Sam F. Lucchese, Savior of My Bloodline

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Sam F. Lucchese, Savior of My Bloodline

From Solitude & Good Company

My writing gene comes from Sam. As I’ve nurtured it this last decade, communing with the DNA he bequeathed me via my mother, I have connected to a man I never felt close to in life. Most significant, I’ve realized how that writing gene altered the course of my family for the better, pivoting the line away from darkness. I feel that significance, and I am so proud. My grandfather was a quiet, unassuming hero, the savior of my bloodline. Read more HERE

 

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Children Remind Me of Rock Stars

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Children Remind Me of Rock Stars

From the Good Men Project

When we moved to the Catskills after 9/11, we enrolled Jack in a hippie preschool, the School of the New Moon. As Fate would have it, at that precise moment, the school needed an assistant. With my son heading to school, I needed a job. Somewhat desperate, the School of the New Moon hired me. I stayed four years. I had no degree or formal training, but it turned out I was really good with kids. Not just my own son, but with kids in general. How? Why? Read more HERE

 

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Prince, Todd, RuPaul, & Me

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Prince, Todd, RuPaul, & Me

From the Weeklings

Prince and I did not get off, so to speak, on the good foot. While he would ultimately influence me – both personally and musically – as much as Bowie or the Beatles (my Trinity), his presence initially challenged the most important friendship of my life. Then, it cemented that friendship, and led to funk n’ roll adventures alongside a superstar-in-exile named RuPaul. My life radiated outward from there... Read more HERE

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My Audition for the Ramones

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My Audition for the Ramones

From The Weeklings

It’s 1989, I’m twenty-four, and word has spread fast that founding member Dee Dee has quit the Ramones to go solo. To the surprise of some, Johnny, Marky, and Joey are intent on replacing him, and the search is on. I cannot actually recall how I learn of the shake-up, but word-of-mouth in the pre-internet days is surprisingly efficient, especially among New York musicians, and especially if it’s a news flash like this. . .  Read Essay

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Confessions of a Crybaby

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Confessions of a Crybaby

From Salon

MY SON, JACK, was looking over my shoulder at my iTunes and saw a playlist I’d made, entitled “Tears.”

“’Tears?’” he asked.

I hesitated, wondering if I should say: these are just sad songs, you know me, I like the morbid stuff, or if I should tell him the truth. I decided on the latter.

“These are songs that make me cry,” I said.

Because he’s got my number, Jack did not ask, “Why the hell would you do that?” He just nodded sympathetically, hand on my shoulder, whirring wheels in his mind almost audible. Then he was off. . .       Read essay

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Southern Belles, Latchkey Kids & Thrift-Store Crossdressers

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Southern Belles, Latchkey Kids & Thrift-Store Crossdressers

From The Bitter Southerner

As a kid in the '70s, I was in several groups – the church choir, the Boy Scouts, the KISS Army. Still, I never felt like I had a tribe. In 1980, I finally found my people when my best friend, neighbor and schoolmate Todd Butler introduced me to "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" at the Silver Screen cinema in Atlanta’s Peachtree Battle Shopping Center. Todd was 16, I was 15. . . Read Essay

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50 Dorky Songs You Secretly Love

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50 Dorky Songs You Secretly Love

From Salon

No one is cool all the time, and amen to that. As a label or a style, “cool” can be limiting, even uncomfortable. Think tight waistbands, pointy-toed shoes, and a leather jacket worn in the heat. Dorky, by contrast, is freedom. Dorky is transgressive, requiring and inspiring courage. You, dear reader, know this secret truth. And no matter your level of cool, you occasionally surrender, with pleasure, to dorky. Prepare to do so again . . .               Read essay

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50 Rock & Roll Songs That Increased My Word Power

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50 Rock & Roll Songs That Increased My Word Power

From The Weeklings

ROCK AND ROLL SONGS have taught me a lot. And by “rock & roll,” I mean rock, folk, punk, funk, metal, prog, R & B, disco, rap, and pop. While peers, family, and work edified me in various ways outside of school, rock and roll songs, specifically, taught me the value of defiance, the efficacy of shock, etc. No surprises there. As the years trundle on, however, I realize something less obvious: rock and roll, an art form ostensibly focused on the less cerebral aspects of life, has actually enhanced my vocabulary. And I know I’m not alone. . .   Read essay

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My Interview with Stevie Nicks

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My Interview with Stevie Nicks

From vulture.com

In Spring of 2011, vulture.com assigned me a Stevie Nicks interview. To this day, she's the most famous person I've had a conversation with. I was really nervous prior to the interview, but not at all once we started chatting. I told her I worked with kids, trying to teach teenagers how to write songs, and she said she'd come and give a class. Her management quickly put the kibosh on that. Nevertheless, it was a thrill.   Read interview

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The Unpredictability of Grief (Or Why I Can't Let Go of My Bowie Bereavement)

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The Unpredictability of Grief (Or Why I Can't Let Go of My Bowie Bereavement)

From The Good Men Project

Turns out I’m not the only one surprised at both the intensity and the persistence of my grief over David Bowie’s death. For many of us, this is unlike any other loss of someone we do not know but love. His cultural impact is, at this writing, the most “think pieced” subject in internet history. But more touching is the outpouring of feeling from fans, the fitful attempts to express and explain this expansive sense of bereavement for someone we never spoke to. . .   Read essay

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Bigger Than Jesus: The Gospel According to U2, Leonard Cohen and Sufjan Stevens

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Bigger Than Jesus: The Gospel According to U2, Leonard Cohen and Sufjan Stevens

From The Weeklings

“You gotta hear this band…” my friend Todd said, waving a white LP cover. It was 1981, we were sixteen, and Todd was evangelical about new music. He was in a Goth-y phase: Siouxsie and the Banshees, Killing Joke, The Cure, Bauhaus, The Cramps, et al; LPs and singles played at full volume on his dad’s ancient hi fi. I liked these bands well enough, but I didn’t love any of them, much as I wanted to. As he put the record on the spindle, I braced for more gloomy fare. . . Read Essay

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Disco Saved Me from the Bible Belt

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Disco Saved Me from the Bible Belt

From Salon.com

Disco does not suck. At least, as a genre it doesn’t suck, any more than rock n’ roll sucks, or jazz, or hip hop. Certainly, some of it, subjectively speaking, is awful. (I submit: the exquisitely bad “Disco Duck.” But I also submit: Chuck Berry’s “My Ding-A-Ling.”) But to lambast the whole shebang indicates a kind of fear, which we mammals often express as hostility. I see it as fear of gay folks, people of color, sexually confident women, and fear of being ridiculed, i.e. rejected on the dance floor; all fears unfounded, but potent, sad fears nonetheless. . .  Read Essay

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Rock On: A Life (So Far) In Music

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Rock On: A Life (So Far) In Music

From The Weeklings

WHEN I WAS 14, I became a musician to get two things: revenge and girls. I did not seek to shape swirling emotions, or to express levels of experience so deep that mere language cannot access them. No. In time, I would stumble on aspects of music that make it what philosopher Immanuel Kant called “the quickening art,” i.e. the art by which a listener connects to the soul, but in the beginning, the only quickening I desired was of a carnal nature. . Read Essay

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In With the Out Crowd: Remembering My 80s Youth

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In With the Out Crowd: Remembering My 80s Youth

From Solitude & Good Company

Like most people recall their college years, I recall my time with queer folk, and I’m glad. While my friends were enrolling in BFA programs, I threw myself into the wind, traveling with hope, heading north with a bass and an amp, landing in Manhattan to couch surf in the winter of ’85. The folks who caught me, cut me a break or two, had my back, and directed me toward my various destinies, were what we would now call the LGBTQ community. I learned more essential, useful life lessons from them, usually in a bar thick with beer-and-cigarette stank, than I ever learned in any classroom. . .  Read essay

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R.E.M., Todd & Me

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R.E.M., Todd & Me

From The Rumpus

I’ve been wondering if R.E.M. purposefully scheduled their break-up announcement for autumn. I would not put it past them. Their deft use of symbolism was always one of their strong suits. Although they’d been discussing it for some time, they made it official as the natural world was dying gracefully around us. Leaves curl, darken and spiral down. The balmy air and long days of warm sunshine dissipate, shadows lengthen ever earlier, and R.E.M., a band most fans would place in the summer of their lives, is dead, going out as they came in 31 years ago: at one with the gods. . . Read Essay

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Take a Sad Song and Make it Better

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Take a Sad Song and Make it Better

From The Weeklings

I ran into the kitchen to find my mom reading her Time magazine and smoking a Carlton in our sunny breakfast nook. It was a hot, sticky Saturday, July 1976, bugs and lawn mowers humming outside, attic fan whirring above. . . Read Essay

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Paul McCartney, Fantasy Dad

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Paul McCartney, Fantasy Dad

From Paste Magazine

Paul McCartney is 69—the same age my divorced, troubled father would have been had he not drunk too much in a hotel bar in April 1972 and subsequently driven off I-85 and killed himself at the age of 31. I had just turned seven. Not long after that, Paul became my fantasy dad. I’d forgotten all about it until I saw him at Yankee Stadium, where I realized this fancy still flickers in a very deep part of me. . . Read Essay

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