Category Archives: Commentary

A Great Beatles Cover Band – Blac Rabbit, Live In Central Park

A Central Park Treat

Blac Rabbit Plays The Beatles “If I Needed Someone” & “She Said”

Blac Rabbbit performs The BEatles If I Needed SomeoneIf you search on YouTube you will find many  videos of Beatles covers done by hundreds of artists. I think these guys are among the best.

Twin brothers, songwriters, singers, and guitarists Amiri and Rahiem Taylor from Rockaway Beach, NY, make up the nucleus of Blac Rabbit. The brothers have been featured on the Ellen TV show.

Here the duo play at the Mall in Central Park on September 4, 2020.

While videotaping I was flabbergasted that no one stopped to listen. People kept walking by as if this was just a normal performance. Uh, no. These two musicians are super talented, especially handling vocal harmonies.

Among the “crowd” were about 12 people sitting 50 feet opposite the brothers, politely clapping after each song.

As I watched them breeze through spot-on renditions of many Beatles classics, quite a number of people, including myself, did make a contribution in the guitar case. After 25 minutes, regrettably I had to leave.

I believe John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr would be pleased with the handling of their songs.

Blac Rabbit also compose and perform originals which are pretty good.

Though I did not start the camera quickly enough I did record a good amount of She Said.

Really Bad 1970s Horror Movie Theatrical Trailers

The 1970s Saw The Release of The Exorcist, Carrie, The Omen and Halloween

It Also Had These Horror Movie Clunkers…

1970s audiences had the opportunity to see some of the all-time great horror classics when first released in theaters.

There were also imitators of horror. Low budget affairs plagiarizing a title or borrowing a plot. Many of them downright laughable, like Beyond The Darkness and The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave.

A trailer is akin to a writer describing his vision for a film to a studio executive. The two minute trailer is supposed to convince an audience to see a movie. Picture some producer listening to a writer’s pitch and then signing a check to get a turkey made. And the 70s saw lots of ’em. For every Alien (1979) that was made, there were a dozen horror catastrophe’s like Death Bed: The Bed That Eats (1977).

Based on these trailers, who in their right mind would pay money to see any of these?

Maybe I am being too harsh. Continue reading

Nolan Ryan Sets A Record Striking Out 383 Batters In A Year

Nolan Ryan Displays The Baseball From His 383rd Strikeout -1973

Nolan Ryan 383 strikeouts 1973

Nolan Ryan holds the baseball used to set a single season record of 383 strikeouts. September 27, 1973 AP wirephoto

Gerrit Cole and Max Scherzer are amazing pitchers. In 2019 Cole struck out 326 hitters in 212.1 innings and Scherzer fanned 300 batters in 220.2 innings in 2018. Chris Sale and Clayton Kershaw have also struck out more than 300 batters in the past five years.

You’d think in this age of batters striking out more frequently than Le Pétomane farting, a pitcher will one day break Nolan Ryan’s 1973 single season record of 383 strikeouts. But unless Chris Davis, Joey Gallo or Gary Sanchez is the opposition at every at bat, Ryan’s record is probably safe.

It comes down to the number of innings pitched. Modern managers and baseball analytics have pitchers rarely going through the batting order a third time. A “quality start” is one where the pitcher has completed six innings – a ridiculous two thirds of a game. That’s quality? Continue reading

Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson’s Memories of Producer Martin Birch

How Martin Birch Helped Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson

Iron Maiden 1982 (l-r) Clive Burr, engineer Nigel Green, Dave Murray, Martin Birch, Bruce Dickinson, Steve Harris, Adrian Smith photo via The Walk of Fame

Martin Birch, the music producer who worked with more than a score of rock’s legendary groups died Sunday, August 9, 2020 at age 71. No cause of death was announced. He leaves behind his wife Vera and daughter Haley. Continue reading

Olivia de Havilland Dies At 104, The End Of An Era- Beginning Of A Book?

Olivia de Havilland Dies – Last of the Great Movie Stars

Olivia de Havilland 1943 photo: Ernest Bacharach

A couple of weeks ago Turner Classic Movies was showing Captain Blood. The 1935 Michael Curtiz directed adventure film stars Errol Flynn, Basil Rathbone, Donald Meek, Lionel Atwill, Guy Kibbee and a 19-year-old making her fourth film – Olivia de Havilland. Except for Flynn and de Havilland, the names are mostly forgotten except to the hardiest of film fans. Continue reading

Former NL Home Run Champ Now Works At A City Swimming Pool – 1948

Hack Wilson, Former NL Home Run Champ Glad To Have Any Job

Hack Wilson 1948Baseball is going to begin its abbreviated season, as if anyone cares. I certainly don’t. The spoiled players and clueless owners are greedy beyond all belief.

So here is a lesson in humility for all the ballplayers complaining about their pro-rated multi-million dollar salaries and owners crying poverty.

72 years ago today Hack Wilson made the news.  Here is what the original news slug says:

Baltimore, MD July 20, 1948 – EX-HERO Of BASEBALL – – Hack Wilson, the former home run king, chats with kids at the city swimming pool where he works. Municipal authorities had put him to work as a park laborer recently when he came in looking for “any kind of job.” Wilson, now 48-years-old, set the National League’s home run record of 56 in 1930 with the Chicago Cubs. AP Wirephoto

Continue reading

“A French magazine printed my obituary. How did I die? I dunno, it was in French.” – Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister

20 Great Heavy Metal Quotes

Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead died in 2015, but supplied our headline quote a few years before his passing.

The man who spoke with Lemmy was Dave Ling. As a U.K. rock journalist, Ling has spent countless hours interviewing the greats of the heavy metal world. I strongly recommend his website.

Within Ling’s site there are hundreds of quotations from hard rock artists.

Here are 20 quotations that are funny, scathing and somewhat insightful.

“Lemmy came to me once and said ‘Alice, I have quit drinking,’ and he had a drink in his hand! I replied ‘That must be Coca-Cola?’, and he said ‘No, there’s a little whiskey in there’. His idea of not drinking was not drinking a bottle of whiskey each night. Maybe just five or six drinks.”
Alice Cooper in 2019

Do I have any theories on why our audience keeps coming back? Maybe it’s some kind of intense communal masochistic urge?”
Rush’s Geddy Lee.

“I’m sick to death of people saying we’ve made 11 albums that sound exactly the same. In fact, we’ve made 12 albums that sound exactly the same.”
AC/DC’s Angus Young.

“People keep asking why we don’t play ‘Sinner’ anymore. I tell them it’s because we’ve repented.”
KK Downing, Judas Priest.

“Sharon told me about a place where they teach you to drink properly. It was the Betty Ford Centre. I thought, ‘That’s it! I’ve been doing it wrong!’. So I walk in, expecting a demonstration of how to drink a Martini, and I say, ‘Hi Betty Ford, where’s the bar?’ This receptionist is like, ‘What?!'”
Ozzy Osbourne.

“Mae West whispered to me, ‘Why don’t you come on back to my trailer?’ I said: ‘Because you’re 86 years old and I’m not even sure if you’re a woman or not’. But if I hadn’t have been married I would’ve gone. Definitely. Just for the experience.”
Alice Cooper.“

“Adding rap to rock music is a bit like taking the most beautiful girl you’ve ever seen to a plastic surgeon, then asking him to give her a penis.”
Manowar’s Karl Logan. Continue reading

American Magazine Advertising In 1947

50 Advertisements From The 1947 Saturday Evening Post

Champion spark plugs Saturday Evening Post 1947Maybe advertising is not an accurate portrayal of what America is or ever was. But it shines a light on American dreams, living the good life and most of all consumerism.  Today we’re turning back the clock to just after World War II.

Saeurday Evening Post 1947All the ads appear in the February 8, 1947 Saturday Evening Post, a bastion of conservative American values.

American soldiers returning home to a prosperous economy. A baby boom follows. Spend, America, spend.

Ajax CombOne thing you’ll notice if you read the fine print: EVERYTHING was “Made in America.” Everything. Even a simple comb. Yes, Ajax comb company took out a small ad in the magazine that must have cost them the equivalent of at least 500 combs. It’s the sort of item that today would only be made in China, as we’ve decimated our ability to produce our own goods. Continue reading

New York Illustrated – As It Was 150 Years Ago – Part I

Illustrations Of New York As Seen By Artists Around 1870

Part I – Demolished & Mostly Forgotten

Intersection Fifth Ave and Broadway at 23rd St looking north 1870

Intersection of Broadway and Fifth Avenue looking north towards the Worth Monument with The Fifth Avenue Hotel on the left (c. 1870)

Demolition of anything old  goes on every day without regard for New York’s history. I believe a day will come when all the pre-20th century buildings not given landmark protection will be gone. Demolished in the name of progress. Real estate values rule, not history values. That’s always been the way of New York.

When a historic structure like The St. Denis Hotel is obliterated instead of renovated it is a shame.

I see more and more ordinary tenement and commercial buildings falling at an astonishing rate. So I look around trying to see vestiges of things my great-grandparents might have known and been familiar with.

What did they see?

Recently I took out my copy of Reverend J.F. Richmond’s New York and Its Institutions 1609-1871 (E.B. Treat; 1871) and started to re-read it. I had forgotten how many excellent illustrations were in the book. Belying the name, New York and Its Institutions is not solely focused only upon hospitals, asylum, charity and worship facilities. The book thoroughly covers other important sites and buildings with their respective histories. Though it was not written as a guide book, it essentially is one.

What my ancestors saw were these historic buildings which are now not even memories to most New Yorkers, most having been taken down over a hundred years ago,

Let’s take a look at what New York City looked like around 1871 and take in what the visitor and native New Yorker would have seen.

Part I – Buildings No Longer In Existence

Very few lamented the loss of the old Post Office at the corner of Nassau and Liberty Street – — until they saw what replaced it in 1875.

The modest Police Department headquarters at 300 Mulberry Street was replaced in 1909 by a grand structure on Broome and Centre Streets.

Wilson's industrial school for girls 1870 new york Wilson’s Mission House or Industrial School For Girls at 27-29 Avenue A corner of St. Mark’s Place across from Tompkins Square Park.

Broadway Grand Central Hotel 1870The Grand Central Hotel stood on the west side of Broadway opposite Bond Street between Amity and Bleecker Street. Illegal alterations caused a major collapse of the Broadway facade  on August 3, 1973. Incredibly only four people were killed. The remaining section of the hotel was soon demolished. Continue reading

What’s So Unusual About Platt Rogers Spencer’s Tombstone?

This Tombstone Is Unique. Do You Know Why?

The Penmanship of Platt Rogers Spencer

Why is it that when we see an old postcard people remark that the handwriting is so beautiful? The graceful penmanship all looks similar because millions of people in the mid-nineteenth and up to the early twentieth century were taught a single method of handwriting.

This calligraphy type of writing was invented by Platt Rogers Spencer and called the Spencerian style and method of penmanship.

Spencer’s unique tombstone at Evergreen cemetery in Geneva, OH is the first grave marker to display the cursive handwriting that he developed and popularized.

Platt Rogers Spencer

Platt Rogers Spencer was the youngest of a family of ten children. He was born November 7, 1800, in East Fishkill, New York. He lived there and in Windham, N. Y., until he was nine years old, when he moved with his widowed mother and family to Jefferson, Ohio, which was then wilderness country.

There, Spencer developed his love of writing and devoted his life to the art of penmanship. Continue reading