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Archive for April, 2022

We’re home – after a quick trip to NYC to visit my sister Kay and see a couple of Broadway shows.

The Grands had never been to the Great White Way, and this trip was the Bride’s idea. As soon as Broadway reopened, she booked our tickets, not knowing if the Bug and Pumpkin would be vaccinated yet. We were still moving in, opening boxes, some labeled “Beach House” which obviously never happened. Still trying to organize our Crystal Cottage – we put everything on hold to take a bite of the Big Apple!

And it was delicious!

I remembered the Rocker as a toddler, standing in the first row of “Into the Woods.” Felicia Rashad played the bad witch, but he only had eyes for the orchestra. He stayed still, transfixed by the musicians. I thought about the time we sat in box seats for “Chicago” with one of his friends. And of course, we will always have our “Grease” dance moment.

I tried out for every play in high school. I met Angela Lansbury at the Stage Door of “Auntie Mame.” Watching Barbara Streisand play “Funny Girl” left me breathless. I could see the sweat on Zero Mostel’s face in “Fiddler.” I didn’t know it then, but Broadway musicals would become a family tradition.

I was lucky really. Growing up in New Jersey, with my fabulous, big sister across the river on the Upper East Side. When we weren’t listening to Frank Sinatra, the Flapper played LPs of “Flower Drum Song,” “Gypsy” and “South Pacific” non-stop. I’m glad the extravagant love I feel for this unique American art form, the Broadway musical, has rubbed off on my children. And I see the Bride is determined to pass the torch on to the next generation..

We had the most perfect weather last weekend. Tulips of every color were blooming down Park Avenue. We strolled over the Highline, over the hustle and bustle on the streets listening to the birds and an assortment of languages. We visited Kay’s vintage jewel of an apartment and talked about art and medical school. We feasted at Serendipity 3, just as I had when I was a girl. The Love Bug said, “This is like a girl’s dream.”

And topping it all was “Hamilton.” The songs, the dancers, the story conspired to create a most perfect union/play. I could feel the longing for freedom, the envy of power and influence, the self-sacrifice of a sister. I discovered that my skin can still produce goosebumps. Alexander Hamilton’s story tapped into our collective desire for love and camaraderie. Especially now. I haven’t cried in a theatre in a very long time.

Today I will open more boxes and continue my endless search for some glass shelves. I will try to clean up the back patio, despite the carpenter bees. I’ll re-write my To Do list and research the Forest Pansy Redbud tree. Maybe I’ll polish some silver and plant some grasses! Most likely I’ll be humming Eliza Hamilton’s song, “That would be enough.”

“LOOK AROUND, look around, at how lucky we are to be alive right now

Look around Look around”

…and if this child shares a fraction of your smile

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The Bride didn’t want to pierce the Love Bug’s ears in our fancy mall, with a tiny gun in the big front window. So we went to a tattoo parlor downtown! It came highly recommended by the nurses in her hospital; They do things the old fashioned way, with a needle. So she made the reservation for a day after Passover. I tagged along for moral support, which the Bug didn’t need at all. She picked out tiny, sparkly opal studs. I had to wait in the waiting room, enjoying the ethnography of the body arts subculture. https://icontattoo.com/

It wasn’t the weekend’s mass shooting at an upscale mall in South Carolina that swayed my daughter. Police believe there were three guns involved; nine people were injured. A 73 year old woman is still hospitalized. Will nothing change?

You may recall my first published story was titled “Guns in the Woods.” It was about moving to an isolated mountaintop in the Berkshires when the Bride was a baby. It was about newlyweds, and the choices we make to accommodate each other; and it was about being alone at night, with the intermittent sound of rifles poaching deer. Pop! Pop!

I framed that piece from The Berkshire Eagle. The paper has turned yellow with age, and now I’m not sure what to do with it. I’ve been admonished not to decorate like an old lady, with lots of small framed pictures over every level surface. Maybe I could toy with mixed media and decoupage?

In our Nashville city farmhouse we would sometimes hear gunshots while getting ready for bed. Usually there was an altercation in the Kroger parking lot. I stopped going out for a pint of milk after dark. It’s strange how quickly we became accustomed to the sound of hand guns.

This habituation to gun violence is eating away at me and it’s a cancer on our democracy. We’ve all become disenchanted with our institutions, with a government that could not pass a single, simple gun control bill after Sandy Hook. Red and Blue states are all in agreement – our children need to be safe in school.

In our new Crooked Crystal Cottage at the outskirts of the city we hear crickets at night. Literally. Maybe an occasional siren will pierce the silence. Most Americans don’t have to contend with gun violence. They don’t think twice about grocery shopping at night. It’s just that every now and then, someone walks into a school, or a concert, or a shopping mall, or a movie theatre with an AR-15.

The US does not have a single definition for “mass shootings” but the FBI has tracked “active shooter incidents” for more than a decade. Such an incident is defined as “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area”.

According to¬†the FBI, there were 345 “active shooter incidents” in the United States between 2000-2020, resulting in more than 1,024 deaths and 1,828 injuries.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-41488081

We need to change this gun culture. We need to prosecute gun manufacturers, and hold more adults responsible for “accidental” gun deaths. We need to attack the gun lobby through marketing and the courts, in the same way we changed the culture of smoking, or driving while drunk.

Because of Russia’s war in Ukraine, legislators are finally talking about changing our collective perception, our reliance on fossil fuels. Buy electric cars! Reduce your carbon imprint! Well guess what – NOBODY needs an assault weapon. NOBODY.

Here are the states that have banned assault weapons: California, Connecticut, Washington DC, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Virginia. Minnesota regulates but does not outright ban assault weapons.

Protecting our children is paramount to protecting our second amendment.

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You remember the Christopher Nolan film Dunkirk. Most Americans had never heard about the WWII evacuation of British, French and Belgian troops off the coast of northern France in 1940, on the heels of German advancement. Technically a military defeat, the Brits have enshrined this event as a testament to courage and perseverance through dangerous waters. Fishermen and yacht men alike sailed to the rescue.

“…the tugs, drifters, trawlers, barges and motor launches, and rowing boats. Yes, and there was even a canoe.
This strange assortment was got together in record time by the Small Vessel Pool, an organisation which scoured the seaside places and rivers of Britain for every conceivable type of craft.
The response of owners of vessels everywhere was magnificent. There was no grousing at having to give up boats, indeed their only desire was to give their boats and a little more. In effect it represented the spirit of Dunkirk.

https://wordhistories.net/2019/04/16/dunkirk-spirit-origin/

Her Majesty the Queen of England just referenced the Dunkirk Spirit on a Zoom call with the builders and hospital staff of the new 155 bed Covid unit at the Royal London Hospital. The construction should have taken five months but was completed in five weeks. She recalled how Covid left her exhausted and then said:

“It is very interesting, isn’t it, when there is some very vital thing, how everybody works together and pulls together – marvelous isn’t it? …the “Dunkirk spirit. “Thank goodness it still exists.”

But does it exist here? Our response to 9/11 may be as close as we’ve come – people gave blood, knit booties for cadaver dogs, pulled together. Congress – Republicans and Democrats – sang the national anthem on the steps of the Capitol. The high school Rocker’s band played a concert in support of the rescue effort in Red Bank, NJ, not knowing that later he’d be scoring the Dunkirk trailer in Hollywood.

Maybe at the start of this pandemic, when people were singing on balconies and banging pots and pans, we approximated the Dunkirk Spirit. We were making masks for strangers, delivering pizzas to ERs, and felt compelled to care for our elderly and the immunocompromised. But how long can such altruism sustain itself?

Covid hasn’t gone away. We haven’t really defeated the microbe, in fact Nancy Pelosi just tested positive for the bug. You can be immunized and boosted as much as you like, but if you happen to be of a certain age, or have a chronic condition, it would be best to keep masking and avoiding indoor crowds whenever possible. It’s just that now, people would rather forget the pandemic. They are ready to get on with their lives.

Bob and I had a taste of the Dunkirk Spirit this past weekend. Our new Nashville neighborhood has a well established “Buy Nothing” Facebook group. The Bride has lured me back to Facebook because she noticed an elliptical machine that was up for grabs, and she knew we were in the market for one. I wrote to the owner that we’d stopped going to the gym in 2020, and that our “bodies and souls” could use her Nordic Track. Then the Bride wrote that we need to keep in shape for the wee grandchildren.

And Voila! Bob, the Groom and a friend hopped into a pick-up and delivered the elliptical to our family room. It appeared like magic, no shopping, no buying. Bob and I had posted the original kitchen appliances from our new/old house to Buy Nothing if you recall. We helped neighbors hoist and haul a perfectly good oven and a washer/dryer. I love this circle of giving. I just hope it’s not too late for my knees.

Ms Bean is delighted

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We sat just six rows back from the orchestra at the Schermerhorn, and waved at the Pumpkin’s classmate in a box seat nearby. He asked if there would be sound when we saw the gigantic movie screen, if we would hear the actors? I said no, it would probably just be the music of Star Wars: the Empire Strikes Back. He seemed to take that in stride, then a whole family in Star Wars costumes sat down in front of us and the theatre darkened. https://www.nashvillesymphony.org/4386

Bob and I bought tickets ages ago, not knowing if another variant might strike, or immunizations for children would be approved. There had been no Nutcracker for two years, no pictures of points in time, like the yearly Big Apple Circus pictures and posters that once littered our home. First from the Berkshires, where I was standing with the Bride at a concession stand holding a pink cloud of cotton candy, just moments away from giving birth to her brother. And later from Lincoln Center, surrounded by friends and family.

Yesterday we stopped for lunch at Fifth and Broad. As we walked past the honky-tonks to the symphony center the Rocker looked up at me… no, wait, it wasn’t the Rocker it was my L’il Pumpkin.

“I know why they call this The Music City,” he said without a bit of irony.

It was only a two block walk, but we had to swerve onto Broadway just to avoid a crooner who was leaning out of a bar window, serenading a bride-to-be in white hot pants, boots and veil. Then we hopped back onto the sidewalk to avoid a pedal tavern full of tourists drinking and singing. I wondered what an alien might think of our civilization if he/she/it managed to land in our town.

Science fiction holds a special place in our family history. Bob and I first started dating in high school, and Star Trek was the weekly highlight in our developing saga. The Bride’s first real movie, in fact was Star Wars: the Empire Strikes Back in 1980. She was six months old and slept through the whole thing on my lap.

But the Rocker’s obsession with Star Wars started even earlier. He cut his baby teeth on the Lucas Film space opera. He created stop-action films in our garage of its characters. Little did we know that later, after years of touring in his rock band, he would move to California and start composing Star Wars music for the trailer industry; that he would develop a company to archive cinematic sound. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQmIi6D38Rg

When we visited Disneyland this year, I wasn’t so sure who was more excited – my son or my grandson?

The Pumpkin’s eyes were transfixed, his energy barely contained by the seat. The Nashville Symphony musicians had tuned their instruments and were about to begin – “In a galaxy far far away” scrolled up the screen. We could hear the actors’ dialogue amidst a swelling wave of John Williams’ music. We leaned back in our seats ready for action and adventure.

I thought about bringing the toddler Rocker to his first Broadway show in NYC. We were in the front row, on top of the orchestra pit. I wasn’t so sure my little boy, my perpetual motion machine, would last through the whole play of Into the Woods. But he too was mesmerized, standing and looking at the musicians, almost willing them to engage him.

Later, in middle school, we’d won the warm-up dance contest on stage before another NYC show. We came with Grandma Ada to see Lucy Lawless, the actor who played Zena, Princess Warrior, in her Broadway debut of Grease. I was exhilarated and he was only slightly embarrassed. We both won tee shirts! He was starting his first band back then, they would play at his Bar Mitzvah.

While we Ubered home to our shared neighborhood, I asked the Grands what instrument they would love to learn to play. Their piano lessons had been on hold since the pandemic started. The Love Bug immediately said she’d like to learn how to play the guitar; thank you Taylor Swift. And the Pumpkin thought for a full minute, and then said the drums. Lucky for him, the Groom’s band keeps a set of drums in the garage apartment!

Maybe my daughter and son-in-law will host a teenage band in their garage someday too.

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