Daily Archives: May 30, 2010

The Luncheon Society/Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller/LA-Chez Mimi/May 13 2010

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It’s an amazing story, one of those great tales from the early days of Rock and Roll. 

In 1956, Mike Stoller took his wife to France for 3 months.  After wandering around the countryside in late spring and early summer they return home on the Italian liner, the  SS Andrea Doria. It was the largest, the most spectacular, and safest of all of the Italian liners.  As Mike and his wife crossed the Atlantic, he purchased a copy of A Night to Remember, a best-seller by Walter Lord and considered the definitive reading on the sinking of the Titanic.

At 11 pm on July 26th, the Stockholm, a smaller passenger liner, crashed into the Andrea Doria and it began to list starboard and take on water. So instead of reading about the Titanic in Walter Lord’s book, he is actually living it. He thought, “That’s it; I’m a goner and I’m going down on the Titanic just like all of those poor souls who perished at the bottom of the Atlantic.” 

However, the crash took place off the coast of Massachusetts in a heavy shipping lane and within a short period, there was a massive effort to rescue the passengers before if sank to the bottom of the Atlantic 11 hours later.

Mike Stoller and his wife were rescued and they met Jerry Leiber at the dock in New York.  Leiber brought a full set of dry clothes for both Mike and his wife and once he made sure that his friends were okay, he exclaimed, “You won’t believe this, but Hound Dog  is a #1 hit!” Stoller was taken aback and said, “You mean Big Mama Thornton’s version,” who did it in 1953?  “No,” Leiber replied, “Its Elvis Presley.”  “Elvis Presley?” Stoller replied incredulously, “who’s that?”

Watch Big Mama’s version.  She simply whacks Elvis with big ol’ purse of hers. Look for a young Buddy Guy on that video. Nobody messed with her.


 

Stoller had been out of the country and had not seen the explosion of “Black Music” that was recorded by White Artists like Elvis.  In the span of 12 hours, Mike Stoller went from the brink of death to superstardom. Continue reading

The Luncheon Society/”French Women Don’t Get Fat” author Mireille Guiliano/SF-Palio D’Asti/May 7, 2010

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Not every topic discussed by The Luncheon Society ™  needs to be weighty; in fact many of our best gatherings surround unexpected delights.

For example last year, writer Ayelet Waldman joined for a conversation after her column  in the New York Times set off a firestorm because she loved her husband more than her children. A year or two earlier, Bob Hass, the former American Poet Laureate spoke about his new set of poems, Time and Materials, which would win the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize.

Mireille Guiliano took a backhand comment and created several New York Times best-sellers. Years ago when asked how she could dine out nightly without putting on any weight, she simply replied, “Well, French Women do not get fat.”

With that staircase rejoinder, a literary franchise was launched.

In 2004, Mireille published “French Women Don’t Get Fat,” which was a lifestyle book that explores the four basic food loves, freshness, variety, balance, and always pleasure.   Janet Maslin of the New York Times noted, “Ms. Guiliano turns out to be eminently level headed. She combines reasonable thoughts about nutrition with a general endorsement of joie de vivre, and her tone is girl friendly enough to account for the book’s runaway popularity.”

Since then she has published three more books on the joie de vivre that the French (especially French women) bring to their daily lives.  They include French Women For All Seasons, Women, Work & the Art of Savoir Faire: Business Sense & Sensibility, and her latest, The French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook. Each has done well and her initial book has been translated into 37 languages after spending a good deal of time atop The New York Times.  Her writing has resonated with those who are turned off after reading through forests of yo-yo fad diets, where the weight often returns with a vengeance.  Although counterintuitive at first blush, Mireille recommended bread, Champagne, chocolate and romance as key ingredients to a balanced diet and joyous lifestyle. Continue reading

The Luncheon Society/Congressman Alan Grayson on Healthcare/LA-Napa Valley Grille/April 24, 2010

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For Congressman Alan Grayson, the current representative from Florida’s 8th congressional district, Sam Rayburn’s cardinal rule of “to get along, go along” has little use to him. Instead Grayson has charted another path, freely speaking his mind on healthcare, Iraq, Afghanistan as well as other items on his mind. He is a man in a hurry.

An Unfiltered Progressive. Last year during the heat of the debate on healthcare, Alan Grayson suggested that the Republican alternative was thus: Don’t get sick, and if you do get sick, die quickly.”

The partisan response was swift and white hot. Some Republicans demanded that he apologize on the House floor.  “I would like to apologize,” he said. “I would like to apologize to the dead.”

Stating that 44,789 Americans die each year due to their inability to get healthcare insurance, the Congressman continued, “That is more than ten times the number of Americans who died in the war in Iraq, it’s more than ten times the number of Americans who died on 9/11. It happens every year. I apologize to the dead and their families that we haven’t voted sooner,” he said. Continue reading