Saturday, February 27, 2010


I was cleaning out my paper files last night, and I came across a coaching form devised by Leigh Goldberg. The form is called 10 Goals to Reach in 90 Days and here's what it says:
What goals or projects would you most like to complete in the next 90 days? Select well-defined and realistic, while somewhat challenging goals that reflect your core values - what attracts you rather than what you think you should do.
Inspired, I decided to take up the challenge. Here are my 10 goals for the next 90 days:

  1. Find a new job/stream of income that enables me to save X dollars each month.
  2. Barter my organizing services for holistic health counseling or cooking classes.
  3. Barter organizing for personal trainer.
  4. Barter organizing for interior decorator who can help us spruce up our place.
  5. Figure out a way to translate my love for Muppets/puppets into an interesting project.
  6. Find and go to a Havurah or synagogue.
  7. Get a flip camera and start doing mini interviews and puppet appearances for my blog.
  8. Make art.
  9. Update my LinkedIn profile.
  10. Clean up computer files.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


I recently noticed that I was almost out of biz cards and postcards. Truth be told, I was tired of the design. Yeah, I know all that stuff about brand recognition and consistency. But sometimes ya just gotta throw out the rules and pick a design that inspires.

I went onto (great resource for inexpensive bizcards and postcards), saw this rainbow, and fell in love. The key is to Google "Vistaprints free postcards" or "Vistaprints free business cards" so that you enter the site in a way that will allow you to get those offerings.

It's a lot of fun browsing through their designs by either style or category. The best category is definitely arts and entertainment. I really wanted to become a DJ after seeing some of the designs for that profession!

Also: when you go to check out, realize that the company is going to try to lure you into tacking on extra doo-jiggies that match your biz cards - everything from rubber stamps to leg warmers.
(Just kidding about the leg warmers). Just frivolous, over-priced stuff. Keep passing over all this stuff until you finalize your order!


Meeting Bonnie

I had the good fortune of meeting Bonnie Erickson at BAM’s film festival celebration of the 40th anniversary of Sesame Street. Sitting a few seats down from Ms. Erickson with a pen and clipboard in hand, I remember her asking me good-naturedly “Are you taking notes on our behavior?” “No, just taking notes for a blog post,” I explained. We each talked a bit about our relationship to the Muppets and Sesame Street, and Bonnie revealed that she had created some of the original Muppets and had also worked for Children’s Television Workshop.

Back at home, I learned more about Bonnie through a Muppet Wiki entry and and a Smithonian Magazine interview with her. Accompanying the interview was a photograph of Bonnie in 1975 taken with with Statler. (You might remember him as the Muppet who is the older gentleman heckler from The Muppet Show.) In the photo, Bonnie’s eyes have a certain spark and life-force that made me think “This is a woman who knows something important about being alive. I want to know more about her story.”

Within the first five minutes of meeting Bonnie again, this time in her home/workspace, she confirms what I thought might be true about her. I quickly discover that she and her husband, Wayde, have led a life rich in travel and in friendships made along the way. Right away, I feel part of their adventures. They ask me if I would pose for a picture in their kitchen, explaining that Wayde has photographed every person who has visited them in the last thirteen years. The total number of photos so far? An astounding 1,600. But I don’t feel like just a number, I feel like part of their story.

After picture-taking is done, Bonnie and Wayde continue to welcome me warmly, showing me the custom-made round, tree-house like home office that Wade works out of. Bonnie walks me over to a spectacular chess set with pieces that are constructed from black and white photographs Wayde has taken of family, friends and colleagues. They offer tea and giant pastel-colored French macaroons. It’s clear from the get go that Bonnie is someone with a big zest for life and makes relationships central to it.

With tea at hand, the stage is set to find out more about this intriguing woman.

How did Bonnie get involved with The Muppet Show?

Bonnie worked with Jim Henson even before there was The Muppet Show. Colleague Bruce Cayard who, at the time, was working for The Electric Company and Sesame Street, gave Bonnie the heads-up that Jim was looking for a costume designer. Bonnie, experienced in costume design and special costume effects, was intrigued by Jim’s work and by the opportunity. With encouragement from Bruce, she called and met with Jim and Jim’s producer Diana Birkenfield.

Bonnie accepted the offer to come on board with Jim to work on The Frog Prince, a one hour version of the classic fairytale narrated by Kermit the Frog. Although experienced in costume design, Bonnie had never made costumes for puppets. The advantage of designing for puppets? “No complaints from the actors!” shares Bonnie with a laugh. The work involved building bodies, making patterns, and learning a lot from colleague and mentor Don Sahlin, someone who had been a puppet-builder for Jim since the 60s.

After work on The Frog Prince had come to an end, Jim asked Bonnie if she would stay on to run the Muppet shop at 227 East 67th Street in Manhattan. For Bonnie, the idea of saying “Yes” to Jim was daunting. She had no formal background in puppetry, and the position required her to coordinate the efforts of a highly-talented group of workers. However, she did accept the job and is glad that she did! “It was a great group of people and we had a great time together,” recalls Bonnie.

What does Bonnie remember about Jim Henson? What are her memories of working for him?

When I ask Bonnie about Jim Henson, she remembers him for these things: his love of film and television; his sharp editing skills; his sense of music and humor; his ability to draw people into his world. He was a man who cared about the details of his work and who did not cut corners. “The richness of details contributed to an overall product which reflected great thought and care,” recalls Bonnie.

Jim, who prized play and collaboration as an important part of the process, created a good environment to be in and made it fun to work with the rest of the team. “It was a calling for the people there,” shares Bonnie, “and we were a group who was invested in our work.”

A big part of the work as part of the Henson team involved finding new materials to create with and discovering new ways of doing things. Bonnie’s discovery while working on a character called The Glutton was that foam could be carved from the outside with a pair of scissors, and then smoothed out on a belt sander. “It was about solving problems in a unique and interesting way,” tells Bonnie.

In her time working for Jim, Bonnie designed and built an impressive roster of Muppets, including Miss Piggy, Statler, Waldorf, the Newsman, Zoot, and the caricatures of Jim Henson, Frank Oz, and Jerry Nelson for the Country Trio.

What made Bonnie decide to create her own business?

From working with the Muppets team for many years, Bonnie eventually moved on to team up with husband-to-be Wayde Harrison to found the design and marketing company Harrison/Erickson, Inc. In addition to creating characters for television and theater, Bonnie and Wade also run Acme Mascots, Inc., a division of their company which involves the development of mascot programs for major league sports teams.

In 1977, Wayde and Bonnie set up shop on 5th Avenue and 17th Street in Manhattan, putting together patterns for toys and samples, and also creating full-body costumes and puppets for commercials. Jim Henson became a client when he hired Bonnie for a number of projects including Fraggle Rock and a 13-year run as Creative Director of the Product Division of Children's Television Workshop.

One day, they received a call from The Philadelphia Phillies Major League Baseball team, who were looking for a mascot who could bring families back to the ball park. Wayde and Bonnie created the legendary Phillie Phanatic, a team mascot who came with a storied background and took on a life of his own. The Phanatic has his own store and makes public appearances 365 days a year!

Since that legendary project, Wayde and Bonnie have created 16 other mascots with entertaining identities.

How are the roots of her work as an adult reflected in Bonnie’s early life?

As a child growing up in Saint Paul, Minnesota, Bonnie loved to draw. She took classes in piano, dance, and art, and her parents were supportive of all of these endeavors.

Bonnie’s dream from the get-go was to venture out to New York. During her college years, she left Minnesota for upstate New York to be a counselor at a drama camp. After holding that post, Bonnie did not want to leave New York. She proceeded to enroll in the Art Students League.

“Growing up, I always wanted to go to New York. It was the symbol of sophistication and artistic appreciation and it is still that to me. I will never outgrow my enthusiasm for the city. This metropolis offers so many opportunities to communicate with so many kinds of people. There is so much inspiration. I feel lucky. Sometimes I have to pinch myself because I still can’t believe I am here. I wish that excitement for everyone.”

What are Bonnie’s hopes and dreams for 2010 and beyond?

At the top of Bonnie’s list of priorities? In her own words, “Finding time to give back.” One of her main conduits for doing so is through the Jim Henson Legacy. For Bonnie, her work with The Legacy is about “making a connection to the new generations, communicating what Jim did, how he did it, the community he built, and the satisfaction that the work gave people.” Bonnie’s goal is to communicate the importance of following one’s muse, doing work that is fulfilling, and sharing excitement with other people.

Bonnie’s related hope is that art and music be restored to public school programs. Her vision is that more adults get out there and share their skills with young people. She recalls a time that she helped students at a Brooklyn public school put together a puppet show, noting that the process helped them work together toward a goal and develop lots of different skills along the way.

Some Closing Notes

I left the interview with Bonnie on a total high. I think I was skipping down the street back toward the subway! Something so inspiring about meeting a woman who has remained steadfastly dedicated to her craft, and yet who has tailored and tweaked her path to stay current with the times. Judging from the global network of friends and colleagues which Bonnie and her partner Wayde Harrison have cultivated over the years, I can see that Bonnie is a rolling stone that gathers no moss!

One other thing struck me from my time with Bonnie. Jim Henson was a man with a vision who led the way with the Muppets and technological breakthroughs in television and film. It was people like Bonnie Erickson who held down the fort at 227 East 67th Street and made those breakthroughs possible. Bonnie, although extremely humble and modest, was a key person who made sure that things kept moving along in both an organized and also pioneering fashion. The legend of Jim would simply not exist without individuals like Bonnie whose hard work was the backbone of Mr. Henson’s projects. It took a village to raise the Muppets, and Bonnie was a key member of that village.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


The season of school and charity auctions is upon us, and a lot of auctions are going online. There are two ways you can help with local causes:

1. Donate your goods or services to the auction
2. Bid on auction items

1. Donate Goods and Services to Auctions

I have made it a habit to donate my services as a professional organizer each year to a bunch of school auctions. I've met lots of great people this way, contributed to an important cause, and also gotten new clients.

Here is one very impressive online auction where I've donated my services.
This school, PS 29 in Brooklyn, is lucky to have tech-savvy parents who can set something up that is this sophisticated.

One tip I have for entrepreneurs who donate services to an auction: make the deadline for redemption of the gift certificate for no later than three months from the date of the auction. I have heard so many stories of folks whose services are purchased at an auction and then never redeemed or used by the winning donor. Having a shorter deadline than a year helps the winning donor to actually use and enjoy the services that he or she purchased.

2. Bid on Auction Items

One of the women who recently had the winning bid on my services at the BAX online auction told me that she routinely scours online auctions and finds that she can get services she wants for lower than the market value if only bids within her budget. Very smart!

One way you can scout around online auctions is to go to Bidding for Good. If you want to support causes or institutions that are local to you, search for things geographically. Also, it's worth asking your local schools if they are having auctions.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


On Monday night, I flipped back and forth between the Westminster Dog Show and the Winter Olympics. I am so happy that I was watching the Olympics during what will undoubtedly stand out as a highlight of the whole event.

This couple, the first Chinese couple ever to win a gold in pairs figure skating, has been together for 18 years. They sacrificed everything to become Olympic skaters, leaving their families to take on the training necessary to achieve this level of achievement. They came out of retirement to participate in the 2010 Olympics, and I'm glad they did! It was so great to see them leap up over the rink's edge to hug their coach and other main supporters right after their performance.

Here is more of the scoop from beliefnet:

The figure skating couple, Zhao Hongbo and Shen Xue, set a new Olympic record when they became the first Chinese couple in history to win the gold medal.

At 36 (Zhao) and 31 (Shen), the couple are considered to be on the older side of pairs ice skating. Zhao is the second oldest male to win an Olympic gold since 1920 while Shen is the tenth oldest female to win a medal. Still, age didn't stop either of them from giving a near-flawless short ice skating program on Valentine's Day and a beautiful freestyle long program on Monday night, complete with big jumps and smooth spins.

For 40 years, the Russians have dominated the podium for pairs figure skating, but after the long program on Monday night, the Chinese claimed the gold and the silver medal and the Germans claimed the bronze.

Also husband and wife, Zhao and Shen have won three bronze medals in the past Winter Olympics, but retired after marrying each other in 2007. "When I hold her in my arms, I don't have to pretend I love her. I do," Zhao said before arriving in Vancouver (

Still, despite world recognition from appearing on Chinese Sports Illustrated and multiple medals from other competitions such as the World Championships, the couple decided to come out of retirement and pursue the one medal that eluded them. "So many years have been devoted to this dream," Zhao said (

Despite the small mistakes they made in the long program, the couple showed how determination, diligence, and devotion can pay off, beating younger couples in technical and artistic scores. As for the silver medalists, Tong Jian and Pang Qing, they were in fourth place after the short program but skated into second after giving a near-perfect long program.

So what's next for Zhao and Shen? Zhao revealed, "I think it is hard to continue skating, so maybe it is time to have a baby." (

For the two sets of Chinese figure skating partners, the consecutive win was a great way to start off the Chinese New Year.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


I've been getting to know a fantastic group of people through attending meetings of The New York Coalition of Play.

The coalition is "a partnership of organizations and individuals who advocate for freely chosen, unstructured, and child-directed play opportunities for children and youth in the New York metropolitan area." (For more info, go to the Website or to the Facebook Page.)

This Friday's meeting took place at the NYC Parks Department Headquarters at the Arsenal on 5th Avenue and 64th Street. What a gorgeous building! We met on the third floor, where the Parks Community had on display an art exhibit called "The Power of Play: Celebrating Black History Month." (There's still time to see it; it's up until Feb.25.) The exhibition features more than 30 artworks which include paintings, quilts, contemporary and historical photographs, and textiles. The artists, numbering more than 20, include Parks & Rec. employees as well as members of recreation centers. (Photo above is Anthony Almeida's Gush of Life: Kids Playing in Hydrant.)

Upon exiting the building, I found myself staring at sea lions at play. I was in the Central Park Zoo! Not wanting to miss an opportunity to explore, I walked further on to watch snow monkeys on the top of the hill. Lo and behold, they were in fact hanging out with each other in the snow! I read a placard that said that snow monkeys are playful; the little ones are known to make snowballs!

Today, I spent time walking with my husband through Prospect Park. We saw a lot of parents and children playing together - sledding, building and playing around snowmen and snow forts. Snow brings out that playfulness in all of us!

Back to the Coalition for Play: I appreciated what the Coalition's chair, Ed Miller, had to say in his recent letter to the NY Times in response to an article about Michelle Obama's battle against childhood obesity:

To the Editor:

Michelle Obama’s campaign to fight childhood obesity won’t work unless we start focusing on children’s free play, which has shriveled as their weight has ballooned.

We have to get kids moving again, but organized sports and exercise programs aren’t the answer. Emphasize activity, not exercise, say the Mayo Clinic’s obesity experts. Research backs them up. A Canadian study found that “encouraging free play has been more effective than focusing on forced exercise or reducing food intake” in combating obesity in children.

Turn off the TV, throw away the video games, and take the kids to the playground. It wouldn’t hurt us adults to play more either.

Edward Miller
New York, Feb. 10, 2010

The writer is founding partner and senior researcher, Alliance for Childhood

Sunday, February 07, 2010


Both of these obituaries are from the January 31, 2010 New York Times.

MON TOY--Mary, 93,

died on December 7, 2009 in her beloved New York City. A triple threat: Latin Quarter showgirl; original Broadway cast member in The World of Suzy Wong and House of Flowers; on television on Kojak, Ryan's Hope, Teahouse of the August Moon, I Spy and Drs. Hospital; in movies in Airplane II and Bob Fosse's All That Jazz. She was the first Asian runway model in Paris. Born in Hawaii, her family moved to Seattle in the 1920's only to be uprooted and sent to the Minidoka Japanese American Internment Camp after Pearl Harbor. She left the camp in 1944 on a scholarship to Juilliard procured by Eleanor Roosevelt. The rest of her life was spent in New York City where she was an active member of Screen Actors Guild, AFTRA and Actors' Equity, and generous supporter of The Actors Fund, animal rights and The Japanese American National Museum. A celebration of her life will take place on Sunday, January 31 at 1pm. Call 212-580-0052 for information.

ATWATER--Phyllis Yvonne. She was born on November 4, 1947. She died peacefully in her home in New York City on December 12, 2009. Phyllis is survived: by her husband, John R. Ernst; her mother, Thelda E. Phillips Atwater; and her sister Bertha L. Atwater. Phyllis was born and raised in Memphis, TN. Precocious and brilliant, she entered Vassar College at age 16 and graduated with honors with a degree in Mathematics in 1968. She then went on to obtain her Master's degree in Mathematics from Boston University. Post graduation, Phyllis helped create Roxbury Community College. It was also at this time that she met and then married John on December 28, 1972. As Phyllis continued her academic career she won a fellowship from the Ford Foundation. She then became a Danforth Foundation Dissertation Fellow at the New School, where she worked on her doctoral dissertation, "The Difference between Depreciation Charges and Replacement Costs." In the 1980s Phyllis was President of R2B2 (Resource Recovery of the Borough of the Bronx). Subsequent to this position she then held a number of high-level state and city government positions, both in New York and Massachusetts. Most recently Phyllis served as the Director of the Certification Unit for the Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise program. Phyllis was also very active in the community. She was on the board of directors of the Girls and Boys Project and the Scenic Hudson Foundation. Most recently, Phyllis was a founding member of the Psi Lambda Omega Brooklyn chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. Phyllis was a woman of great intellect, warmth, humor, wit, insight, and commitment. She touched everyone she knew and will be missed by her immediate family, her uncles, aunts, cousins and friends. Thank you Phyllis, for sharing your life with us! In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to The Atwater Foundation (located at 64 Fulton Street Suite 404, New York, NY 10038-2755). The foundation is a non-profit organization started in her honor, and will support scholarship in the areas of education, economics and the environment. Please be sure to join Phyllis's family and friends at 6pm on March 17, 2010 for a celebration of her life at Trinity Church in New York City. For more information please contact the toll free number, 1-866-271-4900 or email


Today, Mike and I were at the Park Slope Food Co-op buying our groceries for the week. He picked up an item I had never seen before: PG Tips, a kind of tea. Totally English. Seemed to go with Mike's proclivity towards wearing tweed coats and wool jaunty caps, eating butterscotch candies, reading Sherlock Holmes mysteries, and using canes for daily walks through mist and bogs.

Just kidding about the proclivities - well, sort of.

Anyway, I was curious about the PG Tips tea, so I went to their website and found the most awesome video EVER. How great is it to have a stuffed monkey as a mascot for TEA????!!!

Click HERE to watch the PG Tips video with monkey pictured above.

Click HERE to read is a little background on the unfolding of these monkey-licious ads.

Here is the PG history, laid out nicely on the "About Us" portion of their website:
  • 1869 - The first brew

    Arthur Brooke opens his first shop in Manchester, and its success lays in his sale of reliable tea blends. His big break comes in the late 1870s when a grocer asks for a bulk order of tea at wholesale prices.
  • 1930s - The pre-digestive era

    Arthur Brooke launches in the UK tea market under the name of 'Pre-Gest-Tee'' - suggesting that the tea could be drunk before food was digested. Grocers abbreviate it to PG, and the company adds 'tips' to highlight the fact that PG uses the top two leaves and a bud to make its tea.
  • 1950s - A chimp tea party

    With the launch of independent television, the first PG tips 'chimpanzees' advert appears. The PG tips chimps are soon superstars in their own right.
  • 1960 - It's in the bag

    The makers of PG tips introduce the tea bag to a stunned nation. They catch on quickly and there are reports of mass hysteria. Tea bags soon out-sell loose-leaf tea.
  • 1996 - The 8th wonder of the world

    The makers of PG tips launch the revolutionary PG tips pyramid bags. With more room inside it acts like a miniature teapot, giving the leaves more room to move.
  • 2008 - Green leaves

    PG tips joins forces with the Rainforest Alliance to ensure that by 2010 all PG tips tea suppliers meet their high sustainability standards. AND launches its new Green tea range. Phew!

Friday, February 05, 2010


It has been years since I watched The Winter Olympics, but I plan to do so this year. Let's show some love for our Canadian neighbors by watching the Opening Ceremony next Friday at 7:30 pm.

For all the news on the Winter Olympics, go to: OR

This bit of info is taken straight from Only Kent: World-Breaking News:

Everything in Vancouver, Canada is buzzing for the imminent start of the Winter Olympic Games, with the opening ceremony due next Friday. Unfortunately President Obama is expected to be unable to attend, although the USA will be represented by the Vice President, Joe Biden.

The Telegraph reports that many other celebrities will be attending the games, including George Clooney and even the legendary astronaut Buzz Aldrin, along with dignitaries from across the globe.

The 25,000 volunteers are raring to go, the podiums are ready for the moving medal ceremonies and athletes from all around the world have started to arrive. What then could possibly go wrong? Snow, or to be precise, the lack of it. Somewhat important for a Winter Olympics. Due to unusually warm temperatures for the time of year, and copious amounts of rain, the organizers have been forced to relocate snow from miles away, with hundreds of trucks full of the white stuff arriving at the venue.

This has led to some protests from a population already concerned about the rising costs involved with hosting such a large-scale event. We can only hope that by the time the games actually begin, the weather has been kind to Vancouver and the spectacle of the Winter Olympics is everything it should be.


Eleanor Traubman, professional organizer to busy Brooklyn moms, is looking for 10 schools - public or private - to which to donate her services for school auctions.

Eleanor helps parents de-clutter and set up user-friendly organizing systems for home offices, filing cabinets, closets, children's rooms and more. Her motto: less clutter equals more room for you and your family!

Each donation will consist of a 2- hour consultation with Eleanor.

To contact Eleanor about her offer, please email and also visit her blog at

Please note: Eleanor will select 10 schools; after your initial email to her, she will contact you if you fall within that 10.

Thursday, February 04, 2010


February Newsletter

New Exhibit Opening This Friday!

Date: Friday, February 5, 2010
Time: 8pm - 12am
Location: Breukelen Coffee House, 764A Franklin Ave, Brooklyn, NY

Event Description:
Spread Love, It's the Breukelen Way!

The Breukelen Coffee House proudly presents it's first official art opening, complete with Brooklyn artists of all mediums and walks of life.

A Brooklyn-based DJ, will be spinning fly tunes, and a Brooklyn-based bartender will be slinging drinks for those who wish to partake in libations!

In addition to the party and press -- there will be an Independent documentary film crew there -- taking footage for their documentary on the 6 month progression of the Breukelen Coffee House starting this month.

Monday, February 01, 2010


This is one of a series of posts dedicated to February's Black History Month.

It is well worth the morning wait in line for tickets to attend the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I knew it would be, based on last year's same celebration, where one of Little Rock Nine's Minney Jean Brown Trickey delivered a memorable keynote address.

This year, Danny Glover gave a short and powerful keynote speech which focused in part on the question "What would Martin Luther King, Jr. say about the conditions in Haiti?"

Glover's question was one that showed up in many of the speeches delivered by the morning's politicians: What would MLK have to say about what is going on today's world? And what would he do? One politician suggested that King would be leading a march on Washington to fight for health care reform.

Other highlights of the event included high-octane performances throughout the show by the New Life Tabernacle Mass Choir and by Kenny Muhammed, The Human Orchestra.


This is part of a series of posts dedicated to February's Black History Month.

Last Wednesday, January 26, The Paley Media Center held a permiere screening and panel discssion of VH1's Rock Doc Soul Train: the Hippest Trip in America. The makers of this film did an amazing job of capturing the historical significance of Soul Train as well as the accomplishments of its founder, owner, and host Don Cornelius.

Interesting Facts About Soul Train

* Soul Train is the longest continuously-running first-run syndicated television program in the country.

* The dancers on Soul Train were the heart of the show, but were not paid. As guest panelist and Soul Train dancer Tyrone Proctor said, "Dancers are often at the bottom of the totem pole."

* Chicago native and Soul Train founder Don Cornelius, an interviewer of players in the Civil Rights Movement, was one of the first African heritage people to own and run a television show. He hosted the show from 1971 until 1993 an and guest hosts appeared from then until 2006, including Mystro Clark, Shemar Moore, and Dorian Gregory. Cornelius, who owned the show for its entire run, sold it to MadVision Entertainment in 2008.

* Don was not a big fan of Hip-Hop, but aired the artists anyway because he wished to give people what they wanted.

The Panel Discussion

The post-screening panel discussion was made up of these folks:

Moderator: Danyel Smith, Music Journalist (who also appears in the film)

Guests: Big Bank Hank from The Sugar Hill Gang (of Rapper's Delight fame)
Questlove, Drummer for the Roots, Creator of Musical Score for the documentary
Tyronne Proctor, Soul Train Dancer, Choreographer

By the time all the panelists got up to the stage, Danyel Smith was choking back tears of deeply-felt emotion. I think the deep significance of this film and of the show had hit her.

Big Bank Hank, of Sugarhill Gang fame, said right after the screening: "I'm standing on history, on sacred ground." He shared that although Don was noted to not have big love for Hip-Hop, Mr. Cornelius gave Hank a warm welcome onto the set.

From the number of stories shared by Tyronne, the former Soul Train dancer, you could see that the dancers were truly the heart and soul of the show. In order to get onto the set, Tyronne was smuggled in via the trunk of a car! He talked about the anticipation of each weekend that the show was filmed, and of the reciprocal admiration between the show's dancers and its musical guests. Tyronne talked about how Don Cornelius made something which was audio - African American music - into something visual. There were other former Soul Train dancers in the audience, and they shared their own vignettes from back in the day.

Questlove said although his parents were strict with him growing up, even on the tv-watching front, they did wake him up at 12:30 am so he could join the family in watching the 1:00 am airing of Soul Train (that's the time it came on in Philly). Since the early years of Soul Train episodes were not recorded, Quest worked his ass off to find and collect VHS recordings of the show from as far away as Japan. He is said to carry the whole show around in a bag of VHS tapes! Here's an exerpt of Glide Magazine's interview with him about his work on the Soul Train doc:
Soul Train is probably the most influential show of my entire life. It’s often pained me that I would have to go through extreme measure$ – and when you spell the word “measures,” there should be a dollar sign through the “s” at the end of “measures” – to collect the show. I guess the reason it’s so hard to get is, not foreseeing the future of VHS and DVDs, you know, a digital future, Don [Cornelius] really never made any publishing arrangements or artist arrangements for future reruns or reselling of the show. It prevented Soul Train from ever showing reruns, even though the original show lasted for a good 36 seasons.


Strange enough, the one of maybe four shows that I was allowed to watch in my childhood was Soul Train. So, this instantly became a labor of love because a lot of my memories of first seeing television, all of them have to do with Soul Train. It was kind of scaring people a little bit, because as they were showing me the reruns, I was recalling to them . . . At first, they didn’t believe me. They were like, “Ok, what three-year-old has a memory of Michael Jackson doing the robot for the first time?” It would be to the point where they would ask me, “Well, what are your memories of episode 206, with the Average White Band and the Main Ingredient?” And I’d be like, “Ok, they were performing on the floor. I remember Don Cornelius talking about collard greens and black-eyed peas in the introduction.” And they started jaw dropping, because they put the tape in, and you know, I’ve not seen this since I was a kid. It’s because it was the only thing I was allowed to watch. My parents didn’t want me sitting in front of a TV four to five hours a day. Instead, I sat in front of a turntable four to five hours a day.