Monday, January 21, 2013

Them rules of the reds and of the blues dat reign in mah life

In an email from a beloved jazz singer who also sings the blues, she gave these guidelines on how to deal with 'em blues (she sourced it from another lover of the blues):

Rules of the Blues

1) Most Blues begin, "Woke up this morning..." 

2) "I got a good woman" is a bad way to begin the Blues lest you stick something nasty in the next line like,  "I got a good woman, with the meanest face in town."

3) The Blues is simple. After you get the first line right, repeat it. Then find something that rhymes . Sort of: "Got a good woman with the meanest face in town. Yes, I got a good woman with the meanest face in town. Got teeth like Margaret Thatcher, and she weighs 500 pounds."

4) The Blues is not about choice. You stuck in a ditch, you stuck in a ditch-ain't no way out.

5) Blues cars: Chevys, Fords, Cadillacs and broken-down trucks. Blues don't travel in Volvos, BMWs, or Sport Utility Vehicles. Most Blues transportation is a Greyhound bus or a southbound train. Jet aircraft and state-sponsored motor pools ain't even in the running. Walkin' plays a major part in the blues lifestyle. So does fixin' to die.

6) Teenagers can't sing the Blues. Well, except maybe Johnny Lang. Adults sing the Blues. In Blues "adulthood" means being old enough to get the electric chair if you shoot a man in Memphis.

7) Blues can take place in New York City but not in Hawaii or anyplace in Canada. Hard times in Minneapolis or Seattle are probably just clinical depression. Chicago, St. Louis, and Kansas City are still the best places to have the Blues. You cannot have the blues in any places that don’t get rain.

8) A man with male pattern baldness ain't the blues. A woman with male pattern baldness is. Breakin your leg cause you went skiing is not the blues. Breakin your leg 'cause a alligator be chompin on it is.

9) You can't have no Blues in an office or a shopping mall. The lighting is wrong. Go outside to the parking lot or sit by the dumpster.

10) Good places for the Blues: 
a) Highway; 
b) Jailhouse; 
c) Empty bed; 
d) Bottom of a whiskey glass. 
Bad places for the Blues: 
a) Dillard's; 
b) Gallery openings; 
c) Ivy League institutions; 
d) Golf courses.

11) No one will believe it's the Blues if you wear a suit, 'less you happen to be a old ethnic person, and you slept in it.

12) Do you have the right to sing the Blues? Yes, if 
a) You older than dirt; 
b) You blind; 
c) You shot a man in Memphis; 
d) You can't be satisfied.

No, if 
a) You have all your teeth; 
b) You were once blind but now can see; 
c) The man in Memphis lived; 
d) You have a 401K or trust fund.

13) Blues is not a matter of color. It's a matter of bad luck. Tiger Woods cannot sing the blues. Sonny Liston could. Ugly white people also got a leg up on the blues.

14) If you ask for water and your darlin' give you gasoline, it's the Blues.

Other acceptable Blues beverages are: 
a) Cheap wine; 
b) Whiskey or bourbon; 
c) Muddy water; 
d) Nasty black coffee.

The following are NOT Blues beverages: 
a) Perrier; 
b) Chardonnay; 
c) Snapple; 
d) Slim Fast.

15) If death occurs in a cheap motel or a shotgun shack, it's a Blues death.

Stabbed in the back by a jealous lover is another Blues way to die. So are the electric chair, substance abuse and dying lonely on a broken down cot. You can't have a Blues death if you die during a tennis match or getting liposuction.

16) Some Blues names for women: 
a) Sadie; 
b) Big Mama; 
c) Bessie; 
d) Fat River Dumpling

17) Some Blues names for men 
a) Joe; 
b) Willie; 
c) Little Willie; 
d) Big Willie

18) Persons with names like Michelle, Amber, Debbie, and Heather can't sing the Blues no matter how many men they shoot in Memphis.

19) Make your own Blues name Starter Kit:

a) Name of physical infirmity (Blind, Cripple, Lame, etc.);

b) First name (see above) plus name of fruit (Lemon, Lime, Kiwi, etc.);

c) Last name of President (Jefferson, Johnson, Fillmore, etc.);

d) For example, Blind Lime Jefferson, Jakeleg Lemon Johnson or Cripple Kiwi Fillmore, etc. (Well, maybe not "Kiwi.")

20) I don’t care how tragic your life is, if you own a computer, you can’t sing the blues.
The Rules of the Reds    
The blogger cannot rewrite nor "plagiarize" The Rules of the Blues, no matter how she makes a brave attempt to be at her wittiest. Still I'll see what I can do with the photos I took along with anonymous waiters and my spouse of 29 years.
Two retired professors, Geraldine Maayo of the UP School of Labor and Industrial Relations, and Rolly Fernandez of UP Baguio's College of Arts and Communication
A bluesy gal like the blogger, whose secret alias (no longer secret after this blog entry) is Big Mama, has got to pull down a lifeline like a white (as in fair-complexioned) spouse in the person of Rolly Fernandez. He came down from Baguio to join us that day. He's the one who works hard at the best thing he does (journalism) so he, with a little help from me, with my long-lost, newly found friend Geraldine Maayo, can host a "gratitude lunch" for the old guys of literature, F. Sionil Jose and Elmer Ordoñez.
Doc O and Manong Frankie get started with the spinach soup (or was it asparagus? Forgive the temporary forgetfulness). Frankie the gourmet recommends a small splash of Iluko vinegar in it and it opens up the flavor.
Geraldine and I are  especially grateful to Frankie for encouraging us when we were, in Hermie Beltran's words when we sat together at the faculty center forum at UP Diliman in the '70s, "fetus writers". Why so? Because grand dame of letters Carmen Guerrero Nakpil then referred to the already graying fictionist Greg Brilliantes as "young." I turned to Hermie to ask, "So what does that make of us?" Already quick-witted, he answered, "Fetus writers!"
Back to the lunch that took some time in coordinating to accommodate the schedules of three busy old men, including mine. Assembly area was Solidaridad Bookshop in Ermita which Rolly found perfect because he was looking for certain book titles, the bibliomaniac (more intense than bibliophile) in him in high gear again. Despite Doc O living in Cavite and F in one of the projects in Quezon City, they were the first to arrive followed by me, who taxied from Pasig and cursed the slow Pedro Gil traffic from Santa Ana to Paco, G, who commuted from Visayas ave., QC, and finally, R, still encased in a fleece jacket from Baguio.
After the re-acquaintance chit-chat, F asked the young 'uns (G, R and me) to pick from a pile of books at a corner of his office, new titles on reading and writing from some American publishers. Predictably, R picked a book on grammar and usage that F didn't sign while he wrote a nice dedication on my copy of The Writer's World: Essays edited by Lynne Gaetz and Suneeti Phadke.
Clockwise: Doc O, Frankie, Babeth, Geraldine and Rolly
Second group photo known as a security shot (from left): Doc O, Geraldine, Frankie, Babeth who seems to be growing out of Rolly's shoulder
We let Frankie choose the restaurant ; Doc O's only request was nothing spicy. So that did it for F's favorite Indian resto. We ended up at a Chinese place that serves, by F's judgment, the best Hainanese chicken in town.
Elmer Ordoñez, another former Philippine Collegian
We thought that the mealtime conversation would float in a rarefied stratosphere, but trust two Upsilonian fraternity brods (Doc O and R) to turn our lunch into one...I can't even find the precise word for it. Okay, the oral "hagiography" of their frat. 
R likes to say, in private conversations with me, that his is the ONLY fraternity and organization at the UP. "It's Upsilon and others," he'd declare firmly in the (outdated) machismo that frat is notorious for. I was partly shocked when Doc O of the finer sensibilities introduced another term during lunch: "Upsilon and other sororities." To mean the other frats and orgs are sissies.
Buddha-like National Artist for Literature F. Sionil Jose
And while this went on, F at one point looked at these frat brods slack-jawed while I, as usual, rolled my eyes heavenwards. At one point I cut in to ask if sartorial elegance was also inculcated among its members. To his credit, poker-faced Doc O formulated his reply this way: "When an Upsilonian wears a pair of khaki pants, di lang basta khaki. It has to be Dockers." Oo na nga!
We parted with an unexpressed wish that fun lunches like this one would happen again in the future so we could enjoy the company of F and Doc O while they are still very much around. 
My youngest daughter Ida, who, when she was in college, studied some short stories of F, was shocked at the launch of Mario Miclat's novel a few years back. She overheard me address F as"Frankie" without so much as an honorific "Manong." I explained to her that he didn't ask it of me when I met him when I was a gangling teen of 18 or 19, nor did he expect a "Sir" either. It had always been "Frankie" the way her Lolo SV Epistola was always "SV."
From Ermita, R and I taxied together to catch the general Paulinian homecoming at the Gilmore campus in QC. Who'd have thought that I'd live long enough to be part of our high school batch's ruby jubilee?  There I met up with younger sis Embeng who was in the company of her batchmates.
Babeth of Class of '73 with Class of '74's Embeng Lolarga, Rachel Reyes and Benzie de la Fuente
An honorary Paulinian in the middle? It's possible because St. Paul College is now a university and admits boys and men. It was Rachel's first time to attend a St. Paul QC homecoming; she's based in New York City and came home for her mom's 90th birthday.
It was a moment of pride for the entire class when our dancers went onstage in their
all-red costumes, Afro wigs and dark glasses. Their entrance was a scene straight out of  "Mod Squad" and "Charlie's Angels," two hit TV series from our era. 
Ana Earnshaw's husband, musician Spanky Rigor, did an oh-so-danceable remix of '70s disco tunes that I couldn't contain myself (so did the elegant Grace Palma, a finance executive from our batch), and we danced on the aisles of the James B. Reuter auditorium while cheering for our classmates. 
Some of our dancers have a late supper (from left): Jill Racela, Audrey Agatep, Maan Martin, Concept Zamora and Bibit Esteva

Except for a distracting flower vase, Table 35 was the table to join because it included the class representatives, dancers in the persons of Ana Earnshaw, Lyn Sanchez, Jenny (Concept's daughter who filmed the dance number), Jill, Audrey, Maan and Bibit.

Seated: Grace Palma and Jing Umali. Behind them is Pam Bañez.

From left: Grace, Jing, Adelle Nadres who served as assistant technical director and efficiently worked behind the scenes, Hayni Estrada and Marissa Ileto, member and head, respectively, of the slambook committee that produced our print souvenir to celebrate 40 years of our Paulinian spirit

More expressions of charm before my camera from Adelle, Hayni, Lulu Camello, Marissa and Vicki Narciso
Hey, girls, look this way! Seated are Jill, Audrey and Maan. Standing are (from left): Ana, Lyn, Adelle, Jing and Grace

Okay, one more time and all together now (except for Yoly de Leoz who had to leave earlier to return home to Laguna), seated are Jill, Audrey, Maan, Bibit and Babeth. Standing are Ana, Lyn, Adelle, Jing, Grace, Marissa, Punay Gonzales, Pam, Hayni, Vicki and Lulu

Thanks, too, to Pam and Maan for ruby souvenirs of red scarves and red heart bracelets. As classmate Bonjet Tolentino shouted in our Yahoo group: "Class of '73, you're awesome!"
The long program left us famished, and our batch regrouped for photos with my spouse taking most of them.
I knew in my heart that the 12th of January would be a good day to be capped by a good night as R and I took the midnight bus back to Baguio. There were long goodbyes to classmates who I'm not sure I will see again if I live long enough to see our golden jubilee.    
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