Tag Archives: Jennifer Lopez

Long Live The Queen!

Say what you want about Madonna.  She’s old.  She’s tired.  She has no talent.  She can’t sing.  She can’t dance.  She’s a slut.  She’s past her prime.  There simply is no denying the woman and the mark she’s left on pop culture and music.  She is the world’s best-selling female artist of all-time and is still breaking records this year with yet another #1 album, a sold out world tour, the most Tweeted about celebrity achievement (during this year’s Super Bowl performance) and a $550-million payday according to Forbes.

This past Tuesday, my friend Jocelyn’s company threw their annual “Happy Birthday Madonna!” party at Timpano Chophouse in Hyde Park Village.  There was live Madonna-inspired entertainment, a video wall playing all of her iconic music videos and images, look-a-like contests, photo stations, birthday cakes and more.  As I walked into the packed house filled with Madonna wannabe’s and look-a-likes, I was suddenly transported back to the late 1980s / early 1990s where you couldn’t go anywhere on the planet without running into someone who wasn’t copying or imitating her style and look.  I remember growing up as a child and staring at this woman on MTV in total awe and fascination.  Sure Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey sang better than her and Janet Jackson and Paula Abdul were better dancers, but Madonna had the message, the originality, the brazen starpower.

Nearly 30 years into her career, and she is still seen as a contemporary alongside today’s pop starlets.  From Pat Benatar to Cyndi Lauper to Kylie Minogue to Britney Spears to Jennifer Lopez to Katy Perry to Rihanna to Lady Gaga, Madonna has stood by them all.  While Jennifer Lopez and Kylie Minogue have perfected sexual confidence as an art, theirs lacks the depth and meaning that Madonna brings to the table.  While Katy Perry and Britney Spears sing undeniably catchy pop songs, theirs lacks the message of empowerment that accompanies a Madonna track.  And while Lady Gaga and Rihanna never fail on the visuals and the flash, they have yet to exude an ounce of vulnerability.  It always amazed me how a bold, brassy and outspoken person (see “Justify My Love” or nearly any of her MTV VMA performances) can also be so soft and humble (see “This Used To Be My Playground” or “Live To Tell.”)  In response to the newer generation that will undoubtedly disagree with any of the above statements about their idolized pop diva, I simply say that they have not been properly educated.  From her bragging to her High School classmates’ in their yearbooks with her bold yet prophetic statement that she would be “the most famous woman in the world one day” to her risky move to New York City at the age of 19 with 30 bucks in her pocket and sheer determination, Madonna is a survivor.

To one of the greatest stars that ever lived… Happy Birthday Madonna!

And to those who doubt Madonna as a live vocalist performer…

“Sooner or Later” performed by Madonna
1991 Academy Awards

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

“Call My Name” by Cheryl Cole


Oh Cheryl Cole.  How do I love thee!  You were a part of the biggest-selling female group in the UK, (and no I am not referring to the Spice Girls but) Girls Aloud, who were responsible for some of the catchiest pop-ditties this millennium.   You ventured out as a solo artist with two huge hit albums and a string of pop perfection confections.  Your “Fight For This Love” still reigns as one of the best pop songs ever recorded.  You ruled England as their beloved sweetheart when you became a judge on The X-Factor UK which lead to one of the much-coveted judges spots on The X-Factor USA.  Although, I should be upset with you for you leaving The X-Factor USA.  It lead to four torturous months of the grating Nicole Scherzinger (your replacement).  Will.i.am. is now your manager.  You have a new album, your third, A Million Lights, being released next month.  You have a cameo role in the JLo & Cameron Diaz rom-com, What To Expect When You’re Expecting flick this summer.  You reportedly are dropping your ex-hubby’s last name and simply going by Cheryl.  Madonna.  Cher.  Cheryl.  It works.  And you have a sexy new video for “Call My Name,” which was written and produced by current it-boy Calvin Harris, that just hit YouTube.  You own the world right now… well, except for the U.S.  Here’s looking forward to a very successful infiltration onto the American pop culture radar.  If the Kardashians can do it, then the sexiest woman on the planet most certainly can too. You’re almost there baby.

P.S.  The 90’s clothes, style and choreography of your “Call My Name” music video is like a tasty make-out session with nostalgia.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Confessions of 2007: The Soundtrack [12.20.2007]

Originally posted on MySpace on December 20, 2007:

“I am awaiting the Okie year-end blog!”
Jon La May, during lunch at Mike’s BBQ the other day

So turn your volumes up, make sure you’re sitting in a comfortable position, and most importantly…  PRESS PLAY


Dear Fergie,

I will come out and admit that I was not a fan of yours when I first saw you perform with The Black Eyed Peas. There wasn’t one particular thing about you that unimpressed me; I just simply was not impressed.

Last fall, I bought your “The Dutchess” album at Target on a whim. I didn’t click with your first single, “London Bridge,” and I initially wasn’t too keen on the next single, “Fergalicious.” But being a huge music junkie who listens to entire albums (yes, I still buy cd’s!) to help pass the time at work, I forked out $11.99 for your solo debut.

It is the end of 2007, more than an entire year has passed since “The Dutchess” was released… and your album has somewhat become the unofficial soundtrack to my life in the year 2007.

I remember being silly and attempting to write a rap song with Katina in Chicago to the tune of your “Fergalicious” (“Fergalicious” by Fergie) for Gina’s Birthday. We really couldn’t conjure up anything creative, mainly because I was fucked up, but I still managed to come up with something extravagantly ludicrous comprised of lots of head bobs and smiles and laughter.

Your third single “Glamorous,” (“Glamorous” by Fergie) evokes memories of Jacksonville. Each and every single time, David, Jon La May and I would sing together to the top of our lungs in the car.

“G – L – A – M – O – AHRRA (that’s how Jon La May pronounces his “r’s”) – O – U – S!”

The second Jacksonville trip had Gina, always imitating some pop singer, singing the last lines of the song in your distinctive voice and unintentionally coining new nicknames for Steven MichaelRay, Jon La May and myself.

And don’t even get me started on “Big Girls Don’t Cry” (“Big Girls Don’t Cry” by Fergie)… Steven and I still cannot listen to that song without busting out in laughter. And yes your song is lovely, but it’s the memories associated with it that get us giggling.

Lastly, meeting you with Katina at your Candies Fashion Show / Concert in St. Pete last summer was a definite highlight of the year. Katina and I were so excited to meet you and sit front row, that we literally became two school-age girls… well, two school-age girls who were drunk and tipsy from the outdoor bar. You sang and danced your heart out. You looked amazing. You rocked my world that night. Thank God I told Katina to enter the Verizon Dress-Like-Fergie contest to win those backstage tickets!

So a big phat THANK YOU for making music that will forever bring the nice memories of an otherwise ho-hum year to mind. I cannot wait to hear what you will do next.

Love Always,

If my life in 2007 were ever made into a movie, these are the songs that would be playing during (the below mentioned) key scenes. These are the songs that would be featured on the soundtrack. These are the songs that remind me of select people. These are the quotes that would be printed in the soundtrack booklet’s liner notes. These are the songs that made up my 2007.

David Phan came into town twice this year. The first time he brought his friend Jake. The second time, he came all by himself. On his first night back in October, it was just like the old days of David, Gina and I riding down to Ybor together (“Do It Well” by Jennifer Lopez).

Except for lunch at P.F. Changs, David and I honestly just laid around the next day watching TV. It took Kristin to come by, and grace us with her “Tourette’s syndrome” to finally drag us out of the house. I don’t think that David has ever experienced Kristin in her full-Kristin glory, so for his virgin eyes and ears to experience her “La Sarah” voice, her barking like a dog, her sudden yelling, her comparing herself to Jennifer Aniston, as well as her Beyonce booty-shaking all within the first 10 minutes of her stopping by literally had David declaring: “I fucking love Kristin!”

We went to Cheri’s farewell dinner and night in Ybor that evening, completely exhausting ourselves for the remainder of the weekend. David and I did meet up with Jon and Bryan at Cracker Barrel on Sunday morning (“Sunday Morning” by k-OS), and squeezed in a visit to his longtime friend Jennessy. But even if David and I continued to sit around doing absolutely nothing before Kristin saved us, we still would have had fun. One of the fantastic things about David Phan is that he finds any and every way to keep you entertained and smiling. He says some of the most hysterical statements and when shit hits the fan, he is someone who continually has my back.

I went to Jacksonville to visit David TWICE this year with Jon La May. While traveling on our JAX first trip for David’s Birthday, Jon asked me for a list of songs to upload onto his IPod to play on the way there. So I sent him a list of songs that make me wanna shake it (“Give It To Me” by Timbaland with Nelly Furtado & Justin Timberlake), songs that make me wanna break stuff (“Breakin’ Dishes” by Rihanna), and our future wedding song (“Dancing In The Moonlight” by Top Loader). We listened to every single one of them on repeat. This was the very first time that Jon and I spent time together without mutual friends. Every other time, there was always someone else with us. So this trip was marking the beginning of the Okie & Jon Era

When we arrived, David took Jon, Jake and I to The Pearl, which was basically Jacksonville’s version of The Castle. Josh and Shandi met us up there, and let’s just say that yours truly was a wee bit out-of-control that night. To this day, I have no clue why I was so upset that my Quarter Pounder had cheese on it, and why I threw my cellphone at both Jon and David out of anger.

“Umm… You are NOT Naomi Campbell, Okie!”
David Phan, after the first of many cellphone throws his way

David’s 27th birthday dinner was held at the Corner Brasserie, where I finally got to meet Anitra, Irene, Kristy and Margie, followed by drinks at Metro. After closing Metro down and losing Jon La May, the highlight of the night had to be David falling down and dramatically twisting his ankle in front of two police officers. “No officer, I’m not drunk! I’m fine! I am Sparta!” Not that I find humor in David’s injuries… but if only a camera were around to document how hilarious David’s tumble was.

The second time Jon and I went to visit David in Jacksonville (“Last Night” by Diddy with Keyshia Cole), we brought Gina and Steven MichaelRay along. We only stayed there overnight, less than 24 hours to be precise, yet managed to have the best trip this year. We sampled escargot for the very first time. I met Lily. I made everyone wait to go out until Madonna took the stage on the Live Earth telecast. We hit up Twisted Martini, Brix… well, the Brix parking lot, and Metro. We got drunk. We played Fergie on the IPod on the way back home to David’s. We played Rihanna. We played the Spice Girls. We watched Janet Jackson DVD’s at David’s. And my faith in groups trips not always being a horrible idea was restored.

While we drove to and fro, Steven MichaelRay asked me about a specific song that Jon and I kept playing (“Apologize” by One Republic with Timbaland). I told him that I would burn that song onto a cd, and presented him with the “Michael Mix” compilation shortly after. The “Michael Mix” was just a assemblage of various songs that I thought Steven would enjoy. One of the songs on the cd, Steven enjoyed a little too much.

“Whatever Okie, I can have this shot tonight because
Jaslene won America’s Next Top Model,
Jordan didn’t get booted off American Idol
and Iiiiiiii caaarrreee!!!”
Steven MichaelRay, rationalizing why he was able to order a shot.
Earlier that day, he insisted that he would not get drunk
since he had to work early the next day.

It was the night of Billy Jolie’s 28th birthday… Jon La May was the designated driver, and chauffeured the birthday boy, Cheri, Steven and me from dinner at Thai Thani across the bridge to Georgies then over to Chambers. I very, very rarely ever go to Chambers. It’s not that I don’t enjoy that place, but I always leave that club at 3 a.m. drunk beyond belief. Of course that night was no different, except that Steven outdrank me. At the end of the night, we were hanging out front with Derek and Maria when the expected happened. “Jamal” came out.

Here’s the deal with Steven MichaelRay. When that boy drinks heavily, his other personality, “Jamal” likes to come out and play. “Jamal” is black, he’s a thug, his theme song is “It’s Hard Out There For A Pimp” by Three-Six Mafia, and he has a sister named “Katinqua.” Jamal is renowned for being impolite, ill-tempered and quarrelsome. “Jamal” is not known however for being a singer. As we left Chambers, “Jamal” was just yelling out his requests to me from the back seat. “PLAAAYYY APPOLLOOGGGIIIZZEEE!!!” “PLAAAYYY FEERRRGGGIIIEEE!!!” One song caught me off guard though… “PLAAAYYY TTTEEEXXXAAASSS!!!” (“Inner Smile” by Texas) What preceeded was the loudest, drunkest, scream-singing rendition of that song that I have ever (and most likely will ever) experience in my life. “YEEEAAAHHH!!! YEEEAAAHHH!!! YOUUU MAAAKKKEEE MEEEE FEEELLL!!! YEEEAAAHHH!!! YEEEAAAHHH!”

“I’m hearin what you say
but I just can’t make a sound
You tell me that you need me
Then you go and cut me down…”
“Apologize” by One Republic

Through the years, I had allowed myself to slip from the reigns of being the concert going king. I equate great shows as religious experiences. So as someone always seeking change, I decided to rev up my concert-going flair this year. It started back up in February with Justin Timberlake’s “FutureSex / LoveShow” at the St. Pete Times Forum with Billy, Kristin, Shauna, Nikki and Linda. JT was great, but I was a bit too drunk from the pre-drinking that immediately began earlier that day. After “I-cannot-even-tell-you-how-long,” I ran into Ruby at The Castle that night (“Lovestoned” by Justin Timberlake). She asked why I hadn’t been out as much as before lately. I asked her where the hell she had been hiding. We both concluded that 2007 was going to be the year of our “Comeback Tour.” Out every night. Going to every Tampa “it” event. Hanging out constantly. Sadly for me, I got sidetracked and at times felt as if I were on my “Farewell Tour.” Ruby managed to hold her own very nicely though.

In May, I luckily scored 7th row seats to Gwen Stefani’s “Sweet Escape Tour” for Steven MichaelRay, Kristin, Kimmie and I. Everyone seemed to be there that night, but the four of us were in our own little world (“The Sweet Escape” by Gwen Stefani). Somehow, Steven convinced me to become his personal photographer for the night and I just kept snapping up photos of him. He somehow later convinced me to photograph him sitting in a tree that he conveniently climbed thanks to the help of a turned-over trash can. (Kristin’s persuasive pressure to model just like Joanie, an America’s Next Top Model Cycle 6 contestant, did in an episode that involved an elephant MAY have helped too.) July brought the 80’s Classic Summer Jam, where nostalgia was in overload as Harry, Jeremy Gloff and I jammed out to Expose, C&C Music Factory, Shannon and Lisa Lisa.

A staple with going to concerts in 2007 was running into my favorite non-stalking stalkers Thomas and Jabberjaw. There they were standing in line behind me at the Britney Spears show at the House of Blues in Orlando. There they were working radio promotions at the Fergie show at Ruth Eckerd Hall. And of course there they were at the Beyonce Experience when Kristin, Steven and I sat second row from the stage, and apparently dead-center in front of the jumbotron cameras. I have no idea how ridiculously retarded the three of us looked on the jumbotron screens as we unknowingly danced to “Crazy In Love” or sang along to “Irreplaceable” in front of the entire arena. Probably just as silly as when Steven, Kristin and I looked when we thought it a good idea to reenact Beyonce’s video at P-House the second night of Steven’s “Shee Haw!” show. (“Get Me Bodied [Extended Edit]” by Beyonce)

This year was originally concluding with Kristin and me seeing the Spice Girls in New York City. But the NYC date got moved around, and in popped a February 15th, 2008 show in Chicago. Now Ryan Prado, Kristin and I will be flying up to the Windy City to see them with Sterling and Neil. Maybe I’ll call Jon La May during the show, so he can freak out like he did in Jacksonville when Steven and I took charge of David Phan’s IPod (“Spice Up Your Life” by The Spice Girls). And maybe I’ll call David Phan to play the song that he has (both drunkenly and soberly) serenaded me with when he decides to leave me another silly voicemail (“2 Become 1” by The Spice Girls). Most likely I will do both.

“I must apologize for acting stank & treating you this way
Cause I’ve been acting like sour milk all on the floor
It’s your fault you didn’t shut the refrigerator
Maybe that’s the reason I’ve been acting so cold…”
“The Sweet Escape” by Gwen Stefani feat. Akon

My friend Dan from Australia was visiting the States, spending a couple months studying in New Orleans for school. After years of corresponding online, I immediately jumped at the opportunity to meet Dan. Harry had been asking me for years to visit New Orleans with him. His sister Marie resides there, and Harry used to live there himself. After 16 years of knowing one another, this would be the very first time that Harry and I had decided to take a trip with just the two of us.

Harry’s sis, Marie, was nothing short of fabulous. Meeting Dan was a true honor. And traveling with Harry was… ummmm… entertaining. You haven’t partied hard, unless you’ve partied with Harry (“Rehab” by Amy Winehouse). I sometimes sit back and envy that boy’s stamina to keep going. In no means am I a shy person, but Harry is a true social dragon who can instantly make any random bar manager buy him rounds of drinks the entire night while instantly attracting any given stranger to become his new best friend for the night. “Every man dies, but not every man lives” is Harry’s mantra, and he’s the only person I know that takes that mantra and not only runs with it, but humps on it, grinds on it, drinks it, licks it and dances on the stripper pole with it. Just don’t look down when Harry asks you to hold his drink. (Side note to Harry: Biiiitch, yes I did go there! LOL)

“Those pigeons aren’t rats with wings, they’re heffas with feathas!”
My observation to Harry in the French Quarter

In some aspects, my friend Neil in Chicago can remind me of Harry. Katina called out a slight resemblance the first night she met Neil. When Chicago Gina was visiting Tampa last year, she acknowledged their similarities. But at the same time, those two could not be any more different from one another. What they share though is their ability to crack my ass up in hysterics. Just the mere silliness of our jokes can cause me to cry from laughing so hard. Last month, Tampa Gina and I flew up to Chicago just to get out of town for a weekend. Instead of the usual staying with Chicago Gina (“It’s You, It’s Me” by Kaskade), we stayed at Neil’s new pad that he was still in the process of moving into. Neil entertained everyone the entire weekend with his comments on Janet’s “Pleasure Principal” music video, the Kimora Lee reality show marathon, and his ‘wop-ping’ catwalk dance number (“Just Fine” by Mary J. Blige) debut. It’s no surprise whatsoever that every single friend of mine who has met Neil has fallen in love with his (as Kimora Lee would say) “fabulosity!”

There is just something about doctors that my friends and I love. Neil is a doctor, as is my always-shirtless friend Derek. I have known Derek for 4-5 years now, and we met through a random encounter at Orpheum with him and Kristin. Since then, he has stuck around through the years. Derek never fails in making me feel like a million bucks. He creates the fun if I am starting to look bored. He allows me and Cheri to offend his friends on his Graduation Night. He shoots words of encouragement my way whenever I am down. And he’ll dance his ass of with me at the drop of a dime if a good song starts playing (“Girls” by Calvin Harris).

Maybe, it’s not just doctors that I love, but anyone in the medical profession. Everyone knows I love Katina, who is a nurse. But Kristin and Shauna are both nurses as well.

In the beginning stages of her relationship with Ben, Kristin (“Oh My God” by Mark Ronson w/ Lily Allen) invited me and Shauna to see Ben’s band’s gig in Sarasota. Even though Sarasota is not far at all, the drive there and back made it seem like we were driving to Mars. On the way, it began storming really, really badly… I mean, the kind of lightning striking beside the car type of bad. To look out any window was virtually impossible since the rain was coming down faster than speeding bullets. We got scared every time a lightning bolt loudly cracked and lit up the entire sky. So we pulled over for a bit, waited for a good half an hour for the storm to calm the hell down before proceeding… only to wind up getting lost somewhere in Riverview. To pass time, Shauna appointed me as the IPod DJ. “I wanna hear some Mary!” “I wanna hear some Whitney!” The only request not made was the one that got the three of us singing together (“Umbrella” by Rihanna feat. Jay-Z). Imagine hearing three tired and somewhat buzzed people collectively singing the lines “Ella ella eh eh”!

“You really do love Okie.”
My mother, over the phone to Kristin,
after Kristin spent the entire night with me at the hospital

At the urgent request from nurse Katina (“Makes Me Wonder” by Maroon 5) to have my thyroid checked, I scheduled a doctor’s appointment in March. Thyroid disease runs in my family, and Katina believed that I too would be diagnosed with a related problem. The lab tests and blood work showed no concrete signs of an existing problem, but I did suffer from extreme hypertension. I remember being at the Doctor’s office, and the nurse just looking so perplexed with my blood pressure. She had another nurse check it on a different machine, and when it read the same, the doctor was immediately sent to see me. He asked if I was feeling okay and that I may be sent to the Emergency Room. I had no idea what any of the numbers meant when he told me my blood pressure. I called Kristin, told her and she immediately jumped in her car to rush over to be with me there. 210/120 was my blood pressure that day. I was told by two doctors and a cardiologist that I would undoubtedly suffer from a stroke very soon if I didn’t immediately take better care of myself.

The first scare happened in May while I was at work. I remember texting Kristin and Katina that something was wrong, but the night-shift nurses were still sleeping and unresponsive. I felt dizzy. I had a pounding migraine. I was having problems breathing. I nearly fainted twice at work. I called Tampa Gina. She was at work, but just up and left to come and take me to the emergency room because she was so worried. On the car ride to the hospital, I was freaking out. I started to cry when my legs fell asleep. Katina finally called me back, and I couldn’t even talk to her because I was so choked up with tears. I couldn’t even finish my first sentence to her I was crying so badly. Gina had to grab the phone from me to continue the conversation of what was going on. If it weren’t for Gina (and her mother who met us at the hospital) calming me down and making me feel safe, then I would’ve been a complete emotional wreck walking into the ER that day. Her and her mother’s concern and love honestly got me through the initial shock. (“Doin’ It” by LL Cool J… Gina’s favorite song)

There were talks that I had diabetes, or that something was wrong with my gallbladder. There were talks that my problems were all cardiac-related.

While none of those talks proved true, everything is fine now. I am fine now. Everything I was tested for was inconclusive. So I never really got a precise medical diagnosis of what exactly caused my two hospitalizations. But my blood pressure is dramatically down since the last overnight hospital stay. I’m taking meds. The last doctor’s visit went well. I am going to be okay.

Contrary to what you may have seen or heard, Jon La May did NOT bust me out of the hospital. I was already being discharged, and he just so happened to be visiting when I was told I could leave. Jon La May (“Silver Lining” by Rilo Kiley) became my personal Patch Adams. The time he and everyone spent visiting me in my ugly old-man hospital gown only helped me realize that everything would be just fine.

“No stress through the night, at a time in my life
Ain’t worried about if you feel it
Got my head on straight, I got my mind right
I aint gonna let you kill it”
“Just Fine” by Mary J. Blige

My work granted me a week’s vacation to take some time to relax after my recent medical drama and hospitalizations. I was desperate to just get away, and jetted up to NYC to spend some time with Hilary and Sammie in NYC. Hilary moved to NYC from Tampa in May to re-energize her career. Sammie was commuting back and forth from Tampa to NYC for work.

The first night I’m there, Sammie takes us to Hiro for the Peter Bjorn & John (“Young Folks” by Peter Bjorn & John) concert. I was exhausted. If it weren’t for Sammie pointing out that Mary-Kate Olsen was sitting at the V.I.P. table right next to ours, I would have asked to leave earlier. We all stalked and watched Mary-Kate chain-smoke her cigs one after the other like an old man. Peter Bjorn & John were taking forever to take the stage, so we watched Mary-Kate leave Hiro after an hour or so of waiting. 5 minutes later, so did Sammie, Hilary and I.

“If Hiro isn’t good enough for Michelle Tanner,
then it’s not good enough for Okie Tilo.
When she leaves, I LEAVE!”
Me rationalizing the real reason we left Club Hiro that night

Sammie had to fly back down to Tampa that Saturday, so Hilary and I were left to enjoy the city together. She introduced me to the creeper Apple martinis at Alfredo’s, the high-octane mango margaritas at Santa Fe’s, the brilliant convenience of Hot & Crusty and the beauty that is Central Park, a place that I had never been to before. We spent the entire day lying around in the park, engaging in intellectual conversations on such deep topics as the the living situation on Full House. Yeah, I know! It’s just that damn Mary-Kate Olsen sighting set the tone for our entire weekend.

I laid on the grass in Central Park for hours, listening to Hil’s IPod. While I laid there, I caught Hilary staring at me out from the corner of my eye. I turned the IPod volume up, and there she was still staring at me with a look of shock before finally exclaiming, “I HEAR BONNIE! GIMME THAT OTHER EARPHONE!!!” (“I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bonnie Raitt) For those unaware, Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me” is mine and Hilary’s song, so for me to listen to it without her was the ultimate slap across the face.

“I’m glad you’re feeling better and okay.
I really didn’t feel like singing Bonnie by a hospital bed!”
Hilary’s text message to me on the first day I returned to work

I never participate in doing the “tourist-y things” when visiting a city. I’m more of a “take my ass to where the real fun is” type of guy, instead of “hey let’s waste photos on landmark buildings that I can see online.” But I decided to do something different, and went to the top of Rockerfeller Center with Hil where we experienced motion sickness. We strolled down 5th Avenue. Embarked on visual shopping sprees at Tiffany’s and the Apple Store. That evening, we danced our asses off to 80’s music at Beauty Bar in The Village. And that week spent in NYC brought Hilary (“Happy Ending” by Mika) and I much closer.

So what a treat it was to have Hilary join Harry and I when we went to visit old-friend Lana in Boston the first weekend of November. It had been years of Lana living up in B-Town, and I felt bad that her and I never were able to sync our schedules to align for a visit. One day, Lana sent Harry and I a text message that she was finally free for a weekend, an invitation to both come up there. Obviously Harry and I jumped at the chance to fly up to Boston (“Spells Of Desire” by Kylie Minogue). Hilary was planning to take the train over from New York to see all of us. Stephanie Brooke set up Saturday plans for us. I made a promise with Mimi to visit when she moved up there, and instantly shot her a message of my arrival.

I honestly had forgotten how much I missed Lana (“Call The Shots” by Girls Aloud). On Saturday, Stephanie took Harry, Hilary and I out to lunch and a driving-tour of Boston. Harry and I later met up with Mimi, Aura and “the midget,” basically just cracking jokes the entire time. That evening, Harry and I joined Stephanie and Jason at a Costume Party. I fucking lost the digital camera in a taxi there, so any photos of Mimi or the photo shoot in Boston Commons are lost forever, fueling even more of a reason to visit next year.

“Wake up in the morning, stumble on my life
Can’t get no love without sacrifice
If anything should happen, I guess I wish you well
A little bit of heaven, but a little bit of hell”
“Happy Ending” by Mika

I guess what they say about New Years is true. They say that what you are doing on New Years Eve and who you are with will pretty much map out the blueprints as to what the rest of your year will look like and who you will spend it with. Last New Year’s Eve, I was drunk with a big group of friends. And of course last year was nothing but a big party and social year spent with them. This past New Year’s Eve however, I chose to stay home. My plans to party in Los Angeles with Billy fell through, so I decided to stay home alone. I accidentally fell asleep around 9:30pm and slept through the New Years 2007 celebrations. I woke up the next morning. Hangover-free and alone.

The majority of this year, I was alone. It was not a product of circumstance… I chose to be alone.

“I’ve traveled alone quite a bit lately and I think it makes me super-aware of my surroundings. Things that I may not see when in the company of others glare bright(er) when you’re alone in a strange place. As lonely as it is to travel alone at times, it actually puts you at an advantage to see and experience new things.”
Steve-O, in a comment he left on my Key West blog

Being alone and away from my friends and family for nearly two weeks when my work (yet again) sent me down to Key West set something off and trigged my mind to aimlessly wander. All of my friends thought that I was lucky to be on an all-expense trip down in the Keys. Yes it was cool the first time I was sent last year. This time around was different. I did have a blast the last days of the trip when my friend Heidi and her daughter Ash were coincidentally and conveniently visiting the Keys from Illinois while I still down there. And Ginnie, my company’s consultant and I forged a bond by the end of the assignment. But towards the beginning of the trip, I would aimlessly walk around Key West for hours. Just me and my headphones, and two songs (“Stranger” by Hilary Duff, “Sober” by Kelly Clarkson) that were tugging at me. I was miserable. I began a downward spiral into a breakdown while there.

I guess I carried some of that breakdown back with me when I returned home. I was flaky, breaking promises made to friends. I unreasonably snapped and yelled at people who did nothing but love me. I allowed my problems with others begin to affect my relationship with loved ones. I started to distance myself from everyone for no true reason at all. Who and what I used to run towards for comfort became the very things that I started to run away from in the other direction. The transparencies of people and places became more evident when alone. When I’m giving 110 percent and only receiving 49 percent back, it becomes inevitable not to (“49 Percent” by Royksopp). I started to unnecessarily categorize nearly all of my friends as never having my best interests in mind. It just boggled my mind how some people can sit back and turn a blind-eye when they know that someone is slowly slipping away and needing (sometimes even asking for) help, especially if those people are ones who claim to care for and love you immensely. I failed to realize how obvious my behavior and actions were to others after having a conversation with Linley (“Dancing” by Elisa) just two weeks ago, but I am happy that it has changed.

That was just a weird point in time for me in 2007. I am sorry for anyone who I may have hurt during that time.

“I still don’t have the reason
And you don’t have the time
And it really makes me wonder
If I ever gave a fuck about you
Give me something to believe in
Cause I don’t believe in you
Anymore, ANYMORE
I wonder if it even makes a difference to try
So this is goodbye”
“Makes Me Wonder” by Maroon 5

2007 THEME
I remember Katina asking me why I never danced anymore when I go out. I told her that I just wasn’t in the mood to which she exclaimed: “Maybe you’re depressed. My friend says that when someone starts to not enjoy something that they love then there’s something wrong.” Katina was right.

One night at Georgies, I remember Harry being shocked when I started to dance with Evy. “You don’t understand Evy, it’s been so long since that boy has danced!” At that time of the year, it had been. Harry was right.

This past February in Chicago, I was in an troubled mood on my first night there. Katina grabbed me at the bar at Berlin and said, “Down this drink! Let’s get up on that platform and dance!” I didn’t want to, but I did. I just remember hearing the repetitive line of a song start to blare out the speakers. “…and you couldn’t see me!” Katina and I spent nearly an hour and a half straight of (as Katina would point out) hard-to-breathe, thigh-hurting, sweat-dripping stage dancing! I was with someone who I have always trusted and loved. At that point in time, no other bullshit mattered. Katina dragging me onto the dancefloor with her was the best idea of the night.

When David Phan was visiting in October, he and I continually played that same song on repeat in the car. “It was me on that road, and you couldn’t see me… too many lights out… nowhere near here…” I was dealing with certain issues at that particular moment in time, and being with him and hearing that song transported me away from all of the sadness. That song stayed on repeat all night Saturday and all day Sunday while he was in Tampa.

2007 was definitely not my favorite year in the least bit. I lost some friendships. I lost any inspiration in life the middle part of the year. I lost faith in people. I lost faith in myself. I lost myself. Sad to say, there were certain parts of this year where I began to scare myself. Towards the end of the year, I decided to take charge and couldn’t be any happier that everything is seemingly back to normal.

Steven MichaelRay was supposed to move with Dallas to New Jersey at the beginning of this year. Hilary moved to New York City in May. Cheri moved to Los Angeles five months earlier than planned. Billy Jolie is moving early next year to start his new career. And in some aspects, I felt as if I had moved too… as if I wasn’t really here for most of 2007. In a strange way, I don’t feel that this year happened the way that it was supposed to, hence why I symbolically blurred myself out in all of this blog’s photos.

Every time I hear that “…and you couldn’t see me” song, I think of those two above-mentioned carefree moments with Katina and David Phan. The lyrics pretty much sum up this year. And for that, “What Else Is There? (Thin White Duke Edit)” by Royksopp is the song that sums up 2007 for me. And in a year where I nearly lost it, that song is a reminder to never give in. And to never give up. Here’s to the New Year 2008… I hope it’s a year filled with happiness. “And Flash lights. And explosions.” I am ready and excited to dance my way into it.

I honestly could not compose this blog without quadrupling its size if I wrote about my year with Billy Jolie and the millions of songs that bring him to mind. I guess if I had to pick only one song about him, it would be “The Beat Goes On” by Madonna. “Always the bridesmaid, never the bride…” Billy, aren’t you a bride now? You were a BIG part of my life in 2007, so it would make sense that a blog about 2007 would be dedicated to you!

And lastly… we missed creating any new memories in 2007 together. In fact, we spent nearly all of 2007 apart and not talking. Since you missed out on what happened with me in 2007, this blog is for you too Cheri.

“It was me on that road…

You couldn’t see me…

Too many lights out…

Nowhere near here…

And the flash lights…

And explosions…

And flash lights…

And explosions…

It was me on that road…

…but you couldn’t see me!”

My 2007 Soundtrack Tracklisting:
1. Fergie – Fergalicious
2. Fergie – Glamorous
3. Fergie – Big Girls Don’t Cry
4. Jennifer Lopez – Do It Well
5. k-OS – Sunday Morning
6. Timbaland feat. Nelly Furtado & Justin Timberlake – Give It To Me
7. Rihanna – Breakin’ Dishes
8. Top Loader – Dancing In The Moonlight
9. Diddy with Keyshia Cole – Last Night
10. Timbaland feat. One Republic – Apologize
11. Texas – Inner Smile
12. Justin Timberlake – Lovestoned
13. Gwen Stefani – The Sweet Escape
14. Beyonce – Get Me Bodied (Extended Edit)
15. Spice Girls – Spice Up Your Life
16. Spice Girls – 2 Become 1
17. Amy Winehouse – Rehab
18. Kaskade – It’s You, It’s Me
19. Mary J. Blige – Just Fine
20. Calvin Harris – Girls
21. Mark Ronson feat. Lily Allen – Oh My God
22. Rihanna feat. Jay-Z – Umbrella
23. Maroon 5 – Makes Me Wonder
24. LL Cool J – Doin’ It
25. Rilo Kiley – Silver Lining
26. Peter Bjorn & John – Young Folks
27. Bonnie Raitt – I Can’t Make You Love Me
28. Mika – Happy Ending
29. Kylie Minogue – Spells Of Desire
30. Girls Aloud – Call The Shots
31. Hilary Duff – Stranger
32. Kelly Clarkson – Sober
33. Royksopp – 49 Percent
34. Elisa – Dancing
35. Royksopp – What Else Is There? (Thin White Duke Edit)
36. Madonna – The Beat Goes On

ThriveMix Presents: Electro
Kanye West – Graduation
…my two favorite albums of 2007!

“Pretend you don’t see it, that we can live a lie
when you run… So you run…
Everyone says you’re amazing now that you’re clean
Only you know who the real ones are cause you’ve seen
There’s only one question I want to ask – is it here and
When you hear everyone say you’re amazing
…Does anyone ask you?”
“Amazing (Thin White Duke Edit)” by Seal

I have a feeling that 2008 will be the beginning of how everything was always meant to be.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2005: The Soundtrack to My Life [12.15.2005]

Originally posted on MySpace on December 15, 2005:

While everyone else is posting 2005 surveys, I figured that I’d post the songs that reminded me of different moments from this past year. As Gina told me today, “this year has been the worst and best year of my life!” Amen to that. These songs will forever remind me of (insert subject here) for the year 2005:

CIARA’S “1-2 STEP” will forever remind me of Katina. It’s amazing how she can complain about how much pain her back is in, only to jump on the stage and swing around the stripper pole 2 seconds after this song comes on. She debuted her stripper routine to this at Valentine’s, and pretended to sing this after she was caught jamming along to “Abracadabra”.

MARIO’S “LET ME LOVE YOU” will remind me of my 5-year old nephew Christian serenading me and my family with his lovely rendition… even though he didn’t know ¾ of the words.

O-ZONE’S “DRAGOSTEA DIN TEI” will remind me of Rory. When I was in a bad mood, she would sing the “Mi-Okie” song to cheer me up… and I would sing her SOPHIE ELLIS-BEXTOR’S “MIXED UP WORLD”. We would request O-Zone at the Castle, and go buckwild when the DJ acknowledged our request. When I heard this song at a bar in Seattle, I immediately thought of her.

GWEN STEFANI’S “HOLLABACK GIRL” will always remind me of… one word… three syllables… TO… RON… TO! Fucking take my ass back there NOW… my favorite place to be in the whole entire world. I was put on this Earth to go to Toronto every year!

GREEN DAY’S “BOULEVARD OF BROKEN DREAMS” reminds me of walking down the streets of Toronto in 20 degree weather with Zilo, desperately looking for a cool bar to hang out at.

MARIAH CAREY’S “IT’S LIKE THAT” will remind me of… “Hey Katina, this club sucks and no one knows how to dance? Let’s request some songs, go onstage, and put on a show for everyone… Tampa-style!”

JLO’S “GET RIGHT” reminds me of Gasparilla, Donna’s ponytail extensions, and dancing like a madman at Harry’s party.

THE PUSSYCAT DOLLS’ “DONTCHA” reminds me of Cheri, because she was always going crazy when they played this song when we were out.

KEANE’S “SOMEWHERE ONLY WE KNOW” reminds me the numerous drives with Harry from Brandon to Valentine’s to Georgie’s back to Valentine’s then to the Male Room, Metropolis, City Side and the Castle all in one night. Whew! Our lonely souls would opt to hear this, RADIOHEAD’S “KARMA POLICE” or COUNTING CROWS’ “A LONG DECEMBER” as he endlessly searched for his “parfait” for the night.

KYLIE MINOGUE’S “I BELIVE IN YOU” will remind me of my trip up to Seattle and Chicago with Tommy. To have an actual vacation where I refrained from being a club-bar-hoe was refreshing. Such a beautiful song to match two beautiful cities, and a beautiful point in time.

THE KILLERS’ “MR. BRIGHTSIDE” reminds me of Harry, and only makes me miss him more. I learned a lot about myself because of spending time with this fool.

GORILLAZ’S “FEEL GOOD, INC.” reminds me of Jon La May, because I had first heard this song on his profile. The first time that he and I ever truly hung out at Orpheum, what I remember most about that night besides the drunken lifts outside was him dancing up a storm when the DJ played this.

FISCHERSPOONER’S “CLOUD” will remind me of K3lly and Chi-town Gina. Gina highly recommended the song to me. K3lly downloaded it and e-mailed it to me. It was the first time that I had met K3lly, and both Gina and I admitted to one another how we both had “lost ourselves” at that same point in time.

MARIAH CAREY’S “WE BELONG TOGETHER” will remind me of all the precious time wasted on foolishly believing in the idea of a soulmate.

MISSY ELLIOT’S “LOSE CONTROL” will remind me of Cheri Rose and her possession. Once Cheri drank, the top came off and the drunken madness began. BUT once “Lose Control” came on, the bra came off, the skirt came up, and the rest is in Gina’s birthday poem.

YING YANG TWINS ADAM LEVINE’S “LIVE AGAIN” will remind me listening to this song on repeat for a good 3 hours with David Phan. I remember driving to Orlando with him, and craving to hear the song so badly… hanging out in Katina’s computer room, blasting the hell out of it while “Myspace-ing it up”… or experiencing the scandal at Paloma’s pool party while singing it. “I’m so sick and I’m so tired of these clubs… I keep crying…”

GWEN STEFANI’S “COOL” will remind me of Gina, and dancing with her at the Castle, CZAR, Orpheum, Flirt, Blue Martini, and anywhere that could handle such hotness.

SHAKIRA’S “LA TORTURA” will remind me of Vanessa unsuccessfully attempting to teach me how to salsa at Flirt. Some folks just won’t ever learn.

THE WHISPERS’ “ROCK STEADY” will remind me “Sheikra” in Cheri’s car. I know it’s an ancient song, but to be so carefree and laughing the night away while drunk as can be at 3:30AM… this song was the best thing that I could’ve asked to hear. It made me dance Nick-style at each red light. Hanging out the sunroof with Katina, while Cheri sped down I-75 was better than any rollercoaster at any theme park in the entire universe.

AUDIO BULLYS’ “BANG BANG (I SHOT YOU DOWN)” will remind me of Sammie and doing the fish-hook dance with her at the Castle. Lately, Nick collapsing onto the ground comes to mind as well.

THE KILLERS’ “ALL THESE THINGS THAT I HAVE DONE” will remind me of dancing with sexy Sterling at the Castle. When that song came on, we both did not have to say one single world to one another. We would both immediately look at one another, come closer together and just dance the night away. We even clapped our hands together during the “I got soul” part (as did Gina and I).

NINE INCH NAILS’ “ONLY” reminds me of planning the Red Hood Fashion Show with Ben. I guess because while I was sending out e-mails to the Tampa Tribune and Weekly Planet and calling around, this mp3 was blasting from my speakers.

BLACK EYED PEAS’ “MY HUMPS” will remind me of being at Flirt. I never liked this song, but would find myself dancing to it. I was never a big fan of Flirt, but would find myself always going there. Go figure.

M.I.A.’S “BUCKY DONE GONE” reminds me going ape-shit wild at where else?… the Castle. I can clearly see Nick’s high-kicks and bicycle dance on his back while lying on the plattform when listening to this.

RENT’S “SEASONS OF LOVE” will remind me of Gina. She couldn’t stop singing it on the way to the movie, and couldn’t stop singing it on the way home from the movie. I’ve seen the musical numerous times and had already seen the movie once, but she pointed out how much our group of friends mirrored the characters in RENT… an obvious comparison I failed to ever notice.

MADONNA’S “HUNG UP” will remind me of dancing with Linley on the stage, watching Katina re-enact the music video choreography on the stage, and K3lly and Alex screaming like little girls off the stage.

I cannot wait to see what 2006 has in store… but I have the sneakiest feeling that Peaches’ new songs will make 2006’s Soundtrack, especially when recounting a certain weekend that will be taking place sometime in March of next year. Hmmm…

MySpace User Comments:

*Gina* This is brilliant…just brilliant!

David Phan That was such a sweet post Okie.. What reminds me of you and Katina, that damn song.. OMG how does it go.. OOO OOO OOO.. Putting that in every song that we sang in Katina’s computer room.. I love you guys!! MUAH

Okesene Tilo David, we stayed up that ENTIRE night singing Whitney Houston and The Jets while putting that damn “ooo ooo ooo” part in every song. That was such a fun-ass night. It really was.

Katina Franke Aww what a cute post Okie! I’m glad so many songs remind you of me. 🙂 Let me see you 1-2 Step…I mean, ABRA ABRA Cadabra!
Love you! Can’t wait to re-enact 2005 in Toronto for 2006!!!

Okesene Tilo Returning to Toronto will be insane… I have NO idea what to expect or what will happen. I kinda think that we should make a lil’ appearance at our club that we went to on Friday night, just to be reminded of the bad dancing. We should request “Abracadabra” or “Red Red Wine” and dance it up just for shits and giggles. Look to the left, look to the right, look to the left, slide right hand down right side of head!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,