Poster from the Fillmore circa 1966
On Sunday we were invited to the Geary Theatre in downtown San Francisco to see A Night With Janis Joplin. Had it been any other play we probably would have said no. You see, over a million people were expected to descend on downtown San Francisco on that same day for one of the largest Pride Parades in the world. If you’ve ever been to downtown SF you know it’s a densely populated area, particularly down Market Street (the parade route). An extra million people during the middle of the day would definitely impact our ability to get to the theater, even on mass transit. But Janis Joplin is San Francisco. And so we went.
We arose from the bowels of the Powell Street station into the heart of the parade which we were unable to see but heard. It was so disorienting to be in the churn of revelers that I had to pause and check the iPhone to get our bearings. But finally we shuffled through the glitter, the rainbow balloons and the confetti and made to our destination.
The “play” got off to a raucous start with the actress playing Joplin belting out Piece of My Heart with such ferocity that I began to wonder how the poor gal was going to make it through the next 90 minutes without doing irreparable damage her throat. But luckily the playwright had a plan. “Joplin” pauses every now and then to tell her audience about her life and each of the jazz and blues legends who inspired her, then summons their ghosts to take over the stage while she rests her vocal chords. Later she returns to demonstrate how she took their songs and interpreted them for the rock genre. One of the songs was Summertime from Porgy and Bess.
Here’s Joplin’s interpretation:
Another was Odetta’s Down on Me, an old Spiritual or Freedom Song:
For this song, Joplin actually changed the lyrics, deleting the Bible references.
Our friends were split as to which versions they preferred but I loved them all. Books can inspire movies, plays and even other books but in the end they always belong to the writer, whereas a song always belongs to the heart of a singer.
Do you have favorite interpretations of songs that veer wildly from first renditions? If so, I’d love to hear about them. It’s kind of an obsession of mine.
Options, options, too many options!
I haven’t been blogging much recently for a couple of reasons. First, I’ve been trying to figure out how to self-publish using Createspace. Or perhaps that should be, how NOT to self-publish using Createspace. Sheesh. Right now I’m at a loggerheads involving pricing and distribution and waiting for a callback from their support staff, so, why not skip on over and join Norm Frampton’s weekly doors event I thought!
The second reason for not keeping up my blogging schedule is, I’ve been down in San Diego helping take care of a two month old baby, my grandson. He lives with his family across the street from a state-run campground with a Five Star view. And how could it not? It’s literally perched on a cliff above the Pacific Ocean. Below is a pebbly beach which almost disappears at high tide.
Although it’s location and view are Five Star, the camp is quite equalitarian. You’ll find million dollar, high tech Winnebagos sitting next to folks with just a tent and camp stove. I didn’t take any pictures (sorry Norm), because I figure people don’t go to campsites to be featured on #ThursdayDoors. However I did take photos of the stage (above) where camp rangers give presentations on ecology during the day and movies are shown at night. They have doors of a sort but I have no idea what’s beyond them.
And lest you wonder where the heck the real doors are – drum roll please – I present the camp store.
A place where you can purchase items you’ve forgotten such as toothpaste and aspirin.
After a long day of changing poopie diapers, getting spit up on, and making endless bottles, what better way to relax than watching the sun go down on a pebbly beach. Have a lovely weekend everyone. It’s supposed to be hot, hot, hot here. Rats!
Doors leading to the outdoor sculpture garden.
This week for ThursdayDoors I cheated bigly. I hopped on BART and took a ride to downtown San Francisco, where if you can’t find an interesting door to snap, there’s absolutely no hope for you. However the purpose of my trip was not to take pictures but to see the Matisse/Diebenkorn exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art.
For those who don’t know San Francisco, the MOMA is about three blocks south of Market Street which is about as close to a main drag as you’ll find in the City. Above is the Lotta Crabtree Fountain where every year on April 18th the survivors of the 1906 Earthquake and Fire are honored.
There are a many fine old doors in this area but to get good photos of them you’d have to have a death wish. Traffic is ridiculous. Above is the Hearst building which maintained its original doors although the building has obviously been modernized.
Next to the MOMA are the Yerba Buena gardens “the cultural center of San Francisco.” Many of the gardens and restaurants in this two block complex are actually on the guarded second level and thus free of the homeless population known to panhandle in this area.
The Martin Luther King Memorial on a gray day. I like the solemnity of this memorial more that the rather grandiose one in Washington DC..
Across the street from the gardens is St. Patrick Cathedral originally built in 1851. Although it’s dwarfed by the other buildings and hotels in the South of Market or SOMA area, it remains as they say “an island of calm and tranquility amidst chaos.”
And they do have a lovely door. Hop on over to Norm Frampton’s Thursday Doors event to see other doors from around the world.
Oh – the exhibit was great. If it comes to your town, do try to see it.