Donald's Blog

  This old house was only a few blocks from the state Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin. All the neighborhood cats lived in the basement during the winter. The house has long since been torn down, but in 1972 there were AR2ax speakers in the front room, and a lot of good music was heard there.

«Jun 2013»

In the 21st century I am just as opinionated as ever, and I now have an outlet. I shall pontificate here about anything that catches my fancy; I hope I will not make too great a fool of myself. You may comment yea or nay about anything on the site; I may quote you here, or I may not. Send brickbats etc. to:


June 18, 2013

Clean mind, clean body. Take your pick

Debates about health in yesterday's Wall Street Journal: ask a question and have somebody arguing yes, somebody no. Is it worthwhile eating organically? Janet Silverstein is a professor of endocrinology at the University of Florida, and argues no.

...just because food is labeled organic doesn't mean it is completely free of pesticides. Contamination can occur from soil and ground water containing previously used chemicals, or during transport, processing and storage. Organochloride insecticides, for example, were recently found in organically grown root crops and tomatoes even though these pesticides haven't been used for 20 years.

Organochlorides includes DDT and PCBs. And if these poisons are still found in food 20 years after we've stopped using them, this is a reason not to avoid chemicals in our food. Have I got that right?


June 18, 2013

Stumpy RIP

Stump and Stumpy were a team in black vaudeville, who lasted well into the 1950s making guest appearances on TV, and may have influenced Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. James Cross was Stump, who was very tall, and Eddie Hartman was Stumpy, who was shorter, and some of their comedy played off the difference in their height. The little guy had the sharper wits. When Hartman had become unreliable, perhaps worn out from the grind, he was replaced by Harold Cromer, who died last week, over 90 years old.
      Stump and Stumpy sang and danced and appeared on the same bill with great stars both black and white, from Duke Ellington to Frank Sinatra. Harold Cromer was interviewed by Linda Lipnack Kuehl about Billie Holiday, and so turned up in my biography of Lady Day: 

In 1936 I had just come to New York, and it was my good fortune to run into this cab with this lady standing up through the top. The cabs in those days had this slide-open roof [...] and I said, "I'm late, man; I've got to get to the Cotton Club, the show is in seven minutes." So he says, "All right, Lady; can I take him?" And she says, "Yeah, take him -- take him, baby." And Billy Wood was the cab driver's name. He said, "Come on, Stump. This is Stump from Stump and Stumpy, Lady; Stump, this is Lady Day -- Billie Holiday." And she looked down at me and grinned at me the prettiest smile -- oh, the smile melts ya -- ya gotta go when the smile comes -- and she says, "Stump Daddy," and that was my name to her from then on.

It turns out that Harold Cromer didn't just come to New York in 1936; he was born in Manhattan. He was a well-known dancer, known for tap-dancing on roller skates, and appeared in Broadway musicals, but did not become Stump, replacing Hartman in the act, until the late 1940s. But my bullshit detector was working. There was a lot more from Cromer, about Orson Welles, Humphrey Bogart, Tallulah Bankhead and many more, and I wrote, "Stump's memories tumble out of him, drenched in love; but he is also a name-dropper, and we can't always be sure that he isn't getting the memories mixed up." I guess I got that right.
      But he also said, "We used to have a love thing that we all had then that doesn't happen now." Maybe his memories were more real than the dates.