Saturday, July 19, 2014

Back by Popular Demand

This photo was taken eleven years ago at where my daughter, Julie is performing at this very minute. That was one of the best times of my life. I had never been to Germany and I do not have the time or space to tell you about the magic that is Zappanale. I wish I had kept this blog back then but I think they were a fairly new invention in 2003. Anyway, I refuse to live in anything but the present moment but it is nice reliving great memories from time to time. Do I sound like I have become an Eckhart Tolle disciple? Indeed I have. Now I know how John Lennon felt. He who stands with one foot in the past and one foot in the future pisses on the present. That being said, I do enjoy thinking about the crazy life I have led because I know I need to use it in my writing. So my new thing is getting out of bed on the weekends at around 2 a.m. and hanging out alone downstairs in the dark until 5 a.m., vegging out and watching the Food Network (bad Robin!) or meditating. But truth to tell, lately I am just sitting here, reading almost ten years of blog entries, and wondering who that woman was - the one who sometimes blogged twice a day; the mom who traipsed all over the world with her teenaged kids - the one who kept meeting celebrities when least expected and always had an insane backstory to report and a photo to post in breathless prose with lots of exclamation points. When I think of how different life was even five years ago, it is almost as if I am reading a stranger's autobiography. It could not possibly have been me. But it was me and I am very grateful. Back then I had a quick temper and was pretty excitable. These days I am happy and calm. Okay, I am calmer than I was. And I stay out of my kids' lives and don't give advice unless they ask, which, thank God, they don't. :) Of course if you follow me on Facebook, you know I am still groupie Mom, and I am sure I've lost a lot of followers because all I do is brag about Eric and Julie, who are now, gasp, age 27 and 28. You also probably know that Eric lives in Asheville, N.C. and Julie, who moved to LA almost two years ago, is now pretty sure she's going to try life in Berlin next. Once I got over the initial shock, and I admit, it took me a long time, I am bursting with pride. Those two are living the dream. They might not be driving around in limos, but they are earning a living as full time musicians, playing what they love with band members they adore while at the same time slowly building names as solo artists. And I realize with quite a jolt that they have freed me up - I thought I would never leave Philadelphia or this house and now the future, which of course I don't think about, is limitless. (Yes, okay, I do sometimes daydream about living in the mountains with my nearest neighbor 20 miles away after spending my entire adult life in downtown Philadelphia or at the beach on an island or country somewhere in Europe where I can live cheaply and get free medical care). Do I miss them? Hell, yeah. But since they are always touring and Eric's band is based in Philadelphia, I still get to see them and with texting and Facetime, sometimes I think we talk more than when they lived a mile away. I'd be lying if I said I didn't get lonely for Eric's weekly appearances at our Sunday barbecues or being able to call Julie up to meet me at Happy Hour at the latest trendy restaurant, but growing older is all about change and acceptance and trust me, that beats the alternative. I have also gotten very involved in Transcendental Meditation and I have this fantasy that I am going to take teacher training. This fantasy has replaced my fantasy of being a famous author. Gah, I wasn't going to talk about this but I have not exactly been working hard to finish any of my...erm...four novels in progress and yet that does not depress me. I don't think you can force art, and I've been debating back and forth which book I want to work on. Ultimately, after meditating last night non-stop (it works, I swear!) I decided to return to Suicide Blonde, a project I started this time last year. There is this meme going around on Facebook where other author friends of mine are tagging each other to post the first lines of the first three chapters of their works in progress and at first I was sad that no one picked me but then I let it go and was realistic. I haven't written a new book in five years and I kind of dropped out from hanging out on line with author pals. I will tell you honestly what got to me. I don't have it in me to find a new agent and start the query process; I know the odds of getting an agent at my age (not awesome); I know the odds drop even more when it comes to the agent selling the book, and I also know that in the event it does sell, there is no more huge advance money and I can look forward to publication in maybe 2019. With my genetic background, I will kiss the ground if I am still alive and healthy in 2019. Ironically, Suicide Blonde is probably the best thing I ever wrote, and I hate my work. So I am going to do my own version of the meme here. Oh, I should tell you what Suicide Blonde is about. My friend, author Debra Leigh Scott of Hidden River Arts actually spoon fed me my elevator pitch: A writer's offbeat, honest look at decades of living hard and her desire to delay senility long enough to bitch about it. Chapter One: "I never liked the telephone, so you can only imagine the cellular hell I’m in now." Chapter Two: "Hi, Robin, I’m a movie and television producer based in Los Angeles." Chapter Three: "The first time I had an attack of duck foot I went into shock and screamed like a lunatic because that’s how I always handle tragedies." So that's a tease and I am 200 pages in. Will anyone want to read it? I just finished a book by author Grant Jarrett called Ways of Leaving. The book had a powerful impact on me and here's why...well, this is my review for Amazon and I say it there - Grant had to have dug deep within his soul and pulled out some painful truths. I always try and make jokes because that is my way of coping. But after reading his book and repeating the mantra "I want to write what I want to read", I think I can do it with Suicide Blonde. Anyway, before I go off track more, here's my aforesaid review because I really want people to go out and buy this book because it is so freaking great. "Holden Caulfield in Catcher in the Rye. Charles Bukowski in Ham on Rye. What do they have in common? The protagonists - one fictional, one autobiographical - were the modern day folk heroes of their time and in fact remain heroes to this date. Which brings me to Chase Stoller, the brilliant, tortured star of Grant Jarrett's debut novel, Ways of Leaving. Chase joins the ranks of Holden and Charles - he will delight you, engage you, enrage you, and in the end, you will never forget him. Why? Because he will never bore you and you will highlight sections of this book so that you can go back and quote him. Rather than give you a synopsis of what this book is about as others have succinctly done in previous reviews, I want to focus on what Grant has brought to the table here. The spoken dialogue is both witty and hilarious. Do you want quirky characters? Check. Laugh out loud, odd-ball sexual situations? Check. Scenes written so vividly you are right there with Chase while he "interacts" with police officers, doctors, the self-absorbed brother you will all recognize, the husband of his latest love interest, and the woman who got away....or did she? And as for Chase's inner thoughts? Even better. He is Holden all grown up; Charles would have grudgingly offered him the adjoining bar stool and even bought him a drink. Writers are taught to dig deep if they want to produce something extraordinary, but few are able to accomplish it. In Ways of Leaving, Jarrett has done that and more. He is almost painfully honest and while we know this is a work of fiction, the observations Chase makes...what makes him tick...what makes him cry...what gives him hope...all had to come from something deep in the writer's mind. It was as if Jarrett said, "You know what? I don't give a damn what anyone thinks, I am just going to put it all out there. I am going to give you my heart and my soul and everything I have, and I hope you can accept it and maybe even like it." Mission accomplished, Grant. This reader loved it, and thinks it is the top debut novel of 2014." So yeah, I am inspired to write again and I thought I would get my feet wet with this blog post. The old me would now commence spilling a ton of gossip about Julie and Eric. Now it feels intrusive. But I will share what they are up to musically because it's pretty damn cool. Eric has a solo record out called Out of Habit
He also has a new record out with Lithuania
And then there is the amazing cut he recorded with his band, Dr. Dog, and Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips (actually, I am not sure but I think the Flaming Lips are on the record, too) and darn, I also don't know if the name of the song has been officially released so I better shut up. I just tried Google to see if it was, and I found this, which I did not know: Eric and Wayne Never content to be in just four projects, Eric is also recording a new record with Lithuania, another solo guitar record but this time with vocals and lyrics he also wrote, and he just put out this new tune with my future daughter-in-law (I hope!!!) Rachel Browne So Long They are so adorable :)
There will be upcoming news about those two - stay tuned. And now for Princess Julie, who, by my estimation, has now finished her set with The Crimson Projekct.
Julie has been living this totally amazing life as a modern day minstral. She gave up her apartment in LA and has literally been touring/traveling all of 2014. She has spent much of the year in Europe, where she has worked with brilliant fellow bassists Steve Lawson in England and Marco Machera in Italy.
She has also recorded with both and the results are extraordinary. Fourth Dementia
And here is the promo video Moving over to the UK, here is Steve, Julie, and Andy
After this tour with Crimson Projeckt wraps up next month, Julie returns to Europe to gig with Marco and Steve, too. Julie, Steve, and Andy
Okay, I know there are gigs in Italy with Marco August 7 and 8 but I can't find the links - I will come back and put them in for those of you lucky enough to be able to attend. So yeah, it is easy to see why Julie is so smitten with Europe and why Eric loves Asheville. At first I was like, whoa, how could they leave me, but now I realize I raised two strong, independent creative souls who are happy beyond belief. And I know without a doubt they love their father and me as much as we love them. So really, what more could any parent want? A book deal? :) Well, to quote Gabriel Marquez: “It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.” Here is to eternal youth. And guess what. I started this blog early today and just finished. Why? Because I wrote two new chapters of Suicide Blonde. Oy, don't tell me I am going to have to write that query after all...