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?

Monday, April 25, 2016

The First Lady of Song ► Monday Musical Appreciation

Light up 99 candles because today we celebrate the birthday of the First Lady of Song, Ella Fitzgerald. 

Let's let her official website speak for her:
Dubbed "The First Lady of Song," Ella Fitzgerald was the most popular female jazz singer in the United States for more than half a century. In her lifetime, she won 13 Grammy awards and sold over 40 million albums.

Her voice was flexible, wide-ranging, accurate and ageless. She could sing sultry ballads, sweet jazz and imitate every instrument in an orchestra. She worked with all the jazz greats, from Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Nat King Cole, to Frank Sinatra, Dizzy Gillespie and Benny Goodman. (Or rather, some might say all the jazz greats had the pleasure of working with Ella.)

She performed at top venues all over the world, and packed them to the hilt. Her audiences were as diverse as her vocal range. They were rich and poor, made up of all races, all religions and all nationalities. In fact, many of them had just one binding factor in common - they all loved her.

A recent remix of one of Ella's most well known tunes proving her relevance to another generation

Biography picks up her story:
Born on April 25, 1917 in Newport News, Virginia, singer Ella Fitzgerald was the product of a common-law marriage between William Fitzgerald and Temperance "Tempie" Williams Fitzgerald. Ella experienced a troubled childhood that began with her parents separating shortly after her birth.
My meager Ella Fitzgerald collection, but I have the best stuff
With her mother, Fitzgerald moved to Yonkers, New York. They lived there with her mother's boyfriend, Joseph De Sailva. The family grew in 1923 with the arrival of Fitzgerald's half-sister Frances. Struggling financially, the young Fitzgerald helped her family out by working as a messenger "running numbers" and acting as a lookout for a brothel. Her first career aspiration was to become a dancer.

After her mother's death in 1932, Fitzgerald ended up moving in with an aunt. She started skipping school. Fitzgerald was then sent to a special reform school but didn't stay there long. By 1934, Ella was trying to make it on her own and living on the streets. Still harboring dreams of becoming an entertainer, she entered an amateur contest at Harlem's Apollo Theater. She sang the Hoagy Carmichael tune "Judy" as well as "The Object of My Affection," wowing the audience. Fitzgerald went on to win the contest's $25 first place prize.

That unexpected performance at the Apollo helped set Fitzgerald's career in motion. She soon met bandleader and drummer Chick Webb and eventually joined his group as a singer. Fitzgerald recorded "Love and Kisses" with Webb in 1935 and found herself playing regularly at one of Harlem's hottest clubs, the Savoy. Fitzgerald also put out her first No. 1 hit, 1938's "A-Tisket, A-Tasket," which she co-wrote. Later that year Ella recorded her second hit, "I Found My Yellow Basket."

When Chick Webb died in 1939, Ella Fitzgerald took over the band, renaming it Ella and Her Famous Orchestra. In 1942 she went solo staying with Decca Records, which had released the Chick Webb band recordings. The WikiWackyWoo fills in the next chapter:
With Decca's Milt Gabler as her manager, Fitzgerald began working regularly for the jazz impresario Norman Granz and appeared regularly in his Jazz at the Philharmonic (JATP) concerts. Her relationship with Granz was further cemented when he became her manager, although it would be nearly a decade before he could record her on one of his many record labels.

With the demise of the Swing era and the decline of the great touring big bands, a major change in jazz music occurred. The advent of bebop led to new developments in Fitzgerald's vocal style, influenced by her work with Dizzy Gillespie's big band. It was in this period that Fitzgerald started including scat singing as a major part of her performance repertoire. While singing with Gillespie, Fitzgerald recalled, "I just tried to do [with my voice] what I heard the horns in the band doing."[14]




Her 1945 scat recording of "Flying Home" arranged by Vic Schoen would later be described by The New York Times as "one of the most influential vocal jazz records of the decade....Where other singers, most notably Louis Armstrong, had tried similar improvisation, no one before Miss Fitzgerald employed the technique with such dazzling inventiveness."[6] Her bebop recording of "Oh, Lady Be Good!" (1947) was similarly popular and increased her reputation as one of the leading jazz vocalists.[24]
It was during this latter period of Fitzgerald's career that she entered the pantheon of musical superstars to become the First Lady of Song.

I was lucky enough to see Ella Fitzgerald at Toronto's Imperial Room.  I thought it would be her last tour (but I believe she did one more after this) and I thought if I didn't see her then, I might never have the chance again.

It was my first time in the Imperial Room, even though it was not my first time wearing a tie, required at the Imperial Room. It was also very expensive. It cost $75.00 per person and, of course, I took a date. That was a pretty penny for me back then, but I could console myself that it came with dinner. The Imperial Room was a supper club.


The mediocre meal came and went and now it was time for Ella Fitzgerald. The orchestra started it's vamp, someone introduced her, and v e r y  , v e r y , v e r y  s l o w l y Ella Fitzgerald shuffled onto the stage with an anonymous attendant on her arm.

All I could see was my $150 going down the drain in the interminable time it took her to get to center stage where the microphone stood. 

Yet, the minute she started singing, all those years fell away. While I had never seen Ella Fitzgerald in her prime, and only had recordings and movies to rely upon, I was taken all the way back as she covered all the highlights of her career, joked with the audience, and giggled like a little girl.

It was one of the most memorable musical moments of my entire life!!!

The Wiki also details her last years:
In 1985, Fitzgerald was hospitalized briefly for respiratory problems,[45] in 1986 for congestive heart failure,[46] and in 1990 for exhaustion.[47] In March 1990 she appeared at the Royal Albert Hall in London, England with the Count Basie Orchestra for the launch of Jazz FM, plus a gala dinner at the Grosvenor House Hotel at which she performed.[48] In 1993, she had to have both of her legs amputated below the knee due to the effects of diabetes.[49] Her eyesight was affected as well.[6]

In 1996, tired of being in the hospital, she wished to spend her last days at home. Confined to a wheelchair, she spent her final days in her backyard of her Beverly Hills mansion on Whittier, with her son Ray and 12-year-old granddaughter, Alice. "I just want to smell the air, listen to the birds and hear Alice laugh," she reportedly said. On her last day, she was wheeled outside one last time, and sat there for about an hour. When she was taken back in, she looked up with a soft smile on her face and said, "I'm ready to go now." She died in her home on June 15, 1996 at the age of 79.[6] A few hours after her death, the Playboy Jazz Festival was launched at the Hollywood Bowl. In tribute, the marquee read: "Ella We Will Miss You."[50] Her funeral was private,[50] and she was buried at Inglewood Park Cemetery in Los Angeles.
As always it's all in the grooves. Here are some of my favourite Ella Fitzgerald recordings out of the hundreds that she has made.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Zero Factor ► Throwback Thursday

William Henry Harrison (1773 – 1841) was the
first president to run afoul of The Zero Factor.
The Zero Factor is a spooky superstition which insisted that all Presidents elected in a year ending in zero -- which happens every 20 years -- will die in office. The Zero Factor was blamed for an uninterrupted chain of presidential deaths that didn't end until President Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980.

The first inkling I had concerning Presidential Deaths and the Zero Factor was back in grade school when I had to do an essay on William Henry Harrison, a presidential name drawn from a hat.

William Henry Harrison was the 9th president, elected in 1840 running on the slogan "Tippecanoe and Tyler too." Tippecanoe was his nickname and referred to his military victory in the Battle of Tippecanoe, when his troops repulsed a Native American confederacy that was opposed to the illegal European aliens' continued expansion west. As the Wiki puts it simply, "The defeat was a setback for Tecumseh's confederacy from which it never fully recovered."

Harrison was the oldest president until Ronald Reagan and the first to die in office, a mere 32 days after taking the oath. He was his own worst enemy. As we learn from the WikiWackyWoo:
He took the oath of office on March 4, 1841, a cold and wet day.[62] He wore neither an overcoat nor hat, rode on horseback to the ceremony rather than in the closed carriage that had been offered him, and delivered the longest inaugural address in American history.[62] At 8,445 words, it took him nearly two hours to read, although his friend and fellow Whig Daniel Webster had edited it for length. Harrison then rode through the streets in the inaugural parade,[63] and that evening attended three inaugural balls,[64] including one at Carusi's Saloon entitled the "Tippecanoe" ball, which at a price of US$10 per person (equal to $229 today) attracted 1000 guests.
Three weeks later he caught a cold, which developed into pneumonia and pleurisy. He died on April 4, 1841, the first victim of the Zero Factor, which also became known as Curse of Tippecanoe, blamed on a curse that Tecumseh was supposed to have uttered before his death during the War of 1812.

The next victim of The Zero Factor was Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States. We all know what happened to him.

James A. Garfield was elected POTUS in 1880 and assassinated by deranged office seeker Charles J. Guiteau in 1881. Garfield might have lived had he been shot just a few years later when all doctors accepted the practices of Joseph Lister concerning infection. Again from the Wiki:
According to some historians and medical experts, Garfield might have survived his wounds had the doctors attending him had at their disposal today's medical research, techniques, and equipment.[187] Standard medical practice at the time dictated that priority be given to locating the path of the bullet. Several of his doctors inserted their unsterilized fingers into the wound to probe for the bullet, a common practice in the 1880s.[187] Historians agree that massive infection was a significant factor in President Garfield's demise.[187] Biographer Peskin stated that medical malpractice did not contribute to Garfield's death; the inevitable infection and blood poisoning that would ensue from a deep bullet wound resulted in damage to multiple organs and spinal bone fragmentation.[188] Rutkow, a professor of surgery at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, has argued that starvation also played a role. Rutkow suggests that "Garfield had such a nonlethal wound. In today's world, he would have gone home in a matter of two or three days."[187]
Next up? That would be President William McKinley, elected in 1900 and assassinated by a crazed anarchist Leon Czolgosz in Buffalo, New York on September 6, 1901. It happened inside the Temple of Music during the Pan-American Exposition. On the 14th he died of the gangrene that had infected his body. The Zero Factor takes another life.

Twenty years later it was Warren Harding's turn to run up against The Zero Factor. Elected in 1920, he died on August 2, 1923, of a cerebral hemorrhage in San Francisco while on a swing through the west.

Also dying of a cerebral hemorrhage was the next victim of The Zero Factor, our longest-serving president, Franklin Roosevelt. Originally elected in 1932, Roosevelt was re-elected for an unprecedented (and no longer possible) 3rd term in 1940. Re-elected again in 1944, during World War II, Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945. His last words were reportedly, "I have a terrific pain in the back of my head."

John F. Kennedy was the 35th President of the United States and the last to be assassinated.

The next president to be elected in a year ending in Zero was Ronald Reagan. When, on March 30, 1981, John Hinckley, Jr., slipped out of a crowd at the Washington Hilton and attempted to assassinate him, I was convinced it was The Zero Factor at work again. However, Reagan survived his wounds and eventually went back to work.

It wasn't until years later the public learned how close to death Reagan had been and how much the assassination attempt took out of him.

In 2000 George W. Bush was elected president and, except for starting wars against countries that didn't attack the United States, there were no incidents even remotely resembling The Zero Factor.

In 2000 Arianne R. Cohen of The Harvard Crimson wrote of George W. Bush and The Zero Factor:
According to legend, our new president has an extremely high chance of dying while in office--an 87.5 percent chance, in fact, based on the seven of eight eligible presidents who have died by the legend. Many voters--45 percent, to be exact--would probably find this statistic to be the only positive thing about Election 2000, although I personally would prefer to have a president too incompetent to do damage in office over one who voted against the Clean Water Act (our new Vice President-elect Richard B. Cheney). However, a legend's a legend, and a legend doesn't care about personal opinions.

[...]The only other president to die in office was President Zachary Taylor, elected in 1848. However, President Taylor allegedly spent July 4, 1850, eating cherries and milk at a ceremony at the Washington Monument. He got sick from the heat and died five days later, the second president to die in office. Frankly, he should have known better--that cherries and milk combination is always a killer.
What's amusing about this curious slice of history is how for more than a century this silly superstition was considered to have been a Native curse against the White interlopers. Guilt much?

Monday, April 11, 2016

Richard Berry ► Monday Musical Appreciation

Further Reading:

A Song So Great
They Named It Twice
When the final history of Garage Rock is written, today's date will be remembered as an important milestone. On this day in 1935 the great Richard Berry was born. Twenty years later Berry would write Louie Louie, one of the most influential and recorded songs in Rock and Roll history.

Berry was born in Louisiana, but moved to L.A. with his family when he was a baby. From all reports he had a difficult childhood; having injured his hip, he was forced to use crutches until he was six. However, he picked up his love of music at a camp for handicapped kids, where he learned how to play the ukulele.

He learned his vocal chops practicing in the hallways of Jefferson High School. Soon he was "singing and playing in local doo-wop groups, recording with a number of them including The Penguins, The Cadets and the Chimes, the Crowns, the Five Hearts, the Hunters, the Rams, the Whips, and the Dreamers, an otherwise all-female quartet from Fremont High.[5] He then joined The Flairs (who also recorded as the Debonaires and the Flamingoes) in 1953," as the Wiki tells us.

After leaving The Flairs Berry hooked up with Rick Rillera and the Rhythm Rockers, described as a Latin & R&B band. That's when he got the notion to write Louis Louis. As the Wiki explains:
Richard Berry was inspired to write the song in 1955 after listening to and performing the song "El Loco Cha Cha" with Ricky Rillera and the Rhythm Rockers. The tune was written originally as "Amarren Al Loco" ("Tie up the crazy guy") by Cuban bandleader Rosendo Ruiz Jr. – also known as Rosendo Ruiz Quevedo – but became best known in the "El Loco Cha Cha" arrangement by RenĂ© Touzet which included a rhythmic ten-note "1-2-3 1–2 1-2-3 1–2" riff.[3] 

Touzet performed the tune regularly in Los Angeles clubs in the 1950s. In Berry's mind, the words "Louie Louie" superimposed themselves over the bass riff. Lyrically, the first person perspective of the song was influenced by "One for My Baby (And One More for the Road)", which is sung from the perspective of a customer talking to a bartender (Berry's bartender's name is Louie).[4] Berry cited Chuck Berry's "Havana Moon" and his exposure to Latin American music for the song's speech pattern and references to Jamaica.[5]
Crank it up and D A N C E ! ! !


Louie Louie might have remained in obscurity as the B-side to "You Are My Sunshine" by Richard Berry and the Pharaohs, on Flip Records, had it not been discovered by Tacoma singer "Rockin' Robin Roberts" who recorded his cover version in 1960, using his band The Wailers [no relation], aka the Fabulous Wailers. It includes the ad lib "Let's give it to 'em, RIGHT NOW!!" and, while it was a local hit, it sank without a trace when re-released for the national market.

In 1963 a Portland, Oregon band named The Kingsmen decided to make it their second single, after "Peter Gunn Rock." The tune was arranged by bandmember Jack Ely. Again, Wiki knows all:
The Kingsmen's lead singer Jack Ely based his version on the recording by Rockin' Robin Roberts with the Fabulous Wailers, unintentionally introducing a change in the rhythm as he did. "I showed the others how to play it with a 1–2–3, 1–2, 1–2–3 beat instead of the 1–2–3–4, 1–2, 1–2–3–4 beat that is on the (Wailers) record", recalled Ely. The night before their recording session, the band played a 90-minute version of the song during a gig at a local teen club.

[...]The Kingsmen transformed Berry's easy-going ballad into a raucous romp, complete with a twangy guitar, occasional background chatter, and nearly unintelligible lyrics by Ely.[18] A guitar break is triggered by the shout, "Okay, let's give it to 'em right now!", which first appeared in the Wailers version,[19] as did the entire guitar break (although, in the Wailers version, a few notes differ, and the entire band played the break). Critic Dave Marsh suggests it is this moment that gives the recording greatness: "[Ely] went for it so avidly you'd have thought he'd spotted the jugular of a lifelong enemy, so crudely that, at that instant, Ely sounds like Donald Duck on helium. And it's that faintly ridiculous air that makes the Kingsmen's record the classic that it is, especially since it's followed by a guitar solo that's just as wacky."[20]

The Kingsmen's cover of Louie Louie probably would have been a hit in any case, but the persistent, and widely believed, rumours that the lyrics were dirty probably didn't hurt. Even the FBI was fooled, launching an expensive investigation into The Kingmen, the record company, and the radio stations that played it. I tell that story in A Song So Great They Named It Twice, which was based on my reading of Dave Marsh's wonderful book with the unwieldy title: Louie Louie; The History and Mythology of the World's Most Famous Rock 'n Roll Song; Including the Full Details of Its Torture and Persecution at the Hands of the Kingsmen, J. Edgar Hoover's FBI.


Incidentally, despite there being THOUSANDS of cover versions of his tune, Berry didn't make a penny off of them. He sold the rights to Louie Louie in 1959 for $750 to pay for his wedding. Luckily, he eventually did start to realize a fairly good chuck of change later:
In the mid eighties Berry was living on welfare at his mother's house in South Central L.A.. Drinks company California Cooler wanted to use "Louie Louie" in a commercial, but discovered they needed Berry's signature to use it. They asked the Artists' Rights society to locate him, and a lawyer visited Berry. The lawyer mentioned the possibility of Berry taking action to gain the rights to his song. The publishers settled out of court, making Berry a millionaire.[8]

Garage Bands around the world celebrate today as International Louie Louis Day.

Okay, let's give it to 'em 12
times right now! Me gotta go!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Official Stamp of Approval ► Throwback Thursday

Further reading elsewhere:

The First 5 African-Americans to be Featured on U.S. Stamps
African-Americans on Stamps (to 2004)
Black Heritage (1978-present)
On this day in 1940 the United States Postal Service issued a stamp featuring Booker T. Washington, the first Black person to be so honoured on a U.S. stamp.

Booker Taliaferro Washington was born into slavery in April 5, 1856, and became one of the most respected men in the entire world. During the earliest years of the Jim Crow Era, when just looking at someone the wrong way was enough to get a Black man lynched, Washington was one of the leading voices against the treatment of Black folk in the country.

History channel has more highlights:
Born a slave on a Virginia farm, Washington (1856-1915) rose to become one of the most influential African-American intellectuals of the late 19th century. In 1881, he founded the Tuskegee Institute, a black school in Alabama devoted to training teachers. Washington was also behind the formation of the National Negro Business League 20 years later, and he served as an adviser to Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. Although Washington clashed with other black leaders such as W. E. B. Du Bois and drew ire for his seeming acceptance of segregation, he is recognized for his educational advancements and attempts to promote economic self-reliance among African Americans.
The Famous American
stamp series of 1940
:









The Washington stamp, coming 2 days after his birthday and 35 years after his death, was issued as part of the Famous American Series of stamps that included 34 other people in various categories. (See full list below the picture to the right.) As we learn from Wikipedia:
In 1940, the U.S. Post Office issued a set of 35 stamps, issued over the course of approximately ten months, commemorating America's famous Authors, Poets, Educators, Scientists, Composers, Artists and Inventors. The Educators included Booker T. Washington, who now became the first African-American to be honored on a U.S. stamp. This series of Postage issues was printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. These stamps were larger in size than normal definitive issues, with only 280 stamp images contained on the printing plate (400 images was standard for the Presidential series). Notable also is the red-violet color chosen for the 3¢ stamps, a brighter hue than the traditional purple.
This was not Washington's only honour. According to the WikiWackyWoo:
For his contributions to American society, Washington was granted an honorary master's degree from Harvard University in 1896 and an honorary doctorate from Dartmouth College in 1901.
At the end of the 2008 presidential election, the defeated Republican candidate, Senator John McCain, referred to Booker Washington's visit to Theodore Roosevelt's White House, a century before, as the seed that blossomed into Barack Obama as the first African American to be elected President of the United States.[citation needed]
In 1934 Robert Russa Moton, Washington's successor as president of Tuskegee University, arranged an air tour for two African-American aviators. Afterward he had the plane named the Booker T. Washington.[citation needed]

On April 7, 1940, Washington became the first African American to be depicted on a United States postage stamp. Several years later, he was honored on the first coin to feature an African American, the Booker T. Washington Memorial Half Dollar, which was minted by the United States from 1946 to 1951. He was also depicted on a U.S. Half Dollar from 1951–1954.[47]

In 1942, the liberty ship Booker T. Washington was named in his honor, the first major oceangoing vessel to be named after an African American. The ship was christened by Marian Anderson.[48]

On April 5, 1956, the hundredth anniversary of Washington's birth, the house where he was born in Franklin County, Virginia, was designated as the Booker T. Washington National Monument.


A state park in Chattanooga, Tennessee, was named in his honor, as was a bridge spanning the Hampton River adjacent to his alma mater, Hampton University.

In 1984 Hampton University dedicated a Booker T. Washington Memorial on campus near the historic Emancipation Oak, establishing, in the words of the University, "a relationship between one of America's great educators and social activists, and the symbol of Black achievement in education."[49]

Numerous high schools, middle schools and elementary schools[50] across the United States have been named after Booker T. Washington.

At the center of the campus at Tuskegee University, the Booker T. Washington Monument, called Lifting the Veil, was dedicated in 1922. The inscription at its base reads:
He lifted the veil of ignorance from his people and pointed the way to progress through education and industry.
In 2000, West Virginia State University (WVSU; then West Va. State College), in cooperation with other organizations including the Booker T. Washington Association, established the Booker T. Washington Institute, to honor Washington's boyhood home, the old town of Malden, and the ideals Booker Washington stood for.[51]

On October 19, 2009, WVSU dedicated a monument to the memory of noted African American educator and statesman Booker T. Washington. The event took place at West Virginia State University's Booker T. Washington Park in Malden, West Virginia. The monument also honors the families of African ancestry who lived in Old Malden in the early 20th century and who knew and encouraged Booker T. Washington. Special guest speakers at the event included West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin III, Malden attorney Larry L. Rowe, and the president of WVSU. Musical selections were provided by the WVSU "Marching Swarm."[52]

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Annotated Bill O'Reilly Talking Point Memo #3

Welcome to the 3rd Annotated Bill O'Reilly Talking Points Memo.  

Loofah Lad squeezes out a load like this one every single day and calls it a Talking Point Memo. It's always interesting to read between the lines in order to figure out WTF he's really saying when he's pontificating. Freud could have had a field day with him. Since Freud is not here, I'll give it a shot.

Today's topic: O'Reilly called it "White Grievance and the Republican Party." I call it, "In How Many New Ways Can I Defend My Good Buddy Donald J. Trump While Blowing Dog Whistles?" Let's get right to it, shall we?

All the polls say the same thing: Donald Trump's rise is being fueled largely by white men who are angry with both political parties.

Not to mention all that free publicity the media has given him, especially on Fox "News" with all the softball interviews he gets there. Like on your show, f'rinstance Bill O. I can't wait to see how you WHITEwash all of this on behalf of your vanilla milkshake buddy. Go on. Entertain me.

At this point 47% of Republican women say they will not vote for Mr. Trump, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll.

Which merely proves women are the smarter gender, but not all women.

So it is the guys who have catapulted the candidate to the top of the Republican primary pack.

According to the Washington Post, Donald Trump is favored by 50% of Republican voters who make less than $50,000 a year, most of them men.

Also, Mr. Trump is supported by just 32% of Republicans who have college degrees, according to polling from 20 Republican primary states.

So you can see that Trump's support is largely coming from working-class white men who feel aggrieved.

I tend to think of them as working-class White men who have been brainwashed into thinking they're aggrieved. I look at them as soft racists -- if not actually hardcore racists -- who see equality as a zero sum game: If a group of folks are having their Civil Rights respected, these fools somehow think something is being taken away from them.

Now we've seen this before.  The black grievance industry is a powerful presence in America.

Wait!!! What???  Did you just change the topic to create a false equivalency?

That group sells the notion that most problems in the African-American precincts are caused by white people and historical oppression.

OH, MY!!!

You actually did change the topic to create a false equivalency. And then you blew your dog whistle. Let's unpack your White Privilege, shall we Mr. Falafel? Because only a White man who doesn't recognize his White Privilege would allow such manure to escape from his lips.

Are you saying there was no racism in the country? Or, are you saying that racism is over?

I'm so glad we're living in a post-racial society. FINALLY!!! /sarcasm

Listen, Loofah Lad: Even if one were to buy your bullshit argument that there are are no legitimate grievances in "African-American precincts" to be attributed to "White people and historical oppression," can you not see how that "historic oppression" has continued to create an uneven playing field when it comes to wealth creation and inheritances, not to mention the quality of neighbourhoods that each group tend to live within?

While the media gives that view a lot of attention, most African-Americans reject the propaganda.

And, you'll prove that, right?

A recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation says that 61% of American blacks believe the breakup of the African-American family is a major reason for the economic deprivation and social problems in the black community.

Wait just a gosh darn minute. You do realize that both can be true at the same time, doncha?

Just because 61% of Black folk "believe the breakup of the African-American family is a major reason for the economic deprivations and social problems in the Black community" (and, I'll assume your number is correct despite the many fibs you've told over the years), doesn't mean that Black folk don't also recognize, and fully understand, the "historic oppression" that got them there.

One fact does not negate the other. Unless you're just blowing another dog whistle in which facts are manipulated to create a false narrative.

Oh, wait!

I thought this was going to be about your good friend Trump's aggrieved constituency: Poor, uneducated, racist voters. Sorry I interrupted.

On the white side the issue is similar.

Here we go. Back on topic. Thank you.

Many white Americans believe that illegal immigration hurts their job prospects and are angered by changing neighborhoods and social patterns.

And, there's your false equivalency in a nut shell, asshole.

You've just alluded to the fact that Black folk have no right to feel aggrieved because they only have themselves to blame -- and they even admit it -- but White folk are legitimately spooked by "changing neighborhoods [sic] and social patterns". In your false equivalency you're not even giving equal weight to both sides in your false argument. You see nothing wrong with that as long as it helps Trump. Just another reason you're a hack, as I correctly called you in The Annotated Bill O'Reilly Talking Point Memo #2.

Their refrain is often, I want my country back.

Back to when Black folk knew their place, perhaps?

These voters are tired of seeing welfare doled out to people who are not motivated to succeed.

How many dog whistles you got?

They are angry that terrorists are not being contained.

Doncha mean radical Islamist terrorists? And, what does "contained" even mean in such an asymmetrical war?

Oh, and, Muslim dog whistle.

They see the Republican Party as largely cowardly in the face of political correctness.

I see the people who reject political correctness as saying, "Rude as I wanna be," just like the meme to the right I tricked up back in August.

Incidentally, I love how you're using the word "they," but you're really not only talking about yourself, but using this Talking Point Memo to excuse the worst aspects of Trump's campaign. Like weaving in "political correctness".

Remember when your friend Trump said he had no time to be politically correct? The Anti-PC Police Squad™ has long been a fixture of the Fox "News" Channel, as you must know.

Never mind. You were saying. Any more reasons why White folk are the real victims and only your pal Donald Trump can save us?

The white grievance crew also believes they are being oppressed economically and that nobody is looking out for them.

But, you're looking out for us, aren't you Mr. Falafel? You'll tell us what to believe and who to believe, won't you?

Enter Donald Trump, who vividly reflects the anger, who has criticized his own party for being weak.

Now both the black and white grievance movements have some legitimate points.

Wait! That's not what you said above. You were dismissive of the Black grievance industry.

Anyway, do go on. My eyes can't roll any farther away than they have already. How are Blacks folks' grievances legitimate? This should be good.

There is no question that in poor black neighborhoods schools are generally deficient because the property tax base is low.
So poor black children are not being educated as well as affluent children.

That's true.

Yes, it's true. And, why is that, you obtuse piece of crap?

Because of systemic and ongoing racism!!!

U.S. cities look the way they do -- and the property taxes are such -- because of White Flight, redlining, just two aspects of the "historic oppression" that you blithely dismissed out of hand as of no consequence.

You also seem to feel that systemic racism has been eradicated, when it clearly has not been. Otherwise, poor Black children would be as educated as poor White children, never mind any stupid false equivalency with affluent White children.

On the white side, here's a simple example: The Republican Party did not get behind Kate's Law, which would have harshly punished illegal alien felons who defy deportation.

WAIT!!!

How did we get from that to one of your pet projects, not to mention one of your favourite Muslim dog whistles?

It doesn't matter because you just -- once again -- pointed out your own racism. Answer me this, Sherlock, how is this strictly a White issue? If it's as important as you say it is, shouldn't it cross all racial lines? 

While GOP senators like Grassley, McCain and Cruz did actively try to get Kate's Law passed, the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did not.

And in general Republican politicians did not raise the flag on this issue.

I mean, when you control both houses of Congress and you cannot get Kate's Law passed, there is a serious problem.

Or, maybe it's just a stupid law that you are championing. But, again, you're just playing defense for your BFF Trump. The funniest part is that you actually believe you are in the No Spin Zone. My eyes are spinning from where you've taken this Talking Points Memo.

Again, Donald Trump has tapped into that chaos.

Thank goodness we're back on topic.

Going forward, Mr. Trump's nomination is not a lock.

Thank goodness there are still smart people in this country who are banding together to stop this demagogue before it's too late. First they came for the Mexicans . . .

He has made mistakes and will have to win over millions of Americans who do not believe he is qualified.

The majority of 'Merkins don't believe he's qualified and if he somehow manages to snag the GOP nomination, which is starting to look less and less likely, he will be destroyed in the General Election. And, the GOP will be on the endangered species list, especially if the Republican Convention becomes a brokered one. [Pass the popcorn.]

If you believe the polls, Mr. Trump is in for a rough day tomorrow in Wisconsin.

Let's hope so.

That being said, the issue of white grievance is not going away and Trump will maintain a loyal level of support.

Among the poor, uneducated, xenophobic racists that want to make 'Merka great again. Everyone else, as you have already made the case above, are fleeing from this sinking ship.

Many of his supporters are furious, and if Mr. Trump does not get the nomination, the stay-home vote next November is likely to be substantial.

Pass the popcorn.

And that's the memo. [Transcript provided by Bill O'Reilly.]

And that's my answer, 'cept:

Don't you get winded blowing so many dog whistles, Loofah Lad? After all, you're not a young man anymore. But, you're still an aggrieved racist White man.