Posts Tagged ‘musician’

Cornell: A Good Man

As said in Southern Gothic literature in the world of Flannery O’Connor, “A good man is hard to find.” A good man was Chris Cornell. A man I have thought of when meeting men in my own life. Eddie Vedder, Chris Cornell, Tom Morello, and many other male artists have served as examples to young girls including myself growing up to learn what a good man is: devoted to family, loving and supportive of his wife, compassionate, motivated, kind, honest, and concerned about giving back to society.

I was first enchanted by Chris Cornell when his band, Soundgarden released the eerily beautiful song, Black Hole Sun. His voice reached ranges I didn’t quite understand at the time, but coveted greatly as with many bands of the nineties decade. I loved every musical journey he took, he was always writing and creating work in various styles. He was not only a creative inspiration, but a person who exhibited gracious character.

What made Chris a good man was not being perfect, it was being human, real, and good-hearted. His imperfections were the epitome of his beauty. He didn’t hide where he had been, what he went through, and how he evolved. I respect the honesty of people, not just their artistry. He has always been involved with his family, giving them the love and time they deserve. Fame didn’t corrupt him away from what was really important in life, he bestowed kindness. Even if when he found himself in dark places, he knew to come out, he knew to get help. Chris also dedicated part of himself to helping others not just with his music, but with his philanthropy. Chris and his wife Vicky started, The Chris and Vicky Cornell Foundation to support vulnerable children. As someone who grew up knowing and now works with children in these delicate and hostile situations, this only made my appreciation for Chris and his family to grow broader. People do not always know what is done behind closed doors, sometimes even when they are open. We often times pay too much attention to the hype of fame and entertainment that we forget people are using their talent and success in other positive ways. While yes, Chris’ music has deeply impacted my life in a wonderfully special way, but his personal contributions to the children of our nation is just as impactful, if not more. Not only has he supported underprivileged children, but he has in addition donated all proceeds from his song, The Promise for the film, The Promise to the International Rescue Committee. This charity responds to humanitarian crisis efforts supporting healthcare, education, and other services to people who come from areas in conflict.

The day Chris died was surreal looking back on it days after. Thursday in the early morning, I awoke an hour or more before my alarm normally goes off. Something inside of me said to wake up and check my phone. The news reports were freshly coming in and I was in disbelief. The first posts I saw were on Instagram, people were posting pictures and messages about him passing. At first, I thought this all was some kind of sick joke, but certain people I follow wouldn’t joke about something like this. I kept seeing official articles and I wanted it all to be a nightmare. I wanted to wake up and everything to be fine. I wanted it to be a mistake, misreporting, wrong person. What I wanted was not true. I cried and cried ugly wet messy tears and blew obnoxiously into tissues. This was a strike all too close to home. It all dawned on me, the day before was all signs and I had not known.

Wednesday, Chris was with me all day in spirit. I was thinking about him while I was at work, how proud I was of his song, The Promise, seeing all of the Soundgarden tour photos and video footage. On my way home from work, I listened to one of my favorite Audioslave songs, Set If Off. I’ve always loved to sing along with him because I could actually keep up. I was enjoying the ride home like he was sitting next to me and were singing along together. Before I went to bed, at 11:29pm I shared a video clip of Soundgarden’s By Crooked Steps. Chris is seen closing the laptop of a young Hipster wannabe musician who relies on just a computer and has no real musical talent which is prevalent now. I share the same frustration Chris does with this new fad of using technology instead of actually knowing one’s craft. It’s not just loving the song, its loving the visual accompanying it and how both together speak volumes. I ended up falling asleep around midnight after posting the video. Little did I know, Chris was leaving the world, fading away as I was falling asleep. It was as though his spirit was fading all day and communicating not just with me, but his audience that night of the show in Detroit. None of use were consciously aware, nor do I believe Chris was aware. They say when you really truly care about a person, there will be signs all around you, there will be a feeling within you, an urgency you don’t quite understand trying to speak to you about what’s happening. The wake up call, hurry up, something is going on!

I didn’t want to explain this to my Mom, she and I had seen the film, The Promise together and I had prepared her for Chris’ song. I told her how amazing it was and how proud I was of his opportunity to be involved with creating something about such an important tragedy in history. She became a fan that day in the theatre. We were the only two left as the credits started and Chris’ voice made its debut over the speakers, sweetly entering our ears, we sat there and listened. I held back tears, I didn’t want my Mom to see me cry, just like Thursday at work, I didn’t want anyone to see me cry. I grieved alone. My Mom found out on her own and texted me at work, I confirmed it all, she was upset as well and more upset and confused when I told her how.

On Friday, Light My Way drove me to work and Be Yourself drove me home. It was like lullabies soothing the ride and emotions bouncing inside my stomach and mind. The tears were welling up in my bottom lids. Later, I met up with my best friend and former college roommate for dinner and to say goodbye as she was leaving for a summer theatre job in New York. We discussed how surreal it was to know the people we spent our lives following and inspired by were all slowly dying. It only reminds me to keep moving, to be strong, and continue helping others.

There will be various opinions on Chris’ death, I do not know what he was exactly going through, but I can tell you I understand the darkness and fight it everyday. To know he is free, is how I grow to accept his death. We connect ourselves with people and our selfish attachment can cloud our vision and make us forget the person who had died is the one we need to be concerned for and knowing they are in a place of relief. We may not like it, I certainly do not, the situation is upsetting, but we cannot change what has taken place. We can only learn from these situations and help people in the future to prevent tragedies as this one. This is hard to accept, Chris, his family, and friends had many events to look forward to, but at some point we have to be thankful Chris fulfilled his destiny of giving beauty to the world. He has been called home. We must have peace in knowing Chris is home. We must understand even though Chris is no longer here, his spirit lives on, and he has planted seeds to bloom and grow amongst this world to bring new hope, talent, success, and peace. He can comfort children in a new way, a way so powerful, I believe every child will be guarded by his spirit. There was a beautiful moment later in the day on Thursday when my cousin’s daughter was taken off her G-Tube and told her condition was improving. I can only believe the strength from Chris helped finish this phase of her recovery.

I wish Chris’ wife and children love and healing. They are impacted more than anyone will ever be, they deserve respect as they endure this painful time. I am 100% in support of Vicky’s statements. I do not want to use this time to go into detail, but I’ve been there, I’ve had friends go through it as well, we need to be careful about the things around us and who and what we entrust our mental health with. Take one day at a time, meditate, practice yoga, breath in and out, smile.

You are free Chris, spread your love, goodness, and wings even wider.

Johanna Falzone, May 20th, 2017

(The drawing I created in Memory of Chris. I had originally planned for him to be part of the next round of paintings, but after his death, felt it couldn’t wait and I needed something that represented him in a new form. There is also a poem I wrote, titled, Sunlight Filled Bloom, due to not having copyright protections yet, I am currently not sharing it at the moment, but will in due time.)


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I was planning on posting about all of the events of 2015, but I felt I first should start with what I did not think at this point in my lifetime would happen.

I was awoken by my alarm clock to get dressed and take my medication before heading out to a Doctor’s appointment of which I was dreading. I have been dealing with an ongoing problem and it’s been difficult dealing with doctors. I instantly took my phone to see what notifications were left for me overnight (an occurrence that happens more when I am asleep than awake). I looped over to Facebook and saw one of my good friends Kristin post David Bowie’s Let’s Dance video, I have a deep connection with that song as when I was still dancing, that was one of my favorite songs to put on while doing so. This post made me smile, but as I continued to scroll through the feed, I saw all of these posts about David’s death. I was taken aback thinking it was a hoax, internet trolls like to target big stars everyone loves, but official news networks confirmed it.

I felt an extreme emptiness. An emptiness I had not felt in a log time. But this time is was a painful emptiness and anger. A man who had captured my heart as an infant has lost an eighteen month battle to Cancer, a devil that my own Dad beat and is going for his I believe six year clearance check-up in Jacksonville, FL. I cannot thank the Proton Therapy Doctor’s of University of Florida enough for their continuation of research, treatment, and experimental work with people of all types of malicious Cancers. David’s death devastates me because with all of the advances, we still cannot get rid of this demon, this parasite that has taken the lives of people we love. But, what I must acknowledge of David’s death is the pure fact that he was a graceful fighter, who knew his fate, yet would not let this ailment take his art, he died making art and completing his artistic journey.

I have been in tears all morning when I am alone, I don’t want anyone to see my grief. But, I know my mourning will eventually show itself publicly in some way, and I apologize if I am short tempered.

I would like to share my story of my life journey with David Bowie as an inspiration. Since I was an infant he was a pop culture presence in my life. As a child I religiously watched Labyrinth with my older brother Sam. I would dance and sing to every song. I’d play the opening credits with the creepy owl to freak out my brother. And during my Ballet and Modern Dance training years I would play his songs on repeat, especially Let’s Dance. I choreographed my own ballet steps to Let’s Dance and always dreamed of performing it as a Pas De Deux. I would sing Queen’s Under Pressure, both David and Freddie’s parts in my bedroom. To this day I sing his songs in the car, they cheer me up, and they energize me! I aspire to be brave like him, talented like him, and humble. I’ve dreamed my whole life being on stage performing, wearing the most out of this world glittery, spandex, ruffled, high chroma colored costumes just as I saw David wear. I still want that, I always will, and will always be working for it. I can no longer pursue a professional career in Ballet or Modern Dance, but it would not have worked well with being a singer/songwriter anyway, my dancing will come to play in another way. David is one of many people who have given me inspiration and courage to be myself, to dream, to keep going even if no one cares, even if the world thinks I’m the biggest weirdo on the planet. I was born knowing I am weird and if we are born weird, we need to own it, rock it, and enjoy it!

I know that David is in heaven and living in an eternal bliss, but I am still selfish and want his physical presence on earth. It’s sad to know my future children will not know him in their life as a living person, they will only have this idea of who he was. While they don’t have to feel the effects of knowing what it’s like for a person you respect to pass on, I feel experiencing his career and wisdom in real time is worth the pain of losing him, there is so much to learn from the living. Every time I watch one of Patti Smith’s interviews, I really cherish the opportunity because one day she will be gone too, and the words or wisdom she has will no longer be, they will be in memory and re-run of old videos, but it will never be current and in the now again. Those moments are absolutely precious.

In addition to this, I am jealous of all the celebrities posting online their pictures with David, I will never get to meet him in my life on earth, know him personally, or have the pleasure of working with him. I hope these people cherish the moment they had and don’t use it as some kind of badge of superiority, David is a human being, not a pop-culture puppet. Please respect his memory.

I wish his family nothing, but healing and happiness through the loss of such a wonderful person.

These are two of my favorite songs off the BBC recording of which is the best!!!! I love the BBC recorded performances, they are intense and really show off the artists passion!

Moving onto an update on my personal work,

I have completed the 11 paintings in my series Miss America Deconstructed and have started working on new illustrations that are about lounging and sleeping. Here are some of the works, also my website has been updated. www.johannafalzone.com I will update the blog more in-depth later this week on 2015, my health, work, etc. But, at this time I have sketchbooks to finish constructing and I am still trying to wrap my head around David’s death. I need to meditate for a bit and eat lunch.


Tried to think of all the 2015 highlights, 1. Completing all 11 Miss America Deconstructed paintings in five months. 2. Completing a 5K for Suicide Prevention. 3. Refurbishing an old table to put my laptop on. 4. Joey marrying the awesome, Melissa in Old Town Alexandria, VA. 5. Getting to visit BFF Roomie, Shayna @kiwiloveslime at her place in Orlando and getting to act like goofs as we were once in college, 6. @kaaaate._ finally marrying Adam and eating five million different cake flavors because Kate is awesome and couldn't just pick one. 7. Getting to see Brian's band, @trelationship play, Mark went too and witnessed me gobble down a huge French crepe and lose my ability to use words when we met the band. We also thank God, dodged Vampire night in Ybor, good thing the guys played on a Thursday and not a Wednesday. 9. Taking my Mom all over NYC and using the Subway the whole time, no cabs for us! Oh and meeting the one guy from Sex and the City, Chris Noth, that was weird… 9. Making gingerbread cookies and finally getting the recipe right to make the fancy icing. Going to take it a step further next year. 10. Finally, of which is not pictured, finishing grad school app which included 3 essays, Letter of Intent, Artist Statement, and Diversity Statement. I said, screw formats, I'm writing in my way, short story with sass. Here's to 2016 hoping I get in, hoping I have a successful move to the West Coast, hoping my dog will still love me after I leave, and that I will get booked in a solo show that will change my life positively and hugely for the rest of my life, oh and before I forget, another Democrat President gets elected! Woo-hoo, bring on the New Year! #cookies #refurbishedfurniture #missamericadeconstructed #paintings #selfportraits #5k #suicideprevention #bestfriends #weddings #nyc #mom #music #rocknroll #gradschool #bringon2016 #screwtherules #california #movingon #liberal #feminist #democrat @libertygraceart #tbt #throwback

A photo posted by Johanna Falzone (@doll_legs) on

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I am posting this video of Michael Stipe talking about his art, I love watching it and I get something new out of it every time.

Anyway I always have thought of Michael as like a spiritual Dad type figure, its weird that I say that, but he’s someone I look up to like a Dad because of all of his accomplishments and talents and how true he has stayed to himself and his passions. I aspire to be like that and he has done the two things I love the most which is being a musician and an artist at the same time. I have always had a passion for music and songwriting since I was little, but have never met anyone else with an equal amount of passion for it, which remains the main reason why I don’t pursue it; I would love to, but finding people who are serious and open to me being the dominant one is not easy, its like trying to find your life partner, but more frustrating because music is something I can’t live without, but I’m content being single. I would never be a solo artist, I don’t believe in that ever, bands = collaboration = support = real music. Anyway I guess I have just went off on this random tangent, but the point is Michael is both a musician and an artist and I want that for myself too.

Furthermore I appreciate Michael’s curiosity of the world and how he captures it in his sculptures, its like time capsules of old objects, and I love that he wants us to touch them, because I always want to touch things at exhibits. I follow Michael’s tumblr and it’s always inspiring to see the images he posts, it’s a wide range of things from male nudes to Kurt Cobain to dancers, everything really, and it helps inspire me, sometimes I find myself googling the images he blogs, its kind of funny.  It’s also hard to come across people who are humble about their work and I truly think that is a quality all artists must have because it keeps us grounded. The worst thing we can do to ourselves is brag about ourselves in the most arrogant manner possible. Arrogance is the death of an artist.(Don’t steal my line unless you quote me, is that arrogance or me not wanting someone to steal my phrase? No, it’s just me wanting to feel like a pioneer!)

I have made the decision that I want to set up a video interview of myself kind of like this video of Michael because I feel I can never fully explain my art to a group of people, I get sweaty, forget what I’m saying and end up talking nonsense and people just stare at me like I have a disfigured face or something. I am not very good with people or communicating with my peers, and I want to be able to have a way for me to talk about my art and why I make it in a comfortable setting for myself and more organized understandable explanation for my audience. It’s nothing narcissistic it’s just for me to feel like I’m getting my message out there to people without sounding like a total nut-bag.

Note to Michael Stipe if you read this: I have some old cameras in storage, if you want them let me know because I feel terrible throwing them out, yet they are worthless to sell and I want them to go to good use.

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/41622621″>STORYBOARD: Confessions of a Michael Stipe</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/tumblr”>Tumblr</a&gt; on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

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