Monday, July 31, 2006

You've Come A Long Way To St. Louis For A Cup Of Joey

Joe's off to St. Louis to visit sister Trudy-so we'll try to survive for a few weeks hopefully without a severe coffee withdrawl headache. Meanwhile the lovely Mrs. B said she might write a replacement column, tentatively titled "Living With The Chronically Depressed"
You came a long way from St. Louis,
You climbed the ladder of success . . .
I've seen the flashy foreign cars
That were parked out in front of
Your fancy address!
You came a long way from St. Louis,
You broke a lot of hearts between . . .
I've met a gang of gloomy guys
Who were doin' all right
'Till you came on the scene!
You blew in from the middle-west
And certainly impressed
The population here-abouts . . .
Well baby, I got news for you,
I'm from Missouri too,
So, naturally, I got my doubts!
You got 'em droppin' by the way-side,
A feelin' I ain't gonna know . . .
You came a long way from St. Louis,
But baby, you still got a long way to go!

The LES' Very Own Car

From the NYTimes: The Noma was assembled, but not manufactured, in a plant at 155 Avenue D on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. In contrast to Ford’s business plan for the Model T, in which the automaker took control of every stage of production beginning with the raw materials, Noma made cars from parts produced by suppliers that made components for a number of automakers. Continental or Beaver engines were used, and exterior panels for the Noma were produced by a related firm, the Walton Body Company. The Noma’s ovoid radiator shell was a distinctive feature; the model line included a speedster as well as four-, five- and six-passenger models. More than 600 were built before the factory closed in 1923.
Here's where 155 Ave D is on a 1893 map. The area was industrial (only a block away from the East River). In 1893 a Tobacco Factory occupies the spot. Today it is the school yard of PS34

Here's a slide show with images of some of the other cars mfg in New York in the early 1900's. It's set to the tune of a song popular at the time, but with 1940 adapted lyrics. These are the original:
In My Merry Oldsmobile
Words by Vincent Bryan, Music by Gus Edwards
Verse 1: Young Johnnie Steele has an Oldsmobile. He loves a dear little girl.
She is the queen of his gas machine. She has his heart in a whirl.
Now when they go for a spin, you know, she tries to learn his auto, so
He lets her steer while he gets her ear, and whispers soft and low;
Chorus: Come away with me Lucile in my merry Oldsmobile
Down the road of life we’ll fly automo-bubbling you and I.
To the church we’ll swiftly steal, then our wedding bells will peal,
You can go as far you like with me, In my merry Oldsmobile.
Verse 2: They love to spark in the dark old park, as they go flying along,
She says she knows why his motor goes; his sparker’s awfully strong.
Each day they spoon to the engine’s tune, their honeymoon will happen soon,
He’ll win Lucile with his Oldsmobile and then he’ll fondly croon;
Chorus: Come away with me Lucile in my merry Oldsmobile
Down the road of life we’ll fly automo-bubbling you and I.
To the church we’ll swiftly steal, then our wedding bells will peal,
You can go as far you like with me, In my merry Oldsmobile.
Patter Chorus: Come away Lucile ‘cause if I may Lucile I want to take you for my bride,
And we’ll chug along and always sing a song as down the road of life we fly
Even though my car is old and squeaky now it’s better than a horse or train.
When I pull the throttle out and put her into third you think you’re in a plane.
To the church we’re heading for a quiet wedding then I’ll crank her up and take the wheel
And away we’ll go my honey, they will know my honey that our love is real.
You can go as far you like with me, In my merry Oldsmobile,
My merry Oldsmobile.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Hot Days, Cool Salsa

How lucky I was to wander into Union Square park this past Thursday to catch this treat:NEW SCHOOL UNIVERSITY’S AFRO-CUBAN JAZZ ORCHESTRA Under the direction of faculty member and acclaimed drummer Bobby Sanabria (a recent inductee into the Bronx Hall of Fame), New School Jazz students and alumni present a lively afternoon of blues, bolero and mambo by the masters of Afro-Cuban music. "Bobby Sanabria has performed and recorded with a veritable who's who in the world of Jazz and Latin music, as well as with his own critically acclaimed ensemble Ascension. His diverse recording and performance experience includes work with such legendary figures as Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente, Paquito D'Rivera, Charles McPherson, Mongo Santamaria, Ray Barretto, Larry Harlow, Marco Rizo, Luis "Perico" Ortiz, Chico O'Farrill, Henry Threadgill, and the pioneering godfather of Afro-Cuban Jazz, Mario Bauz√°. Sanabria was born and raised in the "Fort Apache" section of New York City's South Bronx to Puerto Rican parents. Inspired and encouraged by Maestro Tito Puente, another fellow New York-born Puerto Rican, Sanabria "got serious" and attended Boston's Berklee College of Music from 1975 to 1979, where he obtained his Bachelor of Music degree. Since graduating from Berklee, he has become a leader in the Afro-Cuban and Jazz fields as both a drummer and a percussionist, as well as being recognized as one of the most articulate scholars of "la tradici√≥n." I made a slide show of the event with pics I took and audio I recorded If you can dance then you're a babe magnet machine.

New Poll: The Most Beautiful Girl In The World (Hasn't Got Platinum Hair)

lyrics by Lorenz Hart
The most beautiful girl in the world picks my ties out
She eats my candy, she drinks my brandy
The most beautiful girl in the world
The most beautiful star in the world, 'tisn't Garbo
T'sn't Dietrich, but a sweet trick
Who can make me believe it's a beautiful world
Social ? Not a bit! Natural kind of wit
She'd shine anywhere, and she hasn't got platinum hair
The most beautiful house in the world has a mortgage
What do I care ? It's "Good-bye, care"
When my slippers are next to the ones that belong
To the one and only beautiful girl in the world
Social ? Not a bit! She's got a natural kind of wit.
And I tell ya, she'd shine anywhere, and she hasn't got platinum hair
The most beautiful house in the world, it has a mortgage
What do I care ? It's "Good-bye, care"
When my slippers are next to the ones that belong
To the one and only beautiful girl
The one and only beautiful girl
The one and only beautiful girl in the world

Lawrence Of Arabia

From the very informative PBS site on Lawrence of Arabia that helps in deciphering the complex events of the film: "Selim Ahmed's life changed irrevocably in 1911 when he went to work as a water boy at the ancient archaeological site at Carchemish, on the modern Syria-Turkey border. There he met a young, British archaeologist called T.E. Lawrence who would turn his world upside down.Selim Ahmed was nicknamed Dahoum - 'the little dark one' - by his fellow Arabs. Lawrence was struck by young Dahoum's natural intellect and he singled him out for English and Math lessons. In return Selim helped Lawrence improve his spoken Arabic. Lawrence adopted the boy as a semi-permanent companion and trained him up as his archaeological assistant. They went on expeditions together, worked alongside each other, swapped clothes and were rarely apart.In the summer of 1913 Lawrence took Dahoum and the site foreman, Hamoudi, home to Oxford, where they intrigued the locals by cycling around in their flowing robes. The Arabs were amazed by modern amenities such as hot and cold running water and the subway system in London.Some historians report that many Arabs working on the ancient site were 'tolerantly scandalized' by Lawrence and Dahoum's friendship,especially when Lawrence stayed on in 1913 and Dahoum moved in with him. Others reject any notion that their relationship was anything more than friendship and believe Lawrence encouraged the scandalous gossip as it appealed to his sense of humor.Whatever the truth, many agree, the few, short years with Dahoum at Carchemish were the happiest of Lawrence's life. In June 1914, Lawrence left Dahoum as custodian to the Carchemish site. It was the last time they ever saw each other. When Lawrence fought his way back to northern Syria in late 1918 the news reached him that Dahoum had died. A severe famine had hit the area in 1916 followed by a typhus epidemic. Dahoum did not live to see his lands liberated. Lawrence wrote that the strongest motive throughout his campaign in Arabia had been a personal one, adding that it was dead before he reached Damascus."
This story provides a clue in the solving of La Dolce Jargo post

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Istanbul Not Constantinople 2

Here's the tinytoon version from youtube

Istanbul Not Constantinople

David "Ballella" came to America as a result of the events in the Balkan area in the early part of the 1900's. Those same events haunt us even now. I'm re-watching Lawrence of Arabia to try and get some understanding of those events. I never really understood when I saw it as a kid. I thought I mined a good idea with the Rhode Island slide show, i.e. hand over to students a geographically themed song and let them make an imaged linked slide show to accompany that song. There are several sites that list songs that mention geography. Here's my crack at Istanbul-made famous in 1953 by the Four Lads.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Pseudo Pseudo

You never know who might read your blog. The site meter has shown me over time that:

1. If you're blogging to get attention, try screaming anti-Bush slogans in front of the White House instead
2. There's a lot of interest in the Principal from Hell posting at the NYCDOE
3. Many, many people in foreign countries are interested in Harlem
4. Mind mapping is very popular.
Nevertheless, I received a heartening email from a once very influential and now semi-influential technocrat who may have blown my pseudo cover
"Many people who write blogs are narcissists and pretentious pseudo intellectuals. Hopefully I'm not one of them"... you are not one of them! Your funny, biting, irreverent....really, really, clever and on the money...etc. etc. etc. All that to say... "I really like it!" Actually, I really like that because it shows that your work is some kind of blurred line between your personal interests, desire to communicate what your feel is important and why, art (I see it that way), and your teaching and coaching of colleagues... That's the sort of thing that can't be scripted or mocked up.

I doubt though, that I'll be getting an email from Ariel Sharon, telling me that my blog is a Mossad false flag operation

Breaking A Barrier

On Sunday in Cooperstown, N.Y., the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum will induct by special election 17 stars and team owners who predate modern professional baseball’s integration in the mid-1940’s. One man who didn't get elected was 94 year old Buck O'Neil. It's a shame, he truly deserves it. A quote from Ric Burns:"For this series, Baseball, I had the great good fortune to meet Buck O'Neil, who ended up becoming my mentor on much more than the national sport. Buck appears throughout this documentary — as he does in this episode — sometimes telling his own personal story, sometimes giving insights into broader aspects of baseball from a series of interviews — one of them conducted in my home in Walpole, New Hampshire. Over the course of several years, we got to know one another very well, and his boundless generosity of spirit — so evident, I think, even through the television screen — ended up transforming me, my daughters, and everyone else who worked on this project. We also learned a lot about baseball. After the documentary was first broadcast in 1994, and Buck had become known to a national television audience, he told me he felt lucky to get the attention because, he said, "I've been sayin' these things for 60 years — and now people are listening." I told him we were the lucky ones, for having the chance to listen to him. The Times ran an article about the induction and included pics of the inductees. I strung them together in a slide show with an interview I found with Buck O'Neil as a soundtrack

Thursday, July 27, 2006

New And Improved

That's Derek and his mom. He's perennially improved. God Bless Him. I'm constantly looking for a solution for all that wasted sidebar space and I've been playing with code to figure out how to fill it. Blogs are so simple, but one of their weaknesses vs. traditional websites is the linking to older information. I started putting together some of my favorite posts in the sidebar. I'm exhausted just doing the necessary html work to get the top 5, eventually there will be 10. I owe my survival at boring educational meetings to the creation of the top ten most boring or ridiculous things that occured at those functions. It expanded to other areas. I circulated this top ten list to some like minded people in my former school. I suspect some rat fink got a hold of it and brought it to the principal to earn browny points and extra per session. It's been censored from its original form. There's also a connection between this and the recent mention of jargon, but I'll spare you the synchronicity factor.
The Top Ten Things To Love About The New PS..
1. The feeling of freeness you get when there’s no one really in charge
2. The upward mobility that allows a school secretary to rise to great heights of power.
3. The excitement of not knowing of which version of Ms. .. will appear and whether a certified letter will show up in your mail.
4. Trying to answer the age-old riddle of “How many teachers and administrators does it take to program a school. Most of them earning per session.”
5. The bonus travel package provided by the LIS’ in house school tours,
6. The security of recognizing that there will always be a strong union presence as long as Ms… perseveres.
7. The growing inventory of state of the art unused computers
8. Innovative programs like “The Top Ten Things To Love About PS...”
9. The absence of clutter, and for those without morals, the absence of a moral core.
10. Customary announcements

La Dolce Jargo

We haven't used blind items since last July. Here's one and it sort of connects with the last post.
Who is this quote attributed to?
What he brings is an encyclopedic command of educational theory — often describing himself as a “researcher and a practitioner” — and a tireless belief that the system can improve. He describes himself ideologically as a "pragmatic progressive" but also said he had "deep conservative tendencies" in his views about the content matter that children should learn.
He hates it when students are referred to as “at risk,” icily noting that they are at risk only when educators fail. He denounces failed teaching techniques the way a preacher condemns sin. His speeches are dense with jargon.
In a talk to principals last week, he railed against “attribution theory,” the blaming of ills like poverty for the failures of schools systems. He opened with exhortations about “the construction of knowledge” and spoke about classrooms as arenas of “micro-political negotiation.”

The Time Warp Trio

Remember the post about lame and "tainted" summer school curriculum (July 7, Classroom Inc.). This new series on the Discovery Kids' Channel is based on the popular books of Brooklyn's own Jon Scieszka. Imagine the enthusiasm that could have been built by using these books in conjunction with the television show and the extensive Discovery Channel site that supports it. This should have been a no brainer for those 25 year old Management Consultants that run Tweed. About the show:"Time Warp Trio is a new action-adventure animated series airing Saturday mornings on Discovery Kids on NBC and weeknights on the Discovery Kids Channel. The Time Warp Trio website takes the fun and the history from each episode to a whole new interactive level! Kids can continue their wild travel adventures with the Time Warp gang at the Time Warp Trio website (, which they can get from Targeting kids 6 to 11 years old, the Time Warp Trio website goes beyond the TV series by warping real kids into history! While playing “Green Mist Mysteries,” young detectives become active participants in actual Time Warp Trio stories: If Joe, Sam and Fred wind up face to face with Blackbeard -- again! -- can you figure out how to warp them back home? Also, be sure to watch out for Mad Jack -- he’s hidden in every episode of Time Warp Trio! He’s been stealing artifacts throughout time, and visitors to the site will engage in missions to return them in “Put It Back, Jack!” In “Sandwiches of Time,” kids try to keep the Trio from being stranded in the cosmos before they can warp home, by using their knowledge of history. The site complements all 26 episodes of Time Warp Trio and includes games, research adventures, write-in features, interactive stories and materials for parents and teachers such as the following: “Green Mist Mysteries” -- In-depth interactive Time Warp Trio stories revisiting a time and place to which the Trio has warped. Kids meet challenges and make choices to alter the course of events in the story. “Put It Back, Jack!” -- 26 episode-related fact-finding missions. Kids must return a stolen artifact to the correct time and place by answering questions based on information provided in the Plentifax 487” -- 26 guides to each time and place visited by the Time Warp Trio presented in a humorous, futuristic “gizmo” format.“Messages Across Time” -- Kids can (safely) leave messages for other kids to find in each of the 26 adventure destinations.“Sandwiches of Time” -- A history quiz in which players keep the Trio from being kicked out of Mabel's Diner (a rest stop for time travelers) by making BLTs with their correct answers. If you can guess how tall Napoleon was, you’ll win a piece of lettuce! The quiz includes a tell-a-friend form for bragging about the score.“Sound Detective” -- Warning! This game has a high gross-out factor! It’s a wacky sound effects quiz in which the answers are sounds from specific times and places in history (was that a toilet flushing or just Fred burping?). “Wordsplosion” -- Magnetic poetry comes alive when kids write poetic messages to e-mail to their friends, using words specific to different Time Warp Trio adventures.“Say It, Don’t Spray It!” -- Six history-themed rotating questions with posted answers submitted to the site by kids. “TWT on TV” -- Short clips from the TV series, including the series’ catchy opening song by the cool punk band Riddlin’ Kids!“Who’s Who?” -- An ever-increasing collection of factual and funny bios of key historical characters plus the core Time Warp Trio characters. “Newsletter” -- Kids can sign up to receive a weekly COPPA-compliant newsletter that will announce new features and any Time Warp Trio-worthy news of note. “Parents’ & Teachers’” -- This area, geared specifically for parents, teachers and home school educators will engage kids in history through fun activities based on the shows. It will include an introductory essay written by Jon Scieszka, original lesson plans for each adventure and an annotated list of resources for students and teachers, including books and links to relevant websites."
Here's a Time Warp Trio slide show

The Crimson Pirate Was Pink

The Crimson Pirate was on the other night. Like the previously mentioned Sea Hawk, it dwarfs The Pirates Of The Caribbean in moviemaking. Burt Lancaster also did all of his own stunts. Lancaster was quite an interesting man who had a great deal of integrity and very progressive beliefs. He was a big contributor the ACLU as well as to the causes of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He was a New Yorker, from East Harlem, who found his talents develop at the Union Settlement House. He's also a son of the LES, since his grandfather lived for a time at 40 Essex Street! Selections from Kate Buford's bio of Burt :"His paternal grandfather James emigrated to New York in the mid-1860s, more than a decade after the Great Famine, part of the human migration to America that provided labor for the vast technological changes that swept the country after the Civil War. James had two key advantages as an Irish Protestant: he was educated enough to read and he was a skilled worker, a cooper, having served a five-to-six-year apprenticeship before landing in America. He settled on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, at 40 Essex Street (now the the handball courts of Seward Park. In the twisting streets and dark brick buildings lived harness makers, peddlers, grocers, bakers, carpenters, and barbers, Germans from Hesse-Darmstadt and Bavaria, Russians, Austrians,and thousands of Irish — one of the most horrific concentrations of tenement-jammed humanity in the world.....In 1900 James Roberts (Burt's father) — a widower now, with two more children, Minnie and Stephen — rented an apartment at 2068 Second Avenue, near the corner of 106th Street in the shadow of the El. Lizzie, twenty-four, took on the responsibilities of mother of the family. Four years later, James bought what his grandson would call a "very poor little house," a narrow four-story brownstone down the street at 209 East 106th Street between Second and Third Avenues (now part of the Franklin Plaza housing complex), built around 1880 on the north side of the street. The house had been divided into three rental floors, with a moving business on the ground floor. As one of the periodic broad streets that broke up the narrow Manhattan grid, 106th, even with the superstructures of the two Els marking both ends of the block, was less confined and claustrophobic than other nearby streets." I put together a Burt slide show, using part of an old Lux Radio Show with Burt performing in "Broken Arrow."

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Youkilis: The Greek God Of Walks

The favorite current Jewish ballplayer poll has closed. No Dick Morris intervention, just my own-I'm not too thrilled to promote Jewishness at a time when the Israelis are currently bombing the crap out of the Lebanese-just check out youtube videos and read counterpunch. Anyway, the winner Youkilis was given the Greek moniker when he was a walk champion in the minors. The only problem is that Youkilis is not a Greek Jew , but a Roumanian.

Simple Gifts

I rode a bike for the first time in a long time through Prospect Park today. Fatboy almost forgot how to shift gears. While the gentry is away in the Hamptons or Fire Island or the Berkshires, the simple folk enjoy the park. I brought along my camera to capture and celebrate* them. At first I thought I would use "What Do The Simple Folk Do" as a soundtrack, but "Simple Gifts" worked a whole lot better. I fondly remember the theme when it was used on the old CBS Reports in the early 60's. My father enjoyed the show a great deal. That's when he had a shred of liberalism left. That's when CBS was a real news' station. The beautiful lyrics:
'Tis the gift to be simple,
'tis the gift to be free,
'tis the gift to come down where you ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
It will be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed.
To turn, turn will be our delight,
'Til by turning, turning we come round right
Tis the gift to be loved and that love to return,
'Tis the gift to be taught and a richer gift to learn,
And when we expect of o-thers what we try to live each day,
Then we'll all live together and we'll all learn to say,
'Tis the gift to have friends and a true friend to be,
'Tis the gift to think of others not to only think of "me",
And when we hear what others really think and really feel,
Then we'll all live together with a love that is real.
Here's the slide show with the beautiful Judy Collins version
*celebrate-definitely a pseudo word in the calkins' lexicon

Rhode Island Is Famous For You

Two salutes to Rhode Island: The first, with geography lesson images, starring Blossom Dearie

The second: A karaoke version with my own pictures of interesting homes, starring Mandy Patinkin

the youtube streaming may misalign and drop portions of my slideshows and eliminate some of the karaoked text.
Here's the correct Blossom version
Here's the correct Mandy version

David Ballella

I'm named after my grandfather, David Bellel. He died in 1932 in a garment factory elevator accident. My father was 11 at the time. I was supposed to be named David Louis (Louis for my maternal grandfather who had died in the 1920's) but my tough and superstitious Greek grandmother Anna would not permit a middle name. I couldn't find any Bellel's in the 1920 or 1930 census but I found a David Ballella in 1920. It has to be him, because it has him living with my grandmother Anna (Annie in the census) at the address they lived at, 122 Orchard Street. There is also a brother Samuel (my great uncle?, who I know nothing about and unforunately I have no one alive who might know). Notice how the entire building is made up of Greeks and Turks (click on the image above), while 124, next door, was Russian and Roumanian Looking closely you can see that my grandfather was 27 and my grandmother was 21. It looks like they emigrated in 1915 and 1913 respectively. The rent was $16.In the image below you can see the specifics more clearly when clicking on it

Sunday, July 23, 2006

A Sad Cup Of Joe: No Mo Moe

For those of you whose existence hangs in desperation, waiting for the solace that a Sunday Cup Of Joe from Joey B. brings, I am sorry to forward the following: Dave, Due to loss in extended family - with the passing of Moe N. - Joe B. will have to pass on the usual coffee chat. Usually all the news that’s fit to print is fitting but today it’s more fit to let a little silence ring to commemorate the passing of a fine father. I know you will understand but I’m worried about the readers out there so feel it necessary to extend a word of reassurance. Please step aside for a second, Dave, while I speak directly to the devoted Pseudo readership. You who feel you can’t make it through the week without the usual taste of Joe, I’m here to tell you that you can. That’s the message for the day. You can always push a bit further, persevere a tad longer, hump a bit longer than you ever thought you could. So I’m going to ask you all to set that up sideways in your rucksacks and sleep on it when the time comes. Otherwise I will return to my assigned post post-haste in the near future. Best wishes for a blessed day, especially to you atheists out there. Agnostics too. True believers, fend for yourselves.
With help and heart for all,
Joe B aka Joey B.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Jewish Irony

Jewish Irony? Is the phrase redundant? In any case, who closes the door on the slumping Yanks last night, none other than "landsmen" Scott Schoeneweis? BTW, the Rhode Island kid on the left could be a future Jewish Major Leaguer. Great eye hand coordination, a natural. He qualifies as Jewish because his mom is and he was excited to know that the greatest Jewish major leaguer, Hank Greenberg, had a middle name of Benjamin. He also shows some grittiness, by being loyal to to his favorite player Derek Jeter in the middle of Bosox country. (I'm trying to start a Melky type rumor that Derek is Sephardic). BTW Brad Ausmus was overlooked in the Jewish bb player poll, (my online source didn't list him because his father wasn't Jewish).Yet, like the natural above, he still qualifies under the rule that you are considered a Jew if your mom is Jewish. He's never been much of a hitter, but he's one of the best defensive catchers in baseball and unfortunately the Yanks let him get away. From wikipedia: "Bradley David Ausmus (born April 14, 1969 in New Haven, Connecticut) is an American catcher in Major League Baseball with the Houston Astros. Brad's mother is Jewish; and his maternal grandfather was a rabbi. Ausmus was a standout athlete in high school, being named the Avon Old Farms Player of the Year in his senior season; he was a teammate of National Hockey League defenseman Brian Leetch on the Connecticut high school baseball championship team in 1984. Ausmus chose an unusual route to the major leagues: he played minor league baseball during the summers while attending Dartmouth College, from which he graduated with a B.A. in government. He was drafted by the New York Yankees in 1987 and selected by the Colorado Rockies in the 1992 expansion draft but did not appear in a major league game for either team. He also played for the San Diego Padres and Detroit Tigers. In 2004, Ausmus hit .248 with five home runs and 31 RBI in 129 games. He hit his second career postseason home run in Game 1 of the National League Division Series against Atlanta. He has caught at least 100 games in all of his 11 full major league seasons, and ranks third among active catchers in games played. He is the active leader in career RBIs among former Ivy Leaguers. His best season offensively was 1999 with the Tigers, where he batted .275 with 9 home runs and 54 RBIs, the last two being career highs. In Game 4 of the 2005 NLDS against the Atlanta Braves, Ausmus homered with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game at 6-6 and send it to extra innings; the Astros eventually won in the 18th inning of the longest postseason game in major league history. Ausmus and his wife Liz reside in San Diego with their daughters Sophie and Abigail. In the 2006 film The Break-Up starring Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston, Ausmus appears on Vaughn's television screen playing for the Houston Astros during an ESPN SportsCenter update.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Jews In The Dominican Republic

The breaking story of Melky Cabrera's Jewish ancestry (a story you will read about no where else but here) led to some research into the history of the Jewish population in D.R. Looks like Melky might trace his ancestry back to Francisco Henriquez de Carvajal. "The majority of Jews in the Dominican Republic lives in Santo Domingo, the capital. There is also a community in Sosua. The great majority are of Central European origin. Jews from Curacao settled in Hispaniola in the 19th century, but did not form a community. However, they did have a cantor and mohel. The oldest Jewish grave is dated 1826. The Jewish group became prominent in Dominican life, but over the years intermarried with the local population and most of them converted to Christianity. Among their descendants were President Francisco Henriquez y Carvajal (1916) and his son Pedro Henriques Urena who became the leading Dominican man of letters. The Dominican Republic was one of the very few countries prepared to accept mass Jewish immigration in the 1930's. At the Evian Conference it offered to accept up to 100,000 Jewish refugees. The DORSA (Dominican Republic Settlement Association) was formed with the assistance of the JDC and helped settle Jews in Sosua, on the nothern coast. About 700 European Jews reached the settlement where they were assigned land and cattle. Other refugees settled in the capital Santo Domingo. In 1943 the number of Jews in the Republic peaked at 1000. Since that time it has been in constant decline due to emigration and assimilation. A very high percentage of the Jews has intermarried but many non-Jewish spouses and the children of mixed marriages participate in Jewish communal life."

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Kosher Baseball

What's with this sudden interest in Jewish baseball? It's all that milk drinking Melky's fault. Here's a relink to a kosher baseball slide show from January with info on old time players Part of the original entry: "In August of 2004 The American Jewish Historical Society created a commemorative baseball card set, called "Jewish Major Leaguers: America’s Jews in America’s Game." Each set contained 142 cards of every identifiable Jewish Major League baseball player from 1871 to the 2003 All-Star break.

The Original Hammering Hank

Koufax was great, but Hank Greenberg gets my vote as the number one all time Jewish ballplayer. His bio:"Henry Benjamin Greenberg was born in New York City on January 1, 1911. In 1925, 14 year old Greenberg was a player on the Washington Avenue Annex Settlement House baseball team, which won the Bronx championship. Years later, Greenberg won a scholarship to New York University, but he quit after his first term to play baseball full time. Hank joined the Detroit Tigers in 1933 as a first baseman, and helped them win their first American League pennant in 25 years. The Tigers were champions again the following year, and Hank won the American League's Most Valuable Player award by a unanimous vote of the Baseball Writers Association; he won it again in 1940 after he had been switched to left field. After Hank Greenberg declined to play in an important game on Yom Kippur in 1934, Edgar Guest published a poem, the last lines of which are: "We shall miss him on the infield and shall miss him at the bat, but he's true to his religion - and I honor him for that." As the first Jewish baseball star, Hank Greenberg had to handle racial slurs from fans and opponents alike. Birdie Tebbetts, a Detroit teammate of Greenberg's for seven seasons, recalled that, "There was nobody in the history of the game who took more abuse than Greenberg, unless it was Jackie Robinson." Hank barely missed Babe Ruth's fabled record of 60 home runs, when he hit 58 in 1938. However, Greenberg did set a major league mark that year when he slammed two homers per game eleven times. At the peak of his career, in 1941, Hank Greenberg was inducted into the US Army, saying "I never asked for a deferment. I made up my mind to go when I was called." Greenberg was also the first major leaguer to reenlist in the military following the attack on Pearl Harbor. Rejoining the Tigers after his discharge on June 14, 1945, in the heat of a pennant race, Hank hit a home run in his first game back, and blasted his famous grand slam home run in the last inning of the final game of the season. The man that Joe DiMaggio called "one of the truly great hitters," was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1956. In 1999 an outstanding film biography was made about Hank. This slide show combines an interview with director, Aviva Kempner, with assorted Greenberg images

New Poll Announced: Your Favorite Current Jewish Ballplayer

With Melky's emergence as a Jewish star ballplayer I thought our next poll (defintely not a "Pole" of the anti-semitic variety) would be your favorite current Jewish ballplayer. I went to the web to get a list of these guys. Interestingly, the Seattle relief pitcher who stopped the Yanks' attempted sweep today, JJ Putz, was not on the list.

Favorite Shoe Winner Declared

With the voting enthusiasm petering out Dick Morris advises us to declare the contest over and announce a winner. It's contestant number ten with the light brown slingback heels with the cross stitch pattern. One explanation for its popularity may be due to the whimsical uplift pose of the right shoe. It's as if the shoe is telling us, "Come here big boy." Despite being currently occupied with his shilling for Republicans, Dick had time to sift through his substantial shoe fetish archives to give us some varied theories on the attraction of the female shoe:
1."Flugel (1930) described the phenomena where clothes could not only arose sexual interest but in themself symbolized the sex organs. The delicate parts of the shoe resemble to the shoe fetishist the anatomy of genitalia. The heel seems to represent the phallus and is an aspect oft favoured. The owner of the shoe is never seen as an entity from the shoe.
2. Do most men have a foot fetish? Probably not in the deviant form, but when the f-me shoes come out, something changes. F-me shoes do not tell the viewer that this girl is easy or a slut. The reveal as much as the imagination can allow, it is true, but that does not mean anyone is getting schtupped tonight. Ever see toe cleavage? Some f-me shoes have it. How tall is the heel? It can vary- sometimes a lot is too much and too much is not enough. In the vernacular, a f-me shoe is a stiletto. Black. Not always black, but usually so. This is perhaps one of the few things that you will know it when you see it. What f-me shoes do tell us males is that the girl thinks she is sexy and wants you to know it. It is sort of like a wink but more lasting. It is also a breath of sexuality and femininity carried by the lady. I imagine if you get close enough, you can smell the confidence in the air, the girlish polish that just says woman.
3. Let me propose the shoe fetish as an evolutionary adaptation. We’ll define a shoe fetish as follows: a person, usually male, can only become sexually aroused when shoes are involved in the sexual act. Mind you, I’m not an expert on the shoe fetish, so my definition may be inaccurate. But that need not stop me from doing a little evolutionary psychology here. Okay, here’s the hypothesis I pulled out of my rear. Long ago, some females began to wear primordial shoes. The newly evolved shoe-wearing gene was selected for, as females with leather booties were less likely to cut their feet and acquire a deadly infection. This prolonged lifespan set up a selective pressure to develop a shoe fetish among males. Males who became attracted to the booties would be at an advantage, as they would more likely impregnate the bootie women who in turn would be more likely to survive to take care of their sperm products.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Got Melk, The Melky Way

You've got to love this guy. He's done more for my mental health than a fistful of prozac. Although he's from the DR, with a name like Melky he's probably a yid and not a sephardim :). from the nydailynews: "Melky Cabrera began playing baseball at age 3, with a stick and a rock and a plea to anyone who visited the family's humble roadside home on Carretera Sanchez, in the village of Haina, not far from Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic."Pitch it! Pitch it," he would say, holding out a rock."He was born with a ball in his blood," says Maria Teresa Aspacio, 47, Cabrera's mother. "He loved to play ball more than anything."Cabrera wakes up in his New Jersey apartment, an upscale, low-rise building a few miles from the George Washington Bridge, and a million figurative miles from the cramped home he shared with his mother, grandmother, two older sisters and three other relatives growing up. Melky slept in a room with his mother.The apartment is in the same complex as Robinson Cano's: his fellow Dominican and closest friend on the team.Through the end of last year and right into spring training, Cabrera put special emphasis on his defense - reading balls off the bat, improving his jumps. His speed is good, but not enough to outrun balls. As recently as a few weeks ago, Joe Torre lifted him for a defensive replacement in the late innings. Now he makes stellar plays almost regularly. Cabrera's commitment to his loved ones is all over him, literally. He has the names of his mother and grandmother - Teresa and Delores - tattooed on his back, inside a baseball logo. Inside his cap are the words, "God, Teresa, Melky."Everyone seems to love Melky's name. Whoever heard of a Melky? "I wanted to name him Dario, after his godfather," his mother says. Her daughter, Ladi, came up with Melky on the way home from the hospital. A natural lefty hitter, Cabrera taught himself to switch-hit as a youngster, after a Dominican scout said to him, "You are not going to be so tall. You will make it to the big leagues faster as a switch-hitter."

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Brownsville: Do You Remember When We Used To Sing, Sha la la la

Sam Stein, my late father in laws' brother, passed away last month. He was a nice man, a proud father and grandpa and a lifelong progressive. His widow Dottie was a Brownsville girl. She tells many stories about how she and her friends were shadowed and questioned by FBI agents during the red scare of the early 50's. Here's a blurb of the book above:"This book tells the stories of the Jewish women who came of age in Brownsville, Brooklyn, in the 1940s and 1950s. Through in-depth interviews with more than forty women, Carole Bell Ford explores the choices these women made and the boundaries within which they made them, offering fresh insights into the culture and values of Jewish women in the postwar period. Not content to remain in the past, The Girls is also a story of women who live in the present, who lead fulfilling lives even as they struggle to adjust to changes in American society that conflict with their own values and that have profoundly affected the lives of their children and grandchildren. I began teaching in Ocean Hill Brownsville in 1968. Veteran (white) teachers fled the school district during the controversial strike of that time, but a Brownsville born and raised "girl," Nancy Levin Brezenoff, stayed and became my mentor. Here's a Brownsville slide show using an interview with a famous Brownsville Boy, Alfred Kazin.

This Just In: Chuck Jones Replaced By Dick Morris

Stuyvesant all-star and Energy Czar Richard Karney just informed me that Dick Morris should be my shoe advisor. In that way we keep the job "in-house." Dick, has great qualifications:"Morris attended Stuyvesant High School in New York City, where he was active on the debate team. He managed Jerrold Nadler's campaign for class president; Nadler has since gone on to represent New York in the House of Representatives. Morris graduated from Stuyvesant in 1964, then attended Columbia where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree. On August 29, 1996, Morris resigned from the Clinton campaign after reports surfaced that he had been involved in an extramarital affair with a prostitute named Sherry Rowlands. A tabloid newspaper had obtained and published a set of photographs of Morris and Rowlands on a Washington, D.C., hotel balcony. Accompanying the photo layout was Rowlands' story of the casual affair, including the revelation that Morris's favorite sexual fetish was toe-sucking . The article also revealed that Morris had allowed Rowlands to listen in on phone calls with the President, and had given her a copy of a campaign speech before it was delivered. Morris had been very casual about sharing his opinions of Bill and Hillary Clinton with Rowlands, and now some very inside personal information was available at thousands of supermarket checkouts.
PS, Richard is not a fan of any of the shoes. I think he likes those water buffalo space shoes that are moms wore. I remember my mother got hers at Brunelle's (?) in Greenwich Village

Lorillard And Company

More interesting information about the Lorillard Co. Here's an excellent website that provides the source for this photo. Here also is a slide show with additional Lorillard history I used Tuxedo Junction as a soundtrack. I have no idea if the Erskine Hawkins song has anything to do with Lorillard's town of Tuxedo

Kings In Disguise

OK, here's that uncompleted synchronicity thread with Jimmy Cagney. Kings In Disguise, by James Vance and Dan Burr, is a terrific graphic novel centering on the depression era. An Amazon review:"During the 1930s, Freddie Bloch is forced to leave his home in search for his alcoholic father. During his travels he becomes a hobo, riding trains, living in much the same way we imagine the homeless do in the 1990s. Bloch's companions make the best of their poor circumstances by convincing themselves that they live undercover, and are "kings in disguise." The story resolves in a way that both allows Freddie to grow and realistically accesses the great depression. This is a graphic novel as opposed to a prose novel, but the illustative quality (direct, understated, black and white drawings) add to the novel's power rather than diminishing its overall effect. This is accomplished in great part because Vance's dialogue sounds novelistic rather than like a movie or what one often associates with comic book writing." I got it at a great bookstore in Northampton, Mass, The Broadside Bookshop. While in Northampton you can see the great women's history of Northampton mural. My colleague at Hunter College, Shelly Shicoff was one of the artists. Here's a slide show of the opening segment of Kings In Disguise

WNEW, 1130 In New York

The WNEW post jostled my memory. When life was simple and I had time to do non-sensical things (now I have time, but life isn't simple) I wrote a letter to WNEW management giving them advice on how to save the station. "Stop playing schlock like Jerry Vale and Frankie Laine, Instead mix Ella and Frank with classic jazz like Lester Young, Oscar Peterson, etc." Here's a WNEW slide show complete with theme music.

Synchronicity #30: Lorillard, Newport, Ted Brown And Memories Of WNEW AM

One of Lorillard's top selling brands was Newport. I guess the name derived from Pierre Lorillard's estate in Newport. I was looking around for a Newport jingle to accompany a slide show about Lorillard and I found a bunch of ad videos on the prelinger site. One of them featured coincidentally Ted Brown (of Ted Brown and the Redhead fame). I started to remember (and I can picture) the radio situated in the kitchen, above the refrigerator, of 14 Monroe Street. It played WNEW all the time-Klavan and Finch, William B., Williams, Ted Brown and later Julius LaRosa. There was the Make Believe Ballroom and the Milkman Matinee. That was one thing my mother and father agreed upon, the music of that era. Maybe that's why I listened faithfully to that old fashioned style, while the whole world around me went to rock and roll, folk and later the Beatles. Uncle Hy had his radio, same station, situated in the back of his store, Hi-Mart Pants And Tailors, near his sewing machines.

Monday, July 17, 2006

A Host's History Lesson

The guy doing the John Travolta impression was the host of the wedding of the year. No, that's not his sexy goomah that he's dancing with, but his wife. In the midst of toasting the bride and groom he gave his guests (many of them from out of town) a brief history lesson of the area. He even gave a plug to David McCullough's book "1776." I was impressed. The tobacco warehouse that provided the dramatic setting for the wedding once belonged to the Lorillard Co. I did a little googling of Lorillard and turned up some interesting stuff.The Brooklyn Public Library's archive of the Brooklyn Eagle had an article about Pierre Lorillard's death in 1901 (I added pics) He was a very interesting guy. From Wikipedia:"Born in Westchester, New York, he was the son of Peter (Pierre) Lorillard (1796-1867) and Catherine Griswold. In 1760, his great-grandfather, and namesake, founded P. Lorillard and Company in New York City to process tobacco, cigars, and snuff. Today, P. Lorillard is the oldest tobacco company in the U.S. Pierre Lorillard married Emily Taylor with whom he had four children. In the early 1880's he helped make Newport, Rhode Island a yachting center with his schooner "Vesta" and a steam yacht named "Radha." He owned a summer estate in Newport called "The Breakers" which he sold to Cornelius Vanderbilt II in 1885 in order to use his newly developed estate, the Tuxedo Club, at what became known as Tuxedo Park in Orange County, New York. Lorillard had inherited 13,000 acres around Tuxedo Lake which he developed in conjunction with William Waldorf Astor and other wealthy associates into a luxury retreat. Lorillard is reported to be the person who introduced the English dinner jacket to the United States in 1886 at one of his formal parties held at the resort on Tuxedo Lake. The "new" look was given the name, tuxedo. There was also an article in the Eagle (1891) about Pierre's son

Democracy In Action

While a million people protest the presidential election in Mexico (Arise ye workers from your slumbers Arise ye criminals of want For reason in revolt now thunders and at last ends the age of cant), here at pseudo-intellectualism we herald our own brand of pseudo democracy. With Chuck Jones' help (of Marla Maples' fame) we've narrowed down the many wonderful dancing shoes on display at Joel and Deanna's wedding to 10. Check out the choices (click on the picture to enlarge) and cast your ballot in the poll on the right. In addition, the people have asked for the lyrics of Boogie Woogie Dancing Shoes, here they are:
I've been working all week saving my emotions
For Saturday night when I use my potion
To put on a face, pretty clothes
I'm dressed to kill
It's the one night a week I feel free to obey my will
A magic spell that will tie and tango
Magic shoes and a diamond spangle
I will hypnotize your mind by the way that I move
When you see a thousand stars dance around my shoes
Boogie oogie boogie woogie dancing shoes
Keep me dancing all night
Boogie oogie boogie woogie dancing shoes
Make me queen for a night
Saturday night is my night of power
When the music's playing, comes my magic hour
It's a close encounter with a force that's controlling my feet
It's a once in a lifetime feeling that returns every week

Sunday, July 16, 2006

An Ode To Joe

Having been deeply touched by Joe's help to Paul (that's Paul, minus his silk robe on the extreme left of the picture) I decided to create a tribute to a "Cup of Joe" in the form of a karaoke slide show featuring the late great Velvet Fog, Mel Torme. I was also inspired by the urge not to do anything productive around the house on this hot Sunday. There is also the further bonus rationalization that the slide show could be used as a literacy help in poetic imagery.

A Wedgewood Cup Of Joe

Yes, it's time for a Sunday cup of Joe with Joey B. Joe addresses the problems of Pseudo Baltimore Paul:
There are a lot of pseudos out there who have been brave enough to write me about their deeper inner concerns. About the trenchant issues that plague their dreams and foul up their concentration when their trying to get that last minute project completed so that kudos can be passed around. Follow me here? There’s a Paul from Baltimore who was the first to raise his hand and wait to be recognized before speaking. Actually he threw a rock through my window with a note attached. And what did the note say? It said that the only time that he and his significant other had time to sit down together for a breakfast repast was on Sunday. So first off he’s bemoaning the pace of the way we’ve come to live and I’m first off giving him credit for noticing that this is a problem. I’m thinking, Is he really a pseudo? This might be the real thing, that’s what I’m thinking at that point. Then he continues, he’s in the living/dining room laying out croissants, jam, butter, the works and his sweetie comes in and pours them both steaming cups of joe. Get the picture? Idyllic, no? Then the dirty little problem that people are living with but nobody but my brave Paul from Baltimore has the chutzpah to voice. Fast forward six minutes into their conversation and the coffee’s cooled enough so that he’s not afraid it’ll burn his precious little tongue and he’s lifting the cup to his lips. Following me here? The cup’s up to his mouth - or did I just say that? - so the cup’s up. Yeah where was I? I’m losing my place here. Oh yeah. The cup’s up to his lips and he’s taking that first satisfying sip. I’m probably wasting my time here. I should really just pick myself up and write copy for Maxwell House or Chase & Sanborn or one of those big babies. Yuban. Savarin. Even Megdallia D’Oro. Is Chock Full o’ Nuts still out there? Because I think I have a kind of a gift for this - “that first satisfying sip” - that’s really good. I’m talking about really. Follow me here? Anyway. He’s got the cup tipped and the no sooner has he once again validated how much he needs that morning pickup then he’s got those nasty brown spots on the front of his pure silk boxing robe. You know, the pink and grey trim flared robe with his name in bold black velvet stitched onto the back. That thing cost mucho dinero and now it’s got a dry cleaner’s nightmare spattered all over the front. So what? The mood is broken, that’s what. And this isn’t the first time that a thick edged coffee cup has caused ruination to an otherwise perfect morning.
This, Paul - Dave excuse me for a second I want to talk directly to my correspondent here - Paul, get yourself a thin-lipped coffee cup and you’re going to solve your problem. That nasty habit of dripping and dribbling your beverages, you’re going to expunge it with one sage purchase. And let me tell you this also, my biblical-surnamed friend, your average citizen is not going to have the cohones to step up and level with the community, as you have, about this problem of coffee stains all over the most precious of garments. But don’t think you’re alone with this. Truth be known I personally utilize a bib most mornings but please keep that under your hat, on the lowdown. Paul, thanks for writing in and let me send you out with one specific recommendation - just to get you jump started - think Wedgewood. Follow me here? Wedgewood. Dave, you’ve never told me you have such a problem but should you share it (and I, off the record, suggest you may, though I’d never have said so publicly) then you too will benefit from that one simple, friendly keyword: Wedgewood. Blue on white, bad to the bone China. See what I’m saying here? Try the starter kit is my suggestion.
Until the next,
Solving problems for a better universe,
Joey B
aka Joe B

Non-Wedding Bell Blues

Joel and Deanna got married yesterday. Joel tutors my daughter Emma and he has got to be in the Top Ten of the nicest people you ever want to meet. This also had to be the best wedding I've ever attended. It was at the Tobacco House in Dumbo-tastefully done, good people, great food, great music, great views of Knickerbocker Village. There was also a potpourri of visual shoe delights on display. I may have to enroll in the 12 step program that Marla Maples' assistant was in. click here for the slide show available for download

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Our Strong Band

Stuyvesant's most famous grad? Energy Star Czar, Richard Karney; Basketball Fixer, Jack Molinas; Customs' Gigolo, Jerry Kuperstein; Romaniote Prince, my cousin Martin Genee; Genetics Genius, Dr. Alan Lambowitz; Dr. Paul Ringel's son, housing lawyer Peter Ringel; Lucy Liu-sorry all incorrect guesses. It was an Irishman born on the LES, Jimmy Cagney. Many sources have Jimmy being born in Yorktown, but "Cagney", a biography by James McCabe has him being born at 391 East 8th Street. "It has been reported that James Cagney, Jr., was born in an apartment over his father's saloon at the corner of East Eighth Street and Avenue D, New York. This is not so. Cagney was born--on July 17, 1899--in a small apartment on the top floor of a conventional brownstone at 391 East Eighth. His father would acquire the saloon years later, and only then for a brief time. The Cagney birth certificate gives his father's occupation as telegraphist. In this apartment the Cagneys' oldest boys were born: Harry in 1898 and Jim a year later. The bartender job took the Cagneys early in 1901 uptown to Yorkville, where they found a small flat at 429 East Seventy-ninth Street near First Avenue. Here the third Cagney boy, Edward, was born in 1902, followed in 1904 by William, and in 1905 by Gracie, who lived only ten months, dying of pneumonia." More on Jimmy later in a future semi synchronicity episode. In the meantime here's a Cagney slide show

The Internationale Unites The Human Race

I was lucky to catch this late last night on wnet:"In 1871, an ex-mayor named Eugene Pottier wrote a set of lyrics that called for the working masses to throw off the shackles of their oppressors. Later, a French factory worker, Pierre Degeyter, added a new melody and "The Internationale" spread rapidly through France and then Europe. The song was translated into dozens of languages and quickly became a rallying cry for communists, anarchists, and socialists worldwide. During a number of strikes, "The Internationale" unified workers of different nationalities and diverse cultural backgrounds. The song often served for multiple causes, from labor rights to the defeat of fascism in Spain, but after becoming the official anthem of the Soviet Union in 1917, many associated "The Internationale" with communism under Joseph Stalin. Slowly, though, new versions and interpretations of the song began to appear, revitalizing its connection to radical movements worldwide. The students sang "The Internationale" in Tiananmen Square, and folksinger Billy Bragg added new lyrics in the late '80s. The Internationale mixes multiple interviews with folksinger Pete Seeger and others with rare archival film footage."
I combined a midi version of the song, the English version of the lyrics, and images from Spanish Civil War posters found on orpheus.ucsd (Visual Front) to make this karaoke slide show of the Internationale

Friday, July 14, 2006

Who's Your Daddy? Come Back Shane

Randi Rhodes was riffing today about right wingers and their sick need for father figures.
The refers to the phenomena: "Why are people giving up their rights? Why are Americans letting their government decide what they can put in their bodies, what they can do in the privacy of their homes, and whether or not they can have abortions? In my opinion this is because they need the government to act as a father figure. Because of the lack of connection with the land, what i mean is that all Americans are originally immigrants, there is a need for feelings of community. Even within homes, families are often divided by divorce. People move around the continent in search for jobs, and wherever they find themselves they start anew." Sort of what makes a guy think about one's attraction to Shane. An Amazon reviewer wrote:"I watched the movie Shane for the first time this past Friday. For a movie released in 1953, it's somewhat perverse. The American Film Institute recently judged Shane to be the 53rd most inspirational movie made in America. My reading of the film is undoubtably unorthodox, because I can't figure out quite what is inspiring about it.The movie is a fine example of Westerns made during this period. The conflict between good and evil is clearly delineated. In fact, the symbols of each category are pretty common for the Western:
There are three characters who stand outside of this dichotomy. One is Joey, the little boy. He is pre-sexual, and as such has soft "feminine" features, yet thrills to the romance of violence - although its reality frightens him. The boy combines features of both worlds, in the guise of Innocence. The other two characters who are either outside this dichotomy, or straddle it, are the gunfighters - Shane and Jack. They combine features of both worlds, in the guise of Experience. There's no question the gunfighter is masculine, for his resolves disputes with his (phallic) gun. On the other hand, he is very concerned with his appearance. He wears a fancy or elaborate costume; he has a pearl-handled pistol. His movements are deliberate, almost balletic. When Shane enters the picture, he is wearing buckskins. The movie takes place after the Civil War, and I wonder whether buckskins wouldn't be archaic. But this unique garb sets him apart from both the ranchers and the cattlemen. If the buckskins are indeed anachronistic, they mark Shane as one outside time."
All of this is a labored introduction to the fact that I digitized a portion of Jack Schaefer's novel of Shane as a slide show to be found here A portion of another review: "There are several themes arcing their way through this book. One deals with fate and how it is impossible to escape your past. Another involves violence; not reckless violence of the type employed by Fletcher and his goons, but a measured violence used to solve a seemingly insolvable situation. Schaefer shows us that no matter what our intentions in this life, there are going to be times when violence in the name of a cause is the only answer to those who are incapable of relying on any method other than intimidation to get what they want out of life. This is an excellent read for any type of reader both young and old, although that does not make it a necessarily easy book. The bare bones writing style makes it very easy to gloss over important themes and symbolisms. In other words, "Shane" is a book to think about both when reading it and after finishing the story. Reading the story more than once may not be a bad idea, as more themes are sure to emerge from this fascinating character study. Schaefer dedicated "Shane," his first book, to his first son. What a beautiful and wondrous tribute."

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Janie And Rosie

I figured I would mention Janie, aka Janie Miller, Jane Miller, Jane Monasterky. She passed away this year. In that way someone searching her name would find something. Right now googling will not mention her and she deserves a "hit." Janie once treated me to a Rosemary Clooney show at some Manhattan club. It was something I wouldn't have done for myself. There's a Rosemary Clooney show on PBS right now. She was great. Good singer, good person, good mother, good politics, and George's aunt. The only disappointment is knowing I belong to the same fan club as the dreadful Barry Manilow and Michael Feinstein. Here's a Rosie slide show

Synchronicity #29: Blackjack, Blood And Honor And Blood On The Son

Anothere really excellent historically themed graphic novel is Blackjack Blood and Honor:dward Lee, Next Planet, Jan, 2000 "I love comics/graphic novels that use genuine history as a playing field, and Blackjack: Blood and Honor is one of the best integrations of comics action and history I've seen in a long while.The story is set in the mid-1930s, when fascism was gearing up to take over the world. In this comic, we meet one guy who risks his neck to see that it doesn't. Enter Arron Day, an African-American freelance mercenary who's seen real evil in all its guises so many times, it's simply become part of the everyday scenery. He's faced racial prejudice the world over and has witnessed every conceivable example of man's inhumanity to man -- and worse, to children. Now Day, a.k.a. Blackjack, gets to take a trip to Tokyo, and it's not to sample the tempura. He's been hired as a bodyguard for a Japanese statesman called Oshio, who happens to be at odds with the current regime. Naturally the powers-that-be want Oshio pushing up bonsai trees, and they won't think twice about using Blackjack for some additional fertilizer. That's where the action begins, and it doesn't let up until the last page. Blackjack is one bad dude, but is he bad enough to take on the Japanese equivalent to the Gestapo? Don't worry, this is not simply an Indiana Jones-as-a-black-guy clich. It's a rip-stitch period-piece thriller that delves into real prewar history that ultimately affected all of our lives. Blackjack is not a superhero, he's a real hero, one of a rare few who faced some truly grim odds to do the right thing. (There's actually some serious evidence that guys like this really existed!) I like my action served up straight but with brains and relevant social issues thrown into the mix. Blackjack: Blood and Honor delivers the goods." While reading this novel the story reminded me of another CBS late night favorite of my youth "Blood On The Son." Next stop, off to halfcom to purchase a copy. Here's a Blood on the Son slide show with the audio from a 1946 radio show with John Garfield playing James Cagney's role. Here's a work in progress slide show of me narrating Blackjack: Blood and Honor

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Synchronicity #28: In The Jungle, The Mighty Jungle

I bought a really good graphic novel version of the jungle at Strands a few weeks ago. Winds up that the illustrator is Mad Magazine alum, Peter Kuper. Then on Saturday while tossing a stack of unread NY Times the Sunday Book Review slips out and there's an article about two new books on Upton Sinclair. The beginning excerpt by David Thomson: "A hundred years ago, an American writer hurled these words at the world: " 'Bubbly Creek' is an arm of the Chicago River, and forms the southern boundary of the yards; all the drainage of the square mile of packing house empties into it, so that it is really a great open sewer a hundred or two feet wide. One long arm of it is blind, and the filth stays there forever and a day. The grease and chemicals that are poured into it undergo all sorts of strange transformations, which are the cause of its name; it is constantly in motion, as if huge fish were feeding in it, or great leviathans were disporting themselves in its depths. Bubbles of carbonic acid gas will rise to the surface and burst, and make rings two or three feet wide. Here and there the grease and filth have caked solid, and the creek looks like a bed of lava; chickens walk about on it, feeding, and many times an unwary stranger has started to stroll across, and vanished temporarily." The substantive finish: "But the real thing about "The Jungle" is the way Sinclair saw the vicious link between "them" and "us," a dramatic paranoia straight from Dickens. If Sinclair were here today, I'd send him to the San Joaquin Valley, where vegetables fit for Hockney and every farmers' market are produced through dire exploitation. I'd urge him to go to Salinas, John Steinbeck's hometown, where the public libraries nearly closed recently for lack of funding and where the prospects for Hispanics who work the valley are expatriation, gang warfare, a broken back in the sun and the chemicals or . . . the American dream.
There was a period in this country, from the 30's through the 70's, in which government caring seemed to ease away some of the muck. We think of it as the Great Society, and we recall people and politicians who voiced hope for it without irony. It's clearer now that the middle class — the great force that made Dickens's England more benevolent — is in retreat. We are getting back to them and us, in a country that has earned little but shame in its foreign affairs. We are not liked, we are not trusted, we are not respected — and all those shortcomings are eroding our domestic souls. Katrina, that gust of nature, was the rehearsal for the revelation that "they" now have neither the means nor the intent of looking after us. We are on our own, and we may need to find our own Sinclairs." Here's a slide show from part of Kuper's book.Below is part of an imaginative hip hop high school report on the Jungle that I found on Google Video.

Losers Weepers And Also Sleepers

I tried entering some of the little movies I did with kids this last spring in a podcast contest. No sale. Some stiff competition, however one of the winners in the K-12 large organizational category, had this sleep inducing selection. It always amazes me how people insist on using old style methodology with new age technology. So much has been made about how great podcasting is, but a lot of it is just boring talk. You need something of substance to say. Do you catch my drift? Is it substantive?

Synchronicity #27: Frauds and Liars Redux, Classroom Inc.

As Stan Mack used to say in Real Life Funnies, "All dialogue guaranteed overheard" #1 On my way into the city early one morning for Smartboard Training I meet my neighbor who's teaching summer school at IS88K. Q: "How's it going, any interesting summer initiatives?" A: "Yeah, they're using some stupid program called Classroom Inc. What a waste." #2 Day 2 of Smartboard Training I meet an old acquiantance from the old CSD17. Q:" "Have they ever used Classroom Inc. in your district?" A:"It's crap, they try to con you with all these bogus endorsements from other teachers."

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Superman: Primary Sources

That great LES comedian Sam Zilberzweig once asked a puzzled waiter at an Elementary School Supervisor's Conference luncheon, "Say, what's your favorite sauce." When no answer was forthcoming Sam answered, "My favorite is primary sauce." Here are some primary sources to supplement the current popularity of Superman. First, some old radio clips. Here's some background on that from"Back in the days when heroes only spoke and listeners invented what they looked like, the Superman radio show debuted on February 12, 1940. The Superman radio show created at least two permanent contributions to the Superman legend; Superman's pal Jimmy Olsen and Superman's bane --Kryptonite. Everything from the sound of footsteps to Superman flying was performed by what today would be called foley artists (named for sound effects pioneer Jack Foley). While sound effects are added in post production today, they were performed live during radio's heyday.The most important sound, however, belonged to the characters. It was important to find someone who could make Clark Kent and Superman sound distinctly different.Bud Collyer, who had given Superman and Clark Kent voice in the Paramount Fleischer cartoons, was chosen to reprise the characterization for radio.When the Superman radio program originally debuted, it aired three times a week in 15 minute installments. It was a "sustained" program. That meant it had no national sponsor.However, when local advertisers discovered how profitable Superman was, Kellogg's stepped in and finally gave the Man of Steel a national sponsor. Next a slide show from the earliest Superman strip

Monday, July 10, 2006

Hey Answer Man

Maybe the answer man can explain how such wealth can exist in South Norwalk's Washington Street area next to the likes of El Amor Cafe and a great deal of poverty. They're in the money slide show

Historical Themes

There are many ways to approach the way history is taught. By following the curricular scope and sequence teachers can get often trapped into teaching eras of history instead of approaching broader themes that bridge time periods. These broader themes can also be smaller in that they can digested in "bite" sizes that are understandable to kids.
For example the book "This Is America" has several of these themes and if you can hold your nose in regard to the myth/reality discrepancies they can be helpful. Here's a slide show displaying them

Come Back Shane

Another film favorite of my dad and I was Shane. Recently, I found that the book, by Jack Schaefer, was part of many school reading lists. I always thought it was from an original screenplay. Exploring the web I found that there are sites that have entire movie scripts available. Interesting literacy possibilities! Here's what I did. I took part of the script and combined it with a portion of the movie. Using Quicktime Pro I made it into a captioned segment: Adding a Text Track to a QuickTime Movie With QuickTime Pro, you can import a text file into a QuickTime movie.To add a text track: Create a text file containing the text you want in the movie, and save the file as text only (.txt).Separate each paragraph with a Carriage Return character. Each paragraph appears in a separate frame of the movie. By default, each text frame is displayed for 2 seconds.In QuickTime Player, choose File > Open File and select the text file. You can then copy the selected text file to the highlighted portion of the movie you want by using the command “add to movie” Here's the movie clip