“It’s a hard life, It’s a hard life, It’s a very hard life.”-Nanci Griffith

“Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet.”Maya Angelou

July 31st holds several events that remind us that being Jewish has never been easy. Yes, we’ve been able to hide our Jewishness for the most part and not stick out in a crowd, except for when we had to wear yellow stars on our clothing; as opposed to our brothers and sisters of black and brown color who could not hide who they were anywhere or anytime here in the U.S.A.; or our brothers and sisters of Japanese ancestry who also couldn’t hide who they were and were plucked from their homes and placed in camps here in the U.S.A. There are so many examples of a “hard life” for so many people due to: religion, race, skin color, language, ethnicity, place of birth,culture, economic status, disability, challenges…

July 31st, 1492:    Jewish People Expelled from Spain under Alhambra Decree.

July 31st, 1941: “Nazi official Hermann Göring, orders SS General Reinhard Heydrich to “submit to me as soon as possible a general plan of the administrative material and financial measures necessary for carrying out the desired Final Solution of the Jewish question.”-Wikipedia

July 31st, 1919: Primo Levi was born.

 Wouldn’t it be nice for our children, if this “hard life” became a thing of the past for real?

 

 

 

 

 

 

July: “So Long It’s Been Good to Know Yuh.” –Woody Guthrie

I discovered the poem below just now; it has “July” in its title and it’s a lovely poem by our former U.S.A. Poet Laureate (2001-2003), Billy Collins.

Fishing on the Susquehanna in July

  by Billy Collins  

 I have never been fishing on the Susquehanna

or on any river for that matter

to be perfectly honest.

 Not in July or any month

have I had the pleasure–if it is a pleasure–

of fishing on the Susquehanna.

 I am more likely to be found

in a quiet room like this one–

a painting of a woman on the wall,

 a bowl of tangerines on the table–

trying to manufacture the sensation

of fishing on the Susquehanna.

 There is little doubt

that others have been fishing

on the Susquehanna,

 rowing upstream in a wooden boat,

sliding the oars under the water

then raising them to drip in the light.

 But the nearest I have ever come to

fishing on the Susquehanna

was one afternoon in a museum in Philadelphia

 when I balanced a little egg of time

in front of a painting

in which that river curled around a bend

 under a blue cloud-ruffled sky,

dense trees along the banks,

and a fellow with a red bandanna

 sitting in a small, green

flat-bottom boat

holding the thin whip of a pole.

 That is something I am unlikely

ever to do, I remember

saying to myself and the person next to me.

 Then I blinked and moved on

to other American scenes

of haystacks, water whitening over rocks,

 even one of a brown hare

who seemed so wired with alertness

I imagined him springing right out of the frame.

 I’ve never been on the Susquehanna River. It looks beautiful. My brother used to love the solitude of fishing and when my kids were young, he would take them fishing. I miss him. He died way too young about 20 years ago at age 45. His life wasn’t easy, but he always knew he had the love of his family and taught my kids to say in unison at a very young age in a sing-song voice, “What’s the most important thing? Family!” 

Been Away From the Blog…

I know I haven’t blogged in a few days. My son was here for 3 weeks after giving up his apt in NYC and getting ready to move to India. It was a whirlwind having him back here, a nice whirlwind and I was extremely busy, a nice busy. All is well, he and his girlfriend arrived safely and are extremely excited about their new job and new country. We’ve already talked a few times, Skyped, used Whatsapp texting and phone cards. Today I mailed him some wires for his computer and speakers that he forgot, price to mail wasn’t bad and should take about a week to arrive in India.  There are 2 lovely postal workers at a post office near my home who are always so helpful and sweet. They love my nearly 90 year old mom and really pay a lot of attention to us when we enter. My son mentioned a very poor family live in a hut about 25 feet from his home. He will give them food and other necessities. I know my son, he has a big heart. I will find out from him if they have any children and what little things I could mail to him to give them. As the saying goes, you change the world one person at a time. If we can make a difference in the life of that family, it will pay itself forward I’m sure. I will keep you posted on his life in India.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“You Hear Them Moanin’ Their Lives Away.”-Sam Cooke

“Music is the art which is most nigh to tears and memory.”Oscar Wilde

On July 26th, 1960, Sam Cooke released his composition, “Chain Gang.”  This is a very historical date for on “July 26, 1960, all Woolworth stores were desegregated. The Greensboro, NC, Woolworth’s is now the International Civil Rights Center and Museum, and a section of its lunch counter has pride of place in the Smithsonian Institution.”TacomaArts

“Inspired by Sam Cooke’s running into a chain gang of prisoners while on tour, the song pays homage to their hard work. Cooke was reportedly so moved by the plight of the prisoners that he and his brother gave them cartons of cigarettes. In exchange, the R&B crooner got his second-biggest hit, a song that hit Number Two on the pop charts. “Chain Gang” has lived on in tributes such as The Pretenders’ “Back on the Chain Gang,” with its prisoner chant that echoes Cooke’s original. The song also changed the life of one Rod Stewart. “I heard Sam Cooke singing this on the transistor radio,” he told Rolling Stone. “Up until then, my whole world was Eddie Cochran and Woody Guthrie.”RollingStone

“A Taste of Southern Law”-Phil Ochs

Emmett Till and his mom, Mamie Till 
  Trayvon Martin

“In the state of Mississippi, Many Years Ago, a boy of 14 years got a taste of Southern law.”-Phil Ochs

Emmett Till’s birthday today in 1941 must be acknowledged, especially after the tragic death of Trayvon Martin. As a young girl and woman from the 60s on, I knew about this case, had seen his mom, Mamie Till on TV and I constantly played Too Many Martyrs that Phil Ochs had written for Medgar Evers, also killed in Mississippi. I featured that song on this blog this past June.

“In 1955 Mamie Till sent her 14-year-old son, Emmett, from Chicago to rural Mississippi to spend his summer holiday with family. As she packed him off she gave him some advice about how a black youth should conduct himself in the pre-civil rights south. “If you have to get on your knees and bow when a white person goes past,” she told him. “Do it willingly.”Gary Younge, The Guardian

In 2013, parents raising Black males, continue to advise their precious sons on how to survive because racism is still rampant and Black males are still feared. It’s very sad. It’s tragic.

“While in the small town of Money, in the delta region, he either said “Bye, baby” or wolf-whistled at a white woman in a grocery store. Three days later his body was fished out of the Tallahatchie river with a bullet in his skull, an eye gouged out and his forehead crushed on one side. An all-white jury acquitted two men after just 67 minutes’ deliberation. “If we hadn’t stopped to drink pop,” said one juror, “it wouldn’t have taken that long.” The case became a metaphor for the depths of southern bigotry and a galvanising emblem for those who sought to rectify it. It was the subject of Toni Morrison’s first play, a poem by Langston Hughes and a song by Bob Dylan. Just three months later, when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat in Montgomery, Alabama, she said Emmett Till was on her mind.”Gary Younge, The Guardian

Yesterday, Trayvon Martin’s dad, Tracy Martin spoke before the Congressional Caucus on Black Men and Boys. “A lot of people say nothing positive can come out of death, but I disagree wholeheartedly, because what we can do tomorrow as a nation, as a people to stop someone else’s child from being killed is certainly a positive,” Martin said.”Reuters  Author, commentator, scholar, historian, Professor Michael Eric Dyson (Georgetown University) summed it up when he said, “All black people live under suspicion.”Reuters

 

 

 

“The total person sings not just the vocal chords.” ~Esther Broner

On this day in “oldies” history,  3 songs were airing on the radio by 3 groups composed only of men: The Beach Boys released California Girls in 1965 and both The Four Aces (1954) and The Manhattans (1976) had song hits that reached #1 on the charts. The Four Aces soared to #1in 1954 with Three Coins In the Fountain composed by Jule Stein and lyrics by Sammy Cahn, both very, very famous. The Manhattans soared to #1in 1976 with Kiss and Say Goodbye written by one of the members, Winfred Lovett. All 3 are great songs. For the movie, Three Coins in the Fountain, Frank Sinatra is heard on the soundtrack. I loved that movie as a little girl and twice in my life, I was able to stand by the Trevi Fountain in Rome, turn my back to it and toss coins over my shoulder into it. It definitely worked because I first went to Rome in 1974 and returned with my 13-year old daughter in 1996. “The water at the bottom of the fountain represents the sea. Legend has it you will return to Rome if you throw a coin into the water. You should toss it over your shoulder with your back to the fountain.”aviewoncities 

All His Bags are Packed…He’s Ready to Go!

The Great Separation

Today my son will separate from the world he has known to the land of India.

Today my son will leave his parents and sister and grams for 2 years.

Today my son will depart the world of readily available fresh drinking water, 24/7 electricity, long telephone conversations with his grams, a bi-weekly salary, traffic lights and cars that yield to pedestrians (for the most part), streets that are easier to navigate (for the most part), NYC.

Today my son will jet to a new life with his girlfriend.

A life with many new beginnings.

The Great Separation is synonymous to The Great Beginning.

My son will begin to steep himself in a new culture, a new language, a new way of eating, speaking, listening, teaching, traveling, living.

My son will arise under a hotter sun and monsoon days.

My son will create new possibilities.

My son will set forth his life, separate from his family and fortified with their love.

 ***************************************************************************************

***Here are 2 great songs about leaving:

 

 

 

Today In Art History

“In general it can be said that a nation’s art is greatest when it most reflects the character of its people.”-Edward Hopper

Hopper                                   Calder

Edward Hopper                                                           Alexander Calder

2 American artists I’ve always admired were born today: Edward Hopper in 1882 and Alexander Calder in 1898 and both hail from northeastern states; Hopper from Nyack, NY and Calder from Lawnton, Pa. Both artists had parents who were very supportive of their artistic talents. Lucky them! In fact, Calder’s parents were artists: his mom was a painter, his dad a sculptor and even as a child, young Alexander had his own studio! Hopper’s parents, while very supportive, tried directing him towards a commercial field of art to make money, but Edward’s passion was in the Fine Arts. If Hopper’s parents were around today, they’d probably say “Graphic Arts” or “Digital Arts” should be the area of endeavor. Calder had an engineering degree, which, I imagine, was a plus when constructing his huge mobiles. Both artists were fortunate to reap recognition while they were alive.

“American artist Alexander Calder redefined sculpture by introducing the element of movement, first though performances of his mechanical Calder’s Circus and later with motorized works, and, finally, with hanging works called “mobiles.” In addition to his abstract mobiles, Calder also created static sculptures, called “stabiles,” as well as paintings, jewelry, theater sets, and costumes.”theartstory.org

On Edward Hopper, Laura Cumming of The Observer wrote: “One was aware,’ wrote a friend, ‘of a slight displacement in his experience of his own person … as when we are strange to ourselves, and become objects of our own contemplation.’ That quality is crucial to the power of Hopper’s art, as to the minds of his men and women. They are absorbed, abstracted, almost hypnotically disengaged from the world around them: and Hopper’s gift goes outwards too. After a while you become one with them, rapt, still, solitary in your absorption as the people in these spellbinding pictures.”the guardian/the observer

 

 

 

 

Yusuf Salam (Cat Stevens): Singer/Songwriter

“My music still stands as something gentle and meaningful and significant.” Yusuf Salam (Cat Stevens) London Times 1999

Happy Birthday to Yusuf Islam, born today in 1948. I first saw Cat Stevens in about 1970 or 1971 at the Gaslight Café in Greenwich Village. The Gaslight closed some time in ’71. What a venue…you had to walk downstairs and it was small. I saw War there and many other artists.  From the start, I loved his music, his voice and his looks. At the time, I was dating someone who looked similar to Cat Stevens.

After converting to Islam, Cat Stevens changed his name to Yusuf Islam and left the music business for years. Then he returned and still sounded great. “Ultimately, the reason for Yusuf’s return to music and performing is simple, he explains. The language of song is simply the best way to communicate the powerful winds of change which brought me to where I am today, and the love for peace still passing through my heart. I feel gifted to have that ability still within me. I never wanted to get involved in politics because that essentially separates people; whereas music has the power to unify, and is so much easier for me than to give a lecture. At this he smiles knowingly. “You can argue with a philosopher, but you can’t argue with a good song. And I think I’ve got a few good songs.”Yusuf Islam Site

This is my all time favorite Yusuf Salam  song: Father and Son.

“STOP the World– I Want to Get Off!”-Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse

“Music Can Change the World because Music Can Change People.”Bono

When we hear and see so many of the injustices that take place everyday in our world, have we ever felt hopeless? Did we ever want to shout, “STOP the World—I Want to Get Off?” I wonder what the duo of actor/composer/singer, Anthony Newley and writer/composer/lyricist, Leslie Bricusse were thinking when they came up with that great title for their musical which opened today in London in 1961. The musical also ran on Broadway from 10/62 to 2/64. “This thought-provoking piece by one of Britain’s foremost writing teams of the 50s and 60s tells of the ephemeral nature of worldly success, where that success is achieved to the detriment of one’s personal happiness, and one of the efforts of the hero, Littlechap, to apply some braking effect on the world which, for him, is spinning out of control.”Guide to Musical Theatre

 I remember watching Anthony Newley on TV, he was great…not the greatest voice, but definitely a distinct voice with heart. (You may also remember he was once married to the actress, Joan Collins.)

4 truly beautiful songs went onto have lives of their own from that musical: “Gonna Build a Mountain,” “Once In a Lifetime,” “What Kind of Fool Am I?” and “Who Can I Turn To?”  We can all hear these tunes in our heads as we read the titles…beautiful melodies and lyrics…everlasting songs.