26 November 2007

The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time….

Forgive me for talking about James Taylor again this week. I’m not obsessed, really, but I think One Man Band is worth mentioning again.

Thanksgiving was a lot of fun but tiring. After a day of visitors, including excellent wine brought over by my old friend, Sasha (also from Connecticut), and two games of scrabble with Abby and Rebecca, Friday was a time to settle in and not move. Abby and I spent the day inside, watched some TV and popped in the One Man Band DVD that came with the CD. Holy COW!!! What a treat!

As I mentioned last week we had gone to see him perform this show here in Los Angeles when he toured. That night was amazing and this DVD, Produced and Directed by Don Mischer, brought that home in more ways than one. First of all – who could think that you could recreate that night – but you can. The way it was filmed made you feel as if you were part of the audience, and not just a camera capturing the music and images of the evening. There were a lot of wide angle shots intermingled with some delicious close-ups but I never felt like a camera, instead I felt like a fly on the wall.

Thankfully Mr. Mischer did not use any cheap tricks and allowed the music and JT to speak for themselves. Where he could have brought the images that often played behind JT to the forefront, he instead allowed us to see them as someone in the third row would have seen them. Not using that production trick meant that I felt more involved in the ‘evening’ and less like I was watching typical concert footage. I felt that same way the first time I watched his 1993 release Squibnocket – a taped rehearsal on Martha’s Vineyard for his 1992 tour that was originally broadcast on The Disney Channel. Mr. Mischer also, thankfully, shied away from too many gratuitous audience shots that so many are guilty of. When I’m watching someone perform on a screen I don’t want to see annoying people singing along – I want to see the artist and their hands playing their instrument. There was, indeed, a healthy balance between the audience and JT.

While I admit since I had seen the concert first hand I may be slightly prejudicial towards liking this DVD, however, there is no denying that there was a magic to the evening that is definitely an art to recreate without making the viewer feel like an unwanted guest at a large party. Abby and I both felt that we were at the show again only with better seats and no noisy L.A. people on their cell phones.

The whole package of One Man Band, CD and DVD, is worth your hard earned cash. Sometimes there really is nothing better than an afternoon on the couch, shades drawn, candle lit, enjoying the passage of time.

Thanks for tuning in….Until next week…CHEERS!!

19 November 2007

If I’m well, you can tell that she’s been with me….

There are a ton of things I’m grateful for this Thanksgiving week – there is much to be happy for, much to be celebrated, and much to look forward to. Life is good. But, life is better this week with the much anticipated release of James Taylor’s One Man Band CD/DVD - the live collection of songs that he recorded at The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, Massachusetts in the heart of my beloved Berkshires – a culmination of tunes from his first semi - solo tour in over thirty years (he is accompanied by Larry Goldings).

Not only does it remind me of the most amazing show Abby and I have ever seen together (this past February at The Wilshire Theatre – read my post from 26 Feb – “In my mind I’m gone to Carolina.”) but it is like listening to an old friend tell some new stories all the while taking me home. I’m not sure if I’m more homesick listening to this CD or if I’m comforted again that home is where my heart is. Home is New England and North Carolina. Home is with Abby and Phineas. Home is wherever my mind travels to when I get lost in the music. But no matter what or where – this CD is like going home.

There are of course the classic tunes to be heard here – “Something In The Way She Moves”, “You’ve Got A Friend” “Secret Of Life”, “Never Die Young”, "Sweet Baby James" (see below) and of course, my forever favourite “Carolina In My Mind”. It’s a definite must have for any fan, whether you’re meeting him for the first time or whether he defined your musical childhood. Frankly, it doesn’t matter that you think you’ve heard these songs a thousand times, and maybe you have, but no matter what - you’ve never heard them like this. This is music to be grateful for. Music to be inspired by. THIS is MUSIC. www.jamestaylor.com or www.myspace.com/officialjamestaylor

Thanks for tuning in….Until next week….Happy Thankgiving!......CHEERS!!

12 November 2007

Finds a convenient streetlight steps out of the shade, Says something like you and me babe how about it ?

A love struck Romeo sings a streetsus serenade
Laying everybody low with a love song that he made
Finds a convenient streetlight steps out of the shade
Says something like you and me babe how about it?

Juliet says hey its Romeo you nearly gave me a heart attack
He’s underneath the window she’s singing hey la my boyfriends back
You shouldn’t come around here singing up at people like that
Anyway what you gonna do about it ?

Juliet, the dice were loaded from the start
And I bet and you exploded into my heart
And I forget the movie song
When you wanna realize it was just that the time was wrong Juliet?

Come up on different streets they both were streets of shame
Both dirty both mean yes and the dream was just the same
And I dreamed your dream for you and your dream is real
How can you look at me as if I was just another one of your deals?

Where you can fall for chains of silver you can fall for chains of gold
You can fall for pretty strangers and the promises they hold
You promised me everything you promised me think and thin
Now you just says oh Romeo yeah you know I used to have a scene with him

Juliet when we made love you used to cry
You said I love you like the stars above I’ll love you ‘till I die
There’s a place for us you know the movie song
When you gonna realize it was just that the time was wrong, Juliet?

I can’t do the talk like they talk on T.V.
And I can’t do a love song like the way its meant to be
I can’t do everything but Id do anything for you
I can’t do anything except be in love with you

And all I do is miss you and the way we used to be
All do is keep the beat and bad company
All I do is kiss you through the bars of a rhyme
Julie I’d do the stars with you any time

Juliet when we made love you used to cry
You said I love you like the stars above Ill love you till I die
There’s a place for us you know the movie song
When you gonna realize it was just that the time was wrong Juliet?

A love struck Romeo sings a streetsus serenade
Laying everybody low with me a love song that he made
Finds a convenient streetlight steps out of the shade
Says something like you and me babe how about it?

(care of: http://www.lyricsfreak.com and see the video below)

“Romeo and Juliet” – by Dire Straits - one of the most amazing and coolest songs ever written. Not only because of it’s sweetness but it’s literary depth and subversive ode to William Shakespeare, one of our greatest, most romantic writers ever. Need I say more?

Sometime nearly two weeks ago I had this idea that all the construction noise I wrote of last week was getting to me and that it was time to go camping to get out of the city. I needed some peace and quiet and so did Abby. Then she got sick. She’s still sick – or getting over the cold so we didn’t go last weekend as I had hoped. Then I got sick – some intestinal nastiness that I still don’t know what it was or where it came from all I know is it kept coming. The noise was still getting to me, especially after a LONG week on the couch, so this past Friday I psyched myself to get better, made some hummus, and drank nearly a bottle of Pepto. YUM!

After dressing for where we were heading and not where we woke up (a necessary skill to acquire whence living in an area where you can wake up in shorts and drive into a snow storm two hours later) we hit the road Saturday morning to head on up to Idyllwild – one of our favourite places to camp in the Southern part of this state. It was a beautiful drive on up the mountain to nearly 7,000 feet of elevation and a twenty degree temperature drop. We thought we were so awesome and ‘together’. I had put on a long sleeve shirt, t-shirt and brought a fleece for extra measure. I mean hey – we’re east coast folks – we know how to dress for a night in the 30’s. Right?

Yeah, right. Not so fast you city dweller. I mean seriously. Did you really LOOK at the temperature on the internet? Idiot. As we pulled up to our favourite campground, and Dire Straits “Romeo and Juliet” played on my over-stuffed ipod, I stepped out of the car after the two hour drive and got slammed by the chill. No. I’m no wimp. I’m the girl who doesn’t mind walking around in snow with nary more than a thick fleece and a wool hat on. I’m the girl who thrives in the cold and hates the heat. I’m the girl who lives for this time of year and never turns the heat on. I love this shit. But I admit I was caught off guard. I hadn’t expected to feel the chill the way that I did. It’s different in the mountains – that’s for sure. Or it’s different when you haven’t eaten in a week.

After tooling around the campground we settled on a site that we had never stayed in. It was near the entrance of the park and not close to anyone but a large (as if there is any other kind) RV with an untold number of people inside. Our site was small, well protected by a stone wall and was just large enough for my small three season North Face tent (I’m not a label whore I assure you, but they make damn good crap and this tent has been in my life for no less than 12 years). As is my job when we camp – I set up the tent. It’s mine and I’ve been using it for too many years and too many trips – I can do it easily, in darkness, light and in any weather situation. We made our home for the night and hiked into town to walk around, people watch, window shop and to buy a much needed scarf to keep me warm.

Since there are no campfires allowed it was an early night in the tent. Scrabble, vodka, and bed – all by 9p. and thanks to the Pepto fourteen uninterrupted hours of getting to know my North Face sleeping bag as we tried to stay out of the chill and stay warm. I know what you’re thinking – really – they just make good shit and they stand by their product – so why not give them a shout-out? That bag has seen more places than most Americans and has been a very good friend to me for many, many years. North Face, when they aren’t making designer crap, actually makes really good camping gear.

Because of the early night – it was an early morning. Ah – the peace and quiet of the mountains, the fresh air, the chill in my bones as we ate our hummus breakfast and I drank my coffee cold because I was too lazy to fire up the stove. It was truly blissful. It reminded me that I need to camp to save my life. It’s not just some thing I do because it’s a cheap place to stay – it’s something my father taught me well to do and somewhere along the line it has become a life saver; a way to deal with living in a city and a way to clear my head.

Until the moment when the people in the RV fired up their noisy golf cart. To their small credit it was after 9a at the time. Ok – I get it – you’re going into town to get some coffee or a Sunday times (not NY I’m guessing) – I understand that not everyone wants to walk/hike or make any attempt to be a responsible consumer (they are sleeping in an RV so really what could I expect from them?). But what I saw was truly unbelievable and absolutely the worst of all “L.A.” behaviour I have ever witnessed. I thought I’d seen it all living here. People driving to the store that’s a block away – or spending too much time jockeying for a closer parking space for their Hummer. But really. This was too much.

As Abby and I watched through the trees and pontificated on why these guys would need their golf cart the answer slowly came to light. Ever so slowly. These two guys who could use a lot of help from Weight Watchers did not disappoint in pointing out the reasons why they are such fat asses. As they clutched their box of doughnuts (ok, I made that part up) they climbed into the golf cart that was decked out with mag wheels and a stereo (no I’m not making that up) and headed towards the entrance of the Park that was all 300 feet away. Just when we thought they were heading into town they turned the cart toward the bathroom. Yep. The bathroom. It was actually about 320 feet away. I’m not kidding. These lard sucking, grease loving lazy pieces of crap actually drove, I can only surmise, to take a crap. I’m guessing these are the guys who walk through life wondering why their pants, and other things, have gotten smaller. GEE, YA THINK?!?!?! Amazing. NOW I’ve seen it all.

Thanks for tuning in….Until next week….CHEERS!!!

04 November 2007

Baby I was not the one, I guess you know that now, but I kept you real distracted for awhile….

He’s the distinctive voice of Del Amitri and if you either know me personally or have been a loyal reader of this blog than you know they are one of my long-time favourite bands and Justin Currie can write no wrong. I can’t explain it, but there is something in his voice and his writing that has touched me deeply and kept me inspired as a writer for as long as I can remember.

I think it all dates back to the Del Amitri debut release, Waking Hours, with “Kiss This Thing Goodbye” in 1988 and came full force with 1992’s, Change Everything, from which came “Always The Last To Know”, “As Soon As The Tide Comes In” and my favourite, “Be My Downfall”. But the album that gets me the most and has shaped me more than any other is Twisted. There are too many great songs on this collection to list but I will mention one tune, a tune I actually dare to cover, “Tell Her This” (see the video below). The song in so many ways embodies how I am in my relationships (sad, I know), how I feel about the world and what I aspire to be as a songwriter – devastatingly honest – though when it comes down to it I can rarely open myself up to that level; I am not as brave as I should be and thusly fail miserably at being that songwriter. I am not Justin Currie, but I sure wish I were.

It is with great excitement that a couple of weeks ago I downloaded his solo release, What Is Love For? As with his work with Del Amitri these songs are personal, catchy and at times heart wrenching all the while being romantic and yet bitter like warm piss beer in a dirty pub. Though I think the title of the CD is lame, (the original title, Rebound, is far less cheesy), I can get past that and dive into the music. Because no one writes heartache like Justin Currie.

“What is love for? What do I do with love I can’t use for her anymore? Where do I put this beautiful suit another memoir? What is love for?” (from “What Is Love For?”)

“I’d love to hurt you without you ever knowing. I could desert you without you ever seeing me gone...” (from “Where Did I Go”)

“…but Only Love makes killing time so cruel. So many things that you must get ‘round to, a dripping tap amongst mail to sort through, if you could just get your mind to clear, but it’s Only Love and it keeps you waiting here….” (from “Only Love”)

“My keepsakes have their places at the back of drawer or slipped between pages and stuck on a shelf. But I’m still in love, I’m still in love, I’m still in love with nothing but myself…” (from “Still In Love”)

And my favourite song on this CD:

“When you dance and your baby’s dancing too, than I will walk through you…when you wake in the silence of your room than I will walk through you.” (from “Walking Through You”)

If you’re looking for a dance record, this is not it. The production values are more mellow pop/rock than hip, teenage one - hit - wonder dance crap. Of course, you have a lot of electric guitars, beautiful, haunting piano, drums and the occasional orchestral movement with harp-infused brilliance. Make no mistake, this is not a sleepy collection of tunes, this is music that enhances as opposed to drowning out the thought-provoking lyrics. If you turn your head you might think this is just another Del Amitri CD with less rock and less roll. That’s ok….he is afterall the main songwriter for a band that has reputedly broken up, or has it?

Either way, Justin’s voice shines clear and his point is never lost. Love sucks. It’s hard work. But we stick around because it takes us to places we can never go without it. Love is good. Love is in everyday places and no matter how you feel – you need it. Like that warm piss beer in a dirty pub and the woman you can’t drink away. www.myspace.com/justincurrie & www.delamitri.com

If you’ve been following my blog than you’ve heard me mention the decimation of this once-quaint nieghbourhood. In a few short years we’ve gone from homey, two story four-plexes to monstrous five story, double lot, thirty-five unit blocks of ugliness. Councilman Jack Weiss and The City of Los Angeles, seeing green and reportedly being bribed by developers, who also reportedly bribe the city inspectors, have told their constituents that they were ‘cracking down’ on over-development and hearing our complaints about more traffic, more smog, less available street parking, and thusly because of the thousands more people in the area, more noise. Bullshit. They have done nothing to slow anything down and in fact things seem to be speeding up.

It’s very sad to see this quiet neighbourhood disappearing and of course, being duped by that A-Hole Jack Weiss, makes all this sting even more. This is a man who came to our neighbourhood meetings (United Neighbors for Responsible Development), shook our hands, and promised us that he was ‘on our side’. He told us he was ‘listening’ to us, reading the traffic reports, the noise reports, and he would do everything he could to protect our way of life in this little corner of the city. Of course he never told us he was saying the same thing to the Developers.

He played us. Hard. Many people are very fed up and have made considerable efforts to effect change – of course, not the people who have moved in in recent years, but those of us who have lived here a long time and came here because of the quiet, ‘you’re not in a city’ feel to these few blocks of concrete that are nestled between Hollywood and Beverly Hills. I could go on and on but I won’t; if you’d like to read more about the efforts to rid our district of this scum-sucking, dumpster licking low life go to: www.recalljackweiss.com

The reason I bring all this is up is because I’m not just fed up with the noise and the dirt, I’m fed up because I’m tired of getting leered at by the construction workers every time I leave my house. It’s an odd thing. Don’t they have better things to do with their time, like, say, I don’t know, working, than ogle a woman as she goes by? Why, just the other day I hopped on my bike to run an errand and no less than three guys stopped what they were doing to watch me ride by – I’m not kidding and I’m not exaggerating. Where do they find the time? No wonder the building never seems to cease.

Now that it’s cooling down enough to run outside, and now that I’m not working and thusly running during the day, I actually have designed my run AROUND the many construction sites (there are no less than FIVE in a two block radius of here) that are currently on operation. I can’t believe I have to do this but to be honest, I don’t want to feel like I’m on display when I go out for a run. I don’t want to feel eyes on me.

The thing is, I never used to mind, but lately I do. As I feel that this area is being invaded by large machines, disgusting, trash-dropping, pissing in public loud music playing workers who yell all day I feel my nerves being pushed over the edge. I don’t find the attention of these guys flattering in the least. It’s an annoyance. I mean, it’s not like I’m the prettiest girl around, either. I can only imagine when a REAL pretty girl walks by. I mean it’s bad enough that guys shout at you from a car on occasion – and not always nice things, but to have to deal with this when you are just going about your business and doing your thing is a real pain in the ass and I can’t wait for this shit to slow down…if it ever does.

Thanks for tuning in…Until next Sunday….CHEERS!!