Liz Smith: What Matters Most? Barbra Streisand, Natch.

And more from our Liz: Janet Jackson conquers Europe … Madonna as a “female force?” … shout-outs to Kirstie Alley and New York’s Governor Cuomo

“I THINK men are afraid to be with a successful woman, because we are terribly strong. We know what we want and we are not fragile enough.”

So said the great singer, Dame Shirley Bassey, who still sounds exactly as she did when she belted out “Goldfinger” in 1965.

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EVEN BARBRA Streisand has to wait. Honest. The great star has paused for decades to finally put out an album of music with lyrics written exclusively by her longtime friends and collaborators, Alan and Marilyn Bergman.

On August 23rd Barbra releases “What Matters Most,” personally produced by the star herself. Fans will find ten Bergman songs that Streisand has never recorded before, including “The Windmills of Your Mind,” “So Many Stars” and one of Frank Sinatra’s signature, swinging songs, “Nice and Easy.” The deluxe version of the CD includes ten previously released Barbra/Bergman tunes. Among them —“You Don’t Bring Me Flowers”…”Pieces of Dreams”…”Papa, Can You Hear Me” (from “Yentl.”)

This album is sure to be great, although I don’t think anything can touch the purity of her live performance two years ago at The Village Vanguard which resulted in the “One Night Only” album. Smooth, silky perfection — with a four-piece band!

Oh, and just so you know that Barbra still matters — a lot — “What Matters Most” is already # 2 in Vocal Pop Bestsellers on Amazon.

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JANET JACKSON is tearing up Europe with her “Number Ones: Up Close and Personal” tour. After her stint at the famed Olympia Music Hall in Paris, the critics raved “Janet Sets Paris On Fire!”

Apparently, this was just the review to set Janet on the road to purchase property in the City of Light. Actually, Janet has been scoping out properties in every city she’s hit. Including London, where she’s sold out at the Royal Albert Hall.

Miss Jackson is my very favorite Jackson.

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MADONNA IS glam and calm these days, as the debut of her movie “W.E.” approaches. She has also rarely looked more attractive. (I think she’s sneaking a cheeseburger now and then.)

But M as a power-woman who changed the face of pop music and the way in which women perceive themselves has not been forgotten. In August we will see “Female Force: Madonna.” It is a comic book that focuses on M’s rise to the heights. This publication by Bluewater follows similar comic books on Hillary Clinton, Ellen DeGeneres, Oprah and … Sarah Palin.

Now don’t laugh too much. Remember the old Classic Illustrated comic books, which condensed great literature such as “A Tale of Two Cities” and “The Iliad?” Why not Madonna — are those not the biceps that launched a billion dollars?

* * *

I’VE BEEN late in sending a shout out to Kirstie Alley, who is looking so terrific these days.

Nature did not intend Kirstie to be a thin girl. And except for periods when she really put on weight (and was photographed to make her appear bigger) she always looked attractive. And whether she felt comfortable when zaftig, she seemed to be. She’s a tall woman and carries her pounds rather majestically. But to hell with majestic, Kirstie wanted to get out of caftans and into some smart designer clothes. She’s been up and down numerous times, but her “Dancing With the Stars” gig jumpstarted a diet/ exercise regimen to which she seems to sticking.

Now Kirstie appears to be at the perfect weight. Not so thin that it is impossible to maintain. Or so thin that her face suffers. She is a voluptuous stunner with attitude, still tossing that tawny mane of hair.

Now, get back on TV or into movies, honey!  You’ve been missed.

* * *

Having lived in New York since September, 1949, only a few years after the end of World War II, I have observed the city and state in many cataclysms of change. None, may I say, is greater than the cultural alterations taking place among gay people.

Come July, legal same sex marriages will increase to the point of a $300 million revenue for marriage licenses among persons of the same sex. Only Tea Party-ers and the fadingly less influential Catholic Church keep protesting this fair-minded progress.

I never thought I’d see the day. I salute Governor Cuomo and his many supporters. It is just great to feel that New York State is leading the charge for change.


6 Responses so far.

  1. avatar mary burdt says:

    Dear Liz, I have never been to New York, although I have always wanted to visit the City. Since 9/11 I have been obsessed with the Big Apple and all of its hustle bustle coming to a tragic halt as the planes the Towers. The resilience of New Yorkers was seen on every TV throughout the Nation. I was so very proud of the people coming together to help one another through this horrific time.

    Now, once again, New Yorkers have made me proud. Gov. Cuomo and his supporters and all the gay and lesbian couples have made the dreams of so many finally come true.

    Congrats to all of you. Two thumbs up!!!

  2. avatar sevillomatic says:

    NY once again shows why it is the center of the civilized world. Pay attention, the rest of you.

    • avatar KarenR says:

      YOU pay attention – New York isn’t the first state (not even the second or third) to recognize gay marriage.

  3. avatar Deirdre Cerasa says:

    I am among the many who have already ordered Barbra’s new cd. Can’t wait for August 23rd! I also have the Village Vanguard perfomance on dvd and the Love is the Answer cd. Just wonderful music. She is the best, then, now and always!
    KarenR, You are so right! New York is the 6th state to allow same sex marriage. I believe Massachusetts was first. I applaud Gov. Cuomo and the legislature of New York. Now onward to the rest of the United States. This is long past due. For me this is a simple matter, people love who they love and should have the right to marry or not. I have seen this several times over the past few days: “If you don’t like gay people, tell the straight people to stop having gay babies.”

  4. avatar Richard Bassett says:

    New York is a pretty liberal state to begin with and Cuomo’s America, as well as all worldwide & other USA constituents, so  the topic isn’t a whole new change in philosophy that has just popped up. The pulse has been on this issue for several years now, with our judicial system knowing exactly what we are all be facing. Moral issues, religious toleranence, fear of the unknown and ‘be careful what you wish for’ as well as, handing your government more power, and damaging the children These are but a few of topics that must be addressed before signing a document making it ‘all legal’. Because we are such a melting pot of lifestyles/ society and cultures, the majority of our citizens ruled quite a lot (not all) of this. With international success, along with a handful US of states, history has told us that we can only move forward, not backwards. Tolerance, understanding, education and awareness must be brought to all of citizens. Our attention can focus on those who have decided that living 30 years is enough, throwing caution to the wind or be reinstalled to people who even believe that they KNOW what they dealing with while being kept up on advances…and why. Ah, so simple (for a child) to be given easy bake ovens and Tonka toys for Christmas presents, instead of the generic specific toys that we buy today. Financial issues, social and family rejection and invisibility are what we are left holding the bag with. Remember, we can only go forward…not retreat and allow only ‘time’ to do all of its work. We’ve done it with Stonewall and with AIDS…we should be proficient allowing the platform (not to agreement or disagreement) to exist. We are living in the beginning of the world of transition, unfortunately, not the end it. We must give voice to those who are tongue tied. They know what they want to say, but do not know how to say. As an advocate for many issues on equality, I will be at the front lines. God, I already am.
              Boy, times have changed and Barbra is finally out of seclusion and moving with her career. Well, of course she is. She’s almost 70 and is out and about more so people do not think that she is fading away. Her fan base is getting up there in age too. I think that she should start bringing flowers to them. It must be hard to be passed over due to age. I think that there was a line of Sex and The City (though it can be applied, even more so, in Los Angeles. Samantha says, “New York can be a very unsympathetic city when one reaches a creation ago”   This is very, very true in Los Angeles; “I jumped into the city at 19, and left at 31”. I did my time. I did have the fun a twenty something person could have had”. I couldn’t repeat it. Norma Desmond, I am not.
               Last, Kirstie Ally…please pick a weight and stay with it. She has gone up and down (due to the press as well) too much. She was been addicted to cocaine at one time (at least she was thin). Now, she is a walking diet. She just doesn’t gain and loose 5 or 10 pounds. She gains 70 or 80 pounds, all then gets all the attention for all the weight she’s lost. She is now 60 and these diets do not work on our metabolism. What is her goal? Being 120 pounds at 70? But as long as there is a Kirstie, they’ll be a topic of conversation. He will not age gracefully. You can detect that just by she’s been living her life.

  5. avatar Mr. Wow says:

    Dear Richard…

    Yes, Barbra’s fan base is “up there.”  I’m one of them.  If she ever gives another concert, I’ll take this creaky old body to wherever she’s playing, and applaud.  (Carefully, so as not to break any bones)   Maybe you’ll help me to my seat, sonny. 

    Much love and happy 4th of July, but now I have to get back to reading the latest issue of AARP magazine.