Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Mind slush

When snowflakes gather into a grimy pile of slush,
flowers dry to fragile black ash,
and birth transitions into death
Is there purpose ?
Is awareness nothing but a point in time ?
Is cycle just a continuum of endings?
Is there an answer to the question of life ?
And is that answer participation ?
- Jerry Wendt 2008

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cadillac Records

Cadillac Records
………is the story of two masters: McKinley Morganfield and the twined character named Leonard Chess; one from the Mississippi fields, the other from a Chicago scrap yard. Their hard beginnings from the late forties into the sixties brought together some of the best blues musicians and put them in a studio called 'Chess Records’.
Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf, Lil Walter, Willie Dixon and more, all watching Chuck Berry play music like they’ve never heard before – leading to a brief portrayal of where all this were to lead when The Rolling Stones drove up to the door on Michigan Ave.
But where was Bo?

It was Bo Diddley that wrote, first performed and recorded “I’m a Man” for Checker Records (a wholly owned subsidiary of Chess Records) in 1955 under the name Elias McDaniel. I must, therefore, ask Willie Dixon to apologize on behalf of the screenwriter for his assertive substitution of Bo (the man who called himself “The Father of Rock and Roll”) and his square guitar.
Historically it is litely flawed but creative license is given to the flow of feeling – if not real events. (sort of the way I write). It’s about the music, isn’t it?

Where was Phil Chess – brother and co-owner of Chess Records (morphed into Leonard)?
Why would the screenwriter not mention - or devote a minute - to Muddy Waters and The Rolling Stones on stage, playing together in a historical, un-equaled set of blues and rock at the Checkerboard Lounge?
And how could they ignore the Maxwell’s street musicians that lined the sidewalk in front of 2120 South Michigan building hoping for a sideman’s job that day. Or those hoping Lil Walter would bring a minstrel from Halstead Street into the studio for a session of the creative blues music that became rock and roll.

Did it really? Or do you still believe that Bill Haley was first on the clock?

If you do, you must go see this movie – historical creative license and all – because they got it right. Young people who came to see Beyonce` were treated to a lesson about the roots of rock and roll (and saw her in a better performance than her last CD (or next).

I think some of the reality tidbits in the film more than make up for its creative license – like when Chuck Berry is listening to a radio and hears “Surfin USA” by the Beach Boys blaring out of one of Chicago’s payola stations. He says “Hey that’s my music” and becomes all upset about a guy named Brian Wilson stealing his tunes.
FACTOID – Chuck Berry’s name now appears as both composer and lyricist on that surf song – and gets all the royalties, too.

The scene that humbled me was the portrayal of all I’ve been trying to get at and say in my ‘hood story; that music of that era had something to do with enhancing race relations and seeing people as people. My rendering of self and that era used (and will use more) illustrations of those small elements – like the un-equal equals on the basketball court, etc.

But the writer and director of Cadillac Records ‘did it all’ in one 30 second scene. It was Chuck Berry (nicely played by Mos Def) on stage at the Chicago Theater. A chalk line and a police line, separating black and white teens, all crossing the line to intermingle and dance and share the joys of music with each other if even for one night – all to the strains of “Maybelline” (which came out of a country music song called “Ida Red”).
Thirty seconds of film depicting a ten year period of time and conveying exactly the right message – I’m very, very jealous.
And feel very, very good about having been there!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Reflective perspective

Glass doorknobs on bedroom doors with key locks
big green worms on tomato plants
a dime in hand for the newest "Uncle Scrooge" comic book
playing cards clipped on bike wheels with wooden clothes pins
the nurse in white with pins on her chest taking temperature with a glass thermometer tasting of alcohol
wild blackberry feasts in the back lot
the smell of blooming basswood trees
forts made with old chenille bedspreads and clothesline props
and just watching rain
Childhood excitements and Old man’s treasures
Little things that hold on to you and pull you back from today
Like sleep they renew
reflective perspective
-Jerry Wendt

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


I love sunny days

But I think more on rainy ones

except when they are also cold

Then I just want to sleep

and let life pass me by.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


I learned a lesson today .

Bad art is like moldy cheese.

You say nothing about it
because you know some people
will like it.

The Chinese believe that everything in life
needs a balance
I learned that
the balance for bad art is a good pizza

You’re on your own regarding the cheese

Saturday, July 12, 2008

twelfth 'hood

‘hood twelfth part
When Joey was recovering from his pneumonia he shared a hospital room with a guy who plays the piano in a jazz group who's hoping to make a life in making new music. Joey tells this guy that even if he's truly creative he's going to have to learn some other popular music and 'cover' some of the pop songs just to make some money; that people will not pay for unknown artists. You gotta pay your dues by playin live on the road and covering some music that people are already familiar with. Music unites other forms of expression and is re-produced for a lot of different reasons. I guess money is probably the biggest reason to ‘cover’ someone else because even a share of the recording can be worth big bucks. If its’ been covered, it has good roots.

But I told Joey that sometimes it’s not the money.
Gary Carawan first introduced “we shall overcome” to the student non-violent coordinating committee in Atlanta in 1960. Pete Seeger got the credit for writing what was first sung as a blues ode in the cotton fields. It became the anthem of the civil rights movement, a song with good roots and covered by a lot of artists but, the folks who picked the cotton never got paid! This tendency to copy and cover folk and especially rhythm and blues found its way through to rock and roll.

In my ‘hood there were only a couple of guys that knew about the origins of rock n’ roll in Chicago – Joey was one of those guys. Another was Carlo Orlandini who took me to a bar where ‘Howlin Wolf’ took the stage – a black man from Mississippi who could shudder your soul with a shout that is used by “rock” musicians around the world to this day. This bar was on Roosevelt Road and Damen Ave where Carlo risked my life though I didn’t know it. The three story apartment building housed a mid-fifties inner city juke joint that had live music on Saturday nights – and the place was packed with black men and women dressed up special

ready for................... a long night out.
I was just in high school, youngest person in the joint, but the men in the bar were watchful over me ‘cause they could see I’m lovin’ the music they feel. The ‘Wolf’ made my blood curl with those electrified and amplified guitar riffs and the wail he let loose in nearly every song. He played one called ‘I Asked for Water’ and he made it sound like he was really dyin’ on stage.

“Oh I asked her for water, she brought me gasoline
That the troublenst 'WOO-HOO' woman

that I ever seen
The church bell tollin’, hearse come drivin slow”

Years of searching for this song yielded a realization of blues and country roots to me. Songs from the delta and the fields and the mountains of Appalachia and the inner city streets were rarely written down. These musicians were not songwriters: they were storytellers. Tales passed to them over time by people unknown. In this way I’ve come to know more about cultures than I could ever know if their stories had not been put to music. The 'Wolf' song was not written down and I never found a recording of "I asked for Water" but when he sang it, I was living the music of my 'hood.

Carlo, who was about nineteen, was drinkin wine while I had a bottle of Coke that I drank very slowly ‘cause I didn’t have money. During the ‘Wolf’s break, Carlo went outside and had a ‘meeting’ with two other guys – it didn’t take too long and besides, I had the ‘Wolf’ howlin to me. Right after Carlo came back in he said we had to leave. It’s okay ‘cause I got about forty rich minutes of west side blues. I wished Bobby and Dom and Joey were with me.

Joey knew that Chicago blues/rock came out of Mississippi during the late forties into the sixties; he knew about this guitar man by the name of Bo Diddley, the self-proclaimed “Father of Rock and Roll” who showed up on the streets with his ego blistering up from his own heat. Well, Bo walked right into one of the producers’ studios on south Michigan Ave.; they let him play on his square guitar and then they threw him and his black hat out the door saying they couldn’t understand him. Joey says Bo walked straight across the street to another studio called Chess Records run by some Jewish fellas and he did 37 takes and recorded a song he wrote called “I’m a Man”

I’m a man, made twenty one
You know baby, we have lots of fun
All you pretty women, stand in line
I’ll make love to you, for an hour’s time
I’m a man, I spell m-a-n …. man!

Bo later wrote a song called 'Mona' and The Rolling Stones covered it on their first album and I’m thinkin they met at Chess?

(Yes, the same Chess Records building at 2120 S. Michigan Ave. where Chuck Berry recorded Johnny B. Goode and the Stones, in 1964, recorded their only instrumental and titled it ‘2120’.)

That record company that threw Bo onto the street was right about one thing; you gotta hear the poetry, the story in the song. First comes the verse – you shine a light to it and the words leap off the page and suddenly you see movement – the work now has physical space. It’s square, it’s round, it is red and yellow and morphs to glad and sad then ultimately shows its life as the poetry combines with the essentials of melody, harmony and rhythm to create tones and gives birth to new, until in that moment, never before heard combinations of word and sound, and only then it’s called

m u s i c

I remember ‘Louie, Louie’ reaching #1 and I can’t tell you why – maybe it was because the scene was so dry. Yes, it did have a good beat but you couldn’t understand the Richard Berry lyric as sung first by the Pharoahs, then the Kingsmen - when the song ended, you really didn't know what they had said – they’re worse than Bo!

I know folk music gives a lot to rock and roll but it isn’t their banjos or flat tuned guitars I’m talkin’ about; it’s their stories – their clarity, their meaning, their delivery – allowing repetition to somehow not sound boring. The stories in blues music is the heart rending verse of hard living, telling the story of survival through adversity in a tempo devised by magicians; country and western music’s got a million stories; jazz, not so much new stories as new styles of a story and gospel that shouts out their message in ‘world’ music. All of these are parts of what I’ve come to feel in my bones is so precious to me. Music moves me; it makes me glad all over; it makes me sad all over; love is better with it; hate is erased by it – I can dream with it, as it speaks to my spirit and I can work with it, it is my muse – it’s become one of the themes in my life.

“back beat, you can’t lose it”

It was not far from my ‘hood; straight east on Roosevelt Road, right past St. Ignatius hi-school, about a mile and a half to Halsted Street where a right turn would place you onto the mecca of ‘near west side blues’ –

______Maxwell Street!

Always considered part of my ‘near west side’ it’s different ‘cause it’s mostly all black with Jewish shop owners who always closed up before dark. I was never there after dark – only during the day did Joey and I go for the music.

Albert King was there. Little Walter and his blues harmonica was there. Buddy Guy and Junior Wells (who later moved south side) all met nearly every Sunday morning to play in an empty prairie between Halsted and the ‘Hill Street Blues’ police station on Morgan Street. There was always a drum set with the two guitars and harmonica though I never knew who those drummers were. Albert would almost always start up with a few licks to establish the bass beat and Lil Walter worked the chords on his harmonica searching for the right pitch. Then Buddy kicked in with his free wheeling style blues on his Fender guitar and Bassmans amp. He’d take the center and enter some vocal humming in the first few bars. Buddy’s poetry started a little soft until he knew he was pitched; only then to explode to an ear shattering volume. All amped and electrified as Buddy’s gunslinger technique took the lead with his fierce intensity. Buddy has a reputation as the man whose music could not be captured in a studio - studios were confining and left little room for improv. Buddy would string together eight chords and they would never again play out the same way. His call is to perform! Who could record with him?

Luther Allison always showed up late for these jams as third guitar and he plugged in to play to the prisoners in ‘the Hill’ three blocks away! Luther would walk in playin

“gotta move from the ‘hood
move away from the ‘hood
do it now or
your life ain’t no good”

There was never a lack of good guitar. There were sometimes four or five bands lookin for space to play and some good days you could find Robert Nighthawk and there was Sonny Boy Williams, Lightnin Hopkins and Daddy Stovepipe and local boys who would fill in and were lookin to learn from the masters.

The Master.
McKinley Morganfield.
AKA Muddy Waters.
– from Mississippi – with his electric guitar and his “mojo workin”.
The man who played “the right notes”. I never got to see him, but later bought his records. Muddy recorded with Chess Records and gave Bob Dylan and an international magazine and a British rock and roll Band their greatest gift –
a rolling stone
Anyone who wanted to learn the roots of blues/rock wanted to get next to him and learn from him – and he gave his wisdom, unselfishly, to many.

One of them was John Lee Hooker who came up to Chicago by way of Mississippi and Memphis and he didn’t know Muddy very long, but in a Chess studio he listened hard to the clear, uninterrupted masters’ chords. Together they recorded
“Big Leg Woman”.

She so fine, she so mellow, the rest I can’t explain
Way my baby stacked up
‘nough to drive a cat insane
she got great big legs, so pleasing to the eye
the preacher walked by, said my, my, my

Lonnie Johnson

Joey and I did see John Lee workin’ those chords one Sunday morning. John Lee came to Chicago about 1955 by way of Detroit so he had to break into the scene and his gig with Muddy did it for him. This Sunday, however, he sat on an old wooden chair right outside some diner, makin' his music and his name known on Maxwell Street and he opens
‘Boom Boom Boom Boom’

"i love the way you walk
i likes the way you talk"
John Lee

and the folk on the street gathered ‘round.
Albert King showed up and they jammed and finally they did 'Born Under a Bad Sign'

"bad luck and trouble's my only friend

I been down ever since I was ten

if it wasn't for bad luck

i'd have no luck at all"

Booker T. Jones

I had the musical experience of my young life –
in the open air

it sounded and smelled like my city on the streets of my ‘hood.

It is amazing how the music of these men from Mississippi turned Chicago and Chess Records into legends. As I’ve listened to this music from my ‘hood over the years, I’ve come to realize how much of their original music from Mississippi that was awakened by plugged in guitars and electrified amps and new found freedoms all served as the most fertile roots ever for today’s’ rock and roll. My ‘near west side’ inner city provided cover material for so many great rock musicians: the Stones and Clapton and Zeppelin..............

makes me

"glad all over"

It’s now September 26 and James Meredith will make his second attempt to open the doors at Ole Miss.

Friday, July 11, 2008


I like to smell grass.
Feel the touch of lips on mine.
Hear laughter.
And see just everything right now
Because it all ends
and you don’t get to know

-Jerry Wendt

Monday, July 7, 2008


A re-Write by Lou Stanek, based on an original story by Bob Kowalski and reviewed and panned by Jerry Wendt.

They lurk all around the house. -- mechanisms, gadgets, contraptions, the devices of life, and there’s no escape from them. Every corner is infested with skulking, snickering inventions, calling to me, tempting me with their levers or wheels or bolts. Finally, I succumb. I’m a man. How can I resist? What danger can these intruders hold for a mature adult?
And that’s when they bust me.
It's not that I have multiple thumbs; it’s more like gas on the brain, or a shameful birth defect.!
My wife has this chair that turns into a ladder after its done being an ironing board.
I can't close it! After all the tinker toys and Lincoln Logs and Erector Sets that prepare boys to be men, I'm stymied by this low tech device of life that she went out of her way to find in a junk store called the Fuzzy Pig. This ironing board / bench / ladder / chair doesn't even have an electric cord, let alone a self powered logic chip… Not like her broken laptop computer that she hands me along with a hi-tech screwdriver, saying, "it probably just needs tightening".
She assumes that being born a guy equates to a genetic affinity for hand tools. She believes all it takes to "fix the fridge" is desire and "something in that tool room of yours.” “Just fix the humidity setting so the cheese doesn't turn green".............WHAT!!

Like I don't care if the kids get dead from eating old green cheese? What do I know about humidity? Has humidity become a device of life?
Then, as if house things aren’t enough to baffle me, along comes “The Beast”, the ultimate device of life; the four-wheeled invention that replaced walking as a daily human activity. So many colors, so many shapes -- you can get one from Korea or England or Italy or France or Mexico or Germany or Brazil -- So many “beasts,” all with electronic ignitions and transaxle alignments and power windows. I don't even have power windows in my house. “Beast” ads promise glamour, happy memories, individual expression , the realization of all our dreams! I buy one. Then comes reality. My “Beast” sits empty, quiet, - silent in an un-ignited state, patiently waiting for new ways to bust me. I often stare defiantly at the monster, then sigh and just give up The last time I successfully fixed anything on a car was when my father showed me where to pour the water into the radiator. This device of life, warns me in writing that I may not even open the cap without a special instrument. AND, when "they of the instruments" do so, they pour in a pea-yellow-green liquid for which I pay twelve dollars a gallon. What, may I ask, was wrong with my dad’s tap water? This process, I can at least explain - though I am not actually allowed to do it without violating the warranty. But imagine how badly I get busted when my wife re-creates a sound and carefully explains where it comes from and all I can say - (dull-wittedly) - is "did you change the oil"?These encounters with the devices of life go on and on. They’re never-ending.. I thought it would be better now that my kids are grown. Instead, I have a dark notion that my granddaughters knows far more than I do about the devices of life, like the iPod and the
electronic servants her dad has installed in their “smart house”. She’s already relegating that hard won and time tested phrase, "Grandpa will fix it" to the dusty attic of dead platitudes to stand beside “Be good. Santa’s coming.” and “It won’t hurt a bit!” Meanwhile, she flashes me a giant smile. She’s too polite to shout,


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

'hood 11

'hood 11
President Kennedy was not in a very good spot!
It’s a good thing he’s a young man and can handle stress.
It’s like this - he had three things to worry about that were happening outside the country. (foreign policy things) There was the failure of the Bay of Pigs that happened three months after he took office and it caused Fidel Castro to look more to the Soviet Union and Nikki as an ally to support his new revolutionary government. Castro called Bay of Pigs the first defeat of Yankee imperialism. Jack knew nothing of the amateur invasion that was funded, secretly, by the CIA, yet he had to eat the public outcry over its failure and lose face and influence over a new government in Cuba. Then the Berlin Wall got built beginning in August of 1961 and it became a symbolic and actual barrier in the Iron Curtain. Jack could only make some polite protests even though a treaty had been signed at Potsdam. The wall ended up being 96 miles long and had guard posts all along it to watch for East Germaners trying to cross. Then Jack took a beating in Vienna from Nikki over the secret war in Laos – we gave half the country to the communists and even that didn’t stop them from spreading their influence, and allied troops, to another country called Viet Nam and we already were getting in over our head there. With all this bad stuff happening in such a short period of time, Jack believed that another failure on the part of the United States to stop communist expansion would destroy our allies trust and damage his own reputation.

Even small triumphs turned into shit; like the time – July 23rd 1962 – that Jack and the President of France were going to exchange the first Trans-Atlantic television broadcast. The technology people and politicians and a few of the Camelot celebrities were all on hand for a small incursion into their “New Frontier” and Jack was late. Seems that we could only broadcast when the Telstar satellite covered a certain range in order for the beam to reach both sides. Somebody in a responsible position gave the President the wrong time to be there. The French President was in place, expecting to see the U.S. President. Pols and techs were running around the U.S. offices tryin to do something, when finally a tech guy found a strong enough signal to send up to Telstar. It was the Chicago Cubs – they were playin the Philadelphia Phillies and the French delegation saw Tony Taylor fly out to George Altman. When Nikita Khrushchev found out he wasn’t invited to the party he was pissed off. That anger turned to glee when he found out that the President of France had to watch a baseball game – hell, they don’t even play baseball in France!

A song afar fades in a dream
In this night that will end too soon

Midnight in Moscow”

Plus, the desegregation trauma

amongst our own people was growing.

# # # # # # # # # # ## # # # # ##

Marie introduced me to a fellow named Jerry Buss who we walked with from the restaurant. He was known as an ‘activist’ on campus and he was preparing a document that would be copied and passed out to people who were against the U.S. getting involved in the wars in south east Asia. He had a lot of information that he said came from his brother who’s in the U.S. Air Force working directly for a general named Curtis LeMay and that sounded, to me, like a pretty reliable source.
Here’s what Jerry told me: that after the Laos agreement (I guess everyone at the table lied), the U.S. Air Force began helping the South Vietnam troops beginning in late 1961. There were different ‘actions’ going on in 1962; one was called ‘Farmgate’ – the U.S. was doing combat training and support missions for the North Viet Nam army; another one called ‘Mule Train’ was carrying and dropping supplies to strange named places like Pleiku; and ‘Ranch Hand’ where big C-123’s flying out of Laos began defoliation of roads and trails (like the Ho Chi Minh trail) using something called Agent Orange. Lastly, the Bell helicopters began missions in April, 1962;
they were dropping South Viet Nam soldiers into North Viet Nam. Two helicopters got shot down and after eight American soldiers died the general ordered our guys to shoot first!

McNamara came back from Viet Nam in July and told Jack, “We are winning the war”. Jack became more determined to "draw a line in the sand" and prevent a communist victory in Vietnam. He said now we have a problem with the way the world sees our power and Vietnam looks like the place to take a stand, so Jack increased the number of U.S. military in Vietnam from 800 to 16,300.

Jerry Buss said it could only get worse unless something were to stop it now.

If I had a hammer
I’d hammer in the morning
I’d hammer in the evening
I’d hammer out danger, I’d hammer out warning
Peter, Paul & Mary
# # # # # # # # # # # # # #
It’s not that we were drinking or smoking dope – we should have been tired after the dinner and the walk under the stress of that fight at the no name and listening to Jerry Buss but we arrived at 85 Mount Vernon and set passions free onto each other. Our bodies engaged in an intense battle to keep up with the demands of our desires; I cannot recall a moment in time when I lost every point of reference to the purity and tenderness of making love; replaced with wanton carnal lust. I moved into her and our glow seemed red. Arms around each other again, it felt like this was the place I could live forever. I could both hear and feel her breath and it sounded searing as she raised her arms and moved that thick lowering lock of hair back toward and over her ear. I lay soft against her skin listening to the rhythm of our heart. I held inside her and the pulsing of her hips created a heightening of emotions sweeping into and through me that I passed on to her. Drained, we slept and when I awoke I stood; seeing her lying naked and wanting her again. It is plain to me that I desire to feel that connection again, but I wonder, unknowingly and naively, if we should – is there a rule for counting or other measure I should know of?
There were flowers in small vases on the sill of her lone window, finally fragrant to me though nearby all the time we loved. I had prayed the morning please not come, but was changed when she turned to me beaming like the first day we met. The bouquet of those flowers, emboldened by the sunrise, and wanting to adorn her body in some way - burst their petals to become as bright as her smile.
Marie says to me “I am a woman in love".
a woman in love, woman in love
I put my life in music
my heart is like a song
Paul Baillargeon

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

hood#3 At The Skylark

'hood#3 At The Skylark
Sunday mornings we ate at church – father Joey started very promptly at 10:00 and by 10:05 we’d given our order to Josie who was always our waitress (till she had her baby). Joey said Mass in place of Father Anthony and he would finish just as the eggs and pancakes hit the table. Sometimes we would need three booths, especially when the girls started coming. Bobby Seirs, one of us smooth 'Four Bloods' would never come to The Skylark until he heard the girls showed up and from then on he was a regular. Fact is, more girls came when they heard he was there. Bobby was probably the best looking guy in the ‘hood. He had that wavy hair and black leather jacket that looked just like Marlon Brandos jacket in the wild one motorcycle movie. Most of us guys surrounded Joey because most of the girls hung with Bobby were hoping for a date with him – or at least a good make out behind the casket company. There was a dark loading dock at the alley where if you wanted you could get down in the corner and not even a shadow could be seen of two people. I went there once with Marie but we didn’t stay ‘cause she’s got too much class and revolted at the thought of making love our first time at the back of some factory that made coffins – me, I wanted to stay
i'm itchin like a man on a fuzzy tree
my hands are shaky, my knees are weak
i can't seem to stand on my own two feet
i'm all shook up
…… well; we continued our search.

The Skylark was our church and Joey was our priest. Every Sunday he had something new to tell us attesting to the underlying truth that not all of us were there for the chicks. This particular Sunday's homily captivated Dominic because Joey’s pet fear about Sputniks in space was the topic. About a year after he was elected, John Kennedy had this meeting with Nikita Khrushchev about the two countries getting together on a space program. Well, the Russians were way ahead of us already and Nikita felt he shouldn’t be sharing space secrets. Now here’s the thing we didn’t know – and hardly anyone knew. After Nikita said nyet, Johns father, Joe Kennedy had a talk with Nikita’s father, Sergei Kruschev, and they came up with a strategy for putting pressure on Nikita. Shortly after the meeting in May of 1961, Congress got the message that “we should make it a national priority to land a man on the moon and return him to earth safely” and from that day forward JFK made a lot of speeches about a space program. We heard him say “No nation that expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in the race for space”. That’s how we came to have a “space race”. Nikita was pissed – he aimed some missiles at Cuba and JFK had to send up a militia. Nikita banged his shoe in protest and it was after that they began to talk about space again. How Joey ever found out about the Sergei meeting is still a mystery. Dominic reasoned it was probably alderman Marzullo.
# # # # # # # # # #
Marie was brought up in a very open-minded home. Her mom always encouraged her to do whatever made her feel both right and good. Her dad would talk to me about the civil rights movement and the freedom riders (shit, I was gonna graduate high school this year and didn’t he know he was making me feel bad because I wasn’t going south to join the protests - and did that make me a lesser person in his eyes)? This thought hurt me because I hung on this mans' every word.

Things were heating up again – John and his brother Bobby had Martin Luther King released from jail right after they got elected. JFK couldn’t do too much too quick because he figured that if he angered the Southern Democrats, the laws he wanted didn’t stand a chance in the Congress. Marie’s dad didn’t see it that way. He thought our new president was suddenly not supportive enough of civil rights activists. Me? When Marie came into the room I didn’t even know he was talking. It was Friday night and we were going to the dance at St. Michaels. She dressed in slacks and a white top and while revealing nothing, showed all of her beauty. She changed her hair every time we were going to dance. She would take its’ length all into one hand and put a rubber band around it and let it fall to a glorious shiny black pony tail.
The dances this year were bogus.
Every time Father Anthony could play something new, all he had was either Connie Francis or Ricky Nelson. The Twist by Chubby Checker and Runaway by Del Shannon were the only up-tempo songs of the year that hit the top of the charts. One of our favorites he still played was 'At The Hop' by Danny and the Juniors and we’d really hit the floor for 'Do You Want to Dance'. The rest of the new music for a couple of years was horrible; the only good thing about the dances at St. Michaels was slow-dancing with Marie. Some good ones for holding each other were 'Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow' by the Shirelles and 'Are You Lonesome Tonight', by The King and almost anything by Sam Cooke – but please, NOT 'Cathy’s Clown' or 'Theme from a Summer Place'. So much crap was coming out that had a symphony orchestra playing a sound THEY called rock n' roll - they didn't even have one guitar!

Marie told me that all last year she had bought only one album (Elvis is Back) and two 45’s because music became submissive (I knew we were meant for each other)!
To think that Heart Break Hotel came out in ’56 and it took five years to get Dirty Dirty Feeling and It Feels So Right on an album. The 45 releases of these songs went nowhere because most radio stations wouldn’t play ‘em and the stores wouldn’t stock ‘em. And Father Anthony couldn’t play 'em cause he couldn't find where to buy 'em.
We were seventeen and seniors and had all this heavy shit to think about not the least of which was where are we going to college. We really didn’t want to talk about it and later on we found that it was best thing we could have done. Yes, JFK was making lots of speeches and many of us were inspired and thought this was what real leadership was about. I think a good example would be the speech that motivated Nikita. JFK said, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy but because they are hard”. The hardest things had nothing to do with the science of space and rockets - and real leadership had just been released from jail. The hardest thing was all about doing the right thing for “our fellow man”. That was one of Marie's dad's favorite phrases. We could see on the TV that the right things weren’t happening, yet it was so hard to know how to make it right. Marie’s dad was all behind the student sit-ins that began in 1960.
We saw students of all races marching and as they’d turn the corner, likely to be faced down by police commissioners and their cop cronies (who had dogs). After harassing the freedom riders during the day, the cops would abandon their posts so that those guys in white covering could have their turn. Yes, Mississippi was burning and the fed wasn’t doing the right thing either. JFK’s brother Bobby wiretapped Martin Luther King in ’61 in one of the only times he and the FBI guy J. Edgar Hoover ever talked.

What the fuck was goin on?

This was a ball of confusion wound as tight as that gordian knot. Hoover couldn’t find any Communist ties to Martin Luther King and it wasn’t till after Alabama that they stopped tapping his phone. But in 1961 came the first big time movement in Albany, Georgia? The Albany Movement hit the lunch counters, the libraries, the train stations; this was about much more than votes, this was about doing the right thing in so many ways. MLK was there, alright, but he left after one day. Marie's dad called ML every name in the book for abandoning Georgia and leaving the young people in the student non-violent coordinating community to take the heat: right when he could’ve helped. Her dad was really mad.
# # # # # # # # # # # #
Bobby Siers was hurt; badly – they took him to the hospital in an ambulance and there were three police cars in front of The Skylark. Joey and me were running across Cermak Road and we saw about twenty people already were there and more were coming. When I saw the blood on the sidewalk and heard the cops and my friends yelling at each other and saw Dominic get hit with a baton I was ready to jump in but Joey grabbed me right around my shoulders and turned me around. I bit hard my lip to focus my mind which was in rage right now, mostly because of Bobby’s blood.
Is he dead?
The Skylark regularly closed at ten p m because the neighborhood wanted all the kids home by curfew and the owner knew that cooperating with the men of the ’hood was the right thing to do. It was ten-twenty.
Bobby and Carm and Sandy were leaving for the casket company when three guys moved into their path. Both girls shouted out at them while Bobby kept his eyes moving from their eyes to their hands then one came flashing out silver slashing sharp toward his face catching his rising arm slitting his leather. He raised his leg and kicked right at the guy with the blade and another guy grabbed his retreating ankle and pulled Bobby down. That was it – stabbed three times. The bright lights from The Skylark preserved the red stain right next to where Carm held him on her lap while Sandy went back in to get help. Now Dominic was downed when he tried to go through the police line to care for his blood brother and only the fierce threatening looks from the cops kept the rest of us from jumping in. Out of the crowd came Carlo and he grabbed Tony Castellano and they peeled away in his 57 Chevy. The police were now putting up some rope and trying to disperse a growing crowd. Tomasino pushed his way to the sergeant and looked right at him and said “lay off, I’ll get everyone away”. You didn’t cross TEE, he was the man and his payback was swift and certain.
# # # # # #
I know today that no other love is found as easily as Marie and I found ours. There was this one song called 'At Last' by Etta James that talks about a love that has finally come – it was a lot like ours in one way; we still wait for the sexual expression of our love. Etta savors her newfound love and we get it when she says “life is like a song”. Her joy and our anticipation in harmony.

Bad blood flowed as red rivers in America - north and south.

'hood, another part

Dominic was ecstatic.
John F. Kennedy got elected
and The King came back from Germany.
My life was confusion; a compass spiraling in directions I couldn’t control and didn’t understand. These were days and months of a sixteen-year-old lifetime dragging to sixteen and a half. The roots of my restless period are found in a Billboard release of the “Top Five”. Pat Boone was rated # 1 and Elvis was second and I was in free fall; ultimately saved by Marie and 'Satisfaction' with a lot of pain and smiles in between.
Marie was soft; her breast pressed my breast, her hair lay on my face and I breathed in her gentle intensity. This moment promising to extinguish our uncertainty and timidity, holding firm we did not falter. I longed for this instant, though not knowing where next to go, her delicate strong hand stroking my neck and falling to my shoulder while she pulled me to her. There was no confusion in this embrace and we reeled with heightening intensity seeking the next moment. It came upon release to witness the excitement in each other’s eyes. Fixed, we didn’t move; we learned and cherished how this felt while we began to breathe again. I knew and she wanted what was to come next and I reached out with my hand to her chest, onto her breastbone, from clavicle onto the side of her breasts. Our eyes vulnerable as I felt the woman’s body at her round shoulders, following her lines across her rounded breasts, down to her hip onto her belly and up to her eyes – its sultry touch came to define beauty.
Now if you love me, please don't tease
if I can hold them, let me squeeze
You leave me aaahhhhhhhh
Jerry Lee Lewis

The next period, 16 ¼, rocked me when Billboard proclaimed “Volare” the song of the year and Elvis was #2, again. A fuckin step backwards and all the whiteman DJ’s were ecstatic that the devil and his swivel were confronting demise and his end was near. Who knows, "Doggie in the Window " might make a comeback. But we weren’t giving up and the next Top 100 sent its own shockwave when "Wooly Bully " scandalized our parents and General Motors pulled their ads. It’s all right because Phillip Morris was singing for our side and Dave Clark hi-jacked Bandstand from Philadelphia to take it on the road as American with Beach Boys and Bobby Darin – both a little lame and tame but heading in the right direction. Joey, our street priest, knew all along that this was temporary -
then Elvis recorded 'I’m Back'
He unleashed the fullness of his talents and Joey reminded us that the Top Ten meant only that - the first ten. All we needed to do was read further down the list to find Little Richard who blew the lid off the fifties and the rythyms of Bo Diddley and Buddy Holly and Fats Domino and the everlasting Chuck Berry and Roy Orbison and the Devil himselfJerry Lee Lewis who married his fourteen year old cousin.
“Great Balls of Fire”
and Joey, always educating us, pursuing balance, reminded us of our enemies – Pat Boone who actually released a recording of Blue Suede Shoes (and the payola stations played it)! Tony Diono threw his transistor radio at a brick wall and stomped on it ‘til Pat died. The other demons were Tab Hunter and Brenda Lee. Tony destroyed his entire album collection the day she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with a tune called “I’m Sorry”. Fuck, she, and they, should be!There was another movement that Joey was trying to get some focus on. His cousin from Minnesota told him about a young rock n’ roller named Zimmerman who traded in his electric guitar and amplifier for an acoustic. Seems he was attracted to the folk music of Seeger and Guthrie; further influenced by three writers called beatniks. One of ‘em was a guy named Ginsberg who wrote some really rebellious poetry (and some of it was pretty dirty too ‘cause his book got banned a few years back ) and the only place you could buy it was London or San Franciso. Later, Joey got a copy – it was called “Howl” - and we figured out “beatnik” meant “on the beat”. Their movement lasted into the coffe house times but their music didn’t match rock n’ roll and I figured that three writers do not a movement make!Unless they’re songwriters - and Zimmerman was.

Marie made a difference. We were searchers of our days and nights and found each others fondness on the street and in our hands. I loved her; she was soft. We helped each other deal with our bodies touching and we felt a flame in the boldness of each encounter. I leaned into her and we moved till our lips met slowly yet softly with certainty; breathing harder as we pressed. Her strong rounded shoulders rolled downward to full breasts that, as I cupped them, served as a chalice for beads of her perspiration. I would drink from those pools and become thirsty for her love, only to suffer of our passions; our nest exposed.
Cedar Lake
Holly, Bopper, Valens in cold wind; pioneers, gone.
Buddy and his band were the first white people to play at the Apollo Theater in Harlem since the big band era. Buddy said, “if it weren’t for Elvis, none of us would be here”. Now he’s not here but Elvis is - Buddy had a #1 a couple years back called
'that’ll be the day'.
It was one of the songs his band did on tour in Liverpool, England at a club where two guys named John Lennon and Paul McCartney were in the audience.

my day to be lost, a whole generation’s worth

The charts are so lying. I don’t have the money to gig the rank of a song by buying it but Allen Freed and other DJ’s are committed to rock n’ roll and the radio is free to me – it’s become my toy! Somehow Bossa nova jumped across the network airwaves, appealing to jazz people who found no musical fulfillment in their local coffee house. Joey told me about Ipanema type love music and Marie and I tried it but Bossa died quickly of dispassion because the coffee house poetry just does not mesh with Bossa rhythms. I knew the back beat could support the poetry – I could feel it – why couldn’t the 'hood hear it?

and Zimmerman switched
but this time he had a following and his people were not happy. After all, Joni Mitchel didn’t sell out to the back beat rhythms that were too loud for the confined spaces!
An anthem hit the streets that made the distinction clear – if it’s too loud, you’re too old! Coffee houses were meant for delicate strumming and extended storytelling. Rock and roll never let up and the newer electric gear filled open spaces with newer, very raw sounds that came from blues and country and gospel and a lotta folk lyrics – except for the “roll” part which meant sex!

We were good kids. We did all the right shit for our parents (which began to fall apart the night when Bobby Siers and me went to a black party on Christmas Eve instead of Midnite Mass). Good grades and all. Marie and I were hot for each other. Like there was that night where we sat in the shadows on the entry stoop of an old Methodist church that didn’t make it in our neighborhood and our hands were at places we’d never been before. We kissed so hard that our lips swelled the next day. We lay on the stoop, our bodies hotter than the summer nights swelter that came on us and eventually even our fingertips dripped. Still, there was nowhere to go.

He sang those songs because beautiful people began to die and we were lost. Where would we be going without his words.


they are a' changin"

'hood, one part

‘ hood
During the early years of Elvis and Little Richard but before the Beatles, we grew up in an area in central Chicago searching for its’ own identity. Like when someone asked you what part of Chicago were you from, you didn't have an easy answer like Lincoln Park or Rogers Park or Uptown or even Bridgeport where the Mayor lived throughout his five elections and our lifetime. We lived in the harmless sounding "near west side" – surrounded by produce terminals, the sanitary drainage canal and railroad tracks to either side.
Mayor Daley didn't campaign in our neighborhood because it wasn't necessary. Vito Marzullo, the alderman and boss of our 25th ward, got out the vote always in numbers far greater than registered voters. Vito, in his latter years as dean of the city council, was invited to Harvard University where he lectured on practical politics; such as empowering the precinct captains with the delivery of garbage cans or handing out jobs - like being the pick and shovel man on a curb and gutter crew.
One of my blood brothers was Dominic - he is Italian and I am Lithuanian, (most of us were one or the other) - well, he had his sights on becoming part of the Daley machine when he got out of the Army. He was in about the same time as Elvis but he never saw him. Dom got an honorable discharge and became an assistant precinct captain, which meant he would also have a job working for the city - except on election days when he was a chauffeur to the polling places.
He had a real passion for this calling and he would assist people in pulling the levers on the voting machine. Of course, Dominic swore he was doing no wrong and most of the people in the neighborhood felt exactly the same way. All through our young lives we knew the President was a Republican and everything else was Democratic. Dominic was inspired to work hard this campaign because one of our blood brothers Joey Margiola told him he was having trouble sleeping ever since the Russians put "the Sputnik" into space. Joey did all kinds of cerebral thinking and we had a lot of faith in him because he would read magazines all the time and he read a lot of books, too. So, in 1960 Vito and the Democratic machine and guys like Dominic got out the vote to elect John F. Kennedy and the rest of the country helped them do it.
But this 'near west side' thing was the real challenge for us; you see, the voters constantly turned out 88% Democratic (the other 18% Republican) so we never made the news as a "key" precinct; therefore, we never got named. There was a local newspaper that ran a banner proclaiming the area "The Heart of Chicago" except nobody outside the neighborhood ever read it and so, like if you were at a dance on the North Side and said you were from the "Heart of Chicago" it didn't help.

I think the only place in the city you could find other people from "the Heart" was Twelfth Street beach in the summertime. The sand beach wasn't the greatest, but it was big, and the waves carried little grimy-bits that stayed on you when you got out. It has a large grassy hill and meadow between Miegs field and the Planetarium – a great spot for getting sun and watching the girls. We could just put some cocoa butter on and soak up the rays or we could do something masculine like throw a softball around and onto the blanket of some good looking babe so we could check her out.

Every year this chick named Sandy was there and she had the darkest suntan and the greatest knockers we'd ever seen and a radio that played all the 'right' songs. She was slim, tall, blonde and dark from the sun and cocoa butter mix and she was forever sixteen. Bobby Siers worked hard at being as brown and would go out early in the morning to get a perfect spot on the hill, maximizing the angles of the sun and its rays. Joey would throw a ball onto Sandy’s blanket so Bobby Siers – the last of the ‘Four Bloods’, - could go over and hold his arm next to hers. He never quite made her color and would walk away with the ball and humming the song from her radio would say to us "Wait till next week and I'll ask her for a date".

Cooling Bobby down was easy at Twelfth Street beach by walking out to "the rocks" to dive into the chilly waters of Lake Michigan and swim out far enough to make the lifeguards uneasy. It's for sure they had no desire to swim out to the cold waters and eventually we would honor their frantic whistling and head back. But, Joey and Bobby and Dominic and me and this other guy named Chuck would go to the other side of the Planetarium where there were no lifeguards and we could swim straight west to the Aquarium.
Then one time out Chuck said we had no balls if we didn't try for the breakwater. It looked kind of far to the rest of us but Chuck said we could do it. I didn't always trust his judgement but I never doubted his courage. When we were thirteen he broke his arm as I ran over him with a bicycle. He never held it against me so I figured this was a guy who wouldn't let me drown. So, we swam to the breakwater that formed a harbor for the boats anchored across from Buckingham Fountain. Their white sails sparkled like diamonds in the bright sun. My eyes watered, the diamonds got bigger and I promised myself a handful.
It was a lot tougher swim than we had imagined; struggling against an unknown current, we finally reached the breakwater and when the grime next to the concrete filled our hands we felt it to be quite slimy - not at all like the rough cut of a diamond. We climbed, exhausted, onto the concrete lifesaver while our stubbornness, courage and strength faded. We waited; ….to signal for help from one of the passing boats.
As they helped us into their boat, they at first thought we capsized and that we swam to the breakwater for safety. Joey told them we had no boat and just needed help ashore and we could see a concern come over their faces as if they had just picked up a band of pirates.
Nobody I knew in "the Heart" had a sailboat, so this was my first time in one. I coveted both it and the pretty, young ladies aboard breaking two commandments at the same time. Joe was watching me check out one of the chicks and said to me "It's for sure you're going to burn in hell".

For all we knew Hell was being manufactured right in our neighborhood in an abandoned trolley car facility on 24th street. From the early nineteen hundreds to the early fifties electric cables criss-crossed the city powering what we called streetcars cars that ran on tracks down the middle of our streets. This sprawling barn was for maintenance and repair of those cars for the southwest side of Chicago’s transportation system. We saw the tracks paved over with asphalt and the car barns were slowly converted to accommodate buses. The last trolley rolled out on the flatbed of a truck – the tracks were gone when it left. By 1959 the barn was downsized even for bus maintenance and nobody knew what was going on inside. The Chicago Daily News ran a story about how the hottest temperature ever recorded was generated below the ground right there in that old brick and steel barn. It was time for Vito to act! His heat, however, was saved for us.
Presiding at a nervous community meeting, the classy, portly and bespectacled Vito Marzullo, speaking broken English, accused us of overreacting and standing in the way of progress. Johnny Torino asked, "Please tell us what is really going on"?
Vito said, "You woudn' unnestan; so I'm a no tella you to make lies".
"But are we in danger? What about our drinking water? What about our children", Johnny asked?
Vito started to turn red and shook three fingers right at Johnny and said, "Whenna you come to me an you ask me "Alderman, is everything O.K.", an I say "yes", …. don' ask me nomore. You got da annsr".
He walked away from the makeshift podium, right out of the building. In two days, the cars that came for years stopped coming and I saw four trucks pull out one night at about two thirty and head straight toward Western Avenue.
Hell came and went - it didn't feel any different when it was gone.
Dominic told us that it was the alderman had listened to us and took swift action to make the neighborhood safe for the children. People started to talk about the whole deal and figured if Vito couldn't tell us what was going on how could he have done something about it. Cerebral Joey tried to tell Dominic to cool his rhetoric, but Dom said it would get votes for Kennedy. They didn't need that story to get the vote but Dom continued to make a hero of Vito Marzullo. It was a good story at Harvard - told from "the heart".
A nod to Stuart Dybeck - who lived and grew in a parallel universe

Thursday, June 12, 2008

'hood 10

Guys in the ‘hood got their first suit when you graduated from grammar school. Most suits didn’t fit; on purpose. The pants were long (we had to pull‘em up) and the shoulders always drooped. You had time to grow into it because you were a ‘growing boy’ and for those of us who didn’t grow fast enough we would roll up the cuffs over the wrist. Rolling up the pant cuffs really did look bad, so you didn’t do it. Probably wouldn’t wear it again till next spring at weddings or on Easter. Certainly you weren’t going to wear it to high school.
There were three schools to go to. The serious boy Catholics went to St. Rita and the serious girl Catholics went to Maria. The rest of us poor heathen went to Tech along with people from other neighborhoods with different nationalities and races and religions. My experiences at Tech were to prepare me for my adult life, said my mom. The old man told me it would teach me how to get a job. I knew kids who went to college and I asked my dad about it and he wondered out loud if any of the hoodlums in this ‘hood ever made it through high school. How could he know? He wasn’t around all that much and mom relied on us kids a lot for a lot of different things. The old man worked a good job at the factory but never came home till late –could be he's hungry. It’s not like he had hobbies; he didn’t go to the bowling ally and he didn’t go to the clubs where the men would sit out and tell stories – and he didn’t drink, either. Where was he? After a while, I didn’t care.

I actually did get a job the first summer after grammar school – cleaning the butcher's basement at the end of every day; six days a week. While there was blood to be easily wiped up, the other……..forget about it! It only took about an hour and a half. You know, when ya got a job, your ma is always on ya to learn how to save some money and your old man is lookin for you to start buyin your own shoes. This second hand bike came up for sale and I wanted it - thinking I would save street car money to and from the beach. Dad said I went to the beach too much. Who was gonna pay for all the school supplies for Tech? Bobby Siers wasn’t workin and I’ll bet he’d have pencils when time came!

Sure enough, it was the first day of high school, registration day, and I had not yet worn that suit and I had to buy my own pencils and I never rode that bicycle. Joey and Bobby Siers and Dom and me all walked together straight down 24th street through other neighborhoods; across Western, across Washtenaw, across California until Tech loomed up in front of us. This building held three thousand students and the population was very diverse. There were a lot of people here. A lot of different people here.
# # # # # # # # # #

Kids in Little Rock, Arkansas were registering right at the same time. There were only nine colored kids wanting to sign up at Central High – nine brave kids – but the white people of Little Rock wouldn’t let them register at Central High; they had to go to their own school. They’ve been trying to get into Central for a couple years now. In 1954 there was a Brown vs. Education Board case in the Supreme Court that said “separate but equal” was not good enough anymore and the Board people of Little Rock had to follow the law and said these “Little Rock nine” could go to Central High with “all deliberate speed”. But, on this first day, the Governor, Mr. Orval Faubus sends the National Guard to surround the school because some angry white people from around the state were coming to Little Rock and he needed to keep them and the kids away! That NAACP lawyer Thurgood Marshall gets a federal judge to tell the governor to let the students in to classes in accordance with Supreme Court law and the governor spits.

Her name is Elizabeth Eckford and this was her first day of high school. Just like me; first day.
She took a bus; I walked with the guys. When she got off the bus, she saw something was wrong. She was a lone Negro student – all others there were white. Mobs of people screamed and tussling Guardsmen surrounded her as she looked to the faraway entrance of the magnificent castle-like school. Why are you here, people yelled? Did they call you? She knows she’s to go to this school on this day and begins to walk up the long stairs. Blocked by the mob, she turns to get back on the bus and someone spits on her. She keeps goin’ to the bus – all this happening ‘cause her family's too poor to have a telephone. I’ll remember this story every time someone tells me about the different ways of being rich. Elizabeth is wealthy!

President Eisenhower federalizes the National Guard. Now, how smart is that? Not too much I guess because after days of rioting they go home and he has to call in the 101st Airborne Division and Gov. Faubus calls them “an Army of occupation”. They sure looked like one: airborne troops in helicopters with M-1 rifles and bayonets. The mob of people were yelling “two, four, six, eight, we ain’t gonna integrate” and threw bricks and stones and bottles at the soldiers. So the next Monday, the start of regular classes, the ‘Little Rock nine’ come together and the 101st Airborne gets them through the front entrance. The mob went crazy and beat some colored reporters while mothers screamed to their children “Come out! Don’t stay in there with them colored people” and before noontime the ‘nine’ were going out the rear entrance.

Then things got worse.
An editor of the Arkansas Gazette described what was going on, “Easy to explain in one sentence. The police have been routed, the mob is in the streets and we’re close to a reign of terror”.

Ike was on TV explaining why the U.S. Army invaded Little Rock. I wished some could come to Tech tomorrow. For now, I had to go find Joey.

# # # # # # #

I found him at the club goin face to face with Dom over whose man did the hotter music. It was classic Elvis vs. Jerry Lee stuff with the current frenzy being who had the most explosive opening – was it the King and his “Hound Dog” or was it the Killer with “Great Balls of Fire”?
Joey was selling the Kings act as two minutes of intense, malicious glee and Dom saw the Killer as a wild white singer with a pumpin’ piano.
And it went on with ones’ song outshining the others’.
From “Heartbreak Hotel” sliding up the fret board to “Whole Lotta Shakin Goin’ On” bangin down the key board. It was “All Shook Up” and “Little Sister” standing tall to Killers masterpiece, “Breathless” which, as performed by Jerry Lee doin the stool kick-out while his elbows banged the ivory, got Dick Clark in trouble for havin Jerry Lee as the headliner for his prime-time bandstand.

“Breathless” is pure power rock filled with certainty and sexuality while exuding white country drawl in the black mans soul shout. Rock and roll was not ready for “live” Jerry Lee.
When Jerry Lee does “High School Confidential” he orders his woman to get her dancing shoes on before the juke box blows a fuse. The music stops; he sings; sweating through his thick golden mass of hair he hammers the keyboard and the song is so fast it stuns people as his voice is crying out ‘heartbreak’.
This is not sock hop music and little girls better get off the streets.
He was so hot; his voice will never die!
Jerry was blackballed on radio because he married his thirteen year old cousin and I think Buddy Holly wrote a song about it. Joey had a stacked deck though; the Elvis song list simply outlasted the Killer's collection. Dom couldn't win against Elvis. I took Joey aside to talk about tomorrow.

# # # # # #

We walked up the steps at Tech and there were some of the ‘older guys’ from the ‘hood hangin out in front of the school along with a lot of other white people we didn’t know. There was two cops. There were about 50 colored guys. We stared; Bobby grabbed me by the arm and we went inside where there was a small group of mixed guys and girls talking real loud about Little Rock. I kinda knew what was happening down there and I could see anger in kids’ faces and knew for sure this was going to be a rough day. The bell rang for kids to go to class and only about half went. One cop came around the corner and a guy told him to go fuck himself. He left. Then this black kid steps up and asks who are you gonna stop from goin to school today.

Stupid fuckin Dom shouts out to not even ask because all of us are going to the same school, like it or not.
Well my names ‘juice’ and I want to know who is gonna watch my back, then this hillbilly lookin guy from Washtenaw jumps out and runs right at him – he steps back and trips him to the ground. The white kid’s on the sidewalk and ‘juice’ goes right down on him and thumps his head on the concrete and he bleeds immediately. Screams go up, yelling starts but nobody else moves. The hillbilly kicks at ‘juice’ right in the groin and rolls him over. Just like that the bleeding hillbilly is on top and he’s punching away with both fists. Still nobody moves while they’re both now rolling down the stairs not letting the other get up until they hit bottom. ‘juice’ makes it up first, swings across but hillbilly ducks leavin ‘juice’ wide open to a shot right in his gut. He goes down and the white boy stands over him. ‘juice’ sits up and says we’re done.

Elizabeth Eckford and eight others have more to do.