Monday, March 31, 2014

Alice's Restaurant and Lyrical Ink

You never know what you're going to find at the thrift store. Besides the almost guaranteed great find, they are a good place to escape to.

After my last post, I bet you thought I was going to admit to a different escape. For a lunchtime break or after a day of housecleaning, I head there in hopes of finding a great vintage record or some other unique treasure.

I did pretty well the other day and snatched up a couple of 60's vinyl beauties:

Simon & Garfunkle's  Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme and Arlo Guthrie's Alice's Restaurant.

I must have been a preteen when I first heard Arlo Guthrie's endearingly tinty voice sing that chorus. "You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant." And on and on he sings with the audience joining in.

Side one is 16 minutes of Arlo telling a story in a down-home, folksy, bluesey humorous style about the irony of it being unlawful to litter, (accidentally of course)  but OK to shoot people up in war. It's your classic Anti-Vietnam War protest song in the height of the 60's counter-culture peace movement.

Later that week, hubby and I drove up to Northwood to Harold's Coffee Lounge for a 2014 version of an artsy gathering.

 'Lyrical Ink' meets once a month for an open mic and a special artist showcase.

The evening wasn't far from 1969 and Arlo's event. Everyone sang along to songs they knew. There was an awesome DJ that followed every act with the perfect song. We heard several Spoken Word offerings about unrequited love, race conflict and faith.

 Jeanette, who hosts the show is a natural Master of Ceremonies with an adorable personality.

She is a gifted Spoken Word artist, too, presenting several of her own pieces to celebrate her birthday. Loved her vulnerable Scars. Her scathing lyric about being used as a tool by the object of her affection to help him hook up with her best friend was an acerbic masterpiece.

Then there was this teenage girl, whose hair reminded me of Princess Elsa's in Frozen, who recited her poetry for the first time. She spoke it to her boyfriend in the audience. (Awe!)

 I was expecting "you and me, happy as can be," lyrics, but she was a true wordsmith and amazed us all at her premier reading.

There was a flute/keyboard/dejimbe latin-jazz combo doing Besame Mucho and a ringer on his way back to Manhattan who serenaded us in french, fairly taking us up into the hovering clouds, with his Autumn Leaves on exquisitely played guitar.

Lyrical Ink felt a lot like how I imagine Alice's Restaurant may have 40 years ago. It was a lush garden of syllables and meter and song.

We were a bunch of community artists sharing their lives through melody and words.

You should come next month. It happens the third Friday of every month. Share your gift on the open mic, in the open air. Laugh and enjoy the local talent.

One of the presenters may end up with a project and musical legacy as enduring as Guthrie's and Garfunkle's.

You never know.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Beach Day: Pot to the right. Pot to the Left!

Another perfect day in paradise. The March mercury shows 73 degrees in South Florida. So I do what every normal person does. Blow off responsibility and coerce my husband to take a beach trip. In this case it was taxes I left behind on my dining room table in exchange for the sun.

Lake Worth Beach recently underwent a face-lift. They added undulating pathways, landscaping and benches to beautify the once seamy hang - out.  Del Rey is our beach of choice, but Lake Worth was closer. Getting a late start, we took our chances that the Lake Worth upgrades would attract a better clientele.

We planted our towels and umbrella far south of the pier to escape the crowds. Backrest up, books open, we settled in for an undisturbed restful afternoon.

My relishing of the pristine sapphire sky and aquamarine sea was interrupted by the sight of a young man toking on a clear, cigar-sized pipe, slightly to my right.

That's not a Marlboro he's smoking! I'm thinking.  The expectation of more elevated beach-crowd is quickly dashed.

Now my husband never takes his nose out of his Egyptian hieroglyphs book. I am more easily distracted from reading my Audubon in Florida.

Peering out of the corner of my eye,  the young man in his late 20's nonchalantly puffs and passes his small glass cylinder to his friends.

I change position to capture more sun rays and notice on the other side of us,  a girl of 16 struggles to light her shorty pipe with the help of a group of high school friends.

For real? Everyone around me, to the left and right of me is smoking hemp!

I ask myself:

Did I miss the legalization of pot in the Sunshine State? 



The teenager keeps fighting the off-shore breeze.


The briny ocean gusts are winning.

A friend holds up a t-shirt at her face to shelter the flame. No success. After several failures to light the cannabis, it's all I can do not to shout over to them

"Maybe some one's trying to tell you something!"


But I hold my tongue and redirect the energy into my ever piercing stare. Shortly, one youth notices me. Then another and another. Each turns to meet my unflinching gaze. They know, I know what they're up to.

A wicked thought comes to mind and I go with it.

Just to rankle their nerves I reach for my phone and pretend to make a call. No sooner do I look up and they are on their feet, snatching towels and hurrying down the beach.

Wait! Don't go!

 I really want to ask why the silky sand, sunshine and friends weren't enough to make their day - why did they have to get a buzz on to have fun?

But they ran from paradise.

Granted, I had my days of partying before Jesus got a hold of my heart. But none of us had the brassy boldness to flaunt it in broad daylight!

Sad that my glare made them go, it was the normal reaction. When we are exposed, we run away. No matter how good we have it.

I could not shake the regret of my handling of the situation.

I got to thinking about how God puts up with our shenanigans.  Perhaps his desire to be with us prevents Him from busting us at every turn. He'd rather overlook everyday offenses just to keep the conversation open. He abdicates his right to be the Ultimate Narc and will, more often than we deserve,  overlook sin just to enjoy our company. A much better strategy than mine.

 It took a few minutes, but I managed to turn my attention back to Audubon's detailed descriptions of the Sooty Tern and Florida Jay and once again resume my enjoyment of

Another beach Day in Paradise - Paradise Lost.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Why My Garage Will Never Be Completely Organized

The first three months of 2014 are almost gone and I'm only on my 7th post here. 

I apologize. I've been cleaning out the attic and garage. We freshened up a newly vacated bedroom. Going through my son's closet was a bit scary, but we made it.

The last son moved out to share a house nearby with a friend. This is taking some getting used to.

But the room is all painted up after 15 years of boy scuffs, marks and closet graffiti had dirtied up the walls. Looks quite nice now. What a coat of flat white paint can do!!

The carpet was finally mended where the puppy dog who's now 8 chewed at the door. And the carpet is cleaned and has a nice shade of green instead of yuk.

New photos from son, Jesse of New York's skyline adorn the walls along with charcoal sketches of New Orleans I picked up at a garage sale. Add in daughter, April's framed photos of family get together 3 years ago.

The attic was another story, but we managed to throw out files from 1996 and 2006. How on earth did we save them for so long!

The garage is half cleaned.

But here's the reason why my garage will never fully be organized.

- And that as fast as I heave out boxes from the attic I will carry them up the ladder to fill it
again -

 It's because  I keep having birthdays and receiving touching cards from my children. Like most moms, it's the tender notes from my tough boys that really get me. Especially when they apologize for being trouble all their lives. How can a mom resist hoarding?

Front of card: "My Cell Phone is also a camera."

Inside: "Your card is also a present. This is a great age we live in!"

 This was the card from my youngest who is 18:  

Mom! It's your day and too few of them come around. You're always there to comfort, help, advise, intervene...and with a sweet heart. There were many times I acted annoyed, ugly and rebelliously apathetic toward your efforts. It was most all for foolishness and laziness. Would that I could take it back! But now I can only thank you for being up for a fight by the fifth child. :) So thank you for your strength of character and discipline. You are an inspiration. I am blessed a million times over to have you, mom! I love you so much! Happy Birthday.

Even now as I clean my desk (for the fourth time this week) I keep promising myself to throw out the stack of month-old birthday cards and a November anniversary wish.




Then, with one eye open and the other closed,  I slide the card containing the shortest inscription into the wicker wastebasket.

But that's it.

The rest will end up in a box
that will end up in the laundry room,
that will end up on the work bench in the garage
that will end up in the attic
for another 10 years,
until I attempt to
organize my garage and attic

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Heroes Die

For the Hoffman's and the Houston's that left this earth too early. For the Amy Weinstein's whose talent was cut short.

This is a song for those of you who were as disturbed and disappointed as I was at their untimely departure.

For you who were pained that their death seemed avoidable. Here's an ode that mourns the demise of our belief that wealth and fame are the ultimate destination. How could those who attained it could live such desperate lives?

It must be much harder than we think. Being idolized, that is. The business of being a hero is a dangerous one. The craving for adoration is a self-destructive lust, mortals never having meant to be worshiped.

For those of you who are still sad, here's a song.

Heroes Die

Heroes die
And leave a canyon
We search the skies
We search the skies
Heroes die
We feel abandoned
And so we cry
And so we cry

Despise our small beginnings
The ordinary minutes
It's just around the corner
Waiting at the bend

That sweet illusive glory
Feels a little farther
For heroes are the martyrs
When dreams come to an end

Heroes die
And leave a canyon
We search the skies
 We search the skies
Heroes die
We feel abandoned
And so we cry
And so we cry

Living larger than this life
We all hoped to be them
Enjoy their fame and freedom
Until life's last spark

Bought our front row tickets
Missed their hidden burden
Scanned the closing curtain
The stage had long been dark 

Heroes die
And leave a canyon
We search the skies
We search the skies
Heroes die
We feel abandoned
And so we cry
And so we cry

Words & Music by A. Marbury Shaw (c)2014

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Oscars' "Over the (Pink) Rainbow"

Not many covers of this Arlen/Harburg ballad include the opening verse.

When all the world is a hopeless jumble 
And the raindrops tumble all around
Heaven opens a magic lane

When all the clouds darken up the sky way
There's a rainbow highway to be found
Leading from your window pane
To a place behind the sun
Just a step beyond the rain

How refreshing.  The Over the Rainbow seldom heard stanza captured our ears at the Academy Awards' ceremony, sung by none other than Pink!
She was stunning in her riveting ruby red dress! Crowned by her signature platinum boy-cut.

It was a delicious dichotomy of rebel punk meets Glenda's glittering gown. Of lyrical torch singer meets audacious rock-star; tatted attitude meets poised elegance.

I loved every note of it.

Well, with a minor adjustment in my expectations of correct execution, I loved it. You know, I anticipated the phrasing, breathing, expression and interpretation to match the Judy Garland version.

The aural interruption was like a needle skipping on a scratched record. Pink's breathing in the middle of a word put a twitch in my head every time she did it:

 "Some (breathe) where, ov (breathe) er the rainbow..."

Eventually the mild irritation gave way to acceptance of her stylization that is so very hot pink.

There are just no mauves or pastels with her.  It's magenta and fuchsia that scream she is one unique artist.

She can phrase it anyway she likes.

Congratulations to the off-site orchestra's conductor who had a very long baton, as Ellen joked. What would live musicians in the orchestra pit have brought to Oscar night's celebration!!

At first I thought some classic chord changes were missing in the arrangement; like the luscious inner passing tones of the original score and the secondary jazz chords moving on every quarter note.  The harmonic backdrop could've set a dark chocolate layer behind the dazzling diva's attractively jagged vocals.But  after a second listen on you-tube I realized it was the bad sound quality on my TV. Incredible orchestra.

I was able to 'hear' through the record skips and absent harmonies and take in
21st century
Wizard of Oz

If happy little bluebirds fly above the rainbow, 
why, oh why can't I?

Pink flew over the bright neon rainbow and took us all with her.

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