Category Archives: Uncategorized

How to calm your nervous system

Take a deep breath, expanding your belly. Pause. Exhale slowly to the count of five. Repeat four times.

Congratulations. You’ve just calmed your nervous system.

Here are three basic breathing exercises to try on your own.

 If you have the time to learn only one technique, this is the one to try. In coherent breathing, the goal is to breathe at a rate of five breaths per minute, which generally translates into inhaling and exhaling to the count of six. If you have never practiced breathing exercises before, you may have to work up to this practice slowly, starting with inhaling and exhaling to the count of three and working your way up to six.

  1. Sitting upright or lying down, place your hands on your belly.
  2. Slowly breathe in, expanding your belly, to the count of five.
  3. Pause.
  4. Slowly breathe out to the count of six.
  5. Work your way up to practicing this pattern for 10 to 20 minutes a day.

Stress Relief

When your mind is racing or you feel keyed up, try Rock and Roll breathing, which has the added benefit of strengthening your core.

  1. Sit up straight on the floor or the edge of a chair.
  2. Place your hands on your belly.
  3. As you inhale, lean forward and expand your belly.
  4. As you exhale, squeeze the breath out and curl forward while leaning backward; exhale until you’re completely empty of breath.
  5. Repeat 20 times.

When the mid-afternoon slump hits, stand up and do some quick breath-work to wake up your mind and body.

  1. Stand up tall, elbows bent, palms facing up.
  2. As you inhale, draw your elbows back behind you, palms continuing to face up.
  3. Then exhale quickly, thrusting your palms forward and turning them downward, while saying “Ha” out loud.
  4. Repeat quickly 10 to 15 times.

Ben Bryant

Recently, I “met” Ben Bryant over the Internet. How that came about, I don’t recall. Ben and I attended Hollywood High School in the early ’50s. Ben was a year ahead of me and we never met, but likely “bumped” into each other in the hallways. He has had a fascinating “career” (“life” might be more accurate). He recently published his memoirs in three books: Three Stages-My Journey, Circumstances Beyond My Control, and Waiting for Elizabeth. The books are available in all e-book formats as well as paperback and can be found at http://www.entertainmentbooksbyben.com/books/

Ben has been in show business, in one way or another, since he was in college. Until 1971 he was a successful actor and singer in theatre, film, TV, and director in theatre. In his books he captures the entertainment industry experience in a personal way that is quite enjoyable to read. He’s worked with dozens of stars and gives a “backstage view” that is sure to please. Each book covers a certain period of his life. The third of his autobiographical trilogy spans the years 1990 through 2014. The central story is his losing and regaining the love of his life, Elizabeth, while he continues his artistic evolution, finally as an editor and director in video. It is a satisfying and happy ending to Ben’s extraordinary memoirs.

I recommend the trilogy. I certainly enjoyed the read.

Frank Rosolino – Jazz Trombonist

Frank Rosolino (August 20, 1926 – November 26, 1978) was an American jazz trombonist.

FrankRosolino

Biography

Born in Detroit, Michigan, Frank Rosolino studied the guitar with his father from the age of 9. He took up the trombone at age 14 while he was enrolled at Miller High School where he played with Milt Jackson in the school’s stage band and small group. Having never graduated, Rosolino joined the 86th Division Army Band during World War II.

Perhaps most influential of all was the street education Rosolino received after returning to Detroit following his period in the Army during which he sat in at the Mirror Ballroom or the Bluebird where other to-be-renowned musicians also congregated, the Jones brothers (Hank, Thad, and Elvin), Tommy Flanagan, Kenny Burrell, Paul Chambers and later at the 3 Deuces on 52nd Street in New York City with Charlie Parker. During these years Rosolino was also performing with the big bands of Bob Chester, Glen Gray, Tony Pastor, Herbie Fields, and perhaps most notably Gene Krupa and Stan Kenton. After a period with Kenton he settled in Los Angeles where he performed with Howard Rumsey’s Lighthouse All-Stars (1954–1960) in Hermosa Beach.

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, between nightclub engagements, Rosolino was active in many Los Angeles recording studios where he performed with such notables as Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan, Tony Bennett, Peggy Lee, Mel Tormé, Michel Legrand, and Quincy Jones among others. He can also be seen performing with Shelly Manne’s group in the film I Want to Live! (1958) starring Susan Hayward, and also in Sweet Smell of Success (1957) with Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis. He was also a regular on The Steve Allen Show and a guest artist on The Tonight Show and The Merv Griffin Show. Rosolino was also a talented vocalist, renowned for his wild form of scat singing. He recorded one vocal album, Turn Me Loose!, featuring both his singing and trombone playing. He can also be seen performing in the half-hour syndicated program Jazz Scene USA, hosted by Oscar Brown, Jr.

It was during the 1970s that Rosolino performed and toured with Quincy Jones and the Grammy Award winning group Supersax.

Frank Rosolino died tragically at his own hands November 26, 1978 in Miami at Chubby Jackson’s Swiss Chalet Jazz Club, following the shooting of his two sons.

Below are tunes copied from youtube.com, some with commentary, starting with one of my favorites:

http://youtu.be/pvudYgjh7So Frank Rosolino trombone solo “I Just Don’t Want to Run Around Anymore” 1973 (Conversation – studio album) by Frank Rosolino, Conte Candolin

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BA3UXTwuOqY Trombones Unlimited Medley #3 Jamaica Farewell and A Night in Israel Frank Rosolino and Mike Barone 1968

http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/trombonesultd Album Notes This CD contains two original albums, Holiday For Trombones and One Of Those Songs, recorded in1967-68 by a studio recording group called Trombones Unlimited. “That is, we were hired to go into a studio and read this music and record it live. There were some vocal and flute overdubs later, but everything we did was live. ‘We’ at this time were Frank Rosolino and Mike Barone on trombones, and Bobby Knight on bass trombone. We never had a recording contract––we just played for scale and went home.” (anon)

http://youtu.be/jqAcUE7WoOE Frank Rosolino Quartet – Live TV 1962 Created by television pioneer and life-long jazz devotee Steve Allen, Jazz Scene USA was a nationally syndicated television program in the beginning of the 60s; an attempt to intelligently feature jazz on television, it only lasted a year as one would expect. All appearances are featured in a relaxed, casual atmosphere created by hipster host, singer Oscar Brown Jr. Uncompromising in its use of imaginative camera angles; the visual style is on a par with the music. A time capsule to cherish from America’s golden days of televised jazz. This episode features trombone god, Frank Rosolino, who puts the studio on fire with his jaw-dropping technique and unparalleled showmanship. Frank Rosolino, trombone, Mike Melvoin, piano, Bob Bertaux, bass, Nick Martinis, drums. This was taken from an episode of Jazz Scene USA that was hosted by Oscar Brown, Jr. and produced by Meadowlane Productions that belonged to Steve Allen. At the time of this recording, Frank was in Don Trenner’s band that appeared on The Steve Allen Show that ran from July 1962 to October 1964. Frank was an amazing talent; he not only did some great solo work on Steve’s show, but he also was let loose in many comedy skits. Thank you for the posting. Many memories have been rekindled.

http://youtu.be/KvYHKmqsC20 A Rare Frank Rosolino trombone track Quiet Nights from the In Denmark LP recorded 30 Aug 1978 .This was the track that was omitted from the cd release, probably because of the 14 minutes length, but it’s well worth a listen and a cool ending too Thomas Clausen piano, Bo Stief Bass, Jarne Rostvold Drums

http://youtu.be/NUO6Sk71pcY Gene Krupa, Frank Rosolini – Pennies From Heaven

http://youtu.be/iS4BnISISso Frank Rosolino, Carl Fontana, Bill Watrous.mp4 – I believe it is a song based on “Rhythm Changes” Ms. Tilton.

http://youtu.be/94qVX-0KrVM Carl Fontana & Frank Rosolino – Masters of the Trombone

http://youtu.be/3JfZ2YP0Bvg?list=PLBB6CC5CEC677BC2F Frank Rosolino – Lemon Drop with the Herbie Fields Septet. “Live at the Flame Club,” St. Paul, (1949) Scat done with humor and technique

http://youtu.be/QiRUcDYMg3Q?list Frank Rosolino – Lemon Drop (1978) Frank Rosolino performs “Lemon Drop” with the Bubba Kolb Trio at the Village Jazz Lounge in 1978. Bubba Kolb – piano

http://youtu.be/Clbgf3Oglqs Frank Rosolino – Autumn Leaves Frank really getting down! Rosolino is backed here by Louis Van Dyke on piano, Jacques Schols on bass and John Engels on drums

http://youtu.be/p_KXWbU1ztM Frank Rosolino playing his version of Stardust from 1958 Free for All album

http://youtu.be/lHBkwphyvKo Satin Doll (1968) with Frank Rosolino and Carl Fontana – Satin Doll performed on “Jazz For A Sunday Afternoon” (1968) solo order: Sweets Edison, Pete Christlieb, Frank Rosolino, Bobby Bryant, Carl Fontana and Chuck Berghofer.

http://youtu.be/6hcxyn8rKV4 Frank Rosolino playing a very nice ”Live” version of Nicas Dream with the Peter Herbolzheimer 1977 Gala Big Band

http://youtu.be/30Qv9kQYPI0 Frank Rosolino Lover Man

http://youtu.be/y3EMxwINgew I Should Care – Frank Rosolino (trombone) Ed Bickert (guitar) Don Thompson (bass) Terry Clarke (drums)

http://youtu.be/2ce40_xgr-U Frank Rosolino – Misty with the Bubba Kolb Trio at the Village Jazz Lounge (1978) Bubba Kolb – piano

http://youtu.be/YpbwADMg4Wc Frank Rosolino – Girl From Ipanema (1978) with the Bubba Kolb Trio at the Village Jazz Lounge

http://youtu.be/_qzE-vAhTCc Rosolino and Fontana – Wave (1978 Vancouver concert)

http://youtu.be/udJmxtwOMmI Frank Rosolino trombone feature Ballad for Heather from 1976 Harvey Mason LP Marching in the Streets (with Herbie Mann and Dave Grusin, and whoever is playing bass clarinet, perhaps Marcus Miller or Bob Mintzer.

http://youtu.be/62Musunp_70 June Christy Frank Rosolino trombone solo I’ll Remember April, 1977 with the Lou Levy Sextet (re-mastered in 2006)

http://youtu.be/ayo3-i1k93Y Frank Rosolino Trombone & Don Menza Tenor Sax Groove Blues 1977 Bass – Tom Azarello Drums – Nick Ceroli Piano – Alan Broadbent Producer, Tenor Saxophone – Don Menza, Trombone – Frank Rosolino

http://youtu.be/AUWAOfcPxz8 Frank Rosolino Trombone Blues for Alice with Supersax 1978

http://youtu.be/VCUszIaDyGA Frank Rosolino – Confirmation on Bob Cooper’s 1958 release “Coop!”

http://youtu.be/6g-4fbgpz-M Frank Rosolino – Love for Sale from Free For All (1958), a West Coast jazz classic: Frank Rosolino – trombone; Harold Land – tenor sax; Victor Feldman – piano; Leroy Vinnegar – bass; Stan Levey – drums

http://youtu.be/Ee27W4Zdxyg Frank Rosolino – 1926 – 1978: In Memoriam (Frank Rosolino performing “Violets” with The Metropole Orchestra; “Violets” by Louis Van Dyke, Jaques Schols, John Engels

Lester Young

Lester Young
Lester Young

Lester Willis Young (August 27, 1909 – March 15, 1959), nicknamed “Pres” or “Prez”, was an American jazz tenor saxophonist and sometime clarinetist.

Coming to prominence while a member of Count Basie’s orchestra, Young was one of the most influential players on his instrument. In contrast to many of his hard-driving peers, Young played with a relaxed, cool tone and used sophisticated harmonies, using “a free-floating style, wheeling and diving like a gull, banking with low, funky riffs that pleased dancers and listeners alike.”

Famous for his hip, introverted style, he invented or popularized much of the hipster jargon which came to be associated with the music.

Lester Young was born in Woodville, Mississippi, and grew up in a musical family. His father, Willis Handy Young, was a respected teacher, his brother Lee Young was a drummer, and several other relatives played music professionally. His family moved to New Orleans, Louisiana, when Lester was an infant and later to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Although at a very young age Young did not initially know his father, he learned that his father was a musician. Later Willis taught his son to play the trumpet, violin, and drums in addition to the saxophone.

Young played in his family’s band, known as the Young Family Band, in both the vaudeville and carnival circuits. He left the family band in 1927 at the age of 18 because he refused to tour in the Southern United States, where Jim Crow laws were in effect and racial segregation was required in public facilities.

In 1933 Young settled in Kansas City, where after playing briefly in several bands, he rose to prominence with Count Basie. His playing in the Basie band was characterized by a relaxed style which contrasted sharply with the more forceful approach of Coleman Hawkins, the dominant tenor sax player of the day.

He left the Basie band to replace Hawkins in Fletcher Henderson’s orchestra. He soon left Henderson to play in the Andy Kirk band (for six months) before returning to Basie. While with Basie, Young made small-group recordings for Milt Gabler’s Commodore Records, The Kansas City Sessions. Although they were recorded in New York (in 1938, with a reunion in 1944), they are named after the group, the Kansas City Seven, and comprised Buck Clayton, Dicky Wells, Basie, Young, Freddie Green, Rodney Richardson, and Jo Jones. Young played clarinet as well as tenor in these sessions. He was a master of the clarinet, and there too his style was entirely his own. As well as the Kansas City Sessions, his clarinet work from 1938–39 is documented on recordings with Basie, Billie Holiday, Basie small groups, and the organist Glenn Hardman.

After Young’s clarinet was stolen in 1939, he abandoned the instrument until about 1957. That year Norman Granz gave him one and urged him to play it (with far different results at that stage in Young’s life—see below).

Young left the Basie band in late 1940. He is rumored to have refused to play with the band on Friday, December 13 of that year for superstitious reasons, spurring his dismissal. Lester left the band around that time and subsequently led a number of small groups that often included his brother, noted drummer Lee Young, for the next couple of years; live and broadcast recordings from this period exist.

During this period Young accompanied the singer Billie Holiday in a couple of studio sessions in 1940 and 1941 and also made a small set of recordings with Nat “King” Cole (their first of several collaborations) in June 1942. His studio recordings are relatively sparse during the 1942 to 1943 period, largely due to the American Federation of Musicians’ recording ban. It was Holiday who gave Young the nickname “Pres”, short for President.

In December 1943 Lester Young returned to the Count Basie fold for a 10-month stint, cut short by his being drafted into the army during World War II.

In September 1944 Young and Jo Jones were in Los Angeles with the Basie Band when they were inducted into the U.S. Army. Unlike many white musicians, who were placed in band outfits such as the ones led by Glenn Miller and Artie Shaw, Young was assigned to the regular army where he was not allowed to play his saxophone. Based in Ft. McClellan, Alabama, Young was found with marijuana and alcohol among his possessions. He was soon court-martialed. Young did not fight the charges and was convicted. He served one year in a detention barracks and was dishonorably discharged in late 1945. His experience inspired his composition “D.B. Blues” (with D.B. standing for detention barracks).

Some jazz historians have argued that Young’s playing power declined in the years following his army experience, though critics such as Scott Yanow disagree with this entirely. Recordings show that his playing began to change before he was drafted. Some argue that Young’s playing had an increasingly emotional slant to it, and the post-war period featured some of his greatest renditions of ballads.

Recordings made during this and subsequent periods suggest Young was beginning to make much greater use of a plastic reed, which tended to give his playing a somewhat heavier, breathier tone (although still quite smooth compared to that of many other players). While he never abandoned the wooden reed, he used the plastic reed a significant share of the time from 1943 until the end of his life. Another cause for the thickening of his tone around this time was a change in saxophone mouthpiece from a metal Otto Link to an ebonite Brilhart. In August 1944 Young appeared alongside drummer Jo Jones, trumpeter Harry “Sweets” Edison, and fellow tenor saxophonist Illinois Jacquet in Gjon Mili’s short film Jammin’ the Blues.

In September 1944 Young and Jo Jones were in Los Angeles with the Basie Band when they were inducted into the U.S. Army. Unlike many white musicians, who were placed in band outfits such as the ones led by Glenn Miller and Artie Shaw, Young was assigned to the regular army where he was not allowed to play his saxophone. Based in Ft. McClellan, Alabama, Young was found with marijuana and alcohol among his possessions. He was soon court-martialed. Young did not fight the charges and was convicted. He served one year in a detention barracks and was dishonorably discharged in late 1945. His experience inspired his composition “D.B. Blues” (with D.B. standing for detention barracks).

Some jazz historians have argued that Young’s playing power declined in the years following his army experience, though critics such as Scott Yanow disagree with this entirely. Recordings show that his playing began to change before he was drafted. Some argue that Young’s playing had an increasingly emotional slant to it, and the post-war period featured some of his greatest renditions of ballads.

Young’s career after World War II was far more prolific and lucrative than in the pre-war years in terms of recordings made, live performances, and annual income. Young joined Norman Granz’s Jazz at the Philharmonic (JATP) troupe in 1946, touring regularly with them over the next 12 years. He made a significant number of studio recordings under Granz’s supervision for his Verve Records label as well, including more trio recordings with Nat King Cole. Young also recorded extensively in the late 1940s for Aladdin Records (1946-7, where he had made the Cole recordings in 1942) and for Savoy (1944, ’49 and ’50), some sessions of which included Basie on piano.

While the quality and consistency of his playing ebbed gradually in the latter half of the 1940s and into the early 1950s, he also gave some brilliant performances during this stretch. Especially noteworthy are his performances with JATP in 1946, 1949, and 1950.[citation needed] With Young at the 1949 JATP concert at Carnegie Hall were Charlie Parker and Roy Eldridge, and Young’s solo on “Lester Leaps In” at that concert is a particular standout among his performances in the latter half of his career.

While the quality and consistency of his playing ebbed gradually in the latter half of the 1940s and into the early 1950s, he also gave some brilliant performances during this stretch. Especially noteworthy are his performances with JATP in 1946, 1949, and 1950. With Young at the 1949 JATP concert at Carnegie Hall were Charlie Parker and Roy Eldridge, and Young’s solo on “Lester Leaps In” at that concert is a particular standout among his performances in the latter half of his career.

From around 1951, Young’s level of playing declined more precipitously, as he began to drink more and more heavily. His playing showed reliance on a small number of clichéd phrases and reduced creativity and originality, despite his claims that he did not want to be a “repeater pencil” (Young coined this phrase to describe the act of repeating one’s own past ideas). A comparison of his studio recordings from 1952, such as the session with pianist Oscar Peterson, and those from 1953–1954 (all available on the Verve label) also demonstrates a declining command of his instrument and sense of timing, possibly due to both mental and physical factors. Young’s playing and health went into a crisis, culminating in a November 1955 hospital admission following a nervous breakdown.

He emerged from this treatment improved. In January 1956 he recorded two Granz-produced sessions featuring pianist Teddy Wilson (who had led the Billie Holiday recordings with Young in the 1930s), trumpet player Roy Eldridge, trombonist Vic Dickenson, bassist Gene Ramey, and drummer Jo Jones – available on the Jazz Giants ’56 and Prez and Teddy albums. 1956 was a relatively good year for Lester Young, including a tour of Europe with Miles Davis and the Modern Jazz Quartet and a successful stint at Olivia’s Patio Lounge in Washington, DC.

Throughout the 1940s and 50s, Lester Young had sat in on Count Basie Orchestra gigs from time to time. The best-known of these is their July 1957 appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival, the line-up including many of Lester’s old buddies: Jo Jones, Roy Eldridge, Illinois Jacquet and Jimmy Rushing. His playing was in better shape, and he produced some of the old, smooth-toned flow of the 1930s. Among other tunes he played a moving “Polkadots and Moonbeams,” which was a favorite of his at that time.

In September 1944 Young and Jo Jones were in Los Angeles with the Basie Band when they were inducted into the U.S. Army. Unlike many white musicians, who were placed in band outfits such as the ones led by Glenn Miller and Artie Shaw, Young was assigned to the regular army where he was not allowed to play his saxophone. Based in Ft. McClellan, Alabama, Young was found with marijuana and alcohol among his possessions. He was soon courtmartialed. Young did not fight the charges and was convicted. He served one year in a detention barracks and was dishonorably discharged in late 1945. His experience inspired his composition “D.B. Blues” (with D.B. standing for detention barracks).

Some jazz historians have argued that Young’s playing power declined in the years following his army experience, though critics such as Scott Yanow disagree with this entirely. Recordings show that his playing began to change before he was drafted. Some argue that Young’s playing had an increasingly emotional slant to it, and the post-war period featured some of his greatest renditions of ballads. Like Change My Plan; I Didn’t Know What Time It Was (1956 version); Gigantic Blues;This Year’s Kisses;You Can Depend on Me; and, I Guess I’ll Have.

On December 8, 1957, Young appeared with Billie Holiday, Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster, Roy Eldridge, and Gerry Mulligan in the CBS television special The Sound of Jazz, performing Holiday’s tunes “Lady Sings The Blues” and “Fine and Mellow.” It was a reunion with Holiday, with whom he had lost contact for years. She was also in decline at the end of her career, and they both gave moving performances. Young’s solo was brilliant, considered by many jazz musicians an unparalleled marvel of economy, phrasing and extraordinarily moving emotion. But Young seemed gravely ill, and was the only horn player who was seated (except during his solo) during the performance. By this time his alcoholism had cumulative effect. He was eating significantly less, drinking more and more, and suffering from liver disease and malnutrition. Young’s sharply diminished physical strength in the final two years of his life yielded some recordings with a frail tone, shortened phrases, and, on rare occasions, a difficulty in getting any sound to come out of his horn at all.

Lester Young made his final studio recordings and live performances in Paris in March 1959 with drummer Kenny Clarke at the tail end of an abbreviated European tour during which he ate next to nothing and virtually drank himself to death. He died in the early morning hours of March 15, 1959, only hours after arriving back in New York, at the age of 49. He was buried at the Cemetery of the Evergreens in Brooklyn. According to jazz critic Leonard Feather, who rode with Holiday in a taxi to Young’s funeral, she said after the services, “I’ll be the next one to go.” Billie Holiday died four months later at age 44.

Charles Mingus dedicated an elegy, “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat,” for Young only a few months after his death. Wayne Shorter, then of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, composed a tribute, called “Lester Left Town.”

Young’s playing style influenced many other tenor saxophonists. Perhaps the most famous and successful of these were Stan Getz and Dexter Gordon, but he also influenced many in the cool movement such as Zoot Sims, Al Cohn, and Gerry Mulligan. Paul Quinichette modeled his style so closely on Young’s that he was sometimes referred to as the “Vice Prez” (sic). Sonny Stitt began to incorporate elements from Lester Young’s approach when he made the transition to tenor saxophone. Lester Young also had a direct influence on young Charlie Parker (“Bird”), and thus the entire be-bop movement. Indeed, recordings of Parker on tenor sax are similar in style to that of Young. Lesser-known saxophonists, such as Warne Marsh, were strongly influenced by Young.

Don Byron recorded the album Ivey-Divey in gratitude for what he learned from studying Lester Young’s work, modeled after a 1946 trio date with Buddy Rich and Nat King Cole. “Ivey-Divey” was one of Lester Young’s common eccentric phrases.

Young is a major character in English writer Geoff Dyer’s 1991 fictional book about jazz, But Beautiful.

The Resurrection of Lady Lester by OyamO (Charles F. Gordon) is a play and published book depicting Young’s life, subtitled “A Poetic Mood Song Based on the Legend of Lester Young.”

In the 1986 film Round Midnight, the fictional main character Dale Turner, played by Dexter Gordon, was partly based on Young – incorporating flashback references to his army experiences, and loosely depicting his time in Paris and his return to New York just before his death.

Acid Jazz/boogaloo band the Greyboy Allstars song “Tenor Man” is a tribute to Young. On their 1999 album “Live,” saxophonist Karl Denson introduces the song by saying, “…now some folks may have told you that Lester Young is out of style, but we’re here to tell you that the Prez is happenin’ right now.” Those were literally the lyrics Rahsaan Roland Kirk wrote and sang to the melody of the Charles Mingus elegy, “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat.”

Peter Straub’s short story collection Magic Terror (2000) contains a story called “Pork Pie Hat,” a fictionalized account of the life of Lester Young. Straub was inspired by Young’s appearance on the 1957 CBS-TV show The Sound of Jazz, which he watched repeatedly, wondering how such a genius could have ended up such a human wreck.

Lester Young is said to have popularized use of the term “cool” to mean something fashionable. Another slang term he coined was the term “bread” for money. He would ask, “How does the bread smell?” when asking how much a gig was going to pay.

Our Move to Mexico

Jess-Poster-shot

Hello folks. My nom de plume is Jess Waid. My hobby in retirement is novel writing. Currently, I am penning my fourth book, a police story. No, I am not a best seller, perhaps because I don’t have the gumption to go out and be a peddler. Did you know there are 22 million books being published each year? That’s a far cry from the 12,000 a decade ago. Of course, thanks to the Internet, most are Print-on-Demand, self-published works that shouldn’t see the light of day. Then there is the Fifty Shades of Grey exception. Whatever.

I mention this only because cheery Karen McConnaughey, apparently thinking I might be able to entertain you by describing my experience traveling from the southern coast of Oregon to Ajijic, Mexico, had no idea what she was unleashing. Actually, I think she expects what I have to say to be informative, perhaps helpful to future travelers. We shall see.

OK, here I go. Having reached my so-called “Golden Years” well ahead of my wife, Barbara, I commenced upon a search for a final place to retire. I sought a location somewhere on this planet that would be kinder to my aging joints than the blustery coast where I’d spent the past ten years. Before that, it was a dozen years on the shore of Lake Pend Oreille, in northern Idaho. Brrr.

When I discovered the Focus on Mexico website, I was intrigued. The year was 2009. That September, Barbara and I participated in their excellent eight-day seminar package, extending our stay several days because we liked the area so well. Soon, we decided that living lakeside in Ajijic was what we wanted to do. The temperate climate, the large lake, the terrain, and the warmth of the Mexican people convinced us.

The malecon, Lake Chapala, Ajijic
The malecon, Lake Chapala, Ajijic

Like most reasonable people, we tried to plan for everything well ahead of our departure date. Before we left Ajijic on that first visit with Focus, we started the process for IMSS coverage, and eventually got our FM3s. Fortunately that occurred before the rules changed. Recently Julie Vargas, our pretty and capable facilitator, advised us that new regulations now require us to change to an FM2 status. But then you likely know that. Hey, this is Mexico.

Folks, I don’t handle major moves well. I believe it has to do with not having had a stable home life as a youngster. So be it. Still, I told myself to take on the transplanting process one final time. I’ve got to say it has been quite an adjustment; one I am still dealing with; one I do not expect to repeat.

OK, on to our move to Mexico.

While in Oregon, Barbara was tasked with getting our personal house in order: bank accounts, utility, telephone/TV service bills for the house, etc., and getting our bookkeeper set up to handle the payroll account for our Mexican restaurant business in Brookings, Oregon.

My assignment was to set about ensuring that our unsold beachfront house and restaurant would be properly maintained; also, that the house-sitter, Maryjane, a talented artist, was up to snuff on the little things that continuously happen to buildings on the coast, due to the salt-laden and blustery air.

FYI, when the house sells, we will have an estate sale, and the big items we wish to keep will be packed, hauled and stored by Strom-White Movers to our Ajijic home.

What vehicle to use for the trip? After much discussion, we decided to keep our 2001 Silverado 1500 model, with its enclosed camper shell. It only had 86,000 miles on it, and best of all, it allowed us to bring down our computers, printers, and sundry personal items. We couldn’t see subjecting a newer vehicle to the narrow cobblestone passages and topes of Ajijic. Nevertheless, for my tummy comfort, I purchased new black wheels (the latest fad) and new tires. I had the pickup gone through completely, fitting it with new spark plugs, ignition wires, hoses, brake assemblies, wiper blades, a thorough cleaning, and a rust-preventive painting of the undercarriage.

Not exactly our vehicle, but here's a 2001 Silverado 1500
Not exactly our vehicle, but here’s a 2001 Silverado 1500

I should mention that earlier, in a Guadalajara paper, we noticed an advertisement for legalizing vehicles for Mexico. Deciding that was a good idea, I contacted Bella Flores Exports in Riverside, California. The owner, David Flores, assured me he could take care of our needs. As one might expect, we had some concerns and questions that, hopefully, his answers would satisfy. That meant a lot of phone tag during the subsequent weeks, a bit frustrating, especially the time when we were told he’d call us back the next day and no call came. We later learned that he was in France negotiating a deal with Fiat and Renault to import cars into Mexico, much cheaper than bringing them in from the States, he informed me.

Anyway, when Flores claimed he could legalize our truck for Mexico for $1100 as opposed to the $3,000 it would cost if we did it after arriving in Ajiic, we said OK. Then he explained that our Chevy pickup had to be empty. That meant unloading it at daughter DeDe’s hilltop home in Jamul, California, 128 mostly freeway miles south of Bella Flores. We had no choice but to do so.

Meanwhile, we sent him the original pink slip for the Silverado, along with copies of our Oregon insurance papers, our drivers’ licenses, and a utility bill from our future home in Ajijic proving our Mexican residence. This all occurred weeks in advance of our planned departure date. It was during this period that the phone tag took place.

Per Flores’ instructions, we delivered our empty truck to the Riverside address on a Wednesday afternoon, only to find his office closed. Numerous other businesses were located in the building, so I talked to the receptionist in the downstairs lobby, and she contacted him by phone. Fifteen or so minutes later, Flores’ assistant arrived. The man was pleasant but had no specific answers to my questions. So my daughter and I waited another ten minutes for his boss’ arrival.

When Flores showed up, he had his assistant examine our truck while Flores filled out some papers.  He asked me what the amount of the fee was that he’d quoted to me on the phone. I told him $1,100. He gave me a look of doubt, and pulled out a sheet of paper with figures for different types of vehicles. The fee for my truck was $1,600. He apologized for any misunderstanding, and said he would waive the $150 he normally charged for his personal services, whatever that meant. I thanked him.

Already committed to the process, I signed the agreement. Then he told me how fortunate I was, as Mexican federal law required all vehicles to be “smog certified,” but that it was the individual Mexican state’s prerogative whether or not to require the certification. He said that Jalisco had decided to adopt the federal smog law on January 1st and that meant registered owners, many of whom he suggested would be caught unaware, would have to bring their vehicles up to standard at a cost of around $500. I thought the difference between $1,100 and 1,600 I was paying very interesting.

Next, he told me I could retrieve my Chevy pickup on Friday at 6 o’clock.

On that day, DeDe drove me to Riverside early to avoid the expected heavy traffic. We arrived in town at 3 o’clock. Thankfully, the weather was pleasant because we found ourselves waiting outside the Bella Flores office well into the dark hours, when my pickup was finally delivered. Flores had called earlier and said his hauler was delayed at the border. In a subsequent call around 7 o’clock, he said they were only 30 minutes away as they were in Colton, a nearby town. Actually, it was 90 minutes later.

Apparently, the actual reason for the delay was something else. In retrospect I think I know why, because later, Flores said the camper shell, considered an accessory, meant there would be duty fees attached. I remember when we dropped off the truck, the assistant checked it over for damages, et cetera. It is reasonable that he told Flores about the shell.  So, did Flores, for whatever reason, wish to avoid the extra fee, and have the shell removed and stored in Colton before hauling it to the border for the legalizing process? I think so. Likely the delay was because they were remounting the shell.

At this point I must jump to the present. Several days ago we met with Julie Vargas at her “satellite office” at the Chapala de Real Hotel. The purpose was to ensure there would be no problem picking up our Jalisco license plates for the Chevy truck. Boy, was I glad we did. Julie said there were several steps that had to be gone through, including getting a letter from the police clearing our vehicle, and then going to Guadalajara at 5:30 a.m., likely standing in line indefinitely, and signing papers and paying a fee. Gloria is handling all of that for us. Yes, more pesos left my wallet, but soon we will have our truck properly legalized. I don’t know why David Flores didn’t advise us about the subsequent steps and fees that would be required.

OK, back to our move to Mexico.

Early Saturday morning found DeDe, Barbara and me loading the truck, getting all of our stuff stashed securely. It took us a good hour. Yes, the warm weather had me swiping at my wet forehead.

Guess what? When I tried to close the rear hatch, it wouldn’t seal. More sweat beads dripped from me when I discovered why.

The camper shell was skewed nearly two inches forward on the truck’s bedsides. Obviously, it had been reset on the bed in the nighttime hours, and likely in a hurry. To get to the mounting bolts meant unloading the bed. That wasn’t about to happen.

DeDe gave me three bungee cords to keep the shell’s rear lid shut while in transit.

Securing the lid was a security issue and a minor inconvenience on our nightly stops, when I had to unload dog crates and food bowls. Oh, guess I forgot to mention that we brought along our three small dogs: Beau, a 10 year-old six pound Papillon; Teri, a 10 year-old 14 pound Papillon mix; and, Chico, a two year-old 16 pound Schnoodle (papa a Poodle/,mama a Schnauzer).

A last comment about the truck situation: when we unloaded it in Ajijic, I discovered that the brake light wires to the shell had not been reconnected, so the added safety feature was missing during the drive. Not critical; we did have the regular taillights that worked.

Had Flores told me about the shell being lifted off, however, I would have checked to see that it was mounted properly. I’d gone through the process before we left Brookings when I’d removed the shell to repaint the truck bed. I knew it had to be squarely mounted to ensure the rear lid would seal. Ah well.

When we left Jamul, we headed for Camp Verde, Arizona to pick up our new pet, a nine-week-old Doberman Pinscher with ears freshly cropped. Ouch! I found Thor online when we decided, because of all the horror stories about bad guys in Mexico, that we should have a dog specially bred for protection. What attracted us to the Arizona breeder was the size of their dogs. Thor is expected to reach 30 inches at the shoulders and weigh close to 130 pounds. I recently invested in a grain shovel.

Our four-legged security system, Thor, at four weeks
Our four-legged security system, Thor, at four weeks

We spent the next night, Sunday, our first with four dogs, in Rio Rico, a small town 14 miles north of the border. It was a lovely, pet friendly hotel. Barbara had spent much time searching out such inns along our planned route. What had made it difficult was her not knowing what nights we would be arriving where, due to the phone tags with Flores and being unable to learn the exact date for delivery/pick up of the truck until we were already heading south. It’s a two-day drive to Riverside from Oregon.

In fact, Barbara spent hours online searching pet-friendly websites, like bringfido.com, gringodogs.com, and others including hotels.com. What she found was all of them were out of date, and their website information inaccurate. For instance, when she contacted the listed hotels in Guaymas, she was told they didn’t accept pets.

Go figure.

Obviously, this entailed changing our planned itinerary once we crossed the border.

Our advice: contact the hotels directly to ensure accurate information if you intend to bring your pets.  I suspect they have different rules for high and low seasons. Barbara finally called a number listed on a website for a hotel and got hotels.com.  She had the representative actually call the hotels in Los Mochis and Mazatlan to make sure that they were in fact pet friendly. Our stays in both locations were as pleasant as one might expect, having four dogs to contend with, one a puppy that wasn’t about to be left alone.

Our biggest surprise, a pleasant one at that, was the actual crossing of the border. We had all our paperwork in hand ready to show to the authorities. As we wheeled up to the guard kiosks and observed the dark-clad troops with their automatic weapons slung from their shoulders, I prepared myself mentally for the unknown. I envisioned getting the scary red light, then unloading the truck, and showing proof of ownership papers for the dogs, their shot records indicating they’d been properly inoculated within the past ten days, and that nine-week old Thor was three months old (the information about dogs needing to be three months old was confusing. As a precaution, the “dobie” people had pre-dated Thor’s whelping date).

Perhaps it was the holographic decal in the upper right corner of the windshield or maybe our rather non-descript and tightly loaded truck, but they merely glanced at us as the green light flashed. Our travails with Bella Flores had been worthwhile.

We were waved through!

A, the charm of crossing the USA-Mexico border.
A, the charm of crossing the USA-Mexico border.

Not convinced of our good fortune, I drove several kilometers, continuously checking the side-view mirrors for the policia and the federales before I accepted reality and found my breathing returning to normal.

Because of the pet-friendly hotel fiasco (finding a place to stay), the day we drove to Los Mochis found us riding along for nine plus hours. I had planned to be on the road for a maximum five hours because of the dogs. Thankfully, our pets put up with the rather cramped space on a blanket laid over suitcases behind us. We kept the extended cab’s rear and side windows open along with the AC fan for the entire trip

We used only the toll roads when available—one glimpse of the free (libramiento) roads quickly had us shelling out the pesos at the tollbooths. The fees varied at each one, and I gave up trying to reason why. All of the attendants were pleasant.

The route south was easy to follow, until we left Mazatlan. Ongoing roadwork had me missing the dirt transition lane (poor signage, plus I was behind a dump truck and couldn’t see the road ahead very well) to the toll road. We ended up in Concordia about half a marathon’s distance east of Mazatlan. It was a fringe benefit for me, as the small town, noted for its furniture makers, many of them of French descent, is where my father was born in 1911.

A bit of traffic in Guadalajara
A bit of traffic in Guadalajara

The downside of the scenic detour was it used up a critical hour, as I had planned to arrive in Guadalajara before the peak traffic hour. We hit it at five o’clock.

Aiee chihuahua! Never again.

L.A.’s Wrigley Field

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Wrigley Field was a ballpark in Los Angeles, California which served as host to minor league baseball teams in the region for over 30 years, and was the home park for the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League as well as a current major league team, the later Los Angeles Angels, in their inaugural season, 1961. The ballpark was also used as the backdrop for several Hollywood films about baseball, as well as TV series such as Home Run Derby.

Wrigley Field was built in South Los Angeles in 1925 and was named after William Wrigley Jr., the chewing gum magnate who owned the first tenants, the original Los Angeles Angels Pacific Coast League team. In 1925, the Angels moved from their former home at Washington Park (Los Angeles), which was also known as Chutes Park. Wrigley also owned the Chicago Cubs, whose home (Wrigley Field) is also named after him.

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William Wrigley Jr., the chewing gum magnate, had two ballparks named after him — the Chicago park was named for Wrigley over a year after the L.A. park’s opening

The Los Angeles Wrigley Field was built to resemble Spanish-style architecture and a somewhat scaled-down version of the Chicago ballpark (known then as Cubs Park) as it looked at the time. It was also the first of the two ballparks to bear Wrigley’s name, as the Chicago Park was named for Wrigley over a year after the L.A. Park’s opening. At the time, he owned Santa Catalina Island, and the Cubs were holding their spring training in that island’s city of Avalon (whose ball field was located on Avalon Canyon Road and also informally known as “Wrigley Field”).

Coincidentally, one of Wrigley Field’s boundary streets was Avalon Boulevard (east, behind right field and a small parking lot). The other boundaries of the block were 41st Street (north, behind left field), 42nd Place (south, behind first base), and San Pedro Street (west, behind third base and a larger parking lot). Not only did L.A. Wrigley get its name first, it had more on-site parking than the Chicago version did (or does now).

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For 33 seasons, 1925 to 1957, the park was home to the Angels, and for 11 of those seasons, 1926 through 1935 and 1938, it had a second home team in the rival Hollywood Stars. The Stars eventually moved to their own new ballpark, Gilmore Field, just west of the Pan Pacific Auditorium.

With its location near Hollywood, Wrigley Field was a popular place to film baseball movies. The first film known to have used Wrigley as a shooting location was 1927’s Babe Comes Home, a silent film starring Babe Ruth. Some well known movies filmed there were The Pride of the Yankees and the movie version of the stage play Damn Yankees. The film noir classic Armored Car Robbery had its title heist set at Wrigley. It later found its way into television, serving as the backdrop for the Home Run Derby series in 1960, a popular show that featured one-on-one contests between baseball’s top home run hitters, which had a brief revival in the 1990s when it aired on ESPN Classic. Episodes of shows as diverse as The Twilight Zone (“The Mighty Casey,” 1960), Mannix (“To Catch a Rabbit,” 1969) and The Munsters were also filmed there. Some closeups were filmed there for insertion into the 1951 film Angels in the Outfield, a film otherwise set at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh.

Wrigley was used for other sports as well. Six world title boxing bouts were held there, including the 1939 Joe Louis-Jack Roper fight. On May 28, 1959, the park hosted the USA-England soccer friendly where England won 8-1 in front of 13,000.

Dodger  Stadium
Dodger Stadium

L.A. Wrigley’s minor league baseball days ended when the Brooklyn Dodgers of the National League transferred to Los Angeles in 1958. The use of Wrigley was studied by the Dodgers, but they opted for seating capacity over suitability as a baseball field, and instead set up shop in the 93,000 seat Los Angeles Coliseum (which had a 251-foot foul line in left field) while awaiting construction of the baseball-only Dodger Stadium, which has a set capacity of 56,000.

In 1961, a new L.A. Angels club, named after the minor league team Los Angeles Angels (PCL), joined the American League as an expansion team, and took residence at Wrigley for just the one season. The team set a still-standing first-season expansion-team record with 71 wins. Thanks to its cozy power alleys, the park became the setting for a real-life version of Home Run Derby, setting another record by yielding 248 home runs. That 248 mark would stand for over 30 years. After the 1961 season, the team moved to Dodger Stadium (or Chavez Ravine, as it was known for Angels games), which was the Angels’ temporary home while Angel Stadium was being built. The new Dodger Stadium also “took over” for Wrigley Field, as the site of choice for Hollywood filming that required a ballpark setting.

Martin Luther King spoke at Wrigley in 1963
Martin Luther King spoke at Wrigley in 1963

There were no more regular tenants after 1961. By then the park was owned by the city, and various events were staged. On May 26, 1963, a large crowd attended a civil rights rally featuring Martin Luther King, Jr. By 1966 the park was being used for soccer matches and the like. Demolition began in March 1969, to make way for a new recreation facility called Gilbert Lindsay Park. The park has a ball field in the northwest corner of the property, which was once a parking area. The diamond is locally known as “Wrigley Field,” and is the home of Wrigley Little League baseball and softball. The original site of the Wrigley diamond and grandstand is occupied by the Kedren Community Mental Health Center and another parking lot.

The ballpark’s dimensions were cozy but symmetrical, giving a nearly equal chance to right and left-handed batters in the Home Run Derby series. The only difference was that the left field wall was 14.5 feet (4.4 m) high, whereas the right field fence was only 9 feet (2.7 m) high.

 

L.A.’s Farmers Market

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The Farmers Market is an area of food stalls, sit-down eateries, prepared food vendors, and produce markets in Los Angeles, USA. It also a historic Los Angeles landmark and tourist attraction, first opened in July 1934.

The Farmers Market features more than 100 restaurants, grocers and tourist shops, and is located just south of CBS Television City. Unlike most farmers’ markets, which are held only at intervals, the Farmers Market of Los Angeles is a permanent installation and is open seven days a week. The dozens of vendors serve many kinds of food—both American cuisine from local farmers and restaurants and Los Angeles’ variety of local ethnic foods from the many immigrant communities of Los Angeles, with many Latin American and Asian cuisines well represented.

Farmers Market is located at the corner of 3rd Street and Fairfax Avenue in the Fairfax District of Los Angeles, California, USA. It is adjacent to The Grove outdoor shopping mall; an electric-powered streetcar runs between the two sites.

The market is a destination for foodies in search of the market’s ethnic cuisines, as well as its specialty food markets and prepared food stalls. The front of Farmers Market displays a sign saying “Meet Me at Third and Fairfax.”

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The market started when a dozen nearby farmers would park their trucks on a field to sell their fresh produce to local residents. The cost to rent the space was fifty cents per day.

In 1870, when they moved west from Illinois, Arthur Fremont (A.F.) Gilmore and his partner bought two sizable farms, one of which was the 256-acre (1.04 km2) dairy farm at this corner. Gilmore gained control when the partnership dissolved later.

Gilmore Oil Company replaced the dairy farm when oil was discovered under the land during drilling for water in 1905. Earl Bell (E.B.) Gilmore, son of A.F. Gilmore, took over the family business. The younger Gilmore started midget car racing and brought professional football to Los Angeles. He built Gilmore Field for the Hollywood Stars baseball team, which was owned by Bing Crosby, Barbara Stanwyck, and Cecil B. DeMille.

When CBS Television City opened next door in 1952, the Farmers Market provided those working or visiting that television studio a convenient place to shop or eat.

In the 1970s The Country Kitchen, a restaurant owned and operated by Jack and Eileen Smith (located next to the still-operating Du-par’s), was popular with stars and their fans alike. Mickey Rooney could sometimes be found working behind the counter. Other customers included Elvis Presley, Regis Philbin, Rip Taylor, Mae West, Johnny Carson, and even The Shah of Iran on his visit.

Koning Eizenberg Architecture, Inc. devised a major renovation, expansion, and master plan for the Market in the early 1990s. The project was initiated to provide new retail, office, and services spaces and reconfigure circulation and parking for the historic site.

In July 1934 a contingent of farmers pulled their trucks onto an expanse of empty land at the property known as Gilmore Island at the corner of Third and Fairfax in Los Angeles. They displayed their produce on the tailgates of their vehicles; to their delight customers quickly arrived and parked their cars on a hastily created dirt parking lot in spaces designated with chalk. They strolled among the trucks purchasing fruit, vegetables and flowers.

The atmosphere was casual, the open air commerce enticing, the goods fresh, and the result remarkable. Farmers Market became an instant institution.

With a partner, Arthur Fremont Gilmore purchased two ranches in the Los Angeles vicinity. The purchase inaugurated a string of serendipitous events that not even the far-sighted Gilmore could predict. When Gilmore and his partner elected to dissolve their arrangement, they drew straws—Gilmore’s straw secured 256 acres on which he created a successful dairy farm. A.F. Gilmore had no plans for a world-renowned institution when he moved to Los Angeles from Illinois in 1870. Rather, he was seeking a better life on the promising West Coast. When he married Mary Elizabeth Bell in 1882, the small adobe on the property became the new home for his family.

At the turn of the century, while drilling for water for his herd of dairy cows, A.F. Gilmore hit oil. By 1905, the dairy was gone and the Gilmore Oil Company born.

Earl Gilmore, son of Arthur F. Gilmore later developed Gilmore Field and the Pan-Pacific Auditorium on the site.