A Little Fun with Sharon Marie

Sharon Marie

Sharon Marie Esparza is a favorite unheralded girl-group wonder from 1960s California. Run Around Lover is one of my favorite “girl-group” songs, though recorded by a single lass with a refreshingly basso voice– so unlike the many high-pitched stars of 1963 radio: Lesley Gore, Marcie Blane, etc. She was a Beach Boys protege, and I’ve read that she dated one of them– Mike Love?  [That may not be true, according to a message posted to this blog.] In any event, this is a good example of Brian Wilson recording in the “Phil Spector style,” heightened with fabulous surf drums. Sharon Marie recorded eight songs; this is the best. The background vocals are provided by The Blossoms, the lead singer of whom is my favorite– Darlene Love. You can clearly her smoky warbling throughout the song, as the Blossoms do a great call-and-response to Sharon Marie’s confident, thunderous lead: 


Sharon Marie has BIG HAIR !! The pictures are from her Facebook page. I copied them today, and if she sees this and yells at me, I will certainly understand if I have to remove them… but I did want to share them with you!

And here’s a Brian Wilson compilation disc that features Sharon Marie in the center…

A Vacancy At the Vatican


Boy, am I lucky! As you know, the Vatican recently decided to rent out some of the Papal apartments after realizing that Benedict XVI really didn’t need all that room: a little reading, a little resting, a little speaking ex cathedra… that doesn’t require a lot of space. With that in mind, the Holy See held a lottery for all the available apartments, and I was one of the lucky winners. I say “lucky” because the view is great– you know they’ll NEVER build view-ruining condos nearby. Also, the rent is very affordable. If the concierge had told me that it would cost me three hundred million lire a month to live there, I might have blanched, but 3000 Euros sounded so much more reasonable… I would have been a fool not to move in! Also, everyone knows that St. Peter’s Square is made of concrete instead of grass, so there are no maintenance fees that we all have to chip in for– and no condo associations!

It sounded perfect, and I moved in just last Monday. I spent that happy first day dusting the filigreed putti that decorated the ceilings, which meant that I had to search Rome for a tall enough ladder; to my chagrin, all the ladder-renting shops in Rome are only open on Friday mornings from 6 to 9. Luckily I was able to borrow one from the man who cleans the top of the obelisk every Saturday afternoon. (Pigeons are everywhere!) The little angels seemed happy that I was there to brush the cobwebs from their eyes– all the better to view the frescoes on the walls below. Those are wonderful, incidentally– the masterpiece above my kitchen sink features a sixty-by-ninety foot fresco of the Israelites crossing the Red Sea, the Egyptians on their horses in hot pursuit. When I turn on both faucets full blast, it adds to the realism!

I settled in that first week, happy to wander the vast rooms, and restraining myself from Windexing the bust of Pope Sixtus I that rests on the bureau facing my bed. (The lease agreement forbids such desecrations, though I tell you my hands are itching to wipe away twenty centuries of dust.) Of course, his staring face is 200 feet away from where I rest my own head, but still; I’m just saying.

Everything was perfect until the following Sunday. I’d decided to sleep in, figuring I’d go to the Last Chance Mass in the late afternoon, which is the liturgy for people who are lazy, who work on Sundays, and who would rather spend the morning brunching on La Via dei Condotti. (All venial sins, by the way.) Happily snuggled dreamily into sheets that any number of Papal visitors may have wrapped themselves in, I was awakened by a dull roar. Thinking it was another of those dreams in which I am applauded and praised by the multitudes, I smiled myself awake– and realized the applause was for someone else because I found myself most definitely alone. I went to the window overlooking the square, raised it open, and peeked out. Imagine my surprise– there, just to my right, was Benedict himself, on his balcony, receiving the clamorous plaudits of the tens of thousands who had amassed themselves below.

How could I sleep through all that? I leaned further out and caught his attention.

“Holy Father? Excuse me a second!” He turned slowly and faced me. “I’m paying a lot of money to live here. No offense, but do you think you and they (I pointed south) could keep it down a bit? I really need my rest, but I promise I’ll be at the five o’clock Mass later. Deal?” He looked at me like I was pazzo, which indeed I am, and then he turned to the crowd again and raised his arms; they grew instantly silent. “Thank you… grazie!” I said, and closed the window. You see? All you have to do is ask nicely, and you can get anything you want in this world. Anything!

However, a few minutes later it started up again. Up went my window, and I was more than a little testy. “Holy Father, I was really up VERY late last night eMailing Melina Mercouri about the Elgin Marbles issue– the woman will NOT let it rest– and so I’m very tired. Do you think you could do these sorts of things on Monday mornings when I’m at work?” Again he gave me the look; again the arms went up; again the crowd fell silent. Apparently it was not for my benefit. I continued.  “You know, not for nothing, but this place was built by Italians for Italians, if you catch my drift. I’d appreciate it if you respected my need for sleep. And while we’re at it, the aqueducts bringing water to my shower must be clogged because I’m getting absolutely no pressure. Could you look into that?”

The Swiss Guards paid a call on me the next morning. Not only was I severely reprimanded in fourteen languages, but I had to commit to a Penance which involves waxing the floor of the Basilica on my days off. “There’s not that much wax in all of Rome,” I cried, but they swore they would have plenty flown in.

They say people who win lotteries often come to a bad end… they’re right!

A Visit to Holland



What follows is a column I wrote some time ago for Watermark, the GLBT newspaper that I write for here in Florida.  It highly amused me when I first published it, and so I’d like to share it with my favorite readers. Enjoy, and please let me know what you think.


MY MOUTH loves to wrap itself around the complexities of foreign languages, and I think that I probably have always wanted to learn as many as possible because you never know when we’re going to have to get the hell out of here and find another country to live in, at the rate things are going– like a good Boy Scout, I want  to be prepared. So far, I can get along in Spanish and Italian and extremely bad French, yet I would fare excellently in Norwegian should the need arise. I can deal in Albanian with the aid of a large dictionary, and of course I speak Brooklynese and Fargo fluently. My next project is to become fluent in Dutch, which my friends think is because I want to talk to Amsterdam’s window boys in their native tongue: “Is that a javelin in your lap or are you just glad to see me? HOW much?! What is that in Euros? WHAT!! I still need money for souvenirs!!”

My little Dutch grammar book has a picture of a windmill on the cover, some tulips, men with funny hats, and a lot of people riding bicycles. Inside, the learning dialogues are typically hilarious– I am invited to follow the comings and goings of Elisabeth Pronk and Saskia Groeneveld as they wend their merry ways through Dutch life. It seems the most trying aspect of their days is an American named Helen Thompson, who is so intent on learning to speak Dutch that, by Chapter Two, she has apparently decided that she must introduce herself to every man, woman, and child in Holland. “Hello. My name is Helen Thompson. What is your name?”  “Hallo. Mijn naam is Helen Thompson. Wat is jouw naam?”  See how similar the two languages are? The pronunciation of Dutch, however, sounds like what would happen if you tried to teach your cigarette-smoking Schnauzer to talk—it’s not exactly the most romantic-sounding language on the planet.

In any event, the Misses Pronk and Groeneveld spend much of their time avoiding Helen by ducking into hashish cafes or slipping into porn cinemas. In Chapter Seven, Saskia is hit on the head by a windmill paddle and must be rushed to the hospital; within those hoary pages you learn the Dutch words for cat scan, internal bleeding, and last will and testament. Happily, she is pronounced well by Chapter Nine, and is able to sit up in bed and receive a long and anxious visit from the very concerned Helen Thompson. “Hallo. Mijn naam is Helen Thompson. Wat is jouw naam?” Helen has come bearing tulips, which Saskia would toss out the nearest window if the Dutch hadn’t so many laws against such things. At this point, Elisabeth  Pronk appears, and her intense dislike for Helen boils over into a nasty exchange in which hurtful words are flung, reputations are sundered, and international ties severed beyond repair. Saskia’s feeding tube comes undone, and poor Helen is blamed and taken away. Chapter Twelve brings us to the politie station in Amsterdam, where the hapless American is being interrogated prior to her deportation. All she can do is sob in her own defense, “mijn naam is Helen Thompson. Wat is jouw naam?”  but nobody seems to care. At this point I am too distraught to continue to Chapter Thirteen, as I am afraid of what the ostensibly happy Dutch have in store for Helen. However, after a short break, I am gratified to discover that all is well again; Saskia and Elisabeth have decided to take Helen for a stroll along the canals, with a stop perhaps at the Anne Frank House, and we learn the Dutch for “do you have family? And do any of them know you are visiting Holland?” Of course, all Helen can do is babble in reply, “mijn naam is Helen Thompson. Wat is jouw naam?” and the chapter ends with a splash.

I am  not yet proficient in Dutch, so I’d stay away from Pronk and Groeneveld if I should ever find myself in the Land of Dikes and Wooden Shoes. Just in case, I will memorize the Dutch for “take me to the American Embassy immediately!”

For more fun with languages, go to:


I Need These Horrible Plastic Wigs


I’d heard that these wigs were popular with little girls in the 1960s, but had never actually seen them. Cartoonist Lynda Barry once did a strip featuring them (and the trauma a character experienced after buying them). They do look pretty terrible, actually– like piles of dog crap. But I suppose, when you’re little, you’ll wear anything.

 UPDATE March 2, 2008.

Well, I can identify with Lynda Barry’s character– little Marlys was just as upset as I was when they arrived at MY house. Yes, I won the eBay auction. For a mere bag of shells I am the proud owner of these plastic wigs– and they’re even more horrible than I dared hope.

First, the box promises three different hairstyles, but two of the wigs are simply the same style in different colors. There’s no big bombastic red Baptist lady hairdo like on the box– the red wig I received is just another version of the brown wig.

Second, they smell- not like unwashed bodies or the backyard behind a pet store; these plastic wigs have a chemical smell which probably results from the sinister by-products used in the manufacturing process. Frightening things are being released into the atmosphere every time I remove them from the box. I’ll bet these wigs are responsible for global warming!

Third, they are very tight– they may fit a little girl’s head, but they do NOT fit Mommy’s head like the instructions promise. Nor do they fit Daddy’s head. (That would be me.) When they arrived at work from eBay, we all tried them on, and they fit nobody. And I wouldn’t dare try them on a real little girl.

To recoup my investment, albeit minimal, I will rent these out to anyone interested. Interested? Leave a comment!