You can always believe Abe Lincoln.
I’M GOOD AT GROCERY SHOPPING. I’M NOT GOOD AT DANCING.
Everybody has those little slices of life where they excel and others where they stink like the next morning in a fraternity house. No matter how hard we try to master a certain skill it evades us.
PARTIALLY DUE TO THE INCLEMENT WEATHER and the seemingly endless weeks of battling bugs of varying virulences we have been watching a lot of TV.
My wife, the lovely and the ultimate Amazon Prime Minister, Dawn, and I have gathered up blankets, Kleenex, and hot tea so we could do some serious binge watching.
With Mama in her kerchief and I in my cap we settled ourselves down for a long winters Ripping Yarn. Dawn had been scouting the terrain and had come up with a series that had six years of episodes in the can. We figured that should hold us until Spring. Well… After one week we are halfway through Season Four. Spring better arrive soon.
UH OH, HERE IT COMES AGAIN. It seems like it was just last week or maybe five years ago. I’m starting to get ticklers about another High School Class Reunion. Aren’t these people satisfied that I show up once every fifty years?
I do admit that I sort of skipped over the first forty nine years worth of reunions, but I had a good excuse: I didn’t want to go. I broke down when it came to number fifty and I admit that it was a pleasure seeing some of the kids (now Geezers) that I went through grade school with. The thing is that I don’t remember them from High School all that well. Either I was in a fog or they were. They looked a lot different than I remembered them from 1952-1960.
Throwback Thursday From November 2015 –
I HAVE BEEN SURVEYING THE WORLD OF PERFORMANCE ART.
It’s not hard to do –just look in your local newspaper for listings under “Live Entertainment and whenever you see something that boasts only one person doing the show, you’ve found it. But beware and tread carefully.
Most of the “Performance Art” solo performers that I’ve met over the years have been solo because nobody else in their right mind would get on a stage with them. Would YOU want to share the stage with a guy smearing ice cream all over his body? Not unless you brought the chocolate syrup and a spoon. But that would also call for a very low passable sense of culinary hygiene.
Fiction Saturday – “Haight Street” Part Fourteen
“Oh, come on, John. I kind of feel sorry for him. He has his troubles. I admit that he is a bit weird but…”
Dawn took up where John left off.
“Marlee, Hon, he’s a real head case. Half the stores on Haight won’t let him through the door.”
Marlee saw their sincerity, along with the dash of fear in Dawn’s eyes. Looking back across the Haight Street she could see Dennis waving his arms, arguing with the tattooed clerk. A small cloud of doubt drifted into Marlee’s mind.
The clerk was getting tired of the same nonsensical routine. Her growing flush of anger was giving her tattoo snake an unreal ruddiness.
“Man, every time you come in here it’s the same crap. I’ll tell you one more time and if you don’t like it you can take your freaky business elsewhere. The price for the ‘tat’ is $65 – a one inch skull. There is no freaking ‘frequent flier’ discount. And one more thing…”
“What’s that, Sideshow?”
“Why do you always get the same tattoo every time, you Creep?”
“None of your business. Do you want it to be your business? I can arrange that for you, you little junkie.”
“Do you want the damned tattoo or not, Cretin?”
“Yes, I want the tattoo. Why else would I ever come in here, Skank?”
“To flirt with the help, maybe?” She smiled and flicked out her pierced tongue. “Paper or plastic, Twitch?”
“Plastic today.” He handed over a Visa card and she swiped it into the register. “Let’s get to work, Tiger.”
They disappeared behind the counter, out of sight from Marlee’s view in the People’s Cafe.
Its 6:30 AM AND THE FIRST ANNUAL ST. ARBUCKS DISCO PARTY IS IN FULL SWING!
Gloria Gaynor is Surviving nicely as I sip my coffee. I can feel the beat as my head serves as my own personal Disco Ball. It may be 28° outside, but inside – it is cookin’!
A couple of the baristas are moving to the constant tempo and even the manager has a case of Saturday Night Fever. That man can strut!
I don’t know who picks the piped in music, but I suspect it comes in all the way from Seattle. That tells me that somebody on the shores of the Juan de Fuca Strait either danced the night away or has just purchased a closet full of Polyester Shirts and Platform Shoes.
OK, LET ME BE COMPLETELY HONEST. I don’t do “Exercise.” My doctors, current and past, suggested, almost demanded, that I get myself into a regular program of exercise. There are just two parts to that which stop me cold.
The “Program” part I’m cool with. I like Programs. I watch a Program or two almost every day. We have cable.
“My favorite exercise is a cross between a Lunge and a Crunch.
I call it Lunch.”
WE REALLY ENJOYED WATCHING THE OLYMPICS. The Thrill of Victory. The Agony of Defeat and all that. The Unleashing of Whackos Worldwide.
The Games have been held in Korea – not exactly down the block for us here in Terre Haute (That’s French for, “Where can I buy a tutu?”). Getting from this part of the world to that part can be expensive and time consuming, so we decided to stay home and watch it all on the TV.
No so for one guy.
NOT LONG AGO I WAS CHATTING with one of the younger members of the family. She is in the sixth grade and turning into an interesting human being. She is past that Baby stage and is thinking about her future.
I asked her if she had given any thought to what she would like to be when she grows up. She answered me.
Throwback Thursday from Sept. 2015
A COUPLE OF MONTHS AGO I had a blog post listing items from the Police blotter of the northern Alaskan fishing village of Unalaska, Alaska. I think that it might be time for another visit to the frozen north.
Unalaska, Alaska is not on the edge of the world, but you can see it from there. It is the remote area that serves as the home port for the Reality TV series “Deadliest Catch.”
Once you have finished your fishing – there is nothing to do there except drink, and they have become very good at it.
Browsing through the Police blotter makes for some interesting reading. I also think that the person who actually composes the blotter entries has a real flair for the written word.
A few examples from the recent summertime action in Unalaska, Alaska:
07/13/15 Mon 1637 Suspicious Person/Activity – An officer responded to the Dutch Harbor Post Office regarding a complaint about a bike rider periodically getting off his bicycle and dancing in the middle of the roadway. The suspect, who appeared somewhat intoxicated, told the officer he needed to urinate and was advised that urinating in public was a violation of City ordinance.
07/13/15 Mon 1735 Suspicious Person/Activity – The man who had told an officer he really needed to urinate did in fact do so a short time later… in the Post Office lobby. Postal employees noted that the mess was disgusting and inconvenient, as the man had simply peed in his pants and down his legs rather than exposing himself.
07/14/15 Tue 2334 Welfare Check – Caller reported an intoxicated man dancing near City Dock and expressed concern that he might fall in the water. An officer contacted the man, who was jamming to his music, and advised him of the concern. The man apologized for having too much fun.
Whatever else the consumption of too much alcohol might have on the folks up there, it seems to turn them into lovers of The Dance. Perhaps, once the “Deadliest Catch” show finishes, the producers might want to start another reality show, “Dancing With The Drunken Fishermen.” It’s just a suggestion.
While some people are just dancers, there are others who have multiple talents and are not at all shy about letting the world see them.
08/06/15 Thu 0401 Harassment – A female employee reported she had gone outside for a smoke break and happened upon a male coworker who was first simply singing and dancing but then proceeded to drop his pants and expose his genitals. The woman declined to press charges but asked that an officer speak to the man. An officer confronted the lewd and somewhat bellicose dancer, who denied any wrongdoing, and advised him that he could be arrested for said behavior.
08/10/15 Mon 1228 Civil – A man self-reported some obnoxious and insulting behavior on his part, which had resulted in his being asked to leave a Senior Center luncheon. No complaint was made by Senior Center management.
It’s nice to know that the Senior Citizens of Unalaska, Alaska are getting out and having a good time. However, it seems that at least one gentleman wasn’t having such a good time at the Senior Center luncheon. Maybe he was upset with the menu – “What? Fish, AGAIN?”
No mention was made that if, at any time, he started to dance, but it wouldn’t surprise me.
Today we offer a reblog from “The Immortal Jukebox” about one of the early Motown Singing groups: The Contours and their hit, “Do You Love Me?”
‘ You broke my heart ’cause I couldn’t dance
You didn’t even want me around
And now I’m back to let you know
I can really shake ’em down!’ (Berry Gordy)
Roma uno die non est condita.
Rome wasn’t built in a day.
It takes time to found a mighty Empire that will conquer all the known world.
So, from the founding of Rome (let’s say 753BC) to the final defeat of Carthage it was all of 600 years.
It is therefore somewhat remarkable it took Berry Gordy less than a decade from the founding of Motown in 1959 to establish an Empire that colonised the hearts and souls of music fans from Addis Abbaba to Zanzibar and Zagreb!
An $800 loan from his family became a multi, multi million dollar record company which would record songs that will last as long as we have Spirits that need lifting, hearts that need stirring (or consolation) and hips that just gotta move.
First, get yourself a base that you own.
Let’s show our ambition and call this base, ‘Hitsville USA’.
A Studio come Clubhouse where your singers and musicians can find competition and camaraderie 24 hours a day (acording to legend the local beat cop thought 2648 West Grand Drive Boulevard must be an all hours drinking den given the numbers of shady looking characters turning up at all hours of the day and night).
Next get yourself a live and play in the Basement group of musicians with Jazz chops who can fashion a wholly new sound – which is not jazz, not old school R&B, Blues or Rock n’ Roll.
Let’s call them The Funk Brothers and let’s have one of them, James Jamerson on Bass, be a fully fledged genius who will add grace and depth to every recording he ever plays on.
Let’s have a slogan calling that sound, ‘The Sound of Young America’ and let’s make so many great records that the slogan will became an every day reality on the airwaves and the charts.
And, we don’t mean, in still highly segregated America, the Black Music Charts .
No, no, no.
We mean the Pop Music charts.
Where the real money is to be made.
Open for Business and cast a cool appraising eye on all the would be stars who beat a path to your door.
This kid Smokey Robinson’s a Keeper – he’s got a notebook with hundreds of songs and he can sing ’em like a bird and work the Recording Desk too!
Not that I can’t write and produce myself.
You ever heard, ‘Reet Petite’ or, ‘Lonely Teardrops’?
Big Hits but Berry didn’t get the money!
Not going to happen again!
So, in 1960, New Frontier!, we get our first hit.
Barrett Strong with, ‘Money’ (bunch of English guys in Hamburg called The Beatles will learn a lot playing that one!).
Then Smokey comes up with, ‘Shop Around’ and by the end of the year we got a Million Seller!
Here comes 1961 and we get ourselves our first Pop Number One!
The Marvellettes, ‘Please Mr Postman’.
I got my eyes and ears on that Brian Holland – there’s a lot more hits where that came from!
Early ’62 I figure we need to find a song like, ‘Twist and Shout’ that will have all the White Kids, all the Black Kids and everybody who ain’t tied to a chair out on the floor and running down to the record store to lay down their cash.
Let’s call it, ‘Do You Love Me’.
I thought it might suit The Temptations but maybe they just sing too well for this one (I got big plans for them later).
So, what about The Contours?
Probably the best dancers of anyone who ever came through these doors!
Come to think of it Billy Gordon got a, ‘Wake the Dead and get ’em up Dancin” Voice if I ever heard one!
Next time they come through I’m gonna sit down at the piano and teach them the song one evening and record it the next day.
Gonna tell James to drive this one like a runaway train.
None of his fancy jazz licks – nail that backbeat to the Basement floor!
Of course, when Benny Benjamin is behind the Drums, the record is going to sound immense.
Maybe I’ll start with a spoken intro and then let The Funk Brothers explode and tell Billy I don’t want him to be able to sing this song a second time ’cause I want him to tear his throats to shreds the first time!
Ok – let’s go!
Now, if that ain’t shaking ’em down I don’t know what is!
The Funk Brothers never let up and Billy Gordon’s lead vocal comes at you like a tidal wave.
Hubert Johnson, Billy Higgs, Joe Billingslea and Sylvester Potts make up a chorus that has an irresitble goofball charm. The trilling guitar comes from Huey Davis.
When I’ve managed to master some skill which has previously eluded me (and there’s a lot of them!) I just can’t stop myself singing, ‘I’ m back and I can really shake ’em down – Watch me now!’.
I love the corny spoken introduction, the false ending, the references to the Mashed Potato and The Twist and the bullfrog, ‘Um, Bom, Bom, Bom, brrrmm’ backing vocals.
Of course Berry got his hit!
Top 5 in every Chart and well over a Million copies sold.
They say it was the fastest selling single in the history of Motown.
Malheureusement, it was the pinnacle of The Contours career though they did make a handful of other excellent recordings.
They were simply too low down in the pecking order of Motown Vocal Groups.
And, when you consider they were up against the likes of The Four Tops and The Tempatations that is hardly to be wondered at.
There’s almost always been a version of the group out there driving a crowd crazy with, ‘Do You Love Me’.
And, by some mysterious alignment of the heavens, in 1987 the song gained a wholly unexpected new lease of life through being featured in the world wide hit film. ‘Dirty Dancing’ (even if they did, disgracefully, chop off the ending!).
One of the versions of The Contours got to go on a world tour and enjoy the big time once again.
Not so, for poor Billy Gordon.
For Billy died in poverty after spending time in prison (bizarrely with one time colleague Joe Billingslea being a Corrections Officer in the Prison!).
So it goes. So it goes.
Yet, every day someone, somewhere, has their life lit up by hearing Billy intone:
‘You broke my heart ’cause I couldn’t dance
You didn’t even want me around
And now I’m back to let you know
I can really shake ’em down!‘
And then, if they’ve got any blood in their veins they’ll go stone crazy for the next two and a half minutes.
Watch me Now!
Dedicated to :
Billy Gordon (RIP)
Sylvester Potts (RIP)
Hubert Johnson (RIP)
Huey Davis (RIP)
James Jamerson (RIP)
Benny Benjamin (RIP)
Britain’s Ace Records has two excellent complications documenting The Contours recorded legacy.
Tracks to look out for –
‘First I Look at the Purse’
‘Whole Lotta Woman’
‘Just A Little Misunderstanding’
DURING OUR STAY IN DEMOREST, GEORGIA, on the campus of Piedmont College I must laud high praise on the facilities and the very helpful staff – but I do have one minor, teeny-tiny, itsy-bitsy complaint. I say this knowing that I may be the only person here who cares about it. Excuse my reiteration.
In all of the literature from the college, bent on luring us all to come here, they gleefully state that there is a “Starbucks right on the campus,” in the “Commons” building by the bookstore.
Technically they have told the truth.
I’M A FAN OF JIMMY BUFFETT. I’m not a fan to the point of calling myself a “Parrothead” which is similar to avid fans of the Grateful Dead calling themselves “Deadheads.” No, I’m not a “Parrothead.” I don’t hitchhike around the country to attend Buffett concerts and I don’t have any Buffett tattoos. I can’t afford the ticket prices and I’m too old to start siring kids named “Cheeseburger” or “Margaritaville.”
I guess I’m more of a “Parakeet” than a “Parrothead.”
I just like his music and I admire him because as a man of 70 he can still take his show on tour without the need for a fulltime medical staff.
I offer up last Sunday as a prime example.
On just about any Sunday as soon as church services are over the people are out of there like the place is on fire. BUT… You mention that there is some free ice cream being served in the kitchen and it quickly turns into a prairie dog killing stampede. I almost got run over. I don’t know if it was the words “ice cream” or the word “free” that got them all moving. I suspect both.
“The empty nests in high branches above are homes again with small lives that will grow to sing with their joy of life.
“The icy winds, fleeing as the South moves with the sun and those holy words from men all in blue, ‘Play ball!’”
— Joey Bagadonuts
I take that back – I see ice in my coffee, but there is no ice on the roads or on my windshield. I’m not complaining mind you. In fact, I am doing my Happy Dance – big time.
For the last week the Weather Bunny on Channel Two has been predicting that Terre Haute (That’s French for “What’s that floating in the Wabash?”) was going to be hit with several days worth of ice storms, Sleet, Freezing Rain and NCAA Athletes. I don’t mind the athletes, but the ice, sleet and freezing rain I can do without.