June 30, 2009

-image-stealing a moment

The Banshees are asleep for good — fingers crossed — and I’m reading Wuthering Heights, a book I tried to read years ago, didn’t ever finish, so I’m giving it another go.

And, you know, I really feel compelled to say:

Heathcliff? Cathy? Uhm, please calm down, ‘mkay, peaches?

June 28, 2009

-image-michael jackson and appropriation

So Michael Jackson has died and that’s all very sad, of course, but now the circus has begun in earnest. The frenzy of mourning. The collective “falling over ourselves to get all of the misery right,” to quote “Evita.”

I mean, random people are now posting YouTube videos of themselves weeping over Jackson’s death while his music plays in the background, for God’s sake.

Honestly, I find it ridiculous, the narcissism there, the appropriation involved, strangers making Jackson’s death about them.

When it’s not. It’s just not.

I remember the day of my aunt and uncle’s memorial, a week after they were killed on Egypt Air 990 in 1999. Family and friends gathered at a nearby church — along with reporters and cameramen from every TV station in town, big, small, and medium. It was titillating, oh, yes, it was, this “local connection to the Egypt Air crash.” And it was total mayhem. A circus. My cousins were sobbing and frightened by the reporters. Cameras were set up across every inch of the back of that church. There was crazy jostling for position, for the best shot. MB, shooting footage for the family with his own professional video camera, was bombarded by media who thought he was “one of them.” Once they saw him talking to us, it began in earnest:

“Hey man, do you know the family?”

“Can you get me close to the family?”

“Can we talk to the family?”

Literally, there were more of them than there were of us. A mob of media. Just a tad menacing, you know? And God bless him, MB stood a stubborn sentinel for the rest of us, his shattered family. NO ONE got past that man. There we were, this broken little clan, huddled in a corner trying to keep our wits about us, trying not to be ripped apart, at the memorial service of our OWN family members. The media basically chased us into the shadows and forced us into hiding, before the service had even started. Our private grief was cheapened because the public insisted on sharing. It was total insanity and a violation of something sacred.

And, no, it wasn’t the same kind of situation that Jackson’s death is. It wasn’t the death of a worldwide icon — no, it was an unacknowledged terrorist action, you know, whatevs — but, still, some of it echoes with me right now, watching the current feeding frenzy.

Every story of public tragedy becomes an act of appropriation to some extent. People crave a piece of it, there must be “a local connection,” however flimsy, the insatiable beast of curiosity must be fed. And in the process, precious private things are wrangled away from their rightful owners and tossed to the crowd, who gobble them up unthinking.

People seem to forget a basic lesson from childhood:

There’s what belongs to you and what doesn’t.

For me, as a member of the general public, feeling sadness and shock over Jackson’s death is appropriate, I suppose. That level of reaction “belongs” to us, all strangers to Michael Jackson. (And, honestly, I’m more sad than shocked. I mean, did anyone envision that man living to a ripe old adulthood? Really?) So I’m “sad,” yes, but in an oblique, distant sense.

I didn’t know Michael Jackson.

These other public reactions I’m seeing, the weeping, the wailing, the sobbing — are, I’m sorry, inappropriate. Weeping and wailing belong to his family and friends. People who actually knew him. Because, let’s be honest, how much of Michael Jackson have any of us really lost? Nothing. I have no less Michael Jackson in my life than I had four days ago and neither does anyone else in the general public. We had his music when he was alive — I worked out to it, as a matter of fact, the day before he died — and we still have his music. We’ve lost nothing more of Michael Jackson than we ever had to begin with. Our personal lives are not affected by his loss. I’m not trying to be callous; I just wish the great sobbing masses could have a more measured response. (Which is a really stupid, Trace. I laugh at you.) What have you lost? What have you lost? The hope of meeting him someday? Not likely. The man was a recluse. A chance to see him in his final concert tour this summer? Well, I guess that’s a loss, but it’s not a weeping-and-wailing loss. Get your money back. Enough with the wailing. Please.

Don’t appropriate grief that doesn’t belong to you.

Again, there’s what belongs to you and what doesn’t and shrieking grief over Michael Jackson’s death does not belong to you.

I’d rather people be honest enough to name what the maudlin spectacle is really all about: Fear. Fear for yourself. If an untouchable icon — a megastar — can fall so suddenly, what does that mean for me, a mere earthbound mortal?

Honestly, I don’t think people are crying for Michael Jackson — at the core of this. No, at the core of this we all feel a little more vulnerable. When might our number be up? We freak out when our icons die because we feel small compared to them so why, we wonder, have we so far been spared?

Well, why, indeed? I’m pretty sure it’s not so you can sob into your hands on YouTube while “Man in the Mirror” plays in the background.

So stop it.

I know I sound irritated and I guess I am. It’s bringing back things I’d rather not think about right now.

Honestly, there’s what belongs to you and what doesn’t belong to you and, oh, how I wish more people understood the difference.

Genuine grief belongs to the people who have truly lost Michael Jackson, family, friends, whose personal lives will forever be altered.

Leave it to them.

June 27, 2009

-image-line of the day

I was with a friend of mine yesterday and we were discussing — again — Resort Dude’s Kissing Moratorium for Jesus. She can’t quite get past it.

At one point she said, “I just don’t know, Tracer. It’s like sexual anorexia or something.”

I basically fell out of my chair laughing. If you could hear her voice — my friend with her light-as-air Marilyn Monroe voice — saying “sexual anorexia.”

I’m laughing just typing this.

June 26, 2009

-image-announcement!!

Correction: Pacific Daylight Time. Sorry. Pacific Daylight Time. Pacific Daylight Time.

I will be accepting entries for The Best Thing Ever: England in a post at 12 Noon PDT on Monday, June 29th.

12 Noon PDT Monday, June 29th.

First come, first served. First eight entries. Unless your entry is waaaaaay off base from the theme of British Movies. I mean, come on, no ET.

The game starts when the quarterfinals of Wimbledon start.

Keyboards ready with those entries, peaches.

Weeeeee!!

-image-the strikes against: strike four

Continuing my list of No-Commentary Episodes from The Trip.

Number four.

(First three here.)

RESORT DUDE: Another part of my witness for the Lord is that I don’t carry any debt.

ME: Oh. I see.

Okay. I can’t do it, okay? I can’t not comment on this. I can’t. Look. It’s nice that he doesn’t carry any debt, really, it is. But how, how, is that part of his public witness? How do people know this unless, uhm, he tells them? How does it come up in casual coffeehouse conversation? I had many many casual coffeehouse conversations with my customers and it never once came up.

Just how does that come up??

CUSTOMER: I’d like a hazelnut latte, please.

RESORT DUDE: Hey, do you know I don’t carry any debt?

How???

I’m not trying to invalidate his decision on this point. I think it’s probably wise, although, with the kind of business he has, I don’t know how that’s entirely possible — not carrying debt. He wants his business to “go to the next level,” wanted us to be the people to “help make it happen,” and yet, after ten years in business, he hasn’t gotten there. Maybe he needs to take some risks, take on a little bit of debt, and market himself to the next level, you know? He clearly needs some kind of a springboard to get there. Just sayin’.

My issue with this is how is that decision part of his public witness? People notice how you treat them. They don’t notice whether you’re carrying debt. It’s a private issue and his is a private conviction. Don’t make it something else. I mean, my first impression of him wasn’t, “Wow. I bet he doesn’t carry any debt.” No, my first impression of him was, “Hm. For someone in the hospitality business his hospitality needs some work.”

If someone were to ask his opinion on it, then I think he has an opening to discuss it — in principle. But to bring it up unsolicited takes a careful private conviction and brings it out into the marketplace of public opinion and praise. He wanted me to praise him on this private unseen conviction and I wasn’t going to play the game. I was actually less impressed with his private conviction because he was willing to sell it for a compliment. That’s like saying, “Hey, do you know I gave a thousand bucks to such-and-such charity?” No. No. You don’t do that. You do it and shut up about it.

Strike Four.

June 25, 2009

-image-this song …. does things to me

“I’ll Write a Song for You,” by Earth, Wind, and Fire.

Yes, it is Earth, Wind, and Fire. Yes, over the years, they have regularly costumed themselves as if they were starring in some appalling Disney hybrid of Aladdin and The Lion King. Yes, sometimes their lyrics are airy-fairy incomprehensible New Age twaddle, but, yamahama, Crackie, sometimes, SOMETIMES they do things to me.

I probably came to EWF later than everyone else because, well, I came to all popular music later than everyone else because I am basically Amish as I’ve stated here umpteen times before. I don’t like everything they’ve done — I’m probably not even familiar with everything they’ve done — but this song …… ohhhh, this song ….. yes, I’m very familiar with this song even though it’s one of their more obscure songs, was never a big hit. Uhm, to the best of my minimal knowledge.

It’s one of my all-time favorites.
For various reasons.

It’s just in my blood.

And, okay, all Amish aside, pippa? I’m not going to lie: This song is pure liquid sex. I dare you to listen to it and think otherwise.

This song. IS sex.

Listen to the lyrics. Listen to the progression of the song. Everything starts so hushed and delicate, plucking, strumming, a slow sweet foreplay tugging at you, taking its time, everything so gentle, a low-level pound, until ….. 3:09 when, if you listen closely, Philip Bailey takes a breath that changes the entire song. Everything is joined, builds, becomes more and more urgent, sometimes soaring, sometimes gasping, until …. 4:54 when he hits that note, the note you cannot believe, the note that makes you want to weep for its beauty and purity, the breathless climax, and, well, honestly, you’ll be hitting it, too.

I mean, YAmaHAma. It’s perfect. He’s perfect. His voice is perfect. That’s a high B or C he’s hitting at the climax of the song. Swoooooon. Forget what I said before about loving the beauty of imperfection, blahdie blah blah. I mean, cram all that, peaches.

I love the beauty of perfection!

Problem is I will basically rip off my clothes should someone start to play this song. It’s true. It’s a problem. It’s a guarantee. Any time. Anywhere.

Play it in line at the DMV? Tracey rips her clothes off.

A muzak version plays during visiting hours at the old folks’ home? Tracey rips her clothes off.

Someone’s listening to it in the church parking lot? Uhm, Tracey rips her clothes off and is escorted off the premises by elders with their clothes on.

HUGE, MASSIVE interpersonal problem I have. I would have this song on continuous play on my iPod, but it would seriously impede my ability to function in the world and stay out of jail.

Please listen and try to keep your clothes on. Don’t be like me, I implore you.

We’re …. we’re on a spinning top ….

(Lyrics below)

I thirst but never quench
I know the consequence, feeling as I do
We’re in a spinning top
Where, tell me, will it stop
And what am I to say
Open our music book, that only few can look
And I’ll write a song for you

Love is a symphony, hearts in one melody
‘Cause I write a song for you
Sounds never dissipate, they only recreate
In another place
There in your silent night
Joy of a song’s delight
‘Cause I’ll write a song for you
You’ll write a song for me
We’ll write a song of love … of love

My magical mystique, finding it all complete
In your lovely face, feelings we try to chase
Memories that won’t erase, stay forever new
We have a magic box in which is never locked
‘Cause I write a song for you
You write a song for me
We’ll write a song of love ….. of love

June 24, 2009

-image-the strikes against: strike three

Number three on my list of Episodes from The Trip.

My rapidly unwinding experiment in just the facts.

(Like here and here.)

No commentary. Or as little commentary as I can manage. It’s hard for me. I mean, I’m basically in agony here, but I want to see how you guys respond to these episodes and I don’t want to poison the well. Oh, but I will surely fail at this. Just so you know.

And, yes, I do understand that three strikes means you’re out, but, well, not for purposes of this unfolding story. Oh, no. Not by a long shot.

So at one point:

~ We were in the kitchen, after hours, helping Resort Dude prepare our dinner. His girlfriend was also there and let’s just say her name is Beasley. It’s really not, but, again, let’s just say it is and you can make of that whatever you wish.

~ I began to chop some garlic cloves.

~ He corrected me. “No, no, no. Do it like this.”

~ Beasley was touching him and groping him and pawing him while the dinner prep continued. And that’s just straight factual reporting. It is.

~ We were making scampi.

~ They were groping.

~ Once dinner was ready and we all sat down, Resort Dude said, “I didn’t have fresh parsley. It needs fresh parsley.”

“It’s fine. It’s really good,” we said.

“No. I needed parsley. It’s not the same.”

~ The subject of the problem with the scampi was dropped for a few moments.

~ Then I said, “Whoever chopped this garlic sure did a good job.”

~ MB laughed, but no one else did.

~ Moments later, Resort Dude said, “Darn it! It needs more salt.”

“No, we like it. Thank you. It’s really good.”

~ The subject of the problem with the scampi was dropped for a few moments.

~ It’s worth interjecting here that God taught Resort Dude how to cook.

~ I swear that isn’t commentary.

~ “Okay. I know what I can do. Lemon,” he said, as he disappeared from the table.

~ I brought up the subject of gay people on purpose.

~ Beasley had some opinions on the subject with which I did not agree — based on her personal acquaintance with precisely zero gay people.

~ Resort Dude returned a few moments later with freshly sliced lemon wedges which he squirted atop our already half-eaten scampi.

“There. That’s better. Taste that. It’s better.”

~ He sat back down and the mutual pawing resumed.

~ Moments later, he said, “Part of my witness for the Lord is that I don’t kiss Beasley. We don’t kiss. Because I know I wouldn’t be able to stop.”

(O DEAR BABY JESUS, I am fighting further commentary with every FIBER of my being!! This experiment is going to break me!!)

Uhm, so, yeah. Strike Three.

Oh, but there’s more to come.

I haven’t even gotten to the worst of it yet.

-image-the strikes against: strike two

Number two on my list of Episodes from The Trip.

My dry-as-possible, no-commentary, just-the-facts list.

So.

~ At one point, Resort Dude and I were in his coffeehouse, behind the bar, talking coffee. He asked me my background. I told him where I’d learned the “espresso arts” — that my training had been from a corporate entity.

“Oh. Corporate,” he said.

“Uh-huh.”

“I learned from God. He taught me how to pull espresso shots.”

“Oh.”

Strike Two.

(SO hard to do these without commentary. I am torturing myself. Why am I doing this?)

-image-the strikes against: strike one

I’m just going to present the facts of our visit to The Resort in a series of short posts. I’m actually challenging myself not to editorialize.

It’s a list. Just list them, Trace. A dry-as-possible list. Don’t embellish.

This is the first one.

Let’s see if your responses are the same as ours were.

~ Before we arrived, Resort Dude had sent us an email: Looking forward to meeting you. I’ll put you up in one of the cottages when you get here. Great. If, at some point, you have typed in the link I half-gave you here, clicked on the “gallery” link and clicked on “resort grounds,” you’ve probably had the chance to click through the photos to see what the cottages look like. They’re nice. Cute. With a separate bedroom. A sleeping loft. Compact kitchen with a gas stove. Large bathroom. All extremely clean and well-kept. A couple of them have decks right on the riverbank. So, based on the photos, I was looking forward to that.

~ The day we arrived, we’d been on the road for eight hours, having spent the night with friends in San Luis Obispo. Actually, we visited them on the way up and the way back and that turned out to be the best part of the trip, even though it added hours to the drive. Totally worth it. So we arrived, early evening, we were tired, numb, bleary eyed. We met Resort Dude and he immediately said, “Oh. The cottages are all rented out this weekend, I’m going to put you in The Dorm.”

~ “The Dorm” turned out to be an office space, basically. A mostly empty room with a bland seating area and those long fluorescent lights that all offices have. And a cot. A single cot.

~ There were two bathrooms in The Dorm. He said, “Please don’t use the other one. I don’t want to have to clean it.”

~ At bedtime, he showed us where the other cots were. They needed to be assembled or something, as I recall. I was collapsed on one of the chairs in the seating area and wasn’t paying much attention at this point. MB set up another cot. Resort Dude left.

~ We needed linens and toiletries — we had underpacked — so we went into the attached storage room and scrounged around for sheets, pillows, towels, soap, shampoo, etc.

This whole episode was Strike One for us.

June 23, 2009

-image-rita springer

I don’t know how many people will actually listen to the entire song posted below, but if anyone happens to be, oh, standing around in their underwear, flossing their teeth, wondering, “Hm. I can’t help but wonder which modern Christian worship song in the frequent rubbish heap of modern Christian worship music is Tracey’s favorite, the one that stands out as the pony in the poo pile, the one that best expresses how she feels inside about her entire faith, the one that rips her open but also lets her soar and whatnot, etc.,” I would tell that person — once they put some clothes on, thank you, I mean we don’t want any more awkward moments than this blog already creates — the song below, “Phenomenon” by Rita Springer.

And, yes, I’m sure you are all standing around in your underwear, flossing your teeth, wondering just what the answer is to this pivotal point.

Tsk tsk. The ego on me.

Drunken slattern.

I just love Rita Springer. She’s raw, man. She pounds those keyboards. She wails. She’s got a kind of Melissa Etheridge sound. Her voice is not necessarily pretty, but it packs a punch. It’s gravelly, raw — almost as if she just doesn’t care what it sounds like, she needs to get the words out. It’s that quality, the unprettiness of her voice, that makes it more beautiful to me. She uses it, lets her heart blaze through all that. Some people won’t like that, but sometimes I really prefer the beauty of imperfection.

And I love her lyrics, too. Love the images here.

The piano and lyrics at 3:05? Okay. Just tear me open.

Oh, and this is just a static image — no video to watch. I think I’ve expressed my, uhm, contempt? disdain? for many of the homemade YouTube videos. The ones that take the lyrics too literally? Yeah, those. So I’m going with this one — no lame distracting images that make me wanna punch someone. (Uhm …. just kidding, Jesus. I am always in control of myself as these fine people can attest.)

Oh, just listen to the song, okay? With headphones, if you can, so you can turn it up. Some cool drums in this song. (Lyrics below.)

I am not here just to see a phenomenon
I am not here for experiential bliss
I simply come to the feet of the God I serve,
The one that I love

I am not here for the sake of the people’s praise
I have not come to see the thunder and rain
I simply come to court of the King above
The one that I praise

And I want to find the way to his chambers
I want to be in the presence of the Lord
I am in need of his mercy and favor
Forever more

I am not here for the sake of a miracle
I am not here just to see the dead raised
Yes, I believe in power supernatural
But that’s not way I’m saved

I’ve had enough of this life of a Pharisee
I want to know this Jesus who’s been loving me
I’m running into the temple now just to see
The one that I love

And I want to find the way to his chambers
I want to be in the presence of the Lord
I am in need of his mercy and favor
Forever more

I give my heart to the one they call Jesus
Seeking out first the very kingdom of God
You are the way and the truth, I believe it
You are my phenomenon

You can move mountains whenever you want to
You can speak to the sea whenever it pleases you

Forgive me oh Lord if I’ve been a market place
And turn me upside down so I will seek your face
If your presence comes right here into this place
So will the thunder and the rain

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