Andrew Sisters

12 12 2015





The Saints of Jazz

21 10 2011

They began their careers in small clubs. And cat houses. In choirs. And minstrel shows. They were applauded. Made famous. At times they were loved. They made a lot of money and spent it. On booze. On drugs. On men. And became famous. Some died in small rooms without family. Some in the arms of their children. They were all different. They were the Saints of Jazz. And they loved to sing.

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The Andrew Sisters

6 11 2009

Andrew sisters V2jpg

The Andrew Sisters (1911 –

 

Momma was a crusader. Daddy was a peach. Teutonic castles. Rolled across the rustic hills. Dressed up in tights. Inside dreams. Out of reach. Teach. Me to sing. And bob for apple cores. Roy. Joy. Life was so sweet. In the twin cities.

Death March. Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen. Jews. From Moldavia. Trains. Out of Mechelen. Klaus Barbie and Ann Frank. Hand in hand. Every child of God. Gets their own little yellow star. Those were golden days.

And the war raged on. In the kitchens of America. Listening to the USO. On the radio. Three little girls. Lungs like trumpets. In the fresh April breeze. Sweethearts. Singing at full volume. Through the air. Across the seas.

And the war raged on. The sisters sang on. About hugging. And kissing under an apple tree. Sang about bugles. In company D. Sang about jumping up. For those boys in their boats. In their tents. In their tanks. Brushing their teeth. Eating that grub. Sinking those subs.

Patty married Marty. Lavergne complained about a headache. Patty mentioned that it might be the hole in her heart. Maxene got drunk on rum and egg nog. And had a dream. Where a white man was dancing with his dog.

Hitler loved his children. He kept them warm. Some graduated from university. And flew to the moon. Others wished they’d never been born.

2500 women trampled guards. Trying to purchase. 1500 alarm clocks. In a Chicago department store. Uprising. At Auschwitz. The Jews trampled the guards. And burned down the crematoriums. But time was going up in smoke.

And the war raged on. Hal Newhouser was named AL MVP. In reprisal. 40 Dutch men were hung. Like apples. From the trees.

Singing songs for Wrigley’s Chewing Gum. Doles’ Pineapple. Never forgetting Franco-American. Promised to meet those service boys. When the war ended. In the soda shop. Dance and sing. Make them laugh. But on that day of reveille. Not all the uniforms, showed up.

 





That’s All I Want From You. That’s All I Ever Wanted

27 11 2008

landscape-light-wind-sea-and-land

THAT’S ALL I WANT FROM YOU. THAT’S ALL I EVER WANTED

Mrs. Murphy bobbed up to the cashier. The classic 18 step. With her walker. Shaking those screws and bolts. Rattling. Bones and bones. None of that osseous matter. Some that the Roman Empire could never understand.

Josephine, the cashier, smiled. She loved to see the old lady in her element. Not all her marbles are working but she sure can move those steins.

“Got a tune in your head, eh Mrs. Murphy?” Josephine nodded her head to one side and winked. Like the Andrew sisters. The blond one.

Mrs. Murphy nodded as her head bobbed up and down.

That’s all I want from you.” Mrs. Murphy pursed her lips. “A lovely song from Jaye P. Morgan.”

Josephine smiled. Then Bea, another cashier, dropped by for a moment. And the two cashiers sang together. A sunny day with bolts up to the sky. A kiss and no goodbye. That’s all I want from you.

The two cashiers laughed and Bea moved on. Shuffling her feet. Waving the palms of her hands in the liquescent air.

“You’ve got to have some fun,” Josephine said. Flashing her pearlies. Pieces of dental floss hanging out of her mouth. Like Romeo’s braided twine to Juliet. And never the twine shall meet.

Mrs. Murphy smiled patiently. She loved the song, but didn’t appreciate these kids confiscating her mood. Why do they consider their own thoughts worth expressing?

“I guess every generation has an ipod in their head,” Josephine said. Josephine loved to imagine that she could smooth over any discord. With her sassy observations.

But Mrs. Murphy had no idea what an ipod was. She would have understood jukebox. Making the gap between the generations seem like a language problem amongst teenagers from different eras.

“I don’t know about that honey,” Mrs. Murphy said shaking her head, “but I feel like there’s a juke box playing in my head. Those tunes fall into place. Can’t help but put you on your toes. Make me feel like smoking a Chesterfield. Oh boy. What a time we had during the war. The best of times as they say. My goodness how I loved to dance. My mother would have sworn that I’d been swept away by the devil himself.”

Bea stopped by again. The two cashiers sang, Don’t let me down, Oh show me that you care. Remember when you give, You also get your share. Don’t let me down, I have no time to waste. Tomorrow might not come, When dreamers dream too late.

Josephine giggled. Bea moved on. Oh that Bea loved to giggle. A jiggle in her jello.

Mrs. Murphy was not so impressed. She watched Bea dance toward the magazine stand. Where she was shuffling in the new magazines.

“She is very annoying, isn’t she?” Mrs. Murphy said. And wondered why people insisted on imposing their silliness on other folks who might have wonderful thoughts in their heads.

“Oh, we’re just having fun. Girls just want to have fun.” Josephine smiled.

“You don’t say,” Mrs. Murphy responded leaning on the counter. Her hand jumping. Her jowls shaking. “You know there are no old people. Some of us just have bad makeup.”

Josephine laughed. That’s very clever, she thought. Mrs. Murphy noticed that the young woman was impressed by her remark, a remark that she had repeated thousands of time over the last few years. After she read it in a Chinese fortune cookie. Still it made her think better of the young woman.

“In your head,” Mrs. Murphy continued, “you’re always 24. God, when you get to my age it seems that the rest of the world are children.”

“I never thought of it that way,” Josephine said as she scanned the diapers designed for seniors that Mrs. Murphy had placed on the counter.

Mrs. Murphy added some toothpaste. For dentures. And some ointment for hemorrhoids. And a brush.

“Or maybe it’s the other way round,” the old lady said caught up in her own nimble wit. “Maybe we’re all old. And being young is an illusion. A joke. A tease.”

At that moment Bea showed up again and the two cashiers finished singing their song. A little love that slowly grows and grows. Not one that comes and goes. That’s all I want from you.

Bea and Josephine laughed. And when they were finished they noticed that Mrs. Murphy had departed. Left all of her things behind. Unbagged. Unpaid for.

“What got into her?” Bea asked.

Josephine shook her head. “She’s just old.”

Bea nodded as her head bobbed up and down.

Bea pursed her lips and Josephine followed suit as they sang. “That’s all I want from you.”





The Battling Sisters

26 08 2008

Andrew Sisters

Andrew Sisters

I used to hate the sounds of the Andrew Sisters. When I was a kid. And they were played all the time on the radio. Much like I came to dislike Motown when I lived in Windsor across from Detroit. You can get too much of a good thing. But now I’ve come to love the Andrews sisters work. It is so catchy. Grabs you and makes you want to dance. At least in your head.The music of the Andrew Sisters reminds me of the Beatles. The early Beatles when they were playing for teenagers.

YouTube – Andrews Sisters

Shoo-Shoo Baby by The Andrews Sisters on Yahoo! Music

The Battling Sisters

June 5, 2008 by Maynard G. Krebs

Daddy was Greek. Momma was a Viking. Three little girls. Knees bopping like apples. On a tree. In the breeze. Singing at full volume. La Verne played piano at the Silent Movie Hall. In exchange for free dancing lessons. For all three sisters. Now you owe me. Won a talent contest at the Orpheum Theatre. In Minneapolis. Sweethearts of the Armed Forces Radio Service. Hits. One after two after three. Bei Mir Bist Du Schon became the favourite of the Nazis. And the inmates of the concentration camp. I can’t stand being with you all of the time. Patty married Marty. Laverne got hitched up with Little Lou. Maxene settled for Big Lou. All the girls were happy as could be. Still playing the parts of sixteen year olds. Singing songs for Wrigley’s Chewing Gum, I want to be alone, Doles’ Pineapple, I need my own career, and anything made by Franco-American. Let’s ask ma and pa. Maybe they were jealous of that bugle boy. He stayed young while they got old. Or maybe this happens to anyone who tries so hard to harmonize.

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Still rough stuff. The final poems are much cleaner, shorter, and I think interesting.





The Voice In The Room

22 07 2008

This song is somewhat outside the usual run of songs I used in these stories. But I love Mack The Knife. The Kurt Weill and Berthol Brecht song from Three Penny Opera. It’s a song about a serial killer, a child killer and it is sung in that Las Vegas culture by a lot of singers but none better than Bobby Darin.

YouTube – Bobby Darin sings “Mack the Knife”

The song Shoo-shoo Baby is sung by the Andrew Sisters and it fits in with the vision I have of this story. The horror of remembering the deaths of former friends, colleagues, and lovers that many gay men have lived through. And then having to go through ‘ordinary’ break-ups. The depth of  pain must seem endless.

Shoo-Shoo Baby by The Andrews Sisters on Yahoo! Music

………………….

Manhatten Project

Manhatten Project

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THE VOICE IN THE ROOM

Big Bob smiled as the widow Murphy pushed her walker slowly and painfully out of the shop. Though it was difficult to explain, the old woman’s struggle made Big Bob happy. Not that he ordinarily sought pleasure in the misfortunes of others. The widow was different. She sucked all the oxygen out of a room. And though she sometimes appeared beaten. One overlooked her resilience at one’s peril. She was a snarly tough minded veteran of the communication wars. She gave no quarter nor expected any.

Big Bob thought of all the times the widow had come into his shop. When Tom had been there. How she had flirted with him. With Tom. Tom hated flirting. Thought of it as snubbing one’s nose at the Creator. For the few precious hours God had give us on earth. Tom did not appreciate fun. One must always be engaged in some project. In Tom’s world. Something with purpose. Like a shark. Always moving.

Oh, the shark has pretty teeth dear.

And he shows em, pearly white.

To Big Bob coquetry was a harmless game.

When that shark bites with his teeth, dear.

Scarlet billows begin to spread.

It was a game between an old woman and a younger man pretending to woo her. Making the older woman feel younger. And the younger man feel handsome. Big Bob had no romantic interests in the old woman. But, still Tom had his suspicions. Some might called it jealousy. The widow was old enough to be Bob’s mother. She was on death’s doorstep. One slam of the door and she’d might shatter. Still Tom had been jealous. Why was he so insecure? Bob wondered. So Bob flirted with the ladies. Wasn’t that what brought them back? A wink in the spring time. A joke in the fall. And they’d come back for that hammer. And those nails. Maybe some advice about their eaves troughs. The name of a handy man to fix that leaky tap. So how much harm was he doing. It was just business. But Tom complained. That Bob didn’t love him enough. If he had so much affection to spread around. To customers. To passersby. To the mailman. Or the kids on the block. If it was going out to someone else, it was going to Tom. How much did Bob have to prove to someone? That Bob loved Tom. Are we always on trial? Is there no point where you can say that one has passed? That the relationship was on firm ground? And relax. Lay back in a hammock, drink daiquiris and enjoy love? Stare up at the mountains. Whistle for room service. Breath in the moment?

Bob and Tom had known each other since college. Tom had taken the Frosh Queen to the Homecoming Dance. Bob got drunk with the engineers. Both had joined the drama club. Became drinking buddies. Fell in love with different women together before they fell into each other’s closet. Came out together. Weathered those early years. Disowned by their families. Those wild parties. Arrested together in the steam rooms. Watched their friends flying. HIV. Making angels in their death sheets. So many silly poor souls on the rack. Of their lives. In the end, laughing in the dark, dieing amongst strangers. Buried hastily in pretty English gardens. And forgotten for decades. Before someone’s kid did. A family tree. And asked who cousin Edward was. And why had he gone away so young. Was he in the war? There were so many. Did he die from the plague? Nobody called it that. In short, your uncle died of a kiss.

Tom and Big Bog had survived all of it. Left stranded on an island with each other. The silly arrangements they made to furnish their apartment. Pretending to sing lullabies to each other. Pretending to be asleep. Pretending that none of it had ever happened. Pretending that there had been no laughter. No tears. No friends who had contacted the… Was it an illness? Or God’s retribution? But there were all those friends they had buried. The photo album was stuffed to the gills. With pics of goodbyes. All those hugs between children. In the corner of the room. On the floor. In the dark. With death in the other corner dragging his feet. And singing.

Seems kinda tough now to say “Goodbye” this way

But papa’s gonna get rough now

So that he can be sweet to you another day

Bye bye baby

Don’t cry baby

Shoo, shoo, shoo, baby

So why had Tom left? Why now? Did he wake up? From their happiness. And just couldn’t get back to sleep. Big Bob scanned the ruins of the shop. The nails and screws, all the little packages of hope. Build and repair. Looking to the future with open eyes. All this hardware. Pieces of Bob’s dream. Pieces of Tom’s. Weren’t his fingerprints all over everything. Pieces of Tom in someone’s basement. Pieces in someone’s extension. The tree house in the backyard. The deck around the hot tub. Tom’s fingerprints all over the neighbourhood. Like sentimental snapshots in a book. Growing yellow at the fringes. Pieces of Tom blown away in the wind of commerce.

The door of the shop opened. Everest walked in.

“What does that bastard want?” Big Bob muttered. Lightly. Like butter on a toasted bagel. Don’t want that bagel to be sopping wet. Don’t want it to cut your lips. Gotta be spread just right. Don’t want anyone to hear him curse.

Bob had no use for the big man they called Everest. A giant of a man with a tiny heart. Someone who could never keep his nose to himself. And too big to be put into his place. Always chatting you up. Could never figure out what his game was. Where did he live? Married? Kids? Seemed to live in the plaza like a ghost.

Everest looked around the shop. His eyes were always dancing. Delighted in everything that was. Made you want to puke. He’d delight in that.

“Looks like you’re clearing out a lot of merchandise,” Everest said turning his attention back to Bob. “Too bad you didn’t have this kind of business before. When everything wasn’t on sale. You think that bastard G could cut you some slack. How many years you been here, Bob?”

“Years?”

“Must be fifteen years,” Everest replied. “Most folks can’t remember when you and Tom weren’t here. Why did you suddenly fall on hard times? The big box stores?”

Big Bob shrugged his shoulders.

“I’ve always tried to give you my business, small though it may be. I think I owe you. I think we all owe you. Bloody shame!”

“What do you want?” Big Bob cried.

A look of hurt crossed Everest’s face.

Big Bob dropped his eyes. “I’m sorry. It’s been a long day.”

Everest took a deep breath and looked around the shop.

“Now look Bob. I didn’t come in here to fight. I came in to buy a hammer.”

“We sold out,” Big Bob said. God, won’t he ever leave?

Everest stepped over to a barrel containing hammers. He picked one up and showed it to Big Bob.

“Those were sold this morning,” Big Bob explained. “Big hardware chain in the mall. I just haven’t gotten around to packaging them.”

Everest turned the hammer over and tested it in a swing. Than stepped over to the counter. He put it down.

“They won’t miss one hammer,” Everest said, reaching into his wallet and producing a ten dollar bill. He handed it to Big Bob. Big Bob took it grudgingly, then gave Everest his change.

“Could you put it in a bag,” Everest asked. “You walk around the plaza with a hammer in your hand and people get the wrong idea. I heard of a guy who bought his kid a plastic gun for a birthday present then walked into a bank. He ended up getting five years for armed robbery.”

Everest laughed. Big Bob did not. He put the hammer in a bag. Where does he come up with these stories? Does anyone believe any of them?

“Did you care about Tom at all?” Big Bob asked.

Everest’s mouth dropped. He smiled and shook his head.

“We were friends.”

“Just friends?”

“That was it. Look Bob, I liked Tom, but I don’t swing that way. And if I did, it was obvious to everyone that you two guys were a set. I respected that.” Everest hesitated a moment before speaking. “I know you and I have never gotten along Bob. Well, that’s what it is. I don’t know why Tom left. Maybe it’s none of my business. But if you don’t put Tom behind you, Bob, you might as well pull the sod over you now.”

Big Bob clenched his teeth. “Who do you think you are to give me advice?”

Everest shook his head. “Tom was a sad person, Bob. He had that false front. But behind it there was an overwhelming sadness. The tears of a clown. You should have made him happy. That’s everyone’s duty. That’s why we’re put down here on this lonely orb. What else is there?”

Big Bob dropped his head.

“You don’t think I tried.” Big Bob’s voice was shaking. “You’ve got no idea what it’s like to love someone and know that no matter how much love you give them, it doesn’t matter. Nothing you do matters.”

Everest put his hand on Bob’s shoulder.

“I’m sorry, Bob.” Everest picked up his bag and turned toward the door.

Big Bob watched Everest open the door and leave.

“He hasn’t a clue.” Big Bob smiled sadly. “None of them have a clue.”

“And what is it they’re supposed to know?” a voice said.

Big Bob was startled. He looked around. The shop was empty.

“Who said that?”

There was no response.