Thursday, September 22, 2011

knowing when it's time to leave

REM announced yesterday that after 30+ years together, the band has "broken-up".  Michael Stipe had this to say, 
“A wise man once said—‘the skill in attending a party is knowing when it’s time to leave.’ We built something extraordinary together. We did this thing. And now we’re going to walk away from it. I hope our fans realize this wasn’t an easy decision; but all things must end, and we wanted to do it right, to do it our way. We have to thank all the people who helped us be R.E.M. for these 31 years; our deepest gratitude to those who allowed us to do this. It’s been amazing.”
I know, I know, probably not the biggest news of your day. (I think more people were talking about the new Facebook layout!) Yet, it's still a strange notion, for me at least.  I clearly remember listening to REM for the first time.  I was not quite 20 years old. My friend Martin had bought their album Murmur (yes, album... as in vinyl) and put it on a cassette tape for me. I almost wore that tape out.

I felt as if I was listening to musical poetry... arguably obscure, but beautiful nonetheless.  After listening to years of synthpop and new wave music, REM's quiet, introspective sound was exhilarating. They quickly became my favorite group and have remained one ever since.

I only got to see them play live once.  It was early on, probably 1986 or 1987, in a small art deco theater in Cleveland.  I sat the whole evening mesmerized.  (Countrymouse was less than impressed with the show. Stipe still had some issues (shyness? agoraphobia?) when performing then and had his back to the audience most of the evening.)  I remember "Superman" being one of the highlights of the evening.

To mark this end of a musical era, I offer two songs.  The first, "Radio Free Europe"... the song that started it all...the first track off their first full-length album, Murmur (as well as their first single).  This video also marks their first television performance.

The second, "Find the River", their final track off what is generally considered to be their greatest work, Automatic For the People.  A fitting song to say goodbye to a group of musicians that have been with me throughout my entire adult life.

Me, my thoughts are flower strewn
Ocean storm, bayberry moon
I have got to leave to find my way
Watch the road and memorize
This life that pass before my eyes
Nothing is going my way

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

tunes for tuesday: the understanding

It's late... or early, depending on how you look at it.  I've been awake since 1:45 and at this point it's a little after 4:00.  Not much sense in climbing back into bed now since my alarm will go off in less than an hour.  So how do you whittle away the hours until the rest of mankind begins to stir?  By playing on-line Scrabble and listening to music, that's how.  

All of that brings me to one of my current favorite songs, "The Understanding" by Jones Street Station.  While the band’s folksy indie pop is easy on the ears, it keeps the listener engaged.  The song definitely has a great sentiment and a catchy track.

Band member Danny Erker says, "We sing about a lot of wild stuff in the song -- fallen angels, prison breaks, sword fights -- but what's at its heart is the simple beauty of spontaneous friendships...". 

Perfect listening for 4:00 am.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

become someone else

Are there days when you'd love to become someone else?  (I can hear you shouting, "Hell yeah" as I type this! Yeah, me too.)

"Become Someone Else" is a brilliant ad campaign from earlier this year by Lithuanian advertising agency, Love for Mint Vinetu, a book store that features classic literature.  Here's what they have to say about it:

"When one reads books, he/she starts living it and identifies (or not) with main hero. These print ads for the Mint Vinetu bookstore, which sells lots of classics, focuses on the idea of becoming someone else. And provokes people to try on different personas."

My favorite classic is Emily Bronte's one and only novel, Wuthering Heights, but it's a sad, tragic story.  My own life is so much happier than Cathy's ever hoped to be, there is no way I'd trade places with her! What about you?  Any classic stories you'd love to live for a day?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

if we always remember we will never forget

I am sure there have been plenty of posts about Patriot's Day today... did you even know that 09/11 was given it's own "holiday"? While I have been cognizant of what day it is, I wasn't sure that I wanted to write about it.  But here I am at 11:30 at night, putting my thoughts into words.   

Like you, I remember where I was when I heard about the 09/11 attacks.  My mother and I had spent the morning emptying out my basement as the last phase of a former move was shaping up.  I was swinging by the dry cleaners when my husband's secretary called me to tell me about what had happened and that they were cancelling patients for the day.  My kids came home early from school and didn't have classes for the next day or two. (We live in Maryland and as the crow flies, are not that far from DC.) 

Here we are 10 years later.  The big slogan for the day is "Never Forget".  But that's exactly what I am concerned will happen.  I think about the bombings in Pearl Harbor in 1941.  While I understand the significance of December 7, 1941, it is not a day I stop and observe.  Am I unpatriotic when I say it is another day in our country's history but doesn't mean anything to me personally? I've been told that 09/11 will probably be one of (if not THE) most defining days of my life.  I can believe that but at what point does that not apply?  Will my children feel the same way?  Surely, my grandchildren won't.  

My parents were born in 1939 and 1941.  They grew up during WWII and had recollections of it's impact on their lives. While they were too young to remember Pearl Harbor, it definitely impacted them.  I think about the war effort in WWII and the amount of support our country showed the troops.  I think things are very different today.  Our efforts are not as focused and our support is sometimes ambiguous.  After 09/11/2001 I saw a unity in our country that I personally had never seen before.  But over time that faded away.  If the most "defining event in my life" cannot keep a fire burning within the belly of our country, what can?   

So while it is all very topical to talk about 09/11/2001 today, what do you do on a daily basis to honor the fallen or keep the passion or patriotism alive?  In 70 years will our grandchildren and great-grandchildren think about 09/11/2001 like I think about 12/07/1941? I hope not but unless I am willing to make this day live for them, I don't see how they won't.

The bottom line is our love for our country and what it stands for must be a message we instill in our children every day.  Days like today are special because they make us stop and remember. But if we always remember we will never forget.  

Friday, September 2, 2011

sugar and spice

My garden, once vibrant, has now gone the way of most of summer's goodness. But I still have basil, hot peppers and tomatoes. What more could a girl ask for?  (I know things are looking pretty rough in this photo... the crappy garden is mine.  The crappy garage is my neighbor's.)

My hot peppers are finally coming on and I love pulling into my driveway in the evening and seeing little fiery bursts of red in the garden.  I think there may be a big pot of chili in my family's future!

Taking the photo, I thought about this old nursery rhyme...

What are little boys made of?
What are little boys made of?
Frogs and snails,
And puppy dogs' tails
That's what little boys are made of.

What are little girls made of?
What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice,
And everything nice
That's what little girls are made of.

I remember being a little girl, when it was still just my two brothers and me, and my mother would say this with us.  Somehow I felt a sense of superiority over my brothers because they were made of icky things like frogs and snails but I was made of everything nice.  It makes me smile now.

This weekend, I am off to spend time with my two sisters.  In some ways we are very much alike but in many ways we are very different.  Makes for colorful, passionate friendships.  

Thinking about my sisters and this nursery rhyme also makes me think about the cartoon, Powerpuff Girls.  (I know, my mind is all over the place some days.)  If you aren't familiar with the cartoon, the main characters are three sisters, who were created by Professor Utonium in an attempt to create one "perfect little girl", using a mixture of sugar and spice and everything nice.  But what happened instead is that he accidentally spilled the mysterious Chemical X (rumor has it, in the original pilot, Chemical X was called "Whoop Ass" but they cleaned it up before the cartoon aired) into the mixture and ended up with three little girls... each possessing one of the elements he was shooting for.  

(Bubbles = blue = sugar      Blossom = pink = nice       Buttercup = green = spice)

If my sisters and I were the Powerpuff girls, I'm afraid I would probably be the sugar or the nice but what I would really want to be is the SPICE! Funny how you reach a certain age and you really aren't so worried about the goody-two-shoes stuff.  I think there is definitely some freedom in aging.  (Good thing, because I am not so sure there are many other perks!)

With a long holiday weekend upon us, I hope you have a great time filled with all the goodness and spice (and maybe some Chemical X) you can handle.