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Today in My History

2000:  Through Different Eyes
2001:  Another Opening, the Same Old Show
2002:  Been There, Done That
2003:  Is the Customer Always Wrong?
2004:  Unsafe at Any Speed
2005:  Michelangelo

2006: This Little Piggie Went to Market
2007:  Happy Birthday to You...and You...and...
2008:  Not Cataracts
2009:  Childbirth
  They Might Be Giants

2011:  "I'm Bored"
2012: Vote for My Guy
The Sporting Apocalypse

2014: Home for Thanksgiving
2015  OMG
2016: "Service"
 Saturday 9
Sunday Stealing

Theater Reviews
Updated 10/5
The Humans
Stepping Out

Books Read in 2019
 Updated 9/20
"Elizabeth and Barbara"

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updated 7/16

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28 October 2019

I was Brianna's age when I fell in love with Judy Garland.

My friend Gayle and I used to go to the movies together every week end, and this particular week end in 1954 for some reason I didn't go.  She saw A Star Is Born and was so taken with it that she told me the entire story as we walked to school.  I wanted to see the movie and must have gone the following weekend.

It was the movie that hooked me.  I don't remember how many times I watched it then, but over the past sixty years, I have probably seen it 100 times or more.  I've seen it on the big screen, on TV, on DVD and even parts of it on my cell phone.  There was a time when I was taking evening classes and came home by cable car.  Right across from the cable car was a little theater that charged 50 cents for admission.  it ran A Star Is Born frequently, but by the time I got to the cable car, it was just the last 20-30 minutes of the movie, but I saw it every time I could.

When they discovered discarded segments of the movie and re-created it the way it was originally made before it got shortened for time purposes (which many feel cost Judy Garland an Oscar), there was a big opening at a theater in Oakland, which we went to--and I sat right behind James Mason to watch it.

People often give me stuff about The Wizard of Oz, which I like, but truly it was not the child Garland that got me, it was the adult Garland.  Her final movie, I Could Go on Singing got me as much as A Star Is Born had.

But I even enjoyed her in her oscar-nominated small drama role in Judgment at Nuremburg.

In 1956, she brought a concert to San Francisco.  It played the opera house for a week.  I saved money and was able to afford to go three times.

It was not a one-woman show, but she had comedian Alan King to open for her.  I was thrilled to actually see her in person and I remember calling my mother after the first show and telling her "she's still fat, but she wasn't drunk at all."  Interesting what I was excited about!

I started keeping a scrapbook sometime during all of this and ultimately I filled eight big binders of photos, articles, and I even transcribed the entire script of The Wizard of Oz.  I don't know why.  Many years later when I realized I didn't really want the material any more I couldn't bring myself to throw it away, so I contacted the Judy Garland fan club in London and they were thrilled that I wanted to give it to them.  It cost me $50 to mail it and I was very pleased when they wrote back and told me how much they loved it--and reimbursed me for the cost of the mail, which I never asked them to do.

I came across this photo this morning looking for photos to use in this entry and remember clearly that it was from a movie magazine with an article that was titled "Always on the Edge of a Scream."

Her famous Carnegie Hall concert was in 1961 and she traveled around the country with it, San Francisco being one of the stops.  A group of Garland fans and I sat in the lobby of the Fairmont Hotel for a day waiting for her to arrive, but she never did.  Most of them had to go to work the next day, but one woman and I did not so we both went back to the lobby a second day and were there when she checked in.  I was able to take a photo of her (which I have been looking for for years) and got her autograph.  We were also still there when she left  the hotel, unsatisfied with her room.  She waved at us as she went out to her cab.

We then went to the concert itself.  I think I was in about the 8th row of the huge hall where it was held.  It was fabulous and, shy me who wouldn't do ANYTHING like this, was compelled to join the group that raced to the edge of the stage to shake her hand at the end.

I remember her hand being very cold.

I have just about every book about Judy Garland written up to about 10 years ago, when I stopped buying them.  I read them all and figured I knew most of the history of Judy Garland.  But I read something about a fairly new book, "Get Happy," which I had not heard of, so I ordered it.

I'll tell ya, I am about halfway through the book and I would say that about 80% of what I am reading is new stuff for me.  I didn't realize, for example, that it was her mother who got her onto pills to perform from the time she was very young, maybe 4 or 5.  MGM just made it worse.  At the time nobody knew what danger uppers and downers were and by the time they did, she was hooked for good.  Anyway, the book is riveting.

I have not seen the movie Judy yet.  I will, but it has just come to Davis this week.  My friend Michael, who is also a Judy Garland fanatic, says it's worth seeing. (Michael and I went to a Judy Garland exhibit at a museum in Los Angeles before watcing daughter Lorna Luft do a concert of her mother's music).  I am not a big fan of Judy impersonators because they aren't the real thing, but the movie is getting so much press, I am curious.

Jeri saw the movie and wondered why they made it since it didn't paint her in a very favorable light.  It's hard to explain to someone who is not a fanatic what it is about Judy Garland that gets us.

This week I also saw a Netflix documentary, Sid and Judy, a lot of which was taken from the material in her ex-husband Sid Luft's book.  It's a painful movie to watch because some of it is recordings of Judy herself, when she decided to dictate her autobiography.  She is obviously drugged and very angry.  But as I watched, I found  the same feelings churning inside that were there back in 1954 when I first saw A Star Is Born.

There never was a time when I was not aware of her many problems with drugs and alcohol and read many articles like "Always on the Edge of a Scream," but when you hear that voice and you crawl into it with all of the pain and vulnerability that it contains you just forgive everything else.  I remember when I was working in Berkeley, I would come home from work, put on the Carnegie Hall album and lie down next to the speaker and play "Stormy Weather" at full volume.

I would never have wanted to actually be around Judy Garland because I'm sure she was a very difficult person, but the voice still gets me today.

And it's very difficult to explain that to someone like Jeri.  Or most other people!



Carnegie Halls

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