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Dad was always about 47, give or take a decade. It’s like Willie Mays was always 30 to me. When I see those pictures or that stringbean of a young man, that wasn’t my father (and he was not yet my father, for most of that time). And in early days, I don’t recall that much.

Les Green had a lot of different jobs, including floral arranger, sign painter and singer/guitarist. But for six years or so, he worked at IBM, driving these electric trucks around, moving material from place to place. It was at night, so we seldom saw Dad, except on weekends. This was the period our mom would take us to W.T. Grant’s almost every Friday night to have the all-you-can-eat fish.

Still, we did see him on weekends Read the rest of this entry »

Masekela, Makeba 1964

Masekela, Makeba 1964

When I was trying to explain to someone what song I was trying to identify – it turned out to be Soulful Strut by Young-Holt Unlimited – more than one person took my description (soulful, horn-driven) and came to the conclusion the song I was thinking of was Grazing in the Grass.

It was a reasonable guess.

As it happens, I COULD easily recall the instrumental track Grazing in the Grass by South African performer Hugh Masekela, which was #1 for two weeks on the pop charts, and #1 for four weeks on the soul charts in 1968. It is one of the few songs for which “more cowbell” is NOT necessary.

Masakela had been briefly (1964-1966) married to his countrywoman Miriam Makeba, who I familiar with from her performing with folksinger Harry Belafonte, including on an LP my father owned. She had an unlikely hit with Pata Pata (#12 pop, #7 soul) in 1967.

Masekela and Makeba performed together on Paul Simon’s 1987 Graceland tour throughout South Africa. Miriam Makeba died in 2008, but Hugh Masekela is still with us.

Grazing in the Grass, written by Philemon Hou, was also a vocal hit for a Los Angeles group called The Friends of Distinction, made up of Harry Elston, Jessica Cleaves, Barbara Jean Love, and the late Floyd Butler (d. 1990) in 1969, #3 pop, #5 soul. I can dig it. (All chart action referenced was from the U.S. Billboard charts.)

Listen to

Pata Pata – Miriam Makeba HERE or HERE

Grazing in the Grass – Hugh Masekela HERE or HERE

Grazing in the Grass – The Friends of Distinction HERE or HERE

Requiem for a DreamThe BBC surveyed 177 film critics “from every continent except Antarctica. “For the purposes of this poll we have decided that a list” of the 21st century’s 100 greatest films “should include the year 2000” because the year “was a landmark in global cinema.”

Though I started this blog in 2005, and reviewed many of the films I’ve seen over the years, I wasn’t as detailed in the beginning. Still my reviews will be the items that are hyperlinked. A few movies I am not familiar with I’ve designated DK (don’t know)

Yes there are three films at 100

100. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade, 2016) – DK
100. Requiem for a Dream (Darren Aronofsky, 2000) – saw this in a not-very-crowded theater; at least half of the audience had seen the before. It was astonishing, druggy psychological drama with Jared Leto and Jennifer Connelly. I thought the star, Ellen Burstyn Read the rest of this entry »

Our intern this summer asked me, pretty much out of the blue, whether I believed in existentialism.

I know the textbook definition is: “a philosophical theory or approach that emphasizes the existence of the individual person as a free and responsible agent determining their own development through acts of the will.” But I wanted to know what HE meant.

“How can you have worked in the same job for over 23 years?”

“Because Read the rest of this entry »

The curse of a daily blog is that life sometimes gets in the way. I STILL haven’t written about the rest of the July vacation, which I will eventually do, not for your sake, but for my own. So as a blog cheat, I’m going to note the week that was, now a couple weeks ago.
Before that: Heck, I haven’t mentioned the TWO plays I saw the FIRST weekend in August. The first was All Shook Up at Proctors Theatre in Schenectady , featuring one of my teenage nieces. It was a mix of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and Elvis Presley, and worked surprisingly well.

The other was Into the Woods at the Mac-Hadyn Theatre. With our front-row seats Read the rest of this entry »

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