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I want to tell you

Just have a sec to do a short post, but I want to tell you about some things you might want to check out.

The first is a super-fab, yet somewhat sad, documentary called Good Ol’ Freda. Maybe bittersweet is a better word for it, but it’s a Fredadon’t- miss for anyone who grew up with or has a love for The Beatles.

It’s the story of Freda Kelly, who was just a teenage secretary in Liverpool, when she got called out of a regimented secretarial pool to work for Brian Epstein – and became the secretary for the Fab Four and The Beatles Fan Club, a job she held for 10 years.

372615bShe also singlehandedly wrote The Beatles Fan Club newsletter and made sure all fans were treated with honesty and respect.

And kept close counsel all these years of the private details of the boys’ lives to which she was privvy. She still doesn’t divulge any. She’s a good ol’ girl.

Fortunately for us, my sister, Cathy, our friend Susan Conde, and I went the Monday of the first and only week it played at Market Street Cinema. You’ll have to wait and rent it if you’re in Little Rock, but do see it if you can.

Made me realize again how lucky I was to grow up in the time I did. Just 7 when the boys hit the U.S. airwaves, I was much younger than the screaming Beatles fans who literally chased them around or got to see them live, but my love for them helped shape my life.

I just wish I’d saved all my Beatles bubble gum trading cards and 16 magazines. Sigh.

Muscle ShoalsYou do have time to catch another great music documentary at Market Street – Muscle Shoals, about the recording studios, the people behind them and all the great music that flowed out of them in little ol’ Muscle Shoals, Ala.

Susan and I went back to see it Tuesday night – it opened last Friday and, sadly, starting tomorrow it’s only on in the afternoon, according to Market Street’s website, but if you can get there, get there.

It’s the best music movie I’ve seen in a long, long time. The sheer talent is beyond the pale. Wilson Pickett. Duane Allman. Aretha Franklin. Etta James. And on and on and on.

The music is centered around the story of how Fame Studio was started and how Muscle Shoals Sound Studio grew out of that – well, I don’t want to give too much away, just drive you to the theater. Or to DVD rental.

Wherever you are, if either movie is playing, run to the theater, if you love music and history. You won’t be sorry.

In between the documentaries, John, Cathy, Paul and I saw Gravity. In 3D. It was good. Stunning in many ways – and I love space movies. But it couldn’t compare for me to these two little documentaries.

(Although it made me realize that if I knew I were terminally ill, I’d love to be shot solo into space to see what’s out there. What a way to go, if you’re already going.)

The last thing I want to tell you is that if you have children in your lives, read NurtureShock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman. NurtureShock It will shake up or reinforce your thinking, depending on whether you’re an everybody gets a trophy type or an old-school parent.

Based on study after study after study, it’s anything but dry. Fascinating reading. Entertainingly written doses of useful information.  You’ll be a better parent or grandparent if you absorb even part of it.

And you’ll understand this modern life better whether you have kids or not.

Just had to put that info out there.

 

 

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Day tripper

Though I said I wouldn’t write more about it, people keep asking for details of the Paul McCartney show in Memphis, and since I’ve been a day tripper a couple of times lately, well, what the heck. I’ll write a bit about both trips.

And by now, you can find oodles and gobs of YouTube uploads of the concert, if you want to see more than what I’ve linked above. (Just put in Paul McCartney Memphis or Paul McCartney FedEx Forum.) They’re not bad, but they don’t do the eternal manboy justice. He was a 70-year-old doll and ball of fire.

Balls of fire were literally part of the show on “Live and Let Die.” Cathy and I were in the nosebleed section over the stage (actually good seats, just very high up), and we could feel the heat of the fire jets that shot up at the front and back of the stage several times. And who but Paul McCartney would be allowed to set off indoor fireworks, in addition to the flames?

But I get ahead of myself. Let me back up.

This little guy was sitting on my bed at the Econolodge four blocks down the street from the forum.

This little guy was sitting on my bed at the Econolodge.

Cathy and I checked in our slightly nappy Econolodge with a view of the Forum from our window, after being greeted by the sweetest hotel crew ever, then hoofed it over to Beale Street, where we quickly said “no, thanks.” Memphis, and especially Beale Street are not particularly vegetarian-friendly.

We backtracked a couple of blocks when I spotted Automatic Slim’s, which thrilled me to pieces. (For you non-nerds out there, Automatic Slim is a character in Willie Dixon’s “Wang Dang Doodle,” a marvelous blues song, though I prefer Howlin’ Wolf’s version.)

We sat at the bar and had a quick libation (vodka martini, me; Pinot Grigio, Cathy) and arugula, pear, blue cheese and walnut salads, with a big old platter of hot, fresh-made potato chips covered in blue-cheese fondue – and enjoyed our feisty bartender’s showmanship. She should have a reality show. Didn’t get her name, but you’ll know her by her long black hair and talent.

Then we hit the Forum.

The show kicked off at about 8:34 with “Eight Days a Week,” and we were instantly little girls again. (I know the time because I called Liz and held my phone up in hopes she could hear.) I called Ben at 9:23 when “We Can Work It Out” started, and “Hey, Jude” started just before 10:35, which I know because I recorded part of it for Jude. I don’t have the time of the pyrotechnics, but I filmed some of it before “HJ,” so it was around 10.

Oh, let’s see, what do I tell? “Maybe I’m Amazed,” which Paul mentioned writing for Linda, was the only old solo song Cathy and I remember. Earlier in the evening he did his solo “My Valentine,” which he wrote for his wife, Nancy. He rocked. He rolled. He played the hell out of the piano, either ebony grand or psychedelic-painted spinet, several guitars (including Les Pauls in assorted colors), and his familiar violin-style bass.

The man is immensely talented. If you ever wrote him off as “the cute Beatle” who rode on John Lennon’s coattails (yeah, I’ve heard you my whole life), you are ever, ever so wrong. Each one of The Beatles was an immense talent and together they were perfection.

Old Paul still is, even though his voice has aged and he sings in a lower key. He’s a testament to vegetarianism, I suppose, because he looks and moves years younger than he is (yes, he dyes his hair and eyebrows, but you can’t dye a body or that stamina).

He wore Beatle boots and made me feel old, young, nostalgic, happy, sad, tearful. Cathy and I laughed with glee and reminisced. And evidently sang along a lot, since I had laryngitis for two days after the show.

(I saw George Harrison almost 30 years ago in Memphis, and though he was quite divine himself and I was terribly moved by him, too, this show blew that show away.)

You can find set lists online – this one seems the most accurate to me, since some of the others don’t mention the instrumental “Foxy Lady” tribute to Jimi Hendrix. Paul played a cherry red Les Paul decorated with children with arms up-reached and told a charming tale about when Jimi Hendrix played “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band” while the Fab Four and Eric Clapton were in attendance.

He discussed how influential Memphis was to The Beatles, added that without Memphis music, The Beatles might not have happened. The man is quite chatty and can work a crowd. People of all ages were putty in his hands.

I didn’t scream. But I’m screaming in my head right now as I relive it. I SAW PAUL MCCARTNEY!

•••••••••••••••••••••••

OK, on to the other day trip. You may know that Arkansas is home to the divine Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. If you don’t, it’s a museum of such quality that visitors come from all over the country. Anyone who knows me is bound to know I’m no fan of Walmart, but I am a huge fan of art and appreciate the donation of such a fine, fine museum – with free admission, no less. So thank you, thank you, Alice and family for that.

We’ve wanted to go for ages but since John’s sister, Kitty, was coming this spring, we decided to wait and take her to the crown jewel of Northwest Arkansas, which we did shortly before the scare with Silas. We took the new Cruze up the Pig Trail and stayed with my step-sister Lisa and brother-in-law Steve at their home overlooking Beaver Lake. Lisa, Mother, John, Kitty and I went to the museum the next day.

If you haven’t been, you must go, even if you think you don’t like American art. Even if you really don’t like the early, primitive stuff (which doesn’t hold a candle to the European masters), c’mon, they’ve got Andy Warhol’s Dolly Parton 1985. We saw Mark Rothko’s No. 210/No. 211 (Orange). (Forgot my camera, so forgive the fuzzy iPhone pics.)

Rothko

And this Maxfield Parrish. He’s one of my favorite artists in the world, so it was a superthrill. This one is called Lanterns.

ParrishOf course, you can see better versions at the website. And you should, if you don’t go.

What really tickled me, since I recently read The Devil in the White City (which I highly recommend), about the Chicago World’s Fair (and a serial murderer to boot), of which almost no photos exist, was finding Theodore Robinson’s World’s Columbian Exposition (1894). I might have to buy a print of it someday.

colombian exposition

Again, do yourself a favor and look it up.

Parts of the museum are interactive and the grounds are fabulous. We’ll go back – I hope to see the “Angels & Tomboys” exhibit, in fact, though we passed on the Norman Rockwell exhibit since we were short on time. We did see Rosie the Riveter, though.

Kitty’s trip was cut short a day by her getting stuck in Dallas the first night and coincided with Silas’s hospitalization, but we did have time to take her to some of our favorite restaurants around town. We had lunch at Trio’s and Loca Luna, dinner at Creegen’s and dinner on the deck at Brave New Restaurant, where her sweet brother proposed to moi in 2003. John and Kitty went to Bosco’s and Vino’s – and of course Community Bakery got a couple of visits for sweet necessities.

Even under normal circumstances, there’s just never enough time for visits from family.

And speaking of time, I’m out of it. John Lennon is singing on the iPod dock. Seems a good time to sign off.

Cathy, Paul, John, Kitty and me on the deck at Brave New Restaurant.

Cathy, Paul, John, Kitty and me on the deck at Brave New Restaurant.

Rainy day women

Yesterday was a heavenly day of hanging out with Annabelle and Luke, but today my friend Julia and her daughters, sister Cathy, and I joined hundreds of other rainy day women (and some men) at the state capitol to try to preserve the rights of women in Arkansas.

photo4

In between, we finally bought a new Lollymobile, but that can wait until tomorrow. This is more important.

As I’ve said before, this is not a political blog, and I try hard to stay away from political topics. They consume enough of my life and time as it is. But things are going in reverse in Arkansas, when it comes to women’s rights and reproductive freedom. And I can’t stay quiet about that.

Julia makes a sign. Her four daughters accompanied us. Cathy and I had a sign saying,

Julia makes a sign; her four daughters, who accompanied us, make a very personal reason for caring. Cathy and I had a sign saying, “Crones for choice – past reproduction, not past caring.”

The same state that gave rise to Hilary Clinton is making Wilma Flintstone seem uber-progressive. Actually, Wilma was pretty liberated for the wife and mother in a stone-age family. Perhaps I should change that reference to Melanie Wilkes – though she was a steely spined gal in her soft-mannered ways.

You get the point, anyway, I hope. We’re going backward in time, or forward, to a dystopian future for women, like the one envisioned by Margaret Atwood in A Handmaid’s Tale, if things don’t get turned around.

photo2

I have no interest living in the Republic of Gilead and neither do my friends and family, so for the future and our loved ones, our group walked in the cold, drizzly weather to the capitol grounds to join the protest. After a couple of hours, we were bedraggled and cold, but the discomfort was well worth it.

I was a bit surprised by the hostile stares from a group sitting in the window at Vino’s as we walked home with our signs, but whatever.

Someone has to take a stand.

We’ve come too far to be dragged back to the dark ages. We owe it to our kids and grandkids not to allow it to happen.

Drive my car

When our vehicles were smashed in December (by the dead tree across the street that finally succumbed to wind), Mother was awaiting her back surgery and said not to worry – “You can drive my car,” she said. She wouldn’t be driving for some time , and she wouldn’t have been able to climb into the Jeep for her doctors’ appointments, to which I’ve been taking her.

But she’s back to driving as of today – she passed her driving test Friday (with me as the skills-appraiser) and has her surgeon’s approval to drive wearing her brace. I got her car detailed yesterday and returned it to her.

We’re still in car limbo – the Liberty, which John has been driving, looks new after the much-delayed repairs. It’s a 2006 with just over 30,000 miles on it, so we’re keeping it indefinitely.

Tree down, truck out.

Tree down, truck out.

OuchThe truck is still smashed – the property owner’s insurance agent says the city owns the tree (I don’t see how), and the city says it’s an act of god.  That dance isn’t over, but since we’d just dropped the truck down to liability insurance only, smashed it remains, for now.

The tailgate is a challenge, but the truck still runs.

The tailgate is a challenge, but the truck still runs.

The plan is for John to drive the jeep, relegate the truck to construction-use only and buy a new (red) car. We’re closing in on a high-mpg cutie for me, but I’m not going to count my chickens. More on that after it happens.

In other car doings, we sold Papa Bill’s little Hyundai to our neighbors across the street for their teenage daughter. The first day I opened the blinds and saw it sitting there, it was disconcerting, but now it’s comforting to see it being loved and well taken care of. I’m glad it has a good home.

The car saga continues. But what I really want to address today how curveballs can throw your game of life.

Mother’s doing extremely well surgery-wise. Her general health remains a serious concern, the downturn of which, though we knew it could happen, still caught us off guard. (Things like that always do, I suppose.) Not as much as Bill’s sudden and horrific death, but the two together have made it harder to get back on track – including blogging as regularly as I’d like.

But, in all honesty, commitment has never been my strongest suit. Exercise/fitness/health, yes. Mothering, yes. Those have been the most consistent things in my adult life, along with attention-hopping from one thing to another.

I kept a diary once for an entire year (fifth grade) just for the experience of doing it – and was greatly relieved when that year of commitment was up. I made straight As one grading period in the fourth grade, just for the experience and to prove I could do it (even managed to make one in what used to be called “conduct”), but once was enough. I immediately went back to my slacker “if I make an A fine, if I don’t, oh, well” attitude.

I outgrew that by the time I went back to college as the mother of two toddlers – since then (including grad school) it’s been all As. Nothing less would do. But I digress, as usual.

But I do still hop from one thing to another. My son-in-law says I’m in my “apron-obsession phase.” NewApronMaybe, but I sewed like a fiend for 20+ years, then as needed for another 10, before giving it up forever until a year ago. It was a return to an old hobby, and I’m not over it yet. It’s just been on the back burner of late.

I still have tons of mosaic materials – I’ll get back to that at some point – and piles of books to be read. Procrastination isn’t the driving factor; it’s more that I’m highly distractible, interested in too many things and have too few hours in the day and years left in the life to do everything I want to do. That’s just me, and at this age, I don’t expect (or want) to change.

And I’ve studied personalities enough to know I’m hardwired that way.

BookOn the Myers-Briggs scale, I’m an ENFP, specifically an Idealist Champion. We’re rare types (which is why we seem crazy to some people, I’m sure) and, according to Please Understand Me II (of which I’m on my third, if not fourth copy, since they keep disappearing), we “can appear to be intellectual and emotional butterflies, flitting from idea to idea ….”

The author also compare us to puppies, “sniffing around to see what’s new then barking to let everyone know what they’ve found.”

(Did I mention you really should read that book? Huh, huh, did I, did I? You should, you should. Arf! Arf!)

But I do hope to get back to all the topics I had started and had to drop when life turned upside down for a while.

You may have to help me remember what all they were, though.

Hey, quick, look at that!!

Hey, hey, what can I do?

I’ve been a bad Lolly-diarist lately – life keeps getting away from me. That, plus some crazy hand tendonitis (or whatever it is) has kept me from writing like I should. But, hey, hey, what can I do but start again? I’ll be true. Oh–yeah–oh–ye-ah.

(First, a note to my children: Remember when we saw Page & Plant in 1995 at Barton Coliseum? Can you believe it’s been 17 years?)

Anyway, tomorrow I’m going to get back to the hair episodes, including the one time a haircut made me cry. Sunday I’ll explain how we ended up staying in a castle in Italy. One step at a time gets you back on track, right?

But today, just a note about some of the things that have been keeping me busy.

Jude and I had a sleepover the other night. John was still in Washington, so it was just the four of us, Jude, Tess, Zuzu and me. Tess and Jude slept together all night in the sleeper sofa bed. She always takes her guardianship seriously, but she even allowed cuddle time since Jude’s such a grown up boy now.

Anyway, we watched Boris Karloff’s The Mummy.  Jude dug it, and I dug watching him.

In the opening scene, I recognized something I hadn’t before and said, “Hey, that’s Petra!” Of course ever-curious Jude asked what Petra was, and I explained that it was an ancient city in Jordan, yada, yada. (I also ran to get my iPad to confirm it was Petra. Can’t be wrong when teaching a 6-year-old.)

Later in the movie the characters were talking about being in Egypt, and Jude turned to me and said, “Hey, they said Egypt. You said Petra is in Jordan.”

Smart kid. I explained how the movie was really shot in Petra, Utah and Hollywood. He was cool with that, just wanted to know the facts.

The Mummy is, of course, a fiction movie about a dead man walking.

But sometimes dead men walking aren’t fictional. Last night Julia and I went to hear Ray Krone speak at the Clinton School – what a story and what a guy. He was at one time a “dead man walking,” when he was wrongly imprisoned for a murder he didn’t commit and sentenced first to death, then to life.

In Maricopa County in Arizona, an especially bad place to be on death row.

Fortunately, DNA evidence finally prevailed, and now he’s a motivational speaker and member of Witness to Innocence. You can read his story and about the project here. No matter how you feel about the death penalty, you’ll be moved. I cried hearing him tell it. Again, what a guy.

His Clinton School talk will show up here, though it’s not posted yet. If you’ve never been to a Clinton School lecture/talk/panel discussion, you don’t know what you’re missing. It’s a joy to live in a city with such fabulous free entertainment/edification opportunities. Thank you, Bill. Thank you, Skip and Nikolai.

Do you want to know a secret?

OK, here’s the thing. For a few months, I’ve been sitting on a secret: My friend Julia (Cason) and I have quietly been building a stash of our  wares. We’ve been busy creating, and between that, school and grandkids, The Lolly Diaries have taken a hit.

(School’s out for summer for us big kids, so I’ll do better.)

Julia and I have a web business in our future, but in the meantime, we go live Sunday from 10-2 at the Bernice Garden Farmers Market. If you’re in the Little Rock area, come see us at Daisy Bates and Main. We’ll be there every week.

We’ll have one-of-a-kind aprons (some from vintage fabrics); upcycled denim jackets, shorts and skirts; cool dog toys and accessories; upcycled/recycled purses; occasional mosaics – and whatever else strikes our fancy, I suppose.

We have a business name, VernaJewel, after my ever-so-creative and talented grandmother. We have business cards. We have enthusiasm and supportive husbands.

We even have T-shirts.

Stay tuned for unfolding developments. In the meantime, here’s a peek.

Vintage fabric finds (the top three) and more.

Aprons, aprons everywhere.

The psychedelic fabric is vintage 1970s.

The waiting

The waiting is almost over for Tom Petty’s Verizon Arena show and I couldn’t be more excited.

Maybe that makes me a little girl, but his show in Memphis about a decade ago was probably THE best concert I’ve seen, and his music is a huge part of the soundtrack of my life. And my children’s. Can’t wait.

(Hard Promises,  especially, got me through a dark spell. Be sure to click on “the waiting” link for an excellent version of one of my favorite songs.)

Speaking of important/influential people in my life, two icons from my youth departed in the past week.

As Barnabas Collins in Dark Shadows, Jonathan Frid was an immortal — and someone I rushed home from school to see for a few years – but he passed on Friday, April 13, at 87. (Oddly, just last night I was talking to John about him and we got up to that news this morning. Cue Dark Shadows soundtrack …)

And Arkansas native Levon Helm laid down his weight yesterday at the increasingly younger age of 71.  You made us proud, Levon.

The most important icon from my youth to pass on in April was, of course, my father, who died 30 years ago at 48 on April 24. That’s thirty, 3-0, three decades – so hard to believe in some ways and the reason T.S. Eliot’s “April is the cruelest month,” from “The Wasteland,” sticks so in my head.

And the reason I’m waiting for April to be over this year.

The waiting for the West Memphis 3 to be released from prison may be over, but the waiting for them to be cleared is infuriatingly and embarrassingly far from over, a point made very clear at the William H. Bowen School of Law symposium Wednesday, April 18.

“Exploring Evidence: Lessons from the ‘West Memphis Three’ Cases” was interesting, informative and eye-opening, proving that even though followers might think they know it all, there’s always more to boggle the mind.

This won’t go away, folks. Jason Baldwin, Damien Echols and Jessie Miskelley are still waiting for justice – as are the memories and families of Stevie Branch, Christopher Byers and Michael Moore.

All eyes will be on Arkansas again soon as this mishandled and bungled case gets so much new publicity – movies and books will begin springing up all over later this year.

At some point justice will be served.

••••••••••••••••••••••••••

April may be the cruelest month in some ways, but April in the Quapaw Quarter is beautiful. One of the nicest things about living downtown is walking the dogs, especially through Mt. Holly Cemetery.

Life downtown keeps getting better, too, as Main Street continues to come back to life. Check out the information about an “idea generation” meeting May 5 to be held at the Oxford American, which has big ideas and plans of its own. Promises to be good.

We downtown-dwellers are excited.

Mt. Holly Cemetery is beautiful anytime, but it's especially radiant in the spring.

"Whatcha doing, Dad?" Tess and Zuzu love running through Mt. Holly, but they don't understand stopping for photos.