Sunday, December 30, 2007

"More Than a Feeling"' - Boston

more than a feelin...

My second of three tribute selections in the last three days of the year. This one to Brad Delp, lead singer of Boston. He committed suicide earlier in the year. Bummer. The thing about Boston was that nobody really knew who any of the individuals were - including me. But what the members of the Class of 1976 at St. Clare's knew was that this was a great song at a dance. Totally easy to sing along to, and with that great clapping bridge about 3/4 of the way through? C'mon, it doesn't get much better than that.

Debbie HATES Boston. But it turns out she's in interesting company. Wikipedia reports that
"More Than a Feeling" is #2 of pop songs that respondents were too embarrassed to admit that they liked
Ha Ha.

But it's still a great song to clap along to when you are at a dance.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Theme - Oscar Peterson Trio


Many famous people left us in 2007. Among them, just recently, was Oscar Peterson, a virtuoso of the piano.

I somehow came across Oscar Peterson because of the album "Side by Side" done with Itzak Perlman. I love love love listening to it when I want high quality background music. On a rainy Sunday morning, on a long flight, or a long train ride. He was revered by his contemporaries. Duke Ellington called him "the maharajah of the piano." Nice praise from the Duke.

I have to confess that I am not a HUGE jazz fan, but as I get older I find myself gravitating to the traditional, sort of roots oriented jazz of the 40s, 50s, etc. About a week ago I downloaded a bunch of songs of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and more and more I find myself listening to folks like Ella Fitzgerald, Joe Henderson, Django Reinhardt, and other legends.

Peterson was Canadian, and came to be known in the US when he played an unbilled set at the Carnegie Jazz at the Philharmonic session in 1949ish. And he kept playing, all over the world, until a few years ago. A legend for sure.

So long Oscar.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

December (George Winston)

Press Play:

George Winston song. He is such a talent and I think of him, and the other Windham Hill musicians, any time when a cup of tea or coffee, a newspaper or good novel, and relaxing background music are involved. Will Ackerman (founder of Windham Hill), Scott Cossu, et al - they are all awesome.

And a roaring fire. That's what George Winston and December in DC conjure up for me.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Hawaiian Wedding Song - for Gramp

Today would have been my grandfather's 104th birthday. He died 13 days after his 100th birthday, in Santa Clara, California. More than any song, this one reminds me of Gramp. Here's the thumbnail of his story:

Diego Callejon was born in Estepona, Spain. It's a small town on the Costa del Sol, near Malaga. When he was seven years old, in 1911, he and his family loaded up onto a ship and traveled halfway around the world to their destination - Hawaii. The boat was no pleasure cruise. They traveled in steerage - aka with the cargo and cattle - and dozens of people got sick and died, including Gramp's sister, Mary, who died soon after they arrived in Hawaii.

Why Hawaii? Because Gramp's father, Antonio had some friends and relatives who had gone to Hawaii a couple of years earlier, that's where their new life and his parents' opportunity lay - as farmerworkers at a sugar cane plantation. Child labor laws being nonexistent, Gramp and his siblings went to school a little, and worked in the sugar cane fields a lot, especially after his dad got sick and the company wanted him to work off their debt. In 1917 the family moved again, this time to the San Francisco Bay Area. They were post-WWI migrant workers, handling apricots, asparagus, tomatoes, prunes and other wonders of the "Valley of Heart's Delight."

The rest, as they say, is history, at least in our family.

Those next 85ish years are truly the stuff of the American Dream - from "nothing" with a second grade eduction, to suitor and then husband of Mary Bronk, to business man (via the ranch on Capital Avenue in San Jose that I loved as a kid), to respected member of the community and the school board, to homeowner, and to father, grandfather and great-grandfather who showered all of us with (sometimes tough) love, and secretly pressed $20 bills into our hands, even after we were making plenty of money on our own. He was the real deal, self-made, and a gentleman. When people ask me who in my life I admire, I typically say "my grandpa."

It was a happy coincidence that today I spent two hours once again facilitating a community session for the Washington Area Women's Foundation - and this one was attended mostly by women who have recently come to the United States, just as my Grandpa's family did. Sure, the times are different, they are from Central America rather than Europe, and some of them are documented, some aren't...but at the core these women are no different from my ancestors. They left their home countries to try to forge better lives for their families, and they are struggling to "get ahead" here in the good old U. S. of A. Their courage, determination and faith carries them forward. Just like it did for Jimmy Callejon.

So, why the Hawaiian Wedding Song? Because this is a song I remember from my childhood and early adulthood that will always remind me of my grandparents. My grandfather adored my grandma, and when she died suddenly in 1997 he was heartbroken. I'd say he was heartbroken, in some ways, until the day he died. They loved to dance (especially he did), and I vividly remember them dancing to this song at every chance - including on their 50th wedding anniversary in 1975. On the day of the celebration of their union - their golden anniversary - this elegant picture was taken...Not long before they took to the floor to dance to the Hawaiian Wedding Song.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Bicycle Race (Queen)

Queen's classic. And they have so many.

Check out what the guys at are doing. Here's their mission: Quantum Shift TV is a 21st Century storyteller renewing the cultural values of community, care and interconnectedness through the use of leading edge technology and citizen journalism. Here's the kind of stories you'll see there - ones of:
  • Human cooperation and survival

  • Solutions to combat global warming
  • The positive impact of aid workers around the world

  • Perspectives and contributions of philanthropists
  • Corporate social responsibility progress

  • Environmental improvements and breakthroughs

  • And all other stories about those making a positive difference on this planet.
A great companion to what we are trying to do at GlobalGiving...and in the spirit of full disclosure, I just found them today when my Google Alerts let me know that they had posted this cool video about GlobalGiving gift cards as an alternative to "stuff:"

The second part of the video is about Google + Specialized's "Innovate or Die" contest. Also very cool. They are giving away money and bikes to pedal-generated ideas for good.

Here's a cool GG project that links the two pieces of this story together:
Pedal-Generated Light in Nepal

If only Freddie were around for this twist on the bicycle...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Traffic Jam (James Taylor)

"Well I left my job about five o'clock
It took 15 minutes to go three blocks
Just in time to stand in line
With the freeway lookin like a parking lot" - JT

They say that Washington DC has the 3rd worst traffic in the US, behind LA and SF. A recent trip to LA convinced me that this is one of those cases where the gap between first and second place is something like the gap in ideology between George Bush and Dennis Kucinich. The chart to the left sort of supports that. This takes the "winner takes all" concept to a new level. Great thing to win, eh? We humans can be bloody idiots.

Here's how it played out during this ~36 hr trip to LA:
Sleeping: 11 hours in two nights
PSA'ing: 8 hours in one night (I'll explain)
Driving: 5.5 hrs in four sessions, 98% on the freeways

That's 330 minutes of driving.
To go about 110 miles.
This equates to an average speed of 20 MPH.
And I summon my college math and stats classes to point out that the average, in this case, is not the truly relevant measure - as it was either 5-10 MPH or 65 MPH. Some distribution curve that would be.

Was it worth it? YES.

1. Because I got to spend a little bit of time with my goddaughters. AND I had the chance to see my friend Kate Bean's five year dream-turned-into-reality in action at the Aveson Charter School. What a site.


2. Because I had the unique experience of watching the filming of a TV commercial. So Hollywood. :) Our (GlobalGiving's) pro-bono ad agency Leo Burnett has made a minor miracle happen, and we are creating a super high production-value 30 second PSA....which is being directed by an award winning director named Jim Gartner. So there I was with my colleague Joan, and our Burnett team, as the filming took place between 6pm and 2am Friday night. It's gonna be very cool.

But Lord that traffic sucked.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (Cyndi Lauper)

This song came out in 1983, when I was in my final year of college. I wouldn't dare post a picture of what I looked like then. My goodness.

But the song was an immediate anthem to the free spiritedness of girls and young women everywhere. Cyndi Lauper was such a quirky thing herself, but the song just made you want to sing along.

I was reminded of this song today when I received the following note from my friend Eli who runs the Maine's Women's Fund:
"Your donation to our Evening to Honor Maine Women and Girls enabled 5 girls -- who wouldn’t otherwise be able – to attend the event. These girls are participants in A Company of Girls – an after school program for disadvantaged girls in the greater Portland area that uses theatre and the arts to explore self-identity and promote healthy development and self-esteem, a grantee of MWF.
Our photographer managed to
get these two shots which I thought you would get a kick out of."

Eli is shaking things up at the Maine Women's Fund, and her board seems psyched about it. I had the honor of meeting with them earlier this fall. Maine is often viewed as a place "up there" where everyone is squeaky and healthy and white and doing just fine. But it's a complicated place. It's big and it's geographically, racially and ethnically diverse, and women there - just like in virtually every state or major metropolitan area - struggle disproportionately. Eli and her team - and other great people in Maine - are hell-bent to change that.

These girls are the future of Maine. Right now they need a decent education, a safe place to call home, good role models and guidance about how to make good choices. In a few years they will want to have decent jobs, even safer places to live, affordable health care, and maybe a few bucks in their pockets.
Oh, and they will still just wanna have fun.

Cindy Lauper - Gir...

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Independent Woman (Destiny's Child)

Hit play to listen/watch:

I spent a few hours yesterday in Prince George's County Maryland, helping to facilitate a "Voice and Vision" session for the Washington Area Women's Foundation. Although I've been on the Board for 7 years, I have been focused on pretty much everything except our programmatic work in an intense way. Don't get me wrong, I can recite the stats and progress and impact and all that good stuff. DC Metro is a "tale of two cities:"

- Highest paid women in America, most highly educated women in America, 4th fastest growing city for women entrepreneurs, and for God's sake we've got a woman likely to be a presidential candidate who lives in our midst.

BUT, we've also got

- The highest rate in the country of new incidences of HIV in women, and 1 in 3 kids lives in poverty - more than 75% with single women headed households.

See, I didn't even have to check my notes to lay that out.

But yesterday, instead of talking about it conceptually, I was with some women in Prince George's County who, themselves, have come through the fire and are now doing amazing work to help lift struggling women out of poverty, away from destructive behaviors and relationships, and to independence.

Deborah Avens runs a non-profit called Virtuous Enterprises. Kim Rhim runs one called Training Source. These women are doing God's work for sure - against a fair number of odds and in an area that is somewhat forgotten in a Metropolitan area where many people don't really know the geography and demographics of their hometown. Prince George's County is the ultimate tale of two counties. While folks there don't like to hear it said this way, these women - and others who were there - most definitely framed up the "inside the beltway" vs. "outside the beltway" dynamics of this county - which is the most affluent minority-majority (aka majority black) "municipality" in the world.

I fell lucky and proud to work with the Women's Foundation and with women like Deborah and Kim - they inspire me to keep investing in the future of independence - financial and otherwise - for women in our community.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Last Kiss (Pearl Jam, covering a bunch of folks)

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I was reminded of this song tonight when I was watching an episode of the Sundance Channel's "Iconoclasts" series, (sponsored by Grey Goose Vodka - yum), which pairs two famous people to kind of riff off each other. This episode was about Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam) and the surfer Laird Hamilton.
It's pretty cool, if a little self-serving for the subjects.

Pearl Jam did this song a few years ago. It has a lot of history. It was written, and originally recorded, in the year I was born - 1962. It wasn't very popular. From a totally personal standpoint it takes me back to my 11th year - 1973/74. A Canadian band called Wednesday covered it, and while Wikipedia says it only hit #34 on the Billboard charts in the US, my memory is that it was playing constantly on the radio in my hometown area in the South Bay Area. It was a great sing along song, and so sad. How could you not imagine the "screaming tires?" The "busting glass?"

As a girl in 6th grade at St. Clare's Catholic School in Santa Clara, the notion that the singer would "see my baby when I leave this world" was the ultimate in tragedy. Many tears ensued.

Eleven years old and already grieving.

Imagine my surprise when, exactly 30 years later, Pearl Jam covers the song and gets a hit out of it. Probably sold more records or downloads than Wednesday every dreamed of.

Regardless of which version, it's a song that elicits sadness, life taken away too early and youthful grief. And then we grow up.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Breathe Me (Sia)

It's a Sunday in the fall and I just want to say: I MISS SIX FEET UNDER

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Anyone who was a fan of Six Feet Under will recognize this song immediately. Most of us had never heard it until the final episode, but now it is indelibly branded into our we think of Claire driving away from Los Angeles as the fate of each of the key cast members is revealed to us. I know I was not alone in sitting on my couch with tears streaming down my face. Over a television show, no less. And not even one that had been on the air that long for god's sake!

What was it about Six Feet Under that was so riveting, compelling, emotion-generating? Well, other critics and bloggers before me have tackled that question. And if you think I'm going to put my unsophisticated thoughts up against those who analyzed every episode, every character, every frame of that final sequence you are wrong.

Six Feet Under was not alone in using great music to tell its story. In fact, aside from the series finale, I can't recall the use of music much at all. Not like the mastery of David Chase's use of music in The Sopranos (another post on that one day). But Breathe Me was a perfect choice...haunting and fresh, from a relative unknown artist named Sia.

So, rather than preaching or evaluating, let's just watch (notice she is driving a Prius) :)

Friday, October 19, 2007

If I Had Million Dollars (Barenaked Ladies)

Here's a fun song that always makes me smile:

Obviously very tongue in cheek, a la Barenaked Ladies' style. Some of the things they would buy "me" with a million dollars:
- A house
- Furniture for that house
- A K-car

Here are some things that are buyable for $1 million:
A Luvaglio London laptop
A Ferrari Enzo
A 19.15 carat diamond

Or, at GlobalGiving, you could:

Provide livestock to improve health and economic prosperity for 100 families still struggling after the 2005 earthquake in Kashmir
Build a school for 300 poor kids in India who will otherwise end up on the streets
Fund HIV education and sports programs for 5000 girls in Zambia
Protect 180,000 square feet of rainforest and plant 6,000 trees in Australia
Provide vaccinations to 5700 poor kids in China
Build a school for indigenous children in Guatemala
Teach 2,000 women refugees in Sudan about their rights
Provide 3,600 former boy-soldiers in Afghanistan with education
Support a year's worth of programming for Katrina kids at the Baton Rouge Boys & Girls Club


Monday, October 15, 2007

Monday Morning (Fleetwood Mac)

"Monday morning you sure look fine. Friday I got travelin' on my mind. First you love me, and then you fade away. You know, I can't go on believin' this way..."

These words open my favorite Fleetwood Mac song. Now, Fleetwood Mac is not a band that has made the classic rock playlists in a huge way. A couple of Stevie Nciks songs, maybe, but in general they are not in much rotation. And this song, from their eponymous 1975 album, almost never gets airtime. I know some old-school Fleetwood Mac fans don't like anything released after, oh, 1970, but this album was fabulous, and the opening song was, and is, totally engaging, with a good, head-bopping stutter beat.

And since I am starting my playlist on a Monday, it kept coming back to mind. So, what's the song about? It's about being at the mercy of someone who is fickle. It's about how quickly a perspective can change. It's about trying to bob and weave with the whims of others - or even with those of a world - where you have no control. Um, HELLO!

When I listen to this song I do think of personal relationships, but I also think of what's happening around us in DC. I think about the 2,000 additional folks who will soon lose their jobs at AOL. This is on the heels of so much previous carnage, so many changes, that former executives are shaking their heads and wondering what the heck happened to the culture of AOL. Well, that's an easy answer. Time Warner happened to AOL, at the request of AOL's founders and former leaders. What were they really expecting?

I also look at my alma mater, FannieMae. Don't get me wrong - I had a great ride at FannieMae, worked with some of the smartest, most talented and committed people I know. But in my day there, lots and lots of people were "lifers." Not so any more. Last week I had lunch with a friend and former colleague who had been informed the day before that after 20 years (she started right out of college), that her job had been "eliminated." And while I feel for her, and anyone else who gets that news, I have to scream out loud - "ARE YOU REALLY SURPRISED?" I mean, the company has been bleeding people, talent and, unfortunately, its mission, for a couple of years now.

So what? Many of my friends probably think that, given my somewhat liberal bent, I would be railing against these companies. Or against a lover changing his/her mind. Actually, not so. Karma is real, and those who have taken the more "evil" path will have their moment to atone. But getting dragged down into either side of these "he said, she said" arguments is just wasted energy. Or to quote Yao-Man, from last season's Survivor, "Love many, trust few, harm none."

I guess the point is this - at the end of the day, you have to own your life, assume nothing is a given, and be confident in your path.

"Got to get some peace in my mind."

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Trying Again, This Time with a Theme

My last post in my now defunct old blog was entitled, "I don't get blogging." And to some degree I continue to feel that way. On one level the notion that anybody besides my mom really cares, much less would read, what I write about online seems the ultimate in self aggrandizement and narcissism. On the other hand, it is kinda fun to read other peoples' blogs when they are well written, have a unique angle or I learn something by reading them. And then there was the issue of my attention span - what would keep me interested enough to post regularly?

And on a flight home to DC from LA on Friday it hit me. Music. If there is anything that has consistently kept my interest for my conscious life it has been music. From singing in Oliver in 2nd grade, to pretending to be Laurie Partridge, playing organ on the back of my parents' couch, to locking the door and blasting Led Zeppelin, writing out the words to the Allman Brothers for my brother Chuck (all before the age of 18) listening to Pandora at work at GlobalGiving to making playlists for my Women's Foundation friends out of the 4,586 songs I currently have on my iPod. Music has been a constant, and joyful part of my life. Every day.

What struck me on that plane Friday? Why write? Why music? One reason was that Friday I had the total pleasure of meeting a woman who is a legend in American music - Carole Bayer Sager. When I was a teenager, her songs were the soundtrack to many of my days and nights - I must've listened to "Midnight Blue," sung by Melissa Manchester, about 200 times. And recently she was introduced to GlobalGiving and thinks what we are doing is great. So one of my colleagues and I visited with her over lunch at her home in LA. And over lunch among her platinum records, her guitars signed by Dylan, Springsteen and Sting, and her studio, I felt energized, alive, fired up.

And on the plane flying back, listening to a mix of music that spans my eclectic tastes, I decided that I could actually find something that would keep my attention - and maybe provide that frame for some musings that would be worth writing down. Who cares who reads them (other than mom), if it's a chance for me to think about, and reflect on, my favorite music.

Tomorrow, the first song in the playlist