Friday Folk Musings


I haven’t seen the Coen Brothers film, “Inside Llewyn Davis,” but I will, when it comes on cable. I’ve read many reviews and many opinions of the film, but they do not matter to me since I am just so happy that the music from the film will, hopefully, gain momentum and bring folk music (or “Americana”) to a new high that it hasn’t had in over 40 years. I did see the Town Hall Concert on Showtime (Another Day, Another Time) that presented the artists in the movie and it was so beautiful.  The Coen Brothers are Baby Boomers like me, in fact, they are one year younger. It is inspiring and uplifting that they, along with T Bone Burnett, felt or knew that a story about Greenwich Village in the 60s warranted a movie. I don’t fault them for inaccurate facts, portrayals of folksingers, dates or locales, it’s a movie, it’s fiction. Elijah Wald’s book, The Mayor of MacDougal Street may have impacted them and propelled them to make a movie, but we all know the real Dave Van Ronk is not represented in this movie. Perhaps a movie about Dave Van Ronk and the other folkies who walked the streets of Greenwich Village and played in the clubs will be on the horizon due to “Inside Llewyn Davis,” I can only hope. Recently folksinger Happy Traum weighed in with his opinion after seeing the movie: “In the end, it was a Coen Brothers movie and there were enough flashes of humor, creativity and artful filmmaking that it won me over. It was the story of one guy and his misadventures, and it didn’t have to represent an entire musical community. Best of all, how wonderful that Elijah Wald’s excellent book, Dave Van Ronk’s music, and the phenomenal music scene that had its birth in ‘60s Greenwich Village were given such a huge platform, and generated such heated discussion.”

As for me…I’ve been singing “Dink’s Song” as I drive to mom’s each morning this week. It’s a song I first learned when I took a couple of singing lessons from folksinger Ed McCurdy, probably in the early 70s. Ed was living on the Upper West Side with his wife. He wrote the legendary song, “Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream” and was a character in his own right. Ed was a huge man physically and wasn’t in the best of health when I met him. I liked him, he was bold, brash and held nothing back. The folksingers of the 50s, 60s, early 70s still impact our lives whether we know it or not. The words, the messages of the songs are true to this very day in 2014. Music is understood all over the world and hasn’t lost its power to transform or heal.



What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?


“The future belongs to those who see possibilities before they become obvious.”-John Scully


E.L. Doctorow “thought of himself as a writer a long time before he actually got around to writing anything.”The Writer’s Almanac  In today’s world with Professional Life Coaches increasing in numbers every day, this attitude or thought process is the ideal; to have big dreams and work toward actualizing them. When I was really young, I dreamed of performing on stage…singing…acting and did some of that throughout school, but never pursued it professionally. The classroom became my stage and I instilled that love of the Arts in my students who knew early on that Shakespeare was right that “all the world’s a stage.” Happy Birthday to E.L. Doctorow, born today in 1931 in NYC. When he burst onto the literary scene with “Ragtime,” I gulped that up quickly. I’ve read his other books; some I liked (Book of Daniel) and other’s I didn’t (Homer & Langley.) 

“Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.”-Kahlil Gibran

Also born today, the Lebanon-born poet, Kahlil Gibran in 1883. When Gibran was 12, he and his mom and siblings settled in Boston. Gibran, too, had dreams…maybe not known to him at the time…maybe not visualized…but this child of extreme poverty and troubled circumstances, learned English quickly in Boston and displayed an artistic talent. Soon his teachers supported that talent and made contacts for the young Gibran which opened his world. After Shakespeare and Lao-Tzo, Gibran is the 3rd best-selling poet in history. When I was a teenager or first-year college student, it was common for people to carry slim editions of Gibran’s “The Prophet” in their back pockets.

We celebrate the birthdays of 2 writers who didn’t know at a young age their exact realm of possibilities As parents, teachers, supporters, we need to nurture our children and all children to dream despite or in spite of obstacles in their lives and to help visualize dreams and paths toward those dreams.













“What Does Not Change/Is the Will to Change”-Charles Olson (from his poem, The Kingfishers)


“Knowledge is the Harvest of Attention.”Charles Olson

During the 30s, 40s, 50s, there was a college set up in North Carolina called Black Mountain College, which truly stressed a liberal arts education with plenty of arts.  “Black Mountain College was born out of a desire to create a new type of college based on John Dewey’s principles of progressive education.” American poet, Charles Olson was born today in 1910 and taught at Black Mountain College in the 40s and 50s. “The founders of the College believed that the study and practice of art were indispensable aspects of a student’s general liberal arts education, and they hired Josef Albers to be the first art teacher. Speaking not a word of English, he and his wife Anni left the turmoil in Hitler’s Germany and crossed the Atlantic Ocean by boat to teach art at this small, rebellious college in the mountains of North Carolina.”

As a teenager and young woman, I was very taken with Black Mountain Press and the whole history of Black Mountain College and the Black Mountain collective of writers, dancers, artists and thinkers that held the teaching of the Arts to a very high standard and knew its importance for a well-rounded education and for transmitting humanity and culture. Black Mountain College was a collective that left the running of the school and the curriculum to the experts: the teachers. Some of the luminaries that taught at Black Mountain College include: choreographer Merce Cunningham, artists Jacob Lawrence and Wilem de Kooning, and so many more. The school closed in 1957.

THESE DAYS by Charles Olson

whatever you have to say, leave

the roots on, let them


And the dirt

Just to make clear

where they come from







“I Faced It All and I Stood Tall and Did It My Way.”-Paul Anka

  Edward Munch     Lillian Smith

Frank Sinatra

Three people who certainly did things their way were born today: the Norwegian painter, Edvard Munch (1863); Novelist and Segregation and Lynching critic, Lillian Smith (1857) and yes, Ol’ Blue Eyes, the Man himself, Frank Sinatra (1915).

Munch was quite ill as a youngster and endured the deaths of his mom, sister when he was really young and then later on, while a young man, his dad and his brother. One of his sisters suffered from a mental illness. At 45 Munch had a nervous breakdown and he also was an alcoholic. Much personal turmoil went into his famous painting, “The Scream.”   

“For as long as I can remember I have suffered from a deep feeling of anxiety which I have tried to express in my art. Without anxiety and illness I should have been like a ship without a rudder.” -Edvard Munch

Lillian Smith’s slim novel, “Strange Fruit” with its black hardcover stood on the book shelf in my home as a youngster and I read it as a teenager.  The book was published in 1944 years after Abe Meeropol’s song with the same title was released and became associated with Billie Holiday. Smith’s book, in spite of being banned in some cities, went onto become a bestseller and was translated into several languages. Lillian Smith came from a comfortable southern family; went to Peabody School of Music; taught in China; Ran a camp; founded a literary magazine in North Carolina that published writings by both black and white authors and continued throughout her life to speak out on racial injustice, segregation, lynching and never backed down.

“When you stop learning, stop listening, stop looking and asking questions, always new question, then it is time to die”-Lillian Smith

Ol’ Blue Eyes was a favorite of my dad’s and he had many of his LPs. My husband and I inherited some of those LPs and also enjoy listening to Frank Sinatra croon a tune…there is no better. Frank Sinatra was active in supporting Civil Rights…”In 1945, he appeared in, produced and won an Oscar for the 1945 short film “The House I Live In,” a plea for tolerance. Later, he put his own career at risk when he refused to play hotels in Las Vegas that would not allow blacks to stay there. He was, actress Angie Dickinson recalled, “a very powerful, subtle force in civil rights not only in Las Vegas.”  The repercussions never worried him. “When I believe in a person or an idea or a cause,” Sinatra once said, “I go all out in my efforts regardless of possible consequences.”Steve Pond,

December 12th, 2013…3 creative individuals born today and did it their way.










“Let Us Cultivate Our Garden.”-Voltaire (Candide)


“I look forward to an America which will reward achievement in the arts as we reward achievement in business or statecraft. I look forward to an America which will steadily raise the standards of artistic accomplishment and which will steadily enlarge cultural opportunities for all of our citizens.”-JFK

In 1974, I saw a revival of Voltaire’s Candide on Broadway. It was interesting to learn that it was the writer/playwright, Lillian Hellman who first adapted Voltaire’s Candide as a play in 1956. Voltaire was born today in 1694 and was a French Enlightenment writer who brought wit to his writings as he observed and criticized the world around him. “The French Enlightenment philosophers became known as the philosophes.  The philosophes used criticism and rejection of the old authority, along with a desire to explain man’s role in the universe, and in society to reshape the world in which they lived.  They attacked many topics like morality, politics, economics and religion to design their new world.  Along with natural law and human reason the philosophes emphasized toleration, especially religious toleration and progress.  There was a great confidence in modern man and his achievements in technology and understanding the natural world.”

As we commemorate 50 years since President JFK was assassinated, let us remember for a moment, that both JFK and Jackie Kennedy promoted the Arts during his short time in The White House. A series of “Concerts for Young People” at The White House was started by The Kennedys in 1961. French writer, Andre Malraux, who was The French Minister of Culture at the time, was hosted by The Kennedys, whose aim was to promote Washington D.C. as a national hub of The Arts. “President Kennedy affirmed that, “creativity is the hardest work there is” and playfully added that the White House “was becoming a sort of eating place for artists. But, they never ask us out.”

Less than a month before JFK was assassinated, he spoke at Amherst College in Massachusetts at a gathering honoring American Poet, Robert Frost, whom JFK greatly admired. As you well remember, Robert Frost created a poem for JFK’s inauguration in 1961. This was the very first time a poet, a creative individual, was part of the inauguration ceremony. At this Amherst College event to remember Robert Frost who had died at the beginning of 1963, Kennedy said, “If sometimes our great artists have been the most critical of our society, it is because their sensitivity and their concern for justice, which must motivate any true artist, makes him aware that our Nation falls short of its highest potential. I see little of more importance to the future of our country and our civilization than full recognition of the place of the artist.

If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him. We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth. And as Mr. MacLeish once remarked of poets, there is nothing worse for our trade than to be in style. In free society art is not a weapon and it does not belong to the spheres of polemic and ideology. Artists are not engineers of the soul. It may be different elsewhere. But democratic society–in it, the highest duty of the writer, the composer, the artist is to remain true to himself and to let the chips fall where they may. In serving his vision of the truth, the artist best serves his nation. And the nation which disdains the mission of art invites the fate of Robert Frost’s hired man, the fate of having “nothing to look backward to with pride, and nothing to look forward to with hope.”

As a retired teacher and teacher-researcher, I witnessed how important the Arts were to my students as they tried making sense of this world. The Arts gave a voice to my students from other shores and comforted all of my students as they groped with difficult situations in their lives. It was so important to me that they have The Arts in their lives and I always wrote my own plays that taught them (and their audience) tolerance, social justice, history and used folk songs, union songs and songs to which I set new lyrics that addressed the theme of the various plays. All students participated. It didn’t matter if they didn’t know one word in English. The Arts brought us together. My students were my “garden” and my inspiration to always do better.

Thumbs Up Wednesday

“Kindness in words creates confidence.”-Lao Tzu

First of all, I want to simultaneouslyThank ALL those who have previously nominated me for various awards and Apologize for not following through. It was very nice of you and I am so happy that you have been enjoying my blog which I started this past January. It’s going to be a year soon and I decided not to be lazy, but to finally respond to another blogger who just nominated me forThe Liebster Award, Anne Lawson.

Anne gave me a list of 10 questions and you can glean what they are by my responses:

1.Blogging has given me a creative outlet and also invites me to do research on a superficial level, but just enough to use my brain power and keep fit mentally. I’m a retired teacher and teaching is in my blood.

2.My blogging has evolved into just doing daily postings as opposed to updating the pages that I created. In fact, it will be a year soon since I blogged and I will probably do away with the pages and maybe change the format….not sure yet.

3.My fave time of day is early morning. I’ve always risen very early. I love the solitude and my morning routine.

4.Fave season is spring, not too warm not too hot. I totally detest winter; it makes life so hard!

5.Bob Dylan, for sure, had a huge impact on my life. It’s hackneyed, I know, but to me he is the Poet of My Generation.

6.Dylan took what was going on in the world and voiced it through his music and gave us a voice that we used at rallies, marches, at school, in our homes.

7.A handmade possession that I have is a photo from 1978 of my husband and I where my son added the phrase, “Love Endures All Things” and framed it beautifully. Also my son gave me a beautiful handmade card with a photo of the 2 of us for Mother’s Day. Oh Wait…One More Thing…about a year ago, my son was teaching a class on Speed Reading and he ended the course with telling his adult students about his parent’s upcoming 31st Wedding Anniversary…what he said brought tears to our eyes…and the class waved to us and wished us a Happy Anniversary and my son uploaded it onto YOUTUBE!!!!

8.Never would I want to eat tripe again in my lifetime. Had it once and got a stomach ache.

9.If I could be any bird,I would be a Canadian Goose. I see them everyday in my park where I walk. They’re hearty and very family-oriented.

10.Portugal was one of the most interesting places that I have ever been. I was there in 1974 when the government changed and people were marching in the street. The people were so nice and the country so beautiful.

Here are the 10 Blogs I would nominate for The Liebster Award and why:

Jeff Moore’s My Everyday PowerJeff is a young man (a teacher and motivational coach) who truly wants to help people of all generations envision and fulfill their dreams and goals in life. Very inspirational and motivating blog!

Jeff Nguyen (love the name Jeff!) at Deconstructing MythsJeff is a also another young man (and yes, a teacher!) who has some very strong feelings and concerns about the trajectory our country and other countries and peoples are taking or not taking. He is also an excellent writer.  Very thought provoking! 

StephiaMadelyne and ArtOfTheFamiliar.comOh, I see she’s has already been awarded The Liebster Award…well, maybe there are other bloggers viewing this that have not heard of her yet. Stephia Madelyne is a wonderful photographer who stirs emotions with her subjects and she also has excellent quotes.

Mark’s I’m Gonna Study the RainMark is from Scotland. He writes in various genres, is into music and photography, has a great sense of humor and from our correspondence, seems like a nice guy.

M Holloway of If I Only Had a Time MachineI so enjoy Holloway’s historical, literary, etc.  tidbits for each day of the month!

Ivon Prefontaine of Teacher as TransformerThis blog is so calming, soothing, serene. Ivon is also a teacher and once a teacher always a teacher. He also reblogs very interesting posts.

LL Frederick at Take Heart at  First of all I always receive such warm and insightful responses from this blogger. Her blog is so full of interesting facts in literature, music…she has quotes and recipes…just an enjoyable learning experience each time I visit!

Lynell George of Native to the Place  Lynell is a columnist and writes about a potpourri of subjects and has great, great photos on her blog.  She writes in-depth postings and also enjoys music, politics, poetry and so much more!

Music of Our HeartPreaching to the choir here…I love all the music this blog reports on. It’s also heartwarming that his son is very interested in the same music, too and share’s his dad’s passion.

Paul Mark Sutherland of GYA (Give Yourself Away)This is such an inspirational and motivational blog. Love the quotes, illustrated quotes, and just the fact that he is urging us to give ourselves away and do good!

Questions from IleneOnWords to the 10 Nominees for The Liebster Awards:

1.What was the last enjoyable book that you read and why?

2.What is one of your all time fave poems?

3.Which one song has inspired you and why?

4.How do you start your morning routine?

5.How has your family impacted who you are today?

6.What was the last enjoyable movie that you saw and why?

7.If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would you choose and why?

8.How has blogging changed your life or inspired you?

9.Who are 2-5 inspirational people or role models in your life?

10.What role does good food play in your life?




“Appreciate the Moment”-Isamu Noguchi

“We Are A Landscape of All We Have Seen.”-Noguchi

World famous sculptor, Isamu Noguchi was born today in 1904 in Los Angeles, but lived in Japan up until the age of 13. He was on the road to becoming a doctor at Columbia University when he started taking some sculpture classes in the evening and that was it. Goodbye Columbia University. Goodbye to being a doctor. Noguchi did “appreciate the moment” by creating works and movements that brought people together and highlighted the freedoms and justices all Americans should have regardless of their ethnicity. “The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the backlash against Japanese-Americans in the United States had a dramatic personal effect on Noguchi, motivating him to become a political activist.  In 1942 he started

Nisei Writers and Artists Mobilization for Democracy, a group dedicated to raising awareness of the patriotism of Japanese-Americans.  He also asked to be placed in an internment camp in Arizona, where he lived for a brief seven months.  Following the War, Noguchi spent a great deal of time in Japan exploring the wrenching issues raised during the previous years.  His ideas and feelings are reflected in his work of the time, particularly the delicate slab sculptures included in the 1946 exhibition “Fourteen Americans,” at The Museum of Modern Art, New York.”the noguchi museum site

Noguchi was an extremely creative individual who also did stage sets, outdoor playgrounds and parks and  “in 1937 he designed a Bakelite intercom for the Zenith Radio Corporation, and in 1947, his glass-topped table was produced by Herman Miller.  This design—along with others such as his designs for Akari Light Sculptures which was developed in 1951 using traditional Japanese materials—are still being produced today.”noguchimuseum

Long Island City, NY, is home to Noguchi’s museum which he opened in 1985 complete with a garden and galleries filled with his work. Years ago I saw an excellent documentary on American Masters on PBS and since then I’ve been a fan of Isamu Noguchi.

Viewing Noguchi’s work gives one Good Vibrations, which hit #1 for The Beach Boys in the United Kingdom in 1966. I have read that his Serenity Park in Long Island City “is contemplative, quiet, filled with grasses, shrubs, bamboo, and trees—feeling ever so much like a Japanese temple garden, right down to some of the carefully manicured pines.”Rick Rubens

Sounds like a good place to “appreciate the moment.”