Tonight’s post will be a three-parter as I’ve got a few things to cover, starting with TLC. This is actually a pretty good CD, at least it starts out that way. I got a little bored with it after a while, but it was still a decent workout. I always liked “Red Light Special,” song and video, and love “Creep,” song, video, the whole production. This is a more mature TLC than when they first hit the scene a few years prior in the very early 90s. I remember seeing them on MTV, I being in my mid-30s at a time when they were just some smug punky girls in stupid clothes. I found them both annoying and quite appealing with catchy tunes like “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” and “Baby Baby Baby.” I found them even more appealing and much less annoying with Crazy Sexy Cool, which showed that they could very successfully go from punky girls to punky young women with better clothing selections. I guess I was a punky kid too once, but without their confidence and spunk.
The extent of the trouble my old trouble-buddy and I caused during her visit last weekend, was quite mild if not nonexistent, as we are way far away from our punky days. It involved watching the final episode of Madmen the last night she was here, which was the first time I’d seen the show, and having cocktails and pizza at the bar of a local restaurant on her first night. As tweens we loved cooking and eating hot dogs, canned ravioli, frozen wanton soup and of course Progresso minestrone soup with lots of parmesan cheese. Now, we both love seltzer. It was also the first time in ages I had anybody stay over for more than one night. But, it was okay. It worked out well and didn’t even seem to last the four days and three nights as the time was filled with nonstop conversation. Isn’t it funny how someone you knew pretty well in junior high and early high school, someone who you thought was self-assured and confident, was just as insecure as you were? That’s one of the things I learned about trouble-buddy and wonder if that’s something she felt, and feels about me as well. Cause I was a mass of insecurities. And that leads to all sorts of things, mostly mistakes. Sometimes though when I hear other women’s stories about the men in their lives, and not just trouble-buddy’s, I feel the need to call the ex and thank him for not being the worst boyfriend in the world. But I don’t want to let him off that easy.
Did I ever mention the time when my boyfriend who looked like Bruce Springsteen (not the ex) and I saw Paul Schaefer somewhere west of the Winter Garden Theater one cold winter day, oh about 32 years ago? He was wrapped in one of those long down coats that practically devoured him, and he smiled at us when my boyfriend (the one that looked like Bruce Springsteen) said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, Paul Schaefer.” We were fans from the get-go and it was so early in his tenure as a late night fixture that he probably hadn’t tire of hearing that yet. And with that fond memory, I would like to thank David Letterman for years of unconventional hilarity and complete enjoyment on my part. Thank you very much. It was greatly appreciated.
We’re taking a trip back, far back in my life, but only to early last year in blog time to the Rod Stewart albums. Not the Faces because we split them up if you remember. If you so choose, you may refer to March 31, 2014 – Every Picture Tells a Story, which then refers back to a Lee Michaels post on the prior January 5th. I was 14 and 15 in those stories, and so was my friend, my trouble-buddy I’ve written about, who also appears in an even earlier post about my 45s and again in a later one on August 31, 2014, when I saw my old bud for the first time in decades. Well, here she is now, sitting next to me on my couch as I post tonight’s article. She came up for a solemn occasion having to do with our old friend with whom we had dinner that late August evening, and who just succumbed to her cancer. Trouble-bud and Robin (as we can now use her name) were very close in high school and remained close despite physical distance since. She came up from her southern home and is roosting with me for the weekend. So, if you don’t mind, this is tonight’s post as my bud and I have much to catch up on and have not caused enough trouble yet. Nor are we likely to, as we don’t actually remember how.
No exercise for a while, but we’ve done some walking and just came back from an evening cruise on the Staten Island Ferry.
Here’s the workout line-up as it stands now, I just have to get it back up to 4-5 times a week for the full routine: Aerobics – Santana and Rob Thomas’ “Smooth” twice and Sly and the Family Stone’s “Stand,” “Dance to the Music,” and then “Higher” twice. Variations may include setting up and warming up (laying out the mat, making sure I have water, going to the bathroom and stretching and moving) to Linda Ronstadt’s “You’re No Good,” “You Don’t Matter Anymore” and of course “Faithless Love” from Heart Like a Wheel, or, but not both, if I’m particularly peppy, I will add Sly and Family’s “You Can Make It If You Try.” For the next two sections of the workout, the matt stuff which incorporates some yoga movements with leg lifts, those elbow to knee things, and since it’s how I started this whole routine, the legs against the wall, with breathing and chanting, and then up on my feet for some work with the weights (still haven’t got anything heavier than 3lbs, but the arm muscles are coming along nicely) and stretching various body parts, I play Amy Winehouse. The whole Back to Black CD. I’m still that bowled over, and it is for that reason that she has come out ahead of Linda Ronstadt’s best of CD as the go to in what has now become the standard exercise routine and the music that goes with it.
A capitalist friend (I’ve got a couple) once criticized Linda Ronstadt for the career choices she made stating that if she had stayed in the mainstream he would be able to talk to his kids about her, but they don’t know who she is. Personally, I see a woman who was willing to risk criticism or alienation to pursue endeavors that made her happy. But to some, money and fame trump self-fulfillment. I did not follow her career when she was singing the songs of her heritage, which were quite popular with a demographic that would not include my capitalist friend, nor did I see her on Broadway in Pirates of Penzance, and only saw the movie when it hit TV. She was a big hit on the stage and was perfectly fine in her role, but Kevin Kline was pretty freakin’ major. Just sayin’. At the age of 68, the multi-Grammy winning Ronstadt can no longer sing due to her Parkinson’s disease, but we have plenty of mighty impressive work to remember.
With Amy Winehouse, we don’t have that big library of covers and duets, not to mention Ronstadt’s work with Emmy Lou Harris and Dolly Parton, but Winehouse hit the wow button over and over in her short life. As I get older, with health issues and those of people close to me, plus losing dear friends and other contemporaries, I think about death more and more. It fascinates me more than frightens as I am pretty darned sure that there is something after we die. Don’t know what it is, but I do believe this current life is the afterlife of another. I’ve kind of always accepted reincarnation, it’s comforting and fits well with my practical sense of recycling. So when I think of someone like Amy Winehouse, I don’t think of where she will go, but where she came from. Has she been destined to be that attention-grabbing character that’s here one moment, making sure everyone knows of his or her existence and remembered for the impact they’ve made, and then is gone before you know it? Maybe she was Billie Holiday or James Dean in a past life, or perhaps 19th century poet John Keats in a life before that. For me, I don’t want to seem like an ingrate, or a deserting rat, but when I come back next time, I’d like it to be on a different planet. But for the time being, Amy Winehouse won the coveted spot in my exercise routine, by a nose, by a hair and/or by a wisp of eyeliner over Linda Ronstadt. I thank both women for their assistance in my physical well-being during this lifetime.
I thought I might have lost my peeps in Brazil, whoever they may be. I began to worry, but now I think they’re just getting acclimated to my new once a week blogging schedule. So it’s not really bye bye Brazil, I just liked the movie poster.
Tonight, I was going to write about why I have pared down the blog, how I need to get those writing projects I’ve got hanging in midair brought back to reality and finish them, dammit. I’ve enlisted a friend’s assistance, making it her job, which she does very well, to be a cheerleader. But after an initial surge, I’ve gotten back into making excuses. No one wants to read about that. I have owned up to my mental defectiveness as you may recall, having the answers right in my hands without the impetus to use them. All I have to do is type them up. And yet, I don’t. So rather than bore you with that nonsense, I’ll wait and post about it when I’ve actually reached a goal. I hope to make it all worth my friend’s pompom shaking efforts.
I picked up three new CDs today, old Annie Lennox, Sheryl Crow and TLC, for a buck each. I haven’t even gotten to the last batch I bought, nor have I run through all of the ex’s CDs. However, I have incorporated his best of Linda Ronstadt, which I’ll bet he bought for “Long, Long Time,” into my “Smooth” and Sly routine using it for the last two-thirds of the workout, and alternating it with Amy Winehouse. What can I say, I’ve been in a weird mood. The only problem with the Ronstadt CD is that the chanting (yes, I still chant) winds up drowning out that heart-tugging, we’ve all been there, “Long, Long Time.” I’ve got to figure out something, cause we cannot have that.
There’s always someone posing a question about who was the best this or that, or who was the better of two artists on that WNEW-FM Fan Club on Facebook. Sometimes I like to see the different opinions, but rarely chime in. Except that time that an actual article was posted boasting the list of the 20 best drummers of all time, which included Prince protégé Sheila E. but not Gene Krupa. I had just watched an interview by Liberty DeVitto (Billy Joel) with Dino Danelli ((The Rascals) that morning in which Liberty tells Dino that Dino and Ringo (I don’t have to explain that one, do I?) were the most influential drummers for him, so I posted that, cause really, what constitutes “best?” The more recent query of who’s the best rock ‘n roll pianist did not motivate me to add my two cents. We all know by now that I think Billy Joel is a phenomenal piano player. I, of course, was already a fan decades ago – hometown, sort of, boy, incredibly talented and charismatic – but it was back when he was on 60 Minutes and demonstrated how he played the beginning of “Angry Young Man,” furiously chopping the keys, never missing a note, that left me awestruck. Billy Joel is by far my favorite rock ‘n roll piano man, however, as amazing as he is, my all-time favorite piano player is Chico Marx.
As someone who knows a little about the Marx Brothers, and is the proud owner of the movie photobook Why a Duck, with a very funny introduction by Groucho, I am aware that Groucho was not awfully fond of the musical numbers performed by his brothers in their movies. I could not agree and disagree more. I love the Marx Brothers, but never liked Harpo (except I’ve got to give him props for the famous mirror scene in Duck Soup). To me, his character was nothing more than an annoying pest, not to mention molester, and the harp playing was, well just plain boring. I like Zeppo more than I do Harpo, and if I had ever seen Gummo, I’d probably like him better too. I should mention here that Groucho had said that his brother Harpo was one of the sweetest guys he knew.
But Chico – Chico was funny. His scenes with Groucho are priceless, and when he played piano, he did so with such delight, his pianist fingers which seem to magically appear from a goofy persona, tripping over the keys with precision, teasing the ivories more than tickling them. And then he gives this mischievous look as he aims his trigger finger and shoots a key. Bang. He shoots the keys enjoying every moment of his time at the piano, and we, at least I know I do, share in his delight and enjoyment. Seeing Chico (which Groucho pronounced Chick-o) shoot the keys makes me happy, dammit.
Memory moment – my brother bought me the book Why a Duck as a birthday or Christmas present back in the ‘70s. We weren’t the gift for no reason type of family, a trait I did not continue, and my father wasn’t a gift without strings kind of father, so I am sure that the book was for an occasion. Regardless, my brother and I watched Marx Brothers movies together and the “Why a Duck” scene from the movie Coconuts (oh, and the intercom scene from Day at the Races) had us hysterical with laughter. And we so needed the laughs.
If you have never seen a Marx Brothers movie, I suggest you begin with Duck Soup to get your feet wet.
The other night I had the most overwhelming desire to hear “Faithless Love,” that splendid JD Souther song that he and Linda Ronstadt sing together. I needed to hear it so much I had to clear all the CDs I’ve been accumulating in the past year from the top of the record player. Please don’t be on Silk Purse. Please don’t be on Silk Purse. Because it’s a really swell album cover, and I have it, record inside, framed and sitting on a shelf. I thought and hoped as I looked through the albums not designated in the Ram 20 or framed that it would be on Heart Like a Wheel, and thankfully I was right. I removed Benny Goodman, who had been sitting on the turntable since I discovered I couldn’t live or exercise without my dose of Sly and the Family Stone, and turned the CD player that’s hooked up to the turntable to AUX. I listened to “You’re No Good,” sang along with Ronstadt’s country version of Paul Anka’s “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore,” wondering how I remember all the words and the notes, though I couldn’t hit a few of them, then played “Faithless Love” twice. It’s a sweet song, kind of simple, but Ronstadt’s voice makes it seem more monumental and the harmony with Souther, particularly at the very end, is enough to make one swoon. As a matter of fact, I believe I did.
It was a good warm-up, but the rest of the album is not workout-worthy. As I have found that the Santana/Thomas collaboration “Smooth” just inspires mindless movement, and lots of it, I have been playing it over and over, dancing around the apartment, chasing Max who I believe thinks that when the song starts, so starts playtime, and kind of getting too exhausted to complete all three sections of my usual workout routine. I have been slacking off, I’m sorry to say, blaming the long winter for being back in the size 12s, so I’ve been trying to up the ante by combining my three current passions (Faithless Love, Smooth and Sly), extending the aerobics, adding a few cobras, making sure I get those legs up the wall (that reference goes back to the very beginning of the blog), and rather than increasing the number of repetitions as I work the arms with the pair of three pound weights, I’ve been doing them slower and much more deliberately. And it’s working. The batwings, I’ve no doubt, will stay forever, but I am developing a nice set of guns, that will jiggle. But I barely have to flex to show a nice firm muscle, and I look forward to again having that cut along the biceps without twisting. So once more I am feeling more motivated and optimistic. Props to the sun.
Nice weekend, weather-wise, and nice day today as I had brunch with Vicki’s sister followed by a walk to Washington Square where we sat and watched some people playing petanque1 while we chatted and soaked in some of that sun as if we were English (you have to know something about the weather in England and its people’s reaction to the sun making an appearance). We then headed uptown a bit where we had a mini and brief high school reunion with my friend who runs a bar in Chelsea.
Note to self: Get heavier weights.
1 The French form of bocce ball – Vicki’s sister knew the difference, not I, and I trusted her judgment as I heard one of the players say something in French but not in Italian.
Last Thursday night I saw my first fireworks display off Liberty Island in a long time, considering that they are not so infrequent down this way. It was so terribly overcast that the works burst low and the larger ones got cut nearly in half by the clouds. It wasn’t the most brilliant display, but it was very welcome and needed, and reminds me why I live down here.
Pat St. John, disc jockey from back in the old WNEW-FM days and who has been with the New York “oldies” station WCBS for a long time, said goodbye to New York radio today after more than 40 years as a fixture on the airwaves. He’s not a big memory for me, not like Vin Scelsa and many of the other NEW radio personalities, but he’ll be missed nonetheless.
Max got a new mouse and a bag of catnip the other day. I think he’s quite pleased. We’ve been chasing each other around the apartment so he can lose some of his 22 pounds. I’m still exercising to Sly and the Family Stone, and now I’ve thrown “Smooth” in because it makes me feel good.
I’m thinking of cutting back to blogging once a week. So, if I don’t post on Wednesday, you’ll know why.