Friday, August 29, 2003
I hate it when things people said long before I was born, all of a sudden make sense.
It makes me feel so embarrassingly dim.
But it’s a trial and error life, and mysteries are revealed in their own true time.
I’m introspective today.
My brain is racing with ideas;
songs, images, moods, words-
If I don’t grasp them somehow,
they’ll all escape,
like waking from a dream where I was about to eat a Reese’s cup.
Welcome to the second annual end-of-the-world-party...
Summer's almost gone.
I feel such a loss for it- for this summer never seemed to take off-
Like buying a dress for a night out that never happens...
Oh, there were EVENTS,
but not the ones I associate with summer fun in the sun.
Autumn is, and has always been for me, my favorite season.
I’m going to start a new painting...
"As long as I have two nickels to rub together,
I’ll have a canvas to fill-
But I need more paying performance gigs
that would be better still..." - Pencil Neck Blues
Dead cicadas fall on the steps,
“When it gets too hot for comfort, and you can’t get ice cream cones,
T’ain’t no sin to take off your skin, and dance around in your bones...”
-William S. Burroughs
Till next time... 'Mela
Monday, August 25, 2003
Late Summer Sunday
In the heat of the lotus pond
I saw a butterfly-
Although the opening flowers were
the black and blue wings caught my eye...
I was surely wilting fast
as I watched it flutter it’s wings-
I chased it in vain for a snapshot
to catch the illusive thing...
But off in the distance
I heard a water tap
as someone rinsed their laundry
I took off my hat
and poured cool water
down my face
and paused in the shadow's black
The flowers waited patiently
The opening party at last!
I am a one girl crew
with my camera intact
I found them in different stages of repose;
lilting, full open,
petals falling, seed pods exposed.
To linger in their presence
brought such peace and splendor
a welcome breeze at last occured
and I saw a coconut vendor...
A little restaurant up the way
was playing Hawaiian music
I stopped for soba noodles
and an air conditioned visit
And so adieu my lovelies
I hope to see you soon
On my canvas I hope to paint
this lovely afternoon...
Special thanks to Julianne, a fellow musician and artist,
who also loves the lotuses, and inspired me to get out and see them!
Till next time... ‘Mela
Friday, August 22, 2003
Say wooooooop. There it is.
My friends are in town from B’klyn, New York.
They used to live here.
Jerry & Yuko have a son also.
He is also bilingual like my son, but it came from another angle:
Mom is Japanese, Dad is American, son was born in Japan, and brought up till age 7 in Japan speaking Japanese at home -
then, the family moved to B’Klyn, and now at age 12 the boy speaks English also.
My son was born in the US, has a Japanese Dad, me being an American, he was raised speaking English, but when we moved to Japan, he started from kindergarten to learn to read, write and think in Japanese- but he speaks English at home.
If you want to send your kid to an American school in Japan, you had best be prepared to fork over what would seem to be the equivalent of college tuition.
Twice a year.
Unless, of course, you are a diplomat, or in a major corporation, they pick up the tab.
I remember years ago, making inquiries about an American school for my son, and as I sat there with my jaw still on the floor from the shock of the 4 million yen
[ at that time, approx. $40,000.00 ] tuition fees,
they had the cheek to tell us that we should buy our sneakers in the US, as they were expensive here.
So, my son went to Japanese public school.
Although I am now happy that he is bilingual, this whole course has started a rift that has all but ended my marriage.
The culture differences really show up BIG TIME when you enter and STAY in a different country from your own.
When babies are born to people of different races, it is wonderful, and beautiful, as when any baby is born- but believe me, there had better be some real life communication going on, or there WILL BE TROUBLE when it comes time for the “processes” that take place: school, religion, cultural holidays. etc.
Not to mention the cultural differences in husband/wife situations here.
You think you are marrying a man, in my case a musician,
but when you go to their country, you find you married a country.
Like it or lump it.
Thinking back on those years is bittersweet.
The Japanese ways have at times caused me a lot of grief and frustration,
as well as shown me great beauty and paradox-
In any event,
there was no where for me to return to.
My career here was starting to pick up- a lot of work, good reviews,
Should I go back to the US where my profession as a jazz vocalist isn’t regarded as a profession, but as a hobby?
Return to square one and try to make it from there so my son can go to an American school?
I actually tried to give that a go.
The “hate free” zone told me they had certain ethnic demographics, and a waiting list to go to public school...
Square one wasn’t even attainable.
So, here we have stayed.
My son and I have had to learn to grow like bonsai trees-
each of us in our own way restricted and bound,
but with spirits as strong and free as a field of dandelions.
I don’t know why my friends’ visit brings back all this-
Maybe it’s because I’ve known this couple for a very long time-
We all go way back.
We all hung out together when my husband and I were just dating, and living in the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
So much has changed.
But my feelings of warmth for these two hasn’t changed, and I look forward to our visit...
Time makes us blossom
and bend or break...
The chorus of cicadas says: yes yes yes yeeees yes yeeeeeeeeeeeeeesssssss...
Till next time, ‘Mela
Monday, August 18, 2003
Today is the birthday of my mother, Shirley.
This new computer art I put up is called LEO,
the Sun Goddess.
I put this up for my mother who is a Leo,
and myself, a Leo rising.
I haven’t been able to see my mother for some time now,
due to my schedule and events that take over...
I think of my mother quite often
through memories of my childhood, and through events with my own
[not so much a child any more]
It’s hard to put to words the things my mother means to me.
She raised me and my three sisters without much financial help.
She never allowed vice or self pity to rue the day,
there was simply no place for it.
I learned from her the value of responsibility.
My mother worked a lot,
and me being the oldest, a lot of responsibility was put on me.
That role has shaped me into who I am today,
always the “big sister”.
I learned the value of family, and of hard work.
My mother once saved me from the “car date” from hell.
I wasn’t allowed to date till I was 16.
One potential date came roaring to my house on 4 wheels,
beer cans scattered in plain view to anyone who looked in the car.
At 16, I had my interior logic intact, but it stood no chance against peer pressure:
I got in the car.
They had to go further up to make a u-turn.
On the way back, the driver [I say “driver” because now I honestly don’t remember the driver, or the other couple in the car]
roared that engine and let it rip.
I kept thinking to myself : “I’m doomed”.
As we came back in the direction towards my house, there stood my mother, in the middle of the street- like a giant stop sign.
And stop they did.
My mother just said 4 words to them : “I don’t think so”.
I was never more relieved in my 16 years.
Off went the roaring engine, to parts unknown, while my mother and I went back in the house.
I can’t even list all the things my mother has taught me, I guess I will never completely know.
The Christmases she worked so hard to present to us every year.
She worked hard to make the illusion as real as possible for us.
And as a mom myself, I have done the same.
The lessons taught in “fashion faux pas” staid and true
have lingered on...
Her presents she sends me, without fail every year for my birthday and Christmas.
On this day August 18th I simply want to wish the most important woman in my life
A very happy birthday.
The regal Leo.
Happy Birthday Mommy!
Till next time ‘Mela
Sunday, August 17, 2003
A rain soaked train ride to the winery.
An absolutely lovely place.
The gig went off like a charm.
It was a pleasure to work with Mike Price and the quintet.
Tom Pierson was phenomenal.
Andy Wuulf on tenor was a nice surpise.
The last time I saw him play, he was happenin' -
but this time, he was blowin' smoke!
The audience was very receptive,
and I met some nice people.
Thanks for your help, Ayako...
The rain fell all through the night,
it looks like a break.
A change in scenery always perks me up,
and I'm feeling renewed, somehow...
To all my family and friends in NY,
welcome back online.
Does anyone remember the song:
"Where were you when the lights went out, New York City?"
That was for the 1977 black out.
I guess it's just a matter of time before the 2003 version will be written.
They had a news story here about it-
A Japanese lady visiting NYC, was locked out of her hotel room, and alone.
She couldn't speak much English, and the Japanese Embassy was offline.
I imagine it was scary for her-
But those kind of times are what makes New York-
The people you meet who help.
I hope this lady got a break.
"They say the neon lights are bright ON BROADWAY
They say there's always magic in the air
but when you're walkin' down the street
and you ain't had enough to eat
the image of it all somehow seems no-where..."
Find a friend and hold on tight.
till next time 'Mela
Friday, August 15, 2003
“Love, reign o’er me” -The Who
It has been raining for awhile now- going into the second day, nonstop.
Time to paint my nails
I’m going with a perfect red-
not orange-y not purple-y
It speaks volumes,
and I like the “oldness” of it-
the classic red.
My gig's tomorrow with Mike Price and the guys.
A great line up, I look forward to it...
Tom Pierson-piano Mike Price- trumpet Andy Wuulf-tenor sax
Mark Tourian- bass
and the drummer, all I know of him is he’s from the Navy jazz band...
The clients requested “all foreigners”.
I find this practice a drag, not in this case, but in others,
when it keeps a person from being hired
because a certain "nationality" or "color" doesn’t “fit” the criteria.
But this type of discrimination works ALL kinds of ways here.
Some times it’s only white- some times it’s only black-
in Japan, but no Japanese, etc.
You get the picture.
It is a different type of discrimination, but it's the same 'ole thing.
Ah, to be picked and sorted like hot house flowers...
An American jazz artist who goes to Europe to live and perform is deemed an “International Artist”.
Here, you lose this status, and they call you “local”.
Japanese artists who go and live in New York for 6 months,
come back and call themselves, and are billed as: “from New York”.
It used to upset me greatly, and has probably inspired more drinking binges than I care to want to own up to.
But I don’t drink anymore,
and although some practices are downright offensive to me here,
to stay on I have had to let it all ride,
and focus on just doing what I do, well.
"If you wanna get to heaven
lemme tell ya what to do
you got to grease yo' feet
in mutton stew-
Slide right over in the slippery sand
and ease on over to da Promised Land"... - Spiritual
Till next time ‘Mela
Sunday, August 10, 2003
Breaking my brains with the incessant screaming cicadas, & neighborhood banshee children.
Couldn’t I just strangle them a little?
Blue skied madness is creeping in.
Too bright, too stark.
Cotton candy and lemonade
high pitched voices
pulling what’s left of my sanity by the last thread.
I ache for autumn.
Summer has never been my strong point.
I don’t like hot weather, beach scenes or blow up
plastic whales to float on.
The whole thing makes me want to find a hole to crawl in.
I might try one last painting for this summer-
I've made the trek to the famed “Ueno Park" lotus pond,
but I got there too late in the day.
You must arrive before 9:30 am or the flowers say “later”
and close up.
I can’t blame them, personally, I feel very much like that myself.
What can be defined as “temporary insanity”?
Is it deemed uncivilized to want to squeeze the necks of kids that have no concept of the eardrum splitting decibels they hit,
while parents just stand idly by, blissfully ignorant...?
I once told these people: “Do something with those kids, or I’m calling the cops”.
They said: “They’re just children”.
Yes they are, but you, on the other hand, are adults- YOU dickheads spawned them, TAKE CONTROL!
I knew this creepyness was coming.
I stay here in the summer, and this murderous feeling just takes over.
Maybe most Americans who visit Paris in August, think the French are rude, nasty, and irritable-
But I think they are like me- being stuck somewhere they don’t want to be, for whatever reason, and then forced to be civil as well.
More than I can take.
Viva la mal heureuse...
This is my new “computer drawing”.
I did it this morning to try and erase the excedrin headache #54: the hangover without the party...
“You got to laugh a little
cry a little
before the clouds roll by
That’s the story of it
That’s the glory of love...” -Billy Hill
Till next time ‘Mela
Saturday, August 09, 2003
Riding on the train, on this typhooned afternoon,
with my CD walkman playing Tangerine dream-
I feel like I’m back in the “Thalia” movie theater in NYC, watching an “art film”...
Surreal scenery puts my worried mind in a complacent mood...
My gig was a bust last night.
I can’t complain, actually.
My true fans came out to see me, although there had been a typhoon warning for much of the day-
The beating of the storm drums...
Musically, I was happy with my performance-
I did a few new tunes, and the trio
was definitely happenin’...
Hiroshi Tanaka on piano.
He was subtle,
but he could plink down on them ivories, too...
Mark Tourian on bass-
He brought his new bass, it’s a beauty, and he sounds as great as always playing it.
Tomoya Hara on guitar. He was playing some nice bluesy stuff.
We should have done a song called: “Bus Fare Home”,
‘cause that was the deal last night.
C’est la vie.
Next week it’s a summer festival with Mike Price and his quintet.
I’m looking forward to that.
Well, we’ve gone from rainy season, to typhoon season...
-Surf City here come the sharks
Look pretty here come your self-
I don’t know where that song came from, I just thought of it this instant, from years ago-
When my sister and I were listening to this album, “Crack the sky”...
Till later, taters... ‘Mela
Tuesday, August 05, 2003
“The morning sun is shining like a red rubber ball”
It woke me up!
I braved the heat yesterday, took myself to the famed “Meat Rush”
to get all the stuff I need for today’s party.
Tonite will be fireworks in my little town, near the river.
As I lay in my bed yesterday, contemplating the horror of the heat, the trains, etc., I all but said “forget it”.
But then I said: “Shit, I got some great music to listen to on my walkman CD
player, and I just got to get MOTIVATED"!
Good music motivates my not so young ass.
Ramsey Lewis’s “Sun Goddess”, Lonnie Liston Smith’s “Expansions”
then for a real nice twist, KRAFTWERK...
There is something about techno that just puts me in gear.
Maybe it’s the robotic quality it has, but I notice how things take a different focus when I have those little earphones on, walking about.
Everything is surreal, in a good way.
With the rhythm of walking, I go back to my runway days,
and pretend I’m showing the latest fashions on the catwalk...
Creating drama keeps the blues, the heat, and all the rest from darkening my day.
I got my “Dodger dogs” [ I haven't changed, my loyalty still lies with the Yankees, but they didn't have any "Yankee Dogs" so what's a girl to do?] sauerkraut, and of course, the Hellman’s mayo.
You can’t make a decent potato salad with the domestic stuff in my local market.
It dries up in one day.
When I make a potato salad, it has to be a generous amount, or what’s the point.
And this, people, believe it or not,
was behind the whole trip to Azabu Juban-
The damned Hellman’s.
I have been offered marriage proposals for my potato salad,
and one doesn’t skimp on such things...
On the way back from the super market, heading towards the Oedo line,
which as huge as the underground tunnels and by ways are, was amazingly cool-
I passed by a small park,
where some people had themselves camped,
and there was a group of fountains.
Girls with their little poodles and terriers were enjoying the chance to cool off.
The fountain is situated in a way that you could get your feet wet, but not worry about “germs” - the drain lies right beneath your feet-
I don’t know how this is managed, but at the time I just kicked off my sandals, and indulged in the white bubbly water cooling my feet.
It was lovely.
So , the day, although hot, wasn’t unbearable, and I managed to get all my loot and ride my bike home without heatstroke, as I heard later happened to some.
First really smokin’ hot day this year.
Tonite’s the fireworks.
Till next time... ‘Mela
Sunday, August 03, 2003
A brand new day...
I visited the public pool yesterday.
The temperature was just right.
I guess the first swim of the summer is always a bit magical.
I might have alluded in my earlier post that I was disgusted about not being able to wear sunblock.
Just vinegar and salt talking- you don’t live here all these years and not know how to get through such obstacles,
I just resent having to.
I suggest before starting out to the public pool a generous amount of Hawaiian Tropic’s 45 spf-
Rubbed in WELL.
It’s waterproof, and meant to last all day- so an hour or two in the sun, even after swimming, you will be protected.
Those life guards are funny, though, really...
I could be vain and think they really think I’m cute the way they check me out and smile at me as I enter the pool area, but I know it’s really a civilized body search for jewelry, oils and sunblocks.
Well in this case, they got fooled!
Summer is here...
AND, this is the greatest, people.
I heard this in a chat room I visit to keep my hand in the till-
Not the usual chat room banter:
This month of August the planet Mars will be coming the closest it has ever been to Earth!
The pinacle will be August 27th.
All of us alive today will never see this again!
Next time is 2287.
From now, you can see Mars as a bright “star” after around 10pm in the eastern sky.
But as the month progresses, it will rise earlier and BIGGER!
We, as the current inhabitants on this earth, will be given an extremely rare treat.
I remember the last earth shattering event, 9/11, and saying to my son: "Remember this day- remember who you were with, and what it felt like."
Because although tragic, it connects all of humanity alive that day.
The first event for me was July 20th, 1969.
The moon landing and first walk of Neil Armstrong.
I was at my grandmother and grandfather’s restaurant “The Cabin” in their summer employ when it happened,
I’ll never forget it.
It was also the year of "Woodstock"; the Peace, Love and Music event of the east coast in the sixties.
This event was an amazing thing.
There was a steady flow of travelers on this small highway to Woodstock, NY...
Due to the unbelievable amounts of traffic on it, The NY State Thruway was closed.
Alternative routes, became popular.
One of which was Rt 52, which my grandparents' establishment was located on.
I remember my grandfather, an Irishman from County Cork.
He tended bar at the restaurant.
To say he was conservative would be an understatement.
One day, in the days shortly before the 3 day event was to take place, a long haired, bearded hippie type man comes walking in the place.
He was well mannered, and he did have a shirt on, and sandals-
I looked on in a mixture of dread, and interest at what would happen next.
He asked my grandfather for directions to Woodstock from the highway he was currently traveling on, Rt 52.
My grandfather looked at him in assessment, and then told him to the best of his ability how to reach his destination, bid the man “good luck”, and sent him on his way.
After a safe amount of time went by [ about 3 minutes] we all looked at each other, then at him and started to laugh...
My grandfather said,
"Don’t laugh, that was St. Joseph”...
Remember where you are and who you are with when Mars comes close to us.
It's a once in a lifetime event.
Til next time... ‘Mela
Friday, August 01, 2003
August is here and
I got the blues...
I miss my family: my mother and step-dad, my 3 sisters, my nieces and nephews-
My best friend from high school and her husband, who I was maid of honor at their wedding, will be celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary tomorrow.
But I’ll be here.
I miss Yankee Stadium, watching the boys in pinstripes.
I miss shopping for brassieres and really cute shoes, where my size is not a problem.
I miss shopping for classic shades of lipstick, that never go out of “style”...
I miss overhearing conversations in crowded places, and by virtue of speaking the same lanquage feeling “part” of the conversation-
I miss the feeling of belonging to a country, and the unity that it sometimes brings...
I miss real kosher hot dogs.
I miss going to the foreign film movie houses with all movies having English subtitles-
I want to see Pedro Almavadar’s movies!
I miss the summer pools and beaches- that have no problem with a person putting on sun block, instead of inspecting you for it and insisting you “shower it off” .
I miss my home, although I don’t know where it is now, I know where it used to be.
I miss the sun not going down till almost 9pm,
and the feeling in the air-
I am tired to the bone of being in Japan.
And I know there are twenty million people who will just flip off the simple “Go to Narita” response,
but it just isn’t that simple-
Longing in one’s heart doesn’t necessarily make it the thing to do.
There are issues standing in the way-
So I’m facing them, with a purpose of mind that I have in most areas of my life.
But that don’t make me immune to the blues...
I heard my first cicada today.
They call them “semi’s” here...
In a few days, the fireworks will be here!
On the river near to me, a 1 hour show.
They do it every year.
They even got a firework that looks like a smiley face-
“If that isn’t love it’ll have to do
until the real thing comes along...” -Sammy Cahn
To my best friend Mary and her husband Tom-
HAPPY 25th ANNIVERSARY!
Till next time... ‘Mela