October 31, 2006

Ghosts of the Von Minden Hotel

In Schulenburg, Texas (15 miles S of La Grange, 95 miles W of Houston,105 miles E of San Antonio):

Built in 1929 and still in operation, this is the last Hotel/Theater (Von Minden Hotel/Cozy Theater) left in Texas. The operation has changed hands only once and very little else has.

From TexasEscapes.com's interview with the Von Minden Hotel's proprietor:

...When asked about the ghost, Garrett asked, "which one?" "The suicide," we replied. It was then we learned that there were at least two.

Room 23 was a Railroad worker who went to bed sick and woke up dead and they had to have a co-worker (a very small co-worker) climb through the transom to open the locked door.

Room 37 was a returning WWII veteran who found his girl had married someone else. As the old joke goes, the ground would've broken his fall, but sadly in this case his neck encountered the clothesline.

Garrett lives on the hotel's forth floor and has encountered Ms. X several times. His description is quite detailed. A polka-dot dress and a broad-brimmed straw hat, white gloves, about 20 years old and carrying a cardboard suitcase, Ms. X depends on the kindness of strangers for directions.

"They're always simple directions to give," said Garrett, "but after you turn to point or gesture, when you turn back around she's gone."

October 26, 2006

"Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey"

Bedazzled! has a video performance of the first half of Paul McCartney's 1971 single "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey." The video fades out just at the Admiral Halsey section ("Admiral Halsey notified me/He had to have a berth or he couldn't get to sea"), and that's unfortunate. But it's still a cool find. The "promotional video" was shown during a TV special from 1973 called James Paul McCartney. It's one of my favorite McCartney solo tunes. The production quality, sound effects, vocals, and arrangement made it the most Beatlesque thing McCartney had done as a solo artist up to that point. I'll bet Beatles fans back in '71 really loved it!

October 25, 2006

Awkward teenage blues

For about a year, back in 1982, my friends and I did a series of experimental (crappy) films. Using an 8mm Kodak camera, our "plots" usually involved somebody, most likely wearing a rubber mask and/or carrying some type of weapon, chasing somebody else, no doubt also wearing a mask.

My closest childhood friend, David Nathan, getting a hand.

Throw in the random, disembodied rubber hand, and you have the recurring "themes" of our "oeuvre." After I removed the light filter from the camera, our film "career" was pretty much over. But here's the "best" of what we did (our "masterpiece" was part of a previous post).

Me, dreaming intermittently of either tennis, or rock-n-roll stardom. I'm wearing my "War Is Over (If You Want It)" t-shirt. What war could I possibly have been protesting? The Falklands??

The speedy quality of the movies was the result of having the films converted to videotape. So, enjoy the hormone-fueled, mid-pubescent violence, frustration, and ennui captured on film:

Galveston representin'

October 24, 2006

"I've Got You Under My Skin"

On June 20, 1965, Frank Sinatra organized a "summit meeting" of the Rat Pack in St. Louis as a benefit for Dismas House of St. Louis, the first halfway house for ex-convicts. The evening was televised via closed-circuit to select locations, where ticket buyers watched the live performance on screen. The 90-minute version telecast on Nick at Night's TV Land in 1998 was part of The Museum of Television & Radio Showcase series. The concert was retitled Frank, Dean & Sammy: An Evening with the Rat Pack for the Nick at Nite broadcast.

Here is Sinatra's performance of "I've Got You Under My Skin" from that very same Nick at Night broadcast (which I videotaped). When he "apologizes" for the "slight duplication," he's referring to the fact that Sammy Davis Jr. had included the Cole Porter tune as part of his set, right before Sinatra's. I'm not sure how much more perfect this performance could be. Frank was clearly in his prime:
The program aired very soon after Sinatra's death in May 1998.

Specialist Fourth Class Presley in Germany

At his house on 14 Goethestrasse in Bad Nauheim, Germany sometime in 1959

Candid Central has updated with a couple of snaps of Elvis during his Army stint in Germany. As you know, he met Priscilla while he was stationed there. The Beaulieus (Priscilla's maiden name) were stationed in West Germany at the same time as Elvis. Priscilla was 14 years old when she met Elvis in Wiesbaden. That's not her in the picture, obviously.

Youth is wasted on the young

Maybe you happened to see this at Boing Boing last weekend(?). Cybjorg has this hilarious flikr (link goes to my flikr sets) set titled "Game Boy Around the World." It features a boy (I assume it's the photographer's son) engrossed by his Game Boy while visiting world landmarks he'll probably never have another chance to visit. Someday his family will talk about visiting those places and he'll have very little memory of ever having been there. Game Boys are cool, but c'mon.

October 23, 2006

A stranger in a strange land

Crossed the Texas border on a beautiful day in order to take some snaps of Logansport, Louisiana....

Logansport is a modern city, boasting its own traffic light.

In order to find the oldest section of any small, Texas, and now Louisiana, town, just look for the railroad tracks. The one running parallel to Logansport's main street was still very much in use.

Logansport is not a place where the mingling of male and female dry goods is permitted.

Harvest time!

Logansport has its own Sears...I think.

side street

Former home of the Logansport Joaquin Tribune (no glass in the door).

Felt like being back in Alaska for a moment.

The building to the right of this one had something that made the "journey" to Logansport completely worth it. I felt giddy (as in giddy up) upon seeing it.

Hee haw! (ironically, not in Texas)

October 21, 2006

Movie records

(Via Boing Boing) Retro Thing has "a great article on Red Raven records, which came with the cells of an animation printed on the LP label. You put a mirrored circus tent-topper over the spindle and watched the animation in its surfaces." Kempa.com has an oddly surreal, yet very cool, video of one in action.

Wow, check out The Kiddie Rekord King.

"I Can't Get Started"

This video from YouTuber (groan) garyhopkins is great on so many levels: for one thing, it's an "old" (1989) Late Night with David Letterman, and mainly because it features perhaps the last live TV appearance of Sammy Davis Jr. Accompanied by The World's Most Dangerous Band, Sammy performs an old standard for Letterman's young TV audience, "I Can't Get Started" (words & music by Ira Gershwin & Vernon Duke). This is the very kind of thing I would have had absolutely no interest in back in those days. It's funny how things change.

I couldn't help but break out in a big ol' grin when he changes the lyrics of verse two from "A - round the golf course, I'm under par, And all the movies want me to star" to "A - round the golf course, I'm under par, And Eddie Murphy has asked me to star" (Sinatra changed it to "Metro-Goldwyn asks me to star"). Here is the video description:

Probably Sammy Davis, Jr.'s last TV performance. He died of lung cancer about a year later. At the end, he tells Paul Shaffer "No rehearsal. See--better!" This explains the very light touch by the band until the tempo changes--they've never played with this man before, and he's a legend among legends! But when they hit the groove, they all swing. All in all, a very tasty performance. (Imagine being able to just walk onto live TV and pull this off effortlessly! It's mind-boggling....) Sammy's one of my heroes, and while his shtick was sometimes hard to take, there's no debating his prodigious talent, even in that last year of his life.

He died the next year (from smoking-related cancer), in May 1990, so it's amazing to see him holding a smoldering cigarette. I have no doubt he had been smoking it before this performance.

Sorry, Sammy, but it goes without saying that I prefer Sinatra's version (with lyrics customized for Sinatra by Sammy Cahn).


  • Ocean's 11 title sequence
  • EEE-O Eleven