Never, Ever, Ever Stopped

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I became a Rolling Stones aficionado at the age of six.  My sister’s record player in the next room rotated at 45 rpm’s as I pretended to sleep.  I knew the words and the tunes to the early songs.  My dolls had concerts in the Barbie fashion house that I got for Christmas.  Great times they were.

When I was in 6th, maybe 7th, possibly 8th grade I watched Gimme Shelter at the YMCA.  Dismissed early from school, I was locked out of the house.  I shrugged and went to the Y with my chums.  They all chatted and did whatever, but I was glued to the grainy figures on the black and white television set.  Wow!  This stuff, even edited for the masses, was unbelievable.  I was in awe.

The first album that I ever purchased was Hot Rocks; bought at Grant’s-uptown; I had the exact change and absolutely nothing more—the sales tax dumbfounded me.  I listened to it for hours on end on my crummy record player which was not manufactured for LP’s.  But when my parents were out—their excellent HiFi straight from Japan was put into service.  The sound was a–mazing.

My brother joined me in my enthusiasm—a good thing because with the exception of a last name, we had absolutely nothing in common. He helped me purchase albums early on, he understood this sales tax nonsense.  As adults the newest creation of any member of the band was waiting for me under the family Christmas tree.  He knew my tastes well.

The Some Girls album came out as I started college.  The album cover was scandalous and the music fabulous.  Every Stone’s song sounded great on the newly installed sound system in the underground campus bar.  The Blushing Brides, a Stones tribute group, played at a function during our senior week.  They weren’t the Stones, but no one cared.

The Stones toured in 1981 while I was about to enter the world of high finance.  I lived in Boston and was unemployed.  There was talk of a free Stones concert at Government Center. I was ready, but Boston wasn’t.  After I landed a job, the Blushing Brides played Boston at the Bradford Ballroom.  I was there—once again.  Not the Rolling Stone’s, but it was the best I could do.

I had some complications in my early adult life—who doesn’t, right?  Anyway, I was, in effect, shattered.  I took solace on my bike and the Rolling Stones played on my Sony Walkman coaching me along my fourteen mile daily ride.  Between Shattered, Just My Imagination and Beast of Burden I could take any curve or hill on the rocky New England coastline.

My daughter was born on a Thursday morning.  Thank goodness for the drive-thru, push and carry, childbirth rules of the time–otherwise I would have missed the All Stones Weekend on VHI.  We had to tape it: our three-under-five had better lungs and demanded more attention than the middle-aged rockers.  But that video tape, as it turns out, is a prize possession.  The Rolling Stones had just released Stripped and VH1 aired a Stripped program.  It followed the Stones from the small European theatre venues to the studio as they recorded the album.  The Stripped video isn’t available anywhere.  And to this day, along with all the new gadgets hooked up to our giant television, is a dual DVD/VHS player—just so we can still enjoy Stripped.

That year, under the Christmas tree the Stripped cassette was awaiting—unwrapped.  My brother had to listen to it before he gave it away.  It was, however, the last new cassette ever added to my collection.  I believe I listened to it so often that my old Sony Walkman, dragged back into service, ate it up and I was unable to spin it back together again.

I moved on and the Rolling Stones followed me when we purchased a CD player.  Strangely enough my first CD purchase was Hot Rocks.   Our stereo is mostly dismantled now.  We had to make room for the new era of entertainment.  Most of my music tends to come from the playlists on my phone–Beast of Burden and Shattered are generally in my top 25.

Something caught my eye this past winter–the Rolling Stones had scheduled a stop in Buffalo.  Buffalo!  I couldn’t believe they were touring in the U.S, let alone so close to home.  I got tickets before they went on sale.  This time no matter what, I was not going to miss the Rolling Stones.

Oh my, deep sigh.  What a concert.  I’d love to write about it, but I wouldn’t be able to conjure up the right words.  It was perfect–they were perfect.

In the fifty-plus years that they have preformed together, I have shed the Barbie dolls, graduated from elementary school, high school, and college; had jobs, lost jobs, started businesses; got married, had kids and they transitioned into adulthood. I have listen to the Rolling Stones on every device and watched them on every medium possible.  Their music is as much a part of my life as almost anything. But, it was when they were live–in person–that I realized what an unbelievable economic feat they had accomplished. The Rolling Stones are definitely Economics Courageous.

And I didn’t even mention all the products they had licensed over the decades!

Much More Than A Paper Moon

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showgirls

It wasn’t the scantily dressed gal sitting in the paper moon–times two–that grabbed me.  Although that, in and of itself, is intriguing.  She could be a show girl from Ziegfeld’s Follies, or Earl Carroll’s Vanities or George White’s Scandals.  Her cardboard sea is quite possibly the stage in the New Amsterdam Theater—when it was still new.  And her costume, as revealing as it is, may have been designed by Erté.

But enough about the photograph—it’s the copyright that brought me to the penny arcade in that Barnum and Bailey world.  And, it’s actually not all that phony…

Ex. Sup. Co. also known as Exhibit Supply Company was a Chicago company that had specialized in arcade machines and obviously photographs.  They even produced a vending machine that sold the photos—direct retail 1920’s style.  From 1900 until 1958 the company manufactured 360 different lines of coin operated machines, including 152 pinball machines, 124 arcade games, 21 trade games, 10 vending machines, 5 slot machines and 1 music machine.

Zoltar from Big. Photo courtsey:1000thingsnyc.com

The Hercules Ball Grip was a strength tester. One could play baseball and win gum with the counter top Batter-up Baseball Gum Vendor. Many fortune games including Color of the Hair, Color of the Eyes, Bouncer Fortune Teller, and Buddah Fortune Teller were manufactured; maybe they were the prototypes for Zoltar in Tom Hank’s Big.

Games of skill of many types–bowling, fishing, basketball, football–were designed and sold.  As was quite possibly the original claw game—Iron Claw Model E.  The juke box was appropriately named Listen to the Music Sweet.

The Model D and the Model E hawked the cards or photographs, which according to the International Arcade Museum included fortune telling, bathing girls, art pictures, autographed movie star portraits, cowboys, movie production stills, popular jokes, comics, and sports legends from the baseball diamond to the boxing ring.

The full list of the machines can be found at the International Arcade Museum.  As for the photographs there is an amazing selection at Image Event.

I nicked a few of the lyrics of It’s Only a Paper Moon in the opening paragraph.  The song was written long after the above photograph’s copyright date. Billy Rose and E.Y. Harburg scripted the lyrics, and Harold Arlen scored the melody in 1933.  It was originally used in a Broadway musical set on Coney Island–naturally–called The Great Magoo. The musical didn’t make history, but the song has been recorded successfully by numerous musicians including Paul Whiteman, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra and my personal favorite Paul McCartney.

Crooners, Robocalls, Hippies & Ghosts

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The Statute of Liberty CourtesyPhotographs in the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

The Statute of Liberty CourtesyPhotographs in the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

If you haven’t learned anything new today, you are not paying attention….” 

I’ve paid attention all month and so far have learned the following:

  • There are ghosts on my street–and they dance! Not really.  Explanation: Sewer grates line the street. On cold nights steam rises out of the sewer, a sight you cannot see with the naked eye.  My car’s headlights bounced off the steam the other night and made it look like ghosts dancing along the street.  I saw it first at the bottom of my hill; it unnerved me, ever so slightly. The second time, mid-hill, I gasped; there was a pattern here!  As I pulled into my drive way, which also has a grate, I put two and two together.  And, astutely realized what was causing this amazing apparition.
  • The cruel acts of terrorists have been a part of my life since I was a little kid watching the 1972 Olympics. Around the same time, I first heard James Taylor sing You Got a Friend. It played on WKBW radio as I snooped around my much older sister’s room. She was a hippy. I found a metal film canister filled with some weird dried weed. I was a kid and assumed it was illegal. I thought for sure she was going to get busted and hauled off to jail. I definitely needed James Taylor’s friendship at that point.  Not sure if that’s really what the French needed from their staunch ally, the US, after 72 hours of terror on the streets of Paris.  They gave us the Statue of Liberty—the quintessential symbol of freedom ̶ and we offer them some old has-been, crooning in our native tongue. Think if the French had sent Maurice Chevalier over after 9/11 and he sang a tune from Gigi-in French!  A little strange–oui?
  • The Do Not Call Registry is total hokum. I took an afternoon off from work to watch movies with my daughter.  The phone rang continually throughout the movie—and none of the numbers were friends or even acquaintances.  I feel badly for the person on the other end, well, if it is a person.  With caller ID does anyone answer the phone anymore?
  • Black ice and my backside are magnetic.
  • There is nothing more pleasing than to be outside in sub-zero temperatures and actually be hot. It takes oodles of layers and plenty of physical activity, but it is definitely well worth the work!
  • I am reading an excellent book Bohemians Bootleggers Flappers and Swells, edited by Graydon Carter. It is a book of essays published in Vanity Fair from 1914 to the  mid-1930’s.  It makes me very happy.  Great years—no television, no instant or constant news, no cell phones.   And the written word was, oh, so well written!
  • There is nothing like tomato soup and grilled cheese together.
  • Trying Frisian Bread again today–with shortening😉

That’s it for now.

Glad Tidings in the U.S. Mail

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Postal Workers Sorting Mail Circa 1920's Courtesy: Library of Congress,  National Photo Company Collection

Postal Workers Sorting Mail Circa 1920’s
Courtesy: Library of Congress,
National Photo Company Collection

If you haven’t learned anything new today, you are not paying attention….” 

I did not even have to pay attention today. I found out that there are good people in the world—despite of—well, everything.  Sometimes the tainted views overwhelm and one wonders what is to become of the world—things seems to be so out of kilter.

And then….

A package arrived addressed to my son.  I knew immediately what it was, because I am, despite of—well, everything—an eternal optimist.  It was his moleskin in which he writes phrases and things—and where he keeps his cards, money and license.  He lost it last week in the heart of Manhattan.

Ford Mail Truck Courtesy:  Library of Congress National Photo Collection

Ford Mail Truck
Courtesy: Library of Congress
National Photo Company Collection

I prayed, because that is what Catholic moms do—constantly.  I think the rest of the family did too.  In any event it was considered gone, but it wasn’t.  It was in a tidy U-line package traveling through the U.S. Mail. Making its way through the wind, the rain, the sleet and the snow to our house.  No return address and strangely, stamps that hadn’t even been cancelled. No indication whatsoever of where the package started its journey.

Anyway what a relief! And to whomever, thank you so much.

If you learned something new today–please let me know!  And thanks for reading.