Lunedi Lunacy

There is not suffering like unto my suffering …. honest!


I know that last week I suggested that the blog would be bursting with fascinating observations of my three days spent in the flesh pots of Toronto, however Fate, that fickle creature, had other plans. I came down with that most feared of medical conditions:  A MAN COLD.  Yes I was laid low by a “sniffling, sneezing, aching, coughing, stuffy-head, fever, can’t sleep at night” cold the intensity of which only men endure.  It was next to impossible to raise myself from my bed of suffering long enough to wet my parched lips with the odd sip of chicken soup let alone struggle my way to the computer leaving a trail of Kleenex to lead me back to my fevered couch.  Fortunately unlike this gentleman I did not have to call 911 but manfully faced the struggle to return to uncertain health and stability.

Yeah okay it was a really bad cold but, valiant little soldier that I am, I survived. I am one of those people who when I am sick just wants to be left alone.  Given that anything with a decongestant or antihistamine is out of the question it’s mostly aspirin, Vicks Vapour Rub, hot toddies, and time.  As my friend JacquieSue’s daddy use to say: if you have a cold and treat will last 7 days..if you don’t treat it it will last a week.

On this day in 1570: The first atlas, Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, is published with 70 maps.

Mercoledi Musicale

Paramount “The Popular Race Record” issued this ad in 1927 for Ma Rainey’s most recent recording.

During my recent trip to Toronto (more about that tomorrow I hope) I caught the last preview of a new production of August Wilson‘s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom at Soulpepper.  It was the piece that brought Wilson to the forefront of American playwrights back in 1984 and was the first of his ten Century or American Cycle to reap critical acclaim.  Written out of sequence the plays cover the black experience in American from 1900 to 1999.  It is also referred to as the Pittsburgh Cycle as in nine of the ten plays the action is set in that city’s Hill District.  The one exception is Ma Rainey which is set in a recording studio in Chicago in the 1920s.

Strangely Fletcher Henderson on piano and Charlie Dixon on banjo are missing from the credits on this 1941 reissue of this 1924 recording.

Perhaps it is the same studio where she set down many of the ninety-four sides she recorded between 1923 and 1928 for Paramount Records.  Since the records were made for the “race market” Paramount, despite their claim in the advertisement for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,  didn’t use the best recording equipment  or issue high quality releases from her sessions.  Unfortunately as a result what we have on record doesn’t reflect the full power and scope of her voice.  But there is more than ample evidence to justify them advertising her as “The Mother of the Blues”.

By 1927 a new form of jazz was starting to become popular and Ma Rainey’s style of blues wasn’t selling as well as it did. Paramount terminated her contract in 1928 after she had set down 20 sides with Georgia Thomas Dorsey the great father of Black gospel music. In his younger days he was known as one of the premiere blues pianists. Here’s Ma Rainey with Mr Dorsey and blues guitarist Tampa Red doing one of the numbers from that 1928 session.

I’ve been working on a review of the Soulpepper production which I hope to have posted on Friday.  In the meantime let’s hear the number that gave Wilson’s play it’s name. Unfortunately none of the session musicians are listed in Her Georgia Band – a collective that included at one time or another many of the great blues and jazz musicians.

On this day in 1951: The first regularly scheduled transatlantic flights begin between Idlewild Airport in New York City and Heathrow Airport in London, operated by El Al Israel Airlines.


Lunedi Lunacy

I would love to have a cat however with himself being allergic, it’s out of the question.  Plus at the moment two dogs wanting to be my BFF when they don’t want to be Laurent’s BFF – and let’s admit that it’s all based on who has the treat bowl!!!! – we have enough on our plates.
I believe it was my friend Vicki (definitely a cat person) who sent this to our friend Charlie (a cat and dog person).

On this day in 1878: The last witchcraft trial held in the United States begins in Salem, Massachusetts, after Lucretia Brown, an adherent of Christian Science, accused Daniel Spofford of attempting to harm her through his mental powers.

Lunedi Lunacy

The Canada 150 banner from Hinterland Who’s Who a series that every Canadian kid (and watcher of late night TV) grew up on.  A left click will take you to the Canadian Wildlife Federation blog.

A feature of Canadian late night TV (no doubt to meet the CRTC content regulations) were the wildlife vignettes Hinterland Who’s Who.  They were 30 second clips of regional fauna in often grainy footage with the familiar voice-overs by naturalist John Livingston. He would give us fascinating facts about the featured creature and reminding us that more information could be had by contacting the Canadian Wildlife Federation.

I don’t recall them ever featuring the Armadillo which would only make sense as you could search far and wide in our hinterland and find nary a one.  So to make up for that understandable omission I thought I’d post this extended wildlife feature on the  Dasypodidae as an educational aid for a Monday morning.

On this day in 1931: a stand-off between criminal Francis Crowley and 300 members of the NYPD takes place in his fifth-floor apartment on West 91st street.

Thowback Thursday

The gift of a catalogue from the recent exhibition of Zurbarán’s Jacob and His Twelve Sons at the Frick reminded me of photographs I took at the Iglesia de los Santos Juanes in Valencia. It also reminded me of a smaller but equally fascinating exhibition that we saw at the Rijksmuseum in 2012. I’m working on something about Santos Juanes but in the meantime thought I’d throwback to Amsterdam six years ago.

Willy Or Won't He

On of the great joys of museum going is when a curator successfully leads you from one contrasting media to another.  I always remember stumbling out of the Green Vault at the Albertinium Museum in Dresden bedazzzled with the baroque splendor of its gems, gold and silver and being confronted by the stark Tim Burton-like sculptures of Thomas Reichstein and Andreas Feininger’s black and white photographs of a long past Amercia.  It was a strange juxtaposition of periods and medium and even stranger it worked.

Much the same effect was achieved with the Rijksmusuem’s mounting of a small exhibition to mark the publication of a catalogue of the complete works of the Dutch engraver Hendrik Goltzius (left in a self-portrait).  In the preceding room are two enormous works: the most famous painting in the Rijksmuseum’s collection, Rembrandt’s The Militia Company of Frans Banning Cocq and Willem van Ruytenburch (The…

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