Aside from that happening, I am truly a Bennett fan. His song choices are from the Great American Songbook – my kind of music. I play one of his CDs, “Duets: An American Classic,” over and over again, and I enjoy it over and over again. Happily, Tony Bennett, who looks better than he did when he was younger, has bridged the generation gap. He is widely appreciated as an interpreter of popular music, standards, show tunes, and jazz. The singer is also a serious and accomplished painter.
Now in his 80s, he has a fine philosophy. He is quoted as saying, “If you are creative, you get busier as you get older. Picasso, Jack Benny, Fred Astaire, right up to the day they died, they were performing.” I’ll drink to that – a Pinot Noir, please.
There are times when I am repelled by his talent and times when I can’t stop laughing. He has been called a “social assassin.” You can guess that I am referring to Larry David, the actor, writer, comedian, and producer. Better known as the co-creator and co-writer of “Seinfeld,” he currently stars in another creation of his on HBO. It’s called “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and it is in its eighth season. Actually, it’s a tongue-in-cheek depiction of his life. The off-kilter comedy series presents a caricature of a rich, whipped, neurotic yuppie. The actor/writer skewers the image of life at the top. He bumbles, complains, talks himself into painful situations, and is ultimately served devilishly funny comeuppance from episode to episode. Actually, he’s got it all: a loving wife (although this season features a divorce), good friends, a successful career, a great home – what could possibly go wrong for LD?!
The improvisational sitcom manages to offend everyone, even a group of Girl Scouts. In one episode he hilariously puts a tampon up his nose to stop a nosebleed. It’s hard not to laugh at that. “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is a comedic take on life and the human condition. Do you agree with me that good TV comedies are few and far between? The genius of Larry David is unfettered and uncensored on HBO. “Curb” may not be for everyone. I find myself equally turned away and then amused.
Years ago – many years ago – I was an active member of the New Jersey Jazz Society. I wrote a monthly column called “June on Jazz,” and I can recall writing about a handsome young multi-talented musician. He played the bass saxophone, tuba, string bass, plus he sang the songs that I learned from my mother. Happily, he still does all that, plus the fact that he has grown even more handsome. His name is Vince Giordano. If you enjoy vintage jazz, and by that I mean the songs of the 20s, 30s, and 40s, you’d love Vince Giordano and his Nighthawks.
Since in my ears, much of today’s popular music talent is non-existent, I am delighted to have found Vince and his Nighthawks playing at a cabaret every Monday and Tuesday. Where? Well, if you know where the Edison Hotel in (46th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues) downstairs at Sophia’s Club Cachè, Vince and the Nighthawks are playing up a storm. In reading his biography I learned that Vince got into the world of music at the age of five. These days the musician, arranger, and leader of the Nighthawks can be enjoyed at this spot where one can eat, drink, dance (it’s like a floor show watching the young and old couples dancing up a storm), or just sit and listen to the music. There’s a nominal $15 music charge at the door, and for New York City, that’s a real bargain, since you can enjoy three sets from 8 to 11 p.m.
Aside from the fact that I enjoy the musical show, there’s another plus for me. Frequently, I’m asked if I’d like to sing. I never refuse. Last week something exciting happened when I was singing “Pennies From Heaven.” Those wonderful 11 Nighthawks echoed “Pennies From Heaven” and left the audience and, of course, me, smiling. It was a highlight for me and great fun, I noticed, for all.
When it comes to sports, I’m ignorant. In fact, the first section I throw out when I get “The New York Times” is the sports section. In the past when my 19-year-old granddaughter, Rachel, was young and didn’t receive her own paper, I at times saved that section for her, not knowing I was helping to create a sportswriter. Because of Rachel, I started to pay a little attention to sporting events and I can even recognize the name of the most seen player in baseball, Derek Jeter. Steven Roberts, who grew up in Bayonne and now teaches journalism and politics at George Washington University, wrote a review of a biography of the 37-year-old Jeter. It’s reassuring to know that there’s been no hint of scandal or steroids concerning the Yankee captain. He appears to be highly respected.
Last month, Rachel got lucky. Her indulgent Uncle Andy invited her to Yankee Stadium, and on that particular day baseball history was made. The great Yankee captain reached 3,000 hits. In my ignorance, I wondered what are hits? I realized that it meant something big from the roar of the crowd on my TV screen. Rachel wrote that “it is the magical, oh-so-hard number to reach in Major League baseball.” Even though she is a Mets fan, she finds Derek Jeter “easy to root for” – and, evidently, she has lots of company who feel the same way. Using “awesome,” a word I dislike, she wrote that Jeter’s blasting a home run for his 3,000th hit was just that. At any rate, I’m glad my son Andy made it possible for my sportswriter granddaughter to witness “unbelievable history.” I’m dubbing Jeter Mr. 3,000! We need heroes.
You can email June at firstname.lastname@example.org.