Tag Archives: Cat Stevens

August Newsletter: A Review of the Month’s Culture, Arts + Trends

26 Aug

HOT DOG DAYS OF AUGUST

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How hot is it? Real Feel: 118 degrees – wow! … This has been one hot summer for most everyone everywhere. Hope you (and your dogs) are keeping cool wherever you are … Prediction: There will be snow soon enough!

 

THE BOSS TELLS HIS STORY

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“I come from a boardwalk town where almost everything is tinged with a bit of fraud. So am I. By 20, no race-car-driving rebel, I was a guitar player on the streets of Asbury Park … But I held four clean aces. I had youth, almost a decade of hard-core bar band experience, a good group of homegrown musicians who were attuned to my performance style and a story to tell.” … From the forward to Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography, Born to Run, to be released in September.

 

SO HOW’D YA WRITE THAT SONG?

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Many were mollified at the unquestionably correct verdict that, no, Led Zeppelin did not steal a lesser known band’s music for their not derived, resplendent, iconic Stairway to Heaven Robert Plant testified in court on the song’s origins: “…I sat with Jimmy by the fire, and he began playing. And I had this little couplet lyrically that, if you like, in tempo, fitted into what he was playing. So I just started developing that into two lines, then four lines, and then on, slowly, opening it up…‘There’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold, and she’s buying a stairway to heaven. And when she gets there she knows that the stores are all closed; with a word she can get what she came for.’…I was really trying to bring in that aspect of Welsh, the beauty and the remoteness of the pastoral Britain…Meanwhile, the guys were working on opening up the song and its transition into something that was really flowering and it was quite a thing as we moved on through the song, to open it up and to turn around various parts of it and see it develop into something I couldn’t even imagine.” … Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, that’s how they wrote that song.

 

DON’T STOP BELIEVIN’!

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The Nutcracker. Swan Lake. 1812 Overture. The celebrated Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840–1893) believed that one must keep working and working, just keep at it, and inspiration will happen … “We must always work, and a self-respecting artist must not fold his hands on the pretext that he is not in the mood. If we wait for the mood, without endeavoring to meet it half-way, we easily become indolent and apathetic. We must be patient, and believe that inspiration will come to those who can master their disinclination” … Two centuries later, producer, songwriter, and lead singer and guitarist of The White Stripes, Jack White echoes Tchaikovsky’s ideal … “Inspiration and work ethic — they ride right next to each other…Not every day you’re gonna wake up and the clouds are gonna part and rays from heaven are gonna come down and you’re gonna write a song from it. Sometimes, you just get in there and just force yourself to work, and maybe something good will come out.”

 

PEPSI-COLA HITS THE SPOT

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The distinctive Pepsi-Cola sign in Long Island City, Queens, that faces the East River and Manhattan, is now an official New York City landmark. Its bright red swirly lettering has long been a welcoming beacon on the waterfront. Crowning Pepsi’s bottling plant at this site in 1940, its reconstruction in 1993 was faithful to the original sign. The 50-foot painted Pepsi bottle was probably replaced in the 1970s with an updated bottle design. Serving as a longstanding and well-known branding symbol, this sure is a testament to the power of a great marketing imprint.

 

READY FOR LIFT-OFF

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Another should be New York City landmark are the Metropolitan Opera’s spacey chandeliers. Who doesn’t ooh and aah as the world-famous show before the show starring 12 radiant starbursts begin their ascendency as the lights fade? A gift made by the Austrian government to thank the US for its help after WWII, it was a shining symbol of the friendship between Austria and the US. Fondly named sputniks, their design was inspired by the post-war era’s International Space Race and the Big Bang. And now they have been mechanically overhauled, outdated equipment for raising and lowering them updated. Let the oohing and aahing begin!

 

YOU MAY SAY HE’S A DREAMER

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“Let’s see, I think it was Jack Lemmon and Yoko Moto,” said Leon Wildes when asked the names of his new clients. With immigration and deportation hot-button issues in this election year, how timely and informative this new book is about John Lennon’s four-year battle to stay in the US. Wildes was John and Yoko’s lawyer, an expert on immigration law. Insights abound. We see that the debate about discretionary targeting of political protestors was as relevant then as it is now. Richard Nixon may have wanted John banished but, as Wildes states, “Thanks to [Lennon’s] willingness to fight, we managed to discover and helped create a remedy for impossible cases.” Funny how John’s 1972 deportation case with its societal significance and legal impact, is as essential a lasting legacy as is the extraordinary music he left us.

 

…AND SPEAKING OF JOHN’S MUSIC

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Netflix’s new animated series, Beat Bugs, tells stories through Beatles songs, teaching kids life lessons while turning them on to great music! About a quintet of kid characters and their insect friends, Eddie Vedder performs as Jasper, a grasshopper who takes the insects on a Magical Mystery Tour. Pink sings Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds as Lucy the dragonfly, and yes, she has kaleidoscope eyes. James Corden sings I’m A Loser and Sia covers Blackbird. All You Need is Love is the theme song. Animated bugs singing Beatles songs? I’m taking that Ticket to Ride!

 

RIP, MENTSCH

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Law & Order is just a fact of life. It permeates countless homes. Who doesn’t love feeling the palliative power of watching L&O reruns over and over again? Switching channels, we are compelled to stop when there’s an episode airing. We know the words, we know whodunnit, we know the wisecracks. Especially those pithy gems spoken by Manhattan DA Adam Schiff, Steven Hill’s character. Hill even studied the law to make his character more convincing. Born Solomon Krakovsky to Russian Jewish immigrants, he passed away August 23. A devoted Orthodox Jew, he did not work on Shabbos, which was written into all his contracts. And when Hill resigned after a decade on L&O, in the show Adam Schiff resigned to work with a Holocaust organization. Oh, and he played the rabbi in Yentl. I admired him. A great actor who stayed true to his faith, Steven Hill had a deep sense of his own purpose and a heartfelt compassion which he exuded in every one of his roles. “Take the deal.”

 

I LOVE MY DOG

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I love my dog as much as I love you
But you may fade, my dog will always come through.

All he asks from me is the food to give him strength
All he ever needs is love and that he knows he’ll get.

All the pay I need comes shining through his eyes
I don’t need no cold water to make me realize that.

 

It is the 50th anniversary of Yusuf/Cat Stevens’ first hit single release, I Love My Dog in 1966. That was followed by The First Cut Is The Deepest, Wild World, Hard Headed Woman, Where Do the Children Play?, Father & Son, Morning Has Broken, Peace Train, and Moonshadow. Did you forget he wrote all those great songs? He’s on tour to celebrate his 50th anniversary as an artist – even playing New York City for the first time since 1976! Through his charity, Small Kindness, a portion of every ticket goes to UNICEF and International Rescue Committee to help children affected by the current refugee crisis. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014, his most recent albums (2006’s An Other Cup is excellent!) are as notable as his early ones we cherish.

 

I LOVE MY RESCUE DOG

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So there’s this cartoon about the wonders of rescuing a dog. If you’ve ever adopted a dog, you will relate to comic artist Bird Born’s simple yet right-on telling of how he welcomed home his new friend. Remember, we never know where they are from, what kind of damage has been inflicted on them, nor are we ever assured that they’ll forget their history. But, we can shower them with loads and loads of love, make them feel safe, and show them the world will be a better place for them. Born’s experience in We’ve Taken A Dog From An Animal Shelter is a mirror of our experience, too. It’s the story of fear turning into owning the couch, the bed, the easy chair, well, you know the rest.

 

WE CAN HELP

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The ASPCA has dispatched its Disaster Response Team to Louisiana to conduct water rescues for animals displaced by the area’s devastating floods resulting from three days of torrential rain. Donations will help the ASPCA “give people peace of mind while they cope with this crisis by making sure their pets are safe.”

 

Soundtrack to this Issue

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U2’s I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For

 

One can relate to this gospel-influenced anthem from U2, especially heading into fall’s new beginnings. This is critic Jeff Jensen’s description: “[It] is my bridge over troubled water, a psalm of reorientation in times of disorientation. It embraces hopeful paradoxes: that doubt and faith are compatible, that certainty doesn’t preclude a constant search for truth … a bittersweet hymn that calls me to look up when I’m down and keep clear-eyed when I’m fogged.”

 

C’mon, sing along, you know the words:

I have climbed the highest mountains
I have run through the fields
Only to be with you
Only to be with you.

I have run, I have crawled
I have scaled these city walls
These city walls
Only to be with you.

But I still haven’t found
What I’m looking for.
But I still haven’t found
What I’m looking for.

 

 

 

Who rescued whom?

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At the New York Tartan Day Parade.
So grateful for Barkley coming into my life.
Thanks to Westie Rescue of New England.

Buddha, stay. Good dog. z”l

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“…live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”
(Buddha)

 

Sources:
Bruce quote: Bruce Springsteen official website brucespringsteen.net
Robert Plant trial pic: Mona Shafer Edwards
Robert Plant quote: Rolling Stone, August 16, 2016
Tchaikovsky quote: Life and Letters of Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky by Modeste Tchaikovsky (University Press of the Pacific 2004)
Jack White quote: from the documentary, Under Great White Northern Lights
Leon Wildes quotes: John Lennon vs. The U.S.A.: The Inside Story of the Most Bitterly Contested and Influential Deportation Case in United States History (American Bar Association, August 2016)
Beat Bugs pic: Netflix
I Love My Dog lyrics: Cat Stevens ©Universal Music Publishing Group
Soundtrack quote: Jeff Jensen/Entertainment Weekly August 12, 2016
U2’s I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For lyrics: Adam Clayton, Dave Evans, Larry Mullen, Paul David Hewson, Victor Reina ©Universal Music Publishing Group

 

Mourning Has Not Broken…Yet

16 Nov

I miss you so much, My Beautiful Buddha Boy. The second week of missing you did not get easier. In fact, it was harder.

I said before that sadness sucks. Mourning sucks even more. What are you supposed to do? Think? Not think? Dwell? Not dwell? Well, I did think, I did dwell, I also walked around, I sat down, got up and walked around again. Repeated over and over. I even crawled into bed twice in daytime. Oh, and all while crying, howling, wailing, sniffling.

What I do know is that there is no supposed to, that much I know. Sadness is this thing that you just can’t say, “Go away,” and it goes. It doesn’t. It can’t. It just stays. Until I guess one day it isn’t there. Or it isn’t there like a big heavy cloud-like boulder above your head weighing you down. That day is not yet here. My friends say, “It’s ok, take a step at a time.” Step at a time. That is good advice. I have been doing that, little by little. Cleaning out Buddha’s things, giving some away, keeping those things dear to me, writing, making a book, and reading all my messages and cards.

You established your covenant with us through the family of Noah, and with every living creature, the birds, the cattle, and with every beast of the earth that came out from the ark. (Genesis 9:10)

Dogs. It’s been said that they are all about unconditional love. But I think it’s so much more than that. It’s not that they just give us that. Well, it is, because they do. But I think we need to deserve such an awesome gift. Because that is a huge gift. And we better be worthy of it. I hope that I was. Because Buddha deserved that from me. I took care of him. With love. And with unconditional devotion. Through lots of medical issues, I did my best for him. I loved taking care of him. I really did. It didn’t matter to me what was needed. I did it. You just do. And now I just miss him so much. It hurts. He was my precious, precious baby. Adorable and loving and sweet and kind. How could I not be missing him? He is irreplaceable.

I lost someone I love. I had a beautiful baby boy and now I don’t. Thirteen and a half years flew by. Where did they go? I can’t reconcile these things. Buddha’s no longer here. I look for him. He’s not here. It feels like he’s here. I trip over him. And I trip over his water bowl. And then I realize that he’s not here. And the bowl’s no longer there on the floor. It went by so fast. How did that happen?

Our pets give us the gift of unqualified and unconditional love. They love us, and love us and love us some more, and there is always more love where that came from. When they become a part of our lives they become a very special part of our family life and all that we share. We thank You, O God, for all that they gave to us. Compared to the number of years that we humans live, their lives are brief. And when their lives come to an end, we feel the pain of our loss, because a beloved member of our family has died.

I lost him on Halloween. Every year he was the Angel Boy. So not only was halloweenangelhe an Angel Boy with real wings this Halloween, he will be my angel boy always.

Goodbye is not an option. He’s always with me. As I am with him. I know that. I can feel that.

(Buddha with his angel wings on Halloween.)

I was reminded this week of a news story on Barbie’s birthday about Stanley, a man who collects Barbie dolls. He said, “You’re always in a good mood because you always have beauty around you.” Writing about it at the time, I noted, “He made happiness.” Because Barbie made him happy, that’s what he surrounded himself with. How wonderful is that? I, too, made happiness. Buddha and I had a happy home. It’s a wonderful thing to make happiness. And it’s even a better thing to be grateful for it. While you’re in it. And after it’s gone.

Was it by chance or by fate that the two songs I have referenced during this time, Here Comes The Sun (see previous blog post) and Morning Has Broken, both speak of sunlight – the light that brings hope for a new day. That both these songs I find comfort in lyrically and melodically. That both are by songwriters – George Harrison and Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam now) respectively – who sought spiritual enlightenment wholeheartedly, candidly, and publicly. That here’s my Buddha Boy, suitably named, for he was truly a Buddha inside and out. And that I have found comfort in such an inadvertent coincidence. Call it a fluke, godsend, blessing, or stroke of luck. By any definition, it’s all a reflection of my Buddha and my love for him.

Buddha. He was love, peace, beauty, kindness. He was light. He was life. He was a mitzvah. Buddha, thank you for being my dog. Your mother loves you forever and ever. Amen.

Morning Has Broken
Morning has broken, like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for them springing fresh from the world
Sweet the rain’s new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dewfall, on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where his feet pass
Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the one light, eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God’s recreation of the new day

 

Sources:
Pet prayer: Adapted from Rabbi Neal Schuster
Barbie collector: ABC News/GMA, March 9, 2013
Morning Has Broken: Words by Eleanor Farjeon and music by Cat Stevens, 1971 (BMG Rights Management), from the album Teaser and the Firecat.

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