Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Homesick

I'll begin with my 'good excuse' for not doing my weekly blog...the weekly essay that I promised myself I would do. I've been ill with a summer cold (cop out?) home sick, feeling feverish and crappy...holding up on my couch coughing with a book, a cup of tea and my herbs.

Home-sick /hom,sik/ adjective experiencing a longing for one's home during a period of absence from it. synonyms: yearning for home, feeling nostalgic, pining; feeling estranged, alienated; lonely, unhappy, sad.

Maybe I'm a bit of that kind of homesick too. When I wrote "home sick" I asked myself
"what is home to me anyways?"
Since George has been living in LA part time my home feels less "homey" for sure. Especially when you're under the weather and  (I must admit)  it is so lovely to have someone bring you that cup of tea and give you a little sweet sympathy for looking so pitiful.  So I guess I am yearning for that complete sense of home a bit....but no regrets...we are on an adventure and I'm in.  No looking back at this point! The up side of the miles between us is that I tend to sit with my music more often, which is a good thing.

The last few weeks have been productive as far as writing music...Hmmm...you see how wonderful writing is?  I wrote that sentence and realized that I should never use my relationships as a logical excuse for not being productive! That's a cop out. There's that word again:

Cop-out  / noun / Kåp-aüt / 1.) an excuse or means of copping out: pretext 2.) informal / avoid doing something one ought to do.
Use of the term began in the early 1900's after the publishing of The Fortune Hunter by Joseph Vance "He simply can't fail to cop out the best-looking girl with the biggest bank-roll in town" / based on one of the many standard English senses of "cop"- to snatch, steal or grab.
In the '50's to cop-out evolved to refer to making a full confession...from this it moved on to mean backing down or surrendering. In the 60's it developed still further to suggest a person was making excuses or taking the easy way out.

Thank you Merriam Webster.

Here is a small sample of last weeks work. Some lyrics to a tune I wrote which we will debut at the Elephant Room on Friday, July 21st
I'll be singing with a group of dear old friends and I look forward to it!
Peggy Stern on piano, John Fremgen double bass, Scott Laningham drums and John Mills woodwinds.

Always Only You

Going back
Remember me
Close your eyes
Tell me what you see
Feels like not long ago
A fire burned so
It could be seen from a distance
Now like the ash 
From an inferno spent
Delicate so light 
It takes flight
on a breeze recalling
Loves heat
But the truth is I still fall to my knees
When I think of the past don't you know who I see

Only You
Always only you
Coloring
Everything I do
When I feel the wind
On my face
It's you I feel like a grace
I feel you moving right through me
Here you reside 
In every part of what is me
I know distance and time
Are a lie I choose not to see
Here is my kiss for the ghost of your lips
And your spice on the air follows me everywhere

Only you
Always
Only you




Thursday, June 8, 2017

Observing outside and in.

On a flight from Austin to Charlotte
On board, there was a young man two rows ahead...my sons doppelgånger, if my son had an alternate reality as a young attorney...not the artist that he is.
Same square jaw...sharp features...honest focused eyes framed by hip Warby Parkers.
But this doppelgånger was donned in expensive suit...shiny shoes...with brown leather satchel.
Catching myself staring at him, I looked away not wanting to seem weird....thinking: "I'll tell him if I run into him at Starbucks on layover that he has a double in my son."

Walking to the next gate. Charlotte to Buffalo...I kept stride behind three guys who looked like they'd be my friends...guitar over shoulder...sax case at side...third guy most likely a drummer.
I asked sax guy: 
"what kind of music do you play?"
"Blues"
"Oh yah? Cool! I'm a jazz singer based in Austin."
A more familiar smile broke. "Oh wow! We're with Dede Bridgewater!"
I thought he probably said "blues" because "jazz" is a dirty word.
"Dede! No kidding!!"
Now they all smiled. We were in the same club. I was some middle aged white lady in the Charlotte airport who knew Dede Bridgewater's music. 
"Have a great gig!"
"Thanks!  Yah! You too!"

Sweet.

O.K. Here's my gate.
Buffalo boards in 33 minutes. My imagination or do these folks look like Buffalo? Not so much Austin...or New York.
Dude...large with gimme cap and Hooters Aruba T...elderly woman Buffalo Bills sweatshirt. gold shiny sneakers, thick rimmed glasses, brown dyed hair.
I'm being judgmental...mental me.
I love Buffalo.
Find my way to my seat. 23 D.
A skinny toothless smelly man
and nervous goth teen daughter are trying to find 23 E & F
The flight attendant seemed annoyed with both of them trying to help them find their seats.
He finally settles in...next to me...teen at window seat.
"Shit that stewardess cops some attitude. Over book these flights. Shit. Them seats in back is open. Shit"  He says under his breath...not to me or to anyone in particular, but to the air.
Trying to smooth testy flight attendant vibe floating about the cabin I say: "Yah. I noticed. Maybe she's having a bad day."
I offered my iPhone charger to nervous daughter who was at 4 percent on her device... now we are friends.
At first they both looked so rough, but now I listen...to the skinny toothless father...talk comfort to nervous goth daughter...calming fear of flying...a gentle care for her...and I am touched.

Now I'm sitting...reflecting on last Saturday's wonderful festival. Lulufest was beautiful, and I feel so inspired about making this happen annually in Austin. So happy to be creating something musically important with Peggy Stern and sharing the stage with artists like Ingrid Jensen, Helen Sung, Albanie Falletta, Susanna Sharpe and so many other spectacular artists...both men and women.
Here are some images from the day:

Master Class Students 
with clinic leaders, Suzi Stern, Helen Sung, Masumi Jones, 
Peggy Stern, Joey Colarusso and Ingrid Jensen



Ingrid Jensen Quartet
with Jon Wiken, Daniel Durham and Peggy Stern


Helen Sung Trio with Boris Kozlov and Darryl Green


Ingrid Jensen



Students performing at Master Class


Helen Sung giving feedback at Master Class


Albanie Falletta 


Monday, May 22, 2017

Born 2000 years too late?

Teaching voice to teens keeps me aware of popular culture, and I'm grateful for that.  I immerse myself in a Katy Perry tune or a Taylor Swift song so I can better establish what it is my student wants to achieve through working on some of that material.  I'm often pleasantly surprised by how a simple lyric can be so clever, and I also appreciate the fact that writing a catchy tune with only a 4 note range is an accomplishment in and of itself.  Those 4 notes usually come back to haunt me, looping around in my head...over and over and over while I'm trying to fall asleep at night.

That being said...the "I appreciate simple can be great" thing...I sometimes feel like such an anachronism as far as music and poetry are concerned. I know I'm being a bit snarky here, but check out some Katy Perry lyrics:
"Cause I'm all that you want boy,
All that you can have boy,
Got me spread like a buffet,
Bon Appetit Baby!"

 (To be fair, It's funny...and it's great to dance to...)

Now check out some text that actually makes me let out an audible "wow"
Sappho 31 written in the 4th century BC, One of Sappho's most famous poems originally written in the Aeolic dialect so I'm not sure that this is the best translation...but it's still beautiful...and the point is...it's WAY OLD! Thus the anachronistic sensations I'm suffering from.

"He seems an equal of the gods,
That man who sits across from you
and your sweet speaking, being near,
I can overhear.
And that seductive laugh, which sets the heart to flutter in my chest
For when I glance that way,
My words dissolve unheard.
Silence breaks my tongue and subtle fire streams beneath my skin,
I cannot see with my eyes, or hear through buzzing ears"

There's more but I'll stop...

And then there's Rumi of course! A spring chicken next to Sappho:
"She drank a cup of ruby wine and sat by my side.
Holding the lockets of her hair, my face became all eyes, and my eyes all hands"

"Sometimes I call you wine...or cup,
sunlight ricocheting off those,
or faintly immersed in sliver.
I call you trap and bait,
and the game I'm after, all
so as not to say your name."

OK not the greatest material for a pop hit but just sayin'...
this was written in the 13th century and his stuff still makes so much sense to the human heart. 
Assuming the planet survives, will they be reading Taylor Swift in the year 4010? Maybe...but I kind of doubt it.
Maybe Dylan...good chance Joni will survive another 2,000 years.
Leonard Cohen?  Yes definitely.
But that's not generally the stuff my 16 year old students are listening to.

Perhaps I was born 2,000 years too late.


photo by Brenda Ladd Photography


Speaking of times and dates:
This Friday, May 26th I'll be singing at the Elephant Room...performing original material with lyrics penned my moi.  Not exactly Rumi, but Stern circa 2017.

The Elephant Room
315 Congress Ave.
9:30 to 1:30
GATO 6
Suzi Stern with George "GATO" Oldziey piano and accordion, Zack Varner woodwinds, Dennis Dotson Trumpet, Alex Browne Bass, Daniel Dufour drums and Bruno Vinezof percussion.

If you're in the Austin, Texas area I hope you can join us!

Thanks for reading my blog!

Much Love,

Suzi

P.S.
Please check out the web site and see who will be featured on a wonderful day of concerts and workshops which are part of Lulu Music Festival which I am proud to be the assistant director of:  www.lulu-fest.com
The festival will be held on June 3rd at Saint Edwards U Jones Hall, in Austin.
Helen Sung, Ingrid Jensen, Susanna Sharpe, Peggy Stern, Masumi Jones, Albanie Falletta, Suzi Stern, Michael Longoria, Sergios Santos, Marco Antonio Santos, Juliana Silveira, Glenn Rexach, Tonico Vanalli and more...





Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Trees and human evolution...or not.

I'm traveling around the Left coast again this week...soaking up different vibes from the various places that surround the big megalopolis that is Los Angeles California, and onward up to Portland Oregon.
Pasadena and Alta Dena feel relatively laid back considering they're part of such a huge metroplex.
I came up with a theory as to why that is...perhaps places that still have trees in abundance make for happier humans living amongst them.
I have a physical reaction that feels like joy when I'm near trees. Pasadena has trees...lots of tress...they're flowering purple and pink blooms right now and when the petals blow off of their stems it's like a pastel snow flurry.
For me, the Pacific North West is insane joy as far as trees are concerned. They smell like sweet pine and they are magnificently tall. The tops of those trees understand a completely different world...they most certainly host an entire eco system different from anything we're used to so far below. They are magical...powerful, and I am in awe of them.
Walking in Washington Park which is a forest right in the middle of the city, I began thinking that people who live near these monolithic beauties must by nature be more evolved and at peace in general.
 I was ruminating over this theory while drinking a cup of tea in a coffee shop in downtown Portland. Everyplace in Portland has great coffee. Coffee is the perfect thing to indulge in on a rainy Oregon day...but I was sitting in this café on the rare cool, cloudless sunny spring day.
Because of the cozy size of the place the tables were all very close together and I couldn't help but overhear the conversation at my neighbor table of 4 hiply dressed 20 something's.
I thought eavesdropping might allow me an opportunity to test my theory about natives of a place that's so close to grand nature and the awesomeness of those brilliant trees.

The one young woman at the table of four spoke.
"I wanna get a tattoo.  Not a serious tattoo. Maybe like a borrito tattoo. I wonder if I could find a good artist to do like a creative tattoo of a borrito. I love borritos. I got a tattoo when I was like super drunk once, but I don't like it anymore.  It like really hurt to get it too."

Some suggestions about where she might find a good artist to permanently embed a burrito onto her body were tossed around, which is when I started drifting in my own thoughts again.
Really? A burrito tattoo? Should I warn her that the chances are excellent that she won't like that tattoo in a few years either?

Hmmm...I will rethink my theory about the energy of trees assisting in the evolution of humans who live amongst them. The jury's not out on that one yet.

On another topic altogether I have some musical events coming up that I'd like to share with you!
I will be back in Austin, Texas singing with GATO 6 at the Elephant Room on Friday May 26th from 9:30 PM to 1:30 AM  This band is always so much fun! The charts are fantastic and the guys in the band are too!

Then on Saturday June 3rd Lulu Fest!  
I'm the associate director of an amazing music festival which will take place on the campus of Saint Ed's University in Austin On Sat. June 3rd.  An afternoon of music clinics and masterclasses will be followed by an evening of fantastic concerts... every band led by a woman. Ingrid Jensen, Helen Sung, Albanie Falletta, Susanna Sharpe, Peggy Stern, Suzi Stern, Masumi Jones and many of Austins top musicians joining them like Joey Colarruso, Michael Longoria, Daniel Durham and many more.
Please visit the site to buy tickets today!!  http://lulu-fest.com/

And please consider subscribing to my blog if you haven't already! It gives me the incentive to write and I welcome your feedback always! The subscribe thing-y is on the right column of this page, and you can un-subscribe just as fast as a click if you so wish. Thanks for being out there and for supporting art! (don't say, who's Art?)
xo
Sooz




Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Not Invisible...

George has started a weekly blog about music and life recently. We decided to bring our lap tops, a blanket and some veggie wraps to the Huntington Gardens in Pasadena, lay under the palm trees in the shade and do our weekly blogging together.

When We arrived at the gardens, we went into the cafe near the entrance to buy something to drink for our blogging lunch.  There was a line at the counter,  but queueing always affords a great opportunity to 'people watch' so I didn't mind. The adorable young barista behind the counter was quite chatty as he waited on a young pretty girl at the head of the line. They talked about various things while he placed her order. The next person in line ahead of me was a good looking young man who ordered an ice tea. The guy behind the counter was totally engaged with this customer...smitten might be a better description...which was cool...I thought it sweet actually. Then it was my turn. "Hi!" I said gleefully, (as I was looking forward to this upcoming picnic) putting my two bottles down on the counter. Glancing up at me for only a second and with out a smile he replied "just the two teas? 6 dollars."
Feeling invisible, I guess I wanted to grab his attention for a minute of human interaction.  I replied loudly...too loudly...and as the words came flying out of my mouth I even surprised myself with the volume "Thank you!  Yes just these two teas!"
He of course looked up at me...how could he not?  I handed him my money, smiled and left.

While George and I walked to the perfect spot to lay out our blanket and set up shop, I asked him if he as a man had noticed a shift in the way people interacted with him as he aged. Was this just a phenomenon that women experienced?  Looking at human beings as a species, with their mating rituals of constant youthful flirtation, I totally understand the abnormally exuberant if not absurd attention I received when I was young.
I have heard over and over, and I do believe that we as aging women should embrace every single wrinkle because with those lines comes life's information embedded into a face and a body full of experience.  So is it a social thing that I often feel invisible? Do other cultures respect and honor age more than we do?

Just food for thought!  When I stopped pursuing my career as a ballet dancer at 19 and changed directions to focus on becoming a jazz singer I felt that music could be forever...unlike dance where my body would have real physical limitations at a certain point.  Music was an ageless artistic expression that an aging body couldn't prevent me from continuing with full force.
Now that I'm older I see that this is sort of true and sort of not true.
Of course the music and the expression and the passions are there..more than ever but sometimes it feels like it's more difficult to be seen.

The old wise one at the beautiful Huntington Gardens!

Green toe nail polish...







"


Friday, April 21, 2017

Music, Money and Mara Lago.

I've been thinking about how fortunate I've been to have music be such an integral part of my life... forever...for as long as I can remember.  Music wasn't something outside of the realm of my day to day world...it was a part of my day to day world.


This is me circa 1958.

Music was probably buzzing around somewhere in that little head. I distinctly remember the day that photo was taken. My Grandmother Grace was making spaghetti in a huge pot over a camp fire. Who does that!? She was amazing. Anyways, it was a glorious day on Lake Winnepesaukee in New Hampshire.  There was clean water, pine scented air, my big family and of course music.

When I think about Trump's plan to cut funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities ENTIRELY ( this is the first time any president has ever proposed such a measure) I am beyond angry.  I think of the lucky little girl I was and how rich my life has been because of Art and Music. It makes me ill to think about today's young and budding artists having a much harder time than I did getting that part of their spirits fed.  It is unthinkable. It's unfair. Art and music should not be extraneous luxuries.  They are essential.

I never met my grandfathers. They were both gone before I was born but they were both artists. My paternal grandfather was a shoe maker but he played violin with a passion. He passed that love of the instrument on down to my father who made his life playing jazz violin.

My maternal grandfather was an actor, acrobat and comedian in Vaudeville.

This is my uncle Don with Grandpa Thomas dressed for the act "Bouncing Fools"
"Monroe and Grant" were on the bill with a young Frank Sinatra, The Marx Brothers, Bob Hope, Abbott and Costello...very cool stories live on about his life on the road!

Mom followed in her fathers foot steps and became a fine singer and doubled for Diana Durbin in Miss Durbin's films out in Hollywood.

That's mom on the far left...she was adorable!

For a while she toured all over the U.S. in acts with the Hollywood doubles and sang her heart out!  That's her on the far left of photo.

So I never thought that art and music were a peripheral aspect of life...it was a necessary and constant part of life.  
Today I find so much joy in teaching music to young interested talent. I see how it excites and enriches each student I work with...young and old alike. I'm still wrapped in music every single day. 


This is mum today...listening to a recording of my husband George's music being played by the Bratislava Radio Orchestra in Slovakia.  As I said young and old alike are enriched by music. She turns 99 this year! Take a look at music joy on that face.  George's music is beautiful and lifts the heart and spirit!

And this is my mothers Great Grandson....he too loves the violin.  My father would be so happy...


See the similarity? 
This was my father in 1989. He had fabulous white hair that flew wildly when he played.

So...back to our current president? 
Here's my message to you D.J.T.
"Donald..cutting funding for the arts is unthinkable. I think we need to cut funding your trips to Mara Lago, no? 
One trip to Mara Lago costs taxpayers $3.6 million, and I see that you go there quite a bit sir." 


OK I will stop preaching. But on the subject of Art and Money, the music festival that I am the associate director of "Lulufest Austin" (which will take place on June 3rd)  needs more funding. No surprise there, right?  
I will be having a fund raising concert this Sunday April 23rd at Casa Karen 3:00 PM and I hope you can make it!  If you'd like to attend please email suzistern@gmail.com for details like directions and time and suggested donations. 
 I will be joyfully singing with the amazing Peggy Stern (no relation)  on my 9 foot concert grand, Sam Pankey on Bass, Michael Longoria on drums and Joey Colarusso on sax.  It will be a great afternoon of Salsa, jazz, tango and more!

more info on the June festival coming up at: Lulu-fest.com  check out the line up which is stellar, and the workshops offered all day!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Pearl Inside Of The Shell

I have been remiss in sticking to my commitment to do a weekly blog, but I am back and moving forward with the plan!
The short spring that Texas experiences is here in full force. Beautiful cool evenings and just enough rain to make things lush in new green-ness. I know the heat of summer is minutes away, so I'm remembering to enjoy the days that I'm able to enjoy in Austin's spring.
The "living between L.A. and Austin" experiment is proving to be interesting but a bit difficult energetically.  I'm psychically always somewhere else...sort of out of my body and it takes some effort to be present in my body where ever I am literally. 
I think being able to transport ourselves over thousands of miles in a matter of hours in a speeding silver tube in the sky makes it confusing to truly be whole where ever we've traveled to until our bodies and minds catch up at the destination. 
Walking to L.A. from Austin might give me a more realistic perspective of time and distance...well that's not happening.

In my "present" moments in Austin I'm writing a new song and a rough of the poem is below. The Pearl Inside Of The Shell.

Hopefully a new CD will appear in 2017 with all the most recent material I'm working on. 

In the mean time I'm excited to be singing with a group of musicians that jazz pianist Peggy Stern put together for a concert we'll be doing at: 
Casa Karen in Austin on Sunday April 23rd from 3:00 to 4:30.  
If you'd like to attend, drop me an email and I'll pass along the details! suzistern@gmail.com

Also please check out the Lulufest Music Festival ( which I am the associate Director of ) that's coming up on June 3rd at Jones Auditorium in Austin!
Web site with details:  http://lulu-fest.com/

me trying to be present in my body!




The Pearl Inside Of The Shell


Weightless, 
she drifted on water
Her feet wet, 
with mud of brown earth
That she will carry with her, 
to step upon a new shore
And walk into the unknown, 
not knowing what lies before.


She watched death,  
he feasted on sorrow.
Their eyes met, 
to challenge her fate.
“Don’t look away he dared her, 
come sleep with me with out fear…
I offer you sweet blindness, 
to all you loved and held dear.”


“You are not my lover…
I am not your whore, 
so lie beside another,
Let me wash ashore”
A lifted flag will fly…
Though not afraid to die…
Life is like surrender.


The ocean, 
holds secrets in fathoms
Beneath her, 
the salt of their tears
A wish for opal stillness
The fog that hides a farewell
A welcome quiet stillness
The pearl inside of the shell



Thursday, March 30, 2017

L.A. VS Austin?

It's been a beautiful day on the left coast reunited with my hubby for a week.  We walked to the Huntington gardens / art museums and had lunch in the Chinese garden there. The Huntington is only a 25 min. walk from our little apartment in Pasadena and it's a paradise in the middle of the city.

We are both constantly comparing the livability of Pasadena VS Austin...Weather? Recycling? Work for composers? Work for Jazz singers? (haha!  that's a good one! ) Polite people? Gun Laws? Traffic? Walking distance to cool things? The Arts? Politics? Great restaurants? Live music? The Symphony? Ballet? Jazz? Distance to hiking trails? Tough call!  But one definite is that there's more work here for a film score composer and orchestrator, so onward with our plan!

This experiment of living between the two cities for a year is proving to be an interesting challenge. It has it's pros and cons for sure.  On the up side of things our time apart makes us value our time together all that much more...and we are both working on what we need to work on with a heightened sense of focus because we really want to make an informed decision by the end of the year.

So George is madly writing cues for TV and film and submitting to different projects and I'm spending more time writing new music and preparing for my next recording project and I'm also the assistant director of what I hope will be an amazing annual Austin music festival, called Lulufest.

On April 23rd  Jazz pianist and Lulufest director Peggy Stern and I will be hosting a fundraiser / concert for Lulufest and hope that we'll get a good crowd.

Spread the word!  

The concert will be at Casa Karen

Sunday April 23rd  from 3:00 PM to 4:30

Donations taken at the door!

Dancing, music, listening, food, drink and fun!

reservations required:
Email: suzistern@gmail.com for details and to reserve a place!

Suzi Stern  /vocals
Peggy Stern / Piano
Sam Pankey / Bass
Joey Colarusso / woodwinds
Michael Longoria / drums

To pre order tickets for Lulufest coming up on June 3rd go to www.lulu-fest.com
You can read about the day of workshops and concerts that we have planned and purchase tickets on the site!  Two of our special guests will be Trumpet master Ingrid Jenssen leading her own group and the remarkable jazz pianist Helen Sung fronting her ensemble (both from NYC) and several other amazingly talented "women led" bands that will highlight the day!

And for now:
Here are some images from my fabulous day off today!









Tuesday, March 21, 2017

A not really SXSW story


Having George in another city part-time has me venturing out solo more than I have since we've been married.  The result is I’ve been made more profoundly aware of strangers around me and the conversations they’re having...wondering what they’re about and who they are as they pass me in the streets or sit near me on the train. 

Speaking of the the train, I took it from North Austin downtown for SXSW last week. It was packed solid…all the seats taken and commuters standing shoulder to shoulder. I didn't mind at all…  having lived in NYC this seemed typical and it gave me a chance to hide behind some big guy's denim jacket and backpack so I could secretly observe people and wonder what their stories might be. 
While blatantly staring at a pretty blue haired young woman trying not to look like I was staring at her, a man in front of me sneezed.   I immediately held my breath.  I understand that at some point you have to breathe again...the same sneezy air that's inside this little steel bullet that everyone else is breathing in. How long does it take for a sneeze to dissipate I wondered, still holding my breath. Maybe if I just take really tiny shallow breaths like a goldfish gulping I won't inhale particles of said sneezer’s saliva which continued to dance around in my air space.  
Now that I had worked myself up into a completely neurotic state, I started noticing a lot of little children coughing and sneezing. I picked up the scarf that I was wearing around my neck and put it over my nose and mouth, knowing full well that I looked like an obsessive compulsive weird person. 
The train stopped and the doors opened to pick up more riders. “Ahh new air”  We all adjusted our cramped bodies to magically create enough space for 5 more commuters. My mind went back to it’s happy "people watching making up stories" mode.  
I started to imagine how it will feel on the eventual day that some young person looks at me and considers me old enough to offer their seat to on a train. 
We stopped at Martin Luther King and several people got off creating some vacancies. 
A young guy with skinny jeans, leather jacket, SXSW badge dangling from a laniard, tattoos on his strong forearms, baseball cap on backwards looked at me and said "would you like that seat?"
Yikes!! No sooner did I think "I wonder what it would feel like?" And Bamm! I smiled and said "no thanks I'm fine standing!"
I suppose it would've been nice to sit down but my ego was temporarily bruised! Did  I look so old and fragile already? Then he looked at his friend who was standing with him and said “Hey man you want that seat?" 
The tattoo boy was just being a nice guy! I was just being that obsessive compulsive weird person who covers her mouth with her scarf when someone sneezes. 
Maybe I need to start observing my own story more often!


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Laffite and the Troglodyte



Last week I dined with my husband George at a high-end restaurant in midtown Austin. The outing was inspired by a gift card given to me from a generous voice student of mine at Christmas time and we only now found the time to take advantage of the sweet offering.

I had dined there in the past, not surprisingly due to gifts from other extremely generous clients, so at least I knew how to dress. Now I am not proud of this fact but I knew that driving up to the valet parking in my 2002 hail damaged, bumper stickered, Texas sun toasted faded finish red Honda Accord would send up red flags and make me
self conscious, so we parked several blocks away and walked to the front door of the restaurant. As we approached I did indeed notice a shinny new Porsche, a gleaming Alfa Romeo and a Lamborghini.   (I know it seems out of character for me, but I actually do notice cars when they are well-crafted beautiful machines).

 I was glad that we walked.
A woman greeted us with a stony expression
 Yes? May I help you? 
I have a reservation for Stern
Yesfollow me…”
Without meeting eyes, she placed a leather bound book on the table that was designated to be ours. 
Enjoy your meal…”


Oh good…the wine list…
My eyes scan the 21-page leather bound book.
I’m wondering if buying wine by the glass is gauche. What ever…I don’t want to have more than one glass of wine so I keep perusing the manuscript.

A young man comes over with his hands neatly held behind his back in a formal Downton Abby server sort of fashion.
“Are we having anything special to drink this evening?”
He said “Are WE” so I wondered for a second if he was planning to join us?
“Yes…do you have any wine by the glass?”
His eyes looking past me…over my head, chin held high he replies…
”Page 11”

I flip to page 11. Oh good…they do have some choices…all French? OK I like French wine…scanning the page my eyes go past the “by the glass” section and onto page 12…$3500.00…what wine is that?  A Laffite…Ok I know that’s an expensive wine but $3500 really? $3500? Good grief. I couldn’t help myself and at the risk of sounding like a complete troglodyte, out of my mouth poured “Do people ever really purchase a bottle of wine for $3500?”
Still looking over my head, hands still behind his back a la Downton Abbey, with out a smile, his left eyebrow slightly raising he said in a matter of fact way  “Oh yes, certainly…”

Gee I was thinking I might have broken this pretentious barrier he had crafted and perhaps he’d bond with us…you know, he’s a young working boy…and here was an opportunity to say something like “Yah…crazy, right? I sold a bottle to someone once” etc. bla  bla…but he answered me like it made perfect sense to spend almost $4000.00 on a bottle of wine that you will piss out in an hour!  I felt like telling the haughty little whippersnapper that one can buy an excellent bottle of wine for $200…like an astounding bottle of wine, and with the rest of that dough feed 100 refugee families…or mail a check to a charity of your choice, but don’t make me feel like you are above me for thinking that’s a stupid way to spend an awful lot of money. Go ahead and spend a month’s salary on a bottle of good wine if you want to, but at some point you get diminishing returns. I wonder if I poured a $25 bottle of Columbia Crest into a bottle that said 1986 Laffite on it would YOU young Downton Abby server child know the difference…or your diners for that matter?

But that fierce and righteous speech crossed through my brain in perhaps one millisecond as I starred at the waiter still standing steadfast arms neat behind his back eyes straight ahead.
”Oh wow…” is all that I said. “I’ll have a glass of Champagne…I always love that…thanks!”

I often write awesome responses to a personal experience well after the fact…lying in bed…thinking about a better ending to a particular scenario.
  I wish I had looked at the young man and said

“Ahh Yes..The Laffite…Dark, with brick edges.  Blackberry, fig, currant, and cedar present on the nose.  Palate is filled with currant and hints of fig, cedar, whiffs of pipe tobacco and faint earth notes.  Tannins are melding into the wine, and acid is present but not particularly lively.  A touch heavy.  It is indeed a wonderful wine, but a bit lost in the crowd.  Not as complex as the 1996 Margaux, and not as balanced as the 1990 Beasejour.  Very good, but far from perfect. In fact not worth the Hype in my opinion…I’ll have a glass of your Champagne. Thank you very much!”

I guess I am just a Troglodyte!