Coat du Roam

So shiny. The man in the Mylar suit claimed to be from “next week,” he also claimed the seat next to mine as I did my usual balancing act at the fig. I attract these sort of people, those with stories. Perhaps they perceive in me someone empathetic to their plight, a fellow traveler in the arcane and esoteric, a brother researcher of the recherché. Or just as likely, they spy the reporter’s notebook peaking from my coat pocket and are overcome by a sudden ink-lust. I don’t begrudge them. In point of fact, I need them, and as they say, “everyone has a story.” Or, at least everyone thinks they have a story and many of those begin with an arrival – usually theirs – somewhere, somehow. If you were a character in a comic book, bestselling novel, or major motion picture, this story would be part of your “origin myth.” As I mentioned last week, such myths have piqued my interest of late. That the silver-clad gent next to me at the bar asserted that he had arrived from the future, led me to believe his origin myth was all the more mythical. Which is to say untrue. But who was I to judge? My very name is mythical and in my own little way, I too am a tad anachronistic, but only because I won’t cut my hair lest I lose my superpowers. Unlike my newfound bar mate, I’m not from the future. I’m from 1972 and that nearby nebulae of cows and angst known as Petaluma, which sounds nearly as exciting as it was to grow up there.

So, wherefrom the man in the Mylar suit? “Next week,” he said last week, which means, at present writing, that he’s from Now. Generally, I can do without this sort of Borgesian brouhaha, especially during the work-week (I try to reserve the more surreal experiences for the weekend when I have the psychic stamina to deal with fissures in our consensual reality), but I allowed myself to get pulled in due to his intriguing, dark manner. And the fact that his coat was shiny. He shrugged it off his shoulders and slung it over his barstool. Continue reading “Coat du Roam”

Origin Myth

For each of us not blessed with being born natives of Sonoma there is a corresponding back story to our arrival. An “origin myth,” as they say in the screen trade. I’ve rewritten mine so many times I can hardly remember the facts, though I suspect this was probably my forgotten intention.

My back story, so far as I can recall, had something to do with Los Angeles, a reignited romance and an unused return ticket. I won’t waste ink on the specifics (we can catch up over a glass of wine sometime, if you really need to know), since my origin myth would scarcely rank a footnote in the Collective Annals of Sonoma Origin Myths, if there were such a thing. And there kind of is: I’ve been collecting local origin myths since I arrived in the fall of ’05. I seek them out, tease them from casual conversation, bask in their back stories and catalog the dramatis personae. These informal, informational interviews reveal all manner of motives, all hues of humanity in its pursuit of happiness. Every experience I’ve chronicled, no matter the circumstances that have shaped it, somehow affirms that Sonoma is one of the most brilliant places on earth, judging solely from the personalities it attracts and those it has retained (of course, I don’t put my own name on this ledger, for at times I think it must be Greek for “dumb luck”). Continue reading “Origin Myth”

Let’s Get Spiritual: Olivia Newton-John

Pop-star, actress and healthy lifestyle advocate Olivia Newton-John recently visited the wine country to tape episodes of the nationally syndicated integrative health show “Healing Quest,” joining Sonomans Judy Brooks and Roy Walkenhorst as co-host. During a wrap party at Sullivan Vineyards in Napa, she had a chat with Daedalus Howell.

DH: it’s the 26th anniversary of “Lets Get Physical” and I’ve go to say, the video for the title track forever changed my perception of gym culture. That had to be at least double platinum, right?

ONJ: Oh, actually it’s more than double platinum I’m glad to say – it sold everywhere. It was crazy. It’s 30 years since “Grease” next year too. I know – it’s unbelievable.

DH: Has your perception of the world changed since then?

ONJ: I’ve always had a pretty good perception of the world. The world is always the same it’s just your perception that changes. I’m sure I’ve gone through some – a lot – of difficult times but I’ve always seen the glass half-full, you know and I’ve always been fortunate. I’ve have a few periods where I would say I was pretty depressed but they were for reasons, they weren’t not for non-reasons, not just because I was just unhappy.  There were causes for them. But I’m great now.

DH: Can I assume these are the same that have led you to become more spiritual?

ONJ: I think I’ve always had a knowing-ness, a belief, but I think I definitely believe in something, whatever you want to call it. Everyone has a different name for it. I think we’re all looking for peace love and compassion.  We’re all looking for the same things.

DH: I’m always looking for my keys. But, you know, in that “key to wisdom” kind-of-way. I’m sure you have a better calling.

ONJ: I think now that my purpose is greater than what I believed it would be. If you’re lucky enough to maintain a career and get older, then lucky enough to survive both, you want to give back. I think that’s part of my duty and what I want to do and it feels good. My life, my whole journey, seems to be geared towards healing in many different ways.

DH: In your TV show you integrate both your media personality and some of your spiritual inclinations as well.

ONJ: And my music. They play my music on the show and they integrate that into healing moments on the program. I have a new CD called “Grace and Gratitude” that you probably haven’t heard. It is a healing CD and takes you though the chakras of the body, the emotional parts of your body, and each song is a healing. That’s all I can describe. I wrote it for myself but in doing that I think I’m hopefully going to help other people. And it’s just a peaceful piece.

DH: Do you have a higher consciousness when you’re performing? And I mean that in the spiritual way.

ONJ: Different maybe. I’ve always enjoyed singing and performing and enjoyed people.  I mean “Grease” was the most fun movie to make.  We had such a blast making it. I think that it endures because the energy is transmittable.  You can feel it through the screen.  Everyone talks about the energy and excitement. That was the cast and producer Alan Carr, who would used to come and rev us up all the time.

DH: I feel a cast reunion coming on.

ONJ: Well, I don’t know.  Next year is the big one – maybe we will.

DH: Tell me more, tell me more.  I mean, tell me more about what are you working on besides the show?

ONJ: I’m building a hospital in Melbourne,  Australia with it wont’ be in my name I’m very proud to say and a wellness center attached to that. We’ve been working on that for four years and that is a huge undertaking but we’ve raised 45 million dollars and we’re getting close to our goal. I’m walking the Great Wall of China in April to raise money and awareness for the hospital.

DH: I’d recommend sensible shoes.

ONJ: Very good thinking.  Yeah, I think high heals will work. No actually I’m going to be in very heavy training for that. It will be a blast it will be very exciting an incredible challenge for next year.

DH: But ultimately, there’s a healing premise behind it all. I’ve come to understand that wine is healing in moderation.

ONJ: Wine, yeah, ultimately in moderation, there was such controversy about breast cancer and wine for a while and then they kind of changed there minds that there is so many good things in it that it probably works out that one glass a day is fine. I think being relaxed about your health is probably just as important any way.

DH: Because stress is a killer.

ONJ: Yeah, it’s one of the major killers. One of our shows said that for 90 percent of people who go to the doctor, the causes of their illness are stress related.

DH: I don’t even go to the doctor because it stresses me out.

ONJ: [laughing] That’s right it’s better not to go – probably die of the stress before you get there.

DH: How do you manage to everything you do? It’s like you have career A.D.D. Do you keep a list to keep track? Or tattoo everything on you or something?

ONJ: I have a diary and an assistant that points me in the direction of what I’m doing at the time.

DH: I should get an assistant – my diary’s not doing it. And my diary makes horrible coffee.

For more information about “Healing Quest,” visit www.healingquest.tv.

My Bloody Valentine Conspiracy

Before I knew otherwise, I assumed Valentine’s Day was a conspiracy created by greeting card companies to push their pithy printed products on unsuspecting well-wishers. They’ve done this kind of thing before – consider the advent of “Grandparent’s Day” and “Secretary’s Day.” Can “Step-Great-Aunt Day” and “Houseplant Week” be far behind? I think not. However, when I take an honest look at my jaundiced view of the holiday, I have to admit it’s likely the result of the various Valentine failures that dot my romantic history like so many candy hearts.

In my bachelor years, I managed every foible and faux pas imaginable – from forgetting Feb. 14 entirely (“I thought it was Leap Year, baby”) to the inadvertent switch of cards intended for my mother and a girlfriend, the latter of which I had written with rather loose use of, ahem, lover’s lingo. My inner-Freud still winces from the moment.

The coup de grace, of course, was calling my ex-ex-ex girlfriend (not to be confused with my “xxx girlfriend”) to explain why her best friend and I were locked in a freezer together and would she “consider opening the door?” Yeah, that was a chilly Valentine’s Day.

Continue reading “My Bloody Valentine Conspiracy”

My Bloody Valentine

Before I knew otherwise, I assumed Valentine’s Day was a conspiracy created by greeting card companies to push their pithy printed products on unsuspecting well-wishers. They’ve done this kind of thing before – consider the advent of “Grandparent’s Day” and “Secretary’s Day.” Can “Step-Great-Aunt Day” and “Houseplant Week” be far behind? I think not. However, when I take an honest look at my jaundiced view of the holiday, I have to admit it’s likely the result of the various Valentine failures that dot my romantic history like so many candy hearts.
In my bachelor years, I managed every foible and faux pas imaginable – from forgetting Feb. 14 entirely (“I thought it was Leap Year, baby”) to the inadvertent switch of cards intended for my mother and a girlfriend, the latter of which I had written with rather loose use of, ahem, lover’s lingo. My inner-Freud still winces from the moment. The coup de grace, of course, was calling my ex-ex-ex girlfriend (not to be confused with my “xxx girlfriend”) to explain why her best friend and I were locked in a freezer together and would she “consider opening the door?” Yeah, that was a chilly Valentine’s Day.

Continue reading “My Bloody Valentine”