Right Place, Right Time

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Abrams; 379Pages; Now available

This memoir is truly inspiring. A kid from Long Island develops (pun intended) a keen interest in photography at the age of 5. His mother has her own darkroom.

After leaving college over and over decides to pursue his real passion—creating images with his camera.

I think he made the right decision. You learn when reading this story how much of life is just being in the right place at the right time.

Over the past 60 years he has chronicled rock’s most significant artists. Beginning at the 1965 Newport folk festival when Bob Dylan plugged in with an electric guitar for the first time to the birth of disco, punk, and new wave, his best stories are collected here.

You will truly feel as if you are with him during all the late nights, problems with deadlines, and hangovers.

Bob Gruen became close friends with John Lennon and Yoko Ono; Ike and Tina Turner.

He spent a lot of time showing the world the day to day lives of these extraordinary people. He de-glamorizes the biz. You see the tough times these folks lived through to get their art in the hands of listeners across the globe.

At the drop of a hat Bob Gruen flew to London, Germany, France, Japan or wherever needed to lend support.

In the moment he captured many moments that still resonate today.

Led Zep in front of the Enterprise Starship aircraft; John Lennon in his New York city tee-shirt; The Clash on the observation deck at 30 Rock; Ike and Tina Turner doing just about anything.

Alice Cooper and Salvador Dali. Dali created the first ever hologram of Alice.

This book is the perfect gift for the music fan in your life. He photographed Queen before they were famous. KISS in 1978 on the 14th St subway platform which had phone booths!

A magical journey peopled by lots of fascinating figures including:

Elton John, Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Tina Turner, Debbie Harry, The Ramones, Alice Cooper, The Clash, Sex Pistols, The Who, Runaways, and on and on.

Bob Gruen reminds his reader of the authenticity of New York city’s great power to help re-invent those who seek a new life.

Filled with black and white photos and full color of many moments that shaped his long-term success you get a deeply affecting impression of what it truly takes to become a fine artist.

One of my favorite early moments was when he took photos of models. A young college student came to the studio. Years later he found out that would be model became movie actress Karen Allen who appeared in “Animal House” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark”.

Today, Bob Gruen photography is a thriving business. The countless hours of painstaking work along with the warp speed social life required to achieve it are worthwhile.

I strongly recommend you get a copy of this account.

ELW Photography #10

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This week features a day trip to Long Island. The itinerary was an indoor flea market, an outlet mall, and the town of Port Jefferson.

Day tripping

The outlets had great bargains including a windbreaker for Fall and a bundle of books at a discount.

Port Jefferson offered Red Shirt Comics and seafood at PJ’s Lobster House where we dined indoors for only the second time since March!

As of this writing indoor dining will return to Manhattan on September 30th.

Women’s Rights

2020 is the Centennial of the Vote for Women in America. New York dedicated its first statue of real women’s rights pioneers on Literary Walk.

Also marking the 200th Anniversary of Susan B. Anthony’s birth, this new monument is long overdue.

Central Park Wonders

I took a nature walk through the ramble recently. This is an area of the park with interconnected paths that twist through scenic woods. Bird watching here is fantastic.

A young Jazz Saxophonist played. A group of guys enjoyed a game of beach volleyball. And the police keep guard over a statue of Christopher Columbus.

The Conservancy takes great care of Central Park. Maintaining the lawns, trees, benches, and the rest every day.

This Summer has been hot and sunny most of the time. My husband and I are staying put in New York for now. These days I love my city. Have you looked at the weather across the country lately?

Park Summer

The Conservatory Garden

Located at E. 105th Street & 5th Avenue across from The Museum of the City of New York, this garden is a treasure with flowers, romantic paths and fountains placed well. A quiet zone perfect for escape from the chaos outside.

9–11–2020

19 years after the attacks on U.S. soil of 3 American planes used as missiles destroying the Twin Towers, damaging The Pentagon, and crashing in Pennsylvania killing over 3,000 people, Corona Virus has killed over 200,000 Americans.

We will all pause to remember 9/11. But never forget that then & now we had a President not duly elected by the people.

Dear Readers, until next week…

ELW Photography #7

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I have a keen awareness of what surrounds me. Walking around I take notice of details that feel as though they were left for people like myself to discover. The camera is an indespensible aid in recording these findings.

August is moving fast. Political conventions will be virtual for the first time. Perhaps substance will make a comeback to the proceedings.

Summer has become tedium. I feel differently about seasons now. As I grow older I enjoy Autumn more and more.

Still I have many more images of Summer 2020 to share….

During this crisis much has recently been discussed about the future of transportation in New York City. Revel Mopeds appeared one weekend.

My first reaction was surprise. How safe could this mode of transport be in a big city.

Then a few weeks later many young people were on them. Many without the helmets that come with the mopeds in their small trunks.

The portable scooters only do 30 M.P.H. and cannot be taken on highways, bridges or tunnels.

I could safely predict that sooner or later they would go away over safety problems. Indeed a couple of recent deaths led to Revel removing them from New York City altogether.

The CitiBike share program has been the preferred mode of new transport. Many of its riders do wear helmets. People use them a lot for recreational purpose in the park.

Summer Heat

The Obelisk Cleopatra’s Needle in New York City is one of three similarly named Egyptian obelisks. It was erected in Central Park, west of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan, on January 22, 1881.

Rising from Bethesda Terrace is Bethesda Fountain, with the famous Angel of the Waters statue atop. The statue references the Gospel of John, which describes an angel blessing the Pool of Bethesda and giving it healing powers. The fountain commemorates the Croton water system, which first brought fresh water to New York City in 1842. 

Vistas and Views

The immaculate lawn of the Conservatory Garden above right corner; The Eastside of Manhattan seen across the reservoir on the upper left corner; A postcard image of the El Dorado towers in the upper middle section; Below on the left and right are The Delacorte Theater seen from above on the patio of the Belvedere Castle.

The Castle

Sitting above the Delacorte Theater this landmark provides the daily official temperature in New York City. Offices stationed here for the Weather bureau following a restoration in 2019. The site is open again.

In The City

I spend more time outside the park since August began due to hot/humid conditions plus heavy thunderstorms. The local streets are still pretty quiet. No tourists. We have more difficulties to face since services will get cut and the MTA (Subways/Buses) is talking about a fare increase.

In the gallery below are a cross section of images I took over the past 4 months. Food vendors attempt to make money; Some restaurants closed for good before Covid; Movie theaters are shuttered; 5th Avenue has lost its former grandeur; The Plaza Hotel sits sentry.

City buses are getting crowded. I have not returned to public transit. My last subway ride was in early March.

Above at the far right corner is a local school. The faces of graduates adorn many schools now. Not so long ago this type of remembrance was for victims of school shootings. Covid changed the culture.

Empty chairs at empty tables will probably be the verdict for schools in the Fall. Many local restaurants have outdoor dining now. Indoors is not allowed in the city.

Mask wearing is inconsistent in the city that was once the epicenter for the crisis. I know I cannot control the actions of others but it seems crazy not to protect yourself in the face of this virus.

Even crazier are people who are still in denial over its existence. If we ignore safety protocols this crisis will deepen.

Every New Yorker surely remembers not too long ago when horse drawn carriages were the center of a debate. Our Mayor wanted to end this practice. Now with Covid the carriages are gone.

Museums are re-opening on August 24th, my husband’s Birthday!

Thank you Dear Readers! Stay healthy and see you next week!

Western Stars/Bruce Springsteen

Western Stars is the 19th solo album by Bruce Springsteen.
Produced by Ron Aniello on Columbia Records.
13 Songs; 50 minutes

A wayfarin’ hitch-hiker takes a journey back out to big sky country to reflect on a life gone past. Along the way we learn he was a B-movie Stuntman whose proudest moment was a scene with screen icon John Wayne.

Painting a deceptively simple picture of creeping isolation, lost love, and futile attempts to outrun a road that has to end, Mr. Springsteen has composed a romantic yet melancholy tribute to the American ideals of the West.

Remembering good times at a local cafe where the work is left behind; ‘Monday is a million miles away’. Forgetting the mounting sadness of lost opportunity because the western stars are out tonight.

The thematic thread woven through are light and dark; sunrise and sundown; the sun and the moon.

Evoking this vision are understated orchestrations that support the vocals in even tempo. At times the sweeping beauty of the notes will fill you with longing.

This is because our western star is waiting for his lost love to return. He knows this is a fool’s errand. “Tuscon Train”, “Stones”, and “There Goes My Miracle” are songs of tortured romance literally gone south.

The album’s centerpiece track, “Drive Fast” (The Stuntman), shows a physically broken man whose wounds are his only companion. The steel rod in his leg walks him home each night.

The last song on the album is “Moonlight Motel”. A memory of lost lovers enjoying an afternoon delight in a derelict place. The physical structures have gone to seed while their love blossoms. A place once made for nighttime pleasures becomes the sight of a self-made Eden.

Quite a beautiful album that is able to relate this tale of loss and loneliness without making its listener feel too sad. The melodies are uplifting; the vocals are empathetic.

In the daylight chasing wild horses, running for countless miles is enough to outrun the impending gloom. There is a deep abiding respect for this rugged place by the man at the center of it all—The Boss.

In lieu of a tour for this record, Bruce Springsteen makes his directorial debut on October 25, 2019 with “Western Stars”.

The film is a performance of the album with orchestra before an audience. An album, “Western Stars” Film Version will be released. It’s the same track list as the studio LP except for the addition of “Rhinestone Cowboy” by Glen Campbell.

“Sundown” is the first single released from the film version album. The new versions seem to have even more developed orchestration.

Western Stars opens in theaters on October 25, 2019. The concert film premiered last month at the Toronto Film Festival.

E Street Stardom/Solo Magic

For decades now Bruce Springsteen has piece by piece constructed a music career that continues to inspire longtime listeners and attract newcomers.

He has enjoyed commercial success but did not count only on selling his music but by creating a persona that was larger than his self but true to who he is offstage.

After listening to “Western Stars” over and over digitally I found my own take. His E Street albums are the rockstar track built with hits like “The River”, “Born To Run”, and “Born In The USA”.

The solo albums have been allowed by an audience that deeply appreciates his hard work in not just entertaining them but making them think too. This is the internal track of non rock Lp’s that delve into Americana, Folk, and Protest music.

His catalog is like a puzzle with thousands of pieces. For years I was distracted enough not to see what he was doing. Building his following slowly in bars/clubs on the Jersey Shore then reaching a zenith with sold out stadiums. He never relies on just hit singles. He becomes by word of mouth a legendary presence. His audience bestows the nickname, The Boss, to signify to them what he represents in the music world.

The solo work allows Bruce to work on music that he knows will not sell stadiums nor spend weeks at the top of the chart. It’s material he hopes will alternately take listeners down musical byways that cannot fit into the mainstream rock frame of the E Street Band.

I feel there are few solo artists doing such consistently fine work as Mr. Springsteen. Bob Dylan comes to mind. The Boss seeks long term attachment with his audience. He gets it because of the trust built upon decades of great work both rocking and reflective.

I hope the puzzle is not near completion.

Bruce Springsteen is performing at The Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden on November 5th. A benefit for Stand-Up For Heroes.

Rock Stars At Home/ Book Review

Elton John with his wardrobe; a fan made doll in his likeness is perched on his shoulder.

In this new hardcover from Apollo publishing, the domestic lives of rock stars are exhibited. This is a nicely laid out coffee table affair with fine photographic images of many of the world’s most famous music stars from the past 50 years. A total of 176 pages. Lists for $24.95.

For the fan and non-fan alike. The histories of various properties like Cotchford Farm, former home of Winnie-the-Pooh author A.A. Milne which became the estate of then Rolling Stone founder Brian Jones. The material within is quite a page turner. You get to find out what became of their homes after they died or whether they just left to live elsewhere.

There are essays by:

  • Chris Charlesworth (Melody Maker; Omnibus Press).
  • Eddi Fiegel (The Telegraph; The Guardian).
  • Colin Salter (The Definitive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock).
  • Daryl Easlea (Music Journalist and author of Books about Michael Jackson and Peter Gabriel).
  • Bryan Reesman (Entertainment Journalist).
  • Simon Spence (BBC, NME) music journalist and author.

A survey of stars including Frank Sinatra, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Ike & Tina Turner, Jimi Hendrix, Rod Stewart, David Bowie, Prince, Elton John, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Keith Moon, The Allman Brothers, Noel Gallagher, Debbie Harry, Barry Gibb, Michael Jackson, The Jacksons, Freddie Mercury, Motley Crue, Ozzy Osbourne, and many others.

The material presented here is well organized. Essays precede each group of artists. Titled in order of appearance: Through The Keyhole, Psychedelic Suburbia, The Laurel Canyon Scene, Haunted Houses & Magic Mansions, All Aboard The Starship, Punk Digs & Dives, Out Of View, Islands & Exiles, Riot On Sunset, Last Known Abode, Musical Playgrounds, Mysterious & Spooky, and Colorfully Enhanced Cribs.

You begin to glean solid knowledge of the reasons why these people bought these homes and decorated them. The number one reason why some of these stars sought remote places was privacy. To escape the adoring public; to escape the press. Some of them would stay in the same home until their deaths like Jimi Hendrix did with his London flat. George Harrison’s widow Olivia still lives in their palatial estate. The birdseye view of this home is worth the price of this book alone.

Speaking of public museums you realize that some stars have a lot in common even if their musical expressions were different. Elvis, Prince, and Jimi Hendrix all had homes that would open to the public as historic places of interest after their untimely deaths.

The Eagles, The Doors, The Mamas & The Papas, Joni Mitchell, Frank Zappa, and Carole King were neighbors in Laurel Canyon, Ca. This is an amazing time capsule of a very unique period of time where so many creative people could afford the homes that existed here. This is an example of a time when famous people had an open door too. They did not have walls.

Frank Sinatra and Keith Richards both eventually built walls in their very different places of residence to keep out intruders. Bob Dylan would move after fans discovered his then unknown residence in the town of Woodstock, N.Y. Mr. Dylan then sought seclusion. Chuck Berry like Sinatra (Twin Palms) named his estate. Berryland was open to the public until a massive fire destroyed it. This survey relates a lot of interesting stories like this throughout its pages.

Did you know that in the 1950s’ throught the 1970’s a lot of artists opened their homes to public viewing and parties. And that John Lennon’s murder in 1980 led many of these artists to close their homes as a result?

I can highly recommend this book as the type of treasure you can pick up for an insightful and fun tour of homes and people you may not have had access to otherwise unless you go to Graceland or Paisley Park. There is such a wealth of tidbits throughout that you will never get bored.

The misfits who began careers in music never expected to become wealthy. The galaxy of stars in this book represent a small sample of those who did well.

You realize in the end home is where you feel safe and comfortable. This book will make you feel this way and so much more!

Evan’s Gate/For The Misfits

A picture of yours truly at the TimeWarner Center in New York. 
An exhibit of Maurice Sendak’s art for auction at Southeby’s.

Introducing my blog.

Following 13 entries I decided to create this formal welcome.  For everyone who has ever felt like a misfit.  Perhaps you are living in a part of the country that puts you in the political minority;  you dress differently than what is proscribed; you love music that hardly ever touches the mainstream;  you read a lot;  history is not your story.

I was born in Manhattan in the 1960’s.  My parents are college educated lifelong New Yorkers.  They are still married.  All four of their children including myself were never left wanting.  We are all adults now.  We were middle class.  Our parents were never out of work.  We never went hungry.  Each kid was made to feel loved every day.  I have 2 older brothers and one younger sister.  Raised in The Bronx.  The neighborhood was quite suburban as it was the northernmost part of the city bordered by one of the largest parks. 

We had our struggles.  Politics, music, books, art, and history were all a part of life.  This was not an elite way of life.  A big city has many more resources at its disposal to educate people.  Of course when you are a kid you cannot fully appreciate what it all means.  Then you grow up.  Every day you have more joy than sorrow because you have critical thinking skills that will see you through.

Today we have technology.  If you can write and think critically about a variety of topics and ideas you can blog.

My education was not easy.  Kindergarten through grade 12 in public schools that became increasingly too crowded did not help.  Early exposure to college was great.  I moved away from home for the first time. I was eighteen when I entered college.  My graduation did not happen until decades later.  The politics of the times was not to my liking so I dropped out.  When I did graduate college I was an adult.  My degree was in media studies.  This is my credential for writing about topics ranging from our current media age problems to our political turmoil.  My undying passion for heavy music stems from my dislike of the system.

I am a misfit.  Being gay does not put you into the mainstream.  Things are way better today.  But multitudes of people sacrificed a lot to make it happen.  People who do not fit neatly into the schemes of others are championed here.

Heavy metal music, LGBTQ life, mutlicultural politics, banned books, art, and critiques of our all too powerful media companies are all a  part of this blog.  I love discussing these things.  This is my outlet for protest and greater understanding.  

I hope you will enjoy reading and responding here!  We may be misfits to the outside but here we all fit together.

PhantomFashion 30/Art Review

This year Phantom of the Opera turned 30!  To celebrate theater’s longest-running musical the Museum of the City of New York has a 30 day exhibit of 30 phantom masks that were custom designed. There is a silent auction for each piece.  It runs from October 30th until November 30th.

Visit BroadwayCares.org/Phantom to bid. And now here are some of my favorites in this unique show:

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As you can see they are each one of a kind creations.  Above we see a L.A. inspired mask with palms, sunset, and phantom style graffiti.  Below is Zang Toi’s wonderful white feathered accents perfect for masquerade.

This charitable endeavor was made possible by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), Bank of America and The Phantom of the Opera.

Visit broadwaycares.org, http://www.mcny.org, Facebook.com/MuseumofCityNY for more information about this exhibit.

Harry Potter: A History Of Magic/Art Review

 

HPNYHS

In conjunction with the British library this new exhibition celebrates the 20th anniversary of the publication of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”.  Connecting the lavish fantasy world of Harry with the very real world of magic is the mission here.  I declare the curators have succeeded.  With the show split up into all of the different subjects in the fictional Hogwart’s curriculum young and old alike will learn the history behind the objects featured in the books.

Around 160 artifacts are featured.  On display outside the exhibition space are costumes and props from the “Cursed Child” play .  A signed copy of Half-Blood Prince was shipped via Queen Mary in a giant steamer strunk which is also seen with accompanying video of its journey from England to America.  This signifies quite well the odyssey this series is still experiencing.

Fans will love the Potter ephemera here, especially factoids about the books.  My favorite explains how the British publisher Bloomsbury published only 500 copies of the first book as per their policy with children’s books.  As we all know now the Harry Potter series is now the biggest selling children’s lit series in history.  This fact alone merits an exhibit of this kind.

For the little wizards in your family this experience is not hands-on save for one or two touch screen items and a replica statue of a griffin.

Among the artifacts are a fabulous scroll instructing how to create the sorcerer’s stone in seven steps, a real witch’s cauldron and broomstick.  Alchemy, Dark Arts, Astronomy, Herbology, etc. are all represented with their own section.

Mary Dupre’s original art for all of the novels are displayed to great effect.  As well as Jim McKay’s new illustrations for the recently published storybook editions.  Original art, manuscripts, and letters from J.K. Rowling are quite impressive too.  You will see how she mapped out every character to create this entirely new realm of the fantastic.

This leads to the last section that promotes the new film, “Fantastic Beats and the Curse of Grimwald”  along with items from the current play, “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”.

Parents be forewarned: you exit through the gift shop after passing all the international editions of the books.  Beyond the $21 ticket price are separate programs related to Harry Potter including readings, meet-ups, and classes.

You are strongly advised to purchase timed tickets on the museum’s website.  The link is provided here:  http://www.nyhistory.org.

 

phoenix
Harry Potter: A History Of Magic at the New York Historical Society