Tag Archives: music

(I’ve Got a) New Latitude

… or at least I’ll have one come spring, if all goes well with my move from Tucson, Arizona to Rochester, New York.

And, à la Patti LaBelle, I’ve got a new attitude as well. (Be sure to click the link and hear Patti belt it out on New Attitude, written in 1984 for the film Beverly Hills Cop.)

What’s more, just like The Jeffersons (an American tv series from 1975-85), I’m movin’ on up … from the 32nd to the 43rd parallel, to be precise. (The link will take you to Ja’net DuBois and a 35-member gospel choir singing the show’s theme song.)

Yes, I’m moving 2,000 miles in the midst of a global pandemic. Hopefully, I’ll have my vaccine by the time I leave, and so will most of the rest of the world. Fingers crossed.

To keep you informed about my journey’s progress, I’ll be blogging about it, just as I did a year and a half ago when I took a three-day train trip in the opposite direction (and lived to tell the tale) in my blog series, “TRAIN TRACKER.” I’m calling this new series, “NEW LATITUDE.”

And now, for Episode 1, which I envision being narrated by Meryl Streep:

When the pandemic hit, I was one of the lucky ones. I was able to work from home, and then I retired, which I’d been planning on doing anyway. I started Zooming with friends. My classes and clubs continued on the web. I ordered groceries online and I did curbside pickup. I made masks, baked, practiced guitar, and polished my book manuscript. Hell, the grocery store even delivered wine. What more could I ask for? Well, I’ll tell you what more I could ask for: the opportunity to see my family, in person.

You see, as Paul Simon sings in The Boxer, I’d “left my home and my family” 17 years earlier for a better job and a warmer climate. And by family, I mean two grown daughters, my mother, four siblings, and my entire extended family. And then, 5 years ago, a grandson came along, and then another. Can you blame me for wanting to move back?

Porter
Elliot

For every year I’ve lived in Tucson, I’ve wondered if I made the right decision in moving out here. Don’t misunderstand: I love Tucson. It’s dry, sunny, friendly, has great food, hiking, and bicycling, beautiful desert scenery, great sunsets – I could go on and on. But living 2,000 miles from family meant flying back and forth at least once a year to keep in touch. I’d done that without too much concern for 17 years, but for the last 3 of those years, I’d been seriously considering moving back. I have lovely friends here in Arizona, but I was beginning to feel my family slipping away. (If you follow me, you may recall reading about this dilemma in my post, “Was I Loco to Relocate?“)

Luckily, I’ve had my dog, Maya, to comfort me during the pandemic while I thought this through. You remember Maya, don’t you, from “Pandemic Paws” and “Battle of Wits“? If you do, you can rest assured that she’s doing much better these days — no longer the stressed-out anxiety-ridden dog I’d adopted in June. But if anyone needed therapy, it was me.

Months of living through the pandemic forced me to face facts. It was now or never. I wasn’t getting any younger, and if I didn’t make a move soon, I might never get the chance again. So, one day, I logged onto the real estate site, Zillow, and started surfing. I later learned that I wasn’t the only one doing that. The New York Times recently reported that Zillow-surfing has become something of a national pastime.

Surfing in the morning, surfing in the evening, surfing at suppertime. Would my search for a new home on Zillow end in success?

Would I ever find happiness?

Find out the answer to that and other burning questions in the next exciting episode of NEW LATITUDE!

I’m November Dreamin’

To borrow a phrase from the late great Congressman John R. Lewis, I hope to get into “good trouble” for this post.

In 1963, John Phillips woke his wife Michelle in the middle of the night to tell her about a song idea. Michelle wanted to go back to sleep, but John encouraged her to get up and help him write the song. She wrote the second verse, and two years later they’d record it with Cass Elliot and Denny Doherty. John, Michelle, Cass, and Denny were The Mamas and the Papas, and the song was California Dreamin’. It was a huge hit.

I’m old enough to remember when that song was new. And now, 55 years later, I’ve taken the liberty of rewriting John and Michelle’s iconic lyrics with a new message for 2020. I’ve even recorded it in Garage Band, added video with iMovie, and posted the song, I’m November Dreamin’, on YouTube.

You can experience the entire project (including three-part harmony, artwork that I found on Pixabay.com, and video of me rapping) here. Or just search YouTube for “I’m November Dreamin’. The title is unique, so far.

I’m no Mama Cass – I can’t sing as well as any of the Mamas OR the Papas – but I suppose I might qualify as The Grandma. I might, in fact, be the oldest rapper on YouTube.

I’m not here to toot my own horn. The whole purpose of the video (and this post) is to get Americans riled up enough to vote in November (for the alternative to “you know who”). So, if you like the video, I’d really appreciate it if you’d share it far and wide. And of course, I’d love to get your likes and comments here, and on YouTube.

Just in case you’d like to sing along with me, here are the lyrics to I’m November Dreamin’:

All the leaves are green
and the sky is blue                               
I’m hopin’ for a change,
somethin’ we can do.
I’ll be feelin’ better
when this administration’s through.                                    
I’m November dreamin’
‘bout electin’ someone new …    
 
I’m gonna vote by mail,
maybe you are too,
or you can go and stand in line
where they will welcome you.
Ya know it’s time to make a difference,
Defeat old you-know-who.
I’m November dreamin’
‘bout electin’ someone new!
 
Rap:
 
This isn’t a game, and what’s even stranger is
he’s deranged. Oh yeah, he’s dangerous.
He won’t take blame, he lies and he’s lazy.
Get him outta D.C. ... the guy is crazy!
Puts kids in cages, but then he’s liable
to brag about his brain while holdin’ a Bible!
He insulted McCain, but he’s always rootin’
for his pals like Stone and Vladimir Putin!
Don’t want more of the same? Then ya gotta be a chooser.
You all know his name, let’s make him a loser.
He appeals to his base … aww … they must be trippin’,
It was a tight race, and now he’s slippin'. But
NO! This is NOT the time to relax.
Let’s give it what we’ve got up to the max.
It’s our only shot! Don’t sit around and gloat.
We’ve gotta vote!
 
All the leaves are green
and the sky is blue.
We’ve got a racist in the White House,
doesn’t have a clue.
It’s really time for an eviction
at Pennsylvania Avenue.
I’m November dreamin’ 
‘bout electin’ someone new,
‘bout electin’ someone blue,
and I hope that you are too!
 

Again, thanks for comments and sharing!

TRAIN TRACKER, Season Three, the thrilling conclusion

Note: This is the final episode of TRAIN TRACKER, my version of a travelogue by train. To make any sense of it whatsoever, you’ll probably want to go back and read all the previous thrilling episodes, namely, TRAIN TRACKER: Season One, TRAIN TRACKER: Season Two, TRAIN TRACKER: Season Two, continued, TRAIN TRACKER, Season Two: Episode 3, and TRAIN TRACKER, Season Three: Stranger Things on a Train.

And now, for the final, thrilling conclusion of TRAIN TRACKER!

Season Three, Episode 2: I Want My Wi-Fi!

I’d just left Chicago on a train bound for Tucson when I discovered, to my horror, that my train was not equipped with Wi-Fi. I took the following selfie as proof of my misery:

face-306159_1280.png

I wanted my Wi-Fi! I wanted it as badly as Mark Knopfler wanted his MTV. But did I write a chart-topping song about it, like he did? No. I was too bummed out to be able to think of anything that rhymed with Wi-Fi.

Of course, now that I’m home, it’s clear to me that “sci-fi” rhymes with Wi-Fi. So, with apologies to Queen, here’s the first verse of my new song, “Cross Country Rhapsody.”

Is this the real life?
Is this just sci-fi?
Caught in a train car
Ain’t got no wi-fi.

I’ll let you know if I win a Grammy.

Meanwhile, I can tell you right now how I managed to get through the 66-hour train ride home without any high-speed internet access:

I read a book. Namely, Andrew Sean Greer’s Pulitzer-prize winning novel, Less. It’s a comedy about a gay man named Arthur Less who’s on a trip around the world. Entertaining and enjoyable.

If you’re going to bring a book on the train, I recommend the type with actual pages. You never know – an attractive stranger might notice it and start up a conversation with you. Or, you could use it as a fan in the event of A/C failure. If it’s thick enough, you might try wedging it behind your back for lumbar support. I actually did try that.

I watched part of a movie. Before my trip, I’d rented three movies on iTunes, but somehow I’d only downloaded one of them. (Silly me — I thought renting and downloading were the same thing.) When I tried to play the movie I’d downloaded, I discovered that my iPhone headphones (the only ones I’d packed) didn’t fit my new laptop.

So when we stopped in Chicago, I bought a $10 pair of headphones. Problem solved — or so I thought. One problem, though: the right earbud was dead. Undeterred, I tried watching the movie anyway, in mono, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I needed subtitles to understand the British accents that were buzzing through my one and only cheap earbud. After fifteen minutes, I gave up.

OK, I thought, I’ll just watch one of the other two movies I’d rented. But this was not to be, since, as you already know, and as I was finally realizing, there was no Wi-Fi on that train!

offline-525700_1280.png

I watched an intelligent stand-up comedy special. I had a link on my phone to Aziz Ansari’s new show, Right Now. I was able to watch it on my phone because I “had data.” (I don’t really know what that means. All I know is, it worked!) Aziz Ansari has had some bad P.R. lately, but he addresses it honestly right at the beginning of his special, and he comes across as genuine, sensitive, and “woke.” It’s really good, and funny, too.

I tried Zen train walking. About a week before my train excursion, I happened to come across a strange little book, Zen Driving. It’s all about how to drive a car in a more calm, aware manner, using Zen ways of thinking (or not thinking). I decided to try applying the techniques I read about in Zen Driving while making my way down the aisle of a moving train car. I tried gliding, I tried focusing straight ahead, I even tried bounding down the aisle. I think maybe it helped, because I never fell in anyone’s lap, not even once.

I watched the scenery go by. This could be done from my seat, which had a pretty large window, or from the observation car, which was practically all windows and also had tables where people could eat, play cards, etc. I saw the Gateway Arch and Busch Stadium in St. Louis, the “burrito lady” in El Paso, rainbows, sunsets, forests, flooded fields, farms, cattle, goats, sheep, vultures, pronghorns, cattle egrets, and more.

I listened to classical music on YouTube. I’m trying to expand my musical horizons by working my way through the book, Year of Wonder by Clemency Burton-Hill. It contains one-page descriptions of 365 pieces of music, one for each day of the year. I listened to James Ehnes performing Paganini’s Caprice Op. 24, and I was absolutely astounded at how good it was. Check it out!

I interacted. I met interesting people from all walks of life, usually in the dining car:

One woman from Chicago told me where to find the best pizza, corn bread, jerk chicken, and soul food in that town.

Three women (including the one above, her stepmom, and a lady across the aisle who wanted to join our discussion) talked with me about politics. We all supported the same candidates!

A grandmother who was born and raised in Texas shared her love of books, her koi pond, her grandsons, and her dogs. As I got up to leave, she added, “I hope you have a blessed trip. My name’s ___, and I’m on Facebook.”

A man explained to me the reason for his trip: he was returning home after having achieved his goal of riding on the “Big Boy” – the world’s largest steam locomotive.

train-2401406_1920.jpg

I translated a few sentences for a woman who spoke only Spanish and needed some help. Another Spanish-speaking woman helped me out in turn. I had asked her in English “which way to the dining car.” (I told you I have no sense of direction.) But when I realized she spoke only Spanish, I switched to that language and she understood, even though I’d made mistakes. People just love it when you try to speak their language.

As in real life, it wasn’t all pleasant. Four teens almost got kicked off the train for getting into a heated argument among themselves; a tipsy woman lifted her shirt and showed off her gall bladder scar. An older woman trying to walk through the observation car suddenly lost her balance and crashed violently into a seat when the train lurched suddenly. (She wasn’t hurt, but I really think trains need to be made safer for people of all ages and for those with disabilities, as well.)

Friends have asked if I’ll take this trip again. I probably will. It was nice to sit back and enjoy the ride, knowing that I had three full days ahead of me without any obligations, without having to be anywhere or do anything else.

In a way, I think it was as close to a Zen experience as I could have asked for while crossing the continent. And you know what? I’m actually glad that I didn’t have my Wi-Fi!

 

Funny Looking Snowmen

It rarely snows in Tucson, Arizona, but when it does, it’s a pretty big deal.

There was a dusting of snow to our north last night, and probably five inches of the stuff 25 miles up the road, in Oracle State Park, which is where I went today to take photos. The place was swarming with “snow peepers,” and some of them were building snowmen.

Here’s one of my snowmen photos. But this snowman isn’t really a man, is it? Because he (it?) has three ears (horns?) and wings (gigantic shoulder muscles?). Obviously, it was built by a bunch of men with issues. I won’t say what their issues are, but what’s that guy in the red jacket pointing at?

Snowman 1-2

I do think this snowman is kind of lovable. Just look at that expression.

Here’s another snowman. This one is more typical of the ones I saw in Oracle today:

Snowman 2

A 3-foot tall snow person with eyes made from a plant called “desert broom.”

Obviously, we southwest Arizona residents aren’t too good at building snowmen. But then, can you blame us? It only snows one day a year here! We need more practice.

On my way out of the park, I spotted this 2-foot tall model pointing the way:

Snowman 3

Actually, I think its arm fell off.

I think this minimalist sculpture was the best little snowman of all.

If you like snowmen, you’ll probably enjoy listening to my song about them, called “Gonna Build a Snowman.” It’s guaranteed to get you in touch with your inner child, and you can listen now, for free, here:

http://www.pacificbuffalo.com/music

Just click the link, then click “Gonna Build a Snowman.”

Happy Snow Year!

 

A Little Reptile Music

How are you celebrating New Year’s Eve?

They’re predicting snow and ice tonight, so I’m staying home with my Trader Joe’s frozen hors d’oeuvres, bottle of wine, and internet streaming. And just in case you’re doing likewise, here’s a suggestion:

Log onto YouTube and watch my latest attempt at video stardom, Desert Spiny Lizard Blues. It features a song I wrote about a lizard who uses acronyms. (You may remember it from my previous post, A Lizard’s Tale.) Given enough champagne, I’m predicting you’ll enjoy it even more than watching the ball drop.

If you DO enjoy it, please feel free to give it a thumbs up, and share it with your friends! Once again, here’s the link:

Desert Spiny Lizard Blues

Wishing everyone a happy, peaceful, joyous, adventurous, and successful 2019.

 

 

 

 

Song of the Iguana

I’ve written and recorded a song about iguanas. Read on to learn why my songwriting career has taken this reptilian turn.

My friend Elaine Powers is an author and biologist who lives and works with reptiles. Her pets include iguanas, tortoises, tegu lizards, and a turtle. She currently is actively involved in saving endangered iguanas in the Carribbean.

As Elaine explained to me recently, rock iguanas and spiny-tail iguanas living in Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, and other islands have become endangered due to habitat loss and introduced (non-native) predators. Spiny-tails are sometimes consumed by humans. The Statia iguanas on St. Eustatius Island are threatened by hybridization with the non-native green iguana. Some iguanas, while warming themselves on asphalt highways, get run over by cars, either accidentally or for sport. And then there’s poaching for the pet trade. Elaine’s group is trying to educate the public about the importance of native iguanas to the local ecosystem.

After hearing about the plight of the iguanas, I decided to write a song about them. Elaine had the song animated by Anderson Atlas, and she posted it on her YouTube channel.

To see and hear the video, click the following link:

Iguana Song

There’s even an iguana joke at the end of the song.

I’m hoping it catches on in the Carribbean. Do they have some version of a Grammy there? Maybe a Carribby? I’d settle for a paid vacation. But the real prize would be helping the iguanas to survive and thrive on their native island homes.

I’d love to hear your comments, and sharing is always appreciated!

nanopoblano2018-notrim

Looking Ahead to 2020

They say the 2020 U.S. Presidential race began last night. If so, I guess the time has come to share with you my latest music video, “2020,” which you can listen to and view here:

2020 Music Video

I was amazed and flattered that it took third place (based on applause) at a recent local amateur film contest. The 300-person mostly college-age audience was clapping in time and loudly singing along even before the first verse ended!

If you like the video, please “like” it here and on YouTube, and share!

Spoiler Alerts:

  • I rap during the instrumental part. (My audience actually whooped with surprise when they heard it.)
  • It has a beat you can dance to.
  • I’m not exactly a fan of Donald Trump, as will become obvious.
  • Here are the lyrics, minus the rap:

2020

Verse 1:

In two thousand twenty, the votes they will be plenty
Cryin’ out for justice, and nobody can bust us!
Don’t call us a snowflake, we’re more like an earthquake, yeah!
Just like an eruption, we’ll throw out corruption, yeah!

Verse 2:

In two thousand twenty, our voices will be many
It wasn’t an illusion, you’re guilty of collusion
We’ll show you we aren’t buyin’ your wall and all your lyin’, yeah!
There’s one way to beat you, our votes they will defeat you, yeah!

Chorus:
In 2020, heed my words
Your hopes will fly like little birds
Democracy will get a boost
The eagle will come home to roost
The world will be a better place
When at last you lose the race
No longer will we see your tweets
The victory will be so sweet!

(Instrumental/Rap)

Verse 3:

In two thousand twenty, the votes they will be plenty
Cryin’ out for justice, and nobody can bust us!
And you can quote us, we’re puttin’ you on notice, yeah
Just go ahead and quote us, you never were our POTUS, yeah!

© Lori Bonati, 2018

≈≈≈≈≈

Note: These are my unapologetic sentiments. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, but I’m worried about racism, xenophobia, guns, and the future of our planet, and it’s just time for me to make a little noise about it. I hope you’ll sing along, and play it loud!

Don’t forget to watch the video and share if you like it!

nanopoblano2018-notrim

Thanks to Joan, Heather, and the NFL

Last night, I dreamed I met Joan Baez.

I was standing just outside of her dressing room, a small trailer with an open window (as in a food truck) on one side, and the door on the other. With tears in my eyes, I stood in the doorway and told Joan Baez that I’d been a fan since I was 12 (that’s not really true; I was about 15). Then I told her my current age, and she said, “Well, that says a lot.” (She’s older than me, actually, but I refrained from telling her so.)

Even though a throng of fans was crowded around the open window, she turned away from them to have a private chat with me in the doorway. Still, I had the awkward feeling that I couldn’t quite express myself to her. I told her I loved how she sang a certain song (one of her earlier folk songs) but in my dream I told myself that I really loved another one better, and if only I could remember its name I’d tell her I loved that one, too. I felt like I was acting like a typical gushing fan, the last thing I wanted her to think of me, and that maybe she was just humoring me.

But then she handed me something — a gift of some kind — and as I walked away, I said to someone, “Now I can send her a thank you card!”

So here it is. Thank you, Joan, for inspiring me as a young woman to buy a guitar, to learn your songs, to play along with your records, to try and hit your high notes (both musically and politically). Thank you for introducing me to pacifism and protest marches. And thank you for that gift, whatever it was, in my dream.

Maybe I dreamed about you last night because this weekend is the one-year anniversary of the racist Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville — the one that resulted in the murder of Heather Heyer, a believer in social justice who was there protesting the rally.

So here’s another thank you — this one is for Heather Heyer.

Thank you, Heather, for helping to keep the spirit of protest alive, and for standing up against racism and injustice. And thank you for your last post on Facebook, which was: “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.”

And, while I’m at it, thank you to the NFL players who’ve been taking a knee to protest racism and injustice. Shame on you-know-who for criticizing their peaceful form of free speech.

Unbelievably, another white supremacist Unite the Right rally is scheduled to take place in Charlottesville this weekend. What a slap in the face to all that’s decent in the world.

I think I’ll spend the rest of today practicing my guitar (until my fingers get sore, anyway) while thinking about peace, justice, love, and protests. Maybe a new song, or at least another dream, will come of it.

Four Reasons to Buy Songs for the Seasons

Three months ago, just after a month-long blogging challenge called NanoPoblano, I took a break from blogging to write some songs. Children’s songs, specifically. The holidays were fast approaching and I have 2 two-year-old grandsons. My big present to each of them was the gift of music.

Henry likes weed whackers and leaf blowers, while Porter is a little obsessed with Curious George and trains. I decided to start with a song about weed whackers.

After finishing the Weed Whacker Wiggle, I tackled leaf blowers, and came up with Blow the Leaves. Those two garden tools (one used in summer, the other in fall) inspired me to write Mud Makes a Mess and Gonna Build a Snowman for the other two seasons.

With the help of my husband and musical partner, we recorded the songs, had them professionally mastered, created an album called Songs for the Seasons, and uploaded them to CDBaby, where you can download all four songs for $4, or individual songs for 99 cents each.

Here are four reasons that I think it’s worth your while to buy this music:

  1. Spring
  2. Summer
  3. Fall
  4. Winter

Other reasons you might want to download the songs:

  • Mud Makes a Mess mentions a worm (bound to make kids squirm).
  • Weed Whacker Wiggle brings out the giggles.
  • Blow the Leaves will interest anyone who either likes or hates leaf blowers.
  • Gonna Build a Snowman has a moral to the story and includes some awesome harmonies.
  • We’d really appreciate some reviews!

Here’s the link where you can listen to clips and decide if you want to buy the downloads:

http://store.cdbaby.com/cd/pacificbuffalo4

What’s your favorite season?

Rapping It Up

Day 30 of the Nano Poblano (a.k.a. NaBloPoMo — National Blog Posting Month) challenge is finally here! Thanks for reading, thanks for writing, and thanks to the “cheer peppers” who made it all happen and cheered us on by “liking” our posts. I read the posts of my fellow bloggers religiously and learned so much from all of you.

I’m proud of myself for sticking with it, even though some days were a little rough. Somehow, I managed to eke out 30 different pieces, including:

  • two posts made within 15 minutes of midnight
  • one post consisting of only one sentence
  • two posts that were nothing but questions
  • one that included a video of me singing and playing guitar
  • a poem made up of 14 shorter haiku poems
  • many other posts, some with a bit of history, some just plain silly
  • no cat photos, and only one post with pictures of what I had for lunch

Even though I thoroughly enjoyed NanoPoblano, I’m looking forward to a little down time in December. (Did I just say down time in December?) This year, for the first time since I was a kid, I couldn’t wait for December to get here. I mean, I literally couldn’t wait. As soon as I returned home from New York yesterday, I changed both of my wall calendars to December without realizing that I was two days early.

There’s one thing I meant to post this month and didn’t. It’s a little embarrassing, but here goes: I don’t know how to rap. I don’t know much about it and I think I might be terrible at it. I’d like to learn, though, so that maybe I can use it in my songwriting projects. But how do you learn to rap? The same way you can learn almost anything these days: YouTube! I watched a few videos and I learned that some rappers (I think it’s called freestyle?) compose on the spot by thinking ahead to the end of the phrase before mentally writing the first line. I decided to try it, so I looked around the room for inspiration. I was in the kitchen. On the table was a glass, some cheese and crackers on a plate, and a vase of flowers. I grabbed my pad and pencil, and here’s the result. I may not win a Grammy, but if I make you smile it’s all worth it.

I had no support, I had no backers,
all I had going were these tasty crackers

I needed a genie to grant me three wishes
instead of all these glasses and dirty dishes

I wanted to be strong, I wanted magic powers
or maybe just a bunch of beautiful flowers

I had me some treble, I had me some bass
but I needed something else, like a flower vase

I asked that genie, pretty pretty please
can you bring me some money, or maybe just some cheese?

And on that note, I’m rapping up this edition of loristory. Happy December!

Featured image photo by Anita Peeples

img_2134