GrooveCentralLA

What I groove on

Archive for the tag “History”

Join Us in Protest

photoLike a tasty wedding cake except without all the damn complications, Groove Central LA showed up in the Los Angeles Times sports section (in an article by the great Chris Erskine) by making a headless Bobblehead (bobbleteers) protest baseball game in the front lawn.  As diplomatic as an artillery bombardment, this statement is

In action

In action

designed to show the thirsty greed of our Los Angeles Dodgers and the inherently evil Time Warner Cable who are depriving 70 % of Los Angeles from watching Dodger

Night game

Night game

games and missing out on perhaps Vin Scully’s last year. These are high crimes and misdemeanors and put all Dodger fans in liverish moods. Perhaps We fans have failed to persuade – so now it is time to demonize. Join us at the rally 3 pm at the Shortstop Bar in Echo Park this Sunday (June 1). Is not being

Vinny keeps his head

Vinny keeps his head

able to watch Dodger games akin to the burning of the library of Alexandria? Perhaps not, but it is a blight on the joyous side of our existence and must not continue.   Link to article:  http://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgers/la-sp-dodgers-tv-erskine-20140529-column.html Join Us in Protest!

Groove.   Unknown-1

Advertisements

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.

Tigers get the Win the Colonel goes for a Swim

KfcWe all have hopes, dreams, and goals…some loftier than others. Perhaps it is to be the first female President of the USA or to climb the 10 highest peaks in the world.  Or maybe to rule the Planet Mars with an iron fist covered in purple crushed velvet or to own a 1000 ft luxury yacht and force your crew to dress in clown costumes.  These all make sense to me – but my hope, my dream, my goal last Sunday, after a night of extended Christmas partying, was to go to KFC and get some chicken.  Clearly, I was a quart low.

As I was filling my pores with the Colonel’s best and wondering why we have similar facial hair, suddenly I was reminded of a dark sinister curse involving the Colonel.  Not the Red Sox Curse of the thBambino, not the Cubs Curse of the Billy Goat, but the Curse of the Japanese Hanshin Tigers baseball team by the deceased KFC founder and mascot, Colonel Harlan Sanders.

01colonelcurseThe Curse is said to be on the team because of the Colonel’s well placed anger from the grave (The Colonel called it a day in 1980) over the treatment of one of his storefront statues.  Following their teams’s victory in the 1985 Japan Championship Series (they’re only  championship ), the Colonel’s statue was thrown into the Dotonbori River by celebrating Hanshin Tiger fans.  The Tiger fans are known as the most fanatical and dedicated fans of 428628_10151356196460807_1699313501_nJapanese baseball.  They have a reputation for rough and sometimes violent behavior, which is very rare in Japanese sports yet oddly in keeping with the rough and violent behavior of Colonel Harlan Sanders, who twice lost jobs for brawling with colleagues and ended his legal career after he engaged in a courtroom donnybrook with his own client.  Koshien Stadium (where the Tigers th-1play) is the oldest ballpark in Japan; built in 1925 and the Tigers themselves were founded in 1935.  The stadium was once visited by the great Babe Ruth in 1934.

After the Tigers won their championship in 1985, fans celebrated by having people who looked like Tiger players jump into the Dotonbori Canal (an odd concept at best…hard to imagine Tigers_Fans_JumpBoston Red Sox fans jumping into the Charles River because they look like Big Papi or Dustin Pedroia.) According to legend, because none of the fans resembled star player Randy Bass (a white American first-baseman playing for the Tigers) fans grabbed a life sized statue of the Kentucky Fried Chicken mascot Colonel Sanders from a local KFC Randy-Bass-Colonel-Sandersstore and threw it into the river. (The only resemblance Bass had with the Colonel was that he had facial hair and was not Japanese.)  Since this attack on the plastic American icon the Tigers have not won another championship. They made it to the finals in 2003 only to lose to those spunky Fukuoka Daiei Hawks, but that didn’t stop some 5300 fans from jumping into the canal.  This celebration turned to tragedy when Tiger fan Masaya Shitababa drowned after being shoved into the river by revelers.

The Colonel was finally discovered  in the Dotonbori River in 2009 and hauled out of the mud – seeing the light of day for the colsanders200-afc2106f280c2519805d9f6a474481a2e506ce4b-s6-c30first time since 1985.  The right hand and lower body were found the next day, but the left hand and glasses are still missing, and thus the curse continues until all of the Colonel can be found.

Curses are a bitch, especially from the Colonel. He might make some fine artery clogging fried kfc1chicken, which is delightful when a hangover the size of a mastodon is sitting on your head, but you chuck the likes of him into a Japanese River and you can kiss your championship season goodbye for a long time.  So when you are in the shower singing the Hanshin Tiger’s fight song “Rokko Oroshi” (The Downward Wind of Mount Rokko)  “Powerful hits and skillful pitch achieved a thousand times” think of the Colonel and the importance of repressing 250px-Colonel_Sanders4your need to throw plastic replicas of founders of fried chicken chains who very vaguely resemble an American ballplayer into Japanese rivers.  Groove.

Annie Did Not Steal Trousers to Buy Cocaine

Annie Oakley

Annie Oakley

The headline in one of the America’s biggest newspapers read that she was in prison for “stealing the trousers of a negro in order to get money with which to buy cocaine.”   She was “adopted” by one of the masterminds who dealt the United States one of it’s biggest military defeats of the 19th Century.  She could be considered one of America’s first movie stars and her husband was so distraught upon her death that he died just 18 days later.

Annie Oakley was a five foot tall American legend. She thrilled audiences around the world with her Annie_Oakley-1daring gun shooting exploits. She helped fuel turn-of-the-century nostalgia for the vanishing mythical American West, even though she never lived west of the Mississippi.  A champion in a man’s sport, she forever changed ideas about the abilities of women, yet she opposed the suffrage movement. Her fame and fortune came with her self taught skills with a gun, yet she was a Quaker.

Little Annie was born Phoebe Anne Moses in the woods of Ohio and first picked up a gun at the age of 8.  She taught herself the use of firearms as a way to help her struggling family by shooting quail, squirrels, and other small animals then selling her take to local markets and families. Thanks to her prowess with various weapons, she became her household’s primary breadwinner and developed a reputation as quite the shot.

th-2Frank Butler was also making himself a name as a marksman and on a trip to Ohio, he challenged a local hotel owner to a $100 bet ($2300 in todays dough) that he could beat anyone around. Frank was very surprised when a 15 year old, five foot tall, 100 lbs. girl took the challenge. He not only lost the match, but Annie won  his heart. They were married soon after and toured as Butler and Oakley (Oakley is the name of a small province in Ohio), the name that Miss Moses adopted.

Annie dazzled crowds around the country first on the variety circuit, then the circus, then finally with annie_4Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show. There she was “adopted” by Chief Sitting Bull, main architect of the Battle of Little Bighorn (also known as Custer’s Last Stand) where 268 soldiers of the 7th Calvary were killed. Sitting Bull called her “Watanya Cicilla” (which means “Little Sure Shot”).  Oakley amazed audiences by splitting playing cards in two (edge to edge) from ninety feet.  After stopping at 40 cities around America she and the Wild West Show hit Europe in 1889 going to The Paris Exposition. The Wild West show travelled all around Europe where she entertained the likes of Oscar Wilde, Queen Victoria, the King of Italy, President of France and other crowned heads of state. Oakley had such good aim that at his request, she knocked the ashes off a cigarette held by newly crowned German Kaiser Wilhelm II.  It was the stuff of stardom.

After meeting Tommy Edison in Paris she agreed to go to his studio in New Jersey where Tom filmed her with his new invention called a kinetograph, a primitive device which was the forerunner of the movie camera. She was filmed shooting glass balls which were filled with powder and feathers, which for the times was very dramatic.  The film became hugely popular and spread her fame further.

With Fame so often comes trouble and that is what the scumbag William Randy Hearst tried to strap on little Annie.  In 1903 he printed a story in his newspapers that Annie was in prison for theft which she did in order to maintain her coke habit.  Though completely false, the story was picked up by newspapers from coast to coast. Annie was pissed and though many newspapers issued an immediate retraction she ends up filing 55 libel suits. The legal battles would run another 7 years with Annie traveling back and forth across the country to testify.  The evil Hearst hired a detective to visit her home town to get dirt on Annie, but this time his smear campaign failed. Too clean to smear. She collected a lot of dough from the libel suits, but lost income and time in doing so.

th-3Annie retired from showbiz (in her 60’s) and she and Frank bought a place in Pinehearst, North Carolina.  They went to visit Buffalo Bill, who had made foolish investments, was an easy mark, and whose health was failing. Creditors had been selling off his possessions and bankruptcy was in the cards.  Finally, their old friend passed away in Denver, CO in 1917.  Annie wrote “William Frederick Cody was the kindest, simplest, most loyal man I ever knew…. The personification of those sturdy and lovable qualities that really made the West.”th

At the start of World War I, Annie wrote a letter to the Secretary of War that she was willing to gather a troop of “sure shot” women to help in the war effort.  He thanked her, but declined.

Annie and Frank moved back to her home town of Greenville, Ohio and on Nov. 03 1926 she died of frank-e--butler-2natural causes. She was 66 years old. After the death of his beloved wife Frank Butler refuses to speak, eat, or drink and dies 18 days later.  They were married for 50 years.

Annie Oakley should get the nod for being one of the first female international superstars  and she spread her sharp shooting skills to over 130 cities around the world. The Irving Berlin musical “Annie Get Your Gun” came out in 1946, was an immediate hit, and still plays today. th-1 One of the hit songs from the musical is “There’s No Business Like Show Business” which was originally sung by the first “Annie,” the great Ethel Merman.  If you ever see Nancy Doyle or Ann Banning Wright on the streets of America they will break into that song with little provocation and do it Ethel Merman style.  A sight that enchants the senses and delights the ears. Please let me know if you have had that pleasure. Groove.

The “High Five” with very little connection to Billy, Wyatt, and Bat

Bat_Masterson_1879

Bat Masterson

A few interesting items about some rock stars of the Old West : Billy the Kid was born in New York City, Wyatt Earp died in Los Angeles and the great Bat Masterson (Indian Fighter, Buffalo Hunter, Gambler, Gunman, Fight Referee and Lawman) was the sports editor for the New York Morning Telegraph.

“There are those who argue that everything breaks even in this old dump of a world of ours.  I suppose these ginks who argue that way hold that because the rich man gets ice in the summer and the poor man gets ice in the winter, things are breaking even for both. Maybe so, but I’ll swear I can’t see it that way.”    These were the words typed in Bat’s typewriter when he was found slumped over dead from a heart attack in the New York Morning Telegraph newsroom.

What does this have to do with the “High Five?”  Very little, except that there is little doubt that Billy, Wyatt, mlb_burke_card_200and Bat never used the High Five after dispatching a deserving bad guy and putting him six feet under, because the High Five  was invented by the great Glenn Burke in 1977 ( Great? Batting avg .237,  Hr 2 ,  RBI 38 ).  Glenn was a Major League Baseball player for the Dodgers and Oakland A’s from 1976 to 1979 . Burke was the first and perhaps only Major League Baseball player known to have acknowledged his homosexuality to teammates and management and the first to do so publicly.  Burke’s association with the Dodgers was a difficult one.  According to Glenn’s 1995 autobiography “Out at Home,” Dodgers General Manager Al Campanis

Spunky Lasorda

Spunky Lasorda

offered to pay for a lavish wedding and honeymoon if Burke agreed to get married.  He declined.  Glenn also angered manager Tommy Lasorda by befriending the manager’s gay son Tom “Spunky” Lasorda Jr., who died in 1991 at the age of 33.

300x200_hifive2

The original High Five

In 1977 Burke ran onto the field to congratulate his Dodger teammate Dusty Baker after Baker hit his 30th home run in the last game of the regular season.  Burke raised his hand over his head as Baker jogged home from 3rd base.  Not knowing what to do about the raise hand, Baker slapped it. They have been credited with inventing the High Five.  After retiring from baseball, Burke used the High Five with other gay residence of the Castro district of San Francisco, where it became a symbol of gay pride .

yearbookAn article published in Inside Sports magazine in 1982 made Burke’s gay life public knowledge.  After baseball, Burke turned to drugs and alcohol which destroyed him both financially and physically.  He was repeatedly arrested for alcohol and drug offenses and lived on the streets of San Francisco.  On May 30th,1995 he died of AIDS complications.  He was 42 years old.

Shark-Give-me-High-five

Shark High Five

So now when you drop your little son Timmy off at soccer practice and he is greeted by Lance, his young coach, there are no longer awkward moments of overly hearty handshakes or prolonged hugs.  Just a gratifying “High Five” and you are OK with that and so is Timmy, Lance, and I am sure Glenn is OK with that too.   Groove.

“It’s Time for Dodger Baseball”

Sandy Koufax

Sandy Koufax

We know them and love them : Sandy (Koufax), Steve, (Garvey), Davey (Lopes), Ron (Cey), Bill (Russell), Don (Drysdale), but what about Pop (Corkhill), Oyster (Burns), Hub (Collins), Adonis (Terry) and Needles (Foutz).  We recognize the first group of names as the true blue Dodgers of our immediate past, but those other names are early descendants having played on the Brooklyn teams that had many names. The Dodgers were originally founded in 1883 as the Brooklyn Atlantics, taking the name of a defunct team that had played in Brooklyn

before them. Then came the Brooklyn Bridegrooms (because so many team members were getting

Superbas

Superbas

married), then the Grooms, the Superbas (which I will now call the Dodgers after I’ve had more than one cocktail), the Robins, The Trolley Dodgers, before finally becoming the Dodgers.

The Dodgers greatest rivals are the Hated Ones (or Giants) of San Francisco.  Both teams moved to California in 1958 and while the teams were based in New York, the Giants won 5 World Championships (like saying the Egyptians made fine pyramids, it’s ancient history…..who cares) and the Dodgers just one. Since moving to modern times (west coast) the Dodgers have won 5 World Championships (there is no doubt that number will increase in the near future) with the Giants struggling to win 2.   Life goes on and as the ink dries on this paper the Los Angeles Dodgers Photo DayDodgers have a 15 1/2 game lead on the lowly last place Giants with the San Diego Padres desperately trying not to dip into the basement while pondering still another uniform change (Can you say branding?).  The Dodgers have had the same uniform for 70 years.

As we all know, rooting for your baseball team can be a cruel and fickle maiden, but listening to thehome-vin-scully honeyed voice of Vin Scully, (calling the Dodger games since 1950 …. “He’s a left handed batter and we understand his father makes wind chimes out of used toothpicks”) and loving the Dodgers, and the game of baseball, we are all lucky to be part of this wonderful ride of 2013.  Go Dodgers!

Groove.  Los_Angeles_Dodgers4

A Good Gesture Gone Bad, Real Bad

Henry Tandey

Henry Tandey

We make choices hoping they are the right ones, but sometimes even the grandest rights can turn into the most horrible wrongs. Helping a stranger then having your wallet stolen by him. Giving a hitch hiker a ride only to have him throw up in your car.  I have suffered these good deeds that turned into regrets, but that is nothing compared to what happened to Henry Tandey.

Henry Tandey had him in his sights. His Lee-Enfield rifle had not let him down once during World War I and it was a clean shot. Henry had won the Victoria Cross (the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy awarded to a British soldier) and numerous other medals making him the most highly decorated British private of the First World War. Had Henry been an officer there is little doubt that knighthood would have followed. It was at the battle at Marcoing, France in October 1914 that a weary German soldier wandered into Henry’s line of fire. The enemy soldier was wounded and did not make an attempt to raise his rifle. He stared at Henry expecting the inevitable. The twenty-seven year old Tandey choose not to shoot. “I took aim, but couldn’t shoot a wounded man” said Tandey, “so I let him go”. The

Hitler in WW1

Hitler in WW1

German soldier saw him lower his rifle and nodded his thanks before wandering off.  The twenty-nine year old German soldier was a Lance Corporal of the Bavarian Infantry Regiment. His name: Adolf Hitler.

Henry put the encounter out of his mind and rejoined his regiment, discovering soon after that he had won the Victoria Cross. In newspapers around England a picture of Henry carrying a wounded soldier after the Battle of Ypres was published.  It was a dramatic image which symbolized a war which was supposed to be to end all wars, and was immortalized on canvas by Italian artist Fortunino Matania. Leaving the army in 1926 at the rank of sergeant, Henry settled in Leamington, England where he married, settled into civilian life, and spent the next 38 years as a plant security chief at Triumph Motors, then called Standard Motor Company. He lived a quiet life and although regarded as a hero he rarely mentioned his participation in ” The Great War.”

The painting

The painting

In 1938 England’s Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain made his trip to Munich to meet Hitler in a last ditch effort to prevent World War 2 which resulted in the ill-fated  “Munich Agreement” (“Peace in our Time”). During that ominous trip Hitler invited Chamberlain to his newly constructed retreat in Berchtesgaden, Bavaria which was a birthday present from the Nazi Party. While there, Chamberlain found a reproduction of the Matania painting depicting Tandey carrying his wounded comrade. Puzzled by his choice in art Hitler explained ” that man came so near to killing me that I thought I should never see Germany again, providence saved me from such devilishly accurate fire as those English boys were aiming at us.”  Hitler seized the moment to have his best wishes and gratitude conveyed to Tandey by the Prime Minister, who promised to phone Henry upon his return to England which he did.  Tandey’s nephew remembers his uncle getting up to answer the phone and matter-of-factly returned  mentioning that the Prime Minister called and said that he just returned from seeing Hitler and he saw the painting and when Chamberlain asked why it was there Hitler commented ” that’s the man who nearly shot me.”

Things went sour for old Neville. His appeasement to Hitler was a major blunder, he lost power to Winston Churchill, and died of stomach cancer within 2 months. The Tandey / Hitler  story broke in 1940, but no one gave it much thought at the time. In 1940 Henry told a

Henry

Henry

journalist ” if only I had known what turned out to be. When I saw all the people, women and children he had killed I was sorry to God that I let him go.”

Henry died in 1977 at age 86 and had his ashes spread along side his fallen comrades at the British Cemetery in Marcoing, France. He must have been haunted as time revealed what a monster Hitler was and his act of great decency to a very indecent man was a strong example how a right can be made wrong. So here is to our rights staying rights and I think that is a toast worth drinking to. Groove.

Israel Bissell – Not a Jewish Vacuum Cleaner

bissellTalk about getting burned. Nobody got more toasted than Israel Bissell. And who was this fine gentleman? No, not a “Jewish Vacuum Cleaner”, but  a postal rider from Massachusetts who on April 19th, 1775 took off from Watertown, Mass. and for four days through five states Izzy warned the colonists of a invasion by the

Paul Revere

Paul Revere

British Redcoats all the way to Philadelphia, Pa. That is a total of 345 miles. Paul Revere only went 19 miles from Boston to Cambridge and ” the only person he could have warned was the Dean of Harvard University”.

What went wrong for Israel Bissell? His name. In 1860, America was on the verge of the great Civil War which severely dented the soul of this great nation and cost close to 700,000 lives.  American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was an abolitionist, very pro-union, and wanted to appeal to the Northerner’s paul-revere-by-wyethsense of urgency and a call for action. History favors the courageous (as does eating: first guy to eat a clam or a lobster ) and Hank wanted to get the word out and stir up the pro-union sentiments. (Don’t know how much Hank Longfellow stirred us with ” Song of Hiawatha ” except to make us drink more Hamm’s Beer.)  So Longfellow wanted to write a poem that would capture his opinion and capture this “hour of darkness and peril and need.”  The problem was that the name Israel Bissell just didn’t have the rhyming scheme nor the flair of Paul Revere. Remember that Hank is writing this poem some 85 years after the ride and people sort of forgot how it all went down. Even when Paul died in 1818 there was no mention in his obit about “His Historic Ride” just that he had a good business sense, made nice silver punch bowls, and was a cool guy.

So Paul Revere gets the nod, statues, junior high schools, rock bands (Paul Revere and the Raiders. I mean threally who could forget “Kicks” or “Indian Reservation ( the lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian)” and what does Israel Bissell get? Maybe a country named after him or a vacuum company, but that’s a big reach. Perhaps just that we know Israel Bissell was a cool patriot and let’s think, what rhymes with Israel Bissell? Groove.

Again, I have stolen shamelessly. This time from Robert Wuhl “Assume the Position with Mr. Wuhl” which is great stuff.

Fake Legs and Chewing Gum – A Big Spread…

mexicofanMexico and I have always gotten along. This surely is not true for everybody, especially for those who ended up taking a bath in an acid filled 55 gallon drum, but for the last 47 years we still sing a good song. Perhaps it is because it is a country where inefficiency is a virtue, where the hurried are shunned, and where day drinking is applauded and encouraged. All this fits nicely into my wheel house.

To really understand Mexico let us look at one of its past leaders who resides in the g0a0000000000000000496459ec62c5038d700afc37a5c654e845735aaeBlack Pantheon of Guys who failed their Nation: Antonio de Padua Maria Severino de Santa Anna y Perez de Lebron, also known as Santa Ana or perhaps in some circles as just Santa. This guy lived a crazy political life having been named President of Mexico eleven non-consecutive times and was still at the end of his life, ready for a come back (we thought Bret Farve was bad).  He was the man in charge at the massacres at the Alamo (189 Americans killed including Dave Crockett and Sam Bowie) and at Goliad (executed 342 Texas prisoners) all in 1836.  Joel Pointsett (the first US minister to Mexico) called Santa Ana a “polecat in silk clothing” (Joel was an amateur botanist and would send back to the states the beautiful red flowered plant that now graces his name : the Pointsettia.)  A month after his wife died, Santa, now 50, married a 15 year old and attempted many coups and presidential runs, but after eleven shots in the high office the good people of Mexico had had enough. He was forgotten and unloved.

But that isn’t why I found interest in this madman in silk.  (By the way, he demanded to be called by his subjects the title “Most Serene Highness”.  I have no problem with that, having been called the same more than once.) In this case what interests me are artificial legs and chewing gum. A big spread I know, but Santa has his hat in the ring in both instances.

surrenderLet’s go back to the famous “French Pastry War” of 1838 to 1839. (not making this up.) What happened is that a French citizen living in Mexico City owned a pastry shop that was ravaged by some boozy Mexican officers after a night on the town and split without payment (who hasn’t thrown down a bunch of eclairs, croissants, and gaugeres after chugging Margaritas). The shop owner filed a claim which was quickly dismissed by Mexican authorities. He complained to the French embassy which appealed to the French government who issued a demand for 60,000 pesos from the Mexican government. (Which was a lot of dough back then (no pun intended), for 1 peso was the daily wage for the average worker.) The Mexicans said NO so the Frenchies invaded, thus started ” the French Pastry War,” and that brings us to Santa Ana.  Though disgraced from his defeat in Texas he was still the Main Man in Mexico ( M.M.M.) and he met the French invading army at Veracruz. There, he was hit in the leg by cannon fire, and had his leg amputated, which he buried at his hacienda. The war ends after 4 months – the French got their pesos, and headed back to France to their pastries. After the war Santa Ana arranged for a state funeral for his amputated leg which at that point  had been buried for almost 4 years. It was dug up, placed in a crystal vase, taken in a full military dress parade to Mexico City and buried beneath an elaborate monument in Santa Paula cemetery. The funeral involved cannon salvos, speeches, and poems in the general’s honor (we did similar things when our tortoise died last year). So the guy had to get a fake leg.

Let’s now jump to the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) and Santa Ana is fighting American forces at the Battle of Cerro Gordo. He

The captured leg

The captured leg

decides to take a breather and chow down on some fine roasted chicken.  His lunch is interrupted by the 4th Regiment Illinois Volunteers (led by a young Robert E. Lee, who 15 years later would command the Confederate forces in the Civil War) who swoop down upon the camp, somehow allowing the one legged Santa to escape (we have to assume by horseback or personal hovercraft), but he leaves behind his wood/cork fake leg and chest of gold coins. The volunteers turned in the gold, but keep the leg. Today, Santa’s fake leg resides at the Illinois

On display

On display

National Guard Museum in the town of Cerro Gordo, Illinois (used to be called Griswold, but because of the victory they changed the town’s name). There is a story that Abner Doubleday while stationed in Mexico during the Mexican American War used the fake leg as a bat to introduce his new game of baseball. This is not true, for Abner Doubleday had nothing to do with the invention of baseball (he is often credited with inventing the game, although he himself never made such claim and there is no evidence to support it. He is not in the Baseball Hall of Fame. However, while in San Francisco after the Civil War, he obtained the first patent for the cable car which he eventually sold.) The Mexican government has requested the leg be returned, but I don’t see this happening anytime soon.

And that finally brings us to Santa Ana and chewing gum. A fellow named Tommy Adams lived in Staten Island and was a photographer and glass maker, among other vocations. To make a little dough on the side he would take in boarders, and in this case it would be the irrepressible General Santa Ana doing some exile time away from Mexico.  Santa Ana was in possession of a large amount of chicle, a sticky substance that comes from the Mexican sapodilla tree, and suggested to Adams that he try to vulcanize it as a substitute for rubber.  Adams Adams-Chiclets-Gumtried to make toys, masks, rain boots, and bike tires out of the material, all failures. Preparing to dump the chicle into the East River, Adams popped a piece into his mouth and liked the taste. Chewing away, he had the idea to add flavoring to the chicle. Shortly after, he opened the world’s first chewing gum factory and in February of 1871, “Adams New York Gum No.1” went on sale in drug stores for a penny a piece.  He then added “Chic-lets,” “Black Jack,” and “Tutti-Frutti” to his line and was the first gum to be sold in vending machines. During the next year, Thomas Adams formed the “American Chicle Company” which merged the 6 largest chewing gum manufacturers and remained on its board of directors until he died in 1905. In America, over 195 million pounds of chewing gum is consumed annually.

santa-annaI don’t think Santa Ana got a dime from Tommy Adams, for the self proclaimed” Napoleon of the West” and the ” Most Serene Highness” died penniless in Mexico City in 1876 at the age of 82, but his replacement fake leg is being displayed at the National History Museum in Mexico City, so in a twisted sense his legacy lives on. On the other hand, Bruce says “everything dies baby that’s a fact, but maybe everything dies someday comes back” so if you are walking down the street and see a one legged  Mexican chewing gum wearing silk yell out “Hey Santa” and see what reaction you get.  Groove.

Post Navigation