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 .....
OK, you've been warned - here is this week's
tomfoolery material that I posted.
ART NOTES - works by the Medellín-born painter Débora Arango are at the Mint Museum of Art in Charlotte, North Carolina thru June 16th.
HAPPY ST. PATRICK's DAY to all who celebrate it. And good-on-you to the Irish government minister Eamonn Gilmore who has skipped the large Savannah, Georgia St. Patrick's Day festivities ... as he felt he might have to attend an all-male Hibernian Society gathering.
A POSSIBLE MODEL for future foreign aid to the African nation of Burkina Faso - formerly known as Upper Volta - involves Italians teaching the locals not only the recipe for pizza, but also training workers and opening an ancillary carpentry shop.
THE OTHER NIGHT yours truly hosted the Top Comments diary with a look at an early 1960's science fiction show, Space Patrol - and how a long-lost, low-budget series that used marionettes has come back to life.
IN 1959 then Vice-President Nixon was asked if he’d like to see the parties undergo an ideological realignment - which has since taken place - and his response included:
"I think it would be a great tragedy . . . if we had our two major political parties divide on what we would call a conservative-liberal line. I think one of the attributes of our political system has been that we have avoided generally violent swings in Administrations from one extreme to the other. And the reason we have avoided that is that in both parties there has been room for a broad spectrum of opinion. When your Administrations come to power, they will represent the whole people rather than just one segment of the people."ART NOTES - fashions of the 1970's are in the exhibit Punk at the Met - going on display at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art from May 9th - Aug 14th.
STRANGE AS IT MAY SEEM - since WW-II, the United Kingdom has had troops in Germany ... most of the 15,000 will leave by 2016, with the remainder in 2019.
IF YOU ARE FOLLOWING the story of Scott Prouty - the bartender who shot the video of Mitt Romney making his infamous "47%" remarks before a closed, $50k/plate dinner in Florida - then do have a look at the back-story as told by David Corn - who (along with Jimmy Carter's grandson) helped break the story nationwide ..... it's quite telling.
THE RESIGNATION of Pope Benedict was a reason to cheer by many merchants in Italy. That's not only due to the election bringing in tourists, clergy and the media ... but also, John Paul II held many more public ceremonies (and thus more generated more visitors) and finally: JP-II merchandise sold much better than for Benedict. We'll have to see how it works out for Francis.
THURSDAY's CHILD is Vito Vincent the Cat - one of the kittehs involved with a new production of "Breakfast at Tiffany's" on Broadway.
LAST YEAR there was an internal conservative debate about CPAC and sex ... yes, really .... and I highlighted it in a Top Comments diary.
GROANER of the day - the French national railways is instituting a low-cost, no-frills train service with the name Ouigo - yes, as in "Here Oui Go".
TRANSPORTATION NOTES - railway operators for the African nations of Tanzania, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have signed a tripartite agreement to facilitate seamless transportation (both goods and passengers) through each others' railway network, without equipment changes.
FILM NOTES - the director Steven Spielberg is to give life to a screenplay by Stanley Kubrick about Napoleon Bonaparte - which was scrapped by the late film-maker in the 1970s.
500 YEARS AGO tens of thousands of Jews fled Spain because of persecution. Now their descendants are being invited to return - with a fast-track to a Spanish passport and citizenship.
BRAIN TEASER - try this Quiz of the Week's News from the BBC.
FRIDAY's CHILD is Angel the Cat - an upstate New York kitteh missing for six months ..... who was found when a woman first tried using fliers .... and then turned to Facebook.
.......... and finally, for a song of the week ........considering that (a) their days as hitmakers passed several decades ago, (b) their manager sold the rights to their early albums for a fraction of what they would later be worth, (c) have had a revolving door with personnel, in part because (d) at least six bandmembers have died prematurely: this year, Canned Heat will celebrate its 48th anniversary as a blues band. If nothing else: you gotta admire the tenacity of its drummer/bandleader in carrying on.
They began in Los Angeles in 1965 as a group of vintage blues album collectors; most notably the heavy-set lead singer Bob 'The Bear' Hite and the painfully-shy, clinically depressed (yet phenomenally-talented) Alan Wilson on guitar/harmonica. Even their name came from their work: the 1928 Tommy Johnson tune "Canned Heat Blues" referred to a nickname for Sterno.
After early personnel changes, the band appeared at the 1967 Monterey Pop festival, and released its 1967 debut album with lead guitarist Henry Vestine as well as Larry Taylor on bass. After the first album, drummer Frank Cook was replaced on drums by Mexico City native Adolfo de la Parra - known as Fito - with Cook later joining Pacific Gas & Electric.
And that lineup of Hite, Wilson, de la Parra, Taylor ... and with either Henry Vestine or Harvey Mandel on guitar ... became the classic lineup for the rest of the 1960's and early 1970's. The band also featured performances with blues legend John Lee Hooker (on the subsequent Hooker 'n Heat album).
They began with spirited covers of blues classics like "Bullfrog Blues" and Rollin' & Tumblin ... as the band's own early compositions were fairly derivative: On the Road Again which borrowed from bluesman Floyd Jones, plus Going Up the Country from a 1920's Henry Thomas song, and Bob Hite's Amphetamine Annie - an early example of an anti-drug song - was deeply inspired by Albert King.
The band achieved success in their first early albums, and were stars at the Woodstock Festival forty-four years ago this summer. But in a sign of things to come: guitarist Vestine and bassist Taylor had some notable rows; one causing Vestine to leave the band just before Woodstock - with Harvey Mandel replacing him for just over a year.
My favorite album of theirs followed: Future Blues - with unusually tight versions of more original songs the band would stretch out live - as well as a strong ecological message from Alan Wilson. This proved to be the classic lineup's high-water-mark.
Within a year, the troubled Alan Wilson was dead (at age 27) from an overdose of barbiturates (unclear if an accident or a suicide) and Larry Taylor (along with Harvey Mandel) left to join John Mayall's band. With Taylor's departure, Henry Vestine returned along with newcomers Joel Scott Hill and bassist Antonio de la Barreda. This marked the end of the "classic" lineup, and the band was to come upon hard times - including having to sell their album rights to settle a huge amount of debt.
One break the band had, according to drummer Fito de la Parra in his excellent book Living the Blues which had a third printing in 2009 - management scheduled an Australian tour when they could have earned more (and incurred far less cost) staying in the US. But it endeared the band to Australian audiences at a time when not many top US bands played there - and they tided the band over during some lean times.
And there were to be some lean times, as numerous personnel changes began to take hold. Lead singer Bob (The Bear) Hite died in 1981 of a heart attack, and guitarist Henry Vestine died in 1997 of respiratory failure. Over the years, other members (such as Joel Scott Hill, Robert Lucas and Antonio de la Barreda) have also died, leaving a touch of melancholy. But drummer de la Parra has kept the band alive all of these years, and with a song like "Harley-Davidson Blues", the band has a big following at biker conventions, and music festivals in general.
Pictured (below-left) is the classic line-up of Taylor, Vestine, Hite, Wilson and de la Parra. The band's current lineup (besides long-time drummer de la Parra) includes guitarist Dale Spalding .... and the two remaining classic line-up members still alive: bassist Larry Taylor and guitarist Harvey Mandel (photo right are Taylor, de la Parra, Mandel and Spalding). Yes, both Taylor and Mandel re-joined in 2010 after a long absence from the band, and so 3/4 of the current band performed at Woodstock. "Don't forget to boogie!" has long been the band's motto - after nearly forty-eight years, they've lived up to it.
My favorite song of theirs was a cover version of the Wilbert Harrison song Let's Work Together from their 1970 "Future Blues" album. This performance has the current Mandel-Taylor/de la Parra line-up ... plus the late Alan Wilson on slide guitar and vocalist Bob Hite. And below you can listen to it.
Together we stand
Divided we fall
Come on now people, let's
get on the ball
Make someone happy
Make someone smile
Let's all work together and
make life worthwhile
Let's work together
Come on, come on,
let's work together
You know together we will stand
every boy, girl, woman and man