Friday, December 31, 2010

Ferko String Band 2000- Swingin' Into Action

Ferko Sting Band's military/Service theme exhibits the wide range creative costumes and tributes one can see at The Mummers Parade

Fralinger String Band 2005 - Gypsy For-tunes

The action starts after about a minute 30 seconds is worth the wait. Fralinger is one of the top 3 every year and has won 1st prize several times in recent years. Watch these guys strut and remember these are average 'Joes" who tomorrow might be fixing your plumbing or re-connecting your cable TV.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Year's Day

New Year's day....for some it is a day for Bowl games or dry-heaving into the Bowl....for others it is a day like any other with perhaps only a small hangover or none at all. Most view the New Year as a clean slate, a fresh start, a time to make resolutions for improving one's lot or casting off the odd vice.

In Philadelphia, New Year's day is a whole separate Party; removed and different than the hapless striving for a good time that happens on the Eve. This night many a pathetic soul parties with weiner-tots,plastic noise-makers, bad hats and worse sparkling wine.

New Year's day brings us in the Delaware Valley, and the lucky tourists who venture to the City of brotherly love, the Mummer's Parade. Officially it began as a City sponsored parade in 1901. However, the revelry of Mummers and New Year's "Shooters" has it's roots in German, English and Swedish settlers who roamed the Colonial streets ringing in the New Year with gunfire, booze and costumed antics. The parade now features Comics, String Bands and Fancies and generally takes about 6 to 7 hours to complete.

Wondering about the attraction of the Mummers is not unlike that old question about Jazz...if you have to ask you'll never know. It is a party on New Year's day and a great spectacle of costume and musical talent...and an excuse to drink and cavort . It is similar to Mardis Gras and Carnivale and makes the Rose Bowl Parade look like a crepe paper joke. Unfortunately many people lambast and criticize the parade and scoff at the tradition and it's participants. To those naysayers I simply reply that they do not know have to experience it live to appreciate the talent and get caught up in the fun. I have been going since I was a kid and now take my kids. They are all teenagers now and they love it even without access to the intoxicants consumed by the adults.

Who are these guys, the Mummers, who festoon themselves with expensive feathered and sequined costumes and pick up a sax and banjo or drum and march up Broad street? These guys ( and now women as well) are steamfitters and longshoreman, welders and bookkeepers and just everyday people who belong to a Club and practice and work hard all year to participate and compete in this special event.These New Year's clubs are tight knit social groups that include generations of families. They toil and practice year round to raise money for their instruments and costumes and choreographers and music teachers. The competition between the top String Bands is fierce and the bragging rights last the whole year.

On a chilly New Year's day there is nothing like hearing the distinctive sound of the String Bands marching up Broad street. The sound echoes in the office building confines of the streets and resonates to the core of each spectator. The bands sport numerous saxophones and banjos, bass and drum, Sousaphone and even Glockenspiel. The sound is unique in all the world. It is not a musical genre you would put in your CD player in the car, but in the afternoon of the first day of the year, amongst friends and family and thousands of Happy New Year wishing parade goers, it is a happy and uplifting music.The routines they present are creative and the Mummers suits are often just amazing.

The "Wench" Brigades ( The painted faced maniacs pictured above), are loosely based on old European costumes and in their contemporary incarnation are just crews of men and boys dressed as "Wenches" who parade in the morning. Later, they retire to Clubhouses for major bashes or haunt the parade route swilling beers and wishing all and sundry a Happy New Year.

So while many across the Country are glumly boxing up their Christmas decor, or plodding to the gym for their first of only a few resolution work outs, or administering to a hang-over with hair o' the dog or just aspirin and Coca-Cola, I will be at the Parade hugging my Wife and kids, taking a nip on a flask of Bourbon,and cheering on Fralinger, or Ferko or Quaker City String Band. Happy New Year everybody.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Merry Christmas

As described below...leaving for Vemont tomorrow at 0-dark-thirty. A final festive post before I go off-line for several days and enjoy some Winter Sports with my wife and kids. Is this Yuletide image too much once again...probably....but hunting on Christmas day was once not just a tradition but a necessity.Nothing like a dead Buck and blood on the snow to engender warm and happy memories of Christmas right? Frohe Weinacthen zum alle!

PS.Obviously this image is courtesy of Getty.

Locking in the White Christmas

Here on the Main Line, the elusive "White Christmas" is generally a meteorological crap shoot. We have had only a few in several years. This year I am throwing a seven on the come out roll and locking in the White Christmas by taking my wife and kids to Stowe,Vermont.
This is a huge break in tradition for us.We have never been away for Christmas. The days leading up to Christmas have always been a blur of parties, shopping, wrapping,cooking and general Holiday frenzy. We have been hosting a formal Christmas dinner for up to 20 Family members and guests for the past 10 or so years. This means: Cocktail hour, Watercress salad with Blood oranges, Beef Wellington or roasted Filet with Bernaise,Potato gratin, flamed croissant bread pudding with currants...a serious culinary production. Not this year sports fans!
My Wife and I rented a house for 5 tub...fireplaces..the whole gig. We will ski, skate, sled, and enjoy time as a family without all the harried preparation and work required. We will soak in the Hot Tub, watch "A Christmas Story" several times, a compendium of Bing Crosby Christmas specials and Barbara Stanwyck in "Christmas in Connecticut." We will go to a Christmas Eve service at 11 p.m at Stowe Community Church, have Christmas dinner at The Green Mountain Inn...all amongst a major boatload of snow. The area has had plenty of the white stuff over the recent this translates to picturesque Vermont scenery and good skiing.
No posts from this Sportsman for the duration...hence, I extend Christmas salutations to my small and easily amused audience of readers and to the talented photographers and writers of the Blogs I read and follow.You Ladies and Gentlemen craft some truly enjoyable stuff and each post is indeed a gift which is appropriate to this Season.

P.S. There will be goose hunting and more duck hunting immediately upon my return from the Green Mountain state so stay tuned for pictures (hopefully) of dead waterfowl and grinning son included(hopefully) as he will be handling his own shotgun in the Goose Pit and Duck Blind next week.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Hard Core Decor

Here are some Christmas decorations presented by some rabid hunter-sportsman. Creative presentations...certainly....taken a bit too far...perhaps. I think the pile of entrails under the hanging deer may be a bit much for the under 5 set in the neighborhood.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Amazing Game and Great Writing

I will not post on the astounding football game that we Eagles fans enjoyed yesterday. The Net and the papers are loaded with prose about this game that is far superior than anything I could offer.What I would like to underscore is the really wonderful writing that can sometimes be found on the Sports Page.
In today's Philadelphia Inquirer, one of the writers was refering to this miraculous game and wrote that the miracle involved a "Santa-sized coach" and an "Elf-sized player" when discussing Andy Reid and Desean Jackson. I just loved this Christmas theme metaphor woven into the football story. Well done!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

"A Christmas Story" Quote

" In our world, you were either a bully, a toady, or one of the nameless rabble of victims."
Does this pronouncement not ring true in real life?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Waterfowler's Catch 22

Duck season re-opened in Delaware yesterday. Some of the boys and I went to the Clubhouse Thursday night. We discovered that the river and marsh were largely frozen over. All this cold weather we have had really locked up the river and the boat ramps are all unusable. We did have some open water...just enough to get out some decoys...but not in front of our we had to conceal ourselves along the banks in the reeds. This is the Catch 22...we hope for cold weather to move the migratory birds down our way...and then the water in front of the Blinds is frozen solid.
We had ducks moving...nothing decoyed in....I think we were not well concealed in our spots on the bank.
We'll keep at it...and Goose season re-opens Thursday. We'll most likely have great success on the Geese as they are all over the place on the farm.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Another Jazz Great Passes

Back in 2003 when I still owned Chris' Jazz Cafe in Philly, I was fortunate to meet James Moody. Mr. Moody passed away this week. He was a Sax legend and could blow the Be Bop and Hard Bop with the best of 'em. He toured with Dizzy and played with some smoking hot groups. He even spent time in Vegas as a member of a house band backing up some of the great stage performers of the day. He could also play a mean flute and sing damn well. Between numbers he would tell off color jokes and regale the audience with hilarious anecdotes from his days on the road.
He was featured at my Club for a weekend and packed the joint for 2 nights. He was a true professional and gave every minute of every set.
The truly fond memory I have of this legendary Jazz figure came on his last night. It was time to pay Mr. Moody so I took him back in the office. We paid performers from the cover charge so I handed Moody a large wad of cash. He looked at the roll of bills and then at me. He proceded to grab me and hug me. He then leaned back and said: "Man getting paid like this, with a wad of bread, reminds me of the old days on 52nd street....and damn that's a good memory." He hugged me again and went off to pay his side men. I stood there stunned and smiling...knowing I had just been embraced by one of the greats.
I will miss Moody and his sax riffs and will always remember that hug.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Declining Numbers

Many people do not appreciate the fact that hunters are among the most ardent conservationists and as a demographic contribute vast sums to both Public and Private conservation efforts.
As reported today in both the New York Times and Phila. Daily News, via AP....the number of hunters nationwide is waning. The article reports that: "The falloff could have farreaching consequences beyond the beginning of the end for an American tradition....with fewer hunters there is less revenue for a multi-billion dollar industry and government conservation efforts"
The writer further tells us that the paradox is that if hunting disappears,a large amount of funding that goes to restore habitat would vanish.
Hunting generates billions in retail sales and hundreds of millions into government conservation efforts.
In my state, Pennsylvania, sales of hunting licenses are down 20% over the last 20 years. One of the quotes in the article was chilling: "50 years ago a lot of kids would hunt and fish and be outside. Now it is easier to sit in your playroom and play video games." ( Mark Duda of a natural resources research group in Virginia)
What can a Sportsman do about this problem? The answer is easy: take a kid hunting.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas Film Selection

This Holiday season, treat yourself to a tremendous foreign film with a powerful Christmas theme. "Joyeux Noel" is the story of the brief spontaneous truce that took place on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in the trenches along the Western Front in 1914. This award winning film is based on true stories and offers a poignant message about the meaning of Christmas amid the horror and bloodshed of war. The copy I watched had subtitles...but I believe there is a version out dubbed into English. I am sure you can fit in time to watch this excellent film in between the 24 hours of "A Christmas Story."

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Surf Fishing-Fellow Sportsman

Here we see my colleague Mike. Mike practices law with me. Like me, when he is not suited up wielding briefs and oral arguments, he likes to wield rods and guns.
This photo was taken November 27th this year when Mike caught this monster Striper off the beach on Long Beach Island in New Jersey. This big fish measured 44 inches and weighed in at 33 lbs. For those of you who have never gone surf fishing, believe me, this catch is a commendable accomplishment. Surf fishing is difficult and fickle. In order to be successful one has to carefully time the attack to correspond with a confluence of time, tide, and location. Bait is also a paramount concern. Mike was using cut-up Bunker. It is also very important to know the underwater topography and cast in holes and gullies beyond the wave break where big predatory Stripers hang out and pursue smaller fish. These fish also fight hard and it can take 1/2 an hour to bring a big fish like this to shore.
Most surf fishing Sportsman enjoy the whole asthetic of fishing off the beach. On a nice day it can be most enjoyable and relaxing. However, often the Stripers are running in Spring and late Fall when it can be fairly cold. I have caught my share of Stripers off the Beach from Island Beach to Cape May Point. I have never caught anything to rival the fish in this photo. Indeed, I have never caught a Stiper over 35 inches while surf fishing and so I tip my hat to Mike.
Another aspect of this triumph that warrants a mention is the eating. Eating Striped Bass that was line caught only a few short hours before it hits the grill is a superlative dining experience. "Fresh" is an inadequate adjective to describe how good Striper tastes when it was swimming wild the same day you eat it. No restaurant anywhere can rival the experience.
Now if he would just take down the 4 pictures of this fish from his office wall...they taunt and mock me!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Service Dogs

Sportsmen love their dogs. I have posted on this topic before. We love the Labs and the Setters, the Pointers and the Spaniels, we love them all. We have a special bond with the dogs that join us in our hunting pursuits.
This Sporting bond is probably exceeded by the bond between a K-9 officer and his partner. These dogs provide a variety of services and duties with their Law Enforcement masters. Today we mourn the loss of one of these fine dogs.
Just south of that toilet of a City across the Delaware from where I sit typing this (Camden,NJ), a Robbery suspect hurled one of these fine K-9 dogs into traffic...killing the dog instantly. It seems this K-9 Service dog, "Schultz", had clamped his ample jaws down on the "perps" forearm in the process of breaking up a robbery. The "perp" flung the dog into the street and as a result fell into the street himself. "Schultz" was run over and killed right in front of Officer Pickard, the Police Officer with whom the dog worked. One can only imagine the horror experienced by both dog and cop.
The "perp", Skyler Robinson was apprehended and charged.
What a tragedy for the valiant Police officer and his Family, and a tremendous loss to the K-9 department of the town. The scumbag Robinson....not sure I personally could have kept my gun holstered and unused if I was Officer Pickard, Schultz's Partner.

Photo courtesy of Phila. Daily News.