Final Blog Post: Letter to Patti

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Dear Patti,

I absolutely loved reading about your beginnings and life with Robert Mapplethorpe. I wasn’t very familiar with either of your back stories, and it was such a great read, from beginning to end. I have a habit of not finishing books so that they don’t have to be over, but finishing yours was a must.

First of all, I love your writing style. While I read, you story seemed to be alive and very dynamic. It was not a boring recounting of events by any means. But I think my most favorite thing about your book is the way you honored all the connections and synchronizations between yours and Robert’s lives separately and together. I loved that you and he had a color, and many talismans that represented important things in your relationship and the way these things seemed to show back up from time to time. I loved your attention to certain dates and relating them back to important births, deaths, and other major life events. I could feel how very meaningful certain things were through your words.

Some of my favorite things were the Persian necklace from when you and Robert first met, your signature blue star, and the little lamb figurine. I am perpetually attaching meaning to symbols and carrying them with me through life, and it was nicely familiar reading about the way you had done this in your life (although your beginnings in New York City were a lot more exciting than the same time period in my life that look place in the suburbs of Atlanta, not pursuing art). Again, these sacred symbols seemed to pop back up in the most meaningful times and the grand finale would have to be Robert’s desk. I was a little taken aback that you did not buy all of this most prized possessions at auction, but at the same time immediately understood your need to let go and the confusion surrounding that decision. The fact that the desk re-entered your life later on, even though you do not own it, really reinforces the important symbolism of you and Robert. Thanks for sharing your beautiful, magical and bittersweet story with the world.

Vanessa

Blog Post #7: Musical MD

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Q: Dear Musical MD,

I am suffering from what appears to be a case of musical listeners block. I don’t know what music I like anymore, I haven’t found the time to seek out new music, explore new genres, and download new tunes, nothing.

I have become terribly apathetic and lazy in terms of my musical interests, and feel as though nothing really does it for me anymore. I need help branching out and expanding my interests and getting into music again. It feels as though I don’t have time for music anymore.

It is really unfortunate and I feel like my life is lacking. I like more genres of music, some more than others (rap, electronic, soul, reggae) but I just need help listening to more music and branching out. Can you help me?

-Despondent with Listeners Block

A: Dear Despondent,

While I have inherited the suffix “MD” for this blog post, it is not protecting me from suffering the same ailment as you. I feel just as lost, flailing around in a sea of endless possibilities but not able to grab onto anything for dear life. I’m afraid I can only share a few things I’ve done recently that will hopefully assist you out of musical darkness.

Step 1: To lessen the pressure of seeking out the latest and greatest, try re-listening to some of your most sickening obsessions or longest loves. Dig out some gems here – something you haven’t heard in a long time but know all the lyrics or every break down or every guitar solo. Wear it out all over again in your car or bedroom until you’re done with it or think of another oldie-but-goodie and repeat. Re-immerse yourself as many times as you enjoy. I just randomly found disc 2 from Sublime’s Everything Under the Sun set and wore that baby out promptly. Possible side effects: nostalgia, joy, agitation, or restlessness.

Step 2: If your trip down memory lane didn’t spark any inspiration, or even if it did, it’s time to try a new tactic. Open up the Telegraph or shut your eyes and point in front of any bulletin board on campus or where ever. This is the next live music act you will see. Commit and just go with it. I committed to some version of this process and on Friday night found myself in Ignacio (and not even at the Casino) seeing a guy named Lipbone Redding.

It ended up being a pretty good time. Go see a couple random bands, DJs, whatever and see if that doesn’t refocus your musical interest. Possible side effects: Fun, impairment, excitement, distaste, or boredom.

Step 3: You’ve gone down memory lane and seen a couple new things, so now what? Hopefully, you’ve shaken some of the listener’s block and new musical possibilities are more available to you. The idea of the first two steps are to distract from the anxiety of finding the new new, or feeling like you don’t even know what you even like, like a reset button. And what’s more, summer is on the way with music festivals abound. Think of who you want to see the next several months and surely your appetite for music will be rejuvenated.

Cheers,

Musical MD (not really a doctor)

Blog Post #6: Top 40 Radio Jams

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Top 40 radio is not allowed in my vehicle under any circumstance, ever, unless it is from the 90’s or so old that it’s good kinda stuff. On my way to work every morning, I listen to NPR or KDUR, and all other times I plug my phone in and listen to my iPod or stream music from an app. I try to limit my exposure to top 40 so that the times I’m in public and cannot protect myself, it’s less annoying because I don’t really know what I’m hearing and haven’t heard it 98 times already. It softens the blow to my ears and I guess the whole ‘ignorance is bliss’ thing applies. I’m not really approaching this from a music snob angle, although it does bother me that most top 40 hits were engineered by a team of people not usually including the artist themselves. It just all sounds annoying to me and I fully recognize that I am a 95 year old woman trapped in a 30 year old woman’s body half the time. I also don’t really identify with most of the themes that I think are in top 40 songs….clubbing (we live in Durango), shopping (we live in Durango), money (don’t really have any), break ups (aka divorce), crushes (aka infidelity). I can’t really relate. I’m sure there are some gems buried in top 40 hype, and songs that aren’t about superficial things, and artists that actually write and/or produce their own songs. But generally speaking, I do not like top 40 and make it a point to avoid it. It’s too bad my husband’s truck only has a radio. He doesn’t mind listening to 99X and because of that I’ve really come to hate this song, a lot, forever:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ht80uzIhNs

 

Question from Meryl Ramsey

 

 

Cruel Intentions and “Bittersweet Symphony”

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If you’ve never seen this movie and need something to satisfy your cheese tooth, this is it. I was in high school when this movie came out in 1999 and it couldn’t have been more in tune with my raging hormones at age 17. It was racy, heart wrenching and a little bit silly but all my friends and I loved it and aspired to be the confident, bad girl character that Sarah Michelle Gellar played and drooled over Ryan Phillippe. But we all really, really wanted to be Reese Witherspoon because in the end, she really got the guy, or car, rather (spoiler alert).

The movie is an emotional roller coaster as Reese Witherspoon goes from innocent girl to love lost woman. The sound track is a testament to the hits of the time with artists like Placebo, Blur, Fatboy Slim, Counting Crows and Marcy Playground. However, the real gem is The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony” which is used in the final scenes of the movie. We see Reese’s character seemingly stricken with grief as she leaves her lover’s funeral, but powerfully drives away into the sunset in his beloved car. You couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of loss for poor Reese, but the song is oddly uplifting too, and you just know she’s gonna be ok. It’s a truly memorable and slightly cheesy ending where justice is served as Sarah Michelle Gellar is exposed and Reese Witherspoon and all that’s good in the world prevails. And then you listen to the song on repeat for a week.

 

20 Questions with Lio D

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Have you ever wanted to know what Lio D would be listening to if he were stranded on a deserted island or the kind of music that would render you un-datable? Here’s your chance to find out, plus 18 more juicy tid bits that he revealed here exclusively to my blog that is so ugly that I had to put the quiz in Microsoft Paint to make it less ugly. This quiz can be characterized as “situational” and will give you insight to what Lio D listens to and when/why.20 qs

Songs About Love: My Wedding Playlist

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My wedding is still fresh on my mind as our first marital endeavor begins: getting out of $70,000 in debt and building a tiny house. Part of that figure includes pieces of our wedding a la maxed out credit cards and personal loans still outstanding.

Aside from the annoying money part and figuring out which commercialized, bullshit wedding “traditions” I wanted to avoid, the music part was the best and most challenging. I never aspired to be married by 23, babies by 27 as they do in the South, but I did try to keep a mental list of possible wedding songs as I went along in life. I couldn’t remember any of them when I was planning my wedding and they all probably had to do with whoever I was dating at that time in my life anyway.

Seconds after the date was set, I called Ashley and Jesse of Hello Dollface and booked them for August 9, 2014. They are friends of ours and Ashley’s voice is amazing – perfect for our old world vintage outdoor wedding. For the ceremony and dinner, it was just Ashley and Jesse as their 2 piece acoustic (guitar/stand up bass) called Ace Revel. Then the full band would join in for the reception/dance party. We worked with them to decide on five songs we wanted them to cover.

The wedding party proceeded down the aisle to an instrumental version of “Over the Rainbow” (I didn’t know that “Somewhere” wasn’t part of the title until I wrote this) and when my father and I appeared she sang the lyrics to the song. Somehow I didn’t ugly cry my way down the aisle. Instead, I thought of how my mother and I watched The Wizard of Oz when I was younger. This is still one of our favorite movies to watch. The scene where Dorothy played by Judy Garland, one of our favorites, starts singing “Over the Rainbow” is truly classic and I was definitely somewhere over the rainbow on that day. Judy says it best, “‘Over the Rainbow’ has become part of my life. It’s so symbolic of everybody’s dreams and wishes that I’m sure that’s why some people get tears in their eyes when they hear it. I’ve sung it thousands of times and it’s still the song that’s closest to my heart.”

Ashley led us out as husband and wife with Bob Marley’s “Is This Love.” I think this was actually Ashley’s idea but it was an easy enough choice. “We’ll be together, with a roof right over our heads, We’ll share the shelter, of my single bed, We’ll share the same room, yeah” reminds me of the four months we spent living in a 30 foot fifth wheel trailer without running water. That’s pretty much when I knew that we could do the marriage thing and really, those four months were some of the best dirty trailer livin’ I could imagine. We really fell back in love there and the Prowler will always hold a place in my heart.

My father and I danced to “You’re the World to Me” by David Gray. Dad’s choice. Total cry fest. I was excited to see what he would choose as my dad has excellent taste in music. His Woodstock tattoos might allude to this and I can attribute any early interest in music to him. I’ll remember that moment for the rest of my life.

Eric and I danced to “Sea of Love”, the Cat Power version. We thought they would cover it pretty straight up but it dragged on awkwardly and even sounded pretty dark at the end. I remember both of us saying “What the hell is going on???” but it was nice to laugh instead of cry my way through this dance. I found this one while googling “first dance songs that are not cliche” and was sold immediately. It’s dreamy and romantic and Ashley’s voice was beautiful, of course.

We also asked them to cover “The Electric Slide” (more formerly known as “Electric Boogie” by Marcia Griffith) but with their own funky, soul twist. From the outset, we all agreed no shitty, cliche wedding songs but I thought it would be funny to throw this one in there. It was a huge hit and they made it sound nice and juicy. EVERYONE was on the dance floor having a good time, and that’s what I wanted for at least one song. When Jesse pulled up the YouTube video and assured me that “no white people can actually do this dance,” I knew we had a winner.

 

Looking Back: 90’s Trip Hop

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It was my sophomore year of high school (2001) and I had upgraded from my immature middle school bedroom to the upgraded high school version. My brother moved into the basement and I took over his room which was better equipped for secretly smoking weed and sneaking out. I was older and wiser and had way better taste in music. I had exhausted my interest in popular trance and the likes of Paul Oakenfold, Sasha, Carl Cox and found myself drawn to heavier, more downtempo or abstract stuff I couldn’t access at parties (aka raves). I was adding Orbital, Portishead, Horace Andy, and Aphex Twin to my repertoire and wanted more.

The common denominator of my new findings was that all these artists were British. I didn’t plan this or even fixate on it if I was aware. It just kept coming and the biggest contributing factor was finding The Essential Mix, a weekly BBC radio show hosted by DJ and producer, Pete Tong that has been on the air since 1993. The show features a range of upcoming and international artists within the electronic umbrella. Track selection is encouraged to showcase the DJ’s musical knowledge, not just put together a seamless, club-ready mix. The reasoning behind this was to cater to the audience: people all over the world listening from their bedrooms and more than likely recording the mix for later use. This was a dream come true for my obsessive listening tendencies.

It wasn’t long before I uncovered an episode of Essential Mix that Massive Attack recorded seven years previous. I was stoked but at first listen, I didn’t like it. Their album, “Mezzanine”, already blew the doors off my auditory senses and those gritty ballads and sultry dubs didn’t come across in the Essential Mix as much. I gave it another chance and saw it for what it was. I fell in love and continue to revisit it for 14 years now and counting (it’s a “lifer”). This mix is a collection of their own interests and influences and this realization really spoke to my methodical musical “research.” I was reading pages of their history as artists in an unexpected format and it simultaneously opened doors to hip hop artists I would not have appreciated otherwise. To this end, these Essential Mixes are said to “redefine the DJ as a collector of musical history” and that is such a cool way to think of it.

This post is more looking back to this particular Essential Mix rather than the genre of 90’s trip hop but the mix itself encompasses everything I love about trip hop and hip hop as it were. Listening to this mix today is such a different experience than listening to it then, but I still get goose bumps and want to dance all the same.

tl3

Guest DJ

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Imagine if every first date, job interview or first day of class introduction began with sharing five songs that have impacted your life. Would we judge less or be slightly more open to the possibilities of new people? At the very least, I would trade the mundane (and meaningless) “what do you do?” for a brief listing of someone’s top five anything in a heartbeat. Thankfully this is not an opinion or persuasion piece. Meet Rachel Giersch, a Durango native, which I believe makes Rachel one eighth unicorn. We both agreed that choosing five meaningful songs was difficult because five isn’t enough, yet it’s really hard to scan your own life history to come up with five songs. Rachel’s top five songs are metaphorical mile markers of her life and signify growth, not only personal, but in her musical discovery as well.

First on the list is the theme from the movie The Snowman, which is about a boy who builds a snowman that comes to life during the night, takes the boy on an adventure and melts the next day. There is no dialogue in the entire movie, save for the song called “Walking in the Air.” It plays while the Snowman and the young boy are taking flight during their adventure through the town and up to the North Pole. For Rachel, the high shrills and the intense emotions this song evokes have stayed with her since first watching the film as a child. This is the first time Rachel can remember being moved by a song, albeit from a soundtrack in a movie, and paved the way for tuning into more meaningful sounds and basic awareness of music.

Up next is the 1999 hit “(You Drive Me) Crazy” by Britney Spears. “I don’t know anyone who didn’t have a small obsession with her,” said Rachel. She remembers judgmental boys that blew her off for liking Britney (who probably had Britney shrines in their bedrooms) and the innocent fib that would turn the whole elementary school upside down. Rachel may or may not have told a couple people that she went to a Britney Spears concert and before long, her evening with the pop princess spread like wildfire. Alternatively, she reminisces about the nights her mother would let her play the entire …Baby One More Time album in the kitchen after her younger brothers went to bed. Rachel would dance around and her mother cleaned and perhaps this is the real memory tied to this song.

Rachel’s third pick is “Kite” by U2. This song reminds her of her father and takes her to a very specific place. “That was a song that really resonated with me because my dad used to play a lot of U2. He used to play a lot of Pink Floyd, ACDC, and Rush, but this song by U2 was always stuck in my mind. There was one time we were going to get pizza or something in the car. The windows are down; my dad is playing this song really loud and its really whimsical song. It was all light and pretty outside, summer time. We were going to pizza and it was a big deal because we rarely ate out. I just remember that moment. It’s a good memory of my dad.” I think we all have that one song that can instantly take us back to the car with the windows down and the volume up and that is really special.

“God Loves Ugly” by Atmosphere is Rachel’s fourth choice and takes us to her beginnings in hip hop via her “booty-shakin’-butt-droppin’-hardcore-rappin” neighbor (also from Durango).
The neighbor’s propensity for hip hop scared Rachel at first. Admittedly, she did not understand her neighbor’s connection to the messages found in hip hop lyrics but it slowly grew on Rachel and led her to discover more artists within the genre. “God Loves Ugly” is “what it means to be a person with flaws and faults because God still loves you. But ironically, he [Atmosphere] doesn’t believe in God,” says Rachel. She goes on to describe the political and social messages within Atmosphere’s lyrics and the vivid storytelling he is able to accomplish when it comes to relationship distresses. “One day you resonate with some snippets and some days you don’t,” she adds. This song is also the first rap song Rachel was able to fully memorize.

The last song on Rachel’s list is “Elias” by Dispatch. She saw them live in the summer of 2011 and has a photo to prove it for those of you still heated over the Britney Spears fib from song choice #2. “Elias” is about a Zimbabwean man of the same name with a few young sons and very little means to provide for them. A member of the band met Elias while living in Zimbabwe and wrote the song upon returning to the States. The song would later give way to a huge benefit concert called “The Relief Project” held in 2005 and the ongoing Elias Fund, which is a nonprofit benefiting Zimbabwean youth. Rachel remembers “Elias” as the last song of the show and the entire crowd, diehard fans most likely singing the loudest, joining in to sing the chorus.

We can stand to learn a lot from anyone’s top five most significant songs. Music shapes us to be who we are in a lot of unsuspecting, and even ironic ways. Songs can serve as a time machine to a deep memory with a specific emotion- happy, empowering, hilarious or even bittersweet. Thanks for candidly sharing with us, Rachel. And if you want to see proof that she did in fact attend that Dispatch show in the summer of 2011, let’s hear it in the comments 🙂

“The Snowman” by Howard Blake https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubeVUnGQOIk

“(You Drive Me) Crazy” by Britney Spears https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q4VK9_CfOLQ

“Kite” by U2 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwMdO3HK_ws

“God Loves Ugly” by Atmosphere https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwMdO3HK_ws

“Elias” by Dispatch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iM_NViIq_7g