Friday, August 30, 2013

Atlantic City NJ


Thursday, August 29, 2013

My parents' marriage began visibly collapsing after Nana, my paternal grandmother, retired, sold the house to my parents & moved to Atlantic City. I have never given much thought as to why Nana apparently served as a "glue" in the marriage. The arrangement was economically advantageous to Nana & my parents. Dad had done a lot to make the house more family-oriented. Made many renovations. But his interests were becoming more personal. He had put in his years with the Boy Scouts, Little League & Married Couples Club at the Methodist church. He was more into military history & local politics.

One night mom & dad were having an increasingly alcohol-fed argument downstairs as I was trying to fall asleep. I rarely fell asleep easily. I went downstairs & told them to stop, that I had school the next day. There was nothing I could have done to more righteously embarrass them.  They looked humiliated. To dad's credit, he eventually quit the heavy drinking.   But it got worse, Another night mom actually so lit into dad he wept. I heard this from my bed. I felt humiliated.

There was one person who saw, & heard & knew the history of this marriage. & was witness to traumatizing events happening to my siblings before I was born, when my one of my brothers was horribly burned on a hot radiator. My parents were not directly involved in this.

My week long visits to Nana in Atlantic City were sanctuaries. I subjected myself to her rules - few but firm, three good meals, regular bedtime hours. The only "favor" Nana asked of me was to learn chess from a lonely, elderly man in her building. I was a lousy student,  would've preferred checkers. But Nana supplied some ice cream for the occasions. He also had some interesting stories.

When I returned from a week in Atlantic City in the summer or over Easter vacation, I probably looked healthier, slept better, behaved less neurotically for a brief period. Being nurtured isn't the same as being spoiled.  Nana provided me with a emotional   "vacation". She knew what I was trying to escape. She gave me an amazing "playground," a fairly long leash within certain limits, & did not fill up my pockets with money. She was on  a fixed income.

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The March on Washington

I don't recall The March on Washington having any effect on me one way or another. Puzzled me.  I was aware of it.  Knew it was happening, Read papers, heard news on radio if not always on TV.  Surely my family didn't like it. By that time I was becoming uncomfortable with the language of racism & turned off  by the violence. I was beginning to feel the civil rights cause was unstoppable. It  wasn't affecting me much where I lived.

Then I realized I was almost certainly with my Grandmother in Atlantic City on Wednesday August 28, 1963.  Rarely read newspapers there. Watched TV only for an hour or two in the evening if I wasn't on the boardwalk. I usually had a novel to read in bed, & listened to the local rock station my small transistor radio. I simply wasn't paying attention.

Recently read this book: The March on Washington: Jobs, Freedom, and the Forgotten History of Civil Rights, a new book by William P. Jones. Not the most enjoyable prose I ever read. Crammed with facts. It begins before WWII, with A. Philip Randolph's plans for the first March on Washington in 1941, how the groundwork was laid then for the 1963 march, with many of the same leaders & organizers. About 80% of the history, involving labor unions, African-American organizations, African-American women's groups, many unfamiliar names, was new to me.

One of the demands of the 1963 March, stated at the end from the podium by Bayard Rustin, was for a higher minimum wage.

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Pigeons of New Jersey

Crowding the cracks & ledges in the chasm
of the Great Falls of the Passaic
below the footbridge where Dr. Williams
& Allen Ginsberg looked down at mossy boulders,
the rising mist, mulled over
the consequences of Hamilton's America.

"On the boardwalk in Atlantic City,"
the important men, Capone & Trump,
Dean & Jerry, & the giggling colleens
riding trains from Philly to the sea,
Nana throwing popcorn during the Great War,
meeting Sam Rixon, Liverpool Irish.

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Monday, August 26, 2013

Butt humping America

At my age, my indignation counts for little.  But if you create a culture of hopelessness, comprised of boredom & emotional numbness, expressing the belief that change is impossible in a society split into economic & political extremes; sexist, violent, mocking of self & of the consumers of mere "product" (willing participants), you will raise up demonic powers to fill the moral vacuum. You did not create the vacuum, but you dance around it, daring it to suck you in & destroy you. It will, eventually. An enraged, despairing populace will use democracy to do it & in the process vote its freedoms out of existence, leaving the worst exploiters, the invisible ones, the truly guilty, untouched. Yes, that was Miley Cyrus & her collaborators on the VMA show.

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Staten Island

When my band played a club on Staten Island in the late Sixties, a drunk customer went outside & threw cinder blocks through the windows of cars in the lot, including our band van. We made a report to the police.

A few days later, one of our fans, an Italian-American kid who barely cracked 5' came to my house. His '58 Caddy had taken a hit. He said he'd give me $50 if I got the name of the perp. I said if I got the name he could have it for free.

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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Wildwood NJ

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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Nazz - Wildwood Blues

Todd Rundgren's Philadelphia supergroup, 1968. The few people I've met who saw Nazz live said they were terrific. Todd quit Nazz owing the world a third Nazz album & he owed me a Nazz concert at Asbury Park Convention Hall. Apparently, they didn't come north of Wildwood on the Jersey shore & to my knowledge never played NYC. What they refer to as "looking like 1953" included motels in the "doo wop" style, now considered classics & being demolished, like my beloved Lurae & the older motor court type  Kismet across the street.  But even in the Nineties I found Wildwood's music scene to be a bit ... lagging.

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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Dean Martin - Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams

Never a song so good Dean couldn't find a way to trash it. But not with Frank on the podium.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Wildwood NJ

Marine Pier (now Mariner's Pier)

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Doo Wop Song

Every mountain
Every sea
A thousand miles
You & me 
This is our love
Our ring of gold
We're not too young
They're just too old

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Sunday, August 18, 2013

North Wildwood NJ

The Lurae Motel

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Friday, August 16, 2013

Difference between this August & last August. Mets 9 games under .500 but not acting or playing like it. They go to L.A., lose three close ones to the Dodgers - two of which they should have won except the Dodgers aren't losing to anyone right now, they're the best team in MLB, on an amazing run.   The Mets shrug it off, go to San Diego & beat the Padres in the series opener.  Without David Wright. There's players on The Mets, rookies & vets, who want to be with The Mets next year. Manager Terry Collins & management have made it clear that August & September are   judgment time. There's some major holes to be filled on this team, from the inside or the outside. Collins stands a fair chance of coming back next year.

Yankees have finally assembled a lineup with some pop in it. Might be too little too late. Six games back for  wild card. Do-able, but they have to jump four other teams & accomplish it with mediocre starting pitching, except for Kuroda.

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Eydie Gorme on the Steve Allen Show

Steve Allen Show as he is joined by Ann Sothern, Steve Lawrence, Eydie Gorme, Dinah Shore and a special mystery guest singing Steve's theme "This Could be the Start of Something Big". An incredible tracking shot from 1958, using a large, heavy TV camera on wheels with all kinds of wires connected to it.  It must have been very difficult to pull off. But Steve was a pioneer in those kinds of things.

 I watched two episodes of What's My Line" (a classy Sunday night show, came on I think at 10:30, I never got to see it until its final years in the Sixties) with Steve & Eydie as the Mystery Guests (panel blindfolded). The first episode, around this time, they were guessed fairly quickly, & on the way out they only shook the hands of the panelists. Host John Daly referred to them as "young people." A few years later,  1964, Steve headlining a Broadway show (& having been a panelist five times), both having had hit records,  they baffled the panel for a longer time;  as established show biz stars, Eydie & Steve cheek-kissed  Dorothy Kilgallen & Arlene Francis, & Eydie blew a kiss at the audience.

Steve & Eydie came  out of the old tradition, such as was available to them when big bands were going away, the night club & Catskills circuit shrinking, caught between the emergence of rock & roll on one side & on the other the novelty songs  fine singers like Patti Page, Dean Martin &  Rosemary Clooney were often made to record (the independent Peggy Lee composed her own). They used television to great advantage. Their big pop hits were good by the standards of the time, if not quite Great American Songbook material. Eydie had a special feel for Latin music. She spoke Spanish fluently from childhood. Not conventionally pretty, but very attractive, it was impossible to guess her heritage (Sephardic Jewish via Sicily, Turkey & The Bronx). If her passing results in a new appreciation of her talent - I'm just discovering her - it will make Steve Lawrence very happy.

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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Somers Point NJ

Bayfront looking south to old Ocean City bridge/causeway. There were a number of bars featuring live music on the bayfront. You could hear the music from the bridge. Ocean City was & is a dry town, & Somers Point was easier to get to, & cheaper,  than Atlantic City.  The most popular of these bars was Tony Mart's, which featured R&B acts in the Fifties & Sixties. The Isley Brothers performed there in their "Shout" period. 

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Friday, August 09, 2013

Ocean City NJ

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Thursday, August 08, 2013

Ocean City NJ

The Sifting Sands Motel

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Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Diner Ho Fight

Trenton NJ. A lot of skin & noise. Remarkably, nobody pulls a gun or even appears to be seriously hurt. If you're familiar with Janet Evanovich's Trenton-based Stephanie Plum novels, you'll recognize where she got the character of Lulu. The pimps seem mainly concerned  with not having their product damaged.

Violence in Jersey's all night diners, probably even an urban one like this, is rare. They are considered neutral & secure. Jersey kids begin hanging out in them the moment they get a drivers license, sometimes the first night. When WFMU moved to Jersey City, its "gold coast" location was creepily desolate at night, the building boom just getting powered up, but there was a 24/7 diner, The Flamingo,  right on the corner near the radio station. The old station location had one, The Harris,  a short drive away. There's two within walking distance of my apt, both with WiFi.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

On a whim, & because this is my  annual Ocean City / Somers Point nostalgia week, I cross-posted my idealized childhood tale, Angels at the Jersey Shore,  over at Kos, where it was featured on the Street Prophet group front page,   &  picked up 30 recommends & some very nice comments. Although I've been a frequent commenter - often at length - over the years (a decade?),  I've rarely diary'd at Street Prophets. One reason is  I have few if any  original thoughts on religious issues, particularly in connection with politics, & others  represent  my views just fine. But my personal experiences growing up, describing a   Protestant/Catholic ecumenicism developing in myself, & around me,  before & after Pope John XXIII, no longer seems so quaintly out-of-date, as the American Catholic clerical hierarchy more strongly allies with the evangelical Protestant right. It remains to be seen if the new Pope intends to clean out this nest of pedophile-enabling snakes.

An except from one of my poems was  used on the cover of the program for the all-faith (or no faith) service at this summer's Netroots Convention. I was quite pleased about that.

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Monday, August 05, 2013

Vow of Silence

Turns out the guy with the lousy memory asking all the questions at my hometown FB page didn't even go to high school there. Don't we have some kind of "omerta" rule applies to him, a voto di silenzio dei adolecents. When I suggested this, my comment was deleted. The voto di silenczio isn't itself a secret, but a warning.

 If there is no vow of silence, can I ask why there weren't any black people in the town & who ordered the vicious beating of the barber who tried opening his shop on Wednesdays & expect to receive answers?

I should just lie & say I grew up in Atlantic City. It's what I always wanted to do. Did you grow up in Roselle Park? Heavens no, I just went there to visit my parents & siblings.


Sunday, August 04, 2013

Ocean City NJ

A Week in Ocean City

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Saturday, August 03, 2013

"Do they still sell Taylor Ham in Roselle Park? I've heard that it is only sold within the borders of the state."

 Yes, someone actually posted that.

Friday, August 02, 2013

Toots & The Maytals - Spiritual Healing

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Thursday, August 01, 2013

Shout out to Carrie


"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." Thomas Jefferson

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