Saturday, October 8, 2011

How Social Media Is Changing The Way We Mourn

Social Media has come a long way in a very short period of time and has changed the way we live our lives in many ways. It's changed the way we look for love, the way we look for jobs, the way we inner act with past friends. It's even changing the way we deal with the loss of a loved one. Some may disagree with me but I think social media helps us with the healing process by giving us a constant outlet to our loved ones during times of grief and sadness. Through social media we are always somehow connected, we are never completely alone. Here's my story........

.........My Uncle Phil recently passed away. I received the news of his passing on the morning of July 5th, 2011. As I numbly drove to work that morning I did not want to believe the news I had been given only minutes before. Then as my car rested at a red light I took out my phone to glance at my Facebook page. There along with the hectic ramblings of a post holiday morning the news of Uncle Phil's passing was all too real. Just like the words from that song by the Beatles.."...I read the news today.....". From the palm of my hand I read over and over again from family members as far away as Boston and Philadelphia. My Uncle Phil was gone.

My cousins, my brothers, my sisters, my nieces my nephews, my aunts and my uncles were all just as shocked as I was. The posts read like a timeline of unanswered cell phones calls that must had gone on the night before while we slept. It had all started around midnight. Family member after family member not knowing who to call or what to think had taken to the one constant in so many of our lives: Facebook and had posted their sadness and disbelief. Their posts of "rest in peace Uncle Phil" that had been left in those waining hours were filled with comments by their friends, coworkers other parts of their families I was not related to were offering their condolences and paying their respect to my Uncle. Sometime the night before the death of my Uncle Phil had gone viral and my head was now spinning in the aftermath.

Over the next few days leading up to my Uncles rosary service and funeral. Time after time I would find myself alone in a car or at work. Feelings of grief, sorry and anger overwhelmed me. I wanted to cry or just scream out loud in frustration. Not knowing who to turn to I would just look to Facebook and find a family member who was somewhere feeling the exact same way. I would see a post or a comment they had left minutes or hours before. Grieving, lonely, sad, frustrated just like me. It would take me out of my current state of confusion and put back where I found myself needing to be over and over again in those days. Not a saddened nephew but an elder cousin who needed to help his family through this hard time. And like I've stated I wasn't alone. In the moments where I found I didn't have the words the wisdom the patience or the understating someone else would. There would be another cousin or family member or friend ready to console whomever was feeling lost at any given moment.

Mourning can be such a lonely time and we often don't have the words to express to one another the pain the sorrow, misery, regret a recent loss has left us with. In modern times when we don't know who to turn to we scream into cyberspace. We whisper into the Internet and in those lonely seconds as the words are still echoing off the ceilings of our bedrooms the walls of our cubicle the interior of our car someone answers. A friend a cousin a coworker knows exactly how we're feeling at that moment and just when you thought you were so alone someone will answer back "it's okay, I'm here for you"

In the days following my Uncle's passing a tribute page was set up for him on Facebook. Not long after we had gathered in a church for him we started gathering on a Facebook page for him. Only this time there was not start time no end time. No pall bearers no flowers. Just memories old memories new memories. We didn't even have to worry if we didn't have anything to say or share. Matter of fact, we can visit and no one even knows where there. It's not a church its not a cemetery. It's just a constant flowing river of the life and times of Phil Vargas. And the love flowed. Suddenly a man I had loved and admired so much as a youth became a superhero a legend. Over and over people who's lives he had touched came one by one to share their stories. To chanel their sorrow on a wall that would stay forever in cyberspace just as those memories would stay forever in their hearts. They didn't have to tell the stories over and over. Once is enough in the cyber world. One story, one post, one click and it's there for eternity.

It doesn't take a tribute page to keep them alive. I will often see friends wishing Happy Birthday to lost loved ones on their special day or remembering them on on the anniversary of their passing. Today I noticed a sister paying tribute to a brother lost years ago by putting a picture of him as her profile picture. Like I said our individuality shows in how we mourn but the norm now is so social we are changing how we express our lose and in return it helps the healing process. Well at least for me it has for others it may just be a painful way of dragging it out.

The other day I was sitting at my desk and a song came over my speakers. The song was Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd. A song I've heard hundreds of times over the years and had always been bitter sweet as I know from stories I've heard the singer is paying homage to an old friend he wishes was still with them. Although I knew the song wasn't written for my Uncle Phil it immediately made me think of him and how I wished he was still here with us. I went to his Facebook tribute page and while the song was still playing I scrolled through messages reading the "I love you" "we miss" "thank you". I smiled and numbly left my own scribble on his wall...."wish you were here". Almost instantly a notification came to me "Phillip Vargas Likes Your Post". His son my cousin who was somewhere in another city probably working with his father on his mind also had seen my post and liked it. It may sound overly romantic but I believe that in that moment we virtually put an arm around one another and promised each other 'your not alone I miss him too we'll get through this together'.

As we are all individuals we all pay tribute in different ways. Some post pictures some post memories some post videos. Friends and loved ones pay tribute by changing their profile picture to that of a loved one during their time of mourning or to remember a lost brother on their birthday or anniversary of their lose. We never really have to say goodbye anymore we just remind one another of how much we miss their presence. We pay tribute we post pictures we post songs we talk about the good times. Our friends and family are able to see these thoughts as they run through our minds almost instantly.

Our Facebook and Twitter pages will outlive us all. In the days and even years after our passing loved ones will continue to scroll our walls, read our thoughts laugh at our pictures and in some cases even leave us a message. They will console one another "like" and "comment" random tidbits and stories left by other friends some by people they don't even know just an acquaintance who shared a friend.

Heal together. Social media can help I know it can. Post it, blog it, tweet it.....we miss you uncle Phil....wish you were here....

Monday, August 29, 2011

CD Review-Red Hot Chili Pepper's: I'm With You

From Fuzz to Funk. The Red Hot Chili Pepper's still make me want to dance naked!

The opening chords of Monarchy of Roses the opening track off the Red Hot Chili Pepper's 10th studio album I'm With You sound like they are being broadcast through an old beat up transistor radio until it jumps into a funky dance groove reminiscent of One Hot Minute.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers then spend the next 59 minutes going back and fourth from Fuzz to Funk to just plain silliness. Would you want your Red Hot's delivered any other way?

Rick Rubin is back producing his 6th Red Hot's album. And of course we are all waiting to see if new comer Josh Klinghoffer can come anywhere close to filling John Frusciante's shoe's. But come on let's be realistic. No one will ever take the place of Frusciante. Die hard Red Hot fans should know and accept this undeniable fact. The best we can hope for is that Klinghoffer does not come along and try and be Frusciante and that he brings his own element to a sound that is already very well developed.

By the time we reach the half way point of Did I Let You Know complete with trumpet solo and wavy guitar solo your so lost in the Red Hot's rhythm section of Flea and Chad Smith you forget all about the razor's edge guitar solo's that once cut through the Red Hot's songs on previous albums. Like a boxer Klinghoffer waits until Goodbye Hooray to show he can unleash his fury and go toe to toe cutting and shredding on par with the legend of Frusciante.

Is it Californication? No. Is it Blood Sugar Sex Magik? Hell no. Is it the next logical step in the long and winding road that is The Red Hot Chili Peppers? Yes! Will they go on tour and shred these songs and many more? Of course, they've been doing this since 1984.

Track Listing for I'm With You:

1. "Monarchy of Roses" 4:11
2. "Factory of Faith" 4:20
3. "Brendan's Death Song" 5:38
4. "Ethiopia" 3:50
5. "Annie Wants a Baby" 3:40
6. "Look Around" 3:28
7. "The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie" 4:42
8. "Did I Let You Know" 4:21
9. "Goodbye Hooray" 3:52
10. "Happiness Loves Company" 3:33
11. "Police Station" 5:35
12. "Even You Brutus?" 4:01
13. "Meet Me at the Corner" 4:21
14. "Dance, Dance, Dance" 3:45

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Abby Roadies, Live at Fishlips Bar

When I was in young I used to get home from school everyday at about 2:30 in the afternoon. My brother would get home from High School at about 3:30. So this meant after I put away my stuff and got settled I had about 45 to 30 minutes alone with his stereo and his record collection.

There was some Santana, Moonflower was my favorite. War-The World Is A Ghetto. Then there was The Beatles and my favorite Beatles record was Abby Road, my favorite song Maxwell's Silver Hammer. Over the years every song on this record would take it's turn as being my favorite song of the album or the moment and The Beatles of course as with every other red blooded American would over the years accompany me as I grew up and tested the boundaries of life and reality.

So you can only imagine my excitement about a month ago when I saw a flyer on the Fishlips bathroom wall for The Abby Roadies Beatles Tribute Band: Performing Abby Road in it's entirety and other Beatles selections. I did all I could to get to Fishlips on time last night but as luck would have it. I missed the first two songs and showed up just as Maxwell's Silver Hammer was serenading the Bakersfield night air.

The Abby Roadies pretty much being a Bakersfield All Star band tore through the rest of Abby Road and worked the crowd into a sweaty dancing frenzy by the end of the night. The Abby Road stuff was received in awe as most of the bars patrons sat at their tables with band friends and random shiny happy people milling about the front of the stage swaying to and fro singing along.

The party really started when Abby Road was done and the band returned from their break and sprent the rest of the night ripping through everyone's favorite Beatles tunes: Paperback Writer, Help, Sargent Pepper, Twist and Shout just to name a few. I was in Beatles heaven for about 45 minutes last night as time stood still and I along with a bar full of Bakotopians sang and danced our asses off! It was great to relive those childhood memories of first falling in love with the Beatles it was good to be out and having a good time.

When live music is done right it makes time stand still and you forget all about the world outside. You forget all about your bills, your job, your struggles and all the other ruckus of the daily grind and you just get lost. I want to thank the Abby Roadies for helping us all get a little lost last night. Hope you guys find your way back to a bar soon because I can't wait to do it again.

The Abby Roadies are:
Chris Carton
Joey Romley
Tyler Evans
Therese Muller
Nick Romero
Paul Jacob Cartwright
Rob Ruiz

Here is the incredible setlist:

First Set
Abby Road-
Side 1
Come Together
Maxwell's Silver Hammer
Oh Darling
Octopus's Garden
I Want You
Side 2 (they even took a little pause here to recreate having to get up and turn the album over)
Here Comes The Sun
You Never Give Me Your Money
Sun King
Mean Mr Mustard
Polythene Pam
She Came In Through The Bathroom Window
Golden Slumbers
Carry That Weight
The End
Her Majesty

Second Set
I Should Have Known Better
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
Lady Madonna
She Said She Said
Please Please Me
Fool on the Hill
Abbey Road (17 songs)
Dear Prudence
Paperback Writer
Drive My Car
This Boy
A Hard Day’s Night
If I Fell
Can’t Buy Me Love
And I Love Her
Sgt. Pepper
With a Little Help From My Friends
Getting Better
Don’t Let Me Down
We Can Work it Out
Eleanor Rigby
Tomorrow Never Knows
Twist and Shout
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
All My Loving
Rocky Raccoon
Birthday (Thank you Amy!)
Ticket to Ride
Strawberry Fields Forever
Penny Lane
A Day in the Life
Helter Skelter
All You Need is Love
Got to Get You Into My Life
I Am the Walrus
Hello Goodbye
Day Tripper
Eight Days a Week
I Wanna Hold Your Hand
Hey Jude

Thursday, August 18, 2011

So, it's been about a year...

....and what have I learned since that day I fell and could not get up?

I've learned there is a lot wonderful people in my life who love me and will give me all the support I need to succeed. I've learned the only thing holding me back from accomplishing what I have yet to accomplish is my own mind. I've learned my heart is strong though it was once very week. I've learned I can walk a mile sometimes two or three. I can workout and push my limits past what I once thought possible. I've learned I can eat healthy food and still enjoy it. I've learned to love myself and try to change the things about me I haven't liked in the past.

Am I done learning? Never! The day we stop learning is the day we die. I know I still don't have all the answers yet, but at least I've started asking questions and the only place I'm looking for answers is within myself

I've come a long way in a year and I can't wait to see where this determination will take me in another years time. I hope everyone who's on board sticks around to see where we are a year from now because we all know where I was a year ago.

So, I'm just going to keep doing what I've been doing and see where this roller coaster ride called life takes me. Don't worry, you know wherever I go. If I don't blog it, I'll Instgram it and if I don't Facebook it you sure as hell know I'ma Tweet that shit!!!

Thanks everyone, I love you all!!!

In temptation
Let it go!!!!!! I'm wide awake....I'm not sleeping....oh no....

Monday, May 30, 2011

Small Victories

Ever since I've starting my cardio routine I have been craving spicy Mexican Food like a pregnant chick. The spicier the better I'm talking runny nose by the time I'm done spicy. SPICY!!!

At around 8am today I was hit by one of these cravings......I wanted Menudo. Spicy Menudo with lots and lots of lemon. I had to have some. I wrapped up some work I had to do and headed to La Villa on Union for an early lunch.

Let me share something with you guys only my closest friends and family are kind of aware of. It's something you may not have to think about but it's a.......hmmmm I actually don't know what to call it. I'm just gonna call it a 'fear'. A fear I have or maybe I should call it a 'dread'? Well you can decide.

I dislike eating at a lot of places because I'm so big I do not fit in the normal size booths they have for their customers. So when I go to dinner with friends I have to discreetly let the waiter or waitress know that I'd prefer a table instead of a booth. It may not seem like much to a lot of you but trust me we all have our own social phobias we battle with and this has been a huge one for me over the years.

So there I am at La Villa and I had already ordered my Menudo to go. I stood quietly off in the corner as another dude ordered a torta and some tacos also to go. Not because he was too fat to fit in a booth but probably because he had other things to do. I looked at the booth then looked at my belly. I've lost some pounds I know this. Some inches from my chest, my shoulders, my legs, by back. But my waist refuses to budge. The kid who had ordered after me was locked into a video game oblivious to the fact there was a fat kid considering trying to over come one of the biggest fears of his life from over the last ten years. The lady working the counter went into the back to work on our orders. It was just me and the oblivious video game kid.

Should I try? Will I fit? Will I get stuck? Will I break the booth? Will the kid see me try, fail then laugh at me? Fuck it, know one is looking let's give it a try. I walked over to the nearest booth put my hands on the table top and slid in. Wholly shit I thought to myself? I fit!!! I'm in the booth!! A boyish grin stretched across my face as I sat there speechless. It was still a tight fit, but I was in! I looked over at the kid to see if he was about to congratulate me but he was still to locked in on his game to know I had just taken another small victory in this war I fight daily to reclaim my life.

The chick from the counter returned from the back of the restaurant with my order. "Here's your Menudo to go" she said. I stood up from where I was sitting walked over grabbed my bag. I walked over to a booth by the exit with a nice view of the street slid in and sat down to enjoy my early lunch.

"I thought you wanted it to go?" asked the lady...."yeah, I changed my mind" I said as I dumped a bunch of chili and squeezed a bunch of lemon into the cup-o-menudo.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

This is what The Bluffs look like

I was sitting around perfectly happy with my last post when I realized not everyone lives in Bakersfield and knows what the hell I'm talking about when I refer to The Bluffs. So for those who do not know here are some pictures I've taken while walking around The Bluffs enjoy the visual stimuli!

I know right?

Since The Bluffs are at the edge of town the sunsets there are amazing. And there are plenty of trees for shade.

These little dudes are everywhere and they will come right up to you for a piece of bread.


...and you just might see this guy. If you do see him give em some water or if your a pretty girl take him on a date!!!

This is going to be so random..... random because right I now I am just missing the therapy of putting my hands to the keyboard and letting the sound of the keystrokes be my musical therapy.

Writing has always been a form of therapy for me. It started in high school only back then I used to love the smell of the fresh ink on a piece of notebook paper. The way it smudged if you brushed against it too soon after you had just written something. But then notebooks gave way to Blue Books at BC and writing in Blue Books always seemed forced and I would always be so nervous about it because I knew I was going to be graded. But now notebooks and blue books have given way to key boards and pixels. I no longer write to be graded but still find solace in my scribe.

So much has been going on. So much so that I can't share it anymore with just a status update or a tweet. This will take more than 140 character's.

The eating habits. Are soooooooo much better today then those of years gone by. But most important it all seems to make better sense to me these days. I pay attention to everything about food these days and more important to how my body reacts to or better yet how I want it to respond to what I'm about to eat. I'm learning more and more about how food is just really supposed to be fuel for my body not a roller coaster ride for my senses of smell and taste. Just get it in my belly because I feel weak and need strength for the long day ahead. Refuel constantly because I'm always on the go. A lot of chicken, a lot of greens, a lot of water even had some lamb this week that was pretty good too.

The exercises. I remember the first session I had with a dude told me to 'get on the ground' I looked at him and said 'dude if I get down, I'm not gonna be able to get back up!' He shot me a look and said 'I'll help you back up, if it takes both of us' he said referring to the other trainer dude who was helping out. Ever since then I've had a sort of blind faith in my trainer. Believing they will not ask me to do something they didn't know I couldnt handle. I leave the thinking up to them and just do what they tell me. I even bought a bike a few months ago...but I've only ridden it a couple of times. What I have done is started walking.

The Bluffs. Have become a sanctuary to me, almost a home a away from home I've spent so much time up there the last few weeks. It started out very simple. Park my car and walk in a big circle but then curiosity got to this cat and I had to start getting techy about my walking. So I downloaded a couple of Aps for tracking my walks and it took off from there. 1 mile turned into 1.5 miles then 2 miles then 3 miles then I made a goal with myself that I would hit the 5 mile mark before the end of May....I hit 5.21 miles yesterday.

The Cardio. I started walking because I think the next big weight lose phase is going to require a lot a lot a lot of cardio and well cardio at the gym is pretty damn boring to me. Now, cardio in this beautiful state of California...not so boring. So I'm digging the walks and next week after my 5k I will buy a bike rack and start hitting the bike paths in June.

The Music. Right now I can't stop listening to the new Beastie Boys and the new She Wants Revenge. I can't remember the last time there were two amazing new records released in such a short time span!

There I talked about everything I wanted to talk about in a few short paragraphs and got a lot off my chest.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Power Station Vs Arcadia

So the other day on Facebook, I posted what I thought was a simple question asking some of my music-adoring friends whom they favored in Duran Duran side project bands. For those unfamiliar with the story ....... go read some other blog. This story needs no introduction.

I wanted to know which group, between Arcadia and The Power Station, did people favor? Basically, I was asking folks to turn their clocks back 25 years and recall which of the two was their personal favorite. Here are some of the responses I received:

“Power Station hands down. Tony Thompson on drums. TONY THOMPSON!!!”- Cesareo Garasa - Local Drummer (too many bands to list most recently however I saw him Retro Rock the Fishlips stage with Members Only)

“Power station! Loved Robert Palmers voice and Tony Thompson was awesome on drums!”-Stephanie Viray 80’s/90’s Music afficionado and all round cool chick.

…and @Chulaliz couldn’t make up her mind: “I am torn! I really liked Arcadia though...”

Another respected music historian in my book, Dela, was quick to give his opinion: “Power Station!”

Hmmmm...all valid and thought-out opinions - for the most part. But there was one person who had yet to weigh in. I was still dying to find out her opinion and when I did hear it, it pushed me in the direction I was already swaying:

@MrsJU said...“As a self-proclaimed Durannie & Authority on all things Duran, I sway Arcadia on this one. While the Taylors (& Palmer's voice like buttah) strayed more guitar-heavy, truer 2 the Duran sound was Arcadia. With the emphasis on the synth & melodies, I have 2 admit proudly that I actually own "So Red The Rose" on vinyl. And alas, there is no Power Station in my collection ---not that I can't appreciate the musicality of the venture. But in my opinion, Arcadia is the winner here, not just as a fan of LeBon & Rhodes...just listen 2 "The Flame"'s pretty much the business...”

Okay let’s listen to The Flame…

Alright then. I see what’s she’s talking about and I’ve gotta agree with her!

With the line up of:

• Robert Palmer - Vocalist
• Andy Taylor - Guitarist
• John Taylor - Bassist
• Tony Thompson – Drummer

Not to mention production by Bernard Edwards. The Power Station is the safe and easy commercial bet. My money was even on them when I started this whole thing, I swear. But upon further research, I gotta say these credentials speak for themselves:

• Simon Le Bon: vocals
• Nick Rhodes: keyboards
• Roger Taylor: drums

And some added muscle:

• Additional vocals: Sting, Grace Jones
• Guitars: Carlos Alomar, David Gilmour
• Additional keyboards: Herbie Hancock

I'm not even gonna Straddle the Line in Discord and Rhyme on this one. Style, art, sound, and vision - the winner, hands down, hair up is Arcadia.

From the album cover to music videos, Arcadia defines 1984 far better than The Power Station could have ever hoped. Come to think of it, being the super group that they were in retrospect, The Power Station played it pretty damn safe. They just put the ingredients on the table and didn’t dare add anything to them or turn up the flame. A very polished production value only added to that feel.

And like @MrsJU states, Arcadia moved right along with the progression that Duran Duran had been daring enough to explore. You can hear inflections of Notorious and A View To A Kill peppered over the entire LP. A move like this may have killed their massive mainstream following, but by taking this hiatus and experimenting with Arcadia, musically they were able to see what worked, what fit and exorsize the demons that were holding them back - hence releasing Duran Duran from Boy Band status to Supergroup.

In short, Arcadia gambled; The Power Station merely rolled the dice.
Although both groups were short lived, what they gave musically will never die.

Want more? Peep the links below:

Arcadia So Red The Rose Fansite
The Power Station

****This Blog Post is a MrsJU/Illasever Creation****