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The Midnight Ramble

21 Apr

This past Thursday – April 19, 2012 – was a very sad day.

The day Mr. Levon Helm lost his battle with cancer.

The Los Angeles Times ran a very nice obituary on Friday…

“…his approach to music throughout his life was “The W.S. Walcott Medicine Show,” an ode to the kind of freewheeling gatherings in which the musician, who died of cancer Thursday at 71 in New York, thoroughly reveled.

When your arms are empty, got nowhere to go

Come on out and catch the show

There’ll be saints and sinners you’ll see losers and winners

All kinds of people you might want to know”

…while reading it I was taken back a few years – to May 2008, in fact.

To my experience at Levon’s Midnight Ramble.

From the Ramble’s website:

“A gracious host, Levon invites you to his home studio in Woodstock, N.Y… Inside “The Barn,” which is really a large recording studio attached to Levon’s home, you’ll see a stage, a cozy fireplace and plenty of seating. The ambiance of the place will give you a feeling that is personal and intimate, casual and friendly, and you know you are about to be part of something very special.”

Very special, indeed!

I went with my music pals, M&E, to Woodstock for a Ramble.

Here’s the outside of the “Barn”:

And here are my pals, next to the sign that is the very bane of my existence:

“No Cameras” – how I HATE those words!

I knew that was the rule of the Ramble, so I didn’t take with me my good camera. I took along a little point and shoot – in case it was confiscated, or in case I was told to leave it in the car. And even though I got inside with it, I didn’t dare try to take any pictures during the show.

We were seated so close to Levon, that M (who was seated on the aisle) might have stretched out and touched the drum kit, if he had wanted to!

The Ramble was AWESOME. Levon seemed to have the energy of a 30-year old man, and his nonstop grin lit up the room. The band was tight and incredible and everyone was having a blast – especially the players. Especially the audience.

Especially Froggy.

Froggy was excited about having his picture taken with a couple of the Helmland Security men.

I was kind of hoping to loosen them up so I could sneak a picture or two.

(Now, I totally get it. No one wants flashes during a show, or people standing to to take pictures. But does a discreet snap or two really hurt anyone?)

No, I didn’t take any pictures during that magical performance. But here are a couple I grabbed as the players were leaving the room.

Daughter Amy Helm waving from the drum kit:

And here, you can see a bit more of the barn, and of the upstairs loft:

I always meant to go see another Ramble. It didn’t really occur to me that time was so fleeting…

I am proud to have this Elliott Landy original photograph hanging on my wall:

Isn’t it remarkable and bitterly sad that those three charming, handsome, talented young men on the left are no longer rambling around on this Earth??

Thankfully their music will live on forever and forever.

I know some of us are in The Helm camp – some in The Robertson camp – when it comes to The Last Waltz and the bitter feud that followed… I am simply in The Band camp.

Happy, thankful to have photographs to gaze upon, movies to watch, music in my soul, memories to cherish… I close today with:




My Little Dill-Weed’s Birthday Today!

14 Apr

Yes, once again the day has come – April 14th. This day in history: the Titanic struck the iceberg, and the day my sister’s youngest child was born.

Dyl is 21 years old today!

How did he ever go from this:

to this:

“Those awkward years have hurried by, why did they fly away?

Why is it Sir, children grow up to be people one day?

What takes the place of climbing trees, and dirty knees in the world outside?

What is there for you I can buy?

If you wanted the world I’d surround it with a wall.

I’d scrawl these words with letters ten feet tall: To Sir, With Love.”

Happy, HAPPY 21st Birthday, Dylan!!! Hugs, hugs, hugs and more hugs!

(Lyrics from “To Sir With Love” by Don Black and Mark London – one of my favorite movies of all time!)




The Saga Of Seeing “War Horse”

29 Dec

Hubby and I celebrated my birthday by eating at our favorite Mexican restaurant Mi Nidito and seeing the new Steven Spielberg film “War Horse”.

Hubby generally doesn’t like seeing movies on The Big Screen.

First of all, it ain’t cheap. Here in NYC, the adult ticket price is $13.00 pp.

And, why are the previews so LOUD?

Also, sadly for Hubby, I like to arrive early to get good seats. That means a lot of “pre-show entertainment” – which means endless sub-par shorts and painful auto-tuned recordings.

People around you talking on their cell phones, munching popcorn in your ears, and rocking your seat.

And, despite you getting there early for the prime seats, there are many late-comers who jostle through in the dark and ask that you move OUT of your prime seats so that they can squeeze in.

Regardless, I happen to like movies on The Big Screen, and Hubby accommodated me for my BDay.

He even let me take his picture at the Star Wars display.

I wanted to see War Horse. I’m a sucker for animal films.

Plus, I like Steven Spielberg films, generally speaking. After all,

who can argue with this track record?

I didn’t read anything about the film before seeing War Horse.

Here are some things that I think would be good to know about the story, if you plan on seeing the film.

From Wikipedia:

Michael Morpurgo wrote the 1982 children’s novel War Horse after meeting World War I veterans in the Devon village of Iddesleigh where he lived. One had been with the Devon Yeomanry, and was involved with horses; another veteran in his village, Captain Budgett, was with the cavalry and told Morpurgo how he had confided all his hopes and fears to his horse.

Both told him of the horrific conditions and loss of life, human and animal, during the Great War. A third man remembered the army coming to the village to buy horses for the war effort: horses were used for cavalry, and as draught animals, pulling guns, ambulances and other vehicles.

Morpurgo researched the subject further and learned that a million horses died on the British side; he extrapolated an overall figure of 10 million horse deaths on all sides.

Of the million horses that were sent abroad from the UK, only 62,000 returned, the rest dying in the war or slaughtered in France for meat.”

Wow. Just wow.

You think about the men lost in war; I hadn’t ever thought about the War Horses in World War I.

(I need to ask my Father or my Uncle about my Grandfather’s involvement in The Great War. Here he is circa 1917, when he was about 19 years old.)

But back to the film, and the horses.

Wikipedia says:

Representatives of the American Humane Society were on set at all times to ensure the health and safety of all animals involved, and the Society awarded the film an “outstanding” rating for the care that was taken of all the animals during the production.”

Good to know. Some of the scenes are rather hard to watch. This information is good to know going into the theatre.

An animatronic horse was used for some parts of the scenes with barbed wire; the wire was rubber prop wire.”

Hubby and I both cried a lot through this movie. We’re both suckers that way.

During filming fourteen different horses were used as the main horse character Joey, eight of them portraying him as an adult animal, four as a colt and two as foals; four horses played the other main equine character, Topthorn. Up to 280 horses were used in a single scene. A farrier was on set to replace horseshoes sucked off in the mud during filming, and the horses playing the main horse characters had a specialist equine make-up team, with their coats dyed and markings added to ensure continuity.”

Spielberg is quoted as saying “The horses were an extraordinary experience for me. I was really amazed at how expressive horses are and how much they can show what they’re feeling.”

I liked the movie. Maybe not Spielberg’s best, but it certainly got me thinking a lot about the War Horses of WWI.

A documentary inspired by the film and telling the true-life stories of horses sent from the UK to the battlefields of World War I is planned. The play and film versions of War Horse are credited with renewing interest in the equine charity, the Brooke Trust, which was founded in 1930 to aid old World War I war horses.”

Now, after reading all of this, I just might want to see this movie again.

Hubby probably won’t.

Oh, that $13.00 adult ticket price?

The ticket seller took one look at Hubby and me, and automatically charged us the $9.50 Senior price each.

That almost hurt more than watching the barbed wire scene.



An Angel’s Voice (And P.S – Your Santa Tracker!)

24 Dec

When I’m worried and I can’t sleep
I count my blessings instead of sheep
And I fall asleep counting my blessings
When my bankroll is getting small
I think of when I had none at all
And I fall asleep counting my blessings

I think about a nursery and I picture curly heads
And one by one I count them as they slumber in their beds
If you’re worried and you can’t sleep
Just count your blessings instead of sheep
And you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings

I think about a nursery and I picture curly heads
And one by one I count them as they slumber in their beds
If you’re worried and you can’t sleep
Just count your blessings instead of sheep
And you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings

(composer/songwriter : Irving Berlin / Publishers : Irving Berlin Ltd.)
from the 1954 movie “White Christmas”



P.S. Today and tonight you can track Santa’s progress across the globe here!

Happy Everything, everyone.

From Lord & Taylor’s holiday windows:

Harry Potter And Snape – Together Again??

14 Dec

Here’s a crazy thought – could it be that Harry Potter and Severus Snape are ducking into a local Manhattan pub – huddling together over glasses of Firewhiskey and catching up on old times?

It may not be such a crazy thought, after all.

Harry – er, Daniel Radcliffe – is currently performing on Broadway in How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying at the Al Hirschfeld Theater at West 45th Street and 8th Avenue (West side of 8th Ave.)

and Snape – I mean Alan Rickman – is now performing in Seminar at the John Golden Theater at West 45th Street and 8th Avenue (East side of 8th Ave.)

How could it be that these two actors DON’T get together once in a while, before or after their shows?? After all, they are working together almost right next door, day after day, 7-8 shows per week.

Maybe even for a Butterbeer?

That’s a sight that I would die to see.


Maybe we should start hanging out evenings at the local pubs  🙂

Better yet – go see the two actors performing in the plays!

We’re running out of time; Daniel Radcliffe is leaving the show on January 1, 2012. He’s been getting great reviews. It would be fun to see this play in the couple weeks we have left – maybe his final performance?

Alan Rickman (*LOVE*)

I must get a ticket to see Seminar – which is getting rave reviews.

Did I mention that I love Alan Rickman?

I loved him in the movie Galaxy Quest.

And, of course, Snape was my favorite character in all of the Harry Potter books and movies.

But the thought of Harry and Snape together again just makes my heart stand still.

Cheers to old acquaintances.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

From this website, I share their recipe for Butterbeer:


Start to finish: 1 hour (10 minutes active)

Servings: 4

1 cup light or dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons water

6 tablespoon butter

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar

3/4 cup heavy cream, divided

1/2 teaspoon rum extract

Four 12-ounce bottles cream soda

In a small saucepan over medium, combine the brown sugar and water. Bring to a gentle boil and cook, stirring often, until the mixture reads 240 F on a candy thermometer.

Stir in the butter, salt, vinegar and 1/4 heavy cream. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Once the mixture has cooled, stir in the rum extract.

In a medium bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar mixture and the remaining 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Use an electric mixer to beat until just thickened, but not completely whipped, about 2 to 3 minutes.

To serve, divide the brown sugar mixture between 4 tall glasses (about 1/4 cup for each glass). Add 1/4 cup of cream soda to each glass, then stir to combine. Fill each glass nearly to the top with additional cream soda, then spoon the whipped topping over each.






Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers

10 Dec

Haven’t you always loved Dorothy’s ruby slippers from The Wizard Of Oz?

From AMNew York:

The slippers will be available to the highest bidder courtesy of the auction Profiles in History on Dec. 16, but until then, you can check them out at the Solange Azagury-Partridge boutique at 809 Madison Ave.”

According to our friends at Wikipedia:

As was customary for important props, a number of pairs were made for the film, though no one knows exactly how many. Five pairs are known to have survived; one pair was stolen in 2005 and has never been recovered.”

Wow! I want to see these slippers!

But alas, I just phoned the boutique, and was told that the AMNew York story got the dates wrong – the slippers were on display there at the store December 7 & 8, and left yesterday.

The poor saleslady said that today they are getting millions of calls – EVERYBODY wants to see those slippers!

She also told me “They were amazing!”

Which sadly, only made me want to be able to see them more.

But, I just may have to go check out this boutique, even without the slippers.

This article describes the boutique:

Solange Azagury-Partridge is not your run-of-the-mill jewelry shop. Like Alice in Wonderland, I peered through the peephole of the heavy door and discovered a galaxy of dark and mysterious beauty. Designed entirely by Azagury-Partridge herself, the store has ruby red velvet walls twinkling with over 630,000 hand-set Swarovski crystals. It also features a ceiling encrusted with zodiac constellations and the designer’s own limited-edition home furnishings.

The jewelry itself is set inside the walls, enclosed by antique gilded frames and backlit like a glamorous gallery exhibition. Just as the company pioneered new expression for precious jewels, the Solange Azagury-Partridge store has claimed its stake on Madison Ave. with a look that’s totally original.”

If I can’t see Dorothy’s Ruby slippers, at least I can see “ruby red velvet walls twinkling with over 630,000 hand-set Swarovski crystals”.

That sounds like it’s worth a visit to me!



The Big Lebowski Festival (has been) And The Jazz Age Party (coming up)

18 Aug

I’m a little chagrined that I just heard about this event, 2 days after it occurred.

From the website:

Lebowski Fest is a celebration of all things related to the 1998 Coen brothers cult comedy, “The Big Lebowski.” Fans of the film (aka “Achievers”) come from far and wide to drink white Russians, throw some rocks and party with an array of Dudes, Walters and Maudes (not to mention a nihilist or two). It’s a two-day party that typically opens with live performances and screening of the film the first night and concludes with a raucous bowling party the following night.”

Did you go? I’d love to hear any reports about it!

If you’re in Los Angeles, there’s a Lebowski Festival taking place there on September 23-24.

I’ve made reference to “The Big Lebowski” before. If you haven’t been to the NYC store The Little Lebowski Shop, you REALLY must check it out.

Now, on to something I must give you a heads-up about:

This weekend (August 20-21), on New York City’s Governor’s Island, The Jazz-Age Lawn Party.

Not to be missed!

They held a jazz-age party earlier this summer, which I attended and LOVED. Here’s my report about it. The costumes are fantastic, the music is fantastic, the FREE ferry ride to the island is fantastic. You can take a picnic, or purchase food there.

If the weather is decent, I say “Get Ye To Governor’s Island This Weekend!”

If you purchase tickets in advance here, it’s just $7.00 per person. On the island on Saturday or Sunday, tickets are $10.00 per person. (Kids under 12 are admitted for free.)

A bargain!




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