His Name Was Prince


And he was funky.

And rest assured that my Facebook friends are probably…well, most definitely tired of my posts about the man and his music which is why I’m here to expand my thoughts just a little bit more.

First off, I find it hard to believe that he’s gone. I was at work doing my thing when I got this text from Ann:

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No. Seriously. What was the punchline here? There had to be one because this had to be some kind of horrible, horrible joke.

The old joke when we were kids was, “Hey, did you hear Alan Hamel died?”

“Really?”

Yeah. Tell a friend.”

“And u think u got it bad?”

Money Don’t Matter 2 Night

This was Prince. Ain’t no way this was supposed to happen so soon, especially with so many other great musicians passing away in 2016 and late 2015.

But Ann’s not very good at telling jokes and I couldn’t really think of a punchline for this one, so I had to start my own investigating.

I immediately searched for more information on Twitter, my usual news source. Everyone was all reporting the same ongoing “death investigation” with no definite word on what had happened.

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But then the confirmations started. This was the very tweet that crushed my soul.

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Note that I got it via Roku. I don’t give TMZ any more attention than I wish to as they mostly report trash I’m not remotely interested in.

I’m a fan of all kinds of music and I know what I like, and I like Prince. That’s why it was so incredibly shocking to hear he had died. Music is a very important part of my life probably because I can’t play an instrument and appreciate those who can, and admire those who are masters.

Well, I try.

Upon reading this tweet, I sat at my desk and out a huge, disappointing sigh that sounded like more of an annoyed grunt. It could have been. My coworker laughed and asked if I was okay.

Then I showed her the tweet.

“No way,” she exclaimed. As the news spread across almost every person/business I follow on Twitter, it was apparent that there would be no punchline as it was no joke. We were both shocked.

At age 57, Prince Rogers Nelson was gone.

“We could all die any day”

1999

Granted, I’m not his biggest fan in that I don’t have many of his albums nor did I ever witness him live, something I most definitely regret now. But I do enjoy music — all kinds. And you don’t have to be a big Prince fan in order to appreciate his contribution to the music world – at least if you grew up in the time he was at the top of his game.

That year was 1984 when his quasi-biographical Purple Rain hit the theaters. While people were still singing his hits from 1999, the movie propelled him to a level of success and attention that was incredible to witness.

I can recall seeing Purple Rain shirts by the handful in high school with their proud owners bragging about his incredible concert at The Forum. Back then, you couldn’t turn on the radio or MTV without hearing/seeing Prince, most likely “When Doves Cry,” even though all of his singles from 1999 were still popular.

Prince had arrived only a few years after being booed off the stage while opening for the Rolling Stones, and he was still about pushing boundaries.

“Whenever my hopes and dreams
Are aimed in the wrong direction
She’s always there
Tellin’ me how much she cares”

She’s Always in My Hair

Distributing his album Planet Earth via Sunday newspaper in the UK. The Lord’s Prayer in “Controversy.” His name change to an unpronounceable symbol. The buttless chaps he wore on the MTV Music Awards. And, of course, his reluctance to be a part of the Internet by not having an official website, his videos on YouTube (and his threats to sue anyone who posted them), or his albums on streaming services.

Of course in 1999, the eponymous song became the anthem of the year. If you went to a New Year’s Eve party you know it was played allllll night.

But as fans continue to mourn, videos are starting to show up. Here’s one I remember seeing a ton of times on MTV and it’s one of the rate videos where you’ll see Prince sit behind the drums and madly pound out a solo.

While this entire performance is worthy of watching, the solo begins at 7:45.

And let’s not forget that his song “Darling Nikki” and not a rap song was responsible for this sticker:

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I can think of songs on the radio today that are even more explicit than that one but hey, it gives Tipper Gore something to be proud of I guess.

There was never a doubt that he was an incredible musician, songwriter, and performer and like the man himself, his music knew no boundaries. This is perhaps why so many musicians paid tribute to him on the day he passed away, most of them playing his somber “Purple Rain.”

Corey Taylor of metal band Slipknot:

A student choir at the Disney Concert Hall:

Adam Levine of Maroon 5:

The cast of The Color Purple:

Bruce Springsteen:

Jimmy Buffett:

As musicians paid homage to Prince, cities around the world did the same.

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The Eiffel Tower.

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Downtown Los Angeles, who may just win the prize for tributes.

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The Minnesota Twins. Ironically, it was raining the day he passed.

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New Yorker Magazine.

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The Forum in Inglewood, where Prince played 21 nights in 2011.

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Long Beach Transit.

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The local news during the Entertainment Report.

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A church in Tulsa, OK.

When applicable, people will flock to Hollywood leave flowers and mementos at the Walk of Fame star of a recently deceased star. Prince, of course, was not your average star and does not have a star on the Walk of Fame. As a result, a someone decided he needed one where fans could mourn.

star

“Baby I’m a star”

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And of course, my own that I posted on Instagram.

The only thing I’ve seen that came close to this was when John Lennon was assassinated. It was a beautiful way to celebrate the life of a man who wore the most feminine outfits while shredding a guitar like no other – and prancing around on stage in his trademark high-heeled boots.

So guys, if you ever think you’re a badass, just forget it. Prince owns you even now.

He was taken away from us much too fast but we were lucky to walk this planet at the same time to experience his incredible gift.

“No one in the whole universe will ever compare”

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So thank you and goodnight, sweet Prince. Rest in Power.

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Blogging 365, Day 60: Goodbye, Uncle Lou


Goodbye, Uncle

Today I received word that my beloved Uncle Lou passed away after suffering a stroke. And although my heart is in a great deal of pain as I write this post, I do it because Uncle Lou would have expected nothing less from me.

Uncle Lou, retired from the aerospace industry where we think he was involved in projects so rooted in mystery that he could not speak of them, was also a published author. I probably can’t say any more about this than I already have in this post some years ago.

And this is why I write holding back tears at the moment.

It’s especially difficult for me to accept his passing since, as writers (or a published writer and a charlatan at the very least), we both worked on the same wavelength and no doubt beat our heads over the same agonizing issues that writers routinely face. Only a writer would bother to continue their quest to put words on paper or online even after mentally beating themselves up.

He had enough in him to finish yet another book but the last few years had been trying for Uncle Lou. His health failing, he continued to plug along with the help of his daughter who confessed at one of the last family get-togethers that we had almost lost him a few times before that.

But to Uncle Lou, it meant nothing. I’ll never forget walking into my Aunt Mary’s house and seeing him seated and taking with other family members. I walked up to him and he stood up, smiled, hugged me and with his right hand weathered after years of labor in both industry and ocean treks, he gently grabbed my cheek and lovingly shook it. The bond we discovered years earlier had only grown stronger. I recall sitting next to him and drinking limoncellos as we chatted about his last book and what he was working on next.

And it’s that smile I’ll never forget. Writing aside, the only other thing that made Uncle Lou smile was anything having to do with water. His many ocean voyages are proof of this and for further evidence, one need look no further than this picture of him giving Anthony some lessons on how to swim. (That’s the very same pool I learned how to swim in with the help of, you guess it, Uncle Lou.)

[Olympus] Aunt Mary's Party 050

And along with the ocean came the mystery. He would show up on your doorstep even if you had moved and you told nobody about it. It was his keen sense of, well, everything that earned him the right of being the family’s Mystery Man, or better yet…

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I still think Dos Equis beer owes him a debt of gratitude.

During one of my last bike rides to the Seal Beach Pier, I decided to send him an email with the attached photo:

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Uncle Lou,

I rode my bike to Seal Beach Pier and thought you would like this picture. It’s gloomy out here but beautiful.

Hope you are well,
David

I never heard back from him which was my first indication that things were not well on his end.

A few months ago, however, he sent me a PDF of the cover of his last book, Soulsearch(ing). It seemed rather prophetic considering today’s news. Here’s the synopsis. 

The soul does exist; it does have substance, and it does have a language. And all these things are something we already know exists. We know this intuitively, automatically. We have, however, in our own creative manner manipulated what we know into what we think.

Lou Cruz has always asked questions. These questions have taken him far and wide in search of answers, in search of the soul within him and what it is. Now, providing an amalgam of cutting-edge science, philosophy, and theology, Cruz presents an outline of his findings. The search has brought more questions than answers. Finding the soul is in part so difficult because we take its existence for granted. But finding it and accepting it could change our lives forever.

Today, my dear Uncle Lou discovered whether or not we have a soul and if the journey that awaits us on the other side is as dark, mysterious or wonderful as his were on this often cruel material sphere.

As of now, I have no information regarding his final arrangements but the only thing that would be appropriate for this old sea dog would be a burial at sea.

And while nothing would make him happier, nothing would make my heart cry more than seeing the ashes of a great man becoming one with the ocean he so dearly loved.

Rest in peace, Uncle Lou. I love you and miss you, and will continue to write just as you told me to.