I Think I’m Ready Now

With a taste of your lips
I’m on a ride
You’re toxic I’m slipping under
With a taste of a poison paradise
I’m addicted to you
Don’t you know that you’re toxic

Intoxicate me now
With your lovin’ now
I think I’m ready now

I think I’m ready now
—-Toxic, Britney Spears

Last Saturday I went on a fun bike ride – a fundraiser for the Santa Fe Trail that runs from White Rock Lake to Deep Ellum and Fair Park (my favorite Dallas trail). We ended up at a new place, The Goat Ranch which was fun.

At the end of the festivities, instead of riding straight back to White Rock, I rode into the thick crowd at the Deep Ellum Arts Festival. I had been there the evening before to buy a little monster head in a box (this was my seventh – will have to write about that soon), but thought I’d check it out for a few minutes and see what was going on in the crowded melee of a Saturday Afternoon.

I locked up my bike and hobbled in on my SPD cleated cycling shoes along Murray Street until I saw a woman setting up with a guitar and a small Fender amp on a little busking stage at Murray and Commerce. There was a table with a chair available so I decided to sit and listen.

Alexandra Tayara and her Fender amp

Alexandra Tayara and her Fender amp

Her name was Alexandra Tayara and she was very good. Surprisingly good.

Her first song was the chestnut “House of the Rising Sun.” I’m not sure if she knew the significance of singing that song in that spot. This was the heart of Deep Ellum, of course, and I could almost feel the ghost of Leadbelly wandering those very streets with Blind Lemon Jefferson and singing “House of the Rising Sun.”

She went on to sing some original tunes (really liked “Hurt Boy” – you can get a copy from her website) along with some covers.

My favorite was an emotional bluesy version from that master of emotional bluesy songs – Britney Spears. I had heard people say that “Toxic” was a very good song, but until that Saturday, I didn’t understand it.

I wasn’t the only one that was affected. The crowd grew on the sidestreet as members of the thick throng parading by on Commerce were pulled in by the sound. A guy sitting next to me kept shouting out – his girl would walk over and admonish him but he would reply, “I can’t help it.”

Alexandra Tayara

Alexandra Tayara

She did a few more songs and then finished up. She was going to perform on a larger stage at seven that eveing. I would have enjoyed hearing her again, but I had a lot of work to finish, so I unlocked my bike and began the pedal home.

Advertisements

We Can Be Heroes

I usually don’t write about celebrities, especially musicians, when they pass away. I understand the sadness of their family and friends and mourn along with them. I am not without sympathy. But I am not their family and friends and, let’s face it, am not really affected personally by their passing.

You see, being an artist gives a person a kind of immortality. The art takes on its own life. Long after an artist is gone, the work remains. Especially now, when everything is digital and instantly accessible an artistic ghostly presence is forever there in the cloud. They may be gone, but they will never be forgotten.

This time it’s different. A month ago I came across an online article – VIDEO: New David Bowie song possibly the most David Bowie song ever. I watched the video for Blackstar and I had to agree – the music and the video – the only way to describe it is David Fucking Bowie.

So I started taking notes about my memories of David Bowie.

There was a cable television documentary – David Bowie: Five Years. It was fascinating to watch, because I could pin the precious years of my young life along with the progression of Bowie’s music and career.

I actually read about Bowie before I heard him. You forget, back in the day, how difficult it was to actually hear music that wasn’t on the top forty list. There were no digital downloads and I was living outside the country and glam rock wasn’t all that popular in Nicaragua at the time. So I read all I could about music, and read a lot about David Bowie – without actually being able to hear his music.

The first time I heard “Space Oddity” was on a battery powered FM radio while I was sitting in a pickup truck in the middle of a vast hot dusty field during harvest, waiting for a load of wheat to come from the harvesting combine. I remember the moment like it was yesterday.

Of course, once I made it to college, a variety of music became more available, though nothing like today. For an amazing decade David Bowie’s various styles and personas led what was happening with me and my friends, anticipating: glam, punk, electronic, and then dance music.

Even, decades later, when I was making a video to show at Nick’s high school graduation, mixing photos and music, I chose Heroes as one of the songs. I went to quite a bit of trouble to make sure this photo appeared during the lines:

Nick in Mexico

Nick in Mexico

I, I wish you could swim
Like the dolphins, like dolphins can swim
Though nothing, nothing will keep us together
We can beat them, forever and ever
Oh we can be heroes, just for one day

So when I stumbled across Blackstar and the first single, Lazarus, I was glad to see some more new stuff from Bowie, David Fucking Bowie, after all these years. I watched it and tried to figure out what was going on. I couldn’t.

Yesterday, I found out.

Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only the Bass Player

“People worry about kids playing with guns, and teenagers watching violent videos; we are scared that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands – literally thousands – of songs about broken hearts and rejection and pain and misery and loss.”
― Nick Hornby, High Fidelity

Monco Poncho Four Bullets Brewery Richardson, Texas

Monco Poncho
Four Bullets Brewery
Richardson, Texas

Le nozze di Figaro

The Opening Credits on the screen in Klyde Warren Park

The Opening Credits on the screen in Klyde Warren Park

Over the last couple of years, I have seen two simulcasts of the Dallas Opera, both at Cowboy’s Stadium on the giant video screen. First was Turandot and then, a year later, The Barber of Seville. Despite the compromises in seeing an opera in a football stadium – I enjoyed both performances… a lot.

So now, I found out that the Dallas Opera was doing another simulcast on opening night, this time The Marriage of Figaro, and outdoors at Klyde Warren Park, instead of the stadium. This looked great to me, I’m a big fan of Klyde Warren and it’s a sequel to The Barber of Seville. Plus it’s free. Plus I have never seen a Mozart Opera.

I shoved a thick blanket into a backpack and took the DART train downtown after work. I thought of taking my bicycle, but decided to walk it anyway. I hurt my foot (Plantar fasciitis) a couple weeks ago backpacking, but managed to limp my way down to the park. I arrived early, so I was able to stake out some grassy real estate right in front of the giant screen.

As I was waiting I finished reading Tolstoy’s The Kreutzer Sonata. It was interesting to compare the novella with the opera. Although they could not be any different in tone… and of course in the ending, the two shared a lot of theme in ideas of jealousy, the treatment of women, and how love can turn unhappy. Although The Marriage of Figaro is billed as a light farce – a comedic farce – there is deep meaning and sadness concealed under a layer of genius.

The opera was great. The park was a better setting than the stadium – the sound system was so much better. Without the echoing of the vast dome, the sound came through loud and clear.

The start of the third act.

The start of the third act.

It was also fun watching all the other people at the park. Most arrived in big groups with packs full of tupperware containers bulging with food and coolers of wine. As they drank and ate – the behavior on the lawn became as slapstick as the ones on the screen.

The crowd behind me at The Marriage of Figaro at Klyde Warren Park

The crowd behind me at The Marriage of Figaro at Klyde Warren Park

They said there were four thousand people watching the simulcast.

They said there were four thousand people watching the simulcast.

The only problem was one of time and comfort. I arrived at the park at five o’clock and the opera ended around midnight. That means I was stuck on a blanket in the grass for seven hours. That’s too long – I’m too old for that. I was awfully sore when I rode the train back home in the wee early hours.

Let’s Do the Time Warp Again

During intermission I was talking to a guy about my age standing in our row at the Wyly – he was standing because the saxophone player was sitting in his seat and refusing to budge until the second act started and I was standing to be polite to him. We were wondering about when The Rocky Horror Show premiered in London – we guessed 1974, and were off by a year (it was born in 1973). The more well-known movie The Rocky Horror Picture Show was made in 1975.

The film famously (and truth be told, deservedly) bombed at the box office upon it initial, conventional release. I saw it about a year later, late ’76 or early ’77, at a special showing at college. It hadn’t hit its big, cult status yet – but it was on the cusp and there was a lot of buzz about it. I barely remember seeing it for the first time – the projection was bad and the sound was worse – it didn’t make much of an impression.

That changed soon enough. I was the right age to fall into the habit of going to midnight movie showings and saw The Rocky Horror Picture Show maybe fifty times. It began to be a habit, like watching the six o’clock news after work.

Then, in the early eighties, I saw a stage production here in Dallas in the West End. That production was specifically designed to mirror the movie as much as possible. It was in a small theater and for one show I was able to get front-row seats (I saw it twice). Dr. Frankenfurter sat in my lap and sang a song – I remember his leather jacket reeked.

The live play was a blast – especially in a small venue. We actually were able to go to a bar with the cast afterward.

I’ve always said that live is the way to see it.

So a while back I was excited to see that the Dallas Theater Center was doing a production of The Rocky Horror Show at the Wyly – and we bought tickets for tonight.

Wow, what a lot of fun!

One nice thing was that they weren’t afraid to stray from the familiar film tropes. Rocky, for example had dark hair. The actor playing Dr. Frankenfurter had the good sense to not channel Tim Curry’s iconic performance and to make the good doctor his own. He was kind of a Texas Frankenfurter… maybe a little, maybe – a bit different at any rate. But really, really good.

The show was not afraid to be quite a bit raunchier that the film. For example (I’ll try to avoid overt spoilers) there is one quick scene involving the Doctor, Brad Majors, a hand-powered egg beater, and the line, “Well, we just lost the Baptists.”

The best thing about the show was the pure action – especially of the first act. There is so much going on – the music is underrated and comes across powerfully live – with dancing, costumes, lights, and rolls of toilet paper being flung from the crowd through the flashing lights like a shower of tissue comets. At the intermission a woman sitting next to me stumbled around a little dizzy, “Oh, I’m having a fangirl moment,” she said.

The Wyly is a perfect venue for this – the flexible space was arranged so that there was no clear demarcation between audience and stage – the performers spent most of their time in the crowd and more than a few spectators ended up dancing with the stars.

Dallas Theater Center Wyly Theater Dallas, Texas

Dallas Theater Center
Wyly Theater
Dallas, Texas

So if you find yourself in Dallas in late September through mid October, see if you can get down to the Wyly for some slightly guilty fun. And if you are a devout Baptist… well, good luck with all that.

Rhythm and Beards

One of the best things about bumming around the city – visiting what you can – especially things like brewery tours and such – is the great local music that you can discover.

At the Cobra Brewing Company event in Lewisville I was able to check out Rhythm and Beards – a great rockin’ bunch. Now I want to see them again.

Rhythm and Beards  (click to enlarge)

Rhythm and Beards
(click to enlarge)

Rhythm and Beards  (click to enlarge)

Rhythm and Beards
(click to enlarge)

Rhythm and Beards  (click to enlarge)

Rhythm and Beards
(click to enlarge)