Here’s to Life! A celebration of the 70th anniversary of Merlin’s birth.

 

On this the eve of the July 21, 2017, 70th anniversary of Merlin’s birth, I am still over the moon and greatly inspired for having travelled to London, England, Paris and Versailles France and Amsterdam, the Netherlands in June.  I wanted to take in the pomp and pageantry of trooping the colour, revisit the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, the British Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, Tate Britain, Tate Modern… and did!  I really loved my visit to the new wing of the Tate Modern and the beautiful panoramic views that it affords of the north bank across River Thames.

Staying in the beautiful SW10, I had a great place to stay and had a marvellous time.  Great it was to revisit Westminster Abbey, feeling the sense of history and the grandeur of the abbey.  Every moment of being in London was sheer magic.  This city, more than any other, readily evokes a sense of home –- somehow, in its magical agedness, there vibrationally is something perfectly harmonised about London with aspects of the West Indies into which I chose to reincarnate and where my sense of ‘home’ is grounded.

The LGBT exhibition at Tate Britain was a bit underwhelming; however, I enjoyed being exposed to the many female artists and their Lesbian-themed art, which heretofore I was not cognisant of.  Naturally, the male perspective has always been prominent in homoerotic art.  Without doubt, the best exhibition was at the Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace and the Crown’s exhibition of aspects of the Canaletto collection.  Naturally, I did have to return to the National Gallery to take in my favourite Sir Anthony van Dycks in their collection; among them, that ode to sage essence grandeur, King Charles I’s Equestrian Portrait of Charles I.  The Rotunda at Ranelagh remains my favourite and most moving Canaletto; of course, it did prominently feature at the end of a flying dream, during early pubescence, that had me dreamquest to a past life in London, England.

That past-life was shared with Merlin when we were musicians at court in late 18th century London.  During that lifetime, we knew 1st Duke of Brontë, Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson.  Apparently, Viscount Nelson was a great raconteur and it was likely his tales of his love of Nevis which proved the seed that eventually led to my choice at the level of soul to have reincarnated into Nevis –- which incidentally Canadians are wont to mispronounce as Knévis…  Sorry, the third world natives are not wrong; besides no one in London would ever think to say, Knévis.  The correct pronunciation is Kneevis… Knévis is no more correct than is Kanarda the correct pronunciation of Canada.  Enough about the risible ignorance of elitist petit bourgeois Canadians and their need to forever condescend.

So, there was I arrived in London with umbrella, pea coat, raincoat and it was all hotter-than-hell climes for the two weeks!  After trooping the colour, I decided to escape the heat of London and decamp à Paris… what was I thinking; goodness, it was at least 5 degrees hotter there!  Alas, Paris has become an armed camp -– I suppose this is what Paris during the Nazi occupation in WWII was like.  Either way, I could not wait to hightail it out of there.  Firstly, though, I had to head off to Versailles where previously I had not been.  Goodness, what grandeur -– the scales are truly phenomenal.  If I had ever had a dream set on the grounds of Versailles, it is highly likely that I would have awakened and assumed that I had just dreamquested to a marvellous world where the architectural scales surpass anything witnessed here on Earth.

In all that heat, I was told it was just a stroll away from the entry gates of Versailles to Grand Trianon to take in the Pierre Le Grand exhibition celebrating the 300th anniversary of Peter the Great’s trip to Paris.  Finally, after 50 minutes in my brand-new Crockett & Jones wellingtons, I arrived to what was not an especially impressive show.  However, the last piece — a beautiful bust of the Tsar — made my sweaty and blistered foot ordeal worthwhile.

After having been quite underwhelmed by Paris –- save of course my visit to Père Lachaise cemetery where I left pine cone tributes to Marcel Proust, Chopin, Oscar Wilde and Honoré de Balzac –- it was off to Amsterdam.  Finally, I had escaped hellish climes!  Amsterdam proved the most gloriously idyllic experience.  With a cool welcome breeze off the North Sea, the temps were in the low 20s and, of course, everywhere just about everyone rode a bike.  As I made the pilgrimage to the Rijksmuseum to be richly inspired, I was warmed as passing cyclists called out to me in my white panama hat that I purchased at Chateau de Versailles to beat the heat, “Hello!”  “Hi there!”  “Hi ya!”  This excursion to Amsterdam was truly soul-warming.  Nothing was more glorious than entering that salon and seeing Night Watch and the Meager Company.

Whilst browsing, I thought of George Hawken and wondered if ever he had made it to Amsterdam.  Just like that, on coming around the corner, the first painting I noticed in the salon which contains Jan Vermeer’s The Milkmaid, was an exquisite, stunning still-life of white asparagus.  The one legume that George considered the perfect signature to a fine meal -– cooked by himself -– was asparagus.  His most memorable meals ever featured asparagus coated in the most sublime sauces made from scratch.  I was truly warmed on seeing the still-life seconds after nostalgically thinking of him.  Yet another moment of synchronicity.

On preparing for the video to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Merlin’s birth, I decided last week to head off the costumer, Malabar on McCaul Street where George lived in the late 80s to early 90s.  Inspired by the first dream of Merlin had 39 years ago in July 1978, I decided to get a cowl as a tribute to the cowl Merlin wore in the inaugural dream encounter with him, four years before having met on Friday, October 1, 1982 in New York City.  So, there was I at Mount Pleasant Cemetery last Saturday, July 15, 2017 in my cowl and the panama hat purchased at Versailles to escape the heat.  I thought it fitting as Merlin always loved wearing panama hats.

My trusty friend, J.J. who happens to be an artisan entity mate whom I have known in 20 past lives –- which is a high incidence of contact -– was the director.  Initially, I had hoped to throw a white party on the lawn to the southwest of the chapel at Mount Pleasant Cemetery and have a drone film the event where a gathering of friends would raise a glass to Merlin on the anniversary of his ennobled birth.  Merlin always threw a white party each year for his birthday at his parents stunning backyard in north Toronto’s Servington Crescent.

The plan was not approved by the cemetery and thus, one had to improvise.  I got my panama hat and my cowl and together, we proceeded with a dozen long-stem white roses to visit Merlin’s resting place.  I had a pretty good idea what I was after.  With the matching white cowl, I wanted to evoke the magic of meeting Merlin in that initial dream which is shared in volume one of the dream memoirs which is already published: Merlin and Arvin: A Shamanic Dream Odyssey.

Get your copy!  Thanks as ever for your support!

In the hardcover edition of human civilisation’s first dream memoirs, the initial dream encounter with Merlin is shared.  The dream begins on page 110 in the hardcover edition.  I wanted the same sense of wonderment and magic that I felt for having met Merlin in that first dream four years prior to having met reflected in the video.  In that dream, Merlin’s appearance was preceded by a white totemic creature which seemed, in its astral plane outréness, to be part Russian wolfhound, part alpaca, part dog.

So, moving to the lawn, having descended the steps of the chapel, I began walking across the open lawn towards the statuesque lion festooned mausoleum with the five remaining white long-stem white roses.  Seven roses, of course, were left at Merlin’s grave -– one rose for each of our seven glorious years together.  As I stepped onto the lawn, it seemed magical… timeless even.  Slowly, confidently as I approached the filmmaker at the other end of the lawn, I thought of Merlin and that initial dream.

Just then, I very distinctly thought of Merlin greeting me by purring, “Hello Lambs.”  As if right on cue, from off stage left, an adult deer came from behind the bushes and tombstones that line the far edges of the open lawn.  Never before had I seen a deer at Mount Pleasant Cemetery.  Indeed, the good burghers of Forest Hill who clearly regularly jogged in the park-like setting stopped and were overheard remarking that they had never seen a deer in the cemetery before.  All that I could do was tear up and continue walking as the deer then bolted and ran from stage left to right as I continued my stride uninterrupted –- unfazed by the appearance of an adult deer on the grounds of the cemetery.  What is more astounding, is that J.J. at the time was filming my walk; at the last minute, I decided against a run-through as I was concerned about the natural light possibly changing if we were to rehearse the shot.

Unbeknownst to me, the deer after having made it to stage right, then returned to the centre of the lawn and stood there perfectly still whilst observing my progression across the lawn.  J.J. who was astounded by the occurrence remarked that he had just witnessed a miracle.   There is no doubt in my mind as I tried to recapture the magic of that initial dream encounter that there was a subtle validation of that dream from the magical shaman himself on the other side by having had Merlin’s spirit step in as director emeritus and had the deer enter the shot as validation and a token of his appreciation of the love that we shared and my steadfast loyalty to him.  After crossing the lawn and turning to watch the deer stand there, looking down the lawn at me, I felt such utter peacefulness and abandonment of spirit — just as when alone and intimate in the dark with Merlin.

Yes, I believe in magic as did Merlin and as though an appreciation of having stridently done everything to fulfil his mandate to me, Merlin’s astral body conjure up the same magic here and now as he had in July 1978 –- four years before slipping inside a Hell’s Kitchen walk-up and readily winning me over with his sexy elfin charm, magic and sex that proved the most grounding shamanic passion… every time.

All the music chosen for this 13-minute video is music that Merlin loved whilst incarnate and to which he returned time and again -– whether at Joe Morton’s tiny Upper West Side apartment in autumn of 1983, Toronto’s 20 Amelia Street in tony Cabbagetown.  From Glenn Gould’s mastery of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Goldberg Variations, to Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight and Dionne Warwick singing That’s What Friends Are For –- in that segment of the video, I included friends whom Merlin valued: Kareem Benezra, myself, Wayne Robson and his oldest and most loyal friend, the ever-gracious, Maxime Gascoigne-de Montigny.

Of course, for Stevie Wonder’s Isn’t She Lovely, I exclusively included photos of Merlin and his very handsome and gracious father, David Ben-Daniel.  Whereas I favoured Sir Paul McCartney’s Hey Jude, Merlin ever loved George Harrison and especially My Sweet Lord.  Of course, one Saturday, whilst staying at actor, Joe Morton’s Manhattan apartment, when Merlin and I secretly committed to being together, we slow-danced to Supertramp and Roger Hodgson’s unmatched magical vocals on Supertramp’s Breakfast In America.

Additionally, Jeffrey Osborne’s On the Wings of Love which was one of Merlin’s favourite ballads is also included.  Merlin loved Black male soul singers: Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye, Jeffrey Osborne –- most especially –- George Benson, Al Green, Teddy Pendergrass, Donny Hathaway, Barry White.  Most of all, I am especially proud of the video that J.J. and I have created; I think that it masterfully captures the depth of my love and fealty to the most fabulously magical shaman encountered on this incarnation’s spiritual odyssey.

Naturally, before having left for Mount Pleasant Cemetery, I had flooded my apartment with the music that appears in the video.  Perhaps, unwittingly by so doing, I was evoking Merlin’s spirit which later joined us when he played ultimate director and pulled off the most magical bit of stage direction –- an adult deer in the middle of a cemetery in the heart of mid-town Toronto.  Lastly, I played the sublimely soulful Shirley Horn’s interpretation of, Here’s to Life!  Whilst raising a glass of coconut water, I had forgotten to pick up some champagne the evening prior and it was too early in the morning to find champagne anywhere –- the lighting was way too good.  Besides who knows if that magical deer would have been anywhere about.

Here’s to life… most of all, here’s to Merlin… here’s to dream shamans everywhere!

Merlin & Arvin 1987

Going forward, please know that this wordpress joint: http://www.dreampoetica.com is being synchronised with my author page: http://www.arvindabrgha.com  Everything that’s appeared here over the years, now can be found there.  In coming weeks, there will also be other links to other sites associated with this celebration of Merlin and his mandate to me:

“Please my darling, I want you to write about our lives together.  I promise you, however possible, I am going to send you dreams to include in the story of our love… our lives together.”

Of course, there is my Instagram account:  Instagram Arvin da Brgha

The YouTube channel is:  Arvin da Brgha YouTube

Do please be patient and stay tuned as there will be a site where one can purchase merchandise that’ll greatly assist with the costs of having overleaves channelled that will yet appear in the five volumes of human civilisation’s first dream memoirs to come.  Also, there will be a podcast link.

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For now, here’s to life, here’s to you and thanks so much for your ongoing support all these years!

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©2013-2020 Arvin da Brgha.  All Rights Reserved.  

Dolphin House Pets and Glimmers of El Greco’s Muse (Redux)

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On the cusp of the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Georgia O’Keeffe Exhibition opening this month, I am repost this blog.  Do please enjoy.  

Whilst the Moon transited both Libra and my fifth house, these next dreams occurred on October 1, 1989.  Too, it was the seventh anniversary of that magical, and a bit cool, Friday evening in Hell’s Kitchen when Merlin and I would meet… yet again. 

Of course, at the time, he was rather ill with full-blown AIDS and horribly suffering from Candida.  However, as I have known more than 200 persons to have passed of AIDS, Merlin’s AIDS-related illnesses were mild manifestations of what can eventualise with AIDS.  I have always been grateful for that. 

These dreams – one a touchstone dream with Olaf Gamst’s old-souled son as he was during a life when he was an assistant, muse and lover of El Greco’s, the other a dream set remotely in the past on this planet or possibly on another world where the indigenous folks were decidedly extra-human though Sol III human-looking enough – were welcome inspiration. 

Too, the dreams were dreamt during the second sleep cycle that day.  Back then, I took naps as often as I could afford.  Merlin fainted several times each day and the sheer gravity of what we moved through was exhausting at times.  As he would have it, no one knew that Merlin fainted multiple times daily. 

At the time of these dreams, I had taken to the pyramid to meditate with crystals and eventually ended up privately crying at the share stark finality of what imminently loomed on the horizon.  Thus, sleep was a welcome refocussing of my energies – if only briefly.  Of course, sleep and its elixir, dreams, ever kept me focussed, inspired and aware of the macroscopic. 

 

In this the first dream, I see Eleanor Bissell – my Canadian-History and English teacher at Harbord Collegiate Institute; she was doing some gardening in a blue dress that was floral-printed.  This garden had tall old trees in it.  There were hydrangea plants – large ones at that.

I went over and I greeted her and said, “Hello, Mrs. Bissell.”

I told her who I was and she had on her glasses and her breath was short.  She was just the same as when I knew her in the waking state.

 

This dream, the second, was set in another time and another place.  I was captured by this man in a castle-like dwelling.  A very Moorish setting, like in Spain, it was; it was not Moorish architecture like in Northern Africa but it was more so in southern Spain.  Perhaps, it was Andalusia or thereabouts.

It was brown stone which had been burnt by the Sun for years and years, tens of millennia, as a matter of fact.  I got captured and I was taken back into a room with a man; he was saying to me, “Of course you’re mine.  You’re 63%!”

This percentile was supposed to signify, if you like, being bad or evil.

He was describing things to me because he was the epitome of what one would consider evil.  I was saying, “No I’m not.”

I was saying that I didn’t want to be there and wanted to be let out.

The thing is, it was not me; rather, I was the son and he was a bronzed person; he was very swarthy but not Black.  I was his offspring; I was, in fact, his son.  Then some people came in and they were all there and I asked if I could get out with them.  They, however, said no that I couldn’t because they were alright.

They said that they were all 50% and that I was not.  I supposedly had to be 50% and therefore, as I was his son, I had to stay there with him.  I was really upset and somehow I managed to be stealthily taken away during the night, after the father left, by a woman.

She wore long flowing garb and she was again very Mediterranean or Middle Eastern-looking.  She had long limbs and café au lait complexion.  She told me how it all went that I was her son, by the same man, and that she was one of his many lovers.

However, he was never supposed to have a child by her; as a result, when she became pregnant because he so loved her, he broke with tradition and he had her put up in this particular part of the castle.

It was really fortified and very abandoned-looking but she held out there.  Nobody ever came to this part of the castle and it was very terraced and had a lot of inner walls in it.

The walls here were of a slight sandy colour and we were alone at nighttime.  As we were talking, there was battle going on behind us over in another part of the castle; the battle occurred in another part of the fortified town that supported the castle.

There were a lot of cries because there was battle going on.  You could hear a lot of horses neighing and cantering, as in the Crusades, if you like.  I don’t, however, recall having heard any gunfire.

She was telling me not to worry because he would never harm me.  Said she, I was quite well protected.  He did love me in spite of his cruelty and there was no way that he could hurt me because she was fiercely protective of me.

If he had done anything to me, she would be forced to expose him and he knew and feared that eventuality.  She told me to just go on outside and play.  So, I went out into the yard and it was a wonderful elaborate garden – very organic.

It had this pool and there inside were dolphins.  I went in to play with them.  It was a muddied pool but very large like a manmade lake.  They were playing with me as I frolicked in the water with them.

One of them had its fluke pressing down on my bum from above me.  Whilst sandwiched between them under the surface the other used it nose to push up against my breastbone and solar plexus; thus, they propelled me through the water at great exhilarating speeds.

It was a beautiful sense of motion because, of course, they travelled quite fast and they always stayed clear of going out too far.  There was a point at which they had jokingly made a fast turn and I hadn’t caught up.

So I went to stand up and it turned out that it was a very large pool and a rather deep, deep pool.  I panicked when I broke surface and they assisted me back to the shallow area.

When I came back indoors both the father and mother were there now – the swarthy humans, that is.  I said to them that there was something here in the pool a big opening, you could feel it.

I also sensed it from the dolphins as being something in the pool that they themselves feared.  The father figure was laughing and told me not to worry about that because he knew, of course, what it was.  The mother had remained quite silent and looked at me, all the time, because she was slightly to his left and behind him as he spoke.

All three of us were next in a room in the castle and, somehow, the dolphins were here as well.  There was a break in the floor, a wide open hole, and they came up and were swimming and churning up the same muddied-looking dark water.

A man then entered who looked like and was, in fact, the American actor who starred in the film, Paris, Texas.  I think that the actor’s name is, Harry Dean Stanton, but I am not certain of that; he is a scrawny, hard-faced, thin-lipped man.

He came in and had a gun and said, “I want to get paid.  I’m doing work in this building and I’m not getting paid.  I’m tired of being held up here.  Deliver!  Or else I’m going to take you out and shoot you.”

It was an interesting-looking silver gun.  I was standing up on a cabinet and he went to shoot me but I knew that he wouldn’t shoot me.  He had, in fact, turned the pistol so that the two shots rang off to my right.

What surprisingly came out, when he fired the shots, was water; however, it had light in it.  It was like lasered water and it shot out in a large chunky jet and went almost instantaneously to the wall and crashed there.

He shot rounds of it and both parents remained absolutely icy cool; they paid him very little mind.  Later on, the mother telepathically told me not to worry because he couldn’t harm me; too, she telepathically shared that I was not to move and give in to fear.  I was not to show any signs of panic.

*This was clearly a civilisation which was set here on Earth long millennia before the current ape-central, fear-ruled madness we now know.  This was a time long ago in human history when there was contact between both humans and cetaceans.  Telepathy was de rigueur; too, psychic abilities were more evolved then.

Perhaps, this was an Atlantean society or some other civilisation which predated the Atlantean.  The persons were seemingly of Mediterranean extraction and it was, however, definitely not Egyptian.

I would guess that it was post-Egyptian – the latter having occurred easily more than 60 thousand years ago; although, Europeans in their racist elitism – never having had anything to rival pyramids in Europe – reworked the agedness of Egyptian civilisation to their ends.

**I am now left to believe that this was in some way an Extra-Human civilisation where the humans closely resembled Earthly humans.  They were, however, swarthier and were archly telepathic.

Too, their foreheads were also considerably higher and had a slight concave look at the top.  Dolphins, it seems, were kept as indoor pets – just as cats and dogs are for humans.  Hence, there was the watering hole, which led to a vast underground network, where the animals could come and go from the fortified castle to the ocean, however far off.  END.

 

Almost instantaneously, in this the third dream, I was in another scene; it was one in which I was playing and my companion was Lars Gamst.  We were drawing, in fact, we were painting.

Lars said to the same actor, Harry Dean Stanton, who was now with me in this new dream – both the parents, incidentally, were no longer about.  Lars wanted the actor to assist him by editing.

The guy misunderstood him and didn’t know what was what.  What Lars was doing was covering the painting with a black wax and, later, he was then going to strip it off.  So he needed the actor to go and get the chemicals and equipment to go and strip off the wax.

He was somewhat impatient that the guy was so stupid and didn’t understand; Lars had had to spell out what he wanted.  I was trying to explain to the guy what to do and what Lars meant, as well as, the process involved.

When he did go away to get the things, I came over and approached Lars and assisted him in the painting of the work that he was doing.

*A rather insightful dream this one and the energies with Lars were, as ever, pleasant and sublime.  I find this a rather telling dream too because, in later years, on having Lars’s Michael Overleaves charted, I would learn that not only is he an old soul – first level old slave and entity mate to his equally old-souled father (Olaf Gamst) and sixth cast artisan like myself but he was the favoured muse of Doménicos (El Greco) Theotokópoulos and his chief assistant.

Naturally, for Lars to be so immersed creatively in a painterly fashion – in the dreamtime – was truly about revisiting a skill and time in the past which brought him great fulfillment both spiritually and creatively.  This was so clearly an astral plane encounter between us.

Being in Lars’s presence was quite expansive; you could actually feel his soul being deeply creative.  So fully dilated were his pupils, Lars’s eyes were almost pure black.  He was terribly eccentric and clearly there was much bleed-through from his having been greatly inspired in that lifetime by El Greco.  He worked feverishly with great attack.

He quite appreciated the fact that I was not a dolt and could be of able assistance to him.  This was such an astral plane encounter that it was as real and connected as that time we rode the subway together and the connectedness we shared blew my mind.

Incidentally, in that sixteenth century lifetime, Lars was much younger than the great artist and they did have a passionate relationship.  I have a distinct impression that there was a bleed through of what Lars looked like, in that lifetime, as his features were not as they are now; he was more Latin and darker, strong-nosed.

It was an aquiline nose.  Too, he was robust-energied and had massive hands like those of a sculptor’s.  Terribly expressive and passionate, too, were his hands.  END.

 

I was on the phone whilst speaking with Owen Hawksmoor, in this the fourth dream, and I could see about his apartment as we spoke.  I was calling him because I wanted to get laid and I was really raunchy and stir-crazy but he was not up to it.  I start calling him on it and I told him, “Oh yeah, why don’t you get up and go to the bathroom?  And drop your teeth in the glass of water, on your way, before you come back?”

In a very sarcastic manner, I had laced into him to which he responded by being coolly dismissive of me by broadly laughing at my desperation.

Somehow, Pandora da Braga was part of this dream and she had an awareness of my play for Owen and my resultant rejection.

 

*Featured art:  Santiago el mayor by El Greco.  At the time of the dream, Lars appeared as he did in a past life; his was a strong aquiline nose in the dream.  This look features prominently in many of El Greco’s works.  In that past life, Lars was a favoured muse, assistant and lover of El Greco’s who was in a recent incarnation the sublime American artist, Georgia O’Keeffe. 

As Lars is a slave soul, the look of St. Francis and also the look of Christ carrying the cross are those of a slave soul; at least that’s my impression.  Since, Christ was a seventh level king soul on his last life, the El Greco Christ of the aquiline nose is decidedly not a king soul and more so a slave with priestly airs.  Perhaps, this is how Lars looked then. 

What I also love about this particular El Greco painting is that the green draping proves an evocative prelude of things to come, as it were, with regards Georgia O’Keeffe’s sublimely sexualised flower paintings. 

For that matter, I love how Georgia O’Keeffe’s sensual masterpiece, Jack in the pulpit No. IV is a reanimation of El Greco’s Christ on the cross which is in the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, Japan

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Art:  Santiago el Mayor

Oil on Canvas

97 x 77 cm

1610 El Greco

Provenance: Museo del Greco

Christ on the Cross

Oil on Canvas

95.5 x 61 cm

1600 El Greco

Provenance: National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, Japan

Jack in the Pulpit IV

Oil on Canvas

40 x 30 Inches

1930 Georgia O’Keeffe

Provenance: National Gallery of Art, Washington D. C.

Grey Lines with Black, Blue and Yellow

Oil on Canvas

48 x 30 Inches

© 1923 Georgia O’Keeffe

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© 2013-2020 Arvin da Brgha.  All Rights Reserved.

Happy 100th Birthday Billie Holiday!

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Billie Holiday.

07.04.191517.07.1959

God Bless The Child

Voice: Billie Holiday

Composition: Billie Holiday, Arthur Herzog Jr. c. 1939

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Fine and Mellow

Written: Billie Holiday c. 1939

Live TV recording 1957.

Voice: Billie Holiday

Piano: Mal Waldon

Double Bass: Milt Hinton

Guitar: Danny Barker

Tenor Saxophone: BenWebster & Lester Young & Coleman Hawkins

Baritone Saxophone: Gerry Mulligan

Trombone: Vic Dickenson

Trumpet: Doc Cheatham & Roy Eldridge

Drums: Osie Johnson

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Strange Fruit

Written: Abel Meeropol c. 1937

Composition: Billie Holiday c. 1939

Live TV Performance

Voice: Billie Holiday.

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Lover Man, Oh Where Can You Be.

Written: Jimmy Davis & Roger Ramirez & James Sherman c. 1941

Live performance 1958, Oakdale Music Theater, Wallingford, Connecticut.

Voice: Billie Holiday

Piano: Mal Waldron

Bass: Milt Hinton

Trumpet: Buck Clayton

Drums: Don Lamond

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One of my all-time favourite Billie Holiday tunes.  I first fell in love with it whilst working at the Underground Railroad Restaurant on King Street East just west of Sherbourne Street back in the late 1970s – all whilst finding time to run around the city taking ballet class and studying in high school then later at York University – when Salome Bey was doing her Cabaret show and her husband, Howard Matthews was part owner, along with Jazz drummer, Archie Alleyne.  There was an intense and wonderful Jazz education!

Too, there was that memorable Sunday Brunch in late 1982 at the actress, Patricia Neal’s grand Upper West Side apartment which Merlin took on a short-term sublet.  Frederick Jones and his Puerto Rican-born lover were there, along with a couple of dancer friends of mine and, of course, fellow dancer and friend of Merlin’s, Miguel Godreau.

Merlin the night we met, Friday, October 1, 1982, had excused himself from dinner at the Afro-Cuban restaurant, around from my West 49th Street apartment, on 9th Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen.  He had gone to make a phone call – ah yes, there was an age before the cellphone’s ubiquity – and cancelled getting together with Miguel.  They had been dating after Miguel had appeared in Ken Russell’s 1980 film, Altered States starring, William Hurt and who at that time was a member of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

Just in case, I had proven an utter bore, Merlin had made alternate plans; however, after I had passed most of dinner to the groovy music massaging his burgeoning lap across the deuce from me with my nimbly dexterous pointed feet, Miguel did not stand a chance.

Besides, one does not exactly say no to one’s task companion when first meeting on the physical plane… again, especially when it was planned.  In any event, after fruit-filled pancakes drowned in Canadian maple syrup, Merlin and I – who by then had had multiple ménage-à-trois with Miguel – blew each other soft kisses whilst he sat admiringly looking at Miguel and me slow dance to this truly haunting tune.

Merlin almost never danced; however, our pas de deux between the sheets has left Merlin an unsurpassed lover of magical skills.

Happy Birthday Billie Holiday and, wherever you are, may your current incarnation be a most blessed lucid dream.  You know, I really ought to do her overleaves…

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© 2013-2020 Arvin da Brgha.  All Rights Reserved.