I always saw my maternal grandparents as individual beings. They were just “Abuela” and “Abuelo”. I never saw them as a couple. They were so different that I’ve always wondered what brought them together.
My grandfather Domingo was a peculiar fellow, to say the least. There are stories of him that, to this day, my mother and aunt can still marvel when they reminisce. If the guy felt he was low on iron, he’d put iron nails on a glass of water, let them soak overnight, and drink the water the next morning. It was a practical way to get his iron dosage, he’d argue. Were there any pesky ghosts or apparitions disturbing your peace at home? Not a problem. As a self-taught scholar of spiritualism and founding member of “La Sociedad Espiritista de Maracaibo”, he could organise a séance at a short notice to get all paranormal activity under control at your home.
God bless Liza! The woman has had her ups and downs for most of her career. Her struggles with drug addiction and alcohol dependency have been well documented by the press. However, there’s no doubt La Minnelli got her mother’s performing genes. Just like Judy Garland did on her day, Liza has always managed to leave her demons behind every now and then just to give her audience some amazing live performances. Case in point, “Liza’s At the Palace”.
Summer of 1992 has a special place in my memories. I had finished my masters in the spring, and the organisation I had been working for a few months had extended my contract for another six months. I had moved to a new place near DuPont Circle in DC. This was the early 1990s and it would take another four or five years for the area to become chic.
So, there I was in a small efficiency apartment at the Chastleton, at 16th and R, where as legend has it The Duke and Duchess of Windsor stayed for a while.
I had an instant connection with this piece of music. Time stood still the first time I heard it, I was transported to 1974 and I relived the moment when I saw colour TV for the first time. It was a baseball game, the Atlanta Braves playing against Los Angeles Dodgers. The same game where Hank Aaron hit the 715th home run of his career, which broke the record set by Babe Ruth in the 1930s.
At the time, I didn’t realise the historic significance of the event, and although I was watching colour on a TV for the first time, I couldn’t see colour. Hank Aaron had just done an amazing feat, and that was all I saw, I never noticed his skin colour.
Hooray For Hollywood – Dick Powell, Francis Langford, Johnny Scat Davis, Gene Krupa, And Benny Goodman And His Orchestra
Originally written as the opening of a Busby Berkeley extravaganza, Hooray For Hollywood has become one of America’s main show business anthems. The other two being “That’s Entertainment” and “There’s No Business Like Show Business”.
Although the song has been performed by many singers, most notably Doris Day in 1958, I prefer this version, the original from the 1937 “Hollywood Hotel”. I like the jazzy, swingy thing that the piece has going on. If you see the clip from the movie (Hooray For Hollywood!) the guys playing with Benny Goodman are very cool cats.
No One Is Alone– Kim Crosby, Danielle Ferland, Ben Wright, Chip Zien
Even when we are on our own, we’re not totally alone. We all live in a community and have an impact each other’s lives. From the person who holds the lift’s door when you’re carrying bags. Or the person who chases you down the street to hand you the umbrella you’ve dropped one block away. Even the person who is rude to you on the bus for no apparent reason; we all feed on the community we live in. It doesn’t matter how much we want to protect ourselves, others will always have an influence on us, and there’s basically nothing we can do about it. The person who holds the lift’s door will help you arrive faster to your destination. The one who hands you the umbrella will help you stay dry when the rain comes. The one who’s been rude may wreck your day for a bit, but another person will brighten it. In a matter of minutes, everything can change. You’ll be the one holding the lift’s door, handing the umbrella, and being rude to someone on the bus.
El Padre Antonio y Su Monaguillo Andrés – Rubén Blades – Top 10 Contender
Although I grew up in Latin America, you may have noticed that my music taste gravitates towards Broadway musicals primarily. There are only a handful of songs in Spanish in my iTunes library, so if you see one of them on the list, you’ll know that it must be a song close to my heart. Such is the case of this beautiful gem from Panamanian Rubén Blades.
El Padre Antonio y Su Monaguillo Andrés (Father Antonio And His Altar Boy Andrés) is a ballad/salsa inspired by the assassination of El Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero in 1980. It tells the story of Father Antonio Tejeira, a Catholic priest from Spain and his altar boy Andrés Eloy Pérez.
Father Antonio is a pacifist; he condemns violence, and in every sermon, he talks about love and justice. Andrés is a ten-year-old who loves swimming in the river, playing soccer and day-dreaming. One Sunday mass, during communion, an assassin enters the Church and opens fire right in the middle of the Lord’s Prayer. Father Antonio falls to the ground not knowing what is happening; a host is still in his hand. Andrés passes away next to him. On the wall, the wooden Christ on the crucifix dies again.