R.I.P. BOB FYSCHER, Folk Singing Legend Dies
Folksinger Bob Fyscher passed away recently after a long protracted
bout with Alzheimer's. Fyscher first came to prominence in the
sixties, a child prodigy and song writing genius, writing the
chess lyric classics: Just Like a Bishop, All Along the Rook
Tower, Positively 4th Rank, Like a Hanging Pawn, and many
others. Once known for his strong political and anti-Soviet positions,
he was embraced by a generation fed-up with corrupt government
and racism in board games. In Moscow, he refused to perform in
any chess club that continued to use, as he put it: ' Jim Crow
black and white pieces'. But he suffered a major set-back
in the mid-70s, nearly choking to death, when he swallowed a pawn
he had been sucking on during an interview with a reporter who
offhandedly asked him why he had mentioned sixteen year old chessplayer,
Alicia Squares, in one of his recent songs. The reclusive
Fyscher vanished from public view for many years, but was occasionally
spotted wearing a blindfold and singing Old Testament religious
hymns at simultaneous chess matches and Christian folk festivals.
Then, almost as suddenly as he vanished, Fyscher re-emerged in
a big way hitting the stadium concert scene and began performing
what came to be known as his Never Ending Drawn-By-Repetition
Tour. The singer released a series of critically acclaimed
recordings such as Blood on the Squares, Chess Clock Out of
Time, and Modern Benoni (My Arse), but many of his
once fanatical followers considered him a shadow of his former
self, longing for the early genius of finger-pointing commentaries
like Hard King's a' Gonna Fall, Only a Pawn in Their Game,
Masters of Chess, Hey, Mr Woodpusher Man,' and Tangled
Up in Zuzwang.
Bob Fyscher publicly denied ever being a political or social chess commentary songwriter:
" No one ever changed the world by writing a song about chess moves, man,' he said,' I'm writing songs about ME, now.'
Recent efforts like What Good Am My Nose? and You Got To Serve (Yourself), with pseudo-confessional and faux-blues imagery disappointed many who longed for a return to the Golden Fyscher Years of musical chess imagery masterpieces like Lay Down Your Weary King, Lay Down, The Pawns They Are a' Changin', and Checkmate Minus Zero (No Time Limit).
Fyscher was 137 years old and has stipulated in his Will that his corpse is still to continue touring with his original band. He has bequeathed his entire estate to his twin rottweillers, Donovan and Chinese-Checkers.
Tales from the Thirteenth Floor No. 1
In 1975, a man riding a moped in Bermuda was accidentally struck and killed by a taxi. One year later, the man's brother, riding the very same moped, was killed in the very same way by the very same taxi driven by the very same driver -- and carrying the very same passenger. (whoooooooooooooooooooo!)
FAVOURITE LETTERS OF THE WEEK
RE: " I gave her my body but she wanted my soul "
In "Dont Think Twice ", Bob Dylan says, " I gave her my heart but she wanted my soul ", and not what you have wrongly quoted. I don't see why a songwriter should write songs from the perspective of the women in Dylan's songs. Wouldn't it be better to write your own song, rather than derivative nonsense? Soursob Bob
(Note: Thanks, Bob, I misquoted the line. Doesn't really change the main point, though. Everything derives. Folksongs evolve by mixing, matching, rewriting lyrics, commentary and parody. It's not nonsense - if it says something important and gives added insight. Dali once said, 'Those that are afraid to imitate, will never create anything.' We call ourselves names like Joe and Bob, wear shoes, live in houses and walk on streets - for the most part, things that other folks made up. It's where you derive TO, that counts.)
love this issue's songwriting workshop. very touching Eurydice song. funny you should mention "just like a woman". for some reason, i lately got the urge to be performing that song (although i'm a woman). from a musical point of view, i always felt it was bob's take on classic stax/volt ballads, much like percy sledge's "when a man loves a woman". dylan is, by his own admission, a master thief, and from that point of view i feel the song is very beautiful. but, talk about point of view...! what i discovered is that with a couple of minor lyric changes-- the bridge becomes "it was raining from the first and i was dying of thirst "when you" (instead of "so i") came in here.
the final chorus is sung in the first person instead of the third.
...suddenly the point of view becomes that of a woman addressing
a man who, she feels, used her at a moment of her weakness. and
a statement that she may have appeared to be strong and not too
badly hurt by the experience, but that, in fact she was fragile
at heart, as all of us are. the song is transformed from a misogynistic
viewpoint to a statement about the fragility of all of us.
i don't sing a lot of covers. only ones which i feel i can own from the inside. i've done this one at several major folk festivals in canada, as well as at a couple of very well-attended concerts here in toronto, and many people have come up to me to tell me how surprised and moved they were to hear the song performed from this perspective.
p.o.v. is so important, and i'm so glad you addressed it in your workshop. . .
re: the u.s. primaries:
did you happen to see the "daily show" when john stewart was voicing over footage of a big hollywood democratic rally? at one point there's a shot of a section of the hall where a lot of yarmulke'd men are seated. one can see two of the men who are sitting closer to the camera talking to each other. stewart's voice-over, in his best yiddish accent, has the one guy saying to the other,
"so which one do you like---the shvartze or the shikse?"
i could just hear my zaydeh speaking!!! . . .
keep up the great work with these wonderful newsletters. cheers, Joan Besen, toronto canada
(Note: Thanks, Joan, for being bold enough to rewrite a Master! That's the idea, girl! I have been singing a re-written third verse to 'For No One,' by The Beatles (well, by Paul McCartney, actually) for years now. I think it is an improvement on the original:
By the way, folks, all the Songwriting Workshops from these newsletters are archived on my homepage Archive if anyone wants to review them now and then for ideas. Here are Joan's revised lyrics to 'Just Like a Shikse':
I see that you are meeting up with Eric Bogle one of my favourite singers (apart from you of course!). I had a very interesting episode many years ago when his song I Hate Wogs was used in a class at Cobram that caused quite a stir with the Italian community. Remember that a fellow teacher and myself spent two day calming the community and to see the positive side of the song. Regards Emilio F.
AA Gill describes the Tiroler Hut in London as:- "Without irony, the Tiroler Hut is crass, loud, repetitive, drunken, uncomfortable, embarrassing, cringingly stereotypical and tasteless on so many, many levels. ." It sounds like my drinking hole- the Shellharbour Bowling Club which I love. But does it go the whole hog and have TAB, Keno and Poker Machines?! Bigruss
(Note: Thanks also to Bigruss for the John Howard rock anthem: uTube
I think i speak for the whole UK when i say that (you've probably heard it a million times before but) THAT song you did many moons ago that got to number 1 is truly feelgood! Andrew Wildman
(Note: Andrew, as James Brown once said: "I feel good, like I knew that I would, now! So good. So good. 'Cause I got you!' Thanks mate - most of the feedback I have been getting from the UK lately has been more along the lines of: 'I feel bad, like a cow that's gone mad. So bad. So bad. I can't even moo.")
How fun! I watched the Shaddup Redemption, and then up came links to many versions of the song, including one of you singing it in 1980. I loved the part where you were swatting at the bouncing ball with your hat. Love ya, Alicia Bay Laurel
(Note: Alicia, I forgot about that manoeuvre with the bouncing ball which happens at the very end of the clip and was totally ad lib. This is the Countdown Show where Molly Meldrum mimed the accordion along with Lin Van Hek: uTube
Here's the Shaddap Redemption, if you missed it last week: uTube
Also, this is another classic clip from the early 80s that someone put on uTube just recently, from a live TV performance of 'Shaddap You Face' at Musicladen, in Germany. I closed the gala show and had to follow The Police - because I did my song 'live' with the audience and Sting and the boys wanted to mime to a backing track! (What a bunch of wimps!) You can see Sister Sledge in the audience rocking along with the song. The sisters told me in the dressing room that they liked it because it reminded them of their own family! Don't scoff. I know three black women from Haiti who have the last name Dolce. A one-eyed Italian pirate ancestor must have sailed the trade routes.) uTube
Whenever you read things that seem like urban legends, it pays to check snopes.com or hoaxslayer.com. Here is the truth behind the mobile phone piece you included in your last newsletter: snopes, Kimba
(Note: Kimba, I thought I did even one better. I checked these mobile phone numbers out myself and most of them worked. The ones that didnt, I attributed to my particular phone technology. But check out the Snopes update above for those who want to see what's what for themselves.)
Tales from the Thirteenth Floor No. 2
Twin brothers Jim Lewis and Jim Springer were separated at birth and adopted by different families. Unknown to each other, both were named James, both owned a dog named Toy, both married women named Linda, both had a son they names James Alan, and both eventually divorced and got remarried to a woman named Betty. (whoooooooooooooooooooo!)
Cool Info Search Site
(Thanks to Frank Dolce)
Tales from the Thirteenth Floor No. 3
Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, and John Adams helped to edit it. The Continental Congress approved the document on July 4, 1776. Both Jefferson and Adams died on July 4, 1826 -- exactly 50 years after the signing. (whoooooooooooooooooooo!)
THE BURNING CHICKEN
Alastair, of The Burning Chicken website, has published some of my more controversial views on the nature of the Sun. I am in good company here with comments by Noam Chomsky, Uri Geller, Sally Kellerman, Michelle Rodriguez, Mourne Kransky, of The Kransky Sisters, and others.
" . . . Misters Whitelaw and Presley alike offered entertaining ideas, only to respectively dismiss them as implausible and irrelevant. But where rock and roll fails, novelty-turned-folk-and-gospel singers will always deliver. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Joe "The Body" Dolce: (Take a deep breath. It's a long'un.) . ."
Dolce: " Regarding your heated question,
I am reminded of what Copernicus's parents said to him growing
up: "Copernicus, young man, when are you going to come to
terms with the fact that the world does not revolve around you?"
Many questions about the Sun still remain unanswered, such as why its outer atmosphere has a temperature of over 1 million K while its visible surface (the photomat) has a temperature of less than 6,000 K. (Everyone knows from thermal pictures of the Sun at 6000 K, that's still too large for an email.)
Swedenborg believed that heat did NOT originate from the sun:
" This is a general fallacy in chemistry, physics and astronomy. Light and heat are seen as physical substances streaming out from the hydrogen explosions within stars. Instead, The Word has revealed the scientific fact that the heat and light in stars or their flares, are uncreate substances, therefore not material. They originate in the spiritual sun and stream out into the external, physical world through the interior of stars. . . " (continued, ad finitum)
Tales from the Thirteenth Floor No. 4
A German mother who photographed her infant son in 1914 left the film to be developed at a store in Strasbourg, but was unable to collect the film picture when World War I broke out. Two years later she bought a film plate in Frankfurt, over 100 miles away, and took a picture of her newborn daughter -- only to find, when developed, the picture of her daughter superimposed on the earlier picture of her son. The original film, never developed, had been mistakenly labeled as unused and resold. (whoooooooooooooooooooo!)
THE TURTLE CREEK CHORALE OF NUNS
A Men's Sacred Chorus
Tales from the Thirteenth Floor No. 5
In 1858, Robert Fallon was shot dead by fellow poker players who accused him of cheating to win a $600 pot. None of the other players were willing to take the now unlucky $600, so they found a new player to take Fallon's place, who turned the $600 into $2,200 in winnings. At that point, the police arrived and demanded that the original $600 be given to Fallon's next of kin -- only to discover that the new player was Fallon's son, who had not seen his father in seven years.
The Polish Divorce
A Polish man moved to the USA and married an American girl.
Although his English was far from perfect, they got along very well
until one day he rushed into a lawyer's office and asked him if he could
arrange a divorce for him.
The lawyer said that getting a divorce would depend on the
circumstances, and asked him the following questions:
Have you any grounds? - Yes, an acre and half and nice little home.
No, I mean what is the foundation of this case? - It made of concrete.
I don't think you understand Does either of you have a real
No, we have carport, and not need one.
I mean What are your relations like? - All my relations still in Poland .
Is there any infidelity in your marriage? - We have hi-fidelity
and good DVD player.
Does your wife beat you up? - No, I always up before her.
Is your wife a nagger? - No, she white.
Why do you want this divorce? - She going to kill me.
What makes you think that? - I got proof.
What kind of proof? - She going to poison me. She buy a bottle
chemist shop and put on shelf in bathroom. I can read, and it say:
"Polish Remover." boom boom!
(Thanks to Jim 'The Pope' Testa)
Tales from the Thirteenth Floor No. 6
In the 19th century, the famous horror writer Egdar Allan Poe wrote a book called 'The narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym.' It was about four survivors of a shipwreck who were in an open boat for many days before they decided to kill and eat the cabin boy whose name was Richard Parker. Some years later, in 1884, the yawl, Mignonette, foundered, with only four survivors, who were in an open boat for many days. Eventually the three senior members of the crew killed and ate the cabin boy. The name of the cabin boy was Richard Parker. (whoooooooooooooooooooo!)
Writer Sues Mel Gibson Over 'Passion'
LOS ANGELES (Feb. 12) - A screenwriter sued Mel Gibson and
his production company on Monday, claiming he was misled by the
actor-director into accepting a small payment for writing "The
Passion of the Christ," and was refused extra money when
the film became a blockbuster.
Benedict Fitzgerald claimed that when he was asked to write a script about the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, Gibson told him the movie would cost between $4 million to $7 million, according to the lawsuit filed in Superior Court. Fitzgerald also alleged Gibson promised he wouldn't receive any money from the film and any profit would be distributed to people who worked on the movie.
Gibson stated he didn't want "money on the back of what he considered a personal gift to his (Roman Catholic) faith," the lawsuit said.
Fitzgerald, who shared screenwriting credits with Gibson, claimed he agreed to a "a salary substantially less than what he would have taken had he known the true budget for the film," which the lawsuit claimed had an estimated budget of $25 million to $50 million. The 2004 movie went on to gross several hundred million dollars.
The lawsuit doesn't specify how much Fitzgerald was paid for his services.
An after-hours call to Gibson's publicist was not immediately returned.
The suit claims fraud, breach of contract, unjust enrichment and seeks unspecified damages. It also names Gibson's Icon Productions company as a defendant.
Author's Estate Sues Mel Gibson Over 'Passion'
GALILEE - The Estate of Jesus Christ is filing a lawsuit against
Mel Gibson for misrepresentation of their client in Gibson's blockbuster
hit ' The Passion of the Christ.' Attorneys for Mr Christ have
have issued the following statement:
"We do not normally file lawsuits, preferring to turn the other cheek, whenever possible. However, the descendents of Jesus Christ have come forward and have asked me to initiate a joint action on their behalf."
Manuel Christ, Homeboy Christ and Jesus Christ Junior, nephews of Jesus Christ, are asking for unspecified damages for injury to their moral, intellectual rights, and a few minor sprains.
"Watching that whipping scene really threw my neck out, Esse,' said one of the plaintifs. 'Yea, Holmes, I really messed up my back watching that nail hammering,' said another. 'Why couldn't they just have used some scary and weird music, 'Raawnnn! 'Raawnnn! 'Raawnnn!' like in that Psycho shower scene, instead of showing all that gore - too much like my crib, carnale. I go to the movies to get away from that kind of thing, esse.'
The lead attorney for the case, Mr. Santiago Popesyeruncle, QC, says that the film also strayed too far from the book version, omitting the crucial second act - The Sermon on the Mount - without which the parable is completely senseless.
" There was also a verbal agreement with Mr Gibson that Danny Devito would be playing the role of Jesus in the film,' said Mr. Popesyeruncle, 'That also constitutes breach. It doesnt matter that he didnt fit properly on the Cross, as they claimed. They could have sawed off a bit."
Tales from the Thirteenth Floor No. 7
In 1930s Detroit, a man named Joseph Figlock was to become an amazing figure in a young (and, apparently, incredibly careless) mother's life. As Figlock was walking down the street, the mother's baby fell from a high window onto Figlock. The baby's fall was broken and Figlock and the baby were unharmed. A year later, the same baby fell from the same window, again falling onto Mr. Figlock as he was passing beneath. Once again, both of them survived the event. (whoooooooooooooooooooo!)
The Oral History Narrative of the Southern Foodways Alliance
Integral to an appreciation and understanding of the diverse food cultures of the American South is the collection and preservation of the stories behind the food. Our Oral History Initiative seeks to capture stories of Southerners who grow, create, serve, and consume food and drink.
* BBQ Trail
* Boudin Trail
* Gumbo Trail
* Tamale Trail
DOLLY'S DELICIOUS 'COON
1 5-pound racoon
3 large onions, quartered
1/4 pound fatback, cut into chunks
2 tablespoons red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon salt
2 teas ground black pepper
2 cups chopped onion
Rinse the racoon and cut into pieces. Place in a large pot
with the quartered onions and fatback. Add enough water to cover.
Add the crushed red pepper flakes, salt pepper. Bring to a boil
over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 6 hours or
until meat is falling off the bones. Drain the cooking liquid
but reserve the fatback. Preheat oven to 350 F. Let the racoon
sit until cool enough to handle. Remove the meat from the bones
(discarding the bones). Chop the fatback into smaller pieces.
Place the racoon and fatback in a baking pan and stir in the chopped
onions. Season with additional crushed red pepper flakes and salt
and pepper to taste. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until the meat
is dry (but not too dry) stirring every 15 minutes.
(recipe by Julia 'Dolly' Hanna Flegler, from Sylvia's Family Soul Food Cookbook, Morrow Books, NY, NY.)
(Note: The Racoon's hands can be deep-fried separately and served as 'finger food'. boom boom! If you can't find a racoon in Australia, rottweiller may be substituted.)
Tales from the Thirteenth Floor No. 8
In 1973, actor Anthony Hopkins agreed to appear in "The Girl From Petrovka", based on a novel by George Feifer. Unable to find a copy of the book anywhere in London, Hopkins was surprised to discover one lying on a bench in a train station. It turned out to be George Feifer's own annotated (personal) copy, which Feifer had lent to a friend, and which had been stolen from his friend's car. (whoooooooooooooooooooo!)
Tales from the Thirteenth Floor No. 9
In Monza, Italy, King Umberto I went to a small restaurant for dinner, accompanied by his aide-de-camp, General Emilio Ponzia-Vaglia. When the owner took King Umberto's order, the King noticed that he and the restaurant owner were virtual doubles, in face and in build. Both men began discussing the striking resemblance between each other and found many more similarities.
1. Both men were born on the same day, of the same year (March 14, 1844).
2. Both men had been born in the same town.
3. Both men married a woman with same name, Margherita.
4. The restaurateur opened his restaurant on the same day that King Umberto was crowned King of Italy.
5. On the 29th July 1900, King Umberto was informed that the restaurateur had died that day in a mysterious shooting accident, and as he expressed his regret, an anarchist in the crowd then assassinated him. (whoooooooooooooooooooo!)
THE FINAL HURRAH
Queensland Country Petrol Station
A petrol station in country QLD was trying to increase its sales, so the owner put up a sign saying, 'Free Sex with Fill-Up.' Soon a local pulled in, filled his tank, and then asked for his free sex. The owner told him to pick a number from 1 to 10. If he guessed correctly, he would get his free sex.
The bloke then guessed 8, and the proprietor said, 'You were
close. The number was 7. Sorry, no sex this time.'
A week later, the same bloke come along with his mate, Bluey, pulled in for a fill-up. Again he asked for his free sex. The proprietor again gave him the same story, and asked him to guess the correct number.
The bloke guessed 2 this time. Again the proprietor said, 'Sorry, it was 4. You were close, but no free sex this time.'
As they were driving away, the bloke said to his mate, 'I think that game is rigged and he doesn't really give away free sex.'
Blue replied, 'No, it ain't, Bill. It ain't rigged -- my Missus won twice here last week.'
(thanks to Jim 'Boom Boom' Testa)