WHY ARE YOU SO MAD AT ME????

My Dear Friends and Family,

This is the way I feel today when I read about Covid and the political scene.  I have written a little playlet featuring two of my favorite Ted Lasso characters.  See if you can guess who is who.

“I don’t get it!”

“Grrrrrr..”

“I’m not sure I understand.”

“Grrrr…”

“Did I hurt your feelings?”

“Grrrr…”

“Please!  I really want to know.”

“Grrr…you asked me to put on my mask.  Grrr…you asked me if I was vaccinated.  Grrr…you are from Venus.  I am from Mars. Grrr…”

“Ok!  I get that but can’t we still be friends or at least friendly acquaintances.”

“Grrr… NO!”

And my friends, dats da trut!  Gone are the days when you could have friends that agreed to disagree.  Today you either agree or, like on a plane someone slaps you and ties you up.

What happened? Here’s my theory. The world is living through the perfect storm. The combination of P&P – politics and pandemic – an earthquake, tornado, hurricane, cyclone beyond the beyond scale of human endurance.

Also, we have been watching and personally witnessing climate change that is the devil’s advocate in this perfect storm.  

How much can a human being bear?  Every day there are more and more incidents indicating not much more.  For me, it’s like watching the thermometer rise on a roiling/boiling cauldron about to explode.  Daily, civility takes a back seat to violent eruptions. The other day I drove by a full sized banner on the front of a house that read … first a Mea Culpa: I have abundantly used four letter curse words because they are a release for me of tensions, stress and anger… but I am very careful to use it on and for myself not others, so please excuse what I am going to print out to prove a point… this is what was on the house sized banner,     

FUCK YOU BIDEN AND FUCK YOU WHO VOTED FOR HIM

Wha????????

This was on a house in Western Massachusetts illustrating how this virus of vitriolic hate, anger and  maniacal behavior is spreading.  

I do not want to be discouraged or lose hope. I want to understand what is happening. Here goes!

The human condition is always in survival mode.… aka fight or flight. I also understand that this perfect storm of pandemic and politics has kindled the fire of fight. The level of anger that brings out a banner of cursing HATE is covering an incredible amount of fear. If I scratch whatever I am angry about I find the fear.

Nina Simone says and sings it far better than I could…

O.K.?  What then…??? Here’s the tricky part! Patience, faith – and here it comes guys – LOVE in equal measure must be applied to the wound. Easier said than done. I had it all wrong. I thought as long as my fear protected my anger, I could function. In humble gratitude, slowly over the last twenty or thirty years (believe me, we humans are really intellectually and emotionally challenged. Translation: slow to change). However, as I aged, love melted the anger that melted the fear that lived in the house that Sally-Jane built.

Like I said it is not easy… simple, but not easy. The speed of the internet, social media, transportation, make it harder. This is when I yearn for the good old days. Imagine trying to read a newspaper or get to your Twitter or Facebook or Instagram accounts from your Roman litter as you commute to work.  

Whatever stories that are hanging fire would have to wait until you got to your office or home. By that time, you might have actually calmed down. Maybe even talked to your litter bearers, asking and sharing thoughts. In other words, no knee jerk reactions that you would find too difficult to apologize for or ask forgiveness for. The human condition has almost no genetic structure for apologies or forgiveness. It’s still evolving. From your mouth to God’s ears. Which reminds me there was this guy a couple of thousand years ago who spoke about turning the other cheek and other outrageous ideas, but it’s obvious the way the world is going no one remembers him.

So I am asking… no pleading with you, next time you want to punch someone out verbally or physically

STOP…THINK…and remember… 

“We have nothing to fear but fear itself and the guy next to you who hasn’t been vaccinated. 

Right???  Of course, right!!!

Love,  Sally-Jane ❤️

P.S. There is one brilliant documentary that must be seen… MUST! And you will be tested on this.

I promise you if you watch PBS 4-Parts of Ken Burns Documentary – Mohammed Ali you will see before your very eyes the evolution of a human spirit and soul into what he announced he was, at the beginning of his career and still is and will remain,  

THE GREATEST

This documentary is the perfect antidote to the rickety raggedy human condition of today…

How Do You Get To Carnegie Hall?

My Dear Friends…

I often ask myself why certain life stories inspire my Blah, Blah Blogging?

Self:  Why did Buddy Guy in the recent American Masters series on PBS inspire you to write about him?

More Self:  I can always depend on you to ask the right question at the right time.

Even More Self:  Who are you talking to? 

Back to the first Self:  Don’t ask. Just go with the flow.

There are so many reasons I tuned into the story of Buddy Guy:

  1.  I love the Blues. I have a vision of myself from forever as a singer of the Blues. Sitting atop a piano, looking strangely like a bad imitation of Julie London, plaintively crying a river of blues. My audience suitably sobbing (free tissue packs included in the price of admission.) Scratch a comedienne and you’ll find a tragedienne.
  2. I knew the name Buddy Guy.  I didn’t really know who he is.
  3. American Masters always find really interesting people to profile.
  4. Their documentaries are gloriously, artistically interesting and informative.

Buddy Guy is a blues guitar player in the style of his heroes and mentors, John Lee Hooker, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters. Familiar names but little known to me.  Buddy was born 83 years ago in a small town in Louisiana. From the beginning he never thought of himself as special. And as I listened to him describe his life in this small town, where his family were share croppers and as a child, he picked cotton. Before I even heard him play, I felt I was being osmotically drawn to him right through all the electronic apparatus between him and me. As I watched and listened to him learn to play, at first with only two strings before he had enough money to buy a real guitar, I thought… ”What is it about this man that touches me so deeply? First, his humility… what can I say, is humbling. At a time when everyone is “look at me-ing” all over the place, he put his focus where it belonged… on discovering, exploring, and practicing his gift.

He needed to breathe.
He needed to play.
One was inextricably linked to the other.
I related. Even when I didn’t want to, that is how I lived.

BREATHE IN… 1,2,3

WORK… and a-1 and a-2 and a-3

In the first moments of this profile, I watched as he listened to the greats of his time, first in Baton Rouge then after moving on to Chicago.  All he ever wanted to do was try to play like they did.  He never thought he’d ever become a professional musician. He just wanted to play his guitar.  Chicago was a mecca for the Blues. He could and did watch. He could and did listen. For him it was simple. He needed to breathe. He needed to play. This was all very familiar to me. I was hooked.

Throughout the documentary, various personalities, guitar players (of all ages), managers, agents, tell Buddy’s story.  And then we have the Brits. I find it interesting that most Americans of the 50’s and 60’s and even into the 70’s (my ignorance astounds me, but then it always has) didn’t know about Buddy or Howlin’ Wolf or Muddy Waters, or John Lee Hooker, but Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones knew. Eric Clapton knew. Stevie Ray Vaughn knew, and when Buddy went to London as a tourist…. the Brits pounced on him and made him play with them and it was the breakthrough he needed because it was when the Stones toured the States that they demanded and got these great unknown (Ha! Ha!) guitar players included in their tours. 

An amazing piece of Black History. Of course there are so many unknown amazing pieces of Black History to shake up the shame I share with whoever is willing to share it with me.  

Another piece of my ignorance follows the various interviews of one, John Mayer. I had only heard of him as the escort of various People Magazine movie and television stars.  (Please don’t give me grief. People magazine is my go to the beauty salon, doctor offices, necessary reading material. I call ahead to be assured the establishments carry the latest issues.) So who knew from John Mayer? Turns out these movie stars knew a good thing after all.  He was truly erudite, intelligent and bonkers over Buddy. And I understand he can play guitar as well as other things, too.

Buddy Guy’s life story stirred my thinking about the creative process.

As I view some of the artists today, I am saddened. It’s not as if I do not see the talent, the gift. In my thinking however, the gift really is only one small part of an artist’s process. Without discipline, without working the gift, it can only go so far. In fact, I would say, without the kind of practicing that Buddy Guy did, his glorious gift would never have developed the way it did. Practice doesn’t guarantee success, but without it the shelf life of the artist’s gift is a short one.  

Right???  Of course, right!!!!

Love, Sally-Jane ❤️

P.S. So THAT is how you get to Carnegie Hall…

P.P.S. More enticement to watch documentary…

Losing or Gaining Perspective?

My Dear Friends and Family,

The Confession: I love music. However, I am not now or have I ever considered myself expert in the field of music… modern, classical, R&B, pop. I simply know what I like and what I don’t like. I think I would qualify as your average, every day, listener, EXCEPT for my opinionated Big Mouth. 

The Disclaimer:  Yes I was a singer.  Yes I was a dancer.  Yes I played a very bad piano.  All to say I knew about music… definitively not as an expert but as a participating viewer, listener and performer.

This information is leading you to an adventure I had in the world of music and, oh, so much more, on Hulu Streaming last Friday evening:  Summer of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised) Over the course of six weeks during the summer of 1969, thousands of people attended the Harlem Cultural Festival to celebrate Black history, culture, music and fashion held in Morris Park in the Bronx (an almost as infamous borough as Brooklyn, but not quite).

I am and always will be the Brooklyn girl who had friends and went to school with all races and religions.  In 1969, I was thirty-six.  OMG was I ever 36? I guess I had to have been to get to 37 and on up and up and up. My life was circumscribed by my children and my career. In combination, there was not a spare breath for any other activity. I was living  and  working in Washington, D.C., a recently desegregated Southern city that had been rocked by the recent assassinations of Malcom X, Martin Luther King, JFK, Bobby Kennedy. Of course I was aware of the Happening in Woodstock… the crazies invading a bucolic setting in New York State where wild men and women made music, love, drank wine, did drugs and more… a veritable hippie Sodom and Gomorrah.

In 1969, the whole world knew about Woodstock. 
In 1969, no one knew about the Summer of Soul concerts in Morris Park.

The only people that knew about the Summer of Soul concerts in Morris Park were the 40,000 to 50,000 people who attended them. Definitely a Black majority coming out of Harlem… which is where the subtitle (When The Revolution Could Not be Televised) comes from.  Woodstock had television and movie studios vying for the rights to film the concert. Summer of Soul sponsors had to beg for money to film and record their concerts.  And we are thankful for those sponsors that had the foresight to make a record of an historical and cultural moment in Black History 52 years before BLACK LIVES MATTER.

I could do chapter and verse about the difference between Woodstock and Morris Park… it wouldn’t work… it’d be comparing apples and oranges. They are just two different fruits or vegetables. There is a striking difference, however, other than color in the demeanor of the attendees of Woodstock and Morris Park.  A psychologist would have a grand time looking at the behavioral differences.  Considering the line up of this concert, it will be no hardship for you to watch this concert and make your own evaluation.  A picture is worth a thousand words. 

These artists are enough to pump even this ‘ole soul. Stevie Wonder (looking like he’s 12), Gladys Knight and the Pips, Mahalia Jackson, The 5th Dimension, The Chamber Brothers, David Ruffin (I didn’t know him, but I did know My Girl), Abbey Lincoln and Max Roach, Jesse Jackson (not singing but speaking eloquently), and an unbelievably incredible and stirring performance by Nina Simone.  There are so many more and I am showing my ignorance by not knowing them before this documentary.  

The point is I know them now. To watch these beautiful artists, is to be reminded of how long it takes this nation , indivisible (we hope), under God, to change a light bulb and the way it thinks.

Yup, as the privileged white woman watching this concert, I went through it all.  From despair to hope.  I am happy to report I came out on the side of HOPE.  That is what good music always does for me.

Right???  Of course, right!!!!

Love, Sally-Jane ❤️

THE ART OF GIVING AND RECEIVING

My Dear Friends and Family,  

Wow!  Is this Holiday season different from any Holiday season you’ve ever had, or what???  Everything is so… so… so…

VIRTUAL.

I love giving presents almost as much as I love receiving them. I was confounded and I whined, “How am I going to send a gift to one and all of my  Blah Blah Blog’s friends and family.”

Sometimes I can’t see the forest from the trees or is it the trees from the forest. Well, it is one of those things.  And I really cant tolerate listening to me whine.

So I said to myself, “Self!  Stop whining about missing the real and live and get on the virtual band wagon!”

Along with some wonderful contributions from friends, I have searched ‘Da Web’ and come up with a Holiday Package of Fun and Cheer and Song and Dance.

Please feel free to share your own favorites.

With Love ~ ❤️ Sally-Jane

😂 GIFT #1 FOR ALL US SILLY CRITTERS 🤪

🦛 GIFT #2 FOR THOSE WHO HAVE EVERYTHING 🎄

GIFT #3 FOR THE IMAGINATION SEEKERS 😲

🤫 GIFT #4 FOR THE SILENT MAJORITY 🤣

🥳 GIFT #5:  FOR THE WANNABE STAND-UPS 🤩

🎼 GIFT #6:  FOR THE CHILD IN ALL OF US 🎄

🥧 GIFT #7: A RETRO GIFT FOR ALL THE HOLIDAY BAKERS 🍪

🩰 GIFT #8: FOR THE HOLIDAY TRADITIONALISTS 🌠

GIFT #9: FOR ONE AND ALL 🎶

🙏🏽 AND OF COURSE… 🙏🏼

HAPPY HOLIDAYS ❤️ WITH MY LOVE ~ SALLY-JANE

Does Loving the Film, ‘Green Book’ Make Me a Racist?

My Dear Friends,

I have a new friend. He is nice. He is black. I am white. I didn’t mean to but I offended him.

Here is the backstory…

In December 2018, I saw the film, Green Book. I flipped. I loved it. No, I mean I really loved it. I was in the local movie art house and there was hardly anyone else watching with me. I would say maybe 10 people at most. I laughed. I cried. I thought Viggo Moretensen and Mahershala Ali were beyond brilliant. I ached for each of them in the many cathartic moments of the film. I was enraged at the America that made it necessary to publish a horror like Green Book.

I was beyond the stratosphere at the music. Don Shirley’s classical music background blending with a jazz originality to create a sound that kept my head, my hands, my feet, and my heart moving constantly every time he played. (Just so you have all the information… the pianist, Kris Bowers, composed the movie score and played the piano parts and he too is brilliant.)

I’m glad the theatre was empty. The way I was swinging with the music, I may have been asked to leave.

And when it was over, I stood up as in those rare standing ovation moments at the theatre. I say rare because for me to stand means to know you have witnessed a genius rarity not likely to happen again. I yelled, “BRAVO!” I applauded. I was ignored as the very few fellow audience members left, walking rapidly, perhaps nervous that some cuckoo was on furlow for a matinee.

I practically danced up the aisle. As I left the theatre, the ticket taker was standing at the door. She is black. I stopped. I took her hand. She withdrew it. Undaunted, I gushed my enthusiasm for the film. I asked if she had seen the movie. She looked hard at me. She said in a very clear voice. “No! I don’t watch rubbish.”

I guess that should have been my first clue. But, I ignored it. I couldn’t wait to get home and call my near and dear ones. If they ever wanted to see or speak to me again they needed to pass the test of seeing this movie.

Fast forward to the next day after the Academy Award ceremony…

Don’t hit me.  I didn’t watch.  I never watch.  They always leave out the one movie I thought was really great or the actor or the writer…and basically, I am not sure about awarding best anything to any artist.  The competition is within  the artist.  Don’t tell me someone is better than someone else.  I don’t believe you can compare apples and oranges.  However, God forbid the money men and women don’t make their money back on their product.  And for them, it isn’t about art.  It is about “product”.

All to say, if they called my name for an Oscar, I’d probably be there.

My new friend and I were talking about the Oscars.  Those who know me know.  Those who don’t know me are pretty sure.  I have an opinion on everything.  Ask my daughters.

I had read Spike Lee was angered by Green Book’s big win. I opined that it might be sour grapes.  I had seen his film, BlacKkKlansman and thought it was great. The perfect example of trying to compare apples and oranges.  

My friend said he enjoyed Green Book, but he was also in agreement with Spike Lee. For him, the Academy was doing its usual thing. Rewarding the white man as he rescued the black man. Another movie to make the whites feel good.

I don’t often keep my own counsel. I continued on and on about how Green Book detailed the possibility of a bigot changing his tune. And isn’t that what is needed in a world gone mad with so much hate and bile. A world growing more and more into “them and us”.  Separating humans of ever color from each other.

As I pontificated, I assured him, I knew what he was feeling.

There came a very pregnant pause. A close to delivery pregnant pause. The pause was so awkward it actually shut my faucet mouth.

After some time, we broke the pause with banal conversation. Not going near the subject, we talked awhile and then said goodbye.

After we parted, I recalled what I had been saying. What was it that brought about the pause that did not refresh? As I did, I realized my new friend had been trying to tell me something without telling me something. No matter we are both minorities. I am Jewish and a woman. But I am white. He is black. I cannot and will never know what it feels like to be black.

Later that same day, I wrote an apology. I wrote that of course I could never know how he feels. I have had some of the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune thrown my way, but against being born black in this world, past or present, not comparable.

He acknowledged my apology. We have not continued the discussion. Hopefully someday we will. Slow and steady as the friendship deepens, anything is possible.

“The Blind Are Also Color Blind”
Photo taken at Foundation for the Junior Blind Summer Camp, Los Angeles,CA by Doug Wilson.

I don’t know. I do know there are those who want to see a better world.  Me, for one.  And for me, a better world would be one where we all wake up one morning and find we are color blind.  If that were true, then Green Book and BlacKkKlansman and all movies about race would be Fairy Tales. A collection of very Grimm Fairy Tales.

Is it possible?

As long as we are still breathing the world of possibilities will always exist? Right?

Of course, Right!

Love, Sally-Jane


P.S. It seems no matter where I turn, going to the movies, reading a book, I am surrounded by with racism, bigotry, and the inherent anger, resentment and frustration.

In a recent biography of Frederick Douglass, David W. Blight writes of an event which occurred in Washington, D.C. on the 11th anniversary of the end of the Civil War as well as the 11th year anniversary of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.  At the unveiling of a monument honoring Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, with President Ulysses S. Grant and all of official Washington present, Frederick Douglass spoke:

It must be admitted, truth compels me to admit, even here in the presence of the monument we have erected to his memory, Abraham Lincoln was not, in the fullest sense of the word, either our man or our model. In his interests, in his associations, in his habits of thought, and in his prejudices, he was a white man…

He was willing to pursue, recapture, and send back the fugitive slave to his master, and to suppress a slave rising for liberty, though his guilty master were already in arms against the Government. The race to which we belong were not the special objects of his consideration… My white fellow-citizens… you are the children of Abraham Lincoln. We are at best only his step-children; children by adoption, children by forces of circumstances and necessity.

Excerpt from oration delivered by Frederick Douglas at the Unveiling of The Freedmen’s Monument in Lincoln Park, Washington, D.C., April 14 1876

That speech was given in 1876. It is 2019. Have things changed? Externally, yes.

However, haven’t I been reading how the Executive Branch, the Congress, our Supreme Court are colluding and searching for ways to limit and deconstruct the civil rights legislation LBJ pushed through after JFK’s assassination.

Isn’t this what happened to the promises of Reconstruction after the Civil War?

I think this is the time to bring out my favorite Voltaire quote (a very dear, very old, very close friend of mine),

“History doesn’t repeat itself.  People do.”

The Birth of a Nation – 1915

ANTIDOTE FOR THE BLUES

Lately I have noticed a “blue” state of mind.  I have always known I was susceptible.  Hey, I even cry at supermarket openings.

I know much of what causes me to be blue are all the electronics… for the most part the computer and the cell.  Land lines are almost obsolete so I don’t count them.

Well, I don’t know about you, but I can’t turn any of them on without being bombarded by explosive negativity.  Words and phrases like EMERGENCY, URGENT, DISASTER, IT’S OVER, WE ARE FINISHED… pound my susceptible nature and I find myself thinking about building a bomb shelter like they did in the ‘50’s.  The worst thing about this happening is  that I don’t even recognize how profoundly I am being affected by all this negativity.  So, how did I discover that I was depressed, blue, anxious and negatively affected?

I went to a high school music concert.

All right, I shall admit it wasn’t an ordinary high school.  It was the Interlochen Arts Academy in the woods of Interlochen, Michigan.  A school well known for its music program, as well as for its dance, drama and art programs.
IMG_5065

The siren call for me was my granddaughter, Kiri.  Kiri is a fine French Horn player and she is graduating the high school this May and this past weekend was a weekend of final concerts.  I had to puddle hop to get there, which if I was only a little depressed before getting on those tin cans called planes sunk me even lower.

The first concert was Friday night and I watched and heard over an hundred young musicians play some very difficult music and fill the concert hall with such a gift of passion and talent…straight from the Bible my friends it was a “…joyful noise.”

After the concert I noticed a spring in my step that wasn’t there before.

The six horns she plays and studies with gave their concert Saturday afternoon.  One after the other played their solos and some horn concertos.  The spring in my step was by now almost a leap.  Who says Nanas can’t  jump!
Sunday was the piece de resistence.  Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.  Combining the Traverse City Symphony with the Interlochen Choir, 100 musicians and 100 choristers. Climaxing with the last movement of the Symphony, Ode To Joy, the rafters of the concert hall shook not just from the instruments and the chorus but from the emotions the music provoked from the audience as we followed every note in rapture, leading to a thousand people standing and screaming bravo, stamping their feet.  And suddenly the classical music hall morphed into a rock concert with music by Beethoven.

IMG_5066Now I didn’t spring, I didn’t leap, I didn’t jump, I flew out of the hall.  And that’s when I discovered I had been depressed.  And I wasn’t anymore.

And that lift came from high school students disciplined and enthralled by what they do .

OK SJ, get with the program.  Yes, I can either go back to my electronic mood swinging instruments (computer, cell) which carries with it so much negativity or I can find my own Ode To Joy.

Hey, guys, if 14 to 18  year olds can give such joy and pleasure and here is the most important word, HOPE, then THIS is my antidote for the blues.

Love ~ SJ

BY YOUR PUPILS YOU’LL BE TAUGHT


Berkshire Music School


It is amazing what can happen if you say, YES!  And I did…

Tracy Wilson, head of The Berkshire Music School called last Friday to ask if I would critique a class of students that were studying to be Cabaret Artists.

Having spent many years in and out of Cabarets…with or without smoke (oh, yes, if they weren’t blowing smoke in your face you were not in a cabaret), or waiters taking and delivering orders and of course, as you are building up to the final crescendo of a very dramatic song,  a drunk yells out, “Sing Melancholy Baby”!

And yet, with all of that, some of my best experiences have been in the Cabaret.  The experimenting  with new material, learning how to think fast on your feet as a lyric goes missing from your brain, there is NO SAFE HOUSE to hide behind.   And most of all because there is an incredible intimacy with the audience…even if you make the connection with just one person, it is a connection you can feel because it is the most intimate venue.

For all those reasons and most of all because Tracy asked me.  What she has done in Berkshire County with all ages of peoples with musical talent at all levels is nothing short of breathtaking.  So yes, I said “yes”.

I showed up at the Berkshire School of Music last Saturday to a Cabaret class taught by Sherri James Buxton with Bob Sheperd as Musical Director.  I was introduced to all.  No one had any real cabaret performing experience.  The age of the youngest was 65, maybe 70 and the oldest was 92.  92!!!!

I had complained about getting out of bed that morning.  Get a grip, SJ.  And if you haven’t heard “My Way” sung by a 92 year old man, you’ve not heard it.  And let me tell you, from that moment to right now, I put my over-the-top sense of judgment (ask my children they’ll tell how well developed my judgmental self is) in the garbage.  I replaced judgment with gratitude:

  • to Tracy for asking me
  • to Sherri and Bob for just being who they are
  • to the four students who performed for a total stranger as if that’s what they did all the time.

I am an ordinary human who feels I have an inordinate right to complain particularly when life doesn’t go my way.  I watched and listened to four people push the envelope of life until it blossomed like the rose you wish you had planted and nurtured.  And yes, they all won the prize.

Each one in their own way went for the dream.  Oh, yes, this was something they wanted to do for a long time.  Life is what happens while you’re making plans, right?  Of course, right!

Many of us go along with coulda, woulda, shoulda.  None of that was apparent in the room as they sang with heart with soul with LIFE.

In my show I ask the audience to check their pulse.  I remind them if they feel it, (and believe me if they don’t they probably didn’t buy a ticket)  GET UP, GET OUT, LAUGH UNTIL YOUR SIDES HURT, BUT MOST OF ALL LOVE!

Oh, my friends there was so much love in that room that morning.

I floated out and am still airborne.  More and more I do not recognize the world around me. But on that morning in Berkshire Music school , students of a certain age were following their dreams and, for me, for just that moment in time I remembered, like the t-shirt says, LIFE IS GOOD.

To you, Tracy, Sherri, Bob… THANK YOU.

Love, SJ