Category Archives: railways

100 Pieces of Paul Simon’s Life

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Celebrating 50 years of performing, writing and contributing to our

mental psyche, Paul Simon recently spent three hours, 180 minutes,

to help elaborate for a new exhibit at Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall

of Fame. There will be a small piece of this exhibit shown at the

Cuyahoga Community College (CCC), sponsored by the R and R Hall.

Paul Simon was inaugurated into the R & R Hall of Fame when he

was part of the duo of Simon and Garfunkel, then later he was doubly

awarded, as a solo artist of majestic proportions.

The curator/archivist, Karen Herman said Paul Simon was very

generous with his time, completely answering the interview questions

expanding on them and allowing the entire tape to be included in the

new exhibit.

What will you see there?

Here are several of the 100 new items that interested me and captured

my imagination:

1. A 1957 hand written letter from Art Garfunkel to Paul Simon, while

he was away at summer camp. Who out there knew they were friends

from such a young age? There is a postmarked envelope and personal

letter with messages in Art’s young handwriting to his friend. This life-

long friendship was ‘news’ to me. I knew they collaborated and sang

together as Simon and Garfunkel, but did not know they both attended

prep school and were close through all these years.

2. The first guitar that Paul ever owned. This is an acoustical guitar

made by “Stadium.”

3. The lyrics written in his own hand of his best-selling song, “The Boxer.”

The CCC has many other parts of the special exhibit about the writing of

this famous song. There was an interesting ‘tid bit’ that when Paul was

writing the song, he inserted the vocal bridge of, “Lie-la-lie” originally

and fully intending to substitute using words, adding them later. Once

he completed the passage, it ‘stuck,’ remaining in the song.  Paul left

the song as is, after practicing with Art and going ahead with recording

the bridge within the song. (I am wondering, is this how we got that

‘riff’ or ‘bridge’ in the song, Mrs. Robinson, that goes “Coo, coo, ka chu?”)

4. Photographs abound in the exhibit. Personal ones, like his sweet but

serious face as a toddler in 1943.

5. Did you know Paul had enrolled as a DRAMA student (not Music!)

at the Queen’s College in New York City, NY? I studied this photograph

of Paul’s college sophomore year, picturing him as a dramatic actor,

seeing him as one who may have made Robert DeNiro or Dustin Hoffman

envious.

6. I have more than 3 two-sided 45 records, including Sound of Silence,

Only Living Boy in New York, Cecilia, Bridge over Troubled Water, The

Boxer and Mrs. Robinson. The only one on exhibit at the R & R Hall of

Fame is, “Me and Julio Down by the School Yard.”

I ponder donating my 45’s… naw!

7. Paul’s Grammy Records, all are on display. Donated to the R & R

instead of having them collect dust on shelves or be displayed in his

home set of cases.

7. The notes, handwritten on a notepad with the lyrics and sound

development for his album, “Graceland.” In this interview, Paul gave

us insight into his own personal writing style. He always writes his

songs music first. This surprised me, when Paul shared this processing

information of songwriting. I pictured his writing his lyrics first. They

are so poetic and meaningful, one could then imagine trying to place

the piano or instrumentals into the pieces. He also shared that he does

not always put his ‘best material’ into the first line of his songs. He feels

it is important to ‘build the drama and meaning’ as the song progresses.

By the way, Paul Simon’s unique musical combination of South African

and Zulu-Western, along with including Zydeco and Tex-Mex sound

influences, made his album an international success. The voices of many

friends appear on tracks in this album, including the Everly Brothers

on the title track, “Graceland.”

Female singing artist, Linda Ronstadt, performed with Paul Simon in

the lovely song, “Under African Skies.” The controversy behind this

album brought attention to our united stand against apartheid with him.

 

 

The part of the installation of Paul Simon’s body of musical artistry

which will travel, is going from major city to city. This will come to

museums and other public viewing areas, which will include an

admission charge, going back towards the Cleveland’s upkeep of their

entire building that embodies almost all genres of music, which have

had influences on each level, including rock and roll. There are so

many international exhibits, which I would recommend taking more

than one day to view. Paul Simon’s exhibit alone is considered to

need half an hour to 45 minutes to listen and absorb the information

given. As far as the CCC exhibit, Songwriters and musicians may be

happy to study the details of one song, “The Boxer.” There are images

of New York, the tickets for performances, the notes and personal

memorabilia attached to this iconic legend of a man, Paul Simon.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame exhibit will cover 1500 square feet.

 

 

Combinations

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I think automatically of my locker in high school, when I think of ‘combinations.’

My grandkids like to mix up their sodas, at those dispensers in fast food places,

what we used to call ‘suicides.’ Now, not so appropriate of a label, not one I would

want to try to explain to the ‘grandies.’ Some hodge podge of stuff, arts, music and

strange surprise may interest you in this post.

There have been some fun things that have

come across my path, in the past week, so here goes my silly list of ‘combinations.’

 

1.  Weird Sodas, Soft Drinks or Pops:

*Did you know that Tab still exists? It is still available in supermarkets, along with

being sold in South Africa, Spain, Norway, United States and U.S. Virgin Islands.

Also, it was the number one beverage sold at the place where famous people used

to gather:  Studio 54. Did you know since 1998, Studio 54 has become the home of a

theater called, Roundabout Theater Company? It had been in another location existing

since 1965. Also, if you knew about this, did you know in the basement there still is a

place to meet friends and hope for someone to spot called, 54 Below?

 

*Jones Soda Company sells some wonderful tasting sodas. I like their fruit flavored ones,

often grape or orange reminding me of the days my Dad would bring home a wooden

crate of Cotton Club pops. Crème soda, yummy! Well, did you know Jones Soda Co.

makes a flavor called PB & Jelly?

Also, during the holidays, seriously Jones Soda has sold what they call the “Holiday

Pack” with two flavors you could not pay me to drink: Mashed Potatoes and the odd

combination of Turkey and Gravy. I would like to see the sales numbers for those two

‘sodas!’

 

*Ski Pop, which is like Surge or Mt. Dew, but some consider a ‘poor’ substitute. Here

in Ohio, some recent statistics on this brand have explained that in Vinton County,

chicken farmers give this to their chickens to drink. Huh? Can anyone explain the

purpose of this? I can just imagine those ‘hyperactive’ chickens in their yards…

 

*Dr. Brown’s Soda has a flavor called “Celery” and it sells well in New York City

delicatessens.

 

*Rocket Fizz Brand Sodas produces “Lester’s Fixin’s” with two flavors called, Ranch

Dressing and Buffalo Wings. So, thanks to Lester, you can buy both flavors and skip

the cooking…

 

*Live, fermented soda, Kombucha comes in multiple flavors, like Ginger, Lemon,

Orange, Doctor, Cola and Cucumber Cayenne. That last one may manage to cover the

stinky smell.  Sorry, I have had this homemade version of battery acid and am not sure

I will ever acquire taste for it. I was fascinated, because coincidentally, right after I read

the article about the flavored Kombucha ‘sodas,’ I saw on my most recent favorite comedy

someone who makes this. (It is a nice show, even for families, too bad it is not going to

make it.) “About A Boy” includes Minnie Driver playing a single mother character. This

episode is focusing on her neighbor’s moving away. She makes homemade kombucha

and stores it in the dumb waiter elevator that connects her apartment to the handsome

and quirky neighbor’s, who is her son’s ‘best friend.’ He opens it and accidentally tips

one of her jars of concoction over. I saw in the male actor’s face, exactly my feelings

about kombucha; Yuck!

* Placenta Soda. Gross!

* Leninade, with Lenin, the communist’s name inserted in its product brand.

*Sickenly sweet, but I still like these two flavors that are a little different: Cotton Candy

and Strawberry Watermelon Faygo soda pops.

 

 

2. Robert Landau took outstanding, definitive photographs of the famous billboards along

Sunset Strip, which were on exhibit at Capitol University, Columbus, Ohio. You may check

the iconic and historic photographs of the poster-styled billboards, along with the urban legend

that Mick Jagger ‘defaced’ his own Rolling Stones billboard. There’s a compilation book available

of  Landau’s photos found in a 2012 book of his collection. There were in ‘the day’ people who

specialized in hand painting some of these memorable, vintage billboards. The years they were

most prevalent were from 1960 – 1980. Reading about renowned L.A. photographer, Landau,

was one of the most pleasant parts of the past two weeks of ‘combinations,’ I ran into while

collecting various news items.

 

3. Sour Patch Kids’ gum, flavored orange by Stride, has an interesting inside the pack,

design. It includes a Pirate map with the fun words of:

“The taste of orange boards your tongue and storms your taste buds. Then sweetly

serenades you with a sea shanty and a little pirate-y jig.”

So creative and you may find yourself tearing apart their other flavors of Sour Patch

Kids’ gum, which also comes in ‘red’ and ‘lime.’ (Not sure what flavor ‘red’ is?)

 

4. Jeff Dunham is going to be performing in Columbus, Ohio. Just recently heard about

him while visiting someone’s blog. He is a weird ventriloquist who sometimes uses

skeletons and creepy subjects in his comedy routine. He is seven years younger than I

am which makes it unusual that he became a ventriloquist. Seems it was becoming ‘out

of fashion’ during the time he was able to practice this unusual skill. Danny O’Day was

one of my brother’s ‘dummies’ and he enjoyed trying to ‘throw his voice.’ He is very

talented in his YouTube videos…

 

5. Music Trivia:

*Have you heard Lorde’s song, “Mockingjay?” Do you like it?

*Have you listened to Neil Diamonds’ new album titled, “Melody Road?”

Oh please, someone go with me to see my favorite (individual) musician

while he performs in Columbus, Ohio on 3/28/2015.

I can buy my own ticket, but many of my friends would prefer to spend that amount of

money on a group. Sure, I would like to hear Bob Seger, playing with the J.Geils Band,

(who I heard last in person, at the Cleveland Agora, aged 20 or so…) Or Boston or The

Manhatten Transfer, but Neil!  I really would be so excited to see him in concert…

 

*Buckey Country’s annual Superfest will include Kenny Chesney, Blake Shelton,

Rascal Flatts along with a crew of country musicians in the two day event, held

in the Ohio Stadium on June 20 and 21st, 2015. Tickets last year were around

$70 a day, my friend and coworker, Tina shared.

 

*As I was heading to my Mom’s for vacation, I said ‘goodbye’ to many people. Many

were wishing me good times with my family. Which wasironic since after clocking out

on Friday, October 24, 2014,  I turned on my car, to hearthe nostalgic strains of Simon

and Garfunkel’s song playing on the radio,

“Sitting in the railway station. …” Yep, you guessed it. … “Homeward Bound.”

 

6. Art:

* At the Wexner Center, located on Ohio State University campus,  has

a thrilling experience in store for you should you wish to see the exclusive

exhibit titled, “Transfigurations.” It is from Les Wexner’s private, limited

art collection that includes Susan Rothenberg, Willem de Kooning, Picasso,

Giacometti, and Dubuffet. You may view them through December 31st. They

are considered Modern Masters. The Picasso is a reclining woman and is quite

large and interesting. One reviewer had to go back and look at it again, it is

entrancing in its own unique perspective of a nude woman.

 

*The public domain of Frankenstein memorabilia will be on exhibit in the

Homeport Gallery, where artist and filmmaker, Celia M. Peters, shares her

collection. She has different subject matters that are also considered, public

domain, where no need to have permission to reproduce, Shakespeare,

Beethoven and Dorian Gray, for example. The horror film subject matter

seems appropriate for Halloween viewing.

 

* Open Door Art Studio will show in Grandview all kinds of multi-media Halloween

objects. This includes zombies, werewolves, witches, monsters in costumes and

masquerade attire for your interest in memorabilia.

 

 

Okay, tell me:  Which was the most bizarre part of my combinations post?

 

A quotation from Dubuffet,

“Without bread, we die of hunger.

Without art, we die of boredom.”

Dubuffet’s artwork is featured at Wexner’s special show, “Transfigurations.”

 

Creek Walk: Blue Limestone Park

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My only three granddaughters and I went on a special Creek Walk at Blue Limestone

Park on Saturday afternoon on June 14, 2014. Why note the date? It is the one where

I truly felt I changed their sweet, little lives. I asked if they would prefer, as we drove

past the beautiful new Big Toy, gym equipment installed at this ‘ancient park’ to play

there?

The unified answer was, “No, Nana!” The M & M girls, who are only 3 and 5 years old,

sang those lovely words out loudly. As they finished, their soon (next week) to be 10

year old sister, said these heart-warming words to this humble, nature-loving ‘hippie’

from the seventies,

“Nana, we look forward every year to being able to explore along the creek, cross over

the rocks and go under the train tunnel!”

Lara made me burst in pride, looking in my rearview mirror at her, my little step-

granddaughter, who is mine as well as others’. I said in reply,

“Thank you, Lara! This means so much to me!”

She came back instantly,

“You are the ONLY one who does this with us!”

Landen had gone off to be with the other two grandsons, Micah and Skyler, into the

land of video games and boys’ interests at my oldest daughter’s house. I was having

a good time, this day, with the ‘promise’ given at the onset to get ice cream cones

for three out of four of us, while Marley, whose ‘tummy hurts’ when she eats dairy

foods, will either choose a sherbet or a cookie, at our local place.

What did we find on our walk?

We found the light shining so brightly through the train trestle that I could not

capture through my camera lens, the brightly lit yellowish green still Spring like

branches and silhouettes up ahead of our journey. I took pictures of Lara, carefully

placing each foot upon the next rock, one by one, telling us behind her, of which

ones were ‘wobbly’ or ‘rocking back and forth.’

I helped my other two, sometimes having to hold their hand, putting my foot in

a simple sneaker, down into the clear and rushing creek water. They were filled

with a different kind of trepidation, I sensed a change in their development from

last year’s walk. They were more aware of the ‘danger’ of falling onto rocks and

the sense of imbalance to the stones. They had had more recent bumps and bruises,

evidenced on Marley’s shin and Makyah’s cheek. Little light bluish bruises, which

each carried their own story.

When we reached the place where they have to lean on the cold, damp wall of the

trestle, built of blue limestone rock, the oldest, Lara, was in the lead. She asked

why there would be mud up here, on the ‘shelf?’

I told her that sometimes the waters must have been higher or the wind roaring

through the tunnel, had brought mud upon the place we were walking. I also

told her the truth,

“Nana doesn’t really know the answer to that question, just a guess!”

When we got to the other side of the tunnel, to me, it is like a ‘fairy land.’ We saw

birds swooping, cheerily greeting our arrival here I saw so many branches of trees

leaning in, roots rising up and then arches created by low slung trees, bent into

bows. When they were under an arch, I asked the trio of girls to turn around.

They immediately did, knowing my camera was ready to capture this moment.

Lara, placing her arms around both the girls, showing the living definition of

‘sisterhood.’ The light filtering through the combination of hues of deep green,

light yellowish green and shadows made an entrancing photograph.

Mentally, I noted, three copies need to be made.

You see, I may not share the photos of my adventures with you, but I make

miniature albums of 36 pictures for each of the six grandchildren. They come

and take one of the recently made ones, sit and look them over. Their parents

make cd’s and videos on their cell phones, while I make the picture books that

let them know what seasonal adventures ensued during the past months.

Once in awhile, lately, the five year old, Marley has been curious about my first

husband, their “Poppi” who they did not realize was married to me, ‘once upon

a time.’ She asks to see photographs of our wedding, our days of young parent-

hood, raising her Daddy and her Aunt Carrie. Marley was thoughtful, again,

yesterday. She asked,

“Did you bring my Daddy here, when he was a little boy?”

I told her,

“Yes! In those days, there were tons of tadpoles or pollywogs, in these little

ponds that are back here, behind the big lake. The kids would bring buckets,

even ones I babysat, and we would all explore this area. Your Daddy, when

he was in 6th grade was allowed to come here on his bicycle and fish in the

Blue Limestone ‘lake’ that really is a ‘quarry.'”

I asked, as we climbed over a fallen tree, the little ones studying a spider,

bright, almost ‘neon’ green moss, and some little toadstools growing on the

side of it:

“Do you want to know what a quarry is?”

They all three listened as I explained how the Ohio Wesleyan University and

other buildings around their hometown had blue limestone that had been

‘mined’ from first the big ‘lake’ and then, later the smaller holes that became

other ‘lakes’ surrounding where we were walking beside.

We reached a ‘break’ in the trees, walked to the edge of the creek, finding in

the dirt, hoof marks of deer and also the smaller prints of raccoons and one

set of bunny tracks. I gathered them together and we all ducked under a low

slung branch, pointing across the creek, the separated undergrowth, the

path where the deer ran through the woods. We also could see, with a little

turn of our head, an opening where you could see the blue-green, almost

turquoise colored water of one of the more shallow quarries. I pointed this

out, saying:

“Your Daddy, Aunts Felicia and Carrie liked to swim in that ‘pond.'”

Oh boy! What a “can of worms” I did not foresee opening, with that remark!

I am sure you can guess, they wanted to go right across that creek and jump

into that smaller quarry!

I reminded them that their parents had bought a YMCA pass to the pools,

both indoors and outdoors. That, in those days, the possibility of algae and

other more dangerous bacteria were not so common. After all, this would

have been over 20 years ago!

They are such respectful children, allowing me to side track them, letting

them to think about taking off their shoes to dangle them in the creek

water.

I had them wipe their faces first, arms next, systematically going from

the top of their bodies to their feet, when we got back to the car. Then,

we carefully placed their special little mementos of their creek walk on

the passenger seat of the car:  wild lilac flower branches, three hickory

nuts that had been cracked open, halved neatly to reveal an inner design

that Lara found fascinating, the other younger ones chiming in that they

also “needed one of those!” and the wild daisies for their mother.

Then, having cleaned up, we ran down or rolled down, depending on

our age, the hill leading to the place where we would cross the parking

lot and play on the Big Toy!

Later, while sitting and savoring our treats, we were gazing, all four of

us, westward. There were first appearing, cotton candy blend of pink

and azure blue billowing clouds, then an orange-ish golden hue, and

finally a fire igniting across the sky.

When we got home, we all looked up at the waning Full Strawberry Moon,

the clear dark sky lit up with its presence. I said out loud, “Thank you,

God for this beautifully perfect day!”

Lara, who attends church more often than not, with her local father’s

mother, (Grandma) exclaimed: (I am not making this up!)

“Amen!!”

 

 

 

Traveling the Rails

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My grandkids were ecstatic to have me over last

evening for dinner. Their parents were heading

to parent-teacher conferences. I had some little

‘goody’ packages that had to wait to be opened

until after dinner, of course!

The dinner, I have to brag, was made by my son

and it included hand-dipped chicken breast strips

that were coated in a combination of flour and

crushed French’s onion rings. I had studied this

recipe, part of French’s advertising campaign,

once Thanksgiving is over and all the French

green bean casseroles are off people’s menus,

you may wish to try this one!

We had a lively conversation, talking about

their decorated shoe boxes and how the two

youngest ones, one in a preschool that does

not celebrate any holidays and the other one

too young to head off to preschool, were not

going to get any Valentines’ cards. I smiled

and said not a word.

Psst…shh! I had already packed extra ones

for them, having shared the same thought!

After dinner, since I had worked 9 hours and

was a little tired, I had brought over the

“Cars 2” movie. We watched most of it while

I was there, but left the conclusion for

them to watch after school today. It goes

back to the library in a week.

They opened their cards, while the animated

“commercials” were on, some from me, some

from my family up north, Great Grammie O.

having sent them sweet messages, too.

The movie is set in France, has a spy car

and Italian ‘bully’ race car that is mean

to the main ‘favorite’ one, “Lightning

McQueen” (voiced by Owen Wilson) and his

rusty truck buddy, “Mater” (voiced by Larry

the Cable Guy.) The kids say that the name

“Mater” means how a country person would say

‘tomato.’ I had to ask, since that was a

rather questionable name for a character in

a children’s movie!

If you have not seen the first “Cars” movie,

it is equally delightful and clever. The

World Grand Prix Cup goes to the Italian

car. There are cute jokes, espionage and

the children talked about the country’s

flags, making them interrupt the movie,

we put it on ‘pause,’ to talk about the

Olympics. The Schulz Elementary School,

where Lara and Landen attend, have had a

lot of games in gym class, use of competition

in their spelling bees and also, watched one

Olympic event on television. That was a

skating event for Lara’s class and a skiing

event for Landen’s.

When we had made it to the part about the

Italian car winning, their attention was

waning.

We ended up sitting in the kitchen, with

Marley and Kyah (Makyah) sleeping on the

sofa. We talked about songs, sang some of

their favorites. One they had both learned

in school and said, “Nana, you sing this one

differently!”

It was, “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad!”

Well, I do usually sing the middle part, with

the verses that start with, “Someone’s in the

kitchen with …” and in the car, I replace

the word, “Dinah” with my name, then each of

theirs. We have done this for years, when

Skyler was a baby, my other set of grandkids.

In my classroom, I used to sing this after

the Greeting Song, I learned on Romper Room.

(Yes, this takes me back a lot of years!)

The Greeting Song, goes like this,

“Good morning to you, good morning to you,

We’re all in our places, with bright,

shiny faces.

This is the way, to greet a new day!”

Then, we would launch into the verse

of the Working on the Railroad song

with each of their names… This also

helped them to remember each other’s

names, plus the therapists, especially

the SLP loved this about our classroom.

The theme of railroads is a current one

with children and adults. There are trains

to take across the country, there are

short trains to see Santa Claus, and dinner

trains to go on in nearby Kentucky.

My grandchildren enjoy going to Cleveland

to see the trains in big stores and the

two small ones that go around their Grand

Uncle and Grand Aunt’s Christmas tree.

There is one in Cincinnati, I am sure

in a big collection but cannot remember

which location that my grandsons visited

with my first ex-husband, “Poppy” with

his wife, “Mimi.”

Here are four railroads that have been

given the label of “Most Scenic” and

have both comfort in their transportation

and inside cars, and excellent views of

scenery.

This was taken from Peter Greenberg, who

is known as The Contrarian Traveler, in

AARP Magazine, (May/June, 2009 issue.):

Travel to the country of Norway to use

the Flam Railway. This descends from Myrdal

to the fjords of Flam! You will see waterfalls

and there are lovely scenes of farming

communities. The farmhouses cling to steep

slopes. The Norwegian State Railway is a

longer trip that takes you through glacier-

filled Hardangervidda National Park.

In Mexico, you can rid a longer trip of 408

miles that takes you through tunnels and

over 37 bridges. You pass over the Copper

Canyon (which is four times larger than

the Grand Canyon! Wow!) To stop in a town,

this guide recommends, Divisadero, which

will allow you to get off and view the

beauty and majesty of Mexico’s Copper

Canyon!

The 2,704 miles of Australian countryside

may be viewed on the Indian Pacific railway.

This is a 3 night journey and covers the

whole continent from Pacific to the Indian

Ocean.

You will pass the Blue Mountains, with its

historic mining towns. Another place, The

Ghan Line features views of the Outback’s

landscapes and numerous cattle ranches.

The fourth suggestion of a train trip is

to get on the California Zephyr. It will

take you over 2,438 miles between Chicago

and Emeryville, California. I have mentioned

this trip a few times, in conversations and

to my children and grandchildren, in that

“If I ever won the lottery or someone made

me rich, I would take all of you on this

marvelous trip across our United States!”

You will view the Rockies, the Sierra Nevada,

Mississippi River and Donner Lake. The spa

town of Glenwood Springs, Colorado was also

recommended to rejuvenate oneself and enjoy

your family together time. This is through

Amtrak.

Hope your imagination soared!

When my oldest grandson was only 2, he made

a wish to ride a train like Thomas the Train

engine. It is still a popular dream of mine

and his, to take a wonderful family trip.