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Tag: Frank Sinatra

Doubting Other People’s Princesses

Growing up as a teen in Central Jersey and then on into early adulthood, I had a curfew while I lived at home. My brother did not. The reason, as stated by my father, was because I was a girl. I am relating this in an emotionless way. No judgment here. But I want to look at it factually to make a point. Who was my father ostensibly protecting me from? I think I can safely say it wasn’t from women. Fast forward 35 years. Last month I offered to drive my mother to a wake an hour-plus from their home. My father, age 86, objected with this, “What happens if you break down?” My mother told him we’d call Triple A. I am well past the point where I want to change my father. He’s old school and set in his ways. But I wanted to help my mother here, so I calmly said, “I went to Paris, Italy and Germany by myself. I think I can navigate New Jersey.” He was a bit flustered, but he got my point. Again, who did he want to protect two women on the Jersey Turnpike from? Probably not predatory women. There are plenty of protective husbands, fathers, and brothers out there who think like my father. It’s their natural instinct to want to shield women they love from potential harm....

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This Nancy with the Laughing Face

As I handed my book, Why Sinatra Matters, to its author to sign in a Hoboken bookstore last week, he looked up at me, noting it was an original edition from 1998. “Is this for you?” asked Pete Hamill. “Yes,” I said. “What’s your name?” His pen was poised. “It’s Nancy … and I think you can guess why.” He looked at me again, this time with a smirk. “Because you have a laughing face?” I laughed as if to prove it. The truth is I’m named Nancy Ann after my two grandmothers, but my father likes to tell...

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Welcome to the Land of Opportunity

Melting pot, my ass. This is what I keep muttering as I’m mesmerized by The Italian Americans documentary on PBS recently. The story unfolding on my television is too familiar. The people working in sugar cane fields. The lynching. The ‘hot-headed’ label. The emerging ‘dark and criminal’ image. The attitude of ‘let them kill each other in their neighborhoods.’ The denigration of their names as part of the ‘other’ label. The horrible work conditions. The looking down upon how they worshipped their God and relegating that worship to basements. The labeling of a whole swath of them as ‘enemy...

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Jersey Girl’s Take on ‘Jersey Boys’

I saw the Jersey Boys movie  with my mother this week. I had seen the play with her and so when she said she “desperately” wanted to see it on the big screen, we made a date. On the way to the theater I played a Four Seasons CD and we sang along all the way there. “She-e-rry, Sherry baby …” “Oh, what a night, late December back in ’63 …” See, my life as an Italian-American who grew up in New Jersey is very much about this kind of connector. Be it Frank Sinatra or Frankie Valli (or...

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Humanizing Sinatra

“ALLLLLLLLLLLLLL or nothing at alllllllllllllllllllllll, half a love never appealed to me …” I’ve heard Frank Sinatra sing those lyrics by Jack Lawrence many, many, many times. But it wasn’t until a recent experience at One Day University that I began to understand what makes his sound unique from the standpoint of a music scholar and why his energy resonates with me so much. “He’s sitting on the consonants,” says Anna Harwell Celenza to an audience of nearly 350 in a hotel ballroom in Midtown Manhattan. This Georgetown professor is on a stage with a large screen behind her. And she’s...

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