A special post for my friends and readers in Seattle - next Tuesday, Nov 3rd, Steve Martin (yes that Steve Martin) will be playing the banjo at Benaroya Hall. He is touring with a wonderfully talented young band from North Carolina, The Steep Canyon Rangers, and the show is terrific.
Wednesday night down here at Disney Hall, the evening opened with a 40 minute set from Abigail Washburn, warm voiced and pretty darn good on the banjo herself. Playing with her were a young and gifted cellist and a fine fiddle player. They did several traditional pieces including a beautiful rendition of "Bright Morning Stars." I especially loved her "Song of the Traveling Daughter." Sung in Mandarin, the piece is an unusual and exciting quilting of traditional American folk chords and rhythms with Chinese chord progression. You can find out more about her here - http://www.abigailwashburn.com/
While Ms. Washburn won't be in Seattle for the November 3rd show you all have the opportunity to see the Steep Canyon Rangers, who have been touring with Martin for the last several months. Named "Emerging Artists of the Year" in 2006 by the International Bluegrass Music Association these guys are fantastic and worth braving a cold, dark Seattle night even if Martin were not playing with them. Fine players all, the skill of fiddler Nicky Sanders nearly brought Frank Gehry's masterpiece tumbling down as we in the audience jumped to our feet and cheered the encore. Do be sure to stay all the way through to the end. Not only are you will you avoid being incredible rude (!) but you'll miss a real treat if you skip out.
Steve Martin, by the way, can really play the banjo. I mean he can really play, this is no movie star vanity project. His album, Crow, which he wrote and released earlier this year, was on the top of the Bluegrass charts for months and though he makes a joke that there was no competition, you can hear the skill and commitment in many of the instrumental pieces. And only Martin's unique wit could come up with a song like "Late for School" which I intend to play for my kids every morning to try to get them out the door faster.
Steve Martin and The Steep Canyon Rangers are playing down at The Orange County Performing Arts Center tonight (10/30) - tickets are available. Next week's Eugene and Spokane shows are sold out but there are tickets available for The November 3rd show in Seattle. Go clap your hands and stomp your feet for a couple of hours. You'll be so glad you did.
The new Cirque du Soleilshow, Kooza,is now playing under the blue and yellow striped tent at the Santa Monica Pier. Go. Even if you have seen other Cirque du Soleil shows, go. Even though the ticket prices are really expensive you must, if you can, go.
In traditional Cirque du Soleil style, Kooza blends acrobatics and clowning, each art practiced at its peak. I am not going to review the show, you can find reviews on line if you like but it's unnecessary. It's not a play - though there is a small story that links the acts together and a beautiful, evocative image at the end - there is nothing you need tothink about, nothing it would help you to know. Just give yourself over to the thrill. How often in this highly mechanized, "celebrity" fetishized world do you get to sit on the edge of your seat, eyes half covered, peaking between your fingers because you are absolutely amazed by real, live, human grace and strength, beauty and skill. You are sure no mortal body can bend that way. You know that the swinging girl above you is about to fly off her rope and land on your head or that the men 25 feet up will, must, come crashing down on the stage. But they can bend, and they don't fall and you have sat there gasping, shouting with laughter, even calling out because you are just so excited some sound must leave your body. There is nothing else like Cirque du Soleil. Kooza will be playing at the Santa Monica Pier through November 29th. There are afternoon and evening performances. The show opens in Irvine on January 8 of next year and in San Diego on February 25 before moving up the coast to Portland and Seattle in the spring.
Food at Kooza
There is one half hour intermission. Snack stands sell ice cream, popcorn and drinks. If you would like to eat before or after the show there are a variety of low-cost, kid friendly options nearby both up on the Santa Monica Pier and on the bike path below. Hot dog on a Stick, for example, is directly south of the Pier down on the boardwalk.
The Lobster, 1620 Ocean Ave, is right at the Pier entrance and is a lovely seafood restaurant. Though I have taken my children there I don't recommend it for kids under 12. It would be a terrific choice for a date or for a group. http://www.thelobster.com/index.php
Does anyone else have trouble getting dressed in the morning? Am I the only one? Everyday I wear some variation of the same thing - exercise pants and a tee-shirt, short sleeved or long, depending on the temperature. And I am sick of it. I know everything would pretty much fall into place if I had an office to go to. Some combination of self esteem, peer pressure and general appropriateness would win out and I would look pretty good most days. But I do not have an office to go to. I am a stay at home mom and I look like shit.
Before you start offering me advice or sending me books with titles like What To Wear: The 36 Essential Items Every Woman Must Own please understand that it's not that I don't know any better. I can usually get it together to look good on a Saturday night. And while I don't entirely love fashion (I can not give my heart to a world dependent on consistently re-enforced inadequacy) I absolutely love clothes; color, texture, workmanship that can make you sigh with pleasure. I read Bazaar, love to shop, am great about sales, am willing to put in the hours at discount stores to find fantastic things at great prices and have worn "vintage" for decades. I have even gotten smart and I now realize that the old "an item that is well made, beautiful and makes you feel fantastic is worth every cent" is actually true. I used to think this was just a marketing ploy to get me to spend more money. The first afternoon I bought a pair of shoes over $500 I had had a glass of wine at lunch. God, I had such buyers remorse. But you know what? I have had those fabulous Fendi shoes for years and worn them many, many times. If I had purchased a cheap pair of black shoes that day I would have replaced them at least twice by now.
So why is it that, even with all of this, if you asked me to describe my "look" and I was honest about it, I would have to say something like "casual house painter" - where is the disconnect? Right now I am wearing a long sleeve blue tee-shirt and the gray exercise pants I've worn 2 days in a row. I won't be wearing them tomorrow because there is a stain from a squished chocolate covered walnut right next to the zipper - a souvenir from today's lunch in the car. I mean, I really look bad.
In my mind, by the way, I look like Katherine Hepburn. In my mind I am also French or sometimes Italian. I look like my current obsession, my fashion idol Ines de la Fressange.
Is she not gorgeous?
Not actually but, you know, when I think of myself, it's kind of along those lines. So why, in reality, do I run around looking like the next candidate on What Not to Wear? What is this all about?
There are a few things going on. First there are confusing and annoyingly psychological forces at play that have something to do with a desire for "truth," what ever that is, and my longing to stand before you in my chocolate covered walnut smeared pants and have you love me anyway, just for me. Yep, a deep seated need for total acceptance is a factor in what I wear and also, sometimes, in how long I will go between washing my hair or getting my color. Also my personality and thus my "style" can probably best be described as unresolved. I could go back into therapy about this but I could also spend the money on a handbag. Or give it to charity. You see.
There are other, less crazy reasons too -
- I share a sink with a 9 year old and I'm a little rushed in the morning
- I have gained a few pounds and I now have lines when I try to wear my favorite pants (please do not say "thong" to me)
- I want to encourage myself to take a walk most days and I think by wearing exercise clothes this will happen
- I absolutely love sneakers
Less crazy but still - not good reasons.
I don't know if I'm actually going to do anything about this. I did get a fantastic haircut last week and I feel worlds better ( no blog lately you may have noticed - very busy and a teeny, weeny bit depressed - better now) but I don't really know if I will start dressing the way I wish I dressed. I am very interested in what you are doing. Do you look the way you want to look? Not the way you think you should look but the way you really want to look? And not on Saturday nights but on Tuesdays at 10 and Thursdays at 3:30? How do you make this happen? If not, why not? What goes through your mind as you are dressing and rushing out the door in the morning?
I have a friend who was one of my housemates in college. Many mornings she would come into my room and pick up off the floor whatever I had been wearing the day before (some mix of thrift shop, Canal Street Jeans, men's clothing, St Mark's Place street vendor scarves, a little bit of the Tweeds Catalog and borrowed items from the theater costume shop - I know it sounds weird now but we were pretty fabulous in the 80s.) Then she would put that on as her outfit for the day. Crazy, right? I loved this about her, fantastic and awful at the same time. But you know what's sad? She wouldn't want to wear one of my old mommy outfits today. She wouldn't be able to anyway - I'd probably already have it on myself.
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