Ronstadt Round-Up

Linda Ronstadt, as much as Janis Joplin, paved the way for females who rock – not that Aretha didn’t pave the way too but soul is very different genre. In my collection I have as mp3 Stone Poneys – Evergreen Vol.2 (1967), Different Drum (Michael Nesmith) Stone Poneys III (1968), art folk. Solo: Silk Purse(1970) country, Linda Ronstadt (1972)   country rock – I Fall To Pieces;  Don’t Cry Now (1974) Desperado – producer Peter Asher; Heart Like a Wheel (1974) Asher You’re No Good; Prisoner in Disguise (1975) Tracks Of My Tears; Hasten Down The Wind (1976) ‘That’ll Be The Day’; Living in the USA (1978): Alison; Mad Love (1980)

The early Stone Poneys are adventurous, the sound is interesting & the material is smart. The band resented that she wanted to the call the shots & so it broke up. I love Hobo on III. Her solo career started off a little unsure as she explored country, country-rock & her voice in incredible but often the material & production reined her in – she did work with studio musicians who became the Eagles. 

But when Peter Asher took over the production her career soared. With songwriters like JD Southern, Jackson Brown, Laura Nyro, The McGarrigle Sisters & even Elvis Costello – she was amazing. I particularly loved ‘I drove past your house lates last night just to see if you were there’ Perhaps the bursty song about stalking & romantic obsessions I can think of. Her work with Nelson Riddle bored me – the songs were too tidy for me. Her Spanish language work is sublime but also was too smooth for me.

I added some other prime female vocalists to the mp3 CD. Smith: A Group Called Smith (1969) lead singer Gayle McCormick sings the shit out of Baby, It’s You. The group fell apart, she did a few solo lps but never really hit the charts again. Here too is Grace Slick’a Dreams (1980) – an unexceptional lp by one of the most exceptional pop voices ever.

The first Pretenders: The Pretenders (1979): with Tattooed Love Boys. This is a stunning lp of powerful raw songs & Chrissie is amazing, as she is on every Pretenders lp. What can one say about Marianne Faithful? Here is Broken English (1979), a remorselessly angry lp with eviscerating songs that quickly reestablished her as a major voice not merely some quiet nostalgia act. 20th Century Blues (1996) is a fine set of ‘cabaret’ & rock with songs by Brecht etc. 

Finally – a couple of more ‘modern’ singers: Grace Jones: Nightclubbing (1981): featuring Walking In The Rain – this was Grace’s step out of disco into alternative. Iconic songs, great engineering & a classic. After the end of the electrodance group Yaz, Alison Moyet launched her solo career with  Alf (1984) a set of sometimes over-dramatic songs that clearly opened the door for Adele. I love this lp.

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Spiritual Shreds

Spiritual Shreds

sometimes we can’t wait

<>

the rush of kisses

clasping grinding

the restraint of denim

too much

as our erections strain

against each other 

through that pointless fabric

it almost sheds itself

is the rush

from tongue to tongue

to tongues on cocks

under foreskins

under balls

over buttholes

<>

we have to consume

as much of each other as possible

as fast as possible

edging irrelevant

coming mandatory

demanded again

sucking fucking

without relaxation

we aren’t here for foreplay

we are here to consummate

consume

climax

<>

Should I have posted this with a warning? “Contains adult language, nudity & explicit male-on-male sex?”  Or was it safe to assume my followers here won’t be surprised or offended by erotica? There was a time when I was less explicit, less in your pants, about sex acts but that self-censorship was shame based. So I stopped. When I was doing spoken-word shows I can remember the shocked reactions to the line in one of my poems ‘new boyfriend only fifteen’ with a pause before ‘years younger than me.’ (Boyfriend – https://topoet.ca/2015/04/01/boyfriend/)

I remember another time, after I done a feature set, in which only one piece was sexual, another poet, who read some pieces about being a new father, came up after to say ‘why do you gay guys only write about sex?’ I replied ‘why do you straight guys only write about parent?’ He gave a little laugh & walked away shaking his head – clearly parenthood is more emotionally resonant & authentic & suitable for serious writers. 

But, as usual, I digress, or do I? I don’t think there’s anything to explain in this piece. It is based on actual events in my life. As such it is a celebration of the surrender to lust without hesitation or apology in the face of a culture in which pleasure is shallow & suffering is deep. There’s no attempt to make it into a spiritual experience either in order to elevate it from the sheer physicality.

The explicit is also a reaction to the current of heteronormativity that has infiltrated lgbtq so that sex is repressed in the world homosexual so as to make it more ‘acceptable.’ This sort of erasure still goes on to somehow not offend the mainstream. Even in the recent Colorado shooting – at first it was deemed more correct to call one of the defenders a ‘drag queen’ rather than state it was trans person. Drag queen has become more ‘acceptable’ thanks to RuPaul. In the USA ‘trans’ is used as political dynamite to distract voters from actual issues.


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Music of Masculinity

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I recently did a couple of posts in my music series about The Rolling Stones. It started me thinking about the role music played in my teenage year. How what I listened defined what I believed was masculine. In all footage I’ve seen of The Beatles there is nothing but screaming, swooning girls – no boys. In fact pop rock music fell into those two camps – most of it was in the girls camp. The Beatles, Herman’s Hermits were for girls, The Rolling Stones, The Who were for boys. Donovan: fem; Bob Dylan: masc. Boys who like music too much were suspect – girls could sing along – boys couldn’t – lol. 

The Stones ‘Satisfaction’ was clearly about getting laid, The Beatles “I want to Hold Your Hand’ was clearly about holding hands period. Hand holding was safe for girls. The Stones were never innocent & many of their songs were clearly misogynistic i.e. ’Under My Thumb’ or were calls to violence ‘Street Fighting Man’ – these were the proper role models for real boys – real boys wanted more than holding hands. They wanted action, or revenge. Never mind the fact that by the time they recorded ‘Street Fighting Man’ they were millionaires not revolutionaries.

So how did this resonate in my life at the time? The sneering misogyny & objectification of girls (rarely were they women until they got to the Honky Tonk) was masculinity defined. I felt I would never be masculine enough, aggressive enough, daring enough to live in the reality of their songs. They sold a myth that I saw as reality – much like the Hollywood fantasy that the love of the right person would give you reason to live.

I don’t even think I found the Stones sexually attractive – even then there were rumours that Mick was a bit bi – I had a buddy who said he’d have sex with Jagger but, to be honest, I found Jagger to be too lizard like for me. Speaking of lizards I my first pop jo sex fantasy was the Lizard King, Jim Morrison, then Foxy Jimi Hendrix, but I digress.

I’ve blogged about growing up with out any real role models in a culture that had distorted sense of gender that I ended up with my own distorted sense of masculinity. Pop music of the time merely echoed that that distortion – real men were Born to Be Wild whereas faggots like me could only dream about it.

Rolling

 

Stones 

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MMMostly Jazzy

Working though the M’s in my jazz collection with a part of stand-alones by Medeski, Martin & Wood: keyboards, drums, bass. It’s A Jungle (1993) (Coltrane, Monk), Shack-man (1996). Fun organ based smooth jazz – the organs sound is breathy as opposed to Jimmy Smith’s. The group aims for a funky jazz vibe & are fun but two cds was enough for me.

Next is Pat Metheny. I have as either stand-alone or mp3: Water Colors (ECM 1977), American Garage (ECM 1979) Rejoicing (w Charlie Haden) (ECM 1984), One Quiet Night (2003), The Way Up (2005). He has played as sideman with endless others. His guitar playing is often subtle, somewhat in the Wes Montgomery style but not as relaxed. These are all excellent & any lp he plays on is worth having. One Quiet Night is a relaxing, romantic acoustic set. 

Rounding out the mp3 collection is Egberto Gismonti, (Brazil) – Magico 1979 (w Charlie Haden). Another amazing guitar player – inventive, smooth & worth tracking down. Some George Benson:  The Other Side of Abbey Road (1970), White Rabbit (1972). I suspect Abbey Road is one of the most covered Beatles lp – I have at least two other complete track-by-track set of jazz covers of it. Benson is a guitar player with a great pop singing voice. White Rabbit is a set of pop covers, or rather interpretations, fun but not as interesting as Gabor Szabo. 

Art Pepper: New York Album (1979) Pepper plays a vibrant sax  & this is an excellent set, s bit romantic but solid jazz – none of the pop cover stuff. Charlie Hunter Trio: Bing Bing Bing! (1995) funky jazz with a great guitar sound – here the trio is more like a sextet with horns added to the sound. Finally some Mahavishnu Orchestra: Inner Worlds (1975); Noonward Race (1972 Live at Mar y Sol Festival) – this live track is a race that left me breathless & glad that I had hunted down this live set.

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Guzzle

Guzzle

<>

the problem was size

the cup was too small

I want a mug

not a wine glass

not a shot glass

I want a bucket with handle

<>

I don’t care 

about to sophistication

of the right stem wear

the right cut crystal glass

old fashioned

martini 

snifter

<>

who needs the drink to breathe

when I’ll guzzle it

in one or two gulps anyway

who wants to keep going back 

to refill that teensy 

little glass

<>

why should the stein 

be reserved for lager

give me a mug

that holds a quart

don’t bother with ice

pour the drink in first

then if there’s room add mix

<>

what the hell

don’t waste time on a glass

or ice

drink the way nature intended

straight from the bottle

My favorite tea mugs hold about 20 oz – they are more like teapots without spouts but with handles – I have a couple of travel mugs that size too. I do have smaller but only for guests – they get the more civilized sizes. I keep my eyes open for mugs this size  & can judge just by looking – I know the difference between 20 oz & 16 oz mugs.

 

When I was a drunk size mattered then too. I recall once spotting some large glasses in a shop window & bought a pair of them. They proved to be bigger than a schooner – a pub glass that usually held 32 oz. I would mix my drinks in advance so I didn’t have to keep freshening my ‘cocktail.’ I broke one of them & went into the store to buy a replacement & it turns out they were actually vases.

I did know guys who were very into the right glass for the right drink from shot glasses, old fashioned – they would never have a martini in a wine glass or brandy in a flute – they would never serve whisky in a highball glass. Then there are those who like the cut-glass variety – best thing about them is that the glass wouldn’t slip out of your hand thanks to the bevelling.

Much like wine connoisseurs I felt worrying about your stem wear was pretentious rationalization to make getting drunk seem less like getting drunk. Regardless of what’s poured into them, spilled out of them, shown into someone’s face, or passing out with one in your hand, they still had to washed like any other dirty dirty glass.


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Paywall

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Would you pay for FaceBook? How much would you pay to be ‘verified’ on Twitter, or to even use twitter? Would to pay not to have ads on yahoo, tumblr – your television? Whatever happened to MySpace – (according to internet it ‘has mostly transitioned away from social networking to become a curated music and entertainment site.’)

Most publishers require that their authors have an online media presence – a webpage, now of course, one must also have twitter, instagram, tictok, tumblr, WordPress, Facebook & be an influencer. All at your own expense. Of course maintaining all that connectedness leaves little, or no time, for actually writing anything. You also have to have verified followers – the more the better.

All of these media traps were intended to give the writer a way to promote their work – to make the public aware of them – you know the most frequent followers I get on twitter are other indie writers looking to promote their work – not followers who want to discover anything about me or want to explore my work. One thing wordpress doe sis show me where my ‘clicks’ come from – I don’t think I’ve ever had one from twitter – even for posts of mine that have been liked & even reposted. zip. 

I am glad that all of these sites do allow me to ‘curate’ who I follow & who follows me – I am fast to block followers who are clearly spammers or who don’t interest me. Annually I go through various lists of followers & who I follow & remove people (that is if they are people & not bots).

Most of these free sites aren’t actually free. Supposedly information based on each of your clicks is marketed to advertisers so they can target their products more successfully – never mind the fact that most people are more annoyed by ads than are clicking on them to shop. We click on Amazon or Esty etc to shop for what we want. Though one can now pay at many sites to have your post promoted to people the site feels would respond to it – whatever. At once time I used FB to promote events, there would be dozens if not hundreds ‘I’ll be there’ responses & if two them showed it would be a miracle. Same with events that I said ‘‘I’ll be there’.

How much would I pay for any of this, beyond what my provider charges to access the internet in the first place? Not much – though I have paid for some sites. My WP site had a business plan so I don’t have to worry about the photo archive. I do also have ‘subscriptions’ to a couple of gay men’s cruising sites as the free membership is severely limited. 

If I paid for anything, say, at Yahoo, it would be to be targeted by products I might actually use, not by this endless barrage of smart skirts, beachwear, strapy sandals, t-shirts covered with kittens, etc all for women. Where do I sign up for an endless barrage of men’s underwear, bulky snow boots or t-shirts covered with barbed wire. So much for the accuracy of algorithms that are selling my privacy. 

Would you pay for twitter? 

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The Rolling Stones 2

After the death of Brian Jones the Stones moved in a slightly different direction as they adjusted to a new guitarist. Then when this hit the 80’s they seemed to get lost & their lps became more aimless – shall we say, uninspired attempts to remain relevant.

As either stand-alone or mp3 I have Let It Bleed (1969), Sticky Fingers (1971), Exile on Main Street (1972), French EPs, Goats Head Soup (1973), It’s Only R’n’R (1974), Black & Blue (1976) Some Girls (1978) Deluxe Edition, Emotional Rescue (1980), London Singles Collection (2002), Blue & Lonesome (2016).

Bleed & Fingers are well focused & have some of the best writing of their career. Richard’s guitar work is often amazing & I find myself going back to these lps with great pleasure. The set of French EP’s – as you might guess, were released in Europe & each had 3 songs on them – the mixes are different from the lps versions. They ended with the release of Exiles. The London Singles Collection – 3 cds that ends with Sympathy for the Devil. The singles were mixed for radio & the sonics are different & in some cases totally different from the lps versions (Honky Tony Women) – some were never on lp (We Love You/Dandelion) well worth having, whereas the French EP’s are for fanatics lol. Blue & Lonesome  (2016) is their last new release – they return to their roots with a fine set of blues. 

Rounding out the mp3 collection are The Troggs: Trogglodynamite (1967) best known for Wild Thing The Trigs never made it big in the USA but were relatively popular in Britain. Solid bar band stuff. The Rumour was Graham Parkers backup band for many years I did some recording with out him: Max (1977) is an excellent set that shows the band didn’t need him. 

The Beach Boys: Smiley Smile (1967) – more a cult favourite & the studio sessions that nearly destroyed the band. Sweet & sonically dense. Wolf Call! is a fun compilation of various rock-a-billy songs. Rock-a-billy being another of the prime influences on British rock. As are The Esquires: Very Best of  (2012) with funky songs like Get On Up, this is the sort of funky sound the Stones tried to achieve but failed. 

Secos & Molhados is an innovative Brazilian glam-rock band that defies real definition. YouTube videos are wild, the music is tight, rocky, experimental & fun. I have A Volta do Gato Preto (1988). Finally U2’s Songs of Innocence (2014). not one of my favourite bands but they were forcing this lp free on anyone, even those who didn’t want it I opted take it lol. Solid rock but unexceptional.

 

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Innocent, As Charged

Innocent, As Charged

who gets what

has become a matter

of value

of potential

you may be worth protecting

but not worth saving

<>

you may innocent

but that’s no guarantee

you won’t be prosecuted

your alibi may be solid

but once it is questioned

it becomes a proof of your guilt

<>

you may be guilty

but directing blame

can get you off the hook

you can cast suspicion

on the innocent

for even thinking you are guilty

while you wash blood off your hands

<>

if your value is greater

you deserve the protection

while the innocent are worthless

blameless

disposable

sacrificed

The first verse of this piece was written about five years ago when I was working my way through the Rules as prompts. But this dichotomy of who deserves protection hasn’t changed since then. The limits of that protection are consistently tested by the likes of Trump (money, not law, protects him from the law), even in Ontario there is a tug-of-war going on over education priorities & control. 

Someone said something to the effect that the exploited have no rights, only mercy – that laws are made to allow the merciful to find more devious ways of control & when the exploited realize this, as they often do, they are legislated into being grateful for any justice that might accidentally occur. It seems that those billionaires forget that without the working poor their financial empires would crumble. If there was no profit in keeping the poor poor, poverty would end. Or be made illegal – lock’em up & funnel that welfare money into the penal system.

I am grateful for what entitlement I may have as an older white cismale. I don’t have to worry about being arrested for bringing in a package delivered to my front steps while I was out. But know as I get older, with my limited financial resources me options will get smaller but I don’t lose sleep over that, nor am I obsessed with justice – one of the many things one can become so focused on futility takes over. 

These are thoughts that drift through as I talk about these old poems. One of the keys to meditation is to let thoughts drift without trying to impose order on them- denying those thoughts doesn’t allow them to drift. Focusing only on those thoughts stops blocks the ability to see beauty. Besides I’m not that complicated.

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A Million Reasons

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A day at a time I’m looking forward to the Stratford Festival’s 2023 season which will run from mid-April through October. It features four Shakespeare plays: King Lear, Much Ado About Nothing, Richard II and Love’s Labour’s Lost; two musicals, Rent and Monty Python’s Spamalot; along with Les Belles-Soeurs, A Wrinkle in Time, Frankenstein Revived, Wedding Band, Grand Magic, Casey and Diana and Women of the Fur Trade. Click Casts for info about the productions.

We’ll probably being booking tickets to see King Lear, Spamalot, Les Belles-Soeurs (with an amazing cast including Seana McKenna, Lucy Peacock, Diana Leblanc plus a million trading stamps), & Frankenstein Revived (a new dramatic movement piece). Probably either of the comedies. Richard is being modernized into the 70’s & frankly after the ill-conceived modernization of Hamlet last season I’m not interested.  Grand Magic has some appeal – it’s hard to resist Italian comedies about resort magicians.

I have vague memories of seeing Les Belles-Soeurs what back in the late 70’s but I can’t see if was here in Toronto or while I was living in Cape Breton. I recall Jane Eastman as one of the sisters. Sisters! Right – an echo of King Lear – a play about sisters, betrayal & revenge – pretty much the plot of Soeurs. I guess it’s all relative.

(photos from scenic route to Stratford)

Won’t be booking tickets until the new year once the festive gifting damage has taken its toll. There’s also the matter of physical condition. As one gets older driving for more than two hours can be draining – now that the return trip now clocks in at 4 hours I have to consider – is it worth it or should we wait for the dvd release of these productions? 

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October 2022 Recap

My October hits have come from  24 countries around the world. Mauritius & Romania in the top 10! Kenya there as well. The most popular posts were Hurt People Hurt People & Election Fever. Yes, I did vote in the recent municipal election lol.

not so happy

Watched an amazing Japanese movie written & directed by Kurosawa ‘I Live In Fear’ 1955 – starring Toshiro Mifune, in perhaps the most emotionally complex role I’ve ever seen him. Set in the early 1950’s, clearly made after the American occupation ended – it deals with the emotional fallout of the H-bombs dropped on Japan. Mifune’s character is suffering from severe ptsd. A chilling performance in a movie unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Highly recommended.

American Horror Story is back for a new season – set in New York in 1981 & focused on gay murders with a particular emphasis on the leather, s&m, community. As always, an excellent cast, stunning photography, handsome young men, spot on acting but why is it, so far, boring? The best moments have been the majestic Patti Luponte singing in a steam bath. Joe Mantello & Russell Tovey as the leads give excellent performances making the most of the repetitious domestic arguments they are saddled  with. 

The police indifference to violence directed at the gay community is tired, the cop in two closets (or is it three) is boring. Two serial killers or is it three? The s&m is exploitive & almost laughable in its attempt to be shocking – but the brain pills in the last series that made gifted people super smart & turned the not-so-gifted into zombies, were truly shocking. The fact that AHS has stepped back from endless explicit gore is fine by me but we already have ample police procedurals so I hope this season become less pedestrian as it has been in the first four episodes. Episode Five really steps up, for me, with great interaction between Bernhardt & Luponte. My hopes are now higher for the rest of the season.

Read: The Color of Summer – Reinaldo Arenas – this a phantasmagorical tour de force overloaded with wild sexual images & blistering political satire that would makes James Joyce jealous with its use of drama, poetry, diary entries & letters as Reinaldo tells us, of amongst other things, having to rewrite this novel as every draft gets seized & destroyed for being subversive. Breathtaking.

Stratford 2023 season has announced & I can’t wait to see Spamalot (sadly they aren’t doing it as a mash up with Hamlet). 

Hurt People Hurt People

Election Fever

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