Why I Backed Away From the Music Industry

Photo credit: Alison Gordy

In light of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, and in support of all the brave women who have come forward,  also those victimized by Bill Cosby, another on-trial preditor, I’d like to add my voice. I cannot name names because all these years later, I have no “proof,”

I started performing at coffeehouses, open stages, VFW halls, etc. when I was 13 years old. I had nobody to protect me: my parents were dysfunctional, and I really was on my own. The unwanted attention started immediately. “Can I take you home?” “No, my mom is coming to pick me up.” “Can I buy you a drink after the show?” “No, I’m 13.”

Over the years, I kept playing, and as I got older, the overtures were bolder and more insistent. Groping, sexual comments, suggestive offers. All of it made me feel icky and in danger. Still, like a black kid in the projects who see sports as a way up and out of poverty, I clung to my music and kept going. I was going to make it up and out of my dysfunctional childhood and play my music in front of a world audience.

Fast-forward to the 1990s. I was part of the Folk Revival movement in Greenwich Village, playing in all the key venues. I had a lawyer, who, unfortunately, convinced me that he knew “someone” at Sony who could get me a record deal. “How far was I willing to go? Answer: Not that far. He did nothing for me but put his hand up my skirt and take my money while I took him out to dinner.

I ditched him when he asked for half my publishing.

I had a meeting with a major label, demo in hand, and was asked to give a blowjob to the A&R rep. I refused, and that was the end of the meeting.

I finally took my music and formed my own label, Anvil Records, in 1994 and have released two CDs, Broken Hearted Angel, and Darkness Visible. I decided to remove myself from the predators’ pool because it was utterly demoralizing.

Harvey Weinstein is just a pimple on the acne’d face of the entertainment industry, and let’s take it a step further, on our society in whole. There is a deep vein of hatred towards women and their “ample assets,” “pert derrieres,”  “bikini-ready bodies,” ad nauseum. Women who are strong, capable, and willing to make a difference in society are hounded, pursued, derided, and discredited. In other words, there are a lot of men who really hate women, and will go to the ends of the earth to keep us as tits and ass toys.

I gave up on the music industry for those reasons. I support all the women who have come forward to decry this gross (and I mean that in all ways) injustice done towards them. Let’s put an end to this “I grab ’em by the pussy” mentality. It has to go. Look at who we have in the White House. Harvey’s brother.

Do I still play? Of course. Old musicians never die, we just decompose.

Invictus

 

My grandmother who is pictured above, Jean Castrovinci, asked me to memorize this poem by William Ernest Henley. It was one of her favorites, and she said to me. “You will need these words, one day.”  Oh, how right she was. This poem has served me well in many instances.

The photo of my grandmother was taken in the 1920s.

INVICTUS

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole.
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced, nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody but unbowed. 

In this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me unafraid. 

It matters not how strait the gait
How charged with punishment the scroll.
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul. 

Christmas Poem

I have been alone on Christmas

 

I have been alone on Christmas.

I have leaned my forehead on the kitchen window

Melting the frost outside until the water  

Ran down the glass in rivulets.

Sick with grief, I could only think if I’d been better

Christmas would not have escaped me.

Years later, I am still fragile,

But I am now stronger than the night,

And my heart burns brighter than Venus

In the early morning sky.

I know now, I am not alone. 

The heart of the Christ child will 

Always guide me and point me to

The Star of Bethlehem. 

 

Note to ALL my Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Wiccan, and LGBQ readers: I wish you safety, joy, good health, peace, prosperity, a million belly-laughs for 2017, and the joy of creativity. Most of all, I wish you love. xoxo

 

 

 

I Want to Ride a Butterfly to the Moon

My friend and mentor, B. Aline Blanchard’s poem, I Want to Ride a Butterfly to the Moon, inspired composer G. Paul Naeger to write this wonderful orchestral piece. Here, Aline recites the poem with the Orchestra on the Hill behind her. Such beauty!

 

Composer G. Paul Naeger
Performed by Orchestra on the Hill

Poetry, Narration and Photographs by B. Aline Blanchard

Animation by Chris Florio and Caleb Owen

“Non-Racist Trump Voters” Have a Moral Obligation to Stand Up to Hate

Dear Trump Voters, I’ve seen a lot of you being very angry at being assumed a racist. I’ve seen you claiming you love everybody and believe your “rough around the edges” candidate really does too, …

Source: “Non-Racist Trump Voters” Have a Moral Obligation to Stand Up to Hate

The Inky Binky Spider…

Surviving the Election

With weeks to go until the election, I’m wandering the globe, shaking my head.

I took the photo of this spider today, and of course, I put it through the hoops of cropping, and processing.

I wanted to see the spider–the one I dreaded falling onto my arm as I extended my camera–because I’m not sure that once this election is done, I’ll be able to differentiate between the spider and its web.

Have You Met My Friend, Proust?

Hats off to you, Marcel. It took you 54 pages to kiss your mother goodnight… and I’M afraid of the blank page?

Proust was a man of many words.
If you could say it in five,
He’d say the same thing in 50,
and I loved every line.

So often, I find myself
staring at the empty page
seeing a polar bear
in a blizzard eating snow.

My words become
Lightning bugs
Signaling in the night;
only to disappear
as I draw close –
twisting my ankles
on the roots of despair.

Hats off to you, Marcel.
It took you 54 pages
to give your mother
a kiss goodnight and
It took me 30 years to read
Remembrances of Things Past.

I suppose somewhere in
the Universe, that makes us
Even Steven.

Just one thing before you go
back on the shelf–
May I borrow your pen?

 

NOT A PHOTO OF MARCEL PROUST:

The photo is of my great-great-grandfather, John George Stubenbord (1844-1914). He was 27 when Marcel Proust was born, and from the buzz handed down in the family, he was a good man. i have no idea how many words he’d have used to describe my poem.