DCS: ken nordine

dark brown

His name may not be familiar, but you have heard Ken Nordine’s soothing, rich baritone.

Maybe it was on Word Jazz, the weekly show he hosted on Chicago Public Radio for over forty years. Perhaps it was on a commercial for Taster’s Choice Coffee, Levi Jeans, Flair Pens, Kraft Caramels or Gallo Wine. Maybe you heard his light-hearted reading of “My Baby” as Fred Astaire tap-danced on a 1960 television special. Could it have been his narration for several Maurice Sendak animated shorts, as broadcast on Sesame Street? Or was it on one of his 15 spoken word recordings or the over 30 guest recordings on which he appeared? Ken even coached young Linda Blair on her vocalizations for her role in the horror classic The Exorcist.

On February 16, 2019, Ken passed away at the age of 98. His mellifluous voice silenced after eight decades.

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DCS: jani lane

make a grown man cry

Jani Lane conquered the local music scenes in Cleveland, Orlando and Los Angeles before breaking out with Warrant, the popular glam-metal band. With Jani’s songs and charismatic persona, Warrant scored big with four Top 40 hits in 1989. Their debut album Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich went double platinum. Warrant’s follow-up album Cherry Pie, also produced four Top 40 singles including the risque title track, which peaked at Number 7 on Billboard’s Top 200. Cherry Pie also sold 2 million copies. Jani Lane was a certified superstar and a darling of the MTV crowd.

But fame is fleeting.

On August 11, 2011, Jani Lane was found dead in a room at the Woodland Hills Comfort Inn. The cause of death was determined to acute alcohol poisoning. He had at note in his pocket that read “I am Jani Lane” along with a phone number. Jani was 47.

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DCS: margaret polk

bombs away

 

Before Captain Robert K. Morgan flew his first of 25 missions in the massive Boeing B-17F Flying Fortress, he decided the aircraft needed a more familiar nickname. He chose “Little One,” the pet name he had for his sweetheart, Margaret Polk, back in Memphis, Tennessee. Morgan and his copilot Jim Verinis saw the John Wayne – Joan Blondell film Lady for a Night, in which the leading character owns a riverboat named the Memphis Belle. Morgan suggested the name “Memphis Belle” to his crew and all were in favor. The captain contacted noted pin-up artist George Petty for a cheesecake mascot to adorn the nose of the bomber. The artist obliged with a figure from a 1941 issue of Esquire Magazine.

Corporal Tony Starcer, the official artist for the 91st Bombardment Group, copied the pinup girl on the forward fuselage of the B-17F. It was a perfect duplication, but bore little resemblance to Captain Morgan’s Memphis girlfriend. The “nose art” later included 25 bomb silhouettes , one for each mission credit, and eight swastika designs, one for each German aircraft shot down by the crew. Crew names were stenciled below the station windows on the aircraft after Memphis Belle‘s  tour of duty was completed.

 

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IF: health

new pornographer

“To be stupid, selfish, and have good health are three requirements for happiness, though if stupidity is lacking, all is lost.”
— Gustave Flaubert

The celebrated French author Gustave Flaubert  lived a life of outspokenness and debauchery and suffered from venereal disease most of his life. He died of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 58.

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DCS: nancy hart

Wahatche

If you’re going to believe a made-up story about a strong and inspiring woman during the Revolutionary War, forget the one about Betsy Ross. Here’s the story of Nancy Hart.

According to various accounts, Nancy Hart and her husband Benjamin lived near Savannah, Georgia with their eight children. Nancy was a strong and resourceful woman, providing for her family through her skills as a hunter and herbalist. She was known by most to be fearless, as well as ruthless. She never hesitated to exact vengeance on those who offended her or meant to bring harm to her family. She also possessed a short and furious temper.

One morning, a group of six British soldiers forced their way into the Hart home looking for food. They demanded that Nancy kill and cook one of her turkeys, and she reluctantly agreed. When the bird was prepared and served, the soldiers lay their guns by the door before sitting down at the table to eat. While they were eating, she covertly slid their weapons out of the house through a hole in the wall of the cabin. She picked up the last gun and took aim at the soldiers, ordering them to remain still. One of the soldiers ignored her threat. When he stood, Nancy shot and killed him. Another soldier made a move towards her and she shot and killed him as well. She held the remaining four soldiers at bay until her husband and several neighbors arrived to assist. Benjamin wanted to shoot the four men, but Nancy insisted that they be hanged…. and she intended to do just that.

In 1912, a construction crew working on a railroad in the area uncovered evidence to support “The Legend of Nancy Hart.” During excavation of land less than a mile from the former site of the Hart homestead, workers found six skeletons buried neatly in a row. A few of the skeletons’ necks were broken, which suggested they had been hanged. Further investigation determined that they had been buried for at least 100 years.

Hart County, in northeastern Georgia, is named in Nancy’s honor.

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DCS: ranking roger

ranking full stop

As a teen, Roger Charlery was a fan of punk rock and was the drummer in the punk band Nam Nam Boys. He began a friendship with second wave ska band The Beat… and by friendship, I mean Roger would crash their gig, storm the stage and begin “toasting” (a form of rapping originating in the Caribbean) during their songs. He officially joined the band in the late 70s, recording three albums with them. He adopted the stage name “Ranking Roger,” a common boast among club DJs,

Soon, Roger and fellow Beat member Dave Wakeling formed General Public along with members of The Specials and Dexy’s Midnight Runners. General Public achieved success with a few albums until they split in the middle 80s. Over the years, Roger and Wakeling assembled and toured with various incarnations of The Beat and General Public.

Roger pursued a solo career, dabbling in electronic music as well as his stand-by ska. He regularly collaborated with Sting, in additon to appearing with Big Audio Dynamite, The Selector and his son Matthew Murphy, better known as “Ranking Junior.”

Roger toured extensively into the 21st Century. In the summer of 2018, he suffered a stroke that forced a cancellation of a planned tour. In early January 2019, Roger underwent surgery to remove to brain tumors. He also began receiving treatment for lung cancer. He passed away on March 26 at the age of 56.

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DCS: etta moton barnett

summertime and the livin' is easy

George and Ira Gershwin wrote the character “Bess” in their opera “Porgy and Bess” with popular contralto Etta Moton Barnett in mind. When she was approached to play the role, the singer was firm about refusing to sing the “N” word that was prominent throughout the libretto. The Gershwins honored her conviction and deleted the word from the script and lyrics.

In 1933, Etta performed for President and Mrs. Franklin Roosevelt at the White House, a rarity for an African-American performer and a first since 1878 when soprano Marie Williams sang for President Rutherford B. Hayes and his wife.

After experiencing vocal problems in the 1950s, Etta retried from the stage and devoted her life to advocate for equal rights and community causes in Chicago. She passed away in 2004 at the age of 102.

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