Saturday, 28 March 2015

Jolene: A Queer Perspective

This morning my Facebook feed contained a song link with this comment from Simon, an old friend of mine:

"A classic C&W song slowed down 25%. You might almost call it "The Revenge Of The Altos"... It's soulful, it's thoughtful, and for me it cuts through the sickly syrup of a modern Christmas. Enjoy."

Original deleted: here's a similar version - https://youtu.be/CMrfM711vXI

I responded:

"Simon, thank you so much for sharing this. I love the Dolly original. Slowing down the track, alters her voice to a more manly version which totally shatters the sexual dynamic of the tale; a fresh take on the eternal triangle"
Both my parents were into Country & Western music across the spectrum; although I do not recall either being particular fans of Dolly, with the exception of "Love is Like a Butterfly". Somehow or other, presumably from some show or other I heard "Jolene" and even as a boy was struck by the singer's terrifying  potential loss. No-one wants to lose someone they love.


This masculine-sounding rendering had me pondering whether any men had actually produced a version of Dolly Parton's "Jolene".


Regrettably, I am of an age where I am no longer musically literate nor up-to-date with much of popular culture, so all the versions I shall post below are by musicians, of whom I personally have never heard. In other words, I have not selected these versions for any ulterior motive. They are the takes that took me for some reason or other.

To whittle down the numerous versions of "Jolene" to the few listed here, I had to wade through some dire productions, dreadful line-dancing videos and shocking karaokes.

This first cover has an emotional delivery and a guitar-playing that had Simon filled with lust - not that kind:

"*converts self into electron stream, sneaks onto YouTube and Tunes. His. Damn. Guitar.* "



The White Stripes were a Detroit husband & wife duo. As far as I know, Jim White is straight. Nonetheless, he conveys the universality of the sentiment contained within Dolly Parton's lyric: the fear of losing a loved one to another suitor.


The lead in this next clip is a woman, but the duet is with a hirsute, bearded bloke, with the addition of three other menfolk, so I have included it within my remit. I have to admit the bands name, The Little Willies, also had something to do with me selecting it!


Can just imagine being in a night-club, sipping a whisky sour & enjoying this live. Ahhh, daydreams…

In contrast the next example is from an all-male quartet. This version makes me feel all eighties and brooding teenage angsty again - those were the days! Here goes, seat-belts on for Sisters of Mercy from 1983.



https://youtu.be/AdUHxFKCQBs

Men singing this track switches the sexual dynamic from purely heterosexual to queer,  depending on the character: (bisexual or) homosexual - singer; bisexual - man; or, heterosexual (or bisexual) - Jolene. In 1983, at the height of the AIDS panic, this sensibility would have been subversive.

Similarly, in current homophobic Poland, the song sung solo by a young man on a music television programme (program), Mam Talent III, can be perceived as a public declaration of homosexual love and a potentially seditious act. Here Piotr Lisiecki sings live and at a galloping pace:



Original video now deleted; but a similar version can be found here: https://youtu.be/7XF-oS9Dak4?list=PL1D802CC2B00383E1

Piotr eventually went on to produce an album which contained by far the most intimate version I have come across: it's almost unsettling, as if one is overhearing a private discussion. Well worth a listen!



This next one definitely had me laughing. West Coast meets hill-billy with a punk twist - ha, ha, ha! Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Me first and the gimme gimmes singing "Jolene":



https://youtu.be/fBoTwOTKw0I?list=LLLwW4URJ5QNeofCbyooBTKg

And whilst talking of laughter, every time I watch this clip or the actual episode from American Dad, Steve's expression cracks me up! Go Roger!


On to another TV version. I am not impressed with the final Samuel Larsen version that made the GLEE album; on the other hand this audition is perfectly well executed, if a tad soulless perhaps?


Certainly Samuel's androgynous appearance, in clothing, hair and his epicene features adds a gender-bending hue.

It really seems that "Jolene" is now a worldwide staple of talent shows whether in Poland or in the USA (and later in this post even the UK). The following had me horripilating: the power, the gusto, the emotion of Dolly and re-interpreted as his own. Cody Belew performed this for The Voice in the States. Fabbo!


And yet again never heard of this guy: this final male version by Matt Cardle (apparently of X-Factor fame) had me sobbing and rapidly soggying tissues. Really powerful version. What a voice & totally live!


Matt "is known for his falsetto and being able to reach notes typically unusual for a male singer" according to Wikipedia. A voice that takes us full circle from Dolly with her delightful, slowed-down manly voice to Matt with his awesome, womanly voice.

Of course, this blog-post would be incomplete without the original Dolly version. However, here it is with a twist…


The clever juxtapositioning of Sherlock characters, Watson (singer), Holmes (man) and Moriarty (Jolene) with Dolly's version along with some very judicious editing of shots from season 2 finale The Reichenbach Fall are perfectly combined to create a purely queer melodrama.

It is quite clear that the song has resonance across the musical spectrum from rock to lullaby amongst both professional and amateur singers. A testament to Dolly Parton's word-smithing.


****

I have had to update as of 28th March 2015 as so many links had broken or videos had been deleted. Any problems with the links in future, do let me know and I can then try to rectify. Cheers, "Jolene" lovers! %)

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Maracas 3: Reseña de la comida (español)

Esta es la tercera parte de mi tríptico sobre el café-bar Maracas en Playa Bil-Bil: aquí se revisan las ofertas de comida. La primera parte consiste en un homenaje fotográfico y una viñeta humorística. La segunda parte es un himno a todos los camareros de todas partes a través del retrato de mi camarero habitual.

He estado frecuentando Maracas durante trece años - ¡aye, cómo pasa el tiempo! Tengo muchos, muchos recuerdos felices, incluyendo las comidas que he comido aquí. ¡Soy un entusiasta después de todo! He traído a todos mis amigos (que me han visitado en Benalmádena) para probar los placeres simples del sol, la arena y el susurro tranquilo del mar en la comodidad de una de las sillas de ratán de Maracas, mientras se toman una bebida fría y, a menudo disfrutan de un aperitivo o aún un plato completo.

Como he estado visitando Maracas durante tantos años, es poco probable en este artículo hable mal de la comida; todo lo contrario, por el precio y la calidad, comer aquí es lo recomendado. Por supuesto, no estamos hablando de la alta cocina. Sin embargo, después de haber comido en varios de los restaurantes frente al mar en la Playa Santa Ana (muy popular entre los turistas), en los que me he sentido completamente defraudado por caro, y, desde mi perspectiva de conocer mejor, la cocina de mala calidad. A modo de ejemplo, el año pasado pagué € 6 sólo por una ensalada verde de lechuga picada y rodajas de pepino. Una barbaridad en mi opinión. Sé que las empresas tienen que ganarse la vida: Maracas, por lo tanto, debe servir como un modelo. El año pasado “Maracas”, la ensalada de la casa, llevaba lechuga verde, maíz dulce, tomate, cebolla, espárrago blanco, huevo duro y atún y tenía un muy buen precio de € 7. Lo dice todo, ¿no es así? Por supuesto, con la inflación, etc., los precios tienen que subir de vez en cuando. A principios de este mes, los precios efectivamente suben. Así que la ensalada de la casa (junto con otros) ahora cuesta € 8. Y cualquiera que piense que la ensalada no puede saciar a uno, debo señalar que las ensaladas se sirven en tazones grandes y con una cestita de pan fresco.

Para aquellos que sólo quieren un bocadillo rápido, te recomiendo el sándwich mixto, jamón cocido, queso en rodajas y pan tostado con mantequilla. Al precio de € 3 esto no se ha encarecido. Con una copa de vino tinto frío (si no has probado esto, es bastante refrescante - ¡incluso los franceses lo hacen!) El costo total es de € 5. Uno no puede quejarse en eso.

Si el comensal está especialmente hambriento, el campero es tu opción; pero mejor que pedir para compartir.

Debido a los aumentos de precios, los menús se han encarecido. El chef en Maracas ha aprovechado la ocasión para añadir nuevos platos. Siempre dispuesto a probar algo nuevo, he optado por la ensalada pasta tricolor. La fotografía de abajo da una impresión de la taza, pero no bastante como para mostrar el plato en su plenitud. Como puede verse, una copa de vino rosado frío acompañó a la comida.

[Descripción de la imagen: ensalada pasta tricolor en la mesa]

Comenzando a las siete en punto, tacos finamente picados de un jamón ligeramente ahumado, despiertan el paladar. A las doce, las aceitunas negras jugosas, fuertes y picantes, con sabor de té fuerte; felizmente desafian al jamón. No soy fan de las aceitunas negras; pero si pudiera obtener un suministro de estos, las consumiría de buen grado. A las tres en punto, dados cremosos (tanto en sabor y textura), siempre tan levemente salado, de queso fresco con la espiga de queso de cabra. También había una dulzura en el queso, que contrastaba magníficamente con la salinidad de las aceitunas. A las cinco, el maíz dulce brilla perfecto. Tan jugoso que, aunque no fue a la barbacoa, tenía el mismo dulzor y sabor concentrados y intensos. En el centro del reloj están las piezas de pollo con la aparición de queso amarillo-blanco desmenuzado o pan blanco rallado. Increíblemente jugoso y con sabor a pollo real (¿cuánto pollo se ha encontrado que es completamente sin sabor, después de todo?). Y detrás de la cara del reloj, la pasta, cocida y servida al dente. Los colores del verde (sabio) y rojo (melocotón) que recuerda a tonos sepia. Una paleta impresionante para el paladar.

Existe una variedad de aderezos para ensaladas, incluyendo: rosa; francesa; cesa; yogur; yo he optado por la salsa de albahaca. Incluso en los llamados "buenos" restaurantes la ensalada puede estar aderezada excesivamente; esta salsa sin embargo tenía un toque muy ligero y por lo tanto conjugaba perfectamente con todos los otros ingredientes.

Mis únicas críticas negativas del plato son respecto a la pasta: la textura era un poco almidonada; y, no sé apreciaban los sabores del tomate o la albahaca en sus respectivas pastas. Esto puede ser por llevar cocida y después haber sido refrigerada; pero en un clima caliente, esto es más bien una necesidad. No obstante, sobre todo, la ensalada es un éxito definitivo y se pide de nuevo. ¡Disfruta!

[Descripción de la imagen: sándwich club de playa en la mesa]

No puedo terminar mi opinión sin hacer referencia a mi plato favorito de Maracas (ver imagen superior), su sandwich club, que consiste en ensalada, jamón, queso, huevo, pollo y tocino. A € 7 representa una comida abundante para uno. Y es ¡¡¡ de-li-cioso !!! %P



Monday, 23 March 2015

Maracas 3: Food Review (inglés)

This is part three of my triptych on Maracas café-bar on Playa Bil-Bil: here I review the food offerings. Part one consists of a photographic homage and a humorous vignette. Part two is a paean to all waiters everywhere by way of portraying my regular.

I have been frequenting Maracas for thirteen years now - my, how time flies! I have many, many happy memories, including of the meals I have eaten here. I am a foodie after all! I have brought all my friends (who visit me in Benalmádena) to sample the simple joys of sun, sand and the calming susurrus of the sea in the comfort of one of Maracas’ rattan lounge-chairs, whilst sipping on a cooling beverage and, more often than not, indulging in a snack or even full meal.

As I have been visiting Maracas for so many years, I am unlikely in this article to be castigating the food; quite the opposite, for the price and quality, eating here is to be recommended. Of course, we are not talking haute cuisine. However, having eaten at several of the sea-front restaurants on the popular Playa Santa Ana, I have felt completely short-changed by expensive, and, from my perspective of knowing better, poor quality cuisine. As an example, last year I paid €6 just for a green salad of some roughly chopped lettuce and sliced cucumber. Pretty outrageous in my opinion. I know businesses have to make a living: Maracas, therefore, should serve as an exemplar. Last year Maracas’ house salad of green lettuce, sweetcorn, tomato, onion, white asparagus, boiled egg and tuna was priced at €7. It says it all, does it not? Of course, with inflation etc., prices have to go up from time to time. At the beginning of this month, prices did indeed rise. So the house salad (along with their others) now costs €8. And anyone thinking, salad will not sate one, I ought to point out that the salads are served in large bowls and come with a small basket of fresh bread.

For those just wanting a quick snack, I recommend the sandwich mixto, boiled ham, sliced cheese on buttered and toasted bread. At €3 this has not become more expensive. With a glass of chilled red wine (if you have not tried this, it is quite refreshing - even the French do it!) the total cost is €5. One cannot complain at that!

If the diner is especially hungry, the campero is for you; but better to order it to share. That is, after all, the Spanish way.

Due to the price increases, the menus have been reprinted. The chef at Maracas has taken the opportunity to add new dishes. Always willing to sample something new, I opted for the ensalada pasta tricolor (tricolour pasta salad - bet you worked that one out for yourself!). The photograph below gives an impression of the bowl, but does not quite show the full 3-D mound of comestibles. As can be seen, a glass of rosé (copa de rosado frío) accompanied the repast.

[Image description: ensalada pasta tricolor in situ at table]

Commencing at seven o’clock, finely diced cubes of a lightly smoked, firm ham (a tastier version of luncheon meat!) awoke the palate. At twelve, roughly sliced, juicy, tangy, with a strong-tea-taste black olives quite happily challenged the ham. I am no fan of black olives; but if I could obtain a ready supply of these, I would be a convert. At three o’clock dice-sized cubes of firm, creamy (both in taste and texture), ever so slightly salted “queso fresco” cheese with the tang of goats cheese. There was also a sweetness to the cheese, which contrasted superbly against the saltiness of the olives. At five o’clock sweetcorn shone forth all its brilliant, perfect yellowness. It was so very juicy and, although it was not barbecued it had that selfsame concentrated, intense sweetness and flavour. In the clock’s centre were chicken pieces - morsels really - with the appearance of crumbled white-yellow cheese or white-bread breadcrumbs. Incredibly moist and with actual chicken flavour (how much chicken does one encounter that is completely flavourless, after all?). And behind the clock-face, the pasta, cooked and served al dente so did not collapse or go all soggy. Colours of green (sage) and red (peach) reminiscent of sepia tones. A stunning palette for the palate.

There is a choice of salad dressings, including: rosa/marie rose; francesa/French; cesa/cæsar; yogur/yoghourt; I opted for salsa de albahaca/basil sauce. Even in so-called ‘good’ restaurants salad can be over-dressed; this salsa however had a very light touch and thus perfectly pulled together all the other ingredients.

My only negative criticisms of the dish are in respect to the pasta: the texture was slightly too starchy; and, there were no discernible flavours of tomato or basil in their respective pastas. This may be accounted for by it having been chilled; but in a hot climate, this is rather a necessity. Nonetheless, over all, the salad is a definite success and I shall be ordering it again. It is also suitable for sharing - the Spanish way is for everyone to just tuck in. Enjoy!

[Image description: sandwich beach club in situ at table]


I could not end my review without referencing my favourite Maracas plate (see image above), their sandwich beach club, consisting of salad, ham, cheese, egg, chicken and bacon. At €7 it represents a filling meal for one. And it is de-lic-ious!!! %P


[¡Una versión española hará pronto!]


Friday, 20 March 2015

Maracas 2: Portrait of my Camarero / Retrato de mi camarero (bilingüe)

Whilst thinking about what I could write about in respect to Maracas, it suddenly struck me that I really ought to eulogise the people who serve me day in day out without a complaint and usually with a smile. Over the years I have been served by several different regular waiters. However, the sensible course was to write about he who is before me each and every day at this current time.

Mientras que pensar en lo que podría escribir con respecto a Maracas, de repente me di cuenta de que realmente debo elogiar la gente que me sirven día a día sin una queja y por lo general con una sonrisa. Con los años me han servido por varios camareros diferentes regulares. Sin embargo, el curso sensato era escribir sobre el que está delante de mí todos los días en este momento actual.

The English version contains several puns and (hopefully) humorous allusions. Regrettably my Spanish is not sufficiently expert to be able to do a translation justice. Nonetheless, I hope the humour does come through in the Spanish version.

La versión en inglés contiene varios juegos de palabras y (con suerte) alusiones humorísticas. Lamentablemente mi español no es lo suficientemente experto para poder hacer justicia a una traducción. No obstante, espero que el humor viene a través de la versión española.

I deliberately use the word 'portrait' as I am attempting to use words to paint as full a picture as possible; not only physical aspects, but hopefully a more holistic perspective. Of course, words can never replace let alone fully describe. I hope you the reader, the staff at Maracas, waiters (past or present) everywhere, but especially Manu, appreciate my efforts. If not, the fault is mine.

Deliberadamente uso la palabra 'retrato' como que estoy tratando de usar palabras para pintar una imagen lo más completa posible; no sólo los aspectos físicos, pero es de esperar una perspectiva más holística. Por supuesto, las palabras nunca pueden sustituir ni mucho menos totalmente describir. Espero que el lector, el personal de Maracas, camareros (pasados o presentes) por todas partes, pero especialmente Manu, agradezco a mis esfuerzos. Si no, la culpa es mía.

































Portrait of my Camarero


my camarero
Manu
in black
  externally
     top to toe
performs
  a quotidian ballet
trim physique
  good structure
  bones slender
dancers’ poise
skin tanned
  spotless complexion
manicured stubble
  embellishes
     each cheek
  vaguely
     moustachioed
at times moue
but mostly
radiating warmth
  whether to
     heteros
     lesbos
     bis or gays
hockey-stick
  eyebrows
     arch inquisitively
below an almost imperceptible
  concave brow
     so young
  no furrow
     (Botox of youth)
orbs moreno
  orange-flecked
  held in his gaze
with pink lips
  spades-shaped
     mouth forms 
genuine smiles
  revealing
ivory pegs
leporidic incisors
  concealing
a rosy tongue
  supporting
lilting tenor
  masculine timbre
left nostril
  ringed faintly
of a slight
  narrow nose
unblemished otherwise
good posture
body in motion
  elongates
     a stretch
     underwear's
     silvery band
     underscores
  his sacrum
     faint hairs
     on pearly flesh
     direct to derrière
     where palms wipe
     salt, sweat and
     condensation
  his navel
     wispy line
     demarkation
     to no-man’s-land
opening
  safe passage
     to glide through air
making space
  where none is there
torso static
plumb belly
  straight down
to a standard package
  dressing
     neither to the left
     nor to the right
     unusually
     straight down
     though to the right
     when
     Belén
     is around
arms muscled
  hairy
  naturally
     down they hang
  or
elbows perpendicular
  creating locomotion
  unrehearsed dance
movement
tray in hirsute left hand
  balanced on fingertips
proffers with his
  now healed wrist
     his right
hips twist
  and swing
shapely
  palm-sized
  buttocks
  exact mid-point
  of corporeal entity
     quiver
     alternately
in the turn
  of muscular thighs
down to white flesh
  hairless ankles
standing true
straight back
flat neck
  just the slightest curve
  mole’d nape
  kissing-spot
  or marker for
neatly clipped coiffure
on a lean head
from broad shoulders
upper-right
  tattooed arm
     Hawaiian flower
     Death’s skull
     familial allusion
     contemporary
     heraldry
as to his mission
labour’s motto
to serve
  to collect
  to clean
  tables laid
  all in his sight
  are watered
  and fed
well-practiced
everything done
  serenely
with clean hands
  neatly
  clipped nails
acts with aplomb
  never frayed
  exuding calm
occasionally
  passes the time
  of day
  or early evening
listening
  to tourists’ tales
consummate
  professional
waiter mine
*
speedy relocation
no time to stare
habitués ignore
  your
  daily pants’ stains
*
hiatus beckons
unconventionality
  or individuality
     lime-green
     mobile
     dayglo-green
     Calvin Klein’s
alters mode
metrosexuality
  wanes
atavistic machismo
conventional
  heterosexuality
     re-asserts
now in heat
  even sitting
     simian carriage
voice deepens to bass
still
  in his mien
  compassion remains
  love for beautiful Belén
     a potential marriage
*
you knock on wood
  but not to the beat
  of the current tune
     nervous tic
     frustration
     or ennui?
*
¡Olé!
camarero
el señor está aquí
in the house of bread
I’ll see you again
  with my order
     very soon…




Retrato de mi camarero


mi camarero
Manu
en negro
  externamente
     de pies a cabeza
realiza
  un ballet cotidiano
físico en forma
  buena estructura
  huesos delgados
aplomo del bailarín
piel bronceada
  tez inpecable
barba incipiente cuidada
  embellece
     cada mejilla
  vagamente
     con bigote
a veces hay un mohín
pero sobre todo
radiando cordialidad
  si
     heteros
     lesbianas
     bisexuales o gays
palos de hockey
  sus cejas
     arquee inquisitivamente
por debajo de un casi imperceptible
  frente cóncava
     tan joven
  sin surco
     (Botox de la juventud)
orbes morenos
  moteados de naranja
  fijado en su mirada
con labios rosas
  en forma de espadas
     la boca 
sonrisas genuinas
  revelando
dientes marfiles
incisivos leporinos
  ocultan
una lengua rosáfea
  apoyando
un tenor cadencioso
  timbre masculino
fosa nasal izquierda
  anillada débilmente
de una ligera
  nariz estrecha
sin mancha de otro modo
buena postura
cuerpo en movimiento
  se alarga
     un estirar
     calzoncillos
     elástico plateado
     subraya
  su sacro
     cabellos apenas visibles
     en carne perlada
     indica los pompis
     donde las palmas limpian
     sal, sudor y
     condensación
  su ombligo
     linéa rala
     demarcación
     al terrano de nadie 
abriendo
  paso seguro
  para deslizarse a través del aire
haciendo espacio
  donde no hay
torso estático
vientre a plomo
  hacia abajo
a un paquete estándar
  se cayendo
     ni a la izquierda
     ni a la derecha
     extraordinariamente
     hacia abajo
     aunque a la derecha
     cuando
     Belén
     está por él
brazos musculosos
  peludo
  naturalmente
     cuelgan abajo
  o
codos perpendiculares
  creando locomoción
  baile improvisado
movemiento
bandeja en la mano izquierda hirsuta
  equilibrio mantenido sobre los puntos
profiere con su
  muñeca ahora sanada
     la derecha
caderas giran
  y oscilan
bien proporcionadas
  tamaño de la palma
  nalgas
  punto medio exacto
  de entidad corpórea
     vibran
     alternativamente
en el giro
  de muslos musculares
abajo hasta carne blanca
  tobillos sin pelo
a pie derecho
espalda recta
cuello plana
  sólo una curva lo más leve
  nuca con lunar
  lugar para besar
  o marcador para
peinado recortado pulcramente
sobre una cabeza flaca
de hombros anchos
superior derecha
  brazo tatuado
     flor hawaiana
     cráneo de la Muerte
     alusión familiar
     contemporánea
     heráldica
en cuanto a su misión
lema de la mano de obra
para servir
  para recoger
  para limpiar
  mesas establecidas
  todos en su ámbito
  regados
  y alimentados
bien practicado
todo lo hecho
  tranquilamente
con manos limpias
  cuidosamente
  uñas recortadas
actúa con aplomo
  nunca crispado
  exudando calma
de vez en cuando
  pasa el tiempo
  del día
  o de la tarde
escuchando
  a los cuentos de los turistas
consumado
  profesional
camarero mío
*
movilidad rápida
no hay tiempo para mirar
habituales ignoran
  tus
  manchas de pantalón diarias
*
hiato atrae
no convencionalismo
  o individualidad
     verde lima
     móvil
     verde fosforescente
     Calvin Kleins
altera el modo
metrosexualidad
  mengua
machismo atávico
convencional
  heterosexualidad
     reafirma
ahora en celo
  incluso sentado
     actitud simiesca
voz profundiza al bajo
todavía
  en su semblante
  compasión permanece
  el amor a bella Belén
     un matrimonio potencial
*
te tocas madera
  pero no al ritmo
  de la melodía actual
     tic nervioso
     frustración
     o hastió?
*
¡Olé!
camarero
el señor está aquí
en la casa del pan
Te veré de nuevo
  con mí orden
     muy pronto