Musical Interlude with the Dankworths

Cleo Laine will turn ninety years old this year. She was born to an English mother and Jamaican father. With her multi-octave voice, she and jazz-musician husband John Dankworth became musical royalty, entertaining audiences around the world for decades.

Years ago at a show in Portland, Dankworth introduced an instrumental number, telling the audience it was in an unusual time signature – 7/8 or something. He went on to say we would know the band performed it correctly if they all finished at the same time.

John Dankworth died in 2010 at age eight-two.

Summer of Love

If you’re going to San Francisco, put some flowers in your hair and head over to the de Young Museum for their “Summer of Love” exhibition.

The Summer of Love began on sunny January 14, 1967 in San Francisco. Thirty thousand, mostly young, people gathered in Golden Gate Park for the first Human Be-In.” With a far-off war raging and anti-Vietnam War protests escalating, the baby boomer generation was going to show the rest of the nation the way to peace and love: sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. Jefferson Airplane and Quicksilver Messenger Service provided the music. LSD was handed out and Hell’s Angels provided security. (The wisdom of hiring a motorcycle gang for security was demonstrated thirty months and sixty miles later at the Altamont Speedway Free Festival when they beat to death an over-exuberant fan in front of the stage where the Rolling Stones were performing.)

The Haight-Ashbury neighborhood became the perceived center of the groovy lifestyle. Thousands of young people flocked there for a summer of love. The Monterey Pop Festival, brainchild of record company executives and producers, with private security and trained volunteers, in the minds of many somehow epitomized this new way of living.

Fifty years later, hipsters have replaced the hippies; young people line the sidewalks, playing with smartphones while waiting for free buses to their high-tech jobs in Silicon Valley. Airbnb will help you find a place to stay in Haight-Ashbury.

The Summer of Love Experience: Art, Fashion, and Rock & Roll runs through August 20 at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park.

Peace, Love and the Who

Portland Has Henry Huggins

There has been some – not a lot, really – agitation for the city of Portland to erect some kind of monument to The Simpsons, the long-running television program and brainchild of Portland native Matt Groenig. After all, many Simpsons characters are named after Portland streets.

The local Willamette Week newspaper used Santa Rosa California as an example. Peanuts characters are inescapable in any part of the adopted home of Charles M. Schulz. The information booth at Santa Rosa’s airport, the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport, is a reproduction of Lucy’s “Psychiatric Help 5¢” booth.

Portland has already honored another native literary icon with statues of fictional characters. You may be familiar with the Henry Huggins series of books. The Multnomah County Library’s central location houses its children’s book in the Beverly Cleary Room.

The adventures of Henry and his dog Ribsy found in their neighborhood have entertained several generations of young readers. Henry and Ribsy live on Klickitat Street in northeast Portland. (Present tense, because they are still alive for readers.) The sisters Beezus and Ramona Quimby reside down the street. The Library periodically sponsors walking tours of their neighborhood.

Henry and Beezus and Ribsy live on in sculpture, frolicking in Grant Park, near Klickitat Street. (The movie Mr. Holland’s Opus was filmed at Grant High School.)

A couple years ago, the Laurelwood Brewery, based in northeast Portland, was selling their product from a booth at an outdoor concert. They were promoting a seasonal brew, Klickitat Ale. I asked if that was what Henry Huggins drank. The server looked at me as if I was an alien being speaking an unknown language.

Cindy Walker Lives On

“I don’t like country music, but I don’t mean to denigrate those who do. And for the people who like country music, denigrate means ‘put down’.”  – Bob Newhart

Ray Benson, front man for the venerable country-swing band Asleep at the Wheel, introduced the band’s next song with some background about its composer. The tiny Texas town of Mexia boasted two celebrated women, he said: Anna Nicole Smith, infamous 1993 Playboy Playmate of the Year and Country Music Hall-of-Famer Cindy Walker. Benson went on, explaining that the song was written by a lady from Mexia, “The one with the big… er… hits!”

Continue reading Cindy Walker Lives On

Earth Day – Then and Now

Gaylord Nelson, Democratic Senator from Wisconsin, originated the first Earth Day in 1970. (Also born in 1970 was Paul Ryan, an Ayn Rand acolyte elected to Congress by Wisconsin voters in 1998.) Nelson wanted a “national teach-in on the environment.” Pete McCloskey, a Republican Congressman, from California, served as Nelson’s co-chair. What are the chances today of a Democrat and a Republican coming together on environmental issues?

Twenty-million Americans demonstrated on April 22, 1970, sending a message that it was time to address the deterioration of the air, the water and the land. Later that year, President Richard Nixon issued an executive order creating the Environmental Protection Agency. Congress soon after ratified the order. Nixon – yes, that Richard Nixon – also signed the Clean Air Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Endangered Species Act.

Forty-seven years later, flanked by coal-company executives, coal miners and the vice-president, along with various administration flunkies, Donald Trump signed an executive order rescinding his predecessor’s “Clean Power Plan.” Just to rub the EPA’s nose in it, the president held the signing ceremony inside the agency’s offices. He finished by telling the deluded coal miners, “C’mon, fellas. You know what this is? You know what this says? You’re going back to work.” According to the Associated Press, renewable-energy jobs already outnumber coal jobs, and many renewable-energy technologies are on their way to being cheaper than coal.

Obama’s executive order was a plan to reduce carbon emissions. Trump’s EO lifts a moratorium on new coal mining leases on federal land and relaxes limits on new coal power plant construction.

I wonder what our children and grandchildren will think about this.

…and in other news…

In a lawsuit filed against Palm Beach County, Trump demanded $100 million damages, alleging that emissions from the jets flying overhead are “causing substantial destruction of the materials” used to build the club, which include unique and historical items like “porous Dorian stone, antique Spanish tiles and antique Cuban roof tiles.”

And if that wasn’t bad enough, the suit claims noise and fumes from the air traffic have “substantially deprived” Trump and the club’s members the ability to use the property’s outdoor areas and amenities.