Amoeblog

Bob Mitchell 1912 - 2009

Posted by Whitmore, July 12, 2009 02:36pm | Post a Comment

Bob Mitchell


The original ballpark organist for Dodger Stadium and the last surviving working keyboard accompanist from the silent-film era, Bob Mitchell, has died. He was 96.

The native Angelino, born in Sierra Madre in 1912, died this past week from congestive heart failure at Hancock Park Rehabilitation Center in Los Angeles.
 
From the first Dodger game played at the Chavez Ravine Stadium in 1962 until 1966, Mitchell was the keyboardist on the Wurlitzer double-keyboard organ with a 25-note bass pedal board. Up until that time he was best known as founder of the Robert Mitchell Boys Choir and its director for over 60 years. They appeared in more than 100 motion pictures, starting with 1936’s That Girl from Paris. Other films included the classics Going My Way starring Bing Crosby from 1944 where they sang “Ave Maria” and 1947’s The Bishop’s Wife. The choir was also documented in the 1941 Academy Award nominated short Forty Boys and a Song. Over the years more than 600 kids between the ages of about 8 and 16 performed in the Mitchell choir. Alumni include members of the Modernaires, the Lettermen, and the Sandpipers.

In 1924 at the age of 12, Mitchell began playing organ at the old Strand Theater in Pasadena, improvising soundtracks to silent movies. But with the advent of talkies and The Jazz Singer in 1927, Mitchell's first career as a silent-film accompanist was about over by the time he was 16. 65 years later, in 1992, he once again sat at the organ accompanying films at LA’s Silent Movie Theatre on Fairfax Avenue. His last public performance was this past May when he opened the Last Remaining Seats film series at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown LA.
 
Bob Mitchell began taking piano lessons at four years of age. He attended the New York College of Music before returning to Los Angeles in 1934; eventually he graduated from what is now Cal State L.A. and Trinity College in London. During the Second World War Mitchell served in the Navy and played keyboards for the Armed Forces Radio Orchestra under the direction of Meredith Willson, who later wrote The Music Man.

Minnesota's New Senator: Al Franken

Posted by Whitmore, June 30, 2009 12:05pm | Post a Comment
The Minnesota Supreme Court Tuesday morning ordered that Democrat Al Franken be certified as the winner of the state's never ending Senate race and recount that was decided by only a few hundred votes. Finally, the paint has dried ...
 
The high court rejected a legal challenge from Republican Norm Coleman, whose options for regaining the Senate seat dwindled to almost nothing. Shortly after the decision was announced, Coleman accepted the loss, conceding and congratulating Franken on his victory. Coleman told reporters outside his St. Paul home, "The Supreme Court has made its decision and I will abide by the results; in these tough times we all need to focus on the future, and the future is that we have a new United States Senator."
 
Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, said the earliest Franken would be seated is next week because the Senate is out of session for the July 4th holiday.
 
The unanimous court wrote that "because the legislature established absentee voting as an optional method of voting, voters choosing to use that method are required to comply with the statutory provisions." They went on to say that "because strict compliance with the statutory requirements for absentee voting is, and always has been required, there is no basis on which voters could have reasonably believed that anything less than strict compliance would suffice."
 
The 58 year old Franken was born in New York City but was raised in St. Louis Park, Minn., a suburb near Minneapolis. He graduated cum laude in 1973 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Harvard University. Best known as a writer and performer on Saturday Night Live from 1975-1980 and 1985-1995 and as the radio talk show host for The Al Franken Show on Air America Radio from 2004-2007, Franken has also authored several books, including Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations (1996) and Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right (2003).

Remembering Lowell George

Posted by Whitmore, June 29, 2009 12:14pm | Post a Comment

Lowell George
was the Hollywood born son of a famous chinchilla-raising furrier for Tinseltown aristocracy. His dad’s friends included the likes of Wallace Beery and W.C. Fields; matinee idol Errol Flynn lived next door. No wonder George grew up with a somewhat skewed perspective of things, eventually becoming a truly absurd, slightly eccentric slide guitarist extraordinaire. His often surreal songs defined the sound of his band Little Feat, convincing more than a few fans that they came directly from New Orleans, bringing home that convoluted and slippery vibe. Bonnie Raitt once referred to Lowell as the "Thelonious Monk of Rock & Roll."
 
In his early twenties George played in a several Hollywood based bands like the Brotherhood of Man, and a late faltering version of the Standells. Eventually he wound up with Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention, where George was soon fired. He formed Little Feat soon afterwards with the original line-up consisting of Mothers bassist Roy Estrada alongside pianist Bill Payne, with whom George had briefly played with in the Brotherhood of Man and drummer Richie Hayward from George's previous band, The Factory. According to legend, the name of the band came from a remark made by Mothers' drummer Jimmy Carl Black about Lowell's "little feet." The spelling of "feat" was an homage to The Beatles.lowell george thanks i'll eat it here
 
Thirty years ago today, June 29, 1979, Lowell Gorge died of a massive heart attack.
 
Two weeks earlier in June, 1979, George began touring in support of his first, and only, solo album, Thanks, I'll Eat it Here. The night before he died, George played before a packed Lissner Auditorium on the campus of George Washington University in Washington D.C. George's final encore was a solo acoustic version of "Twenty Million Things (to do)."
 
That Thursday night, after returning to his hotel room at the Twin Bridges Marriott in Arlington, Virginia, George complained of chest pains. Around 10am the next morning George was having problems breathing; his wife, Elizabeth, called road manager Gene Bano, though once Bano arrived George felt better. They suggested George rest while Elizabeth and Bano went to breakfast. She returned with her two children later that morning to find George unconscious on the bed.
 
Arlington County Rescue Squad's No. 75 arrived and tried to administer cardiac respiration but to no avail. Later it was determined George had probably been dead for about 45 minutes, if not a couple of hours.
 
It’s often been presumed that George died of a drug overdose; the circumstances behind his death are riddled with inconsistencies. There’s no clear account of what George did after the show. One hotel official said that some members of the band were up all night partying. But a waiter who brought food up to George's room said nothing out of the ordinary took place. Reportedly no drinks were even ordered.
 
Although George was a long time drug user, no evidence of drugs or drug paraphernalia were found at the scene, though they could have been removed before Police or Rescue Squad personnel arrived. A hotel employee who was supposedly the first person other than Mrs. George and Bano to enter the room said that he saw a large, mostly empty, phial of white powder. He also said that there were about four or five containers of prescription drugs out in the open but they were gone once the police arrived.
 
George was officially pronounced dead on arrival at Arlington Park Hospital at 1:10 p.m. Friday afternoon. A post mortem report showed that he died of heart failure.
 
When he died at the age of thirty-four George had already ballooned into Elvis-sized proportions, probably weighing in close to 300 lbs. George's fondness for junk food, hard liquor and an appetite for drugs, especially cocaine-and-heroin "speedballs," finally caught up with him.
 
Lowell George's body was cremated in Washington D.C. on August 2. His ashes were flown back to LA where they were scattered in the Pacific Ocean from his fishing boat.


The Argentinean Paramour and the Presidential Contender

Posted by Whitmore, June 26, 2009 07:38am | Post a Comment

File this under “there isn’t much of anything new under the sun.”
 
Hearing that the South Carolina Governor and possible Republican 2012 presidential candidate, 49 year old Mark Sanford, was having an affair wasn’t all that surprising. I’m beginning to believe most everyone in politics is diddling somebody on the side. But an Argentinean paramour and a southern Presidential contender reminded me of another career unraveling misadventure a few decades back.
 
In 1974, Democratic Congressman Wilbur Mills from Arkansas, the powerful overseer of federal revenue legislation as chairman to the House Ways and Means Committee and briefly a candidate for President in 1972, was caught in a year long affair with an exotic dancer from Argentina, Fanne Foxe, who worked at Washington D.C.’s not quite legendary Silver Slipper on 13th Street NW. It was reported at the time that Mills would spend as much as $1,700 a night at the club.
 
The melodrama unfolded in the wee hours of October 9, 1974. Mills’ car containing five passengers and driven by a former Richard Nixon staffer (... set up? ... conspiracy? ... you never know ...) was pulled over by D.C. Park Police for driving without headlights. Congressman Mills was intoxicated in the back seat sporting a bloody nose and a few facial scratches from an altercation he had with his companion, Fanne Foxe, born Annabelle Battistella, better known in the burlesque world as the “Argentine Firecracker.” But when police approached the car, Foxe leapt from the car and tried escaping by jumping into the nearby Tidal Basin, a man-made inlet next to the Potomac River. That didn’t work out so well; she was rescued by a policeman and taken to nearby St. Elizabeth’s Hospital for treatment.
 
Despite the scandalous headlines, Mills was re-elected to Congress in November 1974, winning 60% of the vote in a big year for Democrats following Nixon’s resignation and Watergate scandal. But a few weeks later, on November 30, 1974 at Boston's Pilgrim Theater, a Burlesque house where Fanne Foxe was performing, an intoxicated Mills was in the audience. Mills, accompanied by Foxe’s husband, was called to the stage by the exotic dancer. After exchanging a few one-liners with the audience, the Congressman received a kiss on the cheek from Foxe and then exited. According to some accounts he then held an impromptu press conference in Foxe's dressing room. The whole trip to Boston, Mills drunkenly explained, was to quell rumors he had ever had an affair with Fanne Foxe. Well, I guess some people are just a bit thick in the head. Needless to say, after this second round of embarrassing press Mills was forced to step down from his chairmanship on the Ways and Means Committee. Mills' distinguished 36 year legislative career didn’t just end, it crashed and burned. Mills checked himself into the Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD for a much needed respite; eventually he acknowledged his alcoholism and entered the West Palm Beach Institute saying he was a “sick man.” He did not seek re-election in 1976 and retired. In 1992 Mills died at the age of 82.
 
Fanne Foxe continued working as a stripper for a while longer, re-dubbing her stage show from "The Argentine Firecracker" to "The Tidal Basin Bombshell." She also authored a book about the affair, The Stripper and the Congressman. In it Foxe claims she became pregnant by Congressman Mills and had an abortion. A couple of years later it was reported she attempted suicide. After that she just faded away, eventually returning to Argentina.

Michael Jackson 1958 - 2009

Posted by Whitmore, June 25, 2009 03:13pm | Post a Comment


Pop icon Michael Jackson was rushed to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center this afternoon by Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics. Paramedics responded to a call at Jackson's home at 12:26 p.m. He was not breathing when they arrived. The paramedics performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation and took him to the UCLA Medical Center.

Paramedics were called to a home in the 100 block of Carolwood Drive off Sunset Boulevard in the Bel-Aire area of Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Times  and CNN  posted early this afternoon Jackson died of a probable cardiac arrest . His talent and ambition made him the biggest international pop star of the 1980's and 90's. His 1982 album Thriller remains the biggest-selling album of all time, selling somewhere in the range of 65 million copies world wide, powered by seven Top 10 singles and eight Grammy Awards. Michael Jackson was 50 years old.

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