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Recycling Cher

Gschercd Before I go, I’d like to knock off a new Cher CD review, the latest in an endless pile of Cher greatest hits assemblages to tumble out of the great black hole that is Cher Compilation Production. Or maybe instead there’s a factory somewhere at the south pole where elves contemplate various ways to re-combine Cher hits with Cher not-so-much-hits, those same overworked and malnourished elves packaging it all ambivalently into lackluster booklets with ill-researched biographies and ever-mounting accolades stuffed into first or closing sentences of liner note essays written by people we’ve never heard of.

It’s my dream job really.

Universal has a new line called Universal Green Series (Recycle reuse replay), one of those rubber-stamp series sets. I guess you’re meant to collect them all so your CD shelves look swell, like having a shelf lined with Library of America books, only you’re not fooling anybody because everybody knows people with choreographed bookshelves really don’t read.

The Best of Cher (if I had a dime for every Best of Cher CD I own...I’d have something like 7 or 8 dimes) contains the following:

  1. I Got You Babe
  2. The Beat Goes On
  3. Half Breed
  4. Dark Lady
  5. Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves
  6. Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)
  7. Living in a House Divided
  8. The Shoop Shoop Song
  9. We All Sleep Alone
  10. I Found Someone
  11. Just Like Jesse James
  12. Heart of Stone
  13. After All
  14. Love and Understanding
  15. If I Could Turn Back Time

I listened to this new CD driving down Artesia Boulevard in LA with my boyfriend one Saturday morning on our way out for a breakfast of huevos rancheros. Of all the songs, he seems to like...ahem... “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves” best for its soap-operatic storyline.

Let me take a moment to express my extreme irritation with the constant misspellingGypsys_2 of this song title. Or rather, the constant corrected spelling of this song title. According to Merriam Webster “gypsies” is in fact the correct spelling (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gypsies); however, the album title is spelled “Gypsys Tramps & Thieves” with a "y" in the plural form of gypsies and an ampersand. I’m just saying titles are sacrosanct and shouldn’t be meddled with even if they’re incorrect. It’s part of their charm.

My boyfriend snickered at "Just Like Jesse James" but that may be my relentless anti-Diane Warren influence talking. As bad Diane Warren songs go, "Jesse James" is so much better than "Love and Understanding." The lyrics drive me nuts; they’re so vapid. If I may encapsulate the great theme of this piece: basically there’s just not enough love and understanding. Love can’t be found when we need it (it seems). “When love's supply don't meet love's demand.” Love, love, love. We seem to have enough stars, sun, cars, planes, buildings, and ambition  – yup we got more than enough of those things. “But there’s one thing there's just not enough of...” Well, two things technically: love and understanding. We could use some more. Troubled times. Oh why oh why isn’t there enough? What should we do? Where do we stand? We’ve got to find it.

I guess I just don’t have enough love and understanding myself when it comes to explicating this piece of work. But then I would counter that not enough love and understanding was taken with detail and creativity in that pop song.

So back to the CD array of hits at hand (I love to ponder this stuff, I really do). There are two 60s S&C songs (IGUB and Beat Goes On) and three big 70s solo songs (Half Breed, Dark Lady, Gypsys). So far we have no consistent chronological order here. Then rewind to a solo 60s hit (Bang Bang) and back forward to a minor 70s hit (House Divided), then we get whiplash racing ahead to The Shoop Shoop Song which looks like it works as sort of a bridge (skipping over Take Me Home) to her 80s hits. After those, the collection abruptly stops.

Packaging is all 80s pics on cardboard. The bio is brief and full of holes (they have Cher working with Phil Spector when she meets Sonny, as if Phil discovered her not Sonny), and again the story stops short of her 90s comeback, as if it were produced pre-Believe.

Elvisc In summary, this CD is no great shakes as good Cher compilations go (she’s overdue a juicy boxed-set). But I guess I support this label’s cause of recycling. So if someone stole this CD out of my car I wouldn’t cry about it.

Like I still cry over that Elvis Costello CD that was stolen out of my rental car during a trip to Flagstaff two years ago. If you’re out there, you know who you are!

   


On Vacation

Babies1 Well kids and kidlets, France is upon me. I’m very excited and I’m getting a bit nervous. But mostly excited...for three reasons. First of all, I’ve never taken a long vacation for myself, even one week away that wasn’t obligated to some dysfunctional family event of some kind. It’s been 40 years of weekend trips here or there just for moi. Secondly, I’ve never left the US...period. Not from not wanting to, mind you. I’ve been wanting to since college. But either I had no money, no vacation time (due to traveling home for Christmas or 4th of July for aforementioned dysfunctional family events), or no courage to go it alone. Thirdly, going to France is a lifelong dream come true, way back to when my brother came home from a week in Le Mans after his high school French three-week trip, bringing back cheese, a porcelain mime doll and news of a hit from Soft Cell. Turns out they were a year ahead of us with “Tainted Love.” How cultured they were! I was in 6th grade and decided it was my destiny to learn French. But lo and behond, French class was pure hell...for six years. But then I met the former French-majoring, Proust-studying bf and he didn’t seem nearly as uptight as all my former French teachers were. My dream was soon re-awakened.

Babies3_2 The bf and I got our euros recently at the Del Amo mall. We have a suitcase full of maps and guidebooks and all our little tubes of toothpaste, fold-up toothbrushes and little bottles of lotions and shampoo. I’ve been cramming French phrases like Mon ami est une moyen-pantalon! and Quel dommage! I’ve started a carnet de voyage, a French-style journal of our trip.

And I promise to look for Cher references while I’m away but you shant be hearing from me. You’re on your own for two weeks. Here’s a list of Cher videos to keep you company.

      

 

Have a great two weeks!

   


Questions to Cher Scholar

94sanctuary_s_3 On Thursday, October 5 2006 Michael Cox wrote:

Hi, u know where I can buy Sanctuary items? Thank u J.

Mr.Cox is Referring to two catalogues from 1994 and 1995.

Unfortunatley he missed the era of her catalogue business in the mid-90s. He also  95sanctuary_sc missed her selling off some of the over-stock on her website during the Believe and Farewell Tours. And now he's just missed her latest garage sale. So...short of stalking eBay for the catalogues, I’d suggest heading over to Europe yourself to find your own gothic tchotchkes. Well, okay...it's not that drastic yet.

My own eBay search brought up a gothic trash can

Sanccan    

   

   

   

   

   

and towel holder.

Towlholder   

   

   

   

   

 

At first I freaked out, thinking that towl holder had been mounted askance in some sort of wood-paneled On Golden Pond cabin. But the towel holder is just eBay-posing on a hardwood floor. Everybody calm down.

Do your own search: http://search.ebay.com/cher+sanctuary

A Sanctuary artist talks about a necklace designed for Cher on the site Parrish Relics. Parrish Relics? Sounds like good times.

Here's a New York Times article published when the catalogs came out. The article contains interesting facts I must have missed comprehending back then, including:

  • “In London, she met Clyde Wainright, a curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum, and became entranced with his recent exhibition on the work of A.W. Pugin, a 19th Century architect who popularized pointy Gothic arches for country estates.” Remember this was a common theme during the late 2006 Cher auction...all that Pugin-stuff.
  • “Cher’s public relations representative [I wonder if that was a fun job or a hair-pulling-out job] say the "image of the Sanctuary customer is a woman between 20 and 45.”

I don't know why that's interesting...but for some reason it is. When the catalogue came out, I was tempted to buy the incense because it was cheap. But then I realized I hate incense. My celebrity obsession hits a limit with smells I hate.

Incense1_2 Incence2

   


Videos of the week – the 80s

Cannes_2  Because last week we did so many 60s and turn-of-the-70s Cher clips, I wanted to post a mid-80s piece to be refreshing, specifically one of the scenes cut from the movie Mask: Cher and Eric Stoltz singing a duet. Another Cher duet, can you believe it? No wonder the paparazzi thought they were dating.  Unfortunately the clip was removed “for user violations” from that meany-poo video website that shall not be named.

We’ll have to drown our sorrows with these:

  • a news clip after Cher’s award win at Cannes
  • And the Siskel & Ebert review of Mask. Look at their outfits! I love it when Ebert exclaims about Cher: “where did she come from! She was a has-been singer and now suddenly she’s one of our best dramatic actresses!” and then Siskel says “and picking interesting projects” and Ebert agrees. Amazing encapsulation of her success at the time, and interestingly what is so frustrating about the last two or three movies, they’re not as interesting as those first five or six. You get the feeling that Cher agreed to do those more heavy stories because she felt she had no choices. Then, when she did have more clout to choose, she picked stories the rest of us don’t find so compelling.

    Another interesting point Siskel and Ebert make is how the movie broke down each of their Siskebe_2 guards against “heart-wrenching movies.” Testament to the movie’s restraint, surely. I’d argue it’s Cher best movie; although her performance in Jimmy Dean might top it. However, that movie’s story had structural challenges. Read more elaborate movie reviews on Cher Scholar.

    There’s also a very passionate argument against the marketing strategy for this movie, an argument made by Siskel, specifically the strategy of not showing Rocky’s face in the trailers. What are your thoughts about it?
       

Outdoor Album Shots

Withlove Remember the albums All I Really Want to Do, Look At Us, Jackson Highway, With Love with that big blue sky behind Cher – all great outdoor album photos taken beyond the suffocating-like walls of a photo studio, all out in the sparkling daylight. I miss the fresh air sometimes, I really do. Can it be that Half Breed (which looks almost like a photo stage itself) was really the last Cher album cover photographed with an outdoor setting?

Cher is a California girl! How I yearn for another album cover with some SUN! 

   


Big Happy Sigh of the Week

Chercom Cher.com has changed!! OMG. Nothing really on it except Vegas tickets...but a change of any kind...is a good thing in web world.

The news is already outdated and the forum is only linked from the bottom of that god-awful scroll-box that’s hard to use (style without style); but at least that useless initial refresher page is gone.

Find the forum directly here http://cher.yuku.com/directory. Is it me? Why can’t I get into forums? Like Susan Sarandon says in Witches of Eastwick, “sometimes I just can’t face it.”

Fanclub And...after years of leaving us on the edge, Cher Fan Club also promises big things "coming soon." Am I a fool to keep believeing? 

It looks like there are only two promotional photos left in the Cher universe.

Don’t mind me.

(I’m really not that catty in person.)
 


CherCON

Tentative dates have been announced on the Cher Convention website, August 11 and 12, for the next Cher Convention. This will be the third in five conventions residing in Las Vegas, most likely at Caesars Palace near Cher's hullabaloo.

When you check your calendar you will find these dates to be week days. I wonder if this will have an impact on attendance. That and the fact that major amounts of monies are going to be spent down the hall for concert tickets where you can actually see Cher live, in the flesh. It will be an interesting study in celebrity obsession to see how many Cher fans are willing to pay airfare, hotel, buy concert tickets, and spend extra vacation days for a convention in the process, and all during a recession.

East-coasters may also continue to gripe about the fact that the convention is 8 years old and has never yet gone east of Chicago. But hey, Cher’s in Vegas again. It makes sense to co-mingle a convention with her shows. Barry Manilow’s fans are doing just that with their conventions (and if you don't know, I've been a long-time student, if not participant, in Barry Manilow fan conventions).

Let’s face it: being a Cher fan isn’t as expensive as being a KISS fan, but it’s certainly no bargain basement celebrity obsessing. 

    


Being Taught

Pottery8_2 I’ve been contemplating a lot lately about the act of being taught. I admit, I’m a total nerd. I love to read; I love to self-teach. At home, I have How To and Intro books coming out my ass. Over the last year and a half I've been self-teaching on Zen Buddhism for a poetry project. Alarmingly, looking back I counted 41 books I read to try to “get the jist” of it. Many of those books said clearly that reading books on Buddhism is pointless. You have to practice Buddhism to get it, something which includes meditation. Fair enough I thought. So I went out and bought a book on how to meditate. That books said you can’t teach yourself how to meditate from a book either! Crap. Not only do you need to practice it to learn Buddhism, but you must find a teacher not a book.

But I didn’t like that idea, quite frankly. I wanted to learn it ah-LONE. I was nervous about not picking it up fast enough in front of other people. Besides, meditation is about losing the chaos in your head and clearing out your mind. It’s practiced alone frequently. Why do you have to do it with other people when it's something you must eventually come to understand all by your lonesome? So I practiced alone and it was good enough.

But then two things happened. I started taking a ceramics class (my first adult art experience) and then for work my department started taking Spanish classes (my first post-French trauma language class – I’m so not a left-brained/memorize-it person).

And a strange shift in my brain happened. I loved these classes. Like those green pants in that Dr. Seuss story, at first I was afraid of them; but then I loved them. In Spanish class, I actually started to feel the camaraderie of participation and to not to be freaked out by failing. Just trying and practicing felt good. Laughing about mistakes felt even better.

Then in ceramics I fell in love with my teachers’ passion for clay. At the end of our first class, many of us struggled with the wheel. It was so much harder than we could manage. Recently I found another teacher in a private studio who gently guides us through it step by step. She has a palpable love and respect for teaching and pottery. And I'm eating it up.

After our trip to France in a few weeks, my bf and I are going to start taking yoga mixed with meditation. And I’m really looking forward to finding a new teacher.

These generous acts of teaching truly move and humble me. They have helped me to understand my life is not about amassing knowledge and successes. It's more about comprehending little lessons, these little sparks of life, moments of communication, precious gifts of being shown by hand how to ask a stranger “Te gusta comer los enchiladas?”, how to center your clay on a wheel, and how to center your shit on a spinning life.