Monthly Archives: May 2013

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girls in the band

Movie Alert: The Girls in the Band

A new movie, is crossing the country in limited release, about the FEMALE JAZZ MUSICIANS.   There have been many films about male musicians but very few detailing the Women of Jazz.  While they get little visibility, there are–and have always been–many female jazz musicians, in addition to the vocalists.  One of the big shockers for me was that Louis Armstrong’s wife was a composer, arranger and performer! I only knew that Louis was married–not that it was HER band. I watched the movie and was left with a new respect for the women, and a deep desire to learn more about them and their music.

After a limited run in New York City which garnered rave reviews, the movie is traveling to LA.  The hope is that it will get a larger release later (It has already been re-booked for a short run in NYC).

Keep your eyes peeled for “The Girls in the Band”!  Here is the link to the video promotion on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6XDjh8gRGg&feature=share.

LIVING IN TORNADO ALLEY

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On Monday, May 20, I sat safely in my apartment in NYC, watching the tornado decimating Moore, Oklahoma LIVE on the weather channel.  The storm was massive, and the TV  anchors kept saying they weren’t sure whether it was an F3 or higher, and were disappointed that the mile-wide funnel wasn’t traveling faster, as it destroyed the countryside.  Imagine a vacuum cleaner mixed with a trash compactor and a bomb that is a mile wide, and you’ll have a better idea of what was rolling across the countryside at only(?!!) thirty miles an hour.

It amazed me that they didn’t seem to grasp the implications of something that large moving so slowly.  As someone who grew up in Kansas–in the middle of a part of the country where you knew these storms were possible every moment of every day from April to November, I had no doubt just how much destruction was being hidden by the necessary distance from the funnel and the accompanying rain.  What they were seeing was the complete obliteration of everything the funnel touched. Sitting on a nice. level plain–perfect terrain for heavy damage– Moore had been destroyed by a similar storm in 1999, and this also surprised the newscasters. I felt sorry for the helicopter pilot, who had family living in Moore, and knew he was probably watching them loose their houses.  He kept it together, but he was shaken.

Salina, KS used to have a trailer park located in a slight valley area of the city, called, Sunset Trailer park, which was destroyed by tornadoes three times; with the funnels taking exactly the same path all three times. I was in undergraduate school in Salina, the year the park–only a mile away– was destroyed for the third time as we ate dinner.  Looking out the windows of the school, people could see trailers spinning in mid-air. The funnel traveled towards us, then lifted back up into the sky as it crossed the nearby graveyard.  The next morning we drove out to the trailer park to see if we could aid one of our classmates who had lived there.  All the trailers were gone, with debris everywhere, and pieces of metal from the trailers wrapped around trees and telephone poles nearby.  The four-story, solid brick clubhouse/shelter was completely gone, with only a cement slab to mark where it had been.  I’d been in that building the previous winter for a party.  i couldn’t believe that some thing that solid had been so utterly destroyed.  A block away from there, the houses were untouched.

But, that’s the reality of a tornado.  They appear in seconds, do terrible destruction, roll back into the clouds and disappear as if they had never existed. The funnel moves like the tip of a whip, snapping back and forth, hitting somethings, while missing others.  The force of the winds can drive a straw through a two by four board, snatch a baby from his mother’s arms while leaving the woman standing there.(True story, the storm hit just as people were leaving a church, snatched the baby away, and the family searched miles looking for the body.  They found it 5 miles from the church).  Tornadoes can empty a barn while leaving the structure intact, and rip metal into so much confetti.

The people of Moore knew the storm was coming; you learn to watch the sky and look for the signs, which is more dependable than waiting for the sirens to sound; often they go off too late because of how fast the funnels come down.  But there was simply nothing they could do about it, and no way to avoid the destruction.  These storms are a part of living in the Midwest, as Hurricanes are for the East coast, earthquakes for California, Sunamis for Hawaii, and incredible snowfalls for places like Minnesota.  But with the climate changes the world has undergone in recent years, the storms are increasing in severity, and frequency.  We can’t change nature, but building codes and preparation must change.  The emergency responders were there right away from all over the region, but still, why aren’t storm shelters part of the building requirements for all trailer parks? and many of the homes didn’t have basements!  Riding out the storm in a bathroom sounds good in theory, but when the bathroom is dissolved along with the rest of the house, the bathroom is no protection.  People laugh about the atomic bomb shelters everyone built in the 50’s ,but I wonder if they didn’t have an idea there.  A massive underground shelter should be available for trailer parks, schools; anywhere that large groups of people will probably be located.

My heart goes out to all the people of Moore and Oklahoma City.  It has taken me years to be able to sleep through thunderstorms without the terror of missing the storm sirens, and not having time to run for shelter.  The cities will rebuild, but I know the residents will take even longer to recover.

If you want to help the people in Oklahoma, read this article which lists the various methods to contact relatives and contribute:  Go to http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/05/20/18381508-how-to-help-oklahoma-tornado-victims?lite .

CONFESSION OF A CARROT CAKE JUNKIE

carrot cake

Let others eat their chocolate cake, brownies, and candy, but

I AM A CARROT CAKE JUNKIE.

How bad?  I prefer to eat it slowly, with a shrimp fork, and  an entire pot of tea.

I blame graduate school.  When traveled out of state to attend graduate school, I encountered Entemann’s Carrot Cake at a restaurant, and fell madly in Lust with Carrot Cake.  Before then, I had neither heard of nor eaten Carrot cake, nor cream cheese icing. It was so amazing that I had to stop myself from licking the plate.

After grad school I moved to Philadelphia, where I accidentally rented an apartment a block away from a shop called The Carrot Cake Man, run by a man with his sister, and a cousin.  it wasn’t fancy but, the three of them worked all day in the store from Monday thru Saturday, 11AM-7PM, making NOTHING BUT CARROT CAKE.  Literally.  The place sat 12, and they didn’t provide any drinks or anything else. They made 28 varieties and combinations but only in  carrot cake–with blueberries, strawberries,peanuts, walnuts, you name it.  Sizes ranged from cupcakes, and mini-loaves to enormous sheet cakes.  It was Heavenly.  To get you hooked, they offered free samples of the plain cake, but that was all it took.

Just so you don’t think it was only me, I once took a date there for dessert, since he had paid for dinner.  While I was choosing my cupcakes, my date was given a sample.  When I looked up at him a few minutes later, he had a loaf in each hand and said, “So what are you buying?”.  I took him back to my place to get coffee to eat the cakes, and when I came into the living room carrying the drinks, he had peeled back the plastic on one of his loaves and was half-finished–no plate, no napkin, nothing.  When I made my usual Saturday run to Carrot Cake man the next weekend, the owner said, “You know your friend  you brought here last week?  He was pacing in front of our doors before we opened on Monday morning.”  {Note:  Carrot Cake man closed around 2000, and the last I heard he had developed a twitter following that received daily tweets about where they could find him as he traveled from store to store…..}

Moving to NYC a few years later, I assumed I’d be able to find killer carrot cake in the gastronomic center of the US.  Nope.  There were many pretenders–spice cakes with a carrot made of icing on top, and a few carrots inside–which were sweet but tasted like nothing in particular.  I quickly learned that if the cake had a light color inside, don’t bother buying it; it wouldn’t be worth my time. I will walk into delis and ask them to turn the carrot cake around so I can see the color of the cake, and I’m sure they think I’m crazy when I say, no not dark enough.  I’ve eaten in restaurants and if they present me with a light-colored cake on their dessert tray, I just skip dessert.  I’ve been known to mutter, “That’s not real carrot cake”.   I am searching for good cake in Harlem–there are various shops there that have been recommended, but I have hit a major snag.  I had to change to a gluten-free diet this past year. Now my options for a good cake are even smaller.

Most gluten free dessert options are chocolate, which hides the different taste and consistency of the flours used to replace wheat. I found a gluten-free carrot cake in a health-food store, but it wasn’t great; only better than nothing.  Maybe my best option is to make one, but I don’t want to be alone in my apartment with  a cake that feeds 10!

Has anyone out there found a really good gluten-free carrot cake in a store?  Or maybe a simple recipe; preferably one using molasses?

Audience Non-participation Guidelines?

Greta at Danny's edited 2010

Two days ago I went to support a fellow vocalist at her showcase in a restaurant.  Just before she started her second set, the restaurant seated a large group in the middle of the small room, right in front of  the piano.

I realize that (1)they had every right to talk during the performances, and (2)the restaurant had no option but to put them in the live music area-it was a question of lost revenue.  That being said, the group proceeded to yell over the singing, and refused all hints that they should hold it down so those who did want to the music could do so.   It finally reached the point that the other singers present started singing along with the performer in solidarity and to point out to the group how rude–and loud they were.  The group paused, looked startled at the additional noise then went back to yelling, and were clearly irritated by any efforts to draw them into the music.  I was so angry that I wanted to shake every person at the table.   I know that NYC audiences have a reputation for rudeness (and frankly they shouldn’t be proud of it) but I’m willing to give them the bone that they don’t know any better.  Too bad that we can’t give the note below to all the people who enter live venues.

Dear Diners at a venue with live performers:

The music you are hearing is not a recording, radio station or TV.  If you yourself yelling over the music, and really needed to talk that badly, a live music situation was not the place to come.  Please take advantage of your option to be seated elsewhere in the restaurant, and don’t deprive the people who actually came to hear the music of their right to hear what they paid for.