Thursday, 24 May 2012

Decline and Follicle: Another Facial Hair Removal Post!

After nearly thirteen months of steadfast electrolysis on my face and neck, I have finally got to the stage where I scarcely need to shave in between my weekly sessions. I am, and will be, eternally grateful for the talent, skill and patience of my electrologist whose dogged determination helps my along the road much less traveled.

My abundance of difficult, stubborn facial hair (chalk it up to my Mediterranean/Caribbean hereditary baggage) has been the single biggest reason for my slow pace in transitioning at work. One major transition goal that I have is to not have to wear foundation or make-up; my shadow, from hair as well as from the discolouration in my face from years of shaving, would be gone and my skin tone even. That day is fast approaching.

What a great day it will be!

Friday, 18 May 2012

Time Is Tight ... RIP Donald "Duck" Dunn

This is a much belated post, but I could not not pay tribute to one of the most important rhythm players in soul music. I found out about Dunn's death on Facebook while doing my radio show last Sunday afternoon; he had died that morning in Tokyo while on tour with a few of his Memphis soul colleagues, namely guitarist Steve Cropper and singer Eddie Floyd. Curiously enough, I was in the middle of a short set of Stax-Volt songs, all of which Dunn had played bass on. I decided then and there to extend that set and make a short announcement. I played the Booker T and the MGs version of "Summertime" (from their sophomore album ... And Now!) which, despite the title, sounded very mournful.

Dunn joined Stax Records in 1961 (when it was still called Satellite Records) along with the band that would be named the Mar-Keys. Their song "Last Night" went from being a regional to being a national hit immediately.

Spending a couple of years away from Stax, Dunn returned to the fold to join the label's de facto house band the MGs (for Memphis Group) lead by organist Booker T Jones. The band had just scored a hit in 1962 with the mellow instrumental "Green Onions". On MGs, Mar-Keys (they had one more hit in 1966 with "Philly Dog") and other artists' work, Dunn laid down some funky basslines.

In the tense atmosphere of late 60s/early 70s, post-King assassination Memphis, the interracial harmony of the band, as well as the label, fractured. Jones left the MGs in 1970. The band continued in various forms until Stax went bankrupt in 1976. Dunn continued to record and play in the years afterward, famously as part of the band in the 1980 film The Blues Brothers.

A dedicated musician, Dunn died while doing the thing he loved most.

Dunn's music is the foundation of so much of what have heard in music since then. His bassline is ours.

Rest in peace.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Lady of the Night ... RIP Donna Summer

Her songs played on the radio and on passing car stereos as I grew up. An early one, "Love to Love You, Baby" was, of course, completely beyond me and not appropriate for me to hear at the time it came out (I was five), but it played just the same. Later on, I heard Donna Summer's version of "MacArthur Park" (I heard the Richard Harris original sometime later) and heard the stunning vocal acrobatics of someone whose singing could cross from soul to rock to operatic in a heartbeat. "Last Dance" opened many a TV special (including a Dick Clark's American Bandstand anniversary show). The summer before I started grade eight, I first saw the video for "She Works Hard For The Money" and loved the sight of hard working women, including Summer herself, proudly asserting themselves.

It was only much later that I learned more about Summer's life and musical contributions: her girl groups in the 1960s, her idolizing of rock singer Janis Joplin, her familiarity with Lower East Side New York counterculture including the music of the Velvet Underground. Her classical training. Her role in the German production of the musical Hair. Such a rich, musical talent.

Donna Summer, I can scarcely imagine the music world, or the world period, without you, but I guess I will have to. You will be missed.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Thoughtful Mother's Day

I'm having a very pensive day, today. I miss my mom a lot. But, I would like to wish all of the other mothers and grandmothers, etc. out there in the world a Happy Mother's Day. In their honour, let's all work for a better world free from bigotry and war.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

A Place In The Sun ... A Year of La Dolce!!!

At some point, over the past few days while getting over a horrendous flu bug and working on a couple of writing projects, I remembered that the first anniversary for my personal blog happens May 3: tomorrow, in other words.

I has truly been cathartic, healing, fun and an honour to write, post and share this blog with my followers and others who have hopped along for the ride at various points since last May. Thanks to all of you who have sent your encouragement and feedback over the past twelve months. It's great to know that so many have found my posts about my life and transition inspiring, my discussion of world issues (or the ones that I had time post about) educational and my pop cultural references fascinating. My pleasure!

And now, here's to another year, which I'm sure will not be less challenging, educational, creative or fun than this past one has been.

And here's my first post from May 3, 2011 ... enjoy, again!