Sunday, February 25, 2007

From Her Living Room To Mine

The other day I wandered the CD store and found myself drawn into nostalgia, mainly the singer/songwriters from the 70s. In the Pop/Rock section under "K" I came face-to-CD with Carole King's The Living Room Tour, a two CD live show of King with minimal accompaniment.

It was used and cheap, so I quickly snatched it up. What a deal. What a find. Aptly titled, this show includes her signature songs along with some new and pleasant surprises.

She does a great performance of "Smackwater Jack" which has always been a favorite of mine, though I must admit Buffy Sainte-Marie does, for me, the definitive version on her I Used To Wanna Be A Ballerina CD.

There's also great versions of "Sweet Seasons," "Jazzman," "I Feel The Earth Move," "Natural Woman," "Locomotion," "It’s Too Late," "You've Got a Friend," and the lovely "Now and Forever," the theme song for the film A League of Their Own.

I'm not one to watch much television, but I do find The Gilmore Girls a guilty pleasure. Its theme song is King's "Where You Lead I Will Follow" which is done as a duet with her daughter Louise Goffin. On this CD Goffin joins her mother for a rousing rendition. It's a definite highlight.

Speaking of Goffin, Gerry Goffin that is, there's a medley of their most famous tunes which includes "I'm Into Something Good," a totally fun upbeat tune. Be sure to check out Marianne Faithfull's inspired interpretation on her under-rated Kissin' Time CD.

At the age of sixty-two King's voice does show its age and misses some of the higher notes, but her passion and songs more than make up for any vocal limitations.

The Living Room Tour is an intimate evening with one of pop music's legendary singer/songwriters. I highly recommend it.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Too Loud For Comfort

What do you do when you have an inconsiderate neighbor who refuses to respect others? It's a dilemma that unfortunately disrupts the harmony of living in close quarters and if not handled carefully can lead to physical confrontations and emotional turmoil. Such is the case I have encountered after moving into a new apartment.

There are times we all crank up our favorite songs a little bit too loudly. We sing along, we dance, and when it's over we lower the volume to a respectable level. Not everyone loves the same music and your neighbors probably don't welcome your moment of self-indulgence. Being considerate you keep the self-indulgences to a minimum, and know that there are times your neighbors will indulge too. If you're asked to lower the volume you do. It's neighborly. It keeps the peace.

In my neighborhood the inconsiderate neighbor is forty-something Roger. He lives in the apartment building next door to mine. He loves listening to the Carpenters, disco, and National Public Radio. I have nothing against any of these but I want to listen to them when I want to listen to them not when Roger's pretending he's a chanteuse, a disco diva, or intelligent. Truth be told he sings flat, he's certainly not a genuine diva (though I think he'd argue this point), and I question if his IQ is higher than a single digit.

I, along with other neighbors, have spoken to Roger numerous times about the volume being too loud. He responds by being nasty, mean, and vulgar. He was so mean to one elderly neighbor she moved to another part of the building, afraid of what he might do. Another neighbor he tormented so badly by spitting at her and calling her names that she filed a restraining order. He had the audacity to file one against her. She too moved and he celebrated with blaring disco.

It has been suggested he purchase earphones with a very long chord so he could move about doing whatever he does in his apartment and still listen to whatever he wishes. He refuses to entertain such a thought.

I usually shut my windows, which does block out some of the sound, but during summer heat that really isn't an option. I could move but I have no guarantee there won't be another Roger in the new neighborhood. Besides, I really like my apartment.

My good friend has a neighbor who refuses to close and lock the door to their complex. This woman also refuses to put her trash in the proper respectable. She puts her household trash in the compost barrel whereupon the trash collectors refuse to empty it. What happens is someone in the building, usually my friend, has to fix it. This twenty-something woman has no regard for anyone, and feels she's entitled to do whatever she pleases. She's too young to be so mean. I guess she thinks she's immune to robbery, rapists, and rats. Though something tells me she'd change her behavior if something terrible happened. Hopefully it won't, but is that what it will take for her to change her behavior?

Living in close quarters there are bound to be things I do, you do, we all do that irritates our neighbors. Most times we are not doing it deliberately and if we know it bothers someone we do our best to remedy the situation. Compromise is key. There's nothing worse than warring neighbors especially when a simple act of consideration will bring resolve. Life's too short to live with constant tension and anger, and volumes at overbearing decibels.

Roger doesn't seem to understand his bad behavior is unnecessary. Like a defiant child he stomps his feet and rants and raves. After someone complains he likes to crank the volume louder just long enough to incite everyone to the breaking point. Maybe he never got enough attention as a child? That's something he and a therapist need to discuss. Hopefully he'll get into therapy soon.

Right now I can hear Roger and Karen Carpenter cooing "Close To You" as a duet. Oh Karen it’s nice to hear you singing, but not now. Maybe later I'll brush off my own Carpenters LPs and give you a spin. And Roger, please lower the volume and grow up. You’re too old to be acting like a child.

© MC528. All rights Reserved.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

In Search of Marilyn and Other Dead Celebrities

I grew up across the road from a cemetery and was always in there riding my bike or walking my dog. Many times I'd be roaming the graveyard as the sun disappeared and shadows came to life. Some people say a cemetery after dark is scary, eerie. I find it exciting.

I have always been a little macabre. Maybe it's from watching all those episodes of "The Addams Family." Cousin Itt, Grandmama, and Thing were my favorites. Can you imagine all the fun you'd have if you had an extra hand? Creepy, kooky and all together ooky!

Ghosts totally fascinate me. I look for them everywhere, and in Hollywood celebrity ghosts are lurking in the most unusual places.

The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel is ripe with ghosts. There is a dark-framed mirror that hangs in the lower level elevator landing where people claim to have seen the reflection of Marilyn Monroe (that mirror used to hang in her room at the hotel).

A friend and I sat by that mirror one night waiting for Miss Candle in the Wind to appear. I've never been a Marilyn fan but was curious to see her ghost. We played all sorts of tricks to get her attention. We pretended not to be watching and quickly glanced to see if she was watching us. We even sang a chorus of "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend." Still nothing. After more than an hour we gave up.

In the Blossom Room of the Roosevelt, the same room where the first Academy Awards were held, there is a "cold spot" (about 30 inches in diameter) that is supposedly 10 degrees colder than the rest of the room. Psychics believe it's a man wearing black. Maybe it's a Best-Supporting Actor nominee who lost and refuses to leave until he wins the coveted award? Maybe John Edwards could channel him and let him know the awards are now held across the street.

I scoured every inch of the Blossom Room that night and nothing, nada, no cold spot for me. All I got was sweaty.

Did you know that Lon Chaney had been seen sitting on a bus bench on the corner of Hollywood and Vine? Legend has it that once the bench was removed, Chaney never returned.

Did you know that the ghost of Orson Welles has been seen sitting at his favorite table at Sweet Lady Jane's Restaurant? When he's there the scent of cigars and brandy permeate the air. I wonder if it might be the scent of a maple pecan pie that's been left in the oven a bit too long.

The ghost of magician Harry Houdini is rumored to roam the hallways of his former Hollywood Hills home on Laurel Canyon Boulevard. And the ghost of TV's "Superman" George Reeves haunts a Benedict Canyon Drive home where he was found dead from a gunshot. His death was ruled a suicide, but many believe it was murder. Maybe Reeves is there to tell us the ghastly truth?

Ghosts, ghosts, and more ghosts. Sometime soon I hope to visit the Hollywood Park Memorial Cemetery. Lots of celebrities are buried there including Charlie Chaplin Jr., Rudolph Valentino and Douglas Fairbanks. Actress Virginia Rappe, who died in a huge silent era murderous scandal, is buried there and many report hearing the sound of sobbing near her grave. That I've got to hear!

Shortly after my night at the Roosevelt I had an urge to dye my hair platinum blond, which I did to disastrous results. Later that week I went to a friend's birthday party and found myself purring a seductive "Happy Birthday to You." People just stared at me, scared. To this day no one will mention "the incident."

Do you think Marilyn somehow appeared to them through me? Had she seen me in the mirror and decided to play a little ghost trick? Do I need an emergency session with a psychic, an exorcist, or a therapist?

Though I've since dyed my hair back to brown, I've now become obsessed with America's favorite buxom blonde.

Maybe next Halloween I'll go as Marilyn...

(This article was originally printed in my monthly column in Canyon News.)

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Random Thoughts Part Two…

A friend of mine who reads my blog frequently suggested I write more "random thoughts." So I've decided to give it another whirl and let the thoughts flow from my sometimes-stressed cranium. I spend a lot of time pondering the world in which I live, and some of the things I think about surprise me, and sometimes frighten me too.

What's all this fuss about Prince being "inappropriate" at the Super Bowl? Was his guitar that phallic? I say get over it everybody. Stop being tight wads and loosen up.

President Hillary Rodham Clinton and Vice-President Barack Obama.

Leonard Peltier needs to be pardoned. His imprisonment is a gross miscarriage of justice.

Peltier's "Prison Writings: My Life Is My Sun Dance" is a must read.

I love Venezuelan arepas.

I'm itchy to take a trip to a foreign country, to use my passport again.

Writing a personal journal is cheaper than therapy. I'm living proof.

I like getting frisked by airport security.

Does anybody really want Michael Jackson to make a comeback?

Does the rain in Spain fall mainly on the plain? Maybe I should go there.

Ugly Betty is prettier than we all think.

I cannot imagine life before email and the Internet. What did people do for sex back then?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The N, F, and S Words

Lately the news has been filled with stories of famous people making hateful derogatory remarks. Mel Gibson, Michael Richards, and Isaiah Washington immediately come to mind. These three men should be ashamed of themselves, but something tells me they really don't care. All they had to do was a little "apology public relations" with a stint in rehab or a lesson in anger management. They looked contrite sitting in the interviewee's chair while they mustered all their acting ability to react on cue. Did anyone really believe their transparent gestures?

The fact is that in their moment of rage they meant what they said. Their public apologies are media events to protect their assets, their income, and not atone for their sins. At the end of the day they remain hateful people, laughing all the way to the bank.

Anti-Semitic slurs and the "N" and "F" words (you know what those words are) are the most horrible things to call anyone. And now I recently learned about another word…

For the past few months I've been a member of a Native American yahoo group where Native issues are discussed and debated. Because I'm not Native American I've been hovering behind my monitor and reading the posts, not posting anything myself. I'm there to learn and to better understand Native American culture and history.

I was surprised (my ignorance astounds me some times) to learn that the "S" word (squaw) is a derogatory term referring to Native American women as dirty and sexually expendable. For years I've heard the "S" word in songs, in movies, and in conversation and never put much thought into it. Now I know better.

So I implore everyone to add the "S" word to that list of words we find offensive, derogatory, and totally unacceptable.