January 2017: Finding Good Luck in the City and More

Dear friends, it feels so nice to reach out and be in touch with you right now.

Just to be frank about it, I'm not the most politically savvy person in the world. I vote, and I do my best to stay on top of the news, and I try to contribute meaningfully to causes I believe in when and how I can. But, as much as it pains me to admit, it's not an area of my expertise. I simply don't feel comfortable holding forth about stuff that I don't have a sufficiently nuanced grasp on. (I love this quote by Isaac Asimov, emphasis mine: "I couldn’t possibly write the variety of books I manage to do out of the knowledge I had gained in school alone. I had to keep a program of self-education in process. My library of reference books grew and I found I had to sweat over them in my constant fear that I might misunderstand a point that to someone knowledgeable in the subject would be a ludicrously simple one.") Not that one needs a particularly finely honed sense of nuance to recognize the horrors that are emanating with alarming frequency from the edicts of our current administration, but I think you take my point.

So, even though you're not going to see me writing much directly, here or elsewhere, about the current state of US politics, I'm also keen to convey that that elision comes not from lack of engagement, or from avoidance or ambivalence. It's just more that I know my strengths as a writer, and writing about politics and policy in any sort of direct or emphatic way is not one of them. There are plenty of places for you to find writing of that nature online, should you wish to read it. Writing about it indirectly, on the other hand, is another matter entirely, which I hope this month's blog post makes clear.

Table of contents:

  1. What's new on the blog

  2. Elsewhere

  3. "Wichita Lineman": The 2017 Covers Series

  4. Psychic readings and healings

What's new on the blog

This month on Queen of Peaches, I write a little bit about chance encounters on the city streets:

About half way up the next block, I see a man stumbling as he walks across the middle of the street. He raises his right foot to the curb but loses his balance and falls back into the street, flat, prone. Instinctively I call out, "can I give you a hand?!" and hear a guy’s voice a few paces behind me ask the same almost simultaneously. I also hear my mother’s voice, in memory. I see her the way I saw her as a tiny child, opening the driver’s side door of our van while we’re stopped at a stoplight, yelling across the street to a man crossing on foot at the intersection, asking if he needs help. After a few moments, she ducks back into the vehicle and closes her door. "Why did you do that? Did you know him?" I ask. "He’s blind," she says, her moral compass firm and direct.

Click here to read the rest of the post "Good Luck: Street Life in the City of Chicago."


I loved the way that last year's batch of covers of "I'm Waiting for the Man" turned out, but I couldn't really imagine dragging the series on indefinitely. (I was already starting to have trouble scraping together additional interesting cover versions each month.) So rather than delete this portion of the newsletter entirely, I figured why not just pivot to a new song for the new year. And after Brian sat down with his guitar to start learning "Wichita Lineman" for an event at his school, I knew I'd found the perfect next song.

Because--it is indeed a perfect song. Perfectly, perfectly composed by the great Jimmy Webb and given its highest expression by the incomparable Glen Campbell. (I sort of ruefully chuckled after the clock ticked over to 2017 that, despite his Alzheimer's, at least the celebrity deathsweep of 2016 left Glen Campbell behind.) His definitive version from his 1968 album of the same name is one of a handful of songs that will reliably bring me to tears nearly any time I hear it. So, let's just get that out of the way now--no one will ever surpass it. Which, I think, is why doing a covers series around this song might be kind of fun. Like, if you know you'll never record a better version than the one that already exists, what do you do with it? Let's find out.

That being said, I'm going to cheat a little bit on this first one.

(Click here to listen to the song on YouTube.)

Yes, it's Glen Campbell on vocals and his signature baritone guitar. But, he's being backed by the Stone Temple Pilots (sans Scott Weiland). Just like I loved White Denim for having the balls to tackle Steely Dan's "Peg," I love that STP not only covered "Wichita Lineman" but covered it with the maestro himself singing lead (and, clearly, as the video shows, putting them through their paces musically). They do a lovely, restrained, refined, respectful take on it that's all the more impressive for feeling genuinely laid back. As I've argued about them a couple times before, in considering what kind of hole Scott Weiland left in rock music, and in that band specifically, the DeLeos (and their cohorts) are clearly at the mercy, not necessarily in a bad way, of the quality of their frontmen. Here, they're working, if only for a moment, with the best of the best, and it shows.

I'm constantly tempted to logic my way through life--to apply my intellect to out-think the stresses and struggles of any particular situation. It's easy for me, despite my years of training as a clairvoyant and years of studying religion and spirituality, to forget that sometimes irrationality and even a bit of creative madness can be the most fruitful antidote to too much brain-centered agonizing. Yes, we must be clear-headed to survive these times, but we must also be clear-hearted--and the heart is not always known for being predictable or straightforward in its communication or desires. Hopefully you have a regular meditation, contemplation, or other spiritual practice to keep you in touch with your own most precious inner wildness. If you could use a helping hand to take you on a deeper dive into your own uncharted waters, though, I'm always available to give psychic readings and healings.

From the bottom of my heart,