Monday, April 30, 2012

(Z) Zodiac Mindwarp and the Love Reaction

I first discovered Zodiac Mindwarp and the Love Reaction in 1987.  They played a song called "Prime Mover" on the radio.  Zodiac Mindwarp and the Love Reaction are a British Rock band that had their first hit "Wild Child" in 1986.

Zodiac Mindwarp and the Love Reaction play a sleazy style of commercial hard rock.  The camp lyrics are intended as self-parody, and can be seen as either humorous by those who "get the joke", or offensive by those who think they are serious.  Often they have a lascivious and misogynistic tone.

Here are some lyrics to Prime Mover.

Well I'm Christ In Shades, I'm A Napalm God
Your lipstick flickers round my lightning rod
Your fever pitch bitch, you love to tease
Well I'm a hot dog daddy, up on your knees
Sex Fuhrer baby I'm a Love Dictator
Blitzkrieg romance I'm a living detonator

...OK so you get the gist of the groups humor.  For those who are not prudish and love a good 'inside joke'.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

(Y) Yellow

Yellow is my favorite color.  I wish everything in my house could be this color but it isn't.  I can't wear this color, it doesn't look good on me.  But it doesn't stop me from loving it.

Yellow things I love:

Yellow Roses
Fall Trees

Yellow things I don't love:

Bumble Bees

I am waiting for my son to move out. I still have a few years yet.  But I am planning on switching rooms with my daughter and I will redo that room with a yellow shabby chic theme.  Hey let me dream, I have about 3 or 4 more years before my son graduates, finds a job and moves out.

Friday, April 27, 2012

(X) Xenophobia in Literature

X another impossible letter.  I am doing a take of what I did last year.  Last year I did Xenophobia in Film.  This year I tackle books.

One book that deals with Xenophobia is "New York: A Novel" by Edward Rutherfurd.  This book spans the birth of New York (17th century) until 2009.  There is a lot of subtle Xenophobia in this book.  The sufferes were the immigrants (Irish and Italian).  Another book that deals with Italian immagrants is "Elizabeth Street" by Laurie Fabiano.  I started reading "The Immigrants" by Howard Fast.  From what I was able to tell, this book deals with all types of Immigrants during the early part of the 20th century.

xenophobia (plural xenophobias)
  1. A fear of strangers or foreigners.
  2. A strong antipathy or aversion to strangers or foreigners.

Xenophobia  is still alive and well. Most people I know have the fear of people from the Middle East. It is understandable but unfair.  It is unfair to group a peoples because of what a few do or have done.    

One would think living in the United States and a place like New York City would jade a person of foreigners because we are the Melting Pot.  Fear is a hard thing to overcome.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

(W) Wreck This Jornal

From Amazon:
For anyone who's ever wished to, but had trouble starting, keeping, or finishing a journal or sketchbook comes Wreck This Journal, an illustrated book that features a subversive collection of prompts, asking readers to muster up their best mistake- and mess-making abilities to fill the pages of the book (and destroy them). Acclaimed illustrator Keri Smith encourages journalers to engage in "destructive" acts-poking holes through pages, adding photos and defacing them, painting with coffee, and more-in order to experience the true creative process. Readers discover a new way of art and journal making-and new ways to escape the fear of the blank page and fully engage in the creative process.

Here are some of my "wrecking"

 The Cover (objective was to doodle over it)

Add Your Own Page Numbers

 Doodle over the Instruction Page

Tear Strips rip it up!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

(V) Violin

I learned to play the viola when I was 10. I was pretty good. Then by the time I was 15 I had stopped. Other things got in the way (i.e. boys).

As an adult I thought I would take it up again. However, I switched to the violin. I was able to play the violin, the viola and the cello when I was younger.  The violin and viola are similar except the viola is bigger and has lower notes.

I was about 39 when I took it up again. Boy was I BAD!  The screeching had the dogs crying.  I stuck with it for a while and I practiced, but I finally realized I no longer had the touch.  The violin was no longer for me.  I moved to my current stringed instrument...the guitar. Which by the way, I can play to some degree of proficiency.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

(U) Urban Legends

U is always a hard letter to do. Last year I did Urban Fiction, so this year I thought I'd do Urban Legends.

Here is a list of FALSE Urban Legends

Coca-Cola is an effective contraceptive
Donald Duck shouts racial epithet at Daffy Duck
Vitamin C users who eat shrimp risk death from arsenic poising
Microwaving foods in plastic containers releases cancer causing agents into food
NASA scientist discovered a lost day in time
A curse doomed the cast of bewitched to early deaths
Charles Manson auditioned for The Monkees

Monday, April 23, 2012

(T) Tenement Museum New York City

This summer I plan to visit some museums I've not visited before.  New York City is filled with many museums.  One of the ones I want to visit this summer is the Tenement Museum.  This is located on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

There is a Walking Tour:  The Museum's walking tours explore the Lower East Side and the American immigrant experience.  Featured walking tour is currently "Foods of the Lower East Side".

There is a Building Tour:  The Museum tells the story of immigrant families and visitors view restored apartments of past residents from different time periods.  Featured Building Tour is  "Irish Outsiders".

There is interaction:  Visit with a costumed interpreter playing one of the residents of 97 Orchard Street.

Tenement:  A tenement is, in most English-speaking areas, a substandard mult-family dwelling in the urban core, usually old and occupied by the poor.

New York City didn't invent the Tenement, they exist all over the world.

In Buenos Aires the tenements, call conventillos.
In Germany, the term corresponding to tenements is Miet(s)kaserne.

Germany Mietskaserne in 1959

Saturday, April 21, 2012

(S) Shalom Chaverim

One of my favorite songs. We sing this in our Catholic church during the Holy week.

Shalom Chaverim, shalom chaverim, Shalom, shalom
L’hit-rah-oat, L’hit-rah-oat
Shalom, shalom


Shalom my friends, shalom my friends, shalom, shalom
Till we meet again, till we meet again
Shalom, shalom.

Friday, April 20, 2012

(R) Radio City Rockettes

I never been to see this show in all my years on earth.  I finally went a in 2010.  I took my daughter, it was a great show.  They said 'No cameras' but I don't listen.
This was the Christmas show, and this was one of my favorite performances.  One of the good things about living in New York City is you can see things like this without having to travel far!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

(Q) Quo Vadis?

Quo Vadis is a 1951 epic film made by MGM in Technicolor.

The movie takes place in ancient Rome from AD 64-68.  After Emperor Claudius' powerful reign.  The main subject is the conflict between Christianity and the corruption of the roman empire.

This movie is often shown during the Easter season. I've only seen it once but it was very memorable.

This movie stars Robert Taylor and Deborah Kerr.

It was nominated for eight Oscars, but it didn't win any. Peter Ustinov won the Golden Globe for best Supporting Actor and he earned it.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

(P) Pencil Drawings

I haven't done any pencil drawings in a a while, but I thought I'd share some of my older drawings.

My daughter

Baby Viktoria

St. Raymond's RC Church, Bronx NY

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

(O) O Vos Omnes

O Vos Omnes is responsory, originally sung as part of Roman Catholic liturgies for Holy Week, and now often sung as a motet.  The text is adapted from the Latin Vulgate translation of Lamentations 1:12.  It was often set as part of the Tenebre Responsories for Holy Saturday.

O vos omnes qui transitis per viam, attendite et videte:  si est dolor sicut dolor meus...

Monday, April 16, 2012

(N) New York: A Novel

New York: A Novel by Edward Rutherfurd

The novel chronicles the birth and growth of New York City from the arrival of the first European colonists in the 17th century right up to the summer of 2009.  history progresses through the years, we meet more fictional families: the Irish O'Donnells, the German Kellers, the Italian Carusos, the Jewish Adlers, the Puerto Rican Campos's. Their intertwining stories, which include looks at the family cultural traditions of the various groups and intercultural relations, play out against the historical backdrop of the great city.

I listened to this on audiobook.  The narrator was wonderful. Though it was 37 hours long, it really went by quickly.  I lived in New York all of my life and thought I knew allot of its history, but listening to this book I realized that I didn't know as much as I thought.  Although this is a fictional story, Rutherfurd weaves the important parts of New York (and American) history within these pages.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

(M) Metallica

Another one of my favorite bands is Metallica.  I became a Metallica fan early on.  1986 was when I discovered them.  I had a neighbor who was in to heavy metal.  I had not really taken a liking to it prior to then. I was listening to "New Wave" music.  However, I was ready to branch out.  I didn't have a lot of money but I thought I would take a chance and buy their new album "Master of Puppets".  Well that did it...26 years later I'm still a fan.

The year I discovered them was the year Cliff Burton (bassist) died.  He was killed in a tour bus accident.  I was very saddened by this event and thought no one could take his place.  The band recruited Jason Newsted who proved to be a perfect match for the band.

I purchased all of their albums up until Reload (1997), then they kind of lost their touch.  However, I still listen to all of their stuff just to be fair and give it a listen before I decide if I like it or not.

This is a band that I can actually say "we grew up together."  They are slightly older than me, but we were young adults together and now we are middle age together.

Hoping they last for many more years.

Friday, April 13, 2012

(L) Led Zeppelin

One of my favorite bands. The first time I heard them I was 4 years old.  It was "Stairway to Heaven", it had just came out and they played the whole song on the radio. That was a big deal for the days when songs were no longer than 4 minutes long.

My favorite band member is Jimmy Page. He has always been my favorite since I started liking guys. I've been in love with him for 30 years.  I even have the tattoo of his symbol "ZOSO" on my back.

Led Zeppelin was active from 1968 - 1980 when their drummer John Bonham died.  They've since had reunion and John's son Jason sits in on drums.

Although after the breakup, the guys worked on their own projects and Robert Plant and Jimmy Page had solo fame in the 1980s, they have teamed up from time to time to work on other projects.

I have all their records on vinyl, and they are tucked away safe and sound.

I always had a problem with remakes of my favorite bands song.  "Stairway to Heaven" was remade and it was awful.  However, there is a recent remake of their song "Immigrant Song" that was featured in the American Remake of "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" is one I like and one I think they would approve of.  But there is nothing like the original song from the original band.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

(K) Kelso

This is an ancient Scottish locational surname.  It is either from the town of Kelso in Roxburghshire, or an estate known as Kelsoland.  It is also one of the earliest recorded surnames not just in Scotland but the whole British Isles, the name holders holding various positions of prominence in medieval times.

Locally (In Scotland) the name is known as Kelsae, thought to be derived from the Scots "Chalk Hill" in reference to the chalky soil of the land near the river at the west of the town.

A lot of African-Americans have surnames that were from their slave owners.  Kelso is not one of those names.  In my case, this is a family name.  Kelso was the last name of my great-great grandfather who was Scottish and lived in Upstate New York.  The name has made it all the way down to me and it will die with me in this line.  My brother, who would have been able to continue the line died many years ago.

As long as I am alive, I will wear the name proudly.  When I got divorced I took my last name back. And If I ever marry again, I will not change it.  This will be the name engraved on my tombstone.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

(J) Jonny Lang

Jonny Lang started playing the guitar at the age of 12.  Lang's noted for his unusual voice, which has been compared to that of a 40 year old blues veteran and for his guitar solos.
His genres are blues, jazz and gospel.

He came to my attention about two years ago when I heard his blues song "Darker Side", and this has become one of my favorite songs.

Lang has toured with the Rolling Stones, Buddy Guy, Aerosmith, B.B. King, Blues Traveler, Jeff Beck and Sting.  In 1999, he was invited to play for a White House audience including President and Mrs. Clinton.  Lang also makes a cameo appearance in the film Blues Brothers 2000 as a janitor.  In 2004, Eric Clapton asked Lang to play at the Crossroads Guitar Festival to raise money for the Crossroads Centre Antigua.

If you like or at least appreciate the blues, you will enjoy the music of Jonny Lang.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

(I) I.S. 181 - Pablo Casals Middle School

I have fond memories and not so fond memories of my time in Middle School or as my school was called - Intermediate School.  This school is located in Co-Op City in The Bronx, New York.  It goes from grades 5 - 8.  It's sister school is I.S. 180 Dr. Daniel Hale Williams Middle School, also located in Co-Op City in The Bronx.  The reason there were two middle schools were the development was so large, it needed two middle schools and three elementary schools.

I made a lot of great friends in this school, most of us went on to the same High School (which was also in Co-Op City).  I was also bullied in school.  I learned how to play the Viola in the 5th grade and played it up until 10th grade in High School.  We performed concerts and played at occasions.  There was also a band.

Looking at the photo, I'm getting anxiety.  I can't say I miss being in school, any school.

When I was attending it was still pretty good. That was from 1978-1981.

Things seemed to have changed since those days.  The school now services 6-8th Grade only.  This school was given the grade of "B" which is not bad for a Public School in The Bronx.

Things that haven't changed...there is still an orchestra. My orchestra teacher was a great man. His name is Robert Silberbush.  He taught me the viola from 6th to 10th grade.  He is still a music teacher but no longer teaches at this school.  I wrote him some time back and he actually remembered me.  It was nice to talk to him.  He also plays the trumpet.

Robert Silberbush is the tall man on the left.

Monday, April 9, 2012

(H) History in Asphalt

History in Asphalt: The Origin of Bronx Street and Place Names, Borough of the Bronx, New York City by John McNamara

Non Fiction books are my thing, but I rarely read a book that is laid out like an encyclopedia.  I really have to be interested in the subject.  I am currently reading one of these type of books.

History in Asphalt is a book that lists every street, avenue, cul de sac...etc., and the origin of its name.  There are a lot of streets in the Bronx and they all are named after something or someone.

I haven't found another book that has such detailed information. This was defiantly a labor of love.  As you may or may not know, I'm a fan of New York City history and I love to read just about any book that deals with the city.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

(G) Geneology

I have been looking into my family history for over 10 years.  I have been lucky to get a wealth of information.  Some of this information comes from, some from picking my mother's brain and my father's brain before he died.   The rest of my information came from family who have found me because of this endeavor.

Before I started, I had very limited information on both sides of the family.  Being an African American we tend to hit 'the wall' and we hit it early due to slavery and lack of records.  I've hit this wall on my mother's side because they hail from South Carolina.  The furthest I've been able to trace back on her side was to my great-great grandparents.  West King and Fannie Grabernale.  That was back to the year my great grandmother was born. My great grandmother was born on April 8, 1889 and her mother Fannie died on April 9, 1889.

However, on my father's side, I'm able to go back quite far.  Part of this reason is that they lived in New York and slavery ended in New York in 1824.  The furthest I've been able to go back is to my 3 time great grandparents on my father's side.  Gordon Salter was born a slave in 1785 in New York City.  He died a free man and that is most likely why I can find info on him.

My father's side was much easier to research.  I was able to find info on most of my 3 times great grandparents.  They had birth years that ranged from 1785 - 1833.

My family tree on that side not only goes far but wide.  I can't even input all the information I have on that side of the family.  My mother's side is not so far but it is wide.

Because of my 10+ year research family on both sides allowed  6 cousins to find me and we keep in touch.

The world gets even smaller when I learned one of my cousins works in the same company I do (In a different state).

And through them, I got some cool old pictures as well.

What does the commercial say?  "You don't have to know what you're looking for, you just have to start looking."

Friday, April 6, 2012

(F) Famous People who Resided in the Bronx

Lots of famous people lived in the Bronx. Some were born here.  Here is a short list of some of these people.  They are not in any order.  I only picked the ones out that people would know without having to go "who's that?"

Mark Twain (1835–1910) – author
Edgar Allan Poe (1809–1849) – author and poet
E. L. Doctorow (born 1931) – author
Danny Aiello (born 1933) – actor
Alan Alda (born 1936) – actor
Woody Allen (born 1935) – film director and actor
Jennifer Lopez (born 1969) – singer,dancer and actress
June Allyson (1917–2006) – actress
Penny Marshall (born 1942) – actress and director
Garry Marshall (born 1934) – television and film director
Carroll O'Connor (1924–2001) – actor
Jerry Orbach (1935–2004) – actor
Al Pacino (born 1940) – actor
Chazz Palminteri (born 1952) – actor
Regis Philbin (born 1931) – media personality and television talk-show host
Rob Reiner (born 1945) – actor and film director
Red Buttons (1919–2006) – comedian and actor
James Caan (born 1940) – actor
George Carlin (1937–2008) – comedian
Tony Curtis (1925–2010) – actor
Peter Falk (1927–2011) – actor
Jon Favreau (born 1966) – film and television director and actor
Cuba Gooding, Jr. (born 1968) – actor
Neil Simon (born 1927) – playwright and screenwriter
Wesley Snipes (born 1962) – actor
Anne Bancroft (1931–2005) – actress
Ellen Barkin (born 1954) – actress
Tracy Morgan (1968-), actor, comedian
Mary J. Blige (born 1971) – singer-songwriter
Bobby Darin (1936–1973) – 1950s–1960s singer
Carly Simon (born 1945) – singer-songwriter
Ace Frehley (born 1951) – Kiss guitarist
Billy Joel (born 1949) – singer
Lou Gehrig (1903–1941) – Baseball Hall of Famer and New York Yankees first baseman
John Gotti (1940–2002) – crime boss

Thursday, April 5, 2012

(E) Easter

Today is Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday).  In a few days it will be Easter Sunday.

We celebrate the religious aspect of it. We are in church on Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Holy Friday and for the Easter Vigil.  I give myself a break on Easter Sunday.  That's the day we go secular.

My 13 year old daughter wants me to buy her an Easter basket.  I keep telling her she is too old, but she insists.  Here is her and her brother. She is 1 years old. My son is almost 21, no basket for him!!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

(D) Documentary

I love reading non-fiction books and I love a good documentary.  One day, in my search for something good to watch, I came across this site

There are so many documentaries on this page, it will take a while to get through.  Some of the ones I've watched from this site are:

Simply Raw
God on the Brain
Secrets of the Occult

I also watch them from other sources.  Some of my of my favorite documentaries are:

Sick, Fat and Nearly Dead

Triangle: Remembering the Fire
Sweet Misery
It Might Get Loud

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

(C) Christopher Walken

Ronald Christopher Walken just celebrated his 69th birthday on Friday, March 31st.

One of my favorite actors of all time.  I've seen 95% of his work.  He is a phenomenal and versatile actor, whose body of work spans from humorous to the creepy.  This man can play anything and everything, and he has.

I made a conscience effort to watch all of his movies.  Here are some recommendations:

The Happiness Cage (The Mind Snatchers) - 1972
Deer Hunter - 1977
Pennies From Heaven - 1981
Who Am I This Time? - 1982
Brainstorm - 1983
The Dead Zone - 1983
At Close Range - 1986
King of New York - 1990
The Prophecy - 1995
What to Do in Denver When You're Dead - 1995
The Funeral - 1996
Suicide Kings - 1997
$5 a Day - 2008
The Maiden Heist - 2009

Although I love him as an actor, there were a few misses:

The Addiction - 1995
New Rose Hotel - 1998
The Prophecy 3: The Ascent - 2000
Romance & Cigarettes - 2005
Domino - 2005

If nothing else proves his talent, he was in the worst movie ever made and still had one of the best line ever uttered on screen:

Det. Stanley Jacobellis: Man, you know what I'd love to do, right now? Go down to Marie Callender's, get me a big bowl, pie, some ice cream on it, mmm-hmm good! Put some on your head! Your tongue would slap your brains out trying to get to it! INTERESTED? SURE? 

You're probably scratching your head at that quote.  But it was the delivery that made it golden!

Monday, April 2, 2012

(B) Buried in the Bronx

I live in Bronx, New York.  I've lived here all of my life.  People don't know much about the Bronx other than what they see on the theater screen.  However, The Bronx has a lot to offer.  I am also a lover of cemeteries, I know, it's a strange fascination.  There are a lot of famous people buried in The Bronx.  Here are a few:

Frankie Lymon
September 30, 1942 – February 27, 1968
Known for being the lead singer of the group "The Teenagers".
Lymon, a Baptist, is buried in Saint Raymond's Roman Catholic Cemetery in The Bronx.
I found it interesting that I was not the only one who placed a stone on his grave.  There were quite a few when I got there.

Billie Holiday
April 7, 1915 - July 17, 1959
Billy Holiday is buried in Saint Raymond's Roman Catholic Cemetery in The Bronx.

Diana Barrymore
March 3, 1921 - January 25, 1960
Born Diana Blanche Barrymore Blythe, she was the daughter of actor John Barrymore and his second wife, poet Blanche Oelrichs.  She is buried next to her mother at Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx.

*Only partial headstone shot taken as it is very difficult to take picture at Woodlawn Cemetery without permission.

Joseph Pulitzer
April 10 1847 - October 29, 1911
Born Pulitzer József.  best known for posthumously establishing the Pulitzer Prizes.  He is buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx.

Miles Davis
May 26, 1926 - September 28, 1991
American jazz musician, trumpeter, bandleader, and composer.  He is buried at Woodlwan Cemetery in The Bronx.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

(A) April Fool (that would be me)

He got me. My friend Paddy got me this morning at 6:58am EDT.  I was just waking up and my phone bleeps with a message. It read...
"OMG, turn on the news, the elem(entary) school is on fire!"
I flew out of my bed and ran to the TV. I flipped through channels and saw nothing. I texted him back and asked which channel.  He writes...
So I turn to channel 8 (which is 1 some towns and 8 in others).  The he texts me back saying
I knew then it was an April Fools joke.  He's a dead man!!!

The French call April 1 Poisson d'Avril, or "April Fish." French children sometimes tape a picture of a fish on the back of their schoolmates, crying "Poisson d'Avril" when the prank is discovered.

Ancient cultures, including those of the Romans and Hindus, celebrated New Year's Day on or around April 1. It closely follows the vernal equinox.  In medieval times, much of Europe celebrated March 25, the Feast of Annunciation, as the beginning of the new year.

In 1582,Pope Gregory XIII ordered a new calendar (the Gregorian Calendar)  to replace the old Julian Calendar. The new calendar called for New Year's Day to be celebrated Jan. 1. That year, France adopted the reformed calendar and shifted New Year's day to Jan. 1. According to a popular explanation, many people either refused to accept the new date, or did not learn about it, and continued to celebrate New Year's Day on April 1. Other people began to make fun of these traditionalists, sending them on "fool's errands" or trying to trick them into believing something false. Eventually, the practice spread throughout Europe.