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Sept 30, 2006 Flat Foot Floogie
September 30th, 2006

Today Oscar Grillo in London sent me a painting in his inimitable style, accompanied with a cut of music. Today it was a Swing era tune by Slim Galliard popular with G.I's in World War Two called Flat Foot Floogie (1938). It jogged a memory for me.


My father George Sito loved Flat-Foot Floogie with the Floy, Floy and used to sing it in our family car in the 1960s. When a young teenager he was a real Jitterbug. He had a Zoot Suit with the Reet-Pleat, pants worn high above the waist and a long key chain and Pork Pie hat with obligatory ostriche feather. He was from a Polish immigrant family of ten children and had to drop out of school when his father died to work in a factory near the Brooklyn Navy Yard. He kept his zuit soot in a locker for fear his co-workers would laugh at his ridiculous outfit. But after work he would go out to bars and do dance demonstrations for money, twirling and throwing girls in the air.

He's 85 now and retired, and the Brooklyn Navy Yard area is now all upscale Yuppie restaurants, I'm told. But when such a melody as Flat Foot Floogie comes on, he smiles and recalls the days when it was Awlreet, Awlreet, Lay me some skin, Jackson!

Birthdays: William Wrigley the Chewing Gum king 1868, Truman Capote, Eli Weisel, Lester Maddox, Buddy Rich, David Oistrach, Deborah Kerr is 85, Angie Dickinson, Marylin McCoo, Len Cariou, Johnny Mathis, Rula Lenska, Eric Stolz, Monica Bellucci, Jenna Elfman is 35

1791- Mozart's opera "Die Zauberflotte, The Magic Flute" premieres at Emanuel Schiknader's theater in Vienna. One of the theories about Mozart's death was that he enthusiastically put so much FreeMason's secret ritual into the Magic Flute that the Masons did him in for violating their secrecy. The Papageno-Papagena duet when they meet at the end was Schiknader's idea. Mozart gave pyrotechnical trills to the coloratura aria of the Queen of the Night, but privately he laughed at such singing, calling it “Cut Up Noodles”.

1846- Dr. William Morton first pulled a tooth using ether as an anesthetic.

1868- Louisa May Alcott’s novel Little Women first published in installments.

1919- The Fleischer Brother's first Out of the Inkwell cartoon featuring Koko the Clown. Koko was rotoscoped- meaning traced from live action like Motion Capture is done today. Dave Fleischer put on the clown suit, created by their mother and was filmed by his brother Max. Dave joked that if the cartoons failed he could use the suit to change careers.

1930- Death Valley Days show premiered on radio, sponsored by Twenty mule Team Borax powder. When it moved to television in the 50’s the host was Ronald Reagan.

1935- George Gershwin's opera Porgy and Bess premiered at the Colonial Theater in Boston.

1947- The first World Series Game on Television- New York Yankees beat the Brooklyn Dodgers 5-3. Gillette and Ford paid $65,000 to sponsor the entire series.

1952- This Is Cinerama, showcasing the widescreen film process, opened in theaters.

1955-James Dean (24) dies when his Porsche Spyder crashed head on into a pickup truck on Highway 41 outside of Paso Robles, .California. He was driving 85 mph at dusk without his headlights on and two hours earlier had been given a ticket for speeding. Until now the American public had only seen him in one movie- "Rebel Without a Cause" and some t.v. work. Giant and East of Eden had yet to be released, yet the legend endures to this day. In an errie coincidence Dean filmed a public service announcement promoting automobile safety. His last lines were:”Remember, the life you save may be mine!”

1960-Hanna Barbera's "The Flintstones" debuts. For six seasons in prime time the inhabitants of 301 Cobblestone Lane, Bedrock, was one of the most successful tv series ever. Originally going to be named the Flagstones, then Gladestones, before Flintstones. Ed Benedicts' designs with Alan Reed as the voice of Fred, Jean Van Der Pyl the voice of Wilma, Mel Blanc doing Barney and Bea Bernadette doing Betty. Trivia: Wilma became the first character on television to appear visibly pregnant. Lucille Ball went through her pregnancy on TV in 1953, but she was not allowed to be seen as such, covered with a lot of big clothes and filmed from the neck up.

1982- The TV comedy Cheers premiered. The Beacon Street Bar in Boston where everybody knows your name. It made stars of Ted Danson, Woody Harrelson, Kirstey Alley and Kelsey Grammar.

Sept 29, 2006 friday
September 29th, 2006

Birthdays: Roman Pompey Magnus, Miguel de Cervantes, Admiral Horatio Nelson, Rudolph Diesel (inventor of the engine), Enrico Fermi, Jerry Lee Lewis, Gene Autrey, Lech Walesa, Stanley Kramer, Bryant Gumbel, Greer Garson, director Michelangelo Antonioni, Ian McShane, Anita Ekberg, Andrew Dice-Clay, cartoonist Russ Heath, Tom Sizemore, Emily Lloyd

In the Medieval calendar this was The Feast of Mickelmuss or MichaelMass In Old London this was the beginning of the winter lighting season when every tenth store had to maintain a candle in a street lamp and light it after dark, until Lady Day March 25th.

1066-WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR LANDS IN ENGLAND. When King Edward the Confessor died childless he left the throne kinda up for grabs. Earl Harold son of Godwin kinda promised Duke William of Normandy that he would step aside and let him be king but later took the crown for himself. So Duke William kinda invaded with 30,000 Norman knights and support troops. Duke William was an illegitimate son of Robert the Devil and was called William the Bastard until the conquest when he became William the Conqueror.
When William's ship landed at Pevensey Beach near Dover Duke William leapt out into the surf to be the first to set foot in Britain. However in front of the whole army he stumbled and fell to his knees. Quickly realizing that if he didn't act fast the men would regard this as a dangerously bad omen, he grabbed two fistfuls of muddy sand in his clenched fists, raised them up and declared : "Ah Britain! Now I have you!" His men cheered and he went on to victory at Hastings on Oct. 16th.

1798- At the court of Naples Admiral Horatio Nelson was given a 40th birthday party by his friend and patron, the British ambassador Sir William Hamilton. At this party Nelson first shows the signs of getting seriously turned on by Hamilton's hot young wife Emma. Sir William was 69, Emma was 30 and was known to be sleeping around. The party was broken up when Nelson's stepson, who was serving as one of his lieutenants, got so drunk he made a scene. The love affair between Nelson and Mrs. Hamilton in defiance of all social stigmas scandalized even that notorious age. Yet Sir William Hamilton seemed more interested in his ancient Roman pottery . Hamilton got more upset at the news of a shipload of antique vases sinking than being told that his wife was shivering the admiral’s timbers.

1829- BOBBIES- Prime Minister the Duke of Wellington had been complaining for years that the city of London needed it's own regular police force instead of relying on irregular militia like the Bow Street Runners or the Horse Guards to do with urban maintenance. At this time sections of North London were so tough they were labeled on maps “No-Go”. On this day London's reorganized police force, The Greater Metropolitan Police Force based at Scotland Yard, went on duty. The constables, because they were formed by Home Secretary Sir Robert Peel, were nicknamed "Bobbie's Boys" or "Bobbies". They’re also nicknamed Old Bill. Some Irish groups called them Peelers.

1913-Rudolph Diesel, inventor of the Diesel engine, celebrated his 55th birthday by jumping into the English Channel from his yacht and drowning himself.

1930-Ninety year old writer George Bernard Shaw turned down the offer of a Peerage.

1930- First day of shooting on the Tod Browning horror classic Dracula. Hungarian actor and recreational morphine addict Bela Lugosi played the lead role he had already made famous on stage.Lugosi was a matinee star in Hungary but emigrated to the U.S. in 1921 when he got in trouble for organizing a union of stage actors. Lugosi was identified with the character Dracula for the rest of his life. When he died he was buried in the Dracula cape. Supposedly Boris Karloff approached the bier and whispered," Bela? You're not joking, are you..?"

1933- The movie A Bill of Divorcement introduced the star Katherine Hepburn.

1953- The television show “Make Room for Daddy” premiered, making a star out of big nosed nightclub entertainer Danny Thomas. The Lebanese Thomas had tried to break into films with no luck. He burst into tears after Columbia studio chief Harry Cohn suggested he get a nose job and forget about it. Danny Thomas at one time was the richest man in Beverly Hills. On his show perfected the “spit-take”- he always seemed to have a mouth full of coffee when someone gave him surprising news.

1959-Hanna-Barbera's "Quick Draw McGraw" tv show. Ba ba Louie and El Kabong!

1961- Russian ballet star Rudolph Nureyev, acclaimed as the greatest dancer of his age, defects to the west in Paris and was granted asylum.

1969- The TV series Love American Style premiered.

1976- At his birthday party musician Jerry Lee Lewis accidentally shot his bass player Norman Owens in the chest with s 357 magnum. He said he was using the gun to try and open a soft drink bottle and it accidentally went off. Owens survived and sued Lewis.

1996- The first Nintendo Game system, the first 64 bit game system, debuted in the US. It sold 500,000 the first day.

Sept 28, 2006
September 28th, 2006

Birthdays: Michel Caravaggio, Lil Abner creator Al Capp, William Paley, Max Schmelling, Brigitte Bardot is 71, Frederic Engels, Marcello Mastroianni, Moon Unit Zappa, Ed Sullivan, Sylvia Kristel, John Sayles, Long time cartoon and television voice actor Arnold Stang, J.T. Walsh, Janeane Garofalo, Mia Sorvino, Naomi Watts, Gwyneth Paltrow is 35

1542- The European Discovery of California- Juan de Cabrillo sailing up from Mexico stepped ashore at Cabrillo Point in San Diego Harbor. He had hoped that San Diego Bay would be the Straights of Anian, a mythical sea route back to the Atlantic that would be safer than Magellans Straights. All through the 1500’s conventional thinking in Europe was that America was a big island with sea routes all around it. California was supposed to be the Kingdom of Califa, the Amazons who wield Golden Swords.

1904- A woman is arrested on New York’s Fifth Ave for openly smoking a cigarette. Look how far we’ve come. One hundred and two years later almost anyone can be arrested for openly smoking a cigarette!

1924 -the first airplane flight around the world landed back at it's point of departure. Commander Leslie Arnold took off from Seattle with 5 converted torpedo bomber seaplanes. One crashed, another sank but the remaining three circumnavigated the globe.

1928-William Paley, son of a cigar manufacturer, becomes president of CBS broadcasting. He turns it into a corporate broadcasting giant and threw his support behind developing television and long playing records.

1960- Ted Williams hits a home run at his last at-bat. Number 521.

1961- Richard Chamberlain made a name for himself by playing the handsome Dr. Kildare on TV, Raymond Massey co-starred.

1961-The Hazel tv show with Shirley Booth premiered.

Sept 27th, Two- Uh-Oh Six.
September 27th, 2006

Did you ever notice that this decade is past the halfway point, yet it still doesn't have a name? Like the eighties, the nineties. Should we call this the Noughts? the Zeds? The Uh-Ohs?

So many questions...
Birthdays: Thomas Nast- famed XIX Century cartoonist who drew the first image of Santa Claus and created the Republican elephant and democratic donkey, Arthur Penn, Meatloaf, William Conrad, Dick Schapp, Samuel Adams -brewer and patriot ,cartoonist George Cruikshank, Jayne Meadows, Wilford Brimley, Shaun Cassidy, Greg Morris, Amanda Detmer, Avril Lavigne

1771-Young artist Francisco Goya enters a scholarship competition sponsored by the Academy of Parma. He loses to some obscure artist named Bettino. Judges say about his work: "Crude and ugly colors".

1934- “ I’M SICK OF THIS CAT & MOUSE GAME!” shouted Gangster Baby Face Nelson as he was cornered by two FBI agents on a rural road south of Chicago. While his gang and wife looked on in amazement Nelson boldly walked out in the open, down the middle of the road, his tommy gun blazing away at the G-Men. He killed them both but not before he was riddled with 17 bullets. He died the next day and was left in a ditch.

1935-13 year old singer Frances Gumm of the singing Gumm Sisters signed an exclusive contract with MGM Pictures. Louis B. Mayer changed Frances name to Judy Garland.

1938- Bob Hope first sang “Thanks For the Memory” on his NBC radio show. It became a hit his movie appearance in the film “The Big Broadcast of 1938.”

1944- Evangelist Aimee Semple MacPherson died in hospital from an overdose of sleeping pills. She was 53. MacPherson was one of the most powerful evangelists of the 1920s with thousands of followers donating millions of dollars. Her continued success even after sex scandals prompted H.L. Mencken to declare that "there are morons per square mile in Los Angeles than any other place on Earth!"

1954- The Tonight Show premiered. Steve Allen hosted.

1961- Hanna Barbera's "Top Cat" show premiered. Do you remember the words to the theme song..? "Top Cat, the most effectual- Top Cat, who's intellectual: Close friends get to call him T.C., Providing it's with dignity. Top Cat, the indisputable leader of the gang... He's the Boss he's a pip, he's the championship, He's the most tip-top, Top Cat !"

1964- The Warren Commission concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in killing President John F. Kennedy. Today despite two investigations 8 out of 10 Americans still believe Oswald was part of a conspiracy. Even Lyndon Johnson had his doubts. Documents pertaining to the case, like Oswald's tax returns, and how he could re-enter the U.S. from Soviet Russia without a passport after renouncing his citizenship, are still kept top secret. Evidence like President Kennedy's brain disappeared from the lab and witnesses to contrary theories kept dying by causes like car accidents and karate chops. The young attorney who argued the "magic bullet" theory -that one bullet went through JFK, bounced, zipped through Governor Connolly, zinged back through Kennedy ,etc, and turned up undented in the governor's hospital bedsheets- is still in the senate today-Pennsylvania Republican Arlen Spector. Maybe we’ll know more when the CIA’s papers on the assassination are published in 2029 and Jackie Kennedy’s memoirs are unlocked in 2060. Oh Boy, I can’t wait!

1977- Bob McKimson, Warner director of countless Foghorn Leghorn shorts, falls dead of heart failure in front of Friz Freleng and Yosemite Sam animator Gerry Chiniquy while having lunch. Animator Ben Washam told me McKimson was one of the finest Bugs Bunny draftsmen. That he could draw Bugs from toe-to-toe without have to make a preliminary rough sketch first. That final morning animator Art Leonardi had asked Bob for a souvenir drawing, Bob did him a Bugs Bunny but as he was leaving Art reminded him that he neglected to sign it. Bob said as he walked out "Oh, I'll get to it after lunch..."

1989- The Japanese corporate giant Sony purchased Columbia and TriStar Pictures, starting a wave of Japanese investment in Hollywood.

2003- Hours after the seasons final concert, in the middle of the night, the historic bandshell at the Hollywood Bowl was demolished. After a long legal fight with preservationists the historic 1929 structure designed by Frank Lloyd Wright that Gershwin and Stokowski played in was replaced with a new shell promising better acoustics.

Sept 26, 2006 Old Watering Holes.
September 26th, 2006

For many years animators were known as hard drinkers. It made me pause for a moment to recall some of the regular hangouts the elite corps of toon meisters retreated to after a hard day dropping anvils on anthropomorphosied ducks and bunnys.
courtesy of the
Alfonses in Burbank. Before it closed in 1994 it was the hangout of many old Disney animators, calling themselves the Dinsosaur Club.
In the 1930's Hyperion Era many Mousketeers liked the Tam O' Shanter in Los Feliz. The roadhouse was then the closest bar to Hyperion so the Disney crew nicknamed it "The Commissary" To this day there is a nice picture of John Hench flanked by the Disney characters hanging in honor.
Other Disney hangouts included The Snow White Cafeteria in Hollywood, Pinnochios in Burbank and the Smoke House on Barham Blvd., also a favorite of Hanna and Barbera and the UPA crew.The younger Disney animators, the ones who drink more than mineral water,preferred Spaffs and the Cinnabar in Glendale.

Union animators who wanted to meet in secret in the 1930s met at various places including El Coyote on Melrose and the secret bar beneath the Hollywood Legion Hall on Highland.

Commerical animators in the 60s like Playhouse Pictures and Quartet liked Boardners in Hollywood,where for many years model sheets of Charlie Tuna and Toucan Sam and production charts adorned the walls. then they would meet their Hanna Barbera counterparts at Charles & Company on Vineland and Ventura in Studio City. Filmation artists in Reseda spent their breaks at the Bunker, on Sherman Way. Chuck Jones Acme Prod animators liked the rooftop lounge of their Vine and Sunset building.

New York animators in the 60s and 70s used to congregate at Costellos on 44th St. It became the hangout for the National Cartoonist Society and the New Yorker Magazine crowd. James Thurber, drunk as a skunk used to take out his ever present pencil and draw cartoons on the wall. Costello the owner had them etched into the wall and when he moved the bar had the walls taken out and moved with him.
Cartoonists also liked the Palm on 3rd Ave.

Nelvana animators in Toronto loved the Skipper, on Harborfront. In the early days the studio founder Patrick Loubert would join us all and buy a round. Dublin animators for Sullivan/Bluth loved the Deer Park Pub. London animators would network every friday about what pub in Soho to rondevous. The whole community would meet week after week at the Coach & Horses, The Green Man and more. On Who Framed Roger Rabbit? in 1987 we hung out at the Edinborough Castle in Camden Town, across from a flat once owned by Dylan Thomas.

So here's a tip of my glass to the tippling animators. They partied hard, but also created the great cartoons. If you can think of any other watering holes, drop me a line.

Birthdays: George Gershwin, T.S. Elliot, John Chapman (also known as Johnny Appleseed)-1774, Winsor McKay-1869, Theodore Gericault -1791, Olivia Newton-John, Cheryl Tiegs is 59, Marty Robbins, Linda Hamilton, Pope Paul VI, Jack Lalanne is 94, Melissa Sue Andersen, Phillip Bosco, James Cavaziel, Surena Williams

303a.d. -Feasts of Saints Cosmas & Damian . The Syrian twin doctors were nicknamed 'The Moneyless" and this was before HMO's. they were martyred by being crucified, stoned, shot full of arrows, beheaded then they had to read their own prescriptions.

1820- In Defiance Missouri 85 year old frontier scout Daniel Boone died of acute fever and indigestion from eating too many yams. He did all of his exploring without a compass. Someone once asked him - Didn't you ever get lost? He replied, No, but I was once bewildered for three days...

1887- Emile Berliner patented the gramaphone, rejecting Thomas Edison's cylinder in favor of a flat disc record on a turntable.

1892- The John Philip Sousa Band makes it's first public appearance.

1926- Bullock's Wilshire department store opened. It's Tea Room quickly became the in place for Hollywood Society to see and be seen in.

1937- "Queen of the Blues" Singer Bessie Smith died after a car accident in Mississippi. She crashed her Packard into a parked car. She was 43. One account said she died because she was refused treatment in a segregated hospital but the truth was she was treated by a white doctor at the scene and sent to the nearest hospital, which was a black one.
1941- Max Fleischer's "Superman" cartoon debuts. They were much more expensive that the usual short cartoons- $90,000 to the usual $40,000, but Paramount wanted them.

1955- Eddie Fisher married Debbie Reynolds.

1957- The musical West Side Story opened. The legend goes composer Leonard Bernstein was in the hospital to be operated on for a deviated septum. While recuperating he ran into lyricist Steven Sondheim, who was also recovering from an operation. To pass the time while convalescing they started working on the idea of an updated Romeo and Juliet set to music. One early title discarded was Gang Way!

1960-THE FIRST NIXON-KENNEDY TELEVISED DEBATE. The first televised presidential debate that really ushered in the era of the "media-candidate". People who heard the debate on radio thought Vice President Nixon had won because he scored more points on issues. But far more who saw it on Television lauded Kennedy because of his cool, calm Presidential bearing as opposed to Nixon's pale sweaty-lipped nervousness. For years Nixon put down his electoral defeat to the fact that he refused stage makeup before going on camera .One New York Times analyst recently referred to Kennedy & Nixon as the Roadrunner & Wile E. Coyote of American politics.

1961- Nineteen year old folk singer Bob Dylan made his debut in a Greenwich Village coffee house Gerde’s Folk City.

1961- Fidel Castro gave a speech to the United Nations that lasted 4 and 1/2 hours.

1962-The Beverly Hillbillies debuts. The story goes that CBS mogul William Paley disliked farm-humor type shows and this was premiered behind his back while he was on vacation. It was the masterpiece of programming chief James Aubrey, nicknamed "the Smiling Barracuda". One wag said Aubrey deserved a statue because he was the first t.v. executive to realize that even if you put garbage on the tube people will watch it anyway. When Aubrey took over CBS they were doing "Playhouse 90" and when he left they were doing "Mayberry RFD".

1964-The premiere of Gilligan’s Island. The good ship Minnow was named for William Minnow, the FCC Chairman who first called television “A Vast Wasteland”.

1983- Filmation's "He-Man and the Masters of the Universe".The popular toy was originally supposed to be a product tie -in to the Arnold Schwarzenegger film Conan the Barbarian, but toy maker Mattell balked at the films R rated violence, so changed the toy's name. I Have The Powerrrrrr!!!

1987- A market research group called Q-5 tried to use a bank of computers to design the ultimate safe wholesome politically correct children's show. They came up with "The Little Clowns of Happytown"-. Of the 26 children's series in syndication it remained dead last in ratings, He-Man, Jem and G.I.Joe on top. The people have spoken.

1990- The Motion Picture Association changed the rating for the naughtiest movies from X to NC-17.

2004- Florida gets hit with it’s fourth hurricane in six weeks. Hurricane Jean killed 6 and caused billions in damage. The last time Florida was hit by that many hurricanes was in 1886.