Monday, January 20, 2014

Song of the Day: "Emancipated Hearts"

Dean Wareham solo. Strangely that's not really happened yet--he's been in a band, a guest and a collaborator. He dips his toe into the solo artist waters with a 6-track EP.

Sting did it with the score to Brimstone & Treacle.

Song: "Emancipated Hearts"
Artist: Dean Wareham

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Song of the Day: "Won't be Broken"

One of these days Keane, and possibly even Snow Patrol, will earn enough respect from me not to characterize them as Coldplay knock offs. Or Travis knock offs. Of Keane knock offs. See what I did there?

Obviously not today.

Song: "Won't be Broken"
Artist: Keane

R.I.P. Nana

My aunt posted this photo to Facebook today. I have no sense of how old she is in this picture.

My grandmother has been central in my life since, well, ever. My parents were seriously young when they got married and with dad off to Vietnam (it was the way he could provide for his family and there was no option but for him to provide for his family [Exhibit C is the work ethic that was instilled in him and passed down, at least 70% of it was, to me from his dad]), my mom lived with her parents, who I would always call Nana and Joey.

When I came along within a year of Christina, Nana would handle me while my mom handled my sister. It's entirely possible this is a symptom of a deep misogyny in their family, or maybe it's just everything Peggy goes through on Mad Men brought to life. All I know is I enjoyed several years as the only grandson and that did not suck.

I should also acknowledge something that I've seen several times now--some people may not be great parents but can become spectacular grandparents. And I don't mean spectacular in terms of spoiling or overcompensating except maybe sometimes a little, but it's more about being able to express support and love in a way that somehow you're not with your own kids or maybe that you can't hear from your own parents.

Growing up I thought she was the best cook in the world. I'm fairly certain this was not the case. In fact I cringe a little thinking about how she would mix stewed tomatoes into cake mix (later she used canned peaches). Chocolate and stewed tomato cake. Take that taste buds.

It only matters because I totally failed to appreciate how great a cook my other grandmother was and that only matters because it was something she was proud of and I'm sure a little appreciation from your grand kids never sucks.

I've been blessed to know all 4 grandparents plus some of my great grandparents. My mom's been living with Nana for a while now so I've seen her every year (except last year while is a whole other thing, ask me later) for at least the last decade. Give or take (if you have a better accounting of my time, let me know and I'll correct this.)

She was an old school Catholic, refusing to eat fish on Fridays and attending mass every Saturday afternoon (she also liked to sleep in). If Catholicism or Christianity is the right answer, she should be in good shape about now. I'm also pretty sure that if whatever after life she's in has her meeting up with Joey she'll wonder what went wrong (in the sense that she was sure he was a sinner who was going to hell, as one does with a spouse). The joke is hysterical to me but possibly hard to explain. Just smile and nod.

It's probably also worth mentioning she would have LOVED the show Trading Spaces because sometimes, like when my mother was in the hospital (also at least once with my aunt), Nana would do a surprise make-over on some part of the house. Imagine my mother's surprise at finding her kitchen and dining room transformed including contact paper on the dining room table top. I was too young at the time to understand that contact paper is not meant as a furniture surface. My mother, weak from the hospital, probably didn't need the complication of needing to evict her mother ASAP in order to un-make-over those rooms... my mother has endured quite a bit in her time.

Oh and OMG baseball and football. Indians and Browns. Would it have killed her to pick decent teams? Perhaps that's what happened today (that also won't land well but here and now, funny).

She loved baseball and football and westerns and Dr.Quinn Medicine Woman which, technically, may be in because it's a western. I don't know that she loved it as much as it was the latest show that was always on the TV when there wasn't a game.

And she loved her grand kids. And great grand kids. And great great grand kids.

Especially the grandsons. And there are only 2 of us. I had a good run while it lasted.

Normally I'd post a song and Nana wasn't someone I associate with music at all. Except out of the blue one time when she asked me about Nana Mouskari. The "Nana" part was happenstance, I think, and it was lucky for me that Mouskari was on a record label that one of my friends worked at. I think I got CDs, cassettes and possibly a cardboard stand-up of her (Mouskari, not my Nana, which would be cool but weird) sent to me that week.  Maybe she listened to them, possibly not. But it gives me a song to close out on.

She is survived by 4 children, 9 grandchildren (one passed decades ago which is another sad story), somewhere between 8 and 12 great grandchildren (I'm not really into enumerating right now) and at least 4 great great grandchildren. And my 3 dogs, I guess.

Rest in peace dude.

On MLK and what he accomplised

This is a compelling diary from DailyKos (and triple points for "vis-à-vis white people"):

So what did they do? 
They told us: whatever you are most afraid of doing vis-à-vis white people, go do it. Go ahead down to city hall and try to register to vote, even if they say no, even if they take your name down.
Go ahead sit at that lunch counter. Sue the local school board. All things that most black people would have said back then, without exaggeration, were stark raving insane and would get you killed. 
If we do it all together, we'll be OK. 
They made black people experience the worst of the worst, collectively, that white people could dish out, and discover that it wasn't that bad. They taught black people how to take a beating -- from the southern cops, from police dogs, from fire department hoses. They actually coached young people how to crouch, cover their heads with their arms and take the beating. They taught people how to go to jail, which terrified most decent people. 
And you know what? The worst of the worst, wasn't that bad.

Once people had been beaten, had dogs sicked on them, had fire hoses sprayed on them, and been thrown in jail, you know what happened?
These magnificent young black people began singing freedom songs in jail.

That, my friends, is what ended the terrorism of the south. Confronting your worst fears, living through it, and breaking out in a deep-throated freedom song. The jailers knew they had lost when they beat the crap out of these young Negroes and the jailed, beaten young people began to sing joyously, first in one town then in another. This is what the writer, James Baldwin, captured like no other writer of the era.
Please let this sink in. It wasn't marches or speeches. It was taking a severe beating, surviving and realizing that our fears were mostly illusory and that we were free.