Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Lillian Lopez is around the corner but not here

This is a meandering post. Of thoughts from one occurence.

I think I was late to hear of the death of Lillian Lopez of Odyssey, over a month ago. Mid October I heard. And I cried that night.


But, kind of no. I was not so late to hear of the lady's death. I remember I saw a news report headline as I was rushing to close the computer down, rushing out somewhere or something, and I thought, "Who's that?", bored, but honest, strangely sure this meant nothing to me. But I questioned that and it was not accurate. It was from a strange land, and I questioned why I would think it then. The stubborn thought remained and instantly I was brought back to studying philosophy and the very confusing stuff dealt with seriously, pertaining to the very core of existence, consciousness and identity, such as, "How does one know a thought belongs to one, is made by one?" (In my course this had the taught suggestion which really was the philosophers' conclusion, that "Essentially, one doesn't. Ever.")

But part of my subconscious was crying at this same time, a part my active conscious was not linked to. And I still persevered "Who's that? I can't remember any Lillian Lopez. I know not that name." A split second later I saw "of Odyssey", and I thought, quicker than an electrical impulse from the mid body, "No, it couldn't be. I couldn't handle that." I really couldn't. My whole being changed, quickly again, not as quickly though. I changed my orientation, how my consciousness was. I seemed involuntarily to pretend I was someone else, to get by, because something wouldn't materialise perhaps. It was very strange. I wouldn't normally allow myself to do that, and would consider it Sartrean bad faith and would loathe myself if I would ever do something like that - pretend something other than the great, bare truth (whatever on earth it was, however horrible, blindingly brilliant or emotive). And so I would never, ever, kind of on pain of bridge jumping, let myself do that, if I could choose.

Then I lost this, in my aging state, I couldn't place the name with the lady. I couldn't believe she is dead, this lady whom my active conscious couldn't remember in part, while there was so much emotion, immediately and I didn't quite know what for. Then my head went blank - everything went. A part of my that didn't remember anyone was strong and thought "Isn't it totally right that someone called Lillian Lopez should die? Everyone, of any name, dies. What's wrong? Nothing. It's great (if there is great, maybe there is) and normal. Death is only as natural and brilliant as being born can be, without a shadow of a question. It's all part of something or a part of nothing, but each is something and one can't be without the other. Don't get so emo over the details."

But I was also suppressing acceptance completely, deeply emotional inside, and half of me deeply ashamed because I couldn't place the name with the person, and half of me not remembering and thinking there's no personal association here anyway. Then I suppressed all thoughts, not by choice, it just happened, as I walked away to do something or go somewhere, changed though, not comprehending at all, disturbed but I couldn't place why. And I couldn't remember not long after that.

So, later, over a month later, around a week or so ago, I found the articles by chance, watching some Odyssey songs in Youtube videos, and reading the R.i.P. comments which Youtube watchers had posted. I cried that night, I couldn't believe it. For some time, I could neither accept nor believe the death of someone I did not know. It seemed impossible. And I suppose it was because, though I didn't remember at the time quite the significance, I loved Odyssey and their members so deeply at such an early age, and times when I was very sensitive and very alone and myself. A myself, part of the one myself my life is usually all about searching for nowadays, as I slip down chasms of quicksand and vortices of time or space or something in between, overlayed or under sodden soil.

Whitney Houston and Donna Summer died this year, and in both cases, when I first heard and realised, I found I could not accept the news as true, when I haven't really followed either singer much recently. (Though I bought an old, great Whitney soul album from a time when she was not moddish last Christmas and played it even in the hours before I heard on the radio she passed away during the night. Donna also, unfortunately, went moddish in recent years, with stuff I could hardly listen to mostly. My reactions to these deaths surprised me for, as much as I liked and respected these singers (I thought not as much as a typical real 'fan' would), I can't remember a time when I loved them. That was when I really was young. A person forgotten now. But it was that person who came back in emotions at the deaths. I was younger when a fan who loved Donna Summer, a real young kid, than with Whitney, who was there for so many people for so many years.

But neither death was as much as this, as Lillian Lopez in the immediate reaction (second time around, the weeks after the surprise, confusion and complete supression). As if the lady were someone known and very close. Whitney came closest I suppose to how I felt with the death of Ms. Lopez, but Whitney was for decades a part of so many persons' lives, you simply couldn't help that. Watching her funeral live really helped. I suppose I was deeply affected, as I remember thinking, how on earth are the members of that choir whom knew her, and her family and friends, and so on, so collected, normal, positive and celebratory? It seemed impossible to me. (I'm not usually like this at all, and would never think I'd be the person that would be anything, remotely like this. So I was lost, but, increasingly happy at this strange difference, seeming so different to my habitual emotionless, sensationless self that I began to appreciate the new, nearly totally unformed, person.)

Rest in Peace, Lillian Lopez.

It's strange. Just one week before Ms. Lopez's death I had just been talking briefly to a DJ I didn't know in the bar club Le Frappé in Nice, France, as he played a version of "Inside Out". I asked him who covered it, because I said it was made famous by Odyssey. And his eyes lit up. Though I think he was just a bit too young to have known Odyssey as I did when I was a young boy, he seemed to make some connection with experience and he repeated the name and a sense of love of the name and wonder. There was some recollection but he was being searching and still there was a rapturous recognition in his eye and in his voice. He suggested he thought they were good. I was slow to translate - my small bit of French can be realised some half a minute or more after something is spoken to me.

This DJ looked up on his database any danceable tracks, but the database available to him for playing in the club (I don't know, MP3s he had bought from a service which catalogued, or those which were available on a subscription service) only had a very slow track, by the displayed BPM. This night in Le Frappé was a mid tempo very, very minimal early Chicago style funk night, so he could not play that.

In this quickish exchange, just 2 or 3 minutes, though which had a sense of loving dwelling over, even as a mark of slowed down, natural, unavoidable respect which grasped you and you could not avoid, we both agreed what a good song "Inside Out" was. It was a really nice cover version, I think he told me from 2007 or so.

I laughed to myself that night, because once you've sat through one, or maybe at most two of the club nights hearing those particular really minimal base funk tracks (the funk equivalent of the most minimal techno, but it has this strange edge to it), as I have moons and moons ago, it's hard ever to bear hearing a whole night of them again. They are very boring and grating, though can be well appreciated once only. I think I remember this was specialist stuff mostly from the early 80s, some from the late 70s. Underground funk stuff. Maybe to me it was like a really, really, interesting artisan cheese that harms you if you have enough - second slice - that kills you on the third. Even for someone who used to be a big funk and jazz funk and soul jazz and even big band funk fan, I could hardly take it, yet I enjoyed the memory while being killed, enjoyed the idea, from a time of connoiseurship gone by, sampled once or twice in hithertothen forgotten history. This is all partly me and what I can handle, of course, but, in substantial part also, I'm right about the music.

I'm meandering. You know, two or three months before the death of Ms. Lopez, I knew whom the name referred to, who she was and what she meant. Naturally. The stature of exactly what she meant. Senility or something worsens perhaps more and more in me.

And that's OK. I've nothing to write about Lillian Lopez. There's nothing to say. She was so beautiful. She was. She is somewhere else. There it is. I loved her. She seems so pure, true, such a piece of pure, Godly reality that saying anything in particular at all about her is so irrelevant and pointless. She lived. It's so sad, though, while I'm feeling better now, a bit more removed.
Lillian Lopez. 16 November 1935 – 4 September 2012. Rest in Peace.

Buy "Inside Out" by Odyssey:

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