Saturday, November 9, 2019

Richard Tourangeau, and "The Morgan Show," WBZ NewsRadio, Boston

Richard "Dixie" Tourangeau is a regular guest of talk host Morgan White, Jr., on The Morgan Show (weekend overnights, Boston's WBZ-AM, 1030 AM); you'll perhaps recall that I've written about The Morgan Show, in this space, on a number of occasions.  

The weekend shows begin at midnight, and Tourangeau, tonight, is appearing on the program from midnight until 2 a.m. The discussion, at least in part, will concern the recently-concluded World Series.

Tourangeau--an enjoyable and knowledgeable radio guest--is a baseball researcher and historian. He's a longtime member of the Society for American Baseball Research.   

A 2007 article about Tourangeau, in the Worcester (MA) Telegram, included the following: "He seems to know everything there is to know about every baseball player who ever wore a Major League uniform..."

In his appearances on The Morgan Show, Tourangeau (whom I've come to know, due to my own affiliation with Morgan's program) also discusses, periodically, the subject of National Parks. For nearly three decades, he worked, in Boston, for the National Park Service. For the last fourteen years of his NPS career, he was a ranger, at Boston National Historic Park (which includes Charlestown's Bunker Hill Monument). While now retired from the NPS, he continues, on a volunteer basis, to lead tours of the USS Cassin Young, at the Charlestown Navy Yard (which is also part of Boston National Historic Park); the warship was built, and first deployed, during World War II. (By the way: the last tours of the season, for the ship, take place this Monday, Veterans Day.)

Tourangeau, one therefore notes, is well-versed regarding two types of parks: national parks, and baseball parks.  To date, he told me in an e-mail, he has visited about half of the some 420 National Park Service sites in the United States.  He has also visited all of the current parks of Major League Baseball.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Writer Attica Locke

The following is a quote from the novelist Attica Locke, from an interview with her which appeared in the September 1st issue of The New York Times Book Review. (I confess that I have not, as of this writing, read Ms. Locke's work.)

The quote, which I think is very nice, is from the Book Review's weekly feature about books and reading, "By the Book."

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

The High Holidays

A belated Happy New Year, to those observing it...and good wishes for Yom Kippur, which begins this evening, at sundown.

Friday, September 27, 2019

More about Ken Burns' "Country Music"

Filmmaker Ken Burns' eight-part documentary, "Country Music," came to a close Wednesday, on PBS.

The program was an exceptional and compelling achievement--historically, visually, musically, emotionally.  

Monday, September 16, 2019

Ken Burns' "Country Music"

The first two hours of director Ken Burns' latest documentary, "Country Music," aired last night on public television.

The program--further evidence, if any was needed, of Mr. Burns' enormous talent--was terrific.

The next installment of the documentary airs tonight (at least on the public station I watch), followed by episodes on Tuesday and Wednesday; the episodes then continue next week, from Sunday through Wednesday.

Please check your local PBS listings; as suggested above, broadcast scheduling can vary.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

The Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention

The annual (and always enjoyable) Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention (a/k/a/ MANC) is taking place this week in Hunt Valley, Maryland.  The convention opened this morning (Thursday), and will be running until Saturday.

I've attended the convention several times, but am unable to do so this year.  There are a number of friends who are attending--and I regret I will not be there to see them, and spend time with them.

The publisher of my book about early television, BearManor Media, is represented at the convention; BearManor has, for a number of years, had a table at MANC (along with the convention's other nostalgia-oriented vendors).

Yet while I will not be there, a couple of signed copies of my book are available at the BearManor table (or, at least, were available when the convention opened; I do not know if either has thus far been purchased).

This year, author John C. Abbott is presiding over the BearManor table. Mr. Abbott is the author of multiple books, brought out by BearManor, about the Old-Time Radio series Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar.

Here is the page which lists his Johnny Dollar titles:

On Saturday, at 10:30 a.m., Mr. Abbott will be making a presentation, at the convention, about the radio series.

Another presentation I'd like to mention will take place Friday morning, at 10:00.  Author Garry Berman will be giving a talk about the actress Thelma Todd.

I interviewed Mr. Berman a couple of times, while I was host of an online, nostalgia-oriented radio program (2011-2014); we spoke about two of the enjoyable books he has written. One of the conversations concerned his 2008 book, We're Going to See the Beatles! An Oral History of Beatlemania as Told by the Fans Who Were There (Santa Monica Press). The second interview focused upon his 2011 biography, Perfect Fool: The Life and Career of Ed Wynn (published by BearManor).

Lastly, here is the link to the page of the MANC website which lists this year's talks/seminars:

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

September 11th

This is a photograph which was taken on September 11, 2001, but was not published until the next year. The picture, taken by Will Nuñez, appeared in the September 2002 issue of Vanity Fair, with other previously unseen images of the September 11th catastrophe, in an article titled "Two Towers: One Year Later." Mr. Nuñez's photograph also appeared in a book released the same month, Here is New York: A Democracy of Photographs (Scalo Verlag Publishers).

As the caption in Vanity Fair noted, in part: "After the first plane hit Tower One, bond analyst Will Nuñez went to his corner newsstand and bought a $14.99 disposable camera, hoping to record the scene for history's sake.  Minutes later, from his downtown office window, he captured United Flight 175 as it sped toward Tower Two."

(Photograph ©Will Nuñez, and Scalo Verlag Publishers, 2002)

Friday, August 30, 2019

James R. Leavelle, Dallas homicide detective

James Leavelle was a part of one of the country's most historic moments--and one of the world's most memorable and historic photographs.

In 1963--wearing a white Stetson and a tan suit--Mr. Leavelle was one of the Dallas detectives escorting Lee Harvey Oswald, in the basement of the Dallas Police Headquarters, when Oswald was shot by Jack Ruby.  Oswald was handcuffed to Mr. Leavelle, when he was shot.

The remarkable photograph of the shooting--which was awarded a Pulitzer Prize--was taken by Bob Jackson, of the Dallas Times Herald.

Mr. Leavelle died on Thursday; he was 99 years old.

Here is an obituary of Mr. Leavelle, from the New York Times

The image, below, is of the front page of the New York Daily News, from Monday, November 25, 1963, the day after Oswald's death.

The photograph at the bottom of the Daily News page is the Pulitzer-awarded picture by Bob Jackson. The striking, dramatic picture above it, taken as Ruby approached Oswald, was by Jack Beers, of the Dallas Morning News. Mr. Leavelle is at the left, in each photo.

Both pictures have often been cropped, in varying ways, when seen in newspapers, magazines, books, or on television.

Below, for example, is a much wider view of Bob Jackson's photograph, as seen at the center of the front page of The Scranton Tribune:

And this is a broader view of the photograph by Jack Beers:

(Photo of the shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald, by Bob Jackson, Dallas Times Herald; photo taken just prior to the shooting, by Jack Beers, Dallas Morning News.)

Monday, August 12, 2019


Two years ago today (August 12, 2017), the two-day "Unite the Right" rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia, attended by neo-Nazis, white supremacists, Klan members, and others from the far-right, culminated in the murder of Heather Heyer, age 32, a counter-protester.

The act of terrorism which killed Ms. Heyer (and injured many others) remains a deeply sad and terrible moment in America's history.

I have mentioned, in previous posts, that I lived in Charlottesville--a beautiful, wonderful city--for several years. I moved there in 1995, to host a radio program; the program ended in 1997, but I stayed in the city until the beginning of 2001.

I think about Charlottesville often.  There are a great many things I enjoyed about living there--including getting to know (because of the radio program) a number of the city's excellent print and broadcast journalists.

One was Hawes Spencer, who during my time in the city was editor of a popular Charlottesville newspaper, the C-Ville Weekly.  He later founded and edited another local weekly, The Hook.  More recently, as a Charlottesville-based freelance writer, his byline has appeared in the New York Times, the Daily Beast and other publications.  He also reports for Virginia public radio, and teaches journalism at Virginia's James Madison University.

In 2018, he brought out an impressive book about what took place in Charlottesville in 2017, titled Summer of Hate: Charlottesville, USA (University of Virginia Press).

Friday, August 9, 2019

August 9, 1974

Forty-five years ago today, Richard Nixon's presidency ended.  During a televised speech, the night before, he had announced he would be leaving office the next day. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

The podcast "On Mic with Jordan Rich"

Jordan Rich, a terrific radio talk show host, has been heard on Boston radio since the late 1970s. For twenty years, he was the very popular weekend overnight host at the news and talk station WBZ-AM. He retired from his WBZ weekend hosting duties in 2016, but continues to appear on the station--periodically, as a guest host, and, each week, through recorded features (including the food/wine/restaurant-oriented "Connoisseurs Corner").  His decades-long work in voice-overs also continues.

I have known Jordan (about whom I've written previously in this space) for a number of years, have for years listened (with great pleasure) to his radio shows, and have been his guest, on the air, in the past. 

As an interviewer, as a conversationalist, he is warm, witty, knowledgeable, insightful.  

Since 2017, he's been the host of an excellent podcast, "On Mic with Jordan Rich." On July 21st, the podcast's 100th episode appeared. The programs are recorded at Chart Productions, the audio and video production house, outside of Boston, that he co-owns with broadcaster Ken Carberry. They founded the production facility in 1978.

I was recently interviewed by Jordan for the podcast; it was an enormous pleasure talking with him. We spoke about my book about early television (the revised edition of which was released at the end of January).  

Here is a brief promotional video concerning our recent conversation, from the "On Mic" Facebook page:

Here, too,  is the full interview:

Lastly, here is the "On Mic with Jordan Rich" page, at the Chart Productions website:

Thursday, July 25, 2019

"Twelve Angry Men," CBS-TV, 1954

On his "It's About TV" blog (referred to, previously, a number of times in this space), Mitchell Hadley writes about various aspects of television--including the relationship between television and the culture at-large, and television history (see, for example, his recent four-part examination of the history of television opera).

A central feature of the blog concerns TV Guide. Such posts appear weekly; they provide overviews of, and commentaries about, decades-old issues of the magazine.

A post last month focused upon the magazine's June 20, 1964 issue (the edition covering New York City and environs)--and referred to an airing, that week (on a Connecticut TV station), of the 1957 film 12 Angry Men.

In the post, Mitchell wrote of his preference for Robert Cummings' starring performance (as Juror #8), in the original, 1954 live television production of Twelve Angry Men, over that of Henry Fonda, who played the same role in the 1957 film. (The television production, incidentally, spelled out the number in its title: Twelve Angry Men.  The film version used the number 12.)

The 1954 telecast of Twelve Angry Men aired on CBS's Studio One program.  It was directed by Franklin Schaffner, and the script, written for Studio One, was by Reginald Rose; both Schaffner and Rose were leading figures in the live television era. Rose adapted his Studio One script for the subsequent film version, directed by Sidney Lumet.

In his post, Mitchell provided a YouTube link to the 1954 Studio One production.  The YouTube channel featuring the link presents restored kinescopes, from the live television period; the channel's administrator produces the restorations, and writes that the Twelve Angry Men kinescope was "cleaned and restored to the original frame rate of live television, so you may see what it looked like when originally broadcast live."

I'd never seen the live TV version of Twelve Angry Men (had only seen the film, which is superb), and watched the program, due to Mitchell's comments about it. The television version is excellent--and the restored kinescope is outstanding, in its clarity.

The YouTube page made note of instances, in the television production, in which TV cameras were accidentally seen.  Before watching the program, I also looked up the production on  Mention was made, on IMDB, of a moment during the 1954 telecast, in which a camera--with its CBS "eye" logo--was glimpsed.

The IMDB page referred to the line of dialogue which preceded the appearance of the TV camera.  The words--angry, sarcastic--were spoken by the actor Edward Arnold (Juror # 10) to Robert Cummings' Juror # 8: "You're a pretty smart young fella."  Had I not been aware, beforehand, of the words from the script, I likely would have missed seeing the camera; it appears, and disappears, quickly.

The camera is seen at approximately 12:55, in the kinescope. It is visible at the right of the screen, in the distance.  Seated to the left of the camera is actor Joseph Sweeney (Juror # 9).

Twelve Angry Men, 1954; CBS camera, to the right of the screen.

A second appearance of a camera--a much more prominent intrusion--takes place at 29:41, at the forefront of the screen.  A side view of the camera's front apparatus appears, for a rather startling amount of time--more than three seconds.  Robert Cummings is on-screen, while the camera is seen; seated to Cummings' right (our left) is actor George Voskovec, Juror # 11.  (Voskovec, and the aforementioned Joseph Sweeney, were the two actors who were featured in both the live television and film versions.)

Robert Cummings (center), George Voskovec (seated, left), CBS camera, at lower right.
When experiencing a work of fictional art--when, say, reading a novel, watching a film, a play, seeing a television program (such as Twelve Angry Men)--one wishes to become fully absorbed by, immersed within, the fictional realm.

And so, if TV cameras are inadvertently seen, the realm is breached; one is, at least momentarily, taken out of the sphere of the drama.

And yet: the unintended images, in Twelve Angry Men, were, to me, riveting.

That cameras appeared, on the TV screen, was, certainly, a reminder of the precarious nature of early TV presentations. Performers had to co-exist with, work around, the large, moving, imposing cameras. (And in this particular production, the possibility of technical mishaps was no doubt increased by the confines of the setting: the telecast, for the most part, was rooted in one space:  the relatively small jury room.)

I don't know, of course, what viewers in 1954 might have thought of such visual intrusions--witnessing, on the TV set, some of that which was intended to be invisible. Perhaps it would have been jarring, or captivating, or, as in the second instance, above, perplexing (What was that, at the side of the screen?).  Perhaps there would simply have been the understanding that such imperfections were a part of the new medium.

There is, certainly, a significant advantage, watching such programs today; one has the ability--which viewers in 1954 obviously did not have--to watch a show's scenes repeatedly, when seeking to apprehend what took place in them.

Indeed, from the vantage point of decades after-the-fact:  witnessing the specific technical accidents of Twelve Angry Men  (seeing, on-screen, cameras which transmitted the program, live, to viewers in 1954), makes the program, today (for me, at least), that much more exhilarating.

(Please note: significant changes have been made to this post since it first appeared.)

(Above images: CBS-TV, 1954)