of blood until the horrified teacher mentioned it as I was on my way to my desk. Interesting that it never hurt until she pointed it out and then my brain agreed and I damn need swooned waiting for my mother. This singular act I totally attribute to the fact that I have an irrational fear of anything that allows me to slide or glide. I never roller-skated or ice-skated or skied or slid down anything ever. And that includes a highly polished wooden floor in my socks too. The fear of sliding installed by the ice on Van Nest Avenue that day in the Bronx has stayed with me a lifetime.

Not long after in the summer of 1973, I managed to sprain my toe very badly falling into a hole in the ocean at Orchard Beach in the Bronx. You would think that would be a difficult thing to accomplish in water where you can actually float and sand is pretty soft in like two feet of water. But no, I managed to smash my toe just walking along in the water minding my own business. The damage was such that I had to be transported on the back of a golf cart used by the security people at the beach in those days. I believe that is where I first learned the parade wave.

Falling was not only a domestic event; I even took it international one year. It was 1982, I had just arrived that day in my hometown in the Dolomite chain of the Italian Alps. It was about 9pm and I went to say hello to my godchild and his cousin parents of mine. These buildings are old with concrete cobblestones making up the foyer area in a cave like setting before you enter the home. Well down I went like the proverbial ton of bricks as I knocked on the door.   No matter though, I visited with a few shots of something to drink for the pain. Wine and Jagermeister my poison of choice back then. Look at that, no pain!! Great! Should we go dancing cousins and friends asked next? Of course I can dance on this foot no problem and so we went for several hours. The next morning, my foot reminded me of the fall courtesy of an ankle the size of a bowling ball. I was staying at our ancestral home with my Mom and Dad who had to whisk me to the Italian emergency room. Now this is medicine as it should be practiced. No waiting for hours. My ankle was so badly sprained that they decided to put me in a cast. It is Italy folks, if anyone can do wonders with cement, we can.   They built this cast that looked exactly like a shoe with a heel and everything and just my toes open at the top. It went midway up my calf. They said after two days of complete drying I could then walk on it. It was amazing to be able to walk around normally on a cast built with a full platform.   I spent the next three weeks going about my fun Italy vacation business until it was time to go home. Apparently the cast had to come with me. I could not extend my stay for another week or so until it was time for it to come off, nor could they take it off earlier.   Home I went, cast and all only to hit the solid brick bureaucratic wall of medicine in the US. Apparently since the cast was not put on by any American doctor, there was no American doctor who would take the perceived liability to remove it. Not my own personal doctor, not an emergency room, not even the shyster clinics that sprout up in the poorest of neighborhoods.   No matter how I pleaded and promised that the day was at hand that the Italian doctors wanted it off, they would not do it. What now? A bathtub full of water and a bread knife, that’s what. After about five hours of cutting and soaking, my then husband and I got the damn thing off. Medical mission accomplished.

I managed to stay fairly upright for the next decade, which was my 30s. Even my 40s only contained one major mishap in the jet way at O’Hare Airport in Chicago. In my rush to make my connecting flight back to Los Angeles, I went flying literally up the jet way only to have my foot catch on the metal bar that connected two pieces of the floor. With paperwork that poured out of my briefcase scattered about me, I laid there until a wheelchair could scoop me up and take me away. I was adamant I was not going to any emergency room. I know a sprained ankle when I see one, damn it. Just get me on the next flight home and so they did after an hour or so of me being wheeled in and out of the airport with an ankle twice the size of what it should be. I smoked back then and so the main task of the nice attendant they assigned to me was to wheel me in and out of the building for a cigarette. Nicotine fits are not pretty. She knew this. My son was three at the time and for this one I rented a wheelchair at home and if not mistaken it was the fall that got me my very own pair of crutches.

My not so graceful falls took the form of trilogies in my 50s though. Yes these were the years when I managed to fall the same way or during the same event three times in a row! The first group was the Paradise Point Panther football weekend trips- literally. Every December my sons’ football teams from Torrance would take up residence at Paradise Point in San Diego in December for our annual bowl games. It was a blast from Friday to Sunday for kids and parents alike. We did this from 2009 to 2015. One of those years, I took my injury with me rather than acquire it there, as the two subsequent ones would be. I slipped down the step of my shower the day before we were to leave for the event and went with a sprained knee this time. I ‘ll leave out the details on this one for obvious reasons and not horrify anyone. So for this one I spent the weekend there already on the crutches. When we stayed at Paradise Point we had the bungalows on the bay with the beach right out our door but first there was grassy areas and a concrete sidewalk before the sand began. We spent a lot of fun nights out on the beach with bonfires and BBQs and kids playing football. The next year, I managed to miss the fact that the sand ended in a spot and so rather than lift my foot onto the cement sidewalk; I just slammed into it with my toe and went sprawling. There goes the knees and ankle I believe that year. Good thing we had burly big football coaches and parents to help me up, as I weighed about 60 pounds more than I do today. A year I believe later, I managed to hit that very same spot again and fall the exact same way. I don’t even know what to say about that one. All I know is I was there hobbling for so many of these events, one particular Dad named me Tiny Tim from then on.

Those were the early years of my fifth decade.   For the latter years, I managed to replicate the time of the year and event rather than the actual place of the fall. First came the time I was at a house concert in Monrovia where they had this nice flagstone patio that sort of didn’t really tell you that it stepped down. It was like a damn optical illusion. A few people I saw throughout the day do the little stumble step where you almost but then don’t really fall. I myself fell for it a few times that afternoon until the last time when I just said the hell with it, why stumble falsely when I could go down for real and so I did. I watched the concert with an ankle and two badly bruised knees. The show must go on after all. Out came those crutches again. The following year in August on the day that I was at a high school doing the usual Pop Warner football weighing of the players to certify them to play that season, I walked across the track on a huge area of sand that was covered with pieces of track held together with metal strips. Almost like a pool cover. But of course my feet see a metal strip and my mind immediately says DO NOT LIFT YOUR FOOT, just plow right into it with your toes. And so I did and up I came with two huge knees. They were still not healed from the concert fall and this did some major damage. I stayed and finished my certification with ice and all. The following August on the morning of the day I was supposed to go to the high school to do the same task, I was out on my daily walk. There was nothing wrong with the sidewalk. There was no metal bars or uneven surfaces. It was simply the sidewalk near the 7-11. I felt a strange push from the back and turned to see but nothing was there and down I went again. My knees smashed concrete with a slight back twist as I was turning when I toppled. Off I went with my bruised knees and some ice to do that day’s weighs of the football players. So ended the fifth decade of falls and what I hoped would be the end please. But I guess not.

Yesterday in San Diego- what is it about that city that immediately makes me want to fall down- I was having a perfectly lovely time watching a band play outdoors in the grass near a hole I saw the entire day as I was sitting there. But of course, the minute I get up to walk, the hole mysteriously disappears until my foot is in it sideways and my ankle goes again. I am happy though it was not my knees yesterday, as they have never recovered from those years of bruising. I have lost the ability to kneel altogether for any length of time. My sister, not so astutely pointed out, what’s the difference, it’s not like your spending a lot of time in church. Well, I’ll leave that one alone. So I sit here now with an ankle aced bandaged and softly splinted and hope against hope I can learn to walk properly by the time I am 70.

 

 

 

 

Balm Desert

Tags

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

Can we go to Palms Springs for Memorial Day, my 15 year old younger son asked a few weeks ago? I truly did not know the answer to that question. Frankly it frightened me. We had not gone for two years now. Not since his father’s 65th birthday.   It marked both a milestone and an end to the one place we pretended to be an actual family for years. Or at least I did. Why now I wondered, did my son want to go again when he knew his father would not accompany us? He knows that even though his father still resides with us, the documents to end his parents as a unit are freshly filed. I wondered how it would be emotionally for him to go. At first I myself surely didn’t want to have to face those ghosts so early in their demise. But then I thought, why not? Why not go differently. Did my son need some revisiting of the place in a different way perhaps? Did he need the balm this childhood memory would provide to his unsure and unsteady heart these days? And so we went. We took his Uncle, who had accompanied us all those times for all those years. That part must remain in tact for my sons. He was a surrogate father through the worst of medical times, grandfather, friend and uncle all rolled into one in the best of times. They cherish him.

Can I bring a friend he said? I thought of the times when that was asked a few years ago and how my stock answer was always no. There were precious few moments of forging a bond as a family in the lives of these children that I never wanted any straying from that singular moment when it baked well for us in the desert. This time it was different and only right that he bring a friend at the age when a boy or girl’s friends matter the most.   I think on those days as the connections I make and break occur so frequently these days. I think on the days when your friends meant the world to you and your world did revolve around them. The days before boyfriends and wives and kids and chaos interjected. And so of course I said yes. His selection of who to bring took longer than it should have I thought. My younger son has many, many friends but I wonder at his ability to truly keep them sometimes. I wonder if the years spent watching me in silent unknowing rage, which severed most connections outside the immediate and necessary familial ones will harm his attachments as he grows into adulthood. An incident with a little girl in middle school a few years ago brought home to me my own struggles in this area. It was discovered she was taking her own money and some of her father’s as well and bringing it to school and bestowing it on all the boys and girls she wanted to be her friend. My son apparently was at the top of the monetary list. I was horrified and more than I should be because it was like looking into a long ago mirror of me. I explained to my son how wrong this was to give people money to be your friend or lover or wife or husband or anything else. He said, why? It works. I am her best friend now. No you most certainly aren’t. Although we did tease my son’s friend who got like ten bucks mercilessly about how he needs to up his game I called the parents to return the money and asked if I could speak to their daughter privately. And they agreed and I did. I hope I did some good. Not sure I will ever know but I needed to tell her and consequently my very young self some things. I was that little girl many years ago and I wonder if sometimes I still am given the wrong set of circumstances. I had a best friend growing up since I was 4 years old on the block. When I was 9 and she was 10, a new girl moved on the block and as girls often do with their need for paring up rather than group sport like boys, they became instant friends to the exclusion of yours truly. It was 1966 and the Monkees were all the rage and was our favorite group after the Beatles of course, and the Dave Clark 5 and Herman’s Hermits and, and. Multiple digressions!! I like it. Back to the story. I had my mother take me to the Catholic Rosary bead and mass card store and buy the brand new Monkees album. I then came home and put the album cover right in the front window of my room which faced the street. This way my best friend could see what I had and would instantly like me better than the new girl who was sans the new Monkee album. Did it work? Who knows? We all did become good friends again and my friend and I are still friends today although on separate coasts. The new girl? Not a clue really where she is. I don’t think I ever told anyone this story until last year. My friend said why don’t you write about that instead of just crazy concert capers? Because I prefer not to open a vein every time I put pen to paper, I answered. So there it is and sometimes I still ask myself in a situation if I am putting a Monkee album in the window on this one.

My older son now 20, chose not to come with us for the very reason that his friendships run much smaller and deeper than either I or his brother are capable of. A best friend since childhood was returning from school in Oregon to celebrate his 21st birthday and so it was fitting that he not come to Palm Desert with us, although I appreciated the fact he considered it at all.

I drove the new car I did not need or want at this moment in time but circumstances made it necessary to take. I called our Mr. Nello, the wonderful golf pro I discovered years ago along with the awesome British lady who we rented homes from when we went. The first time we rented a house from Mr. Nello, the winds blew lots of palms and pods into the pool. I went looking for a non-existent skimmer that Mr. Nello swore was there. I looked up the closest pool supply store and bought him one, compliments of his new tenants. Ever since that day, we get terrific rental deals. Kindness born of necessity sometimes reaps its own rewards. Kindness born with no thought to rewards reaps the best rewards of all.

This place he gave us at the last minute was a wonderful condo on a beautiful golf course. We were used to having houses to ourselves so this was a departure first looked upon with suspicion by my son as a private pool is what they liked when it became obvious years ago that renting a house was cheaper than several hotel rooms and much more efficient.   I made it a short visit this time, Saturday to Monday since when one visits ghosts you never know how welcoming they will be. No roomy ride in their father’s van this time, where I was always able to walk around in it if needed to attend my little boys on long trips. No Moe Moe our dog along. No arguing over the way to go or disagreements over things of little or massive importance. I continued to look around the halls of my sons’ most precious memories. The year we stayed in our first non-hotel condo at Desert Princess in Cathedral City before we met the British lady (who none of us can remember her name at the moment) or Mr. Nello. The ducks that constantly pooped in the pool and walked up to greet us each morning.   Then the houses and the fireworks. There were years we spent every summer holiday there beginning with the birthday of their father at Memorial Day and ending with the birthday of their Uncle on Labor Day with 4th of July thrown in for good measure and company for several years. The Palm Springs zoo when very young. The arcades when older. The dinners, the midnight swims, the laughter, the water footballs bought each year for running and catching in the pool. They all floated past for two days at random times like a marquee announcing the passage of our family’s days in the desert and anywhere else.   The houses we liked best and the pools we liked worst; we were fortunate to have many of the former and only one or two of the latter. My sons being thrown up in the air by their uncle or father. Me holding them before me as they floated or their tiny arms wrapped around my neck as I floated with them. I cannot in good conscience and reporting say they made me sad, a little wistful perhaps but not sad at all. These were great memories for our kids. This is where we were able to put aside the silence and the fits of anger that sometimes broke that silence. It was a welcome respite for our family during their years of growing up. It enabled us to give them brief bouts of normalcy and love and fun that most children get on a more frequent basis when their parents are united properly. So I do not regret those memories. On the contrary. They give me hope that more but different ones can still be made within the context of the new parental framework that we are struggling to build right now. I say often that my younger son is the one that often leads the way for me and not vice versa. I think the desert balm he sought this weekend was just what we needed actually.

 

WHO LUVS YA..revisited

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

PRE-SCRIPT: A year ago tonight we were at the Staples Center seeing the Who, me for the first time in 40 years since Keith Moon’s last tour.  What a great concert they gave and what a fun night with my friends Sandi, Patty and Ron.  So I am repeating this blog. Don’t usually do that but such a fun time even getting to the concert.  The Who will be playing Caesar’s Palace in August. It’s all I can do to keep from buying those tickets… stayed tuned.

My reasons for going to see the Who last night and going to see Bob next month are as different as the music itself. I saw the Who in 76 the last tour by Keith before he died. I thought about it a bit last month. In chance conversation, a friend asked do you really want to see them now? You can only be disappointed. I agreed. I think. Then it starts like an itch as most good things do. A tiny, shiny thought in the corner of the eye. You try your best to ignore it but you also know it won’t go away. The Who are playing this Wednesday aren’t they? I think of Tracker Russell telling me what an amazing show he saw last month in New York. What does he know? The last time I saw the Who, as I like to remind him, I would have taken you to the show but you were too busy being born.

A Sunday night Anaheim concert Facebook video and post by Chase, Andy’s son, of the iconic Daltry Won’t Get Fooled Again scream with the the caption, “Remember Roger Daltry’s 71” irritated that itch. This kind of musical endorsement from a 14 year old? Granted he’s got mad musical genes, but even that’s not enough to cause a teenager today to be blown away by one of the old guys! The itch spreads a bit. I talked to Andy on Monday and texted Tracker Dave too. Yeah, the show was phenomenal. Well that’s a unanimous great musical taste poll if ever there was one.

The itch now has to go. I got tickets for Bruce Saturday night on that Saturday morning. I have two days this time. How hard could it be to find people and tickets and not the damn Staples nose bleed seats either. But who?? I tend to like to select my concert mates from two categories. I like to use fanships rather than friendships but virgins are always the most fun. Some can be huge fans that have never been; too young maybe or they don’t need to be fans at all but have just enough curiosity that you know you can introduce them to something memorable.

A chance encounter on another topic with the musically magnificent Sandi Behar and I say, the Who? Wednesday night? You in? Of course she says. I start with my security buddy DF. His allowed ticket purchase gone but that man comes through again with t shirts and his crew badge for me at the end of the night, now sitting proudly next to my Bruce backstage crew badge. A few known corporate Skybox holders, too late or no answer.

And so I turn to the place I know best and most people like the least: Craigslist. Bingo. Four tickets in the loge for $95 bucks. Doesn’t make sense scalpers are getting a couple of hundred. I text, he answers. Are they hard tickets, will you sell only two? Yes and yes and a trip to Santa Monica Monday night. Sorry Bernie but Who tickets trumps a presidential candidate rally. Sandi and I agree if I don’t get killed or sold into white slavery we are on for Wednesday. Although I know she is thinking that if I did get sold into white slavery, they would give me back pretty quickly.

I honestly don’t get it. I have been using CL for years, to buy to sell etc. It is a great system. I hate the bad rap it’s gotten because people don’t take the right precautions and because you hear of the one or two really bad things happening amongst the 90 bazillion good transactions. It’s like saying you will never walk in the rain again ever because one guy one day got hit by lightening. Ok there’s my one digression.

I get these tickets from a 20 something kid who looks so much like the son of the big burly guy I got the Bruce tickets from it’s scary. He was adorable. Had me go to his house, I wait outside. (There’s a CL lesson for you right there). He tells me he wasn’t sure about going at all. He’s never seen them but he feels he really better cause you never know. He says they aren’t calling it a retirement tour or anything, but look what happened to the Eagles. Good point kid! As I leave I check the tickets for face value, I paid $90 but they are complimentary tickets free that say $1 Teen Cancer America. I don’t understand. What the hell? Did he just sell us like “Make a Wish Tickets” or something? Ok we’ll go anyway- I’m not giving up that seat in hell anytime soon apparently. I’m sure the money will go to a good cause and he’s not just some kid with cancer whose real wish is a pile of money and not a performance of Pinball Wizard. And just in case they are bogus as hell, Sandi’s Boy lawyer am sure can rescue us. The story could end there. Me and Sandi could go to the concert have an amazing time and this blog would end. But no, there was more itch left to scratch. Two tickets to the Who left over? Surely I can find more people who have to go. I send my go to partner in last minute crime Patty a message. Do you want to see the Who Wednesday night? YESSSSS! She has seen them before and is a fan. Then a random text from that friend who said maybe I shouldn’t go again asking me how the show was that night. I didn’t go yet I say the show is Wednesday night. O I am so envious of your ticket he says now (big light bulb over his head). It’s the WHO!! Have you ever seen them, I ask? He’s 40 something and a fan. No he says. Well if you give me $90 bucks you can on Wednesday and so we have our WHO concert virgin. I call Teddy Bear Carlos the next morning to get the last two tickets. He’s very happy. I ask him again how do you have these. They are industry tickets don’t worry about it. Just have fun! Works for me.

Wednesday comes and we meet at LA Live for dinner. Sandi finds a 16 year old boy next to us celebrating his birthday with his Dad waiting to go to the concert as well. She gives him a big birthday hug (I have no idea why- he’s a perfect stranger) and the next thing we know we are all eating Truffle fries out of the Dad’s dish. A starchy mess I often don’t see but very good. We leave Ron at the table for a few minutes while we girls use the powder room only to find him staring like a deer in the headlights at some lovely but random stranger girl talking to him in earnest. Great, I think he needs to meet a nice girl and go on a date. Well apparently the date was with Jesus and she was there to tell him Jesus highlighted him or something to her. Those yellow markers sure come in handy for all sorts of things huh. I imagine it’s easy to be highlighted though when you have hair like 1982 Blackie Lawless. Patty and I at least were well behaved during dinner.

We sit through the annoying opening band. That is really no reflection on the talent of the act itself at all. I just HATE opening bands at concerts. No matter how good they are I am irritated that the main act hasn’t started yet. It’s a time efficiency thing with me.

Finally! The setlist was great. Pictures of Lily is a song I probably haven’t even thought about in decades but have always loved. Suffice it to say they played all my favorites which was pretty much the entire setlist. “ O that’s my favorite Who song”! I must have said like all night long. But Baba and Blue Eyes and Reign still remain the top three .

Were they different than 40 years ago? Well unless I was transported to the concert by Dr. Who himself how could they NOT be? Do they sing the songs slower now, yes of course. Is that age or no more speed? We’ll never know will we. Am I talking about them or the audience? You’ll never know will you. But here’s the thing. Do we really want to go to a Who concert and see them singing anyone else’s songs? Hell NO! Do we want anyone else singing their songs? Hell NO!! And that for me is the difference and the expectation between seeing the Who and Bob (see previous blog in the event of total confusion).

Roger looked and sounded amazing in the context of his life. Hell he can even wear the fringe vest with nothing underneath and no lady in the audience would have minded a bit last night! Hilarious though was his yelling at the audience to stop smoking the damn pot cause he is so severely allergic he can’t sing if they continue. Then Pete gives them the suggestion that if they stick the pot up their ass it gets you higher quicker. Pete was just well Pete. Brilliant and funny and cool and guitar perfect.

The whole night was amazing with a rendition of …Reign.. that took your breath away. Magically perfect in every note. The entire show was a beautiful retrospective of their 50 years. The visuals and the reminiscing were beautifully done. But most of all you didn’t care and you didn’t need to compare them to their former selves in any way. No caricature here, thank you very much!! They paid great tribute throughout the night to Keith and John and John and a great many other events and people and things of the past half a century. Surely those two band members are sorely missed but you have to give baby Ringo credit he did a great job and his Dad in the audience am sure was pretty proud of him last night.

I am reasonably certain that our virgin friend enjoyed the evening immensely and that it mattered not in the continuum of this band where one falls or fell in terms of seeing them live. I loved the show last night. I was more excited than I even imagined I would be to go. Sandi at five times seeing them and with the most exposure for comparison adored it as evinced by the pure rapture on her face at times. Patty too seeing them before also was very thrilled to say the least.

I think Tracker Dave said it best “ It’s just right for 70 year old rockers”.. And that I think is a testament to the longevity, the talent, but most of all the life these songs have lived for all these years. Their songs are in your face anthems and not just one or two of them either. Whole damn albums of them that have stood the test of time and aging with perfection.

Who’s next? No literally. Who have I not wanted to see perhaps because of my phobia of seeing bands with dead members, which I am pretty sure I cured last night. It’s Paul. It keeps coming back to Paul McCartney. I have not been a post Beatle Paul fan but seeing him play Maybe I’m Amazed live is something to make the trek for . And here’s the thing, I don’t want to see him just because he was a Beatle for God’s sake. I want to see him because he is PAUL. He is still the same one with the most gorgeous face and voice beyond compare we all fell in love with the most. I also think Paul is another one who is getting it perfect as a 70 something year old rocker. To hear that voice live is surely a dream come true I think. We change and so do our heroes if we are lucky enough to see them into old age. This is a tricky time I imagine for the baby boomer heroes of our musical youth in terms of what they can or can’t offer. And I for one don’t want to miss anything good that’s being offered. It’s that simple for me. So what if there are a lot of Beatles fans in the audience. I read the set list from this tour and I was astonished to see how many Beatles songs he does. Seriously, am I to miss him perform And I Love Her, one of my favorite all time Beatle songs ever live just because I don’t know every song on Red Rose Speedway (although if he did Get On the Right Thing, I wouldn’t mind a bit). I don’t think so!! Seems to me Paul doesn’t mind one bit how many old Beatles fans are in the audience. He is not doing a concert this year strictly of solo material with a smattering of Beatles thrown in with Yesterday. No, to me it seems he is embracing those of us who parted company with him all those years ago as well as his legion of post Beatle fans. And that’s why I’m on a mission to make him next. He’s PAUL for God’s sakes! So I want to be a Paul virgin this year. It goes without saying his show will be great and he may never pass this way again.

And so another magical musical night comes to an end. The tickets were good. The seats were great. We didn’t get arrested. Teen Cancer America is Roger’s charity he started because of his daughter. They were the sponsors of the show last night. And just in case I’ll be making a donation to them this week. Heard from Teddy Bear Carlos the ticket boy this morning and he loved the show as well. Thanks for being this concert’s ticket fairy godmother, Carlos. And to those marvelous musical mavens Sandi, Patty and Ron who said yes with like 24 hours notice thanks for joining me. WHO luvs ya?WHO

ACT 3

Tags

, ,

As the curtain comes down on my second Act, I take a brief intermission today before it rises on Act 3 tomorrow. I seem to live my life in increments of 30 years. I am not one to run to the fortunetellers on a regular basis, but I have gone at least once every near 30 years. I don’t go more often because I take to heart what they have to say. If they told me something bad, I would crawl up in a ball and never move again. If they told me something great every time, I may be tempted to skip into oncoming traffic with my eyes closed. But since one of their predictions hasn’t waivered in 30 odd years, I’ll go with it until proven otherwise. If three gypsy queens and an Ethiopian Sacramento cab driver are correct, then this third act of mine shall be the approximate length of the other two. That makes me happy actually and today I wonder what I will do with it. One thing for certain is that I no longer will do what I should. I much rather do what I would.

The change I made in my life 30 years ago at the end of Act 1 was very drastic. An Italian Bronx girl very rarely moves 3000 miles away without knowing a soul, let alone having any family members around. It was a time of true shedding of so many relationships. I had been divorced for about a year and the move removed any further personal engagements with him. I left scads of family and friends and coworkers. Some still remain today. Some are gone for good. Change will do that. We never know what will fall to our new ground, when we throw our lives into the air like so many pieces of a letter torn by a scorned lover.

It is a bit like that today for me. Another marriage has ended, soon officially, but unlike the time before there are relationships that can never end. My children of course. And what a time in one’s life to be the parent of a teenager! In talking with a friend the other day, I made mention of how fortunate he was to be spending time with a married 30 something daughter while I continue the duels at dawn in Teen Age Wasteland. He laughed and said that it is s a good thing couples wanting children are not made to babysit a teenager first. It would be a very lonely planet indeed. I love my two sons, that’s for sure and I think I will admire the adults they turn out to be. Of course that admiration will be so much more felt if I can admire them in their own apartments one day.

The morning of the final day of ACT 2 was spent not in combat with the teen but rather in customer service hell. Posit this, a simple question like what size memory card does one need to film about four hours of video in a particular mode for my new Nikon camera took hours to resolve.   One would think a call to Nikon would elicit an answer. No, instead I got to spend time with a lovely customer service lady explaining exactly how they could improve their owner’s manual.   She sent me to the nice people at SanDisk who actually make the memory cards and were about as confused as the Nikon people. A few times placed on hold, while I am sure she went to ask Mr. SanDisk himself and I got the answer finally. The irony however was that it takes an Algebra problem to figure it out and as I like to have said up until today: I never took Algebra and haven’t missed it for damn near 60 years. Well time’s up on that one. In my search I then came across a lovely book by the name of Nikon for Dummies. Apparently there is an entire book that you have to buy to get any real information on how to operate the camera because the manuals are written by complete morons sitting in a room who I am sure were born operating the cameras.   I just don’t get it. Why not make the ‘xxx” for Dummies books the actual operating manuals that come with the various products. Wouldn’t that be extremely helpful to everyone? But I got my answer. I hope. We shall see on Tuesday when we take it for a test drive for an amazing new project my partner and I have been lucky enough to get. We are videotaping the life stories of a wonderful 93 year old man and his 90 year old wife for their posterity. How fortunate to be doing this as I reflect on the past present and future stories of my own life. The mother of all digressions here.

What will Act 3 look like for me? Will my writing finally become first and foremost in my life and will I pursue it in earnest this time? Will I stop allowing the fear of both success and failure to prevent me from following my writerly heart this time? Perhaps a bit of progress has been made since 30 years ago as I would never have showed anyone the little bit of writing I did back then.  I wish that I could tell my 30 year old self to do it, just go for it. Don’t be afraid. But that is not in my cards and I don’t think it should have been. We embark on the journey of our expression and our art not when we decide it but when that art is ready to be shared. Some have the pleasure and the pain I imagine to share it early in life. For some, like my favorite musical play author, Victor Hugo of Les Miserables fame, it takes a near lifetime to share his masterpiece. Yes, I secretly aspire to be a modern day author on Mr. Hugo’s timeline not talent, as Les Mis was published when he was 60 years old. Well since I just wrote it, it is not so secret anymore is it? My goal is four books and a blog.

Some artists attain just enough of the sharing of their artistic soul as needed throughout their lives.   This is not measured by the number of bodies for whom their artistic bell tolls. It can toll only for a select few. The secret I think is the artistic satisfaction that comes with knowing your painting or poetry or music or writing has touched someone.   If one’s work can make someone laugh or cry or feel joy or even sadness then that is reward in and of itself.   One’s artistic expression, in all its foibles and glory, is meant to be shared. I don’t think I understood this fully until I actually tried it with the posting of my very first Internet writing piece. It was an astounding feeling to have someone like something I wrote. Even when at first it was only a few people I knew. More extraordinary was the first time a perfect stranger told me they liked a piece. Now that was heady stuff. It felt a bit creepy at the same time, though, like someone peeping through your window. I suppose it is that in a way as they are peeking into your artistic soul.

All I can do now is try to become the best writer I can in the limited way that my art will express itself at this time in my life. I can do no more or no less now. I love the story. I love when I chase it and I love when it chases me. Telling you about it will become the focus, the fun and the passion of my Act 3.

OPEN MIC….. AGAIN

Tags

, , , , ,

It’s Dylanfest season in Torrance. Uncle Al Diesan of Sardinia, Italy graced us again this year with his presence and performance along with his lovely bride, Maria. At fifty something she managed to look not a day over thirty-five. I liked her anyway. Especially when she took my hands in hers and said at rehearsal on Saturday that she feels like she has known me all her life. First I thought she said she knew me in a past life, which would also have been fine with me.

For those who may remember my less than stellar behavior at Kulak’s Open Mic last year, it is with incredible courage that Uncle Al asked me to take them to another one Saturday night in parts south this time to a place called the Fox Cafe.   What could go wrong? I picked them up at Andy’s after Dylanfest rehearsal. As we are driving there I ask Al what he will be playing tonight. No fool he. Rather than suffer the disdain I displayed the year before when he told me he was playing Blind Willie McTell (which somehow managed to morph into Mr. Tambourine Man by the time he hit the Kulak floor) his response this year was ‘what would you like to hear’. Please play Not Dark Yet. I regaled him with the tale of how it is a brand new Dylan song for me having only discovered it a few months ago thanks to “not in outer space” radio extraordinaire KCSN. Al did a major great job on it the week before at his Suzie’s in Hermosa Beach gig.   Do you know what my absolutely favorite Dylan song is, I asked him.  He looked at me with his wordless communication gaze which translated and not in Italian either to “not a clue but I am sure you’ll tell me”. Desolation Row, I said. That is my absolutely all time favorite Dylan song AND could be my favorite song of all time. Just haven’t given it much thought yet. I probably should make a decision on that soon.

Meanwhile, from the back seat Maria said she never heard Desolation Row. I thought to myself, it was probably because Al doesn’t know it well enough to play. Let’s play it for her, I say and hand him my phone to find it. And so we are merrily driving down the freeway to Long Beach with me showing off how I know the words to the ENTIRE song and that is a lot of words and Al is not singing one word. O, I thought, as I suspected, he doesn’t know this song at all but that stands to reason. Not too many Dylan cover boys are going to perform this very wordy 11 plus minute song.

We get to the place and I like it. I really do. There is something so sweet about this place. The front half is café with gluten free this and that and the requisite coffee house coffee but no bottled water. I liked that. They simply put out a big pitcher on a table and you can help yourself. I didn’t even bother looking for the alcohol this time. I remembered that there is a law against combining Open Mic nights and heavy drinking. This is not the place one wants to see people’s inhibitions turned way down for obvious reasons as I not so elegantly proved last year at Kulaks. For those now thoroughly annoyed with the Kulak reference and no explanation by me to the current reading audience at all, please go read OPEN MIC blog from last May. Thank you. I digress-what’s new.

The inner room is set up with a long, wooden, old picnic table down the middle and some chairs around it. Against the walls are a few more small tables and chairs. At the back are two ornate, comfy old chairs that I make a beeline for. Sitting at the big table are a few, shall we say, older guys listening to one of the saddest looking people I have ever seen on stage singing Sonny. I haven’t heard that song in ages and I kind of enjoyed it, I must admit. Seems I’m getting the hang of these Open Mic performers or else I was even sadder than he was. He followed this up with a not so rousing rendition of Light My Fire for which he forgot a word or two.   I got some cappuccino and sat back down. There appeared to be some kind of age demarcation line to the place. In the café part sat kids in their 20s I think. In the performance part sat us older folks, but there was no full wall or anything so you could see no matter where you sat. The place was tiny but very musically cozy and run by a big burly Irishman named Sean Gallagher. He reminded me of one of the people in Whoville but in such a good way. Sean kept the whole thing going; introduced the acts, worked the sound, hawked the baked goods.

First up tonight after Sad Sonny finished was a young Hawaiian lad named Ishmael. It seems that he got the ‘headliner’ spot meaning he gets to perform for 55 minutes at a three song Open Mic night. Now, no matter how good someone may be, this IS an Open Mic night with a leaning towards the more musical start ups among us. Giving any act that much time is equivalent to musically waterboarding the audience.   Ishmael was cute as a button, a bit off key and word forgetful while playing Imagine, but hey what do you expect for having to perform for 55 darn minutes.   Ishmael told a great story of how he got to the Fox Café. Apparently he and his absent tonight singing partner went to a Christian Rock Open Mic night and performed Imagine. The nice Christians threw them out for saying things like ‘imagine there’s no heaven” and then “and no religion too”. I shook my head wondering how exactly Ishmael may have learned the song without hearing the lyrics to it, but as I said, I was on my best behavior and just glad we got the pleasure of his being ousted right here. Next up were a few more kids and then an older gent who went really, really acoustic with that guitar of his. Not a wire was to be found on the guitar or him. They simply stuck a mic on a stool in front of the guitar. We are talking old school stool here I’m sure.

Finally it was Uncle Al’s turn. I really did not say the words “There is a musical God” out loud. He gets up there, opens his mouth, strums his guitar and out comes THEY’RE SELLING POST CARDS OF THE HANGING… my mouth dropped open in unison. Remember that Desolation Row song I told you about a few paragraphs ago that I was sure he didn’t know the words to? Well there he is belting it out and grinning at me at the same time. My shock was not only that he knew it, but rather that he was now going to do an 11 minute song at a three song and done Open Mic night! But pro that he is, he actually did a great scaled down version of it or I was right all along and only Bob, me and my friend Sandi Behar know all the words to it; minus a preposition for her of course.  Well that surely capped a great night at an Open Mic where I never had to touch my denim jacket at all or put it over my head.

On a serious note, though, I salute people like Sean Gallagher. This place here is not making a fortune or anywhere near it.  He does it out of his own love for music and to give aspiring musicians with stars in their eyes a chance to be heard as well as provide a place for the bucket listers who want one last chance at musical glory. It’s a noble thing Sean does and I, for one, was glad to support it that night.