Happy Canada Day. 150 years of Confederation.
This morning I found out a dear friend lost her young niece by suicide: the permanent solution to a temporary problem.
If you are at all sensitive, perceptive, or empathetic, this world seems very cruel because you are keenly aware of suffering and inequality. Most of us do not have the power to easily alleviate suffering or correct inequality. It leads to a state of impotent frustration.
My first verifiable memory was our family gathering around the TV to watch the Beatles on Ed Sullivan. I was 4, my older brother was 17. It was a Sunday night.
My first apartment downtown in the 80’s was near a repertory cinema, and I could decide at the last minute to attend a midnight screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Full audience participation was de rigueur, and sometimes I would look around before leaving and find rice or toast or a newspaper to bring for props. The story is ridiculous and utterly absurd, and has become beloved like an often told, but X-rated, fairy tale. It doesn’t take much exposure to chant along with the audience responses, and repeated theatre viewings only enhance the experience.
Even successful people can be suffering privately. Those Born to be Artists tend to explore the world through an empathic lens. Bruce Springsteen’s characters and montages are only possible, because as a writer he was able to slip on the coat, or walk in the shoes of other (usually struggling) people.
The Greatest Boxer.
The Greatest Muslim American.
The Greatest International Symbol of Non Violent Protest.
When I wrote about David Bowie I noted that the only male celebrities I ever impersonated for Hallowe’en were Bowie and Prince. The two things that stick with me about Prince are in contradiction (like life).
I found his songs joyously sex-positive. The women got off in his songs. They did not exist as simply a plaything for a man. (I wasn’t familiar with his earliest stuff, and the film Purple Rain didn’t appeal to me. I am reading that I might find those misogynist.) The Prince I listened to loved women. They were also respected as full musicians in his band, not simple novelties.
“Oh no, you were right! There’s an actual chain gang over there, that field before the intersection by the hedge, see??”
“Yup, Brian said they’d be a lot more visible as you get to the border. We’ll see the camps too. Who knew Plattsburgh would ever be so well known?”
Natalie shifted lower in her seat but still peered out the window. “They’re all so young. What do you think they did? Continue reading
After we cross the border, the bus stops at three sleepy upstate towns before we get to Albany. Plattsburgh is a stop and go. At Glens Falls we pick up three new passengers. My traveling companions are paired in the seats ahead of me, leaving me with an empty aisle seat.
Before I look up to assess whether I am likely to get a seatmate, I take note that the men across the aisle have already loaded up their empty seats with belongings and I consider moving my bag to claim my space as well. The young man coming down the aisle is wearing a baggy beige sort of two piece jumpsuit. He has short dark curly hair and a tan probably Latino face. He takes the seat next to me with his leg sprawling out into the aisle, the knee bobbing up and down. He doesn’t seem to have any bags, but is clutching an envelope with papers in one hand. Continue reading
Memorable men were born on January 8: David Bowie, Elvis Presley, and my dad.
David Bowie left us in a way that has moved me to my very core. His longtime friend and producer Tony Visconti has already been widely quoted:
He always did what he wanted to do. And he wanted to do it his way and he wanted to do it the best way. His death was no different from his life—a work of Art. He made Blackstar for us, his parting gift. I knew for a year this was the way it would be. I wasn’t, however, prepared for it. He was an extraordinary man, full of love and life. He will always be with us. For now, it is appropriate to cry.