Tagged: charmaine clamor

Colorblind Music

No matter how insistently racism tries to insert itself into our social interactions, a few transcendent arenas remain where the truth is immune to strenuously repeated stereotypes and preconceived notions. One of these rare places is music. Either you swing or you don’t; you’ve got soul or not. There’s no faking it. Jazz and blues...

American Idol Crib Notes

If, unlike me, you don’t have a partner who forces you to watch the Fox karaoke competition “American Idol,” you may be living in a state of blissful ignorance, utterly unaware of what’s happening on America’s most-watched television program. You may not know that after weeks of schmaltzy build-up the shrinking talent pool questing to...

On Not Getting Old

Last night I saw my friend Linda Hopkins, the legendary blues singer, whose star on the Hollywood walk of fame commemorates her lifetime of entertaining on Broadway, record albums, and in concert halls around the world. She looked luminous. Her big smile illuminated the room, a nightclub on the Sunset Strip where once a month...

Too Beautiful

There once was a young woman so astonishingly beautiful that no one took her seriously. Blessed with fortunate genes, she had a face worthy of magazine covers. Unfortunately — and it was unfortunate in a strange, completely backwards way — she also possessed the figure of a highly coveted centerfold: slender, strong legs; a perfectly...

A Tale of Two Venues

Last night in Los Angeles, the Grammy awards were distributed at Staples Center, the basketball/hockey arena downtown. The vital business of marketing jesters ennobled by the moniker “musical artist” went smoothly from what I gather; the festivities were broadcast all over the world, and demure statuettes were disbursed to those who played along with the...

Philippines Notes, Part Two: Using Dogs

Some people in the Philippines eat dogs. (A recent documentary about the country, made by a native, was entitled “Dog Eaters.” Some expatriate Pinoys didn’t appreciate the label, but the verity of canine consumption wasn’t ever in question.) Occasionally, pet-owners here suffer the heartbreak of having their furry friend kidnapped — dognapped? — and transformed...

Philippines Notes, Part One: Litter in Paradise

The easy default reactions of an American who encounters unspeakable poverty and squalor when visiting a country like the Philippines are pity, scorn, and outrage. How monstrous, it seems, to call places like these “developing countries” when the extent of their development is obvious: great bastions of wealth and property concentrated in the hands of...

A Tale of Two Singers: How Familiarity Breeds Contempt

Two professional singers live on my street. One is an emerging star named Mae who both critics and fans praise for her soulful and passionate vocals. The other is Sheryl Crow. While there’s no accounting for taste — which is another way of excusing America for preferring Janet Jackson to Tierney Sutton — it must be...

Poem: Friends

Our surrogate family congregated in the church of our living room, Joining together to give praise and feel joy, with hardly a thought given to the consequences of enjoying sensual pleasures of the tongue and ear and eye. We smiled and laughed and nodded, Creating an affirmation — A conviction really — That the colors...

Rosa Parks, Shirley Horn, and America’s Enduring Schism

Rosa Parks, an unintentional maker of history, was buried this weekend. She was an ordinary citizen of the United States who did something extraordinary, something that today seems so normal and reasonable that the courage Parks must have summoned at the time is easily forgotten. She refused to abide a transparently unjust law, and she was...