Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Great Dobie Gray Has Passed On

Singer-songwriter Dobie Gray has died in Nashville from complications of cancer surgery, a friend told The New York Times. He was 71. Best known for his hit songs "Look at Me," "The 'In' Crowd" and "Drift Away," the Texas native died Tuesday, friend and fellow songwriter George Reneau told the newspaper.

Gray also penned numerous songs for other famous artists, such as "Got My Heart Set on You" for John Conlee, "Over and Over, Again" for Ray Charles, "If I Ever Needed You" for Julio Iglesias and "Come Home to Me" for George Jones.

Reneau told the Times Gray, who never married, is survived by a sister and a brother. Read more

In 2009, I sent an e-mail to Dobie:

Thank heavens for the Internet... it's the one and only way I could tell you how much I love your music and your voice and how much it has meant to me all these years!  Thank you so much, Dobie, for being so brilliantly talented and making my life so much richer.

To which he replied in August:

Dear Sandy,

Many thanks for taking the time to write to me with your kind words. It's always nice to know that you've had a hand, however small, in someone else's happiness.


I told him his music is timeless and great!  R.I.P., Dobie!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Doris Day Resurfaces with New Record

Doris Day, America's sweetheart of the '50s and '60s, beguiled audiences with her on-screen romances opposite top Hollywood leading men Cary Grant, Rock Hudson and Jack Lemmon. She adored and misses them all, says the 88-year-old Day. But her deepest yearning is reserved for her late son Terry Melcher, a record producer whose touch and voice are part of Day's first album in nearly two decades.

"Oh, I wish he could be here and be a part of it. I would just love that. But it didn't work out that way," Day said, her voice subdued. It's a voice rarely heard since she withdrew from Hollywood in the early 1980s to the haven she made for herself in the Northern California town of Carmel, where Clint Eastwood was once mayor.

"My Heart," set for a Dec. 2 U.S. release, has induced Day to edge back to public attention. The CD includes 13 previously unreleased tracks recorded over a 40-year span, including covers of Joe Cocker's "You Are So Beautiful," the Lovin' Spoonful's "Daydream" and a handful of standards. All proceeds go to Day's longtime cause, animal welfare.

Doris has devoted herself to promoting the well-being of animals with the Doris Day Animal Foundation, which she created in 1978 and which is the new album's beneficiary. Her own pets, including some half-dozen cats, have it good: She built a glass-ceiling extension off her house so the felines can enjoy the view without the risks of going outside.

Why the attention to animals? "They're the most perfect things on Earth," Day replied. "They're loyal. They love you. And they'll never forget you. ... I think they're put here for us to learn what love is all about." [more...]

Thursday, November 17, 2011

American Masters: Profiles Woody Allen

An "American Masters" presentation, "Woody Allen: A Documentary" is a two-part, three-and-a-half-hour feast for all Woody fans and anyone else who is interested in a prolific, persistent artist's creative world. It airs Sunday and Monday at 9 p.m. EST on PBS.

The film revisits Allen's childhood in the Midwood section of Brooklyn and his first venture as a professional writer: supplying jokes to columnists and comics while still in high school. It covers his growing success in the 1950s and 1960s as a comedy writer for TV, then as a rising standup comic in his own right.

You will see his typewriter, the Olympia portable Woody Allen has used for pounding out everything he's written since his teens. [more...]

Monday, October 17, 2011

Museum Unconvinced by New Van Gogh Death Theory

Two American authors believe Vincent van Gogh was fatally shot by two teenagers and did not die from self-inflicted wounds, but the new theory won a skeptical reception from experts at the museum dedicated to the 19th century Dutch master. A book by Pulitzer prize-winning authors Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith, "Van Gogh, The Life," concludes that Van Gogh, who suffered chronic depression, claimed on his deathbed to have shot himself to protect the boys. "Covering up his own murder," said Naifeh in an interview broadcast Sunday on the U.S. network CBS's "60 Minutes." Leo Jansen, curator of the Van Gogh Museum and editor of the artist's letters, said the biography is a "great book," but experts have doubts about the authors' theory of his death in 1890. [more...Watch the 60 Minutes special.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Elaine's Memorabilia Sold

I was always nostalgic about Elaine's, even if my bubble was burst by the proprietor herself.  Once I even photographed the entire mural, which wrapped around the walls of the relatively small space.  Now, it's all up for sale.  I wonder if they ever found the CD I left on the shelf in her collection of memorabilia.

Table No. 1 from the famed New York City restaurant Elaine's has sold for almost $9,000 at auction. An eclectic collection of art and memorabilia from the watering hole on Manhattan's Upper East Side went on the auction block Tuesday at Doyle New York. The restaurant, a longtime favorite of writers and celebrities, shut its doors in May following the death of owner Elaine Kaufman.

Table No. 1 was the most desirable table in the house, where patrons sat to see and be seen. The auction sales totaled $385,000, including a papier-mache carousel horse that hung in the restaurant's window and fetched $4,000. The old-fashioned cash register went for the same amount. Pieces from Kaufman's collection of fine art and vintage Art Nouveau posters also went for big bucks.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Excellent Poe Biography

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this biography. It was easy to read and really humanized Edgar Allan Poe. I don't agree that it's overly sympathetic to him and not objective. It is, in fact, written in such a way that you almost feel like Poe, himself, is telling the tale. Barnes took great care to include the letters, quotes and excerpts of the works that explain his line of thinking and reasons for doing the things he did on earth. [more...]

Friday, July 15, 2011

One Woman Art Show - July 24th in Westbury, NY

Archstone Meadowbrook Crossing in Westbury, NY hosted its first art show: New York Artist, Sandy Fraziera Mixed Media Expressionist, invited all Archstone residents and friends to a showing of 30 paintings, plus digital photography and more throughout the day on Sunday, July 24, 2011. A reception followed from 6:00 to 9:00pmSee slideshow here.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Cy Twombly dies at 83

Celebrated American painter Cy Twombly, whose large-scale paintings featuring scribbles, graffiti and references to ancient empires fetched millions at auction, died Tuesday. He was 83.

Twombly, who had cancer, died in Rome, said Eric Mezil, director of the Lambert Collection in Avignon, France, where the artist opened a show in June. Twombly had lived in Italy since 1957.

"A great American painter who deeply loved old Europe has just left us," French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand said in a statement. "His work was deeply marked by his passion for Greek and Roman antiquity, and its mythology, which for him was a source of bottomless inspiration." [more...]

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Van Gogh Museum Closing for Renovations

AMSTERDAM (AP) — The Van Gogh Museum is shutting its doors for six months for renovations starting next year, its director said Friday, becoming the latest major Dutch museum to close for reconstruction. But dozens of the tormented Dutch impressionist's finest works will remain on public display, moving across the Amstel River to the Hermitage Amsterdam museum during the work, scheduled to last from October 2012 through March 2013.

Van Gogh Museum director Axel Rueger said some 75 paintings and other works will move to the Hermitage, which will be staging an exhibition on impressionism at the same time.
"Art lovers will be able to see a splendid survey of 19th-century art by Van Gogh and his contemporaries in the Hermitage Amsterdam," Rueger said. "This represents a rare opportunity, one not likely to happen again any time soon." [more...]

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Remembering the "Big Man"

Back in the late '70s, I remember attending the first Bruce Springsteen & The East Street Band concerts EVER in Chicago.  We went every time they came to town and what a show it was!  But the highlight of the show was always the "Big Man" - Clarence Clemons - and what a show it was!  R.I.P., Clarence... you were the best of the best!

Springsteen acknowledged the dire situation earlier this week, but said then he was hopeful. He called the loss "immeasurable." "We are honored and thankful to have known him and had the opportunity to stand beside him for nearly 40 years," Springsteen said on his website. "He was my great friend, my partner and with Clarence at my side, my band and I were able to tell a story far deeper than those simply contained in our music. His life, his memory, and his love will live on in that story and in our band." [more...]

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Elaine's is Closing Its Doors

For decades, Elaine Kaufman held court at the restaurant bearing her name with a hand-picked selection of favorite regulars, literary luminaries and celebrities. After Kaufman died in December, longtime manager Diane Becker inherited the restaurant. She announced Tuesday that the Upper East Side restaurant will shut its doors for good on May 26. "This is one of the most difficult decisions I've ever had to make," Becker said in a statement Tuesday. "But the truth is, there is no Elaine's without Elaine." The place is filled with history - both real and imaginary. [more...] [Read more...]

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Sandy's Art on WND

"Contemporary Christian artists are doing wildly new things, in keeping with the times and their own personal vision. Some of it is unorthodox and offbeat, but it is at least interesting and can be deeply moving.

"As Above So Below," permission by artist Sandra Frazier

I'll use the example of New York artist Sandy Frazier - inspired by faith, mystical artists and strangely enough, silent movies. Images from these shadowy, early films fired her imagination and fueled her first paintings. The silence inspired Frazier to create music CD of her own ['Resurrection'], and she wrote a book about the experience - 'The Mystic Artist.'"

Read more: Christian artists finally break through [more...]

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Lennon Letters

Yoko Ono has granted permission for the first collection of letters by John Lennon to be published, publisher Little, Brown and Company said on Friday. The book, titled "The Lennon Letters," will be published in October, 2012 and include hundreds of letters and postcards the late Beatle wrote to friends, family, newspapers and organizations, the publisher said in a statement.

It will be edited by British journalist Hunter Davies, who wrote the only authorized biography of The Beatles. The letters will be arranged in chronological order to give a sense of the musician's life.
"For the first time, John Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, has given permission to publish a selection of his letters," the publisher said in a statement, describing the book as "an international publishing event." [more...

Mystic-Art in Ontario

Trinity Anglican Church Blyth, a church in a small community in southwestern Ontario asked to make a poster of Good Friday for their Good Friday church service.  It's so wonderful to see my art spreading via the Internet.  See it here.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Phantom Ebert

I saw "Ebert at the Movies" for the first time tonight... with its new, young movie critics sitting in for what appeared to be a "Phantom Roger Ebert" - no small irony for a man who focused his entire life on the greatest films of the 20th-21st centuries.

Growing up in Chicago on Siskel & Ebert, syndicated by the Chicago Sun-Times, my friends and I came to anticipate their reviews and though we didn't rely entirely upon them to tell us whether or not to see a film, we trusted their judgment.

No one could have predicted that Gene Siskel would suddenly die so young. (In 1998, Siskel underwent surgery for a tumor. He announced on February 3, 1999 that he was taking a leave of absence but that he expected to be back by the fall, writing "I'm in a hurry to get well because I don't want Roger to get more screen time than me.") Typical for Gene who was the perfect sidekick to Ebert.

After Siskel's death in 1999, Ebert teamed with Richard Roeper for the television series Ebert & Roeper & the Movies, which began airing in 2000. Although his name remained in the title, Ebert did not appear on the show after mid-2006, when he suffered post-surgical complications related to thyroid cancer which left him unable to speak.

Throughout his cancer treatment, he continued to be a dedicated critic of film, not missing a single opening while undergoing treatment. Ebert had pre-taped enough TV programs with his co-host Richard Roeper to keep him on the air for a few weeks.

Roger's face became unrecognizable and even horrifying... yet he didn't hide it. Much like Nigella Lawson's husband who was dying of throat cancer and couldn't even taste her feasts, Roger can't utter a word now and must rely on digital media and translators.

But those of us who remember he and Siskel bantering back and forth each and every week, his reviews are still Golden Globes, Oscars, Emmys, and continue to educate us about film history at its best. He may take leave as the Phantom of the Opera... but, unlike the phantom (for which Ebert, I'm sure would always prefer Lon Chaney's portrayal), he will never recoil from the spotlight. Roger won't haunt us like the phantom; he'll remain forever in our hearts as a great American icon in his own right.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Great English-American Screen Goddess, Elizabeth Taylor

Ever since yesterday morning, the media has inundated us with press about the passing of Elizabeth Taylor.  This is the best article I have read, because it actually mentions her children, who seem to have been forgotten all these years... at least from what I can recall, they're rarely in the press.  Read on about the life of the last of the greatest screen goddesses.  RIP, Liz!

I particularly enjoyed 'Cleopatra' because she was so ravishing in every costume.  I always wanted to decorate my house like those Egyptians!  And Richard Burton had great legs, too!  But I remember most 'The Sandpiper,' 'Butterfield 8' and 'Suddenly Last Summer' as her greatest acting roles.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Still Bill: Withers the American Dream

What a brilliant, moving documentary I had the privilege to watch today on Showtime.  We've all loved his music, we know the words by heart... but how many of us know what a wonderful American life Bill Withers has lived.  "Still Bill" is the story of a man who discovered his own talent relatively late in life (at 32) and proceeded to overcome being born with a speech impediment in the backhills of a West Virginia coal mining community. 

Bill Withers has a way with words and his poetry reflects a man wise beyond his own knowledge.  This film reveals a really nice guy - unpretentious, true to his own heart, real, a natural talent teaching us how to overcome the obstacles life may toss our way.  He found a way to go with the flow in his life - always staying positive and accepting of what comes his way... and, by the way, he gave us some of the most enduring R&B/pop songs in the history of American music.

STILL BILL is an intimate portrait of soul legend Bill Withers, best known for his classics “Ain’t No Sunshine,” “Lean On Me,” “Lovely Day,” “Grandma’s Hands,” and “Just the Two of Us.” With his soulful delivery and warm, heartfelt sincerity, Withers has written the songs that have – and always will – resonate deeply within the fabric of our times. [more...]

Monday, February 28, 2011

Dylan's Freewheelin' Girl

Suze Rotolo, Bob Dylan's longtime girlfriend during his fledgling days as a Greenwich Village folk singer and the woman who appears alongside him on the famous cover of "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan," passed away this weekend at her home in Manhattan following a long illness, Rolling Stone reports. Rotolo was 67. In addition to forever being captured on the Don Hunstein-photographed "Freewheelin' " cover, Rotolo's three-year relationship with Dylan, from 1961 to 1964, also inspired him to write three of his early love songs, "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright," "Tomorrow is a Long Time," and "Boots of Spanish Leather." (Dylan's breakup with Rotolo also influenced one of his most vitriolic tunes, "Ballad in Plain D," a song Dylan later regretted recording.) Rotolo is also acknowledged for pushing Dylan toward the political awareness that flavored his Greenwich Village work. [more...] Another pic...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Black Swan is Magnificent Dark Beauty

Black Swan Movie Review: Every actor was perfectly cast in this artful dark drama. It was kind of 'The Turning Point' meets the original 'Dracula' (with Bela Lugosi), a la Hitchcock. Wholly captivating, unpredictable and driving, the pace is relentless as we crawl inside the mind of Portman's Nina. She brilliantly portrayed this character in such a way that she allowed us to come inside for a peek and revealed more and more as we craved it. Deliciously dangerous!