Archive | 10:07 pm

Adventures in Shopping

11 Sep

Few things are as embarrassing as … selecting a cucumber on a crowded Sunday at Shaw’s. (Actually, no matter when you try to select a cucumber, it’s embarrassing.)

Few things are as annoying as … going through the due diligence of selecting a good piece of cake for dessert (i.e.: biggest one they’ve got, plenty of icing, nothing stuck to the sides of the container — hold your comments, please) and having the cashier tip it upside down to scan the bar code, in the process getting icing on the top of the container, even if it’s just a little bit.
Second place: the fact that the shortest line is always the slowest.

But, having all the students back in town does make grocery shopping a more pleasant experience. At least aesthetically.

Music from Tragedy

11 Sep

If there’s one good thing that comes from major disasters and tragedies, it’s the response from the people in the entertainment community. In the 2 weeks since Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, just like they did in the weeks that followed 9/11 and the tidal wave in Southeast Asia last December, singers and actors have come together to take part in various telethons and relief concerts, such as the one I stayed home to watch tonight that’s being simulcast on MTV, VH1 and CMT.

Last week, there was one on NBC that featured artists, like Harry Connick Jr. and Wynton Marsalis, who were from New Orleans. Last night’s show, simulcast on all the major broadcast networks, had a more diverse lineup, one that included Mariah Carey, Sheryl Crow, U2, Neil Young and Kanye West, among others. Tonight on the MTV show, it’s folks like Paul McCartney, John Mayer, Kelly Clarkson, Green Day, Coldplay, Hank Williams Jr., Alicia Keys and … well, it’s a four-hour-plus show (the others were just an hour long). Kanye West and Alicia Keys and Sheryl Crow and Neil Young and U2, they all pulled double duty these past two nights.

Anyway, my point here is not to applaud the celebs for taking part. It’s to say how great the music has been. Of course, you knew Harry Connick’s cover of “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans,” even despite his tired and scratchy voice, would be awesome. That’s because it’s times like these that separate the true artists from, well, the Britney Spears of the world. Maybe it’s the minimalist performance style that in many of these cases leaves only the singer and a piano or a guitar. Maybe it’s the heartfelt emotion in the performances. Or maybe it’s just song selection. Whatever it is, there’s no denying that, for example, the U2/Mary J. Blige collaboration on “One” last night was simply music at its finest. It was one of the best performances of that song I’d ever heard and it blew me away. Mary J. Blige gave me chills. Randy Newman’s “Louisiana” (I think that’s what it was called), Sheryl Crow’s “The Water Is Wide” and Rod Stewart’s “People Get Ready” were also memorable.

Alicia Keys began the MTV/VH1/CMT show tonight with a moving rendition of “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” Kid Rock and Lynyrd Skynyrd followed with an upbeat — but respectful — “Sweet Home Alabama.” John Mayer (with his blues trio) contributed a new song, “Gravity,” that was written in the last couple of weeks in response to Katrina. Live (on tape) from Milwaukee, the Rolling Stones sang “Waiting on a Friend.” Kelly Clarkson performed a song called “Shelter,” and she did a really nice job with it. And that was just the first half hour or so.

After the 9/11 telethon, the performances in the George Clooney-led telethon were released on CD and all proceeds went to victims’ families and other related causes. I’m hoping that after the past two weeks’ telethons, a similar charity CD is released with “the best” of these shows (there was also one last night on BET that I did not watch). Or that recordings will show up on iTunes. If not, well, if you missed the U2/Mary J. Blige duet, you missed something truly special.