Sunday, November 22, 2015

I Have Been Thinking of the Past and People No Longer With Us

Because November 22, 1963 was the date that we lost a president to an assassin's bullet, I remember John Fitzgerald Kennedy. I too often wonder what would have happened to our country if that event had not taken place. However such musings do me no good as it happened and I have no power over the outcome of that singular event. What I remember of that era is that families clung tight to one another. We looked at the Kennedy's as an example of beautiful people. However, with his assassination, the Kennedy's became more like the rest of us--human and not on a pedestal.

Mom and I stayed glued to our television set as most other USAmericans did. We were Americans too. We love the country and the government. We were naive about all the behind the scenes arguments as to what was right for our country. One quote I use as part of my email signature is JFK's summation that if we did not put an end to war, war would put an end to humanity. He truly was a Warrior for Peace.

Because my mother was very politically engaged. I pay attention to what Congresspeople say and do. Today, I am not voting for my representative in Congress. She voted in favor of pausing the government's action to take in Syrian Refugees. Why? Because Paris France had its equivalent of our 9'11. I'm fuming because the fear mongering hordes of Republicans have placed this issue on the line--front and center. They know how to scare people. We need people who are cool, calm and collected when dealing with dangerous situations. Inciting the hatred others have for the United States we need to resurrect more politicians with courage to do what is right instead of what is expedient for their political careers.

In order not to get angry with them I've been thinking of my Mom and some of the music she liked. I'm pasting one song as a remembrance of the old Puerto Rican songs as sung by Marc Anthony and many singers of the past: I hope I get this in right. Both are in. One song is clearly newer than the second video. However, they each underscore the patriotism that Puerto Ricans feel for the beloved Isla del Encanto.

I was born in the United States on the island of Manhattan on a blusttery winter night in February. Still seeds of love for the island and its people,my people were well and deeply planted by my Mom. I love the passion in the voices of the singers. Interestingly it is through music that the past and the present converge. Too frequently this duality has left me longing for two diametrically opposed positions. Is it any wonder that I like and desire so many wonderful and diverse things in life?

Preciosa is a term Puerto Ricans use for their beloved Isla del Encanto.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Reviving the Past

I am a Queen/Freddie Mercury fan. Since I first heard Freddie's voice during the last year or two,  I became mesmerized by his vocals. Later, I purchased a video or two of Queen during various performances and I instantly knew the Mercury's performances were part of the reasons for Queen's success. He was the kind of showman that kept his audiences in mind, and who made sure each member of the audience felt a connection to him. (These are comments made by Brian May and music critics of the era during which Mercury performed. In addition, many songs are anthems which are remembered for occasions when they're called for. My favorite of these are We Are the Champions, and Deacon's We're Going to Rock you. Or that could be May's song.) What can focusing on the work of a deceased singer/songwriter/performer teach us? This is a question I have about all the historical events such as WWII or the Cold War etc. 

I  tried teaching the importance of knowing one's and other's histories. Young people are vastly self confident in their futures without looking back at histories. Yet looking back and studying biographies would teach people that they are not alone in feeling shiftless without a goal that would bring success to them, however, they define success.

Beatles and Presley are equally beloved by me and others for many reasons. Queen is mostly about fun as are the Beatles. However, as Beatles broke up the attention to social issues grew for them in different ways. John Lennon became more involved with social issues that are still associated with him."Give Peace a Chance" and "Imagine" are forever connected with Lennon and these ideas are sorely needed by society because we are constantly looking for ways to get into more wars. Korean, Vietnam, Cold War, the two Iraq Wars and others in the Middle Eastern part of our Earth.

Brian May's contributions to social issues came in the form of "Is This the World We've Created." I do not know who among them wrote "Under Pressure" which is a song I love, but it's obviously a song about humanity taking care of itself--brother to brother. The idea that teaches us most about Mercury is Mercury's idea of loving and enjoying what one does. Otherwise, he once said if I stop enjoying what I do; it is time to stop and do other work that satisfies my idea of fun. 

Mercury was great at taking chances. His performance in Rio once had an audience in rebellion as he came out in drag. He also took chances with music he wrote and I especially appreciate his work with Monserrat Caballe a Barcelonian opera soprano. The collaboration came toward the end of Mercury's public careers. The CD Barcelonia is a tour de force combining rock, gospel, and opera. Brilliant is a word for the work. It also was taking a chance instead of doing the usual rock and roll.

Doing what one loves is an idea I often taught because I believe that we become callous and thoughtless about other people if we are miserable at the jobs we do. 

Presley was not a song writer although he re-arranged many of the songs he sang. I especially like his "In the Ghetto" because it discussed the truth of poor people's lives. I can imagine that baby crying. Furthermore, Presley could convey emotions without the tackiness of making a sound in his throat to evoke tears or crying as Mercury did when singing "Is This the World We Created" as their special request following all performers of Live Aid 1985.  

Looking at these people from the past who succeeded at what they did is a good exercise in learning for our futures.  Presley did not take the chances Mercury took although he is still revered by those who lived during his time. Mercury is picking up followers among the young for many reasons.I think Brian May's insistence of keeping Queen going helps, for a digitalized video of Mercury appears sometime during each concert. Love of My Life a song reputedly written for Mary Austin is the song May uses for those moments. 

So taking chances, following your heart and doing what you love are the two main lessons along with perseverance. Without those elements success can come slowly if at all.

To be honest, many philosophers and people I've studied such as Joseph Campbell taught these concepts during the time Mercury lived. The thing is that I did not know about Mercury were, his struggles at boarding schools, his feelings of abandonment, and his eventual decision to "follow your bliss" as Campbell would say. Some valuable lessons can be learned best through the biographies and performances of people in the arts. I prefer listening to the music of the artists but reading their biographies enriches enjoyment of their works.This is especially true when we learn how the composers arrived at their God given goals.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Pope Francis Visits and In Doing So Blesses Us

September 26, 2015  QUOTATION OF THE DAY

"In big cities, beneath the roar of traffic, beneath the rapid pace of change, so many faces pass by unnoticed because they have no 'right' to be there, no right to be part of the city."
POPE FRANCIS, in a Mass before 20,000 at Madison Square Garden, reminding New Yorkers to watch for a glimpse of the presence of God among the poorest of the poor.

I'm what is known in this country as a fallen away Catholic. However, I might just go back if the church begins acting on the words and deeds Pope Frances shared with us during his visit to the USAmerica. The quote above resonates with facts of today's society but also reminds me of the picture of Jesus knocking on a door asking to be let in. The Catholic faith of the past was more about helping others. Later, it became entangled with the politics of controlling the behaviors of women's needs for contraception, an occasional abortion, health care for poor women. Tied to the Republican Party of today, the Catholic Church has broken laws concerning abuse of children, sometimes abuse of women by having them return to husbands as their marital duty, and control of women's bodies via laws restricting contraception and/or abortions or pills that would prevent a pregnancy. There are sound theological reasons that underlie the Church's stance but then in doing so, the Church forgets the homeless, the faces of "the other" that are so frequently attacked by the "peace keepers" of the cities which labels them as having no right to be in some parts of any city. To me this is shameful and unfortunately has kept me away from supporting a church that has veered so far away from Jesus.

Like the Jesus I learned about, I'm an only child, and since I was a child, I claimed him as my brother. As an adult, I now understand that all people are my brethren--brothers and sisters. Much of this understanding came from the fine sisters who taught me. Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, were the best teachers of the Christianity that the Catholic church taught in the past. They spoke of love and mercy and not of an authoritarian god that would flog those who dissented from Catholicism. The reason I think stems from the humility of these nuns. The kindness they indulged us with. In fact, they lived the faith they taught during religion class.I'll stop here because I could go on forever about their many kindnesses and occasional mistakes for after all aren't we all human?

When speaking during Mass for the New Yorkers at Madison Square Garden, Pope Francis reminded all of us to see God in all the people, even those who are homeless, hungry, jobless etc. For it is a duty that we care for one another and not just the ones that look more like the people in power--white. In our country status and money help some get accepted even if they are not wealthy. But even here our beloved President and his beautiful family have had to endure some nasty attacks.  Pope Francis reminds us that we are all of us God's children and should love one another as such.

I never had sibling, so I never understood that brothers and sisters fight amongst themselves. I think Pope Francis has forgotten that because I fear some of those in Congress are too tone deaf to truly listen to him and act upon his words..

So far he spoke to our tone deaf Congress, was embraced by a true ally, our President of the USAmerican states, and some of us feel that his words moved John Boehner to consider the faith he's followed all these years in the way it was taught all those years ago. The Golden Rule is not a new concept. We learned it in grade school if not in our school yards or playgrounds. Yesterday, Pope Francis reminded us that we are here not solely for money, power etc. Politicians are to do work for their people. This is something the people haven't felt for a long time. As soon as John Boehner's handkerchief came out to blot his eyes, I felt he might be receiving some sort of an inspiration. And though many people may feel badly for his "failure" to lead his tea party congresspeople, I see the obstacle as an opportunity for Mr. Boehner to follow another path that will help his physical health and perhaps enhance his spiritual life.

For months now, I've listened to what Pope Francis says. I hope his words become the healing balm all or our souls need. There are some things missing from Francis' speeches that I feel are in line with Christ's teachings of love and mercy. The term AGAPE which to me means unconditional love needs to be placed on the forefront of his discussions. There are many of my brothers and sisters who's sexual orientation is not male to female. Yet they deserve love and inclusion along with God's love and mercy.  He is telling priests to forgive women who confess to having had an abortion.  That is a great step, but how about rethinking the concept of contraception? Good contraception prevents abortions.

I will continue to listen to Pope Francis in hopes that he is able to cure the conservative Bishops and Cardinals in USAmerica to behave more Godly--that is to show more love and mercy to the people they serve and to leave the political actions they've enjoined before the entire church is left behind. People today more than ever need mercy and love. If we can't get it at our churches where shall we go. Life in this prosperous country is very hard and in order to physically survive many hard choices are made for the good of our families. When the church steps in to help and not hurt I'll be willing to reconsider my own actions as they concern the Catholic Church.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Why Stormchaser?

For many years I used the term Stormchaser for my proclivity in chasing storms in Tucson's desert valley. I'm back in the desert and while no longer changing my interest in chasing down thunderstorms I enjoy changing down storms of different kinds or of all sorts.

I'm at a stage now where reflection is a part of my learning and writing. So I spend time trying to interrogate my own actions from the past as well as from the more recent present. My first entry of course is a combination of past/and present. As my experiences lead me to select a certain type of person for friendships, ideals of romance--although these are unrealistic. However, as friends, I find myself making good long distance friendships by seeing the human storms beneath their surfaces.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Attractions to People in Pain or Why do I Love Bad Boys--Or Are They So Bad?

I've been trying out a new blog (Word Press) and while it has many interesting things to offer I find Blogger easier to get into and see what I'm writing about.

Here is my last post from Word Press:

I was going to write some mealy mouth piece of attraction to "bad" boys. However, the bad boys I  am attracted to are folks like Freddie Mercury whose life highlights all the points that I've not dug for in other bad boys.

Freddie was sent to India far away from his home in Zanzibar, Tunisia on the African continent. He was creative, but shy. Unlike me. I'm outgoing but not particularly talented at the genius level that Freddie Mercury was.

My parents sent me to boarding schools in Up State New York. The school boarded girls only and for a long while my gregarious nature was confined to women only. I did well in school particularly music, choir, piano, history and geography.  We were taught the feminine arts of embroidery and other crafts, for we lived not far from the Victorian Era which still influenced us in the United States.

During the time that I was in boarding school, my parents separated and eventually divorced. Mom remarried but I had issues with the man she married. He was a molester.  My Mother's second marriage did not work out and she did not let me stay with my Dad so I could finish 8th grade with my other classmates. This was to be the beginning of a bohemian lifestyle-- moving around a lot. My Mom was hot a well educated person so she had no profession to support us in a prosperous manner. Therefore, things were tight for her and me.  But we managed. I never finished piano lessons because of her move from the East coast (New York) to  California.
I sensed sadness in pictures of Freddie Mercury both as a youngster in school  with people calling him Bucky because of his teath and a sense of abandonment that most of those of us who were sent away for our own good feel. How could it be good to be away from two loving people our parents? I felt the coming and going back to school acutely every Sunday when I was returned to the boarding school.
I also acclimated well because at weeks end I wasn't eager to return home unless it was to be with my father. After my parents divorce, I always felt strongly connected to my father.
At school Freddie learned piano but was able to keep it up as he did not go home too often. His aunt who lived in India helped him with tools for his artistic abilities. My own were negligible. But all thoughts of piano etc were left behind when I moved to California
The past is the past but having thought things through I can truthfully say that people who were hurt in childhood some how appeal to me and we make connections. For I too was hurt in more ways than can be described here.

Kindness is important as well as tenderness to those who've been hurt as children. It's a shame that we can't all reach out and heal one another but we can be kind and tender to those present in our lives.
I believe that some of us have the capacity to be kind to others regardless of our sense of  abandonment from the souls who should have loved us most. There is a verse in a Mercury song that I sing with feeling when I hear it: "Sometimes I wish I'd never been born at all." But the fact is we are born and we must live with our purposes. I know that Mercury always said he wanted to have fun. That if music stopped being fun he'd leave it. But as long as he produced the wonderful lyrics and melodies along with Brian May,  John Deacon, and Roger Taylor his purpose was assured.

Another thing we need to know is to stay away from people who depress us, lead us away from becoming whom we should be, or who make us feel inferior because in fact we are not. We need not hear criticism for who is to say we are wrong?

Letting go of the evil and developing some spiritual practice helps us to stay balanced.Most importantly it helps us to find the joy or "fun" in life. Being alone does not necessarily mean that we are unhappy. Sometimes on our own, we figure out who we are and what can make us find joy in living.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Death and Music as a Part of Living

New Entry from Word Press  9-12-15

I am chasing down memories to find new ways to put together my life's story and works. Through the practice of writing I'll capture essences of people I love(d) along with people who helped me develop. I do not intend to make these stories maudlin or self-aggrandizing because that is not the true purpose of my life. Sometimes I do tend to be all about me--but that's when I've I've isolated myself from my friendly companions.
I selected Storm Chaser for the title of this blog because I often go headlong chasing after things that lead to interesting outcomes.. One example of this took place when I lived in Tucson, AZ. I'd spot where the rain was falling in Tucson's valley and drive quickly over to it to enjoy the rain falling on me, my car, and whomever was with me.
I suppose this may indicate a spontaneous personality but that is part of who I am.

 Below is an earlier post I made at the passing of a great friend, Bevann Garnes. It ties in with another post that follows hers. For it was during her dying days that I took Bevann for a ride in my little car and I played Freddie Mercury's Barcelona album for her. The look in her eyes and her smile told me what she later exclaimed. She loved the music the juxtaposition of rock and opera and the glorious voices of Mercury and Caballe. I was thrilled because when you love something and introduce the "something" to someone for whom you care it's fantastic when they love it too.

On April 1, 2015, one of my best friends passed over. That is a lovely euphemism for "died." In our Western Culture we don't like to think or talk about the one thing that happens to all of us. I think that is one of the things I'd like to write about here because my friend, Bevann Garnes and I spoke of dying often. The subject came up, most likely because of our ages. More often than not, however, the subject of dying came up because of our thoughts and beliefs and spirituality. My lovely and loving friend was deeply spiritual but she allowed for those of us who waver on the concept of absolute belief in the hereafter. The reason I give is that in fact belief is based on accepting as fact that which we cannot prove with certainty.

So now I turn to look at those moments I spent with Bevann so as to explore life and death.

Whenever someone I love or look up to passes on, I turn to music. I usually play music I shared with the person who is no longer here. I feel better because music has always been important to me. I don't carry the LPs or 45s or CDs all with me because I lost so many in my many moves.

So before Bevann died I visited her and mentioned the lead singer or front man for Queen. Well she knew the group when they were newly out. I just discovered them and Freddie. I found his showmanship so refreshing from the old guys who just stood and sang. Even my first favorite Perry Como was from a long line of ballad singers who played up the stiff dude singing.

While Bevann's health began to deteriorate, I had the chance to introduce her to Freddie's solo work and most especially his Barcelona with Monserrat Caballe. I'd never heard of her but when she sang on Freddie's rock opera both Bevann and me just fell in love with the music. It was perfect for us two old gals. We even missed a turn to get to Bevann's doctor's treatment center. 

While we both enjoyed the album, we had other music in common. Long ago before Bevann became ill she walked to a jazz group playing at one of my son's fatherhood conferences. She sang with the group and showed her singing background.  Of course, she was a teacher and counselor for one of the local tribes in AZ. She took in a child for two years hoping to give him a home and a lesson in boundaries.
Bevann was wonderful. There were few topics on which we couldn't converse. Like me she was opinionated she just was a milder version. Now that she's gone, I'll have to prompt myself to be effective in sotto voce.

I think through memories and music I'll keep Bevann in my heart. I know that certain old Puerto Rican songs bring my Mom and Dad to me along with cousins and Aunts and Uncles who are no longer with us. Music was at the beach, in our homes and in our friends' homes so I hope that people will use music as they heal from the loss of anyone who was close to them as they travel to the other side of death.