Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
But you'd never know it. This woman moves with the grace of a dancer, kicking up her legs, belting out song after song, her voice a buttery blend of perfectly delivered purrs, taunts and teases, shading her delivery with a maturity and level of musicianship you'll rarely hear anywhere. Ella Fitzgerald once dubbed her "the great white female singer in the world,"and it's got to be true.
Indeed, she can belt out a song with the best of them and she does it all with the physical stamina and vocal mastery of someone decades younger. You simply can't believe this woman.
For example, her virtuoso rendition of "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe," chugged down the tracks, leaving steam behind and bringing the audience to its feet. And I can't even begin to describe her extraordinary peformance of "One for My Baby (and One More for the Road), haunting and brave in holding back the darkness.
With seemingly inexhaustible stamina, supported by her fantastic trio, she "swings hard" as the New York Times noted in a review of her act at Feinstein's earlier this year.
Outfitted in a sequined jacket, black pants with silver beads down the sides, and glittery silver shoes, she was a picture of grace and glamour as she offered a program including a tribute to the songs of Johnny Mercer, Steve Allen, Cole Porter, and more. For all this, I must thank my friend Mario Buatta, a great Marilyn Maye fan and friend, for inviting me as his guest to this afternoon delight.
For those who don't know, Marilyn was born in Wichita, Kansas and began her career as a child competing in amateur contest in Topeka, where her father owned a drugstore. By 15, she had her own own radio show; and it wasn't long before she came to the attention of Steve Allen, who invited her to appear on his show. Her RCA record contract soon followed, the younger singer delivering seven albums and 34 singles. She appeared on the Tonight Show a record 76 times. Nowadays, she receives award and award, "and I hope all these lifetime achievement awards aren't trying to tell me something," she jokes yesterday, "because I'm not done, not even close."
You said it.
Sunday, May 2, 2010
There wasn't much energy left in me, not really. And as I got out of the taxi and entered the cherry blossomed-perfection of our waterside community, I felt relieved, as I often do, just by being back in my own neighborhood.
Unlike most of Manhattan, there was no traffic noise, nothing except the rippling sound of the water and people chatting while walking around at a much more relaxed pace than most of city life in this crazily busy metropolis.
What happened next was an example of a truly great neighborhood phenomena. Ben and I hung out on the street for at least a half hour, talking about anything and everything--including the antics of his two dogs, diet and exercise, my upcoming high school reunion, the process of aging, the secrets of centenarians, the benefits of getting two dogs instead of one, my new dog coming next week, how to handle stress with competitive colleagues and unruly friends, dating---you name it.
In short, as we often do when we accidentally meet in the morning--me on my bike and Ben walking his dogs--we chatted and laughed about life in general. I can't tell you how refreshing it was to have this spontaneous conversation--THAT HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH WORK--or ambition.
It was just a normal, fun, casual talk and I left Ben feeling energized rather than drained. There was no tension. It was a "clean" transaction, devoid of any negative emotions--enervating feelings that are so destructive. Ben is a fantastic guy with a happy optimistic personality, a calm temperament, someone you WANT to be with, someone who is not in emotional pain.
In short, he is the perfect neighbor. He's also a contempoary, around my age, so we understand the process of how we feel and why. Because we're both settled in certain aspects of our life--it's actually healing to be with him.
Once, months earlier, when I told him that I was stressed--and that my back hurt--he was kind enough to give me a great book about YOGA. This was typical of his kind nature--being giving, open, friendly, not intrusive, and generous-hearted.
Thanks Ben for a great gift, and the perfect end to the night.