January 15, 2011
BIG ANNIVERSARY! 16 years ago today I moved to San Francisco! I came
here in a big rainstorm. On the plane, the pilot announced that the
49ers had just won against the Dallas Cowboys. Cheers from the passengers!
A good way to start my SF adventure.
Well, I have to move again. Yes, after only a year. Why? Because
my housemates got tired of listening to my music! Thats it,
for real. It started tentatively, with my downstairs housemate saying
shed been having trouble sleeping, and could I please not sing
in my room past 6 PM? Use the little room next door instead? The one
with no ambience, no view, no purple walls? And then, could I not
play music at all on Sundays? I told her I had to practice cello every
day because I had a recital coming up, but I would use my practice
mute, which cuts the decibel level considerably, and she probably
couldnt hear me at all. But three days later, she told me she
could, and that she thought Id agreed I would skip Sundays.
No, not really. So now I go out of town on Sundays, but without the
cello. And I do sing in my room past 6 PM. (I dont think she
has trouble sleeping.)
So I put an ad on Craigslist saying Im a musician who sings,
plays guitar and cello, good acoustic music, Im easygoing, neat
and clean, love animals, like to party with good people. You want
a creative person in your home? Thats me! So far, no reasonable
responses, and beaucoup spam. I do have a temporary place to stay,
where I can sing and play as much as I want to, but with limited storage
space. So (sigh), that means back to Public Storage. So Im throwing
out big chunks of my life again. This is good. I threw away a whole
box full of notebooks without even looking at them! Well, they were
only little notebooks, but they may have been full of juicy tidbits
of brilliant ideas, or so I thought at the time I jotted them down
in my altered states. But theyre gone with the wind, and I really
dont care. The bigger notebooks, the journals, I do hesitate
to toss. I should at least skim a few before I let them go.
But books almost all of them. And there are dozens of CDs
and old tapes that I feel ready to pass on. And my Halloween and Easter
tchotchkes, my old medical transcriber, and maybe a third of my costumes,
even. Ill feel so much lighter! So I guess this is a blessing,
And through all this, Im putting my performances on hold. I
did sing at a birthday party jam the other day, and thats always
satisfying relaxed, nothing at stake, just creative and fun.
I can drink and toke and not worry about forgetting lyrics once in
a while, whereas when I do a gig I never partake. Gotta stay on top
of those lyrics! Anyway, Im looking forward to playing at Nirvana
again. The last time was my birthday, December 9th, with the Apollo
Jazz guys, a swing band, and they were cookin! We had a good
crowd, I brought a birthday cake decorated with red & green Christmas
lights, and we all had a great time. And afterward, I went out dancing
with a friend and got invited to a terrific New Years Eve party.
Where I sang one song and danced my ass off! One of the best birthdays
Ive ever had.
But now, back to the reality of managing STUFF. And finding a new
domicile. Is there anybody out there in San Francisco who wants a
creative person in their home?
Happy New Year,
November 11, 2010
Okay, its done! I did the show, the night before Halloween.
A few friends, several regular diners, no cover charge. In the future,
well charge, but this was the first time and not everyone there
was coming into the room for the show. A little nervousness on my
part, but not much, as I felt pretty comfortable in that space, surrounded
by trees. Its a beautiful patio, perfect for music. I sang the
Streetcar songs, starting with I Love That Buzz
and What It Does Blanches ode to alcohol -- as
well as one for Stella, Down and Dirty, Nuts & Bolts Need
in which she tells Blanche why she stays with Stanley. And
one for the Flower Woman, who spooks Blanche when she says, Flores
para los muertos! over and over again. The song is called Flowers
for the Dead, and for that one I put a purple shawl over my
head and carried a basket with fake flowers.
These songs are intended for a street theater presentation called
Streetcar on the Street. Its really just songs for
the women in A Streetcar Named Desire, which will be presented
in short scenes when we find a good spot on the pavement somewhere.
I did a costume change, and started the second half of the show dressed
as Blanche in her mad scene just before Stanley
rapes her. I sang Nobody Dances, which I call Blanches
Lament. In it she laments how nobody dances very close to her, or
very long with her, or very far with her. My favorite line in the
song is I knew it all would come to this/But not that this is
all there is!
And then, I Dont Want to Live Here Anymore, which
is a suicide song. Very Brecht-Weill. After that, I continued with
my non-Streetcar repertoire, including Frances is
a Lady, about a trans woman, Comin Thru the Back
Door, and ending with The Dark Angels, a song about
how we all mirror each others dark sides. Perfect for Halloween!
And for a review and photo of the event, heres
a link! Enjoy.
October 26, 2010
Well, folks, I figure its time to revive my blog from its long
vacation! Its been over a year, and Ive been moving, settling
in, rethinking my strategy of how to live the rest of my life. Out
of the dream, into the world an increasingly scary place, to
be sure, but I chose to live on this physical plane, and here I am,
so I might as well make use of it.
So Im starting a new show, Castro Cabaret. Ive
been a fag hag most of my life, so why not start in the heart of gayland?
I found a good pianist on Craigslist, and Im creating a show
with him, a cabaret of mostly my songs, at a cool restaurant in the
heart of the Castro named Nirvana. The owner was enthusiastic when
I suggested the idea of starting live music there. So I stepped out
of my fantasy and Im making it real.
Actually, it was three whole years ago when I first walked into the
place, on Halloween, wearing my Sheena, Queen of the Jungle costume.
I had a pair of pants that look like real snakeskin, and I stuffed
them with paper, fashioned a head with jewel eyes on the end, and
wrapped my snake around my waist, with the help of a wire
attached to a tree which was part of a Carnaval costume
from years back. Id always wanted to be Sheena, a character
I remembered from a comic book and TV show from my childhood. I wanted
a real snake, but Id been told years ago that if I rented a
real one, Id have to drug it, and I thought that would be very
unfair to the snake. So I made one, and it looked pretty damn good!
Anyway, I asked the owner way back then if I could sing there, and
he seemed open to it. But I never went back! Yet another opportunity
I never followed up on; Im amazed at how many people Ive
known have said the same thing.
But a few weeks ago, I got the urge. I thought, I want to do this
for Halloween! I just had to do something different this year, something
other than going to a lame party and getting drunk. So this show is
the night before Halloween, which is the big local Castro Halloween
scene! The one without the bridge-and-tunnel crowd that ruined what
used to be the annual Halloween celebration in the Castro. So the
Saturday before Halloween is the local celebration, which is terrific.
And this year its the night before actual Halloween, which makes
it even more exciting!
So Im going as Blanche DuBois, singing my songs that I wrote
for A Streetcar Named Desire as well as the other favorites,
such as Marijuana Madness, Dinosaur Blues,
and Comin Thru the Back Door, which always get em.
That was a big favorite in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, where once a
year I sing it at a gay bar there. Actually, two of the four verses
in the song are about straight couples!
Okay, its late and Ive got to get my publicity out tomorrow.
Ill report on the gig next time. Its good to be back!
July 11, 2009
RAINBOW BRIDE RETURNS
For the last time, perhaps. I've been doing this for a long time,
folks. Carnaval, too. I absolutely LOVE it, this dancing in parades.
But I'm itching to move on in my life to something more -- well, mature?
Disciplined? Sophisticated? Prosperous? The last item, definitely.
I've been without a job for a few weeks now. Got laid off from a caregiving
job because the elderly man I was caring for once a week (so his wife
could sleep through the night) is now sleeping through the night.
It turns out that saw palmetto is the culprit. I'm happy for her,
and for him, but the only thing I've been able to do to keep body
and soul together is help my girlfriends organize their files. My
friend Linda calls it "personal assistant." At least it
has a name that sounds somewhat important. Like the Jennifer Hudson
character in "Sex and the City" -- the movie, that is. And
it helps to see that other people are even more disorganized than
Actually, I'm not that terribly disorganized physically. I do have
a rather neat room. A purple room. I even got purple flowers two days
ago, what I call "corporate agapanthus." Meaning, I stole
them from Kaiser Permanente. I only took five flowers, from an obscure
strip of their property. Nobody will notice, I assured myself. They
look like fireworks, purple blossoms bursting out away from each other.
So I saved about $6.00. That's what I usually pay for flowers at Trader
Joe's, though I sometimes get them for free from the weekly food giveaway
at the Y.
But I digress. Ah, yes, dancing in parades. Carnaval was as lovely
as always. I dressed in an old costume from Carnaval Past, only this
time with a huge green snake around my waist. I had found the snake
on top of a small newsstand a few months ago -- stuffed, not alive.
I do love live snakes, though, and once I got my picture taken on
the street in New York with two boa constrictors around my shoulders
-- $1.50 for one, $3.00 for two! My green snake has a cute face with
a red tongue hanging out. And lo and behold, the snake and I appeared
on the KRON-4 7:30 news! My friend Linda called to tell me. I had
seen the news story earlier, but had turned it on a few seconds too
late and just missed seeing myself. But I found it on the Web the
next day. I was on for about three seconds, right at the beginning.
Famous for 3 seconds! Fun.
The Pride Parade was fantastic this year, but then it always is.
The weather was perfect, totally sunny with a gentle, cool breeze.
I wore my usual Rainbow Bride costume -- long white skirt and bustier
top with a veil made of strips of rainbow-colored tulle, with my "Dreams
Come True" banner across my chest, and danced alongside and behind
the Out of the Closet thrift shop truck. I filled a pink bag with
condoms to give out, only I didn't throw them at people like confetti.
I went up to the crowd and shouted, "Okay, who are the horniest
people here? Who's gonna really use these? If you take one, remember,
you're making a commitment!" There were the usual eager young
men and women, but you'd be surprised how many elders grabbed 'em.
Now, that I like to see. I know I'll never lose MY libido; that's
what Venus in Scorpio is for.
And again we had Leonardo, a super DJ from L.A. With a music mix
like no other. He is truly an artist. Great dance music. He said he
loved watching me dance. What a compliment, coming from him! We were
number 149 this year, so it was a long wait before we moved out into
the crowd, but it was worth every minute. After the parade, we each
got $20 worth of "Closet Cash" to use at the shop. Last
year I bought a beautiful long forest-green Betsey Johnson dress --
a real prize. (You do know Betsey is my most favorite designer, don't
Well, next year we'll see if Rainbow Bride is still kickin', or has
finally faded away into the costume closet. In the meantime: Opera!
Yes, I've been going to the opera the past couple of months. All this
time I didn't realize I could get a ticket for as little as $15! So
I bought three. "Porgy and Bess" was my favorite. I had
no idea there were so many songs in it -- we only hear the same most
popular ones. What a show! I was totally enchanted with the production,
and the songwriting -- I've always loved Gershwin, but I didn't know
he used three lyric writers for this. It was a totally rich experience.
Then there was Tosca, which I enjoyed, but wasn't as excited about.
I'd never seen that one either. I went with my friend and musical
collaborator, Dan Guaraldi, so that was nice. Then I went alone again
to "La Traviata." It was done in 1920's period, which is
my favorite fashion era, and I absolutely loved it. I dressed up in
Art Deco style, as I do whenever I have an excuse.
Then, of course, the 4th of July. This year I dressed up in red,
white and blue as always, caught Lavay Smith at the Fillmore Jazz
Festival, danced for Mal Sharpe's band at the Savoy Tivoli, then went
down to the Waterfront Festival and danced for several musicians,
ate a hot dog and ice cream cone, missed meeting Linda where we'd
agreed to meet but ran into her just before the fireworks started.
She's uncanny, that girl. She gets me to places I wouldn't go to on
my own, and I know that's good for me. So she gets a special mention
here -- actually, three mentions.
Anyway, it's been a good summer so far. I even got a couple of chances
to sunbathe and swim at Terry's pool. And I will again. I'm determined
to have a REAL summer, even living in San Francisco.
You have one, too, okay?
June 1, 2009
All right, folks, I know it's been over six months since my last
entry. I took a sabbatical, okay? Truthfully, I love writing, and
I wonder myself why I don't write more often. And that includes songs.
I can't answer that right now. I just know I'll be writing more often
now; I really needed that sabbatical.
Just got back from another New York visit. This time I had a gig
in the city, then another one in Ithaca with Bill Ring. We hadn't
sung together in years, and it was really nice to do it again -- and
we had a bass player named Joe who works in a band with Bill (and
a hot chick fiddler named Twy). I'm glad that Bill is performing again.
I'd been wishing he would get his act together for quite some time,
and he has. I'm hoping I can hear them all together next time I visit,
probably in August.
The gig in the city was terrific. We played at Gizzi's, a cool coffee
house in the Village, a happening music spot these days. Peter Pasco,
a consummate songwriter and guitarist, went on first, accompanied
by bass and drums and his girlfriend, Judy, who has the voice of an
angel. Then he backed me up on guitar for my set, and the third set
was Don Turner, a rock guitarist and songwriter, a friend I hadn't
seen for 15 years! He actually found me on MySpace a few months ago,
and arranged the gig. One of his songs in particular, "Still"
-- a beautiful ballad -- just blew me away. I've got to get a recording
of it. Also, Jay Byrd did a couple of his songs with a terrific steel
drum player backing him up. Quite a treat. But the real surprise was
the money. My friend Paulette worked the room with her red hat out
and collected -- for my set alone -- $74! Never in my musical life
have I ever gotten anywhere near that sum from a pass-the-hat gig!
So I gave Peter $25 and took home $49. Truly amazing. But the room
was filled, and another friend, Marlis Momber, a professional photographer,
showed up and took lots of pictures. Hopefully, we'll do this again
this summer, as I'll be going back, probably in August.
The California special election happened while I was away, and I
didn't vote! I've ALWAYS voted, only this time I didn't. I played
hooky from the election. So did a lot of other people, I'm told. I
don't blame them, and I don't blame me, either. It was just too much.
Too confusing. TOO MUCH! We all needed a break. But, as usual, the
rich get richer...You know the drill. The Reagan legacy lives on,
and on, and.....
Yeah, the same people are in control. They get the money, and the
kids get their schools trashed and all our social programs get cut,
and they close the state parks, etc., etc. Can't raise taxes on the
rich; they'll just go somewhere else, and then we'll lose all the
jobs they create, and -- wait, we ARE losing jobs. Hundreds of thousands
of them! And it really doesn't look as though anything is going to
change for the better real soon. Sorry, folks, I'm just not all that
optimistic about our new president and our new congress and our new
prospective woman Justice. The wheels are moving too slowly, and I'm
not sure they're moving in the right direction for now.
I do, however, believe that eventually things will change for the
better, but only when enough human beings on this planet become enlightened.
I mean, Buddha-like. I've actually met or come close to a few of them.
But for now, the world is being run by the young, immature souls.
It's as if we're all in a big karmic school that encompasses pre-school
all the way through graduate school, and the 3-year-olds are in control.
And they have GUNS!
But what the hell, it's all a dream, anyway, right? That's what the
Wise Ones try to tell us. There's a wake-up date sometime for each
of us, and then we'll know what it's all about. As for now, if only
I can get myself to write another song, I'll be pretty darn happy.
I won't let the world get me down. I'm actually having a pretty good
time most days, when I'm not down on myself for not being perfect.
Y'all know what I mean, don't you?
Glad to be back,
Okay, here I am again, two months later. And it's fall. That word
has many connotations for people these days, as in fall of the stock
market, fall of hopes of a comfortable retirement, fall of unrestrained
capitalism. I'm not going to try to comment much on all of this, as
I'm a real dummy when it comes to economics. As a matter of fact,
I just ordered another book from the library. Can you guess what it
is? You got it: "Economics for Dummies"!
Anyway, I never feel ready for fall -- the seasonal kind, that is
(the other falls I've been expecting for ages). I love summer, even
though I live in San Francisco, where summer is a kind of a joke.
It's actually more summer now than it was in July. Or August. So I
spent as much time as I could over the bridge in Marin, where it's
really summer, and took two and a half weeks off to go back East,
where it's also really summer in summer.
Had a good time in New York, as usual. This time my friend Bea was
visiting her daughter on Long Island the same week, and we carried
out our plan to spend a whole day in the City together, doing New
York things. We went to a modern art exhibit at the Jewish Museum,
walked through Central Park and ate hot dogs, took a ride on the Staten
Island Ferry, had dinner in Little Italy, and went up into the Empire
State Building. And what a fiasco that was! It took an hour and a
half just to get up there! Now that the Twin Towers aren't there,
everybody goes to the Empire State Building again. We were herded
like cattle in three separate lines on three floors. Going through
security was worse than a crowded airport. Then they took everybody's
picture as they went through, so Bea and I stuck out our tongues when
they took ours! Oh, yeah, it was worth going; the view, of course,
was terrific. And it was nighttime, quite spectacular. The whole day
was really quite special. VERY New York.
Then I went to see my sister in Maryland, and she and I went to Dewey
Beach, Delaware, where the guys -- her ex and two other friends --
had secured a really groovy beach house for a week. We do this every
year, and it's really fun. This year the weather was better, and the
beach was really nice. In the evenings we watched the Democratic Convention
and ate the BEST seafood. The only glitch was, I didn't get to sing
at Partners, as I have for the past two years. I got there too late!
I thought they'd be open till 1 or 2 AM, but they closed before midnight.
Last year it was a Saturday night, earlier in the season, and this
year we went later, just before Labor Day. On a Thursday night. Too
bad; I always enjoy that place.
A really nice moment, though, was when my sister Amy and I went out
to the beach at twilight and scattered the remainder of my mother's
ashes on the sand and surf. Then Amy went for a swim while I stayed
on the beach, and she shouted out, "Let's dance!" And we
did, she in the water and me on the sand. We had participated in an
ashes ceremony on my mother's church grounds in May, with my other
sister Jane, but we decided we just had to save some for the beach,
as my mother always loved it so. When we were kids, she saved money
every year so we could spend three weeks at the beach in August. And
we took her there every year in her last days, right up to the end.
Another really special moment was when I connected with my two best
friends from high school, whom I hadn't seen in something like 20
years. We met for lunch and spent 2 1/2 hours together. They are the
same wonderful people they have always been, and it was great to be
reminded of that. I'll see them both again in December for sure.
Yes, I had a really good vacation, and did my best to extend it when
I got home, going out to San Anselmo and hanging out at my friend
Terry's pool, drinking gin and tonics and eating Trader Joe's hors
d'oeuvres, which I've done as much as possible over the past few months.
Oh, and Terry and I went to see my cousin Mariah in "Tony 'n
Tina's Wedding" at Pier 39. It's a dinner theater event, a mock
wedding and reception, full of crazy antics and lots of songs (that
Terry knows all the lyrics to!), with full audience participation,
which, ham that I am, I always love. My cousin played a bridesmaid
who sang two songs -- very well, too -- and acted ditzy and looked
really hot. We had a blast!
The "official" end-of-summer happening, though, is always
the Gatsby Summer Afternoon, the big Art Deco Society event, which
I absolutely adore. This year I wore a delicate black-and-white dress
that my mother wore as a teenager! What an honor that was. I took
my guitar, and went around to various little picnics and sang my Gatsby
song. And danced, and met friends, who offered me a ride home, but
I didn't want to leave that early, and figured I could easily get
a ride to the Bart later. And, walking out to the parking lot, not
knowing who I'd get a ride with, thinking, well, I'll just leave it
up to Fate, I met a man......
But that's another story. Maybe.....
Till we meet again.....
August 5, 2008
Okay, here I am again, late as usual. The worst thing that's happened
this past month happened the day after I wrote my last blog entry.
I lost my glasses! In my apartment! I couldn't find them in the morning,
and the next day, and the next, and -- THEY'RE STILL MISSING! Over
a month later! I consulted my friend Marcia in Hawaii, who once found
something for me that I'd lost, I mean psychically. This time she
said, "I'm getting that they're in a pocket of something."
Well, I looked in every pocket I own, combed my room completely two
or three times, looking in every corner, nook and cranny, looked in
my closet thoroughly, in all the pockets of all my garments and bags,
the bathroom, the kitchen, the hall closet, even in the garage, though
I know I didn't go down there the night before I found them missing.
Okay, I do have another pair of glasses. And I had cataract surgery
last year, so I can see pretty well without them. But I have astigmatism,
and the glasses I have are too strong to see my cello music with ease.
So I really miss my good glasses! But if they've really disappeared
into the ether, it's only an inconvenience. I am reminded how very
lucky I am to have had the surgery! Somehow my cataracts evolved faster
than my mother's, maybe a decade or more sooner, and I was able to
have the surgery done at good ol' SF General, where I've always been
treated with respect. And get this -- the bill for ONE eye was $14,000!!!
But I only had to pay $150!!! That's San Francisco for ya, sliding
scale for us poor artists. I never did get a bill for the second eye,
probably because I got enrolled in Healthy San Francisco, paid for
by a surcharge on restaurants. The thing about the $14,000 that gets
me is: The surgery itself was billed at $3,000, the recovery room
(an hour and a half) at $2,000, and the anesthesia -- which I was
told by the nurse-anesthetist who gave me the shot that it was the
equivalent of a Valium -- was $4,000!!! Is there something out of
whack here? Go figure.
I'm considering paying a professional psychic to find my glasses
for me -- as long as they don't charge more than a new pair of glasses!
And the best thing that's happened in the past month? I think my
performance at the San Francisco Starlight Orchestra dance August
2nd. I sang three solos, including Alan Hall's brand-new arrangement
of my song, "Gatsby Summer Afternoon." I think I sang better
than I ever have with this band, and I deserved to, having worked
on my voice lessons for over a year now. Finally something clicked
-- my intonation improved, I'm singing easier, sounding better. And
-- this is the clincher -- a fan, an attractive older man with a charming
younger wife who's been around the early-jazz and Art Deco scene for
years -- came up to me, pressed a bill into my hand, and told me how
much he's enjoyed my singing over the years, and this was a tip in
appreciation. I thanked him, went back to my seat, looked at the bill,
and wow -- it was $100! That's definitely the biggest tip I've ever
received! I went back and told him how grateful I was and that he'd
really given me a boost, some real encouragement. I told him I'd been
taking voice lessons and he said it really shows. So I feel I'm on
the right track for sure! No more excuses.
I just had a thought -- maybe we get tips all the time and don't
realize it. They're just in disguise. What if I saw everything that's
happening to me as a kind of gift? Yeah,even if it hurts? That it's
there to heal me in some way? Leading me to something better, even
if I don't always see it? It may sound corny and New-Agey, but it
just could be true. I think it depends on how I choose to see it.
Well, I somehow believe my glasses will return to me, probably when
I least expect it. I'll keep on looking here and there, visualizing
wearing them again, and maybe find that professional psychic. Anybody
out there got a hunch? Just asking.
July 1, 2008
Well, here I am again, late as usual. Two more parades have passed
by, with me in them, of course. The first was Carnaval, and this year
I went as a sort of Mae West figure, in a slinky white lace dress
with only flesh-colored panties underneath, a huge purple hat with
a white ostrich feather, purple boa, and the infamous pasties. I say
infamous because last year I wore pasties with my mermaid costume
when I danced with Mo'Love, a contingent with a lot of kids and adults
dressed as sailors and pirates. Well, this year I tried to sign up
with them again, desiring to be a sexy pirate. (I was a sexy sailor
two years ago.) They e-mailed me back saying that they were more of
a "kiddie Carnaval" and that maybe I should join a more
"mature" contingent. I got it: the pasties last year were
too much for them! I had scared the kiddies. So I did indeed find
a "mature" contingent, a group of Brazilian dancers. I fit
right in. And the friend who invited me took some great pictures.
And the band was great. And the weather was perfect. And this time
I covered the pasties with purple glitter! Being in the Mission, it
was, for the most part, a very Catholic audience, so I probably scared
a few kiddies and upset some old ladies. But I like to think I helped
some young boys become men! In spite of the Catholic Church.
The second parade was the biggest of all: SF Pride! I went, as usual,
as the Rainbow Bride (so named because of the veil, with strips of
colored tulle; check the Archives for her entry into the world), this
time in a 1920's-style beaded lace dress that I thought I might someday
actually get married in. Though I've pretty much given up that idea.
Getting married at all, I mean. I'm passionate about marriage rights
for OTHER people, but marriage -- wow. Let the others do it; I don't
think I could handle it. Anyway, this year I made a purple banner
that said, "DREAMS COME TRUE!" I held it up a lot, realizing
that it was the most important part of my costume. I danced with the
Out of the Closet Thrift Shop folks, as I did last year, alongside
and behind their truck. This year they had a dynamite DJ, Leonardo,
from L.A. Great mix. I tried to wave my banner for the crowds on both
sides of the street, moving from one side to the other. Especially
when somebody in our group was giving out free stuff (T-shirts, hats,
and condoms). When you're performing in a parade, you DON'T want to
dance right behind the guy who's giving free stuff out, because nobody
will see you. It's truly amazing how absolutely CRAZY people get when
anything is being given out for free! So I had to keep remembering
to move over to the opposite side of the street, as sort of a consolation
prize to the people who didn't get any free stuff. At least I could
make sure they remained entertained.
Rainbow Bride also participated in the first full day of same-sex
weddings at City Hall. I went to join my fellow Unitarian-Universalists
to give out cupcakes to the newlyweds. What a happy scene! I attended
a wedding of two gentlemen at the top of the stairs, presided over
by my minister, Greg Stewart. It was just lovely, and afterward we
shared a delicious rainbow wedding cake. There were weddings all over
the place, applause breaking out on a balcony here and a balcony there.
And a string quartet playing on the main floor. And lots of press
people, and civilians like me, taking lots of pictures of the couples.
Great fun, real sweet.
Okay, that's all you get for now. I'll be back, don't know when.
And to you gay lovebirds: Y'all get married now, ya hear?
Love and Kisses,
May 20, 2008
Well, I suppose if I can get out one entry a month, that's a lot
better than every FEW months. I don't write many e-mails, either.
I'm still a Luddite, and the computer still feels unnatural to me.
And some days/weeks/months, it's just hard to feel inspired, especially
when you're not getting feedback. But that's my fault; I'm not reaching
out very far into Cyberspace -- to you, whoever you might be, reading
But I did feel inspired yesterday, at the annual Bay to Breakers
race. This year I decided not to sing on Hayes Street Hill, as I have
been doing for many years. I wanted to "play hooky" and
walk it -- in costume, of course. I wore a red sequined body suit
with a ruffled "tail," red fishnets stockings, a fuzzy red
fedora hat and 1940's-style red jacket with black tassels (which I
lost along the way!). I walked almost the whole length of the route,
stopping to dance for the various bands (not many at all!), including
Groovy Judy, who was hotter than I've ever seen or heard her before.
What a gal! Terrific performer, terrific band. She just never slows
down for a second.
Great costumes, as always. I loved the Viking ship, and the salmon
"swimming upstream," though this year I caught them at the
end of their run, coming out of a bar. (They take the phrase "drink
like a fish" literally.) There was a guy wearing shorts &
T-shirt with the sales tags still on, Minnie Pearl-style. As I suspected,
he told me he was going to take them back to the store the next day.
We all gotta save money these days! Then there was the muff diver,
a guy with two female legs in a V on his chest, with a tangle of plastic
pubic hair between them, hungrily chomping away. And the nudies, of
course, though I didn't see too many. One of them had a purple penis
with a rubber band around it.
Lots and lots of beer, of course. I bought a couple, but also got
some free, one for a sweet, robbin'-the-cradle kiss. And a free Screwdriver.
When I finished that, I held out my empty cup at a group keg, one
of the many traveling along. I thought for sure I'd get a hit from
the pump. But one of the guys refused, saying, "We're not that
nice." And that's not all. After that, he said, "We have
beer in here, not crack." Now, even I couldn't have thought up
a line like that! These jocks thought I looked like a CRACKHEAD? Wow.
A red-sequined crackhead -- never heard of one of those! I guess that
proves just how creative assholes can be.
Ah, but I got loads of approval to make up for that lame diss. I
kept being surprised how many people loved my costume. Like, it wasn't
CLEVER or anything; just hot, I guess. And when I got to Hayes Street
Hill, I didn't miss Constance singing there, so I guess almost nobody
else did, either. (Well, I would hope somebody would!) So I didn't
have to feel guilty about playing hooky. One thing I did notice, though.
The last couple of times I sang there, the crowd was thinning out
by around 10:30. I know because I packed up and went to an 11:00 church
service after. And this year, I passed that spot around 11 or so,
and looked back several blocks later, and they were still coming strong
at the top of the hill. So the race must have been substantially larger
this year -- unless everybody was just slower, which I doubt.
But the whole event was a major up for me. It even made me feel as
though there's hope for us humans yet. If we can keep on doing things
like this -- get out, get in costume, revel it up like mad -- we may
just survive the insanity that threatens to recreate the dinosaurs'
fate (only this time from within rather than without!). There is just
nothing like a huge crowd of joyful people being silly and fun. And
you see? It got me writing another blog entry. Now, that's something.
Cheers, Beers, No Tears,
Can you believe this? A whole month has gone by! So much for my resolution
to write a new blog every week. This time I'm blaming it on the day
job. But I made a decision about two weeks ago. More or less, it's
"Take this job and shove it!" Not that the job is so bad,
but I'm just SICK of being exploited by greedy capitalists!!! After
seven and a half years, and a 25% increase in the cost of living in
San Francisco, we got a 3.25% raise! I'm through with this shit.
And what do you know? I got an e-mail a few days later from an old
friend I haven't seen in 13 years saying she was coming to the Bay
Area to give a presentation about BioPro, a company selling products
that counteract the very serious damage being done by the high frequencies
radiating from your computer, your cell phone, wi-fi, even your hair
dryer! With a great multi-level business opportunity for anyone who
wants to turn people on to this stuff. And who wouldn't, whether you
want to do the business thing or not? The danger is very real, and
the remedy exists. And the opportunity is there, for me and my friends.
And you. I'll let you know when I get set up with it.
I just read a really good new book -- fun, and serious at the same
time: "Helping Me Help Myself," by Beth Lisick. She decided
to try a variety of self-help books and courses, all within one year,
then write about them. There are some good tips in it, as well as
some very funny scenes. It got me thinking about my life and death
even more than usual. (Really? Aren't I always obsessed with these
thoughts?) I realized it's strange that people are so afraid of death.
When you really think about it, death is the one thing NOT to be afraid
of. You'll be OUT of this insane world; it's LIFE that's full of horrors.
Of course, if you believe in Hell, and you feel guilty, well......can't
help you there. Try going to a Unitarian-Universalist church, and
maybe you'll snap out of it. (Full disclosure: I'm a member of said
church.) But really, I look forward to death. Not that I'm in a hurry;
I want to accomplish some things, leave a bunch of great songs behind.
Unfortunately, I believe in reincarnation, and I REALLY don't want
to be a baby again, and have to go to school, get my heart broken,
etc., etc. And from what I understand, you have to get pretty darn
enlightened in this life to avoid that. And as much progress as I've
made spiritually, I still feel a long way from enlightenment. But
it'll be nice to have a rest on the other side, zip around on the
Astral, zero gravity and all that. At least for a while.
Lately I've been thinking about my Dionysian nature. I realized that
I am: a Dionysian woman! Yes, a woman who loves celebration, excitement,
creativity. Has a hard time with routine. Can't stand being stuck;
gotta keep moving, growing, changing. This is not easy when you're
bogged down in the same old, same old. It helps to get into altered
states at times, of course. But even better, to get stimulated by
other people's creativity. I had a good day last week when I went
to the Anna Halprin exhibit at Yerba Buena and watched a video of
this wonderful 80-something legendary dancer get herself painted blue
with twigs in her hair and hunker down in nature, describing her feelings
to the videographer, talking about how "this old body is beautiful,
like the old rocks." And it was! I decided to buy the video;
it actually made me feel less afraid of growing old.
Then, after my Duncan dance class, I went to see my German voice
teacher, Andrea Fultz, in a fantastic performance at the Red Poppy
Art House, a warm, cozy room in the Mission filled with about 60 people.
It was called "The German Projekt," and she sang a whole
bunch of German songs with an incredible small band which included
an accordion (one of my favorite instruments, by the way). What an
inspiration that girl is for me! She's a great teacher and a great
singer. She moved her arms around in the most beautiful ways, and
I could see she was loving every moment of her performance. And the
next day, when I was performing with the Apollo Jazz Band at Jelly's
(Pier 50), I felt freer and more fluid than usual, daring to move
MY arms more. I have no trouble dancing with freedom, but singing
is another thing, and she taught me to be more free that way. Thanks,
Andrea! And a thank you also to the five or six people who came as
a result of the e-mail I sent; I actually made some money! Very encouraging
Okay, so I'll try to write more often, as I've said many times before.
At least Bill Ring has been taking up the slack for me; he's been
pouring forth with prolific prose. Maybe he'll even write another
fine song again one of these days.
Cheers, no fears,
Well, they found my glasses! No actual apology, but I don't care,
I've got mine, no $69 knockoffs. But this new prescription (to correct
my astigmatism) allows me to see my music really well! The first prescription
was too strong. These are just right, and I can play cello more easily
now! That's a great blessing, believe me.
We had our voice workshop performance, at the Starbuck's with a stage,
and it was really fun and I didn't sing perfectly but it was good
for me and I'll get a DVD of the show. I was the songwriter of the
group, and I talked to one of the barristas, Sandy, about playing
there in the future. She told me she loved my song, "Mama, Does
It Have to Be Tonight?" -- the one I wrote when my mother was
in her decline. I had introduced it by saying here is a song that
Baby Boomers can relate to. But Sandy is younger, and her mother has
Alzheimer's, and the song had an impact on her. So it's not only for
Baby Boomers after all.
Then last Tuesday I went to the new San Francisco Yoshi's for the
first time, to hear Holly Cole, whom I have always thought was unique
and terrific. She was fantastic, and I loved the new Yoshi's! I was
really impressed. Unfortunately, I spilled a beer on a woman who was
seated at my table! Well, what can you do but apologize and call for
napkins? I didn't let it upset me too much; I was determined to enjoy
the performance. And I took the opportunity to ask someone about seeing
Holly after the show to ask if I can send her some songs. I did meet
her manager and he gave me his card. And I stayed for the second set,
which they'll let you do there if the second show isn't filled. While
waiting in line, I met a nice young man named Anthony, and we struck
up a lively conversation, and ended up sitting together, and he bought
me a Manhattan. It was worth hearing the songs again. Holly Cole is
truly amazing; there's no one like her. I bought her new CD the next
day. I would be thrilled to hear her sing one (or more) of my songs!
Then Thursday was Dan Guaraldi's birthday, and after taking him and
his folks to a nursery for him to buy geraniums, I ended up spending
the whole evening with him after the folks left. I gave him two shirts
and a little cheesecake, and he was more excited about the cheesecake
than the shirts! He rented a weird fantasy movie, "Stardust,"
and we watched that. Not very good, though. Also, I thought it was
a very gay movie. Dan didn't think so until a scene in which Robert
De Niro appeared in a dress! After that, I took him to dinner at our
favorite Chinese retaurant.
One more thing: Linda Lewin's interview with me just appeared in
the latest San Francisco Folk Music Club newsletter, the Folknik.
I wasn't expecting it to come out for another two months. We'll put
it on the website soon. Now I'm feeling pressure to get more gigs
-- "folky" ones rather than the early jazz -- though, as
Holly Cole demonstrates, you don't really have to divide your music
up into categories if you're unique and terrific -- so I'll do my
best to be both.
Cheers & Beers,
Okay, so I've been playing hooky again. Heavy work schedule, bouts
of fatigue, lots of great ideas and no place to put them at the moment.
I took my glasses in to a new optometrist who had filled a prescription
for me a few weeks before, to change to a new prescription. A week
and a half later they called and left a message: "We have the
lenses for your glasses. Bring in your frames and we'll put them in."
I called back to say, "You HAVE my frames; I brought them in
over a week ago." Well, it seems they lost my glasses! The two
women who work there, Daisy and Violet (I swear), kept saying things
like, "We've never lost a pair of glasses," and "IF
you brought them in...." Nobody could remember having received
them, and they were implying that I was lying, that I never did bring
in the glasses. Then they offered me a pair of frames, but only if
they cost $69 or less! I told them my frames were worth more, and
the doctor himself said, "Used frames are worth nothing to us."
Well, they were worth something to me! They lost MY glasses and tried
to get me to believe they were doing ME a favor by giving me a cheap
pair of frames! Violet was very bitchy about it; poor Daisy finally
said, "We always have trouble when somebody brings their own
frames in. We're never going to do that again!"
After an extended argument, I went down the street to my dance class.
I told my teacher about it, and she said that often she has walked
by the optometrist and observed people inside arguing. I can believe
that, and I'll bet one of those people is Violet, every time. What
a feisty bitch! And the doctor had been so friendly the first time
I went there, that I thought, I'll tell my friends about this place.
Well, needless to say, he's lost my business and any future referrals.
What ever happened to "The customer is always right"?
I just needed to vent a little about that. I keep forgetting that
the whole world is crazy and you can't expect sanity on this planet.
If you find it anywhere, it's probably only temporary. This is not
being negative, really; it's just being observant and practical. I'm
very familiar with my own insanity and the insanity of the people
I know, but not so with the insanity of strangers. I keep being surprised,
but of course I shouldn't be.
I did another gig with the San Francisco Starlight Orchestra. It
was lots of fun, as usual. At intermission I sang "My Funny Valentine"
with part of the band and it went very well. I could have gotten a
good recording of it (albeit on a small tape recorder), except that
I had left the recorder on a table, and because it was intermission,
the people at the table talked all the way through it. Oh, well, at
least I know I sang on pitch.
I'm finishing up a performance workshop at the Voice Studio, which
teaches Speech Level Singing. A great technique; I haven't mastered
it yet. It's a fun workshop, eight weeks, and I just had a private
lesson. It's a slow learning process, but I'm making progress. I'll
be singing three songs at the performance on March 2nd -- at a Starbuck's
with a stage! Haven't seen the place yet, and I never heard of a Starbucks
with a stage. Should be a unique experience, for sure.
I'll try to keep up the weekly thing after this; I forget how FAST
time goes these days! Even young people are saying that, I've heard.
It seems the pace of the world is accelerating. I just hope I can
accelerate my creative progress. I am feeling more positive, in spite
of the insanity around me.
Till next week (I hope!),
Okay, so it's been more than a week. I'm moody, as most artists are,
and sometimes I just don't feel I have much to say. But maybe a writer's
real job is not so much what to say as how to say it. A good writer
can make any situation sound interesting. But I'm a songwriter, and
so I'm used to relying on melody and rhyme. I've written a few poems
here and there, and I've enjoyed the freedom of not being tied to
rhyme or music. But the song is really my art form.
I will say that I'm hiding aspects of my life that I'd like to share,
but that would involve exposing certain people's privacy, including
my own. And I tend to be a tad paranoid regarding the powers that
be in the world. Well, it's damn scary out there! I just finished
a great book, Paul Krugman's "The Conscience of a Liberal."
A good bit of history of the last century in there, stuff I never
quite understood before. Now I'm reading "Debunking 9/11 Debunking,"
by David Ray Griffin. Now, that's a real thought-provoker. I'll say
no more about that right now.
Meanwhile, on the home front, the Queen Bee has been absent for a
few days. I wonder if she's already burned out at her caregiving job,
or if she's been given a leave of absence because she freaked out
my roommate ("Altar Boy") big time. He went over the edge
a bit. That's all I'll say about that, too. Anyway, because of what's
been happening here, I've been wondering again just where I am on
the Section 8 housing list. When I applied for it seven or eight years
ago, I was number ten thousand plus. (For those who don't know, Section
8 is a government housing subsidy, on which you never have to pay
more than a third of your income on rent.) Ah, to have my own place!
But I'm not disabled and I don't have children, so I'm still waiting.
As I said before, it's getting very crowded in this flat.
But I've been practicing cello every day, and getting back to practicing
my song repertoire with guitar. I signed up at my church to donate
my services as "party entertainment" for a silent auction.
I wonder if anyone will respond. I tried to describe my song styles,
and mentioned that my Christmas song, "Rejoice! The Season Is
Upon Us!" was performed by the choir on December 23rd. (I got
the recording of the service with the song in it, and they did a great
job! Wish I could have been there.)
So I'm plugging away at my music, and performing occasionally. That's
okay, but I sure do want more. I found a piece of paper from a fortune
cookie the other day which said, "Focus on your long-term goal.
Good things will soon happen."
Okay, my job is to believe it. And keep practicing.
Till next time,
Cheers, no fears,
January 09 2008 Blog
Wow. It's been quite a week. Big upheaval at home. My landlady, 91
years old, is failing bit by bit, another stroke, probably, in a wheelchair
now. Her lovable dysfunctional family had a conference, and it was
decided to bring in my roommate's niece, the only grandchild (of four
children) to act as live-in caregiver. So she's moving in -- on my
floor, the upper of this duplex, into the front room, which my roommate
(hereafter Altar Boy, as the only remaining Catholic of the four kids)
and I have used as our common room for 10+ years. Her mother is the
one who tried, twice, to evict me, quite illegally, the last time
a few years ago. I, of course, found out what my San Francisco tenant
rights were, which are considerable, and was assured I can pretty
much stay here as long as I want to. I'm calling the niece the Queen
Bee, which I heard Altar Boy refer to her as.
Anyway, Queen Bee buzzed up the stairs and immediately took complete
possession of our common space. Meaning I had to clear out all my
possessions from the big walk-in closet I was given for storage. Now
all my stuff is in the garage (which the Tenants' Union told me is
illegal!). No problem, really -- that is, when I finally get the key
to the garage that I've been promised, whenever that will be. But
Altar Boy told me that the Queen is planning to renovate the whole
flat -- that is, take over the floor! Apparently she's an obsessive
neat freak, or a wannabe interior decorator, whatever. Fine with me,
as long as I don't have to do it. (Actually, I myself have "taken
over the floor" many times, John Travolta style, at clubs, parties,
that kind of thing, doing my wild dance performance art. So I shouldn't
begrudge her acting out her fantasy.)
Well, everybody's talking about Change these days, so I guess I should
be glad I'm in the groove. Now I have to rearrange my tiny room, to
accommodate the things I can't keep in the garage. Like my guitar,
my cello, my TV. It's getting pretty damn crowded in here. I think
I need a feng shui expert to advise me. In fact, I realized how powerful
that stuff is when the Queen Bee asked (or rather told) me to remove
the mirror I had placed at the top of the stair landing to allow the
chi to flow, so she could paint the hallway. Every time I went up
the stairs with the mirror gone, I felt stifled, whereas with the
mirror there, I had felt a flowing, welcoming feeling -- I guess that's
how I'd describe the difference. Anyway, it will be going back in
its place when the hallway is painted. I made that very clear.
There are some good things happening, though. This past weekend I
had two gigs, and got paid for both! Now, that's a Change. This was
with two different bands I've been sitting in with for some time now
-- 10 years or so with the Apollo Jazz Group and two years with the
San Francisco Starlight Orchestra. I sang six songs with each band.
I was thinking how I seem to be doing long apprenticeships in my life,
and maybe now I can be a real professional in these areas. I sure
hope so. All that means, really, is getting paid. And getting out
more and getting heard. Which I have been doing, and it feels great.
Till next time,
Change and Cheers,
December 30 2007
Okay, it's been ten days, more than a week. I'm still on vacation.
When I was in New York, I saw an ad on the subway, with a picture
of a guy hanging on to the outside of the train. The text said, This
could be the last ride of his life. Get in the train, not on it.
What are people riding on the outside of the train now? Have
things gotten that desperate at rush hour? Or is this a new form of
entertainment for the kids?
Just before Christmas, I caught a cold or whatever it was.
No congestion, no sneezing or mucus. I just felt lousy. Of course
I used my favorite medicines, so I managed okay. By Christmas I felt
better and was getting over whatever it was, but two days later I
started sneezing, and then I was blowing my nose every ten minutes.
Was it one infection on top of another? The same one, with symptoms
in reverse order? I'm just hoping the infections are all coming at
once so I won't have to deal with them the rest of the winter.
For Christmas I got a digital camera. I'd been using the throwaway
cheapies for years now. So now this infamous Luddite is being pushed
into the modern age. I'll learn how to use it soon, I promise. Good
Christmas, great food, loving company. Then the long trek to my other
sister's house, from Vermont to Maryland, stopping in New York State
on the way back. Lots of driving (all by my sister; I don't drive),
lots of extra miles from missing turnoffs. On the way up to Vermont,
we stayed in Connecticut, and it took us NINE HOURS to get there!
We should have been in Burlington by then! Saturday holiday traffic.
When I was a kid, I always got a doll for Christmas, my favorite
toy. I was really into dolls then, and now I collect them. This year
I was given one that looks like a black Shirley Temple. Adorable.
I named her Shirleshia Tempest. Then I bought a Betty Boop in a purple
sequined gown, red hat, and purple boa, and yesterday I found an antique
Indian doll for $20 at a thrift shop! She's definitely worth way more
than that. A beautiful doll, very old, a real find.
Today I'll be going to a party and I'll play some of my music. Then
tomorrow I have an eight o'clock flight, so I have to get up at 5:00.
Then I'll be celebrating New Year's with one of my exes, a very dear
Soooo.....Happy New Year Everybody!!!
Cheers, Beers and Champagne,
December 20 2007
On vacation again. I just spent six days in New York City visiting
friends. I went up to Rockefeller Center, as I do every year, to see
the big Christmas tree. Only this year it was different. The blue
lights, which are usually the dimmest and hardest to see from a distance,
were the brightest of all the lights on the tree. I could tell it
was a new kind of tree light, out this year. A week ago I had noticed
some unusually bright blue lights (or were they purple?) along Fillmore
street. nyway, I was marveling at the intensity of these blue lights
on the Big Tree, when I noticed the signs: Swarovski (a jewelry company,
if you didn't know). The Rockefeller Christmas tree has a corporate
sponsor this year! And what color is the Swarovski logo? You guessed
it blue. I don't remember anything like this last year. No
corporate logos. Last year the tree looked as it always has, with
a nice blend of traditional colors in its lights. This year? Dominated
by blue a very bright blue. I wouldn't be surprised if the
execs at Swarovski had submitted a plan to make all of the tree lights
blue! With enough money at stake, could it have been done? I didn't
spend much time hanging around that tree this year; it just didn't
feel the same. Instead, I went down to Macy's and had a beer at their
Bar and Grille. Ten dollars with tax and tip. Then I bought one gift
Now I'm at one sister's house and will be going to my other sister's
in a couple of days, driving up to Vermont, for the usual white Christmas
at the ski resort. I don't ski: I'm a serious dancer, so I don't dare.
But they're avid ski fanatics, so I just get cozy in the condo while
they're out there in their snowy ecstasy. In the meantime, I just
trimmed the tree here, my second trimming of the season. When I get
there, I'll be trimming theirs, and I trimmed my own tree nearly two
weeks ago! I love it.
And this Sunday, the 23rd, my San Francisco church (Unitarian-Universalist)
choir will perform my song, Rejoice! The Season Is Upon Us!
at the morning service. It was arranged by Ralph William Zeitlin,
my dearest friend in the world, for choir, with bells, drum and organ.
I won't be there to hear it, but I will get a recording. Can't wait
to hear it! Here are the lyrics:
Rejoice! The Season Is Upon Us!
Watch the lonely people mingle,
Hear the lively metal jingle,
Feel your toes a-tingling,
Rejoice! The Season is upon us!
Hark, the herald angels singing,
Lo! The Army's bells are ringing.
Can't you tell that they are bringing joy?
The Season is upon us!
Rejoice and be of good cheer,
Rejoice that Christmas is here.
Go on, let go of those fears
You've struggled with all through the years.
If your life is full of lies or
If you've always been a miser,
Now's your chance to make a wiser choice.
The Season is upon us!
Here's good will for every comer,
Peace to last you through the summer.
Ye who hear a different drummer,
Rejoice! The Season is upon us!
Rejoice and be of good cheer,
Rejoice that Christmas is here,
Until the Spirit appears
To live in you all through the years.
Shall we hang the mistletoe ring?
Oh, my God, I think it's snowing!
Feel the love within you growing.
Sing! The Season is upon us!
Change your life and make it snappy.
What's it take to make you happy?
When your gifts are all unwrapped,
Rejoice! The Season is upon you!
(c) Constance Taylor
Cheers and Happy Holidays,
December 11 2007 Blog
Okay, here I am, back again a week later! Wow for me.
I just had a birthday. And a party. No band this time; they all had
gigs way upstate. Good for them. But I did a lot of singing with guitar,
and a very quiet and listening audience. And one new super-fan who
kept asking for more, more, more! That's what makes me happy. At this
point in my meager career, those few special people get free CDs.
The day after the party, my real birthday, I met three friends to
see Mae West's play, "Sex," which played for a year on Broadway
before she got busted for obscenity and spent a few days in jail.
The real reason they busted her, though, was because she was about
to produce her next play, "The Drag," about drag queens,
and that was just a little too much for the powers that be in 1926!
Anyway, I started out a little too late to travel on public trans,
and I got there five minutes late and they had locked the front door!
I banged on the door and the staff came out and let me in, but not
into the theatre. They made me wait until intermission out in the
hall, albeit with a listening device so I could at least hear the
play. They said because it was in the round, the actors had to enter
from all the aisles and I couldn't be seated. So after intermission,
I met my friends who had been, of course, worried about me, and I
saw the second half. It was fantastic, and I was sorry I'd missed
half the action.
But afterward, my dear friend Bea took me to dinner at the Sheba
Lounge, a restaurant with a piano bar but without a pianist that night.
We had some delicious Ethiopian food, and when I told the owner it
was my birthday, she gave us a free dessert -- cappuccino sundaes
with a lit candle on mine. Very sweet! So I had a really good birthday
after all. And I found out they have a pianist who can read lead sheets
on open mic night. So I can try out my "cabaret" songs (I
decided to call all my songs accompanied by piano "cabaret"
for an easy classification) until I have my own pianist and an act
together, which is my latest desire. Then I can add a bassist, and
go from there. I really prefer not playing an instrument when I sing;
singing is enough of a challenge in itself.
And I have another CD coming out in a week! It's a collaborative
effort; I only have two songs on it, and I sing harmony on one other.
But Dan Guaraldi and friends are really doing it -- after two years.
The only thing I don't like about it is the title: "Before and
After." Dan didn't get my approval on it, and insisted on using
that title. My complaint is that it doesn't mean a damn thing. Before
and after what? I would have preferred another title he was considering:
"Time Out." As in, it's about time this damn CD came out!
But he insisted on being stubborn, so "Before and After"
is the name of the CD. Bug.
But it's got four actual songs, and an instrumental, and several
stories with music behind them -- "music theater" is what
Dan calls it. He's been doing this stuff for years. Me, I'd rather
have the music in the words themselves, and that's why I'm a songwriter
and not a storyteller. But these three guys -- Dan, Dave, and George,
are very good at this.
Okay, it's midnight, and I have to start packing for my trip back
East. This time New York, Maryland, and Vermont (with the usual white
I'll be back with more next week. Have fun shopping.
December 2007 Blog
Well, folks, I'm back. It's been a long hiatus, I know. I just couldn't
seem to keep my promise to write a new one every month.
So I'm giving myself a new assignment: I'm going to write something
every week! This is a new one for me. I always tended to be a short-piece
writer, as in songs, poems, columns. Yes, I've written two in my time;
one, so far back I can't admit when, and the other, well, in publications
other than, shall we say, family-oriented ones. So this will be my
new weekly column, though I have no idea if anyone out there is interested
enough to keep up with a weekly. But I will! I won't give myself a
word quota though, at least at first, so I can be as flaky as I want
to be as long as I write something.
Where to start? First, some catching up: What I did on my summer
I went to my family reunion. In Portland. It was going to be in Idaho,
where my father grew up, but the Idaho fires were so bad we had to
relocate. So I joined lots of cousins and we did it, after seven years.
Good people, had a good time. Afterward, my sis and her boyfriend
and I went up to Mt. St. Helens, an awesome sight! I had never seen
a real volcano before, and this one is -- get this -- always erupting.
It spews out truckloads of ash every day, and the smoke is always
rising out of this magnificent piece of nature. And the movie of the
eruption -- wow! And the devastation, and the survivor stories. Really
worth the visit.
We took a red-eye from Portland to Maryland, where my sister lives,
and she and I and her boyfriend went to the beach, where we stayed
in a condo for a week with two other wild and crazy guys. It was fun,
but the weather was bad most of the time. Too much rain. But we had
a couple of good beach days. And I rode on a roller coaster for the
second time that summer, after not riding one since my teens. Both
times with two guys, so I could feel relatively safe while pretending
to be really brave!
The crowning glory of the trip, though, was my appearance at a great
little club and restaurant in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, called Partners
Bistro and Piano Bar. It's essentially a gay bar, though over the
door are stick figures -- two boys, a boy and a girl, and two girls.
So it's for everybody. And they have a great piano player, John Flynn.
I sang "Something About Young Boys" there last year, and
they loved it and asked to make a copy for their piano bar repertoire.
This year I sang that one, too, but I also debuted a song I had just
finished because I was determined to sing it at this club. It's called
"Comin' Through the Back Door," and it's a song for everybody,
too, just right for Partners. Very bawdy, needless to say.
In a crowded two-bedroom condo with five people, the best place to
practice singing is out on the balcony. So I did, with a candle on
the table for atmosphere. After practicing a few songs, suddenly a
bright floodlight shone up into my face. It was the local cops! What
was going on? I wondered. They were shouting up at me, something about
a fire. One of them even came to the door of the apartment, and it
seems there is a local ordinance against -- gets this -- music on
the balconies, and candles on the balconies!!! Can you imagine paying
an exorbitant price to own a condo where you can't sing -- or light
a candle -- on your own balcony? So -- live music gets squashed again!
Same old shit. Well, I never could understand wanting to own a condo
when you can own a house, anyway, even at the beach. Too many rules.
And after the beach, the drive up to Vermont to visit friends and
my other sister, niece & bro-in-law. The three sisters don't get
together often, so it was really nice. Beautiful newly renovated house
right on Lake Champlain. Then to New York for my usual thrice-yearly
visit with some of my dearest friends. Pretty uneventful from there,
so I'll end here.
Okay, that's the first of the weekly series. More interesting stuff
soon, I promise. And I always welcome feedback, to keep me writing.
July 2007 Blog
Okay, here I am again, as promised, a new one for July:
In June I got the opportunity to play a set at the Songwriters' Showcase
the San Francisco Free Folk Festival. It was great to sing in a very
room with an audience who listened to every word of my lyrics! That
happen often. I was backed up by Jennifer Woodward, who hasn't played
me for years; she is a consummate guitarist and a long-time Folk Club
member. It was good to perform with her again.
Rainbow Bride appeared again in the Pride Parade this year. I wrote
her last year. (It's in the archives; just scroll down and you'll
entry.) Anyway, this year she (me) danced with Out of the Closet,
thrift shop, and was in ecstasy! I love the looks of recognition I
the costume (bridal gown with a rainbow veil, rainbow bouquet, and
multicolored Mardi Gras beads), especially from the lesbian couples
the parade route. At the end of the parade, as we were turning off
Market Street, they made us turn off our music even though there were
several blocks of spectators lining the street. So I danced along
them, "You can't hear the music with your ears, so you must listen
music in your heart!" I love goofing like that. One year at Carnaval,
I was dressed as the devil, I kept yelling to the crowd, "Hell
cancelled. You're all going to heaven! So you'd better brush up on
manners." I'm such a ham.
And yes, I started playing cello again. I've had two lessons so far,
I've been practicing daily. It's starting to come back, but, man,
do I have
a long way to go. I've already started improvising to my own music,
-- a rough mix of "The Dark Angels." Dan and Marc and I
got the accordion
and guitar tracks down, a scratch bass part and a very scratch vocal.
cello part would sound real nice with all that. How I love our Monday
Music Club! I'm working with two wonderful musicians, and it makes
happy -- it's the high point of my week. I must have heard that song
couple dozen times the other night, and I never got tired of it. I
know why; maybe it's the three-four rhythm, or the accordion, which
Of course, we goof off a lot during our sessions, too. While Dan and
were jamming on "Guantanamera" and "Funiculi, Funicula,"
I was putting
little colored hair clips and butterflies on dolls. (Don't ask.) We
our silly playtime, as do all musicians.
This Fourth of July was a great one for me. I got all gussied up
in a red
sequined body suit with a half-skirt in back, a long blue satin skirt,
lace stockings and red hat, and went down to the Alternative Family
at Yerba Buena to dance for the kiddies, as I've done in previous
And it wasn't there! Nobody seemed to know why. No alternative families,
no Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band, no Dixieland Dykes, as had been promised
website. So I went down to the Waterfront Festival, danced for an
player at Ghirardelli, then went to the Cannery and danced for a terrific
band, Gemini Soul. Had a blast! Took off the blue skirt and danced
body suit, changed to a red fedora hat and into my blue satin shoes.
got a $5 tip from a black woman who showed absolute joy at watching
white girl shake her booty! And I got the little ones up dancing,
Now, that's really rewarding.
Then I decided to go over to Lou's blues club, and I danced there
awhile. The only thing that put a damper on it was that the lead singer
the blues band didn't want me to dance IN FRONT of him -- only over
side. He had to be the frontman, couldn't share the spotlight. You
I've never had a guy in a band get jealous. Girls I'm wary of; I've
incidents with jealous females. But a guy? Hey, dude, I dance wherever
want to dance!
Then I went to hear another band, the Wonderbread Five, just as they
inviting San Francisco women to come up on stage with them. How could
resist? It's nice to be invited onto a stage to dance. They were rockin'.
And I treated myself to a modest dinner at Cioppino's of mussels in
with garlic bread, one of my favorites. And a rum-raisin ice-cream
And a Kara's cupcake, and a couple of chocolates, and a couple of
a couple of cocktails. I really indulged myself! But the real splurge
a luscious Art Deco shawl I found at Shades of Tiffany in the Cannery.
absolute dream costume piece! Can't wait to wear it to an Art Deco
event -- I just joined this year.
Of course I stayed for the fireworks, another passion of mine. I
sat on the
sand by the water, bundled up, took off my shoes and buried my tired
the cool sand. Delicious. Good show.
Yeah, I'm a real ham, a wild improv dancer. But a much better songwriter
than I am a dancer. I should really write a lot more songs. But...I
GOTTA DANCE! And I haven't been dancing a lot these past few months,
than Carnaval and Pride, so this Fourth was really good for me. I
ya-ya's out and got refreshed and renewed. I highly recommend it.
the whole world would be so much better if a LOT more people would
and dance! Like in those French movie musicals where people are always
dancing in the background, in bright colors. We would be more friendly
each other if we danced more, I think. Don't you?
Till next time,
(the Dancing Fool)
June, 2007 Blog
Okay, folks, I'm back.
I can't explain why I go on these long writing blackouts. I guess
I need someone to say to me, after they visit the site, "Geez,
Constance, JANUARY? It's MAY, already!" Anyway, here I am again,
and I feel I need to update
you all on what I've been doing for the past half-year.
I've done two more performances with the San Francisco Starlight
Orchestra and two with the Apollo Jazz Group. I love both these bands!
Wish they played every month instead of now and then. The next Starlight
gig is August 4th (at Strawberry Recreation Center in Mill Valley)
and the next Apollo gig is in September at Jelly's, Pier 50 in the
City. At the last Apollo gig, in April, four members of the band backed
me up for a whole set of my music. It felt great to be doing a set
instead of squeezing my songs in between their sets! Also, I sat in
for Apollo's three sets for several standards. It was a weird gig,
though -- their new drummer never showed up, we had a sub bass player
-- who sounded as though he'd been playing my songs for years -- and
with a couple of other guys sitting in, it turned out to be the best
jam I'd ever heard them do! Even without the drummer.
Then, a week or so later, an old friend called me from Florida to
tell me he saw me dancing on YouTube! I checked it out, and sure enough,
there I was, dancing with my friend Tommy, on a clip about a minute
long, posted by "Adam the Girl." A nice tribute to a fun
I've been to New York twice -- it keeps drawing me back, partly to
do recording with Bill Ring and partly just to see some of my dearest
friends. Then in May, I was able to get a good price on a new little
amp (my old one died), so I could play for Bay to Breakers again,
which I love. This year I couldn't play at the top of Hayes Street
Hill because they'd put up barriers along both sides, so I played
at the bus stop at Hayes & Steiner. I had a good time except for
being pelted with beer cans a couple of times from the exuberant kids
in the building across the street. I didn't take it personally, as
everybody else was getting it, too.
I'm always kind of fascinated by what goes through my mind when I'm
performing for a huge crowd. That day I was aware of how many of my
songs are "heavy," "somber," "serious."
Just what Dan, my co-creator in our Monday Night Music Club, has been
telling me. Not that I didn't know that; it's just that, having intended
to play mostly "up" songs that day, I saw that I wasn't
really meeting that goal. But Dan: "The Dark Angels" really
IS a positive song; I just have to get the negative stuff said first.
After all, it does end with "We are the dark angels/Our mutual
saviors. Isn't that positive? Anyway, it was a great Bay to Breakers,
and I loved it. (This year I was a purple cowgirl.)
And then -- Carnaval! Oh, how I love Carnaval. This year I danced
with Mo' Love, a group of sailors and pirates. I danced with them
last year as a "sexy sailor" -- but I wanted to do something
different this year. So I went as a mermaid, in a silver-sequined
gown rolled down below my navel, a green boa (for seaweed), and silver
star-shaped pasties. The first time I've ever worn pasties -- and
do I love them! So freeing. I simply must find another pportunity
to wear pasties again!
And I found a new voice teacher, finally. I started with the wrong
one a few months ago. Everything I was doing was wrong, and I couldn't
sing for about three weeks! Amazing. I left after five lessons, realizing
this was the wrong technique for me, and my voice came back. I prayed
for the perfect voice teacher, and one day I got off at the wrong
bus stop and walked by a little voice studio. I picked up a brochure
there, and now I have the perfect voice teacher! The technique is
called speech level singing, and it makes a lot of sense. I've had
only one lesson, but it sure
feels right, and I intend to keep going with this.
One more thing: I'm about to start playing cello again. It's been
over 20 years since I last played! I grew up playing cello, got pretty
good, never played professionally, but after all that classical training,
I took a jazz workshop in New York called Jazzmobile for a whole year
back in the seventies. I always said I'd take it up again, if only
to play chamber music. But now I'll be able to add cello tracks to
my own songs, which can only be a good thing, right? Right.
Okay, guys, if you don't see a new blog entry at the beginning of
next month, give me hell!
Till next time,
January, 2007 Blog
Okay, next subject: the Downsizing of the Arts. This has been going
on for some time, as we all must know by now.
Did it start with the schools? Maybe. So much has been ripped off
from the public schools for so long now, as part of the right-wing
conspiracy to get rid of our government and replace it with the corporatocracy.
The arts are always the first to go. Even though studies have shown
that the kids do better in math when they study the arts. We
thought the strict fathers wanted them to excel at math, didn't we?
Not really. They really want the public schools to fail, so they can
take over, privatize education completely, along with everything else.
Anyway, the arts are considered frivolous and unnecessary to these
people -- except when they want to be entertained.
Can you imagine what would happen if every kid in every school played
an instrument, acted in plays, danced their ass off, painted, sculpted,
sang, rapped, wrote poetry, stories, songs? Every day? They wouldn't
have time to play violent video games or kill each other, much less
have the inclination to do so. The world would be a hell of a lot
safer -- and way more entertaining!
For me, I really felt it when our beloved jazz club, the Gathering,
was closed, the imaginative murals painted over, and turned into a
cool "yuppie" bar with no character. I even auditioned there,
solo. People listened. And that was the problem. I was told that I'd
be welcome with a band, but that people were listening too much
to me alone! They weren't yakking and getting drunk fast enough. What
the owner wanted was sound -- not art. Wallpaper, background. Anyway,
no more jazz there. Hip-hop night, DJ nights......you know. No live
That reminds me of something my dead ex-brother-in-law, the genius
composer, Rick Barse, said when he was commissioned to write music
for some commercial purpose, I forget what exactly. He was a superb
melodist, and his music was rejected by these people, who complained
that his music was, well, too musical -- something like that.
He said they didn't want music, they wanted a "musiclike substance."
So the Gathering went, then another club, and another club. In some
of them, stages were replaced with pool tables. We lost Rasselas on
California, with their couches and great food. The one on Fillmore
isn't the same, but we're glad it's there. And now Enrico's! Enrico's,
for God's sake. How could this be? That was one club I was looking
forward to performing in, and I almost did. Mal Sharpe played there
one of the last nights, and he invited me to sit in, but he didn't
have his usual band, and of the dozen or so songs I suggested, not
all the musicians there knew them.
Well, I suppose I should just keep my eye on the doughnuts and not
upon the holes, and my main New Year's resolution is to get out there
and find the appropriate venues and sing my heart out at them. Any
suggestions will be followed up by me, and I'll be bringing along
my fine backup people, and we plan to blow y'all away! But ya gotta
be willing to listen to some innovative material as well as some beloved
standards. And some once-loved but mostly forgotten songs, such as
Remember My Forgotten Man, one of my favorites, from Golddiggers
Remember, folks -- the standards you love today were once new, original
songs. And those I have plenty of. I may not be very prolific, but
I do have an extensive body of work, almost too much to handle at
times. I just hope I can get all these songs recorded, or at least
written out, before I die -- so I won't downsize my own material.
But live music has to be supported. It's hard to get people out there
to listen to us -- they'd rather stay home and watch some mediocre
TV series or movie, or maybe they're just broke, not having gotten
a raise in seven years, something like that (not to get too personal
here!). I understand and empathize. But we need you! We need you to
listen, and pay a small cover and buy a drink. C'mon, happy days are
here again! The Democrats are edging their way in, ready and willing
to save our great government. There's hope that we can survive, make
more money, build up the arts in our communities -- with, yes, government
help! Put the arts back in the schools again, the stages back in the
clubs, even murals back on the walls. Maybe we can even downsize mediocrity!
Am I an optimistic fool? Sure, but what other choices do I have?
Maybe it's New Year giddiness and having a whole month off from work
with a little more money this time around, but I know an opportunity
when I see one, and I'm takin' it to the limit. See you at the clubs.
Well, here it is December again, my birth month, and all the holiday
hysteria cranking up. I haven't written for several months, being
the Great Procrastinator, and not proud of that. But I do write most
days in my journal, so why won't I put some of it into Constance Comments?
I guess that's my stingy side, not willing to share myself too freely
in prose. Easier to write than lyrics, after all, but maybe it's like
an actor being more comfortable playing a part than just being one's
everyday self. I can kind of hide behind lyrics, and even more behind
the music -- and yet I am really revealing my truest self in both.
Okay, here's a sample. I don't usually do this before I've recorded
something, but here are some of the lyrics to my latest song, "The
You thieves and you tyrants/With no empathy,/You show us our shadows,/And
those we must see./You are the dark angels,/Our shame and our glory./You
are the dark angels.
My friend and my lover,/You take me to task/For doubting your kindness./What
more could I ask?/You are my dark angel,/My constant reflection./You
are a dark angel.
We hold up our mirrors,/And never in vain./We challenge each other/To
grow through our pain./We are the dark angels,/Our mutual saviors./We
are the dark angels.
(c) 2006 Constance Taylor
This is one of my "dark songs," of which I have written
many, but it is really a plea to honor the dark side in each of us
in order to come through to the light. I love singing it; it's another
one of my Kurt Weill-like melodies, in three-quarter time. Intrigued?
I'll record it as soon as I can, I promise!
Pride Parade and Festival, San Francisco,
It's been two years -- maybe three? -- since I danced in the Pride
parade as the Rainbow Bride. I did it for several years in a row,
starting (as I remember) with the Unitarian Universalists, who marched
with other church groups. I lagged behind them because I kept weaving
back and forth across Market Street so I could entertain the audience
on both sides of the street. Eventually I lost my group, and my little
purse with them, and the lady I left it with took it home with her!
Amazing; couldn't wait a few minutes for me to catch up. After that,
each year I would find a contingent with a sound system and good music
to dance to. It was always great fun, I really hammed it up, and people
seemed to love it.
Rainbow Bride was born one Halloween, when I created a veil made
of strips of colored tulle and wore it with a white dress I'd worn
in a music video by Ken Post called Snow White. The dress had a satin
bodice and a voluminous long tulle skirt; it was a new "second"
that some designer had donated to a Goodwill store, and they were
charging $40 for it. I couldn't afford it at the time, so my good
friend Paulette, a consummate performance artist and costume collector,
went in the next day, ripped off the tag, took it up to the desk and
asked how much it was. They said $10. Thereafter, it was mine.
So the June following that Halloween, I decided it would be perfect
for Pride. I am passionate about marriage rights for everyone, so
this was the perfect costume for me, and a great excuse to show off,
which is what performance artists are all about (besides educating
and outraging the public). So for the next few years I would go down
to the parade, watch the Dykes on Bikes, and then sneak into the parade
when some good music passed by. As the years passed, the police barricades
got tighter (haven't they everywhere?), so I had to go around to the
main feed-in street. No problem.
But first I had to find a bathroom, and for the past few years it's
always been the Hyatt Regency. Again, no problem. Until this year.
Yup, they're not letting in the riffraff anymore! Bastards. Like there
was ever a problem with parade performers -- or paradegoers -- using
their damn bathrooms. I never noticed a crowd. Guess the Hyatt is
just trying to save money on toilet paper, tightening up their budget,
like everybody else. Ah, well. The Starbucks across the street was
Oh -- the reason I didn't do Rainbow Bride the last couple of years
was that after Mayor Newsom married all those people, I thought I'd
done my job. But then, of course.....well, you know. So I thought
it was time to jump in all over again. (Really, I had so much fun
doing Carnaval this year, I just had to do another parade.)
Anyway, this year I added a rainbow-colored bouquet tied with multicolored
ribbons, six or eight strands of Mardi Gras beads, and colored bracelets.
I danced alongside and behind the Out of the Closet truck, on which
was a clever display of used clothing and a DJ who played the same
four songs over and over, including "YMCA" and "We
Are Family." Had a ball. Got my parade fix. Tried to entertain
as many people as possible, weaving back and forth across Market Street.
My feet held out, God bless 'em.
After that, I watched the rest of the parade, had a beer and went
into the festival, paying my $5 donation, found the Swing Stage, and
danced solo there for awhile. Then I had another beer and walked around,
grooving on all the colorful booths full of stuff I didn't buy. I
saw a guy wearing what appeared to be an official Gavin Newsom T-shirt
with the words "Power is sexy." Very interesting, Gavin.
Another one said, "You looked hotter online."
As I said, I am passionate about marriage rights. And yes, I will
volunteer for one or two organizations working for this difficult
culture-changing effort. When it was first seriously proposed a few
years back, and I asked myself, Should gays be able to marry?, it
took me about 15 seconds to answer that question. I simply asked myself
another question, which was: Suppose I were in love with a woman?
A no-brainer. Empathy is all it is.
So, shame on you, New York! I think the court's reasoning was that
heterosexual marriage protects children. Well, what about children
of gay couples? Amazing, truly incredible. And I love the argument
I've heard more than once, that gays do have a right to marry -- someone
of the opposite sex! Yeah, someone they don't love and aren't attracted
to. How would you like to do that? Actually, I've known people who
did, but their spouse was from another country. Get it?
I could go on, but I think Harvey Feinstein said it best on In the
Life: "If you let us marry each other, we'll stop marrying you."
February 2005 Blog
Okay, no more excuses. Every month from now on there will be a new
blog from me! After watching Carrie feverishly writing her column
through four seasons, I am finally inspired. I myself have written
columns before, albeit not weekly, some of them about sex. I'm waiting
awhile before I dig into the fifth season of "Sex and the City,"
because the other night I dreamed that I was grief-stricken at the
end of the series! I didn't realize I was that emotionally involved
with it. Not having cable TV, I tend to go on video binges, like a
whole season of "The Sopranos" in a week.
So what's been happening this month? Just before Valentine's Day,
a friend handed me a bag of candy hearts -- you know, the little pastel-colored
ones we got in grade school that say "Kiss me" or "Hot
stuff"or "Cutie Pie"? So I reached in and picked one
out. But this one, so help me, said "E-mail me." So I stuck
it on my computer with Scotch tape, right under my flying pig. Yes,
times have changed!
And I've been performing more. I did my regular gig at Jelly's at
Pier 50 with the Apollo Jazz Group. And I sang "Dinosaur Blues"
with the San Francisco Starlight Orchestra -- always a thrill to have
those great players behind me and to watch people dancing to my music!
Also a couple of parties, one with Dan Guaraldi, who I've been rehearsing
with regularly now. Dan comes up with some great countermelodies and
harmonies to my songs, and inspires me no end -- what a great musician
he is! I feel really blessed to have him backing me up.
And the Dancing Fool is dancing more than ever -- three new classes:
Jazz and Tap at the Y, and Isadora Duncan with Mary Sano. Wonderful
teacher. With my years of training with two other great teachers,
I'm fitting right in, and looking forward to performing with these
seasoned dancers in May. Of course, I was my usual maniac-on-the-floor
self at the February Starlight Orchestra dance.
But the big news this month is that I finally got "Marijuana
Madness" mailed out to Al Franken at Air America! For those who
didn't know, I did a new vocal for it which will be on the next batch
of CDs. Had to take out the brand name (which I won't mention here)
so it can be played on the radio. Bill put together a great cover
for the single, complete with some wild graphics and printed lyrics,
and it's really eye-catching. So I put it in a bright-green jiffy
bag and stuck some corny stickers on it (stars and musical notes!)
and sent it off into radioland. Will he play it? That's the Big Question.
Hey, it might help if some of my fans called in to the show and asked
for it. Get those phone banks working! The number for the show is
1-866-303-2270. Look it up on the Web to see when it's on in your
area. Al, you're great, we love ya, play "Marijuana Madness"
for us, okay?
That's all for now, folks. Next month, I promise.
September 2004 Blog
Okay, I did it again, missed my promised August entry. I have lots
of good excuses, the main one being I was on vacation back East, also
doing some recording. But still, a promise is a promise, and I blew
So, "What I did on my summer vacation":
Flew JetBlue again. Decent trip, as usual. Swam in the Atlantic Ocean,
a hell of a lot warmer than the Pacific. Ate lots of good fish. Saw
my mom & two sisters & their guys, my adopted "baby brother"
Danny, whos smart as a whip, and not on tour with a band this
year (maybe thats why), Went up to New York, saw the Intrepid
(the huge aircraft carrier thats now a museum) and the Growler
(first nuclear missile-carrying submarine). Awesome. Took a 6-minute
virtual ride on a bomber over Iwo Jima -- cool! Also saw "Movin
Out," the Twyla Tharp-Billy Joel musical on Broadway, actually
a two-hour ballet. Really awesome! This was a gift from Bill, after
all that recording we did up in New Paltz. Had a good time up there
in that little country town, too -- bike riding, swimming, hiking,
eating, partying. It was a good trip.
So now that Im back, whats mostly occupying my mind,
besides obsessing about this capitalist mess were in, is MY
NEW BAND, "Constance and the Intermittents"! And all the
work I have to do to get this going. Write out lots of lead sheets,
get standard repertoire together, consolidate it all with Alan, my
pianist, and then pull all those great musicians out of the woodwork
again, as Ive managed to do for a party here and there. Only
this time I want us to trek together from party to club, to club,
And thats whats exciting and scary and exhilarating,
and boy, do I wish I could afford a vocal coach! And though I wont
have to play guitar in the band (whew!), I still have to do so as
a solo performer, in those little coffeehouses where the guitar hotshots
play. Some of the time, at least, Ill have Dan backing me up
on guitar, and hes really good. Thats a real comfort.
Its hard to do all this and have to go to work, too, but Im
a freelancer and can pretty much choose my hours. I just gotta practice,
practice, practice more and go easy on the "Sex and the City"
videos. But they're SO much fun, and, not having cable, I'm way behind.
Oh yes, the highlight of this month: That great Art Deco Society
event, A Gatsby Summer Afternoon, at the Dunsmuir Estate in Oakland.
Wonderful, as always, with everyone dressed up in 20s and 30s
costumes, vintage-looking picnics and vintage cars all over the lawn,
a terrific pre-swing band with dancers and choreographed shows, etc.
I even wrote a song about it, which I hope to sing there next year.
And this year I got a ride all the way from Millbrae and back in a
1927 Cadillac limousine! The kind the Prohibition gangsters rode in.
It even has a little vanity for the ladies in the back seat. What
a thrill! You can see the pictures from this event on a website, www.digiproofs.com.
The guest password is "Gatsby." Check it out - Im
in several photos, wearing a thirties-style light green satin gown
with a lavender wide-brimmed hat. Cant miss me. Had a good time
with my escort, John, who owns the Cadillac, and my girlfriends.
Today I'm mourning the exit of the Giants, though they did go out
in a blaze of glory! (10-0 over the Dodgers.) And I'm taking a break
from commenting on the political situation; guess I can't avoid it
next month. Till then....VOTE!
Homeland Security Killed My Guitar
Yes, folks, they did it -- The TSA (Transportation Security Administration),
those federal workers who are supposed to keep us safe from those
dangerous low-wage airline-hired workers who USED to inspect our luggage,
cracked the neck of my beloved 18-year-old Seagull. Cracked right
through, and now it's broken clear off. Okay, so it's not dead, but
beheaded for sure. So I have to get an estimate for repair and fill
out a form for reimbursement to the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, for God's
sake. Anyone care to guess how long I'll have to wait till I get my
money? WILL I get it? Stay tuned.
Anyway, I bought a new Martin for $800 with case. It's a beautiful
guitar, not all solid wood like my Seagull (which, by the way, I got
appraised and turns out it's only worth $175 or so! Go figure). I
like it fine, and it's got a built-in pickup, which Seagull doesn't
have. So that's an upgrade for me. Then, when I took it back East
a couple of weeks ago, I couldn't play it! The action was suddenly
way too low, and all I got was lots of buzzing, and some chords I
couldn't play at all! But my guitar-savvy friends assured me it was
just the incredibly cold and dry weather out there, and I got a neck
adjustment and a snake humidifier and it was fine. So I'm back in
As some of you know, I've been going East quite often to help take
care of my elderly mother, who is having health problems. She lives
with my sister and my sister's ex-boyfriend, both consummate musicians
as well as consummate caregivers to my dear mom. They need plenty
of relief, which I am glad to give, but it's been kind of a drain
going back and forth, with the three days of jet lag on the right
coast (not the left), and the co-o-old weather back East! At least
I get to go up to New York to visit friends, and occasionally to a
Broadway play, courtesy of my New York producer, Bill Ring. He always
wines and dines me and treats me real nice.
After one of those trips, last November, when I got home I was handed
an eviction notice saying I had 60 days to get out of the place I'd
been living in for 6 1/2 years! What a shock. I live on the second
floor of a duplex owned by an 88-year-old lady, an angel who only
charges me $250 a month for a room. She lives on the first floor,
and I share the second with two brothers, one who is always there
and the other who lives on his boat in a marina, and only occasionally
stays overnight at the house, sleeping in a room which his brother
and I use as a sort of TV/computer/practice room. This boat brother,
whom I will hence call Captain Romeo, is a notorious serial monogamist.
He's been married four times, three years each, twice to the same
woman. Before, in-between, and after those marriages, he has had scores
of relationships lasting anywhere from a month to a little over a
year. Well, it seems he recently found his "soulmate" (how
many have there been?), and she needed a place to stay, so he moved
her into that communal room a week and a half before I came home.
Didn't try to contact me while I was away ("I didn't know where
you were." -- Did you ask your brother? Ever hear of voice mail?).
This new girlfriend was a nurse and a kind of New Age princess who
had decorated the room with draped fabric and crystals and a little
waterfall, etc. Years ago she had lived in a teepee in the wilderness
for 10 years with her two children. Got water from a creek. So I'll
call her Pocahontas. She's a vegetarian, and doesn't celebrate Christmas.
Anyway, I went right down to the Tenants' Union, then called the Rent
Board, then talked with some people from the Housing Authority. Learned
the eviction was totally illegal. As I suspected, as San Francisco
is about the most tenant-friendly city in the country. I did plan
to find another place, as it was getting awfully crowded on that second
floor; but I needed a bit more time than 60 days (actually, six weeks,
as I go East for Christmas the last two weeks of the year).
In the meantime, I was being really nice to Pocahontas, as I felt
it was no fault of hers that her Captain Romeo had lied to her that
the family here "wasn't happy with me." (Well, his brother
and I have had the usual occasional roommate squabbles over the years,
but nothing major. But my landlady, and the third brother, whose room
is behind the garage, seemed to be fine with me being here!) So I
was trying to accommodate her and give her shelf space in the kitchen
and bathroom, etc. We were talking in the kitchen one day, and I told
her I wouldn't be out by the end of the year; I would need at least
another month. Well, she went ballistic! Said I was a "parasite
on the family" because I paid so little rent (the same rent she
was paying, by the way, for about the same space). Oh yeah, and she
was using my phone line for her computer without asking, staying online
for an hour at a time. And then she said -- she actually said these
words: "You artists -- you all think the world owes you a living!"
Later, I pondered what she had said, and I thought: No, we don't
think the world owes us a living; we just think we should be owed
the opportunity to make a living. That's it. Anyway, I got defensive,
we had a screaming fight, and she ended up moving out. Of course she
and Captain Romeo broke up soon after, to nobody's great shock. And
he had a new girlfriend a couple of weeks later. End of eviction-scare