Friday, May 30, 2008

Entertainment, Movies and Music in Bronx Stardust;

Entertainment, Movies and Music

Bronx Stardust

By Barie Fez-Barringten

As stardust is the particles in the environment so is Bronx Stardust about the bits and pieces that are falling from bigger bodies. These are the fragments of and left overs from main issues, bodies and lives of the times. These are the crumbs from the table where you can only imagine the weight, substance and ingredients of the main dish. The real story has already been lived, the real place is already remodeled and reconfigured so all that remains is the stardust left behind and un-noticed by the the ebb and flow of social forces. If these are the crumbs we can only wonder what was the meal. If this is the stardust what was the heavenly body. As scince gathers the strdust I have gathered my recolections of the details of time, place and a space labeled the Bronx.

Recreation:(12,426 words)

Two Chapters:

  1. Movies
  2. Music

Bronx Movies (8,624 words)

I have spent thousands of hours empathizing movies. It is movies I compared to life’s circumstance, characters, culture, potentials, history, geography, and vocabulary. In Puerto Rico Joseph Kavetsky took ghetto children out of their homes and away form their families and daily sat them in a classroom filled with TV screens. This was before computers so what they were shown were films and documentary teachings, all designed to change their minds. It worked. Many of his graduates were able to skip high school and begin special programs at the University of Puerto Rico. Many of them, like me, graduated with bachelors, masters and even doctorates. Movies made such an impact on my life , showing me people, places and circumstances beyond my own context.

Movies are anomie’s antidote restoring standards and values that have been stolen and exhuming what has been eclipsed by circumstances.

They take me other places and restore the circumstances I value. Movies are my instruments of urban indoctrination and the catalyst of my urban mind. Movies disciplined me to an urban vocabulary, values and behaviors. Movies have filled gaps in my culture. Movies explained the origins and details of people along with my imagination and ability to make metaphors, my own background and the background of my ancestors and the background of my neighbors and the many people in my immediate and extended context. I can imagine that the players are my relatives and friends in my own personal context. Movies made the many foreign and mixed cultures familiar and removed what ignorance and inborn stupidity.

Many of the actors, writers and scenes were about the Bronx and its environs. Many were European transplants as were people in my neighborhood.

The movies took me into their homes and close to their religions and beliefs. Movies were mnemonics of the age and times in other places and by other people I thought I knew. They were the memories I did not have of a past, places and adventures I wished I had but did not. They helped me remember and think of my feelings and personalities. I could feel and express my emotions openly about things that were otherwise dormant. In a cataclysmic world any metaphor is appreciated. I loved their music, humor, dialects, customs and idiosyncrasies.

I learned to imitate their dialects and even some of their vocabulary. Cross culturalization was part of my urban thinking. Movies and radio taught me to cosmopolitan attitudes and ideas. Each religion I would encounter had movie and radio heroes, Adventures, and families for me to see, hear and understand.

I watched them in theaters, on television and then videos. At first I was attracted to there bigger than life images, screen glow, sound and theatre climate. It was not only pictures, but pictures that move and animate the emotions, vulnerability and personality of all type, ages, and genders. The big screens made these images bigger than life for microscopic scrutiny and close up and detailed review. I could do in movies what I desired to do in life to stare, voyeur, and emote without reprisal.

Television brought movies into our living room but miniaturized what had been grand and glowing. It did not stop me from going to theatres only added to the hours I could enjoy movies. The TV brought movies, which I may have already seen, but more often, commercials and an enormous waste of time. In the early days there was no remote, so the only thing to do was leave the room, etc.

I was almost four when in 1940 Disney came out with "Pinocchio" It was thrilling and conjured up emotions of live and affection I had never experienced for Japeto, Pinocchio and Jimmy Cricket and his amazing “When You wish Upon A Star”. The movie “Bambi” in 1941 had an impact on my life with its ’Characters’ Thumper and Flower, and, especially the scene where hunters kill Bambi’s parent. These were events, heroes, and movies, that thrilled and excited my imagination as did:

1. “The Day The Earth Stood Still” which is now shown in the Fort Lauderdale Museum

2. Johnnie Ray’s "Cry" and “Little White Cloud”

3. The Radio City Music Halls performance of Ravel’s “Bolero”

4. NY City Ballet performance of the Nutcracker and the scene when the tree increases in size and the people shrink on stage

5. Saved by Jesus

6. Owning my own phonograph player gift from Dad

7. The man who could work Miracles

8. “The Shape Of Things To Come”

9. The slide show at Christmas by my female Art History teacher and then arriving in Rome train station years later.

10. A view of the Alps panorama with its many peaks at the same time.

Some of my favorite actors when I was a little boy

  • Barry Fitzgerald played Irish priest and characters

  • Maureen O’Hara was the perfect Irish heroin and role model. This lady was my first childhood female fantasy ; I just loved everything Irish Although the movie took place in Wales I could see the plight of the Welch and Irish and relate to the many Irish police, friends and customers I would drive to Asbury, Ocean Grove and Spring Lake in New Jersey. Many of my schoolteachers and friends were Irish.

  • Pat O’Brian

  • Bing Crosby as Father O’Malley

The equally important filler to my background was about my own life style prototype in the shape and form of the East Side kids including Leo Gorcey and Hunts Hall. I modeled my self and saw my context in terms of this bunch. There accent, vocabulary, and humor. Their streets and apartments were replicas on the one I lived in.

  • And, most importantly Mary Gordon, who played their mother who was born in Scotland and had such a lovely accent. She looked and dressed like my Grandmother and her attitude exuded the love and gentleness of my ideal mom. Mary Gorgon’s distinctive brogue made her one of the screens most popular character players. Any Hollywood film with an auld-sod setting may well include Mary Gordon among the cast. She was born Mary Gilmore in Glasgow, Scotland on May 16, 1882. She came to the United States with a touring stage troupe, and like many actors of the period, worked in silent pictures. She preceded an earlier actress in the original films whose name and picture I cannot locate.

  • Victor McGlokcan

In addition there were Italian heroes and characters on both radio and movies especially:”Life with Luigi”

Life with Luigi premiered on CBS in September of 1948 as a half-hour comedy that tackled perhaps the hardest of all formats: dialect humor. Soon, however, it became an audience favorite within that genre, with ratings right up there among those of the other ethnic comedies, Amos and Andy, Lum and Abner, and The Goldbergs. It enjoyed such ratings until its last broadcast in 1953. These actors were our heroes, role models and revealed the real story of our neighbors and friends. For much of its run it ran opposite Bob Hope, who was on NBC, and many critics think Luigi might have had a longer run if it had begun sooner, to get a head start on the popular comedian’s show.

Some observer’s joke that the show was an American situation comedy about Italian immigrants created by a Jew starring an Irishman. It’s true. Cy Howard, who brought the show to network radio, hired an actor of Irish descent to play Italian Luigi J. Carroll Naish The announcer -- Charles Lyon and later Bob Lemond -- would introduce the series with the words "...we invite you to Chicago’s Little Italy for a new comedy, Life With Luigi, the story of an immigrant...." The music, a mixture of "Chicago" and "Oh Marie”, was conducted originally by Lyn Murray, and later by Lud Gluskin. The second song was played softly on an accordion over the closing credits and Luigi’s writing to his mother and reading aloud, "So long, mama mia...." So many of our friends and neighbors on Faile Street had migrated directly from Italy. I enjoyed their invitations for meals in their homes, basements and huts. Many of my high school friends were Italian and so were several of my teachers. I’d get the best hero sandwiches form the Italian grocer and the Tangredi Family were so kind to allow me to use there player piano. Lola was one of mother’s best friends. Her father was a barber who did not speak English. Of course al of this culminated in my life long friendship with dear Roseanne and her loving and generous Italian family. Not to mention my eventual trip and time in Italy and many visits to New York’s “Little Italy” .

  • The movies and radio prepared me well for all of these experiences. Many of the movies tell our story or play out characters we seemed to know in our neighborhoods. Hattie was one of those. Hattie McDaniel’s appeared in every movie where a generous, wise and humorous black lady was needed.

  • The beloved Uncle Remus, from Disney’s Tales of the south. The actor who played Uncle Remus had such a wonderful voice. I bought the album and memorized his every word and the way he spoke.

  • Good News was an antique when MGM dusted it off for this 1947 musical. Big, splashy, colorful, and with great music and dancing, Good News is one of MGM's most underrated musicals. The 1940's sensibility added to the Roaring 20s theme makes for some anachronistic moments starring June Allison who was born 7 October 1917 in The Bronx. I did not know any one that was from France, yet by the time I arrived in France I had a vocabulary from songs we sang in school, such as “Fraireschaka” and the vocabulary song from the show:”Good News” with June Allison and Peter Lawford” Words such as: La plum; lacaye; wha, rouge, blac, cayer, etc. Tait College football captain Tommy Marlowe (Peter Lawford) is used to getting any girl he wants. When new coed Pat McClellan (Patricia Marshall) arrives on campus sporting racy fashions and pseudo-French phrases, he decides he wants her. But Pat only has eyes for men with millions, so Tommy enlists sweet Connie Lane (June Allyson), Pat's sorority sister who is working her way through Tait as an assistant librarian, to help him learn French. The cast and there venue were so different form our own that we could only pine, dream and look with wonder and amazement at such a life.

MAURICE CHEVALIER was Born in 1888 in Paris, Chevalier started his professional career in 1901 as a singer and comedian. He starred in his first Hollywood musical "Innocents of Paris" in 1929; just two years after Al Jolson made history with the first all-talking motion picture. He was nominated for Academy Awards for The Love Parade (1929/1930) and The Big Pond (1929/1930). Making a dozen movies over the next seven years, Chevalier and his songs, such as "Mimi", "Louise", and "Valentine", became internationally popular. In the late 1950's his appearances in the movies "Gigi" and "Love in the Afternoon" started his second film career.

"That damned elusive Pimpernel" finds a dashing embodiment in Leslie Howard, who has the steel to be an action hero and the wit to hide behind his alter ego: a British fop. Based on Baroness Orczy's novel, the story focuses on the efforts of this British dandy to aid members of the French aristocracy in escaping the guillotines of the French revolution. He also romances Merle Oberon, a beauty forgotten by recent generations, and engages in a wonderfully wicked duel of wits with the humorless enforcer for the French Republicans (Raymond Massey). I later was to have dinner with her in Houston as our guest at the German Wine Society. She was so gentle and charming and dressed like an empress in a empire styled gown. If somewhat short on swashbuckling, it's long on the kind of costume drama that Hollywood seems to have forgotten how to do.


I watch many movies noticing the work of writers, actors, directors and producers. I have always been especially attentive to the set and fashion designs. Certainly, the stories and characters being portrayed have become part of my memory. I watch movies to escape and to have something familiar to meditate upon; and reinforce my identity, context and social strategies.

These films and radio programs greatly contributed to building my urban mind and cosmopolitan attitudes. They also were there to revisit to be reminded of the values and standards that I cherished and could understand. In a world where my values and standards were being challenged and removed revisiting a movie proved a welcome refreshment.

Attitudes based on the knowledge and experiences I had watching and listening to these actors and actresses of the plays and musicals. The people in the movies gave me someone to idolize, worship and admire. For the time I watch the movie the writer’s replaces my own context. His characters are new friends and their vocabulary, dialog, hopes, and aspirations are my own.

The extent, scope and range of my family and relations are recreated and I can believe for the moment that the created reality is plausible. I know it is not true, but it is the fantasy and lack of reality that is attractive. It is the distance and the frame of the media that makes the presentation palatable. What I could and would not tolerate in reality becomes palatable in the movie. The separation of the screen’s size and glow, the theater and amplification all separate the characters and the events from reality.

It is the same focus achieved when reading or touring. One’s mind, heart and thoughts are being handled, managed and controlled externally. It is a kind of metal traction releasing ones libido; identity and character form its limited confines of its own experiences. One expands and reaches out beyond to places, contexts and situations not yet experienced, or reliving similar experiences and characters. It is both the familiar and unfamiliar, which attracts and particularly the attraction of the flickering light the fireplace upon which to focus and relax.

To watch people exuding, emoting and performing satisfies our urge to confirm relationships to the other people on our [planet. Often, a character or situation will have confirmed and justified my own or informed me about another because of the authors research and photographers ability to show the scenes and details. Movie stories, contexts, and characters as well as the actors, studios are part of my vocabulary and baggage I carry all day long. As circumstances in my real life occur, movie, film, radio, music characters, stories, places, etc will come to mind. I do not confuse them with actual persons I have personally encountered but as factious and easily described. They are handy symbols, metaphors and icons to liken and match to current events. When I do this I feel the satisfaction of an athlete, contestant by winning and matching actual to factious events. Perception and contexts are explained and structured with in the recalled media events. The fictitious explains reality and reality fiction. It is not who I am but a subject to use the thinking mechanism. It is very pleasant and entertaining and diverts one away from repetitive ordinary and mundane events. It’s like a window to stare out of; a porch to and rocking chair on which to repose, a library to visit. It provides a background to life that helps me to rest until the next hard, harsh or difficult exercise of real life is encountered.

Watching a movie is like eating; I just like to eat, first and foremost. What I eat is secondary; just, I want to eat. So I watch movies. For the most part I am indiscriminate in selection and what I choose. I do prefer one over another; and, some I will skim, stop watching or walk out but I welcome the opportunity to see the unique and unusual rather than be over selective; there may be some thing that I have not seen or some very excellent gem hidden away that I might discover. Discovery is another reason I enjoy watching movies to be challenged and exercised to discover someone, place and situation unique and strange to my own.

The aesthetics of films in the art of photography, music, writing, acting, etc. where I often see each of the elements of the art forms. There are certain films where the pleasure of the aesthetics is in the way the various art forms have been combined and interact with each other. For, example the music with the dialog and the acting and directing and editing of the film. The way the lights and darks of lighting, shadows are dramatized with the movement of the camera and the accompanying dialog and movement of the camera and the music.

The sound effects and sound of tracks of films are occasionally works of art and beautiful to hear with out the film. There are films, which I find aesthetically interesting which may not have made with beauty in mind. Old Laurel and Hardy, Abbot and Costello, Woody Allen, and Marx brother’s comedies come to mind.

Another aspect of going to the movies that has been abandoned in the sixties was the “usherettes”. The were women who wore white dresses and carried flashlights to great you as you entered and then during the film to assist those late comers and others wishing to go to the rest rooms, or get candy. They also served to discipline the attendees as they whispered, talked and misbehaved. For, example, and undue amount of necking and fraternizing was discouraged which brought many such couples to frequent the balconies where there were no usherettes.

The were many times in many local theaters where families would come to the movies with pots and pans filled with food. My mother would often send my brother and I to the “Star” movie on Saturday morning for a three movie plus shorts and cartoons with sand wages and a pot of food to share. Evening double features were often filled with not only people but ht smells and sounds of people eating foods.

Movies and my context

The movies and characters depicted in “ Saturday Night Fever”;“Wanderer”; etc is really not I but a fair representation of the context. My context was also not represented in Leo Gorcey and the East Side kids, although the context was similar. When I read books and watch movies the contexts and stories try but do not succeed in depicting the neighborhoods and streets that I was. In the period of my youth was when films were made in studios so there is not a lot of footage of the actual neighborhoods in which I was raided.

I have seen thousands of movies in all sorts of theaters and combinations. The below is given here to render the character of the forties. I knew films so well; I’d recognize the flashing dots and clicking sounds signaling the operator to change the realize.

Loews Theaters

These were designed and built as palaces and were situated throughout the city’s boroughs as monuments, castles and palaces. There were two on Southern Boulevard just around the corner from where I lived on Simpson Street. So they were the bastions of culture and access to rest of the world. These were the urban metaphors for there royal antecedents and provided the urban mind a place to touch the synthetic icon. Where the poor residing in tenements could seek sanctuary for the roaches, garbage pails, sirens, trains, and crowds. The Loews theaters we frequented in both summer and winter had red velvet flock and flowered wallpaper. Huge King Ferdinand chairs and large gold leaf buffet and end tales with huge bass base lamps. It was gaudy and obvious but when you walked on the clean simulated Aubusan wall to wall carpet you felt like and imagined you were in an expensive first class luxury hotel or a castle in Europe. It was really castle architecture with the auditorium designed as the “great hall” and the balconies as the “minstrel”. When air conditioning was invented and came to the theaters, in the summer the theaters were packed and we would stay to see the shows over and over again. The usherettes would com by or the theater owner would sometime go up on the stage and request we leave to allow for others who are waiting on line to be able to have there chance. The interior design of the theater areas had ornate painting on the domes ceilings and wall sconces, which raised and lowered their lights as the curtains opened and closed. I can recall the few instances my father attending he’d sit on the end seat with one leg in the isle slouched down and by the first ten minutes were fast asleep. When he awoke he would go to the smoking section or lobby or out side to smoke and wake up. I recall several times noticing that our theater furnishings were similar to the furnishings, lighting and design of the castles being shown on the screen. Especially those black and white movies with their dark and gloomy passages and great empty rooms with over sized furniture and torches hanging from the walls.

  • Mona Lisa Smile (2003) Directed by Michael Newell

“In a world that told “them” how to think, she showed them how to live”. This tag line for the film could have been a description of my encounters with this group of people. I was never provoked to do this but wound up in this role many times. Some of my relatives and friends were so provoked and choose this direction. This is one of those movies which should have been shown in its own time.

Arriving at Wellsley College for a brand new academic year in 1953, art-history teacher Katherine Watson (Julia Roberts) is excited about her first opportunity to mold minds and confront her students' preconceptions of life. What she gets is a class full of overachievers who are biding their time until they can graduate, get married, and promptly have babies - thus ending their potential. Katherine is aghast at this thought, and soon pushes them to better their lives through education and simple questioning of their true purpose. My cousin Bibi did attend Wellsley when it was an all girls school and now it attended by the son of my cousin, who is called “the dramatic one”. The school evidently had been converted into a finishing school, preparing its women graduates to be competent, knowledgeable and rehearsed wives and mothers; fully capable of running a house as a business and to grin and bare any trial and tribulation of marriage.

It seemed that most of the girls I attended high School and later College was bent on this goal only. I later learned this at a High School reunion when Joan Kravitz told me that she graduated in three years, finished college in record time, married a professional, and live in a country club on the east coast of Florida.
`Smile' is a period film set in the 1950s, when women were still strictly second-class citizens, and attempts to change that were looked down upon. ' `Donnie Brasco') doesn't seem to mind that his film is violently anti-male, often encouraging himself with his disheartening direction of the guys in the film to inflict as much emotional pain on the females as they possibly can, thus rendering all of them one-dimensional repressive monsters. It is the world in which I was raised affecting my mother, aunts and all of the family and friends around me.

What Newell does capture with ease is the claustrophobia the characters feel as they attempt to break away from the routine. The goal for these women is marriage, with Newell creating a tight world of campus suspicion and societal prompts for the girls to keep to the traditional routes of a respectable woman. `Smile' has the outside appearance and initial construction of being another teacher-changes-student movie, with Katherine testing the girls' knowledge of modern art - including one scene where she takes the girls on a field trip to see a painting by Jackson Pollock

Again, the film is set in 1953, this is the context to which I was invited, skirted and visited but never subscribed. The post world wars two military and corporate identity, morality and protocol life-style and belief system. I found it repulsive in High School, within my family and At Yale. It was the other part of the world I detested. It consisted of signing-on to morality (not morals) and ethics (not ideas); It is was a boiler plate for a scared society grown in the depression and a shepherded through a world was determined to use the learned management and control techniques to create suburbs, finishing schools instead of educational institutions and a program of education which said “do what I say, not what I do”. A nation where hypocrisy was corporate and right. This society was determined to be “IT” in society. Cultural without the culture.

Larry Schneider was bent on us being partners to become part of this societies’ country clubs and institutions. Alice had to marry someone in this group rather than me because it was her” destiny”. My cousin “Bibi” was in fact a student at Wellsley of the period this film describes. This was my Aunt Rose’s vision for her children and grandchildren. I did not fit.
Mona Lisa Smile is to be considered in its own precise echelon for an obsession with individuality and free-spiritedness in relation to gender and to the work itself as an obtuse object inclined to inherent conformity. Designed as a (dated) comment on seeking individuality against the wave of rigid sexism, irrational traditions and the provocation of anti-bowdlerization in the past. The context of Wellsley and the rigid institution clearly described the rigidity, formality and intransigence of the society and its perpetrators. It made an overwhelming statement and brought me into that period of reconstruction, the days of Shore Haven, trysts with my cousins and friends as they stepped all over themselves to achieve and over achieve. It also reminded me of the fear and desperate persistence of the efforts to join, subscribe, conform and follow, and endure all sort s of misery, humiliation and anomie in the name of “progress”, “future” and “security”. It was altogether military, corporate, and disingenuous.

Indeed the society, which had overcome a depression, fought and won a war were now to build a new society and provide the world with what they never had.

Unfortunately, their attitudes suffered and they became

“Insincere” cynical and calculating. It affected politics and family life. “Everything was controlled, managed and premeditated. Ruthlessness and malice won out over virtue, peace and serenity.

They were preparing the way for violence, rock music; drugs, pornography, and rampant crime and future terrorism. Further to depicting societal anomie’s, revolutions and rifts are the author and playwright Henrik Johan Ibsen (March 20, 1828 - May 23, 1906) was an extremely influential Norwegian playwright who was largely responsible for the rise of the modern realistic drama.

His plays were considered scandalous in much of society at the time, when Victorian values of family life and propriety were still very much the norm, and any challenge to them considered immoral and outrageous. Ibsen's work examined the realities that lay behind many a facade, which the society of the time did not want to see.

In a very real way, Ibsen created the modern stage, by introducing a critical eye and free inquiry into the conditions of life and issues of morality. Prior to him, plays were expected to be moral dramas with noble protagonists pitted against darker forces. Every drama was expected to result in a "proper" conclusion, meaning that goodness was to bring happiness, and immorality only pain. Ibsen was to turn that concept on its head, challenging the beliefs of the times and shattering the illusions of his audiences. As a young student in New York School of Interior Design, Columbia and Pratt Ibsen was often cited and quoted. It was required reading and played all over town on and Off-Broadway. New York and America leaned on Ibsen to explain its rips and tears and heal their wounds as creative and stogy reeled through the fifties and sixties.


While I memorized there words, gestures, costumes and persona I adopted them as the heroes of the urban fantasy stitched together with my imagination and ability to infer there presence and role as characters that give character and expression to our city and its “true” character.

Carmen Miranda: singer

  • The three cabaleros
  • Mama ya chero
  • Tico Tico
  • Chiquita

Glenn Ford Oxbow Incident: I showed this movie many times when I was A/V squad monitor in PS75. Story of lynch mob. Film was shown at High Schools because it shows a fundamental American principle that no man may be tried and hung just because we do not happen to care for there politics, etc. Without this basic protection USA would be a fearful place to live.

Geoffrey Holder: Invited me to his NYC, Melrose apartment, I talked to him in Houston; TUTS (Theatre under the Stars) I was Gulf’s representative to TUTS; I got them to sponsor TUTS so we were on the TUTS board. For a couple of years.

Lily Palmer was one of my favorite actresses; she was very alluring with a good sense of humor. She was an Austrian Actress who did well in the USA. Christina and I met her casually when we got lost on a road in our car near a lake in Austria. She was standing on the shore and we asked her directions. She was so kind, we did not know who she was at first and then we recognized her but did not embarrass her by exaggerating our appreciation of her notoriety. We chatted a while in both German and English and then drove off.

There were so many including Elisabeth Scott, June Allison, Claudette Colbert: The Egg and I, Billie Burke, Judy Garland, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Jack Benny, Joan Blondel, Joan Davis: Annie Get Your Gun, Abbot and Costello, Laurel and Hardy, Marx Brothers, Helen Hayes: I had dinner with her in Houston in 1977 at a meeting of TUTS.

Hume Cronyn:”Our Town”, Jessica Tandy:”Our Town”, Joan Crawford, Charles Laughten, and Eartha Kitt: I had a conversation with her in Houston: TUTS, Maureen O’Hara: My first Love: Pirate Movies, Danny Kaye, Lon Chaney and Lon Cheney Jr.and Bella Lagosi.

  • Quanta Uggems: I saw her often in Manhattan between 1970-1973: She was Leslie’s mother, a former chorus dancer. Leslie and Saul attended Music and Art High School together.

  • Boris Karloff: Frankenstein; Later my speech teacher at Columbia University had us listen to his voice on voice tapes to learn pronunciation, etc.

Fred McMurray played in movies prior to television: most memorable was a film about traveling through time to different periods in New York, particularly to New Amsterdam where he spoke the way the way the way the Dutch might speak English. (It was better than Quantum Leap and before the time machine.

The first movie:

The first movie I was taken to before the age of four by my mother’s friend, Lily was The Mummy: at first I thought the theatre was moving: Then I thought the mummy was actually coming out of the screen and toward me: I ran out of the theatre screaming and Lilly, who took me, chased me for blocks to finally catch me. Same reaction to dentist when the kid before me came out with blood streaming downs his chin. Then they brought me in and tried to strap me down. I kicked over the tray with all the instruments and ran out of the office.

The Three Calbarerros (1945) : Mickey, Donald and Goofy with songs by
Aurora Miranda (sister of Carmen Miranda) was one of the firts Disney combination animation and cartoon I can ever remember where she danced with Donald Duck and Jose Carioca in the Bahia sequence, to the tune of Ary Barroso’s Os Quindins de Iaiá.

Mickey and the Beanstalk: singing Harp:”In my favorite Dream” and “My, What a Happy Day” I know the words to all these songs and most of the dialog on the record

  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Dec21, 1937I was born Dec.28, 1937
  • Bambi
  • Gone with the Wind: 1939, re-released a few years later and I used its theme for many of my demo tapes for disc jockey auditions.
  • The Shape of Things to Come: Raymond Massey, HG WELLS: Great visions of architecture and a world to come which was unlike our present encumbered world. It showed a world of unlimited energy supply and what it brings.
  • The Man Who Could Work Miracles: Roland Young; I could recite the words of the entire movie. I must have seen this movie a hundred times.

  • King Kong: For years I thought the Giant gorilla was going to break our trains.
  • Song of the South with "Tales of Uncle Reamos" featuring Brer Bear, Rabbit and Fox were in the Briar Patch with some really funny lines.

Popeye; Bugs Bunny;

Pirates: Judy Garland: Mack the black

Sentimental Journey: Great Song and very sad story

Good News: June Allison, Peter Lawford, And Joan McCracken: Great Songs: I bought the album and memorized them all:

  • Brigadoon: I saw the movie, which played it so many times, Saw it played on stage several times. Bought the album and memorized all the songs. The anti-urban that keeps its village community sanctified from world prowess by being out of sync with the world’s time. When Brigadoonians sleep and awake the next morning it is 100 years later. The urban mind enters into this place and falls in love with a young lady Will the urban New Yorker cross over or will she be come urban?

Among the famous New York institutions in the film are Elaine's, the Museum of Modern Art, Zabar's, Bloomingdale's, the Russian Tea Room, the Hayden Planetarium, Central Park, and the Dalton School.

Manhattan includes the famous shot of Woody Allen and Diane Keaton sitting on a bench with the 59th St. bridges looming above them.Aesthetically, Manhattan is worlds away from Annie Hall. Filmed in black and white and featuring a constant soundtrack of Gershwin music.Allen is as much intoxicated with urbanity as I and able to translate his mesmerized state by flashing urban icons and delicious concupiscent metaphors. They work and we are transformed in another Allen odyssey into the urban mind.
Woody and I are nearly the same age; both born in Brooklyn and Jewish. This film personifies the urban metaphor combining the music, landmarks, and back alleys and personalities of the big city. It extols the heart and soul of urbanism in its co-dependence, myths and reliance upon man made buildings and urban support systems. Lest I mention the rumor mill, doctors, and general indecision and intelectual pretensions that cover urbanites true identity. An identity which is welded to the cement, sidewalks, caverns and soaring skyscrapers. Where every thing one does is both insignificant against the city’s potential and mass and yet definitively important because urbanites are in the midst of cutting edge lifestyle.

Manhattan takes my breadth away as a work of art and beauty. The aesthetic chooses of scenes and black and white photography is every thing I know and love about Manhattan. It is of the place and indigenously place specific. It is the lived in and comfortably accommodating city that has it all and tool for optimum worldly life style. Every social and cultural experiment is possible and can be magnified and discussed. The only taboo is the New Yorker’s conservative conformist routines and mores coupled with eccentricities of the expressive individual. The movie is a metaphor of Manhattan and urbanism as Manhattan is a metaphor for urban persona. When we watch Manhattan it is specifically Manhattan urban. It is a breakneck indigenous cultural prototype. So much so, that you can imagine other movies about other cities and urban personas being somewhat similar. Distinctive and different by language and customs but very similar in urban idiosyncrasies. Urban Italian, French, German, Swedish, Japanese. Chinese, Spanish films come to mind.


Really divides up ones persona and roles in our culture;

What made me laugh at one time, place and circumstance does not make me laugh in another.

  • Mike Nichols and Elaine May: Urban, Jewish,
  • Stella and Mira; Mixed, urban
  • Jerry Stella; Crass and politically incorrect
  • Nat Henshaw: Humor
  • Steve Martin: In your face;
  • Earl Carlin: Plays with words and meanings
  • Abbot and Costello: Charming and situational
  • Laurel and Hardy: Charming and predictable
  • Charlie Chaplin; Inventive observer of quirks
  • Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis; Absurd and playful
  • Walter Mathau: Urban
  • Mel Brooks: Urban, Jewish and ridiculous
  • Peter Sellers: Urban, inventive and full of surprises
  • Sid Caesar: Passionately ridiculous
  • Imogene Coca
  • Carl Reiner
  • Henry Morgan
  • Zero Mostel
  • Gene Wilder
  • Jack Benny
  • Bob Hope
  • Eddie Cantor
  • Phil Harris
  • Fred Allen
  • Donald Duck
  • Lucille Ball
  • Carol Burnett and characters on her show
  • Teri Garr
  • Robin Williams
  • Richard Pryor
  • Cheech Marie and Tommy Chong

In 1842 Charles Dickens’s describes five-point mission: "America was born in the streets", it was not in the squalid, savage turf struggles of the Five Points, but in the streets of Boston and Lexington in 1776 - where the people traduced here as having no identity or qualities outside their xenophobia, fought for the liberties that all modern Americans take for granted”.

I was thrilled by comedians such as Bob Hope, Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, Gene Wilder, Zero Mostel,

But there were other idols for rural and suburban contexts.

People and movies such as represented the rural city contexts:

  • Marjorie Main: Fans today may remember Tomlinson most for her breezy portrayal in nine movies from 1949 to 1957 of raspy-voiced Ma Kettle, with her tumbledown hairdo, flock of children, and indolent husband. But Marjorie Main (Tomlinson's stage name) had a life before the Ma and Pa Kettle films. Appearing in her first movie in 1931, she went on to star in eighty-five films. Along with supporting roles, she shared top billing with Wallace Berry as a comedy team and with Percy Kilbride in the Ma and Pa Kettle series.

  • Other rural characters were Noah Berry, Andy Griffith, John Wayne, etc. There were many and the movies were about life in rural America or settling America called Westerns. Cowboy and Indian films and the Lone Ranger. All of these extolled the virtues and values of rural and rustic life. Suburban metaphors include movies such as Payton Place and the many TV sitcoms such As the “Brady Bunch”, etc.

  • Speaking of indoctrinations, the little Sabu, which delighted me as a child, was my pleasant national model when in Saudi meeting so many Indian persons. I initially thought of them, all as Sabu. They were nothing like Sabu except they were Indian. They moved their heads from side to side when speaking to be polite and Sabu did not do this.

  • At various stages in my life people characterized me by a character or actor in the movies, etc. because I wore only a Harris tweed jacket, and Grey flannel slacks with a derby green hat and big long scarf Gloria Yanuck likened me to “Oliver” the key character in the movie about Oliver Twist. I was also likened to Zorba, Earnie Kovacs, Fred Mc Murray, etc.

Science fiction

I have seen every science film every made up till recently when they have become hacked and trite. I particularly was anxious to see the future. Shirley temple played in movie called the “Bluebird of Happiness” where one of the places she visited to find the blue bird was the future. Of course she did not find the blue bird of happiness in the future either. She found it at home. It is the same with seeing science fiction films one keeps looking in so many places to find the illusive blue bird. In each period over the years science fiction has looked at the future with today’s technology, explained the potential calamities if certain current world behaviors continue, (pollution, atomic energy, robots, cloning, genetic engineering, dis affection, etc.) Few have had a positive view filled with optimism and hope. Most a re technical design masterpieces designed to delight and thrill. The exception was Close Encounters and other Steven Spealberg films which simply dazzel and explains his vision of the future or visits from aliens.

Science fiction and adventures show places and contexts unseen in reality while others introduce us to characters we have not yet encountered. Movies have provided me with heroes and examples of heroism beyond belief as well as others with the realm of belief. In either case there was a being with whom to relate; some one to worship, believe in and remember.

I was thrilled and excited by the fantasy and speculation of the possibilities and potential of escape, power and creativity of my fellow man. With the authors, actors and audience I hoped and yearned for more and better of any thing. With story and context I saw the technology of today being projected into new contexts. I saw the creativity of my fellow species inverting and creating new technologies to deliver me from the doom and gloom of the earth. I looked for the inkling and thread of possibility and chance I might have to excel and exceed beyond the earth’s gravity, circumstance and reality.

The Man who could work Miracles; The day the Earth Stood Still; War of the Worlds; And my all time favorite author, my all time favorite film: The shape of things to come”

Background – The text of The Shape of Things to Come

H.G. Wells wrote The Shape of Things to Come towards the end of a long writing career, which began with ‘scientific romances' such as The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds. The Shape of Things to Come marks something of a return to the scientific romance, but it is very different in form to those earlier works. There is virtually no characterization or plot. The text is based on the notes of an invented character, Dr. Philip Raven, who dies in 1930 leaving Wells with his notebooks. Raven is supposed to have seen the future in his dreams over a number of years, and compiled a ‘history of the future’ based on these. The whole text is an historical analysis of the present (1920’s – 1930’s) and the major phases of world history from then to New Year’s day, 2106.

In this extraordinary sweeping vision, Wells ‘foresees’ the outbreak of a devastating Second World War in 1940, which lasts until 1950. War ceases, not in a new peace, but with civilization in ruins. Communist uprisings are foreseen, but they do not lead to a new world order. Half the population of the world is taken by the ‘Wandering Sickness’. In the 1950’s and 60’s social dislocation and political disintegration are followed by the collapse of the Christian Church, and power is in the hands of roaming warlords. Cities decay, New York is abandoned in 1958 and London consumed by fire and flood in 1970.

About two thirds of Wells’ text is a detailed account of a projection forward of the early decades of the twentieth century into the middle of that century. The main thrust of the first part of the movie is the horror of war, rather than the collapse of capitalism that Wells' predicted would lead to war.

Part two the action then shifts then from destruction to the rebuilding of the modern state in a celebration of modern technology. The settings here borrow from influential modernist architects and designers such as Le Corbusier. But unlike Le Corbusier’s projects of connecting towers and communities in the sky, Everytown in 2036 is an underground city. It is utterly cut off from nature, using artificial light and air. Images are projected on TV wall screens and genetic engineering prolongs life.

A conflict now takes place within the utopian Everytown, as Theotocopoulos stages a rebellion against progress, and against the new space gun as a symbol of that progress. Theotocopoulos is a sculptor, artist and an individualist, and he reacts against the soulless, deterministic and dehumanizing (as he sees it) society of Everytown. His protest does not succeed, however, and the space gun, which is to launch Man’s exploration of space, is fired. The Man Who Could Work Miracles (1936) and Things to Come, which are both masterful and justly ubiquitous.

Things to Come qualifies as the first true masterpiece of science fiction cinema, and those who complain about its awkward pace and uninvolving characters are not understanding Wells's message, which is that the lives and actions of individuals are unimportant when compared to the progress and destiny of the entire human race.

As enthralled as I was with things to come I was with the latest “Sky Captain, and the world of Tomorrow” by a person who had never done a movie before but had a great idea. The images in his film reminded me of the fantasies and dreams I had as a child of thousands of planes in the sky and the views of the city and its potential destruction. The architecture and interior design of both films were thrilling.

The realm of ideas, ideals, and possibilities.

I recall the advertisements for the first star trek series as we were preparing to leave the USA to migrate to Puerto Rico and thinking we were going to miss some thing epoch and important. Thank God when we returned they began the repeat o of the series from the beginning and we were able to watch it from then on. I recall Bill Mangnes confessing to us how he too was a fan; Christina and I are unofficial Star trek Junkies. Star Trek junkies can share those magic moments in the movies and television episodes with fellow trekkies and try to come up with a Star Trek trivia question that no one else knows.

The Day the Earth Stood Still is continuously running on exhibit at a museum in fort Lauderdale. Its music by Bernard Herrmann and the warning for peace were irresistable.

Perhaps one of the best science fiction films to emerge out of the 50's; The Day the Earth Stood Still is a fine motion picture on so many different levels. It is a wonderful story of an alien that comes to our planet with Earth's interest at the very heart of his business. It is refreshing to see a film from the 50's that has a good alien, one that wants to help and cares for humanity, rather than one that wishes to destroy and use the people and resources of the planet selfishly. Michael Rennie who brings an understanding and innocence to his role few actors could have pulled off capably fills the lead. Rennie is the archetypal Christ figure bringing mankind truth, only to be killed for his goodness. Just like Christ, Rennie's character rises from death and ascends to the heavens. I loved Klaatu and was so happy for his victory. I listened with rapt attention to his final words.

Klaatu escapes from the hospital and decides to meet a typical human family whom he tells that his name is "Carpenter.”

Klaatu decides to turn off all electric power all over the world (including combustion engines) -- with some notable exceptions such as hospitals and planes. This is the situation referred to in the movie's title.

Because of the standstill, which lasts thirty minutes, the Americans, who decide that he must be taken dead or alive, now perceive Klaatu as a security threat. He is indeed shot before he and Helen can reach the scientists' meeting

Klaatu benevolently warns his earthling friends that Gort has been programmed to defend him and that he will wreak great destruction if anything untoward happens to him.

After Klaatu is revived, he steps out of the saucer and speaks to the assembled scientists. Earth, he tells them, can either decide to abandon warfare and join other spacefaring nations – a peace ensured by a massive deterrent force, the robot race Gort belongs to – or be destroyed as a threat.

The Day the Earth Stood Still has been interpreted to contain religious symbolism, especially because of Klaatu's death and subsequent resurrection, and his chosen name "Carpenter.” Klaatu does explicitly refer to the "almighty spirit" when asked whether Gort has the power over life and death.

The surprise ending of the short story "Farewell to the master" by Harry Bates (where it is revealed that the robot – originally called Gnut rather than Gort – is the master and the alien man, Klaatu, the servant).

Bronx Photography: (427 words) (No footnotes)

In 1947 at age ten while living Simpson Street I frequently visited the Bronx Zoo and finally saved up enough money to buy my first Kodak Brownie box camera from the corner pharmacist (Simpson @Westchester). With this camera I took pictures of animals, my family and friends. This included cats on the garbage cans, under cars, and on the stairs leading to the cellar. When looking at the pictures I could smell cat urine and garbage on a humid summer’s day.

I also bought an 8-mm movie camera and took pictures of my family, especially my father and brother on our trips to in Miami.

In 1958 while married to Dorothy at Pratt I studied photography for one year and got an “A.” I took black and white pictures with a box camera double lens reflex Pentax and developed them my self in the Pratt dark room. . The subjects included my family, trains, buildings, interiors, and people. These pictures are in an album I made for my Mother.

I then bought a complicated single lens reflex camera with lens attachments and for years took pictures of so many events.


I have owned cameras and borrowed one in my lifetime.

  • Baby Brownie by Kodak
  • Duplex by Kodak
  • 8mm movie camera by Kodak
  • Cannon miniature
  • Fuji
  • Cannon didgetal

Each of the cameras has had their special and unique properties and was suitable for what I did at the time.

In the beginning my parents bought me my first camera, the baby Brownie. I was very a little boy and was so excited with this wonderful instrument. The only thing preventing me form taking more picture then are now in my albums was the cost of developing. Paying myself for the cost of developing was my parent’s way of discipline and controlling my work. Of course all the pictures very small (2”x 3”) and black and white. The subjects of my pictures were a reflection of the limitations of my world. The subjects of my pictures were:

  • Parents, brother and family
  • Visits to zoo and many of my favorite animals
  • My dad’s car
  • Visits to Washington D.C.; NYC museums, etc.
  • Special effects pictures using over exposure, split screen and miniaturizing objects in the distance
  • Neighborhood

Later I bought the Kodak duplex and could not do all the experimental things I did with the brownie. But I did take pictures of:

  • Parents
  • Girlfriends
  • Shore haven activities
  • Neighborhood

Bronx Music (3,770 words)

In his movie about Manhattan Woody Allen too realized that you cannot tell a story about Manhattan and omit the soundtrack. The music which was constantly in the background to every scene played out in one’s life. It may not have been the dramatic concertos accompanying melodramas but it was the sound o the radio, phonograph, speakers or repeated in your head. As the buildings, personas, movies and politics the music was real and present. It was the art of the street and what the people used to personalize there environment and there context. Events and relationships became known by the theme of the song. As figurative art it is everything you will not find in Saudi Arabian culture and one which distinguishes east form west. Our arts as our music are figurative. This is true of other Arabic nations but not of Saudi. It is forbidden (haram)!

Songs written by George Gershwin appearing in the film include "Rhapsody in Blue," "Love Is Sweeping the Country," "Land of the Gay Caballero," "Sweet and Low Down," "I've Got a Crush on You," "Do-Do-Do," "S'Wonderful," "Oh Lady Be Good," "Strike Up the Band," "Embraceable You," "Someone to Watch Over Me," "He Loves and She Loves," and "But Not for Me."
Songs performed by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Zubin Mehta, include "Rhapsody in Blue," "Love Is Sweeping the Country," "Land of the Gay Caballero," "Sweet and Low Down," "I've Got a Crush on You," "Do-Do-Do," "S'Wonderful," "Oh Lady Be Good," "Strike Up the Band," and "Embraceable You."

The Modernaires, Pied Pipers and Jo Stafford

Their biggest break came in 1939 when the legendary Glenn Miller engaged them to record a tune called "It's Make Believe Ballroom Time," a sequel to the original "Make Believe Ballroom," which they had recorded earlier for Martin Block's Big Band Show of the same name, on WNEW New York. Soon after, Glenn Miller made the Modernaires an important part of the most popular big band of all time. Paula Kelly (Mrs. Hal Dickenson) was added to the group, making it a quintet, and for the next few decades they traveled the world many times over making history with the Glenn Miller Band. And, Tommy Dorsey Too! They sang: Tuxedo Junction; A String Of Pearls; Sunrise Serenade; Pennsylvania 6-5000; Sleepy Town Train; In The Mood
St. Louis Blues March; Little Brown Jug; Stardust; Adios
Caribbean Clipper; Moonlight Serenade; Boogie Woogie
The Night We Called It A Day; On The Sunny Side Of The Street
Song Of India; There Are Such Things; I'm Getting Setnimental Over You; Yes Indeed; I'll Never Smile Again; Opus # 1; Once In A While
Swanee River; and Marie.

The four man, one woman swing/jazz group The Modernaires, who rode their distinctive bright, jazzy vocal style from the big band era of the 40s, up into the vocal jazz nightclub sound of the 60s, are a tribute to two of their Swing Era contemporaries, bandleaders Tommy Dorsey and Glen Miller.

The Modernaires had timeless class, style, humor and the kind of tight, sweet harmonies that put their own stamp on songs we thought we'd heard before.

The Pied Pipers are without doubt the most popular singing group in the history of the big band era. The middle thirties saw the rise of The Merry Macs and the Andrews Sisters as exponents of close harmony singing which was more or less a development of the classic vaudeville "barbershop" tradition. In 1939 a group consisting of eight men and a girl lead singer and made two records accompanied by a studio swing group. They also performed on radio with Tommy Dorsey, and while nine voices created intriguing harmonies it precluded a realistic chance of commercial success. The following year the group had cut down to three men and a girl and Dorsey was quick to appreciate the possibilities of the new Pied Pipers especially as his main competitor Glenn Miller was about to promote the Modernaires.

Jo Stafford's unique voice together with John Huddleston, Chuck Lowry and the band's guitarist Clark Yocum comprised the remodeled Pipers and when they joined the band's new singer Frank Sinatra the results were pure box office magic as on "I'll Never Smile Again". Sinatra left the Dorsey band in mid-1942 and the Pipers also decided to try their luck as a separate act. The war dented the ranks with Huddleston being drafted and Hal Hopper replaced him. Huddleston returned after the war and a brief acrimonious court action left Huddleston with some compensation but no reinstatement within the group.

In 1944 Jo Stafford also went solo and was replaced by June Hutton who had formerly sung the lead with Charlie Spivak's Stardusters quartet. This was now the personnel that for the rest of the decade topped all the vocal group polls.

Bronx Records:

My father bought me a Motorola phonograph player when we lived on Simpson Street when I was about 10 years old. It was a brown plastic table model with its own speakers and was both automatic and manual reject. Designed to play 78 rpm. It had 45 and 331/3 speeds as well. Later I bought a 45-spindle adapter and the many records to go with it. I could “own” the music.

I cannot possibly list every record i ever bought and owned, but i can tell you that I bought many albums and boxes to house these records and used my allowance for the purchases. I bought the records from either the B&G music shop on Southern Boulevard or the Kresge 5 &10 at the corner of Westchester and Southern Boulevard.

The gift of this machine came from my father with records such as manna by Peggy Lee, Frank Sinatra, Vic Damone singing I’m always chasing rainbows and Fats Walla playing piano.

My first purchases included all of Vaughn Monroe, Peggy Lee, Nat King Cole, and Frank Sinatra. Soon after on 45, Guy Mitchell; Don Cornell, Al Martino, and Kitty Kallender.

Music was my medicine to sooth and calm and feed the right side of my brain. I’d listen and memorize the songs by playing and writing down the lyrics. I’d then practice and sing them. I would not stutter and I’d sing boldly. In this way I learned the words and music to hundreds of songs. To this day i can sing them if you mention a lyric or title of one of them. Today they are mnemonics of the times and context of home.

I filed my records and wrote the titles of the contents on the outsides and the jackets. I always polished these records. Some got warn out and I learned how to melt them down to make bowls and dishes. I kept most of these records until I went to Europe and gave many of records to Jackie for a loan. When I returned. He told me he had given them away, lost them, etc. The records also inspired me to later want to be a disc jockey. And I’d practice with these records to announce and play them. Later I added a huge number of 331/3 to the collection including Joni James; I like jazz, etc. I spent hours listening, buying, memorizing and finding out about the artists. Each record had two sides; and to this day, if you name one I can often remember the name and words to the second, and unknown side: for example:

  • Shaboom/You made up my mind
  • Jezebel/Gambella
  • Little white Cloud/ Cry
  • Why Don’t You Believe Me/My Love
  • Here In My Heart/I Cried Myself to Sleep
  • Believe in Me /No Man Is An Island

Recently my childhood best Friend, Milton, visited me, and, he too remembered my collection and the hours we’d spend singing and memorizing each song. He too still remembers s the words and can sing the songs.

I’d go to the stage shows in Manhattan at Radio City Music Hall, Strand, Roxy, Capital and Paramount theaters to see Johnny Ray, Louis Prima, Step Brothers, Sammy Davis jr., Hilltops, and Ravel's Bolero.

I collected classical records composed by Ravel, Verde, and Debussy. I even made a painting of Daphne and Chloe showing a ship caught in storm at sea with a boy with a lantern on the shore trying to aid in its rescue. It was really the boy looking to the ship to rescue the boy from the rocky shore. I was the boy in the storm finding his useful identity as one who could stave off a disaster by warning oncoming ships.

Every day and night we would walk past these music stores and stop by to hear the latest. Often, I‘d hear something on the radio and race to the store to scoop it up before it was all sold out. This was especially true for my two favorites Johnny Ray and Joni James. Of course, I was a favorite customer of these record shops, who would give me discounts and help me to select very good classical and instrumentals. Enoch Light and such were just new to the scene at that time. There was a talent contest at the Loews Boulevard theater, which I entered and sang Mammoiselle and won a years supply of Bologna bubble gum: The original lyrics were sung by Frank Sinatra and made famous in 1947 by'' Art Lund" . I sang the following:

” A small cafe mam’selle, our rendezvous, mam’selle.
The violins were warm and sweet, and so were you mam’selle.
And as the night danced by, a kiss became a sigh,
Your lovely eyes seemed to sparkle just like wine does
No heart ever yearned the way that mine does for you.

And yet I know too well someday you’ll say goodbye,
Then violins will cry, and so will I mam’selle".

Another song I learned fro a movie in 1945: was ''Sentimental Journey,'' Les Brown, with vocal by Cincinnati's Doris Day, about whom much more would be heard. It stayed No. 1 for eight weeks.

I would call in to the disc jockey shows and they would interview me on the air. I’d make requests. Later one of my father’s regular customers was a NYC favorite, Ted Brown and the Redhead who I got to know very personally. The disc jockeys of the day were martin block and the make believe ballroom and listen to lacy on 1010, the William B Williams show with William B Williams (his theme: "You are the One "dazzled my spirit: it was composed and played by Aquaviva and his orchestra: Williams was born August 6, 1923; He’d start each show; with his candidly friendly announcement saying: “Good afternoon world, this is William B Williams”, then the music played, You are the One, it would fade and he’d start to talk. It was just so thrilling! And late night; Music from Midnight to Dawn; sponsored by American Airlines whose theme was “That’s All”; and Music Makers whose theme was Harry Jame's "Music Makers". Each show had a fantastic theme and of course I tried to own them, as well. Most I Gave Away To Jackie and Later To The Texas A&M Media Center, In College Station, Texas In July 1981. They never fulfilled their promise to record them on tape and give them to me. The below is a tiny example of my former collection:

78 RPM

  • Vaughn Monroe
  • Peggy Lee
  • Earl Hines
  • Frank Sinatra
  • Vic Damone
  • Good News
  • Mickey and The Beanstalk
  • Nat King Cole
  • Don Cornell
  • Weavers


  • Debussy
  • Bolero
  • Mario Lanza
  • Nat King Cole
  • Joni James
  • Jonnie Ray
  • Kay Starr
  • Guy Mitchell
  • Perez Prado
  • Sleigh Ride


  • Joni James
  • I Like Jazz
  • Brigadoon
  • Mamas and The Papas
  • Beatles
  • Good News

While living in Saudi Arabia I began another kind of collection to supplement radio and when in Riyadh the little music we were able to hear over the air. Most of the tapes we were able to buy was pirated and cost less than sr10 ($2.66). Amongst the hundreds of tapes and artists we bought is: Nicole Croisille, Petula Clark; Anne Murray; Debbie Harry; Nana Mouskouri; Kate Bush; Joni Mitchell; Mireille Mathieu and so many others. Additionally, we bought tapes and records in Munich and other places we traveled.

I was also able to buy many Christian tapes and have a huge collection of praise and worship tapes, which I was able to copy, and circulate as well as use for our services. Additionally, I was able to record right off the radio in USA repat visits and brought to Saudi a huge number of WSOR fm radio programs with music and commentary. I also brought many of Pastor Dan Betzer’s tapes to listen sand distribute. Additionally, I recorded most of my sermons and bible studies. We brought all of this back to the USA and eventually donated them to various people. Most of them went to friends.

Children’s records included:

· Bozo the Clown featuring the little girl with southern accent who was the voice of the Penguin. When I moved to Tennessee and met Joe Tension’s Tennessee secretary and she talked she sounded just like the little penguin.

  • Other children’s records included Doc the Clock and the singer: “I am Goody from Playtime Land”

· Mickey and the Beanstalk featuring the voice of the singing Harp: “My what a Happy day” and “In his first left pocket you’ll find a key”

  • "The Songs of the South" with Uncle Remus featuring the songs and voice of Johnny Mercer and especially the songs and words of Brer Bear, Brer wolf, Brer fox and crazy Brer rabbit.
  • My favorite was Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck when Daffy sings and talks saying such things as “sufferin succotash” and “Hmm this taste just like pea soup”, hmm it is pea soup” and it is "despicable"

Bronx Songs:

The streets and our home were alive with music. It was a basic means of expression and Bronx life’s libretto. So why was it so important and what was that made it so intrinsic to the experience we had of the Bronx. Songs work to overcome anomie, stress and feelings of depression and alienation by their connotations imagined or real. My mother would sing to my brother and I when we would cry, or if we were sad, or if she said something she regret, she’d sing. She used song to poke fun and often to cheer us up by singing something silly. The silly song made us know that she was kind and good and we should not be afraid. She’d often sing when there was storm or when we were in the dark.

Music made transformed me into a European, Italian, Irish, Greek, German, Russian Bulgarian, etc. The music transplanted me to Italy ,France, etc. The music taught me languages, customs and attitudes. I could identify with the heart of the people who exuded the music. The music transplanted me in time to 1800 and medieval times. Other music connected me to rock, hip-hop and pop culture. Even in my own country there may be a gap in fact but as I listen to their music I can commiserate, feel and live there hopes and dreams.

Music popularized cultural standards, language and cliches. It was both uplifting and encouraging. It assisted to establish and legitimize the culture and the society promulgating the culture. The popularity of the performers, writers and songs legitimatized each culture and common strivings.

Like gourmet food the music expressed the realities of the people of the Bronx and there culture. I am neither a musicologist nor a musical anthropologist but music has been an integral part of my life and the bible teaches me that God inhabits the praise and worship of His children. I believe that there is some thing very powerful in music and its affects on people.

I also, realize that the songs I have experienced are but a fraction of God’s full array of human expressions. I have noted that men’s beliefs and deepest concerns and ideals have affected music. Music has also been affected by technology as today’s electronics, amplification, digitizing, etc. Music from India China and Alaska can be accessed on the Internet as well. I began my quest in Bronx and have not stopped since. In 1984. Collier’s Encyclopedia wrote that some sort of popular music has existed for as long as there has been an urban middle class to consume it. What distinguishes it above all is the aesthetic level it is aimed at.

Apostles of Urbanism:

Composers, musicians, conductors, etc. and all that are part of the entertainment and performing arts are the apostles of urbanism. What ever they sing, play, act, dance, etc. promulgates the urban image. They disciple the world flesh mind to adopt and abide within the city structure. To abandon the more personal and isolated independence of agriculture and faith for commerce and industry. Entertainers, artists, art and architecture are in the business of making of metaphors of people’s lives. I am what I consume, perceive, own; I own art and occupy architecture. I expect these artifacts to give my life significance and be the landmarks of my identify. They are like an address so that I can find my way home and others can also find me.

Keeping in mind that most of the songs were sung by interpreters and not the composers, what I was hearing was the way the singer interpreted the song. More was the singers exuding his or her personality and emotion. I’d hear a person’s voice in melody deliciously styled to catch my attention by subtle innuendos, inflections and unique pronou8nciations of words and phrases. Most phrases were taken out of common usage and one could only imagine those contexts, as one perceived the content of the song and its references. The way in which I heard the songs and the singers I am sure had so much to do with my age, gender and New York urban context.

I’d often close my eyes trying to picture the way the singer looked leaving the content of the song and focusing on the lilt, pitch, tone and persona. Word and phrase pronunciations and slang were so important in hearing the song. The most popular songs made expressionists statements and exuded persona. They were short encounters with a singer’s heart. Like novelties, they excited and attracted for a brief moment. They did not overly demand attention and could be played as many times, often re-exciting the same fascination and sparking even more interest. They were easy to accept and digest. One could easily emulate the song and I’d even emulate the interpretation. I could tell the original from the copy and the original forms the second and third different interpretation. Often, the first inter operation was the best as songwriters, wrote songs for personalities and their abilities to pronounce words and provide accents. Like the novelty depends on volume sales to a wide scope of public taste so did the songs and the singers were hired on their ability to sell records to the maximum number of people. You either had it or you did not. Often, it was and unknown, who made some new song popular because she learned, practiced and melded with the author, the content and there bands. Sound effects and record quality played and important role in a songs popularity. When I think of each singer and song I hear and feel a persona, picture a context, visualize a face, see a place and mostly hear the lilts, tones, harmonies, sounds, and expressions. They are unique and haunting. They come to me in the day and the night. I know the names of the singer and match them with there song. The song which made them famous and attractive. Why I know them and remember them. I don’t really know them but their name there, sound and their association with a song, band and composer.

How Learning and Singing Them Helped Me Speak

I would buy the record; and play and replay it; writing down and them memorizing each word and the melody such as ABC Song (Alphabet Song),Phil Harris; America, Kate Smith; Anniversary Song Al Jolson; Ballerina, Vaughn Monroe, Johnnie Ray; Why Don’t You Believe Me by Joni James. I must have listened to her singing this song over a hundred times, hearing her every breath, inflection, and pronunciation of every syllable. They were sounds for a world of beauty, power, and technology and amplified out of the normal way of hearing. The few times she appeared in person, she was little and frail, and yet she loomed as a goddess. What she did with the sounds and the meanings were deeply special and like the flickering candle always led you to seek yet more and another of her interpretations.

Rock and Roll:

As Rock and Roll caught on so did this twenty one year period . The Bronx Stardust was coming to an end. From its very beginnings I did not enjoy rock and roll and the people who produced the music. It was vulgar and dissonant. It was brash and intrusive. It was every thing I believed music should not be.

We were even having to get through pale mainstream pop efforts trying to be rock 'n roll hip back in 1956. Alan Freed's radio persona had even gone through a big change. The rock and roll stations were the black and red neck music on the upper dials of the radio. I never could imagine who listed to this music; perhaps my stepbrother, Jackie or the like. But there was one place to hear all the neighborhood vocal groups and all the new records from those tiny storefront record labels. Alan Freed holds his show at the NY Academy of Music. This was different from his other broadcast from Woodside and Sunnyside Queens.

The radio station was a little AM (WAKR) located in Woodside, Queens all the way at the top of the dial past the 1600 mark. They used to call their location cleverly "the high spot on your radio dial" and they weren't kidding. They talk about the revolutionary idea of cross-cultural identity today with suburban kids listening to rap music ? How about 45 years ago, White suburban kids listening to Dr. Jive with constant commercials for hair strengtheners, bleaching creams, the Amsterdam News, etc. I disliked and did not listen to any of this. I found it all irrelevant and distasteful. I regretted the end of music as I knew and loved.

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