Saturday, July 22, 2006

I Was Somewhere Over the Rainbow...

Ok, (drum roll please), not to diss my wonderful sister and Blogger pal Sue, but the REAL reason I traveled 10,000 miles was to attend the:

Rufus Wainwright has a mystical connection to the late, great Judy Garland. On June 14 and 15 he wowed his beloved fans at Carnegie Hall (yes, the majority of them well- off gay men) and sang the entire “Judy Garland Comeback Performance” – the same performance she gave at Carnegie Hall in April of 1961.

Before the show I spotted Antony of Antony and the Johnsons and an old MTV VJ…I forget his name. I ran to the ladies’ room and did a little jig, realizing that the best thing about going to a Rufus concert at Carnegie Hall is: NO LINE IN THE LADIES ROOM! Woo hoo. (Ok the same can be said for a Who show, really).

I had nosebleed seats when my heart really wanted to be closer, but I treated my sister (ok dragged her,kinda) so I had to buy two tix.
Still, I was thankful to be at such a momentous spectacle, and even happier not to be alone, as I often am when I attend Rufus’ shows!
I was very very happy, as you can see (Jen took this pic w/her cell phone so, the resonance isn’t so hot).

I was tearing up during the intro/overture, pinching myself to make sure it wasn't a dream. And OMG what an orchestra! The sound...mwah. It was heavenly, and that was without Rufus!
Then on he walked and sang "When You're Smiling" and really truly, his voice has never sounded better. Big, velvety, it filled the entire hall, I kept picturing it emanating like a globe - it reached the ceiling. Global, think global. (ok I guess I got that off a bumper sticker).
I thought my heart would burst, I really did. Yeah that sounds over the top, but I was in this blissful state that is very hard for me to describe. At one point in the show, I realized that I forgot where I was (as in Carnegie Hall, NYC, USA, earth).Talk about a Zen experience. It was transcendent, maybe like having a religious experience. I don't know how anyone could have left there not believing in God, because I felt like he was channeling the Divine. I'm not exaggerating.
He even stopped a few numbers because they were too slow. I love that he has the guts to do that and why not? Do it right, right?? He's a perfectionist but I'm glad he is!

Rufus sashayed, shook his booty and even threw in a few knee slides (being a true Divo/Drama Queen, naturally). He even wore a top hat at the beginning of the second half:

Some funny highlights: Rufus introduced his mom, folk singer Kate McGarrigle, and she walked onstage, clad in a gold lame (Elvis-like) suit carrying a banjo. Rufus detests the banjo…and he deadpans: “Deliver us from Deliverance.” She was joking, of course:

Kate accompanied Rufus to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” which he sang while sitting on the edge of the stage. It was beautiful, of course:

The encores were a real treat, and Kate returned to accompany Rufus on piano again, and for one song (I forget which one) he said, “Mom! I need more of an introduction that THAT” and then, not missing a beat, she said,” Oh, do you want the Philip Glass version?” hee hee!

Another funny moment was when Rufus returned for an encore ("Get Happy") wearing a Fedora.
After the song, Kate said: "Ah, Rufus, you're supposed to be Judy in that hat, right?"
Rufus: "Yeah..."
Kate: "Oh. I was thinking it was more Michael Jackson."

Rufus’ sister Martha returned for her encore and Rufus embarrassed her by acting like a 5 year old: “Hey sis, it’s like we have our own Judy TV show for Mom! Which song should we play for her?!” Martha covered her face with her hands. I don’t think she was acting! When she had finished one song (she sang a total of 2 encores), Rufus hopped off his stool and said, “Ok! My turn! (Yeah you REALLY have to be a Rufus freakazoid to get all this. Laura, you understand, RIGHT???)
Rufus loves his dear sister Martha:

Of course I love Rufus to death, but can I just say that, besides my two favorite songs If Love Were All and Alone Together, Martha was a major highlight. OMG- her voice, delivery, emotion, heart - I just can't find the words. I think Martha could easily pull off a concert of standards, and I wish she would. Of course she can't do "the Judy Comeback" again, but honestly, her voice and her unique style are made for the interpretation of standards. I love her own songs, but she really shines when she sings songs like Stormy Weather and Someone to Watch Over Me (she performed both that night). The most important aspect of singing is to make the audience believe that you are feeling every word that you are singing, and in that respect, she is closer to Judy than Rufus, BUT I think she has an advantage being a woman. (!)
She never looked (or sounded) more beautiful:

I couldn't believe how quickly the concert went! I was counting the songs at the beginning, saying to myself, "aw, only 23 songs left..."

I was SO excited about meeting other Rufus Wainwright Message Board members. We were having cell phone problems, but miraculously,after the show I finally met Jody and her husband Joh from New Jersey. They are the sweetest, cutest couple on the planet. I hope I can meet up again with them (and drag my husband next time). I envy Jody because Joh likes Rufus as much as Jody. Lucky girl - and she knows it.
After the show we met some other board members (Yasmin, Emilie, Cindy and Jennifer). Rufus has the BEST FANS on the planet. Really wonderful people. (Well, besides Rachel Fuller, of course).
Jody, Joh, Jennifer and her sister along with myself and my sister were waiting by the stage door for awhile after the show. When Rufus didn't surface, that was our cue to head for the intuition told me that after a drink, he'd appear, so we went back and sure enough he did. My sister is pretty clever and figured out which door he'd come out of (not the main one but one to the side) so we were far from the crowd but close to him!
He signed my beautiful poster, but there was no time to get a word in edge wise. My poor little tiny sister got swept up by the mob that attacked him from the other door (within seconds). It was a little scary for her!

I felt badly because I had been chatting with Rufus’ cousin, Lily Lankin (daughter of Anna McGarrigle), and then Rufus appeared and in a microsecond I was like, poof, right there with my poster in his face! (not really but you know what I mean). After he signed my poster I did go back and apologized to her - she's so sweet I'm sure she understood! She even asked my name and shook my hand. Then I saw her dad, Dane Lankin who was standing next to her, and he introduced himself and shook my hand! They're the nicest people. What a family.

It must be kismet (?) that I waited so long to post this, because a few days back, Jody sent me a picture of all of us that appeared in a Sunday supplement to the Uk newspaper, The Guardian called Observer Music Monthly. It’s a picture of Rufus SIGNING MY POSTER!


Me (again!) :

And Jody (in the black cap, holding her camera):

Jen and I before Hurricane Rufus:

Joh got some great shots of Rufus:


(Please note that photos used here were posted on the message board. Many thanks to those who posted them).

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Stalk, Shop and Drop, Part 2

On Wednesday, Jen was kind enough to accompany me to NBC Studios, where we waited (in vain, ultimately) for Late Night w/Conan O'Brien (stand-by) tickets. It was fun waiting in line and chatting with other Coney freaks. I met two girls from Calgary and found out that the young man behind us was from Finland. I told him he should get priority and move to the front of the line [Conan fans will understand the Finland-Conan connection - there's a running joke that he resembles the (female) Finnish president - hee hee].
After getting my stand by ticket (place holder actually) we were told to return to the studio later that afternoon where we would stand in ANOTHER line and see whether we would get an actual ticket. So all day long, the suspense was killing me!!
Jen went to work and left me at the studio - where I saw that The Today Show was being filmed outside of Rockefeller Plaza. I thought that would be kind of interesting, so I mosied over and caught the very end of a "Makeover your Dad" segment for Father's Day. The dad looked very handsome indeed - they did a nice job.
It's amazing what people in the audience will do to make sure they get noticed on this show. I got a charge out of these lovely ladies:

I was supposed to meet my Blogger buddy, Sue (the OTHER Sue), the one and only LZYGRL at around 10:30 or so. She was running late, so I hung out for a very long time in front of Matt Lauer and Ann Currie. You can see their profiles here (I know you're all excited about seeing these behind -the -scene photos!).

It was fun chatting with the rabid (!) Today Show fans. A few of them gave me sad, befuddled looks when I had to ask the co-host's name (I knew her face but not her name). "Oh," one woman said with a concerned look, "you're not a regular Today Show viewer?" Ahhhhhh nope. Sorry!
President Bush interrupted that day with a surprise news conference. Yeah big surprise - I think it's his second in 6 years maybe? Anyway, you may have noticed how Matt Lauer has that "intense" look on his face - he was taking copious notes - only to read 3 lines later written by Lord knows who off the teleprompter before he sped by us and ran into the building. (He probably had to use the loo). :)
Anyway, while the audience watched, ah NOTHING, I continued getting to know the hard core fans around me. Al Roker (the weatherman) came by to meet the fans and sign autographs. (!) Ok....
The real highlight of the morning was when a dragonfly came and sat on this shoulder for about 10 minutes. I really liked this woman, and so did the dragonfly, apparently!

The camera skimmed the crowd a few times. I hid, while others were calling their loved ones on their cells, frantically telling them to turn on their tvs- quick!!

I had had quite enough of the Today Show, so I walked across the street and hung out AGAIN at St. Pat's!! No, I didn't pray for Conan tix, maybe I should have. I'm actually not that pious, but it's "safer" than shopping...I was in hyperspending mode (not only on myself though!). I was just trying to make good use of my time waiting for Sue!
While waiting for Sue, I took this picture outside of Saks. I think the clothing is designed by one of the Rolling Stones. Their autographs were scribbled all over this suit.

Sue arrived and probably walked right by me at first. I forgot that we were supposed to meet by the handbags. I was really honored that she drove 45 minutes into town to meet me. I felt very special! She was so much fun and very sweet to buy me lunch! We talked non stop,and she regaled me with lots of juicy stories...dancing in the dark with Bruce Springsteen kind of tales, and of course my tongue was hanging! Not really. But she IS a Jersey girl, so yeah, she hung out at the same bar as Bruce, back in the Born in the USA days. Wow. We had a lot in common, I think! It was really wonderful to meet someone who understands my Pete/Who/Rachel/blogging obsession. She's a very smart, funny,generous and compassionate soul. And she's a gorgeous rock and roll mama, as you can see!

The Sues

Sue had to leave soon - boo hoo. Maybe it's better that we didn't get to shop together after all as originally planned. I was hankering to get to a museum, so she helped me get directions to the Museum of Modern Art. We bid our farewells, then I went for a quick visit to the museum. Oh my goodness, I just went gaga. I had NO idea about the magnitude of the art there. But DUH- it is NEW YORK after all!
Here's a few of the many pics I took, to remember my brief visit. I can't wait to take Anjoli there someday. She'll go nuts.



Van Gogh



A lovely view

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Stalk, Shop and Drop, Part One

A few weeks back I had the great fortune of taking a much needed vacation to my homeland. [Yes I'm being sarcastic. I AM a professional world traveler!].
My favorite sister, Jen (ok my ONLY sister) lives in New York City - Forest Hills, Queens to be specific. Lovely area. It reminds be of Brookline, MA.
I had a great visit, and it was really fun spending time with Jen, even though I drove her INSANE...but that's what big sisters are for, right???
The first night we ate delish Thai food. Yes , New York, New York IS a HELL of a town when you can get an amazing Thai meal delivered to your door!
The next day we lounged a bit and shopped around Jen's neighborhood. I bought a cute little teeny tiny silk paisley Guess purse with these cool aquamarine jewels that hang on them. [I know this is boring, but there'll be more on this later!].
Saturday evening we hit town and took in a Broadway play (my first). We saw Ralph Fiennes (gulp), Cherry Jones and Ian McDiarmid in Faith Healer. Jen got incredible seats - front row, center mezzanine, and the theater was very small. I can't tell you how awesome the actors' performances were.Needless to say, I have a major schoolgirl crush on Mr. Fiennes. Little problem for Sue though: the play consisted of 4 monologues - it was quite heavy. I was severely jet-lagged (NYC is 12 hours behind Taipei), so I ended up DOZING here and there. I was so mad - I tried so hard to concentrate, but the harder I tried, the sleepier I got! So sad. I will definately get my hands on the play and find out what I missed! The cool thing was, the next night, Ian McDiarmid won a Tony for his role. Pretty cool. He has appeared in many of the latest Star Wars movies. He did give a very funny, heartfelt performance.
I made my sister wait with me by the stage door after the play (see I told you I drove her crazy) so I could catch a glimpse of Ralph Fiennes. He came out after about 15 minutes. He's much smaller than he appeared on stage. Very casual in khakis and so cute with his black North Face backpack. He was very gracious about signing autographs, smiling the entire time. I couldn't believe this one woman - she had the nerve to whip out this huge 35 mm with a megaflash and she took a shot of him when he was about an inch away from the camera. Oh that will come out great. Nice pic of Valdemort for ya, sweetie.
(Anjoli was SO upset with me for not getting his autograph, but I was feeling shy and voyeuristic. It's not stalking, it's WATCHING!!). Yeah all of you who know me can laugh - I know I'm not normally shy about autographs. For some reason, it just felt really silly!

Ralph Fiennes looking scruffy in Faith Healer

Jen and I were about to head home when I realized that I left my teeny tiny purse (with my cash, AMEX card and subway pass) hanging on the hook behind a bathroom stall in the ladies room. Thank GOD there was a security guard, hanging out, waiting for his ride in front of the theater, which was locked, and all the lights were out. He showed us how to get in and we buzzed security. A guard led us down to the ladies lounge (so posh!) and PHEW my purse was still there!!
My angels work overtime, I swear...they were rolling their eyes that night. You wouldn't believe how many times I have lost and recovered wallets and purses! :)
Anyway, the security guard told me to tell my friends at home what an AWESOME city NYC is!!! And there ya go.
Sunday Jen and I took the train to Long Beach on Long Island. It was great to go to the beach after so long, a little strange to see the high rises along the shore...and the wind was blowing at about 20 mph - so that was a bit annoying. I did get some much needed sun though. Jen and I grabbed some good Cuban grub for lunch at a cute little place called AY CARUMBA!!!!!!!! Yum.
Jen works in mid-town Manhattan - off of 5th Avenue, so on Monday I went into town with her. Jen gave me a week long pass to her swanky gym, which is right next to Grand Central station. I had a long, leisurely 2 hour workout and I was so happy to watch the World Cup while working out on the elliptical trainer.
Then after my workout I had an incredibly awesome custom made salad in the gym's cafe and watched the US lose (sniff sniff) to Czech Republic. So sad about US.
I went to Jen's office after lunch and she introduced me to her co-workers. I think we confused them a bit though! You see, Jen is adopted - she was born in Korea (she became an Italian/Irishwoman when she was 18 months!). People looked REALLY confused when she introduced me as "her sister who is visiting from Taipei." hee hee.
I spent the rest of the day shopping (mostly window) and praying (!) at St. Patrick's Cathedral. I love that place - first time I've set foot in a church in a few years. :)
On Tuesday I stayed in at Jen's apartment and rested. I had to watch the first installment of In the Attic - On the Road, of course! It was the first webcast from their Airstream. I got a perfect feed - even chatted with other bloggers in Molly's chatroom.
Jen's cat, Vashi caught the webcast too. She's totally hooked now, as you can see:

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Thank you, Alice in Wonderland and Thomas the Train!!

(Note: There's a new post before this one, FYI!!).

This post is dedicated to our dear friends:


And his wonder of a wife, Alice:

Words could never convey our thanks for all you have done for us here in Taipei. Your kindness, warmth and generosity could fill a fleet of Magic Buses!
You are truly special people.
We love you both dearly!

~Susan, Sujoy and Anjoli xx

Monday, July 03, 2006

Stormy Weather

Ah, but it's still paradise, so why complain?
We finally made it to a very soggy Hualien.
We had lunch at a restaurant which overlooked the ocean, then visited a fish processing museum! Needless to say, it wasn't the highlight of the trip! Oh well.
We couldn't do much due to the rain - it's a sleepy beach we slept!
The morning after reaching Hualien, we bid farewell to Chris and Lyn who took a short flight back to Taipei later that day, en route to San Diego.
We had a blast, but we look a bit tuckered out as you can see:

The rest of us got back on the Magic Bus and headed for Taipei. But we HAD to make one short visit to the ocean.

Let me flow into the ocean,
Let me get back to the sea.
Let me be stormy and let me be calm,
Let the tide in, and set me free. ~PT