Molcajete & The Temptations

Here’s a story about a bowl.


I’ve got this mortar and pestle type thing.  The molcajete and tejolote.  Volcanic stone.  Tough as hell.  Heavy as hell.  It’s one of those things that feels substantial.  It feels indestructible.  Something you could pass from generation to generation and it would get better with age.  It’s the kind of thing that becomes indispensable.  Archetypal, even.  Stoneware.

So here it is.  All stoic, rugged, tactile stone.  And somehow — don’t ask me how — I managed to let it come to harm.  There’s a big crack in it.  A big, jagged crack.  Heartbreaking.  It’s still in one piece but you know it’s the kind of thing where it just won’t be the same.  It’s going to be a mess now.  No more guacamole for you!

What do you do?  I could throw it out but that seems like a waste.  I could just put it away somewhere but what’s the point of that.  So I figure that maybe I can re-purpose it.  Put another bowl or container inside it and use it as a plant pot maybe.

Take something broken and use it to grow something new.  Give it a new life.  That’s downright poetic.  I think I like it.

Super Hero Fetish

I had a friend who was sometimes frustrated with my being too much of a goody two shoes.  I guess.   We’d go to baseball games to see the A’s play and we’d be way up in the bleachers.  And then he always wanted to move down into closer seats.  I was reluctant.  And you know me.  I try to do the right thing.  I’d save people if I could.  From whatever.  I’ve tried.  And failed, of course.

One day I was telling him about how I used to collect comic books.   And I’d draw comic book characters and even made lame attempts at my own.  I did a few comic book superhero oil paintings at one time.   He said, “That explains it.”

My sense of ethics, he theorized, comes from my traditional upbringing and reading too many comic books.  Wanting to be a super hero.

The Temptations

I’ve been listening to The Temptations a lot over the past few days/weeks and it got me thinking.  Like, how we internalize things that we identify with.  At some point and at some level we decide that we want to be or reflect or exude some trait or facet.  Or we identify with something to the point of absorbing it.  Being open to it.  Osmosis of character and personality.

The Temptations are before my time, but we had some good vinyl in the house and when my mother married my stepfather he had a bunch of Motown records.   They were the soundtrack to my childhood.  For every crush I had in elementary and middle school there was a  Motown song for it.  I had a textbook covered with a brown paper bag and had the names of Motown artists and song titles written all over the cover.  Smokey Robinson and the Miracles(“Tracks of My Tears”, “Tears of a Clown”, “The Love I Saw in You Was Just a Mirage”, “Who’s Going to Take the Blame”), The Four Tops(“Bernadette”, “Reach Out I’ll Be There”, “It’s the Same Old Song”), The Jackson 5(“ABC”, “Stop the Love You Save”, “Maybe Tomorrow”, “One More Chance”), Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, Junior Walker and the All Stars and one of my favorites was Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell.

Here’s what I’m getting at.  My notions of romance and relationships seem to have been strongly influenced by the Motown sound, right.  So

I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day
When it’s cold outside
I’ve got the month of May

Well, I guess you say
What can make me feel this way?
My girl

It’s like the “My Girl” age as opposed to the, I dunno, “That girl is poison.  Never trust a big butt and a smile” age.  I’ve got a playlist of about forty six of my favorite Temptations songs and the stories of love, admiration, loss, betrayal, forgiveness, breaking up — it’s poetry.  Let’s take a break up.  Eric Benet’s “Loving Your Best Friend” popped on a shuffle the other day.   Or his “When You Think of Me”:

As you can see my life’s been good
I moved the family out the neighborhood
And all my dreams I’ve realized,
to think you said it was a waste of time
It’s never hard to make new friends,
when you’re making Benjamins
Now did I hear you say again. . .
You’re still thinking of me?

Do you feel like dying, do you break down crying
Do you fall down on your knees
Don’t want to go on living, does your world start spinning
When you think of me

Don’t get me wrong.  I like that song — great solo by Roy Ayers, btw — but it’s mean.  You know?  I know that’s the whole point — to be vindictive.  But it’s all ego.  And compare that to the gushing of The Temptations’ “One Last Look”:

Now being without you will be hard to do
But I want, I want what’s best for you
I’d rather see you happy with someone new, baby
Than to bring, bring sorrow to you
As you leave

If you see tears in my eyes, just keep on walking
Don’t you worry
Cause these tears you see, are tears of joy
The joy of loving you and knowing you loved me
It’s given me enough happiness, so true
To last my whole life through

Just one last look before we part
Just one last look to fill my heart

You see what I mean?  It’s kind of funny, though, that a lot of the love songs from back in the day sound kind of creepy by today’s standards.  In some ways it was definitely a simpler time.  One of my favorite Temptations songs is “I Truly, Truly Believe” because it’s the only one I know of that Melvin Franklin takes the lead on.  He was the basso profundo.  And check out that shuffle the drummer is laying down.

‘Cause I really love you
And I truly, truly believe, yes, I do
In spite of the way you’re acting
That you love me too
Come on and say you do
Say you do

You try to keep me away, girl
Just to prove you don’t really care
But I believe you feel
The same way I do
And this torture just ain’t fair
(No, this torture just ain’t fair)

A lot of old love songs are of the “I can’t let you go” and the “if I come at you hard enough you’ll see how much I love you” variety.  Simpler times, at least on the surface.  The general meme.  Romantic, thoughtful, soulful poetry.   Plus a certain humility.  So today we have “Wait ’til you see my d*ck”.  Compared to:

Can turn a gray sky blue
I can make it rain
Whenever I want it to
I can build a castle
From a single grain of sand
I can make a ship sail
On dry land

But my life is incomplete and I’m so blue
‘Cause girl
I can’t get next to you

So you can see my d*ck (in a box)?  No!  It’s such a different time.

I like having all of this beautiful, authentic music floating around in my head like an mp3 player visualizer.  What you ingest definitely colors, tints and flavors how you see the world.  And how you live.  For better and for worse.


I was on my way to work the other day.  I really like my job.  And I like having a job.  But still.  Needed air in my tires so I stopped at the too expensive gas station on 7100 near 95, tanked up, inflated the tires to the proper PSI.  And it hit me big time.  The urge.  Standing there on a clear, windy day.  Blue sky and clouds.  The jeep primed up like a fresh horse.  I wanted to get in the car and just drive.  And go.  And go.  And go.

Oooo look.  Atlantis in the Bahamas.  Hm.  I feel like I should know how to swim to go there, though.

I can make out with a dolphin?!   Now that’s a change of pace.


Add Yours
  1. bbebop

    Back in the mid ’80s I was at a corporate Christmas party at the Copacabana in NYC. I was talking with some folks I’d just met when one mentioned that this was a great party. I said it’s “going to be even greater: The Temptations are going to perform.” The woman didn’t believe me. Then I said, “Look, that’s Melvin right there!” He must have heard heard us because he turned toward us, gave me a wry smile, came over and shook her hand. I think she’s still in shock. Best. Party. Ever!

    • garyarthuryoung

      Ha, that’s great. Now that’s a party. Good grief.

      The first big concert I went to was the Temptations 25th Anniversary (1986?) concert with all of the surviving Temptations on stage. Amazing. Despite the medleys. I’m not a big fan of medleys.

    • garyarthuryoung

      I dig Sade … to an extent. Love her voice and she’s beautiful, of course. But the vibe of most of her music I’ve heard (the radio charts, really) are so dry. Like, I don’t think that those tune and musical production values do her justice.

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