We all meet. Boy, what fantastic excitement! We’ve each contributed two bits to buy some gas because that’s the ammunition for scragging. Flick is driving, I’m sitting in the passenger seat, Schwartz is directly behind me, Bruner is off to one side, and between them is Bolis, and out we go in the darkness. We go roaring down the street. The guy who roars up and down the street with the ’54 Chevy with the high-risers—that’s not scragging. No, this is something else, man! This is on the prowl!
We ride up and down the half-dark streets, and you can see the twilight drifting down over the steel mills and once in a while you can smell just the edge of spring flowers beginning to be spring flowers but now they’re still just crawling through the mud. When this car gets anywhere from twenty-six miles-per-hour to fifty miles-per-hour, it vibrates at such a frequency that it blots out all human speech inside. We’re passing around two cans of Pepsi Cola, we have a bag of White Castle hamburgers, we’re stoking up, man, we are hungry, we are on the prowl!
And we roll down along the street, because, you see, what is happening with man’s eternal, romantic nature—on the quest, on the prowl, searching—always searching for that meaningful relationship! Yes, it is springtime, and that great, vast, flood of romanticism is pounding from our veins to our arteries. It is scragging time!
I’m going to describe to you this strictly male sport. We’re rolling along that dark street and then we see the flash! Somebody on the sidewalk. Two or three girls walking along, going somewhere. Flick slows up unperceptively and Schwartz leans over, he’s getting his head in the window, ready for the opening blast. Then Flick on the horn, WAKWAKWAKWAK! We’re all leaning, like hunters watching a flight of geese come in over the reeds. These three girls walking along, pretending they don’t hear this car coming up behind them. They’re walking along under the trees, it’s springtime, and then Schwartz lets out the first—the opening—blast of spring! It’s like the ump looking out over Shea Stadium hollering, Play Ball! Schwartz leans forward and hollers, “Hey, baby, woweee! Holy smokes! Wow! Hey, baby!” Scragging season has begun.
The last three of my transcribed Shep Kid Stories done in a rough biographical chronology of his fictional kid-life, describe some of Shepherd’s movement from adolescence (“kid-dom”) toward the adult world of wider experiences and understanding. Some people may have seen parts of the last two stories. In the first of the three, scragging and a marriage come together in several parts.
It’s the spring season—scragging season has begun. You don’t know what “scragging” means? You know it’s springtime, even if it’s cold—you know it’s spring! And you know that old expression, “In the springtime, a young man’s fancy—.“ That is not propaganda, that is true. Absolute truth. And every spring at this time, the beat would go around. I remember one specific afternoon, I’m waiting for the school bus, standing on the corner with Schwartz and Flick, and up comes Bolis.
Bolis walks up and says, “Hey, you guys.”
Flick says, “Yeah.”
And Bolis says, “How about goin’ scragging tonight.”
And Flick says, “Yeah.”
It’s like the first ballgame of the season. The very first moment of spring, somebody comes up and says, “Hey, how about let’s go out and toss the ball around a little, heh? Let’s get a little game goin’, heh?” You get out there, you’re kind of stiff, the first game of the season. You run around, it’s kind of cold, you’re running in the mud and all that. It’s the first game, see! And Flick says, “Yeah.” We all know that scragging time has come again.
For those of you who don’t know what scragging is, I will have to tell you in exact and minute detail what scragging is, because it’s going on right this very minute! I can guarantee you that there are six-thousand guys riding around out in the darkness of Jersey or Staten Island or Connecticut, and they’re scraggin’.
Scragging consists of this. You come home from school, or later on, from work. You have your supper—meatloaf, maybe kohlrabi, you have your ketchup—some of the great moments of truth in the culinary world—and then you go drifting out, giving your kid brother the slip. Because, man, that’s one thing you will not do with your kid brother—you do not go scragging. You go by yourself, with Schwartz and Flick and Brunner and Bolis. That’s it. We go drifting out. We meet.
The guy who has the car is Flick. Flick got this car when he was around fifteen. And he has been rebuilding it and rebuilding it, and each one of us had taken turns grinding the valves, fixing the valve springs, we know every last inch of this car. Flick’s car is always the focal point of scragging because scragging is a mobile sport. Scragging is never done from a duck blind.
MINOR DISPARATE PICASSOS
Admiring my two original but minor Picassos above my Picasso-exclusive bookcase, I’ve just noted very different, unexpected aspects that makes them each, in their different ways, a bit artsy.
The Artist Portraying an Artist Admiring His Art
Way back when I was in my early twenties, and art could be had for a fraction of current prices, I went to a major chronological exhibit of Picassos shown in nine separate New York galleries, and I was converted into a Picasso-phile. Could I afford a minor work? I visited the Picasso Arts gallery on Madison and 80th Street and examined a number of Picasso’s hand-signed etchings from the “Suite Vollard,” a series of a hundred images he’d done in the mid-1930s. From a sub-grouping of forty titled “The Artist’s Studio,” I chose one I liked and could afford.
It shows a mature artist, his age and vigor expressed with just the simplest of lines, observing his recently made sculpted head. There are radiating lines surrounding him and his art, as if the art itself is aglow–an artwork referencing the artist admiring his art. Self-referential. Might I think of it as a kind of meta-art—and thus, a bit artsy?
An Artsy Response to a Commercial Request
I bought Picasso Toreros, a book with numerous reproductions of sketchy drawings of the bullring and bullfighters. It also includes original lithographs, meaning that these four are not mechanically printed reproductions, but were made individually from the original drawings on stone by Picasso.
All four were just meant to be black line drawings, but, as the story goes, the publisher made the sales-based request that Picasso add some color to one. Maybe a bit annoyed at such a non-art-based suggestion, Picasso chose a drawing depicting the bullring’s doors just open to the matador and his retinue, including picador on his horse–in the dim area, facing the sun-filled ring as they are about to parade out across the arena to begin the festivities. As a kind of witty response, he’d given the publisher a time-and-money printing expenditure, adding not just a couple, but roughly eleven more, colors. (This color litho I had the gallery cut from the book and frame for me.)
Regarding some color locations: browns for left doorway and horse’s saddle; yellow for arena’s sand; a curved, horizontal band of red for arena’s painted wooden fence; blue for the sky above the distant crowd in the stands.
The intense color blotches aren’t arbitrary. For me they represent the glaring effect on those enclosed in a kind of primal darkness, awaiting birth out of the bullring’s crowded passageway, as the doors of the waiting area are flung open to sunlight’s resplendence, bedazzling the eyes. It reminds me of Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem, “Pied Beauty,” writing, in his profound vision: “Glory be to God for dappled things—for skies of couple-color as a brinded cow,” then emphasizing his poem’s ravishing richness with the phrase “adazzle, dim.”
In this way, Hopkins seems to be playing with words—seriously and reverently—using the luxury of sound and meaning, as Picasso is playing with the luxury of color effect—his own, peculiar, adazzle.
Artist and poet each playing with his medium
in a seriously artsy fashion.
This is the final of nine sets of CDs containing Jean Shepherd recordings for syndication published by Radio Again, some sets with four programs, some with eight. I wrote the commentaries for all of these, and I believe this is the final one published. About a dozen more of the estimated 250 shows for syndication have been made for sale individually by Amazon.com at a much higher per-unit price and without special covers and commentary booklet.
The original nine sets don’t seem to be available through Radio Again, but can usually be found on Amazon.com and ebay.com. at a variety of prices.
Click on images to enlarge for reading.
I look at my soda bottle. I can’t believe it! The bottom third of the bottle, floating in this gloppy orange fluid, is filled with a drifting cloud of dead flies! There must have been five-hundred dead flies in that damn bottle! I must have drunk three-quarters of a bottle of what looks like dead fly soup!
With the heat, the flies, the nervousness of the date, all of it, it hit me. Without any warning it just came out of me. It just went uuuuuuuuugh! Just like that. All over the hood of the car. It ran down the inside of the door, under the seat. And she was sitting there, “Auggggh!” She looked at me with the kind of loathing people had when they see a driven-over skunk on the street.
I couldn’t stop. I turned around and I made a run for the john. I didn’t make it. All over the driveway. The kid said, “Will you cut that out? Can’t you wait till you get in the john?”
I don’t have to tell you what kind of an afternoon we had. We proceeded to the Brookfield Zoo after I cleaned the car up and washed off the hood. Ever since that time I’ve thought that’s why people prefer stuff in cans—so you can’t see. Whatever made me raise up that glass bottle—and hold it to the sun—and see that drifting cloud of flies!
Curiously, I never told her what was in that bottle. What could I say? You can’t tell her that—it just isn’t the right thing to say—good lord! Dead flies in the orange!
And all the way to Brookfield Zoo and back, she kept saying, “Are you alright? Are you alright?” That was the second-to-last date I had with her. I don’t think I impressed her. Not really, truly.
That’s the end of Flies–next is
Scragging and Bolis’ Wedding
So I’m a fathead! The previous part of this fly story I posted–on 4/8–should have come after this part. I’ve been rather preoccupied–Monday, 4/9, I was in the hospital having a pacemaker installed. I’m home and doing well. I hope not to screw up again. Gene B.
So Friday morning arrived. I was getting more and more excited, trying to figure where we’re going to go. Then I got an idea. There was a big zoo outside of Chicago that was the first zoo in the country that had a panda. I can even remember its name because everybody in the country went out there looking at that panda. It was a great, big, fantastic thing to go and see the panda. This was a big outdoor zoo where animals were not kept in cages but were kept behind moats and things. And more than that, it was a ride far out in the country. It was not in the city. So this was a fantastic date.
I called Dorothy up and I said, “Dorothy, are you all set for Saturday?”
“Yes, yes, of course.” Very quietly, very remote girl. “Yes.”
“I’ve got an idea where we can go. Would you like to go see the panda? Out at the Brookfield Zoo?”
“Yes, that sounds like fun.”
“Yeah, yeah, it would be great!”
“Yes.” You know the kind of girl who never tells you whether it’s really yes.
So at that point I was grasping at straws, really trying to make it sound like it was going to be a fantastic day and at the same time thinking that she thought so too.
The next day the car is shiny, I’ve got my new sports shirt on, my new slacks. I’m really doing it all. So I drive over to her house. She comes down the steps. Oh! Already I am starting to sweat. Just being with this girl. She gets in and we start driving out into the country. It’s warm, it’s a beautiful day. We drive and drive, and we’re going through towns, and I’m trying to make conversation and I notice—I glance down at the gas gauge. This is what my Achilles heel was. We are now down to about a quarter of a tank. And this Pontiac is known as a gas-guzzler, par excellence. This baby you could hear drinking gas in the garage. At night when the car was turned off you could hear it slopping at the chute in there. So I figure I’d better stop for gas. It’s a steamy hot day. I drive into this gas station. I’ve got a couple of bucks. I figure I’m gonna buy a little gas. I get out of the car. It’s really embarrassing to say out of the window, “Gimme seventy-five cents worth.” So I get out of the car and try to get to the guy behind the car before he opens the gas tank. He says, “Fill it up?”
I say, “Oh, no, no. Give me six bits worth.”
More flies to come.
At that point somebody else drives into the station and he says, “Wait, I’ll be right with you.” He goes over to a real customer.
It’s getting hotter than hell. The heat is banging down. I figure I’m going to be a real big-timer. So I walk over to this large drink cooler and open it up. There’s ice in there with about five-hundred different types of pop. So I call out to Dorothy, “Hey, Dorothy, do you want something to drink?”
She says, “No.”
Well, I’m committed, so I reach in and grab a bottle of this stuff. I pick some orange. I open it up and I start drinking. Oh, god, it tastes cold and great! I take another big slug of it. Oh, wow!
I go casually over and lean on the passenger door window of the car. I say, “This is really a great day we’re having, you know? It’s going to be so fantastic.” I’m really feeling my oats. I say, “You know, baby, I’ve been looking at you for a long time, and boy oh boy!”
And she looks at me.
Kid story fly finale to come.
PAPER BIRDS, LA GUARDIA’S HAT, & ROACHES
At the Museum of Natural History, besides the years’-long intensity of designing and supervising installation of such permanent exhibit halls as Reptiles & Amphibians, Margret Mead Hall of Pacific Peoples, and Peoples of South America, I designed scores of large and small temporary exhibits. The large temporaries could run thousands of square feet, and the small movable ones the size of a single exhibit case placed in the museum’s main entrance hall.
Commenting on the differences between permanent and temporary, for Curator, the museum professional journal, I wrote:
I can be more audacious in these exhibits. They exist for a few short days to catch a passing current of public attention and then disappear. Why not experiment? Take a chance. Do something different. Surprise, intrigue, amuse; it’s a good way to teach. And it’s a good way for me to learn new things in solving each design problem I set myself. The knowledge acquired in the experiments pays off in very definite but quieter ways in the big exhibits. The bigger projects must be creative too, but in them we must also wear our Sunday clothes and keep our fancy a bit more under control.
One of the medium-size temporary exhibit spaces is a hallway seventy-five feet long by fourteen feet wide, with a dogleg to the right. I worked with the curator who supervised summer research about terns on the museum’s small Great Gull Island, out near the end of New York’s Long Island. Besides the varied stuffed birds and equipment to exhibit, I commented that we needed more three-dimensional material. Our copy editor suggested that entomologist Alice Gray, who was an origami expert, could ask her group of origami enthusiasts to fold a batch of paper terns for us. I specified sea-blue paint for the lower part of the walls and sky-blue for the upper, and we installed hundreds of paper birds (their cast shadows flickering in flight from slight air currents), swarming above.
For a continuing series of Exhibits of the Month, I had two small reusable cases available, one of which was rectangular with a main viewing area about seven feet wide, three feet deep, and six feet high. One month I worked with Amazon Indian ethnologist, Dr. Robert Carneiro who, for his “Return to the Kuikuro” exhibit, as a major feature I displayed his hammock in which, one night while asleep, he got bloodied in an attack by vampire bats.
Another time, my good friend, Peggy Cooper, the museum’s exhibit copy editor, proposed we do an exhibit of well-known peoples’ hats as representative of some aspect of their notoriety. I remember little of the details except that lenders to the exhibit specified strict rules on handling the hats. Except for the archives for New York’s Mayor La Guardia (famous for his fedora and for, in 1945 during a newspaper strike, reading the Sunday funnies on the radio to satisfy us kids).
When I went to pick up his hat, I was given it in a brown paper bag–which was crumpled and soiled. I think the Mayor, affectionately known as “The Little Flower,” would have been amused.
Mayor La Guardia
with his Son and his Hat.
Another month, working with scientific assistant Alice Gray of origami fame, I again used the larger, rectangular case. (Because of her scientific specialty in insects, with which she toured New York City’s grammar schools, she’d become known as “The Bug Lady.”) She had an impressive collection of toys in the form of bugs, and it amused her that toy manufacturers, uncaring of scientific correctness, often produced faulty products—for example making them with the wrong number of legs—with a light tone of chastisement, it’s those inaccurate toys that we exhibited.
I frequently used a small, vertical, cylindrical-shape case with a front glass door with two side glasses and, below, a small, angled, glass-covered, rear-illuminated area meant for a back-lighted introductory text panel.
From month to month, subject matter varied greatly. For an exhibit mourning human guilt in the extinction of passenger pigeons, I used the small angled text area as a sateen-lined casket for two old study skins, their bodies stretched out, eyes nothing but small cotton tufts. Another time, for the subject of whales and perfume, I included a piece of ambergris, the gastric juice of whales used to make perfume, positioned in the small angled area so that visitors could get a sniff of the stuff.
Alice Gray, Scientific Assistant and Bug Lady
My favorite memory of Alice Gray, the Bug Lady, is that, upon visiting her in her enormous office/ storeroom/live-specimen-room, one first became aware of numerous terrariums—homes to a large variety of common and enormous, live cockroaches. Of course, in the circular exhibit case, positioned prominently in the main entrance hall, we exhibited some of her live ” pets”–shown in one of her closed terrariums, emphasizing their adaptability and sturdiness. She titled the display:
ROACHES ARE HERE TO STAY
Before the opening to the public in the main entrance hall, as she was being interviewed by the press and TV about roaches, she noted a familiar smell. She scurried over to the case to find that a couple of baby roaches had escaped and a TV guy, who, to liven up the reportage, just happened to bring an aerosol can with him, had sprayed her little darlings with a lethal dose. She, of course, was outraged.
One should always have respect for other people’s passions.
Dating and Flies
So I was about sixteen. It was June. Warm. Beautiful. Fantastic day! Ah! And for about a month I had had this almost uncontrollable urge to walk back and forth in front of this girl’s house. To catch glimpses of this particular girl. She was always just out of reach. Always seen in the middle distance somewhere.
And she was magnificent! First of all, a sensational figure. The kind that makes Sophia Loren look like a Brownie. You know that kind? She really—and at sixteen, ah…you know. Girls really, mature much earlier than males—let us put it this way, she was the real thing, the true article. Magnificent.
The only way I figured I could get close to this girl was to get to know her brother. I sort of knew her brother, just a guy down the other end of the block. He was a year older than I was. So I began to hang around this guy at all opportunities. Down at the bowling alley, I’d see him at the Shell station, and I’d start to cling to this guy, see.
Next thing you know, I’m down in his basement with him. Now, this is what I wanted. I wanted to get into this house where this girl was, ‘cause I figured the closer I got to her, the better chance I had of finally achieving my goal, which was, incidentally, very, very—amorphous. Just to be there. Just to talk to her.
So I’m hanging around down in the basement at this guy’s house, slowly trying to work my way to the upper side of the house where she is. A couple of days go by of this campaign and I finally get to know her. While me and this guy, Johnny Anderson, are sitting in the kitchen having a sandwich, she comes in and she says she wants to have a sandwich. The next thing you know, I’m having a sandwich with this fantastic girl. Whose name, by the way, is Dorothy. Dorothy Anderson. Swedish, remote, pristine, icy, magnificent, carved from alabaster, a true Swedish beauty. You know the kind? Kind of an Ingrid Bergman-type. Ah—wow!
Well, a couple of days go by and I’m hanging around their house every day. We’re talking. And I finally get to asking her for a date. I say, “How about going on a date?”
She says, “That would be nice. Where would we go?”
“I don’t know. I’ll figure out something, you know. I’ll get the old man’s car and…and we’ll go on a date. How about next weekend?”
Well, I go back home after that fantastic moment of success. I have a date. The old man is home. I bring up the subject of getting the car, doing something—can I cut the lawn? “
He says, “You want the car for the weekend? Is that what you want?”
I say, Yeah.”
“Then why didn’t ya ask?”
I was trying to sneakily get around to it. The simple solution rarely occurs to you.
He says, “Yeah, you can have it. When do you want it? Saturday or Sunday?”
That hadn’t occurred to me. “How about Saturday? That’s a good day.”
He says, “Fine. But I don’t like you driving around at two o’clock in the morning out there in that car.”
“Oh, yeah, yeah. We’re going on a picnic or something.”
So I get that can of Simonize and by Tuesday, for the following Saturday, I already have that baby with six coats of Simonize. I’ve got that thing shining.
I have little sense of body rhythm/coordination. Which is why I’m awkward at dancing and can’t even keep my clapping in sync with a concert audience’s applause. (However, in my exhibit work at the Museum, I often had to mentally “juggle” several design projects at a time, and found that exhilarating. I also find that in my writing, early drafts containing ideas separately conceived over time require, on the page or computer screen, much manipulation to juggle into felicitous arrangements.) Those may be causes for why I’m fascinated by physical juggling—and decided one day decades ago that, despite my limited physical abilities, I would try to learn how to keep three objects in the air at the same time by reading a book.
The Juggling Book author, Carlo, comments: “…juggling is a meeting ground for various arts and skills: theater, dance, mime, physical culture and sports….a beautiful synthesis of form and motion, economy of energy, minimum movement, solidity, calmness, balance, equilibrium, and the control and direction of body forces.” He writes: “This level of awareness can bring you into contact with the ‘music of the spheres,’ or more accurately for juggling, the ‘rhythm of the spheres.”
Quickly finding that when I dropped balls they went bouncing away, I switched to small beanbags meant for juggling–they don’t roll, but land in place with a thud. I practiced over a couch’s seat cushions so I wouldn’t even have to bend over to re-grasp errant objects. Over a period of a couple of months, working at it in several fifteen-minute periods per day, totaling what I estimate as about seventeen hours, I learned to do the basic three-ball cascade juggle. I was very proud.
THE FLYING PENGUINI BROTHERS
I’m a fancier of penguins—poor flightless birds (though they “fly” through the water). I bought three penguin-shaped beanbags and gave them names. I’m sure they’ve been happy that, in my juggling, I’ve also given them some notion of flight in the air. For my own amusement, I sewed onto the poor blind things, eyes of thread with yellow, blue, and red, one color for each of the three.
One sad part of the story is that somehow, maybe in our moving from one house to another, Rosso Penguini got lost. I picture him wandering through a traveling carnival encampment in hopes that some kind roustabout will find him and reunite him with his siblings so that, together again, they may in concert, fly.
Another sad part is that, as I haven’t kept up the activity, I’ve nearly lost the ability to juggle three objects, and the additional skill I also acquired of doing the even more difficult—juggling two objects in one hand. (Two objects in one hand being more demanding than three objects in two hands. Author Carlo puts it: “Therefore, in one sense, juggling two balls is harder than three.”) I then easily learned to transition without pause, switching back and forth between the two and three-ball cascades.
Even another negative aspect is that I’d acquired five of the basic, cubical, juggle-able beanbags, in the outrageous hope that I’d someday learn to keep all five in the air. That dream, alas, will never fly.
In the meantime, I encountered and saw on TV, on YouTube, and in live performance (at New York’s Joyce Theater, which described him as “America’s greatest conceptual juggler”), the elegant, phenomenal, one-of a-kind creative artist/juggler, Michael Moschen. (Yes, that’s his real family name!) Watching other master jugglers, we’re amazed what humans can do. I’m amazed with Moschen’s performances as elegant works of art in motion. Among other juggling-like feats, is his work with crystal globes, and, while standing at a large triangular structure, the speed/agility at which he manipulates balls against the two upper sections, is beyond all normal human preconceptions!
The New Yorker article about him says that jugglers embody “the human effort to cope gracefully with more demands, from more directions, than one person can reasonably be expected to manage.” Their writer comments: “Nobody is quite sure how to define what Moschen does,” and says that, “He has been called a movement artist, a sculptor in motion, a dancer-physicist, a performance artist….”
A Date With Flies
I am going to warn you, I have saved this story till late. And I did this purposely. I hope we’ve separated the sheep from the goats. This is one of the truly traumatic experiences of my life, and this is not “remembrance.” When a guy is lying on a couch and the psychiatrist finally unearths this juicy nugget—the guy yells “Yeah! Yeah, it’s true! Uh, uh,” is this reminiscence? Is he being nostalgic? No.
We’re just discussing the true-life-existence that we all go through. Each one of us in our time—most of us cleverly erase these things as we go. Some you never quite erase, but you rarely bring to mind. The really bad things that happened, the bad, unexpected things that have really happened, that are deeply buried down in our own private storehouse of useless garbage, stuff that our lives would have been much better off without.
It happened in a June. I’ve long since had this theory that the truly bad stuff—the stuff that really impresses you for being bad, are things that occur when all the indications were pointing in the opposite direction. In other words, when things looked like it was going to be fantastic—and a total fiasco occurred.
Well, it was June. I was about sixteen. When you’re about sixteen, particularly when you’re sixteen and up, as a male, you get an almost pathological interest in the opposite sex. This is not hearsay evidence. I speak from experience. The male at sixteen is a walking cake of human yeast. Fantastic, hot currents flow through the blood like you wouldn’t believe. I don’t know if this is true of girls. I can only speak from the male standpoint. I am not being a male chauvinist, I’m merely being a male realist. And he retains it to a lesser or greater degree throughout his life. The constant interest in the other sex. Don’t make it too simple. It’s not necessarily as an object of sex, either, it’s a whole, complex thing, the whole mystique of the girl. Girls—it’s a different ballgame, you know? And you’re drawn to it, You’re fascinated about it. You form theories about it. And it’s occasionally even discussed back of the garage.
Rumors float among the males. Of one type or another. And no matter how specific the information or knowledge gained through lectures, through film, it still has nothing to do with the real thing! You can study warfare all you want, but the first time you get shot at, that’s another ballgame. Whole new kettle of fish.
One of these mornings
You’re going to rise up singing.
Then you’ll spread your wings
And you’ll fly to the sky.
As I’m enthralled by Billy Stewart’s over-the-top scatting of Gershwin’s “Summertime,” I decided to see how a few others have sung it in a jazzy way. Apparently the song is a major item for singers to interpret. I’ve watched/listened to a number of other renditions on YouTube. There are many, including elegantly traditional vocals by opera singers, who performed without adding special interpretations, but those below represent ways some artists have altered the standard words and lyrics in ways that especially caught my ear. The jazz musicians all did wonderful interpretations. Janis powerfully expressed her usual emotional intensity.
As much as I’ve enjoyed jazzy takes on songs by all of the above, and interpretations by Frank Sinatra and others, it’s never occurred to me to make side-by-side comparisons. I enjoy them all, but none approached the quirky stratosphere of Billy Stewart. It’s Stewart’s “Summertime” and Ferry’s “Hard Rain” that got me to explore other musical variations on a theme.
Ella gets shown twice—singing with Lois’ singing and playing trumpet, and her solo singing. Janis Joplin gets shown twice because of the dark, fuzzy images—and because her varied/expressive facial expressions deserve it.