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John William Tuohy lives in Washington DC

When Fiction becomes fact: Actor Paul Lynde murdered his lover.


When Fiction becomes fact: Actor Paul Lynde murdered his lover.
by
John William Tuohy


Many years ago I met one of the cast members from the television show “Celebrity Squares” and I was shocked, well, saddened really, over his take of Paul Lynde. I had always liked Paul Lynde’s performances, he was a notch above the rest in my opinion. By his co-workers summary, based on examples, was that off camera, Lynde was not only dark, but he was also a drunk, a mean drunk. As a parting nail in the coffin, the actor told me that “You know, he murdered a teenager, threw him off a porch, you should look into it”


 So, all these years later, I did.  And although no one has ever contradicted his Lynde reputation for being a sort of nasty man and a mean drunk, the “threw a kid off a porch” story, is pure rubbish.

Here’s what actually happened.  

On the night of July 18, 1965, Lynde and his lover James “Bing” Davidson traveled from Beverly Hills to San Francisco and checked into an eighth-floor suite at the ritzy Sir Francis Drake Hotel.

Lynde was 39-years old at the time and Davidson was just 24. Davidson, who attended the University of Nebraska, was born in Hastings, Nebraska and lived most of his short life in Grand Island, Neb. In 1960, he made the move west to Hollywood and worked mostly as an uncredited bit actor, under the name Bing Davidson, in television and movies, including "Take Her, She's Mine" and "Prescription Murder."


  In 1963, with enough credits under his belt, he was allowed to join the  Screen Actors Guild, but under the stage name James Davidson. (There was also another up and coming actor named James Davidson, who appeared in various TV show like "Slattery's People," "Wagon Train," and "Combat."

At about 6:00 PM, Lynde and Davidson left their suite and went out bar hopping. The pair returned to the hotel at about 2:30 that morning. Lynde went to his suite and Davidson stayed in the lobby. At about 2:45 a hotel security officer escorted Davidson to his room because he was “boisterous” meaning loud, combative and drunk. About fifteen minutes after being led back to the suite, Davidson walked to a window, opened it and said “Watch what I can do, let me show you a trick”

Davidson stupidly grabbed the ledge beneath his feet and slide down to cling from it, holding on with his fingertips. Within seconds he started to lose his grip and screamed  “I’m slipping. Help me.”

Lynde threw himself toward the window and grabbed Davidson's wrist, but couldn’t hold on and Davison made things worse by trying to get back up by lifting his leg and shifting all of 180 pounds to one side causing Lynde to lose his grip. Davidson plunged 80 feet, fell past the awning over the hotel's main entrance and landed on Powell Street, dead.
Police officer Richard Fenlason and Charles Warren saw a crowd of between ten and 12 people stopping to watch Davison struggle to safety. Three years before, on August 9, 1960, officer Fenlason was on the scene when Teddy Barron, a singer with the group The Starlighters, had a run in with the San Francisco police. The group had made an appearance at Ann's 440 Club. After the show, Barron went to the apartment of his former girlfriend, Barbara Joyce Bledsoe, 24, a waitress.

 Bledsoe said that Barron knocked on the glass door of her apartment,  she opened the door, saw who it was and slammed the door and it shattered, cutting Barron on the hands and face, then, she said, Barron stepped into the apartment through the door, severely cutting his leg. Bledsoe said she ran out the back door and hid in a neighbor's back yard while  Barron ransacked her home but took only $30 from her purse.

Barron, first on left

Fenlason and another cop came to the scene and were interviewing Bledsoe when Barron sped by in his car, his lights out. The cops leaped into their car and followed by they lost him. Another squad car picked him up a few blocks away, driving the wrong way down a one-way street. The cops cut him off and Barron leaped out of his car, knife in hand, and attacked to the two officers. It took four policemen to finally subdue him.

The two cops pulled their patrol car over outside the hotel at Powell and Sutter Streets, saw Davidson and radioed for the fire department and dashed into the hotel and made it up to the suite after Davidson had fallen and found Paul Lynde, dazed, sitting on the edge of a bed. All he said was "He weighs about 180 pounds. It was too much for me. I told him to grab my neck, but he slipped away”




The coroner conducted an investigation and based on the testimony of hotel staff, several citizens and the two policemen, Deputy coroner Mark Aleeson classified the death as an accident and determined that Davidson had been drinking heavily. 

New England Mystery: Who killed Harry Levine?

Who killed Harry Levine?

by
John William Tuohy

Anslem Levine worked with his brother-in-law Harry Greenglass, in a sewing shop at
91 Columbia Avenue in New York. Harry handled the business end and Anslem Levine repaired the machine and looked after production.

On Thursday, July 13, 1911, Anslem saw his family off at the train station for a weeklong vacation to the Witter Farm in Hanover Connecticut.  (Hanover is a part of the town of Sprague in upper New London County.) Anslem would stay in New York and work at the factory.

Mrs. Levine and her two sons arrived at the farm at about 11:30 that afternoon.   The two boys went outside to play and four and half-year-old Harry Levine took off his shoes and socks and was overjoyed to chase a hen around, just outside the barn.   

Harry’s slightly older brother went into the house, but Harry wanted to stay outside and play longer. A few minutes later, less than three minutes later, the boy's mother, concerned about Harry being outside alone, went outside to fetch him but he was nowhere in sight. She called him and looked around the yard and inside the barn, but he was gone. The Levine’s had been on the farm for less than a half hour.

Anselm Levine, the boy’s father, arrived on the farm on Sunday with his brother-in-law, Harry Greenglass. By that time, his wife had accused a Polish farmhand named Wojciech Bared (who went by the Americanized name Weilzich Bernard) of kidnapping Harry.  The basis for her accusation was that Barnard, who was working near the barn,  was the last person to see Harry alive.

The local constable, a fellow named McGuire, came to the farm, questioned Weilzich Bernard but felt he had no reason to arrest, largely because at that point, the boy was missing, and no foul play had been reported. However, Anselm Levine believed his wife and went to see the town constables in the town of Sprague, Scotland and the police in Willimantic and Norwich, and demanded the farmhand's arrest but each time the reply was the same, the incident was out of their jurisdiction.


Almost a week later, State Police were called in to investigate. Troopers claimed down a 30 foot well next to the barn. The Levine’s also told them about their suspicions about Weilzich Bernard. They believed that the farm hand, annoyed by the boy's presence, punched or slapped the boy, accidentally killing him and then carried the body off and hid it. They pointed out that although several dozen locals searched for the child, he did not take part in the search for the child

The State police brought in a Polish translator and questioned Bernard. He said that he had in fact, been in the barn near where the boy was playing. Before that, he had spent the entire morning in the field with the brother of the farm owner, Barney Schelter. At noon, the two men returned to the farmhouse, neat the barn, for lunch. Barney

Schelter ate inside the house and Bernard went to the barn, where he slept and ate his lunch there. Mrs. Levine saw him the barn when she came out to look for the child, Mrs. Levine admitted that much. She also said that Bernard’s behavior seemed fine to her. Bernard said that after she left the barn, he returned to the fields to work where he was seen by several dozen other workers.

With no evidence of clues of any type, a fanciful and baseless theory was developed that enemies of the Levine’s may have followed the family from New York and took out their vengeance on the boy. Then there was a persistent rumor that there was an intense family squabble over ownership of some of the property but that lead led nowhere. Even the boy’s father was a suspect for a while.

At around nine in the morning, 12 days after Harry Levine had gone missing, two boys,
Peter Croft, aged 14, and Jeremiah Donnelly, aged 12, went out to pick huckleberries, a mile and half from the Witter farm, in the town of Scotland. Boys, being boys, they were drawn to a hillside where there was a strong foul odor. Climbing up the secluded hill they found Harry Levine’s naked and badly decomposed body. The body was lying face down and nude, his clothes folded neatly beside his corpse.

There were marks on the boy's neck and the coroner believed that the child was strangled and in the processes, his neck was broken but because, of the condition of the body from decomposition, he couldn’t be sure of the exact cause of death. An autopsy showed that the boy had been “unnaturally assaulted”

Harry had been barefoot when he was on the farm, but it something his mother rarely allowed in the city, but yet the child's feet and legs were not bruised or scratched by the mile and a half walk over rough and briery ground. Harry weighed about 40 pounds, so whoever brought him to the sight, had to have the strength to carry him there, several hundred feet from the main road and up a steep hill. A Jinshan cigarette box was found next to the body.  The bushes around the body had been matted down for about five feet by three feet, and there was evidence of vomiting or blood where the body lay.

The child’s body was held in a casket at the local blacksmith's shop and eventually returned to New York for burial. The coroner questioned the parents and everyone else who was on the farm on the day the child disappeared, about 60 people in all. No one heard the child call out or scream, and no one, except the parents, believed that Bernard had taken the child. Even Harry Greenglass, the boy’s uncle said he doubted that Bernard had any part of the murder.  

Weilzich Bernard left the job on the farm a few days after Harry disappeared, telling his co-workers that there were “too many bosses on the farm for him.”  The coroner and the local constable, with the help of a translator, questioned Barnard “intensely” as they put it, but he denied having anything to do with the boy's murder. He told the investigators that he was 31 years old, born in Poland, where he had a wife and three children.

He admitted to having been arrested in Massachusetts for drunkenness and three times in Galicia, Austria, for the same offense, as well as fighting.  He said he occasionally lived with his brother in Occum, a section of the town of Norwich, where it is hoped to buy his own farm someday, but during the warmer days, he slept at the farm. Constables searched his room at his brother’s’ house but found nothing out of the ordinary, except a  Jinshan cigarette box much like the one found near the child’s dead body.

Assuming Bernard would breakdown when he saw what he had done, they showed him the child’s corpse, but there was no reaction from Bernard. The same result came when Bernard was taken to the murder spot. Still, the Coroner didn’t believe Bernard was innocent and ordered the constable to hold him in custody, noting that Bernard “…is an inveterate cigarette smoker and may not be all right mentally”

However, Bernard was never formally charged with the murder because the evidence just wasn’t there nor was the timeline correct. If Bernard had kidnapped the boy, brought him a mile and half on foot, (He had no other form of transportation) molested and killed the boy, he had to have done everything remarkably fast. The only time he could have seized the child was about fifteen minutes from the time he appeared for his dinner and when Harry’s mother came looking for him and a few minutes after that he was seen in the fields by his fellow workers.

So who killed Harry Levine?






Connecticut History: The Phelps Mansion, Stratford’s Haunted House

The Phelps Mansion, Stratford’s Haunted House
by
John William Tuohy 


Generations of Stratfordites knew it as “The Haunted House”  but in its day, Stratford’s Phelps mansion which stood at 1738 Elm Street, was an architectural gem, surrounded by magnificent gardens and tall elms with a seemingly endless lawn to gently tapered off into the Housatonic River. It was on those very shores that Stratford’s first European settlers landed in 1639.
The mansion was built by General Matthias Nicoll (1758-1830) in 1826 as a gift to his daughter and son-in-law, sea Captain. George R. Dowdell and his daughter Eliza “for their retirement years."  Dowdall made his living in the China trade, and the second floor of the house was built to resemble the upper deck of a sailing vessel. Dowdall died near Canton China. But it was not to be. Dowdell and his brother-in-law, Edward Nicoll, died in China aboard the USS Ajax in 1829. Dowdell was 47 years old and Nicoll, his first officer, was only 20.  Eliza died in 1857.   
From there, in 1848, ownership went to the Rev. Eliakim Phelps, a widower at age 52, and his grown children, hence the mansions name. Phelps acquired it and used it seasonally, also spending time in Philadelphia.

Phelps was from an old Yankee family. His father, brothers and a son were ministers and held advanced degrees in divinity.  He was born and raised in Belchertown, Massachusetts on March 20, 1790, and graduated from the distinguished Union and Andover Seminaries. Over the decades he gained a reputation in religious circles as being a bit odd for his interest in mysticism, mesmerism and the Spiritualist movement.
At age 59 years, Phelps relocated from Philadelphia to Stratford and married again to a woman 25 years his junior, Sarah Nicholson, and had a fourth child, Eliakim Sidney Phelps (1847-1894)
There are reports that Phelps new wife was difficult, that she didn’t like living in Stratford and disliked her neighbors. She was reported to be constantly tired and upset and that the couple’s daughter, Anna, had nerve problems brought on by stress. (The daughter's name was probably Mary. Her sister, Ann, died at age 13 in 1829, years before the family moved to Stratford)
Reverend Phelps recorded the first of many disturbing incidents at the house on  Sunday, March 10, 1850. He recorded that he and his family had just returned from church (Phelps may have been retired at this point)  to find their home draped in  “black and a body in their living room. “ a scene which disappeared before their eyes.

All the doors were open, the rooms looked as if they had been ransacked but there was nothing missing or stolen. But up in his bedroom, the Reverend reported that his dead wife’s nightgowns was laid out on a bed, sleeves over chest with stockings at the bottom. Phelps sent the family back to church for  afternoon services while he stayed behind and waited to see if the vandals would return (Which begs the question; why would they return?)
According to the Reverend, he was upstairs when he heard a noise in the living room. Rushing down the stairs he said that he found the dining room was filled with 11 lifelike effigies posed in various forms of devotion, intricately created from their clothes. Over the next few months, more effigies appeared. It was reported in the New Haven Journal that: "In a short space of time so many figures were constructed that it would not have been possible for a half a dozen women, working steadily for several hours, to have completed their design, and arrange the picturesque tableau. Yet these things happened in short space of time, with the whole house on the watch. In all, about 30 figures were constructed during this period."
The Phelps’ reported other disturbances for the remainder of their time there, including unexplained loud knocks on the walls. More effigies appeared, one of Phelps was reported to have been carried across a room by an invisible force and other family members reported being pinched and slapped by unseen forces. A reporter from the New York Sun visited the house at the end of April 1850 and was present in a room with Anna and Mrs. Phelps when he saw Anna’s arm jerk and twitch and she announced that she had just been pinched. The reporter rolled back her sleeve and recorded that there were several red marks on her arms.
Further, the family said, objects suddenly lifted up into the air and moved across the rooms, furniture was overturned, windows were broken, people were pelted by food that appeared from nowhere and there were, of course, the mandatory haunted house moans and screams.
Rev. Phelps’ son, Austin, a professor at Andover Theological Seminary and his uncle, Abner Phelps, (1779-1873) a well-known Boston doctor and Massachusetts legislator went down to Stratford to investigate the issue for themselves. They were displeased with the attention that the family was getting over the supposed haunting.

That night, both men heard a loud pounding noise that was sure was coming from a knocker on the front door but found nothing. Suspecting pranksters, they stood on both sides of the door and again the knocking happened. A while later they heard load rapping upstairs and heard it again on their second night in the house. The noise was coming from Anna’s room, the daughter with the nervous condition. The two men burst into the room hoping to catch her in the act but found her fast asleep. Austin later wrote: "The young lady was in bed, covered up and out of reach of the door. We examined the panel and found dents where it had been struck."
It should be noted that  Rev. Phelps had a strong interest in mysticism and may have, (it’s not established that he did) held a series of seances (A popular past time back then) a few days before the activities started.

Also, a review of newspaper stories from about the house during the Phelps’s time there  exclusively relied heavily on hearsay and second-hand testimonies from dubious sources. It appears that whenever a story about the ghosts of Phelps mansion appeared in print it was enviably soaked in quotes about the unquestionable integrity of Rev. Phelps, his family.
The fact was, that many in the town assumed that the entire haunting was a hoax perpetrated by a bored Mrs. Phelps and her children.
 Some suggested that the mansion was being haunted by the spirit of accused witch Goody Bassett, who was hung near the property in 1651. (She wasn’t. Goody was just over one mile away) Exactly what evidence was found to convict Goody Bassett of being a witch remains unknown, there are scant few records on the execution, held on May 15, 1651, of its cause. What is known is that Bassett and her family moved from New Haven to Stratford and that Goody was a strong will very opinionated woman who was widely disliked. After her death, Goody’s husband, Thomas Bassett remarried a woman named Joanna Beardsley, the widow of Tom Beardsley, a direct ancestor of James W. Beardsley, the fellow who later funded the creation of Beardsley Park and Zoo.    
The Phelps moved back to Philadelphia for the winter of 1850-51. Before they left the house, Phelps said that he was in his office one night and a paper suddenly came from nowhere and fluttered down onto his desk. A message was scrawled on the paper asking when the family was leaving for Philadelphia. Phelps said he wrote "October 1". The family left on October 1, but Phelps stayed on for another few days. During that time, there were no noises or disturbances, leading Phelps to believe that the spirits had left the house and with Anna to Philadelphia. But there were no disturbances reported in Philadelphia and upon returning to the house never again reported any paranormal activities. Eight years later, in 1859, they sold the house to Moses Yale Beach, (Below Founder of the New York Sun Newspaper as well as the inventor of print syndication)  who never recorded any problems in the house during the time he lived there.

In the 1940s,  Maude Thompson owned the property and converted it into a nursing home. In those years, staff and residents constantly reported hearing strange noises and having the sense of never being alone. During those years, the house was partially destroyed by fire. In 1960, the mansion was abandoned, vandals set fire to it again, and others ransacked parts of it for resale, including someone making off with the huge white pillars that once proclaimed a stately entrance was taken. In 1974, what was left of it was demolished.  
Phelps second wife, Sarah Nicholson died in Philadelphia on October 17, 1858. Phelps moved to Woodstock Connecticut shortly afterward but died in Weehawken New Jersey on December 29, 1880. His son Henry died at age 64 in West Hoboken New Jersey, in 1891









Lee Earle “James” Ellroy

LA Confidential
by
James Ellroy
Prologue
February 21st, 1950
An abandoned auto court in the San Berdoo foothills; Buzz Meeks checked in with ninety-four thousand dollars, eighteen pounds of high-grade heroin, a 10-gauge pump, a .38 special, a .45 automatic and a switchblade he’d bought of a pachuco at the border – right before he spotted the car parked across the line: Mickey Cohen goons in an LAPD unmarked, Tijuana cops standing by to bootjack a piece of his goodies, dump his body in the San Ysidro River.
          He’d been running a week; he’d spent fifty-six grand staying alive: cars, hideouts at four and five thousand a night – risk rates – the innkeepers knew Mickey C. was after him for heisting his dope summit and his woman, the L.A. Police wanted him for killing one of their own. The Cohen contract kiboshed an outright dope sale – nobody could move the shit for fear or reprisals; the best he could do was lay it off with Doc Englekling’s sons – Doc would freeze it, package it, sell it later and get him his percentage. Doc used to work with Mickey and had the smarts to be afraid of the prick; the brothers, charging fifteen grand, sent him to the El Serrano Motel and were setting up his escape. Tonight at dusk, two men – wetback runners – would drive him to a beanfield, shoot him to Guatemala City via white powder airlines. He’d have twenty-odd pounds of Big H working for him stateside – if 
he could trust Doc’s boys and they could trust the runners.
          Meeks ditched his car in a pine grove, hauled his suitcase out, scoped the setup:
          The motel was horseshoe-shaped, a dozen rooms, foot-hills against the back of them – no rear approach possible.
          The courtyard was loose gravel covered with twigs, paper debris, empty wine bottles – footsteps would crunch, tires would crack wood and glass.
          There was only one access – the road he drove in on – reconnoiterers would have to trek thick timber to take a potshot.
          Or they could be waiting in one of the rooms.
          Meeks grabbed the 10-gauge, started kicking in doors. One, two, three, four – cobwebs, rats, bathrooms with plugged-up toilets, rotted food, magazines in Spanish – the runners probably used the place to house their spics en route to the slave farms up in Kern County. Five, six, seven, bingo on that – Mex families huddled on mattresses, scared of a white man with a gun, ‘There, there’ to keep them pacified. The last string of rooms stood empty; Meeks got his satchel, plopped it down just inside unit 12: front/courtyard view, a mattress on box springs spilling kapok, not bad for a last American flop.
          A cheesecake calendar tacked to the wall; Meeks turned to April and looked for his birthday. A Thursday – the model had bad teeth, looked good anyway, made him think of Audrey: ex-stripper, ex-Mickey inamorata; the reason he killed a cop, took down the Cohen/Dragna ‘H’ deal. He flipped through to December, cut odds on whether he’d survive the year and got scared: gut flutters, a verin on his forehead going tap, tap, tap, making him sweat.
          It got worse – the heebie-jeebies. Meeks laid his arsenal on a window ledge, stuffed his pockets with ammo: shells for the .38, spare clips for the automatic. He tucked the switchblade into his belt, covered the back window with the mattress, cracked the front window for air. A breeze cooled his sweat; he looked out at spic kids chucking a baseball.
          He stuck there. Wetbacks congregated outside: pointing at the sun like they were telling time by it, hot for the truck to arrive – stoop labor for three hots and a cot. Dusk came on; the beaners started jabbering. Meeks saw two white men – one fat, one skinny – walk into the courtyard. They waved glad-hander style; the spics waved back. They didn’t look like cops or Cohen goons. Meeks stepped outside, his 10-gauge right behind him.
          The men waved: big smiles, no harm meant. Meeks checked the road – a green sedan parked crossways, blocking something light blue, too shiny to be sky through fir trees. He caught light off a metallic paint job, snapped: Bakersfield, the meet with the guys who needed time to get the money. 
The robin’s-egg coupe that tried to broadside him a minute later.
          Meeks smiled: friendly guy, no harm meant. A finger on the trigger; a make on the skinny guy: Mal Lunceford, a Hollywood Station harness bull – he used to ogle the carhops at Scrivener’s Drive-in, puff out his chest to show off his pistol medals. The fat man, closer, said, ‘We got that airplane waiting.’
          Meeks swung the shotgun around, triggered a spread. Fat Man caught buckshot and flew, covering Lunceford – knocking him backward. The wetbacks tore helter-skelter; Meeks ran into the room, heard the back window breaking, yanked the mattress. Sitting ducks: two men, three triple-aught rounds close in.
          The two blew up; glass and blood covered three more men inching along the wall. Meeks leaped, hit the ground, fired at three sets of legs pressed together; his free hand flailed, caught a revolver off a dead man’s waistband.
          Shrieks from the courtyard; running feet on gravel. Meeks dropped the shotgun, stumbled to the wall. Over to the men, tasting blood – point-blank head shots.
          Thumps in the room; two rifles in grabbing range. Meeks yelled, ‘We got him!’, heard answering whoops, saw arms and legs coming out the window. He picked up the closest piece and let fly, full automatic: trapped targets, plaster chips exploding, dry wood igniting.
          Over the bodies, into the room. The front door stood open; his pistols were still on the ledge. A strange thump sounded; Meeks saw a man spread prone – aiming from behind the mattress box.
          He threw himself to the floor, kicked, missed. The man got off a shot – close; Meeks grabbed his switchblade, leaped, stabbed: the neck, the face, the man screaming, shooting – wide ricochets. Meeks slit his throat, crawled over and toed the door shut, grabbed the pistols and just plain breathed.
          The fire spreading: cooking up bodies, fir pines; the front door his only way out. 
How many more men standing trigger?
          Shots.
          From the courtyard: heavy rounds knocking out wall chunks. Meeks caught one in the leg; a shot grazed his back. He hit the floor, the shots kept coming, the door went down – he was smack in the crossfire.
          No more shots.
          Meeks tucked his guns under his chest, spread himself dead-man style. Seconds dragged; four men walked in holding rifles. Whispers: ‘Dead meat’ – ‘Let’s be reeel careful’ – ‘Crazy Okie fuck.’ Through the doorway, Mal Lunceford not one of them, footsteps.
          Kicks in his side, hard breathing, sneers. A foot went under him. A voice said, ‘Fat fucker.’
          Meeks jerked the foot; the foot man tripped backward. Meeks spun around shooting – close range, all hits. Four men went down; Meeks got a topsy-turvy view: the court-yard, Mal Lunceford turning tail. Then, behind him, ‘Hello, lad.’
          Dudley Smith stepped through flames, dressed in a fire department greatcoat. Meeks saw his suitcase – ninety-four grand, dope – over by the mattress. ‘Dud, you came prepared.’
          ‘Like the Boy Scouts, lad. And have you a valediction?’
          Suicide: heisting a deal Dudley S. watchdogged. Meeks raised his guns; Smith shot first. Meeks died – thinking the El Serrano Motel looked just like the Alamo.
 


The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster

by Richard Brautigan 

When you take your pill
it’s like a mine disaster.
I think of all the people
   lost inside of you.



Lord Byron placed his name on the Temple of Poseidon


The inscribed name of George Lord Byron, carved into the base of one of the columns of the Temple of Poseidon, possibly dates from his first visit to Greece, on his Grand Tour of Europe before he acquired fame. Byron spent several months in 1810–11 in Athens, including two documented visits to Sounion. There is, however, no direct evidence that the inscription was made by Byron himself. Byron mentions Sounion in his poem Isles of Greece:
Place me on Sunium's marbled steep,
Where nothing, save the waves and I,
May hear our mutual murmurs sweep...





My old pal Emerson....

“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and to endure the betrayal of false friends. To appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”

                                                                                                               — Ralph Waldo Emerson



“The Great Read Away”

 LA libraries started “The Great Read Away” program that allows kids to read books to clear their late fees. In the first six months of the program over 3,500 previously “locked accounts” had been cleared, and now 80% of parents are more likely to let their kids go to the library. 


Where they wrote

Virginia Wolf

Rudyard Kipling

Mark Twain

John Updike
Jane Austen
George Bernard Shaw

EB White

Charlotte Bronte 

Foster Care: Where was the goddamned social worker?

Where was the goddamned social worker?  Read this, it's incredible but it's common, by common I mean that at least one or twice a month, I publish a story similar to this one

Oshkosh residents charged with chronic neglect of foster children


 WINNEBAGO COUNTY, Wis.
(WBAY) - Two Oshkosh residents have been charged with chronically neglecting
three foster children. An affidavit obtained by Action 2 News details allegations against Alan D. Small, 35, and his mother, Barbara R. Peterson, 60.
On Dec. 17, the Oshkosh Police School Resource Officer was contacted about a fight between a 15-year-old student and Barbara Peterson. The affidavit states that while officers were talking with the teen, "some disturbing information came forward."
The foster teen talked about his home life with Small and Peterson. He told the officers that there is an alarm on his bedroom door that sounds when he opens it. If the alarm goes off, he is threatened with being sent to a program for children with emotional
disorders. The teen stated he has to use a bucket in his bedroom for bathroom purposes.
The second teen stated that he's not allowed outside of his bedroom unless someone lets him out. He drew a photo of a lock on his bedroom door, according to the affidavit.
Investigators learned that Small's home is a licensed Foster Home through Brown County DHS. Officers visited Small's home. They noted that it was cold- the thermostat was set to 57 degrees. The officers found the first teen's room and the door he described with an alarm on it. They found a medical-type bucket toilet in the bedroom. "The room smelled of urine and feces," reads the complaint. The room was bare with no personal effects of the teen. The officers visited the second teen's room and found a locking clasp on the outside of the door. The room was "small and very cold and again lacking of any personal items," reads the affidavit. There was a toilet bucket in the room. "The bedding on the beds also did not seem to be sufficient for the temperature in the residence," the affidavit reads. Investigators spoke with a teen who used to live at the home with Alan and Barbara. He was removed from the home in November 2018. The teen described having a bucket and alarm on his door. Another teen described being forced to run in a weighted blanket as a punishment.
 The affidavit against Small and Peterson was filed in Winnebago County on Feb. 27. They each are charged with three counts of Chronic Neglect of a Child.

*** PLAYWRIGHTS OPPORTUNITIES ***


*** PLAYWRIGHTS OPPORTUNITIES ***

The West Side Show Room is seeking submissions of new ten minute plays written specifically for the Rockford New Play Festival. Six scripts will be chosen as official selections of the festival. Each play will be presented in a staged reading in Rockford, Illinois on September 20th and 21st, 2019 at 7pm CST. Each of the six playwrights will receive a $200 commission for their play. As such, The Rockford New Play Festival expects your play to be written for our festival, in response to this year’s theme: “Over... The Edge”

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Live & In Color is looking for playwrights, composers, and lyricists of color interested in developing their new musical or play. The work must be able to be performed with a multiethnic cast. The winning musical submission will have a two-week workshop this fall at The Bingham Camp in Salem, Connecticut culminating in a staged presentation to an invited audience.

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The Parish Players in Thetford, Vermont seeks 10-minute plays. We prefer new, unproduced plays; however previously produced and already published original plays will be considered.  We will also give preference to "local" (New England) playwrights. We will have only one set this year: the living room. Make sure your play works in this setting.

*** For more information about these and other opportunities see the web site at http://www.nycplaywrights.org ***


*** JEROME ROBBINS ***

Exhibition
Sept 26 - Mar 30
NY Public Library of the Performing Arts

Jerome Robbins was an inveterate observer, seeker, and creator. In diaries, drawings, watercolors, paintings, story scenarios, poems—and, especially, in dance—he reimagined the world around him. And New York dominated that world, where he was born one-hundred years ago and where he lived his entire adult life. Ideas of New York have long inspired artists but often the city serves as a backdrop in an artwork rather than the basis for plot, theme, and meaning. Robbins put the city at the center of his artistic imaginings. From Fancy Free—his breakout hit ballet in 1944—to the musical West Side Story on stage (1957) and screen (1961) and the ballets N.Y. Export: Opus Jazz (1958) and Glass Pieces (1983), Robbins explored the joys, struggles, grooves, routines, and aspirations of New York. And in recreating the city around him on stage, Robbins found a place for himself. Voice of My City traces Robbins’ life and dances alongside the history of New York, inspiring viewers to see the city as both a muse and a home.

http://www.lincolncenter.org/show/voice-of-my-city-jerome-robbins-and-new-york

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In 1947, the photographer Irving Penn made a black-and-white portrait of a young American musician. He is seated on drab carpeting draped over a chaise-like shape, vaguely old-world. The carpet’s mossy folds throw luxuriant shadows, and the musician upon them wears white tie and tails, a black overcoat caping his shoulders. He is relaxed, his left elbow propped on his left leg, which is hitched up on the seat, and his left cheekbone resting in his left hand as he gazes into the camera. His only visible ear, the right, is large—and as centrally positioned in the portrait as middle C. Is this a fin de si├Ęcle poet dressed for the theater? Is that a cigarette butt lying on the floor? Leonard Bernstein never looked more beautiful.

The following year, Penn took a black-and-white photograph of another young American artist, only here the subject is wedged between two walls forming a tight V—a Penn visual trademark. This man, barefoot and wiry, wears a turtleneck and black tights cropped at the calf. His feet press against the walls, a stride that suggests the Colossus of Rhodes. Yet his torso twists in another direction, and his arms are held tightly behind his back, hidden as if handcuffed. His expression is wary. Does the Colossus mistrust the camera or himself? Leave it to Jerome Robbins to choreograph a dance of inner conflict that lasts the length of a shutter’s click.

More...
https://www.vanityfair.com/style/2018/01/leonard-bernstein-jerome-robbins-and-the-road-to-west-side-story

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Actors recall living in fear of Jerome Robbins — yet dying to work with him

It’s a legend that even now, 20 years after Jerome Robbins’ death, threatens to define him: While berating his actors, he stepped farther and farther back on stage until he toppled into the orchestra pit.

And no one said a word to stop him.

Some say the show was “Call Me Madam,” “High Button Shoes” or “Billion Dollar Baby.” (An eyewitness tells The Post it was, in fact, “West Side Story.”) But the underlying message is the same: The choreographer and director was a terror to work with. Last month, after a “Chicago” actor killed himself following what was reportedly a brutish rehearsal, many recalled Robbins and his penchant for pushing dancers and actors to the breaking point.

More...
https://nypost.com/2018/07/26/actors-recall-living-in-fear-of-jerome-robbins-yet-dying-to-work-with-him/

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A young couple meet and have their first embrace. A dowager takes the best seat at a recital. A man leans down to touch the ground, then turns walking into dancing. Over and over again, during a significant chunk of the 20th century, choreographer Jerome Robbins showed us ourselves: in love, in play, in our dreams and our nightmares. He was an expert observer of human behavior, and reflected those salient moments back to us in dances that distilled those activities into fundamental physical truths. We don’t just watch one of his ballets, we get caught up in the same movement impulses as the performers—our response is kinesthetic, not just visual.

More...
https://www.seattleweekly.com/arts/the-kinesthetic-truth-of-jerome-robbins/

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The historic and prolific St. Louis Municipal Opera Theatre (commonly known as The Muny), is marking a rare feat for regional theatres, its 100th season. It's a milestone that should rightfully be celebrated in not only the St. Louis theatrical community but here in New York City as well, as many a performer has graced that stage at one time or another.

However, their season is off to a bumpy start with how they've decided to stage various numbers in their production of Jerome Robbins' Broadway. The show, which serves as a tribute anthology to shows that Robbins worked on, features fully produced recreations of his choreography. That means these numbers are done in the context of the shows they’re from and with full costuming. And that is where the problem lies.

During the number from The King and I, "The Small House of Uncle Thomas", while other featured roles within the ballet are played by Asian American and Pacific Islander(AAPI) performers, the role of Tuptim is being played by white actress, Sarah Bowden.

More...
https://www.onstageblog.com/editorals/2018/6/16/yellowface-in-jerome-robbins-broadway-is-as-confusing-as-it-is-inappropriate

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To most New Yorkers, Jerome Robbins is That Guy Who Did West Side Story. But to a generation of dancers at NewYork City Ballet—and a few odd stars like Mikhail Baryshnikov—he was much more: a meticulous, tireless worker; a genius choreographer who excelled at creating a mood; and a frequent terror, rehearsing pieces into the ground. “I’ve never spent so much time on a pas de deux in my life,” says Peter Martins of The Goldberg Variations. “It was a very—how should I put it?—semi-tedious process.” Christine Redpath, who now teaches the Robbins repertory at City Ballet, counted herself among a coterie the choreographer dubbed “Robbins girls”—a nucleus of dancers he used frequently, “maybe because we could A–No. 1 let his temper tantrums ride over us, keep track of all his different versions, and keep fairly clearheaded.”

More...
http://nymag.com/arts/classicaldance/dance/features/46422/

***

By now it is well known that Jerome Robbins was a complicated, often unpleasant man, prone to demeaning rages and paralyzing complexes, but there’s no denying that the creator of such works as “Fancy Free,” “Dances at a Gathering,” and “Antique Epigraphs” was also one of the, if not the, most important ballet choreographers this country has produced. In a different crowd, people point to Robbins’s profound influence on American musical theatre, in such shows as “Gypsy,” “West Side Story,” and “Fiddler on the Roof.” If you’re unconvinced of Robbins’s magical touch, check out the unforgettable “bottle dance” from “Fiddler on the Roof” or the opening sequence from the film version of “West Side Story.” (A revival of the musical is now in previews on Broadway at the Palace, directed by Arthur Laurents.)

More...
https://www.newyorker.com/culture/goings-on/getting-to-know-him

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Jerome Robbins embraced an astonishing range of classic and contemporary music, as this program reveals. The joyous Interplay, danced to music from the American composer Morton Gould, was only Robbins’ second ballet. For In the Night Robbins returned to a favorite, Chopin, to create a series of delicately crafted pas de deux infused with the mystery of romantic attraction. N.Y. Export: Opus Jazz is an early example of what we now call the “sneaker ballet.”

Sunday March 3, 2019 3:00 PM
LOCATION:
NYCBALLET
David H. Koch Theater
RUNNING TIME:
1 hr. 50 min.

https://www.nycballet.com/season-tickets/18-19-season/winter/mar-3-2019-robbins-a-master-at-work.aspx

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