burn on II

Today, March 10th, marks the second anniversary of the report of the first 2 COVID cases in Michigan (1).  In response, our Gov. Bimbo – a.k.a. “That Woman from Michigan” (2), Gretchen (half) Whitmer of the plastic face and the 40Cs – declared a State of Emergency.  Within a week, she urged social distancing and community mitigation strategies, closed all K-12 schools, banned gatherings of 250 or more (reduced to 50 three days later), imposed price controls, restricted visiting hospitals, nursing homes, and jails, and closed all bars, restaurants, coffee houses, and gyms (3).  In another week, she closed all hair, nail, tanning, massage, spa, tattoo, body art and piercing services and issued infamous Executive Order 2020-21 (4), keeping all but “essential” workers at home and also restricting all manner of shopping transactions.  Boy, with that roping off flags and gardening supplies, keeping our empties at home, and staying away from restaurants, that ol’ curve didn’t know what hit it, did it?

In honor of the occasion, I have gathered up all the non-essential face diapers in our house and cars (38 in there, including 6 N95s).

And cast them into the fire, for they certainly have not borne good fruit (5)

These chain-link fences have stopped their last mosquito.  We had scallops and champagne as we watched this, this joyous conflagration.  Yes, we engaged the Harry Nilsson soundtrack.

Such events are always better with a soundtrack.  The late great Harry Nilsson had one for this (6).

Of course, I kept a few, like the cute ones and ones with a message

Neither did we cast in the first masks we bought, as they had borne the fruit of laughter when we wore them to the grocery store that one time (7 8).

And of course, we saved those wonderful “unMasks” that Kathy found, which look like legit masks – even having a midline seam to look like an N95 – but have pores large enough to let you breathe comfortably and not fog up your glasses (9).

With mask and vaxx mandates falling left and right all over the country, the U and local AA businesses are holding fast to theirs, although the U buckled a bit Wednesday.  So Kathy and I will continue to spit into a tiny funnel weekly and will never leave the house without an UnMask in our pocket.

The fun folks at Babylon Bee have offered up some alternative uses for those old masks. (10)

This ain’t over yet.  Eric’s gotta keep singing his song (11)

PS.  Before masks became a hysteric controversy, I reviewed the features of various ones and how they may or may not work against coronavirus.  (12), if you’re at all interested.

PPS.  If you want to dive deep, check out the accumulated tweets from Ian Miller on masks  (13).


1.         Haddad K.  Michigan confirms first 2 cases of coronavirus, both in Metro Detroit.  Cases confirmed in Wayne and Oakland counties.  CLICK ON DETROIT 3/11/21.  https://www.clickondetroit.com/news/2020/03/11/michigan-confirms-first-2-cases-of-coronavirus-both-in-metro-detroit/

2.         Smith A.  ‘That Woman from Michigan’: Gov. Whitmer stands out in the pandemic.  Just ask Trump.  nbcnews.com 4/8/20. https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/woman-michigan-gov-whitmer-stands-out-pandemic-just-ask-trump-n1170506

3.         Haddad K.  Michigan coronavirus timeline: Key dates, COVID-19 case tracking, state orders.  Tracking coronavirus in Michigan.  CLICK ON DETROIT 4/27/20.  https://www.clickondetroit.com/health/2020/03/24/michigan-coronavirus-timeline-key-dates-covid-19-case-tracking-state-orders/

4.         Read Michigan Gov. Whitmer’s entire coronavirus stay-at-home order.  MLive.com  3/23/21,  https://www.mlive.com/public-interest/2020/03/read-michigan-gov-whitmers-entire-coronavirus-stay-at-home-order.html

5.         Matthew 3:10https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%203%3A10&version=KJV

6.         #HarryNilsson #JumpintotheFire #OfficialAudio.  YouTube 7/14/16.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CfjNpgZ4C5Q

7.         Ike B.  masks.  WordPress 4/30/20.  https://theviewfromharbal.com/2020/04/30/masks/

8.         Ike B.  masks II.  WordPress 5/1/20.  https://theviewfromharbal.com/2020/05/01/mask-2/

9.         the UnMask.  breathe with us.  https://getun

10.       8 Fun Uses For Your Masks Now That Mandates are Lifted.  The Babylon Bee 3/8/22.  https://babylonbee.com/news/8-fun-uses-for-your-masks-now-that-mandates-are-lifted

11.       Eric Clapton – This Has Gotta Stop (Official Music Video).  YouTube.  8/27/21. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNt4NIQ7FTA

12.       Ike B.  Who was that masked man?  WordPress 4/16/20.  https://theviewfromharbal.com/2020/04/16/who-was-that-masked-man/

13.       Harambe.  If you’re still on the fence about masks, consider this fellow who’s been using government data to savagely debunk mask myths every day for nearly 2 years straight.  Not the Bee 3/8/22.   https://notthebee.com/article/if-youre-still-on-the-fence-about-masks-consider-this-fellow-whos-been-using-government-data-to-savagely-debunk-mask-myths-every-day-for-nearly-2-years-straight


This is about a family event that happened 2 and a half weeks ago. Since the event was a Christmas celebration occurring 8 weeks after Christmas, what’s a little further delay?

Dateline Onstead, MI (pop’n 1,132): Cowboy Creek Lodge

40 or so of the spawn of my late bio–Dad Dick Spei plus their spouses have gathered here and as of this morning (Sunday 2/21/22) are dissipating back to their homes.  The gathering – our first in 2 years – was joyful as always, maybe more so this year.  And what was the biggest hit?  You’d think among descendants of a gourmet who taught them all to approach each meal as if it was their last, the spread would win the prize.  Indeed, there was the usual dazzling delicious variety.  Beasts of all stripes were slaughtered, broiled, smoked, grilled, braised, fried, and baked so no one seeking protein felt deprived.  Perhaps the winner in this category was my brother Nick’s deer heart chili, a mere side dish, but always a hit.  Nick never misses a year without bagging a few carriers.  The plant kingdom offered up stuffed grape leaves, out-of-season tomatoes of many varieties, and even my lowly mashed garlic spuds plus oh such more, including all those products of fermentation.

But all attention was pretty much decentralized among the eaters and drinkers, that is until my sister Suzanne stepped up to the front table beside two big boxes and clapped her hands.  Everyone knew what time it was – Chimney time! – and snapped to.  The Christmas Chimney is a Spei family tradition started by my Suzanne’s maternal grandmother more years ago than anyone can remember.  Suzanne took it over from her mother maybe 20 years ago and has it down to both art and science.  Before I tell you how it works, see the main box.  There’s a smaller box for the kiddos, added as Suzanne and her sibs became grandparents.

Those white vertical strands on the side of the box are ribbons, tied at one end to a gift and on the other end to a card.  The gifts tend to follow a different theme each year.  This year, the girls all got bags of some sort while the guys all got some multifunctional implement that usually could open beer bottles.  Each gift has some specific significance to the identified recipient.  Retrieval of the loot comes through a very organized process.  Family members approach the Chimney based on age, oldest first in each category.  Children and adults alternate.  Once at the Chimney the potential recipient must scrutinize the cards to find the one with the cryptic message that syncs with him/her.  Mine was “professional blogger”, Kathy’s was “52nd anniversary the women made it happen”, and Nick’s was “2nd amendment”, for example.  The ribbon on my card pulled up a 2” button bearing my phrase backed with an opening clearly meant to pop a top. 

Kathy got a bag depicting those NASA mathematicians as depicted in the movie “Hidden Figure”.  Nick got a keychain with a large bullet on which the text of the 2nd amendment was inscribed.  All the rest were similarly apt, including the tag.  Suzanne sure does her background work.  Delight of the chimney goers is palpable. See here some examples.

a.  brother Nick admiring his bullet

b.  Kathy loving her “52nd anniversary of the NASA women mathematicians” bag

c.  Suzanne gets a bag with a flamingo on it! (she has a thing for flamingos)

d.  Suzanne marshalling the kids

e.  kid loving his bag with the big tiger on it

The Chimney is followed by inspired spontaneous gift giving, exchanges ranging from little art works from Marty’s daughter, and many food items – spices, jams & jellies, infused oils, and our garlic paste among others – getting passed about.  Dan’s many pies follow, which usually send the endorphins and CCK levels high enough to leave folks no choice but to roll off to bed.  And I believe it truly is those brain chemicals – not the alcohol – that are responsible.

It’s a wonderful affair, and one of the main things that make me happy to be part of this family I didn’t even know I had 11 years ago.  Can’t wait till next year.  I’m making less potatoes.

Hail Sousa! Hail Elbel?

John Phillip Sousa – the March King – died 90 years ago Sunday March 6th in Reading Pennsylvania.  He was 77. 

His prodigious output – 134 marches, 690 total recordings in an era spanning a time when placing a needle on a wax cylinder was considered an advance (1)  – included some songs about Michigan.  “The Wolverine March”, written in 1881 and premiered that same year by the U. S. Marine Band at a reception given by the Michigan State Association in Washington DC, was dedicated to “His Excellency Hon. David H. Jerome, Governor of Michigan, and Staff” (2).  In 1926, at the request of Detroit mayor John W. Smith, he wrote “The Pride of the Wolverines” (3).  A year later, he penned a lovely waltz for U of M “The Coeds of Michigan” (4).  He had other interactions with U of M and Ann Arbor.  He was an inspiration to our own legendary bandleader William D. Revelli, who dedicated himself to becoming a conductor upon hearing Sousa’s band at the Illinois State Fair at age 10 (5).  Both began their musical careers on violin.

While researching how these came to be, I came across an interesting story about our own Sousa-like fight song “The Victors” that Sousa himself called one of the four greatest fight songs he had ever conducted.  Sousa conducted the first public band performance of the Victors right in Ann Arbor (6). 

The story of how University of Michigan student Louis Elbel came to write The Victors is lovely, stirring, and true (7), but maybe just a bit controversial? (8).  Thanksgiving Day 1898, he was in the visitors cheering section at Marshall Field (really, that’s who gave the money for it, and it later became Stagg Field and was the site of the first controlled nuclear reaction (9)), home of those fearsome Monsters of the Midway, Amos Alonzo Stagg’s University of Chicago Maroons, who had won the previous two contests.  Fielding H. Yost was 4 years away, coaching Nebraska.  Gustave Ferbert, in his second season, brought an undefeated team into the contest.  The game on that cold blustery day was described as a literal slugfest and at the final whistle, the scoreboard found the Wolverines had one more point than the Maroons, 12-11.  With the victory, they secured not only their first-ever conference title (then the Western Conference) but a share of their first National Championship as well.  The Michigan faithful went understandably crazy.  Once they tired of slapping backs and shaking hands in the stands, they formed a snake line to course through the Hyde Park campus of the University of Chicago, accompanied by the year-old Michigan Marching Band.  On the mile and a half walk to his sister’s in Englewood after for Thanksgiving dinner, a song began to form in Elbel’s head.  At his sister’s, he wrote a few things down.  At home in South Bend at his piano the next day, he wrote the score, and on the train back to Ann Arbor finished the piece as a march to be played by 23 instruments.  He also composed the lyrics.  Everyone knows the chorus, but the first 2 verses are pretty complicated (6).

The Elbel family businesses included publishing, so he published The Victors as sheet music for a piano solo shortly after he returned to campus.

Elbel also took his march to E. R. Schremser, conductor of the City Band of Detroit, and paid him to orchestrate it for band.  A U of M professor from the DuPont family helped finance the transaction.

The song was performed in parlors around campus and by spring was popular enough to go public.  On April 5, 1899, Elbel conducted a 7-piece pit orchestra to play The Victors at the Athens Theater in downtown Ann Arbor as the curtain was being raised on the opening night performance of “A Night Off” by the University Comedy Club.  John Phillip Sousa was in town as he and his band had been invited to perform at U of M’s University Hall in a benefit concert for the University Band (10).  On April 8, shortly after Elbel had handed him copies of the sheet music for the march, Sousa conducted The Victors as part of that concert.  So the first band to perform The Victors was John Phillip Sousa’s.  How about that.

“The Victors” is known round-the-world.  I sang it in Stockholm in ’96 along with fellow U of M alum Steve after a dinner for the faculty of an arthroscopy course held at the Karolinska.  The only U of M alum President (so far), Gerald Ford (’35), often had the Naval Band play it in place of “Hail to the Chief” at state occasions and asked that it be played at his 2006 funeral.  It was.  His wasn’t and won’t be the only dead Wolverine’s funeral that includes a playing of “The Victors”.

Could it be possible that this hallowed and much-loved march is perhaps a little bit shrouded in controversy?  I’ll leave the telling of the full tale to the links, but the crux of it is this: on April 11, 1898, Tin Pan Alley composer George Rosenberg (“Rosey”) applied for copyright on a “two-step march” the “Spirit of Liberty “

Everyone knows how “The Victors” goes.  Few have heard the “Spirit of Liberty”.  Now, you can join them.  Here it is played by the US Naval Academic Band conducted by Lt. Commander Allen Beck (11).

I think you’ll agree there’s more to this than Spirit (“Taurus”) vs Led Zeppelin (“Stairway to Heaven”) (12, 13)

There is no record of whether or not “The Spirit of Liberty” was played at the famous Thanksgiving Day ’98 game, but the U of C – having no band of its own – hired the Band of the First Regiment, also known as the Pullman Band, for the game.  The Pullman Band had played the “Spirit of Liberty” at a free concert, less than a month previously, on October 27, the debut of that song in the Midwest.  Might that tune have been in their repertoire at that game?

What to make of this?  Even though my U has been quite generous of late doling out $$$ to the aggrieved, I don’t think much will come of this particular conflict.  Fans of classical music know that the greats “borrowed” from each other all the time.  And it’s hardly new news.  The piece I came across is from 2008 and I subsequently found a piece from 10 years later (7).  In the much more detailed newer one, the author mentions that legendary U of M band director William D. Revelli was well aware of the similarities between the two works and had the sheet music for “Spirit of Liberty” in his desk.

I don’t know much about “Rosey”.  It would be great if he had been born sometime in the fall.*  At halftime of one of the games in Michigan Stadium his name could be commemorated, and the Marching Band could play “Spirit of Liberty”.  “Hail!”

If you’re up for a rousing chorus of The Victors, here’s those marching men and women of Michigan playing it as written (14)

And let’s close with the biggest hit from the rouser himself, played by the U of M Symphony Band, from the stage of Hill Auditorium (15)

*alas, born April 18, 1864 (16)


1.         DAHR Directory of American Historical Recordings.  UC Santa Barbara Library.  John Phillip Sousa.   https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/index.php/mastertalent/detail/102569/Sousa_John_Philip

2.         Marines.  The Wolverine March.  https://www.marineband.marines.mil/Audio-Resources/The-Complete-Marches-of-John-Philip-Sousa/The-Wolverine-March/

3.         SOUSA “The Pride of the Wolverines” – “The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band (1978).  YouTube.   2/15/16.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oU7ZQC9kgSk

4.         United States Marine Band presents John Phillip Sousa, The Coeds of Michigan.  YouTube 3/22/13.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEg3Cql3m1g

5.         Clarke K.  Revelli: The Long Note.  M Heritage Project.  The University of Michigan.  https://heritage.umich.edu/stories/revelli-the-long-note/

6.         The Victors.  MGoBlue.  University of Michigan Athletics Official Site. 6/19/00. http://websites.umich.edu/~mgoblue/sounds/lyrics-victors.html

7.         Dubois J.  History of “The Victors”.  Band Alumni Association.  University of Michigan.  M-Fanfare 70 (3), 2018.  https://www.umbaa.org/members/m-fanfares/m-fanfare-volume-70-issue-3/history-of-the-victors

8.         Leslie DL.  Whose Victors? Did Louis Elbel copy part of another march?  MLive.com/Ann Arbor News.  8/31/08.  https://www.mlive.com/annarbornews_opinion/2008/08/whose_victors_did_louis_elbel.html

9.         Stagg Field.  Wikepedia. 10/12/21.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stagg_Field

10.       Arwulf A.  Sousa.  A Living Portrait.  Ann Arbor Observer. April, 2016.  https://annarborobserver.com/articles/sousa.html

11.       US Naval Academic Band conducted by Lt. Commander Allen Beck.  Spirit of Liberty.  YouTube.  3/5/14.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQRJmsZ9Mnc

12.       Beaumont-Thomas B.  Plagiarism case over Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven finally ends.  The Guardian.  10/6/20.  https://www.theguardian.com/music/2020/oct/06/plagiarism-case-ends-led-zeppelin-stairway-to-heaven-taurus-spirit-us-supreme-court

13.       Stairway to Heaven and Taurus Comparison.  YouTube. 3/6/19. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=deVNnnuf24w

14.       Michigan Marching Band plays The Victors as written.  YouTube 9/6/16.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFBh2dXykv0

15.       UMich Symphony Band – John Phillip Sousa – The Stars and Stripes Forever (1896).  YouTube 4/12/17. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RK0OjVKyMZo

16.       DAHR Directory of American Historical Recordings.  UC Santa Barbara Library.  George Rosey.   https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/index.php/mastertalent/detail/106537/Rosey_George

the Alcindor rules

In 1967, I was a gangly 6’5” 15 year old riding the pine for Mike Blough’s JV Bulldogs.  That same year, the NCAA announced it would be illegal to toss the basketball in through the imaginary cylinder extending up from the rim.  In the organization’s words, the dunk “was not a skillful shot,” and the rules committee said the ban was also a result of injury concerns.  In the report accompanying their announcement, they cited 1,500 events where a player was hurt around the backboard during the previous year.  Of course, it had nothing to do with that magnificent 7’1 5/8” black guy from Harlem who’d come to play for John Wooden at UCLA and proceeded to dunk over everyone his first year.  Coach Wooden assured Lew Alcindor that the dunk ban would only make him a better basketball player.  It did. He developed his famous sky hook – useful even for little guys like Michigan’s Xavier Simpson to get the ball up over some big guy – and led his team to national championships in ’68 and ’69 before going on to a 20 year hall-of-fame career in the NBA, where from ’71 on he competed as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. See him here as UCLA’s star. Did you know he almost came to Michigan?

33 was my number on JVs.

But the anti-dunk rule would forever be known as the Alcindor rule. It lasted 10 years.  Fans were deprived of one of the most exciting plays in basketball, even if purists say it is not a skillful move.  Players were deprived, too, of a play that connotes such dominance over an opponent.

Why do I care?  Sure, as a fan I missed seeing dunks.  But as a player, it was much, much worse.  It wasn’t just during games that you couldn’t put the ball through the cylinder, but practice and pre-games as well.  I kept growing – 6’6” as a junior, 6’8”as senior -and got my way onto Tom Horn’s varsity team.  Coach Horn had hopes that someday the light would go on for me.  It never did, but midway through my junior season, I put some stick-um on my fingers, took a run at the basket, and slam!  Wow, did I just do that?  So I did that a few times every practice, just for fun, and all was well until Coach Horn saw me doing it.  “You know that’s illegal and you could get the team in trouble if you’re caught doing it in a game or the warm-ups”.  The “trouble” was a technical foul.  Grumbling, I’d still take a shot at it now and then in practice.  I never dunked in pre-game warmups until my senior year.  Some of my teammates realized we had a show on our hands.  Dan Cohrs, 6’6” starting center, Dan Walters, 6’2” starting forward, and I could all dunk.  We decided we’d line up for layup drills with the two Dans then me coming down the lane to the hoop.  It was an outstanding show, and the crowd always went crazy.  Coach Horn couldn’t help but see it and got ever more pissed the more we did it, even if we never drew that technical foul. He couldn’t bench the Dans because they were too good and I was already on the bench.  I think our show did kinda fade away, but it remains one of my best memories of high school basketball.  I grew another inch and played intramurals at Michigan and Chicago, maybe a bit more skillfully, but I don’t think I ever dunked again.  I saw my Bulldogs play last Friday night and one of those tall skinny white farm kids dunked in warmups.  Good for him.  His coach didn’t have to go ape as it’s all been legal since ’77, thank God.

Maybe my memories of the dunk show wouldn’t be so special if it hadn’t been illegal.  But isn’t it that way with a lot of things?  Still, whatever the barriers, ya gotta reach high.

So here’s the VHS ’68-9 team.  I was a junior.  The senior year team picture has us in our blazers, not as cool.  To my right is my classmate Eric Durham, my best friend.  He hadn’t mastered the dunk and chose not to go out his senior year.  Next to Dan Cohrs on my left is senior Sam Rogers.  He used his ample size for brutishness rather than finesse and couldn’t dunk.  He became a very close friend much later and died 2 Januaries ago.


Is that horse dead yet? (1)


  1. Flam F. Mask mandates didn’t make much difference, anyway. Washington Post February 11, 2022. https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/mask-mandates-didnt-make-much-of-a-difference-anyway/2022/02/11/57760db6-8b3b-11ec-838f-0cfdf69cce3c_story.html

P.S. My sweetheart sent this pic to remind me there are indeed effective anti-viral masks

Blue LLama!

Ann Arbor has had a couple of great jazz clubs over the past 30-40 years.  Ron Brooks’ Bird of Paradise on Main Street gave a venue for many local jazz artists to perform, giving birth to the Bird of Paradise Orchestra – basically Paul Keller’s big band – which has lived on as the Paul Keller Orchestra.  A feisty young waitress there – Susan Chastain -showed Ron she could sing, and eventually was performing regularly.  She mustered enough gumption to start up her own club over on Ashley -the Firefly Club – and took what she knew from Ron to make an even better place.  Susan started up in 2000, and Ron would go under in 2004 under the weight of tax problems.  Susan ran a lively place anchored by such features as the late Paul Klinger’s Easy Street Jazz Band’s Friday happy hour (where we were regulars) and a main Saturday show featuring both local stalwarts and traveling acts, but with music 7 days a week.  Chris Smith’s/James Dapogny’s P.O.R.K was a Sunday staple, featuring 20s-40s small group favorites.  Her walls were rapidly plastered with all the acts coming through.  She ran a small but tasty kitchen for any hungry patrons and featured adventurous beers on tap.  She was booted out of her cool Ashley digs in 2007 and found space in the old Ark down the street.  While offering more space to performers, it never captured the cool sophistication of Ashley.  My wife and I became so involved with the club we took a small financial stake, forever cementing in our friends’ minds the notion of “our jazz club”.  The Firefly finally closed in August 2009, again from tax problems (did Susan learn this from Ron?).  This left Ann Arbor without a jazz club for the first time in 25 years.  Performances at the Zaz Del Grotto, a Masonic Social Club, and the Kerrytown Concert House, sustained some local jazz acts, but not in the manner those two thriving jazz clubs had done.  Steps in Don Hicks, who in 2019 enlisted restauranteur Louis Goral to open Blue LLama on South Main, right next door to the Ark.  Ellis Marsalis was supposed to kick off the opening, but was not able to travel for four weeks and was replaced by organist Joey DeFrancesco and his quartet.  Hicks is an accomplished trumpeter, with Michigan origins in the Interlochen Jazz Band, and he occasionally performs at his own club.

So it was in the setting of all this history I decided to see what was up at Blue LLama coming up.  Kathy and I had never been there, although our neighbor Justin – a trumpeter -had performed there on occasion.  What should be forthcoming but a dinner/show package for Valentine’s day.  Featured was an up-and-coming ( age 27) chanteause – Veronica Swift – plus a prix fixe menu package.  Pretty romantic, so why not?  Our YouTube auditions of Ms Swift were a little discouraging, as they sounded pretty “noodly”.  But we went anyway.   Arriving, the BL was a pretty impressive space as we took our place against the wall with a great view of the stage. 

The waitress described the prix fixe menu to us, as well as the optional wine pairings (which we snapped up).  Here’s what we had to look forward to eat.

The food was so good we wondered to each other if maybe we’d be satisfied if Ms Swift never showed up and all we’d had was our snacks.

As it turned out, Ms Swift did show up, accompanied by her 5 piece band: drums, piano, bass, soprano sax, and baritone sax, the latter wielded by a skinny blonde woman not much bigger than her instrument.  Later in the set, Ms Swift brought in a guitarist friend.

She began with heart-wrenching vocal jazz and descended into rock-and-roll.  At no point were her noodly tendencies evident, much to Kathy’s relief.

My heart was wrenched by her rendition of Mel Torme’s “A Stranger in Town”, about returning to one’s old home town.  Who’s been doing that lately?  Her version didn’t make YouTube, so how about Mel Torme’s?  (1)

She did a lively rendition of “How lovely to be a woman”, from Bye Bye Birdie! (2).  How gender affirming! 

She moved to full rock to close with Blood Sweat and Tears’ “You made me so very happy”, perfect for Valentine’s day.  She said she’d performed it with them recently.  Song always needed a girl singer.  (3)

Sorry none of these signature tunes were available by her on her extensive YouTube list. She’ll fill them out, I’m sure.

Here’s a classic by her, perfect for closing out an evening, on which she does a very nice job: (4)

So check out Veronica Swift if she comes your way, and if you’re in AA, check out the Blue LLama.  And let me know.  I’d love to come along.


1.         Torme M.  A stranger in town.  YouTube.  Posted July 31, 2018.  Recorded October 5, 1944.  Released 1945.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=37m4UE6vMNQ

2.         Margaret A.  How lovely to be a woman.  YouTube. Posted February 2, 2008.  Released 1963.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1ilu-ARtiY

3.         Blood Sweat & Tears.  You’ve Made Me So Very Happy. YouTube.  Posted May 20, 2007.  Performed July 11, 1993.  Recorded October 16, 1968.  Released March 1969.

4.         Swift V.  Something cool.  YouTube.  Posted August 17, 2020.  Released 1954.. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NrJbk0yUy-o

hell no

When Kathy and I joined the U of M Club of Ann Arbor a few years ago, we lowered the average age by a few points.  The main attraction of joining is entrance to the Coaches’ Luncheons, which feature a fine hot lunch from Weber’s shared by like-minded rabid Wolverine fans, all gathered to hear talks from 2 coaches.  Sure, the stars show up, and we’ve seen both Jimmy (1) and Juwan.  But filling up the rest of the slots are the sometimes even more interesting assistants (we heard from nearly every one of Jimmy’s young talented staff last fall) as well as coaches of the “non-revenue sports”, such as today’s diminutive but dynamic Kim Barnes Arico, whose lady roundballers are off to their best season ever.  They’re a lock for the NCAAs, where they reached the sweet sixteen last year, in contention for the Big Ten title, and feature a WNBA first-rounder in the post.

The Luncheons were victim of COVID 2020-21, and it was good to see them resume this year.  The local Omicron surge sunk most of January’s meetings, and they’ve resumed with a heighten dose of COVID paranoia.  While the U of M Club is not under the arm of the athletic department, those who run the show in the club have adopted the athletic director’s restrictions, instituted for University sporting events January 1st: vaxx passports produced on entry or at least proof of 72 hours or less of a negative COVID test, plus masks for inside affairs.  While COVID tests are free and readily available all over campus (except on weekends), sometimes the timing doesn’t work.  Kathy and I were in Kalamazoo during the 72 hour lead-up to this Monday, so we found a lab in Portage willing to stick a Q-tip up our noses, for a fee, of course.

At Weber’s, as with all Michigan eating establishments, masks can be removed for eating or drinking.  Funny how that passage of materials into the piehole totally blocks entrance or exit of coronavirus.  So today, after finishing my salmon lunch, I turned my chair around to face the first speaker, and let’s say Mr. Smith could see my facial expressions.  After not too long, a woman came along.  I think she was a club member not restaurant staff.  In a scolding voice, she told me to put on a mask!  I turned my head to her and just said “No!”.  Kathy was worried we’d get thrown out of the room, but I grabbed my magic talisman – my water glass – holding it in my hand and keeping it filled for the next hour, and that was the last we saw of our COVID harpie.

The event inspired me to come home and gin up a little something that I could hand to people such as our harpie in order to explain my point of view.  Here’s what I came with. Note it is only 2″ X 3.5″in real life.   Thank God for computers, home printers, and card stock.  I’ve railed against masks since the early days of this blog.  I’ll spare you all the links except for the latest (2).

If you’re looking for a reference to bolster your “why bother” mask, good luck. What’s out there are articles that masks as part of the rest of the “mitigating measures”, like hand washing and distancing, may reduce risk.  But masks just stop respiratory droplets, letting teeny Mr. Corona pass right through.  Even St. Anthony privately e-mailed that they don’t do much (3).  Worse comes to worse, you can buy a mask that looks like a mask but allows free passage of air and won’t fog your glasses (4).  Handy for airplanes.  Or you can buy a mask that makes a statement.  I bought a mask a couple weeks ago with this image on it:

Bought it on Etsy.  Can’t find it today.

But the best statement is not to wear one of the damned things.  Fight the power!


1.         Ike B.  lunch with Jimmy.  WordPress August 20, 2021.  https://theviewfromharbal.com/2021/08/20/lunch-with-jimmy/

2.         Ike B.  Off with the masks!  WordPress January 4, 2022.  https://theviewfromharbal.com/2022/01/04/off-with-the-masks/

3.         Richard L.  Fauci said masks were not ‘really effective’ at blocking virus, emails reveal.  Washington Examiner June 2,2021.  https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/leaked-email-fauci-obama-official-not-wear-mask-virus-pass-through-material

4.         The UnMask.  breathe with us.  https://www.getunmask.com/

‘burg report

I went to basketball homecoming Friday night so you didn’t have to.  Let me say, the ‘burg has changed, but maybe only a little.  The game was an excuse for one of those AA-KZO Amtrak trips Kathy and I like so much, staying at an AirBnB right downtown overlooking Bronson Park and the lights of the city.  You can read about our restaurant forays on my blog  (1)).  My classmate and Tom Horn teammate Dan Walters agreed to join us, and I was hoping for some sort of alumni tribute.  About all I got for being an old fart was free admission.  I’d received from the AD Mike Roy a pass for my phone, but couldn’t find it as I was entering.  The kid at the desk taking tickets let me in anyway, but still charged my youthful bride 7 bucks.  The court is impressive, with its red and white bench seats.  An aggressive portrait of charging bulldogs emblazons the west wall. 

No stage anymore, that’s relegated to a space near the old Market Place.  The game was entertaining as anything a group of skinny white farm kids might muster.  The Bulldogs have sucked this year, but put up a good fight against the Edwardsburg Eddies, finally losing by 2 points.  Halftime featured homecoming ceremonies, with attractive young couples parading towards Dave Maneikis at the center of the scorers’ table, although he said afterwards he wasn’t the guy passing judgement.  King and queen were one of the basketball players (a Smith, I believe) and an exchange student.  As the girls were parading across, Dan and I wondered which one’s skirts would have passed the Johnny Mac test.  It was like the old Jackie Wilson song “Higher and higher” (2) .  There was one fat girl in the bunch, nice face, but not a winner.  The boys, of course, looked totally befuddled by their roles.  We sat in the section next to the pep band, who were in fine form, except they played the fight song after every quarter, even when we were losing.  No cheerleaders in sight.  I guess the girls are devoting all their energies to “cheer team” these days, a certified, letter granting, athletic endeavor.

Mike Roy, the AD,  had announced to me by email before he’d be by the scoreboard on the west wall.  He wasn’t quite the “All-American bullet-headed Saxon mother’s son”, but it was clear he knew football from the inside (he was a scholarship player on the line at UNLV after playing at Paw Paw, when they still were still the Redskins), and was very personable.  He’s well respected in his field (3).  After I shook his hand and complimented him on the facilities, he brought over his 7th and 4th grade kids, each getting a good education in the Vicksburg Community Schools.  Then it was time to walk over and talk to Pitts.  He was in the middle of the scorer’s bench, wearing ref’s stripes.  I asked him if he’d need to step in if one of the on-court guys suffered a Bartlett, and he assured me his seat was his home.  He’d spotted me and Dan across the way early in the game and waved.  I’ve learned before that Dave doesn’t like his sobriquet of “Carl Pitts” despite his enthusiastic emblazonment of it back in the day.  So it was “Dave” all the way, and he was having a good day.  A couple of his careful recordings of on-court events had overturned calls.  He waxed how his name was on the walls of this gym (it was) for his contributions to Vicksburg athletics, mainly as the football announcer at Canavan Field for many years.  He also recalled how he had caught 2 no hitters his senior year, including one by Bob Cross, who had never pitched before.  I’d recalled him only as a pretty good offensive tackle, and at our 50th (plus one) reunion in July, told him he was our class’s Jim Brandstatter.  I think since I pointed out that both he and Jim had had weight struggles, he wasn’t too enamored of the comparison at the time.  But Dave’s a good sweet guy, a successful electrician, and an example of how a fat kid can make it, even if his knees can’t.

After, there was too much energy built up to truck all the way back to Kalamazoo.  Distant Whistle beckoned, where Dane Bosel and Andy Clouse brew what may be the best beer in Kalamazoo County (4).

Despite the energy, we were fading and facing a 15 mile drive back to the city.  As we sipped our beer each, some gray hair with a guitar played boomer music.  The place was full, but no young ‘uns.  It was still wonderful.  We got our names on the wait list for the mug club.  I think every drinking adult in the ‘burg has a mug hanging on their walls.

So this wasn’t the home I left in ’70, but it’s still a pretty good place to come back to.   I expect to do so repeatedly.


1.         Ike B.  one meatball.  WordPress.  Posted February 11,2022.  https://theviewfromharbal.com/2022/02/11/one-meatball/

2.         Wilson J.  Your love keeps lifting me higher and higher.  YouTube.  Posted August 11, 2011.  Released August 1967.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzDVaKRApcg

3.         Oswalt-Forsythe K.   Athletic director Michael Roy receives award.   South County News.  January 2022. https://southcountynews.org/2022/01/15/athletic-director-michael-roy-receives-award/

4          Haroldon T.  Vicksburg’s first microbrewery opens today.  MLive.com.  September 10, 2016.  https://www.mlive.com/news/kalamazoo/2016/09/vicksburgs_first_microbrewery.html


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