On Fridays I look forward to reading the movie section of two newspapers, “The New York Times” and “The Bergen Record.” I’m interested in seeing what new movies have opened. Frequently the films that interest me the most are not playing in New Jersey yet. That requires patiently (and even not so patiently) waiting. Also, frequently the two newspapers do not agree – one can really like a film and the other not. And, just as frequently, I don’t agree with either one. However, I recently saw a film whose title made me think it might be a chick-flick. It definitely is not. “Bridesmaids” caught me unaware and surprised me. On the plus side, it highlights the importance of female friendship and it gets at the layers of insanity in weddings, as well as the joys. The movie is also grosser than it needs to be, with a lot of bathroom “humor.” For my taste it contains too many raucous jokes and too much salty language, especially from young women. There are sexual situations along with the crude humor, graphic language, and drug and alcohol abuse. My twenty-something grandson Zach thought “Bridesmaids” was a very funny film. So did the youthful audience sitting near me. If you are over fifty, you might react the way I did. I found it too raunchy, with too much graphic sex. Don’t take the young kids – and perhaps you should also spare the older folks too.
Do you have a favorite day of the week? Before my nasty fall, my favorite was Tuesday and I’ll tell you why. I started the day early in the morning with a rehearsal of the Bayonne Senior Orchestra. That was fun (except when the saxophone player was cranky). Then I would drive to Nutley to the Starlight Dance Studio and thoroughly enjoy a few hours of ballroom dancing with a variety of great partners. In the evening I would go to New York City, alternating visits with the awesome Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks at Sofia’s in the Edison Hotel or Rick Bogart’s fine trio at SerRa Bistro in the Vincci Avalon. My personal highlight was to sing with all those very fine musicians. Well, last month at SerRa Bistro was a surprise happening. A documentary was being filmed. Its subject was music in New York City where singers get to sing (right down my alley – although I’m not sure where my alley is). Written by Sandy Jordan, a singer herself, it was my luck to witness all the excitement surrounding the shoot. Some entertainers in the audience were called upon to be interviewed and, lo and behold, I was included. I was asked questions about my musical background for about a half hour. As those of you who know me, all you have to do is put a microphone in my face and I have no trouble talking, especially when it comes to music. I am told that the documentary, when completed, will appear on HBO. When? I don’t know, but I’ll keep you posted. P.S. I’m slightly concerned because I understand that the TV camera adds fifteen pounds – I can’t afford that!
Reality television is a crock. These days it’s an over-used genre of TV programming purportedly presenting unscripted dramatic or humorous situations. Even writing about reality television confuses me since I look down on most of the current “reality” shows. Yet I confess to watching them. If I am surfing the TV screen and find one in particular of the voyeurism-focused productions, I stay put. My excuse is that I admire Patti Stanger, the star and executive producer of Bravo’s hit docu-series, “The Millionaire Matchmaker.” Although she’s an astute businesswoman and I admire that, she’s not my cup of tea. Then I argue (to myself) that she does try to give help in the love department to those who turn to her. Patti Stanger is not a traditional matchmaker. She allows women to join free while charging busy, upscale men $40,000 to $150,000 per year. If it’s the female who is a millionaire, it switches and she pays. Stanger is experienced and blunt. She coaches her clients through each step of the dating process, even changing their looks. So if you’re a millionaire, male or female, with precise standards, perhaps you can start with reading this matchmaker’s book entitled “Become Your Own Matchmaker.” The television “reality” program, “The Millionaire Matchmaker,” is in its fourth season so evidently I’m not the only one watching. I find myself mesmerized by this over-the-top dating service. I’m glad I’m not in the market.
Last month I heard enough jazz to satisfy me for a while. Happily the venue was Jazz at Lincoln Center located on Broadway and 60th Street at the Time Warner Center. A connecting theme was “Prohibition and the Jazz Age.” What comes to your mind when the “roaring” 20s and 30s is referred to as “The Jazz Age”? Like me, I assume you think of it as the era of bootleg hooch, flappers, crooners, and snappy syncopated sound. At one of the concerts, film excerpts were presented by the documentarian Ken Burns. Music was provided by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (wow! Seventeen great musicians) led by the extraordinary Wynton Marsalis. That concert was held in the Rose Theater which has 1,233 seats. Amazingly, looking around, I realized that everyone had the best seat in the house. And acoustically, oh my, perfection! During “The Jazz Age,” an enormous body of memorable music was produced. Another concert was titled “Songs of the Jazz Age” and featured musical director Bill Charlap with a magnificent octet. I was a most happy listener hearing them play all the songs I love: “It Had to Be You,” “Crazy Rhythm,” “S’wonderful,” and “Stardust” – timeless tunes. That concert was held in the Allen Room, a luxurious, splendid room based on the design of a Greek amphitheater. Picture this: a 50 by 90 foot wall of glass overlooks Columbus Circle and Central Park, plus the gorgeous Manhattan skyline. Breathtaking! Even if you didn’t like the music, it’s a thrill simply sitting there. It’s a far cry from the dark, dingy jazz joints I attended in the past.
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