#1 songs on my birthday, 1953-1963

There are TWO versions of Young Love, and it’s the Sonny James version that I’ve always known.

PlattersSince I had decided that I would repurpose some of my 2014 posts for Round 15 of ABC Wednesday, I needed another weekly exercise. My friend Dan Van Riper sent me this list of all the #1 songs since August 4, 1958, which was Ricky Nelson’s Poor Little Fool, signifying the debut of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. Prior to that (and indeed for a few months after that), there were multiple charts, including what was playing on the jukeboxes and what the radio disc jockeys were spinning.

That fact explains why, as I decided to post the number #1 song for my birthday, and the song before and after, you’ll occasionally find multiple tunes. Obviously, since I was born before 1958, I had to augment the website with something called… let me check the spelling there… “books,” specifically Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles, and Pop Hits 1940-1954.

I have links only to the middle tune, the song of my birthday (with a couple of exceptions this week). If I’ve heard it, I won’t play it again. If I’ve never heard of it, I’ll play it once. But I won’t listen to the adjacent tunes. My goal: am I happy with THAT choice to celebrate my birthday? Or (as will be the case in the latter stages of the game), I have no idea? You can go to the website, starting with 1959, and hear the other contenders.

1/10/53 Perry Como with The Ramblers – Don’t Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes
2/14/53 Teresa Brewer – Till I Waltz with You Again
3/21/53 Patti Page – The Doggie in the Window

Don’t know the Como. The Brewer song is quite pleasant. You probably know the Page song, it’s become almost ubiquitous, in an irritating way. I’d pick the Brewer song.

1/2/54 Eddie Fisher – Oh! My Pa-Pa (O Mein Papa)
2/27/54 Doris Day – Secret Love.
3/13/54 Jo Stafford – Make Love To Me!

The Fisher song got played a LOT when I was growing up, and I own it on a compilation, but the Stafford song I know not at all. I guess I stay with Doris Day, though I prefer the movie version from her Oscar-winning song from Calamity Jane.

2/5/55 The Fontaine Sisters – Hearts of Stone
2/12/55 The McGuire Sisters – Sincerely
3/26/55 Bill Hayes – The Ballad of Davy Crockett

Davy Crockett, I heard A LOT growing up. I’ll stick with the lush harmonies of the McGuires, which I have on that same compilation.

2/18/56 Rock and Roll Waltz – Kay Starr OR The Platters – The Great Pretender
2/25/56 Nelson Riddle – Lisbon Antigua
3/17/56 Les Baxter – The Poor People of Paris

I own both 2/18 songs. I’m picking the Platters. If I have heard Lisbon Antigua, I don’t remember it, and it might take a few listens to appreciate it more fully.

2/9/57 Pat Boone -Don’t Forbid Me OR Young Love – Sonny James
2/16/57 Tab Hunter – Young Love
3/30/57 Butterfly – Andy Williams

My friend Fred Hembeck is a big Andy Williams fan, so I do own Butterfly. Don’t know the Boone song. But there are TWO versions of Young Love, and it’s the Sonny James version, which I linked to, that I’ve always known. I listened to the Tab Hunter version, the longer reign at the top of the charts for the guy primarily know as an actor, and there’s no contest to my ears. Sonny James!

2/17/58 The McGuire Sisters – Sugartime
2/24/58 The Silhouettes – Get A Job
3/17/58 The Champs – Tequila

Either of the latter two songs I know well, and enjoy.

1/19/59 The Platters – Smoke Gets In Your Eyes
2/9/59 Lloyd Price – Stagger Lee
3/9/59 Frankie Avalon – Venus

Finally, a week I know all the songs. Stagger Lee is a murder ballad, and even as a kid found disturbing. (But not as disturbing as the Nick Cave song of the same name.) I’d opt for the Platters, again.

2/8/60 Mark Dinning – Teen Angel
2/22/60 Percy Faith and His Orchestra The Theme From A Summer Place
4/25/60 Elvis Presley With The Jordanaires – Stuck On You

Those death songs like Teen Angel I never much liked. I suppose I could pick Elvis, but when I was seven, I always enjoyed Theme from a Summer Place. Radio, in the day, would segue to the news, with an instrumental in the background, and it was often this one.

2/13/61 Lawrence Welk and His Orchestra – Calcutta
2/27/61 Chubby Checker – Pony Time
3/20/61 Elvis Presley With The Jordanaires – Surrender

When I played Pony Time, I thought, “Oh, I HAVE heard this.” Terribly derivative of his other songs, so I’ll pick Elvis this time.

1/22/62 Joey Dee & the Starliters – Peppermint Twist (Part 1)
2/17/62 Gene Chandler – Duke Of Earl
3/10/62 Bruce Channel – Hey! Baby

Another one where I know them all. I’ll stick with the Duke.

2/9/63 Paul and Paula – Hey Paula
3/2/63 The 4 Seasons – Walk Like A Man
3/23/63 Ruby and the Romantics – Our Day Will Come

I know these too, though I always thought Hey Paula was dorky. I think seeing Jersey Boys on stage a couple of years ago has helped me appreciate Frankie Valli and his colleagues a bit more.

Felony disenfranchisement: keeping the ballot away

The prison population has grown fourfold in the past four decades, while the nation’s population has increased by less than 50% in that period.

felonvotingThe Significant Other of a good friend of mine wrote on Facebook:

I think that Felony Disenfranchisement should be kept in place forever. Our Supreme Court ruled the that the 14th Amendment gives all states the right for deny ex-convicts to vote..To put it simply “” If you broke our laws and were not able to follow our laws”,,””I for one ,,do not want to give you the “”right”” to elect those who make our laws “GET IT” ????

I was sorely tempted to let it go, but there was something about “GET IT” ????” that just pushed a button.

I replied: “That notion suggests that there is no forgiveness, no chance at redemption. Current laws forbidding felons from voting make it harder for them to reintegrate into society, essentially facilitating recidivism. I TOTALLY disagree.”

Specifically, there are several reasons why disenfranchising felons who have served their time is a very bad idea:

The United States, while slow to embrace a more universal suffrage, nevertheless has a history of correcting the limits on the vote. The 15th Amendment states: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” Amendment 24: notes that voting “shall not be denied or abridged.. by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.” Of course, the 19th Amendment allowed women the right to vote, and the 26th, the right for 18-year-olds.

There are mountains of data that confirm that conviction and sentencing people for the same crime is influenced by class/wealth, and yes, race and ethnicity. If Person A gets off with a misdemeanor, and Person B is slammed with a felony, that’s hardly equal protection under the law. To further the injustice after prison is piling on.

It is also well-documented that the United States has far more people in prison than any country in the world, far more than when Richardson v. Ramirez (1974) was decided in the SCOTUS. The prison population has grown fourfold in the past four decades, while the nation’s population has increased by less than 50% in that period.

And why is that? Could it be the over policing of America, where your daily actions are being incrementally criminalized?

Those convicted of crimes often come back to a community where it is difficult to reintegrate into society. Denying people the right to vote further isolates those individuals.

Finally, and I bring this up because the individual I quoted above has often pointed to a personal Christian faith, it seems counterintuitive to me that if Jesus forgave our sins that we not forgive the sins of others.


I still flinch when I see him walking behind me.

punchThis happened about a month and a half ago. I decided to write about it, then not. But it still has some control on me, obviously, so I figure writing about it will release the hold it has. Well, that’s the theory.

It’s a Thursday evening, choir night in the choir loft, and we were about over with the rehearsal section and were about to start with the prayer concerns. Someone in the tenor section made a comment about how the music repeats and looked to him to note that we have to remember to modulate, i.e., go to a different key.

Then someone from behind me punched me. Hard, with a downward motion, to my left shoulder blade. It was one of the basses, about twenty years older than I was. Distinguished man who had served not only this church but the Albany Presbytery and the national church. I stood up, turned around, and said, “You hit me!” He said, “You didn’t shut up.”

I am now livid, as much by his “justification” as by his blow. I think I wanted to hit him. But the truth of the matter is that I’ve seldom punched anyone. If I were to have struck him, it would been purely reflex. Once I stood up, this wasn’t going to happen.

Besides, the narrative was all wrong: “60-year-old man beats up 80-year-old man, in church.”

Still, I was not in the attitude of prayer. I got up, leaving my music where it was, muttered, “I’m done here,” walked to the back of the church, got my bicycle and backpack, and peddled home. I was really angry that evening.

Friday, I was REALLY sad. Music is a refuge, church, and especially choir, is a refuge, and it was violated. And my arm still hurt, to boot.

I thought my abrupt departure might have engendered a call or an e-mail or some Facebook comment from a choir member, but no. (Arthur, n.b., this was the source of the reference to Split Enz’s Nobody Takes Me Seriously. A more appropriate tune might have been Mr. Cellophane from the musical Chicago.)

One of my sisters, who read my cryptic FB message, wondered if the man who hit me was suffering from some sort of dementia.

That Sunday, talked to the choir director, who hadn’t see what had happened. Nobody did, not even the guy sitting next to him; only the guy I was talking with did; his wife was very angry on my behalf. During the week, I also spoke with one of the pastors.

Long story short: he hasn’t hit me again. We haven’t spoken, except when I passed him a pen, through a third party. I still flinch when I see him walking behind me – getting Communion, e.g. – because I still don’t know the real cause of his action. I was glad the one Sunday he was absent. Now that the choir season is over, I won’t have to deal with this directly, until the fall.

The one thing that helped more than a little was this post by Lisa, called U is for Unforgiveness, which came out after he hit me, but before I saw him again. “If we’re waiting until we get an apology, or see some sign of change or simply waiting until we’re good and ready, it will never happen.”

If I had gone out to breakfast with him, and 14 other guys, the following Thursday morning, expecting an apology from him and didn’t get it, I might well have been furious. Having read that, I was merely resigned to that outcome.

That seems to be my general state regarding this issue: disappointment, loss of respect for him, and more than a little melancholy because my “safe place” feels like it’s gone. Someone in the congregation, who knew of this situation, said to me after church about a month ago that I looked sad. I said, “The mad goes away quickly; the sad tends to take a bit longer.”

Apartments, landlords, jobs

It was an odd space in that, when you walked into the apartment on the first floor, you were in the kitchen. But I liked it.

keys-20120131New York Erratic, who needs to use her blog as therapy more often, wants to know:

Who was your worst landlord ever?

I’ve lived in over 30 apartments in my life, and most of the landlords I don’t much remember, one way or another. I suppose I can name the ones who I got miffed with:

The one on Ontario Street in Albany in the mid-1980s who did not take seriously the invasion of mice in the apartment, shortly after my girlfriend at the time and I moved in. This wasn’t a rodent or two; they were quite numerous. And aggressive. One found its way into our noodles that were on top of the refrigerator. I set traps and killed three or four every night for at least a week and a half, and one or two a night for another week or so, before the mice got the memo not to come inside anymore.

One place I liked on Lancaster Street in Albany, the landlord threw everyone out, including these nice old ladies who had lived there for about 30 years. He renovated it, and it is now a chichi place that recently got mentioned in the real estate section of the local paper.

Worst apartment you ever stayed in?

The worst apartment was probably the first apartment the Okie and I moved into in Kingston, NY after we were married. Not only was the pullout sofa terribly uncomfortable, we discovered that first night approximately a zillion cockroaches. I had never seen a roach before and was not savvy as to the telltale signs of their droppings. I believe we were there for eight weeks.

Although the first real apartment in Schenectady, after Uthaclena’s then-wife threw me out of theirs, was a real dump. I was there for three or four months.

Best apartment and landlord?

I really did like that basement apartment on Lancaster. It was narrow but deep; I think they called it a train apartment.

Aside from that, though, my favorite had to be Second Street in Albany in the late 1980s. It was an odd space in that, when you walked into the apartment on the first floor, you were in the kitchen. But I liked it. And it was the easiest place to move into because it had an enclosed back porch. This means I could put all my books and LPs on the porch, position the book cases and record stands, then put away said tomes and albums at my leisure. The landlord couple was really nice.

Also, I was really taken by the sunken living room at an apartment on Morris Street in Albany. Unfortunately, the landlord decided to move from wherever to that apartment, and we had to move upstairs. And WORST MOVE EVER, because we were slowly schlepping our stuff up the stairs and it seemed to take FOREVER. The landlord I do remember getting along with quite well, listening to Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson together.

Must admit I was also fond of an apartment complex in New Paltz called Colonial Arms. For mass housing, it was rather nice.

What was your favorite job ever?

At some level, it had to be my job with the Schenectady Arts Council from March 1978 to January 1979. I was hired, ostensibly, to do the bookkeeping. Straight off, though, the office staff was making phone calls to sell ads for a performance to benefit Proctors Theatre, the old, rundown vaudeville theater where our offices were located. Now it’s a jewel of downtown Schenectady.

Even got to sing at the benefit, in the arcade, with Susan, the secretary, and a couple of her friends. All the artists on staff were doing art in the schools and in the broader community, so Susan decided that she and I should go to nursing homes and sing, and we did.

Occasionally, the choreographer, Darlene, needed a dance partner when she went to the schools and she hookwinked asked me to accompany her.

I ran an Artisans’ Arcade fortnightly, which was fun, though a LOT of work.

Because the director, Paul, was more an artist type – he was an actor by trade – he hated dealing with the blue-haired ladies of Arts Council board, and he often left it to me or the program coordinator, Nancy, to deal with them. When he decided to go on vacation, even though we HAD no vacation, I was in charge in his absence.

I was very sad when the federal funding abruptly ran out.

I should note, however, that I learned a great deal working at FantaCo, the comic book store/mail order house/convention operator/publisher/distributor in Albany, and that has value to me.

What was the nicest group of people you’ve ever worked with?

It occurs to me that, because I was at FantaCo for 8.5 years, and the SBDC for 21.7 years, and counting, that for all sorts of reasons, the personalities changed quite a bit over time. So I’ll opt for the Arts Council staff. Not sure they were all nice; one of the sculptors was probably crazy, but I liked him. I was just looking at the staff photo a couple of weeks ago.

Library people, in general, are nice, but there was one library boss of three years I didn’t particularly get along with. And there was that two-year period when our whole organization was subsumed by this incompetent and evil external political beast, which, fortunately, had a very public takedown.

FantaCo was almost two different places before Mitch was fired/Raoul died in 1983, and afterward. I liked almost all of them, but it was very tough leaving, and I HAD to go because I was ODing on the horror film stuff, which wasn’t my thing.

I should note that one of the worst places I worked was Binghamton City Hall in the spring of 1975, when I dropped out of college. Part of my job was to empty the wastebaskets of the local cops, and they seemed to have disdain for the lowly janitor. The sole exception was the local captain, who engaged me in interesting conversation.

The Return On Investment of leaving blog comments

I don’t comment on every post. It’s not that I don’t appreciate them; I may not have anything to say.

brainWayne John wrote in June: “Well it’s been about 2 months since I’ve written my little ‘I’m back’ post, and not a day goes by that I don’t think about writing something here. I have, in fact, written a number of posts that I simply haven’t made public.”

Now he has a different, more monetary reason for some of the non-production. Still, many bloggers will relate to this:

There is one decision that I’m making though, and that is to stop being so damn hard on myself.

I haven’t posted anything because I have been striving for a level or quality that is simply not achievable on a consistent basis. With each post I write, I try to make it “Epic” or “value filled”, and while those are great marketing buzz words, I simply don’t have time to write a post of that nature each and every time.

I’m sure you don’t expect it either, so why have I been so damn stuck?

It’s all me. I strive for perfection. Add to that a healthy does of OCD and nothing gets done.

To some degree, that even happens to me, the guy who blogs day in, day out. I want every post to be “value-filled.”Don’t know how to explain that term except I know it when I feel it.

When I’m tired, or busy, or sick, or, in this moment, all three – a lingering chest cold has ruined my sleep – I need a cheat.

This brings me to Anita’s blog. She notes a bunch of stuff about the ROI (return on investment) of leaving comments. She does it because she wants to show she’s spent time and effort visiting the blog or wants to share feelings, give thanks, show love/hate, motivate, or ask questions, which is what most of us who aren’t lurkers do.

Yet, I don’t comment on every post I visit. It’s not that I don’t appreciate them; I may not have anything to say. I like Jaquandor’s Something for Thursday music or SamuraiFrog’s look at old Marvel comics; I just have no pithy retort. The exception is ABC Wednesday participants; I ALWAYS comment, though sometimes I struggle with something new and different to say to 70 people over three days, even when I enjoy the post, which I generally do.

This assumes that I don’t have trouble leaving comments. Occasionally, DISQUS, which Arthur@AmeriNZ uses, can be balky. And Blogspot’s word verification can be incomprehensible.

Anita also does things a bit differently than I. She’ll report errors in grammar/spelling and facts, on the blog. If possible, I tend to contact the blogger directly by e-mail, when I THINK the blogger will appreciate it. There’s a really good reason for that. When I was a new blogger, I’d see an error, make a comment correcting a grammar/spelling error on the blog, and expect to be appreciated; no such luck.

Bloggers are human, writing without an editor, generally, and they make mistakes; goodness knows I do. One of my terrestrial friends calls me a grammar Nazi, which I don’t think I am. I’m constantly frustrated by the goofs I make, which I never seem to see in draft, only after it’s published.

I AM convinced that when one makes a little mistake, some OTHERS will use that to disregard the value of the whole piece. Statements of error others make I note by e-mail as well, though it’s important/egregious enough, I may note it in the comments too. This is based on the theory that an error, uncorrected will glean more. (No, I’ve long given up “fixing the Internet”, just a small patch.)

Anita will inform people she’s mentioned them in her post. Occasionally I’ll do that, though if it’s a regular reader, I don’t. Frankly, I love the joy of going to someone’s page and finding my name. The Google Alert is helpful in this regard, too.

This post may or may not meet my Quality Control standards if I felt better. Didn’t I say this, or something like it, before? Today, however, it will do; it most certainly will do.

Besides, the way I write this blog, it’ll never capture the zeitgeist of the times. I’m just not a zeitgeisty kind of guy.