Tuesday, September 12, 2017


In September of 2001, I was a month away from my sons birth, very pregnant, and it was that time of year where everywhere in Southern California becomes extraordinarily hot. Even here at the beach. Fires start. And people get testy. Id finished my year long work odyssey as girl-friday at Lookout Management, working for Elliot Roberts (Neil Youngs manager) and Bonnie Levetin. I said my goodbyes in early August and now I was in flight loop, waiting for my time to touch down on the tarmac of motherhood. 
It was a simple, fine time. My husband Paul and I were in a good place, happy and even thrilled at the prospects of our new life as parents. Paul had been in his early/mid twenties when he'd had his first kids and he admitted he could have been a better dad. So he was going to therapy and working out his various parenting issues. 
My songwriter-photographer friend Kim Fox came to visit from LA one day and despite me feeling uncomfortably pregnant, talked me into a photo session. This, rock and roll mama, is a photo of her photo, sorry Kim for the low-fi. It was fun hanging out with my LA pal and I kept trying to figure out how I would find my way back someday into writing music, touring and releasing albums. It was a time I'll call 'void of course'. And there was a certain amount of calm and non-goal seeking in those xanax-like days. Those natural pre-birth hormones were a good drug. 
A few days later I was awoken by Paul who said that his ex wife Donna had called and told him a plane had hit the World Trade Center. My first thought was 'this is it', as Id been in New York when the bomb had gone off in the WTC parking garage in 1993. I knew it was a target. We didn't have TV so I had the rattle in my head as I drove to a doctors appointment and listened in on the radio. 
The TV's were on full blast in several corners of the OB/GYN offices at Kaiser. I had an appointment for a "Stress Test" to check and see if the baby was faring well. You see Id been tagged as a late pregnancy Gestational Diabetic, which meant I checked my blood sugar 3x a day, with a poke of a needle, and I came in twice a week for these baby Stress Tests. Its essentially honking a big horn into your torso and see if the baby freaks out and moves around. If they move around they are alive and kicking and all is well. But after watching both towers fall I wondered outloud if we needed to freak the baby out too. 
I bought the Springsteen album a few weeks later. I didn't listen to it, but I put it by the Bose player with the intention of listening 'when Im ready'. I never became ready. Somewhere that album is around here, unopened. 
It was hard to not think about what had happened. I thought of all my friends living on the Lower East Side. I thought of the temp work Id done for a savings and loan on Wall Street some years earlier. The dust my friends were living in. But through all the thinking I had the 'good drugs' of pre birth swimming around in my system, and the Oxytocin was calming. So was the sound of the sea on my walk every morning. And there was this hope, a brand new life was coming into the world. Nothing would ever be the same.
Alexander was born October 16th 2001.

(Encinitas, Sept. 12, 2017)

Sunday, August 13, 2017

I Have This Thing About June Bugs

I have this thing about June Bugs. And there's one hanging around my screen door this morning. Buzzing back and forth, sometimes landing and looking in. My thing about June bugs is; I see my late husband Paul in them. I know it sounds strange. 

The day of the memorial for Paul, in 2013, I was loading up my trunk with his books, out front of our place, stuff to share with others that cared for and loved him. There was a June bug buzzing around my head, bothering me as I loaded the books, and then again later, after the memorial at the church a June bug again buzzing around my car trunk. I thought, 'huh, if Paul wanted to get my attention he would do it with sound'. Now Ive come to see it as Paul visiting from the Heavens. 

He's here now, sitting on my screen door resting and looking in at Alexander and I, living out our lives as humans. Still loving him and having our life adventures, and being okay. Somehow thinking about this takes a bit of the sting out of a frightening weekend for our country.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

CLB Yahoo! News Story

Yesterday I wrote an essay on how it feels having the ACA Health Care on the chopping block and how scary it is as a single mom. Yahoo News published it much to my surprise:


Last night my 15 year old son read the article and said "that's really a good article mom". Then an hour later he came back and said "I still think its a good article but its probably not going to change someone's mind on the other side of the argument. I don't want you to feel bad but they might say something like, "get a real job", but its still a good thing you wrote it."

Friday, May 19, 2017

Paul Williams On Starting Crawdaddy! The Magazine Of Rock In 1966

Sleeping in Van Cortland Park, running wild with wild newfound friends on the winter beach at night at Coney Island. New York people, the ones I met, were crazier and freer, because of the all-night subways, and whatever, so many young people in a world of their own, it was a place were you didn't have to go back to your dorm or your mother.
     And it was a place where you could do things. It was in New York that I started my magazine.
     I was bored y'know, like the man says, bored and restless and lonely, I couldn't do the schoolwork or get it on with the Swarthmore scene, and it made me feel very insecure, Id build myself up from terrible inversion with people in seventh grade to a certain self-confidence & reluctant fluidity based completely on my output, the high school extracurriculars and the science fiction magazine I published on the side and so forth, the stuff I was doing made me feel sure of myself which in turn made it possible for me to run with, have fun with, other people. Which reached a peak in the fall of my senior year, I was accomplishing things left and right, I had the respect of the young women I worked with in the dramatics club and then even the attention of a few of them, I was writing a lot and I even tried briefly to study guitar, a whirlwind of energy and though still shy inside I hardly had time to notice -- and then there I was in college, at Swarthmore, unable to open a book or even write a story for the newspaper, hanging out, doing nothing... Doing nothing! A total disaster for one whose ability to function in the world was based solely on his pride in the things he was doing, I needed desperately many things including that holding and being held but most of all I needed something to do, my inability to do anything at college was bringing me face to face with the most horrible self-doubt I have ever experienced.
     So finally when the idea came or came back to start a magazine about this rock music I was so in love with, arriving in my head complete with a plan as to just exactly how I could do it and what to do first and what would happen, it was a godsend -- a tremendous gift of energy -- my salvation.

And it married me to New York -- though I didn't consummate the marriage and move there till much later, eleven months later, December of 1966 -- because that was where the rock music business was on the East Coast, that was the place I needed to go simply to do the very first thing, which was obtain some new records so i could review them.
     I conceived of the magazine as a weekly, believe it or not, which would review new albums but especially singles, intelligently rather than with the usual hype, as a service both to music lovers and the music business. I knew about the trade magazines, had been into them since I started listening to rock a year earlier (and even in the sixth grade I'd been addicted to top-40 lists, actually bicycling into Belmont Center the hour that I knew the sheets would arrive in the local record store because I couldn't wait to see what the positions would be this week, I was a pest, a fanatic), but I felt the trade magazines were inadequate because -- just like the "fan" magazines from eh opposite side -- they didn't take the music seriously. I knew that the earnestness which my friends and I felt wasn't being expressed in print.
     And something else -- it wasn't just love for the music -- I wanted to start a magazine. And I'd read in a "fanzine", an amateur publication from the science fiction underworld, an article by James Warren, publisher of Famous Monsters of Filmland and Help! , in which he talked about how to start a magazine; he said that what you need most of all is a subject that a lot of people are into that nobody is doing a magazine about. I read that & I believed it & even mentioned to some people in Cambridge in the summer of 1965 before I went to Swarthmore, when a folk music paper called Broadside was the best-read publication in town, that somebody ought to start a magazine about rock n' roll. I couldn't do it 'cause I was about to go off to college and get involved in that, but whoever did pick up the idea would meet with certain success.
     And I forgot, and then got ever deeper into rock via the college radio station, and then was standing in the town of Swarthmore, a tiny commercial district beyond the great lawn of the college, standing in a drugstore reading a story about the Yardbirds in a fan magazine and when I read that both they and the Rolling Stones had got their start in a club in Richmond, England called the Crawdaddy Club it just hit me out of nowhere that that would be the name of the magazine and I could do the first issue in New York during the four-day intersession after exams and mimeo it at Ted's (Ted White a jazz music journalist and science fiction fan-clb) house and then.... I paid for the fan mag and walked back across the tracks to the campus very excited and completely lost in a truly enormous daydream.

Paul Williams, Heart of Gold, published 1991
page 58-62

Today, May 19th is writer Paul S Williams birthday.
He was born in 1948 and died in 2013.

Thursday, March 23, 2017


Four years ago this week Paul was in hospice. His hospice nurse didn't know how long he'd have but she said he could hang on perhaps for months or weeks. But we didn't think days. Our son Alexander, eleven years old at the time, and I were preparing to fly to New York to attend a gallery show of Paul's written work and a loving tribute to him at the Boo-Hooray Gallery in Soho. We left a few days after this post in late March 2013. We wouldn't make it back in time to say goodbye. 

Paul's oldest son, Kenta, was with his father when he passed away. Remarkably an hour before he was gone Kenta got us on FaceTime together and Alexander and I told Paul how much we loved him. I told him how beautiful his books and writings look at the gallery, with the admiring eyes reading his words. I also told him I would help his books and papers and writings find a home. That is a thing still on my heart and mind. 
*     *     *
March 20, 2013

Listening to Buffalo Springfield Boxset disc 1 

If Flying On The Ground Is Wrong

Alexander visiting his dad's room

On the wall: Philip K Dick, Christopher Dick, Paul Williams

On the TV table; with Paul's glasses

Losing weight. But still has some fire. When his music is interrupted by a conversation between me and his teenage-years friend Judith Bragar he shouts "shuddup"...
We smile knowing Paul is 'still in there, loving the music he always loved'


Is my world not falling down
I'm in pieces on the ground
And my eyes aren't open
And I'm standing on my knees
But if crying and holding on
And flying on the ground is wrong
Then I'm sorry to let you down,
But you're from my side of town
And I'll miss you.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

From the E-ternal Border Blaster station of rock

Yesterday walking through my neighborhood on the way to the beach I thought I saw my late husband, Paul Williams. He was walking with our very young son up fourth street, hands held, a father gently coaxing his very young walker up the steep sidewalk.

I had to look again. It was an optical illusion of course. As the figure got closer I could see it wasn't Paul and 20 month old Alexander, it was a rather bookish looking mother and her child. But for a moment..it was like the photo above.

It made me realize how long ago that time was. These photos were snapped in 2003 on our way through the Tehachapi Mountains, the Ridge Route, on our way to northern California.

Id forgotten about that warmth of feeling. A small family, Paul and I working together for the greater good of the unit. There's a kind of selflessness that brings out a feeling of safety, love and warmth.
I miss that.

In a little over a week it will be four years since Paul passed. But it was very long ago indeed, that he was this guy in the photos. He began to disappear about 2 years after these pictures were taken. I don't miss all the caregiving and worry and time spent on Paul's care. But I do miss Paul.

I don't want to give you friends the wrong idea here, I don't live in a state of grief. I have a very nice life now, one that Paul would be happy to see. Life isn't perfect but there is a lot of room for new adventures.

Last friday my new album The Adventurist landed in stores around the free world. What a joy that is. There are so many things to be thankful for. I can feel Paul's joy as he listens to my new music.. on Radio Heaven with DJ Wolfman Jack on the eternal Border Blaster station of rock, coming at you every hour with an infinite quantum connection of rock and roll power.

So in the infinite crazy of quantum physics, multi-universes and alternate realities, yeah, I saw Paul yesterday, for a minute. He looked happy.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Raising Money For Touring and Promotion of The Adventurist

 My new album The Adventurist comes out this week. Im excited about getting the word out about and doing some touring around the U.S. I could use your help making that possible. Since its been so long since I toured I will need a little help to kickstart the process. If you have the new CD, ahead of the release date, you know how effective a fundraiser can be. If you can help get the word out about the album I would be most grateful. clb


This is what the funds will be spent on:

1. touring the U.S. 
2. a sturdy flight case for my Gibson 330
3. a promotion person to get the word out to magazines, newspapers, social media and blogs that the new music exists!
4. fix and upgrade CLB website
5. Pay musicians on those special occasion gigs, where Im not playing solo

Friday, March 3, 2017

God Only Knows..

Written March 2013, I was coming to terms with Paul being admitted to hospice. All of life was in the present moment and we took it a day, and sometimes an hour, at a time.

Today I met with the hospice nurse, while she looked over Paul's charts, his stats and took in how he looked. Pulse, temp. all that stuff fine. "He could be like this for a little while", she said, "he's only lost one pound this week, now he's 110. So you don't want to stop your life, put it on hold."

"So",  I asked, "how do you know when someone is ready to die?" "You don't know", she said. "For him it could be tomorrow or a month from now. He could aspirate on some food and that could turn into pnemonia. If we see that things are very close we will call you. But don't think you have to be in here every day. Go have your life and be with your son."

I was just talking to a friend tonight, Chuck, who lost his mother a year ago. "I was at a Y Indian Guides meeting and I get the call from the nursing home; 'Your mothers dead'. And I had to tell the guys I gotta go my mother just died and they looked at me and said  'Your mother just died and you were here?'

There's this idea I have, maybe from the movies, maybe from reading obituaries of well known people, that they were constantly surrounded by their family and friends. 
Who has the time to do that?
Who has the free pay-check?

Here their are elderly spouses that come and see their partners on a daily basis and they are the ones that do that. Otherwise the families are working and come on weekends. 

Their was an older man in the nursing home, he'd had a stroke and his family would show up once a week and pull him into the tv room and they'd play music; guitar's, horns.... I sat in with them a few times and the dad played the bongos a bit, and I sang. That was the Sprague family and they are exceptionally gifted musically and quite beloved in the county. Quite a family and they really fit that ideal I had of going out with the family all around. 

But a lot of families live far from one another. Paul's family lives in the Bay Area or on the east coast. So when they visit it's a real commitment. This weekend Paul's first wife, Sachiko Kanenobu Williams is coming to visit with her partner and I really look forward to seeing her. She's a singer-songwriter and she and Paul met in Japan right before the release of her debut album in 1969.

Mostly what I see here at the nursing home is aging lonely people with no one visiting them. And that is a fact, though a sad one. 

Death is like a birth, in that it seems like you'd want someone to be there to witness the experience. But maybe the witnessing is happening on the other side, (as one is escorted into the new experience ones energy will take). 

Paul and I saw many a talk with Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hahn in which he talked about death. He said the wave is afraid of not being a wave anymore, and doesn't realize that it is part of the water, a part of the whole sea..and that is us. 

One of the deathbed stories that has stuck with me over the years is from a book called Paradise Outlaws: Remembering the Beats by John Tytell with photographs by Mellon. 

On February 26m 1994, the day of the World Trade Center bombing, Mellon accompanied Allen Ginsberg on the D train to the Bronx Veterans Hospital to visit Carl (Solomon) on his deathbed. Carl was getting oxygen, Allen took copious notes and some photographs, and encouraged Mellon to use her camera as well. At one point he cleaned Carl's glasses with affectionate warmth. 

Then, bending over him, Allen asked Carl's forgiveness for having put him in the spotlight and making him a sensational cipher for universal suffering in "Howl."

Mellon reported that Carl was calmly surrealistic in his last hours, claiming that he was still thinking about sex though he was fading. 

I don't know how much time Paul has left in him or what he'll be thinking about on his way out, but he has been enjoying some little things this week: the smell of essential oils like lavender, the familiar chords and chorus' of the Beach Boy's Pet Sounds, and a few times being sat up, propped up, so he can look out the window. 

He grows increasingly difficult to communicate with, he's moving further away, but these few lovely things are the last tethers to this world we have all agreed to be in together.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017


Could brain injury have sparked soldier's rampage in Afghanistan?

"The U.S. Army staff sergeant who allegedly murdered 16 Afghan civilians in a dead-of-night spasm of shooting, ....is reported to have suffered a traumatic brain injury during a deployment to Iraq in 2010.

Research on traumatic brain injury has established a clear link between brain trauma and irritable, aggressive behavior that can be explosive, often without apparent warning or provocation. Sometimes, brain injury magnifies a victim's longstanding tendency toward irritability, depression or hostility. Some brain traumas bring personality changes in their wake, causing even laid-back types to become irascible and impatient." (LA Times 3/13/12)

It is worth noting that brain injury, especially in the front of the head/prefrontal cortex does cause a person to lose their sense of inhibition. Modern medicine now has the ability to save lives when people sustain a traumatic brain injury, but we need to put as much time and money and assistance into the other side of the recovery, and not expect TBI folks to go about their lives like they did before. 

Paul Williams, in his office in Encinitas. Two months after his brain injury and still in outpatient rehab

My experience with my husbands injury was such that they sent him home after two months of care, one month of ICU, then another month of In-Hospital-Rehab. Then one day the doctor announced to me, "good news, we will be sending your husband home with you tomorrow". 

I didn't know what to say. I was stunned.  Just the day before, Paul had screamed at a nurse and stayed up all night wandering the halls and then he failed his "making brownies and cooking strategies" test. A week before he had jumped out of bed, had a blood pressure drop, keeled over backwards and was wheeled out to the emergency room again. His face was still black and blue from his head slamming on the linoleum floor.

I didn't know the first thing about taking care of a person recovering from a brain injury. The thought of the responsiblity was too much. Looking at the doctor my turned pale. I could barely take care of myself, what were the doctors thinking...no I knew what they were thinking "we can't justify to his health insurance company why he has to be here longer".  

I asked the doctor for more time. He gave me 2 days and then we brought him home. I'd also asked for Paul to see a neurologist to see what he was capable of on his own,... at this time no one had asked to take his drivers liscense away or even suspend it. And Paul thought he was ready to get right back into his routine. For a while, I had to be clever about hiding car keys. 

The car thing stunned me. How could the government not require a driving test from someone who'd had 5 centimeters of their brain removed. Everyone assumed he was good to go

A friend of a friend was an eye doctor for our health provider. At a party I shared with him I was really concerned about what kind of blind spots Paul might have and whether we could find a way to suspend his liscense at least until we knew if he was a cogent thinker again. This doctor friend checked Paul's eyes and said, "he's got a big blind spot on his right side but that just means he'll have to turn his head around to see what's over there. Otherwise, he's good to go!" 

That was it. Everyone agreed, he was good to go. Other than a brain surgery buzz cut hair-do he looked like himself. He looked okay. Except, I could see the difference. Like: he wouldn't quite look you in the eye when he talked to you/he was sort of in another hazy-world. After the sun went down he would talk incoherently-this is called sundowning. And, he was a terrible driver-sometimes thinking an off ramp was just an extension of the right lane.

Some of these symptoms changed or went away in the six months post injury. I was told the first six months was when most of the recovery would occur, and that was mostly true. Because Paul had such a high IQ before the injury he faired better than most. His brain surgeon had even joked that with luck and with Paul's 180 IQ he could 'afford to lose a few brain cells and still be a genius'. And that 'folks with high IQ's often fair better after a brain injury'.

The nurses told me "whatever personality traits he had before, he will still have, but they may be played out more dramatically, more emphasized". This advice turned out to be mostly true. 

So in Paul's case he was quick to anger, was very impatient and liked to lecture. That looked like this: yelling at the security check person at the airport (pre 911) and getting his luggage examined, pushing a hefty security guard at a Los Lobos concert and getting collared and thrown out, talking non-stop with breathless run-on sentences during sharing time at a Buddhist meditation retreat, yelling at a meditation "expert" and calling the guy an asshole (the guy was full of himself and i rather liked this one), or wearing his bicycle helmet to the national booksellers convention with the words Ask Me About My B.I. written on it (this was a good one, B.I. meaning Brain Injury), yelling at the top of his lungs at a Belgian train station "I hate fucking Belgian Trains!" because it didn't follow the schedule precisely. 

On the note of the Belgian train...we sat near an Austrian couple who noticed Paul was snappy and impatient with the conductor. I noticed their discomfort. Embarrassed and thinking we'd just entered Ugly American territory, I explained to them he'd recently had a major brain injury and this is what a miracle-recovery case looked like. The man's reply was, "he should still behave himself." 

I had no idea how to handle Paul in these situations. (I wasn't from a family with rage issues). And I wasn't an occupational therapist, but I was thrown into the role of being just that. Where was the book, How To Handle Your Brain Injured Beloved Spouse in 5 Easy Steps.

I think of all the advancements made in battle-zone medicine. It's a heart breaking job for families with brain injured soldiers (and it's all gonna fall on the families) coming home from war zones. Spouses and sons and daughters rejoining families and then hospitals and then rehab and then looking normal but really, not being the same. Not being the same at all.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Just Like Starting Over

This was my goodbye letter to 2009, one of my life's toughest years. This year now, 2016 has been a collective tough one, having lost so many cultural heroes and icons (for me the loss of Prince, Carrie Fisher, Leonard Cohen and Gene Wilder were particularly sad). But no amount of loss will take the place of the awfulness of finally coming to terms with the fact that my wonderful brilliant husband and companion, Paul Williams was never going to get better. No amount of my wishing and fixing would bring back the broken neuro-highways of his brain. This post in 2010 was the beginnings of acceptance that my life, our families life was forever changed. And there is some degree of relief and peace in that acceptance. 

January 2010:
I'm happy. Really, I can't remember the last time a change of decade made me so happy. It's like looking at the house you've been living in for the last 10 years-- on the outside-- for the first time, noticing its windows and doors have fallen off and it's on a cracked slab-- and wondering how you did it.

I really feel like I'm starting over, all over again. I've noticed, I do seem to run my life in 10 year cycles, though involuntarily, with the end of times happening on the nine year and
starting anew on the one.

For example, a New York boyfriend and I broke up at the end of 1989 and I started my new life in 1990 moving back out west. Or.... Paul and I broke up in 1999, lived apart for a year, I found a new life for awhile in Los Angeles, dated some interesting guys had some fun times, wrote songs and then a year later Paul and I found out we still wanted to be together. 

The first time I crashed on a nine year was in 1979. I was in an unknown garage punk band and living in Hollywood (aka Hollow ood), we called ourselves The Stoopuds. I lived with the guitar player who was 23 and his girlfriend Jane, who was 45 in a studio apartment on Hollywood Blvd. Life sucked, but so what. I thought that was the "dues you must pay" to make it, or at least to be a real punk like our neighbor Darby Crash. The dues I paid actually turned out to be a severe depression I fell into after the bass player tried to kill himself with a safety blade razor and got into a car wreck because I wouldn't be his girlfriend. So much for making it at 20. I moved back home to little Ramona and tried to pull myself out of my first depression without medication. I did do it, but it took about 5 years. Antidepressants work so much better and you don't have to lose all those precious years. But I didn't know that back then. 

At any rate, I'm at the start of a new cycle. I'm feeling excited and hopeful, things are looking up. In September I'll be touring Italy and in June Alexander and I are going to the east coast for a family and friend vacation (and probably a few shows). I've got the start of a new album brewing, having written about six new songs in the past six months. It's finally getting easier to do things for myself, having spent so many years care giving. 

Some of my friends expected me to cut loose and start partying and dating once Paul got placed in a nursing home but it didn't work that way for me. The past six months has been a kind of inward journey which has been good for my writing. I think I felt bad, even guilty, living an independent life while my partner was losing it to dementia in a stinking nursing home. I suppose it's the survivors guilt syndrome. Just give me a year and maybe I'll become a celebrity party queen like Tiger Woods adulteress, Rachel Uchitel, who lost her first husband in the World Trade Center attack on 9/11.....or not. At any rate, life starts anew.

Happy New Year 2010. 
hugs and kisses, cindy lee b