The Power of Love – Amor Vincit Omnia

22 03 2016

Well Phase 1 is complete. Saturday my love of late in life and I arrived in Denver at 11AM. March 19 ended what has been something you only do once in a lifetime. Vicky and I fell in love in Merida in 2012. A heart attack took me back to the USA last July for a triple bypass and valve replacement. Since then we spent 11 November days together in Merida. We began the process to get Vicky a Fiancee Visa to come to the USA on November 11. One week ago on March 15(the Ides of March and Ceasar’s demise), the Consulate in Juarez, Mexico agreed to grant the visa.

US closes its consulate in Ciudad JuarezConsulate

Where the relatives wait while the Consulate interviews the visa applicant.

Friday, the day before we arrived in Denver, a bus ride across the bridge between Juarez and El Paso took 2 hours. Most of the time we were stationary on the bridge while the Border Patrol did what they do. Another hour was spent waiting while the Border Patrol reviewed the documents the Consulate had sent as part of the Visa approval process. We spent 7 more hours of waiting in the bus terminal for the overnight from El Paso to Denver. The 14 hour bus ride ended in Denver in the welcoming arms of my son and girlfriend.

Running-in-Juarez-e1439220859377-375x500

A writer friend of mine well-versed in Latin and Greek quoted Vergil’s “amor vincit omnia” when I told him our saga had ended. His phrase has stayed with me since I heard it – not for the first time in my life, but for the most meaningful. I have the kind of brain where music is constantly playing and the phrase reminded me of…

Here are Vicky and I the day the Consulate approved the Visa…

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La Vie en Rose & The Super Bowl

9 02 2016

There is/was an old photograph of my mother with me nestled next to her. In the many moves and changes in my life it has been lost. I don’t remember why it was done but the photo was taken in a studio. I was no more than 5 years old and my Mom in her 20’s. It’s stuck in my mind because we were ‘dressed to the nines,’ not what you’d expect from a family living in a Northeast Philadelphia row house.

My Mom never recognized her beauty, but in this picture it was undeniable. Her curly black hair was coiffed, she wore a grey hounds-tooth jacket over a white blouse and make-up that highlighted her blue eyes. I was a towhead wearing a wide-collared white shirt open at the neck over a navy blue collarless blazer. The photo was in my parents’ bedroom for many years. It was the kind of picture you’d expect to see in an upper class English estate and in that sense worlds apart from our family reality.

The other day I was listening on Youtube to Edith Piaf sing my favorite song from that time.  Here it is….

 

 

The song brought back to mind the picture with my Mom. I couldn’t be little Lord Fauntleroy in Philly’s Oxford Circle. Well I could have been, but my Dad came home from WWII and wasn’t buying it. He didn’t like what he saw in the alley one day and taught me to box at 6 years old. Then he said, “Pick a fight with the guy who’s the toughest kid on the block.”

By the time I was in my 20’s I was a rugby-playing ex-soldier with bad memories of fights where they had to pull me off the other guy. The little boy struggling with getting Mom’s 33 1/3 RPM vinyl placed on the turntable had become a product of the American Dream/Nightmare.

The most vivid Super Bowl 50 memory I have is the shot of the soldiers in Afghanistan flashed on TV screens before the game. We are the only country I know of that blatantly mixes military with sport. I was a soldier, my Dad was a soldier. I have nothing against soldiers, but I am against the idea of glorifying what we did or what is being done now.

There was a time when I thought living in the USA was life with a rosy hue – La Vie en Rose. Life still has a rosy hue but my government and military add the color of blood more than I think is necessary.

Edith dedicated one of her recordings to the French Foreign Legion. At the time of the recording, France was engaged in a military conflict, the Algerian War (1954–1962).  This song has now become part of the French Foreign Legion heritage and is sung when they are on parade…

Unlike Edith and the soldiers of the FFL I do have regrets. I regret the loss of the photo of my Mom and the boy who struggled with Edith’s records. I also regret that it took me a long time to regain the innocence of that boy. I am thankful that I have. Overall my thanks for life in the USA outweigh my regrets. But like Mosa Allison sings here i’m gettin’ there…





They Sent A Message from Cielito Lindo and Lola La Grande

11 10 2015

concacaf

The mantra of my life as a young man was “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.” Not so much anymore. Last night it came back into my mind. Not that the quality of CONCACAF football is the equal of UEFA but Mexico reversed the trend of the agony of being defeated by the USA.

WHY?

As I watched I was amazed at the difference between USA and Mexico. Mexico played to win and the USA played to survive. It was not politically correct for the commentators to mention it but the frenzy of the Mexican fans and the pace of Mexican play had to be influenced by the attitude some Americans have toward Mexicans.

In American sport it’s a no-no to say something that gives the opposition an edge. We’ve all heard how coaches stick things on the wall to motivate their players. Mexico’s coach didn’t have to do anything; Donald Trump had taken care of that.

Living in Mexico for almost 3 years I grew accustomed to the place and the people. They have problems with government corruption and drug-related crime but their sense of family and culture puts the USA to shame. Their work ethic is extraordinary and I found the woman of my dreams there. I don’t root against my country of origin but last night Mexico deserved to win by more than one goal and it didn’t bother me a bit. As one gringo to another I’d like to tell Mister Trump he can disappear quietly and quickly. I’m sure the USMNT would agree.

concacaf2





My Autumn Serenade on JBR

19 09 2015

Come Sunday my novel…dcover

 

will be featured on Julie’s Book Review. Go here to see what they have to say about it…

http://juliesbookreview.blogspot.com/

Not one of the Songs of Icarus because it was recorded after the events in the story take place, Autumn Serenade is a favorite of mine from the album that paired Johnny Hartman with John Coltrane. If you have a special person in your life there is nothing more intimate to listen to than Hartman’s baritone vocalizations and Coltrane’s tenor improvisations. The autumnal equinox is this week so find that “special one”, listen to a masterpiece, and then read a book. I think you know what I’m getting at.





Risen from the Dead in Denver

11 09 2015

It’s been 2 months to the day since my last post on this blog. Today is 9/11. Not the best day to rise from the dead but that’s the “afterlife advice” I received from Andy Garcia. If you seen the film you’ll understand.

Denverdead

After a harrowing 4 hour plane ride from Cancun clutching a nitro inhaler to prevent another heart attack like the one I had in Merida I arrived in Denver 2 months ago. A triple bypass and aortic valve replacement was performed 5 days later by Dr. Jason Shofnos of St. Joseph’s Hospital (one of the top hospitals in the US for cardiac disease treatment). I owe my life to Dr. Shofnos, my 2 sons Bill and Mike, and Virginia Carrasco Silva. There are many others who helped me recuperate physically and psychically. Thanks to all of you for your energy and prayers.

I didn’t choose Denver, it chose me. My grandmother always said I had “the luck of the Irish.” She was right. Here I sit today in my top floor apartment with a view of Benedict Park. I can be in downtown Denver without a car in less than 15 minutes. There’s a gym in the apartment complex where I work out regularly. If you know me you might wonder but it’s not the Jack Kerouac Building (there is an apartment complex in Denver named after him). Growing up in Philly I used to hang in RIttenhouse Square drinking tea and cinnamon-sprinkled cider at the Gilded Cage and the Proscenium with my beatnik friends during high school. Later on in college it was Dirty Frank’s and McGillin’s Pub drinking adult beverages that took me back to my lost adolescence and that lost Beat Generation.

In the 50’s in Denver it was the Beat Generation….http://www.denver.org/things-to-do/itineraries/beat-legacy/ . Now it’s Hipsters…http://www.westword.com/arts/ten-best-denver-hipster-shops-5804964.

So where do I fit in? As usual I don’t. What I am doing though is emphasizing what I think is my best work since I’m still alive and well in the Mile High City. Julie’s Book Review http://juliesbookreview.blogspot.com/ will be featuring my novel “Songs of Icarus” http://booklocker.com/books/7143.html beginning September 20.

dcover





My Modern Day Modest Proposal

22 06 2015

A_Modest_Proposal_1729_Cover

Jonathon Swift wrote one of the best pieces of English satire in 1729 in reaction to England’s treatment of the Irish. I read it in college having chosen to major in English and wanting to be a writer myself. Without knowing the background of the work I initially thought Swift was seriously proposing cannibalism. Go here to find out why…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Modest_Proposal

My ‘modest proposal’ is in reaction to Donald Trump’s announced attempt to become the next POTUS and the number of racist hate crimes and police brutality happening there. I left Los Angeles for a variety of reasons. One of the primary was that the country, not Cali or LA, had become a place I’d rather be from rather than living in. I did it with a lot of thoughts, one of them being that I might live to regret it. The past 3 years have been just the opposite. No regrets, just amazement at the wrong-headedness coming out of the richest country in the world. If things keep going the way they are, the US will be the richest country with the lowest per capita income ever. Maybe it already is. As Edith Piaf sang, “Non, je ne regrette rien.”
I propose that there be a election in which Donald Trump run unopposed. Everyone who votes for him will then be moved to a now vacant spot on earth in which they can live. We’ll have to find a suitable place but that shouldn’t be too hard. We can consult Dante’s “Inferno” for the level of Hell best suited to them. We can call it Los Estados Unidos Contra Todo.

As for those who think that the killings in Charleston were anti-Christian rather than racist I suggest they listen to my all-time favorite “Modest Proposal.” If there were a country of undervalued artists I’d move there and vote for Mose Allison for President…





Icarus’ Favorite Song – Over the Mountain, Across the Sea

22 05 2015

Growing up in Philly “American Bandstand” was in our faces everyday in the 50’s. What we didn’t know was that other cities had their own version of the first American teenage dance show. Philly’s “Bandstand”(the original name of the show) started in 1952 showing short movies of music – precursors to the music videos of today. Milt Grant’s “Record Hop” was the Washington, DC version of AB. Here’s Johnnie and Joe singing their biggest hit on his show…

“Over the Mountain, Across the Sea” was every dreamer boy’s favorite song at the end of the 50’s, Jim Collins the hero of my novel included. It captured the yearning for far away romance. Jim knew little back then about how life was outside the neighborhood. Things are different now that we’re all connected by Smartphone, Androids and tablets.

There’s a 3rd voice on the record. Rex Garvin wrote the song, played the piano(an integral piece of the song’s impact) and was part of the vocal backup. Joe Rivers, the lead vocalist, was his friend and Johnnie Louise Richardson, the female vocalist was the record company owner’s daughter. By the way, J&S Records was owned by Zelma “Zell” Sanders. A woman record company owner was pretty unheard of back then.

The popular wisdom holds that everybody wanted to be one of the dancers on “American Bandstand.” The popular wisdom is wrong. The teenagers of the 50’s and 60’s had mixed feelings about it. Fictionally, some of Jim Collins’ buddies resent the fame those kids got on TV. Truthfully, two of the most popular dancers on “American Bandsatnd”, Eddie Kelly and Bunny Gibson, had to change schools to get away from the bullying and adult narrow mindedness of the time.

Read all about it here…

dcover

http://booklocker.com/books/7143.html








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