Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Where are you from?

I initially moved to San Francisco from Philadelphia. Philadelphia was a great town to be ‘from.’ Philadelphia was famous for Benjamin Franklin, Bill Cosby, Joe Frazier, and Noam Chomsky to name a few celebrities. There was also the Philadelphia sound including Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, the Stylistics, and Patti LaBelle and the Bluebells. We were also famous for American Bandstand, Cheesesteaks and Hoagies, South Philly DJs, City Hall, Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and the Betsy Ross house among others.

We moved to Las Vegas in 1982, right after the big fire at the then, MGM Grand Hotel. During the hiatus of the Jubilee show, many of the dancers came to San Francisco to hang out until their show reopened. Several of them suggested that my husband was ‘perfect’ and looked ‘just like Iowa corn.’ (Still not sure whether that was meant to be a compliment.) And he does. Good German stock, slightly chiseled features, blue eyes, blonde hair. That’s how we came to be in Las Vegas. He auditioned for the show at what the show kids called the ‘Cattle Call’ and lined up with all the other wannabe Vegas dancers and, voila, we were moving to Las Vegas.

Rather traumatic for me. He had just moved to San Francisco, I had lived there for almost a decade. He moved there with a friend from the Midwest. I moved to stay with a cousin (whom I didn’t know very well) after my Mother died and I was fleeing the East Coast. He was looking to get into another form of dance (He was a ‘disco king’ in Minnesota.) I was teaching and taking modern and jazz dance classes.

He wanted to dance for a living. I was now pregnant with twins. I didn’t want to leave. I had friends and roots. I had family across the Bay. I resisted.
He came to Las Vegas without me. I tried to stay in San Francisco, and I struggled. He moved to Las Vegas in June, in time for rehearsals as a new member of the cast. I brought the kids and moved in November.

I wasn’t built to be a Vegas dancer. I have a big booty and little boobs, instead of the other way around! I didn’t know what to do with myself here. He had created his own community of friends in the Las Vegas Strip Dance community. I didn’t know anybody. Besides, I had twin boys to take care of.

Initially, I went to all the parties at night. We would take the twins, let everybody ‘ooh’ and ‘aahh’ over them, and then put them to bed at whoever’s house we were in. They were great about it. They became very easy going and adaptable little boys. I went on to have a third son, (thought it might be twins again, but he was just BIG.) I stopped going to the parties. I started taking the twins on local adventures instead. After the birth of my third son, we took him, too.

My Dad always said that you should investigate all the tourist attractions wherever you live. It will give you a feeling of the city’s history and it will give you something to do or recommend when company comes to town. 

I uncovered a variety of activities to do that were not on the strip. We actually learned a lot of Las Vegas history in the process. Since the city has a tendency to subscribe to the notion 'out with the old, in with the new' at the expense of local landmarks, much of that history is gone now.

I have a friend who is a native. She lives 45 miles outside the middle-of-nowhere Northern Nevada. We visited her often and I learned a LOT about all the little cities and towns in the rural areas. I also had the opportunity to work for the local Broadcasters Association. I would take tours with the Executive Director to visit the radio stations in towns that often had as many horses as they had population!

My sons are all grown up now. The twins have each married and have children of their own. My youngest son moved out to Henderson. It is a joy to have three sons that never brought the police to my door, never called for bail money, and never had an angry father appear at my door with a shotgun!


I visit them in various cities where they live. As they each find their own way in the world, what I believe they have each discovered, is that today, Las Vegas is a good town to be ‘from.’

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Playlist

I listened to a music playlist I made quite a while ago and every song took me to a specific time and place in my life. I didn’t realize how powerful music and memory can be. I mean, I understand how songs can remind you of people, places and things; but this took me to not only the circumstances of the songs, but to the reason I chose those songs when I made the playlist!

These songs took me to places that I had forgotten, and then the choice of these songs took me to the time and place in my life that made me want to remember them.

I am not in love by 10CC. It was the year my Mother died. I was wandering around in a daze. I met a guy that Fall, and although I was smitten, he wouldn’t tell me that he loved me. It was our song.

I watched a movie about a choir that were residents of Senior Citizens homes in the Northeast. The movie is called ‘Young@Heart.’ They were singing all kinds of fun, current pop songs. I wasn’t familiar with all the songs, but the movie was great. One day I was listening to the radio and the REAL version of one of their songs came on the radio - Fix You, by Coldplay. I had to pull off the road, the song brought me to tears.  It was a powerful and emotional movie, but until that moment I didn’t realize how it had impacted me. I have both versions.

I used to LOVE the Ally McBeal show. I watched it faithfully for several seasons. After the Robert Downey episode where he leaves her, I stopped watching. Barry White had always been one of my favorite crooners, and when Biscuit and Richard referred to him over and over again as their icon and mentor,  I was thrilled. You’re the First, the Last, My Everything became my theme song for a long time. I sang it to myself all the time.

My very first serious boyfriend that I lived with was a jazz enthusiast. I liked jazz music a lot as well. We were perfection as a couple. A well-oiled machine that worked together in amazing tandem. We bought our first album together, Deodato, and months later acquired a kitten that we named the same. His Pavane for a Dead Princess was one of our favorite songs. I really loved Jeannot. We were too young.

For years I danced in a company in San Francisco. One of my favorite people loved the Grateful Dead. Years later, when the song, The Boys of Summer by Don Henley was released, I thought of her and San Francisco every time I heard the chorus…I saw a Dead Head sticker on a Cadillac, a little voice inside my head said don’t look back, you can never look back…and it made me sad, but it made me smile.

I can’t make you love me by Bonnie Raitt is the story of my life. I had been in love before, I had been loved before. I thought I knew what it was supposed to feel like and look like. I thought being married would be more and better. I didn’t realize it would be this lonely.

Walking in Memphis by Marc Cohn was my introduction to Pandora. I had picked a popular rock icon, and this song came on. I LOVED it. I loved the song, the story, the imagery – all of it. I can completely relate to the scene and the scenario. For this, I am ever grateful to Pandora.


You Gotta Be by Des’ree. This is the song that picks me up out of the doldrums – every time I hit the doldrums! Herald what your Mother said, Read the books your Father read…My Mother and her Mother were incredibly wise women. I learned a lot. My Father was an avid reader. He read everything from torn cover trashy paperbacks to the Bible to Shakespeare to Maya Angelou.

‘Nuff said.