Saturday, April 18, 2015


John Cullum and Emily Frankel discuss their differences, areas where their different backgrounds clash.

John, mentioning specifics, feels their incompatibilities make them more compatible.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


I just saw a film I'd seen before --"Elvis On Tour" -- spliced-together clips that revealed all the aspects of Elvis -- great moments, embarrassing, amusing moments -- his enormous ego, his kindness, his amazing awareness of others, his amazing connection to music.

Golly, his gestures, his fingers, his hands that said that he was into whatever he was singing -- the song itself -- the words, the idea; his dancing -- the knee that kept time, the trucking feet and legs -- sudden bursts of full out, full body movement -- he mesmerizes me now as he did the first time I saw him.

I was a fan. I am a fan, who is still embarrassed, even annoyed by all those weepy, thrilled, young and old females who loved him, truly loved him. I know that kind of love. (Hey, I married a man who has an inner thing like Elvis had. When you see a performer who has it, you fall in love -- it’s nutty, it's crazy, adoration.)

Sure, I saw again how Elvis changed as he aged -- the film emphasized all that, as we saw him, again and again, mop himself, toss his scarves to his fans, and drive them crazy when he bent down and kissed a female in the front row. What he wore -- his taste, rings, capes, low-hung glittering gold belt -- those gaudy, outrageously studded, bejeweled outfits -- did I look down on them? Sure. But I loved everything about those outfits because I knew Elvis picked them out and loved to wear them.

I haven't mentioned that voice of his -- the range, the control he had -- his lower register, wow. Like a Stradivarius, his voice was somehow encased in him perfectly, so perfectly that the tone was ... His voice was thrilling.

After his movie career, Elvis went back to touring and touring -- it's a killer way of performing and earning a living. (I know from my experience as dancer.)

All that we’ve learned about Elvis's death, August 1977, at age 42 -- awful that we had to know that he died on the toilet -- it was shocking to learn about his pills and medications, and why he was hooked on them.

None of this ugly reality was on my mind when I heard him again, in this film.
I just saw a man, a boy, a person, who loved to sing. Music was everything to him, gospel music that came from the world in which he was born and lived in all his life. Gospel was his family.

I am a writer, and as I work on what I write I feel out what’s on my mind. I loved his music, loved what came out of that voice. Elvis was to me, still is, a preacher in song.

Sunday, April 12, 2015


Good days, bad days -- days when things seem bright colored and hopeful, other days when things are fading, and people that mean something to you are leaving the earth, and things you count on have disappeared.

You would think that by now, having experienced ups and downs and seen how things change, I would be able to nod and say, "This is normal. This is life. C'mon, Em, you know that every day you live is one day gone from your life."

Why can't I banish the fact that things you love have to die?

Favorite things wear out. Green leaves turn brown, crinkle, fall from the tree to be blown by the wind, or swept into a pile that's burned or buried. The blue-gold petal of fire on the candle melts the wax, burns out, and it's gone. A day begins as the sun rises and ends as the sun goes down.

A dear friend died.  I knew she was ill, but didn't know she was dying. Her husband died a few months ago. A few days ago, when her secretary phoned to tell me she'd left the earth, I thought the phone call was about next week's luncheon tribute she'd arranged for her husband. Now the tribute will be for both of them.

Is that why from my window the world seems to be withering and crumpling -- wars, politics, poverty, corruption -- a sense of gray, and no solutions pervade my thoughts?

Ho ho -- looking out my window is telling me to turn around and look at the inside my house -- see the colors, enjoy what's lighted, bright and clean and doing things in my office, in all my rooms.

My home sweet home reminds me that growing old is something not to dwell on. Yes, you have to glance at realty, and see what you see, but you have to move on.

My friend is no longer alive, and what I see out my window is getting grayer and darker, but if I turn -- okay, what's outside my window is there -- okay, I can feel my grief and miss my friend -- even so, in this room and all the rooms inside my house, is the world I made, that I can see and be in.

Ho ho!  Now is the time to enjoy the now.