Sound of Music . . . Single Ladies . . . whatever

Last month, some Belgian folks pulled an Improv Everywhere to “Do Re Mi” in a train station. It is really fabulous.

Well, today I discovered a 100 “Single Ladies” Dance in Picadilly Circus, their trying to recreate Beyonce’s famous leggy dance in a similar improv type fashion. I don’t think it is nearly as good, though.

There is only one video of Single Ladies that I love and it truly makes me laugh whenever I watch it. Part of that is due to my loving anything with Paul Rudd in it, but mainly because Justin Timberlake just blows everyone out of the water with his moves.

So, here is part of my posting from 3 months ago where I talked about Obama’s love for Single Ladies as well.

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It’s clear that our President is the new cool, but nothing shows this more than his recent meet-and-greet with various celebs at the Lincoln Memorial following the star-studded “We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration” concert. Captured on video by singer John Legend, the Obamas walked up to greet Beyoncé. Michelle Obama says, “Mr. President, you didn’t tell Beyonce about ‘Single Ladies’? Your rendition?”

“I’m not like Justin [Timberlake]” Obama says laughing, referring to Timberlake’s spoof of the video on Saturday Night Live. “I didn’t put on the outfit. …[But] I didn’t want my girls thinking that I couldn’t, you know…I got a lil something.”

He then does the infamous hand flip.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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The Kennedy-Obama Canine Connection

August 26, 2009 update here.

I hear that the Obama family fell in love with Senator Kennedy’s Porties, so inspiring their bringing Bo into the family. I got to meet two of Senator Kennedy’s dogs three years ago during a second tour at the White House with my Senate pal, Patty Kennedy. I had originally visited the US Senate in 2000, helping Patty with the publicity of her incredible book, Bailey Bymyside: Golden Lessons for Life (to see some of the lessons from the book, click here).

Senator Kennedy dogs were being walked by staff members as he was, of course, busy doing the people’s work. I was told that the Senator brought his dog to work about once a week. And, he brought a tennis racket as well so that he could hit balls for his dog to retrieve and bring back to him.

The 2006 book, My Senator And Me: A Dog’s Eye View Of Washington, D.C., is a lovely children’s book that highlights his guy, Ch. Amigo’s Seventh Wave (nicknamed Splash). One gets to follow Senator Kennedy and Splash through a busy day in D.C., from press conferences to meetings with school groups to committee discussions to a floor vote. Kennedy’s introduction to the political process is clear, informative, and loaded with child appeal, in part due to his choice of a furry narrator.

Bo, America’s Commander in Leash was written by Naren Aryal and illustrated by Danny Moore (Mascot Books). The book begins with Bo stealing the president’s letter opener, and he’s off and running for the next 25 pages.

Bo flies off the Obama girls’ swing, runs from bees near the first lady’s organic garden, puts green dye in the fountain for St. Patrick’s Day, and even serves up a summer hamburger for VP Biden. And, he is definitely enjoying the view and breeze from the window of Dad’s presidential helicopter, a major perk I’d say.

It looks like a great book for kids from age 4 to 10, as so many are now so interested in this special guy.

Click here to see a sample page from the book.

Art and Martha Stern, who bred the new White House dog, Bo, at their Amigo Portuguese Water Dog Kennels in Texas, were interviewed by PEOPLE Pets. And, they revealed some cool info (in the 5 facts below).

Spokesdog Bo

5 Things You May Not Know About First Dog Bo

1. It wasn’t Bo’s fault his first family didn’t work out. Bo, who spent time with another family before heading to Washington, was originally acquired to give an older female some company, but he ended up giving her a headache – by trying to nurse on her. “Most of our puppies, when [they] are six or seven weeks of age, I let them out with the big dogs,” Stern says. “The big dogs usually educate them to the fact that not all big dogs are their mother. But apparently he didn’t learn that.”

2. Bo comes from sturdy stock. His mom Penny is “kinda pushy,” Stern says. “She tries to run things, but we’ve got an older female that’s actually the alpha.” The Sterns give all their dogs a puppy test that rates degrees of social attraction, the ability to follow and sensitivity to touch. Bo scored mostly in the middle.

3. Bo has been a presidential dog-in-training for weeks. After Bo left his first home, he a top-secret trip to the White House for a summit with the Obamas in mid-March. Then he was whisked off for schooling by the Kennedy’s dog trainer.

4. He has a talented older brother. The Sterns tried to mate Bo’s mom and dad through artificial insemination, and a pup named Solo was born. Solo now competes in a sport called Water Work that mimics the challenges of fishing, which Porties were originally bred to do. Then Bo’s parents got together again and had Bo and his nine litter mates (including one owned by the Kennedys).

5. Bo will be big and lanky. Stern says that his other dogs that were neutered young – like Bo – have become especially tall. Which means he’ll be right at home with the First Family: The President is just over 6 feet tall, while Michelle Obama while Michelle Obama reaches 5’11”.

Check out Bo’s first day in the video below, along with some of our favorite photos of this cutie with his new forever family.

Yea, an organic garden at the White House

I originally posted below almost 2 months ago about the Obama family planting an organic garden at the White House. We signed various petitions and today it has been confirmed. There will be a garden!!

First Family To Plant White House Veggie Garden

ABC News’ Brian Hartman Reports: President Obama’s latest shovel-ready project is close to home — in fact, right in his own yard. In an effort to promote healthy eating, the first family will be planting a vegetable garden right on the White House grounds. ABC News’ Ann Compton and Sunlen Miller report that the new White House vegetable garden will be dug up and planted on the South grounds of the White House — near the fountain but out of view of the main house.

Though the 16-acre complex is maintained by the National Park Service, one worker who preferred to remain anonymous assured ABC News that National Park Service staff won’t do the sowing and planting. The White House residence staff will handle that.

As first reported online by food writer Eddie Gehman Kohan, who reports on food issues related to the Obamas, First Lady Michelle Obama told Oprah Winfrey’s “O” magazine, “We’re … working on a wonderful new garden project.”

In the April issue of the magazine, Mrs. Obama tells Winfrey, “We want to use it as a point of education, to talk about health and how delicious it is to eat fresh food, and how you can take that food and make it part of a healthy diet.”

A variety of organic food and sustainable agriculture advocates have been pressing the Obamas to plant such a garden.

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1792: Construction on the White House – known first as the ‘President’s House” – begins on what had been a tobacco plantation.
1800: Construction is completed. President John Adams and First Lady Abigail Adams move into the White House as its first residents. Adams plants the first “First Vegetables” but is soon after voted out of office.
1801: Thomas Jefferson takes office, reaps where Adams sowed, and redesigns the garden plan adding a number of ornamental and fruit trees. It is worth noting that some of the first White House gardens, including Jefferson’s, were dug and tended by slaves.
1814: British troops set fire to the house, destroying its interior. Three years of reconstruction and renovations take place which include building the portico and painting the President’s House white.
1825: President John Quincy Adams plants fruit trees, herbs and vegetables to help support his own household.
1835: President Andrew Jackson builds an “orangery” for growing tropical fruit.
1857: Orangery is demolished and a full-scale greenhouse is built.
1902: Greenhouse is demolished and replaced by West Wing.
1918: President Wilson and First Lady Edith Wilson recruit a flock of sheep to mow and fertilize the First Lawn at a time when the country was trying to conserve resources – human, financial and fuel – for the war effort.
1943: First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt plants a large Victory Garden on White House lawn over the objections of the US Department of Agriculture inspiring millions of Americans by her example.

1954: President Dwight Eisenhower installs a putting green on White House lawn.
1979: President Jimmy Carter installs solar panels on the White House roof and tends an herb garden.

1981: President Ronald Reagan removes the solar panels and proposes that ketchup be considered a vegetable for public school lunches, a proposal that is lambasted by health officials and the media and quickly withdrawn.

1990: President George H. W. Bush declares the White House kitchen a “no broccoli zone.
1995: Chef Alice Waters writes to President Bill Clinton calling for organic gardens on the grounds of the White House and the Vice Presidential mansion. Clinton at one point responds “send me the seeds,” but soon after gets caught sowing his own wild oats in a scandal that becomes the dominant flavor of his second term of office.

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Edible landscapes for all: can you dig it? Yes, you can!

My hubby has planted an organic vegetable garden at our home since 1987, as well as several fruit trees. Our Golden Retrievers have loved it, of course, and often have taken to feeding themselves . . . or trying to dig up the spoils (such as sweet potatoes). The organic yield is unbelievable, but sadly, we are virtually the only home in the neighborhood that utilizes much of our small piece of land (1/3 acre) this way.

The future is going to be more fresh, juicy and delicious than a lot of us realize. That’s because edible landscapes are going to be more integrated into our yards, neighborhoods, towns, and cities in the future than they have in the recent past. To make this happen, though, more people need to be asking for and digging these landscapes. Here are a few things you can do to help:

1) Sign the “White House Food Garden Petitionwhich Eat The View will deliver to the Obamas along with a diverse collection of heirloom seed packets. Eat the View is the citizen-led campaign to plant a large Victory Garden on the White House lawn. (I signed already and it took virtually no time at all.)

2) Identify a landscape near you that you think should be “edible-ized”. Start with your own yard, neighborhood, or child’s schoolyard. You can also ask your elected officials at the state and local level to lead by example. The Governors of Maine, North Carolina & New York are already eating from gardens planted at their official residences.

3) Become a supporter (check out my forum profile page here). Also, grab some great photos or widgets to place on your own webpages and blogs. You can grab photos here and you can get some really cool widgets here. This is our favorite photo.

Learn more about gardening at Kitchen Gardeners International, a 501c3 nonprofit founded in Maine, USA with friends from around the world. Their mission is to empower individuals, families, and communities to achieve greater levels of food self-reliance through the promotion of kitchen gardening, home-cooking, and sustainable local food systems.

Stevie Wonder-ful . . . Final Version

FINAL UPDATE

Click here to see the performance.

On February 25, 2009 I provided the post below. But, it was not complete as I was still waiting anxiously for the Library of Congress to add the webcast of their “Sketches of a Life” commissioned piece. Well, it was just posted on its Web site. And, it does not disappoint.

Folks definitely need to take the time out to experience this special gem. Stevie alternates between three different instruments, surrounded by a 21-piece chamber orchestra, surely an event you would not ever expect to see. His early classical training shows through and one sees an artist that can master it all.

Stevie’s commissioned piece is then followed by two delightful encores of “Overjoyed” and a sing-along of “My Cherie Amour.”

__________________________________________

Photo by Charles Dharapak -- Associated Press

As Shepard Fairey’s iconic HOPE portrait came to represent Barack Obama’s candidacy for President in 2008, Stevie Wonder’s music and exuberance came to symbolize the the campaign’s soul. His music (songs like “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” and “Higher Ground”) was heard at nearly every campaign stop.

Honestly, I think very few folks can resist Stevie Wonder’s music, or deny his incredible talents. Already one of the most decorated artists in pop music history, a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer with 25 Grammy Awards and an Oscar, on Sept 2, 2008, the Library of Congress named Wonder the winner of its second Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

Monday night Wonder received the award, also performing a new piece commissioned by the library for the celebration.

Stevie Wonder reminisced Monday night about getting “talking books as a little boy from the Library of Congress” before premiering a new song commissioned by the library, which will award him its Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. I didn’t know that anyone would ever ask me to do it,” says Wonder about the instrumental composition Sketches of a Life, which he played on two pianos and his signature harmonica, accompanied by a 21-piece chamber ensemble. He began working on the piece in 1976 and finished it in 1994, the day Nelson Mandela became president of South Africa.

Sketches draws upon his life experiences, including memories of his late mother, Lula Mae. “I can hear her voice, I can hear her joy, I can hear my cry of missing her,” he told reporters before the show in the library’s Coolidge Auditorium. “Those cries are really tears of joy, knowing that we are closer than ever to becoming a united people in the United States.”

The audience of about 450 included Wonder’s wife, two sons and brother, plus members of Congress and the family of George and Ira Gershwin, for whom the award is named. They gave the new composition a rousing standing ovation. Wonder thanked the crowd for influencing him: “You’ve allowed me to see that you’re able to see beyond color and to see into the soul of the heart.”

Wonder’s work had been initially recognized by the Library of Congress in 2005, his 1976 double album, “Songs in the Key of Life,” added to the National Recording Registry. This collection honors recorded works that are “culturally, historically or aesthetically important, and/or inform or reflect life in the United States.”

In writing this post, I learned that Stevie Wonder undertook the study of classical piano, and later, music theory. Such classical leanings, however, are not surprising.

At the Library of Congress last night, the Motown legend spoke of a longtime “love for classical music” — of listening to Stravinsky, Bach and Beethoven. And then Wonder ambled onstage at the library’s Coolidge Auditorium and gave the world-premiere performance of “Sketches of a Life,” a classical composition that he began writing in 1976, when he was still at the peak of his pop-songwriting powers.

Accompanied by a 21-piece chamber ensemble, Wonder alternated between piano, electric keyboard and his trusty harmonica during a largely autobiographical work in nine movements. His melodic gifts were on generous display during the nearly 20-minute piece, though the chords tended to be darker and more haunting than the ones Wonder usually writes. The music, though, was no less lyrical or soulful.

He’s hardly a classical purist, of course: “Sketches” leaned at times toward pop show tunes and jazz. One movement was something like chamber funk, with Wonder vamping on the clavinet as the ensemble’s sound swelled. Another segment was basically a blues-jazz instrumental, with Wonder taking off on a lyrical harmonica run over piano chords and a swaying beat — all while jazz legend Herbie Hancock nodded his head in the audience.

Still, Wonder seemed comfortable with the form, and even displayed impressive restraint for a newcomer in the classical sandbox, staying away from bombast and saving the musical flyover for the triumphal, regal finale, which was full of horn fanfare.


________________________________

This video below of Pavarotti & Stevie Wonder additionally shows Stevie’s comfort with classical performers. When asked about his own personal heroes and influences, Pavarotti was included. This song, “Peace Wanted Just To Be Free” from the 1998 performance, Pavarotti & Friends for the Children of Liberia, is just fabulous. Be sure to catch the end where you will see how genuinely moved Pavarotti was by Stevie’s performance.

“The Gershwin Prize was created to honor an artist whose creative output transcends distinctions between musical styles and idioms, bringing diverse listeners together, and fostering mutual understanding and appreciation,” James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress, said in a statement. “Stevie Wonder’s music epitomizes this ideal.”

The prize, which was created last year, commemorates George and Ira Gershwin, the legendary American songwriting team whose extensive manuscript collections reside in the Library of Congress. The prize is awarded to musicians whose lifetime contributions in the field of popular song exemplify the standard of excellence associated with the Gershwins. Essentially, it is the pop music corollary to the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. The first Gershwin Prize was awarded in May 2007 to Paul Simon.

Tonight, some mighty lucky folks will be able to experience Stevie Wonder and many other performers at the concert, In Performance at the White House.

President Obama might turn a few heads if he broke into song tonight while presenting Stevie Wonder with the Library of Congress’ Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. But Wonder would be unfazed.

During inaugural festivities in January, “I gave the president my harmonica,” Wonder says. “He said, ‘I can’t play this thing.’ But I said, ‘You could do anything.’ ” ….

Wonder remembers discovering George Gershwin through Sam Cooke’s rendition of Summertime. “Later I found out that came from Porgy and Bess, and was amazed to learn about all the different places and genres” his music drew on, and the diversity of artists who embraced it. “You have jazz musicians playing it and opera singers doing it. That’s incredible music.”

President Obama greets Stevie Wonder on Wednesday night during a concert in the East Room of the White House held to celebrate the musician being awarded the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song (Photo credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

President Obama greets Stevie Wonder on Wednesday night during a concert in the East Room of the White House held to celebrate the musician being awarded the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song (Photo credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Thankfully, the concert will be broadcast tomorrow on PBS at 8pm EST. It looks to be amazing. President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama celebrated Stevie Wonder’s life and music, bestowing upon him the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

In an interview with Rolling Stone last year, the then senator said: “If I had one musical hero, it would have to be Stevie Wonder. “When I was at the point where you start getting involved in music, Stevie had that run with Music of My Mind, Talking Book, Fulfillingness’ First Final and Innervisions, and then Songs in the Key of Life. Those are as brilliant a set of five albums as we’ve ever seen.”

The show features performances from: Wonder, India.Arie, Tony Bennett, Wayne Brady, Anita Johnson, Diana Krall, Mary Mary, Martina McBride, Rickey Minor, Paul Simon, Esperanza Spalding, will.i.am, and Mary Mary.

This was part of President Obama’s presentation of the award:

So, it is my extraordinary privilege to present the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular song to an artist who has stirred our hearts and our souls for a generation, whose music knows no boundaries, an inspiration to us all.

Stevie has always drawn on the incredible range of traditions in his music. From them he’s created a sound that at once uniquely American, uniquely his own, and yet somehow universal. Indeed, this could be called the American tradition – artists demonstrating the courage and talent to find new harmonies in the rich and dissonant sounds of the American experience.

Tonight’s prize is also personal for me. As Stevie knows, I’m a huge fan. And he has been a great supporter. When I was first discovering music, just like Michelle, it was Stevie’s albums that I found and his songs became the soundtrack of my youth. Through them I found peace and inspiration, especially in difficult times. And I think it’s fair to say that had I not been a Stevie Wonder fan, Michelle might not have dated me. We might not have married. The fact that we agreed on Stevie was part of the essence of our courtship.

And I’m not alone. Millions of people around the world have found similar comfort and joy in Stevie’s music, and his unique capacity to find hope in struggle, and humanity in our common hardships. This gift that music affords us, transporting us from the here and now, relieving us of our burdens, even if it’s just for the length of a song. And this gift given to us by artists like Stevie is something we can all share.

Here is another video of Stevie showing his versatility, in a magnificent duet with Tony Bennett:

Stevie Wonder-ful . . . Updated

Photo by Charles Dharapak -- Associated Press

As Shepard Fairey’s iconic HOPE portrait came to represent Barack Obama’s candidacy for President in 2008, Stevie Wonder’s music and exuberance came to symbolize the the campaign’s soul. His music (songs like “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” and “Higher Ground”) was heard at nearly every campaign stop.

Honestly, I think very few folks can resist Stevie Wonder’s music, or deny his incredible talents. Already one of the most decorated artists in pop music history, a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer with 25 Grammy Awards and an Oscar, on Sept 2, 2008, the Library of Congress named Wonder the winner of its second Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

Monday night Wonder received the award, also performing a new piece commissioned by the library for the celebration.

Stevie Wonder reminisced Monday night about getting “talking books as a little boy from the Library of  Congress” before premiering a new song commissioned by the library, which will award him its Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. I didn’t know that anyone would ever ask me to do it,” says Wonder about the instrumental composition Sketches of  a Life, which he played on two pianos and his signature harmonica, accompanied by a 21-piece chamber ensemble. He began working on the piece in 1976 and finished it in 1994, the day Nelson Mandela became president of South Africa.

Sketches draws upon his life experiences, including memories of his late mother, Lula Mae. “I can hear her voice, I can hear her joy, I can hear my cry of missing her,” he told reporters before the show in the library’s Coolidge Auditorium. “Those cries are really tears of joy, knowing that we are closer than ever to becoming a united people in the United States.”

The audience of about 450 included Wonder’s wife, two sons and brother, plus members of Congress and the family of  George and Ira Gershwin, for whom the award is named. They gave the new composition a rousing standing ovation. Wonder thanked the crowd for influencing him: “You’ve allowed me to see that you’re able to see beyond color and to see into the soul of the heart.”

Wonder’s work had been initially recognized by the Library of Congress in 2005, his 1976 double album, “Songs in the Key of Life,” added to the National Recording Registry. This collection honors recorded works that are “culturally, historically or aesthetically important, and/or inform or reflect life in the United States.”

In writing this post, I learned that Stevie Wonder undertook the study of classical piano, and later, music theory. Such classical leanings, however, are not surprising.

At the Library of Congress last night, the Motown legend spoke of a longtime “love for classical music” — of listening to Stravinsky, Bach and Beethoven. And then Wonder ambled onstage at the library’s Coolidge Auditorium and gave the world-premiere performance of “Sketches of a Life,” a classical composition that he began writing in 1976, when he was still at the peak of his pop-songwriting powers.

Accompanied by a 21-piece chamber ensemble, Wonder alternated between piano, electric keyboard and his trusty harmonica during a largely autobiographical work in nine movements. His melodic gifts were on generous display during the nearly 20-minute piece, though the chords tended to be darker and more haunting than the ones Wonder usually writes. The music, though, was no less lyrical or soulful.

He’s hardly a classical purist, of course: “Sketches” leaned at times toward pop show tunes and jazz. One movement was something like chamber funk, with Wonder vamping on the clavinet as the ensemble’s sound swelled. Another segment was basically a blues-jazz instrumental, with Wonder taking off on a lyrical harmonica run over piano chords and a swaying beat — all while jazz legend Herbie Hancock nodded his head in the audience.

Still, Wonder seemed comfortable with the form, and even displayed impressive restraint for a newcomer in the classical sandbox, staying away from bombast and saving the musical flyover for the triumphal, regal finale, which was full of horn fanfare.


________________________________

This video below of Pavarotti & Stevie Wonder additionally shows Stevie’s comfort with classical performers. When asked about his own personal heroes and influences, Pavarotti was included. This song, “Peace Wanted Just To Be Free” from the 1998 performance, Pavarotti & Friends for the Children of Liberia, is just fabulous. Be sure to catch the end where you will see how genuinely moved Pavarotti was by Stevie’s performance.

“The Gershwin Prize was created to honor an artist whose creative output transcends distinctions between musical styles and idioms, bringing diverse listeners together, and fostering mutual understanding and appreciation,” James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress, said in a statement. “Stevie Wonder’s music epitomizes this ideal.”

The prize, which was created last year, commemorates George and Ira Gershwin, the legendary American songwriting team whose extensive manuscript collections reside in the Library of Congress. The prize is awarded to musicians whose lifetime contributions in the field of popular song exemplify the standard of excellence associated with the Gershwins. Essentially, it is the pop music corollary to the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. The first Gershwin Prize was awarded in May 2007 to Paul Simon.

Tonight, some mighty lucky folks will be able to experience Stevie Wonder and many other performers at the concert, In Performance at the White House.

President Obama might turn a few heads if he broke into song tonight while presenting Stevie Wonder with the Library of Congress’ Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. But Wonder would be unfazed.

During inaugural festivities in January, “I gave the president my harmonica,” Wonder says. “He said, ‘I can’t play this thing.’ But I said, ‘You could do anything.’ ” ….

Wonder remembers discovering George Gershwin through Sam Cooke’s rendition of Summertime. “Later I found out that came from Porgy and Bess, and was amazed to learn about all the different places and genres” his music drew on, and the diversity of artists who embraced it. “You have jazz musicians playing it and opera singers doing it. That’s incredible music.”

President Obama greets Stevie Wonder on Wednesday night during a concert in the East Room of the White House held to celebrate the musician being awarded the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song (Photo credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

President Obama greets Stevie Wonder on Wednesday night during a concert in the East Room of the White House held to celebrate the musician being awarded the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song (Photo credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Thankfully, the concert will be broadcast tomorrow on PBS at 8pm EST. It looks to be amazing. President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama celebrated Stevie Wonder’s life and music, bestowing upon him the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

In an interview with Rolling Stone last year, the then senator said: “If I had one musical hero, it would have to be Stevie Wonder. “When I was at the point where you start getting involved in music, Stevie had that run with Music of My Mind, Talking Book, Fulfillingness’ First Final and Innervisions, and then Songs in the Key of Life. Those are as brilliant a set of five albums as we’ve ever seen.”

The show features performances from: Wonder, India.Arie, Tony Bennett, Wayne Brady, Anita Johnson, Diana Krall, Mary Mary, Martina McBride, Rickey Minor, Paul Simon, Esperanza Spalding, will.i.am, and Mary Mary.

This was part of President Obama’s presentation of the award:

So, it is my extraordinary privilege to present the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular song to an artist who has stirred our hearts and our souls for a generation, whose music knows no boundaries, an inspiration to us all.

Stevie has always drawn on the incredible range of traditions in his music. From them he’s created a sound that at once uniquely American, uniquely his own, and yet somehow universal. Indeed, this could be called the American tradition – artists demonstrating the courage and talent to find new harmonies in the rich and dissonant sounds of the American experience.

Tonight’s prize is also personal for me. As Stevie knows, I’m a huge fan. And he has been a great supporter. When I was first discovering music, just like Michelle, it was Stevie’s albums that I found and his songs became the soundtrack of my youth. Through them I found peace and inspiration, especially in difficult times. And I think it’s fair to say that had I not been a Stevie Wonder fan, Michelle might not have dated me. We might not have married. The fact that we agreed on Stevie was part of the essence of our courtship.

And I’m not alone. Millions of people around the world have found similar comfort and joy in Stevie’s music, and his unique capacity to find hope in struggle, and humanity in our common hardships. This gift that music affords us, transporting us from the here and now, relieving us of our burdens, even if it’s just for the length of a song. And this gift given to us by artists like Stevie is something we can all share.

Here is another video of Stevie showing his versatility, in a magnificent duet with Tony Bennett:

I cannot wait for the Library of Congress to add the audio file of their “Sketches of a Life” commissioned piece. Hopefully, it soon will be posted soon on its Web site.

Presidential Puppy Watch … Senator Kennedy’s Portuguese Water Dog influence

August 26, 2009 update here.

APRIL 16 UPDATE HERE

Well, it seems like Senator Kennedy has made a huge influence on the Obama family. The number one pick these days is a Portuguese Water Dog.

Speaking to PEOPLE at the White House recently, Michelle Obama leaned in and confided: “You’re getting some scoops here.”  So, when? In April, Mrs. Obama says – after she and the President take daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, on a vacation for spring break.

Here’s a sample of a typical family conversation on the matter: “So Sasha says, ‘April 1st.’ I said, ‘April.’ She says, ‘April 1st.’ It’s, like, April!,” Mrs. Obama recalls. “Got to do it after spring break. You can’t get a new dog and then go away for a week.”

And what kind of dog will soon be frolicking on the South Lawn? Mrs. Obama says the family is looking for a rescue Portuguese Water dog who is “old enough” and a “match” for the family dynamic. Temperamentally they’re supposed to be pretty good,” she says of the breed that Sen. Ted Kennedy has also lobbied for (he has two Water dogs of his own). “From the size perspective, they’re sort of middle of the road – it’s not small, but it’s not a huge dog. And the folks that we know who own them have raved about them. So that’s where we’re leaning.”

The only thing still up in the air is the name. And Mom’s not feeling it with some of the names her girls have come up with. “Oh, the names are really bad. I don’t even want to mention it, because there are names floating around and they’re bad,” Mrs. Obama says with a laugh. “You listen and you go – like, I think, Frank was one of them. Frank! Moose was another one of them. Moose. I said, well, what if the dog isn’t a moose? Moose. I’m like, no, come on, let’s work with the names a little bit.”

I got to meet two of Senator Kennedy’s dogs three years ago during a second tour at the White House with my Senate pal, Patty Kennedy. I had originally visited the US Senate in 2000, helping Patty with the publicity of her incredible book, Bailey Bymyside: Golden Lessons for Life (to see some of the lessons from the book, click here).

Senator Kennedy dogs were being walked by staff members as he was, of course, busy doing the people’s work. I was told that the Senator brought his dog to work about once a week. And, he brought a tennis racket as well so that he could hit balls for his dog to retrieve and bring back to him.

I hear that the Senator is currently convalescing in Florida, spending wonderful, warm days by the water with his beloved dogs by his side. But, he remains very busy communicating with staff by phone so that he can still guide his much desired health reforms to eventual passage.

The 2006 book, My Senator And Me: A Dog’s Eye View Of Washington, D.C., is a lovely children’s book that highlights his guy, Ch. Amigo’s Seventh Wave (nicknamed Splash). One gets to follow Senator Kennedy and Splash through a busy day in D.C., from press conferences to meetings with school groups to committee discussions to a floor vote.

Kennedy’s introduction to the political process is clear, informative, and loaded with child appeal, in part due to his choice of a furry narrator.

I went looking for some fun Portuguese Water Dog images and came up with this great one of Docker,  the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America’s 2007 Superdog Winner.

Am/Intl CH Floodtide's Meet Me At Dockside CD AX AXJ RE CWD GROM CGC "Docker"

Am/Intl CH Floodtide's Meet Me At Dockside CD AX AXJ RE CWD GROM CGC "Docker"

It actually reminded me of this 2006 photo of President Obama following his 50th town hall meeting in Massac County.

A true comic book lover and collector I hear, he had posed in front of the Superman Statue in downtown Metropolis, IL, known as the home of the DC Comics super hero.

And, in October 2008 Obama joked at the Al Smith dinner that was actually sent here from the planet Krypton by his father Jor-El to “save the planet Earth.

Eerily, given the current economic crisis and the need to manage two wars, I’d say that statement was pretty much on the mark.

Call me silly, but I LOVE these!

Malia and Sasha in their new inaugural coats

Malia & Sasha's new inaugural coats

Inspired by the First Family’s unique style, these i see spot “First Coats” are so charming. The lightweight Spring Coats feature extra soft fleece with satin buttons and ribbon trim. They are only sized for smaller dogs, though, with sizes for dogs with body lengths from 8″ to 19″ and approximate weights of 3 to 30 lbs.

At our Foundation’s Apparel Store, we have lots for folks to enjoy, to tickle their own fancy or to dress their dogs up in style. It seems that even a fun scarf on a dog can bring joy to others. Some dogs engage in Animal-Assisted Activities. Such activities, designed to strengthen someone’s quality of life, are typically performed by volunteers and are generally “meet and greet” activities. We have wonderful stretch scarves and tanks, many with great holiday themes. The i see spot quality is exceptional and they are the only ones we’ve found to be true to sizing, and to comfortably fit larger dogs such as Golden Retrievers.

Please let me know if you may be interested in this new “First Family” wear and I will order some to stock at the store.

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One of the foundation sponsors, i see spot, has donated some of their products to us to help with fundraising. For 20 years,i see spot’s parent company, L.A. SAM, INC., has been designing and manufacturing for the apparel industry. From successful adult contemporary lines to children’s clothing, L.A. SAM has built its reputation as a leader in quality garments made in the U.S.A. It is this experience, love of dogs, as well as the nine years of design collaboration between the company’s owners, Sandy Maroney and Sharon Bolger, that has inspired the newest L.A. SAM, INC. direction into the dog couture market.

In July of 2003, i see spot was launched, its ongoing success attributed most of all to quality. The fabrics are carefully chosen and designed with the comfort of the dog as the main priority.

A mutt like me

Senator Obama is featured in book about puppy mills, A Rare Breed of Love, with this photo of him holding Baby, the three-legged poodle rescued from an abusive puppy mill operation.

250px-obamaposter

An artist's support

This is an update to this post that I put up last month.

That is how PE Obama describes himself. And, it is why he wants to get a rescue to be the first Presidential pet. That had inspired artist, Shepard Fairey, responsible for a poster series supporting Barack Obama’s candidacy for President in 2008. Who can forget the iconic “HOPE” portrait? It was actually just acquired by the US National Portrait Gallery, and became part of the permanent collection, the gallery hoping to have the image on display by Obama’s Inauguration Day.

The day Obama stated his interest in adopting a dog from the shelter was a slightly brighter one for the approximately 7 million adoptable dogs & cats killed each year in this country. The staggering reality is that for each one sold at a pet store or by a breeder, another perfectly worthy one is killed.

Our nations shelters are filled to capacity with all kinds of amazing adoptable animals including, as Obama put it, “Mutts like me.”

On the heels of Obama’s comment, I got a call from Pia Salk, an animal advocate who works with North America’s largest non-profit pet adoption website, Adopt-a-Pet.com. Pia simply asked if I might be willing to collaborate on a way to have my art help these animals. I’m all for adopting from the shelter! My wife and I share our home with 2 pooches, George and Weezie, who is a rescue. They are the happy canine siblings to our 2 human daughters.

I have created a limited edition run of 400 signed and numbered silk-screen prints that will be available soon at MuttsLikeMe.com. The proceeds will go to getting the furry non-partisan U.S. residents, who share our country, saved and into homes. Shepard Fairey

Image fashioned after a mutt named Honey that artist had as a kid

Shepard Fairey, Time Magazine named “Icon Maker” of the year, has graciously used his talents to help our shelter pets! He has made an icon out of the American mutt, proving that every mutt is truly a masterpiece. You can help spread the word on behalf of the millions of furry U.S. ‘residents’ currently waiting to be adopted! There are downloads that are downright huge (so that you can post poster-size professional images) as well as code to add to your own personal websites.

Click here to get the image and spread it around.

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UPDATE: Shepard Fairey Sues Associated Press Over Obama Poster

Shepard Fairey, the visual artist who created the iconic “Hope” poster of Barack Obama, has filed suit against The Associated Press, according to court documents. Last week, The A.P. said in a statement that the poster, based on an A.P. photograph taken by Mannie Garcia in April 2006, requires its permission for use of the image, and that it is seeking credit and compensation for its use in Mr. Fairey’s works. In the suit, filed in United States District Court in New York, lawyers for Mr. Fairey are seeking a declaratory judgment which would rule that Mr. Fairey’s poster does not infringe on The A.P.’s copyrights and is protected by the Fair Use Doctrine. The complaint also seeks an injunction enjoining The A.P. from asserting its copyrights against Mr. Fairey, his company, Obey Giant, and anyone in possession of the poster or works derived from it, as well as a jury trial.

It is important to note that Shepard’s complaint also includes protecting anyone in possession of works derived from the Obama hope poster. That would actually include the Adopt poster above, which shows you how crazy the A.P. is being here.

For those George Clooney fans (who couldn’t be though), here is the original photo that was utilized for the poster that Shephard Fairey:


The Garden of Eatin’

1792: Construction on the White House – known first as the ‘President’s House” – begins on what had been a tobacco plantation.
1800: Construction is completed. President John Adams and First Lady Abigail Adams move into the White House as its first residents. Adams plants the first “First Vegetables” but is soon after voted out of office.
1801: Thomas Jefferson takes office, reaps where Adams sowed, and redesigns the garden plan adding a number of ornamental and fruit trees. It is worth noting that some of the first White House gardens, including Jefferson’s, were dug and tended by slaves.
1814: British troops set fire to the house, destroying its interior. Three years of reconstruction and renovations take place which include building the portico and painting the President’s House white.
1825: President John Quincy Adams plants fruit trees, herbs and vegetables to help support his own household.
1835: President Andrew Jackson builds an “orangery” for growing tropical fruit.
1857: Orangery is demolished and a full-scale greenhouse is built.
1902: Greenhouse is demolished and replaced by West Wing.
1918: President Wilson and First Lady Edith Wilson recruit a flock of sheep to mow and fertilize the First Lawn at a time when the country was trying to conserve resources – human, financial and fuel – for the war effort.
1943: First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt plants a large Victory Garden on White House lawn over the objections of the US Department of Agriculture inspiring millions of Americans by her example.

1954: President Dwight Eisenhower installs a putting green on White House lawn.
1979: President Jimmy Carter installs solar panels on the White House roof and tends an herb garden.

1981: President Ronald Reagan removes the solar panels and proposes that ketchup be considered a vegetable for public school lunches, a proposal that is lambasted by health officials and the media and quickly withdrawn.

1990: President George H. W. Bush declares the White House kitchen a “no broccoli zone.
1995: Chef Alice Waters writes to President Bill Clinton calling for organic gardens on the grounds of the White House and the Vice Presidential mansion. Clinton at one point responds “send me the seeds,” but soon after gets caught sowing his own wild oats in a scandal that becomes the dominant flavor of his second term of office.

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Edible landscapes for all: can you dig it? Yes, you can!

My hubby has planted an organic vegetable garden at our home since 1987, as well as several fruit trees. Our Golden Retrievers have loved it, of course, and often have taken to feeding themselves . . . or trying to dig up the spoils (such as sweet potatoes). The organic yield is unbelievable, but sadly, we are virtually the only home in the neighborhood that utilizes much of our small piece of land (1/3 acre) this way.

The future is going to be more fresh, juicy and delicious than a lot of us realize. That’s because edible landscapes are going to be more integrated into our yards, neighborhoods, towns, and cities in the future than they have in the recent past. To make this happen, though, more people need to be asking for and digging these landscapes. Here are a few things you can do to help:

1) Sign the “White House Food Garden Petitionwhich Eat The View will deliver to the Obamas along with a diverse collection of heirloom seed packets. Eat the View is the citizen-led campaign to plant a large Victory Garden on the White House lawn. (I signed already and it took virtually no time at all.)

2) Identify a landscape near you that you think should be “edible-ized”. Start with your own yard, neighborhood, or child’s schoolyard. You can also ask your elected officials at the state and local level to lead by example. The Governors of Maine, North Carolina & New York are already eating from gardens planted at their official residences.

3) Become a supporter (check out my forum profile page here). Also, grab some great photos or widgets to place on your own webpages and blogs. You can grab photos here and you can get some really cool widgets here. This is our favorite photo.

Learn more about gardening at Kitchen Gardeners International, a 501c3 nonprofit founded in Maine, USA with friends from around the world. Their mission is to empower individuals, families, and communities to achieve greater levels of food self-reliance through the promotion of kitchen gardening, home-cooking, and sustainable local food systems.

Obama loves Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” too

When I saw this on Saturday Night Live last year, I just could not believe it. It was just incredibly funny. Then, when I tried to show it here, via Youtube, it was taken down due to music copyright issues. Well, I found another one and also found out that our president loved it as well.

It’s clear that our President is the new cool, but nothing shows this more than his recent meet-and-greet with various celebs at the Lincoln Memorial following the star-studded “We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration” concert.

Captured on video by singer John Legend, the Obamas walked up to greet Beyoncé. Michelle Obama says, “Mr. President, you didn’t tell Beyonce about ‘Single Ladies’? Your rendition?”

“I’m not like Justin [Timberlake]” Obama says laughing, referring to Timberlake’s spoof of the video on Saturday Night Live. “I didn’t put on the outfit. …[But] I didn’t want my girls thinking that I couldn’t, you know…I got a lil something.”

He then does the infamous hand flip.

Check out the original SNL broadcast of “Single Ladies” with Beyoncé and Justin Timberlake.
Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Now, check out this Obama impersonator’s Beyoncé “Single Ladies” SPOOF.

How sad is this?

Senator Ted Kennedy laughs ahead of the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President on the West Front of the Capitol. (UPI Photo/Win McNamee/Pool)

U.S. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., collapsed and was taken from the luncheon at the Capitol marking the inauguration of Barack Obama as president.

ABC News reported Sen. Robert Byrd, D-WVa., was so upset he was removed form the luncheon as well.

The incident came before Congress presented Obama and Vice President Joe Biden crystal balls and photographs of the inauguration commemorating their ascension to office.

ABC initially said Kennedy, who has been battling brain cancer, suffered convulsions.

A Mutt Like Me

Senator Obama is featured in book about puppy mills, A Rare Breed of Love, with this photo of him holding Baby, the three-legged poodle rescued from an abusive puppy mill operation.

250px-obamaposter

An artist's support

That is how PE Obama describes himself. And, it is why he wants to get a rescue to be the first Presidential pet. That has inspired artist, Shepard Fairey, responsible for a poster series supporting Barack Obama’s candidacy for President in 2008. Who can forget the iconic “HOPE” portrait? It was actually just acquired by the US National Portrait Gallery, and became part of the permanent collection, the gallery hoping to have the image on display by Obama’s Inauguration Day.

The day Obama stated his interest in adopting a dog from the shelter was a slightly brighter one for the approximately 7 million adoptable dogs & cats killed each year in this country. The staggering reality is that for each one sold at a pet store or by a breeder, another perfectly worthy one is killed.

Our nations shelters are filled to capacity with all kinds of amazing adoptable animals including, as Obama put it, “Mutts like me.”

On the heels of Obama’s comment, I got a call from Pia Salk, an animal advocate who works with North America’s largest non-profit pet adoption website, Adopt-a-Pet.com. Pia simply asked if I might be willing to collaborate on a way to have my art help these animals. I’m all for adopting from the shelter! My wife and I share our home with 2 pooches, George and Weezie, who is a rescue. They are the happy canine siblings to our 2 human daughters.

I have created a limited edition run of 400 signed and numbered silk-screen prints that will be available soon at MuttsLikeMe.com. The proceeds will go to getting the furry non-partisan U.S. residents, who share our country, saved and into homes.  Shepard Fairey

Image fashioned after a mutt named Honey that artist had as a kid

Shepard Fairey, Time Magazine named “Icon Maker” of the year, has graciously used his talents to help our shelter pets! He has made an icon out of the American mutt, proving that every mutt is truly a masterpiece. You can help spread the word on behalf of the millions of furry U.S. ‘residents’ currently waiting to be adopted! There are downloads that are downright huge (so that you can post poster-size professional images) as well as code to add to your own personal websites.

Click here to get the image and spread it around.