24 February 2010

Thoughts from another Mariah Carey concert

Yes, I saw her again last night. Sixth time overall, and just five months after the previous time, but first time without having to leave Los Angeles. I was happy with the show.

While I will leave it up to other LGBT websites to opine about how Mariah Carey's push to increasingly assert her own voice in choosing what kinds of material to record (R&B, rather than power ballads demanded by the industry, for example) has won her many supporters among lesbians and gay men (and her mannerisms can equal that of any flamboyant drag queen), I want to think about how she weaves into my storytelling for Sarah and Kirsten.

Since my fourth time seeing Mariah Carey, I've always felt that Kirsten ought to be a mega-fan, a so-called "Lamb" (a nickname used by hardcore Mariah Carey fans to refer to themselves). This can draw from Kirsten's own biracial background as well as Kirsten's own struggle to assert herself and her sexuality/identity (pretty much what those LGBT commentators bring up on the topic of Mariah). There may be some specific events during Kirsten's teenage and early college years that may really add up to a more personal reason to be a Lamb, which I will need to seriously consider.

As for Sarah, well, Sarah is not supposed to be a fan at all, but listening to Mariah will always be a pleasant reminder of Kirsten. Sarah may, in fact, end up enjoying Mariah the very same way I often do - while traveling in a faraway destination. In fact, when Mariah was wrapping up with her encore number "Hero" last night, all the memories of traveling I have done over the past 16 years listening to that song started to rush through my head. One of the first images going through my head was from summer 1994, that of me flying into Seoul on a United Airlines plane, followed by a few other images from that trip, including coming across Mariah's music and fans at a number of key venues in Seoul, before flying back and on to NYC, and Mariah herself, again on a United plane. In fact, when I wrote that November 2008 "interview" with Sarah in Seoul, this was something I shared with Sarah herself - and I even named it as a key reason why I had to make Sarah work for United rather than some other airline. This "making connections between cultures" meme is extremely important to me, one reason why I hold the travel industry in high regard, expect the best from airline crews to fulfill that meme, and hope to portray Sarah as someone striving to meet that high expectation. In fact, another image that flashed through my thoughts during "Hero," indeed, was Sarah's face, something that hadn't happened before!

Other imagery that I had gone through to further this thought, during "Hero," were my other travel moments - strolling the streets of some of my other favorite cities like London, Paris, and Hong Kong, as well as flying to even more destinations on a number of other great airlines (and their crew). Even my 1994 Seoul memories were augmented by new ones from my 2008 residency there, from my returns to those very venues where I had come across Mariah Carey's music and fans, to a scenic drive on a riverside freeway that allowed me to really enjoy the cityscape. (And speaking of driving, another image coming up was me speeding away on a German Autobahn last year, and I also had flashbacks to train trips as well.)

In any case, I need to remember this "making connection" meme even more strongly. My own continued enjoyment of Mariah Carey's music, based on my past travel memories, is a way of reinforcing that, and I hope I can do my own part by telling Sarah's story to a wider audience. Time for me to continue my travels and make more connections. Hoping that I will have a confirmed New Orleans reservation for Memorial Day before too long, as another contribution to that meme. And back to Mariah Carey, she'll certainly have a role to play in the story - since Kirsten, again, will be one notorious Lamb, with a few personal stories to go along with that.

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