Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Time to Give, a Time to Keep

If you've been following this blog for any length of time (or if you care to use the search function) you'll know I've been a supporter of the idea behind the Manilow Music Fund, keeping music education in the public schools. Barry's comment hit the nail on the head - you'd think the public school system would see to these needs, but they don't. (Paraphrasing) I've said in one of my earlier posts that it is unwise at best to leave all of the decisions regarding education in the hands of any government entity. Parents, plus anyone else interested in seeing children get educated need to keep their hands in and keep control.

Barry's idea of contributing to the schools is great. I support it, I practice it with my local private preschool where my kids are enrolled. (Too young for kindgerarten yet.) But with that said, the needs and the processes are not "one size fits all". Not only are needs different, but the process of ensuring that the money actually goes to the MATERIALS USED IN THE SCHOOL varies widely as well.

Why do I have a bug up my ass about this tonight?

THIS: Former DeKalb Schools Chief, 3 Others Indicted

Complaints about this school district have been stinking to high heaven for years. While the Board of Ed makes $100K each (including SECRETARIES pulling down upwards of $90K plus benefits) and the "former Chief" banking a cool quarter mil annually, some school buildings are literally falling apart, steps away from being officially condemned. Musical instruments? How about toilets that flush? Many kids are still waiting on the latter! Even in better neighborhoods schools are so old and overcrowded that the school system sets up trailers with port-a-shits in them as mobile classrooms, rather than build or add on to school buildings.

BTW, have a barf bag handy for the part where he used a state-issued purchasing card to vacation in the Bahamas an buy tickets to the Masters. The indictment is for RICO, kids. Racketeering. We're in Tony Soprano territory now, not just swiping a handful of paper clips.

Before you give ANYTHING to your local schools or whatever - and that is not just money, but time and effort as well - do your homework. Make sure that there is a very short distance between your checkbook and the intended recipient. Can the stewards of your donations account for Every. Last. Cent. of your contribution? Is it getting wasted on administrators and other beaurocrats rather than the children they are supposed to educate? If the answers are "No" and "Yes", respectively, maybe it's better to wait. I know a lot of parents who are going to focus on flushing the poop out of the Board of Ed and stop the (now criminal) hemorrhaging of cash in all the wrong places.

Yes, it is important to give to the schools. I intend to when I'm sure my money and time are spent wisely. But for now, the wallet stays shut and my eyes stay open.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Decision From Hell

OK, folks, here's where I'm at.

Series at the Georgia Tech arts center opens this September. Season opener is Debbie Reynolds. I became a fan of hers when my parents forced me to watch Singin' in the Rain when I was 5. Was hooked on that movie (and movie musicals of the '50s in general) ever since. (Favorite scene: when she pops out of the cake at a bigwig party as a Coconut Grove girl after telling off Gene Kelley for being a lowly silent movie actor.)

The "good" seats include an after-show reception. Now I know I couldn't chew her ear off all night, but I would love to hear how she got to work with Donald O'Connor - the guy could **move** even in his 70s in Out to Sea. What I wouldn't have given for a dance lesson for 5 minutes from him.

And if she felt like telling a story, I wouldn't complain. Movie making seemed so different back then - actors were professionals, and even if they had a "moment" once in a while, you didn't see the temper tantrums every other hour like you do today - and today's actors have so much less talent and skill, IMHO. The timing, the delivery and the physicality of performing, even though there were occasional stunt doubles - people had to WORK for a living in that day!

So here's the issue: the performance is 2 weeks before my due date. My brain tends to stop functioning around that time. It won't turn on until a couple of hours after delivery.

Please leave a comment - do I make my other half grab the tickets or do I let this one pass and wait for a different opportunity when the kids are older?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

This Bears Repeating

Originally posted February 21, 2008
Emphases are new.
Any similarities to the epistle below and the current state of the MMN are purely deliberate.
Before I get into the next chapter of this story, I'd like to put out a heads-up to anyone - fan or artist - who is involved in a fan club or collective of some time.

Be careful what you say and do, especially on the Internet.

People get excited, people want to get carried away. Some people will love everything, others will find something to criticize.

Let. It. Go. Whatever it is, it doesn't matter. Unless your career or family are directly affected, it's not worth getting in a lather. Just turn off the computer and go do something else and it will all go away.

Every fan group on Earth either IRL or the Internet has conflicts. Artists, (and management) stay out of it. It's about the fans, it's not about you and you can't do any good by getting into it. Fortunately, Barry seems to be a smart enough guy to realize this. I haven't seen him post in fan-oriented chat boards, he seems to handle that kind of interaction in structured environments to ensure that conflicts don't happen. There is a parade of other artists that can and should learn from his example.

Fans, when you fight about music and the people who make it, you are not fighting with words or keystrokes. Music is about your immortal soul. When you fight with each other, try to get an artist or their management on your "side", that is what will get damaged - souls. Yours as well as your target. Hurting someone with the thing (music) that they love the most and that inspires them in many ways doesn't always get healed. You have to be very fortunate to recover from that kind of battle. Manipulating your way into the temporary good graces of TPTB on a fan website is one example of this. Hurting others by having them eliminated from "your" domain in hopes of sucking up to Barry isn't going to work. You're wasting your time and your karma points.

Do you want that on your conscience?

If you're using Barry and his music as a weapon you're on dangerous ground. Get off while you can.

TPTB - you didn't get where you are, or get your clients where they are, by being gullible. Anyone on MMN whispering in your ear is out for their own good, not yours. Wake up and smell it already.

Friday, May 7, 2010

What the...?

Did anyone notice that "The Vault" is gone from

Just passing by, happened to notice.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

What a tease....

You may know him as the man behind the microphone of such hit songs as “Copacabana (At the Copa),” “Mandy” and “I Write the Songs,” but Barry Manilow has always been much, much more than just a pretty voice. A songwriter, producer, conductor and musician, Manilow has examined every corner of the music industry and found success in each and every one.

He’s written jingles for commercials—the State Farm Insurance “Like a Good Neighbor” campaign, Band-Aid “Stuck On Me” commercial and McDonald’s “You Deserve A Break Today” campaign, to name a few—film scores and produced platinum albums for fellow music legend Bette Midler, not to mention released dozens of his own albums, many of which have gone multi-platinum.

After decades in the limelight touring the world, the Brooklyn, N.Y. native has spent the past five years in Las Vegas, performing at the Las Vegas Hilton. But a new decade calls for a change of scenery and the prolific artist made the move to the Strip for an exclusive, two-year engagement at Paris Las Vegas in early March.

“I’ve had nothing but fun and good times at the Hilton, but the opportunity to play right on the Las Vegas Strip seemed very exciting,” Manilow says of the move. “The theater at Paris Las Vegas is beautiful and perfect for what I do. It’s a large room, but intimate enough for my music. I’m putting a brand new show together—Paris is all about love and romance, so we’re making it very romantic.”
I never even dreamed about a career as a performer. My goal was to be a songwriter, a musician, an arranger, a producer. Never to be the lead. And never, ever to sing.
A trip to Paris, France, once the wheels of the Paris Las Vegas show had started moving, inspired the intimate vibe of the new production, which takes place in the 1,500-seat traditional, proscenium-style Paris Théâtre. Theater and setting in mind, it fits that Manilow sees the show as a “theatrical experience,” more than any production he has been a part of in the past.

“It’s the most beautiful show I’ve ever been involved with. Beautiful, smart, musical and very exciting,” he describes. “We’re doing lots of the hits, of course, some of the album cuts, a few songs from the new CD The Greatest Love Songs Of All Time and some odd songs here and there.”
Beyond getting inspiration for the show from the City of Lights, the show’s direction is the work of Jeffrey Hornaday, a film director and choreographer who is directing the upcoming High School Musical 4: East Meets West (he also boasts choreography credits that include Madonna concert tours and films—Flashdance and A Chorus Line among them). So expect expert set design, new video elements and a Broadway-style feel fitting for the Paris Théâtre’s classic stage.

Of course, Broadway has always been a jumping-off point for Manilow, whose 2001 concept album Here at the Mayflower is nuanced with Broadway style throughout. He also marks his off-Broadway work on The Drunkard as the first time he knew music would be his life’s work.
“I was hired to play piano for [the show],” he recalls. “I was the entire band! I loved that job. I remember thinking, ‘I want more of this.’”

Manilow’s last work of original songs, Here at the Mayflower is also the artist’s favorite of all the albums he’s recorded during his lengthy career, he says, though it doesn’t look to be his last concept album offering.

“Next up for me is an original album of songs called Fifteen Minutes about a young person who wants fame and blows it,” he says.

Manilow might not have much first-hand knowledge of blowing his chance at fame, but despite the indelible mark he has made on stages the world over, it could surprise fans of the performer to hear that Manilow never intended on becoming the entertainer he is today.

“I never even dreamed about a career as a performer. My goal was to be a songwriter, a musician, an arranger, a producer. Never to be the lead. And never, ever to sing,” he admits. “I only sang my original demos because nobody wanted to record them.”

Now, more than 40 years later, it’s hard to imagine a stage that wouldn’t gladly welcome Barry Manilow to it.


I think we've had enough foreplay about the new record. When are we getting busy?