Death in the Modern Age

3 Sep

Back in August, on one of those days I didn’t post, I had a really horrible experience.

My mother had been trying to reach a friend of hers for awhile, to no avail. Finally she asked me to go over to his building and talk to the doorman; she had a bad feeling. It took me a week to do it. You know what happens next.

The doorman told me that our friend was found in his apartment, dead. He had apparently been there for a few days. This had occurred a month previous so my delay in checking didn’t affect anything, thankfully. That would have moved the story from terrible to a completely and utterly debilitating one for me. As my mom went through a whole guilt-trip about how she hadn’t been a good enough friend and I went through my oh-my-god-I’ve-just-seen-my-ghost-of-Christmas-future, Steve Jobs stepped down at Apple.

Like everyone else in the universe, his announcement upset me. But as the accolades and assessments turned into premature obituaries, it started to freak me out a bit. How can that possibly feel to read all your obituaries while you’re still alive? Basically everyone in the world is telling you you’ve died already.  That has to be weird. So his ‘perceived death’ and our friend’s actual death couldn’t be in more stark contrast as far as impact on the world, but they both are strange and sad and surreal to me.

I’ve spoken of my psychic iPod before, and during this time, it struck again. Just as I was musing about all of that, Babybird’s “I Didn’t Want To Wake you Up” was my Song-o-Scope of the Day. (As I walk to work every day, I hit shuffle in the morning as I ask it for a message for the day.) Oh iPod, how in tune you are with me.

I’m a huge Babybird fan. For those of you who are unfamilar with his massive output, please rectify that. Babybird is essentially Stephen Jones and he’s a master of DIY deliciousness. Well, usually. This track actually comes from his only major label release and has a band and stuff. He did have a couple of bona-fide hits, namely “You’re Gorgeous,” and they were from this album as well. But pretty much everything he does is worth getting.

And I guess the moral of this story is appreciate people while they’re around…which is to also say, don’t bury them alive either.

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Putting the ‘Labor’ Back in ‘Labor Day’

2 Sep

What a day.  It seemed as though everyone was trying to cram Monday into today, just to make sure they got their money’s worth.

I find a remedy to moments like these is listening to Arvo Part.  (Incidentally, there should be an umlat over the ‘a’ in part but I’m too exhausted to try to find that key.  So in Margauxville, it’s just Arvo Part, sans umlat.)  “Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten” is exactly what I need right now.

I promise you it’s exactly what you need right now too.  I would never leave you astray.  After all, we have so much in common.

I need to step away from the computer now.  Ideally I’d write an insightful or mildly interesting blurb about the importance of Arto Part and how I love the bridge between classical and sacred music.  Or maybe I’d tell you that for some reason every September 11th I realize it’s his birthday and how that seems oddly fitting.  But I’m too tired.  Maybe I’ll do it another day.  Another day when I’m not too burnt out to look for the umlat key.

Until then, enjoy the next Arvo Part-filled 5 minutes.  Ahhh.

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Happy September!

1 Sep

What’s worse:  the fact that I haven’t updated this in eons or the fact that I’m posting a really obvious, albeit fabulous, song today?  The correct answer is neither.  I was very distracted by Irene and scads of other stuff, but today is September 1st (!) and I have just sharpened a box of Number 2 pencils; I’m ready to begin anew.

This morning, as I was walking to the subway, iPod shuffle intuitively picked “September” by Earth, Wind and Fire.  How crazy!  That song never comes on my iPod!  I’m not sure why it never cycles through my library.  I love Earth, Wind and Fire.  I also love that founder Maurice White, a Sagittarian, chose the name because he has only Earth, Wind and Fire in his astrological chart – no Water.   Gotta love astrology followers, especially when they’re also amazing singers, writers and producers.

Personally, I was always partial to Philip Bailey’s voice in the group.  (He’s the high one and Maurice is the low one.)  Plus he did that super cheesy but oh-so-wonderful duet with Phil Collins, “Easy Lover.”

But he’s a Tauran.  And I can’t like a Tauran over a Sadge.  So, Maurice White, congratulations!  You are officially my favorite member of Earth, Wind and Fire.

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My Food Emporium Experience

24 Aug

For years my favorite song was the Food Emporium jingle.  So often I would hear people spontaneously break out into song, sharing their own person version of this fabulous song with the world.  It was so much a part of the NY landscape.

Then one day, much to my horror, the jingle just disappeared.  I kept waiting for its return, thinking that this obvious mistake in judgment would be rectified.  It never was.  A few years after this dark cloud settled over our metropolitan airwaves, I found myself in a recording studio, for one of the first times.  One of the first times for work, that is.

I wasn’t producing the session – I was way too young and green for that, but for some reason I was attending it nonetheless.  My boss was recording some jingle for some product that has long escaped my mind.  We were setting up and the singers involved had arrived a bit early.  They were friends with the music house guys so everyone was just hanging around catching up.

I was introduced.  “Margaux, this is Valerie and Nick.  Nick and Val, meet Margaux.”  Um.  It was Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson.  As in Ashford & Simpson.  As in “Solid.”  I was on the verge of gushing or doing something mildly inappropriate when across the room, I overheard a snippet of a totally separate conversation.

What?  What?!  WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?!??!

The folks responsible for the Food Emporium jingle were in the room!  I immediately turned my back on Ashford & Simpson and instead turned my full adoration and attention where it belonged. I wanted to know everything about the ‘song.’

I guess the session happened.  I guess I said goodbye to Ashford & Simpson.  It’s really all a blur.  All I remember is that for weeks afterward I had the greatest song in the world in my head again, on constant loop.  I was complete.

I had forgotten about this event till yesterday when I heard that Nick Ashford had died on Monday.  Aside from performing under their own names, Ashford & Simpson were two of the best songwriters out there.  They wrote “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and “I’m Every Woman” for godsake!  That’s kind of major.

But to me their most important contribution, of course, was that they were in the room during my momentous Food Emporium discovery.  R.I.P. Nick.  Thank you for being such an important part of my life.

S-H-A-K-E!

23 Aug

I had a whole plan for today’s post but then Mother Nature told me she wanted to hear Sam Cooke’s “Shake.”  And you know you can’t argue with Mother Nature.

Let’s hope she doesn’t want to listen to this on aut0-repeat.  Oh, and don’t worry, my plan will just be one day late, tomorrow.

Happy 350th Birthday, Staten Island!

22 Aug

Staten Island is 350 years old today!

Way back in 1661, a petition was written by 19 French, Belgian and Dutch families and presented to the Council of New Amsterdam.  It asked for land grants, religious freedom and economic opportunity.  Peter Stuyvesant granted permission and thus, Staten Island was born.

In the years since then Staten Island has had to put up with quite a bit of scorn and I  find that kind of annoying.  Once a long time ago my faux boyfriend and I tried to buy a Frank Lloyd Wright house that was on sale there and because of that I did some time getting to know the place.  Word to the wise:  it’s more than just a landfill.

It’s got big Victorian homes, massive amounts of parkland, tons of trails for hiking and the highest point in New York City.  It’s also the only borough that is entirely alone.  Even my beloved Manhattan shares a border with the Bronx.   Of course this isolation makes it pretty inconvenient.  There’s no subway and well, after all, you can’t overlook that landfill….

But in general, I hope that today of all days, we give our oft-forgotten borough a little love.  It’s not like you turn 350 every day!

Let’s commemorate this occasion with a little Wu-Tang Clan.  Staten Island is where most of them were from – and they are responsible for giving the nickname of “Shaolin” to the place.  So here’s 1993’s “Protect Ya Neck” from their very first record.  It’s not 350 years old, but I think it’ll do.

Everything Works If You Let It

19 Aug

One of my favorite bands is Cheap Trick.  I saw them exactly one million years ago and then I saw them again just a couple of years ago and they blew me away in both eras.  The only part of the more recent performance that I wished was different was if Robin Zander and Tom Petersson (the cute ones) still looked young and hot instead of weathered and mildly hot.   But energy-wise and rockingness-wise, they were 100% on.

I had a ridiculous amount of gems to choose from for today’s post , but with Cheap Trick, I find I always come back to  “Everything Works If You Let It.”  It’s got all the power pop rockin’ rock that you’d expect and it also has one of the most important messages ever for someone like me.  Or for everyone, for that matter.

 Everything will work out if you let it.

Seriously, it’s such a good mindset to have.  And I’ll share a little secret with you.  The words also make for a great argument when trying to convince someone in your life to just let things be, relax.  You just have to tread that fine line between truism and crunchy, new-age truism, but it will be hard for someone to dispute the fact that everything really does work if you let it.

But back to Cheap Trick, who are anything but new-age.  Let’s make this your theme song for the weekend.  If you feel stressed about anything or if you’re worried about anything, play this song.  Report back to me on Monday.

k?