Category Archives: Uncategorized

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

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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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AN APOLOGY TO ALL STREET FUNDRAISERS AND SURVEY TAKERS

 

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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.

MEMORIES OF JULY 4TH

I posted this last year, but in honor of July 4th, I’d like to re-post it in honor of my Dad and my 3 brothers….

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For most people, the Fourth of July immediately conjures up visions of barbequed meat, potato salad, cole slaw, hot corn on the cob with butter and beer.  As a daughter of a US Army Sargent growing up in the sixties in Junction City, Kansas, for me the Fourth is connected with marching bands, parades, and fireworks!

Nearby Fort Riley Kansas is the home post of General George A. Custer, (yes, from The Little Big Horn) and The Big Red One Infantry Division; one of the premier fighting units in World War II, Korea, and Viet-Nam. ( I’ll discuss crazy George some other time.)

On the Fourth, Fort Riley would send troops and the Big Red One’s marching band into the city to march in the annual parade, then they would have activities on post for people to come out and enjoy.  Usually the band would hold a concert on the parade…

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Wholesome Granola Bars

I can’t wait to try this! so many pre-made granola bars have wheat tin them….No I can make my own..

Simply Made Kitchen and Crafts

This week I had to head out of town for a business trip. When I travel, I’m often thrown off balance by the pre-selected conference meals provided as I can’t always follow my regular routine. Meal times are usually less than ideal and the meal selection is often standard fare and can be limited in variety.

So, before leaving for my trip this week, I made sure to pack quite a few of these Wholesome Granola Bars. It’s always good to travel with a stash of wholesome snacks when you’re away from the comforts of home.

On Thursday, these babies really came in handy. We had eaten an early lunch and our dinner was scheduled for 6:30 pm. Just before heading out to an evening meeting, I shared a few of the bars with my colleagues and they were thrilled to have a healthy snack on hand to tide…

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THE CHURCH WITH A HEART-The Little Church Around the Corner

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After moving to NYC, I worked for a midtown fabric company, and discovered a beautiful little church on a side street.  It figures that a singer would stumble upon the famous “Little Church Around the Corner”, known as the “Actors Church”, or The Church of the Transfiguration (it is actually an Episcopal Church, but there’s also a Catholic actors church–St. Malachy’s).

The history of the church is one of acceptance. Since performers travel all the time, they weren’t  in any one city consistently enough to be considered church members, and therefore many churches would not allow them to be married, baptize their children–or even be buried on their property.  I’ve discovered that since most cemeteries were church-owned, in centuries past, many famous actors were buried in pet cemeteries, or african-american churchyards.  A famous singer–who was the toast of the Main Line set– died in her hotel after a concert in Philadelphia in the 1950’s.  It took the authorities a week to find somewhere to bury her.

“The Little Church Around the Corner” has a proud heritage of inclusion and commitment to helping those in need, hosting a diverse community embracing all people, across a vast spectrum of cultural, ethnic, racial, gender, sexual orientation and economic backgrounds, as full members of the  body of Christ. (One of the attached photos is the full explanation of the church’s name, which supposedly dates back to Thomas Jefferson).

But beyond all that, the church is an oasis of quiet in the middle of the Midtown New York City, the entrance set back from the street, with a garden and fountain in front. The interior is full of dark woods, and it is incredibly soothing to just go inside, sit, and think your own thoughts….

How wonderful that in this age of churches that are insisting their mission is exclusion, that there are some who practice inclusion….

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Little Church 4Little church 1

Early Spring at Brooklyn Botanic

This has been a cold, hard winter!  I ran out to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden that should have had Cherry Trees in bud, with tulips and other flowers in full bloom. The magnolias were displayed in their full glory, with only yellow and white daffodils for competition….Good for them. A moment in the spotlight!!!

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YOU NEVER KNOW WHEN KARMA WILL HIT….

The Church of the Innocents on West 55th and Broadway had a beautiful Good Friday Service this afternoon, but on leaving the church I decided to investigate the unusual cemetery behind it. (Where I grew up in Kansas, individual churches didn’t have cemeteries; there was one for the city, and another at the nearby army base).  As I was leaving I noticed a 14-foot celtic cross ornately carved with various birds on all sides,and the name AUDUBON in big letters at the base.  Yep. It was the grave of James Audubon, the famous bird illustrator!  Although there were trees and bushes all over the grounds, the only one with birds singing in it was the bush just to the left of his tombstone….a fitting tribute….

AUDUBON TOMBSTONE