Geraldo Among the Filipinos

God, Danny Sibolboro was such a weenie. Taken December 1963 at one of the many, many dances of the Moveable Filipino Club, Minneapolis. Geraldo was playing. Filipinos love Geraldo.

Cantara Dancing with Danny Sibolboro

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Captain Kangaroo’s Theme by Edward White, Conducted by John Wilson

And at around the same time of life baby John was home in Gateshead falling out of his high chair in excitement over the brand-new BBC news theme, I was in my crib in the living room of the old one-bedroom apartment in South Minneapolis jumping up and down in excitement to the theme of Captain Kangaroo on TV.

I think I was always aware that this thing called music existed—my mother continually had the “light music” station tuned in on the tabletop radio, and I remember, before I could walk, hearing again and again orchestral standards like Leroy Anderson’s “Serenata”, Morton Gould’s “Pavanne”, Trevor Duncan’s “Lady in Love” etc etc, and my absolute favorite, the ubiquitous (because Minneapolis) “Swedish Rhapsody” by Hugo Alfen, jauntily rendered by Percy Faith.

But the Captain Kangaroo theme is the first piece of music I remember being able to “grasp” entirely, except for that stop-time somewhere in the middle, but then I was only 1 or 2, and I didn’t learn about stop-time until college. Never even knew the piece had a name besides “The Captain Kangaroo Theme”. Then just last month I landed on this vid of an entire BBC2 program from 2008 dedicated to light music pieces used for BBC shows. Went there to rip the Dick Barton, Special Agent! theme, a Monty Python favorite, for my library—it’s called “The Devil’s Galop” by Charles Williams, by the way—and came away with “Barwick Green” from The Archers, “March from Little Suite” from Dr Finlay’s Casebook etc etc etc. And then like a bolt from the blue at 47:55 was “Puffin’ Billy” which, with a crazy thrill, I recognized from the first four notes, who wouldn’t? And there—and there!—at 36 looking 12—my darling lad conducting.

The Charm of Percy Grainger

Percy Grainger.jpg

“Country Gardens” is one of the few piano pieces I could play all the way through (clumsily, not like the fine player in this clip) so I have a special affection for Grainger’s arrangements and compositions, as well as an admiration for his drive to create a truly “English” school of music. (The drive, not the goal.) I also liked that he married his wife at the Hollywood Bowl after conducting a concert there in 1928.

But ever since music school I’ve also known about Grainger’s unusual sexual drive—his taste for Nordic blondes and being flagellated—plus the fact that in his twenties he was kept as a semi-willing love slave by a fortyish society dame (shades of Joan Crawford!)—and I can’t deny it: The fantasy of pleasuring, of possessing a boy like this, talented and handsome, is delicious.