Sunday, August 31, 2008

KV Chatter: Dave's Grocery On Monroe Street


Above the site of Bruno's Parking Lot, 31-35 Monroe Street. The beautiful Nancy Gentile lived at 37.
from Joe
I KNEW DAVE WEISBAUM WELL FROM DAVE'S GROCERY. HE TOOK A PARTNER FROM ITALY NAMED ENZIO IN THE EARLY 70'S. I WAS IN DAVE'S EVERY DAY, SOMETIMES 2 AND 3 TIMES A DAY. IN FACT, I DID ALL MY SHOPPING THERE. DAVE SOLD EVERYTHING BUT THE KITCHEN SINK, AND HE WOULD GET YOU THE KITCHEN SINK IF YOU ASKED. AND HE DELIVERED. I LEARNED MORE ABOUT BUSINESS FROM DAVE IN A DAY THEN I COULD LEARN FROM SOMEONE ELSE IN A YEAR. I WAS ONLY 21 WHEN I TOOK OVER THE LOT. I WAS SO GREEN, DAVE TOOK ME UNDER HIS WING.

from Son Of Seth
Which store was Dave's? The one on the north side of Monroe - same side as Pete's but closer to Market than Catherine? Who remembers the name of the little deli (not Jewish) a few doors away (closer to Cherry) than the pizza shop on Catherine? I used to get a bologna sandwich there - he'd put on about two-thirds of pound of meat and everytime I started eating it I'd think I wasn't going to be able to finish it. And I was wrong every time. It was like having a whole pack of franks mashed up and then sliced thin and stuffed into a hero bread. That's really what it was like. And he must have used about a half a jar of mustard. But must we talk about the mustard? It actually was worth talking about. Golden and vinegary with silvery notes of oregano and an oaky finish. Loved that mustard. I often would dip a handkerchief in his mustard and then to refresh myself on a humid summer day I'd glop a couple of tablespoons of that mustard all over my face - kind of like a mustard plaster - and after the burning stopped there was a wonderful cooling effect. It's hard to describe if you haven't experienced it so, if possible, give it a shot and we'll talk later.

from Bob
Yes, Dave's was down across from the A-F court next to the parking lot. Marty, I have visions of you slathering mustard on your baseball glove and eating it before and after games. When we won, Harry would buy us ice cream, but you always declined, preferring your mustard-covered glove. Was it the over indulging on mustard that widened the gap?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Battlin' Joe Bruno Of KV



Commentary from Joe:
THE PICTURE OFF ALI AND ME SPARRING TOOK PLACE AT THE DOWNTOWN ATHLETIC CLUB AT 19 WEST STREET IN 1984. THE DAC WAS THE HOME OF THE HEISMAN TROPHY SINCE JAY BERWANGER WON THE FIRST HEISMAN IN THE LATE 1930'S. THE STRUCTURE OF THE 40 STORY BUILDING WAS DAMAGED ON 9/11 2001, AND HAS NOT REOPENED SINCE.
THE OTHER PICTURE IS ME, AS VP OF THE BOXING WRITER'S ASSOCIATION, PRESENTING MARVIN HAGLER WITH THE 1985 BOXING WRITERS FIGHTER OF THE YEAR AWARD. THE DINNER TOOK PLACE AT THE BALLROOM OF THE VISTA HOTEL IN THE WORLD TRADE CENTER.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Some KV Sons' Of Italy


from left to right:
JOHNNY MOTTS (John Martinucci), JOE BRUNO AND RONNIE LORENZO, WHO CAME FROM GRAND STREET, NEAR THE FDR DRIVE. THEY ALL SANG TOGETHER IN THE 60'S.

Who's Who In Knickerbocker Village History: The Palumbo's

Again, according to my KV Italian history source Joe Bruno:
ANOTHER KV RESIDENT WAS BOBBY PALUMBO, WHO WAS THE HEAD OF THE OFFTRACK BETTING ASSOCIATION FOR MANY YEARS.
I can't find a pic of Bobby (Robert) Palumbo, but I did for his actor son John. From John's biography:
John Palumbo was born and raised in New York City. He played High School basketball at LaSalle Academy and was awarded a basketball scholarship at Salem State College in Salem, Mass. From 1986-89, John proudly served as Ball Boy for the New York Knicks. In the mid 1990s, John studied at the famed Lee Strasberg School of Acting.

from 2007
John Palumbo, an actor best known for his recurring role as Don Zanghi on "Oz," was a Knicks ballboy from 1987-89. But although he is a Knicks fan who played basketball at Salem State College under Jim Todd, his favorite memory is of Larry Bird. Before a Knicks-Celtics game at the Garden, Palumbo took on Bird in a game of "HORSE." The southpaw was holding his own, making a variety of left-handed shots, before a fellow ballboy told Bird his secret. "[Bird] went to halfcourt and sank a right-handed hook shot, then hit a one-handed shot from his knees from the top of the key, then sat down on one of the chairs at the bench and hit a one-hander right handed. He buried me," Palumbo told our Justin Terranova. "It was a real thrill. He gave me his practice jersey and sneakers." Palumbo, the 37-year-old son of former OTB president Robert Palumbo, will be on Tuesday's episode of "Law & Order: SVU." He'll play the role of Luccio Ricci, a mobster's son being investigated by detectives played by Christopher Meloni and Mariska Hargitay.

Demensions' Update


An anonymous commentator on a previous post said I had the wrong pic for John Martinucci. Here's an update from the Demensions' site

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Steven Randazzo: Shrinks

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The trailer from the 2007 award winning short film by Gregg Brown
Five Shrinks;
One neurotic patient;
A modern comedy about mental health.

Steven Randazzo: The Method

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The trailer for the much heralded short film, The Method

Who's Who In Knickerbocker Village History: Steven Randazzo

from Joe Bruno:
STEVEN RANDAZZO LIVED IN KNICKERBOCKER VILLAGE. A SINGER AND ACTOR, HE HAS APPEARED IN OVER 50 MOVIES, INCLUDING MIGHTY APHRODITE (HE WAS WOODY ALLEN'S BEST FRIEND), AND THE AWAKENING WITH ROBERT DENIRO AND ROBIN WILLIAMS.

from Steve Randazzo's bio for the film, The Method Movie
Although I have studied in three different Acting Schools - Henry Street Settlement Playhouse, Warren Robertson, and Robert X Modica - my favorite, and most challenging acting school was the school of the streets of New York’s Lower East Side.
There you learned real quick, with no time for bullshit. Either act like the character then and there, or pay the consequences. I have been in about 38 films in my 20 years as an actor. I have gone from Spike Lee, Steve Zallian, Woody Allen, and (most recently) the master, Sidney Lumet in FIND ME GUILTY, to shooting a film in the back of some stranger’s yard in New Jersey for car fare and a salami Sandwich.
I love to act. I have also done some stand up comedy, only to find myself sitting at the end of the night, head in my hands, depressed. I’ve enjoyed being in all of the Law & Order shows, The Sopranos, numerous commercials, and a handful of plays. I’d love to do more theatre. When I make someone laugh, I feel most alive.

The Original Demensions: 1961

video
from wikipedia:
The Demensions are an American doo wop group from Brooklyn, New York. Over the years, there have been a number of lineup changes. The group that sung on most of their earlier recordings includes Lenny Dell, Phil Del Giudice, Howie Margolin, and Marisa Martelli. At the height of their popularity in the early 1960s, The Demensions played often in Palisades Park, New Jersey, as well as on American Bandstand and The Clay Cole Show. They first scored radio airplay as a result of Cousin Brucie, a disc jockey at New York radio station WINS, who began spinning their version of "Over the Rainbow". The song became a hit, peaking at #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1960. Their only other chart hit was 1962's "My Foolish Heart", which peaked at #95 early in 1963.

Johnny Martinucci And The Demensions

video
from a 1993 performance, joining John are Lenny Del, Tom Clemente, Ron Scauri, and Sonya Parthe.
from Joe Bruno:
Johnny Martinucci (JOHNNY MOTTS), WHO LIVED AT 32 MONROE, HAS BEEN A PROFESSIONAL DOO WOP LEAD SINGER FOR OVER 40 YEARS. HE IS PRESENTLY THE LEAD SINGER OF THE DEMENSIONS (SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW, MY FOOLING HEART, ZING WENT THE STRINGS OF MY HEART). IN THE DEMENSIONS 1996 ALBUM JOHNNY MOTTS SINGS MY PRAYER AND UNCHAINED MELODY, TWO OF THE HARDEST SONGS TO SING. BOTH SONGS WERE PRODUCED BY THE UNEQUALED LEAD SINGER JOHNNY MAESTRO (THE CRESTS, BROOKLYN BRIDGE.) ALSO FROM THE LOWER EAST SIDE. I'M NOT SURE JOHNNY MAESTRO LIVED IN KV, BUT HIS YOUNGER BROTHER PEE WEE LIVED AT 16 MONROE IN THE 70'S.

Who's Who In Knickerbocker Village History: Joe Bruno

Joe lived in Knickerbocker from 1963-1996 and owned Bruno's parking lot on 31-35 Monroe Street from 1969-1996. He now resides in Sarasota, Florida. Joe's Amazon bio:
A Vietnam veteran with the Navy, Joe Bruno started out in the newspaper business in the mid 1970's as a sports columnist for the New York Tribune. During the same period, Bruno was associate editor for Boxing Illustrated and monthly contributor to Ring Magazine. In 1986, Bruno moved his sports columns to the Times Herald Record in Middletown, New York. His articles have also appeared in Penthouse Magazine, Boxing Today, Boxing World, International Boxing Digest, Referee Magazine and Inside Boxing. His peers elected Bruno vice president of the Boxing Writers of America from 1982-86, and vice president of the International Boxing Writers from 1980-89. In 1986, Bruno received an award for Excellence in Boxing Journalism from Ring#8, and in 1987 the Best Boxing Writer Award from the American Association For the Improvement of Boxing. From 1997-98 Bruno was sports director and on-air radio personality for WQSA 1220 in Sarasota, Florida. At present, Bruno's articles also appear at cyberboxingzone, TravelGolf.com, Zooba.com and Boxing World Magazine.

from an Amazon reviewer of his book, Angel Of Death:
By Jean Kilgallen (New York, NY (USA))
I know Mr. Bruno's writings from his boxing columns .... His boxing columns are always caustic and quite funny. In Angel of Death, Mr. Bruno writes about a serial killer loose in New York City. This killer is unique in the fact that the victims are all drug dealers. Bill Kelly, the detective in charge of finding the killer, has a daughter who's a drug addict and the implication here is that Detective Kelly may not try too hard to find the killer after all. That is, if Kelly isn't the killer serial himself. The brilliant cast of characters range from Kelly's mentor, Catholic priest Father O'Brien, a crusty old coot for sure, to NY City Police Commissioner Abraham Williams, a man obsessed with becoming the next mayor. The bad guy drug dealers may be the most interesting characters in the book. They including Willie Boy Walker, a stone killer from the island of Jamaica, to Lily Tang, a bisexual Asian beauty with a heart of stone. I highly recommend this book to mystery lovers, and the laughs Mr. Bruno injects throughout the book in no way takes away from the horror and the suspense.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Samuel Ornitz 3

again from Sanford Sternlicht's Tenement Saga
Read this document on Scribd: ornitz-book

Harry Roskolenko

from Sanford Sternlicht's Tenement Saga
Read this document on Scribd: rosholenko

Who's Almost Who In Knickerbcker Village History: Harry Roskolenko

Harry Roskolenko was the thirteenth of the fourteen children of Barnett and Sara Roskolenko who migrated from the Ukraine to New York City. Growing up amid the poverty of the Lower East Side, Roskolenko was working in a factory at nine and ran away from home at thirteen. He traveled extensively in the Merchant Marine from 1920-1927. By the 1930s he was back in New York, a self-educated poet and Trotskyite. Harry authored a biography entitled, When I Was Last On Cherry Street in 1965

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Wee Gee 6

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more images I had archived on weegee. Audio is a 1939 recording of Claude Thornhill's Sunrise Serenade
Weegee could actually qualify for the who's almost who distinction. In 1910 he was living at 52 Pitt Street (near Delancey). He could have gone to either PS 110, PS 34, PS 22 or PS 97.

Wee Gee 5

video
a presentation about Weegee that I found on youtube

Wee Gee 4

video
the audio is from a 1945 interview done with weegee. It was broadcast on NPR on 6/11/2000
As a part of NPR's American Talkers series, we broadcast an interview from 1945 with legendary photographer Arthur Fellig, better-known as Weegee . Weegee's night-time pictures of fires, suicides, coffee shops and kids sleeping on fire escapes chronicled the underside of New York City in the 1930s, 40s and 50s. This interview ran shortly after the publication of his first book of photographs, Naked City.

Wee Gee 3

Read this document on Scribd: weegee2

Wee Gee 2

Read this document on Scribd: weegee

Wee Gee 1

video
Through Weegee’s Lens, By NIKO KOPPEL, April 27, 2008
BACK in the 1970s, a gutsy blonde named Jill Freedman armed with a battered Leica M4 and an eye for the offbeat trained her lens on the spirited characters and gritty sidewalks of a now-extinct city.
Influenced by the Modernist documentarian André Kertész, with references to the hard-edged, black-and-white works of Weegee and Diane Arbus, this self-taught photographer captured raw and intimate images, and transformed urban scenes into theatrical dramas.
Her New York was a blemished and fallen apple strewn with piles of garbage. Prostitutes and bag ladies walked the streets, junkies staked out abandoned tenements, and children played in vacant lots.
“The city falling apart,” Ms. Freedman said one day recently in recalling that era. “It was great. I used to love to throw the camera over my shoulder and hit the street.”
For reasons involving both changing photographic styles and her personal circumstances, Ms. Freedman faded from the scene in the late 1980s. But at a moment when much of the city is bathed in money and glamour, her work offers a vivid portrait of a metropolis defined by violence, poverty and disarray — a New York that once was.
At 68, Ms. Freedman is a petite, wiry-framed woman with the piercing blue eyes and the feisty, outspoken manner of her youth. Never married and with no children, she has been living since November in a one-bedroom walk-up in Harlem near Morningside Park, outfitted with worn furniture collected over a lifetime. Her companions are two stray cats, Lulu and Pooch.
Though none of her work hangs on the walls, many of her black-and-white photographs from more than 30 years ago are protected in thick portfolios, which she keeps in a shopping bag.
The albums contain many of her most memorable images, among them “Smoke Eaters,” showing firefighters at work taking a cigarette break; “Nympho Circus,” in which children bundled in winter coats pose in front of the marquee of a porn theater in Midtown; and “Love Kills,” depicting a young couple leaning against a metal grating in the flower district, the emblem of a gun on the man’s shirt aimed menacingly at his girlfriend’s head.
In many respects, Ms. Freedman has an impressive résumé. She is the author of seven books of photography, including “Firehouse,” “Circus Days” and “Street Cops.” Her pictures are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the International Center of Photography. Her series “Resurrection City,” documenting life in the shantytown erected in 1968 on the Washington Mall, is on view through May 24 at Higher Pictures, a gallery on Madison Avenue near 66th Street.
Despite praise from critics, however, Ms. Freedman’s career as a photojournalist never fulfilled its early promise. “Her work influenced a lot of people,” said Andy Grundberg, chairman of photography at the Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington. But he added that “her style really fell out of fashion” as people grew less interested in her brand of documentary photography, in which an emotional connection with the subject is valued as much as the photograph.
Compounding her eclipse was that Ms. Freedman had more or less become one of her own hardscrabble subjects. Starting in the late ’80s, and over the next two decades, she struggled with financial and health problems.
“I was really depressed,” she said over lunch the other day at a Midtown cafe, as she nervously fidgeted with her hands. “I used to say, ‘All I need is one good thing to happen.’ ”
Born in Pittsburgh, the only child of a traveling salesman and a nurse, Ms. Freedman came to New York in 1964 and held various temp jobs before going to work as an advertising copywriter. She discovered photography while experimenting with a friend’s camera.
“I realized I had been taking pictures in my head all along,” Ms. Freedman said. She found a $150-a-month apartment above the Sullivan Street Playhouse, where she built a darkroom and stayed for 24 years.
One day in the spring of 1968, she came upon a man in Central Park wearing overalls and sitting on a mule. He urged her to join the protest encampment called Resurrection City.
“Oh, man, whatever this is, I’ve got to be there,” she recalled thinking. Quitting her job, she lived for six weeks in the plywood community, immersing herself in her subjects. Six of her pictures were published in Life magazine, a breakthrough that brought her confidence and recognition.
Back in New York, she lived for a time in a beat-up white Volkswagen bus, following the Clyde Beatty-Cole Brothers Circus as it traveled from upstate New York to Cincinnati, and producing images straight out of a Fellini film. She later trained her camera on the players in the ’70s art scene, capturing its decadence with a gimlet eye as she photographed happenings in SoHo, and Andy Warhol and Deborah Harry at Studio 54.
In 1975, Ms. Freedman began photographing firefighters in combustible neighborhoods like Harlem and the South Bronx. In an image titled “Brother Firemen,” two soot-covered firefighters, relieved to have survived a five-alarm fire, kiss.
She then turned her attention to police officers working in the Ninth Precinct in Alphabet City and Midtown South, which covered the raunchy blocks around Times Square.
“There are days I walk down the street feeling its ugliness on my skin like a sunburn,” Ms. Freedman wrote of those times in an unpublished manuscript, “other days when I can hardly catch my breath for the beauty of it.”
Her downward spiral began in 1988, when she was found to have breast cancer. Without medical insurance or a regular income, she had to give up her apartment on Sullivan Street. She was successfully treated, but with no strong family ties — her father died when she was 18, and her relationship with her elderly mother was distant — she disengaged from the New York photography world and moved to Miami Beach in 1991.
“I found that I lost my passion,” she said. “I thought, ‘I’ve got to get away from this place because if I lose this, then I’ve lost it all.’ ”
Those were difficult years.
“She did have a lot of bad luck,” said Ann-Marie Richard, a friend of Ms. Freedman’s who at one point exhibited her work at a Williamsburg gallery. “She shielded herself with the camera. I think there are a lot of puzzle pieces that we just don’t know.”
Five years ago, Mr. Freedman returned to the city, homesick for what she described as “the smart talking and corned beef.” She barely recognized the place.
“When I saw that they had turned 42nd Street into Disneyland,” she said, “I just stood there and wept.”
For a time, she shuttled between the apartments of friends, while her archive of negatives and original prints and equipment including vintage cameras and enlargers languished in two storage lockers in Bushwick, Brooklyn.
She was reunited with her belongings last fall when she moved into her current, rent-stabilized apartment. Dozens of framed photographs enclosed in bubble wrap and portfolio boxes sit on metal shelves in her living room. “I have all my junk,” Ms. Freedman said as she surveyed her cluttered space. “I’m swinging.”
And by the look of things, she is ready to return to shooting. An oak dresser that doubles as a nightstand holds her negatives. In its drawers, preserved in glassine envelopes, are thousands of images: of a bewildered man dressed like a carrot, of youngsters joy-riding on the back of a bus, of a brawny firefighter playing Santa Claus, of men dressed like women wandering around in the dark.
And presumably much more is out there to be captured by her Leica. “I’d like to find what’s left,” Ms. Freedman said.

1953 South Street Fire

a relative of Jimmy Durante?

Not a photo of the fire above, but a 1937 photo of a South Street fire by the famous photographer Arthur Fellig, aka Weegee

Friday, August 22, 2008

John McCain's Version Of The House I Live In

video
The images of John and Cindy's homes (all 7) come from a guardian article
Evidently his version of the House I Live In doesn't quite jive with the original's message.
The song "The House I Live In" was a patriotic favorite of World War II. The melody was written by Earl Robinson, a famous leftist composer who was blacklisted in the 50's. The lyricist was Lewis Allen, whose real name was Abel Meeropol, the same Meeropol who became the adopted father of the Ethel and Julius Rosenberg's boys, Michael and Robert. Abel Meeropol wrote the song. "Strange Fruit," made popular by Billie Holiday.
What is america to me
A name, a map, or a flag I see
A certain word, democracy
What is america to me
The house I live in
A plot of earth, a street
The grocer and the butcher
Or the people that I meet
The children in the playground
The faces that I see
All races and religions
That's america to me
The place I work in
The worker by my side
The little town the city
Where my people lived and died
The howdy and the handshake
The air a feeling free
And the right to speak your mind out
That's america to me
The things I see about me
The big things and the small
That little corner newsstand
Or the house a mile tall
The wedding and the churchyard
The laughter and the tears
And the dream that's been a growing
For more than two hundred years
The town I live in
The street, the house, the room
The pavement of the city
Or the garden all in bloom
The church the school the clubhouse
The millions lights I see
But especially the people
- yes especially the people
That's america to me

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Barack's KV VP Choice


Barack fools everyone and chooses to double the capacity of his vice presidential office by tapping the KV Twins as his running mates on the eve of their birthdays. (well almost)

Monday, August 18, 2008

And Now For Something Completely Different

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Ok, I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm an immature rick roll addict. Who's up for a Rick Roll at the next reunion in Tanahey Park?
We’re no strangers to love,
You know the rules and so do I.
A full commitment’s what I’m thinking of,
You wouldn't get this from any other guy.
I just wanna tell you how I’m feeling,
Gotta make you understand…
Never gonna give you up,
Never gonna let you down,
Never gonna run around and desert you.
Never gonna make you cry,
Never gonna say goodbye,
Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you.
We’ve known each other for so long
Your heart’s been aching
But you’re too shy to say it.
Inside we both know what’s been going on,
We know the game and we’re gonna play it.
Annnnnd if you ask me how I’m feeling,
Don’t tell me you’re too blind to see…
Never gonna give you up,
Never gonna let you down,
Never gonna run around and desert you.
Never gonna make you cry,
Never gonna say goodbye,
Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you.
Never gonna give you up,
Never gonna let you down,
Never gonna run around and desert you.
Never gonna make you cry,
Never gonna say goodbye,
Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you.
Give you up. give you up.
Give you up, give you up.
Never gonna give
Never gonna give, give you up.
Never gonna give
Never gonna give, give you up.
We’ve known each other for so long
Your heart’s been aching
But you’re too shy to say it.
Inside we both know what’s been going on,
We know the game and we’re gonna play it.
I just wanna tell you how I’m feeling,
Gotta make you understand…
Never gonna give you up,
Never gonna let you down,
Never gonna run around and desert you.
Never gonna make you cry,
Never gonna say goodbye,
Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you.
Never gonna give you up,
Never gonna let you down,
Never gonna run around and desert you.
Never gonna make you cry,
Never gonna say goodbye,
Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you.
Never gonna give you up,
Never gonna let you down,
Never gonna run around and desert you.
Never gonna make you cry,
Never gonna say goodbye,
Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you.

Samuel Ornitz 2


A group of the Hollywood 10. Orntz is in the inset and on the left in the group.
from wikipedia:
One of "The Hollywood 10" - ten actors, writers and directors who appeared before the House UnAmerican Activities Committee in 1947 and refused to divulge whether or not they were, or had ever been, members of the Communist Party and if they knew others in the entertainment industry who were. The purpose of the hearings was to examine the possible infiltration of Communists into the industry. The fervor that the hearings created so shook up Hollywood that whoever did not comply with the Committee was blacklisted from working in Hollywood. The ten - Ornitz, John Howard Lawson, Alvah Bessie, Dalton Trumbo, Lester Cole, Albert Maltz, Herbert Biberman, Adrian Scott, Ring Lardner, Jr. and Edward Dmytryk - were sent to various federal prisons in 1950 for contempt of Congress. Ornitz was released 9 months into his sentence for good behavior and was among many people to initiate a series of lawsuits to overturn the blacklisting policy, but was unsuccessful. He wrote the novel "Haunch, Paunch and Jowl" in 1926, which dealt with various aspects of life in New York's Lower East Side, circa 1910. He had a brief career as a social worker before moving to Hollywood in 1928, where he wrote movie scripts until 1944. His last recorded work, before the blacklist, was an adaptation of the film "Circumstantial Evidence" for Twentieth Century Fox in 1944. His screenwriting credits include, among others, "Men of America," "Secrets of the French Police," "Hell's Highway," "One Man's Journey," "The Richest Man in the World," "Three Kids and a Queen," "Mark of the Vampire," and "Follow Your Heart," among many others. Ornitz, along with Lester Cole and John Howard Lawson, founded the Screen Actors Guild. He published the book "Bride of the Sabbath" in 1951, which dealt with first and second generation American Jews and was well received by critics.
1. China's Little Devils (1945) (writer) (as Sam Ornitz)
2. Circumstantial Evidence (1945) (adaptation)
3. They Live in Fear (1944) (writer) (as Sam Ornitz)
4. Three Faces West (1940) (original screenplay)
... aka The Refugee (UK)
5. Miracle on Main Street (1939) (writer)
6. Milagro de la calle mayor, El (1939) (story)
7. Little Orphan Annie (1938) (screenplay) (story)
8. Army Girl (1938) (screenplay)
... aka The Last of the Cavalry (UK)
9. King of the Newsboys (1938) (story)
10. Portia on Trial (1937) (writer)
... aka The Trial of Portia Merriman (UK)
11. It Could Happen to You! (1937) (screenplay)
12. Hit Parade of 1937 (1937) (writer)
... aka I'll Pick a Star (reissue title)
... aka I'll Reach for a Star (USA: TV title (reissue title))
... aka The Hit Parade
13. A Doctor's Diary (1937) (story)
14. Two Wise Maids (1937) (writer)
15. Follow Your Heart (1936) (writer)
16. Fatal Lady (1936) (writer)
17. Three Kids and a Queen (1935) (writer)
... aka The Baxter Millions (UK)
18. Mark of the Vampire (1935) (contributing writer) (uncredited)
... aka Vampires of Prague
19. The Man Who Reclaimed His Head (1934) (writer)
20. Imitation of Life (1934) (contributing writer) (uncredited)
21. One Exciting Adventure (1934) (writer)
22. One Man's Journey (1933) (screenplay) (as Sam Ornitz)
23. The Great Jasper (1933) (writer)
24. Secrets of the French Police (1932) (writer)
25. Men of America (1932) (writer)
... aka The Great Decision (UK)
26. Hell's Highway (1932) (written by)
27. Thirteen Women (1932) (screenplay)
28. The Sins of the Children (1930) (adaptation)
... aka Father's Day
... aka The Richest Man in the World
29. Chinatown Nights (1929) (story "Tong War")
30. The Case of Lena Smith (1929) (story)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Who's Almost Who: Samuel Ornitz

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Among his many accomplishments, Samuel Ornitz, who lived as a young man at 75 Eldridge Street, was a contributing writer for the 1935 Mark Of The Vampire:
an excerpt from metroactive
Joyce on a Mission, By Harvey Pekar
Samuel Ornitz--novelist and blacklisted screenwriter--was an unsung pioneer of stream of consciousness: IF ANYONE remembers Samuel Ornitz at all today, it's as a screenwriter who was one of the Hollywood 10; his reputation as a novelist didn't survive the 1920s. Despite the neglect, Ornitz is a significant literary figure whose work deserves to be kept in print and read by anyone who cares about the evolution of the American novel.
Born in 1890, Ornitz is a link between Yiddish-speaking, foreign-born American novelists such as Anzia Yezierska and Abraham Cahan, who were mainstream stylists, and the daring Jewish fiction writers of the 1930s: Daniel Fuchs, Nathanael West and Henry Roth.
Ornitz belonged to a forgotten avant-garde movement that employed stream-of-consciousness techniques before the 1922 publication of James Joyce's Ulysses brought the method to general attention. In 1887, Edouard Dujardin published an entire stream-of-consciousness novel, Les Lauriers sont coupés. Other writers who were using stream-of-consciousness passages prior to the 1920s were George Moore, Arthur Schnitzler, Romain Rolland, Dorothy Richardson, May Sinclair and André Bely.
In the U.S., James Oppenheim employed a bit of stream-of-consciousness in his 1914 story cycle Pay Envelope, which anticipated Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio. Waldo Frank used the technique in his first novel, The Unwelcome Man, published in 1917. Probably under Frank's influence, Evelyn and Cyril Kay Scott, Harlem Renaissance novelist Jean Toomer, Elliot Paul and Ornitz incorporated stream of consciousness into their writings by the mid-1920s.
The pre-Joycean stream-of-consciousness style, influenced by impressionistic French symbolist poetry, was often spare, peppered with ellipses and relatively easy to follow, as in this excerpt from Ornitz's 1923 Haunch, Paunch and Jowl (sometimes titled Allrightnik's Row):
An anguished hiss; the living sap is scorched as in a sea of hate. Change in conflict. Hiss, sizzle, hiss. Moaning, dying, expiring in a simmer. Overboard. The sacrificial crackle in answer: overboard with her, overboard; we're burning up for you. ... The world's agony is told in a sigh ... Gretel ... get rid of her. Esther; don't think of her, don't think of her, don't, don't. Esther ...

Pearl Williams


from the book Performing Marginality: Humor, Gender, and Cultural Critique (Humor in Life and Letters Series), by Joanne R. Gilbert

Who's Almost Who: Pearl Williams

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The previous post mentioned she went to Seward Park. Her real name was Pearl Wolfe (1914-1991). She was a hoot. The above comes from several clips I put together from a wfmu broadcast from Monica at WFMU
I picked up my first Pearl Williams album many years ago while working at the Confirmed Bachelor Record Store. Recorded live in the early 60s during a "late, late show," A Trip Around The World Is Not A Cruise opens like this:

from wikipedia
Pearl Williams was a Jewish-American comic popular during the 1950s and 1960s. Known for her bawdy humor and aggressive manner, she released nine best-selling “party” records during her career, including:
* "All the Way"
* "Bagels & Lox!"
* "She’s Doin’ What Comes Naturally!"
* "A Trip Around the World is Not a Cruise"
* "You’ll Never Remember it, Write it Down!"
* "Battle of the Mothers!" (with Belle Barth)
* "Party Snatches – the Best of . . ." (featured)
Before retiring in 1984, Williams performed for 18 years at the Place Pigalle in Miami. In 2007, she was proposed to be featured in the Off-Broadway production The J.A.P. Show: Jewish American Princesses of Comedy, which includes live standup routines by four female Jewish comics juxtaposed with the stories of legendary performers from the 1950s and 1960s, Betty Walker, Belle Barth, Totie Fields, Jean Carroll and Williams herself.

1969 Seward Park Reunion

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Tony Bennett's Astoria Home Block Panoramic Movie

Supposedly his home address was 23-18 32nd Street. I the movie that's the short white building with the sunglassed Kver visible

South Street And Market Street Panoramic Movie

In view (if you zoom) are two of the artificial waterfalls that were on display in the summer of 2008

With A Little Help From Our Friends

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the world is a better place with the help of our KV friends
The Colonel eloquently reminded us that today is the 39th anniversary of Woodstock
This weekend is the 39th anniversary of Woodstock. How many of you were there? How many of you remember? At least seen the tape?
I'm in the last group, being stationed in Salt Lake City as a Second Lieutenant in your Air Force and not realizing what really was going on. I find it one of the formative events during my post-formative years, and how ignorant of its meaning until 35 years after Crosby, Stills and Nash barely, and probably unnecessarily, immortalized it.
I only know of one couple who was there. And I haven't seen them since 1974.
We've seen a lot in our meager years, that's why I am so upset with the past eight years. History is a teacher, not a book on the unread shelf.

What would think if I sang out of tune,
Would you stand up and walk out on me.
Lend me your ears and I'll sing you a song,
And I'll try not to sing out of key.
Oh I get by with a little help from my friends,
He gets high with a little help from his friends,
Oh I'm gonna try with a little help from my friends.
What do I do when my love is away.
(Does it worry you to be alone)
How do I feel by the end of the day
(Are you sad because you're on your own)
No, I get by with a little help from my friends,
Mmm I get high with a little help from my friends,
Mmm I'm gonna to try with a little help from my friends
Do you need anybody?
I need somebody to love.
Could it be anybody?
I want somebody to love.
Would you believe in a love at first sight?
Yes I'm certain that it happens all the time.
What do you see when you turn out the light?
I can't tell you, but I know it's mine.
Oh I get by with a little help from my friends,
Mmm I get high with a little help from my friends,
Oh I'm gonna try with a little help from my friends
Do you need anybody?
I need someone to love.
Could it be anybody?
I want somebody to love
Oh...
I get by with a little help from my friends,
I'm gonna try with a little help from my friends
I get high with a little help from my friends
Yes I get by with a little help from my friends,
with a little help from my friends

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Knish Doctor Pays A House Call In Providence

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Images from the Lower East Side Comes To Providence East Side, audio from a Mickey Katz
classic. A review from klezmer shack
This is high-energy comic jolt of the stuff that made Mickey Katz famous. This is the most outrageous combination of fifties Borscht Belt shtick and postmodern Jewish deconstruction I've heard in years and boy do we need it. Mickey Katz is kvelling in a flying shisl somewhere out there and he's urging us all to "essn, essn." But not even Mickey would have dreamed up "I am a Man of Constant Blessings", and unless his son went to Tufts or Brandeis (like, say, the son of a certain bandmember of my acquaintance), we'd miss out on a very straight, delightfully a capella "Oseh Shalom." But what the heck. If uncontrollable laughter is what you need, just hang in there—the "Knish Doctor" will be up shortly.
The opening title track introduces us to trouble: "you won't find this in the torah / this ain't no hora", all to a pulsating mambo beat. I'm less fond of the tour of rock and rock 'n' roll history that is "My Yiddishe Mama", and I like the idea of "Tsuris," but never enjoyed the Joe and Paul version. It's updated, but I'm not convinced that it's what it could be yet. Lenny Bruce they weren't. On the other hand, this band's "Trombonik Tanz," gives the wonderful revival by Shtreiml a run for its money.
The album channels Mickey Katz perfectly. Sometimes that means the pieces seem slightly dated, as on "Cheder Days", a vision that seems out of place relative to my generation's sterile shuls (same bad jokes, though) or what I hope to be a somewhat better environment to which we've subjected this generation of kids (though, listening to my youngest, I suspect the jokes are no better). Sometimes, they go to places that Katz would happily have imagined had he lived today (the aforementioned "man of constant blessings" or the doina-ized "Gentile on my mind"). On the other hand, "Essen," for all that it harks to an age that is long gone, is still funny on its own madness.
My favorite parts are admittedly retro: "K'nock around the clock" and "Knish Doctor" (especially with the quote from "Wimoweh" in the middle). But the band is tighter than the seal on a bottle of manichevitz gefilte fish and the words are in the best tradition of Yinglish for the new century: "But then I hear the clarinet and it almost makes me forget the uncle from detroit who wants me to play 'Sunrise sunset'". The transition from In A Gadda Da Vida to "Yesh Yesh Yesh" makes the simkha from hell, "Play Klezmer Play" a joyous triumph of will over the (only slightly changed) simkha of today.
The band hasn't forgotten klezmer, of course. That's where they began. On "Second Avenue Square Dance" and "Li'l Gypsy" they show off their more traditional Jewish chops (rock and roll and Mickey Katz we already know they mastered—but then, Mickey was no slouch on the clarinet, neither). But they don't stop there. Indeed, only space is the "final meshugass" as they boldly go where no Jew has gone before. Indeed, the lovely speech, "chutzpah" dropped inside the theremin-embroidered "Nudnik the Flying Shisl" proves that no matter how outrageous the music, the words can be even more fun.

Personnel on this recording:
Bert Stratton: clarinet, tenor sax, harmonica, vocals
Irwin Weinberger: vocals, alto sax, guitar, banjo, mandolin, dobro
Steve Ostrow: trombone, trumpet, violin, jew's harp, vocals
Alan Douglass: vocals, keyboards, sequencing, guitar, theremin
Don Friedman: drums, percussion
Daniel Ducoff: shtickmeister (dance leader), slide whistle

Lower East Side Meets Providence East Side: Part 3

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Lower East Side Meets Providence East Side: Part 2

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Lower East Side Meets Providence East Side: Part 1

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On a stopover in Pawtucket from a trip to Boston, sister-in-law Laurie told me about this nice event. Excellent kasha varnishkas. Little did they know that an authentic LES KV half sephardic/half yid boychick was in their midst.
from the jcc providence
4th Annual Lower East Side Meets Providence East Side
Wednesday August 13, 2008, 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Take the night off!
Join us Wednesday evening, August 13, 5-8 pm, in the field behind the JCC for an evening of Israeli dancing, Klezmer music, pickle tossing, contests with prizes and children's activities! Food will be for sale. Buy a knish, enjoy a night with your family, or just come to shmooze! Free and open to the public. In the event of rain, the event will be held inside the JCCRI facility.
Presented by the City of Providence's "Celebrate Providence" Neighborhood Performing Arts Initiative. Sponsored by the City of Providence, David N. Cicilline, Mayor, the Department of Art, Culture & Tourism, the Department of Public Parks, and Recreation Department of the City of Providence.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Who's Almost Who In Knickerbocker Village History: Irving Jacobson


Jacobson on the left at the bar mitzvah of, Bruce Adler, who just died on July 28th at age 63--see obit below. Jacobson lived at 148 Rivington Street when he attended PS 20.

Bruce Adler, an actor and song-and-dance man with roots in the Yiddish theater who hoofed successfully onto Broadway and was nominated for two Tony Awards, died early Friday in Davie, Fla., near Fort Lauderdale. He was 63 and lived in Davie as well as in Manhattan.
The cause was liver cancer, said Jeanne Nicolosi, Mr. Adler’s theatrical agent. He had only recently canceled a commitment to play Tevye in a summer stock production of “Fiddler on the Roof” in St. Louis, she said.
Mr. Adler, a versatile performer with a comic flair, came from a show business family. He was the son of Julius Adler and Henrietta Jacobson, who were stars of the old “Yiddish Rialto” along Second Avenue in the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan. One of his Tony nominations was for “Those Were the Days,” a 1990 revue of songs and sketches recalling the Yiddish theater scene that flourished in New York City from the 1880s to the 1930s.
He was nominated again in 1992 for “Crazy for You,” a hit musical that was fashioned from a trove of George and Ira Gershwin songs knitted together with an original book by Ken Ludwig. Mr. Adler played an impresario, à la Flo Ziegfeld; his duet with Harry Groener of “What Causes That,” requiring deft comic timing and coordination, was an audience favorite.
Mr. Adler was born on Second Avenue on Nov. 27, 1944, and grew up as the son of local celebrities. Not only were his parents stars, so were his mother’s brothers, Hyman and Irving Jacobson. His grandfather, Joseph Jacobson, had studied in Russia to be a rabbi but came to the United States in the 1880s, where both he and his wife, Bessie, became performers. Young Bruce joined his parents onstage as early as age 4, and they often performed together from then on.
Mr. Adler served in the United States Army from 1966 to 1968. His first marriage, to Isabelle Farrell, ended in divorce. Among his survivors are his wife, Amy London, whom he married in 2003; a son, Jake; and two stepchildren.
Mr. Adler, who contributed the singing voice of the narrator of the animated film “Aladdin,” made his Broadway debut in the 1979 revival of “Oklahoma!” and appeared in several other Broadway and Off Broadway shows. He was especially active in regional theater; in recent years, he performed most often in South Florida.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Johnny Otis: Willie And The Hand Jive: Part 2

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from the 1959 movie Juke Box Rhythm
A rare rock n roll film. A European princess and her aunt come to New York to buy clothes for the royal coronation. She gets involved with a Broadway revue entitled "Juke Box Rhythm." Rockin' rhythm & blues from the Treniers "Get Out of The Car" and Johnny Otis "Willie and the Hand Jive." Also music by the Earl Grant Trio and the Nitwits. Jo Morrow, Jack Jones, Brian Donlevy, Hans Conried, George Jessel, Marjorie Reynolds. Juke Box Rhythm!
I know a cat named Way-Out Willie
Had a cool little chick named Rockin' Billie
Made a heart of stone Susie-Q, doin' that crazy hand jive too
Papa said "You will ruin my house.
You and that hand jive have got to go"
Willie said "Papa, don't you put me down,
Been doin' that hand jive all over town."
Hand jive, hand jive, hand jive, doin' that crazy hand jive
I don't want you to get on the floor
Gettin' low, getting down with sister go
Come on, get baby, little sister'll die
Said doin' that hand jive one more time
Hand jive, hand jive, hand jive, doin' that crazy hand jive
Doctor getting low and he getting check
Now they're all digging that crazy beat
Way-Out Willie gave 'em all a treat
Been doin' that hand jive with his feet
Hand jive, hand jive, hand jive, doin' that crazy hand jive
Willi and Billie got married last fall
Had to live with his sisters and that ain't all
Daddy got famous it's plain to see
Been doin' that hand jive on his knees
Hand jive, hand jive, hand jive, doin' that crazy hand jive

In Aid Of Babbitt 3

Read this document on Scribd: Babbitt pages1-6

In Aid Of Babbitt 2

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A slide show made up mostly of the watercolors that Dina Gottliebova Babbitt painted in Auschwitz. I used Ferrante and Teicher's Exodus theme for audio. I was accused by a blog commentator of unfairly trashing F&T- giving no reasons. My reasons, the music was boring and banal (unlike hand jive) and reflected the sad state of American pop in the 50's and 60's
from james lileks who offered up two musical samples
I did note yesterday that I wanted to note the passing of a pianist, and that would be Mr. Teicher, one half of Ferrante and Teicher, the middlebrow piano duo who put out 239632 albums of movie themes. When I was younger and contemptuous of Easy Listening, I put them in the Mantovani and 101 Strings camp, stuff my aunts liked, fer heaven's sake, treacly tinkly drivel. Having spent some time going over the catalogue, I was surprised to find that I was exactly right. They were perhaps the only piano duo that managed to sound like one piano. Every song was sweetened with ooohs and aahhs and echoey strings, seasoned with trademark glissandos. On the other hand, they were extraordinarily popular. It’s music you’re not supposed to listen to, but perhaps absorb topically. It gives the general impression of music, it sounds familiar, and it melted down every new tune and poured it into a standard mold. Everything sounded like Ferrante and Teicher when it was played by Ferrante and Teicher, just as anything sounds like a polka when it’s played by on accordion by someone who’s had too much coffee.
Here are two excerpts. The first is “The Apartment,” and it charted in 1960. Standard stuff. The second is the theme from “Midnight Cowboy,” one of John Barry’s better themes. The orchestration has changed, gotten “hip” and “with-it” – the stingy guitar is a classic 60s sound – but it makes you wonder what’s the point, really? Why not listen to the original?

In Aid Of Babbitt

That's Dina and her mother Johanna in the picture at left. Dina is a Babbitt by subsequent marriage. There was a prominent Babits family in KV. From the nytimes
Comic-Book Idols Rally to Aid a Holocaust Artist, By GEORGE GENE GUSTINES
As all-star comic-book team-ups go, this one beats the first meeting of Superman and Spider-Man. Three of the elder statesmen of comic books — Neal Adams, Joe Kubert and Stan Lee — have joined forces to combat what they see as a real-world injustice.
The men are lending their talents to tell the tale of Dina Gottliebova Babbitt, who survived two years at the Auschwitz concentration camp by painting watercolor portraits for the infamous Nazi Dr. Josef Mengele. Some of the artwork also survived, but it is in the possession of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum in Poland. Now 85 and living in California, Mrs. Babbitt wants the artwork back, but the museum has steadfastly refused to return it.
“I’m at a total loss,” Mrs. Babbitt wrote in an e-mail message. “I feel just as helpless as I did when I was at camp. Totally disempowered.”
Now Mrs. Babbitt’s story has been captured in a six-page comic-book story illustrated by Mr. Adams, who helped take Batman back to his dark roots after the ’60s television show made him seem campy; inked partly by Mr. Kubert, whose comics career stretches back to the 1940s and who has drawn everyone from Hawkman to Sergeant Rock; and featuring an introduction by Mr. Lee, a co-creator of the Fantastic Four, the X-Men and many other Marvel heroes.
The text was written by Rafael Medoff, director of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, which has championed Mrs. Babbitt’s cause. Mr. Medoff and Mr. Adams have offered the story to DC Comics and Marvel Entertainment in the hopes of getting it published, but no deal is yet in place.
The men first joined forces in 2006, when 450 cartoonists, artists and comic-book creators signed a petition asking the museum to return the art. “Rafael was in my studio and talking about this project, and the signatures, and what could be done,” said Mr. Adams, 67.
Mr. Adams read Mr. Medoff’s summary but thought it was something more. “It told a story with economy and sincerity,” he said. “I realized this was a perfect script for a six-page story.” Choosing the artist was relatively easy. “I couldn’t think of anyone better or crazy enough to do it,” he explained. “So I decided to draw it.”
The story, mainly in black and white but using splashes of color whenever Mrs. Babbitt’s work is shown, moves quickly from her childhood — when she drew Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck on paper sacks — to her arrival, with her mother, Johanna, at Auschwitz in September 1943, when she was about 20.
It depicts the colorful mural that Mrs. Babbitt painted in the children’s barracks there. She started with Walt Disney’s version of Snow White, but her audience clamored for the Seven Dwarfs as well, and some farm animals. The original mural is believed to have been destroyed, and the story uses a re-creation Mrs. Babbitt painted last year.
Mrs. Babbitt recently returned to her home in Felton, Calif., where she is recovering from surgery for abdominal cancer. “I think I could have done the dwarfs a lot better then because I was young and can’t paint as I used to,” she wrote by e-mail. “These were the only times that I was comfortable at camp, with my painting, you know. I felt human when I was painting.”
By February 1944, Mrs. Babbitt had come to the attention of Mengele, who was dissatisfied with the photographs he had taken of the Gypsy, or Romany, prisoners in his effort to prove their genetic inferiority. He asked Mrs. Babbitt to paint their portraits to capture their skin tones better. She agreed, but only after insisting that her mother be spared from death. (The story reproduces five of the portraits.)
The final two pages move from the liberation by Allied troops in 1945 to her life in the United States, where she worked for 17 years as an assistant animator for many Hollywood studios, including MGM and Warner Brothers, working on the likes of Daffy Duck and Speedy Gonzalez.
Auschwitz museum officials, in a statement issued in 2001, indicated that they had bought six of Mrs. Babbitt’s watercolors in 1963 from an Auschwitz survivor and acquired a seventh in 1977. In 1973 the museum asked her to verify her work but did not offer to return the items. The museum has argued that the artwork is important evidence of the Nazi genocide and part of the cultural heritage of the world. (The museum did not respond to telephone calls and an e-mail message requesting comment.)
Others have come to Mrs. Babbitt’s defense, including Representative Shelley Berkley, Democrat of Nevada. In 2002 she sponsored a resolution in the House of Representatives urging State Department involvement. In 2006 she also pleaded the artist’s case before Congress.
Nevertheless, Mr. Medoff, 48, said Mrs. Babbitt’s story was especially resonant in the world of comic books. “Comic-book artists waged a long struggle, led by Neal Adams, for the right to have their original art returned,” he said. He was referring to comic-book companies’ standard practice of not giving artists back their work after publication, a trend that lasted into the 1970s.
But Mr. Adams played down any similarities between his struggle and Mrs. Babbitt’s, calling her situation “tragic” and “an atrocity.” He said he approached the six pages as if they were a documentary, avoiding the melodrama of, say, a superhero comic.