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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Being The Candle In A Dark Room

While working, I heard the song "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" play over the loudspeaker.  I've heard it many times on various occasions.  When you work in restaurants, retail, or any environment that plays "ambient" music; you end up hearing the same songs.  Sadly, great songs get tuned out and leave you with the same feeling that you get when eating a rice cake! 

In fact, this particular song has made its way into many movie soundtracks, commercials for radio and television, and movie trailers.  You listen to it and know that it's a classic Motown jam, but I've been kind of over it.  Somehow it seeps its way into your life when you don't expect it, much like Earth Wind and Fire's "September" and "Celebrate".  What wedding or party have you been to that did "NOT" play those songs?  Again, great musicians and artists, but somehow those songs have been forced upon us in ways that makes you want to hit "next" on your Pandora station every time they come on.  No one listens to the radio anymore, so I can't say "change the dial" or "change the station".   Gotta stay up to date with you all! What's a revolutionary to do :)

Honestly, I didn't even know who sang "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", until very recently.  I always thought that it was Diana Ross and Smokey Robinson, maybe Sam Cooke.  I read somewhere that Ashford and Simpson had originally performed the song.  It turns out, they wrote it, along with other hits for Mr. Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell (born Thomasina Montgomery). There it is! The mystery singers. Except most people, besides me, already knew who the duet behind this classic song was.  

I was back at the grind last week, and the song comes on again.  I've probably heard it over 100 times in almost, four years I've been working at this particular establishment.  I found myself singing along, kinda shuffling a bit to it- you can't really get down and boogie in front of customers. They'll give you that awkward laugh like "Hahaha! Funny guy working at my neighborhood grocery store.  It's okay. It fits with the vibe of the place", then run out of there as fast as they can to get away from you.  Believe me, people often ask me if certain co-workers of mine have taken their meds, and I kindly reply, "No, we need him that way."  The look on these folks' face is priceless...

Going on a rant again...Sorry!  Being The Candle In A Dark Room...What does all of this have to do with the title?  On this particular day that I did my shufflin' and singin', I was thinking about a girl.  Yup!  And, she happens to live very far away.  So the lyrics to the song really struck a chord with me.  I began to really appreciate it.  Yes. It's corny! It's a cliche song for the situation! Yeah, yeah, yeah....Don't matter! I came home and added the "Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell: Complete Duets" to one of my Spotify lists.  I love how these music sites like Pandora and Spotify give you Biographies on the artists that you play.  I was reading Ms. Terrell's bio.  I was saddened and shocked to learn that she died at the very young age of 24!  Brain cancer took her life.  The bio also mentioned that her passing had a drastic effect on Marvin Gaye, which contributed to the emotional force behind his hit "What's Going On".  24 years young!  In her short life, she had a great singing career: Hit records, touring with the likes of James Brown.  

I started to wonder about our time and place on this planet. What should our contribution should be as individuals? It's amazing how such creative, greatness is showcased to the world, then gone in the blink of an eye. We're not all meant to be hit recording singers or award winning actors.  We may want to achieve that, but it may not happen.  Music, movies, art, and literature, brighten our lives and enrich our souls.  That's how it's supposed to be.  Forget all the commercialism and accolades.  Think about when the last time a piece of art affected you in a way that made you want to shout "I Love You" from the mountain top, or be remind you of the memories of a loved one, or a laugh shared with great friends and family.  Something inside of you shined.  Right?  

Turn on the news or social media and you will get bombarded with war, violence, police brutality, celebrity suicides, religious debates, etc.  None of that makes me want to sing and shuffle, that's for fucken sure!  It's easy to get caught up in the arguing/posting, about who is right and why, and you're an idiot, liberal, Nazi, Racist, Dickhead, I un-friend you, I'm blocking you, I'm taking a break from social media, Your Mama's twerking with cats....Shit!  This is too much.  A la Verga with it all!

But no...Not with it all.  That corny, little moment I had, singing and danc...Shufflin- not dancing- to a song that I had heard over and over again, could have been a moment that someone caught me and laughed for a minute.  Perhaps they'll be in traffic, someone cuts them off, they get crazy, and the song comes on, and they remember that silly dude at the grocery store, bagging groceries, singing along, and shufflin' like a fool.  And then all is okay, and traffic is not so bad.  Did it happen?  Maybe.... 

The media that we are exposed to on a daily basis wants us to believe that we are in dark times and that things are going to get worse.  We don't know that for sure, so why buy into it?  Since I was a kid, my Mom has told me that she refuses to watch the news, because it's too depressing.  It's all bad news!  

It's easy to dwell on the negative. But that's not going to do me or anyone else any good.  If I come into work all pissy and snap at a customer, just because my life sucks....I could lose my job. That would put me in a real bind! No bueno my friends.  Everyone is going through different degrees of hardship, so I'm not expecting someone who lost their child or loved one, to just turn around and start dancing to make other people smile.  That's not what I'm saying. What I'm trying to get at, is that whatever time we have, long or short (we don't know), we have to know deep down that it will all pass.  Hopefully someone will shine for a person that is going though a traumatic time. And, somehow in their own, quiet way, will help them get through the day. All we have is each moment.  Smile at someone.  Go out of your way for someone at work who is having a rough time.  Offer someone a ride or buy them a cup of coffee.  We don't have to try to change the world all at once.  Be the candle for someone. Then let them be the candle for someone, and so on.  I know this may sound a little cliche and corny, but so was my moment with "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", and I'm okay with that.  Tammi and Marvin were my candles.  It's all good when your intentions are good! La Paz...

El Comandante...Out!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Social Media, Celebrity Deaths, and Learning words like "Solipsism"

Not the most captivating title....I know.  Pues, ni modo- which translates into "So be it" or "Fuck it"!  I prefer the latter.  I can't speak for everybody.  However, in light of Robin Williams' death, it donned on me that I receive a majority of my news from Facebook.  Be it friends' reactions, shared links, or what have you; I'm always finding things out on the world's, largest, chisme (gossip) platform!

I don't know if that makes me less educated, a simpleton, a follower of the masses, etc.  It just is what it is! We are no longer in the era where we walk out to the end of the driveway in our bathrobe and boxers to pick up the daily newspaper, go inside our home, and read the paper over coffee.  Many of us are working two to three jobs or pursuing creative endeavors, while working 8-12 hours at a job to support ourselves.  It is what it is!  So what's the easiest thing to do when we first wake up?  Grab our phones or tablets and check our Facebook and Instagram profiles to see how many likes we got from our posts!

I don't do that though.  I ain't that needy for validation....Psssshhhhhh! Right! We all are to some degree.  Can't blame us for being this way.  I mean, we are all closed up in our own digital worlds.  We would rather be on the phone while shopping for groceries or ordering food than interacting with the person that is directly in front of us, trying to take our order or ringing up our groceries.  Don't let me get started on the people that criticize you for getting the order wrong or who are giving you specific directions on how to bag their food, while they are on their mo'f'n phones! Putos!  Sorry....Got a little carried away there...

I'm going a bit off topic here.  Since social media has exploded over the last six years, many popular, iconic, artists, athletes, political figures, religious leaders, and personalities, have passed away.  When this happens, you will often see posts with a "RIP" message.  They dominate the conversation, or "trend", as it is called in the social media sphere.

Very rarely do people know the deceased celebrity. Regardless, the outpouring occurs, because the work of the individual has affected each person in some way.   What's wrong with this?  Nothing!  Is it a vain attempt to garner attention for more likes, retweets, shares...I don't know what the hell else...Pokes?  Not that one....

Maybe it is.  If so....Who the fuck cares?  Whatever this little soapbox, channel, feed, or platform that social media has created for each individual, belongs to that person.  We can choose to interact or ignore any person's avatar-esque galaxy.

I caught glimpses of many posts that "We" (meaning everyone on Facebook who posted about Robin Williams' death) were only posting about it to fuel our egos and to gain likes.  Or, that it was some competition or popularity contest to gain more traffic to our pages.  I saw another post from a friend that quoted Bible verses condemning suicide, that ended with a "May God have mercy on your soul."  This! Coming from a fellow actor?  My favorite was a response to a friend's post that stated something, along the lines of "Actors have it tough...Please be kind to actors."  The first response was "I didn't know such a 'Solipsistic' response was possible."  Ouch!  I had to look up that word, because, if I see the letters "s", "o", and "p" so close together; I start thinking about Sopes! Sopes de carne asada or Sopa de res....Going off track again, but if you have not had a sope, you need to!

Think about it.  Isn't social media about advocating solipsism?  It's all about "me"! I did this. I'm doing that. I'm dating so and so. I'm here. I'm eating this. I'm drunk. I'm sad. I'm horny. I'm high. I'm angry, I'm, I'm, I'm, I'm, I'm....

I wanted to chime in on all these posts and replies that I found completely asinine, but I realized that: 1. I don't want to feed the trolls 2. Everyone has a right to say whatever the fuck they want 3. The most important one...It just is What it Motherfucking Is!

RIP Robin Williams. Only you knew your pain.  Godspeed on this next journey...I still remember wanting to buy the Mork suit for Halloween, but I was only 4.  They didn't make any in my size.  I know you are getting many hugs in the next life and chillin' with your homie Richard Pryor :-)