The First Time I Met Pete Seeger…..

The first time I met Pete Seeger, I was far too young to remember it. I was, more than likely, an infant. Pete was an old friend of my parents’, having probably met my father in the 1950s or early 1960s. when they were both fighting fascism and oppression in their own ways, both at home and abroad. When weren’t they, really? In those days Joan Baez, Tom Paxton, Paul Robeson Jr., and many others were frequent visitors at our home and while I am proud to know this now, I’ll confess that this was not of primary concern to a small child.

One thing I do remember about Pete is that he was great with kids. Or at least he was with me. Picnics with Pete on the banks of the Hudson became a somewhat regular occurrence* and on one particular night in 1983 at dinner in the Hotel Nacional in Havana, Pete indulged a 12 year-old’s whimsy far more than he needed to.

I had recently learned to make wine glasses “whistle” by wetting a finger and running at around the rim of the glass. To my joy, I was seated next to Pete and at some point in the evening, I started getting bored (dinners in Cuba start late and can go very late) and so I started playing with my wine (water) glass. Pete claimed had never seen this (I suspect he was fibbing) and he and I proceeded to have some fun with the other tables in the dining room by making our glasses whistle and, when people would look around, pretending we were also looking for the source of the whistling. I’ve always thought that one of the true measures of an adult is how they relate to children.

My house was always full of music, despite no one in my family being able to play a lick. Classical and folk were the predominant styles and so many of Pete’s songs have been part of my life since I was a small child. Granted, I was an odd kid. I mean, how many 10 year-old do you know who know the words to “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine,” “We Shall Not Be Moved,” and “Which Side Are You On?” Much of the credit for that should be given to Pete.

The last 2 times I saw Pete were at memorial services. The first was for Mary Travers (of Peter, Paul & Mary fame) in 2009 and the second in 2005 at my mother’s service. Alas, the weather too bad for him to make it to my father’s memorial in 2007. One of the many drawbacks to the aging process is having friends, loved ones, and those we admire pass on. It’s a part of life, but one I have not yet come to grips with.

Pete was one of the bravest, kindest, and most principled people to ever walk the earth. He was one of a kind for so many reasons and I dare say we shan’t see the likes of him again any time soon.

He also had a beautiful falsetto!

*Possible inflation of frequency due to the passage of time.

New Doctor Who Christmas Special Trailer!!

There’s not a whole lot of commenting I can do on this. I suppose I can “SQUEEEE!” a bit. I can nerdgasm, too. I can say I’ll probably shed a few when Matt Smith goes (but not as much as when 10 left us).

All in all, I am very much looking forward to the 12th (13th?) Doctor. I am a huge Peter Capaldi fan. In fact he stars in my favorite film of all time, Local Hero and his work on The Thick of It and In the Loop.

 

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R.I.P. Peter O’Toole – An All Time Great

I first experienced the genius of Peter OToole when I was 13. I was in Pittsburgh, visiting family for Thanksgiving and had a horrendous tooth problem. As abscess or something. All I know was, I was in an immense amount of pain and it being a holiday, getting into a dentist was not likely, so my family took me to see My Favorite Year, I guess in the hopes that a comedy would take my mind off the pain. I don’t think it did much good, but I loved the film anyway and my admiration for O’Toole was born.

He was a striking man. After seeing David Lean’s 1962 classic Lawrence of Arabia, in which O’Toole gained stardom (and his first of eight Academy Award nominations), Noël Coward famously remarked to O’Toole: “If you’d been any prettier, it would have been Florence of Arabia.” It was those eyes…

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Beyoncé Surprises But (As Always) Bowie Sets Trends

Yes, yes. We all know that Beyoncé dropped a new album today. We all were surprised and I do think that in today’s landscape of Twitter, cellphone cameras, and rumor-obsessed media, that it’s an amazing feat for an artist as famous as Beyoncé to be able to keep a secret like this. But it’s hardly the miracle that the US press is playing it out to be.

Basically, Beyoncé moved the needle but she did not, as many in the press (and celebrity tweets) would have you believe, “change the game.” That honor must be bestowed on David Bowie and his superb release The Next Day.

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"What do you want, you moon-faced assassin of joy?" – Londo Mollari

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