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Feelin’ Good

On this day thirty-nine years ago a woman gave birth to her first child, a son, and he would become my best friend.  The world is indeed a wondrous place.  Consider all of the possible outcomes with the actual results and wonder: how?  why?  And be amazed.

Every person is a bundle of possibilities and he is worth what life may get out of him before it is through. — Harry Emerson Fosdick

Last night we went out for a celebratory glass of wine.  A toast to life, love and the pursuit of happiness, which is what we have been doing heartily since we joined forces: living, loving, and pursuing happiness.

We went to Ava Lounge to enjoy the jazzy notes of Howie Alexander’s Interval Jam.  What is happening here on the jazz scene is the making of history.  Having just recently lost a hometown jazz gal, Lena Horne, whose career spanned the test of time and whose beauty and music touched many beyond the borders of this steel town and the Hill District scene, I like to imagine that someday Yim and I will be talking about how we used to rub elbows with none other than the jazz greats of the turn of the century, just like those who hung around the Crawford Grill would have spoken about Lena.  We will fondly reminisce about Howie, Doc Nelson, Roby Supersax, Chris Hemingway, and my favorite Sean Jones.

In between sets on Monday nights, JMalls spins throwback vinyl.  Last night, as Yim and I raised our glasses and enjoyed each other’s conversation, another fateful thing occurred.  A familiar voice rang through the lounge.  Who knows, perhaps it was at the very moment in time that this woman went into labor . . . Yes, Yim‘s mother’s voice sang out from the deejay booth, like a birthday reminder and gift from the source.  And we were all “Feelin’ Good”.  So, now, for your listening pleasure . . . ladies and gentlemen, Lynn Marino!

There’s a divinity that shapes our ends, rough-hew them how we will. — Shakespeare

And one more thing . . .

Happy Birthday, Yim!

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INCOMING!

Now this is what I am talking about folks: COMMENTS AND REQUESTS!  Ha!  Ask and you shall receive!

UB, to answer your question, “By the way do you know who is playing that alto sax in your photo?”, yes, I do.  I must admit I only know now because you asked and I did some research – which took about 4 seconds.  That is Paul Desmond, who actually wrote “Take Five”.

http://rhythmandwaves.files.wordpress.com/2008/09/paul_desmond.jpg

And by the way, did you know that you could click on that ‘photo’ and play the video clip of The Dave Brubeck Quartet with Paul Desmond playing “Take Five”?  Try it, UB, I know you’ll like it!

And now, because Zia, UB and E-Beth have all requested the story of what happened with Rock and the bird, here it is: (E-Beth, chime in with more detail if I am forgetting something here…)

Rock used to wear one of these all the time:

https://i1.wp.com/www.sportswearhouse.com/store/media/replicabattinghelmetpirates.jpg

That’s a batting helmet for the best team in the league!!  Okay, so I think Rock’s helmet only had one little hole in the center of the dome, rather than two as in this image, therefore cutting the chances of something randomly dropping from the sky onto his scalp in half.  Right?  Right.  And as we, E-Beth, Rock and I played on Broughton Street, running up and down, jumping and climbing the mulberry tree on the edge of the property, somehow a bird dropped it’s, well, it’s droppings, straight through that little 1/4 inch diameter hole in the center of Rock’s batting helmet.  INCOMING!!!

And everyone knows that getting hit with bird poop is good luck, right?

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There is a radio in my bathroom that remains plugged in.  This way, when I hit the light switch, voila, I have music as well.  I’ve always kept it this way, no matter where I’ve lived.  I just love to hear music as often as I can, even if it is in the can.

Sometimes a song will take me straight back in time and remind me of everything about a moment in my past, and this is the best kind of sometimes.  Songs are like smells that way.  They can trigger your memory to recall all the details of an instance.

All music is what awakes from you when you are reminded by the instruments. — Walt Whitman

I thought it would be fun to make a list of all the songs I can think of that have this effect on me, share the list with you, and ask you to post a comment with your own songs and the memories they induce.

Here are mine:

Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” – sung by B.J. Thomas

In my memory this song is forever linked to the nursery rhyme

It’s raining, it’s pouring,

The old man is snoring,

He went to bed and he bumped his head,

And couldn’t get up in the morning.

When I was three years old we lived in an apartment on the third floor of one of the big, old Victorians around here, and from our window I could see the steeple of the Gothic Presbyterian church in East Liberty.  I was three, so I can’t explain anything about the memory other than if I hear the song “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head,” it most definitely always triggers the memory of the nursery rhyme and the view of the steeple from our window.

Suicide Is Painless” – theme song from M*A*S*H*.

I’m sure that many people my age can remember their parents tuning in to M*A*S*H* every week on TV.  It was one of my mother’s favorite programs, and I understood that it was funny, but most of the time the only thing that I could really laugh at was Jamie Farr in drag.  So it would make sense that the theme song would provoke memories of the show.  What I remember when I hear this theme song is my 5th grade music class at Liberty Elementary School.  That year we learned to sing this song and I can still clearly visualize the wide-ruled paper I wrote the lyrics on in pencil.

Through early morning fog I see
visions of the things to be
the pains that are withheld for me
I realize and I can see…

[chorus]:

That suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
and I can take or leave it if I please.

I try to find a way to make
all our little joys relate
without that ever-present hate
but now I know that it’s too late, and…

[Chorus]

The game of life is hard to play
I’m gonna lose it anyway
The losing card I’ll someday lay
so this is all I have to say.

[Chorus]

The only way to win is cheat
And lay it down before I’m beat
and to another give my seat
for that’s the only painless feat.

[Chorus]

MASH
The sword of time will pierce our skins
It doesn’t hurt when it begins
But as it works its way on in
The pain grows stronger…watch it grin, but…

[Chorus]

A brave man once requested me
to answer questions that are key
‘is it to be or not to be’
and I replied ‘oh why ask me?’

‘Cause suicide is painless
it brings on many changes
and I can take or leave it if I please.
…and you can do the same thing if you choose.

Such deep and gloomy lyrics to teach to a classroom full of children.  Obviously, I can’t forget it.

“I Think I’m Turning Japanese” – The Vapors

“Life in Tokyo” – Japan

Music will often play a kind of soundtrack to your life, especially to the good times with good friends.  I think it’s strange and interesting that there is an Asian theme to these two songs that will eternally be linked to my friendship with Elisabeth.

When I was 7 years old, I was walking back to my house from playing up the street.  The summer day was coming to an end.  It was just dusk outside.  My roller-skates with the pink rubber wheels were slung over my shoulder, tied together at the laces.  Sounds cliché, but it is 100% true.  I could see my mother sitting on the front porch with my 3-year-old brother.  And waiting to cross the street on the opposite curb was some lanky boy I’d never seen before.  As I got closer to home I saw this boy cross the street and go right up onto my porch and talk to my mother.  And as I got closer still, I realized that boy was a girl.  Elisabeth was taller than me but had shorter hair than me.  She was long and skinny.  She was wearing a t-shirt with horizontal alternating navy and white pin-stripes.  She had bubble-gum stuck to her shirt.  She had a white gauze bandage taped to her ankle – a burn from the exhaust pipe of her uncle’s motorcycle.  We became quick friends and over the years these songs were used in group choreographed dance contests we had at her birthday parties.  “I Think I’m Turning Japanese” can absolutely be considered our theme song.

“King of Pain” – The Police

I guess I must have been 12 years old when I read Cujo by Stephen King.  By this time we were living in that huge, drafty house that I did most of my growing up in.  My bedroom was on the first floor, while my mother and brother slept upstairs.  I’ve mostly always read in bed before switching off my bedside lamp and going to sleep.  I’ve not always read with the radio on as well, but that is what I was doing then.  Cujo was so scary and I felt so alone and vulnerable on the first floor.  I had the radio on quietly beside me as I read so as to comfort me.  And then the DeeJay played “King of Pain”.  It was the first time I’d ever heard it.  It was just as dark and eerie as Cujo.  I put the book down and listened to the lyrics and got even more creeped out.  Don’t get me wrong, I really love this song a lot, and part of it’s appeal is what it did to me that night.

“Need You Tonight” – INXS

“Tell It To My Heart” – Taylor Dayne

Okay, I just watched these videos and listened to the lyrics and got a little embarrassed.  Oh my.  Well, you can probably guess that these songs, and the videos, trigger my memories of my “dawn of womanhood”.  Let’s just say that the mature feelings expressed by the lyricists inaccurately describe my experience, but nonetheless, I am transported in time to a certain weekend of my life.  And we’ll leave it at that.

“Big Mouth Strikes Again” – The Smiths

When I married Mike in Oregon we spent a few nights in his mother’s guest bedroom before and after our “honeymoon”.  We listened to The Smiths in the damp coolness of Oregon’s November on the Columbia River.  It sounds slightly romantic, but I assure you, the lyrics should be “sweetness, I wasn’t joking when I said I’d like to smash every tooth in your head.”  I actually love Morrissey and The Smiths and think their lyrics are brilliant, but listening to this one is somewhat bittersweet.

I’m not trying to be morose here, there are songs by the dozens that take me back to happy, happy places.  I just felt this was a nice sampling to share, even if the last few do seem to remind me of things less than ideal.  C’est la vie.

Now it’s your turn.  In the comments section of this post, tell us about a song that transports you to another time and the memory it triggers.  More than one?  Great!  Let’s hear them!

Without music life would be a mistake. — Nietzsche

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Coincidental Teaser

Last night Yim and I saw Rodrigo y Gabriela perform at the Byham.  They are extraordinary guitarists and after the show I turned to Yim and asked, “Now, what are we going to do with our guitars?”

I think that Rodrigo is highly skilled in a way that is learned, while Gabriela’s relationship with the instrument makes me think that she played with a guitar in her crib.  She has an instinctual talent for producing sounds from that flat-top box that I’ve never heard come out of a guitar before.  And yet, neither of them can stand alone.  Without a back-up band and lyrics, 2 hours of manic guitar strumming would be monotonous if it weren’t for the way in which they each compliment the  other’s  style.

The crowd clapped along most of the time, but I felt a little ashamed for the collective lack of enthusiasm when Rodrigo tried more than once to goad people to their feet.  I’ve never before seen a performance that would warrant standing at the Byham, and the theater seating is certainly why people were reluctant to get to their feet.  In the end, however, the crowd could no longer contain their energy when Rodrigo y Gabriela began their encore performance of “Tamacun”.  Finally the vibe was like that of a Mexican street party celebrating liberty and people ran down the aisles towards the stage to dance and clap as close to the heart of the driving rhythms as possible.  Ole!

After the show, Yim and I headed over to my favorite spot in town, Shadow Lounge and Ava.  The night was coincidental.  We met up with Alison.  It was open mic night for spoken word on the Shadow Lounge side.  We ran into a cast of our favorite people creating great stuff for the enjoyment of the masses; Ricardo Iamuuri, Gene Stovall, and Brian Francis.  Brian performed Here I Am, Awkward, and we reminisced. (Didn’t I just post about that recently?)

Throughout the night people mingled back and forth between Shadow Lounge and Ava, and every time someone passed through the doors between the two venues we heard a snippet of whatever the DeeJay was spinning over on the other side.  Eventually, a bubble of sound from Ava slipped through the doors to where we sat on the Shadow side.  When that bubble burst, Alison, Yim and I all looked at each other knowingly.  We had to go over and dance to Luther singing “Never Too Much.”  (Didn’t I just post about that recently?) Is my life on a loop lately?

We were hooked.  The three of us danced until Alison had to leave, and then the two of us danced until we’d had enough fun for one night.  What?  You can never have enough fun for one night!

Incidentally, not coincidentally, I think the last time I was at the Byham was for the premier of the movie I was in, 10th & Wolf.  The movie is based on Donnie Brasco‘s tale of a mafia war in South Philly.  It was a bomb.

I had heard that there was a casting call for extras for a movie being shot here.  I didn’t think twice about it, but then a friend said, “Hey, it’s a mafia movie and they are looking for Italians.  You should go.”  And so I did.

The “movie people” called me about two weeks later and told me to be at a local funeral home at 3pm on the given date.  I should expect to stay for up to 8 hours,  and could I come looking as if I were attending a funeral in 1985?

But I am getting away from myself, here.  I am so tired I can hardly keep my eyes open and I realize that what I want to say about being cast as an extra in the movie 10th & Wolf is longer than I can stand to write.  Reconvene for the story here on Friday morning, 9:09 am.

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When I was in high school I discovered the real difference that warmth and sunshine could make in my life.  Growing up in the city, I lived in a huge, drafty house built a hundred years before we moved in.  Nights between October and May were spent under so many layers of blankets that I couldn’t roll over under the weight.  To this day I can go to sleep and wake up eight hours later in the exact same position.

Then I went to boarding school my freshman year of high school.  And there was warmth.  I spent a lot of time after that thinking of ways to stay warm once I graduated.  The short story is, I went to live in San Diego for three years before moving back north of the Mason-Dixon Line.  The long story is for another time.  But since moving back I have closed my eyes more than once in the dead of winter, to imagine myself lying in the sand, half naked, with the sun toasting the surface of my skin, as a balmy breeze drifts over me.

In the summertime I feel energized and strong.  Even though when we reach August I start to feel a little anxiety over the eminently approaching winter season, I am able to convince myself that it’s no big deal.  This is false, of course.  This is the talk of “summer muscles.”

In November I will start to think about flying south in January or February, but the holidays provide just enough distraction so that I start to rationalize with myself that I could buck up and survive without falter, save my money, and maybe even embrace the weather.  And when February makes me shiver, I begin to regret my fear of flying, metaphorically speaking, and start to look for opportunities to GET ME OUT OF HERE.  Seriously, people, you must try to understand that cold weather HURTS me.  I am obviously too weak to fight the chronic pain of it.  After all these years of being told to “put another sweater on” to no avail, for the love of God, if you love me you will understand my burden.  Enough said.  (Until I address poor circulation, low blood pressure, and what the acupuncturist did.)

Enter 2008.  It was February.  I was heartbroken.  (See “On Time and Love“)  This is when it is good to have great girlfriends who will hang out with you while you pick up the pieces.  And, as promised, a cure for the winter doldrums. . .

One of my favorite pastimes is beach camping.

From the beaches of Assateague to Puerto Rico, I have enjoyed the merging of outdoor living with my favorite outdoor location.  For adventurists who love the ocean and are more impressed with nature than a mint on their pressed pillowcase, beach camping is an ultimate vacation.  In 2008 my friend Alison told me she wanted to return to the Florida Keys for a camping trip.  In my wretched state it was music to my ears.  We made plans to fly out in April.

Although I often travel without a plan because I get excited about feeling as free as possible, Alison assured me that it’s best to make reservations in the Keys.  Even when camping.  Especially when camping.  The Florida Keys are a hot spot for RV’ing fishermen who are devoted to spending their vacation time fishing the blue waters.  And don’t forget that each key is narrow and small, limiting accommodations.  There are only about 100 miles from Key Largo to Key West.

So, Alison and I flew into Miami and rented a car.  We had packed our luggage wisely, I with the tent and lantern, she with the headlamps and lavender mist for inside our shared sleeping quarters.  Incidentally, there are approximately 65 miles between Miami and Key Largo which can be enjoyed driving with the windows wide open and Luther Vandross belting “Never Too Much” as you sing along.

Alison made reservations at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo and Curry Hammock State Park in Marathon.  We spent a day at Bahia Honda, touted as the “Best Beach in the Continental U.S.”, and although we did not bivouac there, we did mooch on their facilities.

There is a lot of snorkeling to do in the Florida Keys and Alison is an ocean lover of the aquatic variety.  There are two types of people who love the ocean.  The type that loves it from within, i.e. Alison, Yim, etc., and the type that loves it from without, i.e. me.  All I wanted to do was lie in the hot sand and warm my bones, but Alison is such a good friend and when she begged me to go snorkeling with her I acquiesced, on the condition that she sing karaoke with me later at the Caribbean Club.

From Pennekamp we made arrangements to board a boat going 7 miles out to snorkel the Banana Reef.  There were about 25 people going out that day.

I should mention here that I am not a fan of horror movies because they are generally unbelievable and therefore do not frighten me.  I don’t mind a good scare, though.  When I saw the preview for Open Water, I made a point of seeing it because my worst fear ever is to be in water that I cannot see below the surface of.  And that hosts other living creatures.  And that is too deep for me to touch my feet to the bottom.  And that movie scared the crap out of me.

So many things happened in my life when I was three, but one of them was that I stepped off a sand ledge in the Atlantic while camping on Ocracoke Island and when I realized I was under the water with the fishes, fishes that I could see!, I had to quickly learn how to swim towards the light to save my skin.  This is why when I was 15 and wiped out while water-skiing (hey, alliteration) I panicked while waiting for the boat to swing back around for me because I saw an enormous dead tree log floating waaay over by the bank of the lake and was able to convince myself that it could possibly be a Loch Ness Monster.

When snorkeling 7 miles off the coast, the guides advise you to stay with your partner.  Seven miles off the coast the waters were colder and there was a damn cloud, the only cloud in the sky, right above us, blocking the sunshine.  My bikini and a life jacket were not enough to keep me from shivering with goose bumps.  When someone said, “Hey, there’s a shark,” I did not care that it was a 6-7 foot lemon shark swimming deep below us in the reef.  My eyes confirmed what my ears heard and I turned and high-tailed it back aboard our boat, leaving Alison alone and up to her neck in sharky waters.  I was the first one back to the boat and I had to wait another half hour, at least, before the guide signaled everyone else back.  I am a land creature.  I do not require breathing apparatus on terra firma.

Alison did sing karaoke with me at the Caribbean Club.  We sang Madonna’s “Cherish” and Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart.”  Alison did not run off the stage.  Later in the week we would return to the Caribbean Club to witness a rehabilitated manatee being released back into it’s natural habitat.

My favorite place in the Keys was Curry Hammock in Marathon.  The camp facilities were pristine and the beach was peaceful.  Beaches in the Keys are narrow and sometimes a bit rough to walk on, but the sand is nearly white, the water is shallow and warm a long way out, and the wildlife is amazing.  At Curry Hammock we got kayaks from the park office and paddled out around the key.

If you are quiet and patient the wildlife will reveal itself to you.  Manatees and sharks, jumping fish, cranes and other birds of Florida can be seen.  Alison and I took the kayak into the cave created by the low growing tangle of the mangroves that grow so thick, only slivers of sunlight shine directly through.  I felt like an explorer in the rain forest.

Lastly, we drove down to Key West and toured Ernest Hemingway’s house.

We ate fantastic food and drank salted margaritas while listening to live music outdoors.

We stumbled upon a street party celebrating freedom of expression . . .

And athletic abilities . . .

We stood in a crowd and watched the sunset, just like Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines (R.I.P.) did in Running Scared (cue Michael McDonald!).

http://veganpotluck.files.wordpress.com/2009/02/runningscaredboobs.jpg

And then we enjoyed the buskers performing on the waterfront.  I bought 2 great pieces of silver jewelry in Key West, a ring and a cuff bracelet, as souvenirs.

So there they are.  The Florida Keys: cure for the wintertime blues.  And for heart-ache.

So we went in April, which is technically spring.  And Hemingway killed himself anyway, but he was a severe case.

Oh, what the heck:

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Oh, Ed: an Ode

Eddie Vedder’s voice makes my soul quake.  I’m not into Capricorn men, usually they are weirdos, but I’ve got a crush on Eddie Vedder.  And I do think he’s a bit weird.

When he sings Footsteps I have out-of-body experiences.  I usually don’t like to listen to Pearl Jam in company because if I closed my eyes and started to whirl like a dervish I might lose friends.

But seriously.  Ed.  I had a dream he stopped by my work and when we hugged he whispered in my ear, “I’ve always loved you.”  Me, too!  I mean, I have always loved you.  …I mean him.

When I went to see Pearl Jam a few years ago, I wore a yellow tank top so that Eddie might see me in that sea of plaid.  I was pretty close to the stage.  I saw somebody’s pictures from the concert on flickr and I spotted myself.  The yellow tank top worked.  After the show I wanted to go to the bar in the hotel where the band was staying.  Yeah, like a groupie.  So what’s wrong with that?  People do it all the time.  Once, I had a completely unintentional groupie moment with the Ben Folds Five band.  I told the bassist that when I go in cognito I call myself Sabrina.  Hey, he sat next to me.

Anyway, my ex-boyfriend got so irrationally jealous over the prospect of Eddie and I falling instantly and madly in love with each other that we had a fight.  Then he gave in and took me to that bar anyhow.  Which, in hindsight, I can say, was probably not such a good idea after all.  Because I think if Eddie Vedder had been in there, he quite reasonably could have fallen instantly and madly in love with me.  Hey, he’d sit next to me.

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