Monday, May 23, 2016

Say Goodbye to the E.W.F. Stirrup House While You Still Can

Right now there's still a bit of old among
the new, but not for long. May 18, 2016

Why was the E.W.F. Stirrup House
so important to the community?


Read: Happy Birthday Coconut
Grove!!! Now Honour Your Past
If you're a longtime reader of Not Now Silly, you know of my years-long campaign to SAVE THE E.W.F. Stirrup House. It is with great sadness that I report the fight has been lost.

I'm throwing in the towel.

Let me be clear. A developer is going ahead with the "Historic E.W.F. Stirrup House Bed & Breakfast." It is currently in the process of ... what's the correct word? Clearly not renovation.

I say that because I spoke to the foreman on the 18th, who confirmed what I feared. When they are done, not a single piece of the original house will remain. It will be all new construction -- from the piers on which the house will sit right up through the roof.

Therefore, it will no longer be the oldest house on Charles Avenue. It will no longer be the Historically Designated E.W.F. Stirrup House.

This NEW! IMPROVED!! Stirrup House will be a mere re-creation. An ectype. An analogue of the original. A facsimile. A carbon copy. A semblance of the former. A clone. A chip off the old wood block. A mere imitation. Imposture!!! It will be a double, aka duplicate doppelgänger. A dead ringer for what used to be. A mega-ditto. An impersonation of a historic structure. An ersatz E.W.F. Stirrup House. It will be a deceit, or deception. It's a put-on. A reproduction. A copycat. Bogus and just an effigy of the original. An incredible likeness. A look-alike. A replica. The spitting image. A pseudo E.W.F. Stirrup House, or a simulacrum. A twin, but counterfeit. It's a fake, a forgery, and a fraud. Merely a knockoff. A phony E.W.F. Stirrup House. A sad replication. A rip-off. A hoax. A sham. A mock-up. A simulation. Just a representation. A shadow of its former self. An archetype of the Stirrup House. An impression of what once was. Merely an approximation. Possibly a reincarnation, if you believe in that.

The northwest corner of the Stirrup House, May 18, 2016.

On the left: front. On the right: the west side. Nothing of
the original house remains, the fate for the rest of the house.
In other words: even though he built it with his own 2 hands, it will be a house that Ebenezer Woodbury Franklin Stirrup never touched.

According to the Cleveland Restoration Society's guidelines, this is called a "Reconstruction":
The act or process of depicting, by means of new work, the form, features, and detailing on a non surviving historic structure for the purpose of replicating its appearance at a specific time in its historic location.
I asked my source, who has rehabbed many old and historic houses, whether the preservationist community looks upon these recreations with the same disdain I now look upon the NEW! IMPROVED!! E.W.F. Stirrup House.
Not if it had burned down or had fallen so far into disrepair that nothing could be salvaged.
And, therein lies the rub.

The E.W.F. Stirrup House has undergone nearly a decade of DEMOLITION BY NEGLECT. I have THOUSANDS of pictures of the Stirrup House that document the slow disintegration of the historic structure over the last 7 years. For the majority of that time this house was not sealed from the elements, with windows either open, missing, or broken. The all-wooden house had no protection from the wind-driven rain and from the invasive vines, reptiles and insects that took over when people moved out. No wonder the developers were able to argue nothing could be salvaged.

The official reason given for starting from scratch is termite damage. However -- and I cannot stress this enough -- had the house been sealed and protected, there may not have been quite the infestation. They allowed the worst devastation to occur on their watch. Before they got a hold of it, the house was a rental property.

Bottom line: The developer profited from allowing the house to fall apart. It would have been far more expensive to bring the old structure up to code than it will be to wire and plumb an entirely new structure.

The Mariah Brown House was once
the oldest house on Charles Avenue
IRONY ALERT!!! This is the same fate that befell the Mariah Brown House, a few doors west of the Stirrup House. What is now seen is not the Mariah Brown House. It's a relatively new re-creation.

The Mariah Brown House was once the oldest house on Charles Avenue. "Mary the Washer-woman," as she was known, and her husband were the first to buy land on the Frow Homestead on a footpath that later became Evangelist Street, for the number of churches that were strung along its length. It's now known as Charles Avenue.

The Browns were among the original Bahamian labourers at The Peacock Inn, right at the beginning of the nascent South Florida tourist industry. Those tourists traps -- just like modern day tourist traps -- needed a service industry. The Bahamians drifting up from the Keys became those workers. After enough of them gathered in West Grove, Mr. Stirrup laid out Charles Avenue, slightly out of true east-west coordinates.

That's why this is the very 1st street in Miami. Which is why Charles Avenue was designated a Historic Roadway by the City of Miami.

When the Brown House was reconstructed, the E.W.F. Stirrup House became the oldest house on the block.

I take absolutely no solace for being right all along. Right from the get-go I called this a case of DEMOLITION BY NEGLECT. I predicted that the developer was hoping a hurricane would knock it down because he was quoted in the Miami media as saying that he would rebuild if that happened. Just substitute termites and wood rot for hurricane and you've got the picture.

If you've been reading my blog you know that I've been writing about West Grove for the past 7 years. Now, all of a sudden, it's become très chic to write about Coconut Grove. The New Tropic has been all over it lately. In one recent article I couldn't help but notice a new name attached to the reconstruction of the Stirrup House. I've never seen that name mentioned in connection of the Stirrup House before. However, it's a name I recently heard in connection to a new Coconut Grove rumour that I am currently trying to chase down. Stay tuned on that.

I haven't Googled the topic of the E.W.F. Stirrup House in a while because I was the only one writing about it. During the research for this article, to see whether there was something new I had missed, I was gratified to discover a website called Stirrup Family Legacy. Because I didn't want to edit this, here's the entire ABOUT page:
This collaborative effort was born in the social media space following an inspired Facebook discussion among a few family members. While aware that our family story is already in the public domain and has been for some time, we acknowledged that the telling of our family story varied greatly and was regrettably unknown to many– particularly to those most needing to hear it. We came to an agreement as a family and decided to act–as a family, for our family.

We agreed that our family story is a classic American immigrant tale; one that is deeply rooted in the American dream.; one that is both exemplary and extraordinary; one that deserves to be told; and one that should rightfully be told by the Stirrup family.

The goals for the Stirrup Family Legacy are threefold. First, our website is a means of preserving the Stirrup Family Legacy while increasing the digital footprint of the Stirrup family story. We are creating a lasting tribute to Stirrups who have passed on, and a living legacy for current and future generations of Stirrups.

Second, we want to promote, through digital media and deeds, the core Stirrup Family Values that were lived and bestowed to us by our beloved patriarch Ebenezer Woodbury Franklin Stirrup, Sr. and Charlotte Jane Stirrup, our beloved matriarch. The values are these: commitment to FAMILY; commitment to EDUCATION; commitment to SERVICE; commitment to COMMUNITY; commitment to ENTREPRENEURSHIP; commitment to PHILANTHROPY; and commitment to CREATIVITY.

Finally, our web presence is also a means to unite our family with the aid of the web–a virtual and ongoing family reunion that convenes regularly in cyberspace. We created a family community where connection and exchange of ideas, information, resources, and love can happen.

We thank you for finding us and invite all who arrive here to visit often, contribute, become involved in our initiatives and above all, spread the word!   S<3
As I have stated many times: The purpose of my campaign to restore the E.W.F. Stirrup House was about much more than the house. It was also to burnish the legacy of Ebenezer Woodbury Franklin Stirrup, a man way ahead of his time. During the Jim Crow years he made a fortune, but more importantly he made a home and neighbourhood for thousands of Bahamians and their descendants. The fact that there is still a cohesive Black enclave -- in the middle of one of the most exclusive Zip Codes in the country -- is a testament to this visionary. In the vast and ugly history of Race Relations in this country, Coconut Grove is the exception that proves the rule.


Animation: May 11, 2016, when more of the east wall still existed.

COMING SOON: Who is to blame for the
destruction of the E.W.F. Stirrup House?

The Not Now Silly Newsroom plans to name names.

The Lovin' Spoonful ► Monday Musical Appreciation

The first album I ever bought with my own money was The Best of The Lovin' Spoonful. I played the grooves right off it. I simply adored The Lovin' Spoonful and my band, Cobwebs and Strange, even performed a few songs from it.

Every song a hit, at least with me, this LP is comprised of "Do You Believe in Magic?", "Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind?", "Butchie's Tune", "Jug Band Music", "Night Owl Blues", "You Didn't Have To Be So Nice", "Daydream", "Blues In The Bottle", "Didn't Want To Have To Do It", "Wild About My Lovin'", "Younger Girl", and "Summer In The City". Perfection!!! Every tune was a Sing-A-Long, at least with me. 

What's of interest to me is how my youth has connected to my dotage and not just in a nostalgic way.

These days I think about The Lovin' Spoonful a lot. There are times I am down in Coconut Grove taking pictures, or conducting interviews, when their song "Coconut Grove" starts playing unbidden in my head. Suddenly I've got an all-day ear worm that won't shake loose, no matter how much Reggae I apply.

"Coconut Grove" is from their 3rd LP, "Hums of the Lovin' Spoonful." According to Talk From The Rock Room, in an essay called 'Bes friends'-The Lovin Spoonful-'Hums of the Lovin Spoonful' LP:
Keeping with the theme of mellow melodies, "Coconut Grove" trickles in again spotlighting special instrumentation such as Sebastian's auto harp and a hand drum. According to John Sebastian this song was conceived on folk icon Fred Neil's boat in the pre-Spoonful days. The song rides rolling waves of sound, gently rocking to and fro, the breeze of Zal's guitar gusting beautiful accents across the reflective seas. The strength of the tune is Sebastian's vocal melody, almost able to carry the track on its own. This song can put you right on the deck, riding straight into a sun dipping behind the horizon. Mood music at its finest.
It should be noted that Fred Neil lived on his boat just offshore of Coconut Grove at the time.

I'm jammed for time this morning, because -- not coincidentally -- I am currently doing a final edit on my latest story about Coconut Grove. Where do you think I got today's ear worm?

Crank it up and D A N C E ! ! !

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Writing News With A Union Label ► Throwback Thursday

Gather 'round, kiddies, and I'll tell you the story of when I was a News Writer for Citytv's BreakfastTelevision [sic] and wrote the perfect news script.

I worked at CityPulse for just over a decade. During my time there I cycled through every newscast they had: CityPulse at 6, CityPulse at 11, the weekend Pulses, and the short-lived LunchTelevision. However, most of my time was on BreakfastTelevision, some 8 years. I was with the show the day it was launched. While the station had an idea of what the show would be, it was up to us to give it shape and flesh it out.

I enjoyed the hell out of my job, but everything changed for me the day I wrote the perfect script.

The News Segment Producer, the person who gave the News Writers, Editors, Control Room their marching orders, had a soft spot for animal stories. I knew that whenever there was an animal story, either local or off the feeds, she would make sure to devote precious air time to it. On this particular morning she handed me some wire copy, told me there was VID on the overnight satellite feed, and tasked me with writing the script for it. It was a simple, but heartwarming, story of a university in the east closing en entire parking lot because an endangered bird chose to build a nest and lay eggs in it.

Kevin Frankish was one of the nicest people I wrote
for. "Choose alternate routes" is an homage to him.
Because it wouldn't come up until later in the show -- the last News Pack at 8:30 -- I pushed it aside. In the meantime there were stories to write for earlier packs. As I handled those first, it came to me in a flash how I should treat this purple plover story. I quickly banged it off, polished it, and then sheepishly took it to Kevin Frankish, which was not the normal chain of command. However, let's face facts: If Kevin refused to read it, there was little point in giving it to the producer for approval. I handed him the script and asked what he thought.

Kevin took one look at it, laughed, and said, "I love it!"

With his approval under my belt I took it to the News Producer who said, "Kevin will never read this."

"I just showed it to him. He loves it," I replied.

She yells across the room to the Assignment Desk, "ABOUT THIS SCRIPT OF HEADLY'S?!?!"

Kevin yells back, "I LOVE IT!!!"

That's exact moment my fate was sealed. Here's how it opened:
In Pembroke a pair of purple plovers picked a patch of parking lot to procreate.

The rest of the script was just a quick rewrite of the wire copy to match the footage. I printed out the obligatory 12 copies of the script and hand delivered Kevin's to him, leaving the rest for the intern to distribute as usual.

The Purple Plover
For the next 2 hours, whenever he wasn't on camera, I could see Kevin practicing the script. I couldn't wait to hear this jewel delivered. However, the minute my script hit the TelePrompTer, it all fell apart. Kevin started sputtering like Porky Pig, tripping his entire way through the opening line.

Finally he broke and said, "See the things they get me to read here? Headly, what are you doing to me?"

I was always thrilled when my name was mentioned On Air, because it was so infrequent. However, that was one of the last thrills I ever had at Citytv.

When my boss arrived there was steam coming out of his ears. As he passed through the newsroom, he screamed at me to get into his office, where he yelled at me and swore at me for a good 15 minutes. "WE DO NOT GIVE OUR ANCHORS TONGUE TWISTERS!!!"

"But it was approved up and down the line."

"I DON'T FUCKING CARE!!! WE DO NOT GIVE OUR ANCHORS TONGUE TWISTERS!!!"

"But we're told to make our scripts cheeky and interesting."

"I DON'T GIVE A FUCK!!! WE DO NOT GIVE OUR FUCKING ANCHORS FUCKING TONGUE TWISTERS!!! WHAT THE FUCK WERE YOU THINKING???"

"I was thinking that it would have been great had Kevin not flubbed it."

"HE FLUBBED IT BECAUSE IT WAS A FUCKING TONGUE TWISTER. WE DO NOT GIVE OUR ANCHORS FUCKING TONGUE TWISTERS!!!"

Here's my takeaway from that meeting: 
  1. We do not give our anchors tongue twisters;
  2. That day was the first of a non-stop campaign of harassment that continued until I finally left Citytv.
That was the day I became the office goat.

I had seen it happen to others before. Newsroom management would tag someone as the goat either overtly -- "Get the fuck in my office right now!" -- or it might be a covert whisper campaign that one could watch trickle down from up high -- "They're not our kind of people." It could be someone new. Or, it could be someone that was there for years and had never been disciplined before, like me.

However, the newsroom staff quickly learned who was the Goat Du Jour. Everyone up and down the chain of command fell into line, treating that employee as toxic. Over the years I saw one goat after another. Eventually the goat would quit or a newer goat would be chosen. Or both.

When I became the goat the harassment was relentless. My newsroom mentor -- someone in the know, who attended the management meetings with The Big Boys -- told me they wanted me to quit. Because I loved my job, I decided to tough it out convinced they'd eventually find a new goat. I was mistaken.

They started finding every little thing wrong with my performance. I took too long to write some scripts. I didn't spend enough time writing others. Because writing is subjective, and there's no sentence that can't be improved with enough editing, they kept finding individual sentences, out of context, that didn't meet their suddenly high standards. Keep in mind I had never been tagged for any of this in the previous 8 years.

Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada
Eventually management scheduled a weekly meeting with me and my union rep to rake me over the coals in a discipline hearing. Every fucking week.

It only made management madder at me when I first refused to even meet with them for these punching bag sessions unless they allowed my union rep to attend. Insisting on my union rights just became an invisible black mark, because they couldn't write it down. But, it sure pissed them off.

In the end I grieved the entire deal. It went to arbitration, which was a mistake. Arbitration is another word for compromise. I was off work for an entire year. At first I was off on a [possibly-related] Medical leave. When I was deemed well, they refused to allow me to come back to work. However, because I had started the grievance process, I couldn't look for work, otherwise Citytv could say I had quit and abandoned my job. I had to borrow money from family and friends to stay alive and my union advanced me some money as well.

In the end I was sent packing with a lump sum that felt inadequate, but my union told me it was the best I was going to get. Oddly enough, I was never asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement with Citytv, but they agreed to give me a letter of recommendation and promised not to bad-mouth me to prospective employers. That promise was broken when I had someone in the industry call to say they were thinking of hiring me.

After a lawyer told me I would have trouble suing for that, I stopped using Citytv on my resume. The decade I spent there mattered for nothing in the job market.

Post script: In the end all of those people who yelled and screamed and belittled and harrassed their underlings were fired in a purge when ultimate boss Moses Znaimer found out how they were really treating the people below them, including the on air talent.

If I had it all to do over again, I wouldn't write the perfect script.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Pet Sounds ► Monday Musical Appreciation

Previously on Not Now Silly:

Brian Wilson ► Happy Birthday, Genius ► A Musical Appreciation
On this date 50 years ago one of the greatest LPs of the Rock era was released: The Beach Boys 11th studio album, Pet Sounds. It was not an immediate hit, only rising as far as #20 on the Billboard album chart, far below their previous LPs.

Yet, Pet Sounds rises to the top of all critics' greatest lists. Rolling Stone pegged Pet Sounds as the #2 Greatest Album of All Time, right behind Sgt. Pepper. That's ironic because Beatles producer George Martin said that without Pet Sounds, Sgt. Pepper would never have happened. No less a musical authority than Sir Paul McCartney has rated Pet Sounds as his favourite LP. In fact, he's been widely quoted as saying:
[I]t was Pet Sounds that blew me out of the water. First of all, it was Brian's writing. I love the album so much. I've just bought my kids each a copy of it for their education in life---I figure no one is educated musically 'til they've heard that album. I was into the writing and the songs. 
Double irony: Brian Wilson, for his part, was spurred on to write Pet Sounds by The Beatles'  Rubber Soul. From the WikiWackyWoo:
Wilson recalls that Asher played him the Beatles' newest album, Rubber Soul (1965),[19] it being the alternate US version that was configured by Capitol Records to have a cohesive folk rock sound.[25][nb 6] Wilson was immediately enamored with the album, given the impression that it had no filler tracks, a feature that was mostly unheard of at a time when 45 rpm singles were considered more noteworthy than full-length LPs.[26][27][nb 7] Inspired, he rushed to his wife and proclaimed, "Marilyn, I'm gonna make the greatest album! The greatest rock album ever made!"[29] He would say of his reaction to Rubber Soul: "I liked the way it all went together, the way it was all one thing. It was a challenge to me ... It didn't make me want to copy them but to be as good as them. I didn't want to do the same kind of music, but on the same level."[30] Later, he clarified: "The Beatles inspired me. They didn't influence me."[31][nb 8]

Which makes it a triple irony: Wilson loved that it had "no filler tracks" and "the way it all went together, the way it was all one thing," but it wasn't that at all. It was a record cobbled together for the U.S. market by his own record company, different from the canonical Rubber Soul that The Beatles released in Great Britain.

FURTHER READING

 PET SOUNDS: THE ONLINE STORY

15 Facts About 'Pet Sounds'

At 50, Pet Sounds remains The Beach
Boys’ most puzzling, influential album


Five amazing albums that wouldn’t exist
without The Beach Boys’ ‘Pet Sounds’


Why Does the Beach Boys' 'Pet
Sounds' Still Have Its Hold on Us?
The rest of The Beach Boys were not so enamored of Pet Sounds. Here's the quick backstory:

After Brian Wilson had a panic attack on an airplane while on tour with the band, he retired from live performing. This gave him the time to produce the more complicated songs he had begun writing. When the rest of the band returned from a tour of Japan and Hawaii, they were presented with an almost completed album, with tracks laid down by The Wrecking Crew, a group of studio musicians who had played on hundreds of songs for everyone from Frank Sinatra to Phil Spector's Wall of Sound productions. All that was needed to complete the tracks were the Beach Boys' harmonies. However, they weren't convinced.
One of the issues was the album's complexity and how the touring Beach Boys would be able to perform its music live.[54] Wilson said that the band "didn't like the idea of growing musically ... They wanted to keep making car songs and I said 'No, we’ve gotta grow, guys'."[55] Marilyn said: "When Brian was writing Pet Sounds, it was difficult for the guys to understand what he was going through emotionally and what he wanted to create. ... they didn't feel what he was going through and what direction he was trying to go in."[56] Tony Asher remembered: "All those guys in the band, certainly Al, Dennis, and Mike, were constantly saying, 'What the fuck do these words mean?' or 'This isn't our kind of shit!' Brian had comebacks, though. He'd say, 'Oh, you guys can't hack this.' ... But I remember thinking that those were tense sessions."[57] Wilson believed the band were worried about him separating from the group, elaborating that "it was generally considered that the Beach Boys were the main thing ... with Pet Sounds, there was a resistance in that I was doing most of the artistic work on it vocally". The conflicts were resolved, accordingly, "[when] they figured that it was a showcase for Brian Wilson, but it's still the Beach Boys. In other words, they gave in. They let me have my little stint."[58]
Next month Capitol Records is releasing a giant 5-CD 50th Anniversary Edition of the iconic LP. According to Ultimate Classic Rock
Pet Sounds (50th Anniversary Collectors Edition) will include four CDs of various mixes, outtakes and alternate versions of the album as well as a Blu-ray audio disc featuring a 5.1 surround sound mix of the 1966 classic, often heralded as one of the greatest records ever made. The set will be released on June 10, about a month after the record celebrates 50 years.

Like 1997’s celebrated four-disc The Pet Sounds Sessions, Pet Sounds (50th Anniversary Collectors Edition) will include snippets from the studio as Brian Wilson pieced together his masterpiece. Backing tracks, alternate mixes and different versions (including some songs where Wilson or Mike Love sang lead on numbers that were released with other members singing) round out the collection.
As Not Now Silly is fond of saying, it's all in the grooves. Listen to Pet Sounds.

Crank it up and  D A N C E ! ! !

Thursday, May 12, 2016

George Carlin, Johnny Carson, and Comedy ► Throwback Thursday

George Carlin, the man who challenged both censors and the institution of Stand Up Comedy, would have celebrated his 79th birthday today, had he not been so foolish to die in 2008. 

Carlin started his career in radio while he was still in the USAF. While it only lasted a few months, it gave him that first taste of Show Biz. Soon he teamed up with Jack Burns as a comedy duo, and the two of them went on to some success, appearing on tee vee and recording an album. After 2 years they went their separate ways. As his official biography tells us:
After splitting with Burns, Carlin spent about a year working in nightclubs without much success and with no television exposure. In 1963, he branched out into folk clubs and coffee houses where the audiences were more progressive, and where he could develop both styles of material he felt capable of. He balanced mainstream material with the more outspoken, irreverent routines that were closer to his heart. In 1963 in he found the Café au Go Go in Greenwich Village and spent the better part of two years developing his comic style. Ironically, it was in this folk/jazz setting that he developed the first bits which got him on television, the ultimate establishment medium. The Indian Sergeant, Wonderful Wino, and the Hippy Dippy Weatherman were all born during this period. So was George and Brenda’s only daughter, Kelly.
At the time Carlin was still a straight comedian, with short hair, no facial hair, and wearing a suit and tie -- a far cry from the way he looked later in his career.

However, he was already moving away from conformity. As the WikiWackyWoo tells us:
Carlin was present at Lenny Bruce's arrest for obscenity. As the police began attempting to detain members of the audience for questioning, they asked Carlin for his identification. Telling the police he did not believe in government-issued IDs, he was arrested and taken to jail with Bruce in the same vehicle.[21]
Starting in the mid '60s Carlin started to appear regularly on television. But . . .
During the late 1960’s, because of the influence television was having on his career, Carlin’s new material grew bland and safe. The rebellious, anti-establishment tone of some of his earlier routines had disappeared, and increasingly he felt bored and dissatisfied with his material and the places he was working. By 1970, his self-imposed restrictions no longer applied; his acting and career had been put on hold, and the country was changing. The people who had inhabited the folk clubs and coffee houses of the early ’60s were now the “counterculture,” a large ready-made audience which shared many of Carlin’s out-of-step attitudes and opinions. He began to drift in their direction.

During 1970 the irreverent tone returned to his material, he grew a beard, and began to dress more casually. However, the “new” George Carlin didn’t sit well with his middleclass audiences nor with nightclub owners. A series of incidents with audiences and owners that year culminated in his being fired from the Frontier Hotel in September for saying “shit.” In December he worked his last “establishment” job: The San Francisco Playboy Club. From then on, his comedic identity became more and more associated with the counterculture.

Then came his most famous routine, Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television, which itself was subject to an obscenity trial when he was arrested in 1972 for performing it. Eventually, the case was dismissed. While the judge agreed the words were indecent, he affirmed Carlin's First Amendment Right to say them.

Along the way Carlin took up acting, appearing in a number of movies, including the cult favourite Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure.

Carlin died of a heart attack on June 22, 2008. Just 4 days earlier he was announced as the latest recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He was the first to given the award posthumously at a star-studded affair in November.

Back in January Antenna TV, one of a several nostalgia stations that have cropped up in the last few years, started running entire episodes of The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, renamed Johnny Carson for these rebroadcasts at 11PM every night. As often as I am able -- because it's past my bedtime -- I try and tune into the beginning of the show to catch who the guests are, and to watch the opening monologue. Tuesday night Carlin was Johnny's guest and I forced myself to stay up and watch him performing a very funny routine of non sequiturs, small jokes that had no linkage.

Comedy has sure changed a lot since George Carlin started in the '50s and he is one of the main agents of that change.

On Tuesday night, the same night he was being rerun on Carson's show, his daughter Kelly announced at a private event that she was donating the Carlin's archives to the newly formed National Comedy Center. According to NPR:
"Everybody's gotta have a little place for their stuff. That's all life is about. Trying to find a place for your stuff." — George Carlin

It's one of his most famous routines and, like all great comedy, contains more than a grain of truth.
Since he died eight years ago, the keeper of George Carlin's "stuff" has been his daughter, writer and performer Kelly Carlin. She says he kept everything: Scrapbooks. Arrest records. The pink slip to his first car, a Dodge Dart. VHS tapes.

From "handwritten notes of his actual working on comedy ideas to his kind of OCD-esque way of making lists of things, like every routine he ever did on a late night show," she says. "When comedians would come over to my house and I would say, 'Do you want to take a glance at my dad's stuff?' Their eyes would light up. I knew how to get to their hearts immediately," she says, laughing.
While he was alive George Carlin entered the pantheon of Great Comedians. His fame has only increased in the years since his death.

Here are a few laughs courtesy of George Carlin:

Monday, May 9, 2016

Hank Snow ► Monday Musical Appreciation

Happy Birthday to Canadian Country singer Hank Snow, the man who discovered Elvis Presley. He would be blowing out 102 candles had he not died in 1999 at the age of 85.

Clarence Eugene Snow was born "in the sleepy fishing village of Brooklyn, Queens County, on Nova Scotia's beautiful South Shore, just down the tracks from Liverpool", according to his official web site, which continues:
As a boy, Hank faced many difficulties and shortcomings. He had to face the trauma of his parents' divorce at just eight years old and he was forced to stay with his grandparents. He then had to deal with an abusive grandmother who forbid him to see his mother. He regularly sneaked out at night and walked the railroad tracks to Liverpool where his mother was living. Not willing to return to his grandmother, who would often beat him for visiting his mom, he would sometimes seek shelter in Liverpool's railway station, now home of the Hank Snow Country Music Centre.
He learned guitar from his mother. Running away from home at 12, he worked as a cabin boy on fishing schooners out of Lunenburg and bought his first guitar with his first wages: A T. Eaton Special which set him back $5.95. While onboard the ship he listened to the radio, later imitating the Country singers he heard, especially his hero Jimmie Rodgers.

Once he was back on land Snow continued to practice and improve. The WikiWackyWoo picks up the story:
Soon, Snow was invited to perform in a minstrel show in Bridgewater to help raise money for charity. "Someone blackened my face with black polish and put white rings around my eyes and lips," Snow recalls. When his turn came in the show, he played a song called "I Went to See My Gal Last Night." "My debut was a big success," Snow writes. "I even got a standing ovation."[2]

In March 1933, Snow wrote to Halifax radio station CHNS asking for an audition. The rejection letter he received only made him more determined and later that year he visited the station, was given an audition and hired to do a Saturday evening show that was advertised as "Clarence Snow and his Guitar." After a few months, he adopted the name "The Cowboy Blue Yodeler" in homage to his idol Jimmie Rodgers known as "America's Blue Yodeler." Since Snow's Saturday show had no sponsor, he wasn't paid for his performances, but he did manage to earn money playing halls and clubs in towns where people had heard him on the radio. He also played in Halifax theatres before the movies started and performed, for $10 a week, on a CHNS musical show sponsored by a company that manufactured a popular laxative. At the urging of the station's chief engineer and announcer, he adopted the name Hank because it went well with cowboy songs and once again, influenced by Jimmie Rodgers, he became "Hank, The Yodeling Ranger." Snow also appeared occasionally on the CBC's regional network.[2]
Signed to RCA Records Canada in 1936, the radio hook-up brought him greater fame and he started touring across Canada. Eventually radio stations south of the border started playing his records and Snow moved to Nashville, where he had a growing audience. In 1950 Ernest Tubbs invited Snow to perform at the Grand Old Opry. He didn't go over so big until he wrote his first hit song, I'm Moving On:


Even had he not discovered Elvis, Hank Snow would still be remembered today for his music. However, as the Wiki tells us:
A regular at the Grand Ole Opry, in 1954 Snow persuaded the directors to allow a young Elvis Presley to appear on stage. Snow used Presley as his opening act and introduced him to Colonel Tom Parker. In August 1955, Snow and Parker formed the management team, Hank Snow Attractions. This partnership signed a management contract with Presley but before long, Snow was out and Parker had full control over the rock singer's career. Forty years after leaving Parker, Snow stated, "I have worked with several managers over the years and have had respect for them all except one. Tom Parker (he refuses to recognise the title Colonel) was the most egotistical, obnoxious human being I've ever had dealings with."

One of my favourite jokes:
If Hank Snow married June Carter, there would be 6 inches of Snow in June.
But I digress. According to his website:
Hank Snow sold over 70 million records in his career that spanned 78's, 45's, extended 45's, LP's, 8-tracks, cassettes and compact discs.

Throughout his life he recorded over 100 LPs, including everything from hit parade material to gospel, train songs, instrumentals (alone and with Chet Atkins), tributes to Jimmie Rodgers and the Sons of the Pioneers, and recitations of Robert Service poems. He has always kept a warm spot in his heart for Nova Scotia, and he paid homage with his album "My Nova Scotia Home". He also recorded "Squid Jiggin' Ground" in honor of the fishermen he sailed with out of Lunenburg in his early youth.
Every August Liverpool, Nova Scotia, holds a multi-day Hank Snow Tribute. This year's shindig will happen August 18-21 and tickets are already available. However, as Not Now Silly likes to say: It's all in the grooves. This is why people still sing and play Hank Snow tunes:

Monday, May 2, 2016

Happy Birthday Lesley Gore ► Monday Musical Appreciation

On this day in 1946 Lesley Sue Goldstein was born. We knew her better as Lesley Gore.

Discovered by Quincy Jones when she was only 16, Lesley Gore was still in high school when It's My Party hit the top of the pop charts. Hit after hit followed under the tutelage of producer Jones. However, when she graduated, she chose to go to college, as opposed to pursuing a full-time career in the music biz. She would perform and record on weekends. The WikiWackyWoo picks up the story:
Gore was one of the featured performers in the T.A.M.I. Show concert film, which was recorded and released in 1964 by American International Pictures, and placed in the National Film Registry in 2006. Gore had one of the longest sets in the film, performing six songs including "It's My Party", "You Don't Own Me", and "Judy's Turn to Cry".[13]

Gore performed on two consecutive episodes of the Batman television series (January 19 and 25, 1967), in which she guest-starred as Pussycat, one of Catwoman's minions.[1] In the January 19 episode "That Darn Catwoman", she lip-synched to the Bob Crewe-produced "California Nights", and in the January 25 episode "Scat! Darn Catwoman" she lip-synched to "Maybe Now".[11] "California Nights", which Gore recorded for her 1967 album of the same name, returned her to the upper reaches of the Hot 100.[9] The single peaked at number 16 in March 1967 (14 weeks on the chart). It was her first top 40 hit since "My Town, My Guy and Me" in late 1965 and her first top 20 since "Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows".[1]

Further Reading

Quincy Jones; A National Treasure
It wasn't until her death last year did much of the world learn she was a Lesbian. Biography takes it from there:
It was also at Sarah Lawrence that Gore realized that she was a lesbian. Before college, she later explained, she simply had never had the time to examine her true feelings. "I had boyfriends," she said. "I was scheduled to get married ... All of that was part of the agenda at the time ... Part of the problem that I had ... was being out in the public. It was hard to even explore it. I wasn't even left that opportunity. When I talk to some of my gay women friends now who might just be a little bit older than me, they would come in from [Long] Island or New Jersey, and they would put on their black Levis and black jackets and run to the bars. I wasn't quite able to do that."

Though Gore did not come out as gay until after the heyday of her fame had passed, she says she never concealed it from the people who were close to her: "I just tried to live as normally as humanly possible. But as truthfully as humanly possible."
Rolling Stone picked up the story for her obituary:
After graduating college in the late Sixties and staying largely out of the spotlight throughout the Seventies, Gore resurfaced in 1980 when "Out Here On My Own," a song she co-wrote with her brother Michael for the Fame soundtrack, was nominated for a Best Original Song Academy Award; Michael Gore would instead end up winning the Oscar for his song "Fame."

Gore came out to the public when she served as host on a few episodes of the PBS' LGBT newsmagazine series In the Life. She released her final album Ever Since in 2005.
The Wiki sums it all up:
In a 2005 interview with After Ellen, she stated she was a lesbian and had been in a relationship with luxury jewelry designer Lois Sasson since 1982.[22] At the time of her death, the couple had been together for 33 years.[23] Gore died of lung cancer on February 16, 2015, at the NYU Langone Medical Center in Manhattan, New York City; she was 68 years old.[24][25] Her New York Times obituary described her as a teenage and feminist anthemist.[26] Following her death, Neil Sedaka commented that she was "a phenomenal talent" and "a great songwriter in her own right."[26]
As we always say here in the Not Now Silly Newsroom, it's all in the grooves:

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Coconut Grove in Black and White

Francisco J. Garcia of Miami's Department of Planning
and Zoning provided the answers to residents' questions
Community involvement was strong last night in Coconut Grove as more than 200 residents packed a meeting hall at Plymouth Church to vent and make plans. 

The homeowners of South Grove are up in arms and called this "Community Organizational Meeting," which was attended by Miami District 2 Commissioner Ken Russell, Miami-Dade District 7 Commissioner Xavier Suarez, and Francisco J. Garcia, of Miami's Department of Planning and Zoning. Homeowners want to develop a strategy to put a stop to the division of large properties to build more homes; the demolition of old houses; the building of 'cookie-cutter' houses, derisively called White Boxes; and the continued destruction of the Grove's famous tree canopy.

Oddly enough, these are the exact same issues I've been quietly researching for the last several weeks, even before this story bubbled up to the surface. My interest began when a source suggested I attend a Planning and Zoning meeting about potential "up-zoning" of a certain property. Up-zoning is when a developer asks for more than is allowed by the Miami21 code and -- usually -- gets it. This piqued my curiosity. A few weeks later the same source took me around to show me the contemporary 'cookie-cutter' houses being built. These concrete White Boxes stick out like sore thumbs among the older homes that fit the neighbourhood.

Just some of the White Boxes being built all over Coconut Grove
However, all my research -- and all the houses we looked at -- was in West Grove, where the prevailing style of house are either one-story Shotgun Homes or Conch-style houses, both reflecting the neighbourhood's rich Bahamian history.

South Grove architecture, on the other hand, is distinctly different and all over the map, as it were. The houses there are more suburban in style, from the earliest one-story small cottages, to the more recent Monster Homes of the last few decades, and everything in between. Because this area was developed from the 1920s onward, the houses reflect nearly every kind of home architecture attempted since then. And, as people were told at last night's meeting, these White Boxes are what developers want to build because, they claim, it's what people want to buy.

This demolition on Charles Avenue has taken place
over the last 6 weeks. That is not a typo. This is how it
looked on April 27, 2016, the same day South Grove
residents complained about their precious tree canopy.
However, that's not the most glaring difference between West Grove and South Grove. In fact, as I've joked before, the difference is like Day and Night.

West Grove is the Black area of Coconut Grove. It can't be said any simpler than that. The area is blighted, and has been for decades, precisely because it's the Black area.


QUICK HISTORY LESSON: Unlike most Black neighbourhoods of its era, Coconut Grove is unique because the people owned their own homes. At one time Coconut Grove had the highest percentage of Black home ownership than anywhere else in the country. [Read: Happy Birthday Coconut Grove. Now Honour Your Past] This meant they couldn't be dislodged as they could in other U.S. cities where Black folk rented from absentee landlords. However, the same economic factors that kept Black neighbourhoods in poverty elsewhere also worked on West Grove: low wages, an inability to get home improvement loans, and systemic racism. However, the neighbourhood has remained predominately Black as folks passed their houses down to generation after generation, the way White people pass down the family jewels.
End of history lesson.


This is the same rooming house as above on April 2, 2016
Earlier in the day I met with a second anonymous source who has also been researching the White Boxes in West Grove. Oddly enough, before we went to look at them, they wanted to take me to see a house on Charles Avenue that I had already taken a number of pictures of.

This demolition has so far taken about 6 weeks. The site has never been secure, making it an attractive place to play for local kids. But the nails sticking out of the boards are the least of the problems. This house was filled with asbestos, from the roof shingles to the several layers of paint on the walls. The prevailing winds have scattered some of it to wherever prevailing winds blew for the last 6 weeks.

The woman who lives next door has asthma and was just getting sicker. She and her husband have gone to live with relatives up north, in Georgia. The rest of her neighbours will just keep breathing it in until something is done about it.

One kind of nondescript White Box being built in West Grove,
this one on William Avenue. That's actually the front of house.
People have complained to By-Law Enforcement about the unsafe demolition site and are still waiting for something to happen. There is, apparently, a promise for it to be cleaned up by the city in the morning. I sure hope they take into account the toxicity of some of the materials.


For more examples of these 'cookie cutter' homes go to The White Boxes.


Meanwhile, South Grove residents were told on Wednesday night if they see anything hinky happening in their neighbourhood -- from illegal tree-cutting to demolitions without a permit -- to call By-Law Enforcement. I'll bet you dollars to donuts that they respond a lot quicker than they have to this disaster on Charles Avenue in West Grove.

As South Grove meets with their elected representatives, West Grove is as ignored as ever. As South Grove begins the task of forming a Homeowners Association, West Grove is quietly gentrified without anyone noticing. When will West Grove get the same kind of attention from the City of Miami as South Grove?