And Another Thing About Music

A few of the WordPress bloggers I follow post everyday. That will never be me. I have way too many other daily routines vying for my time like, hair removal, staring into space and Konmaring my house. Speaking of Maria Kondo, y’all know that in a year we won’t remember her, right? It’ll be Maria who? But she won’t care because she’ll be sitting in her joyful L.A. home with her two adorable daughters tranquil in the knowledge that messy people around the world have already paid for their college educations. But this post isn’t about her.

No, I don’t have it in me to blog everyday but fellow blogger Hanspostcard’s Song of the Day has motivated me to write in my journal daily about music. I call it Kat’s Bewildering Morning Song. I realized a couple of months ago that most mornings I wake up with a random song going through my head. And when I say random, I mean random. Why Elmo’s ring bearer song from Maria and Luis’ 1980s Sesame St. wedding? Why? “Don’t drop the ring Elmo, don’t drop the ring…” It’s not the same as ear worm songs because as far as I can tell, nothing prompts it. You’re probably thinking, she’s hearing those songs sometime during the day before and just doesn’t know it. I can guarantee you that I did not hear Oh Come, Oh Come Emanuel at the supermarket yesterday so I don’t understand why it was the soundtrack served up with my breakfast.

I have a theory. What if the random playlist is my brain’s way of choosing songs to dump. What if it’s like, “Ok, you want to remember those Kendrick Lamar lyrics? Well then to make room, Twelfth of Never by Johnny Mathis has to go. So here it is for the last time unless you stubble on the one Pandora station that plays it.”

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It makes sense right? At this age I’ve filled up a lot of my memory. Many times I feel as though I’ve forgotten more than I remember. Sometimes while reading on a subject I want to know about I’ll find myself thinking, wait, did I know this before. Unfortunately, I can’t prove my theory because if my brain is jettisoning songs from my memory, how would I know? I can’t remember what I’ve forgotten. And if I do hear that song on Pandora, will I remember hearing it before or that I’d forgotten it? What did I forget to make room for the Leon Bridges album? Of course there is some music I’ll never forget even if Apple took it from my iTunes.

Right now I’m just waiting to hear what  will come up this morning. Will it be Umbrella by Rhianna or High Hopes by Frank Sinatra. I never know. How about you? Can you stop the music if you want to? When you walk down memory lane do the songs come up or do you have to google the year to remind yourself of what they were? What goes through your heads, musically speaking?

I’d forgotten about this song until I wrote this post.

And thanks for reading.

Sooner or Later We Have to Face Before

You’re probably aware of the sudden controversy over the lyrics to the song  “Baby It’s Cold Outside”. What’s funny to me is that I thought about the creepiness of the song a couple of years ago.  I also wrote the piece below, which is along the same lines, a few of months ago. I decided not to post it because I didn’t want to upset anyone in this #MeToo moment. But now, I think maybe we can talk about it.

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I was listening to a Larry Graham tune the other day. He’s very talented and he was at the height of his career during my salad days. He was one of the original members of Sly and the Family Stone. He also had his own group for a minute, Graham Central Station, and a successful solo career. Some of you probably remember him for his song, “One in a Million”. (That was played one and a million times at weddings back in the day.) I used to dance to his music and he was one of my faves. A couple of his songs still loop in my head. I was thinking about one of the ones that comes up occasionally in my mind’s playlist. The song is Sooner or Later, from the album of the same name. Graham is a bass player with an beautiful deep, sexy voice. I was enjoying the memory of his voice on that particular song when it hit me that the lyrics sound strange in 2018.  I don’t know why I didn’t notice before. Like a lot of folks, I guess I’m more aware and sensitive these days.

The lyrics start out all right, your basic “I love you” tune. But a while into it, it starts to feel uncomfortable.
“You can’t run away from me. Oh baby, sooner or later I’m gonna make your mine…I know it’s just a matter of time.”
What? Umm…that’s vaguely intimidating. He goes on to say that the girl’s the sweetest in the world and he,
“just can’t let you go. Oh, oh you can’t run away from me.”
Ok, if a woman heard someone say that today it’d be a red flag, right? He starts riffing toward the end,
“You’re gonna be my darlin baby, ain’t no maybe…I’m gonna make you mine forever…”
What does that mean? Will there be ropes and duct tape involved?
“… we’ll be together…Although it might take time I’m gonna make you mine.
C’mon now, that doesn’t sound slightly threatening? Right now, it sounds like he’s planning on stalking.

Obviously, I’m not taking the song too seriously. But when I think of the number of times I sang along to Sooner or Later back then and wished my boyfriend (my husband three years later) would say those things to me, I gotta admit I’m a little embarrassed. I know the song is a product of its time. It was 1982. Tootsie and Victor/Victorious were in theaters so we had at least started to think outside the traditional lines of sex and gender roles but on the other hand Richard Dawson was still kissing the female contestants of Family Feud on the lips. I also know that when I was young, women my age didn’t think so much about the ramifications of men’s attention. We didn’t analyze the positive or negative connotations of that attention. We were more inclined to ask, “Why isn’t he giving me attention?” than “What does his attention mean?” I’m glad young women ask now. And if that questioning means we have to re-examine beloved chestnuts like “Baby It’s Cold Outside”, maybe that’s a good thing. We can think about it while still listening and enjoying.  I’m going to continue listening to Graham’s song cuz I like it. Maybe I just won’t sing along.

 

 

 

Donkey On The Beach

I was in Tulum, Mexico last month for my son’s wedding. Yes, the beaches are beautiful, the wedding was awesome, they’re very much in love and very happy. Here are some photos of that glorious day (Of course, I had to.)

 

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The wedding isn’t what this is about though. This is about whether or not I’m losing my mind.

The day of the wedding I got up to an extraordinary sunrise that’s ordinary in Tulum. I went down to do my morning meditation on the beach as had become my routine while  I was there.  It was easy to lose myself in the beauty of the water, sky, birds and flora. There was no cell service and no every day distractions so I could concentrate and contemplate fully. It was mystical.

I felt wonderful…and hungry. I went to breakfast and had my usual egg white omelette at a restaurant that wasn’t my usual. It was kind of salty which made me nervous (but I ate it anyway). I was afraid the salt would bloat me and make me look like the Michelin Man in the wedding photos. I had dieted, exercised, gone to the hairdresser and dentist in preparation for the photos so no matter how ethereal I felt on the beach,  I wasn’t about to let some eggs make a wedding balloon out of me. I didn’t think my daily diuretic would do enough damage control. I decided to go for a long walk on the beach in the sun to promote sweating. I figured sweat and the diaretic would do the trick. Tulum has a long beach with a string of resorts, one after another. The first half of my walk went according to plan. I walked past resort after resort, looking back and forth from the sea to other tourists lounging in the sun.

As an aside, one resort had this sign stuck in the sand in front of it. I thought it was funny so I took a photo. I showed it to my offspring. As they often do, they reacted as though I was showing them an obiturary I’d cut out of a newspaper.

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I still think it’s funny.

Anyway, I was walking back to my resort, wiping sweat from my face with my t-shirt and feeling satisfied that I’d already lost the extra water weight. I looked from the ocean to the resort on my right and there was a donkey standing there. ALONE! It was standing in the sand, outside the resort but there weren’t any people with it, handling it or controlling it. And it wasn’t wearing any festive donkey regalia a tourist like me might expect; no Mexican blanket, no sombrero, nothing. It was just standing there. At first, I thought to myself, “Oh Lawd, I’m dehydrated. I’m hallucinating.” Then I wondered if I forgot to take my blood pressure meds. Then I thought maybe I needed my meds tweaked. As I was musing, the donkey turned toward me and brayed. (I had to google how to spell brayed because I don’t have many donkey encounters.) It wasn’t a friendly bray so I got scared. I said to the donkey, “Don’t you come after me cuz if you do I’m going to have to jump into the ocean.” Then I wondered if donkeys can swim. I wanted to take a photo but I was shaking and trying to get away. Imagine a woman of a certain age trying to run in sand from a donkey. All I could manage was this one picture.

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You see the donkey, right?

A lot of cool stuff happened on that beach in Tulum, mystical and otherwise. I’m grateful. That will only change if I start seeing the donkey in my backyard.

 

 

 

Oh and snake lamp update: the grandkids were by the other day, See no evil:

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Why Did They Take My Music Away?

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So some time ago, I updated my iTunes. I don’t remember how many versions ago it was because I haven’t updated it since. The experience caused havoc and a paralyzing fear of “improved” apps .

I know I sound dramatic but I lovingly and carefully curated my music library over a lot of years. (Yeah, it began with vinyl but we’re talk about my age later.) It started with Solomon Burke and ended with Kendrick Lamar. The bits and pieces in between told my story through artists inspired by a universal vibe. There were songs that represented every journey I’ve been on in that library. Most of that’s gone now. When I ran the update, almost half of my favorite songs disappeared. Where was my Taj Mahal, Van Morrison, Wu Man and Soweto Gospel Choir? Bambino, Buckwheat Zydeco, Yo-Yo Ma and Miriam Makeba were all missing. It took away my beloved Curtis Mayfield. And the song I associate with my husband’s passing was deleted. “…It’s so strange but true, can’t believe I’m still in love with you…” Yup, iTunes even took my James Hunter…So, I asked my audio engineer son to explain what happened. Here’s what he told me:

“with the release of Apple Music, (deliberately or not…) Apple made the access of traditional iTunes Music collections burdensome. While they shifted the focus of their platform to streaming, many users reported major glitches and missing music (they have never confirmed or denied this). In addition, many users had to re-download entire music libraries from difficult to find iTunes Music backup files to restore their original music collections.”

BURDENSOME? For real. I had to download my entire collection from an old laptop to a hard drive. Now I have the music but can’t transfer it to my phone from the drive. Oh sure, I can plug the drive into the cheap laptop I have now but the library won’t download (error message) and the speakers are shit  inadequate. And forget “difficult to find…backup files.” If I needed to call someone to explain what happened, I definitely don’t understand enough to re-install it.

My love of music started in childhood.  In church, even if the service bored me, the choir could make me both cry and shout for joy. I begged my mother to buy gospel records. Later, my music kept me company as I contemplated the context and complexities of my youth. (I’m looking at you Santana.) And then I danced to favorite songs with my children as I taught them to dance on the beat.

I get it. All the music services have changed the delivery model and they know some of us are slow (or old) so they’re prodding us along. But here’s the bottom line, the best of my music is gone.  I have the music that iTunes left me, the music I bought from them but resent because what’s left is their choice. And I will not pay for Apple Music because I resent that it feels like they’re trying to force me to opt in. I’m not going to re-buy music I legitimately owned but don’t have because I didn’t buy it from them. That only leaves me with free but commercial laden streaming services and radio.

I try to stay current and update devices to keep them and myself up to date. But c’mon, I’m not young and I’m not savvy so I can’t play these digital games. It’s okay because I’m grateful to still be in a position to take advantage of the benefits of modern times. I need to finish my life’s soundtrack though, so I wish I had my music.

Strange Things In The Middle Of The Night

Over the summer I was living in temporary digs so I went without a TV for a while. A friend recommended Netflix. I had read about the company in the news and had judged it as having a dubious business model so I didn’t rush to sign up. But I’m an insomniac so having nothing to watch at 2AM, I gave it a try. I’ll admit that Netflix opened a new world for me. A world I like to call “Strange Things in the Middle of the Night”.

I initially started watching documentaries every night because the drone of the voiceovers put me to sleep. As you probably know, Netflix has an odd recommendation system. The more documentaries I watched the more obscure the offerings became to the point where they became positively fascinating. Now sometimes I’m up in the wee hours watching programs about the most curious people and events.  So here are some docs I think you should check out if you’ve got Netflix and insomnia:

Moving Midway; a family decides to move their antebellum era plantation house & sell the land to developers. It tells of the extended family’s feelings and those of the slave descendants who were all invested in the land.

-Waste Land; Brazilian artist Vik Muniz organizes a big art project with the collectors in a landfill and the found recyclables from which they make their living. It tells of their life and how the project affects them.

-Dr Bronner’s Magic Soapbox; most of us have seen his soap and some of us have used it. How many of us know what a strange guy he was?

-Thunder Soul; “Back in the day” there was an all black high school jazz band that blew away all competition. It tells of the one teacher responsible, his challenges and the love he inspired.

-The Cats of Mirikitani; an independent film maker connects with a Japanese- American street artist in NYC. It tells of their relationship and the very complex set of circumstances that led to his homelessness. The insights into the consequences of the WWII Japanese internment are startling.

-TED Talks; how is it I didn’t know about these before? There are so many of these mini-lectures on so many subjects! Some are absolutely brilliant and some are absolutely boring.

These are just a few. I’ve found little documentaries that touch on almost every subject in which I’m interested and I’ve connected a lot of dots in terms of related themes as a result. If you’re interested in the other nuggets I’ve discovered let me know and I’ll list some more. If you have Netflix and have any recommendations, I’d love to hear them.

Speaking of strange things, here are some photos of things I’ve seen lately. Is it me?!

Velvet Rope
Who exactly is my neighbor expecting?
Hurricane Sandy
This blew through my daughter’s neighborhood during Hurricane Sandy
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This was parked next to me in a mall a few days before the election. Really?