Others say alter-ego. Either way, Memphis Earlene Gray has been sharing her wisdom with Judith Podell, author of Blues for Beginners, for years. Memphis Earlene knows the blues -- as she says, "You don’t choose the Blues, they choose you."
Fortunately, like all celebrities, Memphis Earlene has her own blog where you can listen in on her conversations with Judith about what it means to be truly blues-worthy. She's got strong opinions on French wine, fancy shoes, even Paula Broadwell.
With a little coaxing, we think she'll do a guest blog soon. Meanwhile here's a sample:
Memphis Earlene Performs an Intervention
Goin to the Day Spa, sorry but I can’t take you/ Said I’m goin to the Day Spa, sorry that I can’t take you. Gone tell that Manicure Woman to paint my fingernails blue.
Memphis Earlene’s idea, not mine.
I reached for the bottle of Luminescent Beige, my usual, but she wouldn’t let me. Now my nails are the color of Santa Fe Gift Shop turquoise jewelry, which took some getting used to.
I don’t know what possessed me is something I say a lot.
"Brian and I were tenants in the same rundown Greenwich Village brownstone. His apartment was on the second floor, down the hall from mine. This was in 1972. Back then it seemed like everyone I knew got paid off the books, lived in an illegal sublet, or was having an affair with a married man. I was 23 and desperate to get into law school, which seemed my only chance to escape a life of moral drift and group therapy.
Brian often showed up in my dreams disguised as Governor Nelson Rockefeller or Supreme Court Justice William 0. Douglas, each of whom could have gotten me into law school on a phone call. In real life, Brian was 47, old enough to be my father. He thought The Greening of America was deep stuff. I forgave such a sentimental lapse because he was English, and I was in love with his ravaged face.
There was twenty years’ difference between the right side of Brian’s face, where all the stitches were, and the unlined left side. It was beautiful, like driftwood. He’d wrecked a car once, back in England, gone head first through the windshield and had to be put back together again.
I was in love with his voice, too; his English accent all weathered from years of New York City, and his gruff, matter of fact tenderness. He muttered endearments to his calico cat as he ground up the beans for his morning coffee. Old Bum, he used to call her, and made it sound sweeter than sweetheart...."
From "Unmentionable Acts with Shoes" Blues for Beginners: Stories and Obessions by Judith Podell
And that’s exactly what Judith Podell does in Blues for Beginners: Stories and Obsessions.
The title story, a riff on how to write the blues, struck such a familiar chord when it was originally published, it was instantly claimed by the world at large as something that somehow belonged to all of us.
Throughout the other nine stories, Podell continues to hit all the right notes -- whether she’s writing about Greenwich Village in the 70s or Washington, DC in the 80s, group therapy, bad boyfriends or sex in a fallout shelter -- she takes us back to a time when first jobs, like first loves, weren’t how we were going to spend the rest of our lives.
Check it out on Amazon or Smashwords.
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