nancy spungeon

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Chapter 2 of My Music Book

Published March 26, 2013 by Maryanne

Lori BurtonLori Burton inspired me! (Photo from Google Search)

Here is chapter 2 of the music memoir I am working on. Any feedback appreciated.

CHAPTER 2 – Number 9 Dream

High school was not a fun place for me and I never got why. It wasn’t until many later years, when I started my own home-based business that I learned I am way too creative to live by any structure. And I am not a team player either.

I did my duty and got good grades in some classes like art, music theory (I, II and III), creative writing, English and child development. And got by the skin of my teeth in other areas, including gym, which is surprising because later in life I became a health advocate who exercises regularly and follows a pretty impressive health regimen.

I found it so hard to fit in with other kids. No one really interested me except a dreamy poetic soul named Sandy who I became friends with. Sandy, like me, wore satin pants to school. She once told me, “When I brought these pants I said, ‘Good-bye to Sandra Dee’” quoting from the popular movie “Grease.” Like me, Sandy was trying to find her way. But Sandy found her niche with the smart kids who wrote for the school newspaper and those who went to Bible studies; whereas I never found my niche, only a part of me could connect with any given group. I just couldn’t commit myself as others did. I was too much a free spirit.

I crossed my school days off the calendar like a prisoner counting down his jail time. I dreamed about being like the rock chicks and rock muses I saw in Rock Scene magazine. I bleached my hair blonde to look like they did – Cyrinda Foxe, Debbie Harry, Cherie Curie and Nancy Spungeon.

Needless to say, this did not fly in 1979 where suburban kids in Little Falls, New Jersey were still grasping on to the Summer of Love and thought Jim Morrison was God. All fine and good, but at the time I fancied myself a modern girl at heart and was more into The Sex Pistols (but kept my Doors records stashed away in a closet because every so often I liked hearing the song “Touch Me.”)

My room didn’t even look like the rooms of other kids – well, at least not the girls, who kept dolls on their canapé beds. The walls of my bedroom were plastered with Creem magazine covers. And my prized collection was a beautiful bookcase my mom got me, where the bottom part was large enough to fit records. My growing album collection was filling up the bookcase nicely.

Kids in school threw rocks at me because I wore a lot of eye make-up and had bleached blonde hair with the roots showing. Extremely tame compared to what rock kids eventually morphed into in years to come. Today young people have magenta hair and facial piercings, and depending on where you live, it’s socially accepted. But sad to say bullying is still a very serious issue, which no child or teen should have to endure.

Even though my musical tastes were more modern than my school mates, I did get along fine with my music theory class and spent some time hanging out with some of the guys in that class, like my friend Teddy, an easy going, laid back Dead Head who was very nice to me and allowed me into his circle, even though some of his friends didn’t get me.

Teddy had a very cool cousin, George Hall who went to another school in West Milford, but came down to visit from time to time. George and I were both very into music and became friends fast. We went to see the movie “Hair” one night and the next night George invited me over to dinner at his father’s.

His father, Warren Hall, lived in a townhouse, The Claridge House in Verona owned by his girlfriend, Lori Burton (Cicala). Lori was a famous singer and song writer. She sang back up with May Pang and John Lennon on his song, “Number 9 Dream.”

The gold record was hanging up in the dining room. She also wrote the song, “Ain’t Gonna Eat out My Heart Anymore” which was recorded by the Rascals, as well as one of my favorite bands at the time, Angel. So needless to say, I was impressed to have met her.

I got along great with Lori and she was a loyal friend to me even when not in my presence. George once told me he shared with Lori that I was having problems with other kids in school because I had bleached blonde hair and wore heavy eye make-up.

But Lori defended me and said, “So what’s a little bit of eye make-up?” Little did she know at the time her words changed my life.

While guidance counselors and the school psychiatrist felt it best that I change my image to fit in with the other students, I stuck to my guns and continued to be the “me” I felt most comfortable with.

The only time I ever looked somewhat like the other students was one Halloween when I came to school without make-up and wore jeans and a Grateful Dead t-shirt I borrowed from a girl who borrowed my clothes to be a rock chick. Everyone told me I looked pretty without make-up, but it just wasn’t me. I couldn’t wait to get back to being the real Maryanne again the next day. Back to normal. My normal.

Thank you, Lori Burton, for making me realize that everyone has their own personality and should embrace wherever they are at – at that moment.

No one should change for anyone. I’m glad I didn’t.

 By Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta, COPYRIGHT 2013

That Offensive “B” Word

Published January 25, 2013 by Maryanne

SummerMe, as a blonde, 2008

I absolutely CRINGE when I hear a woman referring to another as a  “bimbo.” So much for sisterhood, right?

According to Wikipedia: Bimbo is a mildly derogatory slang term that typically describes an attractive but observably behaviourally unintelligent woman.

First, there is no such thing as “mildly (another word I hate) derogatory.” Something is either derogatory or it isn’t — period!

Second, who is to say what is “behaviourally unintelligent,” especially when name calling is behaviourally unintelligent in its own right? It’s like the pot calling the kettle black. If someone is a little ditzy (now there’s a word I do like because it’s less offensive and everyone can relate to it), it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Think “I Love Lucy” or “Three’s Company” where ditzy women made others laugh. They were funny and lovable characters. My husband calls me “Lucy” all the time because, it’s true, I am a ditz. I’m clumsy, I do things too fast and I’m always in these hilarious scenarios that a lot of people say remind them of a “Seinfeld” episode. The good news is, I may not be the smartest chick on the block, but I make people smile and that’s a good thing.

What people need to understand is that not everyone is going to have the highest IQ or get the best job or breeze through college.

And even if someone does have a high IQ or is gifted with being smart, it doesn’t necessary make someone better than someone else. I know a lot of  “smart” people who lack social skills or are insensitive or are very intelligent in a certain area but limited in other areas making it hard to converse with such a person unless he/she is talking about his/her job.

That said, maybe intelligence is a little over rated? Sometimes I think so. I’d definitely trade in my writing award if I could be a little more loving and patient during my period.

Let me put things into further perspective for you. If I say the name “Nancy Spungeon” you won’t know who I’m talking about. But if I say, “Sid & Nancy” or “Sex Pistols” you know who she is. Now, Nancy Spungeon had a genius IQ of 179 yet she couldn’t make her way in this world, ending up a heroin addict and dead at 21 for being in the wrong place at the right time. Many have referred to Nancy Spungeon as a “dumb bimbo.” See where I’m going with this? Nancy was very smart, not dumb at all. But she grew up in a time when depression wasn’t fully explored. That poor kid never got the help she needed, may she rest in peace.

Life isn’t always fair and we all have to work with the cards we are dealt with. Some of us have challenges like dyslexia (that would be me!) or OCD or ADD or other learning disabilities that make us struggle a lot more than others. Others may be struggling with depression. Or maybe sometimes we just do and say dumb things because of our nerves and the words just don’t come out right.

You just never know!

So if anyone reading throws the “bimbo” word around a little too loosely, maybe this post will make you think twice before having an acid tongue in regard to others. Everyone has something to add to this world and you can learn something from anyone if you listen hard enough. Just give others a chance, don’t write them off so quickly as a “bimbo.”

Let’s just stop using that offensive word once and for all and bring sisterhood back into the 21st Century.

Let’s keep it really real, ladies!

 

Viva Gia!

Published August 7, 2012 by Maryanne

1980s, first supermodel Gia Carangi

Cosmo Girl!

Natural

I have to be honest, I lived the 1980s but do not remember Gia Carangi, the famous supermodel.

Mind you, like Gia, I was also in my 20s at the time so a lot of cultural things slipped by me because I was making my own culture by dating, going to nightclubs and exploring — which is totally understandable for a 20-something. And don’t forget, we didn’t have a lot of the media we have now back then. There was no internet, no You Tube … and some families didn’t even have cable television; some still had b&w TV sets!

When I first heard of Gia, it was when I picked up the 1994 paperback edition of the book, “Thing of Beauty: The Tragedy of Supermodel Gia” by Stephen Fried, originally published in 1993.

I was mesmerized by the tragic story of a gorgeous Italian girl who rose to superstar status in the late 1970s, early 1980s fashion industry, and just a short time later died of AIDS in 1986.

The cool thing about Gia was — she was into cool things, like David Bowie and Blondie. She was in Blondie’s “Atomic” video. She was tough and throughout the book I thought she was like a fashionista version of Joan Jett.

A few years after I got the book, an HBO special came on about the life of Gia, staring Angelina Jolie. To me, that was Angelina’s best role ever. I loved the dark, sad movie. It effected me for days.

Well, last week Lifetime showed the movie again. I dug out my old “Thing of Beauty” book and started to re-read it.  I also looked up videos of Gia on You Tube and watched interviews. And a cold chill encompasses my body as I revisited the tragedy.

In my opinion, Gia was a fantastic model because her looks transformed her into a vast variety of different people. In Gia, at times I see: Julia Roberts, Janice Dickenson and Cindy Crawford.

And I also see, in Gia, some friends I had in the 1980s — not models, just normal pretty girls. I think that’s why Gia is so fascinating — on one hand she has the superior looks, but on the other hand, a sweet, simple vulnerability that all of us possess. That is what we’re relating to; we all just want to give her a hug.

During one of her last interviews, I felt she is being interrogated when asked about her drug use. Then Gia brought up drugs in food — which I felt was a genius move. Then the interviewer resorted to sarcasm by saying there isn’t cocaine in food.

Yeah, there isn’t cocaine in food, but other DRUGS that cause cancer, diabetes, obesity, etc. which can all lead to DEATH! With Gia being as tough as she was, I wondered why she chose to stay in such a vulnerable mode during the interview and didn’t defend herself by saying what I just said.

Regardless, that girl was wise beyond her years and ahead of her time. Some people simply are therefore they die young and maybe come back many years later. I feel this way about James Dean.

And also, Nancy Spungeon.

No, really, hear me out …

If you read “And I Don’t Want to Live This Life” by Deborah Spungeon, Nancy’s mom, there are similarities. (And so interesting, both girls were from Philadelphia!)

These girls were tough, did drugs, turned tricks for drugs, possessed incredible style and beauty. I know a lot of people don’t think of Nancy as a “beauty.” But look again, she has similar features to the stunning Lady GaGa.

Both Gia and Nancy were head strong and intelligent. Spungeon’s IQ was 175.

And both died in their 20s.

I can only speculate, but I think people who die young just know their own destiny and live these frenzied lives as if they are trying to cheat death, somehow.

Fatal stories are horrific to us, especially when we’ve lost loved ones who wanted to live. How can others throw their lives away just like that? It’s not for us to say or judge, as we do not know the pain that lives inside another human being.

I like to focus on the positive. I did not know Gia personally, but what I do know is what she left behind to the world: Art via her beauty. She was a damn good model and I love going back to the 1980s through her work. Even though Gia’s time wasn’t so innocent, it was an innocent time for a lot of people. And nostalgia is healthy.

RIP, Gia. You were an original.