Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bend it like Holden

I am currently wearing my klutziness like a badge of honor in the form of an air cast on my ankle and a pair of crutches.  I was on my way back to work after a lesson.  Somehow, I thought that by walking closer to the crosswalk signal, I was willing it to change from that picture of the hand to the walking person, thus making me on time for my return to work.  It was at this moment stepping forward with my eyes on that signal, that I misjudged the steepness of the curb, twisted my ankle, and fell.  Did it hurt?  Yes, but only for a moment.  Once I started to pass out, it didn’t really bother me.
Let me help restore your faith in humanity Dear Reader, and say that as many as two people on the street approached me and offered me help.  I was pleased to find that the Kitty Genovese phenomenon does not always hold water and that I was not dismissed as a raving, homeless lunatic with her head between her legs in the middle of Copley Square.  With the help of some benevolent strangers I made it back to my office where I was well attended to.  Nothing scares an HR department more than a call from the front desk that someone is “, kind of fainting”.
When it proved to be just a sprain after x-rays, we decided not to change our plans to visit the Cape this weekend, and I will tell you why.  For one thing, why should the boyfriend miss out on his family summer fun plans?  Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, we don’t have a couch yet in our new place.  If we had stayed home, I would have been stuck keeping my leg elevated in bed all day.  So off to the Cape with its many couches we went and Brendan’s mother admitted to really enjoying watching him wait on me every evening.  I, for one was very grateful to his family.  If I can’t go to the beach, sitting in a cozy armchair and watching TCM is a close second.  We also had lunch in Provincetown one day, where one of the beautiful drag queens, (seriously, they all have better legs than I do), offered me a wheelchair and a front row seat at the show that night.  While public humiliation has a unique appeal, I decided to take a pedicab back to the parking lot instead...
There are a few ironies regarding this particular fall.  One is that I have lived at the very top of the very steep, and often very icy Mission Hill for years without major incident, and no sooner do I move than I am downtown and have a fall.  The ultimate irony of this injury though, is that I was already signed up to sing “I Could Have Danced All Night” at an evening of Broadway melodies.  The humor of my performance with a crutch was not lost on last night’s audience.  I also sang the duet from Porgy and Bess.  If you are familiar with the piece at all, you know that Porgy is supposed to be the cripple, not Bess.  (Perhaps more importantly, it's not supposed to be sung by white people, but let's not quibble).  
Well, if all goes well and my foot stops looking like Bilbo Baggins’, I will be off my remaining crutch in a day or two.  If not, at least we are getting a couch delivered tonight.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Seventy is the New Fifty

Three men I love turned 70 this year- Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, and my dad.  We had a big party for him at my parents’ house in Connecticut.  (Bob and Paul regretfully declined).  Amidst the calls from my mother regarding the guest count, (the week before we were up to 60 people; the week of, it was 86), I had been telling people my dad’s big birthday number and many could hardly believe it.  For one thing, I am only 28 years old and so that number seems high, but for another, he doesn’t look 70.  (He certainly is in a lot better shape than Dylan, not that that’s hard to accomplish).

My dad is not the rabid fan of the aforementioned musicians that I am, but I would not have the eclectic musical taste I believe I have if it weren’t for both my dad’s genes and the influence of his musical appreciation in our house.  Twice annual car rides down to North Carolina provided ample opportunity for him to impart his musical eclecticism as well, and in this case, (unlike several others), his lessons were actually heeded.  The passenger seat is still my unofficial spot in the car because, as my late grandmother pointed out on one roadtrip; “Nope, I’m going to sit in the backseat, because Katie will just be reaching up the whole time to talk about the music”  

          So let’s talk about the music. As a 70th birthday tribute, below are a few of my dad’s more obscure favorites: The first clip, performed by Joan Baez, (also 70 this year), is a classic example of Mexican honor.  Translated, the title is “Prisoner Number Nine”.  It is the tale of a man who goes to confession before being executed for the murder of his unfaithful wife and his best friend: “Father, I do not repent, and I don’t fear death… I will hunt them both down in the afterlife”.  We love the song both for its beautiful melody and its unusual poetic sentiment.  As an adult, I am grateful that there was very little prudish musical censorship in my household, (See also: the time my dad asked me as a child if I knew the meaning of “The House of the Rising Sun”).  

          The second clip here is the same song in an earlier rendition.  This is purely to satisfy my dad’s complaint that mariachi singers in restaurants never know the complete song:

          The third clip is a rendition by Jimmy Rushing and the Count Basie orchestra- “Sent for you yesterday”.  This tune is in fact so obscure that I almost couldn’t find it on youtube.  My dad also asked me what I thought the lyrics of this song meant as a child and I allegedly didn’t know the answer to that either.  I do know that when I returned for the summer after a semester in Italy, my dad played this song on his old record player as an early morning wake up call.  He said “How do you like that Kate?  You know you’re home when you hear the songs you only hear at home”.

There might be something to be said as well for my dad’s generation and the influences that helped shape his musical sophistication.  This article in the Times, (first sent to me in the mail by my mother), elucidates the possible cause of the many musical talents that share the age of 70 this year. 

Well, what we can say is that 1941: it was a very good year.