October to April: It’s ALICE B. TIME

October 12th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

One of my goals when I began this blog was to bring as much recognition to Alice as to Gertrude. Though my use of the term “GertrudeandAlice” implies a symbiotic relationship, which it was, Alice still often plays second fiddle to Gertrude’s first chair violin for some people.

gsabtcelineloupmentalfloss-copy

I think I have been able to rectify this disparity of wellknownness over the years and I must think that even Gertrude would not be upset to know that Alice has gotten her due as so much more than chief cook and bottle washer!

In the next few months I propose giving Alice even more due !

abt-wsj

March 7, 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of Alice’s death, so I’m declaring the six month period from now until Alice’s 140th birthday on April 30th ALICE B. TIME! And by chance, there are a lot of Alice related things happening during ABT. » Read the rest of this entry «

Five Years Later: The Journey of My Own Plain Edition

September 12th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

This year is the 5th anniversary of my book GERTRUDE AND ALICE AND FRITZ AND TOM. I know it’s a cliche, but I must say it anyway – “Where has the time gone?” 

The book has found its way to readers around the world and just last week I shipped another five copies to Shakespeare & Company in Paris, which has sold more copies of it than any other bookstore or online retailer, which I find so appropriate and gratifying.

Would I do it again? Yes! Do I have more tales to tell, yes! But for now, here is my post from five years ago, as I awaited the first shipment of books from Singapore:

Wasn’t it Lady Macbeth who said “What’s done is done,” at some point either before or after that bloody dagger scene? (Just checked, it’s after the dagger scene – that would be logical !)

…the deed is done!

Well, I’ve done it too and feel a bit like a parent dropping off his first child at kindergarten hoping for the best as tears well-up and Miss Crabtree leads the young one away to join the other rascals.

Miss Crabtree in charge

So what is it that’s been done – the children’s picture book which I’ve been working on for…let’s just say many,many years is on its way to a printer in Singapore!

» Read the rest of this entry «

January, 1926 – 27, rue du Fleurus, Paris

December 29th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

“Stop Pussy, stop, stop, stop!”

 

The concierge looked toward the window and just shook his head.

I wish they were our aunts. copy 2

“Those Americans, in the middle of the afternoon! I will wait a few moments.”

» Read the rest of this entry «

GertrudeandAliceandFritzandTom…andSamsonandCaesar: Two Anniversaries Await in 2016

September 8th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

As we move from one season to another, it’s common to reflect on where the time has gone and can it really be time to exchange one set of clothes in the closet for another? (Those of us who live in the San Francisco Bay area or similar climates, usually have both spring/summer and fall/winter clothes ready year round.)

Come September, it’s also time to look ahead to things happening by the end of the year and those that will inaugurate the coming year. In my GertrudeandAlice world there are a few items in the offing if all goes according to plans.

My anniversary-obsessed mind has pinpointed two in 2016, though as the new year gets closer and closer, I’m sure there may be others.

This coming year marks the 5th anniversary of my picture book GERTRUDE AND ALICE AND FRITZ AND TOM and (drumroll, please!) the 90th anniversary of Gertrude’s famous, Caesar haircut! Since the book is set in 1925, Gertrude still has her woman bun.

map of paris copy

Ooops, that's not The Gert! All Hail, Brando!

Ooops, that’s not The Gert! All Hail, Brando as Mark Antony!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In brief from Copenhagen

May 11th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

A  3-day conference at the University of Copenhagen celebrating the 100th anniversary of Gertrude Stein’s book TENDER BUTTONS ended yesterday.

2TenderButtons

I brought a few things from my collection, including the first edition seen above, to exhibit in the library and had a short presentation about them and how my GertrudeandAlice obsession began.

There were presentations about performing Stein, how new technologies can be used to consolidate and make available information about her, perspectives on GertrudeandAlice’s relationship, their salon’s significance and many more. One of the keynote speakers was Catherine Stimpson, one of the Grande Dames of Stein research, who is really not at all Grande-Damey, but instead very approachable, only too eager to share, most candidly, her expertise and genuinely  interested in learning what is going on in the realm of Stein research. She is also an incredibly engaging speaker.

Several performances, both musical and theatrical, were interspersed throughout the conference. One of the highlights was a performance of Gertrude’s  “Miss Furr and Miss Skeene,” which many consider the first literary work to use the word “gay” in its contemporary meaning. Check out the text online – there are various links.

Don't know who these ladies are, but they could be Miss Furr and Miss Skeene!

Don’t know who these ladies are, but they could be Miss Furr and Miss Skeene!

One evening featured an Alice-cookbook-inspired dinner coordinated by my friend Karen Hagen, who is the publisher of the Norwegian edition of the cookbook. The various courses were punctuated by readings from the cookbook and I had the honor and pleasure to read the “Haschish Fudge,” recipe.  A good time was had by all!

It is so encouraging to see the broad interest in GertrudeandAlice and how it continues to develop more and more.

A few additional days in wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen and then homeward.

YellowRose4

PS

Last night we watched the finale of the Eurovision singing competition, a mixture of the finals of American Idol, The Voice, Dancing with the Stars, and Oscar night.  The winner was from Austria – a full-bearded, drag queen named Conchita Wurst! What more can you ask for during a trip to Europe?

 

 

A Reflection on Landmark Birthdays

March 20th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

What are the landmark birthdays?  1,5,13,16,18,21,25,30,40,50,60,65,70,75,80,85,90,95,100?

Now that's a landmark !

Now that’s a landmark !

Well, today I’ve reached the one almost in the center of the top listing (does that still make it middle-age?), so officially I am now a Senior Citizen, though I know for some benefits that age has dropped to 55 and even 50.

As many of my generation have gotten older, it has become popular to  confront our ages by making  them seem less old than our parents or grandparents by creating the “is-the-new” model: 30 is-the-new 20, 40 is-the-new 30, 50 is-the-new 40, and so on.

In that case, though birthdays at any life-stage have never concerned me, as far as I can remember, I’ll make 65 the-new-45. Why not? Where was I at 45 and what was I doing?  Let me think.

To put it into perspective. Gertrude was 60 at the beginning of the U.S. lecture tour. Alice was 77 when her cookbook was published. I wasn’t born at the beginning of the U.S. lecture tour and was 5 when the cookbook was published.

Alice, you shouldn't have !

Alice, you shouldn’t have !

One of Gertrude’s quotes which has joined the ranks of greeting card quips is her take on age.  It’s a very simple set of words, but quite profound:

“We are always the same age inside.”

I’ve always liked that and especially today as I reflect on landmark birthdays of the past (at least ones I can remember), I’ll use it as today’s mantra, so that my body and mind clearly get the message, as a very fulfilled life goes on.

Thanks again Gertie.

YellowRose3

“Oh, when the SAINTS….!”

July 16th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

The year was 1934. FDR was in the second year of his first term as President.  The top movie of the year was “It Happened One Night” with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. And the theater and opera world were agog about FOUR SAINTS IN THREE ACTS!

The agogism wasn’t because the opera’s title was a lie, as there were more than four saints and more than three acts in the piece. Neither was the music by a not too well-known composer, Virgil Thomson,  particularly revolutionary.  Yes, it had an all-black cast, a first for an opera or theater work on Broadway (this was pre-Porgy and Bess), but what raised eyebrows and caused agogamania was the libretto by Gertrude Stein, that little read, but very much in the public eye, personality and transplanted American from “artsy-fartsy Paris!”

a few of the original Four Saints, standing, not marching, at this point

a few of the original Four Saints, standing, not marching, at this point

Why with lyrics from one of its most well-known refrains, why wouldn’t there be Steinmania across America?

“Pigeons on the grass alas.
  Pigeons on the grass alas.
  Short longer grass short longer longer shorter yellow grass. Pigeons

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large pigeons on the shorter longer yellow grass alas pigeons on the
grass.
  If they were not pigeons what were they.”

When Gertrude’s editor for the book version of the opera, Saxe Commins at Random House, raised questions about the libretto, she turned to him, stared him in the eyes and said “My dear, you simply don’t understand!”

Now, almost 80 years later, an exciting, new version of  FOUR SAINTS, Gertrude Stein SAINTS!,  comes to New York in a few weeks to the La MaMa Theatre, the  historic off-off Broadway theater (it’s where the musical HAIR was created and performed in 1968), as part of this year’s New York International Fringe Festival.

These SAINTS! are marching in to the beat of a different drummer in more ways than one!

"Oh Lord I want to be in that number...!"

“Oh Lord I want to be in that number…!”

Here’s a bit of history and background:

“Our initial investigation into Stein’s work began with an all-male production of Four Saints in Three Acts at Carnegie Mellon University in February of 2013. Stein’s libretto offers no plot, no characters, and no conflict; it is a non-narrative text that can best be described as linguistic gymnastics.  In all this absence, anything becomes possible and what we have discovered is a Theatre of Joy. The response to the original production was overwhelmingly positive and became an invitation for more. We have since added an all-female Saints and Singing, also featuring an original musical score inspired by American music created by insanely talented performers. The two works are combined to create Gertrude Stein SAINTS!, powerhouse that explores gender, a theatre that replaces conflict with joy, and America.

Under the guidance of director Michelle Sutherland, this production has also tapped in to the 21st century’s answer to the patronage of the Medicis or the generosity of the Rockefellers, Guggenheims, or Fords, by raising funds through kickstarter.com. The goal of the 21 day campaign is $9,000, of which more than two-thirds has been pledged and there is one week to go!

Lorenzo de Medici looking like a saint. Right?!

Lorenzo de Medici looking like a saint. Right?!

Be a part of this! Haven’t you always wanted to be a Medici or Rockefeller? And if you’re in or near New York City next month, get your tickets soon.

www.kickstarter.com/projects/1345434627/gertrude-stein-saints

If they were not pigeons, what were they? My dear,  SAINTS!, of course! Now you understand!

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The Autobiography by Any Other Name(s)…and Two Birthdays

April 29th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas was published 80 years ago this fall.  What better way to celebrate this anniversary and Alice’s birthday on April 30th (Happy 136 !),  than with another autobiography, but not just any autobiography would do and it hasn’t!

The 1933 Autobiography:"May I come in, Pussy?"

The 1933 Autobiography:
“Bedtime, Pussy?”

Just a few weeks ago THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF DANIEL J. ISENGART by Filip Noterdaeme was published by Outpost19. Honoring the style of Stein’s faux-biography, Noterdaeme writes about his partner and their life together.  They are the new expats, one from Belgium, one from Germany, and their Paris is Brooklyn, New York City, the Hamptons and beyond.

But who are FilipandDaniel, the GertrudeandAlice of the 21st century, whose book ushers in the 80th anniversary year of THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY?

» Read the rest of this entry «

Fritz Peters at 100: A Tribute by Any Other Name…

March 2nd, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

There are certain people, both real or imaginary, who will always remain children in our memory.

From Peter Pan and his followers in Neverland, to Christopher Robin dragging Winnie the Pooh behind him, to the precocious rascals of the Our Gang comedies and the Depression-era tap dancing and ever-smiling Shirley Temple, these young ‘uns are ageless!

The ageless Peter Pan

The ageless Peter Pan

A bumpy ride for Mr. Pooh.

A bumpy ride for Mr. Pooh.

All together now rascals!

All together now rascals!

Miss Temple tapping the blues away!

Miss Temple tapping the blues away!

I’m adding to this menagerie of Shangrila cuties, Arthur Anderson Peters, who wrote under the name Fritz Peters.  Fritz would have turned 100 years old today.

Fritz at the age he was in Gertrude and Alice and Fritz and Tom

Fritz at the age he was in Gertrude and Alice and Fritz and Tom

It was the wonderful chapter in his memoir, BOYHOOD WITH GURDJIEFF, which inspired me to write my picture book GERTRUDE AND ALICE AND FRITZ AND TOM.  I just couldn’t resist retelling the story of two young boys, Fritz and his brother Tom, reveling under the tutelage of GertrudeandAlice in 1920s Paris.  (Woody Allen, there’s a Paris sequel for you!)  And Fritz’s quote about his years at the boarding school outside of Paris helped to make the decision to do the book even easier:

 “I have never forgotten that winter.  The long evenings of reading and study in our warm rooms [and] looking forward to my visits to Paris with Gertrude and Alice.”

On his 100th birthday, I pay tribute to Fritz Peters, a tribute that is long overdue.

» Read the rest of this entry «

Thanks…and Yes, Thanks!

November 18th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

It’s been another tough year on this planet of ours.  Mankind has been up to his usual no good at times and Mother Nature has once again proven how angry she can get, undoubtedly due to some of the no good mankind has afflicted on her.  Why shouldn’t she be upset?!

In a German children’s picture book that we grew up with, ETWAS VON DEN WURZELKINDERN (Something from the Root-Children), there is a wonderful illustration of Mother Earth preparing the root-children for the coming of winter.  Now this is the way it should be!

» Read the rest of this entry «

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