Where the Sidewalk Ends and PC Begins…

Googies? Oops, is it safe to reference them that way in this age of political correctness?

PC isn’t a new thing, although back in 1974, the initials would be first associated with Personal Computers. Political Correctness as a recognized phrase wouldn’t begin popping up semi-regularly until the late 1980s.

It was in 1974 that Shel Silverstein’s book Where the Sidewalk Ends was published by Harper & Row. It’s an oddball sort of book with the collected poetry and writing of Mr Silverstein.

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Here’s a sample:

My skin is kind of sort of brownish pinkish yellowish white. My eyes are greyish blueish green, but I’m told they look orange in the night. My hair is reddish blondish brown, but its silver when its wet, and all the colors I am inside have not been invented yet.

On page 50 came the controversy. In the earliest printings, the poem on the page was titled The Gypsies. The term has been used to describe the Roma (or Romani) ethnic group of Europe and elsewhere.

I have read an article in the recent past that referenced the Roma people and mentioned gypsy as a pejorative term. Apparently the discussion started before the ‘recent past.’

It may be that the exact story is known to someone, but I could only gather that some objection to the term was brought forward, and Mr Silverstein (as the author of the poem) declined to make a change. In later printings, Harper & Row substituted the word Googies for Gypsies, but left everything else in place.

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I learned all this today, when an early printing copy of the book came into the shop, and sure enough – there are those G——s at the top of page 50.

My question is: Isn’t it likely that the Googies are just as negatively stereotyped now?

(Fortunately, I didn’t have a copy of this book when the kids were young. Those Googies/Gypsies might have come across as a little scary at bedtime…)

The book is one that I get calls for regularly, and own copies of infrequently. This one probably won’t last long, so if you’re in the market for an early (non-PC) copy, come on down!

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Secret Fame? News to me, anyway.

We’re usually quick to claim famous people who are from our town or state. Named a performing arts center for one here in Broken Arrow. Plenty of cities have streets named for the famous (and infamous, as indicated in latterly-published stories). Here’s one I missed completely.

David T. Walker

Maybe I’m just late for the bus, but I’ve followed music and musicians all my life to one degree or another, and I can’t say I ever knew about Mr Walker – much less the fact that he was born in Tulsa.

I don’t know how I happened to see the YouTube video, but there he was in a live concert in Tokyo, playing with jazzman Larry Carlton. The grey-headed bearded guy was playing some nice licks and I couldn’t figure out who he was.

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Thank goodness for technology. Otherwise, I would have never run across him, or figured out who he was once I heard his music. Mr Walker has his own website, and Wikipedia has a nice entry about him.

The Tulsa World recently ran a pre-Emmy Awards story about Oklahomans who have been nominated or have won television’s top honors. I was familiar with most of them. The newspaper has done the same thing in the past when the Grammys or other music awards are being handed out. I read those articles, but don’t recall running across Mr Walker’s name.

He has a new album being released later this month (Sept 2017), which – I’m guessing – would be his sixteenth solo record.

Here is a partial list of the folks who had him play guitar on their own albums over the years: the Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, Aretha Franklin, The Temptations, Diana Ross, Four Tops, James Brown, Little Richard, Ray Charles, Cannonball Adderly, Herbie Hancock, Donald Byrd, The Crusaders, Sergio Mendes, Boz Scaggs (a McAlester Oklahoma resident when he was young), Billy Preston, Bobby Womack, Lou Rawls, Barry White, Bill Withers, Mamas & Papas, Nancy Wilson, Barbara Streisand, Gladys Knight, and Sarah Vaughn. Legends like Quincy Jones, Ray Charles, Sammy Davis Jr, and Dean Martin. The Isley Brothers (another favorite of mine from the radio days). Carole (‘bout wore that album out) King.

You know the guy has to be something when you see the company he runs with.

Maybe you have heard of him before. Least-ways, you’ve heard of him now. Got some years on me and he’s still jammin’. Music – good for what ails ya’.

And books. Don’t forget books!

Come visit!

McHuston

Booksellers & Irish Bistro
Rose District, 122 South Main St Broken Arrow OK!

Stopped by a Machine Gun.

Some folks will remember the name – Machine Gun Kelly… but probably not his ties to Oklahoma. The prohibition-era gangster was arrested in Tulsa, and committed his most infamous crime in Oklahoma City… but, that’s GEORGE M.G. Kelly.

Not talkin’ ‘bout him.

Michael Gary Kelly later dropped “Machine Gun” and began using the initials M.G. as his professional moniker. I wonder if HE even has one of his old business cards. This Machine Gun Kelly was born in Ada, Oklahoma and worked his first radio jobs under his real name – Gary Sinclair.

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His business card is an example of why I never get any cleaning out accomplished. I was trying to find the bottom of a storage drawer and came across M.G. – and of course, I had to take a Google break to find out what he’s been up to.

My friend and bass-playing band-mate Ron would probably know the connection, but it has been too many years ago for me. On the back of the KHJ radio card is a note: “Say Hi to Larry & DeWayne for me.” Band members Larry (drums) and DeWayne (guitar) were acquainted with Gary somehow, and I remember Larry (yes, there were two Larrys in one music group) telling me a story about a visit he made to Hollywood, where he was given the star tour around town by Machine Gun Kelly during the height of his fame there.

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And Machine Gun Kelly was well known in Los Angeles, when KHJ was one of THE rock and roll stations in the US. One of the radio stations I worked for received taped recordings of deejays around the country, and M.G. Kelly was featured one month. Listened to that aircheck enough times that I had it pretty well memorized – down to his dramatic golden-voice inflections (it’s a radio thing…).

Gary Sinclair is still active in media, though not by that name. From his personal website:

M.G. Kelly began his radio career in 1970 while still a junior in high school. His first station was KTEN in Ada Oklahoma. There, Kelly played song dedications to schoolmates. A year later, He was hired by KOMA in Oklahoma City. While at KOMA, he came to the attention of radio mogul Lee Abrams who brought him to Cleveland in late 1972 for afternoon drive at WGCL-FM. The following year, radio consultant Kent Burkart presented Kelly to KSTP-FM in Minneapolis, as M.G. became part of the team that drove the 16th ranked station to number 2 in just 100 days. This dramatic ratings increase caught the attention of RKO Radio and 21-year-old Kelly was shooting straight to the legendary 93 KHJ in Los Angeles.

The card hovered over the trash can for a moment or two while I tried to get back to cleaning house. Nah. Couldn’t do it yet.

Lots of associated memories attached to it, with music and radio connections. Maybe the deejay hall of fame has a spot for it (like there is such a thing). At any rate, it’s going back into the drawer along with all the other junk my kids will have to deal with when I croak.