I Kissed Levon Helm

I love a lot of things. Very high on the list of those things include Woodstock, NY, The Band, Levon Helm, and Rick Danko. Tonight we are going to see Ain’t In It For My Health, the movie about Levon. I am prepared to bawl my eyes out.

In August of 2000, literally immediately after my sweet Granny’s funeral, I booked it up to Woodstock (something I did quite often back then). I went to the now-defunct Joyous Lake bar (not nearly as good as the sadly long-defunct Tinker Street Cafe, former Cafe Espresso and downstairs neighbor to Bob Dylan. Now THAT was a bar). There I saw Levon drum with his band at the time, The Barn Burners. I went up to him during a break, giddy and nervous and probably a little drunk, and said hi and how much I dug the band and blah blah blah. He was SO nice. I asked if we could get a picture and I can still hear his voice to this day: “Why, SURE!” (But “sure” sounded like “shore.”) So we took the pic and he said, “Now, how ’bout a kiss for good luck?” He went in for a kiss on the lips and I was so nervous and dumbstruck that I moved my face away. He said, “Now, let’s try that again.” And I kissed Levon Helm. It was a sweet peck on the lips and he KNEW he just rocked my world. He made me feel like I was the only chick in the room. Oh, Levon. I love you. I just remembered that the next night I saw Garth Hudson playat the same bar. Epic weekend, man.

When he passed away, I wept. I truly did. I loved him. He was just an awesome, awesome guy and fantastic musician. I expect to do some weeping tonight as well.

I went up to Woodstock in October to see Levon again. I also said hello to the lovely and amazing Rick Danko, whom we also lost too soon.

I’ll let you all know how many boxes of tissues my Band friend Shari and I go through tonight. There is also a producer Q & A, so it should be really amazing.

On one of the pics of Levon’s resting place you will see a green little girl’s hair clippie. Hazel took that out of her hair and left it for Levon, unprompted. It was magical. Not that she knew what she was doing…I think she saw all the other trinkets on the ground and wanted to leave something, too. Hazel. Named not only after Chris’ great aunt Hazel, but also this Hazel.

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I bought this signed print by the photographer in 1998 at a gallery in Woodstock. It has proudly hung in every place I have lived ever since, along with the gem below.

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Language is a Virus

So. I wouldn’t say that what I’ve got is writers block per se…I think that should probably only be attributed to a serious writer working on a novel or short stories. But I have NO CLUE what to write about lately. So I guess all I can do is write about not knowing what to write about. And that sounds really exciting, doesn’t it?

If you like to write and this ever happens to you, there is a wonderful little site called Language is a Virus. This concept comes from William S. Burroughs. There are all kinds of fun exercises that you may like, regardless if you are a “writer” or not.
I like the creative writing games a lot. They have a electronic poetry thing that I really liked to do a few years back. You could pick a writer you liked and they would give you a bunch of words that the writer might have likely used and you could make a poem with them. I used to do this at work when I got bored. Which was a lot. They have added a whole bunch of new writers since then. Including Morrissey! What!!! I gotta do that one ASAP.

Speaking of being a “writer” or not, I have had this amazing (at least I think so) idea for a novel. Obviously I am not going to tell you what it is, but the first half of it needs to be handwritten, and the second half in print. I don’t even know if that is a plausible concept, mass-production-wise. (Don’t you love how I have already jumped ahead to the mass production of this novel that I haven’t written one single word of?) I think it’s a cool idea, though. I need to research how to pitch a book deal. Even though nobody reads real books anymore. So maybe my idea IS more plausible in this new e-reader world. Maybe THAT’S why I’ve never started it seriously before! It just wasn’t time? Hmmmm. Maybe now is the time to get off my bum and do this.

One thing I will say about this idea i have for a novel is that it is not really “fictiony.” Because I am one of those weirdos that doesn’t love fiction. I like biographies, autobiographies, factual accounts of whatever. I do like some fiction, but I don’t seek it out. I’m not usually drawn to it unless it’s really trippy and crazy and absurd. So this idea has a very real element, like you are privy to something that you shouldn’t be. But in a sweet way, not in an icky, Peeping Tom kind if way. But I have already said too much.

Below is some of the electronic poetry I did many moons ago. The first one is Kerouac, and the second one is Ginsberg. Man. I love those guys. Deeply. Kerouac is the King of Stream of Consciousness Writing and I love to read him. I want to go to Lowell, MA and visit his grave. Allen Ginsberg is also outstanding and he was just so important to so much about popular culture in the 50’s and 60’s. He stayed totally relevant until he passed away. Love him. It’s fun to take their “types of words” and mix them together and pretend I have an ounce of their vision and talent.

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Mondo Retro Art

Back in 2002, I was making some weird art. Here are a few pieces.

This first one kind of deserves a backstory…I made a bunch of art and had an art show. My husband- whom was not my husband at the time, nor was he my boyfriend…in fact, we were both with other people – came to the art show as a surprise. He looked at the pieces and saw a particular one and said that he really liked that one and he was happy that one was in the show (he had seen it at my apartment when he was dating my friend Sarah and I was dating a other guy. We all hung out a lot). So…he bought it. He was the first person ever to buy my art. And now it hangs in our home together. Awwwwww.

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“You Need Not Surrender The Dream (yet)”

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“Tell me, Randy, why were you mooning her?”

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“Make Me An Icon”

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“…remember how you loved his can opener?”

Mondo Retro Jewelry

It seems like everyone and their mother makes jewelry, and I am no exception. My friend Lisa taught me when I was working with her at the Lotus Boutique in West Reading about 10 years ago (RIP Lotus), and I fell in love with everything about the process. I ended up selling my stuff all over Penn Avenue and also online and at craft shows. It was a good thing. I guess it kind of goes without saying that I have been taking a jewelry-making hiatus ever since the kids were born. But now I am ready to get back into it. SO ready. Here are some pics of my work. I’m hoping to scrounge enough dough together to get some new and different materials, because I have a lot of ideas. You can see larger, more detailed images of these pieces here.. Please enjoy.

Fun fact: that piece of slate that I used for these photos was snagged from the road in front of Big Pink

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Gimme some of that rock n’ roll music

The top ten greatest concerts of my life, in order of epic-ness, Part One:

1. Pink Floyd, Veteran’s Stadium, Philadelphia, 1994. I was in the 9th row and it’s like that crazy concert swallowed me whole. It was insanity. Beautiful, epic insanity. I can’t even begin to describe it. The pigs, the airplane, the giant disco ball that spun so fast I thought that I was going to be flung out of the universe…it was perfectly crazy and beautiful and worth every penny. I was a 21-year old hippie chick at a huge summertime Pink Floyd show in the 9th row and I was happy as a clam. It literally blew my mind (as demonstrated when I passed out during the 3rd song. But I thankfully recovered quickly and had the time of my life). That concert is gonna be tough to beat.

2. Bob Dylan, Temple University, Philadelphia, 1999. This little show actually trumps that Pink Floyd show in a different way. It’s not only because the music was just fantastic and I was in the front row, but because during the first guitar solo of “Folsom Prison Blues” (a fact that in itself makes it a killer show. Dylan rarely does covers), he wiggled on over to me and crouched down a little and aimed his guitar neck at me and, while making a “POW!” face (a really sexy “POW!” face), he pretended to “shoot” me with his guitar and then sauntered away, his gaze ever so slightly lingering. I have a bootleg of that show and whenever that part comes up I still squee a little bit. Oh, Bob. Thank you for that.

3. The White Stripes, Grand Opera House, Wilmington, 2007. What stands out about this show is that not only did we have INSANE seats (front row on the side), and not only was it a gorgeous venue, and not only did they totally rock (obviously)…but their album (“Icky Thump,” which would end up being their last) had been out only a few days and the entire place sung along to the refrain of “I’m Slowly Turning Into You” like it was a beloved favorite. They stopped playing and we sang our hearts out. So, clearly everyone had been devouring the album for those few days and everyone loved that song. The whole show was magic like that.

4. The Strokes/White Stripes, Radio City Music Hall, NYC, 2002. This was one of the greatest rock n’ roll nights of my life. The show itself was fantastic (both bands were total media darlings at this moment in time, and played only 2 shows together. This one in the Strokes’ hometown, and the other in Detroit, which was the White Stripes hometown). We were a few rows behind Ellen Barken and her kid. Beck was there, too. But after the show was over is where the real story is. It was even given coverage in Rolling Stone, and I think I may have been the luckiest girl there. We walked around the building after the show, and Jack White and some Strokes were hanging out in the open 2nd-floor windows (probably smoking). I was one of the first people on the scene and I looked up and said hi to Jack. He took a champagne bottle and poured it out of the window, trying to get it in my mouth. He missed and I got drenched. Which was obviously totally fine. Then he threw down a bouquet of flowers, which I still have (dead but fairly intact). By this time the entire crowd was there, screaming like they were the Beatles. The cops came to redirect traffic because the crowd was blocking the street. They all threw stuff out the windows (I still have a carrot from their backstage veggie tray in my freezer) and they talked to us and you could tell they couldn’t believe this was happening to them. It was one of the greatest nights of my life. Until…

5. Beck, Zellerbach Theater, Philadelphia, 2002. Two days later, I saw Beck in a teeny intimate venue for a solo acoustic warm-up tour (he was about to hit the road with the Flaming Lips as his backup band. Man, 2002 was a just killer year for music). I was an active member of the Beck BBS (his message board) and the admin asked us what our dream set list would be for this tour. I mentioned that I thought the song “Beautiful Way” from “Midnite Vultures” would make a good acoustic song. Well. Not only did he play it, but it was the ONLY time he played it on that tour. WHAAAAAT??? I also met him after the show and he hugged me and I was the happiest girl in the world who just had the coolest weekend of her life.

Stay tuned for the bottom 5!

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Music makes the people come together

Music is essential and gorgeous and these are my favorite essential gorgeous albums that have come out in the past 20 years. I have to limit it to this time frame because if I even begin to try to include stuff from the 60’s, I will literally be doing this all day. These are the recent gems that I don’t like to live without. Please feel free to check them out.

Bob Dylan: Time Out Of Mind (spooky and haunting and gorgeous), “Love and Theft” (Americana, quirky, genius), Modern Times (old-timey yet timeless, just brilliant and beautiful)

Eddie Vedder: Into the Wild soundtrack (folksy and freedom-anthemy), Ukulele Songs (I am OBSESSED. This album is PERFECTION)

Beck: Odelay (life-changing fabulous-ness), Mutations (a trippy collection of “throwaway” songs. This guy’s throwaways are better than most artist’s best work), Midnite Vultures (pure parody, honest homage, and raucous fun), Sea Change (this album will break your heart)

The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, The Dead Weather, Jack White solo: everything. Everything this man does is worth a zillion listens. I know every White Stripes album (except Icky Thump, my least favorite) inside and out. Jack is a genius. A hard-working, innovative genius.

The Shins: Chutes Too Narrow. Purely perfect “indie” pop. “Gone for Good” is just so, so good.

The Tallest Man on Earth: everything. It’s all fantastic. He’s from Sweden, and there’s a lot of just him and his banjo and the sound of his heart breaking. I love this man.

Father John Misty, “Fear Fun.” You knew this was coming. My current fave-rave. He used to be the drummer for Fleet Foxes, also a band worth checking out. But FJM…man. I’ve been listening to it at least once a day for months and months and months. Can’t say enough about this guy. I am waiting with bated breath for his follow-up, “I Love You, Honeybear.”

Elliott Smith – everything. This guy was troubled, moody, sad, brilliant, and his life ended tragically. Perfect recipe for me to like someone’s music.

Tyler Ramsey, The Valley Wind. Another haunting, gorgeous collection. This guy’s day job is guitarist for Band of Horses, another band I enjoy. I was really into this album in the autumn of 2011. I did a lot of driving around with the babies, looking at the leaves. Perfect soundtrack for that.

The Strokes, Is This it. I was obsessed with this album when it came out. I’ve seen the Strokes many times over the years and they are fantastic live. But they never topped their debut, in my mind. This is total NYC-Trust-Fund-Gritty-Hipster garage rock from a band of cute boys. Can’t go wrong with that combo.

Elvis Perkins in Dearland, Ash Wednesday. Elvis is the son of Anthony Perkins (yes, THAT Anthony Perkins) and a model from the 60’s named Marisa Berenson. His father died of AIDS and his mom was on one of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center. Then he made this album. So obviously you need to check him out. EP ID is also fab.

I’m kinda thinking I should have made my list go back longer so I can include Paul’s Boutique by the Beastie Boys (Check Your Head also missed my cutoff by one year) and the mighty Appetite For Destruction by Guns N’ Roses. And of course, Nirvana’s Nevermind. Those albums stand the test of time for me.

I just realized I’ve seen almost all of these bands I mentioned live. Even Nirvana, which always seems to impress the youngins. But no need to be jealous; it was a terrible show. I highly recommend seeing Beck – his shows are fantastic. He is a true artist…he puts insane creativity into everything he touches. Anytime Jack White comes within a 100-mile radius of you – GO. I mean, just go. It’s so sad that The White Stripes are no more. I saw them 5 or 6 times and they are among the best shows I have ever seen by anyone. The last time was at the Grand Opera House is Wilmington, DE in 2007. Everyone who was there probably counts it as the best show they have ever been to by any band. It was really that special. The Shins were just ok the 2 times I saw them. FJM was pure magic.

Ok, I will stop because I want to make a Top Ten Best Concerts of my Life list. And the Ten Worst. Man, I love geeking out with my lists!!!!

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That Old Book Smell

Yesterday I finally did it: I took the kids to the library. I have been wanting to do this for ages, but I had visions of them bolting in 2 different directions, pulling all the books off the shelves, screaming their fool heads off. I don’t know why I choose to continually underestimate my children, but I do. I asked them if they wanted to go to the library, and they said, “YEAH!!!” I didnt even know they knew what a library WAS until I took them to Barnes & Noble the other week and they asked me if this was the library. There must be a Caillou library episode that I missed or something.

Anyway, I explained how we need to be very quiet there and not pull out books unless I’m with them because they all go in a certain order, etc. Oh, man. We had a great time. Hazel decided she wanted Curious George books, so I showed her where those were and she spread them all out on the floor and chose a few of them. Max wanted a book about dinosaurs and The Cat in the Hat and I grabbed some Elephant and Piggie books, too, because they are awesome.

They were really patient while I picked out my books, too. I was impressed. They have a story time on Thursday and I think I will take them. Oh yeah, I just remembered, there *was* a Caillou library episode, because he went to story time and checked out a book and accidentally colored on it and had a meltdown in front of the librarian. We should review this episode so they don’t end up turning The Man in the Yellow Hat into The Man in the Amazing Technicolor Dream Hat.

So, yeah. The library. The best job I ever had was working at a library. I did crafts with kids and adult programs, too. I loved having everyday access to all those books and movies. I love the way library books smell. I like that musty used bookstore smell, too. If I could invent a perfume that smelled like fresh summer rain and old books, I would be a rich woman. Actually, I really wouldn’t. I’m probably the only woman in the world who thinks smelling like a musty old book would be attractive. I swear, it’s a miracle I found anyone willing to marry me. I’m such a mess.

Well, lookie what we have here!. I’m not the only one! It really IS the greatest smell in the world!!! Who’s a mess now, eh? (Me. The answer is me. I’m still a mess.)

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Am I more Martha than Mary?

So, last night was my the first night of my summer bible study (and the first time I led a bible study ever). I think it went pretty well. I mean, I thought it did. They all said, “See ya next week!” so I guess it wasn’t too hideous. My natural inclination is to pick apart the weakness of my questions and “leadership” abilities and stuff like that…but nobody is judging me on those things. Nobody except me. We veered off topic a lot, which I loved. I want this to be free and easy and open. And it was. I’m sure it will just get freer and easier and…opener.

It is said that when two or more people gather in His name, He is there. And He was. The Lord wants these specific women to get together and talk and learn about Him. He will give us all the words we need for each other.

So, what did I learn? I learned that I need to remember that God has a sense of humor. As someone who loves to laugh, loves to be silly, loves to think outside the box…how do I forget this?? As one of my friends said last night, if we are made in His image, obviously he has a sense of humor! Obviously we can use our sense of humor in connection with Him. I forget that sometimes.

I also learned that despite how much I’ve mellowed out in the past few years, I am still a total worrier. Am I (*gasp*) a MARTHA?!?!. I’d like to think I’m a Mary, but I’m not so sure. I wish I could truly not care about what others are thinking about me (or what the house looks like or how the food tastes or is everything good enough). I assume others are thinking the same things I am thinking. Like, as I’m blathering on about whatever: “Man, this girl should NOT be leading a bible study.” “Yikes, how did she not remember the details of that story she is trying to reference?” Yes, I know this stuff is only my own insecurity. And it’s the enemy trying to discourage me. Well, it ain’t gonna happen. This could be the crappiest, lamest bible study in the world and I am not giving up and I’m not gonna doubt myself or worry what anyone thinks. Yeah, right. Shut up, enemy!! You sound like a crazy person. Yeah, what else is new?!

I would also say that I learned that I am blessed beyond measure, but I already knew that. That is one thing that I will never, ever doubt.

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