Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Maxine Sullivan 4: The Folks Who Live On The Hill

How fitting. This great Kern tune, with one of my all time favorite lyrics ( Hammerstein). Maxine sung it with Claude Thornhill's band over 60 years ago. It foreshadowed her own little house on the hill in the Bronx
Many men with lofty aims,
Strive for lofty goals,
Others play at smaller games,
Being simpler souls.
I am of the latter brand;
All I want to do,
Is to find a spot of land,
And live there with you.
Someday we'll build a home on a hilltop high,
You and I,
Shiny and new a cottage that two can fill.
And we'll be pleased to be called,
"The folks who live on the hill".
Someday we may be adding a thing or two,
A wing or two.
We will make changes as any fam'ly will,
But we will always be called,
"The folks who live on the hill".
Our veranda will command a view of meadows green,
The sort of view that seems to want to be seen.
And when the kids grow up and leave us,
We'll sit and look at the same old view,
Just we two.
Darby and Joan who used to be Jack and Jill,
The folks like to be called,
What they have always been called,
"The folks who live on the hill".

Maxine Sullivan 3: Her House On 818 Ritter Place

After reading this article I had to go take a picture of this piece of history
Step Into the Attic. Enter the Jazz Age.
In the spring of 2004, a tall and trim 31-year-old real estate developer and investor from Harlem named Ed Poteat received a call from a broker about a hot deal in the Morrisania section of the Bronx.
The broker was calling about a Neoclassical building on Ritter Place dating from the early 20th century that was going on sale. The house was small but attractive, its charcoal gray stucco set off by white-trimmed windows and white columns flanking the front door. Mr. Poteat crunched some numbers, dispatched an agent to survey the building and within 48 hours had agreed to buy the property for $150,000.
For Mr. Poteat and his business partners, it was a typical transaction, so much so that not until the fall did he even bother to block out a space in his busy calendar to make his first visit to the house.
When he arrived that crisp September day, Paula Morris, the seller, was on hand to give him a tour. As they strolled through the musty rooms, Mr. Poteat admired the oak paneling in the dining room, the hardwood floors and the hand-carved detailing that appeared throughout the house and gave it a cozy, rustic feel. Upstairs, Mr. Poteat marveled at the carved door frames leading to three large bedrooms.
Then Ms. Morris, a nurse who favors African prints in her dress and has a short, caramel-colored Afro, led Mr. Poteat up a narrow staircase to the attic. There, milk crate upon milk crate brimming with papers and photographs was stacked nearly to the ceiling. Perhaps sensing his bewilderment, she explained that her mother had been a famous jazz singer, and that these were her things.
Down in the dining room, Mr. Poteat noticed a poster-size photograph hanging on the wall. It was a reprint of Art Kane’s iconic 1958 image, “A Great Day in Harlem,” showing 57 legendary jazz musicians posed in front of a brownstone.
As Mr. Poteat remembers the moment, Ms. Morris pointed a finger at one of the three women in the photo and announced: “That was my mother right there. Her name was Maxine Sullivan.”
Mr. Poteat, who was a young teenager when the singer died in 1987, had never heard of Ms. Sullivan. But he knew that if she was included in the Art Kane photograph, she must have been a jazz luminary, and that her papers, even in such a messy and disorganized state, might constitute a forgotten chapter in music history.
Seventy years ago, in 1937, Ms. Sullivan left her small Pennsylvania town and first strode onto a New York stage. During the ensuing 50 years she climbed to the heights of jazz — and before Mr. Poteat lay the record of that long journey, in at least three dozen stacked milk crates.
The Unused Ticket
In interviews given before her death, Maxine Sullivan liked to tell the story of how the pint-size daughter of a barber from Homestead, a small town near Pittsburgh, achieved international acclaim as a jazz singer.
During her late teens, after winning local singing contests and performing with her uncle’s band, she landed a gig at an eight-table former speakeasy in Pittsburgh called the Benjamin Harrison Literary Club. Singing from table to table, she earned $14 a week plus tips.
One night in late 1936, a pianist named Gladys Mosier came by the club and encouraged Ms. Sullivan to try her singing where it really mattered, in New York. It took Ms. Sullivan six months to save up enough for a weekend excursion ticket, and she told no one that she was going, figuring that she’d probably be back in Pittsburgh in time for her regular engagement.
“I was innocent enough to figure that things would happen that fast,” she told the author Arnold Shaw during an interview for a 1971 book, “The Street That Never Slept.”
Ms. Sullivan never used that return ticket. On her first day auditioning in clubs along West 52nd Street, then known as Swing Street and the subject of Mr. Shaw’s book, she landed a job at the famous Onyx Club, singing for a group led by John Kirby — who eventually became the second of her four husbands. Ms. Sullivan got her big break almost immediately, and her ascent within the music industry was equally swift. In her first week in New York, she made her debut recording with the Claude Thornhill Orchestra, and it was Mr. Thornhill who, in August 1937, suggested that she do a swing rendition of the Scottish folk song “Loch Lomond.” The song catapulted Ms. Sullivan to international acclaim.
Hollywood came calling, too. The next year, Ms. Sullivan appeared in “Going Places” with Louis Armstrong and a pre-presidential Ronald Reagan, and in 1939 she was in “St. Louis Blues” with Lloyd Nolan and Dorothy Lamour. Also that year, Ms. Sullivan made it to Broadway with “Swingin’ the Dream,” a jazzman’s take on “A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream.”
By 1940, she and Mr. Kirby were performing weekly on a national radio program called “Flow Gently Sweet Rhythm.” They were among the first black jazz musicians to do so.
In the next decade, Ms. Sullivan performed at the Village Vanguard and the supper club Le Ruban Bleu, played one-night engagements with Benny Carter, and recorded with Decca and RCA Victor. She developed a reputation for being a reliable and savvy performer with an understated but charming performance style.
“Maxine had a very pure, sweet voice, and she had a nice time sense, but she wasn’t very theatrical,” said Dan Morgenstern, director of the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University, who knew Ms. Sullivan. “Maxine didn’t scat, but I think she had a jazz sensibility.
“One thing about Maxine was that her personality was very compatible with jazz musicians, because unlike some singers, she didn’t demand a lot of attention and she didn’t elbow the musicians out of the way. She looked at herself as one of them. She didn’t put on any airs.”
The Good Words Club
In 1957, however, Ms. Sullivan stepped away from the music industry, to devote herself full time to raising her daughter, then 12, and engaging in community activities. She joined the local school board and served as P.T.A. president, roles in which she was known by her birth name, Marietta Williams, though it didn’t take long for local residents to discover that the cheery woman who patrolled the school hallways and helped out in the cafeteria had been a renowned jazz singer.
“Her reputation in the performing arts is twin to her social consciousness,” said Jim Bartow, a jazz guitarist. “The vocal delivery, the smoothness, the ease, that’s the way she operated with everybody and everything.
“To have an interlude of being a mother and raising children and then coming back, and using her organizational skills in the community, which were legendary, having block parties, parties at her house — in hindsight, because you’re in it, and you just don’t know the good things that are happening — the quality that she represented was big time, big league, and rare.”
During those years, Ms. Sullivan’s home at 818 Ritter Place became the headquarters of her community organizing. She held neighborhood parties there, as well as meetings of a group she called the Good Words Club, in which she taught children vocabulary words and asked them to read poetry aloud to a rhythm.
Still, jazz remained a crucial part of her life. Her fourth husband, the stride pianist Cliff Jackson, recorded with J. C. Higginbotham and Dizzy Gillespie, and the couple were frequently surrounded by their musician friends. Sometimes, when the jazzmen jammed at the Ritter Place house, Ms. Sullivan wandered through the room to offer a brief melody or a lyric.
“Growing up, I never knew she was really something,” one former neighborhood kid, Samuel Christian, said in an interview with the Fordham University Bronx African-American History Project early last year. “She was just this lady with this wonderful house that I liked to go to. She had a house with a fireplace and even today, I can smell the space.”
Said her daughter: “She had a keen sense of getting people organized. Her main thing was to get the children involved.”
The couple also supported jazz musicians through a two-story house they owned nearby on Stebbins Avenue, which had been converted into a boardinghouse for musicians like the trombonist Vic Dickenson and the drummer Marquis Foster.
When Mr. Jackson died in 1970, Ms. Sullivan decided to open a jazz community center and museum dedicated to her late husband in the apartment on Stebbins Avenue. The grand opening for the space, which she called the House That Jazz Built, took place on July 19, 1975, with a party featuring the World’s Greatest Jazz Band and, naturally, Ms. Sullivan on vocals.
Even as her singing career was experiencing a revival — notable moments included her Tony Award nomination for her performance in “My Old Friends” on Broadway, performances with Buck Clayton and J. C. Higginbotham, and three Grammy nominations — her primary focus remained the House That Jazz Built.
Music and Milk Crates
After some extensive renovations, Mr. Poteat sold the little house on Ritter Place last summer. Knowing that it would soon be turned over to another owner, he decided last September to give it a quick walk-through.
Unlocking the padlocked door, he stepped into a dim and dusty entry hall. Suddenly, he remembered the memorabilia collection in the attic. He assumed that Ms. Morris had had them carted away to storage somewhere, but when he made his way up to the attic, there sat the mounds of crates.
He began to examine the boxes’ contents. There were notes written in Ms. Sullivan’s tidy hand, fading music manuscripts, bills addressed to Marietta Williams, press clippings detailing Ms. Sullivan’s career, old magazines, sealed manila envelopes and odd scraps of paper. Some items seemed to disintegrate as he touched them.
Though Ms. Sullivan’s career had ebbed and flowed over the years, this closer look at the crates made Mr. Poteat realize something: Ms. Sullivan had saved seemingly every item that came into her hands. The always-growing pile of memorabilia had come to include Mr. Jackson’s musical manuscripts, programs from performances, a letter filled with lyrics-in-progress from the ragtime pianist and jazz composer Eubie Blake, a get-well card from the bassist Milt Hinton, a congratulatory note from Ronald Reagan, and reels of audiotape from her radio appearances.
More digging revealed sealed envelopes, personal correspondence and notebooks filled with Ms. Sullivan’s ideas and plans. “The feeling that you’re going through someone’s diary, that’s the feeling I got,” Mr. Poteat said during an October visit to the memorabilia collection, as he leafed through some newspaper clippings.
In a gray duffel bag, he found a pile of photo negatives and slides of performances, including Art Blakey at the CafĂ© Society and Fletcher Henderson at the Cotton Club. “You’d need a jazz archivist to sit here and grab a week and sort through this stuff,” Mr. Poteat said.
With the impending sale of the house, Mr. Poteat wanted to return everything to Ms. Morris, but the only telephone number he had for her was the one for the disconnected phone in the Ritter Place house. Nor was she listed in the phone book.
“I think, at least I hope, that they took the most valuable personal pieces,” Mr. Poteat said. “Maybe it was just such a headache to move all this stuff.”
To put the items into safekeeping, Mr. Poteat called a moving company the next day and directed the workers to pack up the contents of the attic and transport them to the basement of an apartment building he owned in Central Harlem. Within hours, Ms. Sullivan’s teetering stack of memorabilia had found a temporary home in a basement on West 149th Street. Speaking from her new three-bedroom apartment on Frederick Douglass Boulevard near 148th Street, where she lives with her brother, Orville Williams, Paula Morris said that she had indeed put most of the collection in storage.
“It’s a lot,” Ms. Morris explained. “An attic full. First of all, you don’t know what it is. And what I might think is garbage, might be of interest to people. You just want to close your eyes and pretend it’s not there. I mean, it’s impossible. To go through one box, it’s overwhelming.”
As for the crates that had been left in the attic on Ritter Place, Ms. Morris said she had been “very busy” but was in the process of getting them back. In mid-January she said that she had “places in mind” to which to donate the collection and intended to call Mr. Poteat about moving it from his basement “within the next couple of months.” Mr. Poteat said, “I just want to make sure that it’s not in a trash heap somewhere — or in my basement.”
Wherever the papers ultimately end up, the episode turns out to be something of a tradition at 818 Ritter Place.
In 1980, Ms. Sullivan gave 15 hours of interviews for a project sponsored by the Rutgers Institute of Jazz Studies. It turns out that the jazz singer had bought the house, in 1945, from the musician Eddie Mallory, who was married to the singer Ethel Waters. Like Mr. Poteat after her, Ms. Sullivan was surprised to find that Mr. Mallory has accumulated a cache of music memorabilia at the house.
“I found a lot of Ethel Waters recordings here,” Ms. Sullivan told the Rutgers interviewer. “I think the very first recording she ever made was here, because I bought the house furnished. I have one of the first records she made of ‘Am I Blue.’ ”
The new owner of 818 Ritter, according to city property records, is also an entertainer, an up-and-coming comedian and actor named Godfrey Danchimah. Mr. Danchimah, 37, who has appeared in the films “Johnson Family Vacation” and “Zoolander,” moved in late last fall. If he ever sells the place, it will only be fitting if he leaves a few things behind.

Maxine Sullivan 2: the Famous Great Day In Harlem Photo

Maxine is one of 3 women in this photo. I went back to the spot to see what it looks like now. It's at 17 East 126th Street.
"A Great Day in Harlem or Harlem 1958 is a 1958 black and white group portrait of 57 jazz musicians photographed on a Harlem street. Art Kane, a freelance photographer working for Esquire magazine, took the picture at around 10 a.m. in the summer of 1958. The musicians had gathered on 126th Street, between Fifth and Madison Avenues in Harlem, New York City.
Esquire published the photo in its January 1959 issue. Jean Bach, a radio producer of New York, recounted the story behind it in her 1994 documentary film, A Great Day in Harlem. The film was nominated in 1995 for an Academy Award for Documentary Feature. The photo was also the centre of the plot for Steven Spielberg's film, The Terminal, starring Tom Hanks as Viktor Navorski, who comes to the United States in search of Benny Golson's autograph to complete his father's collection of autographs by the jazz musicians pictured in the classic 1958 photo.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Maxine Sullivan

There was a wonderful article in the Times' City section on Sunday about Maxine Sullivan. She was a great singer, greatly underappreciated and a New Yorker in her adult years. Here Maxine Sullivan sings the jazz classic Ace in the Hole in a 1958 Art Ford party backed up by pianist Roland Hanna. Trombonist Tyree Glenn and trumpetplayer Johnny Windhurst are in the background as well
youtube removed
Ace In The Hole
This town is full of guys...
Who think they're mighty wise,
Just because they know a thing or two...
You see them every day... walkin' up and down Broadway,
Telling of the wonders they can do.
There's con men and there's boosters...
Card sharks and crap-shooters,
They congregate around the Metropole,
They wear fancy ties and laces...
But where do they get their aces..
They all have got an ace..
Down in the hole!

Some of them write to the old folks for coin.. and that is their ace in the hole,
And others have friends on the old Tenderloin..
That's their old ace in the hole..

They'll tell you of trips that they're going to take..
From Florida to the North Pole...
The fact is their name would be mud..
Like a chump playing stud...
If they lost that old ace down in the hole!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Final Score: 38-36

After a sleepless Wednesday night, I dragged myself to videotape the student faculty basketball game at the Harlem Children's Zone last Thursday evening. It's tough to tape a basketball game-back and forth, zoom in at out, you have to anticipate. It was worth it. A stirring, come from behind victory, with a little help from the referees and the scorer-but the faculty didn't mind.
"Smiley" sunk two key free throws in the final minutes.

Fine And Dandy

I went to hear author Katharine Weber speak about her new book "Triangle" at the East End Temple. It was excellent, but an unexpected surprise was finding out that Katharine Weber is Kay Swift's grandaughter! Swift was an accomplished musician and composer as well as a musical historian. Many folks know her as George Gershwin's main squeeze. Here's a musical review of the event.
Kay Swift composed Fine And Dandy. The lyrics were written by her first husband, James Warburg
Please forgive this platitude
But I like your attitude
You are just the kind i've had in mind
And never could find
Honey, I'm so keen on you
I could come to lean on you
On a random bay
Give you your way
Do what you say
Gee, it's all fine and dandy
Sugar candy,
When I've got you
Then I only see the sunny side
Even trouble has its funny side
When you're gone, my sugar candy
I get so lonesome, i get so blue
But when you're handy
It's fine and dandy
But when you're gone
What can I do?

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Triangle Shirtwaist Fire 1

Ms. Rogers requested some resources on the early 20th Century Immigration and labor struggles for the 8th graders. I resuscitated my triangle shirtwaist fire archives. Lots of good stuff that I'm very proud of. Here's a tour of some of the buildings where some of the victims and survivors lived in. By coincidence one of the new middle school teachers lives right across the street from the historic site on Greene and Washington.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Shep Nachas 2

Every once in a while you experience that moment when you can step back and look at a class at work and shep nachas (Nachas generally refers to getting satisfaction or pleasure from someone or something. When you shep nachas, you take pride in something.) Pacheco's 4th graders were busy at work in pairs viewing quicktime movies either/or on Chief Seattle (coordinated with their recent museum trip) and colonial times. They had word templates that I set up with questions to answer that they were editing to place in their work folders. Not a sound was heard, no need for help-but to get to that stage.....good teachers to work with, trusting administrators, a lot of planning, a lot of procedural and organization skills to be taught, a lot of learning from the past. Absolutely no high priced consultants, no bold new plans, absolutely no teacher's college meaningless bs jargon.

Pre-Trial Hearing For Bold New Plan Obscenity Case

After the arrest, the chancellor tries to explain his rational for the junk in the box style presentation for his bold new plan. Although having some reservations, his former colleague Janet Reno is helping in his defense. The fellow on the right is the new expensive consultant for media relations.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Instructions For A Bold Common Sense Plan

So Chancellor (after spending millions on consultants and not consulting any parents, teachers and principals) how did you come up with this new bold plan?

A Bold Common Sense Plan

If you play jumble with the initials you get A BS Cocka Plan

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Tough Jew Synchronicity

When I was searching for information on the infamous Brownsville candy store I stumbled across a reference to the West Wing.
Evidently the character of Toby Ziegler (played by Richard Schiff) came from Brooklyn (Brighton Beach) and his father Izzy Ziegler (played by Jerry Adler) was a former hit man for Murder Inc. Jerry Adler is also known for playing Hesh on the Sopranos. Winds up he was born in Brookjlyn in 1929 on Myrtle Avenue. I found his census listing (mistakenly done so as Jewine Adler). Maybe Jerry ran across some of these tough guys. He had an older sister (22) in 1930 named Polly! Wow could she have been the Polly Adler, the famous madam friend of Dutch Schultz (another Tough Jew, Arthur Flegenheimer). Don't think so. That Polly was born in 1900 and would have been 30 in 1930. She was born in Poland. Jerry's family was born in Austria. What would Polly Adler be living at home, she was fabulously wealthy. Unless it was a cover? Anyway, in the collage above she is pictured below Jerry Adler. Back to Richard Schiff (Toby). He was born in Colorado and came east to go to City College. After struggling as a director he got his break in acting. Now he's married to the beautiful Sheila Kelly, of LA law fame, who is known for her striptease workout. I'd say Richard is one lucky (Jewish) guy. He is also the next door neighbor in Los Angeles of my wife's cousin Ken Jaffe. the last time we were out there I heard richard and his sons playing basketball in their backyard. I try to peak through the cracks in the fnece, but was restrained.
Here's some references to an episode (from 2002) in which the candy store is mentioned
The West Wing Episode Guide discovered a great link on "Murder, Inc." and the candy store in Brownsville: "Blame it on all on Brownsville, Brooklyn" -Murder Incorporated.
Toby was born December 23, 1954. His childhood and family details are not fully known; he was from a lower-class background, and grew up in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, New York City. His father, Jules Ziegler, who, according to one episode, "needed the G.I. Bill," probably fought in World War II or the Korean War, but went on to work for Murder Incorporated and later served time in prison, complicating their relationship somewhat (note: the episode "Holy Night" suggests that "Julie" Ziegler was still involved with Murder, Inc. at the time of Toby's birth - however, in reality, Murder, Inc. had largely disappeared by the end of the 1940s).
"In Brownsville, Brooklyn, at the corner of Livonia and Saratoga Avenues, stood a small twenty-four hour candy store named Midnight Rose's. This wasn't any ordinary candy store. It housed some of the most lethal for-hire contract killers, consisting mainly of Jews and Italians, that this country has ever known. These men, dubiously named Murder Incorporated by the press, carried out over eight hundred contract murders while sharing egg creams and betting on Dodger games at Ebbets Field. . .
"The location was ideal. The candy store was located under the elevated train that brought many people too and from Manhattan. There were always kids around from the local rows of attached houses, which provided security in its own way. A street lamp gave enough light for people to see where they were going, and a small window that faced each side of the street, was perfect for a lookout. Albert 'the Mad Hatter Anastasia, long time friend of Luciano, along with Garment District king pin Louis 'Lepke' Buchalter were perfect choices for the leadership of Murder Inc. Since it was a separate entity, Murder Inc. supplied its members with lawyers when they needed one and bought their own police protection and politicians. . . .
"Murder Inc. had strict rules. Luciano and Lansky did not want policemen, judges or district attorneys rubbed out for fear of reprisal against the Syndicate. They felt that any politicians or police personnel that were on the payroll would quickly turn against them. This was an important rule that was carried down from previous generations of Mafiosi."
Toby O'Brien wrote us:
"During the episode 'Holy Night', Toby said the following to his father:
"Toby: 'I know about the candy store in Brownsville. I know about Louie Amberg. I know about The Half Moon Hotel. A sixth-story window in Coney Island.'
"This had to be a reference to the shady death of Abe 'Kid Twist' Reles, who was portrayed in the movie 'Murder, Inc.' by Peter Falk. (Who got an Oscar nomination for it).

Tough Jew Redux 2

Another part of my Brownsville trip was to photograph the sight of Midnight Rose's Candy Store on Saratoga and Livonia. I had read about it in the graphic novel "Brownsville" above. From famed novelist's Warren Adler's biography: "Pitkin Avenue, the great white way of Brownsville, was as crowded as Broadway. In front of Hoffman's cafeteria, men argued into the night about the joys of socialism and die heartlessness of the bosses. Social ferment was everywhere. Candy stores were everywhere, along with delicatessens and Chinese restaurants. Young men hung out with their buddies in front of the corner candy store. The candy store on Saratoga and Livonia, owned by a shadowy woman dubbed 'Midnight Rose Gold," was the headquarters of Murder, Inc., that band of Jewish gangsters who serviced the Mob's killing machine. Pay phones in the back of the store were used to assign hit men to their jobs. But in the vicinity of Saratoga and Livonia no one considered street crime a problem." From Amazon's review of "Brownsville": "A beautifully moody evocation of a bygone Brooklyn inhabited by Jewish gangsters, Brownsville follows the career of some of the biggest names in the hoodlum business. The authors trace the way in which a young boy might be seduced by the wrong side through relating the story of Allie Tannenbaum, who first meets the wiseguys on the grounds of his own father's place in the Catskills. Later, the action moves to the Lower East Side, where Allie is an older man, well ensconced in the shadow world of the men who make up Murder Inc.: Louis Lepke Buchalter, Abe Reles, the Shapiro brothers, Dutch Schultz—all wind through this tale of 1930s corruption. Tires are slashed, guns are hidden in toilet tanks, rapes and murders and retaliatory hits are carried out. One difficulty is that there are few sympathetic characters, other than Allie's somewhat bewildered father, who doesn't love his son's choice of career. At times, the story's convolutions can be tough to follow; along with the various shifting loyalties, Allen's lush black ink, while atmospheric, can make different characters look confusingly similar. Nonetheless, the work is a fine addition to the archive of Brooklyn's once outlaw world. From School Library Journal

I thought if I ever taught depression era history to a Brownsville group this could be an engaging piece. If you have seen ATL, note the protagonist's salvation is as a "Boondock" style cartoonist. Here's another review and I agree with both in regard to the hard to follow plot line.
Grade 9 Up–Set in Brooklyn during the height of Prohibition, this atmospheric novel focuses on the infamous Jewish gangsters known as Murder, Inc.: Louis Lepke Buchalter, Abe Reles, Dutch Schultz, and the Shapiro brothers. It's a tale of power, murder, and corruption as seen through the eyes of Allie Tannenbaum, beginning in the 1920s when he is still a teenager and continuing through the mid-1950s. This coming-of-age story provides readers with a powerful glimpse into the brutal and violent world of the Mafia, a world with few sympathetic characters. Allen's heavily shadowed, black-and-white illustrations are effective in creating a film-noir-style atmosphere, but his depiction of individual characters often lacks distinction. This problem, combined with a convoluted subplot about the shifting loyalties among the bad guys, often makes this story hard to follow. Still, it will appeal to fans of crime fiction and Prohibition-era history buffs and is a good choice for large collections.–Philip Charles Crawford, Essex High School, Essex Junction, VT
Here's the scene. The current 779 Saratoga is in the lower left panel of the collage

Jerry Stiller: 1930

I was in Brownsville, East New York today. Part of my mission was to photograph Jerry Stiller's home in 1930. I had hope because Google Maps clued me that a lone house was still on the site, not part of the renewal that much of the area has undergone via Nehemiah type construction. That's it and it looks like a house (despite the brick re-facing) built prior to 1930. If anyone knows Jerry (or Ben) would you tell him.

Neigborhood Explorations

Haven't spoken much about my neighborhood project with the first graders. I decided to use a forgotten method I once hit upon. Why not take some video of the neighborhood, delete the sound, and then have the kids add their own narration. You can do that very simply with quicktime pro.

I should add this to my "who am I kidding" tech tips

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Children's Museum Of The American Indian

This goes into the category of "You can live in New York your whole life and still discover amazing places you have never seen." I went along with the fourth graders to this museum on Monday and was really pleasantly surprised. It seems like these two guys, Norman and Tommy, run this tried and true program on a shoestring-yet it really connects with the kids. No fancy multimedia and laser lights, just two guys who know how to talk and relate to children. This is from their site:
"A special interactive program based on audience participation has been developed for school groups visiting the Museum.  The program reinforces the social studies curriculum of the schools and makes learning about the American Indian an exciting educational experience. Each year the Children's Museum emphasizes a different geographic area of Native American culture.  Past programs have included shows on the Eskimo as well as the Eastern Woodland, Southwest, and Plains Indians.  This year's program is about the Indians of the Northwest Coast and is presented in three parts: an artifact demonstration, a puppet show, and an Indian workshop." Norm reminded me a little of John Nagy who used to do a television show on how to draw about 100 years ago. I liked his politics as well.
PS. While there I noticed a nice group of 4th graders and teachers from Brooklyn. (BTW, Pacheco's and Rizzo's 4th graders rock too).
Enquiring minds like to know, so I asked where they were from. They were from PS 13 in Region 5. Synchronicity! I asked, "So is Kathleen Cashin as good as the Times' article stated, or is that just a lot of hype. "No, she's great and very down to earth. She's often in our school"
Now mind you, I've been in Region's 9 and 10 for the last 3 years in several schools. I've seen a Regional Superintendent once and that was only because my principal at the time hounded him into coming to see our school's learning fair. A neighborhood friend of mine spotted that same superintendent at a gym at 9:00 AM on a school day. Working out hard for that $175,000. Maybe he was recruiting.
Here's a slide show of part of the going's on at the museum.The soundtrack comes from the cute puppet show that was done

Monday, January 22, 2007

Belichick Loses Playing The Empowerment Zone Defense

Not known publicly, but Bill, known for his autocratic manner, had been a guest lecturer at the Principal's Leadership Institute. While there he was introduced to the highly touted empowerment zone defense. From Wikipedia: "In addition, Belichick is sometimes criticized for his demeanor towards the media and towards opposing team’s coaches. In the Patriots’ previous two 2006 regular season matchups against the New York Jets, Belichick gave Jets’ head coach Eric Mangini the "no-look handshake" . On January 7, 2007, when the two teams met again in the playoffs, Belichick decided to exchange a congratulatory hug with Mangini, but in the process pushed a photographer out of the way. [5].
San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson called out Belichick after his Patriots defeated the Chargers in a 2007 AFC divisional playoff game and celebrated on the field after kicker Nate Kaeding missed a 54-yard field goal attempt that would've tied the game as time ran down in regulation. "I would never react in that way. I was very upset," Tomlinson said. "When you go to the middle of our field and start doing the dance Shawne Merriman is known for, that is disrespectful. They showed no class and maybe that comes from the head coach[
On July 20, 2006, a New Jersey construction worker accused his wife in divorce proceedings of having a four-year affair with Belichick. Belichick met Sharon Shenocca, a former receptionist for the New York Giants, while the defensive coordinator of that team[7]; the plaintiff later amended his complaint to include adultery among the grounds for divorce."

Saturday, January 20, 2007

If Dreams Come True 3: Arrests Come After One Too Many Bold Moves

Dateline: Hopefully the near future. After constant reshuffling and repackaging ("junk in a box"), the city's educational programs were finally revealed to be nothing more than bold moves of lewdness and obscenity. Arrests were made this afternoon at Tweed.
"The teachers’ union instantly bridled at Mr. Bloomberg’s comments about tenure. There has been rising anger in the principal corps over the lack of a pay raise for principals and assistant principals since their last contract expired in 2003, even as Mr. Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein repeatedly stress that their success hinges on giving principals more power and responsibility.
And the mayor’s plans also threatened to incite rebellion among parents, particularly in relatively wealthy areas in Manhattan and Queens and on Staten Island, where the changes to the city’s decades-old school budget system may be felt hardest.
Such groups have often felt shut out by the administration and expressed doubts about the changes to the bureaucracy. “The notion that this was all part of the plan all along is nonsense,” said Tim Johnson, the chairman of the Chancellor’s Parent Advisory Council, a citywide group. “It’s constant correction with no acknowledgment of error whatsoever.”
There was also uncertainty among many of the private nonprofit groups already helping to run dozens of city public schools over the contract terms under which the Education Department plans to expand their role. The chancellor’s office has yet to release any details.
Mr. Klein defended the need for vast change to the school system. “How can we be anything but bold,” the chancellor asked, “when 140,000 of our children between the ages of 16 and 20 years old have either dropped out or are on the verge of dropping out?”

Junk In A Box

The mayor and the chancellor presented yet another reorganization plan this week. No matter how they gift wrapped it, all they did was put their "junk in a box"
Our admired colleague at ednotesonline.blogspot actually has press credentials and got to sit in a follow up press conference at Tweed. He was able to provide a great photo of the dreaming of future glories Chris Cerf and the dreamer of past glories Andres Alonso.

Some quotes from the post:
After the news conference was over, one of the minions in the peanut galary who was sitting opposite me and looked to be dozing for most of the conference came over to us. "I'm Christopher Cerf," he said to Sol (I immediately held up a cross to ward off the evil privatizer.)
Update to this post on Jan. 19:
I wrote the comment about Cerf dreaming about Edison taking over the schools and the next day we get this from the Jan. 19 Daily News that "surprise, surprise",
"The world's largest for-profit school operator yesterday expressed interest in being a part of the massive school reforms laid out this week.
While Chancellor Joel Klein pitched his sweeping school overhaul to business leaders and educators yesterday, he said that he expected mainly universities and nonprofits to apply for the private contracts available under the reforms.
He acknowledged, though, that legally he can't exclude for-profits, adding that, "I don't expect the for-profits will apply, but that's up to them."
But Edison Schools - the controversial for-profit group that attempted to takeover five failing city schools in 2001 - would "certainly be interested" in reviewing opportunities and seeing "whether it would be a good fit," company spokeswoman Laura Eshbaugh said yesterday."

Thursday, January 18, 2007


I must have played this song (from Dreamgirls) about 25-30 times on the way to Rhode Island during the Christmas break. I had
the idea that the lyrics could be utilized to give meaning to the struggles of different indigenous groups through history. I kept trying to come up with a systematic way to harvest images to provide a graphic background for it. I also thought I would audition it as a possible graduation song-maybe inspire some of the kids to come up with their own ideas for a collaborative multimedia piece. After lots of frustration in searching.... then it came to me.. I remembered buying from the Northland Poster Collective Site! sells great people's history posters (and stickers) and they are very reasonably priced.
I used their samples. Here's the result and I youtubed it. It's not perfect, but there's even a limit to my obssesiveness.
youtube deleted-replaced 12/31/07

Shep Nachas

Nachas generally refers to getting satisfaction or pleasure from someone or something. When you shep nachas, you take pride in something.
Example: Two elderly men are sitting on a park bench. One says to the other, "My daughter has been married five times: to a doctor, a lawyer, an engineer, a plumber and a professor." The second one nods and replies, "Oy. So much nachas from one girl!"
I missed last Wednesday with Melissa's first graders. Little did I know they had planned a surprise birthday party for me. I got these great cards this week. Best present I could have gotten.
Best "huchmas"
Mr. David
You don't know me because Im new and Im a nice boy. Happy birthday
Mr. David
Thak you for cumeing to the rocks star class and Happy Brtday to
I love you you are rilly nice and yore cusin is nice to
here's a slide show with the cards

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Keeping It Real

I so look forward to the day of judgement for the arrogant SOBs who fostered this on the kids and teachers of our city. There are times I question my common sense when so many just blindly drink the Kool-Aid, but then I read this and take heart that I'm not nuts: from a nyc teacher at"Workshop Model Vs. Creativity — Creativity Loses!
Filed under: New Teachers, New Teacher Diaries — Mnhttngrd4 @ 2:31 pm
Before I was assigned to what would be my new permanent New York City school, I interviewed with a principal who asked me if I knew how to teach the workshop model. What I heard was, “Do you know how to teach using writer’s workshop?”
I assumed that we were talking about the same thing. I have taught reading and writing through student differentiating and writer’s workshop style in my past teaching experience.
I came to find out shortly thereafter through a formal observation of my fourth grade class that I had no idea what the workshop model was and that everything I had learned about teaching prior was to be completely disregarded. I was now to conform to a method of teaching that involved performing like an actor reading from a script and only that script. I was to have every subject every day start with, “Yesterday we learned… and today we will learn… This is our objective.” Objective? Do students of nine years of age even know what the term objective means? This was to be then followed by a ten-minute “mini lesson”, a five- minute “turn and talk,” a two-minute “share,” and a 25-minute “independent work time.” Rinse and repeat as needed.
I’m not trying to bash the workshop model. I’m sure it would be a success given students with some prior knowledge of the subject being taught and without all the problematic behavior issues. When I’m spending 20 minutes per lesson breaking up arguments, reasoning to stay seated, and reiterating to raise their hands, and doing so by yelling because they cannot hear me otherwise, I have very little time left to actually teach academics, let alone a seriously structured lesson on the Revolutionary War workshop model style.
Another problem I come across through the workshop model is the curriculum. For reading and writing, there is nothing more than photocopied scripts of repetitive topics such as Schema and Determining Importance. It is contaminated with lackluster vocabulary without any practices, activities or ideas. Not only is the curriculum so dry, it does not make sense to teach the idea of Questioning Our Reading continuously over a 30-day period with no books.
I can only assume that while I teach, the students are supposed to take notes, basically copy what I write on to the chart paper, because they have no reference books to refer back to when they need them. Their notes are the only formal resource they have access to. I can only imagine where I would be today without having been subjected to the content-rich material through formal-written English that I was given.
My school does not have any materials to teach with; gone are the days of colorful print-rich textbooks. I was told that good teachers do not teach with a text and that I was to spend my outside time searching and creating my own printed information for students to read and learn from. Unfortunately, the adult-friendly information via the Internet does not compare to kid-friendly textbooks with pictures and activities. Needless to say, most of my students are reading one to two grade levels below the fourth grade. Hum, I wonder why?
It has been an enormous struggle to try to teach my students how to read and write without any use of my past language arts projects, science experiments, terminology, creativity and enthusiasm from my collaborative training outside of New York City. I can only hope that one day I will be able to teach creatively with the material that our children of tomorrow need and deserve."

Beware Brother Beware

I don't know why I thought there wasn't Jordan stuff on youtube. This is one of his best and sound advice as well.
This could also be the title for the Mayor's new plan for education in NYC. Give the teachers and principals a ridiculous model to follow and irrelevant professional development then make them scapegoats when it fails. Substitute "managers" for girls in Jordan's song and it's updated to 2007
Hey, fellas, yes, you, fellas, listen to me, i got something to tell you
And i want you to listen to every word and govern yourselves accordingly
Now, you see these girls with these fine diamonds, fine furs and fine clothes
Well, they're looking for a husband and you're listening to a man who knows
They ain't foolin', and if you fool around with them
You're gonna get yourself in a schoolin'
Listen, if she saves you dough, and won't go to the show
If she's easy to kiss and won't resist
And if you go for a walk, and she listens while you talk
She's tryin' to hook you
And nobody's lookin' and she asks you to taste her cookin'
Don't do it, don't do it
And if you go to a show and she wants to sit in the back row
Bring her down front, bring her right down front
If you wanna go for a snack, and she wants to sit in the booth in the back
And listen, if she's used to caviar and fine silk
When you go out with her she wanna a hot dog and a malted milk
She's trying to get you
If you're used to goin' to carnegie hall, but when you take her out night clubing
All she wants is one meatball
You better take it easy
If she grabs your hand and says, "darling, you're such a nice man"
Beware, i'm telling you
(should i tell them no more?)
(tell them everything)
You better listen to me 'cause i'm telling you what's being put down
You better pick up on it
If her sister calls your brother, you better get further
I'm telling you, you better watch it
And if she's acting kind of wild, and she says, "darling, give me a trial"
Don't you do it, don't be weak, don't give it to her
And if she smiles in your face and just melts into place
Let her melt, forget it, let her melt
(should i tell them no more?)
(tell them everything)
Now listen, if she calls you up on the phone, and says,
"darling, are you all alone?"
Tell her, "no, no, i've got two, three women with me"
Don't pay no attention to women
Stand up for your right, be a man, be a man
(are you listening?)
If you turn out the lights and she don't fight
That's the end, it's too late
She's got you hooked, you might as well stick with her
(should i tell them no more?)
If you get home about two and don't know what to do
You pull back the curtains, and the whole family's looking at you
Get your business straight
Set the date, don't be late
Brother, beware, beware, beware
Brother, you better beware

If Dreams Come True 2

Joel Klein teaches middle school special ed (18 kids)
Chris Cerf is his one on one para
Randi weingarten does running records and dibels testing.
Andres Alonso is in charge of the 7-8th grade lunch. It's a double period and rain is expected for the next 25 days
If dreams come true
I'll be with you
I love that smile in your eyes
You see a dream in the skies
In your caress there is happiness
And love in view
If dreams come true
by: Edgar Sampson / Benny Goodman / Irving Mills

Reet, Petite And Gone

I found a Louis Jordan film that was in public domain and converted a portion of it for youtube. Those ladies are fine, but they need lessons from the Dreamgirls.

I found a girl who beat's them all
she isn't too short and she isn't too tall
she's in the groove and right on the ball
she's reet, petite and gone.
What a babe, she's the tops
when we go out they don't need no traffic cops
one look at her and traffic stops
she's reet, petite and gone.
I could have my pick you know
'coz i got dough ready to go
this chick's so mighty fine
she's got me all tied up like a ball of twine
when I do things I do 'em right
I'll never let her out of my sight
we'll tie the knot and tie it tight
she's reet petite and gone.
That chick has changed my attitude
whenever i gaze on her poultritude
I'm telling ya Jack, she's mighty fine
got me all tied up like a ball of twine
those other chicks leave me cold
you can't compare brass with 14 carat gold
after they made her they broke the mould
she's reet, petite and gone.
She's reet, petite, neat, so sweet
Reet, petite, neat, sweet and gone.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

If Dreams Come True-with Web 2.0, Number 6 Done

This was number 6 in my top 16 suggestions: 6. Taking a map of New York City and image map the work of students all across the city to show the wealth, vibrancy and variety of life. e.g's: Harlem Live and Tom Beller's Neighborhood." Looks like this is very do-able and we don't need the DOE to do it for us. I hit upon Wikimapia. Here's what you can do with it, from Matt's Wikimapia Blog: " User additions: There is where Wikimapia shines (as it is a Wiki). Wikimapia allows all users to add and edit place locations by “Adding a New Place” which is then reviewed by other users. This is the backbone of “Describing the Entire World.” Google Earth also has a very large user base that can add place marker and descriptors. The disadvantage to Google Earth is that because it is computer based, it must open up a web browser that will then allow the user to put in information (the advantage that Google Earth has here is that the infmoration web page allows for a forum type atmosphere [that Wikimapia is also touching upon with the addition of “commenting”]). The way Google Earth displays the added information can also end up looking very cluttered (images below give good example of this). Advantage: Wikimapia. […]

well, I added Knickerbocker Village to the map (in the yellow square). What's needed is 2 other registered wiki users to confirm the validity of my addition. Imagine, teachers could add the work of their students (wth proper permission), even links to multimedia files, etc. You can even link a youtube video. More on this

Monday, January 15, 2007

What You Know About That?

Any shortfalls in the education capital spending plan could be plugged by Klein/Bloomberg/Weingarten performing this at a charity event. BTW ATL is a really good feel good movie

from Wikipedia:
"What You Know" is a hip-hop song by Southern rap artist T.I., and the second single from his 2006 album King. The song has also been used in promotion of the film ATL, in which T.I. stars. It has garnered a 5-star rating from Pitchfork Media.[1] The song is peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100, and it also topped the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart. It utilizes a sample of Roberta Flack's version of The Impressions's "Gone Away"[2]. The track "What You Know" was rumored to be a diss song directed at fellow Dirty South rapper Lil' Flip. According to the last verse when he says "You say you want to squash it, what you still talkin' shit for" and "Video or not, dawg, I'll bust until the glock stop" referring to the videotape that T.I. supposedly has of a fight between him and Flip. The song is produced by DJ Toomp from Zone Boy Productions and Wonder. The drums were done by DJ Toomp while the actual music composition was done by Wonder. Wonder apparently tried to sample the Roberta Flack song, Gone Away, but decided to do a replay instead.
"What You Know" was performed at the 2006 MTV Video Music Awards, where its music video was nominated for two awards."

What you know about that?
What you know about that?
What you know about that?
don’t you know I got
key by the three when I chirp shawty chirp back
Louis now sack
where I hold'n all tha work at

What you know about that?
What you know about that?
What you know about that?
I know all about that

Loaded 44s on the low where the cheese at
Fresh off the jet to the Jects where the G’s at

What you know about that?
What you know about that?
Hey what you know about that?
Hey I know all about that

See me in ya city sittin pretty kno I'm shining dawg
Ridin wid a couple Latin brawds and a china doll
And you kno how we ball,
Ridin in shiny cars.
Walk in designer malls,
Buy everything we saw,
You know about me dogg,
Don’t talk about me dogg,
And if you doubt me dogg,
You better out me dogg,
I'm throwed off slightly bruh,
Don’t wanna fight me bruh,
I'm fast as lightning bruh ya better use ya Nike’s bro,
Know you don’t like me cuz,
Yo bitch most likely does,
She see me on them dubs,
In front of every club,
I be on dro I’m buzzed,
Give every ho a hug,
Niggaz don’t show me mugs,
Cause you don’t know me cuz,

don’t you know I got,
key by the three when I chirp shawty chirp back,
Louis now sack,
where I hold'n all tha work at,

What you know about that?
What you know about that?
What you know about that?
I know all about that

Loaded 44s on the low where the cheese at,
Fresh off the jet to the Jects where the G’s at,

What you know about that?
What you know about that?
Hey what you know about that?
Hey I know all about that,

Candy on the '64,
Leather guts and fish bowl,
50 on the pinky ring just to make my fist glow,
Ya bitches get low,
Because I get dough,
So what? I'm rich ho,
I still pull a-kick-do' (kick ya door down)
What you talking shit fo?
I gotta run and hit fo?
Got you a yellin and I thought you pulled out a gun hit fo,
But you’s a scary dude,
Believed by very few,
Just keep it very cool,
Or we will bury you,
See all that attitude’s, unnecessary dude,
Cause you never Carry Tools not even sweary qs,
You got these people fooled, who see you on the tube,
Whatever you try to prove, they’ll see you on the news,

don’t you know I got,
key by the three when I chirp shawty chirp back,
Louis now sack,
where I hold'n all tha work at,

What you know about that?
What you know about that?
What you know about that?
I know all about that

Loaded 44s on the low where the cheese at,
Fresh off the jet to the Jects where the G’s at,

What you know about that?
What you know about that?
Hey what you know about that?
Hey I know all about that

Fresh off the jet to the block,
Burn a rubber with a top-pop,
I’ll pop and bust a shot and tell em stop and make the block hot,
Ya label got got,
Cuz you are not hot,
I got the top spot,
And it will not stop,
A video or not that will bust it to the glock stop,
Drag ya out that Bentley Coupe and take it to the chop shop,
Partner, we not ya'll,
If it may pop off,
I’ll answer the question “Will I get ya block knocked off?”,
And what it is bruh,
Look I will kill, bruh
I’m in your hood, if you a gangsta what you hid for?
Somebody better get bruh for he get sent for,
You say you wanna squash it what you still talkin shit for?

don’t you know I got,
key by the three when I chirp shawty chirp back,
Louis now sack,
where I hold'n all tha work at,

What you know about that?
What you know about that?
What you know about that?
I know all about that

Loaded 44s on the low where the cheese at,
Fresh off the jet to the Jects where the G’s at,

What you know about that?
What you know about that?
Hey what you know about that?
Hey I know all about that.

Jack, You're Dead

Nothing of any real worth on youtube or multimedia-wise elsewhere for Louis Jordan. I had to make my own karaoke iMovie and then convert it. A time consuming, tedious job, but procastination is preferred to dealing with other things. I'm proud of the results. Great slanguage possibilities. Jordan's link to Harlem? His first real gig (1938) was at the Elk's Rendezvous Club on 484 Lenox Ave. He named his group the "Elk's Rendezvous Five." Later it was changed to his famed "Tympany Five."

Saturday Night Fish Fry (on Monday Night at 1:30AM)

I had to go upstate yesterday and I forgot to bring along my favorite CD and track of the moment, Joey Defrancesco's version of Anthony Newley's, "Once In a Lifetime." It has an incredible arrangement with Joey backed by a great European Jazz Band. So I reach into my CD stash and come up with my Calloway CD and bingo. Talk about slanguage and Harlem history-Calloway was the man. I have a pdf file of many of his songs' that I can print out (at home-there's an ink crisis at school) for Mo's kids. I'll burn them CD's as well. In September I had a youtube of Calloway's Jumping Jive with the Nicholas brother. I'm too lazy to relink it, just do a search for Calloway. The other guy I should have thought of for the poetry, rap, slanguage connection was Louis Jordan. From wikipedia on Louis:
"Jordan's raucous recordings were also notable for their use of fantastical narrative. This is perhaps best exemplified on the freewheeling party adventure "Saturday Night Fish Fry", the two-part 1950 hit that was split across both sides of a 78. It is arguably one of the earliest American recordings to include all the basic elements of the classic rock'n'roll genre (obviously exerting a direct influence on the subsequent work of Bill Haley) and it is certainly one of the first songs in popular music to use the word "rocking" in the chorus and to prominently feature a distorted electric guitar. [2]
Its distinctive comical adventure narrative is strikingly similar to the style later used by Bob Dylan in his classic "story" songs like "Bob Dylan's 115th Dream" and "Tombstone Blues". "Saturday Night Fish Fry" is also notable for the fact that it dispenses with the customary instrumental chorus introduction, but its most prominent feature is Jordan's rapid-fire, semi-spoken vocal. His delivery, clearly influenced by his experience as a saxophone soloist, de-emphasises the vocal melody in favour of highly syncopated phrasing and the percussive effects of alliteration and assonance, and it is arguably one of the earliest examples in American popular music of the vocal stylings that eventually evolved into rap."
If you ever been down to New Orleans
then you can understand just what I mean,
all through the week it's as quiet as a mouse
but on a saturday night they go from house to house
you don't have to pay the usual admission
if you're a cook, a waiter or a good musician
so if you happen to to be just passin' by
stop in at the saturday night fish fry.
it was rockin'
Sing it fellas
it was rockin'
See they know what I'm talkin' about
You never seen such scufflin' and a shufflin'
'til the break of dawn.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

A Reason To Be A Mets' Fan?

I've discovered a relatively new education blog and whoever the mystery writer of the blog is (he/she) I suspect, judging by the sites' title, is a Mets' fan. It would take a lot to change a lifetime of NYYankee allegiance, but... I've included the blog on my favorites list. Here's a recent posting from that blog. The pic is mostly my handiwork and I suspect Inspector Clousseau will report that.
The Clinton Legacy: What Joel Learned from Bill
January 12th, 2007
The Joel Klein bio refers in glowing terms to his years in the Clinton Office of the Attorney General. The most recent addition to Tweed, Chris Cerf was a colleague of Klein during the Clinton era.
I remember Bill staring at the TV cameras averring, “I never had sexual relations with that woman.” 
The NYTimes  quotes Klein: “…as long as I am the Chancellor of the public school system … the New York public schools will remain public schools.”
Of course back in October Tweed explained it’s plan to “privatize” schools through the creation of educational management organizations that would “manage” clusters of schools under performance contracts. In December the New York State legislature was called back into a lame duck session. If legislators wanted a raise (that would impact on the newly elected legislators - 98% of the legislature was reelected) they had to raise the cap on charter schools  from the current fifty to three hundred. And, the Chancellor would have the power to move any school from public to charter without the approval of staff or the parents in the school.
Low and behold, in the democratic caucus the Klein plan was trashed, legislators gave up a raise to defend public education
Chris Cerf, the former CEO of Edison Schools, a private educational management organization (they “manage” public schools under performance contracts) moves from highly paid consultant to highly paid deputy chancellor.
The NYSun reports on the struggling schools that moved to empowerment status. The Department wiped away the support structure and failed to create a successor. A school has a problem, a question, a crisis, send an email. When principals demurred: they wanted real people on the other end of a phone line who had answers, the initial response was: if schools chose to use the phone rather than email they would be “charged” a fee for each call. Don’t worry: Joel says, “I believe the impact of the empowerment initiative has been very, very powerful.” What does powerful mean? Is powerful positive? Is the inability to get answers to questions powerful? Is the lack of oversight powerful?
It really is unfortunate: the “philosophers” behind the deconstruction of public schools have been busy constructing our new policy in Iraq … and poor Joel has had to fall back on his Clinton lessons.
Not to fear, Klein says, “I will not contract out the management.”
Did you ever hear of that guy named Pinocchio?

A Good Reason To Root For The Chargers

Tom Brady Republican

PowerPoint Vs. Keynote And Dr. King's Birthday

video removed by youtube
Boy do I hate PowerPoint, especially when it comes to embedding media which I like to do. I remembered that years ago I had started to make a PPoint with the great King song from "Boycott" which was written by Hobbs and Clark. I had invested a lot of work into it, since I had to hand transcribe the lyrics because I couldn't find them online. What I like to do is create a PP template that already has the song, the timing and the lyrics embedded. I then hand it over to the kids so they can put in their own images and supplementary text. By doing it this way you can provide for a more successful learning experience and avoid hearing those blankety blank typewriter transitions. Later on you can back-track and teach all the other PPoint bells and whistles. I brought up my unfinished project for the 6th graders on the screen (hopefully later in the year we could do this as a class or independently with the laptop cart, especially now that I have Ms. Watson to provide her soothing classroom management magic) and I had the kids lead me to the images they wanted.
Still later on at home, I just couldn't get this to work. I said, "Schmuck, why don't you try Keynote, you're a Mac and a QuickTime guy" Well, there are many advantages that Keynote has on PPoint (and if anything cared or if anyone actually reads this I could go into detail) but still it's not the solution. iMovie has the timing solution to all this, but the text aspect still is lacking.
Anyway I youtubed above a portion of what I was able to do. It's my way of honoring one of our genuine American heroes.

The Teachable Moment

I like to think that as a technology integration guy I'm always prepared for the teachable moment (my apologies for jargon). I just realized that the doe now has powermedia plus and I like this blurb from their site."The curriculum integration tools allow me to build connections between the classroom and digital media content on the fly," said Marie Spinelli, eighth grade teacher, Our Lady of Peace School, Milmont Park, Pennsylvania. "With access to all media types, I can easily create lesson plans, assignments, and quizzes that accommodate different student learning styles. The audio collection, in particular, offers flexible opportunities for enhancing my daily lessons since the file sizes are small and the content is easily portable on MP3 players. The content includes all core subject areas, which complements my cross-curricular teaching." Unfortunately not too many folks get the chance to do this because of the tc shackles.

Well, I was all ready for Dr. King's birthday with stuff a lot more exciting then what you find on powermedia plus. In addition, I have my favorite teacher, Ms. Watson, back in the 6th grade, ready to use my expertise. I pulled "Boycott" from my bag of tricks. We did a lot of "Stop and Jot" and it occurred to me as we watched it that there was this attack-counterattack dialectic occuring in the film and I built this (above graphic) in Inspiration as we went along. We almost made through the whole 6th grade (50 kids or so) in an intensive day. Some tough to attend "cases" were transfixed and they had some insightful comments.

At 2:30Pm on Thursday my favorite DOE AP Jonezy played Stevie Wonders' "Happy Birthday" to honor Dr. King over the school intercom and I was able to bring up the lyrics quickly in Ms. Watson's class on screen for a sing a long. Loved it! They don't teach that in the Leadership Institute!

Pam Oliver

Did I say football was boring? Also, that was a terrific Bears vs. Seahawks game and sorry, Rex Grossman is not Jewish

Mo Mo 2

I youtubed Mo's great performance of No Good Nigga Blues from last year

From session 1 on Friday I picked up these gems from Mo as he urged on his crew of poets
"Step up to it Mike"
"Hit it and quit it"
I brought my copy of Streettalk. The kids enjoyed reading it and of course they've got many expressions that are unlisted.
Afterwards I wrote my own poem using some I viewed printed and some I newly minted.
"I have a premonition that one day I'll be Doctor Bobby Murcered
Well on that day
I got a bullett for Doctor Bobby Berged
That fake ass wanna be D
Yeh he's got a little fake something going on
With my B
I be dumb but I ain't got no bolts around my neck
Let him pay for making my life total Dreck

Double Your Pleasure

While the rest of the sports' world watches boring football and basketball games and gets all worked up over David Beckham, the real sports story is another ethnic nyc baseball coup by Mets' GM Omar Minaya. The Mets are now the proud possessors of two of the existing 13 major league baseball players, Shawn Green and the recently acquired Scott Schoeneweis. I'm not quite sure but this tandem of landsmen is the first in NYC since the Sherry brothers and Koufax played for the Dodgers. Here's a recent article on the state of Jewish big leaguers:
"One of the ways rabid baseball fans get through end-of-the-season withdrawal pains is by immersing themselves in player stats and award announcements. It’s time to do the same for Jewish players.
There were 13 Jewish major leaguers this season: six pitchers, two catchers, three outfielders and two infielders. None of them, alas, came close to making a serious run at any major award, but we’ll remedy that situation by handing out awards for the top Jewish players. First the stats.
Starting pitchers:
• Jason Marquis of the St. Louis Cardinals recorded his third consecutive double-digit win season, but it was not a particularly successful year, since he went 14-16 with a 6.02 ERA.
• Jason Hirsh made his major-league debut with Houston on Aug. 12 and finished the season at 3-4, with an ERA of 6.04.
Incidentally, his catcher on Aug. 12 was Brad Ausmus, making this what is believed to be the first Jewish pitcher-catcher combo since Sandy Koufax and Norm Sherry in the early 1960s.
Relief pitchers:
• Veteran lefty Scott Schoeneweis appeared in 71 games for Toronto and Cincinnati, with a record of 4-2 and an ERA of 4.88. He was particularly effective in his 16 appearances with the Reds, notching two wins, three saves, and an ERA of .063.
• Left-handed reliever John Grabow, in his third full season with the Pirates, pitched a total of 69 2/3 innings in 72 games, with a record of 4-2, two blown saves, and an ERA of 4.13.
• Craig Breslow, the Yale-educated lefty relief specialist for Boston, made his Red Sox debut July 14 as one of three Jewish Red Sox on the field at the same time. He appeared in 13 games down the stretch, finishing with a record of 0-2 and an ERA of 3.75. He was unscored upon in 10 of 13 appearances.
• Scott Feldman, a 2005 late-season call-up, spent most of 2006 in the bullpen for the Texas Rangers. In 36 appearances he hurled 41 1/3 innings and was 0-2 with a 3.92 ERA.
• Brad Ausmus, the "dean" of Jewish major leaguers (he debuted in July 1993), continued as the first-string catcher for the Astros, appearing in 139 games and batting .230, with two homers and 39 RBIs.
• Mike Lieberthal shared catching duties for Philadelphia, appearing in 67 games and batting .273, with nine homers and 36 RBIs.
• Shawn Green, who hit his 300th homer in 2005, notched RBI number 1,000 and hit number 1,800 in 2006, while finishing the season with a batting average of .277 with 15 homers and 66 RBIs. Green was traded from Arizona to the New York Mets during the summer, and was warmly welcomed by the New York media and Jewish community.
• Gabe Kapler was a back-up outfielder with the Red Sox, hitting .254 in 72 games.
• Adam Stern made a few Web-gem catches for Canada in the World Baseball Classic and appeared in 10 early-season games with Boston, mostly as a pinch-runner and late-inning defensive replacement.
• Three-year Red Sox veteran Kevin Youkilis shifted from third base to become a fine defensive first baseman and excellent lead-off batter. "Youk" batted .279 with 13 homers and 72 RBIs. Among Boston batters, his on-base percentage of .381 trailed only Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz.
• Rookie Ian Kinsler was the Texas Rangers’ regular second-sacker for virtually all of 2006. He finished the season with a .286 batting average with 14 homers and 55 RBIs.
Our solution to the drought of Jewish award winners is to create our own awards.
We’re naming the Jewish MVP award the "Hank and Sandy," after Greenberg and Koufax, and giving it only in years when a Jewish player has indeed proved to be extremely valuable.
We actually do have a winner this year. The winner of the 2006 Hank and Sandy Most Valuable Jewish Player Award is incontestably Youkilis.
The Jewish Rookie of the Year is in honor of the Jewish player with the greatest rookie season — Al Rosen, who led the American League in homers in 1950 but lost out to Walt Dropo as Rookie of the Year. The 2006 Al Rosen Award for Jewish Rookie of the Year goes to Kinsler.
Our annual award for Jewish pitchers is the Pelty/Holtzman award, named for Barney "the Yiddish Curver" Pelty, who is the Jewish pitcher with the lowest ERA of all time; and Ken Holtzman, the all-time winningest Jewish pitcher.
This was a close race between Marquis and Schoeneweis, but because of his important role as the Cardinals’ fifth starter, the award goes to Marquis.
As consolation to Schoeneweis, he shares with Shawn Green the Dave Roberts Wandering Jew award, named in honor of the 1970s pitcher who played for a Jewish-record nine franchises. Both Schoeneweis and Green are now with their fourth major league teams."
by Martin Abramowitz

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Mo Mo

Mo Beasely is coming back to work with some of the boys this week and I volunteered to work with him. (I made the flyer to the right) I'm looking forward to learning the latest in slanguage and try to have Mo's charisma wear off on me. Our plan is to link the poetry that's written to neighborhood sites, sort of what Mr. Beller's Neighborhood does. Except we'll go one step further by podcasting. I prepared by getting this great new book.

Here's a review:
"I, and dozens of teens in the community with whom I volunteer, love this book. It makes a great ice-breaker, and a great resource for folks who work in communities where slanguage is frequently used. It is almost 700 pages in length, with what appears to be perhaps a 1000 entries. The entries not only provide a definition of each word or term, but also it's history (old school vs. new school, etc.) and examples of how the words might be used. Just leave it sitting around where teens hangout, and see what happens (they may read together, laugh together, critique and analyze the entries together). The book has a scholarly yet humorous appeal to it. I am a college professor myself, and my college students also seem to like this book. I think it has widespread potential for a broad range of audiences. It has turned out to be a treasure. It would make a nice gift for mature teens, parents, educators, social workers, nurses, business people, clergy, and politicians. Caution: it may not be suitable for pre-adolescent children because of some of the mature themes. I would love to see Randy "Moe Deezy" also author a Thesaurus along this line. I'm done. Now let me translate what I just said using entries from the book: Okay, here's da scoop (p. 485). Good googily moogily, this book is off the chain! (pp. 240 & 396). I'm really clickin' with this book, and da shorties in my hood love this book too (pp. 115, 499, & 275). It's worth da cheese (p. 107). It handles business on the one hand, and makes you crack up at times as well (pp. 251 & 128). I also have to school shorties in college, and they dig the book too (pp. 484, 499, & 143). It's a tightly done book, and will interest everyone from the homies to the new jacks (pp. 578, 274 & 387). It's a wrap, peace out!"

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Yip Harburg: What Is There To Say

Another great Harburg lyric song by Johnny Hartman
They should use Yip and the rest of the Big Five lyricists (Ira Gershwin, Lorenz Hart, Howard Dietz, Oscar Hammerstein ) for April is poetry month. All of them New Yorkers! But then Who am I Kidding?

What is there to say
And what is there to do
The dream I've been seeking
Has practically speaking come true
What is there to say
How will I pull through
I knew in a moment
Contentment and home meant just you
You are so lovable
So livable
Your beauty is just unforgivable
You're made to marvel at and words to that effect
What is there to say
What is there to do
My heart's in a deadlock
I'd even face wedlock with you

The slide show includes all those who have recorded this song (in no particular order) Sadly only Pizzarrelli, Billy Taylor and the great Sonny Rollins are the only ones still alive
Johnny Hartman, Gerry Mulligan, Susannah McCorkle, Chet Baker, Rosemary Clooney, Ella Fitzgerald, Artie Shaw, Bill Evans, Mel Torme, Nat King Cole, Sonny Rollins, Dorothy Dandridge, John Pizzarelli, Billy Taylor, Dizzy Gillespie, Barney Kessel, Ellis Larkin, Sylvia Syms

Yip Harburg Live

Yesterday was my birthday. On cue, it seemed, I received a present from Ernie Harburg. It contained the biography he wrote of his dad and a DVD of a concert given in 2005 to commemorate the Yip Harburg stamp. Here's a short clip from it of Yip singing.
In those 60 seconds of footage you can just sense the passion and the menschiness of the guy

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Louis Ferman: RIP

After procrastinating for almost a year and a half I contacted my mother's first cousin Seymour Lemonick in Philadelphia. He was able to provide a few of the details of what happened to Louis Ferman. I must have had a premonition that it wasn't going to be pleasant. Seymour told me that Louis died at the infamous Byberry Mental Hospital, a 1920 era Creedmore."The Philadelphia State Hospital at Byberry (est.1907, closed 1990), also known as Byberry Mental Hospital, opened in 1907 in Northeast Philadelphia. It originally followed the theory of physician Benjamin Rush that mental illness was a disease and could be cured with proper treatment, but the mentally diseased should be kept away from normal people until they were actually cured. It was home to people ranging from the mentally challenged to the criminally insane. The primary buildings were constructed between 1910 and the mid-1920's, and the newer buildings were constructed between 1940 and 1953. It was composed of over fifty buildings which included male and female dormitories, an infirmary, kitchens, laundry, administration, a chapel and a morgue. The hospital's population grew rapidly, quickly exceeding its capacity, and conditions were extremely poor. Several investigations into the conditions at the hospital revealed that sewage lined the hallways and patients slept in the halls, and administration mistreated and exploited patients. As a result, in 1936, the hospital was turned over to the state. However, the state possession changed nothing, and further investigations publicized similar findings." My mother remembers visiting him there as a little girl. It must have been a traumatizing experience. Seymour told me that Louis was known as Laib. This could be Louis (Laib) on a ship manifesto. I found at the Ellis Island site. It sort of coincides with his age and the date of his emigration

What's Going On?

Don't worry. There are many backlogged stories of my school technology successes and failures and the progress of the neighborhood mapping project with Melissa's kids. All soon to come. Just a few more family history posts to do.

The Boys Of Summer: 47(?) Years Later 2

Here's the code to figure out this photo. 71 stands for the address (71 Monroe Street) of some older guy who I stopped while taking pictures last week. He had the look of an old Knickerbocker Village resident and he was. Turns out he was a few years younger than me (but looked a lot older) and had gone to St. James and PS 1, before going to PS 177. He had moved into Knickerbocker in 1966. He was very impressed that Nancy Bueller had been my girl friend, since her beauty was legendary in the neighborhood. The x marks the spot where either Tommy Red or Richie LaGrippo hit a monster home run off of me. There is an arrow pointing to where that spot actually was (a supporting arch of the Manhattan Bridge).
HP stands for the approximate spot of home plate in the original dirt field ballfield. The new grass ballfield is on the spot of PS 177. HB stands for the handball court where I ruined my arm pitching to a drawn strike zone in simulated nine inning games with a spaldeen. B stands for the approximate spot where the famed picture was taken.

George Gershwin In 1910

One of the things I learned from the new Gershwin bio by Howard Pollack and also from my conversation with Ernie Harburg, was that the Gerswhwin's were fairly well off compared to other immigrants. Block makes reference to the family living in St. Petersburg, Russia rather than in the shtetls of the Pale of Settlement. In St. Petersburg, Morris, George's father may have been exposed to more modern business thinking. Like other immigrant families they may have moved a lot, not because of financial hardships, but rather so Morris could be closer to his many businesses. In 1910 they lived in this fairly new and spacious apartment house that still stands on Chrystie and Grand.
Here's a portion of the census where the family was listed as the Gershvens

The Fermans (Feuermans) In 1930

Here's where my mother, my grandmother and my Aunt Lilly lived in 1930, 401 E. 8th Street. Pretty much a stroke of luck that this building is there, it's the only survivor from the north side of 8th Street, between C and D. Coincidentally it's on the same block as the new 9th Precinct, where that archaelogical exhibit about 8th Street was displayed.
Lilly is back from the orphanage and there is no husband Louis and no brother Aaron. Come to think of it, Aaron must have been someone in my grandfather Louis' family because my mother's first cousin was named Aaron. I'm talking about the noted Physics' Professor from Princeton, Aaron Lemonick

who was the father of noted science author and Time science editor, Michael D. Lemonick.

Here's their census listing in 1930. I found them listed as Feuerman

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Yip Harburg And Louis Ferman

Louis Ferman was my grandfather on my mother's side. He died sometime in the early-mid 1920's. I've never seen a picture of him. My cousin Lois is named after him. Shortly before my mother died I had asked her about where she lived on the lower east side. Any talk about her childhood was difficult, since was one filled with hardships. The story goes something like this: Louis seemed to be more interested in spending time at the Tompkin's Square Library (secretly) on 10th Street rather than providing for his family. When pressed by my grandmother as to why he never brought home any money, he said he couldn't find work. One day she followed him and discovered his scam. The rest is confusing. Either she threw him out or he had a nervous breakdown and returned home to his family in Philadelphia. She subsequently went to work using his furrier's union card leaving three young children at home. The picture above shows where they lived in 1920, at 621 E. 9th Street. I have recently found the census records, using soundex variations on the spelling. The name is listed as Fireman. In 1920, there is a son, Aaron, who is one and a half. He would die sometime in the next 3 years after being hit by a bus on Avenue B. My aunt Lilly was to be born in 1923. She would spend several years in an orphange on Houston, near Avenue C, since my grandmother couldn't take care of her with my grandfather gone. Aunt Lilly recalls it being a horrible experience and doesn't say much more about it. Here's a portion of the 1920 census.

One other fact that my mother told me of her time on 9th Street was that when my grandmother left for work early in the morning, she was left to be babysat in one of the stores across the street from PS64 until school started. This is what those storefronts look like today.

So what does this have to do with Yip Harburg? Yip lived down the block from the Fermans (Firemans) in 1910. I don't know whether their days on 9th Street overlapped or not. However, Yip's son Ernie told me that Yip spent a good deal of his time at the same Tompkin's Square Library, the reading roomm there is now named in his honor. Maybe they were there at the same time.

Martin F. Tanahey Park

I don't really remember Tanahey Park having a name. I just remember playing in the park. The historical sign for Tanahey is missing, so I got this from the nycparks site. Looks like Tanahey was a Tammany pol who had a park named after him without any special accomplishment like Joseph Coleman.
"Located between the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges, this playground was named for local civic and political leader Martin F. Tanahey (1874-1930). Born and raised in this Lower East Side neighborhood, Tanahey held various public offices over 22 years. He served as chief clerk in the Labor Department of the State of New York and later became assistant appraiser of the Port of New York, the busiest port in the world for the first half of the 20th century. He also was an assistant government appraiser in President Woodrow Wilson's administration. In 1922, Tanahey was elected to the Board of Alderman from District 1, which includes the Lower East Side, and remained an alderman the rest of his life. Tanahey was a chief lieutenant of Democratic Party leader Thomas F. Foley (1852-1925), a saloonkeeper and politician associated with Tammany Hall for whom nearby Foley Square is named. Martin F. Tanahey died of pneumonia at his home at 177 Cherry Street in 1930.
The land occupied by this playground was acquired by condemnation for park purposes on October 17, 1949. The park opened on October 11, 1952, and was named Martin F. Tanahey Playground by local law. When built, the playground was divided into separate sections. The sides facing Market and Catherine Slips were originally constructed as sitting areas with chess and checker tables, while the center section was reserved for active recreation, with spaces for basketball, volleyball, paddle tennis, shuffle board, and horseshoe pitching."
BTW, here's Tanahey in the 1920 census, living at 177 Cherry Street as an "appraiser"

Here's, Joseph Coleman's family in 1920. The parks' sign said he was living at Madison St, here he was on Catherine Street and his father was a foreman for the police department.

The Boys Of Summer: 47(?) Years Later

After work today I went down to Coleman's Oval to see what remained of the original scene. Sort of like a revisitation of that Great Day In Harlem photograph by Art Kane. Incidentally that photo was taken around the same time (1958) Hard to believe that those guys were playing such great music and we were listening to Fabian and Frankie Avalon. Anyway, I knew what I would find, since I often drive by there. The park has been completely redone, but some of the original imprint is still there. This bench above is just about in the same spot. I noticed the historical sign about Coleman Oval and took a picture of it. Never knew about this guy.

Bounded by Cherry, Pike, and Monroe Streets, Coleman Square Playground lies on the border between Chinatown and the Lower East Side. It is named in honor of U.S. Army Corporal Joseph Francis Coleman (d. 1919), son of Thomas Coleman and Mary Hurley. Before World War I, the Coleman family resided on nearby Madison Street. Coleman fought in France as a member of the 321st Field Artillery, the 82nd Division of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF). He died on June 16, 1919 at Base Hospital in Hoboken, New Jersey, after contracting tuberculosis in the trenches. Exactly six months after Coleman’s death, the Board of Alderman named this playground in tribute to him.

The land that Coleman Square Playground now occupies was once the graveyard of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church. Founded in 1804, the church once stood at the corner of Chrystie Street and Broome Street. Sixty-two years after it was built, with a declining congregation and insufficient funds, St. Stephen’s was sold. After being exhumed from the cemetery, two thousand bodies were moved across the East River by boat and reburied in Cypress Hills Cemetery. Unfortunately, because only 250 families paid to have the names of their deceased relatives listed, most of the names have been lost to posterity.

Part of Coleman Square Playground stands under the shadow of the Manhattan Bridge, a two-level steel suspension bridge designed by Leon Moisseiff (1872-1904) and completed in 1909. The Manhattan Bridge connects Canal Street in Manhattan to Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn. Its design is often mistakenly attributed to Gustav Lindenthal (1850-1935), designer of the Williamsburg, Queensboro and Hell Gate bridges, who submitted a plan for the Manhattan Bridge in 1903 that was rejected by city administrators. The architectural firm of Carrere and Hastings designed the grand arch and flanking colonnades that mark the entrance to the bridge on Canal Street. The bridge is 6,855 feet long, with a main span of 1,470 feet, and clears the East River at 135 feet.