Saturday, October 28, 2006

State of Independence

This week was interesting since I received a box from my Uncle in Maine – filled with items from my Nana’s apartment. My Nana is 99, bless her soul, and after being independent since the death of her husband in 1957, she finally resigned to the reality that it was time to move into an assisted care facility on the island. The location is good, since many of her friends are there and my Uncle already volunteers there weekly, visiting to play the piano for the residents. So now Nana can enjoy her son’s performance with her friends.

So – cleaning out her apartment has been quite the chore – she’s lived on her own for almost 50 years and in this apartment for a good couple decades. Uncle Jack lead the project and his kids (the youngest is 30) pitched in to distribute her furniture to the various grandchildren etc.

I received a side half-table that my father had made in shop class as a teenager. It’s been with my Nana ever since. Additionally, Jack sent me my father’s life scrapbook that his mother kept since his birth.

As an only child who had to bury his father back in 1993, I don’t have the strongest family network anymore. My mother and her family love me very much – but I don’t really keep in contact with them much. So flipping through this book – busting at the seams with memories – and reading handwritten notes my father wrote his mother (my Nana) back when he was 5 is quite unusual.

Items like the card that marked his basket where he laid after being born at Pennsylvania Hospital on April 13, 1939. A card to my dad for his first Christmas from his 'Pop-Pop'. In one envelope I found the curls of hair from the very first haircut my dad had back in 1941 when he was 2.

Strange emotions came over me – as if I was peeking into a drawer I wasn’t allowed to see. I was reading notes from my dad to his dad – and realizing that both men were dead.

I learned things that I never knew - for example, I was holding the kerchief that my dad wore in Boy Scouts and, with amazement, reading just how detailed he was in his studies by scanning his report cards and notes from school, including clippings from the paper of his participation in school events.

I felt both the comfort in knowing and reliving my family roots first hand by exploring this book – and at the same time realizing that it’s all history for me. It isn’t current. The players are just part of my past.

I rely on my friends for the bond that others get from family, and since I don’t really have too many open friendships, I wind up dealing with life, solo.

In many ways, I have become just as independent as my Nana.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Fall Blossoms

So, summer has ended and we’re days away from Halloween 2006. There’s been a lot of things on my plate to distract me the past two months, including a couple business trips (South Beach and San Jose) but I suppose the real reason this memoirs blog took the back burner was because I had reached a pivotal point in this process and wasn’t quite sure where to go next.

When I began this project I wanted to document my life in Philadelphia in the 1980s. There were plenty of stories to share and I felt that this would be as good an avenue to get them out – both for myself and for anyone bored enough to read through.

Over the first three months I went from simple documentation of events to opening up the hermetically-sealed container that is my past. I had some interesting revelations while sharing my story and the threads that connect all these memories – but by June I felt that I had tapped myself out.

I think what started as a history lesson became a cathartic release of emotions that had been pent up for two decades. With each story posted, I took a deeper and more fulfilling breath – and came to realize that although many of the friends, locations and culture that surrounded me during those years are gone – the memories are just as strong as ever. They are what keep me alive, since they help me shape who I am today.

It’s not a coincidence that I am known as the new wave DJ in Philadelphia – I didn’t create Sex Dwarf or Land of the Lost because there was a void and a chance to make some money. I did and continue to do both because they keep me grounded and in touch with who I am.

Also, by investing so much time, money and creative juice into Sex Dwarf and Land of the Lost, I am developing new fans of the genre as well as sending out an open call to those old friends that grew up on this … each friend of Sex Dwarf and Land of the Lost helps me feel less alone in the world. Since, in many ways, they are replacing those friends that I’ve lost over the past twenty years.

People email me about how much they love Sex Dwarf. The funny thing is that I am grateful for their love and support since it is more than a party. It is me. It makes me feel rounded and grounded. I love the Sex Dwarf family more than they realize sometimes. And I am the one that is most thankful.

So, that brings me to this memoirs blog. Over summer, when I was at a crossroads with this project and time was tight in my life, I began to lazily post the same thing in both this blog as well as in my Live Journal and my My Space page … not really giving much thought to the process.

I’ve realized that THIS blog is designed for my memories – not just of the 80s, but in general. I want this blog to remain the space where I share my emotions with myself (and those of you reading). I’ve received some wonderful comments on my style of writing and such – and it has made me realize that perhaps writing is the portal that allows this unemotional spirit to be emotional after all.

I will continue to use Live Journal for casual comments about life and to spread the word of the various things I’m producing and creating – and I’ll probably copy my Live Journal posts over to my My Space blog, just to share those same thoughts with that circle.

But this is where I will be me, to me. It’s important to have an outlet and not water it down by distributing it like a press release on my life. This is my online home – its where my roots are, in the form of memory posts, and it is where I finally rediscovered myself emotionally.

The discovery continues.

To those reading – thanks for being part of it.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

A Nomi Break

This is one of the most beautiful and moving performances I have ever seen. Done for German TV in front of hometown fans - this was his last ever performance, as he would die a few months later from AIDS.

Powerful, especially when you know the backstory of the number he is performing in English (The Cold Song) - follow along as you play it, the lyrics are below:

Cold Song = What power art thou [Cold Genius] -- Henry Purcell 1689/1691: King Arthur, The British Worthy -- 3rd act


"What power art thou, who from below
Hast made me rise unwillingly and slow
From beds of everlasting snow
See'st thou not how stiff and wondrous old,
Far unfit to bear the bitter cold,
I can scarcely move or draw my breath
Let me, let me freeze again
to death..."

Friday, October 06, 2006

One Memory, Shared By Many

One of the neatest things about this memoirs blog is how many people I've heard from that have commented on how my posts have triggered their own memory vaults and they are appreciative of the chance to flashback to what was, in many ways, a simplier time.

Last week I had the chance to host Bunnydrums as they returned live to the Philly stage at the North Star Bar. They were intense and reproduced the sound that I remember 20 years ago at the Kennel Club.

A day later I received an email from a fellow fan - but a stranger to me. They wanted to share their opinion about Bunnydrums and wanted my feedback on what they had written - I was so impressed with their description of the music, the times, the energy that I asked if I could post it. They agreed and to this day, remain anonymous.

So - for a change, let's relive Philadelphia
in the early/mid 1980s through the words of another:


- the story of a local Philly band
and what they've meant (and still mean) to me

Its been over 20 years since I've had the pleasure of seeing a live Bunnydrums performance. In a way, this is a love story, a fanatical outpouring from an obsessed but semi-adjusted individual. Bear with me... this is something that just can't stay buried inside of me.


First off, they sound like no one and no one sounds like them. I can't tell you the first time I actually watched them play. I can barely tell you the exact location of the record shops where I purchased the vinyl after discovering them. The memory from 'those days' is not to be trusted, but the feelings, the emotion THAT is the story I wish to tell.

When I hear these songs, I get visuals - strong visuals; emotional / spiritual / physical - something only music can do to me.

Bunnydrums is something else.

This is where I live - it not only hits me, but there are moments when it actually knocks me down. Not in a depressing or morbid melancholy, but an exuberance - a familiarity -- I know this. I often believe I can recognize genius - I know it when I hear it. And this truly is.

I have an extreme respect and an almost divine awe - both uplifting and down. Contradictory, but never without understanding. There is knowledge here. There are live wires being held onto by tight fists. No consciousness lost, but there is abandon, detachment.

There is resonance caught in the silences of a single recording. The production on every single vinyl release is meticulous, capturing the essence of this truly original sound sculpture - this contribution to my world.

The live shows, where I had the pleasure of hearing this ethereal fusion - the 'factory' funk dungeon, to shows in local philly haunts such as the East Side Club, Filly's, The Kennel Club, whatever - memory fails me in this endeavor. It's not solely about the 'live' experience.

This is a sound phenom. It followed me home at night, to work, and to school in the mornings. I walked around aimlessly with them into Center City Philadelphia - to read in parks, to look for my friends. I walked on railroad tracks at night and always, as I ascended the grimy steps of the Broad Street subway, Bunnydrums was there with me.

Trudging along in anguish, in triumph, in the rain, in whatever time of day it was! This music, this phenomena which called itself Bunnydrums was Philly to me - my home. It was the soundtrack to my life, and still is.

The oddest thing is I have no real love for this city, yet I seem not to be able to leave it. Everything I know is here. Friends, family, disastrous x lovers, but most importantly, the multitude of music I've witnessed.

Bunnydrums has always provided me with the soundtrack to my existence as a long (and I mean long!) time Philly resident. They sound like what I know, they sound like this city, my city, for better AND worse.

They have the power to breathe for me on days when I find it unbearable to move. Truly this is either insanity, complete fanaticism, senility, or a miraculous underground intervention ---> you decide.

...but give Bunnydrums a listen.

click the album cover to visit their site and listen to their sounds!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Specials ARE!

Lynval Golding (of The Specials) and I hanging backstage after a sweaty, sold-out concert from The English Beat, featuring Dave Wakeling, Lynval and Paulene Black of Selecter!


Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Divas and Snowflakes

Today turned out to be a very low key day - it's now past 9pm and I have been listening to "Ebben, ne andro lontanoaria" - the aria from "La Wally" ... performed by Wilhelmenia Fernandez from the 1981 cult classic film, Diva. This film resonated with me when it first came out and I saw it at the Theatre of Living Arts on South Street. I remember being brought to tears by Wilhemenia's performance, as so many others were as well. It triggered another memory - that of December 1984 when Mayor Goode had announced that Ms. Fernandez (a local girl gone good) was to perform at the lighting of the Christmas Tree outside City Hall ...

My friend Larry was a big fan of the movie Diva as well and a big queen to boot (literally and figuratively) - not to mention a big pothead ... I remember going over to his basement apartment on Juniper Street - he had a fireplace which was ablaze and we had some warm cocktail of some sort - like a hot buttered rum or some such (being it was winter and cold) ... we 'prepared' for our trip over to City Hall and when we got there we pushed our way to the front ... there was this beautiful tree ... it was huge, especially from our unique perspective (keep in mind it was about 6pm and everyone else there was probably just getting off work and on their way home - and here are two queens all toasted and ready for the Diva to perform just for us!)

Goode said his words and introduced various city folk and finally introduced Wilhelmenia ... she came out dressed in the most amazing winter coat - lush red fabric complete with a matching hat - she said a few kind words about her hometown and then proceeded to sing a cappella to the audience... with the very first note, Larry and I turned and squeezed each other's arm as she began to perform one of the most haunting renditions of Ava Maria. And while she sang this beautiful song - the whole crowd stopped - everyone was transfixed on her voice. I never heard the city so quiet at rush hour before or since. And, if that wasn't enough - before she got a minute into the performance, snowflakes began to flurry upon us. Just enough to make that evening one of the most magical moments I've ever had.

If you've never seen Diva and/or have no idea what the aria from La Wally sounds like ... visit the site for the new Aria Condominiums, since they use her rendition of the aria (which is from the Diva soundtrack) as their musicbed for their website: