Waldlaw Blog

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Shout-Out to Mary Travers

I don't know where I was when I heard that Mary Travers died. It isn't like JFK's assassination, or even Michael Jackson's death, where everyone can tell you exactly where they were when they heard the news. In fact, I somehow missed the news completely, and didn't hear about her death until days later. But when I did, it had quite an impact. For those of you who are wondering what the heck I'm talking about, Mary Travers is the "Mary" in Peter, Paul and Mary. I grew up listening to her sing folk songs that remain beloved to me to this day -- Blowing in the Wind, and Puff the Magic Dragon, and If I Had a Hammer, to name a few. More than that, her voice is in the background of so many of my memories of raising my own children. In fact, one of the few concerts I took them to as little ones was a Peter, Paul and Mary concert. Last Sunday, our neighborhood held our annual block party. My partner and I always do the grilling for the event, serving up hot dogs and hamburgers and veggie burgers (this is, after all, San Francisco) for hours on end. Our neighborhood has many, many senior citizens in it, as well as more and more young families -- so the block party involves a steady stream of folks from 95 down to newborns, all mixing and mingling. My partner brings our "boom box" and provides the music. This year, as I came down the street with more supplies from our kitchen, I heard Mary Travers' voice echoing through the neighborhood, and I stopped and just listened for a few moments with a lump in my throat. But then I noticed: the senior citizens were singing along, enjoying the familiar music, and the toddlers were too. From 90 years old to 9 months young, everyone knew the sounds of Peter, Paul and Mary's music. There aren't a lot of singers one can say that about. Mary Travers -- Peter, Paul and Mary -- are beloved to at least three generations. The best way I can think of to honor Mary Travers in her death is to make sure that future generations enjoy her music as much as we did. I know what I'm giving as baby shower gifts from now on....

Monday, September 14, 2009

Lizzie Borden -- Who Knew?!

I just returned from New York, where I was attending the annual conference of the National LGBT Bar Association. After three solid days of speaking at and participating in workshops, I needed a break -- and one of my colleagues was on her way to a show of the new rock musical Lizzie Borden, so I thought I'd tag along. Well, even though I'm from Massachusetts, all I knew about Lizzie Borden came from the one little rhyme I remember from elementary school: "Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother 40 whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her father 41." If this show has any truth to it, there's way more to the story. All of a sudden, sitting in this tiny theater in lower Manhattan, a story started to unwind in which there is a strong suggestion of inappropriate sexual advances by Mr. Borden on Lizzie, and of a lesbian relationship between Lizzie and her neighbor with Mr. Borden reacting with rage and violence to their intimacy. I have no idea if there is any reality to this spin on the Lizzie Borden story, but it certainly made for compelling theater! So I have taken to Google this morning to learn what I can about Lizzie Borden. There's clearly a lot to learn, and I see a trip to the library in my near future. Any Lizzie Borden fans out there with stuff to read or recommend? Let me know!