Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Me and Bobby McGee

In honor of Janis Joplin birthday, today's blog concerns a little known story about my favorite song of hers, "Me and Bobby McGee".   Most of you know that Janis was a bright light extinguished too soon by excess.  Some of you know that her highest selling album was "Pearl",  released a few months after her untimely death, and that "Me and Bobby McGee" was her  best selling single ever .  But I will wager few of you are aware of why the song was written and by whom.   First, read the lyrics (minus the scatting) and  I will continue after the break.

Busted flat in Baton Rouge, waiting for a train
And I's feeling nearly as faded as my jeans.
Bobby thumbed a diesel down just before it rained,
It rode us all the way to New Orleans.

I pulled my harpoon out of my dirty red bandanna,
I was playing soft while Bobby sang the blues.
Windshield wipers slapping time, I was holding Bobby's hand in mine,
We sang every song that driver knew.

Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose,
Nothing don't mean nothing honey if it ain't free, now now.
And feeling good was easy, Lord, when he sang the blues,
You know feeling good was good enough for me,
Good enough for me and my Bobby McGee.

From the Kentucky coal mines to the California sun,
Hey, Bobby shared the secrets of my soul.
Through all kinds of weather, through everything we done,
Hey Bobby baby? kept me from the cold.

One day up near Salinas,I let him slip away,
He's looking for that home and I hope he finds it,
But I'd trade all of my tomorrows for just one yesterday
To be holding Bobby's body next to mine.

Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose,
Nothing, that's all that Bobby left me, yeah,
But feeling good was easy, Lord, when he sang the blues,
Hey, feeling good was good enough for me, hmm hmm,
Good enough for me and my Bobby McGee.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Of Mad Men, Golden Globes, and Self Confessed Daddy's Girls or how Don Draper got me off the couch and Moving forward

Anyone who knows me, knows I am an obsessed Mad Men Devotee.   Tonight, I will be watching the Golden Globes live and it is my hope that Jon Hamm, January Jones and Mad Men receive just recognition for Season Three - particularly the last few episodes, in which Don Draper was forced by his wife, Betty, to reveal his true identity, sunk to the nadir of his business career and personal life, and learned to play well with others and truly move forward.  Thank you, Don for teaching me no matter what happens, you can rise from the ashes with the proper passion and a little help from your friends. I feel we are both at the same point in our lives.

My history with the show goes back to the beginning of Season Two.   An AMC marathon of the premier season coincided with some personal losses in my life.   My mother in law had died in May and four days later my beloved godmother, my mom's best friend and my confidante, also left this world.  I am sure it was more than all this that put me on the couch later that summer and made me decide to settle in for a full day of Mad Men. I love all things New York and all things 1960's, so it is no surprise that I was hooked.  This was more than a TV show:  it was it's own world and like real life, there are no easy solutions and no one knows what will happen next, except maybe the series creator, Matt Weiner.

With finely drawn characters, each with their own quirks and unpredictabilities, I was intrigued and on the edge of my seat.  I would be hard pressed to say who was my favorite.  Of course, Don Draper is the heart of the show, and as an adult, I relate in different ways to all the core players.  But, for this self-confessed Daddy's girl, it is Sally Draper who wins my heart. (I clearly wish there was a younger actress category. Then Kiernan Shipka could also have a chance for a Golden Globe.)

Like Sally, I clearly favored my Dad over my mom.   While my mom was not anywhere as cold a mother as Betty Draper, she was definitely not a let's hug and bake cookies June Cleaver type. Most of the affection I received was given by the handsome man pictured here in a Don Draper style grey suit.  Oh, how I adored him, more than enough to allow him, at my wedding, the pleasure of a father-daughter dance to that sappy favorite,"Daddy's Little Girl".  So totally uncool, but, if it made him happy, I was more than willing to accommodate him. 

For the record, Sally is about two years younger than I would have been in the early sixties.  So, it is with a child's eyes, I watch along with her as she sees history unfold.  Martin Luther King's "I have a dream speech", the murder of Medgar Evers, the fear of nuclear war during the Cuban Missle Crises, the self immolation of a monk in Viet Nam, and the on air fatal shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald - TV brought all these events into America's living rooms.  How could Sally remain unaffected?  Or I?  The times they were a'changing and so too would the patriarchal society in which we both lived.  It makes me ponder what will Sally be like in the 1970's.  Will she become a Mad Woman under the tutelage of  the talented Peggy Olson, or will she marry young like me and find herself later in life ?  There is no way of knowing, which makes it all the more delicious to contemplate. 

Well, back to the couch tonight, but fear not. It is but a respite from my academic pursuits.  I am moving forward.  Thank you, Sally, for taking me back, and thank you, Don Draper for moving me forward.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Teenage Idol and American Idol

Rick Nelson was my first crush.  He was handsome and I watched him grow up on his parent's show, "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet".   He was one of the first Teenage Idols and he utilized the new media to promote his records.  One of the hits he wrote about those early days was called, with no irony intended, Teenage Idol.  Here are the words:

Some people call me a teenage idol
Some people say they envy me
I guess they got no way of knowing
How lonesome I can be

I need somebody to be my baby
Someone to tell my troubles to
I've got no time to ever find her
Cause I'm just passing through

I travel around from town to lonely town
I guess I'll always be just a rolling stone
If I find fortune and fame and lots of people know my name
That won't mean a thing if I'm all alone

I get no rest when I'm feeling weary
I got to pack my bags and go
I got to be somewhere tomorrow
To smile and do my show

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Trivia Queen of Seaman Avenue

I was blessed with a mother who loved quiz shows.  I was equally cursed with a host of childhood diseases which meant I spent a great deal of time on the couch watching daytime TV.  This totally explains my addiction to soap operas, but somehow the quiz shows never took.

Jeopardy was the exception.  From the moment it aired on daytime in 1964 with host Art Fleming, I was hooked. You can bet when the board game version was introduced that same year, Santa Claus knew that he had better leave it under the family Christmas Tree or no milk and cookies for him!

Throughout the years, I enjoyed a reputation for being the queen of trivia.  At first, it was Jeopardy with many a Saturday Night spent at the house of my sister-in-law and her husband.  Then in 1982, Trivial Pursuit became the game of the moment and Mike and I would invite our neighbors over to play.   I did well even against those with master degrees.  Last night, I registered for the on line Jeopardy test to be held on January 28.  Everything old is new again.  Wish me luck!

Monday, January 11, 2010

I am a Phoenix

I am a Phoenix.  Today is my first day of on line classes at Axia College, the New Jersey location of Phoenix University. Thinking back through the years, the first time I had ever heard of the mythical firebird was through a character on the sci-fi soap opera, Dark Shadows.  Laura Collins, who bore my first name, was the supposedly dead wife of Roger Collins.  Every hundred years, she would be consumed by fire and, as a human version of the creature, she would arise again from the ashes. 

As a 1960's teenager, I was intrigued by this concept, little knowing that my 21st century self would, at least metaphorically, one day do the same.   I have not lived 100 years yet, but over half as much and it has been a full life including family, marriage, motherhood, friends, and experiential learning. Five years ago I became a widow and began a new journey.  The question became could I arise from the ashes of my old life into something as beautiful and fierce and resilient as the phoenix of mythology.  The answer is Yes, I can and Yes, I will. Stay tuned for what happens next.