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It’s Kind of a Funny Story

Spoiler alert: There’s no gunfire, no emergencies, no big-time scary scenes in this movie, but you’ll like it.

I had a friend who I visited in a place like this. The guy worked in my bicycle shop. He had been evicted from three homes because he somehow figured that the furnaces in each place were putting out dangerous fumes. I asked him about that, and all he could tell me is that the fumes were bad and they weren’t carbon monoxide.

When he called the fire department in the middle of the last place, there was nowhere left that he could rent. He ended up homeless. This was winter on the east coast of the United States. He equipped his bicycle with full winter camping gear, and ended up living in the woods.

Then, one night, he got the notion that the local mental ward in the university hospital, where he had been a few times before, wasn’t feeding the patients right. He claimed, perhaps rightly, that the food did not have enough nutrition. As the night shift orderlies tried to calm him and assure him that they’d pass the message along to the doctors in the morning, he became upset because he knew they were just placating him. He became more and more upset, and of course they had to commit him again.

When he didn’t show up for work for a few days, I started asking around and discovered that he was committed. I did visit, and the place was quite like in the movie. However, during the time I was there, I did not see anyone who was catatonic, violent, or looking crazy in any way. There were just people playing chess, conversing, watching TV or reading books.

There’s more to this story. I recorded the whole thing in Five Years in the Bike Shop.

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Sun Valley Serenade

This full movie is cued up to start at the musical and dance entertainment portion. You can rewind to the beginning to see the full movie if you wish. This is a level of entertainment that is probably not possible today.

The orchestra was led by Benny Goodman who was as big as the Beatles in his day – about 25 years before the Beatles. Benny’s instrument was the clarinet, something that’s been nearly entirely missing from the mainstream music scene for at least fifty years.

Sun Valley Serenade was recorded in Sun Valley, Idaho. The venue still exists to this day. Your author and his wife had the pleasure of staying in the Sun Valley Lodge 20 or so years ago where we met ice skating legends Scotty Hamilton, Katarina Witt, Oksana Baiul, and others in person. The room the orchestra played in looks the same to this day.

Skating stars tend to vacation in Sun Valley and neighboring Ketchum, Idaho in the summers during their off season. Many of them practice in the two skating rinks and some participate in public shows on Friday or Saturday nights. Sun Vally has a year-round outdoor ice rink, one of the few, and perhaps the only year-round outdoor rink in the world. To keep the ice frozen, they have four Diesel-powered refrigerators each as big as a full-size cargo container.

I believe you’ll agree with me that the dance sequence is one of the best ever. It is performed by the Nicholas Brothers and Dorothy Dandridge. The brothers were born in 1914 and 1921 to a pianist mother and drummer father.

The Nicholas Brothers, Harold and Fayard, who lived to the age of 92, later taught master tap dance classes as teachers-in-residence at Harvard University and Radcliffe College. Janet Jackson and her brother Michael studied under the Nicholas brothers.

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Charlie Brown Medley – The Piano Guys

The actual name of this song is “Linus and Lucy.” It was recorded in 1964 by Vince Guaraldi. This piece was commissioned by Lee Mendelson for the upcoming movie, “A Boy Named Charlie Brown.”

From Wikipedia, “Within several weeks, Mendelson received a call from an excited Guaraldi who wanted to play a piece of music he had just written. Mendelson, not wanting his first exposure to the new music to be marred by the poor audio qualities of a telephone, suggested coming over to Guaraldi’s studio. Guaraldi enthusiastically refused, saying ‘I’ve got to play this for someone right now or I’ll explode!’ He then began playing the then untitled “Linus and Lucy” for Mendelson, who agreed the song was perfect.”

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Bebo Best and the Super Lounge Orchestra – Sing, Sing, Sing

From the website,

Bebo Best, a.k.a. Bebo Baldan, theAlchemist

Producer, musician, arranger (1987 – present)

Very early he gained a main role in the world music scene as a promising composer, arranger and session man. His works have been released, from various European labels, in the same albums with personalities such as Jon Hassel, Steven Brown, Steve Reich, Michael Nyman, Wim Mertens, David Torn, Ruichy Sakamoto, Frank Zappa (see DISCOGRAPHY). He composed soundtracks for cinema, tv, theatre, ballet. He received international recognitions for his original use of electronic instrumentation melted with world, jazz, classical and pop music.

He begins as a young man studying contemporary classical music, joining the school of “Percussione e ricerca Ensemble”, with teachers of “Orchestra La Fenice” Gottardo Paganin and Eddy de Fanti in Venice (first as a student, then as a teacher).
He dedicates to the study and performance of the music by composers such as E. Varese, J. Cage, S. Reich. T. Riley.
He continued his studies with great masters such as Kenny Clarke, Nana ‘Vasconcelos, Trilock Gurtu, Dave Weckl.
He also began composing, experimenting with early forms of electronic music along with ongoing research on ethnic music.

The first published work is Pangea (1987 – now sold out). The first cd “Soniasikri” comes out in Belgium for the Sub Rosa label in 1991.
Since then, Bebo participates on over 400 album in Europe, USA, Japan, for SONY MUSIC, EMI, CINEDELIC, CHIN -CHIN, RAMBLING/JAPAN, as a composer, arranger, musician, sound engineer.

The main projects came out with the names of: Bebo Baldan, Tantra, Tantra Tribe, Magnetic 4, Bebo Best, the Super Lounge Orchestra (in chronological order).

He has shared the stage with: Subsonica, Tambours du bronx, Sabri Brothers, Punjabi Mc, Sufi Dervisci Rotanti, Carmen Consoli, F. De Gregori, P. Pelù, Tiromancino, Nick Cave, Transglobal Underground…

He participate to the project “Asian Garden”, with: TRANSGLOBAL UNDERGROUND, NITIN SAWHNEY, TRILOK GURTU, ASIAN DUB FOUND., SINEAD O’ CONNOR , and highlight at the “1 Maggio- RAI national TV” festival in Rome, with an audience of over 700.000 people.

• AS a Session-man he’s a well-known bass player, percussionist and drummer. Also plays Sitar, keybs and guitar. He has played infinite genres (jazz, funk, blues, classical, contemporary classical, Brasilian, salsa, house, pop, Indian, Afro, Ethnic, chill-out, experimental, minimalism) in music festivals abroad in like England, U.S.A., Italy, France, Switzerland, Curacao, Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil, Estonia, Hungary, Germany, working with/for U.S.A. top musicians David Torn (david bowie, jan garbarek, don cherry, david sylvian), Mark Abrams, Duck Baker, Cheryl Porter, Stephen James, and Mad Professor, Visnadi, Max m’bass’ado’, Pietro Russino, Victor Mc Surely (from Robert Fripp’ League of crafty guitarists), Patricio Morales, Vincenzo Zitello, Makam, Tintin, Sheik Omar Sanogo, Nour Eddine, Ghassan Mawlawi, Hakkah, Alex Masi, Alex Monti, Aldo Tagliapietra (le orme), Roberto Bortoluzzi (marisa monte), Gigi Masin (bjiork), Estasia, Francesco Boldini, Renato Nota, David Soto Chero; blues men Andy J. Forest, Dick Herstall-Smith, Tolo Marton, James Thompson, David Srb, Fabio Treves; world music projects as Tantratribe, Paki Zennaro, Leo d’ Angilla, Anita Sief, Arlo Bigazzi; pop Pitura Freska, Skardy, Nossa alma Canta, Sabrina Salerno, Angela Milanese, Ricky Gianco, Andrea Braido, Bruno Lauzi, Magnetic 4, with top jazz players Marco Tamburini, Francesco Bearzatti, Edu Hebling, Maurizio Scomparin, David Boato, Danilo Gallo, Marco Castelli, Massimo Donà, Saverio Tasca, Marco Ponchiroli, brazilian singers Luma, Ligia Franca, Silvania dos Santos, Rosa Emilia, Gilberto Gil​

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Fred Astaire Biography

Fred Astaire’s birth name was Frederick Austerlitz. He lived to the age of 88, continuing to perform up to 82 years old. Fred was born in 1899 in Omaha, Nebraska. He was more than just a dancer, also being highly skilled in singing and acting as well as playing clarinet, accordion and piano.

Not being happy with Omaha, Fred’s mother hoped he, and his older sister Adele might take up vaudeville performing so she could move to some place more interesting to her, such as New York City. Adele enjoyed her dance lessons, but Fred was simply not interested – at first.

Around 1933, Fred was hoping to break into movies. After an early screen test, a casting director reported, “Can’t sing. Can’t act. Balding. Can dance a little.”

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30 Things Only Baby Boomers Will Remember

When VCRs came out, they sold for $1,200. Eventually, you could rent videos for $4.95/day (US). At the end of the era, you could buy a VCR, complete with a remote for $59 and movies were often five videos for five days for five dollars.

Your author was fortunate to take typing lessons in public school during 5th grade, around age eleven. We all had to bring our own typewriters from home. Mine was about 30 pounds in came in a box like a hard suitcase. I was envious of the kids who had smaller typewriters. I was especially envious of the few who had electric typewriters. Imagine, with an electric typewriter, one didn’t have to make a point of pressing the A and the ; keys hard enough to match the impressions on the paper of the J and F keys.

When the phone rang, you answered it! There was no way of knowing who was calling, and they couldn’t leave messages until later, when answering machines became common. Most of the answering machines used cassette tapes. You had to rewind or fast-forward through the tape to hear your messages. Every now and then, something would go wrong and the tape would spill out of the cassette. When that happened you had to carefully suck it back in by turning one of the spools with a Bic pen stuck through it’s middle. Bic pens fit just right. Nothing else worked as well.

All serious amateur photographers had darkrooms. This was a room in the house where the photographer could lay out trays of chemicals, and a vertically-oriented projector that would shine light through negatives onto light-sensitive paper. The paper was then soaked in three trays of chemicals to develop the print. Drying these was always problematic. You couldn’t just leave a print laying around. It would curl up into a tight spiral. For black-and-white photos, which most were at the time, the darkroom had a dim red or orange light, called a safelight, that allowed a person to see, but would not harm the photos. For color photography, the safelight was a ridiculously dim olive green.

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Dance Like Octopus

This dance is executed by Kazuho Monster who says he wants to be the best dancer in the world. Has he already achieved that? You be the judge. You’ll find more dance videos on his channel:

Many of Kazuho’s moves are evolved from breakdancing, which originated in New York City in the early 1970s. Here’s an article with more detail about breakdancing:

People who perform breakdancing are called b-boys, b-girls, breakdancers, or breakers.