Category Archives: In Memoriam

Elegies, songs and psalms

An Unsung Ode to Selena Quintanilla-Perez, 1971-1995


[Copyright© 2009 – CRX @ cyberaxis.wordpress.com.]

An Unsung Ode to Selena Quintanilla-Perez, 1971-1995: An unapologetic celebration of  Selena from an alternate space; a cloistered garden where silences have talismanic powers to heal – CRX

[With Music]

Meditación

I have pondered the death of  Selena in the listless hours between remembrance and oblivion and come to the conclusion – the inescapable conclusion – that Selena will live forever because she represented something in all of us that did not die in the weening  hours of March 31st, 1995.

Beyond skepticism, beyond cynicism,
Selena was the incarnation of goodness
That lives,  moves and has its  being amongst men;
The every-woman with the heart of gold
Who refused to see evil until the very end.

Selena Quintanilla-Perez, 15 Years Later – Still “Una Mujer Del Pueblo”: “She never forgot she was Chicana. She never forgot she was Tejana,” ( 15th anniversary celebrant, March 31, 2010)

She will live forever because she represented
the joy of youth  that gives without stinting:

“When she laughed,
she laughed harder
Than anyone I knew.
And when she cried
She cried harder
Than anyone I knew.”
(Christopher Perez)
The one she called
“El amor de mi vida”
To her sister’s
Me mejor amiga,”
Why do words fail?

Por siempre Selena

Throughout her life she sought happiness
And ways to spread it, and reveled in both.
It was never about the music, but life
Unencumbered by the trappings of  fame and fortune.
Selena will always be the plucky little girl  in “Little House on the Prairie,” 
Trippin’ and fallin’  and pickin’ herself up,
Running,  always running towards love.  (Selah)

But WERE there  moments  of shadow and doubt,
Quiet interludes of fear and trepidation
Twixt the montage of a woman-child having a  ball.

Her favorite flower was white.

“Oftentimes the pure white rose
was depicted as being stained by blood,
or made to blush from a kiss.”
(The  History and Meaning of
White Roses, Samantha Green)

Was Selena, beyond the smiles,  in touch with the pall of her impending doom?

Princesa Azteca

Framed by silk  and a singular curl, here she lies,
As beautifully regal in death as she was in life,
Up on this paneled dais in surreal estate;
Intimations of Aztec royalty unsung
The same that came and left us in the  Spring.

Beyond wishing, her soul rests
Within and without like a garden:
Vital,
Verdant
And ethereal;
The embodiment of that which remains
Long after time and circumstance
Has swept away the engrams of sorrow and regret,
For in the larger scheme of things
This too shall pass. (Selah)

Selena - Bouquet with Rose - Corpus Christi Caller Times

The now iconic image of Selena taken by Mr. George Gongora of the Corpus Christi Caller-Times on November 14, 1994, a scant 4 ½ months before Selena was killed. The bouquet of flowers had just been given to her following an educational presentation at the Cunningham Middle School in Corpus Christi, TX.

Pass when Selena is born again
(As she already has)
With a bouquet and a smile
that will now remain forever young.

“Smart (lass*), to slip betimes away
From fields where glory does not stay,
And early though the laurel grows
It withers quicker than the rose.”
(*’Lass’ substituted for ‘lad’ in original)

Journey to Corpus – Like  “Journey to Addis

Through rococco bursts of color and artifact
We  squeaked through the eye of the needle and left our hearts in Corpus Christi,
This crusted city by the Nueces, atop the  Rio Grande; our destination
By the bay,
By “Mirador de la Flor
The “Overlook of the Flower
‘Neath the salt showers.

Here she stands
in muted tones of bronze
and a storied laurel.

Selena at Mirador De La Flor

Selena Quintanilla, incandesced by night lights waxing gold at Mirador De La Flor, “The Overlook of the Flower, ‘Neath the salt showers.” Corpus Christi, TX  – arguably the most sentient depiction of Selena’s statue.

Observación: The ordinariness of this memento belies the broadside; the shiver that one feels upon first approach.  Something happened here too  – something which moved heaven and earth beneath this ornamented promenade; the voice the City of Corpus heard above the din “of the madding crowd.” Abraham and Marcella’s little girl now belongs to the ages. The greened bronze belies the moment, but we are here to bear witness:

For here in this cloistered cove by The Bay
We are about to beat an ancient drum,
To an athlete who died  young.

Selena para las edades.

Lake Jackson,
Corpus Christi
Houston Astro.

We go back but return to celebrate the living,
Because that is what Selena did … with her song. CRX

Selena Quintanilla Grave, Seaside Memorial Park, Corpus Christi, TX, Copyright, Texas Tripper, LLT Media Group

Seaside Memorial Park, garden of Selena Quintanilla’s earthly rest in Corpus Christi, TX, a stone’s throw from Corpus Christi Bay & downtown Corpus. (© Texas Tripper, LLT Media Group)

Memorial spectra of Selena .... Like a garden, vital, verdant and ethereal - 1920x1200 PIX

Selena Quintanilla spectral mind space ….. “Like a garden vital, verdant and ethereal; The embodiment of that which remains, Long after time and circumstance, Has swept away the engrams of pain and regret . (Unsung Ode to Selena Quintanilla-Perez, CRX, Cyberaxis)

[Copyright© 2009 – CRX @ cyberaxis.wordpress.com.]

México Remembers Selena

Here in this album clip, 10 years after the death of Selena, 15 Mexican stars revisit the scene of collective heartbreak with a musical elegy that proves once again that nothing outside of the human voice can out-wail  the horn and the accordion when it comes to expressing grief. The best track of this comp is this rousing rendition of “No Me Queda Mas” by Palomo. The band pulls off the feat by slowing everything down to a funereal but stately beat (tempo maestoso indeed.)  This stylistic sleight of hand transforms the song,  once about unrequited teen love,  into an anthem of universal longing; a paean to loss untrammeled by flights of fancy …. or romance. As musical hat tricks go, this one ends up being quite stunning.

Album cover of

Stately musical elegy to the late Selena Quintanilla-Perez: Album cover of “Mexico Recuerda a Selena”; definitive minuet of heartbreak.

[Copyright© 2009 – CRX @ cyberaxis.wordpress.com.]

Appendix:

And The Best Die Young: The short life and death of Selena Quintanilla-Perez (CRX)

To An Athlete Dying Young (A.E. Housman, 1859)

Visitors mark anniversary of Selena’s death (Doreen  C.  Bowens – Corpus Christi Caller Times, April 1, 1999)

“All the wonders you seek are within yourself.” (Sir Thomas Browne)

“For in him we live and move and have our being.” (St. Paul)

I Wanna Know What Love Is (Lucky Dube)

Now That We Found Love (Third World)

An Archival Gem: Jimi Hendrix’s Red House, Live in Stockholm, January 9, 1969


If the video has been deleted or moved, please Google  Jimi Hendrix Red House, Live in Stockholm, January 9, 1969 or search for it on Youtube  or other video fora:

This is not a performance, but a clinic in classic blues done  in psychedelic slow-mo. (Boys don’t try this at home.) From the first few lines – cool as a cucumber ‘neath a sycamore tree, Hendrix hews to a retro, yet iconoclastic vibe inspired by his own supreme mastery of the art. This should be required listening for all aspiring blues guitarists,  from jump blues movers-‘n-shakers to Malmsteen-esque shredders.  Hendrix the master of rock psychedelia comes back from the jagged edge to redefine the genre that had fed his muse the way underground streams feed the wells we drink from.

This is not blues guitar as an Olympic sport, but blues as an organic art informed by the human voice.  Hendrix  showcases the inventive minimalism of a master at the top of his game by  breaking down blues to their elemental memes.  The result is as heady as an upper laced with a downer.  “I want to cry” is the most common refrain of  Youtubers who hear it.  “Thank you for posting this,”  say the fans stunned by Hendrix’s  iconoclastic “swagga.”

One of the first things you notice is that there is no frenzy here.  Flop-house pyros need not apply.   Fretboard fireworks, which Hendrix was perfectly capable of at this stage in his career,  took a distant back seat to deliberate story telling.  Hendrix’s  singing voice is sure and his playing more finely nuanced than than anything ever put on  celluloid.

The meter and rhyme of Hendrix’s playing –  languid phrases that belie the seriousness of his intent – are evident from the very first bar.  These are not blues for dilletantes or frizzly-haired poseurs.  No, these are blues for grown men or enchanted boys with old souls.  Hendrix’s guitar hacks back to T-Bone Walker and B.B. King and the height of his powers.   It prefigures the advent of soul as a shibboleth of feeling that cannot be faked.

The extended solo intro recalls  B.B. King in “How Blue Can You Get,”  Live at the Cook County Jail (1971);  that unsung blues classic that stood the genre’s form convention on its head and still came out smokin’.  (The inventive virtuosity of the younger B.B. King still stuns the mind: The pentatonic runs that veer off into jazzy territory and the mildly driven tone that still sounds fresh and daring after all these years.  It is doubtful that B.B. King’s fretboard chops  ever surpassed the form displayed here.)  But we digress.

The sound in this “Red House” clip shows why Jimi Hendrix ultimately chose Fenders over Gibsons.  While weight, and iconoclastic style may have figured into it the equation,  the first few lines of this song show why Hendrix’s voice was channeled more by Fenders, than by Gibsons. The first coupla lines on the Gibson SG neck pickup sound dead and uninspired,  Hendrix’s intent to start on a mellow vibe notwithstanding.  He soon switches to the bridge pickup and the “Burstbucker-esque” pep and effervescence begins to mimic the fender sound. The first ripple of emotion begins to register on Hendrix’s face.

While the Fender vs Gibson debate will never die, this much we know: Some artists are Gibsonsesque and others are Fenderersque. Hendrix was a Fenderesque to his psychedelic core.

copyright© 2009 cyberaxis.wordpress.com

Appendix:

Jimi Hendrix’s Red House and Eric Johnson as muse for the shredder generation

Tangential Musings On Lobo, The King Of Currumpaw


Somewhere within the story of “Lobo the  King of Currumpaw” by Ernest Thompson Seton, is a tale so epic that not even the effrontery of Seton’s baroque story-telling and juiced up plot lines, could  smother it.

The unadorned story of being and belonging, struggle and sacrifice and a nobility so lofty that not even the  iron traps of Seton’s bought-and-paid-for campaign could contain it,  stands on its own. It transcends  Seton’s well-intentioned ornamentations and casts an imposing spell on the mind. The story of Lobo could have made for a gripping tale had its protagonist turned out to be just a man. The fact that the protagonist turns out to be a four-legged creature ups the ante in ways that are paradigm-shattering .  And the parables that come tumbling out of this tale foment epiphanies that make us question our place in nature and the larger scheme of things.  Not bad for a tale about a loup garou who would not fall for the wiles of weasly ranchers who would kill him by any means necessary.

Lobo the King of Currumpaw

Nobility always exists at a  distance …. a regal distance: Lobo, the loup garou who would become King of Currumpaw proved, once again that true nobility could not be contained; and that within the tales tellers told, the roles of protagonist & antagonist could be switched within the blink of an eye – Seton’s eye, that is. For that please see “The Wolf That Changed America” before the explicatory spoiler.

Continue reading

And the best die young: The short life and death of Selena Quintanilla-Perez


(And the best die young: The short life and death of Selena Quintanilla-Perez –  Copyright© 2009 – cyberaxis.wordpress.com)

March remains the cruelest of all months;  and the 31st,  the day time stood still  in a space so surreal it deserves its own  time-line.

Flashback reminiscent of November 22, 1963:  It’s  a little after 1.05pm and the news that would rock Corpus Christi and the world begins to fan out of  Memorial Medical Center (now the Christus Spohn Hospital Corpus Christi – Memorial):  Selena Quintanilla-Perez, the celebrated  Queen of Tejano has just died after being shot by  the former president of her fan club.  Incongruity: Selena the most loving person in the world had just died following the most hate-filled encounter. The collective mind could not wrap itself around this. It still cannot.

Selena Quintanilla - The Corpus Christi Caller Times (Pic - George Gongora)

Shooting Star … One to the Universe: The late Selena Quintanilla-Perez April 16, 1971 – March 31, 1995. The symbolism in this pic is stunning “Como La Flor.” She has through fate and circumstance, become the symbol of our joy and pain clarified and bottled like an essence; stunningly potent in its essences and guises. (Copyright: George Gongora, Corpus Christi Caller Times)

And so it has been with this tragedy, that the majority of us  have been  condemned to start the story of Selena at the end of it with a casket,  instead of  the irrepressible little girl who would transfix the world with her song. Continue reading

The Death Of Superglam: The short life and death of Aaliyah Dana Haughton


We will travel light
And laugh at life
And when the time comes,
Mourn our lost and bury our dead
In ways befitting Kings and Queens
Whose songs have not yet been sung.

This quiet morning I shed a lone tear,
For someone I did not even know.
There is a screaming incongruity
Somewhere around here,
Or so it seems.

But I know what I will do.
I will go to the record store
When I get a little time,
And buy a big fat poster of Aaliyah.
Which I will hang in the quiet room amid mementos
Of Thoko,  Princess of the Khoisan people.
The same who came and left us in the spring.

August 25, 2001

The death of superglam: August 25, 2001

I wasn’t much of a fan of Aaliyah‘s music, but I recognized her enormous talent and effortless style.  She was uncannily beautiful and full of a grace that some have to work at exuding. Aaliyah had a certain ethereal quality to her; at once mysterious and chameleonic in its essence.

On a stage full of wanna-be R & B divas, she was an original who did not need a trinity of egos and alter-egos to claim her spot under the musical sun. The consummate stylist who made transcendent substance out of stuff that would go puff in less gifted hands, Aaliyah had her finger squarely pressed on the pulse of her own talent, soulfulness and  indeed her limitations. And when you watch her daintily choreographed routines you see a woman who projected a virtual muscularity beyond her lithe frame. It is quite amazing to watch. As virtual hand tricks go, this one comes across as pretty nifty.

I do not know about the movies and acting thing, but my suspicion is that beyond her musical catchet, Hollywood was trying to capitalize on the irreducible essence that was transcendently Aaliyah’s. Her soul. The girl was nothing but …. (“The Industry” tried to do the same with Cosby’s Lisa Bonet with woefully negligible results. But we digress.)

Through the computer generated tracks and sub-terranean hip-hop grooves from Dante’s inferno, Aaliyah’s soul pulsed through her music and cast spells more wicked than a voodoo priestess’ incantations. Her aim? Dead on. There was no flab in Aaliyah’s sound. No flak or redundance in her beats. When she was hot, she was  “Hot Like Fire“:  my favorite track  from the album  “One In A Million”.   (“One In A Million”   is also the name of a track.)

A minuet before silence where there once were slamming beats and super music.

Aaliyah Haughton 1979 - 2001: A wacky minuet before silence

Aaliyah’s death is analogous to a hot stylus jumping tracks to play a wacky minuet before crackling  static and  silence where there once was pulsating music. The sheer improbability of her passing will remain with me forever.

In the eloquent words of a fan who could hardly contain his grief yesterday: “Damn! There she goes!”
Rest in peace sweet princess.  Rest in peace.

http://vodpod.com/watch/181261-aaliyah-death

copyright© 2010 cyberaxis.wordpress.com

Appendices:

And the best die young: The short life and death of selena quintanilla perez (Cyberaxis)