Friday, March 4, 2011

Trading Fours with Roethke

Famous People I've Known - writer Ed Mcclanahan and singer Gail Wynters.
photo by Danny O'Bryan

The Serpent

There was a Serpent who had to sing
There was. There was.
He simply gave up Serpenting.
Because, Because.

He didn't like his Kind of Life;
He couldn't fined a proper Wife;
He was a Serpent with a soul;
He got no Pleasure down his Hole.
And so, of course, he had to Sing,
And sing he did, like Anything!
The Birds, they were, they were Astounded;
And various Measures Propounded
To stop the Serpent's Awful Racket:
They bought a Drum. He wouldn't Whack it.
They sent,-you always send,-to Cuba
And got a Most Commodious Tuba;
They got a Horn, they got a Flute,
But Nothing would suit.
He said, "Look, Birds, all this is futile:
I do not like to Band or Tootle."
And then he cut loose with a Horrible Note
That practically split the Top of his Throat.
"You see," he said with a Serpent's Leer,
"I'm Serious about my Singing Career!"
And the Woods Resounded with a many a Shriek
As the Birds flew off to the End of Next Week.

Theodore Roethke

War between the sexes

It all started when the first man
Wept over the first woman
Cried in his beer because
She wouldn't return his
Took it as an
Affront to his
Manhood. "She's a stuck up
Bitch," he says to his
Buddy's in the bar
As he looks over his
Shoulder at a fine
Young blond
Another potential

Danny O'Bryan

Thursday, March 3, 2011


It's All About Death Baby

It's spring, birds are singing
Buds are popping
And teenagers are sexting,
Sending high-definition color photos
Of their pulsating pubes into cyber-space
For all their friends to see.

A pretty blond on TV tells a reporter,
"Yeah, I had a guy send me a pic of his,
But I never got back to him."
Of course not, she had 20 others to
Compare it too!

It's spring, birds are singing
Buds are popping
And teenagers are sexting,
Upsetting their up-tight,
Baby-boomer, Cialis, Viagra
Hooked parents.

The old timers are furious
Because their long retired
May poles and Mary Janes
Have ceased to function
Without the chemical equivalent
Of a FEMA scaffolding crew.

It's spring, birds are singing,
Buds are popping
And teenagers are sexting.
The old people are mad as hell
And have damn right to be.

Danny O'Bryan

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Tribute to Jane Russell - Cab Calloway

Dropping like flies

The air was abuzz with
Tiny helicopters
Every where I looked they were
Dropping from the sky.

“God damn bugs,” an over-weight
Black fisherman cursed to himself
On the river bank.

“What are they?
I asked, as a boat pulled
Up to shore with a young brunette
Sitting on the hull.

She had lovely tanned skin and dimpled
Knees like Jane Russell in the old film
“Gentleman Prefer Blondes.”

And she kept scooting her ass
Up and down the front of the boat
While tying it ashore.

“Those bugs are May flies, they’ll
All be dead by nightfall,” the black man said

I feel fine but all my icons:
Ray Brown, Ted Williams,
Rosemary Clooney,
All gone this week.

May files in July?
No wonder they die so soon.

Danny O’Bryan

Cab Calloway is 78 and still leading a band and ‘hi-dee-ho-ing

Bandleader-singer Cab Calloway is probably best known as the “hi-dee-ho man” of the early 1930s. That’s when he wrote and recorded songs like “Minnie the Moocher” and other novelty scat songs.

During that time he was a regular performer in New York City’s famous Cotton Club. He also appeared in many classic movies of the period with such stars as Lena Horne and Al Jolson.

But it was during the early 1940s when he led one of the best big bands in the country, that Calloway made his largest contribution to jazz. That band, which included in its ranks at one time or another such talent as saxophonists Ben Webster and Chu Berry, trumpeters Dizzy Gillespie and Louisville born Jonah Jones, plus drummer Cozy Cole, visited Louisville many times in those years. It played places like the old Rialto Theater on Fourth Street and the National Theater at Fifth and Walnut streets.

Both those theaters are gone today, Fourth Street, where the Rialto was located, is mall, and Walnut Street’s name has been changed to Muhammad Ali Boulevard.

Calloway, 78, will be appearing tomorrow night with his “Cotton Club Revisited” show in Whitney Hall in the Kentucky Center for the Arts. He said in a telephone interview this week that he remembers when he played Louisville during the 1930s and ‘40s.

“I played Louisville a lot back then,” he said. He remembers the National Theater as being on a corner “right downtown on the main drag.”

“Cab Calloway’s Cotton Club Revisited” will feature the Hi-Di-Ho Orchestra, the High Steppers dance troupe and comedians Anthony Thomas and Leroy, plus Calloway’s daughter Chris.

The most important thing about the show, though, is the big band, Calloway said. “I’ve gotten together the finest group of musicians, it’s a 14 piece band, and they sound just wonderful. There are still as few big bands around and I’ve got one of them. They play all the old tunes like “Jumping at the Woodside” and “One O’Clock Jump.” We don’t do any of that modern rock stuff.”

Calloway, who appeared a few years ago in the movie “The Blues Brothers,” has made some concessions to modern electronics. “I’ve done a few videos, but I really can’t get into that. I’m still sticking to tunes like “Minnie the Moocher” and “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” he said.

Asked if he thought the music business had changed much since the early days, Calloway replied. “It’s never going to change as long as you entertain the people. To entertain the people is the most important thing.”

After more than five decades in show business does Calloway ever plan to retire?

Laughing, he replied, “What am I going to retire for?”

Danny O’Bryan
The Louisville Times
November 2, 1985

From the up-coming book “Derby City Jazz.”