Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Happy birthday, George

My last entry described my memory of being 14 years old and watching the Beatles on Ed Sullivan for the first time.  Fifty (!) years ago.  This was "my" George when I first "fell in love" with him.

When he died in November 2001, he was ever and always "my Sweet George."

One year later, I was in London for Concert for George -- the most memorable musical event of my life.  George presided over the festivities as a huge version of this photo was hung over the stage.  His presence was felt by everyone there.

Today would be his 71st birthday.  

George Harrison
February 25, 1943 - November 30, 2001
Never get over you.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

It was twenty (no FIFTY) years ago today

Sunday night, February 9, 1964.  I was 14, in 9th grade and IN LOVE with The Beatles.  I knew that I wasn't alone in that feeling, but I had been especially stricken, reading about them, buying every available record (both 45's and LPs -- remember them?), and following their every move through newspapers, teenage "fan" magazines, and, of course, listening to the pop station on the radio.

Two days before, the Fab Four had stepped off a Pan-Am plane from Heathrow Airport in London, and arrived in NYC on the first trip to the states for all but one. George Harrison ("my" Beatle) had previously (and pre-fame) visited his older sister, Louise, in Illinois.  When you were as big a fan as I was, you knew this stuff!

Scheduled to perform on American soil for the first time, live, on the Ed Sullivan Show on Sunday, February 9th, they were greeted by hordes of American fans.  "Beatlemania" had officially begun.

From the moment the performance had been announced, I had been doing my best to beg, wheedle, whatever-it-took to make sure I was allowed to watch that night.  My father, a classical musician, had no use for "that noise" as he called pop music.  He barely tolerated the 1940's crooners that my mother favored, but pop/rock music??  NO WAY!  I had a small portable record player but was only allowed to listen to "my" music in my own bedroom on the third floor, high above the rest of the house and its residents.  Somehow, whether through promises or pleas, I managed to convince him that my life would no longer be worth living if I was denied the opportunity to watch.

The Ed Sullivan Show was a television legend.  This variety show was where all the important entertainers showcased their talents for the millions.  The Broadway musical, Bye Bye Birdie, later paid tribute with "Hymn to a Sunday Evening". Singers of all types, opera to country, comedians, puppeteers, ventiloquists, trained dogs, the Bolshoi Ballet! -- you name it -- a selection could be found on each Sunday night show.  Elvis Presley's first national appearance was on Ed Sullivan (though the camera famously was trained above his waist, so his "swiveling hips" did not risk offending the audience).

I seem to remember that we had yet to purchase a color television, so that night, I staked out my place on the floor in front of our couch, facing the black and white console television -- one of some 73,000,000 viewers.  Not even the most fervent few would have predicted that these young "lads from Liverpool" (as Ed called them) had started "the British Invasion" and would change the face of  popular/rock music forever.

My eyes were glued to the screen, afraid to miss a note or a word, and my heart pounded almost audibly in my chest.

My memory has more holes than Swiss cheese these days, but I clearly remember riding in a car with my aunt right around that time and telling her about the Beatles.  She responded by confidently informing me that, in five years, no one would remember who they were.  Fifty years later, John, Paul, George, and Ringo are not only not forgotten, but honored with publications, television programs, and awards.  

I have never stopped being a Beatles fan, carrying my affection and interest into my adult life and now into my dotage!  George always maintained his special place in my heart, even now, so many years later and over a dozen years since his death.  These four musicians, together and separately, were perhaps the only constant that I've carried there for five decades, as I've lost parents, gained and lost husbands, grown apart from and then close to siblings.  My daughters were raised on their music, I proudly confess.  And I expect this relationship will continue until the day I'm gone.  We love you Beatles!  And, my sweet George, I'll "never get over you." 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

2013 wrap-up: January (Inauguration and Seattle)

Given it took me almost an entire year to finish writing about my London travels with my daughters, I am now way behind in posting about any other 2013 events.  Simple neglect does account for some of my tardiness, but also, because of a medical condition, I have had to limit my computer time.  Given that I must spend most of my job time staring at a monitor, this means I often go days without even turning on the one at home.  Makes it kinda difficult to "keep up" with my recreational use (so to speak).

Decided I'd devote a few posts to the rest of 2013, add another photo-heavy W.I.B.W.O. piece, then try to get back on track with more frequent (if less lengthy) entries.

January 2013, Washington, DC
President Barak Obama was inaugurated for his second term.  (Was it really just ONE year ago?  It seems so much longer ago than a mere 12 months!)   D#1 got tickets for us to attend the inauguration so off I went to Washington DC to spend time with her and see this historic event.

The day before the ceremony, we visited the Old Post Office, a lovely Romanesque building, which had been converted to business and commercial space. 

The inside reminded me of The Bourse in Philadelphia, with its balcony of retail and food service circling the floor space and a dozen or so floors of offices surrounding the open central court before being topped off by a ceiling many, many feet above!

The tower on the building gives an amazing view of the city -- second only to the Washington Monument.

Note the almost empty street leading to the Capitol building.  That's Pennsylvania Avenue -- already cleared of most traffic and blocked off for the next day's parade.  We walked down this now-pedestrian walkway, passing the stand where the presidential party would watch.

On the cold and gray morning of the inauguration, we joined the crowds as we searched for the section where our tickets said we should be.

We had a decent view of the Capitol dome, but, alas,  couldn't see anything, not even the few "jumbotron" screens that were set up around the area.

Even so, it was exciting to hear the speakers, and know that we were experiencing a small part of history.

When the ceremony was over, our feet were frozen from standing on the cold ground and we knew that the Metro would be jammed for hours.  Hunger led us to walk a fair distance to find a restaurant that was open but didn't have miles of waiting customers.   A warm lunch fortified us to return to D#1's apartment and get ready to attend the HRC inaugural ball as she'd been given tickets through her job!   This ball was THE place for LGBT Washingtonians (and others) to be that night. 

Many thanks to my generous daughter who invited me to share these times with her!

January 2013: Seattle, Washington
The Mid-winter conference of the American Library Association took me to Seattle, a place I'd visited once before (for the same conference) in January 2007.  That trip was the last one before my life took a couple of turns for the worse because of family "stuff."  Six years later, with all the "stuff" in my rear-view mirror, I looked forward to exploring this city on my own.  D#1's BoyFriend spent much of his life in Seattle, and provided valuable tips on where to go and how to get there.  As is typical for a conference visit, I had few opportunities to see much other than the conference and, perhaps, a restaurant or two.  But, thanks to her BF, getting around was a snap!
My hotel was near Pioneer Square -- a place I remember visiting previously -- but off the beaten track for conference-goers.  This historic area has many older buildings, as well as a wonderful   mystery bookstore, which was closed during the hours I wasn't working (un)fortunately.
A short block away was a tunnel limited to bus and light rail which took me within a block of the convention center! 

The walls of the stops visually expressed where you were: brick and limestone at Pioneer Square, Asian origami-type art at the International District stop, and colorful entertainment-oriented murals at the center of town, with its theatres and music venues.

I did have the opportunity to have dinner in the International District, home of Seattle's Chinatown, though there were all types of Asian restaurants there.

Looking down the street from the Convention
Center,  you'll spot the iconic Pike's Place Market:

I had two clear memories of the market from my first visit: a quilt/fabric store and a chowder place.  On Monday morning, as the conference drew to a close, I volunteered to bring back lunch to my colleague (following the critical foray to look for the quilt shop).  Almost instinctively, I found them both again: Undercover Quilts and Pike's Place Chowder.

Undercover Quilts stocks fabrics with Seattle themes, perhaps especially commissioned for them.  I purchased a wonderful print which I used in the quilt I made D's BF as a gift for his college graduation! 

Someday I hope to return to Seattle when it's not January and not so cold.  Maybe I'll even see the sun! 

Progress report: Month 6 (October 2019)

1. ... basement -- Continued work on/in it 2. ... sort/discard -- Discarded/gave away 22 5. ... Clean & reorganize garage &...