GrooveCentralLA

What I groove on

Archive for the tag “truth”

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.

Advertisements

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.

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.

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.

Rum makes a fine hot drink, a fine cold drink, and is not so bad from the neck of a bottle…Fortune magazine 1933

The Villa de Sergie

The Villa de Sergie

I love rum. My taste for the sultry fluid started many years ago when I was a guest at the Villa De Sergie, a magnificent abode filled with uncommon treasures, down in Puerto Vallarta where Daiquiris were blended with 108414-343x500-Classic_frozen_Daiquirideft hands to create a superbly delicate compound as a prelim liquid that would send us off into the evening. Rum, which is the pillar of Daiquiris goodness, is a dangerous agent which bows to the power of a contemptuous indifference to fate, sets the mind and body free of responsibility, obliterating memory of today and tomorrow, gives an adventurous feeling of superiority, vanquishes all fears and doubts, and in some cases allows the consumer to change his name, or at least add a new one.  Could a liquid be any finer ?

My favorite rum concoction is not the Mai Tai, Planters Punch, the Zombie, the Kid Fizz or the Mojito – though it will be a cold day in hell when I deny myself the pleasure of throwing any of these down, though the sweetness of these tropical drinks reminds me of Donny and Marie concert. My favorite is the straight Anejo Barcardi rum and soda water with 3 limes. This cocktail has many names such as the La Fonda, the Oh How We Danced, and the  Los Mismos. The later name came from Cuba in 1899 when the drink swept both Cubans and Americans off their feet at the fabulous Cosmopolitan club when one Cuban customer ordered a Bacardi and seltzer and his buddy said  “Lo Mismo” which is to say “the same” in Spanish. The Americans, eager to try something novel, also ordered “Lo Mismo”, found it much to their liking and ordered round after round of Mismos and brought the drink

The Las Rocas pool

The Las Rocas pool

back to stateside. I personally discovered it while touring with the Great Diego Despues down south of the border looking for venues that could handle the raucous ways of The Nick Talent Full Throttle Wide Open Golf Tournament. Sipping our Mismos, over looking the pool of the Las Rocas Hotel which was filled with fun and danger, we both agreed that we had found our venue and found our drink. For the next twenty years we made history.

Old-Rum-BottleGrog, which is basically rum diluted by water with occasional citrus to prevent scurvy, is associated with the bad boys of the seas: Pirates. But in reality, Grog came well after the Happy Days of the likes of Capt. Morgan, Blackbeard, and other pirates.  In 1740, the British Navy would issue a daily dram of grog as a moral booster to the swabs and it was unknown what was the strength of the concoction. The Sikes hydrometer, which measured alcohol content, was invented in 1816, but prior to that the alcohol content was determined by mixing the spirit with a few grains of gunpowder then subjecting the grog to the focused rays of the sun under a magnifier. If the gunpowder managed to ignite, but the liquid didn’t flare up, this was “proof” of its proper alcohol content.  Even diluted, the grog ration was the equivalent to about five cocktails per day and by the 1950s only a third of the British sailors took advantage of their grog tot.  As naval operations became more PirateRum-1complex with computers and missile systems, the daily grog rations made less sense than when all the sailors had to do was haul around  buckets of tar. Finally, on July 31, 1970, what is known in British naval circles as Black Tot Day, the final ration was given to the British sailors. With black arm bands, heavy hearts, and a 21 gun salute – the Grog rations were over after 325 years.

Now Rum comes in “Jolly Rancher” like flavors with the marketing pointed to the youth of America, which at best is a disturbing trend. One out of every 3 bottles of rum sold is one of those sickly sweet artificially flavored nightmares with “tropical” counterfeit  flavors such as mango, pineapple, and banana which has as much in common with “tropical” as Glade air freshener does with an Alpine meadow.

images-1Capt. Morgan rum is the number 2 rum in the world (Bacardi number 1) which accounts for one-third of the billion dollar rum market. It was introduced in the U.S. all the way back in 1949 by Seagrams and is now owned by Diageo which is the largest producer of liquior in the world. Other Diageo brands include the best selling vodka in the world Smirnoff, the two top Scotches Johnnie Walker and J&B , the leading stout Guinness, and the number 1 liqueur Baileys Irish Creme. The ten largest producers of booze in the world own 70% of all liquor brands and that concentration is sure to rise.

Let us remind ourselves that rum needs to be consumed if we want to advance as a society and I take this position as a volunteer to lead, drink, and travel the seven seas to spread its word.  I am a tippler who among sailors, bridge builders, spreaders of all imagespleasant forms of lark, soldiers of good fortune, marauding beserkers, priests, and other disreputable sorts, promise to spread the groove of rum wherever needed. Like right now.  Remember, if everyone follows the rules, in the end it will lead to chaos.  So drink more rum, break more rules – otherwise chaos will reign. Groove.

Again I stole this material from a wonderful book called  “And a Bottle of Rum” by Wayne Curtis which was given to me by my sister Goldie who I have known personally for 60 years. What a gal! (something our Dad would say)

I Refuse to Eat Wheaties: The Sad Intrigue of Jim Thorpe

Jim's trailer park

Jim’s trailer park

Have you ever been to Lomita, CA?  I spent a little while there, kind of lost, on a rainy afternoon on a return trip from showing my gal the broken shell that was once wonderful Marineland.  It is a small hamlet (total area 1.9 square miles) just east of Palos Verdes, once home to Louie Zamperini Field (the great Zamp the Champ immortalized in the book ” Unbroken,” by Laura Hillenbrand)  which has been recently annexed by the city of Torrance.  An unremarkable little town (population of just over 20,000) with the exception that on March 28, 1953,  arguably the greatest athlete in American history died there of heart failure in a dilapidated trailer park.  The great Jim Thorpe spent his last years in Lomita battling alcoholism, poverty and health issues.  He died at the age of 64.

Jim is not buried in Lomita or Prague, Oklahoma where he was born and wished to be buried.  Jim Thorpe is buried in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania – a place he had never been to or seen, but more about that later.

Unknown-2In 1950, Jim Thorpe was overwhelmingly voted by America’s sports writers the greatest athlete of the first half century.  The 300 writers gave Babe Ruth 86 first place votes, Jim received 252.  Many years later, in a poll by ABC Sports, Thorpe was voted the Greatest Athlete of the 20th Century.  In the 1912  Olympics Jim won both the pentathlon and the decathlon, the only athlete to ever do so. His record scores in both events would not be broken for decades.  Prior to the 1500 meters Jimmy’s track shoes were stolen, he found some shoes in the trash, but they were mismatched.  So on one foot he had to wear extra socks to compensate for the larger shoe.  In that race his time was faster than anyone in the 1960 Olys, in fact, Jimmy’s time was 9 seconds faster than the great Rafer Johnson.  Bryan Clay, the American gold medal  winner of the decathlon at the 2008 Oly’s,was timed at his career best in the 1500 meters just one-second faster than Jim’s time in 1912.   King Gustav

Mismatched shoes

Mismatched shoes

presented Thorpe with his medals and said “You are the greatest athlete in the world”.  Jim responded “Thanks King.”  Thorpe’s successes had not gone unnoticed in the US and he was honored with a ticker-tape parade on Broadway in New York City.  He remembered later,”I heard people yelling my name, and I couldn’t realize how one fellow could have so many friends”.  Later, Thorpe was stripped of his Oly medals when it came to light that he had participated in some semi-professional baseball games, thus no longer an amateur.  The only good that came from this was that he soon received many offers from professional teams and went on to have success in professional basketball, baseball, and the  early NFL.  The days of professional athletes making the big lettuce were many, many years to come.

Jim played professional sports until he was 41 and the end of his sporting career coincided with the start of the Great Depression. Working odd jobs such as nightwatchman, gas station attendant and as a merchant marine, nothing stuck and the booze became his constant buddy. The people who knew him always said he carried himself as a gentleman – quiet and unassuming.  Married 3 times and with 7 children scattered across the country, Jim ‘s heart called it a day in Lomita, California sitting across from his shrill of a wife Patsy.  Then things got weird.

The Native American funeral had begun in Prague, Oklahoma with most of Jim’s children in attendance and when 3rd wife Patsy arrived with a hearse and a Oklahoma Highway Patrolman in tow everybody knew something bad was going to happen. Nobody who had ever met Patsy would accuse her of being kind nor pleasant, especially Jim’s kids from his previous marriages, but Patsy would find a way to raise the bar of her non-groove status.  She barged into the service and announced that her dead husband was “too cold”.  Then ordered the coffin loaded into the hearse and drove away handing Thorpe’s body to a mausoleum. Those  attending the service were slack-jawed, dumbfounded, but did nothing.

Five months after Thorpe’s death Patsy showed up at the mausoleum and had the body shipped to Tulsa hoping the city would build a memorial. Tulsa turned her down. Patsy continued to shop old Jim around  asking for a monument and some cash for Patsy.  Even Carlisle, Pennsylvania where Jim went to college had to say no “Patsy was asking for too much money” said a Carlisle official.

imagesAfter alienating almost everyone she wound up in the Poconos of Pennsylvania where two tiny boroughs straddling the Lehigh River, Mauch Chunk and East Mauch Chunk’s, brilliant civic leaders decided they could combine the towns, build a monument of glory  to Jimmy, pay off Patsy, and rename themselves Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania.  Surely, doing this would put them on the path to grooveland.  There was talk of the NFL Hall of Fame coming, a 500 bed hospital, a sports stadium, and a sporting goods factory.  With a parade, honking horns, marching high school bands, and by a margin of 10 to 1 the Chunks signed the deal.  A red marble mausoleum was built, some Oklahoma dirt was found, they threw Jimmy in there, officially changed the name of their towns to Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, and waited for the good times.

The good times did not follow.  It flopped badly, nobody came, nobody cared. No Hall of Fame, no hospital, no factory, no nothin.  As one of the townsfolk said “all we got was a dead indian”.  But as the decades folded up, the fortunes of the town began to change, but not because of Jimmy.  Mountain biking, clean air, and white water rafting have improved the financial world of Jim Thorpe, PA.

Some of Jim’s sons have made moves through the courts to get his body back to Oklahoma, but most of the relatives have now passed on. The motion is still in the courts with no closing in sight.

Jim Thorpe finally got on a Wheaties box, but it wasn’t until 2001 and only after a huge letter writing campaign. (Fake wrestler Stone Cold Steve Austin gets the nod, but the greatest American athlete almost doesn’t ? I shall refuse to eat Wheaties ever again!  Do not serve them toUnknown-1 me or I shall fling the bowl like a frisbee at your youngest child.)  I am not going to go with a Rodney Dangerfield line here, but it is pretty clear that in most of his life and in his death the respect factor has been pretty low for Jimmy.

So I say, go to a bar and have seven cocktails and raise a toast to America’s Greatest athlete and hope that your body doesn’t  end up in some strange place you’ve never heard of or been to like in Bukhara, Uzbekistan.  But maybe, just maybe,  I like the sound of Groovemaster, Uzbekistan.  Hmmm…. Groove.

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

Quizmasters & Booze for the People

All right Cool Cats and Kittens, you steel souled gatherers of groove, you lusters of the crooked smile, the neon spandex jacket, and the all messy, dirty thoughts that cannot be helped by prayer.  It is time to put on your metallic colored caps of thinking and squeeze out the delicious strains of useless knowledge like the yellow matter custard that John spoke of.  Here’s the Daddy:  First two people who answer all eleven questions correctly will have 3 cocktails purchased for them at one of my favorite bars.  This deal is “on the belly” – so step up and be counted.  The questions, like my blog, mean nothing and everything, so pour yourself  a tall cool one and tax those dark shadows in your brain.  “Luck is the residue of design” the Old Branch said, so let’s start crackin.

Hoff crab

1.   The Hoff crab is a type of yeti crab discovered in 2010 on the Southern Ocean floor near Antarctica. It is named after:

A) Abbie Hoffman , political and social activist who co-founded the Yippies and was thrown off the stage at Woodstock in 1969 by Pete Townsend when he tried to interrupt  The Who’s performance.

B) David “the Hoff” Hasselhoff  because the crab has many hairs on its abdomen and it reminded the scientists of the strapping hairy chested actor.

C) The great relief pitcher Trevor Hoffman, one time save leader in the MLB.

D) For  Helsinki, Finland –  home  of crab discoverer Vaanta Kaajanokka.

2.  Lew Wallace  was a Civil War general and Governor of the New Mexico territory.  He broke his promise to pardon Billy the Kid after the Lincoln County Wars in 1879.  He is also famous for :

Lew Wallace

A) inventing the Graham Cracker

B) making the first baseball glove

C) writing the religious classic Ben-Hur

D) is distantly related to Frankie Valle of the Four Seasons

3.  We all love that wacky yet pleasantly attractive Gilligan from ” Gilligan’s Island”. What was his first name on the show?

A) Willie

B) Gill as in Gill Egan

C) Buddy

D) Ezra

4.  Rockstar Warren Zevon ‘s (“Werewolves of London”, “Poor,Poor,Pitiful Me” ) father was:

A) A minor league catcher in the Los Angeles Dodger organization

B) Part of L.A. Gangster Mickey Cohen’s gang

C) Invented a life saving tool used today by lifeguards in Santa Monica

D) Invented the Pez dispenser

Warren Z

5.  If the amount of soldiers who died in the American Civil War were to be computed to the current population of the United States population there would be

A) 700,000 – 1,000,000 dead

B) 2,000,000 – 3,000,000 dead

C) 4 ,000,000 – 5 ,000,000 dead

D) 6,000,000-7,000,000 dead

6.  The Powers that Be took over Bob Lee’s pad during the Civil War and turned it into Arlington National Cemetery.  (Bob’s estate sued and it was returned to his family, then they sold it back to the Government).  Besides JFK, only one other President is buried there.  Which one ?

A) Ike Eisenhower

B) Andy Jackson

C) Billy Taft

D) Ted Roosevelt

7.  Charlie Lindberg was known for being the first to fly across the Atlantic on a solo.  He was also known to have spread his seed counting 12 children he called his own.  How many of those were illegitimate (conceived outside of his marriage to Anne Morrow)?

A) all 12

B) 23

C) 7

D) 4

Fred

8. The word is that Sasha Baron Cohen is going to play Fred Mercury of the rock group Queen in a up and coming movie bio.  Who didn’t dig that stick microphone and his huge overbite ?  Fred is from what descendants ?

A) English

B) Indian

C) French

D) Brazilian

9. Wilshire Blvd is named after Gaylord Wilshire, the socialist millionaire, who made and lost a number of fortunes and had even less respect for the mighty dollar than I do.  How much of this famed street did he actually own?

A) 16 miles

B) 7 miles

C) 1 mile

D) 4 blocks

10.  Los Angeles was a delicious cesspool of corruption and vice until the new police chief  Bill Parker (Parker Center) took over in 1950.   Sure, he cleaned up Los Angeles, but don’t we all miss the days when the L.A. Vice squad ran their own prostitution ring and the coppers were extorting dough from the local hoodlums?   Chief Bill had his issues : “After trying to absorb Parker’s brilliance by day,  I would, too often by night, drive him home drunk.  And I mean loaded.  He drank until words slurred and stairs became a hazard.  He would repeat the same thought over and over until he became a terrible bore.”  Who said this about the Chief ?

A) Future L.A. mayor Sam Yorty

B) Jack Webb of Dragnet fame

C) Future Police chief Darrell Gates

D) L.A. Ram Quarterback Roman Gabriel

11.   In 1928 Walt Disney lost one of his cartoon characters to Universal Pictures.  78 years later the Walt Disney Company through a trade with NBC Universal got the characters back when NBC got the rights to sportscaster supreme Al Michaels.  What cartoon character did the Disney Company get back?

A) Mickey Mouse

B) Arnold Schwarzenegger

C) Donald Duck

D) Oswald the Lucky Rabbit

So there you have it. Enter as many times as you like.  Free booze is in the future of the 2 winners.  Good luck and cocktails are on me. Groove.

Post Navigation