Lots in the press these days about twerking. I even saw an opinion piece in the NYTimes, about “explaining it to your parents”. I hate to disillusion the bluenoses at the NYTimes, but twerking has been a part of American pop culture since the 1950’s and maybe before that. I have secured this rare video showing Elvis “The Pelvis” twerking on the Milton Berle Show. It created a media sensation at the time,and afterward, he was televised only from the waist up. You can read about it on Wikipedia.
Let’s just accept twerking as a fact of life, an attractive thing when practiced by young people, revolting when done by the old (above, say, thirty). I’m guessing Emperor Caligula twerked when he danced with his lover (BTW: also his sister). It’s also highly likely he took selfies with his camera obscura. So, enough already. Best thing I can say is that, in a week, twerking will be deader than a rabbit. Deader even, than Gangnam Style. Peace.
Looking north, south, east and west in downtown Emerald City, USA at 2:00 PM on a Wednesday in mid-August. After a cool, damp spring, we’re excited that business is finally picking up. Notice all the busy pedestrian shoppers, the dense vehicular traffic, the office workers, the persons employed in crafts and trades improving the look of the community. Imagine the noise of the throng, the ringing of cash registers and the smiling faces of the well-paid workers.
Hey cool cats! If you’re like me (and you’re not) you’re most likely looking for ways to improve your Portuguese. Here’s an idea. Take five minutes away from your busy world (by that, I mean checking your cell phone) and listen to this cool number from 1962, “The Girl from Ipanema”, sung by Astrud and João Gilberto with saxophone by Stan Getz. The first minute is Portuguese, then the English translation and then the sax. You’ll dig the beat. Enjoy!
Guantanamera started as a poem by José Marti, was adapted to song by Julián Orbón, put to music by JoséFernandez Diaz and is here sung by Diego Origlio. It is said to be the best known song to come out of Cuba. I listened to half a dozen versions including the Sandpipers, Pete Seeger and José Feliciano before posting this one. This is very good. It has five verses. Most of the lyrics can be found on Wikipedia. It’s a simple translation.
Probably nowhere in the annals of music have the Theremin, the cello and the harmonica been put to such effective use as in Good Vibrations by the Beach Boys. Produced in 1966, the song also featured the Hammond organ and the harpsichord. Initially rejected by Capitol Records for its length, its popularity was immediate and lasting.
I remember hearing it for the first time on a transistor radio following a high school football game during my freshman year. It would have been an AM Top 40 station. Back then, there was very little FM in my neck of the woods and it was mostly classical, pop classical and jazz. The Beach Boys stood out from the other acts of the era by their use of vocal harmony.
They were reportedly one of Ron & Nancy Reagan’s favorite acts and once, when Secretary of the Interior James G. Watt refused permission for them to play at a Fourth of July, 1983 fling in Washington, D.C., Ronnie took the Secretary out to the woodshed. Dude tried to substitute Wayne Newton onto the bill. Bad career move. After making a series of gaffes, Watt resigned in September, 1983.
Will is Homeless in Portland didn’t post this video for entertainment purposes. It’s an instructional video. A “How Not To Do”. If you were able to get through more than a minute of it, seek professional help.
Most of us are familiar with William Shatner The Actor, but how many of us have heard William Shatner The Voice? Will was introduced to The Voice on NPR’s Weekend Edition in a little segment produced by Jim Nayder called The Annoying Music Show. Shatner was a regular. Nayder passed away recently. The Voice will never die. Thanks to the Entertainment Industrial Complex, ham actors. like ole Cap’n Kirk here, will (regrettably) likely never go away.
Will doesn’t usually discuss his dreams, his bad dreams. Not that they are so bad, but that they are so banal, so filled with suburban frustration and petty anxiety. His bad dream involving William Shatner bears noting. It’s a simple dream: Will is locked in a small room with three television sets. all tuned to the same Star Trek episode, one in which Shatner overacted. Not like that narrows it down. Will turned off the first two sets, but when he tried to turn off the third, the knob came off in his hand. Then Will awakened. Most of you have probably never owned a TV with an On/Off knob. This dates Will.
Now for the instruction. I don’t know how Shatner got the role of Cap’n Kirk. Given the theme and the time period, he did a creditable job. His later attempts at TV, his singing, his obnoxious commercial persona are below wretched. They’re a social disease. It’s lamentable that our Entertainment Industrial Complex can’t prevent a “star” from branching out publicly, from exploring all avenues down which to make a buck. But it should. Music is important. Singing is a highly valued skill. There should be a mechanism that prevents the Shatners of the world from sullying these things and insinuating themselves into other peoples’ dreams. Simple shame should have been enough.
RIP Otis Dewey “Slim” Whitman, dead at 90. Who could forget Whitman’s classic recording of Rudolf Friml’s masterpiece “Indian Love Call”? Slim captured the hearts of generation after generation with his yodeling. He pretty much took yodeling as far as it could go, commercially speaking. His music was featured in the 1996 Tim Burton gem “Mars Attacks”. If you want to read more about Slim’s life, Iaan Hughes has put it all together on his site.
But I’d like to call your attention to the composer Rudolf Friml. I mean, how many of us know that he was voted State Composer of Arizona for his beloved hit "Donkey Serenade". The voting was close. It came down to Friml and Ferde Grofe, the composer of "Grand Canyon Suite". Both employed lovable violin donkeys in their work. I think Friml got the award because his hit was most popular sung in German translation, the native tongue of the Republicans in the state legislature.
So long Slim Whitman. We can’t believe your song is sung so soon. We barely learned the tune. So soon. So soon.
Welcome readers. Will is Homeless in Portland is without a doubt the best hobo journalist west of the Willamette. You'll find his satirical and witty approach to the news refreshingly anti-corporate. If you see homelessness in your future and need advice or or are just planning to visit Portland and would like to buy Will lunch, email him at