Friday, May 13, 2011

Random Thoughts from A Random Mind--and a few updates.

As to updates.  Let's start with that.  SUNDAY SIMCHA this Sunday features an interview with Leila Levinson and we speak of her book---Gated Grief.  It is brief but meaningful so I do hope you will not miss that.  Check for time and also for the archiving.  TRADITIONS  has some real surprises this Sunday---new material, voices from a while back---and some thematic material you will want to hear---and we start with a great piece about John Prine---which he may not be happy about but is factual..

The random mind does have some random thoughts since what else should a random mind be doing.  Trying now to stay on focus let us start with Broadway, money, and the world having changed. 

When I was a lad (and I am not going to sing from Pinafore now) I still recall the first show I ever saw.  An aunt took me to see the D'oyle Carte Company doing The Gondoliers.  To this day I have not forgotten it and also how it whetted my appetite for theater and cultural events.   While I realize there is a different price scale today for such an awakening it is not in an economic equivalent to reality.   Yes, tickets then may have been in the $20 range(high for the time) but now to introduce someone to a Broadway experience (unless you can garner something on TDF) will set you back some $125.00 plus all kinds of unexplainable charges.   I have always wanted to help restore theaters---now that is a charge,  delivery---a charge because they held them. and so it goes.  Then there are on-line sites where people sell their tickets and hope for a vast profit.

Then what is the Broadway experience?   When it comes to musicals we are speaking here of what are in fact "Tourist Trapping Moments" (you know---I saw it on Bway) .  Then there are the wonderful dramas and plays.  Their runs are never very long.   That is unfortunate since that is what theater is all about.   Theater is also all about dramatic musicals---not special effects. Or Juke Box Musicals---Abba, Jersey Boys. Faux Beatles.  Think instead Carousel, West Side Story, In The Heights and the like.

Times do change, admittedly.  Sometimes they are really not for the better.   Standards are lowered,  prices are raised, and hype makes people believe they are on to something really special.  They are.  They are getting ripped off.  Think of some of the local venues you might attend that offer great moments of entertainment for a fraction of Broadway prices.  Of course there is the parking and transportation.  No problem locally, I should think.   Of course you do miss the "drama" of  "The Big Apple"===but that lil ole worm has finally bored his way in to that.  I do believe I know the specific day it happened.

When all is said and done I do believe that I could introduce a youngster to theater and he would fall in love with it and I would not have to suffer the Mortgage Costs.of Broadway.

All the above said I do have to admit that there are good reasons why I am not a booker, an investor, or a promoter.   Today I was in conversation with a wide spectrum of people of various ethnic make-up and I found, to my surprise, that they had all seen Lion King and were raving about it.   My grandson just saw it and raved about it and I appreciate that my daughter introduced him that Broadway experience.  One does have to say that the experience of today is quite different to what I might think of as impressive---say, South Pacific, Gilbert & Sullivan (my first experience with D'oyly Carte-already noted)) or any of the others mentioned above.  One can only hope that "special effects" do not overtake a true musical drama with memorable music---again, think of the previously mentioned.  In addition one has to pray that real drama still has a place on the "Great White Way" when the runs for those seem rather short lived.   That Championship Season is closing.   I saw Thurgood a while back---brilliant and closed. 

So, final thought on Bway experience---stick to TDF or TKTS and don't support these over the top prices.  Prices that equal one evening's entertainment for the entire budget of some family's for sustenance.  By the way---Al Pacino in a one man show (I do not know what he plans to do in it) is on Stub Hub for ---hold your breath----$1100.   Any takers?

The random thoughts were plural so it is only proper that I add a few more..  I have already mentioned the programs (TRADITIONS & SUNDAY SIMCHA) and  do have tell you all how delighted I am with the increasing popularity of SUNDAY SIMCHA.  The listeners keep recommending others and so the Ponzi Scheme here goes on.  We are just like Social Security, I suppose.  The best legal Ponzi scheme I know of.

Which leads me to the last random thought about a conundrum.  How is it possible to know someone for years and not know that person is capable of violence?  How is it possible that this person has always been thought annoying and irritating by many and yet some slight (of his own making) can set this person off to violent behavior?  Stay tuned for News At 11---they always find those folks.

Well, since we talked of a Broadway experience and also Gilbert & Sullivan---and how that one does not necessarily have to be on Bway to have an experience---well---whey not---

THURSDAY Another Edition of..................

A flip of the fedora to Jimmy Cannon :


1)            You have to hand it to the Orthodox Jewish newspaper from Bklyn.  for narrow mindedness,  and making lying not a sin when they altered the iconic photo of the tension of awaiting the Seals capturing Osama Bin Laden. 

2)               Here is the ethical thing---don’t publish the shot.  In altering it you have shown disdain for women, a penchant for lying, and, perhaps worst, opened yourself for legal problems since the photo came with specific instructions it not be altered.

3)               Best that the publishers of Die Tzeitung (that is the paper) go to Pitkin Avenue and look for Joe & Paul---they know from altering---from coats to suits to gabardines----OY can they a bargain bring.

4)               How many recall when Adlai Stevenson had a problem in running because of his divorce?   Now we have Presidents who have affairs and now a contender who has his 3d wife (who he dated while married) to be his testimonial to his “family values”.  Say another hello to Newt Gingrich.

5)               With all the hype about Broadway musicals and Spiderman in particular has anyone noticed that the only “Broadway” shows of significance are dramas (that do not run for long) and 1 or 2 musicals?   All the rest is now Disneyland East---spectacles with no serious or comedic content (save 1 or 2)   Most good things are now Off Bway or regional.   Think of this---South Pacific---Lincoln Ctr. / War Horse—Lincoln Ctr. / West Side Story—Bellport NY.  Now if you want Juke Box Musicals and tourist attractions Bway is THE place---The Million Dollar Quartet, Jersey Boys, Abba, Lion King—and so on and on and on.

6)               Does anyone really care that Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife separated?  If so—well, let me look into Bartlett’s Book of Quotations---here it is---“get a life”

7)               Andrew Calhoun is one hell of an honest songwriter---stick around for the day I have him on TRADITIONS---probably on 5/29.   You do not want to miss it and all the other material that day.

8)               I have to repeat a great joke which was told by the grand-daughter of Sholom Aleichem.  She is now 100 years of age and teaching a course in Jewish Humor.  Married to a man who is 94 she makes the point that he likes older women---OK—the joke:
        “The Frenchman says: ‘I’m tired and thirsty. I must have wine.’ The German says: ‘I’m tired and thirsty. I must have beer.’ The Jew says: ‘I’m tired and thirsty. I must have diabetes.’ ”.

       Bel Kaufman is the author of the best-seller Up The Down Staircase.

9)              I don’t have a “smart” phone since it would make me feel truly stupid---a phone smarter than myself.  Horrors.

10)       Stu Marcus, the force behind the annual Harry Chapin concert on Long Island attracts some terrific talent for this Free event (you do have to bring food for the local pantries) and wondered how he might get Billy Joel to appear.  He has all the creds for this---Long Island,  stated many times his music is mistaken for Harry Chapin, and, while it is always a “sold out” event---this could really make it even more-so---and put a great feather in the cap of Stu Marcus, who desperately needs another feather in his cap.

11)       I wonder why John Prine never got around to writing a song about Steve Goodman---who, besides being a great friend, pushed him to the fore at the beginning.   He states, in Clay Eals’ book that he still has not had the inspiration.   Strange.  Think Harry Chapin/Phil Ochs, Harry Chapin/Pete Seeger, Eric Bogle/Kate Wolf.  Inspiration!

12)       Make sure you do not miss the segment about songwriters and singers on Traditions this Sunday----it may well explain the above---Andrew Calhoun will be my guest 2 weeks from then.


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Some Thoughts and Some Suggestions Required

On TRADITIONS, as you are aware, I always start the program with some, what I consider, wonderful new music that was sent over the proverbial transom.   That will not change.  But I could use some suggestions about a thought I had for the program.  You, hopefully, are listeners and appreciate the program and all the wonderful guests that join us (that will not change).

In thinking of it I am so delighted that there are many "elders", so to speak, that are still with us---Pete Seeger being the lead off hitter in that category.  Yet,  we have lost so many before their time.   It is, sadly, a long list.  Yet, their music should always be recalled.    I speak here of people like Steve Goodman, Kate Wolf, Harry Chapin, Phil Ochs---oh---many more.   SO--the question.  Would you want about 20 or so minutes devoted to these people on a bi-weekly basis (one at a time)---you requests would be honored.?

Your input on this would be greatly appreciated.   I know how I feel about it but I always want to keep the program to be something you--the listener--wants to hear.

No picture and no influence today.  Just an honest question.