Ever since last week’s Mad Men I’ve been singing songs from Bye Bye Birdie. My parents said I could see any Broadway play I wanted to for my tenth birthday. No choice. It had to be Bye Bye Birdie. For some reason my mother thought it was about juvenile delinquents and “researched” it. As we read the same sources–The New York Times and The New Yorker I found this strange. Of course she found out that it wasn’t about delinquents. On my birthday, July 19, 1960, we went to the Brooks Atkinson Theater to see it. Can’t believe I remember the theater but it was a momentous event in my life and we didn’t take my younger sister which made it all that more sweet. (Sorry Elka)
Two years later my grandmother died shortly before my sister’s tenth birthday and I guess my mother wasn’t in a celebrating mood. Elka was going to see a play for her eleventh birthday–November 24, 1963. Unfortunately all theaters were closed.
For a brief while there really had been Camelot. I have a friend who argues that the most significant happening in 63 was the arrival of The Beatles and he makes some valid points but then I ask if he divides our childhoods into “before” and “after.” The security that we all felt, and it might have been fake, faded quickly away. Maybe it’s better for children not to be so innocent, but we had a rude awakening. I think our (cohort) behavior later in the decade answers that question.
And can you imagine having all theaters closed two days after a president’s death now? Basically everything was closed. The bowling alley wasn’t and my parents made me go bowling. I missed Jack Ruby killing Oswald but did see the birth of the instant replay. I never did fully forgive my parents for that.
I wasn’t in love with Robert Kennedy and had a hard time forgiving Teddy Kennedy for what happened around my birthday in 1969. However, he turned into one of the best damn senators and I realized that he had paid the ultimate price a Kennedy male could pay–he could never become president. Being a big believer in universal health care–I think it a marker of a civilized progressive affluent country, and a fervently fearful person as I pay premiums for my whole body but it’s only partly covered, I hope his death brings people together. I’m afraid it won’t. I have already seen Kennedy satires ( I liked the Dead Kennedy’s) and they just ain’t funny, right now.
(A bit of politics–most Democrats never wished Bush dead, gone yes, dead no, nor compared him to Hitler and I find every Republican who silently condones either Teddy Kennedy jokes or Obama equals Hitler statements filled with blame and shameful) End of politics.
Cooper has a Pet Clark (as she says) song from Finian’s Rainbow up this week, and it stirred something in my soggy brain. Then I read Bob Herbert in the New York Times and I finally remembered one of my all time favorite songs, “Look to the rainbows.” I used to be a romantic and it’s about the most romantic of songs. I couldn’t find the Dinah Washington (I think) version, but Patti Labelle’s is damn good. I prefer it to Aretha’s.
Herbert uses this line “Follow the fellow who follows a dream,” as an epitaph for the Kennedys. It’s always been romantic to me and I loved this song in secret as I was damned if I were going to follow any man, but yes it’s perfect and it’s perfect for any man who follows any woman also. And I no longer secretly love it
Here’s a beautifully written opinion piece on Ted Kennedy that goes into much much more. It shows how words might be distorted and made whole again. I might not agree with the “distortions” but….