(I wrote this last year for fiftymissioncap.ca. Reposting it for the 12th anniversary of Laird taking on Teahupoo.)
Think of a 70-foot wave.
It rises out of the water like a possessed mountain. If you close your eyes to it, your mind still sees it because of the ferocious sound. It curls, creating a perfect temporary barrel that plunges towards the shore with the weight of the ocean behind it.
There’s a tiny dot on top of this giant wave.
It glides gracefully over the top and down into the barrel, a little white trail following it.
That dot is Laird Hamilton.
Part madman, part dolphin and part Achilles, big wave surfer Laird Hamilton was literally born into the environment that he spends most of his time in. His mother gave birth to him on March 2nd, 1964 at UCSF Medical Centre into an experimental salt-water tank that was designed to ease the pain of labour.
His watery entrance into the world was but the beginning of a life spent in the ocean. Growing up in Oahu, Hawaii, Laird took to surfing at a young age, with his stepfather, former pro surfer Bill Hamilton, teaching him the ropes. He was always an excellent surfer, but despite his obvious skill and natural talent, Laird never wanted to be on the professional surfing circuit.
Instead, he invented his own shtick.
In the early 90’s, Hamilton, along with friends like fellow big wave surfer Dave Kalama, frequently surfed the North Shore of the Island of Maui. Pe’hai, also known as Jaws, boasts some of the biggest and most powerful waves in the world. Spurred on by a longing to ride the massive breaks that they could see in the distance, but couldn’t paddle to with just their boards, Hamilton and Kalama began using a Jet Ski and a towrope to get onto those mammoth waves. This method, known as tow in surfing, would revolutionize big wave surfing.
What does it take to ride a wave bigger than your house? A blatant disregard for, or a superior understand of, fear? Yes. But it also takes brute strength. With a neck the size of a large bull’s and a muscly physique built to take on waves that could literally wipe out cities, Hamilton, save for his blonde Ken doll mane, is a scary looking dude.
He’s a scary looking dude who has ridden the world’s biggest wave.
Here’s a video from the movie Riding Giants of Laird riding Teahupoo, an insane break off the coast of Tahiti. (The money shot starts about 4:20 into the vid)
Most of us will never even see a wave that large in person, let alone be in the water when it breaks, so lucky for us, Laird’s there.
Another technique made popular by Laird, and one more accessible to us regular folk, is stand up paddle (SUP) surfing. It’s an ancient Hawaiian sport called Hoe he’e nalu in Hawaiian. Instead of lying tummy-down on the board to paddle out, the surfer stands up, balancing with his or her core strength and a long paddle. The paddle is used to propel the board forward on the water and later to balance as you ride the wave.
SUP surfing is fun because you can see everything in front of you as you paddle out to the waves. You can also do it in calm waters and lakes as a more tranquil water activity. If you take out the surfing bit, it’s basically canoeing for those who can’t sit down.
I think Laird Hamilton is the greatest, but he isn’t without his haters. Some people say tow in surfing pollutes the ocean and has corrupted the sport of big wave surfing. A lot of surfers are also bothered by Laird’s promotion of SUP surfing, mainly because it has turned into a trend of yogaesque proportions and is now a flavor of the week activity for rich businessmen and their spoiled kids to try while on vacation in Maui.
The “Blame Laird” movement was started by purest surfers as a way to accuse him of mainstreaming surfing and selling out.
He wasn’t opposed to being accused, though. Being the maverick that he is, Hamilton turned “Blame Laird” into his personal catchphrase (and business venture, as you can purchase Blame Laird merch from his website: www.lairdhamilton.com).
You surfed all day and forgot to call your wife? Blame Laird. You want to sell off all of your assets and move to a surfing village in Costa Rica? Blame Laird. You’re going to trade in the Armani suit for a wetsuit? Blame Laird. Go try your best to live the life you want, and if you get into trouble along the way, just Blame Laird
By branding Blame Laird onto stickers, T-Shirts, coffee mugs and the like, Laird’s giving us all permission to have fun at his expense.
My favourite part of the Laird video above is when he cries on his surfboard after riding that monster wave. Surfing is a sport where your strongest teammate is also your biggest opponent. Trusting yourself on waves that could kill you in an instant requires a zen-like understanding of both yourself and nature.
We’ve all had moments of this. I’ve cried while looking out at Rocky Mountains on a sunny day. I once had a spiritual moment with a goat farmer in the hills of Tuscany. I’ve felt totally embraced by and at peace with the ocean while swimming in it. I’m not totally a part of that world, though. To really be a part of it, you sort of have to live it and be it, full-bore.
This is why Laird Hamilton isn’t just a big wave surfer. He’s also a big wave.
Madonna was born to offend you, now wish her a Happy 54th Birthday.
Every single Italian I met when I lived in Rome had the same reaction to my last name: “Ciccone, like Madonna!” They know that Ciccone is Madonna’s last name, what they’re not buying, however, is the Madonna part.
“Carla, what is her real first name?” my friend Massimo asked me. “Madonna,” I said. He laughed and shook his hands the way Italians do when they want to say, “mamma mia! Whaddaya talkin’ about?!” without actually saying it.
While they wholly embrace Madonna as her stage name, it’s unthinkable blasphemy that Madonna’s real name is Madonna. In Italy, that name is reserved for the one and only Holy Virgin Mother of God.
“It has to be Maria, Mary, Marie,” said Massimo, and after a trip to the World Wide Web proved him wrong—as she is indeed Madonna Louise Ciccone—he was left shaking his head.
Madonna had offended him. Not with her singing or stage humping or cross burning or boob flashing. With her name.
Etched on her birth certificate, the seven letters that make up her bold first name contain within them an inherent contradiction. It represents the antithesis of what she is. If faced with the choice of being the Madonna or the whore, Madonna is the whore every time, and proud of it.
I don’t have to tell you about the impact Madonna’s had on music and culture. She ushered in the seminal music video era of the early 80s with so much sass that she transcended the corniness of the decade and transformed a generation of tween and teen girls (and some boys) into lace sporting, multiple cross wearing, messy haired, gum chewing, cheeky little queens.
She was a fearless, fun, envelope pushing badass who challenged the norms of her Midwestern, motor city Catholic upbringing with so much gumption that, though many people were put off by her, they still believed her.
I remember my grandfather smilingly showing me a poster of Madonna in 1987. He told me that we had the same last name as her and were from the same part of Italy, and I was in awe of the beautiful blonde woman with the dark eyebrows, red lips and mean face who, thrillingly, could maybe (but probably not) be my third cousin, twice removed.
The video for 1989’s “Like A Prayer” featured a mélange of scandalous taboos at the time: interracial making out in a church, bumping and grinding, also in a church, and cleavage bouncing in front of burning crosses next to… a church! So it was perfect for a bunch of 7-year-old Catholic school girls to imitate.
My friends and I did so over recess one day, happily mime-dancing the song on a grassy hill. Life is a mystery… Watching us was the piously hawk-eyed relic of our Catholic elementary school, my second grade homeroom teacher, Mrs. Van Kant. Everyone must stand alone…
Van Kant somehow found out that Madonna the hussy’s last name was also my own, and pulled me aside before class. “I don’t know if you’re related to Madonna,” she said, her stale coffee breath assaulting my nose as she hiss-whispered through her teeth. “But you might be, and she is defiling the church. You better pray for her soul.”
Mrs. Van Kant was terrifying. All tightly wound white curls and high-collared, starched blouses, she constantly rapped a pencil against the palm of her hand while patrolling our desks. And she’d hit kids on the head with it for chewing gum, looking sleepy, or not praying loud enough. Madonna would’ve despised her.
Had I been 12 at the time, I would’ve been like “screw you, you tight ass bitch and hell yes Madonna CICCONE!” but I was not 12. I was 7. I was scared to death of teachers, hell and the devil and wanted nothing more than to be a good Catholic girl. Madonna was really messing with my elementary school God game, so after praying for her, I viewed her with severe side-eyed skepticism and hated her and her whorish ways very much for three years. Until, that is, she became Mae Mordabito.
A League of their Own was the zenith of Madonna’s film career. The 1992 movie had a talented ensemble cast and was about women stepping in to play big league baseball for the masses while the men were off killing Nazis during World War II. They faced ridicule and sexism, they had to play in skirts, and they kicked ass.
Not unlike Madonna herself, #5 Mae Mordabito was lippy, feisty, and wicked. At one point, she poisons her team’s female chaperon Mrs. Cuthburt so the girls can sneak out to go swing dancing. More than anything, Madonna, and the rest of the Rockford Peaches (Geena Davis, fist pump!) made awkward prepubescent girls like me want to be sporty and play baseball, which I did, for a little while.
My musical tastes have always run more rock ‘n roll gypsy than pop princess, and I’d be the first to agree if you told me that Madonna’s songs, voice, words, face, performances, antics, or life choices have insulted you, but love her, hate her, hate to love her, or love to hate her, Madonna has been the pinnacle of female pop stardom for the better part of the past 30 years. She’s sold over 300 million albums, which makes her the world’s top selling female recording artist.
Impressive. But has she lost it?
I worked in a music store in 2003, back when music stores weren’t yet sinking vessels, and I took a lot of flak for American Life. Yes, when you are the unproven distant relative of a mega pop star, you will be hassled for their shitty albums. American Life was Madonna’s worst selling album to date, pushing out only 4 million copies worldwide. She rapped, she wore a beret, she tried too hard, and she failed. She redeemed herself with 2006’s Confessions on a Dance Floor, but since then, her last two albums have been unmemorable at best.
It’s not just that her music has gotten increasingly worse over time, it’s that she seems to be fighting age with avoidance, when her shtick has always been brazen fortitude. There’s her face, which looks pulled and plumped, and her crazy workout regimen, which keeps her muscles over-inflated and her arms veiny, and there’s also her penchant for man-boys thirty years younger than she is. However she wants to live her life is absolutely her business, but grasping at youth with a Dorian Gray fist reeks of insecurity and doesn’t look good on her.
Madonna’s current MDNA tour has featured guns, her standard defamation of crosses, and also some Nazi imagery, including the face of Hitler. It proves that while she’s usually on the socially aware and progressive side of politics, her expressions of these ideas can completely fail to resonate because they come off as crass and uncouth.
And she can be such an asshole.
In France recently, Madonna pissed off attendees to an expensive intimate show by performing for only 45 minutes.
She’s also been in the news thanks to her self-named nemesis Elton John, who, with the fervent passion of a bratty toddler having a tantrum over not wanting to eat his greens, takes every opportunity he can get to give her unsolicited career advice, and call her a cunt. “Why is she such a nightmare? Sorry, her career is over,” Elton said. “Her tour has been a disaster and it couldn’t happen to a bigger cunt.” Snnnaaaap!
Elton continued: “She looks like a fucking fairground stripper. She’s been horrible to Gaga.”
Oh, Lady Gaga.
Unwilling to relinquish the throne to her, is Madonna becoming unstitched by the scissored hand of her successor? Like the annoying little sister, or in this case, niece, who wants nothing more to be–and be better than–her predecessor, Gaga studied the Madonna handbook like my Nonna studies The Bible.
Madonna, in good old ol’ passive aggressive fashion, responded to Gaga’s sampling of “Express Yourself” with: “I thought, ‘What a wonderful way to redo my song.’ I mean, I recognized the chord changes. I thought it was … interesting.”
Gaga undoubtedly borrowed from Madge’s material for “Born This Way,” and has emulated her look, sound, and shock-pop antics, too, but what Gaga has that Madonna doesn’t, besides Elton John in her pocket, is sweetness. I don’t know if it’s contrived or sincere, but Gaga’s all “I love my little monsters,” while Madonna, more piss and vinegar, is like “fuck off if you don’t like my 45-minute show.”
The main difference between the two, however, is that Lady Gaga is Stefani Germanotta’s made-up stage creation, and Madonna, as discussed, was actually born this way.
While we may not always understand where the hell Madonna is going with her music, movies, performances, or other headline grabbing exploits, she always says and does what she wants and stands up for what she believes in.
Recently, she showed support for Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot, who were unfairly jailed and facing a three-year prison sentence for “hooliganism” because they performed an anti-Putin “punk prayer” in a Moscow cathedral. Please. This is how to do Madonna, Madonna-style. Because when done right, she respects it; she gets behind it.
This is evidenced by her recent “Like A Virgin” performance in Moscow, during which she donned the Russian band’s signature balaclava on her head, and had “Pussy Riot” scrawled across her bare back. She also said: “Obviously I believe in freedom of speech and I’m against censorship, so I hope that the judge is lenient with them and that they are freed soon.”
Dimitry Rogozin, the deputy prime minister of Russia, responded to Madonna’s Pussy Riot support via Twitter, writing: “With age, every former s.[lut] tries to lecture everyone on morality, especially during overseas tours.” And if he didn’t just prove himself to be enough of a cretin for you, he then goes full Bible thumper, adding: “Either take off your cross, or put on your knickers.” Doesn’t he remind you of my second grade teacher Mrs. Van Kant? Taking her advice, maybe he should just shut the hell up and pray. You see how I’m getting testy? It’s my unshakeable Ciccone guilt. Despite myself, I’ve got her back.
Two years ago, I took an Alitalia flight from Rome to Sicily. I gave them my passport, and upon seeing my name, the attendant looked at me and smiled wide. She then called a coworker and said, in Italian, “I have Madonna’s niece at my desk!” They bumped me to first class and didn’t charge me for my extra heavy bag.
As she turns 54, my wish for Madonna is to embrace aging like the badass that she is. Stop on-purpose nip-slipping, stop dating 20-year-olds, stop collaborating with the Minajs of the world, stop making bad music and movies. Let Dolce and Gabbana handle all styling always. Take a step back, go away for a while, and maybe even listen to a bit of Sir Elton’s helpful career advice, because during his tirade, he did say, “If Madonna had any common sense she would have made a record like ‘Ray of Light’ and stayed away from the dance stuff and just been a great pop singer and make great pop records, which she does brilliantly.”
Be it a fairground stripper or new age yogi, whatever’s next for Madonna, she’ll be provocative. Just as the Italians are dumfounded that her parents actually named her Madonna, and my teacher told me to pray for her sins, Madonna Ciccone was destined to be a controversial anomaly fighting against the majority. I haven’t always liked or agreed with her, but I have always admired her chutzpah.
She might have the name of a saint, but she’s got the balls of a lion.
On a hot day in mid-July, I was making my way home from the bank. It was one of those sweltering Roman days; so hot that your eyes feel heavy and the ancient buildings and umbrella trees seem to bleed into the golden haze of the scorching sun.
Like a melting Monet.
Waiting at the bus stop, Romans and tourists alike were performing various cool-down rituals: fanning, drinking, shading, stripping, complaining, cursing.
The bus arrived and I was hopeful that the ride would be quick and painless. Stupid, really.
There’s no quicker way to induce an anxiety attack, even in a calm person, than to walk onto a claustrophobic cattle trailer of a bus with the air quality of a polluted bathhouse.
The bus would jerk, and all of us weary travellers would bump into and fall onto each other. Bodies overheated and limp, damp sweaty skin touching damp sweaty skin. Some of the passengers were panting like dogs. Others stood in trance-like states as sweat beads escaped down their faces, arms and legs. The shower-haters were stinking up the joint.
It felt like the entire caravan was breathing directly on me. At a particularly sharp turn, an old man sitting in front of me seized the moment and grabbed my inner thigh, using it as a thick pole with which to steady himself. “Che fai!?” (What are you doing?) I yelled at him, as he made like he couldn’t hear me. I was too hot to say more.
When we finally arrived at my stop, I emerged from the bus and was hit by the hot, humid outside air. I was feeling dirty, nauseous, violated, and incredibly happy to be getting closer to having a cold shower at home.
In my hood – an area called Trastevere, which is just over the Ponte Sisto from Rome’s historic center – people were sitting under the shaded umbrellas at outdoor cafes, and others were walking around as vendors sold trinkets, purses and 1950s still frame shots of stars from Italy’s golden age in cinema (Mastroianni, Loren, Cardinale, Lollobridgida, etc.).
Making my way through the cobblestone streets, I looked down and noticed that my orange sun dress had turned red from a gorgeous combination of bus strangers’ and my own sweat and I wondered if this sort of thing ever happened to Sofia Loren and Gina Lolllobrigida?
I stopped to light a cigarette, as I did from time to time in Rome. As I put my lighter away, a handsome man approached me. He was wearing a fitted, grey Zegna suit, white shirt & purple and green tie; his curly grey-flecked dark hair slicked back casually. This man wasn’t melting; a heat-resistant anomaly in a sea of sweaters.
He stopped in front of me and asked for my lighter, which I gave to him. Handing the lighter back, he inhaled his cigarette deeply, smiled over at me and said “grazie, bella.” To which I said “prego, signore,” and got ready to walk away.
The beautiful man then stopped me, putting his hand on my sweaty arm. He leaned in close and poetic Italian words spewed out of his mouth in a sentancetoorushedtobeunderstood. I asked him to repeat a bit slower, so he did, still speaking quickly, but clear enough for me to understand. After I heard what the question was, I wished I hadn’t asked.
The rough translation of what Zegna suit said is: “will you come with me?” (he pointed behind him at a blacked out Mercedes waiting by the curb), “we’ll have sex and I’ll give you money.”
He continued smiling and smoking and eagerly waited for my response like he was Pat Sejak telling me the great prize I would soon be getting after I did that one little thing. Solved that one little puzzle. Had sex with that one random stranger.
How does a non-hooker respond to this?
I stared at him, a tense smile etched across my face, and he tried to touch my shoulders. I backed away and he looked at me the way a man looks at a woman after he offers her money in exchange for sex and finds out she’s not selling.
If the heat and the demonic bus ride had put me on the edge of losing my cool, this man asking for paid sex sent me flying over it. My fake smile turned into tears. I began heave-crying like a Kim Jong Il mourner, which means I would make a very bad real-life hooker.
I asked him why he thought I was a prostitute. He didn’t answer. Passers-by began to notice as I, a sopping wet sweaty mess of a girl, cry-yelled at a very composed, well-dressed Italian as he calmly smoked his cigarette and blew smoke rings my way.
He started backing away from me, limp jazz hands in front of his chest that said: “I didn’t do anything, calm down.”
Then he said: “Allora, no?” Which, as you can surmise, means “so that’s a no?” “Stronzo,” I said, which means asshole.
The wannabe John (or Giovanni) walked back to his blacked out Mercedes. He turned around and waved at me as his driver opened the door for him. “Son of a bitch,” I said to myself.
Penis pointing to whorehouse, Pompeii
The walk home was a strange one. If I was hot before from the heat, now I was on fire from frustration.
I wasn’t just mad at Giovanni. He was a pathetic moron, yes, but it was but one in a very long line of failures that were leading me to believe that romance was dead.
Even in Italy. The Italians, who supposedly invented the courting game, were seriously fumbling the ball. In fact, I had never been asked more to hook up than I had in Italy. A couple of my favorite lines were: “we can fall in love if only for one night,” (thanks, Pietro), and “why deny yourself the pleasure of using your body for what it was built to do?” (grazie, Mario).
I didn’t fall for either of the above, but I’ve my fair share of romantic misjudgments. Had the act of choosing the guy who’s obviously devoid of any long-term potential instead of maybe sifting through the rubbish for something a bit more… connected? meaningful? significant?… turned up the dial on my desensitization to the warm fuzzy feelings romance, of love? Did I close myself off to it long before I began wondering why I wasn’t finding it?
Maybe I’d been prostituting my heart pro bono to men for the past 15 years, in which case, I was indeed a hooker with a heart of gold.
I went home and had two showers, one for the sweat and one for the shame. As I applied my Nivea, I realized I had forgotten to ask Giovanni what he would have paid. Not that it would have mattered.
I washed my sun dress in the sink. I ate some cherries. I got ready for the unknown battle of my next Roman outing.
Getting mistaken for a hooker didn’t make me feel like Pretty Woman but would you think I was a hussy if I told you that I contemplated Zegna’s offer for the briefest second? Not while it was happening, but after, upon reflection.
This is a part of the reason I was so upset by it all. Had Italy made me insane? Only if overblown romantic notions make a person insane (and they can). But if romantic fantasies can’t run amuck in Rome, where can they? I wasn’t actually thinking about turning tricks, but here’s a snapshot of my totally unrealistic and possibly offensive after-the-fact daydream about it all…
I’m imagining this as a scene from Bertolucci movie come to life. (I have to switch to third person now because I’m a Catholic, failed, but still guilt stricken…)
A foreigner in Italy gets approached by a handsome stranger after she’s turned away from the store for her card being declined. The kind man with his chiseled face and perfect suit offers the strapped-for-cash damsel cash money for an afternoon delight. She contemplates, accepts and brings the man home to her small, old Roman apartment. They don’t speak. They’re skin to skin, in a sweltering bedroom with silk scarves over the lamps and fresh flowers in a vase by the bed. The fan’s pulsing, the sheets are on the floor, sweat is dripping. They fall in love, but only for an afternoon. Afterwards, she falls asleep. He puts money and a handwritten note under a bowl of fresh cherries on the nightstand, kisses her forehead and leaves. They never see each other again.
I only thought about it for a second…
I was thinking today about how I’ve all but abandoned this blog since moving back from Rome. Sure, Rome was a profound and unique experience for me, but it can’t stop there, right? Life can be profound and interesting elsewhere and I’m going to try to bring you profound and interesting things and keep this blog up better. Maybe I’ve been hesitant to blog because I know that nowhere can compete with Italy, at least for me.
In Rome, the beauty was in the buildings, the people, the trees, the air. You’re spoiled by it and haunted by it and most of all, mesmerized by it. I sometimes joke with people that living in Italy ruined me for life. All jokes are half true, you know? The experience of living in a place where Disney princess fairy dust floats through the air is indeed mind altering. In my old apartment in Trastevere, which is one of Rome’s oldest and illest areas, I’d work sitting by an open window. Everyday, like clockwork, the smell of fresh baked bread and the most delicious candy you can imagine would waft in on a gentle breeze. I’d look up at the little angel statue carved into the building across the street and the groups of ivy crawling up the wall beside her, and then I’d look down at those charming, uneven cobblestone streets and shake my head. how is this real?
I’m fully aware that Italy has more problems than not. Especially now. What I’m referring to has nothing to do with national debt crisis, or the backwards politics, or the illogical bureaucracy or the bunga bunga bullshit. It’s more the fabric of a culture that was built around living for pleasure. Once you’ve experienced living in a place where they want to enjoy everything they see, taste, smell and touch, it’s hard to come back to concrete sidewalks and frothy, burnt cappuccinos.
It’s also hard to compete with the pizza. Pizza is the best thing Italians ever invented, in my opinion, and I do enjoy it in all of its forms. But I’ve actually been thinking about Italian pizza all day. The thin crust, the simple punchy tomato sauce, the mozzarella. I’m officially salivating. I will return to Italy one day and the first thing I’m doing is getting myself a pizza.
Pizza Margherita, love of my life
Speaking of beauty and enjoying life, I just witnessed two construction workers have an uncontrollable giggle fit in my back alley. It was pretty beautiful.
In 1987, the world was a simpler place. The air was cleaner, the roads were emptier, and moms, dads, kids and cousins used to pack into the family Volvo to go see a double header at the drive in movie theatre on Saturday evenings.
My family did just that one fine Toronto summer night. The double bill was Back to the Future and Dirty Dancing. Back to the Future was not a new movie at the time, but Dirty Dancing was.
Even though I was only 5-years-old, even though I peed my pants halfway through the film and my mom forced me to put on one of my little sister’s diapers, even though my older cousin called me “Carla Smelly Diaper Pants” because of this for years to come, watching Dirty Dancing for the first time is one of my favorite childhood memories.
The movie is pure nostalgia. A movie about dancing because you want to. Dancing for money. Dancing for love. Dancing all sexy like in front of children and seniors even though the boss man tells you you’re not allowed.
But it’s not just a movie about dancing. It’s also a coming of age love story, and a film that was largely untroubled by Hollywood expectations. A simple, captivating story that no one knew would be a hit when they were making it.
This is why remaking Dirty Dancing 25 years later solely to make money will never work. You can’t recreate movie magic by ripping off a classic. Will you never learn, Hollywood?
I don’t want to see anyone else as Johnny Castle or Baby Houseman or Penny or even grumpy old Max Kellerman.
Children of the 80s, it’s time to stand up and REVOLT!
I have declared today Eddie Vedder day because I like to declare things and because every day should be Eddie Vedder day.
When I was 13, I had a poster on my bedroom wall of Vedder pulling up his shirt while singing. I was a little pervert, I guess.
Look I found it!
But more than a man with killer abs, Ed Ved has been a constant source, or voice, of comfort and inspiration throughout the years. He’s an insanely talented, passionate musician, and he has that silky but towering baritone that can tear you apart one minute and melt you like butta the next.
I took the above picture at Virgin Fest 2009 in Calgary where I got to be up close and personal with the band from the press pit. As I prepare to see Mr. Vedder this evening at Oakland’s Paramount Theatre, where he’s playing the second of two sold-out shows in support of his album Ukulele Songs, I’m telling the 13-year-old girl inside of me to calm down. This concert will be one of contained passion – just Ed and his uke, singing songs, sotto voce.
While the soulful crooner may no longer occupy any scandalous wall space in my bedroom, he’s made an indelible impression on my life. I sincerely thank him for what his music has given to me and I can’t wait to spend tonight singing along with him.
Here’s a video of Eddie singing Elderly Woman Behind a Counter in a Small Town – one of the first songs that started off my lifelong love affair with Pearl Jam.
Ready? 1, 2, 3, 4, 2, 3 . . .
I just watched the film Blue Valentine starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams. A terribly stark look at the sun-kissed glow of love at the beginning of a relationship contrasted with the souring stench of a love gone bad in that same relationship years later.
It was a sad, uncomfortable movie to watch, but one that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about since it finished. So please excuse me while I get a little philosophical on you. Actually, let’s invite 19th century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche into the conversation.
He was famous for his “God is dead” theory, but Nietzsche also said: ”There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness.”
We hunger for love, look for it, maybe even need it, and have the ability to feel it so profoundly. To intensely connect with another human on that level might be the most beautiful, fulfilling thing in life, and yet equally as great as our ability to love is our ability to hurt and devastate those same people we loved. No one wants to cause pain to someone they once loved so purely (well, usually not), but it happens. We take advantage of each other, we stop appreciating each other, we cheat on each other, we fall out of love with each other, we ruin each other.
Since we do this to each other over and over again knowing what we’re getting into, we’re all a little mad, no? Anyone who has ever had his or her heart broken knows full well the terrifying pain and torment it is to go through that loss, and yet, many of us can hide the scares of past hurt and jump right back in when the opportunity for love presents itself again. To me, this is a brave, courageous thing to do, and one I’m trying to be better at.
Dr. Maya Angelou, who is my guru of life unbeknownst to her, says: “Have enough courage to trust love one more time. And always one more time.”
In honor of living through love gone bad, here’s Arcade Fire’s Crown of Love:
Clarence Clemons passed away today. Love and condolences to his family and friends. RIP Big Man.
Springsteen’s songs can hit hard, but before that hurt can linger, Clarence’s sax always sweetens the sting & carries us home.