item 1 >>> My brother Dave is has started a weekly blog called Suburban Home Journal…What’s Happening in the Suburbs of New England. His first entry is on SNOW…yippee! It’s excellent and I encourage you to read it…at http://subhomejnl.wordpress.com. He has another interesting blog too, at http://davesideapage.blogspot.com/. See? One’s a clickable link, one isn’t. Gonna figure that out one day, some day, in the future, where we are all going to spend the rest of our lives, to quote Criswell in Plan 9 From Outer Space. BTW, you’ve probability noticed…I know I sure have…that Deep Fried Hoodsie Cups isn’t entirely devoted the North Shore stuff, altho that will always be part of it. It’s Baby Boomerania, with an unabashed emphasis on where I grew up, no escaping it…but as I always try to make it, of interest too to those not lucky enough to hail from the North Shore.
item 2 >>> That’s one thing I wish I knew more about….weather in general, and snow in particular. When I was on the radio, I’d make it a point to remind my listeners, when we got our first substantial snowfall, that there was no such thing as snow. A provocative statement, true, but meant in the sense that snow is not something different from ice. All forms of frozen water are ice. You can have ice without snow, but not snow without ice. They say Eskimos have 17 (23? 48? 96?) different names for types of snow, and I can believe it. Earlier this year in Upper Upstate NY, we got tiny snow balls. Not frozen hail, that bounce and makes noise, but little round puffs of snow…it melted away quick, but was fascinating to see.
item 3 >>> OK, here’s something from Massachusetts, been meaning to mention for some time now. “Heritage Turkeys,” which is to say domesticated breeds of turkeys that were the type people ate prior to the 1960s, when the mass-produced big-breasted fatso turkeys took over. More similar in morphology to wild turkeys, they are raised in Westport by Bill and Sherri Battles on their Stone Pony Farm. These birds can actually walk and mate (blush…) on their own, unlike the Butterballs. They tend to be more expensive, have their own distinctive flavor, and as you might expect, give much more dark meat. Bill prefers the term “standard bred” to “heritage,” a man after my own heart. Now I’ve never really been much of a turkey or chicken eater, but I have a vague sense that there was more dark meat in olden days…what I did go for the the giblets, especially the ticker.
item 4 >>> Talk about making something hard out of something that should have been easy. I was trying to remember the rock group from the 1960s whose gimmick was to dress up like cavemen…bare feet, Fred Flintstone “sarong,” etc. Had it in my mind it was the Strangeloves, of “I Want Candy” fame, the song resurrected by Bow Wow Wow in the 80s. I got the idea after seeing a clip of a Trashmen reunion performance, doing “Surfer Bird” of course, but with a guy over on the side in a leopard-skin banging on a big drum with mallets. But while the Strangeloves did have a second drummer doing just that, they weren’t dressed as cavemen. Turns out the group was called the Cavemen. They were out of Florida, and here are 2 pictures of their 1966 appearance on Mike Douglas. That’s Sid Caesar looking appropriately perplexed, and Mike was basically making fun of them, but the blond leader you see there in the tiger-skin said their gimmick was very successful. He probably meant in getting live gigs, as their records never charted, mainly because they weren’t that good.
item 5 >>> I mentioned a while back a hypothetical New England Rock and Roll Hall of Fame…and a charter member would have to be the Barbarians from Cape Cod, lead by Victor “Moulty” Moulton, the hook-handed drummer. I met him once in the Common when I was a Freshman in college. He lost his hand at age 14 trying to construct a pipe bomb. As you can see from this LP cover, their gimmick was wearing sandals, and Moutly was one of the first to grow his hair really long. Their first big hit was “Are You a Boy or Are You a Girl,” altho their signature song was the serio-comic “Moulty,” the story of his losing his hand and getting over it. Interestingly, Moulty recorded the song while in New York City, without the other band members. His backing band on that cut was none other than Levon and the Hawks…soon to be renamed The Band.
item 6 >>> Good King Wenceslas looked out on the Feast of Stephen. Actually, that’s St. Wenceslas to you, a 10th century Duke of Bohemia, named a King posthumously by the Holy Roman Emperor. You’ll also see the spelling Wenceslaus, and the slavic name is Vyacheslav, or as the Czechs call him, Svaty Vaclav. Legend has it that as they trekked thru the snow, his frozen page was warmed from the heat that miraculously emanated from Wenceslas’ footprints. Ever heard of a real person named Wenceslas? Off the top of my head, I can think of 2, both Spanish…
item 7 >>> One is Wenceslao Moreno, better known as Señor Wences, the wonderful ventriloquist. Or as he pronounced it in Castilian, “WEN-thess.” With his “hand” Johnny, and Pedro the head in the box, ‘sawright! The other is a Cuban pitcher who had a cup of coffee with the Washington Senators in 1955, Vince Gonzales…full name Wenceslao Gonzales O’Reilly.
item 8 >>> The Spanish custom for personal names is a Christian name, followed by the father’s surname and the mother’s surname, which is to say, the mother’s father’s surname. Sometime the 2 parental names are connected by “y”, “de”, or a hyphen. This is a person’s legal name, altho in general usage the mother’s name is dropped. In baseball, the Alou brothers are a strange case…their family name is actuality Rojas, their mother was an Alou, but somehow that got twisted around by San Francisco Giants publicity, and Alou stuck, even to the second generation, Felipe’s son Moises Alou…altho Moises had a cousin in the Bigs, Mel Rojas.
item 9 >>> It is also interesting to note that there are no middle names in Spanish…a pair of first names is considered one name, as in Jesus Maria Alou, or Jesus for short. Similarly, several female first names are actually contractions of longer appellations of Mary…for example, Pilar is short for Maria del Pilar, literally “pillar,” denoting a place in Zaragoza, Spain where Mary was said to have appeared. Luz is short for Maria de la Luz, or “of the Light.”
item 10 >>> 17-year old John Bongiovi was sweeping up at the NYC recording studio The Power Station, owned by his cousin Tony Bongiovi, while they were recording Meco’s Christmas in the Stars, the famous (some might say infamous) Star Wars LP. Tony suggested his cousin sing on “R2D2 We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” and he’s so-credited on the back of the album. Released in 1980, it was Jon Bon Jovi’s first professional recording. Ah, the Magic of Christmas knows no bounds…
One of the cool things I got for Christmas was a DVD set of old Howdy Doody shows, including the legendary final episode, which I remember seeing. The next week, Shari Lewis was in Howdy’s Saturday morning slot, and it dawned on me that the world made no sense. This guy here…if you don’t know him, why are you reading this blog?
shameless plugabunga, dude…
Resume and audio samples at http://home.rr.com/mastolfi