Archive for The Way We Were

Always gentle on your mind

“Love in the real world is a mixture of the magical and the mundane, and the two never intersected more beautifully than in this Jim Webb classic.” — Me, after proposing a Valentine’s Day mixtape.

As Webb himself will tell you, it’s as much the singer as the song. And for “Wichita Lineman,” he got exactly the singer he needed:

Of course, Glen Campbell was so singular a singer that we tended to forget his virtuosity on the guitar: they’d didn’t let just anyone into the Wrecking Crew. And if you happened to flip over his 1977 cover of Allen Toussaint’s “Southern Nights,” you got to hear him try his hand at Gioacchino Rossini:

And then there was that time he sounded nothing like himself and still demanded your attention:

Now I ask you: who else from Arkansas ever did Italian overtures and musique concrète in the same lifetime?

It was, alas, a lifetime that ended in confusion and bewilderment. Two weeks ago, this heartbreakingly apt video appeared:

“Adiós” was recorded in 2015, a couple of years before the final curtain. Take a bow, sir.

Comments (7)




Now here’s something we hope you’ll really hate

June Foray, perhaps the greatest of all the voice actors in animation — Mel Blanc might have been her peer, maybe — has checked out of Frostbite Falls and gone to her eternal rest:

Few actors — or everyday, ­performance-averse human beings, for that matter — maintained as much control over their voice as Ms. Foray, who received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2010 and an honorary Emmy Award three years later.

She portrayed elderly women even as a child, going on the radio at 12 with the help of an acting teacher. In 2014, as a very senior citizen, she played the Looney Tunes role of Granny, owner of Sylvester the Cat and Tweety Bird, with the same good-natured screeches and yawlps she used for the character a half-century earlier.

Ms. Foray sometimes drew comparisons to the actor Lon Chaney, known as the silent film era’s “man of a thousand faces” because of his ability to inhabit many roles. She was also placed in a virtuosic league of her Looney Tunes colleague Mel Blanc, who gave voice to Bugs Bunny — whom Ms. Foray pursued as the sinister Witch Hazel — and Daffy Duck and a host of other characters.

Her devotion to animation was legendary:

She helped build ASIFA-Hollywood, a branch of the International Animated Film Society, and in 1972 created the Annie Awards, an animation-only alternative to the Oscars and Emmys.

As a longtime member of the Academy Awards’ board of governors, she also successfully fought to create an Oscar for best animated feature film. It has been awarded each year since 2002, when it went to the computer-animated comedy Shrek.

June Foray was 99 and still working. We may never believe she’s gone.

Comments (3)




Beatniks and politics

If you’d told me in 1967 that the Strawberry Alarm Clock would still be a functioning band in 2017, I’d have whupped you with the yardstick for lunatics I used to keep handy for just such emergencies. The SAC had several problems, among them frequent personnel changes, and the fact that the lead singer on “Incense and Peppermints,” their biggest hit, wasn’t even a member of the band. Bassist George Bunnell explains:

One of those things where nobody thinks that at the moment, what you’re doing is going to be successful. The song wasn’t fitting anybody. Greg Munford happened to just be sitting there in the session, and Greg also had the same manager and producer. He was doing his own project simultaneously. They asked him to try it, and it was right in his wheelhouse. So he did it and it was exactly how you hear it. He was not in the band, and then the song started to have success. Then they asked Greg Munford if he wanted to be in the band and he didn’t. He had his own thing. The band went off and never had the lead singer of that song in the band. Completely stupid.

SAC was signed to Uni Records, a West Coast outpost which was expected to be hipper than mother Decca. (Which it was; their labelmates included Desmond Dekker, Neil Diamond, Olivia Newton-John, and, um, Elton John.) They never again hit the Top 40, but they did produce some interesting singles. One of them was a B-side: “Pretty Song from Psych-Out,” which is exactly what it was: a pretty song (by group members Lee Freeman and Ed King) from Psych-Out, a 1968 American International drugsploitation film in which the band appeared and played three songs, none of which was the “Pretty Song.” (The version on the Psych-Out soundtrack album was performed by The Storybook.) I played this 45 to death:

“Pretty Song” was the flip of “Sit With the Guru” (!), which struggled to #65.

To start out the Seventies, the Clock toured the South; for one concert series, their opening act was, um, Lynyrd Skynyrd. (As SAC fragmented, Skynyrd asked Ed King to join them, which he did.)

We close with “Sit With the Guru,” live in 2012, because of course we do.

(Provoked, like so many of these, by Roger Green.)

Comments




There’s the beef

Set the clock back nine decades or so, and zoom in on Austin, Texas:

Tofie and Charles left the grocery store to form a partnership in the meat and produce business. And that they did! Balagia Produce Company was highly successful and became a leading commercial and household enterprise. The poultry was raised in cages at their business location on East Fifth Street. When orders were received, the poultry was removed from the cage and prepared on the spot. The success of the business was based on the freshness and quality of their products. Good management played a major part too. Charlie purchased the livestock and was a well-known specialist in his field. Tofie was the business manager and contact with civic leaders of the city and State. Together they prospered and expanded and were highly respected businessmen.

I never got to meet Tofie, who died in 1940, but brother Charlie would be my grandfather.

Charles C. Balagia at work

My mom was third of eight children: they had three girls, then two boys, then three more girls. You may safely assume that we were well fed.

The Balagias in Texas date back to about 1885, when Saba (1834-1913) and wife Mary (1857-1919) arrived from Tripoli, Syria (now in Lebanon). They had one child when they settled in Austin; they would have six more. (Large families run in the family.)

Comments (2)




Forget pixels

Zeiss Ikon camera circa 1930Stories like this command your attention from the first couple of words:

Photographer Martijn van Oers of the Netherlands recently visited a thrift store and came across an original Zeiss Ikon 520/2 folding camera, which was produced in Germany between 1929 and 1937. To his surprise, the camera contained a roll of exposed film in it.

The camera looked “barely used,” Van Oers says.

What would you do? That’s what Van Oers did:

Van Oers took the film to his friend Johan Holleman — someone who has developed his own film for much of his life — who then processed the film in his kitchen.

Expectations were understandably low. Still:

The duo soon discovered that the film was nearly 70 years old. 4 of the photos had enough detail in them to show that it was probably owned by a man who took the camera along on a trip. One photo was found to show a scene shot in the city of Biarritz in Southwest France.

More than usual, I urge you to read the whole story, which has some truly miraculous pictures from that roll of Kodak film.

Comments (5)




A site even older than mine

By not quite a year, in fact.

Today, it’s “You’re kidding. They sell books too?”

Comments (2)




Before Iggy’s time

There were in fact six Stooges, but you only got to see them three at a time. A re-recording was issued in 1959, but this is the original, as seen in a 1938 Columbia two-reeler:

I have no idea if this inspired Shirley Shirley Bo Birley in 1964:

And if you wondered why Shirley invoked a relatively uncommon name like Lincoln, it’s a shout-out to her co-writer, producer and manager Lincoln Chase.

Comments (5)




And we’re all gonna die

Well, yes, we are, but probably not the way the guy monopolizing the microphone is trying to tell you:

These prophets of doom rely on one thing — that their audience will not check the record of such predictions. In fact, the history of prophecy is one of failure and oversight. Many predictions (usually of doom) have not come to pass, while other things have happened that nobody foresaw. Even brief research will turn up numerous examples of both, such as the many predictions in the 1930s — about a decade before the baby boom began — that the populations of most Western countries were about to enter a terminal decline. In other cases, people have made predictions that have turned out to be laughably overmodest, such as the nineteenth-century editor’s much-ridiculed forecast that by 1950 every town in America would have a telephone, or Bill Gates’s remark a few years ago that 64 kilobytes of memory is enough for anyone.

More often quoted as 640kb, which is still nowhere nearly enough.

Often as not, these dire projections are full of crap. Here’s one which was literally so:

Nineteenth-century cities depended on thousands of horses for their daily functioning. All transport, whether of goods or people, was drawn by horses. London in 1900 had 11,000 cabs, all horse-powered. There were also several thousand buses, each of which required 12 horses per day, a total of more than 50,000 horses. In addition, there were countless carts, drays, and wains, all working constantly to deliver the goods needed by the rapidly growing population of what was then the largest city in the world. Similar figures could be produced for any great city of the time.

The problem of course was that all these horses produced huge amounts of manure. A horse will on average produce between 15 and 35 pounds of manure per day. Consequently, the streets of nineteenth-century cities were covered by horse manure. This in turn attracted huge numbers of flies, and the dried and ground-up manure was blown everywhere. In New York in 1900, the population of 100,000 horses produced 2.5 million pounds of horse manure per day, which all had to be swept up and disposed of.

Ah, those were the days. And sayers of doom were duly heard from:

Writing in the Times of London in 1894, one writer estimated that in 50 years every street in London would be buried under nine feet of manure. Moreover, all these horses had to be stabled, which used up ever-larger areas of increasingly valuable land. And as the number of horses grew, ever-more land had to be devoted to producing hay to feed them (rather than producing food for people), and this had to be brought into cities and distributed — by horse-drawn vehicles. It seemed that urban civilization was doomed.

It’s difficult to make predictions, especially about the future, but the things that would probably kill us, such as the collapse of the global financial system, on the heels of its diversion from maintaining monetary policy to allowing the top one percent of the top one percent to ascend higher, will be discussed only by nimrods on late-night radio or other nimrods on YouTube or the likes of me; meanwhile, things that probably won’t kill us — North Korea, various Russian entities, sport-utility vehicles — fill the news cycle to the brim and then some.

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)

Comments (2)




I can’t believe it’s not Butterick

Time to take the dust cover off the sewing machine:

The Vintage Patterns Wiki boasts more than 83,500 patterns that are at least 25 years old, which makes for a fascinating look back at fashion history. As a collaborative effort, the database is constantly being updated and organized, with any newly uploaded patterns dating prior to 1992. Just click on the cover and browse the list of pattern vendors who have the look.

Whether you just want to ogle the fashion illustrations or get your hands dirty and make a new look, it’s worth browsing the well-organized site. Arranged by decade, garment type, designer, and more, you might just be inspired to whip up a dashiki for your next costume party or try out a Mad Men chic outfit at the office with a skirt suit from the 1960s.

High fashion names like Dior and Givenchy, as well as looks modeled off costumes from movie stars like Audrey Hepburn remind us how pervasive patterns and creating fashions from scratch once were. And with a whole new era of young women going retro, it might be worth giving up vintage shops in favor of creating new pieces based on these vintage patterns.

Obviously they’re not going to have Every Pattern In The World. But the wiki serves as a useful guide to what’s out there and who’s worked with it. I pulled up a pattern at random — Vogue 6368 — and found someone who’s put it to good use.

Comments (3)




Shipping and handling extra

Back in the 1970s, Sears, Roebuck and Montgomery Ward seemed to carry a lot of the same stuff, and apparently this was the case half a century before:

A couple of years ago, I lucked into a Montgomery Ward Western Field Model 30. This was a store-branded version of the Stevens Model 520, another John Moses Browning design that was produced between 1909 and 1955 in a number of versions.

Did they carry this same rifle at Sears? You betcha:

Inspection, and a serial number check, revealed it to be the version manufactured in 1926-27. This image, courtesy of Wikipedia, reveals the elements that identify it as such. The firearm depicted is the Ranger model, made as a house brand for Sears, but otherwise identical to the “Western Field” model made for Montgomery Ward. The only difference between them and the Stevens originals was the model name engraved on the side plate.

I often wonder what might have happened if Wards had joined Sears in offering a compact car in the early Fifties. (The Searsmobile, branded “Allstate,” was a slightly less downscale version of the Henry J, offered mostly in Southern Sears stores, but nationwide in the Sears catalog.)

1952 Allstate advertisement

Comments (2)




The old man

He would have been 90 this month, which seems incredible to me. Then again, I never imagined being as old as I am now. And I suspect sometimes that maybe his job isn’t finished so long as I’m still around.

Comments (1)




You have the right to remain

In memory of the late Adam West, the only goddamn Batman that matters:

How I missed this in 1966, I’ll never know.

And apparently the wild, wild West lived in wild, wild Ketchum, Idaho:

Wow.

Comments (1)




Gimme a Vee

Roger Green (remember him? I do) dropped a Bobby Vee reference into a recent post, including three of Bobby’s biggest hits.

Speaking of which, the late Tony Peluso, who played that amazing guitar solo on the Carpenters’ “Goodbye to Love,” also played narrator on “Yesterday Once More,” and suddenly I hear his perfect Top 40 voice over the last notes of “The Night Has a Thousand Eyes”: “One of Bobby Vee’s biggest hits!” True; Vee had one Number One, one Number Two and two Number Threes, and “Eyes” was a Number Three.

The other Number Three was “Come Back When You Grow Up,” listed as by “Bobby Vee and the Strangers.” “Come Back” was written by Nashville songwriter (and later label executive) Martha Sharp, who had written Sandy Posey’s first two charters, “Born a Woman” and “Single Girl.” (For a while, rumors persisted that Sharp really was Sandy Posey. She wasn’t.) “Come Back” was first recorded earlier a few months earlier by Shadden and the King Lears, and, yes, “Shadden” was Shadden’s real first name.

Over the years, Vee proved to be an astute selector of material, whether or not it would be a big hit for him. “Yesterday and You” made it to #55 in late 1963; the song, he got from labelmate Ross Bagdasarian, who had recorded it in his pre-David Seville days. (Yes, that David Seville.) As “Armen’s Theme” — Armen was Mrs Bagdasarian — Seville’s instrumental made #42 in 1956.

In the summer of 1966, Vee and the Strangers covered an indie-label song by Texas band The Playboys of Edinburg. “Look at Me Girl” wasn’t a big hit for Vee or for the Playboys, who immediately got picked up by a major label — Columbia, arguably the major-est — but the Strangers rather easily picked up on the Playboys’ modified norteño beat.

One more? In 1961, Vee put out a semi-successful cover of the Crickets’ “More Than I Can Say”:

It would have charted higher than #61, I think, had it not been relegated to a B-side. Nearly two decades later, British producer Alan Tarney remembered it, and suggested it to client Leo Sayer, who took it to #2 in both the UK and the States:

I think Tarney’s instructions included “Sound as much as you can like Bobby Vee.”

Comments (1)




Of remembrance and forgetting

It gets a little harder each year.

I am the son of a sailor and a sailor who had been a soldier. I had a brother who was a sailor, and a sister who was a soldier’s wife. By the mercy of God or an accident of timing — we’ll never, of course, know for sure — none of them were taken as a direct result of enemy action. But they were taken just the same, as all of us some day must be.

Memorial Day, it occurs to me, is the most solemn holiday of the American civic religion, unconnected to any organized denomination, with its own rituals and myths:

What we have, then, from the earliest years of the republic is a collection of beliefs, symbols, and rituals with respect to sacred things and institutionalized in a collectivity. This religion — there seems no other word for it — while not antithetical to and indeed sharing much in common with Christianity, was neither sectarian nor in any specific sense Christian. At a time when the society was overwhelmingly Christian, it seems unlikely that this lack of Christian reference was meant to spare the feelings of the tiny non-Christian minority. Rather, the civil religion expressed what those who set the precedents felt was appropriate under the circumstances. It reflected their private as well as public views. Nor was the civil religion simply “religion in general.” While generality was undoubtedly seen as a virtue by some … the civil religion was specific enough when it came to the topic of America. Precisely because of this specificity, the civil religion was saved from empty formalism and served as a genuine vehicle of national religious self-understanding.

Which is not to say that everyone embraces it; there are those who are content with empty formalism, and those who might dismiss even that as a “fairy story for people afraid of the dark.” And for some, Memorial Day is simply the beginning of summer, nothing more.

Perhaps this is one of those times when, as the phrase goes, you had to be there, and human nature being what it is, a lot of us eventually will be. Much as I would like to endorse the idea that man can be educated out of his warlike tendencies, evidence to support such a notion is conspicuous by its absence; a perfunctory glance at the news is enough to show how easily we fall back into tribalism and other traits we fancy ourselves to have outgrown.

This old soldier will fade away in time, remembered by a few, forgotten by others, never known at all by most. So far as I can tell, this puts me more or less even with most of the human race. I can live with that.

(Reprinted from 2011.)

Comments (1)




Now get typing

The moment you go past half an hour, it’s going to cost you more:

This is actually a late-Twenties Remington Standard, refitted with a coin mechanism by a San Francisco company. One such machine was located in the basement of Powell Library at UCLA; Ray Bradbury typed the novella The Fireman (1951) on it, and two years later expanded the story into the novel Fahrenheit 451.

Comments




One way out

The legend has already begun: Twitter was overrun with the idea that the last song Gregg Allman played on stage was, yes, “One Way Out,” a couple of years back. He’d had to pull back from touring after he was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation; he’d sworn off meats and gluten. He’d had hepatitis C; he’d had a liver transplant. Had I had to deal with all these things, I’d never make it to 69, as Gregg did.

Still, his place in the Pantheon is assured; there essentially is no Southern Rock without the Allman Brothers Band, and while there are stacks of Allman vinyl everywhere down south, there are plenty of them up around the Canadian border as well. The band, for their part, didn’t much like the strictures suggested by the “Southern” tag, pointing to some of the cultural baggage thereof, but there’s little question that they did as much as anyone, and more than most, to create the genre. And like the best Southern rock, the Allmans’ music was firmly rooted in the blues.

This is the 1995 version of the band; Butch Trucks, Jaimoe Johanson and Dickey Betts were still around to make the trip to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. The song, by then, was more than thirty years old, and had originated with Elmore James circa 1961. The message, however, remains the same: whatever predicament you may have gotten yourself into — the specific narrative involves a bit of upstairs cheating while the actual husband has just arrived downstairs — ultimately you don’t have a Plan B to fall back on.

The band dissolved after their last show in 2014. (The last song they played was Muddy Waters’ “Trouble No More,” which makes perfect sense.) The legacy they leave behind is deep and wide. And Gregg, though he never considered himself the frontman — brother Duane, later Dickey Betts, were the nominal leaders of the band — was there for all of it. I hope he’s ready to jam among the clouds.

Comments (2)




Ancient memory

A look at personal computing online in the UK, a mere third of a century ago:

You can learn a bit more about this from a history of Prestel.

Comments




We got The Beat

In their native England, they were simply The Beat; in America, they were The English Beat, and in Australia, they were The British Beat.

And come to think of it, they weren’t entirely English:

Note the old man with the enormous saxophone. This was Saxa, born Lionel Augustus Martin in Jamaica. At the time of this episode of Top of the Pops, he was forty-nine years old. He retired as the century wore down, and he died last week at 87.

Comments off




There’s no exception to the rule

That bony guy in the dark robe comes calling for us all:

Cuba Gooding Sr. was found dead in his car in Los Angeles, according to ABC. He was 72.

The soul singer was reportedly found slumped over inside his car in Woodland Hills, Calif. at 12:58 p.m. on Thursday, but he could not be resuscitated by CPR. A spokesperson with the Los Angeles Fire Department would not confirm Gooding Sr’s identity, but confirmed to Variety that they responded to a call on Ventura Blvd. and determined the death of an adult male at that same time.

Gooding had four children, of whom the best known was Cuba Jr., who won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in Jerry Maguire (1996), playing a wide receiver for the Arizona Cardinals. (“Show me the money!”) But you remember Cuba Sr. for this:

It jolts me a little, then a lot, to remember that “Everybody Plays the Fool” is forty-five years old.

Comments (1)




A tale from the Vinyl Jungle

Phase One:

“I’ll take Rock Bands for $800, Alex.”

The Cars; Eagles; Earth, Wind and Fire; Billy Joel; Little Feat; Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers; Bob Seger; U2; Van Halen; and Yes.

“Who has opened for the J. Geils Band?”

Phase Two:

From Fark, four years ago:

J. Geils sues J. Geils for using the name J. Geils while J. Geils goes on tour despite not having J. Geils in the band. J. Geils unavailable for comment, but J. Geils was willing to discuss the lawsuit.

To explain:

The J. Geils Band embarked on a short U.S. tour in August/September 2012. However, they left for the tour without J. Geils. Geils filed an unsuccessful lawsuit against the other members of the group over use of the name for a tour without him. He named band members Richard Salwitz, Danny Klein, Peter Wolf and Seth Justman in the lawsuit filed in Boston Superior Court, claiming that they “planned and conspired” to continue touring without him, and were unlawfully using the group’s trademarked name. Geils, angry at his bandmates for what they did, permanently left the band.

Phase the Last:

And now “permanently” is, um, permanent:

John Warren Geils Jr., the artist known professionally as J. Geils and part of the rock group The J. Geils Band, was found dead in his Groton, Massachusetts home. He was 71.

My blood runs cold.

Nightmares … and Other Tales from the Vinyl Jungle, the sixth LP from Geils and then-friends, came out in 1974. And it’s a shame that whatever they once had, it must of got lost.

(List of opening acts from Dave Marsh’s The Book of Rock Lists, updated by me.)

Comments (1)




Meanwhile in 1964

First week of April 1964, this was the very top of the Billboard Hot 100:

Billboard Hot 100 4 April 1964

This moptop monopoly was made possible by the fact that three different record labels were involved. (Tollie was a subsidiary of Vee-Jay which released 48 singles over two years, eight of which charted, and four of which were by the Beatles.)

If this seems like a heck of a lot of Beatles, consider the next week, in which the Fab Four had a fab fourteen entries on the Hot 100, up from twelve. They’d vacated two spots in the Top 5, replaced by Terry Stafford’s “Suspicion” at #3 and Louis Armstrong’s “Hello, Dolly!” at #5, but they held down positions #7, #9, #14, #38, #48, #50, #52, #61, #74, #78 and #81. (Here’s the complete chart.)

And two more labels would eventually be involved, reissuing tracks from the 1961 Tony Sheridan sessions with “The Beat Brothers,” MGM with “My Bonnie” and “The Saints,” and Atco with “Ain’t She Sweet,” the only Sheridan track on which any Beatle sings lead. (Before you ask: it’s John.)

Still, I am heartened, five decades and change later, by the fact that there was still room in the Top Ten for the likes of Satchmo.

Comments (2)




Roasted hockey puck

Five million Internet trolls fancy themselves the True Successor to Don Rickles.

Not one of them comes close, or ever will.

One reason for that is that Mr. Warmth could take it as well as he could dish it out.

“You can’t study comedy; it’s within you.”

Already we miss you, Don, you knucklehead.

Comments (2)




Four channels and nothing on

An artifact from the early days of cable:

What I wanted to know is this: what four channels? Sault Ste. Marie had no TV stations of its own in 1969; WWUP-TV (UP, get it?), channel 10, rebroadcast WWTV, the CBS station in Cadillac, Michigan; WPBN-TV (then owned by the Paul Bunyan Network), channel 7, brought in NBC from Traverse City. There was no ABC affiliate back then, so those two split whatever ABC programs they thought might be worth carrying. (In 1971, WGTU, channel 29, would sign on from Traverse City as a full-time ABC affiliate; five years later they added a satellite on channel 8 in Sault Ste. Marie proper.) Educational TV? Maybe, if you could pick up WCMU-TV from Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant — and if you were on the cable, you probably could, even though WCMU was way out on channel 14.

Still, we’ve accounted for only three channels. For the fourth, we must venture northward. In 1955, CJIC-TV signed on from the Ontario side of the river on channel 2; it became a CBC affiliate, closing down in 2002. (It’s now rebroadcasting CBC Toronto.)

As for prices, well, $3.99 a month (we’re extrapolating from “13 cents a day”) for four channels works out to about a buck a channel. Last time I rescanned the TV I was getting 106 channels for $86, 81 cents a channel. If there were economies of scale in the cable industry, they’ve long since faded away.

(I should point out here that I’ve spent maybe half a week of my life in Michigan, and none in the Upper Peninsula; I do have a lot of reference materials, and occasionally, I have time on my hands.)

Comments (7)




It’s just like heaven

Rosie Hamlin wrote “Angel Baby” when she was fourteen. The record by Rosie and the Originals came out in 1960. It was their only big hit, but it was enough to sustain a career:

From a 2002 PBS special. She was fifty-seven.

And now, at 71, she dwells with the angels for all time.

Comments off




The motor cooled down

Some thoughts on the life and times of Charles Edward Anderson Berry (1926-2017), the man who caught Maybellene at the top of the hill, and much, much more.

Comments (5)




It should have been

We should have spent the weekend celebrating Christina Grimmie’s 23rd birthday. One of a very few YouTubers who made the jump to the Big Time, she appeared in season four of The Voice and finished third; Usher, one of the many who were impressed, dubbed her a “baby Céline Dion.” She wound up with a recording contract and a devoted fan base.

Christine Grimmie stretches out a bit

Christine Grimmie stands up for herself

Christine Grimmie takes notes

Then came that horrible night in June 2016 in Orlando:

Florida authorities answered one of the major questions in the shooting death of Christina Grimmie, the 22-year-old singer who made her name on NBC’s “The Voice.”

The man who killed her was Kevin James Loibl, 27, of St. Petersburg, Florida, according to Orlando police. But they didn’t give any background on Loibl or offer a possible motive.

Loibl, tackled by Christine’s brother Marcus, turned the gun on himself. It was subsequently concluded that Loibl was obsessed with her and at one time had hoped to win her affections, although one has to wonder how he was going to do that with a Glock 9mm.

And two nights later, another madman opened fire on The Pulse nightclub in Orlando, killing forty-nine.

This was Christine’s very first YouTube video, a cover of “Don’t Wanna Be Torn” by Hannah Montana:

There will be one last release, an EP titled Side B (there already has been a Side A), due later this month. This is the first single:

Happy birthday, Christina, wherever you may be.

Comments (3)




The standard Fate

They buried John Schroeder last week, which struck me as slightly odd, since he died back on the 31st of January following a long battle with cancer.

Schroeder’s musical career was long and varied; where it intersected with my life was right in the middle of the British Invasion, when he teamed up with pianist Johnny Pearson at Britain’s Pye Records to provide, for lack of a better term, easy-listening sounds that could compete for radio airplay, and maybe even sales, with the beat groups.

At the end of 1964, using the name Sounds Orchestral, they cut this version of a Vince Guaraldi standard:

Pye had no formal US distribution in those days. Cameo-Parkway eventually acquired the US rights, and issued the 45 on Parkway 942 this week in 1965; it climbed to #10 in Billboard, and the subsequent LP made it to #11. Said LP contains two “Scarlatti Potions,” Number 5 and Number 9.

Schroeder and Pearson and various players kept up the Sounds Orchestral name through sixteen albums, the last of which came out in 1977. I saw only the first two of them here in the States until the CD-reissue era.

Comments off




Infinite headroom

For some reason, these didn’t catch on:

Dodge Dakota Convertible

This is what you’re looking at:

In a have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too moment, Dodge decided the public wanted a convertible pickup truck for the 1989 model year. Based on the Dakota Sport, the convertible was modified by ASC in California with a manual folding roof. You could buy two- or four-wheel-drive variants, both powered initially by the 3.9-liter V6 and hooked to an automatic transmission. They were optioned up with air conditioning, velour seats and full gauge packages. In 1990, Dodge offered a lower spec SE model with the 2.5 hooked to a five-speed manual.

Not many bought into the idea in either configuration, and Dodge barely managed to fulfill its contract with ASC to produce them. In total, just shy of 4,000 were sold over the three model years they were available.

That 3.9, if I remember correctly, was a cut-down version of the trusty 318 (5.2-liter) V8.

The one and only person I know who owned any sort of Dakota Sport would probably have laughed at the very idea of this.

Comments off




The saints search for sinners

According to the Z Man, income inequality is a secondary consideration at best:

Unlike Europe, the American Left has never been about economic equality. It was always about spiritual equality. The radicals on the Continent were always obsessed with busting up the class structure. The radicals in American have always been focused on saving the immortal soul of the nation. Economic equality was never anything more than a a political tool for the reformers to use as a way to get control of the culture in order to impose their moral vision on the nation.

This is consistent with Z’s view that Northern descendents of Puritans have been dominating the culture since, oh, the day after Appomattox.

In order for this to work, the Left has always needed victims and oppressors, saints and sinners. In the 20th century, they could champion black civil rights and women’s issues. Then it was onto gays and now foreigners. The trouble is, they are running out of victims to champion. Black guys getting pushed around by rednecks at the polling booth make for sympathetic victims. Mentally unstable men in sundresses wanting access to the girl’s toilet are not good victims. They are ridiculous and championing them makes the champions look ridiculous.

I suggest that “mentally unstable” is far more of a disqualifier than “sundress.” The tallest trans woman I know of is a sturdy six foot five, but nothing in her background makes me think she’s out there gunning for anyone’s daughter. (Rule of thumb here: you’re going to look suspicious, regardless of your claimed identification, if you look like you’d fit right into a page full of People of Walmart.)

There’s also a noticeable lack of villains. Donald Trump is supposed to be the 12th invisible Hitler, returning to impose a dictatorship on America. The trouble is, Trump sounds like a Jewish guy from Queens and his kids converted to Judaism when they got married. So far, his most enthusiastic supporter among world leaders is the Prime Minister of Israel. They ain’t making Hitlers like they used to.

This reflects a generally ahistorical attitude: if the most villainous person you can come up with is Hitler, I’d argue that you’re not thinking hard enough.

If you ask me — and I’m sure you didn’t — this is the proper approach to der Führer:

Missiles at Mock One, no?

Comments off




He was the bravest of them all

The Z Man titled a post “We Need a Tom Doniphon,” and I knew at once what he meant. Just to make sure we’re paying attention, though, Z plugged in this last paragraph:

America is headed for a bad end unless things change quickly and radically. The suicide cult that has control of our society is not going to stop until we’re all dead. At some point, you have to use every means necessary to prevent a catastrophe. If that means Lindsay Graham winds up in a pit covered in lime, so be it. If Bill Kristol has to write his tantrums from exile in Israel, I can live with that. In order to have a world run by Senator Ranse Stoddard, you first need a Tom Doniphon to do the dirty work of clearing out Liberty Valance.

Burt Bacharach and Hal David put together a wonderful song called “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” after John Ford’s film; however, the song does not appear in the film. (Ask Eddy Grant what that’s like.) Some latter-day genius came up with the idea of creating a video for the song, based on the original trailer plus a couple of pertinent scenes. (Jimmy Stewart was Ranse Stoddard, and John Wayne was Tom Doniphon.)

Gene Pitney was never better, and today, 55 years after the film, Liberty Valance is as relevant as ever.

Comments (3)