The good kind of Hollywood shows up in a biography of Dinah Shore

After graduating from Vandy, she sold her camera collection in order to finance her first weeks, and went to New York to make it in show biz. While running through her funds–“There’d always been dollars in my pocket because Daddy put them there”–she teamed up with (metronomic?) accompanist-arranger-conductor Martin “Ticker” Freeman in a long-lasting professional relationship. … More The good kind of Hollywood shows up in a biography of Dinah Shore

The Pastor from Elmo Hollow, or how it worked to pick at random for my annual church visit

In charge of a backhoe crew repairing a broken water pipe beneath the plaza’s parking lot, he would have been convincing, but he was the big spiritual cheese in the room. … More The Pastor from Elmo Hollow, or how it worked to pick at random for my annual church visit

My grandmother’s ambition for our family band to go on Lawrence Welk

I’m trying to fathom why my grandmother Margaret Tillotson loved Lawrence Welk so much. What little I know is that they were born around the same time; came from small towns in Nebraska and North Dakota, respectively; and were Catholic, although she was Irish Catholic and he was German and in her mind there was a big … More My grandmother’s ambition for our family band to go on Lawrence Welk

Tripping over basil instead of parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme

In most cases, I should use the word “itinerant” in place of “peripatetic.” Ms. Burstein, one of the funniest and dearest people I know (she will probably chew me out for mentioning her name; don’t even think about trying to take a candid photo of her), described a bruising antic episode from her travels, when her suitcase got … More Tripping over basil instead of parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme

My 45’s—40 Years Later

The first record I ever bought was the 45-rpm “Jezebel,” on the Mercury label, by the Rumbles. They were a garage band from Council Bluffs, Iowa, which is across the Missouri River from Omaha. Mighty Twelve-Ninety, KOIL, had been playing the song. The deejays pronounced KOIL as a word rather than spelling out the call letters individually. The station’s jingle included the slogan, “Million-dollar weekend.” I could never figure out who was getting a million dollars: maybe the station. … More My 45’s—40 Years Later

Impish Angus & the Volt Boys

All the singer from Newcastle knew was that a rock band in London was looking for a front man. It was guaranteed worthwhile to come down and audition. He borrowed money for a rental car and made the trip. Arriving at the address, he found some fellows playing pool and assumed they were the musicians—but they were just the crew. After 20 minutes the band’s manager came downstairs looking for him and summoned him up to the rehearsal room. Brian Johnson was stunned when he entered, asking, “Is this who I think it is?” … More Impish Angus & the Volt Boys