Category Archives: Books

Primitives & Savages – It’s All Culturally Relative Right?

A Different Sort Of Savagery

Marriage Among The Australian Aborigines – 1870

19th Century Australian Marriage Ceremony

We see that marriage by capture, either as a stern reality or as an important ceremony, prevails in Australia and among the Malays, in Hindostan, Central Asia, Siberia, and Kamskatka; among the Esquimaux, the Northern Redskins, the Aborigines of Brazil, in Chile and Tierra del Fuego, in the Pacific Islands, both among the Polynesians and the Fijians, in the Philippines, among the Arabs and Negroes, in Circassia, and, until recently, throughout a great part of Europe.

In Australia little real affection exists between husbands and wives, and young men value a wife principally for her services as a slave. In fact, when asked why they are anxious to obtain wives, their usual reply is, that they “may get wood, water, and food for them, and carry whatever property they possess.”

The position of women in Australia seems indeed to be wretched in the extreme. They are treated with the utmost brutality, beaten and speared in the limbs on the most trivial provocation. Few women, says Eyre, will be found, upon examination, to be free from frightful scars upon the head, or the marks of spear wounds about the body. I have seen a young woman who, from the number of these marks, appeared to have been almost riddled with spear wounds. If at all good-looking their position is, if possible, even worse than otherwise.

Excerpt and illustration taken from:

The Origin of Civilisation And The Primitive Condition Of Man – Mental and Social Condition Of Savages by Sir John Lubbock, Member Parliament, Baronet, Fellow of the Royal Society. Author of Prehistoric Times, etc. Vice President of the Ethnological Society, Fellow of the Linnean, Geological and Entomological And Other Societies. London: Longmans Green and Co. 1870

You have just read  a small sample of historic inhumanity not unique to Australia.

Europe, Asia and the America’s furnish abundant examples of similar behavior in uncivilized societies.

The frightening aspect of this, is that the reality of cultural relativism has been conveniently forgotten. Continue reading

Book Review -Set The Night On Fire By Robby Krieger The Doors Guitarist

An Inside View Of The Doors From Guitarist Songwriter Robby Krieger

It’s possible that somewhere among Robby Krieger’s possessions is a rare leather bound inscribed copy of Jim Morrison’s book An American Prayer. It’s also very possible that the book is moldering in a storage unit or was misplaced long ago and discarded.

The Doors guitarist Robby Krieger is not quite sure. Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #125 – Abbott & Costello Raise Money At A War Bond Drive

Abbott & Costello Raising Money In Los Angeles – 1942

The Government Later Shows Their Gratitude With An IRS Audit

Lou Costello (l) and Bud Abbott (r) raise money at a War Bond rally in Los Angeles. Photo: Los Angeles Daily News

Bud Abbott and Lou Costello were the number one box office stars in 1942, so who better to go out and rouse the public to buy War Bonds?

The United States entered World War II after Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. Abbott and Costello were too old to serve in the armed forces, but they would do their part to aid the war effort.

The comedians each donated their $10,000 weekly personal appearance salary to the Army and Navy relief fund. Traveling the country, Continue reading

Christopher Morley Describes West End Avenue 1932 – Part 2

Christopher Morley’s Description Of West End Avenue – Part 2

12 room apartments, doormen and an air of upper middle class gentility. All part of West End Avenue’s allure.

In 1932 Christopher Morley took an apartment at 54 Riverside Drive on the corner of 78th Street, a block away from his subject.

Here is the conclusion of Christopher Morley’s essay on West End Avenue.

West End is incomparably the most agreeable and convenient of large residential streets, second only to Riverside Drive—whose decline in prestige is mysterious. For that famous old glue-pot stench that used to come drifting across from Jersey has vanished altogether. West End is well churched and doctored. The abandoned hospital at the 72nd Street corner is something of a shock, but the Avenue hurries on uptown, consoling itself with Mr. Schwab’s chateau, its proudest architectural surprise. I wander past Mr. Schwab’s railings at night, noting the caretaker’s light in the attic and regretting that Charley seems to get so little use of his braw mansion. I like to see the homes of our great barons gay with lights and wassail: I have a thoroughly feudal view of society and believe that we small gentry acquiesce gladly in our restricted orbit provided the nabobs are kicking up a dust at the top of the scale. Sometimes I fear that our rich men have been intimidated by modern doctrines and do not like to be seen at frolic. Nonsense! They owe it to us. When a man builds a French chateau he should live in it like a French seigneur. For the gayety of West End Avenue I desire to see more lights in that castle, and hear the organ shaking the tall panes. Continue reading

Christopher Morley Describes West End Avenue 1932 – Part 1

Author Christopher Morley’s Description Of West End Avenue

“Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to continually be part of unanimity.”

This was Christopher Morley’s final message to his friends before he died at the age of 66 in 1957.

Morley’s biggest commercial success was the 1939 novel Kitty Foyle, which was turned into an Academy Award winning movie starring Ginger Rogers.

Though Morley would write more than 50 books of all sorts and edit Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, his name has been forgotten by modern readers. Below is a piece that paints a splendid picture of one of the least written about New York city streets.

This piece on West End Avenue appeared in Internal Revenue (1933) Doubleday, Doran.

You hear little about West End Avenue. It is too genteel to have much taste for publicity. But like all very decorous personalities it has its secret ligatures with grim fact. It begins at 106th Street, spliced into the western bend of Broadway, with a memory of the Titanic disaster (the Straus Memorial Fountain). It ends at 59th Street in Dead Storage and Loans on Cars, and in the gigantic Interborough Power House. Below that, though its uniformed hallboys do not like to admit it, it becomes Eleventh Avenue. 59th Street was the latitude where all those baseborn avenues of the old Tenderloin decided to 20 respectable by changing their names. Eighth became Central Park West, Ninth became Columbus, Tenth became Amsterdam, and Eleventh (or Death Avenue) became West End. But reform is as difficult for Streets as for persons. Broadway, careering diagonally across (trollops follow the Trade), drew ever upward its witch-fires and its sulphurous glow. Good old strongholds of middle-class manners were swamped. Apartments once gravid with refinement were given over to the dentist and the private detective (who cries Confidentially Yours in the window). When the MacFadden Publications burst into that part of town, reticences tottered. Even as far up as the 70’s the West Side struggles to disengage from sombre origins or too gaudy companionship. Then a Childs restaurant—unquestionable banner of fair repute – stems the tide on Broadway. Childs is too shrewd to step in on Doubtful Street. The church also comes to the rescue: a place of worship is combined with an apartment house. The Cross on top of this building, says a notice, “Guarantees Safety, Security, and Enjoyment.”

Of all this shifting struggle—so characteristic of New York and repeated in scores of regions all over town—West End Avenue is perfect symbol. The Interborough Power House, I dare say, gives it vitality to struggle successfully with the New York Central freight yards. It is humble enough here: it eats in Gibbs Diner and smokes its cob pipe in the switchman’s little house. It sees lines of milk cans on the sidings and is aware of the solid realities of provender and communication on which citizens depend. (Much of West End Avenue’s milk comes from Grand Gorge,  N. Y., which is an encouraging name to find printed on the cardboard bottle-top when you rummage the  ice-box late at night.) Then the Dodge and other automobile warehouses put ambition into it. It rises to a belt of garages and groceries. At 70th Street it makes as sudden a transformation as any street ever did—except perhaps that social abyss where Tudor City looks over the parapet onto First Avenue. “Here in A. D. 1877,” says the tablet in difficult Tudor script, as hen-track as Shakespeare’s, “was Paddy Corcoran’s Roost.” Who was Paddy? They have him in stone with an inverted Irish pipe. One day I walked through Tudor City with W. S. H., a heraldic expert, pursuivant of the various shields, emblems, armorial bearings and stained glaziery of that architect’s heyday. Cockle-shells, pelicans, griffons, lymphiads, bars and bends most sinister, nearly made an imbecile of my poor friend. Rouge Dragon himself could never unscramble that débris of the College of Arms. “The intended a boar, but it turned to a talbot,” cried W. S. H., examining one fierce escutcheon.

But West End Avenue, when it goes residential at 70th Street, does so in solid fashion, without freak or fantasy. For thirty-five blocks it has probably the most uniform skyline of any avenue in New York. It indulges little in terraces or penthouses; just even bulks of masonry. What other street can show me a run of thirty-five blocks without a shop-window? Few of its apartments have individual names. The Esplanade and the Windermere are two rare exceptions, as also the grand old Apthorp, the Gibraltar of our uptown conservatism: Inside its awful court-yard I have never dared to tread. We leave to the crosstown streets the need to hyperbolize their apartments with pretentious names.

Doomed New Yorker Cartoonist Ralph Barton On Living In New York – 1929

Ralph Barton Talks About New York After Living In Paris In The 1920s

Ralph Barton & Germaine Tallieferre

Ralph Barton & his 4th wife Germaine Talleferre photo: Daily News

“New York has ceased to be a city in which people live. It is necessary if one has to have quiet and peace to work to live in the suburbs. Steamships have made Europe a suburb of New York. I like to eat well, drink well and read grown up books, and these are not to be had in America.”

“New York is a crazy city and America is a madhouse. That is why I came back. I feel I belong here. Americans are crazy and I find I am crazy too. Americans are too rich. We have too much money. I have too much money. That is why I’m crazy. An artist ought to be prohibited from earning as much money as I do. Yet if someone suggested cutting my earnings, I’d scream so that you could hear me for three blocks.” – Ralph Barton upon returning to New York in 1929 after being in Paris for two years.

Barton committed suicide, Continue reading

Diary Of A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star By Ian Hunter Book Review

It’s A Very Long Way To The Top – Ian Hunter’s Diary Of A Tour

Remembering Mott The Hoople’s 1972 American Tour

In November 1972 Mott The Hoople embarked on a whirlwind tour of America, sometimes headlining, playing in large theaters and clubs. If you’re wondering, the English band’s name comes from a 1966 book. And after three years together they were developing a loyal following.

Mott’s current big hit, All The Young Dudes, written by their producer David Bowie was climbing up the charts. Continue reading

When New York City Schools Taught Kids How To Be Good Citizens

NYC Schools Used To Teach Kids The Responsibilities Of Citizenship

Something We Apparently Fail To Do Now

Teaching Civics, Respect & Unity, Not Divisiveness

Boys Club of PS 62 Hester and Norfolk St with policeman c 1907

Originally this piece was going to be about how dysfunctional the New York City school system is.

Then I realized that a critique of all the political correctness and hypocrisy that dominates decision making at the Department of Education and what kids are actually learning would require a book rather than an article.

Instead it would be better to examine what children used to learn in grammar school. The main focus was of course on reading, writing and arithmetic. A primary education as it should be.

The established standards applied to all children, regardless of religion, ethnicity, race or income level. But something else was taught that has been lost today: how to become useful and good citizens.

Simply put, Civics.

To understand this better let’s turn to a book that was in use in New York City schools during the early part of the twentieth century.

The book is called Good Citizenship by Julia Richman, Continue reading

Those Crazy Nineteenth Century Baseball Rules

As Ridiculous As The Ghost Runner Rule Was For The Past Two Years, 19th Century Baseball Had Some Strange Rules

For instance – a batter could be called out for deliberately fouling off pitches

MLB has been tinkering with the rules for the last few years, trying to improve the game. Seven inning double headers; ghost runners; pitching mound visit limits; and the relief pitcher, minimum three batter requirement are just a few of the gimmicks that have been implemented with many more changes under consideration such as; designated hitters in the National League; pitch clocks and moving the pitching rubber back twelve inches.

Thankfully the 2021 World Series does not have any ghost runners. That is the MLB rule enacted during the last two seasons in which a runner was placed on second base to begin extra innings in the hopes of shortening the length of extra inning games. Most fans hope the ghost runner will be abolished permanently in 2022.

In the 19th century baseball was constantly evolving and changing rules. While baseball’s basic rules have remained the same for the last 120 years, modern fans would be perplexed at many of the old rules. Before 1884 all pitchers had to throw underhand. The batter could request to the pitcher where he wanted the baseball thrown. Very few players wore baseball gloves – they were considered unmanly.

In the 1880s and 1890s the rule changes came fast and furious.

The following examples are from Jerry Lansche’s entertaining book Glory Fades Away The Nineteenth -Century World Series Rediscovered (Taylor Publishing Group) 1991.

1884- Pitchers were now allowed to throw overhand.

1884- An error was charged to the pitcher for a walk, balk, wild pitch or hit batsman and by the same logic an error in the catcher’s column for a passed ball.

1884- A foul ball caught on one hop was no longer an out. Continue reading