Monday, August 31, 2009

Listen Up

I think it’s safe to say that Mother Nature is one pissed off broad.

There are hurricanes in the east, earthquakes happening in Oklahoma, and raging fires in Los Angeles.

Weather temperatures are not normal; some places abnormally hot, some places abnormally chilly.

And we cannot forget tsunamis, typhoons, and tornados haunting the world.

There’s global warming, global freezing, and global indifference.

In Los Angeles nearly 100,000 acres have been destroyed by raging fires over the past few days. Just think of all the people who’ve lost their homes, and the poor animals that never had a chance against the fire. It’s devastating.

Outside my apartment I can see the fire smoke rising over the mountains, and I can smell it, and I can feel it infecting my sinuses and scratching my lungs.

I think Mother Nature is giving us a huge wake-up call. And if we listen closely we can hear her shouting, “Don’t fuck with me, folks!”

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ocean Air

This past Sunday I had planned a leisurely day. I wanted to read, write, eat, and sleep, and never leave my apartment.

I wasn’t even up an hour when my neighbor called and suggested a local walk and scone. The scone temptation was overpowering and I immediately blurted out a rather aggressive “yes, I’m ready, let’s go.”

Cinnamon raison, blueberry oat, cranberry almond, or lemon poppy? The potential flavors teased the tip of my taste buds as I put on my sneakers.

When my neighbor knocked at my door he suggested forgoing the scone and heading to Venice for breakfast and a walk on the beach. Whoah, this was definitely not part of the day’s plan and would certainly take more than a hour, but I figured “what the hell” and embraced spontaneity.

The sky was bluer than blue with a medley of kites dancing in the breeze. The sun was shining. The temperature was nearly perfect.

Here are some photos I took:

After the beach adventure we headed home, but along the way we veered off for a visit to Lake Shrine at the Self-Realization Center for some spiritual contemplation.

I survived without my scone. I had French toast instead. Delicious.

I came home rejuvenated.

Spontaneity is good.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

2/3 of the Supremes

I was never a Supremes fan. I know their songs, and pleasant as they are, they’ve never excited me enough to purchase them. When they’re played on the radio I don’t turn the station off nor do I bounce up and down and sing along. On a few occasions I’ve probably hummed along butchering the lyrics.

I’ve always thought that Diana Ross shrieks unpleasantly. One time I let someone take me to her concert and I just couldn’t get caught up in the near hysteria of the audience. Maybe one or two songs made my heart skip a beat or two, but certainly not enough for me to cross the threshold into fandom. If I remember correctly (it was many years ago) it was the chorus of “Ain’t Now Mountain High Enough” that caused my heartbeats to burp that night.

So on Saturday it was to my own surprise that I ended up at a Mary Wilson concert (one of the original Supremes) at the annual Sunset Junction street fair in Los Angeles.

She sang many of the Supremes most treasured songs, and people in the audience danced and gyrated and sang along like it was forty years ago. Her voice is huskier than her recordings and she did put on a pleasant show. Ooh, there’s that word again - pleasant - but it best describes the Mary Wilson experience.

A highlight was the standard “Fields of Gold,” which I’ve always enjoyed though the woman in front of me kept repeating how much she hated that song, which dampened the moment for me. I was going to smack her on the side of the head to shut her up, but I held back afraid it would have caused a ruckus or a supreme riot.

Another good performance was on Stevie Wonder’s “Bad Weather,” which I learned was a post-Diana Supremes hit from the 70s; that and “River Deep, Mountain High.”

I can now say that I’ve seen two of the three original Supremes in concert, up close and personal. That’s something, isn’t it?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Dirty Old Man John

I’m a serious gym man. Five mornings a week I drag my ass to the gym for at least 30 minutes of cardio and then weight lifting. Each day is assigned a particular body part that gets special attention.

Lately I’ve been writing my bike the 4.1 miles to the gym for that added cardio exercise. Oh yes, that means I ride 8.2 miles per day. And yes, you can only imagine how strong my legs are becoming.

When I’m on the treadmill or stair master I have my iPod distracting me with my favorite music while I secretly people watch. The gym gods and goddesses prance with the confidence of “Hey, look at me. I look damn good and you can’t have me,” while others wear oversized sweats and silently scream “I know I’m out of shape. Don’t look at me.”

For quite a while now my people watching has been distracted by old man John, and yes, John is his real name. He’s always at the gym when I’m there and because of his dirty habit I cannot stop watching him. He grosses me out. I take mental note of the machines he’s using and make sure I don’t use them until another day when I know the gym staff has had time to clean and disinfect them.

What’s his dirty habit?

John brings his own small white towel (actually it’s a shade of grey from being used over and over again) which he drapes on the seats of the machines or he places on the head rest of the machines he’s using. He then takes that same towel to wipe the machine when he’s done, and this same towel he uses to wipe his sweaty face and sweaty arms and whatever other body part he deems needs wiping. He’s a dirty sweat-er and wiper.

One time he asked to “work in” with me and I just couldn’t. I let him take the machine and quickly moved on to my next exercise.

John’s not the only one with dirty gym habits, but he’s the one I’m fixated on and when I see his perspiration covered body coming within ten feet of me I cringe and pray that none of his sweat pellets leap in the air and find their way onto me.

I hope he reads this blog.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Buffy Speaks

This weekend on there’s a wonderful video interview with the great Buffy Sainte-Marie. She talks about her songwriting process and how she approached and developed the ideas for her classic songs Universal Soldier and Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, and her newly released No No Keshagesh.

She looks great. She’s sounding better than ever. She’s legendary.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Butterflies and Feet

The English word butterfly is a beautifully melodic word. In French it’s papillon, and when you say it it sings off your tongue.

Butterfly. Papillon.

When we think of a butterfly images of sunny skies, foliage, and elaborately colored insects fluttering from plant to plant come to mind.

Monarchs, Painted Ladies, Crescentspots, Aphrodites, and Tiger Swallowtails dance their dance to the tune of Mother Nature. Aaah...

But did you know that butterflies smell with their feet? Oh yes they do. They have chemoreceptors at the ends of their antennas and on the bottoms of their feet.

What would it be like if we humans smelled with our feet?

Around my apartment I’d be privy to the scent of clean carpeting (I vacuum regularly), and in my kitchen I might smell crumbs from last night’s dinner or the spilled wine that I haphazardly wiped up. Would sniffing the wine give me a little buzz? Would I like it?

In my bathroom the smell of disinfectant would most certainly clog my foot sinuses. I’d need to purchase a lot of sinus medication, which usually makes me drowsy.

If I went swimming could my sense of smell possibly drown?

What would the pedals of my bike smell like?

Or the floor of the gym where many people, including myself, have dropped sweat?

In order to smell what I’ve got cooking would I have to dangle my feet above the food or could a simple jump in the air suffice?

What about the trails I hike? What does a dirt path really smell like? Would it be Nature’s aroma therapy or Nature’s cruel smelly joke?

I’m glad I’m not a butterfly.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Ranch of the Little Hills

My love of adobes continues...

This time I went to Long Beach, CA to visit Rancho Los Cerritos (Ranch of the Little Hills) which is one of the few adobes in Southern California that has two-floors, a rarity among adobes. In this particular adobe the lower walls are three feet wide to withstand the weight of the second floor whose walls are only two feet wide.

This beautiful adobe was originally built in 1844 by John Temple and served as the headquarters for his successful cattle operation. There were as many as 15,000 cattle on the farm which also included a lucrative hide and tallow business.

After years of severe flooding and drought many of the cattle died, and in 1866 Temple sold the adobe to the Bixby family who turned Rancho Los Cerritos into a sheep ranch. During this time over 30,000 sheep were raised and sheared twice a year.

Sadly, the sheep industry entered years of decline and from 1881 to 1929 the ranch fell into disrepair.

In 1930 Lewellyn Bixby remodeled the ranch for his family with a new roof, expanded rooms, electricity and plumbing, but kept the original adobe intact. His family stayed until 1955 when the adobe was leased to the City of Long Beach and opened as a public museum.

Rancho Los Cerritos is now a National, State and Local Historic Landmark.

There are daily adobe and garden tours for all you adobe lovers. Check out its website by clicking here.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Eat, Eat

Patti Smith is an icon; the high priestess of punk.

Her 1996 CD Gone Again is a great work of art and it includes one of my favorite songs: Summer Cannibals. I love listening to this song, and I love singing the chorus. I’ve entertained some and confused others and pissed off a minor few when belting out “Eat, eat!”

Yesterday on youtube I found the Summer Cannibals video and want to share it with you. Below the video I’ve included the lyrics. The song was co-written by Smith and her late husband, Fred Sonic Smith.

I was down in georgia
Nothing was as real
As the street beneath my feet
Descending into air

The cauldron was a-bubbling
The flesh was lean
And the women moved forward
Like piranhas in a stream
They spread themselves before me
An offering so sweet
And they beckoned and they beckoned
Come on darling eat

Eat the summer cannibals
Eat eat eat
You eat the summer cannibals
Eat eat eat

They circled around me
Natives in a ring
And I saw their souls a-withering
Like snakes in chains
And they wrapped themselves around me
Ummm what a treat
And they rattled their tales hissin
Come on lets eat

Eat the summer cannibals
Eat eat eat
You eat the summer cannibals
Eat eat eat

I felt a rising in my throat
The girls a-saying grace
And the air the viscous air
Pressed against my face
And it all got too damn much for me
Just got too damn rough
And I pushed away my plate
And said boys Ive had enough
And I laid upon the table
Another piece of meat
And I opened up my veins to them
And said come on eat

Eat the summer cannibals
Eat eat eat
You eat the summer cannibals
Eat eat eat
You eat the summer cannibals
Eat eat eat
You eat the summer cannibals
Eat eat eat

Cause I was down in georgia
Nothing was as real
As the street beneath my feet
Descending into hell

So eat eat eat
You eat eat eat
You eat eat eat
Eat eat eat

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

All Through the Night

While clicking my way around the Internet I came across yet another interesting fact:

The average person falls asleep in 7 minutes.

Once I turn out the lights I’m in dreamland within two minutes, if not sooner, and the next thing I know the sun is shining and it’s time to rise and shine. I don’t even need to set the alarm; my body just knows when I need to wake up.

Rarely do I toss and turn (though one time I did wake up with a black eye, but it’s still disputed how that really did happen) and even more rarely do I ever wake up in the middle of the night. And never do I have to crawl out of bed in the wee hours for a pee (I attribute that to a strong and healthy and rather large bladder).

Even when I’m not sleeping in my own bed I’m able to doze off immediately.

I have friends who suffer terrible insomnia. It takes them hours every night before they fall asleep and they wake up more tired than when they went to bed.

I guess I can say I’m a blessed sleeper.

I’m above average.

I’m well rested.


Sunday, August 02, 2009

Heavenly Beats

The religious world is abuzz with news that the pope is set to record a heavenly CD for Geffen Records. His voice will be accompanied by the Choir of the Philharmonic Academy of Rome, and the CD will also include eight original compositions performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
Now I’m wondering... Will the pope be doing any music videos to promote sales?

With a proper remix and a little back beat I’m certain the pope could reinvent himself as the male Lady GaGa. He could sing and dance his way around the holy streets of the Vatican surrounded by “The Bouncing Bishops” and “The Genuflecting Altar Boys” with “The Habit Forming Nuns” singing back-up from the balconies that line the holy streets.

It could be quite the colorful spectacle. Lord knows he’s got a closet full of multi-colored costumes, gangsta bling, and matching sandals.

I get chills just thinking about it.

Pope Benedict: MTV superstar.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Brand New Key

As I mentioned a couple of posts ago I’ve recently embraced my bicycle spirit and have been doing a lot of riding around Los Angeles.

And as I mentioned before I’ve been singing a lot of bicycle songs as I’ve pedaled my way into stronger thighs.

Today between bike rides I ventured over to youtube and searched for bicycle song videos and found a great video of Melanie performing her 70s worldwide hit “Brand New Key.”

Interesting note: This song was banned from some radio stations because some people interpreted the lyrics as being sexual innuendo. Oh the 70s...

I rode my bicycle past your window last night
I roller skated to your door at daylight
It almost seems like you're avoiding me
I'm okay alone, but you got something I need

Well, I got a brand new pair of roller skates
You got a brand new key
I think that we should get together and try them out you see
I been looking around awhile
You got something for me
Oh! I got a brand new pair of roller skates
You got a brand new key

I ride my bike, I roller skate, don't drive no car
Don't go too fast, but I go pretty far
For somebody who don't drive
I been all around the world
Some people say, I done all right for a girl

Well, I got a brand new pair of roller skates
You got a brand new key
I think that we should get together and try them out you see
I been looking around awhile
You got something for me
Oh! I got a brand new pair of roller skates
You got a brand new key

I asked your mother if you were at home
She said, yes .. but you weren't alone
Oh, sometimes I think that you're avoiding me
I'm okay alone, but you've got something I need

Well, I got a brand new pair of roller skates
You got a brand new key
I think that we should get together and try them out to see
La la la la la la la la, la la la la la la
Oh! I got a brand new pair of roller skates
You got a brand new key