Humble Beginnings for an Angry Psycho

It’s so easy to forget the people that inspired, directed, or that you admired that lead you into something (hopefully good).  Someone extraordinary that took an interest in you, perhaps, when you were looking for a place to fit in within the world.

There were really two escapes for me in life – music and writing. They work in tandem for the most part to keep me alive in a world that so often dampens every emotion.

Once I got out of high school and into the freedom of college life I really discovered the live show. Live shows can be so powerful it feels like an exorcism or sex, and when the object of your musical affection initiates any contact it changes you.

The first artist to take an interest in me as a person – not a fan – was POE.  Her genuine effort to connect with her fans was not lost on me.  I became somewhat of an honorary member of her crew, and when she packed up for tour I would be right with her entourage in the Texas, Oklahoma, sector.  I was eighteen the first time I sat on a tour bus; POE’s tour bus.  I philosophized with her merch girl and tech guy on music, and I helped her cellist (Cameron) maneuver between groupies.  I was the female William in  Almost  Famous, except I never ended up Cameron Crowe.

Back then little Ben Kweller was in a much-hyped band called Radish – a wonder boy he was tagged in the industry.  Too bad they didn’t live up to the expectations of the machine, but Ben did really well on his own much later – as a man.  I’ll never forget the chubby-cheeked blond singer begging me on my 18th birthday (The EDGE X-mas show) to introduce him to POE.  About ten years later at an ATO X-mas party, we ran into each other again and he remembered this as clearly as I did.

POE was the real deal, and it left an imprint on me.

Ps. The Angry Psychos = her fans.

Oklahoma, I still believe in ya!

Some people believe you choose your family prior to birth, and if that’s true then I chose the most loving, open hearted, and understanding, family one could have picked. Unfortunately, they settled in Oklahoma, by way of California. Yeah, I don’t get it either but so it goes that my grandmother, the eldest of the Montano clan, made the pilgrimage to Oklahoma for a man and her little sister followed suit. Had they met after the second wave of the Women’s Lib., I’m sure the story would be that the men made the pilgrimage to California for the gold!

Oklahoma might be landlocked and not feature ocean-front property, nor does it have a tranquil desert spread through its land but the Native American history is still very well and alive in small towns named after the legacy; Checotah, Geronimo, Hoot Owl, Indiahoma, Kiowa, Muskogee, Oolagah, Pawhuska, Quapaw, Sapulpa, Tahlequah, Talihina (where I was born), Tishomingo, Wapanucka, Yukon, and so on. If you’ve never been to Oklahoma then you couldn’t possibly know the beauty of the Kiamichi Mountains in Fall especially since my brother’s spirit is perched at the very top of those mountains.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of red dirt that doesn’t come off your shoes easily, or at all if you have an old pair. Hell, the red dirt even has it’s own genre of music, and it’s not just “Texas Red Dirt.” Fact, red dirt only got from Oklahoma to Texas because Texas sucks. See, I’m a loyal Okie that pokes fun at Texans (even though in reality Oklahoma is more culturally devoid than Texas), lets everyone know which celebrities were from Oklahoma, and roots on Oklahoma’s college teams since we have no professional ones.

I’m not blindly loyal though, to anyone, ever. If my brother murdered someone, I would urge him to confess or I would have to do it for him (cough, cough, unlike some sisters in Oklahoma I know). When Oklahoma voted McCain over Obama due to racism (I took a survey of which I won’t go into but yeah the “N” word is commonplace), I’m the first to stand up and let people know that the majority does not speak for the minority. Thankfully, the rest of the world picked up the slack on that one and Obama is in office. When the bigot Oklahoma State Representative, Sally Kern, made headlines for her hateful anti-gay remarks and continues to do such, I call her office non-stop to try and educate her on Gays, Lesbians, Bisexual, and Transgendered people. Even now her ignorance shows:

Sally Kern is an Oklahoma state representative with her own, unique take on the economic crisis: gays are to blame.

So let’s apply some simple Math for Ms. Kern (not sure they had that when she was in school). If a low population of people can be the reason for a state’s entire economic crisis then that must mean that the revenue these people make are insanely higher than the majority. Now, let’s get fancy and put in some statistics..that would mean that the minority factor here, LGBT’s (same-sex couples accounted for less than 1% of overall Oklahoma population in the 2000 census–I’m assuming that is because most were afraid of being openly gay in Oklahoma and by afraid I mean fearful for their life, as well as the fact the census under served the gay community in 2000 and single LGBT’ers) make so much more money than 99% of Oklahoma’s population that we alone can make or break a state. Wow, no wonder Pepsi, MTV, and other big corporations have embraced us. That also must mean, granted you assume the more money you make equals to more intelligence and academic merit you have, that LGBT folks are pretty damn smart! In the next census (2010) the LGBT community will be better served by collecting data on same-sex couples (still yet under serving the community by not including gender identification and single LGBT’ers but it’s a start), and I’m going to go out on a limb and just tell you that us gay couples contribute a buttload of money into the economy so imagine if our taxes were taken away from the entire country. Wow! If we can single handedly break an entire state, I’d hate to see what we can do to a country.

Oh Ms. Kern, you’re an idiot.

Oklahoma, listen up, ok? hehehe. This is just plain archaic what I’m reading about abortion. I know my small hometown would easily be able to spot that girl that ‘moved closer to her orthodontist’ or got half a dozen abortions to save her overly strict parents from embarrassment. We suspected in high school, but now stuff like that would be confirmed. C’mon, isn’t discrimination tiresome?

Get on the phones, call the leaders in your state and let them know how you feel about this stuff or write a letter. I can speak from experience that your words and you matter in change, but you need to be heard. Let Ms. Kern know if only 1% of the population is accounting for your state being broke then for heaven’s sake why wouldn’t you want the minority to be fully integrated into the population..imagine what the poor state would get back from the active minorities?! Women, get on the phone and let your state government know that YOU have the say over your body and deserve the privacy of your choices.

I don’t live in Oklahoma, and I’m happy to work for a company (MTV) that holds equality in the highest regard so that I can achieve greatness within it. I also live in a state that includes me fully into the population (lucky them that they get 45% of my paycheck for simply giving me something that should be free, freedom). I still remain loyal to Oklahoma, which is why I posted this blog because there is 1% of the Oklahoma population that are bullied by Ms. Kern and company and their spirit is heavy.

Oklahoma is beautiful, and even though I’m disappointed in the politics of the poor state over and over again, I still have hope that those amazing spirits that reside there (like my family and friends that are truly great people) will join together to make Oklahoma great like it’s people. Then you can send Ms. Kern to Texas!

Gentle Loneliness

Stumbling into a bar, midday, alone and without any sense of urgency, albeit aimless.  The male bartenders in anytown, USA, pretty much look the same, but it’s their distinguished dialect that differentiates between the regions.  I remember a handful of bars because of their bar speciality, like the Greek tavern by Port Authority in New York City where the owner makes his own stout red wine and generously keeps my glass full without a bill.  I remember other bars for different reasons like Bar of America in Truckee, California, due to embedded nuanceslike the assymetically placed clock beside a large hole in the wall that could easily be covered up by that damn clock.    It’s not really about the bar, itself, that captures the aesthetically pleasing side of my loneliness.  No, it’s the ambiance of life’s vibrations and the romanticized connection to all those sentences I’ve read about characters that have sat on the same type of stool, in the same type of bar, experiencing the same synapses of mood, that connect me to these places. 

It doesn’t end at bars.  There are a series of places that come to mind like some scene of a coming-of-age movie where the shadow of loneliness envelopes the main character causing them to reflect and move forth in life, back on track.  Right off the interstate in Dallas, Texas, there is a grassy knoll hidden by an overpass that is across the street from a well-known hospital.  It was there that I would sit for hours just looking into the vastly lit wide open Texas sky at night, waiting for an epiphany.  I’ve used the term ‘epiphany’ so much that it’s often spouted out from my mom’s mouth in reference to wise stories from a strong-lived life as what my mom calls, “what’s your term?  I had an EPIPHANY.” 

I counted it up once and I had moved 32 times give or take a couple houses during my parent’s divorce, 5 different states, 20 different zip codes, 7 of those were in a NYC burrough, and 3 different towns in New Jersey.  That’s a lot of unsettledment in one lifetime.  I wasn’t running from anything per se as much as I was running toward this idea of a life that I only knew from books and movies. 

Nowdays I can’t really concentrate in bars due some latent A.D.D. that has me more interested in people watching than sitting with my gentle loneliness that brought forth much of my writing.  Other than my pickiness of not sitting by a kitchen or facing the crowd in a restaurant, I don’t really notice symmetrically conflicting items like oddly placed decorative ornaments.  I also just bought a house so there’s no need to go anywhere but home to find myself anymore. 

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When 31 isn’t cool…

Being a big sister has been rewarding in many ways, but mostly I was different than all the other sisters in the world; I was cool.   In college my brother proclaimed, “I’m going to live wherever you live when I get older, sissy.”  His loyalty ballooned my heart and helped me catch my breath in various stages of my life.  There was always this little guy that thought I was the coolest person in the world.  When my bruised ego pushed my shoulders to the ground, there he was–I was cool.  When I felt I couldn’t love anymore, there he was–someone I truly loved. 

While I did the college thing at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, OK, my little brother tagged along a couple weekends as I visited the local hangouts.  When I lived in Dallas, Texas during my Turn On, Tune In, and Drop Out phase, he was sent to stay with me and get me out of the Tie Dye.  After fame and fortune left me like a one-night stand, he came out to New York City to let me know that I was a star in his world.  There hasn’t been a place I’ve lived that my brother Blake hasn’t visited. 

This visit was different and as my place in life had solidified over the past few years,  his was changing in every way every single day–adolescence.  In fact, for the first time in his life I wasn’t cool.  I suppose I thought I would always be the cool big sister and never that old fart that referred to his uber bass levels as too loud or the uncool old hag that couldn’t point out cool truck rims from regular ones.  Even working at MTV wasn’t cutting it in his world since ‘MTV hadn’t been cool in over a decade’  and Maplewood, NJ was a suburbia he didn’t think he could live.  For the first time in my life I had moved from an era of cool into 31 is not cool.

As he walked out the door this morning from my New Jersey Colonial  to head back to Oklahoma after a visit to my first laying of roots, I knew our dynamic had shifted.  No longer would life send my little brother to check on me and lift me up, but rather I would be sent into his to return the favor. 

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