Wednesday, December 31, 2008

PEACE TAKES TIME AS ANOTHER YEAR ENDS


We've come to the very last of 2008. It was a most difficult year. It was a year of sorrow and fortunes dashed. A year of scandal. A year people were cheated big time by one of the oldest cons in the book. People lost their homes and businesses. I lost a great job-- very suddenly and without any compensatory compensation.It was a year when Kay-Be Toys, Mervyn's, Linen and Things and soon Rite Aid was to be no more. It was a year of passing for dear Eartha Kitt , Paul Newman, playwrights Dale Waserman ("Don Quxiote") and Harold Pinter. The last of the famous to die this year appears to be jazz trumpeter, Don Hubbard. And of course it was a year of a new war in which dear Israel must one again defend her right to exist. Today I heard from people who were angry with her for not going for the 48 hour cease fire. Well, ladies and gentlemen peace is not an easy process. If you will look at the newspaper headline displayed today that it was not until December 31st, 1946 that the official end of hostilities was declared by President Harry Truman. So what? Well, guess what: all of those laws passed in Wartime United States were still in effect until this day in 1946. Rationing was still in effect. Many Japanese and Italian immigrants were still imprisoned in this country. Peace takes time. Recovery takes just as long. But I am grateful for the wonderful people in my life. My writing partner, John Nugent is a musical genius. Tim Doran, my dearest friend is finally beginning to become his old self. God love you, Tim! I am grateful to my long time companion, John Long. 2009 begins our tenth year together-- that's longer than most marriages. I am grateful to my sisters, dear Tony Westbrook in NYC and talent like Bill Lewis, Karmyn Tyler, Molly Summer, Brian Martin and Paul Horvanes--all who give their talent willingly and free. I am grateful to Almighty God who has allowed me to live in disability income almost as well as if I were working full time and I thank my Dear Father in heaven for endowing me with more creativity than I have ever enjoyed before. So just as peace takes time to be accomplished, so must the economy and the promises of our new president. God Bless Him! Happy New Year Everyone!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE FREEWAY


Well, today is an unusual birthday --that of the Southern California Freeway. The first of then actually opened on this day way back in 1940. It was not called a "freeway" at that point. It was called "The Arroyo-Seco Parkway. Two years later it was re-named "The Pasadena Freeway." Now if you have ever driven the Pasadena Freeway, you know exactly how curvy the damned thing is. I remember as a kid going to my aunt's house in Westwood, my dad would drive it-- and hate it because of all the traffic on it. Before Dodger Stadium opened my dad would travel right through the Chavez Ravine area on a highway that was called "The Brick Road". We kids loved it because it was bumpy and curvy in more ways than that freeway ever dreamed of being. Up and down, curving, sudden drops-- what a great memory. I wonder just how many of you know the names of ALL the current freeways in Southern California. I was amazed at discovering them. They are:

#1: Interstate 5 southbound to Tijuana in Baja California, Mexico, northbound to the Central Valley
#2 John J. Montgomery Freeway from U.S.-Mexico border crossing at San Ysidro, California to Downtown San Diego
#3 San Diego Freeway from Downtown San Diego to the El Toro Y
#4 Santa Ana Freeway from the El Toro to the East L.A. Interchange
#5 Golden State Freeway from the East L.A. Interchange to Wheeler Ridge, California -- Where the heck is that?
#6 Interstate 8 west terminus in Ocean Beach in San Diego, eastbound to the Arizona State Line
#7 Ocean Beach Freeway from Ocean Beach in San Diego to Old Town San Diego
#8 Mission Valley Freeway, also known as the Alvarado Freeway from Old Town San Diego to El Cajon, California
#9 Kumeyaay Freeway from El Cajon, California to the Arizona State Line
#10 Interstate 10 west terminus at Santa Monica, California, eastbound to the Arizona State Line
#11 Santa Monica Freeway from Santa Monica, California to the East L.A. Interchange
#12 San Bernardino Freeway from the East L.A. Interchange to San Bernardino, California
#13 Interstate 15 south terminus in Barrio Logan in San Diego, northbound to the Nevada State Line
#14 Wabash Freeway (signed as State Route 15) from Barrio Logan in San Diego to Interstate 805
#15 Escondido Freeway from Interstate 805 to the San Diego County Line
#16 Temecula Valley Freeway from the San Diego County Line to Lake Elsinore
#17 Corona Freeway from Lake Elsinore to Corona
#18 Ontario Freeway from Corona to Devore
#19 Mojave Freeway from Devore to the Nevada State Line
#20 Barstow Freeway from Devore to the Nevada State Line
#21 Interstate 40 west terminus in Barstow, California, #22 eastbound to the Arizona State Line
#22 Needles Freeway
#23 U.S. Route 101 south terminus at the East L.A. Interchange, westbound to Santa Barbara, California then northbound to the Central Coast of California
#24 Santa Ana Freeway from the East L.A. Interchange to the Four Level Interchange
#25 Hollywood Freeway from the Four Level Interchange to the junction with the Ventura Freeway
#26 Ventura Freeway from the junction with the Hollywood Freeway to Seacliff, California
#27 State Route 14 south terminus at Tunnel Station, northbound to Bishop, California
#28 Antelope Valley Freeway from Tunnel Station to Mojave, California Wow-- 28 freeways-- I never ever knew that. Also on this day the Vatican and Israel recognized each other's existence in 1993-- too bad The Palestinians can't do the same. And on this date is Sandy Koufax's birthday. This amazing athlete turns 73 today! Yesterday was great news-- I received a nice royalty check for some assorted Christmas music that had been playing at Rockefeller Center-- last year-- it takes them a year to catch up on accounting. Amazing!

Monday, December 29, 2008

ANDREW JOHNSON 200 YEARS OLD TODAY


Every person who knows me is aware of my utter fascination with American History, Today would have been the 200th birthday of the first president (and unjustly so) to be impeached while President of the United States. Johnson was a very good man who was simply trying to bring Abraham Lincoln's policies of Reconstruction foreword. The "Radical Republicans" of the time were only interested in punishing the South from seceding from the Union and participating in The Civil War. John Nugent and I will be exploring all of this in a new musical we are working on called "The Shadow of Freedom". It will reveal a few things that the average American has absolutely no knowledge of. The first two songs are already composed and the first twenty-three pages of the book are done as well. On Saturday, I spent a very happy afternoon at a holiday party at my older sister's house (Lorie) where the whole family (almost) attended. I discovered that my oldest and first niece Shelly is moving to Chicago to teach gemology, her new career. But I reminded my very talented niece not to forget the first talent that she entered the world with-- her singing voice. Shelly is an amazing singer, the only one of our family (so far) to demonstrate this ability. My youngest niece Jacqueline reminded me just how old I'm getting. On January 17th, she turns thirty-five years old. Good grief, where does the time go? I now have seven nieces and nephews and five great nieces and nephews. I only wish my dear mother could see all these wonderful children. They would have made her all very very happy. I will spend New Years Eve at Micelli's with John Nugent and my life partner John Long. It's a great place to celebrate. Let us hope that 2009 is a much better year than it's predecessor. I was very sorry to hear of the death of Eartha Kitt. Dear Eartha passed on Christmas Day at the age of eighty-one. I had become quite a fan of hers over the last few years. Well, it looks like dear Andrew Lyold Webber has decided to go forth with the sequel to "The Phantom of The Opera" and plans to open it at the end of next year in three different cities at once. How ambitious is that? It will be called "The Phantom-- Love Never Dies" and will be set in America with good old Coney Island as it's setting. For Christmas, I received a New York City production script from "THE WICKED" signed by Kristen C. --Glinda in the original show. Quite good! I also received a great warm jacket with Notre Dame's insignia and colors on it. I have always rooted for the Irish. Well, back to my writing!

Friday, December 26, 2008


I had a very wonderful Christmas and Christmas season this year and I thank My Dear Father in Heaven for it all. I still don't have a job and I'm on disability but things are working out finacially. Disability pays almost as much as my regular salary. It's amazing how many expenses you once had but don't use once you're not working. Like Dry Cleaning. (Can't believe how much I used to spend on that as per a strict Ritz apperance policy) My back has a few fits here and there, but I'll be okay once I join my partner's health insurance next month. As fot this Christmas season, this is the first time since 1996, I was able to really enjoy the holiday in a non-retail, non crazy and relaxed atmosphere. I was able to go shopping leisurely and bake Christmas cookies and a Christmas cake. The cookies were great and the cake was very moist and tasty. This year I had the time to decorate both inside and outside the apartment. It was a kind and gentle time that I was very grateful for. My first family gathering was wonderful and we all shared great and warm moments at a Prime Rib dinner at my nephew's home. I had the time to send out Christmas cards and actually call people on Christmas Day that I hadn't talked to in a very long time. My friend Grace Packard (wife of my dear late friend Carl) was especially nice to talk to. She is studying hard to become a librarian. I talked to dear Bill Lewis who unfortunately was part of the Entertainment that Disneyland has eliminated, but he remains hopeful of the future. I called my dear friend Tim Doran who is beginning to feel better these days, thank goodness and to my dear friend Ron Glasman. Ron and I go way back yo the 1960's. On Christmas Eve, John Nugent and my partner John Long had a wonderful meal at Micelli's restraunt. The place was packed. The music and singing as always was amazing. The whole Christmas season this year was fabulous. On Christmas Day, I even received a text message from Darius Jamison who was my original district manager at Ritz Camera. The weather was stormy, with periods of some really hard rain pouring down. but it co-operated nicely and the Dear Lord was certainly responsible for that. The nicest note came from Tony Westbrook in New York City who wroteme one of the most beautiful and touching Christmas messages I have ever received. It was a really great Christmas. And for the first time in my life, I actually received a gift from a restaurant. Good old Micelli's restaurant gave gave John and I certificate for a free dinner for two on New Years Eve-- now that's what I call special! My sister gave me a perfect gift in a great jacket with the "Fighting Irish" and Notre Dame symbols all over it-- now that will keep me warm! I am indeed grateful and happy. And there is still yet another family gathering on Saturday at my eldest sister's home in Rancho Palos Verdes. Thank you, dearest Lord for a most wonderful memorable Christmas.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS


When my three sisters and I were children, my dear father, Louie used to tell us (all by heart) of the wonderful poem written by Clement Moore back in the early 1800's. One hundred and seventy-five years ago, today, this amazing poem was published for the very first time. We kids used to love our father narrating and telling us all this wonderful poem. It was called "The Night Before Christmas." And every time I hear it again, I smile and cry a little, because it renders of the most best memories I have of my dear father. We were a very poor family. My father was a house painter. Back in those days, weather like we have been having lately would have put my father out of work. Back then, there was lead in all paint and it was all oil based. There would have been no way that kind of paint would dry in the cold rainy climate, we have been having this last week of Christmas. But I will tell you that my amazing mother and father always had a wonderful Christmas for us kids. No matter what, Christmas always came in abundance to all of us who lived at 142 West Live Oak Street in San Gabriel, California. God bless my dear father and mother for making it always so. The pile of presents under that always magnificent tree will always hold a special place in my heart. Christmas this year is different this year because I am out of work, but I am enjoying it more than ever. I am actually getting to make cookies and bake cakes and do shopping at places other than the mall. But just in case, you don't know this poem: here it is:


Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house. Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.The children were nestled all snug in their beds,While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.And mama in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.Away to the window I flew like a flash,Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow, gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny reindeer.With a little old driver, so lively and quick,I knew in a moment it must be St Nick. More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!"Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall! Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof. The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.As I drew in my head, and was turning around,Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry! His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.He had a broad face and a little round belly,That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly! He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself! A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.And laying his finger aside of his nose,And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose! He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"
Clement Clarke Moore (1779 - 1863) wrote the poem "Twas The Night Before Christmas also called “A Visit from St. Nicholas" in 1822. It is now the tradition in many American families to read the poem every Christmas Eve. The poem Twas the night before Christmas has redefined our image of Christmas and Santa Claus. Prior to the creation of the story of Twas the night before Christmas St. Nicholas, the patron saint of children, had never been associated with a sleigh or reindeers! The author of the poem Twas the night before Christmas was a reticent man and it is believed that a family friend, Miss H. Butler, sent a copy of the poem to the New York Sentinel who published the poem. The condition of publication was that the author of Twas the night before Christmas was to remain anonymous. The first publication date was 23rd December 1823 and it was an immediate success. It was not until 1844 that Clement Clarke Moore claimed ownership when the work was included in a book of his poetry. Clement Clarke Moore came from a prominent family and his father Benjamin Moore was the Bishop of New York who was famous for officiating at the inauguration of George Washington. The tradition of reading Twas the night before Christmas poem on Christmas Eve is now a Worldwide institution.

Friday, December 12, 2008

HAPPY BIRTHDAY FRANK SINATRA & EDWARD G. ROBINSON




Frank Sinatra In Concert
Edward G. Robinson in "The Ten Commandments"
Today would have been the 93rd birthday of perhaps the greatest singer on Earth. Frank Sinatra was an absolute legend with a legendary reputation. There were times he was an amazing gentleman and times when he was an absolute bum. But good or bad you loved his music and for songwriters that way he could sell a song and make it his own was astounding.
Frank was born in Hoboken, New Jersey, the son of Italian immigrants Natalie Della (née Garaventi) and Anthony Martin Sinatra. He left high school without graduating, having attended only 47 days before being expelled due to his rowdy conduct. His mother, known as Dolly, was influential in the neighborhood and in local Democratic Party circles, but also ran an illegal abortion business from her home; she was charged and convicted for this offense. Frank's father Martin served with the Hoboken Fire Department. During the tough years of the 1930s, when the Great Depression hit North America very hard, Dolly nevertheless provided ready pocket money to her son Frank, the family's only child, for outings with friends and fancy clothes. Frank then worked for some time as a delivery boy at the Jersey Observer newspaper, and as a riveter at the Tietjan and Lang shipyard. It was in the early 1930s that Sinatra began singing in public.In 1935, he got his first break when his mother persuaded a local singing group, The Three Flashes, to let him join. With Frank, the group became known as the Hoboken Four, and they sufficiently impressed Edward Bowes that they appeared on his show, Major Bowes Amateur Hour, and with a record 40,000 votes they won the first prize, a six month contract to perform on stage and radio across the United States. Sinatra's first cousin, Ray Sinatra, had an orchestra and his own network radio program ("Cycling the Kilocycles") in the mid-1930s, but Ray and Frank did not work together. Sinatra left the Hoboken Four and returned home in late 1935. His mother secured him a job as a singing waiter and MC at the Rustic Cabin in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, for which he was paid $15 a week.On March 18, 1939, Sinatra made his first recording, of a song called "Our Love", with the Frank Mane band. In June, Harry James hired Sinatra on a one year contract of $75 a week.Growing dissatisfied with the James band, Old Blue Eyes was approached by Tommy Dorsey in November 1939, and formally joined Dorsey's band the following January.In his first year with Dorsey, Sinatra released more than forty songs, with "I'll Never Smile Again" topping the charts for twelve weeks in mid-July.In the autumn of 1940, Sinatra appeared in his first film, Las Vegas Nights.[14 In May 1941, Sinatra was at the top of the male singer polls in the Billboard and Downbeat magazines.[15] Sinatra's relationship with Tommy Dorsey was tenuous, and Sinatra recorded his first solo sessions without the Dorsey band (but with Dorsey's arranger Axel Stordahl and with Dorsey's approval) in January 1942. Sinatra left the Dorsey band late in 1942.His appeal to bobby soxers, as teenage girls of that time were called, revealed a whole new audience for popular music, which had been recorded mainly for adults up to that time.
On December 31, 1942, Sinatra opened at the
Paramount Theater in New York. It is there that 'Sinatramania' really began, an event which led Sinatra's rival Bing Crosby to jokingly declare: "Frank's the kind of singer that comes along once in a lifetime, but why did he have to come along in mine?"During the musicians' strike of 1942–44, Columbia’s re-released Harry James’ "All or Nothing at All", recorded in August 1939 and released before Sinatra had made a name for himself. The original release didn’t even mention the vocalist’s name. When the recording was re–released in 1943 with Frank Sinatra’s name prominently displayed, the record was on the best–selling list for 18 weeks and reached number 2 on June 2, 1943. In 1943, he signed with Columbia Records as a solo artist with initially great success, particularly during the musicians' recording strikes. Sinatra signed with Columbia on June 1, 1943, with the musicians' strike ten months old. And while no new records had been issued during the strike, he had been performing on the radio (on Your Hit Parade, and on stage. Columbia wanted to get new recordings of their growing star as fast as possible, so Sinatra convinced them to hire Alec Wilder as arranger and conductor for several sessions with a vocal group called the Bobby Tucker Singers. These first sessions were on June 7, June 22, August 5, and November 10, 1943. Of the nine songs recorded during these sessions, seven charted on the best–selling list.When Frank returned to the Paramount in October 1944, 35,000 fans caused a near riot outside the venue because they were not allowed in. Dubbed "The Columbus Day Riot," it took the police several hours to defuse the situation.[

In 1945, Sinatra co-starred with
Gene Kelly in Anchors Aweigh. That same year, he was loaned out to RKO to star in a short film titled The House I Live In. Directed by Mervyn LeRoy, this film on tolerance and racial equality earned a special Academy Award shared among Sinatra and those who brought the film to the screen, along with a special Golden Globe for "Promoting Good Will." 1946 saw the release of his first album, The Voice of Frank Sinatra and the debut of his own weekly radio show.
After two years' absence, Sinatra returned to the concert stage on January 12, 1950, in Hartford, Connecticut. Sinatra's voice suffered and he experienced hemorrhaging of his vocal cords on stage at the Copacabana on April 26, 1950. Sinatra's career and appeal to new teen audiences declined as he moved into his mid-30s. In September 1951, Sinatra made his Las Vegas debut at the Desert Inn. A month later, a second series of the Frank Sinatra Show aired on CBS. On November 7, 1951, Frank Sinatra married Ava Gardner They had an extremely tempestuous relationship, and the ascent of Gardner's career seemed to coincide with the decline in Sinatra's.They split up in 1953 and divorced in 1957.Columbia and MCA dropped Sinatra in 1952.The rebirth of Sinatra's career began with the eve-of-Pearl Harbor drama From Here to Eternity (1953), for which he won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. This role and performance mark the turnaround in Sinatra's career, in which he went from being in a critical and commercial decline for several years to an Oscar-winning actor and, once again, one of the top recording artists in the world. In 1953, Sinatra signed with Capitol Records, where he worked with many of the finest musical arrangers of the era, most notably Nelson Riddle, Gordon Jenkins, Mavis Rivers, and Billy May. Sinatra reinvented himself with a series of albums featuring darker emotional material, starting with In the Wee Small Hours in 1955. Of course today is also Edward G. Robinson's birthday and he was simply an amazing actor. The Tough guy was a great humanitarian and devout art collector. My favorite role of his is our course from "The Ten Commandments" / Billy Crystal has made a fortune off of that imitation he does. Although still out of work, disability income almost equals what I was bringing home after taxes last year, so once again God has saved my life. John and I have finished the book and four songs to our newest musical called "Death Does Broadway". What might happen if an disgruntled actor who got cheated out of a Broadway role in 1968 had taken his life and after a forty year stint in Purgatory gets the chance to be a deputy of death for Broadway. But his first "victim" looking for a delay of his own death offers him a lead on the same Broadway stage he was cheated out of all those many years ago. Now our protagonist gets to be "death on Broadway". I'm sending out Christmas cards for the first time in many years. It's a great feeling to finally have the time to do this. It's the first Christmas in twelve years that I've actually gotten to enjoy.

Monday, December 08, 2008

A GREAT SINGER AND DANCER AND A GREAT WIT




Today would have been the 82nd birthday of one of the greatest entertainers of all times: Mr. Sammy Davis, Jr. "The Candy Man died of throat cancer on May 17, 1990. Sammy was born in a Harlem tenement, grew up in vaudeville from the age of three and NEVER went to school. His talents as a mime, comedian, trumpet player,drummer, pianist, singer and dancer are legendary. His hit songs included one of my favorite songs "What Kind of Fool Am I? and equally "I've Gotta Be Me". Sammy lost his left eye in a near fatal auto crash in 1954 and had reconstructive hip surgery in 1985 which enabled him to dance again. Of course his antics on the classic show "Laugh In" are very remembered. Who could forget "Here Comes The Judge" or that famous kiss that that he gave to Archie Bunker (aka Carroll O' Connor) on "All in the Family". God rest you, Sammy. The other birthday of memory today is that of James Thurber. James Thurber was one of the most inventive minds of the 20th century. I urge all readers here to read some of his wonderful stories like the classic "The Unicorn In The Garden", "The Moth and The Star" "The Elephant Who Would be King" and many others. My personal favorite is "The Moth and The Star" for it most epitomizes great dreamers everywhere. I would also like to mention that it is the birthday today of the late great playwright Herb Gardner. If you have never read "The Goodbye People" or "A Thousand Clowns" you owe to it yourself to read them both. Gardner is equal to Neil Simon in many respects. Also on this date Miss Carol Chaning premiered on Broadway singing the classic song "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend" in the musical "Gentleman Prefer Blonds". Laugh for today: there will new Broadway treatments of "The Flintstones" and Betty Boop, but bar none the funniest will be a revivial of Ibsen's Heda Gabler with a lesbian cast. Oh well. I am a gay man, but a lesbian version of Ibsen carries things a bit far. Sending Christmas cards out for the first time in years this year. Feels good!

Friday, December 05, 2008


Last night, after winning a songwriting honorarium, I received as a prize three one hundred dollar seats to see "WICKED". What a brilliant and wonderful show. This cast is really incredible. The Stephen Schwartz score is absolutely brilliant and Winnie Holzman's book is amazingly clever adapting the Gregory Mcguire novel in a very unique and wonderful way. More about this in another blog. But the issue I want to bring up is of course the issue over Obama's citizenship status. If the naysayers are right than we would have to invalidate every action and every law passed by the first eight presidents of the United States.The special term "Natural Born Citizen" is used in particular as a requirement for eligibility to serve as President or Vice President of the United States. Section 1 of Article II of the Constitution contains the clause:“ No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States. Along came another amendment to the Constitution that defined this further: the 12th Amendment to the Constitution says that "No person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States." Now along comes The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. Now guess what? That little amendment provides an additional source of constitutional doctrine stating that birth "in the United States" and subjection to U.S. jurisdiction at the time of birth, entitles one to full citizenship: That amendment's little clarifer says that “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the Jurisdiction thereof, are Citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. . However, the full text of the fourteenth amendment does not mention the phrase "natural born citizen," nor does it address Presidential qualifications. The phrase "natural born Citizen" is not defined anywhere in the Constitution, as is true with most Constitutional terms. Section 8 of Article I of the Constitution confers on Congress the power "to establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization..." This power has been construed to include defining the characteristics of a "natural born citizen", as well as the conditions of "naturalization".The 1790 Congress, many of whose members had been members of the Constitutional Convention, provided in the Naturalization Act of 1790 that "And the children of citizens of the United States that may be born beyond the sea, or out of the limits of the United States, shall be considered as natural born citizens." In addition George Washington was president of the Constitutional Convention and President of the United States when this bill became law. If Washington disagreed with this definition, he could have vetoed this bill. However, in 1795 the Congress passed the Naturalization Act of 1795 which removed the words "natural born" from this statement to state that such children born to citizens beyond the seas are citizens of the U.S., but are not legally to be considered "natural born citizens" of the U.S. This was done to clarify for those living at that time who was and who was not a "natural born citizen" per the framers intent at that time, since the 1790 Act had introduced confusion into that subject in regards to the use of those words in the Constitution. Furthermore dear doubters, George Washington was also President in 1795, and thus he was aware of this change. And if he disagreed with the clarification and change in the wording in the new act in 1795, a stubborn headed George would have vetoed the Naturalization Act of 1795.It is thought the origin of the natural born citizen clause can be traced to a letter of July 25, 1787 from John Jay (who was born in New York to George Washington (who was born in Virginia), presiding officer of the Constitutional Convention. Check out what John Jay wrote: "Permit me to hint, whether it would be wise and seasonable to provide a strong check to the admission of Foreigners into the administration of our national Government; and to declare expressly that the Commander in Chief of the American army shall not be given to nor devolve on, any but a natural born Citizen." Note here, dear reader the Emphasis of born in the original source.There was no debate, and this qualification for the office of the Presidency was introduced by the drafting Committee of Eleven, and then adopted without discussion by the Constitutional Convention. But here is the big one-- get ready! During the Hoover administration, Charles Curtis served as Vice President, even though he was born in the Kansas Territory prior to Kansas becoming a state.The 2003 Equal Opportunity to Govern Amendment, a proposed amendment to the US Constitution, would, if adopted, have removed the prohibition against naturalized citizens holding the office of the President. Look at your history, boys and girls! The requirements for citizenship and the very definition thereof have changed a lot since the Constitution was ratified in 1788. Congress first recognized the citizenship of children born to U.S. parents overseas on March 26, 1790, under the first naturalization law: "And the children of citizens of the United States that may be born beyond sea, or outside the limits of the United States, shall be considered as natural born citizens." The Fourteenth Amendment mentions two types of citizenship: citizenship by birth and citizenship by law (naturalized citizens): "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."All persons born in the United States, except those not subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S. government (such as children of foreign diplomats) are citizens under the Fourteenth Amendment. Persons born in the United States, and persons born on foreign soil to two U.S. parents, are born American citizens and are classified as citizens at birth under 8 U.S.C. § 1401. A minority of people question whether persons who were born US citizens and are classified as citizens at birth under U.S. law should also be considered citizens "by birth," whether they should all be considered to be "naturalized," or whether they should be considered "statutory citizens." There is also some debate over whether there is a meaningful legal distinction between citizens "at birth", citizens "by birth" and "statutory citizens" since U.S. law makes no such distinction, nor does the Fourteenth Amendment use the term "at birth." The law governing the citizenship of children born outside the U.S. to one or more US citizen parents status has varied considerably over time. Current U.S. statutes define certain individuals born overseas as "citizens at birth." A minority view interprets the Constitution as meaning that a person either is born in the United States or is a naturalized citizen.[According to this view, in order to be a "natural born citizen," a person must be born in the United States, or possibly an incorporated territory; otherwise, they are a citizen "by law" and are therefore a "statutory citizen," (not necessarily, however, a naturalized citizen, which implies a pre-existing foreign citizenship). Current State Department policy reads: "Despite widespread popular belief, U.S. military installations abroad and U.S. diplomatic or consular facilities are not part of the United States within the meaning of the 14th Amendment. A child born on the premises of such a facility is not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States and does not acquire U.S. citizenship by reason of birth."However, the State Department is of the opinion that this does not affect those who are born abroad to U.S. citizens and who otherwise meet the qualifications for statutory citizenship. Currently under the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (INA) effective from December 24, 1952 to present, the definition of the "United States" for nationality purposes, was expanded to add Guam; and, effective November 3, 1986, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (in addition to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands of the United States). Persons born in these territories on or after December 24, 1952 acquire U.S. citizenship at birth on the same terms as persons born in other parts of the United States; and "Outlying possessions of the United States" was restricted to American Samoa and Swains Island. Supreme Court cases relating to citizenship, generally
Although the U.S. Supreme Court has never specifically determined the meaning of "natural born Citizen," they have occasionally considered the matter in passing. Again this is your history, so pay attention and learn something. The first case
was the historically drumming Dred Scott v. Sandford, decided in the year 1857): It said-- "In regard to the "natural born citizen" clause, the dissent states that it is acquired by place of birth (jus soli), not through blood or lineage (jus sanguinis): The first section of the second article of the Constitution uses the language, 'a natural born citizen.' It thus assumes that citizenship may be acquired by birth. Undoubtedly, this language of the Constitution was used in reference to that principle of public law, well understood in this country at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, which referred citizenship to the place of birth." (Much of the majority opinion in this case was overturned by the 14th Amendment in 1868.)
United States v. Wong Kim Ark 169 U.S. 649: A person born within the jurisdiction of the U.S. to non-citizens who "are not employed in any diplomatic or official capacity" is automatically a citizen. Then came the case of Perkins v. ELG, 307 U.S. 325 (1939): The US Supreme Court found that a Miss Elg, born of one naturalized US citizen and one foreigner, a Swedish citizen, in Brooklyn, New York was a citizen of the United States. It was somewhat vague about whether she was a natural born citizen or not. By contrast, this decision noted that a Mr. Steinkauler, born in St. Louis, Missouri to two U.S. citizen parents (at least one a naturalized citizen born in Prussia) was a "native-born citizen". Then there was Schneider v. Rusk, 377 U.S. 163 (1964): The Court voided a statute that provided that a naturalized citizen should lose his United States citizenship if, following naturalization, he resided continuously for three years in his former homeland. We start from the premise that the rights of citizenship of the native-born and of the naturalized person are of the same dignity and are coextensive. The only difference drawn by the Constitution is that only the 'natural born' citizen is eligible to be President. Cases in other courts relating specifically to the "natural born citizen" clause
Three United States District Courts have ruled that private citizens do not have standing to challenge the eligibility of candidates to appear on a presidential election ballot: Robinson v. Bowen, 567 F. Supp. 2d 1144
. 2008); Hollander v. McCain, 2008WL2853250 . 2008); Berg v. Obama, 08-04083 . 2008) In dicta in each of these cases, it was also opined that if the plaintiffs did have standing, the likelihood of success on the merits (which is part of the legal test for the issuance of a preliminary injunction) would be low. The opinion in one of the cases also cited to a statutory method by which the eligibility of the President-elect to take office may be challenged in Congress. There are several active federal and state lawsuits against Obama charging that he is not a natural born citizen, and therefore ineligible to hold the office of President of the United States. But this is the most interesting of all! There were indeed Presidential candidates born outside the US!
A small minority of people outside mainstream legal thought dispute whether the foreign-born children of US citizens are natural born citizens. While every President and Vice President to date (as of 2008) has either been a citizen at the adoption of the Constitution in 1789, or else born in the United States, there have been some presidential candidates who were born outside the United States. For example there was dear old
Chester A. Arthur (1829-1886), 21st president of the United States, who was strongly considered to have been born in Canada and therefore might not (according to the minority view) have been a natural-born citizen. This was never demonstrated by his political opponents, although they raised the objection during his vice-presidential campaign. He was born to one US citizen parent and a naturalized US citizen from Ireland. Arthur was sworn in as president after President Garfield died after being shot. Then there was dear old Barry Goldwater. Mr. Conservative, as he was known was born in Arizona in 1909, and ran for the Presidency as a Republican Party candidate in 1964. Goldwater's natural born citizenship status was severely questioned because Arizona was a territory of the United States, and did not become a state until 1912. Then there was George Romney, who ran for the Republican party nomination in 1968, was born in Mexico to U.S. parents. Romney’s grandfather emigrated to Mexico in 1886 with his three wives and children after Utah outlawed polygamy. He refused to change his views about polygamy. That alone today would have defeated him at any election! Romney's parents eventually retained their U.S. citizenship and returned to the United States in 1912. Romney was 32 years old when he arrived in Michigan. Romney never received Mexican citizenship, because the country's nationality laws had been restricted to jus-sanguinis statutes due to prevailing politics especially aimed against American settlers.Lowell Weicker, the former Connecticut Senator, Representative, and Governor, entered the race for the Republican party nomination of 1980 but dropped out before voting in the primaries began. He was born in Paris, France to parents who were U.S. citizens. His father was an executive for E. R. Squibb & Sons and his mother was the Indian-born daughter of a British general.Róger Calero was born in Nicaragua in 1969 and ran as the Socialist Worker's Party Presidential Candidate in 2004 and 2008. In 2008, Calero appeared on the ballot in Delaware, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York and Vermont. Now wait until you hear this one:John McCain, who ran for the Republican party nomination in 2000 and was the Republican nominee in 2008, was born in 1936 at the Coco Solo Naval Air Station in the Panama Canal Zone to U.S. parents. In March 2008 McCain was held barely eligible for Presidency in an opinion paper by former Solicitor General Ted Olsonm and Harvard Law Professor Laurence H. Tribe. In April 2008 the US Senate approved a non-binding resolution recognizing McCain's status as a natural born citizen, but not without a lengthy filibuster. In September 2008 a Federal District judge said that only by his opinion that it was "pretty probable" that McCain was a natural born citizen of the United States owing to the citizenship legislation existing at the time. These views have been criticized by Gabriel J. Chin, Professor of Law at the University of Arizona, who claims that McCain was at birth a citizen of Panama and was only retroactively declared a born citizen under 8 U.S.C.§ 1403.Prominent Elected Officials and Members of a President's Cabinet who are currently ineligible to hold the Presidency The following U.S. citizens are ineligible to become President because neither parent was American, and their mothers were not in America, at the time of their birth:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is a second-term governor of California. He was born in Thal, Austria. Well, we knew that one-- and Arnold will never run for president BUT Fmr. Sec. Madeleine Albright (who was in line to be president) was a United States Ambassador to the United Nations and U.S. Secretary of State under President Bill Clinton and is currently a Professor at Georgetown University. She was born in Prague, in the former Czechoslovakia. Fmr. Sen. Rudy Boschwitz was a United States Senator from Minnesota and is currently Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. He was born in Berlin, Germany. There's more!
Sec. Elaine Chao is the current U.S. Secretary of Labor and a former Director of the Peace Corps. She was was born in Taipei Taiwan Sec. Carlos Gutierrez is the current U.S. Secretary of Commerce. He was born in Havana, Cuba. So my friends-- always look to history for a portrait of the future. When the first eight presidents were born, they were all born prior to 1787 when the Constitution was ratified- and until that Constitution was ratified there was no United States of America. The Articles of Confederation was all power to individual states and did not recognize America as anything but a confederation. A confederation based on the Ancient Greeks formula unites a people by language, mores, philosophy and common interest but not to govern as a central government. There you are. case closed!

Friday, November 28, 2008



Today is Randy Newman's 65th birthday. Randy is an amazing singer-songwriter and has been for four decades. I did learn that he was once part of the group Harper's Bizarre who of course gave us all that great 1967 hit "Feeling Groovy". My favorite Newman song of all time is "You've Got A Friend In Me" that amazing little song from Disney's "Toy Story". You just don't get too much better than that song. Of course my second favorite of his authorship is the Academy Award winning song "If I Didn't Have You" from the Disney-Pixar hit "Monsters Inc". Randy's work as a film composer began in 1971, with his work on the Norman Lear satire Cold Turkey. He returned to film work with 1981's Ragtime, for which he was nominated for two Academy Awards. Something that I didn't know before was that Randy co-wrote the 1986 film ¡Three Amigos! with Steve Martin and Lorne Michaels. Not only that-- Randy wrote three songs for the film, and provided the voice for the hilarious singing bush. He also scored the first four Disney/Pixar feature films; Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2, and Monsters, In. He also scored the 1996 film James and the Giant Peach and the 2006 Disney/Pixar film Cars. Some of his additional film scores include Avalon, Parenthood, Seabiscuit, Awakenings, The Paper, Overboard, Meet the Parents and its sequel, Meet the Fockers. His score for Pleasantville was an Academy Award nominee. He also wrote the songs for Turner's Cats Don't Dance. One of Newman's most iconic and recognizable works is the central theme to The Natural, a dramatic and Oscar-nominated score, which was described by at least one complimentary critic as "Coplandesque."Newman had the dubious distinction of receiving the most Oscar nominations (fifteen) without a single win. His streak was broken when he received the Oscar for "If I Didn't Have You", beating the likes of Enya and Paul McCartney. After receiving an enthusiastic standing ovation, a bemused but emotional Newman began his acceptance speech with "I don't want your pity!"Besides writing songs for films, he also writes songs for television series such as the Emmy-Award winning current theme song of Monk, "It's a Jungle out There".In October 2006 it was revealed that Randy Newman will be writing the music for an upcoming Walt Disney movie called The Princess and the Frog, which is scheduled for release in 2009. During the Walt Disney Company's annual shareholder meeting in March 2007, Randy Newman performed a new song written for the movie. He was accompanied by the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. I spent a quiet Thanksgiving at home cooking for my writing partner John Nugent and my longtime companion John Long. I am very thankful to the many people who give to John Nugent and I their many talents without compensation. The first and foremost is Tim Doran. He's such an amazing person. There isn't very much that I wouldn't do for him. And of course there is Bill Lewis who has been right there for me always for twenty years and great singers like Brian Martin and Paul Horvanes and Karmyn Tyler. They give so very much all of the time. I spent a good portion of the day just calling these people and thanking them for always saying "yes" when I needed them. The only person I missed was dear Tony Westbrook in New York. I was so damn busy with that turkey (I hadn't cooked one in ages of yesterday) that I missed sending him his personal accolade. He is an amazing singer and a tremendous friend. I hope that everyone had a great holiday. And thank you all who have entered my life and given so much. It is also the first Thanksgiving weekend that I have not been in photographic retail in twelve years. It was very strange, but I will let God lead the way as to what comes necxt for me.

Monday, November 24, 2008




On this day in 1991, the recording world lost a giant. Freddie Mercury of Queen. What an amazing performer and songwriter. Freddie only had one great friend in his life. She was Mary Austin. They lived together like man and wife in 1970's. On the other side of the coin was Jim Hutton, a gay hairdresser who was his lover and the one person at his bedside when he died. As a performer, Freddie was known for his four-octave vocal range and onstage theatricality. As a songwriter, he composed many international hits, including "Bohemian Rhapsody", "Killer Queen", "Somebody to Love", "Don't Stop Me Now", "We Are the Champions", "Crazy Little Thing Called Love", and "Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy". In addition to his work with Queen, he also led a solo career with moderate success, and was occasionally a producer and guest musician (piano or vocals) for other artists. Mercury, who was of Indian Parsi descent and grew up in India, has been referred to as "Britain's first Asian rock star." He died of bronchopneumonia induced by HIV (AIDS) on 24 November 1991, only one day after publicly acknowledging he had the disease. In 2006, Time Asia named Mercury as one of the most influential Asian heroes of the past 60 years. There was even a Broadway play that opened on this date with the premise that Freddie was allowed to come back from death and address "the unfinished business" of his life. Today also marks the opening in 1950 on Broadway of the classic MUSICAL "Guys and Dolls". Crafted from two Damon Runyon short stories and part of a third we were introduced to Nathan Detroit, Sky Masterson, Nicely, Nicely Johnson (oh how I remember how well the role was played by my friend David Holmes) and Miss Adelaide. I attended my great nephew's eleventh birthday yesterday. Wow, how time passes! It was a fun afternoon.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Where were you on this date in 1963? I was sixteen years old and the assassination of my hero John Fitzgerald Kennedy was probably the most earth shattering event of my entire life. That was forty-five years ago today at 12:30 pm Texas time. John Kennedy represented hope and change and without one doubt: courage. As a true fan of American History, I can tell that you that without a doubt that if Richard M. Nixon had been elected president in 1960 instead of JFK, the third World War would have begun over the Cuban Missile Crisis in October of 1962. Some say that the forty-six year president was assassinated over his failure to invade Cuba in that crisis. What a loss! How much American history would have been changed had he lived. John Kennedy may not have been perfect (and who that is human, really is) but he was always thinking of the common man. He was always thinking of the common American's struggle. As I finish this small tribute, it is exactly the time that the first bullets rang out from that Texas school book depository. Do I think that Oswald acted alone? Absolutely not! The Supreme Court agreed in 1978, my friend John Nugent tells me and nothing was done to correct miss stated facts. God love you, John Kennedy, wherever you may be at this moment. Guide and protect our new president who seems to have the same brave thoughts of you.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

GETTYSBURG AND THE EDSEL




On this date in 1863, Abraham Lincoln gave his historic Gettysburg Address. Thirteen sentences written on the back of an envelope while on the train journey to the fabled graveyard. It turned out to be the most important political speech of any American president in almost two hundred years. There is now a plan to honor Lincoln at Disneyland. For the ir 55th anniversary, Lincoln will finally return to the Disneyland Opera House on Main Street. He will be joined on stahe by an audio animatronic President George Washington who will say a few words. Then Washington will introduce our newest president Barrack Obama. That should be very special. Today in 1958 the Ford Motor Company finally and mercifully put the brakes to the most unpopular car in automotive history-- the one and only Edsel. As they say in Hollywood "What were they thinking?" A picture of this poor unfortunate looking car can be seen on today's site. It was also on this day in 1990 that the "humbug boys"-- otherwise known as MIlli Vanilli were required to give back their Grammy award after it was revealed that neither one of these guys had sung on their own records. They got caught during a performance at a German amusement park. They were performing by lip-syncing (as they usually did in concerts) and the record starting skipping over the lines "Baby, it's over"-- which got repeated over and over and over again. Oh the way we get caught! Happy Birthday today to character actor Alan Young from "Mister Ed" fame. He is 89. Larry King turns 75. Good old Dick Cavett is 72 and Ted Turner is 70. I am starting a new musical idea today a project I call "Death Does Broadway". I wrote a six page treatment and so far and it looks fun. Work continues on "The Revenge of Ichabod Crane". Today is a most beautiful day!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

MICKEY MOUSE AND JOHNNY MERCER




Today is Mickey Mouse's 80th birthday. What a grand career the grand old mouse has had and what a goldmine he has proven to be for The Walt Disney Company. Mickey has a lot of dreams possible. I wrote a great song once called "What Do We Love About the Mouse? that really tells it all. I have of course a great affection for this amazing creation. He is so simple and so amazing.Steamboat Willie was first released on this date (November 18, 1928. It was co-directed by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks. Iwerks again served as the head animator, assisted by Johnny Cannon, Les Clark, Wilfred Jackson and Dick Lundy. This short was intended as a parody of Buster Keaton s Steamboat Bill Jr., first released on May 12 of the same year. Although it was the third Mickey cartoon produced, it was the first to find a distributor, and thus has been cited as Mickey's debut. Willie featured changes to Mickey's appearance (in particular, simplifying his eyes to large dots) that established his look for later cartoons.
But the cartoon was not the first to feature a soundtrack connected to the action. Fleischer Studios, headed by brothers Dave and Max Fleischer, had already released a number of sound cartoons using the DeForest system in the mid-1920s. However, these cartoons did not keep the sound synchronized throughout the film. For Willie, Disney had the sound recorded with a click track (that same great device that we use in the recording studio, today) that kept the musicians on the beat. This precise timing is apparent during the "Turkey in the Straw" sequence, when Mickey's actions exactly match the accompanying instruments. Animation historians have long debated who had served as the composer for the film's original music. This role has been variously attributed to Wilfred Jackson, Carl Stalling and Bert Lewis, but identification remains uncertain. Walt Disney himself was voice actor for both Mickey and Minnie.The script had Mickey serving aboard Steamboat Willie under Captain Pete. At first he is seen piloting the steamboat while whistling. Then Pete arrives to take over piloting and angrily throws him out of the boat's bridge. They soon have to stop for cargo to be transferred on board. Almost as soon as they leave, Minnie arrives. She was apparently supposed to be their only passenger but was late to board. Mickey manages to pick her up from the river shore. Minnie accidentally drops her sheet music for the popular folk song "Turkey in the Straw". A goat which was among the animals transported on the steamboat proceeds to eat the sheet music. Consequently Mickey and Minnie use its tail to turn it into a phonograph which is playing the tune. Through the rest of the short, Mickey uses various other animals as musical instruments. Captain Pete is eventually disturbed by all this noise and places Mickey back to work. Mickey is reduced to peeling potatoes for the rest of the trip. A parrot attempts to make fun of him but is then thrown to the river by Mickey. This served as the final scene of this short.Audiences at the time of Steamboat Willie's release were reportedly very impressed by the use of sound for comedic purposes. Sound films were still considered innovative. The first feature-length movie with dialogue sequences, The Jazz Singer starring Al Jolson, was released on October 6, 1927. Within a year of its success, most United States movie theaters had installed sound film equipment. Walt Disney apparently intended to take advantage of this new trend and, arguably, managed to succeed. Most other cartoon studios were still producing silent products and so were unable to effectively act as competition to Disney. As a result Mickey would soon become the most prominent animated character of the time. Walt Disney soon worked on adding sound to both Plane Crazy and The Gallopin' Gaucho (which had originally been silent releases) and their new release added to Mickey's success and popularity. A fourth Mickey short, The Barn Dance, was also put into production; however, Mickey does not actually speak until The Karnival Kid in 1929 when his first spoken words were "Hot dogs, Hot dogs!" After Steamboat Willie was released, Mickey became a close competitor to Felix the Cat, and his popularity would grow as he was continuously featured in sound cartoons. By 1929, Felix would lose popularity among theater audiences, and Pat Sullivan decided to produce all future Felix cartoons in sound as a result. Unfortunately, audiences did not respond well to Felix's transition to sound and by 1930, Felix had faded from the screen. But Today is also the birthday of one of the greatest lyricists of all time: the late great Johnny Mercer who died in 1976 -- three whole years before I ever really wrote my own song, myself. It also was on this date in
1928. that Johnny Mercer came to New York City where with a roommate he existed by eating oatmeal (sound familiar?) His very first song was "the little ditty "I'm Out Of Breath And Scared To Death of You" followed closely by I'm Building Up To An Awful Let Down" for Fred Astaire. Those songs failed, but in 1932, he had his first big hit in a song that he wrote both music and lyrics for called "I'm An Old Cowhand, On The Rio Grande.) Of course he wrote such amazing songs as Moon River", "Jeepers Creepers" and Frank Sinatra's big hit "Goody, Goody". It's also the birthday of another great lyricist: the one and only W.S. Gilbert and today would have been the 100th birthday of an amazing comedienne who I actually got to meet (I'm showing my age, here) during a performance of my Christmas musical "A Moment With Mister "C" way back in 1984 at the late great, Gio's Cabaret in Hollywood-- where Broadway On Sunset was born. I continue writing with John Nugent as we edge up to our big deadline on November 30th. He has finished the opening number to our new musical "THE REVENGE OF ICHABOD CRANE" and it's simply amazing. We open the show with the ending of the famous Washington Irving classic story, but we soon discover that Ichabod was not killed at all, but was saved by a most surprising character. The script and lyrics are all finished as well as one other new song sung by Ichabod's character called "After All". Well, more later. Today is a most beautiful sunny day.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A PROTEST OVER WAR AND ANOTHER KIND OF PROTEST




On this day in 1969, two hundred and fifty thousand people including four aides of Richard Nixon 's White House protested the Vietnam War in Washington D.C. It was the largest single gathering of people for a specific protest in United States history.A vast throng of Americans, predominantly youthful and constituting the largest mass march in the nation's capital, demonstrated peacefully demanding a rapid withdrawal of United States troops from Vietnam.The District of Columbia Police Chief, Jerry Wilson, said a "moderate" estimate was that 250,000 had paraded on Pennsylvania Avenue and had attended an antiwar rally at the Washington Monument. Other city officials said aerial photographs would later show that the crowd had exceeded 300,000.Until this day long ago, the largest outpouring of demonstrators had been the gentle civil rights march of 1963, which attracted, 200,000. Observers of both marches said the throng that appeared today was clearly greater than the outpouring of 1963. And yesterday came another protest of a different kind-- a backlash against the passage of Proposition Eight that added fourteen words to the Constitution of the State of California. The protest was held at City Hall-- (the crowd was amazing) Those fourteen words ended the opportunity for those of us who are so proud to be gay the opportunity to marry our significant others. Of course the culprit in all of this are the Mormons. Their financial contributions attributed 70% of all the money (that's a lot) that the "Yes On Eight" collected. And they were NOT just Mormons from California, but from Utah. What in the hell gives anyone outside of California the right to contribute money for a California issue? Unfortunately, it will not just be the Mormons who will feel this backlash. It will be the entire state of Utah in one of the largest boycotts called for that i have ever heard of. The boycott will be against their tourism, skiing, products,even the Sundance Film Festival. So I can hear you saying "It's over-- why are you so upset-- drop it" Oh no you don't. The battle may have been lost, but the war rages on. As that wonderful quotation goes from Winston Churchill "They came for the Jews, and I wasn't Jewish, so I did nothing. Then the came for the Catholics, and I wasn't Catholic, so i did nothing. Then they came for the gypsies, and the artists, and I wasn't either one of those and again I did nothing. And then they came for ME, and I wasn't even sure why--but by then, it was just damn late." John Nugent and I went into Hollywood yesterday by train. It was where we saw all the protesters. You couldn't move in that train. There were more young people holding signs and banners. Funny thing, in the entire group of eighteen crowded in the single car of that train, not one of them was gay. "Wrong is wrong" they all said.
John and I had a nice lunch and went to Grauman's Chinese theatre and saw the strangest film I have seen in a long time. It was called "What Happens Next" and starred Robert Di Niro as a very strange Hollywood producer, John Lugano as a a desperate screenwriter with a vengeance, Sean Penn and Bruce Willis in the strangest role I have ever seen him play. Involved in the plot was a funeral of a young top Hollywood agent who had killed himself because he was married and had an affair with Di Niro's seventeen year old daughter. The funeral sequences were all filmed at Rose Hills where my friend Tim Doran works playing the organ for deceased clients. Not only in the main chapel called SkyRose but on their funeral grounds involving an open burial plot. Strange!!! I wonder if the Rose Hills people knew what these guys were filming. With an extraordinarily amount of bad language, things done in bad taste and disrespect, this picture is going nowhere. Big errors: In the movie, Bruce Willis (who plays himself, by the way) refuses to shave his fully developed beard even at the demand of the studio and its threat to cancel the movie and sue Willis. Willis goes really really amok when there is a confrontation. Trust me, I was an agent, no big star is going to risk the cancellation of a movie and a thirty million dollar law suit over a beard. The other funny thing is that the agent who comitts suicide is Jewish--funny thing his funeral is at least a week later. Sorry! Jews must be buried within twenty four hours because they can not be embalmed. People were walking out and there wasn't that many people in this theatre to begin with. Oh well, another movie bites the dust. Had it not been for all the respect I hold for Robert DiNiro, John and I would have walked out. We went over to the Virgin Megastore and noticed some really great musicals on DVD for only $10. So I picked up "Cabaret" and John picked up "Camelot."

Friday, November 14, 2008

AARON COPLAND AND A FAMOUS WHALE


On this day in 1900, the ultimate American composer was born. This of course was Aaron Copland the composer of 1944's "Appalachian Spring", 1952's "The Tender Land" "A Lincoln Portrait composed in 1942, (which I really want to hear) "Music and Imagination of 1952 and "Fanfare" of 1940. "Billy The Kid" being perhaps the most famous along with 1940's "Fanfare For The Common Man". Amazingly he even musicalized twelve poem of Emily Dickinson, one of my all time favorite poets.Aaron was a moral conservative by nature, a calm, affable, modest and mild-mannered man, who masked his feelings. Even friends found it hard to crack his facade. Though shy, he preferred to be in a crowd than alone. He lived simply, and approached composing in the same manner. He was an avid reader. He always remained thrifty, even after he achieved substantial wealth. In company, Copland could be “almost devilishly droll” and fun-loving. His tact served him well in his private life and in his public life as a moderator, committee man, and teacher. Copland was a constant and diligent worker and a night owl, who composed primarily at the piano and at a relatively slow pace. He was careful in assembling and storing his documents and scores, as well, so he could later find and re-use earlier ideas and themes. Deciding not to follow the example of his father, a solid Democrat, Copland never enrolled as a member of any political party; but he espoused a general progressive view and had strong ties with numerous colleagues and friends in the Popular Front, including Odetts. Copland supported the Communist Party USA ticket during the 1936 presidential election, at the height of his involvement with The Group Theater and remained a committed opponent of militarism and the Cold War, which he regarded as having been instigated by the United States. He condemned it as, "almost worse for art than the real thing". Throw the artist "into a mood of suspicion, ill-will, and dread that typifies the cold war attitude and he'll create nothing". In keeping with these attitudes, Copland was a strong supporter of the Presidential candidacy of Henry A. Wallace on the Progressive Party ticket. As a result, he was later investigated by the FBI during the Red scare of the 1950s and found himself blacklisted. Copland was included on an FBI list of 151 artists thought to have Communist associations. Joseph McCarthy and Roy Cohn questioned Copland about his lecturing abroad, neglecting completely Copland’s works which made a virtue of American values. Outraged by the accusations, many members of the musical community held up Copland's music as a banner of his patriotism. The investigations ceased in 1955 and were closed in 1975. That means he was under some kind of suspicion for two decades! Though taxing of his time, energy, and emotional state, Copland’s career and international artistic reputation were not seriously affected by the McCarthy probes In any case, beginning in 1950, Copland, who had been appalled at Stalin's persecution of Shostakovich and other artists, began resigning from participation in leftist groups. He decried the lack of artistic freedom in the Soviet Union and in his 1954 Norton lecture, asserted that loss of freedom under Soviet Communism deprived artists of "the immemorial right of the artist to be wrong". He began to vote Democratic, first for Stevenson and then Kennedy. Copland is documented as a gay man in author Howard Pollack's biography, Aaron Copland: The Life and Work of an Uncommon Man. Like many of his contemporaries he guarded his privacy, especially in regard to his homosexuality, providing very few written details about his private life. However, he was one of the few composers of his stature to live openly and travel with his lovers, most of whom were talented, much younger men. Among Copland's love affairs, most of which lasted for only a few years yet became enduring friendships, were ones with photographer Viktor Kraft, artist Alvin Ross, pianist Paul Moor, dancer Erik Johns and composer John Brodbin Kennedy. My insurance study classes continue and its very odd being out of work in a Christmas holiday retail season. But I am writing like crazy with John Nugent and it is very satisfying. I have just completed the books and lyrics of another musical (that's seven with John now) called "THE REVENGE OF ICHABOD CRANE". Because I am always asking questions like "Wouldn't it be funny if..." Wouldn't it be crazy if..." and one day, because it happened to be the birthday of Washington Irving, (and I loved his story of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow) I asked myself out loud "What might really have become of Ichabod Crane?" Assuming he wasn't killed (a thrown pumpkin doesn't make a great murder weapon) What if got a chance to come back and get revenge. I was reading that Washington Irving had invented the phrase "The Almighty Dollar". How often had my father used that expression. That set off a catalyst: what happened if good old Sleepy Hollow had become a money hungry town called "Dollarville" So that's where the idea took off from. The creative process is sometimes a mysterious one. And lastly today was the day that one of my favorite novels was published-- Dear old "Moby Dick" by Herman Melvile in 1851. When I subbed once for a teacher friend of mine the assignment was "Moby Dick". Since I had to make up the test, I told the kids that if they didn't read the book, they would never pass the test because the first question was a pass or fail. The question: How does the novel "Moby Dick" begin. It's one of the most famous openings in literature: "Call Me Ishmael." How many of you knew that one?

Saturday, November 08, 2008

A HISTORIC ELECTION DAY





On this historic date way back in the year 1960, John Kennedy became the 35th president of the United States of America. It was such a close election, not like the mandate we have all witnessed recently. It has been ascertained that John Kennedy was certainly the right man for the times. The October Cuban Missile Crisis that took place in 1962 would have come to a ghastly conclusion if "Tricky Dick had been at the switch". I firmly believe that God does indeed bless America and that our future is in His hands. We are paying for our folly of the last eight years and now we need a giant fix quick. I think Obama will not disappoint us. Gloom and dooming is not the answer here. If you are disappointed, ask yourself: were you knocking on doors for the opposition , were you manning the telephones--even at a late date? Did you have a campaign sign on your lawn? Did you donate even a little money? As John Kennedy once said "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for the country. He also said "If you're not part of the solution, you're hiding behind the problem." Today several landslides happenedv in US History. Ronald Reagan became the Governor of California in 1966. FDR soundly defeated poor Herbert Hoover in 1932. George Bush Sr. blasted Michael Dukakas in 1988-- just twenty years ago. The people speak loudly always. As our dear Saviour said "Judge not, and ye shall not be judged." That commandment is loud and clear. I would not want the cookie cutter of my instant value judgements or opinions to be applied against me-- which will happen at the final judgement. Interestingly, a famous Texas football star is today out of a job because he put negative comments on Face Book about the new president. And today, I was told that two former associates of mine from Ritz Camera have now faced the same penalty. When they objected, the company said "Our customers read the Internet including Face Book and My Space. Your views have tainted our business image when it needs to be bolstered the most." Then came strike two: their unemployment benefits are being challenged. I took out my old Ritz Summary of Procedures and sure enough there was a whole section against portraying yourself or your views in a negative fashion in a public forum. I haven't been with Ritz since July and I still get former customers who stop me and ask how I am. Funny thing is: I don't recognize half of THEM until they give me clues. If you signed that agreement like I did: the company is one hundred percent justified. History will always give us the answers we need. As Benjamin Franklin said "We must doubt our own certainty, just a little bit more." We can only "Have It Our Way" at Burger King.

Friday, November 07, 2008

YANKEE DOODLE DANDY'S PREMIERE




On this date in 1904, the song classic "Yankee Doodle Dandy" was first heard sung from the Broadway stage in a musical written by George M. Cohan. The musical was called "Little Johnny Jones" and although the musical only eighty-two performances, the song of course went on to an amazing popularity. What is interesting is that what we hear today is only the "Chorus" of the song. John Nugent and I have completed a new musical that features a lost George M. Cohan musical discovered by Dominican Nuns who have taken up residence in an abandoned Broadway Theatre and in order to stay in this historical must produce a musical there. What great fun it should be. We also hear that there is in the works a Betty Boop musical in 2010. Betty Boop of course was an amazing star of Max Fleshier who competed with Walt Disney in the making of animated cartoons. What most people do not know is that Max Flesher actually would have been the first producer of a full length cartoon feature back in December of 1937. Max had produced a full length feature cartoon in that time called "Gulliver's Travels". This is a most beautiful picture. The reason that "Snow White" became the first feature animated cartoon was that Walt Disney was an independent producer and Max Fliesher was part of Paramount and Adolph Zukor. Zukor thought the notion of a full length cartoon was absolutely insane and he blocked the release of this amazing animated film thus denying Fleishier of being "the first" with a full length animated cartoon. Sad news also: the musical "A Tale of Two Cities" will close November 16th after only sixty-eight performances. Amazingly the Al Hirschfield theatre will put on a new production of 1967's Hair. It's composer Galt MacDermott is still alive at EIGHTY years old. We shall see what we shall see. My partner John says it just won't work because it never has succeeded in a revival before. It opened in 1967 and ran three years, but is so ingrained to the class and culture of the 1960's that there is just no way a younger audience will get it. A Revival in 1978 totally bombed. Well, good luck with that, boys. You are going to spend a lot of money putting this on. By the way, just in case you are curious, here are ALL the words to the song "Yankee Doodle Dandy" which is actually called "The Yankee Doodle Boy" by Cohan's own title on his show music.
Verse 1
I'm the kid that's all the candy,
I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy,
I'm glad I am,
So's Uncle Sam.
I'm a real live Yankee Doodle,
Made my name and fame and boodle,
Just like Mister Doodle did, by riding on a pony.
I love to listen to the Dixie strain,
I long to see the girl I left behind me;
That ain't a josh, She's a Yankee, by gosh.
Oh, say can you see,
Anything about a Yankee that's a phony?
Verse 2
Father's name was Hezikiah,
Mother's name was Ann Maria,
Yanks through and through.
Red, White and Blue
Father was so Yankee-hearted,
When the Spanish War was started,
He slipped on a uniform and hopped upon a pony.
My mother's mother was a Yankee true,
My father's father was a Yankee too:
That's going some,
For the Yankees, by gum.
Oh, say can you see
Anything about my pedigree that's phony?
Chorus
I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy,
A Yankee Doodle, do or die;
A real live nephew of my Uncle Sam's,
Born on the Fourth of July
I've got a Yankee Doodle sweetheart,
She's my Yankee Doodle joy.
Yankee Doodle came to London, just to ride the ponies;
I am the Yankee Doodle Boy.
Oh well-- who said the verse ever saved a song?--especially in the early 1900's? By the way the picture of George M. Cohan in this blog entry was taken in 1933. Bye for now!

Thursday, November 06, 2008




Today we celebrate the birthday of John Philip Sousa who I understand wrote four Broadway musicals as well as his world famous marching band pieces. Also An interesting day in history today. On this date in 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected by a land slide the 16th president.
Everybody thought the world and the country was going to come to it's end because of the election of this kind and saintly man. Experience? Two terms in the House of Representatives and a celebrated law career. He lost the election that would have made him a US Senator. Opponents of the Civil War (also known as "Copperheads") criticized Lincoln for refusing to compromise on the slavery issue. Conversely, the Radical Republicans, an abolitionist faction of the Republican Party, criticized him for moving too slowly in abolishing slavery. Even with these road blocks, Lincoln successfully rallied public opinion through his rhetoric and speeches; his Gettysburg Address is but one example of this. At the close of the war, Lincoln held a moderate view of Reconstruction, seeking to speedily reunite the nation through a policy of generous reconciliation. His assassination in 1865 was the first presidential assassination in U.S. history and made him a martyr for the ideal of national unity. Lincoln has been consistently ranked by scholars as one of the greatest U.S. Presidents. Today also marks the election of Herbert Hoover in 1928 (and we all know what happened in 1929, just seven months after Hoover took office on March 4th, 1929) Hoover defeated Al Smith, the first Roman Catholic presidential candidate. Oh my, what this poor man was accused of by Hoover and his supporters. And Hoover was absolutely helpless in these four disastrous years. Benjamin Harrison defeated Grover Cleveland (by an Electoral College win only) on this day in 1888 in what the experts say was simply a fraudulent election, principally in New York and Harrison's own state in Indiana. Harrison helped create "The Billion Dollar Congress" spending one billion dollars in four short years. History will always show you the truth. And if you want an answer, look to our country's history before making a judgement.