Opinionated Lesbian : Musichttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/archive/category/1018.aspxen-USCommunityServer 1.1 (Build: 1.1.0.50615)It hits me right therehttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/archive/2006/06/13/4742.aspxTue, 13 Jun 2006 17:19:00 GMT1699ad35-f2dc-4638-baa9-b4a122144f8e:4742eleanor0http://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/comments/4742.aspxhttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/commentrss.aspx?PostID=4742Music is sooo <a href="http://www.opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/archive/2006/06/12/4729.aspx" target="_blank">emotionally manipulative.</a><br><br> If I stop listening to rhythm and melody, I become depressed, and I won't be truly happy again until I hear some <a href="http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/database/horne_l.html" target="_blank">Lena Horne.</a> Or mebbe R.E.M.'s <a href="http://www.sing365.com/music/Lyric.nsf/Stand-lyrics-R-E-M/658A1EA29ACFF30248256894001ED1B6" target="_blank">"Stand,"</a> from 1988.<br><br> I also need new music. Sometimes it replaces something old, sometimes it just gets added to my personal soundtrack, shouldering its way in between the bluegrass and the <a href="http://www.showstudio.com/contributors/index.php/295" target="_blank">Kurt Weil.</a><br><br> But folk music -- folk gets tiring after a while. Repetitive, unless the voice is so sweet that it shivers my synapses, like a bridge resonating in the wind. I've already added a couple of tunes from long-time folkie <a href="http://www.opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/archive/2006/06/12/4726.aspx" target="_blank">Penny Lang's</a> newest CD, "Stone+Sand+Sea+Sky" to the mental repertoire. And yet Lang has a sometimes raspy and at times even slightly off voice. It's a welcome reminder of the import of emotion and charm.<br><br> Twelve of the 13 songs are covers, with delightful arrangements -- producers and engineers <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/radioshows/SOUNDS_LIKE_CANADA/20060510.shtml" target="_blank">Roma Baran</a> and <a href="http://www.pennylang.com/pages/press.shtml" target="_blank">Vivian Stoll</a> have outdone themselves.<br><br> Though Lang recently moved to B.C. after a lifetime in Montreal, she turned to Quebec for much of the talent on this disk (like <a href="http://www.steelrail.ca/LindaMorrison.htm" target="_blank">Linda Morrison</a> and <a href="http://www.concertedefforts.com/artists_mcga.asp" target="_blank">Kate McGarrigle).</a> I'm particularly stuck on the accordion of <a href="http://www.rachellegarniez.com/" target="_blank">Rachelle Garniez</a> in the traditional "Let Me Fly," and on the new arrangement for "Prairie Sky," originally recorded by <a href="http://www.steelrail.ca/" target="_blank">Steel Rail.</a><br><br> Makes me happy. <img src="http://opinionatedlesbian.com/aggbug.aspx?PostID=4742" width="1" height="1">Penny Lang is in my ears and in my eyeshttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/archive/2006/06/12/4726.aspxMon, 12 Jun 2006 14:59:00 GMT1699ad35-f2dc-4638-baa9-b4a122144f8e:4726eleanor1http://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/comments/4726.aspxhttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/commentrss.aspx?PostID=4726<a href="http://www.pennylang.com/pages/news.shtml" target="_blank">Penny Lang</a> is one of those lesbian names that drifts about the outskirts of my brain. She's in there with fellow folkies like <a href="http://www.luciebluetremblay.com" target="_blank">Lucie Blue Tremblay</a> -- I know the moniker, I know there's a queer connection, and then I go back to sleep. Apparently, that's more than most lesbians do.<br><br> As much as we -- we being the queer community -- believe that our loyalty immediately goes to those who have taken courageous steps to be out in public, Lang says she doesn't seem to have much of a lesbian fan base.<br><br> "I don't write radical enough material," she says.<br><br> I met Lang on the patio of a Montreal coffee shop earlier this month (I dutifully rented the chair via a cuppa, she didn't). Lang's mixing a quick holiday with some publicity for her new album, her eighth, <a href="http://www.borealisrecords.com/a_lang.html" target="_blank">"Stone+Sand+Sea+Sky."</a> So I check out the lyrics of the one song she penned ("Diamonds on the Water"): Nope, no Big Message Lesbo Stuff. Just feelings -- some sadness and longing.<br><br> <i>Waiting by the roadside, waiting for you<br> Waiting on the roadside, don't know what to do<br> I got to see the sunshine every day<br> Wanna feel the sunshine every day</i><br><br> Says Lang: "I don't write songs that... lesbian women want to hear. I've never been invited to Michigan." That's the <a href="http://www.michfest.com/" target="_blank">Michigan Womyn's Music Festival,</a> and the "y" gives you the politics. Lang doesn't do "womyn's music... it just hasn't happened."<br><br> In part, she says, that's about privacy. Everyone's entitled, and "I don't particularly want to be put on the job market. I'm 63, not 32, and I like my privacy."<br><br> Having said that, Lang has been out for years. She performed some 20 years ago at a Montreal university group's gay event (she can't recall whether it was <a href="http://www.mcgill.ca/index/?Unit=71196" target="_blank">McGill</a> or <a href="http://queer.concordia.ca/" target=-"_blank">Concordia</a>), and has been open about her sexuality since. "I've talked about it off and on, depending on the audience, on how comfortable I feel." (She's been with partner Nancy, a retired nurse, for 19 years. And just to keep the family info together, son Jason Lang often performs with his mum.)<br><br> Lang was a lifelong Montrealer who left last September, moving to a remote spot in British Columbia, who periodically returns to civilization by ferry or small plane. She was never happy in the concrete jungle, and left soon after her parents died (within a year of each other). "I wanted to be by the ocean, closer to nature. I need the solitude."<br><br> Lang says she hasn't written a song in six years, though she's recently realized that she creates tuneful beginnings while walking through the forest. That's when she begins to hum and sing, but of course the note arrangements are forgotten once she returns home. Future walks will be taken with a recorder, to tape the melodies. Lang says the beginnings of songs are the hardest to create.<br><br> Music has always been important. It "helped calm [her] down" as a child. (She was recently diagnosed with six separate learning disabilities.)<br><br> "I love relating to people through music." And she doesn't get bored of singing the same songs, because she doesn't keep repeating them unless there's a new CD to launch. "I choose the songs very carefully. When you really love the songs you're singing, it's easy to keep them fresh."<br><br> Musical faves include the phrasing and piano of <a href="http://www.ninasimone.com/" target="_blank">Nina Simone,</a> the guitar and tunes of <a href="http://www.bonnieraitt.com/" target="_blank">Bonnie Raitt,</a> and the work of <a href="http://www.etta-james.com/" target="_blank">Etta James</a>, <a href="http://www.oscarpeterson.com/" target="_blank">Oscar Peterson</a>, <a href="http://dave-brubeck.com/" target="_blank">Dave Brubeck</a>, <a href="http://www.mavisstaples.com/" target="_blank">Mavis Staples</a>, and the <a href="http://www.singers.com/choral/normanluboffchoir.html" target="_blank">Norman Luboff Choir.</a> To start. There are many pianists on the list, though Lang can't really play that instrument. She's a strummer, sort of. "I'm a rhythm player. My guitar is really limited."<br><br> For all the joy of music, it's not a lucrative career. Lang's lived on the poverty line for much of her life. Her worst year recorded $4,000 in income; her best, about $25,000. Nonetheless, she's managed to survive (thanks to an understanding partner who held a full-time job for many years), but this past year was forced to take out a loan from a friend -- in part because of the expense of the move.<br><br> Financially, if a tour has a dozen scheduled stops and three get canceled, Lang's in trouble. No performance, no payment. She doesn't want to retire, but isn't in the best of health. "I hope to keep playing forever."<br><br> The music industry has changed, though. "Years ago, you played in the same room three to six nights a week," she says. "That's how you found your fans." Big crowds would come on the last couple of nights after four days of favorable word of mouth. "We used to go out and do auditions where we wanted to perform. Now you send CDs," often full of technical yeehaws that can't be reproduced during a live performance, "and people complain."<br><br> Touring has become a series of one-night stands and a fan base comes from CD sales. Yet radio play is almost impossible to come by, except on small community radio stations (usually university-based)... and on the <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/" target="_blank">CBC.</a> As controversial as the CBC is these days, says Lang, it plays Canadian artists. Without the MotherCorp., "we wouldn't have anyone rooting for us." <img src="http://opinionatedlesbian.com/aggbug.aspx?PostID=4726" width="1" height="1">Whither art thou, oh goddess of pitch and timing?http://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/archive/2006/05/25/4544.aspxThu, 25 May 2006 19:47:00 GMT1699ad35-f2dc-4638-baa9-b4a122144f8e:4544eleanor5http://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/comments/4544.aspxhttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/commentrss.aspx?PostID=4544Remember when <a href="http://www.annemurray.com/" target="_blank">Anne Murray</a> was <i>the</i> lesbian wet dream? She was a gym teacher in Nova Scotia turned hit maker. An old university classmate of Murray's once insisted to me that Annie was known as the big dyke on campus. And so we all went gaga, even as mainstream Canuckistan embraced Murray for her earnest blandness.<br><br> "Like a certain persistent myth of Canada, <a href="http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=U1ARTU0002493" target="_blank">Anne Murray</a> is emblematic of simple, wholesome, unsoiled virtue. She is the driven snow that blankets our nation like a cloak of downy innocence, that protects us from the libidinous nastiness emanating from across the border," write the authors of <a href="http://www.booksincanada.com/article_view.asp?id=142" target="_blank">"Mondo Canuck."</a><br><br> "That's why so many Canadians were more than a little pissed at [punk Yank music critic] <a href="http://www.horror-movies.ca/horror-books.php?asin=0375713670" target="_blank">Lester Bangs</a> (a most un-Canadian name) when he dared to imagine what he might whisper in her 'well-formed Canadian ear.' How dare he?<br><br> "After all, as <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/nationalplaylist/panelists.html" target="_blank">Larry Leblanc</a> wrote in <a href="http://www.macleans.ca/" target="_blank">Maclean's</a> in 1974, 'If you close your eyes and think of a naked Anne Murray, parts of her always come up airbrushed."<br><br> These days, she's the queen of the mushy hetero wedding anthems: "You Needed Me," "I Just Fall in Love Again," "Could I have this dance?" And "Snowbird"!!!<br><br> But a select few always understood. Like those who listened to her actually speak: Murray once called the <a href="http://www.vh1.com/artists/az/boy_george/artist.jhtml" target="_blank">Culture Club</a> hit "Karma Chameleon" "a piece of shit." Of the girl band <a href="http://www.bananarama.co.uk/" target="_blank">Bananarama:</a> "They're three broads from London."<br><br> And that Saskatchewan farmer who once grabbed her at a concert and wouldn't let go -- the freak who introduced the concept of stalking to the Canadian public. (I expect Murray's hubby was none too pleased, either.)<br><br> But married or not, we've always claimed Murray. Leblanc again: "Even though Anne remains decidedly heterosexual she has the flinty good looks, the athletic figure, broad shoulders and boyish hairstyle that naturally make her a darling of the butch set."<br><br> Respond the "Mondo Canuck" boys: "Flinty good looks? The <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/" target="_blank">Chicago Tribune</a> put it rather less poetically: 'There's always going to be this lingering whiff of phys. ed. classes about the woman."<br><br> Indeed. But that, you moronic git of a reviewer, was a plus. And <a href="http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=M1ARTM0010505" target="_Blank">still is.</a><img src="http://opinionatedlesbian.com/aggbug.aspx?PostID=4544" width="1" height="1">Mr. Roboto goes gayhttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/archive/2006/05/03/4450.aspxWed, 03 May 2006 17:15:00 GMT1699ad35-f2dc-4638-baa9-b4a122144f8e:4450eleanor1http://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/comments/4450.aspxhttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/commentrss.aspx?PostID=4450<a href="http://www.chuckpanozzo.com/" target="_blank">Chuck Panozzo,</a> of the rock supergroup <a href="http://www.styxcollector.com/" target="_blank">Styx</a> -- you know, "Lady," "Babe," "Show me the Way" and "Come Sail Away" -- <a href="http://www.sovo.com/2006/4-28/news/national/styx.cfm" target="_blank">is out.</a> <br><br> "Panozzo still plays bass for the group, the first musical act to ever have four consecutive triple platinum albums, that remains one of the most popular musical acts in history. Styx still plays scores of dates per year, often as a double bill with other classic acts like <a href="http://www.journeymusic.com/" target="_blank">Journey,</a> <a href="http://www.speedwagon.com/" target="_blank">REO Speedwagon</a> or <a href="http://www.kansasband.com/" target="_blank">Kansas</a>.... And they still attract sell-out crowds that are now multi-generational."<br><br> Sadly, Panozzo thinks this has everything to do with talent, instead of simple boomer nostalgia for their youth (and youth obsession with irony): "We have lasting appeal because we play melodies that people can hum, and we have lyrics that are meaningful," Panozzo says. "Nobody is fabricating our songs through us, nobody is making us through <a href="http://www.americanidol.com/" target="_blank">'American Idol.'"</a><br><br> And here's the gay stuff: "In the early years of Styx [in the 1970s], Panozzo says, the other members of the band knew he was gay and quietly accepted it. Because there was so much sex on the road, and because many of the band members were married, most of the sexual exploits of the band members were kept quiet. So on the occasion that Panozzo brought a guy back to his hotel room, that was done discreetly and quietly as well, he says....<br><br> "Panozzo describes it as being similar to the <a href="http://dont.stanford.edu/" target="_blank">'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell'</a> policy of the armed forces."<br><br> When Styx got back together in 1996 after a seven-year split, band members were worried Panozzo might be loud about homo sex. "Panozzo reassured them he was just there to play music. But a brush with death in 1998 changed his vow of silence." That's when AIDS hit (seven years after his HIV diagnosis), and he got mouthy about condoms.<br><br> The hyper-masculinity of cock rock is so hopelessly campy, I just assumed they were all gay. I mean... there are heterosexuals in Styx? <img src="http://opinionatedlesbian.com/aggbug.aspx?PostID=4450" width="1" height="1">Bom, bomm, bom, bommhttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/archive/2006/04/22/4418.aspxSat, 22 Apr 2006 15:50:00 GMT1699ad35-f2dc-4638-baa9-b4a122144f8e:4418eleanor0http://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/comments/4418.aspxhttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/commentrss.aspx?PostID=4418Am delighted to hear about the reverence still accorded the metal washtub. "The bass fiddle is now considered to be the main rhythm section of a bluegrass band," notes Jack Lewis <a href="http://www.oriskanystrings.com/instruments/index.html#washtub" target="_blank">(here),</a> a member of the Virginia-based <a href="http://www.oriskanystrings.com/" target="_blank">Oriskany Strings</a> band and a <a href="http://www.live365.com/stations/oldesurberstation" target="_blank">podcaster.</a><br><br> "Old-time country folks, Jack says, could never afford to buy a bass fiddle so it was rarely found in the early bands. Instead, folks made an imitation bass fiddle out of a galvanized washtub and a sawed-off broom handle. A clothes line was tied to one end of the broom handle and the other end was tied to the bottom of the tub. The tub was turned over and the player held it down with one foot, being careful to touch only the rim so the sound from the bottom (drum head) was not muffled. The line was then pulled tight by the broom handle using one hand, and plucked once with the other hand. Then the line was pulled tighter to hit a second higher 'note' and plucked again. The two 'notes' were played alternately in time to the music without regard to playing in any key. It worked, sort of."<br><br> Jack Lewis special-ordered a Cable Tub Bass, and marked all the notes he could find with pieces of tape. There are instructional videos.<br><br> The tunes at times have to be, well, a little slower that you might want: "If the notes are too far apart on the strings, he can't play fast tempos because it takes too much time to move his hand up and down the neck."<img src="http://opinionatedlesbian.com/aggbug.aspx?PostID=4418" width="1" height="1">Making beautiful moo-sichttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/archive/2006/04/19/4405.aspxWed, 19 Apr 2006 16:22:00 GMT1699ad35-f2dc-4638-baa9-b4a122144f8e:4405eleanor2http://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/comments/4405.aspxhttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/commentrss.aspx?PostID=4405I took a long weekend. But then I always feel the need to bulk up on posts to make up for it.<br><br> From composer <a href="http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/copland/" target="_blank">Aaron Copland's</a> 1939 book (and revised 18 years later), <a href="http://www.ucalgary.ca/~rseiler/music.htm" target="_blank">"What To Listen for in Music":</a> "By comparison with rhythm and melody, harmony is the most sophisticated of the three musical elements. We are so accustomed to thinking of music in terms of harmonic music that we are likely to forget how recent an innovation it is, by comparison with the other elements. Rhythm and melody came naturally to man, but harmony gradually evolved from what was partly an intellectual conception -- no doubt one of the most original conceptions of the human mind.<br><br> "Harmony, in the sense that we think of it, was quite unknown in music until about the ninth century. Up until that time, all music of which we have any record consisted of a single melodic line.... The anonymous composers who first began experimenting with harmonic effects were destined to change all music that came after them, at least among Occidental nations....<br><br> "The birth of harmony is generally placed in the ninth century, because it is first mentioned in treatises of that period. As might be expected, the early forms of harmony sound crudely primitive to our ears." This nascent harmony was the "organum," and consisted simply of repeating the main theme at an interval below (the fourth) or (fifth) above. The end.<br><br> It took almost 300 years longer to come up with the <a href="http://www.music.vt.edu/musicdictionary/textd/Descant.html" target="_blank">descant.</a><img src="http://opinionatedlesbian.com/aggbug.aspx?PostID=4405" width="1" height="1">Alouette, je te plumeraihttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/archive/2006/04/13/4390.aspxThu, 13 Apr 2006 17:42:00 GMT1699ad35-f2dc-4638-baa9-b4a122144f8e:4390eleanor0http://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/comments/4390.aspxhttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/commentrss.aspx?PostID=4390"The whole problem can be stated quite simply by asking, 'Is there a meaning to music?'<br> "My answer to that would be, 'Yes.'<br> "And, 'Can you state in so many words what the meaning is?'<br> "My answer to that would be, 'No.'"<br> <i>- <a href="http://www.glbtq.com/arts/copland_a.html" target="_blank">Aaron Copland</a></i><br><br> I have three Canadian tune tracts. The first is "Canada Sings," copyrighted in 1935 by New York's Robbins Music Corporation. It's a "community song book for schools, clubs, fraternities, homes and community singing." Even okayed for the <a href="http://www.library.ualberta.ca/subject/education/bibliography/secondmusic/index.cfm" target="_blank">Alberta school curriculum</a> back in the day.<br><br> It includes France's <a href="http://www.marseillaise.org/" target="_blank">"La Marseillaise"</a> and <a href="http://ingeb.org/songs/godsaveo.html" target="-blank">"God Save the King."</a> Plus <a href="http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/n/m/nmgtthee.htm" target="_blank">"Nearer My God to Thee"</a> and <a href="http://www.rideaumusic.com/product-229154" target="_blank">"Favourites Like K-K-K-Katy,</a> Home On The Range... And Many More."<br><br> How about this: "Oh Canada, oh Canada! Her laws are just and good [...]<br> Be strong, ye sons of Canada<br> Ye daughters brave and true<br> with heart and hand guard well the land<br> which God has given you."<br><br> I tend to need a clean break from the Lord after "Canada Sings." My <a href="http://www.iww.ca/eindex.htm" target="_blank">"Canadian Wobbly Songbook"</a> does the trick. It was produced in 1990, "to fan the flames of discontent."<br><br> From <a href="http://www.faithnolan.org/who.html" target="_blank">Faith Nolan's</a> "Box Factory":<br> "We'd go to lunch for half an hour<br> The boss would use our time to<br> lecture us on power<br> He said you better move faster<br> or your job will soon be gone<br> He'd lie and drone on and on<br> There's no union to help me fight anyway<br> There's no union in a sweat shop place."<br><br> But the Wobblies, bless'em, can be a bit single-minded. My most recent tome is "The Raging Grannies Songbook," a 1993 effort by little old ladies in purple in Victoria <a href="http://www.geocities.com/raginggrannies/" target="_blank">(and elsewhere).</a> How's about this one:<br><br> "Hey ho! Hey Ho! As off to bed we go<br> We grannies smile because we know<br> Safe sex is quite the best<br> Ho hey! Ho Hey! It could be night or day<br> Explicit rules we all obey<br> Safe sex is best."<br><br> Lyrics alone can be painful. The words are magnets straining to attach to melody and tone. Like that last tune.... originally sung by dwarves as "off to work they go."<br><br> Damn. Earworm! <img src="http://opinionatedlesbian.com/aggbug.aspx?PostID=4390" width="1" height="1">There'll be no posing in People with sweetie and babyhttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/archive/2006/03/08/4268.aspxWed, 08 Mar 2006 17:20:00 GMT1699ad35-f2dc-4638-baa9-b4a122144f8e:4268eleanor0http://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/comments/4268.aspxhttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/commentrss.aspx?PostID=4268Opera and jazz singer <a href="http://www.luzartmusic.com/luzart-artists-ada.htm" target="_blank">Ada de Luque,</a> based in Miami, discusses (in <a href="http://www.expressgaynews.com/" target="_blank">this newspaper,</a> but the text is unavailable online) the difficulties of the trade: "I once asked the great <a href="http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,60-1409754,00.html" target="_blank">Renata Tebaldi</a> why she didn't sing anymore. Her reply was, 'I started living when I stopped singing.' Though singing is gratifying, it involves sacrifice. You have to take care of your instrument, which means keeping away from people with colds. Sometimes you are afraid to shake hands. Keep away from dairy products that can be congestive. You can't shout. There are many restrictions."<br><Br> The piece continues: "Speaking of restrictions, de Luque is protective of her private life.<br><br> "While she is open about being a lesbian, she declines to share any other personal details, except to say that she is happy. She says she understands why many singers choose not to speak about being gay or lesbian.<br><br> "'You lose a certain percentage of the audience,' she says matter-of-factly. 'And the audience that remains looks at you in a different manner. When you are an opera singer, you are acting a role, and you want the audience to believe that.'"<img src="http://opinionatedlesbian.com/aggbug.aspx?PostID=4268" width="1" height="1">A paler shade of blackhttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/archive/2006/02/16/4174.aspxThu, 16 Feb 2006 14:26:00 GMT1699ad35-f2dc-4638-baa9-b4a122144f8e:4174eleanor0http://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/comments/4174.aspxhttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/commentrss.aspx?PostID=4174<a href="http://lyricsplayground.com/alpha/songs/s/sijetaisblanche.shtml" target="_blank">"Si j'etais blanche,"</a> sang Josephine Baker in 1932. In Oples translation: "I wish I were white, what a joy that would be."<br><br> Freda Josephine McDonald was born in Missouri in 1906. (I love that her first name was Freda -- must have been especially entertaining for the <a href="http://www.glbtq.com/literature/african_am_lit_lesbian.html" target="_blank">bisexual Josephine</a> to fling with her homonym, <a href="http://www.glbtq.com/arts/kahlo_f.html" target="_blank">Frida Kahlo,</a> as [apocryphally?] suggested <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120679/" target="_blank">in this flick,</a> an otherwise ridiculously, overwhelming, hetero film).<br><br> <a href="http://www.cmgww.com/stars/baker/about/biography.html" target="_blank">This biography</a> reads: "Josephine grew up cleaning houses and babysitting for wealthy white families who reminded her 'be sure not to kiss the baby.' She got a job waitressing at The Old Chauffeur's Club when she was 13 years old. While waiting tables she met and had a brief marriage to Willie Wells. While it was unusual for a woman during her era, Josephine never depended on a man for financial support. Therefore, she never hesitated to leave when a relationship soured. She was married and divorced three more times, to American Willie Baker in 1921 (whose last name she chose to keep), Frenchman Jean Lion in 1937 (from whom she attained French citizenship) and French orchestra leader Jo Bouillon in 1947 (who helped to raise her 12 adopted children)."<br><br> We all know the tale. Baker moved to Paris and became a star by wiggling her naked boobies while twirling in a banana skirt. (Her movies "Zou-Zou" and "Princess Tam-Tam" are now out on DVD.)<br><br> Nowadays many see Baker's stage routine as offensive, and her as a racial sell-out.<br><br> Baker's power is best shown by this American reaction: "A 1936 return to the United States to star in the Ziegfield Follies proved disastrous, despite the fact that she was a major celebrity in Europe. American audiences rejected the idea of a black woman with so much sophistication and power, newspaper reviews were equally cruel (The New York Times called her a 'Negro wench'), and Josephine returned to Europe heartbroken."<br><br> Despite this, or perhaps because of it, Baker would pop back into the U.S. every so often: "Josephine felt it was her duty to help advance the civil rights movement in America," <a href="http://www.cmgww.com/stars/baker/about/achievements.html" target="_blank">it sez here.</a> "She wouldn't perform in theaters that discriminated, refusing to go on stage until blacks were allowed to sit in the same areas as whites. Josephine also spoke at the 1963 March on Washington, telling the crowd they looked like 'Salt and pepper. Just what it should be.'"<br><br> And "Josephine visited the United States during the '50s and '60s with renewed vigor to fight racism. When New York's popular <a href="http://www.tipsontables.com/storkclub.html" target="_blank">Stork Club</a> refused her service, she engaged a head-on media battle with pro-segregation columnist <a href="http://www8.cnn.com/SHOWBIZ/TV/9812/09/winchell/" target="_blank">Walter Winchell.</a> The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People<a href="http://www.naacp.org/" target="_blank"> (NAACP)</a> named May 20 Josephine Baker Day in honor of her efforts."<br><br> Josephine Baker, desperate to be <i>blanche</i>? I don't think so.<br><br> But different strokes for different folks. I am reminded of Baker's song every time I walk into a North American pharmacy. Check out Daggett & Ramsdell's "Moisturing Lightening Soap: Helps Lighten and Even Skin Tone." Or <a href="http://www.adiscountbeauty.com/page421.html" target="_blank">this ad</a> for a similar product from the same company, Facial Fade Cream -- "As seen in Essence magazine," with before and after pix. There is no judgement in this paragraph: I believe in freedom of choice, and that means across the board. <img src="http://opinionatedlesbian.com/aggbug.aspx?PostID=4174" width="1" height="1">Country twanghttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/archive/2006/02/15/4173.aspxWed, 15 Feb 2006 16:03:00 GMT1699ad35-f2dc-4638-baa9-b4a122144f8e:4173eleanor0http://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/comments/4173.aspxhttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/commentrss.aspx?PostID=4173Willie Nelson has recorded a version of <a href="http://www.365gay.com/Newscon06/02/021406nelson.htm" target="_blank">"Cowboys are Secretly, Frequently, Fond of Each Other"</a> -- a tune <a href="http://www.opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/archive/2005/07/07/1838.aspx" target="_blank">discussed here</a> on Oples back in the summer.<br><br> Burt Reynolds thinks he and Willie woulda made <a href="http://entertainment.tv.yahoo.com/entnews/ap/20050729/112264956000.html" target="_blank">a great item.</a><img src="http://opinionatedlesbian.com/aggbug.aspx?PostID=4173" width="1" height="1">Too good to lasthttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/archive/2006/02/14/4171.aspxTue, 14 Feb 2006 17:36:00 GMT1699ad35-f2dc-4638-baa9-b4a122144f8e:4171eleanor0http://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/comments/4171.aspxhttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/commentrss.aspx?PostID=4171Bye bye, <a href="http://www.opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/archive/2006/02/06/4161.aspx" target="_blank">mashup.</a> It was fun while it lasted.<br><br> Bastard pop -- defined by my morning paper as the fusion of two pop tunes -- is on the hit list, and I don't mean the Top 40. The four-year-old <a href="http://www.getyourbootlegon.com/" target="_blank">"Get your bootleg on"</a> site has been ordered to behave by the <a href="http://www.bpi.co.uk/" target="_blank">British Phonographic Industry.</a><br><br> Art is dead, eh. <img src="http://opinionatedlesbian.com/aggbug.aspx?PostID=4171" width="1" height="1">DJ Earwormhttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/archive/2006/02/06/4161.aspxMon, 06 Feb 2006 16:29:00 GMT1699ad35-f2dc-4638-baa9-b4a122144f8e:4161eleanor0http://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/comments/4161.aspxhttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/commentrss.aspx?PostID=4161A <a href="http://www.digitaljournal.com/news/?articleID=4340" target="_blank">mashup</a> is a greater whole created from the inspired melding of a bunch of udder tunes. <a href="http://www.djearworm.com/" target="_blank">Hear here.</a><img src="http://opinionatedlesbian.com/aggbug.aspx?PostID=4161" width="1" height="1">The return of the diva, Sarah B.http://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/archive/2006/02/03/4155.aspxFri, 03 Feb 2006 16:09:00 GMT1699ad35-f2dc-4638-baa9-b4a122144f8e:4155eleanor0http://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/comments/4155.aspxhttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/commentrss.aspx?PostID=4155A bunch of eggheads are digitizing music that's on the verge of being lost. Academics at the University of California - Santa Barbara have digitized some 6,000 wax and plastic cylinders that were made between 1880 and 1925 or so, when records became the new "it" technology and replaced the bulky cylinders. The copyright has finally expired on these things.<br><br> We're talkin' Vaudeville, rags, and pop tunes. German comic skits, early black American music, speeches by the likes of the infamously bisexual actress, <a href="http://www.glbtq.com/arts/bernhard_t_s.html" target="_blank">Sarah Bernhardt.</a> A treasure trove! Check it <a href="http://cylinders.library.ucsb.edu/" target="_blank">all out here</a>.<br><br> (Thanks to <a href="http://www.publicradio.org/columns/futuretense/" target="_blank">Future Tense</a> for the pointer.) <br><br><br> NOTES ON Sarah Berhardt: "Although she practiced Christianity, she always remained connected to her Jewish roots, through many of the roles she played, through her public stance against anti-Semitism, and through critics' constant harping on the size of her nose....<br><br> "Fans loved her quirky behavior, and stories soon spread about the coffin she napped in before performances and the outlandish men's clothes she wore to paint in.... Bernhardt enjoyed shocking the public. In 1864 she had an illegitimate son. In 1882, she married (briefly) Greek actor <a href="http://www.britannica.com/shakespeare/article-8218" target="_blank">Jacques Damala</a> [he died suddenly], but she had many love affairs both before and after her marriage. Her lovers included <a href="http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/vhugo.htm" target="_blank">Victor Hugo</a> and <a href="http://www.regiments.org/biography/royals/1841edw7.htm" target="_blank">Albert Edward,</a> the Prince of Wales.<br><br> "Bernhardt was more discreet about her lesbian affairs, and less is known about them. She also had a close twenty-year friendship with gay British playwright <a href="http://www.cmgww.com/historic/wilde/index.php" target="_blank">Oscar Wilde.</a> At her request, he wrote his play <a href="http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/subjects/salome/salome2.html" target="_blank">Salome</a> for her in 1892.<br><br> "In 1905, Bernhardt injured her right knee. The injury continued to trouble her, and in 1915 her leg was amputated. She continued to perform from a chair until her death from kidney failure in 1923."<img src="http://opinionatedlesbian.com/aggbug.aspx?PostID=4155" width="1" height="1">Oples, where you get tomorrow's news today!http://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/archive/2006/01/26/4131.aspxThu, 26 Jan 2006 22:02:00 GMT1699ad35-f2dc-4638-baa9-b4a122144f8e:4131eleanor0http://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/comments/4131.aspxhttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/commentrss.aspx?PostID=4131Happy birthday, <a href="http://www.mozart.com/pages/1/index.htm" target="_blank">Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,</a> a teensy bit early. Buddy was not gay, but classical music had and has a collection of queers within (and there's a good <a href="http://www.glbtq.com/arts/music_classical.html" target="_blank">primer here,</a> at the GLBT Encyclopedia, that also includes a handful of women composers -- beyond the chants of <a href="http://www.gaycitynews.com/gcn227/amedieval.html" target="_blank">Hildegard von Bingen,</a> already).<br><br> The 250th anniversary of the Moz's birth brings me to Toronto filmmaker <a href="http://www.yorku.ca/finearts/faculty/profs/greyson.htm" target="_blank">John Greyson,</a> whose installation piece <a href="http://www.davidwall.ca/reviews/" target="_blank">"Fig Trees"</a> is a modernist opera of note. Greyson, creator of the AIDS musical <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0108649/" target="_blank">"Zero Patience ,"</a> was in Montreal last week, a guest of the Concordia University <a href="http://aids.concordia.ca/" target="_blank">HIV/AIDS Lecture Series,</a> and discussed the mix of pop and classical music that has inspired much of his work. There's <a href="http://cjournal.concordia.ca/journalarchives/2006-07/jan_26/006076.shtml" target="_blank">a write-up here</a> (and here's my conflict of interest note: nice story, sweetie!). "Fig Trees" is inspired by <a href="http://www.ipl.org/div/litcrit/bin/litcrit.out.pl?au=ste-168" target="_blank">Gertrude Stein</a>'s surrealist <a href="http://oldpoetry.com/poetry/35403" target="-blank">libretto</a> (!) for the opera, <a href="http://www.operaamerica.org/encore/four_s.htm" target="_blank">"Four Saints in Three Acts."</a> It has four acts. Ho ho!<br><br> Noted Stein: "A saint a real saint never does anything, a martyr does something but a really good saint does nothing and so I wanted to have Four Saints that did nothing and I wrote Four Saints in Three Acts and they did nothing and that was everything. Generally speaking anybody is more interesting doing nothing than doing anything."<br><br> Did everybody get get get get that I hope everybody I hope because now so I've got to go get get that I hope so now get <img src="http://opinionatedlesbian.com/aggbug.aspx?PostID=4131" width="1" height="1">Diamonds are foreverhttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/archive/2006/01/25/4128.aspxWed, 25 Jan 2006 17:23:00 GMT1699ad35-f2dc-4638-baa9-b4a122144f8e:4128eleanor0http://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/comments/4128.aspxhttp://opinionatedlesbian.com/bulletin/opinionatedlesbian/commentrss.aspx?PostID=4128These ain't conflict diamonds, is they Jacob? don't lie to me mayne<br> See, a part of me sayin' keep shinin',<br> How? when I know of the blood diamonds<br> Though it's thousands of miles away<br> Sierra Leone connect to what we go through today<br> Over here, it's a drug trade, we die from drugs<br> Over there, they die from what we buy from drugs<br> The diamonds, the chains, the bracelets, the charmses<br> I thought my Jesus Piece was so harmless<br> 'til I seen a picture of a shorty armless<br> <i>- Kanye West, <a href="http://www.lyricstop.com/d/diamondsfromsierraleoneremix-kanyewestfjay-z.html" target="_blank">"Diamonds from Sierra Leone (Remix)"</a></i><br><br> Conflict diamonds "are a crucial factor in prolonging brutal wars in parts of Africa.... In Angola and Sierra Leone, conflict diamonds continue to fund the rebel groups, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) and the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), both of which are acting in contravention of the international community's objectives of restoring peace in the two countries." That's polite, <a href="http://www.un.org/peace/africa/Diamond.html" target="_blank">United Nations talk</a> about maiming and murder by rebels.<br><br> Not that the state's government is, or was, any great shakes. As noted by the BBC (via <a href="http://billdoskoch.blogware.com/blog/_archives/2006/1/16/1677191.html" target="_blank">Bill Doskoch),</a> "Diamonds have always been at the heart of Sierra Leone's problems. Ever since the first commercial mines were opened by the British colonial authorities in 1931, they have been both the prize and the fuel in conflicts. Sierra Leonean researcher and journalist <a href="http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=2&ItemID=8846" target="_blank">Lansana Gberie</a>... [looks at] the criminalisation of the state, funded largely by diamonds." Corruption destroyed the government, allowing (encouraging?) a civil war to easily break out: "The insurgency was characterised by terror attacks on civilians, including the widespread hacking off of people's limbs."<br><br> Canada has a humiliating historical connection to Sierra Leone: racism led blacks to leave Nova Scotia by the hundreds to settle in Sierra Leone, where they sought some measure of happiness. <a href="http://www.nowtoronto.com/issues/2001-07-12/news_spread.html" target="_blank">"Slavery was never instituted by statute</a> in Nova Scotia, yet slavery was practiced in Halifax a year after the city was founded and, over the next five decades, it was not uncommon in other parts of the province," note Donald Clairmont and Dennis Magill in their book, <a href="http://www.utoronto.ca/sociology/faculty/magill.html" target="_blank">"Africville: The Life and Death of a Canadian Black Community."</a> There were about 500 slaves in Nova Scotia at the beginning of the <a href="http://www.civilization.ca/cwm/expo/index_e.html" target="_blank">American Revolution</a>; Loyalists brought another 1,000 or so. "The groundwork for the subordination of the blacks as a people in Nova Scotia was laid by the early existence of a slave society," say the researchers.<br><br> But eventually free blacks began to arrive from the United States, "for the most part having been freed by the British as an inducement to encourage them to leave their revolutionary masters. Free blacks were promised equal treatment with their white peers, but promises were not fulfilled." Few were actually given land; the "lucky" ones found that their lots were small, often barren, and located away from settled areas. "In order to survive, a number of blacks were forced to sell themselves or their children into slavery or long-term indenture."<br><br> When the <a href="http://museum.gov.ns.ca/arch/sites/birch/sierra.htm" target="_blank">Sierra Leone Company</a> came by, there was practically a stampede. As Daniel G. Hill notes in his book, <a href="http://www.blackhistorysociety.ca/Tributes.htm" target="_blank">"The Freedom Seekers: Blacks in Early Canada":</a> "The difficulty of supporting themselves in the face of discrimination and of adverse conditions of climate and the economy convinced many of Nova Scotia's Blacks that they would be better off to leave the province. Some went to New Brunswick, some to 'the Canadas', but most took advantage of the British government's offer of transport to Sierra Leone, where a settlement for Free Blacks was to be established. <a href="collections.ic.gc.ca/blackloyalists/ people/secular/peters.htm" target="_blank">Thomas Peters,</a> a former sergeant in the Black Pioneers, encouraged his people to accept the British offer. In 1791 almost 1,000 of Nova Scotia's Blacks took ship from Halifax for Africa."<br><br> Five years later, another group of 600 blacks arrived in Nova Scotia. "They were the Maroons, immigrants from Jamaica who were part of the community of escaped slaves who, from 1655, had guarded their freedom in the mountains of that island and for over a century had fought off all attempts to re-enslave them. Some of them, finally overcome by the superior resources and false assurances of British and Jamaican forces, surrendered in 1796 and were exiled to Nova Scotia about three small transport ships, the Dover, the Mary and the Ann. To help them settle in their new home, the Jamaican government supplied a fund of 25,000 pounds.<br><br> "Sir John Wentworth, Governor of Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, Commander-in-Chief of the province's forces, gave a hearty welcome to the Maroons. They were impressed by their record of brave resistance and by their impressive physical appearance. When the Duke of Kent offered them work building new fortifications on Halifax's <a href="http://www.pc.gc.ca/lhn-nhs/ns/halifax/visit/index_e.asp" target="_blank">Citadel Hill,</a> the Maroons accepted his offer and volunteered to work without pay. The Duke, however, ordered that they should be paid at the regular rate of nine pence a day '...besides provisions, lodging and clothing.'<br><br> "The Maroons quickly finished their assignment of building the 'Maroon Bastion' to reinforce the new province's defences. They also formed a militia unit in which two of their leaders, Montagne and John, were made colonels, and two others, Bailey and Jarret, were made majors. At first the people of Halifax were delighted with the added protection and prosperity which the Maroons provided, with their combat experience and their soldiers' pay to spend in the community; but before long there was trouble.<br><br> "The independent spirit and the determination to keep to their own ways that had been the life of the Maroons through a century and a half of guerrilla warfare seemed [like] arrogance to the Nova Scotians, and there were several attempts to have the newcomers expelled. The Maroons found the climate of their new land harsh, the food unpalatable, and the dislike of their neighbours difficult to bear. In 1797 they asked to be sent to a warmer climate, but it was not until January, 1800 that the government decided to send them to <a href="http://www.answers.com/topic/sierra-leone" target="_blank">Sierra Leone.</a> In August of that year 550 Maroons boarded the ship Asia for their new homeland, which they finally reached in October." <img src="http://opinionatedlesbian.com/aggbug.aspx?PostID=4128" width="1" height="1">