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Cher and Putting Together a Book of Poems

As I was reading Ordering the Storm: How to Put Together a Book of Poems edited by Susan Grimm, I came across a Cher reference in the essay "Order & Mojo: Informal Notes on Getting Dressed" by Beckian Fritz Goldberg:

...the best order for a manuscript is one that suits the personality of the work. If you're Cher you can wear a sequined Bob Mackie gown. If you're Willie Nelson you'd better try jeans and T-shirt. So you wouldn't necessary put your ms. in a tight dress if you are an expansive poet like Larry Levis or Gerald Stern and you wouldn't wear blue jeans and an old T-shirt if you were, say, Anna Akhmatova.

So...in review:

ChersequinsCherjean







Cher in sequins and Cher in jeans.



 


 

Larrylevis Larry Levis

(from "Winter Stars")

I stand out on the street, & do not go in.
That was our agreement, at my birth.
And for years I believed
That what went unsaid between us became empty,
And pure, like starlight, & that it persisted.

I got it all wrong.
I wound up believing in words the way a scientist
Believes in carbon, after death.

Tonight, I’m talking to you, father, although
It is quiet here in the Midwest, where a small wind,
The size of a wrist, wakes the cold again—
Which may be all that’s left of you & me.

When I left home at seventeen, I left for good.

That pale haze of stars goes on & on,
Like laughter that has found a final, silent shape
On a black sky. It means everything
It cannot say. Look, it’s empty out there, & cold.
Cold enough to reconcile
Even a father, even a son.

 

Gerald stern

Gerald Stern

(Note: it took me a looong time to find a Gerald Stern poem that didn't give me a headache. This is the best I could do.)

Behaving Like A Jew

When I got there the dead opossum looked like
an enormous baby sleeping on the road.
It took me only a few seconds – just
seeing him there – with the hole in his back
and the wind blowing through his hair
to get back again into my animal sorrow.
I am sick of the country, the bloodstained
bumpers, the stiff hairs sticking out of the grilles,
the slimy highways, the heavy birds
refusing to move;
I am sick of the spirit of Lindbergh over everything,
that joy in death, that philosophical
understanding of carnage, that
concentration on the species.
--- I am going to be unappeased at the opossum’s death.
I am going to behave like a Jew
and touch his face, and stare into his eyes,
and pull him off the road.
I am not going to stand in a wet ditch
with the Toyotas and the Chevies passing over me
at sixty miles an hour
and praise the beauty and the balance
and lose myself in the immortal lifestream
when my hands are still a little shaky
from his stiffness and his bulk
and my eyes are still weak and misty
from his round belly and his curved fingers
and his black whiskers and his little dancing feet.

  

Akhmatova1924 

Anna Akhmatova

"I Was Born In the Right Time..."

I was born in the right time, in whole,
Only this time is one that is blessed,
But great God did not let my poor soul
Live without deceit on this earth.

And therefore, it's dark in my house,
And therefore, all of my friends,
Like sad birds, in the evening aroused,
Sing of love, that was never on land.
  


Twilight Zone in the US

Cher Last week was a bit of a drag in many ways. My bf and I have been really wrapped up in the US presidential elections, my bf writing passioned debates via email while I furiously forward jokes and pundit pieces out in dizzying amounts. We've been watching Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, and The Daily Show non-stop the last week which was filled with insane poltical stunts and antics. We even watched the infamous Walter Cronkite-esque David Letterman show last week where Letterman went political on John McCain's ass. To end the week, we watched the Obama/McCain debate at an Al Franken fundraiser where I spotted The White Stripes' Jack White lumbering sheepishly about.

It's all historic, distressful and exciting at the same time. Which I supposed is typical for all country-altering events. But we're exhausted with ever turn, allegation, and poll cycle. I almost feel held hostage by the US news industrial complex.

And it leaves no time for bloggin. Then you throw in the historic stock market crash today and the congress dramas of bailouts and much hand wringing ensues.

For instance, my own bank was "seized" last week. Seized! I went out an purchased Naomi Wolfe's essay "The End of America." Scary stuff about the slow-motion coop of the Bush Administration.

I made an unsuccessful attempt to cheer myself up by been reading Joan Didion books. First I finishes "Where I'm From" about her ambivalence about growing up Californian and the disjointed self-image of all Californians (new or long-timers). Then last weekend I finished "The Year of Magical Thinking," an absolutely depressing but astute account of the grief she experienced losing her husband and daughter in a short period of time. What was I thinking? I ended the weekend in sadder shape than I started.

And then we hear Cher has been sick with a mystery illness. Any celebrity illness not disclosed automatically assumes itself as a mystery, doesn't it? One report estimated Caesars Palace loses $2 million per week when Cher calls in sick. More dire rumors quickly take off from there: another article speculating she may not continue her run into the next year. Well, that doesn't sound good.

What a vortex of bummerdom we're in! I hope Cher's not freaked out about her stock portfolio. In all things, get well soon!

 


Songs Cher Should Cover (of Lindsey Buckingham)

Buckingham3 Last Saturday, as you may recall, I was melancholy about being a David Foster Wallace fan and his (really) tragic suicide the day before. But I did have a positive fan experience the next day to sort of balance it out. I was able to see the first show of Lindsey Buckingham’s new tour at Royce Hall in support of his new album Gift of Screws.

I’ve seen Buckingham live with Fleetwood Mac and I contend he is ridiculously absent for the top 100 Rolling Stone's list of best guitarists in rock music. Not only are his guitar contributions detailed and inhumanly energetic but his live arrangements and stamina are really jaw dropping to see. The show was unbelievably amazing. I'd put it up there with Prince for single performances (although a Prince show is a much bigger audio-visual affair so it's hard to compare - but if you strip down everything...).

Except for Buckingham's was probably the worst light show I’ve ever seen. First, let me say Buckingham is so good, he simply only requires a spotlight. The spotlights he did have (too many) sat on stage pointing out into the hall, forcing fans in the balcony to squint in discomfort and hold their hands up to block the light. In front of us, audience members moved in significant numbers to find new seats. It almost looked like a mass exodus except they were dancing as they were relocating.

Of his solo hits he sang "Trouble," "Go Insane" and "Don’t Look Down." He did not do "Holiday Road." From his hits of Fleetwood Mac he sang "Go Your Own Way," "Second Hand News," "Never Going Back Again," and "Tusk." From the Gift of Screws album he did "Treason," (a good election song by Buckingham1 accident), "Right Place to Fade" (I think - not sure he did this one), "Love Runs Deeper" and "Time Precious Time."

I downloaded his new album from iTunes and the highlights are "Great Day," "Treason," "Right Place to Fade," and "Love Runs Deeper." "Great Day" he co-wrote with his son.

Gift of Screws is actually a reference in an Emily Dickinson poem dealing with the pain of decay (and the song is basically a jam of the poem):

Essential Oils -- are wrung --
The Attar from the Rose
Be not expressed by Suns -- alone --
It is the gift of Screws --

The General Rose -- decay --
But this -- in Lady's Drawer
Make Summer -- When the Lady lie
In Ceaseless Rosemary –

Cher could do an awesomely rockin version of “Right Place to Fade,” a song written by Buckingham that contains some shades of her recent tour themes (Never Can Say Goodbye and all) and has a playfully rocking guitar at the beginning and end, some fun mini-bridges, bam-bams and whoo hoos Cher could slap down pretty well. It’s in-your-face the way old Fleetwood Mac/Buckingham used to be. Awesomeness.

How long how long
How long we wait
Wait for the light that might light our way
Wait for the right place to fade

Come along, lay down and talk to me
Tell me all your fear will allow
It doesn’t matter who we thought we were
We ain’t got time for it now

He’s under-appreciated, this one.
  


Crash Week

David-foster-wallace Wow…what a week we’ve had: the markets, the election, David Foster Wallace.

I just spent my lunch hour experiencing the closest I’ve ever imagined to seeing a run on a bank. It’s like Mary Poppins but in reverse: the lobby of Bank of America filled with WaMu customers trying to transfer their monies. And it’s sad because I liked WaMu. I really did. They had pleasant lobbies and were always situated in very cool buildings of retro architecture.  Okay, not a good reason to love your bank, but...

And then the suicide of David Foster Wallace really shook me up. I was a bonofide fan of this writer. Although I only had three books of his (two personally signed) and although I had only been to three of his readings, I took his style and thoughts to great heart. He wrote funny and touching short stories and hilarious yet philosophical essays on pop culture, politics, pretty much anything with the best, most interesting footnotes you’ve ever seen. (So much better than someone trying to explicate a T.S. Eliot poem but don’t get me started.)

He wrote wonderfully packed sentences, was handsome in a frazzled sort of way, and came across as a genuinely nice dude. The last reading I attended was years ago at UCLA’s Hammer Museum in Westwood. He read us an unbelievably tragic story about a baby and then described how it was part of his effort to give up a tone of irony for one of sincerity.

Irony is the “it” attitude of my generation. People my age only like things ironically, with a wink wink. Which is why everyone always thinks I like Cher ironically. Which I don’t and that annoys me. But I really love irony in its naked form. But DFW got me to see how overdone it’s become and how spiritually empty it leaves us. I yearned to see the kind of sincerity back in writing that he said he was going to be attempting. I looked forward to that and decided to try to move in that direction myself.

I even thought about his idea weeks ago as I was converting my two Olivia Newton John albums to Mp3 and came across one of the few songs I know of that Olivia wrote herself, “The Promise” about how wonderful dolphins are. The song lyrics are easy to snicker at because they’re so sincere but I just took a minute to love them for just that reason. It’s so much safer to be ironic. So much braver to be sincere. And you end up feeling more moved by it. His mission was a noble one.

Read my brief review of his book of essays, A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, from the site Ape Culture. That's the book where DFW urged us to consider the TV and the fact that we spend a lot of time staring at a piece of furniture. Absurd, true yet somehow acceptable. David Foster Wallace, I believe you did what you had to do…but I wish you were still here.

   


The OCFC

Fanclub I joined the Cher fan club and lived to tell you about it. It was $25.

By the way, I was a member during the inaugural year of this club back in the late 90s and you got a folder in the mail back in those days -- which I still have. I can’t remember what they charged…maybe $15? Total guess. Years later I also bought the late-70s Cher fan club packet on eBay. I have no idea who ran that club but I loved that it was this kit in the mail with a letter from Cher, a poster and these official-like documents. I love the secret nature of official fan clubs and start to want it to get all CIA with dossiers, passports, ID Cards (Barry Manilow’s fan club actually had those), and local meetings to discuss affairs of the Cher state.

I enjoyed reading the official newsletters in the mail so I’m wondering how a web-style organization will feel. So far, I like the little touches on the site like the floating butterflies on the secret members-only submenu. On the downside, those frames get really screwy if you use your back button (usability issues – it’s my bag.)

And I actually read the user agreement before signing up – which as a normal person I normally wouldn’t do. But this is a fan club so I was interested to see how much of a legal binding agreement I was getting myself into. The thing was 20 printed pages – longer than wedding reception contracts I’ve seen – by like 18 pages!

We’ve come a long way, baby, from that pink one-sheet sign-up in 1977.

Continue reading "The OCFC" »


Sonny & Cher's Record-breaking Stint at the Iowa State Fair

While I was searching for pictures online of Sonny & Cher performing live in the 70s, I came across this little statistic:

Who holds the record for attracting the largest Grandstand crowd?
  • In 1972 Sonny and Cher attracted 26,200 in two shows.
  • In 1975 the Beach Boys drew 25,400 in one show.
  • In 1970 Johnny Cash attracted 25,300 in two shows.
  • In 1974 Chicago played to 24,700 in one show.
  • In 1982 the Oak Ridge Boys drew 23,500 in two shows.

The internationally acclaimed Iowa State Fair is the single largest event in the state and one of the oldest and largest agricultural and industrial expositions in the United States.

Source: http://www.iowastatefair.com/about/trivia.php


New CherScholar.com Cooking

There is a lot I wan't to talk about right now that I hope I can get to next week: a very interesting French/Italian collection of 60s Sonny & Cher songs a diligent Cher scholar sent me last week and my first experiences after joining The Official, International, World-Renowned Cher Fan Club. It was actually fun and I'll divulge my journeys into that early next week. In the meantime, I've been revamping CherScholar.com.

The idea for this came to me last year when I realized I needed to professionalize my publishing credits page and CherScholar.com looked pretty amateurish as it was inter-woven into my other sites. It needed to grow up a bit. Not that it's completely mature now, but it's better.

Newcs  

It's up and surf-able but only in a sort of beta form. When I transfered all the text, encoded punctuations became garbled and I now need to re-read every freakin word of the damn thing to find unfortunate parentheses and dashes a global search and replace surely missed. And that's a major pain in my ass and will take me a few days. I blame Microsoft products. But it's readable at this point.

I've organized the site more like a learning institution and expanded out some of the sections a tiny bit (tabloids, records) and added whole new sections on books on Cher, television, photographs and concerts. And there's a new glossary of Cher terms I hope you'll enjoy.

If you can stand to wade through the typos, spelling errors and punctuation tragedies, check it out at www.cherscholar.com. Otherwise, wait a week!

Yours in Cher scholarship...

   

Rags, Stars, 80s Videos, Rosetta Stone, Black Rose, Les Dudek, Elton John, Kathy Griffin and Whatever Else I Can Throw Into One Blog Post

BlackRoseIP-2 80s Videos

I’m not even gonna go near The Enquirerthis week or this year for that matter (between all the John Edwards, Sarah Palin and Cher stories I’ll lose my mind). 

I started a new ceramics class last Saturday and then came home and threw a small dinner party that evening. On Sunday I was so exhausted I crashed and spent 12 straight hours watching “80 Hours of 80s” on VH1-Classic. It was like a flashback to my teen years where I spent the days and night watching 80s videos. All day Sunday I kept saying I should at least read my mail during the commercials and videos I hated (like U2s "With or Without You" or anything by The Romantics) but I found myself just as mesmerized as I was 20 years ago through every single ridiculous yet charming video.

It makes no sense. I feel like I have severe attention deficit watching modern videos with all their jump cuts and poses. But 80s videos, were nothing but mindless shenanigans in front of a camera happen, those suckers hypnotize me for hours. I wasted the entire day laying on the couch. I didn’t even eat much. I even saw a few video’s I’d never seen before and decided to seriously re-evaluate Sinead OConnor (due to "I Want Your Hands on Me") and reconfirmed my yen for P.I.L. (with "Rise"). Then one video practically got me to giddy as I hit the record button on my Crap-o (my Comcast DVR) - it was like 1986 and I was hitting Play on my prehistoric VCR that would groan for two seconds before actually recording anything so that now I have tapes and tapes of videos with the beginnings missing. But this song I saw only once or twice in the 80s but loved it, LOVED IT (and could never find on 45, CD or even now on iTunes!) The Producers singing “What’s He Got That I Aint Got” – perfect 80s-ness.

Blog Questions

To answer a few recent questions posted on the blog:

  1. How is Rosetta Stone going? I love it so far and am still trying to find time to work on it more often. It's designed to teach you how to learn a language as you first did as a toddler. I got 98% on my first lesson; and I am so not a left-brained/memorize-it sort person. So that’s a good sign. 
  2. Do I think the unavailability of Starshas contributed to its current cult status among fans? Most probably so, but I still think that fact is more of a detriment to Cher’s long-term respect as a talented musical artist than it is a kewl underground gem we can all bond over. Why? Because it’s not like Neil Young who maybe has a rare great album that’s become a cult find but he also has plenty of other critically acclaimed albums to rest his laurels on. Cher has lots of pop albums that are easy to find and a few awesome ones that are hard to find. It’s only a cool thing among fans. The rest of the world is still in the dark about it. I will concede that I’m not sure Cher’s respect among critics will even yet treat Stars fairly, but I think she’s definitely getting there, each year more and more respect.

Kathy Griffin Meets Cher
Kathy Griffin’s implored Rosie O'Donnell to introduce her to Cher in exchange for getting Rosie into some braniac conference. This all happened on a recent episode of Griffin’s reality show. Here’s a story about her meeting with Cher.

Black Rose
I was doing research on the spelling of Les Dudek’s name for a Cher Glossary I’m putting together for the revamp of CherScholar.com and I came across this interesting Wikipedia entry that claims there are enough spare tracks for a Black Rose (see kewl pic above) album #2 and that "Don’t Trust that Woman" was written by Les Dudek and Cher. But I thought the co-writer was Elton John (as Lady Choc Ice) and that the song ended up on John’s album Leather Jackets (see the lyrics and credits here on an Elton John discography site) and as explained by Elton John and Cher on The Joan Rivers Show.

However, lesdudek.com list the same song same lyrics for his Gypsy Ride album and claims it was written by Cher and himself: http://www.lesdudek.com/disco/gypsy.htm. Here's the sound clip: http://www.lesdudek.com/disco/byte/gr/gypsy09.mp3.

Yahoo Music clears it up and says it was written by all three of them.

Three things I conclude from this lesson:

  1. Cher can co-write some catchy sh*t.
  2. This song can be contorted into vastly different pop and rock genres.
  3. I like Les Dudek’s voice. I really do.

Do you think there was a jam session with all three of them on this little piece? Nah.