This Is Me--2024 A to Z Theme

My A to Z Themes in the past have covered a range of topics and for 2024 the theme is a personal retrospective that I call "I Coulda Been" which is in reference to my job and career arc over my lifetime. I'll be looking at all sorts of occupations that I have done or could have done. Maybe you've done some of these too!

Monday, August 8, 2022

Diversity Land ( #BOTB Results )

 Back some time ago folks eyed coming to California to pursue their golden dreams.  Then it was sunny weather, beaches, and Disneyland.  Now many who can afford to do so are fleeing the state while others like me are dreaming of going back East.  The nice weather is still here and the beaches aren't going anywhere--yet.  These days I don't know how people can afford to go to Disneyland or why they would even want to go there anyway.  Forget the what used to be The Magic Kingdom.  Welcome to Diversity Land...

What Happened?

     Most of  my elementary school years were spent living in San Diego.  Those years between 1958 and 1963 were for me a kid's paradise.  The city was still relatively small and there were plenty of wild canyons for a kid to explore nearby the vast housing developments being flooded with those post World War 2 families looking for a good place to raise their children.  It was a very good place. Those were some great times for me and probably many of those kids that lived all around me.

      Then as circumstances would have it, my family moved back East not far from my Cleveland Ohio birthplace.  First we went to Northwestern Indiana and then to East Tennessee.  In those years the nation saw the assassination of a President as well as a few other figures who many looked up to.  As I entered my teen years, the war in Viet Nam inundated the national conversation.  Still my life was decent. I had good times and grew into an adulthood that included some great jobs, a couple of marriages, and four kids of my own.  Most of the time I was pretty darn happy.

       In 1991, when I was offered a job in the Los Angeles area, I jumped at the opportunity.  My situation in Tennessee seemed to be at a dead end of sorts and my good memories of living in California were luring me back to that Golden State.  Things for me had to get better then they had become.  So I followed the money (not really that much as I think back) and the possibilities that this new life seemed to promise.

      Now here I am some thirty years later wishing I could go back to that old Tennessee home or someplace like it.   It's not all that easy for me to just pick up and go since it's more than just me.  Not that life is horrible.  I live in a part of Los Angeles where I feel safe and comfortable and things are very convenient for me.  I have to venture out away from my town to see those homeless encampments and these days with high gas prices I can't afford the leisure drives my wife and I used to take.  There is certainly some crime in our area, but not like you see on television news.  

        I'm thankful for all that I have, but I do wish I could have something different.  But to quote that old song, "You can't always get want you want".  So I guess I've got what I need to some extent.  I don't need to go to Disneyland and I don't demand any kind of diversity.  We've got as much diversity in my neighborhood as I care for and don't need to get into the realms of weird diversity land.

        Once there was a dream called California.  Now people are leaving in droves.  When I talk to friends in Tennessee they say the place is booming and being overrun by people from California.  I mean, really, what happened?

          And speaking of what happened...

Battle of the Bands Results

The Battle of L.A.

       My most recent Battle consisted of three different songs with the title "L.A."   Considering the diversity of styles, the outcome was pretty equally diverse.  Personally I liked all three songs.  Normally punk rock is not my favorite genre but the song by Los Illegals did capture my interest when I heard it in the film Mur Murs and I liked the actual album version even better, especially the drumming.

       I also enjoyed the song by Jackie DeShannon.  Bright and sunny like Southern California, this song has a fun pop sound that carried me right back to my high school years when that was a style of music we listened to much of the time.  I'll have to be honest--that song has been ringing in my head since I found it for this Battle.

        However, most of you who know my musical tastes probably can guess that my vote goes to the song by Neil Young.  There is a gritty realness to the sound and the lyrics with enough sarcasm to give me a wry smile.  Yeah, here's my L.A. and that's what I voted for.   And that means a tie.  Still not a bad outcome though.

Final Vote Tally

Los Illegals                      3 votes

Neil Young                       6 votes

Jackie DeShannon          6 votes

Next Battle????

        Maybe I'll have a Battle on the 15th, but more likely it will be on September 1st.   Right now I'm not sure what will happen.  I've got some things going on that I might have to address and I might not be focusing on blogging in the next couple weeks.  We'll see though.  After all, I'm in L.A....

Monday, August 1, 2022

L.A. ( #BOTB & #IWSG )

     What do you think of L.A.?   And I mean Los Angeles CA in case you're in doubt.  Those of you who live here or nearby certainly have some kind of opinion.  If you used to live here you must have left for some reason, but was it L.A. that made you leave?  

       Whatever you may have seen or heard or read about L.A. is probably true and a whole lot more.  It is one heck of a diverse place.  Rich, poor, conservative, liberal, crazy, sane--they're all here (with an emphasis on the crazy).  There are some who are happy as well as some who are discontent with this place.  And there are likely many who think whatever they think depending on the circumstances of the day, the hour, or the minute.  This city sucks and it's amazing at the same time depending on how you're viewing it and any given time or perspective.  And someday the powers beyond our control might just suck this city down into the bowels of the Earth.  Did I hear someone say, "that's where it belongs"?  

      There are a lot of people and groups to try to please in this metropolitan chaos and one thing is for certain:  You can't please everybody, not even some of the time.   It's kind of like writing I suppose...

(cue music for opening credits...)


The Insecure Writer's Support Group

Join us on the first Wednesday of each month in Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group--a forum of writers who gather to talk about writing and the writer's life. For a complete list of participants visit Alex's Blog

The co-hosts for the August 3 posting of the IWSG are Tara Tyler, Lisa Buie Collard, Loni Townsend, and Lee Lowery!

August 3 question - When you set out to write a story, do you try to be more original or do you try to give readers what they want?

        Just like managing a city or a business in that city, you want to try to accommodate as many as you can, but the fact is you cannot please every single customer.  That's how I look at my writing.  I'm not looking to be totally absolutely original in what I write, but I try to stick to a style and subject matter that I want to read.  If I like what I've written then I will hopefully find that target audience who appreciates the same thing.  Naturally the more who want to read my writing, all the better--especially if I'm making some kind of income from that writing.  

        Then if I've established some kind of audience (customer base) then I want to give what they expect which is what they very likely want.  It would seem kind of nutty to write something that was way out of my realm of interests that would turn off readers unless I were doing so for purely experimental reasons and that is something I only might do for the novelty of doing it.
       Original ideas are great, but trying to go out of my way to sound original doesn't make that much sense unless I've been paid specifically to to that and in that case I doubt that I'd want to keep doing it.  Unless I liked the new style.  How often does that happen?  No, I'd rather write what I know, as the saying goes, and that includes a style and topic that I'm comfortable writing. 

      After all, I don't write to torture myself or any readers I might have.  Just like I don't live here in L.A. to torture myself.  Though that point I might question. 

        How about some views from some songwriters who have written about very different aspects of Los Angeles in some very distinctive musical styles?   

   cue intro for....

Battle of the Bands

        Battle of the Bands is the blogging event started by Far Away Series and now hosted by StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands.   This event happens each month on the 15th and on some there is also a Battle on the 1st of the month.  My blog is one of those with a second Battle excepting over these summer months.   The premise is simple:  Listen to the songs presented below and then in the comments vote for your favorite and tell us why you liked it.  Then visit the links listed near the bottom of this post for more Battle action.


     If you look up "Songs about Los Angeles" on Wikipedia you will find hundreds on the general topic and well over 30 with just the simple title "L.A.".   A lot of songwriters have been inspired by some aspect of the city both good and bad.  Let's face it--not everyone is singing "I Love L.A.".   A place as big, diverse, historical, and influential is bound to provoke a lot of inspiration and discussion.  Many songwriters and musicians come to L.A. because of the music scene and invariably many write songs about the city.   In this Battle I will present three different perspectives of opinions about L.A. in three different styles.  Please listen and let us know which song is most to your liking...

Los Illegals   "L.A."  (1981)

        This song was the inspiration for this Battle.  The song was performed in a documentary I recently saw on TCM.  Mur Murs (1981) is a French film directed by Agnès Varda which explores the graffiti and murals of Los Angeles.  I found the film to be a fascinating look at Los Angeles in 1980.  Seemed not much different that the city is now except many of the murals in the film are now gone though new murals have taken their places.  This song by Los Illegals is about the situation faced by illegal immigrants coming to the city.  Things haven't changed much in forty years.  The punk style seems like the appropriate genre to express the feelings conveyed in the song.  Lyrics are available on the video if you want to know what they are saying...

Neil Young   "L.A."   (1973)

        When I heard the previous song in the film Mur Murs, I immediately thought of one of my favorite Neil Young songs of the same title and decided that I had a Battle of the Bands installment.  That's often how these Battles come about for me. Neil Young's song "L.A." comes from his somewhat obscure and difficult to find live album Time Fades Away. This song is Young's snarky poke at the city complete with earthquakes and pollution.  Some bleak fun that has a rather nice musical sound...

Jackie DeShannon   "L.A."  (1969)

        Life in L.A. isn't all that bad when you hear it coming from Jackie DeShannon.  Almost makes you want to come here to see what she's talking about.  But it was the hippie sixties when she wrote this.  Love, flowers, and sunny days is what it's all about in this song that sounds like a commercial track or the theme song for a fun television sitcom.  Is this one more to your liking?  Or do you prefer the darker, grittier, and more realistic side?

Time to Vote!

         Don't rate the city in this Battle!  It's all about the songs.   Which song do you prefer?  
 Hopefully you have an opinion of some kind.  You don't have to know about music to have an opinion since it all comes down to your own personal taste.

        Please vote on your favorite by letting us know your choice in the comment section and tell us why you prefer the version you chose. Then after you've finished here, please visit the other blogs listed below who may or may not be participating this time around. And if you've put up your own BOTB contest let us know that as well so we can vote on yours.

Here are some other places where you might find BOTB posts:

 StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands


'Curious as a Cathy'

Sound of One Hand Typing

Jingle, Jangle, Jungle 

Winner of this Battle Announced on Monday July 8
           Not only will I announce the winning song/artist in my next post, I'll also have some of my own reflections about Los Angeles.  I could write my own song about it.  So much to say.