Saturday, January 12, 2013

Paul Whiteman and the Rhythm Boys, "That's My Weakness Now."

The Rhythm Boys were Harry Barris, Al Rinker, and the young Bing Crosby. Paul Whiteman was a jazz bandleader whose career began in the 1920s when this recording with the Rhythm Boys was made. This clip by 240252 accompanies the music with a montage of photos of the musicians and period scenes. This song has long been a favorite of mine, since first hearing it on Jim Kweskin and the Jug Band's album Jump For Joy.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

I might as well have posted, "Roll, Tide!"

It seems my role as a sports Jonah continues. All I had to do to sink Notre Dame's chances in the BCS championship game was to declare that, for the first time ever, I was rooting for the Irish to pull off an upset. Of course, the fact that I'm often rooting for upsets may have something to do with my lousy record.

Also, some credit has to go to Nick Saban and his lads in the red helmets, who thoroughly dominated the game. I arrived at the Chip Shop about halfway through the first quarter, got a pint of IPA, and saw the score was already 7-0 Tide. Not bad, I thought; N.D. has a way of falling behind early and then coming back with a vengeance. But then it quickly went to 14-0, and the Irish offense couldn't seem to get anything going. At halftime I got another pint, this time of Fuller's porter, and hoped for things to get better. They didn't. I topped the evening off with a hot toddy made with Irish whiskey and honey, and left late in the third quarter.

I was backing Notre Dame partly out of respect for the memory of my late friend Pete Demmerle, a hero in the Irish victory over 'Bama in 1973, and partly because Notre Dame is one of the few BCS schools where one may say "scholar athlete" without a knowing smirk.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

New Year's remembrances and thanks.

It's been my custom, early in the New Year, to recognize those who have been helpful to my blogging venture in the past year, and before. This year I'm starting by remembering those whose loss I've felt especially strongly in the previous year. For me, the most significant loss was that of my mother, Marjorie Elizabeth Lane Scales, who died on August 31, just a month and two days shy of her 96th birthday. For the last four years of her life, following a hip fracture the day before her 92nd birthday, she was unable to walk and confined to a skilled nursing facility. The staff there praised her tenacity and sense of humor; these were among her many fine qualities I had known for my sixty plus years.

2012 took a heavy toll of musicians I admired, including Dave Brubeck, Earl "Speedo" Carroll, Levon Helm, Whitney Houston, Earl Scruggs, Donna Summer, Doc Watson, and Kitty Wells.  As a space exploration enthusiast, I mourned the loss of Neil Armstrong and Sally Ride. My second vote in a Presidential election was for George McGovern; I was sorry to see that good man gone.

I've also mourned the death of my law firm alma mater, LeBoeuf, Lamb, which after a mega-merger became Dewey & LeBoeuf. However, I celebrated the revival, in Italy, of my brief movie career that grew out of my time at LeBoeuf.

Now to the happier task of giving thanks. A special hat tip goes to The Reverend Stephen Muncie, Rector of Grace Church, for having shown me an image of Henry Ossawa Tanner's remarkable painting, The Annunciation, which was the basis for what has become the most popular post on this blog. I have a perennial debt of gratitude to Michael Simmons, my old Lion's Head companion who keeps in transcontinental touch and often feeds me material for posts, including this one about Dylan's album Tempest.

On the subject of the Lion's Head, I also must thank Dermot McEvoy for keeping me and other alumni of "Lion's Head University" in contact, with recollections of the past, as well as news, some of it, unfortunately, sad, but some of it welcome, like an invitation to a performance that featured Head alums David Amram and David Coles. Another Head veteran who inspired a post is Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Thanks also to Larry Kirwan of Black 47 for inviting me to a salon of the Irish American Writers & Artists, at which I met Honor Molloy and heard her read "Sixpence the Stars". I couldn't help but think of her delightful piece this morning at Grace Church as we celebrated Epiphany Sunday, recalling how the Dublin "shawlie" in Ms. Molloy's story described the gifts of the Magi as "golden frying pans and more," but said the infant Jesus' favorite was the poor boy's present, "the little oranges."

I'm grateful to Louise Crawford for asking me to review Peter M. Wheelwright's novel As It Is On Earth, and for directing me to the residence and studio of painter Simon Dinnerstein, after I had admired the work of her photographer husband Hugh Crawford, in preparation for what proved to be my "seven artists in two days" post.

On the subject of art, my post on Pierre Bonnard remains a perennial favorite, and for that I owe a continuing debt of gratitude to Mark Crawford (no relation to Hugh and Louise), who inspired my interest in that fascinating painter. I posted about Mark's art just over five years ago. Since then, he's produced many more paintings and his work has taken some new directions, so I will be writing another post about his art in the near future. I'm also working on a new post about Bonnard, based on some interesting material I've recently seen for the first time.

As always, I'm grateful to John Loscalzo and the rest of the Brooklyn Heights Blog staff for giving me an alternate forum on which to post about neighborhood news and issues, and for providing a permalink to this blog which produces much readership.

Thanks also to my faithful readers whom I haven't mentioned by name, but who make this enterprise worthwhile, and to my wife and daughter, who tolerate my obsession.