celebrities, music, politics

Poor Leland Sklar…

This morning, I’ve just watched Lee’s latest video. Yesterday, he posted about Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death. I haven’t had the chance to watch that video yet, but apparently, he got some really shitty comments from people who have basically told him to shut up and play music. I turned on his RBG video now, so I’m listening as I write this. Bill and I have a lunch date for later and I got up late, so I’m kind of rushing to get stuff done.

He really seems hurt.

Ever since the pandemic started, Leland Sklar, who is a world class bass guitar player, has been making videos on YouTube. He sometimes posts two or three videos a day, sharing music and awesome stories. I have discovered new music through him and thoroughly enjoyed his stories of meeting fans on the road, playing with some of my favorite musicians like James Taylor and Carole King, and seeing his adorable basset hounds. Sometimes he shows his dogs playing and howling and Arran will join in.

Really… most of this is just beautiful music. I really don’t think Leland Sklar said anything that earth shattering, but he sure got his share of shit for daring to memorialize a beloved liberal icon who did her damnedest to stay alive until November. She was a champion for women and minorities.

So… I have just finished listening to Lee’s tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the one that has shitty comments calling him a liberal who lives in a “bubble” in Los Angeles. He also said someone sent him a private message that was nasty. You know what Lee’s video for RBG mostly consisted of? Well, about 80% of it consisted solely of a beautiful and well-known piano piece by Claude Debussy, the majestic “Clair de Lune”, which I first heard when I was an undergraduate at what was then known as Longwood College. A music major friend who was focusing on voice and piano played it for me in one of the practice rooms. I have lost touch with the friend, but she gave me a lifelong gift when she introduced that piece to me when I was 19 years old.

I already had “Clair de Lune” on my computer, but Leland’s post inspired me to buy another album with more of Debussy’s elegant music. So, I guess he gave me a gift, and he prompted me to gift iTunes with a sale… and perhaps the artists who played that beautiful music for the recording. How is it that I could leave that tribute feeling gratified and moved, but other people were only prompted to post hateful comments?

I have occasionally gotten nasty comments myself on things I’ve written, mostly on the old blog, where I didn’t moderate comments before they could be posted. Here, I get far fewer, which is a nice thing. Not only do I moderate, but I set this blog so that Google is “discouraged” to index it. It just isn’t worth my time or sanity to deal with trolls. I can only imagine what it must be like for someone like Lee, who has millions of fans around the world. There are some truly fucked up people out there.

What really struck me about Leland’s response video, the first one in this post, is how hurt he sounds as he addresses the “haters”. He strikes me as such a kind and sensitive soul. I have never met Lee, but watching his videos make me feel like I know him somewhat. He shares so much of himself daily, and puts himself out there for anyone who’s interested. And people feel like they can say anything they want to him, emboldened by the fact that he’s a well-known musician and they are anonymous “nobodies” behind a computer screen. Of course, no one is really a “nobody”. Everyone knows someone, and if you’re known by someone, that means you exist and have some level of importance to someone. But I think sometimes people forget that there are real people behind the screen… and maybe you think you know them because you can see and hear them. But you really don’t know them as much as you might think you do…

I think writers and musicians attract a lot of people who think they really know them and what’s in their hearts. I’ve had people assume things about me, and sometimes people project a tone to my words that maybe I don’t really feel. Like, if you heard me speaking rather than just read my words, you might come away with a different idea of what I mean.

Leland Sklar is a liberal musician who lives in Los Angeles. Many people think they know what it means to be a liberal and what’s in their hearts. I have a lot of conservative relatives who equate liberals with communists who want to take away their rights. I have never met a single liberal person who advocates for communism. What I’ve seen are mostly people who champion equality, sometimes in ways that may be objectionable. I don’t agree with all liberal tenets myself. As I get older, I find that I like them more than the conservative tenets I grew up with. Living in different places has changed me. If I hadn’t had all of this exposure to different people and places, maybe I would have stayed more conservative. But then I know conservative people who have lived in many places, too, and they stick with their world views. I try not to automatically assume the worst about them simply because we disagree on politics.

I don’t understand why people can’t simply scroll past things that inspire them to post mean and insulting comments. The Internet is such a huge entity. There’s somewhere online for almost everyone. And no matter what you think of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her legacy, there’s no need to be gleeful about her death and post rotten comments like she was a “goblin” or a “walking dead person” for two years. Some people are genuinely hurt and saddened by her passing and what it will mean for the people for whom she advocated, as well as balance to the Supreme Court. The people who are hurting have the right to grieve and express themselves without rudeness from the “peanut gallery”. What’s more, artists, writers, and musicians are here to express themselves. That’s the essence of what they do and of creativity itself. They belong to no one, and no one has the right to tell them to shut up and play, sing, color, write, or whatever else.

Now… time to get in a little guitar practice before I get dressed and head off to lunch with my sweet husband.

silliness, social media, Trump

Crap I don’t need.

I could easily write another post about how awful things are right now… Well, I could write about what appears to be very awful stuff. Many of my friends on social media are waxing poetic about the horrors of racism. I want to go on record to say that I completely agree that what happened to George Floyd is absolutely horrifying. The riots and protests that are going on around the world– yes, even here in Europe— are totally understandable. People are fed up with a lot of things. They’re fed up with racism, violence, incompetent leadership, corruption, joblessness, poverty, and being locked down due to COVID-19. And I want to say that I understand that people are very angry, and justifiably so.

However… I don’t think another post by yours truly about that subject is going to make things better for anyone. I don’t think there’s anything I can say that will change anything or improve the situation. All it will do is signal to other people that I’m trying to be on the right side of history. And believe me, I do think there will come a day in the future– provided the human race isn’t suddenly wiped out– that folks will look back on the year 2020 and judge who was and who wasn’t decent, the same way people look back on other major historical events like World War II. Those who know me probably already know where I stand. Those who don’t know me probably think they know.

So… in the interest of not going where people are already going and going and going, I’m going to write about a different topic. It’s not because I don’t care about what’s happening. I do. But I am feeling saturated, and I think that other people are probably saturated, too. So today’s post is going to be about something else I’ve noticed as I’ve read all of the heartfelt status updates and essays people are sharing on Facebook. It’s about those ads… you know, the ones that Facebook sends as a means to get you to support it. Lately, I’ve been getting some real doozies… crap I definitely don’t need.

I usually try to hide the most egregiously offensive Facebook ads. For awhile, I was getting a shitload of ads for bras and underwear. Well, I do my best to avoid bras whenever possible, although I will admit that if I have to go out in public, I dutifully strap one on. So I finally got rid of the constant barrage of bra ads. Now I’m getting ads for ugly clothes… Behold the gallery of ugliness below…

People must be able to sell this crap on Facebook, though, because I get tons of ads for this stuff. Some of it is really inappropriate. Like, for instance, the faux leather leggings I wrote about last year. Who decided that a woman in her late 40s needs to be wearing faux leather anything? Especially tight garments like leggings. And the men’s shirts with lemons on them? From a store called “Footgearbuy.com”? I did read a funny comment from one person who said the store should be called “Forget to buy”. Maybe when I was younger, I might consider wearing overalls made of patches. But now, I think they’d make me look like I need psych meds. For one thing, overalls or jumpsuits on people with dumpy figures are not flattering. I’d look like ten pounds of shit in a five pound bag. For another, it’s a real pain in the ass to wear clothes that require stripping in order to use the bathroom. And God knows, I don’t need to sport a camel toe, especially in loud colors.

Bill did recently buy me a funny t-shirt off of Facebook. It’s blue and has pictures of dogs on them wearing face masks standing behind many rolls of toilet paper. It’s kind of an ugly shirt, but it works well when I need to walk Arran. 2020 is definitely the year when shit got real… and real bizarre.

This morning I saw something that I could see myself buying. It would go very well with my Margaret Thatcher nutcracker…

Yeah… totally frivolous and unnecessary purchase. But I love it anyway.

I’m serious, though. I do have a Margaret Thatcher nutcracker. I saw one in a house I toured in Scotland and thought it was hilarious, so I tracked one down on eBay. I never use it to crack nuts, but simply admire the Iron Lady’s metal thighs…

This is not my nutcracker. This is the one I saw in the house we were touring. As you can see, the owners of the home are typically tasteful of their tipples.

Yeah, a Maggie Thatcher nutcracker is tacky junk. I never claimed to be particularly tasteful. Most of my furniture is crap, although I did grow up in a house with nice things in it. My mom kept our house pristine, too. I didn’t inherit her gift for keeping house or buying classy furniture. I’d rather hang out with my dogs and trade dirty jokes with Bill.

I get the odd German ad, too. This one cracks me up. The guy in the red shirt looks like he’d be fun at a party.

Speaking of hanging out… we didn’t go anywhere this weekend. Bill wanted to go out, but I still couldn’t be bothered to deal with all of the fuss that comes with going out nowadays. I realize I’m very fortunate that I have the choice to stay home. Not everyone does. But this morning, I saw photos from last year, when Bill and I took a day trip to Bacharach and enjoyed some time at a Biergarten. And well… I’m thinking I can’t stand to be staying home for much longer. I’ve been pretty stubborn about not going anywhere, but I’m starting to feel the strain. I guess if there is a bright side to what’s happening right now, it’s that at least there’s been less pandemic shaming. Unfortunately, I fear that all the protests will lead to another wave of sickness. A lot of people will probably end up with COVID-19 after attending the massive protests.

I think Leland Sklar pretty much sums it all up… He says pretty much what I’m thinking. Watch this for the wonderful music at the end, “The Lark Ascending” by Ralph Vaughan Williams. It’s profoundly moving.

On a more serious note, I do feel fortunate not to be in the United States right now. It’s been heartbreaking to watch what’s happening, even from a distant vantage point. At the same time, I’m glad not to be in the thick of it. I truly hope that we can get a real leader in charge this year. Trump is a disgrace, and he’s done nothing to make this situation better. All he does is stoke the flames of violence and racism. I feel so sad for the many people who have been harmed during his administration. I don’t feel like there’s anything I can say that would make this situation better or less hurtful. So I’m just going to say that I’m just very sorry. If I could think of something profound to write that would be healing or helpful, I would write that instead of a post about crap sold on Facebook. But I can’t. So I hope at least seeing the shirt with the lemons made someone smile. Crap I don’t need… and something I should forget to buy indeed!


When rock stars are locked down…

Because we’re stuck at home, I’ve been spending even more time on YouTube than usual. In recent weeks, rock stars and musicians have been reaching out via YouTube and Facebook. I’ve been following star bassist Leland Sklar on Facebook for a long while now. I think he’s funny, and I admire his work as a bass player for such stars as James Taylor, Carole King, Phil Collins, and Jackson Browne, among many others. Facebook recently put Lee in “jail” because of his inflammatory comments about the orange turd, so he’s been doing daily YouTube videos that I have really been enjoying. Here are a few of them.

He has so many videos… and a lot of them have great stories with them, as well as samples of his mad bass skills.
I actually have a picture of myself flipping off the camera. Maybe I should send it to him.
This is a great video about how Lee met an Irish family with a little boy who thought he was Santa. The little boy grew up and he and his family are still friends with Lee.
This is FIERCE! Watch this to hear Leland play along with a psychedelic 70s song.

Other musicians are also entertaining the masses on video. Most of us have probably seen Neil Diamond’s adorable coronavirus version of his hit song, “Sweet Caroline”. I had no idea he was so quirky and funny!

So cute!!! And I love seeing all of these folks’ dogs, too!

Yesterday, I caught Dennis DeYoung’s video. I was listening to it, and Bill said, “Which Gibb is that?” I said, “WHAT DID YOU SAY?” Bwahahahaha! And a friend got a kick out of Dennis’s hairpiece. To be honest, I hadn’t noticed it, but apparently that toupee is the stuff of many jokes. I guess Bill forgot that there’s only one Gibb left– oldest brother, Barry, who, to my knowledge, doesn’t wear a hairpiece.

He still sounds pretty good! Maybe we can find a way to make this the “best of times”.

And not to be outdone, Dennis DeYoung’s former Styx bandmate, Tommy Shaw, also sang to his dog! I love that he did it dressed comfortably. That’s how I’d do it, too.

Oh my God… he is still so cute, even in his jammies! And he sounds great! The dog doesn’t seem too impressed, though.

Paul Simon and Edie Brickell sang a duet and looked totally adorable doing it…

This is so sweet!

And here’s The Immediate Family sharing their gifts with us… Danny Kortchmar, Leland Sklar, Waddy Wachtel, Russ Kunkel, and Steve Postell, some of the best session musicians in the business! I can’t believe that as of this writing, they only have 120 subscribers! If you check out only one video in this post, I highly recommend The Immediate Family. These guys helped make people like James Taylor, Phil Collins, Carole King, Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, and Bonnie Raitt as great as they are, especially back in the 70s.

Bwahahahaaha! This makes me gleeful! They’ve all worked with some of my favorite 70s artists! And apparently, they’ve all been fired by James Taylor… Really?
Love this, too! Lee Sklar is particularly good on this one! Sigh… now I miss the 80s again. I think I might like this more than the 80s version.

Keb’ Mo’ plays beautifully at home. I wanted to see him in January, but we had a house guest and then Bill had a bunch of business trips. Keb’ comes to Europe a lot and will supposedly be in Mainz on our wedding anniversary this year. If we’re still in Germany and allowed to go to concerts, maybe we’ll attend. I would LOVE to see Keb’ Mo’ play live. I love his music and love these videos from home.

God, he’s soulful.

Ron Block, who besides being a great musician and songwriter solo, plays with Alison Krauss and Union Station, has also done some online quarantine jamming. I love Ron Block’s solo stuff and own a lot of his albums. I’ve found him very normal and approachable online, too. Like, at one time (before he had a fan page) we were “friends” and he actually commented on something I posted.

This reminds me… time to cut Bill’s hair again.

And Carole King has also joined in…

Her piano playing is so distinctive. I could pick it out anywhere.
And she sounds as plaintive as ever on the elegant classic, “So Far Away”… I think we’re all feeling it.

I find all of this stuff inspiring and a real morale booster. I may have to do some more music myself today. So what if it’s Sunday and we’re supposed to be quiet? Fuck it… I’ve been good. I wore a mask yesterday and everything. On the other hand, I could just lie around like a sloth and hunt down more videos of rock stars doing what they do best. I’m sure for some of them, this is a way to keep people thinking about them so they won’t be forgotten when they can play live again. For others, I’m sure it’s a way of staying sane and having fun doing what comes naturally.

Well… I could probably post a bunch more videos if I wanted to… but I have laundry to fold. I hope some of you will take a few minutes to check out some of these videos… especially Leland Sklar’s! I think he should write a book. He’s got so many great stories and he’s made me want to learn how to play bass. If this coronavirus crap goes on much longer, I may have to order a guitar and learn some chords.