Category Archives: Commentary

Old New York In Photos #78 – Fifth Avenue & 42nd Street 1903

Fifth Avenue & 42nd Street c. 1903 – Crowded Street On A Cold Sunny Day

This bustling scene was captured by a Detroit Publishing Company photographer around 1903. The view is from the southeast corner of 42nd Street looking north up Fifth Avenue.

It is obviously a cold and sunny day with most people wearing warm coats. Enlarging our photograph the first thing you may notice is that everyone is uniformly dressed. All the women have the same dress length, just past the ankle. Every man wears a suit or overcoat.  Take a look around. There is not a single person hatless.

Let’s zoom in on some of the details.

On the northeast corner of 42nd Street an elderly man stops to take a look at the work going on inside an open manhole.

As usual, at all very busy intersections, a policeman is on duty to help direct the flow of traffic both vehicular and pedestrian.

This gentleman on the left with the gold watch fob and chain looks to be a prosperous fellow, possibly on his way back to his office after lunch.

Of course other people look spiffy without being wealthy. This sharp looking mustachioed hansom cab driver holding a whip is dressed immaculately.

Crossing the street is an adventure. The teen on the left dashes past the horse drawn wagon that is making it’s way up Fifth Avenue. The man on the right waits cautiously looking for a break in the traffic before making his attempt .

How these three women are going to get across the street seems to be a daunting challenge to say the least.

When they finally do try and make it across the street they have to be looking up and down, because there is the ever-present horse manure everywhere.

Let’s take a look at the immediate surroundings. The main building on the northwest corner of 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue had previously been the Hotel Bristol. In business since the 1870s, the hotel was converted into offices and stores in 1903 and renamed the Bristol Building. The entire structure and many other adjacent buildings were taken down in 1927 to build the art deco skyscraper, 500 Fifth Avenue.

If you looked up at the second story window of the Bristol Building you’d see a clock. It’s 2:10 and the clock belongs to a branch office of Howard Lapsley Bankers and Brokers. Their main business location was on Exchange Place. Immediately below on the ground floor is a sign for the corner store, Acker Merrall and Condit Company. Amazingly their wine business, which now specializes in rare wine auctions is still active in 2017.

On the ground floor of the Bristol Building were some other businesses including Thomas Young Jr., florist. Besides the name on the awning and on the glass window of the store, Thomas Young Jr. put his name up in lights just above the store. It must have looked great lit up at night.

If you owned a business and had a vehicle, it would probably be a good idea to put the name of your business on a delivery truck. While we know this vehicle is related to the sale of desks, tables and chairs we don’t know which company it is. Maybe the name was on the other side of awning.

To conclude, take a look at this light fixture on the near southeast corner of 42nd Street. The time of making utilitarian objects beautiful seems to have disappeared as the 20th century progressed.

Even though it has a simple cast iron base atop a concrete pedestal did the light itself have to be so ornate? Probably not, but isn’t this fixture more pleasant to look at, even with a small amount of advertising for the American Biscuit Company on the glass?

Ten Original Handwritten Lyrics To Some Of Rock ‘N’ Roll’s Greatest Songs

Genius At Work – Handwritten Lyrics From Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Paul Simon, Rush, The Beatles and Others

Bob Dylan’s handwritten lyrics to Mr. Tambourine Man

Maybe you’ve wondered; how did some of the greatest songs in the history of rock ‘n’ roll get written? When a creative artist puts pen to paper in a moment of inspiration, what does it look like?

If you are Paul McCartney or Keith Richards, sometimes melodies and words come in a dream.

McCartney’s melody for “Yesterday” was penned right after he dreamed about it. The original words he thought of were very different from the final version. Instead of,

“Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away. Now it looks as though they’re here to stay. Oh, I believe in yesterday.”

the words McCartney originally thought of were,

“Scrambled eggs. Oh, my baby, how I love your legs. Not as much as I love scrambled eggs. Oh, we should eat some scrambled eggs.”

MCartney obviously worked on those lyrics for what has become one of the all-time great Beatles songs, with John Lennon apocraphally changing the title to “Yesterday.” Unfortunately there is no trace of McCartney’s original handwritten lyrics for Yesterday.

Keith Richards said he recorded Satisfaction, the breakout song for The Rolling Stones while dreaming as well. Instead of a pen, Richards had a tape recorder by his bed in a hotel while on tour in 1965. In the morning he checked his portable recorder and was surprised it was at the end of the tape. He rewound it to the beginning and discovered he had laid down the main riff and chorus and the words “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction.” He had no memory of actually recording the song, but surmises he woke up while dreaming it and proceeded to record what he had dreamed and went back to sleep! Richards presented the song to the band, and singer Mick Jagger later helped with the lyrics.

Outside of dreams, words come to musicians in a variety of ways. We will not look at the story behind the songs, but the actual drafts of the lyrics to those songs.

Searching the internet for the early drafts of songs with corrections yielded few results. But this assemblage is still interesting to look at.

Jim Morrison singer and poet of The Doors wrote the haunting Riders on the Storm, and it was placed as the last song on the final album Morrison performed on, L.A. Woman. It was also the last song to be recorded for that album.

Interestingly guitarist Robbie Krieger’s name is crossed out. Well, we know Morrison didn’t write the entire melody, but Krieger quite possibly contributed some of the words. It is the only song on the album where all four band members receive writing credit.

Next, Paul Simon of Simon and Garfunkel with The Boxer from the 1970 album Bridge Over Troubled Water. Here you can see Simon’s thought process at work with most of the words never making it into the final version.

Continue reading

Immigration Enforcement In 1921 & Immigration Battles Today

Immigrants Inspected – Keeping America “Safe” 1921

Immigrants Examined By New York City Health Officials For Typhus Symptoms

To ward off a possible spread of the dread typhus in New York, Dr. Royal S. Copeland, Health Commissioner, has assigned a squad of inspectors to examine all immigrants released from Ellis Island on their arrival in New York City. The immigrants must pass two inspections before being permitted to land. The Federal health authorities examine them at Ellis Isalnd and Dr. Copeland’s squad assisted by New York police round them up at the Battery and take them to a nearby ferry house where another examination is made. Several carriers of the typhus lice  according to reports have been discovered by the Copeland squad after the Ellis Island officials had permitted them to pass through.

The photo shows Dr. Copeland’s squad examining newly landed immigrants. photo: International News 2-14-21

Today there is much more than typhus to worry about when deciding who shall be admitted to the United States. “Extreme vetting” to thwart terrorists is one of the big debates. And of course there is that contentious issue of the estimated 11 million people that are in the United States illegally.

In all the arguments that have been brought up about amnesty for illegals, I have not seen anyone saying they are against legal immigrants and immigration. Continue reading

New York Yankees Old Timer’s Day Has Become Mediocre Ex-Yankee Day

Why The New York Yankees Old Timer’s Day Has Become A Joke

1955 Old Timer’s Day (l-r) Frank Home Run Baker, Ray Schalk, Dazzy Vance, Ted Lyons, Gabby Hartnett and Joe DiMaggio (photo: Acme)

Sunday June 25, 2017 the New York Yankees will hold their 71st Old TImer’s Day.

There was a time when baseball’s immortals and Gods showed up at Old Timer’s Day games. Take a look at this video below and you can understand my disappointment at what passes today for Yankees Old Timer’s Day. If  you have any sense of the history of baseball, this assemblage of players at Yankee Stadium taped on the field by Greg Peterson in 1982 will blow you away.

Maybe the disappointment stems from the fact that with a few exceptions there are almost no former Yankee players of the Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Lefty Gomez, Waite Hoyt; Allie Reynolds; Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra caliber still living. The pomp and ceremony of recent Yankees Old Timer’s Day is now somewhat revolting to watch.

Old-Timers Day started with a gathering unlike any other. In 1939 former Yankee teammates of Lou Gehrig gathered to honor him after he had stopped playing due to contracting the illness, (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) that would eventually take his life and now bears his name. It was at this occasion that Gehrig made his “luckiest man on the face of the earth,” speech.

Starting in the 1940s, Yankees Old Timer’s Day became an annual event where former baseball stars from other teams squared off against former Yankee greats. The players who graced the field at Yankee Stadium to play in a spirited and fun exhibition game were among the best to ever play the game. Over the years other teams held their own Old Timer’s Day. Now the Yankees are the only team in baseball that still holds an Old Timer’s Day .

At previous Old Timer’s Day fans would see opponents such as; Ty Cobb; Lefty Grove; Dizzy Dean; Al Kaline; Stan Musial; Ted Williams; Warren Spahn; Hank Greenberg; Bob Feller; Bill Terry; Pee Wee Reese; Duke Snider; Willie Mays and dozens of other “real” stars.

A collection of Hall Of Fame participants at the 1968 Old Timer’s Day at Yankee Stadium (l-r) Red Ruffing; Bill Terry; Luke Appling; Bill Dickey; Joe Medwick; Frankie Frisch; Pie Traynor; Joe DiMaggio; Bob Feller and Lefty Grove.

As the Hall-of Famer’s and greats started passing away the names showing up at Old Timer’s Day gradually became less glamorous, until they started delving into quasi-stars and then marginal players.

I am not certain when exactly it ended, but the Yankees stopped inviting players from other teams to participate in Old Timer’s Day.

Over the last 15 years, you may have noticed Old Timer’s Day has become a Yankee love-fest of a few former stars such as Paul O’Neil, Roy White, Willie Randolph, Joe Pepitone and a lot of what can best be described as one season wonders or ordinary ex-Yankee players.

There are still some great former Yankee players who show up to participate in the festivities most notably Whitey Ford, Reggie Jackson, Ron Guidry, Goose Gossage and this year a rare visit by Sparky Lyle.

Many of players the Yankees invite to Old Timer’s Day are nondescript. Yankee management must feel that today’s fans prefer seeing some of these “greats” that have participated in Old Timer’s Day over the last few years:

Brian Boehringer; Scott Bradley; Homer Bush; Bubba Crosby; Chad Curtis; Brian Dorsett;  Dave Eiland; John Flaherty; Bobby Meacham; Jerry Narron; Matt Nokes; Dan Pasqua; Gil Patterson; Andy Phillips; Aaron Small; Tanyon Sturtze; Marcus Thames and others of that ilk. Continue reading

Why You Should NEVER Switch To Spectrum (Formerly Time Warner Cable)

In New York City, If You Thought Cable TV, Internet & Phone Services Were Bad, Just Wait Until You Deal With Spectrum

       

Let’s start out by saying all internet / cable TV / satellite providers are not known for their great customer service. They usually are very good at eliciting complaints.

I’ve previously been a customer of Cablevision, Verizon Fios and Time Warner Cable. No one but stockholders can possibly like these companies.

But Time Warner cable had actually improved their overall service in the last few years and their prices became somewhat reasonable thanks to the good old American free market system known as competition.

Then Charter Communications acquired Time Warner and in 2016 created a merged monster called Spectrum. This new company would be more aptly named after James Bond’s arch enemy Spectre. Continue reading

New York’s Problems And Why It Forced One Editor To Leave

What’s Wrong With New York City

This Essay By Stanley Walker, One Of The Finest Newspaper Editors In History, Will Strike Home For Anyone Who Has Ever Lived In New York

At the end of Walker’s essay we’ll reveal something remarkable about this story.

“I like to visit New York, but I wouldn’t live there if you gave it to me.” -OLD AMERICAN SAYING. Continue reading

May Day, New York City In The Past And Today

Those Old May Day Gatherings In New York

SOCIALISTS HOLD MAY DAY CELEBRATION IN CENTRAL PARK – Shown above is a general scene showing the large crowd of socialists as they listened to the speakers during the meeting held in Central Park, New York City on May Day. (May 1, 1935 credit: Acme)

Today is May Day which for anyone who went to elementary school in New York City pre-1980 used to be a joyous holiday, celebrated by dancing around a Maypole.

May Day, a centuries old Pagan holiday whose origins and meaning are debated, is now a day of protest. In many parts of England, Wales, Germany and a few other European countries, the Maypole dance and tradition continues. In the United States the day has sunk into a free-for-all for any group to call attention to all their perceived slights and injustices.

In the late 19th century May Day began to be associated with organized marches and assemblies for worker’s rights, unions and socialism. By the 1930s, communists took the day as theirs to celebrate.

Today you will not see any New York City school children doing Maypole dances.

Brooklyn May Day celebration 10,000 girls at Prospect Park 1919

You will not see the veterans of foreign wars praising the freedoms of the United States and protesting communists.

VETERANS HOLD RALLY ON MAY DAY – Photo shows general view of crowd in Union Square , New York City, scene of recent Communist riots, to participate in rally held by the Veterans of Foreign Wars on May 1st. Later the Reds held a demonstration at the same spot. (May 1, 1930 credit P&A photos)

You probably will not see Continue reading

How Don Hoak Scared The Hell Out Of Me When I Was A Kid

Don Hoak Becomes The Bogeyman

Don Hoak was a professional baseball player for 11 seasons. From 1954-1964 Hoak played for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Pittsburgh Pirates and the Philadelphia Phillies. By all accounts he was a nice man and a decent player who had a career .265 batting average.

In real life Don Hoak probably never intentionally scared a child. Little did he know one day this baseball card would affect one superstitious, naive, ignorant kid.

One day when I was about 7-years-old I acquired some old baseball cards from the 1960s from my grandfather. I showed them to an older boy and when he came to Don Hoak  he said, “you know, he’s dead,” as he handed the card back to me.

Well I stared at the card and I got the willies. An actual shudder ran down my spine.

“Dead? What do you mean, dead?” I said.

My simpleton mind knew what dead meant, but I did not have much real life experience with death.

All I knew was that I was holding a dead man in my hand. How could he be dead? This card is only a few years old and he couldn’t have been an old man?

“How’d he die?” I needed to know.

“I don’t know but he died a few years ago (1969)” my companion said. Then he added, “He may have been murdered.”

Wellllll  now I was transfixed for about a full minute. This simple 1964 Topps baseball card of a smiling ballplayer took on new meaning. Continue reading

President Trump And The First Pitch of The Baseball Season

President Trump Won’t Throw Out The Ceremonial First Pitch On Opening Day

Donald Trump in 2004 throws out the ceremonial first pitch photo: Kathy Willens AP via Newsday

The major league baseball season opens this weekend on Sunday, April 2, 2017.

Though it might have been “great” or “terrific,” President Trump will not throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Washington Nationals opening game on Monday, April 3.

Why?

Probably because rudeness has become our nation’s new normal.

President Barack Obama threw out ceremonial first pitches and was booed by thousands of fans. It’s almost certain that if President Trump were to show up at opening day, the jeers would be deafening.

There was a time in this country, not very long ago where the office of the President of the United States was shown respect, even if you vehemently disagreed with the president’s policies or even loathed him. The president showing up at baseball’s opening day was an occasion to celebrate our national pastime and have the president participate in a tradition. Continue reading

George Carlin On How Corporations Control America

A Short Summary On Why Things Never Get Better

To call George Carlin a comedian would be a narrow definition of who he was. My best description would be: a brilliant social commentator  with observations wrapped in comedy aimed at the masses to induce critical thinking with laughter.

Normally we abstain from profanity on this web site. You can say a lot without having to resort to vulgarisms. But integral to George Carlin and his performances was his use of profanity. If the truth is wrapped in profanity, then the truth will be voiced here.

Here is the late George Carlin’s explanation  of who runs America and reminds us that we are not members of “the club.”