Sunday, October 28, 2018

Tiffany Haddish

Vogue September 2010
Tiffany Haddish is wonder woman.

Haddish had me at 'I'm gonna wear this Alexander McQueen dress all of the time ...' when she stood on the SNL stage giving her host's monologue. If ever I had an Alexander McQueen dress to wear, I would wear it to the grocery store too. But the message behind Haddish's proclamation was not lost ... you've got to be real to be funny. And this girl is for real.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Karl Lagerfeld's Desk

I am fascinated by Karl Lagerfeld. His desk is a place that I would love to explore. In thechaos, some sort of organization has been established ... a method in the madness in the truest sense. And the cat, Choupette, is, naturally, a beautiful specimen, and her tail, I'm sure that she is a lady, has been fluffed for the photograph.

In the piece accompanying the photograph by Annie Leibovitz for Vogue, Hamish Bowles writes,"Savagely unsentimental, relentlessly un-nostalgic, he remains, in his ninth decade, fueled by his insatiable curiosity and passion for the present and the future. "I have a strong survival instinct," he says." I guess so. At 85, Lagerfeld continues the kind of pace that one expects of someone far younger, not because of age, but interest. I have to wonder what made him that he is so focused on design that it seems that it is the only thing that his mind processes.

I am sitting at my desk now. It has moved from its former home of 24 years, and in its former life, I collected, not stacks of inspiration, but magazine clippings and photographs that I would admire as I stalled in putting my fingers to the keyboard. Now, I have a window to look at/through, not a wall. I have not begun to tape the images to the window frame or create a new space for them on an adjacent wall. I'm not sure that I will. I look out now on a windy day and the tall evergreens that I argued so heartily to remove as they didn't 'match' the others in the line along the road and find them to be beguiling. They are tall and wide and seem to be made of beautiful light, intricate lace. Each moves so delicately in the breeze that gusts through it. Black birds flutter in and through them in a system of organization that had I not spent many minutes procrastinating, I may have missed. In Autumn, I wonder at what the scene will look like as the seasons move through the year. Fortunately, the evergreens will stay constant. They will be the stalwart, the base, of what could be come a window of transcendence, but also one that is a comfort in its sameness.

I wonder what Karl thinks about when he looks up from his papers, admires the puff that is Choupette's tail, and considers what is right there in front of him.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Ralph Lauren at 50 Years: Remembering Marshall Field's Country Shop

Vogue September 2018

Gately's the People's store in Roseland

After college, like many, I was directionless. Although my experience had taught me many things, I was not taught what to look for in a job, much less how to find a job. So I moved back to my parent's house and got a part-time job at a store that had always held a fascination for me: Marshall Field's. Before realizing it, I had headed to a place that I had always loved, a department store, so the first step was in the right direction as I worked for that company for ten years.

As a child, I can remember going with my mom to Gately's, the People's Store, in the Roseland Community on the southside of Chicago. The memories are but ghosts with transparent edges as I was but a very small girl. But I have a sense of the bustle of the place and the specialness of a visit there for I know that my mother didn't have the time nor the finance to spend a lot of it in a department store. Last year, some 50 years after I would have gone, I drove to the sight of the store on Michigan Avenue, but not much was left to see. The neighborhood, once a gem, has become the same shadowy memory that is mine of the area.
Ben Franklin in Riverdale on 144th Street

My family moved further south to Riverdale when I was five. The next department store that I came to love was the Ben Franklin on 144th Street. When I was young, we had an all-access pass to the community. We were free to go anywhere our legs or bikes could take us. Typically that meant that we would roll up to the park or go to the White Hen Pantry to buy a slushy if funds were available, which was a rare occurrence. But when I had a few more cents than normal, I couldn't wait to go into the Ben Franklin. I can remember that store so clearly with its array of trinkets and treasures. For whatever reason, and this is true today, one of my favorite aisles to shop was the office supply one. I loved to look at the pens, paper, clips- all of the little things that were so neatly ordered on the shelves. I used to dream of getting locked in to Ben Franklin and having to spend the night. I would plan out which aisle I would go to first and which aisle I would spend the most time in. I didn't think that I would ever sleep for the time it would take to investigate every aisle.

Not long after I began working at Marshall Field's, I was given more and more responsibility. I was a college graduate after all. Or maybe it was because I was just a natural at merchandising. My manager could just tell me where the boxes were and she knew that I would do my thing. I loved the challenge of organizing merchandise. The first department that I worked in was Accessories. In the summer, I would arrange hundreds of pairs of sunglasses on the towers and get every pair out. I can remember one display case that I was particularly proud of that contained expensive evening bags where I placed dress shoes to make the display show off the coordination of the two products. The bags sold out.

After a year of working in Accessories, I was offered the job of assistant manager for the dress department and The County Shop. My manager was an old stalwart who wasn't too happy to get me. While I was working at that store, I was trying to figure out my own style. Coming off college as a new waver, my hair and clothes were not, I can see know, quite appropriate for a suburban branch of an upscale retailer. But I had skills and someone was noticing it. Bernie, the manager, didn't want me around the dresses. The dress department in this particular branch had the highest dress sales in the company. I suppose not having any competition contributed to this. I was exiled to the Country Shop.

Beverly Miller
The County Shop was the life work of buyer Beverly Miller. For the Country Shop, she built a business whose base was Ralph Lauren. Then she layered it with her private label brand that was truly private label at its best. It was a luxury brand, not the nonsense that fills Macy's today with the likes of Alfani and Charter Club. It was an interesting post for me as I did not claim the polo/country club aesthetic for myself. Coming out of my punk phase, I had entered a French phase. I had my mother sew me a black skirt, I put on a black sweater, and I would layer resale purchased strands of pearls and gold chains. Chanel was my muse. Maybe that's why Bernie never liked me.

Or was it because I was good at my job. Miller put together a look book for The Country Shop every season. No expense was spared and the merchandise was lovingly shown on models in luxurious country surroundings, very like Ralph Lauren has become. I loved to work with the cashmere and woolens, layering them on the mannequins and working with the display department to make the shop look like one of the photographs in the look book. Bernie told me one day that the lady herself, Beverly Miller, was coming out for a visit, probably because sales were up. Instead of a "I got you" moment, Miller was impressed with how I was able to display her vision. We got on wonderfully.  And though the clothing was not for me, I appreciated it and treated it lovingly. Needless to say, I wasn't there long before I was called up the show: the downtown store.

And Ralph Lauren has been at it for 50 years. I still love to look at his look books or pages in fashion magazines. Ralph was in the game at the time that I worked at The Country Shop, but he wasn't where he is now. I wonder if Miller and he ever met? They seem so similar in their view of what the world should like. I have a couple of pieces of Ralph, but they aren't favorites. His cut is a mean one and very up and down when I need a little bit more forgiveness. But I love looking at the pictures. He's good for that. Miller? She always sold a good cut with luxury fabric. I remember a navy linen suit that I bought from one of her collections. It was one of my favorites, more so for having worked with her and seeing first hand her talent.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Celebrity Crush

Real Simple October 2018
Having started celebrity fascinations at the tender age of, I am guessing, 13, all that is presented in this article to defend this particular affliction makes sense to me.

1. "It's a breather from the real world:" ain't that the truth. I currently work in a county building and when I am not teaching, I am expected to sit in a dark, dirty, possibly vermin infested back room to collaborate with my colleagues, whom I am not particularly interested in collaborated with as my experience and educational philosophies differ from theirs enormously ... actually, my ideas about anything, for the most part, sets me apart from them. Plus, some aren't particularly forthcoming, so, as I breathe in the stale air and hope that I don't catch anything from any of the surfaces, I read I am not much of an Internet surfer, but for this site, I would be a little embarrassed if any checked how many times a day I take a look to see if anything new has come up in the day. Maybe the Princess, any number of them, has visited a school or hospital. What were they wearing? How did the people react? It is diverting. And in the end, I know way too much about what is going on with William and Kate, but that's okay. It's a brain break ... and I need a lot of those at my current place of employment.

2. "It can encourage you to help others:" this is certainly true for me. Bono, alone, encouraged me to do something in the world. I think that I possess that gene already, but were it not for him, I wouldn't have done Habitat for Humanity builds in Chile and Botswana. When I dragged my butt through 26.2 miles of a marathon, I did it to raise money for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. In many small ways, I have often considered, what would Bono do? I'm teased endlessly for my love of him as it is misunderstood. For me, he is the rock star, yes- but he is also a point of light for me to believe in and he makes me want to be a part of building things up, not tearing them down. I am fully aware that he is human and imperfect as some like to remind me of occasionally, but I am too. And that's okay.

3. "It emboldens you to live your dream:" a few years ago, I saw the David Bowie exhibit at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art. Not knowing quite what to expect, I was blown away by it. I could've spent hours more in what was, to me, a visit into Bowie's creative mind. Aside from the fashion display and all of its Alexander McQueen wonderfulness, I was most impressed in the area that was devoted to Bowie's Berlin years. One of the exhibition pieces was a machine that Bowie would use to spark lyric ideas. Randomness can spark creativity. And that set me off to thinking. Recently, I've been immersed in Steve Perry's story- the Journey front man who walked away from it all and didn't sing for 20 years. To hear him talk about it is fascinating. I loved Steve Perry more than life itself during high school. I broke up with him in college for New Wave, but he's back, and I can see what I saw in him then and am glad that he's arrived to the now with a story that I understand about talent and creativity. I don't know if these stories help my dream as much as I see the struggle that they face in their creative lives, identify with it and feel encouraged to continue, in my own small way, my own creative pursuits.

4. "It can make you feel connected:" in the summer following sixth grade, I spent every day with the older girl a couple doors down. She had a good stereo and led me away from David Cassidy and introduced me to the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Who, among others. The Beatles, in particular, grabbed a hold of me deep. The first album that I bought with my own money was 'Abbey Road.'  We spend hours listening to her vinyl collection, and I clearly remember feeling my whole being opening up to receive all of the ideas and sounds that came in listening to the music. Going into seventh grade without my new friend who was in high school, I faced two lonely years of not fitting in and general awkwardness ... like most I imagine.  But I had the music. And I lived a full life whenever I listened to it or, even, thought about it. I started my subscription to Rolling Stone at that time. I don't even know if I was aware or savvy enough to fully comprehend everything that I read, but I felt that I was a part of the community, a part of something.

5. "It can help you pick up great style tips:" continuing on with my 13 year old self. I was such a dork, but the love that I had for the bands that I was listening to was so real. I didn't have a lot of clothes at that time and some of my pants, my mother had sewn me. I had one pair of light blue, elephant pant styled cotton pants that she had sewn for me that I took an embroidery needle to and embroidered the names of my favorite bands on the legs of the pants. I didn't quite pick up that style, but I was inspired and began to develop my own sense of it. I did have feathered hair like some of  my favorites, David Cassidy especially, but I'm not so sure that is how it went down. When Madonna came on the scene, I certainly went to the men's department and bought boxer shorts to wear as clothing. Thankfully, I don't have pictures of that! I can't even imagine. Since so much of fascination involves musicians, not actors, I don't know if I picked up style tips from them or their sound crated an impression which led me to create a style.  But I get this.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Luxury Linens

Victoria Magazine September 2018
I am sitting at my old desk, in its new place, waiting for Angel to arrive to repair the drywall in the ceiling of the room that I intend to arrange just as you see in the photograph. 

I have embarked on a new adventure ... having lived in the city, alone ... well, except for the couple of years that I lived with my sister, I have moved out to the suburbs to live with Mamasita, my mom. It is time to keep an eye on her and this is just of the ways of doing so in coordination with my other sister, who lives nearby. 

When considering the move, I thought to myself, as one would, I need to buy new bedding. And I want luxurious, soft, comforting, entangling things so as to create an oasis of calm for moments when I can be quiet and pretend that I still live alone in the old apartment on a somewhat quiet street in the thick of it all. The comforter that I had been using was nearly 30 years old. Thirty years old, you may wonder. In a former life, when I worked at Marshall Field's and at the beginning of the Super Sunday era. Traditionally, the store on State Street was closed on Sundays and opened late, until 7 p.m., twice a week. When the doors opened on Sunday, the sales were phenomenal and the crowds were insane. When this started, I managed several home store departments. I would place sale merchandise on tables down the aisles and some customers would come by and buy everything on the table. We would clear out our stockrooms not so much with merchandise that was damaged or poor sellers, but one of a kinds and often luxury goods ... in the beginning. It was on one of these early Sundays when I found my first luxury comforter set. It was from an Australian vendor that the department didn't stock ... sometimes buyers, who still worked in the building, would sell off samples on Super Sunday. As the years went on, the comforter became softer and finer than when I first put it on my bed. I was tempted many times to replace it because it was so old and a few times, a duvet covered it. But I created a story for it ... a great textile in a great house would lie on a bed for a century. What would possess me to replace this one. Of course, in reality, mine was just an old bedspread in a worn vintage apartment in an American city, not a great estate in the Cotswolds.

Sadly, Marshall Field's is gone. But I committed myself to finding the most luxurious bedding that money could buy, which, I might add, is no easy feat in the age of Amazon. But I found it ... in reality, I found layers of it ... sheets, blanket, pillows ... even a new mattress pad. And in going to paint, to layer the look even more, I found where the roof leak snuck in ... my bedroom ceiling. And so in warped speed, I have been quickly brought up to speed of what it means to be a homeowner. I'm not sure about it, but I've no other choice. It is insane how complicated it is to find someone to do the work. Angel came to me via a family connection. He's in there now cutting out the drywall and doing what he does. My linens, I imagine, are peeking out of their bags around the corner wondering if they are every going to get out of their plastic and on to the mattress. 

Soon, luxury, soon.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Serena Williams ... again

People Magazine

Serena is bringing me back to tennis. As a kid, I did have the chance to take tennis lessons with the park district. I was lucky enough to have a great coach, who really taught me the game. I can remember when I was beginning to be successful that I started to watch tennis on television. Born into a sports loving family, I was encouraged to watch ... and play. I bothered my mom to no end to help me out in buying a Chris Evert tennis racket. Ooooh, I wanted that racket. I can't even remember what kind of racket that I was playing with before I put my hands on that racket. It was probably bought at the local Value Village and was made of tin and fishing line. I know that my play elevated as soon as I put my hand around a grip that was sized for my hand. And I played with it through junior high and high school when I played for the school team. I brought it to college and took tennis as my PE requirement. And then, I sort of lost track of it.

I picked up a racket again many years later and graduated to a titanium delight that weighs nearly nothing and allows me to block the power shots that my niece drives at me across the net. She's a power house and were it not for the tennis elbow that plagues me, I would continue to play more than during our asphalt pick up games when she's in town. Perhaps because I have gotten the racket back in my hand, I have kept an eye on what is going on in professional tennis. In the past, I watched mostly men's tennis ... Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors, Ilie Nastase ... all of the old guys. I wanted the Evert  racket, but I watched the boyfriend (Jimmy Connors).

Well, we've come a long way baby. And little girls know that they need to take the gaze off of the men and find power in their own sex. And I'm reminded of this as I am fascinated by Serena Williams', not Roger Federer's, play. And with that, I have to wonder why tennis hasn't kept up with the movement that has picked me up. Becoming a mother aside, Serena has locked heads with the old tennis guard with what she wears to play. Wearing a compression catsuit to protect against blood clots, the French Tennis Federation President, Bernard Giudicelli, banned her from wearing them. He said that her appearance must "respect the game." I don't have much to say about that idiotic statement and belief, especially as athletes across the seasons have gone to more streamlined uniforms to enhance their performance. But Serena?  Girl, she figured it out. And what she did is pure sport.

For the 2018 US Open, Serena worked with Louis Vuitton's Virgil Abloh and Nike to give the French guy what he wants ... a tutu. In her first appearance at the tournament, she wore black. She came out of the tunnel in a leather coat and compression fish net stockings. Her shoes were bedazzled. And for each match she has twirled her way on to the court ... actually, she twirls at the end of winning each match so far ... but she arrives with her game face on and a fabulous defense, actually offensive, against the outdated, misogynistic malarkey that, apparently, tennis officials still hold dear.

They need to watch it ... cause girls run the world, and Serena is likely going to run them out of town ... or out to pasture, where they belong.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Rolling Stone Reimagined

Rolling Stone August 2018
'Rolling Stone' reimagined? Hm.

I picked up a Rolling Stone Magazine years ago after having not read it in twice as many more. It supplied, maybe, hours of relief on a long flight somewhere in the world. Once home, I immediately added it to the list of magazines that stuff my mail box every month.

One of the things that I always liked about the magazine was that it was a manageable, newspaper-like without the ink on my hands, periodical. I didn't have to read it like a book- the pages easily folded back so that I could read one page at a time. If needed, I could also fold it in half lengthwise to fit into a pocket. And all of this ease of use came with color and content.

Now ... what have they done with this reimagining? Made it harder to read, that's what I think. The cover and pages are stiff and the pages are larger, so I had to read it sitting down and on my pillow that I put on my lap for magazine reading ... especially when the magazines are like books. It will not easily travel with me that I am sure of. And in its bigness, the content looks smaller, and if you can see from the scan, mean, skinny lines, a stark contrast to the big, enclose content that I am meant to look at. I don't like it. And I found that I spent less time with it than I normally would have given the stiffness ... and since I can't fold it and put it in my pocket, it's off to the recycle.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Touched by Ghoul

www.touchedbyghoul .  photo by Poorie Koleyni
A Chicago band, Touched by Ghoul, opened for the Foo Fighters at Wrigley Field this week. They did a short set with another opening band playing after them. Oh, but what a set it was. Angela Mullenhour, the singer, came out with her big guitar, heidi braid, and Kate Spade-ish summer dress, opened her mouth- wide, and pulled the early evening crowd into the band's jam.

Song, song, song, little repartee, song. The band (Mullenhour, Andrea Bauer, Alex Shumard, and PaigeSandlin) played fast, tight, and pulled together. The sound of them blew me away. As it happens and with my poor hearing, I don't always capture song lyrics, but I get the sound. The urgency of the music and the humor that Mullenhour presented the lyrics brought me right into the songs in the first listen. Now as I'm listening to them on YouTube, I already feel like they are old friends. If I had to describe their style, I would say that they are punk. But they are fresh and more modern that what would've gone as punk in the past. But when the songs end ... on a dime ... on a pin ... however you say it, it's punk. And when they left the stage, I was sad that they didn't play more, especially when the Breeders came out with an incoherent, disjointed performance.

I give it to the Foo Fighters for highlighting a local band. I'm disappointed that when I look them up for future Chicago appearances, any appearances, they don't seem to be playing anywhere. That's too bad. I think that they underestimated their own power to pull in Foo Fighter fans, who probably aren't as likely to go punk.

I am enthralled.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

U2 2018 Experience + Innocence Tour

Rolling Stone October 5, 2017
I seemed to have lost track of the more recent article that had a review of the current tour: U2 2018 Experience + Innocence Tour, which had Adam Clayton saying that if fans wanted to hear the old stuff, they should have gone to the "Joshua Tree" 30-year anniversary tour, which went around last year. In this new show, the new songs were on the menu with none of the songs from that album.

I attended both nights in Chicago for both shows- old and new. And as great as it was to hear "Joshua Tree" played in the album's order at Soldier Field on two lovely Chicago summer evening, I have to say that the show that reminded me of what U2 is all about was the more recent one.

Naturally, I was well rehearsed in the new material as I had it on repeat in heavy rotation to learn every song. I have probably listened to album in its entirety a hundred times ... easily. And two months after I saw it performed live, I'm still listening to it. I find their songs, like good poetry or fiction, is so layered that it takes many listens to get through them all. A song that seems so basic and straightforward, on its 20th listen, becomes something else. That's always the case for me with this band. I remember the first time that I heard "Who'd Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses" from "Achtung Baby" I giggled. And my sister and I would shout out the chorus in a sort of comedy show, but ... on examination and after many listens, my tune has changed on that song. Some times that I am so excited for new music from a band that when I first hear it, I don't really hear it. I am overwhelmed with giddy excitement, which drowns out the intended meaning of what the song will become for me.

In this articles, RS  writer Andy Greene reports that Edge said: "We need to make sure that we are part of a current conversation in music culture in terms of production and songwriting, melodic structure ... we don't want to be perceived as - and we don't want to sound like - a veteran act out of touch with where the culture is ... it's a balance." I understand that RS is biased when it comes to U2 ... what are they ever going to say something bad about U2? But from the horse's mouth, the Edge, I think that I can confirm that what he's talking about is at the heart of why U2 continues to make relevant music thirty years into it. So many bands by this time have moved into a comfortable groove of what they know best, but that isn't how U2 rolls. I remember once hearing Bono say that he is as uncomfortable as comfortable being in a revival tent. Sure, this is out of context, but that he is okay with being uncomfortable tells us where his head is at. The band's life seems to be born from the uncomfortable and that has let them continue to evolve as a band. You can count on them for their 'wall of sound,' but it is their adventurous drive to grow still that sets them apart from the rest ... and in my wholly biased opinion, I do mean the rest.

And they have come and gone through my town. I was lucky enough to see them perform both nights. The experience is a blur ... it seemed to have happened so fast, and I sort of want another chance to see the show. Twice wasn't enough to get over the giggles from the excitement of seeing them on stage and get down to the business of peeling through the layers. God, I'd make a horrible critic. I could not watch just once to find the heart of it all.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The Met Gala

And the winner is ... Greta Gerwig. 

After I spent too much of my day analyzing the gowns worn at this year's Met Gala, I have chosen Gerwig's look as my favorite. All day, I imagined the images flashed before me as I nodded- yes, no, yes, no. Most of the nods, I fear, were no's. Too many women wore what they typically wear. Whether is was extravagant, skin baring or artful, the ladies showed up in the same ole, same ole ... just a different color. 

When I was looking at the bird cage on the head ... er, nativity scene, I thought what the lady in question should be wearing is black- head to toe and severe. Punk in its absence of form or function. David Byrne punk. Larger than life. Body-less. Too many of the women who wore skin grazing silks were neither, in my estimation, "heavenly bodies" nor of "the Catholic imagination," which was the theme for this year's Met Ball. What they looked like was the stereotypical 'sexy witches' that every teenage girl across America has thought was a good idea for a Halloween costume. Oh, I am not kidding about that. Once I volunteered to be a part of a haunted house for a good friend of mine who would organize one for his church. It was very un-church like as it was truly a haunted house wherein the Grim Reaper, my friend, would guide ticket payers through a maze of one grizzly scene after the next. He had asked me to be a witch, who would stir the potions of bone and spider in a giant paper mache cauldron that he had crafted and built into it a fog machine that made it particularly spooky. He had asked several of the teen aged girls from the church to dress up as witches to work with me in stirring the brew and spooking the crowd. Naturally, the girls showed up all vamped up. That was a day working with those teenagers and their their sexy witchiness when we were meant to be scary. 

That's how I felt this year's Met Ball went. All of the models and personalities and actresses sexed themselves up when it was meant to, in my opinion, represent the severity of what can be the costumes of Catholicism. But Greta Gerwig, she got the message. And for me, she stood out as severe, punk and ... dare I say, sexy. Covered from head to toe is looseness, with a wonder of what was beneath the folds of that silk taffeta.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Jean Grae and Quelle Chris

Rolling Stone Magazine April 19 - May 3, 2018
This regular column, "The Playlist," I always check out because I find gems like Jean Grae and Quelle Chris. I listened to the recommended song, "Breakfast of Champions," but found the song, not video, on YouTube. I checked out one of their other videos, "Gold Purple Orange," and I became an InstaFan. They are so freakin' groovy. You H-A-V-E to give them a listen. While I was texting the link to my nephew, who shares the same musical sensibility, I got caught on just this jam. As it winds to an end of a long 7 minute video, one of their bros busts in to be in the video. I laughed out loud because I have a friend who likes to bust out his guitar and 'ting ting ting.' He wears a white robe and his Ray Bans ... he's be the old man that would fit right in to this scene.

Next, the YouTube gifted me with CZARFACE & MF DOOM's "Bomb Thrown" Czar face meets Metal face. I am not going to claim any real knowledge of this genre, but CZARFACE sounds to be like a better JayZ. This also has a retro vibe .... very spacey. I'm not a cartoon or Marvel sort of person, but I appreciate the graphics of the video. It all makes me want to put on a pair of go-go boots and groove out.

And the gift kept giving ... next on the play list that was sent to me by my new favorite friends YT, Moonchild's "The List." My sister and her kids travel a lot for soccer, and my nephew makes 'mixtapes.' When they are driving home late at night, he has a cool jams vibe mix that he likes to play to unwind from a hectic day. Yeah, he's 17, and he has a cool jams vibe mixtape ... well, I sent this to him because it would fit right into it. I'm not sure that I could listen to a whole album of Miss Moonchild in an evening, but I certainly can seeing peppering her calm into a rotation of other.

The last, and really I have to stop watching YT, is The Avalanches "Because I'm Me." Just watch it ... it's delightful. Boy meets girl, girl plays coy and it is all works out in the subway. And the boy is played by a young one, who could be Michael Jackson back in the day, but is his own self quite confidently as he moon dances and sings to capture a heart. It's beautiful.

That's all for my report tonight ... I could spend all night listening to what is the best of the Internet- an opportunity for artists to reach out to find listeners on a Monday night when said listener should be doing the dishes.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Adam Rippon

It was difficult squeezing Mr. Adam onto this blog page. I had wanted to present it in the same manner as the magazine centerfold that he is in this month's InStyle magazine, but technology prohibited me ... or rather, my inexpertise at manipulating pictures on this platform. As I look at what I've settle on, I like it. I see 'wonder' as Adam stretches out from the page; and boy, his torso as it bends back is stunning- nearly Nureyev-like.

Lately, I have had an ongoing conversation, mostly with myself, that in my profession, teaching, the practice of it could be rated, or scored, similarly to ice skating. I started to think of this while I watched this year's Olympics and the explosion of Adam Rippon across the ice. He is not considered, technically, the best skater. The American, Nathan Chen, performed 6 quads (quadruple jumps, which is 4 full rotations in one jump) in his final skate. He did not win the gold medal as he performed poorly in his short program, but the 6 quads were athletically and technically, amazing. His artistry ... well, I found him to be stiff and robotic in the part of the program that makes skating elegant, beautiful, and emotional.

Adam's programs, the long and the short, were some of the best skating at the Olympics that I've seen. He is so beautiful as he moves across the ice. His performance was dramatic and compelling. Ah, but he didn't attempt any quads ... he didn't even plan to do a quad. He landed all of this triples, but that put him behind the leaders; even though, a few of them fell in their skates.

So I got to thinking about that and what I do. I work with a woman, who like Chen, can land the quads. Technically, she is perfect- planned, scoped, sequenced. But the artistry? I wouldn't want to be a student in her classroom. Her execution is stiff, robotic, and flat. I'd rather be a Adam than a Chen. I want to be captivating, fluid, and showing my students that I love what I do! Technically, I'm solid, and I'll land all the triples in the world, but their 'ease' will not jeopardize the effectiveness of the artistic presentation.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

James Norton

Vogue March 2018
Grantchester is one of my favorite BBC crime dramas. Set in the idyllic English town of the same name during the 1950's, the handsome and vulnerable vicar drinks whiskey, smokes and listens to jazz while he struggles the balance of being a vicar and a man who loves his best friend, who has married her father's choice. Well, that was a mouthful! But it's all there in Grantchester. Another of the story lines that is charming is of his curate Leonard. Social awkward and gay, he finds a home in the vicarage of James Norton's character. The sensitive vicar is the best ally to assist poor Leonard in his battle against himself to live, as Oprah would say, his best life.

Norton was also in the series "Happy Valley," a real copper show that has him as an evil, criminal creating havoc in another English village. He's brilliant in the show, however, the true star is the female copper, Catherine Cowood, played by Sarah Lancashire. She's a ball buster make no mistake about it. And she's not a lot of what is typical in an American crime drama. Catherine is of a certain age, wears a uniform (not stilettos and mini skirts), and is so not perfect. I happened to catch a rerun of "Elementary," the American television show that stars  Johnny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes and Lucy Lui as his Watson. I have enjoyed the show in the past but while watching it again, I remembered that I was always thrown off by considering what Lucy Lui was wearing on the show. I didn't care for her style, and it was haute, and the shoes! What gum shoe could work for real with that get up.

And for this reason, I prefer BBC crime and detective series. Not only for the costumes, but for the fact that the producers of those shows are not ageist. Surely, some of the characters, like Grantchester, are handsome, but you are more likely to see a normal person play the role. And the normal person may even be over forty! I notice it. And I have to wonder, is it the creators or the audience that dictates this? Can Americans watch normal people act in television shows? Or is the American public so brainwashed by what I might call the 'Kardashian Effect' that they are only happy with what isn't really very ... real. An American crime show that I also liked was "Castle." My mom turned me on to it when we traveled together a few years ago. I liked the chemistry of the two main characters, and the sidekicks were pretty handsome, but Kate Beckett (Stana Katic), the detective in the series, always wore the most improbable shoes for someone who may have to chase a perpetrator down an alley. It distracted from the criminal aspect of the show.

I'm looking forward to another season of Grantchester. Apparently, it will be James Norton's last, which is too bad. He has apparently gone on to another show and possible, James Bond. Such is life as our own become everyone else's as well. I'm not too worried ... I know that the BBC, of whom I trust for the best in mystery and crime, has something else coming along for me to watch.

Monday, April 9, 2018


Harper's Bazaar April 2018
A couple of days ago, I listened to David Bowie's "Blackstar." I know the album in its entirety well as I listened to it on repeat for many months after it was released ... and after Bowie had died. I wondered then and still do if he purposefully began, especially, "Tis a Pity She's was a Whore" with a breath. And not just an ordinary breath, but a huge pull from the diaphragm breath that suggests that he was readying himself, gearing up, to breath at all. The album is probably my favorite of Bowie's, and it is made the more so in knowing that it was Bowie's last and for the fact that he certainly did not go gently into that good night. He lived ... and breathed ... until his last breath.

Seeing Iman in Bazaar right after that listen is almost unsettling. And I wonder if she catches herself listening to his breath? If I were her, I don't know if I would be able to listen to anything else.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Spring Sneaker Look

Harper's Bazaar April 2018

Two years ago, in March, I was out on a lunchtime walk when I hit a patch of black ice. One foot went forward when the other went back putting me down on the pavement in splits. When I was going down, I heard a snap, but it all happened so quickly that I didn't remember that moment until months later. Lying on the ground in pain, I wondered how I was ever going to get up off of the ice and back to work. I was walking along a quiet, residential street, and no one was around to help me up. It took a minute, but I was able to stand and limp back to the building. The next morning, I was stiff. Two days later, my right ankle swelled up, and I couldn't walk on it. I called in sick and went to the doctor. Naturally, as the appointment was later in the afternoon, my ankle unswelled, and I was able to walk in the doctor's office. He told me on my reporting that I had probably suffered a mild sprain.  Many months later, realizing that something was not quite right, I decided to go to an orthopedic surgeon. He told me that I had probably tore one of the ligaments in my foot which supported my arch, which he could fix with surgery and up to a year recovery. When I went to the MRI appointment and was nearly situated on the shelf to go in, I backed out. Shouldn't it hurt more? Shouldn't I be completely unable to walk if my foot/ankle is so bad? Nah, I can't do what he was suggesting. The fellow, who saw me first, explained about the arch, ankle, calf connection and hoped for me that I could avoid surgery and work to improve the strength of the ankle and calf to support the fallen arch. I decided to follow his program and have worked for the last year and a half to do just that. 

One of the major adjustments that I have had to make is my shoe apparel. Especially for that first year, I could not put a heel on. It was just too painful. I wore my joggers to work for a couple of months, but soon began picking up fashion sneakers to wear. I've always been a dress and heel wearer to work, so it was a major move for me. I had started a new job, and no one there knew that I wore heels because, especially in the beginning, I only ever wore my New Balance. But as I started to rock the more fashiony footwear, my colleagues began to take notice. I started the trend of rocking a Michael Kors slip on sneaker with my already existing wardrobe of dresses. Hey, if Victoria Beckham can step out in sneakers with fashion, why can't I? 

It's been two years now, and (knock on wood) my arch and ankle are much stronger and not nearly as painful. I've even been able to wear a stacked heal in a boot, which leads me to believe that I will be able to go to a heel ... for special occasions. This page from Harper's Bazaar reminded me of my new look ... a sneaker and a skirt. It's interesting how this forced changed has sort of given me a new clothes personality. In Spring purchasing, I've been looking for ... well, cool sneakers to wear with a new dress that I've bought for Spring. 

The sneaker has put a new lightness to my step that has moved up to my way of thinking.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Jesus Christ Superstar

Last week, a woman at work said that she's been a fool for love many times. It was like a dare to me and, not one to turn away from a dare, I told her that I could do better, many times over. Naturally, she challenged me. I decided to go easy on some of the really silly things that I've done when it has come to love and picked a fairly pedestrian tale.

A few years ago, I  went with a group of friends to watch a screening  of the original "Jesus Christ Superstar" film. When I was hanging out with the Doyle girls down the block when I was in junior high school (I have spoken of several times as the catalyst for my love of music), we listened to the  "Jesus Christ Superstar" album in their basement a lot. I don't know quite know how to explain this, but the music and movie, which I had watched with them, sort of scared me. Well, maybe not scared, but definitely haunted me. Today, I still can't figure out what that was, but I can remember it as if I were 12 and feeling the uneasy feeling that I had while listening. As an adult, reintroduced to the film and music, I was mesmerized once again.

After seeing the movie, I couldn't get the song, "I Don't Know How to Love Him," out of mind. Besotted at the time with what would prove to an inconvenient, more unavailable, man, I found the song to express exactly how I felt. And I needed to tell him ... I always need to tell man how I feel whether he wants to hear it or not ... which is a charm, so. Always putting hair brained schemes into action, I burned the song, just the one song, to a CD and mailed it to him. I may have written a note that read: listen to this. Apparently, when he received and opened it, he did. And he did so in front of his college aged son, who wondered what it was all about. When I asked him if he has received the package, he said something to affect of 'what the hell' and 'my son thinks that you're nuts.' That was not quite the response that I was looking for. If only I had been embarrassed. I wasn't. I expressed exactly what I had intended. The act made me happy.

The woman at work listened to my story and said, 'well, you were a lot younger, right?' Oh, no. This happened just a few years ago. And that is just the start of me and my bright ideas to express my love to the men that I love. Compared to her story, I was the clear winner. And I didn't even have to try very hard.

And this weekend, I was able to see most of the live "Jesus Christ Superstar" broadcast. My favorite song ... "I Don't Know How to Love Him." Not Mary Magdalene's singing of it; rather, Judas. I'm still on my "Call Me By Your Name" kick and was more moved by a boy singing it to Jesus than a girl. Wow. I get it.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Call Me By Your Name

Call Me By Your Name

Oliver leaves Elio.

I was late to all of the Oscar nominated or buzzed about films this year and have been catching up. It was, in my estimation, a good year for movies. This one, "Call Me By Your Name," devastated me and brought to surface memories that when called are as fragile and raw as it appears to be for Elio here in this frame from the movie as he clutches at his throat because, obviously, his heart has moved there and no words are expressed as Oliver climbs on to the train to leave Italy. Leaving him behind.

When I first saw the movie, I was distracted. I saw the novel that the film was based on in the store and picked it up. It wrapped around me and made me feel like I was writhing in deep, warm, sea water- drowning, but quite alive at the same time. The novel moves beyond the film in time, so I read the ending twice. In the same day. And as soon as I had the chance, I watched the movie, alone, for a second time and am left wondering how many times it will take to the point that I can't watch it anymore.

Sometimes, movies, small, quiet ones, capture me and hold on through several viewings until I am able to walk away from them. When I first saw Parker Posey's "Broken English," I watched it on three successive evenings. One, I love Parker Posey. Two, a Frenchman was involved. And three, a trip to Paris ensued. The quiet of the film allowed for the character, Nora, to explore the general malaise that she felt and the disappointment in not fulfilling what she thought was to be her life by the deadline that many of us impose upon ourselves. Nora's inner dialogue that runs through the movie could be what goes through mine on any given day. Nora figures it out. And lucky for her that the figuring had something to do with a Frenchman and Paris. If only!

Another small, quiet movie that I got caught up in recently was "Sophie and the Rising Sun," which was set in a beautifully filmed South Carolina circa 1941. Sophie is adrift, without family or opportunity, and crabs to make ends meet. She is an artist and paints the gardens that are prolific in her small town.  A Japanese-American man comes to town under mysterious circumstances, and Sophie is drawn to him. Theirs is a bittersweet story- two vagabonds who do not fit into the lives that have been given to them. Fortunately, the sun rises and they find each other. The cinematography is stunning. And their quiet passion is heartening. I watched it three nights in a row.

And now for Oliver and Elio. I know this scene at the train station- leaving, separating, not knowing if or even when they'll ever physically be in the same place, understanding that emotionally, they'll never part. Their youth and the overwhelming surprise that love could take over every cell in one's body makes for the perfect storm of joy, grief, and wonder. It reminds me of the boy I loved, love, who would take me to the airport after heady days of wandering around his city, each other, in quiet and not so sure how to be together. On leaving, he would buy me magazines and gum, stick a twenty in my pocket, and my heart would swell one hundred times its size, catching in my throat blocking words. I wonder about the people who would sit next to me on the plane and how they felt about having this huge, blubbering heart sitting in such close proximity. Of course, this may be why this film resonates with so many. Who hasn't had their heart swell so large that words could not express its feelings. Oh, Elio. And Oliver ... I'll certainly watch this film again ... and again.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Serena Williams

Vogue February 2018
Perhaps, the cover of Serena Williams for Vogue would have more appropriate for March, not February, so as to celebrate Women's History Month. Clearly, she is representative of what has become the real struggle for women today- balancing a career and family, especially when one's career is at its pinnacle and the baby comes, and for Serena, changes the game for Serena's continued dominance on the tennis court. How can a baby not change the psyche and certainly, the body of an elite athlete. The wonder will become not how many grand slam titles Serena won before now, but how she won them after when she's had to regroup, retrain, and figure out to be selfish in her pursuit while being selfless in her new role as a mother.

The key to her and what is provocative to me is this from this article: "'I remember ow stressed I was about getting to Grand Slam number eighteen, tying Chrissie and Martina," she says. "I had lost every Grand Slam that year. I was in the U.S. Open, and Patrick [Mouratoglou], my coach, said, 'Serena, this doesn't make sense. You're so stressed about eighteen. Why not 30? Why not 40?' For me, that clicked. I won eighteen, nineteen, and 20 right after that. Why would I want to stand side by side when I can stand out on my own? I think sometimes women limit themselves. I'm not sure why we think that way, but I know that we're sometimes taught to not dream as big as men, not to believe we can be a president or a CEO, when in the same household, a male child is told he can be anything he wants. I'm so glad I had a daughter. I want to teach her that there are not limits."

I can identify with her coming to the realization that she needed to focus beyond the immediate goal of achieving someone else's record when her conditioning, practice, and dominance suggested that she could far surpass the records. And she did. But her limits ... I suggest that we have put 'man limits' on us when we need to determine what the limit or expectation or expanded goal should be based on what it is to be a woman in the pursuit. Raised in the era when the movement took a real hold on society, I was raised to believe that I could do anything that a man could do. The only limits that I had were socio-economic, which is another argument, but I was able to achieve, within my group, anything that the boys did. I suppose that was the first step, but as time moves forward and more girls are are doing just that and surpassing them in many ways, I think that it is time to stop comparing ourselves to boys and work it out for ourselves as girls. And girls alone. Not the same as boys.  Or better than boys. As we are.

Serena is the greatest. And now, she'll show us how great she is as she climbs back to the level of play that she beat everyone with. I expect that this period of her career will be her biggest challenge and her greatest.

Monday, March 26, 2018


Elle March 2018

These are the best pages in a rather standard issue March edition. Miss Coco is soooo fash-on at only seven. Her parents own a vintage store in Japan's Harajuku district, so Coco has been raised in the store, which to me seems only fitting that she has absorbed the vibe of her playpen to make a distinct statement of her own. My sister's eldest children, in particular, were raised in their physician father's office and want to be doctors themselves, so why wouldn't this tiny tyke not take on fashion as she lives among it. As customers noticed Coco's bold choices, her parents created an Instagram account for her which now has 432,000 followers. Noted in the article that part of her success is in the Japanese's own obsession with 'tiny houses, tiny food, and toddlers in tiny versions of Oscar gowns.'

My youngest niece is now nearly 14- about twelve years ago when she must have been about 2, we traveled to  Lake Louise, Canada. On a snowy afternoon, grandma and I stuffed her in her red snowsuit for a walk around the lake. She was quite confident and navigated the snow packed path well. Along the route, two young men, who were Japanese, stopped us and asked if they could take her picture. I didn't mind, and she was unaware. Of course, huge lenses came out and they 'snap, snap, snapped' her like fiends. It was so strange ... but my niece was adorable and her dark hair was cut similarly to Coco's here. My niece also had beautiful, slightly coco tinted skin that was flawless. I supposed at the time that the guys thought that she looked like an anime character. Because she did ... look like an anime character.

Of course, little Coco here is beyond that ... 

Sunday, March 25, 2018

God Awful Small Affairs

Driving home late on a Sunday evening, the radio played a song, "Persephone," by the Chicago band "God Awful Small Affairs." I liked it. I liked it so much that I was able to remember the band's name and song title forty-five minutes later when I arrived home. The DJ of the new music hour, found the band on Sound Cloud, where I was able to find them. The band lists themselves as 'femme-fatale space rock,' and I saw somewhere that they also identify as folkish. I like the sound, but my thought isn't so much about them as it is about radio.

A week ago, I happened to catch the last broadcast of The Loop, a rock station staple in the Chicago market for more years than most would imagine, before it moved to a Christian rock station. I was surprised by this as I had not read anything about the sale, new ownership, or change of format previous to listening to the last show. And since then, I have read that many radio stations in this market and across the country are struggling to continuing to make it. Apparently, the various and assorted platforms for streaming has severely impacted the economic viability of traditional radio. The country is getting Pandora'd. And, to me, that is bad news. I don't mind listening to streaming radio ... I have friends who regularly listen to this or that band station. The choices pulled to support the selection of one band makes sense and is easy to listen to for a couple of hours.

But how will one find NEW music?

I still listen to CDs in my car. When I get an album, okay ... CD, I listened to it over and over so as to get to know it. In the fall, I was heavy on repeat of LCD Soundsystem. And when U2 released "Songs of Experience" on December 1, I've not listened to much else for 3 months. It was just a matter of time until I would be comfortable enough to pull away from that one CD to see what else was going on. I moved to the radio. And I don't listen to one station ... I listen to many. I'm always looking for the next obsession, I suppose. When I did this, I found God Awful Small Affairs. This band doesn't have a release, except for the seven songs on Sound Cloud. How would I have heard of them if not for the radio program that focused on new music/sound that was sent in by local bands.

I know that my nephew is big into seeking out new music on YouTube, but I wonder how he does that? Or has the time to surf it. The car is the perfect place to find it, especially as I live in a big city and always seem to find traffic. Listening to the radio was the activity for the car, and it was the reliable outlet to find new music.

It's a god awful state of affairs ... everything is changing, and I wonder to what good- especially in this respect.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Kobe Bryant's "Dear Basketball"

I didn't pay attention when Kobe Bryant retired from the NBA. I am a Chicago fan. I lived wonderfully through many magical seasons of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. I think that I'm good for NBA basketball after that experience. Sure, I catch some of the games, and I pay attention to what the Chicago Bulls are doing by reading the newspaper. Honestly, my impression of Bryant was never a very good one.

But he won an Oscar for Best Short Animation. I had no idea. I had to check it out.

I teach boys. Boys who dream of bigger and better, but the world seems to have forgotten them and left them behind without any intention of picking them up in the draft ... of life. And that's devastating because I have found them to be so much like any other boys that I have taught in my career who, unfortunately, live a step away from anything that could pull them in. In class, we have just finished reading John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. Most of the boys have never read a book in its entirety, and we do have to read aloud to capture the range of levels in the classroom, but the strategies that I employ for students to analyze the novel are rigorous. I taught if for the first time last year to a different group of guys, and I was surprised at the end of the novel when we watched the film version (a treat for having finished the book) when they yelled out when John Malkovich and Gary Sinise first appear on the screen, "We thought that they were black!" And we did talk at length about the norm of racism in America at that time even though it takes place in California, not the South, and they knew that the character Crooks is black and not allowed to live in the bunk for that reason. Though he's not supposed to, Lennie visits Crooks in his room when the guys have gone out because he is lonely. Lennie doesn't know that as a white man, he's not to enter the black man's space. My students know this, but they still identified the main characters as black. They see the struggle and relate to it. This year's group had the same reaction.

Which brings me to Kobe's poem. The Principal visited our class to observe my co-teacher. The kids, as usual, were engaged and dynamic. The co-teacher wanted to treat them because they made him look good. We can't do cookies or much else. I don't want to play an hour of Chief Keef music videos on YouTube, which I could probably do, so I looked to Kobe.

And he was more than I could imagine a Los Angelas Laker to be. He articulated his dream of basketball and the respect and love that he has for the game ... for himself ... so beautifully. The boys hadn't heard of it, which was so surprising as they all follow the NBA and wishfully think that they too could be NBA players even though the odds are against them even graduating from high school, some even elementary school. I've printed out the poem to bring to class tomorrow. Often, I have the boys write their version of the story like they did with the dream that Lennie and George have in the novel. So many of their dreams are not about living off 'the fatta the land,' but getting out of Chicago and being safe. With Kobe's poem, I want them to think about what their 6-year old selves dreamt about ... if they can remember it. Maybe, in recalling it, they can find it again and the strength to conquer the mountain that is in front of them to find their 'fatta of the land' and a place where "I never saw the end of the tunnel/ I only saw myself/ Running out of one," as Kobe writes.

Monday, March 12, 2018

France is Putting the Cork in Wine?

Chicago Tribune 11 March 2018
The minister of health in France is campaigning to point out the health risks of wine. I've nearly spit out my coffee while I was reading this Sunday's paper when I stumbled across this article. So few things in this world today are sacred ... common sense, inclusion, fair and equal ... and the government, a foreign one albeit, wants to suggest that wine is bad. Zut Alors! I need that wine because we've lost common sense, abhor inclusion, and have lost fair and equal in a bombastic political environment that is our country, and we need our wine. Let me correct this ... we need our FRENCH wine. Although, maybe there would be more for us if the French didn't drink as much of their own wine. That's a thought ...

According to the article, "President Emmanuel Macron begs to differ [with the minister of health]. Macron reassured his compatriots that he enjoys wine every day with lunch and dinner and that, yes, there is a difference between wine and other types of booze." Whoa. Wine with lunch? Sometimes, I need to have a glass of wine with lunch before I go back into the classroom, but I'm not sure that would be very prudent. Are the French drinking too much wine after all? According the article, the French consume, on average, 3.2 gallons of "pure alcohol" per year; whereas, Americans drink far less at 2.4 gallons annually. I was surprised by this number for the sheer number of beer advertisements that show up on television or are plastered on billboards across the city. I don't ever see the same proliferation of wine ads slapped across the French landscape, thank goodness. But, apparently, the French do not need suggestion to fill their gullet with the perfect way to consume a grape. Vive la France!

In the end, do you know what's really interesting ... Russians consume 4 gallons of alcohol a year on average. No wonder that Putin is nuts. He's drunk.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Mavis Staples

Rolling Stone Magazine 8 March 2018
Mavis Staple is a national treasure.

From the interview: "Then there's "that filthy man in the White House": "I don't see no good in him. And the children, his boys, are snakes, you can tell. It's like Satan is in the White House. The first thing you wanna do is stop immigrants from coming to the United States? He's against women. He treats ladies like nothing. He's worse than any president I've ever seen. I mean, we did John F. Kennedy's inauguration - that's how long I been here!"

I'm with you, sister.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Yacht Rock

Rolling Stone Magazine 8 March 2018
While getting my haircut last year, the stylist talked to me about Yacht rock. He was planning on going to a Yacht rock cover band on the weekend. I had never heard of the expression before, so he explained that it was the category for bands like the Doobie Brothers, Hall & Oats, Kenny Loggins, and the like. I knew who all of those were and heard them play on the radio when I was growing up, but I didn't know that they were a thing. The stylist told me to check out parody videos of the genre on YouTube ... and I did. They are pretty hysterical ... and if you were alive during the seventies and listened to any of the afore mentioned bands, you will know all of the players. I recommend watching with a group of friends and having a good time. Check out the "Yacht Rock HD" videos by Hunter Stair on Phillip Mills YouTube channel.

Here, in Rolling Stone Magazine this week, Andy Greene reviews a new book, "The Yacht Rock Book," which has just been published. He writes: "In the late 1970s, there wasn't a name for the smooth, AM-friendly music made by the likes of Hall and Oats ... But a series of viral videos retroactively dubbed it "yacht rock," as it appealed to a very white, upscale audience and an odd number of songs had nautical themes." The forward was written by Fred Armisen, of Portlandia among other things, who said, "It's amazing this style came to be ... it must take an incredible amount of restraint to play that gently."

I am sitting here sort of musing at the attention that has been paid to this ... the songs are part of the soundtrack of my youth, but I wasn't a huge fan and couldn't tell you that the audience was upscale ... I was just a kid listening to a portable radio. And the nautical theme? I guess that I am going to listen to some of those albums to test the theory out. It just cracks me up.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Robert Plant

Rolling Stone Magazine 5 October 2017
I saw Robert Plant a couple of years ago in Chicago. I have been a fan of Led Zepplin since I was 12 or 13 years old. I had older neighbor girls who I spent a summer with before I started high school. Both of their parents worked, so we spent the whole of that summer listening to albums on their excellent turntable. It was there that I was introduced to rock music: Zeppelin, the Who, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and the rest of the 70's greats. I should say that the one band that made the biggest impression on me that they introduced me to was the Beatles, but that is for another time.

One moment that always comes back to me is the one morning that I walked over in my shorts and t-shirt and Zeppelin's Immigrant Song was at high volume as I approached their screen door. Oh, the sound of it was ... haunting and seemed to come from a far away place where I needed to be. We were deep enough into the seventies that Zeppelin didn't tour very much, but the girls took me to a couple of Super Bowl of Rock events at Soldier Field where I saw Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Frampton during his Comes Alive tour, and Black Sabbath .. among others.

A few years back, I started to hang out with another set of friends who brought Zeppelin back into my orbit, and I saw the film The Song Remains the Same for the first time. Not 13 anymore, I had a new appreciation for the band, especially Robert Plant. Man oh man. Long before boy bands and accessible kind of girly singers like, oh, I don't now ... Bieber in his young years or a Harry Styles, who were/are cute, but aren't going to do anyone any harm in their masculine prowess. Ah, but Robert Plant ... he may have been wearing a girly, chiffon top in the scenes from the Madison Square Garden concert that is played during the film, but he is a hot, sexually provocative M-A-N. I didn't even see it at 13, but the age I am now .... WOWSA.

So there I am on the lakefront in Chicago to see Mr. Sex, and I was thrilled when he sang Zep. The rest of it? I could do without. He's a tease. And he barks about not going back to the band, and I say nuts to that. If we have to put up with ... oh, the hundred of other acts who should have retired long ago and save themselves the trouble of being has been'd, I think that Plant and Page could still be giving us the opportunity to transcend.

'Tis a pity he's a ... whore, is the Bowie song, but, in this case, he's the anti-whore. And I would like him a little more dirty.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Oprah and What She Knows for Sure

Oprah Magazine August 2017
Oprah was on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Monday night to talk about her new film A Wrinkle in Time. Naturally, Colbert was more interested in talking to her about whether she plans to run for President in 2010. She told him that she has a strong sense of herself, or something to that effect, and would know if that was something that she should do. So far, nothing. Colbert pressed and established that he heard that she was waiting for a sign from God. God, if you didn't know, lives in Colbert's studio and is a reoccurring comedy bit. Colbert made sure that God knew that Oprah was going to be on the show, and he showed up to make a plea to her to run for President.

I'm not so sure that running for President would be in Oprah's best interest, however, I don't think that it is a bad idea. Oprah has shown that she can attract a big audience, a really big audience. An audience that Trump could only dream to have. And if I'm not mistaken, hers was an audience that crossed states, color, economic, and every other level or difference that can only be represented by the U.S. I think that she could win with the power of her reach. Her brand only grows stronger ... someone at work thought that it might be a bad idea because it would expose the skeletons in her closet. I laughed out loud and said to the speaker, 'are you kidding me? She's exposed everything about herself on her show, in her appearances, in her magazine, and through Gayle.'

I was sorry that I never saw the taping of her show here in Chicago. But I continue to subscribe to her magazine. I don't love all of it, but there's enough in it each month to keep me interested. I've talked before of the no nonsense advice that Martha Beck gives readers, and I've found favorite things from Oprah's list. And sometimes, at the very end, she writes about what she knows for sure, and this one pictured gave me pause. I've carried it around for over six months. The theme: letting go. The message is not hers, it is Eckhart Toille's, but she brings it out for all of us to see. I'll transcribe the story of two Zen monks for you to consider:

"Tanzan and Ekido ... were walking along a country road that had become extremely muddy after heavy rains. Near a village, they came upon a young woman who was trying to cross the road, but the mud was so deep , it would have ruined the silk kimono she was wearing. Tanzan at once picked her up and he carried her to the other side.

The monks walked on in silence. Five hours later, as they were approaching the lodging temple, Ekido couldn't restrain himself any longer. "Why did you carry that girl across the road?" he asked. "We monks are not supposed to do things like that."

"I put the girl down hours ago," said Tanzan. "Are you still carrying her?"

At the time that I read this, I was thinking of someone else for whom this story would resonate. And now, for me, it is a good reminder as I am presently working with a difficult co-worker and that I need to just let go of the stupid stuff that she says to me. But for all of this talk of Oprah running for President, what this tells me is that we have to back off Oprah! She said no, and we need to understand that asking her over and over again isn't going to change her mind. She has said up front that 'she knows for sure.' Let her know for herself. And hopefully, she might just surprise us.