Archive

Archive for the ‘21st CENTURY’ Category

PASSING: PETE HAMILL, 1935-2020

August 5, 2020 1 comment

Pete Hamill has passed.

Mr. Hamill was a contemporary and real life friend of departed journalists Jimmy Breslin and Jack Newfield.

Mr. Hamill wrote for the DAILY NEWS, N.Y. POST, NEW YORK and the VILLAGE VOICE.

Mr. Hamill, like Mr. Breslin and Mr. Newfield, began as a sportswriter and wrote occasionally about sports for his entire writing career.

Indeed, my first recollection of reading Mr. Hamill was an article in SPORT magazine about AFL star Cookie Gilchrist wherein Mr. Gilchrist related his thought that the A.F.L. and  Canadian Football league were friendlier to black players than the N.F.L.

This was at Merrick Avenue Elementary School in 1966!

Mr. Hamill’s A DRINKING LIFE is a pinspot accurate account of alcohol’s delights and drawbacks.

I have definitely read over 1100 hours of Mr. Hamill’s writing.

It wasn’t’ enough.

 

 

 

 

CORONAVIRUS 4.0 Quarantine Stella Uno

July 23, 2020 2 comments

*”Life is full of road games.

CHANGE: Dorothy’s Costume Boutique, 1947-2020

June 26, 2020 3 comments

Dorothy’s Costume Boutique located at 190 Mass. Ave, NEVER Massachusetts Avenue, will be closing on June 30, 2020 after 73 years in business.

I stopped by to listen to Jon Diamond, the son of the founders about the history of this Fenway institution.  I am greeted by a cash register sprouting more buttons and levers than I can count. 

“Perhaps it is of World War II vintage? I ask Mr. Diamond?

“It is my grandparents.”

“When was this store founded?”

“My parents…

“Not a parent company …”

“Ha, ha.  Yes, my folks Dorothy and Harold.  It was kind of like Bernie and Phyl’s.  A family business.”

…Mexican sweaters, Afro wigs, digital watches…

“What was the original concept?”

“We were a millinery in the neighborhood.  Kind of an alternative to downtown.  We also had costume jewelry.”

…a dozen faceless, eyeless Styrofoam ovals peer down from a shelf just below the ceiling bedecked with a variety of headwear…

“So you were always alternative?”

Mr. Diamond looked over his shoulder while straightening out the necklaces perched precariously above the watches and laughed.

“One thing we’ve been able to do is retain our core business.”

“Yes, I can still see that you sell a lot of hats.”

“Yes, and we’ve branched out into other stuff.”

“That’s OK I can put back the makeup,” Jon said as 2 guests were leaving with a cart chock to the brim with hats, wigs and a cornucopia of theatrical makeup.

The gentleman dressed up with a COVID-19  mask with a Jolly Roger death’s head moved to the back where Jon and I stood and actually returned the merchandise!

“Yeah, I guess you could say that… Hey, please pay attention to the customers, puh-leaze,” said Mr. Diamond with the 1/2 grimace 1/2 smile used so often by folks engaged in the direct supervision of staff in customer service venues.

“What qualities do you look for in employees?”

“They have to be honest, energetic, learn the stock and be able to run a register.  You’ve gotta be able to engage with people all of the time with a smile and you can’t be too sensitive.  She, [Mr. Diamond gives a head nod], is a good worker but she gets upset too easily.  You can’t take things personally.  She’s been working here for 3 years and she just doesn’t talk with customers as much as she should.”

“When did you start working here?”

“I was in grade school.  I worked downstairs in stock and tagged merchandise.  My brother Rich worked here too.”

“What was the neighborhood like then?”

“Black.  This whole stretch of Mass. Ave. from Boylston all the way to the end of Mass. was black.”

“All of the real estate ads say ‘Back Bay’ now.  I used to live at 4 Symphony Rd. for $25 a week for a furnished room.  It seems the Fenway doesn’t even exist as a neighborhood.”

“Definitely, this was pre-gentrification.  A lot of what is now called the South End was called Roxbury for years.  Boylston Linen was next door and there was Symphony Deli…”

“Symphony Deli became Dixie Kitchen.”

You’ve got a good memory.  There was the Bostonian Market, which became City Sports.”

“What was your clientele like?

“Well, women looking for hats and costume jewelry.  And we always had neighborhood folks and Berklee, Conservatory and Northeastern students.  Black women came by for wigs.

We added theatrical make-up in 1985.”

“For the drag queens?”

“Ha ha.  Yes, and we had kids from the drama departments of the schools so we just expanded our inventory.

We’re a mid mark-up store.  We try to keep things affordable.

In 1988 we doubled the size of the store by taking over the Boylston Linen slot next door.”

“I’ve always come in even for just a few minutes to look at what have you and about once a month make a purchase.”

“Yes, we’ve always had neighborhood semi-regular customers.  That goes to what I’m talking about when I’m talking about our core.”

“You used to sell underwear and T-shirts.”

“Wife beaters..”

“You mean spousal disablers.”

“Ha ha.  Well A-shirts and socks.  The problem was that  street people would come in buy 1 and walk with one and we were spending all of our time watching them even when the underwear were tucked in the back so it got to where it wasn’t worth it.”

“So where do you get your stuff?”

“I buy a lot of close-outs in clothing and visit vintage store quite a bit.  For other stuff, [waving his hand around the store] I use specialty sales reps.  Facebook, Instagram, whatever.”

…fishnet stockings, stocking caps in June, devils and angels for Halloween…

“You know the very first time I was here was in my first summer here in the Fenway back in 1979.  I was across the street and I heard  disco coming from an open door so I walked across the street and looked in.  I couldn’t believe what I saw…a bunch of punks trying on dog collars and buying black bandanas.  Then I looked to the back of the room and saw Afro wigs.  I couldn’t believe it!”

Jon looked up from the sunglasses he was re-arranging and laughed.

“A lot of musical trends have been outfitted here you know with Berklee and this area once had a lot of musicians living here.

“My folks were involved until 1984.  I bought out Rich in 2007.”

“Who is the landlord here?”

“Christian Science has always been the landlord.  This building is from the 19th. century.  it is far from ‘green.’ 

“Is Christian Science a good landlord?”

Stepping out from behind the jewelry counter Jon grimaces.

“Well we’ve gone from $600 to $6000 in rent.”

“Is the building maintained?”

Jon gives me a sour look, gives a hand signal to the cashier on duty and takes a deep breath, “No, they do as little as possible.”

I have improved the building, which is not my job.  I added the awning in 2004 and in 2000 took out the lay-in ceiling and exposed the original ceiling which is a lot nicer.”

Indeed the pressed tin ceiling is a nice look.

“But now that they know we are leaving they let me out of the lease which ran until 2022.”

…camouflage jackets, ergonomic backpacks, Pride flags…

“You know on Halloween the line stretches around the corner.”

Jon straightens up from picking a piece of paper from the floor and smiles.

“Yes, ever since we doubled the size of the store it has only gotten bigger.  We have all kinds of costumes, toys, hats and just about whatever anyone could want for Halloween.

“I’ve seen you guys on TV.”

Jon says nothing but gives me his best fake smile…and I laugh!

…American flags, MAGA hats, Uncle Sam Hats…

“So, why are you closing?”

“It’s everything.  COVID-19, Amazon, no Red Sox.”

“Yeah, I remember when the Sox won you had Red Sox T’s in the window.”

“Definitely.  The Sox, Pats, when the Celtics and Bruins win, there is always a lot of interest. I always root for us to win a championship every year!

…I spy a dour Bill Belichick mask…

St. Patty’s is my 2nd. biggest holiday.  4/20, tourists in town buy Boston t-shirts all the time.  The Sox not playing has hurt us not just for the Sox but for foot traffic.

I have colored contact lenses I would be selling.  They are a hot product right now.”

“I know I’ve seen them at the club.

So is COVID-19 why you’re closing?”

“Yes, that and Amazon.  Once Amazon got on phones it got very tough.

COVID-19 is the big one.  I’m over 65 so I’m in the high risk group and with business the way it is.”

Jon shrugged his shoulders and gave a half smile.

“So what is the future?”

“Maybe I’ll open up a pop-up across the street.”

“One week a month!”

Jon and I laugh.

Many will miss Dorothy’s. 

I among them.

PASSING: Little Richard and Richard Penniman, December 5, 1932-May 9, 2020

June 13, 2020 1 comment

Little Richard/Richard Penniman passed on May 9, 2020 from bone cancer at his home in Tullahoma, Tennessee surrounded by his brother, sister and adopted son Danny Jones Penniman who gave the cause of death as bone cancer.

Little Richard came into my ears upon my Dad’s 1970 purchase of the Gallanter family’s Harmon Kardon Slimline AM-FM/Turntable/Cassette stereo.

WCBS FM 101 SOLID GOLD became my first choice of radio as the Rock & Roll Revival of that time had spawned a radio format.

I had heard of Little Richard…

…hearing him was a whole other thing. A screaming messianic yell  filled with what this 12 year-old was just figuring out was sexuality along with an evangelical intensity that I associated with my Mom’s Mahalia Jackson records.

“Rip It Up,” “The Girl Can’t Help It” and “Reddy Teddy” prompted my begging my folks for headphones so that I could hear Little Richard as loudly as possible.

So taken with Little Richard was I that my brother Peter purchased me FRIENDS FROM THE BEGINNING-LITTLE RICHARD AND JIMI HENDRIX an album that purported to be from Hendrix’ time as a sideman for Little Richard.

(Whether either Jimi or Richard is on this LP is argued at Wikipedia).

en.wikipedia.org>wiki>Friends-from-the-Beginning

(Boston proto punks Reddy Teddy took their name from “Reddy Teddy” as sung by Little Richard in THE GIRL CAN’T HELP IT).

On that note, listening to Little Richard’s singing of “The Girl Can’t Help It” with Bobby Troup’s lascivious lyrics while watching  Jayne Mansfield clutching 2 bottles of milk to her 2 bottles of milk brings the glory of repression to fruition!

https://youtu.be/W4XVKl4j1VA

Sylvester’s masculine femininity wouldn’t exist without Little Richard.

Ru Paul’s feminine masculinity wouldn’t exist without Little Richard.

Richard Penniman played piano for Little Richard.  To listen to “Lucille” is to hear the caffeinated left hand banging out rapid rhythm on 80 gauge strings over an enthusiastic snare while the right hand plinks dainty suggestions of melody.

“LOU…SEAL..UHHH,” with the last elongated syllable adding a scoop of beat to Little Richard’s full throat declaration and then the sax comes in with a sensual wail echoing and commenting on Little Richard’s voice,which is a saxophone while Richard Penniman hammers away.

By beginning “Lucille’s lyrics with the title Little Richard anticipated James Brown’s vocabulary template of funk.

Femme? Yes.

Soft? Never.

Little Richard’s chart run began in January, 1956 with “Tutti Fruitti,” and ended with “Good Molly Miss Molly” in February, 1958, per MusicVF.com perhaps not a long run by today’s standards but remember that this era was the the rise of rock & roll.

It is integral to Little Richard’s story to understand that America was on the cusp of the civil rights era.  “Cover version” referred to versions of R&R and R&B hits, “race records,” as they were called at the time, were remade over by white artists as retailers such as Sears Roebuck were loath to display records with black performers.   Indeed, Little Richard his own self proclaimed in LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL that “Pat Boone couldn’t move his mouth fast enough to get around “a wop bop a lu bop a bomp bam boom.”

Indeed, Pat Boone’s version went to #12 while Little Richard’s original went to #17 per MusicVF.com

Richard Penniman took over from Little Richard in October, 1957.

“That night Russia sent off that very first Sputnik.  It looked as though the big ball of fire came directly over the stadium about two or three hundred feet above our heads.  It shook my mind.  It really shook my mind.  I got up from the piano and said ‘This is it.  I am through.  I am leaving show business to go back to God.”

Richard Penniman enrolled in Oakwood College, (now Oakwood University), and became an ordained Minister of the 7th. Day Adventist faith.

In 1958 Little Richard formed the Little Richard Evangelistic Team that criss-crossed the South bringing 7th. Day Adventist faith and gospel music.

In 1959 Richard Penniman married Ernestine Campbell.

As recounted to biographer Charles White in The Life and Times of Little Richard: The Quasar of Rock; the 7th. Day Adventist faith “cured” Little Richard’s “contagious” homosexuality.

(This book will also tell you more than you could possibly want to know about Buddy Holly’s love life.  Not for the religious).

Richard Penniman was no more politically correct than Little Richard was correct.

1959 also brought Richard Penniman’s GOD is REAL LP.

The tension between the rock and roll sexual love of Little Richard and the gospel spiritual love of Richard Penniman love was to remain the dynamic for the rest both lives.

To see Little Richard discuss his faith and life as Richard Penniman this interview is very revealing .

https://youtu.be/OXldBnWFjB8

Richard Penniman had a certain machismo that shocked The Advocate in yet another twist in Richard Penniman’s challenge for the soul of Little Richard.

www.advocate.com..people.2017/10/06 “Little Richard, once Gay is Now Antigay-Again”

1961 brought his Mercury LP King of the Gospel Singers, produced by Quincy Jones no less, featuring Richard Penniman, billed as Little Richard singing the gospel classic [There Will Be] Peace in the Valley(For Me).  This is not similar to the version sung by Elvis on How Great Thou Art, but a more traditional rendition with a pipe organ behind Little Richard’s throaty tenor.

https://youtu.be/Ovz-98UAt80

Little Richard returned to rock in 1962, touring England and being watched and emulated by Paul McCartney as  Mr. McCartney relates in the Introduction to The Life and Times of Little Richard: The Quasar of Rock.

1964 brought the LP Little Richard is Back(and There’s A Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On) which slipped into obscurity. 

Little Richard’s time as a popular American  recording artist had passed.

Dedicated fans of Little Richard can enjoy his very swampy 1970 US hit #48, UK hit #27 “Freedom Blues”

https://youtube/zRNLyACJcSK

Indeed, England remained a vital market for Little Richard until the end of his performing career.

Richard Penniman continued to perform at 7th. Day Adventist churches on a regular basis adding straight up preaching to his gospel stylizations.

While Little Richard’s recording career had withered away his appeal as a live entertainer was about to skyrocket.

1973’s LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL movie showcased Little Richard performing as part of Richard Nader’s Rock & Roll Revival collated with footage of Little Richard performing in his 50’s heyday.

To see Little Richard fluffing his bouffant and proclaiming “Ooh, my soul,” in front of a mirror is to see a man who would be totally at home today.

By the filming of LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL Little Richard was performing in a flowing aquamarine caftan with trapezoids of mirrors affixed.

Little Richard’s drama queen persona was never in finer fettle than while chatting with manager Bump Blackwell in a limo on his way to a Rock n Roll Revival show, saying

“I was washing dishes in a Greyhound bus station in Macon, Georgia.  I was the only Jewish cat there.  Everyone else was colored.”

https://youtu.be/9vcGZdPxNBw

Humor aside Little Richard had most of his vocal range during his Rock n Roll Revival phase and the hyper dynamic left hand of Richard Penniman enabled all.

All through the 70s Little Richard was a staple guest of Dick Cavett on late night TV as the oldies radio format declined.

https//youtu.be/eSylFhKk8

Little Richard-Lucille and Lawdy Miss Clawdy (The Dick Cavett Show 1970).

  It is often offered that celebrities become “self parodies” but Richard’s makeup encrusted face seemed as natural as his appearance was unnatural.

The 70s also saw Little Richard drinking prodigiously and taking cocaine while performing up to 100 nights a year.

Richard Penniman remained in my mind when viewing the Cleophus Robinson show whose gospel enlivened my teen and Nassau Community College years.  When Al Green retired from popular music with the Belle LP’s  title pronouncement of “It’s you that I want, it’s Him that I need,” I wondered whether Little Richard had had such a thought and whether Richard Penniman had the LP.

Little Richard never really left my mind completely as his hysterical cameo in the 1986 movie DOWN AND OUT IN BEVERLY HILLS inspired my playing of “Lucille” as on the soundtrack of LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL.

Richard Penniman continued to wrestle with spirit and sex his entire life.  In 2017 telling GOD REPORTS, “If I had my life to do over again, I would be ‘Little Richard the Preacher,’ standing on street corners.”

At a certain age those who reached us at an early age pass.  On May 9, 2020 the passing of Little Richard prompted a digital wave of remembrances from rockers, critical evaluations of his musical legacy and lengthy treatises on Little Richard as a signifier of Afro-queerness.

It is Richard Penniman who has passed. His contradictions are now eased forever.

Little Richard?

A WOP BOP A LU BOMP A BOMP BAM BOOM!

SOURCES: 

MusicVF.com for chart positions. 

The Billboard Hot 100 as a combined chart of retail, jukebox and airplay began August, 1958.  MusicVF.com combines the previously separate Billboard charts and is the citation for all chart positions noted.

Little Richard, GOD IS REAL Peacock GOSPEL CLASSICS, 1959

http://www.amazon.com>God-Real-Little Richard

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF LITTLE RICHARD: THE QUASAR OF ROCK  Little Richard as told to Charles White. 1985. 269 pp. 33 B&W photos. New York

A chronological biography in the ‘as told to’ vein that recounts Little Richard’s rise to fame and the religious life of Richard Penniman.  Paul McCartney’s Introduction credits Little Richard with his ambition to become a musician.  Cool pix.  Available in the Boston Public Library.

God Reports

godreports.com.2017/10>little-richard-his-truth-frutti

LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL

https;//youtu.be/C90UuBWV8TS

A wonderful non-fiction film that includes wonderful performances, some not-so-wonderful performances and more than a little sadness.  Filmed at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y. and Cobo Hall, Detroit, MI.

http://www.bostongroupienews.com>ReddyTeddy

This website gives a short chronological history of the Boston proto-punk band that appropriated its name from Little Richard.

The Belle Album, Al Green, Hi, 1977

This was Reverend Al Green’s, now State Rep. TX/D, last secular L.P. of the 1970s.  The title track’s “It’s you that I want, it’s Him that I need,” sings the contradictions of Little Richard and Richard Penniman.

CORONAVIRUS 2.0: Quarantine Quintella

May 29, 2020 1 comment

*1  Strainer thingy in bathroom tub is clear of hair and shampoo residue.

*2  FRONTIERS: THE EPIC OF SOUTH AFRICA’S CREATION AND THE TRAGEDY OF THE XHOSA PEOPLE by Noel Mostert is a 1292 page tangled epic of England, the Dutch India Trading Company, Xhosa Khoikhoi, slave traders, anti-slavery missionaries, Boers, cattle and a catastrophic attempt at salvation by Xhosa tribal folk.  African history is all too rarely in the mainstream of American thought.  Recommended.

*3  Floyd’s Barbershop at 189 Mass. Ave; 617-236-4838; is now open by appointment only via phone or website.  No walk-ins and face coverings are required.  Standard cuts are $28 and specialty coloring and perming is not yet available.  Josh does good work.  Good hair days are back!

*4  Rats are visible here in the East Fens.  With the closing of Steve’s Pizza, and the Bebop and with Amelia’s Taqueria, Boston Burger Bar, Pad Thai Cafe, Boloco, Shah’s Kitchen and Subway offering only take-out and delivery the buffet of dumpsters underneath the 1076-1124 restaurant strip cannot support the rodent community.  Rats in search of entrees are visible as never before.  Darwinism is ugly.

*5  The NBA is a no go for the time being.  Commissioner Adam Silver and the NBAPA are attempting to set up a playoff format.  In the meantime, NBA TV offers replays of 1980-1981’s Game 7 of the Celts vs. Sixers Eastern Conference Final with players hitting the floor hard on every possession.  Young fans will be taken aback at the violence of the game 40 seasons ago.

Coronavirus: Quarantine Quintella

May 18, 2020 1 comment

*1  Strainer thingy in kitchen sink drain is clean from broccoli florets, pita bread crumbs and other detritus.

*2  52 PICKUP by Elmore Leonard is a swell read.  Elmore Leonard has written 2 kinds of books; the great, SPLIT IMAGES, and the very good; 52 PICKUP.  Recommended.

*3  Bars here in Boston, and in most of America, are closed.  While tending bar is not a fitness exercise, it does burn calories.  2 60 minute mall walks here at the Prudential Center in Boston at 120 steps per minute will add 14,400 steps to a week.

*4  Every day is a bad hair day.

*5  MLB is a no go.  The Korean Baseball Organization(KBO) is shown weekly on ESPN. The play is  entertaining and indeed contains elements of contact hitting and durable starting pitching that have been leaving MLB for some time.  Recommended.

HAIKU 5*7*5* Coronavirus bus

April 30, 2020 1 comment

The 39 bus

Has only 2 passengers

Where’s the rest of us?

HAIKU 5*7*5* Corona wish for all’s health

April 5, 2020 1 comment

A wish for all’s health

Edgerly Rd. is quiet

Like September 12th.

HAIKU 5*7*5* FACEBOOK “friends.”

January 21, 2020 1 comment

Sometimes a life ends

Digital eternity

Still are FACEBOOK “friends”

HAIKU 5*7*5* 1st. week in August

August 8, 2019 1 comment

A little less light

In the 1st. week of August

A little more night

%d bloggers like this: