DC at Night

DC at Night

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Devil and DC

Satan has long been a staple of Halloween horror. And there is no greater the-Devil-made-me-do-it classic than The Exorcist, both the terrifying novel by William Blatty and the shocking movie by William Friedkin.

In both the book and film, DC, or more specifically the Georgetown section of the city, plays a major role.

For those who have spent four decades avoiding the story, it centers around the Devil possessing 12-year-old Regan, played in the movie by Linda Blair, and the attempts by Catholic priests to exercise the demon from her.

Blatty,a Georgetown University graduate, based the story on the reported exorcism of a young boy that took place in 1949 in Mount Rainier, Md. That story was written in the Washington Post by staff reporter Bill Brinkley.

A Jesuit at Georgetown told Blatty of the priest that performed the exorcism, which took two months to complete. Blatty was able to contact the priest in St. Louis and Father William Bowdern, whose hair had reportedly turned shock white during the ordeal, said that what he had witnessed was "the real thing." Blatty used only a few details for his novel, which sold 13 million copies in its initial release.

The Exorcist stairs
Blatty wrote the screenplay for Friedkin's film, which was set in the upscale neighborhood of Georgetown. Several scenes were also filmed at Georgetown University. The most famous site was the steep stairs which Karras the priest was propelled down during the exorcism ritual.

Fans of the film still visit the 75 steps at Prospect and 36th Street that lead down to M Street. Other sites still recognizable from the film include:
  • The exterior of the Prospect Street home near the steps
  • the Key Bridge
  • Dahlgren Chapel on the Georgetown campus
  • a bridge over the C&O canal 
The controversial film, during which the possessed Regan cursed, had her head spin completely around, vomited foul green goop, and masturbated with a crucifix, opened exclusively in Washington DC in January of 1974. Film critic Tom Shales of the Post described local police efforts to make sure no one under 17 saw the movie. 

Today, both Blatty and Friedkin appeared at a special screening in Georgetown to discuss the novel, the film, the sequels and the aftermath. Prior to the program, Blatty, now 85, sat down for an interview with Post writer Dan Zak.

DC Drag Race 2013

They say a picture is worth a 1,000 words. So consider this a few thousand words about this year's High-Heel Drag Race, which is annually held in DC's Dupont Circle neighborhood before Halloween.

photo from the DCist

photo from the DCist

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tuesday's Take - Halloween as a DC Figure

This post originally appeared in The DCist

This Halloween season, you have many options for costumes. You could tap into the current pop culture climate and choose a topical costume like Twerking Miley Cyrus or Robin Thicke in his Beetlejuice-esque suit. Or maybe something classic like a vampire or werewolf. (Or a werewolf at a bar mitzvah.) There's always the option of going the sexy route as, like, a nurse or cheerleader, or something. But those are all boring and predictable.
But if you live in the DC area you might want to consider a costume with a Washington twist. Lucky for you, DCist has put together this handy list of D.C.-centric costumes to impress people at whatever Halloween function you may find yourself at in the next week. You're welcome.
To view the complete post, click here.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Cronin, Percy Talk Horror and Writing

In horror stories, it's often a case of women in distress. But, for two of America's new leading horror writers, it's more a case of women to impress.

Both Benjamin Percy, author of the best-selling werewolf novel Red Moon, and Justin Cronin, author of the best-selling vampire novels The Passage and The Twelve, cite a desire to impress women as an inspiration for their writing.

"It's all been an attempt, in many ways, to impress a woman," says Percy.

Cronin posits much the same position. "The most interesting things a man does in his life are to impress a woman," he says.

For Percy, that woman was his English teacher. As a youngster, Percy had fallen under the spell of a book detailing the famous monsters of Universal Studio, especially Lon Chaney and his wolfman character. In school, he wrote about an actual attempt to transform himself into a werewolf. He received a B-. So now that his book Red Moon, a post 9/11 remake of the werewolf with themes of terrorism and zenophobia, became a best-seller, he was able to deliver a simple message to that former teacher. "In your face, Mrs. Zeijenhager," he now says with a deep, hearty laugh.

Percy said he crafted his supernatural thriller to reflect two of America's greatest phobias. "I wanted to create a believable monster. We fear infection. We are terrified of germs. USDA labs are the ground zero of the Apocalypse. And we are gripped and paralyzed by terrorism."

For Cronin, the female behind his modern vampire trilogy was his 8-year-old daughter, who was worried that her father's first books weren't selling well enough. "I'm afraid your books are boring," she told her father.

So Cronin said he engaged his daughter in a joint oral story creation that wouldn't, in her words, be boring. His daughter had a simple order - their creation must involve a young girl who "had to save the world."

"I told her - that's kind of a big task. Couldn't we just have the girl who saved Connecticut?" Cronin explains.

But his daughter was insistent, so for three months, they worked on the story project. "I had no intention of writing this thing at all," Cronin says. But he found that eventually he had "30 pages of very detailed stuff. And I did this with an 8-year-old. When I'm done, I will have a million words and it came from these conversations with my daughter."

So what did his daughter get for her work? "She gets to go to college and I get to go to Dad heaven because I bought her a pony," Cronin says.

But what happens when he finishes the trilogy (and a possible 4th book he is considering to wrap up the loose ends in the saga)? "We also have a son so I'm trying to figure out a way to use him," Cronin says.

The bulk of the information for this article was gathered at the 2013 National Book Festivalsponsored by the Library of Congress.

Justin Cronin 

Benjamin Percy

Sunday, October 27, 2013

White House Visits Back On for Now

The Kitchen Garden
The White House is open to the public again, at least temporarily. This weekend, for the first time since the sequester began seven months ago, tourists were able to take a garden tour of the White House grounds.

Visitors began lining up at the Ellipse Visitors Center on both days at 7:30 a.m. to get timed tickets distributed on a first-come, first-served basis for the tours, which began at 9 a.m and ended at 3 p.m. Tours of the White House itself will resume on Nov. 5 on a limited basis.

Serenaded by a military band, thousands of visitors used the two-day window to get the first up-close glimpse of the White House (except for the annual Easter Egg Roll which was underwritten by corporate donors and the sale of souvenir eggs) since March.

Usually, the public is able to view the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden, the Rose Garden, and the South Lawn of the White House, as well as the White House Kitchen Garden planted under the direction of First Lady Michelle Obama, during two seasonal touring times.

The garden tours were begun by First Lady Patricia Nixon 40 years ago. However, President John Quincy Adams developed the first flower garden at 1600 Pennsylvania avenue in 1825.

Jefferson portion of the garden
While the gardens have always been popular, interest grew after Mrs. Obama joined DC-area school children to plant the special kitchen garden - the first vegetable garden on the property since Eleanor Roosevelt's Victory Garden during World War II. One particular bed in the garden is named after President Thomas Jefferson and the plants in that area are from seeds that have been passed down from those Jefferson planted at his Monticello home.

During the 16-day federal government shutdown earlier this month, the Washington Post ran a story about the garden being gangly and weedy.

The grounds are under the direction of the National Park Service and employees and White House volunteers were on hand to guide visitors and answer their questions. As expected, those attending (including us) snapped photos from just about every angle possible.

According to a booklet handed out to all visitors, the White House Grounds are the oldest continually maintained landscape in the country.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Flashback Friday: Definitely Not a Drag

This article originally appeared in The Prices Do DC on Oct.25, 2011. The 2013 Drag Race will be held this Tuesday.  If you can be in the area then, you should check it out.

Skating DC fairies under the cover of October skies.
Standing in the 15-deep Dupont Circle crowd at the Q Street corner, waiting for the much-anticipated street race to start, I felt a bump on my shoulder. Turning, I encountered the 1st of a half-dozen fairies roller blading past me, wings on their backs, pastel antennae or crowns sprouting from their flowing hair, vibrant tutus fluttering in the night wind, their sequined tops shining under the light of the street lamps, heavy makeup and glitter covering bearded faces.  Ah, such are the sights on the Tuesday before Halloween when the nation's capital hosts its annual Drag Queen Race.

Although the race doesn't start until 9 p.m., crowds of thousands begin arriving as early as 6 to view the site of almost 100 drag queens in every type of costume sashaying and prancing up and down a blocked-off 17th Street again and again. Many of the crowd pour out into the street to get their picture taken with the obliging queens, while others simply hoot, holler, and applaud..

Some of the enthusiastic racers, who obviously work long and hard on their creative costumes,  enter as a themed group. For example, on this night, the 25th running of the annual race, there were The Queen of England and her retinue including relatives and fur-hatted strutting guards calling "God save the Queens"; a high-haired Marie Antoinette and her "let them eat cake" court; a group of blue uniformed Pan Am stewardesses pushing their coffee, tea, or me cart; and a pack of multi-hued Super Blow Pops, grandly announcing that "this is what happens when you suck too hard."

There were pairs. Alice in Wonderland and her off-with-their-head queen. A starkly phallic Washington Monument accompanied by a short-shorts wearing National Park Ranger. Several takeoffs on black and white, on-their-toes, ballet swans were also in vogue. .

Individual gay-supporting icons were in abundance. Lady Gaga. Dorothy of Wizard of Oz fame. A blue-body-painted Smurfette. Some of the contestants pushed the bounds of taste. Like the hairy-legged Marilyn Monroe look-a-like who pulled her skirt up and wiggled provocatively. Or a white-robed zombie Jesus fronted by a black-clad, particularly slutty Mary Magdalene. Other contestants blew that good taste line away faster than the whirling winds of the twister that plunged Dorothy into gay lore. How about a pink-pillbox-hat-wearing, bloodied Jackie Kennedy clone with the sign "I had a blast in Dallas" taped to his/her back? Or a group of muscular, off-the-shoulder tops and tight leggings wearing Flashdance workout queens performing all types of simulated sex acts with their hand weights and small barbells?

But it wasn't just a night of sight, but of sounds as well. Both the contestants and the crowd had great fun with an ongoing double entrendre, sexually charged repartee. When a group of In-the-Navy style guards pushing a small float of scantilly-clad mermaids streamed by, one young woman hollered "stay dry." A float-pusher responded "No sweetie, stay wet, always stay very, very wet."

And then there was the huge, red-gowned queen with a high mountain of teased hair (think John Water's Divine on steroids) who approached with a toilet bowl scrubber in hand. She was part of a clever group calling attention to the recent spate of exploding GSA toilets here in Washington. As she waved her dildo-impersonating scrubber directly in front of us, a young girl next to me leaned back, almost cringing with concern. "Oh c'mon sweetie," the contestant said with a wide smile. "You have nothing to worry about from me."

"Him, on the other hand," she cooed, suggestively twirling her toy inches from my face. "Now, that's another matter."

As for the race itself, I'm not sure who won. I know whoever it was, did get a glass slipper filled with champagne for his effort. But on this night, it was far more important that everyone, not just one winner, got filled with a great gay time.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Portrait of Dorian Gray: A Picture Perfect Gothic Event

When it comes to the Synetic Theater, I admit I am biased. We live in a Crystal City apartment complex and Synetic Theater is located in our Crystal City Underground. That means we don't even have to go outside to see a world-class theater company perform its take on some of the greatest works ever written.

So it's no surprise that we thoroughly enjoyed Synetic's latest production, a reworking of Oscar Wilde's Gothic classic The Picture of Dorian Gray.

There are a plethora of reasons for you to take in a performance for Halloween week if you haven't yet seen the production.  Here are 6:

1) A sexy orgy in an opium den featuring a giant hookah with pipes extending like tentacles.
2) A creepy portrait portrayed by an always engaging Philip Fletcher.
3) A brilliant psychological character counterpoint performed by Joseph Carlson (as Gray's mentor) and Robert Bowen Smith (as portrait painter Basil).
4) Dripping paint on a plexiglass wall as a symbol of a decaying Victorian society.
5) Another star turn by Dallas Tolentino (last seen as D'Artagnan in The Three Musketeers) as the Dorian Gray descending into dark depravity.
6) A soundscape by composer Konstantine Lortkipanidze that as usual intensifies the action on stage.

But you don't have to take our word. Here is what others are saying.
  •  "Dorian Gray reveals that the Tsikurishvilis never stop thinking about how to keep their aesthetic entertainingly fresh, how determined they remain to make a splash ... Synetic's portrait doesn't seem to fade with age. No, it just keeps getting sharper." - The Washington Post 
  • "A truly sexy, gothic tale perfect for the Halloween Season." MD Theatre Guide
  • "A sensual, frenetic and dark portrayal of Oscar Wilde's controversial novel."-WTOP
And if you want to have a deeper understanding of the performance check these out:

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tuesday's Take: Mumbo Sauce

Yes, the Chicago mumbo sauce has been bottled and sold under that name since the 1950s by a company called Select Brands. But because the recipe is different from D.C.’s — it’s used frequently as a grilling marinade — Arsha Jones, the founder of Capital City Mumbo Sauce, filed a petition to cancel Select Brands’ trademark registration, which was granted in 1958. Besides, in D.C., “mumbo sauce” is a term for a variety of spicy and tangy sauces found at carryouts — not one particular recipe.
Mumbo sauce is D.C.; mumbo sauce is not Chicago,” said Jones, who grew up in the Petworth area. “I don’t care who made what first. There will always be stories on both sides. If you check tweets, if you check Web sites, it points to mumbo sauce as a D.C. thing, and that’s the end.
To read the complete story, click here.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Friday Flashback - Love the Game, Change the Name

This article 1st appeared on Feb. 11, 2013. The controversy continues.

Despite protests of varying degrees, no professional sports team with a Native American-focused nickname has ever changed their name. Of course, that means the Indians in Cleveland and the Braves in Atlanta are still playing baseball, the Black Hawks are still skating in Chicago, and the Chiefs are still playing football in Kansas City. And then there is the special case of the Washington D.C. football team, which calls itself the Redskins, a name that carries the same demeaning connotation to many Native Americans that the n-word does with African-Americans.

"Redskins is most egregious except when applied to potatoes," says USA Today sports reporter Erik Brady. "It is disparaging and it is offensive."

Brady was one of 4 panelists who opened a community conversation about the Washington NFL team name at the symposium on Racist Stereotypes and Cultural Appropriation in American Sports held at the National Museum of the American Indian.

To date, neither former owner George Preston Marshall or current owner Daniel Snyder has shown any willingness to drop the offensive term. But Brady believes a renaming of the franchise is inevitable. "Rich owners are accustomed to hearing what they want to hear and not doing what they don't want to do, but this is a racial epithet and he (Snyder) can't change the meaning," he said.

Native Americans have been protesting the name for decades and Washington Post sports columnist Mike Wise has made his feelings on the issue clear for 10 of those years. He said he believes Snyder needs to be forced to change his stance. "He needs to be embarrassed into it," Wise said. "I'll write my butt off if you show up at the practice facility (to protest). Symbolism is so important in this culture and in this country. People say there are bigger things to worry about than names and mascots. But there is a reason to do this - it is called human compassion."

Rev. Graylan Hagler agreed that the name change is long overdue. "If someone says 'ouch' you don't ask them to define how its hurts and how much it hurts," Rev. Hagler said."You can't make something that is racist not racist. They (native Americans) say 'it takes away our humanity'. We should respond to their truth as truth."

Hagler, a long-time community activist, said that a boycott of team products could be an effective method of pressure. "We need to stop buying things that have the logo," he noted. "We need to withhold the cash."

District of Columbia Superior Court Judge Judith Bartnoff said the team name degrades the city of Washington. "The most prominent symbol of the real Washington is the football team and when you hear the fans, what they are screaming is a racial slur," Bartnoff said. "It is disrespectful and derogatory to Native people and undermines the community itself."

Robert Holden, the Deputy Director for the National Congress of American Indians, said "it's a local issue but it's being played out on a national stage. I don't think the owners understand that they are not honoring us. Honor like that - we don't need."

Tales, Tidbits, and Tips
Obviously, given the popularity of professional sports, the symposium was widely reported in the media. Click here for The Washington Times account of the event. And, if you read the entire article, you can see my question which I posed at the symposium.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Garland of Music and Harmony @The Hamilton

If there were absolute justice in the music world, Garland Jeffreys would have been playing before a packed house of 20,000 at the Verizon Center. Instead, he is on stage in The Hamilton in downtown DC, performing for a crowd of less than 200 devoted fans.

Jeffreys is one of rock's most underrated songwriter/performers, a fact many of his more well-known peers realize and readily acknowledge. In his college days, he swapped lyrics and poetry in upstate pubs with fellow New York City street singer and Syracuse student Lou Reed, later of Velvet Underground and "Walk on the Wild Side" fame. Whenever he plays the New York city area, Bruce Springsteen often pulls Jeffreys up on stage for a rousing rendition of Jefferys' "Wild in the Streets" or an up-off-your-ass cover of that Question ? and the Mysterians garage rock classic "96 Tears," a tune which Jeffrey has made a staple of his own shows. Noted rock critic Robert Christagau has linked Springsteen, Reed, and Jeffreys as a trio of superb city singer/songwriters "who need a drummer" to pound home their message and calls the multi-racial Jeffreys a deliverer of "Bigotry 101 from a teacher with tenure".

Jeffreys opens his Hamilton show with "Coney Island Winter". Because of the intimate nature of the small-club performance, he will be able to spend much of the night interacting with the crowd on an extremely personal level. He begins immediately after the last notes of the opening song. "This is a great place to play. We're having so much fun up here singing to you right wingers," he says with a hearty laugh.  "And backstage, you can actually sleep back there. (Pointing to each of the 4 members of his tight backup group) "If you had been there a little while ago, you might have thought these musicians were dead".

But Jeffreys, now 70, and his band - bassist Brian Stanley, drummer Tom Curiano, and brothers Charley and Adam Roth on guitar and keyboards - are anything but dead. Tonight is the 3rd night on their tour supporting Jeffreys' just-released effort Truth Serum and they are ready to showcase songs off of that effort.

But, of course, attention must also be paid to Jeffreys' earlier catalog. That's one of the reasons for the night's 2nd song - "35 Millimeters Dreams". During the ending, Jeffreys repeatedly vamped a line that you can be sure wasn't part of the original. "I used to be 35," he sings over and over..

The 3rd offering is the title track from the Truth Serum. After the song, Jeffreys, who has always commented on the socio/political scene in his lyrics, delivered this impromptu response. "Now I know this is DC, but if you think they (the conservative members of Congress who a few days after Jefferys' performance plunged the country into a government shutdown ) represent me, you are absolutely insane. It's easy to write these days. We come to Washington and they throw things out for you and you just rush back and add a new verse. I  looked at that Ted Cruz and I didn't know what the f... to think. But let me get back to the music here".

And so it went for the next 90 minutes, Jeffreys, often delivering a double message - 1st in his lyrics and then in his personalized stage remarks. "I'm on the 90-year-plan," Jeffreys told the crowd. "I'm coming up on 71 and there's no question in my mind that 89 is do-able".

During one of the night's most poignant segments, Jeffreys talked at length (like his buddy Springsteen he is a masterful on-stage storyteller) about his father working 2 jobs, 16 hours a day so a young Jeffreys could leave Brooklyn and attend Syracuse University. During that time, he studied in Italy (Jeffreys still speaks fluent Italian, a skill he demonstrated from the stage). "I was very, very different from everybody else in my neighborhood. Here I was - a guy from Brooklyn - living in Florence. This paved the way for me. It gave me wings. And rarely have I been afraid to try new things. And it was all because this man worked 2 jobs. And he wasn't even my (biological) father".

All too quickly, the show was over. Of course, there was the encore. In fact, there were two. The 1st was "96 Tears". That was followed by "Hail, Hail Rock n' Roll" which contains these lines, which although written years ago, seem to perfectly capture Jeffreys today.

Blame it on you, blame it on me
Now let's the race that won't let's get on history
Pain in my heart won't let me be
Take it from me but don't you take away my liberty
Father of coal, mother of pearl
Never too black to blush to pick up a white girl
The color of you, the color of me
You can't judge a man by looking at the marque

Hail hail rock 'n' roll, comes from r 'n' b and soul
Don't leave me standing in the cold
I used to fake 'I never grow old'
Hail hail rock 'n' roll, don't leave me standing on the bleak
Don't leave me stranded on the street
I see the light, I feel the heat

So let's do what Jeffreys suggests - let's all hail, hail rock and roll. Let's also hail Jeffreys and Springsteen and Reed and all the others who are still making relevant, life-affirming, life-changing music. May they all complete their own  90-year-plans and may we all, or at least as many as fate will allow, make it with them. For no matter how old you are, it's always good to be able to see the light and feel the heat.

And for those of you who weren't as fortunate as the 200 of us in the Hamilton to see and hear Jeffreys' performance, here is a brief glimpse in sight and sound.

Backstage before the performance

The Concert

Signing and Greeting Fans After the Show

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Simple Dreams of Linda Ronstadt

Many people believe that the rock stars of the late 60s and early 70s, fueled by a diet of drugs, alcohol and adoration, engaged in a decade-long series of wild, sex-filled parties after their sold-out concerts. Linda Ronstadt, one of the most popular singers of that period, admits that while the times could be wild, they were not the same for everyone. "Did I try things? You bet I did," Ronstadt says. "But my addiction is to reading. I was the girl back in the hotel room reading and knitting".

Actually reading is much more of the pastime with rockers than you might imagine, Ronstadt explained. "A musician was the one who turned me on to Anna Karenina," she said speaking recently at the National Book Festival in Washington, DC. "The piano players always read; the drummers not so much. The piano player was the guy who had to calm things down. The lead guitar player was like the high-strung pitcher and the piano player was the catcher".

Linda Ronstadt Then: On stage in the 70s

Linda Ronstadt Now: Discussing her new memoir
She compared the life of a touring musician to that outlined in seafaring books like those ofHeart of Darkness author Joseph Conrad. "Those books capture how provincial a sailor's life is. The harbors are the same all over the world. You hang with the same scabby old guys. You don't go beyond the harbor. Being on tour is very much like that. There's the bus, and the hotel, and the sound check, and the show, and the dinner, and then the after-dinner playing. And then you do the same thing the next day".

Ronstadt, now 67 and battling the crippling effects of Parkinson's disease that has dictated she will never sing in public again, was appearing at the festival to talk about her new memoir Simple Dreams, which focuses on her upbringing in a musical family in Tucson and the evolution of her career.

"My Dad sang these Mexican standards and folk songs," she told the crowd of fans that packed the huge tent on the National Mall. "I just wanted to be a singer. I didn't want to be a star".

Ronstadt first came to national attention with the band the Stone Ponies and their 1967 hit "Different Drum". She settled in the southern California area and began putting together a new band. She was able to recruit Don Henley on drums, Glen Frey and Bernie Leadon on guitar and Randy Meisner on bass. If those names sound familiar, it might be because those 4 went on to form The Eagles, one of the biggest selling bands of all-time. "They started playing (opening) shows together and regularly blowing me off the stage, but I didn't care. It was great music and I was loving it," Ronstadt said.

She says she is still amazed about those days in Los Angeles. When she was 18, she met a singer/songwriter who was one year younger. His name was Jackson Browne. "I was astonished that someone that young could write songs that well. And the 1st guitar player I met was Ry Cooder. He was up on stage playing his ass off like a demon".

In the 70s, Ronstadt released a series of hits that showcased her versatility such as "Heat Wave","Blue Bayou," "Tumbling Dice" and "You're No Good".

She also had a series of boyfriends, including current Oakland Mayor and former California Governor Jerry Brown. But despite the fact that she raised 2 adopted children, she never married. "I didn't get married. It wasn't important to me. I was a serial monogamist," she said with a laugh. Although Ronstadt enjoyed her time in the rock limelight, she actually pulled herself out of the business to devote time to raising her 2 children, who are now 19 and 22.

Ronstadt said she was inspired to write her memoir after reading other such volumes like the one penned by fellow singer Roseanne Cash. "I thought I would like to write a thank you note," she said. "I wasn't the most talented singer, but I was one of the most diverse singers. I wanted to write about why these musical choices weren't arbitrary. And they certainly weren't career moves".

She did a series of standards arranged by the late, great Nelson Riddle in the 1980s, predating such singers as Rod Stewart and his American songbook. She followed that with a return to her Mexican roots. "That was music I was passionate about. I had to sing it or I felt I would die," she said.

There is a belief that all music stars with hit records make millions of dollars. "That just isn't true," Ronstadt said. She cited an article on her current book tour that portrayed her as squandering a fortune. "The writer wondered why I couldn't afford a $20 million house. Oh gee (hitting herself in the head for emphasis), I must have snorted it".

Ronstadt says the recording industry of her days is a thing of the past. "The record business I knew is completely gone. Now we don't have any gatekeepers. They knew what a good record was". Ronstadt says that while she is not against change, "the price we pay may be much too dear for what we lose".

And while she describes herself as not particularly political, she does have strong feelings about the immigration debate. She contends that like much of America, the golden era of 20th Century music was nurtured by great American immigrant songwriters like George Gershwin. “It was completely created by the fact that we were a nation that was welcoming to immigrants,” Ronstadt said. "We allowed them to come in and find their place. We allowed them to prosper, which is what people from Mexico and Guatemala and El Salvador and Liberia and Libya and all these people would be doing now if we let them. We need to help them find their place. “I don’t know why this country doesn't learn.”

Of course, she is asked how she feels about the Parkinson's that has robbed her of her singing voice and forces her to steady herself with the aid of 2 walking sticks. Her succinct answer - no regrets. "I had a great career. I had an unusually long run at the trough," she says.

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