Adios to Mi Morenita de mi Corazon, Merida and Mexico for only a while I hope

11 07 2015

hislh

Carson McCullers wrote a first novel that has become a classic. One line from the book reads…

“Your heart going to beat hard enough to kill you because you don’t love and don’t have peace.”

Lucky for me I have both. Tomorrow I leave Merida for Denver for a TBD heart surgery. If I could afford the surgery I’d do it here. Imo Mexican medicine is that good.

The love and peace I have are from Mi Morenita, the love of my life, and the 2 best sons a man can have. Hopefully you will hear again from Merida’s Night Writer.





My Modern Day Modest Proposal

22 06 2015

A_Modest_Proposal_1729_Cover

Jonathon Swift wrote one of the best pieces of English satire in 1729 in reaction to England’s treatment of the Irish. I read it in college having chosen to major in English and wanting to be a writer myself. Without knowing the background of the work I initially thought Swift was seriously proposing cannibalism. Go here to find out why…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Modest_Proposal

My ‘modest proposal’ is in reaction to Donald Trump’s announced attempt to become the next POTUS and the number of racist hate crimes and police brutality happening there. I left Los Angeles for a variety of reasons. One of the primary was that the country, not Cali or LA, had become a place I’d rather be from rather than living in. I did it with a lot of thoughts, one of them being that I might live to regret it. The past 3 years have been just the opposite. No regrets, just amazement at the wrong-headedness coming out of the richest country in the world. If things keep going the way they are, the US will be the richest country with the lowest per capita income ever. Maybe it already is. As Edith Piaf sang, “Non, je ne regrette rien.”
I propose that there be a election in which Donald Trump run unopposed. Everyone who votes for him will then be moved to a now vacant spot on earth in which they can live. We’ll have to find a suitable place but that shouldn’t be too hard. We can consult Dante’s “Inferno” for the level of Hell best suited to them. We can call it Los Estados Unidos Contra Todo.

As for those who think that the killings in Charleston were anti-Christian rather than racist I suggest they listen to my all-time favorite “Modest Proposal.” If there were a country of undervalued artists I’d move there and vote for Mose Allison for President…





Why Review Books?

20 06 2015

I’ve started reviewing books for Julies Book Review. You can find it here…http://juliesbookreview.blogspot.com. It’s a good way to read books for free and meet the people who write them. Some of the books are good, some not. Here’s what I had to say about one of the best I’ve read so far…

 

tsaint

Review of Temporary Saints by Mark Warhus

Temporary Saints

Mark Warhus

One of the benefits of reviewing for JBR is to come across something I would never read, but

once I do I’m glad I did. “Temporary Saints” is one of those books. I am not religious; I am a

Taoist knowledgeable about Christianity.

First and foremost “Temporary Saints” is very well ­written with an extraordinary plot. The author

knows of what he speaks and has created ordinary people living through some not ­so ­ordinary

circumstances. Familiarity with “The Lives of the Saints” was helpful in getting what the author ‘s

book structure was all about but it’s not necessary to understand what’s going on. The sane and

the crazed are alive and well in this novel.

Sarah is the temporary saint. She is found one night levitating in a Catholic parish church by the

housekeeper and pastor. Saying she was sent by God to deliver a message prompts the pastor

to call the archbishop. The archbishop brings in Michael a gay psychotherapist to evavluate

Sarah’s state of mind and health.

Thus begins the well ­told tale. Throw in some miracles, the power of the media, the struggles of

a divorced couple with a teenage son and a gay father, along with controversy between

conservative and liberal­ minded Christians about the place of homosexuals in organized religion

and you have a brew of laughter and hatred that will make the judgmental person squirm.

The book is spot on in its depiction of reactions to the clash between Christian liberals and

conservatives and the challenge of being a saint in a secular society. If you suspend disbelief

long enough for this excellent quick read you’ll be glad you did. I am.

 

You can buy “Temporary Saint” here…

 

http://markwarhus.com/





Icarus’ Favorite Song – Over the Mountain, Across the Sea

22 05 2015

Growing up in Philly “American Bandstand” was in our faces everyday in the 50’s. What we didn’t know was that other cities had their own version of the first American teenage dance show. Philly’s “Bandstand”(the original name of the show) started in 1952 showing short movies of music – precursors to the music videos of today. Milt Grant’s “Record Hop” was the Washington, DC version of AB. Here’s Johnnie and Joe singing their biggest hit on his show…

“Over the Mountain, Across the Sea” was every dreamer boy’s favorite song at the end of the 50’s, Jim Collins the hero of my novel included. It captured the yearning for far away romance. Jim knew little back then about how life was outside the neighborhood. Things are different now that we’re all connected by Smartphone, Androids and tablets.

There’s a 3rd voice on the record. Rex Garvin wrote the song, played the piano(an integral piece of the song’s impact) and was part of the vocal backup. Joe Rivers, the lead vocalist, was his friend and Johnnie Louise Richardson, the female vocalist was the record company owner’s daughter. By the way, J&S Records was owned by Zelma “Zell” Sanders. A woman record company owner was pretty unheard of back then.

The popular wisdom holds that everybody wanted to be one of the dancers on “American Bandstand.” The popular wisdom is wrong. The teenagers of the 50’s and 60’s had mixed feelings about it. Fictionally, some of Jim Collins’ buddies resent the fame those kids got on TV. Truthfully, two of the most popular dancers on “American Bandsatnd”, Eddie Kelly and Bunny Gibson, had to change schools to get away from the bullying and adult narrow mindedness of the time.

Read all about it here…

dcover

http://booklocker.com/books/7143.html





Song #2 from “Songs of Icarus” and the Reason Why…

13 05 2015

dcover

The book can be purchased here…booklocker.com/books/7143.html.

Why did I write a novel set in 1959?
First off it was a great year…”Kind of Blue”, “Mack the Knife”, “Lonely Boy”, “Mr. Blue”, “Mingus Ah Um”, “Come Dance with Me”, “Kansas City”, and “Beyond the Sea” to name a few songs popular that year.
The power of music is that it evokes emotion. Music heard at a specific time and place can make us “Alive Inside” for years after. I’m not talkin’ about “golden oldies” or “oldies but goodies.” The power and magic of music is therapeutic. I hope I’m wrong but I worry that the music of today does not have the soul of the music of the past. I’m not talkin’ “soul music” I’m talkin’ music that speaks to the soul. I listen to Cassandra Wilson’s tribute to Billie Holiday “Coming Forth by Day” and recognize the talent of the singer, the musicians and arrangements but none of it touches me like Billie does. I attribute that to an emphasis on technical production rather than reaching deep within the human psyche for the feeling of “Good Morning, Heartache” or “Strange Fruit” in the way of Lady Day.

billieh

cwbh

What’s missing from today’s music? Artists may be subconsciously relying on technology rather than their own talent and emotional depth.

That’s where Icarus comes in. The meaning of the myth itself has been argued over the centuries. There’s even an Icarus complex in psychology textbooks. Daedalus told Icarus 2 things…don’t fly too high…don’t fly too low. I’d call that middle-of-the-road advice. He didn’t heed the advice and for that I, like many other artists, admire him. Anne Sexton wrote…

To A Friend Whose Work Has Come To Triumph

Consider Icarus, pasting those sticky wings on,
testing that strange little tug at his shoulder blade,
and think of that first flawless moment over the lawn
of the labyrinth. Think of the difference it made!
There below are the trees, as awkward as camels;
and here are the shocked starlings pumping past
and think of innocent Icarus who is doing quite well:
larger than a sail, over the fog and the blast
of the plushy ocean, he goes. Admire his wings!
Feel the fire at his neck and see how casually
he glances up and is caught, wondrously tunneling
into that hot eye. Who cares that feel back to the sea?
See him acclaiming the sun and come plunging down
while his sensible daddy goes straight into town.

Matisse’ Icarus is a puzzling image. Is he flying or falling? I’m not sure it matters in the end. I paraphrase Matisse’ words written on the page across from Icare in “Jazz”…upon graduation young people should fly to get another perception of the world they live in.

Icare

At the end of Chapter 1, Jim Collins, a modern day Icarus, wishes for something he doesn’t have.

SONG #2…





Icarus’ First Song

22 04 2015

The novel “Songs of Icarus” begins with this song.

Chuck Berry’s original lyrics

The People passing by, they would stop and say
Oh my that little colored boy could play

were changed to

The People passing by, they would stop and say
Oh my that little country boy could play

Chess Records wanted the song to play on white radio and in the 50’s there were no songs about “colored” rock stars being played on white radio. So Chuck changed the lyric and sang it like this in 1958…

In that video the audience is all-white. Typical of the times in the South.

Chuck’s longtime friend and piano player was Johnnie Johnson. It is said that he inspired Chuck’s guitar riffs with his piano. The song itself is autobiographical and about Chuck’s musical journey from St. Louis, not New Orleans.

Johnnie Johnson died 10 years ago last week. Here’s his obit from the NYT…

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/14/arts/music/14johnson.html?_r=2&

Jim Collins goes on his own journey in “Songs of Icarus.” It’s much different from Johnny B. Goode’s but without Chuck’s music there would have been no journey at all for Jim.

Here’s Chuck singing his song with some other rock ‘n’ rollers over the years…

BTW an A/R man turned Yoko’s mic off when they played this tune. He has been thanked profusely over the years. Mostly by musicians.

NO MICS WERE TURNED OFF FOR THIS ONE

OR THIS ONE





The Song That Got Away

12 04 2015

As soon as the 40-somethings or younger see a black-and-white TV image you’ll be off to another blog. I don’t blame you. But here’a a tidbit to chew. Before Domenico Modugno sang this song Italian singers stood motionless when singing. He broke the tradition…

Thanks to a friend for sending me the story behind the song inspired by Marc Chagall…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volare_%28song%29

For me “Volare” is the song that got away because it was one of the songs of Jim Collins in my novel “Songs of Icarus” in an early draft. I was using lyrics of songs as part of the story but when I found out that was going to be legally troublesome I went through the book and removed more than 100 partial song lyrics. Not an easy thing for me but it had to be done to stay away from copyright infringement in the litigious US. If there’s a second edition of “Songs of Icarus” direct mention will be made of the song. Right now Page 212 contains an indirect reference. The book can be found here…

http://booklocker.com/books/7143.html

This week I made a new friend. As usual during the getting-to-know-you I asked, “What do you do?” His answer was, “I am a pilot.” I took a deep breath – “Did you always want to fly?” “Oh yes, from when I was a little boy.” I didn’t tell him about my dreams of writing “Songs of Icarus.”

Repression of the sub-conscious works in strange ways. I think it’s part of being human to want to fly. Why else would there be an Icarus myth. I never consciously knew how big a thing it was with me to fly and I never knowingly wanted to be a pilot, but I did have a recurring dream about flying. One day long ago I was talking to a psychiatrist friend of my ex-wife about my novel. I told him I wanted to be a writer for a long time. His eyes got that look of ohh-I-get-it then he said, “Of course it’s a deferred dream.”

Langston Hughes wrote about them in “Harlem”…

langston hughes

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

In my life “Songs of Icarus” is part of a continuing explosion that will only end when John Donne’s Meditation XVII bell tolls.








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