Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Blue Fairy's Lament

To sense the longing for unity that brought you into being.
To wish on the stars for something you don't yet understand.
To try and fail to be good.
To feel the gaze of the one who sees your lies plain on your face.
To misplace your trust.
To curl on the floor around your broken heart.
To find another's heart in pieces in your hand.
To wish and sleep and wake and try and fail again to be good.
To hurl yourself after any passing pleasure.
To chase the next and the next and the next big thing.
To drown in your thrashing confusion.
To stare into the darkness of your isolation.
To love.
To try.
To fail.
To dream good dreams.
To be human.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Why I'm not a philosophy professor

Once upon a time, I was going to be the next generation of Simone de Beauvoir scholar.  I double majored in philosophy and women's studies.  Early in my second year of college, I started studying de Beauvoir's philosophical writings in an independent research project that led to a conference presentation and the determination that I wanted to go on and get my PhD.

Then in the spring of my junior year, I went to Penn State for a conference marking the 50th anniversary of the publication of The Second Sex, which turned out to revolve mostly around one quarrel and one consensus among the big guns (okay no one outside certain small circles of continental philosophers either knows or cares who these people are, but in those circles, they may as well be Madonna, Pat, Cyndi, and Tori).

The quarrel was over the extent and relevance of de Beauvoir's influence on the more widely read and respected philosophical work of Sartre and Merleau-Ponty.

I'll never forget overhearing an apology of sorts in the ladies room from one scholar to another, assuring no personal offense was intended in the heated discussion they'd just had in the conference room.  Ahhhh women.  The reply:  "Oh no, it's an honor to argue with you."  Ahhhh philosophers.  It was awesome.

The turning point came on day three of the conference.  The keynote speaker was a French woman, related (in some way I don't remember) to the Ecole Normale Superieure where Beauvoir and Sartre met as students.  The woman had a thick accent and bifocals worn all the way at the end of her nose, and she was so short that resting her hands on the podium put her elbows up by her ears.

She started to read her paper and I couldn't understand a word of it and the whole scene was just so hilarious to me that I could barely contain myself, so I distracted myself and doodled instead of taking notes, and the minutes ticked by.  When the words "so in conclusion" jutted out of the harsh jumble of sounds, I breathed a sigh of relief.

But then she kept going.  Fifteen, twenty more minutes and there it was again, "so in conclusion."  I held my breath.

But still she kept on.  Half an hour, forty-five minutes more.  After the third "so in conclusion," I started to get the giggles.  Quaking, uncontrollable giggles.  I glanced around, sure that I would at least catch someone's knowing eye roll, but every last one of those academics was sitting upright, straight faced, at attention.

I had to leave before I lost it.  I hustled  down the aisle and out into the lobby, released the laughter, and decided then and there that I could never, ever take philosophy - or myself - that seriously.

Furthermore, I scribbled in the margins of the doodle page, what GOOD did it do for all these people to sit in a conference room arguing amongst themselves about things that only actually matter to the extent that they affect or improve actual lives?

I wanted to find a way for the ideas I believed in to reach people.  And not just people in colleges.

So I sabotaged my philosophy applications.  Turned them all in way past the deadlines, much to the dismay of my college advisor, and thus began my winding journey into far reaches of the real world.  And here we are.  Heh.

Anyway.  The consensus among all those scholars was that a new English translation of The Second Sex was urgent.  The original translator was a zoologist, for eff's sake - an okay writer with absolutely no grasp of the philosophical definitions, contexts or implications of de Beauvoir's work.  Anything complicated that he didn't understand, he simply cut from the text (which turned out to be around 15% of the 900+ page book).  Everyone was on the rampage, but the book was still selling fine so the publishers saw no need for a new translation.

Well, apparently Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevalier were also in attendance at that conference.  And as of this spring, sixty years later, they have finally published an accurate (if much more difficult) translation of the text!  It's on its way to me in the mail now, and I might just have to start a spin-off blog as I make my way through that crazy book again.

'Cause, y'know.  Everyone else is as excited about this as I am, right?!

p.s. That talk I walked out of went on for three hours, all told.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

When I am an old woman, I shall have accumulated an entire closet of purple sparkly stuff

I often (very terribly often) lament (whine) that I don't enough have time to do normal grown-up things.  Go to movies, cook dinner, match socks, refinish my desk.  These things stay on the "I wanna" post-it list stuck up on the side of my brain, flitting around in the wind of all the things I really frantically have to remember to do.

Y'know like:  Obtain illegal wheely fireworks for CD artwork and set them off late at night in my back yard.

Or like:  Put my hair in curlers in my office bathroom after work hours and apply make-up for both myself and the boys & then break into another MIT building for a photo shoot with Boston's most amazing talented photographer, Kelly Davidson.

Or:  Attend a (sweetly air conditioned) band listening party of TONIGHT's episode of Same Sky Radio (<--- podcasts there; also live on 8-10pm) to hear our music alongside some of the country's best unsigned rock.

Or:  Invite everyone to our show with The Wandas on the Cape this Friday and down to the South Shore beach house that night and then on to the beach the next day - to set off more illegal wheely fireworks.

Or:  Make a Facebook event for the seasonal Women Rock Brunch my awesome gracious friends (who cook more than I do) have agreed to join me in launching next month.

Or:  Confirm that my best friend in Austin is indeed gonna be coming up to sing and play guitar on a bill with me at the Armory Cafe July 14th.

Or:  Invite everyone I know to dance in our Slow Dance Slow video on July 24th (ummm and confirm that date with our brilliant visionary director, Chris Gaines).

Or:  Write to the five stellar kickass bands who are playing with us for our CD release show at the Middle East Upstairs on August 7th to plan a collaboration cover for the end of the night.


So as I dragged my tired bones out of bed after a late-night post-shoot band family dinner of pizza with beer in frosted glasses, as I dug through my drawer of unmatched socks for two that kinda sorta go together, I had one of those too rare moments when I stopped moaning and groaning and thought about the fact that when I look back at this time in my life, it is going to be punctuated with spinny shiny colorful fun.  I will not be an old woman who wishes she'd lived life more fully.

So that's pretty rad.

(But also, if anyone has experience refinishing antiques, lemme know - I WILL get to the desk project.)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

You're there

Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said.  A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made.  Or a garden planted.  Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you're there.  It doesn't matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that's like you after you take your hands away.  The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said.  The lawn cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.

- from Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury

Why it took me so long to open this book, I don't know.  I can't remember where (for shame!), but I read recently that we immerse ourselves in the books we do because they have something for us at that moment in our lives.  We may later return to a book that once profoundly affected us and be totally unmoved, left wondering what the big deal was.  Because the power of this book is to shake you from the grip of "A Roman named Status Quo," and because we always seem to be on our way back to that dull mean, I can't imagine a time in any lifetime when this book wouldn't matter.  Still, I'm glad I read it now.  This passage in particular was a well-timed gift:  an affirmation.  Thanks, Ray.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Saturday Night Summer Lovefest at the Lizard Lounge :: This Blue Heaven

Here, I'm really proud of this.

<a href="">Nova Love by This Blue Heaven</a>

Yes, this is in fact the first single off This Blue Heaven's new EP, Spinning and Shining!  You may have already heard "Nova Love" spun on WFNX's New England Product or WMFO's The Dweezil Show, but this is the first time the tune is being released for web streaming!  You are WELCOME! 

The occasion for sharing it today, of course, is to get you as riled up as we are for our upcoming show this Saturday, June 19th at the Lizard Lounge. (ADVANCE TIX HERE!)  After delving into the bands that will be a part of this line-up, I'm convinced This Blue Heaven will top the night off beautifully, pulling out all the indie pop stops and rocking your happy, love-drunk hearts off.  And, while we started playing this song in the cold midwinter, now it finally IS summer (temps rise tomorrow! beach, beach, beach, beach!) and there really ARE fireflies in the sky!  Perfect. 

As for the recording, we have had such a fantastic and rewarding time working on this project with Paul Kolderie and his homeboys Adam Taylor, Alex Hartman, and John Northrop over at Camp Street Studios this year.  Spinning and Shining features a total of 5 songs and will be released August 7th.  More stories,  gifts & prizes to come before then!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Saturday Night Summer Lovefest at the Lizard Lounge :: Brendan Boogie & The Best Intentions

I think I'll probably always remember when Brendan Boogie - in pink shirt and showtime grin - handed me The Sweet and The Brutal and said, "Here, I'm really proud of this."  That got me.  It impressed me.  Something so simple as stating pride in his work as he gifted me with it was inspiring to me.  It reminded me of all the best teachers I've ever had (Brendan, do you have teachers for parents?) who urged us always only to do work to which we would feel good signing our names.  Those voices have returned to me as I've embarked on this music voyage of mine, so as soon as Brendan said that, I was reminded: that's what I want.  I want to hand over my work knowing I've put myself into it.  I want to say, "Here, I'm really proud of this."

Of course, the dude's got reason to be proud.  Let's forget everything we already know about Brendan Boogie the man (self-proclaimed "benevolent dictator" behind the hugely successful Cover-Up series, anti-perfectionist, super sweetheart) for just a moment, 'cause it turns out he also actually MAKES music!

I have to say I'm in love with a bunch of the tunes on this release.  They are the best of pop and rock, they are catchy, they are sweet and they are, well...brutal.  (So, y'know, he's good with words, too.)  But there's something about the juxtaposition of sweet and brutal in these tracks that is just so quintessentially Brendan.  I don't care what he says in those rants against perfectionism, there is a perfect rightness to these songs.  You can find him in them.

I'm describing this too philosophically/literarily now, aren't I?

Luckily I don't need words at all: just listen yourself!  This is my favorite for today anyway, because I love the strings and I love that it's NOT February anymore (tra la la!) and again it's just a perfect example of heartache that pops.  Oh, and did I mention this baby (the whole album) was recorded & produced by none other than The Luxury's frontman Jason Dunn?  Talk about a coupla sweeties badasses!

<a href="">February by Brendan Boogie &amp; the Best Intentions</a>

As for his upcoming performance (this Saturday, June 19th at the Lizard Lounge. ADVANCE TIX HERE!) - expect sparks to fly, tears to fall, and drinks to spill.  Expect passion.  Expect to rock.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Saturday Night Summer Lovefest at the Lizard Lounge :: Glenn Yoder

Does the life I want even exist?
Did I leave it back behind me?
Was I closer to it then?

Oh, Glenn.  You and I should have a beer on Saturday night.  Or maybe bourbon is more up your alley?  You name it.  I have to tell you that I dig Okono Road the record (released in January 2009), and your lyrics from the title track are enough to make a person daydream of hitchhiking right outta this town - even if (I suspect) a person weren't already predisposed to that particular daydream.  Maybe we can compare notes.

I've seen you play (as has any true lover of local music) in the Cassavettes, but after giving your solo tunes a good enough listen to feel a wheat-gold breeze lifting my hair, to recall all my heartbreak and longing for home, and to confirm that you've indeed earned your comparisons to all our Americana heroes; suffice it to say I am really looking forward to your set on Saturday.

Eavesdroppers:  that's this Saturday, June 19th at the Lizard Lounge. (ADVANCE TIX HERE!)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Saturday Night Summer Lovefest at the Lizard Lounge :: The Doctors Fox

Okay, "Saturday Night Summer Lovefest" is not really the official or even unofficial title for the show This Blue Heaven is playing this Saturday, June 19th at the Lizard Lounge. (ADVANCE TIX HERE!) It's just my slick description of what this show will be for me - and what I hope you'll let it be for you, too!

As far as I can tell, my friend (& yours!) Brendan Boogie has put together the quintessential summer bill, so this week on the blog I'm going to take a break from my regularly scheduled introspective existential mood swings and turn my attention instead to spreading some love for this show.  I'll be highlighting each of the bands & my favorite of their songs - so please check back each day for new reasons to join us in music-love to summon summer temperatures back to New England this weekend!  (I gotta get to the beach on Sunday, kids!)  Also be sure to check out the Nate vs. Nate competition happening all week on Brendan's blog.

So! After a little listening & reading research, I am super excited to see (let alone share a bill with) The Doctors Fox!  They're fun, they're quirky, they're righteous, they're grammar-conscious... if they say "bless you" when I sneeze, they'll have successfully met all my life-mate requirements!

The Doctors Fox describe themselves as a metaphoric burrito of rock, jazz, bluegrass, klezmer, reggae, funk, bossa nova, and do-wop. We choose a burrito metaphor, as opposed to the more traditional "Melting-Pot", because unlike a melting pot, in which each ingredient melds together to make an indistinguishable new flavor, within the burrito, each flavor maintains its integrity, while also contributing to the collective flavor of each bite.  Mmmm... burrito.  And The Doctors Fox build it right, with the ingredients distributed in each bite, instead of stacked totem-pole style, 'cause there's nothing worse than sinking your teeth into a mouthful of sour cream.  Metaphorically speaking.  Um.

Anyways, The Doctors Fox's 2009 release Plural Non-Possessive boasts spicy, hip-shaking tunes with titles like "Autobiography of a Beached Whale" and "Fourth of July," so you KNOW it'll be a perfect summer addition to your iPod (just now got my new one in the mail! yay!) and a rousing component of Saturday night's show!  

As an avowed heliolater, my favorite from this collection has to be "Ode to Sun" (listen here, purchase here).  This is a five minute sun dance replete with rapscallious fiddle, sexy hand claps, groovy basslines, complex rhythms and even some bah-dah-bah vox that combine to coax the sun back to its rightful place in the sky.  I sure hope they play it on Saturday.  Did I mention I'm planning a beach day Sunday?

You can find The Doctors Fox on:
& everywhere music is sold online

Friday, June 11, 2010


Yesterday was one of those days I just felt defeated.  I rushed around - er, virtually speaking - trying to do all my band work for the month within a couple of hours.  Y'know, shooting off emails about booking and line-ups and collaborations and promo.  Generating and discussing ideas for CD artwork and release show festivities.  Tweeting and posting events and getting very tripped up by Facebook... twice!  Around mid-afternoon, I waved the white flag at the daunting fleet of social networking sites, technology in general and, really, The Rules Of The World at large.  Then, stuck in my slump, I stayed several hours late at the office to try to make up for the lost time...but ultimately ended up watching some nerdy TV online.

When I finally dragged myself out of the building, it was nearly sunset.  While I'd been sitting behind a glaring screen in a windowless beige office all day, it had been raining outside in the world.  But now all was still.  Droplets jeweled the yellow lilies just outside the door and I slowed to admire them, internally grumbling, "Pretty... but they're just city flowers." Landscaped, you know...put there by the Institute to offset the rampant squareness of the architecture.  As I set out on my walk, though, the cement was painted with patches of sky all around and I began to really see the silence everywhere.  The puddles were unrippled, the trees were unfluttered as if every leaf were reverently saving every drop of rain offered it.  And against the luminous gray clouds shifting overhead, it was all so, so green.

So I walked and I looked and I wrapped my sweater a bit tighter around me and I suddenly felt an overwhelming rush of gratitude.  True gratitude, and it struck me how it felt different from when I consciously remind myself to list all the things I ought to be grateful for.  I just - was.  I just was graced.  By the world around me.  By the people I love.  By the incredible fortune of being able to make music that might, once in awhile, make people feel something true.  By the sweep of my imagination.  Even by the stability of my day job that allows me many luxuries, including the dream of a more fulfilling career.

And my mind then returned to rooting through the trove of ideas for novels and stories and poems and lyrics that I keep squirreling away for When I Have Time.  And that led me back to the dreaded technology I've come to depend on, specifically the laptop I have been fretting over buying for months now.  Since I have only had my work computer in the office and a VERY old and temperamental laptop (also from work), my computer time has effectively been limited to sitting at work in the aforementioned windowless beige office.  But no more!  I am breaking free the shackles and investing in my writing life!  I JUST today clicked on "Place Order" for a Macbook Pro!!!  I'll be able to write in coffee shops again!   I'll be able to write in the middle of the night!  Hell, maybe I'll even go back to the old days of drunken blogging!  Ha!  Cheers!  And in the meantime, I'm going to take a cue from the trees and carefully absorb this grace.  I  just am incredibly fortunate.

P.S. And here's wishing you a VERY HAPPY PRIDE!  Pride, which was actually invented so that lesbians could run into their exes.  But don't worry, I'll most likely be doing laundry, going to some awesome shows, and re-working my schedule to make time for all those worlds of words I am going to start writing.  By God.  But I hope you all go out bedecked in sparkling rainbows, marching and cheering and swilling and swooning with the best of 'em.  Oh, and don't miss MEandJOANCOLLINS & Mrs Danvers after the parade on Saturday!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

To see and by seeing create majesty

I admit it.  I talk to trees.  Don't knock it - today's a great day to try it.

There's a perfect wind for the amplification of treespeak.

Happy lovely day.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Life purpose

So, I've turned another year older recently and in a moment of existential concern, shall we say, I googled "life purpose" and came upon and eventually tried this.  In short, I sat down and guessed at my life's purpose until tears rolled down my face.

If you are inclined to do such a thing yourself (are we friends and if not, can we be?) I offer this addendum to his instructions:  Twenty minutes, my left pinky toe.  Give yourself a good hour or more.  I feel I am pretty open to this kind of thing and more emotionally aware than average and that's about how long it took me.  Granted, I took more time with word choice than others might (or should).

Another tip that would have saved me some time (which may or may not be applicable for you) was that none of the guesses that described my effect on others was right.  It couldn't be about something that was beyond my agency, so I eventually figured out I had to focus on what I could do or offer - not on how that would be received or change anything.

Otherwise, my experience was similar to the description.  A few guesses got a swell of emotion or even a brief sting of tears - and those I starred and eventually incorporated into the final answer.  I thought I had it around guess #80, but then when that didn't make me cry, I ran right into that wall of exasperation, which I powered through simply by making silly guesses in new directions.  Then out of the blue, I struck on what became the opening bit of My Purpose In Life, added it to #80, and down came the tears.  My final guess was #92.

I can't believe I'm going to tell you this.  But, well, in case I don't live to live out this purpose, I want it recorded for posterity.  So here it is in all its wordy (but how could my life's purpose be anything but?) glory:

In the face of an unfathomable universe, in which we are all constantly beckoned by our loneliness and isolation, my purpose in this life is to honor and trust the true yearnings of my wildish* generous heart:  to love with unquestioning joy and celebration; to see and by seeing create majesty and meaning; to nurture the embers burning in all I meet; and - with all the juice of my being and talents - to create artful expressions (to include Great Writings!) that will be my truth in the world.

Easy, eh?  No prob.  Now all I have to do is make sure all of my goals for the rest of my life are aligned with my purpose.


Expect more earnest blogging.  And possibly somehow even MORE lyrics about coming together to make light in a dark, dark world.  :)

*In case you didn't know, "wildish" is a term I like to use that (in my mind, anyway) means "of the wilderness" as opposed to the kind of wild that is maniacal or ferocious.