New Music Friday: Juice by Lizzo

This song isn’t exactly new. The single has been out for awhile, but Lizzo’s new album comes out today. “Juice” is my favorite song from it so I’m going with it. Lizzo is someone who like Beyonce I completely understand why everyone is so over the moon about but who is just not quite for me. Intellectually I understand the appeal, but the music just does not reach into my heart and soul like other music does. I do really like “Juice” though. It’s got such a fun vibe. Plus as an 80s baby I’m a sucker for the 80s video. It’s the perfect song to get you grooving into your weekend.

New Music Friday: Pearl Cadillac by Gary Clarke, Jr.

I’m away at a conference, so I don’t have much time to write today but I didn’t want to leave you musicless. Plus, I’m in Cleveland home of the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame so I feel like I need to offer you up a little more rock-like music than I often do. I don’t love Gary Clarke, Jr. on the whole, but I have definitely been digging his new song “Pearl Cadillac” over the past couple of months. As far as I can tell from the lyrics it’s a love song to his mother. Enjoy!

The Bold Type is Still the Best Show You’re Not Watching

I’ve written about my love of the television show The Bold Type before. It returned on Freeform last night for its third season. It’s a miracle it’s gotten this far. I’m pretty sure I am the only one in America watching this show. I never hear anyone else talk about it, and I know it barely came back after the first season because its ratings weren’t great. Somehow after months and months of waiting to hear whether it would be renewed Freeform announced it would be back with new show runners for two more seasons. This is the second of those two seasons, so I’m fully prepared for this to be the final season of the show. I’m still going to be very sad when it’s gone though.

I still adore the show for all the same reasons I’ve said in the past. I love the friendship between the three leads. I also love that their boss is a mentor and not the stereotypical tv/movie Devil Wears Prada type fashion magazine boss. Their relationships are fun, and the show confronts real issues. Last year it started to lean a little too far into PSA territory, but so far this season seems to be a little less heavy handed. The stories of course are not all that realistic because it’s tv, but I really enjoy spending an hour with these characters every week.

I don’t have Hulu, but according to Google that’s where the first two seasons of this show are streaming. I highly recommend watching them and then getting on this third season. I promise that if you like character dramas The Bold Type is the best show you’re not watching.

NYC Trip Day 3

For my final day in NYC I decided to finally go to the Tenement Museum, which has been on my list of things to do for a very long time. I’ve never made it before because everything is a timed tour, which always made me feel anxious about fitting it in around whatever else I might have planned during a trip. Since I had no other plans for Thursday and the weather was decent I decided it was finally time.

The Tenement Museum owns two old buildings on Orchard Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, which has been home to many different groups of immigrants including Germans, Eastern European Jews, and more recently Chinese and Salvadorans and Colombians. They bought the building in the late 80s after it had been sitting vacant for decades. They restored most of the apartments to recreate what they would have been like for specific families that lived there during various times. They did a lot of research to find out about the lives of the people who lived there and you learn about their lives on the apartment tours.

I wanted the weather to be nice because I wanted to do both a walking tour and one of the apartment tours. There are a number of tours to choose from, so I will definitely have to go back again the future to do some of the other ones. It is a fairly expensive proposition though. Each tour is $30, though you do get a 40% discount on one of your tours if you combine a walking tour and an apartment tour.

I did the Outside the Home walking tour and the Sweatshop Workers apartment tour. The Outside the Home tour was great. We walked around the neighborhood and learned about how it had changed and looked at some very specific buildings that were built during specific times to learn about how people lived, shopped, and worked. It was really interesting and our tour guide was wonderful.

I unfortunately did not think the tour guide for the apartment tour was nearly as good. I suspect the quality of the tours depends both on your guide and the group of people you are with. I enjoyed the walking tour way more the apartment tour and I suspect the different guide and different participants had something to do with it. My apartment tour looked the apartments of a couple of different families who ran small sweatshops sewing garments in their houses. It was really fascinating to learn about the families and think about how so many people lived in such a small space made even smaller by running a business out of it.

I would definitely recommend the Tenement Museum if you have the time and money. I definitely look forward to doing some of the other tours in the future.

Here’s some photos of a few of the buildings we talked about on the walking tour. You’re not allowed to take photos inside the apartments, so I don’t have any pictures of those. The one that has ABC on the front of it was the old Loew’s Canal Street Theatre. Apparently the old theatre, which seats over 2,500 people is still back there in disrepair and the Loew’s corporation still owns the building. Our tour guide showed us a picture of the inside. It would be an awesome space if someone fixed it up.

I had a little bit of time to kill after my tour before I had to head to Penn Station to pick up my train. I had to go back downtown to the hotel to pick up my bag, so I just wandered around a little bit and wound up at Pier 17, which is the whole huge new development of restaurants and shops that are still being built. Gentrification central for sure. They do have some nice benches and chairs built on the water though, so I sat and enjoyed the beautiful sun on my face and watched the ships go by for awhile. I’m pretty sure I’m powered by the sun and the water, so this was a very rejuvenating end to my trip.

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NYC Trip Day 2

My second day of this trip was my theatre day. Usually when I go up to NYC there are very specific shows that I want to see on Broadway. They are often the reason I’m traveling up there in the first place. Unfortunately Broadway has been full of jukebox musicals and musicals based on movies that I am just not interested in. Since there wasn’t anything I was dying to see I figured I would just get tickets for whatever I could get at the TKTS booth. I did figure out what my top choices were though and hoped that I could get tickets to them, which I did.

My top choice for the whole trip was to see The Ferryman. My friend Jenn who lives in the city is a TDF member and managed to snag me a cheap seat to the matinee. I wanted to do this show as the matinee because it’s 3 hours and 15 minutes. There are essentially three 1 hour acts with a 15 minute intermission between the first two acts and a three minute pause between the second two acts. I didn’t know a whole lot about the show going in other than it is about an Irish family. It takes place during the 1981 during “the troubles” when the actions of some family members a decade before come back to haunt them all. It is a sprawling cast of kids through seniors. Parts are very joyous and parts are super intense, especially the ending. I can’t imagine having to perform this show 8 times a week both to the length and the emotional toll I imagine it must take on the actors. I very much enjoyed it though and the three hours went by very quickly. It’s closing in July, but if you’re looking for a show to see in New York and are open to plays I would recommend it.

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Between shows I met up for a quick dinner with my friend Jenn, who I hadn’t seen for pretty much exactly a year which I know because Facebook started popping up memories of my trip to New York last April when I went up to see Brandi Carlile in concert and to see Children of a Lesser God and stayed with her. Since we were meeting up after she got off work and we both had tickets to separate shows at 8 pm, we met up the Turnstyle which is a food hall/shopping place built inside the Columbus Circle subway station. It was conveniently equidistant from our theatres and made it so we weren’t stressing about getting in and out of a sit-down restaurant. I had some very tasty plantain tacos from some taco place in there. I would definitely eat there again.

My evening show was My Fair Lady, which I wanted to see solely because Laura Benanti was playing Eliza Doolittle. I very carefully made sure that she was not scheduled to be out during this performance because otherwise I did not care. She was very good in the role, and it was a good production, but this show pretty firmly falls into the all your problematic faves category at this point. I couldn’t stop thinking about the recent Crazy Ex-Girlfriend episode where she discovers that all her favorite musicals are all very problematic when looked at through today’s lens. They did try and make it a little better by returning to the original ending of the play where Eliza walks away from Professor Higgins, which was changed in the musical. I thought it was a little awkward since they see the script all the way through and she comes back to him only to turn right around and walk away. I appreciate the sentiment though I guess because he is really terrible to Eliza throughout the whole show and never really, truly comes around.

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NYC Trip Day 1

My husband had to go up to NYC for work for a few days this past week. I needed to use up some vacation time, so I decided to make use of the free hotel room and join him. Since he had to be downtown for work we stayed down there in the Millennium Hilton, which is right across from the World Trade Center site. Our room had a fantastic view of the memorial.

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We took the train up on Tuesday morning. He headed into work and I wandered around the city. I didn’t want to spend a bunch of money to get into a museum, so I decided to go up to the main building of the New York Public Library to see the exhibits they had up. On my way up to the library I walked past Macy’s and saw that they had some flower show up called Journey to Paradisos, which involved elaborate flower displays with spaceships and aliens in their windows and all over inside the main level. The subject matter was kind of weird, but the flowers were pretty. I didn’t get any good shots of the window displays because the sun was at a bad angle and the reflections of the buildings in the glass blocked out was actually inside the windows.

It’s been over a decade since I last went inside the library. The last time I was there they had really cool exhibits on illuminated manuscripts and maps. The exhibits up this time were not nearly as elaborate. They had a Stonewall 50 exhibit celebrating LGBTQ rights and 50 years since the Stonewall riots. There was also a Walt Whitman exhibit that I didn’t spend a lot of time in because I don’t care that much about Walt Whitman and the space felt really crowded and claustrophobic so I just kind of wanted to get out of it.

I hadn’t originally planned to see a show on Tuesday night, but I had looked at what else was going on around the city and didn’t see anything that struck my fancy. I noticed that the new play Burn This starring Keri Russell and Adam Driver was in previews, so I convinced my husband we should go see it. It’s a revival of a 1987 play and is still set in the 80s here although for the most part it could have been set today. There are a few references and one scene that revolves around an answering machine that would have had to be changed, but other than that it could have happened in modern times. It did allow us to joke about Keri Russell only wanting to play 80s characters and my husband wondering if she just brought over her wardrobe from The Americans.

It’s a 4 character play with Keri Russell playing a woman whose roommate and dance partner was recently killed in a boating accident with his gay lover. The other characters played by David Furr and Brandon Uranowitz are her boyfriend and her other roommate and Adam Driver who plays the brother of the dead roommate who comes in and sort of upends all of their lives. Adam Driver is perfectly cast in this role. I can’t imagine anyone else in the part. There is some wonderful humor with him and articles of clothing. I’m really glad we decided to go see it on somewhat of a whim as I really enjoyed it.

I also really wish I could have someone associated with the show make me a playlist of all the songs used in and around it. To get you in the mood for the 80s setting of the show they had a fantastic playlist of 80s songs playing while you were waiting for the play to start. Then there were some really great music cues throughout the play itself. They really all felt perfectly placed and meaningful and not just let’s throw some 80s songs into this. I don’t really know anything about the original run of the play, so I would be curious to know about the music used back then. I’m hoping once the play is fully running that maybe some equally nerdy music person will create a playlist from it or if nothing else tell me what the song used as the main music cue at the beginning and end of the first act is because while I totally know the song I can’t for the life of me remember what the name of it is or who it’s by and I couldn’t pick out enough lyrics to even try and Google it and it’s driving me crazy. So you know, someone else go see it and tell me what that song is.

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New Music Friday: Beyond the Border by Bhi Bhiman

I’m cheating a little bit with this one calling it new because it’s really not. The song is from 2018. The full album it’s from didn’t come out until 2019, but even then it’s still a couple of months old at this point. It is however new to me and I’m guessing it will be new to most of you too, so I’m counting it. I discovered this song because Bhi Bhiman was a guest on the latest Switched on Pop podcast episode talking about his song “Beyond the Border” and the way he put out the album as a podcast. The album is full of songs about the political issues facing us today and the podcast apparently pairs the issues he sings about in each song with discussions with artists, activists, and policy makers. I haven’t had a chance to listen to it yet, but I certainly will be.

The song I’m talking about today is the “Beyond the Border”, which you may ascertain from the titles is about immigrants and refugees. I don’t really have much to say about the song that it doesn’t already say for itself. I find the chorus of the song to be incredibly profound.

“It’s like we’re an outbreak and they are the treatment.
They give us heartache and keep all the freedom.”

I look forward to digging into more songs on this album and the accompanying podcast.