Tradition, Superstition & Fascination

31 10 2011

Halloween is an annual celebration, but just what is it actually a celebration of? And how did this peculiar custom originate? The origin of Halloween possibly lies in the traditions of the Celtic people.  In celebration of the recently completed harvest, Celts would give offerings of food to the Gods. They often went from door to door to collect food to donate to their deities. Also, young Celts would ask the townspeople for kindling and wood, and take it to top of the hill for the Samhain bonfire. These are two of the possible origins of present day “trick or treating.” The Celts believed that the veil between this world and the next was thinnest at this time of year. Friends and relatives who had died would often return, with their souls inhabiting an animal – often a black cat. Black cats have remained a symbol of Halloween down to the present time. Samhain was a fire festival. Sacred bonfires were lit on the tops of hills in honor of the Gods. The townspeople would take an ember from the bonfire to their home and re-light the fire in their family hearth. The ember would usually be carried in a holder – often a turnip or gourd. They felt nervous about walking home in the dark; they were afraid of evil spirits. So they dressed up in costumes and carved scary faces in their ember holders. They hoped that the spirits would be frightened and not bother them. Today we see people dress in costume for celebration, and we see faces carved in pumpkins for festive decoration.

Halloween was originally called All Hallows’ Eve which means the evening before All Saints’ Day. “Hallow” is an Old English word for “saint”. This was shortened toHallowe’en and finally to Halloween.  All Saints’ Day was created by Pope Boniface IV in the 7th century CE. There were so many saints by this time that there were not enough days in the year to accommodate them. So, All Saints’ Day was to recognize the saints who were without their own day, and to celebrate saints that the Church had failed to recognize.  All Souls’ Day was created for NOV-2 to honor faithful Christians who had died but were not saints. The three days from OCT-31 to NOV-2 was given the name Hallow Tide. This may have been done in order to distract Christians from celebrating Samhain. ( For full definition of Samhain:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samhain . )

The custom of Halloween was brought to America in the 1840’s by Irish immigrants fleeing their country’s potato famine. Halloween has since become a major folk holiday in the US and Canada. “Trick or Treaters” go from door to door and collect candies, apples and other goodies. Hallmark Cards reports that 65% of Americans will decorate their homes and offices for Halloween. This percentage is exceeded only by Christmas. Halloween is the holiday when the most candy is sold; it is second only to Christmas in total sales. North Americans spend over $20 million on Halloween candies yearly. Halloween also is the third-largest party occasion next to Christmas and New Year’s Eve. So, although some cults may have adopted Halloween as their favorite “holiday,” the day itself did not grow out of evil practices. It grew out of the rituals of Celtic celebrations, and out of Medieval prayer rituals of Europeans. After all, the day itself is only as evil as one cares to make it.

Most of us are familiar with common Halloween traditions like trick-or-treating, pumpkin carving, and dressing in costume but there are some ancient traditions I thought might be fun to explore that you may not be familiar with from around the world.

The first one I’d like to mention is one I remember reading about as a child and always wanting to attempt, but being too much of a skeptic or pessimist I’ve yet to try it.  This is the less famous “trick” where a woman is supposed to stand before a mirror at the stroke of midnight and bite into an apple.  The reflection of her future husband was supposed to appear in the mirror or the reflection of a skull, which would signify that she would die an old maid.  In writing this, I saw several versions of this “tradition” but this is the one I remember best from my mother’s tales as a child. Unfortunately, I was unable to find it’s orgin.

Barmback is a custom with Irish roots as well.  Barmback is a type of raisin bread that can be served year round, but on Halloween certain objects are traditionally baked into the bread: a pea, a stick, a coin, some cloth and a ring.  Each object carries significance so if you got a piece of break holding one of these objects, you would know your fortune.  The pea means you will not be getting married in the next year while the ring, of course, means that you would.  The stick signifies an unhappy marriage, the cloth signifies bad finances and the coin signifies wealth is headed your way.

In Whales, families would practice the tradition of Coelcerth. For Coelcerth, a family would build a fire and write their names on stones surrounding the fire.  If they woke in the morning to find that a person’s stone was missing, this meant the person would die in the next year!

Bonfires are very common on Halloween and derived from several traditions worldwide.  One tradition (with European roots) incorporated into the bonfire celebrations that I found interesting is once again used for the ladies to learn who their future husband would be.  The tradition has the ladies cut a lock of their hair and toss it into the fire, and that evening as they slept and their hair burned their future husband was to be revealed to them in their dreams.

Latin Americans commemorate the holiday with a 3-day celebration that begins on October 31.  The celebration is designed to honor the dead whom, they believe, return to their Earthly homes during this period.  Many families construct altars to the dead in their homes to honor deceased relatives and decorate it with candy, flowers, photos and samples of the deceased favorite foods, drinks and water.  Often a wash basin and towel are also left at the altar so the spirit can wash up before indulging in the feast.

Spell to attract a particular lover

You will need:

a lock of his/her hair, a personal belonging of his/hers or a clear photo of their face (though hair works best)

One pink rose,

Ground Vanilla pods

Dried Avocado

Ginger

Jasmine oil

One red or violet candle inscribed with the love Rune 3X’s

A few drops of (your) blood

Red cloth

Red paper

By the light of the candle, grind up the Avocado with the Vanilla pods and the Ginger… when it is a fine powder, add 5 drops of blood, and as you drop each drop say these words: *Note: face the appropriate direction.* ‘Spirit of the South, ancient one of fire and passion, with this drop of blood I call you to bring my lover to me.’ ‘Spirit of the West, ancient one of water and peace ,with this drop of blood I call you to bring my lover to me.’ ‘Spirit of the North, ancient one of earth and fertility, with this drop of blood I call you to bring my lover to me.’ ‘Spirit of the east, ancient one of air and strength, with this drop of blood I call you to bring my lover to me.’ ‘Akasha, the spirit element of all, with this drop of blood I call you to combine the powers called forth, and bind my lover’s spirit to mine.’ ‘So mote it be!’ Using the new paste, draw the love Rune 3X’s (3 times) on the piece of red paper and empower it, wait for it to dry, and then fold the paper in half. Take the rose and smear on any remaining paste. Place the rose in the red cloth and annoint with Jasmine oil. Now, using the red candle set fire to it, and put it in a bowl until it has gone out. Grind up any lumps left in the ash or remove any stubborn bits, then put the ash into the folded paper and put it in an envelope, seal the envelope with a blob of wax from the candle, and get it to the object of your affections however you can.

 

Spell for Luck

You will need:

Ground/fresh cinnamon

Green candle

Pennies (number in the amount of your birthdate, for instance if your birthday is October 31st you will need 31 pennies)

Burn the green candle surrounded by the pennies.  Chant as the candle burns “Let fortuned winds blow my way.  All that’s evil please allay.  All that’s good and all that’s bane give in turn but for my gain.”  Meditate, focusing on the pennies and repeating this chant until you feel the pennies are charged with positive energy.  On the first following Thursday, dispose of the pennies.  If you keep them, the spell will work opposite.  It is best to give the pennies away as a gift, but dispose of them however you can.

 

Well, I was also going to post a spell about revenge but after reading them they were all pretty scary and I started feeling guilty so I decided I’d leave you with just these two and one last one that I made up for you, but I’m pretty sure it will work.

 

Spell for fun on Halloween

You will need:

Your favorite adult beverages

Your favorite things to eat

Your favorite friends

Your favorite Horror movies

Your favorite music

Your house

Mix above ingredients beginning at dusk on Halloween.  Chant throughout the night “Let’s Party”.  Continue process until you run out of supplies.  Have fun & be safe!

 

 

 

 





Are your isms in check?

30 10 2011

Are your isms in check?

Communism is a socioeconomic  structure and political ideology that promotes the establishment of an egalitarian, classless, stateless, society based on common ownership and control of the means of production and property in general.  Karl Marx posited that communism would be the final stage in human society, which would be achieved through a proletarian revolution and only becoming possible after a socialist stage develops the productive forces, leading to a superabundance of goods and services.  “Pure communism” in the Marxian sense refers to a classless, stateless and oppression-free society where decisions on what to produce and what policies to pursue are made democratically, allowing every member of society to participate in the decision making process in both the political and the economic spheres of life.  In modern usage, communism is often used to refer to Bolshevism or Marxism-Leninism and the policies of various communist states which had government ownership of all the means of production and centrally planned economies.

Socialism refers to various theories of economic organization advocating public or direct worker ownership and administration of the means of production and allocation of resources, and a society characterized by equal access to resources  for all individuals with a method of compensation based on the amount of labor expended. Most socialists share the view that capitalism unfairly concentrates power and wealth among a small segment of society that controls capital  and derives its wealth through exploration, creates an unequalsociety, does not provide equal opportunities for everyone to maximise their potentialities and does not utilize technology and resources to their maximum potential nor in the interests of the public. Socialism is not a concrete philosophy of fixed doctrine and programme; its branches advocate a degree of social interventionsimand economic rationalization (usually in the form of economic planning), but sometimes oppose each other. A dividing feature of the socialist movement is the split between reformists and revolutionaries  on how a socialist economy should be established. Some socialists advocate complete nationalizationof the means of production, distribution, and exchange; others advocate state control of capital within the framework of a market economy. The first socialists predicted a world improved by harnessing technology and combining it with better social organization, and many contemporary socialists share this belief. Early socialist thinkers tended to favor an authentic meritocracy combined with rational social planning, while many modern socialists have a more egalitarian approach. Valdimir  Lenin, drawing on Karl Marx’s  ideas of “lower” and “upper” stages of socialism, defined “socialism” as a transitional stage between capitalism and communism.

Capitalism is an economic and social system in which capital, the non-labor factors of production, is privately controlled; labor,   goods and capital are traded in markets; and profits  distributed to owners or invested in technologies and industries. There is no consensus on capitalism nor how it should be used as an analytical category. There are a variety of historical cases over which it is applied, varying in time, geography, politics and culture. Economists and historians have taken different perspectives on the analysis of capitalism. Scholars in the social sciences, including historians, economic sociologists, economists, anthropologists and philosophers have debated over how to define capitalism, however there is little controversy that private ownership of the means of production, creation of goods or services for profit in a market, and prices and wages are elements of capitalism. Economists usually put emphasis on the marketmechanism, degree of government control over markets, and property rights, while most political economists emphasize private property, power, relations, wage labor, and class.  The extent to which different markets are “free”, as well as the rules determining what may and may not be private property, is a matter of politics and policy and many states have what are termed “mixed economies”.

Corporatism is related to the sociological concept of structural functionalism. Corporate social interaction is common within related groups.  Corporatism, also known as corporativism, is a system of economic, political, or social organization that views a community as a body.  Formal corporatist models are based upon the contract of corporate groups such as agricultural, business, ethnic, military, scientific, or religious affiliations, into a collective body. One of the most prominent forms of corporatism is economic triparism involving negotiations between business, labour, and state interest groups to set economic policy. In contemporary usage, “corporatism” is often incorrectly used as a pejorative term against the domination of politics by the interests of private business corporations; however, such a system would be more accurately described as a form of corporatocracy. Corporatocracy (or corpocracy) is a form of government where corporations/conglomerates and/or government entities with private components, control the direction and governance of a country. Corporatist views of community and social interaction are common in many major world religions and Corporatism has been utilized by many ideologies across the political spectrum including; absolutism, capitalism, socialism, fascism, social democracy, conservatism and liberalism.  Meanwhile, the concept of corpocracy allows corporations to provide financial support to competing political parties and major political party candidates.  This allows the corporations to hedge their bets on the outcome of an election so that they are assured to have a winner who is indebted to them. As politicians are increasingly dependent on campaign contributions to become elected, their objectiveness on issues which concern corporate interests is compromised.

Realism is based on thoughts/deductions from the exercise of using common logic when studying real situations.  Direct realists might claim that indirect realists are confused about conventional idioms such as indirect perception.  An example of indirect perception is the media.   Optimism is defined as ” having hopefulness and confidence about the future or successful outcome of something; a tendency to take a favorable or hopeful view.” Pessimism is the opposite of optimism and is a state of mind that sees everything in a negative light.  The most common known example of optimism v/s pessimism is the age old question “Is the glass half full or half empty?”  Depending on one’s answer, it was decided if one was pessimistic or optimistic.  Obviously, the one who sees the glass as half full is optimistic while the one who sees it as half empty is pessimistic.  But, what about the one who simply sees 4 oz of liquid in a 8 oz glass? That is a realist! While optomists see things in an positive light and pessimists see things in negative light, the mildly discontented grey area in between in fact reflects the most accurate perception of reality.

“Pigs (3 different ones)” is track 3 on the Animals album, a concept album by Pink Floyd based on the fiction novel Animal Farm by George Orwell which tells the tale of farm animals rebelling against humans to form a social system called “animalism”.  In the preface of a 1947  edition of Animal Farm Orwell explained how escaping the communist purges in Spain taught him “how easily totalitarian propaganda can control the opinion of enlightened people in democratic countries.” In that preface Orwell also described what gave him the idea of setting the book on a farm by stating; “I saw a little boy, perhaps ten years old, driving a huge carthorse along a narrow path, whipping it whenever it tried to turn. It struck me that if only such animals became aware of their strength we should have no power over them, and that men exploit animals in much the same way as the rich exploit the proletariat.”

lyrics to “Pigs (3 different ones)”
Big man, pig man
Ha, ha, charade you are
You well heeled big wheel
Ha, ha, charade you are
And when your hand is on your heart
You’re nearly a good laugh
Almost a joker
With your head down in the pig bin
Saying ‘Keep on digging’
Pig stain on your fat chin
What do you hope to find
Down in the pig mine?
You’re nearly a laugh
You’re nearly a laugh
But you’re really a cry

Bus stop rat bag
Ha, ha, charade you are
You fucked up old hag
Ha, ha, charade you are
You radiate cold shafts of broken glass
You’re nearly a good laugh
Almost worth a quick grin
You like the feel of steel
You’re hot stuff with a hatpin
And good fun with a hand gun
You’re nearly a laugh
You’re nearly a laugh
But you’re really a cry

Hey you, Whitehouse
Ha, ha, charade you are
You house proud town mouse
Ha, ha, charade you are
You’re trying to keep our feelings off the street
You’re nearly a real treat
All tight lips and cold feet
And do you feel abused?
You got to stem the evil tide
And keep it all on the inside
Mary you’re nearly a treat
Mary you’re nearly a treat
But you’re really a cry





Video killed the radio star

1 08 2011

On August 1, 1981 Music Television (cable network) launched with John Lack’s announcement “Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll” followed by the famous theme song (a hard rockin’ guitar riff by Jonathan Elias and John Peterson) and equally famous scene of the Apollo 11</a> moon landing boasting astronaut (Neil Armstrong) pushing an American flag into the moon below his feet, of course for the hip theme it was an MTV flag.

It was the beginning of a new era in music.  VJ’s (video jockeys) were the answer to radio’s DJ’s (disc jockeys).  Five young, unique, fresh faces were hired to fill these shoes.  A different world than what the radio generation was used to.  The original VJ’s were; Martha Quinn – your cute and spunky punk rock girl, Alan Hunter –  the clean cut, hip blonde male, Mark Goodman – a hunky, suave, dark haired male, with the hot rockin’ blonde Nina Blackwood and J.J. Jackson, the most experienced member of the group, always smiling and probably the most talented host.

The original format offered something new and different to music fans, the music video.  A music video is basically a short film created to accompany a song mainly for the purpose of marketing.  Although music videos were actually in existence prior to the debut of MTV, they were far and few between.  Prior to MTV, these videos were considered promotional videos that artists used to generate interest among producers, record companies and on rare occasions to promote new records to fans.  These promotional videos somewhat paled in comparison to what followed after the birth of MTV and were rarely shown on television.  Videos on MTV required much more than a simple live act, they needed to be a short film that would cultivate more interest among fans.  For this, a wide range of styles in filming technique had to be exercised including animation, live action film, and basically storytelling within abstract films.  This heightened the competition in the music industry because not only did your music have to sell itself, but you’d best have a good video to back it up.  In fact, often the popularity of the video outshined the music itself but still enabled the song to be a best seller.  Because visibility was used as a promotional tool in the record industry, the network was criticized for devaluing the importance of music by replacing quality with pure visual entertainment.  Ironically, the first video to debut on MTV that early August morning was “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles.  It was their only real hit, but rather historical and revealing as the song was written about the end of an era; telling of the golden days of radio ruined by television. (included in video above.)

Since it’s premier, MTV has made an intense and long lasting impact on the music, entertainment and media industries.  Slogans such as “I want my MTV” became etched in the minds of the 80’s pop culture generation and remained throughout.  MTV has also been referenced countless times in song lyrics, movies, books, and shows on other television stations.  One of the best known music references to MTV is  Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing” as the lyrics mock how the working man struggles to survive but the “yo-yos” on MTV “ain’t workin’” and are getting “Money for nothin’ and chicks for free.” Ironically, the video for this song became one of the most popular videos shown on the channel at that time.

The moral influence of MTV on young people has been debated throughout it’s existence. Parents Television Council (an American interest group formed to inform parents of television programming that is both beneficial and harmful to children) claims the network is a bad influence on it’s targeted audience.  The American Family Association (a non-profit organization that promotes conservative Christian values) has also criticized MTV for it’s negative moral influence.  In the 80’s the parent-media watchdog group, Parents Music Resource Center, fought MTV over certain music videos that were claimed to have explicit imagery of Satanism.  On the other side of these debates, the network was also under fire for being too politically correct and censoring too much of their programming.

Against all odds, MTV prevailed and in it’s early days was a catalyst to stardom for a large number of artists in the 80’s such as; Duran Duran, Def Leppard, Madonna, Culture Club, Mötley Crüe, Cydni Lauper, Adam Ant and countless other 80’s icons. MTV also played some famous classic rock acts heavily, placing them on a new plateau of popularity by reaching a wider spectrum such as; David Bowie, Journey, Genisis, Fleetwood Mac, Heart, Van Halen, ZZ Top and many more.

In it’s early years on air, MTV featured very few black artists in rotation.  Many black artist’s videos were rejected because they didn’t fit the rock dominated format at the time. During the uproar of black artists and other supporters of the fight to break the color barrier on MTV, Michael Jackson was among those artists denied airplay on the network.  In an effort to pressure the network to re-think the format, the president of CBS records made a strong statement by threatening to remove the network’s ability to play any videos by artists under the CBS label.  MTV claims they chose to add Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” video without being pressured, while CBS claims otherwise.  Regardless, “Billie Jean” seemed to be the video that broke the color barrier but is also claimed to be the video that brought the network out of struggle and into major popularity.  Jackson’s videos from the multi-platinum “Thriller” album (including “Billie Jean”) were credited for the mega success of MTV, thus causing the network to change the format to add R&B music.  This change also helped other black artists such as Prince and Whitney Houston enter the music revolution.

MTV is credited for turning music videos into both an art form and a marketing machine that became beneficial to artists.  Over time, MTV added several genres to the format and somewhat even created those genres such as alternative rock. Today, however, the general public seems to be disappointed with the ironic lack of music videos played on MTV.  While the original MTV network still broadcasts 24 hours a day, the actual showing of videos has (over time) dwindled to a maximum of only 3 hours per day.  The rest of the air time focuses on a completely different format, currently a large amount of reality shows and news programs about entertainment and politics.  However, today the network owns several sister channels that do broadcast more music videos though all pale in comparison to the original days of Music Television.  And to this, I say … I WANT MY MTV!!!

To see more of the early days of MTV, click here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LATTM7DkvWo
because TOO MUCH IS NEVER ENOUGH!!!

ABOUT THE ARTISTS MENTIONED IN THIS BLOG:

The Buggles:
An English New Wave band with only 2 studio albums and one hit single, “Video Killed the Radio Star”.  Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Buggles

Dire Straits:
British rock band active between 1977-1995 known for hits including “Sultans of Swing”, “Money for Nothing”, “Walk of Life” and “So Far Away”.  This band boasts one of the greatest yet most underrated guitar players in rock history, Mark Knopfler.  They’ve had 6 studio albums, all of which are very good.  Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dire_straits

Duran Duran:
An iconic 80’s new wave band from England who dominated the early days of MTV and were widely known as the “pretty boys of rock”.  They are still very popular today and have released 13 studio albums so far during their career with numerous top 40 hits.  In my opinion, this band represents the epitome of MTV in the 80’s.  Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duran_duran

Def Leppard:
Though their sound is mild by comparison today, Def Leppard was considered a British hard rock band when they crashed the scene on MTV and won the popularity contest with hits like “Photograph”, “Bringing on the Heartbreak”, “Pour Some Sugar on Me”, and “Hysteria”.  Like Duran Duran, this band also has the gift of longevity and is still popular despite their rough history which includes the death of 2 guitar players and a crippling auto accident leaving their drummer with one arm.  They have 11 studio albums and also numerous top 40 hits.  Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Def_Leppard

Madonna:
Perhaps no star from MTV’s golden era knows more about longevity than Madonna.  This All-American 52 year old sex goddess still holds the throne of top rock diva for many reasons.  While her image is ever changing with the times, her music has been and remains hip, happening and chart topping.  She has a remarkable legacy not only in music but in film and entertainment in general.  She also has 11 studio albums and countless top 40 hits.  Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madonna_%28entertainer%29

Culture Club:
The band Culture Club had one of the most controversial front men in music history, Boy George.  Another British new wave band to parade onto MTV and steal the hearts of many viewers, Culture Club had several popular dance hits including “Do Your Really Want to Hurt Me?”, “Time Clock of the Heart”, “Karma Chameleon”, and “Miss Me Blind”.  Though the band is no longer together, the music still remains popular and is featured in many films and documentaries based in the decade of decadence known as the 80’s.  In more recent years, Boy George has made the news in a negative light and has even dealt with criminal charges and remains recluse.  But, in their better days, the band 5 studio albums – 3 of which were big sellers.

Mötley Crüe:
Reminiscent of the glory days of Alice Cooper, the New York Dolls or Kiss this band brought back the theatrics of flashy rock music and they added a sound heavier than most on the market at this time.  Mötley Crüe were the true pioneers of what is labeled today as “hair metal” or “glam rock”, but in the 80’s this was considered a rather hard core sound and scene.  They were one of many up and coming metal bands from the Sunset Strip of L.A., California.  Still widely known and popular, they’ve sold nearly 100 million albums worldwide.  If any metal band has a colorful past it’s these guys.  They’re notorious for  bad behavior, bad reputations and just all around bad-ass-ness! Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C3%B6tley_Cr%C3%BCe

Cyndi Lauper:
Though she wasn’t quite Madonna’s nemesis and the two artists were very different, the uniqueness and charm of Cyndi Lauper made her tough competition … especially since she happens to be incredibly talented as well.  This American icon quickly rose to fame with her aptly titled debut album “She’s So Unusual” that including chart topping hits like “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and “Time after Time”.  She has always been a stand out artist among her peers and still tours for sold out audiences today.  Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyndi_Lauper

Adam Ant:
This British pretty boy’s career originally began with Adam and the Ants and later he went solo as Adam Ant.  A real heart throb for all the ladies during the 80’s, he seemed to bring a steamy sexuality to the small screen with his well known hit videos for “Goody Two Shoes” and “Strip”.  He was once voted the sexiest man in America by the MTV viewing audience.  Unfortunately, similar to Boy George, his almost come-back was shattered with criminal charges for bad behavior that landed him in a psychiatric hospital.  Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam_Ant

David Bowie:
It would be impossible to sum up this brilliant artist in a few sentences and I’m not even going to try! Bowie is best known for his work in the 70’s, but his hit making career spans from the late 60’s to current works.  He has released 24 studio albums, all of which are a must have for any avid music fan.  During MTV’s high point, Bowie released the album “Let’s Dance” which included popular videos for “Modern Love”, “China Girl”, and the title track “Let’s Dance”.  To learn more (and I suggest you do) click here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Bowie

Journey:
Journey boasted one of the most iconic lead vocalists ever to grace rock music, Steve Perry.  Though this All-American rock band debuted in the mid-70’s, the 80’s was their time to shine.  Their catalog of music is a catalog of top 40 hits and I struggle to think of a song they recorded in the 80’s that wasn’t a chart topper … I don’t think it exists.  While they didn’t share the theatrics and style of video making that many of their competitors did during the 80’s, they won audiences over with classic simple videos that displayed their talent lyrically, musically and vocally.  This band is always imitated and never duplicated.  In 1998 Perry left the band with no rumors of a reunion since and, though Journey still tours with numerous replacement singers, without Perry things have never been the same.  Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Journey_%28band%29

Genisis:
Genisis formed in the late 60’s with Peter Gabriel as their lead singer.  And, much like Bowie, it would be hard to sum this band up in a few sentences.  But, in the 80’s they became famous with  Phil Collins as their lead singer as well as drummer.  Though they were considered progressive rock in their earlier days, during the 80’s I think they would be best described as controversial in some ways with their political lyrics and thought provoking music.  However, they were also know for some meaningful love songs.  Collins brought them into the mainstream and to the peak of their popularity, but left the band for an equally popular solo career in the mid 80’s which kept him as a familiar face on MTV.  Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genisis_%28band%29

Fleetwood Mac:
Like Genisis or Bowie, attempting to summarize the history of Fleetwood Mac is nearly impossible.  This was, however more of a 70’s band than 80’s though MTV did help keep their career in tact with a few hits like “Little Lies” and “Big Love”.  The band seemed to have a revolving door with members and their romances which included Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham who seemed to be more popular in the days of MTV with their solo works.  But, never the less, Fleetwood Mac is historically one of the best known bands in rock history with top selling albums and singles decade after decade and are touring today with all of the original band members… well, the 2nd wave original band members anyway.  Yeah, there’s no way to sum this history up so just learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fleetwood_Mac

Heart:
This great band went through 2 major phases of popularity, or you could say it didn’t end.  In the 70’s they were a pleasant surprise or alternative to mainstream rock music because they were a sister power duo with the phenomenal lead vocals of Ann Wilson and the sultry lead guitar of Nancy Wilson.  In the 80’s they gained popularity on MTV with power ballads and videos showcasing their sex appeal such as “What about Love”, “These Dreams”, “Alone”, and “Nothing at All”.  But, most people will remember their iconic hits from the 70’s like “Barracuda”, “Magic Man”, and “Crazy on You”.  However, nobody was complaining about being able to see this vixens in video! They’re still popular and still touring… and their still kicking ass, take it from me cause I just saw them live a couple of months ago and was left feeling satisfied yet longing for more! Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heart_%28band%29

Van Halen:
I have to laugh because probably the main reason I can’t sum up this band in just a few sentences is because they are unequivically one of my all time favorite bands.  My opinions would be biased here and perhaps unfair to the reader… but here goes…
Van Halen has had 3 lead singers over the last 3 decades, but in my opinion only one that matters … the iconic and unmatched David Lee Roth (who recently reunited with the band and they are touring and doing a fantastic job!).  So, I have to warn you that I will  only be referring to the David Lee Roth era (even thought he Sammy Hagar era was very popular as well).  Van Halen burst into rock music fame in the late 70’s with their multi platinum self titled album that included the unforgettable hits “Running with the Devil” and “You Really Got Me”.   Now, I could comb over their entire history in fine detail here, but I’ll just cover the 80’s MTV era of popularity for Van Halen which is the height of their career.
“1984” was the album of the 80’s.  Everybody who’s anybody had that album! While this album brought the band ultimate success with chart topping hits such as “Hot for Teacher”, “Panama”, “I’ll Wait” and “Jump” it also brought the demise of the David Lee Roth era as egos began to outshine the talent and caused band members, namely David and namesake/lead guitarist Eddie Van Halen to butt heads until David left to persue a solo career which also brought him much fame in the 80’s/MTV era. Anyway, you can learn more from me personally (lol) or click here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Van_Halen

ZZ Top:
Was well known for their classic videos of the 80’s, even though they were a very popular 70’s band.  ZZ Top videos told a story, and because they were so downright cool the songs behind them became wildly popular such as “Legs”, “Sharp Dressed Man” and “Gimmie All Your Lovin”.  This Texas Based Southern Rock band has a bluesy rock sound backed by legendary musicians Billy Gibbens, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard.  Though MTV may have given this band commercial success, ZZ Top had been a success for many years before and has remained a success to this day.  Unfortunately, time has not been kind to the band and even though they still have music in their hearts Billy Gibbens’ health issues has crippled touring and any new projects.  Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zz_top

Michael Jackson:
In all seriousness, I’m sure I haven’t had to define who any of these artists are in this blog but at the very least I know I don’t have to explain Michael Jackson.  He is, after all, “The King of Pop” and one of the most well known artists in the history of music… ever… only to compete with Elvis Presley or the Beatles, but in all seriousness… probably more known.  I have to say I feel it would be a waste of my time to try to summarize his career or life at all in this blog or anywhere else.  There are countless movies, documentaries, news articles and so fourth about him and he is particularly in the current news as the world mourns the anniversary of this death one year ago this week.  I doubt I even need to offer you a link to learn more about him, but here it is anyway: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Jackson

Prince:
In my opinion, no truer an artist (musically) by definition than this man.  He can and will do anything… anything… and do it amazingly well.  He writes, composes, plays every instrument, acts, and just downright shines at everything he even attempts! He spews sex appeal, emotion and passion in all of his works.  He’s controversial, political, and phenomenal at all times.  His career began in the 70’s and was an underground success that overtook the 80’s with steamy videos and unforgettable movies of his own as well as his work with other artists (song writing, record producing…etc…).  A real genius in my opinion and yet another artist I couldn’t possibly summarize.  Prince manipulates multiple genres of music including rock and R&B (an incredible feat).  Some of his more notable MTV era hits are “1999”, “Little Red Corvette”, “Purple Rain” and “When Doves Cry”.  But, really, summarizing Prince just does him and you a real injustice so please, learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince_%28musician%29

Whitney Houston:
Actress, model and notable performer, Whitney Houston had a million dollar act the moment she danced onto the small screen with her first hit “How Will I Know”.  America fell in love with this knock out vocalist who had all the elements missing from the 80’s female R&B scene.  Once MTV got a hold of her, there was no turning back on one of the most notable careers any female artist could ever hope for.  She seemed to be a hit making machine and as her career grew she also dominated the big screen.  Recognized as one of the best known divas in music history, Whitney became a multi-millionaire almost overnight with hit after hit, but behind the scenes she led a very troubled life that would end up crippling her career and today she struggles to make a comeback.  However, she still has the talent so I suspect that once she gets her act together she can have a very strong return to the industry.  Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whitney_Houston

Who do you remember most from the MTV era? Did you love it or hate it? What are your thoughts on this topic? What do you think of MTV today?

Share your thoughts & comments.  You don’t have to be a member of this website to leave a comment! Subscribe if you like by clicking the button on the right.  Thanks 🙂





karma in a brown paper bag

4 07 2011

I blog here & on myspace as many folks know.  I told myself I would use this new blog location for fun blogs, fiction, funny stories and such and try not to get political here or write my editorials here like I do over there.  Of course, recently, with this disasterous oil volcano spewing into the Gulf of Mexico I couldn’t help but write about it here, there and everywhere in an attempt to spread the word.  But, in these dark days even though I know it is important to spread the word I also know that sometimes we need a good laugh.  I certainly know I do because lately this situation has put my in a somewhat depressive state and I need a little escape.  That being said, most of my readers know I love to post funny stories from my past that usually poke fun at moi but are always good for a laugh.  This one is no exception, so please enjoy a tale that I call…

Karma in a brown paper bag

TJ & I were walking home from school one day in the fall of ‘87.  It was about a 3 mile walk for us and we lived a street apart.  We weren’t the best or worst of friends, just 2 kids who lived near each other and would sometimes walk together.  We were both sophomores, had a couple of classes together, no big deal.

All the cool kids were passing us by in their cars, playing loud music and being cooler than us.  We would shrug our shoulders and keep on truckin’.  Just another day in the life of the underclassmen (or women in my case).

For some weird reason, a brown paper bag in the ditch caught my eye.
“I wonder what’s in it?” I pointed it out to TJ.
“Who cares?” He replied.
But something drove me to it.  I don’t know why, but I just had to look inside.  Annoyed, TJ waited for me to check the bag.
“Holy shit!” I gasped when I looked inside.
“What is it?” Suddenly he was interested.
“You won’t believe it!” I exclaimed as he joined me to peer into the bag.
“Hooooollllllllly shit!” He smiled wide. “Hurry up, let’s get outta here!”

We quickly stuffed our treasure into his book bag and rushed to his house, beaming!

Fortunately, TJ was a latch-key-kid … for those of you who remember that old 80’s term.  A kid who’s parents were still at work when he’d get home from school.  So, there we sat, just the two of us, at his kitchen table … pouring the contents of the brown paper bag onto the table.

“Unbelievable!” He gasped.
There sat before us, a gallon sized ziplock bag stuffed with marijuana, rolling papers, 2 cassettes and a scale.  I jumped for the cassettes, one was Ratt’s “Invasion of your Privacy” and the other was AC/DC’s “Back in Black”. 
“Cool!” I exclaimed.  “I’ll take the Ratt!”
“That’s good, I wanted the AC/DC,” He said.  “But, what are we gonna do with the rest of it?”
“Let’s split it up!” I said, logically.
“And then?” He asked.
“And then we do whatever we want with it,” I said.  “But we don’t tell anyone where we found it.”

Yeah, I you had to think someone was looking for that shit! I mean, that was a hellova lot of pot, right???

“All right,” TJ said.  “Deal!”
So, we shook on it and began splitting it up.

Now, at this stage in our lives … TJ and I were not all that familiar with pot.  I mean, sure, as you know from my previously mentioned blog I’d tried it a lil’ bit … but I wasn’t the type of person who needed at least a half a’ pound of marijuana on hand, so there was no way I was interested in keeping my half.  I saw it as a career opportunity … but it was far more than that …

Nothing brings popularity faster than being the gal with all the killer weed.
Suddenly, hot senior boys were carrying my books to class for me, sitting with me at lunch and being my friends.  Yep, that’s right, dorky little Susan was suddenly the most popular chick in school … if only till it was sold out … at least, for a moment, everyone was abuzz about my fame among the famous.

So there I was, high rolling in the dough and being doted on by hot senior dudes … ahh, it was the life … at least for a couple of months anyway.

But, alas, in the end … all that was left was a Ratt tape and a few bucks once the well ran dry.  I still have no idea what TJ did with his half.  I still have no idea who was probably looking for that great, lost bag of weed, but I did often wonder … would they ever get back at me if they found out I sold all their goods and was rocking out to their Ratt? Hmmmm…

So, there we were, about one year later … my good friend Sherrie and I, once again walking home from school along the same ol’ path that TJ and I walked.  She knew the infamous story about the brown paper bag and the glory days it brought to me, so when we stumbled upon yet another brown paper bag in a ditch yet again she encouraged me to check it out.  It didn’t take much encouragement as I had been so lucky in the past, I couldn’t resist wondering if lightening would truly strike twice.

As I eagerly and hopefully opened the back, she watched to make sure no one was spying.
“Ahhhhhhh!” I screamed and quickly threw the bag down and began to run.
She ran with me.
“My God!” She exclaimed.  “What the hell was in the bag??”
“It was a dead half rat!” I explained.
She stopped cold in her tracks. “Do what?”
“A dead half rat,” I said.  “A rat, bloody and cut in half.”
“Bullshit!” She argued.  “Who the hell would cut a rat in half and throw it in a bag on side of the road?”
“I have no idea!” I said.  “But it was the rear end, all bloody and with his tail and stuff… it was awful!”
“That doesn’t make sense!” She argued …

And we argued for about a half a mile when finally we bet on it and we had to turn around so she could see for herself.
“You’re going to be sorry,” I warned her as she opened the bag.
I closed my eyes, waiting for her shrill …
waiting…
waiting…
And suddenly, she burst into wild laughter.
I opened my eyes and peered over at her as tears rolled down her cheeks.
“A dead half rat, huh?” she choked between laughs.
“You think it’s funny?!?” I was stunned.
“It’s a used tampon, you dumb ass!” She replied … and continued to laugh all the way home…

And so there it was … my karma in a brown paper bag.  I guess lightening doesn’t strike twice, but the first strike was good while it lasted and the dead half rat became equally as famous around the school as I was picked on for ages about that little discovery.

Weird and interesting facts for your amusement

The current street value of what I found is estimated at around $800, back then it was probably valued at half that price.  Want to know the current street value of marijuana in your state? Visit http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Street_price_of_weed

The ancient Egyptians invented the first disposable tampons made from softened papyrus. The ancient Greeks created tampons made from lint wrapped around a small piece of wood, recorded in writing by Hippocrates in the fifth century B.C. (Ouch!!) Want to test your tampon knowledge? Visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tampon

Paper bags are eco-friendly, easy to recycle, and have many uses.

Want to make a piniata like this one? This pinata is made using a paper bag, tissue paper, glue, and a few other supplies you might already have laying around your house.  All you need to make this is; candy, small toys or whatever you want to stuff it with (even $800 worth of weed will work if you’re having that kinda party!), newspaper, colored tissue paper, string or yarn, glue, scissors and a hole puncher.  (See, I bet you already have all that lying around the house, don’t you?) Start out by opening your bag and setting it on your work surface. Put the candy and/or small toys into the bag. You do not want your bag to be more than half way full or it will be too heavy to hang! Now, fill the rest of the bag, stopping about 2-inches from the top, using scrunched up newspaper. Once you have your pinata filled, pinch the top of the bag together and roll it down 2 or 3 times. Staple it shut. Cover the bottom of your filled paper bag with a piece of tissue paper. Set your bag on a piece of tissue paper and cut the tissue paper so it is about 2-inches larger than the bottom of the paper bag all the way around. Glue the edges of the tissue paper up around the bottom of the paper bag. Handle the corners as if you’re wrapping a present. Now cut several strips of tissue paper long enough to completely fit around your bag and about 4- 6-inches wide depending on size of bag. You will need about 5 strips (this may vary by bag size). Use your scissors to cut fringe along a long edge of all of your tissue paper strips. The fringe should go about half way up your tissue paper strip. The fringe should be cut about 1-inch apart. Start near the bottom of the bag, just above the piece of tissue paper you glued onto the bottom of the bag, and place a bead of glue around the bag. Stick your first piece of fringed tissue paper, fringed edge down, onto the glue. This should hang over the bottom tissue paper and slightly overhang the bottom edge of the bag. Stick another strip onto the bag, hanging about halfway over the first strip. Continue this until your entire bag is covered by fringed tissue paper. Punch two holes along the top, folded edge of the paper bag. Cut a piece of yarn or string a few yeards long. Thread one end of the piece of yarn or string through one hole, pull it across the top edge of the bag, and then back through the other hole. Tie it using a few overhand knots so it will not come apart when you hang it. Cut several strips of tissue paper, about 1-inch thick and 6-inches long. Glue them to the bottom of the pinata. Voila! You’ve got a homemade pinata! For more crafty ideas using paper bags, visit http://familycrafts.about.com/od/paperbagcrafts/tp/PaperBagCrafts.htm





Dazed and Confused

9 05 2011

It was spring 1987, I was a sophmore in high school.  He was a junior, Italian, tough … the silent type.  His big brother Eddy was a senior, a hunk, and my best friend’s boyfriend.   I’d had a crush on Phil for over a year, and desperately tried to get his attention in the smoking circle for a couple semesters to no avail.  He didn’t speak much or show interest in anyone.  I thought it was because he was too cool for anyone at that stupid school.  I didn’t blame him, even though I wished he’d give me a chance.  Eddy was insistent on getting his little bro out of his shell, he wanted him to start dating, having sex and be a man like he was.  Phil wasn’t taking the bait, so it seemed.  Personally, I was thrilled by it because I knew he would’ve ended up with someone other than me anyway.  I liked that he didn’t talk to anyone and I could just stare at him, alone smoking his cigs with one leg propped against a tree looking like an Italian James Dean.  I was a social butterfly, but more like a dorky kid sister.  Even though I was the same age as the other girls hanging in the smoking circle, I looked like a junior high kid hanging out with the older crowd.  I never really smoked or anything, I just hung out for the heated discussions about rock and roll and to fetch things for the cool kids when they asked.  But they liked me, or so I thought … nah, they liked me.

One night Suzy called me up with great excitement in her voice.
“Eddy says Phil’s coming out with us tonight and we’re going on a double date!” She exclaimed.
“With who?” I asked, thinking how unexcited I was about the aspect of Phil going out with another girl and the four of them having a good time while I’m at home bored.
“With you, stupid!” Suzy laughed.  “We’re going on a double date with the Dimaggio brothers!”
“What? Really? Me?” I was in shock.  “Phil asked for me?!?”
“Well, sort of,” she stammered.  “I mean, Eddy arranged it, but yeah.”
“Does he even know who I am?” I asked, thinking that if he did he probably wouldn’t have agreed.
“Um, well, sort of,” again she stammered.  “But, I mean… isn’t this what you’ve been waiting for? Now’s your chance!”
“Yeah, that’s cool,” I agreed.
Sure, I would’ve liked that it was all Phil’s idea and that he had some secret crush on me like I had for him, but I decided I’d take what I could get.

Later that evening, the phone rang again.
“Susan, telephone!” Mom called out from the kitchen, where the only phone we owned was kept.  “It’s a young man named Philip Dimaggio.” She stared over her glasses down her nose at me.
I tried to stay cool in front of her.  “We’re in school together,” I said.
“Uh, huh,” she nodded sternly and handed me the phone.  Staying close by, pretending to be busy in the kitchen.
“Hullo,” I tried to keep cool.
“Susan?” He said in a rough, sexy, Italian teen boy voice I’d never before heard.
“Yes,” I choked out.
“It’s Phil Dimaggio,” he said.  “I hear we’re going out tomorrow night with my brother and you’re friend.”
“Uh, huh,” I agreed.
“So, I just wanted to know a little about you first,” he said sternly.  “Do you like Led Zeppelin?”
“Yes, very much,” I lied.  My older sister, whom I shared a room with, loved Led Zeppelin … me, not so much but I lied as it seemed necessary.
“You smoke?” He continued.
“Yeah, I’ve seen you in the circle,” I replied.
“No, I mean do you smoke?” He repeated the question, emphasizing the smoke.
“Oh!” I understood.  “Yeah.” I lied.
“Ok, cool,” He said.  “I’ll bring the smoke, you bring all your Zeppelin.”
My mind quickly races through my sisters cassette collection and I know I can pull this off.
“Ok,” I agreed.

Dressed in our 80’s best, Suzy and I were ready for our big date with the Dimaggio brothers.  Suzy had been dating Eddy for a while.  They’d already been to third base … something I knew nothing about.  I had a purse full of Led Zeppelin cassettes. We were anxiously awaiting the big night.  Eddy drove up in his Ford truck, and we had some tricky seating arrangements as Suzy had to sit beside Eddy and I had to sit on Phil’s lap.  Me, with my big hair smashing against the ceiling in my little mini skirt.  It was awkward.  He smelled like cheap cologne, yet somehow I was turned on.  Though I’m sure my bony ass and the scent of Aqua Net was doing nothing for him as Eddy drove down a darkened, bumpy trail to the infamous oak tree.  The oak tree was tucked away off the beach in a slightly wooded area. It was where rebellious teens went to make out, drink alcohol, smoke pot and generally be rebellious.  It had been a hot spot for years as I remember my older sisters and their friends telling stories of hanging out by the oak tree.  This would be my first time to visit and I really felt like I was going places.  In a truck, with two hot Italian studs, parking under the infamous oak tree … yep, I was really going places.

We settled in, all seated in the back of the truck with an ice chest full of Miller ponies between us, jamming to WRNO “The Rock of New Orleans” F.M.  Classic rock bellowing up into the stars, and those cold brews I had never before tasted seemed to take the edge off and go down smoothly.  Ice cold Miller ponies are the perfect way to break into beer drinking.  They were delicious.  I was choking on cigarettes as I tried to pretend I was a smoker.  Yep, I thought as I looked up into the starry sky, you’re really going places.  However, the only place I was going was backwards falling from the edge of the truck to the ground.  I guess those cold brews are serious business when it comes to losing your balance while star gazing.  Though I was rather embarrassed, it was a really touching moment for me when Phil quickly sprang from the edge of the truck to aid me in getting up and briefly I was in his arms as he helped me stand.  Honestly I wasn’t as loaded from the beer as I was the entire situation.  High on life, I guess you could say.  Feeling like this was the pinnacle of coolness for me, and hoping that I didn’t just blow it by star gazing too hard from the edge of an old Ford.

After a good laugh from Eddy and Suzy, they decided to go for a walk into the woods for a bit of privacy.  Before their exit, Eddy took his little brother aside and put his arm around him to whisper some brotherly advice in his ear as I pretended not to watch while trying to eavsdrop.
“I think Phil’s going to try to get to third base with you tonight,” Suzy said excitedly.
I was a little nervous.  I’d never really been to third base and I was dizzy from beer and landing on a giant oak tree root.  I wasn’t really ready for all this action, but I wasn’t about to back down because I was at the pinnacle of coolness for me … or so I thought.

“So,” Phil broke the very long moment of silence between us once we were alone.  “Did you bring that Zeppelin?”
“Oh yeah!” Finally I could get something right! “It’s in my purse!”
“Why don’t we sit in the truck, catch a buzz and jam out to some then?” He suggested.
“Great Idea!” I was probably too enthusiastic, but the thought of sitting inside the truck listening to the stereo sounded a lot less dangerous than anything else at this point.  Plus, I was the keeper of the Led Zeppelin cassettes, so my cool points surely had to be rising.

As we eased onto the bench seat of that old Ford, Phil pulled a joint from his shirt pocket, popped in the “Physical Graffiti” cassette and pushed play.  The lighter flame kissed the end of his perfectly rolled joint and a sweet and unfamiliar aroma filled the air just as “Houses of the Holy” began to play.  I watched him intently, how he inhaled, his every action.  He passed it to me, and I mimicked his actions perfectly.  Inhaling, wheezing a bit but not exhaling, then after a moment or two very slowly exhaling.  It was quite a process.  After a few times, I got it.  Yep, I was really going places … I was really cool now.

We leaned back, my head somehow landed on his shoulder and for a moment we were like a couple.  I felt relaxed and dazed as I began to soak up the moment like a sponge.  Once “Kashmir” bellowed through the speakers and out into the perfect night, I was hooked.  It was something far better than third base, something far better than hooking up, it was Led Zeppelin.  It was my new favorite thing and a very defining moment for me, and to this day “Physical Graffiti” is still my favorite album.  At the time, I tried to maintain my overpowering joy at this magnificent new sound that was just unveiled to me as I was supposed to already be a fan and I had to control my passions for Led Zeppelin and pretend I was just in it all for the date.  But there was no pretending, as he was just as passionate about it as me and what was supposed to be a cheap sexual virginity losing experience set up for both of us turned out to be a really rewarding music lesson … among other lessons … and a night that changed me forever.

Was it the pinnacle of coolness? Yeah, I’d say so.  Did we get to third base? Nah, I think we both got something cooler out of it than that.

My love for Led Zeppelin grew leaps and bounds continuously over the years that followed. Though nothing ever grew romantically between Phil and I after that night, we did remain good friends throughout our late blooming years and continued to enjoy Led Zeppelin together for many other smoky, starry, dazed and confused nights under the infamous Oak Tree.

Led Zeppelin was born in1968 by Jimmy Page (guitar), Robert Plant (vocals, harmonica), John Paul Jones (bass guitar, keyboards, mandolin), and John Bonham (drums). With their heavy, guitar-driven sound, Led Zeppelin are considered one of the progenitors of  heavy metal/hard rock music.  However, Led Zeppelin’s unique style drew from many sources and transcends all genres still today as well as remaining one of the most influential bands in the history of music.  Even 30 years after disbanding (following Bonham’s death in 1980) Led Zeppelin continues to be held in high regard for their artistic achievements, commercial success, and broad influence. Having sold over 200 million albums worldwide, the band is known to be one of the best selling music artists of all time.They have had all of their original studio albums reach the top 10 of the Billboard album chart in the US, with six reaching the number one spot.Led Zeppelin are ranked #1 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock.  Rolling Stone magazine has described Led Zeppelin as “the heaviest band of all time”, “the biggest band of the ’70s” and “unquestionably one of the most enduring bands in rock history”.Similarly, when inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame they were described as being as “influential in the 70’s as The Beatles were in the 60’s”. Led Zeppelin’s popularity in the early years was dwarfed by their triumphant mid-seventies successes and it is this period that continues to define the band.  At this point in their career, the band was considered the world’s #1 rock attraction.  All of their albums released from their inception through their super stardom remained in Billboard’s top sales.  After a decade of being on top of their game while also facing many trials and tribulations, as they set fourth toward a new tour, John Bonham died from asphyxiation stemming from drinking too much vodka and choking on his own vomit.  It was a sad waste and a sad day in music history.  On October 10, 1980, Bonham was laid to rest and two months later the band announced they would no longer continue as Led Zeppelin due to the “deep sense of undivided harmony” in the wake of their “dear friend”s death.

To view Led Zeppelin performing in the height of their fame, visit this link for a performance of “Kashmir” at Earl’s Court in 1975: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1yFQ6vcRNk

To learn more about Led Zeppelin, this is an awesome website: http://www.ledzeppelin.com/

Enjoy these links and if you enjoy Led Zeppelin even half as much as I do, you’ll thank me for it.  Though, I can’t imagine anyone is reading this who doesn’t already enjoy them! 🙂

 





David Lee, are you talking to me?

11 01 2011

I will try to make a very long story short here, but I’m afraid I will have to begin this story in 1978 for you to grasp the depth of the miraculousness of it all.  So, here goes …

At the tender age of 6 I became a rocker.  I was a tom boy and not overly interested in girly things, but steadily forced into dresses and pig tails by my mom.  I was interested in finding myself at a very early age and uninterested in popularity or any of that mess.  I wanted to be tough, even though I was tiny.

I was raised in a very strict, Italian, Catholic home.  I had a stay-at-home mother and hard working father.  Anyway, I’m supposed to make this short so I’ll cut the details and get to one of the main household rules I liked to break … That was touching the parents’ stereo.  It was one of those old school big chests that had a record player and an ever-so-modern 8 track player.  Though children were not allowed to touch it, whenever the parents were away my two older siblings paid me no mind as they were teenagers doing their own thing so I would sneak to that amazing chest and put the giant headphones on, turning the knobs until I discovered something I thought sounded cool.  And then it happened … I was forever changed … by this sound:  It was like nothing I’d ever heard before.  It was raw, tough, heavy and completely different than what anyone I knew anywhere was listening to.  It rocked! I was instantly changed forever … and forever after I was a rocker chick! Full throttle ahead I began saving my allowance until I could purchase my first Van Halen record.  In other words, loose change from my grandfather to buy candy on a daily basis was saved as I fasted from my candy fix for about one year until my parents finally agreed to take me to the Sound Shop in the mall to buy Van Halen I.  Low and behold, Van Halen II had already been released and I didn’t even realize that I would have to decide between two albums.

By this time I was 7, and had not seen the band but only listened to them on the radio whenever I could.  When I laid my eyes on the lifesize, cardboard display of David Lee Roth splitting in spandex pants seductively over the Van Halen section I lost it … I really lost it … I jumped up and grabbed hold of it and had to have it, even if it cost my every last dime … literally.  My parents had to peel me off of it, begging the clerks to sell it to them to no avail.  I was in tantrum mode, but still left with Van Halen I in my possession.

Flash forward to 1984, to a 6th grade girl wearing holy jeans and Van Halen T-shirts to school daily and singing praises of their latest album.  A girl who had “I love David Lee Roth”  and  sketches of the Van Halen symbol sketched on every book cover.  A girl in love … with an untouchable rock icon.  Yes, that girl was me, of course.  Scrawny, late blooming, overlooked rocker chick Susan. I guess I really didn’t even notice that I was the ugly duckling, because I was still in that frame of mind that I wanted to be tough and completely un-girly! My world revolved around Van Halen mostly and other rock bands that were coming out at the time …  Bands that Van Halen opened the door for with their unique rock style. (Later, these would be known as hair bands)

It wasn’t until high school that I realized I was still late to blooming and unwanted.  Yeah, when all my guy friends I used to rock out with in Junior High no longer wanted to be seen with me because they were busy with the girly girls who had boobs and such.   Van Halen had crumbled after their biggest selling album, 1984, and my life seemed to be painfully crumbling too… I was holding on to dreams … dreams that I believed would never come true.  Dreams of being desirable to guys, and still dreaming even deeper of being desirable to rock stars.  But still, my life long dream was to someday be able to meet David Lee Roth … perhaps even cling to him the way I did that cardboard cut out of him at the record store so many years before…

I graduated in 1990 and still hadn’t blossomed.  Still fought for the attention of guys unsuccessfully and still prayed for Van Halen to reunite with David Lee Roth.  It seemed that none of my dreams would ever come true, but that summer things changed dramatically.  After an 18 year battle with a complicated illness (that’s a whole other blog I’ll write someday) I got the medical attention I needed and was on the path to healing.  With that healing came my late puberty.  With my late puberty came the swan from the ugly duckling … and with that swanlike existence came all the attention from the opposite sex I could’ve ever wanted.

It was a brand new world to me.  I didn’t know how to handle it.  Fortunately, early in my days of glory I settled down with a great guy for many years.  He too was a swan from ugly duckling, so we made a perfect match. But, sadly, all good things must come to an end and we broke up because he needed to “find himself” and I was left alone in a sea of sharks, who all wanted to take a bite of me the moment I was cast back out to sea.  And bite they did.  They shredded me up.  One bad relationship begot another, or so it seemed, and heartache relentlessly plagued me for years.  I had come to the realization that if it wasn’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.  And once again, I found myself dreaming of what would never be … my rock stars whom were always my secret lovers and best friends for all of my years, who never let me down … even though the days of hair band glory were long forgotten.

And then came the millennium.  Which really pleased me because the 90’s were a gloomy and dark time for me, so I had a lot of hope that the new century would bless me … and so it did … in ways I never believed it would.

Hair bands were coming back into popularity for some strange reason, and I was on top of my game.  I wasn’t the ugly duckling who wasn’t old enough to go to their concerts, I was the perfect age at the perfect time to see everyone I ever loved live and usually in perfect settings such as small venues because they weren’t top dollar bands any more as far as the industry was concerned, but to me they were some of the most awesome musicians ever.  But, that wasn’t the most amazing part … you see the most amazing part was time and time again these rock icons who were monumentous in my life history were choosing me to go backstage and party with them.  Little ol’ Susan among tons of busty, Playboy bunny types surrounding me … they would point me out and invite me over and over.  I was never happier in all of my years.  So many times I would go home and wish that I could travel back in time to tell that crying teenage girl or that broken hearted young lady; “Someday, Susan, your dreams will come true…”

And then it happened … headline news … David Lee Roth was coming to my area.  I was frantic just reading it.  After this long spell of meeting rockers, would he be on my list? The ultimate rocker? The love of my life? Would I truly get to meet him? I was doubtful. He was like a King, like a God, the greatest front man of all time … a total legend.  Nah, I wouldn’t get to meet him because he would be surrounded by an entourage and be totally untouchable … but still, I had to go see him as I had only waited my whole life to be in his presence … seriously, my whole life!!!!

The day of the show, my best friend (of over 20 years!), Melanie, and I booked a room to stay overnight at the casino Dave was to perform at.  We spent the day laying out at the pool as she consistently tried to calm me, knowing that I was extremely and overly excited about the pending show.  Many drinks and hours of relaxation to no avail, I was still anxious in a childlike state reminiscent of that day I went to the Sound Shop 25 years prior! Moments before we left to the show, I went into the bathroom privately and kneeled on the floor and literally I prayed to God to watch over me because I knew that my life has sent me in a direction in which I would meet such celebrities and I would need a guardian angel to keep me in check if I had the opportunity to meet David Lee Roth!!!  Melanie was truly concerned for my well being as she was well aware of my immeasurable infatuation with Dave.

And so, there we were, third row from David Lee Roth … singing his heart out and twisting my heart with his every scream, his every acrobatic move, his every breath … tears streaming down my cheeks as I thought I would never be so blessed as to be so near to this man I had longed to see for 25 long years!!!  Well, I guess Dave could see my beaming adoration because he pointed at me and motioned for me to approach the stage.  I was frozen and people around me had to thrust me toward him for me to realize that YES… Dave was, in fact, motioning to ME! I thought my heart would beat out my chest.  I stood at the edge of the stage as he sang a couple of songs to me, gazing into my adoring eyes.  Time stood still, I was a six year old, a sexually confused teen and an adoring woman all at once!  Dave fed into it, of course, and couldn’t resist teasing me from the stage.

As the show came to a close, he grabbed my face forcefully in his hand … squeezing my cheeks and I thought this was the peek of my existence.  Then, he pointed at me and suddenly security grabbed me and began pulling me away! I was dazed and confused as if I was on some strange drug.  I grabbed Melanie, my last source of reality, and we were yanked behind the stage.

“Dave would like to see you, alone!” The security guard said.
I was speechless.
“She can’t go alone,” Melanie heroically said. (Thank Goodness!)

Moments later … there he was … across the room … smiling … DAVID F***ING LEE ROTH!!!!!!

And I just stood there … frozen … crying … spastic!

He motioned for me to come to him.  I pointed at myself, confused, and asked “ME?”
“Yes, you!” He laughed.

Slowly I walked to him, Melanie in tow.

“So, did you enjoy the show?” He asked.
I burst into tears.
“She loved it,” Melanie laughed.  “Trust me!”
“Can I… Can I hug you?” I muttered as I gazed at my dream come true.
“Absolutely!” He smiled.
I threw my arms around him and the tears began to flow. “I’ve waited my whole life for this moment!” I exclaimed.
He ate it up.  He loved it!

So, we ended up on the illustrious tour bus of David Lee Roth! Inside was all black leather and dim lighting as if we were in a lounge.  I was seating on a leather horse shoe shaped couch when Dave slid up very close beside me and wrapped his larger than life arms around me and began to whisper in my ear about how adorable I was in a voice I had only previously known through music.  A raspy, sexy, melodious, rock God voice much like the spoken part of “Panama” …. (skip to 2:50 on the video below to see what I mean)

Needless to say, his constant praises of me were making me very dizzy and fumbling foolishly over my words as Melanie consistently reminded him that he was fucking with my head and that he had no idea of the effects this entire event was having on me.  It’s very VERY good that she was there with me the whole time.  He persisted to whisper sweet nothings in my ear as Melanie quizzed him about his musical career and such and I was persistently fumbling.  Finally after a few glasses of Merlot and sharing a smoke with him, I gathered my composure and was able to somewhat loosen up … though he remained consistent with the sweet nothings.

Otherwise,  he spoke in rhythm and rhyme with great flamboyance! He was fun, gracious and very entertaining.  One of the funniest parts was;  when we first got on the bus he shook his rear end, squeezed into leather pants, in my face and said “How do you like my ass?” Hysterical, right? But anyway, as I said before … it was indeed very good that my best friend was there as my guardian because I have no idea what could have happened to me in my dazed state of hysteria without her protection!

And after all was said and done, I looked back and thought … once again … of the little girl in the record store clinging to a cardboard Dave, and to the lonely teen who kissed his posters goodnight.  It still makes me smile that the one thing I wanted so badly for all of my years … the one thing I never dreamed possible actually did happen … TO ME!!!

David Lee Roth is an American rock vocalist, songwriter and author among other notable careers.  Though he is best known as the original lead singer for Van Halen, he also has a popular career as a solo artist.  Roth exited Van Halen after their highest grossing album, 1984, topped the charts.  Conflict within the band’s egos led them to go separate ways.  Roth’s solo career offered several platinum and gold albums while Van Halen had continued success with a different sound and a new lead vocalist.  Without Van Halen, the band and brand he helped bring to superstardom, his solo career eventually stalled, and he went on to explore other career alternatives. Sometimes referred to as Diamond Dave, he rejoined Van Halen in 2007 (much to the joy of the band’s fanbase) for a North American tour that became the highest grossing tour in the band’s history. David Lee Roth is referred to in many (rock) media outlets as the greatest heavy metal singer of all time.  His powerful and unique vocals changed the face of rock music much in the same way as his famous band mate, Eddie Van Halen’s guitar playing also changed rock music.

Soon after Van Halen’s debut, Roth became well-known for his flamboyant showmanship. The 1983 Rolling Stone Record Guide Vol 2. described Roth as “the most obnoxious singer in human history, an achievement notable in the face of long tradition and heavy competition.” Although often noted more for physical than for technical vocal prowess, Roth’s bluesy baritone voice and distinctive screams coupled with his humorous and campy lyrics were integral to Van Halen’s sound. Roth is able to take his voice into a multi-pitched wheeze/rasp, almost like a train whistle.

From 1979-1984, Van Halen released five more albums: Van Halen II, Women and Children First, Fair Warning, Diver Down and 1984, each to increasing popular success and critical acclaim. In 1983, Van Halen was paid $1.5 million to play one set at the US Festival making them one of the two highest paid bands in modern history.

On April 1, 1985, Roth and Van Halen parted ways. In late 1985, Roth assembled a backing band with veteran Van Halen producer Ted Templeman handling the production. Roth released his debut full-length solo album, Eat ‘Em and Smile in July, 1986. The album saw Roth return to hard rock music and met with huge commercial and critical success. In January 1988, Roth released Skyscraper, a more experimental offering than the first solo album. Roth then went on a headlining arena tour with the Los Angeles hairband Poison opening for him.  The tour was a huge success and met with positive reviews in many places. In January 1991, Roth released A Little Ain’t Enough, a more mainstream hard rock album. Musical tastes had changed dramatically by the end of 1991 and the accompanying tour promoting this album did not do as well financially as planned. In March 1994, Roth released Your Filthy Little Mouth, an eclectic, lyrically intricate album.  It did not sell well, considered by many to be a commercial failure, failing to achieve gold status. Roth’s career was in decline yet he still managed to support the album with a World Tour lasting over 10 months that took him and his band through North America, Japan, Europe and back through North America again.

Nevertheless, many loyal fans remained, and the Roth/Van Halen split entered pop culture. For example, in the hit 1994 film Airheads, fans loyal to Roth were regarded as cool, whereas a character loyal to Van Halen was suspected as an undercover police officer. Similarly, in 2001, the title character of the film Joe Dirt declared he was a Van Halen fan, not a “Van Hagar” fan.  In June 1996, Roth reunited with Van Halen for a brief time and to great public fanfare. He recorded two new songs for Van Halen’s Best of Vol. 1 album, “Can’t Get This Stuff No More” and “Me Wise Magic.” After an infamous appearance on September 5, 1996, at the MTV Music Awards during which Roth and Eddie Van Halen reportedly threatened each other ultimately resulting in Van Halen choosing their third and least popular vocalist.

In 1997, Roth wrote a well-received memoir, entitled Crazy From the Heat. In 2001, rumors swirled that Roth and the members of Van Halen had recorded several new songs together and were in the process of attempting yet another reunion. Roth later confirmed this, but nothing became of the music. In 2003, Roth released Diamond Dave, an album of (mostly) classic rock cover songs.  It was during the promotional tour for this album that I had the pleasure of seeing him live and meeting him at long last.

On Feb. 2, 2007 The Official Van Halen Web Site released information that David Lee Roth had rejoined the band bringing much joy to long time fans.  In March 2007 five members of Van Halen, the four original members and Sammy Hagar (2nd vocalist) were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  On August 13, 2007, 6 months after the initial reunion tour was postponed, it was finally confirmed by Van Halen with Roth at a press conference that they would schedule it starting in September 2007. At that conference, Eddie Van Halen stated that he and Roth were “like brothers” now. Calling Van Halen a “real band”, both Edward and Roth spoke of the possibility of further worldwide touring and a new album in mind for the future.On June 5, 2008, Van Halen announced the 2007-2008 tour with Roth grossed more than $93 million, a record for the band. Van Halen played to nearly one million people during 74 arena shows throughout the United States and Canada.





Thinking outside the bun

11 10 2010

Tom cooked a feast of beef ribs, sautéed with veggies in a golden sauce over rice… with a side of southern style corn and asparagus salad.  Served with a refreshing coca-cola.  It was nice.  We don’t eat many dinners together because of our conflicting schedules.  Now, I can’t quite remember how it came about but I think I was referring to the dogs when I said “Flash always gets the ‘shit end of the stick’ when I throw them scraps of food” (because Jackie is just much faster). Anyway, this spawned a conversation about where the saying “Shit end of the stick” comes from.  I know where I got it from (and she’ll beat me if she reads this, but … ) it was something my mom always said and it stuck with me.   So, over our fine dining we tried to derive where the phrase originated.  We both agreed that it probably stems from olden days when there wasn’t really any sewerage or flushing of toilets as we are so spoiled by today and that probably you had to dispose of shit by somehow shoving it down a hole with a stick …  therefore, occasionally you’d goof up and grab the “shit end of the stick”.  Well, needless to say we were wrong, but it made for fun conversation over fine dining, don’t you think?
Well, much to our disappointment, The proper saying is “Short end of the stick” or “Wrong end of the stick”… even though my mom’s version is much more fun … but here’s what I learned:
This expression refers to a walking stick held upside down, which does not help a walker much. It originated in the 1400s as “worse end of the staff” and changed to the current wording only in the late 1800s. Also see “Short end of the stick”.  The inferior part, the worse side of an unequal deal. For example, ‘Helen got the short end of the stick when she was assigned another week of night duty.’ The precise analogy in this term, first recorded in the 1930s, has been lost. Some believe it comes from worse end of the staff, used since the early 1500s, which in the mid-1800s  became, in some instances, short end of the stick.
-From The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms_(1997) by Christine Ammer
And, of course, all this fun talk of food and poop reminded me of yet another time these 2 very different objects were intertwined in my life…
In the early 90’s I was struggling financially, but I loved my job and all of the people I worked with. We had been in business for at least four years together and all employees were there from the grand opening and throughout. We were a tight knit family who had grown to know each other very well over the years. The business was growing and we had to make room for new employees. We hired a new guy in the sales office and a couple of guys for the operations department. I chose the guys for operations and both were very good friends of mine, so they fit right in. The new guy in sales, John, was also new to the area. Though he was a stranger, our family extended a warm welcome and strived to have him fit in as well. John was very different, however. He always seemed kind of shady and we all struggled with accepting him, even though we all gave it an honest effort. He was a heavy set man and dressed rather frumpy. His jokes were bad and he was very weak with customer service. Anyway, as I said, this was a time of financial struggle in my life. One of my biggest struggles was the fact that I absolutely loved to fine dine and couldn’t afford to. I loved to feast for breakfast, lunch and dinner … but unfortunately, I couldn’t afford most of my expensive feasts. So, I trained myself to eat a small breakfast, but have a large lunch. Lunch meant more to me than any other meal. I always went all out for lunch. I would have steak lunches with baked potatoes, steamed veggies, bread and salad or something equally as extravagant daily. I decided I would force myself to eat half of my meal at lunch and then take the other half home for dinner. It was working out well, and I was saving money. I had been practicing this concept for a few months before our new associates had joined the team. I would simply place the other half of my meal, stored in to-go boxes, in the break room fridge to retrieve later before going home from a hard day’s work. Not long after we had the new associates join our staff, I started noticing that my to-go boxes were being ravished. It wasn’t a small ravishing either. I would open a box when I got home to find only the fat from the steak trimmed off and left behind with maybe one sprig of broccoli, 1 salad cruton and teeth marks left on my piece of bread and such. This was happening almost daily. I was infuriated by this. I complained several times around the office, making very clear that I did not appreciate someone consistently stealing my food and that I could not afford it as well as it was a very rude thing to do. I went to my boss about it several times and he said I was overreacting, maybe the thief needed the food more than me. I began leaving notes with my lunches that said things like “Please don’t eat this, I can’t afford to feed you and me”, but the culprit would simply move my note aside and eat my food. I suppose the straw that broke the camel’s back (another great saying) was the day I went to my favorite Mexican restaurant and ordered quesadillas. This was one of my favorite things to eat. They come in the shape of a half circle and are stuffed with chicken, cheese, sour cream and all sorts of goodness. I remember my joy of having a full, beautiful and delicious quesadilla saved for my dinner. I thought about it all day long. I really struggled during lunch not to eat the 2nd quesadilla. It weighed heavy on my mind … oh, the melted cheese swirling in rich sour cream, with savory shreds of perfectly seasoned chicken breast … it called my name all afternoon, but I refrained. When 5 o’clock struck, I rushed to the kitchen to snatch up my to-go box. Then I froze, what if someone had eaten it again? What if I was about to get screwed out of my dream dinner? Slowly I opened the box … and there I found … the quesadilla, almost completely eaten. The bastard had eaten it from the straight edge all the way to the round outer edge, leaving me just about a half inch frame work of nothing but fajita dough with disgusting teeth marks all around it. All the cheesy, creamy and chickeny goodness was gone. After blasting a slew of obscenities and storming out of the kitchen with my useless to go box, I threw it on the passenger seat of my car and drove home on fire with a rage and desire for revenge.
I stewed for about one week. I continued to eat lunches for several days and have the remains stolen from me. But, I quit reacting and just took the pitiful boxes of raped left-overs home with me. The fact that I had quit reacting should’ve been a sure sign to take cover, but that gluttonous bastard didn’t catch a clue from it. The following Friday, instead of feasting on a delicious meal, I went to the drive-thru at Taco bell.  I ordered 2 burritos and 2 sides of pinto beans with cheese and sour cream.  I went home and ate one of each, then I took the two extras and began my project.  Carefully I unwrapped the second burrito and unfolded the flour tortilla, scooping out the center of beef and beany goodness and refilling it with several turds from my cat’s litter box … dotted nicely with pebbles of litter.  I re-folded the tortilla and placed the newly designed burrito in a Styrofoam box from my favorite Mexican restaurant.  I then put a small clump of cat pee infested litter beside it and gently scooped the pinto beans on top, keeping the sweet dallop of sour cream on top.  I placed a decorative piece of parsley between the two fancified items and closed the lid.  I returned to the office and put the surprise to-go box in the fridge.  As the day progressed I was overcome with excitement to check the box, but I refrained.  By 4:30, I could no longer resist.  I went to the box, and sure enough, he had eaten more than half of the burrito.  Without a word, I penned a note and stuck it on top of the box that read “I was really looking forward to eating that cat shit burrito, but once again you stole my food.  I hope you enjoyed eating my cat’s shit, asshole!”  He never ate my lunch again.  Ironically, a couple of months later he was caught stealing from the company.  I guess shit eating John couldn’t get enough of his cake and eating it too. (I know, I’m just full of catch phrases this evening!)
And now, just for fun.  If you’ve never tried this, it’s a must.  We made this cake for a friend of ours who is a real cat lover.  It’s kitty litter cake.  Here’s a picture of the cake we made below with the recipe.  Believe it or not, this cake tastes freakin’ awesome and it’s very easy to make.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package German chocolate cake mix
  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package white cake mix
  • 2 (3.5 ounce) packages instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 (12 ounce) package vanilla sandwich cookies
  • 3 drops green food coloring
  • 1 (12 ounce) package tootsie rolls

DIRECTIONS

  1. Prepare cake mixes and bake according to package directions (any size pan).
  2. Prepare pudding according to package directions and chill until ready to assemble.
  3. Crumble sandwich cookies in small batches in a food processor, scraping often. Set aside all but 1/4 cup. To the 1/4 cup add a few drops of green food coloring and mix.
  4. When cakes are cooled to room temperature, crumble them into a large bowl. Toss with 1/2 of the remaining cookie crumbs, and the chilled pudding. You probably won’t need all of the pudding, you want the cake to be just moist, not soggy.
  5. Line kitty litter box with the kitty litter liner. Put cake mixture into box.
  6. Put half of the unwrapped tootsie rolls in a microwave safe dish and heat until softened. Shape the ends so that they are no longer blunt, and curve the tootsie rolls slightly. Bury tootsie rolls randomly in the cake and sprinkle with half of the remaining cookie crumbs. Sprinkle a small amount of the green colored cookie crumbs lightly over the top.
  7. Heat 3 or 4 of the tootsie rolls in the microwave until almost melted. Scrape them on top of the cake and sprinkle lightly with some of the green cookie crumbs. Heat the remaining tootsie rolls until pliable and shape as before. Spread all but one randomly over top of cake mixture. Sprinkle with any remaining cookie crumbs. Hang the remaining tootsie roll over side of litter box and sprinkle with a few green cookie crumbs. Serve with the pooper scooper.