the new york times

Flick Friday: Captain Eddie 1945

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Captain Eddie IMDB Image One
Image Credit: IMDB & Amazon

Seventy-five years ago, today, the drama film Captain Eddie was released. Directed by Lloyd Bacon and produced by Winfield Sheehan, it starred Fred MacMurray, Lynn Bari, Charles Bickford, Thomas Mitchell and Lloyd Nolan. Based on Seven Came Through (by Eddie Rickenbacker) and We Thought We Heard The Angels Sing (by James Whittaker), John Tucker Battle wrote/adapted the screenplay. A biopic of Rickenbacker, it reflects his experiences as a flying ace during World War I to his later involvement as a pioneering figure in civil aviation.

Plot/Summary:

In World War II, while serving as a United States Army Air Forces officer, famed World War I pilot Eddie Rickenbacker (Fred MacMurray) is assigned to tour South Pacific bases. On October 21, 1942, his Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress has to ditch at sea, forcing Rickenbacker, pilot Lt. James Whittaker (Lloyd Nolan), co-pilot Capt. Bill Cherry (Richard Crane) and other crew members to survive for 19 days on a tiny rubber raft. While awaiting their rescue, Rickenbacker recalls his other adventures that have highlighted a remarkable life.

Full Synopsis (TCM)

Captain Eddie IMDB Image Two
Image Credit: IMDB & Amazon

Review:

It seems as though someone is kidding…kidding in more ways than one. For Captain Eddie, which came yesterday to the Roxy, is not the story it promises to be of Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker, ace of World War I and commercial airline executive who holds some rather rigid social views. Nor is it precisely the saga of the middle-aged flier who was lost at sea two years ago in the South Pacific and spent three harrowing weeks on a raft. It is just another sentimental comedy about a kid who jumped off the barn in his youthful passion for flying and courted his girl in a merry Oldsmobile. [This] is not the story of Rickenbacker…not the significant story, anyhow.

Bosley Crowther
The New York Times
August 9, 1945

Trivia Bits:
♦ Crash survivor Lt. James Whittaker was […] temporarily assigned to the production to serve as a technical advisor.
♦ The film’s premiere was held in Rickenbacker’s hometown of Columbus, Ohio. In attendance were politicians and celebrities, including Carole Landis, as well as family members.

Nomination:
Best Special Effects (Academy Awards 1946)

I can’t find a trailer to the movie on YouTube but, the entire movie appears to be uploaded in pieces. I did find this. ~Vic

Military Monday: The Burning of Gosport Navy Yard 1861

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Gosport Navy Yard Image One
Destruction of the Gosport Navy Yard by Union forces.
Image Credit: M. W. Robbins Collection &
The Virginian-Pilot
pilotonline.com

I haven’t done a Military Monday since 2018. One-hundred, fifty-nine years ago, today…~Vic

In 1861, Virginia joined the Confederate States of America. Fearing that the Confederacy would take control of the [Navy yard] facility, the shipyard commander Charles Stewart McCauley ordered the burning of the shipyard.

*************
[The USS Pawnee was] dispatched to Norfolk to secure the ships and stores of the Gosport Navy Yard. Arriving at Norfolk the night of [April 20], she found that all ships, save [the] USS Cumberland, had been scuttled […]. [So], an attempt was made to destroy the Naval stores and the dry dock. Their efforts were largely unsuccessful but, she took Cumberland in tow and saved the frigate.

*************
On Saturday evening, at 9 o’clock, the Pawnee arrived from Washington with 200 volunteers, and 100 marines, besides her own crew […]. [At] once, the officers and crew of the Pawnee and Cumberland went to the Navy yard and, spiked and disabled the guns, [plus], threw the shot and small arms into the river. At 10 o’clock, the marines, who had been quartered in the barracks, fired them and came on board the Pawnee. A party of officers, [in the] meantime, were going through the different buildings and ships, distributing waste and turpentine, and laying a train, so as to blow up the dry dock. At this time, the scene was indescribably magnificent, all the buildings being in a blaze, and explosions, here and there, scattering the cinders in all directions.

The Government vessels had been scuttled in the afternoon before the Pawnee arrived, to prevent their being seized by the Secessionists, who had been in arms in both Norfolk and Portsmouth.

The Merrimack/Virgina Image Two
The Merrimack Conversion
Image Credit: M. W. Robbins Collection &
The Virginian-Pilot
pilotonline.com

The Confederate forces did, in fact, take over the shipyard and did so without armed conflict through an elaborate ruse orchestrated by civilian railroad builder William Mahone (then President of the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad and soon to become a famous Confederate officer). He bluffed the Federal troops into abandoning the shipyard in Portsmouth by running a single passenger train into Norfolk with great noise and whistle-blowing […]. [T]hen, much more quietly, [he sent] it back west […]. [He returned] the same train, again, creating the illusion of large numbers of arriving troops [with] the Federals listening in Portsmouth across the Elizabeth River (and just barely out of sight).

*************
[In] July, Confederate shipyard workers begin converting the unburned underbelly of the USS Merrimack into the ironclad CSS Virginia in Drydock 1.

Sources:
Burning of Gosport Navy Yard (The New York Times)
The History of Norfolk Naval Shipyard (The Virginian-Pilot Online)
This Day in Naval History (US Navy Website)
How Fear, Deception and Indecision Nearly Destroyed Norfolk Naval Shipyard (USN History)
Norfolk Naval Shipyard (Wikipedia)

Clip from Hearts in Bondage (1936)

Movie Monday: The Sporting Venus 1925

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The Sporting Venus Image One
Image Credit: Mike Cline’s Then Playing Blog

Ninety-five years ago, today, the silent, black & white romance film The Sporting Venus was released by MGM. Directed by Marshall Neilan, story by Gerald Beaumont and screenplay by Thomas J. Geraghty, it was filmed at Cortachy Castle in Angus, Scotland and, MGM Studios. It starred Blanche Sweet (Neilan’s wife), Ronald Coleman, Lew Cody, Josephine Crowell and Edward Martindel. This was the first of two movies paring Sweet with Coleman.

Synopsis:

Lady Gwen, the last of the sporting Grayles, falls in love with Donald MacAllan, a bright young medical student far below her station. Gwen’s father, who opposes the match, introduces her to Prince Carlos, who wishes to marry her in order to pay off his creditors.

The Sporting Venus Image One
Photo Credit: imdb.com & amazon.com

Donald enlists during the World War and Carlos continues his courtship. When Donald returns from the fighting, Carlos tells him that he is engaged to Gwen and Donald, therefore, makes no attempt to see her. Gwen mistakes Donald’s seeming indifference for contempt and seeks to forget him by living riotously in several European capitals. Having exhausted her fortune, and ruined her health, Gwen returns to Scotland and goes to live in the same cottage where Donald used to study. She becomes ill and, in delirium, calls for Donald. Her old nurse goes to fetch him at the Grayle estate, which, having become wealthy, he has just bought. Donald rescues Gwen, who has wandered out in a storm, and nurses her back to health.

The Screen Review:

A Hollywood conception of Scotsmen who wear the kilt but, whose complexions betray nary a sign of the ruddy ruggedness due to Highland rain and wind, is to be seen at the Capitol this week in a picture called “The Sporting Venus” […]. [There] is a question [of] whether the Wallaces, the Bruces, the Watts and the McTavishes will smile with any satisfaction upon it. Not that they are intentionally maligned in this story but, that the men from the land of the heather are portrayed with studio-blanched complexions and, in one or two instances, wearing brocaded silk dressing gowns.

Ronald Coleman Image Two
Photo Credit: Ronald Coleman Gallery

Marshall Neilan, the director of this celluloid effusion, in his desire to depict Lady Grayle (Blanche Sweet) as a plucky person at the eleventh hour of a fast life, shows her ladyship smoking a cigarette before she breathes her last. Ronald Colman is undoubtedly a bonnie actor but, you just know that he never was born to wear a kilt, [though], he does for a few scenes. He impersonates Donald McAllen, frequently alluded to as a commoner.

Donald and the capricious lassie, Lady Gwendolyn, are happy in Scotland until the coming of Prince Carlos […]. This Prince, played by Lew Cody, is a man of many debts and a faithful valet. His creditors see only one way to get back their money and that is to have the oily gentleman marry a wealthy wife. Donald goes to France to fight, and when he returns on leave, [believes] the Prince’s story […] that [he], more or less, is to wed Lady Gwendolyn.

Lady Gwendolyn […] becomes […] a flighty young woman who gambles in millions. The young hero goes back to France, and as a surgeon, makes a great name for himself. He purchases Grayloch, the great estate of the Grayles.

With the background of Scotland, Mr. Neilan ought to have been able to make a production far stronger than this effort, which, at best, is only a mediocre diversion. It is true that it has some beautiful scenery and the settings are quite pleasing.

Mordaunt Hall
The New York Times
May 11, 1925

This film survived but, I can’t find any clips of it. Silent Era states that a premiere took place on May 10, 1925, at the Capitol Theatre in New York City and was released May 17, 1925. AFI disagrees. ~Vic

Sources:
The Sporting Venus (American Film Institute)
The Sporting Venus (IMDB)
Gentleman of the Cinema (Ronald Coleman Website)
The Screen (The New York Times)
The Sporting Venus (Wikipedia)

Flashback Friday: Altamont Concert 1969

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Grace Slick Image Three
Grace Slick
Photo Credit: Bill Owens

[Note: I originally posted this, yesterday, just before midnight. In researching the data, I stumbled across Bill Owens, a photographer that was at Altamont. He was hired by the Associated Press to cover the concert. I emailed him, reference the two photos of his I posted. I hit ‘publish’ before I found his contact page and statement about photos for sale. In my haste to get this up while it was still Friday, I jumped the gun and quickly made the post private. I asked Bill what the price would be to use two of his pictures. As a photographer myself, I understand copyright issues but, I also recognize the gray area that many a blogger operate in, in the blogosphere….Fair Use (link on that, below). Anyway, this very kind gentleman has allowed my one-time use for this 50th anniversary post. He also provided me with a copy of an interview, conducted by Tony D’Souza in April 2019, covering his Altamont experience and other questions regarding his career. I will post an excerpt and attach the full interview, below. ~Vic]

Fifty years, ago, today, a free rock concert was held at the Altamont Speedway in Tracy, California. Described as “rock and roll’s all-time worst day, […], a day when everything went perfectly wrong“, the event saw violence and four deaths, the most notable being the stabbing of Meredith Hunter.

The concert featured (in order of appearance): Santana, Jefferson Airplane, The Flying Burrito Brothers and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, with the Rolling Stones taking the stage as the final act. The Grateful Dead were also scheduled to perform following CSNY but, declined to play shortly before their scheduled appearance due to the increasing violence at the venue.

Approximately 300,000 attended the concert, and some anticipated that it would be a “Woodstock [West Coast verson]”. Woodstock was held in Bethel, New York, in mid-August, less than four months earlier. Filmmakers Albert and David Maysles shot footage of the event and incorporated it into the 1970 documentary film titled Gimme Shelter.

[Source]

Naked Guy Image Two
The naked guy.
Photo Credit: Bill Owens

[It’s] not every day that a rock and roll band’s performance, let alone the Rolling Stones’, is accompanied by a knifing, stomping murder within a scream of the stage.

“The violence,” Keith Richard told the London Evening Standard, “just in front of the stage was incredible. Looking back, I don’t think it was a good idea to have [Hells] Angels there. But, we had them at the suggestion of the Grateful Dead. The trouble is, it’s a problem for us either way. If you don’t have them to work for you as stewards, they come, anyway and cause trouble. But, to be fair, out of the whole 300 Angels working as stewards, the vast majority did what they were supposed to do, which was to regulate the crowds as much as possible without causing any trouble. But, there were about ten or twenty who were completely out of their minds…trying to drive their motorcycles through the middle of the crowds.”

The Maysles Brothers, the film company which had shot the whole Stones’ tour, complete with its violent climax at Altamont, had gotten some remarkable footage of Hunter’s killing.

[Source]

Robert Hiatt, a medical resident at the Public Health Hospital in San Francisco, was the first doctor to reach 18-year-old Meredith Hunter after the fatal wounds. He was behind the stage and responded to Jagger’s call from the stage for a doctor. When Hiatt got to the scene, people were trying to get Hunter up on the stage, apparently in the hope that the Stones would stop playing and help could get through quicker.

The Stones & The Hells Angels Image
Stones on stage with Hells Angels.
Photo Credit: allthatsinteresting.com

Three others […] died (two in a hit-and-run accident, another by drowning) and, countless more were injured and wounded during the course of this daylong “free” concert. It was such a bad trip that it was almost perfect. All it lacked was mass rioting and the murder of one or more musicians.

All these things happened, and worse. Altamont was the product of diabolical egotism, hype, ineptitude, money manipulation and, at base, a fundamental lack of concern for humanity.

[Source]

Interview with Bill Owens:
bill@billowens.com
Bill Owens: Altamont 1969 (Amazon)
50 Years After Altamont: The End of the 60s (The New York Times April 15, 2019)

Bill Owens took iconic photos of the Hells Angels beating concertgoers with pool cue sticks at the Rolling Stones’ performance during the Altamont Speedway Free Festival four months after Woodstock on December 6, 1969. Altamont, which included violence almost all day and one stabbing death, is considered by historians as the end of the Summer of Love and the overall 1960’s youth ethos. This series of photos include panoramas of the massive, unruly crowd, Grace Slick and Carlos Santana on stage with the press of humanity so close in, they’re clearly performing under duress.

Of that day, Owens has written: “I got a call from a friend, she said the Associated Press wanted to hire me for a day to cover a rock and roll concert. I road my motorcycle to the event. I had two Nikons, three lenses, thirteen rolls of film, a sandwich, and a jar of water.”

Owens was so fearful of retribution by the Hells Angels that he published the photos under pseudonyms. Some of the negatives were later stolen…Owens believes by the Angels. He continues to have conflicted feelings about Altamont. He had no interest in violence and took no pride in photographing it.

In 1972, Owens released a book of black and white photography called Suburbia, also, now, an American icon. Irascible, stubborn, funny, grouchy, ornery and deeply rooted in small town life, Owens is built like a middleweight puncher and wears his hair as though he was a Marine. Indeed, Owens was never a hippie but, a clean-cut newspaper photographer, husband and father, who joined the Peace Corps to serve his country and “do good.” Turning 80 this September, Owens has also had noted careers as a craft beer brewer and pub owner, a magazine publisher many times over and, is now a distiller. His books include Suburbia, Working, Leisure and many others. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim and two NEAs. His work is collected in leading museums the world over, including the Smithsonian. Recent coverage of Owens includes an April retrospective in the New York Times (link above) of his Altamont photos for the event’s impending 50th anniversary. The photos are available for viewing at Owens’ website (link above and below).

I first met Owens at the defunct Rostel Gallery in remote and far northern Dunsmuir, CA, in late August or early September of 2008 (I remember because my daughter had just been born and the event was the first outing of her life), where they were showing images from Suburbia. These are images of people embarking on a new, modern way of life that they look excited by, but also confused, as though technology and the modish styles of the time were costumes they were still getting comfortable in. Owens’ photograph of a young suburban boy wearing cowboy boots, carrying a toy rifle and riding a Big Wheel, “Ritchie,” has always haunted me, though I couldn’t say precisely why.

Continue reading the interview HERE (PDF)

Set List
Death of Meredith Hunter
Reactions
Let It Bleed (Rolling Stone Magazine January 21, 1970)
Rock & Roll’s Worst Day (Rolling Stone Magazine February 7, 1970)
Altamont Rock Festival: ’60s Abruptly End (Livermore History March/April 2010)
Altamont Rock Festival of 1969: The Aftermath (Livermore History January/February 2011)
Biggest Rock Concert Ends (The Bulletin December 8, 1969)
Bill Owens Site (Associated Press Photographer at Altamont)
Ruling On Fair Use (American Photography May 3, 2019)


 

Music Monday: Pearl Jam 1994

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Pearl Jam Image One
Photo Credit: vinylthriftchaser.wordpress.com

Twenty-five years ago, this week (November 19/25, 1994), the song Spin the Black Circle by Pearl Jam debuted on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart (Page 79/ called Album Rock Tracks in 1994), entering at #16 (also its peak). Released November 8, it was the first single from their third album Vitalogy. Produced by Brendan O’ Brien, it was written by Eddie Vedder and Stone Gossard.

Mike McCready had difficulty with the leads and Jeff Ament didn’t like the punk sound at the time. Per Vedder, the lyrics reflect a love of vinyl records but, there could be interpretations of similarities with drug addiction.

From Jon Pareles with The New York Times (December 4, 1994):

The most [Vedder] will do is proselytize against the extinction of the LP, as he does in “Spin the Black Circle,” one of the few songs from Seattle in which a needle has nothing to do with heroin.

From Al Weisel with Rolling Stone (December 15, 1994):

Vitalogy has a number of gripping songs that match the soaring anthems of Ten. The first three tracks are a promising start: “Last Exit,” “Not for You” and especially “Spin the Black Circle,” a revvedup thrash tribute to vinyl, rock harder than anything Pearl Jam have ever done.

Pearl Jam Image Two
Image Credit: pinterest.com

From David Browne with Entertainment Weekly (December 9, 1994):

Pearl Jam still hasn’t developed an individual style to match that of its profoundly uptight singer, Eddie Vedder. Guitarists Stone Gossard and Mike McCready continue to play sloppy, characterless riffs. [T]heir punk song, ”Spin the Black Circle,” is a little flabby, like dinosaur rockers trying to prove they’re into Green Day.

The song peaked at #18 November 26 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was the first Pearl Jam single to enter this chart. It also peaked at #11 on the Billboard Alternative chart (called Modern Rock Tracks in 1994). It peaked in the top five in Australia, New Zealand and Norway.

The single won Best Hard Rock Performance at the 38th annual Grammy Awards. Vedder famously remarked:

I don’t know what this means. I don’t think it means anything.


 
Lyrics (From LyricFind)
See this needle
Oh see my hand
Drop, drop, dropping it down
oh so gently
here it comes
touch the flame
Turn me up
won’t turn you away

Spin, spin
spin the black circle
Spin, spin
spin the black, spin the black
Spin, spin
spin the black circle
Spin, spin
whoa

Pull it out
a paper sleeve
Oh my joy
only you deserve conceit
Oh I’m so big
and my whole world
I’d rather you
rather you, than her

Spin, spin
spin the black circle
Spin, spin
spin the black, spin the black
Spin, spin
spin the black circle
Spin, spin
whoa

Oh you’re so warm
oh, the ritual
as I lay down your crooked arm

Spin, spin
spin the black circle
Spin, spin
spin the black, spin the black
Spin, spin
spin the black circle
Spin, spin

[Repeat: x5]
Spin the black

circle

Spin the black circle
Spin the black circle

TV Tuesday: Robert Goulet Variety Show 1964

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Robert Goulet Image
Photo Credit: thefamouspeople.com

Fifty-five years ago, today, the TV Special An Hour With Robert Goulet, a variety show, aired on CBS. Directed by Clark Jones (The Carol Burnett Show) and written by Arthur Alsberg (Herbie, the Love Bug & No Deposit, No Return), guest stars were Leslie Caron, Peter Gennaro, Phil Silvers, Ed Sullivan, Terry-Thomas, Fredd Wayne and Earl Wilson.

There is very little written about this special, save a New York Times Article, written the next day (No writer credited):

ONE of the tiredest gimmicks of variety shows was coupled last night with a fresh idea on “The Robert Goulet Hour.” When the tenor turned his profile toward the sun on a southern California beach and a light wind ruffled his perfectly groomed hair as he sang “Lost in the Stars,” his program consciously aimed for the creative touch. Few singers are willing to compete with the Pacific Ocean.

But when Mr. Goulet was on the sound stage of C.B.S. Television City in Hollywood, he was engulfed in that shopworn gag of pretending to be rehearsing a musical special for TV. Leslie Caron joined him in “Call Me Irresponsible” and then said “no,” she simply would not sing on his show. Peter Gennaro demonstrated a possible dance step and Fredd Wynne [sic] agonized over material for Mr. Goulet and sketches for Miss Caron. Even the ad‐libs were planned.

Visiting the University of California at Los Angeles, Mr. Goulet and company held a press conference for tanned Tammys and Gidgets, who watched Terry‐Thomas mug shamelessly as a fine arty professor. The atypical students acted like graduates of the Hollywood Professional School.

When the script permitted Mr. Goulet to forget the script, his show had possibilities. Still, the evening’s honors must go to Miss Caron, who, impersbnating [sic] Marlene Dietrich as the Blue Angel, tackled a chair with the finesse of an Olympic champion.

IMDB states that it was filmed at the Wilshire Boulevard Brown Derby. The second video, below, appears to be from a Robert Goulet channel that was set up by his widow, Vera Novak. Written below the video:

Robert Goulet Live From Sahara Hotel In Las Vegas was filmed as part of “An Hour With Robert Goulet” TV special in 1964 and produced by our company Rogo Productions, Inc. This is a rare gem and wonderful historical footage of a remarkable entertainer showcasing live entertainment in Las Vegas during 1960s. In this clip, Robert sings a “Medley Of Old Songs” written by Jerry Bresler and Lyn Duddy, which was also recorded in 1963 on Columbia RecordsRobert Goulet in Person“.

Vera Goulet

Official Website


 

Music Monday: TLC 1994

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TLC Image One
Image Credit: hellogiggles.com

Twenty-five years ago, this week, the song Creep by TLC debuted on the Billboard Hot 100, entering the chart at #71. Written and produced by Dallas Austin, it was the first single released from their second studio album CrazySexyCool. It is based on member Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins‘s experience with infidelity. The lyrics portray the singers as women who cheat on their unfaithful lovers for attention.

You’re with a guy and he’s not showing you attention, so another guy comes along and you’re like, “Hey, if you were where you were supposed to be, he couldn’t be showing me attention right now!” I was in the middle of this drama, because the other guy was [my boyfriend’s] friend and my boyfriend was just not getting it together.

[From T-Boz]

The idea was controversial. [M]ember Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes was opposed to it. She threatened to wear black tape over her mouth in the song’s music video to express her disagreement with its message, and its selection as CrazySexyCool’s lead single, [in] part because of the group’s history of advocating for safe sex.

The women sing about infidelity, revenge, status and power plays, not as victims but as contenders. [W]hen they’re cheated on, they cheat, too.

[From Jon Parales @ The New York Times, advocating for the concept.]

TLC Image Two
Photo Credit: leilanisays.wordpress.com

The song made it to #1 and remained for four weeks. It also made it to #1 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop chart and the Billboard Rhythmic chart.

Lisa Lopes passed away April 25, 2002, from injuries in a car crash. She was 30 years old.

[I have to confess that I have never heard this song. The middle 90s was the time I stopped listening to Top 40 and moved to Alternative Rock stations. ~Vic]

Accolades
Legacy
Cover Versions


 

Lyrics via LyricFind:
(Creep) oh ah, oh ah, oh ah yeah,
(Creep) oh ah, oh ah, oh ah yeah,

(Creep) oh ah, oh ah, oh ah yeah,
(Creep) oh ah, oh ah, oh ah yeah,

The twenty second of loneliness
And we’ve been through so many things.
I love my man with all honesty,
But I know he’s cheating on me.
Look him in the eyes,
But all he tells me is lies to keep me near.

I’ll never leave him down though I might mess around.
It’s only ’cause I need some affection, oh.
So I creep, yeah, just creepin’ on,
On the down low, ‘cept nobody is supposed to know.
So I creep yeah, ’cause he doesn’t know what I do
And no attention goes to show oh.

So I creep.
The twenty third of loneliness
And we don’t talk, like we used to do.
Now this is pretty strange,
But I’m not buggin’ ’cause I still feel the same.
I Keep giving loving till the day he pushes me away.
Never go a stray.

If he knew the things I did, he couldn’t handle me.
And I choose to keep him protected, oh.
So I creep, yeah, just creepin’ on,
But I’ll know. ‘cept nobody is supposed to know.
So I creep, yeah, ’cause he doesn’t know what I do,
And no attention goes to show oh.

So I creep, yeah, just creepin’ on,
But I’ll know. ‘cept nobody is supposed to know.
So I creep, yeah, ’cause he doesn’t know what I do,
And no attention goes to show.

So I creep, oh ah, oh ah, oh ah yeah
So I creep, oh ah, oh ah, oh ah yeah
So I creep, oh ah, oh ah, oh ah yeah
Baby, oh ah, oh ah, oh ah yeah

So I creep, yeah, just creepin’ on,
But I’ll know.

So I creep, yeah, ’cause he doesn’t know what I do,
And no attention goes to show.
So I creep, yeah, just creepin’ on,
But I’ll know.
So I creep, yeah, ’cause he doesn’t know what I do,
So I creep, ‘cept nobody is supposed to know.

Flashback Friday: Disco Demolition Death 1979

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Disco Demolition Image One
Photo Credit: dailyherald.com

Forty years ago, today, the Disco Demolition took place at Chicago’s Comiskey Park. What started out as a baseball promotion turned into a mêlée that damaged the field.

[..] disco didn’t quite die a natural death by collapsing under its own weight. Instead, it was killed by a public backlash that reached its peak on this day in 1979 […]. That incident, which led to at least nine injuries, 39 arrests and, the cancellation and forfeit of a Major League Baseball game, is widely credited […] or, blamed for […] dealing disco its death blow.

The event was the brainchild of Steve Dahl and Garry Meier, popular disk jockeys on Chicago’s WLUP “The Loop” FM. […] many […] rock DJs were displaced by disco [but], only Dahl was inspired to launch a semi-comic vendetta aimed at “the eradication and elimination of the dreaded musical disease.”

On May 2, the rainout of a game between the Chicago White Sox and the Detroit Tigers led to the scheduling of a doubleheader on July 12. Dahl and Meier approached the White Sox with a rather unorthodox idea for an attendance-boosting promotion […]. […] allow Dahl to blow up a dumpster full of disco records between games of the doubleheader. White Sox executive Mike Veeck embraced the idea […].

[…] organizers […] grossly [underestimated] the appeal of the 98-cent discount tickets offered to anyone who brought a disco record to the park to add to the explosive-rigged dumpster. WLUP and the White Sox expected perhaps 5,000 more fans than the average draw of 15,000 or so […]. What they got, instead, was a raucous sellout crowd of 40,000+ and an even more raucous overflow crowd of as many as 40,000 more outside on Shields Avenue.

What followed was utter chaos, as fans by the thousands stormed the field, […] began to wreak havoc, shimmying up the foul poles, tearing up the grass and lighting vinyl bonfires on the diamond while the stadium scoreboard implored them to return to their seats. Conditions were judged too dangerous for the scheduled game to begin and the Detroit Tigers were awarded a win by forfeit.

[Source]

Disco Demolition Image Two
Photo Credit: wbbm780.radio.com

In the weeks before the event, Dahl invited his listeners to bring records they wanted to see destroyed to Comiskey Park. Owner Bill Veeck was concerned the promotion might become a disaster […]. His fears were substantiated when he saw the people walking towards the ballpark that afternoon. […] many carried signs that described disco in profane terms.

Some leapt turnstiles, climbed fences and entered through open windows. Attendees were supposed to deposit their records into a large box [but], once the box was overflowing, many people brought their discs to their seats. Many of the records were not collected by staff and were thrown like flying discs from the stands. Tigers designated hitter Rusty Staub remembered that the records would slice through the air and land sticking out of the ground. He urged teammates to wear batting helmets when playing their positions. “It wasn’t just one, it was many. Oh, God almighty, I’ve never seen anything so dangerous in my life.” Attendees also threw firecrackers, empty liquor bottles and lighters onto the field. The game was stopped several times because of the rain of foreign objects.

Dozens of hand-painted banners with such slogans as “Disco Sucks” were hung from the ballpark’s seating decks. Dahl set off the explosives, destroying the records and tearing a large hole in the outfield grass. […] the first of 5,000 to 7,000 attendees rushed onto the field […]. The batting cage was destroyed and, the bases were pulled up and stolen. Among those taking to the field was 21-year-old aspiring actor Michael Clarke Duncan […]. Duncan slid into third base, had a silver belt buckle stolen and went home with a bat from the dugout. Some attendees danced in circles around the burning vinyl shards.

Chicago police in full riot gear arrived (9:08pm) to the applause of the baseball fans remaining in the stands. Those on the field hastily dispersed upon seeing the police. Tigers manager Sparky Anderson refused to allow his players to take the field […] due to safety concerns. Anderson […] demanded that the game be forfeited to the Tigers. He argued that, under baseball’s rules, a game can only be postponed due to an Act of God, and that, as the home team, the White Sox were responsible for field conditions.

Disco Demolition Image Three
DJ Steve Dahl
Photo Credit: npr.org

Cultural Significance

NPR Article

Daily Herald Article

Chicago Sun-Times Article

New York Times Article

Movie Monday: Being Respectable 1924

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Being Respectable Image One
Lobby Card
Image Credits: wikipedia.org & Warner Brothers

Ninety-five years ago, today, the silent drama Being Respectable was released. Based on the novel of the same name written by Grace Flandrau, it was adapted by Dorothy Farnum. Directed by Phil Rosen, it starred Marie Prevost, Monte Blue, Louise Fazenda, Irene Rich, Theodore von Eltz, Frank Currier, Eulalie Jensen, Lila Leslie, Sidney Bracey and Charles French.

Being Respectable Image Two
Photo Credit: imdb.com

Synopses:

Wealthy young Charles Carpenter is pressured by his family to marry Suzanne, even though he is really in love with young “flapper” Valerie. He gives in to his family’s pressure, however and marries Suzanne, after which Valerie leaves town. Years later, after Charles and Suzanne have had a child, Valerie comes back to town and, Charles realizes he is still in love with her…and she with him. Complications ensue. [Source]

Through the scheming of his respectable, and wealthy family, Charles Carpenter is obliged to marry Suzanne, although he is in love with young flapper Valerie Winship. Years later, when Valerie is back in town, they renew the affair and, Carpenter plans to leave his wife and child for her. […] in the end, he yields to family duty and respectability. [Source]

New York Times Review [August 4, 1924]

I could not find any video clips of this movie. ~Vic

Movie Monday: Blazing Saddles 1974

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Blazing Saddles Image One
Image Credit: imdb.com

Forty-five years ago, today, the most popular film at the box office was Blazing Saddles, a satirical Mel Brooks-directed western starring Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder, Slim Pickens, Harvey Korman, Madeline Kahn, Mel Brooks (three on-screen characters), Alex Karras, David Huddleston, John Hillerman, Dom DeLuise, Count Basie (as himself), Rodney Allen Rippy (as a young Bart), with uncredited appearances by Anne Bancroft, Aneta Corsaut (Helen Crump) and Patrick Labyorteaux (JAG TV series). Released February 7, it was produced by Michael Hertzberg and based on a story by Andrew Bergman. Bergman collaborated with Brooks, Richard Pryor, Norman Steinberg and Al Uger to craft the screenplay and, John Morris (The Woman in Red & Dirty Dancing) was composer.

An IMDB Summary:

The Ultimate Western Spoof. A town where everyone seems to be named Johnson is in the way of the railroad. In order to grab their land, Hedley Lemar [sic] (Harvey Korman), a politically connected nasty person, sends in his henchmen to make the town unlivable. After the sheriff is killed, the town demands a new sheriff from the Governor (Mel Brooks). Hedley convinces him to send the town the first Black sheriff (Cleavon Little) in the west. Bart is a sophisticated urbanite who will have some difficulty winning over the townspeople.

Quotes:
From Vincent Canby (The New York Times):

“[…] comedies, like Mel Brooks’s “Blazing Saddles,” the best title of the year to date, are like Chinese food. A couple of hours later you wonder where it went. You wonder why you laughed as consistently as you did. [It] is every Western you’ve ever seen turned upside down and inside out, braced with a lot of low burlesque […]. The trouble is that [it] has no real center of gravity. Harvey Korman, a gifted comic actor who is so fine as Carol Burnett’s television co‐star, tries very hard to be funny as a crooked businessman and sometimes succeeds. But, it’s apparent that he’s hard put to keep up with the movie’s restless shifting from satire to parody to farce to blackout sketch. [It] has no dominant personality and, it looks as if it includes every gag thought up in every story conference. Whether good, bad or mild, nothing was thrown out.”

Blazing Saddles Image Two
Photo Credit: hollywoodreporter.com

From Roger Ebert:

“It’s a crazed grab bag of a movie that does everything to keep us laughing except hit us over the head with a rubber chicken. At its best, his comedy operates in areas so far removed from taste that (to coin his own expression) it rises below vulgarity. One of the hallmarks of Brooks’ movie humor has been his willingness to embrace excess.”

From Mel Brooks (Interview at Creative Screen Writing):

“The writing process on Blazing Saddles was the complete opposite of the writing process on Young Frankenstein. Blazing Saddles was more or less written in the middle of a drunken fistfight. There were five of us all yelling loudly for our ideas to be put into the movie. Not only was I the loudest but, luckily, I also had the right as director to decide what was in or out.”

Trivia Bits:
James Earl Jones was to be the original Sheriff. Richard Pryor was next in line but, the studio wouldn’t finance it due to Pryor’s background.
Gig Young was originally cast as the “Waco Kid” but, collapsed on set and was replaced with Wilder.
♦ Warner Bros. almost didn’t release the film. The executives thought it too vulgar for the American public.
♦ Governor William J. Le Petomane (Brooks) was a take-off on the stage name of a French Flatulist.

Nominated for three Academy Awards and two BAFTAs. It won three awards. Recognized by the American Film Institute, it is listed as #6 of the 100 funniest American films.

Tune Tuesday: The Beatles 1964

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The Beatles Image One
Photo Credit: moptoptours.com

Fifty-five years ago, today, the #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 chart was I Want to Hold Your Hand. Written by Paul McCartney and John Lennon, it was recorded October 17, 1963, at EMI Studios in London.

From The Beatles Dot Com:

[…] it was the first Beatles record to be made using four-track equipment. It was also the group’s first American number one, entering the Billboard Hot 100 chart on 18 January 1964 at number forty-five and starting the British Invasion of the American music industry.

The Beatles Image Two
Photo Credit: beatlephotoblog.com

From The Beatles Bible:

“A telegram came through to Brian from Capitol Records of America. He came running in to the room saying, ‘Hey, look. You are number one in America!’ I Want To Hold Your Hand had gone to number one. Well, I can’t describe our response. We all tried to climb onto Big Mal’s back to go round the hotel suite: ‘Wey-hey!’ And that was it, we didn’t come down for a week.”

~Paul McCartney

“It was such a buzz to find that it had gone to number one. We went out to dinner that evening with Brian and George Martin. George took us to a place which was a vault, with huge barrels of wine around. It was a restaurant and its theme was… well, the bread rolls were shaped like penises, the soup was served out of chamber pots and the chocolate ice cream was like a big turd. And, the waiter came ’round and tied garters on all the girls’ legs. I’ve seen some pictures of us. There is a photograph around of Brian with the pot on his head. It was a great feeling because we were booked to go to America directly after the Paris trip, so it was handy to have a number one. We’d already been hired by Ed Sullivan so, if it had been a number two or number ten we’d have gone anyway but, it was nice to have a number one. We did have three records out in America before this one. The others were on two different labels. It was only after all the publicity and the Beatlemania in Europe that Capitol Records decided, ‘Oh, we will have them.’ They put out I Want To Hold Your Hand as our first single but, in fact, it was our fourth.

~George Harrison

The Beatles Image Three
Image/Photo Credit: beatles.ncf.ca (Ottawa Beatles Site)
Los Angeles Times Article 02-10-1964 (left)
Ed Sullivan Show Shots 02-09-1964 (right)

From the Ottawa Journal:

Will We All Become Beatle Nuts?
Here’s What the Reviewers Say…

“Anyone who is not a teenage girl obviously is unqualified to comment on the sight of The Beatles in action. Heaven knows we’ve heard them enough. It has been impossible to get a radio weather bulletin or time signal without running into “I Want To Hold Your Hand.” And now, having seen the four performers on Ed Sullivan’s show Sunday night, Beatlemania is even more of a mystery to an elderly viewer.”

~Cynthia Lowry (Associated Press)

“It is now clear why President de Gaulle has been giving England such a hard time about the Common Market. He undoubtedly saw The Beatles and decided nothing doing. As you certainly know, America saw the four-member rock’n’roll British group live on television last night. Pandemonium reigned. Vive La France.”

~Rick DuBrow (United Press International)

“”You can tell right away its The Beatles and not anyone else,” is the opinion of a 15-year-old specialist on the topic who saw them on the Ed Sullivan show. The age of 15 (or 16, or 14 or 13) is essential in Beatle experts. And, so, taking the above axiom as gospel, an attempt was made to find out just what is musically unique about the English group that is now visiting our shores.”

~Theodore Strongin (The New York Times)

“It seems The Beatles came, sang and conquered…all that is but, the TV reviewers. Most of the time, these reviewers have real troubles finding something to write about. Ask them… When Elvis Presley first appeared on the popular musical scene and made his TV début, did they praise him? No. In fact, most beat singers who come under the TV reviewer’s eagle eye rarely receive a word of praise. It seems obvious the reviewers came to bury the teenage favorites and not to praise them. Again, the teenage taste has been mocked. As long as this superior feeling is put across, the younger generation will continue to make their idols…and won’t give a darn who likes them.”

~Sandy Gardiner (Ottawa Journal)

Though this song didn’t win any awards, The Beatles did receive The Best New Artist award at the 7th Annual Grammy Awards.

Lyrics:
Oh yeah, I’ll tell you something,
I think you’ll understand,
Then I’ll say that something,
I wanna hold your hand,
I wanna hold your hand,
I wanna hold your hand.
Oh please say to me
You’ll let me be your man,
And please say to me,
You’ll let me hold your hand,
Now let me hold your hand,
I wanna hold your hand.
And when I touch you
I feel happy inside,
It’s such a feeling
That my love I can’t hide,
I can’t hide, I can’t hide.
Yeah, you got that something,
I think you’ll understand,
When I feel that something,
I wanna hold your hand,
I wanna hold your hand,
I wanna hold your hand.
And when I touch you
I feel happy inside,
It’s such a feeling
That my love I can’t hide,
I can’t hide, I can’t hide.
Yeah, you got that something,
I think you’ll understand,
When I feel that something,
I wanna hold your hand,
I wanna hold your hand,
I wanna hold your hand.

Tune Tuesday: Eddie Cantor 1929

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Eddie Cantor Image
Image Credit: radziwill.us

Ninety years ago, today, the #1 song playing was Makin’ Whoopee, a jazzy-blues piece performed by Eddie Cantor from the Broadway musical comedy Whoopee! The musical was written by William Anthony McGuire, composed by Walter Donaldson (Carolina In The Morning & My Mammy), with lyrics by Gus Kahn (It Had To Be You & Dream A Little Dream Of Me). It was based on the 1923 play The Nervous Wreck by Owen Davis.

American Theatre critic Brooks Atkinson of The New York Times praised Cantor for:

“…a comedian of deftness and appealing humor. He is sad. He is preoccupied. He is apprehensive or insinuating with those floating eyes… In the past he has been funny, clever and ludicrous. But, he has never been so enjoyable.”

Of the music, he states:

“Walter Donaldson has composed an appropriate score worthy of better singing than it falls heir to.”

Apparently, Mr. Atkinson disliked Cantor’s singing ability.

The musical was made into a movie in 1930, also pre-code and Eddie Cantor reprised his role from the musical. There was also a 1979 Broadway revival that did very well.

Synopsis From Wikipedia:

In California, Sheriff Bob Wells and the daughter of a rancher, Sally Morgan, are getting married. She is in love with Wanenis, whose part-Indian heritage presents social difficulties for their romance. Sally abandons Sheriff Bob and their wedding, catching a ride with Henry Williams. As a hypochondriac, Henry has problems of his own but, Sally adds to his problems when she leaves a note saying they have eloped. A chase ensues with the jilted Bob, Mary, Henry’s nurse (who is in love with him) and a cast of others. Along the way, they arrive at the Indian Reservation where Wanenis lives. The movie star Leslie Daw enters the proceedings and sings the torchy, sentimental “Love Me, or Leave Me.”

Trivia Bits:
♦ Eddie Cantor invented the name The March of Dimes for the donation campaigns of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (polio), a play on the “March of Time” newsreels. He began the first campaign on his own radio show in January 1938, asking people to mail a dime to the nation’s most famous polio victim, President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Other entertainers joined in the appeal via their own shows and the White House mail room was deluged with 2,680,000 dimes.
♦ At one time, when the rights to The Wizard of Oz (1939) were owned by Samuel Goldwyn, Cantor was considered for the role of the Scarecrow. Goldwyn eventually sold the rights to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
♦ Quote: “Marriage is an attempt to solve problems together which you didn’t have when you were on your own.”

Five Awards