Last week, I started watching the new show Fosse/Verdon, a series about Bob Fosse and his wife, Gwen Verdon. Ever since I saw the 1979 film, All That Jazz, I’ve been a fan of this famous Broadway duo. I also remember watching the 1985 film, A Chorus Line, in which their daughter, Nicole Fosse, starred. All That Jazz was based on Bob Fosse’s life; the movie, which starred Roy Scheider as Broadway choreographer Joe Gideon, ended with the protagonist’s rather surreal death, although Fosse lived until 1987.
The first time I saw Gwen Verdon dance was on the old 1980s TV show Fame, based on the film of the same name. Gwen Verdon was a guest star, and she and Debbie Allen did a number. I gotta say, as talented as Debbie Allen is, I was left kind of awestruck by Verdon, who even in older later years danced like a dream.
I am not myself a dancer. My eldest sister got those genes and she was pretty good at cutting the rug– especially in ballet. Thanks to her involvement in dance, I was often dragged to ballets and other cultural shit when I was a kid. I developed an appreciation for it, even if I am myself somewhat unrefined about some things. Still, as I watched the first video in this post, I was kind of wondering what made Paul Simon come up with those sunny lyrics. Although I don’t know for certain, I kind of get the impression that maybe it was the green, green “grass” that has inspired so many artists over the years. Or maybe he was just high on life.
Listening to Simon’s lyrics, coupled with the strange “Dr. Suess-esque” set and Verdon’s own impossibly fluid dancing, makes me think the world would be a better place if more people enjoyed a little weed. On the other hand, it’s entirely possible that this number was inspired by the weirdness that was the 1970s. I only remember the mid to latter years of that decade myself, but to me, it was a magical time… probably because I was a little kid with no responsibilities.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I smoke weed myself. I’ve actually only tried it once, and that was in June 2015, when we visited Haarlem, in the Netherlands. Marijuana is legal in the Netherlands, so it was a prime chance for me to see what all the fuss was about. While I’ve heard that some people don’t like pot, I found it kind of relaxing and fun. It definitely made the drive back to Germany less dull. I think I could use another trip to Haarlem, not just for marijuana, but also because it’s just a really nice little city that manages to be quaint even though it sits next to Amsterdam. I had decided to stay there based on Rick Steves’ advice and several of Bill’s Dutch colleagues congratulated me for that. Apparently, Haarlem is one of the better kept secrets to visiting Amsterdam, which I found expensive, overwhelming, and not all that charming.
Anyway… watching Verdon’s floaty dance moves in her pink outfit, looking like she stumbled into Dr. Seuss’s world as she flitted and flowed to Paul Simon’s “groovy” lyrics made me wonder what inspired that number. And my thoughts about potential drug inferences might have come from Desperate Housewives, and a memorable scene set to “Feelin’ Groovy” as Lynette Scavo tries to deal with the chaos of dealing with four, young, very active little kids. A little better living through chemistry… quite tempting when things get crazy. Obviously, I wasn’t the only one who got the connection.
I actually meant to write about politics this morning. I’ll probably get around to it, after I pull the sheets out of the dryer. But anyway, I like Fosse/Verdon. Michelle Williams does a great job as Gwen Verdon and has come a long way from Dawson’s Creek. Watching FX’s new show reminded me of how lovely Gwen Verdon was and seeing that clip from the Carol Burnett Show was a treat this morning. It kind of makes me wish I’d taken some dance lessons myself.