Saturday, February 17, 2018

I'll be in Los Angeles...

...for the next week or so visiting my son and his wife. Blogging will be non-existent, but you can still follow my adventures on Twitter @BoringOldWhtGuy.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Tom Rapp, "who...

...founded Pearls Before Swine, an eclectic band much loved by aficionados of underground music in the 1960s and ’70s," died at age 70.

I had never heard of Mr. Rapp nor his band, but I'm always on the lookout for obscure groups from the '60s (such as this one). From his obit:

Among Mr. Rapp’s claims to fame is “Rocket Man,” a song from Pearls Before Swine’s 1970 album, “The Use of Ashes.” It is said to have been among the inspirations for the Elton John hit of the same name.

Who knew?

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Singer Vic Damone...

...is dead at age 89.

I initially read Mr. Damone's obit in the Times to see if I recognized any of his hit songs. I didn't.

(I wondered, in particular, if he had recorded "Volare," but it seems he's the only Italian-American singer who didn't. The version I had in mind was by Bobby Rydell, born Robert Louis Ridarelli.)

I also didn't know that Damone turned down the role of Johnny Fontaine in The Godfather. Why? Apparently he thought the movie was "not in the best interests of Italian-Americans." Was he overly cautious? Maybe. But maybe not:

Mr. Damone’s autobiography, “Singing Was the Easy Part,” written with David Chanoff, appeared in 2009. In it, he recalled a night when a mobster, angry that he had broken off an engagement to the thug’s daughter, dangled him out of a New York hotel window. The Luciano boss Frank Costello got him off the hook, he said.

“We didn’t think about it back then,” he said, “but the mob owned the nightclubs and theaters.”

Another noteworthy tidbit is that Damone was married five times and three of his wives preceded him in death, two by suicide. That is not a good record.

Monday, February 12, 2018

The Name of the Day...

...belongs to Skiffington Holderness, the current husband of Rob Porter's first ex-wife, Colbie Holderness.

The absolutely best sentence...

...I read last week was from Michael Lewis's piece in Bloomberg, "Has Anyone Seen the President?" (My emphasis.)

Bannon has a favorite line: If I had to choose who will run the country, 100 Goldman Sachs partners or the first 100 people who walk into a Trump rally, I’d choose the people at the Trump rally. I have my own version of this line: If I had to choose a president, Donald Trump or anyone else I’ve ever known, I’d choose anyone else I’ve ever known. 

Friday, February 9, 2018

John Perry Barlow, who wrote...

...lyrics for "some 30 Grateful Dead songs in all" including "Hell in a Bucket," died at age 70.

I had never heard of Mr. Barlow, but from reading his obit in the Times he must have been a veritable Zelig (my emphasis):

As a student at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, Mr. Barlow took LSD trips with the Harvard psychologist Timothy Leary in Millbrook, N.Y., where Dr. Leary and others were living in a grand Georgian house.

In 1972, after his father died, he returned to Wyoming to manage the family’s debt-ridden ranch, the Bar Cross Land & Livestock Company. (Jaqueline Onassis sent John F. Kennedy Jr. to work as a wrangler there in 1978.) 

In Wyoming, he was chairman of the Sublette County Republican Party for a time and a coordinator for the 1978 congressional campaign of Dick Cheney, whose conservative politics Mr. Barlow later disavowed.

His preoccupation with the internet dated from the mid-1980s, when he began using a computer to manage the ranch’s finances. In 1986 he became a director of the WELL (the initials stand for Whole Earth ’Lectronic Link), an online community that drew members from the worlds of music, publishing and technology.

Mr. Barlow, an emeritus fellow of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, was also a founder of the Freedom of the Press Foundation in San Francisco, which promotes adversarial reporting and internet advocacy. The foundation’s president is Edward Snowden, the former government intelligence analyst who leaked secret documents to journalists in 2013.