Saturday, August 24, 2013

Diff'rent Stroke

"I was born with eyesight,
Blinded by the light."

"If you got the music inside
A miracle is on the way."

So much has happened since my last blog. It's a peaceful Saturday morning, listening to the Jackson 5, and I'm kicking back with a cuppa Harrod's Blend 49 that I picked up on my British tour. Not too posh, really. I'm off of my favorite green stuff (TWG's Polo Club) for a month or two, but more on that later....

In music news: Huckleberry Finn has been submitted in various categories for the upcoming 56th Grammy Awards. It's just the beginning of the entry process; but we can be cheerful simply for that. It was also entered into the UK Music Video Awards whose vetting process has just begun as well. These are just the entry steps, but as EPMD said, "like Lotto, you have to be in it to win it."

To date the video has been viewed 2253 times on YouTube and I thank you one and all for watching it, sharing it and most of all enjoying it. It is gratifying, knowing that Andrew Shuford and I have crafted a piece that you all find entertaining. Please continue to share it.

Listening to the past to look forward, tunes from my album A Talent For Loving make up the song score for a brand new independent feature film directed by Matty Castano, a black comedy called The Death Together.  Click the title for the trailer; parental guidance suggested. The Death Together will be making festival rounds soon. The movie gets its premier in Las Vegas in September; sadly, I won't be able to travel to be there. Why you ask? I thought you never would...

In highly personal news: God is great and provided this fool with a miracle. I am truly humbled by the grace that visited my family this month. The Holy Spirit was with me in a hectic week in which my mind was wracked and wrecked but needed the strength to persevere to serve Him.

I suffered a mild stroke (although, is there anything mild about any stroke?) a few days after my triumphant show and video release on July 30. The sensation was like a javelin of bright yellow light exploding through the right side of my head; as if my eye and the sun became one. A headache of epic proportions. The stroke went undiagnosed and untreated for nearly a fortnight.

For those of you who follow me on social media, you may have thought I was joking about my Dick Clark Getaway. I was actually admitted into the Kari and Dick Clark Neuroscience Unit at Providence St. Joseph's in Burbank where the staff and care was simply topnotch. It was a God-given miracle that I was seen, no pun intended, by ophthalmologist, Dr. Suhas Tuli, on Monday August 12. She was the one who rightly spotted my wonky eye and named names. I exhibited Horner's Syndrome; where one pupil is significantly smaller than the other, kind of David Bowie in reverse, along with a droopy eyelid. Dr. Tuli knew that I was not getting enough blood flow to the right side of my optic nerves and brain and shipped me over to the ER.

So when I was admitted to hospital, the neurosurgeon, the vascular surgeon, the neurologist, the floor doctor, the ER doctor, the charge nurse, the duty nurses... they all wanted to see my pupils and see me do the stroke test exercises, because they almost never see Horner's Syndrome before that person suffers a massive stroke. If that is how I can pay it forward, Lord; if my jacked up David Bowie pupils can be a learning tool for healthcare professionals, let it be. I know how blessed I am in all of this. All of the other patients in the stroke telemetry unit were strapped down and attached to machines and immobile, if they weren't otherwise paralyzed or literally speechless. I was probably the only stroke victim in the ward able to stand up and walk to use the loo on his own. And if you take that for granted you are a double-drag fool.

No surgery was involved. The carotid artery on the right is too delicate; the left side compensated and found other pathways to do enough heavy lifting. So it's the left hand side, meds and my continued healthy living going forward. It was all my cardio workouts and the good Lord that kept me upright.  I got to do several dips in the big, whirling, radiating machines that you see in the movies and on TV. I cannot recommend the experience for anyone. For all you friends who like to live your Hollywood experience vicariously through me, please feel free to live this one through me, too.

"Different strokes for different folks
And so on and so on and scooby dooby dooby."

Strokes come in all shapes and sizes, like we do. Learn what the signs are; you really can save a life or the quality of a life for someone post-stroke! I exhibited severe unilateral headache. There have been some major changes to my diet: no kale, spinach, green tea, Brussels sprouts, sigh... All the stuff that kids hate, that I like, I can't eat now. Boo! Boo!

However, God is great. I have no speech loss, no vision loss, my motor skills are intact. I can play my guitar. I can walk, although my pace is slower. It's like I'm living in my music video. Life imitating art. I do have my fine oak cane to help with moments of balance dips and to keep from being knocked over by unwitting strangers and errant kids - I bruise like a grape; and for style points. There is the wheel chair for long hauls, when I'm going for distance. You were wondering how we staged those photos at the Huntington!

When I am outdoors, I'm quite photo sensitive and a little depth deficient. Indoors, the computer screen is a bit much. I have a thick headache and the stroke hit my memory bank. And the stroke hit my memory bank. Being mindful of the alternatives, these are manageable challenges.

I saved enough boxtops and got my Medalert necklace. It's very stylish. For someone who doesn't wear a lot of bling, it's cool to show the world my list of pharmaceuticals. Strictly OG. This along with my very strict timing of meals and meds makes me feel (a little) geriatric. Just a little.

"Can I get a witness?
Said, can I get a witness?"

In Good news: I have been lifted up in so many prayers, I could never thank you all enough. I pray for your good health and many blessings right back at you. God has blessed me and my wife so much. My Missus has been my rock through all of this; and I cannot imagine what kind of stress this has been for her. I am so thankful for her (When you see us now, we are truly Beauty and the Beast with her luxurious tresses and my no-shave look). I would not have survived the week without her.

Had my stroke remained undiagnosed, who knows how much more calamitous this month would have been for our family. Our faith and our gratitude has not been tested, it has been strengthened by this and we are encouraged by all of the faithful people and angels surrounding us. I wake up each morning thankful for the Lord and his encouragement to face each day with grace and gratitude. Every moment is a gift and word is bond.

I received wonderful cards, bouquets, brain games, a vegan casserole (!), and good books for reading and restoration. I had some great visits while I was in hospital and now at home, too. Thank you, all. I do have to shout out to Phillip M. for a really unique get-well gift: a vintage 12" vinyl of Radio Clash. Mind blowing, even if my mind hadn't already been blown. This is one of my 20 favorite recordings of all time and I'd been crate digging for it for years.

As you may surmise, there is a longer version of this tale to tell, so I won't bore you with it here. When you have time for tea, put a quarter in the jukebox and I'll give you the 411. Strokes are no joke, but I can laugh about mine. I used to think I was invincible; then I lived ten days beyond a stroke, because God said so. I led worship, I spoke in public, I learned a song on guitar in 30 minutes and sang it before the congregation, I went to work, I walked the dog, I did my chores. But I needed to slow... the.. @#$% ... down. I needed to ... chill ... the ... @#$% ... out. Hallelujah. Jesus is just alright with me. As my friend James would say, #PTL

So what's the prognosis? God only knows. My right eye still looks and feels like I've been punched. My status is day-to-day. But as they say on ESPN, aren't we all? I'm going to keep on singing, keep on living, keep on talking, keep on loving God and my family and my friends and my crazy dog. I will return to the stage eventually. The vocal approach may change, but that will be part of our adventure, wont it?


Friday, August 09, 2013

Breaking News: Entered - UKMVAs

What a week in music news. Here's a rundown of the surreal and sublime.

Huckleberry Finn has been officially entered into the UK Music Video Awards 13 to be awarded on Oct. 28. Entered, not to be confused with nominated or shortlisted; but this is where it begins!

Judging and voting will begin later this month, with the final shortlists unveiled in October. The event will celebrate the very best of British and international music videos and the talent behind them at a brand new venue for 2013: the Southbank Centre in London.

Grammy submissions are ongoing this month. So I will be submitting this year's work for the upcoming round. I am thankful for the opportunities to enter contests and festivals. I'm very excited about sharing my work with more and more people.

First Post in India has once again been at the vanguard of a video release of mine. It's very cool to see that international outlets are paying attention. I'm very proud of this song (and video) and I will gladly go to Mumbai or New Delhi to play it for the fans there.

Tomorrow night, I am going to attend the Willie Nelson concert at the Hollywood Bowl. He will be performing his classic LP, Stardust in its entirety. I'm looking forward to that! Lyle Lovett is the opener. Last year, I saw one show at the Bowl, Glen Campbell. It was good for the soul.

Sunday, in the silliest news, it's the Dodgers and the Rays at Chavez Ravine. This means, after seeing Tampa Bay, that I will have seen every major league baseball team take the field in person. Trivial, but fun for a kid who was raised on box scores.

Thank you for the good vibes and have a beautiful weekend. Please continue to share Huckleberry Finn with your friends and family. We should be at 2000 views before the end of the day!


Friday, August 02, 2013

Summertime Jam Called Huckleberry Finn Hits 1500

Thank you, everyone for your continued love and support for Huckleberry Finn. We have exceeded 1500 views on YouTube in under 4 days. Gadzooks!

Thank you to everyone who is sharing the video. And a special nod to the Mark Twain Author page on Facebook who lent their kind words and shared it with their half-a-milliion followers.

Please continue to share and spread the word about your new groove for Summertime.