“Stormy Weather” Along the Way

“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.”-Lena Horne

Lena Horne was born today in 1917, 2 years before my dad and she died at the age of 92 in NYC in 2010. There was only one Lena Horne. When I was very young, my dad, who loved music and could sing and whistle in tune, had albums by Lena Horne and of course I noticed her beauty right away on the album covers, but her style of singing really awed me. She could be smooth and all of a sudden, turn on a dime and get you in your gut. I remember my husband and I seeing her 1981 one-woman concert on Broadway and then purchasing tickets for my parents to see her. Also, if you haven’t read “The Hornes: An American Family,” by her daughter, Gail Lumet Buckley, then do so, it’s excellent and was published, I think, in 1986. Lena Horne had a very interesting, middle class upbringing with a grandma who laid the foundation for her activism in Civil Rights. (If I remember correctly, since I read the book 27 years ago!). Lena Horne was the definition of a strong individual who spoke her mind, took actions she thought were right, made mistakes along the way and didn’t let any one of them keep her down. Nor did she let society or members of society keep her down. She had a well- publicized marriage to Lennie Hayton, a Jewish composer, conductor and arranger…very difficult at the time to say the least and was kept secret in the beginning. Lena Horne endured many Stormy Weather days in her life due to prejudice, bias and racism, but kept on going! “You have to be taught to be second class; you’re not born that way.”-Lena Horne








Remembering an Inspiring Singer/Songwriter, Tim Buckley

“He had no formal musical education, no knowledge of chords and no knowledge of composition. But he did it. And he did it well.”Lee Underwood on Tim Buckley, 2000 Rhino Records

On June 29th, 1975, Tim Buckley died at the young, tender age of 28, a victim of a heroin overdose. (As many of you know, his son, Jeff, also died tragically young at approximately 31 years of age due to a drowning.) I had Tim Buckley’s albums in the 60s and 70s and would listen to them constantly. His voice was beautiful, yet haunting. There is a film out there featuring the music of both Tim and Jeff Buckley, “Greetings from Tim Buckley,” haven’t seen it yet. In 2013, Tim Buckley’s songs stand strong and remain beautiful. Read the Tim Buckley site to get a full bio on him and also the Tim Buckley Archives site.

NEW BEGINNINGS On This Friday Morning

“The Secret O’Life is enjoying the passage of time.”-James Taylor

This morning, our friend’s son is leaving to teach and live in Ghana for 2 years. This is a young man who literally had to make things happen on his own. I’m not totally sure of his beginnings, but I know they were very difficult, including not living with his biological parents and living in a foster-like situation that was negative. Our son met “C” in high school and we became close to the point he referred to us as “Momma” and “Poppa.”  He put himself through undergraduate/graduate school and worked many jobs. “C” is into the environment, vegetarianism, saving the planet, doing good and of course we wish him the best and can’t wait to hear about his students and how he is helping them.  Another beginning this morning concerns our son who is emptying his NYC apartment and moving things to his grandma’s basement to get ready for his new beginning of teaching and living in Southeast India for 2 years with his girlfriend in July!  As parents we are concerned about health and safety, of course!!!!  We hope all works out well and that they all drink in “…the passage of time.” (Without getting dysentery or any other disease!!!!!!!)

**UPDATED NOTE: A very nice blogger. Mark, (Check out his blog, too) gave me this link to post where you can hear the sweet voice of James Taylor crooning his “Secret O’Life:”


*Note: I had the hardest time getting a youtube link for James Taylor’s song, “Secret O’Life,” none would stay posted!!!  Sorry. Go onto youtube and watch James Taylor and/or India Arie do a great cover of Taylor’s song.




“The most vital right is the right to love and be loved.”-Emma Goldman

“I want freedom, the right to self-expression, everybody’s right to beautiful, radiant things.”-Emma Goldman

Emma Goldman was born today in 1869 in Lithuania. The quotes above are so relevant to yesterday’s DOMA decision! If there’s a heaven, Emma Goldman is smiling. She worked tirelessly for the rights of ALL people and ALL workers and was labeled an anarchist and considered an undesirable citizen by her adopted country, The U.S.A. and deported to Russia under the 1918 Alien Act. Emma Goldman was NOT an enemy, she was an idealist who believed everyone should be treated fairly and have equal rights. Today, Emma Goldman is admired for her vision, her work, her passion and commitment to equal rights. Emma Goldman believed that: “The idealists and visionaries, foolish enough to throw caution to the winds and express their ardor and faith in some supreme deed, have advanced mankind and have enriched the world.”

“Emma Goldman dedicated her life to the creation of a radically new social order. Convinced that the political and economic organization of modern society was fundamentally unjust, she embraced anarchism for the vision it offered of liberty, harmony and true social justice. For decades, she struggled tirelessly against widespread inequality, repression and exploitation.Goldman’s deep commitment to the ideal of absolute freedom led her to espouse a wide range of controversial causes. A fiery orator and a gifted writer, she became a passionate advocate of freedom of expression, sexual freedom and birth control, equality and independence for women, radical education, union organization and workers’ rights.”-jwa.org *Jewish Womens Archive

 “Emma Goldman, born in Kovno, Lithuania (then Russia) in 1869, came to the United States in 1885 at age 16. By the time of her deportation, she had made a name for herself as a leading anarchist, public speaker, and crusader for free speech, birth control, and workers’ rights.  Goldman first became interested in radical politics in Russia, where she came into contact with populists and political organizers. In the U.S., she was disappointed to learn that instead of streets paved in gold, workers were subject to gross economic inequality and inhumane working conditions. ”-jwa.org This Week in History

How appropriate that her birthday comes at such a momentous time in history!


“I Say Yeh, Yeh! That’s What I Say”-Georgie Fame

“Some people think I’m a rock ‘n’ roll musician and some think I’m a jazz musician but, for me, there is no difference.”Georgie Fame

Oh, how I remember loving “Yeh, Yeh” recorded by British Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames. It was a mix of jazz, rythmn and blues and just rocked my 11 year old self! Georgie Fame is alive and kicking and is 70 years old today, Happy Birthday! I just listened to the song 2X and it’s still great!

“The greatest gift is the passion for reading. It is cheap, it consoles, it distracts, it excites, it gives you knowledge of the world and experience of a wide kind. It is a moral illumination.”-Moses Hadas

This morning I learned about someone I had never heard of before…Moses Hadas, Scholar, former Columbia University Professor, Family Man, Spiritual Leader, Writer, Translator.

Although he was known as a quiet, even shy man, Moses Hadas made his presence felt at the College as a prolific scholar and as one of the College’s truly great teachers. A classicist by training, he began teaching as an instructor in the General Honors course in 1925, and except for brief service in the Office of Strategic Services during World War II, he stayed at Columbia for the rest of his career, remaining one of the College’s most sought-after teachers until his death in 1966. Born in Atlanta, Hadas received his bachelor’s degree from Emory University in 1922, and came to Columbia to do advanced work in Greek and Latin literature. Even as his own academic accomplishments mounted, Hadas continued to embrace undergraduate education. After teaching General Honors, he taught the Colloquium on Important Books; he was one of the original teachers of Humanities A and continued to teach it for years. It was said of Hadas that he “always had enough time to discuss anything of humane interest with the demanding young.” Little wonder that, as a teacher, he was often mentioned in the same breath as Mark Van Doren.”Columbia College Faculty Profiles

His daughter, Rachel Hadas, wrote a loving bio on him for Columbia University in 2001 and the information below is from that text:

“Moses Hadas was raised in Atlanta in an Orthodox household by Yiddish-speaking parents and trained as a rabbi (he graduated from Jewish Theological Seminary in 1926 and completed his doctorate in classics in 1930); later in life he continued to fulfill the rabbinical function of performing wedding ceremonies, specializing in marriages, like his own second one, between Jews and Gentiles. Thus not only in his teaching, translating, and scholarship but also in his own life, Hadas was a bridge builder who crossed his own bridges; a mapper of cultures who especially enjoyed seeing where traditions converged. His linguistic talent (Yiddish, German, Hebrew, Greek, Latin, French, Italian, and add later some Spanish, Dutch, Modern Greek, and Hebrew as he experienced it spoken in Israel) was mirrored by a remarkable cultural fluency.

Hadas was praised by his colleague Jacques Barzun ’27C ’32SGSAS as belonging “to that ancient time when scholars loved to teach, knew how to write, and developed personalities without effort,” his distinctively multicultural interests and identity make him look, from my perspective now in 2001, more like a man ahead of his time. Hadas was also ahead of his time in his populist instinct. A crucial—perhaps the crucial—theme of his career was the urge to transmit the classical legacy, in the widest sense of the term, to as wide an audience as possible—certainly an audience outside the classrooms of Columbia College. Thus mid–century technology allowed him to reach a television audience; he spoke about the classical legacy on Channel 13 and traveled to Israel with Eric Sevareid in 1965 for a program about the Shrine of the Book. And in 1963, in a pilot program conducted under the auspices of the Ford Foundation, Hadas delivered lectures on classical civilization by telephone to several Southern black colleges, including Grambling State University. (Partial tapes and transcripts of these lectures survive; it is a chapter of his career worth reexploring, and more surprising than the fact that Hadas corresponded with Robert Graves about Greek mythology and with Mary Renault about the way Euripides’ Medea hisses her s’s.)”

Moses Hadas was born today, June 25th in 1900.
















Park Slope’s Own Pete Hamill

“There are 10,000 books in my library, and it will keep growing until I die. This has exasperated my daughters, amused my friends and baffled my accountant. If I had not picked up this habit in the library long ago, I would have more money in the bank today; I would not be richer.”-Pete Hamill, Journalist/Author

 I’m not sure how known Pete Hamill is outside of NYC, but I’ve enjoyed his newspaper columns and books for many years. Like me, Pete Hamill was born in Brooklyn, in the Park Slope section. He may be known in some quarters as a long time paramour of Shirley MacLaine…after reading her daughter’s memoir, I wonder how he lasted so long with Ms MacLaine! He also dated Jacqueline Kennedy. Pete Hamill is a REAL New Yorker…loves baseball…enjoyed a drink and thankfully stopped his drinking life in the 70s. “Alcohol seems always to have played a role in Hamill’s life. Some of his first memories are of his father, Billy Hamill-who lost a leg to gangrene after he was injured in a soccer game-coming home drunk. Or of his father spending time in neighborhood bars and the young Pete thinking, ‘This is where men go. . . . This is what men do.’  At the same time, fascinated by comic books, Hamill recounts how-in a bit of symbolism heavy enough to trip over-he realized that the comic heros got many of their secret powers from drinking secret formulas. ‘The comics taught me . . . that even the weakest human being could take a drink and be magically transformed into someone smarter, bigger, braver.”Interview with Pete Hamill, 2/15/94, Conducted by Janet Cawley, Chicago Tribune

He stopped drinking cold turkey and continued writing. Hamill has written about: baseball, growing up in Brooklyn, art, comic books, and many other subjects. He is also the author of numerous short stories and novels.

Pete Hamill is 78 today, he’s been writing for over 50 years. Read his entire bio here.







“Hot Town, Summer in the City”-The Lovin’ Spoonful

Just thought of this great summer song this morning since I was in NYC yesterday for a high school graduation on the campus of City College (CCNY). I was 13 years old when “Summer in the City” exploded from my transistor radio and I loved it. I had already loved the autoharp since I had to play it on stage in a 3rd grade play and so enjoyed it when John Sebastian would play his. While in 3rd grade, my mom took me to the city and bought me an autoharp, which is in mint condition in my closet. It may even be an Oscar Schmidt autoharp, I’ll have to look at it and see.

It was wonderful to see these graduates and their families basked in so much pride in their accomplishment and faith in their futures…many are going onto college…no minor feat in a school and neighborhood whose problems are well known and seen on the nightly news. We were guests of the Guest Speaker who was a former teacher and is our son who truly made a difference in many of their lives and influenced them to go for the gold and apply to college.

Walking around NYC after dinner with the sun still going strong reminded me of my youthful days of hanging out in so many different neighborhoods of the city. NYC was a hot town then and now and music always stirs my memories.



Happy First Day of Summer

The Summer Day by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?

Who made the swan, and the black bear?

Who made the grasshopper?

This grasshopper, I mean–

the one who has flung herself out of the grass,

the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,

who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down–

who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.

Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.

Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.

I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down

into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,

how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,

which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

With your one wild and precious life?