For Midweek Madness, Daltrey, Townshend, The Who, a worthy charity, and Streisand video
Excuse the shameless name-dropping, but I had lunch this week with Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend.
OK, a whole bunch of other members of the National Press Club and their guests did, too. But, hey, I was at the head table, so there.
The main reason why the surviving original members of The Who stopped by the club the day before their Washington concert was to discuss a charity they are heavily and admirably involved in -- Teen Cancer America. (You can watch the whole thing, thanks to C-Span.)
The project is based on a successful program Daltrey and Townshend support in the UK, Teen Cancer Trust, which helps provide dedicated spaces for teen cancer patients in hospitals. This allows teens to be grouped together in their own area, complete with common kitchens.
As Daltrey, sporting a terrific Victorian-influenced outfit, explained at the luncheon, teens "don't want teddy bears, and they don't want to be with adults." Being a teen is difficult enough; being a teen with a major illness adds extra layers of stress.
Daltrey said that a soon-to-be-released study in the UK will report ...
a 10-15 percent improvement in survival rates for teens hospitalized with cancer since the teen-friendly facilities were introduced there. That sounds "f***ing amazing," to borrow a phrase from Townshend, who was quite the entertainer when he got his turn at the microphone.
So far, hospitals associated with UCLA and Duke University have embraced the project. Others are likely to follow (how about it, Johns Hopkins?), especially as Daltrey and Townshend continue helping to raise awareness and money. As Daltrey said, "All you rich rock stars out there: Get off your butts."
During the extensive Q&A, after the focus shifted from the cancer project, I especially loved how Townshend answered a question about his early musical influences, giving a whole lot of credit to Ella Fitzgerald. "No one can come closer to her," he said. Amen.
And it was pretty cool to hear him also mention that he had been listening to the late eminent Hungarian composer Gyorgy Ligeti on the plane to the States. (Never mind that the name is properly pronounced with the accent on the first syllable. I wouldn't dream of ruining Townshend's little joke about enjoying a piece by Ligeti "as I ate my spaghetti.")
OK, now that I have covered all of that, it's time for your Midweek Madness treat. The experience of hobnobbing with The Who made me think there must be a way to work some sort of Who-ness into the picture. I remembered a droll music video Daltrey made with Barbra Streisand and Mikhail Baryshnikov way back in the heyday of music videos. Perfect choice, I thought. So here goes:
GETTY IMAGES PHOTO