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April 8th, 2004

If Music Be the Food of the Gods,

Pass the Peas, Lawd!

"After I'm dead I'd rather have people ask why I have no monument than why I have one."
Cato the Elder 234-149 BC, (aka Marcus Porcius Cato)


Hi folks,

I have to take a week's break from the newsletter for business reasons but I thought I'd get this special MUSIC ISSUE off to hold you over. I've been meaning to recommend some of these films to you for awhile. Take a few of them out from the video shop. If you're a music lover, you won't regret it. If anyone knows of any other films that I've left off the list and that I should see myself be sure to drop me a line. Films with a strong music foundation, as well as a strong story, always have great repeat viewing value - the music continually renews the dramatic components.

Favourite Reader Feedback of the Week

" Joe,
What is this thing in my soup ? It appears to have intelligence, and it seems to go well with the tomato and garlic. How did it get in there ? I find a lot of strange things in my soup, and no matter how often I threaten intruders and curse their arrival,  unwanted interlopers always get into my face. Unlike the others, your unexpected visit adds to the flavour. Like Frank Ifield once said, "I remember you-oo",

"hi joe,
this email is mostly just to say hi and thank you for the good mood that 'shaddap you face' puts me in. we have been singing it a lot in the office over the past few days and it has genuinely improved the vibe around here. i remember this song from when i was a kid and had not thought about it until recently when rob started singing it the other day. i must admit i have not heard any of your music aside from 'shaddap you face' but i am interested and will get around to it soon enough. anyway, congratulations on the longevity of the song and its great to see that you are still making music. best regards,

" Dear Joe
  . . . I'm a 56 yr. old dentist who was in dental school in Mass. back in '69 to '73 . . .  At that time I was turned on to Jonathan Edwards and a movie called the "King of Hearts" with Alan Bates.  Jonathan, who was in Mass. himself, sang the song with the same title which you composed, and the movie played at the Central Square Cinema for five consecutive years (a record that is mentioned on the back of the DVD edition of the movie).  Your song and the movie are similarly themed and I was wondering if you made a conscious connection when you composed it.  Firstly, through all these years, this is my favorite song of all time and the most beautiful song I have ever heard.  Secondly, now that the Vietnam war is over my children are grown and I can have my life back, I'm going to do what I always wanted to do and that is to play music for people.  I'm going to be a jock at an NPR outlet in Geneva N.Y., and I want to feature this song and relate a little of its history.  Oddly, the songs lyrics are not listed at your site and after all these years there's still one line in Jonathan's rendition I can't quite make out. " 

Note: It actually took me awhile to remember the lyrics to my own song, 'King of Hearts'. I haven't played it for over 25 years! It finally came to me and I sent the missing line off to Dennis. I might start singing it again myself! It was written at the same time as 'My Home Ain't in The Hall of Fame,' and was one of the five songs of mine that Jonathan Edwards recorded. 'King of Hearts' WAS inspired by the movie, which affected me back in the heady days I lived in Cambridge. (Funny . . .on my new CD, I have a song called 'Jack of Diamonds,' co-written with playwright Phil Motherwell. Why don't we write songs about the lesser cards? Like the 'Five of Clubs'? Or the 'Three of Spades' ? The 'everyman' cards.)

'Freelovedays' - 4 Stars **** Good start!

My new CD, 'Freelovedays' recently got a half page, 4 star review from the legendary Pete Best, of the Sunday Herald: (review)

Thanks to Pete - and I hope he gets well soon. I heard he recently lost a hand in an accident competing in the annual Christian Lawnmower Regatta and is now playing drums with a hook like Moulty, the drummer for The Barbarians. (Remember them? I did a gig with The Barbarians once in Boston. They had a big hit called, 'Are You A Boy or Are You A Girl?'


'Are you a boy, or are you a girl?
With your long black hair, you look like a girl (yeah! You look like a girl.)
You might be a boy but . . . . you look like a girl.'

(Deep thoughts there.)

Levon Helm and The Hawks played on one of Moulty's solo lps: (site)


Crop Circles in My . . . . hey, faaaaar out! man . . . .

As a special bonus, on my new CD, I've included an mpeg of the videoclip Peter Hosking and I made for my song, 'Crop Circles in My Marijuana.' For more recent developments on Crop Circles, go Here.

Skeptics Corner

'Well informed people know it is impossible to transmit the voice over wires and that were it possible to do so, the thing would be of no practical value.' - Editorial in the Boston Post (1865)

'That the automobile has practically reached the limit of its development is suggested by the fact that during the past year no improvements of a radical nature have been introduced.' - Scientific American, Jan. 2, 1909

'Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.' - Lord Kelvin, ca. 1895, British mathematician and physicist

'Radio has no future '- Lord Kelvin, ca. 1897.

'While theoretically and technically television may be feasible, commercially and financially I consider it an impossibility, a development of which we need waste little time dreaming.' - Lee DeForest, 1926 (American radio pioneer)

"Joe Dolce is a novelty artist whose work doesn't amount to a pinch of crap.'
- Rupert P. Headarse, illegitimate grandson of Lord Kelvin, critic for the Daily Colostomy Bag

(thanks to Joe Creighton, except for the last one!)


Iraq Intifada: U.S. Faces New Resistance Front As Shiites Join Armed Uprising

The Bush administration is facing a nightmare scenario in Iraq, fighting on two fronts against both Sunni and Shia militants.

The center of armed resistance to the U.S.-led occupation has predominantly come from Sunni-dominated areas. But the U.S. occupation entered a new phase this past Sunday as Shiite Iraqis staged an armed uprising against the occupying forces in four cities.

A total of at least 50 Iraqis and 10 U.S. troops died Sunday. Hundreds were injured. Up to 30 Iraqis were killed in clashes in the Sadr-City suburb of Baghdad alone, the worst the capital has seen since its fall to U.S. troops a year ago.

American officials yesterday announced an arrest warrant for the young Shiite cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr, who called for the uprising after the U.S. forces shut down one of his newspapers and arrested one of his top aides.

Meanwhile back in Washington, President Bush repeated the White House line saying, "The message to the Iraqi citizens is they don't have to fear that America will turn and run, and that's an important message for them to hear." (more)

(Note: It seems to me that everyday Iraqi citizens would be making up a large part both the Sunni and Shia resistance, don't you think George?)

Blix: Iraq Worse Off Now Than With Saddam

"(US President George W.) Bush has claimed that this war was part of an American fight against terrorism. But instead of limiting (the phenomenon), the war has generated more terrorism... This conflict has led to more instability." Hans Blix

COPENHAGEN, Denmark - Iraq  is worse off now, after the U.S.-led invasion, than it was under Saddam Hussein, Hans Blix told a Danish newspaper Tuesday.

"What's positive is that Saddam and his bloody regime is gone, but when figuring out the score, the negatives weigh more," the former chief U.N. weapons inspector was quoted as saying in the daily newspaper Jyllands Posten.

"That accounts for the many casualties during the war and the many people who still die because of the terrorism the war has nourished," he said. "The war has liberated the Iraqis from Saddam, but the costs have been too great." (more)


Bush and Blair made secret pact for Iraq war
David Rose
The Observer


" I would like to apologize for referring to George W. Bush as a 'deserter.' What I meant to say is that George W. Bush is a deserter, an election thief, a drunk driver, a WMD liar and a functional illiterate. And he poops his pants." Michael Moore

President George Bush first asked Tony Blair to support the removal of Saddam Hussein from power at a private White House dinner nine days after the terror attacks of 11 September, 2001.

According to Sir Christopher Meyer, the former British Ambassador to Washington, who was at the dinner when Blair became the first foreign leader to visit America after 11 September, Blair told Bush he should not get distracted from the war on terror's initial goal - dealing with the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.

Bush, claims Meyer, replied by saying: 'I agree with you, Tony. We must deal with this first. But when we have dealt with Afghanistan, we must come back to Iraq.' Regime change was already US policy. (more)

Recently Discovered Nostradamus Prediction about George W Bush:

'The politician was gone but unnoticed, like the period after the Dr. on a Dr Pepper can. '

I Feel Bad

Here's my lyric revision of the classic for James Brown. (He's been looking a bit run down lately):

I feel bad
Like a cow that's gone mad.
I feel bad
Like a cow that's gone mad.
So bad,
So bad,
I can't even moo.

Bad Literature

"I'll moider da bum."
- Heavyweight boxer Tony Galento, when asked what he thought of William Shakespeare


The sobering scene was laid out before Detective Robinson like a centerfold spread in Better Homes and Gardens or Martha Stewart Living, if the splayed bodies could be considered home furnishings such as hand-knotted 100% wool Tibetan area rugs or allergy-free hypodown throw pillows stuffed with European goose down and the blood on the walls had been a carefully spattered burnt vermilion latex paint for a classic aged or contemporary Jackson Pollock-like finish. (Theresa Olin, Nineveh)

Favourite Music Quotes

- Arturo Toscanini (1867-1957) to his orchestra


These are in no particular order and the summaries aren't mine. I've just gathered together some brief reviews that I think capture what the films are about.

9. TOUS LES MATINS DU MONDE (a.k.a. All The Mornings of the World)
11. ELGAR (doco by KEN RUSSEL)



This sumptuous and moving 1994 film written and directed by Bernard Rose (Candyman) investigates the artistic and romantic passions of one of the greatest composers of all time. Featuring a superb performance by Gary Oldman (Sid and Nancy) as Ludwig van Beethoven, Immortal Beloved is full of uncommonly vivid, rich imagery as it charts the tumultuous life of the deaf child prodigy and his rise to the height of musical achievement. Along the way, he attempts to play mentor to his nephew, attend to his many passionate romances--the most stable one was with a countess (Isabella Rossellini)--and fight bouts of depression and madness that ruled his life and his art. The film is framed around a "Rosebud"-type letter found after the composer's death that makes up the crux of the story. Jeroen Krabbé (The Fugitive), playing Beethoven's lifelong friend, attempts to discover who Beethoven's muse really was, becoming as driven as his friend in discovering the unlikely identity of the composer's "immortal beloved." Through this we gain an insight into the nature of obsession, romance, and the heights and sacrifices of artistic achievement. The film exhibits some extraordinary sound design, and the finale features a magical encapsulation of Beethoven's life and loves set to his "Ode to Joy." As an exciting and passionate journey, Immortal Beloved is its own masterpiece. --Robert Lane


The satirical sensibilities of writer Peter Shaffer and director Milos Forman (One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest) were ideally matched in this Oscar-winning movie adaptation of Shaffer's hit play about the rivalry between two composers in the court of Austrian Emperor Joseph II--official royal composer Antonio Salieri (F. Murray Abraham), and the younger but superior prodigy Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Tom Hulce). The conceit is absolutely delicious: Salieri secretly loathes Mozart's crude and bratty personality, but is astounded by the beauty of his music. That's the heart of Salieri's torment--although he's in a unique position to recognize and cultivate both Mozart's talent and career, he's also consumed with envy and insecurity in the face of such genius. That such magnificent music should come from such a vulgar little creature strikes Salieri as one of God's cruellest jokes, and it drives him insane. Amadeus creates peculiar and delightful contrasts between the impeccably re-created details of its lavish period setting and the jarring (but humorously refreshing and unstuffy) modern tone of its dialogue and performances--all of which serve to remind us that these were people before they became enshrined in historical and artistic legend. Jeffrey Jones, best-known as Ferris Bueller's principal, is particularly wonderful as the bumbling emperor (with the voice of a modern midlevel businessman). The film's eight Oscars include statuettes for Best Director Forman, Best Actor Abraham (Hulce was also nominated), Best Screenplay, and Best Picture. --Jim Emerson


Only Joel and Ethan Coen, the fraternal director and producer team behind art-house hits such as The Big Lebowski and Fargo and masters of quirky and ultra-stylish genre subversion, would dare nick the plot line of Homer's Odyssey for a comic picaresque saga about three cons on the run in 1930s Mississippi. Our wandering hero in this case is one Ulysses Everett McGill, a slick-tongued wise guy with a thing about hair pomade (George Clooney, blithely sending up his own dapper image) who talks his chain-gang buddies (Coen-movie regular John Turturro and newcomer Tim Blake Nelson) into lighting out after some buried loot he claims to know of. En route they come up against a prophetic blind man on a railroad truck, a burly, one-eyed baddie (the ever-magnificent John Goodman), a trio of sexy singing ladies, a blues guitarist who's sold his soul to the devil, a brace of crooked politicos on the stump, a manic-depressive bank robber, and--well, you get the idea. Into this, their most relaxed film yet, the Coens have tossed a beguiling ragbag of inconsequential situations, a wealth of looping, left-field dialogue, and a whole stash of gags both verbal and visual. O Brother (the title's lifted from Preston Sturges's classic 1941 comedy Sullivan's Travels) is furthermore graced with glowing, burnished photography from Roger Deakins and a masterly soundtrack from T-Bone Burnett that pays loving homage to American '30s folk styles--blues, gospel, bluegrass, jazz, and more. And just to prove that the brothers haven't lost their knack for bad-taste humour, we get a Ku Klux Klan rally choreographed like a cross between a Nuremberg rally and a Busby Berkeley musical. --Philip Kemp


Documentary by D.A. Pennebaker (director of Dylan's 'Don't Look Back' and 'Monterey Pop'.) A live concert of music new and old from the artists of 'O Brother Where Art Thou.' An awesome live concert produced by T Bone Burnett featuring one of the most exciting duet performances I have ever seen between Alison Krauss and Dan Tyminski (of Union Station) singing 'Blue and Lonesome.' I defy anyone to listen to this and not get chills down home in Spineville! Tyminski is my favourite male bluegrass singer at the moment and it was he who sang the lead vocal on 'Man of Constant Sorrow' in the film, and, as Alison Krauss says, made George Clooney look good! Also, great live performances by John Harford, Ralph Stanley, and many more.


Hauntingly beautiful folk music and stunning Appalachian scenery take centre stage in this winner of the 2000 Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Prize for outstanding ensemble performance. Musicologist Dr. Lily Penleric has a deep love of English folk ballads. After a humiliating failure to make full professor, she heads off to visit her sister's tiny school in rural Appalachia and finds herself in folk music central. Lily is entranced, but the locals are suspicious of the outlander's motivations. Issues of tolerance, clashing cultures, and Big Bad Men abound, but Songcatcher wisely focuses on the music. Janet McTeer does fine with the "repressed academic gets in touch with the earth" role, but her truly outstanding work is in revealing scholar Lily's rapture in her discoveries. McTeer leads a truly great cast, including the wonderful Pat Carroll, and a just-for-the-hell-of-it cameo by bluesman Taj Mahal. Songcatcher has a healthy respect for the mountain people it portrays, and an absolute reverence for their music. --Ali Davis


Story, screenplay and directed by Tony Gatlif.

Caco is a proud, handsome man, head of a family, and very powerful in the local community. Yet he has been torn to pieces by the death of his beloved daughter. He constantly visits her grave, weeps silently at her photo and has transferred all his wildly protective love and attention onto his mentally challenged nephew, Diego. It seems that Diego's father, Caco's brother, is in hiding after having killed a man from the Caravaca family, who are equally powerful in the community. They are looking for vengeance and have come to Caco for justice. When he refuses to betray his brother, the Caravacas grow impatient. When they realize they are getting nowhere, they threaten to kill Diego. Despite his fierce pride, Caco eventually realizes that the cycle of killing and revenge must be broken. But how can he achieve this and protect everyone he loves?

The story is told by images and music. A real semiotic statement and another ode to the love of music of the gypsy people. The film tells you a story about a vendetta and the consequences of it, played by real people with deep human emotions. A honest document, another masterpiece after, Gadjo Dillo and Lacho Drome. I love this movie and it made me laugh and weep, also I couldn't sit still during the music scenes with authentic flamenco & gypsy music. Any music lover should see this film to explore the roots of Spanish music.

Note: My favourite of Gatlif's three gypsy films. This one has a mythical story line, approaching Greek traagedy, and also great characters, not to mention an extraordinary collection of musical performances.


One of the most moving films of all time. If you have never seen this film, it is definitely a "must see." Don't believe the nay-sayers, this is a beautiful movie. Unfortunately, there are those who either don't see the beauty of this film, or simply miss its message all together. If you do any research on the history of this film, you will find yourself quite amazed. No, it didn't do well at the box office, but Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour could not promote it due to the actors' strike that was going on at the time. The most amazing aspect of the movie is its staying power in the hearts of viewers for over 20 years now. And I can't think of many other film scores nearly as romantic and heartfelt as John Barry's work here. My advice is this. Watch this movie at home in the dark, with no distractions and allow yourself to be taken in. Open your mind, and try to avoid critique of camera angles, acting technique, etc. and let your heart grip the story. For some very fortunate souls, the magic will then begin to take place.


Daniel Auteuil (Manon of the Spring) plays Stephane, the curiously diffident co owner of an exclusive violin brokerage and repair shop. A brilliant technician, Stephane can make any instrument live up to its promise, yet he is emotionally remote himself, disconnected from passionate experience. His partner, Maxime (André Dussollier), lacks Stephane's gifts but is rich in personality and desire. When Maxime's new lover, a violinist named Camille (Emmanuelle Béjart), is drawn to Stephane's still waters, the latter is briefly moved, thus destroying the fragile, symbiotic relationship between all three individuals. Veteran French filmmaker Claude Sautet (of the Oscar-winning César et Rosalie) has made a powerful film here expressed in the smallest of gestures, just as one might tune the strings of a violin ever-so-slightly to achieve perfection. Sautet indeed employs such a sonorous motif in this story, in which violins always seem to be playing and suggesting that the principal characters look at life as they do music: something to be tinkered with and manipulated for effect. --Tom Keogh

9. TOUS LES MATINS DU MONDE (aka All The Mornings of the World)

Gérard Depardieu plays a court composer at Versailles whose sense of artistic emptiness causes him to reflect upon his old music teacher (Jean-Pierre Marielle), a man who taught him more than music but whom he ultimately betrayed. (The younger version of Depardieu's character is portrayed by the actor's son, Guillaume.) Alain Corneau's gorgeous 1991 film has a slow, deliberative air about it, with little dialogue and a painterly look (shot by cinematographer director Yves Angelo, maker of Colonel Chabert) that paradoxically inspires both excitement and meditation. A period costume piece that chooses to understate pageantry for ideas and emotions, this film is quite special. --Tom Keogh

This haunting story is based on the historical relationship between Marain Marais and this teacher St Columbo, two of the most renowned gambists of all time (the gamba is a stringed, fretted instrument, popular in the 1700's, which looks something like a cello - (Note: it's the instrument featured on my song, 'Sappho: Fragment 64', on my new CD, freelovedays.).

St. Columbo (his first name is unknown) is an extremely dark and complex person, "all passion and rage yet mute as a fish". When his beautiful young wife dies unexpectedly he retreats from the world, devoting his life to his instrument and his art. Although recognized as the finest gambist in France, he becomes a recluse, defying even the king's order to play at the royal court.

What is the meaning of music? Is it to impress one's rivals? To entertain? For gold? No, says the master, none of these. And one who makes music is not necessarily a musician. The young Marais, who has become his student, struggles to fathom its meaning. Great attention is paid to details and authenticity. The viewer is given glimpses of the lavish court of France in the 1700's, the decadence of the privileged, and immersed in a sound track of Marais' exquisite French baroque music performed by virtuoso players.

There is a love interest between Marais and Columbo's eldest daughter (also an accomplished gambist), which, although almost incidental to the plot, allows the film to be billed as a passionate love story. A must-see for people with artistic inclinations.


Dreamily Beautiful from England, this movie is one of those that gradually takes a hold of you, and before you know it you're totally hooked by its beautiful photography, glorious score and great story. It starts in Italy, where a violin maker (puts a secret red colouring) into the varnish of his latest creation. Then the viewer watches the violin move through the ages up to the modern day. The violin passes through an orphanage in Austria, where a child prodigy takes hold of the violin, through a variety of people including gypsies, an unstable Victorian genius and to a group of suppressed art lovers in China. All of this is well linked back to the first story as the woman who dies in the beginning has her fortune read and the viewer is given a small insight into what is going to happen in each successive story unfolding in front of them. Between each story there is also the modern day auction of the fabled 'Red Violin', which stars an effectively subdued Samuel L. Jackson. This is a breakthrough in subtitled movies.

- The 'Elgar' Films -

11. ELGAR (doco by KEN RUSSEL)

Partly dramatised account of the life of composer Sir Edward Elgar. Also includes footage of Elgar at the Three Choirs Festival and a recording of the opening of Abbey Road Studios when `Land Of Hope And Glory` was played. Ken Russell`s Elgar has attained classic status in the realm of television documentaries since it was first shown on November 11th, 1962 as the 100th programme in the BBC`s Monitor series. Made at a time when much that is now known about Elgar had yet to be published, Russell`s film is remarkable for its sensitive portrait of the rise of a young musician from a relatively poor background to international fame. The film was also groundbreaking, in that for the first time the BBC relaxed its taboo on using actors in factual films, although Russell was only allowed to use actors if they appeared in long shot and spoke no dialogue. As Russell`s tribute to music he loved, the film is evocative, visually superb and true to the elegiac nobility of Elgar`s music.


The story of the relationship between Hungarian violinist Jelly D`Aranyi and English composer, Sir Edward Elgar with James Fox as Elgar. Also starring Faith Brook and Rupert Frazer. Beautiful film with Elgar's music throughout.


This 1998 film stars Emily Watson as Jacqueline, and Rachael Griffiths, as Hilary, the two musically talented real-life English Du Pre sisters. Jackie became world renowned for her cello playing but was deeply troubled and worn out by the constant touring. Hilary, who was trained to play the flute, married early and lived an idyllic life with her husband and children. The bond between the sisters was great, so deep in fact, that an emotionally disturbed Jackie even went so far as to ask her sister an unusual favour. Based on a memoir by Hillary Du Pre and her brother Piers, the screenplay was written by Frank Cottrell Boyce, who managed to bring out both the deep love as well as sibling rivalry between the sisters. David Morrissey and James Frain play their two husbands. Both do fine jobs in their supporting roles.

There are three sections to the film, which starts off during the sisters' childhood. Later, after Jackie becomes successful, we see the story from Hilary's point of view. Then, the same incidents are shown from Jackie's viewpoint. From these unique perspectives, our understanding is deepened as the tale grows darker and more complex.. Of course there are also the concert performances, which music lovers will no doubt enjoy, but the music never gets in the way of the haunting story or the wonderful characterizations by the cast. It is not always comfortable to probe human nature so deeply, but it is always fascinating. And "Hilary and Jackie" is a superbly fascinating film.

(Note: This film is particular instructive to watch side-by-side with the following doco as the former shows some of the dark sides of fame at an early age whilst the latter shows a somewhat sanitized and romantic view, but has actual interview and performance footage of Jacqueline herself which more than makes up for the tilted perspective. The two films together make one nice biographical portrait.)


A documentary about the renowned English cellist Jacqueline Du Pre. It looks at the development of her life and career including her meeting with Daniel Barenboim and their marriage in 1967. The main theme of the film however is her special relationship with the Elgar Cello Concerto and the film ends with a full live performance, with the New Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Barenboim.

Jacqueline du Pre is, of course, magical in this video from start to finish. Her interpretation of the Elgar Concerto will go unmatched for this century and more to come. The cello, an extension in her body...as she cradles it and fills it with emotion. Elgar himself might have been moved to tears by the end of the performance...his masterpiece has found its finest interpretation. Jackie was not only talented, but beautiful and a down-to-earth person. Had she lived, she'd be the premiere cellist of the world over. Her recordings transcend time and continue to dazzle/bewilder listeners from coast to coast.

- The Glenn Gould Films -

Fifteen or so VHS documentary tapes of performances filmed on live television featuring Gould playing Bach, Beethoven and Schoenberg. Also includes interviews, and character sketches (he does a great Marlon Brando character).



It would be utterly ridiculous to give this film anything less than five stars. Classical music snobs who believe the film doesn't give enough "insight" into Gould's day-to-day life are missing the point. Gould himself didn't have much time for classical music snobs, by the way. This is a totally original film that incorporates marvellous acting, densely layered cinematography, and a variety of technical and emotional details seamlessly. It is not a dry, interview-style documentary, nor is it an overly artsy-fartsy "biopic." This film is subtle yet overwhelming, beautiful yet quiet, and (for me at least) life changing. My appreciation for and understanding of music grew exponentially after I saw this movie. Ultimately, I believe that "32" belongs to the avid moviegoer who doesn't spend a great deal of time at the symphony. Its complexity and originality will show you how music enables us to be truly *alive*.


(from Sylvia's Soul Food Cookbook)

" Yo' ole black hide don't look lak nothin' tuh me, but uh passel uh wrinkled up rubber, wid yo' big ole yeahs flappin' on each side lak uh piah uh buzzard wings." Zora Neale Hurston

You may recall I mentioned that I paid a visit to Sylvia's famous restaurant in Harlem a few years back and ordered a small serve of EVERYTHING ON THE MENU just to see what things were supposed to taste like; so I knew what I was doing when I got back to Melbourne and tried the dishes myself. It took two whole tables to accommodate all the plates. An older African-American lady, sitting nearby, apparently dressed for church, called over to me and whispered, 'Honey, you sure must be hungry.'

1 pound dried black-eyed peas
1 piece skin from a smoked ham, or 2 ounzes slab bacon, cut into small dice
1/4 cup pork rib drippings or fried chicken drippings or bacon dripping (drippings is the key to Fried Green Tomatoes, too, by the way.)
3/4 teasp salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red chilli flakes (my addition)
1/2- 1 teaspoon sugar (to taste)

Pick over the peas to remove the stones and dirt. Rinse the peas well and soak them in cold water for 20 minutes. Drain well. Combine the peas and the remaining ingredients in a large pot. Pour in enough cold water to cover the peas by 1 inch. Heat to simmering and cook, covered, until the peas are tender but not mushy, about 1 1/2 hours. Keep an eye on the peas while they are cooking and add more water to keep them covered if necessary. Serves 8.


Bonus PIZZA PIZZA Music Treat Appetiser

If any of you haven't heard my recording of 'Pizza Pizza', the theme song for the U.S. Pizza Team, recently at the World Pizza Championship, in Salsomaggiore, Italy: RealPlayer audio

The U.S. Pizza Team shined at the event with one gold medal, Best Pizza in North America, and several finishes in the top of each event. Michael Shepherd, owner of Michael Angelo's Pizza in Kenton, Ohio won first place in the largest dough stretch. His stretch came in at 91 by 84 centimeters. This was Michael's third attempt at the title. Last year, he placed seventh in the largest stretch.

Brynne Humphreys, general manager of Avalanche! Pizza, in Athens, Ohio, won Best Pizza in North America, with her Godzilla Pizza. She dressed up as Signora Godzilla in a green sequin dress and green wig. Her boss, John Gutekanst, dressed up as Godzilla. "I don't even eat this pizza," Brynne says. "Lots of people like it, but I'm more of a pepperoni person." (thanks to Amanda at PMQ)

Note: Fellow hillbillies, I went to college at Ohio University, in Athens, Ohio, in the late '60s, a little town buried in the hills of Appalachia, near the Ohio River. An 'O Brother Where Art Thou' meets 'Songcatcher' kind-of-place. I have a lot of fond memories of Athens. I wrote my first serious song there: 'Way Down In Athens County,' recorded by Jonathan Edwards, on his first album. People made their own banjos in the mountains. 'Lost John' was the local mysterious folk-bluegrass legend. First time living away from home. First serious girlfriend. First pot smoked. First acid trip. First time I was ever in jail. First time I got crabs. First (and only) time I was in a mental institution. The place where I resisted the Vietnam War. The place where I made my decision to give up architecture and commit to music for a living. I was so poor and hungry one year, I used to hang around the only pizza shop in town and wait until people left so I could quickly grab the left over slices before they got taken off the table. It's good to see that Athens has been recognized as having the 'Best Pizza in North America'! Why am I not surprised? I might have been broke as a kid, but I obviously didn't eat junk! (It must have been all that music confabulating in there with the yeast.)


Every day
I see or hear
that more or less
kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle
in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for -
to look, to listen,
to lose myself
inside this soft world -
to instruct myself
over and over
in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,
the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant -
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,
the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help
but grow wise
with such teachings
as these -
the untrimmable light
of the world,
the ocean's shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?
~ Mary Oliver ~

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