Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Out and About – Winter-Spring 2013

Above and left: Minnesotans United for All Families' Freedom to Marry Day rally at the State Capitol – February 14, 2013. That's the Catholics for Marriage Equality MN banner suspended from the highest balcony!

For more images and commentary, click here.

Above: On Saturday, March 2, 2013, while driving on I-94E from Minneapolis to St. Paul, I was involved in an accident. A young man driving two lanes over hit a patch of black ice, lost control, and T-boned my car, a 2000 Pontiac Bonneville. My vehicle spun around 180 degrees and ended up facing oncoming traffic. Thankfully, this all took place near where Hwy 280 merges into 94, and so I was able to drive off onto the wide medium strip where I called 911. Two other accidents took place at that same spot in the course of 30 minutes. Later, I was able to drive home, though both driver side doors were inoperable.

Heeding the advice of friends, I saw a doctor the following Monday. After I described the accident to him, he told me he was amazed that I hadn't experience whiplash, and said I must be a very relaxed driver! The extent of my injuries was some deep bruising on my upper left arm, the result of the side air bag being deployed at the moment of impact. I waited for about a week to find out if the other driver's insurance company was willing to pay the cost of repairing my car (approx. $3500) or declare it totaled. I was really hoping for the former as I discovered that I was quite attached to this car!

On Thursday, March 14, 2012, my friends Brian and Rick accompanied me to Lehmanns Auto in Minneapolis to collect the last of my belongings from my car. With its frame compromised, my car had been declared totaled by the other driver's insurance company. I agreed to the $3,675 settlement amount they offered. They now owned the car.

This meant, of course, that I now needed to start looking for a new car – an undertaking about which I wasn't particularly enthused.

Above: Roman Catholic Womanpriest Monique Venne addresses the media at the March 12 "People's Conclave" outside the chancery offices of the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis.

Organizers of the event noted that:

We gather on the occasion of the Papal Conclave and prayerfully ask the servant leadership of our Church: Where are the women? Where is the laity? Where are LGBT folks? Where are the poor? Where are the survivors of clergy sex abuse? Where is the Holy Spirit?

Left: With Democratic State Representative Karen Clark – Minnesota State Capitol, St. Paul, March 12, 2013.

It was a big day at the Minnesota State Capitol on Tuesday, March 12, 2013, one that saw marriage equality legislation passed by both the Minnesota Senate Judiciary Committee (by 5-3) and the Minnesota House Civil Law Committee (by 10-7). A full House and Senate vote on this legislation is now expected sometime very soon. As executive coordinator of Catholics for Marriage Equality MN, I was honored to offer testimony in support of the House version of the bill during the House Civil Law Committee hearing of March 12.

For more images and commentary on this historic day, click here.

Above, right and below: Celebrating St. Patrick's Day at my good friend Brigid's annual St. Patrick's Day party.

Right: With friends Lisa and Brent

Above: My young friends Milo (right) and Maya, with whom I saw the movie Oz the Great and Powerful (in 3D!) at the Mall of America in mid-March. It's a movie I very much enjoyed and one that I highly recommend.

Sr. Rose Pacatte of the National Catholic Reporter liked it too, noting in her March 12 review that:

The topic of what it means to be a person of character, to choose others before self, to do the right thing when no one is looking is the central premise of the film. . . . Family is another plot thread that weaves through the narrative, from the broken family through outside forces to those flaws and choices that can damage a family from the inside. Families can heal and be healed when goodness and hope, shown through the actions of caring people, prevail in a society. Community and nonviolence as a theme grows naturally from [the film's] narrative and with the absence of direct violence, though the threat of it lurks. There is peril and darkness, but the "pro-social" group devises creative ways to meet the challenges they face through nonviolence.

Above and right: Taurus Rising! Standing next to my new car – a cranberry-colored 2002 Ford Taurus.

I take this opportunity to extend a big thank you to everyone who made my experience of finding a new car such a relatively hassle-free one! I especially want to thank Marie and Chris for their help in locating the car I eventually bought; Beth and Cory for the loan of a vehicle as I looked for my new car; Noelle and Tom for all their helpful advice; and William and Steve and my parents Gordon and Margaret Bayly for their thoughtful and generous support!

Above: Friends Curtis, Liana, Eddie and Fred – March 2013.

Left: With my good friend Noelle – March 2013.

Above: Friends(from left) Val, Noelle, Mike, Carmen and Mark – March 2013.

Right: A lovely photo of my friends Mike and Kim.

Above: Eddie getting some shut-eye.

Above: On Saturday, April 6, 2013, Michael Crosby, ofm spoke at Call To Action Minnesota's Annual Conference. His topic was "Arising from the Ashes: Birth of a New Community."

Right: Fr. Mike Tegeder, who received a special award at the Call to Action conference for his social justice work.

Above: Spring snow in Minnesota! For more images, click here.

Above: With my friend and housemate Tim – Saturday, April 20, 2013.

We're dressed up for the special gathering we hosted that celebrated the 74th anniversary of the birth of the late, great British pop/soul singer Dusty Springfield (1939-1999). A number of guests were, like us, dressed in the fashions of the 1960s and 1970s – the decades of Dusty's heyday! It was a fun night.

Above left: With my friend Kathleen.

Above: With my friends Brent and Lisa – April 20, 2013.

Right: With my dear friend Joan.

I should say that the jacket I'm wearing is Iranian and was lent to me by a friend. I have it on good authority that it was owned and worn by an actual hippie of the late '60s-early '70s!

Above: My friends Joey and Kathleen – Sunday, April 21, 2013. Regular readers of The Wild Reed would know that over the years Kathleen, Joey and I have traveled together to a number of destinations, including Kansas City, Wisconsin, St Louis, and Trempealeau Mountain. In June we're heading out to the Black Hills of southwestern South Dakota.

Left: Relaxing by Minnehaha Creek – Saturday, April 27, 2013. I was out and about with my friend Tim, celebrating the end of the very long winter we experienced here in the Twin Cities. For more images, click here.

Above: With my friends Tim and Joan – Saturday, April 27, 2013.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
The End of a Very Long Winter
Spring Snow
A Winter Walk Along Minnehaha Creek
Threshold Musings
Out and About – December 2012
Out and About – Autumn 2012
Out and About – Summer 2012
Out and About - Spring 2012 (Part 1)
Out and About – Spring 2012 (Part 2)
Out and About – Spring 2012 (Part 3)
Out and About – Winter 2012

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The End of a Very Long Winter

This weekend has seen the banishment of the very long winter we've experienced here in Minnesota. Everywhere one looks people are out in shorts and t-shirts, biking and walking, and generally making the most of the arrival of spring. It was a very different picture just a week ago, as the following images show.

Above and below: On the evening of Monday, April 22, we had what would prove to be the last snowfall of our extended winter. It was heavy, sticky snow – the type that clings so effortlessly and beautifully to the trees.

On my way to work the next morning I paused along Minnehaha Creek and took a number of pictures. As the day progressed it got to be quite warm so that all day long there was a constant sploshing sound as globs of snow fell from the trees. If you were out walking or driving under overarching trees, you were bound to get hit! By the evening there was no snow left on any of the trees.

Above: Minnehaha Creek, Minneapolis – Saturday, April 27, 2013.

Yesterday I walked with my friend and housemate Tim along Minnehaha Creek to Turtle Bread Cafe and Bakery, located on Chicago Ave. in south Minneapolis. Here we sat outside in the sun reading and enjoying our refreshments which, in my case, included a good cup of coffee!

Walking back home along the creek we paused and took a number of photos, including the ones below.

Standing beside Minnehaha Creek and holding the book I'm currently reading, or rather re-reading – Ross Poldark: A Novel of Cornwall, 1783–1787 by Winston Graham.

To read Kate Sherwood's review of this novel, the first in Graham's 12-book Poldark series, click here.

Above: Tim, standing by a stretch of Minnehaha Creek not far from our home in south Minneapolis.

As I've noted previously, Minnehaha Creek is a tributary of the Mississippi River. It starts at Gray's Bay at Lake Minnetonka and winds 22 miles through the cities of Minnetonka, Hopkins, St Louis Park, Edina and Minneapolis before flowing into the Mississippi just beyond Minnehaha Falls.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Photo of the Day – April 22, 2013
Spring Snow
Shadows and Light
A Winter Walk Along Minnehaha Creek (March 2013)
Winter Storm (December 2012)
An Autumn Walk Along Minnehaha Creek (October 2012)
A Springtime Walk Along Minnehaha Creek (March 2012)
Waiting in Repose for Spring's Awakening Kiss
A Springtime Prayer

Images: Michael J. Bayly.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Chrissy Amphlett, 1959-2013

For 'music night' this evening at The Wild Reed I celebrate the life and music of Australian rocker Chrissy Amphlett, who died this past Monday, aged 53, after a long struggle with both multiple sclerosis and breast cancer. My previous post, Divinyls' Chrissy Amphlett: She'll "Deal With It", is currently The Wild Reed's most popular post.

Following, with added images and links, is an article by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Monique Ross on the death of Chrissy Amphlett.

Australian rock legend Chrissy Amphlett, best known as the singer of the Divinyls, has died in New York aged 53. The charismatic frontwoman was surrounded by family and friends at her home when she died on Monday morning.

Her husband of 14 years, former Divinyls drummer Charley Drayton, says Amphlett died of breast cancer and multiple sclerosis. In a statement released by ARIA, he added she had fought the diseases with "exceptional bravery and dignity".

"Chrissy's light burns so very brightly. Hers was a life of passion and creativity; she always lived it to the fullest," the statement said. "With her force of character and vocal strength she paved the way for strong, sexy, outspoken women."

Christine Joy Amphlett was born in Geelong, Victoria, in 1959. She gained fans for her energetic performances, complete with a signature outfit of a school uniform and fishnet stockings.

Amphlett revealed her fight against multiple sclerosis in 2007 and in 2010 announced she had breast cancer. In March this year she shared an insight into her health troubles via her official Facebook page.

"Unfortunately the last 18 months have been a real challenge for me having breast cancer and MS and all the new places that will take you," she wrote. "You become sadly a patient in a world of waiting rooms, waiting sometimes hours for a result or an appointment.

"You spend a lot time in cold machines... hospital beds, on your knees praying for miracles, operating rooms, tests after tests, looking at healthy people skip down the street like you once did and you took it all for granted and now wish you could do that.

"I have not stopped singing throughout all this in my dreams and to be once again performing and doing what I love to do."

Amphlett formed the Divinyls with Jeremy Paul after meeting guitarist Mark McEntee at the Sydney Opera House in the early 1980s.

"She was courageous, she was original, she was a great poet. She had an incredible voice that was instantly recognisable, and she was, underneath all that, delicate," McEntee said.

Despite an ever-changing line-up, the band released six albums between 1982 and 1996. The 1991 single "I Touch Myself" marked the group's highest point. The song reached number one on Australian charts and also found success in the US and UK.

"Everybody has always seen it in one way, but I see the beauty of this song," Amphlett said of the song while speaking to Enough Rope host Andrew Denton in 2006. "It's about both of those sides, our higher self and our lower self and our sexuality and everything."

Drayton says Amphlett hoped the song would also inspire women to a more serious task.

"Chrissy expressed hope that her worldwide hit "I Touch Myself" would remind women to perform annual breast examinations," he said in a statement. "Chrissy was a true pioneer and a treasure to all whose lives her music and spirit touched." . . .

To read Monique Ross' article in its entirety, click here.

When I was in my late teens and early twenties in Australia, the Divinyls' What a Life! (1985) was one of my favorite albums. Its opening track, "Pleasure and Pain" is an Australian rock classic! It's also the title of Amphlett's 2005 autobiography. Here's the music video for "Pleasure and Pain" . . .

. . . Sooner or later, I'll find my place,
Find my body, better fix my face.
Please don't ask me how I've been getting off.
No, please don't ask me how I've been getting off.

It's a fine line between pleasure and pain,
You've done it once, you can do it again.
Whatever you done don't try to explain,
It's a fine, fine line between pleasure and pain,
It's all the same . . .

Another great track from What a Life! is "Old Radios," which, for some strange reason, never made it to the U.S. version of the album! You can hear it, however, by clicking here.

I conclude this special post by sharing Chloe Angyal's insightful tribute to Chrissy Amphlett, one that focuses on the cultural significance of her "pleasure anthem," the 1991 hit "I Touch Myself."


Chrissy Amphlett's Pleasure Anthem

By Chloe Angyal

The Nation
April 22, 2013

Decades before Britney Spears danced through the hallways of a high school in a little plaid skirt, Chrissy Amphlett was making a scene on stage in a school uniform and fishnet stockings. Long before Rihanna sang about the appeals of S&M, Amphlett was crooning about the fine line between pleasure and pain, asking us to please not ask her how she’s been getting off. And years before rappers like Missy Elliott and Nicki Minaj were rhyming about taking their sexual pleasure into their own hands, Amphlett was serenading the object of her affection with “when I think about you, I touch myself.”

Amphlett, the lead singer of Divinyls, one of Australia’s best-loved rock bands, died in New York City yesterday after a long battle with cancer and multiple sclerosis. She was 53.

Growing up in Australia in the 1990s, I heard a lot of Divinyls music, most of it in the car. My parents had raised us – my sister and me – on classical music and Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, and didn’t expose us to much pop music (though my mother did teach me the names of the fifty United States with the aid of “California Girls”). When I was 6 or 7, though, they hired a new nanny, one who had very different tastes in music. She listened to rock, and so whenever she and my sister and I were in the car, the radio was tuned to Sydney’s rock station. New names entered my vocabulary: Bon Jovi, Cold Chisel, Screaming Jets, Midnight Oil, AC/DC, INXS. I wasn’t terribly good at distinguishing these bands – they all sounded the same to my young and uninitiated ears, and I took to simply asking, “Is this Cold Chisel?” every time a song came on, much to my sister’s irritation. But I never had any trouble identifying Divinyls, partly because Amphlett’s was one of the few women’s voices you could hear on rock radio in the mid-nineties.

Two decades after Divinyls made it big (in 1991, “I Touch Myself” went to No. 1 in Australia, No. 4 in the US, and No. 10 in the UK), there are more women’s voices to be found in mainstream rock, though not as many as I’d like. And in part because singers like Rihanna and Spears, as well as Janet Jackson and Pink, have recently penned and performed songs about masturbation, it’s easy to forget how shocking those lyrics were when the song was released. But in 1991, it was still remarkable for a woman to talk openly about masturbation, let alone sing about it loudly and proudly with the full backing of a band to boot. By the early 1990s, the second wave of feminism had well and truly crested, and the backlash against it was in full swing. It was one thing to be a woman in a man’s game, but for that woman to stand on stage and enumerate her various sexual fantasies, well, that was still revolutionary.

Later in her life, Amphlett expressed the wish that “I Touch Myself” serve as a reminder to women that they should get annual breast exams, so that they might catch breast cancer early. And so it should, but of course, those exams don’t involve touching yourself. As we contemplate Amphlett’s legacy, we should also remember the power of women’s pleasure – and consider the sobering fact that it is still shocking to hear a woman talk, or sing, about masturbation.

Related Off-site Links:
Chrissy Amphlett: Remembering Australia's First Lady of Rock – Joanna Holcombe (The Hype, April 22, 2013).
Divinyls Singer Christina Amphlett Dies at Age 53 – Lyndsey Parker (Yahoo! News, April 22, 2013).
R.I.P Divinyls Singer Chrissy Amphlett – Laura Snapes (Pitchfork, April 22, 2013).
Divinyls' Chrissy Amphlett Paved the Way for Women in Rock Says Baby Animals Singer Suze DeMarchi – Cameron Adams (Herald Sun, April 25, 2013).
Friends Pay Tribute to Chrissy AmphlettABC Radio (April 23, 2013).

See also the previous Wild Reed post:
Divinyls' Chrissy Amphlett: She'll "Deal With It"

Opening image: Tracey Nearmy (AAP).