Enough With the Politics!
To the Editor:
Here is my answer to Charles Suhor’s answer to esteemed editor Andy Senior’s “Problem Attic” article in the April Issue. Enough already. This is a non-political publication, and we risk alienating the readers whose political positions are, no doubt, all over the map (or we risk inviting them to continue the argument forever). Many years ago I sent a letter to The American Rag mentioning my own far left position and saying we should not let political differences break up possible musical friendships, and Don Jones, from his far right position, endorsed it.
Now anyone who knows anything about me is aware of my politics so it will surprise no one if I end with this. Comes the revolution I will be Commissar of Culture, and when I am, the national anthem will be “The Teddy Bears’ Picnic,” and you will sing it.
My initial column, in April, was to give vent to my sputterings about, among other things, a particularly beloved book of my childhood being dismissed as somehow hateful. I certainly don’t follow a certain bowtie-clad preppy TV commentator who tries to whip up everything into a culture war. I most probably shouldn’t have ventured into those waters, seeing as how the debate would continue until July (and beyond). I was merely mourning the loss of yet another thing I’ve loved. Each thing that passes underlines my own impending mortality.
Perhaps I don’t express often enough how much I actually loathe politics. I don’t want any bedfellows, strange or not. Sleeping alone is fine. I grew up in a political household, and my distaste for politics is lifelong. Which is not to say that I haven’t sent my share of bitter letters to the editor. I even participated in a campaign or two. I did so fully realizing that my candidate was only marginally better than the one needing to be removed.
And yes, “The Teddy Bears’ Picnic” is something we can all unite behind. Metaphorically, it is perfect! – Ed.
A Casa Loma Memory
To the Editor:
A few days ago I ran across your essay “My Father and Casa Loma.” Your story is nearly identical to my own, so I decided to email you.
Back in 1956 or 1957, when I was a freshman in high school, I was walking through the living room, and I paused to listen to the beginning of a song that sounded somewhat like “California, Here I Come,” however, it quickly became evident that it was a completely different song. I asked my stepfather what the song was, and he replied “Casa Loma Stomp.” He told me a little about the band, his favorite, although he had played trumpet with several name bands including both Tommy Dorsey and Jimmy Dorsey when they had dates in New England.
From that day on I was HOOKED on big band music in general, but Glen Gray and the Casa Loma Orchestra in particular. I have collected all of their records and CDs that I could get hold of including many 78s. I also have a considerable collection of articles and old photographs of the band. Actually, in 1963, I was able to obtain an invitation for my stepfather and myself to the very last Casa Loma recording session that Glen Gray was well enough to attend.
When I attended the recording session for the last three selections for the album Today’s Best, Glen Gray was already too unwell to lead the band. He arrived, greeted the musicians, and then spent the remainder of the three hours in the booth. (I seem to recall being told that until that last night, he had been in the hospital since arriving in California three days earlier.) My stepfather did run into him at the water fountain, and they discussed the old days in Massachusetts. We were actually guests of Ray Sherman who played piano on all of the newer Casa Loma recordings. That night, the band was actually conducted by the arrangers, Larry Wagner and Van Alexander.
To this day, I still listen to my Casa Loma recordings very frequently. I, too, thank my stepfather for introducing me to Glen Gray and the Casa Loma Orchestra.
One more story … Five or six years ago, I was looking on YouTube for a Fats Waller video, and I happened on a video by Stephanie Trick and Paolo Alderighi. For the second time, I was HOOKED! I now listen to them or watch their videos regularly, and I attend their live performances whenever possible. Additionally, I am enjoying my membership in patreon.com which allows this amazing couple to play virtual concerts every month.
Thanks so much for your story! I’m moved that my essay resonated with you. The Casa Loma story appeared in TST a few years ago, but I’m happy that my webmaster promoted it over Fathers’ Day weekend. –Ed.
Remembering Rich Conaty
To the Editor:
Enclosed is my check in the amount of $40 to renew my subscription to The Syncopated Times.
I began my subscription several years ago in response to Rich Conaty’s Big Broadcast on WFUV-FM. I listened faithfully Sunday evenings from 8 PM until 12 Midnight. Rich was a great host filled with information and humor. He introduced two or three records at a time. He filled the program with mostly music. Suddenly, it would be midnight.
I enjoy your clever editorials. God bless you.
Rev. Msgr. James Cuneo
I am deeply grateful that you continue to subscribe to my paper and that you enjoy my writing.
I was there with you, listening to Rich Conaty on WFUV every week. His program of 1920s and 1930s music was an oasis in a sea of discord. The world could use a dozen more of him.
Rich was most generous in his support of The Syncopated Times and helped us get our footing in our first year of publication. I miss him terribly. – Ed.