book reviews, homosexuality, LDS

Repost: A review of The Gate and The Garden: The Apostate Journals of a Gay Mormon Missionary in Japan

Here’s another reposted book review. This one was written October 18, 2017, and appears as/is.

After some concerted effort last night and an early bedtime, I finally managed to finish Corbin Brodie’s 2016 book, The Gate and The Garden: The Apostate Journals of a Gay Mormon Missionary in Japan.  I downloaded this book in 2016, less than a month after it was published.  I just got around to reading it this month.  Sorry to be so slow, but I have a whole stack of books to be read and I keep finding more.

Although I have read and reviewed quite a few exmo lit books, I had kind of gotten out of the habit.  I enjoy a good story about what it’s like to be Mormon, especially when the person is an ex Mormon.  There tends to be a lot less testimony sharing in books by the exmos.  Corbin Brodie (a pseudonym, as are all the names used in this book) is no longer LDS, but he did serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when he was a young lad.  In those days, missions for the guys started when they were nineteen years old; since 2012, the age limit has been set at eighteen.  I am not exactly sure when Brodie served in the Sapporo, Japan mission, but it must have been before 1991, since he makes references to the Soviet Union.

Corbin Brodie grew up in Canada.  He has a younger brother named Duncan and mentions his mother was a very faithful member of the LDS church.  Brodie and his brother were raised to be as faithful as their mother was.  Although I get the sense that Brodie wasn’t exactly TBM (true believing Mormon) from the get go, he agreed to served the expected mission.  His book mostly consists of journal entries he wrote during his time abroad and while he was at the Missionary Training Center.  It also includes a few short stories.  I gather that, like me, Brodie has an impulse to write.  I’m sure writing has saved his sanity more than a few times, especially when he was living in Japan.

By his own account, Brodie got off to a good start at the training center.  He was made a leader during his weeks in Provo, learning Japanese and the missionary lifestyle.  He adjusted to life as a missionary and went to Sapporo, where over the course of two years, he went through a series of different companions.  Brodie seemed to have an affinity for Japanese and picked it up early.  In his journal, he uses a number of Japanese words for church terms.  For example, he doesn’t call his companions “Elder” lastname, as Mormon missionaries call each other, Brodie calls them “Choro”, which I gather is the Japanese term.  He refers to other church officials and the mission home by their Japanese terms, too.  I’m pretty sure that the missionaries in non English speaking areas do use the local terms instead of Elder, Sister, or President.  Anyway, I kind of liked that he used those terms because I enjoy picking up foreign words, even if I don’t necessarily enjoy learning other languages.

At 19 years old, Brodie is now living in an environment where he is surrounded by guys his age, some of whom he finds attractive.  Given that he’s a Mormon, at his sexual peak, and serving as a missionary, being gay is, to say the least, a special challenge.  Although it’s not considered a sin to have “same sex attraction” (as the Mormons put it), it is considered sinful to act on that attraction.  So, I can only imagine that as difficult as being a missionary must have been, it must have been even more difficult to be a gay missionary.  Add in the fact that Brodie didn’t seem to enjoy Japan that much (he mentions not liking the food), and probably would not have had a whole lot of time to enjoy it even if he did, and you have two challenging years.

Brodie is musical and creative, but listening to music that isn’t church approved is forbidden.  Still, he manages to play the piano sometimes.  He seems to have some good experiences with Japanese locals, many of whom don’t want to be church members, but are okay with simply being friends.  He has some good companions who are friendly and some who are “hardasses” bucking for rank or simply people with whom he has nothing in common.  Through it all, though he serves faithfully, Brodie realizes that he doesn’t really believe in Mormonism.  It’s getting harder and harder for him to pretend to have a testimony.  Finally, during his second year, just four months before he’s scheduled to leave Japan, he has a crisis of sorts.  He makes it known that he wants to leave Japan.

Brodie’s leaders do all they can to convince Brodie to stay in country and finish his mission.  They tell him if he leaves early, he’ll be on the hook for the $2000 plane ticket.  Brodie realizes he’ll have to work a long time to be able to pay off that debt.  I actually had to laugh at this, not because it’s funny, but because essentially Brodie was kind of being “trafficked”.  It doesn’t sound that different than the women who are brought into foreign countries and forced to work off the price of their plane tickets.  Also, while I’m still not sure what years Brodie was serving, $2000 must have been an astronomical amount of money at that time.  It’s a lot now.

Brodie also considers his mother, a very faithful TBM who is in school earning her social work degree.  He doesn’t want to disappoint her or his brother, who has also put in his papers to go on a mission.  Eventually, he is convinced to stay and sent to the mission home to finish out his last four months.  The mission home is less onerous, except that Brodie chafes under the rules, including the one that doesn’t allow him to cross the street to buy a candy bar without a companion with him.

Brodie’s story ends rather abruptly.  There’s no neat wrap up at the end of his journals, although he does provide an interesting afterword.  He’s now living in the United Kingdom and has a son, although he is no longer romantically involved with his son’s mother (she’s a dear friend).  He’s still gay.  After he returned home from Japan, he took about three months to break it to his mother that he didn’t want to be LDS.  And his mother, to her great credit, eventually accepted it, although it was very hard for her.

Although I don’t remember if he mentioned it, I got the idea that Brodie’s mother must have been from Scotland.  He writes of going to Edinburgh before the mission and missing Scotland.  I can relate to how much he misses Scotland, since it’s one of my favorite places.  I also got the sense that even if Brodie hadn’t been homosexual, he would have left Mormonism.  It seemed to me that his intellect was too sharp to accept what the church teaches wholesale.  He couldn’t make 2+2=5, like some people can.

My one criticism about Brodie’s book is that it’s very long.  Although his writing is very good and engaging, it was tough going getting through this book, particularly with the inclusion of the short stories.  I realize that he basically published his journals as he wrote them, but personally, I think this book would have been stronger if it had been abridged somewhat.  The short stories were of good quality, but they kind of took away the flow of Brodie’s missionary story.  I love a good short story, but I don’t like to be distracted when I’m reading.  I felt the fiction pieces were somewhat a distraction.

I do think this book would be well-received by ex Mormons, especially male homosexuals who have served missions.  I think they will be especially able to relate to Brodie’s experiences.  I was happy to read that as hard as the mission was, it didn’t seem like the whole thing was a waste of time.  He did seem to come away from the experience with friends, some of whom I hope remained friends after he left the church.

Anyway, if I were going to assign a rating, I think I’d give The Gate and The Garden: The Apostate Journals of a Gay Mormon Missionary in Japan a solid four stars out of five.  It’s well worth reading if you’re interested.

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon on sales made through my site.

Standard
celebrities, dogs, funny stories, music, true crime

Shit happens.

I decided to take yesterday off from writing. It was mainly because in the wee hours of Friday morning, I awoke at about 2:00am and had trouble getting back to sleep. I had been having an erotic dream. I don’t have a lot of those anymore, so I was disappointed when I woke up. Weirdly enough, I dreamt I was having sex with Wil Wheaton. I have never even thought about having sex with him, so I’m not sure where that came from. Maybe it’s because I was recently triggered on his page. He’s definitely cute, but we’re both happily married to other people, so I doubt that’s a dream that will ever come to fruition.

Once my eyes cracked open, I got up to go to the bathroom. And then– sorry for the TMI– but I got a case of the shits. After I was finished, I left the bathroom and noticed I smelled it in another room, only it wasn’t of the human variety. Arran, bless his heart, sometimes poops when he sleeps, so I thought maybe that was the issue. But I didn’t see any evidence of that, so I checked on Noyzi, who was in his bed. The smell of poop also faded downstairs, so I could tell he wasn’t the culprit. Noyzi still doesn’t venture upstairs on his own.

Then I went into my office and, though I wasn’t wearing my contacts, I could see a fuzzy, stinky, brown puddle on one of my nice rugs. It’s one that doesn’t get walked on a lot, so it’s still pretty pristine. Arran had gone in there and dropped some diarrhea. Bill got up and cleaned up the mess while I let the dogs out. Noyzi went out and pooped, too… and it was at that point that I realized we all must have eaten something bad. Later on, Bill also had a touch of the shits. My guess is was the chicken from the chicken man, who sells his wares on Thursdays. This has never happened before, so I count it as a “one off”, as the Brits would put it.

In any case, I was kind of tired yesterday and not in the mood to write. I also find that when I take a day or two off, it’s good for my brain. Gives me a chance to refresh. Gives my readers a chance to catch up, if they want to… not that many people do. Right now, it appears I have lots of folks interested in my posts about Jocelyn Zichterman, Scott Drummond, Richard Jahnke, and Erin McCay George. These are all mostly book reviews, which rarely get a lot of attention when I first post them, but later attract readers. That’s one reason why I’ve been reposting stuff from my original blog. The book reviews are fairly “evergreen”– as in they attract views and money, if this blog were monetized, which it’s not. I post the book reviews as a “service” for the interested. Sometimes I read and review books that others are interested in but may not want to buy or can’t borrow.

I spent all day yesterday watching Snapped episodes from 2013. If I were still writing my old blog, I might write about some of the cases I saw on that show. Like, for instance, Nancy Gelber’s case… I found her a fascinating subject. She’s a wannabe author who self-published a novel called Temporary Amnesia, which boasts a very complicated storyline that she claims she dreamt up when she was a teenager. She said that’s where a lot of her ideas come from– her dreams– which are apparently even weirder than mine are.

Nancy’s book is on Amazon.com and it gets terrible reviews. I would probably hate it, and I sure don’t want to spend the amount of money they’re asking for it, especially since Nancy Gelber is a criminal. However, as someone who is interested in psychology, I found her very interesting to listen to. You can tell that beneath her cheerful, chatty demeanor, she’s a hot mess psychologically. Gelber tried to have her ex husband bumped off, but “hired” an undercover cop instead of a real hit man. Then, she claimed that she hadn’t known what she was doing.

This wasn’t what I watched on Snapped… it’s another program about Nancy Mancuso Gelber.

It’s actually interesting to watch this show, as opposed to the Snapped episode. It offers more of her ex husband’s viewpoint.

What a piece of work!

Nancy says she’s going to go to hell… and admits that having her husband offed is a “horrible” thing to do, as she laughs. On this show, she seems a lot more sinister than she appeared to be on Snapped. If you see her on Snapped, she seems a lot more pleasant and normal. How scary for Jody Gelber, her ex husband. I wish I were more of an expert in psychology. She seems like a fascinating subject. I’d love to know what her DSM V diagnosis is. My guess is narcissist, for sure.

Busted! If you listen to her fake reaction to the lie that her husband has died, she sounds like a really bad actress.

This morning, after I watched the YouTube videos about Nancy Gelber, I watched a couple more about Diana Lovejoy, who in 2017, fainted when she was found guilty of murder for hire. I’m not familiar with her case at all. I just found her reaction to the verdict fascinating.

Wow…
Off she goes to the hospital… complete with handcuffs.

I probably should get back into reading more true crime, now that I’m less interested in politics. To be clear, I’ve never been all that interested in politics. I was just horrified by four years of Donald Trump and his delusional political theater of the absurd. Trump is now reportedly refusing to refer to himself as a former president. His new legal team is referring him to as the 45th POTUS, which is technically correct. BUT– their main defense in the upcoming impeachment trial is that Trump is no longer president and therefore can’t be impeached. So which is it? Rachel Maddow has a good chuckle about it in the video clip directly below this paragraph. If you ever wanted a textbook example of grandiose malignant narcissism, Trump is your guy. By the way, as far as I’m concerned, Trump was never MY president. ūüėČ

And finally, I probably could opine about the recent uproar regarding country singer Morgan Wallen, who was caught on video drunk and uttering racist epithets in the middle of the street with his rowdy friends. He’s facing a lot of backlash… more than the idiots who stormed the Capitol last month, actually. Looks like his fans are still buying his music, even though he’s no longer eligible for music awards and his label has suspended him. I remember when the Dixie Chicks pissed off their base by dissing former President George W. Bush at a concert. They were quickly canceled by a lot of their more redneck fans and country radio. Morgan Wallen uses the n-word and many of his fans are still fine with him.

I hadn’t heard of him before this happened. I do remember reading about Morgan Wallen being canceled from a gig on Saturday Night Live because he was caught on video partying with a bunch of people while unmasked. SNL canceled him because his appearance would put a lot of people at risk. And now, they have another reason not to have him play.

I’m not big on cancel culture. I think people should have the ability to redeem themselves. Morgan Wallen, at age 27, is probably too old to be acting like a drunken frat boy, and I did see and hear the video… and there is no excuse for his behavior. I don’t know that it should ruin his career forever, but I do think that if you’re lucky enough to be able to make a living in the arts, you owe it to yourself and everyone else to realize that with that platform comes responsibility. And, sad to say, it shows an ugly side of him. Clearly, he’s comfortable using that kind of language casually, which is too bad. It’s not the word itself that is offensive– it’s the attitude and meaning behind it. And the fact that so many people are protesting about Wallen’s “right” to free speech and missing the fact that with that right comes responsibility. Yes, he has the “right” to say what he wants. BUT that doesn’t excuse him from consequences. Wallen needs to grow up.

Last night, I was listening to old school Chicago and marveling. I can’t name most of the members of that band. I’m sure being in Chicago, which has been around for many decades now, paid off handsomely for a lot of the members. It occurred to me that is a band– along with so many others– like Earth, Wind, & Fire, Blood, Sweat, & Tears, and Three Dog Night– comprised of people who are passionate about music rather than just money and fame. It occurred to me how much time, dedication, effort, and TEAMWORK goes into making that tight sound. These are very talented people working together for something awesome, not to be rich and famous. I’d like to hear much more from people like them, as opposed to privileged, clueless, jackasses like Morgan Wallen. Just saying.

Well, that about does it for today. Gotta finish the laundry and practice guitar on this dreary Saturday.

Standard
book reviews

A review of Lenny Kravitz’s Let Love Rule…

The official video for Lenny Kravitz’s hit song and the title of his book.

As a child of the 70s and 80s, I was a big fan of The Cosby Show, before we all found out what a molesting creep Bill Cosby is. Lenny’s first wife, Lisa Bonet, starred as Denise Huxtable on that show, as well as A Different World. But I didn’t know until much later that Lenny’s mom was also someone I admired, Roxie Roker, who played Helen Willis on The Jeffersons, another show from my childhood that I loved. With all of these relics from my youth in his life, it was only natural that I’d want to read Kravtiz’s recent book, Let Love Rule, which he co-wrote with David Ritz. Let Love Rule was just published last month and, unlike I was when his music first came out, I was an early partaker. I bought it just two days after it was released. Sadly, I no longer read as fast as I used to, and I just now finished reading it this morning.

I love a good memoir, especially when it’s about a musician I really admire. Although I wasn’t one of Lenny Kravitz’s earliest fans when he burst into the limelight about thirty years ago, once I did discover his music, I became a devoted fan. He’s someone who takes familiar sounds of other artists– people like Prince, Jimi Hendrix, or John Lennon, or bands like Led Zeppelin or Earth, Wind, & Fire, and turns them into something uniquely his. I think the first song I ever heard by Lenny was “It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over”, which reminded me so much of Earth, Wind, & Fire’s “That’s the Way of the World”, yet with a unique and original twist.

The song that introduced me to Lenny Kravitz.

Let Love Rule is a breakdown of Lenny’s first 25 years of life. Even if he hadn’t been an incredibly talented rock star, I’d say his first 25 years were book worthy. Born in New York City on May 26, 1964, he is the only child of the aforementioned elegant, Christian, Black actress, Roxie Roker, and White, Russian Jewish, NBC television news producer, Sy Kravitz. He spent his earliest years in New York, dividing his time between his mother’s Bahamian parents’ house in Bedford-Stuyvesant and Manhattan. Lenny Kravitz is a second cousin of television weather man Al Roker’s. Their grandfathers were brothers. He was named after his father’s brother, Private First Class Leonard Kravtiz, who was killed in action during the Korean War.

By the time he was five years old, Lenny– who in those days spelled his name Lennie– knew he wanted to be a musician. He started with banging pots and pans in the kitchen and graduated to guitar and singing. His mother, in particular, encouraged Lenny’s artistic and musical pursuits and took him to a lot of shows, including The Jackson Five at Madison Square Garden. His father, who was also a jazz promoter, introduced him to great jazz musicians like Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, and Sarah Vaughan. Then, in 1974, Roxie Roker won the role of Helen Willis on The Jeffersons, and Lenny moved from New York City to California– ironically so his mom could star on a show set in New York City!

Lenny Kravitz had a tough time adjusting to California. Other kids made fun of his New York accent, and he missed the dense neighborhoods and proximity to his grandparents. His father was also not a fan of California and, though he stayed married to Roxie Roker, declined to make the move to California at first. Fortunately, Lenny was able to take advantage of the many artistic avenues available in California. At his mother’s urging, he even joined the highly esteemed California Boys Choir, where he was exposed to classical repertoires. His mother pulled strings to get him into Beverly Hills High School, which was not in his neighborhood, solely so he could take advantage of the music department there.

Although he was clearly a gifted musician, Lenny Kravitz was not a good student, and he ended up having to drop out of Beverly Hills High School in favor of an alternative school. However, the teachers there still let Lenny jam with his former classmates, which included people like Slash from Guns N’ Roses and actor Nicholas Cage. Kravitz enjoyed a privileged upbringing in a nice house in Los Angeles, mixing with talented people and smoking a lot of weed, developing his craft. He also had a religious experience, even though he was not raised by particularly religious parents. When he was thirteen, he became a Christian.

Lenny and his father didn’t get along very well. They would butt heads over grades and discipline, and the elder Kravitz would say disparaging things to his son, who disappointed him by not being a good student. Things got bad enough that one day, when Lenny was still a teenager, he and his father almost came to physical blows. And although the house they lived in was paid for by Roxie Roker, thanks to salary from The Jeffersons, the senior Kravitz then gave Lenny that age-old ultimatum– “If you walk out that door, don’t bother coming back.” Sure enough, Lenny left, and never lived with his parents again.

Lenny’s mother, being a traditional Bahamian woman, didn’t want to divorce Lenny’s father. She eventually did when it became painfully clear that he was unfaithful to her and was busted by Lenny himself. That was when he really got on track to becoming the rock star he is today. He eventually met Lisa Bonet, fell in love, and together they became parents to Zo√ę Kravitz, now a musician and actress in her own right. Lenny clearly loved, and perhaps even still loves, Lisa Bonet very much. He writes lovingly about their relationship, and how they had so much in common. Lisa is also biracial, having been born to a White Jewish mother and a Black father. And clearly, her holistic, creative, nurturing proclivities had a big effect on Lenny and helped him launch his career. The book ends as Lenny’s career is taking off and he’s a new father to baby Zo√ę, whose creation was behind Lisa Bonet’s temporary departure from The Cosby Show and her permanent departure from A Different World. Lenny does spill the tea on how it went down when Lisa Bonet and Debbie Allen (who directed A Different World) told Bill Cosby about her pregnancy.

My thoughts

I really enjoyed Let Love Rule. David Ritz did a great job making this book seem like it came straight from Lenny himself. I felt as if Lenny Kravitz was sitting in a room telling me about his early life and development into a big star. I also loved some of the personal anecdotes shared in this book, especially about Roxie Roker. I always thought she was such a beautiful, classy lady, but she was also clearly a warm, caring, supportive mother, who was not afraid to discipline her son, OR even his friends when they needed it.

I could relate to Lenny’s comments about his difficulties with his father, too. My dad and I also had a difficult relationship. Lenny’s father had been in the military, as mine also was, and would alternate strict discipline with frank neglect or abuse. Of course, my situation wasn’t nearly as extreme as Lenny’s was, but I could still relate to him because there were some similarities. And there were also similarities in that sometimes, Lenny’s dad, like my own, would believe in him and come through for him.

And finally, while I may never be a rock star like Lenny is, I can relate to being a musician and wanting to make music. I understand the thrill of creating something good or even just hearing something really fantastic. I enjoyed feeling like I have something in common with Lenny Kravitz, besides being a fellow Gemini. And I love how he pulls together all of his many musical influences and makes music that thrills on another level. The first time I ever heard “Are You Gonna Go My Way”, it was being performed as a cover by my cousin, Justin, who is a professional musician in Nashville. I loved my cousin’s version so much, I had to go listen to the original, which blew my socks off.

This song still kills me, even decades after it was first released.

I guess the only thing I didn’t like about Let Love Rule is that it ends rather abruptly, just as Lenny is about to take off into the stratosphere. I know this book was only intended to be about his first twenty-five years, and he does mention that his story will continue, but the ending still felt like it came at the wrong time. It was like riding the crest of an orgasm and then never quite getting that burst of anticipated pleasure built up by excitement and tension. And I worry that when the next volume does come out, I may not be riding the crest anymore, if you know what I mean.

Still… I really enjoyed this book and would certainly recommend it, not just to people like Lenny Kravitz’s music, but also anyone who was a fan of his mother’s work, or even those who just like a good story. Like I mentioned at the beginning of this article, I think Lenny would have had a book-worthy story even if he never became famous. And I am very touched by how much he loves his family, as well as his honesty about his devotion to God.

I look forward to the next book about Lenny Kravitz’s remarkable life. I hope it’s as hard for me to put down as this one was.

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon from sales made through my site.

Standard
music

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.
Fantastic!

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.

Standard
book reviews

Repost: Linda Thompson dishes on loving Elvis Presley, being Bruce Jenner’s wife, and being David Foster’s wife…

Elvis Presley, the so-called “King of Rock and Roll”, died when I was five years old and living in England.  I grew up knowing who he was, hearing his songs, watching movies about him, and not really having an appreciation for why he was considered so great.

Bruce Jenner, now out as a transgender and living his life as Caitlyn, won the gold medal in the Olympic Decathlon in 1976.  I was four years old and living in England, so I didn’t see his big win.  I did hear about it, though, and I remember watching him act on shows like CHiPs.  I also remember seeing him on a Wheaties box or two.

David Foster is famous for writing intricate melodies and dazzling orchestral arrangements.  I remember hearing his work on Earth, Wind, & Fire’s beautiful ballad, “After the Love is Gone” and Chicago’s “Hard to Say I’m Sorry”, as well as on countless other projects.

These three people all have the distinction of dating and/or marrying Memphis raised Linda Thompson, a former beauty queen, actress, and lyricist, and the mother of Bruce Jenner’s two sons, Brandon and Brody.  Last year, Thompson published a book about her experiences entitled 

A Little Thing Called Life: On Loving Elvis Presley, Bruce Jenner, and Songs in Between.  I think I downloaded the book some time ago, but I only just got around to finishing it.  It was a surprisingly interesting read.

Although I had heard of Linda Thompson before I bought her book, I think I was mostly familiar with her because I knew some of the songs for which she’d written lyrics. ¬†Thompson explains that she’s always enjoyed writing poetry and while she was dating Elvis Presley, a musician noticed how well the words flowed. ¬†He set her words to music and sang for her and that was when she realized she was a songwriter. ¬†But before that happened, she was a beauty queen whose brother worked as one of Elvis’s bodyguards. ¬†

Elvis Presley was apparently quite taken with Linda and she became his live in girlfriend and caretaker for almost five years. ¬†She was in her 20s and he was in his 40s. ¬†He used a lot of drugs and wasn’t entirely faithful. ¬†She lost her virginity to him and several years of her youth taking care of him after he took too many sleeping pills. ¬†She learned how to make his famous peanut butter and banana sandwiches and shares the recipe in her book. ¬†She also took care of his daughter with Priscilla Presley, Lisa Marie.

Elvis and Linda broke up less than a year before he died.  He’d already found another caretaker, though, a woman named Ginger, who also has a book.

I was probably more interested in reading about Linda Thompson’s relationship with Bruce Jenner.  When they met, he was still married to his first wife, Chrystie, and had a son and a daughter from that marriage.  In the wake of his divorce, Bruce and Linda started dating and married.  She bore him two sons and he secretly borrowed her favorite silk blouse, which he smeared with makeup and stretched out.  One time, Linda was cleaning up around their house and she found an unlabeled video tape.  Thinking it was a film of her sons, she put it in the VCR to watch and was stunned to see Bruce parading around in women’s clothing and looking very much like a woman.

To her credit, Thompson did see a therapist about the situation with Bruce.  The therapist wisely told her that Bruce is transgendered and thinks he’s a woman.  It was a condition that would not change.  Feeling uncomfortable with the prospect of being married to a woman, Linda decided that she and Bruce should divorce.  She did not ask for child support or alimony… and sadly, Bruce Jenner was evidently an “absentee father”.  Thompson repeatedly writes that she did encourage a relationship between her sons and their dad.  She also writes that she feels there is “no excuse” for a parent missing their child’s upbringing.  Frankly, I agree.  However, there are plenty of parents out there who don’t want the other parent involved and do their best to break that bond.  I’m glad to read that Thompson didn’t do that.  Or, at least that’s what she claims.

My husband’s mother was married to a transgendered female for a couple of years.  He was a good looking man, very artistic, and had a son from a prior relationship.  Pretty soon, it became clear that he hoped my mother-in-law would teach him “how to be a woman”.  Naturally, the relationship failed within four years.  While I have a lot of empathy for transgendered people, I also have empathy for people who end up in relationships with them not knowing that they are transgendered.  I also have empathy for Bill, who was abused by his ex stepfather.

After she divorced Jenner, who went on to marry Kris Kardashian and have two daughters with her, Linda Thompson met David Foster.  He was married at the time they met and had children from prior relationships.  He divorced, and he and Thompson started dating.  Thompson writes that Foster is incredibly talented to the point of being a genius.  However, he’s also very tyrannical about some things and seems quite narcissistic.  Their marriage lasted nineteen years.  It ended after Thompson forgave Foster for having an affair and then caught him in another lie.  The shitty part of it was that she caught him due to a friend’s lack of discretion and it happened to be their wedding anniversary.

I have always admired David Foster as a musician, but as I read about Thompson getting involved with yet another self-absorbed overachiever, I started wondering what it was that attracted her to these types of people.  If you think about it, Thompson’s major relationships have involved people who are bonafide superstars in their fields.  According to Thompson, they each repeatedly treated her with disrespect.  She has reaped some benefits from her relationships with these guys.  Thompson is famous in her own right, knows a lot of elite people, and lives very comfortably.  But she has not been lucky in love.

I suppose the main thing I got from her book is that you should be careful what you wish for when you look for a mate.  Would it be exciting to be in a relationship with a famous person?  Maybe.  There’s a lot that famous people can offer that ordinary people can’t.  For instance, Elvis Presley gifted Linda with a house and took her on trips in his private airplane.  

But there is a price to pay for the trappings of that kind of success. ¬†I think to be a really famous superstar, one has to be somewhat narcissistic. ¬†I don’t think every superstar is a narcissist, but I do think a whole lot of them are. ¬†And most narcissists are assholes.

Is it better to live in the lap of luxury yet constantly be disrespected by your mate? ¬†Or is it better to have less material wealth but a mate who loves, respects, and encourages you to live your best life together? ¬†I think all three of Linda’s loves did encourage her to some extent– they weren’t¬†total¬†assholes by her account. ¬†There were good times and she has been able to be friendly with them in the wake of their failed relationships. ¬†But she had to go through a lot of pain to get to that point.

Once again, I look at my Bill and thank God I found a guy who’s just plain good.  No, he’s not rich, famous, or possessing of an extremely rare talent (unless you count profound empathy and kindness), but he always treats me with love and respect.  I love being with him.  I know where he is at night and who he wants to be with.  And that’s worth more to me than a mansion.

Anyway, I found Linda Thompson’s love life interesting.  There are a lot of tidbits in there for those who like to read about celebrities, too.  She even includes some anecdotes about Kenny Rogers and Michael Jackson.  It’s well worth the read if you have the inclination to pick it up.

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon from purchases made through my site.

Standard