October 0002


Blues Blues, Three Factoids, St. Jake revisited

THE BLUES: KRAMER VS.WAINWRIGHT.

Associate Professor LLoydbuster C. Wainwright, of the School of Blues Studies, University of Alabama in Hicksborough is rather cross with us:

Sirs,

I was disgusted to see that you persist in using the name “Spoonsful” Taylor. I exploded this myth myself some years ago in my seminal article in the “Journal of the Sociology of Southern Music” entitled “Early Blues Singers: Some Biographical Misconceptions”. Although a natural genius, Taylor was almost entirely uneducated, from a very poor background, and could never have risen to “Spoonsful”. He called himself “Spoonfulls Taylor”. I am really disappointed to see Wonderful World repeating this tired old error. Can’t you find some new and original ones?

Literally five seconds later, another communication on this subject popped into our in-box. This is from Associate Professor Susan Kramer, also of the School of Blues Studies, University of Alabama in Hicksborough.

I always make a point of looking at the outbox on the Department’s computer. We are a small college, and only have one computer. I’m afraid Professor Wainwright is talking through a hole in his head as usual. That’s why everyone else on campus calls him “Perfessor Wainwrong”. Surely, by now, even he should realize that Taylor didn’t christen himself. I mean, not many people do, do they? He was given this name by Otis P. Windsor, the music editor of the New Orleans Literary Review, who was nothing if not well-educated and literate. Windsor was a favorite drinking companion of the entire southern literary establishment, including, rather later, Flannery O’Connor herself, and was easily capable of forming the correct plural of “Spoonful”. The name, by the way, was an allusion to Taylor’s habit of taking at least eight sugars in his coffee.

Wainwright also really ought to know that Taylor was neither poor nor ignorant. His father, Samuel Taylor lll made a fortune out of the first tire-vulcanization business in the south, and died relatively young, leaving his entire fortune to Spoonsful. I scarcely think that the possessor of a doctorate in pure math, as Spoonsful was, can be described as ill-educated. The point about Taylor is that he had a blissfully happy life, and this was reflected in his music, as titles like “Bed of Roses Blues”, “Rollin’ in the Honey”, and “Got It All, Man” attest.

Literally seconds later, an angry rebuttal arrived.

Look, this is Professor Lloydbuster Wainwright again. Take a look at Kramer’s mugshot on the departmental website. You’ll see what I mean when I say you should never trust anyone with a toothbrush moustache, as she has. All this stuff about Spoonfuls Taylor’s happy life is a load of old crock. What actually happened was that Milton Fangler, one the South’s first PR men, found Taylor begging on the sidewalk, and took pity on him, and did a free PR campaign for him. All this stuff Kramer’s coming up with comes from there. If Professor Kramer had read the whole of my article (and it’s only 12 pages long, surely even she doesn’t find that taxing) she would have seen it all explained there. The point about Taylor is that his music was entirely aspirational.

Events appear to have taken a tragic turn. According to the Hicksborough Sentinel, Associate Professors Kramer and Wainwright have fought a duel. This is the first recorded in the South for over forty years. Apparently they were armed with a Kalashnikov and an Uzi respectively, and both died. You can find the full story on the Hicksborough Sentinel website.

 

EXTRA VALUE! THREE (YES, COUNT THEM, THREE!) FACTOIDS:

A: MOUSETRAP.

The earliest forms of the game “Mousetrap” came with a genuine mouse. The manufacturers found many problems with this, and in particular, feeding and exercising the small rodent during the weeks or months the game was on the shelves before sale, and in getting it to stay still during the game.

B: GEORGE THE TURTLE

The world’s oldest living sentient creature is George, a Blue Ringed Turtle, who is known to be 1043 years old. He can usually be found at the southern end of the Gulf Stream.

C: POTATOES AND YOU.

A potato is more closely related to you than it is to a mushroom. This is because we have cells, and potatoes have cells, but mushrooms don’t.

 

ST. JAKE AGAIN

Florence Seeman writes:

I was fascinated to hear about St. Jake of Pasadena. Where is he buried? I just love visiting saint’s shrines.

Actually, Florence, he doesn’t have a shrine as such. The closest there is, is the sub-basement of the Republic Bank, 1137 Herbert Hoover Street, Chicago. In his later years, St. Jake became very worried about the rise of gangsterism, and started his “Mission to the Mob”. He tagged along with the Mifune boys in a raid on this bank, hoping to persuade them to repent, when they were trapped by the forces of law and order. The feds decided that a siege would interfere unduly with the traffic, and tried to smoke them out with tear gas.

Undaunted, the hoodlums retreated to the sub-basement, whereupon Commissioner Priddle authorized the dynamiting of the building to obtain a speedy resolution. The entire gang, including Jake, appear to have been blown to bits, unless they escaped through the drains. Only one body was found, but it was holding a sack full of money, so it can’t be Jake’s. Since the bank, which was speedily rebuilt using some unallocated rewardmoney, will not allow visits to its basement, the closest thing to a shrine is the plaque on the wall outside,

erected by the City of Chicago Department of Monuments and Local History 1962.

 

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