Wednesday, May 31, 2006

PS 61, Across The Sea of Time: 54 years

In the left of the combined picture is a scene of Joyce and Delores of CWS taken last Friday (Eva Schwartz Day).The right comes from a 10/6/52 Life Magazine article about PS 61. The article centered around the dynamic principal of that time, Max Francke. PS 61 had the largest enrollment of any elementary school in the city. Look closely, you can see the same old fashioned entry doors to the auditorium. Here's two slide shows I had put together several years ago using scans of that interesting article which is on exhibit at the school. I'm pretty sure Eva's twins were in PS 61 at that time. This is part one.And here is part two

Down South Camp Meeting

The dysfunctional family went south to Philly for 2 days this weekend.

While I was there I was ready again to call and maybe visit an elderly Lemonick for information on my "mystery grandpa" but again I got no response to an email from famous couz Michael. I had Bernie's home zeroed in on Google Earth and a planned side trip to Germantown (a philly burb) would have brought us close enough to convince the troops to try for another drive by adventure. Heat was too much. The youngin (who was suffering from the apprehension of a summer operation) was mollified by a trip to the Woodbridge Mall (Contrary Mary's nabe). While waiting I fantasized about having a mini camera to capture the variety of sights. I found a gem in the used CD collection of a Frye's music store. I guess there wasn't much of a market for a Manhattan Transfer disc in Reggatone World, so it was $4.99. I never knew Jon Hendricks wrote lyrics for this Fletcher Henderson great: Ga-ther here, come ye from far an' near
Get the meetin' on Saints and sinners, come one, come all (Have a little revival)
Losers, winners, answer my call "Cause right now the tent's up (Really it is)
The word's out - (Truly, it is) An' has been since the dawn (Hear me tell ya)
The call's out (Really it is) An' we're 'bout (Tendin' t'biz)
To git this meetin' on - Hear me tellin' you
Brothers n' sisters who want to repent
(That's right!) You'll find what you've been lookin' for right here in the tent
here's the full set of lyrics
Here's the tune

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Heyeeyeup, Glad To See Ya, Look Alive

The 50th anniversary (approximately) of the great Sergeant Bilko show was marked by a 3 Disc, 18 show DVD collection. Mickey Freeman (Zimmerman) was at J and R signing autographs. I think only he and Henshaw (Allan Melvin) are alive from the main characters. I found a Bilko fan site that had several sound clips and I tied them together as the sound track for this Bilko slide show. Did you know Bilko is one of the all time favorite sit coms in England? The borrowed text from the slide show talks about how Bilko was revolutionary in lampooning the previously sacred cow view of the military. Boy have we come a long way. And boy how we miss (in my view) those old vaudeville trained, Borscht Belt comics: Silvers, Hackett, Jack E. Leonard, Sheckey Greene, Henny Youngman, Berle, etc. It's interesting these guys grew up hungry from the depression era and there's a passive aggressive (actually not so passive) edge to their humor that's missing from Seinfeld and Larry David. Sure Larry can be hostile, but a lot of it it is self directed. Bilko was always looking to con someone or make someone look like a schmuck. His look alive line resonates (ugh oh-pseudo alert) with me. That was a favorite line of my father when he wanted to criticize, "Come on David, Look alive, look alive." Strange, but I miss that.

Monday, May 29, 2006

A Hero's Clothier: Spitzers

Wouldn't it be a kick if Elliott Spitzer had his campaign kick off for Governor at Spitzer's Dress Shop?
Here are some other audio gems from Eva Schwartz Day. In this clip the Children's Workshop kids do their E V A chant mixed with some sounds from their up and coming band. On this clip I try to pin down Eva on her Entemann's repetoire.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

LES Hero: Eva Schwartz

It's been a while since this blog honored a LES hero (9/11/05-Bella Abzug), but here's one long overdue for recognition. When I made the difficult job transition from Brooklyn to Manhattan about 10 years it was Eva Schwartz who helped cushion the blow. At 7AM she was there "schtupping" teachers with coffee and cake and motherly caring and advice and humor. (such a "filthy" mouth from such an unlikely source. Unless she really is the reincarnation of Selma Diamond). She had retired from PS 61 several years before and she was still there not just for the teachers and the kids but for just about for any LES character down on their luck. It was also nice encountering another Eva (my mom's name). Everybody talked about nominating her for a New Yorker of the week award, but nobody ever went to the trouble until Joyce Borden and the good folks at the Children's Workshop School did. It all took place as a surprise at the usual AM Friday school gathering. A bunch of old friends and colleagues were gathered and seeing them and Eva was the tonic for the remainder of a day dealing with a wrecked car and a disappointing doctor's visit for my daughter (another ear operation awaits late this summer). The audio part of this slide show is made from a mixture of Norm Whitlow's intro and Assemblywoman Friedman's presentation in front of hundreds of cheering kids (a strain for my mp3 recorder). Later I recorded the NY1 reporter recording Eva's interview. I'm sure a good deal may be cut from the actual station clip. I nudged Eva's daughter to get Eva to include the part where she mentions her own kids attending the school. In a separate audio I got Eva to give us a sampling from her joke file. BTW the local superintendent was there to honor Eva, but for some reason her presence had an omenlike effect on my camera and I couldn't capture any images of her.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Mansions Of St. Nicholas Place

Here's another two slide show entry. The first slide show consists of images taken in my quest to find where Dave Caros might have stumbled upon some rent parties. I had thought they might have been on Edgecombe where the established jazz musicians of Sugar Hill resided. The high overlook eastward view from Edgecombe was incredible.I chose a Lunceford track, "Lunceford Special," as the music. Jimmy Lunceford resided in Sugar Hill in the 30's and 40's. His band was one of the best of the swing era and is relatively unheralded. The second slide show consists mostly scans from the Harlem Lost and Found book. I put the 1920 composition, "Look For The Silver Lining" by Jerome Kern as the soundtrack. I thought it might fit era wise, but if it didn't, at least it gave me a chance to use Chet Baker. The second version of the song was used for filler so the timing of the slides would be sufficient to allow reading.

Drunk From Drinking The Gourd

When the adderall kicks in there's no rest for the blogger. We have here two follow the drinking gourd slide shows. The first has mostly images from the excellent national geographic site combined with the Weaver's version of "Follow The Drinking Gourd." My parents had many Weavers' records in our house and in retrospect I can't figure out why. We were not really a progressive family, but I guess the spirit the Weavers conveyed overrode my father's later years shift to the right. This was to be a trend of his depression era scarred contemporaries in the 60's. Read Samuel G. Freedman's "The Inheritance" on this topic. The second slide show has the Harriet Tubman "Gourd" song sung by Holly Near and Ronnie Gilbert. It has images from a Harriet Tubman kid pix created site (it's from my archives and I don't remember where it is from, but it is really good and obviously original. BTW the Tubman project with Ms. Rizzo's kids is going nicely. I'm using the "A Woman Called Moses" film and I will try to plug their word template driven responses into a 2 pre-formatted and musically timed powerpoints.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Follow The Drinking Gourd

Yesterday's NYTimes had an article on the possible destruction of downtown Brooklyn properties via eminent domain. These properties may have been stops on the Underground Railroad. The accompanying photo is of one of those properties at 233 Duffield Street. I set it within an historic photo (from the nypldigital collection) of the symbolic sale of an escaped slave at Beecher's Plymouth Church (an underground site) in Brooklyn Heights. Here's a pdf packet of articles on the Underground Railroad in New York City as well as some pages from a really good site on Iowa "stations".Here's a slide show composed of images from Dover's Underground Railroad coloring book combined with Richie Haven's version of "Follow The Drinking Gourd." The pdf packet includes an explanation of drinking gourd's lyrics (on pages 52-53).

Frauds, Liars, And Bullies-Part 2

Hey it's Woodbridge Mary Contrary's friend back in the news. From cbs news: "More details have surfaced regarding Jim McGreevey's upcoming book. In new excerpts from the page-turner, the former New Jersey Governor talks of struggling to come to terms with his homosexuality. He also talks about secret sexual encounters at bookstores and highway rest-stops. He even writes that he once tried hard to play it "straight," looking at Playboy centerfolds and going to topless bars. The excerpts do not mention whether these activities continued into his term of governor. McGreevey's book is due out this September." I wonder whether Jim encountered Vito? If he went to topless bars maybe he met him at the Bing? Poor Vito, his character was getting annoying, but he didn't deserve the fate dealt to him. I'm glad Sil meeted out some revenge on gay baiter Fat Dom. To think, I once admired Phil for being a stand up guy. Phil will surely get his, maybe he'll be crushed to death by Ginny Sack. Say whatever you want about Jim, he wasn't a bully. I know someone in New Jersey, who is just like Jim, but he's also a bully.
Postscript: This is some pretty interesting pseudo-intellectual stuff from by Gary Susman, "I'm one of those who think Vito's story line this season was essential to the thematic concerns of the show and not a side trip or distraction. Vito's plight raised fundamental questions about what it means, in Tony's world, to be a man, questions that resonated richly throughout this episode. There's Phil, literally coming out of the closet as he presides over Vito's final moments. There's A.J.'s friends, making casual homophobic jokes. There's Tony, telling Dr. Melfi about his rage toward his giggling, shiftless son — and turning away from her insight that the kind of shelter from Tony that Carm had always given A.J. was just the kind of protection Tony had longed for in vain from his own mother. There's Carm, practically giving Tony permission to do ''whatever it is that boys do when they're on their own'' while she's gone, and Tony taking advantage of Carm's absence to get serviced by a stripper while he's driving. (Am I the only one who thought at first that his heavy breathing was the sign of another panic attack?) And there's Fat Dom, one of Vito's killers, gloating about Vito's demise and gay-baiting the apron-clad Carlo until Carlo (like Phil, defending the manly honor of his family and himself) and Silvio kill him in a fit of rage. Behold the men."

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Frauds, Liars and Bullies-Part 1

Exposing this group is part of my profile and I've been a little lax in that department. Let me start with this. Last year Classroom Inc. was brought to PS20 for our 6th graders. It was a freebie, provided by Estee Lauder. It had a heavy tech component and would require a great deal of use of our computer lab. I didn't want it, because I thought I could do better than a canned program. My colleague welcomed it, since it would relieve him of planning-it was all scripted. I also didn't know he was being schtupped a couple of hundred of bucks on the side for his trouble. The program was boring to many kids and its tech simulations were dated. "Classroom, Inc. is a non-profit corporation of education specialists who develop computer-based workplace simulations to be integrated into school environments at the middle and high school levels. The simulations involve students in interactive learning experiences which help develop skills that foster a successful transition to the mainstream of adult life." The top exponent group was especially saturated with the program and because these kids were also well behaved they didn't revolt against the assignments as most "normal" kids would. When I did some investigating of this program I found it had a one star charity rating (see pic attached). It was supported heavily by Bloomberg and Estee Lauder. Since Estee Lauder was giving Christmas presents to all our kids, using the program was considered a favor to them and it was expected that classroom inc. would be accepted well and evaluated well (schtupping also helped). It's CEO was a former DOE literacy chair who was making 165K a year in what I guess was a golden parachute job. The organization was also awarded $300,000 in DOE contracts for summer school programs. Why? "Professional development Very Good Program Plan, Very Good Organizational Capacity and Very Good Demonstrated Effectiveness. $300,000.00" I guess they don't read the charity evaluation site. BTW Estee Lauder and its chair Ronald support the most reactionary components in our government and in Israel's. The suspected injustice here is manifold. The program is crap and it is paid for by tax write off charity dollars that could have gone to more deserved programs. This goes on all over especially with well connected non-profit foundation heads.

Bring Them Home

A link from counterpunch provided a youtube Vietnam era video of Pete Seeger's, "Bring Them Home." has released an updated version of this classic with Ani DeFranco, Steve Earle and Billy Bragg joining Pete.
Here's the song, gratis of appleseeds. (I did the right thing by just buying the album online) Here are the great lyrics:
If you love this land of the free,
Bring them home, bring them home.
Bring all troops back from overseas,
Bring them home, bring them home.
It'll make the generals sad, I know,
Bring them home, bring them home.
They want to tangle with the foe,
Bring them home, bring them home.
They want to test their weaponry,
But bring them home, bring them home.
Here is their big fallacy,
Bring them home, bring them home.
A foe is hunger and ignorance,
Bring them home, bring them home.
You can’t beat that with bombs and guns,
Bring them home, bring them home.
I may be right and I may be wrong,
Bring them home, bring them home.
But I got a right to sing this song
Bring them home, bring them home
There’s one thing I must confess
Bring them home, bring them home
I'm not really a pacifist,
Bring them home, bring them home.
If an army invaded this land of mine,
Bring them home, bring them home.
You'd find me out on the firing line,
Bring them home, bring them home.
Show those generals a fallacy:
Bring them home, bring them home.
They don't have the right weaponry,
Bring them home, bring them home.
For defense you need common sense,
Bring them home, bring them home.
They don't have the right armaments,
Bring them home, bring them home.
The world needs teachers, books and schools
Bring them home, bring them home
And learning a few universal rules
Bring them home, bring them home
So now we don’t want to fight for oil
Bring them home, bring them home
Underneath some foreign soil
Bring them home, bring them home
So if you love this land of the free
Bring them home, bring them home
Bring all troops back from overseas
Bring them home, bring them home

Weekend Update

Josh over at "A Penny's Worth" has a clever Friday feature called "God Speaks." Josh might be interested in techniques for increasing his readership and he has the advantage of having an MBA. My marketing skills have me confined to the four walls around me, family strife and this laptop. Anyway my anonymous friend (from my very limited collection) sent me this weekend update and I feel it is so trenchant that it deserves sharing, although I can only supply the limited readership of this blog: "Notes for weekly update: the attached update is strictly not for publication as it contains implies flatulence and other reference to elements which the general public might or might not be ready to inhale. However. However, nothing. I said however in order to give myself a moment's pause but then actually had no conjoining (how's that for pseudo-intellectual - conjoining) phrase with which to contiguously ( how's that?) assemble the entire thought. So I leave it for you as a half-thought. Knowing that you will dig full value out of half thought. This is a little like what I do with potatoes. I let the spuds grow so large that in the end I cut away the potato and simply feast on the outgrowth. Do you see what I mean? You've probably done the same thing. Often I also allow lettuce to decompose in the vegetable bin and then simply swallow the rank smelling liquid. It's got to be chock full of vitamins although I've never read or been told this by any one. I just know it intuitively. And I've found that kind of knowledge is the most reliable in any case. Wouldn't you agree? Don't answer that. I know your thoughts on the subject well. How? Strictly intuition. Wouldn't you agree? Don't answer.
first things first right off the bat - the so-called weekly update does not occur weekly. It’s simply the title of a project. Not meant to be taken in linear terms as if the update occurs in a seven day rhythm. If that were the case then, in a sense, the so-called author of the piece would in effect be nothing more than a slave to time. A once every seven drone. This is not the case so let’s just say that we examine the most important element of time to which -- for our purposes -- we can relate: its elasticity. Because my friend, within the confines of simple connectivity - that is, as a simple function of our relatedness -- and by the way if this isn’t pseudo-intellectual enough for you I hate to be the one to tell you but you’re going to experience life as a series of unmitigated disappointments from here until Sunday -- But excuse me for a moment so that I can reclaim direction. It’s easy to get lost in the thicket so please allow me to bring out my metaphoric machete and clear a path in the underbrush. Are you following me? I find that close attention is necessary in this endeavor otherwise, I myself can lose the train and wind up in some unexpected and alien station. Do you see what I’m saying? Like missing the boat without water. See what I mean? Because I’ve tried that too. Captaining a boat in a dry gulch led me nowhere fast. I’ve scuttled from here to here. Never even getting from here to there on many an occasion. So what I’m trying to do here is tip you off about a few of the ways that you can avoid having to reinvent the wheel. Do you see what I mean? About reinventing the wheel that is? I’m confident that you do so I’m plunging forward. Now to the heart of the matter. What makes it all worth while, at least to my way of looking at things, is personalization. That’s six syllables of power right there - per/son/a/li/za/tion. And if using six syllable words without any particular meaning or purpose isn’t pseudo-intellectual then I’ll eat the next hat I buy. At the moment I have no hats so I had to alter the standard phrase - eat my hat. You see what I mean? The thing is, I personalized the common saying. See what I mean? I could stop here because I think I have amply made my point but since the bathroom is occupied and I won’t be able to get in there for at least a few minutes - I can hear some person whose name will go unmentioned struggling with a “discharge” - I’m going to take this all in stride and move swiftly towards my concluding points. Swiftly like the wings of a hummingbird glistening in the sun. See what I mean by that term, “swiftly”? Or even a pine cone tumbling through still skies to the ground. Windless day equals no flutter, straight drop. See what I mean? I hear a flush so my time is soon but don’t worry. I’ll not abandon this task until I’m certain that you’ve got it. Now as I was saying. I’m proceeding directly to my main point here. For my purposes, and I honestly couldn’t care less whether others stay with their own resolves or follow me in this matter, I’ve decided to honor this day - what the Americans call ‘Sunday’, the French ‘dimanche’, the Spanish ‘domingo’, etc. - as a day of relative rest. I say relative because as a ‘free’ day I’m reserving the right to do whatever the hell I see fit to do on it. So if in fact I feel like chopping up my furniture for instance. Then I can make it a day of chop chop chop. See what I’m saying? Or, alternatively, if I wish to be entertained at the cinema? I get myself a seat or two. Napping in the cinema would take care of two leisure activities in one shot so I may try that occasionally. Because there’s nothing wrong with it. If you have any ideas on how to triple up this activity -- like maybe shopping on the way to the show, or bringing some sort of dessert into the show and showering myself with bits of it hoisted high into the darkness only to descend soundlessly into my waiting mouth - any suggestions on that order are not only going to be welcome. They’re going to instantly be put into my activity rotation and tested for efficacy on a weekly basis. But you know already what I mean by weekly. It doesn’t have to be every seven days. Right? We’re not talking linear here. We’re talking quantum if you will. Will you? Don’t answer that. Unless you’ve really thought it through and know where you stand. Please take your time. But know it isn’t yours alone. That’s the whole point of this. It’s another sense in which time is relative. And not just to space. Also to others. Your time is part mine. And his and his and hers and theirs. See what I’m saying? Relative. Einstein had it half right. I’ve got the other half right here. Even though it only comes out on half of the weekend. See what I mean? So this is where I’m going with the main point before bladder bursts and the rug becomes the foundation of some thing more akin to an aqueduct that a carpet rest. The main point is simply that every (take that every with a grain of salt, it’s not meant as an exact measurement of time) seventh day, whether others follow me in this regard or some other tradition matters not to me, I intend to restrain and constrain impulses to do meaningful work unless or until I have the impulse to do so playfully in which case the play aspect would be regarded as central and essential and the work element de-emphasized to the point that the activity could be not only engaged in fruitfully but multiplied into heretofore undreamed levels of follow up assignments. Do you see what I mean? For instance. If I need to cook I might play with fire. If I need to wash clothes, I might unravel a sweater, wash the wool and then reconstruct it. If my rug needed a shampoo - as there are a number of spots that have becomes stained with mysterious and odd smelling liquids it seems - I might pretend (that’s where the play element comes in, with the pretend) but without pretension that the rug was a huge collie and I rewarding it for saving its seven year old master would provide it with a refreshing weekend clean. Are you getting this? The reason I’ve been so concerned about whether you are with me throughout is because I’m not planning on a putting a patent on this. If there’s any part of this - this taking Sunday off weekly (though we don’t think of it necessarily as every seventh day) - that you would like to use or try . . . any part of this that you think might be relevant to your own schedule - or as the British like to say shehjewel - than by all means. Be my guest. Just don’t use the towels. They’re just for show. I have paper towels there on the side of the sink. Would you mind wiping with those? Is that too much to ask? Anyway. Let me know if you can make any practical use of this. I know I started out sounding very pseudo but I’m confident that you will agree we ended up in meaty territory. Let know what you think. I’m interested in all comments, genuine pseudo or even abreactions. I’d explain that ‘abreactions’ thing but I prefer to save it for another sojourn. Also ‘sojourn’ I could explain that too but it goes along with about five pages of blather that I don’t have time or bladder control to get into here and now. Do you see what I mean? About the preeminence of time. Time consciousness, yes that’s what we are talking about here. But I know that you know that and that you knew that. (Time awareness once again.) Time time time in a sort of runic rhyme. Do you see what I’m saying. Anyway I’ve got to make do with what I have. And I mean that literally as in ‘make dew’ which would be the operative euphemism here. So because I have to make do I’ll say ta ta. By the way, if you should have any question about what I’ve said, send me the answers to those questions post haste. No point in sending the questions. I already have those. See what I’m saying? Ta ta comes before oops. I’m hoping to make this so. So ta ta."

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Across The Sea Of Time

Yesterday would have been Malcolm's 81st birthday. You can't help but he intrigued by this man's life after reading "Striver's Row." What's missing in detail from Spike Lee's treatment and the Alex Haley book is the story of Macolm's life growing up in Lansing in the 30's. I was pretty ignorant of the segregation and degree of racism that existed in the North in the relatively recent past. Kevin Baker based much of his research for "Striver's Row" on Perry's comprehensive biography. The controversial issue of Malcolm's sexuality was brought up in the Perry bio (not that there's anything wrong with that) Here's a glimpse from the guardian: "Some black activists are enraged by suggestions that their hero might have been gay - or at least bisexual. The controversy has been stirring since the publication of Bruce Perry's acclaimed biography, Malcolm: The Life of a Man Who Changed Black America (Station Hill, New York) in 1991. Based on interviews with Malcolm's closest boyhood and adult friends, Perry suggests that the US black nationalist leader was not as robustly heterosexual as his Nation of Islam (NoI) colleagues have always insisted. Malcolm X joined the militant Muslim NOI in 1949, attracted by its teaching that Allah would deliver black people from white bondage. By the 1960s, Malcolm had developed NOI ideology in new directions, becoming America's leading spokesperson for black consciousness, pride and self-help. Sexual freedom was not, however, part of his agenda.
Yet Perry's book documents Malcolm X's many gay experiences. A schoolmate, Bob Bebee, recalls the day they stumbled on a local boy jerking off. Malcolm, Bebee recalled, ordered the youth to masturbate him, and subsequently boasted he had given him oral sex. Later, from the age of 20, Malcolm had sex with men for money - as hinted at in Spike Lee's 1992 biopic - and he had at least one sustained sexual liaison with a man."
While this should no way downgrade Malcolm's achievements, another black icon, I feel, deserves upgrading. As a kid I don't think I appreciated how great Sammy Davis Jr. was. It didn't help that he was a Nixon supporter in his later years and the countless times I heard him do "Mr. Bojangles" and other lame shtick on the horrible Ed Sullivan Show. I just treated myself to the Sammy/Buddy Rich CD at Academy Records (a boost for a depressing day of work). Here's Sammy (and Buddy) at their best.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Advertisements For Myself

I used to think I was so hip reading Mailer (graduate of PS 161K in Crown Heights) back in the late 60's and early 70's. I usually got lost in all of his self absorbed machinations, but he was on target politically and also unintentionally prescient (say that secret pseudo intellectual word and win a prize) with the ME decades to come. Anyway, that walking my baby post reminded me of one of my favorite projects, the one I did with Barry Rosen's first graders last year. Their learning fair project connection to the transportation theme was on the theme of walking. Barry made a great iMovie with the kids on their predictions on the amount of steps it would take to get to different places. I showed them my karaoke version of Nat King Cole's "Walking My Baby" and then had them recreate the images in another slide show. It was a lot of fun. Here's version one and here's version two. BTW there's no more learning fair at PS 20. . What took the Doc years to build is being destroyed in a matter of months. Barry was lucky he transferred last year.

Walking My Baby Back Home

On one of Dave Caros' escapades in 1920 Harlem took him to the home of D'Lelia Walker ( Odelia Packer in the book, "Dave At Night").The map shows how far he ventured. Actually in the book, Odelia's chauffeur drove Dave and his fake Grandpa Solly there. Dave was in love with Odelia's daughter, Irma Lee. While at the mansion he met the great Harlem Renaissance artist Aaron Douglas. This was an inspiration for Dave's budding art career. In life imitating "art", Gail Carson Levine's father would later become a successful commercial artist and Gail and her sister have artistic skills as well. Here's a slide show I put together about the Walker's with selected images from a great resource, the book "Harlem Lost and Found." The music is Noble Sissle's 1920 era "Camp Meeting Blues." Here's part of an interview that D'lelia's great grandaughter, A'lelia Bundles, did with with Jerry jazz on this site: JJM: As an introduction to Madam C.J. Walker -- your great great grandmother -- the writer Ishmael Reed wrote, "Madam Walker is the key to understanding her generation. She had to battle the society who had consigned her to doing its laundry, yet she triumphed to become one of the most fabulous African American figures of the twentieth century." Madam Walker, born Sarah Breedlove, was orphaned at a very early age. What characteristics did she possess that allowed her to turn her vulnerability as an orphan into resolve and resilience? AB: One explanation is that she was a genius. In every generation there are geniuses like Henry Ford or Bill Gates or Andrew Carnegie, so let's use that characterization as the headline. In addition, she was a very resilient child. There are many children of poverty who overcome very difficult circumstances, and in a family where everyone doesn't succeed, sometimes there are children who possess the resilience necessary to turn the difficulties into positives. Because she had so much loss in the early part of her life -- including the death of her parents -- rather than being beaten down by it, it made her a fighter."

Mary, Mary, A Bit Contrary

It's not every day you get an opportunity to podcast with someone that has the celebrity status of 5th cousin of Jim McGreevy. I just couldn't resist when one of my favorite senior citizens was at my neighbor's house on Mother's Day. Mary was unusually tight lipped, maybe it's because she was concentrating on her next day's strategy with the one armed bandits at Atlantic City. BTW, notice how Mary zings me with "You have nothing better to do.." Here's the podcast A mistake: The photo in the collage is of Woodbury. I intended Woodridge, where Mary hails from and where McGreevy was once Mayor.

"Out of The Night There Came A Lady "

Ms. Rizzo requested some digital resources on Harriet Tubman so it looks like the Holly Near version of Walter Robinson's song will be dusted off again. Likewise "out of the night" appeared Gail Carson Levine. Well, not really. I sought out Ms. Levine. I wanted to share the work the kids were doing with her book. I thought she would appreciate the attempt to match the story with its real world locations. I also wanted to share the similar experiences of my father and hers, the Sephardic Jewry link, and Uncle Hy's connection to PS 42. Remarkably, after reading my blog, she thought I was cogent enough to return my call and we had a nice conversation. Coincidentally, her residence upstate is not too far away from where I destroyed my brakes last week. Synchronicity, zeitgeist, who knows? If the classes of the two schools manage to get together to celebrate "Dave At Night" Gail said she would join us and that would be great. I wonder how many Tweed and other DOE bureaucrats it would take to coordinate such an effort. Probably 3 or 4 meetings, a few retreats and a 200 page manual would be involved. Here's part of an interesting interview with Gail by Cynthia Leitich Smith: Gail Carson Levine on Gail Carson Levine: "I was born and grew up in New York City. I was a child in the 1950s, not very long after World War II. My neighborhood in northern Manhattan, Washington Heights, was a haven for refugees from Hitler, and German was spoken on the streets as often as English."The city was a wonderful place to be a kid. Every July 4th, my friends and I would walk to middle of the George Washington Bridge and watch the Macy's fireworks over the Hudson River. On weekends we might walk a mile uptown to the Cloisters, a medieval museum. Other times we'd walk a mile south to two other museums. When I was eleven, I was allowed to travel on the subways on my own, and then New York City was my oyster! In the winter, friends and I would ice skate in Central Park. In the summer, we'd picnic and swim at the beach two hours away by subway--for thirty cents each way!" You can find the rest of it here

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Energy Star Zeitgeist

Patrick Walsh, another one of my smart Harlem colleagues, tells me that the more appropriate term is zeitgeist for these strange coincidence-like (synchronicity) encounters that I have been experiencing in the blogosphere. So as soon as I finish Jack Karney's "Work of Darkness" his son Richard, "Mr. Energy Star," appears on WCCO News (Minnesota). It's hard to believe that Richard actually runs a successful gvt project. Here's the interview. Here's the transcript: I-TEAM: Energy Star Products Saving Americans Cash (WCCO) When you're looking to be more energy efficient in your home, many people start by finding the Energy Star label on appliances. It's a name consumers trust and with good reason. Energy Star products cut utility bills and help the environment. At Best Buy -- and other stores selling appliances -- Energy Star is a sales star."Customers are willing to pay more if they are educated on what it's going to save them," said Best Buy salesman Bill Wiemann. Jill Sonnesyn, from Plymouth, Minn., is one of those customers. She was eager to update her kitchen with Energy Star products."Just being energy conscious and I think it's an important thing for everyone," she said.Sonnesyn did a lot of research about Energy Star products. She still wonders, who runs Energy Star? "I would assume it must be governmentally regulated," she said. Actually, Energy Star is a partnership between the federal government and manufacturers. Government sets the performance standards for energy efficiency. Manufacturers get to slap an Energy Award label on their product if it exceeds those standards. "I believe the label has moved the market," said Richard Karney, who runs Energy Star for the Department of Energy."The companies that we work with work very hard to get the Energy Star label on their products," Karney said. "They're always looking for ways of saving energy, but let me remind you, at the same time they are not reducing at all any performance of their products." But Energy Star is sometimes a victim of its own success. For examples, clothes dryers use too much energy to qualify for the program. Yet our hidden camera found dryers in local stores displayed along with the Energy Star. Leigh Gallagher, with SmartMoney magazine, said not all appliances are put to the same tough tests. "There is a testing process and in some categories the tests are more rigorous than others," said Gallagher. SmartMoney found the Energy Star logo was reliable on products like dishwashers, refrigerators, and washing machines. The logos were less reliable on TVs and air conditioners. Critics also say Energy Star has been watered down. Only the top 25 percent of appliances in each category are supposed to get the star. Gallagher said that's no longer the case."The label is on some 85 percent of new dishwashers, 98 percent of computers. Well that sort of dilutes the value then," she said.Tougher requirements for dishwasher take effect next year. New TV and computer standards are in the works." Karney said the Department of Energy will update their standards for Energy Star when the market is saturated. "We have to make sure the consumer sees that the label differentiates the products from others," Karney said. Last year, Energy Star saved Americans $12 billion on their utility bills. It also cut greenhouse gases the equivalent of taking 23 million cars off the road. And that makes Jill, and other consumers, feel like they're part of something much bigger than themselves.

Happy Mother's Day

That's my mother, Eva, circa 1945. Quite a beauty. I miss her and I'm crying as I write this. There's nothing like a mother for providing unconditional love, an element that's in very short supply. Mrs. Watson is a great mother to her 5th graders and a real treat to work with. Smart, black and proud and politically astute. She still calls me "Sir." Her kids participated in Peace By Peace festival sponsored by Columbia University (I guess I can't dislike an entire college just because of Miss Lucy). Here they are in a slide show with pics from the festival and here's a "podcast" of our first installment of our "Dave At Night" project.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Pulp Fiction

I finished Jack Karney's "Work in Progress." I loved it. My friend Richard should get his dad's collection republished. Here's a description of "Cut Me In" published in 1959:"Not long after Coley Walsh joins the New York Police Department, he becomes part of a corrupt precinct that runs a graft operation with local bookies. His desire for Mille Raft, a beautiful fashion model, leads him into further corruption. Mille's boyfriend, Peter Carlyle, is the head of the New York City chapter of the national syndicate. In an attempt to hurt Carlyle and to make enough money to impress Mille, Walsh embarks on a one-cop campaign to take over the syndicate in his precinct. Walsh joins the syndicate when they make him an offer he can't refuse, and he is soon caught up in the syndicate's violent scheme to take over the garment district. Joseph Cantor, Mille's boss and Coley's good friend, is being pegged by the syndicate for takeover, and when Cantor refuses to give in, Coley is stuck between his affection for the Cantors and his ties to the syndicate. Violence and corruption come to a climax when Mille and Coley risk their lives to try to frame Carlyle."

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

My Boo

I bought a copy of Al Schact's autobiography. I found out that, even though he was born on the LES on Catherine Street, he moved when he was three and went to PS 42 in the Bronx, not the PS 42 on Hester Street. As for Jewish ballplayers, the Bosox continue to dominate the Yanks, especially with Youk!

Free Flowing Rage

After 58 years I think I took my 2nd A train to Harlem on Friday. (My car was in the shop after I wrecked my brakes after stupidly hauling 1500 pounds of tile in Carmel, New York) The first came 38 years ago when I lived for 2 weeks in Bed Stuy prior to my first year of teaching. I didn't get off in Sugar Hill, but at 127th and St. Nicholas. I had my camera ready to take in some fascinating sites. Here's a slide show. I caught this young father, to the left in the above photo, intermittingly bursting into fits of rage at his daughter while on the way to school, proving the age old axim, "Everybody needs someone to dump their rage on." I wonder who the kid takes it out on in school. From an article in this week's voice on karate schools in the Bronx: "It's easy to see the harsher side of life in the area after only a few walks along East 180th Street. The poverty (about 40 percent of people in that community district live below the poverty line) is visible, and so is the anger. "Yeah, that bitch gonna be smiling when she gets the money for the kids," bellows one guy into a phone. Down the street a woman screams into her cell for someone to "come get your fucking baby," who is also screaming. A pack of teenagers races across traffic to pummel a chubby kid, then disperses. Turning onto Mapes, a little girl riding in a stroller leans over to pick something off the ground, and the woman pushing her goes berserk, shaking the carriage violently. "Don't be fucking leaning over like that!" she shrieks."
PS, you're a true jazz aficionado if you know the the slide show singer of A Train

Nested "Bestid"

There's been a lot of media attention devoted to a charter school invading Nest's school space. Here is one instance where I fully back Joel Klein.

Seeger Remembers Peekskill

Bobby Kennedy Jr. interviewed Pete Seeger on Air America's "Ring of Fire" of 5/6/06. Seeger spoke about his experiences at the 1949 Peekskill Riots.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Pink Links

a link to see Pink performing Dear Mr. President live
and a link to a video created with images aligned with lyrics

The Hebrew Home For Boys

When Dave Caros' father dies in "Dave At Night" he is sent to live at the Hebrew Home For Boys in Harlem. This institution existed on 136th Street, between Broadway and Amsterdam until the 1930's. I couldn't find any pictures of it online. I wanted to get some images of the area to show the classes involved in the les/harlem project that I envisioned. I decided to combine some atmospheric sound with the images, but came up a bit short. So in this slide show I augmented that soundtrack with some reggaetone music. I hadn't been in that area much (CCNY takes up a big part) in my life, other some PS 397K era trips to 142nd Street and Hamilton Place (The Children's Art Carnival). The Convent and Edgecombe Ave areas were beautiful. I had thought that the latin area of west Harlem started further uptown than the 130's. The dividing line between latin and African-American Harlem seemed to be CCNY and St Nicholas Park. Amazingly, the exact location of the Home was discovered when I was researching the Jacob Schiff School, which is unique in that you have to climb a hill to reach it from its 136th Street side. Here's what I found on the nycparks dept site:"This parkland, which is shared by Public School 192, also known as Jacob H. Schiff School, was once home to the Hebrew Orphan Asylum. By World War II, the orphan asylum closed and was transformed into army barracks. Shortly after the war, City College acquired the building for use as a classroom and dormitory, naming it “Army Hall.” The building eventually closed in 1952 and was demolished when Parks and the Board of Education jointly acquired the land in 1956. In 1987, the Schiff School playground received a $918,623 renovation and was officially named Jacob H. Schiff Playground

Dear Mr. President

A titanium kahones award to Pink. If this song doesn't bring tears to your eyes and chills down your spine then you need to get your pulse checked. Because of its irregular pattern it was not a candidate for a slide show karaoke. Instead I remembered that in quicktime pro you can add a text layer by copying the text in word or simple text, then selecting a given portion of a song in quicktime format, then under the edit menu selecting "add selection & scale." It was tedious, but worth it. Quicktime's compression possibilities also really minimize the file size. It's perfect for courageous educators to use as a graduation song.

The N Word, A Therapeutic Community and Small Victory #2

Last week I couldn't work with some 5th grade boys because I was told Mos Def was in the school to do a poetry workshop with them. Now I'm not a totally lame 58 year old white guy. I do know who Mos Def is, not so much because I enjoy rap music, but because I'm somewhat aware of what's going on (I have a soon to be 15 year old) and I saw and enjoyed Mos Def in that great movie "Lackawanna Blues." However, the fellow in question was not Mos Def, but Mo Beasley. I asked Mo if I could podcast his session and he loved the idea. Instead of me or a kid holding the mp3 recorder near him I had Mo strap it around his neck.The sound quality was more than adequate. I was then free to take some candid shots of the kids listening. Here's the result. There was also a thoughtful follow up discussion on the N word.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Mont. Governor Pardons 78 in Sedition Case

Unfortunately, a pardon will never come for Mollie Steimer & friends. HELENA, Mont. (AP) -- For casually saying that American troops were ''getting a good licking'' in France during World War I, a blacksmith named August Lambrecht was imprisoned for seven months in 1919. After being released, he and his wife fled Montana for fear of being imprisoned again. He died in Portland, Ore., in 1957 -- unable to outrun his conviction for sedition. It was a black mark his family felt was grossly unfair. ''This is America,'' said his great-grandson, David Gabriel. ''Having freedom of speech and saying what is on your mind doesn't make you a criminal and it shouldn't.'' Gabriel joined about 40 family members at a ceremony Wednesday where the governor signed pardons for nearly 80 people convicted of sedition amid the war's anti-German hysteria. Gov. Brian Schweitzer said the state was ''about 80 years too late'' in pardoning the mostly working-class people of German descent who were convicted of breaking what was then one of the harshest sedition laws in the nation. ''This should have been done a long time ago,'' said Schweitzer, the son of German immigrants. They were the first posthumous pardons in Montana history. The list of those pardoned included farmers, butchers, carpenters and cooks. One man was charged merely for calling the conflict a ''rich man's war'' and mocking food regulations during a time of rationing. Keith Sime's uncle, Herman Bausch, was a pacifist who refused to buy war bonds and spent 28 months in prison for being outspoken about it. Sime said it was important for the state to finally recognize the injustice.
A total of 76 men and three women were convicted of sedition. They were imprisoned for an average of 19 months, often based on casual comments made in saloons. At the time, profane language or insulting the virtues of women usually resulted in a longer sentence. One man was previously pardoned; 78 received pardons Wednesday. Journalism professor Clem Work of the University of Montana said many were turned in by friends, acquaintances or in some cases by people jealous of their land holdings. ''Today's a day of redemption and redress, helping the families put closure to the wounds and at the same time make an affirmative statement for free speech,'' said Work. While some of the comments seem shockingly benign, others were less so. But even those who cussed the president and the flag should not be considered criminals, said Work, whose book, ''Darkest Before Dawn: Sedition and Free Speech in the American West,'' inspired law students at the university to write petitions for the pardons and help find family members. ''These people merely expressed their opinions and made derogatory or critical remarks about the U.S., the war, the soldiers or the flag,'' he said. Under Montana's sedition law, it was illegal to make ''any disloyal, profane, violent, scurrilous, contemptuous, slurring or abusive'' comment about the Constitution, the federal government, soldiers or sailors, the flag or the uniforms of the Army or Navy. Laws at the time even made it illegal to speak German. Schweitzer said his grandmother was not allowed to speak the only language she knew while out in public.

Law student Katie Olson, who worked on the project, said shedding light on the case is not enough. ''The lessons are meaningless unless we learn from them,'' she said. ''It is never too late to learn the lessons history wants to teach us.''

Immigrants and Flag Waving

The two can sometimes be mutually exclusive, but I found this scene striking. The cemetery containing heroes and heroines of the revolution in Carmel, NY is in the middle of a small grouping of houses inhabited by Mexican immigrants. I ran them together in a slide show with a Revolutionary era midi from a great site,
Here's some background on the song, "Free America":These words are by Dr. Joseph Warren, of Boston. Warren was one of the original Minute Men. Warren was Chairman of the Committee of Safety in Boston in 1775 and the man who sent Paul Revere to Lexington to warn John Adams and John Hancock of the British advance, setting Revere off on his famous ride. Warren was commissioned a Major General by the Massachusetts Provincial Congress and was killed in the Battle of Bunker Hill.
Warren set the words to the English song British Grenadiers. The origin of that tune is unknown and variants have become popular several times. The commonly known words cannot predate 1678, as that was when the regiment was created. William Chappell's Popular Music of the Olden Time places the tune in the Elizabethan era, but notes that the current words and music for British Grenadiers were found on a manuscript of the 18th century. Here's the karoake slide show

It's A Small World After All

I began my collaborative LES/Harlem project today at one of Caroline Kennedy's favorite public schools, PS42. Looks like things may work out well. One of the kids overheard my discussion with one of the teachers and went down to the school library prior to lunch, borrowed, "Dave At Night" and was up to chapter 11 by the end of lunch. Later a girl comes over to me and casually says, "Hi, Mr.Bellel." It was Wendy from Mr. Louie's class at PS20. She transferred to PS42 in December. What a small world. Her transfer is reminiscent of the great migration theme of the Harlem Renaissance. Also by coincidence, the guidance counselor at PS42 is a good friend of Shifra Levin, the guidance counselor at Harlem's PS149. Shifra and I worked with each other going back maybe 15 years ago at PS397 in Brooklyn. The same guidance counselor at PS42 began her teaching career many years ago at PS20 and has fond memories of "father time" Arnie Messinger. Arnie has been at 20 for about 40 years. He's probably seen about 73 chancellors come and go during that time. With luck he may see Joel Klein's departure. (From my mouth to God's ears). Here's a slide show of the experience Did someone say Kevin Bacon?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Passionate Kisses And The Desperate Blogger

Last night while looking for the name of the quaint Lake Carmel hot dog stand I stumbled upon a roadfood review of Magnolia's. Lo and behold we now have a face to go with "What size coffee?'" from 4/19/06. Renowned food critic Michael Stern gave the place a good review. I don't know what he was smoking, maybe he was enchanted by other things?

Monday, May 01, 2006

Looking For Art In All The Weird Places

Hey, Warhol made it big with Campbell Soup Cans. When my daughter Emma pointed out this old fashioned outdoor hot dog/ice cream stand I immediately saw something podcastworthy. Unfortunately, it caused her embarassment because she thought my stealth recording and picture taking would be noticed. I wouldn't equate it, however, with my father's insistence on singing with the band at every wedding and bar mitzvah that I ever went to. The teenage girls yapping away in the background weren't discussing Stephen Colbert-something about a party at a friend's house where they played hide and go seek and someone wore pigtails. Here's the result

More LES Movie Memories: Courtesy of Jack Karney

Jack Karney was my friend Richard's father. He wrote several pulp type detective and suspense novels.
It was a big deal for me as a kid to go to the Chatham Square Library on East Broadway and see Mr.Karney's book "Cop" right there on the shelves. The dedication of the book was to Richard. I never read "Cop." The only books I was interested in reading were the John Tunis books, "The Kid From Tompkinsville," etc. I'm making up for it now by reading Karney's 1956 "Work of Darkness." It's no "Striver's Row," but it's very good. It takes place on the LES and in the scanned pages that make up this slide showhe mentions other LES movie houses, the Apollo and the Academy.

Loew's Canal Memories

Last week while I was down on the LES I stopped by the Tenement Museum. In the window of 97 Orchard Street was a poster that was a sampling of a placematters exhibit that is being done in collaboration with City Lore.
It showed a 1939 photo of the Loew's Canal, my "home" movie theater of my childhood. I remember that one of the first movies I saw there was "How To Marry A Millionaire" with my mother. It must have been in 1952-3. I also remember, I think, seeing the Blob there with my childhood flame, Nancy Bueller, aka "The Most Beautiful Girl In Knickerbocker Village." This was I think in 1958. The Blob was scary, but it was nothing compared with some other movie where some aliens drag you into some underground cave. I had nightmares about that movie well into my adulthood. Here's some more info on the Loew's Canal from cinedmatreasures:"The Canal Theatre opened in New York City on September 8, 1927. Designed in the popular Spanish baroque style, it was one of the first movie palaces to feature the “Atmospheric” style in its auditorium. Theatre seated almost 2,400 and featured a Wurlitzer organ. In 1957, the curtain came down on the Canal’s last show and theatre closed. It's interesting to go into that store it is now because, much of the ceiling plasterwork is still there. I didn't even kow it was a theater when I first went in the store, but once inside it was screaming "theater", that's how I discovered it. I already sort of picked up on it in the former lobby area. I guess the owners of the store were wondering why I was constantly looking at the ceiling instead of their merchandise! A lot of the ornamentation still exists in both the lobby and what was the small auditorium. When I went back outside, sure enough, there was a marquee too (which I totally didn't notice), that's how I really knew I was just in a theater."
Here's a slide show with "now and then" pics of the canal along with the weird Blob soundtrack, by a young Burt Bacharach.

Little Senegal

Colbert inspired me to create some original "art." Going back to my audio verite project: Last week I parked a few blocks away from my school on 116th Street, between St, Nicholas and Frederick Douglas. It was an amazing block-all African stores and restaurants. When I was going home I "strapped on" my mp3 recorder and tried to immerse myself. I was thirsty and got a drink in one of the stores. That's me sneezing as the heavy scent of the spices hit me. Then I took some photos when I got back to my car. In order to bolster the sparse sound track I mixed the ambient noise with a segment of a Senegalese song, "Manu Chao Amadou et Mariam-Senegal Fast Food." My research found that the African flavor of the block is largely Senegalese. I also found some additional images and info on the web. The Little Senegal movie seems interesting, but it's unavailable. Here's the resulting slide show. Here's some additional info from an nyu little voices interview project done a few years ago:"The following information is a case study on Mrs. Madjiguene she is a Senegalese native who moved to the United States in 1989. Upon arriving in America Mrs. Madjiguene moved to the African neighborhood in Harlem mentioned above. This interview discusses Mrs. Madjiguene's linguistic history, her experiences in Senegal and her experiences in America.
Question: What is your linguistic background? What languages did your parents use and teach you while growing up? 
Answer: I was born Senegalese so the language I grew up speaking was Wolof. There are many ethnic languages in Senegal, however Wolof is the main/national language. Since Senegal was a colony of France the official language of Senegal which is taught in school is French. Senegal gained independence from France on April 4, 1960. My mother spoke Wolof and my Father who is from Mali (a neighboring country) spoke Bambara, French and Fulani. My father spoke to us in French because children needed to know French before they went to school. French is taught in kindergarten, so if you had educated parents they would speak to you in French. If your parents were not educated then you would speak only Wolof until you learned French in school.
Question: Can you explain the linguistic situation in Senegal? What is the communication like between Senegal and other countries?
Answer: Well, there is French Africa and English Africa they are called Franco-Africa and Anglo-Africa. West Africa which includes the countries of Senegal, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Mali, Togo and Benin were all French colonies so French is the official language. Countries like Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Kenya and Tanzania were British colonies so their official language, in addition to their national languages, is English. We can all communicate in French and English, but communication is rather difficult among Africans because there are many ethnic groups. For example, the Ivory Coast has about one hundred ethnic groups, Nigeria has a little more than one hundred ethnic groups and Senegal has about five main ethnic groups. These ethnic groups are the Bambara, the Jola, the Fulani, the Wolof and the Hassaniyya. In Senegal, English is mandatory but I am not sure if French is mandatory in Nigeria. In Senegal you learn French and English in school, so before I came to United States I was already speaking English.
Question: Do you ever hear Wolof spoken in this community?
Answer: Yes, all of the time I hear Wolof spoken in the streets, on the trains, downtown and at the supermarkets.
Question: Do you label the languages based on the ethnic groups? Are the ethnic languages described by the area where the ethnic group is historically from?
Answer: Yes, in Senegal labeling is easy because when you have a country with a national language like in Senegal everyone speaks Wolof. For example, the Jola, the people from the south and the people from the north all speak Wolof and they also speak French. However, in the Ivory Coast (a neighboring country) the people have to speak French because they don't understand each other. The people develop a type of urban French they call it Le Petit Biyan which is like a creole. This urban French is spoken in the markets and in the streets and it is not educated French. They have this problem everywhere in Franco-Africa except for Senegal. The other Franco-African nations have to speak the official language to understand each other.
Question: Does your son speak Wolof?
Answer: Yes he does, but it is a type of Wolof I don't understand very well because he has an accent. I tell him 'this is not how you speak Wolof you're losing your Wolof accent' but what can I expect he was born in America and lives in the American enviroment.
Question: Does your son speak French?
Answer: No, he doesn't speak French anymore. He used to but I no longer speak French with him. I shout to him English and whenever I speak French to him he answers me in English. So, I say to myself teaching him French is too difficult so I should forget about it. I also have not been speaking a lot of Wolof with him...I should not be doing this. [laughs]
Question [To Son]: In your school are there a lot of people who speak Wolof or does everyone speak English?
Answer: A lot of people in my school are in the International class. A few of my friends are from the Wolof ethnic group and are in the International class. [He attends The Booker T Washington Junior High School which is located on 108th Street and Amsterdam Avenue.

Stephen Colbert: The Titanium Kahones Award

Early on in this blog there was an occasional "LES Hero" feature. Stephen Colbert is far beyond that. He gets the titanium kahones award. From "The White House Correspondents' Association Dinner was televised on C-Span Saturday evening. Featured entertainer Stephen Colbert delivered a biting rebuke of George W. Bush and the lily-livered press corps. He did it to Bush's face, unflinching and unbowed by the audience's muted, humorless response. Democratic Underground members commented in real time (here, here, and here). TMV posted a wrap-up. On Colbert's gutsy delivery, watertiger writes, "Stephen Colbert displayed more guts in ten minute of performance at the White House Correspondents Dinner than the entire Bush family. He, along with the ever-feisty Helen Thomas, deftly exposed the "truthiness" to the world (or at least those who were watching) that Bush AND the D.C. press corps are indeed a naked emperor and his gutless courtiers." Mash at dKos says, "Standing at the podium only a few feet from President Bush, Colbert launched an all out assault on the policies of this Administration. It was remarkable, though painful at times, to watch. It may also have been the first time that anyone has been this blunt with this President. By the end of Colbert's routine, Bush was visibly uncomfortable. Colbert ended with a video featuring Helen Thomas repeatedly asking why we invaded Iraq. That is a question President Bush has yet to answer to the American public. I am not sure what kind of review Stephen Colbert's performance will get in the press. One thing is however certain - his performance was important and will reverberate." Here's a link to a site called thankyoustephencolbert where you can view the video.