Monday, July 30, 2007

Frank Zappa was the REAL poncho

"Now is that a real poncho or is that a Sears poncho, heh?" Frank Zappa asks the 'mystery man' in his song, "Cosmic Debris." And he should know - he did know - 'cuz he was the REAL poncho. He was as real as it gets down here.

Friday evening, I went to hear
Zappa Plays Zappa (ZPZ) at Meadowbrook Theater . . . that's Dweezil (Frank's son) Zappa's band - his labor of love, blood, sweat and tears to continue the legacy of his father's brilliant music. They were amazing. Dweezil, with still yet a little guidance from above - his father on guitar and vocals for a couple of songs via the big screen in the sky (above the stage, that is) - never missed a beat, which is saying MUCH more for his own talent than a simple "awesome job" compliment with a pat on the back. Because, anyone familiar with the huge, though mostly non-commercial, success of Frank Zappa (he recorded and mostly self-produced over a hundred albums) and The Mother's (actually motherfuckers - since the term also refers to skilled musicians) of Invention, knows that Frank was one of the greatest, most talented guitarists of his time. He was also a composer; a conductor; a musical genius; an intelligent, knowledgeable and outspoken political advocate . . . a prolific mad man. And it is impossible to imitate him and nearly impossible to play his intricate compositions. (Among other serious and acclaimed orchestral works devoted to Zappa's music, the London Symphony Orchestra, in January of 1983, released a double album of Frank's compositions.) Especially difficult is "G-Spot Tornado" from "Jazz From Hell" which was originally executed, by Frank, on a Synclavier. He was skeptical whether humans could actually perform it, but Dweezil and ZPZ did. For three hours they played other favorites like, Dumb all over (a little ugly on the side); Dupree's Paradise; Willie The Pimp; Joe's Garage (wind up working in a gas station); San Ber' dino; Muffin Man; and Yo Mama:

"Maybe you should stay with yo' mama
She could do your laundry 'n cook for you
Maybe you should stay with yo' mama
You're really kinda stupid 'n ugly too"

When I was about seventeen, I went to see Zappa himself, in Detroit. After the concert, my friends and I went around back to the stage door and, as fate would have it, we met Frank. He was a most gracious person and took a few minutes of his time to actually look at us and talk to us. It is a moment in time that I treasure - and even more so now that he is no longer here on this planet making new music (although his unreleased recordings are being newly released to the public).

"I don't give a fuck if they remember me at all."

Notable Zappa Quotes:

"It isn't necessary to imagine the world ending in fire or ice – there are two other possibilities: one is paperwork, and the other is nostalgia."

"Remember there's a big difference between kneeling down and bending over."

"Drop out of school before your mind rots from exposure to our mediocre educational system. Forget about the Senior Prom and go to the library and educate yourself if you've got any guts. Some of you like Pep rallies and plastic robots who tell you what to read. Forget I mentioned it. This song has no message. Rise for the flag salute."

"On a personal level, Freaking Out is a process whereby an individual casts off outmoded and restricting standards of thinking, dress, and social etiquette in order to express creatively his relationship to his immediate environment and the social structure as a whole."

"If you wind up with a boring, miserable life because you listened to your mom, your dad, your teacher, your priest or some guy on TV telling you how to do your shit, then YOU DESERVE IT."

"The most important thing to do in your life is to not interfere with somebody else's life."

"The rock and roll business is pretty absurd, but the world of serious music is much worse."

"Being interviewed is one of the most abnormal things that you can do to somebody else. It's two steps removed from the inquisition."

"Let's not be too rough on our own ignorance, it's what makes America great!"

"May your shit come to life and kiss you on the face."

"The first thing you have to do if you want to raise nice kids, is you have to talk to them like they are people instead of talking to them like they're property."

"The creation and destruction of harmonic and 'statistical' tensions is essential to the maintenance of compositional drama. Any composition (or improvisation) which remains consistent and 'regular' throughout is, for me, equivalent to watching a movie with only 'good guys' in it, or eating cottage cheese."

"There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life."

"Information is not knowledge. Knowledge is not wisdom. Wisdom is not truth. Truth is not beauty. Beauty is not love. Love is not music. Music is THE BEST..."

"Beauty is a pair of shoes that makes you wanna die."

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Hardness of Objects

While re-reading Castaneda's, "The Art Of Dreaming," last night, I came upon a phrase that felt so real to me, "the hardness of objects." I had to stop reading and sit with that for a few minutes. That's it! That's what it is about life that makes life so difficult most of the time . . . the hardness of every perceived object in our midst. Don Juan said to Carlos Castaneda:

"It's unquestionably a world of objects. To prove it, all we have to do is bump into them . . . I am saying that this is first a world of energy; then it is a world of objects. If we don't start with the premise that it's a world of energy, we'll never be able to perceive energy directly. We'll always be stopped by . . . the hardness of objects."

The world is an obstacle course and we have created the obstacles. I understand we create them and/or accept them as our reality while we travel along our paths. But, do we create them because we are conditioned by our ancestors to believe they must exist? or because we need to suffer and feel pain in order to truly feel alive? or do we, on a primitive level, strive to conquer the constant threat of being overcome? or perhaps it's because we subconsciously
want to obstruct our view - making it nearly impossible to really see what is before us? I think it's a combination of all of the above, with the latter of the possibilities being the scariest of all. What really is in front of us as well as all around us? What if we focussed on seeing energy by looking beyond the physical manifestations and our limited perceptions of them?

Years ago, I went on holiday to Jamaica. I stayed at one of those beautiful, all-inclusive resorts. One day, my partner and I decided to venture off the resort by walking past the security booth that separated the real Jamaica from the romanticized version. We were asked to give our room number (in case we did not return safely, I presume) and we were instructed on the possible dangers of leaving the immediate area. We took our chances and walked further away from the abundant buffets of pineapple and jerk chicken, the umbrella-ed rum cocktails, the laughing, limboing bikinis and the Disney-like piped-in reggae music. Although the same beach stretched for miles along the same ocean waters, my first step onto the unsecured sand literally felt like I had passed through an invisible forcefield. The energy shifted drastically. The darkness began to attach to me like leeches on my skin. We encountered two locals selling something that looked like carved knives and they asked us if we had a cigarette or a bottle of booze from the hotel. A little further down the beach, we came to shack-like booth about the size of a lidless wooden coffin standing upright. Two gypsy women lured me, with their seductive powers of persuasion, to sit down and have my hair braided at a very low price . . . monetarily. The older woman grabbed an old dirty comb that was missing some teeth and began running it through my hair. I wondered if the comb was poisonous and would put me into an eternal state of sleep. I wondered if the braiding was part of a sacrificial ritual and my lifeless braided head would one day wash ashore, wrapped in seaweed and debris. I wondered if Medusa's fate would become my own as each braid felt like a snake growing from my brain.
"Ah, beautiful . . . you know you have much hair . . . this takes us much longer. You have more money?" The older one said.
We had only brought a very limited amount of money with us to be on the safer side. Suddenly, it didn't feel so safe not to have enough.
"I can bring you more." I said, knowing full well that I would keep my word - for I knew that this was not an average human exchange of money for services rendered. I somehow knew that this was an energy exchange, and I needed to 'buy' back what was being taken from me. I knew I could not afford the non-monetary price of my vanity in wanting to look like a modern-day tourist or Bo Derek in 10.
I noticed that the younger woman was getting the small rubber bands out of an old worn out Estee Lauder cosmetic bag - one of the bags the counters give away free with a purchase.
"That's an Estee Lauder bag." I said. The contrast of the two worlds collided at that split second. Was this the far-off future and the bag was from an ancient time - long, long ago - a time when my world once existed? Or was this long ago and my world did not exist yet? Nothing felt the same anymore - but it did feel real.
"I work for Estee Lauder." I said.
"You can bring me something? A lipstick in gold?" The older one said.
"Yes. I can bring that back for you! I can bring you the rest of the money and the lipstick." I had something they wanted . . . something that would assure my safe return back to Jamaicaland. Now, I would have to tread carefully as I left, in case they changed their minds or doubted my return.
Once I was back safely in my room, I struggled with the idea of having to go back out there. It took a lot of energy to get out of that sort of hell, now I was actually going to go back bearing gifts . . . paying the devil to keep my soul. And though my fears were overcoming me - fears of the knowing rather than the unknown - I looked through my bag of toiletries, found the Estee Lauder signature gold lipstick tube, gathered a few more dollars and we walked,
slowly, back to the edge of this flat world. The evening was overcast which darkened the mood. The security guard looked at us strangely and warned us not to take any bottles of alcohol to the locals. We assured him we had nothing like that and we proceeded to enter the other side.
With a few dollars, we paid off - a
non-verbal protective measure - the two men who had approached us before; hosts of the underworld, lunchroom bullies or two local panhandlers depending upon one's perception.
The two gypsy women welcomed me with a smile, but I knew that I had to act quickly before they decided it was not enough. I gave them the extra twenty dollars and the gold tube - a souvenir from the other world. I thanked them and we walked away - each step fighting not to be any quicker than the last. We never looked back . . .
I knew I was lucky . . . and I wished I didn't know that.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Happy Birthday, Luke

My Lessons as a Mother
To my firstborn, my daughter Alexia, I gave her the dreams I dreamed
To my second born, my son Adam, I gave him directions on how to dream
To my third born, my son Luke, I gave him a white canvas and a brush

My baby is eighteen today! I know he would cringe at the "baby" part of that . . . but, nevertheless, he is my youngest child of three . . . and eighteen years ago today, he came into this world with the courage and strength of the lion he is. He has been with me through a lot - the many major changes in my life - and he has taught me so much about life . . . acceptance, patience, kindness, honesty . . . He is very wise for his years. Happy Birthday, Luke. I love you!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Dee Dee's Fab Four - AKA "The Four Corners"

May 25, 2007 marked the third anniversary of my mother's early departure from this life. And although we miss her more than words can express, my three sisters and I choose to honor and celebrate her life by taking our annual three-day trip to her favorite spot, Frankfort, in Northern Michigan.

My dad came with us in 2005; the first year we went. That's the year we took some of mom's ashes and scattered them into Lake Michigan from the Frankfort Pier. We even put some in a little boat with a tea light candle and set her off to Sea, as she always loved the idea of a Viking Funeral.

Last year was the year we had a bench dedicated in her name. It sits on th
e beach, with others like hers, looking out to the lake and the lighthouse just as she always loved to do.

This year was a quieter year. We were out of ritual, except for the trip itself and
the Margarita toast at the moment of her passing . . . and the burning of a bundle of sage around the bench.
I guess we are creatures of habit . . . ceremony . . . ritual. But, my sisters and I are also party creatures! We know how to have a good laugh (mom taught us well!) - but, what goes on in Traverse City, stays in Traverse City!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Erotica Unveiled is Still Sex

These days, the demons of lust seem to be multiplying even faster than the demons of greed, arrogance and vanity combined.
Lately, I've been dealing with what can happen to lives when some things get just a little out of control . . . and words like, "addiction," are mentioned.
What is one to do when temptation is everywhere?
When he checks his e-mail, I wonder.
When he places an ad for the sale of his car, I wonder.
When the phone rings "Private Name," I wonder.
When he flicks through late-night cable, I wonder.
How great are his temptations?
"Darling, I'm here. See me, hear me, feel me. I am real."
Then, I step down, onto the first rung of a downward spiral. It dizzies me into believing that I am not actually falling. Things are happening so fast and before I am fully aware, I have become the very images that are trapped on the other side of his computer monitor. I am now tucked quietly between the photo folder of last year's Christmas Dinner and some other people I don't know.
I am the fine erotic wine to the endless shot glasses filled with the strong dark stuff.
Sadly though, fine wine can still be deadly to the alcoholic.
bound . . .