Archive for July, 2011

Bake this for Amy Winehouse

If only I had baked my banana/apple/cranberry/nut bread yesterday. If only I woke up yesterday instead of today and thought, I really want to bake today. I want to bake something that will shake off my blues and share it with someone to make them happy, too.

If only it was yesterday, I would have gathered the flour, sugar, fruit, and all that stuff in little boxes and bottles that you need to bake, tossed it in a big bowl, mixed it by hand; ingredients spilling over the kitchen counter and creating a comfortable mess; then picked up the phone, cradled it between shoulder and ear while I scraped the batter into a loaf pan, and called Amy Winehouse.

Amaleh (1), I’d say, I want you to come over, I’m making that bread you like, the one that’s sort of like Jewish applecake. C’mon, I know you’re not feeling great, but trust me, one taste of this with a schmear of butter, you’ll be singing like a nightingale on an all-night bender again. Then Amy would come over, sullen and harsh- hadn’t slept and eaten in days. But by her second cup of coffee (decaf—her choice, not mine) and a few slices of bread, she’d loosened up—smiled even. Well sort of.

She’d open up to me about her poor choices in men, the aborted European tour, the pain of being booed on stage, the rehab attempts, her dad and mum, her manager, her excitement over her new album that’s almost finished, and her fear that she’ll never be able to replicate her success of a few years ago. Then she glanced up at me and just as quickly looked down into her cup.

I’m only gonna tell you this because I know you’ve been stalked by one before—I know you’ve kept yours at bay but I can’t,she sobbed.

She started slowly but quickly ramped up to speed freak velocity as she confessed it was inside her since she could remember— a formless, shapeless monster bigger than her body and soul—stalking her, keeping her up nights, writing and singing her songs, soaking up drugs, fucking the wrong men.

Mamaleh,(2) she said, it’s bashert.(3) I’ve got too much in me to live— too much stuff.

At this point, I would hug her and she’d cry in my arms then I’d take her to my therapist, who would put her in rehab once again. They’d put her on just the right mix of mood stabilizers and anti-depressants so she could she’d stay clean, marry a nice guy, put out a shitload more critically acclaimed albums, win a bunch more awards and die in Boca Raton at 94.

But yesterday I didn’t make my banana/apple/cranberry/nut bread, nor did I call Amy Winehouse. Instead, I alphabetized my old albums and finally threw away the moldy covers that were destroyed in a flood in the basement of a Baltimore rowhouse I bought in 1990 so an abusive boyfriend would stay with me.

Today, before I even had chance to think about mixing dough, I woke up to my husband shouting that Amy was dead.

Her parents will cry, fans will hold vigils, a critically acclaimed new album will be released, and she’ll be the newest member of the “Dead at 27” club, a prestigious group of musicians that includes Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Gram Parsons. A group that I suspect, all had that same “thing” inside of them, a thing was too much too concentrated, and leaked out much too quickly to be spread out over a normal lifespan.

So today, the day my Ameleh was released, pick your favorite Amy Winehouse song and go bake something, be it bread or life itself.

As for me, just because I think Amy would appreciate the metaphor, I’m goin’ to pick flowers up on Choctaw Ridge. And drop them into the muddy water off the Tallahatchie Bridge

Yiddish Dictionary for goys and those who don’t live on the east coast. As an Ashkenazi Jew, Amy would have known some Yiddish.

1.Ameleh: In Yiddish, leh is added to the end of a name as a term of endearment

2.Mamela:Yiddish for Mother, or a person who takes the place of a mother

3. Bashert:Predetermined, fate, meant to be

4. Goy: Non-Jew

5. Ashkenazi:Jew whose ancestors were from northern and central Europe

July 23, 2011 at 8:15 pm Leave a comment


Roberta Gale

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