Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

A Tribute to Native American Culture

(Oraibi Hopi Village, Northern Arizona, now abandoned. Public Domain photo.)

I was blessed with the opportunity to work with the Native American tribes in Northern Arizona when I worked in Flagstaff: Navajo, Hopi, Apache, and Supai. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Not only did I work with them in a medical capacity, but also as a psychiatric nurse. I met a lot of wonderful people, a lot of talented artists, and learned a lot about Native American culture.

Hopi/Tewa artist Duane Koyawena. Photo from Arizona Daily Sun.

Duane was one of my co-workers. He is not only an incredible artist, but a beautiful human being. Here’s an example of his work:

This painting won 1st prize in Fine Arts, Tahisma Art Show.

In 2017, I commissioned Duane to create a painting for my daughter for Christmas, which she loves. If you are interested in Duane’s work, please visit his website:

Duane Koyawena Arts

http://www.dkoyawenaarts.com

He also paints fabulous murals for community and corporate interior and exterior design.

A musical tribute to Native Americans all across America: a blend of Native American instruments and voices with western instruments and music. This clip features Gods & Heroes, Dela Dela, and A-La-Ke. Length: 9:55 minutes and worth watching for the music and the artwork.
Gathering of Nations Pow Wow in Albuquerque, New Mexico. A National Geographic video by Keeley Gould. 700 tribes gathered over 3 days to celebrate Native American cultural heritage. Length: 4:10 minutes and worth watching for the information and dancing.
(Havasu Falls, Havasupai Indian Reservation. Photo by M. Quinn)

Dawn Pisturino

November 22, 2021

Copyright 2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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My Sweet Lord – George Harrison

(George Harrison. Photo from Grammy.com.)

George Harrison, guitarist and songwriter for The Beatles, died of cancer in Beverly Hills, California on November 29, 2001. He was only 58 years old.

(George Harrison sings “My Sweet Lord.”)
Tribute to George Harrison: Billy Preston sings “My Sweet Lord” with Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, George’s son Dhani, and other Rock-n-Roll notables.
~Rest in Peace~

Dawn Pisturino

November 20, 2021

10 Comments »

Autumn Leaves

Photo by Yue Xing Yidhna Wang

In 1955, pianist Roger Williams recorded the pop hit, “Autumn Leaves,” which became the biggest selling piano recording of all times — even today. The song hit #1 on the Billboard pop music chart and earned a gold record. Williams, born in 1924, was a popular pianist who scored 22 hit singles and 38 hit albums during his lifetime. He died of pancreatic cancer in 2011.

“Autumn Leaves,” performed by Roger Williams. Incredible mastery at the piano!

“Autumn Leaves,” performed by Nat King Cole.
Jazz version sung by Eva Cassidy.

Autumn Leaves

The falling leaves drift by my window
The falling leaves of red and gold
I see your lips the summer kisses
The sunburned hands I used to hold

Since you went away the days grow long
And soon I’ll hear old winter’s song
But I miss you most of all my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall

Since you went away the days grow long
And soon I’ll hear old winter’s song
But I miss you most of all my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall

I miss you most of all my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall

Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: Giorgio Canali / Francesco Magnelli / Gianni Maroccolo / Massimo Zamboni / Giovanni Lindo Ferretti

Autumn Leaves lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Dawn Pisturino

November 11, 2021

Copyright 2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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“He Shall Feed His Flock” – Handel’s Messiah

I like to start out the holiday season by listening to Handel’s Messiah. Not only is the music powerful and majestic, with a wide variety of vocal ranges, but the lyrics and the music capture the essence of Jesus’ life and teachings. One of my favorite pieces is “He Shall Feed His Flock,” which is straight out of Matthew 11:28-29 and Isaiah 40:11 in the Bible. This Oratorio is a fine example of Baroque music that has endured for 280 years.

Performed by Swiss soprano Regula Muhlemann. From Handel’s Messiah.

Lyrics

He shall feed his flock like
A shepherd
And He shall gather
The lambs with his arm
With his arm

He shall feed his flock like
A shepherd
And He shall gather
The lambs with his arm
With his arm

And carry them in his bosom
And gently lead those
That are with young
And gently lead those
And gently lead those
That are with young

Come unto Him
All ye that labour
Come unto Him, ye
That are heavy laden
And He will give you rest

Come unto Him
All ye that labour
Come unto Him, ye
That are heavy laden
And He will give you rest

Take his yoke upon you
And learn of Him
For He is meek
And lowly of heart
And ye shall find rest
And ye shall find rest
Unto your souls

Take his yoke upon you
And learn of Him
For He is meek
And lowly of heart
And ye shall find rest
And ye shall find rest
Unto your souls

Source: Musixmatch

Scriptural text compiled by Charles Jennens.

Music by G.F. Handel, 1741.

Dawn Pisturino

November 6, 2021

Copyright 2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.


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A Tribute to Actor Michael York

Michael York as Pip in Great Expectations (1974)

Last night, I was thinking about the 1974 movie, Great Expectations, and wondering whatever happened to British actor Michael York. Was he still alive? An Internet search showed that he is 79 years old, living in West Hollywood, and still very much alive.

In 2011, my daughter, lyric soprano Ariel Pisturino, was a member of the cast in the Long Beach Opera production of Cherubini’s Medea. She had a singing role as one of Dirce’s handmaidens. One night, after the performance, an average looking elderly couple came up to her and expressed their admiration for her performance. The man was so sickly looking, he looked like he was in the last stages of cirrhosis of the liver, pancreatitis, or cancer. His skin was yellow and dry, his hair limp and straw-like. He seemed very familiar to me, but I could not immediately place him. But the man had a very distinctive theatrical voice, and there it was — Michael York!

(Lyric soprano Ariel Pisturino in 2011 at the furniture warehouse converted to a theater for the LBO production, Medea. Photo by Dawn Pisturino. The production garnered a lot of media coverage because former director, Andreas Mitisek, had a reputation for staging innovative opera productions in unusual locations.)

Michael York and his long-time wife, American photographer Patricia McCallum, were so kind and gracious to my daughter! He encouraged her talent and career and wished her the best for all of her future endeavors. He did not come off as arrogant or condescending, but just a real, down-to-earth person. In other words, he is not one of those Hollywood snobs who thinks he’s better than everybody else. He is not an angry, loud, foul-mouthed creep like Alec Baldwin, who was forced to go to anger management therapy. He and his wife showed up in ordinary clothes. In fact, they were under-dressed. With his obvious health problems, it looked like he had fallen on hard times. But the reality is a little different.

In 2012, York was diagnosed with amyloidosis, a rare disease in which insoluble proteins invade parts of the body and internal organs, eventually causing the organs to shut down. It took three years to get the right diagnosis. He underwent autologous stem cell transplant therapy and has been doing well since. A classically trained Shakespearean actor, York now writes books, does voiceovers, and promotes fundraising and public awareness of amyloidosis.

It just goes to show that no matter how talented you are, how important you think you are, or how rich you are, bad things happen. And it’s how you handle those challenges which determines the kind of person you are.

(Ariel Pisturino [facing front] as one of Dirce’s handmaidens in the LBO production of Medea.)

I will always have the greatest respect for Michael York for encouraging my daughter in her career. His humility and graciousness touched both our hearts. And I wish him and his wife all the best. We never know how our lives are going to end up, but we can never go wrong with being kind to others, supporting others with positive affirmations, and encouraging their hopes and dreams.

Michael York’s website: http://www.michaelyork.net

Long Beach Opera website: http://www.longbeachopera.org

Ariel Pisturino website: http://www.arielpisturino.com

Dawn Pisturino

November 4, 2021

Copyright 2011-2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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The Time Warp

In the early 1980s, before our daughter was born, my husband and I decided to attend the local revival of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. At midnight sharp, we were sitting in the audience at the old, art deco Millbrae Theatre in Millbrae, California, anxious for the movie to start. It was fun to look around the theatre at the many strange costumes worn by Rocky Horror fans. But, watcher beware! Once the movie started, we were pelted with candy, rice, and popcorn, and squirted with water from squirt guns, as fans reacted to various scenes in the movie. That was the fun of the revival – interacting with each other and the movie.

That couldn’t even happen nowadays because the Fun Police would be out trying to shut it all down. Kids are missing out on a lot of clean, harmless fun!

At that time, there were old, art deco theatres in just about every town along the El Camino Real, the main business artery that courses down the San Francisco Peninsula. I remember the red plush seats and elegant, red velvet stage curtain in the old Millbrae. I was fascinated by the gold gilding on the intricate art deco interior designs. Sadly, most of these theatres have been demolished or closed down.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) has always had a large cult following of people who just want to have a good time. The story is quirky, the characters and costumes bizarre, the music lively and entertaining.

Barry Bostwick (Brad Majors) and Susan Sarandon (Janet Weiss) play a naive, “square,” straight-laced couple whose car breaks down in the middle of nowhere. Forced to take refuge at Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s house, they are reluctantly exposed to the twisted, bizarre characters who live there.

Tim Curry plays the transvestite scientist, Dr. Frank-N-Furter, who is experimenting with creating the perfect male sex symbol (Peter Hinwood). The theme of the movie is pursuing “absolute pleasure,” which reflects the overriding social theme of the 1970s.

One of the most memorable scenes in the movie is the musical number, The Time Warp. Here’s where the audience gets up out of their seats and starts dancing in the aisles!

Enjoy! And don’t let the Fun Police spoil your fun! They are already trying to shut down Christmas this year.

Dawn Pisturino

October 11, 2021

Copyright 2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

16 Comments »

Godzilla Rules

After the bombing of Hiroshima, filmmakers became obsessed with sci fi movies that exposed and speculated about the harmful effects of radiation poisoning on humans and the environment. Giant, monstrous creatures produced from radiation exposure became a popular theme, particularly in Japan, where the original Godzilla was born in 1954. A whole series of movies featuring Godzilla and sundry other monsters followed. Even today, remakes of the Japanese originals remain popular. And merchandise sales of T-shirts, toys, and other items remain strong. Godzilla even earned his own pop song:

Blue Oyster Cult – Godzilla
Godzilla original movie theme, 1954.

Godzilla Rules!

Dawn Pisturino

October 2, 2021

Copyright 2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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Ride of the Valkyries

The Ride of the Valkyries is one of Richard Wagner’s most popular pieces. The music has been used as part of the soundtrack in Francis Ford Coppola’s movie, Apocalypse Now, included in Halloween music collections, and hailed as an anthem for strong, courageous women. Everybody loves the iconic image of hefty, solid women dressed in armor, ready to wage battle. The music is rousing, active, and elevating. And the scene, which marks the beginning of Act Three in the opera Die Walkure, appeals to people who appreciate the enduring legacy of Nordic and Teutonic mythology. It is the second opera in the four operas which make up the Der Ring des Nibelungen cycle (The Ring). Many people believe J.R.R. Tolkien derived The Lord of the Rings from Wagner’s Ring, but Tolkien always denied that idea. Still, the similarities cannot be ignored. Wagner’s ring is a symbol of complete and total power that can be wielded against others. Cursed by Alberich, it becomes the cause of all the misery in the world. Sound familiar?

But who and what are the Valkyries?

In Norse mythology, the Valkyries were warrior goddesses associated with the god Odin. Their primary function was to bring back the bodies of slain heroes to Valhalla, where they would feast with Odin. They were called the Einherjar. Some were chosen to fight with Odin at the end of the world, during Ragnarok.

Wagner uses Teutonic mythology in his opera. The Valkyries were the daughters of Wotan who chose which heroes would be slain and then transported their bodies to the halls of Valhalla. Wotan’s daughter, Brunnhilde, embodies the qualities of courage, strength, wisdom, and precognition. It is her sacrifice which finally destroys the cruel, omnipotent power of the ring and saves the world.

The Ride of the Valkyries, from the Metropolitan Opera 2012 production. Enjoy!

Dawn Pisturino

October 4, 2021

Copyright 2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

17 Comments »

Puttin’ on the Ritz

I’ve read that performer Michael Jackson was a big fan of Fred Astaire and studied his dance techniques. This became obvious in the style of some of his costumes, and in his own dance routines.

One of my favorite dance numbers by Fred Astaire is “Puttin’ on the Ritz.” The song was written by Irving Berlin in 1927 and published in 1929. In 1930, it became the central theme of the musical, Puttin’ on the Ritz. (See video below.)

The phrase “puttin’ on the Ritz” meant dressing fashionably in the slang of that day. The “Ritz” referred to the Ritz Hotel in London, England.

Fred Astaire performed his famous dance routine in the film, Blue Skies (1946). (See video below.)

Mel Brooks included a dance scene using Gene Wilder and Peter Boyle in 1974, in the movie Young Frankenstein.

The song and the dance were revived by the Dutch singer, Taco, in 1982 and became an international hit – MTV even aired the music video.

The music is still catchy, and makes you want to get up and dance!

Fred Astaire version (1946), courtesy of Drive-In Movie History on You Tube (includes a short clip from Young Frankenstein):

Taco version, courtesy of Taco on YouTube:

Harry Richman version (1930), courtesy of Addehiovy on YouTube:

Ritz Hotel, London, England

Dawn Pisturino

September 29, 2021

Copyright 2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

7 Comments »

Norwegian Black Metal Bands – Satanic or Psychotic?

Mayhem

The 1990s rock-and-roll scene spawned a second generation of black metal music – an offshoot of 1970s heavy metal, 1980s New Wave British Heavy Metal, and punk. This highly elitist genre catered to musicians who wanted to develop their own style and leave a permanent mark on the music industry. (Baddeley)

Bands adopted Satanic themes, and the music became more bizarre and atonal, preferring chaos over organized harmony. Make-up and costumes reflected the fierce competition between bands – the more exotic and dark, the better. The Goth movement was in full swing at this time and became another hallmark of the black metal look and sound. Images of death, suicide, and violence dominated the performance stage and album covers. “Corpse paint” – the distinctive black and white face paint used by many black metal bands – became the standard, inspired by such heavy metal bands as KISS and punk bands like the Misfits. (Baddeley)

Some bands fell under the influence of occultist Aleister Crowley, Anton La Vey – founder of the Church of Satan, – and the iconic imagery from The Lord of the Rings books. Using Satan to create a unique look, sound, and feel became a marketing tool for many bands trying to succeed in the music business. But other bands took Satanism to a far more serious level. (Baddeley)

In the 1980s, in Sweden, the black metal band Bathory began combining images from Norse mythology with neo-Nazi fascism, inventing the gruesome genre called “death metal.” This spelled the end of the group, but the fascination caught on, with other groups taking on the mantle. (Baddeley)

In Norway, an independent record label named Deathlike Silence was started by Oystein Aarseth, who nicknamed himself “Euronymous.” He claimed to be a true Satanist and owned the record shop, Helvete. In 1984, at the height of the first black metal wave, he formed the band, Mayhem, along with bass guitarist Jorn Stubberud (“Necrobutcher”) and drummer Kjetil Manheim. In 1988, Per Ohlin (“Dead”) joined the band as the lead vocalist, and Jan Axel Blomberg (“Hellhammer”) became the band’s drummer. (Baddeley)

Euronymous’ record store became a focal point for the second generation of black metal bands to flourish in Norway in the early 1990s. An elitist group of black metal bands formed the Black Metal Circle under the influence of Euronymous and his Satanist theology. His interpretation of the Bible’s story of the war between Heaven and Hell formed the basis of his Satanic beliefs. And he eagerly embraced Satanic ideas about evil, hate, and revenge. (Baddeley)

Other bands in this circle included Burzum, Emperor, Immortal, Enslaved, Arcturus, and Dark Throne. Dark Throne gradually fell apart as members became isolated, anti-social, and sociopathic to the point where they no longer got together to record any music. (Baddeley)

Kristian Vikernes was the leader of Burzum. He went by the stage name “Count Grishnack.” Later, he changed his Christian name to Varg, which is Norwegian for “wolf.” The band’s distinctive sound covered a wide range between sad and deeply emotional to dark, angry, and furious. Grishnack himself believed in the darkness versus light mythology embodied in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and embraced the violent, conquest-driven history of the Norwegian Vikings. It wasn’t long before the Black Metal Circle began to indulge in fantasies of race-based neo-Nazi fascism. (Baddeley)

The darkness that surrounded Mayhem made its presence felt when lead vocalist, Dead, committed suicide in April, 1991. He had been having fantasies about murder, for he said, “I started to imagine a heavy fog lit up by a full moon. This fog oozed up from that place, drifting woefully in silence to extinguish the lives of the local people and bring their souls to Lord Satan” (Rolling Stone). He died by slitting his wrists and throat and then shooting himself in the head with a shotgun (NME). He left a suicide note in which he expressed his alienation from the world and desire to live alone in the forest (Baddeley). He also wrote, “Excuse the blood” (NME).

Euronymous found the body, took photographs, and kept a piece of Dead’s skull, which he wore as a necklace (Baddeley; NME). He also scooped up part of Dead’s brains and, later, ate it in soup. Members of the Black Metal Circle called Dead a hero (Baddeley).

Dead’s suicide led to an international resurgence in black metal music. The Black Metal Circle designated “Norway as the Aryan homeland” (Baddeley), impugning other countries and other bands as inferior, and sparking a war that led to threats and harassment from all sides.

In June 1992, a stave church (medieval wooden church) was burned down in the Norwegian town of Fantoft. Several more churches were burned, and in January 1993, Grishnack was arrested for arson (Baddeley). Months later, on August 10, 1993, Euronymous died from 25 stab wounds to the face and chest. It wasn’t long before Grishnack was arrested for his murder. During the investigation, police found a notebook in Euronymous’ apartment detailing “a merit system whereby status [in the Black Metal Circle] was determined by the number of evil acts perpetrated [for Satan]” (Baddeley). Other members of the circle were arrested on charges of arson, rape, and other horrendous crimes (Baddeley).

Although these crimes brought negative publicity to the group, Mayhem still thrives “as the most unremittingly evil black metal band” (Baddeley), cashing in on the death of Euronymous.

In 2021, we can see the influence of death, darkness, and destruction on young people and their mentors in our schools and universities. While the social justice movement started out with good intentions, it has morphed into a negative force that destroys young people. They will never be able to survive in society except as hate-filled warriors. They will always be looking for trouble and getting themselves into trouble because their heads are filled with delusions of injustice wherever they go. They will never form healthy relationships with others because their hearts are filled with suspicion and hate.

By the same token, rock-and-roll started out as fun music that fostered dancing and socializing. Lyrics were simple and didn’t require too much thinking. Young people could interact without worrying about getting beat up, raped, or murdered. But rock also morphed into something negative and destructive. And our young people are the ones who suffer under its nihilistic influence.

Dawn Pisturino

September 28, 2021

Copyright 2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Works Cited

Baddeley, Gavin. Lucifer Rising. London: Plexus, 2006.

Grow, Kory. “Mayhem’s Long, Dark Road to Reviving a Black-Metal Classic.” Rolling Stone. 2017.

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-features/Mayhems-long-dark-road-to-reviving-a-black-

metal-classic-129097/

Pattison, Louis. “Mayhem: Meet the Band with the Wildest Story Ever Told.” NME. 2016.

Mayhem: Meet The Band With The Wildest Story Ever Told

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