Friday, January 30, 2015


In 1998-'99, I began to feel someone was living in our backyard. It may have even been 1997, not sure. It was definitely after Dana's untimely death. I would find men's underwear near our jacuzzi and joke about a bum bathing as we slept. Little did I know, it was true...

I began receiving messages on my office phone from a strange man; I will call him Leo, to avoid telling his actual name. Leo began with simple questions like "Does Max live here?' "Are you the manager of Max?" "Did Dana live here?" After a few calls, I began to feel a bit unnerved and very suspicious. Next came letters, first to Max, then to me and after a couple years, to Kristen, my friend and Dana's girlfriend.

One day, Leo caught me on the phone and filled me in on his 'quest.' He had taken a Greyhound Bus from Florida to Phoenix, to search for Max. He was an overly obsessed fan and wanted to meet him badly. Leo was also unemployed and homeless. As luck would have it, when he arrived at the bus station, he met someone who was also a fan. The young man told Leo he knew a girl who had gone to high school with Dana; maybe they could find her. Leo said it took some months, but she was eventually located.

The young girl had actually been to our home once and gave Leo vague descriptions of our house and how to find it. "Just go to Shea Road and walk block after block and look in all the living room windows," she said. "Eventually, you will see a wall of masks and a blue light from a big screen TV." "That's the house."

It took Leo over 3 months of strolling and peaking in windows, but he eventually found our house. Not having anywhere to live at the time, he decided our yard would be his lodging, our jacuzzi his bath tub and the fruit from our many fruit trees would be his meals. He lived for one full year in our backyard before his phone calls began! He would peak in all our windows and watch our family. He learned our routines and knew I would get up early. Every day, he made certain to be gone before I woke up.

One day, while working in the office, I received a call from a homeless shelter. It was one of the women counselors. She confirmed my identity and shared hers with me. Then she said "I don't want to sound crazy, but have you ever seen the movie, THE FAN?" I said I had. She went on to describe one of the drifters there as being obsessed with our family and said she felt he could be a danger. I asked if it was Leo and she said it was. I thanked her and hung up. Things had just stepped up a notch!

Leo began to be more assertive. He began calling more and more and leaving drawings and more letters at our front door. He switched his obsession from Max to me. I began to catch him outside our home, in the front yard. Max even did an instore autograph signing, and in the daily newspaper story about the meet and greet, there was Leo, in the photo, right behind Max.

Mom and Me
One night, very late, the doorbell rang and rang. I looked in the security cameras and there he was. It was Leo! I called a friend to come over and he called the police. By the time they arrived, Leo was in our back yard at Max's statue of Jesus. Leo had lit many candles and was rubbing 2 coins together. He was doing brujeria!

Igor and Max
He told the police Dana had sent him to protect me and he seemed mad at Max for something. He said the coins had scorpions on them and foretold a bad omen. He wanted to speak with me, but I refused. The police took him to jail. On the day he was released, I caught him hiding in our front yard! We could never have him arrested again or served because he was homeless and sleeping in parks, since our yard was no longer safe for him. There was no address.

One day, some friends of our children told us that he was also following them home on the city bus! This was getting out of control!! All the while, he continued to call me and write letters. He switched his obsession from me to Kristen, and then her letters began. They were especially frightening since he wrote things like, "Dana wants us all in the same room."

After 4 years of this constant fear, as I was walking on stage left at a Soulfly concert, an arm came around my throat from the back. I knew it was him immediately, from the smell of homelessness. He whispered in my ear that I would hear from him by phone, and then he slipped away. This happened in a packed venue, near the stage while the band was playing!! He was smooth and slippery. I felt lost!

Then calls, no letters. I answered the phone one day and it was Leo. He said he was calling to ask forgiveness from me. He said he had been meeting with a priest and had realized it was wrong to stalk us and peak in our bedroom windows (!) and frighten us. I said "That's it?" And he said "Yes, that's it." He disappeared as fast as he had once appeared.

We never heard from Leo again, but often times I felt as if his eyes were behind me, watching every move. Like a dark shadow, attached but silent, stalkers suck!! Always watch your back, Students!!

Class dismissed.....

Friday, January 23, 2015


Of the Sepultura recordings I witnessed, Chaos AD had to be the most magical, but let's not forget Roots! Recording in Malibu and staying at the Malibu Beach Inn for 6 weeks was a treat!! Waking up to the Pacific Ocean and seeing dolphins jumping was the way to start a day.

Max and Zyon


little Igor

Me and Sepultura
On the way to the studio, on the first day, Max stopped on the side of the road and said he had to make a prayer. He went off and when he returned to the car, he said "wait there will be an animal." Of courseI didn't know what he was talking about but with my own eyes I saw a big black crow appear in front of us. I did not take it as a good omen, but said nothing. To me, it was dark and foreboding, not a good sign. The band's coming breakdown was evident to both of us, but it was something we spoke of in private, in hushed tones so even we did not have to admit it to ourselves.

Max, Zyon, and Carlinos Brown

uncle Iggor, Zyon, and Paulo

And then it was over
Since it is Zyon's birthday week, I wanted to just post some pics from the studio, rare photos...the calm before the storm. Zyon was 3 years old and Igor a young baby at the time. Our little mascots could make anyone smile and they were my sunshine as the darkness loomed on the horizon.

The many special guests, the birth of classic songs, the cactus on the hill with the musician's names carved in it....Chi, Chino, KORN, and was all part of the vibe of Indigo Ranch, now long gone, but captured in the essence of the records that were spawned there. They are all classics till the end of eternity. The magic lives on forever....

Class dismissed......

Friday, January 16, 2015


By now you all know my Russian roots and also, that I am Russian Orthodox religion. When you get married in our church, you are not allowed to get a divorce unless you apply to the higher-ups for permission. The Church is steeped in tradition and traces directly to the Apostles.

We have many friends in the church, and many are priests. One of our dearest friends is Father Anthony Nelson in Oklahoma City. He and the choir director, Anna Voellmecke and friends have attended every Soulfly concert that has ever been in Oklahoma City. They even know the songs!!

Max and me at our first wedding

In January of 2004, Max and I were in Oklahoma on family business and decided to have our marriage blessed. When we married in 1993, we had a civil ceremony in our backyard. It was a blast, I admit, with loads of friends and a huge party. This time, it would strictly be to join us in the church. We took our wedding rings off our left hand and the ceremony began after the church completed the Sunday service.

Max wore a suit and I wore a dark green velvet "castle dress." We didn't really fuss much, no witnesses or formalities. We just got to the point. The service is beautiful with many hymns, prayers, candles and the sweet scent of frankincense. Towards the end, the traditional Russian golden crowns were swayed above our heads. We placed our wedding rings on the right hand as in the tradition of the church and presto! Our vows were renewed. It made us stronger as a couple and felt right to do so! I was very thankful for the people from the church who aided in singing and chanting. Sometimes you just have to go outside the norm to seek strength. And you know what? It worked!

Class dismissed.....

Friday, January 9, 2015


My Students all know by now that I am deeply interested in family history and especially my Russian roots. For 20 years I have searched the country and many minds for information about my family. Usually, Russia is spectacular and majestic, with its fantastic fans....but one time, it turned dark....and scary...

Soulfly, our crew and Russian crew, myself and daughter Roxanne, were in Moscow at the Domodedova Airport, passing through the X-ray and security. We were all headed to Vladivostock and Khabarousk, on the far eastern slopes of Russia. Roxanne and I were in the lead, followed by Jim Chinni and the band a bit farther back.


As Roxanne collected her bags, a Korean looking man in a heck of a nice suit approached her. "You are going to Vladivostock? Come with me," and pulled her by the arm. She wiggled loose and walked to me and Jim and said "Mom, this dude just tried to get me to go with him!" We were waiting for our things to come out when the man approached Roxanne again. This time he was much more aggressive and pulling on her arm. I told him to buzz off and he shoved me, calling me an assortment of choice words. I know Roxanne looked cute in her pink rabbit coat, but this guy was taking things a bit overboard.

Russian traveling party

Chinni to the rescue!! He came up and an altercation began between him and the Korean/Russian man. Suddenly, a man that looks like he jumped out of a James Bond movie appeared and grabbed the lovesick attacker. This dude seriously was wearing all black...even a turtleneck...with a shaved head and a mouthful of gold teeth! I did not like the pistol under his arm either. He was laughing and I was pretty sure it was all some dream. Standing watching was an older man, also Korean looking.

Thinking the ruckus was completed, the 3 of us were not sure to laugh or cry. Out of the blue, the elderly Korean man walked up to Roxanne and gave her the once over. A second later, he began pulling her by the arm. She wiggled away and he took off down the airport walkway. What the heck was going on?

The rest of our party came through security. Funny thing, as this was going on, not one 'security' person helped us! In fact, they turned their backs! We told Max and the rest of the guys what had happened. Noticing it was getting late, I whooshed everyone to the gate.

Waiting in the boarding line, the same fellow came out of the plane and went up to Chinni, who was next to me and Roxanne, and pointed his finger in Jim's face and spouted off in Russian. Our translator was like "Wow! He just said you are dead when you get off the plane!" This was enough for me and I enlisted the help of a nearby policeman.

I explained our trouble and the officer took the Korean/Russian man towards a wall in the airport that magically opened to a hidden room. And what happened next??? They frikken high fived!!! That was the edge of the cliff for me. I whipped out my passport and called the State Department number listed inside! You know what? It worked! Someone answered and said "You are in a dangerous situation. Get your people together and get out of there and go to the Embassy!!"

I didn't need to be told twice! I stopped the plane from leaving, demanded our luggage and equipment back and shot like a rocket to our favorite hotel...The Ukraine!

Me and Max at St Basil's Cathedral in the Red Square

We all walked to the Embassy, which was near the hotel and made a report. It was frightening hearing the man who took our report, talk. He said we would have never seen Roxanne again and explained some of the things that most likely would have happened to her. It was not pretty!!

Oh yeah, the entire 5 days we stayed at the hotel, waiting for the rest of the dates, this one man followed us. Older man wearing a blazer, smoking and drinking a lot of coffee. I don't know if he was there to watch over us, or watch us....

Class dismissed.....

Friday, January 2, 2015


Some years ago, Max, me and the kids decided to rip it up on Catalina Island with the kids. We had a rare break and had never been to the island paradise off the coast of California. We flew into Long Beach and hopped on the ferry....
The ferry was fun and not so long of a ride. The kids performed their usual excited antics and Max joined in! We were all thrilled to be together, after many months of touring. To spend time relaxing together was so rare (and still is!); we savored the flavor of each second!

Max me and fam on the ferry

We arrived on the island at the ferry launch and found out we had to walk to our hotel with our pile of too-much-luggage. It wasn't far, just unexpected, but we trudged on, overloaded like camels! We checked in and decided to get something to eat. As we got out of the elevator, it took off with little Zyon in it! We had to split up and search the floors, but luckily he didn't get out and we eventually found him. To this day he is still sketchy about elevators!

Igor playing in the hotel with shirt on his head
After eating, we found out no cars were allowed on the island and there were very few roads anyway. We rented a golf cart and blended in with everyone else! Deciding to get some much needed sleep, we planned our adventure for the next day. We would travel up the one road to the top of a small hill that overlooked the island. It was a famous tourist attraction, I believe owned by the famous Wrigley family.
Bright and early, we piled on the cart and took a leisurely drive up to the overlook. There was a mausoleum at the top with an above-ground sepulcher that one of the Wrigley's was buried in. It was in a building with big window like opening with a beautiful view of the lush foliage and the harbor. All of a sudden, we heard the tap tap of shoes behind us. As Max and I turned around, we were shocked to see our comedian of the family, Jason, dancing on top of the sepulcher! He was in rare form, singing "I am dancing on his grave!!!" We scooted him off and made our getaway on our golf cart, much to the horror of the many tourists also enjoying the tranquil view.

I had to work a bit and in those days of no cell phones or wifi, I found a row of pay phones outside one of the restaurants. I plunked my quarters in and the kids got busy on the other phones, pretending they were calling their friends. All of a sudden, the Sheriff pulls up next to me and gets out of his squad car, quickly approaching us, much to my horror!
"Who dialed 9-11?" Mr. Sheriff give us all the squinty-eye-look and surveys the row of potential criminals lined up at the pay phones. Roxanne and Richie immediately point at Jason, who was much younger than them. Mr. Sheriff bends down, eye level to Jason, and gives him the lowdown...."what if there was a real emergency and I couldn't be there because you just made a prank call to the police?" Jason sunk in his little sneakers and tried to vanish. I get the next squinty-eye-look and finally, he leaves us alone. Geez...what a vacation!

Me and Igor on the beach

Family picnic

We explore what's left to explore and then go to our rooms, feeling lucky not to have ended up in a jail cell, made for silly people! The next day, we were homeward bound with a suitcase full of laughter and hilarious memories!! We decided we had seen it all at Catalina Island and would not return until our faces were forgotten by the tourists, the Sheriff and the locals!
Remember to love life, with its ups and downs, its surprises and its conquests. Make humor out of stress and go with the flow.....and....HAVE A HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!

On the ferry home! 

Max me and Igor

Class dismissed.....