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Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Honky Tonk Meets Hell's Kitchen

Which is exactly the way Laura Bell Bundy described the last of her three scheduled Birdland appearances this summer, part of Birdland's continuing Monday night Broadway at Birdland series. Since Monday night is dark at most of the Broadway theatres, it is a chance for the musical stars and lesser lights to strut their individual stuff at NY's landmark jazz club on West 44th. I had never made it for a Monday night before, and never heard of the evening's performer, but by chance, I had the opportunity last night, and found myself at a little table for the 7PM show featuring Ms. Bundy, currently starring on Broadway in the lead role of the musical adaption of Legally Blonde.

Most of the songs Bundy sang were from her new solo CD, Looking For a Place Already Gone. I can take or leave country, and it's a bit incongruous to put a pert young blond (don't take my word for it - visit her official website at http://www.laurabellbundyfanclub.com/LauraBellBundy.com/index.html)
in front of a seven piece band of pickers at Birdland (or as Bundy mused, imagine what Charlie Parker would have thought of the idea) but I must say that I really liked many of the songs (all but one written by Bundy) and thoroughly enjoyed the show, as did the near capacity audience. If you know Birdland, it's a big room for a jazz club, so on Monday night, at $25 plus a minimum per head, that's saying something!

So if that's the quality of performance that's typical of Monday night at Birdland, I guess I've got another good alternative each week.

Also, at Birdland in September, the third week's regular jazz headline show will be a tribute to John Coltrane, featuring the always exciting sax of Joe Lovano. The last week of September, the headliner will be world class jazz guitarist Pat Martino, making the commute up the turnpike from Philadelphia. An absolute must see. Jazz headliners generally appear for a Wednesday through Saturday night stay.

I loved the op ed piece in the WSJ by Joyce Lee Malcolm of the George Mason University School of Law called "Wonderfully Spared" that appeared back on July 3rd. Here are a few excerpts:

"You and I have been wonderfully spared," Thomas Jefferson wrote John Adams in 1812. "Of the signers of the Declaration of Independence I see now living not more than half a dozen on your side of the Potomak and, on this side, myself alone." Jefferson and Adams were not merely signers of the Declaration. Both sat on the committee that drafted the document, and Jefferson wrote it. And while they later became bitter political opponents, they reconciled in their later years...

They would never see each other again. But from a modest farm in Quincy, Mass., and a plantation in Virginia they corresponded and reminisced about the days when they were "fellow laborers in the same cause, struggling for what is most valuable to man, his right of self-government."

It's easy now in a nation awash with complaints about what our Founders did not do, what imperfect humans they seem to 21st century eyes, to overlook how startingly bold their views and actions were in their own day and are, in fact, even today. Who else in 1776 declared...that all men were created equal, entitled to inalienable rights, or to any rights at all? How few declare these views today..?

Certainly not America's 20th century enemies, the Nazis and communists; certainly not today's Islamic radicals...We are fortunate that the Founders of our nation were enlightened, generous, jealous of their rights and those of their countrymen, and prepared to risk everything to create a free republic...

But if we were angry at British treatment, we were also lucky that Britain was our mother country. The British taught us respect for the rights of individuals, for limited government, for the rule of law and how such values could be realized...We were lucky in our generals. Unlike the commanders of nearly all revolutionary armies before and since, George Washington resisted the temptation to seize power... Washington prevented a coup by his officers and when the war was over, he bid a moving farewell to his men and staff before appearing before Congress to resign his commission...

In their correspondence, Adams wrote Jefferson that the future would "depend on the Union" and asked how that Union was to be preserved...He was right to worry. The Union has always been difficult, from the first fears that the 13 separate states would behave as competing countries or bickering groups, through a brutal civil war whose wounds have yet to entirely heal, to a vast, modern land whose residents, taking for granted the blessings bestowed upon them, are deeply divided and quick to vilify each other.

In 1825 Jefferson wrote to congratulate Adams on the election of his son John Quincy to the presidency - an election so close it was decided in the House of Representatives. "So deeply are the principles of order, and of obedience to law impressed on the minds of our citizens generally that I am persuaded there will be as immediate an acquiescence in the will of the majority," Jefferson assured him, "as if Mr. Adams had been the choice of every man..."

On July 4 the following year, as the nation celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, its two frail signers died within hours of each other. Their cause, "struggling for what is most valuable to man, his right of self-government," continues in the nation they launched, still fraught with aspirations and anxieties, flaws and divisions but, one hopes, with the ability to reconcile as they did, to work together for the joint venture.

Professor Malcolm, thanks for the timely reminder.

On 8/15 I bought 100 shares of American Dental Partners (ADPI) at 22.48. Monday, I bought 200 shares of Thompkins (TKS) a little foreign diversification of mine, at 17.95.

You're invited back to Birdland any time! So glad you enjoyed Laura Bell's show!
Jim Caruso
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