Sunday, February 15, 2009

I no longer post to this blog

To read any more of my ramblings, please go to my LiveJournal page. Thanks

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Another one of my favorite singers is gone

From the L A Times...

Yma Sumac, 'Peruvian songbird' with multi-octave range, dies at 86

Bursting onto the American music scene after signing with Capitol
Records in 1950, the raven-haired Sumac was known as the "Nightingale
of the Andes," the "Peruvian Songbird" and a "singing marvel" with a
4 1/2-octave (she said five-octave) voice.

The singer, with a persona matching her exotic voice, became an
international sensation in the 1950s.

Yma Sumac, the Peruvian-born singer whose spectacular multi-octave
vocal range and exotic persona made her an international sensation in
the 1950s, has died. She was 86.

Sumac, who was diagnosed with colon cancer in February, died Saturday
in an assisted living facility in Silver Lake, said Damon Devine, her
personal assistant and close friend.

Bursting onto the American music scene after signing with Capitol
Records in 1950, the raven-haired Sumac was known as the "Nightingale
of the Andes," the "Peruvian Songbird" and a "singing marvel" with a
4 1/2 -octave (she said five-octave) voice.

"She is five singers in one," boasted Moises Vivanco, her composer-
arranger husband, in a 1951 interview with the Associated Press.
"Never in 2,000 years has there been another voice like hers."

After Sumac performed at the Shrine Auditorium with a company of
dancers, drummers and musicians in 1955, a Los Angeles Times writer
observed: "She warbles like a bird in the uppermost regions, hoots
like an owl in the lowest registers, produces bell-like coloratura
passages one minute, and exotic, dusky contralto tones the next."

Sumac's first album for Capitol, "Voice of the Xtabay," soared to the
top of the LP charts. A handful of other albums followed during the

With her exotic beauty, elaborate costumes and singing voice that
could imitate the cries of birds and wild animals, the woman who
claimed to be a descendant of an ancient Incan emperor offered
Eisenhower-era audiences something unique.

During her 1950s heyday, Sumac sang at the Hollywood Bowl, Carnegie
Hall and Royal Albert Hall. She reportedly made $25,000 a week in Las
Vegas and turned down offers to sing with New York's Metropolitan

She was featured in the 1951 Broadway musical "Flahooley" and
appeared in the films "Secret of the Incas" in 1954 and "Omar Khayyam" in

Although details of her birth date and early life vary widely, Devine
said Sumac was born Zoila Augusta Emperatriz Chavarri del Castillo in
Cajamarca, Peru, on Sept. 13, 1922.

She later said she began singing when she was about 9.

After joining Vivanco's large group of native singers, dancers and
musicians, she made her radio debut in 1942; she and Vivanco were
married the same year.

In Argentina in 1943, she and Vivanco's group recorded a series of
Peruvian folk songs. By then, she was known professionally as Imma
Sumack (Capitol Records later changed the spelling).

In 1946, she and her husband moved to New York City, where they
performed as the Inca Taky Trio, with Vivanco on guitar, Sumac
singing soprano and her cousin, Cholita Rivero, singing contralto and

After making her name as a solo artist, Sumac toured around the world
for several years in the `60s, but her popularity in America had
waned by then.

In 1971, she recorded a psychedelic rock album that was not widely
released, "Miracles," and "semi-retired" to Peru later in the decade
-- at least that's what she always said.

"That's the legend that she stuck with all through these decades,"
Devine, who runs the Sumac website, told The Times
shortly before Sumac's death. "She didn't want people to know she was
here and not working. The story was good for her. She's a very
eccentric woman. . . . Her whole career and life is based on her
mystery and so the facts and fiction is a fine line with her." Sumac,
however, did return to performing in 1984 at the Vine Street Bar &
Grill and the Cinegrill in Hollywood. In the early `90s, she toured
in Europe and continued to perform until 1997.

"The younger generation loves the music, loves Yma," Sumac told the
Tampa Tribune in 1996. "The new generation told me many times: 'Miss
Yma, we love you. Your music is something. It's out of this world.' "

Sumac, who was divorced and remarried to Vivanco in the late `50s and
divorced from him again in 1965, is survived by their son, Charles,
who lives in Europe, and three sisters, who live in Peru.

Services will be private.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

One disconcerting experience!

I spent last winter working at a homeless shelter that opens from November-April each season. In the four months since the shelter closed, I've run into several people who had slept there. Thankfully, the lion's share of them now have places to live. But not all, as I was fiercely reminded a little while ago.

At 11:00 Sunday night, I was taking one of my frequent exercise walks in downtown Willimantic, CT. As I strolled past the public library, I noticed a woman sitting on the bench out front. I recognized her as a former shelter guest and stopped to say hello. Big mistake, as it turned out.

This particular woman had been quite a handful as she was both certifiably insane and quite unsanitary. (She refused to shower because she said she was afraid of getting raped.) So, imagine how I felt when she grabbed my hand and said, "I don't have a place to sleep tonight. If you let me stay at your place, you can have sex with me and I won't charge you money."

Now, I've been alone for quite some time, but I wasn't about to take that woman up on her offer. Rather, I lied that I now had a live-in girlfriend and that I really couldn't do anything to help her. I then high-tailed it out of there, feeling both repulsed and guilty. I would have felt far worse, though, had I taken that woman home with me and used her as a substitute for my right hand.

Perhaps you're thinking I could have let her crash at my place without having sex with her. Technically, you'd be right. However, I have three roommates to consider. I'm not sure they'd have looked too kindly on my having let an insane, homeless, unsanitary woman sleep on our couch. Besides, she then would have known where I lived and might have started habitually turning up on my doorstep. I have enough on my mind these days without adding that to my problems!

Still, I feel guilty as hell about having left that poor woman to sleep on a bench in front of the public library. But what could I do?

It's been four months since I worked at that shelter, but the experience haunts me still.

Friday, August 1, 2008

My Least Favorite Rock 'N' Roll Acts

When I began this list in June 2008, I figured it might contain about 25 artists. But the damned thing's now up to 70 acts! If your stomach can handle it, you'll find the list here:

Sometimes you're better off not knowing

I wrote this on June 21, 2008, but forgot to post it until now.

Last night, I was enjoying myself at the 3rd Thursday Street Fest in Willimantic, CT, when I happened to bump into a guy named Rich. Not only had he lived next-door to me at my old place in East Hartford, but coincidentally also dated a woman named Dawn, with whom I worked for five years (1999-2004).

I'm still reeling from what Rich told me: namely, that Dawn passed away last November. Dawn was all of seven months older than me!

Seems she was at work one morning and suddenly stopped breathing. Since none of her co-workers knew CPR, by the time the EMTs arrived Dawn's brain had been without oxygen for close to seven minutes, and her heart had stopped.

They were able to get Dawn's heart pumping again, but she was brain-dead with zero chance of recovery. So the next of kin instructed Dawn's physician to pull the plug on her life support. At 42 (my age now), Dawn was no more, and her two teen-aged daughters were now orphans. (Dawn's ex-husband is a junkie scumbag whose sense of responsibility is about what you'd expect from someone like that.)

A few weeks ago, as part of my new job at a group home, I was trained in both CPR and First Aid. If Dawn's employer (a pharmacy) had been that diligent, she might not have died.

Suffice it to say, during the ten minutes or so that I spoke with Rich last night, my mood spiraled from upbeat and festive to bummed out and depressed. I still haven't fully recovered. Of course, it doesn't help that I'm out of anti-depressants and the State of Connecticut has kicked me off medical assistance, because with two part-time jobs I now make too much to qualify. Never mind that neither job offers medical benefits. But that's a whole other rant.

You can afford to see "Batman," so quit your damned whining!

The original letter to the editor:

Gas prices are high…foreclosures are soaring…people are losing their jobs…oh my! But “Batman” grossed more than $155 million in its opening weekend, and 7% of the population spent over a quarter of a billion dollars on movies this past weekend. Boy, the economy must be in terrible shape.

And my response:

Regarding “Times Are Tough.” I was laid off from my last year-round, full-time job in June 2006. Despite submitting hundreds of resumes and applications, I’ve spent the last 26 months barely getting by on part-time, temporary and seasonal employment, not to mention the amazing generosity of my friends. I also am a diabetic who requires insulin every day. When I found a second part-time job, I was thrown off state medical assistance because I now made too much money to qualify. But since I managed to scrape together $8.50 to see “The Dark Knight” rather than spend another evening at home feeling depressed, that means I’m doing just fine and should stop my whining. Spoken like a true Dittohead!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Tennessee church-shooter Jim Adkisson was a victim, too.

Regarding the recent church shooting in Tennessee, whose perpetrator consciously chose a congregation that espoused liberal views, I can only say this:

Thank you, Rush! Thank you, Bill! Thank you, Sean! Thank you, Ann! Thank you, Michelle! Thank you, Tucker! Thank you, Laura! Thank you, Weiner (Savage, whatever)! Yes, a great big thank you to all those right-wing hate-mongers who infest the airwaves and have spent fifteen-plus years fostering the climate that led poor Jim D. Adkisson to think liberals and progressives are his enemies and deserving of death.

So, do you think the FCC will go after any of that right-wing filth like it went after ABC for showing Janet Jackson’s booby for one-tenth of a second? Don’t make me laugh.