A Round of Applause for 365 American Joy-Givers in 2021: The Playful, Positivity Birthday Party

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Gazpacho (Dana Gallagher/www.marthastewart.com)

The playful “pop-up party tent” is designed by the artist many critics believe to be “The Greatest Architect of Our Time,” Frank Gehry. He was inspired by a Dr. Seuss drawing of the tilted, stovepipe chapeau of “The Cat in the Hat.”

Typical of Gehry’s most-acclaimed buildings, like the titanium-clad “sails” of the Guggenheim Bilbao museum (Spain) and Walt Disney Concert Hall (Los Angeles) the angles are wonky, and the materials are common yet not commonly used in great design; the results are positively delightful. In this case, our party venue is made from the knitted pigskin of thousands of repurposed footballs.

The place settings are equipped with a working telephone for each birthday celebrant. Should anyone want more ice in their drink or more “buttah” for their “Dinah” rolls, all they need to do is give a little call to the servers.

Join us…

You sense the joy the minute you walk into the cat’s tall hat. HOORAY FOR THE JOY-GIVERS! (Note: The comments attributed to these famous joy-givers come from words they have written or said.)

Please give A ROUND OF APPLAUSE for these American joy-givers celebrating a birthday this week:

Feb 27—MARIAN ANDERSON, the operatic contralto has performed in major concert and recital halls around the world, often serving as an American cultural ambassadress. Her most famous concert venue was the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. on Easter Sunday, 1939 to an open audience of 75,000 and LIVE to millions in a nationally broadcast radio audience. She is a recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Feb 28—FRANK GEHRY (born Frank Owen Goldenberg), many, including Vanity Fair, consider him the most important architect working today. The Canadian-American will be 92 this week. His alchemy of turning “everyday” materials like corrugated steel, raw plywood and chain-link fencing into wondrous struction, makes him a top international “starchitect.”

March 1—DINAH SHORE, born Fannye Rose Shore in Winchester, Tennessee, the Russian-Jewish-American singer, actress and television personality was the top-charting female vocalist of the 1940s. She had 80 popular song hits from 1940-1957 and enjoyed even greater fame with four decades of television stardom. Many reading these words: “See the USA in a Chevrolet” will now have an ear bug and can hum the catchy tune. The rest of you should YouTube “The Dinah Shore Show,” and that happy jingle to add some bouncy joy to your week.

March 2—DR. SEUSS, (born Theodor Seuss Geisel) a children’s book author, political cartoonist, illustrator, poet, animator and filmmaker. He wrote and illustrated more than 60 books which have sold more than 600 million copies and have been transformed into 11 television specials, five feature films, a Broadway musical and four television series. His birthday has been adopted as the annual date for National Read Across America Day, an initiative on reading created by the National Education Association.

March 3—ALEXANDER GRAHAM BELL, a Scottish-American inventor, scientist and engineer credited with inventing and patenting the first, practical telephone. He also co-founded AT&T. Both his mother and wife were deaf, which greatly influenced his life’s work. At birth, he wasn’t given a middle name, but his father, Professor Alexander Melville Bell, allowed “Aleck” to choose one as an 11th birthday gift. “Graham” was a beloved patient of Professor Bell’s. Everyone still just called him “Aleck.”

March 4—KNUTE ROCKNE, a Norwegian-American football player and one of the greatest college football coaches (University of Notre Dame) in the history of the American game. He was born in Voss, Norway where his dad was a blacksmith and wagonmaker. The younger Rockne helped popularize the forward pass and molded the “Notre Dame Fighting Irish” into a football juggernaut. If you’re reading this and don’t know the phrase, “Win one for the Gipper,” please put down your reading for a moment and add the 1940 film, “Knute Rockne: All-American,” to your “must-see” queue.

March 5—EVA MENDES, Cuban-American actress, model and business leader (born Eva de la Caridad Mendez) has starred in many blockbuster films, from thrillers to rom-coms.

COMMENTS OVERHEARD at “The Playful, Positivity Birthday Party” for American joy-givers:

“Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!”—Dr. Seuss

“When one door closes, another opens, but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”—Alexander Graham Bell

“Courage means being afraid to do something, but still doing it.”—Knute Rockne

“I love being naked. I do everything in the nude, even the gardening! I’m Cuban, and it’s a hot island. Why not?”—Eva Mendes

“When I sing, I don’t want the audience to see that my face is black; I don’t want them to see that my face is white. I want them to see my soul. And that is colorless.”—Marian Anderson

“Your best work is your expression of yourself. Now, you may not be the greatest at it, but when you do it, you’re the only expert.”—Frank Gehry

“When I was 4 or 5, my father had a general store in Winchester, Tennessee, and I don’t think the farmers were allowed to leave on Saturday afternoon until I had been placed up on the counter to sing.”—Dinah Shore

“When something bad happens, you have three choices: You can either let it define you, let it destroy you, or let it strengthen you.”—Dr. Seuss

“One day, every major city in America will have a telephone.”—Alexander Graham Bell

“I found that prayers work best when you have big players.”—Knute Rockne

“I have full faith in people. I think we have the ability to change. We’re habitual creatures. Once we figure out some bad habit and identify it, we can change that habit…it’s doable.”—Eva Mendes

“When you stop having dreams and ideals—well, you might as well stop altogether.”—Marian Anderson

“You have to find your signature. When you find it, you’re the only expert on it. People can say they like it or don’t like it. They can argue about it, but it’s yours.”—Frank Gehry

“I’d like people to remember that whatever I did, I did with all my heart.”—Dinah Shore

“You have to be odd to be number one.”—Dr. Seuss

“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”—Dr. Seuss

“Leave the beaten path behind occasionally and dive into the woods. Every time you do you will be certain to find something you have never seen before.”—Alexander Graham Bell

“Leaders are like eagles…they don’t flock. You’ll find them one at a time.”—Knute Rockne

“There’s something very romantic to me about people who persevere, who get told ‘No, no, no’ on a daily basis, and still do it anyway.”—Eva Mendes

“I owe everything—my success and happiness—to men.”—Dinah Shore

“It’s fun to be a woman. It’s fun to flirt and wear makeup and have boobs.”—Eva Mendes

“Creativity is about play and a kind of willingness to go with your intuition. It’s crucial to an artist. If you know where you are going and what you are going to do, why do it?”—Frank Gehry

“If you get a chance, take it. If it changes you, let it. Nobody said it’d be easy, they just promised you it would be worth it.”—Dr. Seuss

“If you have a purpose to which you believe, there’s no end to the amount of things you can accomplish.”—Marian Anderson

“Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.”—Dr. Seuss

“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought into focus.”—Alexander Graham Bell

“Make the present good and the past will take care of itself.”—Knute Rockne

“You can lose a lot of time hating people.”—Marian Anderson

“I never wanted to set the world on fire. So I never had to burn any bridges behind me.”—Dinah Shore

“You have to be optimistic. I still have doubts and conflicts, but the bottom line is, I believe in the future…You’ve got to bumble forward into the unknown.”—Frank Gehry

“There is no need to continue unless you are improving.”—Knute Rockne

 

PARTY MENU for “The Playful, Positivity Birthday Party:”

First, here’s another quote from Mendes:

“I don’t cook; I respect food too much.” If you DO COOK, the links will take you to recipes. Plus, here’s a NO-COOK, CUBAN GAZPACHO recipe Mendes could concoct in the nude donning just a “splash guard” acrylic apron.

SALAD—Frank Gehry Architecturally Stacked Tomato and Burrata Salad (allrecipes.com)

SOUP—Eva Mendes Gazpacho (see below)

ENTRÉE—Alexander Graham Stuffed Bell Peppers (delishcravings.com)

BREAD—Golden “Dinah” Rolls (tasteofhome.com)

BEVERAGE—Dr. Seuss “Cat in the Hat” Mocktails (3boysandadog.com)

DESSERT—Knute Rockne Pannekaken “Norwegian Pancakes” (allrecipes.com); these crepes served with Marian Anderson Pennsylvania Lingonberry Jam (allrecipes.com)

 

MUSICAL ENTERTAINMENT

After Anderson agrees to perform her magnificent version of “My Country ‘tis of Thee” for these American joy-givers, Shore joins her for some glorious spirituals they both know: “My Lord What a Morning,” “Deep River” and all joined them for a joyous sing-along of “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.”

ONE TO GROW ON

A great, new-ish biography for you to learn more about his boundless creativity, is “BECOMING DR. SEUSS: Theodor Geisel and the Making of an American Imagination” by Brian Jay Jones (Dutton Publishing, 2019).

Seuss puts a bow on “The Playful, Positivity Birthday Party” with these words: “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind…Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”

 

EVA MENDES’ GAZPACHO

(adapted from MarthaStewart.com)

Even Mendes, who doesn’t cook, could prepare this easy and deliciosa chilled soup. Serves 5 cups.

Ingredients

  • 1 slice sandwich bread, crust removed, torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
  • 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, and more for drizzling
  • 2 lbs. red, heirloom, vine or beefsteak tomatoes, cored and chopped (6 cups)
  • 1 small clove garlic, smashed
  • 1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 tbsp. sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions

  1. In a blender, combine bread, orange juice and oil. Let stand until bread is soft, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add tomatoes, garlic, bell pepper, onion, vinegar, cumin, 1 tbsp. salt and w/4 tsp. pepper. Puree until silky and smooth, 2-3 minutes.
  3. Refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours, or in an airtight container, up to 3 days.
  4. Season with more salt and pepper, drizzle with oil; serve.

You could garnish with chopped egg and tuna/sardines or diced, cured ham.

 

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Ben South