In Astoria, Queens, the bathtub was just that, a bathtub ~ neither shower nor shower curtain.
As I write this I am myself in disbelief. Though I've always loved bath time, and still do, I finish off with a shower rinse and use it to wash my hair.
But then in my little girl years, no shower. There was an apparatus for hair washday. A Y- shaped tube that attached to the hot and the cold separate taps, bringing the two temperatures together flowing down the Y- shaped tube and out of the shower nozzle at the bottom. I think it was a pink color and made of rubber.
Hadn't seen one of those again for a very long time until I went to Paris, France. I had a single climbing the charts, “BoBo's Party.” It was 1969. Gilbert Bécaud took great interest in promoting the American anti-war singer Melanie - although I told him I am not anti-war I am pro-peace, there's a difference.
"I want to present to you to zeFrench publique!"
At the Olympia theater, Bruno Coquatrix, the great presenter of Paris! Who had presented Edith Piaf and Gilbert himself when he opened for her.
Peter and I flew to Paris on the eve of our wedding. I only agreed to get married because that's the only way we could live together in the flat in Paris, which would be provided, complements of Eddie Barclay, Barclay Records. These were times when you had to show proof of marriage when you checked into a hotel with a man, or lived in a flat in Paris, France. I arrived in France in my wedding dress, which was a black tight-wasted Victorian two-piece suit. Yes I was in mourning for my life.
I had become an American girl quite used to showers sticking out of the wall from above the head and hot & cold coming from the same faucet. So when I walked through the door and into the bathroom, for the first time, much to my amazement, no shower !! And voilà the little rubber Y -shaped apparatus not supplied ! Of course I had to go to the French hardware store trying to find one, as the hot and the cold water came out of two separate faucets. Never to become one comfy temperature till it hit the tub or went through the Y- shaped device. This is where I became obsessed with hardware stores in foreign countries. And going to one for me would be the equivalent of going to La Tour Eiffel.
I couldn't fathom, as an American girl how Parisians could live without the shower. That was the first time I had ever seen ... What's that!? What was that second toilet for? No flusher but there is a stopper. I eventually figured out the bidet! Oh how clever - why didn't we have these at home? And at that same time other American girls and boys who ventured to Paris, wondered as well ~ and one or more of them brought the idea home to Kohler. Perhaps one of them would become the president of that well-established bathroom fixture company because he brought this innovative idea to America. They are available in many fine hotels and homes. Some of those homes do away with tub altogether, which is upsetting to me, as I took taking a bath with me throughout all the stages of plumbing advancement.
Let me tell you about the toilet I encountered in a Korean hotel, or I might save that for another day because I was going to talk about Christmas. And I began with the digression.
I was going to start out with a little girl’s memory of Christmas in Astoria, Queens in the family apartment and then I digressed before I could say, "but I digress" because the bathroom is where I could be alone and give much thought to God and Santa Claus who are always watching me and interchangeable, where there first gleaned a recognition of my spiritual self. Because bathroom time was the only time a watchful adult Eye wasn't on me. Perhaps I connect my childhood bathroom experiences with Christmas because that could've been the year that uncle George dressed up as Santa , and though my outer-self believed, or half pretended, my childhood knowingness knew it was uncle George. Are you still with me?
I was and still am, a believer and most likely always will be.
And I'd look for Santa in a Christmas Eve sky and for the angel… do I see her? So many cultures together in New York. I have a vague memory of a Ukrainian or Polish belief that the angels open the sky at midnight and you would leave food for them, or was that New Year's Eve? There was lots of looking up at the sky on Christmas Eve because something wonderful was going to happen and it did.
Sometimes the tree wouldn't appear until Christmas morning. Life in the pine right in my living room all decorated with lights, bubble lights with colored liquid in the candle shape for the bulb base. How I loved looking at those lights and the spectacle of, the so many toys!
That was when those who grew up in the depression era had experienced the worst of it. My mother, grandmother and uncle being among them, now had enough to shower their children with abundance! It may have been a kind of sickness ~ conspicuous consumption, but man it was great, it was effing great!
My mother would become a set designer or window dresser. It was a display to rival a Saks Fifth Avenue window!
Christmas morning and they would all appear ~Winky Dink, the Mary Hartline doll, a bicycle. Some wrapped, some not, depending on aesthetics. It was a massive sculpture and all for me!!!
I was, up till the age of seven, an only child. The grownups would open their presents the night before Christmas. I think, I can't remember, don't know, with all the excitement, anticipation and surprise. They staged all sorts of things for my benefit. We lived on the top floor and someone would go up with jingle bells or make prancing noises on the roof and I would think it was the reindeer. I was told to go to bed or Santa wouldn't come. But first we'll leave a snack for Santa and carrots for the reindeer. And cookies and milk.
Absolutely insane, I still do this - Even though I have to eat the sandwich myself (Peter always did that part). Or chomp on a carrot, with the leavings visible to only Beau Jarred who is in his 30s (and still believes). It’s a symbol like the communion wafer.
And I leave a note from Santa for no one in particular because it's impossible that magic doesn't exist ~ and my ritualistic silliness is a reminder as I look up at the sky on Christmas Eve for the angel. Do I see her with the king of kings and the ghost of Christmas past ~ a true believer.
Love and happiness in 2016,
"Will Peace Come In Time For Christmas".
My new single, available from my
Olympia Reviews 1969
Melanie and Gilbert Becaud at the Olympia, Paris
Melanie the success of MIDEM,will be at the Olympia from the 19th February to 16th March, you can hear Melanie's records on the radio and her records sell very well. Her performance at the Olympia will further strengthen the sale of her LP.
Following the jugglers was Melanie, the star of the last MIDEM festival at Cannes. This hippie singer is not without quality, but she is a little too gentle to be a 'star'….
Melanie closed a good first half. Beneath this old-fashioned name three is a singer who is really alive. She sings like Edith Piaf with a black soul, when you close your eyes closed the illusion is complete, but once open you will see a young and really very beautiful girl ….In the first part there was a young American singer whose name did not immediately tell this. She sings sitting down, accompanying herself on the guitar. She has feeling, so has Julian Clerc. These two people are really only at the dawn of their careers.
Melanie and Julien Clerc
Melanie, the beautiful American beatnik makes a fine debut in France:- at the Olympia and on the Jean Claud Killy show. It looks as though she's going to be a star….
NO FRILLS FOR THIS AMERICAN
by Alan Jones - Jan, 1969
Melanie's 12-minute appearance was sandwiched between a troupe of Algerian jugglers and an illusionist from Lyons.
A murmur of applause rippled through the Parisian family audience when she strummed her guitar into the opening chords of "Bo Bo's Party".
For Melanie was number six in the French charts with the bitter-sweet song about a young girl who goes to an off-beat party.
Melanie is a New Yorker. She's being called the Voice of 1969 on the strength of her first album "Born To Be". Bob Dylan has shown an interest in her songs and she is tipped for international stardom.
What makes her out from hundreds of other singers is the range of her voice. She switches smoothly from a hard, metallic ring to a sweetness that would be the delight of any school choir.
Off-stage, Melanie is an unassuming 21-year-old ex-college girl who prefers her mum's Italian cooking to dining out in French bistros. She looks like the girl-next-door with her long black hair, fringe and big, brown eyes. But not everybody goes for Melanie's natural looks and no frills stage act. One head of an American company complained she was not commercial enough for the pop scene.
Even when she reached France with a top-selling single and a £400 a week contract with the Olympia, the theatre's director tried to get her to revamp her act and give it a bit more show biz zip.
The director wanted Melanie to appear in a blast of psychedelic lights with a troupe of hip-shaking, scantily dressed girls, Melanie refused. He retorted that she wasn't "singing in the trees now" but in show business. Much to her own surprise Melanie snapped; "If that's the business you're in ___ I'm not in it".
Q & A with Melanie
Randy Morrison: Can you explain the difference between being anti-war or pro-peace?
Melanie: Has to do with intention or stance. With a focus on positively creating peace, rather than stopping and resisting.
Daria Moreland: As a child Melanie, would you choose to run a trail in the woods and climb a tree or would you have rather put on Mom's lipstick and shoes and carry her purse... tomboy or girly girl?
Melanie: I didn't have a strong identity with being a boy or girl. But I most definitely didn't put on lipstick and carry a handbag. I would go on adventures outside and very much kept to myself. And whenever I was near the woods, Forest Trail that's where I would be. I didn't see this as being either boy or girl. But I don't think anyone ever called me a tomboy.
Roy Wisgickl: Please do some research and tell us who was with you on the Mommy record.
Melanie: That would take the work of the private investigator! I know there were three girls, I believe from Brooklyn or New Jersey. I know I worked with Peter on the production, I remember in the line: 'it's a sad song I'm singing', I didn't know how to tactfully ask them to refrain from pronouncing the G' In the word sinG Ging
Will Day: I wonder does Melanie have any reminiscences about working with the Incredible String Band boys?
Melanie: I loved working with the Incredible String Band. It was a dream come true. I was instantly drawn to them when I heard their first recordings in England. And when I was a guest DJ on radio shows, I always played their music.
Unfortunately and much to my disappointment, Peter and I got to work with them just as they were breaking up!
They were signed to Neighborhood Records as the Incredible String Band. But split, Robin Williamson went back to England and we recorded an album called Mike Heron's Reputation, but I really missed Robin
Many: When will you be coming to: Kent Stage, Kent, Ohio, Chile South America, The Westcoast, Buffalo, NY, Toronto, Belgium, Seattle, New York City, Nashville, Amsterdam, Bruxelles, New Orleans, New Hope, Vermont, Japan, Canada, Northern or Southern California, South Jersey, Solana Beach, Korea, Queens, Sellersville, PA, Ohio, NC, Denver, New Zealand
Melanie: It isn't a lack of willingness
I assure you
There isn't one place mentioned where I wouldn't love to go!
I am very happy with the questions people ask, as they keep me on my toes.
Popcorn & Cranberries
Someone else’s grandmother or mine told me of this stringing popcorn and cranberries - 'ding, I like it'
Didn't do it growing up or anything but wanted it for my very own tradition.
Should have, would have, maybe did in some other life in a pleasure moment, in my head.
The family sitting around the table stringing popcorn and cranberries. The visual, that script in my head didn't exactly play out. The script never does, life works its way in.
I with needle and thread did it. Sometimes I would enlist Baba, Peter's mom. She would get into it! The kids sometimes would join for the sake of the play.
It takes a long time. You need the right kind of popcorn, the kind you make in a pot, not microwave. The needle must be long and sharp enough to pierce through the cranberry and the hard kernel of popcorn, not the finger. OUCH!
But I stay loyal to tradition, especially my own. And the visual, the tree ~ Little House on the Prairie meets the Nightmare before Christmas.
Tradition, all mingling with that which I hope for ~ wish, dream and yes, have played out in this life of Christmases, so far.
Merry Christmas My Dear Ones