Chamblee54

Bob Dylan

Posted in Georgia History, GSU photo archive, History, Holidays, Music by chamblee54 on May 24, 2022









This is a repost. Pictures are from “The Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library”. Today is Bob Dylan’s eighty first birthday. This tribute is composed primarily of three previously published pieces of work. Some people think Bob Dylan is a piece of work.

This compendium was assembled in 2016. On David Bowie’s in 2016, PG created a computer playlist, and assembled a few blog posts into a birthday celebration. Three days later, David Bowie was dead. PG decided to do the same thing to Bob Dylan on his birthday. Instead of dying, Bob Dylan won the Nobel prize. A similar effort on RuPaul’s birthday had no effect on the performer.

It was a late may morning in Atlanta GA, and a slack blogger was searching his archives. Yes, Issac Asinov never got writers block, and when he wasn’t going to the bathroom he was typing, but that is a lifestyle choice. Easy writing makes tough reading. So, anyway, in the may archive for 2011 there was a post about Bob Dylan’s seventieth birthday. People were taking bets on whether he would make it to thirty, and here he is at seventy nine.

Hibbing MN is a cold place. At least it can claim to be the birthplace of Robert Allen Zimmerman. That’s Allen, with an e, and double L, just like hell. The original initials were RAZ, which might be a good trivia question, or, with a silent W in front, radio station call letters. The problem is, he legally changed his name to Bob Dylan, with no known middle name. Those initial are BD.

On May 24, 1941, the curly haired wonder boi arrived. The world was a different place. Europe was in flames, and eyeing the young men of America as fresh cannon fodder. This was twelve years, eleven months, and eighteen days before PG graced the planet. A twelve year old in Hibbing MN would have no reason to think of a newborn baby in Atlanta GA.

The first time PG heard of Bob Dylan was probably at the record rack of Zippy’s dime store in Cherokee Plaza. There was an album of his greatest hits, and it came with a poster. The poster had a drawing of the man, with psychedelic waves of hair cascading in multi colored glory to the edges. PG never did buy the LP.

The former Mr. Zimmerman was never big on top 40 am radio. Somebody somewhere was getting a headache over those lyrics, but Atlanta GA was not somewhere in those days. By this time, Mr. Dylan had crashed his motorcycle, and gone into hiding. As the counter culture exploded (if only someone had disinfected that counter) the curly haired poet was in hiding, the subject of much speculation. At one point, people were stealing his garbage, and claiming to find evidence of investment in munitions firms. The neoscience of Dylanology continues to this day.

As PG got older and stupider, he heard more and more Bob Dylan music. In the summer of 1972, there was a performance at the Concert for Bangladesh. A couple of albums released during this era sucked, and some people stopped caring about Bob Dylan.

At the start of 1974, a tour was announced. The Band was to be the backing group. The circus came to the Omni, and PG got some of the mail order tickets. He couldn’t find anyone to use the second ticket, and sold it to a stranger outside the arena.

The show was nothing special. Bob Dylan excels at writing, is ok in the studio, and blah on stage. Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter was at the show, and was said to look bored. Mr. Dylan was invited to the Governor’s mansion after the show, and talked to the Governor. A lot of people in Georgia were surprised that Jimmy would want to run for President.
As the Seventies went me me meing into sex and drugs oblivion, Bob Dylan regained both his writing touch, and love of the spotlight. The Rolling Thunder tour happened, he got back together with Joan Baez, divorced his wife, became born again, became more Jewish, counted money, and generally lived the life. PG did his own version of all that, without Joan Baez or being circumcised again.

In the winter of 1991, America was consumed by war fever. Saddam Hussein had been elevated to next Hitler status, and had to be taught a lesson. One night, Bob Dylan played on a music awards show, and performed “Masters of War”. He played a discordant version of that ditty, with the result that few understood what he had said. By this time, Mr. Dylan had assembled a band, and gone out on the “Never Ending Tour”. A Bob Dylan concert had gone from being a special event, to being another name on the festival roster. Overexposure will do that.

On the last night of the Olympics in 1996, Bob Dylan played the House of Blues downtown. PG won a pair of the $80 tickets in a radio station contest. It was his only trip downtown during the games, and had to wait in a security line to get into Centennial Olympic Park.

The only celebrity, other than Mr. Dylan, seen at the House of Blues that night was Bill Walton. The band was competent…they impressed PG as being like a bar band that did a lot of Dylan songs, with a strangely authentic lead vocalist. The sound in the room was not good, at least in the spot where PG stood. The only song he recognized was “All along the Watchtower”, the Jimi Hendrix classic. Mr. Dylan got a cheer when he put his harmonica appliance on.








The aptly named dangerousminds has a link to a story about the recording of Blonde on Blonde, by Bob Dylan. It only happened once.

Bob Dylan was 24 years old, newly married, and had “sold out” i.e. started to play electric guitar. A bunch of Canadians known as The Hawks (later The Band) was touring with him. Barely a month after the release of “Highway 61 Revisited”, sessions started at a New York studio.

The New York sessions did not work, so a decision was made to go to Nashville. Al Kooper played organ, and served as a music director. A crew of Nashville players was recruited. A bass player named Joseph Souter, Jr. would become famous a few years later using the name Joe South. Kris Kristofferson was the janitor at the studio.

Most studios have bafflers, or sound proof room dividers, splitting the studio into cubicles. For these sessions, the bafflers were taken down, and the band played together as a unit.

The second session in Nashville started at 6pm and lasted until 530 the next morning. Mr. Dylan was working on the lyrics to “Sad eyed lady of the lowlands”, and the recording could not start until he was ready. The musicians played ping pong and waited. At 4am, the song was ready, and the record was finished in two takes.

PG had marginal encounters with two of the players on this album. He met a lady once, who worked in an insurance office. One of the customers was Joe South. His driving record file was an inch thick.

Al Kooper had a prosperous career after his association with Bob Dylan. The former Alan Peter Kuperschmidt produced the first three Lynyrd Skynyrd albums, sold that contract for a nice piece of change, and lived happily ever after.

One night, Mr. Kooper was playing a show at the Great Southeast Music Hall, and PG sat in front of the stage. During a break between songs, PG asked his friend “what time is it?”. Mr. Kooper heard him on stage, and said it was 11:30.








If it ever quits raining, PG is going to walk to the Chamblee library and return a book, and a cd. The cd is by Bob Dylan, and is a work of genius. The book is about the former Mr. Zimmerman, and is a piece of garbage. (BTW, Dylan is not the only Zimmerman to hit the big time. Ethel Merman was born Ethel Agnes Zimmerman.The Zimmerman telegram got us into World War I. The less said about George Zimmerman, the better)

When returning cd’s to a library, you need to get a check in receipt. Once, PG returned a stack of cd’s to the Brookhaven library. When checking them in, one was missed by the scanner. A few days later, there was a note in the mail about an overdue cd.

The good news was, the cd was on the shelf when PG went back to investigate, and the matter was quickly settled. It did not help that the cd was a collection of disco music called “Shake your booty”.

“The freewheelin’ Bob Dylan” was released in the early sixties, when the man was barely old enough to buy a drink. There is not a bad song on it, and several are classic rock staples. At a time when mindless pop dominated pop music, here were thoughtful, moving lyrics.

In 1991, with America in a war frenzy, Mr. Dylan appeared on a music awards show. He performed “Masters of War”, at a time when the majority would be appalled if they could understand what he was singing. Mr. Dylan has been reinvented many times, and often the lyrics get gargled.

Five years later, PG won tickets to a Bob Dylan concert. It was the last night of the Olympics, and the man was appearing at the House of Blues. (Tickets were $80, so the radio contest is the only reason PG went). It was like hearing a good bar band, that did nothing but Dylan songs, with the man as the vocalist. Due to the mix of the sound, PG could not recognize many of the songs.

The book is Bob Dylan: Prophet, Mystic, Poet by Seth Rogovoy. It tells the Dylan tale as a story of Jewish prophecy. PG got to page 16, where the author claims that “Like a Rolling Stone” “almost single handedly revolutionized rock’n roll music”. Huh?

PG was eating dinner, and did not have anything else to read. He got to page 38. Nothing in the next 22 pages changed his mind away from ditching the book. How does nonsense like this get published?






Jean D. McKinnon

Posted in Georgia History, History, Holidays by chamblee54 on May 8, 2022

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The first picture in this episode is a family portrait of the Quin family in Washington Georgia. The nine surviving children of Hugh Pharr Quin are sitting for the camera. Mr. Quin had joined the Georgia State Troops of the Army of the Confederacy at the age of 16, and after the war went to Washington to live with his sister. Mr. Quin was in the church choir of the First Methodist Church when he met the organist, Betty Lou DuBose. They were married January 22, 1879.
The original name of Mrs. Quin was Louisa Toombs DuBose. She was the daughter of James Rembert DuBose. His brother in law was Robert Toombs, the Secretary of State of the Confederacy, and a man of whom many stories are told.
In this picture, Mrs. Quin is holding the hand of her second youngest daughter so she will not run away. This is Martha (Mattie) Vance Quin. She is my grandmother.
After the Great War, Mattie Quin was living in Memphis Tennessee, where she met Arthur Dunaway. Mr. Dunaway was a veteran of the war, and was from Paragould, Arkansas. On July 23, 1922 her first Daughter, Jean, was born. This is my mother.
Mr. Dunaway died in 1930, shortly after the birth of his son Arthur. There were hard times and upheaval after this, with the family settling in Atlanta. There her third child Helen Ann Moffat was born on December 12, 1933. This is my Aunt Helen and my mother’s best friend.

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Jean lived for many years with her mother and sister at 939 Piedmont, among other locations. She joined the First Baptist Church and sang in the choir. She got a job with the C&S bank, and was working at the Tenth Street Branch when she met Luther McKinnon. He was a native of Rowland, North Carolina. They were married October 6, 1951.
They moved into the Skyland Apartments, which in those days was out in the country. Mom told a story about Dad taking her home from Choir practice, and going home on the two lane Buford Hiway. There was a man who went to the restaurants to get scraps to feed his pigs, and his truck was always in front of them. This was a serious matter in the summer without air conditioning.
Soon, they moved into a house, and Luther junior was born on May 6, 1954. This is me. Malcolm was born May 10, 1956, which did it for the children.
The fifties were spent on Wimberly Road, a street of always pregnant women just outside Brookhaven. It was a great place to be a little kid.
In 1960, we moved to Parkridge Drive, to the house where my brother and I stay today. The note payment was $88 a month. Ashford Park School is a short walk away…the lady who sold us the house said “you slap you kid on the fanny and he is at school”.
In 1962, our family followed the choir director from First Baptist to Briarcliff Baptist, which is where my parents remained.
In 1964, Mom went back to work. She ran the drive in window at Lenox Square for the Trust Company of Georgia until it was time to retire. She became a talk radio fan when RING radio started, and was a friend of her customer Ludlow Porch. She gave dog biscuits to customers with dogs.
During this era of change, Mom taught me that all people were good people, be they black or white. This was rare in the south. She later became disgusted with the War in Vietnam, and liked to quote a man she heard on the radio. “How will we get out of Vietnam?””By ship and by plane”.
Eventually, it was time to retire. Her and Dad did the requisite traveling, until Dad got sick and passed away February 7, 1992. Mom stuck around for a few more years, until her time came December 18, 1998. This is a repost.

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May 6, 2022

Posted in GSU photo archive, Holidays by chamblee54 on May 6, 2022

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May 6 is a day in spring, with 35% of the year gone by. It has it’s fair share of history, some of which did not turn out well. In 1861, the Confederate Congress declared war on the United States. In 1937, a German zeppelin named “Hindenburg” exploded while trying to land in New Jersey. In 1940, Bob Hope did his first show for the USO, somewhere in California.

Roger Bannister ran the first sub four minute mile, on May 6, 1954. The current record is 3:43.13 by Hicham El Guerrouj on July 7, 1999, with a party with Prince to celebrate. Since most track meets now use 1500 meters, the mile record is obsolete.

On this day, Georgia executed two notable prisoners. In 2003, Carl Isaacs was put to death. Mr. Isaacs was the ringleader in the 1973 Alday family killing, in Donalsonville GA. Five years later, in 2008, William Earl Lynd was poisoned by the state. This was the first condemned man to die after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that execution by poisoning was constitutional.

Taurus is the sign for those whose blood starts to pump May 6. Included are:
Maximilien Robespierre (1758) Sigmund Freud (1856) Rudolph Valentino (1895)
Orson Welles (1915) Willie Mays (1931) Rubin Carter (1937)
Bob Seger (1945) Tony Blair (1953) PG (1954) George Clooney(1961)
To make room for these folks, someone has to die. For May 6 this would mean:
Henry David Thoreau (1862) L. Frank Baum (1919) Marlene Dietrich (1992)
This repost, written like H.P. Lovecraft, has pictures from “The Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library”.

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Harvey Fierstein

Posted in Book Reports, History, Holidays, Library of Congress, Politics, Undogegorized by chamblee54 on April 28, 2022


@HarveyFierstein wrote a book, I Was Better Last Night: A Memoir. Harvey Forbes Fierstein is selling his book, and saying festive things in the process. This will probably not influence one star commenter amazon customer. “This story seemed disjointed and superficial.”

Free Library of Philadelphia begins the discussion. The lady began with the traditional question about how Popeye Harvey got started. “I never wanted to be a writer. I never wanted to be an actor. I wanted to be an artist, but artist is is the 1950s word for gay.”

The chat turned onto the topic of sobriety. “By the time I stopped drinking I was drinking half a gallon of southern comfort a day, of 100 proof. So you’ve got to work your way up to that, because that will kill you if you try doing that on one day’s notice.”

“I think we’re almost gonna head to the Q&A, but I’m curious.” (Harvey puts the Q back in Q&A) “What advice do you have for young artists starting out in the world right now?” “Go get a real job.”

Barbara Walters interviewed Harvey in 1983. 39 years later, it is a cringefest. “His name is Harvey Fierstein, and with this success, he’s become Broadway’s newest celebrity. He is, to say the least, an unlikely celebrity. Harvey Fierstein, 29 year old homosexual playwright, actor, two-time Tony winner, and, just until a few years ago, earning his living as a drag queen … a man dressed up as a woman. At the age of 13 his middle-class parents from Brooklyn knew for certain that he was a homosexual, and by the time he was 15, he was performing as a transvestite.”

The 20/20 appearance is remarkable in many ways. Baba Wawa was known as a close friend, and possible beard, of Roy Cohn. She knew a lot more homosexuals than she acknowledged that night. Ms. Walters was roasted in a 2013 article about her retirement. “She’s old friends with make-believe TV tycoon Donald Trump.”

The WTF podcast, with Marc Maron, made this feature necessary. There was the time Harvey’s mother took his grandmother to see Torch Song Trilogy, when it was on Broadway. “She’s watching the show, and she’s hard of hearing, and in the loudest voice that has ever been projected in in a Broadway theater, she says “So Harvey’s a homosexual,” and my mother, in a voice loud enough for my grandmother to hear her, said “how should I know I don’t sleep with him.”

“No one knew who gay people were. We were something they talked about. We were vampires that only appeared at night. We weren’t normal people. Then aids hit … and suddenly we were everywhere. We’re doctors and teachers and lawyers and priests and mothers and babies. Now they see us everywhere, hospitals, classrooms, obituaries. We were gay, and now we’re human, that was a huge change. All of a sudden we existed. Now did they run away from us, did they turn their back on us, did they wish we did all die, maybe, but we were no longer deniable. We existed, and that changed everything. We’ve now got this war we’re fighting for our lives, because because of aids, and out come these young people screaming for marriage equality, and I’m saying what the [ __ ] is wrong with you people. We have we have so much other work to do. We’ve got all this crap going on to take care of, and you care about a [ __ ] wedding cake. Where are your values? Then I stopped myself. I said, you know, these are younger people than you, and don’t they have the right to define what the revolution should be? So I shut my mouth, and I went to work for them, and they turned out to be right.”

“Now this generation, coming back to where we started this whole conversation, has brought up gender, said, we’re now going to show you about gender, or at least question all of the roles of gender once again. I don’t understand it but I have lived enough history now to know, follow the young people, it’s their world, it’s not our world. We should shut the [ __ ] up. The role of an elder is not to tell you what to do, even though people think that’s what an elder is supposed to do. The role of an elder is to facilitate what young people want to do. That’s the best thing we can do.”

Marc Maron: “That whole world of gay sex that you write about it, to me it’s just like, oh my god, I mean like it was just you just walking around [ __ ] wherever you wanted, and just like kind of the insane electricity of that world, I can’t even imagine it.” Harvey: “Mark, my love, do you really think we aren’t still doing that? You really think i can’t take you to Central Park now, and show you people
[ __ ] in the rambles, are they yeah of course they are … it’s boys yeah what do boys need to have sex a finger that can pull down a zipper.”

“I never had children, believe me, raising Matthew Broderick was enough.” Pictures for this unpaid exercise in book promotion are from The Library of Congress.

Confederate Memorial Day

Posted in Georgia History, History, Holidays, Library of Congress, War by chamblee54 on April 25, 2022

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Today is Confederate Memorial Day in Georgia. It is an ancient question…how to honor the soldiers from the side that lost. They were just as valiant as the Union Soldiers. Considering the shortages of the Confederate Armies, the Rebels may have been just a bit braver.

The issue of Federalism is a defining conflict of the American experience. What powers do we give the Federal Government, and what powers do we cede to the States? The Confederacy was the product of this conflict. The Confederate States were a collection of individual states, with separate armies. This is one reason why the war turned out the way it did.

This is not a defense for slavery. The “Peculiar institution” was a moral horror. The after effects of slavery affect us today. Any remembrance of the Confederacy should know that. This does not make the men who fought any less brave.

It is tough to see the War Between the States through the modern eye. It was a different time, before many of the modern conveniences that are now considered necessities. Many say that the United States were divided from the start, and the fact the union lasted as long as it did was remarkable. When a conflict becomes us against them, the “causes” become unimportant.

The War was a horror, with no pain medicine. Little could be done for the wounded. It took the south many, many years to recover. This healing continues today. Remembering the sacrifices made by our ancestors helps. This is a repost. Pictures are from the The Library of Congress.

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Anita Aretha and Elton

Posted in Georgia History, Holidays by chamblee54 on March 25, 2022

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In the early nineties, PG had too much free time. On March 25 of one year, he looked in the fishwrapper, and found a list of famous people with birthdays.

There was an unlikely trio celebrating that day. This would be (in order of appearance) Anita Bryant (1940), Aretha Franklin (1942), and Elton John (1947). All three have been paid for singing. The three have a total of five husbands, with Miss Bryant and Mr. John currently attached (Not to each other). Miss Franklin has good taste in hats.

Several other people have arrived on planet earth on March 25. They include , in 1911, Jack Ruby, the killer of Lee Harvey Oswald (d. 1967) (They don’t say alleged when it was on live TV). 1918 produced Howard Cosell, American sports reporter (d. 1995). Flannery O’Connor (d. 1964) arrived in 1925. 1934 gave us Gloria Steinem. To make room for all this talent, Buck Owens died March 25, 2006. On August 16, 2018, Aretha Franklin was heaven bound.

March 25 is after the spring equinox, and has been Easter. A few noteworthy events have gone down on this day. In 1894, Coxey’s Army departed Massillon, Ohio for Washington D.C. In 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire killed 146 garment workers in New York City. In 1939 Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli becomes Pope Pius XII, to the delight of Adolph Hitler. 1955 saw the United States Customs seizes copies of Allen Ginsberg’s poem “Howl” as obscene. In 1969, John Lennon and Yoko Ono began their first Bed-In for Peace at the Amsterdam Hilton Hotel.

HT and applause to wikipedia. This is a repost. Pictures are from The Library of Congress.

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π Day

Posted in GSU photo archive, Holidays by chamblee54 on March 14, 2022

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Today is 3-14. It is a saturday, and 314 are the first three digits of pi (affectionately known as π ). It is a math thing, the number you multiply a diameter by to get the circumference. When your grammar school math teacher told you about π, she probably used 3.14, or 3 1/7. (PG went to school when Hewlett and Packard were still in the garage.)

You might also have heard the formula for the area of a circle, the racy π r squared . This means that you multiply π by the radius (half the diameter, a line from the border to the center point), and then multiply the whole contraption by the radius again. The formula has a funny sound to it. Pie are not square, cornbread is square, pie are round. Like Sly Stone says, all the squares go home.

According to wikipedia, π seems to have been known as early as 1900 b.c. The pyramids of Egypt have a π based feature. The Greek letter π is the first letter of the Greek word περίμετρος (perimeter) . This was determined OTP.

The pyramid- π function is fairly simple. The total length of the four sides, at the base, will be the same as the height of the pyramid, times two, times π. PG likes to make model pyramids. They are 6″ tall, and the base sides are 9 3/8″. The combination of these four sides is 37 1/2″. If you multiply 6x2x3.14, you get 37.68″ The .18″ is because of a measuring error.

A lady named Eve Astrid Andersson has a page of her website dedicated to π. The only trivia question that PG understood was the first one…1. What is the formal definition of pi? …the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter // 3.14159 // the radius of a unit circle // the surface area of a sphere of diameter 22/7 // a delicious dessert, especially if it contains cherries.

There is the football cheer from M.I.T. ” Cosine, secant, tangent, sine 3.14159 // Integral, radical, u dv, slipstick, slide rule, MIT!”

In 1998 a movie titled π was released. It caused brain damage in 3.14% of those who saw it. Perhaps it is not a coincidence that 1998 = 666 x 3.

π has been calculated to over five million digits. This is a repost, with pictures from “The Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library”.

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Mardi Gras

Posted in Georgia History, History, Holidays by chamblee54 on March 1, 2022

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It is fat tuesday again. For someone who lived most of his life in Georgia, it is just another day.

In 1990, PG went to carnival. He rented sleeping bag space in a house on Marigny Street, just outside the quarter. It was like nothing he had ever seen.

This was 14 months after PG quit drinking. If he had life to do over, he would have gone to Mardi Gras first. He did feel good about going through that much drinking without being tempted to participate.

By the end of the Rex Parade, PG was getting tired of the whole shebang, Mob scenes of drunks, in costume, can get old. PG has not been back.

Two years later, the Grateful Dead was playing at the Omni, and the camp followers were in the parking lot. PG would go on his lunch hour and observe. A young lady walked by, and PG said Happy Mardi Gras. She gave him a string of beads.

Five years after that, PG had a boss from New Orleans. He looked like the Grinch who stole Christmas. He also hated Mardi Gras. PG did not know this, and greeted him Tuesday morning with a cheerful Happy Mardi Gras. If looks could kill, PG would have dropped dead. This is a repost, with pictures from “The Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library”.

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Happy Birthday Bill Burroughs

Posted in Georgia History, History, Holidays, Library of Congress by chamblee54 on February 5, 2022

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February 5, 1914, was the birth day of William Seward Burroughs Jr. For the rest of this piece he will be known as WSB. This is both a handy abbreviation, as well as a touch of irony for Atlanta readers. WSB radio is a 50k watt clear channell am station, owned by the same media oligarchs that own the fishwrapper and channel two. The radio tv clusterfuck has long been the symbol of Peachtree Street white column respectability. Just to be clear/queer, from here on out in this feature WSB will mean a certain junkie writer, not welcome south brother.

This is a good day for birthdays. Hank Aaron in 1934. Adlai Stevenson in 1900. Peg Entwhistle in 1908. The last one lived until 1932, when she jumped off the Hollywoodland sign.

A well thought of radio institution called “This American Life” has a show this week, Burroughs101. Actually, there is a class by that name, and there will be an exam at the end of the semester. The show is narrated by Iggy Pop. It begins with a warning. “A warning. The following program contains references to homosexuality, drug use, sex with aliens, violence, and kitty cats. What did you expect?” The show was originally cobbled together by the BBC, which might explain things a bit.

Iggy Pop did a show at the 688 club. PG was in the audience. A man named Ivan Kral was in the band. When Mr. Kral came on stage, he blew his nose, and a white powder booger came out. The performance was not so much a concert as it was an endurance test.

The show has the lazy bloggers friend, the transcript. There are some lovely quotes. This show is not going to candy coat the bastard. This is a man who shot his wife while playing William Tell, and got away with it. As one non admirer says “I don’t just take the Burroughs myth with a pinch of salt. I view it as a unpleasant slug crawling across the lawn of literature. And I like to pour salt on it.”

Or this one. “Having used heroin yourself– I think used is a bit of an understatement. I was a heroin addict on and off for pushing a quarter of a century. For myself, I find the whole Burroughs myth pretty repulsive, actually. Because I understand what happened to me. I was an addict in waiting. I got my form prize or my English prize at The Naked Lunch. And a year and a half later, I was sticking needles in my arm. … You could be lying in some pestilential piss-soaked squat in the bowels of the city listening to some moron totaled on drugs drooling on and talking about Burroughs, because Burroughs was their Leon Trotsky. He was their Archbishop of Canterbury. He was the Pope. “

One of the questions of the early eighties was whether or not WSB was shooting up. Forget the nonsense about there not being any old junkies. Supposedly Ray Charles never really quit using heroin. So, in 1981, WSB was living somewhere in Manhattan, and it was a right of passage to go to the bunker and take heroin to him. Since he was the star, he used the needle first, which was an important distinction in those days … hiv did not have a name but was running wild through the junkie veins and queer buttholes of Reaganite America. We don’t know if WSB got hiv or not. He made it until August 2, 1997, when a heart attack sent him to meet his maker. Contemporary Allen Ginsberg cashed in his chips earlier that year. In Washington, silly billy POTUS was getting knob jobs from Monica Lewinsky, who now gives TED talks by calling herself a social activist. WSB was a social activist, at a time when few would publicly admit to such a distinction.

The answer to your question is, yes, WSB was shooting dope in 1981. Somebody saw this as being an unhealthy situation, and arranged for him to move to Lawrence KS. This was his home until WSB went to live with Jesus, who was pissed because WSB didn’t bring him any smack.

So WSB was living the beat life, shooting dope, fucking boys, and just being a general mess. In his spare time he was writing books. Naked Lunch was busted for obscenity, and became his best known work. It is the first thing by WSB that PG tried to read, making it to page twenty six before declaring the endeavor a hopeless waste of brain cells.

It is not known how much of Naked Lunch Dorothy Kilgallen read. She was called as a witness during an obscenity trial for Lenny Bruce. ” …There’s another book called The Naked Lunch which I couldn’t even finish reading, but it’s published, and I think the author should be in jail and he used– Q. Unfortunately we can’t do everything at once, Miss Kilgallen. Are you judging the non-obscene quality and the artistic quality of Bruce by the fact that The Naked Lunch is a book which, as of this date, is sold in the community? A. No, I’m not. I just mentioned it because you asked me for some books. Q. And The Naked Lunch is a book you found impossible to read, is that correct? A. Yes, I found it revolting. Q. What was revolting about it? A. Just the way it was written.”

Another expert witness to testify … to a BBC reporter, not a New York courtroom … is Marcus Ewert. A Dunwoody native, Mr. Ewert took literary groupiedom to ridiculous lengths with Allen Ginsberg and WSB. “We’re getting into bed, and I’m sticking my legs down under the covers. There’s this bump that my legs feel. And I’m like, “Oh, what’s this hard thing my legs are bumping against, William?” And he said, “Oh, that’s the gun.” I said, “Is it a loaded gun?” He said, “Of course it’s loaded.” You’d sleep with a lover with a loaded gun in your bed. That’s kind of a metaphor waiting to happen.”

Mr. Marcus is now a children’s book author. An Amazon reader says this about 10,000 Dresses. “I returned mine today and was appalled as I read the story to my son before reading it to myself. Kids need to feel safe at home, especially when dealing with gender non-conformity. I wish the author would have reconcilled the reactions of the family members. It is great to have stories out there addressing gender non-conformity in kids, but we have a huge responsibility to make sure they are sending the right message.”

The death of Joan Vollmer is discussed. This is the lady who was playing William Tell one night, with fatal consequences. Some say accident, some say intentional. The word uxoricide is used, meaning the act of killing one’s wife.

The cut up technique is discussed. The show goes on to talk about how much WSB liked cats. He died, and people said nice things about him. Pictures tonight are from The Library of Congress. This is a repost. Last year, PG found an audiobook of Junky, read by Mr. Burroughs. A two part post, Junky, and Junky Part Two, was the result.

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Billie Holiday Stories

Posted in History, Holidays, Library of Congress, Music by chamblee54 on February 4, 2022


How ‘Strange Fruit’ Killed Billie Holiday turned up in a facebook feed yesterday. The article states that Harry Jacob Anslinger “the first commissioner of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Federal Bureau of Narcotics,” ordered Billie Holiday to quit performing “Strange Fruit.” When the chanteuse declined, Mr. Anslinger had her arrested for heroin possession. Later, Mr. Anslinger was allegedly responsible for busting Miss Holiday on her deathbed.

The Hunting of Billie Holiday was the source given for the claim about Mr. Anslinger and “Strange Fruit.” The Politico article does not say that Mr. Anslinger ordered Miss Holiday to quit singing “Strange Fruit.” It does say that Louis McKay, one of the many no-good men in Miss Holiday’s life, narked her out. The bust was in 1947, after she had been performing “Strange Fruit” for several years. (Lady Sings The Blues says that Louis McKay was not in Miss Holiday’s life in 1947.)

Politico had one comment that set off the bs detector. “One day, Harry Anslinger was told that there were also white women, just as famous as Billie, who had drug problems—but he responded to them rather differently. He called Judy Garland, another heroin addict, in to see him.” Frances Gumm was well known for having substance abuse issues. The heroin business was news to a lot of people.

Johann Hari was the author of the politico article. At the time, he was promoting a book, Chasing the Scream, about the war on drugs. Johann Hari has a spotted reputation. “The author used to be the Independent’s star columnist, a prolific polemicist and darling of the left, until his career imploded in disgrace when it emerged in 2011 that many of his articles contained quotes apparently said to him but in fact lifted from his interviewees’ books, or from previous interviews by other journalists.”

The final bust, as Miss Holiday lay dying in the hospital, is part of the legend. A google search does not show what agency was responsible. Harry Anslinger may have been involved, and it may have been someone else. By this time, Elanora Fagan was in bad, bad shape. Years of drinking, and hard drugs, had worn her out. While the hospital bust may have hastened her demise, it is a bit of a stretch to say the Harry Anslinger killed Billie Holiday, because she sang “Strange Fruit.”

This is a repost. Pictures today are from The Library of Congress.


Lady Sings The Blues is the autobiography of Billie Holiday. PG read it in 1978, and pulled it off the shelf recently. The copy he has is was a 1972 paperback, issued in conjunction with the movie. A picture of Diana Ross is on the cover, as well as a price sticker from Woolco. The book sold for $1.25. Pictures today are from The Library of Congress. The spell check suggestion for Woolco is Cool.

William Dufty was the ghost writer. His prose is easy to read, with the story flowing out like a Lester Young solo. The 1956 copyright is assigned to “Eleanora Fagan and William Dufty,” using the birth name of the singer. Mr. Dufty was a newspaper writer. “Dufty had one son, Bevan Dufty, with first wife Maely Bartholomew, who had arrived in New York City during World War II after losing most of her family in the Nazi concentration camps. She settled near Harlem where she met her best friend and Bevan’s godmother, Billie Holiday.”

“Bevan Dufty would agree. He’s one of the childless singer’s two godchildren. … “Holiday said motherf — all the time, in her gravelly elegant way,” recalled Dufty, sitting in his City Hall office. His mother, Maely, a Czech Jewish immigrant who loved jazz, was close to many musicians and even managed the unmanageable Charlie Parker for a spell, learned to curse from Holiday. But with a European accent. Much of what Dufty knows of Holiday comes from his late mother, who was married to actor Freddie Bartholomew before her brief marriage to William Dufty, one of her seven husbands. Maely, who took her infant son by train to Philadelphia every day to attend yet another of Holiday’s drug trials, was so distraught by the singer’s death that she dedicated herself to helping recovering addicts. A number of musicians lived at the Duftys’ place while kicking the habit (William and Maely Dufty divorced not long after Holiday’s death, and he later married actress Gloria Swanson, who inspired him to write the book “Sugar Blues” about the dangers of processed sugar).”

Billie Holiday’s bio, ‘Lady Sings the Blues,’ may be full of lies, but it gets at jazz great’s core Autobiographies are, by their nature, self serving. This one has a great opening line… ” “Mom and Pop were just a couple of kids when they got married. He was eighteen, she was sixteen, and I was three.” (“Her parents were never married. When she was born, her mother was 19, her father was 17 and they never lived under the same roof.”) Another source adds: “Some of the material in the book, however, must be taken with a grain of salt. Holiday was in rough shape when she worked with Dufty on the project, and she claimed to have never read the book after it was finished. Around this time, Holiday became involved with Louis McKay. The two were arrested for narcotics in 1956, and they married in Mexico the following year. (March 28, 1957) Like many other men in her life, McKay used Holiday’s name and money to advance himself.”

Louis McKay is at the center of another misunderstanding of facts. The Hunting of Billie Holiday claimed that Mr. McKay narked out Miss Holiday in 1947, and set up her first drug bust. LSTB tells a different story. Here, Miss Holiday meets Mr. McKay very briefly in 1931. Someone was trying to rob Mr. McKay. Miss Holiday said “He’s my old man,” and chased off the robber.

Fast forward twenty five years, and Miss Holiday connects with Mr. McKay. “I hadn’t seen him since I was sixteen and he wasn’t much older and I was singing at the Hotcha in Harlem.” The two were married in 1957. They got busted as LSTB ends. Either Politico is wrong about the 1947 bust, or Miss Holiday did not tell the whole story. Either way, Harry Anslinger is not mentioned in LSTB.

Tallulah Bankhead is another missing piece of the puzzle. Reportedly, Miss Bankhead and Miss Holiday were close friends, and possibly lovers. That was over by the time LSTB was written. “When “Lady Sings the Blues” was being prepared, Miss Bankhead got an advance copy, and was horrified by what she saw. A fierce note was sent to the book’s publisher, and scenes were edited out. Miss Holiday was outraged. The letter that resulted is a poison pen classic. “My maid who was with me at the Strand isn’t dead either. There are plenty of others around who remember how you carried on so you almost got me fired out of the place. And if you want to get shitty, we can make it a big shitty party. We can all get funky together!”

Miss Bankhead does make an appearance in LSTB. On page 117, Miss Holiday is describing playing a maid, in a movie. She was not pleased at the typecasting. “Don’t get me wrong. I’ve got nothing against maids – or whores – whether they’re black or white. My mother was a maid, a good one, one of the greatest. My stepmother is Tallulah Bankhead’s maid right now, and that’s a part I’d even consider when they do her life story.” (Miss Bankhead had her own domestic help problems. In 1951, Evyleen Cronin, Tallulah’s maid and secretary, was accused of stealing $10,000-30,000 from Tallulah during her employment. … The case went to trial (much to Tallulah’s embarrassment) and Cronin was convicted.” Many embarrassing details about Miss Bankhead’s life came to light during this trial. Fanny Holiday, the stepmother, is probably a different person than Evyleen Cronin.)

Whatever it’s factual challenges, Lady Sings the Blues is a powerful book. Miss Holiday had a tough life, to say the least. As the singer for Artie Shaw’s big band, Miss Holiday was an integration pioneer, and every two bit cracker wanted to make trouble. Later, she was addicted to heroin, got busted, served time in prison, only to get out and suffer some more.

Three years after LSTB came out, things went from bad to horrible. “In early 1959 she found out that she had cirrhosis of the liver. The doctor told her to stop drinking, which she did for a short time, but soon returned to heavy drinking. … On May 31, 1959, Holiday was taken to Metropolitan Hospital in New York suffering from liver and heart disease. She was arrested for drug possession as she lay dying, and her hospital room was raided by authorities. Police officers were stationed at the door to her room. Holiday remained under police guard at the hospital until she died from pulmonary edema and heart failure caused by cirrhosis of the liver on July 17, 1959.” This is a repost.

Dolly Parton And Paula Deen

Posted in History, Holidays, Library of Congress by chamblee54 on January 19, 2022

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Dolly Parton celebrates a birthday today. The internet is a love fest for her, and deservedly so. Miss Parton has given joy to millions, with her singing and acting.

Paula Deen was born on the same day, one year later. While her star did not shine quite as bright as Miss Parton, Mrs. Deen made her contribution to american life. The only problem was a bad boss lawsuit against a company Mrs. Deen invested in. A lawyer got Mrs. Deen to admit, under oath, the she had said the n-word. Paula Deen became a pariah.

Dolly Parton and Paula Deen have a few things in common. Miss Parton is married to Carl Thomas Dean, and her legal name is Mrs. Dean. Both ladies are from the south, the hills of East Tennessee, and the flatland of Albany, Georgia. Both grew up in an era where the n-word was what white people called black people.

What if the story had been different. What if it was a restaurant at Dollywood where the manager was not happy? What if this white woman, who was treated better because she was a white woman, decided to claim racial discrimination in her bad boss lawsuit? (Page 153 of deposition.) What if the disgruntled employee’s lawyer was smarter than Dolly Parton’s lawyer? We might have had tabloids screaming nonstop that Dolly Parton said the n-word.

Pictures are from The Library of Congress, taken at “Annual “Bathing Girl Parade”, Balboa Beach, CA, June 20, 1920.” No one asked these ladies if they ever said the n-word. This is a repost. Other celebrities born on January 19: Robert E. Lee (1807), Edgar Allan Poe (1809), Jean Stapleton (1923), Janis Joplin (1943), and Desi Arnaz Jr.(1953.)

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David Bowie

Posted in Georgia History, History, Holidays, Library of Congress, Music by chamblee54 on January 8, 2022

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It was a strange week to be a David Bowie fan. On Friday, I was looking for a rerun to post, and was reminded that January 8 was his birthday. (Along with Elvis and Shirley Bassey) I put up a piece about Mr. Bowie, and fashioned a poem out of his song titles. Aquarian Drunkard reissued a collection of the “best and most interesting Bowie oddities”. A new album was released, with a lot of comments about how strange it was. Strange is something Bowie fans turn to face.

On Monday, I woke up. Go on the internet. MSN news says that David Bowie has died. This is surprising. I know what people are going to talk about for a few days.

I typically download the new wtf podcast on Monday. The show is “supported” by Columbia records, presenting David Bowie’s new album “Blackstar.” Marc Maron gushes on about how ” DAVID BOWIE I LOVE DAVID BOWIE. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” The single is called “Lazarus.”

The timing of the whole thing is bizarre. Was this planned? To release a puzzling new work on your sixty ninth birthday, and then die two days later. With the master media manipulator involved, prior planning cannot be ruled out. Or was it just a parting shot of synchronicity? We will never know.

In what might be a new move for celebrity deaths, sex scandal rumors emerged. A lady named Lori Maddox claims that Mr. Bowie “devirginized” her. Miss Maddox was underage at the time. Some people think that this incident makes Mr. Bowie a terrible person, whose artistic output should be ignored. One made the inevitable comment “As someone who sees White stars get a pass for things that celebrities of color get crucified for.”

I learned a long time ago to separate the performer from the performance. I also apply this rule to David Robert Jones. (David Bowie was a stage name. The legal name was never changed.) In 1976, there was an interview, where the artist said “Don’t believe anything you hear me say.” While the creative/marketing genius can be enjoyed, there was always a bit of coldness behind the mask. Some press reports say that this softened as the years went by. In the end David Bowie was human. Ziggy Stardust was a character played by an actor. Does it matter that they were a Cracked Actor?

It is ironic that David Bowie played Andy Warhol in Basquiat. Both combined creation of art, and the marketing of art product, into a seamless unit. The two did not have a good first meeting. “Remember, David Bowie was not a big star. He was just some guy off the street as far as Andy Warhol was concerned. They found a common ground in David’s shoes. David was wearing yellow Mary Janes and Andy had been a shoe illustrator, which David knew so they began talking about shoes.” UPDATE I got to see Basquiat. Andy Warhol’s wig, worn by David Bowie, gave an outstanding performance.

This would have been in 1971. Mr. Bowie discusses his adventures in between songs of this show. There is another story from that first tour: “I think that must’ve been part of the Mercury Records publicity tour in early 1971, Gus. Ted Vigodsky, if I remember correctly, brought Bowie by The Great Speckled Bird’s offices on North Avenue where Moe Slotin and I met him. Bowie was dressed in an ill-fitting gingham dress and looked something like a gaunt, poverty-stricken woman in one of those Walker Evans photos from the Depression. He informed Moe and me that he was gonna be the next big star in rock-n-roll. It took all of our will power not to laugh in his face. This was before anyone in America had heard of him and he had no records out yet (“Space Oddity,” a hit in England in 1969, was not released in the USA until 1973). Six months later Moe and I realized we had completely underestimated him. I had forgotten Charlie had called you about interviewing him.” Pictures today are from “The Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library”.

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David Bowie is 75 today. Elvis is ageless. Betsy DeVos is unemployed. This Bowie tribute is a repost. Pictures are from The Library of Congress.

A webpage called CaptainsDead had a download of a David Bowie concert. (Here is another edition.) Most Bowie live recordings are pretty dull. While the Thin White Duke is renowned for his concerts, they tend to be live events, that depend on staging and costumes as much as music. This show, from 1974, is different. Focusing on material from “Diamond Dogs”, the sound he produces comes close to matching the studio sound.

The next move for Bowie in 1974 was the “white soul” sound of “Young Americans”. He is moving in that direction in this show, even while he lingers in the glitter apocalypse. This tour included a stop at the Fox Theater, the first Atlanta show for Mr.Bowie. On the way to Florida for the next show, the truck with the sets and costumes crashed into a swamp full of rattlesnakes. The show in Tampa was performed in street clothes.

Maybe it is time for a Chamblee54 tribute to David Bowie. It is six am, and PG has stumbled into a job. The time and energy required to write new material is not always available.

The first album by David Bowie that PG heard about was “Hunky Dory”. At the time, Mr. Bowie had generated some buzz by admitting that he fancies blokes, or some uber british expression for being queer. In time, this would be seen as more publicity stunt than brave confession. The RCA debut got some good reviews, but not much else.

The next year produced “Ziggy Stardust”, a concept album. At about this time he did a tour of the United States, with costumes and onstage antics that generated even more publicity. More and more people started listening, some in spite of his outrageous image, and quite a few more because of it. He broke up his band, the spiders from mars, and announced his retirement. The band, according to reports, learned about this while standing on stage behind him. Mr. Bowie, for all his genius, is not always a nice man.

In 1974 there was an album, “Diamond Dogs”, about the decadent urban life in the scifi future. A stage show based on this album…the source of the download mentioned above…marked a return to the concert stage. The next year gave us “Young Americans”, and the year after that “Station to Station”. Every year was a different sound and vision.

Meanwhile, the artist was not doing so good as a human being. According to all reports, he was doing mountains of cocaine. (There is a story of going to meet the parents of Ava Cherry, one of his girlfriends. He shows up at 3am, and does coke on the dining room table.) There was an interview in Playboy (or maybe it was Rolling Stone ) where the first thing he says is, don’t believe anything I say. He went on to say that he admired Adolf Hitler. Have we mentioned the physical appearance of David Bowie in 1975? He looked like he was dead, and nobody bothered to tell him. (By contrast, in recent photo collections of rock stars, Mr. Bowie looks pretty good for a man who is 69 yo.)

This was the era of Rocky Horror show. At one point, Riff Raff sings (Tim O’Brien wrote the show, and gave himself some darn good lines) Frank n furter, it’s all over, your mission is a failure, your lifestyle’s too extreme.I’m your new commander you now are my prisoner we return to transylvania prepare the transit beam While this may not have been directed at David Bowie, he took the hint.

We interrupt this David Bowie tribute with an emergency announcement. A person, reputed to be an entertainer, was seen using the n word on facebook. The screen shots have disappeared, and all we have is the word of the accuser. More details will be available as soon as anyone is interested.

David Bowie saw himself at a dead end, and possibly a dead life. He moved into a little apartment in West Berlin, on top of a garage. Brian Eno offered his assistance, and a series of electronic albums was the result. The next few years saw rock and roll, dance music, and finally, crap. PG bought a Bowie album in 1984, the first time he saw it on sale, and was immensely disappointed. The last David Bowie album that PG got was a free cd that was given to people buying a magazine.

Around 1981, MTV was born, and radio was suddenly obsolete. A visual artiste like David Bowie was a natural for video. Unfortunately, many of these videos are not available for embedding in blogs. Ashes to Ashes was a staple of early MTV. Boys Keep Swinging , off the “Lodger” album, is a return to the gender bender Bowie of younger days.

David Bowie continued to do tours, and PG got to see two of the shows. In 1987, something called the “Glass Spider Tour” came to the Omni. (In a later interview, it turns out Mr. Bowie was extremely unhappy during this tour, and close to suicide at some points.) The Glass Spider was this mass of lighting effects that hovered over the stage, and was used to best advantage during “Scary Monsters”. The show featured Peter Frampton on guitar, and had a pack of dancers. (One apparent female took her drag off during the finale.) A good time was had by all.

In 1990, another retirement tour came to the Omni. This one had movies projected on a screen behind the stage, and featured guitar hero Adrian Bellew. The night had the feel of a contractual obligation. David Bowie is too professional to give a bad show, but this one did not have the fire of “Glass Spider”. PG had a new set of contact lenses, and his eyes were painfully dry most of the night.

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