Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Lena Horne, Born In Brooklyn

Images below are from my famous people in Brooklyn Map #1

Helena Mary Calhoun Horne (born June 30, 1917), is a singer and actor of African-American, Caucasian, and Cherokee descent. She has recorded and performed extensively, independently and with other jazz notables, including Artie Shaw, Teddy Wilson, Billy Strayhorn, Duke Ellington, and Charlie Barnett. She currently lives in New York City and no longer makes public appearances. Lena Horne was born in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, New York, and grew up in an upper middle class black community. Her father, Edwin "Teddy" Horne, who worked in the gambling trade, left the family when she was three. Her mother, Edna Scottron, was the daughter of inventor Samuel R. Scottron; she was an actress with an African American theater troupe and traveled extensively. Horne was mainly raised by her grandparents, Cora Calhoun and Edwin Horne. Her uncle, Frank S. Horne, was an adviser to Franklin Delano Roosevelt. She is a reported descendant of the John C. Calhoun family. Lena Horne made her film debut starring as "the Bronze Venus" in The Duke is Tops, a 1938 musical. After a false start headlining a 1938 musical race movie called The Duke is Tops, Horne became the first African American performer to sign a long-term contract with a major Hollywood studio, namely Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. She made her debut with MGM in 1942's Panama Hattie and became famous in 1943 for her rendition of "Stormy Weather" in the movie of the same name (which she made while on loan to 20th Century Fox from MGM).
She appeared in a number of MGM musicals, most notably Cabin in the Sky (also 1943), but was never featured in a leading role due to her race and the fact that films featuring her had to be reedited for showing in southern states where theaters could not show films with African American performers. As a result, most of Horne's film appearances were stand-alone sequences that had no bearing on the rest of the film, so editing caused no disruption to the storyline; a notable exception was the all-black musical Cabin in the Sky, though even then one of her numbers had to be cut because it was considered too suggestive by the censors. In Ziegfeld Follies (1946) she performs "Love" by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane.
She was originally considered for the role of Julie LaVerne in MGM's 1951 version of Show Boat (having already played the role when a segment of Show Boat was performed in Till the Clouds Roll By) but Ava Gardner was given the role instead (the production code office had banned interracial relationships in films). In the documentary That's Entertainment! III Horne stated that MGM executives required Gardner to practice her singing using recordings of Horne performing the songs, which offended both actresses (ultimately, Gardner ended up having her singing voice overdubbed by another actress for the theatrical release, though her own voice was heard on the soundtrack album).
By the mid-1950s, Horne was disenchanted with Hollywood and increasingly focused on her nightclub career. She only made two major appearances in MGM films during the decade, 1950's Duchess of Idaho (which was also Eleanor Powell's film swan song), and the 1956 musical Meet Me in Las Vegas. She was blacklisted during the 1950s for her political views.[4] She returned to the screen three more times, playing chanteuse Claire Quintana in the 1969 film Death of a Gunfighter, Glinda in The Wiz (1978), and co-hosting the 1994 MGM retrospective That's Entertainment! III, in which she was candid about her treatment by the studio. In her later years, Horne also made occasional television appearances - generally as herself - on such programs as The Muppet Show (where she sang with Kermit the Frog) and Sanford and Son in the 1970s, as well as a 1985 performance on The Cosby Show and a 1993 appearance on A Different World.
She appeared in Broadway musicals several times and in 1958 was nominated for the Tony Award for "Best Actress in a Musical" (for her part in the "Calypso" musical Jamaica) In 1981 she received a Special Tony Award for her one-woman show, Lena Horne: "The Lady and Her Music". Despite the show's considerable success (Horne still holds the record for the longest-running solo performance in Broadway history), she was not inclined to capitalize on the renewed interest in her career by undertaking many new musical projects. A proposed 1983 joint recording project between Horne and Frank Sinatra (to be produced by Quincy Jones) was ultimately abandoned, and her sole studio recording of the decade was 1988's The Men In My Life, featuring duets with Sammy Davis, Jr. and Joe Williams. In 1989, she received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
The 1990s found Horne considerably more active in the recording studio - all the more remarkable considering she was approaching her 80th year. Following her 1993 performance at a tribute to the musical legacy of her good friend Billy Strayhorn (Duke Ellington's) longtime pianist and arranger), she decided to record an album largely comprised of Strayhorn's and Ellington's songs the following year, We'll Be Together Again. To coincide with the release of the album, Horne made what would be her final concert performances at New York's Supper Club and Carnegie Hall. That same year, Horne also lent her vocals to a recording of "Embraceable You" on Sinatra's "Duets II" album. Though the album was largely derided by critics, the Sinatra-Horne pairing was generally regarded as its highlight. In 1995, a "live" album capturing her Supper Club performance was released (subsequently winning a Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album). In 1998, at the age of 81, Horne released another studio album, entitled Being Myself. Thereafter, Horne essentially retired from performing and largely retreated from public view, though she did return to the recording studio in 2000 to contribute vocal tracks on Simon Rattle's Classic Ellington album.
Horne also is noteworthy for her contributions to the Civil Rights movement. In the 1940s, she sang at Cafe Society and worked with Paul Robeson, a singer who also combated American racial discrimination. During World War II, when entertaining the troops at her own expense, she refused performing "for segregated audiences or to groups in which German POWs were seated in front of African American servicemen" , according to her Kennedy Center biography. She became better known during the Civil Rights movement, participating in the March on Washington and speaking and performing in behalf of the NAACP and the National Council for Negro Women. She also worked with Eleanor Roosevelt to pass anti-lynching laws.
In 2003, ABC announced that Janet Jackson would star as Horne in a television biopic (after it was rumored for years that Whitney Houston would take the job). In the weeks following Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" debacle during the 2004 Super Bowl, however, Variety reported that Horne demanded Jackson be dropped from the project. "ABC executives resisted Horne’s demand," according to the Associated Press report, "but Jackson representatives told the trade newspaper that she left willingly after Horne and her daughter, Gail Lumet Buckley, asked that she not take part." Oprah Winfrey stated to Alicia Keys during a 2005 interview on The Oprah Winfrey Show that she might possibly consider producing the biopic herself, casting Keyes as Horne.
In January 2005, Blue Note Records, her label for more than a decade, announced that "the finishing touches have been put on a collection of rare and unreleased recordings by the legendary Horne made during her time on Blue Note. Remixed by her longtime producer Rodney Jones, the recordings featured Horne in remarkably secure voice for a woman of her years, and include versions of such signature songs as 'Something To Live For', 'Chelsea Bridge' and 'Stormy Weather'." The album, originally titled Soul but renamed Seasons of a Life, was released on January 24, 2006.
Horne was married first to Louis Jones, by whom she had a daughter, Gail and a son, Edwin.
Lena Horne's second marriage was to Lennie Hayton, a Jewish American, from 1947 until his death in 1971. Hayton was one of the premier musical conductors and arrangers at MGM. In her as-told-to autobiography Lena by Richard Schickel, Horne recounts the enormous pressures she and her husband faced as an interracial married couple. However, she later admitted (Ebony, May 1980) that she really married Hayton to advance her career and cross the "color-line" in show business. She is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.

Happy 92nd Birthday Lena Horne, June 30

from the 1948 film Words and Music. Where or When, a favorite of my father's

Get Ready Get Set...Shop E.J. Korvettes 2

image from the brownstoner
about E.J. Korvette's
E. J. Korvette was an American chain of discount department stores, founded in 1948 in New York City. It is notable as one of the first department stores to challenge the suggested retail price provisions of anti-discounting statutes. It is also notable for its failure to manage its business success which led to decline and its 1980 bankruptcy and closure. Founded by World War II veteran Eugene Ferkauf and his friend, Joe Zwillenberg, E.J. Korvette did much to define the idea of a discount department store. It displaced earlier five and dime retailers and preceded later discount stores, like Wal-Mart, and warehouse clubs such as Costco E. J. Korvette's founder, Eugene Ferkauf, began his discounting career in a 400-square-foot (37 m2) loft in mid-Manhattan, New York City. Inventory consisted of well known brands of luggage, household appliances and some jewelry. Discounts were one-third off regular price. Sales were over $2,500 per square foot. Ferkauf retired in 1968. (Discount Merchandiser July 1988)
E.J. Korvette's used several retailing innovations to propel its rapid growth. It used discounting even though most discounting was outlawed (or thought outlawed) at the time[1]. Korvette's instituted a membership program, a technique from consumers' cooperatives that had never been applied to a department store before. It also expanded into suburban locations at a time when most department stores were in a central business district.
Korvette's low-price, low-service model was in some ways similar to that of earlier five and dime retailers such as Woolworth's, McCrory's, and S.S. Kresge. But Korvette's was innovative in avoiding the anti-discounting provisions of the Robinson-Patman Act, and undercutting the suggested retail price on such expensive items as appliances and luxury pens.
Korvette used "membership cards" (which it distributed in front of its stores, and to surrounding offices) to style itself a retail cooperative. In so doing, Korvette's was able to accept deep discounts from suppliers— something that competing department stores, such as Macy's and Gimbel's, could not do. In fact, Macy's and others filed numerous "fair trade" lawsuits against Korvette's to stop it from undercutting their prices[1]. None succeeded. Arguably the lawsuits helped Korvette's by calling attention to prices so low that competitors thought them illegal.
Founder Eugene Ferkauf attributed his idea for membership cards and deep discounts to luggage wholesaler Charles Wolf. But where Charles Wolf made limited or even surreptitious use of it, Korvette's popularized it by instructing employees to distribute membership cards to any person entering any Korvette's.
While the first E.J. Korvette store was located on 46th street in Manhattan, its rapid growth in the 1950s was helped by its many stores in strip malls along arterial roads leading out of urban centers. This made E.J. Korvette ideally situated to meet the demands of the suburbs which grew in the United States during the that era.
The first of the modern type stores was opened in 1954, a 90,000-square-foot (8,400 m2) store in Carle Place, Long Island, which for the first time carried apparel. (Discount Merchandiser July 1988) In 1956 Korvette's had 6 stores, including stores in Philadelphia and Harrisburg, PA. By 1958 it had 12 stores. At its peak, it had 58 stores. A Korvette retail floor had cashiers located in individual departments, with no checkout line area. Large stores included a full supermarket, pharmacy, pets, and tire centers.
Korvette's expanded into the Chicago area in the 1960s. It successfully disputed the state and local Sunday closing ordinances and laws. Once those barriers were broken, many other retailers opened on Sunday.
Korvette's decline and closure are variously attributed to inconsistent management, failure to focus on merchandise it knew (such as appliances), and ultimately attempting to compete directly with the department stores in areas such as fashion (when it had neither the expertise nor the right store atmosphere)[2].
Of note was E. J. Korvette's venture into the home entertainment business. The retailer established a rather out of context series of high-end audio salons within selected stores. Korvettes went so far as to market its own "XAM" brand of stereo receivers, amplifiers (some manufactured by Roland Electronics of Japan) and speakers. At a number of the retail locations the audio department was, on dollar per square foot basis, one of the more profitable departments in the store.
In late 1965, Korvette's formed its own Home Furnishings Division and ceased subcontracting furniture and carpet sales. A complex warehousing and distributing network was established. A central distribution warehouse was established in Danville, VA. This location received furniture, purchased by its buyers located in East Paterson, NJ. and in turn reshipped individual customer orders based on promised delivery dates. The sold merchandise was then shipped to delivery warehouses in East Paterson, NJ, Pensauken, NJ and Jessup, MD for final prep and delivery. This well-managed furniture distribution group was active until it closed at the end of 1977.
By 1966, Korvette's had begun to decline and chose to merge with Spartan Industries, a soft goods retailer. Eugene Ferkauf was eased out of the company leadership, and Spartan managers attempted to revive the company.
From 1971 to 1979, Korvette's was owned by Arlen Realty, a land development company that used Korvette's 50 stores as a source of cash flow. Under Arlen's ownership, Korvette's stores deteriorated and lost market share relative to other retailers. Soon the company soon became worth more for its real estate assets (such as its ownership or leasehold interests in valuable locations) than its retail sales.
In 1979, Korvette's was purchased by the Agache-Willot Group of France which initially closed Korvette's least profitable stores, and began selling off merchandise, fixtures, equipment, and real estate. In 1980, they declared bankruptcy and on December 24, 1980 they closed all of their remaining 15 stores.
According to Korvette's founder, Eugene Ferkauf, the name E.J. Korvette was coined as a combination of the initials of its founders (Eugene and Joe) and a re-spelling of the naval term Corvette. This claim, and the fact that the name pre-dates the Korean War by three years, contradict an urban legend that the name stood for "Eight (or Eleven) Jewish Korean War Veterans".

Get Ready Get Set...Shop E.J. Korvette

from 1978-1983, Play list:
1. Korvettes Department Store--Where's the best stereos and televisions? Korvettes has more to what you're looking for! 2. Burger King Real Steak Sandwich--Offering coupon to buy New York Knicks...
1. Korvettes Department Store--Where's the best stereos and televisions? Korvettes has more to what you're looking for!
2. Burger King Real Steak Sandwich--Offering coupon to buy New York Knicks tickets. They must have been THAT desperate to get people to buy their steaks!
3. Michelob beer with John Forsythe--Holidays were made for Michelob (and weekends too!)
4. Ending to Shop Rite--Lasanga sale the week of November 11-18, 1978
5. Korvettes Department Store--Food processors, hair dryers, and a bad Marilyn Monroe impersonator!

Monday, June 29, 2009

A Summer Samba Redux: So Nice

some kv chatter from the Colonel:
Very Nice: Sweeping the Metsies. Wang gets #1. Mariano gets #500. NYY get winning interleague record for 2009. Metsies get swept.
P.S. Maybe Bruney was correct about K-Rod. P.P.S. Metsies lose all three.

Some team that has no fight
That would be very nice
Some team whose bats are light
That would be very nice
Some team to understand
Each little dream in me
Some team to take my hand
And be a team with me .....

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Date Night

from a film shoot on June 16th in Times Square

Date Night On Catherine Street

On my way back from paying my respects to the mayor I noticed all these cones as I passed KV on South Street. I back tracked to check out why.
The 20th Century Fox release, opening April 9, 2010 co-stars Mark Wahlberg, James Franco, Leighton Meester, Common, Taraji Henson, Kristen Wiig, Ray Liotta, Mila Kunis, Mark Ruffalo and William Fichtner. The story follows a couple who find their routine date night becomes much more than just dinner and a movie.

Victory At Sea

I watched this show all time with my father. Richard Rodgers composed the music for the series. It was his 107th birthday today.
Victory at Sea was a documentary TV series about naval warfare during World War II that was originally aired by NBC in the USA in 26 half-hour segments on Sunday afternoons, starting October 26, 1952 and ending May 3, 1953. The series, which won an Emmy in 1954 as best public affairs program, played a major role in establishing historic documentaries as a viable television genre. When it first aired, NBC thought it so important that it had no commercial breaks.
The project was conceived by Henry Salomon, who, while in the U.S. Navy during World War II, was a research assistant to historian Samuel Eliot Morison. Morison was then writing the 15-volume History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. During this period, Salomon learned of the large amounts of film that the warring navies had compiled. Salomon left the Navy in 1948 and eventually discussed his idea of a documentary series with one of his Harvard classmates, Robert Sarnoff, a rising executive at NBC television and the son of David Sarnoff, the chairman of RCA (then the owner of NBC).
NBC approved the project in 1951, with Salomon as producer and a budget of $500,000 (large for that era). His team, made up largely of newsreel veterans, scoured naval archives around the world, and received complete cooperation from the U.S. Navy, which recognized the publicity value. Salomon's team compiled 60 million feet (18,300 km) of film, which was edited to about 61,000 feet for broadcast.
After the original run, NBC syndicated it to local stations, where it proved successful financially through the mid-1960s. NBC also marketed the series overseas; by 1964, it had aired in 40 foreign markets. NBC created a feature-length motion picture condensation and made a distribution deal with United Artists; the film debuted in mid-1954; NBC aired the movie twice in the 1960s.
Salomon also signed Richard Rodgers, fresh off several hit Broadway musicals, to compose the musical score. Rodgers contributed 12 "themes"- short piano compositions a minute or two in length; these may be examined in the Rodgers Collection at the Library of Congress.[citation needed] Robert Russell Bennett did the scoring, transforming Rodgers's themes to fit a variety of moods, and composing much more original material than Rodgers, as may be observed in Bennett's inked scores, microfilmed at the Library of Congress.[citation needed] Nonetheless, Bennett received credit only for arranging the score and conducting NBC Symphony Orchestra members on the soundtrack recording sessions, and many writers still refer erroneously to "Rodgers's thirteen-hour score."[citation needed] Rodgers recorded excerpts from the music with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra for Columbia Records, but it was Bennett who made the more familiar RCA recordings with the Symphony of the Air, an orchestra created in the fall of 1954 from former NBC Symphony members, identified on the albums as the RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra.
The movements and approximate timings in the RCA Symphony performance are as follows; 1. The Song of the High Seas - 5:03 2. The Pacific Boils Over - 5:45 3. Fire on the Waters - 5:58 4. Guadalcanal March - 3:08 5. Pelelieu - 3:43 6. Theme of the Fast Carriers - 6:49 7. Hard Work and Horseplay - 3:44 8. Mare Nostrum - 4:31 9. Beneath the Southern Cross - 4:06 10.Mediterranean Mosaic - 5:03 11.Allies on the March - 5:26 12.D-Day - 5:54 13.The Sound of Victory - 6:15 14.Victory at Sea - 6:11

Fire At East Broadway And Pike Street

from bowery boogie
Hong Kong Supermarket and the apartment building next to it on East Broadway burnt down tonight 5/14/09 in a huge fire. Hong Kong Supermarket, the Chinatown landmark at the corner of Pike and East Broadway, burned down last night. Apparently the fire started in the adjacent building around 9:45 p.m. and had people in the smoke-filled streets until well after midnight.Shopping at Hong Kong Supermarket was something of a delightful madness. The shelves were stocked with everything from sesame paste to grape jam-filled marshmallows. Sure, there are plenty of other Asian markets in the city, but this was a special favorite of Serious Eaters.

I had passed this seen a few weeks ago and thought the building was demolished for new construction.

Happy Birthday To The Godfather

Some questions I posed to the Godfather on his birthday.
Q: As a big sports fan and as a former outstanding baseball player where do you stand on the KV Yankee-Mets split?
A: I've always been a Yankee fan but I have a soft spot for the Mets. Their announcers are much better than the Yankee announcers, especially Ron Darling.
Q: What about people that root for the Red Sox?
A: No comment
Q: What's for dinner?
A: I'm grilling shrimp and salmon. If you're hungry come on over.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Peggy Lee: Baubles, Bangles And Beads

from 1959. ok, I'm finished

Sinatra: Baubles, Bangles And Beads 2

from 1978 with four goombas

Sinatra: Baubles, Bangles And Beads

from 1968
Baubles, bangles, hear how they ring, ringa-linga
Baubles, bangles, bright shiny beads
Sparkles, spangles, your heart will sing, singa-linga
Wearin' baubles, bangles and beads
You'll glitter and gleam so
Make somebody dream so that
Some day he may buy you a ring, ringa-linga
I've heard that's where it leads
Wearin' baubles, bangles, and beads
Baubles, bangles, hear how they jing, jinga-linga
Baubles, bangles, all those bright, shiny beads
Sparkles, spangles, your heart will sing, singa-linga
Wearin' baubles, bangles, and beads
You'll, you'll glitter and gleam so
You're gonna make somebody dream so that
Some day he may, he may buy you a ring, ringa-linga
I've heard that that's where it leads
If you're wearin' baubles bangles and them cool, cool beads

The Kirby Stone 4

In 1958, The Kirby Stone Four released their biggest hit, "Baubles, Bangles And Beads", on the Columbia label. This song, originally from the musical 'Kismet' earned a Grammy Award nomination, and was so closely associated with the group that they re-recorded it on two other occasions - firstly in 1964 on the Warner Bros Records label, and again in 1966, with The Tokens on the BT Puppy Records label, under the name 'The U.S. Double Quartet'.

The Kirby Stone Four were an American vocal ensemble popular in the 1950s and early 1960s.. Kirby Stone founded the group in the years after World War II and began playing clubs in the New York area. They won slots on local television, including The Ed Sullivan Show, and soon after signed to Columbia Records. Several LPs followed, including Baubles, Bangles and Beads; their version of the song "Baubles, Bangles and Beads" became a hit in the U.S. in 1958, reaching #25 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was also nominated for a Grammy award. On the strength of the single, the album reached #13 on the Billboard 200.
Among the backing musicians that played on Kirby Stone Four albums were Jimmy Carroll's orchestra, the Kai Winding Quartet, Alvino Rey, Shelly Manne, and Al Klink. Their style, which melded swing jazz, vocalese, and early rock & roll was referred to as "The Go Sound". They made many appearances on U.S. television shows such as The Judy Garland Show into the mid-1960s. By that time their sound had faded from popularity, and in 1966 they recorded a rock & roll album with The Tokens as the United States Double Quartet. During this time Stone directed several TV variety shows.

btw I think I found Herbert Stone in the 1920 census. Unfortunately he can't qualify as a who's almost who. He was living up in East Harlem.

The Kirby Stone 5

Born in New York City on April 27, 1918, Kirby Stone (whose real name was Herbert), formed Herby Stone And His Pebbles shortly after the end of WWII, which by 1947 had evolved into The Kirby Stone Quintette (later shortened to Quintet). The original line-up consisted of Kirby (trumpet), Art Cow Eyes Engler (saxophone), Michael Gardner (piano), Bernie Doc Mandel (bass) and Gene Thaler (shortly thereafter replaced by Eddie Hall) (drums). All band members shared in the vocal duties, however, Kirby frequently took the lead.
This clip features what is quite possibly the groups first commercial recording, VA-ZAP-PA (written by Frank Capano and Tony Starr), backed with Money-Money-Money (written by Sid Tepper and Roy Brodsky). Brodsky later changed his name to Roy Bennett, and he and Sid Tepper found their greatest popularity writing songs for Elvis Presley (primarily for his movies).
Released on the small Philadelphia-based label, Scoop Record Company in 1947, neither song became a hit for the group, but the B-side, Money-Money-Money was at least popular enough to warrant having sheet music being published for it (featuring one of the only surviving photos of the group to include Gene Thaler). It would take another 10 years (and numerous group name and personnel changes along the way) before Kirby Stone became a household name.

Everything's Coming Up Roses, Temporarily

sung by the Kirby Stone 4
You'll be swell! You'll be great!
Gonna have the whole world on the plate!
Starting here, starting now,
honey, everything's coming up roses!
Clear the decks! Clear the tracks!
You've got nothing to do but relax.
Blow a kiss. Take a bow.
Honey, everything's coming up roses!
Now's your inning. Stand the world on it's ear!
Set it spinning! That'll be just the beginning!
Curtain up! Light the lights!
You got nothing to hit but the heights!
You'll be swell. You'll be great.
I can tell. Just you wait.
That lucky star I talk about is due!
Honey, everything's coming up roses for me and for you!

My Yankee Version
You'll be swell! You'll be great!
Gonna belt that ball when we're up at the plate
Starting here, starting now,
Honey, Cashman will look like he's Moses
Clear the base! Crack those bats
A-Rod has blasted past Jax
Blow kisses to Kate Thank you Mets,.
Everything's coming up roses!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Stallone's Paradise Alley 2

Supposedly the movie was to entitled Hell's Kitchen, but Paradise Alley sounded more intriguing. Even though it took place in 1946 Hell's Kitchen, it could have taken place in Ward 6 of 1946. This youtube reviewer thought it was an underrated film
Stallone's directing debut is a forgotten gem, back when it was released crushed by the critics and snubbed by the audiences. Wrongfully so, because this is great film that especially today makes you wonder whatever happened to Sylvster Stallone the artist. Here he was in all his glory: writer, director, star (even singer of the title song), and maybe that was the reason this film was ignored and critically lambasted back then. When Rocky came out, everybody body loved the writer-actor, but as we know, more sooner then later, people (especially the press) love to turn on the one they once favored. Paradise Alley is a beautiful film that needs to be rediscovered. Its made by someone who loves to tell a good, human story, captured in beautiful shots (just watch credit montage - the rooftop contest) Its full of colorful characters, full of warmth and feeling and wonderful humor. This film was a promise Stallone sadly later on never fulfilled, maybe because everyone turned so harsh on this one, which is something I will never understand. After decades of forgettable movies I wish Stallone would finally defy all nay-sayers and go back to stuff like this. He did by starring in Copland, but since then he made horribly choices as an actor, doing movies which didn't even make it to the theatres.

Stallone's Paradise Alley

Paradise Alley is a 1978 movie about three brothers (known as the Carboni Boys) in Hell's Kitchen, New York City in the 1940s who become involved in professional wrestling. It was written and directed by Sylvester Stallone, and was given the green light to be produced by Universal Pictures after Stallone's success with 1976's Rocky. Stallone also stars as Cosmo, one of the brothers. This was the first major film in which Armand Assante appeared. Anne Archer also starred. Joe Spinell played the emcee of the wrestling matches.
A number of professional wrestlers appeared, including Terry Funk as the foil to the hero of the film. Cameos include Ted DiBiase, Bob Roop, Dick Murdoch, Dory Funk Jr., Don Leo Jonathan, Don Kernodle, Gene Kiniski, Dennis Stamp, Ray Stevens, and Uliuli Fifita; all were pro wrestlers. The playwright and screenwriter John Monks Jr returned to the screen in the role of Mickey the bartender.
The movie first chugs along in the style of what some critics called Damon Runyon-esque, and eventually focuses on professional wrestling, as Victor, one of the brothers (Cosmo and Lenny are the other two) becomes a local wrestler (named Kid Salami and played by Lee Canalito). The fighting is real in this case as far as the plot is concerned; the storyline eventually revolves around betting on the winner of the bouts, as Cosmo and Lenny look to Victor to win enough matches so they can get out of Hell's Kitchen (Victor wants to marry his Asian girlfriend and live on a houseboat they plan to buy in New Jersey).
Each brother has his own style and character. Stallone's Cosmo is a hustler and con-artist, always looking for the next easy buck, Armand Assante's Lenny is the ex-WWII hero, an undertaker who came back to the neighborhood with a limp in his walk and a bitter (if essentially cool) attitude, but who also has savvy and respect and eventually becomes Victor's manager, and Victor himself, the gawky, strong, dumb yet sincere hulk of a man, who quickly leaves his job hauling ice up tenement stairways once he realizes he has talent as a wrestler.
Initially, it is Cosmo that dominates the proceedings, aggressively encouraging Victor to participate in wrestling matches, who is reluctant at first, and against the wishes of his girlfriend. Lenny is at first unsure of all this, and constantly tries to warn-off Victor, reminding him that he could get hurt, and often castigating Cosmo for involving Victor. As the film progresses, the roles begin to reverse . . . Cosmo becomes unsure, and guilty, about his behavior towards Victor, while Lenny becomes ever more keen to push, and exploit Victor as far as he can. Eventually, Lenny seems to have a complete personality change, losing his cool, retiring demeanor and becoming an aggressive, manipulative high roller who uses Victor for his own ends, seeming to not care that his own brother is getting hurt.

New York's Bunker Hill

from pseudo-intellectualism in August of 2005
Follow the path: The 1894 map led to a search for more info on the People's Theater on the Bowery. Unearthed was information on forgotten-ny's site about Bunker Hill. This provides a more complete solution to the Paradise Alley question of where was the exact site of the Bunker Hill that Tom went to view a bull being tortured by wild dogs.

The Place Of Blood

from pseudo-intellectualism back in August of 2005
I got my copy out of Paradise Alley to check on the passage where Tom was working as a butcher on Houston Street and then went to watch a dog fight. Rereading it spurred some online research to try and find the exact site of "The Place of Blood." I didn't have any luck but I realize now that its location might have been further westward then I thought. After working he went to watch a bull that was tied to a pole fight off some wild dogs. BTW, any value judgments on what merits the definition of sport should be set aside when today's most popular spectator sport is NASCAR racing.
This took place at a fort near Bunker Hill on Grand Street. I knew there was a hill near eastern Grand Street, but that was incorporated into Fort Pitt. (now the approximate sight of the 7th Police Precinct). Finding an early topographic map I saw that the Bunker Hill area was on the western part of Grand (now in SOHO). There are lots of hills shown on the map], I tried to pinpoint it by drawing an arrow to where Grand Street should be. I did some further notation on the map which is dated 1826. Wonder where they got the land to expand the shoreline of Manhattan? They did it by leveling all the pre-existing hills. I've also provided a link to the passage from Paradise Alley

The Fourth Ward In the 19th Century

Fourth Ward 2
From Professor Baldwin's comprehensive site at the University of Connecticut
The Fourth Ward: Life and Death in New York, 1860-1870
The tenant-house population of this city would make a city almost as large as Philadelphia, or two larger than Baltimore and Washington, or Boston and Chicago.It has been ascertained by those who have searched out the matter, that over four-fifths of the poverty and crime in the city are due to drunkenness.Were the victims of this vice -- the ruined in fortune and character -- the ill-clad, cold, hungry, sick, crushed wives and children -- the friendless widows and orphans -- the homeless and perishing young girls -- to come down from their garrets, or up from their basements and cellars, and out from their burrowing places where a ray of sunlight never enters -- where pure air is never breathed -- the sad procession would reach from the Battery to Harlem. Whose sympathy would not be moved to its depths at such a sight? yet these unfortunate creatures are here all around us, packed in their miserable abodes in a manner which surpasses belief.There are blocks not over 400 feet square that contain about twice as many people as the whole of Fifth avenue. The Fourth Ward, in which this Mission is located, contains about 50 acres (35 to 40 small blocks), yet its population would make a larger city than Utica, N.Y., or three such cities as Saratoga Springs.One tenant house in it (Gotham Court) often contains over 1,000 of these poor creatures. On one little spot near the Mission, 240 feet by 150, there are 20 tenant-house, 111 families, 5 stables, a soap and candle factory, and a tan-yard. There are less than two dwelling-houses in the ward for each rum-hole.

Gotham Court

An attempt was made in the late 1800's to provide better living conditions in this area of Cherry Hill known as Gotham Court. Formerly it was the site of the notorious Paradise Alley which was the backdrop for part of Kevin Baker's novel of that name

Down The Back Alleys Of The Fourth Ward

from Jacob Riis', "From How The Other Half Lives"
This slum area which was southwest of the Five Points was known as Cherry Hill. It formerly was a fashionable era in the late 1700's and early 1800's.

Down Town Back Alleys2

Chestnut Street

The article describes some of the buildings seen in this picture
Chestnut Street

Elizabeth Jennings At Chatham Square

from black history every month
from fox sports network's series of vignettes that chronicle compelling stories of African Americans
from the The New York State Council for the Social Studies
On July 14, 1854, Elizabeth Jennings and her friend, Sarah Adams, walked to the corner of Pearl and Chatham streets in lower Manhattan. They planned to take a horse-drawn street car along Third Avenue to church.

Instead, they entered into the pages of history. Elizabeth was a young African American woman who taught black children in New York City’s racially segregated public schools. Her father Thomas L. Jennings was a leading local abolitionist. An account of what happened to Elizabeth was presented on July 17 at a protest meeting at the First Colored Congregational Church in New York City. Elizabeth wrote the statement but did not speak because she was recovering from injuries. Peter Ewell, the meeting’s secretary, read Elizabeth’s testimony to the audience. The group passed resolutions protesting what happened to Elizabeth and sent copies to the New York Tribune and Frederick Douglass’ Paper. Both newspapers printed Elizabeth’s account and the resolutions of protest. At the meeting at the First Colored Congregational Church, a Black Legal Rights Association was formed to investigate possible legal action. Elizabeth Jennings decided to sue the street car company. She was represented in court by a young white attorney named Chester A. Arthur, who later became a military officer during the Civil War and a politician. In 1880, Chester A. Arthur was elected Vice-President of the United States and he became president when James Garfield was murdered in 1881. The court case was successful. The judge instructed the jury that transit companies had to respect the rights all respectable people and the jury awarded Elizabeth Jennings money for damages. While she had asked for $500 in her complaint, some members of the jury resisted granting such a large amount because she was “colored.” In the end, Elizabeth Jennings received $225 plus an additional ten percent for legal expenses.

Elizabeth Jennings, New York's Rosa Parks

from black history every month
The video above is new but the rest is from 12/12/05 from pseudo-intellectualism
Actually, it should be titled, "Alabama's Elizabeth Jennings." In my blog hiatus I missed this article in the Times' by LES journalist Katharine Greider. I guess that's one advantage of having a Times' subscription is that I can access the archives now through the premium upgrade. Here's the excellent article.

The cartoon images from the slide show come from Patrick Reynold's great collection
of New York City history called the Big Apple Almanac

Singing We Shall Not Be Moved is Malvina Reynolds
We shall not, we shall not be moved
We shall not, we shall not be moved
Just like a tree that's standing by the water
We shall not be moved

We shall not, we shall not be moved
We shall not, we shall not be moved
The union is behind us,
We shall not be moved

We shall not, we shall not be moved
We shall not, we shall not be moved
We're fighting for our freedom,
We shall not be moved

We shall not, we shall not be moved
We shall not, we shall not be moved
We're fighting for our children,
We shall not be moved

We shall not, we shall not be moved
We shall not, we shall not be moved
We'll building a mighty union,
We shall not be moved

We shall not, we shall not be moved
We shall not, we shall not be moved
Black and white together,
We shall not be moved

We shall not, we shall not be moved
We shall not, we shall not be moved
Young and old together,
We shall not be moved

What Used To Be Across From 7 Madison Street

The House At 7 Madison Street

from a great book on NYC history, "As You Pass By." by Kenneth Dunshee
Unfortunately this beauty no longer exists

Thursday, June 25, 2009

I Want To Rock With You LES

Originally posted back in December of 2007, but here I took advantage of youtube's bigger screen size to make it more visible. A h/t to Michael Jackson and Howie

Alumni Sports Media Roundtable at Stuyvesant High School : 6/24/09

The KV Colonel and my beloved ex-boss Dr. Ringel sent me info on this
The Stuyvesant High School Alumni Association invites you to the first-ever Alumni Sports Media Roundtable at Stuyvesant High School on Wednesday, June 24th, 2009. Join your friends, classmates, fellow alumni, faculty and students for an evening of great stories, snappy dialogue and fun. The panelists include Len Berman '64, Sam Marciano '85 and Sam Rosen '64 while the moderator will be Dave Cohen '68. All the participants have distinguished themselves in the world of sports media. Len Berman is best known as the former sports anchor at NBC for more than two decades in New York City; Sam Marciano is the anchor for the MLB website; Sam Rosen is the voice of the New York Rangers and the NFL; and Dave Cohen is the former radio announcer for the New York Yankees.

I had graduated with Berman and Rosen(zweig) but only knew Berman. He was in my homeroom class. I never liked Berman much and seeing him again bore out my original impressions. Pre-talk he spent a little (very little) time with the alumns and quickly escaped to hang with Cohen, Rosen and Marchiano. It was my first time at the new Stuyvesant and probably my last. They preserved a room from the original one there (some of the slides in the slide show). Berman mentioned that it was his English teacher and mine, Sterling Jensen, who provided inspiration for his broadcast career. Jensen said he had a great voice and should develop it. Looking back, my Stuyvesant HS teachers weren't so special. With the exception of Kahn, Gluck, Finkel, Schwartz, Schindelheim and Goodman many were pretty mean-spirited and uninspiring. I missed Frank McCourt by a few years.
I found Jensen' times' obituary
Published: Thursday, December 9, 1993
Sterling B. Jensen, an actor and mime who helped found the Roundabout Theater, died yesterday in the Touro Infirmary in New Orleans. He was 68 and lived in New Orleans. The cause was congestive heart failure, said his wife, Esther Ewing Jensen. Mr. Jensen was born in San Diego. He earned bachelor's and master's degrees in drama from San Diego State University. In World War II, he saw combat with the Army in New Guinea and the Philippines. In 1965, Mr. Jensen helped found the Roundabout Theater and, in its first production, played Adolf in "The Father," by Strindberg. His many roles with the Roundabout in the 60's and early 70's included Lieutenant Osborne in "Journey's End," Vanya in "Uncle Vanya," the King in "Pelleas and Melisande" and the title role in "King Lear." He also taught creative writing and acting at Stuyvesant High School. In addition to his wife, he is survived by two stepdaughters, Elizabeth Wynne-Martin of New Orleans and Esther Wynne-Wilson of Hardin, Mont., and five grandchildren. He made his Broadway debut in 1955 as a telephone operator in "The Desk Set." In the late 50's, he joined the Mime Theater of Etienne Decroux.

Berman and others were decrying the death of the major broadcast and print media outlets. I feel bad about the loss of the behind scene jobs they provided as well. But I wish I would have had the nerve to ask the question, "Perhaps if those outlets were more truthful about what was happening in the world they wouldn't have fallen victim to the vast and different information available on the internet." Marchiano mentioned how hurt she felt when McGwire and others broke all those records. I can't believe that some of those writers and broadcasters as well as managers and team officials didn't know what was really going on. Although this blurb from a piece from broadcast union news on Marchiano's force retirement sounds like the sad state of affairs for experienced workers everywhere
Marchiano's termination is more about what's happening in the local TV news business than it was about his performance. Industry sources say all six local stations, which for decades were cash registers, are losing money - big money. This has led to cutbacks. It has also led to major players, including local sports anchors making mid six-figures and up, either taking drastic pay cuts or, in Marchiano's case, being fired.
For years now, local sportscasters have been on the endangered species list. Many news directors - some genuflecting to consultants who have mistaken New York City for Iowa City - have attached a low priority to their nightly sportscasts.
"The sports guys are tolerated, but minimized. But the local sportscasts are still important. We are all still viable because we offer, through highlights and commentary, a local slant....That's why I lasted for (over) 40 years," Marchiano said. "Look, I'm not the greatest guy there ever was, but the point is you knew it was me. I'm known by first name."
Familiarity has been devalued. The suits would rather bring in a rotating cast of know-nothing wannabes practiced in the art of awful ad-libs, smarmadukes who have no connection with their audience and no feeling for the marketplace.
Now, there is not even a trace of bitterness in Marchiano's voice. Considering that other local sportscasters, on the outside looking in, still constantly complain about their demise, this is fairly remarkable. Or is it? Marchiano said he ain't looking back, only ahead to the next gig.
Four months ago, he had emergency knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus and is finishing up his rehabilitation. Soon, he will head for South Florida to visit friends.
"But I'm only a phone call away. It's peculiar not going in to do a sportscast every night," he said. "What I dwell upon is my brand, which is familiarity and credibility. So, I'm hanging out my shingle."
All of a sudden, it seemed like it was around 10:50 p.m. on Ch. 11. He blasted Woody Johnson for not meeting with Bill Cowher. Tore up the Giants' and Jets' PSL plans. And wondered who would fill all those expensive seats at Citi Field and the new Yankee Stadium.
Right then you hoped someone with a clue would do the right thing.
And return Sal Marchiano back where he belongs.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Guido Deiro: World's Foremost Accordionist

from the youtube description #1 The Overture from I Capuleti e I Montecchi.(Bellini) Performed by: Count Guido Deiro (1886 - 1950) Italian born composer and Vaudeville headliner who introduced (1910), named and popularized the piano-accordion in America. The first to play the instrument onstage, on the radio, in film (Vitaphone) and sound recordings (Edison). Known as the virtuoso of the accordion he was the first accordionist to play the "Palace" and composed the theme music for the Broadway hit "Kismet". Deiro discovered, professionally developed and married the teenaged Mae West. They performed on the same bill for nearly four years.(1913-1916). This 1929 Vitaphone is the first sound on film of the piano-accordion and is Part 1 of two selections. See www.guidodeiro.com for illustrated pages on the making of this Vitaphone
developing and marrying Mae West? now that's an accomplishment

Italian Theater And Music Of The Sixth Ward, 2

Source: A Passion for Polka: Old-Time Ethnic Music in America (Hardcover)
Italian Music

Italian Theater And Music Of The Sixth Ward

Source: The Italian-American Immigrant Theatre in New York City (Images of America: New York) (Paperback) by Emelise Aleandri (Author)
Italian Theater

Pete Hamill Remembers His Brooklyn Neighborhood

from nymagazine of September 2008
pete-hamill-bklyn The sense of community he describes echoes some of the fond memories of KV. I've read many of his books and read his Vietnam era nypost columns religiously, but I have ambivalent feelings about him. Maybe some day I'll write about that.

117 Madison Street: Then? And Now

The site of Dr. Amos Pollard's Fourth Ward residence. Perhaps in 1834 when Pollard lived there the building may have looked like the historic 51 Market Street house.

1954 Journal American Baseball Cards

Journal Cards

Pete Hamill: North River

Continuing the Journal American thread, since the New York Post inherited the building. Hamill worked for the Post. The audio is from a Sept. 2007 interview from npr . I matched it up NYPost front pages.
The first chapter of Hamill's book.
Delaney knew he'd been in the dream before, knew from the hurting whiteness, the icy needles that closed his eyes, the silence, the force of the river wind. But knowing it was a dream did not ease his fear. As before, he waved his bare hands to push through the whiteness, but as before the whiteness was porous and he knew it was snow. As before, there was no horizon. As before, his feet floated through frozen powder. There was no ground beneath him. There was nothing to grip. No picket fence. No lamppost. And no people.
No friend.
No woman.
As before: just the driving force of the snow . . .
Then he was awake in the blue darkness. A sound. A bell. His hand clumsy with sleep, he lifted the black telephone on the night table. Still dead. Someone at the wrought iron gate below the stoop was jerking the old bell rope, making an urgent ding- dinging sound. A sound he had heard too many times. Shivering in cotton summer- time pajamas, he threw off the covers. Ding-ding-DING. The window shade was raised a foot, the window two inches, part of Delaney's desire for fresh air on the coldest winter nights. Drifted snow covered the oaken sill. He raised the shade and could see the snow moving horizontally from the North River. The wind whined. A midnight snowfall was now a dawn blizzard. Ripping in from the west along Horatio Street. Goddamn you, Monique! Answer the goddamned bell! And remembered that his nurse was gone for the long New Year's holiday, off somewhere with her boyfriend. Delaney pulled a flannel robe over his shoulders and parted the dark blue drapes, as if obeying the orders of the downstairs bell. Ding- ding. Ding- ding- DING. He glanced at the clock. Six-seventeen. The bell demanding attention. On a day of morning sleep all over New York. He raised the window, its glass rimed with the cold. Snow blew harder across the sill. He poked his head into the driving snow and looked down. At the gate under the stoop, a man was pulling the rope attached to the bell. Delaney knew him. A man who looked like an icebox in an overcoat. Bootsie, they called him. Bootsie Cirillo. Snow was piled on his pearl-gray fedora and the shoulders of his dark blue overcoat. At the sound of the window rising, he had stepped back and was now looking up.
"Doc? Eddie Corso sent me, Doc." His voice was raspy. "He needs you. Right now."
"Give me five minutes," Delaney said.
"Make it t'ree."
Delaney sighed, closed the window, and dressed quickly in rough clothes. Thinking: These goddamned hoods are worse since the movies got sound. Make it t'ree. Christ, I'm too old for these guys. He pulled a sweater over his denim shirt, added a scarf and a cloth cap with a longshoreman's pin. A gift from Knocko Carmody of the dock wallopers' union. Delaney pulled on bridgemen's shoes and took his time lacing them. Then he pocketed keys, some dollar bills, picked up his worn black leather bag, and went down the hall stairs to go out through the gate under the stoop. The snow hit his face, again like needles. Again he closed his eyes. The dream, the goddamned dream . . . all the way from the last years of the nineteenth century.
"You took too much time, Doc," Bootsie said. "This is fucking bad." He turned and shook the snow off his fedora and used it to brush powder off his shoulders. Snow was gathering on the roof and hood of the black Packard that was two feet from the curb. Bootsie jerked open the door on the passenger side, gesturing with his head for Delaney to get in, then moved around to take the wheel.
"We're late," he said.
"I did my best, Bootsie," Delaney said, sliding into the front seat and closing the door. The fat man started the car and pulled out, the snow rising loosely from the hood. Bootsie drove east on Horatio Street, the wind whipping hard behind them. There was no traffic. The car skidded on the turn at Hudson Street.
"Maybe I should walk," Delaney said.
"Eddie's maybe nine blocks from here."
"He's a thousand miles from here if you get us killed, Bootsie."
The fat man grunted, slowed down. The window was foggy from their breathing, and Bootsie took out a white silk handkerchief and wiped at it. Then handed the handkerchief to Delaney. The doctor wiped at the steamy front window on his side, then rolled the side window down an inch. Bootsie grunted.
"How come you don't got a car?" Bootsie said. "You could follow me."
"Can't afford it."
"Come on. You're a doctor."
"That's why I can't afford it."
"These bust- outs around here, they don't pay?"
"They're poor, Bootsie. They still get sick."
The fat man turned, made a right and another right, heading toward Little Italy. A few kids were coming down from the tenements. One of them was carrying a surplice, its hem emerging below a wrapping of Christmas paper, the boy off to serve the seven o'clock mass at Sacred Heart. As Delaney so often did, long ago. He noticed that up here the streetlights were still working. Another zone in the city grid. Another world.
"What happened to Eddie?"
"You'll fi nd out."
"Maybe I could get ready if you told me what happened."
Bootsie sighed, pondered this, made another turn through the snow- packed streets. Parked cars were turning into immense white sculptures in the wind- driven snow.
"Mr. Corso got shot, maybe an hour ago."
"The stomach. Maybe the arm too. And maybe the hand. There's blood all over his fingers . . ."
"I mean, where'd it happen?"
"The club. We had a New Year's party, all the guys, the wives. A band too, and all the usual shit, noisemakers, funny hats. Most people go home, maybe t'ree in the morning. Some of the guys go over Chinatown to get laid. Then there's a card game, whiskey, a big pot. I cook up some breakfast, scramble eggs, sausage, the usual. Then in the door comes t'ree jaboneys, guns out. They don't say a word. They just start shooting. Then everybody's shooting. The t'ree shooters go down, but so does Mr. Corso. He's hurt real bad, but he says, 'Go throw these cocksuckers in the river.' I stay with him while the other guys haul the dead guys away. It's still dark, see? Nobody on the street. All the lights out. No cops. Nothing. Just the fucking snow."
He pulled up a few doors from the storefront housing the Good Men Social and Athletic Club. The street was empty. He and Delaney got out. Bootsie knocked on the door. Three fast raps, then two. A sallow man with dead eyes peered out, opened the door wider. Most of the lights were out.
"Took your fuckin' time," the sallow man said to Bootsie.
"Fast as I could, Carmine. It's a fuckin' blizzard out there."
The club was a mess of noisemakers, funny hats, overturned ta- bles, and blood. Delaney could see smears through the blood where bodies had been dragged. Against the wall, Eddie Corso was lying on a cot. He smiled thinly when he saw Delaney.
"Medic, medic," he whispered, and then grinned in a bleary way.
There was blood on his face, probably from his wet crimson hand, but there was a huge spreading stain of blood on the white shirt.
"Jesus, it hurts like a bastard, Doc."
"You've been through worse."
He grinned. "Morphine, morphine . . ." The call of the trenches in the rain. "Please, Doc . . ."
Corso laughed and then moaned, and Delaney gave him what he needed. He swabbed his arm with cotton soaked in alcohol, prepared a syringe, then injected him with a shot of morphine. Corso winced, then sighed in a gargly way. Delaney ripped open the bloody shirt to look at the worst wound, then used pressure and tape to staunch the bleeding.
"You've got to go to a hospital, Eddie."
"A hospital? You nuts? You might as well drive me to the Daily News." His voice was quavering and whispery with morphine. "This can't get out. This -"
"I can't do what you need, Eddie," Delaney said. "You need a surgeon."
"You did it in the Argonne, Doc!"
"And botched it for too many guys."
"You didn't botch it for me!"
"You need a professional surgeon, Eddie. Someone whose right hand works right, not like mine. Someone at St. Vincent's."
"Anybody comes in shot, the nuns call the cops."
"Let me see what I can do," Delaney said. "Your phone working?"
"Yeah," Bootsie said. "Over there."
Delaney called St. Vincent's, identifi ed himself, asked which surgeons were on duty, and held on. His eyes moved around the club, the blood and disorder, and Eddie Corso moaning, and the sallow man guarding the door, and Bootsie nibbling at some cake left on the bar. His gaze fell on the framed photographs of prizefi ghters and ballplayers, of old picnics, feasts, weddings, and then on the browning photograph of the remnant of the battalion. In a gouged field in France. All of them were still young, the farm boys and the city rats, and he could see Eddie Corso laughing like a man who'd won a lottery, always joking, as brave as any man Delaney had ever known. He saw himself too, off on the side, with his medic's armband, his face gaunt, a cigarette in his good right hand.
"Hello, hello," came the voice on the phone. "This is Dr. Zimmerman."
"Thank God," Delaney said, relieved that it was this particular young intern. "Jake, I need a big favor."
It was after eleven when Bootsie dropped him off at the house on Horatio Street. They had taken Eddie Corso through an old delivery entrance at the side of the hospital and hurried him into surgery. If he lived, there would be no records. If he died, it didn't matter. Around ten, Jake Zimmerman came out, young and bony and frazzled, and told Delaney with a nod and a thin smile that Eddie would survive. The nuns would bring him along after the operation, adhering to their own special vows of silence.
"By the way," Zimmerman said, "where'd your patient get those scars? One on the back, one on the leg?"
"The Argonne," Delaney said. "I sewed him up. That's why it looks so bad."
"The Argonne?"
"You never told me that."
"It was a long time ago, Jake."
In another life.
Now he was on Horatio Street, with the snow still blowing hard. Bootsie's exhausted breathing had fogged the windows. Delaney opened the door.
"Thanks, Bootsie," he said.
"Thank you, Doc."
Then he reached over and touched Delaney's arm.
"You're a good fuckin' man, Doc."
"I wish," Delaney said, and stepped into the driving snow.
He looked up at the small brick house, the one he'd been given at her death by Evelyn Langdon. Ten years ago now, in a good year, before the goddamned Depression. She was the last of the old Protestant families who had come to the street in the 1840s, fl eeing cholera and the Irish, building their impregnable brick and brownstone fortresses. He had kept her alive until she was seventy- three. She had outlived her two children and all of her friends. When she died and the will was read, there was a note to Delaney, explaining that the house was now for him and his wife, Molly, and his daughter, Grace. You have been my last and perhaps truest friend. Please use this house to enrich human life.
Well, I did try, he thought as he opened the iron front gate under the stoop, remembering Evelyn's note. I tried, and too often failed. Most of all, I've failed those I loved the most.
Then he noticed the disturbed snow on the stoop itself, and, at the top, a fog rising on the tall glass windows of the vestibule. It was like Bootsie's fog in the car, a streaky, uneven fog made by breathing. He hurried up the steps, gripping the iron banister with his good left hand. Foot marks were drifted over with fresh snow. He glanced back to the street, but Bootsie was gone.
The vestibule door was unlocked. It was always unlocked, so that in bad weather the boy from Reilly's candy store could drop off the newspapers. In the left corner, he glimpsed the Times, the News, the Mirror. Maybe the footprints belonged to the newspaper boy. Maybe.
Then, pushing the door open a few inches, he saw the baby stroller. It was worn and ratty with age, strands of its wicker hood sprung and loose. Like something bought at a secondhand shop. Under a pile of covers, his head wrapped in a green scarf and a yellow wool hat, was a child.
He knew this boy with the wide, wary brown eyes. He had not seen him since the boy was six days old, another unformed infant huddled in the nursery of New York Hospital. But he had his mother's eyes, and her blond hair. That morning Grace had let him hold the boy, saying only that the boy's father, Rafael Santos of Cuernavaca, Mexico, was out running errands. She was not even seventeen that morning, his and Molly's only child. Now a child with a child. Smart, gifted, spoiled, but a child. Like ten thousand other young mothers in New York. When Delaney returned to the hospital, late the next morning, she and the baby were gone. Almost three years now. The postcards came for a while. From Key West. From Cuba. Later Grace wrote a longer letter from Mexico, telling Delaney and Molly that all three Santoses had boarded a ship to Veracruz, with stops along the way. I tried calling before we left, she wrote. Nobody was home. Molly read the letter fi rst, then slapped it against Delaney's chest. "Spoiled rotten," she said. "By you." There were a few more letters, cryptic or guarded, as if Grace was afraid of having them read by anyone else. And then the letters stopped. It was like an erasure on a charcoal drawing. Grace was there in his life, and in Molly's, but not there. He never did meet the goddamned husband.
He unlocked the inner vestibule door and wheeled the silent boy into the hall, closing doors firmly behind him. His own bedroom was to the left on the street side, the former parlor converted long ago by some forgotten inhabitant, with the former bedroom now full of chairs and couches, looking out on the back garden. Sliding oak doors separated the rooms, but the parquet fl oors stretched from front windows to rear like a dense oaken plain. He gently freed the boy from the blankets, thinking: Goddamned swaddling clothes. The boy had a lighter version of his mother's dark blond hair, and he gazed up at Delaney in silence. And then Delaney saw the letter on the boy's lap. Addressed DADDY. Sealed. He dropped it on the bed. Thinking: I'll read this later, but not in front of the boy. I don't want him to see my rage. She will explain herself, of course, but I can't stop now. He slipped off his heavy clothes and felt a chilly dampness penetrating the room. Thinking: Build a fire. He lifted the child, breathing hard on the boy's cold cheeks. Then the boy moved his arms. His face looked as if he had a toothache.
"Mamá," he said, waving a freed hand toward the door. With an accent on the second syllable. "Mamá?"
"We'll find her, boy. Don't worry."
The boy was wearing a pale blue snowsuit with a dark blue sweater underneath, and Delaney removed it and then lifted him and placed him standing beside the bed, his feet planted on the threadbare Persian rug. Carlos. His name is Carlos. A good weight. Maybe twentynine, thirty pounds. A healthy weight. Clear skin too. Small white teeth. He smelled of milk. The boy stood there, a hand on the mattress, gazing around at the strange high- ceilinged room, with its electric lights rising from the channels of old gas lamps, the dark glazed paintings on the walls, the dresser that held Delaney's clothes. The boy was looking at the two framed photographs on top of the dresser. Delaney's wife, Molly, when she was twenty-five. Grace, when she was sixteen, about the time she met Rafael Santos somewhere out in the city. Delaney thought: The boy has intelligent eyes. Yes. His mother's eyes.
"Mamá!" the boy said, pointing. "Mamá!"
"Yes," Delaney said, "that's your mama."
The coals were ashen gray in the fireplace, and Delaney squatted, crumpled an old newspaper, built a small house of kindling, struck a match. He thought: What the hell is this, anyway? I've treated about three thousand kids this size, this age, but I don't know a goddamned thing about taking care of them. Not even for a day. I didn't even know how to take care of my own daughter when she was this boy's age. I went to the war instead. The boy watched him, his dark eyes widening as the flame erupted. He glanced back at the photograph, then looked again at the fi re, as Delaney used a shovel to lift a few chunks of coal from the scuttle. Delaney felt his right shoulder begin to ache. Not from the cold. But he would have to do something to keep the boy warm in this large, drafty house. In the good years before the Crash, Delaney had installed a hot-water system in the house, not easy because it was built in 1840. Before he could convert the house to steam heat, the banks had failed, taking his money with them. The heat still belonged to the nineteenth century. Wood and paper and coal in a manteled fi replace. The boy seemed to love it, flexing his small hands for warmth. I've got to feed him too. But almost no restaurants would be open on New Year's Day. Not until tonight. He must need to eat. Christ, I need to eat. Breakfast. Christ, no: lunch.
"How about some food, Carlos?" Delaney said. "I think I've got cornflakes and eggs and stuff like that."
The boy looked at him blankly, and Delaney realized that he didn't understand the words. For almost three years, they had been in Mexico, where the boy's father had family and friends. They surely had spoken to him each day in Spanish, even Grace. So had the maids. And the cook. For Santos was not a peasant, according to Grace's meager letters. He came from money, as so many revolutionists did. Delaney knew a few words in the language, but he wished he and Molly had spent their European time in a land of vowels, instead of among the consonants of Vienna.
"Quiere . . . comer?" he said, making a spooning motion with his empty hand.
The boy nodded, Delaney took his hand. I'll have to keep him off these stairs. Have to buy some of those folding gates. I'll have to do a lot of things.
The boy ate two bowls of cornflakes and kept sipping from a cup of cocoa. He was watching Delaney, as if trying to understand who this strange man was. And where they were now, in this vast house. He started to imitate Delaney too, shifting his spoon awkwardly from hand to hand, the spoon too large, slopping the wet flakes on the table, spilling some milk. His mother must have fed him for too long. Or a maid. Spoiling him rotten. The boy was propped up on a cushion, and his eyes kept glancing from Delaney through the two kitchen windows to the yard. Glancing at the blinding whiteness.
"O," the boy said, gesturing with the spoon.
Delaney followed his gesture.
"O," the boy said.
Delaney smiled, suddenly understanding.
"Yes, that's snow."
Thinking: At least your mother found time to teach you one word of English. You probably never saw snow before this morning. And your mother waved a hand and said its name. Before abandoning you in a goddamned doorway.
"Want to see the snow?"
Delaney got up and lifted the boy off his cushion.
"Wait," he said, groping for the words of the Cuban orderlies at the hospital. Wait. What was the word? And said it: "Espérate."
Delaney climbed the hall stairs two at a time, retrieved the boy's wool cap and new hooded jacket with mittens attached, and came back down, again wearing his winter clothes. The boy was at a window, squinting at the glaring snow.
"Let's go," Delaney said, pulling on the jacket, shoving the boy's hands into the mittens, tying the hood under his chin. "Vamos, boy. Let's see the snow."
He opened the door leading to the outside shed. This was the place of everything that didn't fit anywhere else: shelves stacked with boxes of detergent; stacks of old magazines and newspapers, tied with twine; unused Christmas decorations; milk bottles; a rake hanging on a nail; a wide- bladed snow shovel; a large red toolbox. Most of the space was taken by Delaney's Arrow bicycle, its pedals and gears wrapped tightly in oiled cloth. He and the boy eased past the bicycle to a second door, leading to the yard. Delaney had to push hard on the door to move the piled snow.
Then it was before them, and the boy took a deep breath and exhaled. The North River wind was not as strong here, the buildings making a brick- walled fortress of the backyards. But it still had the magical power to whirl snow into small mountains, some of them taller than the boy. The rosebushes were blocky and irregular and white. And the olive tree, a gift from Mr. Nobiletti, the shoemaker, stood in its corner, wrapped for the winter in tar paper, so white it seemed like a giant ice-cream cone. The bases of the three fences had vanished under drifts. Delaney reached down and made a snowball.
"Snowball," he said, hefting it for the boy to see.
"O-baw," the boy said.
With his left hand, Delaney lobbed it toward the nearest fence, where it exploded in powder. He said, again, "Snowball!" The boy was awed. Delaney made another and threw it harder against the back fence. A snowy bas- relief fell off the fence. Now Delaney's lower right arm ached, though he had not used it for throwing. The boy pulled some snow off a small mountain and tried to make it into a ball. The fi rst ball crumbled in his hands. Then he tried another, and this one was packed better, and he threw it about two feet and saw it vanish into another small mountain. He laughed in delight.
He made another snowball and threw it, and another and another. Always with the left hand. Delaney understood why he kept shifting spoons over his cornfl akes. Looks like we've got a southpaw here. Like his grandmother. Like Molly.
"O-baw!" the boy squealed. "O-baw."
He looked at Delaney, as if trying to decide how far he could go. Delaney smiled. And then the boy dove into one of the snow mountains and rolled and pummeled the snow with his arms and kicked with his small legs.
"O! O! O! O!"
The boy fell asleep in his arms as he carried him up the stairs. Delaney laid him on his own unmade bed and removed the heavy clothes and the shoes. The boy came suddenly awake, his eyes taking in the strange room and Delaney's face. He didn't move and looked afraid.
"Mamá? Dónde está Mamá?"
"Don't worry. She's coming back."
Thinking: She'd better come back. Fast. I can't do this. He felt a wash of dread. Something out of rainy dawns with fixed bayonets. Thinking: I must read the letter. Afraid of it too. Thinking: I want to hit someone. Anyone. But not this boy.
"Everything's okay," Delaney said softly. "Todo bien, Carlos."
The boy's eyes moved around the room. His left hand went to his
"Oh, okay, I understand, come on."
He lifted the boy and took him to the bathroom between the bedroom and the living room. He lifted the seat and helped the boy stand on the ceramic rim of the toilet. Delaney thought: I need to get a box in here. A cheese box, low and fl at and strong. I can paint it red. Or maybe yellow. What else do I need? What does the boy need that I cannot give him? When the boy was finished, Delaney showed him the chain for flushing and how to do it, and then turned on the hot water in the sink. He washed with a facecloth, and then the boy took the warm, wet cloth and washed his own face. Delaney dried him, lifted him, and took him back to the bed. He covered the boy with sheet and blanket, and the boy pushed his face into the pillow. He was still for a long moment. Then he sobbed.
"Mamá, Mamá, dónde está?" he murmured.
Delaney went to the boy and sat beside him. The boy's need and uncertainty - perhaps even fear - were almost tangible. He patted the boy on the back, swift, steady pats like an extra pulse, and spoke in a low voice. It's all right, boy. You're safe here. You will eat. You will sleep. Your mama will be back. But as the child's sobs ended, Delaney could sense unspoken questions rising in the warming air: Where am I, and who is this man, and where is my mother? He placed his hand firmly on the boy's back, steadying him the way he had steadied so many people who were injured, hurting, confused, and full of fear. On beds all over the neighborhood. At last the child fell into sleep.
The clock told Delaney it was two thirty-seven in the afternoon. The end of a very long morning. He stood up as silently as possible and put some fresh coals on the fi re. And now? What now? The letter. I must read the letter from Grace. He fought off a shimmer of dread by thinking only of the immediate needs of the boy. I can lay out a bed for him on the floor, made of blankets and pillows, just for tonight. Or take him to one of the two bedrooms upstairs. But what if he wakes up in the dead of night? I can't have him roaming the stairs in the dark. Christ . . .
His own exhaustion was eating at him now. As he undressed and donned pajamas, he wondered about Eddie Corso. About who shot him and why. About whether he would live. As always, questions but no answers. He'd have to wait. The nuns had taken Eddie into their consoling hands. Now he had other things to do. Or one big thing. He had to read the fucking letter.