Tuesday, December 25, 2012

I love Lopez

When I was a kid, starting at 4 years old or so, I would play my parents records on our stereo in search of something good. I found this one album called Live at PJ’s by Trini Lopez and I was pretty excited about it. To say that Trini was a latin Sinatra type, on reprise records, does not do him justice. He was a great performer with a cool voice and a folk sensibility that he swung with a latin beat. The record was recorded live in a small club and had covers of (I want to live) in America, If I Had a Hammer, La Bamba and Celito Lindo, which some of you folk might know as Aye Yi Yi, Yi. Man, I dug it.

Now as an adult with my almost-3-year-old who is in love with all things latin involving guitars and good melodies, I played it for her. My daughter loves Mexican cowboy music and is mad for Ritchie Valens, so I played her Trini, to see if she too would dig it. Yes she did. She told her babysitter “I love Lopest (not a typo). Do you love him?" I played her the West Side Story version of America, but she told me she did not like it, she just wanted to hear Trini rock it with the classic sixties latin beat. As I listen to the songs with her, I am reminded how damn good he is. A real entertainer in the best lounge-y sixties folk singer way, so cool and talented. Trini ad libs the lyrics and mixes up the beat, playing guitar while singing, grooving out in his special way.The band, made up of just two guys, is phenomenal. Give the drummer some, people!

I am loving our listen sessions with Trini and I see how much I was influenced by him as a song writer and performer. Yes, my music was a whole different thing, but I took lessons from this guy.

My daughter is nuts for music, very specific music. I expose her to lots of styles and she lets me know what works for her. She rejects many of my favs and really has her own taste. She loves bands and guys with guitars who sing. But when the day is done and I ask her about ladies with guitars, she will always say, You, Mommy. And I say, That’s right, Mommy played guitar in a band and sang and so can you. She used to love my music, but she has outgrown it. If I put it on she’ll ask for Lopez and although my ego is bruised, I comply and we dance our best latin steps and sing along. Ay!



Wednesday, December 12, 2012

lets do it, lets get on a plane.....

So I was born and raised in New York City and I am a bit snobby about it. It is my ONE claim to fame that I did not have to achieve on my own. Being from manhattan is my version of having a rich or famous parent. It is my tiny silver spoon that I can use as defensive armor. I was born here, not a tourist or a wanna be, I am a fucking native.
I know, I know, I have written poetic love stories about the new york of the 70’s, going to Max’s Kansas City at 13 years old, drinking in bars in my early teens when no one in the entire city gave a shit about the legal age. I wrote about seeing all the great new york punk bands live, and seeing them on the streets, seeing the waxy Jim Carroll in my old neighborhood. I‘ve written about being from the last great generation of working class New Yorkers with heavy accents that were formed from our immigrant parents or grandparents, and the way they spoke when they got here from there. Yes, another of my armors, less of a silver spoon, but still a medal of honor- the street cred that we were not the rich New Yorkers, but the real deal. I am the daughter of working class first generation Americans. I had nothing, and got nothing, but I reinvented myself in this beautiful town- so there, motherfuckers! Blab bla bla….
Anyway, its all great, I love my history.
And then I moved to this sunny land of easy living where you can ultimately live the American dream in a mid century modern house with a pool. And, yes it is true, I too hope to own a Neutra one day.

Well, I must confess, I thought I would grow old and die in my rent stabilized new york city one bed room. I had no intention of coming to Los Angeles. I came for love, willing to try it out for a bit and I have now been here one month shy of 10 years! I love Los Angeles! I love New York too. I am thrilled to go home a few times a year. I hate being away from my family and missing the birthdays and the graduations and the funerals, where we all come together. I miss walking down certain streets, and eating in certain restaurants. I miss the people, although so many of them have left. I do not miss the bankruptcy of the heart of my hometown, but I miss the secrets and the underground and the classics and the beauty.

But I live in Los Angeles now and will for many more years. I love Los Angeles. I love leaning out my kitchen window to pick and orange to eat with lunch. I love having a car that I was forced to learn how to drive. I love the sunny sunny days. I adore the rainy season. I love not having any attachment to being a native. And I love going home for the holidays and getting a taste of winter, short and sweet, and then coming back and getting warm, having a swim, wearing bear legs and a cotton dress and putting sunscreen on my daughter.

somebody told me there's a girl out there with love in her eyes and flowers in her hair...


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Vito



Hey kids, I just got the chance to check out the fantastic documentary film Vito, by the fantastic director Jeffrey Schwarz , about the life and times of gay activist Vito Russo. You can find it on HBO. Vito wrote the book The Celluloid Closet and was active in the fight against discrimination. I loved the film and recommend you see it.

The film documents Vitos life, but also the times, and remind us of how much worse discrimination was. It is even more profound considering the fight for civils rights going on right now in the gay marriage dispute. Dear lord, how many times will a man turn his head and pretend that he just doesn’t see? There are human beings out there who still want to call other human beings less-than, second class citizen. Have we learned nothing form the civil rights movement of the 60’s? From the Civil War?

Being from an oppressed minority, I relate to the struggle of all minorities, or I hope to. Women have only had the right to vote for a mere 92 years, dig? What the fuck is wrong with people? Fear. It is that simple. And it is all of our responsibility to fight fear, where ever it rears its hideous head.

In the 1990’s I was lucky enough to be involved in the nyc drag scene and to have gay and lesbian and transgender friends. I knew a few very cool activists. They taught me about the Stonewall riots and Marsha P Johnson. I handed out multi colored condoms on the west side to the drag and transgender prostitutes. My band played the Stonewall benefit and made sure to kiss a girl on stage as an act of defiance and solidarity. Small gestures, but it all adds up. The most important thing I learned was that it is harder for some people to be who they are, because for some, it is unsafe to just walk down the street. It is hard enough to accept ourselves and be in our truth, whatever the fuck that is. No one should have to fight against additional external forces to just be who they are. But we do not live in the perfect word and the struggles continue.
Accept others. It is that simple. Equality for all.!