That Time I Cried When a Celebrity Died

Sadly, I missed the opportunity to see Stevie Ray Vaughn perform live. Nevertheless, his indelible impression on my heart reduced me to tears  when, on this day in 1990, I heard the news of his tragic death.

At the time, I’d seen scant few snippets of performance footage, but spent hours upon hours listening to Soul to Soul and In Step at volumes that let the neighbors in on my musical preferences.  The mere idea that he could step in and tear up a stage with the likes of ZZ Top (Dallas’ Adolphus Hotel), as easily lay down tracks a la David Bowie’s  Let’s Dance, or hold his own at Carnegie Hall all the while remaining true to his rocking blues roots speaks volumes about his musical ability.

SRV guitar

To  have watched Stevie Ray Vaughn play his Fender Stratocaster guitar was to have witnessed a pure connection between talent and God.  I’ll say again that I never saw him play a live show, yet even today, watching a video of SRV performing  still raises the hair on the back of my neck as I bear witness to an ethereal wave of light that bridges Divinity, Vaughn, and his guitar.

Few are as blessed as he with such a gift and his only served to increase my faith in a higher power. Maybe that’s why I cried when this celebrity died—because his absence left a gap between me and the intangible.

May he always Rest in Peace.

 

 

Wild World

I strolled through the market
Glancing at random for treasure

A summer breeze lilted
Coaxed Hollywood style
By a shoulder high
Wind maker

Lost in knick knacks
Hand-crocheted doilies
Paperback books
Brick-a-brack
Old postcards and Coca Cola memorabilia
That beckoned me
To buy

The shop keeper placed
Tea for the Tillerman
On the turntable
With a click and spin
Wild World
Drifted in waves over shelves full
Of antique toys
Old license plates
And furniture that once
Held someone else’s junk

dock kids

And it’s breakin’ my heart you’re leavin’
Baby, I’m grievin’

Turned corners and wound through
Dream catchers and feather boas
Reflected from framed
Prints depicting long forgotten
Scenes in black and white

It’s hard to get by just upon a smile

Melancholy overwhelmed me
I remembered a love letter
Corny and romantic all at once

Plagiarized words
Designed to steal my heart
But it was already stolen

But just remember there’s a lot of bad and beware
Oh, baby, baby, it’s a wild world

*Italicized lyrics ~ Cat Stevens
©50Figment 2016 ~ Kimberly Kratz

In Vogue

All you need
Is your own imagination
So use it
That’s what it’s for

Go inside
For your
Finest inspiration
Your dreams
Will open the door

~Madonna

The leaning tower of Pisa fell over.

Well it could have.

In 1990, the same year as Madonna’s Vogue album hit the charts, the danger of the tower toppling became difficult to ignore. It tilted so much that local government closed it to the public until a suitable construction correction allowed it to reopen for visits 11 years later. Learning that makes me wonder what took them so long.

Okay, so the Tower of Pisa is notable, historically significant and all, and you’d hope that someone would be extremely cautious and meticulous, but it sure seems like one of those truck-stuck-under-the-overpass-so-the-kid-suggested-deflating-the-tires-kind of scenario…except in reverse. And if you’re really interested to know, they essentially shoved dirt under one side.

Probably one of the most forward-thinking sketch comedy television shows to ever debut, opened in 1990. I laughed myself silly watching In Living Color, a show that jump started the careers of a string of comedians and brought J.Lo to the public eye as one of the show’s Fly Girls.

Logo for In Living Color television series. Copyright 20th Century Fox Television.
Logo for In Living Color television series. Copyright 20th Century Fox Television.

They one an Emmy right out of the gate, and had their highest ratings when they broadcast the show live during half-time of Superbowl XXVI, urging football fans to change channels over to FOX during half-time, making good on their promise to provide an on-screen countdown clock to prevent anyone from missing a second of the game. Genius and hilarious.

Who could forget Fire Marshall Bill, Homey the Clown, or Handi-Man?

But with the PC police being who they are today, I’m not sure they could have gotten away today with the skits they did then. What made them so comical were that they made fun of everyone. The characters were true caricatures of real life.

Giving Glitter to your Enemies

Ever had one of those projects you started that in retrospect you determined was not fully thought out?

Reading a brief article in The Daily Dot about viral sensation ShipYourEnemiesGlitter.com, reminded me of an alcohol induced glitterization (<—- it could be in the dictionary) plan that my girlfriend and I came up with to attempt to get upgraded seats at an Eric Clapton concert. For the sake of her good name (I dragged her into this), I’ll call her Tilley.

As inseparable friends, Tilley and I spent lots of time together. We worked at the same place and spent most of our off time together. As I, a financially poor single mother in my early twenties looked to her for inspiration, she, a married mother of two in her mid thirties offered me stability and friendship. Her home was always open for me. I think she saw a youthful fearlessness in me and enjoyed my company. That and we made each other laugh—a lot.

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In the midst of our many conversations, it came to my attention that Tilley had never attended a rock concert. In the sixties, she said, her husband was off fighting in Vietnam while she focused on the home front. That left her with no time for frivolity. On the other hand, as an avid rock fan, I had been to as many shows as my disposable teenage income allowed. So when I heard that Eric Clapton’s Behind the Sun tour tickets would be on sale, I knew I’d scratch enough for a ticket despite my poverty. I suggested that Tilley and hubs Charlie go with me. Tilley immediately agreed.

I could never afford to purchase tickets for great seats and laid my hope for a ticket upgrade via a highly promoted local radio station contest.

The contest required creation of a banner that included the call letters of the station to hang up at the concert. Then, the owners of the best banner would get a ticket upgrade to the front row. Maybe there were VIP passes included for backstage. Had I won, I could tell you, but time has eroded my recollection on that point.

We faithfully stood in line at our local Ticketmaster on the day the tickets went on sale, and snagged whatever seats we could for the three of us which were somewhere in the second level. They weren’t nosebleed, but our hopes for an upgrade remained undaunted.

The weekend before the concert, while sipping strawberry daiquiris, we hatched a plan for our banner. We purchased a flat white sheet, laid it out on Tilley’s family room floor, and went to work re-creating the album cover, drawing out the massive letters. The stage lights, we reasoned should reflect from our replica so as to attract the attention of the contest promoters, and maybe even Clapton himself.

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Glitter, we decided, would be the best and least expensive approach and we needed LOTS of it; lots of Elmer’s glue and lots of glitter. Three or four trips to the store in the Yugo (don’t ask) for more glitter and glue, and about a dozen daiquiris later, we completed our project. For posterity, we hung it from Tilley’s deck and I took a picture of the finished product just before sunset. Then we folded up the banner and took it along to the April 29 concert. Security almost turned us away, but once we explained the innocuous nature of our quest, we entered the Philadelphia Spectrum with higher hopes.

We found the closest railing to our seats from which to hang our banner. Just to be certain the banner looked good from anywhere in the arena, I left Tilley and Charlie to stand guard with it and to remain on the lookout for radio station reps for a ticket upgrade while I hurried to the other side of the arena to check out the view. It looked so cool, and the glitter did exactly what we had hoped being reflective. A quick glance around had me convinced that no one would overlook ours as the best banner there that night.

Soon, the lights went down and the show started, so we took our seats. As expected, Clapton put on an impressive show, keeping the crowd wrapped in his presence and understanding why so many fans call him God. Charlie said I nearly blew out his eardrum screaming so loudly beside him when Clapton began playing Layla.

We never saw anyone get a ticket upgrade, saw no one from the radio station for that matter, and were left wondering whether they ever gave anyone those coveted tickets. In the end, however, we were convinced that Clapton saw our banner when the stage lights extended upwards, spiraling the crowd throughout an entire song as it was probably the only time he could likely see beyond the first few rows.

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After the concert, we worked our way back toward the railing so that we could retrieve the banner. Just as we approached it though, someone from the floor below jumped up and grabbed it, pulling it down in a shower of glitter and exiting with it as we helplessly watched. For a little while we were pissed off until we realized that we had little use for a full size bed sheet full of glitter. Maybe you never thought of someone who stole from you as an enemy, but a glitter-infused vehicle and apartment, we decided, was a more harsh sentence for a thief than one might naturally expect.

Our revenge was made all the sweeter when for nearly two years, when we’d lay down on the family room rug to chill, we’d find glitter, and every time Tilley vacuumed that floor, small bits of glitter would appear. Every time she smiled, and with every reminder of it, we laughed.