5-Minute Dance Party :: Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)



The snow’s coming down

I’m watching it fall

Lots of people around

Baby please come home


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 LimiñanasI’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.

Graphic :: When I am sad, I make things





Square Social Media Profile Pic - alt. blue marble- Tribute to France, Iraq and Lebanon - from Bluebird Blvd




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.

 

Two doves facing each other with world in background.


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.

Humor :: The Marriage Interpreter (No. 52)

The Husband upside-down dancing with psychedelic chickens.


THE HUSBAND walks into Bluebird’s office carrying two pairs of trousers on hangers.

The Husband: Hey! Guess what I got for school!

Bluebird: (Sets down pen.) What’d you get?

The Husband: Some trousers! On sale! See this pair? They’re Pollos!

Bluebird: (Squinting at trousers.) Uh . . .

The Husband: (Oblivious.) You know! Pollos? Like the chicken? They have a little man on a chicken holding a hammer on them. VERY classy.

(Bluebird is speechless.)


The Husband: Hey! Guess what I got for school! Some trousers! On sale! See this pair? They’re Pollos!


THE HUSBAND is reading on the living room couch.

Bluebird: (Squinting from kitchen.) What are you reading?

The Husband: This? Oh, it’s the Lolololag Largolarginaut.

Bluebird: Wha—?

The Husband: —the Hoolag Hoolighuganao!

Bluebird: I still don’t know what you’re saying.

The Husband: You know! You gave it to me! The Ololololoo Loo-loo-ooginoh!

Bluebird: Do you mean “THE GULAG”—

The Husband: Yes.

Bluebird: —”ARCHIPELAGO”?

The Husband: Yes! (Clears throat.) It’s a very good book. You should read it some time. Lots of vowels AND consonants. That’s VERY important to me, you know. Also, syllables. I like them a LOT.


The Husband: You know! You gave it to me! The Ololololoo Loo-loo-ooginoh!


THE HUSBAND is in the kitchen eating something crunchy. Bluebird walks in.

The Husband: (Mouth still full.) Man, these cookies are really good!

Bluebird: (Covers eyes with one hand.) Do you mean the dog cookies Karen gave us?

The Husband: (Swallows rest of dog cookie.) Yum. Peanut buttery. (A beat.) I won’t eat any more. (Another beat.) Ask Karen for the recipe, will you? (A third beat.) I need it for… the dogs.

Bluebird: Uh-huh.


Brightly colored photo collage of The H. dancing with psychedelic chickens.


 
Psst! Here’s the first volume to Aleksander Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago. It is an amazing story of life in the early Soviet Union and the gulag system.

5-Minute Dance Party :: Holy Roller









I am a woman of leisure.

I am looking for the end of want.



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.

You can buy Thao & The Get Down Stay Down’s We The Common on Amazon or on iTunes.

Essay :: Dogs and words

 

Brightly colored collage with medieval painting and Allen Ginsberg's head.
Die Melancholie Bluebird


What is a dog but the lovely wagging of his tail?

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.


PHOTO CREDIT: Allen Ginsberg’s black and white mug was provided by Wikimedia’s own Michel Hendryckx. (Dank u wel, Meneer Hendryckx. Votre photo est trés belle!)

In Memorium :: Even the rivers have rivers where he shall go


Santa_Fe_R.R._crosses_the_Colorado_River_into_California_between_Topock1a34756v

Some stories are more impossible than others.

  Take the story of my friend Mark. I’ve been trying to write something about him for nearly three weeks.

Ever since I received the quiet phone call from my friend Phillip regarding Mark’s death, I’ve sat at my desk at varied hours in different arrangements to do just this one thing.

To this end, you would find me here in the morning staring at the French gray walls of my office, and again, in the afternoon, holding my $5 fountain pen over my $2 notebook.

Late at night I remain rooted here— hunched forward, scowling at the screen while a 70 lb. three-legged dog attempts—in a show of loyalty—to co-occupy my office chair as I write.


You could, if you liked, measure him in cultivated silences—because he was a man who considered your question with judicious care before offering an answer.


Or not write, as has been the case, about Mark and Mark’s life.

My stalled fingers hover and tremble at the keys not because of the dog in my chair and not because I’m constantly losing my $5 pen in my cluttered office, and not because I don’t know what to say—because goodness knows I have yet to run out of things to say about everything and everyone, even if it takes me all night or a whole year or a flaming hot deadline to figure out what to say and how to say it.


What has halted me again and again are the facts and the figures.

There is so much of Mark to know, and so many shared experiences with Mark to consider, the tenure of our two-year friendship creaks and wobbles under the weight of all the abundance that is Mark himself.

If you wanted to find the shape and substance of a man like Mark, you could measure him by his heavy shelves of wonderful books or the many gorgeous frames of film he shot in his storied travels.

You could, if you liked, measure him in cultivated silences—because he was a man who considered your question with judicious care before offering an answer.


A person’s life is not a playbook, you see, or a morality tale or a pithy epigram . . .


You could easily measure Mark by his stories, which were legion and inclusive, or by the sweet banter he shared with the love of his life, Dawn.

Many of you will study the length and breadth of the man based on the size and shape of his strong friendships, or maybe just one friendship, the one he had with you.

I know I will measure him by the conversations we did not yet have, the notes for which I’d ferreted away for a sunnier day when Mark was feeling well enough to talk, and I will also measure him through the books he introduced to me and I, to him.


But this is where I leave off the checks and balances and the counterweights because what has occupied the center of my sadness at the loss of Mark is the Mark-shaped hole in my heart, and that absence cannot be measured or weighed or explained with ease.

A person’s life is not a playbook, you see, or a morality tale or a pithy epigram; a man like Mark is not solely the sum of his stories, his books and his papers, nor is he a proof to be deduced solely by his devotedness to his family, his spouse and his friends.

Mark was Mark, and he is Mark still. I would give every book in my library to hear the sweet scratchiness of his voice again; to listen to him tease Dawn and Dan and his parents in his funny, gracious way.

But no one’s offering me an exchange rate on my books for the width and breadth of this dear man’s life.


I open the chrome and glass doors of the diner and clatter inside, searching for faces I’ve only seen in pictures.


Instead, I’m left to my office in a crooked little suburb in a cranky old city, standing upright but leaning against my desk.

I am paying close attention to the rain that burbles against the panes of my dusty aluminum-framed windows, and the darkness outside seems unceasing at this time of night.

Still, the dog with three legs slumbers on the floor, running the length of the room in his dreams. Still, this house sleeps on and on.

All the while, one part of my mind continues to cross and re-cross a single moment in another November, when I walked into a local diner ten minutes late to meet Dawn and Mark and Dan and Mr. and Mrs. A— for the first time.


But no alchemy of mere words will bring you back from the places you had yet to go.


Here.  Look.The noonday sun holds up the sky. I open the chrome and glass doors of the diner and clatter inside, searching for faces I’ve only seen in pictures.

The cashier, seeing my confusion, steps from behind the counter to lead me around a wall of sturdy glass blocks. The first person I see is a bespectacled and smiling man rising from his seat to greet me, followed in no short measure by his brother and his father, while his spouse and his mother look up and offer me two equally lovely grins.

 

Oh, Mark, I am so very nearly embarrassed to tell you how much I’d be willing to give up just to have this one moment, with you, again. But no alchemy of mere words will bring you back from the places you had yet to go. And there is no way to measure and shape the entirety of you into a single, small story. Trust me, Mark, I’ve tried. You know that I’ve tried.

 

If a man’s life is a river, your life is—and was—a place where even the rivers have rivers of their own.

I believe your rivers have reached their headwaters now. Godspeed, Mark.

 

 

 

Humor :: The Marriage Interpreter (No. 51)


Advil Lavigne: Just tell me which one fixes the headache.


The Husband: Dude, your neck is thick! Just like that girl on Downton Abbey.

Abelard: ???

The Husband: (Grasping for name.) You know who I’m talking about—the one with the thick neck!

Abelard: ???

The Husband: (Remembers her name; face lights up. ) Lady Instagram!



THE HUSBAND is washing dishes and ruminating. Bluebird is reading.

The Husband: Bluebird?

Bluebird: Yes?

The Husband: Did you know there can only be one Highlander?

Bluebird: (Dreamily staring at open book.). Okay.

The Husband: Are you listening?

Bluebird: Yes. (Looks up.) You’re a Dr. Pepper—

The Husband: —Highlander.

Bluebird: (Returns to reading.) Congratulations.



THE HUSBAND calls Bluebird from the ranch.

The Husband: I need to ask you a serious question.

Bluebird: Okay, shoot.

The Husband: Who is Advil Lavigne?

Bluebird: I don’t—how did you…? Huh. Would you look at that.




THE HUSBAND is standing in the hallway ready to go to the hardware store. Bluebird is reading a book on the couch.

The Husband: I have your list.

Bluebird: (Without looking up.) Mmm-hmmm?

The Husband: (Scanning page.) So you need a dust mask and air filters—

Bluebird: (Still reading.) Hmmmmm.

The Husband: (Squinting.) —and a squid widow for a wool herring…

Bluebird: (Eyes still on book; shakes head.) Uh-uh.

The Husband: No squid widow?

Bluebird: (Dreamy voice.) Squeegee.

The Husband: Wool herring?

Bluebird: (Turning page of book.) Whole house.

The Husband: Your handwriting is awfu—

Bluebird: (Interjects.) —Are you wearing my glasses?

The Husband: No. (A pause.) Maybe. (A pause.) I’m going now.

Bluebird: (Turns another page.) Mmmm-hmmmm.

Humor :: Miss Frankly Forty

 

PSST! Double click the pic for a much larger readable size. I made this whole thing just for you, you, you!
Open fake book from 1940s showing advice for women over forty.

NOTES

1) We know the actual plural of uterus is uteri, not uteruses. But, really—who’s counting uteri right now anyway?

2) I hope you don’t think I’m kidding, re: women over 40 on/in TV, but just in case here’s an industry-respected study for women in/on TV in 2014.

3) Oh, and there’s this crazy thing too.