And what a bargain it is…

Live & Learn

Suppose you found a bargain so incredible
you stood there stunned for a moment
unable to believe that this thing could be
for sale at such a low price: that is what happens
when you are born, and as the years go by
the price goes up and up until, near the end
of your life, it is so high that you lie there
stunned forever.

~ Ron Padgett, “Bargain Hunt” (, April 2005)


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David Bruce: 250 Music Anecdotes — Christmas, Clothing


• Wendell Corey (1914-1968), an American actor who appeared in such films as Sorry, Wrong Numberand Rear Window, remembers his most memorable Christmas. In 1956, his oldest daughter, Robin, had been in bed for six months after falling ill with rheumatic fever. In September her doctors even thought that she would die. Because it was Christmas, her doctors allowed her to get out of bed and join the family. Wendell and his wife, Alice, prayed for a blessing. Robin came downstairs, put on a Harry Belafonte record, and danced. And after Christmas she continued to grow stronger, and in 1963, when Mr. Corey wrote about her, she was completely healthy — and the Corey family were big fans of Harry Belafonte.

• Denise Jackson, wife of country and western singer Alan Jackson, knows how to give good Christmas gifts. For Christmas 1996, she gave her mother a mink coat (Alan gave his mother a mink coat, too). Denise says, “And my mom opened it and she was just prancing around like a teenager and was just thrilled.” Denise’s sister-in-law asked Denise’s mother where she would wear the fur coat, and she replied that she was going to the local steak house — a restaurant somewhat classier than a Dairy Queen. By the way, one Christmas Denise gave her husband a car that looked familiar to him. He said, “That looks just like the 1955 Thunderbird I built [restored] in high school.” Denise replied, “It is.”

• On Christmas night of 1987, Jam Master Jay of Run-DMC fame was driving his Jeep when a car driving on the wrong side of the street hit him. Unconscious, he was taken to the emergency room, and he stayed at the hospital for a few days. Exactly one year later, he came out of the Tunnel nightclub in Manhattan. Unfortunately, a fight broke out between some other people. A man fired some shots, and Jay was shot in the leg. He ended up in the same emergency room where he had been taken a year previously. The same doctor and the same nurse were on duty, and they looked at Jay and said, “Jay! Not you again!”

• Heidi May is a woman of wit and intelligence. Her Christmas present to her boss, Henry Rollins, former singer of Black Flag, leader of the Rollins Band, spoken-word artist, occasional actor, and author, was a T-shirt on the back of which are the words “HEIDI RULES!!!” (By the way, Heidi is married, but not to Henry. She is a long-time employee of Henry’s company, 2.13.61. Also by the way, Henry was born on February 13, 1961.)


• Anita O’Day helped change the way that female singers dressed in the 1940s. Usually, they wore nice dresses, but that can cause problems: 1) good dresses can be expensive, and 2) keeping dresses clean and looking good during life on the road can be difficult. Once, jazz vocalist Anita O’Day bought a floral-print dress at a thrift store, but after wearing the dress during a performance in a club without air conditioning, she discovered why the dress had been so reasonably priced. Ms. O’Day had perspired — a lot — and the perspiration had caused the ink in the floral-print dress to tattoo her body. Her skin now looked like a flower garden. Because of that mishap, she went to bandleader Gene Krupa and said that she would continue to wear dresses at fancy venues, but she would like to wear easier-to-keep-looking-nice shirts, skirts, and band jackets in other venues. Mr. Krupa said that was OK with him, and soon other female vocalists dressed like Ms. O’Day.

• At a show in London, Roy Stride, lead singer of Scouting for Girls, sang the song “1+1=3,” which is about an unplanned pregnancy. The lyrics include the line “Take off your clothes and come to bed,” and when he sang the line, six males in the balcony stripped off their clothing and flung it onto the stage. Mr. Stride says, “I was nearly knocked out by a shoe.” He adds, “When I wrote the song, I honestly never considered fans would take the lyrics literally. Greg [Churchouse], our guitarist, says he suspected there might be some stripping. He blames me for being confronted by six bare male butts when he walked into our dressing room after the show. I was just glad the guys had come to collect their clothes. I was worried they’d go home naked.”

• People should be able to wear pretty much whatever they want to, as long as the clothing covers the essentials, but other people can be judgmental. Ani DiFranco started her career as a musician with a look that included a shaved head and big boots. Later, she decided she wanted hair and a pretty dress. But she remembers the first time she walked out onstage in a dress — she heard young women screaming, “Sellout!”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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