Posts Tagged ‘Jazz Age’

What goes around…

Underneath my 1966 high school yearbook picture is the caption, “Dover today, Broadway tomorrow.” It was good to have a friend on the yearbook staff, thank you Bess, but in my defense I did try out for every single play in high school. From Freshman year when I was a CanCan girl dancer in Oklahoma, to Senior year playing Adelaide to Bob’s Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls, (Achoo) you just can’t make this stuff up. And whatever part of the right side of our brain that’s responsible for creativity, well that part was squared when the Rocker was born.

He would practice the violin while our Corgi howled right next to him. He spent hours filming stop-action cartoons in our garage. Later on, in middle school in the mid 90s, he would design websites for his friends. He started his first band with his buddy Alex around the same time. I was deep into filming dance aerobics workouts for our local cable channel, while Bob played old 60s music extremely loud in the background of the Rocker’s early life. In fact, Bob said the only way he could calm him down as an infant was to blast Led Zeppelin in the car.

So I am happy to announce that the Rocker is going back out on tour this week. He’ll be playing guitar with Nicole Atkin’s band http://nicoleatkins.com/home/ and his old friend Christopher will be on drums. They will share the stage with the Avett Brothers again, and open for Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. My son will visit his sister in Nashville on the 16th when they play TN Music City Roots – they will also be filming for PBS to benefit the Nature Conservancy. http://musiccityroots.com/events/

He’ll be onstage for his birthday this summer, so chances are he’ll have a big crowd singing “Happy Birthday.” All the while working on The Parlor Mob’s reunion shows this Fall and scoring music for film on the road. http://www.davidjamesrosen.com Unfortunately, he’s going to miss his Grandma Ada’s second 90th birthday bash in NJ (the first was in Mexico), and I can’t tell you how many people want to sing and dance at her party!

Which makes me think about the Flapper, sneaking out of her bedroom window in Scranton, PA to dance all night to the Tommy Dorsey band. Later in the 20s, Tommy joined his brother Jimmy in a band they called the Scranton Sirens. Later still, as a dowager on Lake Minnetonka, my brother Mike had Cab Calloway play piano for our Mother. The rest of that jazz is history

…it comes around.

The Rocker was named after Sue’s father, and got off a plane from Mexico with Ms Cait to attend her funeral. I like to think he was her favorite cousin.    photo


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It was a chilly 3 degrees this morning in our neck of the woods. The wind has died down and there’s a peacefulness about this arctic/polar/vortex. Ms Bean sits at the kitchen door and looks outside resignedly. No hawks circling, no sounds of woodpeckers, just the gentle whoosh of gas fireplaces upstairs and down.

Speaking of a house divided by a staircase, let’s talk about the latest Downton Abbey episode. It was near midnight by the time I got home from our expedition to the Paramount Theatre on Sunday. On my way to Kay’s house (she was driving into town with 2 other friends), the woman directly in front of me hit a deer. The poor thing was just sitting wide-eyed in the middle of the road, while we waited for the police to put an end to its misery.

The incessant rain/fog coupled with such a morbid beginning made me wonder if venturing out so late at night would be worth it – but the season premiere of Downton, surrounded by so many other like-minded-Edwardian-loving women, proved otherwise. We feasted on a substantial array of English appetizers, swigged champagne, and thrilled to a lecture by Richard Will, Chair of the McIntire Department of Music at the University of Virginia,.

‘The Music of Downton Abbey” and film scoring was on the docket before that hound’s white rump started wagging along to those famous opening notes. Will and two UVA students performed music of the 20s and 30s, explaining how American ragtime permeated Europe after the war. There was a tension between old and new, the Edwardian and the Modern age. Young women could be seen in a public restaurant unescorted, and all classes were mixing it up on the dance floor. The Jazz Age ushered in a staccato subtext to the romantic, sentimental music that dominated the turn of the century.

I’ll not ruin the plot for those of you without cable, but the new season is shaping up well. There is frisson between fathers and daughters, maids and lady’s maids, and one or two surprising losses. I for one, am still getting over the loss of Matthew, and have to remind myself that the actor is in fact alive and well and appearing on Broadway at the moment. Having just finished reading “Lady Catherine and the Real Downton Abbey,” fact and fiction collide on a regular basis in my brain.

The only cure is take one of those Viking cruises and tour Highclere Castle for myself! Anyone else interested, maybe this Spring? http://www.highclerecastle.co.uk/index.html

Today I’ll cozy up with Ms Bean and search for a Corgi rescue and a good Highclere tour. Stay warm everybody! In the words of Al Jolson:

“Come on along, Come on along, Let me take you by the hand.”






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The word for today on Dictionary.com is “Quacksalver.” I love it when I’m unfamiliar with a word so I eagerly clicked on its meaning:

Noun  1. a charlatan. 2. a quack doctor.
1570–80;  < early Dutch  (now kwakzalver )
Of course, quacksalver is onomatopoeic. Someone who is hawking his snake oil cure-all from the back of a pioneer wagon, someone who’s home made salve promises to do everything. Someone who is not who he appears to be, like Jay Gatsby.
Bob scooped me up on Mother’s Day from my self-induced TCM mom/alone/coma, and deposited me in our town’s newest movie theatre symposium. We didn’t see Baz Luhrmann’s 3-D version of The Great Gatsby, which was screening later in the evening, but we sat through 20 minutes of previews until F Scott Fitzgerald’s characters materialized onscreen in all their digitized glory. I’m so glad I waited until the next day, on the bike at the gym, to read one critic’s take on this classic American novel turned screenplay.
Fitzgerald coined the phrase, “The rich are very different from you and me,” and this was his most subtle way of proving the point. It was the Jazz Age, skirt lengths were going up while the price of bootleg liquor was going down. The reason the love story of Daisy and Jay has lasted so long is because it’s a pretty universal one. Boy meets girl, boy can’t have girl for a myriad of reasons (like class or clan differences) and chaos ensues. But more than a romance, it’s a morality play. Fitzgerald’s genius is in his elegiac prose:
“It was all very careless and confused. They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”
Gatsby creates an empire and holds lavish parties at his Long Island mansion with one thing in mind, winning Daisy back. But he didn’t go to Yale with Nick and Tom, and he didn’t graduate from Oxford or Cambridge. He will never fit in with this polo-playing crowd; Gatsby created an image of himself built on his shadow world of respectability – a precursor to the celebrity culture of today. Old money vs new money. Like Juliet or Zelda or Anna Karenina, Daisy Buchanan could never be his happy ending.
I was 23 in 1972, attending SUNY College at Purchase when I drove to one of those “cottages” in Rhode Island with a friend from the Dance Department to audition for the ballroom scene in The Great Gatsby with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow. My friend Nadjia made the cut, they told me I “…didn’t look the part.” Little did they know that I was the daughter of a real Flapper, a Dime a Dance girl, who shimmied with Cab Calloway at a speakeasy. But then again, I didn’t know that either. My Mother kept a few secrets too.
When the Flapper was in her 80s, my brother Michael arranged for Cab Calloway to surprise her at a party on Lake Minnetonka. And I realized that my Mother must have felt very much the same way I did my whole life, the way Fitzgerald felt:
“I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.”

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