I post a weekly diary of the historical notes, arts & science items, foreign news (often receiving little notice in the US) and whimsical pieces from the outside world that I featured this past week in "Cheers & Jeers". For example .....
Even the nexus between the world of sport and politics becomes narrower ...
DIRECT DESCENDANTS? - the late baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Jay Hanna ('Dizzy') Dean and former New York governor Elliot Spitzer.
OK, you've been warned - here is this week's
tomfoolery material that I posted.
ART NOTES - an exhibit of African- American art entitled The Soul of a City is at the Brooks Museum Of Art in Memphis, Tennessee through September 2nd.
BOOK NOTES - essayist Robert McCrum describes his 10 best closing lines of novels - from the chilling to the poetic.
TUESDAY's CHILD is Basil the Cat - an English kitteh who alerted his family during the middle of the night night to a potentially fatal gas explosion ... and is a finalist in Britain's annual Hero Cats award, to be presented later this week.
BRAIN TEASER - try the latest Weekly World News Quiz from the BBC.
HAPPY 70th BIRTHDAY to the author and radio personality Garrison Keillor - which merited an In Praise of editorial from the Guardian newspaper.
WEDNESDAY's CHILD is Alfie the Cat - an English kitteh who has been a constant companion to a teenager battling Behcet’s Syndrome (which causes inflammation of blood vessels throughout the body) for the past ten years .... and Alfie is a finalist in the UK's annual Best Friends cat competition.
FILM NOTES - a film about the battle for the Italian hill named Monte Cassino - one of the most bitterly-fought land campaigns of World War II - is being made to coincide with the battle's 70th anniversary.
WOTTA SURPRISE to learn that 30 federal officers in a TSA program at Boston's Logan airport - which is supposed to spot telltale mannerisms of potential terrorists - instead say the operation more often serves-up racial profiling.
ART NOTES - an exhibit entitled Spirit of the West is at the Tucson, Arizona Museum of Art through September 23, 2012.
WITH OVER 2,500 miles of coastline: it's no wonder that fishing is is a leading industry in the South American nation of Chile - but a quota system (set-up to help stocks stabilize following a period of brutal overfishing) expires soon ... and the government has yet to devise a new system that satisfies everyone.
CHEERS to a ban on female genital mutilation in the new constitution of Somalia - a country where 96% of women undergo one of the more extreme forms of the practice - but activists note that translating the law into action will require more than just a legal declaration.
THURSDAY's CHILD is Monster the Cat - an injured Florida kitteh, saved by a Good Samaritan (and who picked-up $5K vet bill, due to his admiration of the woman's disabled veteran husband).
END of an ERA - young viewers tuning-in to "Mad Men" and seeing executives drinking at lunch may be surprised - first after Jimmy Carter ran against the "three-martini-lunch", then about 30 years ago when an insurance firm first banned the practice, which became the norm over the years - but the Economist magazine opines that "the killjoys" are off-base.
CHEERS to the largest summer outdoor party in Europe, the annual Street Parade in Zurich, Switzerland - with a a million party-goers, unfolding over eight hours featuring 28 "lovemobiles" (with skimpily attired celebrants dancing) - and whose slogan this year was in English: "Follow your heart".
SEPARATED at BIRTH - Scott Horton, contributing editor to Harper’s magazine and Senator Al Franken of Minnesota.
YUK for today - concerning the recent death of Helen Gurley Brown - I still remember an episode of "All in the Family" where Edith is contemplating asking Archie about taking a second honeymoon. Someone asked her where she got that great idea from, and she said something like:
"Oh, I got that from a Cosmopolitan article which had 'Ten Ways to Freshen-Up Your Marriage'. Of course, nine of them were a little too fresh for me ....".FRIDAY's CHILD is Page the Cat - who loves her laser toy, lying on the green chairs and seeing the people who come in daily (and might even give her a treat) at the Cazenovia, New York Public Library.
......and finally, for a song of the week ............... a forgotten figure from the early 1960's blues scene in England was Graham Bond - whose own career (beginning in modern jazz and morphing into R&B/blues-rock) paralleled the musical trends of the era. The musicians he utilized became the face of rock music in Britain, while his own career (and life) went into a tailspin ... but who deserves some mention, nearly forty years after his death.
Born in suburban London in 1937, Graham Bond was an adopted child who became an alto saxophonist in the Goudie Charles Quintet in 1960, and then as part of the Don Rendell Quintet. These were modern jazz groups, unlike the trad jazz (i.e, Dixieland) bands then popular in Britain, in the pre-Beatles days. And Graham Bond was voted as Britain's "New Jazz Star" of 1961.
It was a former trad-jazz performer, trombonist Chris Barber who was to help spearhead the change-over in music towards blues and R&B - first, by sponsoring trans-Atlantic passage of such bluesmen as Big Bill Broonzy and Muddy Waters. Then he helped numerous musicians (such as Lonnie Donegan) help garner exposure, further establishing Chris Barber as one of the founding fathers of what later became known as the "British Blues".
At that time, Graham Bond joined the band of someone else in that category: the Paris-born guitarist Alexis Korner - who had been a member of Chris Barber's band a few years back. Together with harmonica player Cyril Davies they ran the group Blues Incorporated - which had such members as drummer Charlie Watts (before he joined the Rolling Stones) and Long John Baldry - and was truly the first British blues band of note (from 1961-1966). When Cyril Davies quit over Korner's decision to add a more jazz-like element to the band, Graham Bond came in on alto saxophone.
In time, they had a rhythm section consisting of bassist Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker. The three jelled together, and by late 1962 they left to form the Graham Bond Quartet. Originally, they had future jazz-rock guitar hero John McLaughlin (Mahavishnu Orchestra, Shakti) and played modern jazz - of which three 1963 tracks survive that were released on the excellent Solid Bond album of 1970.
But McLaughlin left, as the band were beginning to change their music from modern jazz (instrumental, with Jack Bruce on double bass) to blues/R&B - as the British music scene was changing in 1964 after the British Invasion began. First, veteran tenor saxophonist Dick Heckstall-Smith (with more of a jump blues background) replaced John McLaughlin. Then, Jack Bruce switched to electric bass and (having voice training at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music) began to sing some tunes. More importantly: Graham Bond became only secondarily a saxophonist; using a Hammond B-3 and (strategically) changing the band's title to the Graham Bond ORGANisation - along with recording covers of tunes by Ray Charles, Chuck Willis, etc. in addition to the band's original R&B/rock songs. Here is a publicity photo highlighting that change: (L-to-R: Ginger Baker, Dick Heckstall-Smith, Jack Bruce and Graham Bond).
And so Graham Bond - along with John Mayall - became the second wave bandleaders of the British blues. They performed at the burgeoning rock clubs of the day, with Graham's raggedy voice punctuating the band's power. The esteemed journalist/author Chris Welch wondered why the then 21 year-old Bruce wasn't singing more, writing that "Graham's idea of singing was to shout himself hoarse every night". But at 27, Graham was the older and more experienced musician and frontman.
The band had two releases in 1965 with (appropriately enough) The Sound of 65 and There's a Bond Between Us - both making a splash in the UK album charts. In addition, Graham was the first UK musician - and possibly the first rock musician anywhere - to use the new Mellotron - the forerunner to the synthesizer. But alas, the band was unable to garner hit singles - needed in Britain back in those days - even with a somewhat controversial cover of the song Tammy that Debbie Reynolds made famous.
Thus, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker left in early 1966 to form the band Cream - with Graham recruiting a former Unilever accountant named Jon Hiseman to replace Baker on drums. They made some recordings but lost their record contract, at which time Hiseman and Heckstall-Smith went on to a stint in John Mayall's band before forming Colosseum - for several years, one of the most successful jazz-rock bands band on either side of the Atlantic.
Meanwhile, Graham moved to Los Angeles to begin anew: working with Dr. John and recording with session musicians such as Harvey Brooks and Harvey Mandel, ingratiating himself into the Topanga Canyon area and - as biographer Harry Shapiro noted - this should have been a productive time for someone as talented as Graham. Alas, his ego and substance abuse began to enlarge, and he returned to Britain in late 1969.
Upon his return, he met and married an American-born singer Diane Stewart, who shared another of Graham's growing interests: the occult (and Graham Bond eventually came to believe that as an adopted child he was the son of Aleister Crowley). At first, he began accepting sideman roles with his former young charges, post-Cream: on alto saxophone in Ginger Baker's Air Force (in 1970) and as a keyboard player in the Jack Bruce Band (in 1971) where Jack later said he was provoked into assaulting Graham with part of a sink in a Milan theater.
Then he formed his own band Holy Magick, noting his increasing fascination with the occult, but not without some good material (including a re-working of the classic blues Twelve Gates to the City by the Rev. Gary Davis). Yet by 1973 he had become divorced, a substance abuser and without a recording contract: spending some time in a hospital in 1973 after a nervous breakdown. In his excellent biography of Graham entitled The Mighty Shadow - Harry Shapiro speculates that he may even have sexually abused his step-daughter.
Graham Bond committed suicide in May, 1974 by throwing himself in front of a London Underground train at the Finsbury Park station - at the age of only 36. He did leave a solid body of work, as well as his mentoring musicians such as Bruce, Baker and Jon Hiseman. Recently, re-issues of both Sound of 65 and There's a Bond Between Us have been released, along with his two 1970's Magick albums.
And as an instrumentalist: the recently deceased Deep Purple keyboard player Jon Lord stated, "Graham Bond ... taught me, hands on, most of what I know about the Hammond organ".
Of all of his own compositions, his best-known song is one that Jon Hiseman's Colosseum made famous later on, Walking in the Park - that featured Graham's singing and swirling Hammond B-3. And below you can hear the version (from Solid Bond) with Dick Heckstall-Smith of tenor saxophone and Jon Hiseman on drums.
I'm walking in the park
and my feet just can't keep still
You said you loved me last night
and I know you always will
Oh, it's gonna be alright
I'm gonna wait until
I'll hold you 'til the end of time
Friends try to tell us what love is all about
They don't really know
but they said they'd help us out
Oh, it's gonna be alright
And I'm going to shout
I'll love you 'til the end of time