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  • Allison Williams’ Peter Pan – My Review

    PETER PAN, a live TV musical. From the book PETER PAN by James Barrie (first published in 1904)

    peterFOUR STARS… I really liked it.

    I remember Mary Martin who, up to now, was the Sean Connery of James Bonds, as Peter Pan. All others were judged by Ms. Martin’s spunky Peter, and I am here to say that ALLISON WILLIAMS is the new standard by which future Peter Pans’ will be judged. She didn’t overact, she sang, acted, and flew with earnest glee. Ms. Williams was engaged, present, in the moment, and it was great to see her meet this challenge and fly.

    When it comes to Captain Hook, alas, I am old enough to remember Cyril Richard, who was villain enough for me. Dustin Hoffman gave an interesting Hook, but Sir Cyril’s performance is what I judge all Hooks by. Christopher Walken came through and was both humerous and treacherous, a fine Hook he was. He too was brilliant.

    The sets were spectacular and entertaining. The costumes were catchy and in keeping. Christian Borle was a rather plastic Father, but he earned his money as Smee. And were those his real arms?  I know the tattoos were fake, but were those guns he sported real?  I had not pictured him pumping iron daily for the past ten years.

    awSuccess as live musical theatre is hard won whenever the rare attempt is mounted. So much can go wrong. But this was superb and rarely bogged down. The Disney Tinkerbell “light trail” was back and I was glad to see “Tink” in high def. The dance choreography was way beyond what I ever expected. It was a tour de force. I have no doubt it will soon be on Broadway and win Tony after Tony.

    Allison Williams welcome to the Big Time. Your good old Dad must be very, very proud. Good for you Allison.  Good for you NBC, you should be, well, proud as a peacock.

    It was a flying success.  FYI, for young and old alike, the DVD becomes available everywhere on December 16th. – Harry


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  • Obama, The Republican Congress, and the 2016 elections

    The next two years are going to be interesting and likely very frustrating for many of us as a Republican Congress and a Democratic President try to find common ground and an end to the gridlock in Washington. Will that common ground lead to beneficial legislation? Probably not is the short version answer. Will legislation get passed and not be vetoed by Obama? Are we in for two more years of gridlock? How will the 2016 election go. Who will the Dems nominate? Who will the Republicans nominate? Who will become the 45th President of the United States?

    Well, let me tell you what I think is going to happen. The democrats will try to use the lame duck Congress to get some things done. There will be intense pushback from the Republican leadership. Will the President use Executive Orders on immigration, among other things?

    Here is my take: I believe that the “well” is already poisoned and that President Obama will use Executive Order in the lame duck weeks between now and the new Congress reconvening in January.

    Then as 2015 unfolds, I think Obama will, as his final two years in office begin, get off to the rockiest of starts, and be under constant and withering attack from Republicans. You can expect Ted Cruz to ratchet up his demagoguery. As Obama sees the writing on the wall, he will decide to go it alone, seek no compromise with Congress, and both threaten, and ultimately use his veto powers. T

    The plot will thicken when calls for impeachment echo, and the Repubs open hearings on Benghazi and on Obamacare, which I have no doubt they will do. Benghazi, of course, involves then Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who many feel will be the Democratic nominee in the 2016 elections.

    In my opinion, as these hearings become increasingly strident and accusatory, in a surprise to many, the President will, at some point, find his courage and pull Excalibur from the lake or stone (I forget which it is). The once eloquent “Obama the Orator,” circa 2007, will emerge to climb on his donkey (to mix metaphor and literature) and go into full battle mode to defend his presidency and his legacy. It will be great political theatre that is as important as can be for the immediate future of the Country. Both sides will go to DefCon 5 as the slings and arrows fly.

    Now, as to the nominations and 2016 Presidential Elections get under way and campaign season gets into full swing, the Benghazi hearings will be an attempt to damage Hillary and affect her chances in 2016, as Republicans chip away at both Clintons.

    As a fan of VP Biden (His fan club consists of me, his wife Jill, and I don’t know who else, but not many), Joe will use his considerable skill and do himself a lot of good as he seeks the Presidency in 2016. Hillary will be constantly under attack and it will hurt her as the months drag out.

    I don’t know who Dems will choose, but Biden will make a strong case for himself. His obvious ties to the S.S. Obama won’t hurt him as much as some may think, because Joe can think on his feet and even though he has his “mouth moments,” he is nobody’s fool, and Joe has some statesmanship in his blood. He is a foreign policy expert and knows Congress very well. I would never bet against Joe Biden, who may very well become President Biden, to the surprise of most, but not me.

    I think this will become possible when Mitch and the Repubs will overplay their hand going after Obama and Hillary. There will be dark days ahead for the Dems, no doubt, but the internecine warfare between Tea Party Repubs and more mainstream Repubs will escalate. Sarah Palin and the Crazies will be heard from again. Michelle Bachman where are you?

    To my mind, there are only three possible Republican presidential nominees. It’s going to be either Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, or Rand Paul. The Dems will choose between Clinton and Biden.

    I think the Republican nominee will be Jeb Bush, with either Chris Christie or Rand Paul as his vice president.

    The Democratic ticket will be Biden as President and Elizabeth Warren as Veep.

    Here’s a news flash: The Dems will win again in 2016. The president will be Joe Biden and Senator Warren will become the vice president.

    That is how I see it, as of now, November 6, 2014.


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  • PAGING RENEE ZELLWEGER?

    You know, I kinda fell in love with you, circa “Jerry Maguire” and later, you did brilliant work in “Cold Mountain.” “Fetching” was your middle name; You were the tomboyish girl who lived next door. You were a little goofy, but there was sex appeal and you looked like you might be a lot of fun afterward. It’s fair to say that you were a fantasy that seemed possible, plausible, perhaps even likely. You had that every girl appeal and it was very convincing and sexual. 

    You might not remember me, but I had a glimpse when you rode past in a convertible on a cold winter’s day, as the Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year, in Cambridge, just a few years ago. You looked good. I could tell that you were freezing your ass off. In person, you looked like yourself. I was freezing my ass off too. We had that in common on the day we sort of met. You were Dorothy Boyd in the flesh…only with goosebumps.

    I’ve got nothing against plastic surgery but you look, well, like somebody else. You look nothing like Dorothy Boyd now. You exude a distant sexiness, but the fantasy is Mission Impossible for most red blooded males, myself included. You have gone from Labrador Retriever to Borzoi. I’m a Lab kinda guy, Renee. We’ve drifted apart. Face it, you’ve changed.

    Taking things so far that you are almost unrecognizable to an old friend like me is unsettling. You now have a vaguely haughty and disinterested look. Jaded, nonchalant and detached. I guess you can audition for that Hepburn role you must have been fantasizing about.

    Sorry to say, but you no longer are the girl we had grown accustomed to; and liked. Rex Harrison would be muttering and stuttering. C’mon RZ, what does it feel like to look yourself in the mirror and not see someone familiar? You don’t have to answer that, and it’s just my opinion, but I liked you best when you lived next door to me.




  • Harry on Hunting

    HUNTING? – I do not cotton to the idea of hunting, per se. The notion of hunting for “mon plaisir” doesn’t make it anything close to “sporting,” even if a small chunk of the population finds it “pleasurable.” It is a damn shame and a damn lie to say that hunting is sport. My guess is that most deer and a goodly number of ducks agree with me.

    Looky, it’s great fun to be outdoors, weather permitting; and there are those occasions where I like tromping through the woods, even if said tromping is tempered by the artificiality of my knees. And I have actually hunted a few times in my reckless past, always by invitation from parents of friends, in my younger days. I get the thrill of the chase, as they say. For the record, I never chased anything, or fired my weapon, neither have I been hunting when anybody else did. I’m cool with walking around in the deep dark woods for hours.

    rabOn the one occasion that I was invited to a deer hunt, others, not in my “party,” killed deer aplenty. I have seen them being bled out, hanging there, dead and all, as trophies for us to see. There is a ritual where a hunter is slathered in the blood of his first killed deer. Truly pagan and probably historic social anthropology as practiced for all millennia. I just didn’t need to see it.

    Notwithstanding the above, I actually find no fault with some of the trappings – the LL Bean boots with their lifetime guarantee, a rifle slung, Che Guevara-style, over the shoulder; or an unhinged, safety-breaked shotgun in hand, and a crackling campfire that a November afternoon can offer. It is good to be out in nature, away from it all, from time to time. All that I do get.

    What seems irretrievably wrong, to me, is pulling the trigger or letting loose the taut-drawn bow to kill. Being out in nature is one thing. Killing Nature is another. How sporting is it to kill an unsuspecting animal, or duck/bird? Hunters will say sporting enough. I don’t draw that conclusion. – Harry Lipson III
    ps- if you truly need to hunt to put food on your table, then I can live with that, even if what you kill can’t.


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  • How and Why I Know Roy Blount, Jr., which I Do

    OK so,back around 1975, I read Roy Blount, Jr.’s first book, Three Bricks Shy of A Load, which if I recall was about the NFL Pittsburgh Steelers and the Rooney family that owned that ball club. I had been reading a lot of Dan Jenkins’ stuff around that time, and I found that I liked Roy about the same as Dan.

    Long story short, I became an event producer in Boston in the early 1980s and I went on to produce several events that Roy was invited to participate in, and did.  Since Roy and I are both from the Deep South,  we talked a lot about food and football, which is what Southerners often do when they first meet in a place like Boston, or elsewhere.

    Roy is a good guy, in case you didn’t know.  Real humble, pretty smart, and he generally tells a good story.  All laudable Southern traits.

    Now fast forward to early this morning.   I had been “working” on my computer, mostly seeking new FaceBook friends, and after a while I headed over to Amazon.com to find a book to make me sleepy when I read in bed.

    For reasons that are beyond me, perhaps it was a higher power, I ended up ordering another one of Roy’s books; this one about the legendary Confederate GeneraI, Robert E. Lee of Virginia.

    After buying the paperback version, I went back to FaceBooking (a phrase I have just now invented, and want full credit for.  If you can copyright a phrase, then I hereby do it  You are my witness).

    Anyhow, I went back to FaceBooking and I stumbled onto the RBJASFB page:  The Roy Blount, Jr. Appreciation Society FaceBook page.  How’s that for coincidence.

    royI have for many years been in possession of a photo of Roy Blount, Jr. and yours truly, which  I offered it up to The Cause, that being, the Appreciation Society of one of Society’s underappreciated former sportswriters, the aforementioned Mr. Jr. himself.  They immediately accepted my photo and published it.  Then they wanted to know how every member of the club came to appreciate Roy.  Someone went first and then things just sat there, so I assumed it was my “turn to go” and that’s how we end up here, with me telling them How and Why I Know Roy Blount, Jr., which my photograph almost certainly proves.

    Since early childhood, in Alabama, I have been vividly aware of, and surely inspired by General Robert E. Lee.  Coincidentally, when I was a little bit younger, a bookmaker I knew called me LightHorse Harry or, more frequently, just LightHorse.  I actually had never been given a nickname before, and I kinda liked LightHorse Harry, partially because the original LightHorse was General LightHorse Harry Lee, who as it turns out was Robert E. Lee’s daddy.  That is the same Robert E. Lee that Roy Blount, Jr. wrote a book about, which I bought, as you know, as a sleep aid.

    As a footnote, Lighthorse Harry Lee was actually named Henry, but Lighthorse Henry didn’t have that revolutionary ring to it.  So its a small world, and Southerners tend to stick together when they’re not seceding.  I hope you see the coincidence or irony here and let there be no doubt that I am the inventor of the English word “FaceBooking” which refers to spending time, of any length, on FaceBook.  And that is How and Why I know Roy Blount, Jr., who has his own FaceBook fan club.  –   Yours truly, LightHorse Harry Lipson III, in Boston, 8-23-14.


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  • Football: A Commentary

    I write this in response to a Boston Globe columnist’s article calling for phasing out of football and arguing that we should not watch football on TV any longer.
    The columnist correctly pointed out the issue of concussions and injuries in football.

    My response: Your article about the traumatic realities of football is accepted science.
    HOWEVER, AND IN SPITE OF IT ALL, I ABSOLUTELY LOVE AND LOOK FORWARD TO WATCHING AMERICAN COLLEGE AND PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL, both in person and most especially on HD color TV, in living color as the old TV slogan goes. I just can’t help myself. Football games are too colorful, exciting, interesting, compelling, spellbinding, wonderful, heart pounding, jump out of your La Z Boy enjoyable.

    We are all voyeurs. And I don’t watch football to see anyone get hurt. Injuries happen and brain injuries are a reality. I recognize the danger but I don’t accept personal responsibility for watching football. That is the disconnect. I get that it can be dangerous. I acknowledge your science. I buy that football can be linked to the Roman Circus. I understand the psychology and the human nature of Spectacle. Football, however, is not bloodsport, per se. I draw a line between the two.

    Professional bicycling is dangerous. Watch the Tour de France. Professional soccer is full of intentional contact with the aim to hurt your opponent. I give you the World Cup, for example. Skiing is inherently dangerous. Men’s lacrosse is no walk in the park either.

    I don’t apologize for football or my love of it. I don’t think I have to rationalize that. I don’t think I need to apologize for that. I don’t think football should be be turned into some sort of non-contact ballet. I do think that safer equipment and rules modifications which improve safety are important and ongoing. I’m not going to quit loving football. I revel in the history of college football, the fight songs, the uniforms, the halftime speeches, and the legacies of the great players and coaches. Roll Tide Roll. Go Patriots. Rah, Rah, Rah, Boola Boola, Sis Boom Bah, Dot the I, On Wisconsin, All the Live Long Day.

    The world wide popularity of sport is, in general, a good thing. It brings us together. We learn to respect rivalry. In general, War is a bad thing. Therein lies the difference. Football is a game with rules and the contests are officiated.

    If you want to vent, may I suggest railing against hunting, for example, where the object is to kill an animal or a bird. Hunting for pleasure is not sport, nor is it sporting. I don’t have a problem with hunting for food. Culling of herds is occasionally necessary. It’s great fun to be outdoors. I get the thrill of the chase, having hunted occasionally in my past. I like the whole deal except for pulling the trigger or drawing the bow. To me, it’s not justifiable, to kill for sport.


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  • Boston Baseball: Where Buying the Future Is Expensive But Called For

    You won’t have Clay Bucholz to kick around too much longer. He’ll get dealt someplace where the glare isn’t so harsh and the scribes are suck ups. Buch is no longer dependable. You know it. I know it. Clay knows it. Even though his stock is low, we can send him packing after the season, eat salary, and move on.

    Expect good things to happen, Red Sox Nation. The Cavalry is coming. We need great pitching and we’re gonna get it, and get it big time. Who’s that coming down Landsdowne Street, it’s John Lester (back in the fold, on his terms), and I see Max Scherzer and Cole Hamels and Justin Masterson and Tyson Ross.

    The Red Sox can reload. It just costs money and money we have, with the shy, but rich, John Henry, who is, no doubt, getting all the more rich by just owning our team. John (if I may call you that), all we want is a really good chance to go deep in the playoffs, each and every year. We don’t have to win the World Series every year, but we should be playing in October.  John, you have the greatest fans in baseball. We hardly complain about the highest ticket prices in baseball. We hardly complain about the fact that Fenway is covered with advertising.  The way I see it, ownership asks something of us fans, and we ask something of ownership. So, c’mon John Henry, buy the top talent. Pony up. Put that sweet product on the field and we’ll sing “Sweet Effin’ Caroline” like we mean it, and a sizable portion of us do.

    The Boston Red Sox are loved more than any local or regional institution, the Church being the exception. More than the Marathon. More than Harvard, more than M.I.T., more than the Celtics, more than the Bruins. The Red Sox are currently only slightly ahead of the Patriots, but when Belichick and Brady are gone, then the Red Sox will run circles around the Pats like they do everyone else. It’s fun to be a diehard Boston Red Sox fan. We’re on the bandwagon, rain or shine. We have been suffering for generations. Our parents and grandparents paid our dues. They overpaid our dues.

    No one begrudges the fact that the Boston Red Sox are a money making machine.  They print the stuff.  Sure, it costs a ton to field a really good players, establish and maintain a great farm system, and pay for the duck boats.  Thankfully, we, the fans, buy the merch, we buy the tickets, we throw money away at Foxwoods, drink Coca-Cola, and buy our office supplies at W.B. Mason. I even know a die hard Red Sox fan who throws a brick through his windshield every spring so Giant Glass can take his insurance company’s money. We support John Hancock, we buy Hood ice cream, and drink and eat Dunkin’ Donuts and shop at Cumberland Farms.  Those folks, in turn, chip in a whole bunch of money to cover the ball club’s annual nut. Nat Geo calls it Symbiosis and it’s a win-win deal for everyone, except probably Clay Bucholz. And if we can’t fix Clay, we’ll find us someone who don’t need fixin’.

    So lighten up on Clay. He did his part for the Red Sox. He has a ring on his skinny finger. That he can’t repeat his delivery now isn’t the end of the world.  This season is just a blip on the Red Sox long timeline, soon to be forgotten, exactly when the equipment truck rolls South next Winter.

    Clay, if you are reading this, it would behoove you to throw another no-no if you don’t want to play for Houston, Miami, or the Cubbies next season.  Frankly, with Scherzer, Hamels, Ross, Owens, Kelly, and Lester in our 2015 starting rotation, there isn’t going to be room for you, unless you figure out a repeatable delivery.

    FYI, two good things we’ve learned this year:  One is that Brock Holt is the real deal. He’s a dirt dog winner and can play any position better than whoever is playing that position.  The other thing is that Jackie Bradley is the best defensive outfielder in baseball.  Yes, he needs to learn to bunt and hit better.  But he’s coachable.  He’ll get in the swing of it. Enough with the strike outs, Jack.  But, given his unreal speed and his world class leather, JBJ needs to be in Fenway’s center field green grass for the next ten years.  Even if he can’t hit a lick. But he will.

    So get ready for some damn good Red Sox baseball in 2015. I have faith in our ability to buy about the best team in baseball each and every year. That is not cynicism, it’s what we all expect and happily pay for. Open up the checkbook John, and Red Sox Nation will have something to look forward to, next season, and every season. –   Harry Lipson III, in old Boston Towne.


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  • To Hell with Baseball, It’s Almost Football Season

    One week ago tonight I published the post beneath this. The Red Sox had just won five in a row and beaten Toronto 14-1. Fast forward seven days and the Red Sox have lost six of seven and were just beaten, ironically, by Toronto, 14-1. The point being this: The Red Sox have thrown in the towel (to use a boxing metaphor). We are playing out the cards (another damn metaphor) and our season is lost. We are in last place and it is a tough pill to swallow (pharma phrase, I suppose) for fans of the reigning world champions. Hard to believe. Over the past ten seasons, Boston has won 3 World Series, so we can’t win every year. But from best to worst is a fast elevator ride straight down.
    Now, apparently, we are about to trade or sell a number of our players. Ace lefty, Jon Lester, may be sent packing (big mistake) and superstar closer, Koji Uehara, may be available to the high bidder. Some say it will be a “fire sale.” It took us years to assemble this World Series championship team, and the ownership may shake the dice, and blow it all up in the next three days. The MLB trade deadline is Thursday afternoon so we don’t have long to wait to find out who is going and who is staying. For sure it is a lost season. On the other hand, its just a matter of weeks until football season starts.


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  • Baseball and Death

    Our Boston Red Sox are surging, finally. As of this update, the Red Sox have won eight of nine games, including five in a row. On the down side, we are still five games under .500, but a week ago, it was a whole lot worse. Maybe the All Star pause was the break we needed. Everybody is hitting now. Last night we scored 14 against Toronto. And our pitching has been rock solid. Koji is still the best closer in all of baseball, Lester and Lackey aren’t giving up many hits, much less runs. Rubby De La Rosa is the real deal, a bonafide major league pitcher. And nobody tries any harder than Jake Peavy. Recently, even Clay Bucholz, streaky and freaky, has been getting the job done nicely. I will also single out Andrew Miller for his excellence out of the bullpen. I call him “Stop Sign;” when he comes in, the other team grinds to a sudden halt.

    Brock Holt. He should win the Rookie of the Year in the A.L. Batting about .330 for the year, he is one of the best lead off hitters of 2014. He could conceivably win the American League batting crown. And what leather! So far this season, Brock has played every position except pitcher and catcher. And he plays them all extraordinarily. Blessed with speed and good reflexes, he is always in position to make a play if the ball is hit in his direction. Of the circus catches Brock has made, a few of them are all world. Brock Holt may be the best position player in baseball this season.

    So we’ll soon see if the Red Sox are going to make a run at defending their World Series title, and I know they are in a hole that will be tough to dig out of. But, you know me, I say why not?

    Other musings: Like everyone else, I don’t have a good answer for the Middle East. I certainly support Israel’s right to defend itself from attacks. They are surely justified, but the loss of civilian life in Palestine only fuels hatred that lasts a lifetime. That Hamas hides its offensive weaponry among the civilian population, makes for grim circumstances. Hamas, a terrorist organization, won legitimacy in Gaza by being elected, by the very people bearing the brunt of the Israeli incursion. I feel for the Palestinians and want them to have statehood and peace. Of course, Israel deserves lasting security within its borders, which must include the West Bank and Jerusalem. The Palestinians deserve a home, just not where Israel now flourishes. And Israel’s neighbors should turn their swords into plowshares and coexist peacefully, every religion respecting the other. I know the map of the Middle East will change as Shia, Sunni, Kurds, and Christians redraw old boundaries. Someday, kingdoms, dictators, and terrorist organizations will lose power and intelligent, reasoned, and compassionate leaders will find voice.

    Further up the Road: For consecutive nights, I have been startled to see the names of two acquaintances in the obituaries. Both died from health related issues, but both were happy and well, when last I saw them. Michael Libin, an old golfing buddy, died yesterday of heart disease. Always quick in commenting on the ironies of life, I never heard him say a word in anger. I think he led a happy life, had a million friends, and I grieve his passing. Last Saturday, my former State Senator died from a brain tumor. Funny, well dressed, and full of knowledge, I had not realized he graduated from Harvard until I read his obit. A former stand out hockey player, he served my town very, very well over three decades. If there was a go to guy, it was Bob Havern. He was very popular, handsome, smart as a whip, funny, knew where all the bodies were buried, so to speak, and could get things done. He was my attorney, off and on, over the years, always was a straight shooter and his opinion was nearly always right when it came to local politics. He once lost a driveway dispute of which I was a party, and refused to take his fee for not winning, despite having worked on the issue for more than a year. I can’t believe he is gone. He died four days ago, two days after his 65th birthday. So it has been a hard week locally and throughout the Big Blue Marble. I know the sun will come out tomorrow, but right now I wish I could smile.


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  • Wassup

    When you reach the age of 64, as I have; you tend to look at life in two directions. I look forward to the future with cautious optimism; and more and more, I choose to look back and reminesce. I’ve been blessed with four legacies: my two children, FolkTree, and my passion for photography (replacing my passion for golf, which I had to give up (arthritis)). I’m extremely proud of my Son, Andy, and Daughter, Sarah, both of whom, always were, and still are, the stars in my sky.

    Although I’m not too technical, I love photography and have a knack for observation, which is at least half the battle. And even though FolkTree Concerts is no more; we had a good run. Nowadays, I primarily listen to Americana music; that mix of folk, country, bluegrass, and the blues. The music I stream here at HarryShots is slightly more eclectic and I hope you’ll find some tunes that float your boat.

    As some of you know, I have been working for years on a book of unusual first names that I hope will be published, at least online, in the not too distant future. I have found over 30,000 “unusual” first names, and I keep finding new ones every day.

    With the weather warming, and the trees greening up, it’s time for me to get my camera out of hibernation. Remember, you can email me at harrylipson3@yahoo.com

    Don’t forget the sunscreen,
    Harry


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HarryShotsRadioIcon

“Calling Trains

“CALLING TRAINS”

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INTRODUCTION TO THE SONG:    I’d like to say thanks to a friend of mine.   This song, “Calling Trains” is on one of his many record albums, and it is his photo and album cover that you see down below.  He was the real Dos Equis guy.   Bruce  Phillips  (1935 – 2008) was his name, and he was in the running for the most interesting man in the world.   “Utah” was the name he answered to.  His nom de guerre was  U. Utah Phillips.

In this little adventure, Utah was my personal tour guide at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, on a day, just months before the Gardner Museum was robbed in what was, and remains, the biggest art theft in American history.  That is all I have to say on the subject of robbery until they up the reward, wink wink.  I’m kidding.

There are individuals and there are INDIVIDUALS.  Bruce Phillips was the latter.  Ask anyone who knew him, and plenty did.  He had merriment in his eyes and a benevolent aura about him.  His hair and beard were snow white.  He wore a flannel shirt and painters overalls.

Utah Phillips was a less well known American icon, a railroad man, a hobo, a gandydancer, a writer and performer, a Wobbly, a pain in the ass to conservatives and bosses, and a people person of the highest order.  Utah got paid to travel the world and sing songs, and tell his always hilarious stories.  He was far more of a story teller than a song singer.

On this particular day, at the Gardner Museum, Utah Phillips was piss full of vinegar and details about Rembrandt this and Rembrandt that.  He morphed into a museum tour guide, as versed as if he worked there.

Bruce was telling me exactly how many self portraits Rembrandt had painted as we stepped  into the beautiful home of the late Isabella Stewart Gardner, a 19th century Patron of the Arts, who would eventually own one of the great private art collections in the world.  It is now a museum in Boston’s Back Bay.

Utah pointed out a small painting on the wall to the right and blurted, “Ah, the ‘Storm on the Sea of Galilee.’   Harry did you know that Rembrandt painted himself into this very painting.  Look in the lifeboat, right there.  It’s  Ol’ van Rijn himself.”

About a half hour earlier, Utah and I had been at a nearby conference and the proceedings were sliding downhill into Pedantics 101. He got my attention, gave me a thumb sign, and motioned toward the door, with a jerk of his head.  I had no idea where we were going.  He obviously did and it was off to the Gardner Museum.

THE SONG ITSELF

As mentioned above, this is about a song that appeared on one of  his many records.  He didn’t sing the song.  We don’t know who did.   It is titled “Calling Trains” and it is all of 46 seconds long.  It is spoken word.

It is a chant by an unidentified gentleman, inside the Union Railroad Station in New Orleans, circa 1935 give or take five years, announcing the departure of the City of New Orleans passenger train bound, eventually,  for Chicago.

This is not an express train to say the least.  It is the Local, making stop after stop (forty in all) as it rolls north from New Orleans toward Chicago, through Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Illinois.  “Calling Trains” calls out each of the  forty scheduled stops the City of New Orleans was scheduled to make on its journey.  The recording is from the Library of Congress.

When I listened, at first, I couldn’t decipher much of what was being said.  But I stayed with it,  trying to understand the whole “call from start to finish.    After studying  old railroad maps and Mississippi atlases, I have a written complete precise translation  of the  “call.” Absolutely correct.  Guaranteed or your money back.

As the gentleman is calling out for passengers to board the train on track four, you can probably pick up some of what he say on first listen.  After you hear it a few times take a look at the transliteration below and then listen again as you read along.  I think it is pretty cool.  And it is historic as well.

So enjoy the listen.  However, I still need some help with the transcription.  If you can figure out the last three words spoken, you will get credit for doing so in this post.  It sounds to me like SAL A MATOO.    Obviously, that is not English.  He may be saying “That’s all of my tune”  It has me stumped.  So if you have any idea, please let me know

 

HERE ARE THE LYRICS, which are absolutely spot on except for the last line.

“CALLING TRAINS” 

transcription by Harry Lipson III

“ALL UP FOR ILLINOIS CENTRAL, LULING, PONCHATOULA, HAMMOND, AMITE, INDEPENDENCE, FLUKER, KENWOOD,

OSYKA, MAGNOLIA and MCCOMB, BROOKHAVEN, WESSON, HAZELHURST, CRYSTAL SPRINGS. TERRY, BYRAM, to JACKSON, to

TOUGALOO, RIDGELAND, LUX, and MADISON, CANTON, VAUGHN, PICKENS, GOODMAN, DURANT, WINONA,

GRENADA, SARDIS, MEMPHIS, DYERSBURG, FULTON, to CAIRO, CARBONDALE, Centralia, Effingham, Mattoon, Champaign,

Kankakee, and Chicago.  Train on Track Four.  Sal a matoo.”

**********************************************************************************************************************************

A LITTLE BACKGROUND INFO ABOUT THE CITY OF NEW ORLEANS AND THE ROUTE IT TRACED:

 I found it a nice coincidence  that one of the forty en-route stops for the  The City of New Orleans was in  Goodman, MS,  given that Steve Goodman wrote the Grammy award winning song about this famous  train.

One of the  mysteries, to me, is why the gentlemen  calls out “Lux”, Mississippi as one of the train stops.  The  train rolls along the Illinois Central Railroad tracks and Lux was located northwest of Hattiesburg and southeast of Jackson.   It was many miles away from the railroad line, no where near it in fact.   I have looked at  original Mississippi railroad maps and old state maps and you won’t find Lux anywhere near the tracks.  To add to this mystery, Lux disappeared and is no longer found  on maps after a certain date prior to 1950. .    Could the gentlemen have been from Lux and wanted to give a shout out to his hometown?   We will never know how Lux makes the list of train stops, for sure the City of New Orleans never once stopped in Lux.

Deciphering the audio was initially challenging.  I misunderstood the gentleman at numerous points, but eventually it became clearer to me.  Mapping and repeated listening ultimately solved the puzzle of the lyrics.

“Luling” was initially difficult for me to ascertain what he was saying.  I found Luling on an old map right on the train line.

“Amite” was another that took additional time to understand and transcribe.

“Terry” and “Byram” were initially tough to determine.  I thought he was saying
“Cairo bound for Jackson”.  If you listen to it, you might hear him say that too.

I also had trouble understanding an earlier portion that I thought was “Westhaven”.   But there is no Westhaven MS.  It was “Wesson”, “Hazelhurst”.

And as mentioned previously I am unable to understand the last three words that are spoken which sound like  “Sal A Matoo.”    ANY THOUGHTS ?

Vaughn, MS, one of the forty stops along the line in “Calling Trains,” is oft forgotten as the place where famous railroading “disaster” occurred in 1900.
It was near Vaughn that Casey Jones, veteran Illinois Central conductor, died, the only fatality in that accident, (Casey was at fault for rear ending a freight train) forever immortalized in song.    Listen and enjoy and try to catch the words (you can follow along with my transcription above).    

Harry Lipson III @ HarryShots.com







“Calling Trains” by unknown train announcer

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A Library of Congress recording, circa 1935, by an unknown gentleman, recorded at Union Railroad Station in New Orleans.  He gives the “all aboard” for the City of New Orleans local train departing shortly, bound eventually for Chicago.  A rare audio and a great audio glimpse into American history.  See my blog CALLING TRAINS for the whole story.  I invite you to see my blog on this historic audio track.  Check out my Ramble in this blog, scroll down to Calling Trains.  This is cool as hell and rare. Check it out.   HL


 


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