SOME OF THE BEST
12 OCTOBER, 2000
Photo by Bob Gentry ©2001
A Thought for Today
Two things never to be sorry about: that which we cannot help and that which we can.
For those of you who missed the final matinee today of "Jerome Kern's Life Upon the Wicked
Stage", we recorded last night's performance for an original cast album that should be out in a couple of months. I'll keep you posted.
Bill Jackson has requested the repeat of a Flight Plan from October saying he particularly likes the advice I gave to Jay.
AN OLD FRIEND WRITES - - -
Dear Rod A little history if I may? Our paths crossed in the late 60's. At the time I was sharing a home with a friend in the Hollywood Hills - Beachwood Canyon. My friend was close with Babs Shoemaker (aka Mrs Willy Shoemaker) who, as you may recall, at the time was tight with Patty Duke Austin (they both resided in the same Doheny tower building). As a result, the four of us spent time together which is where and how I 'discovered' Rod McKuen.
You were working on the sound track for Me Natalie. At the time I was probably 26, with a great deal of growing still to do. Upon reflection, I feel I owe you a great deal of thanks and
appreciation. Meeting you and being introduced to your work opened a whole series of wonderfully exciting roads and directed me to life experiences I might not have otherwise embraced.
I currently live in Los Angeles and London. My Wife is English and after reading some of your early works (which still remain in the attic) she too suggests that my sensitivity and caring was nurtured by the spirit that your writings give wings to.
I had not visited your books for some years but recently rediscovered them in the attic as part a personal mortality check -- advanced prostate cancer. Once again, after so many years, my spirit and my soul are being refreshed and renewed by your writings. It may sound a little silly for someone nearing 60 to say, but in the past few months my heart has become larger, I am loving more, caring more and able to give more. Once again, you have played a significant role.
Thank you for giving our world so much warmth and helping me personally make my life a better place to be during a difficult period. Please know that from afar you are loved. Your friend and admirer for life (a long one, please) Jay M-D
Dear Jay, Thanks for a very inspiring letter. Many people when faced with a life-threatening situation roll over and wait to die. To me that always seems to miss the point. Since we all know life is a journey, to give up near the possible end is to deprive yourself of possibly the most important part of the trip.
Obviously as young as you are there are things you don't yet know, keep learning. Try to get an answer or two to a few of those questions that have been lingering inside your brain for too long.
There are places you haven't been that you've always wanted to visit. Go there, if it's within reason, hell if finances and your health permits take the trip even if it's beyond your means.
Use the telephone book. Call somebody you haven't talked to for years, just to say "Hi." (go ahead, split the
infinitive). Trust me, nothing makes you feel quite as good as making somebody else feel good and remembered. Don't call to tell them you're sick, call to inquire about their health. You've already given me an idea, I haven't talked to Patty for years and tonight I'm going to call her.
Do something nice and very unexpected (by her) for your wife. Then something else and something else and something else. Not on a regular basis though, if it becomes a routine it's no longer a surprise.
Send an E-mail or a letter to an anchorman, an actor or a politician you like and agree with. You don't have to know them, nor they you, to possibly give them a smile or a kind thought. That's not as stupid as it sounds, you know. If you feel on like-terms with someone, let them know it.
Buy yourself something a little extravagant that you don't really need. Hint; winter's almost here and cashmere sure feel nice next to the skin.
Stay up! We are born, we live, we die. That applies to you, me and everybody. You may be luckier than many of us because if you know your days are somewhat numbered you can make every one count. If you've escaped this time and you very well may have, hey . . . you've been warned. That can't help but make you a better person.
No recriminations, please. Of course you haven't fulfilled all of your desires and potential. Nobody will or has. I still haven't settled on a career, but I did learn something important a while ago. I ditched all the "If onlys ". . .and "What if's" . . . and I don't look back.
This wasn't a particularly good day for me, that is until I read your E-mail. See what I mean, Jay, you've already started making others feel better. Doesn't that make you feel a little better too?
Write me again, Jay, Please. Feel free to make my day any time you choose. Love, your friend Rod
My Dearest Rod, Thirty three years ago my late aunt (My very own Auntie Mame) gave me the first in what would be an extensive collection of your books, LP's and other related Rod memorabilia. Now I find myself hoping that someday I will have the opportunity to pass down this collection to someone else.
You have inspired me to write and to be at peace with myself and the world around me. I to this day live by one creed, "It's not who you love or how you love but that you love...." Thank you for the many years of beauty in your words. God bless you always. With love and admiration. Don Danson
Dear Don, Everybody ought to have an Auntie Mame. My thanks to you for your kind letter and special thanks to your Auntie
Mame for being there. Affectionately, Rod
VALENTINES DAY, 1983
Rod, Valentine's day 1983 was one of the worst day's of my life. It was cold, and it rained all day. But when I got home and picked up my mail, I built a fire in the fireplace and sat down to read my mail. In my mail was a Valentine card from you.. It was the most wonderful one I have ever gotten. And it was at the best timing ever.
You have been part of my life most of my life, and I am no spring chicken. You were a big reason I bought this computer. I love reading your site every day. I am so thrilled that you take time out of your life to share it with us, your fans. I see from your site, that you still have lots of fans. I personally saw you once at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. Sometime in the 70's. You were wonderful. And oh so sexy. DailyRacing
Dear Daily, You devil, you. None of us are spring chickens any more but as they say, it beats the hell out of the alternative. As for being called sexy, unlike women, I've never known a man who didn't want to be thought of as a sex object.
Let me be the first to wish you Happy Valentines Day 2001. Love, Rod
Dear Rod, Just wanted to say that I am so glad to find you apparently alive and well. I have wondered about you often. In 1975 my Aunt (who was my best friend at the time and fellow Rod devotee) went to Walt Disney World Village
to an autograph signing and later concert of yours. I have not before or since sought anyone's autograph.
I still have the book and would bet that I have a one of a kind autograph to boot. I was first in line and as you came to the desk, you were asking someone to bring you milk. As you started to sign my book you wrote "Milk", you looked up into my eyes and apologized...I laughed and said I understood perfectly (as I often was in search of milk in those days). But, you said you could fix it and you did....you wrote "To
Susan, who is very pretty and full of the Milk of Human kindness".
You have always meant so much to me and to my Aunt, who often quotes you still in cards and letters to me. There were times I felt you were the only one who understood. But then time passed and alas, I did not keep up, but of late you have been on my mind and I still have all my Rod books, and the "Web" can be a wonderful tool. I never dreamed you would have your own web site but am thrilled to be able to catch up with you. Take care and Sleep Warm and Thanks. Susan in Florida
Dear Susan, Since I was at Buena Vista Village & Disneyland, I decided to be prudent and ask for milk and not a martini.
The concert later that night was unusual, since it was totally off the cuff and one of the few times I ever did an outdoor reading - without songs, and before such a large crowd. You've managed to remind me that I think I have a video somewhere of that evening. Will have to look it up.
Thanks for remembering and welcome to A Safe Place to Land. Warmly, Rod
ROD'S BAKED CHICKEN BREASTS
Hello Rod, Recently remembered seeing you on an episode of the Mike Douglas Show (ages ago). You made a dish called "Rod McKuen Chicken" that consisted of chicken and whatever you happened to have in your refrigerator.
I remember this, but that doesn't make it true... ;-) Was I hallucinating? Magic and Fairydust, tara
Dear tara, No you haven't been inhaling too much Fairydust. Here's the Recipe for Rod's Baked Chicken Breasts.
Heat an oven to 350o's
Wash four split skinless chicken breasts in warm water and pat them dry. Season each one liberally with sea salt, pepper, Tarragon and Rosemary, then brown them in a skillet in four tablespoons of good olive oil.
Tear four squares of heavy strength aluminum foil (wide enough to completely wrap each piece of chicken in.) Place one chicken breast in the center of each square. Spread a generous helping of sour cream on each chicken breast (about 3 tablespoons each). Place four or five sections of a mandarin orange on each piece (note you can use grapes, cut up pineapple or grapefruit sections instead - or be daring and use a little of each)
Add six or eight capers and half a handful of canned garabonzo beans (chickpeas) and top with strips of pimento (a small jar of already cooked pimento is just about right.) Sprinkle a bit of the same seasoning you used to brown the breasts over the works.
Fold the foil over the chicken so as to cover it completely.
Place the four packages of chicken on a cookie sheet or on the bare grid of the oven. Bake for 90 minutes.
After cooking transfer the chicken breasts carefully to plates.
Garnish with basil leaves or cilantro. Serve with a simple green salad with a squeezed lemon for dressing or one made from balsamic vinegar and virgin olive oil. If you're on a salt free diet, simply skip the salt.
Incidentally the great chef Craig Claiborne was a guest on the show I cohosted with Mike Douglas that day. He kindly reserved judgement. Another time on The Dinah Shore Program assisted by Julia Child (!) she pronounced it "tasty."
I know you're a vegetarian, tara, so I assume your interest is purely academic. As ever, Rod
I'd like to see (hear) David McLaine singing some of your songs. He seems like a McKuen kind of guy. And what a voice for the type of music you compose. Jack
Dear Jack, Pardon my ignorance, but I can't seem to track down David McLaine. Maybe you or someone out there can enlighten me. Because I don't know who he is does give me a reason to visit my local Tower Records . . . as if I needed one. Cheers, Rod
Hello, Would like to receive information on where to purchase Rod McKuen music and videos.
In a biography, it said that he played with Kevin Costner, Willie Nelson, and Kenny Rogers, could you please tell me what these are I would sure appreciate it, thank you, Barbara Long
Dear Barbara, Stanyan By Mail has the largest selection of all things McKuen (including First Editions) and at reasonable prices. There's a link to it on the Home Page.
As for Kevin, Willie and Kenny, I'd love to know what projects I did with them too. Now, you can do me a favor by telling me where and how I can get to the Biography you quoted from. Thanks and kind wishes, Rod
It's that time of the week again so join me for tomorrow's Pass It Along feature. Amid other craziness you'll find the opening item by Kyletta Miller a gem. Sleep warm.
RM 10/10/2000 / first published 10/10/00
Details of Rod's upcoming concerts
and appearances can be obtained via the link below:
McKuen Concerts & Appearances