This Post Has Balls

FFFF has a lady blogger?

Dan Chmielewski of The Liberal OC aired what sounded like a very personal grudge against anonymous bloggers and commenters at the NUFF Forum featuring five well known political bloggers. He said that those who didn’t sign their name “lacked testicular fortitude.”

The Constitution guarantees free speech, and those who wish to do so anonymously aren’t exempt from this. To say they lack testicular fortitude is jumping to conclusions. Art Pedroza pointed out that Benjamin Franklin had -at various points prior to the American Revolution, written several opinions anonymously. Did this make his points less valuable? No, it didn’t.

Now, does it irritate Dan Chmielewski that he doesn’t know the identity of many of FFFF’s bloggers and commenters? Yes, it probably does. However, deciding that someone’s opinion is invalid or that they personally lack “testicular fortitude” because they haven’t attached their name signals his unwillingness to separate annoying from invalid.

When it was pointed out that many people didn’t want to suffer the possibility of retribution, this was similarly dismissed by Dan. “We don’t live in that kind of society anymore,” he proclaimed, ignoring his own brand of self righteous vitriol.

Again, Dan was incorrect.  The vitriol you see on the boards is often played out in real life. Last November,  Sean C. gave a 2-star review for Ocean Books in San Fransisco. The owner contacted him via the Yelp messaging system and attacked him, culminating in her threat: “Goodbye pussy boy and I will be contacting your employers.”

After having the debacle exposed on the Yelp bulletin boards, the owner of the bookstore figured out his last name, tracked him down using the internet, went to his house and attacked him. She was booked on charges of assault and battery.

The autumn of 2009 also brought forth another incident, now very well known involving  Army Sgt. C.J. Grisham, of the popular military blog A Soldier’s Perspective. Grisham, using his own name and on his own private blog, wrote about his experience at a PTA meeting. Despite his requests, Robert’s Rules of Order were ignored by the principal and the PTA president so that a very costly measure demanding school uniforms was railroaded through. His exposure of the events of the evening, along with a video resulted in the Principal of the school contacting the U.S. Army. Here’s where it gets really ugly. C.J. wrote poignantly of his struggle with PTSD on his blog. After culling through his hundreds of posts, she then used this knowledge to paint a very different picture of his demeanor that evening during one of her many calls to his commanding officers. The whole thing unravels as the principal decides to further her reach and begin a series of humiliating dressing downs of his children, students at her school.

The upshot is that the Army decided to kowtow to the Principal, wishing to curtail the controversy. However, C.J. was made to feel that it would be best to shut down his blog. This soldier, who has been decorated with a Bronze Star with a “V” device also had a divot place in his otherwise pristine record. The Grishams have had huge support from the military community, and are now suing the school district. A Soldier’s Perspective blog was bought by a coalition.

Those are but two examples of not only personal attacks and harassment, but one that involved someone contacting the blogger’s place of employment. Dan of The Liberal OC was dead wrong in his assessment.  As blogging, and microblogging replaces traditional journalism, the boundaries are constantly being tested. One look through the Media Bloggers Association website will show you the treacherous and now litigious waters are where bloggers swim.

A Parallel Universe: No Laptops For These Kids

The school is situated in a leafy glen, smack in the middle of a sophisticated and cosmopolitan city in the Southeast United States. We’re here because kid #2 is testing into its upper school. Nervous? Well, we should be, but we know that her K-8 years in Fullerton have prepared her well. She’s had diligent teachers, a solid home environment and the helpful staff at the Richman Boys And Girls Club who’ve been instrumental in taking her and some lucky teenagers through a nationally recognized leadership program. The only thing she hasn’t had, was a laptop. Her school, Beechwood, has never embraced the program or the belief that they were necessary for success.

The private school here is the stuff you dream of: tetherballs in the lower schools situated in the middle of forest surrounded by tall trees. The sixty-five acre campus is awash with nature. Most students have attended since Pre-K and will graduate with their high school diploma.  The teachers are vibrant. Many went to Ivy League colleges, and some have doctorates. They come here because they can teach subjects in depth, while enjoying the support of parents and the enthusiasm of children and teens.

Yet, for all its bells and whistles –which are considerable, the school does not allow students to bring laptops on campus. Why? Because everything is provided for them at school. The computer lab looks similar to the ones found at the public high schools in Fullerton, as do the classrooms and library. But, while the computer is heavily used, they also put a lot of stock into writing with paper and pencil –the kind of writing that catches kids off guard, makes them think on their feet without the luxury of googling for facts, that challenges to formulate a story, idea, argument –and support it all on their own. Tiring? You betcha. That’s the point.

So, if a top tier school that has 19 AP courses, whose students apply to an average of 13 colleges, are admitted into the best colleges and universities, and has garnered over $4 million in Merit Scholarships doesn’t support personal laptops in school, why should we?

Granted, a lot of the students could probably well afford it. Most of them might have them at home.  But one thing we noticed was that the students were actively engaged with the instructor. In other words, they were being taught how to learn, to interact, to figure things out. They were listening to the ideas of the other students. They weren’t on their laptops, googling, facebooking, or IM’ing.

The Fullerton School District would be far better off taking those precious resources and investing heavily in leadership skills, the humanities, and social skills that will help the students function in times of adversity. Adversity? Of course. As much as parents want to plan their children’s lives, the only certainty in life is that  no matter how well you’re doing, bad things and unfortunate times  take place. Plans change constantly, and the more we prepare our children for it, the better they will fare. Nothing should be etched in stone except for your love.

FFFF makes no secret of its opposition to the laptop program. But, we’re not Luddites. The fight against it has been led by Travis, who makes his living in the field using and refining internet technology.  What is so appalling about the program is the presumption that laptops are the key to a portal that leads to instant success. It’s simply not true.

We also know that not all kids are college bound, and worse, many enroll without knowing why they are there. Paranoia gives rise to the worst kind of snobbishness –the type that warns children if they don’t follow a beaten path, they will fail in life. This paranoia drives parents to go in debt using high interest credit cards to buy laptops in the hope that the magic of Google will take up permanent residence in their child’s brain. This snobbery drives kids crazy, it depresses them, can even extinguish their deepest desires.

One friend of mine, a social networking theorist with many advanced degrees (and clients to boot) has said that the students who are going to do the best over the next 20 years are the ones who make their living by touching something. That is, healing, building, fixing, growing, organizing, and making things. With this in mind, the school district would be far better off giving each kid a tool kit, a community project, and a detailed lesson in financial management.

What we know is the most interesting and fulfilled adults are often the ones who have overcome great adversity and started off with little. What do they have? Passion, vision, timing. And most of all, persistence and the willingness to work hard and take risks.

This top private school has spent considerable time developing an ethics program. They care very deeply about the character of each student. They place students into very good colleges, including the Ivy Leagues. Many have gone on and will continue to do so to write books, found non profit organizations, lead corporations and be innovators in established and new fields. If they have done all of this without requiring laptops for every students, then we shouldn’t see them as a classroom necessity either.

The Sunday Drive: A Heap O’ Trouble In Vegas and Links To Milblogs

3 days of blogging gluttony in Las Vegas
3 days of blogging gluttony in Las Vegas

Okay, we’re giving you a lot of good links in this post. Click on ’em all.

Right now the Divine Miss K is listening to French Radio on Pandora. She’s also wondering if it in any way is connected to this weird dream about people smoking cigars. Hack hack….phooooo

Yes, it’s confirmed. Courtesy of the most testosterone driven milbloggers at Blackfive, the Divine Miss K will be in Las Vegas at Blog World Expo. She’ll also be visiting her time-to-time haunt over at the Blogcritics. It’ll be a chance to pick up some work, meet a bunch of fellow bloggers, and see which tech companies are folding in on one another.

Learn more about it at the Divine Miss K’s Milblog, The Kitchen Dispatch, by clicking the icon on the sidebar. Btw… The Kitchen Dispatch was named “the best milspouse blog going” by no less than BabaTim of the excellent Afghanistan Blog Free Range International. The two blogs are the yin and yang of war.

Side rant: For a long time now, that other paper has run death stats of the wars in their paper. Though they are stats we in the milcommunity should and do keep in mind, they have, like many,  boiled it down to this one sad, but true aspect. War is horrible. The many issues and people involved are deep and complex. But given the source, it’s par for their course. Though J. Dobrer’s August column was well intentioned, it’s also served as a reminder of the same elitism, snobbery and odd-distancing that has long entrenched this burg. He was surprised to be moved when he saw the ghost of the Twin Towers, though how anyone would not be is beyond my comprehension.  I traveled there after a friend lost her husband in the horror. Let’s just say… I will never forget those crowds, the feeling of being pushed, the lights, the sounds, the smell and the finality of it all. And when I was there this summer,  the effect was no less.

9/11 Memorial On A Fence In Chelsea (NYC)
9/11 Memorial On A Fence In Chelsea (NYC)

He was however, correct about Al Qaeda.

The suggestion: The Divine Miss K highly recommends some of the side links on  The Kitchen Dispatch to various milblogs. Each one will take the reader out of their comfort zone.  But then that’s the point isn’t it?  But this opinionating is for naught, since the hoi polloi claims to “never read the blog.”

Back to blogging: Hope to see you there.

Coyote Hills; The Last Piece of Chevron’s Pie

Great things happen over an al fresco meal of fresh veg accompanied by gin & tonic.ginimages
As we looked out over the valley, we remembered the time one would drive up Beach Blvd. and is soon as you hit Rosecrans, darkness would descend until you hit Imperial. There was nothing there. But of course, in the name of progress there are houses and apartments there now. Dusk was settling over La Habra Heights –a great thing to see since you can still see the hills. No home is allowed to build above the ridgeline. And then we talked about the work of a sainted few in faraway La Habra Heights, who saved a special place called Powder Canyon.

Which brought us to the issue of Coyote Hills and the small group of people who have been trying to get our attention with their hand painted signs on Euclid and Bastanchury. You see, they get no respect. Which is a painful thing because damn….they’ve been toiling for so freakin’ long.

But of course this is the problem. Because if you’re going to do work of this sort sometimes taking the meek respectable posture isn’t the way to go.

Sometimes you just have to be all out –well, “Heightsian” for lack of a more diplomatic word.

Seems to us that the problem with the whole Coyote Hills fandangle is that this sucker wasn’t put to bed long ago.

300hThat’s right, a lack of vision has hindered what seems to us to be an obvious move.

Chevron has owned the land bordered by Beach, Rosecrans, Imperial and Euclid since before you or I were born. They have drilled, pumped, done research and in the process not only made money here, but also used the research to help make more money elsewhere.

Now, we could get rely on the spinal cord reaction and say “property owner’s rights to do whatever they damn well please,” but that’s not our style. When Chevron pulled out, they left behind a large parcel of undeveloped land behind what was then their research HQ.

Since the mid 1990’s, the area has been graded, millions of cubic yards of dirt have been moved and the result was not one, but at least three housing developments on Rosecrans, Beach, and Euclid, but also the addition of big outdoor shopping center.

So what we have in Fullerton is the very last parcel of undeveloped land. No orange groves have been planted –it’s pretty much in its natural state.


So we ask, why do they need to build more homes? Looking at the big picture, they’ve already built enough. And looking at our real estate ads, there are no shortage of homes for sale. It’s not the money. They get $40 bucks from us each time we fill up the tank. Multiply this by 4, that’s $160 a month. Then do that by twelve and yes, it’s Chevron easily can take in $1200 a year from on individual (since a lot of Fullertonians don’t take either the bus or the train).

Why not leave this last parcel of land as it is –for us to enjoy? What we say is…. no houses. We’re not willing to concede a single foot of that land to build more houses.

If you think this is outrageous, well, maybe it is. But what’s even more crazy is that acoyotemedium_CAPTURED_COYOTE high percentage of people here have little connection to nature whatsoever. Their lives are drive, mall, mall, internet, mall, mall, restaurant, drive… oh what the hell.

Besides, after the development of all the lands around Bastanchury and Brea Boulevard, quite frankly ….we’re on the side of those two scrawny coyotes that come out every day at 4 p.m. looking for food and water.

Alas, we could have offered them gin and tonic. But we know better than that.

To Blog or Not To Blog

I think I can, I think I can...

Back not long ago from Savannah, and now off to grab some work in NYC. Next month it’s another airport, another city, another hope that the little TV in the seat in front of me works. I hope the flight attendants don’t get snarky, and I wish one would give me the whole damned bottle of water rather than offering a little cup. I also hope the TSA doesn’t rifle through my bags and take things. So before I make friends with the seat tray table on Jet Blue, I wanted to mention my thoughts on Councilwoman Keller’s suggestion of a city blog.

If the city wants to blog, fine. There’s always room for more blogs in the blogosphere and there’s nothing anyone can do to prevent it. Doesn’t matter to me what format they take, but a blog without comments really isn’t a blog at all. What she describes is a Q&A page tacked onto their existing website.

After all, what makes blogging relevant and exciting is the participation of commenters who can add to a given topic.

For a very long time, it seems there was one primary means of public communication in this town. Whether or not you agreed with The Fullerton Observer, it was pretty much the only deal out there. There wasn’t a regular outlet for the mass dispersal of a differing viewpoint, so then it seems the slogan of Fullerton becomes, “More, more of the same!”  But one day,  along comes the blogosphere. Suddenly there’s a free and easy way to express oneself.  So the Admin starts it. He’s just a basic blogger, not a techie, but it doesn’t matter. He has about 3 decades worth of stuff to say.  More writers join. The sucker takes off. FFFF is horse with wings. It’s linking to other blogs and soon more and more people know about it and people can’t stop clicking on it because it’s saying so many things that people have felt  for a long time.

It’s like someone said, “Okay, you can talk now,” and a torrent came pouring forth. At times it’s articulate, other times it veers into the lunacy of The Three Stooges. It’s not always a happy, jolly place where the birds sing and everyone holds hands in a permanent Stepford trance. No, there are rants, pouts, and the occasional barfing onto the screen. In other words: welcome to the blogosphere. Once you start, there’s no way of stopping.

The lessons for everyone to remember, but most especially those who detract from the blogosphere, are that it’s incorrect to think blogs have less importance and impact than publications in print. It’s also faulty to believe that blogs exist separate from the rest of the world. In fact, they are a reflection of it. All blogs, including FFFF are a vital part of the community. Their voice is as valid  as any other.

The Sunday Drive: A break from everything else

Bonaventure Cemetery was established in 1846

Yes, it may be said. Their dead are a lot fancier than ours.

The admin thought it best to give everyone a break and take you on a ride to Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah. I suspect he wants a break from his Crackberry. Just take a break, hold the posts until Monday. I’ll take the Lord’s day, you plot the barbs you’re planning for next week.

Going to the cemetery is something I was raised doing. A few times a year, we’d clean up around where our grandparents lay, put flowers on the grave, then walk around trying to find the most unusual headstone, or better yet, go toward the pauper’s end of the cemetery and see how many had been added. But inevitably, the graves that always made us pause were those of children our age. Because we were a cemetery family, there wasn’t a summer vacation where we didn’t stop in at some obscure cemetery to visit its dead. Even photographs of funeral pyres taken during a trip to Nepal passed around after dinner were not considered unusual. Which reminds me, someday I’ll have to tell you about my labrador’s ashes.

And so a trip through Thunderbolt to see one of the grandest cemeteries in the nation was a natural thing for me. It’s off the road to Tybee Island, past stately Georgian brick homes, rib shacks, a perfect 50’s Buick and Cadillac dealer and other assorted businesses. Bonaventure used to be the outskirts of town –typical placement for a cemetery, and the city of Savannah grew around it.

"Eliza Wilhemina Theus" died 1895
"Eliza Wilhemina Theus" died 1895

Locals have said that “to be buried in Bonaventure Cemetery is better than being alive in most other places.” For almost 200 years, confederates, war heroes, city founders, children and gentlewomen have been buried here. They even moved some of the colonials here, like Noble Wimberly Jones. (Which, I think, is a smashing name).

Savannah deftly combines  beauty and tragedy. This is the city  that provided the bedrock for Flannery O’Connor, Conrad Aiken,  and a wistful Johnny Mercer. From obelisks, sculptures, wrought iron fences and replicas of pearly gates, the cemetery is shaded by large trees covered with Spanish Moss. Each grave tells a story. Eliza Wilhemina Theus was the devoted wife of a southern gentleman and confederate soldier named Thomas Theus. He erected this large statue for her, then waited eight years before passing himself. Corinne Elliot Lawton died the night before her wedding in 1877. She sits waiting on the steps of her grave, the epitaph reads, “Allured to brighter worlds and led the way.”

"Allured to brighter worlds and led the way."
"Allured to brighter worlds and led the way."

There are plots with entire families, many with small graves for children, even statues that look like them. There are soldiers from every war: from The War Of Northern Aggression, the Spanish-American War, and all others after. At the end of our wander, we came across the resting place of one of my favorite poets,  Conrad Aiken, who penned these words:

I cannot remember the softness of a kiss,
The fleeting warmth of a breath.
The evening falls, and brings me only this —
The melancholy of some forgotten death.

Poet and writer, Conrad Aiken
Poet and writer, Conrad Aiken

After seeing so many graves, we finally reached the Wilmington River. With its sweeping views, tragic stories of the dead, beautiful sculptures and towering trees, Bonaventure is one of the great romantic cemeteries in the country.

Ironically, Thunderbolt is one of the areas I’ve been looking for a home in. It could be that one day, I might end up here myself. But before I do, I’d prefer to fulfill the destiny of becoming one of the local eccentrics who stops by, walks the dog, and has a chat with Miss Lawton.

For more on my trip to Savannah go to my blog. Then type in “Savannah” in the search box.

The Sunday Drive ( a break from everything else)

The canopies of trees hold the city together
The canopies of trees hold the city together

Click to bigify images

The other day, while driving along Chapman, I was struck by the scrawny Bottle brush trees pruned to the point of embarrassment and disgrace.  I’ve seen some of the worst examples of improper pruning of both trees and shrubs in Fullerton –both along boulevards and at private homes. Who are these morons with saws?  I thought I’d share some of what I look forward to seeing when I go back.

Savannah is a cosmopolitan city with a mix of old and new. It’s an old city, one where history matters and has played a role in the shaping of it. One of the things that grabs the first time visitor are the trees. There are giant oaks draped with Spanish moss. The delicate but strong strands of moss takes over every thing from trees to camellias and azaleas. But the greenery seems to hold the entire city together giving it a level of comfort and sophistication.

These oaks were planted in 1890
These oaks were planted in 1890

There is a stately grandeur about these trees. Nowhere is this seen better than the oak alley planted along the road to Wormsloe Plantation. Wormsloe was built in 1740 by one of the original settlers, Noble Jones. What’s left of Savannah’s first fort are the “Tabby” ruins, a mixture of lime, sand, and oyster shell halves thrown in for good measure. While the ruins are interesting, it’s the alley that everyone remembers and associates with plantation landscapes.

Provide tranquility in the middle of the city.
Tranquility in the middle of the city.

One of my favorite finds was the discovery of two secret gardens. Secret meaning they’re private and I peeked through a fence. The two gardens shown here belong to townhouses along busy streets. They provide the owners respite in an area where funeral hearses are resurrected as tour buses, and the usual mix of tourists and business crowd the area.

Dock across bulrushes to the river
Dock across bulrushes to the river

Anyway, the grace of the trees and the way the moss takes over everything is part of what makes the city so beautiful. Further out, along the river, there is much scenery to take in as well. I find the natural landscape evocative of where I grew up. The bulrushes are beautiful as well. Here’s the dock over by a house we looked at to buy. This is the stuff of dreams as well.

Secret Garden Spied Through A Fence
Secret Garden Spied Through A Fence

Two Art Openings: Lost California and Lost Fullerton

A Photography Exhibit
A Photography Exhibit

Because she’s so terribly popular, The Divine MissK gets press releases like this one. Sometimes she has to rewrite them as well:

Eric Berg & Early California Antiques present
Lost California
Photography Exhibit

WHO: Eric Berg & California Antiques present “Lost California” rare Photography Exhibit.

April 29th, 2009, showing through to May 31st

WHAT: “Lost California” is a photography exhibit of rare and never before seen photos depicting the development of California from the orange groves and oil wells to Spanish revival and Monterey homes for which the city is famous. The exhibit includes personal photographers from the Marcel Picard estate. Picard, a noted director of photography of 1930’s films such as Adventures of the Masked Phantom and Get that Venus is best known for working with Will Rogers. All photos are available for purchase and in price from $20.00 to $2,500.00.

WHEN: Opening reception – Wednesday, April 29th, 2009 5pm – 9pm

WHERE: Early California Antiques –
4032 Melrose Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90029
Cross street South side on Melrose, just east of Heliotrope.

Eric Berg is excited to showcase over 300 black and white, hand tinted and original photographs in a show that chronicles life in  California prior to World War Two. “Lost California” captures the majestic pacific coast  to the lofty airplane factories. This exhibit will give viewers an up-close and Picard’s personal view of our history.


Photography by Julius Shulman
Photography by Julius Shulman

And just so you know that we’re not complete snobs who hang out on Melrose and wear black while hobnobbing with reality TV stars, we’re also pleased to tell you about something local.

How many others remember playing in homes decorated with Eames chairs, rice paper lamps and Knoll tables? Oh, please, The Divine MissK is now dating herself. She should stop before she tells you about Tang (the astronauts drank it, you know).

So here’s the release:

“Forever Fullerton: Julius Shulman
Open to the public April 4-July 19

Julius Shulman is one of the best known architectural photographers in the world. In the 1950s and 1960s, he did extensive work in Fullerton documenting houses and other buildings in town.” (Such an understatement!! Darlings!!! Why not drop the names A. Quincy Jones,  Eichler and Case Study homes into the mix? In fact, does anyone else remember the Case Study Home show at the old “Temporary Contemporary Museum” way back when? If you do, then ten points to Hogwarts).

“A Conversation with Julius Shulman” (You should go to this. Astronauts would, you know.)

“Saturday, May 9 at 2:00 p.m.

Really, those times were so cool. I even had go-go boots.

$12 general admission/$10 museum members” (Mention this blog, get no discount and two big strong escorts who will throw you out!)

“Julius Shulman will make a rare appearance at the Fullerton Museum Center with Michael Stern and Alan Hess. Learn about the work Julius Shulman did in Fullerton during the 1950s and 1960s.”

Just Wondering: Covenant Of The Lost Art

Guggenheim Productions
Industrialist Norton Simon

Update: Please check recommended reading list based on what’s come up in the comments at: Of Interest.

As long as we’re going down the hallways of myopic design and architecture in our fair city, there is a bigger but forgotten side story that bears remembering. After all, a loss this big should never have happened.

Since almost 40 years have passed, the story bears repeating for those who were too young, and others who are new to the city.

When one sees the Hunt Library through the eyes of an architectural aficionado, one can’t help but be stunned. How did this building get here? Along with the now shuttered and desecrated Hunt Foods, it was part of an overall design by nationally renown architect William Pereira. Pereira, an architect and designer of office buildings (The TransAmerica Building), museums, university campuses (UCSD) and entire cities (the Irvine Masterplan) designed the now forlorn library. Why was this here? How? The old Hunt Foods was shuttered –a victim of an economic move out of state.  I requested the records from the city clerk and read how this building came into being. In addition, I revisited my salad-days haunt in Pasadena, watched a movie, and read the only biography of Norton Simon. (Later, the book & movie were donated to the Hunt Library).

The TransAmerican BuildingAt one point, the Hunt Library was part of the campus of Hunt Foods, owned by an entrepreneur and industrialist Norton Simon. In 1927, he and his family purchased an old orange juice bottling company in Fullerton. Over the years, they added more produce and vegetables and most notably proceeded to turn tomato sauce and ketchup into gold.

He became rich –so rich that he bought other companies. He also collected art. Loads of it. Art was on the walls of his home, in the Hunt offices and in the Periera-designed library next door. He shared his art with school children. It has been hailed as the most significant private art collections in the world. In it are collections of the Impressionists, Old Masters, Flemish, Baroque, East Indian, and Asian artifacts —his curiosity about the world was answered by art.

By 1974, he wanted to find a home for his collection.

The rest of the story and the sad conclusion may be seen in the video below.

Simon died in 1993.

Just Wondering: What else would have developed along the industrial corridors where the museum would have gone? What impact would a deeper appreciation for culture and art have on the values of a community? How would having a world class collection of art supported smaller venues such as The Muckenthaler, The Fullerton Art Museum, and even those things budgeted under community services? What effect might this have had on future building projects? What can we learn from this, and is there a place in our city for an aesthetic shaped by a deep understanding of art and culture in a time when bigger, cheaper, homogeneous and beige is deemed more reasonable?

At a time when sweeping changes are being proposed,  when city services are being cut, and when we can point to regrettable changes in our downtown landscape, it’s time to see the relationship between how we make choices to live as well as art and design.

“Art is the signature of civilizations.” –Opera Singer Beverly Sills