I searched for myself on I-tunes yesterday. I wanted to see what would happen. (Yes, I was checking up on the new single...)
I did find myself, nonetheless I-Tunes, ever helpful asked me: "Did you mean Jonathan Brake?"
This used to make me crazy. When I was a kid I always got the puzzled look when I would show up. People were pretty sure I was a girl, but there was the hair, and my name, corrected to Jonathan on the list... and so - (thinking they were sooooo clever) - they would ask: "So, were your parents expecting a boy?"
For the record. Once and for all. NO. My parents were not expecting a boy. I have two older brothers and I have to imagine (although I am an orphan now, and can no longer ask) that, YES, by all credible sources, my parents were thrilled I was a girl.
No one in my family ever called me Jonatha though. Early on, I was Miss Peach, Lady Bubblegum, strangers called me "Ginger," and "Red."
In highschool, I thought it would be easier just to go by "Jo." Perhaps it didn't make gender any more obvious for strangers, but once you were in the know it made sense. I liked the tomboyishness and ease. Two letters.
I'm not as devastated now when I get the question or the funny look. In fact it's funny. My husband's name is Pat Rains. Gender neutral as it gets. Just the other day on the plane back from LA, the poor flight attendant could not get it straight. "Mr. Brooke, can I get you the Chardonnay or the Pinot Grigio?" ... and for you Mrs. Rains? We happily play along. I become Patricia, and he is Jonathan.
Jonathan and Patricia
Johanna, Jo-NAYtha, JohnaTHANa!!! You can call me Jo if it's easier, but I'll answer to anything that starts with a J.
It's a short story. A little bit ago, I got a call from my friend Brendan at ASCAP. The tv types were looking for a new theme song for "The Biggest Loser."
"I can write that song," I said.
I've never seen "The Biggest Loser," but the word was they wanted somethinganthemic and triumphant.
Well! If I can do 12-year-old angst ("I'll Try") adult sadness ("Inconsolable") wacky romance ("How Deep is Your Love") - even folkish sexiness ("All you Gotta do is Touch Me") -
I can do a triumphant anthem. Who did I call for inspiration? ERIC BAZILIAN!! ("What if god was one of us".... "all you zombies"...etc)
We rocked up that track. Eric and I were over the moon.... We never heard back from the biggest losers.
So when Maya Stein and I created "Champion of Normal" - wait a hot minute! - We already had the perfect theme song. I present to you: (with Soggy the Dog as our mascot.)
"WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?" written, produced and performed by Jonatha Brooke and Eric Bazilian. Available NOW on I-tunes!
Please BUY it. GIFT it. Help us keep up the good work at BAD DOG RECORDS. And as always, thank you for your support.
from the files of Bella Miller-Morton.
I caught up with Tamara Miller-Jones - (Becky Miller-Smith's main competition in the "Champion of Normal" Olympics) in Provincetown, MA last weekend. It's always a hoot in P-town. You can get pride at the local five and dime with your lottery ticket.
I thought this was weird.... but maybe that's just me.
Tamara showed us around a bit. Secret beach, her "champion" techniques.
Soggy the dog was relentless with the frisbee...good training partner...
The weather started getting rough, but we overcame. if not for the courage of the fearless crew... Soggy the dog, the minnow, and Tamara's hopes and dreams might have been lost.
Later that evening, it got really fun. XXX origami.
Ralph gave me some hot tips.
Tamara's cousins? Priceless. They got the gold in "champion of baby Jane."
For those of you who thought the Olympics were over? Becky and Tamara are still slugging it out for the gold in "HOVER."
I'm working on a writing project. Songs and writing writing, images. I am mining journals, albums, photos, film. It will be the fleshed out version of "my mother has four noses".... but across many platforms....and there is a disturbing thru-line: BAD HAIR.
I came across this photo yesterday. The year-end panorama of my school in London. I'm in the middle with the bad hair. Even on "photo day" - I'm a mess. Alice Nunnelly's bangs are perfect, (BFF on my right) her pig tails thick and even. Harriet Hordern has pretty yellow bows in her braids, Joanna Impey's hair is pulled back and smoothed.
When I was six, my family moved to Cottesmore Court Road in Kensington. Dad was a journalist for the Christian Science Monitor, and the choice had been London or Moscow. Mom made the decision easy. NO WAY were we going to Moscow...
The first few months were a horrible sequence of school visits. I was bullied about my goofy red har, or left out completely. I was mocked for my American accent, and so quickly became fluent in "British." We finally settled on the only place I thought I could survive: the Francis Holland School for Girls, right outside of Sloane Square.
There's Miss Tornrose, the headmistress in the middle, seated.
There's Miss Pod. EVery morning we were to curtsy and say "Good Morning Miss Pod."
The first year we were offered the choice of gym or ballet at the official "Royal Academy." That was it. Love at first plie. I received primary "Honours." I was given a tiny ballerina printed hankie and a postcard of Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev.
In the improvisational part at the end of the exam, all my friends were flowers, butterflies, sprouting/springing gracefully from small crouching tucks on the floor. I was wack-haired Donald Duck, and waddled around the floor in a squat, quacking.
The stuffy Royal Academy examiner's comment? "Very charming personality indeed."
I don't mean to seem ungrateful, but in every other photo I came across yesterday, it got worse. I never seem to have gotten a proper haircut. EVER.
In almost every picture of me growing up, my hair is tattered - almost as if I've been chopping it myself, or there was a gum incident that left it botched and uneven.
fifth grade. What the hell?
I know I've complained before but really. They called me "Mason" for god's sake, after Mason Reese, the kid with hair like mine and the lateral lisp, who did the smorgasbord commercials.
Builds character, right? I certainly never took anything for granted. In fact, I don't think my hair has ever been exactly what I hope for in my mind.
In reality, it's always a mess, it's always been a mess, and as I get older, even the color, which was the one thing I could count on, just isn't all that. Hats don't help either. I've got a tiny head, so hats just throw my proportions off and postpone the reckoning with the real problem. Bad Hair.
I wonder what Alice Nunnelly is doing now?
The other night, my friend Maya Stein and I were watching the Olympics. Little by little we both realized there was a whole community, a whole world really, of contenders that weren't being talked about. I mean the earnest, honest to goodness normal people. Hey, it's hard being normal.
Don't get me wrong, I don't mean to take anything away from Misty, Missy, Kerry, Michael, or Gabby, but Maya and I decided to seek out another kind of achiever. We found the "Champion of Normal."
Her name is Becky Miller Smith
Some of her best events are drip coffee making, street crossing, package opening, and the little known skill called "HOVER."
She let us in on us a few of her secrets.... for instance, her buddhist, kabbalah, rosary beads....
Her killer stare....
She even let me borrow her "lighten the mood" hamburger hat....
I may start training now for Rio, 2016. It's hard to really describe it all here.....ya gotta see the movie....Here: