Saturday, June 30, 2007

Excerpts from Richard Scarry's 'Golden Book Of Manners', 1962

Millions of copies of the hundreds of books by Children's author and illustrator Richard Scarry (1919 - 1994) have been entertaining and molding young minds the world over for decades now.

Looking through the pages of this particular book I'm struck by the visual humor of his artwork.

(click on images to ENLARGE)

There are the simple juxtapositions of size, and some gentle incongruities presented in vivid colors, but there seems to be some more subtle elements woven in here and there as well. Or maybe it's me, maybe I just want there to be.

It would appear that Scarry was a bit of a misanthrope in real life, so a quiet lampooning of the proper etiquette of social situations doesn't seem too big a stretch.

'The editors' acknowledge that animals are better behaved than most children.

Despite any pesky common sense issues, an elephant is offered a tiny chair that clearly will not support him, and a small mouse-girl is cajoled not to be shy around a kitty-cat.

I like the tiger hanging up it's leopard-skin coat, too.

(click on images to ENLARGE)

I'm also amused that the wonderful anthropomorphic animal characters seem to possess more personality than the human children.

Sitting on a train next to a warthog, to me they seem to be thinking to themselves nothing beyond, "I'm NOT staring and pointing, I'm NOT staring and pointing..."

It's just intriguing to see how things work in Scarry's world.

I'd like to see a giraffe putting on its little sailor suit. I'm very curious regarding the drift of the phone message the lion is leaving. And I respect that even the phreak-flag flyin' lion knows to doff his rave hat as the teeny-tiny display of patriotism passes by.

A couple of Scarry links:

A fascinating flickr photoset that catalogs some ot the curious 'P.C. update' differences between the 1963 and 1991 editions of Scarry's 'Best Word Book Ever'.

Scarry led a colorful life, and so there is a very colorful bio page tucked away at the diabolical Rotten.Com.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Rediscovering Larry Hankin

The other day I had just a few minutes to investigate a little used bookstore I'd never seen.

It was going out of business. I scurried about, head cocked sideways to quickly scan shelves for whatever I might find in the limited time available to me.

I found just a couple of things, including a book I'd never seen nor knew existed, but was nevertheless very pleased to see. It was a collection of 'Sometimes Jones' stories and other writings by Larry Hankin.

You know Larry Hankin. If you think you don't, you're mistaken; at the *very* least you've seen him as a character actor in small parts in movies or on TV. Lots of sitcoms, over lots of years. Always fun to watch.

Okay, cool, I said, there's a Larry Hankin book. What else is there? I've had my own well-loved copy of his spoken-word CD for many years, but was greatly dismayed to discover that it's currently out of print.

I looked online, and yes, he has a website, good to know.

Next I was very pleased to discover that there are several Larry Hankin video shorts I hadn't seen, sitting over at YouTube.

I've wedged a couple of them in here...

Huh - - Those are Hankin's own illustrations in the 'Sometimes Jones' video?!
Learn something new every day...

Some background, from the liner notes (dated 6.18.93) to his 1995 CD:

"LARRY HANKIN was raised in Far Rockaway, Long Island, New York, graduated Syracuse University with a degree in Industrial Design, broke his arm in a barroom fight on graduation night, and, on the invitation of a friend, went to Plattsburg, New York to recuperate and design sets for a summer stock theater.

"After healing, he joined the acting company, and in the Fall migrated to Manhattan where he washed dishes during the day and did stand-up comedy in Greenwich Village coffee houses at night, eventually opening for such diverse acts as Woody Allen, Miles Davis, and The Lovin' Spoonful.

"Invited by Paui Sills, the director/founder of 'Second City', Hankin left New York to join the Chicago 'Second City' company. A few monlhs later he left Chicago and traveled further west to help found 'The Committee', the world-famous comedy improvisational theater In San Francisco - (which brought him full-circle back to New York when 'The Committee' was invited to play the St. James Theater on Broadway).

"He then traveled to Hollywood to co-star as Charlie Butz in 'Escape From Alcatraz', starring Clint Eastwood, and deciding to stay, has since appeared in more than forty T.V. sitcoms, dramas, and movies-of-the-week and over twenty theatrical features inciuding John Huston's 'Annie', 'Sting II', 'Armed & Dangerous', 'Running Scared', and three John Hughes films: 'She's Having A Baby', 'Planes, Trains & Automobiles', and 'Home Alone.'

"In 1988 Larry returned to the stage to play the lead character of 'Jacques' in the American premiere of Milan Kundera's 'Jacques & His Master' at LATC directed by Simon Callow, which won LA.'s Triple Crown: The Critic's Choice in all three of LA.'s major dailies: The LA. Times, Herald Examiner, and Daily News.

"And, in between, Hankin has contlnued to write, direct, and play his popular tall, thin, chaplin-like character, 'SOMETIMES JONES' in the many video and film shorts he produces himself, several of which have played in the United States on the HBO,Showtime, Cinemax, and A & E cable television stations - including his favorite, 'SOLLY'S DINER', which garnered an Academy Award nomination."

There's a considerably more updated bio and resume on view over at Hankin's website.
Enjoy getting to know Larry Hankin a little better.

From Larry Hankin's ''Pomes & Stories' CD (New Alliance Records, 1995), Listen to:

The Guilty Mantra
Who Wrote The Book Of Love
And So Are You
A Quicksand Hero

(click for audio)

Reasons To Be Cheerful: week of 06/29/07 - - Special Horn-Tootin' Link-Laden Vanity Edition

I'm continually amused and fascinated by the manner in which the internet is forever swallowing its own tail.

Always self-referencing itself, citing what its already said, pointing to others who are pointing back, ad infinitum...

...So by all means, let me add to the process! Repetition is the sincerest form of blogging.

THANK YOU for visiting my blog. I'm having great fun doing it, and it's very gratifying that so many others seem to be enjoying looking at it.

I've had some WONDERFUL feedback and comments from people, and have been surprised to be making new acquaintances with folks out there. Just this week I received a sweet comment on one of my earliest postings, and it's the sort of thing that represents EXACTLY why I bother erecting a blog at all.

Please hit this link and take a moment to read Tim's comment appearing after the post.

It was just about three weeks ago that I excitedly declared that 'I'm Learning To Share' had passed the 5,000 hits mark, so you can imagine how giddy I am to now report that a couple of days ago that number reached 20,000 visits.

The increasing traffic has been due to other blogs, forums, and websites linking to this site - - some in their sidebar 'blogrolls', and many of them repeating individual postings.

There've been several, and I'll admit I've become obsessed with trying to track some of the action. The seeming lack of rhyme or reason to the *timing* has been especially interesting, as sometimes there'll be a sudden flurry of activity for something I posted weeks or months ago.

By far the biggest spike in traffic has come from the '70's Ebony Magazine Fashion Ads piece I posted here a couple of weeks back, (It's also come to be known as the 'Eleganza' piece) which was picked up (and expanded upon!) by the deservedly well-traveled Boing Boing.

Once it had showed up there, it has in turn been traveling the globe at various other sites. As of this writing, it seems to be doing well in Russia.

I've been having fun visiting all these diverse sites that have been visiting here, and I've seen some cool and colorful things - - so I've listed some of them below for you to enjoy as well.

Maybe you'll see yourself! Smile and wave!

Most of these listed links have linked to my site pretty recently, a few go back two or three months. I've left out some of the sites I've ALREADY posted links to in my own sidebar's blogroll. I've also left out some of the forums and chat sites, and some of the more 'personal' blogs, like the woman near Lake Tahoe with all the forest fire reports and wedding photos. Or the site titled 'The Peculiar One', which - - though a perfectly charming list-o-links blog - - carries perhaps a tad more gay porn than I *personally* am looking for...

- I was aready familiar with the delicately lovely, often sultry Spanish site Mira y Calla; I've been visiting there off and on for a couple of years. I'm pleased as punch to have them steer their impressive list of colorful and curious links in my direction.

- Likewise I'm stoked by inclusion at the oft-visited the Percy Trout hour. Pop-culture aritfacts, the kind men like, from one of the stalwart PCL LinkDump's contributors.

- Says Dave, Editor-In-Chief of The Alien Intelligencer, "...This blog is about the future now, politics, humor, sustainability, Tampa (Florida), Seminole Heights, and refurbishing the house."

- I love the new title given to that pimp-tastic Eleganza fashion piece over at Artificially Important: 'Mitch Better Have My Bunny'. The stylin' outfits also seemed to fit right in amidst the fashion, design, and lifestyle found at Italy's

- Yet another 'A.I.'; A spin on world news and pop-culture at AmericanIdle | DaBoyZ gone Idle

- Somehow darkly compelling strangeness at the recently erected (?) Turksville.

- It could be a while before Chelsea and the Fat Cop reveals it's hidden meanings to me, but I enjoyed visiting.

- Though still mysterious, KahlilaGibran's philosophy seems more apparent.

- As a comix fanboy, I was way freakin' excited to have been noticed by artist
Steven Weissman at his 'Yikes' etc. blog, CHEWING GUM IN CHURCH. I love his stuff, don't you? I hear he's got a new book, 'Mean', coming out this fall, compiling some older material...

- And speaking of the extended alterno-comix world, that's the purview of the lovely and friendly Crawbear.

- Check out poster artist Tyler Stout's work at his blog/gallery/store,

- Puppies and Flowers is a *perfect* diverse diversion, and it sums up it's 'mission statement' well: "...for when you need to think of something else in a hurry."
See also: Internet Lurker - - Mr. and Mrs. Lurker's credo; "Helping You To Waste Some Time!"

- el6ato y el7opo; another diverting mix of whimsy, news, and pictures pretty and/or racy. In Italian. Vaguely similar is Anders Buhl from Copenhagen, but with less news and more retro pop-culture stuff.

- Likewise for LasMusas, but in Spanish, and not really racy. Ditto for O comments.

- Similar vibe from tannu-tuva, 'a 22 year-old guy in Istanbul, Turkey', with a great mix of highbrow and lowbrow.

- is a very useful, wide-ranging and very drab-looking link pasting community board.

- The multi-lingual Elephäntville - formerly known as Netdyslexia is pretty much the same concept, though lighter in mood and much easier on the eye.
Same goes for Daily Links but it's just the one link wrangler there, and it's in English.
See also Judson Frondorf's ackackack, ditto and the archives at Pete

- c h e w i e . t u m b l r . c o m; Chewie has a good sense of humor about the bits and pieces he's gathered, but seems a bit angry. Might need a hug.
I don't know, nevermind. They've probably got opinions about what I need, too...

- They grow'em hip in Texas; (or is it hep?) Dallas and Fort Worth Mid-Century Modern, "A blog devoted to Mid-Century Modern design, culture and architecture in the Metroplex, Texas and beyond."

- Sandbox World (The Entertainment Playground), "... in a metaphorical sense, is a place that is safe for play or experiment. Sandbox’s main purpose is to entertain both parents and kids to the new books, DVDs, comics, and fun facts and new ideas to share with each other."

- Bat Guano's BraiN! is a video-clip laden blog affiliated with Mr. Guano's radio show on WIDR in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

- The wonderful JB's Warehouse and Curio Emporium celebrates a nice variety of ephemeral odds & ends, as well as the environs in and around the city of Toronto. Stop by and visit!

- What a treat to discover Schadenfreudian Therapy! Sign me up, doc! "Featuring 1950-60s vintage Calypso music, various & sundry musical oddness, and kitsch monstrosities from years gone by. Yeah, buddy." Amen!

- And Monkeys For Helping is just the perfect, smart-ass, too-cool-for-school giggle I need in my life. Glad it's out there.

- I am a citizen insane appears to have just been established a couple of weeks ago, but shows promise. Interesting images. Love the Milo Manara poster.

- I'm completely fascinated by the Eyebeam reBlog. "Distilling Art and Technology". Perfect. They can be tech-nerds so we don't have to. See also's Tech News.

- is one of the several aforementioned Russian sites that have just recently linked to the Eleganza thing. This one seems the user-friendliest to my Western eyes, which is good, as it appears I'm too lazy to run the page through a translator. Actually, with the mix of images - - serious, hauntingly beautiful, and just plain silly - - that they've harvested, I guess I'd rather let the mystery be...

- ...But it must be just my own plain laziness in the case of UrbanMania, 'cuz I'm really curious. I'll take a stab and say - - Icelander living in London and doing a lot of traveling - - ? I see urban living and urban accessories, lots of coffee, eclectic travel photos and interesting musical tastes. Fair enough.

OH!! But before I wrap this up, here's a story I don't know if you heard...

To me, the funniest incident of my blog being linked elsewhere would still have to be related to the 'Venus' vs. 'The Banjo Song' post that ran way back in April.

My blog was still pretty new, and it was the first time it started to receive any significant international attention.

The timing of my piece on a strange similarity between two songs coincided with a segment on Dutch TV on the same topic which ran a few days later.

(LINK here, and scroll down the page to the Leo Blokhuis clip, which you can view on your Windows Media Player)

I started getting lots of hits coming in from The Netherlands and Belgium, and as my post made the rounds, someone sent a note to 'Podfather' Adam Curry at his studios in England.

Here's a link to the specific episode of his podcast, but here's the audio clip where Curry reads from my blog.

I couldn't figure out which was funnier; to recall that the big-haired MTV veejay had become a pioneer of internet broadcasting, or that the same dude was now reading aloud something I'd written about an obsure piece of music trivia.

Life is full of little surprises, I guess.

Sharing is fun, and it seems others agree.
Thanks for the links, all, and thanks again for visiting. See you out there!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Jackals: A 1984 self-titled LP, cover art by Robert Williams

A very cool 'psychobilly' band from Portland Oregon, going back to the 1980's and early '90's.

Lead vocalist / guitarist Louis Samora had passed through the ranks of other Portland punk bands, like Dead Moon and The Rats before forming The Jackals.

This first LP was 'recorded in 300° Monster Mono' to good effect.

Cover art was supplied by Robert Williams, the underground cartoonist / Big Daddy Roth alumnus / 'father' of the 'Lowbrow' art movement.

Very apt liner notes from X's John Doe completed The Jackals' 'cool' credentials.

Band line-up:

Louis Samora - Vocals, Guitar

David Corboy - Guitar

Steve Casmano - Bass

Robert Parker - Traps

The band dissolved in the early nineties, Samora and Casmano moving on to a similar group, The Flapjacks, who are still performing.

From the self-titled 'Jackals' LP (Anubis Records, 1984), Listen to:

Iron Horse
Psycho Billy Belinda
Life Begins At 4 O'Clock
Mohawk Twist
The Stroll
Too Crucial
Feeling Greasy
Lonesome Train (On A Lonesome Track)
That's That
Down Right Neighborly
No Brain

(click for audio)

- - OR download all 11 tracks in one 27.3 Mb zipfile.

Wonderful World of Disney Summer Schedule, 1968

I remember many Sunday nights as a kid when it seemed that 'The Wonderful World of Disney' on TV was a given - - as though it was mandatory viewing.

I recall an exciting mix of feelings on the occasions when my family *didn't* watch it. Confusion, like there was something amiss, mixed with an almost illicit thrill, like whatever was happening instead was somehow forbidden fruit. I guess growing up in front of a television set conditions you pretty quickly.

The scan above is of a page from the Disney News, Summer 1968 edition. A flea market find from a couple of weekends back.

It was "The Official Magazine for Magic Kingdom Club Families", just for those elite insiders, a privilege of membership along with discounts on ticket books at Disneyland. (Back when Disneyland rides required tickets)

Judging by the TV viewing fare Disney offered that summer, I wonder if they had some sort of title generator around the production office. Or maybe they liked Mad Libs...

"(Name), the (adjective) (animal)"

Try it at home! Program your own late-sixties family-forward viewing!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Ruth Buzzi & Arte Johnson - Don't Futz Around / Very Interesting - - plus a small shrine to Ruth

I've always had a thing for Ruth Buzzi.

There, I've said it, and I feel better. Regardless of how lowbrow or oddball the old TV show or movie, it always makes me happy to see her appear.

Way back on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, the more they'd try to convince me that Ruth was frumpy or plain as compared with Goldie Hawn or Judy Carne, the more I'd have to disagree.

I think part of my response was the old thing about a confident attitude. Ruth Buzzi was always only too willing to make herself look ridiculous, and it always seemed like she really had fun doing so.

Yep, it's a turn-on. Makes her sexy. And it doesn't matter if her exuded confidence was real or imagined. It worked on me.

(click on images to ENLARGE on a new page)

The text piece below is taken from the February, 1969 issue of the short-lived 'Laugh-In' magazine.⬇

page 1⬆ (click to ENLARGE)

page 2⬆ (click to ENLARGE)

page 3⬆ (click to ENLARGE)

In recent years it seems Ms. Buzzi's appearances on TV have been mostly on children's shows and doing voice-over work in animation. Sounds appropriate enough.

It still just makes me happy to know she's out there.

A couple of other places you'll find Ruth Buzzi around the net:

Here's a link to an interview over at RetroCRUSH.

- - And here's something *really* unusual: Excerpts from Ruth Buzzi's 1954 High School Yearbook, at a site which also includes shots of Buzzi doing poses in a 1978 yoga manual...!?! ↙

As Gladys Ormphby, with Arte Johnson as Tyrone F. Horneigh ⬇

Which brings us to Arte Johnson.
I love him too, for many of the same reasons, though he doesn't hold *quite* the same allure for me. But again, the perception is that being funny comes naturally, he makes it look easy, so he's fun to watch.

- - And so it worked well as a comedic partnership.

A side-note: I really hope Arte Johnson's been receiving royalties for the countless crossword puzzles he's appeared in over the past few decades...

Looks like Ruth and Arte released this single on the Reprise label in 1968, right around the time that 'Laugh-In' was enjoying its first big wave of success.

My copy of the 45 has always been rather worn, I've done my best to try and clean up the crappy sound fidelity.

Yes, they are singing the word 'Futz', make no mistake.

A definition of 'to futz around' is perhaps best represented as being identical to 'fool around': To spend time idly, aimlessly, or frivolously.

On 'Very Interesting' Arte is in character as Wolfgang, the German soldier, while Ruth giggles in the background.

Basically they're covering the same territory as Jim Backus and 'friend' Phyllis Diller back in 1958 on 'Delicious'. (Thanks to The Hound)

(click for audio)

Listen to:
Ruth Buzzi & Arte Johnson -
Don't Futz Around

Listen to:
Arte Johnson & Ruth Buzzi -
Very Interesting

UPDATE, 10.1.08: Just a few more Ruth images added for good measure, just for fun.

The three illustrations above ▲ are all by artist Rod Filbrandt, as seen at his
cartooning / illustration blog,
Chowderhead Bazoo.

One is #11 in Rod's
'Ultimate Superstar Trading Card' series, the other two appeared in Vancouver B.C.'s weekly newspaper, The Georgia Straight.

UPDATE, 4.19.09: For more info about one less-remembered Ruth project, Follow this link to see the theater program from 1972's ill-fated 'Clownaround'.

Some Road Candy, or 'Horehounds On My Trail'

Last Saturday I was passing through Shoshone, Idaho and stopped for bruncheon at the Manhattan Cafe.

While settling up the bill, I was entranced by the spin rack of colorful candy treats near the counter by the register.

I was already familiar with the Idaho Spud brand. My Dad had grown up in north-eastern Oregon, and the Idaho Spud bar was part of the tapestry of my summertime childhood vacations, riding in the statiion wagon up 101 from the bay area to visit my Grandparents near the beautiful southern Oregon coast.

Dad had his own childhood story of free sample spud bars being given to him by a man wearing a sandwich board at a county fair in the mid-1920's.

As my siblings and I grew to adulthood, any one of us having the rare encounter with a place that sold spud bars would grab a few for the the others. The fact that everyone else we knew HATED them only made it more fun.

Since my big move to the land of the spud bar, the various offerings from the Idaho Candy Company have perhaps lost some of their exotic mystique. (Though they're each special in their own way. I'm particularly fond of the 'Old Faithful', and the Butter Toffee is just plain evil)

- - But here were treats I'd not seen before, at least not previously affiliated with the name Idaho Spud.

I brought home the ones that intrigued me the most. With one notable exception they all seemed fairly straightforward to me, despite being blessed with names that lend themselves to whimsy.

It was certainly the Horehound Lumps that I was most curious about, and thus far the only one of the batch I've actually been moved to sample.

First, I had to educate myself a bit about this mysterious Horehound, a name that was new to me.

That out of the way, it was on to the ingredients, which stated that the lumps contained 'genuine organic horehound tea'.
Fair enough, and so on to my report:

Horehound Lumps taste like a surprisingly bitter lemon drop and are very similar in texture.

I think more accurately the flavor is something akin to chugging Dr. Pepper whilst simultaneously eating lots of celery sticks.

We'll call it 'an acquired taste', but it's all in the name of scientific advancement...

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

78s fRom HeLL: Esy Morales & El Boy - Easy Does It (1950)

Flutist, bandleader and composer Esy Morales (1917-1950) was the younger brother of pianist-bandleader Noro Morales, born in Puerta de Tierra, Puerto Rico to a musical family.

Esy moved to New York in 1930 and played with Xavier Cugat's orchestra for several years before teaming with Noro in the Brothers Morales Orchestra in 1938.
He left to form his own band in 1947.
Trumpet player Doc Severinsen was a member of the group at one point.

In 1949, 'Esy Morales and his Rhumba Band' had a cameo appearance in the film-noir thriller 'Criss Cross', which starred
Burt Lancaster and Yvonne De Carlo.

'Easy Does It' was recorded in 1950 and released as the flip-side to Morales' original composition 'Jungle Fantasy', a tune later covered by Herbie Mann, Yusef Lateef and many others.

(click for audio)

Listen to: Esy Morales and his Latin-American Orchestra, vocal by El Boy - Easy Does It

Listen to: Esy Morales and his Latin-American Orchestra - Jungle Fantasy

Esy Morales would die far too young, of a sudden heart attack later that same year.

The Morales Brothers' close friend Tito Puente composed and recorded his song 'Esy' in tribute soon after.
(Thanks to Big Band Database Plus for some reference material)

Singer Juan Ramón Torres, a.k.a. 'El Boy' was also from Puerto Rico, and during the 1940s was a popular vocalist in New York, performing with several of the established 'latin' big bands.

(Thanks to jaramij for the photo of El Boy)

Monday, June 25, 2007

Internet Radio Day of Silence; Tuesday, June 26th

ADDENDUM 6/27/07: Click here for some updated coverage at RAIN on yesterday's Day of Silence.

A brief pause in my usual nonsense, if I may.

Although I take great pride in my blog's customary lack of 'important' issue-based content, I feel the need to make an exception in this case.

The future of internet radio is important to me. I feel it's important to everyone, whether they're aware of it or not.

I urge you to please take a moment to educate yourself about tomorrow's 'Internet Radio Day of Silence', and be aware of the issues at hand.

Please take a look at the information below, and/or click on that link for more information.

Thanks, I appreciate it.


"In response to an impending royalty rate increase that, if implemented, would lead to the virtual shutdown of Internet radio in the U.S., thousands of webcasters plan to go silent next Tuesday, June 26, to draw attention to their industry's plight.

This "Day of Silence" is an encore of a successful media event that small webcasters organized on May 1, 2002 in response to a similar royalty rate ruling from a Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel (CARP) five years ago. That event garnered national attention and was subsequently followed by a rate cut by the Librarian of Congress and the passage of the Small Webcaster Settlement Act for the period 1998-2005.

Webcasters will be alerting their listeners that "silence" is what Internet radio may sound like on or shortly after July 15th, the day on which 17 months' worth of retroactive royalty increase payments are due to the SoundExchange collection organization under the terms of a recent Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) decision."

(via RAIN: The Radio and Internet Newsletter, via Bedazzled and many others)

- - Below are SOME HELPFUL STATISTICS about the the royalty rate increases and how they affect you.

>The Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) decision increases the royalties that Internet webcasters pay to play music by nearly 300% for the biggest webcasters and up to 1200% for small webcasters.

>The CRB rates are retroactive to January 1, 2006 and payable on July 15, 2007. This decision could bankrupt many Internet radio services immediately on that date, even if it is effective for only one day.

>Past due royalties alone will be enough to bankrupt virtually all small and mid-sized webcasters, many of whom are the hallmarks of programming diversity.

>The American Association of Independent Music (A2IM) reports that less than 10% of terrestrial radio performances are independent music but more than 37% of non-terrestrial radio is independent music.

>According to Arbitron and Bridge Ratings, between 50 and 70 million Americans listen to internet radio a month.
Bridge Ratings & Research estimates that the Internet radio audience will double by 2010 and grow to nearly 200 million monthly listeners by 2020.

>Internet radio listeners are 20% more likely to have purchased downloadable music than the average American. (Arbitron)


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Allen & Grier - It's Better to be Rich Than Ethnic / Jake Holmes - Dazed And Confused

(Others have most certainly written about Jake Holmes around the net, so I guess it's just my turn)

Pete Seeger dubbed them 'the most tasteless folk group ever'. High praise for the comedic musical duo Allen & Grier, if a bit off the mark.

Songs performed by Jake Holmes (Allen) and his then-wife Kay Holmes (Grier), mocked not just the folk music genre, but society in general as well.

The couple split and the act disbanded some time after the 1963 release of their one album, 'It's Better to be Rich Than Ethnic', and the convoluted career of musician Jake Holmes just gets continually more fascinating after that.

He was the 'straight man' musician in a comedy trio with Joan Rivers and Jim Connell. He performed in one of the groups Tim Rose had before Rose went solo.

By 1967, Holmes had become a 'serious' singer-songwriter, performing solo and with a small backing group, and had recorded his first solo album, '"The Above Ground Sound" of Jake Holmes'.

One notorious piece of Rock history Holmes is famously linked to occured on August 25, 1967 when he was performing at The Village Theatre in New York's Greenwich Village.

He was appearing on a bill with The Yardbirds, he performed his composition 'Dazed And Confused', and the song went over so well with guitarist Jimmy Page that Page would claim sole writing credit on the song two years later on the first Led Zeppelin LP.

But wait, it gets better. In 1969, lyricist Holmes collaborated with musical composer Bob Gaudio on the 4 Seasons' 'concept' album, 'Genuine Imitation Life Gazette' . In 1970, they collaborated again for Frank Sinatra's 'Watertown' LP.

Heading into the mid-seventies, as his musical career appeared to be waning, Holmes moved into writing advertising jingles. It's in this capacity that most people know the work of Jake Holmes, though most are unaware of the fact.

Among his biggest 'hits': 'Be A Pepper' for Dr. Pepper (with Randy Newman), 'Be All That You Can Be' for the U.S. Army, and 'Raise Your Hand If You're Sure' for Sure deodorant.

For more background and a fascinationg interview, click over to read the 2001 article,
'Dazed And Confused: The Incredibly Strange Saga of Jake Holmes' at Perfect Sound Forever.

From Allen & Grier's 'It's Better to be Rich Than Ethnic' LP (FM Records, 1963), Listen to:

Teenage Mother
It's Better to be Rich Than Ethnic
Hyena Baby
Hippety Hop
Snoot Full of Snow

(click for audio)

- - and from "The Above Ground Sound" of Jake Holmes (1967)

Listen to: Jake Holmes - Dazed And Confused (click for audio)

Freshly-stirred links