It’s been a while since I’ve written about my real life, and since my daily experience influences my perception about music, I thought I’d give a brief summary of goings-on and announce a few changes in blog content for 2020.
It’s been one hell of a year.
One common characteristic my family members share is phenomenally low blood pressure. I usually clock in at about 95/61; maman 98/70 and dad averages about 105/75 (please note that the person with the highest blood pressure is a non-smoker).
So it was a great surprise when Dad went to the doctor for shoulder and back pain only to learn that his blood pressure had risen to 180/110.
The doctor was puzzled herself, as Dad had led her down the path of looking for some kind of muscular tear or tendon snap. He insisted that the pain started after he’d been doing some remodeling work and twisted his upper torso trying to align a drainpipe. Based on that lead, the doctor ordered up some x-rays but found nothing wrong with his shoulder. Because Dad had described the pain as shooting pain, the doctor wondered if Dad had just happened to schedule his doctor’s visit on the day he was planning to have a heart attack.
I could have told her that was impossible because (as I have mentioned many times before) my father is the unluckiest person in the universe. My dad would have been the first astronaut to have a heart attack, and he would have had that heart attack while orbiting the far side of the moon, out of touch with and as far away from Mission Control as you can get.
The mystery was quickly solved when the doctor looked at his back and discovered a sea of red blotches on the upper right side of his back. “Ah, vouz avez un zona,” she told him. Dad got “vous” and “avez” but hadn’t heard the word “zona,” so he asked for a translation. “You have the shingles,” she explained. The medical team hooked him up and started dripping antivirus medication to attack the shingles and painkillers to try to get his blood pressure down. Because his blood pressure wasn’t coming down fast enough for the doctors, they gave him the gift of an overnight stay in the local hospital.
Once dad had the diagnosis and was stretched out on a hospital bed, he admitted that he was in much more pain than he let on. “Imagine a spiked python wrapped around your chest—that’s what it felt like.” He only stayed one night (total bill for all charges = 145 euro), but the experience triggered thoughts of mortality, and people do get weirdly sentimental when they think they’re about to croak. In Dad’s case, he expressed a strong wish to spend his waning years in the home country—not the States (shit, he wasn’t delirious), but the Emerald Isle.
At the time, maman and were united in our response: “No fuckin’ way, dude!” Although they’ve recently loosened up a bit on same-sex marriage and abortion, Ireland is still a very Catholic place—and on my many trips to Ireland over the years, that presence has given me the creeps.
As it turned out, I wound up spending half the summer in Ireland and loved it.
For as long as I can remember, the weather in Nice was pleasantly predictable, the kind of temperate Mediterranean climate that avoids extremes. The climate has changed noticeably over the past three years with brutal, humid summers and torrential rains in the winter months. Last summer it was so bad I couldn’t stand it anymore and my partner and I temporarily moved our base of operations to Ireland (Skerries, to be exact).
It was rainy, foggy, drizzly, cold and gray—completely delightful. We could fuck in leather again without sweating like footballers.
The weather in Ireland is closer to the weather I grew up with in San Francisco, so that aspect of Ireland is very appealing. Although I still have serious reservations about making the move, I’m more open to the possibility now, because there are few things I loathe more than hot weather. We’re going to wait and see how the Brexit thing plays out, as it is expected to have a pretty significant impact on Ireland, depending on the fine print in the final deal.
Brexit, Boycotts and the Blog
I’m almost as pissed off about Brexit as I was about Trump, but it looks like Boris, Putin and the racist rich will get their way and the UK will leave the EU.
I thought briefly of a British Boycott, but the consequences would be staggering. Though I could switch to writing reviews in French tomorrow, the demand for rock reviews in French is close to zero. No matter what their native language, countries outside of the United States are more likely to embrace multilingualism, so producing reviews in English is essential to the blog’s survival. And despite the American Boycott, my audience is still overwhelmingly American. Here are the top visitors by country:
In case you’re wondering, Ireland came in at #17, probably because I refuse to review U2 records.
Although I love to write about non-Western music, my reviews that involve lyrics in languages other than English are among my least-read reviews. The bottom line is if I were to boycott both the Americans and the British, my playing field would shrink like a dick on a cold winter’s day.
And I have to admit that I’m very frustrated with the American Boycott because there is a lot of great American music I want to cover—especially jazz. So, though I had very good reasons for implementing the boycott (such as preserving my mental health), I have to admit that the reason I found the actions of Trump and the GOP so disturbing is that I didn’t want to believe it was happening. I have now come to accept that the United States government is a racist, misogynistic, authoritarian, ignorant, fake-Christian criminal enterprise and that the American people either support that enterprise or lack the will and courage to change it (to me, they’re the same thing). That shouldn’t stop me from reviewing artists who have produced great work, especially those who had to surmount endless obstacles because of the color of their skin or lack of a penis. The truth is America has always been a racist, misogynistic country, and many of the great artists from United States possessed the courage to overcome those barriers to realize their artistic visions. Those people should be honored, not boycotted, for they are the real American heroes.
So, I’m lifting the American Boycott as of January 1, 2020, and will continue to cover music from the UK (even if it fractures into something less than a united kingdom).