business, music

Where the hell has Marc Broussard been all my life?

I love it when I make random musical discoveries. It often happens when I’m watching TV, although lately I’ve been watching more YouTube than network TV or Netflix. Sometimes it happens when I’m out and about. For instance, I came home from our recent cruise with new music, having heard it piped in on the ship. I’ve found the best places for finding great music are in Irish pubs or Scottish whisky bars!

I honestly don’t know how I ended up with Marc Broussard’s music in my library. Last night, while I was sitting at the table talking to Bill and drinking beer, one of his songs randomly played on my HomePod. I was immediately attracted to it, so I tried to look up who was singing. I ended up having to use Shazam, because the song that was playing was listed as Track some and such, which means it was probably on a CD or something, and not one that came from a major distributor. I usually try to add the information when I import CDs that don’t automatically have the music info listed. I guess I neglected to do that during my recent music migration.

I liked Marc’s soulful chops enough to automatically download his album without knowing anything about it other than the song that was playing on my HomePod was on it. His voice is like a hybrid of Stevie Wonder, Cas Haley, and Paul Carrack. It’s very soulful and kind of funky, and pretty damned awesome! The music he does is like a blend of funk, old school R&B, pop, and Southern accents. It’s obvious he was influenced a lot by Marvin Gaye, Al Green, Otis Redding, and Stevie Wonder, at least on S.O.S. Save Our Soul, the album I’m listening to now.

One thing I don’t like about S.O.S. Save Our Soul (2007), is the way the songs are faded out at the end. Marc is still singing soulfully as the volume is gradually turned down. I don’t know who decided that was a good thing to do, but it’s the one thing about the album that I don’t like at all. This man has some chops, and his songs deserve better transitioning than that. Maybe they did it so they could fit more music on the CD. But just on the strength of this album, I’ve downloaded a couple more! And no, I didn’t even listen to any samples!

Dayum!
This gives me the vapors!

So I did a Google search this morning to find out more about this man. I discovered he was born in Carencro, Louisiana on January 14, 1982. He’s also on tour, and due to visit Germany very soon. Tickets for his shows are also very reasonably priced.

As I sit here listening to Marc Broussard’s voice, I’m having a random memory about how I used to acquire music. When I was very young, I would save up my money until I had about $10, then walk by myself down Business Route 17 in Gloucester, Virginia and visit the music section of Murphy’s Mart. The very first record I bought was Crimes of Passion by Pat Benatar (1980). It was on vinyl. I bought vinyl albums until I got a Walkman, then I bought cassettes… then CDs. I remember how music used to eat up a lot of my disposable income, and I’d have to hem and haw over what I wanted in my collection. I couldn’t afford much. I remember my CD collection was once my most prized possession.

Nowadays, it’s not uncommon for me to buy a bunch of albums from a single artist in one sitting, just because I like one song! I’ll buy a lot of stuff without even listening to it first, often while drinking. Many times, I end up loving what I get. Only once in a blue moon do I wind up with something I don’t enjoy.

I have really eclectic tastes when it comes to music. I just like what I like, and I like a LOT of stuff. But… I have found that I don’t like a lot of really popular stuff anymore. For instance, you’ll never catch me at a Taylor Swift concert. It’s not that I don’t think she’s talented. She is. It takes a lot of talent to do what she does, which is create a sound that appeals to the masses. I have heard a few songs by her that I genuinely enjoy. But I don’t find her music very inspiring or interesting. The funny thing is, she actually played at my alma mater, Longwood University, back around 2007 or so. People who were at Longwood at that time have posted photos they took with Taylor, who was reportedly very friendly and approachable. Who knew that 15 plus years later, she’d get people so excited that they’d be willing to spend $1000 on a ticket and dance so hard the vibrations show up on the Richter scale?

Taylor Swift was reportedly named after James Taylor, who IS one of my favorite singers, EVER. I saw him perform in November and had second row seats, which was very exciting for me. But I think I paid about $200 for TWO tickets. I got them through a fan sale and didn’t even select the seats. They were assigned to me. I couldn’t have been more pleased. What was especially exciting was that James was signing stuff and interacting with the crowd, who were enchanted by his performance. The show was so good, I came home and downloaded a bunch of albums by James’s backup singers! I already own multiple copies of James Taylor’s official catalog, as well as a bunch of rare and bootleg stuff he’s done since the late 60s.

I think I have just one Taylor Swift song in my vast music collection, although maybe I should explore her music more. People do love her. I don’t think I’d want to go to one of her shows, though, even if someone gave me free tickets. I think it would be too crowded and chaotic, and there would be way too many people freaking out… and taking selfies.

Isn’t it interesting how, when you’re a kid, you tend to like whatever’s popular. As you get older, you stop liking that stuff. Both of my parents were musicians. My dad was a singer. My mom was a professional church organist. They both loved music (Mom still does… she’s still living). My dad didn’t like pop music at all beyond the early 70s. He said rock music made him “nervous”. My mom had a higher tolerance for popular music. But they both liked to listen to “easy listening” stuff. My dad even preferred Muzak, which makes me nervous! And yet, I have some stuff in my library now that could be considered Muzak.

I like Phil Coulter’s music, but a couple of his albums that I downloaded without listening first are legit Muzak albums. Those are among the few “duds” in my collection. And yet, he also did this…

I downloaded this song off of Napster in 2000 or so… and the first time I heard it, in church at a “kirkin’ of the tartans”, I knew it would be my wedding march someday (and it was– a piper and organist played it).

Phil Coulter’s Highland Cathedral album is awesome, as is Legends, which he did with flautist James Galway. It’s not like Muzak at all.

Phil Coulter and James Galway are great together.

My dad, by the way, became a Phil Coulter fan when he heard me play his Highland Cathedral album. I don’t know if he ever heard Coulter’s most Muzak like offerings, though. He probably would have loved those albums. I can’t stand to listen to them.

I do think it’s funny that the record companies were so afraid that downloads were going to destroy the music industry. I find that I buy so much more music now than I used to. And since they are not physical copies, the record companies probably have more power than they ever did when they were selling actual tangible products. Now, there’s a lot of pressure to subscribe to streaming services, so they can spoon feed you music curated by their “experts”. I want no part of that. I am already the expert of what I like. I like to find music on my own, and curate my own playlists. And I love it when I discover people like Marc Broussard, who obviously has a following, but isn’t super famous like Taylor Swift is.

Anyway… I just wanted to share something positive on this Monday. I’m glad to “meet” Marc Broussard. He may not be as world famous as some artists are, but that man can SING! And I’m proud to support his career by “drunken downloading” some of his albums. I’ll probably wind up with his whole catalog.

Here’s one more Marc Broussard song before I go, since I digressed a bit…

This is a nice way to start the week! Wish I’d joined a band when I was younger.

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business, complaints, first world problems, music, YouTube

We solved one problem; now we have another…

Yesterday was relatively uneventful, compared to Monday, July 10th. Relatively, I say… which means that we did have a couple of issues come up. But, at least I didn’t feel like drinking at 2 PM like I did a week ago.

Bill got home a little bit early last night and finally changed out the battery in my car. So now, if I want to, I can drive it somewhere. But it needs to be serviced, first, as it’s been awhile since it last saw a mechanic. The Mini might also need new tires, because it’s been sitting in a garage for a long time and there might be some dry rot that makes the tires unsafe. The car will now start, though, which is the first step in driving it somewhere. So that’s one problem solved. Now, I’ve got another one that needs to be fixed.

Here’s what happened. It’s an issue that recurs seemingly every quarter or so. On the 15th of every month, my premium savings account at PenFed gets dividends. They offer good rates on that account, so it’s usually kind of exciting to see what the amount of the dividend is. I have deposited a tidy sized nest egg there, and every month, I add more to it.

Well… like most financial institutions these days, PenFed requires everyone to use two factor authentication. I hate it, because it’s inconvenient and annoying, especially since PenFed won’t allow me to get the access codes by email. I have to either get a text message or a voicemail on my phone. This wouldn’t be a problem, except for some reason, PenFed doesn’t seem to want to send texts or do robocalls to international phone numbers.

Yesterday, when I tried to log into my account via the Web site, I couldn’t get the access code. When I went to my account on PenFed, I could see that the country code for my (correct) phone number was set to 01, which is the country code for the United States. I live in Germany, so the code must be set to 49 in order for the call or text to go through. When I tried to update the country code myself, PenFed wouldn’t allow it because, the computer said, it “didn’t match the information in their records”.

This has happened before. I suspect that when PenFed’s computer system does its updates, things like country codes for international phone numbers get caught up in a glitch. I end up having to call them late in the afternoon, when I’d much rather be chilling on my patio drinking beer or eating dinner. Moreover, I have repeatedly had this issue corrected before, yet PenFed’s system still repeatedly claims my country code should be set to the U.S. code of 01, instead of the German code of 49. I’ve been in Germany for nine years so far!

I hate calling them. I also hate calling USAA, which is (sadly) my other bank. Most of my hatred of calling them comes from detesting being kept on hold and listening to their godawful hold music from hell, and dealing with people who are incompetent. I would much rather do this stuff over email or even chat. At least if I’m chatting, I can listen to my own fucking music.

This is about how I feel about calling…

So I sent PenFed an email yesterday. Hours later, I got a response asking me for my phone number. I sent it, and then got another response, probably from another person, that I had to call them to authenticate the number. SIGH…

I called PenFed and after waiting several minutes in the phone queue, got some slow talking guy who, I quickly discovered, wasn’t a very good listener, nor did he have critical thinking skills. I explained to the guy that I needed to “update” my phone number. I suppose that was the wrong word to use. What I meant to say is that they needed to update the country code, which is part of the number that must be included if one is calling from another country.

It soon became clear that the man I was talking to didn’t have much experience calling other countries. He didn’t seem to understand what a country code is. Then he told me that I’d need to send them a copy of a bill to prove that the number I was updating was correct. SIGH…

I said, “No…. you have the right phone number. I just need the country code updated.”

He reiterated that I needed to send them a bill, which I don’t even have, because Bill handles that automatically. So I asked him if there was someone more senior I could speak to. He said they were all busy, but he’d have someone call me back. I laughed at that and said, “But if someone calls me, they will have to have the correct COUNTRY CODE, right?” So I gave him my number– the same one in my records– and reiterated the right country code, which if they would just update it in my account, would negate the need for ANYONE to have to call me to solve this problem!

I waited for over an hour for the phone call, which never came. So I sent another email, explaining again the issue, and asking why I can’t simply get the access codes via email. My husband is also a member of PenFed, and he’s able to get emailed codes instead of texts. Someone named Jessica wrote back and we had an email exchange. She explained that when she called, she got a busy signal. I ended up having to explain to her how to make an international phone call from the USA, not that she ever did call me. She wrote that updated everything in my account… but now, when I try to log in, I get the following message…

I tried to send this screenshot to Jessica, but PenFed’s system blocked it. I was instructed to upload the screenshot from their “secure portal”. But, in order to do that, I have to log in… and well, as you can see, I can’t do that. I CAN, however, get on the site using their app, which doesn’t require two factor authentication for access. Go figure.

After awhile, Jessica quit responding to me, anyway. Just before I went to sleep, I got a message from someone named Alec, who suggested the issue is on my end somehow. I guess I’ll call back this afternoon and try to stay calm, as I convince someone to get someone from the IT department to fix this issue… yet again.

I have ranted before about both PenFed and USAA. The truth is, I’d really like to ditch both banks, even though I’ve been a customer of both for about 30 years or so. I’ve noticed a steep decline in their services over the past few years. But, when you live in Europe on SOFA status, it can be difficult to arrange a European bank without potentially causing problems locally with the government. We aren’t regular residents here, and we don’t want to appear like we’re becoming regular residents, because that can affect our ability to stay here legally, which could affect Bill’s job. Getting a local bank account can arouse suspicions.

Besides, we do plan to go back to the States eventually. Yes, we dream about staying in Europe forever, but I don’t know how feasible that plan is. So, at this point, we do plan to come back someday… and since we plan to come back, it’s good to have an American bank. A lot of them would rather not deal with overseas customers, though. USAA and PenFed are institutions that historically deal with military and government employees. They used to be pretty good with handling the issues that arise from here. That’s not so true anymore.

I sure wish PenFed would, at least, build a better Web site that functions properly. I have been hating on USAA a bit lately, but at least their Web site works properly. And they have a chat function that actually works with live human beings, instead of just an AI system that just sends me to articles that aren’t at all useful to the situations I usually find myself in when I need help. Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes USAA’s chat function sucks, too. But I have, on occasion, gotten it to work well enough to solve my issue without having to call them.

Oh well. At least the Mini will start. Maybe it’s time we took a joy ride with the top down… the car’s, not mine. Fortunately, I don’t need to access the money I have sitting in PenFed right now. Thank God for small favors.

One positive thing I did yesterday was record another song. Quite fittingly, it’s a blues number. I learned it in about an hour. I don’t think it’s half bad, even though the camera doesn’t love me. 😉

Now you can see why Bill loves me… 😉 (someone actually said something akin to that to Bill when he heard me sing… lovely, huh?)

Happy update… I called PenFed again just now and got someone much more competent on the line. She got the block off my account and my phone number entered again. AND… she also helped me set up another money market account at a very nice rate. So bravo to the very helpful lady at PenFed this morning! With any luck, I’ll be seeing the new product in my account very soon.

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blog news, book reviews, business

Why reposts can really pay off handsomely…

Reposts can really pay off handsomely… I know this to be true. I’m sure some readers wonder why I recycle content. In fact, I’m reminded of Sting, one of my favorite musicians, who is quite adept at the rehash. Listen to his songs– often, you’ll find snippets of older songs within them. Sometimes, he reuses lyrics from another song, or maybe a riff. He’s also been known to completely redo his songs, even bonafide hits like “Don’t Stand So Close to Me.”

“Don’t Stand So Close to Me” circa 1981…
Rehashed and revamped in 1986…
And yet another revamp… totally different.

It can be a good idea to revamp and rehash. Yesterday, I was reminded why, as I looked at my Amazon.com SiteStripe, not expecting any surprises. I have been an Amazon Associate since 2004. After all of those years, I don’t think I’ve so much as made $200 in commissions. I tend to get $10 payments every few months. My purpose in blogging isn’t to sell things, so it doesn’t bother me that I don’t make much money. However, it is nice when making money happens.

Lately, I’ve written more fresh book reviews. However, since I moved my blog from Blogger to WordPress, I’ve been reposting old stuff. Old book reviews are very interesting to some people. Lately many people are hitting my review of Going My Own Way, a 1983 book written by Bing Crosby’s son, Gary. Some have also read my reviews of Debby Boone’s 1981 memoir, So Far, and Debby’s sister Cherry’s book, Starving for Attention.

The biggest surprise, though, was revealed yesterday. Within the past couple of days, someone visited my review of Dian Hanson’s 2011 book, The Big Book of Pussy. The person who visited used my Amazon.com link to purchase a copy of the book. Provided they keep the book (and I’m not holding my breath), I’ll get a $22 commission in March. That’s pretty cool!

I bought The Big Book of Pussy completely whimsically about ten years ago. It’s one of a trio of books I own by Hanson. I first noticed Hanson’s 3D photography book, The Big Book of Breasts, in 2009. It was when we lived in Germany the first time, and I was on a day trip to Munich. I was walking past a bookstore when I noticed Hanson’s book in the window. When I moved back to the States, I ordered it from Amazon.

This book isn’t as scandalous as it seems…

Amazon was doing its usual “suggestive selling”, and they also recommended The Big Book of Pussy and The Big Butt Book. Since I was ordering anyway, I decided to get those books, too. Then, I reviewed all three of them for the now defunct product review site, Epinions.com. Hanson also wrote books about legs and penises, but I decided not to order those. When we moved back to Germany in 2014, I left most of my books in storage. Dian Hanson’s books are big coffee table affairs, and we had limited funds for shipping our household items. Three big books that I don’t look at often would have taken up valuable space and weight.

At some point, Hanson’s artsy body part books went out of print, even though people are clearly still interested in them. I see that reasonably priced and sized “little” versions are available of her books, but not the big ones like I own. Now, I kind of wish I’d brought them with me, because there’s obviously a market for them. In fact, sometimes I catch myself missing other items I have in storage. I wish we had our curio/china cabinet, for instance. I also wish I had my karaoke disc collection, my photo albums, and my mom’s piano. Of course, mom’s piano is extremely heavy, and I don’t play well at all. But I could learn!

I know that sooner or later, we’ll eventually reunite with the rest of our belongings. I just don’t know when that will be. Right now, Bill wants to buy a house in Europe somewhere and settle here. If we do that, it will mean going to the States temporarily to settle our affairs. If we don’t, we’ll just move back home somewhere.

I do appreciate it when people make purchases through my Amazon links. I don’t expect people to do that, but it’s really nice when it happens. It’s a great feeling when someone finds one of my posts useful, especially when it’s a review. I wanted to share this news on Facebook but, given the recently draconian bot discipline over there, I thought better of it. I’m afraid someone might report me for being too “suggestive” when I crow about selling a rare copy of The Big Book of Pussy. Story of my life… I can’t be completely transparent to most people about exactly where I met Bill, either. 😉

Anyway, if you’ve made a purchase through my blog, thank you very much. Especially if you’re the one who bought Hanson’s rare book, which is going for a lot more than I think it’s worth. I hope the book turns out to be all you hope it will be! And if it doesn’t, and you return the book, I’ll understand. Still, I’ve definitely learned that reposts can pay off handsomely. Oh… and sex sells!

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business, religion

Sometimes Ex leads me to some interesting rabbit holes…

Happy hump day, everybody. Like a lot of people, I was shocked to hear about Christine McVie’s death last night. Guess who alerted me? It was none other than Stephen Bishop, whose book I reviewed yesterday. He left a comment on Christine McVie’s Facebook page, where it was announced that she passed away in a hospital after a “short illness”. She was 79 years old. Although her music has meant a lot to me over the years, I’m not going to dedicate this post to her passing. I did write a brief post on my Dungeon of the Past blog. Since we also lost Irene Cara a few days ago, that blog is getting some unusual attention lately, although not that many people read it these days. I’m waiting to hit $100 in AdSense, and then I’ll probably discontinue it. But it is a handy place to express my thoughts and prayers for musicians who made the years of my youth worth enduring.

Last night, before I read about Christine McVie, I was perusing the latest Ex nonsense. I noticed that she had made an intriguing comment.

I have no words for how repulsed I am at the thought of attending such a scary and surreal event. Of course… we could crash it…

I noticed that someone had responded, so I clicked the link, and there I found a most interesting post by some stranger from Birmingham, Alabama. Behold:

The person who post this wrote “It’s a coffee shop in my city that is owned by a cult.”

Well… given my love for investigating cults, this post interested me, so I went looking for more information, and I was led to this article written by journalist Greg Garrison on AL.com. There, I learned about a man named Terry Colafrancesco who has opened a “different” kind of business in Alabama called Villaggio Colafrancesco. Mr. Colafrancesco, who is an Alabama born Italian Catholic, was inspired by a visit to Italy 25 years ago, where he noticed people standing in line for gelato on a cold, November night. Colafrancesco is an entrepreneur, but he also happens to be super religious. His business, which sells all manner of Italian style treats from gelato to coffee to charcuterie, is operated as a tax paying enterprise. But he also runs a non-profit religious community called Caritas. Most of the people who work at Villagio Colafrancesco are members of the community. Colafrancesco will be directing all profits after taxes toward the Caritas ministry that he founded in the 1980s.

According to the AL.com article I linked:

In 1988, Colafrancesco hosted one of the six famous visionaries of Medjugorje, who claimed to have daily visions of the Virgin Mary in their hometown in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the former Yugoslavia starting in 1981. Marija Pavlovic Lunetti came to UAB Hospital to donate a kidney for her brother, Andrija Pavlovic. She stayed with Colafrancesco and continued to have her visions of the Virgin Mary in a field in Shelby County. She has returned to Caritas to visit dozens of times.

The field where she had her visions in Shelby County became the focal point of the 250-acre world headquarters of Caritas, which still takes tour groups to Medjugorje and promotes the visions on its web site, Mej.com. It has a printing press and publishes Colafrancesco’s commentaries on the visions under his pen name, “A Friend of Medjugorje.” Hundreds of thousands of the books have been distributed worldwide.

The Medjugorje visions have never been endorsed or authenticated by the Catholic Church, which has approved other reported apparitions of the Virgin Mary such as the ones in 1858 in Lourdes, France, and in 1917 in Fatima, Portugal.

So yes, this Italian treat paradise is very much a business, but it’s also influenced by religion. So patrons are required to be dressed “appropriately” and leave their electronic devices at home. Profanity is not allowed. People are supposed to hang out and talk to each other, rather than hanging out on their phones. Ex is apparently disgusted by this.

Now, I’ll be honest… I initially laughed when I read about these rules, because I have been to Italy a bunch of times, and I’ve never seen an establishment there that bans cell phones, skimpy clothing, or profanity. And while I don’t wear skimpy clothes anymore, and never purposely did when I was younger, I do have a strong tendency to curse. I also love to look at my phone. However, having grown up at a time when cell phones and Internet trolls didn’t exist, I do sometimes feel pangs of nostalgia for that time. Maybe this happens to everyone as they age, but once you get to a certain age, you look less favorably on “progress” and start remembering the “good old days”. So there’s a certain charm in the idea of visiting a place where patrons are required to put their electronic devices away.

BUT– while I do try to maintain basic respect for people and their religious beliefs, I don’t think I’d want to patronize a commercial business with an obvious religious agenda. Obviously, I don’t mind visiting churches or even spending money in them in the form of donations. I will, for instance, give spare change to the cathedrals when I visit them in Europe. But I’ve seen the damage that organized religions can do to many people, and I’ve also seen how cults can complicate people’s lives.

I also don’t think I’d feel comfortable at a place where workers are “dress coding” people. I can, however, see why some people love the idea of such a place, especially in Alabama, where there are a lot of “conservative” types. On the other hand, I’d be interested in seeing how many native Alabamians know what is, and what is not, authentic in Italy.

As Mr. Colafrancesco is operating a private business, he has the right to run it as he sees fit. And I would imagine people in Alabama will fully support that right. It’ll be interesting to see if this idea takes off. Some people don’t mind dress codes. Planet Fitness famously has a dress code to keep less fit people from feeling intimidated and uncomfortable by more fit people showing off. However, that chain has run into problems, as they have confronted people about their dress who didn’t feel they were shaming anybody. And my guess is that there could be trouble when someone outspoken and influential gets kicked out of Villagio Colafrancesco for wearing a halter top and leggings or something.

In looking at Mr. Colafrancesco’s blog, I see that he is no fan of “college”. In fact, he literally writes that in the section about his story. And while Colafrancesco is a very successful and apparently self made man, I can see that not going to college left him with a bit of a vocabulary deficiency. He writes that long hours and hard work had paid off, so that by the time he was in his mid 20s, he and his wife were living “financially comfortable”. He bought several “tracks” of land and “never had a mortgage or debt”. I think Mr. Colafrancesco means “tracts” of land, and a mortgage is, in and of itself, debt. It’s not that I don’t understands what he means, of course, and obviously he didn’t need college to succeed. Not everyone needs higher education to “make it”, and some people don’t “make it” even with fancy degrees. It’s just that as religion is important to him, proper grammar is important to me. 😉

In any case, more power and big props to Mr. Colafrancesco for “doing it his way”. I just wouldn’t necessarily assume that everyone can do what he’s done, or hold him up as an example of someone to emulate. Especially since it’s pretty clear to me that he’s politically conservative and probably would vote for Trump, in spite of his stated conservative values. Trump is a big fan of the skimpily clad, and he doesn’t mind swearing like a sailor as he hangs out on social media and talks about overthrowing the government. Edited to add: I see I was right. Colafrancesco is a Trump supporter. How can a man who self-righteously bars profanity and skimpy clothing in his establishment champion a man who grabs women by their pussies? What a hypocrite! Sorry, I just can’t respect someone who preaches about decency and supports Donald Trump.

Moreover, there is some belief that Mr. Colafrancesco’s group is a destructive cult. I don’t yet know enough about Caritas to state whether or not it’s a cult. I just learned the first about it last night, thanks to Ex. According to the above link, which dates from December 13, 2001:

Five former residents of Caritas of Birmingham have filed suit in state court seeking an unspecified amount of money from the group and its founder, Terry Colafrancesco.

The suit claims Colafrancesco lures people into Caritas with promises of spiritual enrichment and then drains them of money. Families are made to live in nasty trailers at the group’s compound, and Colafrancesco controls their lives almost totally, the suit claims.

The plaintiffs include a one-time lieutenant to Colafrancesco and five parents who sued on behalf of their children, who still live at the mission located about 30 minutes south of Birmingham.

The suit claims Caritas has assets of about $5.9 million. Colafrancesco “said he was knighted by Mary the mother of Jesus,” the suit says.

“It’s just bitterness,” Colafrancesco said Tuesday.

A 2012 Reuters article indicates that the lawsuit was later settled privately.

Anyway… I guess people have the right to decide if they want to buy coffee at a place where they aren’t allowed to curse, wear spaghetti straps, or look at their phones. I’m sure some people will think Villagio Colafrancesco is a very nice and inviting place for a treat. No matter what, this venture is sure to bring in money, press, and controversy… although it’s pretty rich that Ex is “repulsed” by it. This is the same woman who joined the LDS church and used it as one of her parental alienation tools. And when it turned out they weren’t going to give her what she wanted and expected things from her, like money and time, she suddenly decided it was “bad”. I’m sure the fact that church members helped younger daughter escape her clutches also contributed to her changed mindset about religion and politics. It sure is interesting and entertaining to watch.

But… it seems that Ex is pining to ditch America, too… Behold.

I’m a poor white girl. I have no power. I am a mother raising her kids and if Trump were to EVER hold office again… I’m leaving this country and won’t be looking back. He’s worse than a horror movie to me and I cannot fathom how ANYONE would vote for that scum of the earth.

Yeah… says the woman who causes multiple people to experience PTSD style nightmares due to her abuses of them. Just shaking my head and hoping she avoids Germany…

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advertising, business, fashion, music, nostalgia

I used to think Victoria’s Secret was “luxury”…

This morning, I woke up to an article in The New York Times about Victoria’s Secret, that famous underwear purveyor that once beguiled me in every mall I ever visited. The article, which I’ve linked and unlocked, was about how Victoria’s Secret is trying to “rebrand” due to rapidly declining sales and a diminished reputation. A new documentary called Victoria’s Secret: Angels and Demons has come out on Hulu. I haven’t seen it, because I’m not currently subscribed to Hulu, and would have to use a VPN to see it, anyway. The documentary consists of three parts, and is all about how Leslie Wexner took a brand that was originally a small chain in California and turned it into a huge business run by men objectifying women.

I haven’t shopped at Victoria’s Secret in over twenty years. There are a few reasons for that. For one thing, I’m too old and fat to wear their lingerie. For another, it’s been many years since I last thought of anything at Victoria’s Secret as worth buying. Back in the early 90s, it was kind of a cool place to shop, with dark, mysterious boudoir inspired interiors. Everything was in drawers, as if I was going to my own dresser. They sold lovely perfumes and soaps, silk and satin underwear, terry cloth robes, and really comfortable sleep shirts with cool patterns and in bright colors. I used to LOVE their sleep shirts, which were long sleeved, with a breast pocket, and satin edging around the collar. I never bought a Victoria’s Secret bra, because they all had underwires, and I hate underwires. Plus, my boobs were just too big.

Jax is awesome!

Then, as the 90s progressed, the store’s interiors brightened up, and the merchandise became crap. A lot of what they sold was not only poorly constructed and overpriced; it was also really ugly. And then I got way too old for their demographic, which seemed to target younger and younger girls. Like a lot of people, I was both amazed and horrified last month when the Tik Tok singer-songwriter, Jax, put out a song she made for a pre-teen girl she babysits named Chelsea. Chelsea had gone to Victoria’s Secret to buy a bathing suit for a pool party, and a “friend” told her the suit made her look too “fat and flat”. So Jax made a song called “Victoria’s Secret”, which went viral.

Wow.

I have to say, I think Jax is a super talented songwriter. I don’t really care for the autotuned sound, or super plugged instruments, but there’s no doubt she has major writing chops. I just listened to another song she did last year, and it actually made me really emotional, even though it’s very modern pop and I usually hate that style. What can I say? I’m old, and I like to hear real voices. But I just listened to the below song, and it legitimately made me cry. My husband is just like the man she’s singing about; we actually have that relationship. I think Jax is going to have a big career. And yes, now I see that she was on American Idol, but I’ve never watched that show in my life, and couldn’t now, even if I wanted to. Sheesh, now I feel like I’ve been hopelessly out of touch with current events.

This is so sweet. I bet it becomes a wedding staple.

I think another reason I was turned off of Victoria’s Secret years ago was because Tyra Banks made a name for herself with that brand. I used to watch Tyra on America’s Next Top Model, a show with which I had a love/hate relationship, much like I did for 7th Heaven. Tyra used to talk about how her voluptuous figure was welcomed by Victoria’s Secret, and yet I read many comments on The New York Times article about how limited the sizing has been since I quit shopping there in the 90s. I guess it got really bad. I have never been particularly thin, but when I was a young woman, I could easily buy stuff at Victoria’s Secret. They must have sort of quietly phased the more inclusive sizes out, only to bring them back now in a bid to save their brand. Although I watched Tyra’s antics on ANTM, it wasn’t because I liked or admired her. I just found her to be a narcissistic trainwreck. I liked ANTM for Paulina Porizkova, Andre Leon Talley, Jay Manuel, and most of all, Miss Jay (J. Alexander). And I enjoyed watching the contestants, some of whom had very compelling stories. Renee Alway, anyone?

Tyra, back in the day.
Hoochie? The music reminds me of porn.

Did normal, regular people actually wear the stuff Tyra was modeling? I don’t know. I remember when I was in my late teens and early 20s, they had polyester string underwear with bright colors and juicy patterns, but they also had plain silk bikinis that I really liked and wore all the time. I see the above video, especially toward the end, Tyra wasn’t super skinny. But it sounds like the brand eventually became less size inclusive, to the point at which anyone who wasn’t super small couldn’t wear their stuff. And even those who could wear it, didn’t get to wear it for long, because it would fall apart. Then Jeffrey Epstein was in the news, and it turned out that Leslie Wexner was buddies with Epstein. He ended up stepping down from his post as chairman and chief executive of Victoria’s Secret, probably because not only is he ancient, but because the brand was liable to be canceled… On the other hand, Donald Trump also hung out with Epstein, and he hasn’t been canceled yet. So I don’t know.

I used to have a Victoria’s Secret sleep shirt that looked just like this. They had lots of stuff in bright colors, with seemingly luxurious fabrics. (eBay listing)

I remember even before I shopped at Victoria’s Secret, they had a mail order catalog that had really beautiful stuff in it. There were velvet “pyjamas” (spelled with a y, Brit style), lovely lace nightgowns, even fashionable sportswear separates that were classy, elegant, and tasteful. A former friend of mine’s middle aged mother (at the time) used to get the catalog and I would look at it, amazed by what they were selling. It really did give off the appearance of being a British company with a posh London address, but the truth is, Victoria’s Secret has always been all American. It was originally founded in Palo Alto, California, by Roy and Gaye Raymond, who expanded the brand to five stores before they sold it to Leslie Wexner in 1982. Wexner moved the company’s headquarters to Reynoldsburg, Ohio, where it remains today. So much for London, eh?

Ah well… like anything else, Victoria’s Secret was based on a mythical image that never existed and was pushed by men looking to make money and objectify women. And a lot of people bought into it. I know I did, when I was a lot younger, but in those days, it was not as trashy as it is now. I’m obviously not the only one who thinks so, either— this link goes to another blog post that actually shows the kinds of stuff they sold, back in the day. It was much nicer and classier; some of it would be great to wear even today!

An ad that currently appears on Victoria’s Secret’s Web site. Hmm…

It’s been years since I last went to an American mall, but I remember even when I did that regularly, being totally turned off by how Victoria’s Secret had changed. Gone was the mystery and elegance of the early 90s, and it was replaced by gaudy, sleazy, poorly made junk. And now, it appears that it’s being marketed more to young girls who don’t yet have boobs, if I am to go by Jax’s video. It sounds like the bean counters have finally wised up– maybe a little too late– and realized that bigger women have a lot more money than most prepubescent girls have, and there are a lot more of us looking to buy lingerie than there are skinny modelesque women. Those women probably wouldn’t want to shop at Victoria’s Secret anyway. So now they’re more size inclusive, but a lot of what I’ve seen isn’t appealing at all.

I’m happy with my cotton Jockey underwear, that I usually order from Amazon. My husband doesn’t mind, because he’s not a shallow fuck like this guy who commented on The New York Times’ article.

the whole reason. We men buy lingerie for our partner; the marketing is to look good for the man.. and definitely those fatties are not our standard of beauty (I’ll bet this guy is a pro-birther, too)

I’m gonna get cooch stains on the underwear, anyway, right? Might as well get some that are practical.

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