Saturday, October 29, 2011

Do You Like Gladiator Movies?

During today's walk, at about 2 p.m., Walker Evans and I crossed Richmond Avenue at Summer Street.
As we started to head down Little Summer Street, as this block is called due to the jockey cottages on it, a bit of color across the street caught my eye. When I looked, I saw a man in a red gladiator outfit (costume, I assume); a red flowing cape/tunic, brown leather/fake leather skirt/shorts, gold helmet and sandals. Yes, nothing else; it seems this gladiator wanted to show off how ripped he was, and indeed, this guy, about age 25-30, was in great shape.
I gave the guy a thumbs-up sign and shouted, "Brave costume for this weather (the temperature was 40 degrees)." He waved, laughed and replied, "Great weather for this costume," and walked down Richmond Avenue toward downtown.
Sorry, Matt Locker, but I didn't have a camera with me.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Random Music Selection

To illustrate how interesting it is to delve into my late father Edward's record collection, I thought I'd reach in and describe one.
Well, here is what I came up with today: "Peg O' My Heart," b/w "Moonlight Bay," by Glen Miller and His Orchestra, Decca 25075. Side one is described as an "instrumental fox trot," side two a "fox trot with vocal." My mother Sheila once tried to teach me to fox trot for a high school dance in 1975; not exactly a success.

Suspicious Minds

A couple of days ago, during our morning walk, Walker Evans and I crossed Richmond Avenue at Connecticut Street coming back home from Buffalo's Lower West Side.
As you cross the street there, if you are on the side of the intersection we were on, you come to a former red-brown brick church building that is now a high-rent/luxury apartment complex, which has a small outdoor parking lot and several indoor parking spaces under the building.
As Walker and I stepped up on the curb in front of the parking area, there was a silver luxury sedan in the parking space nearest the sidewalk with two women about age 35-45 in the front seats. As Walker and I took a step on the sidewalk toward and leading past them, they both stopped and stared at us, frozen in position and wide eyed, until the driver actually lowered her sunglasses enough to peer over them at me.
Walker seemed pleased that at almost age 13 and half blind, that he can still scare people. I actually caught myself laughing out loud and saying in a stage whisper, "Really?"

Friday, October 21, 2011

Bowie's "Changes" For BMW

It may not be a brand-new advertisement, but I still get a cognitive jolt when I see and hear the BMW commercial featuring David Bowie's "Changes."
I realize that "Changes" was previously used to advertise for Microsoft, and has been used in other promotional efforts, but it may be the one song (well, maybe one of two, along with "Scary Monsters") of Bowie's I never thought he'd sell for a commercial.
I suppose it is nice to hear some of it every once in a while; it does help counter the Hank Williams Jr. stain. And it was interesting picking out a photo of Bowie; he remains ridiculously handsome in his 60s (just ask Val).

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Morning Music Surprise

As Walker Evans and I crossed Richmond Avenue and started going down Connecticut Street on our walk this morning, a car at that intersection was blasting music from inside.
While this is nothing surprising, even at 8 a.m., the music was unexpectedly not hip hop, harder rock/punk/heavy metal or urban dance/R&B pop. Instead, the song blaring from the car was "Green Green Grass of Home" by George Jones.
I'm hoping Walker Evans and I come across this driver and his car a little more often as we traverse the Lower West Side of Buffalo on our sojourns.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Two Tastes That Taste Great Together? No

Despite the improvement of my eating habits over the years, I am a serious snack food fan, as well as a MAJOR appreciator of chocolate and coffee. But that doesn't mean that certain foods I like should be combined.
After not buying any for several years, I have recently bought a couple of bags of Bugles corn chip snacks, a favorite I hadn't eaten in years. Next to the regular Bugles on the shelf at Wegmans, I saw...Chocolate Bugles? What the hell? Someone actually thinks that as I enjoy my rather salty, crunchy corn chips that the one thing that could make me happier would be to add chocolate?
I checked online, and there are way more flavors of Bugles than I expected; some seem OK, some I may not enjoy, but chocolate? Indeed, there is one variety called "Sweet and Salty Chocolate Peanut Butter."
Oh, before I forget, I also miss the red box that Bugles used to come in (my favorite is shown here); now, it is the ubiquitous plastic bag.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Ooh Ooh Ah, Fashion

Walker Evans and I also witnessed an interesting fashion statement during our walk today on the same block of Norwood Avenue between Bryant and Summer.
We saw a couple standing outside their house at about 1:30 p.m., mugs of what I assume was coffee in their hands, smoking cigarettes. Apparently, the need to smoke overrode the need to be dry and warm.
What first caught my attention was that the man was wearing a long, white terrycloth bathrobe, while the woman was wearing a long, red terrycloth bathrobe. As we got closer, I noticed that they were wearing fall/winter bed clothing, he a hooded sweatshirt and sweatpants, she a hooded sweatshirt and print sleeping pants; both hoods were being worn.
When we got to the bottom of their walkway to the sidewalk, they waved and said hello, and I returned their greetings, also noticing that he was wearing black, large corduroy slippers, while she was wearing floppy bunny slippers.
Just another cool, rainy day on Buffalo's West Side.

The Undead Candidate?

As Walker Evans and I dodged rain puddles and windblown objects on our walk today, we discovered the newest entry into politics.
A lawn on Norwood Avenue near Summer Street had a sign reading "Frank N. Stien for Eerie County Executive," with the "I" in "Stien" being a line of surgical stitches.
And you thought it was bad for dead people to vote in Chicago.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Debussy, Goodman, Berigan Together

I haven't written about my late father Edward's record collection (much of it old 33 and 78 RPM records, including a lot of big band and jazz vocalist music) in a while, due to several freelance and job-seeking projects, but I took a look at a few items yesterday that are getting me back on track.
Along with the many jazz-based records, there are a good number of bound albums that have the covers and artwork of classical and major Broadway show records. As I have mentioned in the past, one must investigate to see if what is stated on the outside actually appears within.
These classical and Broadway records appeared mostly in the last few shipments I moved from my mother Sheila's house to our house as we prepared to sell her house a few months ago, and there are several I still have not had the chance to investigate.
One I was drawn to is a blue-green cover with small bubbles and an 18th Century sailing ship on it for "La Mer (The See)," by Claude Debussy, performed by Arthur Rodzinski and the Cleveland Orchestra, Columbia Records M-531, recorded December 29, 1941. "La Mer" has long been a favorite classical piece of mine, and I found a link to listen to this record here. There is a piece of masking tape on the front with some faded marker on it that I could not read at first.
When I opened the record, I found that none of the three records from this album that should be inside were, in fact, inside. Instead, the first record is "More Than You Know," b/w "Superman," by Benny Goodman and His Orchestra, Columbia 55002. Also in the album are "Sing, Sing, Sing - Part 1," by Benny Goodman and His Orchestra, Introducing "Christopher Columbus" (Louis Prima), RCA Victor 36205, and "I Can't Get Started," b/w "The Prisoner's Song," by Bunny Berigan and His Orchestra, RCA Victor 36208.
After seeing the records inside this album, I looked at the tape on the front again, with yellow marker on very light beige tape, and after tilting things a bit, I finally made out the writing: "Benny Goodman."
I was fortunate to find this web page, which lists tons of old records, including many of the same in my father's collection. I listened to the first two mentioned Benny Goodman songs, and you can bet I'll be visiting this page again.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Scenes From a Price Rite

I had to stop at Price Rite to pick up a couple of things I forgot over the weekend; I don't usually shop there Monday mornings.
I was greeted by some new hard rock style music over the intercom, something I never hear at Price Rite. This segued into "Jackie Wilson Said (I'm in Heaven)," by Van Morrison, an all-time favorite of mine which definitely lightened my step. The next song? An urban/funk number by a female vocalist I didn't recognize, and I wish I did, because it was pretty good.
After getting my three items, I entered the "express" line for people with 12 items or less. There were six people ahead of me as the line snaked toward the other checkout lines, and five people quickly lined up behind me.
After a couple of minutes, a female Price Rite employee unchained the line to the register next to the "express" line and said, "this express line is open." Before any of us in line for a few minutes could even move, three people with carts all but stampeded to the new line, and the next two customers, with just a couple of items in their hands, did the cartoon classic of trying to get in the small space at the same time and had to maneuver to get out of each other's way.
I noticed that the woman in line behind me had the same bemused look on her face as I figured I did, and we ended up having a conversation on the lost arts of courtesy, respect, cell phones, kids today and so on.
I haven't stopped shaking my head yet, or laughing at my own reaction.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Newest Surprise Commercial Music

I'm not 100 percent certain why, but the latest surprise music and performer I heard in a television commercial really shocked me.
I was watching a college football game about two weeks ago when a Travelers Insurance commercial came on; since I was watching the game live for once and not on DVR, I had to watch and listen.
The kind of bluesy, rootsy song was pretty cool, and while I recognized the voice, I could not put the singers' name to it at first. As I listened and kind of sang along, suddenly, it hit me: "Holy crap, that's John Hiatt," singing "Gone" from his "Crossing Muddy Waters" CD.
It is the first song Hiatt has approved for use in commercials, and while I no longer am as offended as I used to be by good music, particularly punk and new wave songs, being used in advertisements, I was and remain more surprised by normal to hear this. Of course, if this exposes Hiatt's music to a larger audience which goes out and buys some of it, good for Hiatt and the commercial worked for him.

Is This Thing On?

OK, OK, I know; I let things get a bit behind here at the blog. I thought I missed a couple of weeks, but I see it's been a month and a day since my last post.
I have several things to write about, so I'll get things started in a moment, but thanks for your patience and questions as to where I was. I'm here, still looking for full-time work and still doing some freelance projects.