Nine a.m.: Drink Ayahuasca and say ‘hi’ to the birdie outside my window. His name is Tyrone. (Pause.) He knows how to rap!
Saturday Night Live should consider itself quite lucky to have snagged new cast member Melissa Villaseñor. This multifaceted comedian can sing in the style of any of the great paint-peeling pop stars, do uncanny imitations of a strange and wide variety of famous people, and can write comedy in a variety of styles and moods.
What is also notable about the addition of Villaseñor to the cast is that she is the first Latina in 42 seasons to ever work on the famed sketch comedy show, which is ridiculous, considering the wealth of Latinx comedic talent in America (and the world).
Back to native Californian Villaseñor: You can get a taste of her immense talent on her (website) and her ( YouTube).
His sister says ‘sweet.’ The neighbors say ‘quiet.’
There was a knife. The paper says ‘sharp.’
His mother says ‘hidden.’ The store adds ‘purchased.’
There was a woman. She was his wife,
an object he troubled, an extra appendage.
There were some children. The paper says ‘boys.’
The school says ‘darling.’ An aunt writes ‘mourned.’
Their mother adored them. She kept them close:
for there was a man—a troubling man.
He was her husband; he was their father.
His voice ran hard; his fist swung wide.
But the paper can’t say that: there’s no one talking.
‘Cos there’s no one living. So it’s ‘troubled.’
So it’s ‘quiet.’ They’re ‘deceased.’ No one says murder.
But we have questions: There was a knife.
Did it trouble her flesh? Why was she so quiet?
This was a woman: Did she exist? Or is she a prop
to sadden his story? Did she have a mother?
Where is her history? For she was a woman—
like we are women. For she was a person
like we are persons. The paper says ‘family.’
The village says ‘neighbors.’ The priest says ‘angels.’
But we know better: She was a woman,
in death a mystery, in light a wonder. But still:
a woman. Another woman (of many women)
whose ‘troubled’ man ended her life.
This poem was inspired by writer Linea Dunne’s insightful “Rest in peace, invisible woman,” which is about media coverage of the recent murder-suicide of Clodagh Hawe (née Coll) and her three sons by her husband. Here’s a fair example of the coverage of her murder (as well as many other murders like Clodagh Hawe’s): Heartbreaking first picture of tragic mum and wife Clodagh Hawe killed in murder-suicide in Cavan. Note that this story discusses at length the life of the murderer, but fails to mention much about the people he actually murdered. While the poem is not explicitly about Hawe or any particular woman of recent memory, it is dedicated to her family. Rest in power, Clodagh Hawe.
Hello! Hello to you and you and especially you, sir or madam!
Like the prodigal sons of yore, Bluebird Blvd. has returned to its true home, WordPress.com, after three years on an offsite server.
You may have noticed that a thousand or so stories appear to be missing from Bluebird Blvd. Fret not! We are in the process of cleaning up many of your favorite stories which got jostled in the move and lost photographs, keywords, et. al.
Some older posts may not meet our current standard of publishing, and those will be removed indefinitely or permanently depending on individual quality.
If you have a particular story you fear will go missing, feel free to leave a comment or for that matter pop into any story on Bluebird Blvd. and chat with us. You can also send us a private note through our contact button the bottom of this any page of the site.
Now that we’ve got that settled, please be aware that we’ve missed you all and are truly happy to be on WP.com writing versus doing double-duty writing and wrangling code elsewhere.
We’re especially excited for some new stories and features we have planned, and excited to put a new twist on some perennial favorites.
Enough about us: How are you doing these days? What’s been keeping you busy? Listening to any new music lately? What was the last great book you read? Did you find any new interesting place on the internet recently? What is the square root of the color orange divided by the word mandible plus three notes on a wheezy accordion?
That’s it! That’s the stuff. As you may have noticed, we’re back, baby! Back on WP.com and back in the business of trying to make you feel just a little more, dance a little more, think a whole lot more, and laugh all the time.
Since we’re still in moving mode, please excuse our dust, duplicates of posts, all the missing pictures, and the general lack of panache. What we lack in style right now, we’ll more than make up for in substance. So tell me, tell me truly—
I love The Limiñanas. I mean, I loooo-oooove them. This French garage rock duo manages to keep their sound fresh yet rooted in classic psychedelic sound, with a nod toward groups like The Beach Boys, Velvet Underground, and a host of crunchy psychedelic songsters from the early 1960s. (Think: 13th Floor Elevators, Them, and The Bad Seeds.)
There’s an amazing live performance of The Limiñanas on the oldest and most awesome continuous free-form radio station in the U.S., WFMU, who has graciously posted for listening (or download) the whole thing on the award-winning Free Music Archive (FMA). The entire Evan Funk Davies Show set is here: The Limiñanas on WFMU in 2011. WFMU is my favorite radio station of all time ever, and the Free Music Archive has been a second home for me in the last three years. (Here’s my FMA user page: Bluebird Blvd. loves the FMA.
One of the best albums I purchased last year was The Limiñanas “I’ve Got Trouble in Mind / Rare Stuff 2009-2014.” The Husband loved it, and he has notoriously objected to my musical tastes with a loud, clear voice in the not-so-distant past.
This, of course, was before I started listening to 20+ hours of music a week for our original feature the 5-Minute Dance Party on Bluebird Blvd., a practice for which I am forever grateful because it got me out of a music rut. Listening to new music trains my ear to like new things, and who doesn’t want to like new things?
There’s an old ruse that in your late 20s you lose the ability to listen to new music without prejudice because you are no longer being exposed to new music constantly, the way you were in high school and college. By American standards, you’re also no longer the target listening market, but that’s a discussion for another day.
Here’s my advice for what it’s worth: Keep listening. Just keep listening to new things and old things from all over the world and in many genres and you’ll begin hearing sound again like it was the first time you ever listened to the radio as a teenager and had the feeling that the music on the air was just for you, you, you.
Merry Christmas, dearest readers. Lots of love to you on this most silent night.
F**k terrorism. Seriously. Just f**k the whole thing.
Needless to say, this weekend was pretty weird.
I spent all Friday afternoon and evening reading Twitter and various international news sites whose reportage I trust.
On Saturday, I decided to lie in bed and read books and think. (I was having some pretty rotten allergy problems.) (Stupid allergies!)
Yesterday, I did some laundry and I made these supportive banners and profile pics just for you.
Today, you can download them for free from Bluebird Blvd.’s Google Drive. You don’t have to sign up for anything and it’s totally secure and anonymous. They’ll be up for download indefinitely.
FREE SOCIAL MEDIA ITEMS TO SUPPORT COUNTRIES AFFECTED BY TERRORISM
Here are two square profile pics, several Facebook headers, and a header for Twitter that show support for France, Iraq and Lebanon while they reel from the terrorist attacks on Thursday and Friday.
No one else seems to have anything out there to share besides the Tricoleur FB profile flag, which is nice, but. . . France wasn’t the only country to experience the loss of human life last week. (Banners including Syria to come.)
PAX ÆTURNA TRIBUTE TO FRANCE, IRAQ and LEBANON FB COVER IMAGE
(Click to see large slide show.)
PAX ÆTURNA SQUARE PROFILE PIC for ALL SOCIAL MEDIA SITES
PAX ÆTURNA TRIBUTE TO FRANCE, IRAQ and LEBANON TWITTER HEADER IMAGE.
A FEW NOTES
Again, here’s download link for all full-sized profile pix and banners shown in this post: PAX AETERNA
As you can see, I did not include Kenya’s terrible attack at Garissa College University as it took place in April 2015. I did read about it at the time, but I wasn’t in a space where I could do much about that awful day except feel sad.
Please feel free to post and share these social media pix and banners. I would ask that you do not share this design as if it were your own creation, and I trust you have the good heart and the good sense not to do so.
These days, it’s all we can do to help our fellow human and to live in hope. Even more importantly, I believe it is our job here on earth to provide comfort for others in need.
I know this isn’t a complex message or even a new idea, but striving to be kind to others is the backbone of my personal code. The words sound simple. But kindness in action can be complex.
Thao Nguyen is one of those polymath artists who can pick up any instrument and make it sound like home. Her latest project, Thao & The Get Down Stay Down is a blues-rich, folk-tinged ensemble with lots of rich little touches and sweethearted songs. Visit Thao & The Get Down Stay Down to for interviews and tour dates.
I am a writer: I live in my head most days, and if I do not set timers and automatic devices, I would forget to eat on time or consume adequate amounts of life-giving coffee. When I am writing or thinking about writing (which is almost all of the time), I live not outside of time but between time—I wake to a thin straw of light poking through the barkcloth blackout curtains The Husband built. At night, I go to sleep when it is dark and quiet and the arterial whoosh of cars gives way to the surreal winter bark-amidst-silence of a dog in a backyard two miles away.
Or rather, I should say this is how I think I live—suspended in a neural web of spacelessness and placelessness. Instead I live amidst life in all its screaming glory for I live with dogs, who are the natural champions of joie de vivre. Dogs don’t merely enjoy your presence, they require things of you throughout a given day. The needs of each of the three dogs who live with me (with whom I live) vary, but they more or less follow some pattern—a daily shape that helps me to pay attention, to step out of my own mind and the story unspooling (hopefully) through my fingers onto a page, either digital or physical, but no less real in actuality.
What is a dog but the lovely wagging of his tail?
My dogs keep me anchored here, sunk into my own real-life narrative of meals and tamed caffeinated vices and phone calls and clean laundry, and not that other here where the story has formed a ripe and tempting surface that begs to be sliced open like a pomegranate to allow the seeds to spill forth. That here lives in a luminous fugue of fog over my head—but that here can wait for me to bathe or to return that phone call. It will pause and swirl in place so that I may get down on the floor and roll around with Abelard, a dog who’s been known to grab you by the neck with his single polydactyl front paw to draw your face into a broad lick that swipes your schnoz.
If you’re wondering, that here and this here are not the same here. They don’t really shift and mix into a single soap bubble the way most people imagine writer’s reality and real reality to commingle. Most modern mistakes about writers begin with montages from b-grade movies and end in bad soft jazz. In these movies, you never see the writer writing, you see the writer moving about. They’re speed-walking with a neighbor. They’re browsing through the cozy bookstore. They’re talking over dinner, and it’s all okay because they’re writing in their heads again, all while wearing this year’s trouser and next year’s watch with an unstudied elegance that makes me ball my inky hands into inky fists.
There are reasons that writers have rooms with doors that lock. There are reasons why writers wake up at 4:23 in the morning to write while the rest of the household sidestrokes through a five-fathom sleep in tousled warm beds. There are reasons for the battered sweaters and the old shoes. (Who wants to get ink and newsprint on your good clothes, if you can avoid it?) And there are other reasonable things a writer does not mention because to mention them is to discuss the mechanics of the close magic that maps out the place where writers write. (It has little to do with speed-walking, I assure you.)
…the story has formed a ripe and tempting surface that begs to be sliced open like a pomegranate to allow the seeds to spill forth.
Regarding that close magic, here’s the hardest trick: To even get to that other here takes work. In order to write something new, a writer must put herself into a space akin to a trance state, which can be achieved by the following means: a daily routine that is never broken, a ritual space and/or time to write in which one is not disturbed for the duration of the writing experience; noise or silence—there’s no between on this aspect of writing—you either write with music or white noise or the only music you want to hear is your own words in your own head. And time. Lots and lots of time.
It is irregularity that will destroy the writer’s hyperfocused state— intermittent events of no particular pattern, e.g., the sounds that people make doing all sorts of ordinary everyday things as well as the normal goings-on of dogs. At our house, Abelard lives in the nowest of nows. He’s the most physical of our three canines. When we go to bed at night, it’s Abelard who will fall back into my or The Husband’s arms and asks to be spooned and skritched. It’s Abelard who flea-checks my hair every other day; Abelard who wobbles his girth into most of my desk chair while I sit and write on its precipitous edge. It’s the drowsing Abelard’s damp adenoidal breath deposited directly into my ear that levitates me into the deepest sleep I’ve ever entertained, night after night. As a result, Abelard walks through my dreams and into my stories in a variety of guises.
Abelard lives in the nowest of nows.
But it’s not just him—it’s Ilsa’s cold nose and her warning bark at the door (“Visitors! Visitors! Visitors!”); it’s Monkey’s soft, questing nudge on the leg—(“May we go out now?”; “Will you feed me?”; “Can I sit in your chair?”; “Do you know it’s time for bed?”; “Is this something I can chew up?”). It’s the day and it’s The Husband and it’s the words I will set forth, which live in that supraliminal space between my head and my heart, my inner eye and my outer sight. It’s word meshed to action and action braided to word. It’s the part of my person that knows to get up once an hour from the wrecked Hollywood Regency desk to reach and shout and move around the house. It’s the dogs barking at glossy black Sapo the fence-jumper who never barks back. It’s reading a poem from a book out loud in my office and Abelard sauntering into the doorway to hear it because he thinks the poem is for his ears, and in a way, it is.
It’s the metronomic beat between idea and expression, betwixt thirst and glass and water, behind every gesture I make, even the ones I make at my desk, especially the ones I make at my desk: I studied dance for 20-odd years of my life and to live with dogs and words is to live in the constant space of the dance studio and its sweaty, silent rituals punctuated by the shouts of the teacher in the room: “HIGHER!” “FASTER!” “DO IT AGAIN!”. And so we do.