Monday, December 31, 2007

From My Little Bit of the Bloggersphere
to Yours...
Happy New Year!!!

I've done a lot of memorial posts this year: Read them Here but in case I missed anyone, this youtuber did a lovely and pretty complete tribute to everyone we lost this year. Here's hoping for everyone that 2008 is a great and non-stressful year !

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Dennis Was Really a Menace
Happy Holidays Everyone... Sorry I've not written much, but I've been sick as a dog with some sort of flu thing. 103 temps, chills, spectral visits in the middle of the night from Ed Wynn; The whole deal. I'm over the worst of it, but I've not been in a bloggin' mood.

However, today I spent some leisurely time transferring some records to digital. This was one of them. "Ka-Pow! Ka-Pow! Ka-Pow!" is a one of the strange relics of a not to distant childhood. Do children still play with guns? I used to work in the Toy Department at a Zayre and we had a full toy gun aisle. Some of the models were so real that our security department was always afraid that someone would take one of them and rob the store. Part of my job as an 18 year old was to stop the kids from their gun battles. With the age of sniper shootings going down, this record is especially chilling.

I've got to crawl back in bed now. See you in the new year!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Separated at Birth...

Saturday, December 22, 2007

A New Angle on Christmas

About eight or so years ago my pal Mike found this album at the famed Unique Thrift Store in Roscoe Village. In it's day it was the best place to find the odd and unusual records that people would toss out. The best of these are local bands and entertainers whose albums were only sold at their shows or in the restaurants they played at.

However, Mike found the best album in the history of found sound. The cover was plain white card board with stenciled on the front the words: "Another Great Sound Recording By Charles Angle (organ & voice). Chicago Illinois U.S.A. and ever since it's not been a Christmas without playing this album.

I've tried to find out something about Mr. Angle for years. A friend thought that he may have been the weekend organist at a bar her parents would go to in Gary, Indiana in the 60's. The Charles Angles of the world have slowly faded along with drinks with umbrellas in them and quiet supper clubs. When I first moved up to the Northside of Chicago there were a few left in the early 90s. On Clark, there was a fabulous bar restaurant with a man who played there for thirty years. A mural decorated a wall of the restaurant showing him at his piano looking his Liberace best. Probably in his 70's his toupee in place, he still played until they closed turning the joint into some fancy fish restaurant. This recording captures a bit of the excitement of going to these places.

His version of Let it Snow is definitive. With his malapropism of, "Oh, the weather outside is frightening..." or "it doesn't show signs of shopping..." never fails to get a smile out of me or to sing along with his mistakes. Each song is an adventure is wondering if Charles will finish or give up. I've such a distinct image of the recording session: Recorded at his organ in the red velveted, Chinese lanterned, black leather boothed bar, with the lights turned down low, so that he can barely see the sheet music, and his ever present whiskey and coke at his side.

The odd thing about this album is that one side is Christmas music and the other is standards i.e., Close to You, Peg O' My Heart. I'll post those someday if there is any interest.

So below for listening and download is the one and only Charles Angle. Either you'll love him or hate him, but you'll never forget him.

Merry Christmas From A-Hole-In-The-Head Blog!

Note: I've had problems with these downloads before... if they songs don't come up right away, refresh a couple of times until it connects with the site.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Should Your Child Be a Social Worker?
If a Picture Paints a Thousand Words...

As they say in the Internet world: Needs caption.

Photo circa 1958 Ladies Home Journal (I Kid You Not)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

For the Republic Theatre in which it stands...
Abie's Irish Rose Playbill circa March 1923
Don't you just love the moment in the theatre before the play starts? There is always that zen moment when have that quiet moment where you can take a peek to see who has the cutest photo in the playbill. And to read the fluffy article about how Patti LaPone has changed through the years.

Things weren't much different 84 years ago when Abie's Irish Rose was only it's first few hundred of its 2,327 performance run at the Republic Theatre. Abie's Irish Rose was one of Broadways biggest hits and groundbreaking in it's subject: a Jewish man marrying an Irish woman. Sort of a post Victorian age Bridget Love Bernie. It ran at the Republic for five years until 1927. By 1923, it had already worked it's way into the American vocabulary by showing up in advertisements for tailors; and referenced in the song Lorenz Hart song, "Manhattan" "We'll take our babies to go see Abie's Irish Rose - we hope they live to see it close." Word was that the theatre community hated its success. In that sense it was the "Cats" of it's day.
The Republic Theatre has quite a long history too. It was built in the early 1900s by Oscar Hammerstein, Sr. and then leased to famed producer, David Belasco. In the 30's it became the home of the famous Minsky's Burlesque. It is now has been renovated and is called The New Victory Theatre (what an awful name) and ironically specializes in children and family shows.

I wonder if in the New Victory playbills they put cautionary articles warning children against rabies. Because you know when the temperatures go up, out come the roaming dogs!

But back to the finer things of life. Like perfumes, corsets, hosiery, and George's Wave Tress.
I'm not sure how affective this ad is, she doesn't look too happy with what she is smelling!
Ooh, la, la... In olden days a glimpse of stocking, etc...
I love the term 'vamp' for a young independent woman. I think it should be brought back. It brings to mind a young smart woman who might swill gin, dance 'til the cows came home, yet still would be at work bright and early the next morning ready to fight for her place in the man's working world. They were the first step in the women's movement, and they did it in these fabulous shoes.
In case you are interested J. Glassberg is now the home of Pax Foods.

and finally this Murad Turkish Cigarette ad is so beautiful it makes me want to start to smoke... or ride a giant turtle.

The Republic Theatre Today... the old girl still looks pretty good.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Oh My Man...

It's funny how you grow into Billie Holiday. Most people discover her in some way in college. During the 80's when I was about 19 I knew this guy named Dave, who was a few years older. He seemed so adult because he had his own apartment on the Northside of Chicago. He used to invite my pal Brian and I up to his Northside pad for sleep overs, or stay up overs. We'd drink and draw pictures, listen to music all through the night before I'd go home to the Southside on the Archer 62 bus. It was the first time I'd ever heard Billie's classic album Lady in Satin. If you don't own this album your missing out on one of the treasures of life. I don't know how anyone could fall in or out of love without it.

Anyway, of all places, had this posted tonight. It's pretty amazing.

And just to do a tad of WWBD, here is Barbra Streisand's version. She made it a sort of signature song for her for a while because of the boffo performance in Funny Girl. Comparing the two performances is probably not fair, but listen to the phrase 'all my life is just despair, but I don't care' Billie doesn't care. Barbra pushes the 'despair' word. To Bab's defence watching her sing the song is like watching a great skier make a huge jump. Listening to Billie is like watching a sunrise. The jump is just once, the sunrise is eternal.

Finally a tad more than you need to know about the song "My Man".

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Primer for Living with Fear and Worry

I know this post is a bit of a downer, but I found it interesting that in this 1955 addition of LIFE Magazine the front cover touted a new version of The Women with Shelley Winters, but the majority of the middle of the issue was dedicated to the basics for surviving a nuclear bomb.

I think it was maybe until I was in the 3rd or 4th grade that we finally stopped having bomb drills. I still remember going down into the basement of Kinzie Elementary where we all stood against the green painted brink walls. It was terrifying. I think at that time I didn't really understand the concept of nuclear war, but my brother was in the army and even then I lived in terror of having to join the military and fight.

In the 80's during the end of the cold war and the Reagan Years, popular media finally caught up with the notion that nuclear war was a bad thing. Movies like "Testament", "The Day After", and Sting singing song "Russians" were seemed part of the drumbeat from Hollywood to stop the madness. By that time, it was pretty much known if the bombs did fall that it meant no more world. But in 1955, people still could have their Shelley Winters in a tub on the front, and their instructions for how to survive a nuclear blast in the middle.

Here in this illustration the caption proclaims that a family can live in relative comfort in their dirt impacted basement. Notice that even though the world was destroyed outside, father still had time to pick out that perfect tie. They make it seem as if the nuclear winter will be no more inconvenient than an extra long wait at the dentist's office.
Or if digging your own grave is your style how about a foxhole shelter. This caption alludes to the fact that your average man can dig a hole deep enough to provide him shelter in just a couple of hours. The copy is so trite that I can hear Betty Furness reading it: Ladies remember to shake off that radioactive dust occasionally; this way your man will only see your glowing personality. Ok... Now I can buy sitting in the forever waiting room, or even digging my own personal hole, but no way in hell could anyone talk me into washing a whole house!

I think that kids today are missing the general overall paranoia and fear that the past generation lived with everyday. Considering that the Bush press secretary didn't know what the Cuban Missile Crisis was speaks volumes. Perhaps Miss Perino should put her feet up some evening and listen to this lovely album "If the Bomb Falls". In it gives advice to the smart housewife to choose easy to make foods; And for the family to bring a bottle of tranquilizers, about a 100 pills should do for a family of four. The calming voice says that "Tranquilizers are non-addictive"... Just point me towards Ground Zero!

Side one

Side two

Note: I know I got this record from someone on the Net years ago. I just can't remember who. My apologizes if I scammed it.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Odds and Ends

I'm still mining some of the odd and obscure gold from these old Life Magazines. These were just a few things I've been meaning to post.

The picture above of Major Hoople comes from the same article I did a post about in July . (I still get about 150 hits a day from that post.) When I was going through this magazine tonight I realized that I missed one of the drawings. I popped it into that old post, but regular readers might find it interesting. I must have, at that time, I left it out because I figured that no one would know anything about Major Hoople. He was a character from the 20's strip Our Boarding House, which then was turned into a popular radio show. Ring a bell anyone...?

Like the ad I posted a couple days ago with the fellow cutting off his arm for a tie, this ad (circa 1939) struck me the same way. Here a jaunty fellow is going to kill himself with a gun because 'all fasteners are alike'. I guess with the stress of living through the Great Depression and the impending war in Europe anything could set a fellow off...

And speaking of mental illness... The following six drawings illustrated a long, in depth article on the new burgeoning field of psychoanalysis. The artist Boris Artsybasheff is a genius of the surreal.

One of my favorite sites Learning 2 Share posted an ad, that I'm sure is a Artsybasheff. Click Here to see. I'll bet all the cartoon-blog guys who visit here know all about him, but this was the first article that put a name to those strange drawings that seemed to pop-up in ads in the 40s and 50s. And in doing a little googling, I found that some of these drawings are on other sites, but I post them all in their original order as seen in Life Magazine (2/3/47).

And finally, to end, some ends. French ends that is. Life Magazine seemed to have a reoccurring fascination with the male posterior. They are always popping up in articles, especially during the war years. Guess the women back home had to know what they were working double shifts for. Here French soldiers are given treatments under sunlamps to maintain their health. This photo just struck me as strange, but oddly cute. As some websites often ask... this definitely needs a caption.

Ooh, la, la...

Monday, December 03, 2007

Happy 80th Birthday Andy Williams
I'm proud to state that I've long ago come out of the closet as being a fan of Andy Williams. During my life, I can't think of anyone who was thought of as being more square than Andy. I mean when you tell people that you think Andy Williams is one of America's best singers, people look at you funny. But I stand before you and say for sure purity of a vocal instrument, range, and personality there are few who can match him.

His career actually pre-dates Sinatra starting as a child performer in 1936 and still going strong 71 years later. See Andy on Britain's Top of the Pops: HERE.

My parents never watched his show growing up. I remember it, even at the time, as being lame. That dancing bear, stupid skits. By 1970 the show had out grown it's time. It wasn't until about fifteen years ago that I started to hear his songs on WJJD, the now defunct Music of Your Life station. "Moon River" was always the punch-line to jokes by that time; but I remember one night listening to it driving around on a snowy night; it seemed to be the best song I'd ever heard. Little by little I purchased an album here and there. "Under Paris Skies", "Danny Boy", and his classic 70s cover album "You've Got a Friend".

Dispite Andy's smooth way of singing and movie star handsome looks he still put out the aria of a geeky Iowa farm boy. It was his TV variety show that has embedded him into the American musical lore. When the show began in 1963 it was one of the best produced hours on television. Unlike it's later years it focused mainly on music. Everyone from Peggy, Ella, Steve and Eydie, Tony Bennett played on it; And in my opinion gave some of their best recorded performances.

Years ago I found other closeted Andy fans. Like me they were thrift store shoppers, picking up his albums for .50 to a dollar. Andy's albums were so successful that they are legion in the Salvation Army stores. I defy you not to find at least one. His albums sold in the millions. There is a story in the book "Her Name is Barbra" where in the early 70's Columbia Records told Streisand that they couldn't meet her price for her contract because they had just given Andy Williams a huge new contract and to do the same for her wasn't in the budget.

About seven years ago I finally got to see Mr. Williams in his Christmas Show at the Chicago Theatre. It was a bitterly cold night as I recall and we had just been hit with a huge snow storm. The stage was bare except for a small Christmas tree. He apologized and said that the set was stuck in Wisconsin, and this is what they could pull together at the last minute. It was a terrific show. I had expected he would be awful because his voice seemed to go when he was in his 50's. But at 73 years old, but his voice was still sweet, strong, and he could still hit the high notes.

The highlight of the evening was when he invited all the children in the audience to come on the stage. It was as if people were hiding children in their coats; Hundreds of children started pouring out of the audience on to the stage. It took about 15 minutes to get everyone there. Andy sat in a big chair and he read the Night Before Christmas and sang some standard Christmas song. It was really something.

When I began Bric-a-Brac with Mike, Andy Williams was a huge influence on us. In fact three of our songs on our album are covers of Andy's songs. Someone asked me once at a party who our influences were and when I said 'Andy Williams' the guy laughed and said, "No really, who influenced you..."

A couple other stories of note: I dated a guy whose brother was the sound engineer on one of Andy's later albums. I think it was the Country one done in the early 80s. (Don't get it, it's terrible.) But he said that Andy was one of the nicest guys he'd ever worked with in Nashville. And afterwards gave everyone expensive sweaters. The thing he found out about how they got that doubled Andy sound of the 60's was they used to drag in the monitor speakers into the studio and have the sound feed back into Andy's microphone. So a song like "Can't Get Used to Losing You" was never double tracked, it was all done live with Andy singing a live harmony with himself.

Another story: I had a Yahoo personal for a while. This guy, who I never met, wrote me this story about being coked up in a London bar: So this is one of those "I was standing next to a star in a bar" stories. I've never told it before because...well...the star is/was Andy Williams. But now, at long last, I can come from under this shell, this cocoon, this gnawing feeling that no one would care enough to listen ... I spotted Andy at the bar with two of Hugh Hefner's closest associates, dashed to his side, fell to the floor, pounded my fists, wept uncontrollably, crooned the only bar I know from "Moon River," grabbed him by the ankles, and licked his white patent leathers, stood up without saying a word, returned to my table, and didn't even turn to see if he noticed. True story. No lie. Totally, utterly, unforgettably true.

Poor Andy...

Anyway... in honor of his b-day. Here are some fabulous youtube'd clips of him.

This are a couple of my favorite Andy William's Show Clips. It shows his years of singing with his brothers made him a master harmonizer.

With Julie Andrews

With Peggy Lee

With Peter, Paul and Mary

Happy Birthday...

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Ads that make you go "Urgh..."

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Scattered pictures of the smiles we left behind.
The Most Amazing Found Photo Site - EVER!

The 2nd post I did for this blog was called Other People's Photos. I had expected through out the many months that I would be posting more of my found photo collection. I have my favorites under a piece of glass on my bedroom dresser, (Many were destroyed when my ceiling leaked during the summer). As I stated in that post, I usually find old odd photos at estate sales, because photos are the last thing that people want to save when they are cleaning out an old person's home.

However I think that a national trust should be made to collect these. They are part of our collective history. Nothing tells more about ourselves or a moment in time than the candid family snap shots. They are universal and show that we are so much alike.

Recently one of my daily blog visits to the Land-o-Links site brought this site: Square America to my attention. I have no idea who is running this site, but the photos they have found are jaw-dropping. Be prepare to set aside at least an hour to go through them.

They are broken up in to different categories.

Family Photos

Most disturbingly, there is a series of photos that were defaced or where people were torn or cut out.

The photo booth finds are a gold mine of some amazing characters.

And be sure to check out the series of photos from a 70's booze and sex party. It's fascinating!