Sunday, May 24, 2009
My story begins well over 25 years ago, back to the day when I heard Dr. Demento play an excerpt of a 45 called "I'm Surfing" by George W. Husak. This was during a segment on some of the worst records in his collection. I was intrigued, and was quite glad when, several years later, the good doctor played the record in its entirety, prefacing it with the following (edited) comments: "If you asked me, 'what is the worst musical performance that was ever actually released on a 45 … a record that somebody actually expected somebody to go out and buy,' this might well be my choice. It's from some time in the early to mid '60's, and it came out on a label based in San Francisco. The perpetrator of this truly incredible performance is one George W. Husak." Here is that record....
Bob Purse has posted an MP3 of "I'm Surfing," and oh my god, it's awful.
But that's not all. He found a copy of this LP, George's Album. A dozen songs, all in that inimitable Husak style. Hear Georga and Anton give Bob Wills's "San Antonio Rose" and Hank Williams's "Cold, Cold Heart" that special Husak treatment. Enjoy.
(On the WFMU blog, it's quickest to click on the little blue box in front of the title.)
Monday, May 18, 2009
(Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World and Salt: A World History), is just out with a brand new book that should get a lot of attention. The Food of a Younger Nation “takes us back to the food and eating habits of a younger
From the publisher’s description:
“In the 1930s, with the country gripped by the Great Depression and millions of Americans struggling to get by, FDR created the Federal Writers’ Project under the New Deal as a make-work program for artists and authors. A number of writers, including Zora Neale Hurston, Eudora Welty, and Nelson Algren, were dispatched all across
The book reminds me of my friend Joe Dabney’s Smokehouse Ham, Spoon Bread, & Scuppernong Wine: The Folklore and Art of Appalachian Cooking, which won a James A. Beard Award (as Kurlansky did for Cod). I get hungry whenever I read Joe’s book, and now the same thing happens with Kurlansky’s. My
The book describes “Oyster Stew Supreme at Grand Central, New York” and oyster roasts in
It's hard to believe that these wonderful pieces have remained unpublished for seventy years. Kurlansky came across them when he was working on Choice Cuts, a best-of collection of food writing through history. I’m glad he did, and that he had the sense to put them together into this book. A friend who teaches American Studies saw the book on my desk and said that she might use it in one of her classes. I can see that. Students would love it, and I can imagine a class drawing all sorts of observations about American culture(s) from the book. Plus it would be fun, as the piece in the book goes on for nearly 400 words about
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Yet another set of advertisements that used some variation of Abraham Lincoln's famous saying, "You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time." Click on images to make them bigger.
Chicago Tribune, April 6, 1910
New York Times, February 28, 1909
New York Times, November 30, 1907
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Click image to embiggen.
On April 12, 1899, Alfred Cranford was allegedly murdered (and his wife, Mittie, raped) by Sam Hose, who would pay with his life in one of the most horrific lynchings in Georgia history. One of the generally unknown parts of that horrible story is the way the life insurance company used the event for advertising.
This ad, from the Atlanta Constitution, May 19, 1899, contains a letter from Mittie Cranford thanking the Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York for its prompt and courteous payment of the claim. "I can truthfully say that the beneficent results of life insurance were never more fittingly bestowed than in my case," she wrote, "as this policy comes like a god-send to assist me in educating and bringing up my four little children."
My favorite part: the box in the upper right corner. "A Side Light on the Cranford-Hose Tragedy / The Thoughtful Husband -- The Thankful Widow." "A Splendid Investment"! For a $2,000 policy, Alfred Cranford paid only $84 in premiums, giving a "Profit over Cost" of $1,916.