Musical Milliner

September 22, 2014

Vivace!

Musical Milliner offers her kind regards to all of you who have hung in there with her the past five years as she has been circling the Inferno that was her life. She’s/I’m (changing tenses here) glad to be alive, and pleased to tell you that despite dedicated and focused attempts to dismantle my psyche and resources, I am well.

On this lovely atumnal equinox, I feel…balanced. I swear, I didn’t  plan that last sentence. Exploited the opportunity, certainly.images

My sons are thriving. I am rebuilding my business, and I am experiencing one of the most productive phases of my life in music.

Socializing is still a bit of a challenge. Ever the introvert when not performing, but I am taking steps to improve.

Here’s the thing: I recently heard a song which reminds us that after so many years on this journey we all share, comes a time to lose some of the load. Keep what you need or want, and continue in a leisurely stroll toward the sign marked “exit.” It takes so much effort to keep track of all the emotional hording, and is so unnecessary.

Who knows, I may even write an upbeat lyric or two. God bless the lot of you.

May 26, 2014

Disordinata

  images (Revised 9/18/17)

The destruction of a long-term  relationship, leading to her hitting rock bottom.  She is sometimes delusional.  In her addled mind, she sometimes believes she’s lost all of her friends, most of whom were mutual friends of the partnership, her in-laws, her community.

This delusion is the result of wrong thinking. When she has a clear mind, she sees all the people who really care about her, and have been there all along, some since childhood. Once again , they are in the foreground of her life, reminding her of her value as a human being, as a friend, as a mother. Yes, she has lost some friends in the war. Friends who were there for a season, and have moved on. It’s not a bad thing. It just is.

 Back to the delusion, she knows it is all her fault. Of course it is. That is what he says.  His mental illness, his failures, all bad occurrences and recurrences would never be, but for  her decision to recind the contract.  She has ruined his life. Forever. That’s what his family takes as gospel. It’s a family of enablers.

But it’s not all her fault. Get real.

His mother prayed for the demise of his son’s marriage to this unsubmissive woman, this vegetarian, teetotling feminist who breastfed her children forever, and didn’t change her name at marriage. A woman who took off to one of the top summer opera  Young Artists Program for 12 weeks months after her wedding, and the following two summers, and weeks periodically for the rest of the year.

In other words, she was a bad wife according to the mother-in-law, and she fed that narrative to her son, the husband.

Among tha many gems uttered by his mother was the following: “There is nothing wrong with my children, it’s just the people they married.”

Do you get that?

Aren’t we, as women expected to  keep our marriages together? If they fail, is it not, by default, we who are to blame?

Do you get that?

 The meek little wifey model disappeared decades ago. It’s still practiced in fundementalist cultures all over the world, including the United States. Society has evolved and expanded, and some people aren’t able to stretch their imaginations and adapt. They refuse. The in-laws close ranks and believe whatever it that their son or brother, her husband, tells them. And it’s always the kids who suffer from the disconnection. You shun the mother, and wonder why the children will do anything to avoid spending time with those people. The children are loyal to their mother. They observed firsthand the abuse over the years, and how their father’s family did nothing to help.

The same woman once said, “I like my children. I just don’t like other people’s children.”

Does she get that ? Skilled dispensor of passive-agression, her mother-in-law?

Does she wonder why her grandchildren are not in touch? Does she understand they why don’t come around? Of course, that is their mother’s fault. Never mind the children are adults. That is their family culture. Submit, conform, or you can’t play with us.

What am I talking about? I am trying to reconcile how I went from someone with a good education, a prodigious talent, a career, self-respect. A singer with big competition wins A confident woman who collapsed into a beaten down, humiliated, & depressed woman in a violent marriage. How did that happen?  I need to check in, look into this hatbox which I shoved up on a high shelf, and check my compass.  I hate thinking about all of this. But I’m stuck again. What’s working? What’s static?

I am ready to write about these things now. My children are all adults. This is also their history.

(c)GoshGusMusic2014,2017

August 5, 2010

Nella Luce: Inside the Light

For a time we played with sweetness
Chasing after loves protection
Safely sheltered from our darkness
Searching signs to seek direction
Reaching toward the light

Shelter from the storms
Hiding from the madness
Within a house of glass

So sure, so strong this time we felt it
Cold darkness losing to the the dawn
Reborn hope and plans- we meant it
Two hearts turned round again as one
Safe inside the light

Cracks appeared, we fell adrift
Of dreaming twilight by the sea
Our clashing ways couldn’t fit
In anger pushed us to be free
While seeking out the light

Shelter from the storms
Hiding from the madness
Within a house of glass

With all my heart I wish you well
And pray you’ll find the girl you need
Someone whose love will help you see
The love you hold inside the light

(c)GoshGusMusic(ascap)2010

July 27, 2010

Luce del giorno: Cinquain VI and VII

(c)cjarc
Cinquain VI

First light
Eyelids clenched tight
“You are not here if I don’t look”
Child says.

Defy
The itch to peek
Beyond paralysis
To ascertain if there is need
Knocking

Embrace
Hope monsters flee
Replaced by gentle sun
Blessed by all warm love around me
Goodness.

Cinquain VII

Compline
Comes round. Think hard.
Take measure of my life
What has been done or left undone?
We’re asked.

Useful
Perhaps useless
Charity matters most
Above all choices one can choose
To love.

Loving
When most challenged
Scrubs away at the dross
Which entombs the beauty within
Brightly.

(c)GoshGusMusic(ascap)2010/photo (c)cjarc/Grace Cathedral

November 12, 2009

Tutti i Fratelli and the Social Contract

imgres Oh, what a month it’s been. While distracted by a relapsed illness, blinds drawn against the world, the world has moved along without my attention or participation. Domestic debates over health care continue ad nauseum, and quite frankly I am worn out over discussions of the economy and the endless gaming in the Capital. It appears we are fully back to gloves off and business as usual after a brief respite. The predictability of the political cycle creates cynicism which results in apathy. The worst is when one becomes apathetic about apathy.

Things are no better elsewhere, but my attention was piqued by two ongoing issues which fall under the broad spectrum of human rights and social justice. Two issues while not dichotomous, do spin in separate orbits around the same planet. As a writer who is working at tightening up some of my random wanderings, this presents a crossroads. Do I offer both issues and then go about explaining the connection, or do I pen two essays? I suppose the twin can contain the bridge, but I’ll construct it another time.

That’s the plan, then. When I get to the other side, we can discuss my term grade. Now, off we go to serious matters.

Prima Parte
A month ago, a gorgeous young man died of a previously undetected congenital heart condition. This lovely and talented thirty-three years young fellow, Stephen Gately, was a member of the Dublin “boy band” Boyzone, a group hugely popular in the UK, including New Zealand and Australia, the Continent and Asia. The group has yet to break into the American music scene in a significant way.

Inadvertently, Gately, an actor, songwriter and one of the lead singers of Boyzone, became an unwitting poster child for gay rights back in 1999 when he was forced to come out on the eve of a titillating gossip piece in a junky English tabloid, The Sun.

“On 16 June 1999, The Sun newspaper covered its front page with what it described as a “World Exclusive” and the headline, ‘Boyzone Stephen: I’m gay and I’m in love”‘. At the age of 23, Gately sold his story to the newspaper because he feared a former member of Boyzone’s security was about to sell the story. (BBC News. 16 June 1999. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/370073.stm)

Look at that again. Gately was 23. A bottom-feeding journalist, and I use the term journalist with reservation, set about to create a sensation with a quick cash return. The result was huge storm. It remains so today. Gately, although out to a tight circle, was not prepared to be the locus of the gay youth community. Struggles ensued, but Gately soldiered on, and in 2003, after being introduced by Elton John and husband David Furnish to an internet businessman, Andrew Cowles, the pair celebrated a commitment ceremony (The Australian. http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,26210611-26040,00.html. Retrieved 16 October 2009).
In 2006, they registered as domestic partners in London (Pink News. http://www.pinknews.co.uk/news/articles/2005-857.html).

It’s hard to grasp in the United States the intensity Gately’s death had on people in the UK. The outpouring of disbelief and affection from dignitaries, fans, other performing artists, and ordinary people dominated the news.

It was due to the unfortunate lack of judgement by the publisher, as well as an ill-timed case of bad taste that had Daily Mail columnist Jan Moir inciting mourners into angry activists. Her assessment was insensitive and ignorant, and read as if written by someone who had no historical sense of the past forty years since Stonewall whacked us up the side of the head in 1969. To further the offense, the piece appeared one day before the funeral. The despicable tabloid was inundated with complaints and demands for Moir’s brooming. Advertisers pulled print adverts. In every corner, Op-Ed keyboards were smoking.

A few respected popular figures made use of their access to express the general outrage and frustration. From there began a cycle of sandbox warfare. I don’t mean to make light of the situation with that term. Perhaps “ginormous pissing contest” is a more accurate description. Glib? Yes, but the picture illustrates the scene. Somewhere in the muddle people who were already in terrible pain were hurting even more.

The burden of Moir’s piece is that Gately’s death is connected in some unspecified way to the fact that he was gay.

Though the official announcement after he was found dead in a Majorca hotel room was that he died of natural causes and that there were no suspicious circumstances, Moir writes:

“Hang on a minute. Something is terribly wrong with the way this incident has been shaped and spun into nothing more than an unfortunate mishap on a holiday weekend…

The sugar-coating on this fatality is so saccharine-thick that it obscures whatever bitter truth lies beneath. Healthy and fit 33-year-old men do not just climb into their pyjamas and go to sleep on the sofa, never to wake up again.

Whatever the cause of death is, it is not, by any yardstick, a natural death.” (Jan Moir, The Daily Mail, Friday 16 October 2009)

“Her evidence for that claim is non-existent. Instead, she resorts to innuendo and goes on to make a leap of stunning illogicality by suggesting that the death “strikes another blow to the happy-ever-after myth of civil partnerships.” (Roy Greenslade Friday 16 October 2009 13.33 BST guardian.co.uk)

She further snipes on drug use the night Gately died. Witnesses and toxicology reports concur cannabis was present. Are we still labeling cannabis as a “drug?” Besides, any causal relationship between cannabis and pulmonary edema is absurd. The Medical Examiner drew no such connections or conclusions.

Furthermore, her article called into question the integrity of domestic partnerships, by suggesting that gay couples participate in risky behaviors more often than heterosexual couples. Moir’s piece was structured on homophobic misinformation.

The original Daily Mail column was initially “Why there was nothing ‘natural’ about Stephen Gately’s death” which they toned  down to “A strange, lonely and troubling death . . .” in the online edition. That was an improvement?

Stephen Fry, infamous polymath who is one of the kindest of the kind, and most gentlemanly of gentlemen was particularly exercised over the matter and used his nearly one million Twitter followers to express his initial reaction.

“I gather a repulsive nobody writing in a paper no one of
decency would be seen dead with has written something
loathsome and inhumane.”

Harsh words from a fellow rarely given to such language. A follow-up tweet gave the web address for the Press Complaints Commission. By then the news was viral. The PCC site crashed before noon.

Fry and others have endured criticism for speaking out. This is ridiculous nonsense. Thank God that when hate mongers spew their slime, we have a few artfully articulate people who can and do speak up. Fry is lovely, but he is human, and has stepped in a pile or two. He is so transparently nice that when this has happened, he immediately owns it, apologises profusely, sometimes to the point of irritation, and moves along.

Moir, in her retraction the following week, made it even worse by trying to explain herself. Her column was fluffed with defensive rationalizations. She apologised, but in that irksome way that devalues responsibility. The words, “if I have caused distress…” is a non-apology.

“I would like to say sorry if I have caused distress by the insensitive timing of the column, published so close to the funeral.” (Jan Moir, 23 October 2009, http://www.dailymail.co.uk)

There has been grumbling lobbed back over the fence from conservative sources, including Moir herself, which blame social networking for the demise of balanced opinion, thereby creating an atmosphere in which personal opinion is not respected. There has been even more grumbling over an internet fueled conspiracy to promote liberal causes by…too much enthusiasm for social networking. Pardon? Statistics show a broad majority of social network users of Twitter and Facebook do trend to fancy progressive and liberal thinking. Is that a conspiracy, or is it just a demographic?

Surely there are other examples of the value of social networking beyond mundane and gratuitous tweets by starlets? It can be a tickle. I take pleasure in following Fry on Twitter. But there are indeed more important uses available.

In June 2009, Twitter and Facebook users played a pivotal role in the Iranian elections by supporting what began as a DDoS attack against the President, after which the government shut down local internet for an hour, then restarted with a lower bandwidth and filters intended to make accessing social networks and YouTube impossible. Cell phone calling and texting was nearly impossible, and all BBC affiliated sites were blocked (Hiawatha Bray 19 June 2009 “Finding a way around Iranian censorship: Activists utilize Twitter, Web tricks to sidestep blocks”. Boston Globe. http://www.boston.com/business/technology/articles/2009/06/).

The response of the Global Village was to set up proxy servers. Iranian citizens and foreign journalists (many of whom kept behind doors to prevent expulsion or worse) could document the protests and inform the outside world in real-time of the atrocities wrought by the government against the protesting people. For two weeks the Green Revolution rode on the back of the internet.

I participated for five hours the first night and a few hours each day that first week by way of a temporary anonymous Twitter account. The content of one’s tweets mattered not, but the frequency did. On and on it went as users set their location to GMT +3.5, Tehran time. Hundreds of thousands of tweets overwhelmed the local server. Using proxy servers citizens were able to post to YouTube and update international news agencies. People were able to communicate with friends and family members both in and outside Iran. It was one of the few times in my life wherein I felt I was part of something much bigger than I could ever fully understand. But I now know precisely what “Global Village” means.

Put your conspiracy theories there, Ms. Moir, because the Twitter Revolution was Oz behind the curtain. The Green Curtain. You caught a piece of it yourself when you wrote your column about the late Stephen Gately. Mind your manners because news really does travel fast.

Fry is for better or worse, a celebrity in the UK. Cambridge educated at Queen’s College, Fry is a delightfully literate individual who is said to hold a BBC record for saying “fuck” on TV more than anybody else. The difference between the American style of celeb and the UK brand has to do with using one’s renown commensurate with one’s strengths. Americans don’t always grasp this subtlety.

An overwhelming majority of the publicly recognised species do not have the resources and skills to write or speak extemporaneously as Fry and his peers. But these others, primarily confined to life in the shadows of a nine letter landmark on a hill in Los Angeles do possess an even broader talent. That ability is an obligation to support specific philanthropic associations. In doing so, they induce their fans, many of whom seem unaware of conditions elsewhere, into taking up causes to improve the health and well-being of our brothers and sisters in places on the world map where the need is urgent.

Speak up! Speak up against injustice if language is your skill. Help improve the planet in other ways by using your time, talent and treasure according to your ability. Tweet for fun, but don’t forget the powerful medium for change you possess with your phone and computer.

And remember that for as far as we’ve come in Western culture, equal protection and civil rights are not universally embraced. Not even in the West. Yet.

(c)GoshGusMusic(ascap)2009

September 30, 2009

Largo (yawn)

I just read a biography about one of my favorite singer-songwriters, James Taylor. I was disappointed. Not with Taylor, but with the author Ian Halperin, a self-styled “investigative journalist” who has received some positive attention, and has apparently worked as a musician from time-to-time. Pish. I scooted over to Amazon, where I read other reviews complaining of the poor writing. Mr. Taylor deserves better. The only way he and his colleagues are going to get it right is if they write autobiographies, or cooperate with a reputable biographer.

2.0 out of 5 stars
images Fire and Rain Creates Mud, September 30, 2009

I so very much wanted to like this book. When reading biographies of contemporary persons, I try to remember to take what I find with a grain of salt and be generous of the author’s bias and context. For one, we most often have individuals writing bios who are trained as journalists. Stylistically there is a conflict.  Journalists opine, write tight paragraphs out of necessity, and do not have time or space to develop a narrative.

Biographies require a narrative treatment. It’s a form which needs to retell and recreate conversations and situations. Details are everything. When I see writer X of Such and Thus Magazine authoring a biography, I understand what I am getting myself into. That’s my bias.

My patience is waning.

“Fire and Rain” has some documentation.  There is some worthy content. We learn a few new details. All good. However, I cringe every few pages over grammatical sloppiness. The greater crime is a lack of fact-checking. It causes one to question the author and publisher’s motives. Do we get this thing written, ship product out, and accept the shortcomings for the cash?  Apparently. Don’t publishers employ editors anymore? Mean, picky editors who force accountability and some conformity to basic standards?  Apparently not. Is it too much to ask that information be cited, and some footnotes available?

I’ll offer an example of this miserable lack of fact-checking.

On page 124, the author is discussing the anticipation surrounding Taylor’s follow-up record to his first U.S. release on the Warner label, Sweet Baby James. ( Note that Taylor’s actual first record, James Taylor, was on the Apple label, but the zoo that was Apple and it’s messy demise, kept the record from being well promoted. There was nobody handling A&R at the time.)  Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon made a huge impression. Sophomore albums usually sell fewer units than first releases, and that is an accepted pattern in the record industry. I run into frustration in the following sentence from paragraph three.

“Solo artists like Jackson Browne and Cat Stevens were enjoying much-publicized revivals, so it wasn’t difficult to predict that Taylor’s new album would see massive media exposure.”

Here is the problem.  Although Cat Stephen’s 1971 release, Teaser and the Fire Cat was his fifth album, he had not yet taken off in the United States. The two singles from the first three albums reached chart positions of 118 and 115 (Billboard).  He did much better in the UK. In 1970, Wild World, from his fourth album, Tea For the Tillerman, made 11 on the chart (ibid).  Songs from this record were featured in the Harold & Maude soundtrack. This is a pattern of an artist riding up in a nice arc. Teaser was the evidence of Stevens arrival, certainly not, as the author states, a revival.

As for Jackson Browne, the author is egregiously wrong.  In 1971, Browne released his *first* album, the eponymous Jackson Browne, fondly referred, to his initial chagrin, as Saturate Before Using due to the cover art by Henry Diltz. It was a much anticipated release in the industry from the man who had composed hits for other artists.

Borrow the book from the library or go to BookMooch.com as I did, where folks trade books. But keep the laptop handy because you’ll find yourself wanting to confirm certain details.

(c)GoshGusMusic(ascap)2009

September 24, 2009

Sataña Vieros Furioso

Filed under: Lyricist,raymond chandler,Santa Ana Winds,Songwriter,Uncategorized — by Musical Milliner @ 1:19 am
Tags:

imagesThey are coming. Yesterday, a few hours to remind us. Today it is still.  But tomorrow, or soon, we will feel the static electricity and the unease that pervades the LA Basin as the tumult increases.

The vientos de Satán have made plans and are on the rise.

“There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands’ necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge.”
—Raymond Chandler, “Red Wind” (1938).

Something about these winds disturb me to a near psychotic feeling of the flight reaction. It’s all too creepy and unsettling; I have to leave LA whether I am there for business or pleasure.

With the winds come the fires. It’s a two-fer. We build out and up into areas in which the natural ecosystem requires fires for rejuvenation. Does this stop the sprawl?  Will it ever? 

A few months later, if the rains beat down heavily and we are recovering from a drought cycle, there will be mud to contend with. Houses slipping down from their perches atop hillsides exhausted from water lust, and unable to absorb it.

In both cases, people seem astounded. Why the fires? How can we build fire-resistant houses that can stay attached to the staggering views? Common sense says nature always wins. Stupid wins, too, and we never learn.

The winds arrive, and I rev my wheels for a long drive up Interstate 5 to my adopted city of cool breezes. 

(c)GoshGusMusic(ascap)2009

May 24, 2009

Misfiled Lyrics

Filed under: depression,Musical Life,Songwriter — by Musical Milliner @ 8:16 pm
Tags: , ,

huge.47.238187

I have misfiled again. I must, must learn to trust again. How do I change deeply rooted habits of thinking and behavior?

I have nothing to give, and my friends needs as much as I do. I will not increase the burden. It will  make me feel worse   But  my dear friends won’t like hearing that nonsense.

My biggest fear is being misunderstood. It’s one of those days.

I am in a self-imposed exile. Not for anything another has done or not done. Rather, despite some improvement in my adjustment to big life changes, I feel utterly lonely and increasingly depressed. I am so self-consumed that I’ve nothing much left to give; it is all I can do to get through a day and meet my children’s needs.

Maybe the meds aren’t working, or I need an increase.  Maybe it’s perceptions and not issues with chemical re-uptake inhibition.

At the same time, my old friends, careful of showing favoritism and the appearance of choosing sides politely avoid me.  After church, I approached four different people to go have coffee or lunch. Everyone running off to get on with their holiday. I am overly sensitive at present, and not fun to hang around.

So I took myself to a favorite cafe, buzzing with life and interest. There was a window seat, and I fired up the laptop and juggled food and computing, sharing space with other Singletons. I was alone in the crowd. It was both disconcerting and ironic to look around me and see that most of the tables had one empty seat.

Afterward, I walked up and back six blocks each way, window shopping. Trying to shake this feeling. Ultimately I returned home to my empty house. Bad idea.

And again, I am paralyzed. Alone and unmotivated.  Able to write here, yet unable to get my songs written or sung.

I will go to my piano now and just play. Maybe getting inside the music? Some days,  the only cure which can soothe and heal.

(c)GoshGusMusic(ascap)2009

February 18, 2009

A New Key

images

Instrumentalists look at the key signature before beginning to play a new piece. Being a typical singer in this regard, I look at the inclusive range of notes. Two considerations: the extreme- how low, how high, and the tessitura, the Italian word for “texture” – the place where most of the notes call home.

For me, the parallels of these matters to my current situation is telling. What are my limits, my breadth of tolerance? How do I live in my home when it is no longer where I belong? How do I find my way to a comfortable tessitura? And how do I find the strength and stamina to live those long, arching lines and difficult passage work, which fly naturally from my throat, yet not from my environment?

So I begin. Not to fret over the key, because I own the gift of relative pitch. Rather, to find that tessitura which will lead me forward into a new way of living.

(c)GoshGusMusic(ascap)2009

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