Celebrating Aretha Franklin

“In Aretha,” the Rev. Dr. William Barber said at her funeral, “the holiness of the sacred and the secular came together, in a way that could be only ordered by the Lord. Some say that even as the world spins, there is a certain tune to the world’s orbit. Aretha tapped into that tune, and taught us its rhythm.”

Celebrities honored Aretha Franklin, the legendary singer, at her “homegoing” in Detroit. Those who attended the funeral were greeted by a line-up of more than 130 pink Cadillacs on the road leading to Greater Grace Temple, a nod of respect to the singer who had deep affection for pink Cadillacs: “We goin’ ridin’ on the freeway of love in my pink Cadillac,” she sang in her 1985 single “Freeway of Love.”

The Cadillac idea was arranged by Crisette Ellis, wife of the Greater Grace Temple pastor. “My husband said, ‘Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could have a sea of pink Cadillacs parked on Seven Mile Road to greet Ms. Aretha Franklin as she arrives?’” Ellis told NPR.

The service of honor went on for several hours between tributes and songs.

“The greatest gift that has been given in life itself is love. We can talk about all the things that are wrong, and there are many, but the only thing that can deliver us is love,” said Stevie Wonder at the conclusion. “We need to make love great again. Because black lives do matter. Because all lives do matter. And if we love God then we know, truly, it is our love that will make all things matter when we make love great again.”

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Happy Birthday Queen Lili’uokalani

Queen Lili’uokalani

Happy Birthday to Queen Liliʻuokalani, the first queen regnant of the Kingdom of Hawaii and its last sovereign monarch (1838-1917). She ruled from January 29, 1891, until the overthrow of her rightful rule in January 17, 1893, by unscrupulous sugar barons. While Queen Lili’uokalani had her own armed soldiers, she chose a peaceful resolution in hopes that the situation would be resolved without violence. “I have pursued the path of peace and diplomatic discussion, and not that of internal strife,” she wrote in Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen.

She appealed to the U.S. government about the toppling of her reign and found a sympathetic ear with President Grover Cleveland. Though he lobbied for her rightful return to power, annexation of Hawaii was enacted in 1898 by the U.S. Senate and Queen Lili’uokalani was placed under house arrest while non-Hawaiians ruled the islands. (Some of this story can be read HERE.) It is a painful story to read if you believe in self-rule, liberty, and justice (highly recommended is Lost Kingdom: Hawaii’s Last Queen, the Sugar Kings, and America’s First Imperial Adventure by Julia Flynn Siler). Continue reading

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Senator John McCain RIP


The casket of Senator John McCain lies in state in the US Capitol Rotunda.

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McCain: “We never hide from history. We make history.”

FILE PHOTO: John McCain speaks at a 2008 campaign rally in Defiance, Ohio. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

What follows is he final statement from Sen. John McCain, read Monday by Rick Davis, his former presidential campaign manager, at the Arizona State Capitol in Phoenix, Arizona:

“My fellow Americans, whom I have gratefully served for sixty years, and especially my fellow Arizonans,

“Thank you for the privilege of serving you and for the rewarding life that service in uniform and in public office has allowed me to lead. I have tried to serve our country honorably. I have made mistakes, but I hope my love for America will be weighed favorably against them.

“I have often observed that I am the luckiest person on earth. I feel that way even now as I prepare for the end of my life. I have loved my life, all of it. I have had experiences, adventures and friendships enough for ten satisfying lives, and I am so thankful. Like most people, I have regrets. But I would not trade a day of my life, in good or bad times, for the best day of anyone else’s. Continue reading

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RIP John McCain, war hero, patriot, independent thinker

Associated Press

“‘The world is a fine place and worth the fighting for and I hate very much to leave it,’ spoke my hero, Robert Jordan, in [Ernest Hemingway’s] ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls.‘ And I do, too. I hate to leave it. But I don’t have a complaint. Not one. It’s been quite a ride. I’ve known great passions, seen amazing wonders, fought in a war, and helped make a peace. I’ve lived very well and I’ve been deprived of all comforts. I’ve been as lonely as a person can be and I‘ve enjoyed the company of heroes. I’ve suffered the deepest despair and experienced the highest exultation. I made a small place for myself in the story of America and the history of my times….

“What an ingrate I would be to curse the fate that concludes the blessed life I’ve led. I prefer to give thanks for those blessings, and my love to the people who blessed me with theirs. The bell tolls for me. I knew it would. So I tried, as best I could, to stay a ‘part of the main.’ I hope those who mourn my passing, and even those who don’t, will celebrate as I celebrate a happy life lived in imperfect service to a country made of ideals, whose continued service is the hope of the world. And I wish all of you great adventures, good company, and lives as lucky as mine.”

—John McCain, from “The Restless Wave” 

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Stray Cats rock through reunion shows

Reunited Stray Cats performed at Pacific Amphitheatre in Costra Mesa for the first time in a decade on Thursday, Aug. 16. (Photo by Suzie Kaplan)

Orange County Register: It has been 10 years since the Stray Cats rocked the Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa, however Thursday night it felt like the trio hadn’t skipped a beat.

Fans were ready to jump, jive and wail along with Brian Setzer, Lee Rocker and Slim Jim Phantom, who just recently reunited to play three stops in 2018 including the Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend back in April, the Naperville Ribfest in Illinois in July and added two nights at Pacific Amphitheatre.

The audience members in Costa Mesa made it clear that they wanted the Stray Cats. Numerous guests turned out in their rockabilly garb, sporting cuffed jeans, flat caps, rolled up T-shirt sleeves, slicked back or pompadour hairstyles, dresses straight out of the ’50s or wearing other vintage Stray Cats-branded swag.

To read entire article, click HERE

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Stray Cats strut their stuff at reunion show

Credit: John Gilholley

OC Weekly: “The Pacific Amphitheater in Costa Mesa was crowded with rockabillies, rockafillys, chilli-billies, psychobillies and whatever other sub-group you can slap that suffix on….the venue’s amphitheater was filled with folks who lived through the first wave of rockabilly, the second wave of rockabilly, the third wave–what wave are we on now? I’ve lost count.

“That’s right–Setzer, Phantom and Rocker, the holy trinity of the rockabilly revival of the 1980s, the union that launched a zillion pompadours and single-handedly raised stock in Gretsch guitars and Lucky Strike cigarettes in the day, re-re-reunited this year.

“So while it may have been a surprise to some when the Stray Cats announced via social media this spring they were reuniting after a 10 year hiatus, it wasn’t much of a surprise that they chose to reunite in just two places: Las Vegas (at Ingram’s Viva Las Vegas this April) and Costa Mesa. Not New York or UK where they have early roots, not the obvious choice of LA, not Japan (they’re big in Japan, you know). Good old Orange County, California. In 2008, the Stray Cats said “goodbye” on the same Pacific Amphitheater stage during their farewell tour.

“And so for two nights only, Thursday and Friday, the Stray Cats came to Costa Mesa to “rock this town” and that they did. They did not “rip this place apart” as their signature song goes–(they’re no longer the same twenty something punk kids that wrote that neo-swing anthem in the 1980s, and besides the Pac Amp has a strict 10 p.m. sound curfew).

“But they did deliver a rock steady beat of the hits that made rockabilly radio friendly along with tributes to the artists of the 1950s who inspired them. The band walked out to the sounds of Eddie Cochran (a permanent resident of Orange County) playing his hit “C’mon Everybody”. The trio greeted the crowd and then kicked off the set with a vivacious performance of “Runaway Boys”.

“I guess we shouldn’t have waited so long, huh?” Setzer asked the crowd at the end of the set. As the Stray Cats enter what will be 40 years of rocking and rolling towns across the world (they formed in 1979), 2018 was as good a time as any to reunite. Though there are no future dates currently lined up, we’re stoked the Stray Cats chose our backyard to host to the welcome home party.

Read Taylor Hamby’s full article HERE

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Go ahead, get that tattoo. Your boss shouldn’t mind.

Nora Flanagan, chair of the English department at Northside College Prep. (Chris Walker / Chicago Tribune)

Chicago Tribune: The research, published this month in the journal Human Relations, surveyed more than 2,000 people and found that the inked were just as likely to be employed and to earn as much as the uninked, regardless of the number, visibility or offensiveness of their tattoos.

That was a surprise to the study authors, as previous research has found that hiring managers widely perceive people with tattoos to be less employable than those without, even in recent years when the popularity of tattoos has surged. That negative perception is driven in part by other research that has found customers frown upon being served by or buying from people with tattoos, which years ago were associated with countercultural delinquents.

“We thought with this new information we are certainly going to uncover some discrimination,” said lead author Michael French, professor of health economics at University of Miami Business School.

But the study found no adverse employment outcomes for the tattooed, regardless of whether they were men or women, blue-collar or white-collar workers, in management or not. In fact, having one or more tattoos was associated with slightly higher employment and more hours worked, the study found.

To read entire article, click HERE

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We are loved

Bloody Redemption by Charlie Mackesy.

British artist Charlie Mackesy says that the story of the prodigal son is most central to him “It is subversive and flies in the face of religion, religious sensibility and moral high ground. It suggests we are loved not for what we do but because we exist. It cannot be earned; it is a gift. This is the most liberating truth in existence, that we are loved, known, forgiven and free.”

Check out his art HERE.

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Sting: ‘The Church’s Music and Liturgy Fed This Artistic Soul’

Sting at the Giudizio Universale show, Rome, July 27, 2018. Photo: Foto Studio Giusto_Carabella

National Catholic Register: You’ve said in interviews about your contribution to the show that you were immersed and well-schooled in the music of the Church. What particular influences — musical and religious — were important to you in making the composition?

Sting: I was an altar boy and I learned the Latin Mass but I loved plainsong, I loved Gregorian chant, Sung Mass. I still think I carry some of those cadences in my composition when I compose. So I’m grateful for that. [The Dies Irae] is normally done in a very minor key, a very doom-laden key, and I lifted it to a major key so it would be hopeful. I excised a lot of the very dark verses about Muslims being burnt in hell, and I thought it should be much more ecumenical. And then I love what Pope Francis said about God: he said “God is mercy,” and I thought that was a profound and simple statement that people had kind of forgotten over the years. So with the Last Judgement, if God is mercy, then there’s no judgment at all, just forgiveness. I don’t know if that’s heresy or not, but it works for me. So at the end of it, I put Deus Misericordiae [God’s mercy]. It’s not in the original text, I just added it and took liberties. I was surprised that the authorities seemed to like it and let it go. But I was happy last night to hear it and see it in that context, because it is an educational tool.

National Catholic Register: How much of a role does your faith play in your music, today and in the past? 

Sting: It was both positive and also a little frightening. I was a very serious child so I used to get cosmic vertigo, ontological vertigo. The concept of eternity for me was really troubling, not only eternal damnation but eternal heaven — it just seemed like Mass that would never end. I thought: I don’t want either [laughs]. Eternity still horrifies me but at the same time being put into that conundrum — philosophical conundrum — was perfect to forge an artistic angst, an artistic struggle. Plus the history of the Church, you know blood and death and torture and all the rest of it, the Last Things. And the music and the liturgy fed this artistic soul. I’ve benefited from it, but I’ve also suffered from it.

To read Edward Pentin’s entire interview with Sting, click HERE

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