Tag Archive | Woodstock Festival

Together in Joy and Creativity – Reflections on marriage and music

My husband and I celebrated our thirty-seventh wedding anniversary on May 3rd, and I’ve been thinking about what’s kept us together all these years. Paradoxically, one of those togetherness factors is separation – especially when it comes to music.

About a decade ago, when the City of Albany was building the pedestrian bridge over Route 787 that leads to the Corning Preserve adjoining the Hudson River, they offered the citizenry the opportunity to purchase an engraved paving stone. I bought one for my husband’s birthday, and it reads “Julie and (his name) together in joy and creativity.”* I love looking at it every time I cross that elegant bridge to the river’s edge, and I suspect I’ll be crossing it quite a bit this summer, since Albany’s Alive at Five concert series has the best lineup in years.

I’m virtually positive he won’t be going, though. He despises crowded, heavily amped rock and country concerts – always has, always will. One of the factors contributing to the disintegration of his first marriage was his refusal to accompany his wife to the 1969 Woodstock Festival.** He’s gone with me on occasion, but not happily. The last time I remember was a concert at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, maybe three years ago.

We were enjoying our annual day at the track. I’d picked a few winners with my $2 and $5 bets, and I’d placed my bets on the last race when I heard a man calling, “Anyone want two tickets to The Police and Elvis Costello at SPAC tonight?” At his side in record time, I learned he and his wife had planned to attend with another couple who couldn’t make it, and he was selling two lawn tickets for $60 each.

“That sounds great,” I said. “Let me go ask my husband.” Then I reconsidered and pounced. “Oh, what the hell. I’ll get them right now – then he won’t have a choice.”

He was fairly gracious about the surprise, but the traffic jam was so horrendous that we missed half of Elvis Costello’s first set. He was great, and The Police were fantastic – at sixty plus, Sting still has rock star charisma to burn. But the low visibility in the darkness and the crush of the crowd were a tad overpowering. My spouse swears he’ll never go back to SPAC, and I respect his wishes. That’s why I’ve got a single ticket – a reserved inside seat – to hear the Zac Brown Band there on June lst.

Don’t get me wrong – we do partake of an occasional concert together. He likes classical music, especially of the chamber variety, he’s okay with some jazz and folk, and we frequent the avant garde performance pieces at EMPAC. For the most part, though, I feed my musical Jones by ushering at The Egg and the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, occasionally springing for a big-ticket concert I can’t bear to miss, like Bruce Springsteen’s latest swing through Albany.

Oskar Kokoschka

We usually go out to dinner on our anniversary, but this time I decided I’d rather go to a benefit for the Mental Health Association of New York State, featuring music from Tom Chapin, the brother of the late Harry Chapin. As both a therapist and a consumer of mental health services, I strongly believe in the cause, but I was also lured by the prospect of the music. In general, my spouse loathes “sensitive” singer-songwriters, especially those he claims sing through their noses or as if they’re suffering from an acute digestive upset – think Bob Dylan and his descendants – but for the sake of our own harmony, he agreed to humor me. We both thoroughly enjoyed Tom Chapin.

Humoring each other, tolerating each other’s proclivities and foibles, has helped us hang in there all these years. Perhaps equally important, we’ve always heeded the words by Khalil Gibran that we read at our wedding in 1975: “Let there be spaces in your togetherness.” We’ve never felt the necessity to move in lockstep, or to share totally in each other’s enthusiasms. Music’s perhaps the major area where this holds true, but by no means the only one.

After all these years, we’re still “together in joy and creativity.” It’s even written in stone.

*I’m omitting his name because he prefers to remain anonymous when it comes to my blog posts, lest I say something that might reflect badly on his public persona.

**I was at the Woodstock Festival almost from start to finish – and, for the most part, alone. See my three posts about the experience elsewhere on this blog.


A tall tale featuring my top ten tags

Julia Child

Today’s blog post is a statistical experiment. Never fear, I know that sounds dreary, but I’m going to have fun with it by creating a fictional journal entry using key words and phrases that seem to have drawn people to my blog.

I study my stats religiously, and they’ve been down in the past week. Perhaps my topics haven’t been uplifting or intriguing enough – I wrote about the death of an artist friend, website anxiety, agita and acid indigestion. On the other hand, “affordable funerals” has been one of my most popular topics to date, so go figure. Today, I’ll start with a true statement; after that, all bets are off. I’ll highlight the popular tags in turquoise, and see if I can drive up my stats for the day.

As Administrator for the Memorial Society of the Hudson-Mohawk Region, I get a lot of inquiries about affordable funerals. I’m fairly well versed in what’s going on with funeral homes in upstate New York, but I decided it was time to broaden my horizons. What better place to start than Baltimore and the grave of Edgar Allan Poe? I’d visited there before when I went to Bouchercon, but I didn’t want to linger, so after paying my respects I caught a shuttle to the Baltimore-Washington airport.

Next stop: London. Once there, I realized I wasn’t in the mood for research, at least not of the kind I’d come for, so I decided to cure my jet lag by exploring the local nightlife. I found a pub in the Soho district, and lo and behold, a devastatingly handsome bloke named Harold was soon chatting me up. He looked much the way John Lennon might have if he’d lived to see 60.

Jimi Hendrix

I regaled him with tales of my past – how I’d shown my paintings and won a prize at the Woodstock Festival in 1969, how a disc jockey had helped me sneak my paintings into the Beatles’ suite at the Warwick Hotel, how I’d lived in New York City’s SoHo district at the height of its glory. How Jimi Hendrix bought me a screwdriver and asked for my phone number at a Greenwich Village club, and I stayed in my loft for a week waiting for his call in vain.

Baseball diamond

Harold and I discovered we both had a passion for blogging. I told him how amazed I was to be getting hundreds of hits a day, but that I couldn’t figure out what made certain posts more popular. I could understand the appeal of “Norman Mailer ogled my chest” and “Julie and Julie and Julia” Parts 1, 2 and 3, but why “My blogging story arc – a field of dreams?” Enid Wilson’s steamy take on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice was a big hit too. Michael Jackson I could understand – I blogged about Michael as the archetype of a tortured artist. Harold and I agreed about the poignancy of his death, but that he’d probably passed his prime, and that the brilliant film “Michael Jackson’s This Is It” was a fitting legacy.

After my second Black Russian, I was feeling confident enough to pull both my mysteries out of my carry-on bag. He raved about my cover illustrations, and immediately insisted on buying both Eldercide and Mood Swing: The Bipolar Murders. My first sale on English soil! I was thrilled.

“I’d love to show you more of London tomorrow,” Harold said.

“That would be great, but I’m not sure my husband would approve.” I pulled out my BlackBerry. “Come to think of it, I’d better give him a call. . . .”

 [the scene ends here]

Actually, it turns out that most of the above is fact, not fiction. I’ve been to Baltimore for Bouchercon and and visited Poe’s grave, but I don’t have plans to return any time soon. I didn’t jet off to London and meet a dashing Englishman, but everything I told him about my background and my blogging is true. Now I’ll type in all the tags and see what happens.

Hey, this isn’t a bad creative writing exercise – maybe I’ll try it again sometime. You’re welcome to try it as well. What tags and subjects have drawn the most people to your blog? Can you turn them into a story? I’d love to hear from you.

Scents of the Sixties

"Jimi Hendrix" by Julie Lomoe, Acrylic, 64" x 64", Shown at Woodstock Festival, 1969

SPOILER ALERT – the following post deals with body odor. If that grosses you out, maybe you should skip my blog today, but the topic follows a logical progression. Since I began blogging last May, I’ve disclosed quite a bit about myself and my personal history – in particular my bipolar diagnosis and how it’s influenced my mystery novels, especially MOOD SWING: THE BIPOLAR MURDERS. In their comments, people have lauded me for my courage and honesty in letting it all hang out. The more praise I get, the more personal my disclosures become. It’s a simple matter of positive reinforcement; I learned all about it decades ago when I took B.F. Skinner’s Human Behavior course at Harvard. (By the way, he had a daughter named Julie – he raised her in the infamous “Skinner Box.”)

I’ve received lots of positive feedback for my posts about the 1969 Woodstock Festival, where I won a prize for my paintings. The growing sense of community I’m experiencing as I widen my circle of friends on the Internet reminds me in many ways of the spirit of the 60’s. At the height of Flower Power, I was a newly divorced (well, at least amicably separated) woman in my twenties and a pioneer settler in the cast iron district in Lower Manhattan that was becoming known as SoHo. When I renovated my first loft on Broome Street, I put in a minimal bathroom with the cheapest tin shower stall I could find. Incidentally, that loft was diagonally across the street from the one where Heath Ledger died. The articles on his death all described the neighborhood as luxurious and upscale, but it was anything but back then.

As I recall, bodily hygiene wasn’t a high priority in the 60’s, for myself and for many others. I won’t go into the gory details, but suffice it to say we got pretty funky. And at the Woodstock Festival, I didn’t get near running water for three days straight. I’m no Marcel Proust, and I don’t have a vivid olfactory memory. People must have smelled pretty ripe, I suppose, but the odor was masked by all the fragrant smoke.

Today, sitting at our computers and communicating on the World Wide Web, we can get equally odiferous if we choose. As I write, it’s 3:55 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, and I’m still in the luxurious powder-blue polyester garment I bought at Wal-Mart for $18. It’s a cross between velour and chenille, it zips up the front, and I don’t know whether to call it a robe or a nightgown, but I’ve been wearing it practically around the clock. I love it so much that if it survives the first wash in good shape, I’ll go back and get another one in pink. It’s comfy and cozy, but the day’s getting warmer, and – well, you get the idea

Thank heavens no one can smell us when we’re being scintillating online. They can’t see us either, unless we want them to. For the Poisoned Pen Web Con back in October, billed as the first virtual international mystery writers’ conference, authors had the option of doing live video feeds, but luckily I wasn’t up to speed on that particular technology. Some authors who did manage to give a presentation that way may wish they hadn’t – the fish-eye lenses built into their computers were anything but flattering.

I wonder if writers in Nebraska or Maine become even more slovenly than I do. I’m fortunate to live in the Capital Region of upstate New York, and there’s lots of live in-person literary and artsy action. I clean up fairly nicely for my age, and I enjoy dressing for success as much as the next woman. I spend much less money on clothes than I used to, though – one of the many advantages of doing most of my socializing online.

In a couple of hours, I’ll be leaving for the Albany’s monthly First Night to make the rounds of the galleries. Knowing my husband, he’ll tactfully say, “You’re going to take a bath, aren’t you?” I don’t know why he feels the need for these reminders after 36 years, because I do have a modicum of judgment on hygiene issues.  

As I sit here at the computer in my upstairs office, looking out at the lake while my two cats stare in tense fascination at the red squirrel using the nearest bare tree as a jungle gym, I realize how lucky I am. I love reminiscing about the 60’s, but given the option, would I want to time-travel back? Not on your life.

This post originally appeared in slightly different form on Marvin Wilson’s blog on November 20, 2009.  For more about my experiences in the 1960’s, click on the Woodstock category in my blogroll at the right. 

 © Julie Lomoe 2010