Sunday, January 31, 2010

You are hereby cordially invited to join BAMOO



Tomorrow marks the launch of the blog for the Bad Art Museum of Ohio (BAMOO).  BAMOO was founded in 1999 (I kid you not!) as the Ohio Bad Art Guild and for many years was on the web under a site with its name in it.  Well it kinda fell by the wayside when I started my own business.

The Board of Directors made an arbitrary decision to rename the enterprise BAMOO and authorized its new blog because its cheaper than paying for a web site.  Tomorrow marks the beginning of a new era in Bad Art appreciation.

We promise over a 100 works of original bad art (more or less) by some of Ohio's best painters in the Bad Art style, such as the one you see above.  Entitled CHAOS OR PROGRESS by Trumbull County Ohio artist Edith Chamberlain, it just oozes repression and all manner of Fruedian rocket envy.  I know you love it.  You can't help BUT love it!  And all of the pieces, including the one above, dwells in our basement.

Be there or be square.

http://badartmuseumofohio.blogspot.com/

Friday, January 29, 2010

Best of DHTISH, Surly it was Kismet



This is one my most favorite images - my late friend Gary Barnhart shared this with me when I wrote my first book. The image is of aerialist Betty Fox and the Godino twins high atop the fabulous Hotel Harding in Marion Ohio during the wee years of the depression.  

Fox was in town after performing with a circus at the Marion Star Auditorium on North State Street. The Godino's were going to open for a vaudeville review at the fabulous new Palace Theater across the street from the hotel the following day. Betty was checking out and the twins (and their wives, who were twins as well) were checking in. Hotel Manager Virgil Dye seized the moment and hustled all five up to the roof to capture the moment, which parlayed into a postcard and sold in the hotel gift shop.

But who were these people and why is their meeting a star crossed moment in time?

Betty Fox was a true dare deviltrix. (Words are always elegant when you add the "trix" on the end to make them more feminine.) There isn't a lot about her out there today. When I called the Columbus Public Library and asked if they had information Betty, I got an immediate "she did what?" And when I said she was a pole sitter (like it says on the picture) the reference librarian launched into a "Sir, we don't have information on that topic..."

It took me another 90 seconds to get her calmed down.

I didn't know that "pole sitter" was a dirty term. I guess we both got some education on popular culture during that phone call.

Fox made an entire career of hanging out of buildings, walking across wires that birds thought were put there for them to perch upon, and sitting on flagpoles when that was the rage. She also had an act with Benny Fox (her husband or brother, no one seems to know for certain) in which the pair would do all of the popular dances of the day on a 2X2 square platform forty feet above the ground. She performed into the 1960s, and to my knowledge died at a ripe old age, and not from falling off of anything. She's what we would have called a survivor. God love her.

The Godino's were Siamese Twins (I know I should PC term of "conjoined twins" but its so antiseptic!) who were attached at the butt muscle; they shared no organs, or other systems. Today we'd just snip them apart, and make them a human interest story on the Nightly News.   But back then, in Manila you didn't fix these types of things: you abandon them, which is exactly what the parents of the infant twins did. Out of sight, out of mind, as they used to say. Well, the twins were adopted by well connected government official who pampered them. They grew up, married twins (the non conjoined type), and developed a stage act where they put on roller skating shoes and rolled across the stage and did figure eights on while playing Melancholy Baby and Glow Worm on their violins. They made a good living at it while it lasted. The curtain came down on the Godino's in 1935 the one twin got sick and died, and a few hours later, the other twin went.

My favorite Godino story though is the one about their driving exploits - I found it in a newspaper out of Philadelphia from the 1920s. Seems that the Godino's loved automobiles and they loved to drive. SO their adoptive father, God love him, bought them a car with a right hand steering wheel so Lucio could drive and and a second car with left hand drive so Simplico could have equal time behind the wheel (or is it the other was around); Daddy loved his twins and wasn't playing favorites. They were notoriously bad drivers, and terrified everyone in the capitol city as they sped through the streets driving Paris Style (using only the horn and the gas pedal) and eventually the Manila authorities took both cars away from them and forbade them from driving again.

Why?

Because they couldn't figure out how to arrest the bad driver without also arresting the innocent one in the passenger seat at the same time.

As Yule Brenner said, "it is a puzzlement."  See, siamese twins come full circle!

So for these exotic people all to meet in Marion Ohio, on the roof of our tallest building, - it truly was Kismet.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Best of DHTISH: Of Aunt Nan and Puny Chickens

If you missed it last fall, here's a best of DHTISH favorite.  Enjoy!



My father was the youngest of seven, three boys and four girls. In order of birth there was Miriam, Nan, Maury, Betty, Evelyn, Standford and Marvin. My father and Stanford were twins. My father and all of his brothers and sisters are all gone now, my Aunt Lynn being the last to die in December 2008.

While I loved all of my family, I especially loved my Aunt Nan who spent her days exasperating us to no end. Nan never married, but she was the kooky aunt that every family longs to have. Some of us never have such Aunt; we had Nan, in spades.

It was Nan who stayed never married.  It was Nan who stayed with my grandparents well into their old age and took care of them. It was Nan who played the piano and sang. In her youth she sang and danced in an all girl band named Roxy and Her Sailorettes (see below). She also was a pilot flying Curtis biplanes for vacationers out over Lake Erie back in the late 1920s when people from Cleveland would travel to Wickliffe, Willoughby and Mentor for the lake's beaches which, at the time, were pristine.  My grandmother thought that her exploits were unladylike and Nan found herself grounded, the first of many disappointments in life.

By the time I was born, Nan was almost sixty and the ravages of being a heavy smoker and polio as a child, combined with some other fuzzy physical maladies had left her rather withered.  Still, you couldn't say that she wasn't spunky. She cut quite a striking picture with her red hair under a scarf as she tooled around the neighborhood on Kenyon Road in a yellow and white 1958 Chevrolet Impala Convertible.  But she also was physically old beyond her years and had taken to throwing her one arm - made small from polio - about like scarf.  She would pick it up with her good arm and lay it down.  Sometimes she would pick it up and let it fall.  She milked that arm (which was just fine, just smaller than the other from the disease she had had as a child and had overcome with my grandmothers nursing) for all it was worth. She could play piano one moment and then start behaving like Clara, the invalid from Heidi, the next.  She also would keep a tissue tucked in her bra strap, or up her sleeve - making me think that she had some career as a magician at some point in her life and this was a left over habit from those days.  This was our aunt.

She also proved to be a constant source of eye rolling for her niece and nephews who she loved, and pestered. It was Nan who taught me that if I didn't dry my hands powder dry after washing them that I would grow up to have red lobster claws because my hands would be chapped all of the time. To this day, I cringe every time I see a hot air dryer in a restroom because your hands are never as dry as when you have paper towels, according to Nan. In the back of my mind, I am fearful that I will leave the bathroom with the hands right off of Rosemary's baby. 

In 1995, following my fathers death, I started seeing more of Aunt Nan because we had ligation going against my fathers last wife, a woman who we either called "Shark" or the "Vilda Chaia" ("vil-da CHH-yaha" yiddish for “wild beast) depending on how charitable we felt towards her on any given day. Further endearing herself to us, Nan had also had a run in with the Shark the night before we buried Dad. Shark had called my mother a bitch to the Rabbi, Nan signalled that she had had enough from my father's greiving widow.  "Gey kukken afen yam," she said under her breath to Shark just loud enough for Shark to hear, but not so loud that the Rabbi could hear it.  (The translation being roughly "go shit in the ocean.")  Our diminutive Aunt showed her backbone in one glorious encounter by standing up to Shark and not backing down.

All this contact led to what we in the family refer to as the "puny chicken episode", which began when the family tried to quell her kvetching about the food at the home.

By the 1990, when Nan hit her 80's, she was living in Menorah Park, a senior citizens center serving Cleveland's aging east side Jewish community. She had her own apartment, but she ate with the other residents in the dining room for the company saying "I'll be alone when I die, why not enjoy the company while I'm still around."  After eating, she played Pinochle with her friends. But the food was real the sticking point.

“Honey,” she said to me once “for what we are paying for this we should have something better than what you could find at Mawby's,” which was a greasy spoon down on Cedar Road that had the best burgers in the world.

So the family pulled some strings and Nan would start getting something special to eat. We thought we had the problem solved, however all the better food did was raise suspicions among her neighbors and raise our collective blood pressure. She was still complaining, but mostly now because she had no idea what it was that they were putting in front of her.

“The spaghetti they served me was covered, Honey it was covered in this green stuff ...what did they call it Pistachio Sauce?  No that not it...Stu they called it Presto Sauce or something like that...it must be freeze dried and whip it up quick; PRESTO!”

I explained to her that it was "Pesto" and told her what it was made of. 

"Well," she said, "It was good, but you know, Stu, Honey, you shouldn't serve a woman something thing like that in it...and I'm going to tell you why...because Stu, a lady's smile...a lady's smile, like I have...is the key to a man's heart, and with that Presto Pistachio sauce you end up...there is this this green shmutz on your teeth," she said as she waived her hand around the area in front of her mouth, "and no man likes to look at a woman with spinich on her teeth...it ruins the illusion that we call 'beauty'..." and on and on she went.

A couple weeks into this culinary expiriment, my phone rang. It was my brother and he was vexed.  "Your Aunt called...” and evidently she was not happy with the special attention, and he, having had enough of it, was not enjoying Aunt Nan's special attention of needling him.  So he had decided to momentarily disown "our" Aunt over the matter.

Then the call waiting went off: it was Nan. Ah, Serendipity. “Oh Stuey, your brother is upset with me...”

The long and short of it that Nan had been calling and was concerned about the special attention she was getting. Evidently the other residents were thinking she was too good to eat what they ate, and this was causing the "tsores".

“At cards today Minnie Kipperman was so upset with me that when we were partners, she KNOCKED, instead of making the correct bid!”

And back to my brother, “She calls everyday and all I want to do is fix it, and who the Hell is this Minnie Kipperman?” So I clicked back over to the other line and I told Nan there was the reason for special meals, and I asked her who Minnie Kipperman was.

“Special? Feh! The food they serve isn't fresh - a Holiday Inn would serve this drek. Honey, let me tell you that today they served me this sickly little roasted chicken. In all my years I have never seen such a puny chicken.” On and on she went on with the puny chickens. “In the middle of the Depression your grandmother never served anything like this sickly thing.”  And Kipperman?  "Stu, I don't know if you'll remeber Minnie, but she was good friends with your Aunt Betty's best friend who lived on 147th Street when we were growing up."  My Aunt was correct - I did not know my other aunt's best friend during the 1928-1929 school year because it predates my birth by a good 35 years.

And my brother confirmed that after hearing this he called the management company (he knew the President of the firm) who had arranged for Nan to get a better grade of food for her meals - this meal was a Cornish Game Hen for the main course.

SO over I clicked to my Aunt -, who reminded me that it was impolite to keep two conversations going at once -  and told her that it was Cornish Game Hen, not an underfed run of the mill chicken.  This just set Nan off again.

“Game hen, shame hens! Such puny chickens! Look, Honey, your grandma could feed an army on a chicken and a pot of water.  But this! This sickly thing was so puny that even she couldn't make a cup of soup out of the miserable sickly thing...and what did it do to deserve this fate? Tell the cook that the sky was falling? Ich darf es vi a loch in kop! ”

The only way to fix this, was to break it again.  So we stopped the special meals and Nan went back on the regular diet.  This evidently also pleased one Minnie Kipperman, who went back to making her tricks at cards so who was the worse?  Things went back our version of normal. More importantly Nan went back to being Nan and the rest us found some peace in being used to Nan being Nan.

After Nan died my Uncle sent me her photo albums to scan. Included in which was a secret album of Nan in her youth. Always smiling, always having riotous fun. I'm glad she had those days, I wish I would could have known her then before her dotage. Still have I have my memories of the woman so would sing and dance, and Kvetch like nobody's business.

But in her honor, whenever we have Cornish Game Hens, I complain about the puny chicken before me. “Look at that sickly thing,” I'll say tsking all the while. "Such a puny chicken; you couldn't make a cup of soup out of that!" And its almost, but not quite, but almost like having her back with me again.


Aunt Nan, Singer, hoofer extraordinaire, Front & Center, ca. 1930

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sabbatical Interuptus: Of All the Gall!

Well so much for going to Africa...to forget.

Went to bed last night, feeling simply fine after a simple quiet night at home with the Husband.

At some point I began having this dream where we were travelling in a motorhomes (yes, many motorhomes) and we found ourselves sitting down to dinner with a middle eastern family.  The food was wonderful, and then there was the exchange of gifts, but the more gifts we exchanged the fuller I felt.  Really, uncomfortably full, in fact.

It was at this point that I woke up and found myself in a lot of pain.  I thought I was having a terrific case of indigestion.  So I shuffled to the bathroom, downed a hand full of Mylanta tablets and went back to bed.

This was a mistake, because when I went to rollover to my right hand side the pain increased and the indigestion turned into what I thought was a heart attack.

So, up got the husband, and off we went at 7:30AM to the closest hospital (with a decent ER - which is like a mini hospital itself) and thats when the fun began.

If you have an infected toe, they let you fester in the witing room.  If you think you are having a heart attack, they take you right in.  The EKG came back normal, but my pulse was elevated as the pain increased.  So back I went to a "room" and nurse, in her late 50s, wearing a black uniform came in.  Was this a portend of things to come?

As she jammed the thermometer into my mouth she said "I know what you're thinking, but no. Black uniforms are just cheaper than the bright colors, and don't you think it makes me look slimmer?"  She looked at the thermometer.  "You're going live."  She winked. I love it when you meet someone who possesses that sense of sarcasm and cynicism that builds instant raporte, especially when its your nurse.  Knowing I was in good hands I let her do to me as she wanted.

X-rays were taken - and then retaken as I evidently have very long lung lobes. I was hooked to the heart monitor, blood oxygen sensor to go with the IV shunt I was given earlier.  Blood was drawn and happily the first bit of good news came forth: my heart is strong and the tests all came back normal.  All of this was done in my room as everything is pretty portable.  The doctor came in and he too had a terrific sense of humor, in a quick fashion that I find attractive because stupid people can't pull off that type of skewed look at the world.

So then they thought that it was gastritis from the PF Chang's dinner I had the night before.  So I was given a magic elixir of Maalox and Lidocaine to swallow and left to stew for a about 45 minutes, the pain began to diminish, and then the pain was coming back, this time on right side, under my rib cage.  And coming back with a fury.

So Sue, my nurse asked if anyone in my family have gallbladder problems.  Well, the husband had a terrific bout and she said no, you family history and I said no because to my knowledge my people tend to have heart issues.

So then the doctor ordered an ultra-sound.  The way down the hall on the gurney I went to the ultrasound lab and I told the tech that the Husband would be jealous if I had my gallbladder removed before he got his taken out (the insurance comany refused to pay for it).

So she jellies me up, rubs the wand over me, and says "That man of yours just might be psychic."

Fifteen minutes after that I got the diagnosis: Biliary Colic.  Translated - a gall bladder packed to over full with gallstones, and one in the duct.  And teh gallbladder was all - and I love this medical term - "scrunched up".  I told the doctor that my gall bladder had never bothered me before.  "Well, it is now," said the doctor. Good point.

He said that I could kept over night and I said that I barely knew him. I said that I would rather suffer at home, but we could have dinner at a different date if he was up to it.  So I was given a shot of big boy Motrin, given scripts for more Motrin and Vicodan.  And I was given a script with a surgeon's name who I will call tomorrow.  I would prefer to get this out soon, because its a laproscopic procedure.  But if it gets infected, then they fillet you.  I don't want to be fillet'd.

I did tell him that I have my great grandmother's gall stones in a box from 1922, and that they are HUGE.  "That is both gross and something that is very cool.  But we won't let you have your gallstones if we take them out."  Spoilsport - he probably wants them for his own collection.  (NOTE: See the image below - its my great grandmother's gall stones, circa 1922.  They are amazingly HUGE.)

When we were leaving, I asked the doctor "Can I drive today?" and he said "Could you drive before today?" He's a cheeky little monkey - and thats why I liked him.

SO I am going to live. I am going to work in the morning.  AND I am going back on Sabbatical, damn it!



This is a really very macabre that I have these, and its very cool as well.  Come to our house and you can see them - I keep them in a box in the china cupboard.  Rest assured that I won't make you fondle them, unless you want to.  Keep in mind that great grandmother's gravel is the size of large gall stones in an average person.  Those big suckers up there weigh several ounces.  And all of this came out of a woman who was 5'1" in 1922!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

WIll I never get to Africa...to forget? The Kreativ Blogger Award

So I'm ready for R&R, minding my own business at the Emotional Airport and ready to board to my imaginery airplane to take me to Africa (so that I may forget) and Mr. Peenee deliveries this little cherry:



And now, because I am a good sport, I must obey Mr. Peenee's commands:

1. Thank the person who nominated you for this award.

Dearest Peenee:

I find that I am in a position in which I must - nay, am compelled to thank thee for this splendid Meme Honor, which, while I am loathe to admit it, have secretly coveted.  Consider yourself thanked.  AND consider that being that I have been tagged by thee,  I hereby excercise my claim to R-Fella's father's fabulous red convertible Buick, or at least a ride in it, once "Daddy" passes it on.
Very truely yours,

Cookie

2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.

See above.

3. Link to the person who nominated you for this award.

Human: Touch this link to Mr. Peenee and be at once transported and exposed to such decadence and splendor that it gives Thombeau the cold willies.

4. Name 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting.
 
Well, here goes nothing:
 
1) I am an only child, but I am not the eldest child in my family.  I have two older half brother's, my fathers - and I am my mothers only living child.
 
2) I was once in love with a Republican, and gave of him my body, willingly.  Yes, I admit it, I was deeply, madly and insanely in love with a Republican.  He was stunningly beautiful, and the sex was really fun.  He taught me many things - including how to cook with real butter.  We have remained friends, and sometimes I find it hard to believe that it was 27 years ago that it happened, but greatful that it did.
 
3) I have battled depression for years - since I was a child we now know.  And I don't mean prolonged days of feeling blue.  I mean crushing, clinically diagnosed depression, exacerbated each fall - starting around October 1st by Seasonal Affective Depression (SAD), which begins to lift around February 1st.  When I see those commecrials on TV for SSRI's, I understand exactly who they are talking to, and what they are describing because I live with it, though the medication helps a great deal.
 
4) I play Mah Jong.  There its out in the open.  Not that stupid computer game that everyone thinks is Mah Jong.  We play with real tiles, we roll for wind position.  We Kong, Pung and Chow.  And we go "out-tow" when we make our hand.  We play Chinese style.  That way we can drink and not have to worry if we are violating the Wright Patterson AFB Rules on Mah Jong.
 
5) It is almost 29 years ago - August, 1981 to be exact - that I first saw the man who is my husband and who is my perfect match.  He was walking down the corridor of Patton Hall on the Muskingum College campus where I had enrolled and where he was a Sophomore.  I hated Muskingum from minute one, but he - E - was a bright spot in a terrible place for me to be.  I left Muskingum after only a year and half to moved to Washington DC.  But after 15 years we found each other, and have been insperable since then. We've been together as a couple for 13 years of complete propinquity.  And they have been the happiest years of my life.
 
6) I worked for a first term Congressman in the Washington DC office back in 1983.  Of course I had no idea what I was doing, but I was one his interns back in the days before modern fax machines. 
 
7) I am published author and am listed in the Library of Congress.  I have had books published in 2004, 2006, 2007 (a ghostwriting job that I did for a friend so I just got a mention in the acknowledgements, which I also wrote), 2008 and 2009.  One of books appearred in a recent issue of Time Magazine, in a story about Ohio State University President E. Gordon Gee, with Dr. Gee seated on his sofa - my most recent book is on the coffee table in front of him.  I never said the book was featured; I said it appears in Time Magazine - semantics are everything, you know.  Now go buy a book that I have written.  I earn a whole dollar from each one sold, and the Studebaker Lark needs a new interior.
 
There, that is SEVEN factoids
 
5. Nominate 7 Kreativ Bloggers and post links to the 7 blogs you nominate.
 
Well..
 
1) NormaDesmond at Mitten Drinnen
2) Kevin at The Lisp
3) Joe at JoeGage
4) Baikinange at Schadenfreudian Therapy 
5) Frontier Psychiatrist at Frontier Psychiatry
6) Retromodgirl of Retromodgirl
and...
7) Mr. Peenee because I know he has more to say.


OK, now I am really going to Africa...to forget.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Stepping back from the ledge

Well boys and girls, the news that I have decided to pull the plug on this blog are true, but rather than kill the poor suffering beast as I should, I've decided that a sabatical is in order instead.

Two things happened.  First - this blog really has had a hard time finding itself, and as a result, it hasn't found an audience.  Aside from the small legion of people following it, and the occassion comments about how folks have found it and love it, its never really generated interest from folks, and that is a direct result of my not being able to find its focus.

One thing that I never wanted this to become was a self masturbatory excercise in how great I am, blah blah blah, because that would be boring and that would make me a bore.

But on the other hand I have never wanted this to become some rambling screed from someone bemoaning their lot in life.  Lets face it, we've all had lives - some of them great, others far better than we think they are, but for most of us, its a day to day event just getting through the day.

So instead of killing the beast, I'm going on an extended leave of absence.

I will be back - at least I hope I can make it back if so inclined - on this blog.

In the meantime, you can find me two other places for the immediate future:

Periodically Anachronistic my blog on magazines out of time, and out of my imagination

and

Bad Art Museum of Ohio (launching in February, 2010)

So, for now DHTISH is on sabatical.  Hope to see you soon.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Smokem if you got'em



Set in the exciting world of tobacco farming? I understand that Hollywood made smoking glamorous, but tobacco farming is a bit different than Charles Boyer lighting two, on a match.  And Connie Stevens as a tramp - imagine that!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Millionaire's Row to Skid Row



One of the many great tragedies that has befallen Cleveland is the fate of its Euclid Avenuie - the Victorian Millionaire's Row that once boasted more millionaifre's than New York's Fifth Avenue.

From its inception until Worl War I, Euclid Avenue boasted some of the largest city residences in all of North America.  Nor expense was spared, and the lavishness of the lifestyles of rich and famous was mind boggling.  Remember, before teh Rockefellers discovered New York, they dominated Cleveland.

But the Avenue went into a steep decline in the 1920s and by the 1960s it was simply a place you drove through and hoped you didn't need to stop.

This image is especially sad. 

Taken in 1966 (and purloined from the Cleveland Memory Project's Clay Herrick Slide Collection) this image shows the former colonial revival home Cleveland Attorney Andrew Squire primed for demolition for construction of a lodge hall.  The house - which looks an awful lot like Twelve Oaks after the Yankees got done with it - had spent part of its life as the headquarters of the Cleveland office of the American Red Cross and as a smörgåsbord type restaurant after the Squires moved to the Heights and places on the far east side.  I'm not sure whose stone home was to its west, but I can tell you that when it was built it was gray - the blacking of the stones is the result of 50 years of air pollution on the pourouse stone blocks.

Get a load of those projectors!


I'll say she has contours...and an ill fitting sweater as well!

Monday, January 18, 2010

The memories come flooding back, sorta



This takes me back - but not that far back.

This is the flooding on Lee Road back in 1959 - 1959 was a bad year for weather, and it was YEARS before I was even a zygote in my mothers secret lady place.

What takes me back is the marquee on the old Shaker Theatre!  The theatre was down on Lee Road (which is that part of Shaker that the snooty people just pretend does not exist) and my grandparents lived up on Kenyon Road.  From their driveway you could look down the block and see the Theatre marquee through the trees.  I thought its lettering was really exotic, kind deco, kinda funky.  Evidently the films it was showing by the time I was old enough to remember such thing were mighty exotic too.

Isn't it time you rediscovered Swing Out Sister?





Timeless and never predictible, they always sound fresh. I wish we heard from them more often.

Guess what I got in Toledo, today?



Its not a traffic ticket.

I didn't get a big old kiss, either.

I bought 600 Glass negatives from the late 19th Century.

Guess what I am going to be doing for the next few months?

Scanning the buggers.

Actually they are really sweet, rather artistic.

But then I scanned this odd looking fop you see above.  Who is he kidding?  A polka dot hanky?  The plastered down hair? That shit eating look on his face? Oh Bitch, PLEASE!  But his person is immaculate and in fashion for his day.  Makes you wonder what someone will do a hundred years from now with YOUR picture, doesn't it, my plumpkins.

Will post more fun stuff tomorrow - its back to work I go.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

When you think of processed cheese foods....



...think of one of our cheesiest friends!  Though she may not always be in good taste (but always tastes good), it is to Miss Velveeta Kraft that I award accolades for getting the precisely correct answer on the Mystery Mobile quiz from last Monday as the FRONTENAC, a one year stand alone make of automobile from Ford of Canada Ltd, and sold by Mercury Meteor dealers in the land of Beavers, Brave Men in Red RCMP uniforms and Maple Leaves.

And you just know that the advertising executives were just fit to be tied over what they could say about this heavily masked Ford Falcon to make it appealing so they called it "EVENTFUL", whatever that meant.

The cars are uber rare and have the cache of being single year vehicles.  They are most defiantly conversation starters.  Beware of unscrupulous people who take pieces parts from junked Frontenac's and bolt them onto concurrent Falcons hoping to make a quick mint on a car that would cost you a buck.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Worth repeating: "Your Father Hand This Friend..."

To hear my mother explain it, the reason why we really don’t have that many family photographs comes down to one reason: “you father had this friend, and…” Ask her how the antique loveseat that was an antique got "antiqued", you get the same answer, or a close variant: ”your father had a friend and the friend had this brother in law…”
 My father had a lot of friends, and many of them reputable men in Cleveland’s growing eastside Jewish gentry. They weren’t the problem. To the contrary, Dad had connections and his real friends were generous to a fault. If you needed an Oldsmobile, you bought from Abe Palunis. Wanted a chocolate phosphate? You went to Danny Boudin. If you needed a can of paint you went down to Pekot's Hardware on Buckeye Road. Never mind if it was out of the way, these guys would take care of you. And if dad didn't know you, then we didn't need what you had. He never knew a Pontiac dealer, so we never had a Pontiac.

My dad's friends weren’t the problem.

The problem was that my father knew a lot of other people, and he tried to believe the best in these people, even if he had met them just once. He would sing the praises of these guys based on his belief that they were the greatest people in the world simply because they had a good handshake, or had said hello during a steam bath at the country club. To hear him talk, these folks could have been his long lost best friend from grade school.

Even though he’s been dead a while, I still hear my father raving about the talents of his buddies. “You know Mort! Yes you do. Mort Rivkin...He took the pictures at the Rosenblatt’s daughter in law's parents 50th anniversary. The guy's work should be hanging in the museum with his own gallery…I'm telling you, he's a Master…”

The guy taking the pictures could have been an axe murderer, but because Dad “knew him” meant that he was a "straight shooter", or it meant that the guy was struggling and had cut my father a deal. More often than not, it meant that the guy was one of Dad’s legal clients and he had to be working as a condition of their parole.

The “photographers” were the worst. They usually showed up without their cameras, and father would "just" happened to have my mother’s slide camera in the car “and what do you know, Mister its your lucky day because its loaded with film,” and off the guy would go with some fuzzy instructions.

The pictures were always horrible, the type of horrible that you can’t share with other people who were at the same event because they were caught doing unladylike things like straighting their slips, or things that gentlemen do like scratching the inside of their noses in an attempt to pick it on the sly, but make it look like a drive by scratching instead.

There’s a reason why these pictures weren't flattering: the guys taking the pictures would get crocked. The Jews of my father’s era were notorious for not drinking, because if you get drunk, “someone can make off with your goods.” But because the Jewish gentry of my father’s era wanted to impress people with their middle class "class", formal functions always had an open bar, like your find at an Episcopalian or Presbyterian guys function. Since dad's "friends" were usually not Jews, when offered an open bar, they drank, and they usually drank a great deal, only to stumble about snapping pictures that they insisted were “action shots”.

This how my mother ended up in my eldest brother’s Bar Mitzvah pictures lacking the top of her head, or just had the back of her head captured in a moment of rare rage given off by my father's sister. Or, how a family picture didn’t get shot at another function because the “photographer” was hitting on my dad’s secretary. Or how every picture at my grandparents 50th wedding anniversary was taken with people’s eye lids closed. "Say what you will, but at least the guy was consist ant," my mother would say.

After the events, we waited to see the pictures, which dad would take the film to a photo lab on the west side of Cleveland. Why did my dad drive forty miles out of his way? “Your father knew this guy who had a photo lab," my mother explained. "I used to call him ‘Vlad The Impaler" because he was always in the dark room doing God knows what. He never came to the front counter – like he would melt in the store light. You had to wait for his wife who was Slovenian to come to the counter she and didn’t speak English, and she couldn't spell.”

What pictures we do have from era are either really good (because my mom hired a professional photographer before my dad could find another guy that "he knew") or really bad, and rose colored. The coloring is a testament to my father's thriftiness. Instead of buying the better Kodachrome film, which was stable and recorded magnificent color, my dad would spring for the less expensive Ektachrome, which, when it breaks down over time, turns everything muddy RED. Forty or fifty years after an event, everyone is pink, ladies lipstick has turned brown and nowhere is there anything green or blue. Even with today's imagining technology, its just easier to switch off the color completely and look at the images as black and white because the color correction would take hours.

By the late 1960s my father had a friend who sold him a Polaroid camera. This did nothing to solve the problem of family event pictures. My father would go through pack after pack of film, yet the pictures don't exist. After that point, my mother has a different explanation: “Your father had this Polaroid. Because there were no negatives, there were no reprints. And he would give these pictures away. No original, no picture. Thank your father.”

What follows are some memories from that 1962 Bar Mitzvah, muddy red, and unflattering. Thanks Dad.

I have no idea what got my Aunt's panties in a knot for this picture. But my mother is listening patiently, probably saying something like "Yes, Evie...You're so right Evie...Whatever you say Evie...I don't think he meant that like that Evie..."

Mom takes a Kent break (without the top of her head) while my Aunt Gladys (my mother's side of the family - a Methodist from down on the farm) nurses a glass of water. My Aunt Shirley (father's side of the family) is seated next to her, enjoying a refreshment; go Shirley, GO!"


Again, my mother is missing the top of her head. But its her face that captures the imagination. What could our Rabbi, lower left in the picture, have said to get that look? "Sol Shenkman's got a deal on bris' - two for one! Know anyone with twins?"

The other thing about this image - my mother is touching my father. "We" are not a touchy family. Not huggy at all. No "I love you's." You know you are loved - there is no reason to repeat what is evident. Its just the way it is. So to have proof that my mother is touching my father, even in passing before they started having marriage problems, sends a message that is both poignant, and uncomfortable, for me.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What was Mr. John thinking?



It's a gutsy, gutsy woman who tries that hat in a convertible.

There Goes The Neighborhood


All the old women who lived in a shoe were dubious at best regarding the new high rise down the lane.

Way back in the days before computers...


I hate tha Google has been named the word of the first decade of the 21st Century, but I love the art of Bruce McCall.  If you don't have a copy of his work, go to the library (better yet the bookstore) and buy Zany Afternoons.  You will never regret it.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Oh, Bother.



Why is it some days we just can't get a break?


Case in point.  In the good old days, when you subscribed to a newspaper or magazine, they cut you a break because that was good business and it provided said company with steady cash flow.  Evidently, not anymore. Our subscription to the Columbus Dispatch, the only daily newspaper in town, went from $166 a year in 2009 to - and get this - $337 a year in 2010


And why the astounding increase?  Well, it turns out that we need to pay for the service of having the paper delivered to our home, something that was a valued added has become a bother and an expense to their carriers.  And out of the largese of their hearts, the DPC is cutting its subscribers the average bargain of .08 per day on the news stand cost.


The irony of this is that we received this nugget of "good news" the same day that Mike Harden (a former Dispatch columnist who is now a contract writer in "retirement" awarded the City of Columbus the Golden Whore Award for trying to bilk the citizens of our fair city for enough money to float a bond that would provide important seed capital so Hilton Hotel can build another hotel in Columbus.


Doesn't jacking the price of the newspaper of daily record up so high to a point where your average man on the street can't afford it translate into some type of money grubbing whoring as well?


I understand that traditional media is a dying prospect, and that newspapers are simply giving it away on-line, but why in heavens name would a business do something like this to alienate your faithful readership? 


Well, the story we got was that the paper has gone to an "aggressive" price strategy after looking at its readership and demographics - TRANSLATION: we paid some consultants and exorbitant amount of money to tell us that we need to pick a price point so freaking high that we can afford to loose the cost of home delivery in certain "poor" parts of town where they can't afford to deliver the paper, while keeping it going in other parts that are more affluent.


Remember when "aggressive pricing" meant that they were going to cut you a deal?  That was then, this is now and welcome to the new economy.


We don't read the morning newspaper because it contains news; morning newspapers have always told you a day late what was going on in the world.  We read it because in the morning, you need to do something while the coffee perks, or cereal gets soggy.  If we don't have a paper to read then we'll no excuse for not having pleasant banter in the morning.  We would actually have to talk to one and other.  GOD!, not that! So getting the paper, is for now, a neccesity.


Now I'll have to call them up, explain that there is no way in Hell I'll pay that much on a monthly basis for the newspaper and start the old "retention department" thing.


Oh, bother indeed.

Our Mystery Mobile for January 12, 2010



OK all you gearheads, take a stab at this production automobile.  Name the Make and the Year and who sold it.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

1960 Oddities: Two Cars Weren't What You thought They Were



In 1960, Chrysler and Ford Motor Company introduced two cars that weren't what we've come to think of them as.  Above we have the 1960 Valiant.  Notice that the brochure cover says "a new Chrysler Corporation automobile."  Nowhere does it mention the Plymouth brand name, because the Valiant wasn't a Plymouth, it was a make unto its own for 1960.  Its own make?  Well, Chrysler was going through some stuff in 1959 (not unlike 1979 and 2009 - do we see a pattern?) which involved killing off DeSoto while denying it all the while, an insider CEO scandal and a sales fight that pitted the new Dodge Dart against everything that Plymouth made, when it should have been fighting off Pontiac and Mercury - its traditional role in Autodom's hierarchy. 

What to do with Valiant, Chrysler's compact entry into the 1960 market place?  Well it was originally going to be a DeSoto, but but with that brand on life support (it succumbed in the fall of 1960 as a single model auto line), Valiant had to go someplace else, and Chrysler decided that since Dodge was getting its full sized budget priced Dart line, why not toss a bone to Plymouth.  But Dodge dealers got wind of it and still smarting from the 1958 recession that killed off middle priced car lines, and they cried foul.  So Chrysler - which had already promised Valiant to its Chrysler Plymouth dealerships (and the few Plymouth stand alone dealerships it had) and played a game of semantics on them.  The Valiant was a stand alone make for 1960.  Not a Plymouth - it was a Valiant, period.

While this kept Dodge dealers confused for about five minutes, Chrysler got another bright idea  - they announced that Dodge dealers would get a compact for model year 1961 and named it the Lancer.  Lancer's would be based on the Valiant.  Problem solved, right?  Oh, no - we still have this Valiant issue, they remembered.  Well at some point during 1961 the Valiant quietly sprouted "PLYMOUTH" badging and all was well in the kingdom.  Chrysler executives started work on their next act of self mutilation and planned to hobble Imperial by making it more Chrysler like after spending millions of dollars making it something unique.

For your consideration, we now present...



...the Comet.  Note, on this 1960 brochure cover it is not the Mercury Comet, it just is Comet.  The story on this is that the Comet was designed after the 1960 Ford Falcon was locked down, and the Comet would be an Edsel model.  You remember the Edsel, don't you? It died five minutes after it was rolled out and the final Edsel, a 1960 Ford in disguise met its end in November 1960 - the same month, ironically, that Chrysler killed the DeSoto.

So...what to do with the Comet....what to do....?  With them ready to roll of the assembly line and fast, Ford had a better idea and just let them come off the line as the were - with model line designation, and no "Make", so to speak.  The decision was made that Comet would be sold by Mercury, but it remained its own make for 1960 AND 1961.  Then in 1962 someone must have tapped Henry Ford II on the ass and pointed out that the Comet was an orphan, and with no division taking responsibility for it (or claiming its sales - which were extraordinary) that it was just kinda wallowing.  So Ford waved his cigar and like that Valiant, Comet quietly became a Mercury when they started to badge as such in the fall of 1961.

So remember, if its before 1961 and its a Valiant, its just a Valiant.  If its before the 1962 model year and its a Comet, its just a Comet.

There, you just learned something!  Gold stars for everyone!

One of the great loves of my life...



In my life I have owned a number of cars.  Some great, two that were lemons, and then there were the two that I mourn the passing of.  The all time favorite was a 1977 Plymouth Volare Premire station wagon.  Mine was copper color, with the "stimulated" di-noc wood trim.  I named her Roz and got her my freshman year in college.  She had a Slant Six engine that drank a quart of oil every ten tanks of gas, and the front fenders rusted like no ones business.  But it was a stellar car with smooth performance and every feature known to God and man alike.

I made the mistake of selling Roz to a friend (who wrecked her) and then buying a brand spanking new Subaru station wagon.  Maybe I loved Roz too much, or maybe the Subaru really was a piece of crap.  No, change that, I didn't love Roz enough and that Subaru was a piece of crap.   How does that old saying go?  "Marry in haste; repent in leasure".

I miss my Roz and if I find one, I'm buying it.

Just how...


...does a blonde open a car door after sex?

Which car suits you?



Oh, God, please no - not the Simca!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Subliminal Seduction

My mother, who art in Marion, Mary be her name is a formidable woman of 85 - a fact that I have a hard time comprehending. But truth be told she is great health (after all, 85 is the new 75), mental soundness and progressive thinking.

When she came down for Christmas, she seemed a bit off. First, she didn't do a good job of parallel parking her car (aka Vantasia), and mother is a good parallel parker. But then she said something odd as we were unpacking her car and bringing the goodies into our house.

"I don't like that Barack Obama one bit."

Now this is a huge turn around from last year when she like the President a great deal, and she liked him enough to vote for him. "Well of course I'm going vote for him - besides I hate that trashy woman from Alaska, Sarah Paleface..."

So we got inside, got settled, got a cup of decaf in her hands, and I began to walk around this whole idea about Mother not liking Obama.

"Was it something his wife wore?" I asked.

"Well no," mother ceded, "he's just a Muslim that doesn't celebrate Christmas."

Now hold on here, Hoss. There are things my mother will say and things she'll repeat. And this isn't anything that she would dream of saying on her own. So I asked for further elaboration on this point of nonsense sensing that she's been watching too much Fox News.

"Well, he's in Hawaii and they don't celebrate Christmas," she said.

So I asked her what she thought Hawaiians did on December 24th and 25th, and she thought about it and said "Oh, I guess they celebrate Christmas, but they do other things, too."

I spent the next couple minutes telling her that while they might cook a suckling pig and body surf, that the majority of Hawaiians probably exchanged gifts, and that the likelihood that the Obama's were doing the same was in truth, the most likely activity. But it was the Hawaii part that was getting to her.

"But the President always celebrates Christmas in the White House!" mother stated. Not true, as it turns out. Of the modern Presidents most have spent Christmas at their private homes, or at Camp David, but seldom at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. While the White House is the official residence of the President, the fact is, they like to get away from it at any chance they get.

What about Bush clearing brush at his ranch, I asked. Well, mother doesn't know about W. because she really didn't like him. The Clinton's? Well, mother thinks that they were the Camp David type. By the time we got to the Nixon's and San Clemente, she let loose the notion that President always has to spend Christmas in the White House, and that simply because Barrack and Michelle Obama were in Hawaii, they weren't spending their time throwing virgins into the volcano's to appease some sort of foreign god, as opposed to American God.

With that done, I went to outside re-park Vantasia, and once I got the seat moved to a place where an adult could fit in it, and let the car warm up a bit I heard this murmur of excitable voices, which turned out to be the radio, which is odd because mother listens to 1940s music. She doesn't much go in for modern radio. So I turned up the volume and, low and behold, the murmuring revealed itself to be the Serpent himself.

Turns out that those asinine ideas about the Obama's were the same types of sleaze that Rush Limbaugh calls entertainment because it was Limbaugh himself on the radio. So I parked Vantasia and went back inside and asked my mother when had she become a fan of Rush Limbaugh?

"I can't stand the man," she replied.

"Well you have been listening to him on the radio."

"Oh, was that what was on the radio?" she asked. "I just had it on for the news and must have forgotten to turn it off."

So for Christmas I hope I saved my mother from a fate worse than fruitcake - being further subliminally seduced by Rush into a Limbaugh Zombie.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

CJ does The Jackyl



When the West Wing Started - long before it Jumped the Shark - there was the certain querkiness that made the show great fun to watch because it reminded of the "quirkiness" of politics in DC in general the way it used to be.  When I worked for the "Congressman" as a low level intern, we had a lot fun in the office, and we played hard out of the office as well.

This clip is just one of the moments that I loved about the show, and one of those moments I loved about DC.