Eric on The Road

Journeys into the offbeat, off the beaten path, overlooked and forgotten - by Eric Model

Friday, September 29, 2006

Fats Waller's Playful Jazz Piano Legacy (

From National Public Radio &

Fats Waller was often dubbed the "clown prince" of jazz, delighting crowds with playful stage antics. But as a new collection of his recordings shows, there is plenty of gifted music behind the merriment.
Web Extra: Hear Fats' Music

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Passing: Byron Nelson, Dominant Golfer in 1930's-40's

IRVING, Texas (AP) -- Byron Nelson, who had the greatest year in the history of professional golf when he won 18 tournaments in 1945, including a record 11 in a row, died Tuesday. He was 94.

The Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office said he died of natural causes.

Known as Lord Byron for his elegant swing and gentle manner, Nelson won 31 of 54 tournaments in 1944-45. Then, at age 34, he retired after the 1946 season to spend more time on his Texas ranch.

Nelson's 52 PGA Tour victories -- a mark tied by Tiger Woods this year -- was fifth on the career list behind Sam Snead, Jack Nicklaus, Hogan and Arnold Palmer. He was elected to the PGA Hall of Fame in 1953 and to the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974.

Ship That Sank the Andrea Doria returns to New York Renamed (NYT)

From The New York Times:

It happened 50 years ago. The image is an unforgetable one for those who lived through it. The badly-damaged SS Stockholm as it sailed into New York Harbor in 1956 after colliding with and sinking the Italian liner Andrea Doria on July 25 of that year. 51 died, hundreds had to be plucked out of the water, and the Stockholm became known as the "Ship of Death".

Fast forward to 2006. Here is the same ship but with a new name - now called the Athena, docked at Pier 90 along the Hudson River.

To read about the reaction to the re-arrival of the ship and its attempt at a makeover, see:; By ALAN FEUER
Published: September 23, 2006

Remembering an Event Long Past for the First Time (NYT)

From the New York Times:

Many times we are told to never forget. Often an event recalled was an infamous one at the time of its occurance - the Holacaust, Pearl Harbor, the Civil War, the 9-11-01 attacks.

Then there are the acts we confront later and try to recall when those before us just wanted to forget or turn the other way.

100 years after the fact, a group recently gathered in Atlanta to commemorate the 1906 race riot there.

Racial strife back then shut down Atlanta for four days and ended with the bodies of black men hanging from trees and streetlights.

But until recently most, including many educated locals, had heard nothing about it.

Reports the New York Times, "The riot, so contrary to Atlanta's conception of itself as the progressive, racially harmonious capital of the New South, had been erased from the city's consciousness, left out of timelines and textbooks".

In the months leading up to the 100th anniversary theer has been a concerteed effort to correct teh city's amensia with walking tours, public art, memorial services, numerous articles anbd new books.

For more see: The New York Times, Sunday, September 24, 2006, by Shaila Dewan, "National Report", page 22;

More Than a Game: Superdome Reopens

Yes - there have been more than a few sports entries recently at this blog. But somehow they all seemed appropriate. And, none more than this one.

The re-opening of the Superdome in New Orleans must be noted. There was something at once haunting and liberating about the occasion.

We are burdened by the memories of the scenes of devastation, desparation and death that occurred there last year. They will not be nor should they be ever forgotten. They are harsh reminders of the many ways we as a society (those "in control" in Washington, etc.) came up and tend to come up short because we choose not to look until we have no choice but to look.

The return of the Saints and of the NFL to New Orleans is also worth contemplation. It is heartening to see citizens of the Crescent City celebrate with unabashed and spontaneous joy. Yes, there was Mardis Gras and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, but when the Saints scored that early touchdown - well that was authentic emotion - as if someone finally said to the locals "let it all go" - after a year of grief and stress we're all going to bond together and have some fun.

It must also be noted that the 13 month turnaround of the Superdome should also serve as a lesson to us all of just we are capable of doing - if only we choose to commit our minds & dollars to it.

There is so much more that needs to be done along the Gulf Coast - especially in New Orleans. In so many ways so many were treated unfairly. So, at least for one night it felt so heart-warming to watch and rootfor the New Orleans Saints fans as they rooted for their team and their city.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Canadiens to Retire Numbers of Dryden, Savard

From the Canadian Press &

Wed, 20 Sep 2006

Two of the greatest Montreal Canadiens will have their jerseys retired by the NHL club this season.

On Wednesday, the Canadiens announced that it would raise the sweaters of Serge Savard and Ken Dryden during separate ceremonies at Montreal's Bell Centre.

Savard's No. 18 will be retired prior to the Canadiens' home game on Nov. 18 against the Atlanta Thrashers. Dryden's No. 29 will be raised to the rafters on Jan. 29 before a game against the Ottawa Senators.

Dryden and Savard will be the 11th and 12th players to have their numbers retired by the Canadiens.

The others are: Jacques Plante (1); Doug Harvey (2); Jean Beliveau (4); Bernie (Boom Boom) Geoffrion (5); Howie Morenz (7); Maurice (Rocket) Richard (9); Guy Lafleur (10); Yvon Cournoyer and Dickie Moore (12); and Henri (Pocket Rocket) Richard (16).

The Canadiens anounced last season they would retire numbers annually until the team's 100th anniversary in 2009. Last season, Geoffrion, Moore and Cournoyer had their numbers retired.

Others expected to go in coming years include Robinson's No. 19 and the No. 33 of Patrick Roy.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Passing: Floyd Curry: Solid Part of Canadiens '50's Cup Dynasty

Put this one in the category of overlooked.

An important cog in the Montreal Canadiens 1950's dynasty, Floyd Curry, died Saturday in Montreal at the age of 81. A defensive forward he was a reliable force, especially in the corners. He was also a loyal Canadien, having worked for the club in various capacities for some 4 decades.

Granted he was not a Richard, Beliveau or Plante but hardly a word is to be found about his passing. One important exception is Red Fisher of the Montreal Gazette. Get a look at his beautiful eulogy for Busher Curry in the Montreal Gazette. Especially touching was Fisher relating a visit he and Curry made to Toe Blake at a nursing home when Blake, the great Canadien playrer and coach, was sffering from Alzehiemer's in 1991.

Both Cuury and Fisher deserve our recognition and admiration.

Heard on the Radio: About Rocky Mountain Oysters (Bull Testicles)

As heard on the radio:

It was another wild weekend when the boys at Left Jab Radio (XM Public Radio) spoke to Matt Powers at the 24th annual Testicle Festival in Clinton, Montana.

It all started back in 1982 when Rod Lincoln at the Rock Creek Lodge wanted to find something to keep the lodge busy after Labor Day. For him the Testicle Festival became the area's signature event.

Back then some 300 turned out to try the regional delicacy. Over time it has evolved into an R-rated party weekend (not a family-friendly event). Among the highlights are "Bullshit Bingo" where people buy a square and a grid for $5. Each time the bull does his thing, somebody wins $100. Then there is the "Biker Ball-Biting Contest". In this event the Rocky Mountain Oyster is put on a clip attached to a line hanging over the street. Girls on the backs of motorcycles try to bite the ball without using their hands. You get the idea.

About the Rocky Mountain Oysters themeslevs, in recent years of 50,000 pounds of USDA approved oysters have been served up. They are prepared in a wet-and-dry sauce with special herbs and spices. They have been likened to chicken and sweet pork.

For more go to the website of or

Friday, September 15, 2006

Movement in Europe to Slow Down the Pace & Preserve Traditions (PRI)

From PRI's The World: Cittaslow Report

The World's Gerry Hadden reports on a movement in Europe that seeks to turn back the clock on modern living. The movement is called Cittaslow, from the Italian for Slow Cities. Its goal is to help small cities preserve their traditions and maintain a simpler way of life.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Canada's Deep Musical Roots celebrated in Nova Scotia

Canada's musical roots stretch deep and wide, twining people together in a shared experience of culture and heritage. The Canadian Deep Roots Music Festival celebrates Nova Scotia's rich and diverse musical traditions - blending the music of our founding cultures with modern roots music from across North America and around the world.

Featuring the music of the cultures that have settled this region - Mi'kmaq, Acadian, African Nova Scotian, and the British Isles,the three-day festival kicks off Friday afternoon with the Artists at Acadia lecture series.

Mainstage Evening Concerts take place Friday and Saturday in Acadia University's historic Convocation Hall. Saturday's day-time offerings include more intimate concerts and participatory workshops - singing, folk dancing, drumming, and an all ages rhythm workshop for children. Most Festival activities take place indoors. Weather permitting, Saturday will include free concerts in Waterfront Park, a children's Rhythm Parade, and a family picnic and concert at lunch time in Willow Park. (Rain locations are planned in case of bad weather.) Saturday evening's late night party at the Festival Theatre wraps up Deep Roots Day 2 with a kitchen party atmosphere. On Sunday everyone there will be a Family Sing-along Concert as well as the Festival Finale.

Set in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, the Canadian Deep Roots Music Festival is an annual September event intended for by music lovers of all ages, highlighting various musical art forms including folk and roots singers & songwriters.

It's the 3rd annual Canadian Deep Roots Music Festival taking place this weekend (September 15-17)in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

For additional information contact: Deep Roots Music Cooperative
P.O. Box 2360, Wolfville, Nova Scotia B4P 2G9; (902) 542 ROOT (7668); email:; website:

StoryCorps: People Themselves Telling their own Stories & The Story of a Nation

We are big fans of StoryCorps.

StoryCorps is an American non-profit organization that records the extraordinary stories of everyday people. StoryCorps is modeled—in spirit and in scope—after the Works Progress Administration (WPA) of the 1930s, through which oral history interviews with Americans across the country were recorded. StoryCorps hopes to build and expand upon that work, creating a well-documented and archived American oral history.

Participants usually record their stories in one of four StoryBooths. One StoryBooth, opened on July 12, 2005 is located in Lower Manhattan near the site of the World Trade Center, while the original StoryBooth, opened on October 23, 2003, is housed in New York's Grand Central Station. Two MobileBooths, built into converted Airstream trailers, embarked on cross country trips on May 19, 2005. StoryCorps will also send a StoryKit—a portable recording apparatus along with a set of instructions—to anyone who is unable to visit either a StoryBooth or a MobileBooth.

A trained facilitator guides the recording session, but the participant is most often interviewed by a family member or loved one. The participants receive a CD of the session, while StoryCorps places another copy of the interview in the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. StoryCorps does request a voluntary donation after each interview.

A select few of the interviews are broadcast on National Public Radio. These interviews can also be heard at StoryCorp's website.

For more go or

Monday, September 04, 2006

Football Is a Refuge Where Katrina Lingers (NYT)

From The New York Times:

Published: September 1, 2006
PORT SULPHUR, La., Aug. 31 — Last year, nothing floated through the goal posts of the ruined high school here but the storm surge from Hurricane Katrina. Now football is again being played in lower Plaquemines Parish, a rudder-like peninsula below New Orleans that steers the Mississippi River to its delta. There is a new school, South Plaquemines High, and a chance for a new start Friday night against Belle Chasse, in upper Plaquemines.

Passing: Bob Mathias, Olympic Decathlon Champion

From Associated Press:

Bob Mathias, who won the gold medal in the Olympic decathlon in 1948 at age 17, and again four years later, then later served four terms in Congress, died Saturday in Fresno, Calif. He was 75.

“Bob Mathias was one of those rare individuals with the ability to inspire a nation through his determination and perseverance,” Peter Ueberroth, the chairman of the U.S.O.C., said in a statement.

By the time Mathias retired from decathlon competition in 1952, he had nine victories in nine competitions, four United States championships, three world records and two Olympic gold medals, all before he was 22.

He was so popular that his life became the basis of a 1954 movie, “The Bob Mathias Story,” with Mathias himself in the leading role.

Labor Day's Origins in Labour Day

To many it is a sale day. To others it is the unofficial end of summer. And still to others it means back to school or the Jerry Lewis Telethon.

But Labor Day is a holiday for a reason.

The origins of modern day Labor Day are said to be be traced back to the Knights of Labor in the United States and a parade organized by them on September 5, 1882 in New York.

In fact, they were inspired by an annual labor parade held in Toronto.

The origins of Labour Day in Canada can be traced back to a printer's revolt in 1872 in Toronto, where labourers tried to establish a 54-hour work week. At that time, any union activity was considered illegal and the organizers were jailed, at the behest of George Brown. Protest marches of over 10,000 workers were formed in response, which eventually led to Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald repealing the anti-union laws and arranging the release of the organizers as well.

The fight of the Toronto printers had a second, lasting legacy. The parades held in support of the Nine-Hour Movement and the printers' strike led to an annual celebration.

And it was this foundation which led to Labor Day as it known in the States.

Labour Day has been celebrated on the first Monday in September in Canada since the 1880s. The September date has remained unchanged, even though the government was encouraged to adopt May 1 as Labour Day, the date celebrated by the majority of the world.

With the event of Chicago's Haymarket riots in early May of 1886, U.S. president Grover Cleveland believed that a May 1 holiday could become an opportunity to commemorate the riots. Thus, fearing that it might strengthen the socialist movement, he quickly moved in 1887 to support the position of the Knights of Labor and their date for Labour Day. The date was adopted in Canada in 1894 by the government of Prime Minister John Thompson. Socialist delegates in Paris in 1889 appointed May 1 as the official International Labour Day.

The September date has remained unchanged, even though the governments have been encouraged to adopt May 1 as Labo(u)r Day, the date celebrated by the majority of the world. Moving the holiday, in addition to breaking with tradition, could have been viewed as aligning the U.S. & Canadian labo(u)r movements with internationalist sympathies.

According to Howard Zinn in his research in A People's History of the United States, the original parade in 1882 organized by the Knights of Labor had a loose affiliation with the Ku Klux Klan, a main reason why the more progressive supporters of a labor parade preferred the May Day march. But the fear of socialism and communism prevailed and Labor Day & Labour Day remains in September

For some time Labo(u)r Day remained a time not only to commemorate labor’s contributions but also to draw public attention to the plight of workers and the struggle of labo(u)r unions to improve working conditions.

While Labour Day parades and picnics are organized by unions, many Canadians simply regard Labour Day as the Monday of the last long weekend of summer. Non-union celebrations include picnics, fireworks displays, water activities, and public art events. Families with school-age children take it as the last chance to travel before the end of summer. Some teenagers and young adults view it as the last weekend for parties before returning to school, which traditionally begin their new year the day after.

In the midst of all the barbecues and holiday sales, maybe we could try to take a second understand what those 19th century organizers in Toronto, New York, Detroit and elsewhere went through and sacrificed in order to put in place what so many of +us now take for granted.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Milestone: Daniel Schorr: 90 Years in a Newsworthy Life (NPR)

From NPR News:

All Things Considered, by Robert Siegel, August 31, 2006 · When someone works at his trade every week, at age 75 or 80, we say, "That's admirable."

When he does it at age 90, we say, "That's Daniel Schorr." The NPR senior news analyst is celebrating his 90th birthday.

Passing: Glenn Ford, Leading Man in Films and TV

This one is in the department of the overlooked. Yes Glenn Ford's pasing at the age of 90 was noted in the media. But some how these notes failed to capture the essence of the man - in his time Glenn Ford was a big deal. Decency, professionalism and a quiet strength are thought of with his name. He was one of the good guy characters from when we still had heroes. His passing is noted.

Obituary - from The New York Times:

Published: August 31, 2006

Glenn Ford, a laconic, soft-spoken actor whose leading roles in westerns, melodramas and romantic films made his name a familiar one on movie-house marquees from the early 1940’s through the 60’s, died Wednesday at his home in Beverly Hills. He was 90.