I find there is never “nothing to do”

“This is theater as teaching tool, artistic expression and catharsis”

HersOne of my pet peeves – nah, it’s stronger than that, more an irritation – happens when I hear folks from around the Capital District say, “There’s nothing to do around here.”

For instance, last weekend was chock full. On Friday, author L. Lloyd Stewart spoke at my church about his 2013 book The Mysterious Black Migration 1800-1820: The Van Vranken Family and Other Free Families of African Descent in Washington County, New York.

Now mostly rural, Washington County, not far from Albany, is not a place people around here think of as an African-American stronghold. But the growth of free blacks, and slaves – the institution didn’t end in the Empire State until 1827 – was huge.

Saturday night, the Albany High School Theatre Ensemble challenged “gender conformity and misogyny in its… production of a student-written played called HERS: An Explanation of Our Expectations.”

Times Union newspaper critic Steve Barnes wrote: “This is theater as teaching tool, artistic expression and catharsis, for the performers and their audience, and it is often deeply moving to experience.” It was so much so that our daughter went AGAIN on Sunday afternoon.

Instead, I went to Remembering a Life of Words, Art and Music, celebrating the life of Greg Haymes, a/k/a Sarge Blotto a/k/a Will Bill Hayes, et al.: musician, writer, artist and Nippertown founder. I saw a LOT of people I’ve known over the years, such as intellectual property lawyer Paul Rapp, a/k/a drummer F. Lee Harvey Blotto, and photographer/critic David Brickman.

Peter Lesser from The Egg, the venue where the event took place, started things off. Sara Ayers, true love of Greg. was wonderfully gracious. Then Paul Jossman (guitarist Bowtie Blotto) and Bill Polchinski (guitarist/songwriter Broadway Blotto) gave touching and funny tributes to their band mate.

Michael Eck (Ramblin Jug Stompers) was particularly emotional. Local musician Bryan Thomas spoke of Greg’s encouragement. Kirsten Ferguson discussed Greg’s light touch as Nippertown editor. The aforementioned Steve Barnes marveled how Greg could know EVERYTHING about what was happening in the local music scene.

Rosanne Raneri and Steven Clyde sang and played a Jefferson Airplane tune. Then there was proper New Orleans sendoff with The 2nd Line Driveby Jazz Band. A wonderful celebration.

We were so busy that weekend, we didn’t make it to the annual Greek Festival. Monday night, I had three choices of activities, including something promoting the census; I did none of the above.

This is not a complaint, but most of my weekends have been very busy all year. There’s NEVER “nothing to do.” I can tell as my email queue gets longer and my prepared blog post list gets shorter.

July rambling #2: eclipse simulator


The Uninhabitable Earth

An Iceberg the Size of Delaware Just Broke Off a Major Antarctic Ice Shelf

Senator Al Franken and David Letterman in Boiling the Frog

How a Company You’ve Never Heard of Sends You Letters about Your Medical Condition

The End of the American Experiment

Pentagon study declares American empire is ‘collapsing’

Enraged by 18th-Century Custard Recipe: Orange Fool

Simply The Worst Human Being We Can Imagine?

Natalia Veselnitskaya was no stranger to Trump business; the timeline so far

Donald Jr. Reviews Famous Works Of Literature (satire)

Ivanka Inc

Crackdown on immigrants shakes upstate New York economy

He Became a Hate Crime Victim. She Became a Widow

So this one time at a journalism conference…

Emmanuel Carrère’s “The Kingdom” explores how a tiny sect became a global religion

Three Misunderstood Things, including Christianity and abortion

How to Talk With Religious Conservatives About LGBT Rights

The Religious Left is getting under right-wing media’s skin

The invention of heterosexuality

When Black Hair Violates The Dress Code

The Origin of ‘Husky,’ the Word That’s Traumatized Generations of Fat Boys

The Librarian Who Took On Al Qaida

Higher education and budget cuts

How One Leader Set a Toxic Tone, Spurning Allies She Needed Most (Shirley Jackson of RPI)

How Andrew Cuomo Keeps the Left in Check

Join in this first-of-its-kind citizen science project, gathering scientifically valuable data from the total solar eclipse that will traverse North America on August 21, 2017; here’s the eclipse simulator; ALB will only get 70%

The Rise and Fall of Toronto’s Classiest Con Man

Why Popularity Matters So Much—Even After High School

Leonard Maltin (Critic): If you’ve never seen silent films, or foreign language films, if your education with film begins with Star Wars then you’re handicapped

Oscar-winner Martin Landau, who starred in ‘Ed Wood,’ ‘North by Northwest’ and ‘Mission: Impossible,’ dies at 89 – before that, he was a cartoonist

Kermit voice actor Steve Whitmire devastated to lose job after 27 years and Jim Henson’s daughter and son respond; replacements?

A WICKED interview with Winnie Holzman, librettist

Chuck Miller gets a postcard from the 2017 Iowa State Fair Photo Competition

NOT ME: THE STAR spoke with Roger Green, who has been driving hearses for more than a decade. “He said nobody wants their dead in a ‘dead’ hearse.”

Mary Anderson, inventor of the practical car windscreen wiper

There’s No Crying in Professional Wiffle Ball

Now I Know: The New York Police Officer Whose Job is a Buzz and Who Was the Fifth Dentist — That Didn’t Recommend Trident? and A Profitable Way to Stop Telemarketers and The Internet’s Hidden Teapot and The Best Checkers Player in History

MUSIC

Sgt. Pepper – Big Daddy. The whole thing, live

The Strawberry Alarm Clock Celebrate 50 Years of “Incense and Peppermints”

K-Chuck Radio: Awesome and rare 70’s dance classics and Father’s Day Funk

Sufjan Stevens, Nico Muhly And Bryce Dessner Play ‘Planetarium’ Track ‘Mercury’

Beating the spread

Amat Te Mehercle: The 1960s Classics Teacher Who Translated Beatles Songs Into Latin

Rapp on This: The Slants’ SCOTUS victory

February rambling #1: Bowling Green Massacre

At the Intersection of Love, Faith and Holy Outrage: The Women’s March and the Gospel

Angela Merkel is now the leader of the free world – the US President’s sole ideology is corporate autocracy with a populist facade

More than half of his voters say the nonexistent Bowling Green Massacre is proof his immigration ban is necessary. BTW, it never happened, and Kellyanne Conway’s remark wasn’t a slip of the tongue, as she has said it before

DMV Glitch Registers Green Card Holders to Vote

Yes, honorably-discharged veterans of the U.S. military have, under certain circumstances, either received deportation orders or been deported

If You Liked the Inquisition, You’ll Love the House Science Committee

How Each Senator Voted on Trump’s Cabinet and Administration Nominees

How to Become a Paid Protester

Americans Now Evenly Divided on Impeaching 45

American Hot Dogs

“At the Intersection of Love, Faith and Holy Outrage: The Women’s March and the Gospel”

51 Immigrant Poets – An interactive map on the ‘Muslim ban’

Irwin Corey (1914-2017), who I last wrote about here

Suzanne Pleshette would have been 80 this year

Richard Hatch, RIP – I probably watched Battlestar Galactica, but I definitely saw him in The Streets of San Francisco

RIP Adele Dunlap, 114, oldest American

Bald men look more successful, intelligent and masculine. science says – well, duh
,
Scathing Orange poem wins New Zealand competition

Paul Rapp’s New England Patriots connection

Amy Biancolli: it’s the best story pitch, the best, everyone thinks so

The ‘Mary Tyler Moore’ Show That Wasn’t: How CBS Refused to Have the Actress Play a Divorcee

New blogger: Tracy Brooke’s Travels, a woman from Atlanta now in Indonesia

Could Dogs be the State Vegetable?

NEW DC COMIC REINVENTS SNAGGLEPUSS AS ‘GAY SOUTHERN GOTHIC PLAYWRIGHT’

Now I Know: Why the U.S. Government Really Wants Some People To Take Vacations and The Man Who Gets Lots of Credit and Do You Want to Burn a Snowman? and The Trickiest Tongue Twister and Why In America, It’s Typically Free to Go Pee

Watching popcorn pop

Black History/Black Recency

Stories for “Black History Month – You can freely use AwesomeStories’ vast archive to explore the topic throughout February– This issue features people who: helped to overthrow slavery and “Jim Crow Laws”; helped to free and inspire millions of Americans; helped to forge a new path forward for their country

Louisiana kid’s ‘School to Prison Pipeline’ project

Who Gets to Be African-American? An Academic Question

I Shouldn’t Have To Learn Black History From A Movie

HOW AUTHOR TIMOTHY TYSON FOUND THE WOMAN AT THE CENTER OF THE EMMETT TILL CASE

A History Of Black Cowboys And The Myth That The West Was White

Jesse Owens Was Brave – So Were These 17 Other Black Olympians

At her first recital, 12-year-old Nina Simone refused to start singing after her parents were moved from the front row to make room for whites

The Racist Super Hero Who Never Made It

Music

“That Day In Bowling Green” written by Dave Stinton

Emo prez

Stevie Wonder, Tom Petty, Lorde Lead New Orleans Jazz Fest

Coverville 1157: Hollies and CSNY Cover Story for Graham Nash’s 75th and Our House – Graham Nash

Tom Jones And Janis Joplin – Raise Your Hand (1969)

Coverville 1158: Guns N’Roses Cover Story II

Jazz Legend Al Jarreau Dead at 76. Here’s Eight Performances That Show Why He Was the Greatest Male Jazz Singer of His Time

Asia singer John Wetton married Syracuse woman just 2 months before dying

November rambling #2: Book two of the trilogy

Albany by Roger Whitaker

1941 Dr Seuss cartoon illustrating the U.S. stance denying Jews safe haven from the Nazis.
1941 Dr. Seuss cartoon illustrating the U.S. stance denying Jews safe haven from the Nazis.

From The Weekly Sift, November 21, 2016:

Like most people I know, I’ve been suffering occasional attacks of rage or depression. But it’s also oddly energizing sometimes. If you ever had fantasies of being a hero, well, gear up; the villains are taking the field. It feels like we’re in a trilogy, somewhere around the end of Book Two. Ancient evils have jumped out of history books and grainy newsreels, and are appearing on live TV. Their words and ideas are coming out of the mouths of our neighbors.

Who thought we’d have to deal with this in our lifetimes?

For some while now, everything that you can think to do about the situation is going to seem hopelessly inadequate. But it’s important that you do it anyway. That’s how it is at the end of Book Two.

You’re a hobbit with all of Mordor in front of you, or an Ewok facing a galactic empire. The idea that you’re going to turn things around is laughable. And a lot of the stuff that people think to do will come to nothing, just like it seems. But some of it won’t, and if anybody can say for sure which is which, I haven’t met them yet.

So anyway, today I plan to type a bunch of words onto a screen. It’s what I can think to do. You think that seems hopelessly inadequate? Tell me about it.

[I do SO relate!]

Also from the Weekly Sift: The Trump Administration: What I’m watching for and Should I Have White Pride?

Donald Trump and the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, explained

Farewell, America

Trump summons a monster he can’t control – “White supremacists are acting as if they’ve hit the swastika sweepstakes.” cf Why I Left White Nationalism

“Sore winner” syndrome: Why are Donald Trump’s supporters still so angry?

Through a Looking Glass, Darkly

Donald Trump — the Boy King

America first, Trump second

Donald Trump: Anyone who burns American flag should be jailed or lose citizenship

Welcome to the Trump kleptocracy, plus kakistocracy

Potential Conflicts Around the Globe for Trump, the Businessman President

More Weekly Sift, especially the section on corruption

An ethical double standard for Trump — and the GOP?

Professor predicts impeachment

Mike Pence’s top seven most homophobic moments (out of many)

79-Year-Old Trump Supporter Arrested for Allegedly Vandalizing Children’s Mural

Confederate States of America currency?

Rapp On This: As a Matter of Fact, the Sky Is Falling

TV News and Its Long Dark Night of the Soul, though, finally, The Associated Press has defined ‘alt-right’

djt-bway

Atlético Nacional, the Colombian team, asks that its opponent, Chapecoense of Brazil, be awarded the Copa Sudamericana soccer tournament title, after the plane crash which killed nearly all of Chapecoense’s players and coaches

The Kind of Christian I Refuse To Be

Aboard an overloaded ship carrying more than 500 refugees, a young woman becomes an unlikely hero

That disruption at a performance of Hamilton

The Bubble – SNL

They may well be sincere in what they say but they may just be buttering you up

Fidel Castro dead at 90;

Florence Henderson passed away – I never saw a single episode of the Brady Bunch during its original run but caught it in syndication occasionally. She played Florence Henderson at least a couple of times in later shows, but my favorite role of hers was as the wife in Amish Paradise by Weird Al.

The GREAT character Fritz Weaver died at the age of 90. Some know him for a few appearances in the original Twilight Zone, but he had a massive body of work

I know I liked Harris on Barney Miller because I didn’t often see the black intellectual on TV – RIP, Ron Glass

American comedy vs. British comedy

Internet Wading – Looking and listening

An interesting blog on family photo copyrights

Why can’t you go out and buy cashews in the shell?

Two Point Conversion Chart (football)

8 Memorable Comics Screw-Ups

Now I Know: The Spaceship Graveyard and A Def Vacation

“Hipster” nativity scene for the holidays

The Strange History of Microfilm, Which Will Be With Us for Centuries

Accidentally Closing Browser Window With 23 Tabs Open Presents Rare Chance At New Life

Music

Beethoven’s 7th

Tchaikovsky’s “fantasy overture” Romeo and Juliet

100 Days, 100 Nights – Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings

Albany songs, plus Albany by Roger Whitaker, lyrics here

Elvis at the Wheel

Spirit of the ’60s albums

LOVER COME BACK TO ME – The Peanuts

The Leonard Cohen song that saved Roger Ebert’s life

A Temptations musical?

 

Music throwback Saturday: Blotto

Metalhead by Blotto featured guitarist Buck Dharma.

comboakimbo.jpegFor Ask Roger Anything, Tom the Mayor, who used to work at FantaCo, the now-defunct comic book store in Albany, NY, inquired:

What is your favorite Blotto song (For you Albany people)?

For you non-Albany people, Blotto was a popular local band who performed with humor and panache. Like the Ramones, the various performers took on the S-less band name as their surname. It was vocalist Sarge, bassist Cheese, guitarist Broadway, guitar-vocalist Bowtie, and drummer Lee Harvey Blotto. Female lead singer Blanche joined the band for a while, then quit, and was replaced by Chevrolet Blotto.

As you know, Tom, FantaCo sold the band’s various EPs, their single, and the album Combo Akimbo during the 1980s. The cover was designed by the late John Caldwell. I hung out with some of the guys at a Troy diner after the funeral of FantaCo mainstay Raoul Vezina back in 1983.

Cheese died back in 1999. He was also known as Keith A. Stephenson.

I still come across a couple of the fellows now and then. Sarge, a/k/a Greg Haymes, is a music writer, and co-creator of the Nipper Town website; he reposted an interview from 1980. F. Lee Harvey, a/k/a Paul Rapp is an intellectual property lawyer.

From Wikipedia: “The band in its current incarnation (Broadway, Bowtie, Sergeant, F. Lee Harvey, Clyde, and Hammerhead Blotto) is still active, and has reunited for occasional concerts in the Albany area.”

My five favorite Blotto songs:

5. She’s Got A Big Boyfriend HERE. I especially like the call-and-response. “I’ll make him laugh.” “He’ll break you in half.”

4. I Wanna Be A Lifeguard HERE or HERE. This was the 36th video played on the first day of MTV, I read, and got played a LOT. I’m surprised that the single never charted.

3. Goodbye Mr. Bond HERE or HERE. It has every 007 cliche.

2. Metalhead HERE or HERE. This was an over-the-top parody, which eventually found its way onto a compilation album called “Metal for Breakfast.” The song DID feature guitarist Buck Dharma from Blue Oyster Cult.

1. We Are the Nowtones HERE or HERE. The part “she can sound like Linda/she can sound like Joni” floored me when I first heard it. “Play something good!”