Music, My back pages, Vespers

Al Jarreau 1940-2017

Back when I sang professionally, I could think of no greater compliment than when some trade paper critic or a fan would say, “he reminds me of Al Jarreau.” No worries I’d be puffed up with delusions of greatness. By then I’d been listening to the guy long enough to know I’d never be that…

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My back pages, Television, Vespers

Two Marys

After the death of Mary Tyler Moore about a week ago, many notables wrote about Ms. Moore’s influence on everything from fashion to career. Most were women who saw her as a role model, a beacon of possibilities in a changing world that now seems so distant we forgot we were once there. She made…

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Music, Vespers

Merle Haggard 1937-2016

There’s a lot of new ground being broken in what we used to call country music.  Lately I’ve been listening to Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton and Jason Isbell mine that primal place where voice and longing collide. I’m impressed they’ve found something fresh and contemporary in the form; it’s no longer necessary to be a hillbilly (or a…

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Architecture, Museums/Galleries, Vespers

Zaha Hadid 1950-2016, Architect

It’s been almost 13 years since luck brought me back to my Cincinnati hometown the exact weekend that Zaha Hadid’s new Contemporary Arts Center (or for those who are sticklers for naming rights, the Rosenthal Center) opened. In a downtown poised to transition from near dilapidation, Hadid’s striking building was a harbinger of what the…

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Film, Television, Theater, Vespers

Patty Duke 1946-2016, Ken Howard 1944-2016

For us union performers, the names Ken Howard and Patty Duke were synonymous with leadership; both served as president of the Screen Actors Guild at pivotal transition times. Duke famously took over the reins from William Schallert, a case of TV-bred nepotism (Schallert played Duke’s character’s father and uncle). More recently Howard shepherded the merger…

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Music, My back pages, Vespers

Horace Silver, Jazz Supernova 1928-2014

Thanks to Horace Silver, the magical moment occurred shortly after I first moved to New York, one of many that effectively, resoundingly, shot down (or made me re-consider) all my country Midwestern notions about…everything. I’d say I was hooked from the moment I heard that sneaky vamp. “Come on Home” was the first cut on…

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Film, New York, Television, Theater, Vespers

The Good Die Young

They died too young.  That’s one of the ways certain deaths acquire the sheen of tragedy.  It’s never that way with long-timers who’ve earned every nail in their coffins: Lou Reed, for one, lived so many professional and personal lives, well, it’s not as if he died unfulfilled.  Most of those elderly titans can rest…

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