Celebrity Death Watch: Jumping Jackie Jackson was a Harlem Globetrotter. Jim Fowler co-hosted Wild Kingdom.Nurit Karlin was the only woman working as a cartoonist for The New Yorker in the mid-1970’s. She later illustrated several children’s books. Giuliano Bugiallo wrote an influential Italian cookbook. Frederick Brownell designed the flags of South Africa and Namibia. Peggy Lipton was an actress, who people of my generation will probably best remember for her role on Mod Squad.
Doris Day was an actress and singer, with something of a good girl reputation. Her movies included Pillow Talk and The Pajama Game. Her best-known song was probably "Que Sera Sera." I had put her on my ghoul pool list in a reload last year, but had other priorities this year, alas.
Non-celebrity Death Watch: Constantino "Gus" Sacino owned Rhodes Delicatessen (and, later, C&S Deli) in my home town of Island Park, NY. In my childhood, Rhodes was more of a general store than what we now think of as a deli. On Sundays, my brother and I would bike over there and pick up a box of Italian pastries and a Sunday New York Times for our parents. We were allowed to spend the change on whatever we wanted to, which was mostly comic books. Maximizing our comic purchases was an incentive for us to get good at mental arithmetic. Gus was always impressed when we’d tell him what the total for our purchases would be.
Encouraging Public Transit: This doesn’t really affect me, but I was pleased to see that Massport has a new program, in which taking the Logan Express Bus to the airport from Back Bay gets you access to an expedited security line. When I go to Boston, I’m generally going to be in Cambridge, where it makes sense to switch from the Red Line to the Silver Line, and I have TSA precheck anyway, so it’s not likely to have any impact on my transit decisions. But it still seems like a nice idea. It would be even nicer if they applied it to the other Logan Express lines.
Metro Story: A writer named Natasha Tynes is apparently having a book contract revoked because she tweeted a photo of a Metro employee in uniform eating on a train, which is against Metro rules (for anyone, not just employees). This is being framed as if her tweet were racially motivated, without any apparent evidence. What annoys me the most is that the news stories cited a May 8th police order telling officers not to issue criminal citations in D.C. for "fare evasion; eating; drinking; spitting; and playing musical instruments without headphones until further advised." Sorry, but fare evasion is stealing and spitting is a public health hazard. The other things are merely annoying, although I suspect that playing music without headphones will inevitably lead to violence by those objecting and eating and drinking result in higher cleaning costs on trains.
There is a real issue about how long the breaks Metro employees get are and whether those are adequate for employees to get meals, but that’s a different subject.
Bar Mitzvah: Saturday was the bar mitzvah of a colleague’s son. He did well on his Torah portion, projecting his voice and sounding reasonably confident. His older brother read one section and was barely audible. The reception was at a rather fancy club and had a candy factory theme, with a cotton candy machine and centerpieces made with lots of candy. I welcomed the opportunity to dress up and had bought a new dress for the event.
The children had a buffet (and arcade games, including skee-ball), while the adults had a sit-down dinner. We had a magician for entertainment, who was surprisingly good. Overall, it was a nice event, though I can’t imagine how much money they spent on it.
On Air: Sunday was also a busy day. In the afternoon, I saw On Air at Creative Cauldron. This was the fifth (and final) piece in their series of Bold New Musicals for Intimate Spaces and told the story of Frank and Flora Conrad and their role in the early days of radio at 8XK and KDKA in Pittsburgh, including broadcasting election returns for the first time. It isn’t clear how historically correct the show is. For one thing, it gives Flora a lot of credit that doesn’t seem to be well-documented. For another, they actually had three children, but only one is part of the show.
But, frankly, the accuracy doesn’t matter. The show was entertaining, with an enjoyable 1920’s score and a lot of warmth. There was interesting tension between workaholic Frank and Flora, echoed in the relationship between his boss, Harry Davis of Westinghouse and his wife, Agnes. And this was further emphasized in their son, Francis, who won a health department contest for killing flies by breeding them in his bedroom.
The performances were also all good. Jimmy Mavrikis (who I’ve seen quite a lot in local shows) was excellent as Frank and well-matched by Nora Palka as Flora. Robert Aubry Davis, who is a big name in classical music radio, played the radio announcer who interviews Flora after Frank’s death. I should also call out Owen Thiebert, a sixth grade student, who played Francis.
All in all, this made for an entertaining afternoon and a fitting closure to the series.
JxJ: The Washington Jewish Film Festival and Washington Jewish Music Festival have been combined this year into one event, called JxJ. Last night, I went to see a documentary called Chewdaism: A Taste of Jewish Montreal, which was made by Jamie Elman and Eli Batalion of the web series Yidlife Crisis. It was pretty entertaining but I will wait until my quarterly movie rundown to say more. They did a Q&A afterwards with Jamie and Eli, which was, unfortunately, dominated by people who wanted to talk and didn’t have actual questions.
For the record, I like Montreal smoked meat better than I like either pastrami or corned beef. But I prefer New York bagels to Montreal bagels, which I find too sweet. (And I prefer bialys to either.)
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