The Second World War over and no doubt left as to where Charlie wanted to be, routine played a big part in everything the Monetti patriarch did. Like many New Yorkers, Charlie and Lizzie spent their honeymoon in the Catskills, and for good measure, befriended the resort owners. So going forward, the family stayed in the owner’s home, and every October, a smaller turnout appealed to Charlie. Thus, Gramps never relented, and his annual engagement always followed suit. “He would chop wood for the fireplace and play cards all week,” said Bill.
The overwhelming difficulties of childhood mostly put at bay, my grandfather Carmine Monetti (or Charlie) certainly did his time playing stickball on the streets of the Bronx. I vaguely remember him telling me that if the kids didn’t have enough money for a ball, they would cut off the top of the broom stick and make do. Fittingly, it was the city game that continued the Monetti line.
Alfonso probably didn’t spend a lot of time mourning his wife and kept up with his extramarital activities. A player apparently, Alfonso’s infidelities were no isolated incident, and Carmine almost bore the brunt. Holding his son’s hand one afternoon on a walk, a jealous husband took a shot at Alfonso, and one branch of the Monetti line was almost cut.
Three years ago my grandchildren and I walked to a local convenience store and my muffle grandson pointed at a pay phone and asked me what it was. We walked over to it and I realized it was no longer connected. After wiping down the receiver my grandchildren each wanted to make a call. Can anyone today even consider the possibility of putting your mouth to a public phone where germs galore are hanging out. I always made a habit of cleaning house phones, work phones and pay phones with sanitizer or alcohol before using, but this was not always my practice. I recall going into the phone booth at my high school to call my boyfriend and it never occurred to me to wipe it down.
My Granddad is the best. I know all kids say that but mine is definitely the bestest Granddad around. Fact. I can tell you why but you mustn’t tell anyone else ‘cos it’s a secret!
Artists often record pieces without appraising listeners of what a song may mean to them. This oversight usually occurs because of production demands that preclude verbal descriptions of what a given song may mean to an artist. Producing a polished CD or video is considerable, and producers are reluctant to spend their precious dollars on verbal tributes that can be made by recording artists during a concert. Once in the studio, artists are expected to record their music as quickly and efficiently. Reminiscing about the composition of a particular song is discouraged. Fortunately, the recording of this specific song did require the use of an expensive recording studio. When I recorded the piece, I had no neurotic producer hanging over my shoulder. I am therefore free to reflect on what the relatively unknown aria "kennst du das land." Those unfamiliar with opera are unlikely to recognize the piece. I first became familiar with the Aria after attending a performance of "Little Woman." An original operatic work, the production allowed me to hear a breath-taking musical score and the Aria Kennst du das Land. I became determined to master the Aria in question. My years of training had provided me with the technical tools needed to sing a variety of styles, but I had always reframed from singing pieces written in German. The sheer beauty of the piece overwhelmed my reservation and set to work on it with passion and zeal. The experience has been transformative, allowing me to connect with a part of my German heritage that had always felt peripheral. Having to master German required that I steep myself in a language that members of the Hurst family line had practiced for generations. Learning "Kennst du das land" became a transformative experience, allowing me to reintegrate a disowned aspect of my family heritage. I am not the first, or only, singer to have had such an experience. Singing is an inherently personal process. Few performers become successful by relying solely upon their technical prowess. Acclaim rarely occurs unless a performer has found a way to merge technique and emotional resonance. For this singer at least, mastering the complexities of the Aria Kennst du das land became an example of such a process. It is why this previously unfamiliar piece now feels profoundly connected to my body and soul.
With Pride Month have just ended, I’ve found myself reflecting on my coming out story. It was nothing spectacular. The first time I said out loud that I was a bisexual woman, it was in my high school’s LGBTQ+ club. My close friend was in the room and gave me one of the best hugs I’ve ever received in my life at the end of the meeting. It was a proud moment for me, one that set me out to be more loud about who I am. Fast forward to today, about eight years later, and I can’t help but smile at the progress I’ve made. I’ve since realized in the past two years that it’s more accurate for me to say I’m pansexual. This actually marks the first time I’m “officially” saying I prefer pansexual to bisexual, so maybe this is another small coming out I’ve finally done.
Growing up, I was fortunate enough to know my great grandparents and most of their siblings. My Great Grandmother, Nana, was definitely someone you wouldn't forget
Indeed, not all of the experiences that the folk has drawn or the grandparents' words are false and outdated. The ancients were very good at observing the phenomena in life, from nature to society, to make their life easier.