Sunday, April 25, 2010

Freddie Mercury Will Rock You

I don't know about you, but when I'm in the car, and a song by Queen comes on, I have to listen to the whole thing, no matter how many times I've heard it. "Momma...just killed a man...put a gun against his head, pulled my trigger now he's dead," with the same emotion as when I first heard it in Wayne's World (I'm not old enough to have been there the first time around.) I will even sit in a parked car and be a few minutes late to work just to hear the song. Freddie Mercury has the most gorgeous voice in rock and roll that I know of, and I even found out recently that a famous opera singer requested to perform a concert with him.

Two of the best-known Queen songs, "We Will Rock You" and "We Are the Champions" are regularly played at sporting events, particularly hockey. And I find it poignant lately that many of the people who attend these games probably are not big Queen fans, or maybe even don't know that the songs were made by Queen, or could just be too young to know. Most of these people are men, and may exist in a culture where masculinity is placed at a premium, and where homosexuality is considered a weakness, or at least something to stay away from. The word "gay" is tossed around as an affectionate insult, as in "dude, that shirt looks gay on you," or "that's gay," or "I don't hug men, that's gay."

And yet these songs were written by a man who was very gay and who still rocked enough to get stadiums full of tens of thousands of people stomping their feet and clapping their hands in unison 30 years later. Who wore tights and a skinny bare chest during concerts and yet whose song "We Are the Champions" is automatically played at the winning of the Stanley Cup, World Series and other finals.

And that is the beauty of real art--it transcends these boundaries. In New York City, when I would stop to see a really good drummer with his plastic buckets I would look around me to see who else was listening. People of all backgrounds would stop--the audience was merely composed of people who loved drumming. Stoners, stockbrokers, housewives and seniors all together. But somehow I find it more powerful to think of a gay lead singer, who was aware of the homosexual connotations when naming his band "Queen," bringing the sports world to its knees, giant men with chipped and missing teeth hugging and loving each other when they win the championship.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Food for Thought

Our reality is very much driven by the foods we consume.

Most of us eat diets that are too heavy for our system--processed foods, too much fat, sugar, etc. In the classic macrobiotic cookbook "The Self Healing Cookbook," Kristina Turner says that people eat fat to emotionally buffer themselves from the harsher aspects of life, and that it is something we do to survive modern life.

I think we eat food that we know is bad for us because it enables us to get through a day that we aren't into--a rude awakening by the alarm clock, rushing around, meetings, and projects at work we don't always agree with. I had a job where I was frequently on deadline to produce copious amounts of work, and on those days I always craved the same thing--an Italian sandwich from Subway, a bag of Doritos, and a diet Coke.

Have you ever tried to eat a simple, whole foods, non-caffienated diet? Something changes in you, you don't have that "rush" that allows you to work at a ridiculous pace.

In her book "Super Cleanse," Adina Niemerow, a health food chef, talks about clients who attend her cleansing retreats. They eat fresh, organic foods with little adulteration. After unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, the people often have big realizations that they are living lives they don't always agree with. People have thoughts like, "why am I investing in a company that dumps oil in the ocean or contributes to the weapons industry?" Or "why am I marketing director for a company that sells a product I don't believe in?" Some of these people change their careers entirely, beginning nonprofits or going back to school to become naturopaths or something similar.

There is some energetic component of food that makes people think or act a certain way. Heavier, processed foods enable us to either get through jobs we're not into, or if we are into them, to work at an unhealthy pace. Lighter, unprocessed foods force reflection, and make it impossible to work at the same pace.

So if U.S. culture is moving towards shopping at Whole Foods, buying organic, and thinking about nutrition, we are also moving towards some consciousness shift where the career culture will soon look very different.