posted 05/16/03 12:06 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
...finally found a PC! I'm here a few hours before the Centenary celebration officially kicks off, so I'm perusing all the neat memorabilia and chatting w/Stephanie, the curator here - she's an absolute doll!!!
I was able to attend a pre-preview last night of the new documentary put together by the Spokane PBS station - it'll be officially unveiled today and I'm trying to find how non-Spokanites can purchase it - when I find out, I'll share the information - it's a nice little one-hour show that I think would be GREAT to see on all local PBS stations.
Buddy Bregman is here, as is Will Friedwald, Gary Giddins, Ken Barnes, Barry Stapleton of the Irish Music Archives, Malcolm and Michael from UK/ICC...Mrs C is here...some Crosby nephews are here (Hi, Howard! - and younger brother Ed) -
There will be souveniers for sale on the Gonzaga bookstore website probably a few days to a week after the event.
It's cool and crisp here, but sunny right now.
Some of the items I've donated or loaned to GU are on display - it's fun being greeted by a big cardboard standee of Bing I've had since 1970 - it makes me feel like home!
More later, after I reconoiter with Sue Horn and Jane FitzGerald..and rumor has it that a 'Steven Lewis' will be here??? ;-)
judy in bing-land
posted 05/17/03 09:44 AM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
Brief Report on Day One:
Spokane is beautiful. It is one of the younger cities in the nation, and is a mixture of natural strength, and old and new styles. Some of the places here are probably similar to ho Bing remembered them, and others are completely different. Gonzaga truly reveres him, but in a fun way, one that I think would not bother him much. Walking up to the Student Center, which everyone here refers to simply as the Crosby, there is a wall painted gaily with graffitti reading 100 Happy Bingday, Ba-Da Bing! and other messages of the sort. Lee, the Statue is great, with only the pipe showing how new it is, the reast is nicely weathered. It seems that the pipe never lasts too long, one student or another takes it as a souvenir. All day, the library pipes Bing's music out over the campus, and it is so nice to walk under a clear blue sky hearing Bing!! The dedication ceremony was wonderful, with Gord A. presiding, and Katherine, the rector of the University, the Mayor of Spokane and Rich Little all saying a few words.
The bus tour of Spokane and Bing sites that we took earlier in the afternoon was fun, though the tour guide did talk to us at times as though we were a group of preschoolers. She also sometimes forgot that the focus was Bing, once even saying, "I got sidetracked back there telling you that stuff about Bing and forgot to point out that such-and-such is a historic site in Spokane." Poor woman, she should have realized that among our crowd, talking about Bing is not getting side-tracked!! Quite the contrary. It was nice to see the second Crosby family home, which is now the Alumni house on Gonzaga's campus, and the former locations of other important places in Bing's life. I'm sure Malcolm Macfarlane and Michael Crampton have gotten more information for the early days of Bing's life. They spent some hours at the local public library, noting appearances by the Musicaladers and other groups of which Bing was a part. Exciting stuff!! We also went to the newly restored Davenport Hotel, where Bing appeared with Al Rinker in the 30s. It is breathtaking, and it is where Mrs. Crosby and our Judy are staying! I'm on the 50-cent tour at the Fairfield Inn, but I have no complaints. More later, including how nice it is to meet some old friends in person finally, including Ben and Sue Weaver, the Hunts and our own fearless leader, Steven Lewis!! I have pictures to share. We've taken a few especially for Carmella. Someone is looking out for Wendy as well. Wish all of you were here.
Off to sram as much as I can into Day 2!!
posted 05/18/03 09:45 AM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
Brief Report on Day 2:
It was a good day, and a very full one. The day opened up with a wonderful documentary on Bing's life with a lot of footage I'd never seen before from his early days. It is narrated by Rich Little, and it is excellent. Seeing the images of Spokane and Gonzaga as they were when Bing knew them compared to the sites we see today was a real treat. It is available to people sponsoring the local PBS station here in Spokane for a pledge of USD 60, but Judy and the organizers of this event are determining how to make it available to other parts of the country as well. I hope a lot of people get to watch and acquire this film, because it was wonderful.
Mrs. Crosby and Buddy Bregman did a brief talk in the University Chapel, which is in the administrative building. Katherine read snippets from her latest book as well as from her prior volume, and Budy accompanied her ably on the piano and told of some of his memories of Bing and the Crosby family. Those who were at Hofstra will have heard these anecdotes already, but the setting at Gonzaga is more intimate.
There was a signing of books by Mrs. Crosby and Gord Atkinson, whose 10-CD set of interviews of Bing and others important to his life over the years (there will be 4 more CDs before the series is done) is a great resource for things that I for one was not familiar with beforehand. I love to hear Bing talking about almost anything, and his rapport with Gord is palpable.
Howard did a noon tribute to his uncle, singing many of Bing's old standards. It was a heartfelt performance, and my favorite part was singing along with some of the Irish tunes. There's no one like Bing, and I appreciate the amazing talent of our favorite singer more and more. He made it sound easy to deliver all of those different songs.
Gary Giddins gave an excellent talk on Bing's contribution to technology in radio and television. He was a bit taken aback when he realized he'd said "damn" in church when quoting a Bing story, but as he said, he'd never been asked to give an academic talk in a chapel before! This was followed by a fascinating panel where Ken Barnes, Will Friedwald, Gary Giddins, Buddy Bregman, Rich Little and Gord Atkinson shared their collective wisdom and insights on Bing. Many of those in the audience were local folks, whose knowledge was somewhat less than those of us who are diehards, and it is good to see that there is a lot of interest out there for things Bing.
One interesting thing was the fact that many newspapers do consider Bing's centenary to be in 2004, per his gravestone and other sources. So we really might see more of an outpouring of interest in him over the next year!
The banquet was nice. We were allowed to sit where we wanted for the most part (at Hofstra, the seating arrangment was fixed so that you sat with others you didn't know to mix better). Rich Little was very funny and shared some nice stories about his interactions with Bing. Frank Sinatra Jr. spoke as well of his admiration and his father's for Bing. Another one who was raised right, I'll tell you, like Rosemary Clooney's son who spoke at Hofstra. It's nice to see people who don't have to come out and talk about Bing do so.
So many of the stories shared are little incidents showing how Bing cared about the unfamous in his life. Small acts of kindness that he would rpbably hate our recounting but which help us get a handle on thisman.
posted 05/19/03 10:42 AM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
Brief Report on Day 3:
I have to check out in a few minutes, so this will really be brief. This conference was great. I loved getting a chance to talk to Malcolm Macfarlane and his wife, Michael Crampton and his wife, Dick Heaney, Judy Schmid, Jane Fitzpatrick and many of the others I'd met at the Hofstra event. I also got to meet Hobie and Cathy Wilson, of the Bing Friends and Collectors Society, Gord Atkinson, as well as Steven Lewis of this wonderful board. I missed some of those who went to the last event and weren't here, Arne Fogel, Jim Kukura (who I'm sure would have loved this event, just being in the church where Bing was an altar boy and grew up), Wig and Laura Wiggins, George O'Reilly, Carmela and Carol, Greg VB and his dad, to name a few. I was also disappointed that Phil Crosby couldn't come (though I did meet some other members of the Crosby clan, including Phil's son Phil), because I'd really wanted to meet him. The same is true of Wayne Martin, who I thought would be here too.
Because this event was a smaller afair, and because Gonzaga does admire Bing so, the whole atmosphere was more intimate, and it was easy to mix with the speakers and get to know everyone a bit better. I got to trade quips with Buddy Bregman and Rich Little (who really had everyone in stitches every time he talked), heard many new stories from Mrs. Crosby and other friends and family members, and I even got to have a really interesting talk with Gary Giddins at the Davenport Hotel after the event was over, with Judy, Jane, Karen and Steven. I really hope that he can get his second book done soon, and once again pledge my support in any way that might be useful.
The thrid day's events were great. Mass said by the President of Gonzaga at St. Al's, Bing's old church. After that, Gord Atkinson presented film clips of the first dedication ceremony of the Bing statue. Rich Litle followed with his filmed tribute to Bing. After the wonderful film, which included Rich doing both parts of the Well, Did You Evah? routine and Bing doing a mean Carol Channing immitation, Rich stood up and kept us laughing for another 15 minutes with his wonderful sel-deprecating humor.
Gary Giddins' talk on Bing the Catholic and Bing and Spokane was masterful as always. I'm amazed at the amount of information he has at his disposal and how naturally he can assemble it for presentation to different audiences. At one point (we were int he chapel again), Gary was emphasizing how unassuming and modest Bing was and he said, "Here Bing was God, and... (looking heavenward), Well, I don't mean that literally..." I learned a lot during that presentation as well as all the others.
I'm getting kicked out of my room now, so the rest will have to come later. I just want to thank Judy and everyone at Gonzaga who worked so hard to make this event come out as well as it did. Kudos to all concerned.
posted 05/19/03 08:34 PM Central Time (US) contact the author directly
Hi - I just got home a bit ago - had to distribute souveniers, toss laundry in the hamper..and eat some ice cream...just felt like I needed to cool down!
My head is still spinning, my heart is full (and yet a little achey), and my wallet is empty (ha!)...last evening's final cocktail hour with my friend Karen (we were in the military together back in '77 as PR specialists/photojournalists and we watched Bing's final Christmas show together), my semi-new friends Jane and Sue, my REALLY new friend Steven (yes, he's real!)..and Gary G, funny, amazingly bright, warm....well, it was wonderful.
I ate dinner w/some of the 'team members' last night as a final wrap-up to the event...Eileen and her great husband Ken, our shuttle-man...Stephanie and her charming husband Gary...Mrs C...Mr and Mrs Malcolm...Mr and Mrs Gord... Rich ... Buddy....Mrs and Mrs Ken Barnes...Gary G...oh, and me at the end (at the kids' table!)...got to my room and semi-packed at 2AM...up at 4AM to catch a shuttle to the airport...
I can't believe the party is over...I mean, I really didn't meet all the Crosby cousins...and I didn't chat w/all the fellow fans...but I saw Bing's Oscar..his gold records...the church where he was an altar boy...his boyhood home...lord...it was glorious...
Keep your eyes posted for photos, right, Steven? We'll all send them to you for sharing with our friends here. Hopefully we'll get those celebrity letters, written by folks who knew Bing and admired him, copied for here and/or the magazines.
Thanks to everyone who gave me great advice when we were planning and fundraising and writing and lobbying...whew!
judy, breathless in syracuse