Wednesday, January 30, 2008


*Today is the birthday of three great showmen: Mr. Eddie Cantor, Hal Prince and the late great and amazing Mario Lanza. I had an association with Hal while we were in negotiations with his company for adapting "Some of My Best Friends: into the musical based on that play called "Mr. Mumford's Miracle". I was adapting with "Friends*' author Stanley Hart. It was a nice friendship that all changed after 9/11. But that's another story.
Eddie Cantor was a classic performer. And he was one of my all time favorite performers. His song "Making Whoopie" was a comedy classic. Eddie Cantor introduced a *christmas song in 1934 on his radio program that had been dismissed by several fanous performers for being too juvenile and underwhelming. That song was "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" -- and after one performance by "mister "c" the song sold four hundred thousand copies of the song and 175,000n in sheet music sales. Not bad! Mario Lanza had one of the most amazing voices since Caruso. Mario of course played the part of Caruso in that amazing 1952 MGM musical. He died tragically at the tender age of thirty-eight. My favorite movie of his was "The Seven Hills Of Rome" in 1958. My only hope is that Mario is singing with the angels. The first manager's meeting with the new district manager will be Friday in Riverside. Long day's drive that day. Well, until later!!!

Saturday, January 26, 2008


Dr. Krupp
Griffith J. Griffith

Today, my friend John Nugent and I took a little trip to the "new" yet still classic "Griffith Observatory. I hadn't been up Vermont Canyon Road or to the observatory, itself in over ten years. It was a beautiful day and the views of Los Angeles and the Hollywood Sign on Mount Lee were absolutely spectacular. The new planetarium show was incredible and the narrator of the show has the most unique performance voice I have heard in many many years. My old friend. Dr. Krupp is the director of the observatory and has been since 1974. I used to wait on the good doctor when he used to come into my old place of employment Hooper Camera on Lankershim Blvd in North Hollywood. He always wanted to buy as much Kodachrome Slide Film in as much quantity as he could. He photographed all the reconstruction that went on at the observatory when it was closed to the public between January 6th, 2002 and November of 2006. The restoration is simply amazing. They have added a basement floor for new exhibit space that is wonderful. Assyrian was painted and the roof was sealed to prevent the constant leaks every time it rained. Of course it was Griffith J. Griffith (see old photo) who immigrated from Wales and made millions in silver mines who donated over two thousand acres of land and one hundred thousand dollars to the city of L0sAngeles to establish the park and build the observatory. Parking was a breeze! Unlike in the old days! The only negative thing was the restaurant that they call "The restaurant at The End Of The Universe"-- it's supposed to have food by Wolfgang Puck-- but friends, let me tell you this food tasted like it came from the "end of the universe" and "the bottom of the puck" I really think the observatory can do so much better than this! But the day as a whole was wonderful and it was a great day to take off from work!


Thursday, January 24, 2008


Today from out of the bluest of the blue, I received a telephone call from a gentleman that I had not seen or talked to since I was fourteen years old. He was nineteen. His name is Leon Kaplan --( I hope that's the correct spelling)-- and he was my older sister's first boyfriend way back in 1961. Now, you may remember than I am sixty years old and he is now sixty-five. Now that me feel old fast, but it was also delightful to talk with him. He had a great life and had followed his heart to other paths. But it was really nice to talk with someone who had know n my mother and dad fondly and remembered them as being the amazing couple that they were. We talked about the Easters and the Christmases and how my dad painted and it was all very pleasant. I am happy that he likes my writing and can appreciate the hard work that goes into it all. I am amazed myself just how I got into this crazy songwriting career== the absolute sheer chance in a million that allowed me to become a songwriter. A lot of people don't understand my creativity. Sometimes my own sisters don't. But that's okay because I know I am following God's plan for my life. People are amazed that I have stuck with this for as long as I have, but I have a nickname of "Tenacity Jones"-- and that kind of explains it all. There is a great and wonderful difference between the word "stubborn" and the word "tenacious". If we are stubborn we stick with something because we are too vain to give it all up. But if we are "tenacious", we stick like glue to something because we not only hear a "different drummer" but we also hear a voice within our very souls and hearts that cries out: "Don't walk away -- the miracle is coming. That voice is God's . He whispers to our hearts and our hearts (who will never tell us a lie) shouts the joyous good news to us. So many times we don't follow the Good Lord's plan for our lives. We fight Him. We go our own way. And then after everything goes wrong, we wonder why our lives turned out as they have. I wrote once in a musical of mine a very prophetic line. That line was "God requires nothing, but desires a great deal" What God desires is for us to follow the road he has designed. Okay so we think we are on that road. And the worse happens. our hearts are broken. our spirits are crushed, our dreams don't come true. But maybe just maybe we didn't hear the message of our hearts. What we heard was our pride selling us a dream like a cheap carnival barker-- "Step right up-- take a chance-- everybody wins. I'm afraid not, If everybody "won" every contest of life, the carnival of living would soon be out of prizes. Then we'd never have a chance anyway. I wrote a song called "Listen To Your Heart" that is currently at my website: that can found in the music section. I urge you to listen to it. It might just tell you something you need to hear. I am happy that I heard from Leon Kaplan today. He has had a great life and has grandchildren and is still grateful for his days with my sister. We are who were meant to be-- sometimes by accident, sometimes by heartbreak and sometimes by a long journey in the desert of life. We must trust in our hearts and we must trust in God. Happy accidents have filled my life. One is my amazing friend TIM DORAN-- who has given so much to me over the years. he has shared and taught me so much. Another is dear sweet John Nugent whom I am now writing with. Now if John is not a walking blessing from God, then I must be blind, death and lame in all perception of living. I call him "The Gift"-- and he is. The odds of my meeting and writing with him (more at one time with than I ever have with in my life) was about one billion jillion to one. With Tim, one billion gillion and three. Why do we question the gifts in our life? Who knows? Some people not only look that gift horse in the mouth, they start counting the cavities while they are at it. All of the blessings of my life: Tony Westbrook, Terry Snyder, David Holmes, Bill Lewis and SMOOTH SOUND studios where i do all my recording. So God Bless you, Leon-- it was nice to hear from you.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Congrats to Johnny Depp on his Oscar nomination for best actor on "SWEENEY TODD" --it really was an amazing adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's classic Broadway musical . Thank goodness --its very good news for musical theatre fans. Our new ad goes out for the recording of songs from the musicals that John Nugent and I are writing together including SEVENLY, a big farcical spoof, THE RUNAWAY HEART a romantic comedy based on very true events, THE WILD SWANS another classic fairy tale by HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN and "BROADWAY ANGELS"-- a most unique musical comedy. You will find the ad next week in print in BACKSTAGE WEST and online sooner. John and I are writing like crazy trying for an ASCAP grant and entering the competition for the ASCAP Musical Theatre Workshop directed by Steven Swartz. Steven accomplished a lot at the Oscar nominations. He and Alan Menken both received three nominations for best song for the same movie they wrote songs together for called "ENCHANTED"-- very very nice! By the way, my two year anniversary is on January 25th and this poor tired manager is taking two days off and taking the train to Santa Barbara. John and I got a new VIZIO 36 inch High definition television today-- the colors and details are simply incredible. First new thing we've bought in a while. My condolences to the family of Zippy Manus--one of the original founders of "Broadway On Sunset" where our "SKYLARK", as well as "THE INVITATION" and a "MOMENT WITH MISTER "C" premiered in the mid 1980's. She was a super lady and fought hard for original musical theatre in Los Angeles. Well until next time!

Saturday, January 19, 2008


Well, it's been awhile since I've written here. It's been a very busy month with a new district manager coming in at work and solving all of the problems at work. The health department was out and is requiring us to fix damaged ceiling tiles and holes that may lead to the roof. it also appears that our mall has an infestation problem of mice and some roaches which all must be controlled with a non-chemical means-- glue traps and mice traps. Then the fire department came in and cited us for not having our fire extinguishers being current and lighting faulty ballasts in the neon lighting. Wow! John Nugent and I finally got a day off and went to Catalina. Peaceful! Great boat trip! I had never been there on a January day -- and it was certainly very quiet over there. John loved it. We took a city tour and then toured the famous Casino that was built by William Wrigley (the chewing gum guy) and oh what opulence. The movie house downstairs has perfect acoustics and it's art deco design is simply stunning. Upstairs in the ballroom, we saw where some of the greatest bandleader entertainers in the world played. Benny Goodman, Bob Crosby and his "Bobcats" and Count Basie. Then the next day, I discovered I had won the Christmas camera contest at work and won another expensive cam corder and another expensive digital camera. Now what the heck was i going to do with more cameras? So I discovered that Jerry Jackson wanted one of them and one of my customers at work who plays the piano wanted the other. So I traded each camera for time at the studio and the services of a piano player and got a wonderful recording of several new songs from different shows recorded including "SEVEN" which John and I have renamed "SEVENLY" (because a murder mystery musical is being made with that name plus "The Wild Swans" (another story from Hans Christian Andersen) and a third show entitled "A Little Bit of Broadway" . We got twelve songs recorded that night for absolutely FREE. You don't get any better than that. Maybe my luck is finally beginning to change. I have decided that the approach is to get as many songs recorded as possible in an evening if nothing else but to get the tracks down. Then one can always go back and fix up the problems on a smaller scale evening. Well, its off to another busy day at work!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


Today is the 82nd birthday of a television legend- Mr. Soupy Sales. Of course, my connection with him goes back to those glorious days when I did some of his famous character voices while Clyde Adler was recovering from a heart attack. The show was originally called 12 O'clock Comics and was later also known as The Soupy Sales Show. Improvised and slapstick in nature, Lunch with Soupy Sales was a rapid-fire stream of sketches, gags, and puns. Almost all resulted in Sales receiving a pie in the face, which became his trademark.
Sales developed pie-throwing into an art form — straight to the face, on top of the head, a pie to both ears from behind, moving into a stationary pie and countless other variations. By some estimates, Soupy has been hit by over 25,000 pies.
Just in cadse you've forgotten some of those wonderful characters they are:
White Fang, "The Biggest and Meanest Dog in the USA", who appeared only as a giant white shaggy paw with black triangular felt "claws" jutting out from the corner of the screen. Fang spoke with unintelligible short grunts and growls, which Soupy repeated back in English, often for comic effect. White Fang was often the pie thrower when Soupy's jokes bombed.
Black Tooth, "The Biggest and Sweetest Dog in the USA". Also seen only as a giant black paw with white triangular felt (just the opposite of White Fang), and with more feminine, but similarly unintelligible, dialogue. Black Tooth's trademark was pulling Soupy off-camera to give loud and noisy kisses.
Hippie the Hippo, who occasionally appeared with Pookie the Lion never spoke at all.
Pookie the Lion, a lion puppet appearing in a large window behind Soupy 1950s was a hipster with a rapier wit. His repartee with Soupy was rapid-fire. For example: Soupy: "Do you know why my life is so miserable?" Pookie: "You got me!" Soupy: "That's why!"
Other regular characters were:

Marilyn Von Wolf: a takeoff dog puppet character that reminded you of Marilyn Monroe. The Little Boy Next Door, Count Dracula and Soupy's Neighbor. There was also
Peaches, Soupy's girlfriend, played by Sales in drag.
Philo Kvetch, a private detective played by Sales in a long-running comedy skit during the show's New York run (a parody of early 20th century fictional detective Philo Vance).
The Mask, evil nemesis of Philo Kvetch, revealed in the last episode to be Nikita Khrushchev, who had been deposed about a year earlier. "Onions" Oregano, henchman of The Mask, played by Frank Nastasi, who ate loads of onions. Every time Oregano would breathe in Philo's direction, Philo would make all sorts of comic choking faces, pull out a can of air freshener, say "Get those onions out of here!", etc. There was also Hobart and Reba, husband and wife who lived in the potbelly stove on set. They are never seen on screen, only their voices heard coming from the stove, saying things like, “Show me a cow dressed in rags, and I will show you a bum steer” and Hobart saying, “Cool it Reba.” Willie the worm, who flexed in and out of an apple on Soupy's breakfast table when speaking; Willie helped read birthday greetings to Detroit area viewers while the show was on WXYZ in Detroit. Oh yes, my memories of Soupy sales were grand indeed-- and the best money I ever earned in my life.
Oh yes, today is also the birthday of the king-- Elvis Presley.
And tomorrow i get to meet my new district manager for Ritz camera District 90. Fingers crossed that all goes well with that meeting.

Thursday, January 03, 2008


Well, indeed the new year has arrived and all hopes are in place that this year -- my 60th new year-- will be better than 2007. The last year saw some hope and brought a new job, but there are big challenges ahead. My new collaborator, John Nugent and I celebrated at Miceli's Restaraunt -- a mere five blocks from Universal Studios. Here is a most festive place where the waiters and waitresses all sing and perform. one can hear anything from classic Sinatra tunes like "That's Life" to a medley of Sondheim tunes or Broadway eleven o' clock numbers like "Old Man River" from "Showboat" or "This Is The Moment" from "Jekyll and Hyde" Even a little opera. The food is wonderful and the celebration is grand. It was amusing to hear the long list of "goodbye and good night" songs that the piano player played to get the crowd into the idea that "the party was over at about 12:45 am. After all, these guys normally close at 11pm. I was reminded of a New years eve at a classic restarunt in 1980. That was at the Brown Derby, that old classic Hollywood landmark that was demolished over twenty years ago. Walt and Lillian Disney often went to the Hollywood Brown Derby and a photo of them there exists from 1939 of them enjoying a Cobb Salad and Grapefruit Cake.
The famous Cobb Salad at the Derby was an accidental creation by Cobb himself. Supposedly, one night in 1937, Bob Cobb was awakened by a drunken Sid Grauman (of Grauman's Chinese Theater fame) demanding something to eat so he could sober up. The kitchen had long been closed for the night.
Opening the huge refrigerator, Cobb pulled out whatever he could find including a head of lettuce, an avocado, some romaine, watercress, tomatoes, some cold breast of chicken, a hard-boiled egg, chives, cheese and some old-fashioned French dressing. He started chopping. He added some crisp bacon and the Cobb salad was born. It was so good that Grauman returned the next day and asked for a "Cobb Salad" and it was put on the menu.
Cobb's midnight invention became an overnight sensation with Derby customers, with people like movie mogul Jack Warner who regularly dispatched his chauffeur to pick up a carton of the mouth-watering salad.
Hollywood columnist Louella Parsons loved desserts but was on a constant diet and threatened not to return to the Brown Derby unless there was a non-fattening dessert. So Cobb came up with the grapefruit cake, he said, "because everyone knows grapefruit is slimming." No one stopped to question that the frosting contained 20 ounces of cream cheese in addition to a cup of powdered sugar with the grapefruit.
Walt and Bob Cobb were friends who also shared a love of baseball. They served together on the board of directors of the Pacific Coast League's Hollywood Stars and on the advisory board of Gene Autry's California Angels. On July 17, 1955, Cobb and his wife were the invited guests of Walt for the opening of Disneyland and stopped in at Walt's apartment over the firehouse on Main Street.
The Hollywood Brown Derby continued operation until 1985 when it was closed for earthquake reconstruction. The historic building was demolished in 1994 after further earthquake damage.