Friday, December 31, 2010

Boney M Frontman Dead / My German Music '77

When I was 12 and went to Germany in the summer of '77 to visit my mother's family (with my father's send-off: "I hope your plane crashes"), I was allowed to take home, aside from the German versions of the Bay City Rollers and Shaun Cassidy albums that I already owned, 3 single records, hot off the German charts: Boney M's "Ma Baker" was one of the three that I chose. (The others: "Lay Back in the Arms of Someone" by Smokie and "Yes Sir, I Can Boogie" by Baccara.)



Boney M frontman Farrell dies in Russia
Reuters, Dec 30, 2010 7:52 am PST

Boney M frontman Bobby Farrell was found dead in his hotel room in St. Petersburg on Thursday, the day after a performance in the city where the band rose to stardom in the Soviet era, his agent said on Thursday.

"He did a show last night as part of Bobby Farrell's Boney M and they found him this morning dead in his hotel room," agent John Seine told Reuters by telephone from the Netherlands. Farrell was 61.

"He did not feel well last night, and was having problems with his breathing, but he did the show anyway," he added.

The cause of his death was not immediately clear, said Sergei Kapitanov, representative of St. Petersburg's branch of Russia's investigative committee.

Farrell was famous for dancing and lip synching for the disco band that rose to prominence in Europe, the United States and the Soviet Union with songs like "Ma Baker," "Rivers of Babylon" and "Rasputin."

Boney M was put together by German singer-songwriter Frank Farian who also produced most of the vocals for the group, which stormed to the top of the charts in the late 1970s with a string of disco hits.

(Reporting by Thomas Grove and Mike Collett-White in London, editing by Paul Casciato)

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My mother's family home in Vorsfelde, by 1977, sat across the street from a pub. One afternoon, a group of happily drunken college students poured out onto the sidewalk, singing the chorus of this song. I still get goosebumps listening to it.



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And this one I just loved 'cause it was sexy:

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Death on Facebook

December 24, 2010. 2:10am. "Jesus come to my rescue."
December 24, 2010. 2:27am. "Officially reached my limit. Uncle."
December 24, 2010. 3:24am. "Do I need more? Moving in slow motion. Sheep [sic] time."
December 24, 2010. 3:57am. "Just need sleep"

December 24, 2010. 6:44pm. [friend posting via her account] "Pat needs everyone's prayers. She's in critical condition at the hospital."

After that, the messages were all condolences.

Up until Facebook last year, I knew Patsy only from junior high and high school ('79 - '83). In junior high, I knew her because she befriended a cute new guy to the school, who then dumped her when he got taken in by the football/cheerleader crowd. In high school: Once, when I liked a guy, I told Patsy that another girl who was after him was a slut. She told the girl, who then called my house and threatened to beat me up. A year or so later, Patsy got pregnant (an unusual occurrence in my school in the early '80s), and I attended her baby shower. That's all that I remembered of her from those days.

On Facebook, I discovered that she'd gotten very fat. And very religious. Most of her posts were about God. I also learned that she'd been married 4 times. The latest marriage was just this year, to a guy from our high school, a year below us, who I remembered as being a scrawny little guy, but who had, over the years, beefed up into a big ol' stereotypical redneck. Her Facebook posts months ago about her new marriage were gushing, though she'd just been dating the guy for a couple of months. Their marriage, according to her posts on Facebook, also lasted just a couple of months.

In recent weeks, she was, aside from quoting Jesus, busy getting her name changed back to what it was before her latest marriage. She liked the Cowboys. She supported Our Troops. (My last post to her, a couple of weeks ago, was countering her generic "Thanks to our troops for protecting us" post. I said, "What are our troops protecting us FROM, exactly?")

Because she tattled on me, I didn't like her much back in school. Though, because she was very pretty and calm and self-assured then (not a spaz like me), I assumed that she'd go on to a peaceful life married to a guy as handsome and self-assured as she was. Didn't think she'd be married 4 times, have a boatload of kids with different last names, have to resort to quoting the Bible on Facebook for sustenance. Or count down her last minutes on Facebook.

Escape Artist: The Case for Joan Crawford

This week's (Jan. 3) New Yorker has a lengthy article about Joan. This is a pretty big deal!

Here's one quote: "...if Joan Crawford is not very likable she would, in a just world, be widely honored for a series of fiercely effective performances and for her emblematic quality as a twentieth-century woman."

I disagree with Denby's "not very likable" assertion. From her initial 1925 film appearance up until 1939's deliberately UNlikable Crystal Allen in "The Women," Joan was the epitome of the "likable" onscreen. In the '40s and '50s, once she'd grown up, she played "realistic" -- maybe vulnerable, maybe hard. "Unlikable" only because real people are often unlikable.

Though, perhaps that's nitpicking, given Denby's "fiercely effective performances" and "emblematic quality as a twentieth-century woman." I've often written that the story of Joan's ascension is the story of The American Dream, with all of its grandeur AND flaws. Denby's "fiercely effective" and "emblematic quality" are right on.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

To Build My Shadow a Fire

Christmas gifts, 2010.

from "The Savage God"

partially for my own understanding, but mainly for someone else's

"The process of mourning, Freud thought, was completed when whatever had been lost, for whatever reason, was somehow restored to life within the ego of the mourner. But when the loss occurs at a particularly vulnerable age, the slow process of introjection becomes not only more difficult but also more hazardous. Every child who loses a parent, or someone loved equally passionately and helplessly, must cope as best he can with a confusion of guilt, anger and an outraged sense of abandonment. And since in his innocence he does not understand this, his natural grief is made doubly painful. In order to relieve himself of this apparently gratuitous and inappropriate hostility, he splits it off from himself and projects it onto the lost figure. As a result, it is possible that when the fantasied identification finally takes place, it is invested with all sorts of unimaginable horror. Thereafter, hidden away in some locked cupboard of the mind, he carries the murderous dead thing within him, an unappeased Doppelganger, not to be placated, crying out to be heard, and ready to emerge at every crisis."

The Jelly Dance

OK, talking about "The Jelly Dance" is like, oh, "dancing about architecture." And my brother's cell phone couldn't capture it tonight, though he tried. But, my, it was something to see. I've got a freaky little showboat of a 5-year-old nephew!

Watching his minutes-long "Jelly Dance," I thought for sure he'd gotten it off MTV or someplace, but no. Turns out he'd made up every bit of every pose and hand gesture and head toss himself. It's hard to explain... let me at least try to explain one move. While putting on his singing/dancing "Jelly Dance" in socks, he slipped on the hardwood floor and fell down. Clearly an accident. But he immediately jumped up and then replicated the EXACT SAME FALL as if the first one had been intentional, all the while singing, "...the Jelly Dance!" It was bizarre, yet fascinating.

I was somewhat of a show-off and smarty when I was little, but the minor precociousness was mainly verbal, rarely to the point of actually "performing" for people, and never to the point of not being embarrassed when I screwed up... and then completely salvaging the screw-up through IMPROVISATION!

Show people are a different breed. While I've admired some movie stars in my life, I've rarely seen or known actual performers in person. Maybe a couple of local Austin plays/people back in the '90s. One Broadway one-man show. I'm a writer (not so much HERE, sorry), and thus stereotypically a certain "type" of person... and "creative folk" are supposed to, allegedly, hang together and be one of a kind, but... what a writer does and what performers do are actually completely different. Both channel. That's the unique, mystical part, and the part that gets the two groups of people lumped together. I think, though, that writers, when they receive spiritual information from outside of themselves, are more humble about it, incorporating it into their work but not necessarily taking credit for it, effacing themselves in the process. Actors, on the other hand: If they feel the "vibes" from an outside entity, the good ones are able to do the hard work of the channeling, but... they then also take all the face credit!

They're different. And, somehow, stronger in a way, more disciplined. The "9-to-5 equivalent," the people pleasers/reliable ones of the creative world.

While I will never be like that -- never so charming or so physically talented, or so disciplined and eager to please -- the skill-set is, nonetheless, something I greatly admire: the sensitivity and psychic chanelling combined with the consciousness of the demands of the "outer world," and the ability to interact with the latter.

Where that "Jelly Dance" came from, at age 5, is so unique and amazing and interesting to me.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Joan Crawford: Poker Face

Russian Roulette is not the same without a gun
And baby when it's love if it's not rough it isn't fun...

A Sailor-Dog Christmas

My sister-in-law's parents (in from Houston) and two sisters (in from NYC) will all be at my brother's/sister-in-law's Austin house for Christmas Day. So me, my mom, bro/sis-in-law, and nephews will be having OUR family Christmas at my mom's Austin house on Christmas Eve.

It's kind of weird, now that I think about it: I've always been at my mom's for Christmas Day every single year of my life. Since 1983, when I went off to college, I've always travelled to get to her house for Christmas (Austin to Azle, Austin/San Fran/New York to San Antonio), and so always spent at least 2 nights there, usually 3 or 4. This year, now that my mom lives in Austin like me, a mile away, I'll spend the few hours on Christmas Eve over there, then be driven the mile home. Then spend the rest of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day all by myself.

In the past, my brother/sis-in-law would, like me, travel to San Antonio and spend a couple of nights there around Christmas. (Then they'd head off to Houston to be with her family.) It was always festive being around the nephews, then getting up to the nephews the next day! :) Plus the travelling to a different place, sleeping in a different bed, always made it seem holiday-ish and fun to me. This year, it's just going to be a couple of hours of "festive," then back home to my apt. The melancholy of it just hit me now.

I'd better get used to it, that's for sure! My mom's only 70 now, and her ancestors tended to live into their 80s. But the fun of Christmas has always been about the kids, and my brother's kids are pledged to his wife's family for Christmas Day. I'm always going to be an adjunct "aunt." And once my mom's gone, there's not even going to be a "Christmas Eve" set aside for me. Boo-hoo. Sometimes you just feel like Sailor-dog.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

Tabatha's Salon Takeover - Houston

On Bravo's show tonight, hairdresser Tabatha Coffey went to a Houston salon, where she made at least two comments about "hillbillies." Really? I just went all over Bravo and Tabatha's Facebook page with the below:

"RE the "hillbilly" comments about Houston: Houston's the 4th largest city in the US, with a population of 2.3 million. It's also a world-renowned art, opera, ballet, and theater center. Last time I checked (oh, 20 minutes ago), Tabatha hails from a former penal colony and is now living in Ridgewood, New Jersey. Population 24,936. And ranked, by a New Jersey magazine, the 61st best place to live in New Jersey. Who's the hillbilly?"

You know, I'm a native Texan who's been in the Houston area exactly twice, both times visiting college friends over the weekend. I don't particularly like the city, or what it stands for. But I'll be damned if I let some outsider ignorantly dis it as "hillbilly." I'm so sick of that knee-jerk anti-Southern bullshit.

Reminds me of the time I was in grad school in San Francisco, sitting on a bus in front of some girls discussing where THEY were thinking about going to grad school. One girl told the other that she'd been offered a grant at the University of Texas, but, "I don't want to live in Texas."

Please. Living in Austin is a liberal's wet dream. Living in Houston would be a hairdresser's wet dream.

If you don't know a place from personal experience, then shut the fuck up about it. Period.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Reason for the Season

I remember having this exact same tired conversation last Christmas with one of my Facebook "Friends." (Someone from Texas that I barely knew.) And this year, the same thing just happened again, with a different Texas person. She'd added a homespun Facebook message about "Jesus is the Reason for the Season" and about telling her little kid all about Jesus's birthday when the kid asked about why Christmas was at this time of year. Here's what I just responded on her Facebook page:

"Actually, the original holiday was December 21, the pagan winter solstice. Once the Christians overtook the pagans, they also overtook their holidays, and assigned Jesus an arbitrary December 25 birthday. (Most historians think he was actually born in late March.) So... Jesus really isn't the reason for the season. (If you've got a Christmas tree up in your house --- that's purely left over from the pagans and their tree-worshipping.)"

I'm going to get a lot of shit for that. Again. It's SOOO idiotic and profoundly tiresome. I challenge all real hard-core Christians to get that nasty pagan tree out of their living rooms once and for all. Be absolutely true to your crazy fanatic selves.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Home for the Holidays

On the way home from Marshall's on the bus: Two seats away, a very rough-looking 30-something white woman was loudly bawling into her cell phone about how grateful she was about finally getting the government assistance necessary to get her own apartment after being homeless for one year. (Me and the Mexican woman with her kids and mother were trying hard not to look at her.)

After the overt crying, she offered to her friend on the phone one of her good eyes in exchange for one of his glass ones. (Yes, really, that's what she said.)

After she hung up, she started a conversation with the "I was in Katrina"-babbling middle-aged black guy across from her: She was, apparently, "in Katrina" too, and her ideal apartment complex, and his, would be one that would "keep her out of mischief," and where her dog wouldn't be stolen, but also one that didn't have too many "rich people" because she hated rich people and would "beat their heads in." (While I studiously refrained from making any eye-rolling contact with her, I nonetheless was thinking: "I'm afraid there's no danger at all of you winding up in an apartment complex with any rich people." I'm also wondering what mentally-challenged lower-class Americans would have to mutually identify with on a national level sans Hurricane Katrina and 9/11. This generation of idiots' World War II.)

Monday, December 13, 2010

I Like Christmas!

Hopped a bus to the nearby Marshall's on this gorgeous 60-degree-blue-skyed day and got discount sox, Christmas candles, wrapping paper. Liked hearing the perky Christmas music in the store (except for one weird song about the female singer wanting a really big, fat, shiny snowman for Christmas. TMI, Christmas singer!) :)

Also in a good mood 'cause all of my Christmas shopping is now done. Nothing special for the three adults on my list, just gift certificates from various stores that they picked. I'm excited about my gifts for my two nephews, though: Plo Koon's Starfighter and Terrordactyl (plus various Star Wars stickers and dinosaur tattoos to accompany the big gifts).

Last year at this time, couldn't afford to get anyone anything! I ended up picking up a few cheap last-minute odds-n-ends from Times Square (for the nephews) and from the Joisey airport on my Christmas trip home (for Mom/bro/sis-in-law). Just to have SOMETHING. But it didn't feel great. I like to be able to really think about what someone might want; and I like it when people actually LIKE what I get them! :)

Christmas 2007 (home from NYC, good-paying job) was a great one, gift-wise: Got my mom a bracelet from Tiffany's; my sis-in-law an original purse by a Brooklyn designer; my bro a CD of "famous" NYC songs ("Take the A-Train," etc.), plus a Weehawken Indians sweatshirt (to match those for the nephews). It wasn't that the gifts were expensive, but rather that there was kind of a fun NYC (and Weehawken) theme behind them! I loved thinking about what I was going to get them that year.

Christmas 2008 and 2009: Nada. Really nada in 2008, just the crap in 2009. I didn't feel guilty for being a cheapskate or Grinch or anything -- the adults in the family knew I'd always been thoughtful in the past when I had a job/some money, and the kids had so many other gifts, they never even noticed that there was nothing from me. Still, not being able to buy stuff that I felt fit with each person made ME feel non-Christmasy.

It's said that depressed people feel worse around the holidays... In that worried vein, a week ago my mom brought me over a very short string of YARD-lights from outside her house circa 1980 and a halfway-burned-down unscented green candle... to decorate my, to her, barren one-room apartment for the season! :) I hung up the YARD-lights over my bookcase to satisfy her, and I made her take the crappy candle back home! Please, woman! I'm not depressed about being in this apartment! (What's terribly depressing is 30-year-old fire-hazard lights and a used, unscented Christmas candle!) :) In every year past, including when I was dirt-poor in Weehawken, I've ALWAYS had Christmas decorations up, even if it was just shiny red balls hanging off my rubber-tree plant!

Over the decades, I've been depressed in general about my life around many a holiday, but the Halloween-thru-New Year's season itself has always perked me up. I don't remember EVER feeling terribly depressed around Christmas. It's too pretty! I like the pretty lights. I like the music. I like the snap in the air. I like the holiday feasts. I like giving/getting gifts. It's all just a bunch of fun, unique, magical stuff. (Well, "magical" except for those stupid lights around my bookcase! But, really, even those look good to me in the dark.)
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p.s. Embarrassed by my mother's Christmas decoration pity, I got some damn dollar-store decorations to spruce up my apartment. HAPPY???!!! ;p

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Put on your new pants and move out to France

I was just looking online to see what Julian and Sean Lennon had been up to lately (I check maybe every 2 or 3 years or something). Turns out Sean has a spiffy-looking model-girlfriend (with Ted Hughes's birthday, August 17):


Most interestingly to me, they've been collaborating on music together and have put out an album as the group "The GOASTT." (Cutely, the name is short for "Ghost of a Saber-Toothed Tiger," a story that Charlotte wrote when she was 7.) Here's one single that I found on YouTube:



It's slightly too fey for my taste, but I like it nonetheless, especially lyrics like:

...All the skeletons in your closet
are rummaging through your clothes
Looking through your shoeboxes and pockets
gum wrappers and dumb love notes..."

I'm envious of them! The excitement of being in love AND the intellectual excitement of also being able to collaborate creatively together. I do miss that about Sandra -- her extremely creative, interesting mind. Our one attempt to write something together a complete disaster! (In general: Is it the hard-headed, tormented Leo/Scorpio thang, or is it that she's barely ever been out of the radius of River Oaks for 53 years? For all of her background wealth and surface savoir-faire and experience, she's really much more of an emotional/intellectual/spiritual/sexual hick than me.)

For to Be a Raver for the Saviour

Since finding them dirt cheap on Amazon, I've been catching up with buying Plath/Hughes-related books that I need to complete my collection. And just today opened a package that I THOUGHT contained the 2001 Elaine Feinstein Hughes bio... Instead, here's the first thing I saw when I opened the package:


Aaaaaaaaaaagh! Luckily, the Ted-book was underneath it. And the crazy book shown here had a little note stuck on it: "This book compliments of [name of sellers]. Thank you for your purchase." While I initially rolled my eyes, I then thought, "What if this seemingly schmaltzy book has something of wisdom that I could actually use? After all, I once found comfort in Joel Osteen. Why not take a look?" Sure enough...

NEVER BORROW SORROW FROM TOMORROW

Deal only with the present --
never step into tomorrow,
For God asks us to trust Him
and to never borrow sorrow,
For the future is not ours to know,
and it may never be,
So let us live and give our best
and give it lavishly...
For to meet tomorrow's troubles
before they are even ours
Is to anticipate the Saviour
and to doubt His all-wise powers,
So let us be content to solve
our problems one by one,
Asking nothing of tomorrow
except "Thy will be done."

Other gems: "Worry No More -- God Knows the Score" and "Your Life Will Be Blest If You Look for the Best." And my very favorite, which just happens to have an accompanying video on YouTube:



TARDY FOR THE PARTY

Hurry up baby don't be late
I'll meet you at the place
I've been waiting for this day
This weekend let's celebrate
Lookin' like a covergirl
Covered in diamonds and pearls
Take the Benz out for a swirl
Drop that top yeah it's my world

Forget about work and the stress of the week
Party all night and we won't go to sleep
We own the club oh yeah we own the life
and I am not leaving 'till I see daylight

Don't be tardy for the party. Oooo, ooooo.
Don't be tardy for the party. Oooooo, Ooooo.
Don't be tardy for the party. Oooo, oooo.
Don't be tardy for the party.

I'll be feelin' good by nine
After my third glass of wine
On the dance floor lookin' fine
All the boys tryin' to get in mine
Headed back to VIP
So tight that I can't breathe
I look good in this heat
Sweat drippin' all over me

Forget about work and the stress of the week
Party all night and we won't go to sleep
We own the club oh yeah we own the life
and I am not leaving 'till I see daylight

Don't be tardy for the party. Oooo, ooooo.
Don't be tardy for the party. Oooooo, Ooooo.
Don't be tardy for the party. Oooo, oooo.
Don't be tardy for the party. Ooooo, ooooo.
Don't be tardy, tardy, tardy.

I find the last one most inspirational. And, interestingly, in its own way, it shares a bit of the same philosophy as "Never Borrow..." (I'm tempted, actually, to post "Never Borrow Sorrow from Tomorrow" on my Facebook page. I'd bet you anything that I'd get at least 5 "Like"s from my old hometown friends, all of whom seem to now be religious scripture-quoting nuts, despite 4 marriages for one, various adulteries for another, etc. All sans irony.)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Visitors to this blog

A few years ago, it was announced that the average visitors to a blog were... 2. Total.

I've got about 20 regulars, plus 100 or so random hits per day, so I'm grateful for that. However, a couple of things are creepy.

"Seattle" -- you're creepy. For instance, on December 5, you visited this blog 27 times. 27 times on one day alone. What the fuck.

Julie/Geir -- RE "cloak.com": Let me let you in on a little secret. While you go to "cloak.com" to hide your visits here, my StatCounter shows your every visit with your same IP number.

Good lord.

I'm glad that people are reading what I have to say. But... 27 times a day? And, trying to "cloak" their visits? You folk: Stop being fucking psychos.

Joan Crawford: 1928



Shot by Ruth Harriet Louise. (Crawford's most famous for her collaborations with photographer Hurrell, but the early Louise stuff, pre-1930, is actually a lot more weird and interesting.)

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

10/9/40 - 12/8/80



Well, I tried so hard to stay alive
But the angel of destruction keeps on houndin' me all around
But I know in my heart
That we never really parted
Oh no

They say the Lord loves those who know themselves
So I'm asking this question in the hope that you'll be kind
Don't I know deep inside
I was never satisfied
Oh no... Lord help me

Help me to help myself
Help me to help myself.




As soon as you're born they make you feel small
By giving you no time instead of it all
Till the pain is so big you feel nothing at all
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

They hurt you at home and they hit you at school
They hate you if you're clever and they despise a fool
Till you're so fucking crazy you can't follow their rules
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

When they've tortured and scared you for twenty odd years
Then they expect you to pick a career
When you can't really function you're so full of fear
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

Keep you doped with religion and sex and TV
And you think you're so clever and classless and free
But you're still fucking peasants as far as I can see
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

There's room at the top they are telling you still
But first you must learn how to smile as you kill
If you want to be like the folks on the hill
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

If you want to be a hero, well, just follow me
If you want to be a hero, well, just follow me

Monday, December 06, 2010

Burnt Offerings (16 x 10-1/2. Grease on tin.)



Annual bathroom shots

Weehawken '07 still has the best bathroom. (But Austin '10 has a new winter hoodie. And matching stolen lipstick. And, best of all, my eyes now match the shower curtain.)