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This blog tends to wander from its main purpose -- updates on my fiction. I do have updates and excerpts of my work. But I also write about my obsessions -- food, friends and pop culture and my weird life in Los Angeles. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Memoirs, Memories and Passings

Warning: If you find yourself here via a google search for such things as TV shows or films, recipes or cities, this blog has some facts. However, this blog is one author’s very twisted musing on many weird things. It is sometimes graphic in content. If you read on, don’t write to yell at me.

Memoirs and Memories

Finishing the first story in my Mother's memoir has been a fascinating experience as a person and a writer. It's not the tear jerker stuff that got to me. It was all the details that I didn't remember until I really started going back over all the circumstances of one particular vacation my Mother and I took to New Orleans. For instance, when I travel to far away places, I'm not one to have a hotel room for showering and sleeping. I like to have a room that I can enjoy while watching local television. The news in every city is delivered differently – even the packaged styles like Action News or Eyewitness News. New York has the biggest percentage of traffic reports of any city's news I've seen. But the area and traffic density they cover is, frankly, insane. Philadelphia has the longest sports sections where Los Angeles has the shortest (even when they had an NFL team, which they didn't and still don't deserve). Canadian news broadcasts have anchors that reflect the make up of its population. I have seen East Indian reporters and anchors for decades. I'm just beginning to see reporters in the US. I've seen no anchors yet.

In France, the news was really fascinating (and I'm not just talking about the weatherman who was once a general). Just looking at the weather map gave me a whole new perspective on European politics. The map was the same size in area as the ones in the US, but it covers the UK, continental Europe to Russia and the Middle East and North Africa. They are all neighbors like our states are. I can see why troubles in one section of that map would be of concern to the others. We're an ocean away from those conflicts. We also saw things while in France that I'm not so sure were a good plan like The TV version of Der Clown. How the authorities could never find the guy in the rubber clown mask with the tiny clown hat at a rakish angle is beyond me. That show was many times sillier than any given CSI: Miami. The film was being hawked that year at the Cannes Film Market. And then there was the Eurovision Song Contest (the one that brought ABBA to the world). It was often painful, but we found we could not turn away.

These travel habits stem from that trip to New Orleans. We went in July not realizing that the city had deadly mid-day heat and humidity. Philadelphia has very sultry summers, after all. I don't think Jon and I were dry for the whole time we were last there (and that was May). Mom and I figured, how bad could it be. It was Mad Dogs and Englishmen bad. Thus, we took to going out in the early morning, then retiring to our lovely room for TV, reading or naps until the daily thunderstorm ended at somewhere after 2pm. Then we'd venture out into the 'cooler' weather for the rest of our sightseeing. We rationalized at the time that part of a vacation should be resting from everyday work, not running around like crazy people to tick items off a list. When we weren't in our room, we stayed on the hotel's property enjoying the atrium and people watching. To this day, I like to really take my time and enjoy the ambiance of a city I'm visiting. If I'm not in the room soaking up local pop culture, I'm at the local cafe or tavern soaking up local beverages and people watching. The sightseeing list is not etched in stone for me. I had never thought about when or where the habit came from until this past week. I can't wait to find out what other revelations this writing will bring.

Dad vs the Oysters

My adventure with the oysters amused my father to no end. That's a wonderful thing to do on Father's Day. I haven't heard him that tickled in quite some time. For the record, he still is not willing to let me come at him with hot food. He also would prefer that I buy shucked oysters in the future. He got a chill thinking about me jabbing at the shellfish with a sharp knife while holding it in my hand. I was surprised to find out that he is quite the oyster fan and makes soups or stews with them fairly often. That makes sense. He's the parent that is really into anything from the sea. I learned to broil fish and cook live crab from Dad. I knew he loved clams on the half shell. The oyster thing is in the blood. We also seem to have the same view of cheese in cooked food. I really prefer a balance of cheese in a dish. With pizza or with lasagna, I don't like to have so much cheese that it will congeal into a solid mass if not eaten quickly. Six or 58 cheese pizzas are of no interest to me. When it reaches that level, I'd just prefer to eat the cheese on its own with some crusty bread. I get that from my father, I believe. He's currently on a tour of famous southern barbecue joints. That should be fun for him. I think if he'd retired earlier in life, he may have opened one of his own. The need to feed multitudes comes from both sides of my family. I hope he doesn't give the Neelys a hard time. I'm not the only one who watches the Food Network. Dad will no doubt be checking to see if their sauce and fixings are up to snuff. Oh geez.

On Michael Jackson
Again, these are musings on a very personal level. If you think you'll be offended, skip it. But no flames. I flame back.

Let me begin by saying that I was profoundly disturbed at the course of Michael Jackson's life in the last decade or so. I think that only the sleaziness of the parents involved in the incidents that caused him to be under the scrutiny of law enforcement kept him from jail. I was profoundly saddened by the erosion of his talent to his demons. Nor was I happy about the coverage his passing has received. Only complete peace on Earth and the answers to world hunger and the curing of all disease would excuse the extent of coverage on one entertainer's life and death. On a personal note, between his home in Bel Air and Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center is the bus route Jon and I take home every day (it's the LA Metro route that takes all the help to where the rich folk live). As we listened to the coverage and the helicopters overhead while still at work, I was convinced we'd never get home. That was not the case, but only a level one homeland security emergency or the Big One amongst earthquakes should cause such commotion at a major hospital.

That said, my feelings about the passing of Michael Jackson are complicated. He had been a child my age finding fame amongst the grown-ups. The Jackson 5 inspired my cousin and two of our best friends to form a band and send a tape to Motown. We were invited to come to Detroit for an audition. That notion was vetoed by all of our parents. He comprised a significant part of the soundtrack of my youth and young adulthood. I had my only AP wire service story during the Jacksons Destiny tour. I broke the news that Jermaine had performed with the group for the first time since leaving them. As a young adult, I can remember all the night clubs and dance parties where we danced the nights away to either the Jacksons or Michael's music. Hearing those songs during the endless coverage brought me back to very specific and significant experiences in my life. That's Tracey as Michael and me as LaToya. I think we won a prize at that Haloween party. It's still hazy. The significance of the momories triggered by songs was much the same with sister, Janet Jackson. It was a random Youtube search that had me listening to Nasty. That song prompted the memory that resulted in the first story in my mother's memoir. For me, it was hard to ignore the huge presence this man had in my early life. I had long since drifted from Michael Jackson's music as it became more self absorbed, but I was saddened by his passing. There would be no rehabilitation nor comeback. He joins the going list of passings that put a fine point on my mortality. It was hard enough to hear that Prince needed double hip replacement. I'm waiting for the day he turns up singing Let's Go Crazy while using a walker. Needless to say, I don't consider anyone in their 50s as anywhere near old. That's a new realization for me. Before the conflicted feelings and annoyance set it, all I could say was, Damn. Followed by 'shut UP Craig.' My dear friend remains firmly footed in the more negative view of Mr. Jackson's recent life. I suppose, in the end, I'm not merely sad about Michael Jackson's passing. I'm mourning the passing of my youth.

And no, I'm not wallowing in grief. Nor do I want to be 20 something again unless it was with that body and my current mind. That could be a rip snorting good time.

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