Category Archives: Musical Memo

Out of the gate and into the wild

Out Of The Gate And Into The Wild

I’ve been indulging in my usual Saturday morning routine – sitting in my pajamas with coffee, idly paging through social media until the brain shows signs of life. Facebook’s “On This Day” feature this morning offered me a video by recording artist LP, whose incredibly unique voice isn’t even halfway showcased here (you should try a song called Tokyo Sunrise if you want to hear what she can really do!)

LP – Into The Wild

A few minutes later, the interwebs offered up this gem:

Left the gate open

Of course, the two connected are screaming, “Memo!”

I actually think this is a foolish sentiment, as a routine life strategy. One should not always be bolting willy-nilly through every open gate one sees.

Who bolts through open gates? People who are looking for a way out. People who are some combination of bored, scared, trapped, desperate, and/or yearning for freedom. People who are convinced that what lies ahead HAS to be better than whatever they’re leaving behind. People who want to run.

I decided to google the song lyrics for insight. The pertinent, most recognizable lyrics to the LP song are:

Somebody left the gate open
You know we got lost on the way
Come save us a runaway train
Goin’ insane….

Oh please believe me I’m more scared than not
That oh now this isn’t the way

So here we have another category of bolter – astray, scared, and with full, after-the-fact awareness that bolting wasn’t the best idea they ever had. This was not a well-thought-out bolting, but an irrational, reckless rush into madness.

When we were growing up, our family included a dog named Rusty, who would bolt at every opportunity. Gates, doors, however he could manage it, Rusty would lead us on a merry chase through the neighborhood until his inevitable recapture. That is, until the time I found him in a doorway, reached for his collar – and he snarled and snapped at me. Here I am, worried for his safety (hey, we lived at the intersection of Jamaica Avenue and Francis Lewis Blvd. in Queens!), and this is the thanks I get for chasing him down. Fine. Be that way. And I went home in a huff, leaving him to figure it out on his own against the perils of the city.

I have no idea why some dogs are bolters, and some are just plain disinterested in the open gate. He wasn’t abused or ignored or anything like that, and always had a big yard to run around in. Some dogs are calm, placidly content. Rusty was a more energetic, more interested in what lies beyond the gates, I guess.

On the surface, the placid pooch seems smarter, more dignified, more mature, steadier and more reliable than the bolter. However, his worldview is more limited than Rusty’s. The placid pooch never gets to sniff and explore and learn quite as much as the one who wants to know what’s outside the gate.

There’s got to be some happy medium between the sameness of contentment, and the terrifying plunge into the abyss.

Time for a champion

Follow the bouncing ball on this one – it gets weird, and in the end, it is probably not clear. However, it’s too Memo-ish to dismiss. It is the most epically Memo-packed incident since I began to record such incidents.

My friend K – who was best friends with "that boy", back in the day – had this little joke with me on Facebook about pokes. He would refrain from poking back, which meant I could not poke him again until he had done so. In this manner, he was sort of keeping the poke hostage, and joked about "releasing" it from captivity whenever he did decide to poke back.

I think this was in retaliation for my practice of not poking back until I had amassed 50 or more pokes. I would then go on an overnight poke-a-thon, sort of a sneak attack. All very silly, I admit, but good, clean fun.

Last Christmas, I took a cue from K and granted a general poke amnesty in honor of the holiday. Several weeks ago, I decided that the next amnesty would be in honor of Independence Day. I wrote a haiku that I would publish as I liberated the pokes.

Freed, the blinking pokes
stumble into exodus
Independence Day

Note the use of the word "exodus".

Perhaps a week ago, my young friend Annie posted a new Matisyahu video for his song "Sunshine". Yeah, my keyword. I decided to ignore it.

Today is the day – I posted my haiku, and freed the pokes. And another friend posted about Matisyahu, which reminded me to take another look at the video for "Sunshine".

The song kicks ass. The singer, who had adopted the life and customs of hasidism some 10 years ago, has recently shed is yarmulke and facial hair. As a result, he suddenly and rather painfully resembles the 1979-ish version of "that boy", so much so that it has become almost unbearable to look at him.

And yet, I look.

I think the video prompted me to dream about "that boy" a few days later, but I do not recall the details of the dream. I did not write it down, or tell it to myself like a story several times, as I normally do. I did not want to remember it. Well, not so much "remember" as "dwell". And anyway, we’ve long-since established that none of this is about him, at all, at all. It’s all about me, me, me. He’s just the thing that gets my attention. Dammit.

The video is brilliantly beautiful. It opens on a shot of a black scorpion moving about on a rock. Yeah, if memory serves (and I bet it does), "that boy" was born under the sign of Scorpio. After that, there is a biblical quotation – "I am sending an angel ahead of you to bring you to the place I have prepared". That’s Exodus 23:20, by the way. Yeah, I said "exodus".

Truthfully, I have issues with this part of Exodus. It’s all about the promises God allegedly made to the Hebrews as they took delivery of the commandments and prepared to wander in search of the promised land. God allegedly said (paraphrase), "if you obey my angel unquestioningly, I will have your back. I will smite your enemies, groups of people with names like Caananite and Hitite and other ite-ending names, people whose land you want. I’ll help you take what’s theirs."

Really, God? Really. Really?

I honestly do not blame God. I think this is just more evidence that the Bible was written by people. Male people, with an agenda. In fact, it’s sort of the same attitude that Big Business and Too Big To Fail have toward the common people these days. They are the shit, and God is on their side. They will take whatever they want, to do with what they
will. If you don’t play by their rules, you might as well have "-ite" on the end of your name.

There is some other imagery involved in the video which a Jew might not immediately recognize, but is quite obvious to one raised in a Catholic home. The "angel" appears in the form of a young girl, perhaps 10-12 years old. EDITED TO ADD: the angel always has PIXIE DUST swirling around her head!!! 🙂 He leads her around, in several shots on the back of a donkey. This reminds me of a porcelain statue that is probably still sitting in my mother’s china cabinet – a study in white, blue, and gold, it portrays Joseph leading Mary and their swaddled Son, who are seated on the back of a donkey. I’m betting mine is not the only Catholic mother whose china cabinet bears such a figure. It’s pretty iconic to us. I am not saying Matisyahu is converting to Catholicism. But it definitely appears as though he is exploring, expanding his worldview. "I am reclaiming myself," he said on his blog. "Trusting my goodness and my divine mission."

In the song, he sings, "It’s time for a champion…" and I recall that this is what Jesus was supposed to be for the world. In fact, we’ve had a few champions. The others were called Abraham, Martin, and John. Maybe, throw Arthur in there as well. We always end up killing our champions. But what I think he’s really saying is that HE is his own champion. He sings of letting himself down, before inviting himself to grow up.

The song lyrics make reference to Peter Pan. Of Peter Pan, I have always said "he’s every man I ever dated and/or married". I also answer to "Tink" in certain circles. The irony of the reference comes in it’s duality – "Time to grow and be a man, want to fly high like Peter Pan, no more never never land". Well, make up your mind – you can’t be a grown up AND Peter Pan at the same time.

Or can you? The thing is, while living under strict religious governance, it’s sort of like you abdicate responsibility for making decisions about your behavior. It’s all been decided for you. This is the way, follow it. Take away the rules, and you’ve got to fly solo. It’s all up to you. Choose your course. Be a champion.

There’s an evolution that occurs, a progression from donkey to bicycle to motorcycle. We shed the old, and in doing so, we free ourselves to advance to the next level. You know what happens when you peel away the rules, remove how it’s always been, and let the people wander in the desert? A new definition of "normal" emerges.

Like a poke, I’ve been liberated, led from the dungeons to blink in the unobstructed light of the sun. I’ve been wandering in the desert for nearly two years. None of the constraints I’d been living under prior to my years in the desert appear to apply any longer. On some level, I knew that, and started to shift my direction, about a year ago. I don’t see anything happening though, other than what I myself have shaped into happening.

It’s time for a champion. That champion has always been me. Rescue seems to be meant only for others. This is not the first time I’ve had to bear the disappointment that there will be no rescue, nor is it the first time that I will have to push aside Fear, brother to Ambiguity, and keep a clear head.

Though rescue be absent, guidance is generally available to those with ears that hear and eyes that see. It’s a constant struggle to fend off the propensity to be deaf and blind. I just need to be on the lookout for that angel. Who, for me, may or may not bear a striking resemblance to Matisyahu on a motorcycle. "God On A Harley", anyone? 😉

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For those grumpy, out-of-sorts moments

Maybe it’s just that time of year, when I am done, done, DONE with the relentlessness of perpetually blue skies and dry lawns. Or maybe it’s just that patience has never been my strong suit, and I’ve been practicing it so long now it’s just freakin’ ridiculous.

QUENCH ME, ALREADY. I have been SO ready for SO long now.

*shakes fist at sky*

I’m so sick of the sunshine baby ’cause it burns my skin. I’m so sick of the sunshine, tell me when the storm comes in.

Cosmo Jarvis, 'Sunshine' — Song Premiere and 'Think Bigger' Album Info – Spinner.

Make a joyful noise

My friend Joy is performing in a Long Island production of "The Sound Of
Music". All through my singing years, there were a few roles that I
could not wait to be old enough for, because of the songs I’d get to
sing. One of them is Cousin Nettie in "Carousel", because I can knock
people over with "You’ll Never Walk Alone". It’s just in the exact
right key for me to do so. The other role is that of the Mother Abbess
in "The Sound Of Music"; the song, of course, is "Climb Every Mountain".

When Joy let it be known that she’d be playing Mother Abbess, I got a
pang. I waited and waited all those year, and now it just doesn’t seem
relevant any more. Then, why the pang?

Joy (far right) posted photos of opening weekend this morning. I would
give a photo credit, but I do not know who took them.

Check out the stained glass window –

The hills, apparently, are alive…. 😉

Hand me that piano!

I giggle when I think of this line from a very old George Carlin
routine. It was about words that never get used together, like "please
saw my legs off" or "hand me that piano". It was about absurdity, a
notion to which many George Carlin routines were wholly dedicated. In
this case, I have an absurdity in contrasts that would indicate a
decision is required of me regarding clutter, regarding things from my
past that are being kept hanging around out of habit or the comfort of
sameness or… I don’t really know why, but it seems that it’s important
to find out and then take action.

I was coming back from a haircut appointment the other day. While
rounding the corner making a right from Alico Road onto Highway 41 (lawd
I was born a ramblin’ man….), I spotted a hand-written sign that
simply said, "Piano lessons" and gave a phone number.

Closer to home, I spotted THIS hand-written sign, and it was fortunate
that I had to stop for the light, else I would not have had the
opportunity to snap the picture.

We Move Pianos

I find it odd that I was just talking to my house guests last weekend
about getting rid of the piano and re-arranging the furniture in the
living room to include a chair that matches the damnsofa. Yeah, THAT
damnsofa. The one that took me four years to decide to buy, because it
cost a LOT of money. The one I stalked both online and in print in the
Crate and Barrel catalog. The one I finally bought because my friends
became exasperated with me for hemming and hawing over it for four years
and one of them exclaimed, "oh just buy the damnsofa already!".

I have been contemplating releasing the piano into the wild for a couple
of years. I do not play well, but I used to play a couple of times a
week, just for my own pleasure. When I had the piano in storage for a
couple of years, I missed it and talked frequently about the day I would
be able to liberate it from exile and play it once more. I paid to move
it from Long Island to Florida! And now, I never touch it except to
remove dust from the things that have collected upon it.

The stark contrast between the two signs is not lost upon me – the
Universe advises me to either learn to play it or else move on. It
takes up a lot of room. It has nothing to do with who I am NOW, and
probably less than nothing to do with who I am becoming.

I should probably just give it away.