My Country Music Journey: From Intolerance to “I like some of it.”

Tonight, I ushered at a country music event. I do this to get free entertainment. After all the seating is finished, I get to sit (or stand) in the back of the theater and watch the show. My duties include seating people, and telling them where the bathroom is located. It’s one way to get out on a Saturday night.

Country Music wasn’t cool  in my neighborhood

When I grew up, country music wasn’t the kind of music I listened to; my contemporaries and I listened to pop hits.  Country stars, like Dolly Parton, wore hokey clothes, too much garish makeup , and her wigs were downright  strange. She used to do  TV laundry detergent commercials with another country star, Porter Wagner. They gave away towels with each detergent purchase. (She based her famous song, “I will Always Love you” on her parting of show biz ways with Wagner.)

My husband liked Country music  

I met my husband, a nice college guy, from Columbus, Ohio, back in the 70’s. He didn’t reveal to me that he liked country music. Every once in a while a country song would come on the radio and he knew every single word.  I soon realized he was a devoted country music fan.  At first, he didn’t want to share this with me  because he was afraid I’d look down on his musical tastes. I tried to be tolerant about the whole thing, but I should have tried harder. As time went on (15 years or so) I  started enjoying some of the music.

Country Music gained popularity.

After a few years, a lot of people who had snubbed this music started listening to it. I opened myself up a little more to this musical genre. (Obviously,  I am too influenced by what other people think.) Country songs do tell a story. The stories are mostly  about cheating,

Dolly Parton at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.

Dolly Parton at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

getting drunk, going to jail, bad relationships, identity,  love, jealousy and feeling unhappy.

I like the some of the newer stuff because it  sounds more like pop music. I own CD’s by :Carrie Underwood, Shania Twain, and The Dixie Chicks.  Imagine my dismay when I realized a favorite Dixie Chicks song was entitled “White Trash Wedding.”

I still have times when I’m intolerant of country music. I can only take Satellite Radio country music so long. I have to be in the right mood. Early in the morning is not my favorite time to listen to “Willie’s Road House.” The DJ plays a lot of the classics, music I still don’t like that much. The steel guitars and twangy  voices still rub me the wrong way.

I knew some of the words.

Tonight, when I was standing at the back of the theater, I listened to the two opening acts. Surprisingly, the first two acts were pretty good. They were singing some of the classics. I realized I knew a lot of the lyrics, and found myself singing along.

The last act, Jamie Johnson, was a younger guy. He had a classic voice, and his guitar playing was fantastic. He had a terrific, big, back-up band. He had a huge beard and a big pony tail. His clothes weren’t fancy, but the huge bus he had parked by the stage door looked pretty extravagant.

I didn’t make it through the whole show, but I stuck around for most of it. Give me another 10 years or so.
My point: Be open to all forms of entertainment. It might just grow on you!

What’s your favorite kind of music? Have you ever changed your musical tastes?


Why do privileged kids use drugs? Case in point: Stephanie Bonjiovi ( Jon Bon Jovi’s daughter)

Jon Bon Jovi

Jon Bon Jovi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


drugs (Photo credit: the|G|™)

What is wrong with people? Why would an obviously rich beautiful girl with everything she ever wanted be using or experimenting with heroin. I’m talking about Stephanie Bonjiovi,  daughter of rock star,  Jon Bon Jovi.

Why do these kids keep using drugs?

There is so much warning against all this, yet, they still do it. If you have half a brain, you know that this leads to destruction, pain, and a general stupor. Hey, all you have to do is watch TV. Intervention, Dr. Drew, etc. You have to believe our society really is sick. Was there a time when people didn’t do this? Was there a time when they didn’t want to escape?  ( I can almost understand people leading miserable lives escaping, but privileged people?)

I worked in a drug and alcohol facility in a minor job for a while. I spoke to addicts. They referred to all their ingesting of drugs as “partying.”  I couldn’t believe the number of them who would smile remembering how fabulous shooting themselves up felt. Most of them refused to believe it was a problem.

Maybe they should switch the name from partying to  “killing yourself.” It doesn’t sound as great to say, “I was out killing myself the other night with my friends. We wanted to see which one of us could die first? It was so much fun!” Do these people sound like complete fools to you?

Many of the people I met were ordinary people , and from all walks of life, but once they got into that world they couldn’t get out. You knew that coming to the drug facility wasn’t going to work for many of them. You knew they were going to come back. It’s a hard thing to stop. Isn’t that common knowledge? 

None of the people I spoke with were particularly happy, especially the ones going to jail. Especially the ones who humiliated themselves to get drugs. I heard some horrible stories. People who were given drugs at 4 or 5. People who were expected to get their parents drugs. Poverty, sickness, stealing, and everything in between.

I just don’t get it. Why can’t we get these kids to stop trying to get a thrill out of anesthetizing themselves?

How many warnings do people need?

Why do you think drugs are persisting despite all the warning against them? I’d appreciate your comments. I really want to know.


“Esther and Me” at the CJFilm Festival Inspired Me

I’ve been attending the Columbus Jewish Film Festival for the past few weeks. I’ve really enjoyed all the films. I think independent movies are the best movies being made today.

Today I saw a short little film that really spoke to me. It is called  “Esther and Me.” It was directed by Lisa Geduldig. She made a little film about a very charismatic woman that she met in a Jewish nursing home in New York.

Geduldig meets Esther, a resident of the nursing home, when she runs an activity at the nursing home. . She strikes up a friendship with Esther, who is in her late 80’s.  She used to be a gorgeous fashion model, and then had a career as a stand-up comic. The pictures of her in her youth are particularly striking. Even in her old age,  Esther still looks pretty good.

Her marriage, if she had one, is entirely left out of the film. There is a mention of her daughter, but we don’t meet her. We do know that she has grandchildren because they make an appearance.

Why I liked this film

Although Esther has been sick, and has a shaky hand, she is still vital. She cares enough about herself to still put on makeup everyday. She still makes jokes, and is the life of the party. She enjoys going to the theater and staying up until 11:00 talking to Geduldig.

It reminds us that just because you’re getting old, you’re still a human being who wants and needs recognition, and has something to contribute. Esther seems like she’d be fun to be around. She still has style, and likes to go out. She hasn’t given up on life, and is a fighter, not a complainer!

The most exciting part of the film was when Geduldig gives Esther a chance to do her stand-up act in front of a crowd, and she gets a standing ovation.

Esther gives me some hope

The one message I got out of the movie is you’re not out of the picture until you take yourself out. Although I’m not close to being 89, I am getting close to 65.  It is a little daunting. I always do have the security of knowing I’m not alone. (The Baby-Boomers are quite a presence.)

It also served as a reminder to really talk to the people you admire while they’re still on this earth. Better yet, use your expensive gadgets to document them

Are there older people in your life who inspire you?

Lisa G & Shelley Berman

Lisa G & Shelley Berman (Photo credit: lisagsf)

Sometimes, Knowing I’m Just an Animal Creeps Me Out! How about you?

The Shaggy Dog (2006 film)

The Shaggy Dog (2006 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I sat in a restaurant happily chowing down on my tuna melt, I looked around. Everyone else in the restaurant was also chomping down on their food. Some were doing it more politely than others.  When you think about it, it’s really disgusting. We’re all put together the same way, need food to eat and that’s how we get energy. It goes through our digestive system the same way; and you know how that ends up.  Just like the other animals. Of course, we have a more sophisticated way of doing away with our waste.

Women get pregnant and have babies just like elephants, dogs, cats, cows, horses, and other mammals. Horses seem farther ahead. When they have a foal, it stands right up. No waiting for a year to a year-and-a-half.

Human beings are born with bigger heads. Their body has to catch up with their heads. That’s really weird. It’s like we’re the space aliens, when you think about it.

Sometimes, when I realize we are all just animals, I get creeped out. I know some of you may say, we’re spiritual, and that’s how we’re different. I say, ” how do you know animals don’t have their own way of being spiritual?” Maybe we’re not smart enough to see it.

They have families, just like us

Animals even form family groups, just like us. When we had birds, it was interesting to notice that both the mother and father bird were very attentive to the babies until they pushed them out on the perch. After they did that, they acted like they didn’t know them at all.

When I went whale watching in New England, it was interesting to learn that they form very strong family groups. They follow each other across the ocean. There’s real loyalty in that group, just like human beings.

The chimp family at The Columbus  Ohio Zoo has an established family group: mother, father, kids, grandparents and great grandparents. When one of the babies was sick and taken away, the grandma and mother were obviously depressed. They just laid around until the baby returned to the family group.

Watching little kids is like watching puppies or little monkeys. They play just like other animals. They like to explore and touch each other and innocently destroy anything in their path. Any eighteen-month kid will stick about anything in their mouth. Once they learn to walk, they are like little puppies that need to go to Obedience school.  It’s a good thing our little kids smile disarmingly at us; otherwise, we might throw up our hands and walk away.

Go to the zoo and watch the chimps. Better yet, watch the human animals watching the chimps. And why do we like to watch other animals in the first place? I get creeped out when I think about our DNA being 99% like the great apes. When you look into those zoo ape’s eyes, from a distance, they do look almost human.

What’s really strange is that human beings keep other animals for pets. They like the love they get from the creature. It’s less complicated than a human relationship. (Unfortunately, this human being sneezes their brains out and breaks out in hives from cats, dogs, etc;, or I’m sure I’d have one too.)

In the Animal Kingdom they destroy each other, just like us

Just watch the animal kingdom on TV. They are always going after each other, and protecting their territories. They tear each other to ribbons, just like human beings.

How are human beings different? They’re smart enough to have discovered weapons that will destroy the whole human race. That, terrifies me. So, I try not to think about it. We also fade away, just like other animals. The older I get, the more I really try not to think about that.

Movies about people turning into animals still scares me

When I was a little kid, my family went to the movie theater to watch the original Disney movie, “The Shaggy Dog.” It’s about a kid turning into a giant shaggy dog. Everyone else was enjoying the film and laughing. I burst out in very loud sobs, and my parents had to take me home.

A classic 1941 werewolf movie, “The Wolf Man,” that  I caught on TV at age 8, scared me to death for at least 2 years. If I see that movie is playing on TV, I won’t put it on. Even though it’s only a movie, I don’t want to revisit it.

Am I the only one that gets creeped out at the idea that we’re only animals?

What creeps you out? Care to share?

Thanksgiving: A Time to Treasure your Family

I have some happy memories of Thanksgiving when I was a little girl. My immediate family would gather round the table. This included my grandparents, my parents and my two sisters.  I was the youngest!  I felt very happy and loved in my family, and enjoyed those celebrations.

Although both my parents had big extended families,we never shared Thanksgiving with them. It was a pretty simple holiday. My mother insisted on being  alone in the kitchen preparing the meal. We knew to stay out of her way.  If we went near her or her preparations, she would get really upset. She wanted everything to be perfect.

It wasn’t a totally traditional American menu because it always included chopped liver, and Matzah Ball Soup. We had the other things: stuffing, turkey, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, green beans with mushroom soup,  cranberry sauce, a salad, and pumpkin pie for dessert.

My mother never changed the menu.  It was the same every year. Later, my sister added her cherry jello mold (with sour cream) which I later added to my own celebration. Unfortunately, I never wrote down my mother’s recipe for matzah balls, chopped liver, or stuffing. I’ve made all those things, but it never tasted like my mom’s.

One day my oldest sister offered to take over the Thanksgiving celebration. (By this time, one of my sister’s and her husband had moved out-of-town.) My mother was happy to relinquish her role as hostess.

Now, our celebration included my two nieces, my brother-in-law,  and their dog, Gus, who gleefully ate all the scraps. (By this time, my grandparents were long gone.)

Eventually, my family scattered, and Thanksgiving together came to an end.

I did get everyone together for Thanksgiving in 1979, but it never happened again.

Siblings: TOS

Siblings: TOS (Photo credit: rbarenblat)

Nothing lasts forever, even families. The best thing to do every year is be thankful for what you do have, and savor every moment together.

Happy Early Thanksgiving!

I’d welcome comments about your childhood Thanksgiving celebrations! What’s your happiest memory?