The Comfort of Repetition & The Ultimate Christmas Playlist

I am not alone in saying that I always take comfort in the annual repetition of the holidays – revisiting holiday-themed music, film, television… and now internet posts as well. This feeling is in overdrive this year, as I occupy myself at home and skip other annual holiday traditions that involve leaving my apartment. The Rockefeller Center tree looks very nice on my television – and that view will have to suffice this year, thank you very much.

I feel bad for this year’s Rockefeller Center tree – sacrificed to become the most famous Christmas shrub in the world at a time when nobody is allowed to actually go near it. It’s the Just Sam of Christmas trees, which makes the displaced owl Ryan Seacrest.

I find it interesting that we immerse ourselves in certain pop culture favorites for exactly 6 weeks of the year and then pack them up in mothballs with the ornaments until next year. I mean, Bing Crosby, Brenda Lee and Johnny Mathis are rock stars from Thanksgiving through New Years. Are any of them on your 4th of July playlist? They aren’t on mine.

The film A Christmas Story has an even shorter (Elf on the) shelf life. We binge-watch the repeated broadcast for exactly 24 hours each year. I own it on Blu-ray and I’m not sure why: I have never opened it. To pop it in at any other time feels like a betrayal.

In keeping with this revisiting, blog posts of Christmas past are back to haunt you like A Christmas Carol, Mr. Scrooge:

This was my Canine Christmas Tail – a true story about my dog Sunshine and her appetite for tinsel.

Here is my take on the 1987 Motown Christmas Special – which featured few Motown acts.

Last year marked the 85th anniversary of March of The Wooden Soldiers – here are 10 things you may not know about the holiday classic.

Have you watched Christmas In Connecticut yet this year? How about that delivery woman?

Unfortunately, due to copyright issues all the links are broken on my 60 Degrees Girl Group Christmas piece. This also keeps me from posting other episodes of the radio show – hopefully only temporarily, as I find a work-around.

However… I have this to share:

Way back in 2002, when Limewire was a thing and people listened to music on silvery discs, I started creating Christmas CD mixes that I would mail out or give to people. These were received with a combination of feigned delight, veiled indifference and deafening silence. None of these CDs had a pressing of more than 20 copies. I’d like to call them “much sought after” – but no, that’s not really the case, although every once in a while, someone really got into them and would ask for copies of other volumes.

And so, I’m offering this simple playlist…. for kids from 1 to 92. Unfortunately many of the tracks on these dozen CDs are not on Spotify, but I keep adding songs that would be on the current CD volume… if there was one. And now the playlist is over 14 hours of holiday tunes. I recommend listening on shuffle – there’s something to irritate everyone. Enjoy!

A 60 Degrees Girl Group Christmas

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I have always loved Christmas music. I tend to listen to older music all year round, but when it comes to sharing music with the general public, this is the only time of year when Brenda Lee is considered cool. To combat the 60’s holiday tracks that are over-covered and overplayed, I am always searching for more obscure holiday recordings by girl groups and female vocalists that are not on radio or Spotify playlists.

60DegreesWhen I began hosting my internet radio show 60 Degrees back in 2008, it started an annual tradition of putting together a holiday program full of female 60’s singers and girl groups, interspersed with vintage commercials and sound clips from classic holiday movies and television shows. You can listen to the Halloween show here.

East Village Radio was a pirate radio station that went legit and switched to the internet, broadcasting from a storefront in New York’s Lower East Side. This first 60 Degrees holiday show debuted on December 22, 2008 and was repeated annually throughout the shows 5 year run. By 2012, the holiday programs had gained such a following that 60 Degrees was given an uninterrupted 16 hour marathon on Christmas Day.

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At the beginning of Part 2, I read a Christmas poem that I wrote about an incident from my childhood involving our tinsel-eating dog Sunshine, which has previously been posted here and also on The Good Men Project website. You can’t say I don’t recycle!

Other than my speedy vocal delivery (someone tell that guy to slow down) and some minor sound level issues, the show holds up pretty well. There are a few mis-statements that I wish I could fix:

  • I said that Maya Rudolph’s mother, the late great Minnie Riperton was not singing lead on The Gems tracks when she is.
  • I mis-pronounce the Meditation Singers as “The Mediation Singers” and would add that soul singer Laura Lee was a member of the group, having replaced Della Reese in the 1950’s.
  • Janice Orenstein sang There’s Always Tomorrow from the Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer soundtrack.

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Part 1 Flirtaitons

  1. Donde Esta Santa Claus – Toni Stante
  2. Gee Whiz, It’s Christmas  – Carla Thomas
  3. My Boyfriend’s Coming Home For Christmas  – Toni Wine
  4. Christmas Will Be Just Another Lonely Day – Brenda Lee
  5. White Christmas – Baby Washington
  6. Snowfall – Doris Day
  7. I Want A Boy For Christmas – The Del-Vetts
  8. You Better Be Good, World – Shirley Ellis
  9. Peace For Christmas  – Gigi Parker
  10. Christmas Calling  – Valerie Masters
  11. Christmas Time – Jan Bradley
  12. All I Want For Christmas Is You – Carla Thomas
  13. Christmas Is The Time To Be With Your Baby – The Orchids
  14. Christmas Time Is Here Again – The Flirtations
  15. O Holy Child – Dusty Springfield
  16. Sleigh Ride – Darlene Love wi/ The Brian Setzer Orchestra
  17. Deep in the Heart of Christmas Darlene Love wi/ The Brian Setzer Orchestra
  18. Christmastime For The Jews – Darlene Love
  19. Xmas (Baby Please Come Home) Live 2005 – Darlene Love

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Part 2: Suprems xmasbboard

  1. Wish You A Merry Christmas – Kim Weston
  2. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! – The Miracles (featuring Claudette Robinson)
  3. Oh Holy Night – The Supremes (featuring Florence Ballard)
  4. Won’t Be Long Before Christmas – The Supremes
  5. Blue Christmas – The Meditation Singers
  6. Blue Holiday – Aretha Franklin
  7. Love For Christmas  -The Gems
  8. Jing Jing A Ling – Honey & The Bees
  9. Silver Bells – Rachel Sweet
  10. Close Your Mouth (It’s Christmas) – The Free Design
  11. The Christmas Song – Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66
  12. I Don’t Intend to Spend Christmas Without You – Margo Guryan
  13. Happy New Year Baby – JoAnn Campbell
  14. Happy New Year Baby – The Sisters
  15. January First – Peggy March
  16. Happy New Year – Beverley
  17. Jingle Jingle Jingle – Burl Ives
  18. There’s Always Tomorrow – Janice Orenstein
  19. Auld Lang Syne – Honey & the Bees

I’ll be uploading other episodes of 60 Degrees in the future. I hope you enjoy them. Thanks for listening!Delvettes 45

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Sunshine and Tinsel: A Canine Christmas Tail

I wrote a story/poem back in 2006 recounting an incident with the family dog when I was 4 years old. I gave copies to my family in their Christmas stockings that year. A couple of years after that when I was hosting 60 Degrees on East Village radio, I read it as part of my Holiday episode. Now it has been posted on the GoodMenProject website for this holiday season. I hope you enjoy it!

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Pride Parade, 2011

I don’t focus much on poetry these days, but I did have a few pieces published in Vice Magazine back in the mid-90’s. That wasn’t the Vice Magazine of today, but a NYC free gay bar rag that tried to aspire to something more cultural than Next or HX by featuring poetry and art photography.

Tasteful nudes, of course.

There was even a centerfold.

I still have some of them stored somewhere.

But I digress: they published a few of my poems. One day I’ll post them.

This piece was originally written for a class at The Writer’s Studio in the Fall of 2011. I was frustrated with the assignment and with what I had come up with. I thought it was crap and made some disparaging remarks about it before choosing a classmate to read it aloud. And as the words hit the air, I started to realize that it was really moving. And important. And it was really effecting the others in the room. People got a little verklempt. And there was silence when it was over. And then a classmate spoke up and said, “I hate you. If that’s what you come up with when you’re not feeling the assignment. I really hate you.”

The lesson I learned: just as you should never apologize before an audition (regardless of any ailments or trauma in your life), do not discredit your own work before presenting it.

So here it is, posted without further comment…

(I did not take these pics, btw)

Gay Pride

Pride Parade, 2011

The parade of pride and fabulousity follows the purple stripe downtown –

guiding the way to gay ground zero: Christopher Street,

where it reaches its zenith, then dissipates into the side streets and alleys.

 

The air is electric – more than any celebration in recent memory.

The mood victorious as the decision was passed down late last night:

We can get married in New York today.

thank you cuomo

Mylar streamers and cardboard cutouts adorn the floats – trailers and pickup trucks

glittered up like drag queens for a day – back to work tomorrow, like the rest of us.

An explosion of g-strings and dykes on bikes and topless transgenders

and she was a he and that one I’m not sure – all making their way down 5th Avenue

to the anthemic disco beat of  I Was Born This Way.

 

On toes, I am balanced on a square inch of stoop at Barrow Street –

holding on to the railing, vying for a better view.

Next to me babies in rainbow bibs and bandanas

clap and giggle in the arms of their two mommies.

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Police line the barricades with bemused smiles of “tolerance” –

steps away from Stonewall, and the confrontation that started it all-

their opinions now suppressed and stored for a private audience at a later time.

 

A weary drag queen sits on the curb, shoes in hand, wilting in the summer heat.

From windows and rooftops, cheering crowds toast

with their brunch Bellinis and Bloody Marys.

On a 5th floor perch at the corner of Bleecker, a man with confetti blesses the crowd below.

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We walk this parade route, sharing sidewalks with ghosts, both living and dead:

There are no monuments to that lost generation of artists.

The survivors, no longer emaciated – saved by their cocktails.

These muscled torsos on spindly legs walk with the gait of wounded birds.

Their weary eyes and sunken cheeks tell the history more freely than their mouths.

 

We forget what it was like to be so scared.

 

Making our way down Christopher, herded like cattle to the street fair on Hudson.

Promotional tents for film and TV; samples of snacks and fruity drinks –

with acceptance comes the term “marketable demographic” as the former pariahs have

deep pockets and money to burn.

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Booths for dating services, pet care and enterprising wedding planners – a first!

A Wheel of Fortune carnival game: step right up and win some porn!

Stickers and posters advertise the Real Housewives of No Place Real.

Underwear-clad go-go boys flirt as they pass out condoms and lube.

 

Young lovers embrace – that overwhelming first love. Out in the open for all to see.

Too young to have known the fear, the loss, the magnitude of the shame.

Celebrating side by side with those old enough to remember

when the bullied and beaten didn’t ask why, and didn’t tell.

They took what was given – they were told they deserved it.

With words and in silence in one hundred different ways.

after

 

Now we know better.

And the world is not perfect on this day,

but we are closer now than we have ever been before.

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