Sunday, February 24, 2008

John Adams: A Short Biography

John Adams: HBO Special

A seven part miniseries is beginning on March 16th on HBO. The above is the trailer.
Guaranteed there's no resources being developed for this from the all test prep, all the time, no social studies nycdoe

1938 Randall's Island: Count Basie And Lester Young

from jerry jazz musician
For a taste of the Count Basie Orchestra in 1938, go here. What was this event at New York's Randall's Island? In a 2005 interview at JerryJazzMusician, Dan Morgenstern, director of the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University, sheds some light:
"One event that would have been fascinating to attend was the Carnival of Swing on Randall's Island in 1938. This was really the first big outdoor jazz festival, although it wasn't called that then. It is an event that is not sufficiently remembered. It was sponsored by the Daily News and by Martin Block, who was basically the first important radio personality – you could say he was the first disc jockey. I believe there were twenty-four different groups, including the Count Basie band at its peak with Lester Young, and there was Duke Ellington playing Crescendo and Dimunedo in Blue, with the people dancing in the aisles to the point the cops had to calm them down. There was Stuff Smith, and there was John Kirby, and there was Hot Lips Page, and there was Roy Eldridge. This event led to a whole new way of presenting jazz, and it would have been something to see."

NY TIMES, SWING BANDS PUT 23,400 IN FRENZY; Jitterbugs Cavort at Randalls Island as 25 Orchestras Blare in Carnival Trek Begins at 8 A. M. Excitement Only Starts, May 30, 1938, Monday
For a full five hours and fortyfive minutes, 23,400 assorted jitterbugs and alligators-more conservatively known as swing music enthusiasts - cavorted yesterday at Randalls Island Stadium to the musical gymnastics of twenty-five swing bands, vainly bucking the lines of police and park officers who were sworn to protect the swing maestros from destruction by adulation.

John McCain's Friends

very, very clever. from youtube

Si Puede Cambiar

from the daily kos
Regardless of your fave candidate, this most beautiful video on Obama dramatically makes the case for hope while shining a light on the creative talents of progressive activism by video director Eric Byler.
Written and performed by Andres Useche

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Jim Brown: The Greatest Running Back Ever

Well, that's my opinion.
from Every Month Is Black History Month
The musical soundtrack for this youtube video had obscenities, so I combined it instead with an interview that Jim did on 1/20/08
NFL legend tells the Houston Chronicle's Anna Megan Raley about the NFL as he sees it.

from wikipedia
James Nathaniel Brown (born February 17, 1936) is an American former professional football player who has also made his mark as an actor and social activist. He is best known for his exceptional and record-setting nine-year career as a Fullback for the NFL Cleveland Browns from 1957 to 1965. He is widely considered the best running back of all time; in 2002 he was named by The Sporting News as the greatest professional football player ever. Uniquely, Brown was every bit as good a lacrosse player, with the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame stating that he was "widely considered to be the greatest lacrosse player ever." Sportswriter Bert Sugar named Brown #1 in his book The Greatest Athletes of All Time.
Brown was born on St. Simons Island in coastal Georgia and grew up in a devoutly Baptist family.
He was raised for six years by his grandmother after his mother left him at age 2 to work on Long Island (his father left the family shortly after Brown's birth). At age eight, he moved to Long Island in the 1940s to live with his mother, who at the time was working as a housekeeper for wealthy homeowners. At Manhasset High School, Brown earned 13 letters playing football, baseball, basketball, and lacrosse, while also running track and playing on the high school water polo squad.
Brown received 42 scholarship offers, but matriculated at Syracuse University, where he earned All-American honors in both football and lacrosse.
Brown was taken in the first round of the 1957 draft by the Cleveland Browns.
Brown announced his retirement on July 14, 1966 after Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell insisted that Brown report to training camp instead of finishing his work on the movie The Dirty Dozen. He departed as the NFL record holder for both single-season (1,863 in 1963) and career rushing (12,312 yards), as well as the all-time leader in rushing touchdowns (106), total touchdowns (126), and all-purpose yards (15,549). He was the first player ever to reach the 100-rushing-touchdowns milestone, and only a few others have done so since, despite the league's expansion to a 16-game season in 1978 (Brown's first four seasons were only 12 games, and his last five were 14 games). Brown also set a record by reaching the 100-touchdown milestone in only 93 games, which stood until LaDainian Tomlinson reached it in 89 games during the 2006 season. He still holds the career record for yards per carry by a running back (5.2), and total seasons leading the NFL in all-purpose yards (5: 1958-1961, 1964), and is the only rusher in NFL history to average over 100 yards per game for a career. Brown was also a superb receiver out of the backfield, catching 262 passes for 2,499 yards and 20 touchdowns. Every season he played, Brown was voted into the Pro Bowl, and he left the league in style by scoring three touchdowns in his final Pro Bowl game. Perhaps the most amazing feat is that Jim Brown accomplished these records despite never playing past 29 years of age.
He told me, 'Make sure when anyone tackles you he remembers how much it hurts.' He lived by that philosophy and I always followed that advice.
—John Mackey, 1999
Brown's 1,863 rushing yards in the 1963 season remain a Cleveland franchise record. It is currently the oldest franchise record for rushing yards out of all 32 NFL teams. While others have compiled more prodigious statistics, when viewing Brown's standing in the game his style of running must be considered along with statistical measures. He was very difficult to tackle (shown by his leading 5.2 yards per carry), often requiring more than one person to bring him down. His running evidenced a sort of graceful dance through the line and into the secondary which belied a fierceness that was difficult to capture on film. His style was part Bronko Nagurski, Gale Sayers, Ernie Davis and Walter Payton rolled into one.
Brown had begun his career as an actor with an appearance in the film Rio Conchos in 1964, then played a villain in a 1967 episode of I Spy called Cops and Robbers, went on to star in the 1967 war movie The Dirty Dozen (during the filming of which he announced his retirement from professional football), the 1970 movie ...tick...tick...tick..., as well as in numerous other features. In 1969, Brown starred in 100 Rifles with Burt Reynolds and Raquel Welch. The film was one of the first to feature an interracial love scene. Brown acted with Fred Williamson in films such as 1974's Three the Hard Way, 1975's Take a Hard Ride, 1982's One Down, Two to Go, 1996's Original Gangstas and 2002's On the Edge. He also guest starred in a handful of television episodes of various programs with Williamson. In 1998, he acted the voice of Butch Meathook in Small Soldiers Perhaps Brown's most memorable role was as Robert Jefferson in the aforementioned 1967 movie, The Dirty Dozen, and in Keenen Ivory Wayans' 1987 comedy I'm Gonna Git You Sucka. Brown also acted in 1987's The Running Man an adaptation of a Stephen King story. He played a coach in Any Given Sunday and also appeared in Sucker Free City and Mars Attacks!.
In 1983, seventeen years after retiring from professional football, Brown mused about coming out of retirement to play for the Los Angeles Raiders when it appeared that Pittsburgh Steelers running back Franco Harris would break his all-time rushing record. Brown disliked Harris' style of running, criticizing the Steeler running back's tendency to run out of bounds, a marked contrast to Brown's approach to fighting for every yard and taking on the oncoming tackler. Eventually, Walter Payton of the Chicago Bears broke the record on October 7, 1984, with Brown having ended thoughts of a comeback.
Brown's memorable professional career led to his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971, while the The Sporting News selected him as the greatest football player of all time. Brown's football talents at Syracuse garnered him a berth in the College Football Hall of Fame. Brown also earned a spot in the Lacrosse Hall of Fame, giving him a rare triple crown of sorts as well as being one of the few athletes to be a Hall of Fame member in more than one sport.
In 2002, film director Spike Lee released the film Jim Brown: All-American; a retrospective on Brown's professional career and personal life.

Black History Coloring Pages: Jim Brown And Arthur Ashe

Famous Brooklyn African Americans

The images are from the Brooklyn Public Library's Digital Collection. The soundtrack is Joy Spring, featuring Clifford Brown on trumpet and Brooklyn's own Max Roach on drums.
Max lived at one time at 210 Putnam Avenue in Bedford Stuyvesant

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Black Inventors: A Kids' Video

There's over 150 postings so far on Every Month Is Black History Month Check it out. Here's one of them
This is very cute. I love the kid who does George Washington Carver. It was posted on youtube. I've met some of the people from the nyc parks' dept who work in computer after school programs and they do wonderful work. They have a program called RECYouth, Real Education and Communication For Youth

Jammin The Blues With The Pres(ident)

In honor of President's Day.
from youtube user ziegfeldgrrl
Jammin' the Blues is a 1944 short film in which several prominent jazz musicians got together for a rare filmed jam session. It features Lester Young, Red Callender, Harry Edison, Marlowe Morris, Sid Catlett, Barney Kessel, Joe Jones, John Simmons, Illinois Jacquet, Marie Bryant, Archie Savage and Garland Finney. For some, this is their only known appearance in a theatrical film. Barney Kessel is the only white performer in the film. He was seated in the shadows to shade his skin, and for closeups, his hands were stained with berry juice. Lindy Hop legends Archie Savage and Marie Bryant do the Lindy Hop (Jitterbug) on this footage. Directed by Gjon Mili and selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.

from brainjuice
Tenor saxophonist Lester Young was a gentle man tossed about by a turbulent world. Though the jazz he loved provided him with a safe harbor, ultimately it was not enough, and the vicissitudes of life gradually wore him down. What remains is his music. In hundreds of recorded solos, his easy-going melodic invention and warmly whispered tone testify to a man of great heart and soul, who used his art to turn pain into beauty. Young was born 1909, in Woodville, Missouri. He spent his childhood living near New Orleans, and in 1919, his father, Willis Handy Young, a multi-talented musician, moved the family north to Minneapolis. Willis taught all his children to play instruments, and organized them into a family band, which played at carnivals, fairs, and theaters. Lester learned to play drums, violin, and trumpet, before settling on saxophone. However, as Lester grew older, he and his father found themselves increasingly at odds. In 1927, the two fought over Lester's romantic involvement with an older carnival worker named Clara. Willis slapped Lester, who in turn ran away with Clara. He returned shortly, but later that year, Willis proposed taking the band on a tour of the South. Lester harbored memories of the South as a place of racism, oppression, and humiliation, and refused to go. He left the band for good, and at 18, he was on the road, fending for himself as a Jazz musician. Those were the days of the "territory bands," groups of eight or ten musicians who made their livings playing dance halls and nightclubs in a specific geographic region. Young played with many of these bands, including one of the best--Walter Page's "Blue Devils." None of the bands Young played in had recording contracts, or appeared on the radio. They lived hand-to-mouth, driving during the day from town to town, and playing music all night. Still, they were working, and as the Depression gained momentum, that was enough. During these years, Young developed a distinctive style, and gained a formidable reputation among his fellow musicians. At the time, most tenor saxophonists were imitating the style of Coleman Hawkins, the undisputed king of the instrument. Hawkins' playing was boisterous and driving, and his sound was rich with overtones and vibrato. Young's playing was almost diametrically opposed: his melodic lines danced gracefully along, never in any hurry, and his sound was soft and mellow in the lower registers, while his higher notes were clear and delicate. He was a butterfly to Hawkins' bumblebee. Quiet and affectionate, with a sly sense of humor, Young was a natural ladies man. In 1930, he met a young woman named Bess Cooper, and after a brief courtship, the two married. Bess was white and Jewish, and interracial marriages were almost unheard of at the time, but Young was not one to let societal conventions circumscribe his life. The following year a daughter, Beverly, was born. Tragically, Bess died shortly after giving birth, and Young, unable to take an infant on the road with him, turned Beverly over to the Cooper family. For the rest of his life, Young would visit Beverly, when his schedule allowed, and sometimes even took her out on the road with him. When the "Blue Devils" disbanded near the end of 1933, Young invited himself to audition for Count Basie's Orchestra, one of the top bands in the nation. The men in Basie's hard-swinging Kansas City outfit were wild about Young's radical new sound, and it seemed he had a new home. But he left Basie's band a few months later to join Fletcher Henderson's band-as a replacement for none other than Coleman Hawkins. It was a disaster. The musicians wouldn't accept Young's sound, and when the disagreements became vituperative, Young departed. He wandered again for a while, but in 1936 he hooked back up with Basie, and the next four years were maybe the happiest of his life. Kansas City, during the mid-1930s, was a wide-open town. Run by Tom Pendergast, a politician with strong ties to organized crime, it was bursting with gambling joints, brothels, night clubs, gin-mills and other places where music was in demand. Also, the men in the Basie band were ideally suited to each other, and to life on the road. Young would later recall that, in those days, everybody looked forward to going to work. When they weren't playing the music they loved, they were shooting dice, enjoying libations, pursuing romantic adventures, or simply enjoying each other's company. Young occupied some of his off-hours by pitching for the band's baseball team, and pursuing a romance with Margaret Johnson, a young pianist who sometimes sat in the band. Later in 1936, the band signed a record contract and moved east to New York. Among the songs they recorded were "Honeysuckle Rose" and "Taxi War Dance"-both of which feature great solos by Young. Because of their raw, bluesy sound, the Basie band's records were marketed only in African-American neighborhoods. Nevertheless, they sold well, and Young enjoyed his first national exposure. During that time, Young also recorded with a small group called the Kansas City Seven, and fine examples of his playing with that band can be heard on "Dickie's Dream" and "Lester Leaps In." In 1937, Lester recorded his first tracks with Billie Holiday, a young singer who sometimes worked with the Basie band, and whose solo career was just about to take flight. The pair shared a wistful sense of melancholy and an ever-alert melodic creativity that makes the numbers they recorded together-like "Mean To Me" and "This Year's Kisses"-essential listening. They continued to work together occasionally for the rest of their lives, and shared much more than music. Though, by all accounts, their relationship remained platonic, they sometimes lived together and always loved each other. It was Young who christened Holiday "Lady Day," and she in return gave him the title "Pres." The world at large was told that "Pres" was short for "President of the Tenor Saxophone," but in actuality the name was short for "President of the Viper's Club." A "Viper," in 1930s hipster lingo, was a marijuana devotee-which Young certainly was. Not all of Young's relationships in 1937 were platonic, however. Between recording sessions and engagements, he met and fell in love with a young nurse of Italian descent named Mary. Soon, Young had moved in with her, and although they never officially married, they lived together long enough to become common law husband and wife. The relationship was often stormy, and Young sometimes succumbed to the amorous temptations that surround musicians on the road. Mary sometimes toured with him, but travel was difficult for an interracial couple in the 1930s, with hotels and restaurants often refusing to accommodate them. Despite the personal and societal adversities, the couple was generally happy, and stayed together until 1945.
Things cooled off for the Basie band in 1940, and Young left, hoping to lead a small group of his own. He teamed up with his brother, Lee Young, a drummer who, with the exception of his musical talent and his love of baseball, was quite different than Lester. Lee was outgoing, energetic, well organized, and an excellent band manager. For most of the next three years, the two toured with a variety of small groups, but in 1943, Lester returned to his musical home in the Basie band.
This, his final stint with the band was, in terms of fame and critical accolade, his most successful. The public-or at least the jazz-loving segment of it-aside from being enchanted by his playing, also found Young to be an endearing personality. Always a strong individualist, he now gained the reputation of being something of an eccentric-indeed, in the public's mind he was perhaps the quintessential way-out hipster jazzman. Some of his quirks were visual. For instance, he held his saxophone at an odd, almost horizontal, angle, instead of straight up and down like other saxophonists. He also always wore a porkpie hat, and this flat-topped, wide-brimmed chapeau-along with finely tailored, but severely rumpled suits-became his sartorial trademark. But it was his inventive use of words that really caught the public's imagination. He went well beyond the usual jazz lingo, and at times seemed to be speaking a language of his own. His saxophone keys were "people," an old girlfriend was a "wayback," a narcotics officer was a "bob crosby"-he even started the use of the term "bread" for money. Critics, during this time, were also charmed by Young's personality, but more importantly, they were finally able to accept his unique style, and, in 1944, he was named the year's top tenor saxophonist in Down Beat magazine. Although jazz was not as popular among the general public as the Swing band music played by white orchestras, Young was about as famous as a jazz man could be in the late 1940s.
But Young was also receiving notices of a less benign sort. The United States was at war, and Young was 35 years old, which made him eligible for military service. Never one to confront a problem if it could be avoided, he ignored the draft notices that were mailed to him. But one night in September of 1944, after playing an engagement, he was nabbed by a plainclothes Army official. Thus was the inauspicious beginning of his military career, which he later would remember as a mad nightmare. Young was stationed in the Deep South-a place he had feared and avoided, because of its racial policies, since childhood. Moreover, he was by nature completely incompatible with military discipline. (Indeed, at his induction examination, he told the conducting Army physician that he had smoked marijuana everyday since 1933.) To make a bad situation worse, he was quickly arrested for marijuana possession, court martialed, and sentenced to a disciplinary center. There he was subjected to severe physical abuse. The guards, he would later say, liked to practice drum rolls on his head. Though he suffered no permanent physical damage, the emotional scars lasted for the rest of his life.
When Young was dishonorably discharged in 1945, he came home to a world that had radically changed. In the relatively brief time that he had been away, the new style of Be Bop had taken the jazz world by storm. The gently swinging music that Young played was now out of favor, and work was hard to come by for big bands and small groups alike. There seemed to be a whole new generation of young players competing for engagements and recording contracts. Ironically, many of the young lions-including Be Bop pioneer Charlie Parker-counted Young as one of their most prominent influences. That these newcomers, who in many cases were simply aping his style, were making good money while he struggled, caused Young considerable grief. To top it off, the critics now wrote him off as old hat.
Young began to rely more on alcohol to ease his pain. He became withdrawn, and though he was never completely bitter, it was clear to his friends that he was disenchanted with life. But in 1946, he was asked to appear in Jazz at the Philharmonic-a wildly successful annual package tour of jazz legends. For the next ten years, these annual tours were the heart of his career, though he also continued to play clubs and record. Though word had spread that his post-army playing was diminished, the recordings from this period show that his style had continued to evolve, and that his solos were as creative, agile, and soulful as ever. Nevertheless, he was dissatisfied, drinking heavily, and aware that his best years were in the past. In 1946, he and his common law wife, Mary, split up. Ironically, in that same year, he met, fell in love with, and married another woman, also named Mary. Lester was happy again, and for a short while cut back on his alcohol consumption. In 1947, Mary gave birth to a son, Lester, Jr.; and a daughter, Yvette, followed in 1956. But eventually, Young's drinking reasserted itself, and by 1958, Mary, who had been incredibly nurturing, could no longer stand to see Young destroy himself. They split up. Young didn't want to be alone, however, and later in 1958, a jazz-fan named Elaine Swain moved in with him, and accompanied him through the last months of his life. In January of 1959, Young traveled to Paris to play a long engagement at the Blue Note Club. But in March, he suffered alcohol-related stomach problems and flew home. On the plane the pain was so severe, he bit through his lip. Later that month he died of a heart attack. Young is buried in Brooklyn. His saxophone is on display at the Smithsonian institution. He lives wherever jazz is heard.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Abraham Lincoln:The Whitest Kids You Know

I cleaned this up a bit. I don't think they're that funny.
Sic Semper tyrannis is a Latin phrase meaning "thus ever (or always) to tyrants." Recommended by George Mason to the Virginia Convention in 1776, the phrase is attributed to Marcus Junius Brutus at the assassination of Julius Caesar. It is sometimes mistranslated as "Death to tyrants."
According to some witnesses and an excerpt from John Wilkes Booth's diary, he is said to have shouted the phrase after shooting United States President Abraham Lincoln in 1865. Coincidentally, both his father and his brother's names were Junius Brutus. Timothy McVeigh was wearing a T-shirt with this phrase and a picture of Lincoln on it when he was arrested on April 19, 1995, the day of the Oklahoma City Bombing.

Abraham Lincoln In Superman, A Nation Divided

In looking for Presidential materials I found that Abraham Lincoln plays a major role in one of the DC Elseworlds' titles, "Superman, A Nation Divided." Here's a segment where Superman, a Union soldier saves Lincoln's life
About this title:
Young Atticus Kent learns of his powers and abilities, and helps the Union Army win the war, saves the life of Abraham Lincoln and goes on to bigger and better things.

About Elseworlds:
Elseworlds is the publication imprint for a group of comic books produced by DC Comics that take place outside the company's canon. According to its tagline: "In Elseworlds, heroes are taken from their usual settings and put into strange times and places - some that have existed, and others that can't, couldn't or shouldn't exist. The result is stories that make characters who are as familiar as yesterday seem as fresh as tomorrow." Unlike its Marvel Comics counterpart What If...?, which bases its stories on a single point of divergence from the regular continuity, most Elseworlds stories instead take place in entirely self-contained continuities whose only connection to the canon DC continuity are the presence of familiar DC characters.

soundtrack: Ken Burns Civil War - Abraham Lincoln's Funeral March - Taps - The President's Grave.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

South Of The Border Valentine

I just managed to post this before midnight of Valentines Day. I just returned from reading some more of the barbs thrown at the fair maiden Eduwonkette. This time it's not from Eduwonk, but from Charles Barone, a former staffer with the House Education and Labor Committee and a longtime aide to Rep. George Miller, Chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee and one of the architects of NCLB.
He's complaining that:
Note that you never seen the law quoted on this blog. Not much data either, despite the social science heading. Only hyberbolic impressions.
...Which brings me to Eduwonkette and all the commenters on this post, and almost every commenter on your whole site. We have no idea who they are, who funds them, what stake they have in any particular fight, politically, financially, or otherwise.

I don't know, there's more data on Edwuwonkette's site than the elephantesque data dump that the Aris computer took this fall. As for transparency, doesn't he realize that Eduwonkette is Zorro? Maybe a south of the border Valentine's Dance will remind him.

Like Hope, But Different

The inevitable parodies of Barack Obama’s “Yes We Can” video have begun—this one isn’t so much about Obama or Hillary Clinton as it is about Republican front-runner John McCain, whose infamous hundred-year (or more) plan for America’s presence in Iraq is deservedly and humorously lambasted here.

Break Out Valentine

UFT President Randi Weingarten is getting ready to become AFT President. She's celebrating break style with some of her management friends who have helped in her achievements. My sincerest of valentines to
nyceducator who minces no words in explaining why those achievements are dubious
UFT President Randi Weingarten is getting ready to become AFT President. Among the many notable achievements that define Ms. Weingarten's legacy in NYC:
disenfranchising working teachers to the point that fewer than 25% bother to vote in union elections
3 extra days so teachers can listen to Klein's flunkies pontificate while kids stay home
fewer transfer options for experienced teachers
a sixth 37.5 minute class of "small group instruction" 4x weekly (which the UFT maintains is not a class, while Chancellor Klein maintains we now have small classes in the city)
no right to grieve letters in your file
return to lunch duty, hall patrol, homeroom, potty patrol et al on a permanent basis
UFT silence on the mayoral election as quid pro quo for the worst contract in our history
bribing New Action, the former opposition party, with patronage jobs so they'd support her
failure to oppose reorganizations that hurt chances of teachers being placed in regular jobs, thus sentencing many ATR teachers to permanent substitute status
enthusiastic support of nebulous class size regulations that achieved nothing
repeated failure to amend the UFT contract, the only instrument that legally restricts class size, to really reduce it
partnership with Green Dot Schools, which specifically reject tenure and seniority rights for teachers
UFT support of mayoral control
achieving the admiration of Rod "The NEA is a terrorist organization" Paige, as well as that of various anti-teacher, anti-union editorial boards
accomplishing all of the above without bothering to achieve even cost of living increases for rank and file
I've no doubt Ms. Weingarten can continue to build upon her remarkable record on a national level. It may prove marginally interesting to watch her and others posture as though she has not already been assigned the job.
Then again, it may not.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

"Old Pro" Valentines

Diane Ravitch has been in the forefront in exposing the fallacies of recent trends in public education. Sol Stern has had the courage to admit that school vouchers are not the cure all that many had thought. A very Happy Valentine's Day to the two of them

My Funny Valentine: Sarah Vaughn

Recorded in 1973 in Tokyo at the Sun Plaza. This is heralded as some of her greatest work. The seventies also heralded a rebirth in Vaughan's recording activity.
Sarah Lois Vaughan (nicknamed "Sassy" and "The Divine One") (March 27, 1924, Newark, New Jersey – April 3, 1990, Los Angeles, California) was an American jazz singer, described as "possessor of one of the most wondrous voices of the 20th century".
Sarah Vaughan was a three time Grammy Award winner.The National Endowment for the Arts honored Sarah Vaughan with its highest honor in jazz, the NEA Jazz Masters Award in 1989.
the great lorenz hart lyric
My funny valentine
Sweet comic valentine
You make me smile with my heart
Your looks are laughable
Yet you're my favorite work of art
Is your figure less than greek
Is your mouth a little weak
When you open it to speak
Are you smart?
But don't change a hair for me
Not if you care for me
Stay little valentine stay
Each day is valentines day
Is your figure less than greek
Is your mouth a little weak
When you open it to speak
Are you smart?
But don't you change one hair for me
Not if you care for me
Stay little valentine stay
Each day is valentines day

My Funny Valentine: Woody Herman

I would have liked to post a Chet Baker version, but it's no longer available.
Here's a great big band arrangement of it from Woody Herman. It was recorded in 1985 on the SS Norway

Lincoln's Birthday

There's hardly any Lincoln content on youtube. Here's a cartoon strip that mentions Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. It's part of the great collection from Bentley Boyd that was originally done for the . The online archives are here. The book collections are well worth the price. I've gotten several. Here's the link to amazon. I used Joan Baez as the soundtrack. Remember her! The last slide is the signature of Lincoln on the proclamation.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Valentine's Day Disco

The beautiful and brilliant Eduwonkette is sponsoring a My Funny Valentine Poetry Contest this week. Above is my video valentine to her courtesy of Jib Jab.
Instead of myself as her disco dancing partner I placed the Eduwonk, Andrew J. Rotherham. There's been some disagreement between them lately and I thought some Saturday Night Fever might bring them a respite for Valentine's Day. It seems to be doing the trick because I think something's happening in those pants.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Mets Vorspeis

My Met fan friends wanted equal time. I created a game entry song for Scott Schoeneweis. It should really be "My Prayer"

Spring Traing Vorspeis

Never too early to find a good at-bat song. from the best NY Yankee blog, lohud
I was sorting through some CDs just now and came across something Hideki Matsui dropped on us last spring. He told me I should blog it and I forgot. It’s the official Hideki Matsui Rooters song Hikari No Michi. Here’s the stadium edit version for you: They should play this when he comes to the plate. I have no idea what the words are (Japanese readers, help us out) but it’s inspirational. Posted by Peter Abraham

vorspeis-yiddish for appetizer, or "a taste"

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Giants' Victory Parade

One of the Giants (1:31) doesn't seem convinced of Mike's jock credibility. Also, it appears that Bill Belichick is still up to his old tricks (1:56)

Eli's Coming 2

For those who were so shocked that the Giants won. Highlights from final game of the regular season.

Monday, February 04, 2008

See You Next Year Bill

This Just In

Bill Belichick say he will be covering the Giants' victory parade tomorrow for ISPY News

The Number One Reason To Support Barack Obama

modified graphic from nytimes

Eli's Coming

I found this here and edited it a bit and changed the soundtrack to Laura Nyro
a quote from an email my friend Rich:
Although dating myself, I have been a NY Football Giant fan since before the 47-7 thrashing of the Chicago Bears in 1956. However, Super Bowl XLII was the sweetest victory ever attained by Big Blue. No one believed me when I said, "Eli's Coming." No one believed it could be done. It was. It was fantastic. It was glorious. And it was over Bellicheat. And it was over Brady. No perfecto!

Score one also for those who believe in a more democratic form of leadership as Tom Coughlin learned, from Allen Barra in a very prescient 1/29/08 article in the Village Voice
Throughout his 12-year pro coaching career, Tom Coughlin has given a perfect imitation of someone who is both in charge and out of control, with the result that the Giants—one of the most talented teams in the league—have also been the most erratic, forever changing the way of their errors without changing the error of their ways. Things got so bad last year that The Washington Post's Mark Maske wrote, when Coughlin accused the media of being a distraction: "What the media was distracting Coughlin's players from . . . was disliking him and disliking each other."

Somehow, at his and the Giants' nadir, Coughlin went from being someone whom the New York media regarded as only slightly more popular than Hitler (that was Coughlin's own comparison, by the way) to Wilford Brimley. Safety James Butler remarks that Coughlin is "so approachable you can talk to him about, really, anything." By all appearances, Coughlin, at age 61, has achieved the remarkable feat of changing himself from a football coach into a full-fledged human being.

The Giants now have a "leadership council" of players: "I share my thoughts with them," he recently told Sports Illustrated, "they share their thoughts with me, and they take the message to the team. My whole philosophy has been to communicate with the players better." What brought all this on? No one knows, but Coughlin's former general manager, Ernie Accorsi, the man who engineered the acquisition of Eli Manning, believes that "Tom found it in him to change and grow. It's rare when that happens in any field, but it's downright unheard-of in football. It's taken him a long time, but he no longer thinks that he knows it all. He seems to be delegating authority much better. He seems to know what he doesn't know."

But does Coughlin know enough to win a duel of wits with pro football's resident genius, Patriots coach Bill Belichick? "A good question," says Accorsi. "Not too many coaches have ever actually outsmarted the competition. Bill Walsh did. Bill Belichick has. It's a really scary thought that he has two weeks to prepare for this game."

The Giants have fired up this town the way only an underdog can—and make no mistake, despite the wild optimism of sports-radio callers and the reckless predictions of some local beat writers, the Giants are underdogs.  Big underdogs. Perhaps the biggest Super Bowl underdogs in almost 40 years.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Eyes On The Prize

for some bizarre reason this incredible documentary is hard to get and only available on VHS God bless this youtube user who has uploaded many of the segments. The above is the first segment of Part 1, entitled Awakenings. A description of the series from Amazon.
One of the essential documentary series from 20th-century television, Eyes on the Prize is an extraordinary, grassroots history of the civil rights movement in 1950s and '60s America. Leaving punditry and debate to others, this six-hour program concerns itself with the individuals who were there, who participated on the front lines, who witnessed and survived to tell about the crusade's tragedies and victories. Starting with a pair of mid-'50s heroic actions in the South that helped galvanize black and white activism against institutional racism (actions that included Rosa Parks's refusal to give up her bus seat to a white passenger in Montgomery, Alabama), the series winds its way through the exponential growth of the movement to the passage of the Voting Rights Act and beyond. The epochal battle between states-rights advocates and federal authorities is well-covered, as are the many sacrifices made and enormous risks taken by Mississippi Freedom Riders and advocates of black voter registration. Also in this boxed set is the series' sequel, Eyes on the Prize II: America at the Racial Crossroads 1965-mid 1980s. An equally stirring, eight-hour history of the post-civil-rights years, in which hard-won political power manifested itself both inside and outside elected government offices, this follow-up traces the fracturing of a unified civil rights community into numerous missions and agendas. Driven by interviews and archival footage, the series takes a clear look at such historical chapters as the rise of black separatism, the election of Carl Stokes to Cleveland's Office of the Mayor, and the turmoil of school desegregation. Both the original series and sequel are an absolute must for a contemporary understanding of racism in America. --Tom Keogh

a study guide for the series is available from

Yes We Can

from ABC News:
Celebrity-filled music videos have been used to support many social movements, from famine relief for Africa, to support for American farmers, to opposition to apartheid in South Africa. But rarely have celebrities and musicians banded together to create new music in the heat of a presidential campaign.
The Black Eyed Peas’ frontman, songwriter and producer known as, along with director and filmmaker Jesse Dylan, son of another socially active musician, Bob Dylan, released a new song Friday that attempts to do just that.
The music video “Yes We Can” premiered on ABCNewsNow’s “What’s the Buzz” on Friday. It was inspired, told ABC’s Alisha Davis, by Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign and in particular by the speech he has gave after the New Hampshire primary. “It made me reflect on the freedoms I have, going to school where I went to school, and the people that came before Obama like Martin Luther King, presidents like Abraham Lincoln that paved the way for me to be sitting here on ABCNews and making a song from Obama’s speech,” said. “The speech was inspiring about making change in America and I believe what it says and I hope everybody votes,” Dylan said.

The Words
It was a creed written into the founding documents that declared the destiny of a nation. Yes we can.
It was whispered by slaves and abolitionists as they blazed a trail toward freedom. Yes we can.
It was sung by immigrants as they struck out from distant shores and pioneers who pushed westward against an unforgiving wilderness. Yes we can.
It was the call of workers who organized; women who reached for the ballot; a President who chose the moon as our new frontier; and a King who took us to the mountain-top and pointed the way to the Promised Land.
Yes we can to justice and equality. (yes we can) Yes we can to opportunity and prosperity. Yes we can to opportunity and prosperity. Yes we can to opportunity and prosperity. Yes we can heal this nation. Yes we can repair this world. Yes we can. Si Se Puede.
We know the battle ahead will be long, but always remember that no matter what obstacles stand in our way, nothing can stand in the way of the power of millions of voices calling for change.
We want change!
We have been told we cannot do this by a chorus of cynics who will only grow louder and more dissonant. We've been asked to pause for a reality check. We've been warned against offering the people of this nation false hope.
But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope.
We want change! I want Change.
The hopes of the little girl who goes to a crumbling school in Dillon are the same as the dreams of the boy who learns on the streets of LA; we will remember that there is something happening in America; that we are not as divided as our politics suggests; that we are one people; we are one nation; and together, we will begin the next great chapter in America's story with three words that will ring from coast to coast; from sea to shining sea - Yes. We. Can.

Celebrities featured include: Scarlett Johansson, Tatyana Ali, John Legend, Herbie Hancock, Kate Walsh, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Adam Rodriquez, Kelly Hu, Adam Rodriquez, Amber Valetta, Nicole Scherzinger and Nick Cannon

Black History Coloring Pages: Harriet Tubman/Jackie Robinson

Black History Coloring Pages: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Click on them to enlarge and then download. They can be colored in by hand or with any paint program

Lift Every Voice And Sing

originally from 2/4/07, but now with video
One of the paraprofessionals has a great collection of small posters from the Schomburg collection. I offered to scan them at a high resolution so as to preserve them and possibly posterize them at a larger size for display. I also enlarged the text. Here's the result in a slide show set to James Weldon Johnson's famous anthem. (Note even with enlarged text, the screen size limits of youtube make it hard to read any image with more than one line of text)
Lift every voice and sing, till earth and Heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise, high as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.
Stony the road we trod, bitter the chastening rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat, have not our weary feet,
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered;
Out from the gloomy past, till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.
God of our weary years, God of our silent tears,
Thou Who hast brought us thus far on the way;
Thou Who hast by Thy might, led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee.
Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee.
Shadowed beneath Thy hand, may we forever stand,
True to our God, true to our native land.

Langston Hughes 2

I also rediscovered this from two year ago. I recorded a middle schooler reciting,
"I Am a Negro." I used audacity to combine her track with Coltrane playing, "In A Sentimental Mood." I then gave her the task of searching for images that were suggested from the poem. After she did that I combined the content into a slide show

Langston Hughes

I found a Howard Zinn audio that discusses Langston Hughes all alone on my hard drive. I combined it with Langston images I found.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

St. Nicholas Terrace

from 5/21/06, this time supplemented above with goggle video versions of the slide shows (Note, the downloadable versions, being of larger screen size, permit the visibility of the text:
Here's another two slide show entry. The first slide show consists of images taken in my quest to find where Dave Caros might have stumbled upon some rent parties. I had thought they might have been on Edgecombe where the established jazz musicians of Sugar Hill resided.
The high overlook eastward view from Edgecombe was incredible.I chose a Lunceford track, "Lunceford Special," as the music. Jimmy Lunceford resided in Sugar Hill in the 30's and 40's. His band was one of the best of the swing era and is relatively unheralded. The second slide show consists mostly scans from the Harlem Lost and Found book. I put the 1920 composition, "Look For The Silver Lining" by Jerome Kern as the soundtrack. I thought it might fit era wise, but if it didn't, at least it gave me a chance to use Chet Baker. The second version of the song was used for filler so the timing of the slides would be sufficient to allow reading.

Agrippa Hull

I combined one of the the Daily Press cartoons on blacks in the American Revolution with another wonderful Massachusetts Moment. The fit wasn't exact. I used an audio about Agrippa Hull, also some "filler" Colonial music to allow enough time on the slides.
About Agrippa Hull from the mass moment site:
in 1777, Agrippa Hull, a freeborn black man from the Berkshire County town of Stockbridge, signed on to serve in the Continental Army for the duration of the Revolutionary War. The 18-year-old was one of over 5,500 men of color — free and slave — to fight for American independence. Blacks were eager to serve, despite the fact that official policy discouraged their recruitment. Hull gave more than six years of his life to the cause, serving as an orderly to two distinguished generals. After the war ended, Hull returned to Stockbridge and raised a large family. He was respected in his hometown as something of a philosopher, a man of intelligence and wit, and, above all, as a devoted Patriot. In the years leading up to the American Revolution, white colonists prepared to fight for their own liberty, yet they refused to consider emancipation of their slaves. Nevertheless, when war finally broke out, blacks — both slaves and free men — were eager to join the fight for independence. One of the free blacks was Agrippa Hull of Stockbridge. Hull was born to freed slaves in Northampton in 1759. According to tradition, he was brought to Stockbridge at the age of six by a black man named Joab, a former servant of the Rev. Jonathan Edwards. Hull was in his early teens when the long-simmering conflict turned to war in the spring of 1775. Agrippa Hull remained at home until 1777, but nearly 200 black, Indian, or mixed-race Massachusetts men had already fought at Lexington and Concord and at Bunker Hill. When other colonies began to send troops to help maintain the siege of Boston, the issue of black soldiers in the Continental Army became contentious. Despite the willingness of blacks — even slaves — to risk their lives for the Revolutionary cause, white commanders debated whether it was appropriate or even acceptable for black men to serve. Indecision and confusion marked the debate. In May of 1775, only a month after the first hostilities, a committee weighed the use of black soldiers in the Continental Army and decided that only free blacks could enlist. In October, it was decreed that neither free blacks nor slaves could serve. On November 12th, George Washington ordered that "negroes, boys unable to bear arms, [or] old men unfit to endure the fatigues of the campaign are [not] to be enlisted." Things soon changed. Word reached Boston that the British had offered freedom to any slave who escaped to their lines. Indeed, as one historian has pointed out, "the Revolution triggered the largest emancipation of American slaves outside the ultimate freedom won in the Civil War — and most of that liberation came through flight to the enemy." When George Washington learned of the new British policy, he promptly reversed his decision. "Informed that numbers of free negroes are desirous of enlisting," on December 30, 1775, he gave the recruiting officers permission to accept free blacks into the army. But Washington did not have the final word. When he sought approval for his decision from the Continental Congress, he was told that those "free negroes who have served faithfully in the army at Cambridge may be reenlisted therein, but no others." New England units widely ignored the policy, and as the war dragged on and the colonies faced a severe manpower shortage, the numbers of free blacks and slaves in uniform increased. By early 1777, any free black was allowed to enlist; later that year, desperate to fill depleted ranks, the Congress finally authorized the enlistment of slaves. With the exception of Maryland, the southern states refused to send blacks to fight, but New England towns increasingly relied on African Americans to meet their quotas. While white New Englanders typically enlisted for a single campaign, a large percentage of black soldiers served three-year terms or "for the duration." Agrippa Hull was one of these. In May of 1777, he enlisted for the duration as a private in the brigade of General John Paterson of the Massachusetts Line. Hull served as General Paterson's "orderly," or personal assistant, for two years; for the rest of the war, he filled the same role for Paterson's friend, the Polish general Taddeusz Kosciuszko.
During four years service with Kosciuszko, Hull saw action in a variety of battles, ranging from Saratoga in New York to Eutaw Springs in South Carolina. There he was assigned to assist the surgeons, and the horror of the amputations they performed stayed with him for the rest of his life. On the lighter side, on at least one occasion Hull dressed in Kosciuszko's uniform and threw a party for his black friends. The Polish officer and the black private remained close and had an affectionate reunion during Kosciuszko's visit to the United States in 1797.
When Agrippa Hull left the army in July of 1783, he received a discharge signed by George Washington. Hull was so proud of the document that years later, when he was required to send it to Washington as part of his application for a pension, he was unwilling to part with it. His employer, the Stockbridge lawyer Thedore Sedgwick, wrote on Hull's behalf, explaining that Hull "had rather forego the pension than lose the discharge." After the war, Hull had returned to Stockbridge and gone to work for Theodore Sedgwick as his manservant. Now a member of Congress, Sedgwick had represented Elizabeth Freeman, who had successfully sued for her freedom under the state's new constitution, and he helped gain the freedom of another local slave woman, Jane Darby, who became Hull's wife.
In 1844 the historian Francis Parkman visited Hull and recorded in his journal that "the old patriarch . . . looked on himself as father to all Stockbridge." Agrippa Hull died in 1848 at the age of 89. A portrait of him, showing a dignified elderly gentleman, hangs in the Stockbridge Public Library.

The Black Presence in the Era of the American Revolution 1770-1800, by Sidney Kaplan (New York Graphic Society and the Smithsonian Institution Press, 1973).

The Negro in the American Revolution, by Benjamin Quarles (University of North Carolina Press, 1961).

Rough Crossings: Britain, the Slaves and the American Revolution, by Simon Schama (Ecco, 2006).