Thursday, December 31, 2009
It had it's ups and downs and it's sideways.
But I will say more on this soon.
For Now have a Happy 2010 and you may you be bless and may you bless others.
Forgive all those who have wronged you.
Love those who love you.
Love those who hate you.
Forget harsh words said against you.
Swallow you pride.
Don't be lazy.
Serve. Help. Aid. Guide. Share.
Endeavor to be the best you can be.
Cheers and may you find true Joy in 2010!
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
The gathering seemed a bit smaller than last year and a few faces were absent. But in there stead I saw many new faces, for me (since I am a relative new face to this group myself...though being from the Sacramento valley I can't really lay claim to being a Bay Area Performer, though we do several shows in the area each year).
I was accompanied by my good friend Bill Jackson and my son Juggglin' Jim.
The event is a no host event though Jay was defacto the host. We all just had to buy our own food and drink, and I liked that, even though I am of Scottish descent (watered down with English, German, Canadian, Cherokee, Jewish, Irish, Black, and Japanese by marriage. Normally I don't like my Scotch watered down but in this case I suppose it's OK ;-) ) I joke often how Scottish folk are cheapskates...if you can't pick on yourself who can you pick on.
We arrived early in SF knowing that at 6pm parking is free on the streets...the meters turn off. So we pulled in front of Lefty's about fifteen minutes before 6 and waited around Bill's mini-van until the big hand was on the 12 and the small hand was on the 6. Then we locked up and slalomed around the homeless people that seemed to be spaced every eight to ten feet with various means of getting your attention where by getting it they would ask for your money. One gent dressed in rags and dirt used a puppet to garner attention. He didn't even try to be a ventriloquist, he just moved his lips, and so did the puppet, who was dressed just like his human buddy. There wasn't enough spare change in the collective pockets of everyone on the street to provide for the large number of beggars. I was astounded at the larger numbers this year over last. (SF has many programs to provide shelter, medical and even free paychecks for the homeless, and with the economy being what it is I suppose those factors have driven the numbers up. Seemed like there were even more than there were in the '80s when I worked in this town. Heart breaking. Sometimes scary.)
Since I had worked in SF many years ago I wanted to see my old haunts and my old work places so I took Bill and Jim on a quick walking tour. Though the downtown layout hadn't changed much the shops within that layout had. The book store, the Woolworths, the Izokaiya, the soup shop and many other places I loved to patronize back then were all gone. There were newer, sometimes hipper joints occupying there window fronts now. Such is progress?
Back at Lefty's we lined up to get our food; cafeteria style. Then Jay spotted me just as I spotted him and we waved briefly across the room. We joined him and his lovely family in the back. His wife and kids were with him. They also had another guest with them. Their family had recently taken up training dogs for people with special needs; guide dogs. The one they currently had was a beautiful white lab.
Like last year we were one of the firsts to arrive. So by the time the majority of the crowd came in we were rubbing our overstuffed bellies and picking our teeth (metaphorically speaking).
Two by two, one by one, and group by small group, people began to arrive and the small talk, catch-up talk, and introductions began. There were many new faces and a few old, or more correctly familiar...though my face was older. I participated in the small talk and even had a few deeper conversations I find more pleasure in watching people.
I will skip the details of any conversations as they will remain what they were private, even the superficial ones.
I was a little heart broken that I didn't get to chat with SF's most wonderful children's performer, a clown I met many many years ago at a fair. I will omit his name but I seemed to get the brush off from him and when I looked on facebook he was missing among my friends list so I man guessing somewhere along the road I upset him about something. I can't imagine what and since he brushed me off, though politely, I guess I may never know what it was I did and will never be able to make amends for it. Sad! (I do have to admit that I can brush people the wrong way sometimes...my personality has that brashness that come across smug to some or mean to some....unintentially.) But as the saying goes you can't make everybody happy all the time...unless your name is JC! (JC Dunn is the world's nicest man and couldn't make anyone mad with him if he was trying...and he would never try.) Still I will miss my former friend. He is an awesome performer and in my early days he gave me much good advice.
On a happier note I met some fabulous new faces like Jim Farrbinder (SF Ghost Hunt), Allen Gittelson (Mindbender), Sylvia Brallier (Comedian, hypnotherapist), Tobias Beckwith (Manager), Lawrence Lemon (Magician), Patrick Martin (illusionist) and many other's whose names escape at this writing. Plus I meet a number of familiar Faces Frank Olivier (many titles), Glenn (Big Al Capone- magician), Jay Alexander (Magician of the Mind and more), Brain Asman (Balloonist), Karen Quest (Cowgirl Extraordinaire), Mitch (magician), and many many others who escape my cerebellum at this time.
I have always found it strange that when this number of entertainers get together that at this event no one does any entertaining but that is the nature of this event. I hawever did do a trick or two for Bill, Jim balanced a chairor two on his face and Jay's son Max did a clever PTEO mentalism trick with the selected item appearing as a picture on his dad's cell phone. It was neat.
I've always like that trick as it is one of my friend JC's favorite tricks to do.
We had a long drive back to the valley so we snapped a few pictures and left arounf 9 something.
Friday, December 18, 2009
I found an old Vitaphone (original talkies) of six of the seven younger Foys performing their vaudeville show "Chips of the old Block" ...that gave us an insite into what the little Foys grew into and I was able to see the kernel of their characters on stage.
I got a hold of 100 year old sheet music performed by the Foys...that gave me an insight into them as well.
In Foy's autobiography I discovered while performing in SF with his first wife (later to die in childbirth with the child) and a partner and his wife they decided to try their first and last try to be producer. Turns out he flopped at it. But that effort brought him to the gold town of Oroville, CA...my current home. It was 1882. That got me thinking. The State Theater here in town was built in 1928, I believe. So there had to be a theater preceding it. Turns out there were many. The American (the first theater in town), the Metropolitan, the Atkins, the Orpheum, and of course every honky tonk and dance hall had a kind of theater. So the research has to go deeper.
By process of elimination ((by date)) the Atkins and the theater in the Union Hotel were the only ones that (as of now) that could've been the theater Foy used. Here are photos of them now and then.
Vacant lot today
Parking lot today. (Notice the then Exposition Center is now a shadow of what it was....it was retrofitted and mad earthquake safe....the second level was removed, the facade was removed ...the sloping path was cut into two levels)
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Now, there were many small honky tonks and show rooms in bars and such but as of my research to date this would've been the only thing that can be called an Opera House back then. Today the building is long gone and there is a parking lot where this joint once stood. I am told by old timers that this place stood until the 50s and served as a movie house and then a plumber supply store and now a place to park your car.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
We have been rehearsing our 2010 program. In fact, nearly every day one of us is coming up with something new we want to try. In our Foy number Victor Jr saw the youngest Foy boy (albeit he was 17 in the film of their old show "Chips of the old Block") do a Cossack style dance and so he's been practicing it five times a day...Jim might do it too.. Jim is adding tumbler juggling and balancing even bigger things on his face. Cynthia has been practicing a very authentic melody, "Bye Bye Pretty Baby" for the Foy show I mentioned. The strain of the high 20's era singing voice is taking a lot of voice training for her. Then there is all the new magic. Anyone can go out and buy a trick and call themselves a magician...you've more than likely seen hundreds. But to create a moment the audience remembers, be it comical, serious, or touching is of little regard...that they are moved to remember you and the trick. So a lot of work goes into making the magic portions of the show magical, funny, etc but most of all memorable.
Still we have come off of non stop shows from May through November and the slow down is a bit tough. Maybe we should take it as a blessing and relax, but it's really hard to do.
So maybe I should take what time I have before things get busy again to clean my office....
Thursday, December 10, 2009
-Oroville Mercury News 8/4/1882
Came across the above article while researching Eddie Foy and Oroville's old Opera House.
Did a bit of research on the John Robinson Circus...one article mentions an elephant attack in 1841 in Ohio. Apparently there were three genrations of John Robinsons that ran the circus.
Well....back to my Foy studies.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Also thanks to buddy JC for a great lunch today.
Is it possible to be too sweet or too much of a well oiled machine? Well, if it is for TV the answer is yes. The producers at Discovery have decided that our family is "too sweet", "get along too well" and have "too well oiled of a machine" to be of interest to the network at this time. They would like us to be a bit more "New York" but don't want us to become that.
I said we would roll with it and so we roll on.
So that is the update on the TV thing.
I guess I should return the Porsche and the Rolex (Just kidding..I wear a Timex and my car is a 15 passenger van.)
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Then all the projects and opportunities that are up in the air and we await to see where they fall. The TLC TV show, the Dominican TV Show, the new management company out of FL that is taking over some of our booking work, the whole Foy Tribute, and the list goes on.
So you wonder, "what about the shows for this month?" We are doing our fair share but most of those will deal with the 2009 program and we can do that in our sleep.
I have started taking Prevacid for years of heartburn that I just won't stand for anymore..I suppose it is the price of capitalism (if the government doesn't take it away and give it to others.)
Below are a couple of new pix with the new costume for 2010. Note the custom jacket is based on the 1910's loose fitting vaudeville comedian and the addition of the top hat is all Circus with an Alice in Wonderland flare. It was a task indeed to find a good quality yellow bell "bull" top hat. Especially one that fit's my XL head. The tie is also turn of the century and based on the Foy pictures in his bio.
Jim has been taking music used by the Foys and adjusting them for us. We have found 100 year old (or near 100 year old) music sheets from their shows. Jim will create and arrangement and get a band or mini-orchestra together and recreate the music which we will sing and dance to. "Greatest Father of the All" (written by the eldest Foy boy, Bryan and William Jerome). "Bye Bye Pretty Baby" used by the Foy kids when they were young adults in their show "Chips of the old Block" (not a typo...of not off) and "My Chinatown", which needs a complete rewrite of the lyric in the verses due to what would be considered racist today.
Our seamstress, Jane Miller, is a remarkable lady doing all the costumes this year giving Mami a break. Since Mami has become Homeschool teacher for the kids extra work in the area of costume making would kill her.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
If you are surpirsed about her wearing sneakers...well, she was ahead of them all back then, a true visionary. her maiden name was Adidas.
OK I'm Lying. In the 2010 season we are doing a tribute to the Foys. Eddie Foy, the father of the performing group of seven kids known as the Seven Little Foys, performed a clowning drag character in the show. We wanted to keep some of that authenticity so with much ado we have carefully created a look similar to his back in the day. Below is how the look came out untouched. Because "Drag" hold completely different connotations today We decide to go with a more clownish look to reflect the clowning feel that Foy was famous for.
And they aren't Adidas...they're Reebox.