Katie Babs O’Hara

If it ain’t fittin’, it ain’t fittin’. And the crimson velvet tiered monstrosity on Barbra Streisand at the Grammys most definitely wudn’t fittin’. She looked liked she’d grabbed Mrs. O’Hara’s other set of drapes. At least she didn’t sport her usual choker. Did anyone else catch how the pyramid shape of that nightmare gave every indication she is hiding a super late in life pregnancy? Not good. Even more shocking, for the first time in my experience, her golden voice sounded…diminished.

As a third grader, my first act upon returning to home was sprawling upon the rug in front of the stereo and listening to those early LPs – The Barbra Streisand Album , The Second Barbra Streisand Album, The Third Barbra Streisand Album, Funny Girl (the Broadway show, not the movie). Get the picture? I could not soak in enough of her sound.

When we moved from Maryland to New Jersey, our family spent a cozy summer at the Arcola Motor Lodge, conveniently situated directly on scenic Route 4 in beautiful Paramus. Every time I spotted a road sign saying “Hackensack,” I swooned. As far as I was concerned, I had arrived in the Promised Land. As in, Who Taught Her Everything She Knows. As in: “Who taught her how to whack/a joke from here to Hackensack,/Ya-ha-ha-ha.” In my feverish and deluded imagination, I expected Ms. Streisand herself to come hoofing down the highway.

My parents did give me the next best thing. For my tenth birthday they surprised me with tickets for Funny Girl on Broadway. Everyone but wee Hot Pants went. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Mah and Daddy.

Like most sane folk, my Barbra mania did run its course. The early years, when Peter Matz did her arrangements, were nothing short of spectacular. Even up to The Way We Were era, she was putting out some great work. But once she became a legend in her own mind and surrounded herself with yes people, her singing devolved into a coma of excrutiatingly slow nonsense. Let’s not even mention the self involved liner notes.

I do believe attention must be paid to the fact that she made the world realize how beautiful Jewish women are. For that, I am forever grateful.

Now I call her The Sore Winner. When friends asked if I were going to her big 90’s concerts, I told them, “Oh, I’ve already seen her live.”

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