August 2, 2017
So – oh, it’s now June in August. Somehow it doesn’t sound right but we’re going to make it work. I suggest finding a fine jazz musician having been fortunate enough to know many from my “Jersey Jazz” days. One who heads the list is clarinetist/singer Rick Bogart. Thanks to him I experienced a modern luxury hotel located in the heart of Manhattan. Rick is currently bringing his New Orleans and swing style background alive at the Flatiron Hotel. Where is that? you query. Okay! The modern luxurious hotel is located in the center of New York’s most vibrant area. I was lucky enough to find Rick Bogart, his swinging clarinet, his charming singing, and lovable personality playing there. The Flatiron Hotel offers a stylish lobby with a view of Broadway and 26th Street. Last month I was fortunate to enjoy Rick Bogart and his quintet. Rick is always generous when he invites me to sing. We frequently do duets together. The audience appears to enjoy that as much as I enjoy singing with him. The Flatiron Hotel is a destination in itself. It sits in the heart of New York City, near Chelsea and mid-town in the middle of it all. One can enjoy a sophisticated, exciting way to experience New York. And, surprisingly, dining there was a delicious experience too. If you go to hear the Rick Bogart Quintet providing his distinct New Orleans style, shout out to him, especially if you are a talented musician or singer. He might invite you to take the stage. At any rate, be sure to give him a hug for me. His charming wife, Cynthia, won’t mind!
Do you know who the Divine Miss M is? Of course it’s comedienne, singer, and actress Bette Midler. I’ve been a fan of the lady for a long time. I purchased two of her records, “Bette Midler Sings the Rosemary Clooney Songbook,” and another tribute album, “Bette Midler Sings the Peggy Lee Songbook.” Midler is the quintessential entertainer: a singer, dancer, comedienne, and dramatic actress. She continued to win me over when she teamed with Diane Keaton and Goldie Hawn in “The First Wives Club.” On the Broadway stage I was stunned by her one-woman show “I’ll Eat You Last: a Chat with Sue Mengers,” playing a famous Hollywood agent. In addition to being honored with multiple Grammy Awards and Oscar nominations for her work in films like “The Rose” and “Beaches,” she founded the New York Restoration Project. It’s a non-profit organization that helps revitalize green spaces in low-income neighborhoods in New York City. Since it began in 1995 she and the NYRP have planted over a million trees in the city. Her most recent achievement was her return to Broadway in the 2017 revival of “Hello, Dolly.” In the lead role her performance received rave reviews from the critics and my friends who were smart enough to get tickets even before the show opened. It’s her first leading role in a Broadway musical. In a career spanning almost half a century, the amazing lady has won three Grammy Awards, four Golden Globes, three Emmy Awards, and two Tony Awards. Phew! Right on, girl. She is indeed divine!
This is going to be a purely personal retrospective of television sitcoms. If you don’t know what a sitcom is, skip this story – or shall I explain that it stands for situation comedy? Perhaps I should ask if you look for something on television to catch at night when you can’t sleep? Or do you simply need a distraction to erase your personal cares? For me sitcoms do the job much better than sleeping pills (I never took a sleeping pill). So, here’s some of my favorites – some old, some newer. In the past I’ve enjoyed Frasier, Cheers, M*A*S*H, All in the Family, I Love Lucy, Maude, The Golden Girls, Rosanne, Full House, Married With Children, The Nanny, The Honeymooners, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. There are even more. I left out a lot. The recent sitcoms that I personally enjoy are Friends, Sex and the City, Seinfeld, Everyone Loves Raymond, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Veep. Note that the recent list is shorter than the old sitcoms. Perhaps I have fewer sleeping problems. At any rate, throw away my list and make your own. The goal is to get rid of those sleeping pills. Sweet dreams!
Thanks to television’s Turner Classic Movies I enjoyed the actress Marisa Tomei in the 1992 film “My Cousin Vinnie.” With that break-through performance I became a fan. Well, fast forward to 2016, and I saw her again appearing in “Captain America” – and reprising her role in “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” She’s become the latest actress to assume the mantle of Aunt May, a nebbishy science student. “Spider-Man: Homecoming” reboots a restored Peter Parker to an adolescent highschooler. Marisa Tomei has sustained a 30-year acting career. In her recent role she plays a dowdy widow with long hair (not silver). The lady is fighting stereotype. In “War for the Planet of the Apes” there’s a gripping opening battle. I personally found it terrifying. There’s a group of human soldiers hell-bent on finding their leader and exterminating the apes (does that sound familiar?). The apes are not savages and just want to live in peace separately from the humans. It’s a pretty standard exodus story but it still manages to surprise. Actor Woody Harrelson (in a role far from his “Cheers” days) is a true villain. He is a menacing delight in his role. And then there‘s Michael Keaton. So very good in “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” he plays the Vulture, the regulation baddy. He’s the biggest enemy facing Spider-Man. The series spins on Peter Parker, a teenager who develops super skills after he’s bitten by a troublesome spider. However, he retains the uncertainties and vulnerabilities of adolescence. In spite of his super gifts he is also a teen-age boy. Well, you might find “Spider-Man: Homecoming” simply a good time at the movies. As for the series, Thomas Wolfe said, “You can’t go home again.” When it comes to this installment, can you?