Thursday, March 26, 2015

On The Eve Of Paul's Passing, I Pause

The moon is half full tonight in Encinitas. Two years ago March 26th, 2013, it was a full "super-moon" a little closer to the Earth. Alexander and I were in New York City and Paul Williams was dying. I knew this because Paul's son Kenta who was with him was keeping us appraised of his fathers condition via text. 

Lenny Kaye had picked us up a little earlier in the day. We'd been staying in Brooklyn, along Prospect Park with Stew (aka Passing Strange/ The Negro Problem). But tonight we were going to stay at Lenny's on St Marks in the East Village. We had dinner at a BBQ place on 2nd and St Marks and I just remember the loud drunk table near us. I felt swallowed by a fog of fear and grief. I was 3,000 miles away from home and from my husband. 

Today, sadly,  two short blocks from that restaurant, a gas explosion brought down several buildings. I had to look up the location to see if it was near my friends place and if it was the same BBQ joint that went down in flames. It wasn't. But the timing of the event brought me back to this sad-long-
painful night two years ago. 

-photo by Joe Murray-


When someone you love dies a slow death, or un-lives in stages, over many years, when does the grieving begin? And when does it end. I thought I had a foot up. Paul had been free-falling into dementia since, at least, 2004. But for so long, and quietly, secretly, there was the hope of something changing, maybe a miracle. Especially because, at that time, there still was no name for what was happening to Paul. No acknowledgment that brain injury can later lead to early onset of dementia. We were up the creek without a paddle. Maybe he could be fixed, who knew? 

In time I realized my companion wasn't coming back. But that was a slow gradual kind of understanding. For two years now, I've known for certain he aint coming back. That's a concrete thing you can bank on. If you catch my drift. Like a broken leg vs a depression. Something tangible. ("mom, she hit me you can see the mark!") Maybe that's what people mean when they use the word "closure". 

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This week I put together my taxes and took 'em to the accountant. There's some good news and some bad news. The good news is I get some money back this year. The bad news is next year, due to my very successful Kickstarter campaign I will have to account for all the money that came in and how it went out. ONLY PROBLEM; I found out from my accountant that the expenses of making the art (i.e. the music, studio, paying musicians) only get counted 50%. In other words I spent $500 at your studio but I can only count $250 as expenses. What? Bad tax law. HOWEVER: the post production expenses (promotion, marketing, manufacturing) I can deduct 100%. Now that sucks. making is not as important as promotion?

I wish Paul were here. We'd have had a great bitch and gripe session. Then he would have gone to his office and proceeded to do his taxes...he was always very good at doing his own Schedule C. 
As a matter of fact I really miss talking to him about a lot of things.

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I like this photo of Paul, mostly because I took it right around the time we moved in together, here in Encinitas. I remember his mom once saying Paul was the least handsome of the three brothers, but for me he was very handsome. And nerdy. And cool. That perfect combination. We could talk about all my favorite stuff; books, music, Science Fiction, the history of physics, Brian Wilson deep tracks and Smile, Buddhism, what it is that constitutes rock and roll, the nature of the human spirit and passion, and a million other great and essential topics. 

So he didn't become the scientific genius his mother had hoped for. It was disappointing because she knew, she'd seen his IA was up there with the likes of the Stephen Hawkings of the world. Instead he became himself, and that was lucky for the rest of us. 

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You know that feeling when you're around an unmoving, stagnant but large body of water. This year this blog space has been a bit of that for me. It's hard to write about feelings, for me, while wading through them. I've always been one to hold my cards close to the chest. I don't like feeling feelings, but I acknowledge they are a part of being human, or a somewhat healthy human. 

So what is to be done with this unmoving body of water? I say, it is time to renovate! And so sometime in the next month Beloved Stranger will find a new look...stay tuned. 

Friday, March 6, 2015

Benefit for Autism Think Tank: Wild Honey Presents The Beatles White Album (yep the whole thing)

Photo from the balcony by Janet Grey
Me singing Revolution1 with full band power;  horn section, backup vocal group, Lyle Workman, Willie Aron, Rob Laufer on guitars, Derrick Anderson on bass, Jim Lapesa drums, Darian Sahanaja on keyboards. 

The night before when I arrived at dress rehearsal in Glendale these guys, The Wild Honey Orchestra,  had all the parts together. Everything was in place, even my weird key of C#. It was like stepping into the glass slipper.

Photo by Janet Grey

(photo by Maria Younghans)
Extra backup singers for Birthday. With the young Alexander included. John Cowsill, standing next to me, told him "you'll be fine, its just two notes, up and down 'Birth-Day' ". My friend Robin Danar Ring who ran the sound told me later, "I soloed his mic and he was right on pitch. "

End of the night, a guilty pleasure, getting a photo in with one of my hero's Dave Gregory of XTC. I told him "Skylarking is on my top 5 albums of all time" He says "Well it was good for us cuz we finally made some money" Thanks Steve Stanley for the photo and your fabulous rendition of 
Honey Pie.

A screen grab from the youtube audience video. When I finished singing Revolution1 grabbed my glasses and went off stage my son Alexander was waiting for me with a big hug and a kiss and he said "you did great mom". Man, how lucky am I to have such a sweet and thoughtful son. 

A blurry one of Syd Straw singing Rocky Raccoon, and her doggie, Carol Burnett..with Willie Aron on harmonica

Gary Wright (Dreamweaver) singing While My Guitar Gently Weeps with the Wild Honey band including Lyle Workman and XTC's Dave Gregory on guitar

A string section, a harpist, a horn section and background singers. All of the songs were done note for note like the album. But the singers could still do their thing. This was my kinda show, and I was lucky and honored to be a part. It was all recorded and filmed. 

Django Haskins, Keith Allison (Paul Revere and the Raiders), Chris Collingwood (Fountains of Wayne), CLB, Syd Straw, and musical director Rob Laufer. 

A perfect night of fabulous fun. Where you get to be inside the music you've loved your whole life and first listened to clandestinely late on school nights. (But no one must know, because its the 70s and the Beatles are gone and you are not cool). Here we are now, all music nerds. Every little part precisely in place and we all knew it. 

There were so many amazing players and celebrated artists on this show. I'm not gonna list them here, but take it from me, it was very cool. 

Everybody on stage for the grand finale Hey Jude. (Right, not on the White Album. But there were a few songs as "encores" that were not on the album but recorded same year; like Bulldog, Revolution-the single, and Not Guilty)

When we got back to Santa Monica, at nearly 3am, after dropping Syd Straw and her dog off, we discovered Alex had left his homework bag at the Alex Theater. So the next day, instead of basking in the warm glow of a show well done I was bothering poor Paul Rock about helping us get into the theater in Glendale and get that dang bag so we could drive back to San Diego County. 

What a cool and calm head; Paul Rock organizer of this huge event and founder of the Autism Think Tank, got us into the theater and bag retrieved on a closed Sunday afternoon. With the west side wind howling and hail slamming down we made our way back to Glendale where the weather was nice and the school bag waiting.

The night after the big show and the marquee has already changed. 

We made it home to Encinitas with the homework bag and yet very little homework actually done. But I think, perhaps better, an experience of a lifetime.

P.S. Thank you David Jenkins and Paul Rock