Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I am in a Michigan state of mind

Hello All,

We apologize for our hiatus. We don't have an excuse for the lack of posts. Matt and I are just slackers. We will try to make up for it with a super awesome Michigan post.

We just visited our friends in Detroit and I looked through a treasure trove of postcards at John King's. For all of you who say "Detroit?? Why would you go there???" Let me break it down.

1) Beautiful Belle Isle. It has family reunions and car racing (not at the same time). Apparently the family reunions have been going on for about a century. Perhaps the car races too, this is Motor City after all. In this postcard from 1913 they are having fun in checkerboard painted canoes. Today everyone rents a moonbounce.

2)The finest pumping stations you have ever seen. Detroit has the castle of waste water management. This beautiful building is still in operation. Matt, Mr. Urban Planner, is very jealous that they are not building one in the DC area.

3) Alright, this isn't in Detroit- but if you are visiting Michigan in a time machine, set the dial for 1952 at the Alpena Siesta Motor Court. As you can see below, memories will be made, who you bring is up to you.

5) Of course you could always finish out with a visit to this fountain. Or to the Cadieux Cafe which has the only feather bowling lanes in the States. There's also other fun stuff to entertain you that has something to do with the music biz. That could take awhile.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Hustlers - Boston Monkey

Listen: The Hustlers - Boston Monkey

Once upon a time, people used to make up crazy dances. In fact, these dances were so crazy that they were called "dance crazes." You may be familiar with some of them: the twist, the swim, the mashed potato. Sometimes kids would make up a dance, and songwriters and record producers would try to cash in by recording a song to go with it. Sometimes the songwriters and record producers would write songs for dances that didn't exist, with the expectation that the kids would figure out how to turn the vague lyrical directions into a movement.

In response to Kendall's post about Boston (which definitely has the best fireworks, for what it's worth), I bring you a compendium on a dance craze that may or may not have originated in the Cradle of Liberty, the Boston Monkey.

I was able to dig up seven songs about the Boston Monkey. Not different versions of similar songs, but seven unique songs. Of course, the directions on how to do the Boston Monkey depend on which of these songs you are listening to.

Billy Butler - "Boston Monkey" (1966): Shake your hands, baby. Move your knees, baby. Side to side but not fast, just like a clap. First you take a dip, yeah, and then you shake it like a whip, yeah.

Les Cooper & the Soul Rockers - "Let's Do The Boston Monkey" (1965): Let's try it with a little bit of soul now. Let's go down to Soulville now.

Richard Anthony & The Bluenotes - "Boston Monkey" (1966): People get ready because it's Monkey time. Grab your baby, form a big boss line.

The Manhattans - "The Boston Monkey" (1965): With the Boston Monkey you don't have to be a Fred Astaire Everybody stand in line, let your hands take to the air. Hear the music with the honky tonk beat. Move your hands, your hips, and your feet.

The Hustlers - "Boston Monkey" (1965): On your right side and move. Now push your arms out baby, to the left side groove. Sway you hips and follow through. Boston Monkey, too.

Alvin Cash & The Registers - "Boston Monkey" (1966): Move to the left, move to the right. Shake your hips, and baby do the bite.

Otis Redding - "Boston Monkey" (Posthumous release, 1992): Shake your shoulders, wiggle your knees, clap your hands, do it if you please. You got to keep a groove going any kind of way, just do it, baby, just any old day.

The Boston Monkey was a big enough fad to warrant mention in a March 1966 issue of Time. Of course, by then it was on it's way out, replaced by moves like the Boogaloo and the Philly Dog.
Since Thanksgiving, the dance at discotheques and hip parties had been the Boston Monkey, which consists of keeping both feet still and shaking the hips and hands. But the kids got bored and started moving, so right now in Manhattan nightspots it's the Boogaloo, in which you swivel from side to side, shuffling feet, rotating shoulders and pelvis.
The kids from New York were bored with what was cool in Boston. It's Peter Stuyvesant vs. John Winthrop, egg creams vs. cream pies, and Yankees vs. Red Sox all over again.

The final word goes to the Hullabaloo Discotheque Dance Book, which provides the best instruction on the Boston Monkey that you're probably ever going to see.
Feet: Together, knees bent.
Body: Bent from the waist.
Hands: In front of you, palms down, at waist level.
Movement: Hips to the left, hips to the right.
You push your right hip out, and slightly back, at the same time moving your hands to the left.
You push your left hip out, and slightly back, at the same time moving you hands to the right.
All done bobbing, Monkey-like.

Now you've got it!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Down in the South

When I first read the title of this postcard A Fishing Smack in Southern Waters, I thought, "Like smack dab in southern waters?" Well, unfortunately for those of us with a southern drawl, it is referring to a type of fishing boat called a smack. In reality, this postcard interested me because of its resemblance to my hometown, Beaufort, SC.

Beaufort is mostly know for these things:
1) Shrimp.
2) Fantastic southern scenery that Hollywood regularly exploits.
3) The infamous Parris Island, which is a marine training base.
4) The place where secession papers were signed that started the civil war. Thanks a lot South Carolina.
5) A famous vacation destination for the populace of Ohio.
6) Pat Conroy.

Isn't this a nice combination of scenery and a shrimp boat?

So, shrimping being the theme here, I will leave you with recipes for two fantastic Lowcountry dishes: Frogmore Stew and Shrimp and Grits.

Shrimp and Grits Recipe
Frogmore Stew Recipe - The part about the newspapers is true, but usually you dump it out and then give people plates to scoop the stew onto.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Love that Dirty Water

Boston, Massachusetts

Old City Hall is now home to the Beer Distributors of Massachusetts headquarters, all sorts of preservation groups, a Ruth Chris Steak House, and much more. At one point America's first public school sat on this land. Old City Hall was one of the first adaptive reuse projects in the 70s. It was the third City Hall building in the city's history, serving that purpose from 1865-1969. The second city hall was erected and demolished (around 1840) in the same spot. The fourth is pictured below.

The newest city hall was designed by Kallman, McKinnell and Knowles in the "brutalist modern" style of architecture. An American Institute of Architects poll voted it to be the 6th greatest building in American history in 1976. At one point, it was named the world's ugliest building by experts at and many Boston residents.

There is also a famous tale that when the architects unveiled their design to Mayor John Collins, he gasped and blurted out "What the hell is that?"

Comment from designer Kallmann: "'We distrust and have reacted against an architecture that is absolute, uninvolved and abstract. We have moved towards an architecture that is specific and concrete, involving itself with the social and geographic context, the program, and methods of construction, in order to produce a building that exists strongly and irrevocably, rather than an uncommitted abstract structure that could be any place and, therefore, like modern man— without identity or presence."

I am not sure they succeeded. Also, I resent the idea that modern man is without identity or presence. In retort, I will blame that problem on bad architectural design that breaks up a city's community instead of bringing it together.

I feel like I need to cheer up my Boston neighbors after this post. I leave you with pictures of the Red Sox winning the World Series.

Van Morrison - Moonshine Whiskey

Listen: Van Morrison - Moonshine Whiskey

I know it's been a long time since my last post. That is something that Van Morrison would never do to his fans. In fact, since going solo in 1967 with "Brown Eyed Girl," Morrison has released 34 albums. Impressive!

Some of those albums are very good, including Tupelo Honey, which closes out with today's song. It's a bit rambling and drawn out, but in a good way. We even get a nod to "Funky Broadway." I think it fits in well with the spirit of Kendall's recent posts.

Buy Van Morrison music

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Happy Holidays

Washington, DC

I hope everyone has plans for an excellent July 4th weekend. Remember our founding fathers, I suggest Ben Franklin in particular- he was really the most interesting. How can you resist learning about the continuous invention and wooing of French women? I am sure many of you will choose to focus on Sam Adams- at least you are trying.

I believe this postcard is supposed to capture the Capitol at night. I think if the Capitol actually looked like this at night I might head for a bomb shelter. On a lighter note, perhaps it is a 4th of July firework spectacle. This leads me to a very important question:

Which City has the best fireworks?


Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Joy of Painting

Kings Canyon, California

An ode to happy, little trees. We miss you Bob Ross.

Matt will be with us again shortly.