Category Archives: Baby Boomer Celebrities

Oscar Mix-Up Proves Ageism Still Alive

Unless you’re on Mars, you’ve no doubt heard about the mix-up at the 2017 Academy Award show last night. Warren Beatty, 79, and Faye Dunaway, 76, accidentally announced the wrong movie for Best Picture.

oscarTwitter was immediately on fire, calling Beatty stupid, dim-witted, brain dead, senile, and blind. People completely blamed him – and his age – for the screw up and cruel and degrading name-calling ensued.

Later, it was announced that the incident wasn’t his fault after all. The Academy mistakenly gave him the wrong card for Best Actress. Apparently, Beatty saw La La Land’s name on the card and was confused as to why Emma Stone’s name was on it.

As Beatty explained on the show, probably sensing people were going to call him senile: “I want to tell you what happened. I opened the envelope and it said, ‘Emma Stone, ‘La La Land.’ That’s why I took such a long look at Faye, and at you. I wasn’t trying to be funny.”

Some people still blamed Beatty for passing the card to Dunaway to read, supposedly letting her take the fall. But, my reaction was different. I think he handed her the card looking for a second opinion. Dunaway thought he was joking (“You’re impossible, come on,” she said) and read the card.

This morning, some of the press, and people on social media, claimed that Beatty should have asked for help when he noticed there was a problem. Maybe, but I say, give the man a break. Could you think calmly with 37 million people watching? I would venture a guess that a lot of younger people would have done the same thing.

Besides, even the Academy admitted this whole thing wasn’t Beatty’s – or Dunaway’s – fault! And their age had nothing to do with the flub either. (By the way, even if Beatty was totally to blame, it wouldn’t justify all the mean-spirited mocking and name-calling that, in my opinion, was sadly based on people’s lack of respect for the elderly.)

Recently Humana invited me to watch and participate online in a panel discussion they sponsored, Over Sixty, Under Estimated: A Healthy Look at the “Silver” Screen at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles that included baby boomer actress Francis Fisher. During the discussion, the panel made a good point:

These days, if Hollywood ridiculed an ethnic group, the LGBT community, or the disabled in movies, people would be in an uproar. So why do people quietly tolerate the way movies make fun of older people? Older characters in movies have often been stereotyped as irritable, depressed, slow-witted, lonely, sickly, whiny, rude, horny, and foul-mouthed – as if that’s all they had to offer.

In a previous blog, I pointed out that several actors aged 50-plus were nominated in prestigious categories this year in strong roles (it should be noted, however, none of them won last night). I wrote that perhaps we, as active, vibrant baby boomers who have valuable knowledge, experience, and insight that only comes with age, were paving the way for a change in the way people view aging.

However, this faux pas at the Oscar Show and all the ridicule obviously based on Beatty’s and Dunaway’s age makes me think I was wrong. While some cultures honor the elderly, in general, Hollywood seems to be reflecting society’s ongoing disrespectful, negative view of aging.

I realize that during this divisive time in America, many of you stayed away from the Academy Award show because of its political viewpoints. But the one thing we all have in common is that we’re getting older. In fact, we living in a time when the population of people ages 65 and older is expected to triple to 1.5 billion by mid century.

This is a politically neutral blog, but I’d love to hear your opinion. Was Beatty unjustly called stupid because of his age? Do you think the increase in the aging population will change people’s opinions of the elderly? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Baby Boomers in 2017 Oscar Nominated Movies

Older characters in movies have often been stereotyped in insulting and degrading ways. The elderly have been shown as irritable, depressed, slow-witted, lonely, sickly, whiny, rude, horny, and foul-mouthed – as if that’s all they had to offer. Cinema has often reflected society’s attitudes toward the 50-plus crowd who in real life were often ridiculed or ignored.

oscarBut hopefully the times are a-changin’, as Bob Dylan famously sang.

This year, the Academy’s Oscar nominees include a notable number of people over 50, including Mel Gibson, for directing Hacksaw Ridge; Jeff Bridges, for Best Supporting Actor in Hell or High Water; Viggo Mortensen, for Best Actor in a Leading Role in Captain Fantastic; Meryl Streep for Best Actress in a Leading Role in Florence Foster Jenkins, and Isabelle Huppert for Best Actress in a Leading Role in Elle.

And they don’t happen to fit into the typical stereotypes. Jeff Bridges, 67, stars as a Texas Ranger tracking down a pair of bank-robbing brothers. Viggo Mortensen, 58, plays a father devoted to raising his six kids with a rigorous education that challenges his philosophy about life. Meryl Streep, 67, once again proves older women can still steal scenes front and center. And Isabelle Huppert, 63, plays a woman who turns the tables on her attacker.

Maybe that’s a start. Perhaps Hollywood, and society at large, haven’t completely forgotten the value of the elderly with their knowledge, life experience, and insight.

As an article in the San Diego Tribune pointed out, we baby boomers “are reinventing society’s idea of what it means to grow old. Seniors today carry cell phones, not walkers. They sit on bicycles, not rocking chairs. Arts and crafts, bingo and checkers have been replaced with jogging, white-water rafting and skiing. Seniors are healthy, vibrant, influential members of our society.”

As the oldest of the 77 million baby boomers approach their 70s, the elderly and their concerns will inevitably be given more attention. As to whether ageism will worsen or get better is a matter of debate.

Erdman Palmore, a professor emeritus at Duke University who has written or edited more than a dozen books on aging, remains fairly optimistic. “One can say unequivocally that older people are getting smarter, richer and healthier as time goes on,” Palmore said. “I’ve dedicated most of my life to combating ageism, and it’s tempting for me to see it everywhere. … But I have faith that as science progresses, and reasonable people get educated about it, we will come to recognize ageism as the evil it is.”

Is Hollywood slowly adapting to reflect these changes as we baby boomers forge ahead refining the landscape of aging?

Hopefully. The movie industry has been complaining about ageism in Hollywood for a long time. According to AARP CEO JoAnn Jenkins at a movie industry roundtable discussion hosted by Variety, ageism is another diversity issue that Hollywood needs to consider more. “The truth is that 70 percent of the disposable income in this country is in the possession of people 50 and older,” Jenkins said. “And 25 percent of people who are moviegoers are people over the age of 50. They are actually putting butts in the seats in the movie theaters. Yet we see across the board that the marketing industry is spending 75 to 80 percent of their dollars focusing on people who are under the age of 30, and mostly young males.”

Jenkin’s opinion corresponds with two academic studies that showed 30-somethings were heavily over-represented in movies, 40-somethings did all right, while 50-somethings were significantly under-represented and the over-60s severely so.

Recently Humana invited me to watch and participate online in a panel discussion they sponsored, Over Sixty, Under Estimated: A Healthy Look at the “Silver” Screen at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles that included baby boomer actress Francis Fisher. During the discussion, the panel made a good point. These days, if Hollywood ridiculed an ethnic group, the LGBT community, or the disabled in movies, people would be in an uproar. So why do people quietly tolerate the way movies make fun of older people?

We’re not grumpy old codgers cussing up a storm. I’m over 50 and still consider myself an active, vibrant member of society. Let’s hope this year’s Academy nominees proves that Hollywood is catching up with the times.

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Golden Boys in Concert: Bobby Rydell, Frankie Avalon, and Fabian

Can three former teen heartthrobs from the late 1950’s and 1960’s still make an audience swoon?

You bet!

I had interviewed Bobby Rydell via email last year for my blog. So, I was thrilled when his wife, Linda Hoffman (Rydell), was kind enough to send me two complimentary tickets and backstage passes for a Golden Boys concert starring former teen idols Rydell, Frankie Avalon, and Fabian on February 4, 2017 at Spotlight 29 Casino in Coachella.

Excited to be backstage with Bobby Rydell!

Excited to be backstage with Bobby Rydell!

I was excited to finally meet Rydell in person and take a photo with him.

And yes, maybe I swooned just a little bit!

The story of how Rydell, Avalon, and Fabian rose to fame is better than any novel. Three Italian boys grow up in the same South Philadelphia neighborhood at the same time – within blocks of each other. Then, stranger than fiction, all three boys go on to rise to stardom as teenage heartthrobs.

What are the chances?

The three friends, now in their 70’s, have been touring together since 1985, packing venues throughout the country.  Countless television appearances, a special performance for the President of U.S. and a Golden Boys PBS special followed.

Golden BoysIf you get a chance, be sure and catch their show. Click here for upcoming dates.  If that’s not possible, I’ll share a review of the concert along with some photos.

At the concert, I sang along, swayed, laughed (yes, these guys are super funny), and listened to the three reminisce about their days as teen idols and all the famous people they met along the way. The three also shared bits of their personal lives.

The show began with old clips of the three singers during their heyday. Then, the trio of stars came on stage to sing the theme from the Dick Clark show, American Bandstand, on which all three appeared in their youth. Afterward, they feigned exhaustion and heavy breathing while making jokes about their old age.

Then, Rydell took center stage.

Bobby Rydell

You baby boomers will remember that Rydell became famous with hits like Wild One, Kissin’ Time, and Volare, as well as for his role in Bye Bye Birdie with Ann Margaret and Dick Van Dyke. Younger people may remember that the high school in the movie Grease was named after him, Rydell High.

Bobby Rydell“It’s real nice to be here,” he said to the audience. “It’s real nice to be anywhere.”

The audience laughed, but Rydell was only half-joking. After all, he has faced a double organ transplant and double heart bypass surgery. Rydell expressed gratitude for his second chance at life and thanked his donor, a young 21-year-old girl named Julia, who was able to save, not only Rydell, but six other people as an organ donor.

Once again, I was impressed with this man’s thoughtful words, honesty, and kind face, just as I was in our interview and while reading his autobiography, Teen Idol on the Rocks: A Tale of Second Chances.

You may think that after all his health problems and his self-admitted former problems with alcohol, Rydell’s voice and spirit would have diminished over the years. He even confessed that he and his wife were just getting over bronchitis. Nonetheless, I’m happy to report Rydell’s voice was still strong, smooth, and velvety as he delivered his many hits. Rydell’s joy of performing and optimistic heart came shining through.

Noting that although Michael Buble’ and Dean Martin both recorded the famous song, Sway, Rydell admitted with a smile, “I am happy to say that I had the bigger hit with it.” He went on to prove why, belting out the song, his voice still impressive as he hit the climatic end high-note.

Rydell treated us to a few more songs and closed his set with my favorite, Volare, proving once again, his voice could meet the demanding challenge of the classic song.

Fabian 

While all three of the stars were funny, Fabian was clearly the jokester of the bunch. He has an amazingly quick wit and refreshing self-depreciating humor.

“Welcome to Rolling Bones Tour,” he said wryly. “What the hell are we doing here so late?”

Fabian

Perhaps his voice hasn’t held up quite as well as his friend, Rydell, but Fabian could joke about it. “I tried to sing like Bobby and I was in traction for two months,” he teased. “I got a book too (referring to Rydell’s recent autobiography) – oh no – I got booked. There’s a difference there.”

He sang “I’m a Man,” confessing that he was only 15 years old when he performed the song on Dick Clark’s show. “I had a lot of nerve singing those lyrics,” he quipped. Fabian also included a song “a lot of people were strolling to” in the late 50’s, Turn Me Loose, adding that he went to high school with Chubby Checkers.

Fabian got a lot of laughs from the audience when he joked about three wine glasses on stage. “This one is Bobby’s,” he noted. “Look, he forgot to take his little blue pill. You know why you need the little blue pill. So you won’t fall out of bed at night.” (Okay, that was a bit naughty!). “This is Frankie’s glass, it has his teeth in it. Mine has my old pompadour in it. I miss my buddy.”

When he invited several women on stage to do the Twist with him while he sang his biggest hit of all, Tiger, one woman fell on the stairs. After he made sure she was okay, he joked, “It’s been a long time since someone fell for me.” In a sweet moment, one of the women told Fabian she had danced the Twist with him at one of his concerts 30 years ago and still had a photo of them together in her purse. Fabian graciously gave her a big hug.

Frankie Avalon 

Frankie Avalon is a well-known name, featured in numerous movies and TV shows over the years. He had one of the biggest selling hits of the late 50’s and 60’s era, Venus. Boomers will also remember him for the popular Beach Party film series with Annette Funicello. Later generations came to know him from his role as Teen Angel when he famously sang, Beauty School Drop-Out, in Grease.

Frankie Avalon singing a duet with one of the Everly Brother's sons.

Frankie Avalon singing a duet with one of the Everly Brother’s sons.

Along with singing his many hits from the old days, Avalon shared some of his personal life with the audience, noting that he had eight children in 10 years with his wife (they are still married after more than half a century). “Yes, we were busy,” he joked. “My oldest is 53 now. Isn’t that amazing? We’re the same age.” His oldest son, Frank Jr., in fact, was the band’s drummer in the show.

Avalon was quick to dispel any false rumors that he wears a toupee. “I am proud to say, this is my hair, although with a few drops of water I look like a Chia Pet,” he joked.

The audience, full of older baby boomers, happily sang along as Avalon performed the theme to the movie, Beach Blanket Bingo. His set also included duets with his guitarist, Edan Everly, son of Don Everly of the Everly Brothers that included Bye Bye Love, Dream, and Wake Up Little Susie. Clips from the movie, Grease, played while Avalon sang his famous single, Beauty School Dropout.

He strolled into the crowd for a couple of his songs, before returning to the stage for his biggest hit of all and my personal favorite, Venus. “Hey Venus, oh Venus, make my wish come true!”  I was in heaven!

All Good Things Must Come to an End

The three friends then reunited to offer tributes to their musical heroes. Avalon sang a Ricky Nelson song, Fabian offered up an Elvis hit, and finally, Rydell killed it with Bobby Darin’s Mack the Knife.

In conclusion, the trio sang Bob Seger’s Old Time Rock and Roll and closed with the theme from The Mickey Mouse Club.

We all sang along merrily, proving that these three guys can still make our hearts melt a little.

A big thanks to Bobby Rydell and his wife, Linda Hoffman, for the fabulous seats and backstage passes. A thank-you also goes to my husband, Scott Gorges, for contributing his photos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Desert Trip Rocks with The Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney!

Talk about baby boomer bliss! “Can’t Get No Satisfaction” certainly did not apply to Desert Trip – a music extravaganza with rock legends The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Neil Young, Roger Waters, and The Who.

desert-trip-paul-mcartney

The iconic festival was held this last weekend, October 7, 8, and 9, 2016, at the Empire Polo Club in Indio and I was thanking my lucky stars to be in the audience.

Oldchella

The Empire Polo Club in Indio Friday afternoon before the event began.

The massive grounds where the epic concert was held at the Empire Polo Club in Indio Friday afternoon before the event began.

The lineup was every baby boomer’s dream team. Yeah, they made fun of us, dubbing the festival held on the same grounds as Coachella, “Oldchella.” Who cares? We baby boomers are embracing the title. This was a historical moment that has never happened before and may never be repeated again. It’s certainly a weekend I won’t ever forget.

Call it whatever you want. I blissfully and joyfully sang “Hey Jude” with Paul McCartney, as he took the lead cheerfully oozing charisma, with 75,000 other fellow humans in a massive chorus, waving our arms in unison. It was a magical awe-inspiring moment. (See the video under the Paul McCartney subheading below to get a glimpse of what that was like.)

Completely awe struck that I was actually listening and watching Sir Paul, the profound moment reminded me of the Beatles legacy of joy, hopefulness, peace and optimism that we all found so addictive when we were young – and still do during a turbulent time in the world.

Besides, some of the humor about Oldchella is downright funny. Ellen DeGeneres, a baby boomer herself at the age of 58, says, “It’s like Woodstock, but with prescription drugs.” 20161009_180415In a hilarious segment , she shows a chart comparing the Coachella with Oldchella:  “Coachella: You go because you’re excited to see your favorite band live. Old-chella: You go because you’re excited to see that your favorite band is alive.” Funny stuff.

There was even a pick-up and drop-off parking lot, an actual spot where middle-aged kids could drop off their gray-haired parents ready to boogie down til midnight and pretend they were back in the day.

Surprisingly – although there were tons of AARP eligible fans like me crossing off bucket lists – there were plenty of people in their 20s and 30s too. Even teens attended in their fringed and tie dyed shirts enjoying the hippy vibe. It was fun to see them experience the glory days of rock ‘n’ roll with such abandonment and enthusiasm – arms in the air and rocking out right along with us.

Second Weekend Tickets

The event repeats this weekend starting Friday, October 14, 15 & 16 and there are tickets available at reduced prices. I’ve seen prices on StubHub ranging from $139 for a one night pass and three-day passes for $225 in the grand stands.

desert-trip-lawnThis is quite a deal since prices for three day passes originally ranged from $399 for bringing chairs and sitting in the grassy area to $1,599 for the standing pit area directly in front of the stage. Thankfully the epic concert was held in my own backyard and I saved money on travel expenses and shuttles.

According to Billboard. Sean Penn, Leonardo DiCaprio, Christian Bale, Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones with their kids, Rob Lowe, Cindy Crawford, and James Spader were some of the big names that could be found in cushy areas in the grandstands and  in the mosh pit .

desert-trip-audience

Where the action was!

The elite crowd was not to be seen in the cheap seats where I sat with my family in the lawn area. In my opinion, it wasn’t a bad place to be with everyone on their feet singing, dancing, and whooping it up the entire time.

Attend the Concert Vicariously

If you’re unable to attend, I’m happy to share my incredible weekend with you including lots of photos and videos so you can live vicariously through my once-in-a-lifetime experience. Enjoy!

NIGHT ONE:

Bob Dylan

desert-trip-bob-dylanCall me unsophisticated, and some of you will be appalled, but I was never that into Bob Dylan. I respect the icon – he was just awarded the Nobel Prize in literature today. He is an iconic singer/songwriter, a spokesman for the baby boomer generation, culturally significant with his political, social, philosophical, and literary influence.

I enjoyed chilling to some of this influential musician’s songs with a few classics that included “Rainy Day Women.” The way he sang “Everybody Must Get Stoned” with a smirk at the age of 75 cracked me up.

But exciting, he was not.

desert-trip-scott-and-julie-nightFamous for being reclusive and, as a rule, refusing to be photographed, at first, he allowed his image to be displayed on the gigantic screens as he was seated at a piano so everyone could see him. But after a few songs, only black and white historic scenes played on the screens. (There was a rumor that this was due to a glitch, which is possible.)

Perhaps not surprising, there was no stage banter whatsoever. I can’t remember him saying anything to the crowds, in fact.

Nonetheless, when the Rolling Stones took the stage after Dylan, both Mick Jagger and Keith Richards called him their “opening act,” I gasped with the rest of the audience.

The Rolling Stones

rolling-stone-collageI was up on my feet singing and dancing when the crowd-pleasing Rolling Stones literally roared onto the stage with the energetic and fun “Start Me Up.”

Mick Jagger, not about to act his age, rooster strutted down the catwalk and gesticulated all over the stage with seemingly endless energy and stamina. Keep in mind this 73-year-old is still producing children.

His powerful voice led the way as Keith Richards with his blaze of white hair dangled a cigarette and played alongside with obvious joy and abandonment.

Don't say good-bye! Can't we start over and do it again?

Don’t say good-bye! Can’t we start over and do it again?

Their nonstop hits included “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (but I Like It)”, “Honky Tonk Women,” “Brown Sugar” and even the Beatle’s “Come Together. In honor of a forthcoming blues album, they treated us to one of the great songs, “Ride ‘Em Down.”

Unlike Dylan, Jagger chatted it up with the crowd and we were thrilled. At one point, he raised a guitar into the air and danced toward crowd: “If you know how to party, say, ‘Oh, yeah!'” We were more than pleased to comply.

Before I knew it, they were playing an encore of “Can’t Get No Satisfaction.” Best concert ever!

Here’s a video of their opening song, “Start Me Up.”

NIGHT TWO

Neil Young

desert-trip-neil-youngPerhaps best known for his number one hit, “Heart of Gold,” Neil Young’s stage setup was unique with tepees and two women in plaid shirts and overalls walking the stage throwing seeds on the floor.

Songs included “Mother Earth” which included three men in hazmat suits acting as if they were spraying the grounds.

Neil Young is known for his explosive guitar skills, and “Down by the River” lasted about 20 minutes. Personally, the intense, loud, overpowering guitar lasted too long for my ears which literally hurt from the crashing sounds as Young shredded his well-worn guitar.

Maybe I am getting old.

Here’s Young’s famous Heart of Gold:

Paul McCartney

The rock legend was as warm, funny, personable, and delightfully enchanting as you would expect. I couldn’t quit thinking in disbelief – I get to see a Beatle! How lucky am I?

desert-trip-paul-and-neil-duoHe fired up the crowd with the classics “A Hard Day’s Night,” “Jet” and “Can’t Buy me Love.”

Then he took a moment to look out at the massive stadium with people as far as the eye could see. “This is cool to be here, right?” the 74-year-old star asked. “I’m going to take a moment here to drink this all in for myself.”

Although McCartney treated us with many of the classic Beatle songs, he also included the newer “My Valentine” he dedicated to his wife, Nancy. It was their anniversary the next day, he said. A little oddly, but sweet at the same, he next performed “Maybe I’m Amazed,” and dedicated it to his late first wife, Linda.

McCartney shared interesting and funny stories for our entertainment. For example, he explained that “Blackbird” was inspired by the civil rights movement – something I never knew. The funniest moment was when McCartney told us he knew which songs we liked because the masses raised their cell phones when he played classic Beatle songs. “When we play one you don’t know it’s like a black hole,” he said.

desert-trip-fireworksMcCartney brought Neil Young back on stage for three duos, including the raucous, bluesy  “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?” According to legend, the song was written after McCartney saw two monkeys doing the deed on a road in India,  The song fit perfectly with Young’s rowdy guitar.

Oh, how I hate to say this, but McCartney’s voice did quiver just a bit during a few of the slower songs at the top of his tenor range, You’ll have to believe me that It didn’t matter one bit. McCartney still rocked the concert, made his sophisticated melodies seem easy, and his falsetto was pure as ever.

Before we knew it, “Live and Let Die” was accompanied by a spectacular explosion of flames, lasers, and fireworks as McCartney pounded the keyboard. Then the magical moment of Hey Jude (don’t miss the video below for both those numbers that gave me goosebumps!) Graciously, he performed three encore songs, staying on the stage for almost three hours. We loved every minute.

As promised, here’s the video of the magical moments – Live and Let Die is followed by Hey Jude:

NIGHT THREE

The Who

Pete Townshend’s signature windmill move as he strums the guitar and Roger Daltrey’s famous microphone cord swing were still intact as they sang their famous hits like “My desert-trip-the-whoGeneration,” “You Bet,” “Who Are You?” and “Pinball Wizard.”

Looking back on the band’s American breakthrough with “I Can See for Miles,” Townshend said, “Roger and I are so glad to be out here at our age.”

So were we!

He went on to express appreciation for all the young fans in front of him. “You young ones, we love you for coming to see us,” he said. “It must be pretty tough out there for the old ones. Why don’t you make a little chair for them, and they can sit down and rest.”

I’d be offended, except for the fact that Townshend is 15 years older than I am!

In their finale, their 1970s anthem, “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” Daltrey nailed his famous big scream, to bring their set to a rousing close. Enjoy the video!

Roger Waters of Pink Floyd

deesert-trip-roger-watersThe night turned political when Roger Waters took the stage using it as a pulpit to express his feelings about the election, Trump, and Israel’s occupation in Palestine.

During his performance of “Another Brick in the Wall,” school-age children came onstage wearing T-shirts that read, “Derriba el muro” — Spanish for “Take down the wall.”

20161009_233100His set included classics like “Money,” Shine on You Crazy Diamond,” and “Wish You Were Here.”

He closed out the festival with his famous inflatable pig floating above the audience. This one had Trump’s face painted on the side with the words “ignorant, lying, racist, sexist pig.” Just in case you somehow failed to make the connection, the big screens flashed “Trump is a pig.”

Helpful Hints:

If you’re lucky enough to attend the second weekend here are a few tips:

Slightly excited to be there!

Slightly excited to be there!

  • Don’t come too early. It is still hot here in the California desert. The first day, my husband, my sister and I got there when the gates opened at 2:00 p.m. to stake out our seats. It was 98 degrees and the mile hike from day parking made me sick. Hardly anyone was there – and there wasn’t a huge difference in the grass section. However, don’t come too late either – the traffic and lines to get in can become annoying. About 4:00 is a good enough time to arrive in my opinion. If you do get there early, the photography exhibition has air conditioning and couches.
  • Again, it’s hot here. Use sunscreen, drink plenty of water, and put a wet bandanna around your neck to stay cool.
  • The combination of cigarette smoke, pot fumes, dust, and grass was not pleasant. Some people wore a paint mask, scarf or bandanna over their face. Not a bad idea, especially if you have any respiratory issues.
  • Thankfully, my son who has attended Coachella, warned me not to tighten your wristband too tight, because you can’t loosen it afterwards.
  • The lines for food and drinks in the grandstand areas on the side were longer and the staff unorganized. Eat and drink in the rear in the Twelve Peaks/General Admission area where the food is better and the lines shorter.
  • Some of the bathrooms were air conditioned, some not. Look for the AC ones – whatever you do, do not use the outhouses! (Unlike Coachella, we have this option. Catering to us older folks, I guess!)

Let’s Do It Again!

Three nights getting home around 2:00 a.m. is killing me this week. I don’t consider myself old at 55, but I ain’t exactly 20 anymore either. There’s definitely some recoup time involved.

Still worth it!

We baby boomers are a hardy bunch. There was a lot of discussion about the possibility of another event and who could perform.

My top choices: Elton John, Billy Joel, the Eagles, and Fleetwood Mac. Who would your dream team be? Please share in the comments below!

Posing in front of the Rolling Stones poster after the concert sadly ended.

Posing in front of the Rolling Stones poster after the concert sadly ended.

A big thanks to my husband, Scott Gorges, my son, Jonathan Gorges, and my sister, Joanie Hacker, who contributed photos and videos to make this post awesome!

Interview with Bobby Rydell

The media has deemed Bobby Rydell the “Justin Bieber of the Camelot Era.”

You baby boomers may balk at the idea of comparing Bobby with the Bieber, but no doubt you recall the teen heartthrob for his boyishly All-American good looks with his pompadour hair and his famous hits including “Wild One” and “Volare” with fond memories. You may also remember him for his acting and comedic skills when he appeared on The Perry Como Show, The Red Skelton Hour, The Jack Benny Show, The Ed Sullivan Show, The Joey Bishop Show, and as a regular on The Milton Berle Show.

And who could forget his role in Bye Bye Birdie with Ann-Margret, Dick Van Dyke and Janet Leigh – which he revealed to me in an interview was one of his proudest accomplishments.

PHOTO CREDIT: Bobby Bank/WireImage

PHOTO CREDIT: Bobby Bank/WireImage

But what a lot of you may not know is the deeply personal, inspiring, and extraordinary back story behind this fascinating man. Rydell has shared his story in his new autobiography, Teen Idol on the Rocks. You can click here to read my review of the book.

Rydell shares some of those personal and sometimes painful memories with me in the following interview.

His humble honesty knocked my socks off. For example, in the interview Rydell admits his beloved wife handled every aspect of their lives. After she died, he didn’t know how to pay a bill or schedule a doctor’s appointment. Calling himself “a pampered star for years,” Rydell confesses he was terrified. Or when asked what he felt what was his biggest accomplishment, after mentioning Bye Bye Birdie, he stated, “In hindsight, maybe my greatest achievement is still being here at the age of 74 after all the destructive behavior of my earlier years.”

Those brutally honest personal memories is what makes his book so great and what makes you want to give this man a hug! This legendary star is scheduled to be interviewed by Rolling Stone’s contributing editor and Grammy-winning essayist, Anthony DeCurtis, next month. So, I feel super honored he took the time out from his hectic schedule to answer my questions via email. Thank you, Bobby!

Without further ado, here’s the interview. Enjoy!

What made you decide to write an autobiography?

For years I’d sit around with musicians and other friends after my concerts telling old war stories and everyone would say, “You gotta be crazy not to write all this stuff down.  You should put a book out.” I’ve led a pretty colorful life to say the least, so I finally decided to do it. The first thing I did was contact my friend Allan Slutsky who was a guitarist and an arranger who I’d worked with off and on since 1992. Allan won the Rolling Stone “Ralph J. Gleason Award” for music book of the year in 1989 when he wrote Standing In The Shadows of Motown. A few years later, he won a few Grammys and a dozen film awards when he produced a film version of the book.  So it was a pretty logical choice to want to hook up with him on this project.

Did you have any objectives in mind that you wanted to achieve by sharing your story?

That whole Bobby-Soxer, Cameo-Parkway era happened a long time ago.  My old fans still remember everything, but I’m hoping the story of guys like me and Chubby Checker, the Dovells, Frankie Avalon, Fabian and other musical stars from that era can get documented and reach a new audience. And then, since my life was saved by double transplant surgery (a new liver and kidney) after drinking myself to within an inch of death, it gives me an opportunity to urge people to consider being organ donors in the event of a premature death. I wouldn’t be here today if someone hadn’t made that same decision. Her name was Julia, and she’ll always be my angel.

How long did it take you to write the book? Tell me a little bit about the process. Any quirky writing habits?

About, eighteen months.  Allan would come over my house, turn on the tape recorder (he was actually using old-fashioned cassettes), and he’d start firing questions at me while he took notes. At first we did general topics chronologically and then he’d return at a later date and go into detail about specific things.  Then he’d take the material home and return with a chapter and we’d go over it together. I might see something like a story he didn’t quite get right and make a correction, or I might say something like, “That’s not what I was feeling at the time,” or, “I’d never say something like that.” The funniest moments came when we went back and forth trying to get all the Italian slang words and Philly-isms to lay right.

You list many achievements in your book, but what do you consider your greatest accomplishment?

Starring in Bye Bye Birdie with Ann-Margret, Dick Van Dyke and Janet Leigh would definitely be one of them. Before that, I was just a good looking kid with a great pompadour who could sing, tell a joke, and do imitations. But I had to become an actor and a dancer for Birdie. I really grew as an artist in that film. And evolving into someone who can really do justice to songs from the Great American Songbook means a lot to me. When I was a teen idol, I sang simple pop songs, but in my ‘60s and ‘70s, I really got comfortable being an old-fashioned saloon singer on songs like “All of Me,” “You and the Night and the Music,” and other great standards. In hindsight, maybe my greatest achievement is still being here at the age of 74 after all the destructive behavior of my earlier years.

You share some intimate and personal stories in your book. What were the hardest life stories to write about and why?

Definitely the stuff about my wife’s dying of cancer and my overbearing, stage-mother. The stage-mother thing was a much needed chance to vent and get stuff off my chest after decades of arguments and fights with my Mom. She was bi-polar with a little bit of evil mixed in. It’s hard for people to believe some of the things she did because she always showed a different face to outsiders who knew her. As for my wife—she’d been my childhood sweetheart since I was a young teenager, and we were married for more than three decades.  Her loss and my struggles with the bottle that followed couldn’t be anything but agony to talk about.  But I was also terrified because she’d handled every aspect of my life from the time we got married.  I didn’t know how to pay a bill, write a check, or schedule a doctor’s appointment.  She did all that stuff.  I’d been a pampered star for years, but now I was on my own and it terrified me.

What do you want readers to take away from your book?

I’d like people to look at me as not just a singer, or an actor, or comedian, but also as a survivor. I could have packed it in many times but I was always bailed out by the kindness of other people and by the music. I wanted to live to sing another day.

You are 74 years old, yet I see from your website you have many upcoming events planned. What keeps you motivated?

I’m the kind of guy who’ll sing and perform until I die. It’s all I’ve ever known. I still get antsy when I haven’t hit a stage for a while. I still love what I do. When I can’t do it anymore, you might as well start shoveling the dirt on top of me.

If you want to read more about Rydell’s incredible story, TEEN IDOL ON THE ROCKS is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and book stores throughout America. Autographed copies and books with customized personal messages can be ordered exclusively at www.bobbyrydellbook.com.

For a list of his ongoing concert performances, both solo and alongside fellow South Philly “Golden Boys” Frankie Avalon and Fabian, you can check out the dates on his site. Also keep an eye out for his role next year in movie, The Comedian, with Robert De Niro.

Here is a schedule of special events and book signings:

TEEN IDOL ON THE ROCKS ON TOUR

Bobby Rydell: Intimate Guest Performance & Book Signing: Thursday, June 30, 2016, 8 p.m. 

Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club, 7719 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814. Tickets & Info: 240.330.4500. For more information, visit www.bethesdabluesjazz.com

Bobby Rydell In Conversation with Rolling Stone senior editor, Anthony DeCurtis, followed by a book signing: Wednesday, July 27, 2016, 8 p.m.

Buttenwieser Hall, 1395 Lexington Avenue at 92nd St., New York, NY 10128, Tickets & Info: 212-415-5500. For more information, visit www.92y.org

An Intimate Evening with Bobby Rydell – The Original Teen Idol
“Concert Conversation and Book Signing”: 
Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Tim McLoone’s Supper Club, 1200 Ocean Avenue, Asbury Park, NJ 07712
Dinner/Doors: 6:00pm – Show: 8:00pm
Tickets & Info: 732-774-1155

Includes an intimate evenings of musical performances including Rydell’s hits songs like “Volare,” “Wild One,” “Sway,” and others, but Rydell will also share stories from his incredible life.  For more information visit www.umtpresents.com.

Book Signings

Tuesday, June 21, 2016, 7-9 p.m.

B&N – Rittenhouse Square, 1805 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA

Sunday, June 26, 2016, 2-4 p.m.

B&N – Clifton, 395 NJ Rt. 3, Clifton, NJ

Saturday, July 23, 2016, 1-3 p.m.

B&N – Plymouth Meeting, 2300 Chemical Road, Plymouth Mtg., PA

Tuesday, August 16, 2016, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Doylestown Bookshop, 16 S. Main Street, Doylestown, PA

Saturday, October 8, 2016, 3-5 p.m.

Main Point Book Store, 116 North Wayne Avenue, Wayne, PA

Friday, October 14, 2016, 2-4 p.m.

Wildwood Crest Library, 6300 Atlantic Avenue, Wildwood Crest, NJ

Saturday, October 22, 2016, 1-3 p.m.

Books & Greetings, 271 Livingston Street, Northvale, NJ

Saturday, November 19, 2016, 1-3 p.m.

B&N – Broomall, 1991 Sproul Road, Broomall, PA

 

The Story of Bobby Rydell

If you’re a baby boomer, you’ll remember Bobby Rydell. This teen idol heartthrob – and what a cutie he was – exploded on the scene in the 1960s with hits like Kissin’ Time, Wild One, and my personal favorite, Volare.

Rydell appeared on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand in 1959, and went on to sell more than 25 million records during his career.

Bobby Rydell book coverNow 74 years old, Rydell has written an honest and compelling autobiography: TEEN IDOL ON THE ROCKS: A Tale of Second Chances. I was privileged to receive a review copy and gave the book a read over the weekend.

Baby boomers will enjoy Rydell’s memories of his childhood in South Philly back in the day when no one locked their door and the best places to meet girls was at the local ice cream parlor.

The stories about his rise to stardom at the tender age of 17 and the famous people he met along the way are also fascinating. For example, Sammy Davis Jr. wanted a homemade Italian meal and Rydell’s grandma offered to cook for them. Eager to impress, Rydell was relieved when the dinner went well, but you can feel his horror when his grandmother brings out watermelon for dessert because that’s what she thought “they liked.” Sammy couldn’t quit laughing but Rydell was mortified beyond words.

There are also fascinating stories about Dick Clark, Red Skeleton, Frankie Avalon, Fabrian, and Ann Margaret.

But what touched me the most were Rydell’s personal, brutally honest stories. He describes his relationship with his bipolar, manic depressive stage mother back in the day when little was understood about mental illness.  Rydell pours out his heart telling the story of his first love, Camille, to whom he was married for 35 years. She later suffered from breast cancer and your heart will break as you read how he felt “sheer terror” at the thought of losing her.

However, Rydell doesn’t offer these events as an excuse for his slide into alcoholism. In this day and age when stars, and people in general, play the blame game, it was so refreshing to read how Rydell takes full personal responsibility for his drinking and the dire consequences.

Readers will cheer as they read how he faced a double organ transplant and later double heart bypass surgery with admirable courage and gratitude for his second chances in life. He eloquently expresses his gratefulness to his donor, a young 21-year-old girl named Julia, who was tragically hit by a car and killed.

Rydell manages to come through all his fame and trials shining with optimism and heart as he finds a new love and makes a successful comeback. Yes, this man is still touring and you can still catch his act. If you want to purchase his book (autographed books are available), attend a book signing, or check out his tour dates, be sure and visit Rydell’s site.

 

Goldie Hawn’s Take on Happiness

Don’t we all want to be a little like Goldie Hawn?

Now 70 years old, this baby boomer became famous with her role on the TV show, Laugh In. Hawn went on to play giddy, ditsy, and adorable blondes in movie roles, became a successful Academy-award winning actress, and seems to have a perpetual smile on her face.

I want to be more silly like Goldie Hawn!

I want to be more silly like Goldie Hawn!

Give me some of that light-hearted happiness. A recent profile described her as “the most deliriously contented person alive.” As Hawn puts it, “I am jubilant. I am silly. I am free.” 

Okay, I confess. I’m jealous of her bubbly and sunny personality. As I’ve admitted before in this blog, I’m way too serious most of the time. I feel like a Debbie Downer in comparison.

In an interview for People magazine earlier this year, Hawn says she remembers being asked at the age of 11 what she wanted to be when she grew up. “Happy,” she answered. “I knew what I really wanted – to live a happy life, as happy as I could,” Hawn adds.

Smart kid.

Although Hawn was born with a happy deposition, she readily admits there were bumps along the way. For example, when Hawn first became successful, she felt anxious and saw a psychologist. Hawn had lost her smile and says it took many years of analysis to get it back. “It wasn’t a quick fix,” she says. “I went through the river, the eddies, the rocks, to get to the other side.” Tough times also included almost losing her first son, Oliver, because of birth complications.

But she got to the other side. Hawn claims it’s not about the obstacle but how you get through it. One of her favorite sayings is: “We are born with the seed of joy; it is up to us to nurture it.”

Recently, Hawn has become a happiness guru of sorts. She wrote three books on mindfulness and developed a research-based training program that helps kids deal with stress and experience more joy.

“One of the reasons I looked into the state of happiness is because I felt this innate tickle inside of me, close to my heart,” she explains. “It’s how I described to Katie [her daughter, Kate Hudson] what God felt like when she was little, because it feels like this amazing sense of joy, just before you are going to laugh. It is the kind of feeling I have, and I don’t remember when I didn’t have it.”

Her advice to parents? The secret to raising happy children is to be happy.

“Children mirror who you are,” she says in an interview with ABC news. “If you’re happy, if you show them smiles, if you show them good attitude, if you show them kindness, understanding, fun. … They just replicate it.”

I guess that goes for us grandparents too.

Can you learn happiness? Yes, according to Goldie. Emotional intelligence: calmness, quietness, concentration, and consideration are key.

Do you agree or disagree? Please share in the comments below!

Need more ideas on how to be carefree like Goldie? Check out my most popular blog to date, Five Ways to Become a Happy-Go-Lucky Person.

Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap at FreeDigitalPhotos.net