Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Me and Frank

The prompt: inspiration from John Jeremiah Sullivan's "Pulphead Essays." My piece was drawn from Sullivan's essay on Axl Rose and Michael Jackson. I took the story of icon and where I found myself in his fame and his legacy. 

Naturally, I pick this guy. My favorite guy's guy. 

           The trumpets blare and the clarinets sing into key. And then – there he is. Taking over the song. The space. Even from the small area of each one of my headphones as I listen to him while I write.
            He’s there – taking over my heart again. With that voice. That voice that never makes a love song sound the same again to me.

            I was fifteen when I first found him. I think it was tape. As I pressed the play button he came a-booming over my stereo speakers. I turned the volume higher and I just kind of sat there. Entranced. As he bellowed his last note, I had yet to move. Still cross-legged between my bed and my closet, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. And that’s what I fell in love with- the inability to believe that one man could sound so good.
            Now you have to understand that before this moment. On the carpet with the tape, I had toyed around with short trumpets and reckless drum beats of Ska. The teeter-totter of a man’s or woman’s voice that take you through a story of rebellion all the while the band kept playing. It was fun. I enjoyed it, but that’s as far as it went. I had yet to find an artist call my own. Until Frank, I was uncommitted. And bored.

            Listening to all of side A I remember hesitating to flip it over: side B.
            Could I handle it?
            Handle nearing the end of it?
            I had to.

            I know this all sounds a bit dramatic but what’s good ol’ blue eyes without the drama? Even with his happier tunes, there’s still the dramatic tinkle of the piano that makes you want to slow dance cheek-to-cheek and hold on tight. And perhaps this is just me - the fangirl with the heart for theatrics.

            Frank was a troubled man, fantastic crooner, and horrible lover. It’s all he ever needed before he stepped up to the mic, grabbed it by its neck, and snapped his fingers to whisk you away.  I’ve often heard that when it comes to writers, “writing happy” can be difficult. That is, if the writer is happy and content with his life, then the writing suffers. I believe this to be horseshit. But I wonder, does this saying circulate in the music world? Can a crooner sing happy?” Even as he swoons over his beloved in track number five, is there not echo of potential lost over the fact that the love is so good, her face so beautiful, and that it may all gone?
            The famous “The Way You Look Tonight,” by Sinatra, is a sweet song describing the love affair of a face, a demeanor that’s so lovely. However as you listen there’s something in Frank’s voice that leads you to feel that it’s just the moment. That it’s fleeting.
            It’s sad.

            To think of love and admiration as a fleeting notion whether that may be one day or ten years is a heavy thing - that whole journey to an end, to the loveliness, to the sweetness, to the ooo and the ahhh.

            Frank never kept love long. He tried four times: the first wife being the only mother of three. Rumor has it that he recorded the deeply melancholy “One for My Baby (And One More for the Road)” short after his divorce from the vivacious Ava Gardner. She broke him, it was whispered. When you listen to the track, the words melt in his mouth like he can’t control it: the ache. The man in the song speaks to his loyal bartender and says, “the torch that he’s found has gotta be drowned or it soon might explode.”
            I get it Frank.
            We all get burned -
            and you sing it so well. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Hostile Disneyland

***The prompt: "I didn't want to go, but I went anyway." 

And so after holding onto this story for a couple of years...        

 I didn’t want to go, but I went anyway – to the gun show. It was Andrea (the writer, the curious pain my ass) that whispered in my head that I should go.
            Come ON- you gotta experience everything at least once. It’s always another story to write. Another place to people watch. GO!

            I hate to admit that I’m a total pushover when it comes to my creative voice. It says jump, I ask how high, etc. At times, I believe the muse within just pushes me for sick pleasure, like the gun show.

            These are the things I enjoy: dancing, food, Jazz, books, art, coffee, and film. These are the things I do not enjoy: warehouses that smell like sweat, guns, gun accessories (seriously - you want that trigger thingy mu-jig that cost over a hundred dollars so you can fire your bullets faster?), confederate apparel (it’s tacky), and my ex-boyfriend.
            All of the latter were present at the gun show ’07.
            It was held at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. However, nothing was outdoors, it was just one large warehouse housing table after table of pistols, shotguns, handguns, and even a few ninja stars. When I spotted my first pair at the third or so table, I tried to stifle my laugh. Well, no, I laughed. And then power walked quickly to the next aisle when the vendor of the ninja weapon gave me a “go fuck yourself” look.

            I went because I pretended to be in love with my ex-boyfriend, and his younger brother, the gun enthusiast, of the group was in his version of Disneyland: hostile, confederate, Disneyland.
             It was lovely.

            When my ex asked if I wanted to go, I knew it was more of a pity invite because he didn’t want to break our previous plans to be with each other on that Saturday afternoon.
            Go to the gun show with you baby? Why- how you know?!...

            I said yes.
            I said yes because of I was in fake love with my fake man because he was still a boy even though he was seven years my senior at twenty-seven. I said yes because the creative genius within my conscious, said
            “Sure, what the hell.”
            So I went.
            The most exciting event came when a Fat Bastard from the Austin Powers movie look-alike found his way towards me as he mused over semi-automatics and I snuck a picture of him on my phone. That was my story when I went home and came back to my college roommates.
            “How was the gun show.” (Add thick coat of sarcasm)
            “Awesome! -  I saw Fat Bastard.” (Add thick coat of faint joy)
            I’ll give the gun show guys some credit for having a table of jewelry and Marilyn Monroe/James Dean/ Betty Bop merchandise.
            A table.
            A girl can only walked around a single table for so long. After forty-five minutes and without a purchase, I started looking creepy and perhaps ready to steal. At least that’s the vibe I got from the Santa with suspenders sitting next to the register.
            When I found my ex and his younger brother, both smiled and asked if I bought anything. No, I responded, and put my hands in my pockets: my body language that I was ready to get the hell out of this place. It was close to mid afternoon and the strong July heat of San Diego was settling into the warehouse. The aromas of burnt hair and bad cologne were threatening to become one with the fibers of my t-shirt.
            Taking mercy on me they agreed to leave. Young bro got all his brand new dangerous toys and he was content. Ex mulled over the idea of finally buying his first gun and the whole drive back I realized that I didn’t want to go, but I went anyway.