This is my mom's generation of the family (all her brothers and sisters and cousins) with my great grandparents in the farm lands of Sandusky, Illinois. My mom looks to be about 5 or 6 years old so this is maybe 1963 or '64.
"You gave the rest a try now come and give the best a try." That's what I'm talkin' bout. And I'll just point out that every time I see Just Blaze in videos or whatever, I always think, "He seems like a cool cat" even if he is aping the Kanye West sped up soul sample stee-lo here.
The nineteen-year-old singer and pianist Nellie McKay has said
repeatedly that she wants to be famous, and she has generated a small
bible of press clippings to nudge the process along. It’s a fun read.
McKay pushes her politics (peta activist, no friend of Bush, “tired of white people”) and cherry-picks
her rich backstory: a peripatetic childhood, spent travelling with her
mother, the actress Robin Pappas, between the Poconos; Olympia,
Washington; and Harlem in a Volkswagen bus. Her grandfather did time in
San Quentin. In school, Nellie ignored her classmates’ musical tastes,
wore shoulder pads, and immersed herself in the work of Jo Stafford,
Greta Garbo, Doris Day, and Rita Hayworth. After two years at the
Manhattan School of Music, she abandoned the conservatory for night
clubs, often accompanied by her mother. She relishes using interviews
to scare off anyone expecting a biddable camp figure: “I thought all
the ’50s rockers were so dirty”; “There’s a side of me that identifies
with Aileen Wuornos”; “I’d really like to raise the minimum wage.” She
speaks openly about the real-life subject of one of her songs, a
conservatory teacher who is both a neighbor in her apartment building
and the unwilling object of her obsessive infatuation. It’s impossible
to determine how much of all this is genuine and how much is just
fireworks. (She cites Bill Clinton’s saxophone performances as a
- Fireworks by Sasha Frere-Jones, The New Yorker, 05.24.04
My name is Jason and this is for my grandpa. You may know him as Pop-pop, Daddy, Junior, Uncle Junior, Mr. Jesse or Jesse.The last time I was in Omaha, I spent a lot of time at my grandparents kitchen table working the puzzle with him and listening to his stories. I wrote many of them down but as I read through them thinking about what I would say here, I would get about halfway through one and think, "Nope. Can't say that in church" or "Oops, I'm not sure that's for mixed company" or "Nah, I don't want to put all grandpa's business out on front street." So, what I will share is a story about my grandfather and my uncle Mike...in his words:
One day not too long after Mike passed, Pauline went out of the house. I was sitting right here in the kitchen doing the puzzle. She yelled she was leaving, I heard her keys and heard the car start and drive away. Some time later, the latch of the door unlocked and I heard keys rattle. I can still hear it now. I didn't even look up. I just assumed she had forgotten something and came back. After awhile, I realized that she wasn't in the house. I figured I must not have heard her leave again. So, she comes back awhile later and I say to her, "What did you have to come back to the house for." She looked at me and said, "I didn't come back, I was gone this whole time." Then I started thinking about the sounds. It was the latch unlocking and then a rattle of the keys. Now, when you enter the house, you don't hear the rattle of the keys because you're holding them in your hand a certain way, you've got to grip them to turn the lock. But Mike, when he would leave the house, he would unlock the door and rattle his keys for me to let me know he was going.
It was then that he knew that Uncle Mike would always be with him.
You will always be with us. We will never be without you.
Pisces are the most impressionable of the twelve zodiac signs.
Deeply empathetic, they often exhibit a gentle, patient nature, but one
that is in want of inspiration. Pisces can be deeply affected by and
completely absorbed into their environment.
Pisces adapt well to their circumstances, both good and bad. They are generous, amiable, positive natured people with a deep sense of kindness and compassion. Pisces are highly tuned in to everything around them including the feelings of others.
Pisces are socially popular because of their easygoing and likable
manner. They have an uncanny sense of perceiving what a person wants or
needs, and delivering it. Pisces are reflexive, preferring to allow
circumstances and events to unfold and, only then responding.
Pisces are not typical people. They are too idealistic and impractical for every day run of the mill living. Pisces are sensitive and instinctual rather than bookish or mechanical. When Pisces find the right situations, they are capable of some incredible deeds.
Pisces completely and wholly engage in a chosen path, to the exclusion
of everything else. This obsessive compulsive energy can be healthy and
not. Pisces can be workaholics (and other kind of -aholics too).
I might disagree slightly. I'm both instinctual and bookish. I am sensitive to the fictional much more than the real. I wouldn't consider myself obsessive compulsive but it is common for me to get fully engaged in something.
All in all, though, this coincides with how I see myself and what others have said about me (at least to my face).
I woke this morning with this song in my head. I've listened to it four times throughout the day. This is the fifth. It has been a weekend of intense solitude. I've been locked in with my thoughts and my music, The Race Beat, and Zelda. My communication tool of choice has been almost exclusively one-way: Twitter. Outside of a few brief conversations with my parents and a random IM chat here and there, I've played observer when out in the world and self-analyst when in my home.
I've switched iTunes to repeat. This is play number six.
There have been several eureka moments while reading The Race Beat, many of them about how journalism effected the Civil Rights movement and how the conservative buzzwords and tactics of the time are co-opted in today's political rhetoric. I've learned several words and concepts that I didn't know before and found some new heroes but I'll save all that information for when I actually finish the book.
One statement has stuck with me since I read it on Saturday: Write every day. Stephen King says as much in On Writing but this is just some matter-of-fact advice given by a grizzled 40s era editor to a cub reporter and for some reason it struck a chord. Perhaps it was because I was sitting outside of Psychobabble in Los Feliz as an aspiring artist talked to his friend about an old Gypsy myth and the man responding to the tale by noting that his own hair was kinky...like a Black.
Spin number eight. I'm taking replay off but reserve the right to return.
"Like a Black," I thought. "I've got to write about that one." Los Feliz is hipster heaven. Every person walking by, young and old, is dressed in shabby chic. Designer hobos, if you will. I was reminded of Laina's commentary about the sociocultural ignorance of hipsterism and connected it to another eye-popping quote from The Race Beat,
"In the South, whites would say to Negroes, 'Come close, but don't go too high.' In the North, whites would say, 'Go high, but don't come too close.' "
That lack of proximity is what creates the space in which that common hipster douchebaggery is free to grow unfettered even in 2007.
I watched the last hour or so of The Color Purple over the weekend. I caught it as Shug and Miss Celie have happened on the letter from Nettie and go on their search for the rest of them. I cried. I straight bawled my eyes out for the remainder of the film -- a movie that I have probably seen 25-30 times since I saw it with my mother and her friend in the theatre over 20 years ago.
They were tears for my grandfather.
That's a simplification. They weren't tears for my grandfather. I'm not one for mourning the dead. I mourn for the living. They were tears for my grandmother who lost her partner of 54 years. They were tears for my mother, who wanted more time with him, more time to prepare for life without him. They were tears for me. The frightened me. The one who has dreaded phone calls from the 415 area code for 2 years, fearing every time that it was the "death call". The one who would avoid calling so as not to hear his tired, wheezy voice and worry that was the last time. The one filled with -- guilt isn't the right word -- regret that I didn't take every opportunity I had to be in his presence.
I head to Nebraska in just over a day. I'm tasked with speaking about the man. To raise my voice out into the universe. Raise my mind beyond the planets and the sun. Spread my message everywhere.