Big Apple 100!

Larry McShane, in yesterday’s New York Daily News reminds us that May 3, 2021 was the 100th anniversary of the first time the term “Big Apple” was used to refer to New York City (by New York Morning Telegraph cub reporter and horse-racing writer, John J. Fitz Gerald). In his article, “Apple of Our Eyes: 100th ann’y of Nickname that’s Synonymous with City,” McShane relies on the work of Gerald Cohen and Barry Popik, who traced the lineage of the term:

Back in 1921, when Babe Ruth was in right field for the Yankees and Mayor John Hylan in City Hall, a horse-racing writer for the New York Morning Telegraph overheard a Louisiana chat between two Black stablehands. The pair mentioned an upcoming trip from New Orleans to New York — the Big Apple, as they called it. …

“Back then, if you wanted to refer to New York by its nickname, it was ‘Gotham’ or ‘Li’l Old New York.’ But not the Big Apple.”

The nickname was resurrected in the 1970s, during the days of rising crime and declining fiscal policy. Of course, folks at that time were talking about how the Big Apple was “rotten to the core.” But jazz aficionado Charles Gillett (and president of the NY Convention and Visitors Bureau) seized on the term, regularly used “among Harlem musicians of the ’30s, who hailed a New York gig as playing the ‘Big Apple’.”

Alas, there is no recognition anywhere in the city of Fitz Gerald (who is buried in an unmarked grave 160 miles north of Belmont Park). Nor has there been any attempt to track down those New Orleans stablehands who used the term that Fitz Gerald brought into print. Just “one more instance of the African-American influence on the language” and on New York City lore.

Happy 90th Anniversary to the Empire State Building

It took them only 13 months to erect the greatest building in the world: The Empire State Building, which opened on May 1, 1931, ninety years + 1 day ago, (h/t to my friend Mario Rizzo for reminding me of the anniversary).

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Back in 1983, they put a King Kong balloon on the building to mark the 50th anniversary of the original film classic!

Happy Easter to the Easterners!

Christos Anesti” to all my Greek (Eastern) Orthodox family and friends: Happy Easter. Enjoy this celebration of renewal and rebirth.

Song of the Day #1863

Song of the Day: Come on-a My House features the words and music of Ross Bagdasarian (yes, “David Seville” of “Chipmunks” fame) and William Saroyan. Based on a traditional Armenian folk song, it was performed in the off-Broadway production of “The Son” (1950) but became a huge #1 hit for Rosemary Clooney the following year [YouTube link]. Check out some other renditions by Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Prima (with a few Italian delicacies thrown in), Kay Starr, and Julie London [YouTube links]. Today is Moderna Second Dose + 14 Days, which means that if you too have the proper paperwork, you can “Come on-a My House” and—as the song says—I can give you candy and figs and grapes and cakes and everything, even a Marriage Ring! Well, I’m not that easy. 😉

Roark Rolled

This one came out of a chat with philosopher and friend Roderick Tracy Long! For those who have been “Rick Rolled”, consider yourself “Roark Rolled.” For like Rick Astley, Howard Roark has Red Hair and Never Gives Up [YouTube link]!

😂

“Lucky to Be Alive, & We Ain’t Kitten!”

Why anybody would attempt to rid themselves of a pet by throwing it in the trash is beyond me. Hopper the Cat is “Lucky to Be Alive” thanks to two sanitation workers in Queens, NY! Yay! Check out the story in today’s New York Daily News.

Awww…

Be Kind …

This being the Greek Orthodox Holy Week, I can think of fewer messages more important than not giving into the very things you dislike in others. It reminds me of some great dialogue from “Ben-Hur” (1959). His family destroyed, his childhood friend (Messala), who betrayed him, is now dead, and Judah Ben-Hur is turning toward the dark side. Esther, who loves him, tells him:

“It was Judah Ben-Hur I loved. What has become of him? You seem to be now the very thing you set out to destroy, giving evil for evil! Hatred is turning you to stone. It is as though you had become Messala! … I’ve lost you, Judah.”

The “miracle” at the end of the film has less to do with leprosy being cured and more to do with Judah laying down the sword, upon which his own soul was being impaled.

Song of the Day #1862

Song of the Day: Tribute to Film Composers [YouTube link], arranged and conducted by John Williams, is a celebration of some of the greatest scores—and their composers—to have ever graced the silver screen. It includes wonderful cues from such composers as Max Steiner, Bernard Herrmann, Alfred Newman, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Miklos Rozsa, James Horner, Henry Mancini, Ernest Gold, John Barry, Maurice Jarre, Malcolm Arnold, Jerry Goldsmith, Bill Conti, Elmer Bernstein, Randy Newman, Ennio Morricone (that “Cinema Paradiso” theme from yesterday), Nino Rota, and the maestro himself. The performance of this kaleidoscopic medley was a highlight of the 74th Academy Awards back in March 2002. Tonight, a new film score will take its place among those awarded over the last 93 years of Oscar.

(In the title YouTube link, Harrison Ford tells us back then that Williams had only 45 Oscar nominations, and 5 Oscars to his credit; he now has 52 Oscar nominations, second only to Walt Disney’s 59 lifetime nominations!)

Inherit the Wind … Still Riveting


This scene from the 1960 film, “Inherit the Wind” (which is on the local NY PBS station tonight), is one of the most riveting cinematic statements of the power of the individual human mind in the debate between science and religion. Based on the Scopes “Monkey” Trial, it features two giants of the silver screen: Spencer Tracy and Frederic March. Breathtaking…