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Archive for the tag “Good Times”

GrooveCentralLA……a very special Christmas Holiday edition

XMC46-SANTA-MONICA-PIERHere it is the High Holiday Season, and you can bet Christmas songs will be heard – either through the muffled sound of department store speakers, booze soaked carollers, or the jaunty humming of a family member while cooking with tremendous magnificence.    Christmas songs will be heard, waft around for a while in our cluttered heads, then hopefully drip out our ears in a timely manner.  And for sure, two of the songs that will be heard will be “Jingle Bells” and “White Christmas”.

Unknown-2Jimmy Pierpont was a guy from the Boston area and like so many others, made a run for the gold in 1849 leaving his wife and kids for the California Gold Rush.  Jimmy tried mining and came up empty so he opened a photography studio in San Francisco, which like his mining career, went up in flames.  After failing at the Gold Rush, Jimmy returned to the East, grabbedUnknown-1
his wife and children and headed south, a wiser yet poorer man. Always handy with a song and known to tickle the ivories, Jimmy gave music lessons centering on the organ (this very organ currently resides at Florida State University and no doubt has brought inspiration to the many fine and upstanding scholar-athletes who have attended there.)  Trying his hand at song writing, Jimmy came up with a couple of danceable ditties “Ring the Bell, Fanny” and “The Know Nothing Polka” (perhaps you know them well?), but none of these caught on like his 1857 number “Jingle Bells” or as it was originally titled “The One Horse Open Sleigh.” (I call the song by its original title and I suggest you do the same.) Though originally written as a Thanksgiving song, somehow it found its way into the roasted chestnuts of our Christmas music lexicon forever.  “Jingle Bells” was the first song broadcasted from space in a Christmas themed prank from the great comedy team and Gemini 6 astronauts, Wally Schirra and Tommy Stafford.  On December 16th, 1965 they sent a report to Mission Control: “Gemini VII this is Gemini VI. We have an object, looks like a satellite going from north to south, up in a polar orbit. He’s in a very low trajectory traveling from north to south and has a very high climbing ratio. It looks like it might even be a …Very low…Looks like he might be reentering soon. Stand by…You might just let me try to pick up this thing. I see a command module and eight smaller modules in front. The pilot of the command module is wearing a red suit”  Then the astronauts produced a smuggled harmonica and sleigh bells (first musical instruments Unknown-3played in space) and broadcast their rendition of “Jingle Bells”.  Astronauts are known whimsicle jesters and great guys to throw down 7 or 8 Anejo and sodas with at the Shangri-La Hotel.  Next time the opportunity comes up, give it the nod.  Jimmy never made a lot of dough off “The One Horse Open Sleigh” though around the world it remains one of the most recognized and performed songs ever written.  Jimmy called it a day August 5th, 1893 in Winter Haven, Fla and was elected to the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame. But if he had lived long enough and things got bad, he always could have borrowed some scratch from his nephew J.P. (Pierpont) Morgan.

c82n530t-FILEID-1.122.43Next time you are headed out to Palm Springs and feeling a quart low, please stop at two or three of the 45 fast food arenas in the Banning, California sector. If done correctly you will leave this burg with a seaweed slippery glaze to your skin. But besides its wonderful name (Yes, I have been offered numerous political and military posts there – none that I have deemed appropriate….yet.) and the massive amount of fast food choices, the City of Banning has an odd claim to fame. The City Fathers say that the great Irving Berlin wrote “White Christmas” there while at the Briargate Lodge, a claim which I see no reason to doubt. (Those creeps down at the Arizona Biltmore have also raised their squeaky voices claiming the song was written there, and of course there is the laughable idea that he wrote it at his home in New York state.)   Irv Berlin was a Russian born (full name: Israel Isidore Baline) composer and lyricist who wrote some of the great ones: “Blue Skies”, “Putin’ on the Ritz”, “God Bless America” and a song that both my sisters have tortured me Unknownwith “There is No Show Business Like Show Business” while thinking they were conjuring up the ghost of Ethel Merman, but in reality sounded more like the very dead ghost of a booze addled Ethel Mertz (wife of Fred.) But none of Irv’s hits were 41EKY1HR82Lclose to “White Christmas” as far as popularity. The Bing Crosby version has sold over 50 million records, thus being the best-selling single of all time. Irv has another act that will never be topped: he is the only oscar award presenter and award winner to open the envelope and read his own name (for ” White Christmas” of course, from the movie “Holiday Inn” in 1942.) The awkwardness you could have hung Jimmy Pierpont’s organ on, so the powers that be at the academy will not let that happen again.

So there you have it. This year you might be humming “The One Horse Open Sleigh” to yourself as you look at a clear cool night and spy in the sky a command module with a fat guy in a red suit driving with eight smaller modules in front, or munching down on a triple cheese burger with mystery sauce dancing down your chin, slowly nodding your head to “Der Bingle’s” version of ” White Christmas”. As we get closer to wrapping up this eventful year please know in your heart that all of us here at GrooveCentralLA wish you and yours the very best holiday season. Oh and truth be told, my sisters do a wonderful “There’s No Business Like Show Business” and you shouldethel-1974 request their rendition each and every time you see them (also available by phone and phone messaging ). Groove.

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Let us drink wine and escape for a moment or two

 

campThe word escape means different things to different people. Escape could mean getting away from something that curdles the blood and hazes one’s judgement. It could mean getting away from a loveless marriage or a life baked hardpan hard.  And it can also mean escaping from a World War II prison camp with the help of the world’s most famous board game, Monopoly.

Aaaaahhh Monopoly…  Who hasn’t spent a few pleasant hours trying to steal Monopolyimages-1 cash when your sisters aren’t looking or perhaps sprucing up some of those ill gained properties with a few stolen green houses or red hotels….then watch as the sisters grovel – unable to pay the exorbitant rent that you charge…and then see them curse their unfortunate choices of the thimble, the joyless iron, or that little yapping Scotty dog.  Okay, none of that actually happened (I’m pretty sure), but the point being, is that we’ve all enjoyed the game.  It began to be mass marketed in 1934 and I’m sure there are some of us who recoiled in horror and disbelief upon hearing the plans to replace the Scotty, the race horse, the hat, the wheelbarrow, the imagesshoe, the battleship, and of course the thimble. (The new pieces have been chosen, but their lameness prevents listing.)

During WW2 large numbers of British airmen found themselves in POW camps trying to figure out how to escape.XIB_BU3856  Well, here comes the Monopoly angle: Germany, in a rare nod to the Geneva Convention, allowed humanitarian groups to distribute care packages to the prisoners and one of the items allowed in those packages were “games and pastimes.”  So the British came up with fake charities that sent Monopoly games to the prisoners. The games were licensed to the British, so instead of having streets from Atlantic City like the American game, the British ones had streets from London.  Carefully placed inside the boards were escape tools like tiny compasses that could fit on the fingertip, metal files, German money which was mixed into the Monopoly money, and most important, silk maps (silk because they were hardier than paper, wouldn’t tear easily or desolve if wet and they didn’t make noise.) Royal Air Force flyers were told that if there was a red dot in the free parking area of the board that it was a “special edition” with the escape tools within.  It is estimated monopoly_wwii_silk_escape_map_-_credit_phil_orbanes_0that more than 35,000 P.O.W’s successfully escaped from prison camps with approximately 1/3 using the rigged Monopoly sets. In a way this gives new meaning to the “get out of jail free” card.  Unfortunately, there are none of these special boards in existence because the airmen were told to destroy the boards in order to keep the secret from the Germans. Escape they did with the help of the escape tools and old Rich Uncle Pennybags (that’s the name of the chubby guy with the stash and the top hat who is always so happy ) .

Escape can mean many things. Some want to escape reality, some want to escape a mundane existence.  Some want to escape the sin-then-repent cycle, some want to escape the necessity of choice. But for many of us, you can never escape

YUM! wear 309

the want and need for a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken or a pair of Double Doubles with grilled onions and a fry pack when you’re hung over. Groove.

Come On Over For Some Booze, Steak and Abdominal Thrusts

IMG_4001[1]There are some things I am good at, but there are many things at which I am a complete failure. As much as I have tried, I’ve been unable to bring in velour as a staple fabric for Men’s clothing, I cannot open a string cheese package to save my life (I now use a combination of various saws, pliers and a blow torch), and despite a concerted effort on my part, to this day nobody calls me Commodore. But, one day a few years ago, I did do something right. I successfully administered the Heimlich maneuver on a very good friend of mine when he was choking on a piece of steak.

It is not an uncommon practice for me to gather friends around and chew on chucks of meat while consuming alcohol,DSCN1431 and thus it was on a sunny day in the backyard when my very good friend and a wonderful gent Big Joe Smith (Titanic to some…when he goes down he takes others with him) suddenly rose from the table, turned blueprint blue, and indicated that the ribeye had not found its rightful home. A clogged pipe it was.  So I sprang into action (anyone who knows me, knows I never ever spring into any action) and I got behind Big Joe, did the pointy thumb thing into his solar plexus (or there abouts), and let her rip. Out came a piece of steak the size of Mickey Rooney, which sailed across the yard at the speed of a Nike missile landing somewhere on Wilshire Blvd.  Joe seemed fine so we threw down more booze and ate more meat.

Dr.-Henry-Heimlich1So what is the deal with the Heimlich? Well, Dr. Henry Heimlich lives in Cincinnati, and as of this writing he is 95 years old.  He is wierdly related to some very cool people (perhaps not). First of all, he is the uncle of Anson Williams, better known as “Potsie” from the 70’s TV show “Happy Days” and secondly, his father-in-law is ballroom-dancing entrepreneur Arthur Murray. (The

Potsie

Potsie

pressure on the first dance at their wedding had to be enormous.)  Hank first published his views on the Heimlich maneuver in June of 1974.  Shortly after that the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported that a retired restaurant-owner used the

Arthur Murray

Arthur Murray

procedure to rescue a choking victim and since then it has been reported to have saved thousands of lives. From 1976 to 1985 the choking – rescue guidelines of the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association taught rescuers to first perform a series of back blows and if that didn’t work then use the Heimlich maneuver . From 1986 to 2005 the AHA and the ARC dropped the hard blows to the back and only recommended the Heimlich Maneuver.

But for some reason Doc H. hopped on the train to Wierdsville and believe me he made it to themalaria2 station on time. He started saying the HM was a good treatment for drownings and strongly recommended Malariotherapy (the deliberate infection of a person with benign malaria) to treat cancer, lyme disease, and HIV. His son Peter has a website which describes what he alleges to be his father’s “wide-ranging, unseen 50 year history of fraud.”  The American Heart Association ceased referring to the “Heimlich Maneuver” now refers to it as “abdominal thrusts” and the American Red Cross is also fazing out the name “Heimlich”.

DSCN0475So who knows, soon old Doc Heimlich might drop off the face of the earth and with him goes his name connected to this mighty maneuver.  Perhaps a swift  kick to Big Joe’s undercarriage might have taken care of that Porterhouse and the maneuver was unnecessary.  So let us gather around and have a steak and booze session in our backyard, try to get meat stuck in our throats, fool around with some “abdominal thrusts” and some intense back pounding, maybe some good old self induced malaria, and see what really works. Who’s in? Groove.

On to Aqaba for some rum drinks and Cosmo Tidbits


216661751_8d4bf8a42e_mMany moons ago, when the flame of stupidity burned hotter than it does now and the call of mischief was considerably louder, I used to roll into Trader Vic’s in Beverly Hills at Merv’s place, the venerable Beverly Hilton. I images-1would throw down a river of Samoan Fog-Cutters and if the timing was right, I’d order something called  Cosmo Tidbits. Never found out who Cosmo was (Cosmo Topper ?), but I always enjoyed his tidbits:images-6
crispy rolls of Asian delights, ribs bathed in red dye number 2, enough deep fried grooves to make Orson Wells cry with happiness and perfect if you’re a quart low.

images-2So in honor of Cosmo here are a couple of History’s tidbits:  1) Lawrence of Arabia was called Ned by his family (Ned of Arabia?) and only became famous after WWI because he was featured in a 1919  lecture tour by American war corespondent Lowell Thomas. Unlike the 6 foot 3 inch Peter O’Toole who portrayed him in the 1962 epic “Lawrence of Arabia” (the film is unusual because there are no women with speaking credits), the real Lawrence was just 5’4″ and was very self conscience of his diminutive stature. He refused knighthood because of his belief that the British government betrayed the Arabs, but he did join both the Royal tank corp and the Royal Air Force under assumed names to dodge the glare of celebrity and lived under assumed names until his death. Lawrence images-3worked for and became great friends with Winston Churchill, who upon hearing of Ned’s passing said  “I deem him one of the greatest beings alive in our time.”  Lawrence died in a motorcycle accident in 1936 at the age of 46 and the surgeon who tried to save his life, Dr. Hugh Cairns, then developed some of the first crash helmets for motorcycle riders.

images-52) The Statue of Liberty’s full name is Liberty Enlightening the World, or as I call her, Lew.  She was given to us as a gift from France in 1886 and was designed by Fred Bartholdi. Lew’s shoe size is a 879 wide. Gus Eiffel, of Eiffel Tower fame (1889) was the cat who built the metal frame workAssembling the Statue of Liberty (1) that holds the copper skin of Lew. Gus was later found guilty of misappropriation of funds during France’s failed attempt at the Panama canal, but never did a stretch in the Big House because of a technicality.  If you hold 2 pennies together that is the thickness of the copper skin on Lew (3/32 of an inch). Lew was slightly injured when some wacked out German saboteurs set off a bomb in 1916, but she shrugged it off and has been lookingAssembling the Statue of Liberty (5) really good for a gal 128 years old (a bit on the stiff side, but still very cool.)

It has been a long time since I’ve been to Trader Vic’s and perhaps it is time to return. I first went there as a young tot with my Grandpa Dan, who was a dapper gentleman, both kind and generous.  I think a few Samoan Fog-Cutters are in order, so if anyone would like to join me, please let me know.  It’s time that we throw down some sweet Rum mystery, order up a vintage-postcard-from-trader-viccouple of Cosmo Tidbits and make numerous toasts to Ned, Lew, and Granpa Dan.  Besides, right around now I am feeling a quart low. Groove.

 

Groove Central LA Quiz Masters Tourney

quizIt is time again for the 2nd annual Groove Central LA Quiz Masters tourney. After a long journey the two winners from the last contest, the noble Nelson Holdo and the superlative Tom Collins, have been paid in full. Both wore the crown with dignity and both wore it well. If you remember, the first two contestants who answer all of the questions correctly will win 3 drinks to be purchase by the Groovemaster himself at an appropriate venue. This also includes a limited amount of witty conversation and a hearty hand clasp thrown in as a bonus. Best of luck, but as the great Branch Rickey said “Luck is the residue of design.”

1)  Herb Alpert (of Tijuana Brass fame and A & M Records (A meaning Alpert, M for Jerry Moss )    Unknown-1

  • a) was born in Tijuana, Mexico and would often perform at the famous ” Long Bar ” bar in downtown TJ
  • b) comes from a Jewish family that came to the US from the Ukraine
  • c) Father worked on the presidential sculptures on Mount Rushmore
  • d)  Mother was a famous flagpole sitter during the 20’s.

2)  We all groove on Duke Kahanamoku, a pioneer of surfing and 3 time Oly gold medal winner. Duke was alsoimages

  • a) instrumental in bringing  ” beach Volleyball ” here to California and was also the athletic director at Santa Monica’s “Beach Club”
  • b) was an amazing dancer to the point of being admired by Fred Astaire.
  • c)  refused to eat anything red
  • d) starred in a Tarzan movie along with friend and swimming champion Johnnie Weissmuller playing the part of  “Mombobo”, a tribal chieftain.

3)  In ” Mein Kampf ” (My Struggle) , Adolf Hitler’s 1925 memoir, the only American who was mentioned favorably is

  • a) Al Capone
  • b) Charles Lindbergh
  • c) Henry Ford
  • d) Ryan Braun

4)  Which one of these items were NOT originally made in Switzerland ? ch~

  • a) electric toothbrush
  • b) LSD (not talking about the great new band Lake Street Dive)
  • c) cellophane
  • d)  rotary phone dial

5)  Marlon Brando’s son said “the last time my father left his house to go anywhere it was with ………    He was instrumental helping my father through the last years of his life.”   Was he referring to

  • a) Jack Nicholson
  • b) Dean Martin
  • c) Michael Jackson
  • d) Johnnie Carson

6)  We all know and groove on the early 20th century writer Zane Grey (whose first name was Pearl), who appeared to be a

Zane

Zane

pleasant and unassuming dentist from Ohio who wrote adventure stories, mostly cowboy, then hit it big with “Riders of the Purple Sage.”  He also had a big pad in Catalina overlooking Avalon harbor which is now a hotel.  Over the years, 112 films have been made from his works and in his peak he made $500,000 in one year. By comparison, F.Scott Fitzgearald, in his best year, made $37,500.  But Zane had a secret. It was :

  • a) His books were written by a blind and deaf brother who never knew of his brother’s success or fame
  • b) He kept an enormous cache of pornography sometimes with Zane as the star performer
  • c) Was arrested, but not convicted, of a string of murders of young girls in Mexico City
  • d) was a cross dresser preferring Angora sweaters, tight black dresses, and red pumps.

7)   After refusing surgery this person  said: “I want to go when I want. It is tasteless to prolong life artificially. I have done my share. I will do it elegantly. ”

  • a) Eleanor Roosevelt
  • b) Steve Jobs
  • c) Albert Einstein
  • d)  Walter Cronkite

8)   Here, I will lob you a beach ball right across the plate. Sandy Koufax, Dodger great and one of the coolest cats around, Sandy-Koufax-Ballscould hold how many baseballs in one hand ?   (Try it yourself…)

  • a ) 4
  • b) 5
  • c) 6
  • d) 7

9)  If you fell off a 30 foot building would you wildly scream, utter a quick yelp, or silently face your fate?   This is NOT part of the quiz. I’m just asking.

10)  Which of these records was established way back in 1978 and has yet to be broken

  • a) the Men’s long jump
  • b) the top speed on water
  • c) the top speed on land
  • d) the Women’s discus throw

11) Boston Corbett was the man who shot and killed John Wilkes Booth (Lincoln’s assassin) in a barn in Virginia 12 days after Unknown-3Lincoln’s assassination.  Henry Rathbone was with Abe and Mary in the booth at Fords theatre when the dastardly deed was done, sustaining a serious wound from Booth’s Bowie knife.  Beside being part of this American trajedy what else did these two men have in common?

  • a) both were placed in an asylum for the insane
  • b) both died in the Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919 which killed 21 people
  • c) both played for Abner Doubleday’s ” Knickerbockers ” baseball team
  • d) both played at the 1st Nick Talent Full Throttle Wide Open.

12) Who said that he “half-regretted the demise of so many of the valley’s orchard trees, because now there are no longer enough trees to hang all the troublemakers who live there. ”

  • a) George Armstrong Custer
  • b) William Sheridan
  • c) Gutzen Borglum
  • d) William Mulholland

Well there you have it. Good times await a couple of wonderful souls who will have the great fortune of consuming alcohol with the Groovemaster.   Nelson and Tom, do you have the juices for a repeat?    Thanks and Groove.

With Tom

With Tom

With Nelson

With Nelson

Let Us Pause and Drink a Toast to San Francisco

San-Francisco-2“The Cool Gray City of Love”.  San Francisco, a place where the groove is easily found. Nothing like rollin’ into a hundred year old San Francisco bar with a stack of twenties and then rollin’ into a few more. A few touristy places to avoid, but I suppose it is the scent of burnished brass and smoked soaked, paneled walls that smell like so much history that is attractive to me. Let us not forget the possibility that in San Francisco one just might make a little history of their own. The night might be vigorous and savage or perhaps sanguine and solitary, but I’ve never had the feeling for San Francisco that one has for a plate of food after attempting to eat it’s less than noble contents.

Most of the physical sites in the “City” are cool (Alcatraz, Coit Tower, Lombard Street, etc), but it is the people who make up the complicated fabric that are so fascinating – their tolerance of the uneven, their embracing of the odd, and their joyful  understanding of the less fortunate and bizarre.  A couple of cases in point: Batkid  (please do not mistake for Bat Boy…long time fodder for the greasy tommyrot tabloids) and Emperor Norton .

Nov, 2013. A five-year old named Miles Scott was delivered the thrill of a lifetime thanks to the “Make -a-Wish Foundation” opvdr-bat-kid-1and the wonderfully empathetic City of San Francisco, which for a short time changed into Gotham City. Miles had suffered for the past 3 years from Leukemia which was now in remission. His greatest wish was to be Batman and the “City” and “Make-a-Wish” promised to make that come true. The effort included Miles’ own Batmobile ( a black Lamborghini), a Bat-kid-san-francisco-event-viralpersonal call from S.F. Police Chief Greg Suhr for help, the apprehension of the Riddler, and a flash mob involving hundreds of people in Union Square alerting Batkid to the fact that the PenguinMiles had kidnapped Lou Seal, The S.F. Giants mascot. Batkid then chased the Penguin around AT&T Park, rescued Lou Seal, thus earning a chocolate key to the city which was presented at City Hall before thousands of onlookers.  All of these exploits were covered on live television and written about in the “Gotham City Chronicle” with the top stories penned by Clark Kent and Lois Lane. I just can’t see all this happening in the City of Fallen Angels…

His-Imperial-Majesty-Emperor-Norton-I-portrait-cropJoshua Abraham Norton, came from England to San Francisco in 1849 with $40 grand – ready to make it big. He had early success playing the real estate game, but in an effort to try to corner the rice market he lost all his dough, his pad, and apparently his marbles. He fled San Francisco in a terrible state, but returned to the “City” in 1859 with a very different mind-set.  Josh Norton was no longer Josh Norton – he was now Imperial Majesty Emperor Norton I, Emperor of the United States and emperor-nortonProtector of Mexico. Immediately the city of San Francisco opened its arms to the Emperor’s eccentric “Imperial” behavior which consisted of the issuance of various decrees (the firing of the United States Congress (I concur), making the use of the word ” Frisco” a crime, demanding that the “League of Nations” be started, construction of an underwater tunnel between Oakland and San Francisco begin, and the building of the San Francisco Bay Bridge……amazing how many of these ” Decrees” came to later fruition.)   Although penniless, he 8f40839dd4ce3a681c1dbc16f8c92258regularly ate at the finest of restaurants decked in an elaborate blue uniform with gold-plated epaulets given to him by the officers of the U.S. Army  post at the Presidio. Restauranteurs took it upon themselves to add brass plaques in their entrances which read “by Appointment to His Imperial Majesty, Emperor Norton ! of the United States.”  Such “Imperial Seals” were much sought after and were a substantial boost of groove to the restaurants. No play or musical performance would dare to open without IMG_6212reserving balcony seats for Norton. In 1867 , a policeman without a clue arrested Norton to commit him to involuntary treatment at a mental facility. The Emperor’s arrest outraged the citizens of the fair city and sparked scathing editorials. The Police chief Pat Crowley ordered Norton released and issued a formal apology.  Norton, with a bow and a sweep of the hand granted an “Imperial Pardon” to the errant policeman.  After this incident, all S.F. policemen saluted the Emperor as he strolled inspecting the condition of the sidewalks, cable cars, and the appearance of Police officers. The 1870 U.S. census lists Joshua Norton “as 50 years old and residing at 624 Commercial Street; occupation “Emperor.”

Norton-0021The Emperor called it a day January 8th, 1880 and by the good graces of the Pacific Club of San Francisco, Norton was laid to rest in a rosewood casket and buried at the Masonic Cemetery. The San Francisco Chronicle reported “…all classes from capitalists to pauper, the clergyman to the pickpocket, well dressed ladies and those whose drab grab and bearing hinted of a social outcast” lined the street to say goodbye to the Emperor. Some accounts say up to 30,000 were there to sayjoshua-emperor-norton-i-norton-1 adieu. Isobel Osbourne, in her book The Life I’ve Loved wrote “Norton was a gentle and kindly man, and fortunately found himself in the friendliest and most sentimental city in the world, the idea being let him be the emperor if he wants to. San Francisco played the game with him.”

There are good times in San Francisco and you don’t have to look too hard to find them. The waiters are not plastic actors in waiting, but actual waiters and there is decent value in their cocktails. Dress and act like Batkid or Emperor Norton and no one will bother you. It fact, they will probably smile and buy you multiple drinks. Just don’t call it “Frisco” or you will pay dearly for your egregious crime. Groove.

Big Al, Fast Eddie, Ursula, and Butch

th-2It is true that screen writer Robert Towne (Shampoo, the Last Detail ) wrote the screen play for ” Chinatown ” at the Banning House Lodge at the Isthmus on Catalina Island, California. It is  true that the Ford Thunderbird, the low, stylish two-seater iconic car of the 50’s, was named after the Thunderbird Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Ford.1957.Thunderbird ConvertibleCalifornia . The country club was also the first place that golf carts were  used, invented by assistant pro Eddie Susalla.  It is also true  that during World War II, the casualty rate for every 1000 US Army soldiers in uniform was 24,  for the US Marines there were 29 casualties for every 1000, and for the US Air Corps it was a startling 400 of every 1000  bomber crew members that were casualties. The average age of a typical US soldier in WW2 was 26 (in Vietnam it was 19) born in the year that the war to end all wars ended (World War I, 1918).  He weighed 144 pounds and was 5’8″.  One in three only had a grade school education, one in four held a high school diploma, and one in ten attended college for at least one semester. This is all true.

cache_500_1_1_img_222195_a1931a6c18d4ba557ed854bcae419b41jpg.imgBut what is not true is that Fast Eddie O’Hare turned in his client Al Capone to the Feds and the IRS because he wanted his son Butch to learn the value of honesty and integrity. There have been attempts to tell this tale as a story of redemption and a morality play to demonstrate the importance of recognizing the errors of one’s ways, of atoning for one’s misdeeds, of trying to do right and prevent one’s sins from being visited upon future generations.  All valuable lessons indeed, but they have little to do with the true story of Fast Eddie, Ursula (Eddie’s fiance), Eddie’s son Butch, and Al ” Scarface” Capone.

Fast Eddie was a St. Louis attorney who ditched his wife, got a divorce, and moved to Chicago where he started collaborating with Big Al both in biz and in law.  A lot of lettuce tumbled Eddie’s way and the al-caponeChicago night life was doing him favors.  Eddie hooked up with Ursula Sue Granata whom he planned to marry, but being a good Catholic lad he couldn’t pull the marriage trigger because of the divorce, which made Ursula none too happy.  Eddie sent a lot of dough to the Vatican in hopes that a request for a dispensation would come through, but Eddie had to keep on waiting.  Eddie was rolling in the green doing legal work for Al and sharing in the huge profits from these less than noble activities.  Besides dancin in the dough, living the highlife with Ursula, and groovin with Big Al, Eddie was also an adoring father to his son Butch who he tried to give all the best things in life.

But here is when the baloney hits the meat grinder: Fast Eddie could give Butch all that money could buy, but what he couldn’t do was give Butch a good name, a name not tarnished by the  putrid smell of association with gangsters.  So, to rectify this malady Eddie decided to go to the authorities, admit his crimes, tell the truth, and turn in evidence of tax evasion by Al Capone to the IRS thus sending Big Al to Federal Prison at Alcatraz.  Eddie did this knowing that by turning against his boss and giving states evidence he would be signing his own death warrant, but this way Eddie would be doing the right thing by telling the truth and would be  teaching Butch a valuable lesson in integrity…… all of this is a towering lather of fabrication.

Edward_J._O_Hare_s

Ed O’Hare

Fast Eddie did eventually provide valuable information that aided Federal authorities in sending Capone to prison for income tax evasion, but he didn’t do it because of an attack of conscience or wanting to right the numerous wrongs he had done.  He did it because he saw that Big Al was going down and tried to save his own skin from going to the big house.  Cutting a deal with the Feds was the easy part; dodging the bullets from the guns of Big Al’s apes – not so easy.

So Al goes away to the slammer and “The Chicago Outfit” is now run by Frank “The Enforcer” Nitti.  What happens to Fast Eddie, Butch, and Ursula ? Well, on November 8th, 1939 Fast Eddie got into his 1939 Lincoln, placed a Spanish made .32 – caliber pistol on the seat and drove away from his office.  As Eddie approached the corner of Ogden and Rockwell (no relation) a car roared up beside him and two professionals let loose double volleys from shot guns killing Eddie instantly.  In his pocket was a rosary, a crucifix, and a poem clipped from a magazine. ” The clock of life is wound but once And no man has the power To tell just when the hands will stop At late or early hour Now is the only time you own Live, love, toil with a will Place no faith in time For the clock may soon be still”. Eddie was 46 years old and was a rat who got what he deserved.

Ohare

Butch O’Hare

Butch O’Hare became a Navy pilot in the Pacific theater during World War II and was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic effort in shooting down five Japanese bombers in defense of his carrier ” The

Butch being awarded the Medal of Honor

Butch being awarded the Medal of Honor

Lexington” thus becoming the Navy’s first “Ace” of the War. “One of the most daring, if not the most daring, single action in the history of combat aviation” stated President Roosevelt.  On November 26 th, 1943

during a night mission Butch was shot down and lost at sea. There is evidence that indicates he was killed by friendly fire.  Butch O’Hare was suitably honored when the Chicago airport once known as Orchard Depot was renamed O’Hare International in 1949 and continues today as the world’s busiest airport.

Frank "The Enforcer" Nitti

Frank “The Enforcer” Nitti

Can’t forget about Ursula, Eddie’s fiance.  Several months after Eddie was killed Ursula married Frank “The Enforcer” Nitti , the boss who ordered Eddie’s murder.  Can’t trust those “good time gals” and you can’t trust a slimy rat “mouthpiece”.

Groove.

Slippin’ On Your Travelling Shoes

th-15Travel…   I like to travel. Usually it’s a place with a great beach (Hawaii, Mexico) where my only decisions are whether to go into warm water or have another cocktail (usually the arrow points to the latter).  This is a very narrow view of the world, but has afforded me wonderful conversations with alleged heretics, blockade runners, utopian community leaders, scary men with dark initiatives, victims of shipwrecks, seedsmen, and midnight ramblers. Some of which I call my friends.

The word travel derives from the French word travail, meaning toil. Only in recent centuries has traveling come to be regarded as a recreational pursuit.  I don’t like to ” toil” and I don’t like to “pursue” unless it is for

a warm water beach and an excellent cocktail – so maybe a traveller I am not, but these following fellows surely are: John Ledyard, Richard Halliburton, and Duncan Hines (yeah, that Duncan Hines).  All three have travelled different paths, some with larger legacies than the others.

thJohn Ledyard was born in Connecticut in 1751.  Quit Dartmouth so he could “ramble more”.  Joined up with Capt. James Cook in the British Navy and saw the Cape of Good Hope, Tasmania, New Zealand, Tahiti, Hawaii, was the 1st US citizen to touch the western shores of the United States, toured Alaska, then the Bering Sea, back to Hawaii where Cook ran a foul with some of the natives and was stabbed to death, then all the way back to England.  Then on to Paris, where he conceived a bold scheme of exploration with the then American Ambassador to France, Tommy Jefferson, and was backed with dough from the Marquis de Lafayette, on a mission to explore the American continent by proceeding overland through Russia, crossing the Bering Strait, head south through Alaska, then across the American west to eventually Virginia. That is a lot of walking especially on a solo.  Sometimes I have trouble getting out of my chair and walking to the bar.

Well, Johnny didn’t make it. Went as far as eastern Siberia where he was arrested as a suspected spy on orders from  Cathy the Great and sent back to Poland, then eventually to London where he decided to walk from the Red Sea to the Atlantic ocean. Things don’t always work so well for some of those ramblin types and it didn’t work out so well for Johnny. While in Cairo, he accidentally chugged some sulfuric acid and did the big burnout from within (never a good way to go).  John Ledyard was buried in the shifting sand dunes lining the Nile, the location of his grave unknown today. Ledyard was described as a “mad, dreaming romantic” who in his day travelled to five different continents under the “common flag of humanity “.  This guy went the road less travelled and might have gone further if he laid off the sulfuric acid cocktails.th-2

Richard Halliburton was of the dashing sort. Very famous during his days, Richie made travel writing exciting with his globe trotting antics and dare devil deeds.  Born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1900, a well bred upbringing and the soft comforts of home could not contain him. “Youth– nothing else worth having in the world…and I have youth, the transitory, the fugitive, now, completely and abundantly. Yet what am I going to do with it?  Certainly not squander its gold on the commonplace quest for riches and respectability, and then secretly lament the price that had to be paid for these futile ideas. Let those who wish have their respectability – I want freedom, freedom to indulge in whatever caprice strikes my fancy, freedom to search in the furthermost corners of the earth for the beautiful, the joyous, and the romantic.” And Indulge he did.

th-7Halliburton rode an elephant over the Alps (he named her Miss Elysabethe Dalrymple), flew a crimson red bi-plane upside down over the Taj Mahal (he called his plane the Magic Carpet), dove into the cursed Mayan Well of Death in the Yucatan, swam the length of the Panama Canal (was charged a $0.36 fee), lived on Devils Island, enlisted in the French Foreign legion, took the chief of Dyak headhunters for a ride in his plane and received a gift of 100 shrunken heads for his effort, was the first to climb Mount Fujiyama in midwinter, had a long affair with screen idol Ramon Novarro, built a glass and concrete house above Laguna Beach called ” the Hangover house” in the 1930s which is stillth-5 there today, climbed the Matterhorn, and wrote about all his exploits in travel books and magazines which made him quite wealthy.

On March 3rd 1939 Halliburton began to sail a Chinese junk across the Pacific Ocean. The Sea Dragon was a th-8gaudily decorated 75 ft.ship that looked better than it floated, and was more properly suited for a ride at Disneyland than challenging the Pacific Ocean. Leaving Hong Kong in route to San Francisco with a crew of 7, the “Dragon” ran into a typhoon. ” Southernly Gales…Rain Squalls…Leeward Rail Under Water…Wet Bunks…Hardtack Bully Beef…Having Wonderful Time, Wish You Were Here Instead Of Me.” were the last words coming from the  Sea Dragon. The search turned up nothing. Richard Halliburton and crew had disappeared under the waves.  He was 39 years old.

Duncan Hines was a road weary traveling salesman who worked for a Chicago printer. By 1935 and at the age of 55 th-13Duncan had eaten a lot of good and bad grub across the US of A. Old Dunc and his wife Flo began assembling a list for friends of good restaurants around the country which became so popular he put the recommendations in a paperback and called it ” Adventures in Good Eating”. One such listing in 1939 read: Corbin, KY, Court and Cafe, open all year except Xmas 24 hr. service Sizzling Steaks, fried chicken, country ham Lunch $.50-$1.00 Dinner $.60 -$1.00  Good Eats ! Duncan claims he traveled 2 million miles across this great land and the phrase ” Recommended by Duncan Hines” became something to strive for. He started a newspaper article called ” Adventures in Good Eating at Home” with recipes acquired from the best restaurants he enjoyed. He even introduced Duncan Hines Bread to the world through the Durkee’s Bakery. Hines sold the rights to his name which was eventually bought by Proctor and Gamble. He never pretended to be a cake dude , but enjoyed the accolades of the most moistness of all the cakes. Big D died of the Big C at the age of 71.

th-18Moist cakes, shrunken heads, and sulfuric acid cocktails are all a big reach for me.  Now a traveller maybe I’m not, but I like three limes with my Anejo Rum and soda, warm water at my feet, and a good sunset. I sit having the docility of an old Springer Spaniel and in these days I am less excitable just more preoccupied. In  my tiny narrow view of the world – the world for the most part, is a beautiful place.  For me, these days, it’s perhaps more appreciated than trampled upon.  Groove.

Rock n’ Roll and the White Whale

Herman Melville

OK, it is a reach – but I want to talk Rock n Roll and Herman Melville.  I know you are thinking “GrooveCentral has thrown a few curveballs in his day, but R and R and the main Herman together?”

We all know Herman from days long ago when we were forced to read “Moby Dick – or the Whale “.  It was cool, a bit verbose, and I was slightly wierded by the “Marriage Bed” scene between Ishmael and Queequeg and the boys getting a little too into it with “the Squeeze of the Hand” chapter where the joyful camaraderie of the sailors goes to high levels when extracting spermaceti from a dead whale.  My projected life as a sailor was never that strong, and after reading Moby Dick it was extinguished like an ant versus a shoe on the streets of America.  Things didn’t really work out for Herm cause nobody really dug MD when he was alive and by the age of 35 any semblance of popularity was swept away like the Atlantic City boardwalk was by Big Sandy.   Moby Dick was dedicated to Herm’s pal Nat Hawthorne, who later backed away from their friendship and the book never sold its initial printing of 3,000 copies in his lifetime. The total dough received by Herm  was just $556.37 from his American publisher.  He spent the rest of his days as a Customs House inspector and when he called it a day in 1891 no one really cared.

Moby

Jump ahead 100 years and we all remember the 1990’s electronica-house music craze.  Wasn’t that me with my shirt off, a baby pacifier in my mouth, sweating profusely, jumping up and down wildly, with glow sticks coming out of my ears, and hugging equally sweaty strangers? (No, it wasn’t.)  But if that was me, perhaps I was listening to a guy who has sold over 20 million albums named Richard Melville Hall whose ancestrial relationship was that Herman Melville was his great-great-great grand uncle.  You might know him as Moby.

In the 1920’s there was a confluence of publishing events called “the Melville Revival”.  This occurred when a fellow named Ray Weaver came out with a sucessful biography on Herm and in doing his research he came across an unfinished manuscript given to him by Herm’s grandaughter.  It was called ” Billy Budd” and in 1962 it was made into a motion picture debuting a young actor named Terrace Stamp who was nominated for an oscar

Terry

for best supporting actor.  We all know Terry from ” The Adventures of Pricilla, Queen of the Desert” , as General Zod in “Superman 1 and 2”, and of course as English tycoon Sir Lawrence Wildman from “Wallstreet”  (“Gekko, you’re a two bit pirate”).  It turns out that Terry’s brother Chris Stamp was the long time manager of The Who and also helped shape Jimi Hendrix’s early career in England.  Didn’t someone on the Pequod play the accordion? ( The Who’s hit single” Squeeze Box” a coincidence?)

The Who

So there must have been a time when Herm was sitting by himself, sipping a glass of mead somewhere in the Big Apple, contemplating why his literary career lasted  the length of time  it takes to burn a match.  But little did he know that through fate, some convoluted reasoning, and a big stretch of the imagination Herman Melville would be connected to rock and roll.

Groove.

On another subject, GrooveCentral reached and paid off one of the winners of the GrooveCentralla Quiz we had a while back.  As promised, 3 drinks were purchased for the Great Tom Collins, who is always generous to a fault and the good times were ours (see picture).   The cloudiness of the evening’s events prevents a clear picture of the goings on, but Sir

Sir Tom & GrooveCentral

Tom always gives back more than he takes.  Good luck follows him closely because of the groove he spreads to the people.  Nelson (the other winner), you will be hearing from me shortly.  Again, Congrats to both.

Answers to questions you don’t need to know

Congrats again to Nelson Holder and Tom “Dusty Starr” Collins for answering all 11 questions correctly. Your booze awaits.  Martin Valade and Rob Perez deserve a nod of approval, but came up a little short.

Here are the answers:

The Hoff

1) Yes, the Hoff crab is named after the hairy chested David “The Hoff” Hasslehoff, the great actor from Baywatch and Knight Rider (my friend Bob Buena used to tell chicks that he was the voice of Kitt, the Trans Am that told ” The Hoff ” what to do…. I am sure it worked for him, though perhaps currently not as well.)  It proves that there are scientists that have a semblance of a sense of humor.

2) General Lew Wallace did write Ben-Hur which became the best selling book of the 19th century. It has never been out of print and has been adapted for film 4 times.  

3) Gilligan’s first name is Willie (there are a variety of spellings).  In one of the Brady Bunch movies it was hinted that Mrs. Brady’s first husband was a professor who was lost at sea. Both Gilligan’s Island and The Brady Bunch were created by Sherwood Schwartz.

4) Warren Zevon’s Dad, Willie Stumpy Zevon was a boxer and a bookmaker for notorious gangster Mickey Cohen. He was best man for Mickey first marriage.

5) The answer is 6,000,000 to 7,000,000.   The deaths of the American Civil War exceed the deaths of all U.S. wars combined.  An example of this is the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery’s charge at Petersburg, Virginia  where 635 of it’s 900 men were lost in 7 minutes.  The Christian family of Virginia lost 18 family members during the war.

6) The answer is Big Bill Taft. Bill was morbidly obese and suffered from loud belches and chronic flatulence. After his presidency he became Chief Justice of the United States. Sounds like a cool guy to groove with at an outdoor picnic, but not a fellow to get stuck in an elevator with.

7) Chuck Lindbergh had 7 kids outside of his marriage to Anne Morrow with 3 different German gals (two of them sisters). I suppose there is a reason Chuck is buried in Maui and Anne is buried back east.

8) Freddie Mercury was born a Parsi, with the name  Farrokh Bulsara in Zanzibar. He lived there and in India until his mid teens. He is known as Britain’s first Asian rockstar.

9) Gaylord Wilshire was a wild guy, but had very little to do with the magnificent street we know as Wilshire Blvd., owning just 4 blks which he donated to the city of Los Angeles under the agreement they name the street after him. Go to HMS Bounty bar which is connected to the Gaylord Apartments (named after Gaylord W.) and have a drink for every block he owned . You will groove.   

10) In his youth Daryl Gates was one time arrested for punching a police officer after getting a parking ticket. “Big D” as he was sometimes called, was Chief  “I’m so hammered that I find stairs a hazard” Parker’s driver and later became chief himself. Known as an arrogant leader and foolish with words (“casual drug users should be taken out and shot”) he resigned shortly after the Rodney King riots.

11) The answer here is Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Though one does not hear much from the Oswald the Lucky Rabbit Club or the Rabbiteers and I think one has to look very hard to find him at the Magic Kingdom, this does not diminish his groove to

Oswald

the Disney folks because he is one of the original characters.

So that’s it. Again, congratulations to Nelson and Tom for they are champions for the rest of their days. I would like to thank all that tested their useless knowledge in the hope of drinking alcohol with me .  Perhaps next time you might be the one wrestling with 3 Samoan Fog-cutters .  Groove.

Fog Cutter

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