J TALK

Let’s talk a bit about the “J” ladies who will join us on this 9th walk into my feminine song series. Our stroll starts with a century-old blues, the title of which has origins lost in haze beyond where the crow flies. Speculation has it that the Crow in the title refers to racist Jim Crow laws in Southern states in those vestigial days, or to the name of a Native American tribe, but no one seems to know for sure. In any case, CROW JANE is a ‘blues J’ that’s a jewel of its genre, performed here New Orleans street-style:

Next, we have a sweet little number from 1930. You’ll love her when you see….

I don’t know about you — I could go for more of this gal. But enough walking. This time, we’ll go by Cab (the fare is quite good):

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‘TWAS THE DAY AFTER CHRISTMAS

Yesterday may have been Christmas, but heaven only knows the exact date of Christ’s birth (Christmas wasn’t celebrated on December 25 until the 4th century A.D.). So, here it is the day after Christmas, which is a lull of a day following as full of a day as there is all year, and I’ve decided to find out who (of note) actually was born on December 25. Why? Not why they were born on that day (presumably, something naughty and nice happened one night nine months previously), but — why do I bother? Because inquiring minds want to know, that’s why….and my readers, being wise men and women, have inquiring minds (I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt).

Believe It or Not, Robert Ripley was born on Christmas day (in 1890). If you’re a lover of trivia, you can thank Robert Ripley for making it a popular pursuit even before you were born. Ripley was a cartoonist and amateur anthropologist who created Believe It or Not! as a panel series in Randolph Hearst’s King Features Syndicate in 1929. A year later, Ripley famously expanded into other media, including radio and short films such as this 1930 Vitaphone curio (it’s a hoot!):

Can’t get enough of his wonderful stuff? Then tune in January 6th to the PBS series American Experience (here’s a half-minute preview):

Ripley was voted the most popular man in America by the New York Times in the 1930s, a decade in which he opened (in six cities) museums called Odditoriums. He died 1n 1949 and is buried, appropriately enough, in Oddfellows Lawn Cemetery, Santa Rosa, CA.

Other notables who were born on Christmas day include Clara Barton, American Red Cross founder (1821); Kid Ory, legendary early New Orleans jazzman (1886); Humphrey (we’ll always have Casablanca) Bogart (1899); and Cab Calloway, jazz band leader (1907).

And while we’re at it, since Christmas both giveth and taketh away, here are some notable December 25th deaths: Charlie Chaplin (died 1977); two Martins, Billy (1989) and Dean (1995); and the Godfather of Soul, James Brown (2006).

And with that, I believe I’ll call it a day.

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