Thursday, June 22, 2017

Too Late Now

We think of Lerner and Lowe as a team, but lyricist Alan Jay Lerner worked with other composers such as Burton Lane on the film Royal Wedding in 1951.  It includes this gem of a song, a memorable contribution to the Great American Songbook, touching lyrics by Lerner and a suitable Burton Lane melancholic melody.  Supposedly, they wrote it over the telephone. 

Although it’s been recorded by many, it’s Judy Garland’s sad rendition I think of as the song was written for her but she dropped out before Royal Wedding was filmed and was replaced by Jane Powell.  This YouTube recording was from her TV show, performed some dozen years later.  It takes on a genuine sadness given the back-story.

Too Late Now
Too late now to forget your smile
The way we cling when we danced awhile
Too late now to forget and go on with someone new

Too late now to forget your voice
The way one word makes my heart rejoice
Too late now to imagine myself away from you

All the things we've dreamed together
I relive when we're apart
All the tender words together
Live on in my heart

How could I ever close the door
And be the same as I was before?
Darling, no, no I can't anymore
It's too late now

My rendition in the “recording studio” of my living room has its technical drawbacks, but I tried to capture the pure simplicity of this wonderful melody.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Sondheim Side by Side with Cecil and Mays

My favorite bass player, David Einhorn, knowing my love of Sondheim, gifted me Our Time, Tommy Cecil and Bill Mays’ incredible jazz interpretation of Sondheim’s work.  As it is indicated as “Volume 2” I was able to find their first CD of Sondheim’s music, appropriately called Side by Side.  I don’t think I’ve ever written a “plug” for anything in this space, but I make an exception for these two CDs. (Amazon carries both.)

Tommy Cecil and Bill Mays

They take the beautiful and frequently complex music of Sondheim to another level (although some of the pieces Sondheim was only the lyricist), probably the most unique jazz pieces I’ve ever heard.  It is an equal partnership between a gifted bassist and pianist.  We’ve seen Bill Mays at the Colony on Palm Beach, intended to go back this year, but learned that the Colony had cancelled his brunch gigs on Sunday, probably due to financial considerations.  He is perhaps one of the best jazz pianists at work today.

No drummer is necessary for this pair. In fact a drummer would interfere with their accomplishment, a unique collaboration of two gifted musicians, their voicing and rhythm just perfect.

Before these two CDs I had collected a series of Sondheim jazz albums by the Terry Trotter Trio, the only such authorized renditions by the great man himself, Stephen Sondheim.  I listen to them frequently but now I’m fixated on the innovative work of Cecil and Mays. Here are the tracks from the two CDs:

Side By Side (Sondheim Duos)

1 Something's Coming 7:09
2 Not While I'm Around 6:25
3 Broadway Baby 8:00
4 Every Day a Little Death 6:10
5 Ballad of Sweeney Todd 4:50
6 Small World 6:52
7 Side By Side By Side 5:27
8 Anyone Can Whistle 6:28
9 Comedy Tonight 7:06

Our Time (Sondheim Duos 2)

1 Everybody Says Don't  5:33
2 Johanna 3:44
3 Our Time5:59  
4 Moments in the Woods 6:09
5 Finishing the Hat 4:48
6 The Miller's Son 5:55  
7 Losing My Mind 4:19
8 The Best Thing That Has Ever Happened 5:44
9 Agony 6:05
10 Being Alive 5:44
11 Rich and Happy 6:08

Friday, June 16, 2017

I Love My Wife

Cy Coleman’s I Love My Wife is the title song from his 1977 musical about wife swapping – a very popular “sport” in those days, the same year NYC’s Plato's Retreat opened for swingers.  After the fantasying by the husbands in the show, they come to the conclusion that they have the best in their own wives.  Thus this song.  If it were not for Frank Sinatra perhaps the song would be as forgotten as the musical but, thankfully, Sinatra saw the genius of this beautiful ballad, the repeated musical phrases resulting in such a haunting melody.  He recorded it as a single using a Nelson Riddle chart. The lyrics, by Michael Stewart, latch onto those musical phrases (these of course are not the entire lyrics):

But just in case, you didn't know
I love my wife

and later in the song….

But just in case, you hadn't heard
I love my wife

and later again…

But just in case, you couldn't guess
I love my wife

and the concluding

But just in case, you couldn't guess
Or hadn't heard
Or didn't know
I love my wife
I love my wife
I love my wife

I love my wife

My piano rendering of this wonderful melody is dedicated to my wife of nearly 50 years, Ann.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Flag Day Despoiled

I was going to write a piece about Flag Day with photos.

Now, the depressing news about the shooting at a baseball practice field of Republican members of the congressional baseball team leads to other thoughts.  Thankfully no one was killed other than the gunman.  Good riddance to him. And thankfully the brave Capitol Police were there to take him down.

But will this be a time that we pull together long after the incident?  Or will it just pull us further apart?

I’ve heard comments such as Representative Mo Brooks’  “It’s not easy to take when you see people around you being shot and you don’t have a weapon yourself.”  According to initial reports the deranged gunman had a military assault style weapon.  One can understand the helplessness and the impotence felt by Rep. Brooks.  It is an outrage that we cannot even enjoy our national pastime without feeling threatened this way.  And it is an outrage that political divisiveness should lead to any kind of violence.

But unless we all pull together the subsequent dialogue can go two divergent ways.  One could lead us down the path of greater authoritarianism and the call for arming more citizens (although a greater police presence is going to be necessary when many of our Representatives are in public venues).  The other path could call for the long-needed ban of military grade weapons.  Are we all supposed to be armed  with AR-15s on our baseball fields?  I’m no Pollyanna and know that such a ban would have little impact on what happens in the near future.  I’m thinking long term.  This is not about challenging the 2nd Amendment, and it is not about Republican vs. Democrat.  It’s about common sense banning military weapons, doing comprehensive background checks, expanding our treatment of mental illness, and developing better early warning signs of mentally disturbed people from social networks and prior arrests.

I worry about how this horrible incident will move the country in the future.  Will we come together, E pluribus unum, or be driven apart, politicizing this horror?  I look to the flag and wonder and hope.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Let the Games Begin

The “games” -- meaning the Congressional Hearings regarding the Russian influence on our election results and the possible “cooperation” of Trump and/or his legion of surrogates.

James Comey laid out his case in great documented detail.  Is there enough there to “prove” a case of impeding an investigation by a sitting U.S. President, or even impeachment.  No.  Not, yet at least.

And Trump’s reaction was predictable, cherry picking what he liked such as the three times Comey said he was not personally under investigation (he wouldn’t be – yet), then claiming other statements were “a lie,” such as demanding “loyalty” of Comey.

Trump also said he is “100%” committed to testifying under oath (watch out what you wish for).

It was a one on one conversation, so it boils down to who do you believe, the meticulous note taker Comey, or the off-the cuff reactions of President Trump?  Yet, they both may be telling “the truth.”  How can that be? 

At the risk of sounding like an armchair psychologist, simply put perhaps Trump believes his own lies, has created his own reality, and really does not believe he said or meant those aspects of Comey’s testimony.  Therefore, he can in good conscience testify to that effect. 100%.

As Eric Hoffer, author of The True Believer said, “We lie the loudest when we lie to ourselves.

Perhaps future candidates for President should be required to undergo physical AND psychological testing?  Aren’t we entitled to choose between the healthiest candidates for such an important office?

And from another site (there are many), “certain personality traits where pathological lying may occur include” (does any of this strike a chord?):

    Narcissism or self-centered behaviors and thought patterns
    Abusive attitude
    Obsessive, controlling, and compulsive behaviors
    Jealous behavior
    Manipulative behaviors
    Socially awkward, uncomfortable, or isolated
    Low self-esteem

Almost a month ago I wrote to our two Senators (Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson) and our Representative (Brian Mast).  This was before Robert Mueller was appointed by the Justice Department as special counsel but right after James Comey was dismissed as FBI Director by Trump.  I ultimately received responses from Nelson and Mast, those were after Mueller was appointed and thus their responses were understandably focused on that appointment.

Rubio on the other hand provided an automated response that a reply would be forthcoming and such a reply never did.  I find this interesting as Rubio’s questioning of Comey was definitely Trump predisposed.  Rubio seems to be committed to appealing to the base that got him elected.  This country has devolved into Newton's third law of physics, that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  Just flip back and forth between MSNBC and FOX and you can experience the polarity.

Here is our letter first and then the responses.

May 13, 2017
Dear (insert name of Senator or Representative):

My wife and I, both retired, are distraught and anxiety ridden over the behavior of President Trump.  I can think of only two times we’ve felt so concerned:  during the Cuban missile crisis and during the end of the Nixon administration.  Luckily, a stable, resolute President Kennedy prevailed during the former crisis and our democracy and separation of powers worked to ensure the preservation of the Republic during the latter.

Where are the courageous Senators to insist on a special prosecutor (now that the FBI has been kneecapped) to investigate the extent of any possible collusion of the Trump election team with Russian operatives?  Where are the courageous Senators to insist on a complete examination of Trump’s financial dealings in light of the emolument clause of the Constitution or to consider whether his removal is justified by the 25th Amendment to the Constitution based on mental illness?

Perhaps you feel the same existential dilemma we do: how does one, as a citizen of a country he/she loves, support its new leader, given his unstable, even despotic behavior, one who relies on nepotistic advice? 

The concept of separation of powers and the role of the 4th estate are being severely tested and we look to the Senate as the last bastion of defense.  Will you and your colleagues rise to the occasion or are you going to allow this person to run amuck and jeopardize everything our founding fathers stood for?  His behavior is an affront to the dignity of the Office of the Presidency, weakening our country instead of protecting it, something he pledged to do when he was sworn into office.

We will be carefully watching your actions and depending on you to do the morally right thing to protect our country.



        Senator Marco Rubio
        May 13 at 11:54 AM

Thank you for taking the time to contact me. Your correspondence has been received and I welcome the opportunity to address your concerns. Hearing directly from constituents such as yourself is truly an honor, and your input is much appreciated.

Please look for my response in the near future. In an effort to serve you better, please do not duplicate e-mails into the web-form, as it may serve to delay the response to your concerns. If you need immediate assistance with a federal agency, please call (866) 630-7106, toll-free in Florida.


U.S. Senator Marco Rubio

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May 22 at 6:40 PM
Dear Mr. Hagelstein,

Thank you for contacting me in support of appointing a special prosecutor to investigate Russian interference in our elections and potential ties to the Trump administration. Your thoughts are important to me as I work to effectively represent you in Congress.

You deserve transparency and accountability in government. We should never run or hide from the truth. If we seek out truth and embrace it then Americans can know we all play by the same set of rules.

As you may know, in addition to ongoing investigations in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has appointed former F.B.I. Director Robert S. Mueller III as special counsel for the Russia investigation. Like you, I hope that Director Mueller can be looked at as unbiased and that his finding will be respected by all. The American people deserve answers, and I am committed to ensuring a transparent process as these investigations move forward.   

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.  If you’d like to receive updates about this issue and other news that’s important to our community, please sign up here.  To follow along with my work on your behalf, please join me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram   and YouTube.  If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact me again.  As always it is an honor to represent you in the United States Congress.


Brian Mast
Member of Congress

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May 30, 2017
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Hagelstein:

 Thank you for contacting me about ongoing investigations related to the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 Presidential election.

In March, I called for the appointment of a special prosecutor and/or the establishment of an independent commission to get to the bottom of Russia’s interference.

After the President fired FBI Director Comey on May 9, I repeated my calls for a special prosecutor and/or an independent commission. Shortly thereafter, the Department of Justice named former FBI Director Bob Mueller Special Counsel to oversee the Russia investigation. Bob Mueller has the experience to conduct a thorough investigation. Now, he must be provided the resources and independent authority he needs to follow the facts wherever they lead.

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has pledged to continue its bipartisan investigation into Russian attempts to influence our election. In addition, I am cosponsoring S. 27, which would create an independent commission to investigate Russia’s attempts to interfere with the 2016 Presidential election.

According to the U.S. intelligence community, Russia is responsible for a number of hacks and the subsequent leaking of stolen information related to the 2016 Presidential election, at Putin's direct order. The attempt by an outside power to influence the election and promote a particular candidate is a very serious threat to our constitutional form of government.

On December 29, 2016, President Obama imposed sanctions on Russia in response to these hacks. I am cosponsoring S. 341, the Russia Sanctions Review Act of 2017, a bill that would keep sanctions imposed on Russia for election hacking and other aggression in place until Congress says otherwise.

As a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) and Ranking Member of the SASC Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, I will continue to support policies that enhance our capability to deter and defend against cyber attacks from all enemies.

Now isn’t the time to cozy up to Russia, now is the time to stand up to Russian aggression.  I appreciate hearing your thoughts on this issue.

Sincerely, Bill Nelson