Reflections From an Evening with my Home Girl

by on January 30, 2011 · 18 comments

in Culture, From the Soul, San Diego

I don’t know if we’ve ever been able, in our society, to truly talk and listen to each other but, at this point in time, we seem to be at an all time low at doing so. I remember when I first really began to notice how divided we are in our social intercourse.

It was just a few years ago and l was in the mellowest of moods, in a groove, just kicking back with my wife and our kids, out at Humphrey’s by the Bay, a perfect place to be on such a balmy San Diego eve as that night was, listening to an old soul mate of mine (as we’re both progressive thinking people from Tucson), Linda Ronstadt, just pretty-fy, if you will, the evening air with music and song. I mean she was on.

Linda kicked off the set with “Straighten Up and Fly Right,” giving it just the right attitude, flashing me back to my childhood in the 40’s growing up in the Old Pueblo, escaping the summer sun with a glass of cold Kool Aid (red), listening to the Nat King Cole Trio sing that old jazz standard via my victrola – in the same hip upbeat way.

Then she slowly, with inimitable incredible ease, unleashed the ranges of her magnificent voice, those shattering highs and soothing lows and all the funky nuances of tone in between. Oh, her singing weakens my knees and I just gave into her artistry, moving my body with the beat, patting my thighs and tapping my feet, resisting singing out loud since everybody had paid mucho bucks for their seat. I was a man, in those moments, at peace with the world.

And then the most unsettling thing happened. Linda uttered a bit of praise for Michael Moore and in the next moment, without a hint of warning, before I could say “Amen,” a man yells at Linda like she was an umpire who had made a call that cost his team the World Series and him his life’s savings. This heckling dude literally startled me out of my chair. He told her: “Stop the political bullshit and just sing!” Then he and other jeering people fled the premises looking like mimes as “Desperado” drowned the sounds of their hideous hateful display. I thought: Has narrow mindedness overtaken the USA?

Now as for me, I showed up expecting Linda to make a comment about something going on in society. She always has. And she does it from the heart, softly, openly, thoughtfully, with love, in but a few breaths. And I know from experience that she was nurtured in love as she and I bonded before she was born, back when my grandfather would say something to me like: “Boy, take this money and go to Ronstadt’s Hardware and get me a bucket o’ six penny nails.” And I’d hustle because I knew an ice cream cone or some kind of goody was in the deal and that in my visit to the Ronstadt store I would never be subjected to that “What can I getcha, eightball?” kind of attitude that little black boys like me often had to put up with back then.

Ronstadt’s Hardware was so refreshing, one of the few places where I could fully relax, untaxed by my color, one of the places where I saw that good people come in all colors. And before I knew who Linda Ronstadt was she had already, on her family’s coattails, entered my heart and soul and, over the years, as a follower of her music and views, I’ve come to love and appreciate her unconditionally. So when they yelled at her that evening they might as well have been yelling at me because I, like Linda, want a better world, a world where in passing a singing icon could feel free to say, within a very short and snappy phrase: “This evening I’d just like to acknowledge and thank Michael Moore, a great American Patriot, for telling it like it is, showing us the truth” without people gasping for air and hyperventilating.

First of all I don’t understand the kind of hatred Michael has generated in some circles. I mean he might not be somebody’s cup of tea but he never fails to issue some news we can use. It amazes me that people who live in what we like to refer to as the Land of the Free, can so easily abuse such a liberty by, for lack of better words, just “hating on each other” – like we’re an episode on Jersey Shores or NBA Wives.

And with Linda that night it was like a mob suddenly decided that she wasn’t to have thoughts and views, ignoring that she had simply in an eloquent and soulful manner, demonstrated what patriotism is all about: Speaking out. She merely thought out loud and gave us a little tidbit to think about.

It was a shame but Linda got right back into her game with “Blue Bayou” and with hateful hearts having shown themselves the door, love came back into the venue like a gift descending upon us from beyond. And we created in those moments a better world.

All, for a while, was forgotten. Love ruled.

Linda and those of us who stayed were committed to just having a good time with some great music. What if in today’s world we could capture and express in our hearts and souls such a spirit of sharing and caring, much like the degree of concern that Tucsonans have nurtured each other with in order to get through the sadness that has weighed down their recent days. Wouldn’t it be something truly glorious if our society could muster that kind of love for each other as a way of life? Think of how much better we could listen to each other and how more efficient we’d become at solving our social and political problems. Think of the legacy we’d be leaving our children.

Why, we’d be as pretty to watch as Linda’s songs are to listen to.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Adrian January 30, 2011 at 2:01 pm

Great post! I am not from Tuscon (south Texas, actually), but I know what you mean about feeling connected to this remarkable woman; not only do I admire her musical talent (can NEVER get enough of her singing!), I admire her courage for speaking her mind…The Bush years made some people afraid to speak out, but not Ms. Ronstadt! Que viva Linda!!!

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avatar Ernie McCray January 30, 2011 at 11:21 pm

She is special.

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avatar Lauren January 30, 2011 at 5:08 pm

Dear Ernie,

What a great piece about TOLERANCE. We’ve lost a lot if we lose the capacity to respond with decency, even when we disagree.

Obama found that out when one of his speeches was interrupted with “you lie”. Wow!

In order to thrive we need to learn to think in shades of gray, not black and white.

Let’s be part of the solution by living a soul filled life where we dare to question.

Big Hugs,
Lauren

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avatar Ernie McCray January 30, 2011 at 11:19 pm

Got to question, that’s for sure.

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avatar Danny Morales January 30, 2011 at 5:33 pm

Ernie- Thanx 4U! Very timely and appropriate. My homies Eddie Money and Ronnie Spector could provide their youtube video as the theme for a new VFW location.

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avatar ANDY SWAIN January 30, 2011 at 6:06 pm

ERNIE,
ITS ME ANDY AND WHETHER YOU KNOW IT OR NOT I’VE ALWAYS BEEN ONE OF YOUR BEST FANS, EVEN WHEN I WAS A LITTLE KID SHOOTING BASKETS ON THE OUT DOOR COURTS AT SAFFORD JR. HIGH AND ALWAYS WISHING I COULD BE AS GOOD AS YOU WERE. IN MY MIND ERNIE YOU’VE ALWAYS BEEN A OUTSTANDING INDIVIDUAL WHO WAS A LITTLE AHEAD OF EVERYONE ELSE WHEN IT CAME TO SIZING THINGS UP AND MAKING DECISIONS THAT EXEMPLIFY LOVE, RESPECT, AND UNDERSTANDING. KEEP ON PRACTICING THE GOLDEN RULE, YOUWEAR IT WELL.
GO WILDCATS
ANDY

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avatar Ernie McCray January 30, 2011 at 11:17 pm

Hey, thanks, homes. Boy we’re harking back to a long time ago. Bear Down!

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avatar Dave Baldwin January 30, 2011 at 8:29 pm

Thanks for another thoughtful essay, Ernie. While many of us continue to engage in rational discourse, others still seem to need their anger and seem to define themselves by their hatred. The ability to rise above anger and hatred and smother it with gentle rationality will be our legacy to our children.

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avatar Ernie McCray January 30, 2011 at 11:18 pm

They, the children, would take it all to another level.

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avatar Shane Finneran January 31, 2011 at 9:23 am

It’s funny that people who would get upset by Linda Ronstadt’s comment about Michael Moore would go to a Linda Ronstadt concert in the first place. Reminds me of a friend of mine who loved the music of The Beatles but never failed to vote Republican and support war. I always wonder how he processed all those lyrics about peace, love, and understanding, or if he never heard them at all.

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avatar Ernie McCray January 31, 2011 at 11:12 am

Wow, Shane, that’s exactly what I thought that night and I almost approached writing about it from that angle: why are these people here. And, you’re right, how could you appreciate the Beatles and what they represented and pump your chest over war? People must get all caught up in the excitement and not listen.
The main thing about the concert is that Linda said very little and what she said she meant to say in passing. As much as I love her and as much as I appreciate Michael Moore I wouldn’t have wanted her to go on and on – and she didn’t. I was caught completely by surprise. Like the Dixie Chicks.

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avatar Willie J. Horton February 1, 2011 at 10:04 am

Hi Ernie:
The mean spirited individual who yelled at Linda Ronstadt should never expect tolerance from anyone. Toleration is either good for all or it is good for none.
Willie Horton

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avatar Ernie McCray February 1, 2011 at 10:50 am

I think you hit it on the head.

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avatar Paul Carter February 2, 2011 at 4:27 pm

Hi Ernie:
For those of us growing up in Tucson, the trips to Ronstadt’s Hardware were special, and after Sally and I got married (over 40 years now) it was always great to visit with her dad (Doc Rogers) and Carlos. Linda, with the Stone Ponies, ballads, rock and through her Spanish language albums has always been one of our favorites. So thank you for memories. Now to the point. Even in the year 2011, no matter how far we have come in our society, we have still not found a way to stamp out ignorance. Thank God the idiot slithered off like the coward he was and allowed you to enjoy Linda cool music.

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avatar Ernie McCray February 2, 2011 at 4:57 pm

Yeah, Linda made us all proud, didn’t she. And I am glad that dude got out of the place because I’m too old to kick him where he needed to be kicked (smile).

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avatar Gregory February 3, 2011 at 10:00 am

Beautifully written! Thank you for sharing!

Wish there was some way this stellar piece of writing could make its way to the wonderful, inspiring Ms. R–I know she’d especially appreciate your memories of Ronstadt’s Hardware Store.

Greg in the NC Mountains

cgl14@msn.com

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avatar Gregory February 3, 2011 at 10:03 am

One of the best pieces of writing I’ve read in a while–especially the good memories from Ronstadt’s Hardware Store. Wish there was a way you could get those reflections to Ms. Linda herself–I know she’d appreciate them.

Thank you for sharing.

Greg in the NC Mountains

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avatar Ernie McCray February 3, 2011 at 2:16 pm

I would love it if my piece got to Linda somehow.

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