“get down goblin” – jan terri (1994)

R-9968906-1489411664-3072.jpeg

I love good seasonal novelty songs.  No matter the season or holiday, I love them.  Christmas is around the corner, with its many goofy songs about Santa, Jesus, and the whole red and green affair, but it has overwhelmingly more novelty songs than any other season.  And with Christmas creeping into stores and our social consciousness earlier and earlier every year, it threatens to overshadow another season with equally amazing, but less obtrusive, novelty music: Halloween.

Though, like it’s jolly holiday compatriot, Halloween radio channels and playlists tend to be dominated by the same songs over and over again.  And while those songs are great, I love diving into the more nontraditional and obscure sounds of spooky season. I spent last week’s blog discussing my approach to building a Halloween playlist for each day of the month of October, but this week’s entry highlights the capstone that ends the playlist.  As is tradition, I like to do a Halloween entry about a spooky novelty song I love.  And this year marks the silver anniversary of one of my favorites.

I remember where I was when I first heard Jan Terri.  She’s not a familiar to, well, anyone.  However, she does have her fans and I am one of them. She came to my attention during freshman year of college, a time when online streaming video was making the awkward transition from an open source to see content on demand to something that could be organized enough to be monetized.  This was a period when the wild west days of YouTube were over, and rights holders and content providers were wrangling their content as the guys in suits tried to figure out how to make a buck as the landscape of content creation and distribution was changing.

I was a curious nerd and pop culture junkie who hung out with other curious nerds and pop culture junkies, with my core friend base being the students in the college radio station. We loved obscure references to things, especially music, and would share what treasures we cold uncover on the internet.  I know that all sounds so obviously hipsterish, and I’m glad I’ve moved (somewhat) away from that, but those were the priorities at the time in carving out a weirdo personality.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart was an early adopter at digitizing content and archiving shows on their own website.  You were able to go onto their site and watch full-length episodes or clips from any point in the show’s history.  You can do that now, I know, but it was incredible in 2007.  This was before “Netflix and chill” and Facebook stories and everything else that allows us to take the endless barrage of streaming video for granted.

Someone had come across a recorded news package piece from The Daily Show that originally aired on May 1st, 2000. They were profiling a short, blond women with a speech impediment about her life and cult popularity.  Born in Chicago in 1959, this woman was a limo driver who had a burning passion for music.  She recorded two albums between 1993 and 1994, Baby Blues and High Risk respectively, giving copies of her albums, as well as VHS tapes of her music videos, to her limo clients.  Towards the end of the 1990s, shock rocker Marilyn Manson was turned onto this limo driver musician and invited her out tour with him from 1998 to 1999.  Now, at the turn of the millennium, the world, or at least the audience for Comedy Central, were introduced to the greatness that is Jan Terri.

Now, the piece The Daily Show produced on Jan Terri was meant to highlight the singer’s peculiar style, finding humor in her lisp and just general attitude and ways about thinking.  This was a comedy show and this person had comedic appeal.  Though a one-time piece for a satirical news show, the advent of YouTube would carry the torch of distributing Jan Terri’s music and videos for whole new audiences laughing incredulously at this performer giving the world all she has.

“Losing You,” perhaps her most well-known song as well as my introduction, features Jan Terri wailing about the only man that matters as she spends the video riding around in a limo and singing by what looks like a water filtration system.  It is funny because it is so earnest and underground. Though, I know I was laughing for different reasons.  While others around me watched and found humor in Jan Terri’s music in this ironic “so good, it’s bad” way, I was sincere.  I really like Jan Terri’s music.  I’m drawn to anything that makes me laugh and it makes me appreciate it more. I don’t believe in liking something ironically because it establishes a hierarchy between yourself and the work of art, as if to suggest the art is somehow beneath you. If I like something, I own up to it.  As you should too.

So, over the years, I have continued my adoration and appreciation of Jan Terri.  I listen to her new music and even follow her on social media, where she now lives in Los Angeles and post pictures of her dog and tweets what meals she is making.  She also turned 60 this year and even congratulated me on a recent professional milestone I posted on Facebook. I’m social media friends with one of my favorite underground musicians that originated in the city I love and call home.  And that is fantastic.

“Losing You,” while being her most famous video, did not make the rounds in my college radio station as much as her Halloween song “Get Down Goblin” did.  We even ripped the audio and played the song on-air during Halloween rotation. Recorded in 1994, but not available on an album until it’s appearance on Jan Terri’s 2013 self-released album The Wild One, “Get Down Goblin” is a fun song about all the classic monsters coming together for a party.  Though not as famous as that other monster party song, but this one has synthesizers and a video of babes dancing in a spooky mansion.  What more can you ask for on Halloween?

“walk the night” – skatt bros. (1979)

R-1992025-1295012048.jpeg

This week’s song blog post will not serve as this year’s official Halloween entry, as that post will come next week, but there will be some spooky music season love this week.  The reason is simple. Listening to amazing Halloween music cannot be limited to one day.  It must be enjoyed the entire month of October.

Instead, this week’s entry is more focused on the art of creating curated playlists.  While the theme of the playlist I will discuss is focused on Halloween, I’ll be speaking more about what one thinks of when they create a playlist.  The process over the content.  This will be a great set-up for next week’s entry when I write my annual Halloween post.

Compared to most of my music-loving friends, I have very limited experience making curated playlists.  Crafting the perfect sequence of songs was just never a priority for me.  Even in situations where some semblance of a playlist was expected such as college radio.  My college radio station was strictly formatted except for the hours of 10 PM to midnight where students could propose and audition genre-specific specialty programming.  For three years, I had an independent soul music show, the only soul-oriented show at our station, and even then I did not put much effort into what songs I would play.  I would make it up as I went along.

I also never really made playlists for people.  Not for friends, girlfriends, or anyone else.  I cannot say what the reason why was.  Perhaps it was because I felt my tastes didn’t mesh with the those of my peers.  Perhaps that is bit of an elitist reflection, but it is the best explanation I can offer.

Now, when I was younger, I was no stranger to recording music off my stereo onto a cassette tape.  I did that in my later elementary school years during the late-90s.  Recording songs I heard on Casey Kasem’s show, I filled several tapes with top 40 songs of the era that I enjoyed.  And I would use whatever tape I could find.  I once re-recorded over a tape that contained audio of me reading from storybook in class from when I was even younger.  My parents were upset with me after that.

Once Internet file-sharing became bigger and people did not make playlists on tapes anymore, that is when my playlist-making days started to dwindle.  We had the Internet, but it was extremely slow during those days.  And my Internet usage throughout middle and high school were strictly monitored. No way in hell was I allowed to download music from the Internet.  In those days, it was believed that everything on the Internet you could illegally download was full of viruses (not a wrong assumption) or that doing the crime would land you some time and hefty lawsuit fees, the latter being one of the reasons to limit my use of the Internet.  Though, I did find some ways to download illegally from time to time.

By senior year of high school and well into my college years, the iPod was here.  Hit shuffle and you had an instant playlist.  No thought or creativity required.  Fill up your device with over 10,000 songs and hit one button to kick off your experience.  Though, unbeknownst to me, the experience would be cheapened by the effect of instant gratification.  I would skip songs endlessly before letting them playout like some kind of music junkie chasing the music dragon for the perfect song for that moment then and there, an experience that could be found when listening to the radio when you could not control what came on next.

So, considering the increasing influence and availability of technology, I had lost interest in making playlist.  Even in the early days of streaming audio, it still was not enough.  While friends were jumping on the Spotify train early and sending eachother playlists, I had moved on.

After college, after so many years, I decided to give making playlists my first serious go. I set up a private Facebook group and invited a bunch of friends.  The idea was that we would send eachother mix CDs.  However, there were some guidelines.  The mix had to have a theme, one of which was voted on by the group.  Stuff like songs about travel or summer.  Then, I would put the names in an online pairing randomizer. It would automatically generate who you would make your mix CD for.  It worked ok for a while.  I made some decent playlists, but other than one instance when someone sent me a Spotify playlist instead of an actual CD, all the people I got paired with never sent me anything.  I think we went through three or four rounds before I just stopped.

Fast forward to autumn 2019 and I’m watching television one night. I’m watching an episode of The Righteous Gemstones; a new Danny McBride comedy show on HBO.  As with McBride’s previous shows, Eastbound & Down and Vice Principals, the soundtrack choices are remarkable.  And his latest show was no exception.  Whoever he hires to do that does an incredible job at finding the right song to convey the right messages.  Songs that can oscillate between being incredibly obscure to more well known, but add so much thematic depth.

During the credits of one episode, I hear a song I had never heard before.  There was a sinister guitar, and a deep-voiced growling laughter, all over this four-on-the-floor disco beat.  Men chanting “walk the night” turned this spooky song into a creepy anthem and I was loving it.  I had to immediately look this song up.  I had to figure out who this band was and to learn their story.

The song was “Walk the Night” by Skatt Bros., a group of leather-clad masculine gay men. Their story is that they were signed to Casablanca Records, the group formed by Sean Delaney after he worked with Kiss, and released their first album Strange Spirits in 1979. “Walk the Night” broke the top ten in the disco charts. The band was considered a rougher, more sexualized version of the Village People, a comparison not appreciated by the band who considered themselves real musicians who played real instruments. Their second, and final, album would me more rock-oriented.

I loved this song instantly because it sounded so hard-driven and spooky.  Listening to the lyrics, you realize the content is a lot more homoerotic than Halloween, with the vocalist singing that the creeper following you has something in his coat that he’s gonna make you take and you’ll beg for more, but it still felt like a fun song to play at a Halloween party.  Perhaps a Halloween party that would be more at home in the Al Pacino film Cruising than a teenage costume party, but perfect for Halloween nonetheless.

I posted the song on Instagram, along with a sample, and captioned it with the hashtag “spookymusicseason.” Since then, every day in October, I have been slowly building an alternative Halloween music playlist. Where everyday, I post the single or album art representing a song, a clip, and a small piece of trivia or comment about the song.

I love Halloween music.  I really do.  Every October, I go through my morning routing listening to the curated Halloween playlists on Apple Music and Pandora.  Though, even then, it is the same songs every year.  You’re either hearing campy tunes like “With Doctor” or Monster Mash,” songs from Halloween-appropriate movies like Ray Parker, Jr.’s “Ghostbusters,” the same Halloween perennial stalwarts like Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,”  or random songs strewn in like Steve Miller Band’s “Abracadabra.”  I enjoy all of these, but it is the same thing every year.

So, with these daily Instagram posts, I have been slowly building an alternative Halloween playlist.  One that features Halloween appropriate songs that are not found on most playlists.  Songs running the gamut from the obscure to more well-known, but all of which are not featured among the more traditional Halloween music fare.

Playlists require thought.  And I know some people who spend a lot of time crafting the perfect playlists.  Since I don’t have a lot of playlist making experience, I’m still not putting a lot of time into this.  I wake up, think of a song that feels right for that day, post, and then move on.  I have asked for some feedback, and I have taken it, but I still want to spontaneity involved with the process.  As a result, there are various points where I go in interesting directions.  I can’t wait to see what comes up next between now and Halloween, where I’ll add the 31st song and then post the playlist for friends to enjoy.  Perhaps I’ll continue this as a hobby and build a small library of non-traditional seasonal playlists.  I love finding obscure, quirky music.  The more, the merrier.

The Skatt Bros. would then fade into obscurity after disbanding.  So much so that the producers of the video game Grand Theft Auto IV hired a private investigator to locate Delaney’s relatives, since he died in 2003, and get permission for the use of the track thus becoming the first pop culture use of the song since its release in 1979 until the song’s use in the 2019 episode of The Righteous Gemstones. I can’t be the only person who was amazed by the song and shared it.  So, I hope my Halloween playlist gives it some extra life in some small way.

“oh, good grief!” – vince guaraldi (1968)

R-803247-1160353972.jpeg

When a friend had invited a group of people on social media to fly kites yesterday, I had some preconceived notions on how this was going to turn out. Or at least for me.  I can count on one hand how many times I have flown a kite, and I was not very successful at it.  I figured that I would show up, fail spectacularly at flying a kite, and then spend the rest of my time eating snacks and talking to people.  Little did I know that I would go an adventure and leave with an excellent story.

I was in a rather bitter mood by the time I got to Cricket Hill, the rare hill in Chicago that is in a park near Montrose Harbor.  I had left a volunteer meeting and was pretty grouchy about someone being rude to me.  I waited on the hill just stewing as the chilly wind blew around me.  When my friend showed up with her kites, I started to vent.  She told me to take it easy, fly a kite, and then I would feel better.

I was the first in the group to get a kite together and got it in the air.  It was amazing! I had traditionally had mediocre experiences flying kites.  Here I was, flying a kite and trying to get it as high as I could go.  It was fun, exciting, and I was certainly calming down.  I managed to keep the kite in the air the entire time.  Even when it looked like it was about nosedive into the ground, I saved it at the last second and it went soaring back up again.  I stood there thinking about how amazing it would be to fly around.  I had an absolute blast, and so did everyone else.

A man and his small daughter came by and we asked if they wanted to fly kites with us.  The man was a bit of an expert at kites.  He was talking to us about the model types, tips and tricks to get it soaring and steady, and talked about his kite collection.  I never thought about the technique behind kite flying. After hearing about it, it made sense.  Kites were just never on my radar.

We all shared kites and trade them mid-air.  One I had my eye on was this giant orange whale with a windsock.  The kite expert was telling me that the design of this whale kite required minimal amount of wind.  He then told me about the purpose of the windsock and how the size and shape of the kite’s windsock affects the performance of the kite. It was all great to learn and I was having fun.  And part of that fun was seeing how high I could make this kite soar.

I let out the entire length of string.  I don’t know how long the string was, but it must’ve been a few hundred feet.  My whale was soaring higher than any of the other kites.  I called out to everyone to see.  I then thought it was too high, so I started to reel the kite back in.  The kite expert stood nearby and told me to watch out so as not to break the string.  And, like it happens in the movies, cosmic forces came together to ensure that, within seconds of him saying that, my kite string would be destined to break.  And break it did, with the kite expert saying, “that’s going to end up in the lake.”

I panicked a bit.  This was a very nice kite my friend got.  I didn’t want to lose it.  Sure, I could pay for the kite I lost due to my own negligence in letting it out so high.  But I wanted to at least give it a solid effort to catch the kite before it was lost in the vastness of Lake Michigan.

I ran down the hill eastward towards the lake. For those unfamiliar with the topography of this area, running to the lake from Cricket Hill is not a straight shot.  In my way was a huge fenced parking lot. While it usually has some gates open, it did not at that time.  So, I ran around the length of the parking lot, losing site of the kite.

When I got to the other end of the parking lot, I must’ve sprinted a half mile before I stopped and surveyed the area.  If I was a kite, I thought. Where would I end up? Around that area, there are park grounds, beaches, boat harbors, and a wooded bird sanctuary.  All covering an area of several square smiles.  Plus, it was super windy.  This kite could be anywhere.

As am I surveying and walking towards a walking trail through the park, I see orange fabric in a tree.  I squinted and ran closer.  And it was the kite! I could not believe that it took me only a few minutes to locate the kite.  And though I was able to find the kite quickly, I had a much bigger problem.  It was at the very top of this tree.  A tall, thin tree with branches very few, small branches that could support a grown man’s weight and it’s closest branches to the ground were easily a few feet beyond my grasp.

I just stood and stared at the kite.  It was right there!  I was so close.  As I was staring at the kite, some teenagers walked by and laughed at me.  I get it.  It is funny.  But I was determined to get this kite back.  I was thinking about my best options to get to the top of the tree and looked around.  Down the trail was a one-story building where people can buy snacks and rent kayaks.  The building was closed for the season, but there were men with blowtorches on the roof doing some work.

I ran over and asked them if they had a ladder I could borrow.  I fully expected them to say no, but I explained my situation with the kite.  They had no problem lending me the ladder they used to get on top of the building.  They just told me come back with it because it was their only way off the building.  And the ladder they loaned me was a solid 30-foot ladder fully extended.  Surely this would do the trick.

I ran back to the tree with the ladder and extended it as high as it would go.  Even then, the ladder was not long enough for me to climb to the top wrung and grab the kite.  I also had another problem.  This was not a very sturdy tree.  While the right side of the ladder rested against one of the thicker branches, the left side was being supported by twigs.  A few steps up and the twigs were snapping.  I needed help.

Since the weather was windy, gray, and on the colder side, not many people were out.  I needed someone to hold the ladder for me.  I waited a few minutes and the first person who came by was a jogger.  I waved him down and asked if he could hold my ladder, but he just pointed to his headphones and kept running.  So, I kept waiting.

After a few more minutes, I saw two couples walking an adjacent trail.  I was hoping they were going to turn towards me.  When they turned in the opposite direction, I yelled for them.  The couples were in their 50s and I explained that I needed someone to help support the ladder while I grabbed the kite. And, thankfully, they agreed.

I repositioned the ladder and climbed to the top.  On the last wrung, holding onto the tree, I was thinking about my options.  The kite was way to high.  Also, I was scared.  I actually have a few of heights, and here I was in a tall tree with thin branches, swaying with the wind.  The guys holding the ladder called down asking if I had a pole to knock it loose.

I rand back to the roofers and asked if they had a pole.  They pointed to an old pvc pipe that had rusted wiring attached to some metal piece.  It was a solid ten-foot pipe.  I pulled the wiring out and rand back to the track, climbed the ladder, and attempted to knock the kite loose.

If I was scared before, I was even more so now.  I held onto the tree tightly and swung the pipe around thus making the tree and branches move even more.  After a few minutes, I was able to dislodge some of the kite.  Though, it was not enough.  I would have to climb higher and pull it out by hand.

I climbed above the ladder placed my footing on branches that stuck out upward from the main trunk.  My shoes were an old pair of Converse shoes I was trying to blow out as long as I could, long enough to get me to the first snowfall when I transition to boots.  So, there is no tread left and my feet are slipping.

I grabbed a hold of the kite and I was pulling hard.  The branches it was stuck on were not that thick and I wanted them snap.  So, I’m really high in this tree, standing on branches, pulling a kite and cause the top of the tree to sway and shake.  I kept thinking that this was not how I wanted to die, and I had thoughts of falling and ending up paralyzed.  Neither of those situations sounded good to me.

After a few minutes and some hearty tugs, I managed to get the kite out of the tree.  I was shaking as I was climbing down the ladder.  I could not believe what just happened.  It was luck that I found the kite.  It was luck that I managed to borrow a ladder in a rather empty park.  It was luck that I found some helpful people.

I talked to these good Samaritans and introduced myself. They were from out of town, one couple from Minneapolis and the other from Seattle, and were just visiting Chicago for a few days.  I could not believe that.  It was so funny.  The wives then asked me to pose with their husbands and the kite as a document of their vacation in Chicago, when they helped a stranger get a kite out of a tree.  One of the wives also told me she took photos of me in three and I could not believe it.  I had a great laugh.

We talked for a bit and then I head back to Cricket Hill, feeling victorious. I ran up that hill like I was Kate Bush, holding my arms up in victory, and hooting the entire time.  Everyone was amazed that I had found the kite and were blown away by the story of how I got it.  They were actually kind of worried about me.  They texted me, but I did not take my phone with me when I ran after the kite.  They were glad to see that I was safe and loved the photos.

I left the experience with a great story. As mentioned, I could have replaced the kite. However, I wanted to at least try to get it back.  And when I saw the kite, right there in front of me, I wanted to feel like I did everything I could to get it back.  Now, if it was in Lake Michigan, I would not have swum after it or stolen a boat to get it.  I would’ve whipped out my credit card, opened my Amazon app, and clicked “Buy Now” with Prime delivery.

I like this story because it is funny, but it also reflects the kind of person I am.  I like who I am.  I am someone who cares about their friends and does not want to go half measure in life. I want my friends to know that I care enough about them that I’ll climb a tree on a windy day to get back their kite.  They mean that much to me.  Though, I’m glad they did not see me do this because they would have had a heart attack. When we’re all old and dying, and when they think of me, I want them to think about these shared moments.  Flying kites and me running into adventure to get one back.

I’m no Charlie Brown.  I will face the Kite-Eating Tree and enjoy the spoils of victory. So, I figured this story was a good way to spotlight the work of Vince Guaraldi and his memorable musical moments from Peanuts.

Guaraldi contributed a contemporary jazz soundtrack to many Charlie Brown movies and television specials, most notably A Charlie Brown Christmas from 1965.

In 1968, Guaraldi released Oh, Good Grief! featuring jazz cuts scored to characters such as Linus, Lucy, and Peppermint Patty as well as piece for Snoopy’s Red Baron. Included on the album is the titular song “Oh, Good Grief!” which perfectly encapsulated my thoughts when I saw the kite in the tree.

The Kite-Eating tree made it’s first appearance in a Sunday strip from March 3rd, 1968.  In addition to kites, the tree also ate Schroeder’s piano when Lucy threw it in there in a strip from January 23rd, 2969.  The tree would appear in the film A Boy Named Charlie Brown and appear in various incarnations over the years.

Everyone else can be a Charlie Brown and sacrifice their kite to the tree.  I will not.

“how dare you” – g.t. (2019)

1

Without a doubt, climate change is the single biggest threat the planet faces.  The man-made impact on our environment, caused by burning fossil fuels resulting in huge amounts of carbon pollution that trap more heat within the atmosphere, has been a contentious debate despite the overwhelming evidence provided by the scientific community. Even though virtually every scientist confirms that humans have the biggest impact on climate and are accelerating the process, large lobbying groups, corporations, and many politicians stand in the way of progress towards reversing the effects of climate change caused by humans.

I have grown up my entire life learning about climate change, then referred to as global warming, and the need for society to find alternative solutions that can slow down, and preferably, reverse the effects of climate change. Having been born in the late 1980s, the debate has been going on since before I was born.  And while there has been increased awareness and technological advancements over the course of my lifetime, I do not feel like we have gotten any to implementing a solution.

As time goes on, it gets increasingly more difficult to not be depressed by the impact of climate change. The Internet is full of before-and-after photos where you can see the direct impact of climate change; photos from several decades ago that show majestic glaciers that now, with the camera in same spot, only show brown land since the glaciers have melted away.  I even find myself reviewing rising sea level projections and how it will impact my life in Chicago in the coming decades if I were to stay. Even since moving here in 2011, I have sensed considerable differences in the season in 2019; summer being hotter, winter being colder, and the transitional seasons of autumn and spring all too short to enjoy.

The depressing aspect of all this isn’t just the inconvenience with dealing with hotter and colder temperatures for longer periods of time.  It breaks my heart to see emaciated animals desperately searching for food sources that were abundant in years priors, but now are becoming scarce due to rising air and water temperatures. It hurt to see how far back glaciers receded when I visited Alaska last far, and to read about the increased wildfires and dying salmon this past season.

Even beyond the photos of melted glaciers and starving animals, there are other ways we have seen the effects of climate change.  The Syrian refugee crisis offers us our most stark look into the future and how climate change will increasingly impact our lives. While the people of Syria are fleeing a murderous dictatorship and civil war, droughts cause by climate change played a significant role in the biggest humanitarian crisis of my lifetime thus far.

With all that going on, and continuing to happen, it becomes easy to become cynical and nihilistic about everything.  There are things I can do on an individual level to help such as recycling or reducing my meat intake.  However, that is not enough. Me throwing my Pepsi bottle into a blue bin is not going to do a goddamn thing. Real, discernible change has to happen systemically, and this requires our corporate and political leaders to implement the change. They must be held accountable to work to change broken laws, update antiquated technology, and enforce energy regulations.

Virtually everyone, barring the few extremist exceptions, agrees that climate change is happening.  The problem comes from people disagreeing on the cause of climate change and the solutions.  Those who do not see climate change as an issue deny the impact humans have on the environment, citing that climate change happens naturally and cyclically.  While that is true, the act of sticking one’s head in the sand about the effects humans have is unfathomable, especially at this stage.

The other issue boils down to jobs.  Some people use jobs and the economy as an excuse to oppose any climate change innovation.  Regardless of the fact that evidence shows the alternative energy industry will not replace fossil fuel jobs, and present ways for coalminers natural gas workers to transition to a new industry, huge lobbyists stoke fear within the working class about how green energy will kill their jobs, thus ensuring an endless cycle where politicians earn their positions by promising their constituents to oppose any climate change legislation.

Thank whatever-your-preferred-deity for Greta Thunberg, the teenage Swedish environmental activists, who started her cause by advocating for stronger action on global warming by spending her school days protesting outside the Swedish parliament. Her first action as an activist occurred in August 2018 and now, a year later, has inspired millions of teenagers around the world like her to take to the streets challenging those in power for passing the climate change buck to them and, in their view, dooming their future.

Thunberg, in August 2019, sailed the Atlantic Ocean from the United Kingdom to New York in a yacht to speak at the United Nations Climate Change Summit.  On September 23rd, Thunberg delivered a fiery and passionate speech.  “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood,” Thunberg told the UN, “with your empty words.” She laid out how, for over three decades, the science has been clear about collapsing ecosystems and blamed world and industry leaders for being too focused on jobs and economy.  Thunberg took them to task for claiming they understood the urgency, but failing to provide sustainable solutions. Despite declaring such a willful act to ignore the crisis as evil, Thunberg had the gracious insight to suggest that these leaders are still capable of doing the right thing by refusing to believe that any lack of progress of is because of a direct desire to inflict harm upon the world.

Thunberg’s speech, and the resulting climate strikes, were incredibly inspiring. In a time where it is all too easy to negative about the future, Thunberg fills me with hope. Her passion in infectious and I become optimistic that the future is in good hands.

Thunberg’s speech also had an impact in the world of music. John Meredith, thrash-metal drummer for Suaka, put Thunberg’s speech into ProTools and turned a charged political speech into a head-banging metal anthem. “When I saw her speech, I was very impressed by her passion and outrage,” Meredith said. “And the words she chose just evoked the darkness of the metal music I love: Entombed, Gojira, At the Gates, Sepultura.” Meredith could not adjust Thunberg’s voice to sound metal enough, so he growled along with Thunberg giving the speech and improvised the guitar.

Meredith released the Thunberg metal project as “How Dare You” under the moniker of G.T., Thunberg’s initials. A video was released for the project and proceeds from the single are benefitting Greenpeace. Thunberg, in response to the heavy metal version of speech, had a sense of humor about the project tweeting “I have moved on from this climate thing. From now on I will be doing death metal only!”

Following Thunberg on Twitter, I am impressed by her tenacity, passion, and strength. So many trolls and toxic pieces of shit have come out from under their rocks in their parents’ dens to blast Thunberg on social media. The fact a 16-year-old Swedish girl is instilling so much fear in these sad white men that they feel the need to lash out speaks to the power and truth of her mission.  She’s a stronger person than I will ever be and I champion her, and all the other teenage climate activists out there, fighting to make their future livable.

 

“i am what i am” – gloria gaynor (1983)

R-9889231-1488022227-3291.jpeg

I have been sick this week so far and, of course, it is never really fun.  Generally, I have a pretty robust immune system.  It is a very rare occurrence that I get sick, at least enough to where I need to take a whole bunch of medicine, skip work and social engagements, and sleep most of the time. When I do get sick, it really hits me hard and I spend several days exaggerating to myself that I am at death’s door as I get winded walking to the bathroom. Melodramatic sure, but go easy.  I’m sick.

I was hoping to spend this week’s edition of my blog to cover the impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump, but that will have to wait.  I’ve been behind on the news as I’ve been sleeping most of the time and using what little awake time to watch funny things on tv and read on the couch.  So, that topic will have to wait.  Instead, please enjoy this week’s filler post.  Since starting this blog in 2015, I’ve acknowledged that not every post will be a stunning example of online personal and music blogging.  Sometimes, it is fine to just phone it in as an excuse to reaffirm some basic ideas.

On Sunday, I went to bed early.  Like 4 PM early.  A close friend spent the afternoon watching South Park and Archer with me until it became too difficult to keep my eyes open.  That evening, I originally had tickets to a concert but had to forfeit them to a friend because I was just to unfit to go.  So, might as well just escape reality and head into flu medicine induced dreamland.

I slept rather solidly, but woke up around 3:30 AM on Monday in a cold sweat.  I could not go back to sleep, so I just laid there in the dark for a few hours.  Spending my time thinking.  About what? Well, future long-term plans, things I needed to get done once I got better, upcoming social plans, and other general life stuff.

Though, I also took a considerable amount of time to think about my life and take stock of all the good things in it.  Doing that is always a great exercise.  It is a method in practicing mindfulness and living in the moment.  Appreciating what you have and the loved ones in your life is always important, so it is good to remember that especially when things are not that fun at the moment.

Recently, I received a reminder about someone toxic from my past.  I do not really want to go into specifics, but this reminder was upsetting for a bit.  For a few moments, I was taken back to a time where my life was a lot different than it was now.  Since disconnecting from this toxic individual, I had to do a lot of work refocusing my life and moving in a direction that was healthy for me. This meant doing a complete self-evaluation, identifying where I was lacking with regards to my self-care, and then building the network structure that could provide and support me.

And I am happy to say that I have all those things now.  I have a strong network of friends, creative pursuits, professional endeavors, and other things that allow me to continue to develop and grow as a human being. Not only am I happy that I have these things, I find satisfaction in the fact those are happening for me because they are things I worked for.

When something about the past brings you down and makes you sad, that is fine. People who just do not get what you’re feeling will often tell you to just move on.  From this toxic person in my life, I have moved on.  My life is so much better without them because of all the things I have worked to achieve since then.  However, the myth about moving on that some people subscribe to is that, if you truly moved on, you cannot talk about or be affected by whatever past trauma.  And that is simply untrue.  Being bothered by this recent resurfacing of past trauma does not suggest I have not moved on.  It bothered me, and then I was able to talk myself into a better state of mind.  And being temporarily upset about something from the past does not lessen the significance of good things in my life now.  If anything, it reinforces the positive things that are currently in my life.

So, for this week’s post, I wanted an uplifting song to help me get out of this flu funk and reflect that my life is pretty great.

Originally composed for the Broadway musical La Cage aux Folles, “I Am What I Am” is a celebration of life and not conforming to societal expectations.  Originally composed by Jerry Herman, an openly gay man, about doubling down on the love of his sexual identity, the song reached new heights as a club hit for disco diva Gloria Gaynor in 1983 for her 1984 album I Am Gloria Gaynor.  The song is a call to arms to celebrate the highs and lows that life has to offer where for every ace that get played, you get dealt a deuce.  Where the drum your banging is noise to some, but it is pretty to you.  Where you do not need to offer excuses about how you live your life because you are good, strong, and somebody.