Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November Goes

And what does this November mean to you as it passes into memory?  Perhaps it is the peaceful acceptance that there is no summer without winter, much in the same way that there is no love without loss.

Simply beautiful work.

The Wilderness of Manitoba is a new group from Toronto. OTR thinks we'll be hearing much more from them.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

From the good aromas in the kitchen to the savory feast on the table, the OTR household wishes you and yours a most happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

Buy the perishables, mis en place in the kitchen, and set the table...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Humor.

OTR heard a reference earlier in the day to the American illustrator, Leslie Thrasher. He was a contemporary of OTR's grandparents, and born and raised in his little hometown nestled on the Potomac River in the Appalachian Mountains. Thrasher and his better known contemporary, Norman Rockwell, shared many characteristics both in terms of style and philosophy. His career was booming in 1936 when a fire in the family's summer home claimed his life and most of his work. With that tragic event, Thrasher was left to history and remembered in brief flashes of recollection by those who knew his name. OTR's dad knew the Thrasher family and talked often about how proud the Tri-Towns were of their well-known illustrator. Here's a very seasonal recollection from Thrasher's world:

Thanksgiving 2011

Clean the house and prep the service...

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

Turkey thawing in the fridge...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

To celebrate Thanksgiving 2011 we'll be featuring a vintage postcard each day this week. The postcards come from the family archives and date from 1908 to 1912. Hope you enjoy them.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Johnny Mercer: Too Marvelous For Words

Today marks the 102nd birthday of Savannah's favorite son, Johnny Mercer. Readers are aware that OTR knows a thing or two about the life and times of this remarkable personality. As a lyricist, composer, performer, businessman, and philanthropist, Mercer shaped much of the American popular music industry for forty years, beginning in the mid 1930s.

Two years ago, OTR wrote a seven part series on this man whose talent left us with almost 2000 published songs--and a few thousand unfinished pieces-- and a host of images in song that continue to entertain us more than thirty years after his passing in 1976. He can't improve on these posts so will link to them in this post for your convenience and enjoyment. Readers will find that several of the YouTube links are inactive, but don't worry, there are dozens of new Mercer uploads just a search away.  The original Mercer essays are:

Day One: Mercer's Early Years
Day Two: Hoagy And Hollywood
Day Three: Sense Of Humor
Day Four: The Bread And Butter Songs
Day Five: On Line And Print References
Day Six: Personal Favorites
Day Seven: Cover Artists And Organizations Keep The Music Alive

Hope you enjoy these posts as much as OTR enjoyed writing them.

There are some additions to the body of work by and about Mercer. In late 2009, Kimball, Day, Kreuger, and Davis published The Complete Lyrics of Johnny Mercer. This 500 page hardcover is the seventh volume in Knopf's Complete Lyrics series. In addition, a huge number of new music issues featuring Mercer and those who have covered his music have appeared in the last two years. Readers should consult their favorite sources for more information.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

When The Wind Is Passing Through

Imagine writing this when you are totally deaf. Imagine writing this in 1826. If there ever was a piece of music out of it's time this is it.

Heavy rain, lightning, thunder, hail and high winds swept across Atlanta earlier. Outside at this hour, the moon sits overhead, waning from full, and gray scud races across the sky out of the southwest. Somewhere, the Leonids dance to the music in the sky.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Occupy DC: Dying Media And Depressing Entropic Urbanism

You're going to enjoy Steven Hayward's superb six minute Power Line production on the Washington Post's interpretation of the Occupy DC settlement. The Post writes that the new town in McPherson Square is "a mix of both admonition and promise," and "something new" for the arts and design community.  Hayward proceeds to show and tell us otherwise.

Note on the video: If you were like OTR, the amazing clip on proximity in Bangkok likely piqued your curiosity in the rest of this TED program by futurist, Stewart Brand. Here's the link to this sixteen minute video.

H/T to OTR's daughter, another observer of the American experience.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Music From Prairie Wind

Sounds for a warm and rainy evening.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans Day 2011

Thank you to all the American veterans who have served to keep their people safe and their nation strong. In OTR's family, there were two veterans he knew well, Uncle Hollis, better known as "Red," and Uncle Charles. Both served in the Pacific during World War II. In 1943-44, Red was assigned to Barber's Point Naval Air Station in Hawaii while his brother-in-law, Charles, served at Pearl Harbor. The facilities were a mere five miles apart but almost one year passed before they knew it. On hearing the news, they resolved to meet for a photograph at the first opportunity. Here's that photo, taken at Waikiki with Red (l) and Charles (r) together at last.

Both returned safely to their Potomac Valley hometowns in the Appalachian Mountains near Cumberland, Maryland. Hardly a decade passed before the declining economy in the region forced them to relocate to better job opportunities. Red moved his family to Akron, Ohio and had a very successful career with Goodyear Tire and Rubber. Charles took his family to the booming oil industry in Houston, Texas and work in real estate management. Both are gone now, along with their wives, Edith and Dorothy, and contact with the cousins, a victim of time and distance, is rare these days.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Time To Make That New Year's Party Punch

One thing you won't find in this recipe is the lady's stocking, soldier's sock, and a bit of soil returned from the unit's latest combat deployment. So much for authenticity.

Yes friends, the introduction means only one thing: it's that time of year to assemble and ferment your Chatham Artillery Punch, a great American holiday beverage best described as a nuclear rumtopf.  You can find the traditional recipe for fifty servings here at one of OTR's 2008 posts. And this somewhat over-the-top video illustrates what you're getting into when you make this wonderful Savannah original that dates from the colonial era:

Fermenting a batch for eight weeks will yield you a wonderfully smooth and deceptively powerful treat. A small serving, including some fruit, will go a long way whether you serve it in cups or pour it over ice cream. Either way it's delicious, but OTR's native Savannahian friends would shun him for suggesting it with ice cream.

Footnote: The Chatham Artillery survives today as the 1st Battalion of the 118th Field Artillery Regiment of the Georgia National Guard. Their latest service was in Iraq. Their annual banquet is moving into its third century.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

West Side Story: A Film At Fifty

Hard to believe, my friends, that this film has reached the milestone of fifty years since its release in late October 1961. West Side Story followed the Broadway production by about four years and possessed all the groundbreaking elements in story, sound, and dance that would make it an enduring work.  It won ten Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Here's a trailer to enjoy:

What would Will Shakespeare think!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Gram Parsons's Cosmic American Music

Today, OTR commemorates the birthday of Gram Parsons, the singer and songwriter who sought the fusion of rock and country into what he called Cosmic American Music. Parsons died young, and well-before he was acknowledged as one of America's most influential innovators in the world of popular music. Most authorities credit him with founding the country rock genre.  He leaves behind a wonderful legacy of sound through his membership in three bands, the International Submarine Band, the Byrds, and the Flying Burrito Brothers; his solo work, and a legendary association with Emmylou Harris.

Parson would have been 65 today. Here are the Byrds performing his song, "One Hundred Years From Now," on their groundbreaking album - and Parsons's concept - Sweetheart of the Rodeo:

 And here he is as lead vocal on "Hickory Wind," another of his compositions - this one with Bob Buchanan - recorded for the same album:

Parsons passed away in 1973 with hardly a decade of musical composition and performance behind him. Though his life was short, his influence on music was profound, and OTR and his other fans hope that music will live on for generations.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Homage To The Waning Sunlight Days

The world is well past September's Vernal Equinox. In the Northern Hemisphere, we begin this month with the Sun's zenith racing south, our daylight shrinking, and nature cooling into a period of rest. Our garden moved inside earlier and we restored firewood to the hearth. The blue sky behind the fall palette of our woods turned gray by supper and rain fell hard by dark. In silence we talk to faces in the fire of the green months and the promises of holidays and future time.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Spreading The Wealth Around In 1934

Some weeks ago, OTR decided to take a break from domestic politics as a core theme for his blog. Political discourse is everywhere on the Internet and, if you have enough years in the American experience to remember the better times, most of that discourse is painful if not downright frightening. But ignoring pain seldom leads to a better outcome, especially when the learned physician, history, renders such a clear diagnosis.

In 1934, most Americans were adjusting to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's year old administration as it introduced a government-directed economy as a means of overcoming the Great Depression. That same year, in Louisiana the populism of the previous generation merged with the Marxist zeitgeist sweeping Europe. The personification of that movement was Huey Long.

Dave Blount, posting at Moonbattery, has this to say about Long:

To this day the name Huey Long rightly fills freedom-loving Americans with dread, because he personified the threat of the same collectivist totalitarianism that produced Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Soviet Russia taking root on our soil.

Blount's post also links to Long's Share the Wealth plan, a scheme bearing a scary resemblance to the hope and change proposed by Barack Hussein Obama. Blount continues:

The mentality represented by Obama and the Occupy Wall Street crowd isn’t new. Neither is the economic peril that makes us vulnerable to it. What would be new is the sufficient lack of character for Americans to succumb to it.

We have been there before. This is a wake up call we cannot ignore.

All Saints Day 2011

Today, Christians throughout the western world commemorate the faithful who have gone on to their reward In Heaven. Is there a better way to honor these saints than through the joyful noise of a magnificent choir of Welsh voices? OTR thinks not. After all, there must be some long-lost cousins there.