Posts Tagged ‘Philadelphia’



Oh Barbra. Barbra Joan Streisand. How many years have I admired and adored you? Last night my dreams came true when I was among the 12,000 worshipful fans to see you perform in your Back to Brooklyn concert tour that opened in Philadelphia. That was me in Section 212, Row 11, the one with clasped hands and glistening eyes mouthing the lyrics. You didn’t notice? Maybe because we all looked that way?

Not that we were all the same. There were gray heads and color-treated heads, 20-somethings in stiletto boots and couples arm-in-arm. You had us wrapped around your famously long-fingernailed finger.

Starting with the photo montage that opened the show: photos of you as a little girl in Brooklyn, a teenager at Erasmus High, a young singer on the Ed Sullivan Show and then a Broadway star. You charmed us with your stories about Brooklyn, and noted similarities to South Philly (“You have cheese steaks; we have cheese blintzes”). I can assure you that Brooklyn was never applauded so loudly ever before in Philadelphia.

Barbra, I must confess, I was a little worried about you. Your performance anxiety has been well documented. But last night you sat down and chatted with us like we were having a cup of coffee in your kitchen. You kibbitzed with the reporter in the front row. “You’re writing? You’re reviewing me? Oy.” Someone asked, “What do you think of Mitt Romney wanting to fire Big Bird?” “I wasn’t going to get political,” you sighed. “But I hope he doesn’t find his way to Sesame Street. Or 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.” The audience roared.

You were funny, relaxed, warm and genuine. And sentimental. “I may have left Brooklyn, but Brooklyn has really never left me,” you said.

And that precious finely tuned musical instrument, that voice of yours, still electrifies and brings chills.

For three hours you mesmerized us with some of your classics, “Don’t Rain on my Parade,” “Evergreen,” “The Way we Were,” “People,” “What Will I Do?” and more. We met your son, Jason, who came out on stage and very creditably performed “How Deep is the Ocean” with you. His first time performing, you told us, beaming.

You sang from “Gypsy” and “Sunset Boulevard” and performed an homage to Marvin Hamlisch and Marilyn and Alan Bergman. Trumpeter Chris Botti and Italian group Il Volo added extra umph to the dazzling music performed by your 60-piece orchestra.

We could have stayed all night, Barbra. But I know last night will stay with me, always.


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I am hanging out with all.things.fadra today on Stream of Consciousness Sunday.

#SOCsundayYesterday’s headlines in The Philadelphia Inquirer trumpeted some powerful words in very large type:

“Final Bells for 49”

Today’s headline:

“Grief and Anger”

What does that mean? In a nutshell, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced the closing of four high schools and closing and/or merging 45 elementary schools when the school year ends this June.

Citing drastically shrinking enrolments and escalating costs, the archdiocese said that this decision could save as much as $10 million a year. The announcement has caused palpable waves of despair.

The news coverage has been huge. Pages in the print and digital media have covered the impact on students, families, teachers, neighborhood. Not to mention proud alumni of these schools.

The Inquirer quoted teachers as lamenting “this is like a death.” Students of all ages have been photographed hugging and weeping. Parents are shell-shocked. You can just read their minds. How can this be happening?

I am not Catholic and was a public school kid myself. But it is not hard to understand the impact on families with the loss of these schools which, along with the parish church, served as the backbone of many neighborhoods. Anyone can relate to the helplessness of not being in charge of your own destiny. You have an expectation that your life will play out as planned, give or take some detours along the way. Education is one of those things that seems pretty well-scripted. It can be what you want, pretty much.

Eventually the dust will settle, the shock will settle into resignation. Students will be rerouted to other schools and make new friends. Life will go on. But the conviction that some things are forever will be shaken to its core.

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Mom Revisited

I nod with a knowing smile at my young mother friends who throw up their hands at the latest crisis with their children. Is it bed-wetting, pink eye, inability to play nicely with others? Mark my words, I say, you will blink and all of a sudden they’re grown up. This is what older women used to tell me when I was a young mother and I thought they didn’t know what they were talking about.

How fleeting those years would be I could not understand, not with a fretful, colicky infant who screamed himself into exhaustion night after night. I remember wishing those years away, wanting him to grow up.

Now I would give anything to go back in time to savor every moment a bit longer. My little boy grew up way too fast, and now he lives halfway across the world. I miss him so much.

Evan is here for a visit now, and as an added bonus, three of his buddies flew in for a few days. The house has beenĀ  bustling with 24/7 hubbub: deep guy voices talking football and trash, late night pizza deliveries, ping-pong matches, clothes and electronic devices scattered throughout. Tantalizing aromas of home cooked hearty casseroles and peanut butter cookies waft through the house. I fill the dishwasher, empty it. Rinse and repeat.

I have loved every minute. Gerry, Mike and Dan are now officially our adopted sons and have an open invitation to come back anytime.

The guys holding tickets to the Eagles/Cowboys game — Gerry, Evan, Mike, Dan

Evan gave them the grand tour of our fair city, Philadelphia. They sampled cheese steaks and hoagies until they could eat no more. They also went to a Halloween party.

My son, the rabbi, second from left

Today, as they all board their various flights, I will be straightening up the house, throwing a few loads of laundry in the wash, reheating the leftover baked ziti for dinner. And missing the guys a lot.

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