- December 2012 -

Other Fein Messes
Chaos Pt 1 - Arbogast & Ross

Poker Party Store

Buy Art's Stuff !

The Elvis Presley Birthday Bash

will be at the Echo, upstairs on Sunset, Tuesday night, January 8, the actual birth date. 6:00 - midnight.

Another Fein Mess
AF Stone’s Monthly
December 2012

‘Round Town

Sept 21 - (Forgot this.) I knew that the Endeavor was going to fly piggyback over L.A. but didn’t take note of it. At 10 am I turned on tv news -- and it was flying west past the Hollywood sign. Hold on, that’s heading toward my house! I ran onto the back porch and saw the back half disappear over my roofline. But it was pretty exciting.

Nov 3 - Phil Alvin sits in with the California Feetwarmers. These very-young guys focus on old music - not 50s and 40s but 20s and 30s. (They ignored the deejay until a Jelly Roll Morton record played.) The Feetwarmers spun off from Captain Jeffrey and his Musical Chumbuckets, who has changed to Captain Jeffrey and the Stagecoach Looters.

Nov 6 - Houseguest Joel Selvin arrived. Not “the man who came to dinner,” he fled early for work reasons, promising to return.

Joel and Jim Dawson, two authors, having a cuppa at Gelson’s Market on Franklin. Photo by author Arthur.

Nov 7 - The annual SXSW meet-n-greet at the Sunset Marquis. Stayed close to Paul Body. (Old folks need to huddle: we may forget where we are.) Saw Shel Talmy holding court, and African singer Alidu joined us for a spell.

Nov 10 - Paul Body’s party was a slam dunk ball.

Nov 11 - Stopped by Valhalla cemetery in North Hollywood and visited Ollie.

Nov 12 - Stopped in at Atomic Records in Burbank to visit Allen Larman, when owner XXX told my passenger Skip Heller that he’d just thrown several boxes of postwar 78s in the trash. Skip lit out for the dumpster like a road runner. After an hour I drove him and his nearly 200 records home.

Nov 17 - Attended the memorial for Cleve Duncan of the Penguins at Cavalry Baptist Church. Sat with girlfriend Diane, and Billy Vera. Charles Wright 1 and Jeanette Baker were among the speakers, though announced pallbearer Jewel Aikins was not present. The preacher wore on a bit, but the joyful blasts by the 30-voice chorus with organ, drum and bass was as heavenly as intended. (I did not attend the post-burial Repast, and missed out on meeting the Blossoms and other LA artists.)

The Peeks

Go Betty Go

Nov 18 - Visited harried poet John Tottenham at his post at Stories book store. Dropped in to Viva Cantina and caught a bit of the acoustic ensemble The Hot Club of California, then the nouveau-punks the Peeks featuring “Giuliano,” Lisa and Kip Kinman’s kid (some sentimental slam-dancing was done, albeit briefly, as diners were near), and then got a taste of Go Betty Go, a girl band of mixed influences.

Nov 20 - Houseguest Selvin spoke, with co-writer John R. Johnson, at Book Soup.

It’s great to live in L.A.!

Carl Reiner pauses for one autograph in his egress.

Nov 20 - After Book Soup, Diane and me went to the New Bev to catch the rest of the Dick Van Dyke film “The Comic” at its special screening, and to hear the Q&A after the film with stars Van Dyke and Michele Lee and Carl Reiner. Unfortunately we guessed wrong: the Q&A was held before the film. But we enjoyed the movie.

Nov 22 We dined with the swells at Mary Katherine Aldin’s final Hollywood Thanksgiving gathering. After living 40 years there, her apartment’s being torn down.

Nov 25 Went with Mary Katherine and Jim Dawson to Huntington Hospital in Pasadena to visit just out-of-ICU patient Ian Whitcomb, whose had the good fortune of having a stroke Nov 23 just two blocks from a fine hospital. The quickness of the treatment might have saved his life.

Nov 27 To Viva to see out-of-towner Nikki Hill fronting her husband Ron Ziubla’s rocking band, later joined by Big Sandy and Deke Dickerson.

Packed to the rafters, rockin’ past midnight.

Nov 28 Seeing Chuck E. Weiss at the Piano Bar. Only the greatest show on earth, monthly.

1 Wright gave a downbeat speech about how Frankie, Fabian etc were untalented but still working while Cleve had to work in a factory, and said he went to see The Flamingos in east L.A. “and they were white!” That may be true, but you’ll have to look far and wide to find young black kids who want to do vocal-group harmony!

Changing times

"Party," by Jessie Mae Robinson.
Sung by Elvis in 'Loving You’ --

I never kissed a bear,
I never kissed a 'coon,
but I can shake a chicken in the middle of the room.

Of course, 'coon was short for raccoon. Wanda Jackson's version changed it, and another line: so did the Collins Kids’.

Another line was equally rural - “Everybody come and taste the possum papa shot.”

Metrolyrics thinks the last two words are "pasta parmesan."


Most of the obits for Andy Williams had ‘Moon River’ in the hed or lede. Jerry Butler had the hit, which was used in the movie ‘Breakfast At Tiffany’s.’ Andy’s recording, if it was a single, didn’t chart, but he sang it as the theme to his TV show ... Watched “Don’t Look Back,” the docu about Bob Dylan’s 1965 UK tour. Seeing it in the 60s it felt like a dark, ugly, shaky-camera look at a wise-ass guy surrounded by sycophants. Seeing it again confirmed that memory... I turn the sound down whenever the national anthem - er, God Bless America - is sung before a Dodger game. I suppose they audition people before they’re put in front of 50,000 people, but the squeaking and wailing is often awful. On the other hand, Tower of Power’s Lenny Williams’ rendition before a World Series game was a grand slam home run ... Veteran LA entertainer Troy Walker suffered a stroke November 22, but is expected to be back at Viva Cantina the first Wensday in December ... I cringed hearing, on a PBS Broadway lookback, that Carol Channing performed “Hello Dolly” in 1965 for troops in Viet Nam. As if the 19- and 20- year-olds there weren’t already glum ... My friend placed his songs with Getty. They put them in tv shows. One earned $700 in a cable network show and he got 30% of it. (Getty recently reduced the split from 50/50) ... On the PBS Bwy docu they showed a still from “Hair” with two girls and a guy who is clearly Joe Butler from the Lovin’ Spoonful. Who knew? ...


Like most readers of this column I was listening to Rudy “Tootie” Grayzell’s version of “Duck Tail” the other day, but this time it stirred a reverie 2.

It’s a song about a haircut, but also about rebellion -- a haircut that was illegal in the mid-1950s.

It was an easy do. You ran your comb straight back on both sides til your (well-greased) hair met. That juncture resembled, to some, a duck’s rear - and to others it was a crime. (Well, you wouldn’t be arrested for it, but once you were they’d add a few years to your sentence.)

Rudy excitedly free-associates in this song, expounding about shooting rabbits and urging 50’s saint Miss Clawdy not to jump a fence. He also probably has no idea what a ducktail haircut is, because he frequently pluralizes it.

This coif and the music style were both teen-oriented, but he was in his 30s. He sounds like he’s about 90.

(Album pic is of Sonny “Pink Cadillac” Fisher)

2 Comes to mind the Japanese version of the Johnny & The Hurricanes song, “Reverie Rock.”

The truth

When we encounter what we suspect or believe we’re apt to think “The truth, at last.”

I haven’t read Jim Sullivan’s new Michael Jackson book, just a review, but it echoes what I’ve maintained all along: that he was a regressed or perpetual child who liked boys, as friends.

“Oh sure, uh huh” is the 100% response to that attitude, but I have always held it. “Penetration,” if you will, is medically measurable and we’ve never heard this cited. A pre-sexual or asexual adult sleeping in the same bed as his friends, as Sullivan maintains, is weird and unconventional but not impossible. The Culkin kid shrugs whenever asked about it, saying “Nothing funny went on, we were just his friends.”

It’s possible, and finally someone has suggested it.

Local News

Everyone knows the Capitol Tower, the 13 story circular bldg that opened in 1956. It’s less widely known that developers want to flank it with two multi-use towers, one 40-story, to its east and west.


If successful, maybe they next can bookend that tower in Pisa. It’s crooked -- new towers would spiff it up.


That there is something called outsider art makes the mind reel ... “Mistress” is being thrown around, re that general, 3 like it’s 1912 ... And you learn something every day, or I do: the adulteration in adultery refers to the weakening of the family consanguinity when others’ DNA enters the bloodline ... Who put a U in “glamor”? I lived a long while in America before this particular pretensiation .... Nov 7, Anthee Carassava in the LATimes writes that Greece hopes that slashing its deficit will “jump-start” its economy. Does anyone today know what a jump-start is? It’s not jumping, like with your legs. It’s taking power from another source and applying it. Cutting services and increasing tax isn’t supplying power ... Has ever there been a headline as cliched as “An Arena as Tough as Brooklyn Needs Street Smarts Too” in the 11-4 NYTimes? ... Whither “Black Friday”? It wasn’t here five years ago. What’s black, i.e. dire, threatening etc. about it besides the chance of getting trampled? It’s coarse and ugly ... I heard “I kid you not” in ‘The Caine Mutiny.’ I thought that was a Jack Paar coinage ... Warning for the movie ‘The Pool’ - “strong coarse language.” In Punjab! It’s an Indian movie ... The History Channel thing on industrialists was packed with weird qualifiers like “He died just one month short of his 76th birthday.” If only he’d made 76! Likewise, “four short years” and “just 45 years after the end of the Civil War.” What about “just 88 years after the War of 1812”? It’s false drama.

3One thing I do know is that guys who look like Petreaus are not generally (...) fighting off women. Power powers women’s heads to turn, some of them.

Fools for all

When John McCain said on tv that the Libyan murders were the worst intelligence failure he’d seen in his life, my jaw dropped. 9-11 was an intelligence triumph!

When Afghan Muslims destroyed ancient Buddha statues a few years ago I thought those particular Muslims, not all, were dogmatic assholes. Otherwise I’d’ve had to condemn Christianity for the actions of 19th century British soldiers in Egypt who burned mummies for train fuel and shot the face of the Sphinx to pieces.

In May I had to laugh at Bill O’Reilly’s “I guess it’s just a coincidence that Earth Day is Lenin’s birthday.” He’s no comedian, but quite the clown. After the election he held up a picture of a popular 50s tv show family and said, with Rip Van Winkle urgency, “The days of Leave It To Beaver are over.” Nobody does it goofier.


From Wash DC, it took Brian Bennett and Laura J. Nelson to come up with this in the 8-14 LAT: “The law enforcement official refused to speculate” (they are peeved that he wouldn’t blue-sky) was followed by “(he) spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the case.” Summary? An unnamed person said nothing, a man bites no one. A good way to get the word-count up.


During the first days after the East Coast storm, a tv mike wielder interviewed a driver who said someone had just cut in front of him in the long gas line. I would have loved for that newsman to pay him to ram the guy. It would delight everyone with a car ... I picked up Vanity Fair at a doctors office and it had pictures of vain people at parties, an article about someone’s loft in Tribeca, ads for a ‘daring’ new Revlon line and fashion articles. It’s too hard to paw through this swill to get to the vaunted writing ... A tv feature about the least hygienic places on an airplane cited toilets, dinner trays, etc but the lulu was the seat pocket in front of you - where people shove trash and used kleenex ! ... A guy in New Jersey cries, re the destruction of a coastal amusement park, “A piece of my childhood is gone.” If he’s over 12 years old, all of it should be gone.


There was a time when sighting a new Trader Joe’s was a thrill ... I watched a History Channel series about 19th Century industrialists. Henry Ford alone was a classic capitalist. Ford’s cars sold first at $800, then when costs dropped through manufacturing innovations he dropped the price to $400. There’s a business model that went out with the Model T ... Nationwide business models can screw things up locally, like insisting a Sears in Hawaii stock snow tires. When CVS invaded here, our converted drugstore locations retained a single checkout line to all clerks, but the main office objected that this was not their policy - in Rhode Island. Also comes to mind IKEA, when new here, priced ice cream cones at $1.18 because somewhere in America that worked out to a neat $1.25. In Burbank it came to $1.26, causing long delays in lines and penny shortages. (They have dropped to a neat dollar.)


One of our morning TV news shows has hired a second pretty gal in her 20s - from New York, thank goodness. First time I tuned in, a song was playing and the two chicklets had their hands up, wriggling in rhythm. Just like Huntley and Brinkley ... It seemed like all news outlets DEMANDED you go to stores for Black Friday. They beat that drum in anticipation, at the opening and the next morning. Then Independent Store Saturday. Then Cyber Monday. Tuesday started a barrage of reports about a Powerball drawing (in another state) and interviewed people standing in line (in another state). Same for the newspapers - Powerball is paying off big (not here), next day the numbers were drawn but nobody’s claimed it (yet) - then the winners were surprised (dog bites man!) - and the LATimes 4 had a big color photo of the clerk who sold the winning ticket in Arizona! Along with the regular “Stores want Xmas Sales” and “Starbucks invents a new coffee drink” the paper is nothing but a billboard. The powers dangle bright shiny objects and people strain for them.

4 This shocking November 11 Sunday LATimes front page boggles the mind. Sensational NY Post style headline. Are news stand sales so crucial they have to wave this fresh meat at passerby? Horrifying.

Music reporting

When will it end. Nov 15 NYT hed, “One Direction: Riding the Boy Band Wave While It Lasts,” tops a predictable and dreary sneer from troubled “real” guy Jon Caramanica. It’s the perennial insult to teen bands by angry, just post-teen (mentally) music crits. There were, are, and always will be teen bands for teens. Stop writing about it, unless to consider its effectiveness. It’s tuney and clean-cut and attractive and aimed at an audience that refreshes every couple of years. Put down your poison pens, now ain’t the time for your tears ... I had to laff Nov 15 at the jump hed on the LATimes review of Gary Clark Jr that called his local appearance “a star-making turn.” That echoes many years of LA reporters proclaiming, as Hilburn did so often about bands who played other cities first, that playing L.A. would be their big test, meaning “Their value wasn’t known til I saw them” ... The only rock & roll reports in a recent edition of the LATimes Calendar featured Pete Townshend, Neil Young, David Byrne and Patti Smith. That’s like featuring Kay Kyser, Glenn Miller, Harry James and Kate Smith in the 1970s ... In the LATimes one day, Randy Randy Roberts seared the happy and popular (two nights, Hollywood Bowl) Mumford & Sons, averring that the band’s songs “lack not only wit or bite but also the kind of literary detail that turns a decent songwriter into a great one.” Perhaps they will consult He-Who-Knows before making their next record ... Nov 7 Roberts reviewing the Leonard Cohen show cites his “hand-tailored suit.” How does Roberts know this? He can see a seam and name it? ... I mentioned “Chuck E’s In Love” to a 42-year-old gal and she hemmed (hawed?) a little saying “I think I’d know it if I heard it.” Then I realized she was 8 when it came out.

Music Again

When the above song by Memphis Minnie came up on my iPod I stopped dead, it was so terrific. Why don’t I listen to things before I put them on the contraption!

That sent me on a quest to find whether anyone else ever heard of this song - and found ten versions on youtube. The one below is heavenly.


LA Times

What space shortage? Fewer articles, fewer pages, yet the editors pad away. A rape occurred on a city bus. To support this 11-10 story, a photog was sent out to record

1.) the view from the drivers window of an intersection where the rape, behind him and out of his view, did NOT happen (it was in the bus, not in the street, with the vehicle in motion) unless it happened, in total, during a 30-second stoplight, and

2.) a picture of a bus, not necessarily the one involved.

This took up 34 column-inches that could have housed another story.

The NY Times ran an obit for Cleve Duncan of the Penguins Nov. 15th. The LATimes did not report the L.A. death til Saturday the 17th. However, the indictment of the man who just confessed to killing Etan Patz (?) in NY (!!) in 1969 (!!!) was reported in both papers - thanks to our not-at-all-superfluous NY reporter Tina Susman. (L.A. readers: Has that case been on YOUR mind for 43 years?) .

The LATimes hed proclaiming music fans “now have an alternative to Sunset Strip music clubs” (I guess it was against the law to attend others) set readers wondering where the new action was: Monrovia? Torrance? Whew - the new ‘action’ is three blocks to the east ... Xenophobia rears its head in August Brown’s 11-10 review of Cat Powers when he writes that she “lives in Miami now and the album sounds like it --- bold artifice barely concealing an inner loneliness and melancholy.” I don’t know whether I should be sad that those feelings pervade Miami or happy that LA is free of them.

The closing of Campanile restaurant, covered elsewhere in the LATimes by a tear-drenched Jonathan Gold ‘obit,’ was given news stature 9-21 (one of only three newsworthy items in ‘California” that day) but dodged the lead. While ”the prolific restaurateur” and “critically acclaimed chef” are big news to star-struck Betty Hallock, the fact that the guy who didn’t renew their lease was one of the principles’ FORMER father-in-laws did not stir her dormant reportorial curiosity.


Ya know what drives me nuts?

Questions like that -

from people who ask you if you already know what they’re about to say. An acquaintance begins EVERY anecdote with “Do you know what so-and-so (usually a namedrop) said?”

I sit perfectly still. I do not respond.
It’s conversational bullying and I’m not gonna take it.

A Yank, eatin’

I ate more ‘Jewish’ food as a kid than I do now. It’s no surprise there’s been no “foodie” rush on gefilte fish.

Rye bread 5 though, has been a mystery. Deli rye bread matches my memory of it, unlike the kind sold in markets. At the place I go on Tuesdays I started ordering untoasted rye with breakfast and swooned at the thick soft pillowy grey stuff they served. Mama mia, that’s rye bread! I ordered a loaf at their deli and was given yellowish thin-sliced bread. No resemblance.

The next week I repeated the breakfast order, got the same ambrosia. This time I asked the counter guy what gives.

“Oh, the round stuff? That’s just for restaurant orders.” Huh?
“We make it twice a day.”
But you don’t sell it.
“No. It’s double baked, and it dries out real quick.”
So can I buy some?
“It’s 50 cents a slice or ten dollars for a loaf. You want to pay that much?”

I froze it, and now sprinkle it lightly with water before putting it in the toaster. It’s a subtle operation, catching it before toasting, but worthwhile. (I don’t do the microwave thing. I’m radiant enough already.)

5 Delis in Chicago routinely, automatically, always put a basket of kaiser rolls, bagels, rye bread etc. on your table when you are seated. You begin with a warm welcome and leave with a wide waddle.

Post (no-longer-apart) um

Mom gave me Postum when I asked for coffee. I knew it was a switch, but I kinda liked it. When in the mid-80s too much coffee gave my tummy ulcerlike symptoms I quit, but I had Postum to fall back on. They sold packets of a hundred at Smart & Final. They served it at Musso & Franks.

Then came the 1990s. Most Postum consumers were born around the time Postum was, 1910, 6. Couldn’t get the packets, just the jars. And in 2009. suddenly, without notice, the jars were gone. The company gave up.

I despaired. Furrin coffee substitutes at health food stores were phooey. I got two Postum jars for Christmas in 2010 - at $40 each. (2009 price, $6.) Now a new company found me (!!!) to say Postum was back, and are charging $11.95 a jar. I leapt at it. Never can tell when it’ll go south again.

6 It was the gold standard, the Cadillac of the Post empire. First came Postum, then the cereals!!

Old, meet new.

Bullets that meet in mid-air

* Last Fall I saw Paul leaving Amoeba Records as I came in. He was wearing a blue button down shirt and tan chinos. As he neared me he went “Ouch!,” and waved the finger he’d just cut on a case-edge. The next day at Amoeba I again saw Paul approaching me at the same location. He was dressed the same, and as he swung by he caught his finger on the case-edge again and it bled. Maybe it was Groundhog Day.

* In 1991, an Information operator gave me a number for another business with a similar name. I phoned back and an operator said “What state?” I recognized her voice and said “That number you gave me was wrong.”

She said “What! You got ME again? There are thousands of us here. This is amazing!”

Good Luck smiles on me

I have an aura that makes bad things rarely dire.
Being alive is one proof, and here’s another.

One Thursday night in 1996 I parked the ‘82 Toyota 7 on the street in front of our apartment on El Cerrito Place 8 in Hollywood. Next morning, no car.

Damn. I filed a report with the police, without much hope: Toyotas, like Hondas - then, like now - are popular with people who recirculate auto parts.

Monday I got a call from the El Monte Police, about 20 miles away. “We have your car. Come pick it up.”

“Is it in one piece?” I asked, figuring the steering wheel was gone, the seats, etc.

“Oh yes, it’s fine. The radio is still there too.”

“It IS?” I said. I made him repeat it.

I got a ride to El Monte and signed some papers.

“The thieves must have wanted a ride home, and then just parked it in a towaway zone” the policeman said.

“No, they had it longer than a night” I said.

How do you know that?

“There was no radio in it when they stole it.”

It had had a pullout radio, which was in the house. The crooks installed their own, which was probably stolen too.

I wrote about this to LATimes columnist Steve Harvey and he printed it. That spurred Channel 9 to send out a tv crew to interview me. Standing next to the car I repeated the punch line I’d sent the columnist -

“I wish they’d kept it another week and put on new tires.”

7 Another $200 car, this one from Todd Everett after he inherited a 1995 Mercury.

8 The title of a Kenny Chesney hit, the street is one block long, all apartments. No swells unless they’re in deep cognito or self-denial.

Way To Go

Occasionally I am awed by a stage name.
This time it was an obit, on FB, for Drew Blood.

- 57 -

Mark On The Move
During his short time as a member of The Monkees and afterward, Michael Nesmith made no secret of his ambivalence about being in a middlebrow pop group constructed artificially for television to combine “A Hard Day’s Night” and the Marx Brothers.  He’d worn a knit hat to his audition and then got stuck with it as his goofy emblem for the show (fellow Monkee Peter Tork may have been stuck with the “dumb” personality, but that hat made the lanky Nesmith the show’s Jughead anyway).  As the best musician in the group, Nesmith immediately chafed at the difficulties of getting his own songs on albums full of outside songwriting talent (Goffin & King, Harry Nilsson, Neil Diamond, Boyce & Hart etc.).  Until a group rebellion before the recording of the “Headquarters” album, the group were rarely allowed to play their own instruments on sessions (the super-talented Wrecking Crew and auxilliary took care of those chores).  Nesmith already had songwriting success before the Monkees TV show launched; his “Different Drum” (a hit for The Stone Poneys) was audacious lyrically and complex melodically, hitting the right combination of country feel and hippie langour.  His talent was coiled up and his irritation sometimes evident, no more so than when the group produced their film “Head” to blow up the Monkees “myth” in public.
Nesmith was the only one who had a truly distinguished post-Monkees musical career (it didn’t hurt that family money had long given him the backstop for experimentation and ambition), so while the Monkees “revived,” did albums and toured, he opted out.  Nesmith became one of the pioneers of country-rock (high-quality stuff with The First National Band etc., but without much commercial success) and through his Pacific Arts label was crucial in the development of home video and MTV.  He was always busy, but not always noticeable. 
When Monkees frontman-heartthrob Davy Jones passed away in early 2012, Michael changed his mind and joined Micky Dolenz and Tork for his first tour as a Monkee in decades.  Despite my feeling that Nesmith was giving too little too late, I wanted to be there to see how it all came out on stage.  Their show in Santa Barbara at the Arlington Theatre was only the second on the schedule, and there were several not-quite-together moments, but I thought it was damn good.  The setlist and Nesmith’s involvement definitely showed an agenda:  to give evidence that The Monkees were not a frivolous endeavor, built to appeal to teenage girls, but rather a group that competed musically with The Beatles, The Kinks, Bee Gees, The Byrds and other more respected sixties institutions.  So there was no performance of the TV show theme song (“Hey-hey! We’re the Monkees!”) but plenty of deep-catalog oddities like “Daily Nightly” (one of the first tracks to use Moog synthesizer), all the relevant experimental-psychedelic tunes from “Head,” Dolenz’s B-side homage to Mose Allison “Goin’ Down,” and Nesmith gems like “Tapioca Tundra” and “Listen to the Band.”
Augmented by additional musicians and background vocalists, Tork and Dolenz carried the weight in terms of stage presence, banter, and audience engagement while Nesmith mostly stood quietly between songs with a bemused expression, clutching his 12-string guitar.  He was in the best voice (maybe because he hasn’t used it much over the years?), singing “Sweet Young Thing,” “Papa Gene’s Blues” and his other terrific contributions to Monkees albums.  For some of the songs most associated with Davy, Nesmith, Tork and Dolenz left the stage and projected footage of Jones performing them.  Near the end of the two-hour show, Dolenz asked the audience to sing “Daydream Believer” in tribute to Davy, which was a sweet moment.  I knew people in the audience who were befuddled by the inclusion of so many lesser-known songs when some hits (like “Valleri”) were missing.  I enjoyed myself a lot, although there was a lingering sadness that the full four-vocalist line-up didn’t tour for all those years.
A few days after The Monkees, I saw Barbra Streisand at The Hollywood Bowl, and she put on a great show that only slightly showed the wear-and-tear on her voice.  I love the way she phrases, and invests lyrics with that “just-thought-of-it” illusion.  She’d designed this “Back to Brooklyn”-themed program with lots of video projections (home movies, a film by her son Jason, who also sang a couple songs) and talk about her career.  The Italian light-opera boy-band Il Volo had their own solo section, as did trumpeter Chris Botti, to give Barbra time to rest her voice and change clothes; they were pleasant enough but didn’t add or detract a lot from the evening.  During some back-and-forth with Botti, Streisand remarked that she’s only done about 90 concerts total since 1963, due to decades of stagefright.  She’s such a commanding presence in the music world, I wasn’t aware that her live performances are so rare.  No wonder she could sell out the Bowl for two nights in a flash, with the nosebleed tickets (where I was) going for $100.
Streisand’s song choices were excellent, combining the expected hits with some suprises.  She began with “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever,” included a Jules Styne medley “Rose’s Turn/Some People/Don’t Rain On My Parade,” an achingly beautiful “Come Rain or Come Shine,” a juicy version of Jimmy Webb’s “Didn’t We” and a joyful “Here’s To Life.”  Even songs that I was previously indifferent to, like “Evergreen” and “The Way He Makes Me Feel,” revealed new depths with Streisand’s live intensity.  The encores were “Happy Days Are Here Again/Get Happy” (sung with her sister Roslyn!) and “Some Other Time,” which had me smiling sadly, wondering if there in fact would ever be another chance for me to see Streisand sing in person.  I live in hope.

-- Mark Leviton
(Mark’s sixties-themed radio show Pet Sounds can be heard alternate Wednesdays 10pm-Midnight PST on KVMR-FM 89.5 in the Sacramento area and streaming at www.kvmr.org )

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