Sinatra Gave Us “Cool”
So we’ve all had lots of time to watch Netflix and all the rest of the streaming services that have little by little replaced network television in our hearts.
One of the things I love so much about this new entertainment chapter is the seemingly endless supply of new and interesting programming available any time night or day.
Last night at 9:30 as I crawled into bed, plumped my pillows and pulled the comfy quilt up underneath my chin, I began the flipping process hoping to land on something new and wonderful to capture my attention and escape the unpleasant reality of our COVID-covered world.
And there it was, right up front on Netflix, Sinatra, All or Nothing at all.
If there are two things my generation never seems to tire of it’s waxing nostalgic and Frank Sinatra.
So of course I began the journey of his life from birth to the end and although I had heard most of it thousands of times, I was transfixed once again.
After I’d finished watching the two-part series in tears of course, I wondered what it was about this man that so captivates and sustains our interest.
Oh yes of course we’ve had numerous superstar singers in our lifetimes, Elvis, John Lennon, Barbra, Mathis, Sammy Davis Jr. and they’ve all managed to attain legendary status.
But they just weren’t Sinatra, he was truly an original.
So why was he different? There are many reasons he’s been set apart, but one I think stands out for me…he bridges the gap between our childhoods, our rebellious teen years and our coming-of-age adulthood. His highly publicized ups and downs were out there to see and learn from.
Frank followed us through every stage of Baby Boomer life. It’s as if he arrived first to set the stage and then set the bar for cool.
Sinatra created cool. He was the very embodiment of the word and everything he touched absorbed the “coolness” from him. He and the Rat Pack even made a tacky place like Las Vegas cool. So much so that as a comedian playing Vegas for the first time I cried when I looked up and saw my name under Dean Martin’s on the marquis on the Strip.
Despite the fact he was our parents’ age, we still liked him, watched his movies and bought his records. Of course at the time we didn’t realize that one of the reasons we would not only embrace him as an artist and come to respect him as a person was that he had conquered life on his own terms.
He’d been repelled by racism and done something about it, he’d shown unbelievable loyalty to his friends, many of whom didn’t show up for him during the bad times, he’d been flawed and filled with faults, but compensated by possessing an incredible human side too endearing to ignore. He was simply his own man and no one owned or controlled him.
He didn’t worry about social norms, other’s insecurities or allowing anyone to set his limitations. He was in a word, Sinatra, and that word became a verb for our generation.
Despite mistakes he fought his way back to the top achieving even greater success and sang about high hopes and that little ant that could move a rubber tree plant. We believed him because why wouldn’t we, he was Sinatra? The man was a legend and yet just a regular Joe from Hoboken.
An ordinary guy who now hung with the 400 Newport set. He’d been at the forefront of Jack Kennedy’s election, a president we idolized. He could walk the streets of Harlem and relate to the people struggling to make it out and his humanity always shown through.
He was a strong force and didn’t need Facebook or Twitter to broadcast his message or retain fame. We didn’t have social media to point out all the shortcomings of our heroes and I’m thinking we were much the better for that.
He showed us another side of entertainers we loved like Sammy, Dean or Peter. If you hung with Sinatra and had his blessing, you had ours.
He lived the way so many wished they could. While most of us got up, went to work, raised our families, clipped coupons and wondered how actresses stayed so thin, he was Sinatraing his way through life. Dating beautiful women, hopping on planes to exciting destinations at a moment’s notice, hobnobbing with the most interesting and glamorous people in the world while doing the work he loved. He was living the Hefner dream, and men salivated while women found a strange, dreamy escape just hearing his voice.
Sinatra made no apologies, yet he acknowledged his mistakes and regrets, and like all of us he was incredibly human while creating the impression he wasn’t at all.
In the age of Superman who disguised as Clark Kent could leap tall buildings in a single bound, Sinatra leapt over convention and life’s obstacles to “do it his way.”
We never had any illusions about being Superman and those who attempted flying wound up in hospital emergency rooms with broken limbs. Yet somewhere deep inside we all believed we could be Sinatra. Cool, persistent, and able to leap over life’s insurmountable hurdles, while remaining hip and happening no matter what life threw our way. He wasn’t politically correct and shamelessly adored women and called them “dolls,” but that was a different era and he was a man of his times.
I was never lucky or perhaps unlucky enough to meet him, (that whole taboo about meeting our idols) but when I was the editor of the newspaper in Beverly Hills I attended a party after he was gone that Barbara Sinatra threw at his home in Palm Springs. I stood in the billiard room scanning the photos of the Rat Pack and others who’d held one of the pool cues lined up on the wall, glazed over like someone in a room filled with famous ghosts.
A final point, I was with friends in Miami when I was twenty-one years old. One night we went to Jilly’s hoping to catch a glimpse of Frank and his friends at one of their favorite haunts.
No we didn’t see The Voice or any members of the Rat Pack that night, but I had the best Egg Foo Young I’ve ever eaten. Yes, for those who know me, and how much I love food I reiterate, best anywhere anytime!
All I can say is leave it to Frank Sinatra to know where to get the best Egg Foo Young. But of course when you’re that cool, you would, right?
Crispy Chocolate Egg Foo Young
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1 cup almonds
1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 cup chocolate chips (may use semi sweet, milk, dark or white as you prefer)
Beat eggs and add all ingredients. Pour into ¼ inch canola oil mixed with 1 tablespoon butter. Fry until crispy on both sides.
Serve with melted chocolate sauce.
Melted chocolate sauce
1 cup semi sweet chocolate morsels
½ cup milk chocolate morsels or block form
1 cup cream
1 teaspoon of rum flavoring or champagne whatever you choose. This is optional if you want it family friendly.
Heat cream until hot, but not boiling and pour over chocolate then mix until melted. Add liquor of your choice, and mix.
Pour over chocolate Egg Foo Young or any dessert you wish.