Love Ever After – Portraits of Couples Who’ve Been Together Over 50 years
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Love Ever After – Portraits of Couples Who’ve Been Together Over 50 years
The beliefs, values, behavior, and material objects that constitute a people’s way of life.
Purchased, used, or accepted broadly rather than by a tiny fraction of a population or market; common, usual, or conventional.
Any culture whose values and lifestyles are opposed to those of the established mainstream culture, especially to western culture.
Modern American Marxist political groups are examples of countercultures — they promote a worldview and set of norms and values that are contrary to the dominant American system.
Counterculture is a sociological term used to describe the values and norms of behavior of a cultural group, or subculture, that run counter to those of the social mainstream of the day, the cultural equivalent of political opposition. Counterculture can also describe a group whose behavior deviates from the societal norm.
In the United States, the counterculture of the 1960s became identified with the rejection of conventional social norms of the 1950s. Counterculture youth rejected the cultural standards of their parents, especially with respect to racial segregation and initial widespread support for the Vietnam War.
As the 1960s progressed, widespread tensions developed in American society that tended to flow along generational lines regarding the war in Vietnam, race relations, sexual mores, women’s rights, traditional modes of authority, and a materialisticinterpretation of the American Dream. Hippies became the largest countercultural group in the United States. The counterculture also had access to a media eager to present their concerns to a wider public. Demonstrations for social justice created far-reaching changes affecting many aspects of society .
The counterculture in the United States lasted from roughly 1964 to 1973 — coinciding with America’s involvement in Vietnam — and reached its peak in 1967, the “Summer of Love. ” The movement divided the country: to some Americans, these attributes reflected American ideals of free speech, equality, world peace, and the pursuit of happiness; to others, the same attributes reflected a self-indulgent, pointlessly rebellious, unpatriotic, and destructive assault on America’s traditional moral order.
The counterculture collapsed circa 1973, and many have attributed its collapse to two major reasons: First, the most popular of its political goals — civil rights, civil liberties, gender equality, environmentalism, and the end of the Vietnam War — were accomplished. Second, a decline of idealism and hedonism occurred as many notable counterculture figures died, the rest settled into mainstream society and started their own families, and the “magic economy” of the 1960s gave way to the stagflation of the 1970s.
Source: Boundless. “Countercultures.” Boundless Sociology. Boundless, 03 Jul. 2014. Retrieved 29 Nov. 2014 from https://www.boundless.com/sociology/textbooks/boundless-sociology-textbook/culture-and-socialization-3/culture-worlds-32/countercultures-204-8929/
He Found His Cat Strangely Sitting On His Laptop But When He Figured Out Why… He Broke Into Tears.
Normally, cats and dogs don’t really care for each other. But Charlie and Scout aren’t like most cats and dogs. They’ve formed a loving bond from the first day they met and held it even after Charlie passed away. I’ll admit, when I first saw their pictures and read their story I got a little teary eyed. It’s just so beautiful and touching. See it for yourself, take a look below.
Need to recharge your flower power? Explore “The Sixties” all next week, Monday through Friday, August 18-22 at 9 p.m. on CNN.
(CNN) — Officially billed as The Woodstock Music and Art Fair, An Aquarian Exposition, the festival that came to be known, simply, as Woodstock is the stuff of legend.
Friday marks the 45th anniversary of Woodstock, which took place from August 15-18, 1969.
Woodstock didn’t take place in Woodstock, New York, but in Bethel, about 60 miles away.
“It was really called Woodstock because (festival co-creator) Mike Lang thought it had the right vibe,” Bob Spitz, journalist and author of “Barefoot in Babylon: The Creation of the Woodstock Music Festival, 1969″ told CNN.
“Woodstock was where Bob Dylan lived,” said Spitz, “It’s where The Band hung out and he just liked the whole feel of the word. No matter where they were gonna have it, it was always going to be the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. Everything about Woodstock has to do with the vibe.”
‘The Sixties’ all next week on CNN
60’s: Sex, Drugs & Rock N’ Roll
Max Yasgur provided Woodstock’s venue by leasing out his 600-acre dairy farm near the hamlet of White Lake in the Catskill Mountain community of Bethel, New York, 100 miles north of Manhattan.
The posters promised “3 Days of Peace & Music,” but the festival’s initial concept “depends on who you talk to,” said Spitz.
Lang and festival promoter Artie Kornfeld wanted to have a blowout that was “the biggest party the counterculture had ever seen,” said Spitz. “If you talk to their partners, John Roberts and Joel Rosenman, who were the money guys, it was to make a lot of money.”
For the crowd of 350,000 to 450,000 young people in attendance, Woodstock was all about peace and love, and that’s no myth.
“The entire Woodstock festival was peaceful and the kids were respectful because of one word: marijuana,” said Spitz. “Everybody was high. If it had been other drugs it would’ve been chaos. But because of dope and LSD, everything was peaceful there for those three days.”
Festival organizers who had been expecting a crowd of 80,000 to 100,000 people were blindsided when quadruple the crowd showed up. No one was prepared for a surplus of 300,000 people. With no system in place to charge them, Woodstock became a free event.
Cars within a five-mile radius were at a standstill. New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller declared a state of emergency in White Lake. By Woodstock’s second day, authorities publicly pleaded for anyone who might be on their way to the festival to turn around and go home. Eventually no one could get out or in unless they needed to be airlifted. Festival managers scrambled to fly in 30 extra physicians from New York City.
Santana vocalist Gregg Rolie spoke to CNN while promoting the Blu-ray release of the director’s cut of the 1970 Academy Award-winning documentary “Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace and Music.”
Rolie recalled arriving with the other members of Santana via helicopter.
“We flew in because everybody parked on the highway,” said Rolie. “It was kinda like ‘Close Encounters’ or ‘Field of Dreams,’ you know? ‘If you build it, they will come.’ The highways were closed. Upstate New York was like a parking lot. So we had to fly in on helicopters.”
Santana’s appearance is considered one of the festival highlights. The band played early on, before the first of two downpours that reduced Yasgur’s alfalfa field to a sloppy, slippery slew of mud puddles.
All of Santana’s music was new at the time and the band was virtually unknown. They had not yet released their first album. Woodstock is credited for jump starting Santana’s career.
“If you played at Woodstock, you had a career,” said Rolie, who had no idea that the festival’s legacy would resonate so powerfully 45 years later.
Woodstock’s lineup also included Joan Baez, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; Joe Cocker, Creedence Clearwater Revival and The Band, among others.
Jimi Hendrix closed the festival. By the time he began his Monday morning set, which included his celebrated rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the crowd had thinned out to 200,000. Many had to get to work, school, wanted to get a jump on the traffic or simply could not endure the close quarters any longer. Even so, Hendrix had never performed in front of such a big group before and nearly bailed.
Although Woodstock has been lifted onto a pedestal in certain ways, by all accounts the festival lived up to the fable. The fairy tale, though largely drug-laden, was a reality for those in attendance.
Watch ‘The Sixties’
Need to recharge your flower power? Explore “The Sixties” all next week, Monday through Friday August 18-22, at 9 p.m. on CNN.
It can be difficult to connect the storybook reality with Woodstock’s harsher realities like overflowed toilets, lack of food and water, and a makeshift, 20-bed hospital tent to accommodate roughly 3,000 medical emergencies.
A tractor crushed a teenage boy in a sleeping bag, fatally wounding him. One young man died of a heroin overdose, another died of a burst appendix. A young woman broke her back falling off of stage scaffolding.
In addition, there were about 400 bad acid trips, sprained ankles from sliding in the mud, and many a gashed foot as a result of stepping barefoot on broken glass.
Two babies were born, too. One child arrived in traffic en route to the festival, and the other was delivered in a hospital after the mother was airlifted out of the field.
A lot of sex was going on at Woodstock and, according to Spitz, a lot of women forgot to pack their birth control so supplies of birth control pills were flown in.
For an event where facilities were strained far past capacity, not a single fight or incident of violence erupted among the crowd, which endured near-unbearable conditions.
Town elders, residents, shopkeepers and local police couldn’t get over how courteous and considerate the kids were — all 450,000 or so of them.
Woodstock’s financial backers were not so lucky. They took a bath — and not a mud one — to the tune of $1.3 million.
Spitz called Woodstock “the beginning of the end of the ’60s” because it, along with the moon landing, represented a bright period after the deaths of John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy, and before the breakup of the Beatles and the deaths of Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison.
Woodstock is legendary for many reasons, but what made it magical was the value people placed on one another.
“If these are the kids that are going to inherit the world,” Max Yasgur said at the time, “I don’t fear for it.”
Hollywood’s most glamorous and tempestuous couple are brought to life by Helena Bonham Carter (‘Les Miserables,’ ‘The King’s Speech’) as Liz Taylor and Dominic West (‘The Wire,’ ‘The Hour’) as Richard Burton. Don’t miss the biopic on BBC America.
I had met Taylor before. I was 14 when she came to the Sussex seaside village of Rottingdean, where I had gone to school, to visit my friend Enid Bagnold, whose novel, National Velvet, had provided the 12-year-old Elizabeth with her first Hollywood starring role as a girl who rides her pony to victory in the Grand National.
But I had never glimpsed Burton in the flesh, and my first sight of him was to prove shockingly memorable. I was at Heathrow to watch some of the location shooting for a film, The VIPs, in which Taylor and Burton were co-starring, supported by a host of famous names including Maggie Smith, Margaret Rutherford, Louis Jourdan and Orson Welles.
Burton, wild-eyed and red in the face, was punching the air like a boxer who had lost co-ordination. My first impression was that he must be filming a drunk scene. But then several of his wild lunges landed on innocent passers-by, and I realised that he was paralytic. I discovered that he had consumed 14 Bloody Mary’s before lunch, then moved on to neat vodka in the afternoon.
Over the years, I was to meet the Burton’s – who married twice and divorced twice – on many occasions. The last time was backstage at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in New York in May 1983, when the world’s most famous ex-lovers, who’d by then been apart for seven years, following their second divorce, forged a disastrously ill-judged reunion in Noël Coward’s comedy Private Lives, the story of an ex-husband and wife who encounter each other on their second honeymoons, staying in adjoining rooms at a hotel in the South of France.
This grisly swan song in the tempestuous saga of Liz and Dick – it was to be the last time they would perform together – is brilliantly dramatized in Monday night’s BBC Four TV biopic, Burton and Taylor, in which the legendary couple are recreated with eerie authenticity by two award-winning actors, Helena Bonham Carter and Dominic West. Its writer, William Ivory, who fought a long and painful battle to conquer alcohol addiction, understands his two star protagonists very well, but says: “Burton and Taylor were addicted to more than alcohol. They were addicted to each other.”
Addiction was evident in their first encounter, a year before I witnessed Burton’s display at Heathrow, when he staggered onto the Rome set of Cleopatra, then the most costly screen epic produced, in which Taylor became the first star in Hollywood to command a salary of one million dollars. The film, now in its 50th anniversary year, has been digitally enhanced and was re-released this month in cinemas and on Blu-ray.
At his first meeting with Taylor, Burton turned up drunk. He could barely walk. His hands shook as he tried to sip hot coffee from a cup. Seeing his difficulty, Taylor helped by holding the cup to his lips. She later claimed that in that one simple gesture, a bond was forged between them, and that she found in Burton the same qualities she had loved in her third husband, millionaire producer Mike Todd, who was killed in a plane crash: power, strength, intellect, but also vulnerability.
In Cleopatra, in which Taylor had the title role, Burton played her lover, Mark Antony, a situation that was swiftly duplicated off-screen and developed into a scandal, for both were married – Burton to the former actress Sybil Williams, by whom he had two daughters, the younger of whom was autistic, and Taylor to the singer Eddie Fisher, whom she had annexed from one of America’s screen sweethearts, Debbie Reynolds, bringing widespread condemnation down on her head.
The Vatican denounced Taylor’s affair with Burton as “erotic vagrancy”, but after their marriage in 1964, they became the hottest properties in the movie world, reaching the peak of their careers with the film of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in 1966.
As the bitter, erudite couple, George and Martha, who spend the evening trading vicious insults in front of their horrified and fascinated guests, their performances seemed uncomfortably close to their own lives. Both admitted that the film had taken its toll on their relationship, and Taylor confessed that she got “tired of playing Martha” in real life. Her performance won her a second Best Actress Oscar. Burton was nominated but did not win – one of seven nominations that failed to bring him an Oscar.
Burton’s lavish gifts of jewelry to Taylor – the Krupp Diamond, which she wore daily; the pear-shaped Taylor-Burton diamond; and the 50‑carat La Peregrina Pearl – kept the gilded couple in the headlines, but both began to drink more heavily, and to argue increasingly, and no one was very surprised when, after 10 years of marriage, they were divorced in 1974.
If they couldn’t live together, however, it seemed as if they couldn’t live apart. Less than 16 months later, they were remarried, but it lasted only a matter of months before they separated again and there was a second divorce.
In 1983, when Taylor and Burton announced their plan to co-star in a stage revival of Private Lives, both were involved with other people. Burton was with the television production assistant Sally Hay, and Taylor with a Mexican lawyer, Victor Luna – but neither was legally attached, which hugely increased media speculation that they might marry for the third time. The theme of Private Lives – the reunion of divorced partners – added to this impression.
Taylor appeared not even to have read Coward’s play when they began work on it, and came to rehearsals drunk and also clearly the worse for prescription drugs. A staggering $2 million of seats were sold in advance, but both Taylor and Burton, at 51 and 57 respectively, were years too old for the leading roles. The reviews were devastating. One critic compared Taylor’s acting to “the Hitler diaries – you don’t believe it, but you gotta look!”
On the night I saw the play in New York, the audience was dominated by camp contingents of Taylor’s movie fans, who screamed approval of everything she did, causing her frequently to ad-lib and step out of character.
Backstage, Burton seemed depressed and anxious. He told me the decision to work with Taylor again had been “a mistake… it’s been a bloody fiasco”.
Taylor began missing performances. During one of her many absences, Burton and Sally Hay took off for Las Vegas and got married there. Taylor responded by announcing her engagement to Victor Luna, whom she never married. She then collapsed with a respiratory infection and was absent from the production again.
One of Burton’s theatrical mentors, the Shakespearean actor and director Sir Anthony Quayle, was convinced that the strain imposed on Burton by the reunion with Taylor destroyed his failing health. He died from a brain hemorrhage eight months later. When Taylor was informed of his death, she fainted.
Elizabeth Taylor was created a Dame of the British Empire in 2000. After the dissolution of her eighth and final marriage to Larry Fortensky, whom she had met in rehab at the Betty Ford Centre, Taylor did not marry again, although she described her last partner, Jason Winters, as “one of the most wonderful men I’ve ever known”.
The last time I saw her, a year before her death, she was in a wheelchair, but still mentally alert, although she had become reclusive and an element of paranoia had crept into her outlook.
I mentioned her second husband, the English actor Michael Wilding, father of her two sons, who had been a friend of mine. She said sharply: “Please don’t talk about him. He is haunting me.”
“Well, I am sure he would be a friendly ghost,” I replied. “Michael was always a very kind man.”
“I was a fool to marry so often,” she said. “If I had my time over again, I would never do that. The truth is I now don’t give a damn about most of those men. Richard is the only one I truly loved and still care about. I shall miss him until the day I die.”
Richard Burton (Dominic West) says to ex-wife Dame Elizabeth Taylor (Helena Bonham Carter) in the film Burton and Taylor, “We’re addicts Elizabeth, you and I.” She coyly responds, “Love is not a drug.”
However you want to interpret this line, the two couldn’t stay away from each other, tackling 12 films together, diving head first into two consecutive marriages, resulting in two divorces and still drawn to each other after all of that, taking on one last project.
The made-for-TV film, premiering on BBC America on Wednesday, October 16 at 9/8c, puts a spotlight on the couples’ last performance together in the NYC stage presentation of Private Lives. Coincidentally, or not so coincidentally, the play portrays a divorced couple who have lingering feelings.
This snapshot of 24 photos walks you through their romantic entanglement:
The hippie (or hippy) subculture was originally a youth movement that arose in the United States during the mid-1960s and spread to other countries around the world. The word ‘hippie’ came from hipster, and was initially used to describe beatniks who had moved into New York City’s Greenwich Village and San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district. The origins of the terms hip and hep are uncertain, though by the 1940s both had become part ofAfrican American jive slang and meant “sophisticated; currently fashionable; fully up-to-date”. The Beats adopted the term hip, and early hippies inherited the language andcountercultural values of the Beat Generation. Hippies created their own communities, listened to psychedelic music, embraced the sexual revolution, and used drugs such ascannabis, LSD, and psilocybin mushrooms to explore altered states of consciousness.
In January 1967, the Human Be-In in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco popularized hippie culture, leading to the Summer of Love on the West Coast of the United States, and the 1969 Woodstock Festival on the East Coast. Tom Nolan was one major leader of the hippie movement. Hippies in Mexico, known as jipitecas, formed La Onda and gathered atAvándaro, while in New Zealand, nomadic housetruckers practiced alternative lifestyles and promoted sustainable energy at Nambassa. In the United Kingdom, mobile “peace convoys” of New age travellers made summer pilgrimages to free music festivals at Stonehenge and later (in 1970) to the gigantic Isle of Wight Festival with a crowd of around 400,000 people.In Australia hippies gathered at Nimbin for the 1973 Aquarius Festival and the annual Cannabis Law Reform Rally or MardiGrass. “Piedra Roja Festival“, a major hippie event in Chile, was held in 1970.
Hippie fashions and values had a major effect on culture, influencing popular music, television, film, literature, and the arts. Since the 1960s, many aspects of hippie culture have been assimilated by mainstream society. The religious and cultural diversity espoused by the hippies has gained widespread acceptance, and Eastern philosophy and spiritual concepts have reached a larger audience. The hippie legacy can be observed in contemporary culture in myriad forms, including health food, music festivals, contemporary sexual mores, and even the cyberspace revolution.
WARRIORS OF THE RAINBOW
Since 1972, every summer, thousands of nature lovers from all walks of life go on a journey to a gathering in remote national forests across North America to experience the viability of living in a cooperative community in harmony with the earth. The annual “Rainbow Gathering” in the US draws thousands over the first week of July, focusing on the 4th (national holiday) as a holy day of meditation and prayer for peace and freedom. In “Warriors of the Rainbow” Ram Dass ( the man who helped spark both the East-West spiritual revolution and the psychedelic revolutions), Art Goodtimes and others Rainbow Warriors express their love and hope for the future of humankind.
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The American Counterculture refers to the period between 1964-1972 when the norms of the 1950s were rejected by youth.
◾Counterculture youth rejected the cultural standards of their parents, especially with respect to racial segregation, the Vietnam War, sexual mores, women’s rights, and materialism.
◾Hippies were the largest countercultural classification comprising mostly white members of the middle class.
The counterculture movement divided the country.
◾The movement died in the early 1970s because most of their goals had become mainstream, and because of rising economic troubles.
To defeat forcibly.
Inflation accompanied by stagnant growth, unemployment or recession.
Any culture whose values and lifestyles are opposed to those of the established mainstream culture, especially to western culture.
A counterculture developed in the United States in late 1960s. This movement lasted from approximately 1964 to 1972, and it coincided with America’s involvement in Vietnam. A counterculture is the rejection of conventional social norms – in this case the norms of the 1950s . The counterculture youth rejected the cultural standards of their parents, specifically racial segregation and initial widespread support for the Vietnam War.
This photo was taken near the Woodstock Music Festival in August, 1969. The counterculture in the 1960s was characterized by young people breaking away from the traditional culture of the 1950s.
As the 1960s progressed, widespread tensions developed in American society that tended to flow along generational lines regarding the war in Vietnam , race relations, sexual mores, women’s rights, traditional modes of authority, and a materialist interpretation of the American Dream. White, middle class youth, who made up the bulk of the counterculture, had sufficient leisure time to turn their attention to social issues, thanks to widespread economic prosperity.
Vietnam War Protest
The counterculture of the 1960s was marked by a growing distrust of government
, which included anti-war protests like this.
Unconventional appearance, music, drugs, communitarian experiments, and sexual liberation were hallmarks of the sixties counterculture, most of whose members were white, middle-class young Americans. Hippies became the largest countercultural group in the United States . The counterculture reached its peak in the 1967 “Summer of Love,” when thousands of young people flocked to the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. The counterculture lifestyle integrated many of the ideals and indulgences of the time: peace, love, harmony, music, and mysticism. Meditation, yoga, and psychedelic drugs were embraced as routes to expanding one’s consciousness.
Rejection of mainstream culture was best embodied in the new genres of psychedelic rock music, pop-art, and new explorations in spirituality. Musicians who exemplified this era include The Beatles, The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, The Rolling Stones, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, and Pink Floyd.
New forms of musical presentation also played a key role in spreading the counterculture, mainly large outdoor rock festivals. The climactic live statement of this occurred from August 15–18, 1969, with the Woodstock Music Festival held in Bethel, New York. During this festival, 32 of rock and psychedelic rock’s most popular acts performing live outdoors over the course of a weekend to an audience of half a million people.
Countercultural sentiments were expressed in song lyrics and popular sayings of the period, such as “do your own thing,” “turn on, tune in, drop out,” “whatever turns you on,” “eight miles high,” “sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll,” and “light my fire. ” Spiritually, the counterculture included interest in astrology, the term “Age of Aquarius,” and knowing people’s signs.
The counterculture movement divided the country. To some Americans, these attributes reflected American ideals of free speech, equality, world peace, and the pursuit of happiness. To others, the counterculture movement reflected a self-indulgent, pointlessly rebellious, unpatriotic, and destructive assault on America’s traditional moral order.
In an effort to quash the movement, authorities banned the psychedelic drug LSD, restricted political gatherings, and tried to enforce bans on what they considered obscenity in books, music, theater, and other media. In the end, the counterculture collapsed on its own around 1973.
Two main reasons are cited for the collapse. First, the most popular of the movement’s political goals—civil rights, civil liberties, gender equality, environmentalism, and the end of the Vietnam War—were accomplished (to at least a significant degree), and its most popular social attributes, particularly a “live and let live” mentality in personal lifestyles (the “sexual revolution”)—were co-opted by mainstream society. Second, a decline of idealism and hedonism occured as many notable counterculture figures died and the rest settled into mainstream society and started their own families.
The “magic economy” of the 1960s gave way to the stagflation of the 1970s, the latter costing many middle-class Americans the luxury of being able to live outside conventional social institutions. The counterculture, however, continues to influence social movements, art, music, and society in general, and the post-1973 mainstream society has been in many ways a hybrid of the 1960s establishment and counterculture—seen as the best (or the worst) of both worlds.
Maybe you stared and wondered, stared and wondered, for years. Who painted that billboard? For whom? Why?
And then one day your curiosity can no longer be contained. One frigid Monday morning you slam on the brakes, veer right into the Smoke Pit BBQ’s cracked parking lot and speed-walk to the locked front door.
A woman named Kim Dubinsky is alone inside, nursing her second cup of coffee. And because sometimes the loveliest things happen inside closed BBQ joints at 9 a.m., she unlocks the door, sits you down at a booth, sips her cup of coffee and slowly, lovingly, tells you the tale behind the Forever in Blue Jeans billboard.
It’s a story of spare ribs, cooked here for so many years that the sweet smell seeps from the walls and climbs into the fabric of your coat. It’s a story co-starring cops, criminals, judges, hookers, Prince, Jesse “The Body” Ventura and of course Neil Diamond.
Mostly, though, the story Kim tells you is a story about a 5-foot-6 man who once weighed 125 pounds soaking wet. He once finished his first marathon on a dare. He once read to their only daughter each and every night, until both their eyelids sagged. And once upon a time, after he got sick, he promised Kim the biggest anniversary card she had never seen.
“I would say, ‘I don’t know, Joe,’ ” Kim says. “ ’I don’t know if you can get one bigger than the one I’m getting you.’ ”
They met sometime before Ronald Reagan was president — Kim won’t tell you the year, because she refuses to let you count backwards and guess her age.
Joe Dubinsky moved to Omaha fresh out of high school, a boy from Pennsylvania coal country transplanted to this land of steak and corn.
What this city needs is BBQ, he thought. So, in 1961, he opened the Smoke Pit.
Kim started working for him years after that, when he was an established business owner and she was fresh out of high school herself and in need of a steady paycheck.
She needed more than a paycheck, actually. She came from a messed-up family. Joe paid her. And he helped her, too.
“I talked, and he listened. Sometimes for an hour.”
In return, she worked harder than any other employee. Back in the old days, the Smoke Pit was a hopping, 35-seat restaurant down the street from its current location.
Kim showed up at 1 p.m. to set up. Joe unlocked the front door at 4 p.m., and people started streaming in for dinner. It grew more crowded, and more crowded still, until a 2 a.m. line of half-drunk bargoers snaked out the door. They closed at 3 a.m. Kim left around 4 a.m. She waitressed 15 hours a day, five days a week.
“And I think he saw how hard I worked, and that meant something to him.”
Joe co-signed her lease on her first apartment. Each afternoon, he picked her up at her apartment and drove her to work.
One day he picked her up like usual, stopped the car at the first red stoplight and turned toward the passenger seat.
“I love you,” he said to her.
“This wasn’t supposed to happen,” she said back to him.
But it was, and soon Joe and Kim were married and running the Smoke Pit together. They moved the Smoke Pit to a larger spot on 25th Street — “moved it to west Omaha,” Kim jokes — and bought a house in Dundee. All sorts of famous people came through the restaurant: Jay Leno stopped in and signed autographs for all the employees. Jesse Ventura was a regular each time he came to wrestle. They delivered BBQ to Prince’s tour bus, and to the tour bus of Gladys Knight, Ratt, Cheap Trick and a hundred other bands that they quickly forgot.
A group of Omaha police detectives came in regularly. So did several county judges and one-time Omaha City Councilman Frank Brown.
They had other regulars, too: A half-dozen prostitutes. Hustlers out on bail. A gangster that Kim knew only as “Smiley.”
When Joe and Kim got off work late they would come home, crank up their favorite Neil Diamond song and sing at the top of their lungs.
Money talks But it don’t sing and dance And it don’t walk And long as I can have you Here with me, I’d much rather be Forever in blue jeans
Kim teasingly called Joe “Chicken Legs.” Joe decided to do something about that. “I’m going to run a marathon,” he said. Three months later, he did. He ran another, and another, so many that the marathon T-shirts overflowed his dresser drawer. He refused to let her throw away a single shirt. I earned those, he would say.
Joe teasingly bought Kim a coffee mug that said “Rather be 40 Than Pregnant.” One of the waitresses accidentally busted the coffee mug. A couple of months later, Kim took a pregnancy test. Positive.
That night Joe and Kim talked for hours, deciding how to rearrange their lives to accommodate the soon-to-be third member of their family.
And so, when Kim gave birth to Natasha in 1990, she went back to work at the Smoke Pit, this time as manager. Joe waved goodbye as she pulled out of the driveway.
After three decades running the Smoke Pit, he became a full-time dad. He changed diapers and heated up bottles by day. At night, he laid her on the couch and read her favorite books, again and again.
|Columnists Michael Kelly, Erin Grace and Matthew Hansen write about people, places and events around Omaha. Read more of their work here.|
“He would say how much respect he gained for women,” Kim says. “And I would say, ‘You would respect us even more if you would do a load of laundry once in a while.’ ”
Natasha was scooting around the Smoke Pit in her baby walker at 2. She had learned the first verse to “Forever in Blue Jeans” by the time she hit kindergarten. She was running the cash register by the time she entered sixth grade.
Today she is a 23-year-old graduate student at Drexel University in her father’s home state of Pennsylvania. She’s studying to become a psychiatrist.
Natasha recently called from Philadelphia and told her mother that as she gets older, her list of what she’s looking for in a boyfriend is changing. She’s looking for someone who is financially responsible. Someone who sees the world around him, and isn’t a slave to his iPhone. Fun, hardworking, a good listener.
Kim thinks it sounds a little bit like someone who used to read Natasha bedtime stories. Kim didn’t tell her that, though.
“I just said, ‘Your list is getting tougher.’ ”
They had noticed the first signs when Natasha was still in junior high.
Joe stopped running. He started forgetting things. He lost his balance easily.
Soon life became a blur of specialists and tests, antiseptic rooms and hospital gowns.
Eight years ago, for the first time since Ronald Reagan became president, Joe and Kim Dubinsky were separated.
She ran the Smoke Pit in Omaha. He was at a hospital in Minnesota, undergoing more tests and trying to get well.
Each and every morning, she wrote him a letter and dropped it in the mailbox. And each and every morning, the mailman came and handed a letter back to her. Her daily letter from Joe.
In one of those letters, Joe promised her he would be sending her the biggest anniversary card ever.
And that’s when Kim told him she doubted it, because she had an idea of her own.
She hired the ex-husband of an employee to paint it. She didn’t want anything fancy. She wanted it to look homemade, like she had done it herself.
“Happy Anniversary” Kim had him paint in Valentine’s Day red. He painted a heart on the left side of the sign, and another heart on the right.
And then, at the bottom of the billboard, Kim knew just how she wanted to sign her name to this anniversary card to her husband.
“Forever in Blue Jeans,” painted, of course, in denim blue.
For the record, Joe sent Kim a 2-foot-tall anniversary card. The day she received it, her phone rang.
It was Joe. He had received his card, a normal-sized envelope containing a photo of a newly painted billboard.
Joe was laughing. He was choking up. He was having a hard time speaking.
“I guess I couldn’t beat that one,” he said, finally.
Joe and Kim live behind the restaurant now, in an apartment connected to the Smoke Pit. He is 71, and he has good days and bad, and since he has trouble reading now, his daughter Natasha comes home from college, sits with him on the couch and reads out loud until her father’s eyes sag.
Doctors aren’t sure of his condition. Lou Gehrig’s disease, maybe. Or a neurological disorder similar to that. Or something else buried in the mysterious gray matter of the brain, something that doctors don’t yet understand.
It doesn’t really matter, Kim says. There is no magic pill to let him lace up his running shoes and go for one more jog.
But there is something else in its place. Kim Dubinsky only opens up the Smoke Pit and serves BBQ four times a week now. When she’s open, she shuttles between jobs: She unlocks the door, then runs to the apartment to see if Joe is awake. She runs the register, then hurries away to make sure Joe takes his pills.
Sometimes now in the late afternoon she goes into the apartment to take a nap. If she’s late, the phone will ring. “Come to bed,” Joe will say.
The billboard is eight years old now. Some of the white paint has peeled off. The Valentine’s Day red is fading. Some of the people who drive by and look up are so confused — they have never heard of Neil Diamond or his song about blue jeans.
“It’s getting older,” Kim says of the billboard. “Just like us.”
But when she is with her husband, she can still glance at the young, chicken-legged man turning to her at the stoplight. She can look again and see him locking the BBQ joint’s front door after a nonstop Saturday night, and she can look a third time and watch as they drive home and crank up the song forever stuck in her head.
She doesn’t need to wonder about the billboard looming above the street at 25th and Farnam. She knows what it meant. She knows what it means.
Honey’s sweet But it ain’t nothin’ next to baby’s treat And if you pardon me I’d like to say We’ll do okay Forever in blue jeans
“It’s about figuring out a way to make life work,” Kim Dubinsky says as she sips on her second cup of coffee inside a BBQ joint that time forgot. “That’s what we’re doing.”
Poems & Poetry
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