Thursday, June 19, 2014

Had a Ball @ The Gov

Two weeks ago I embarked on a journey where I experienced more emotions than 30,000 screaming girls at a Beatles concert.
Mac, Abby & Annie - Randall's Island, NYC
I took four teenagers/young adults to New York City where they attended a 3-day music festival called The Governor's Ball, held in the middle of NYC on Randall's Island. The venue seemed a little Woodstock-y, it is a city park which is also the location of the all important Psychiatric Treatment Center, which in retrospect may have been a good drop off for me during this adventure. The range of emotions that I experienced on this rocky road (and sadly innocent bystanders experienced as well) went from excitement and glee to terror & rage to warmth & satisfaction but mainly pure happiness. 
Abby at GovBall NYC '14

The Governor's Ball is one fat cat festival. It showcases the talents of many NYC acts, but was largely compiled of the hippest musicians in today's alternative, rap & rock genres, such as Jack White, Vampire Weekend, Foster the People, The Strokes & about 60 others. My daughter, Abby (17,) along with my dearest Annie (19) & Mac (18), and Mac's friend, Clint (20) were escorted to NYC to see musicians that they've been drooling over for months. We loaded our vehicle down with snacks & supplies and in a very nonchalant, mid-western manner, trucked down the highway from Wonderland to Crazyland.
As we plodded onto the interstate at 3 a.m., the kiddos snuggled in for a long nap while I turned on a random, unmarked CD from my collection & was immediately comforted by the words of George Harrison ("Any Road" from CD/Brainwashed) ~ "I've been traveling on a boat and a plane; in a car on a bike; with a bus and a train; traveling there, traveling here; everywhere in every gear."

View from RFK Bridge - pic by Clint
The kids did a fine job of quickly becoming city-fied and learned to travel by bus, subway and hoof. Many times they trekked by foot over the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, which was somewhat treacherous and very long, but it rewarded them with a view that seemed like a postcard. 
In order to add another memory to the trip, we drove into Manhattan on Friday morning to enjoy a NYC walking tour, hosted by Susan Ryan, a New Yorker who conducts the historical tours. Not only does the walking tour take you past NYC historical sites, but also highlights the landmarks associated with The Beatles (Ed Sullivan Theatre, etc.) Even though my nerves were nearly completely severed, after enduring morning rush hour traffic from Queens (Astoria) to Manhattan (97th & Columbus,) we were delighted to greet Susan, along with Al Sussman, Executive Editor of Beatlefan Magazine & author of latest hit "Changin' Times: 101 Days That Shaped a Generation," and also Jackie Spencer, who conducts walking tours in Liverpool (Guided Tours of The Beatles Liverpool -
The tour began at Manny's music store which The Beatles frequented when in town & where Ringo acquired a drumkit that was used the following night on Ed Sullivan. Further down the way, we stumbled upon the Fox & Friends Live Friday Concert Series where musician "Daughtry" had just performed & we were just feet from the artist & the hosts of the show.

Imagine..... at Strawberry Fields, Central Park, NYC
The walking tour was magnificent & the kids were in awe of the city and sites. We really enjoyed The Plaza Hotel and Susan's commentary about the events that took place there for The Beatles and others. Some of the kids more beautiful pictures were taken inside this lovely hotel. We continued on to Central Park where we lovingly appreciated Strawberry Fields which honors the unforgettable John Lennon. Susan pointed out to us that you could see The Dakota apartment building from Strawberry Fields and this was a treasured place for John & his family. The last stop was in front of The Dakota where the Lennon's resided and where John was brutally murdered. Susan did a magnificent job of recalling events and allowing us to really understand the magnitude of this crime. I was not prepared, nor did I anticipate the great feeling of sadness that came over me while being in this sacred place where a beloved peacemaker's life was taken.
Abby & Lanea in front of The Dakota, R.I.P. John
If you are planning to be in NYC -- I highly recommend Susan's Fab 4 NYC Tour. It showcases much NYC history in addition to Beatles history. It is THIRD after Liverpool & London in terms of sites related to The Beatles (Yes, even more than Hamburg!)
If you can't roll into the Big Apple, you can order her DVD:

After the tour, the kids took 3 buses to get to their venue & they survived the day of "amazing music." I made plans to trek into Manhattan on Saturday to enjoy more sites with Susan & Al and went about my way. 
Upon waking on Saturday morning, I found that my cell phone, which had limped all the way to NYC, finally passed on. So I had another adventure of walking nearly 3 miles to a phone store in the "Little Egypt" section of Astoria, Queens. Matters became even more tricky when I found that I lost ALL phone numbers & trust me, I can't remember any phone numbers, so I was pretty shook. After this snag, I managed to get in touch with Susan & told her that I was completely spent and cancelled my trip into Manhattan. Lo and behold, Susan called back & announced that she & her husband, Jim, along with Al were going to drive to Queens and take me out for the day! Not only did I enjoy my first New York kosher deli meal, we had a private tour at Ft. Totten & I was officially introduced to the Lemon Ice King of Corona stand (which is shown in the credits of tv show "King of Queens." )
Al Sussman, Lanea, Jim & Susan Ryan in Corona, Queens
That ice was something to write home about, let me tell ya. How authentic I felt sitting in a small park in Corona, watching some neighborhood gentlemen play bocce, chatting with Susan & Al about The was magical. On the way back to the car, in almost a whisper, Susan's husband says that he could go for another Ice & it took Al & I about a tenth of a second to answer that we were in, too. Susan is a true Queens girl & she knows everything about Queens & New York. What she doesn't know, then her history genius husband will kindly offer.

(L to R: Mac, Clint, Annie, Abby & Lanea - having Lemon Ice King of Corona in Astoria (gasp)

Random observations from Gov Ball by Annie & Abby:

"Whole island stank of marijuana ~ Impressive bands..others were terrible ~ Fast Pace ~ Lots of drunk people ~ Buffalo Chicken Mac n Cheese & Grilled turkey Panini ~ a lot of walking & porta potties ~ Yayo ~ Nature pee ~ silent disco ~ Mom yelling at a port authority officer with Charles Manson eyes"

Fave shows: Foster the People, Fitz & the Tantrums, Phoenix, Tyler the Creator, Broken Bells, Wild Belle

Tyler the Creator, pic by Jac Mones (aka Mac Jones)

OutKast on Friday Night @ Gov Ball '14
(photo by Mac)
I generally don't like to post long blogs because everyone is short on reading time & it's been difficult for me to find time to share these memories. I thank you for making it to the end of my report & hope you enjoyed the recap of this very memorable trip. Being able to share the precious moments with those kids was absolutely priceless & while I may say "I'd do it again..." I am not certain that my nervous system would be up for the adventure.
Peace & Love,
Lanea Stagg

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Upcoming Gigs:

July 10 -  McCullough Library, Evansville - 6:00 pm
As part of the summer reading program, I will be giving a program for their summer book series pick: "The Supremes at Earl's All-You-Can Eat" by Edward Kelsey Moore - the book is delightful & the program will be de-licious. - check their event schedule & registration requirements

August 15-18  -  The Fest for Beatles Fans - Chicago, IL
 I will be giving some talks & food samples ...

September 19-20 - Beatles At The Ridge - Walnut Ridge, AR
Pleased to be participating in this fabulous fest!

Check out my latest article in News 4 U - July Issue  ~ about Country Music Artist Eric Paslay  who will be in Evansville July 12 and he's playing at the Indiana State Fair!


Ella Moyes said...

What an exciting trip you all had! Loved every word...almost like being there...with all the writing and seeing the cool pictures. A time to never be forgotten. Thanks everyone for a fun story of your adventures!!!

Lanea Stagg said...

Thank you Sweet Ella! It was really magnificent to share with the kids! I am still recovering from post-traumatic disorder ... takes me longer to bounce back than 10 years ago ;) See you in Chicago!

Katy B said...

How wonderful that you took this trip for the kids. They will look back on it happily forever. It's great you got to see friends, too! They sound like awesome hosts.

I drove a friend's husband and possessions to Buffalo, NY once in a 17' moving truck in snow once and trembled the whole way. One of those adventures you can only look back on and laugh. You're probably already doing the same, huh???

Susan Ryan said...

It was such a joy and a pleasure to show you around NYC, Lanea! Now, you know you have to come back at least 50 more times so that you can try all the flavors at the Lemon Ice King!! :)