Taos, New Mexico: Eat-Write-Publish Workshop
April 15-20, 2018:
"DH Lawrence Windows for Inspiration"
Five women and one man signed up for five or so days of learning more about writing and pitching books for publication. Among the writers at various stages of completion, meeting for the first time, are an Englishman formerly involved in the film business, with one completed novel, and another started, and a couple of poets, youngish-looking women. One turns out to be much older than her appearance, age 59, with a spouse to keep her company in the off-hours, while the other is in her 30s, an experienced theater director and dancer. Also present and ready to learn is a self-published novelist, retired from administration and working on her second tome, accompanied by her self-termed "bestie," who had volunteered to “chauffer" them, and a memoirist writing about her ex-husband. He announced one day that he wanted to go through sex reassignment surgery and had hoped to stay married. Last is me, the former academic sociologist, with my memoir on the Rolling Stones and the men in my life, in progress.
Our teachers include a font of supportive energy and wonderful writing tips, Judyth Hill, now of Colorado, formerly a resident of Santa Fe, a poet with a sometimes day job as a chef, and Katharine Sands from New York City, a black-clad, low-voiced literary agent and teacher of optimal methods of “pitching” a book. They advised me to do short readings around town to stir up interest as my memoir goes along, and perhaps an essay representative of the book’s themes.
Half the fun was just staying at Mabel Dodge Luhan’s house, once occupied by a bevy of artists and writers who had rooms named for them, including, of course, Georgia O’Keefe and D. H. Lawrence. At one point around the making of Easy Rider, Dennis Hopper bought the place, now known as the “Mud House” and as a hippie heaven, much to many of the townspeople’s dismay. I chose to focus on the creative auras emanating from the older era. I lucked out with my room, named for Mabel’s fourth husband, Tony Luhan on the second floor, with its porch, and bathroom with the well-known windows painted by D.H. Lawrence. Theoretically private, just for me, visiting tourists could see the paintings from afar from the outside. The windows resembled stained glass, covering the view from insiders looking out, and more importantly from outsiders looking in, from Mabel herself, who apparently had a thing for D.H. I didn’t have a chance to visiting Taos’ La Fonda hotel, which had a permanent exhibit of several of Lawrence’s large paintings of nudes, considered scandalous when first shown, like his infamous novels.
Ending up as tour guide because of the bathroom windows, I thought a few people deserved to see them up close, even though they were closed off to the public, when guests stayed upstairs. One couple, it turned out, was from New York City, where the woman had worked as a sociologist and then an administrator at a college. We spent time laughing and talking out on the porch connected to my room. I spoke to the wife of the other pair in the main lobby. I asked her where she was from, given her accent. She said Denmark, whereas her husband hailed from the UK, I later found out. She told me they were leaving right after her husband finished purchasing a book. Some time later I saw him sitting in the office and asked him what was up? He said he had found a comfortable chair and had watched all the interesting people come and go. What I couldn’t resist was when he announced, “I feel like a character in Waiting for Godot." I asked if he wanted to see the windows up close. He and his wife climbed up the steep stairs, he took out his camera and proceeded to ooh and ahhh, asking his wife to move the shower curtains for a better view. He called me “this nice lady” for allowing him this treat of an opportunity.
Meanwhile, I learned quite a bit, and picked up an editor, when I can afford her, my writing teacher. From the agent I learned more about how to better catch an agent or editor's eye, hopefully, with a crafted query letter containing an informative author bio and a provocative book description. After coaching on “performing” your writing, I managed to demonstrate enough skill to drum up interest in my forthcoming book. One writer called it “awesome” and a few wanted to know when they could buy the work when it was finished. My writing teacher encouraged me to just go ahead and write the whole book instead of finishing a proposal. Okay, will do. Working title is Mick, My Men, and Me. It's about my major relationships, with vignettes on The Rolling Stones. As noted above, as advised, I plan to do a reading or two or three around town, during the writing and after, maybe starting this summer. Anyone in the area reading here is invited, of course, would love to see you there. "Start me up!"
Amsterdam, Pt. II: It's Show Day!
September 30, 2017 (Written March 4, 2018)
On the day of the show, I talked Sandra (San) into getting up early. Of course, she made breakfast for the two adorable kids, a boy and a girl, ages 7 and 5 at the time. They heard I was coming and that I only spoke English. They mostly spoke Dutch so that left us with nonverbal communication except for “Hoi’” and “Bye.” Then I had the idea to read one of their books in English out loud with San’s son. He chose Walter the Farting Dog, and quickly took over the reading, each of us teaching the other about our languages,.
So anxious was I to beat the crowds and hit the rail, not the one directly in front of the stage or ramp, saved for the Pit people, but to make the fence right outside the pit, in in front of our section. I had us buy “early entry” tickets, part of a package. These placed in what is usually called the “gold circle.” San humored me—this premium price had never been paid before to see any entertainment by her or her husband. Sander (San2) preferred to stay at home, because someone had to mind the kiddies. Besides not wanting to spend the money, he hated crowds. Oh, yeah, those.
So there we were, almost the first ones in the stadium, having little idea that the security people wouldn’t even let the lines form for a couple of hours. I told San she could tell me her whole life story that day. Instead we talked to other fans and those working the area. San knew sign language so she communicated with a deaf person who told her something of what the procedure would be for us early entry folks. First in line for one of the several swinging metal turnstiles, we soon met up with Marek and Alexandra, and Anne and Jacques, who would stand next to us at the fence.
Everything was cool until the rains started, maybe an hour before they were to let us in, after the band finished their warm-up. Without brellys, San strode off to buy us rain ponchos, as the drops turned into sheets of rain. I thought how lucky we were to be soon entering a covered venue. Soon we were in a bigger line and somehow not at the very front as those closer to the entrance in their queues and those who ran ahead beat us there. Our spot was still good enough for San to run ahead of me when they finally opened the doors to the left gate, only five or six spots from the closest we could be in our area. We had the choice of end of the ramp or side and I think we chose well.
We were all by ourselves in front there, until they let the pit people in and everyone in the rest of the sides who piled in almost on top of us. I wondered if I could last another umpteen hours in there. I fantasized about calling San2 to come and get me. We sat down at times. This twenty-something female fan asked me if I could move my legs, already pulled up. I told her no, my legs only go back so far into my body. What was scary to know is there was no way I could leave my spot, either to go to the restroom, or get any food or drink. I did go out very early on, and Alexandra went out through the crowd once, coming back a long while later advising us not to try it. After the show I heard there was a narrow pathway shared by the pit people and our section that became so congested during the tail end of the opening act that people started fighting, and also that some fans ended up pissing in their empty drink cups. Not my idea of fun. I wish I would have won my special adult diaper type pants that I had not needed in the few pit experiences I had before, with exits more readily available and inside waits not quite as long.
The concert details, set list, more pics, and fourteen reviews are on Bjornulf Vic’s site, here: https://iorr.org/tour17/amsterdam.htm. One guy said we got “Omaha’d.” meaning screwed out of a diverse set list, well, what else is new with the Stones? We did get "Shine a Light," though, a rarity in concert. Since this was my only show this tour, I didn’t care, and there are always new moments in each show, I find, even in the same town and venue, having gone to two in London the last time around in 2007. I'm with the fan consensus that this was a very energetic and well-played concert. What made the whole twelve-hour experience from waiting to enter the venue to exiting it worth it for me was San’s reaction on seeing the band come out. She kept saying, "Wow," later describing to me how she caught the essence of each band member, and with that, my fascination with the group. Because of her tall stature, she bent over the whole show to allow a better view for people in back of her, unlike what I’ve seen other tall people do who stand in front. Along with that, seeing Mick’s reaction to the outpouring of emotion from the crowd when he stepped out from the current and onto the ramp almost broke my heart with happiness. He lurched back from the physical impact of the crowd’s joy.
About two hours of show later, having a clear view mainly when each principal, aside from drummer Charlie strolled out on the ramp dividing the pits, I vowed to do pit or nothing in the future. I also promised myself no more stadiums, both vows broken when notice of venues and then shortly, tickets for the spring tour became available. As I traversed the flights of stairs down leading to the exit, I muttered the Boomer's dreaded words, "I think I'm getting too old for this." Back home, a female acquaintance said she had a replacement phrase: "That ship has sailed." I like it better. San told me we could go to a nearby McDonald's for bathrooms, water, and, yay, ice cream. San drove us back to her family abode, about an hour outside of town and we hit the hey, the rest of her household long asleep.
Here's the logo first put out for the May-June UK/Europe tour, at first called "No Stopping," which I thought was a great title, soon changed to "No Filter," Part II. I figure the revised title meant not to expect a new stage or considerably changed set list. I'll be there, will you? Cuz , you know, (horrors!) "This could be the last time," except for a final swing around the States sometime soon.
Andee on the Road: Amsterdam, Netherlands:
"Taking my Dutch Friend to Her First Rolling Stones Show, at the Amsterdam Arena"
Sept. 28--Oct. 1, 2017
Part I: The Days Before the Show:
After hitting two major art museums in the great city of Amsterdam, both within blocks of my hotel, I started my musical journey through four shows, with the big one last: The Rolling Stones, the boys themselves on a European tour mysteriously named "No Filter." Two nights before, Mick's brother Chris Jagger performed in a club called The Q Factory. Buying tickets a few hours beforehand, I met a bunch of fun fans, mainly Dutch, with a few Americans. They wore Stones-related garments. I had posted this shot before on FB of three guys spontaneously posing. We exchanged a few mutually amusing tales and one Dutch fellow ended up emailing that evening, inviting me and a friend to his and his wife's place for dinner, if I was in town in a few days. Alas, I was not. At the show, my new American friends, a married couple and their twenty-something son joined me in the front row, where I met fans from a few different countries. I asked the husband and wife if they had been to the Dutch coffee shops and they said no, but their son had. Ha, we laughed about those kids today. Turns out the son had decided the family should come overseas to attend the big show and even paid for the tickets.
Chris Jagger, the headliner was terrific, and only if you knew he had a famous brother would you notice the resemblance in sense of humor, movement, and a penchant for the blues, with, in Chris' case, more than a touch of country, and a Hendrix playing guitarist. During the excellent show I got into a back-and-forth discussion with one of the band member's acquaintances about her picture-taking blocking my enjoyment of the show. She finally moved but not before someone documented our interaction, from the back to put up on youtube. The band member acknowledged what was going on from the stage, while still playing his instrument, and with that I won't say more, out of respect for his musicianship, if not the quality of his friends. I left a little early to meet an Uber driver who had promised to meet me to take me back to my hotel. What was I thinking? This was the big city. Plus I did not prepare my phone to function optimally in the Neths. About an hour later, after trying to flag down a cab expecting a different rider, I finally found an enpty Uber car whose driver agreed to cancel another ride to take me back to the Museumplein.
A brief note on the classical concert of rock music at the grand concert hall the Concertgebouw is that I left early, what else is new? I exited very early, maybe with over half hour left in a ninety minute show. I didn't care for the music, operatic Led Zeppelin at its best. What did I expect from a performance by the Prague symphony orchestra called "Rock the Opera?" It was more like opera-tizing the rock was the problem. The combo of the orchestra, the histrionic female soloists and the original music did not work for me. Interestingly, a young couple came in late but another young couple had taken their seats. For a little while they sat next to me...a large post blocked their view, not mine though. They exchanged seats for their paid tickets and still left in a short while. Can't say I blamed them, though I don't think they gave it a fair chance, not like me. Haha. I think the Prague's conductor woke up from a nightmare and decided to give this concept a try.
The night before the "rilly big shew" was the Shidoobee canal cruise and the IORR cover band, probably too much excitement for me. Sandra or San, my beautiful, sweet Dutch friend, a couple of decades younger than me had promised to come with me if the Stones ever came back to Amsterdam, and by god, here they were. After a long day at work in another part of the country, she came by the bar near the canal where the fans met to meet me for the duration of my visit. Trouble is it started raining, the drops coming down hard, hard enough that we didn't know if the cruise could even go on. Meanwhile people gathered and drank and talked. Here is a fan, Phil, and me in a very nice picture taken by an unknown fan just before we embarked onto the boat, almost sliding off the dock with the water. I caught up with an old friend at a table below while my friend San enjoyed the sights above that she's likely seen a number of times, if not necessarily from that vantage point, at night, no less. I know she never waved to the Rolling Stones in case they looked out of their window at the Amstel.
Later that night was the very talented group of fans from IORR who played Stones songs to a packed house. I hope to see them again when I am not so tired and San is not so hungry (insert Water House). When we came in after the cruise I heard "Can't You Hear Me Knocking" and thought it came from a jukebox, not a live cover band.
To be continued...Part II: "No Filter "in Amsterdam
NOVEMBER 2016: "Exihibtionism": NEW YORK CITY
OCTOBER 19, 2016: Rolling Stones: LAS VEGAS, NEVADA