Category Archives: Blog / Personal Business

Alice Barker: Dancing the Harlem Renaissance

I came upon this piece on YouTube, and found it truly touching. From the description:

Alice Barker was a chorus line dancer during the Harlem Renaissance of the the 1930s and 40s. She danced at clubs such as The Apollo, Cotton Club, The Zanzibar Club, and on Broadway—with legends including Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson. Although she danced in numerous movies, commercials and TV shows, she had never seen any of them, and all of her photographs and memorabilia had been lost over the years. After years of searching we found three “Soundies” Alice appeared in and were finally able to show them to her—she had never seen herself in motion in her life!

You can learn more about Alice at the little website we’ve set up for her: All of Alice’s films from this video are collected here. For more info about the dancers of the Harlem Renaissance, we recommend the lovely documentary “Been Rich All My Life”—several of the women in the film danced with Alice back in the day! A little more about the who’s who here: “We” are friends of Alice who searched for the films and made this video. I’m David Shuff, a volunteer who visits the home with my therapy dog Katie, and have known Alice for 8 years. The woman in the video is Gail Campbell, a recreation therapist (and an amazing one at that!). She never gave up on finding Alice’s films, and uncovered the first piece of the puzzle that lead to us finding them—which was Alicia Thompson; a historian of black female performers who had been looking for Alice for years. … She told us that Alice was in films called ‘soundies’. Using that clue I found jazz historian Mark Cantor and he was able to send us three of Alice’s soundies from his collection. Shortly afterwards Alicia got us a few more films. This video was filmed on cellphones (and almost as an afterthought!) by my friends Darin Tatum and Tom Hunt.

Alice passed away peacefully on Wednesday, April 6th, 2016. She spent the last day of her life in good spirits, enjoying listening to music and having her mail read to her. Thank you to all the thousands of fans who sent in cards, flowers, and art. You truly gave her deep joy and meaning in the last years of her life!

Notablog and Home Page: Born Again!

It gives me great pleasure to announce that Notablog, which began on 26 July 2002, has been “born again,” with its own domain name: https://notablog.net.

And it gives me just as much pleasure to announce that my home page, which debuted way back in the early 1990s, has also been born again, with its own domain name: https://chrismatthewsciabarra.com.

The “new” Notablog is not quite a blank slate. It does include a monthly index to the 3,058 entries that I wrote between 26 July 2002 through 26 July 2020. That index can be found here.

The home page has not changed much, though a link to my Facebook profile is now included. But if you check around the site — which has not yet received any face-lift — you’ll find much more content, especially in the Essays section, which now includes links to over 150 essays.

These moves were necessary, given that New York University, which so generously provided me with space on its i4 server for nearly thirty years, is finally retiring that ancient server. My thanks especially to Jodi Goldberg for all her support and to Lec Maj and the NYU Web Team as well.

But it was time to make that move [YouTube link… you didn’t think you were going to escape one of those music links, did you? The more things change … 🙂 ].

I want to thank, especially, my dear friend Peter Saint-Andre, for his work, guidance, and support, throughout this period of transition. I couldn’t have done it without him (and a few dozen calls to Tech Support folks with regard to domain and hosting services)!

Just one reminder to folks about the name “Notablog.” As I stated way back on 15 February 2005:

“Some readers have wondered why I continue to call this site ‘Not a Blog,’ even though it seems to become more blog-like with each passing week. Well, it’s going to stay ‘Not a Blog’—though from now on it will appear with closed spaces between the words: ‘Notablog.’ That phrase can just as easily be viewed as an acronym for ‘None Of The Above Blog’ … or ‘Nota Blog’ … recalling the Latin phrase ‘Nota Bene,’ featuring entries on topics of which one might take particular notice.”

Either way, I’m breathing a great sigh of relief that this project is finally Ready for Prime Time. The content will grow on this new incarnation of Notablog, even as you’ll still have access to all the entries and comments from years past.

Enjoy!

Happy Eighteenth Anniversary to Notablog!

Yesterday, I celebrated my 1,800th entry in “My Favorite Songs” with the Sonny Rollins tune, “Oleo,” part of this year’s Jazz Edition of my annual Summer Music Festival.

Today, the numbers “1” and “8” show up again: I am celebrating the 18th anniversary of the beginning of Notablog!

It was on this date in 2002 that I made my very first post, which announced the publication of an installment in the New York Daily News series, “Big Town Classic Characters: New Yorkers of the American Imagination,” entitled “From ‘The Fountainhead’: Howard Roark,” which was subsequently re-published by The Atlas Society. Since then, I’ve posted 3,057 entries on subjects from politics, culture, and social science methodology to sex, sports, film, and music.

I’d like to express my thanks to all my readers for your continued interest in my work. Watch this space for upcoming information on the migration of Notablog and my home page to new domains. That’s going to happen very, very soon… we’re talkin’ soon … because New York University is finally retiring its ancient i4 server, in which my current blog and home page are stored. Much more to come …