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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Sea Turtle Named Eli Marcus????

About a year ago, I organized a Jazz and Blues series of concerts at the "Beach-Bar" venue in ancient Caesarea on the beach of the Mediterranean in Israel.
It was also the occasion of my 50th birthday, so I set aside the night of Friday September 28th, 2007 for myself and a few friends to do an electric Blues concert to celebrate my 50th.
Publicity was sent out to local papers and radio 90FM, email messages, flyers and text messages to cell phones were distributed as well.

About 10 days after the series was over, a friend at work came up to me with a curious article in a local paper from the region of Caesarea stating the the giant sea turtle Eli Marcus had been rehabilitated and released back in the sea.

I found this very amusing of course, but it got me curious and doing a bit of detective work to try and find out how my name was tagged onto a distressed sea turtle that was rescued from strangulation by floating garbage.

I couldn't get any response from the contact names in the local paper. Nor could I find any direct references to the source. A bit of internet research came up with leads at the Society For Protection of Nature in Israel and another organization that has a sea turtle research center and shelter a few kilometers south of Caeasarea. None of the researchers or professors listed in the site responded to any of my inquiries, but finally I tracked down one of their log reports that stated that a giant sea turtle had recently been saved from strangulation by swallowing floating plastic garbage in the sea.
As it turns out, the volunteers working with the turtle were named Elie and Marco, and thus the turtle was given the name Elie Marco.
The person writing the piece in that local paper, must have seen one of the posters for the Beach-Bar the week before, and made the mistake of using my name for that turtle.
Some who dunnit, huh?
Sloppy journalism, and the power of the internet for doing research...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Death of the Blues - humor by Judith Podell

In early 1997, Judith Podell published an essay on "How to Sing the Blues" in Wordrights Magazine. Without her permission, someone transcribed it and began mailing it around the world and spreading it all over the Internet. After years of following the "How to Sing the Blues" legend around and only finding cold dead-end leads, I found a copy of her collected essays "Blues For Beginners and Other Obsessions" (Argonne House Press, 2001) which contains the original essay. Determined to find the author, and following some intensive internet detective work, I recently managed to contact Judith and received her permission to publicize the closing essay in the book.
Please remember that this is copyrighted material, and if you like it, please give credit when you quote it!

>>We have all wondered and speculated from time to time about what would happen if a certain cultural icon or hero had not died young. What if Jimi Hendrix had awoken from his drunken stupor in that flat in London on September 18th and lived to be 66 years old? Judith Podell has answered some of these questions for us in the following essay.<<

Death of the Blues
by Judith Podell

copyright 2001

Vienna, 1902. Sigmund Freud seeking non-addictive cocaine substitute discovers Prozac. Revises Civilization and Its Discontents to add happy ending, repudiates psychoanalysis. Incidence of neurasthenia plummets, as does Jewish birth rate. Apprentice pastry-chef Ludwig Wittgenstein invents the Sacher-Masoch tort.

Prague, 1912. Franz Kafka moves out of parents' house, marries. Writes Metamorphosis, popular children's story about a man who turns into a great big bug and has many exciting adventures.

London, 1920.
T.S. Eliot tears up drafts of Wasteland, tells Ezra Pound he wants to write show tunes for shop girls and live on the Riviera. Teams up with George Geshwin to write Cats!.

Memphis, 1926. Bessie Smith quits Vaudeville, opens beauty parlor. Robert Johnson tries to buy back soul from the devil, struck by lightening.

Berlin, 1933. Metamophosis adapted for stage. Lotte Lenya sings the Ballad of Max the Roach. Burning of the Reichstag.

London, 1944. Churchill takes up exercise and quits smoking for the duration of the Blitz. House and Garden editor Virginia Woolf urges wartime Britain 'think Chintz'. 10,000th performance of Cats!.

1952. Dixieland legend Miles Davis quits show business to attend Dental School. Billie Holiday records White Chrstmas with Perry Como.

1956. Steep decline in alcoholism, Soviet birthrate. Nikita Krushchev tells U.S. "We will bury you - in cheap household appliances". Russia leads world in production of hair dryers and toasters.

1964. Lawrence Welk named Downbeat Musician of the Year. Battle of the Bands won by British barbershop quartet, Rolling Stones.

1970. Janis Joplin passes California Bar. Green Beret Jim Morrison missing in action. Billie Holiday stars in revival of Cats.

1978. Sylvia Plath marries Ernest Hemmingway, opens first bed and breakfast in Ketchum.

1984. IPO for Sylvia Plath Lifestyle, Inc. withdrawn after hunting accident.

2000, Memphis.
Stash of old records found in yard sale. rare performances by Robert Johnson, Bukka White, and Son House. Antiques Roadshow estimates value at $5.
Nobody gets the blues.


Click here to purchase your own copy of "Blues For Beginners and Other Obsessions" from

You can read more essays by Judith in my recent entries here:
"Blues For Advanced Beginners"
"Animal Behavior"

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Cotton Comes to Tel Aviv

I just got back from a wonderful show of James Cotton's Superharp with
his fantastic band (Slam Allen guitar, vocals; Tom Holland guitar,
vocals; Noel Neal, bass; Kenny Neal Jr., drums)
right here in Tel Aviv, Israel.

The whole band is a very hot group of musicians, starting with Tom Holland who sang a few numbers and played rhythm, solo, and lovely slide guitar.
The major entertainment of the show was handled beautifully by Slam Allen - a great singer with a rich gospel singer's voice, and a very solid guitarist in his own right. He was very funny at times, he has amazing stage presence, always smiling and doing all the intros and knowing exactly what to say at any moment - he had the audience completely at his mercy.

Noel Neal on bass was so much fun to watch,
he really cracked me up for most of the show - he was "hamming it up"
making funny faces and poses, playing the bass with his hand over the
top of the fretboard, but still maintaining full control and playing
amazing bass throughout the show, including a couple of very hot solos
that got the crowd whistling and cheering when his turn came around.

Kenny Neal Jr. didn't stand out much except for one solo, but was
definitely the steady backbeat of the band, which acted as a tight unit and responded to the slightest signs from Cotton or from Slam.

Cotton was solid and enjoyable as ever, he looked like he was himself
enjoying the band!
We should all be so lucky at age 70 plus to be able to travel the world
and perform on stage for hundreds or thousands of people.
What a great show! What an amazing band!