Who Was He

The Million MAGA March last weekend in Washington

America remains in an uproar as the administration attempts to foil the theft of the election. The main thing to remember is it’s not over until the fat elector sings, and it may be a while. I had about ten articles lined up to write about various aspects, but I just don’t want to, most of you have read it anyway. The main thing is to keep the faith, as I told a friend, America is a tough old eagle, and we’ve faced this sort of crap before.

Instead, I’m going to give you another of our articles from the new fiction category, which is proving very popular, This one from our old friend Dave Smith. Neo

He didn’t know me very well although he was my father and I was in my 40’s. But then it was becoming clear that I knew nothing about him either; what was real or what was simply a figment of the old man’s imagination.

“So, remember when we were hanging out on East 7th Street? We used to get high a lot and nod off to jazz or blues records playing in the background.”
“No, pop, I wasn’t there. I don’t know what you’re talking about?”
“Sure you do. Remember when we were getting wasted before heading out to Slugs to hear Lee Morgan play? You remember that. He died that night. And I think he had no idea that his number had come up.”
“Dad, who is Lee Morgan?”
“You know, the trumpet player; remember Sidewinder?”
“No, I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“You must have been higher than I was and I got real nice that night and only after doing half a trey bag. It was real nice. But it was good in a way. We missed the shooting and that would have been a real downer. There was Margo, Marty, Louie the Greek, and Frenchie with us that night. We all got too high to want to walk in the snow down to East 3rd Street. It was cold and we were comfortably warm in the apartment.”
“Pop, you have me mixed up with somebody else.”
“Oh, do I? Who are you again?”
“I’m your son, pop? Don’t you know me?”
“Oh yeah. What’s your name?”
“It’s John. Your son John.”
He didn’t respond but looked off into the distance and back through many decades of his life; a life I scarcely knew anything about. I had never heard the names he was uttering and where was Slugs or who was Lee Morgan? So while he drifted off in thought, I got out my iPhone and simply Googled ‘Lee Morgan’ and read the following:
Edward Lee Morgan (July 10, 1938 – February 19, 1972) was an American jazz trumpeter and composer.
One of the key hard bop musicians of the 1960s, Morgan came to prominence in his late teens, recording on John Coltrane’s Blue Train (1957) and with the band of drummer Art Blakey before launching a solo career. 
Morgan stayed with Blakey until 1961 and started to record as leader in the late ’50s. His song “The Sidewinder”, on the album of the same name, became a surprise crossover hit on the pop and R&B charts in 1964, while Morgan’s recordings found him touching on other styles of music as his artistry matured. Soon after The Sidewinder was released, Morgan rejoined Blakey for a short period. After leaving Blakey for the final time, Morgan continued to work prolifically as both a leader and a sideman with the likes of Hank Mobley and Wayne Shorter, becoming a cornerstone of the Blue Note label.
Morgan’s career was cut short at the age of 33 when his common-law wife Helen shot and killed him following a confrontation at Slug’s Saloon, in New York City.
So my dad was living in NYC in ’72 and was a jazz loving junkie? He almost witnessed the death of Lee Morgan? This just didn’t fit the image of my father. I knew he loved music and especially the blues. I know he still had LP’s of a lot of music mostly from the ’60s and a bunch of jazz albums . . . but I never listened to them.
Breaking the silence, dad started to speak of the angels that had saved his life. There was Helene, Kath, Gloria, Goldie, and Mary. Now the last name I knew because that was my mother’s name. He was a prayerful Catholic and so I didn’t know if in his dementia he was speaking of angels or people or both. He was thankful that there was always somebody around that loved him enough to keep him from slipping into another life; sinking into a pit of drugs and despair. Obviously, he had kicked any habit he might have had for he never did any drinking or taking of any drugs during my life, as far as I knew; except perhaps for the Xanax which he took for anxiety. And I didn’t even know, nor did I care to know, what might have been behind that either. It was becoming quite clear how distant we had always been.
My father knew his genealogy well. He could tell stories about his grandfather’s days in eastern Kentucky and how his grandfather’s brother, Phillip, rode with a posse to find Devil Anse Hatfield of the infamous Hatfield and McCoy feud. Though my understanding was that Devil Anse died of pneumonia in 1921 and fathered a number of children who still reside in the area; so they must not have caught him. Yet I didn’t know or listen to much of what the old man had to say and I knew less about them than I did the Hatfield’s and McCoys which was next to nothing.
Again, the silence was broken. “There was something that always stopped me from becoming a junkie,” he said. “Half my friends did. But not me. I was always afraid of being hooked on drugs. Whenever I began to get a ‘chippy’ and awoke with sniffles or an aching body I wouldn’t get high again for at least a week. That is how I was able to use drugs and keep it purely recreational.”
“You were shooting heroin? How come I didn’t know that?”
“Sure you did. Don’t you remember us getting high together? Remember how we used to go to Slugs and listen to jazz and nurse a beer for two hours so we could stay and listen to the music?”
“It wasn’t me dad.”
“Well, who was it then? I know it wasn’t . . . it must’ve been what’s his name. Never mind.” He stared off again but this time his eyelids got heavy and he slumped down in his hospital bed and never awoke. I suppose the morphine they administered him with reminiscent of an old state of mind he was not unfamiliar with. Maybe this conversation was a manifestation of those highs he once experienced for fun rather than for pain.
And just like Lee Morgan, he had no idea that his last thoughts were far from the thoughts that we think that we might entertain on our deathbeds. Death came suddenly for Lee and for my father and the sun set on a life that was mostly hidden like an iceberg. I only glimpsed the tip of that icy barque that rose above the surface.  Life is very short and I cannot regain the time needed to uncover what was my own father’s life.
I must live with that realization and the fact that I will forever have a question mark in my mind:
Who was he, and for that matter, who am I?

Walking …

Holy smokes. I’m just sitting here, shaking my head. What an odd morning this has been. Woke up way early, in the ‘o dark thirties’, left a funny/annoying email for a friend, scanned the headlines on the news feeds, had champion breakfast of wafers and Dew and went to the channel of a young man who does reaction videos to music he’s never heard before. And it was that video that sent me walking.

I was 17 years old then – the whole world ahead of me. But we don’t ever see that, at 17 years old. We think we’re always going to be 17 and anything beyond that seems like myth or science fiction or outright craziness. Who knew? And if someone had told me so, I would have nodded and then laughed it away. 17 is forever. It just is. I distinctly remember turning 17 – the breakfast conversation with my mom. Every year she would ask the same thing and the only time the answer changed was when I turned 17. She asked me, “Feel any older?” and I looked up at her and said yes. Because I really did feel older – like some amazing thing had happened overnight and I was suddenly this 17-year-old person – who was this new person? I remember it so clearly.

It was 1969. I don’t care what anybody says, there was only one event of import that year and that was Woodstock. Did you ever give a party and have 500,000 people show up? Woodstock did. No – I didn’t go. My dad was a cop; there was NO WAY one of his daughters was going to do something like that. It’s ok though – the documentaries are enough. The good ones, anyway. If you don’t mind the rental fee, you can view the documentary on YT (probably $3.99). I saw it free on PBS the following year. It was as good (but cleaner, lol!) as being there. The music acts – good gracious, Ignatius. Sly and the Family Stone (I wanna take you HIGHER, BOOM SHAKA LAKA), Joe Cocker – A Little Help from My Friends (I thought he had a physical impairment – turned out be the effects of drugs and alcohol), Joan Baez (I Dreamed About Joe Hill Last Night – organizer song), Jimi Hendrix – The National Anthem; Country Joe and the Fish – Whoopie, We’re All Gunna Die and the ‘F’ song, lol!, Lovin’ Spoonful (so lame against all that mega-talent). The list goes on. The music was something else. I don’t have sufficient adjectives. You either get it or you don’t.

So … yeah, it was a long walk this morning. A walk I seem to be taking a lot lately. Walking … down memory lane.


The Voice of an Angel

Three years ago on Vera Lynn’s 100th Birthday and the release of her last album, I wrote this>

Yesterday we regretted the loss of Chuck Berry, whom so many of us loved and enjoyed. Today is a happier occasion for today is the 100th birthday of Dame Vera Lynn, DBE, OStJ, CH, honorary citizen of Nashville Tennessee, holder of the British War medal, and the Burma Star. She is known worldwide as the British Forces Sweetheart. Quite a career for a girl from Wales.

And besides, all here know of my weakness for British, especially Welsh, redheads, so any excuse to feature one is welcome.

Her first recording was Up the Wooden Hill to Bedfordshire, recorded on Crown Records in 1936.


Her greatest fame came during the Second World War when she became the Force’s Sweetheart with songs such as these

No doubt some purist will miss the point, saying that so many of those pictures were of American soldiers, and indeed they were. And yet, while Dame Vera was the British Forces Sweetheart, our musical tastes became so entwined together that we still haven’t sorted them out.

Many of you know that my normal music here is a couple of British stations that mostly broadcast music from the forties, and indeed that is my favorite popular music. So yes, I hear a good bit of Vera Lynn and other British singers and bands, but I hear an awful lot of the Andrews Sisters, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Major Miller, and other Americans, too. Strikes me that we finally got to know each other and we found rather liked each other. It’s still true.

Yes, sometimes we despair of each other, but we’ve been there before, and we muddled through. I think and pray we shall again.

To me, this always brings back the British North African campaign culminating at El Alamein, with the Tommies and Germans romancing the same B-girls in Tobruk in their turn. I think it originally a German song, but hey, when haven’t Brits and Yanks stolen a good tune.

And this


For me, this song has to be accompanied by the sound of the Rolls Royce powered Spitfire, for it is the sound of those few that saved us all. Truly a

This is interesting

This is the only footage I’ve found of her during the war


Eventually, it was over

But she kept right on singing, this was the very first #1 on the American charts, in 1952, by a British artist.

Welcoming the troops home from the Falklands.

And still, she pressed on, Decca released a new album,  Vera Lynn 100, just three years ago. Here is the trailer


So, how do we end this glorious retrospective? There is only one possible way, in my mind.

And there will truly always be:

Even if sometimes we fear it will only be in our hearts. But I doubt that –

But maybe we best learn to teach our history better.

The band of The Coldstream Guards remember.

The b side of her smash hit Auf Wiedersehen, Sweetheart on both sides of the pond rather says it all, I think.

Till we all meet again, rest in peace, Dame Vera.



Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Well, guys, next week is Christmas, and I’m declaring the political end of the year. They are unlikely to either destroy or renew the Republic (or the Realm) in the next week and a half, even including the two major holidays. They should go home and think about the damage they have caused. But they probably won’t so the war will soon resume. Call it a Christmas truce. That’s pretty much life.

In any case, I’m getting on a jet plane to go see my family for Christmas Monday, and so posting next week will be some of my (and your) favorite holiday posts over the years. We will all enjoy revisiting them. And they will incorporate the Christmas post that Jessica wrote that so many of you have been sneak peeking.

Today, I just want to share some of my favorite secular Christmas songs. Yes, even Christians like some of them. Tomorrow will be  Sunday Funnies, Monday, I don’t know yet, and the rest of the week will be favorites time. I’ll presumably be back sometime Saturday, and maybe I’ll get something up Sunday. That said, all I’m taking along is my phone, so don’t expect much from me, maybe I’ll answer some comments, but even that will be limited. You guys feel free to talk amongst yourselves, over the years you’ve added a lot to the place, so have fun, keep it reasonably clean and have fun. No running with scissors, though!

There were a couple of videos out of Parliament this week, which were intentionally funny, and succeeded. Let’s join in the laughter for once with instead of at the politicians.

Tracey Crouch was chosen to give the first Loyal Address (What’s that? I haven’t a clue either, the British are a bit strange sometimes) Anyway, it’s funny, good-natured, an altogether good time. Enjoy!

And other than tomorrow’s memes, that pretty well wraps up politics for 2019, finally!

I’ve been listening mostly to a British station that plays music from the late 30s to the early 50s… I’ve been finding it most restful, and they play a lot of Christmas music, mostly by the people we grew up listening to on the radio or watching on TV. As dark as the world was then, they produced some of the most uplifting music imaginable.

One thing that has happened is that I’ve become a huge fan of the Andrews Sisters. Why? There are a few reasons scattered through this post. Like this one.

Or this, with Bing Crosby

I’ve never heard this better performed.

Maybe an ad with my favorite singer, Petula Clark.

I assume our British friends have long since seen this, but it is a lovely advert.

Those rough men who keep us safe, may not be so rough after all, keep them in mind.

Petula and Rod McKuen? They do an excellent job.

Without comment!

And of course:

But my favorite for this year is this, from the Andrews Sisters. I can’t remember ever hearing it before.


Culture Wars

Daniel Oliver writing in The Federalist has a question for us. Where has all the culture gone? Where indeed. Let’s see what he’s on about, shall we?

From the New York island to the Redwood forest, Western Civilization continues to collapse, gradually now, but soon, maybe, suddenly. For now, only a relatively small band of traditionalists are manning the gates against the cultural nihilists. And, of course, manning is the right word. Once upon a time, hand-to-hand combat was not thought to be women’s work: if the women were killed in battle, who would take care of the children?

Assuming there are any children. About 800,000 babies are aborted each year in the US. Given that about 39 percent of those babies are black but that blacks are only 12 percent of the population, why isn’t abortion seen as racist? Whatever happened to disparate impact?

How can Democrats, who are the primary advocates for abortion, say with a straight face that their pro-abortion stance isn’t a dog whistle for racists? Can Democrats say they know no one who favors abortion who has not also at least once said, or perhaps “opined,” that a complementary effect of abortion is that it helps keep down the poor black population?

If Ralph (not his real name) were to beat a black man to death in the forest while yelling racial insults, but The New York Times didn’t cover the attack, would it be a racist act?

Just recently the governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, indicated that he would not oppose an “abortion” even after a baby was born. Most people were scandalized by his remarks, but the only remarkable aspect of them was that he said them out loud, not that had thought them. That he, and thousands of others, had thought them is really unremarkable, because of Burnham’s Second law: “Who says A must say B.” (James Burnham was a philosopher and a founding editor of National Review; he wrote many books, including his seminal work, The Managerial Revolution.)

Burnham’s Second Law makes the point that taking one position can require taking a subsequent position. If you murder Duncan, you must also kill Banquo.

A baby in the womb either is or is not a person. The abortionists say “it” is not (they have to say that because it is still not quite acceptable to kill “people” — unless perhaps they are really old or sick and, you know, like, really not enjoying life), but the abortionists refuse to say when “it” does become a person. In theory they might say “when it is born,” but that is now transparently only terminological.

Even a fool can tell that there’s no substantive difference between the personhood of a “baby” in the womb on December 24 and that same baby born on December 25. But where are the fools when we need them?

Yeah, he’s right, without question, and you should read the rest. But the culture ain’t just abortion, and the question is a lot broader. Where’s popular music that is music? That died about 1980, maybe earlier. Now we simply have noise, and not because I’m an old fogey, I thought so in the 80s, and quit listening. Now, I listen to a 60s station from London on the internet, mostly, because even the classical stations have caught the infection.

Think that irrelevant? It’s not, culture pervades and includes all facets of life. If you listen to Handel and Bach (or even Elvis and the early Beatles, let alone Pet Clark and Frank Sinatra, it’s not something that wants to make you go kill babies. Now, I wonder.

What do you think when you see a US Soldier on the street? For me, and many of us, they are the heirs of the Continental Army, both sides in the Civil War, and the men that fought off Hitler’s and Tojo’s minions, thus saving the world. If you see anything else, well the culture is declining and quickly.

So many things like that, and it all goes into the death of our culture. If we don’t resuscitate if soon, it, and we, will die.

Hurricane Interlude: HMS Pinafore

English: A lithographic poster for one of the ...

English: A lithographic poster for one of the many American productions of H.M.S. Pinafore, mostly unlicenced. Français : Affiche lithographique pour l’une des nombreuses mises en scènes de l’opérette H.M.S. Pinafore. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Look, I’m a realist, and if you’re spending time online today, you’re mostly reading about the hurricane in Florida. In truth, so am I, and I have little to contribute to that. No doubt, we’ll talk about it soon. But right now, I have little to contribute. But we have been seeing already stories about the Royal Navy (and Air Force) and their relief efforts, and soon the United States Navy will also be involved. But if you’ve a little time, perhaps a little classical nonsense, referred to by Bart Simpson, Captain Picard, and Indiana Jones. In other words, the operetta that made Gilbert and Sullivan a watchword, not only in England ( although he certainly was an Englishman) but also in America. First published on 9 August 20015. Enjoy, it’s been one of my greatest pleasures all my life.

I’m in the mood to mostly screw off today, so here’s an old friend, for your (and my) enjoyment.

There’s no deep message intended here, it’s Saturday, and time to wind down from another week. Cause we ain’t gonna fix it before Monday, anyway. So sit back and enjoy some of the first (semi) serious music that I fell in love with as a kid. The old Golden Records survey of music opened a lot of doors for me, and this is one of them.

From the 2005 Proms: HMS Pinafore

Any resemblance to the US Government is (I hope) coincidental,

but I wouldn’t bet much on it.

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