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Tuning Fork or Pitch Fork?

29 Jan

As inspired, a bit, by the present trend on Facebook for us to list the albums that most influenced us in High School, but to avoid the limitation of what could best be termed as my “coming out of the musical wilderness,” I bring to you Tuning Fork or Pitch Fork.  A sometimes series about how certain songs have affected me in one way or another.  This next song comes originally from my high school years, but came to exert a lot more influence in my life in college and beyond.  

This song started as a running joke between myself and one of my closest friends in high school about water skiing.  It became an anthem for getting out of bed in the two early winter mornings of bus catching.  To say I attended high school in a town with a strong cannabis heritage is probably the nice way to put that I had a lot of classmates who fashioned themselves rastafarian inasmuch as it allowed them to not bathe and to smoke a lot of the good ganja.  Mon.

It was also the era of In Living Color, and the Jamaican family with many jobs.  We watched that show and laughed.  Mon.

And then I started studying Africana Studies in college.  And began to learn about reggae as resistance.  Its storied roots and successes in several colonial uprisings in Africa and the West Indies.  Let us not forget that it wasn’t just John and Yoko preaching about One Love, Bob was doing it too.  And let us not ever forget that religion, particularly Christianity, was one preached to peoples of color, brought here to this hemisphere to be enslaved by their white, Christian owners.  And now we see the light and won’t give up the fight.

Yesterday the United States issued its strongest anti-refugee and anti-Muslim message that it has ever done.  I know the history of my country.  I will stand on the correct side of history.  And it will not be the side that allows fear and anti-religious sentiment take control of how we behave.  Nor will I allow all that glitters to be seen as gold.  More a shade of orange that’s quite unbecoming.

Tonight I go to see the Wailers perform in my new home town.  With as much joking as I make about what is bound to accompany such a show, I also hope it reminds us that we do have the choice, daily, to make our lives heaven or hell right here in this lifetime.  Don’t let them control you.  See the light.  And stand up for your rights.


Tuning Fork or Pitch Fork?

16 Jan

As inspired, a bit, by the present trend on Facebook for us to list the albums that most influenced us in High School, but to avoid the limitation of what could best be termed as my “coming out of the musical wilderness,” I bring to you Tuning Fork or Pitch Fork.  A sometimes series about how certain songs have affected me in one way or another.  The first one does actually come from high school.  

Mother Love Bone – Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorn– 1990 (1994)

Please note there are two dates listed for the songs I will share with you.  The first date will be when the song (or version if it’s a cover) was released.  The second date, in parenthesis, will be as close as I can get to the date that I first heard that song.

This song is the song that I always share as a one favorite song.  Sure I have many favorite songs, but this is the song that has gotten the most traction under my skin and into my psyche.  It’s a breakup song but more than that song.  It’s the voice of a guy who lived pretty roughly and who wasn’t around for a long time because his life was pretty rough.  It’s the end of one band, but the beginnings of another.  It’s also on one of my most favorite movie soundtracks, Singles, and happens to be one of the few songs I have purchased on cassette tape, CD, and online.

How did it take so long to get to me?  I lived in a town in the mountains during my late middle school and high school years.  This was before the Internet told us what to listen to, but MTV was doing that a good bit to my friends whose parents had that cable package.  That year, 1994, was the year that Kurt Cobain offed himself, and a guy on the yearbook committee swapped a photo of Cobain for his photo in the school yearbook.  (And got into a heap of trouble for it.  By the way, Cobain was still alive when the deadline for school pictures happened.)

I, fortunately, happened to focus my attention on said person for one of my many unrequited crushes in high school.  So of course the best way to get someone to hopefully requite that love, you learn about the things they like and see if you enjoy them too.  Thus brings Seattle and its new style of music into my life.  I rediscovered Say Anything and it’s soundtrack framed around a famous Seattle DJ’s radio show.  And I discovered the movie Singles (same director), which had cute boys with long hair in it.  That movie has since become my  best way of describing to people who Generation X is and how we love one another and see things.

But the song.  “This is my kind of love, the kind that moves on, the kind that leaves me alone…”  seemed the perfect description to me of my string of unrequited crushes, and how I simply just had to move on because they dated someone else, or it became painfully obvious in some other way that my first kiss was not coming from them.  Ah, my melodramatic youth.

But then it was, “But I’m proud to say, and I won’t forget the times spent laying by her side,” as I found that first kiss, and was a couple years younger, and it was harder to make me laugh or smile then.  I didn’t know who I was, but I did know this was certainly nice. My first car was named Chloe a few years later.  There’s not any coincidence in that.

Then we march into adulthood, my life as “Mr Faded Glory,” or at least dating him.  Learning about riding high horses and falling from them.  Being tied to the ceiling more times than I would like to remember, but not that many times that I don’t still view myself as a bit “lessons never learned” anyway.

And really that’s where we find me with this song, with suddenly the words “and if you make it death well then rest your soul away,” taking on newer meaning as friends, family, and people I know continue to shuffle off this mortal coil.

It will always be one of the first songs I play when there’s change in the air.  One of the first I play when Colorado indulges me with some Seattle weather.  One of the first when I begin the task of removing physical evidence of someone who is no longer in my life.  It is.  Solely.  My favorite song.


20 Nov

“I base my fashion sense on what doesn’t itch.”  ~Gilda Radner

So I promise I’ll get to those holiday videos I’ve been threatening to talk at you about, but I simply must make you view this.  It’s about an hour long and from BBC Channel 4.

This motley crew of septa and octagenarians share their sense of style and their thoughts on how being old doesn’t mean getting old, shopping in thrift shops and catalogs, and even wearing their own art that they’ve created. One is already a very famous model, and another tries to see if she can become a model.  There are some very surprising things in here.  Very surprising indeed.

The documentary is well crafted and basically makes these women gleam and sparkle with glamour, poise, and that general “wisdom of the former generations” that many of us who have long since seen our grandparents depart the earth crave.

There are many funny and endearing moments in this little film.  And here is why you should watch it:

1. Everyone wants to see multiple old ladies don Doc Martens and sparkly Chuck Taylors.  Everyone.

2. Two fingers in a V.  No, it doesn’t mean “Victory” in Britain.  Saucy, saucy ladies.

3. The main thing that struck me about these spry individuals is that each of them is very in tune with her body.  And each exercises and stretches daily.  Smart.

4. I love the idea of owning the look that you like to put on. There is no real rule about what you wear at a certain age.  These ladies certainly don’t go the blue hair, cardigan, dowdy dress look.  But mostly it’s about owning who you are and then showing that by how you dress.  I vow to do a bit more of that.

5. The idea, presented by one of the women, that dwelling on sadness and not moving on is what ages one.  I’ve always felt that dwelling only in the sadness of the departure kind of freezes you in a moment, and it’s not a very healthy moment.

6. This is a film about people who are comfortable in their skin.  Very.  Very.  Comfortable.  I do not think you need to be 87 to achieve this.  I think each of us could become this comfortable if we allowed ourselves the freedom to move on, to discover who we really are, and to march.  There may not be a beat, or maybe your beat isn’t a Sousa (quite easy to march to), but you just march.

7. One of them actually says her style is “street.”  And she doesn’t wish to look “smart.”  Yes.  Very.  Yes.

8.  Not one pair of Uggs among them.  Some funky slippers yes, but not one pair.  Not one.  None.  Zero.  Getting the point?

9. All the color!  So many, many colors!  “Beige, in my opinion, is the color of death.”  PREACH MY SISTER!

10. Old ladies.  Wearing Doc Martens. And exclaiming that wearing stockings suffocates the legs.  Have you not hit play yet?

Really, take an hour out of your day to watch this.  Even if you’re not fashion minded.  Or style minded.  Or old people minded.  Take the moment to just enjoy that these women are some of the people who populate this fine earth of ours.  That the same energy that they tai chi with is also energy that you have in your day to day living.  Be well, friends.  Be well.


2 Jul

Sandy Skoglund, "Fox Games"

I feel like I’m starting to get the hang of those moments where the floor drops out and you don’t know which way is up or is down.  The last 10 years of my life have been strung together with these types of moments.  And I used to become completely unhinged for weeks, maybe months – becoming some kind of unwashed, alien zombie bent on dragging everyone else down into the pit of my despair.

And then I started to learn that it really was just a situation.  Of course, I’m not claiming to have the corner on this sort of truth, nor do I even want to give you the pretense that when negative things happen to me I always deal with them perfectly, with great composure, and never a stray hair missed.  (Or with some unwashedness for that matter!)

But here’s kinda where I’m coming from, and I’d like to take you with me if you’ll go.  I’ve become acutely aware of this painfully beautiful something I’ve built around me.  A masterpiece, even.  A still life pose.  Like a bowl of oranges, really.  It is a beautiful safety net, forged from Elvin silver.  Or a cane with a crooked handle that I can hold onto over my head, its bent handle keeping me from plummeting to my death after a misstep on the tight rope.  It’s nothing very revolutionary, other people have become aware of it.  It’s just simply my people.

My people.  They are many types of people.  Some are problem solvers, some dreamers, some have endured more than any single person should endure in their life, one is very tiny and can’t even say words yet.  They all do one thing though:  they sit.

Sometimes by a lake, in the middle of the night, 12 feet away, but still checking on me.  Often through some form of technology, just quiet, or chatty, or whatever is needed.  They sit on the end of a couch and humor me with Goldie Hawn and tasty snacks.  In my arms barely weighing anything, and only fidgeting slightly as they fight sleep.  Or on a barstool knocking back drinks and muttering obscenities under their breath.  Sometimes they are angry for me, sometimes sad, often they point out the lies I’m believing, or stay up all night with me just so I’m not alone; they are always there with their unique perspective.  They sit.  They show up.  They are there.

I think it’s why I’m obsessed a bit with installation art: someone filling a space with art which integrates the space around it as well as the piece.

Anthony Gormley's "Field for the British Isles," or "the first installation piece I fell in love with"

With installation art, the artist uses not only a created piece(s), but also space to guide the viewer through their piece.  Sometimes the viewer is allowed intimately inside the piece, with the artwork surrounding them; other times it is only by peeking in through the entrance of a room.

I seem to get the feeling more often than not that installation pieces want you to be surrounded, feel surrounded, know you’re surrounded.  Or they want you to be surprised and delighted that you found such a wonderful thing.  (See: guerrilla art) And I am.  Surrounded by beautiful pieces of art.  And I wander through, and sometimes hunker down beside them.  Or I laugh, sometimes smugly to myself that I’ve found such a lovely thing that thousands have walked past every day.  But mostly I am amazed.  I am amazed at this installation piece that I’ve created, and I lovingly try to care for it daily.

Chris Burden "Urban Light"