Monday, August 16, 2010

Elvis Icon Idol

Elvis died 33 years ago today and I remember just where I was.  The faithful followers and worshippers are flocking to Graceland as they do every year... but would Elvis have wanted to be adored in this manner?  He was, despite his obvious lack of faith in himself, a deeply religious man.  I don't know if he'd approve of his fans turning him into a golden calf.  It would go against the commandments in which he believed.

When I think Elvis was only 42 when he died, I can't believe it.  I still don't understand how he could have let himself go - once the most handsome man in the world, slender, filled with more talent than 100 so-called "stars" of today put together... I just don't get it.  He must have been really sad on earth.  I think the only thing that made him happy was singing those old gospel songs.

I loved Elvis when I was a child... I guess I kind of worshipped him like any other little girl.  But I moved on... yet still loving his music as much as ever all my life.  I've never been to Graceland... I think, on purpose.  I didn't want my childhood bubble burst by all the commercialism and flashy fakeness. 

I grew up watching Elvis's movies... so I couldn't really relate to his Las Vegas jumpsuit years.  My favorite song was "In the Ghetto" because supposedly he'd recorded the Mac Davis composition for Chicago, where I grew up.  A few years ago, I bought the DVD of his 1968 Comeback Special, which is Elvis at his best... but I can't bring myself to watch it.    From Elvis in Memphis is my favorite Elvis album.  R.I.P., Elvis!  You were one in a hundred million!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Carnegie Hall Studios Bite the Dust

Can you imagine the ghosts of artists, musicians, poets and writers that must haunt the studios of Carnegie Hall's towers?  Just ask Elizabeth Sargent. All of her neighbors are gone, forced out. She is the last holdout tenant of Carnegie Hall's towers, and is preparing to leave the affordable studios that for more than a century housed some of America's most brilliant creative artists.

Sargent, a one-time dancer noted for her boldly sexual poetry, is now in her 80s and in remission from cancer. For 40 years, she's lived on the ninth floor of the red brick southern tower above the famed stage of the 119-year-old landmark. She has until Aug. 31 to clear out.

Red scaffolding surrounds Carnegie Hall as the city-owned towers are being gutted this summer in a $200 million renovation that includes adding a youth music program. Celebrities like Robert De Niro and Susan Sarandon had fought to save the homes, petitioning the city not to "displace these treasured artists and master teachers."

Musicians, painters, dancers and actors thrived in the two towers built by 19th-century industrialist Andrew Carnegie just after the hall went up in 1891. The towers - one 12 stories high, the other 16 - housed more than 100 studios, some with special skylights installed to give painters the northern light they prize.

Over the years, Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly and Robert Redford took acting lessons here and Lucille Ball had voice coaching. James Dean studied scripts and Leonard Bernstein, music.

Women once lined up on the street to visit an alluring resident - the young Marlon Brando. His studio space on the eighth floor was demolished in early July. [more...]