Monthly Archives: August 2015


I grew in the late, great, state of Kansas–the actual middle of the continental USA in a section of the state where instead of being flat (as people expect)we have rolling hills that meet the endless sky at the horizon all around you.  Every year I go home for a few days, and take pictures trying to capture the vastness of it all. Yesterday, I happened to be in a car on the highway at sunset and was able to take some of these shots. I can’t wait to blow them up….


Photoblog: Enjoying Lily Ponds…

Last week, I finally braved the NYC heat wave to see the Lotus ponds in bloom at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden.  Of course, since my favorite color is yellow, and I was giving my chakras a boost I was all in yellow–including carrying a yellow parasol(sun umbrella, to you)……

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Vilaida Snow: Forgotten Genius!

I wonder if Vilaida is in the documentary “The Girls in the Band” released two years ago–it is about the women who performed in the all-female bands of the 1940’s and 50’s.

Commentaries on the Times

A virtuoso trumpeter / conductor who performed with the greatest male bands

This Lady Could Do It All!

In her memoir about the world of American show business doing the golden age of Hollywood, the famous actress Maureen O’Hara said the producers were always looking for performers who were “triple threats,” meaning they could sing, dance and act.  However she forgot to mention the fact that the performer also had to be white.  This is the only logical explanation as to why Valaida Snow was not the greatest star of the era, for she was a triple threat and more.  None of the white stars of the Hollywood musical extravaganzas could match her talent.

In his book “The World of Earl Hines,” one of a series of books by the indefatigable British Jazz historian Stanley Dance, in which Jazz musicians tell us in their own words about their…

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street canvassers

For the past eight weeks I have been working for a fundraising company, stopping people on the street and asking them to contribute to a non-profit.  Living on the East Coast for many years, I have seen such people almost daily, and although I have seldom contributed to them, I never imagined what it was like from their side.  I’ve always watched construction workers and wondered how they stood being outside during the worst weather.  Now I have some idea what they are going through out there, and I’ll never ignore a street canvasser again.

Street canvassers aren’t born knowing how to do this job; nor did they teach it to them in schools–and it is a real skill, which is difficult to learn.  First you learn the speech–who or what you’re representing, and what they need the people you stop to do.  Perhaps not surprisingly, singers and actors do well at this because they’re used to memorizing texts.  Then you have to figure out how to get people to stop–short of sticking out your foot to trip them as they go by, or just jumping out in front of them on the sidewalk.(No, the companies frown on such tactics, darn it). You have to make sure you’re heard above the street noises–buses, carts, trucks, sometimes construction equipment–and nearby loud conversations.  No day is too hot, cold, windy, snowy or wet.  Once you’re out there you’re expected to get out there and try.

The next obstacle is the people you’re trying to reach.  Some are amused by your efforts to get their attention, some are outraged that someone is on the sidewalk interrupting their day–or somehow getting in their way, although you have the rest of the sidewalk to travel on.  It’s hilarious the great lengths some people go to avoid acknowledging  the canvassers; I’ve seen people actually step into traffic, run into other pedestrians, duck into nearby stores or restaurants, or walk for nearly a block with their heads carefully turned up and away in the other direction, or even break into a quick jog; just to avoid eye-contact. (Honestly folks, after standing all day in the heat, the canvasser doesn’t have the energy to run you down like a lion chasing a gazelle. Just say, no thank you, or just shake your head.  We get it.)  A favorite pedestrian tactic in big cities to suddenly claim they don’t speak english when you’re half-way through the introduction

An unfortunate encounter is when you run into someone who’s just been waiting for an opportunity to vent their spleen; sometimes about your company, but most often,  on completely irrelevant subjects, and the canvasser provides a perfect target.  After all they initiated the conversation, and getting away gracefully is difficult–you don’t want to set them off on a new tangent, because time spent with someone you know won’t contribute is literally money wasted.  The canvasser could have used that time speaking to someone who did want to contribute.  By the way, a canvasser speaking to you on the street is not asking for sexual harassment–be they female OR male(I’ve seen it done to both sexes).  Amazingly enough, the homeless–not all are dirty,smelly and ill-dressed by the way-will sometimes stop if they’re interested in a cause, and offer money from what little they have.  It’s very humbling.  Since you’re in front of their place of business occasionally store owners will ask you to move, but occasionally restaurant or cafe owners will actually bring you cold water, and the use of their restrooms.  I thank all of you who were so gracious to those of us working in the heat.

I’ve stood outside for five hours in sunlight on the hottest days of this past summer, and it’s no joke.  Aching feet, dizziness, headaches, sore throats from yelling over noise, leg pains, dehydration, sunburn, burning eyes, frustration from spending  a full day repeatedly reaching out to people without a single contribution while pretending each rejection doesn’t hurt, then elation each from success are all part of the experience. You might not realize that the canvassers aren’t necessarily getting a percentage of what they raise. But in all cases, keeping their job depends upon being consistently successful in getting people to participate.

Now when I’m out in public, and I see someone out on the sidewalk with a tablet or a clipboard trying to get my attention, whether I want to contribute or not, I give them a quick smile and nod as I go by. I’ve literally walked in their shoes.  I get it.