Thank you (or NOT) to my friend Dena, who brought this nightmare of a "song" to my attention today. Apparently, "Chic C'est la Vie" is by one of dem Real Housewife messes from the teevee. It's a horror (which you can see unaltered here). I don't know who she is, but she sounds like a transgendered luxury real estate agent from Hell.
I just felt like some audio commentary was lacking, so I added a few little FX interjections. Enjoy this before it gets pulled!
This about the time that I first went to sleepaway camp, which was Sunday. I came back today. Which is Wednesday. My counselors' names were Dreamcatcher and Mouse. We studied about the Oregon Trails. The pioneers used to have to walk to get to different places because the Indians were attacking. Even the little kids had to walk. And the mom and dad would switch off walking with the kids.
We ate in a lodge. My favorite food was waffles, strawberries with whipped cream, and vegetarian sausage. We went over to the amphitheater and sang some songs. We went mountain goating and went on a nature trail. We played a few games. We slept in wagons the first night; the second night we slept in tee-pees (which had lots of slugs in them). The third night we slept in the wagons again. I was with two of my friends from school. I had a lot of fun.
I got a new camera and I took some photos and videos. These two people are my new friends, Mediocre and Izzy.
These are the wagon that I slept in.
This is a really pretty flower that I found.
This is our neighbor's wagon.
This is us at breakfast.
This is Monkey's Climbing Wall. Someone else took the picture. I climbed up to almost the top.
That's us making Smores.
This is a wagon and what it's made out of.
This is me after I fell asleep on the couch after I got home. (My mom snuck that.)
I took some video with my friends. Sorry it moves so much! I will try to do a better job when I go back to camp in August for another week. Thank you for reading my post!
It's true -- over the last half-century or so, I've had a whole lot of bad hairdos. Some I have chosen willingly (the asymmetrical pseudo-Sassoon butchering when I was 19, the long-as-I-can-grow-it-MY-HAIRRR! idea, which never worked with my fine flat locks) and some were forced upon me by my mother or sickly persuasive stylists (the short-bus-looking pixie/bowl cut, the ratty Janis Joplin failed perm). Whatever I think looks good now, I have realized, will look just friggin' awful and tragic to me in a few years. Whaddya gonna do.
Look at this. I was in 9th grade, so I suppose I was 14 or 15 years old here:
Tom, on the left, had hair that curled like that naturally. Not me, friends. Those strange-looking vertical barrels of curl on the sides of my face were part of my pathetic attempt to do the "Farrah Fawcett" hairdo, immensely popular in the mid- to late '70s. But I really have no feel for hair-doing. I can't even braid, still. But as a teen you try to fit in sometimes, so I would wake up in the dark every school morning around 6AM, wash my hair, dry it with my mom's hairdryer from the '50s (which looked like it was from the '30s and functioned like it was from pre-history), then would take a cheap curling iron and go at it. Almost every single morning, mostly asleep and astoundingly uncoordinated, I would burn my neck with the iron. This made me furious, but I wasn't allowed to swear at my house so I would just yell, "AAAAAAHHHHH!" which was appreciated by no one. I started to get very jumpy about it, which added to the time spent. If I even felt a little heat by my neck I'd throw down the iron on the bathroom counter. I can only imagine how demented this all seemed.
I could never once make the sides even -- one would have a tight curl and one would sadly sag, and by the end of the day there was nothing left to the curls anyway. Yet I tried and tried. And please notice what I am wearing there: a turtleneck sweater to HIDE THE BURNS. Other kids had hickeys; I had failure marks from a celadon-colored curling iron trying to have the hair of a Texan beauty queen/TV star. Sigh. By 10th grade, I had enough of this and went back to the bowl cut.
But I will tell you this: all my hair failures don't seem so bad when I put them into nifty perspective with this one picture, taken from the 1980 Sears catalog:
Ladies and gentlemen, that is a BOY on the left. If he lived through this public record and going to school like that, he'd be about 40 years old or so now. Oh, how I wish I knew the story here. Wow. Well, thanks kid! You certainly rocked it. Wow.
In the small Wisconsin town where I spent my first nine years, there was a boys' military school where my dad used to work that also ran a popular summer camp. We would drive by the wooded campground and I would gawk at the little cabins, painted brown and dark green, each having an exotic Wisconsin Indian name like "Menominee" or "Oneida" or "Ho-Chunk," my favorite. In my dimming memory I seem to recall the camp as girls-only for one of the weeks of the summer, but for reasons unknown (but probably financial) I never got to attend, although I very much wanted to go. Sleepaway camp seemed exotic and exciting and adventurous, even though it was less than a quarter-mile down the same street where I lived.
Fast-forward in time, and I have my own little girl who yesterday we dropped off at a Girl Scout camp about an hour away, her very first sleepaway camp experience. Her two older brothers have been to camp several times, and I have become an expert camp-packer (pro tips: label everything, tightly roll clothing and sort by function and place in labelled Zip-Loc bags, send garbage bags for dirty and wet clothes, don't send anything you or your child wouldn't mind losing). It's a gentle little introduction to being away from home on her own: it's only 3 nights, and she is sharing a cabin with two of her best friends. I have no doubt she will have a wonderful time, despite a few last-minute tears over her worrying about the camp swim test. Awww.
Checking in with the duffle bag...checking out the other girls.
The camp store, where a t-shirt and a rustic wooden pen were purchased.
MissEight and her pal decided to get matching hats for camp.
A long wait in line for a health check -- head, feet, mouth, and temperature.
Then, off to join the other girls in their group, and meet their counselors.
With a quick hug, my job was done, and I said goodbye to MissEight as she started on her little summer adventure, 40 years and 2000 miles away from another surprisingly-similar-looking 8-year-old girl staring longingly into the woods.
One of the defining elements to my childhood was the ever-present reports about the Vietnam War. It was, of course, inescapable, even though my family was not directly impacted by it. My dad had already done his bit in WWII -- five long years in the South Pacific -- and everyone else in my extended family was either too young or too old to be sent over. But the controversy and misery surrounding that war was everywhere, like a black cloud ready at any moment to burst into shattering thunder and stabs of lightning. There wasn't a middle ground, it seemed. You were either appalled by the carnage and hopelessness of the outcome or felt that Vietnam could not ever be allowed to fall to the Communists, lest we all become usurped by that evil idealogical monster.
There were many songs protesting the Vietnam War. The Baby Boomers and the rapidly-expanding power of rock n' roll saw to that. But there were pro-war, pro-military songs as well. Sometimes, they came from the South, were strongly country-flavored in style, and relied on the tried-and-true pathos and snare of the story-in-a-song format.
The "soldier letter" was a common lyrical construction, like in Dave Dudley's "What We're Fighting For," and Autry Inman's unintentionally-hilarious "Ballad of Two Brothers."
Now, Victor Lundberg also used the letter format, this time in "An Open Letter To My Son." Holy crap. Dad Victor was definitely taking a page from the Joe Friday "Dragnet" philosophy. Settle down, Victor! Have another martini already. (Note that Lundberg and Inman pilfer "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." Must've been public domain, eh.)
My-Lai Massacre poster boy Lt. William Calley even got a song supporting his rape-y baby-murder spree. In 2009, he said he was "very sorry." Oh...thanks, man. The battle hymn...again.
The Spokesmen decided aping Barry McGuire's smash "Eve of Destruction" with their "Dawn Of Correction" was the way to fortune and fame. I think they probably all ended up as high school principals.
I guess maybe something everyone should be able to agree upon is that all wars are tragedies, and that innocent people suffer greatly, both civilians and soldiers alike, from the greed and hatred of those in power who cannot find humane ways of dealing with differences. There were thousands of soldiers trying to do what they thought was right in Vietnam...and thousands of protestors back in the States trying to do what they thought was right.
I don't recall how the topic came up and probably shouldn't, but the other day I opined to some friends that I would like to make a video of nothing but William Conrad running, as he appeared on the 1970s TV detective series "Cannon." Why? Well, to be blunt, Conrad was a man of girth and always looked awkward when waddling around after criminals with a teeny pistol. Yet he made it through every show. Bless him. Unfortunately, there's not much vintage "Cannon" footage up on YouTube for me to pilfer, so my simple and stupid idea was thwarted, dammit. But don't you worry.
If you do not recall this odd cinematic fact, the '70s spawned a spate of the genre that was dubbed the "disaster film." People flocked like gawking lemmings to films like "Airport" (don't confuse that with "Airplane," you), "The Poseidon Adventure," "The Towering Inferno," "Earthquake," and I would actually throw "Jaws" in there as well. Anyway, William Conrad also did a crap-ton of voice-over work, and his dramatic and sonorous voice was employed to narrate a series of disaster news clip films. I believe there are entire cable channels devoted to this sort of thing now.
One of Conrad's disaster films was pilfered. And the audio from another little project he did, a novelty Christmas recording (I am not kidding) was pilfered. And I combined them in a few hasty minutes to make a video even stupider than the one I set out to do. I call that a win.
*This film contains language that may get you fired, upset your mother, corrupt your children, or offend.
As I was driving around today listening to the car radio, Josiah on SIRIUS XMU was wondering what this year's big "song of summer" was going to be. The Big Songs Of Summer usually suck, so my mind wandered off from whatever Josiah was saying and I began to think of songs about summer. It's a rich topic for songwriters, almost as much as writing about winter. (When you throw all the Christmas songs in there, Winter must be declared the winner.) Fall and Spring don't get a lot of attention in songs because transitional seasons just don't have the same emotional oomph; in summer, one is giddy with sand and sun and girls in bikinis, and in winter you pine morosely for sand and sun and girls in bikinis. And thus it shall ever be.
However, Summer Songwriters sometimes lose their minds and write songs that are giddily drunk on Coppertone. There's only so much happiness one can take, after all. Here are five songs that came into my head, UNWANTEDLY SO, that are unbearably Summeriffic.
Oh, god, I hate this song. I want to pin it down to the floor and shoot it with a BB gun until it begs for mercy. I know people really, really, really love "Grease" and consider it a classic Broadway musical. I'd be OK with sending a BB or two their ways, too.
This soul-destroying mess highlights everything that's wrong with pop music now. Listen to this woman's voice. It sounds like she's got several kinds of Autotuned amphibians living in her throat. This song exists only for you to watch her shake her cans. It is so generic and unmemorable that you forget it AS IT'S PLAYING. And trust me, YOU will never be one of Jessie's "Boys In The Summer," unless you are her gardener. Also, screw you, VEVO and your annoying ads. Thank you.
I don't get the appeal of ABBA one tiny bit. Weak disco beats, appallingly-weak singing, with production that seems to have been pushed through the Blandinator with such force as to render the songs nearly sonically invisible. It is my belief that the four members of ABBA are actually space alien robots sent to consume human brains. I will not go to your "Summer Night City," ABBA!
This is like pouring acid in my ears. I don't really like hearing men sing like flatulent, irritable chihuahuas. Sorry, boys, your singing and dimwitted song ensures NO CHANCE with me. NO. CHANCE. EVER.
This may be the "summer" song I hate the most. It was a modest hit twice, the second time during the summer I was born. Unfortunately once you hear it, it lives in your brain like an evil snake winding in and out of your synapses, striking cruelly into your consciousness at inopportune moments, and in this case all moments would be classified as "inopportune." SUM SUM SUMMERTIME. MAKE IT STOP!
If I ever write a song about summer, I promise that it will not sound like an Autotuned robot chihuahua being consumed by a snake on Broadway. That's so a winter theme.
Do I not just have the best life sometimes? Well, OK, maybe I am stretching the truth just a wee bit with my title here. My assignment, as I chose to accept it, was to take a few nice photos at the Washington Brewers Festival this Sunday in Kenmore, just a few miles north of where I live, for Seattle Weekly. The fest was held at St. Edward Park, a gorgeous heavily-treed oasis, formerly a Catholic seminary, known for its wonderful fairytale playground and hiking trails. As it just so happened, I was kindly comped a beer tasting glass and several tokens upon arrival. "Why, thank you very much," I said, for I do enjoy a really good beer every so often. Being the pro I am, I declined to drink anything until I had finished my shoot...well, OK, almost finished my shoot. And also, as it just so happened, it turns out there's some pretty good looking people brewing beer in my state. Who knew?!!
I had such fun. The big crowd was family-friendly, remarkably mellow, and the brewers more than happy to chat with folks about their offerings -- over 200 craft beers! While I was there I got to eat roasted corn and a bratwurst, listened to a good band (Fortune 500), and enjoyed the immensely-entertaining Brewers Keg Toss Championship. This consisted of muscular dudes heaving empty beer kegs into the air, attempting to land the keg into a series of three baby pools filled with water, with extra points for distance and throwing flair. I got to shoot right on the field, and was in no danger of being clocked by a keg, as there were nice "keg wranglers" to grab any wayward throws.
Here's my four-question interview with MissEight, who went with me:
Me: What did you think of the Washington Brewers Festival? It was your first time going there.
MissEight: I thought it was very cool when they threw the kegs into the pools. No one made it to the last one which was 6 points, I think. They had very good food there. I had corn on the cob, a rootbeer, and cheese pizza. I saw a kidzone with bouncy houses and stuff but I didn’t go to it.
Me: Tell me about some of the people there.
M8: There was this one girl with red hair that had a backpack that looked like Yoda hanging on to her shoulders. I also saw a guy with a beer hat. Two guys were in kilts. I liked that one girl's multi-colored hair. I want my hair like that.
Me: Tell me about being my photo assistant for the day.
MissEight: I got my journal and a pen and asked people to write their names in it when you took their pictures. I also looked for interesting people in the crowd.
Me: What kind of people do you think would enjoy the Festival?
M8: People that like beer!
Indeed, my dear girl.
You can see the 15 photos that made it onto the online slideshow (I took, like, a billion) if you click right here. I'll be sure to go back next year, and many thanks to the very entertaining and accommodating Eric Radovich of the Washington Beer Commission, and of course to Seattle Weekly!
I'll gladly admit it: I'm a fan of MTV's "Jackass" franchise and its loopy hardcore brand of pratfalls, stunts, and pranks. Sure, I'll cringe, wince, and shout, "OH NO!" when I watch one of the shows or movies, but that's the intent -- for the Johnny-Knoxville-led team of man-boys to do something so crazy and outrageous that it makes you laugh while you gawk. It definitely can veer into an uncomfortable zone -- Steve-O getting burned is not funny, for instance, but maybe that's just me -- but "Jackass" is most often pretty good-natured in its comedic stupidity, and you get a sense of the strong camaraderie that exists between the show's performers and crew. I've always been sort of amazed that one of them hadn't yet died doing some of the stuff they do. And then, one of them did, today, but in a terribly sad, ordinary, totally-preventable, and totally jackass way.
Alcohol + sports car + late night + high speed = Ryan Dunn, dead at age 34, along with a yet-to-be-identified passenger. The single-car crash that took place in the early hours of June 20 in Pennsylvania was so violent and fiery that there was little left of the vehicle, or the inhabitants. Early reports are that Dunn had been drinking at a bar earlier in the evening (and even posted a photo on Twitter of himself sipping from a glass of alcohol-looking stuff), although no one has characterized Dunn as a heavy drinker and the amount of alcohol he ingested last night would not seem to have been extreme.
But it doesn't matter. There really isn't a "safe" amount of alcohol to consume before driving, despite the belief otherwise held by millions and millions of folks who routinely operate a vehicle after drinking a few beers or glasses of wine. In Dunn's case, it's unlikely that he was severely alcohol-impaired, but when it comes to reaction times, spatial judgment, and perception of speed, even a small amount of alcohol decreases mental and muscle function. When you add the other factors in, especially the rate of speed, a fraction of a second in delayed vehicle correction can mean injury or death for the occupants and for all the people that share the road with them.
It doesn't matter if Dunn drove a thousand times a little messed up and nothing bad happened. It's no excuse for anyone. There is no macho, arrogant, no-biggie, I-can-handle-my-drinks, it's-a-pain-in-the-ass-to-ask-someone-else-to-drive reality. You either are lucky one more time -- or not.
So Ryan Dunn joins the tragic common grave of all those who died far too young, for nothing more than the cost of a few drinks and a heavy foot. Tomorrow more will join him, more the next day and the next, piling on. Every day, families go through immeasurable pain dealing with the loss of a loved one, and friends never stop questioning, "What if...?" Ryan doesn't get a second take in this film, the one shown on the news channels rather than the big screen. My deepest condolences to Ryan's family and friends. He sure made us laugh watching "Jackass" and giving people a little comic relief in the world is a very good thing, and is so appreciated.
And now, I talk to you. Please please please, take some time today to think about the choices you make behind the wheel, whether you are driving after that third glass of wine, stressed out and distracted, sleep-deprived, blabbing on the phone or texting, whatever it is that impairs you and makes it far more likely you will be injured or killed on the road. Slow down, and think, and stick around.
Ah, crap! I have been SO BUSY processing photos that the time got by me today, no wait, YESTERDAY DAMMIT, and I didn't post anything! SHAME! OK, I have to get back to it, but in the meantime I will tell you that I wish SO SO SO MUCH I was in steaming hot Texas RIGHT NOW so I could see my dearest rock pal Joe "King" Carrasco as he plays a few gigs with the ORIGINAL Crowns line-up. My little vagrant heart breaks not to be there, it truly does, but I wish them the happiest of funs and if you are in the state of Texas HURRY UP and get to the last handful of shows. GO!
Here's hot off the YouTube video from the Houston show: "Party Weekend." I still have my JKC Party Weekend shirt, and if I ever finish these photos, I will go upstairs, put it on, and sleep. PAR-TAY!
As I sit here this morning at my desk, slowly waking up on a rainy day in June with the help of a very large mug of coffee, I cannot help but notice the achy stiffness in my shoulders and feet. Photographing two triple-bill club concerts on two nights in a row was a breeze when I was 20 -- now, inevitably, there is more of a physical cost. But I really don't get too bummed out about it. I am still doing something I love to do, augmented by the great gift that only comes with age: perspective. The long view, when you get there, changes everything, from knowing and accepting your backache will go on a couple days longer now to seeing so many of the beautiful, frustrating, heartbreaking, wondrous patterns that make up the world.
Ray Davies is further down along the path to perspective than I am -- 18 years further, in fact. He has been gifted, via his own talents, motivation, and the exquisite randomness of fate or luck or timing, with the extra privilege of having had a musical career that has taken him to most places in the world. As a member of the Kinks and as a solo performer, he's met thousands of people and has performed for what must be millions. He's written songs that people have played in hospital rooms while babies are being born, at their weddings, at funerals. So very many people have appreciated what he has created in his lifetime, and admire him. He has had the life experiences that most people can and will only ever dream about.
At the age of 20, Ray Davies was already famous; when I was 20, he was still famous, playing arenas, and I was photographing him. Thirty years on from that, he's still famous and admired, and I'm still clicking away. In the last couple of years as I've made my way back into the clubs after a long absence, Ray's been focusing on a couple of projects that seem to have been designed to bring the Kinks catalogue of songs to a wider audience, or to perhaps to mine something different within his most popular work ("The Kinks Choral Collection" and "See My Friends"). I was really pleased to see that Ray had been asked this year to curate Britain's Meltdown Festival, ten days of music and arts programming which concludes in London today. His choices were interesting and diverse -- from a concert by the Sonics, to comedic conversation with Michael Palin and Terry Jones of Monty Python, to a showing of the film, "Z" -- and of course, Ray also performed.
What got me thinking about time and perspective and such was "Sane," a new song Ray debuted at Meltdown. In this video, the song receives a perfect backing from the Leisure Society as Ray sings the lyrics from a handheld sheet. He takes a moment to explain the meaning of the lyrics beforehand, mentioning how the song first began to take form in a New Orleans emergency room as he recovered from a serious gunshot wound in 2004. In the seven years following the event, perspective was surely gained; hard-won, as physical and emotional effects linger. Yet, the triumph is Ray's. He survived, and through all the good and bad of a lifetime, still wants -- or needs -- to communicate to the world the experience of an individual "...pondering what his life's all about."
At 20, Ray Davies could not possibly have imagined how his life would unfold -- no one had written the playbook for extended careers in rock n' roll yet. At 20, I could not have imagined that thirty years later I would be taking photographs of a 20-year-old black dude screaming hardcore punk rock in Seattle on a Thursday night. Neither Ray nor I, nor anyone it seems, could have understood earlier in life that everything you see and do, all the people you meet, the things you make happen and the things the happen to you, add and build inside your head to construct the long view, or what that feels like. And no one could have explained how that perspective can be a tremendous comfort, or the coldest, harshest reality. The one thing that is obvious, though, is that you are who you are throughout your life; personality seems to change little. Ray's particular gift is his personality, his duality. You can see it in the last second or so in the video as he sings the words, "...pronounced sane." Relief, humor, validation...and the sadness in knowing that some kinds of pain are just never going to get better with time.
Ray Davies writes a song, I pop some Advil, and we keep moving forward, in our ways.
Last day of 3rd grade for MissEight, and the weather kindly kissed her on the cheek today for her little class get-together at a local beach park on the shores of Lake Washington. Temps in the low 70s, a soft breeze, and a mellow vibe made for a lovely couple of hours spent picnicking and swimming. I don't think there is anything more renewing than that.
I'm Marianne Spellman. I am in Seattle-ish. I like and make music and words and photos and coffee and have crappy eyesight, like every other blogger. I do freelance thingies for cool people and places every so often. I post here often.