Day 24: midwinter graces

A very wintry December morning


Church bells and icicles forming glad tidings on my lips . . .

I just bought Tori Amos’ very first seasonal album called Midwinter Graces (released November 10) and I am addicted to it.  From the moment I uncorked its first number called What Child, Nowell to the dark Our New Year, my spirit transformed into the Jon who stole Christmas.  It dawned on me how un-Christmasy I was feeling, with plugs of work stress and juggling writing and working – dreams and reality – visions and missions – until I started listening to this CD. I was hurriedly composed with my own thoughts about past Christmases that held meaning to me.  And we are talking years and years ago.

It did not just capture my much preferred theme for a Christmas album being darkly piano-driven, as if it gave birth just a few minutes after dusk, but it revised Amos’ original musical roots of strings, harpsichord, choir-melodies, horns and her Bosendorfer.  Listening to it is being in between the worlds of Under The Pink and Boys For Pele.  The yelp of harpsichord (something that she has abandoned since the 90s) and the heavy ducks of her piano work made me see myself walking in the wintry streets of England, eating candy and at the same time darting my eyes to the church with its agleamed people still singing Jesus carols, crazed and electrified at the same time.  Snow Angel and Pink and Glitter are songs that danced my displeasure with work and A Silent Night With You made me go to bed, hugged my pillow and smelled the sweet young lovers past.  It was a harsh departure to the months prior to December.  My favorite is Star of Wonder.  It is a great fusion of the classic hymn and Amos’ homey vocals and raw songwriting.  If you buy this cd, listen to Star of Wonder to a full volume, stand up and dance mindlessly, doing maestro hand gestures and just set a drift of being one of the Three Kings coming to Jesus’ manger!

This is an album worth listening to way until March, the prologue of spring.  As Tori Amos said in one interview, “The industry doesn’t necessarily support – nor does radio support some of these kind of classic compositions being written today, and so you have to transcend what popular culture is in the 21st century, and not be held hostage to that, and then go make a work that might not get played by anybody as far as commercial radio, but that couldn’t be my focus or concern. It had to be about making a record that is influenced by my classical music training and, also, with a nod to the great Big Band era.”

Buy it for its nimbleness and feel good darkly track lists.  Also, buy it for yourself.  It is a nice Christmas gift.

An even wintrier December afternoon


My friends and I were at Warehouse three days ago with its modish populace and spacey lights.  Over San Miguel Lites, Jose Cuervo and dreamy disconnections, we thumped to the greenish quiescence of lights and Prada colognes.  DJ I Love Dubai mapped his music to a dimension of the 90s and current waves of old school house and techno coalesced wickedly.  I specially liked it and grooved to madness when in the middle of his choleric repertoire, Arrested Development came up.  And so did Michael Jackson.  It was vehemently delicious.

I attended the opening of the Warehouse with Gracie in late March of this year before she passed away.  It was one of our last gimmicks together.  I did not come to Warehouse for a while, dowsed in denial of my friend’s death, but when I came back a few months later and particularly, 3 nights ago, it brought me a forbearance that combined the sassy and the mercurial.  A part of me agreed on the same old same old characterization of the bar.  I would not even call it a Warehouse attitude.  Its vivacity was something you see in almost any bar in Dubai but what I like about it is its vitality in creating a do-what-you-may dance floor in every corner of the room.  Symmetrically designed to a full stage access of the DJ, the demigod, the interstate beverage bar that is swarmed with neon glass ornamentation and the right of passage being genre-less, Warehouse took the trophy for feathered and sequined bearing.

I will come back to Warehouse with my friends but I am secretly planning a date with myself there one of these days.  Alone.

Midwinter graces.



I met the bassist of Soda Pop that same night.

Intoxicated gladly, the troupe walked to Jules Bar which was adjacent to Warehouse for a final round of drinks and probably for some laughter. I was in bad need of oxygen after the chaotic milieu at Warehouse but still parched for some more beer.

We got what we needed at Jules Bar.  Our last round of drinks and roars of laughter from the band front liners, Almar and RR, who are fabulous comedians, and shots of mainstream music.  I was pampering my drunken state when suddenly my guzzled self caught a toothsome smile from the band’s bassist.  It was a smile that can light up the entire Dubai!  I may have splashed cold water on my face, had that happened in real life, because my focus swiftly cleared and I was sobered up to perfection.  Or I have gone bananas to perfection.  I was not really sure.

Bassist guy became The Crush.

Crush.  What a trite word.  I think the last time I used it was when I was in freshman year in college, when block sections were such loony bins and that for each class, your sole inspiration was seeing your crush walk in and you ogle stupidly the whole time.  Goosebumps.  Anyway, The Crush, with his corny smile and mesmeric human form rocked my already-sober self throughout my self-confessed decadence.  Also, I have always liked the bass guitar but I could not  measure up my adoration to it that night.  It was simply devil worship!

After the gig, we were introduced and I suddenly felt drunk again.  I wondered how I spoke the whole 15 minutes that we were getting acquainted.  Ecstatic as I was, did my saliva landed on his face unknowingly?  Did I say the right things?  How did I look, disoriented and purple and all, that time with all the uncompromising lights ablazed as they do when bars close?  All these questions I ask now being back on earth, three days later.

And then I remembered us exchanging numbers and me texting him 3 minutes after we parted ways.  I think I wrote something like, “Do text me OK?  It was a pleasure meeting you at last,”  At last?!? It was our first meeting!  I may have been transported to my cuckoo central which was defined as Total Wreckedness or to put it simply, possessed by a very very bad spirit!  I did not know what kind of poison I had that night but it made me artless, stupid and so freshmanly.

The next day, I called my friend Archie to confirm his girl prospect.  It was another matchmaking that I was doing to make the world a better place.  He picked up and before he can even say hello, I inroaded my famous greeting, “Motherfucker, I was talking to you the whole day, why are you not confirming?  I already told the girl that we are moving forward to this . . . ”

“Hello?”  Archie said, quite baffled with my Margaret Thatcher tone and sacrilegious vernacular.

” . . . hello yourself, I wanted to get this done and over with.  Are we . . . “


“Yes it is me, gago, why are you . . . ”

“Jon it is . . . ”


“It is The Crush.  You may have dialled the wrong number,”

I fell on the floor and died.

Midwinter disaster.


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