Live Stream of our Practice Session on Christmas Day!

Yay, babies and babesters, we jammed on Christmas tunes yesterday, and, for  better or worse, we live-streamed some of the songs, mistakes and all! We ran into some technical problems with the sound–feedback, static and distortion that may have made Jimi Hendrix proud but were not appropriate for the Christmas carols. Bah humbugh!

Actually, it’s okay. We had fun. Maybe you’ll enjoy listening too?

Anyhow, I’ll post some links here. Let’s hope you can watch/listen. If you likey like, then please do “like” our Facebook page or follow us on Instagram or RN to show your support. www.Facebook.com/HauntedGypsy  www.Instagram.com/Meria_HauntedGypsy  www.ReverbNation.com/HauntedGypsy

“Silent Night” with electric guitar and drums, the way it’s supposed to be!

 

“Happy Christmas,” featuring Curtis Orange w/Santa beard on drums:

 

“Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer”

 

“Carol of the Bells”

 

“Ave Maria”

 

This original Christmas song (yep, I wrote it) streamed live on Periscope (Twitter) :

https://www.pscp.tv/guitargrrrl/1kvJpkEQPabGE

 

 

On this Christmas Day, Saying Thanks, and an Original Song

Wonderful li’l Christmas ditty, dedicated to our lovely president and his faithful followers! Such wonderful folks indeed! I’ve had such interesting interactions with their type over the years, these folks I tend to disagree with. Now, I just want to take time from this Christmas holiday to thank them.
Say what?

Yes, I want to thank the disagreeables, the ones who don’t like my thoughts on poverty and homelessness because they think all homeless people are addicts or crazy (as if there aren’t rich addicts and crazies,) the ones who don’t want women to express opinions on the Internet, the ones who think student loan debtors should be punished for going to college and not having the money to pay for it without taking out loans, and (Horror of horrors! Drum roll, please!) my favorite trolls of all: the ones who don’t like my music, my writing or my videos. Yikes!
How can some people have such poor taste for entertainment? Amazing!

Anyway, I could go on and on. Everyone’s got an opinion. Opinions are like… a–holes, remember? Everyone’s got one. The sexiest and best-dressed among us  has one too! They’re just better at hiding it with their fancy clothes…
Yipee!
Anyhow, I want to take this moment to thank my detractors, my nemeses, my trippy trolls, the banes of my existence. Thank you! You’ve really helped to keep me humble, keep me on my toes, keep me questioning, thinking, rethinking, and re-rethinking. I’m surrounded by so many of you right now, and I’ve learned so much from you, am continuing to learn. So thank you!!!

If you’re one of the above types of people and you’re reading this blog right now (Yes, detractors will read your blogs, listen to your music, watch your videos, etc., then complain about you and your work ’cause they’re lifeless and they aren’t creating anything themselves, sadly,) but if that does describe you, then you’re probably complaining to yourself right now: “Oh, who does she think she is? Ew, she thinks she’s so smart. Ew, why is she expressing her opinions? Ew, why does she think she’s so great? Ew, why is she writing a blog right now. I don’t like it!”
Ha ha! thank you! Really, thanks!
You see, I’ve learned to appreciate the bad with the good. The bad apples teach us to be grateful for the good apples. Bad apples also teach us to look for the good apples, and when we find them, to realize they don’t need to be so good, that there is another side, another way to be, yet some people choose consistently to be kind, giving, nice, and compassionate–even when they don’t need to be that way! Again, amazing!
So to the all the trolls out there: Thanks so much for giving me a chance to learn tolerance for opinions different from my own, patience, because not everyone has learned what I’ve learned, forgiveness, because no one is perfect, empathy, because often people are doing the best they can–from their own point of view anyhow, kindness, because it makes the world a better place and brings out the best in others, and compassion for those less fortunate than I am, because there, but for the grace of God, go I.  And things can always be worse!
No matter how poor I am, I’m still able to recognize those who are worse off than I am. And even if I’m unable to help them, I’m still able to care. That is something to be grateful for. Think of those poor, unfortunate souls who have tons of money and material possessions but don’t have the ability to love others, nor to appreciate what they have, to be grateful and to reach out to those in need and help them, truly help them. Those are people who will never truly feel love and spiritual fulfillment. But they look great on the outside, so most people don’t notice how poor they are on the inside.

Yes, sometimes there are no big things to appreciate, so we need to appreciate the little things. But this is really no small thing. The ability to have empathy, to imagine walking in another’s shoes, to genuinely feel sorry that someone else is suffering, that ability is a gift.
Some people (not mentioning any names here, but they often spend a lot of time in a big house that’s white and located in a city that’s considered to also be in the District of Columbia–d.c.,) some people have lots of money and power, yet they are powerless when it comes to being truly human. They simply don’t know how to care about other people!
Anyhow, on that note, here’s a song–> Wrote this song last year. Will make an updated recording, but in the meantime (busy cooking… and eating… eating… cooking… Bah! It’s a hectic schedule!)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJmmNynPMUk&list=PLm-ZsgnJX4P0exQwGhEpkgOM0V3pwJ-rJ&index=4
 https://youtu.be/BIGQTuF9PVA?list=PLm-ZsgnJX4P0exQwGhEpkgOM0V3pwJ-rJ

And now this…

I seem to be in tune with the zeitgeist. That is, I am just about one step (Okay, sometimes two or three steps) ahead of what is universally about to be acknowledge en masse all around me. Consequently, many people think I’m crazy… until… lo’ and behold: suddenly, thousands of people are saying the same things I’ve been saying for weeks, months, years (dare I admit to decades?) Turns out lots of people who disagreed with me for years and years, now suddenly agree with me. Hmm…

Right now,  one such topic of discussion across the country is sexual harassment. It’s a nonpartisan subject because, unfortunately, sexism is so universal in the USA that most people just accept it as normal. It’s like the water that flows out of your faucet; the sun that rises every morning. We take it for granted. While many other countries around the world have long since had women leaders, we’ve never had a woman president, or even a vice president here in the USA. Political discussions broadcast publicly are typically conducted by wealthy, older, white men, as though the rest of us can’t/shouldn’t share in the political analysis, and that doesn’t occur to most Americans as odd. It’s just business as usual.

The internet helps and hurts–helps by bringing us together, hurts by allowing sociopaths to easily hide behind anonymous usernames from which they violently attack their victims (usually women and girls who attempt to engage in the political discussion by expressing their opinions online.)

So…

I went on Facebook today, and felt inspired to post another link to my blog and to reveal details of my life I probably shouldn’t, i.e., my own experiences with sexual harassment. Yes, sexual harassment has been a huge part of my life, unfortunately.

Looking through my blogs today, I realized that a blog I’d written over the summer is very relevant… apropos… right now.

I don’t like to talk about this much, but since it’s timely, I will:

Most women who move to Hollywood/Hollyweird will experience sexual harassment. It’s just business as usual in the entertainment industry. Has been for decades. Young, attractive women trying to get into the entertainment industry (actresses especially) often will not succeed unless they give in to it on some level.

Yes, sexual harassment exists in every industry. In fact, I’m sorry to say that it has played a big role in my life–within and without the entertainment industry. It’s a larger part of my life than I care to admit to, even to myself sometimes.

The first time a boy tried to rape me, I was probably 6 or 7. He was another kid, just a couple years older than I. Back then, I had stronger vocal cords. (Oh Lord, what happened to them? Maybe I wore them out that day.) Screamed at the top of my little lungs, scaring the heck out of him, then ran home faster than spark lightning. Ah, the good old days…

Business as usual for most of us girls. Nothing to see here, folks. Nothing to see.  Just everyday sexism. A day in the life of a girl.

What happened, little girl? Everything okay? Oh, another pervert? Well, maybe we shouldn’t let you have the freedom to walk down the street anymore. Girls need to be protected, right? After all, boys will be boys. They certainly aren’t going to change.

Oh no, my parents never said anything like that, silly. American society said all that, and it continues to say it over and over again to girls and women throughout our lives. Victim of an attack? Well, it’s your own fault! What made you think you had a right to walk down the street all by yourself? To dress the way you want? To talk to other people? To be independent? Only boys have that kind of freedom.

No, I don’t live in the Middle East. I live in the USA.

And boys will be… boys. So… what does it mean to be a boy?

 

Second time, I was working in a restaurant. A guy had been harassing me for weeks and getting away with it because–now, get this: the women I worked with, including the manager, believe it or not, blamed me for his behavior. “Why is he harassing you, not us?” they demanded to know. Obviously there was something wrong with me that was causing him to harass me, from their point of view. (Oh, and no, I was NOT dressed provocatively. Fast food restaurant uniforms with ketchup stains on them and the smell of stale salad dressing is NOT attractive.) Frankly, if I had shown up to work in a sexy burger costume, swaying my voluptuous, lettuce-like hips to and fro (Oh dear!), I think that would have scared him away–buns and all! Extra mayo? I think not!

***

What turned him on was my reserved, shy demeanor and my lack of interest in sex with him. Yep, it was my utter lack of sexiness that had awakened his libido. It made him feel strong and powerful to intimidate someone like me, someone too passive to fight back, someone desperate for a job who didn’t want to lose her job no matter what, someone who had to be there ’cause she needed the money. Yes, rapists are bullies who deep, down inside are cowards. They choose victims who they think can’t/won’t fight back. Doesn’t take much courage to do that. Sexual harassment and rape are power struggles. They have little to do with sex but a lot to do with wielding power over another person. And here’s another news flash: it’s pretty hard to defend yourself when everyone around you is blaming you for someone else’s actions. You start questioning yourself, second guessing, and there’s the creepy idea that if you did fight back, if you maybe kicked him in the balls or something, that somehow you’d be the one who’d get arrested. Can’t win.

Generally speaking, women tend to be more passive than men. Most of us are not socialized to fight back. We’re taught to be mothers, to be nurturing, supportive, and to run away from male violence (or worse, to excuse it) rather than to confront it. (That needs to change. Violence against women will never end until we women stand up for each other and fight back in some way. Of course, I’m not suggesting violence, but we need to confront and take action, to stop running away.)

***

So… the harassment carried on until it escalated. Another male coworker began joining in on the “fun,” so now I had two coworkers constantly making remarks at me while I tried to ignore them and just do my job. (I needed the money very badly!) Then… one day, I had to go into the cooler to pull out some food for the kitchen, and he followed me in! Then… Wham! Bam! No, thank you, ma’am! He lunged at me and tried to force himself on me. Fortunately, a female coworker walked in, and the two of us together fought him off. (He wasn’t a big muscle-bound guy, but he was very aggressive, strung out on adrenaline, no doubt.)

I ran out of that cooler, let the manager know I was quitting, then ran home once again, but this time I was unemployed and devastated. This time, I was a young adult in charge of supporting myself.

What hurt the most wasn’t just the physical assault but the psy-op, if you will. I mean, the mind games my female coworkers were playing, as though they were jealous of me, as though I were the one who had done something wrong. “Why is he giving you, and not us, all that attention?” While some of my male coworkers were concerned about me and tried to look out for me, my boss, a woman, had the power to fire that man, but instead she and all of my female coworkers viewed me with contempt, as though I’d brought this harassment on myself. We women have a hard time supporting each other, don’t we?

As I mentioned earlier, sexual harassment has been a big part of my life, so these are not the only experiences I’ve had, just the most dramatic. Possibly I’ll write more in future blogs. Above, I wrote of attempted rapes. The other, unwritten, instances were attempts to ruin my career, my life, or just to make me feel miserable, but they didn’t always involve physical violence. Obviously, these are not things I like to think about much, and writing about them makes me think about them, so… I don’t usually do that, but…

maybe it needs to be written. It’s a history, my history (her-story?) and, like it or not, it has shaped who I’ve become–somewhat of a recluse at times, and most definitely single. How do you connect with men when so many of them want to physically or psychologically harm you?

I am not a hater. There are men in my life who I love dearly. But trust? Trust is another thing entirely.

I’ve joked about this onstage, even wrote a song called, “Not a Stripper,” about struggling in Los Angeles, realizing that the only decent-paying jobs for women involved stripping. Not only that, but strippers got roles in film and TV–regardless of whether or not they’d studied acting. Men hold most of the powerful positions in the entertainment industry. So… if you strip for a man, maybe he’ll help your career? Might give you the lead role?

But if you say no? Then what will he give you? A ruined career? A ruined life? Stalking? Harassment? Or just an eerie silence when you realize that no one wants to hire you anymore?

The icing on the cake for me was leaving Los Angeles in tears and being advised by friends that I should have “used my charm” and my “good looks” to get men to help me succeed. Why was someone as pretty as me (yes, people thought I was pretty back in La La Land) struggling financially? Why, oh why, hadn’t I learned that the real way to make money wasn’t to go to college and earn good grades but just have sex with people you don’t like? (In fact, nobody likes those people. That’s why they have to bully and intimidate young, struggling women to sleep with them–or else!) Pretty pathetic when you have to threaten people in order to get them to sleep with you, eh?

Eh? Ole!

It’s sort of a rite of passage for every woman who wants to succeed in the entertainment industry. You must learn to allow men to treat you like a sex object. Just let them fondle you, and let them know you’re flirty and okay with whatever they might want to do to you, and guess what? They might let you obtain a little bit of success… as long as you don’t acquire enough power in the industry to compete with them ’cause then you’ll be able to fight back.

Sinead O’Connor–and all the Suffering Souls of the World: Learn to Love Yourself, Please

Came across this video of Sinead O’Connor–yes, Sinead O’Connor, the performer. I left a rather lengthy comment after watching the video and realized it was more a blog than a commentary. The comment space wasn’t large enough to contain my big ideas… (What else is new? Me and my overly-enthused typing fingers… Oy vey!)

While I don’t want to preach or pontificate, I feel compelled to respond when I see someone suffering out loud like this. (By out loud, I mean in public, for all to see.) Most of us hide our true selves when faced before a potentially judgmental crowd of onlookers, but celebs, I suppose, are used to wearing their hearts on their sleeves. (Or perhaps they’re just resigned to their privacy being regularly violated.)

Yes, a lot of people suffer in this world. That always will be true, but most of us don’t want to see it or be reminded of it. When we’re forced to witness human suffering, it is so easy for us to issue empty platitudes:

“Don’t worry, be happy! Things’ll get better. Look at the bright side! You’re lucky to be alive! Blah blah blah blah blah blah!”

We say those things to comfort each other, but often such clichés trivialize the complex challenges and sometimes catastrophic calamities that befall some people in this life. Believe it or not, life is not fair. Some people suffer more than others in this world, and through no fault of their own.

Our society has become dangerously impersonal. We hide behind memorized platitudes when we don’t know what to say to each other anymore, or worse, when we lack empathy and compassion for each other but want to keep up kinder, gentler appearances. Spewing out pleasantries like “Cheer up” is all we know how to do when we don’t really care. Empathy, I fear, is becoming a lost art.

An impersonal society like ours, a society in which people rarely connect face-to-face, is dangerous. This lack of intimacy leads to sociopathic behavior. And these detached, impersonal, digitized interactions are not making us happy.

Yet we interact on social media sites such as Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, etc., especially when we’re lonely. Certainly, we can reach out to people we’d normally never meet–people who live on other continents thousands of miles away. We can start a connection. That’s great!

Ultimately, though, we need to connect in a more direct and intimate way to form genuine, lasting relationships that truly fulfill us. Social media is a good way to begin a connection with others, but that is unfinished business. Facebook is the last place where we should go when we’re lonely and need real, honest, long-term relationships that will still be there for us on our darkest days.

We need public spaces. We need public places where we can sit down with other people and just talk face-to-face. Places where we can point out each other’s milk mustaches and remove the cat hair from each other’s sweaters. Places where we not only support each other but recognize each other’s flaws so that we help ourselves to grow and repair what we can and to accept our imperfect selves when we cannot. Places where we prepare each other to face the general public and bravely make a good impression on it again.

Face-to-face, we see each other, smell each other, touch each other, breathe the same air, get tanned by the hot sun together. We hear the angry tone of his voice while he says he’s not angry, see the tear in the eye while she smiles and says everything’s great. Sitting down and talking face-to-face, we learn more about each other in one half hour than in the hundreds of Facebook messages we’ve exchanged over the course of a year.

Sinead O’Connor is a celebrity. She’s rich and famous–everyone’s dream!–yet she’s unhappy. How can that be? It can be because money and material things don’t buy love. Good people–people who are kind and loving and supportive of you, people who truly love YOU–aren’t going to care about how much  money you have, so you won’t attract them to you with your money. You’ll just attract people who want some of your money, your fame, etc., if you use those things to bring people into your life.

Personally, I think O’Connor is a very talented and highly intelligent person who’s given us all great music. But now, she needs to give something to herself–self love!

It’s hard for me to say this because, these days, there are so many people who practice too much self love. I mean, extreme selfishness is pretty much destroying our society. Yet even so, there are still some people who don’t love themselves enough. Oddly enough, some of these people are rich and famous. They had enough self love to further their careers but not enough to sustain a healthy relationship with themselves. Who knew? How now?

Turns out fame and fortune doesn’t necessarily make people happy. Big surprise! No matter how much love other people send in our direction, we still need to love ourselves. Because even the most famous and wealthy person on the planet has his/her detractors. Yes, there will always be someone who loves us and someone who hates us. Haters gonna hate!

No matter how wonderful you are, how brilliant your work, how relevant you are to the betterment of our society, or how many millions of devoted fans you have, there will always be someone somewhere who doesn’t like you and what you do. Heck, look what happened to Jesus, to Martin Luther King…

So we need to love ourselves enough to let go of the haters and focus on the lovers. We need to follow the light, so to speak, not only for our own sake, but for the sake of all the lovers out there who need to connect with us, who need our light to lead them away from their gang of haters.

Our society is becoming increasingly impersonal and unloving. Very disturbing really.  I believe we, as a society, are creating mental illness. (Aw, can’t we just blame genetics or biochemical imbalances in the brain for mental illness? Do we have to accept responsibility for our actions toward other people?)

Yes, we do need to be responsible for what we say and do and how it affects others. The filter of technology makes it easy for people to be cruel and callous to each other, but it doesn’t have to be that way. People, we can relate to each other honestly and face-to-face. I think most of us still know how to do that. But if we’ve forgotten how, there is a way to learn again. If the powers that be (a.k.a., the PTB) won’t bring back public spaces then we must create them ourselves. We can invite people to come together to meet and talk in our own backyards. We can smile and say hello to strangers and share moments with other humans. Why not take a bus to work instead of driving one day just to see who else is traveling in your direction?

My message to those who are suffering with family or friends who are not loving and supportive is this: just let go of your dysfunctional family and accept yourself. You can’t change them, so don’t even try.

Often those of us who come from unloving families keep trying to get them to love us, support us, agree with us, etc. We think we can change them. Fact is,  harsh as it may sound, we need to give up on them, forget about them and what they’re doing and just move on.

It’s possible to create a better family for ourselves through good, honest and trustworthy friendships with better quality people. Yes, it’s possible to reinvent one’s self and form new, healthier relationships. But first, we need to love and accept ourselves. I believe that self love can be learned. Practice being kind and compassionate toward yourself (as well as to others.) Practice random acts of kindness–toward yourself as well as toward others. Practice talking back to those negative thoughts in your head. Chances are they come from the voices of the dysfunctional family, the terrible things they’ve said to you in the past.

Look, nobody’s perfect. There’s nothing wrong with being imperfect. In fact, perfection is boring! Think of how bored and depressed you’d get if you really had no problems at all. If you looked in the mirror and thought you looked perfect, the room, the house, the world around you was all perfect, then there’d be no need for cosmetics, makeup, rearranging the furniture, painting the walls, etc. Nothing to be done there. If everything just went your way, everyone agreed with everything you said, everyone liked you automatically, then there’d be nothing special about the people who loved you (since everyone loves you anyway) and nothing special about you that attracted them to you (since you’re perfect and, therefore, not very unique since everyone likes you automatically.)  If everything in the entire world was perfect, then there’d be nothing to change, and nothing… to… do. Whew! Nothing to change? Nothing to write about? People don’t need to be informed of anything when everything stays the same. Things will stay the same, you know, when everything’s perfect.

And that’s not even considering the fact that what is perfect for one is imperfect for another. Do you like snow? Then a perfect day for you would be a snowy one, yes? There was a time when I too felt that way, but those days are gone for now. Right now, I prefer warm, dry, sunny and non-snowy days. Are you too shy? Is that your imperfection? Well, guess what? Some of us are attracted to shy people. Shy, for us, is just perfect! Perfection is not only undesirable but it is impossible when so many people disagree as to what it actually is.

We all have flaws. That’s what makes us human. That’s also what makes us interesting. Without our flaws, we’d be robotic and boring, to say the least. And the very qualities that some people don’t like about you are the same qualities that other people will LOVE about you. It’s a matter of seeking out the lovers and weeding out the haters… We need to find the people who will lift us up when we’re down. Sometimes it’s hard, I know. But those people are out there. Find them.

Corny as it sounds, I believe that each one of us is a miracle just because we’re alive. If the people in your life aren’t showing you love then they don’t deserve you. Period. Stop trying to change them or to get their attention. Just drop them. Stay away from people who are emotionally abusive. Life is too short! If you keep spending time with people who make you feel bad, you’ll always feel bad. This is especially true for people who are clinically depressed: You need to take extra care of your mental health, if you’re in that state of mind. That means going the extra mile toward avoiding things, people and situations that make you unhappy.

Find people who’ll give you the love, support and kindness you deserve. Find the people who’ll appreciate the uniqueness that is YOU. They are out there! Don’t settle for less. You deserve better. (This is true of all of us.)

I know it’s hard, but hang in there. There are good people in the world. But we don’t usually find them when we’re focused on the bad ones. That’s why it’s important to drop the haters, even if they’re family, and just move on to other relationships. If you feel bad after spending time with someone then something’s wrong. That relationship isn’t working for you. There’s a whole big world out there filled with good, kind, compassionate people who’ll always be there for you when you need them and whose spirits are compatible with yours. Seek and ye’ shall find!

Perhaps the secret lies in cultivating love and compassion within ourselves, sharing it with others then attracting the right people to us.

So…

Take it easy. Take it easy on yourself. Take it easy on the people around you. We all have our “cross to bear.” We all have our troubles. Human beings are mortal beings. Sooner or later, we’ll suffer somehow. We’ll get sick. Our friends and family will get sick. They’ll die. We’ll die. It’s sad but true. Life’s hard for many of us. Life is often unfair. Some people are cruel for no reason. Others are kind but never rewarded.

So…

What’s the point?

The point is, we’re all here. We’re all human. We’re sharing this planet together–rich, poor, male, female, white, black, pro-Trump, pro-Hillary, pro-Bernie, whatever. Please, please, let’s learn to be kind to each other. Let’s learn to be patient and understanding, to give each other a little leeway. Nobody’s perfect. That’s what makes life interesting. Do we really want other people to be exactly like us? What would it be like to walk down the street and run into…ourselves on the street? Pretty creepy, wouldn’t you say? Running into other people who have different perspectives than we do can be so enlightening, so refreshing, can really help us to think outside the box. We need all the many different kinds of people who are out there (except maybe for the violent ones…we don’t really need them so much.) But we do need a variety of people. And the people we don’t like or who don’t treat us well just help us to appreciate the ones we love so much  more. So they too have their purpose!

Look, we all need to collectively “chill out” and remember why we’re here. We’re not here to work. We’re not here to pay our bills. We’re not here to worry about what other people should be or shouldn’t be doing. We’re not even here to protest against the status quo (although that is an activity that might achieve some results.)

Just sayin’…

Ultimately, we’re here to love, to love each other, our friends, our family… We’re here to enjoy life because it’s short, so very short. Before you know it, it’ll have passed you by. Yesterday, you were 18, but now you’re 65. Where did the time go?

So people, can we please, please, please stop fighting? Stop putting each other down? Stop judging each other? Stop holding each other back?

Stop and smell the roses. Look up at the sky, at the stars. Watch the sun go down and the moon rise up. Listen to the birds sing in the morning. To the children giggling and playing in the backyard. Take a moment to listen, look, smell, touch, and taste it all… And remember that our time here really is very, very short.

So let’s try to enjoy this moment. And if that isn’t possible, maybe it’s time to pack up and leave where we are in this moment, to move to a better place, surround ourselves with a better crowd because unhappiness is just a waste of time. If you’re unhappy, don’t put up with it. Don’t settle. Leave. Find your tribe. Don’t waste time. Go out into the world and find your place within it. You were born here on this planet, so, yes, you do belong here. Find your home. It’s waiting for you.

Some of us are poor financially. Some of us are poor spiritually. The former is difficult to control, but the latter is within our reach. Cultivate your spirit. Surround yourself with loving people. Do what you love as often as possible. Spread that love to everyone around you.

Okay, that’s enough preaching for today. My sermon has ended, and it’s way past my bedtime.

Namaste, babies!

Infringing Upon Established Venues… Gigs for the Masses!

Thanks to everyone who came out to see Meria/Haunted Gypsy (as well as other unsigned artists) at the Infringement shows this season…

‘Twas fun indeed. Hmm… Let’s see now… We played at Electric Ave with some awesome bands, including Tim Haufe from NYC who performed a great set.

At the aptly named Gypsy Parlor, we trained some newbie audience members in the fine art of heckling. ‘Tis an art that must be perfected! We LOVE our hecklers! They performed well… so, congrats to you, our now seasoned hecklers. And those guys who kept shouting, “Woo!” That was awesome! Thanks for the Woo’s!

P1230987

(above photo by Pam Swarts)

 

Woo who?

An audience member braved a rain storm to hear Meria strum an acoustic solo guitar set at Allentown Music. Much appreciated. (Playing guitar in a room full of musical instruments was amazing.) Their new location on Amherst truly rocks.

photo by Cappixx

BTW, some of us locals feel sorry that the music store was forced out of its location in Elmwood Village. EV is/was Buffalo’s arts district, and removing a music store detracts from that. Very disappointing. Arts districts build up otherwise declining cities. Too bad the powers that be, a.k.a., PTB, don’t appreciate that. Artists build up deteriorating neighborhoods then get pushed out by rising rents and ungrateful landlords who capitalize on the work that we artists create. Yes, that really is how I feel about it.

photo by Cappixx

Felt the same way about Rust Belt Books which was forced to leave Allentown only to run into the welcoming arms of Grant Street. Okay, but Grant Street already has West Side Stories, another good book store. Now Allentown has… pizza, poutine, Jim’s Steakout at 3 a.m. and Greek food, no longer available at 3 a.m. Food but no books, and now no music store. So… food remains in Allentown/EV. It’s the culture that had to go. Why?

Still, from the point of view of Allentown Music, the new location may prove to be an asset. Lots more space and a chance to regroup, to gain a whole new clientele (myself included, as their new location is closer par moi.) I have high hopes that this small, locally-owned music store will benefit in this new environment but the EV neighborhood has lost one business that contributed to its cultural development. One day, the PTB will realize their mistake.

photo by Cappixx

Anywho… (Yes, I do mean any “who.”)

Who? You! You who! Yoohoo, Yahoo!

An enthusiastic audience gathered in front of El Buen Amigo for an outdoor solo guitar performance on a sunny summer day. Really appreciate you guys for sitting down to watch me play out on the street! It was very encouraging! I wonder whether you audiences realize what a difference you make for us performers. We need you! We love you! You are you, and that is AWESOME!  (Isn’t it great to be told that you are awesome?) In fact, you are very, very awesome. I’d say that again, and again, but I need to move on to writing the next paragraph. My readers get eye strain real bad, so I gotta be real concise and get straight to the point…

Ehem.

And of course, there was the set at Mohawk Place. That one kept us up pretty late…  The bands were all amazing, and I will (I hope) repair my computer so that I can upload the video footage of some great bands, including Pam Swarts who can break glass with her power vocal cords. Yes, Pam has vocal cords so strong that they have broken people’s dishes! That’s why some of us drink out of paper or plastic cups while we watch her sing… though paper is more environmentally friendly…

photo by Cappixx

Okay, enough silliness…

So now… it’s onward and upward… to focus on recording–video and audio. Meria’s computer’s still on the mend but working well enough to upload so lots more videos being posted here–> www.youtube.com/guitargrrrella

Here are some other sites where you can view some music videos, should you prefer a Youtube alternative:

HauntedGypsy on DailyMotion

HauntedGypsy on Vimeo

Infringement photos from 2017 will go up soon… if/when Meria’s computer lives again.

Until that fateful day arrives…  Keep on rockin’ in the (un)free world!

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The Land of La… La La Land and that American Dream I Have Every Night

While I currently find myself living in rust-belt hell, I felt compelled to respond to yet another artist making a conscious choice to leave Los Angeles. So many of us creative types end up there, in the City of Earthquakes. Frankly, I miss the weather and miss constantly running into other, like-minded creatives. But what I don’t miss is watching all the creative people I knew suffer, struggle, and eventually, destroy themselves and everything that made them great artists in the process.

Listen, people move to Los Angeles all the time. People from all over the world come to the City of La La. They think they’re going to be discovered by some all-powerful agent, manager or blah, blah, blah. (Hint: if you are a young woman and most men find you attractive, just about every guy you meet in LA will have that great power to “discover” you and make you “big” in Hollyweird.) Yep, real big.

There’s just a… uh… little something you’ll need to give him in return. (Remember, he is a producer, has lots of connections and you do owe him something, right?) Oh yeah. You’d better owe him something. Pay him back. Now. Or else.

Anyone up for being a prostitute in Hollyweird? Is that why you took all those acting classes? Was that what made you love theatre so much? Why you strum that guitar? Why you wrote that heartfelt song that still brings tears to your eyes when you play it? 

But we can forget who we are and whom we truly were meant to be. Rather than being “discovered” in Hollyweird, most of us end up losing ourselves. What we discover is rather sinister–the dark side of human nature. Some people see our desperation, how much we long to “make it,” and they will use that longing they see radiating from us like a damaged aura, a mispainted, dark rainbow hovering over us. (It never rains in California, unless you’re a starving artist who moves there to work within the entertainment industry.) And they will seize the opportunity, like vultures do. That’s how they do!

(Okay, enough of this poor attempt at holiday weekend writing. I think you get the idea of what I’m trying to say.)

If you’ve ever lived in Los Angeles and dabbled in the entertainment industry, you already know that by “vulture” I really mean “sociopath.” But that term is used so loosely these days by people who don’t truly understand its meaning that I think vulture will better understood by most here. Yes, I do try to cater to the masses!

Everyone in Los Angeles wants something from you. What is that something? A connection. Not a spiritual or even a social connection, mind you. A capitalist connection. A connection that will lead them toward being wanted by the wealthiest and most famous among us. A connection with you that will help them to succeed financially and politically. They want fame so that others will grovel over them, will bow to them, will kiss their heinies. Yes, that’s what I wrote: heinies!

(By the way, www.Merriam-Webster.com defines “heinie” as “buttocks,” in case you didn’t already know that. And the first known use of the word was back in 1921. These are our nether regions, our be-hinds, the back parts. Do you really want someone with a clean mouth to kiss you there? If you’re in Los Angeles, most likely the answer to that would be “yes!”)

So when you live in Los Angeles, you can’t trust anyone there. Everyone is just using and being used by everyone else. Want authentic relationships? Go elsewhere.

And heaven forbid you are a woman who turns 30! And if you aren’t slutty, don’t like to let men grope you and drivel all over you like a fresh piece of meat? Well… what are you doing in Los Angeles?

The objectification and subjection of women in Los Angeles is shocking. Oh… I’m using terminology that some won’t/can’t read again. Okay, let me put it like this:

Women are treated like sh*t in Los Angeles. You can’t turn 30 if you’re a woman. You just can’t. In fact, all the “men’s rights” nut jobs lurking on the Internet should pack their bags and fly to LA. Once there, they can call themselves “producers” and inform every female they meet of their elevated status. The fact that all they produce is bullsh*t won’t matter. Feminists won’t stop them from making it with women! No matter how ugly, socially incompetent and downright psychotic they may be, if they call themselves “producers,”  some women might actually take an interest in them. (All their anger at feminists–for giving women choices–will dissipate. Women don’t have a lot of choices in the male-run entertainment industry. They’re used to spending time with defective men out of desperation.) In LA, treating women like pieces of meat is the thang. Men’s rights! Ha ha ha!

Unfortunately, the American Dream mythology is still alive and well. Some people are addicted to it. It’s a highly-addictive drug. Worse than any illegal substance. And they’ll never let it go, even on their death bed while they’re dying unloved, unwanted and penniless. Some people aren’t even in America, yet they believe it. They watch America on TV, and they know full well that it’s the greatest country in the world, the land of opportunity where anyone can strike it rich by giving enough blow jobs… I mean… Oops, I didn’t write that. That was a… that was an error. What I meant was… by working hard. Yes, working hard pays off here in the USA. Being hard… I mean, working hard, and doing all the right things. Like giving blow jobs to rich people…

Oh no! OMG, no!!! You did not read that here! Please, tell me you did not read that here!

Look, you don’t need to kiss a$$ here in the USA in order to succeed. The American Dream is alive and well (in fantasy fiction and on TV. I’ve also heard it sung about in the schools. They really want kids to believe they can pursue their dreams. It’s okay to dream when you’re a child. Will make you a better worker later on.)

Anyhow, what was I writing about just now? Oh yes. I was writing about Los Angeles, and what a wonderful place it is (not) for creative people to live.

Actually, I found a lot of opportunities for me as a creative person in Los Angeles. I just couldn’t keep myself under the age of 30 forever, and I didn’t want to sleep with everyone I met. I guess I’m a bit of a prude. Also I’m not a sociopath, so I have difficulty using and being used by everyone I meet. I naively thought I could just be good at what I do and be recognized for it. If I’d been born a sociopathic white man, that could have been true, especially if I were under 30 and had rich relatives available to send me money when my artistic ventures didn’t yield me enough for rent that month.   

So… yes, there are people who succeed in Los Angeles. And then there are those of us who realize that being the best artist we can be is more in line with being ourselves and building on our own personal strengths. Being discovered for who we really are is better than being uncovered while pretending to be something we’re not. Trying to be “a star” is like begging for a stamp of approval to be slapped across our faces so that corporate America and The Power says we’re okay. We’re good little capitalists… Not like the rock stars from the 60s who protested the war but more like today’s stars who just look pretty on TV and urge their fans to buy the products advertised throughout.

Ugh! Why did I write so much? I guess I’ve just lived through too much. Been through too much to be shallow. Part of me envies the Hollyweird sociopaths. They take what they want. No matter what they have to do to get it, they’ll do it. Sleep with whomever. Step on the toes of whomever. Do… whatever.

But that isn’t me. Neither is the rust belt. Most of us artist types are bohemian. We wander until we find our home. And when home becomes too dysfunctional, we wander again. I miss the days when I could dream. Those Hollywood days. But those days are gone. Not just for me. America has lost its dream. I’m just one of many starving artists still mourning the loss but learning to accept what this country has become. Like Hollywood, we want to believe it’s possible. Then reality asserts itself.

The land of opportunity has been taken over by opportunists. Where should we move to now?

Day Job Dilemma – Working Hard, Hardly Working or Just Not Having Time for Your Art?

Working seven-days-a-week is sometimes what we need to do to earn a living these days (due to shrinking salaries mismatching with rising costs of living.) And it sure does interfere with one’s ability to practice one’s instrument effectively.

Sure, I go through the motions of practicing scales, chord progressions and going over songs long since written… But in terms of getting inspired, of writing new songs or experimenting with new, original ideas and material, well, uh… that takes time.

I notice it on the rare days when I have off. Sometimes it takes more than one day for me to get the creative juices flowing. More than one day of freedom from working at a job that’s completely unrelated to the flow, I suppose you could say.

Don’t get me wrong. These days, one is lucky to have a job at all. But we artist types need time for our art. Generally that means this kind of a job:

–part time but pays enough to live on and to buy the equipment and materials we need in order to pursue our art. Creating art of any kind (whether it’s painting, playing music, or writing poetry) takes time. It takes an incredible amount of time to perfect any art form. Sadly, most non-artists don’t realize how much time and work we serious artists put into our what we do. If we got paid for all the time and energy we expended most of us would be millionaires–not the starving artists the majority of us become.

–flexible, offering flexible hours so that if we get a “gig,” we can take the time off needed in order to pursue. When we can’t make our art our priority then we can’t succeed at our art.

–either related to our art or not so demanding that we feel too drained to pursue our art when we come home. Sure, some people can come home from a soul-sucking job and write, paint, dance, or otherwise create it out, but most of the time a job that drains the life out of us leaves us uninspired. Many potentially talented artists lose their art this way.

Do we really want a society without art? Yes. I think some people do. They’d like to destroy every artist on the planet. We artists think for ourselves. We’re too independently minded to just follow the rules and blindly obey authority figures. We think outside the box and come up with new ideas that defy the old and established ones.

But as a whole, our society will crumble without art. Art keeps us mentally healthy. It gives us joy, even in dark times. We need art and so, we need artists.

Blah, blah, blah. Here I go, preaching again.

Onward and upward.

It’s back to work now in day job heaven. Talk to you soon… in hell.

 

NYC – performing at the Leftfield Bar in Manhattan

Playing in NYC was awesome. Unfortunately, some of the footage didn’t turn out well, and some of it… er… well, it accidentally got deleted.

Still got some watchable footage though. Meghan Tully sat in on the drums. Having never heard the songs before in her life, she just jumped right in there and played along.

Here’s the video:

 

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Sunday morning and John Lennon, a long lost hippie, gone but not forgotten…

“Sunday morning, brings the dawning,

It’s just a restless feeling by my side…”   Velvet Underground

I don’t know why, but I woke up this past Sunday morning hearing that old Velvet Underground song playing in my head. I was thinking of John Lennon, my favorite hippie of all time and that the anniversary of his death–Dec. 8th, 1980–had just passed me by on Thursday. I usually write a little something about Lennon every year around the anniversary of his death. (Oh, but why celebrate the death and not the birth? You may well ask that very question…)

I think the day a beloved person dies is the last time we had a chance to share the world with him. So we remember that day when he shined his light upon us for one last time. It was a day when we knew we’d never have the person around us again. Ever. His last day on earth. Our last day to feel his light upon us while we continue to live here on earth.

 

“It’s just the wasted years so close behind…

Watch out, the world’s behind you…”   __Velvet Underground,“Sunday Morning”

 

So… as I often do on the anniversary of Lennon’s death, I reminisce on the kindness, the sweetness, the innocence of a people (the American people!) that’s long since past us by.

 

Check out this video demonstrating Lennon’s kindness and his sense of responsibility and connection to his fellow human being. (Scene begins at 4:00):

Take a good look at this video because it reflects a time that’s past us by–a time when people were not so consumed with fear, with materialism, with selfishness. A time when there was not as large of a division between the rich and the poor. A time when a millionaire (i.e., John Lennon) might start an honest conversation with a homeless person. (The dialogue with the homeless man begins just before 4:00–about four minutes into the video.)

Can we imagine (hmm… “Imagine”–What a word choice!) a famous celebrity doing any thing at all like this today? The only celebrity I can  think of might be Russell Brand. Brand has attempted dialogues with neo-nazis and the Westboro Baptist Church. Not an easy endeavor. Only someone who truly loves people could embark on such an adventure (misadventure?)

Click HERE to read the rest of this exciting blog!

www.FlowRChilde.tumblr.com

 

 

 

 

Why Gypsy Rock?

Why gypsy rock? Well… because it’s there…

Meria/Haunted Gypsy is a traveling band. I wander until I find a place I can either call home or at least find kindred spirits for my time spent there. The reality is, my hometown has rendered me homeless. Like every gypsy spirit, I am searching for a place that will stop me from wandering.

Recently, the prayers of the gypsy were answered in the form of an Infringement Festival in Montreal. So… a few of us traveled to Montreal, a city named after a hill–Mont Royal.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/125339210@N05/

It’s a beautiful city, though overcast for most of our time there. We lucked out with good weather though. Unusually warm temperatures for early winter. Who would think of walking around without a winter coat in November in the Northeast of North America? But we did.

montrealnov-2016-11-27-at-6-55-11-pm

Unfortunately, it began to snow on our way out of Montreal. In fact, a blizzard followed us for several hours as I tried to drive us home safely. Yep, I was driving 35-40 mph on the highway. Probably shouldn’t admit to that here on the blogosphere but… Safety first, friends. Safety first.

We got home after 3 a.m. It took us twice as long to return from Montreal as it did to arrive.

I don’t have the videos ready yet to post, so I’ll have to blog more about this later, but wanted to keep an update here. We came, we saw, we played in Montreal and then we left into the snowstorm that blew us back to the rust belt.    sortie-2016-11-27-at-6-54-07-pm

Next weekend is NYC. Let the wandering spirit thrive on!