I grew up with the Allman Brothers Band. I didn't know dick about rock and roll until I was a young adult, but I loved the sound of Duane Allman and Dickey Betts urging each other on on their guitars; I loved the non-stop double set of drummers; I loved Gregg Allman's raw-throated vocals. I didn't know their names at the time I fell in love with their music, but I went out and found their albums, and then I learned their names.
I find it weird that just a few nights ago I got the unstoppable urge to listen to "Layla," in which Duane and Eric Clapton and the rest of the band tear the world apart for love. And tonight, I'm mourning the little brother who idolized big brother Duane.
Here are possibly my two favorite Allman Brothers' Band songs. Midnight Rider, because of the controlled desperation of the lyrics, which Gregg's voice carried; Whipping Post because it made me feel every lash of the whip, and filled my head with its thunderous bass line and Gregg's howl. (The live version at the Fillmore is amazing - go watch it here - but I include the album version here because that's the one that hit me in the gut first.)
RIP, Gregg Allman; you finally made it to angel.
He was rock and roll.
Hail, hail, rock and roll. Heaven just got a lot cooler.
Here's a raw and live version of his first hit. I could just erase everything I wrote about his performances and point you to this.
Here's a reminder that his genius wasn't just in ramped up rhythms. Much as I love almost everything of his that I've heard. This is probably my favorite Chuck Berry song.
And this? This is the Brown Eyed Handsome Man
2016 should have been fired about two weeks after it arrived. Unfortunately, it hung around, like that one guy at the party who manages to insult your parents, alienate your best friend, spill red wine on your best white shirt and possibly absquatulate with one or two pieces of heirloom silverware. Bad cess to 2016, then. And possibly bad cess to its younger brother, who is already looking to be the kind of unfortunate dudebro one hopes one's son won't emulate. I do not hold out much hope, I confess.
On the other hand, hope, like that pixilated aunt you adore even as you know you should worry about her, springs eternal. In fact, she refuses to give up springing, jumping, leaping, pogoing, and otherwise acting in a completely unbecoming fashion, while motioning you to join her on the dance floor. I suppose just one sproing couldn't hurt ....
Meanwhile, there are all of you out there, my friends and acquaintances, all of you eminently worthy individuals, each of you having added something positive to my life. I will, at least temporarily, hang onto my pixilated aunt as she pogos around the room, and wish you all the very, very best 2017. You are in my heart, each of you, and you have provided much of what joy 2016 offered me.
So - wanna join me and Hope on the dance floor?
I have been thinking of Leonard Cohen's music today, having been reminded of it via an add on our local jazz radio station for a one-hour remembrance of him. I only got to hear the last 20 minutes or so of it, but it's made me want to listen to his albums, both the early and the later ones. I really want to hear his last one; "You Want It Darker." I heard the title song, and it's Cohen at his elliptical, emotionally unsparing and beautiful best. I don't know what I love about his music more, the words, the imagery, the love he bears for everything he views ... perhaps, too, the past week's events beyond his death have kept him in my head.
Facebook and Livejournal share the creepy practice of telling you about upcoming birthdays of people who have died. I got one such notification today and was reminded that we all live on, on the internet.
I completed (I think) a conversation over on LJ, in my last post; because I didn't put the post under a lock, this person wandered in and launched into a strong attack on my progressive stance. I decided to try to engage; although the effort wasn't ultimately successful, I'm glad I didn't simply ignore the person. At the very least, he challenged me to think about the best way to respond to his claims. I do worry, from time to time, about living in my own liberal/progressive echo chamber, and requiring myself to step outside that chamber, even if it's just in the tiny way I did with this conversation, is probably a good thing.
BB and I are finally getting into the latest run of anime titles. I'm extremely impressed with one that has the rather unprepossessing English title of "Flip Flappers." I'm not even going to try to describe it, except to say that if you liked FLCL, chances are you'll like this one, too.
Last night I got the chance to hear Father Michael Pfleger speak in person for the first time. He impressed the hell out of me.
Leonard Cohen has died.
(All jokes aside, I adored Cohen's poetry, his music, his brilliance, his humor, his resilience - and, of course, his flawless abilities as a ladies' man. I'll miss the fedora and the quirked smile, the darkly glittering entirety of him.)
As it says on the tin. I wish I could think of something nice to say about the woman. She certainly was a bundle of energy. How about these? She had a way with words.
She was also a mean-spirited, hypocritical ultra-conservative force for regression and oppression. And of all those attributes, it may be her hypocrisy that has always rubbed me the most raw. She was able to live her very independent life, dedicated to fighting against independence for women, because she married a rich man.
Faugh. Enough. There were people who loved her, and I am sorry that they feel the loss.
But the world was made worse through her efforts, and if there is a seat of god, she ought to hang her head in shame before it.
The work starts tomorrow, and I'm not sure i'm up to it. I have a confusing mandate from my Exec Dir. I don't know the people I have to lobby. And I've been up since 3:45 a.m. I'll probably feel better after some sleep, right?
And there is no more Prince in the world. Jesus.
I'm a Doctor Who fan, which means I am — or should be — used to, and understanding of, the inevitable changes that come with the show. Doctors, Companions, even TARDISes, they all change. Writers come and go, as do directors. So do producers, that old-fashioned name for show-runners.
And today, I learned that my favorite Doctor Who show-runner, Steven Moffat has put in his papers, and will be leaving at the end of 2017.
( My disappointment and love, let me show you them )
As I said, I'm a Doctor Who fan. I can do change.
But damn, I'm going to miss Moffat.
David Bowie's death was the first news story I saw when I awoke this morning. And, like millions around the world, my first thought was "No, he can't be dead - he's David Bowie!"
Of course, he could be dead, and he is, and there's a very big hole in our world.
There's also a little ragged hole in my own heart. Not because I grew up with his songs; I didn't - he came to North American attention after I graduated high school, and left university. I was peripherally aware of him as a young adult, but my first "Wow!" reaction about Bowie came when I watched "The Man Who Fell To Earth," rather than through listening to his music.
That changed when I came to Chicago, after Bob opened so many musical doors for me. I finally got to listen to "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars"; I learned that you really need to turn up "Suffragette City" to 11 to get the full impact; I bopped to the funk of "Young Americans"; I was continually impressed by his persona changes, his refusal early on to adhere to gender expectations, his journey through different music styles, his blending of art, fashion, and music.
When Bob and I were making a run at rock and roll stardom with our bassist Dr. Gonzo, we did a weird (but it worked musically and, oddly, thematically, I think) little medley of "Heroes" with the Beach Boys' "Do It Again." I had to learn the lyrics to Heroes, which led to listening to the entirety of both Low and Heroes.
And that's when Bowie got into my psyche.
I'm a lyrics person. I'm also pretty linear, which meant that sometimes, Bowie's very non-linear lyrics left me off-kilter and, yes, very occasionally unimpressed. But when I heard "Heroes," when I heard "Sound and Vision" that all changed. In my eyes those two songs revealed glimpses of an extraordinarily opaque artist. Those glimpses left me incredibly impressed.
As much as I loved "Heroes" - and listening to it this morning brought tears to my eyes - it really was "Sound and Vision" that made me into a Bowie fan.
The austere but gorgeous Zen acceptance of "I will sit right down, waiting for the gift of sound and vision" told me so much about Bowie, about his love of music, his love of observation, his love of the world, his growth as a human. It made me want to be a better human myself, although it's hard to connect the dots between the words and my reaction to them (a little like Bowie's lyrics, perhaps.) I wish we could all sit down and wait for that gift - and appreciate it when it's granted, because sound and vision help connect us with the world.
Rest in Peace, Mr. Bowie.
Here's "Sound and Vision."
Here's "Heroes": This is a live version of Heroes because, damn, he looked so happy to be singing it, and damn, he did such a good job on it.
And here's his last release, "Lazarus" - the video and music go together so well, and seem to anticipate his death; it's marvelous, and chilling.
I was doing something earlier this afternoon, when all of a sudden I thought, "It must be close to the anniversary date of Mum's death. Jeez, how could I forget?"
I didn't. My subconscious must have realized that today is the second anniversary of her death.
I still check in with her regularly in my head. By now, I've been able to watch a video bit taken of her during our last visit, something I couldn't do until recently. Life is still very much a "before Mum died" and "after Mum died" thing, but it doesn't loom as large for me as it once did.
I miss her, though.
That's what the man who hired me at Pioneer Press back in 1983 used to say. His name was Bob Rockafield, and we all called him Rocky. He changed my life, both by hiring me after a 15-20 minute interview, no drug tests, no background checks, and by making me a better reporter.
Rocky was very tall, 6'4", he had a mellifluous voice, he had a horribly cheesy sense of humor, and he knew how to deal with people, because I think he really liked them.
He helped me learn how to check my sources, and began the incredibly difficult task of paring down my verbosity. (That he never succeeded in that last wasn't for want of trying.) When he edited my stories, he told me why he made changes. He sat by my side when I did an interview with Lyndon LaRouche, because I think he knew I was nervous. When he gave me advice, it always made sense, and I always retained, or at least tried to retain, the lessons he taught me. He was a good newspaperman, and that is the highest professional compliment I can give him.
Personally, I can think of no better compliment than to say he was a mensch. He was a Korean War vet, and was the first person to tell me that Korean War vets shouldn't be forgotten. He was a Detroit Tigers fan, something he shared with BB. He definitely wasn't averse to fun; he readily shut down our small office every October, two or three years running, to let us run our "Octathlon." Today, any upper management type shutting up the office so that employees could engage in beer or burger-eating contests, stupid human tricks, etc., would be ushered out the door, post-haste.
He was eventually fired, or forced into resigning, in the late 1980s or early 1990s, during one of the intermittent Nights of the Long Knives that used to plague Pioneer. We didn't stay in touch, although I spoke to him telephonically once or twice.
This Tuesday, I got an email from Rocky's son. He had died the previous day. I learned from his son that Parkinson's and advancing dementia had left him without the sharp wit and keen mind he once had.
I went to the wake, and learned from both his wife and son that Rocky had kept memorabilia from much of his past journalistic life, including a stint on the Tribune's sports desk before he was hired by Pioneer, and, of course, much memorabilia from his Pioneer days. They also told me he spoke of me often. I think he probably thought of many others of us often as well, but it's good to know he retained his affection for me.
I had to leave the wake after perhaps 10 minutes there; looking at the body was a shock, because he had wasted away. And of course he wasn't there.
I really rather loved that man, and I think the world, with a Rocky sized hole in it, is a poorer place today.
We finished watching Shigatsi wa Kimi no Uso (Your Lie in April) tonight. It's been a while since an anime made me cry at the same time it made me happy, at least in the way this did. The key scenes, where Kousei plays the Chopin (I think it was Chopin) were inspired visually, audibly, artistically, in every possible way. This one jumped to my all-time top-whatever; it jumped to BB's list as well. Damn. Now I have to go looking for icons.
( A passing )In completely happier new, I am panic-stricken to realize that I have forgotten to wish a happy birthday to james_davis_nicoll back on the 18th. Is there some portmanteau wherein we can mash up "laconic" and "loquacious"? No? Then james_nicoll will have to do.
And dear lord, minnehaha K - you are another year wiser today, no? Yes! Many happies to you, with much travel, enough rest when needed, lovies, reading, historical societies, good food, plants and plantings, friends and life lived in full!
Also, Agents of SHIELD continues to be, as far as I'm concerned, awesome.
It's been a tough week in terms of remarkable athletes, at least for me. Toller Cranston, who redefined male figure skating (hell, who redefined a lot of figure skating in general) in the 1970s and 1980s, has died at the age of 65, of an apparent heart attack in his adopted home of San Miguel, Mexico.
When I grew up in Canada, figure skating was very important; not as important, perhaps, as ice hockey, but definitely important. And I adored Cranston. He was an artistic virtuoso. Watch his short program below, and you won't see the stratospheric jumps common among male figure skaters today (jumps that were pioneered by other Canadian skaters like Kurt Browning and Elvis Stojko). What you will see is an elegant and seamless marriage of art and athleticism that has become a rarity in the field.
During his amateur career, it was obvious that judges either didn't know what to do with him, hated him, or hated the fact that they loved him. He never got to the top of heap, partly because of his style, and undoubtedly because of his caustic, snarkily humorous, and brutally honest observations about judges and, less often, other skaters - although he could also be supportive and kind to skaters.
It didn't matter. None of that mattered. He outshone all his detractors, even with the inconsistency that was his one bugaboo. (I don't consider his battles against the classic figures as a problem; he correctly said putting so much emphasis on figures was foolish, and that was one place the skating world eventually agreed with him.)
He was also a painter, whose works were displayed all over the world, and it was that art that sustained him after he left figure skating.
I once got the chance to interview him, as a reporter in Moncton. At the end of the interview, which was a joy, because he was, as always, a sparkling conversationalist, he gave me a small postcard with a piece of his art on it. I don't think I still have that, and I'm sorry it's disappeared in the decades since then.
There will never be another Toller Cranston, and the world is poorer for his absence.
One of the people who was very kind to my mother over her last few years was the wife of Rob, my first cousin. Deb often talked to Mum, and visited her several times when she came down to Nova Scotia from Winnipeg, to visit her own blood relatives. Deb and Rob have been together a long time, and I remember meeting her back when the two of them were high school sweethearts in the early to mid 1970s. She kept in touch with me over the last few years as well, via Facebook and its IM function; I was very touched that she did that, and even more grateful for the kindness and obvious affection she held for Mum.
Last week, her younger brother (he was 51) had a heart attack, one so severe they had to put him into an induced coma to keep him going. Everyone knew it was a bad situation, but people seemed hopeful. My brother let me know about it, so I contacted Deb via Facebook, and sent my best wishes her way. However, this evening Mac called to let me know that Deb's family has had to make the decision to take her brother off life support. The brain damage is severe, and they want to be able to offer his organs to people who need them. This was probably not unexpected, given the severity of his situation, but it was still sad news for me to hear. I know that she has always been close with her family, and to have it happen this way - having to make the decisions that they have had to make - makes it even more painful.
I'll try to touch base with her, and let her know that she is in my thoughts and my heart. I wish the news had been better for her.
May soon love it.
The term "lace-maker" is starting to append itself to my interior description of The Moff, of which more, anon.
This one is, therefore, a lace-maker's delight, a thing of beauty and worth, and something through which wind can blow for good or ill.
And that's about what I can say for now, at least partly because I'm back to work. (In my home office wearing THE TARDIS BATHROBE MY SON GOT ME FOR CHRISTMAS w00t!!!1! ... yeah, but working)
No, wait. There's one other thing I can say ... Matt. Smith. Rules. And so does the Eleventh/Thirteenth Doctor. Peter Capaldi will be fantastic, brilliant, scrumptious, to use all the words his predecessors used. But give me a while to mourn the man who crept up and became My Doctor.
I call this the department of closing the book, but I realize it won't truly be that. When people we love leave, closure doesn't mean shutting a door. It means making an agreement between between our heart and memory, that it's alright to forget for days and weeks at a time,that it's just fine to be happy and to go forward, because the ones we love want us to stay in the world.
In terms of this journal, it's closure, because this will probably be the last time I speak about Mum for a while. Thanks to all of you who listened since Oct. 27; who gave me hugs and offered sympathy and who took the time to listen as I talked about her. You people are treasures, plain and simple. Here is one last thing I offer you about Mary Glen - the eulogy I wrote and gave at her funeral. As Bob said, it was distilled in large part from the outpouring I wrote in the first minutes after I learned she had died. but the distillation made it a different thing.
( She Was Made of Love )
I have been back home for almost two days now. That means I am still soaking up all of Bob and home that I can, luxuriating in familiar surroundings and the joy of being able to talk to him.
( musings, TV, and then I did, etc. )
Now, off to Costco!
The funeral is three days in the past and my brother is back to work (not because he wants to be back at work; because his boss is a horrible scheduler, is really unsympathetic, and because another guy in his detachment learned that his dad is dying and had to fly to Ontario to be with his family. Sorrow doesn't belong to any one person) and I have a rental car that's super modern and a little intimidating. I'm up in Wolfville and online, albeit not until after I had to fight my computer and its connection at the cafe where I'm seated.
I am gradually returning to real life; it's the only way I can really explain it. At first, I didn't think I was in limbo for the last, what, week, but that's really the case. Things happen, and you react, you respond to people on automatic, remembering all the lessons your parents told you about being polite and being communicative, and you can even fool yourself into thinking that you're not in limbo.
But you really are.
Worrying about my brother has been helpful in keeping me tied to the real world. When you're not totally focused on yourself, you are closer to OK, I think. He's so very weary, after so many months with my mother's illness (not to mention the months in 2011 when he helped Mum and my stepdad move) that I think it will take him even more months to recover. I want to be here for him, and was looking forward to spending more time with him than I've had during the past two Nova Scotia visits. And then that disappears. Oh, well. I will make the most of the time I have with him.
And of course, I will make a hell of a lot of use of the phone in the near future.
I'm going to spend some time later this afternoon with my stepdad and his eldest daughter. Jane and I will go through some of Mum's things, and I'll get rid of all her remaining drugs by taking them back to the pharmacy for disposal (these are the kinds of things you never really think of when it comes to a loved one dying.) We may even make a stab at deciding what things of Mum's we can get rid of, what my stepdad might want to keep for emotional reasons, and what we can give away.
And tomorrow I'll be spending time with Clara, my Mum's oldest surviving friend (or one of two, but the other lady is living down in the American Southwest), who I really love. She sat with the family at the funeral, but we didn't have the chance to share grief and love, so tomorrow we'll have lunch.
I may come back to the cafe later today, before I head back to my brother's, but I think right now it's time to head to Rob's and Jane's.
Cousins and funerals and old friends and newly-discovered step-siblings and egg-salad sandwiches and asparagus pinwheel sandwiches, courtesy of the Social and Benevolent Society and eulogies and ministers and rose-marble urns and"thank you so much for coming, I really appreciate it" and warm air and high winds and driving rain and lobster crepes and short-circuited political arguments and goodbye, goodbye, goodbye.
I'll be far more coherent tomorrow. I think. Love you all.
So, rather than ramble on and say nothing, I turn to the saving grace of exhausted non-thinkers - the bullet list!
- Had the visitation. All my step-dad's living kids, spouses and many grand kids were there to support him and to support Mac and me. It made me feel good. I know some of the younger kids through school umpty decades ago, but none of us were close and there were some touchy times in the past (very understandably.) I am lucky to have come to know several of them a little better. They're good people; better than good, really. Many of Mac's contacts and friends came by; some folks Mum used to work with. Mum was there, in a lovely rose and ivory marble
urnclassical boxy thing. I think she probably likes the design.
- Discovered that the wife of one of my step-dad's kids is an SF fan, and familiar with LJ. In fact, she was the anonymous commenter on my first post about Mum. I cannot tell you how cool this is. I got her email, and hope to stay in contact.
- Discovered, too, that the second minister who is going to be officiating tomorrow is not the mother of an old schoolmate - she's actually the old school mate. And she is pretty fantastic, I think. We only went to school between kindergarten and Grade Four, because then they built a school in her valley and she was able to go there, but I always remembered her. And she is vivacious, affectionate, unafraid to be friendly ... she gave me a good feeling. I'm glad she's involved in the service.
- Uhm ... I think that's about all I can get my head around right now. I'm going to bed; have to be up at 7 a.m. tomorrow because the funeral's at 11 a.m. Wrote my eulogy (a little of what y'all saw in my first post, a bunch that wasn't in there), hope I can get through it.
- Then there's will and bank etc. I'm going to renounce my executorship, because it turns out that me being in the States and the estate being up here would cause a surprising amount of delay and problem for my brother. I trust him to handle things, since he keeps me fully in the loop. That's great.
- Huh - didn't I just say that's about all I can get my head around? Time for me to go to bed.