Archive for January 1st, 2013


Gentle reader, I wore those shoes all night. We are talking from around 5:30 pm to 1 am, and the last two hours dancing. Oh yes I paid for it around 4 am when such a giant dull drawing pain shot through my leg from foot (where feet bones are hopelessly awry) to thigh that if I could’ve I’d have hit the ceiling. WTF. It was not such a feat. It was fun. The style of shoe and even the plaid was just such a shoe as I wore the night the Admiral picked me up at a student bar some 44 years ago. I no longer have velvet emerald green ribbon in my hair and he now dresses in black top, black suit, all but tie (his shabby torn corderoy jacket from that first night long ago gone).

We brought the New Year in properly once again. We’d not done this for 5 years (we think). We brought it in dancing to a wonderful group in the Kennedy Center great hall: the Chaise Longue they call themselves. A group of aging white guys playing cello, saxophone, trumpet, piano, guitar and a not-so-young-girl, a marvelously soft-voiced crooner who sang irrevrent songs: like when she was “in a relationship” and it was time to end and he went on about his emotions, her refrain “I want my stuff.” Very sexy silver dress and wonderful tight grey boots, low heels, just wrapped around her feet.

They had begun the evening by being the first hour-long free act on the Millenium Stage. We arrived to find all seats taken, all steps, all places in aisles where this is possible, but we were not far from the front and I did manage to sit half-way through and the Admiral and Yvette just before the last number. “Snow day” was fun, and “I don’t want to” too. And when she was upbeat, looking forward to next year, the song was last year had been pretty bad so the next would in all probability be better. She ended on a Neil Simon.

Then dinner at the Terrace Cafe, very crowded. There were 5 shows going on: Shear Madness (of course); White Christmas (in the large opera house); Cheyenne Something-or-Other (Jackson?) way upstairs, solo; the National Symphony; and ours, Million Dollar Quartet. Meal was fine. I was glad to see more African-American people than I’ve ever seen before: not a tiny minority quite any more. People in all sorts of groups. Tables full but we got one as people got up. Everyone being friendly.

Mimickry is big this year (let’s not forget Bill Murray as Roosevelt in Hyde Park on Hudson, Mirren and Hopkins and Mr and Mrs Hitchcock), and who can resist a supposed re-creation of one night in 1956 when Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, are said to have jammed together in a recording session with Sam Phillips. They added for female interest (dressed 50s style) Kelly Lamont as Miss Peggy Lee, Dyanne, and another women rock star whose number she belted out and boomed with, all rolled into one. It wasn’t great. Billy Woodward had all the gestures, and could do “You ain’t nothing but a Hound Dog” right, but he lacked the soft really lyrical register of the King so we had no “Love me Tender, Love Me Blue.” The play was maybe deliberately corny: like some 1950s movie the characters discussed “rock-n-roll” solemnly; three, Cash (David Elkins had Cash’s voice down pat), Perkins (Robert Britton Lyons, marvelous just extraordinary on guitar) and Elvis were moving to Columbia (or was it RCA?). Breaking Sam’s (Vince Nappo) heart. But this is caviling I suppose. Martin Kaye was Jerry Lee Lewis was exquisitely right. Whatever was the quality of that voice, the crazed piano playing, so exhilarating. Each and every number he did stole the show. Goodness, gracious great balls of fire! (There was some needless class-inflected condescending jokes, I feel honor-bound to say.)

Well by the end the group of them had gotten the audience to its feet, some dancing in the aisles. Elvis gave his scarf to one (good-natured) woman in the front row who let them rib her. Nostalgia, memory for me did the rest and their gorgeous jackets in the final number:


I feel compelled to say this unfairly omits Dyane who had a tambourine (I used to love these) and rolled on the piano, feet in pumps kicking high up. You can see her here — don’t miss her round-toed (pink) high-heels:


The cliches were hit just right. After the encore, we were told “Elvis has left the building.” The Admiral said in Presley’s later Vegas years, that would be announced to let everyone know there’d be no more encores. Eric Schaeffer’s career is a continuing zenith (he directed the Broadway production and this too).

Then downstairs to await the dancing as people spilled everywhere. Another enjoyable aspect of Kennedy Center New Year’s Night is all the bye-ways and stairs and balconies overlooking the hall are fair game for all. People just wander all over. It was a bit cold for outside but there were those who braved it.

Hats and noise-makers were on a table, but this year we saw lots of people seemed to bring their own very fancy hat (fascinaters the Admiral called them) or lit-up (fiber-optic Cleopatra like) headgear

A disappointment: no more are both sides of the hall with their own world-specific band. Meaning no more waltzing to Strauss. Chaise Longue showed up on one side (we saw them eating in the Terrace Cafe — not the super-expensive restaurant) but on the other it was at first dark, and then the magic of big screens had them appear on the other side too. It saved my feet. Most years we went we did walk from one end of the hall to the other and rocked on one side and waltzed on the other. I had hoped once again to see a couple we had seen several years in a row. A tall handsome man in white tie (blonde hair) and a lovely woman who seemed older than him at first so I dubbed her his mother, maybe it was her grey haired page boy. She would wear an elegant swirling skirted dress. He had white gloves, maybe she did too. Later I came to think they were partners, or man and wife, or “in a relationship” maybe. They danced the waltzes marvelously well. I wondered how they had felt the first year they showed up to no waltzing. Very disappointing. It would rejuvenate me each year to see them, the way I am rejuvenated by seeing characters survive in Candide.

We lost Yvette for a time. She usually wanders off by herself. She and I both wore calf-length skirts, hers black-with-gold-trim. It’s one I bought myself ten years ago in a thrift shop. It doesn’t look right on me any more but it’s now perfect for her. She gets compliments at work. Basically she put on my mother’s expensive earrings and tasteful pearls and pumps to match my skirt and black top (with a few sequins). I usually see her on the balconies looking down, going up and down stairs, mingling sort of. Chaise Longue music was anywhere from 50s rock-n-roll, bosa nova, to 70s soft rock, lots of familiar musical songs too.

Sh managed to find us just after mid-night. We were right near the stage.

The balloons had come down:


Overhead are strung at intervals on the ceiling of the hall long waves of what look like cellophane wrapped scores and piles of balloons. At the final count of “one” and call “Happy New Year” someone (or more) lets them down. Then there is a free-for-all of balloon busting, balloon hitting, balloons floating in the air.

She came up just as people were making a mess of the floor & floating everywhere like balls. The three of us danced in circle. We were not so very drunk. The lines had been long for drinks and drinks not big. Actually we had scotch and ginger ale, not those thin things of champagne at $12.50 a pop.

We stayed not much longer afterward. My feet had had it, and I took my shoes off as I got onto the down escalator with its high rides. I didn’t want the heels to get caught.

Good news too. One of my Austen Reverie blogs, the latest, the essay on the Spanish-American re-cast of S&S, From Prada to Nada, has been published as an essay-review by BSECS on line:

From Prada to Nada:

What some light-editing and setting the paragraphs up conventionally will do! (On my blogs I use lines of stars between sections and within sections stills to mark turns of thought). I am chuffed.

And so I close with Burns’s great unbeatable song, which we sang at twelve, the three of us holding hands in the crowd singing too:


Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindnes yet
For auld lang syne!


And surely you’ll be your pint-stoup,
And surely I’ll be mine;
And we’ll tak a cup o’kindness yet
For auld lang syne!


We twa hae run about the braes,
And pu’d the gowans fine;
But we’ve wandered mony a weary fit
Sin auld lang syne.


We twa hae paidl’d in the burn,
Frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
Sin auld lang syne!


And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere,
And gie’s a hand o’thine;
And we’ll take a right guid willie-waught
For auld lang syne!

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll take a cup o’kindness yet
For auld lang syne!

According to Chambers Scots Dictionary, a “willie-waught” is ” a hearty drink of any strong liquor.”

An Oxford edition of Burns (1904, ed. J. Logie Robertson), has an
indispensable glossary. Ursula Rempel beat me to the “hearty drink,” but I can add that “fiere” means “brother.” “Pu’d the gowans” means “picked the daisies,” and “paidled i’ the burn,” is “paddled in the stream.”

Must not forget footnotes.

We are off to Boston and the MLA tomorrow, back on Sunday.


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