Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Peter Gunn (1958-1961)

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I decided to explore the two volume DVD set I got called Blake Edwards' Peter Gunn:  Hot on the Case, Cool Under Fire put out by A&E.  This appears to be season one of the television series which eventually ran for three years and 114 episodes.  However, the boxed set has only 32 of the 38 episodes from season one.  Go figure.

Blake Edwards was an idea factory who worked in the entertainment business for years with great success.

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Blake Edwards went on to direct great films:  Operation Petticoat (with Cary Grant and Tony Curtis--one of my favorite comedies of all time); Breakfast at Tiffany's;  Days of Wine and Roses;  all the Pink Panther movies and Victor Victoria which starred his then wife, Julie Andrews.  Oddly, this great creator spent the last fifteen years of his life battling chronic fatigue syndrome and depression.  He died with a reputation locked in popular culture but with little respect for all that he accomplished--I think he should be far better remembered for his storytelling ability and his creative and comic genius.

He began his writing career in the late 1940s and had success with a number of projects which led to him creating Richard Diamond, Private Detective, a radio program starring David Janssen that ran from 1949 to 1953 before transferring to television from 1957 to 1960.

Peter Gunn was developed as a cool P.I. who works in an unnamed urban city filled with crime lords.  The filming style was film noir.  Besides Edwards huge contributions in many areas, the show had various writers and directors with the most famous director shot (ep. 3–28: "The Murder Bond" (April 24, 1961) was done by Robert Altman.  The show ran on NBC from September 1958 to September 1960 and then ran on ABC through 1961.

The actor selected to play the part was Craig Stevens.

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Craig Stevens was never a major actor but did work film and television for a number of years.  Gunn was his major claim to fame.  He married the gorgeous actress Alexis Smith in 1944 and contrary to most Hollywood marriages, the couple lived together until Smith died of brain cancer in 1993.

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Stevens brings a tone to the acting that helps keep the sardonic nature of the character within the oeuvre of the P. I. as developed in pulp literature and Hollywood movies.  He keeps it from getting to campy but never rises above television series acting during season one.

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Gunn is so cool that he spends a great deal of time hanging out in a jazz nightclub called Mothers.  Mothers is owned by Mother as played by Hope Emerson.

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Hope was unique in Hollywood at that time as she was a towering 6' 2" tall and weighed 190 lbs. which meant she looked huge even next to Stevens.

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Gunn's girlfriend is Edie Hart played by Lola Albright.  She is the house singer at Mother's.  In her personal life she was married three times.  Her second marriage was to the famous actor Jack Carson but eventually she married Bill Chadney and they stayed married for 14 years.  The interesting thing about that was that he was the on camera pianist, Emmett, in the house band at Mother's.  Although in 42 episodes, he was not always listed as a cast member when he was on the set.  But hey--he got to go home with Edie every night and Peter Gunn never did.

This might be a time to talk about the sensibilities of this show.  It is not "modern" in its outlook and in some cases, including Edie's role on the show, it reeks of 1950s attitudes.  Edie's job basically is to be the passive--aggressive victim of Peter's inability to commit.  However, the show does have an inter-racial cast at times, especially with the music.  But it then can turn around and be badly racist as it is when they need a sinister Asian character for one episode.

Each week the show is filled with characters who will appear just in that show and their faces are also familiar.  At least in the 32 episodes I watched, there is no real fire power like I have seen in Combat! or The Naked City.

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The police presence is provided by Lt. Jacoby played by Herschel Bernardi.  His face may be familiar to you if you have watched a lot of vintage TV, but Peter Gunn was the only show where he got an Emmy nomination.  His most famous role is one unknown to most:  he is the voice of the Jolly Green Giant's "Ho, Ho, Ho."  He did have two season on TV in Arnie as the lead character.  He also spent many nights on stage as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, being the original replacement for Zero Mostel.

As an actor on the show, he has his moments of pathos wherein you can see the trained actor struggling to bring some believability to his role as a world-weary cop.

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Mothers is a jazz club and is lucky enough to have a club band that plays the music written or compiled by Henry Mancini.  Of course, we all can hum the memorable and very popular Peter Gunn Theme,  which won an Emmy Award and two Grammys for Henry Mancini.  John Williams (yes, that John Williams) is the pianist working on the Mancini music and played the piano on the show's theme.  

A year after the debut of Peter Gunn, the jazz private eye continued with Johnny Staccato which managed only to stay on the air for 27 episodes, but they are great.  Starring John Cassavetes (who also directed five of the episodes), it is great noir stuff and has equally powerful jazz music.  

Ultimately, I am glad I watched season one but I have no desire to watch the rest of the shows because there was a similar nature to all the episodes.  I thought that The Naked City was much better as a piece of entertainment.  But I like vintage TV, black and white, noir and these vintage cop dramas so I did not waste my time.  Besides, this may be some of the best music ever on television.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Junkin' Central Wisconsin with My Relatives

Today my sister Barb invited me to join her and my brother-in-law Bob on a junkin' adventure in central Wisconsin.  Barb and Bob live in Crivitz, WI, and they drove south west to Berlin while I left Milwaukee and drove north west.

I got to Berlin about an hour before the Crivitz crew so...I went junkin.'   I hit a small thrift center that had nothing for me but then I went to what looked like an old grocery store.  It was a thrift center run by Lutherans, this is most certainly true.  I bought a skeleton head, a serving dish and the Avon wedding couple.  Total cha-ching: $2.00 American.

Our first group goal was Saving Grace Salvage (245 East Park Avenue, Berlin).  I mean, c'mon--look at this place.  How cool is that?

The first floor

The first floor from the balcony

The basement

Saving Grace is clean and very well organized.  It is HUGE!  It also has fair market value prices--don't expect thrift store price tags here.  That being said, I did find some things I was willing to pay for.

Here is what I got. Three shutters (a dyptich and a triptich), a sewing machine drawer, three small cigar boxes, a metal thing that looks like a helmet, a vintage can, five metal frames and three books from the turn of the 20th century.  Total cha-ching:  $78.00 American.

Next we carpooled down the road to Omro, WI.  We stopped at a farm where Barb bought a pumpkin but a bought a bundled bunch of corn stalks to make paper.

We stopped at Farm Wife's Country Store.  This is a craft and food store but outside in the elements the shopkeeper had these three items she was willing to sell:  two strawberry caddies and a sewing machine drawer.  Total cha-ching:  $10 American.

Our last stop was at William's Little Store (5778 Springbrook Road, Omro).

Bob checking out the sign.  "That could be interpreted a number of ways," he said.

Store has to be a euphemism for something like "junk outside along the highway."  To make matters worse, storms were on the horizon and William had covered most of his junk with tarps, showing an amazing amount of care considering the condition that most of the stuff was in.

Yes, this was full of junk.

Sometimes junk can be very beautiful in a weird kind of way.

However, before I got really wet, I did manage to snag three parts of a cow watering mechanism and part of a horse harness.  Total cha-ching:  $18 American.

All in all, it was a fun day and I got to see a few assemblage sources that I was not familiar with thanks to my enabling sister.  Thanks, Barb.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Junkin' the Easy Way in Southeast Wisconsin

Here are my tips for assemblage artists in the southeastern portion of Wisconsin who are looking for good sources of junk for their art.

My personal preferences are flea markets, auctions and estate sales.

In my opinion, the two best flea markets in our area are Elkhorn and Cedarburg.

The Elkhorn Flea Market is the largest and the best.  It happens four times a year at the Walworth County Fairgrounds.  The last one of 2016 will be September 25th.  The 2017 dates are on their website.  Vendors and attendees will tell you that the prices are higher here than other flea markets because of the proximity of Chicago but I have always found stuff to buy at a price that I can afford considering I am going to do weird things to the stuff I buy.

The Cedarburg Maxwell Street Days take place in Firemen's Park in Cedarburg four times a year.  The last one of 2016 will be October 2nd.  Vendors will tell you that they ask less here than they do in Elkhorn but Cedarburg also has more rummage type dealers which can be interesting.

I don't do much rummage sales because it is so hit or miss whether I will find anything for all the time I put into it.

I like going to auctions--for me they are as entertaining as watching a TV show or a sporting event.  My favorite auction to go to Julie's Antique Auction at Cliffords on Forest Home Avenue near Hales Corners.  Be prepared--these auctions are marathons.  They start at 6:00 p.m. and can go as long as Midnight.  That's right--Midnight! They just had one this Monday and I came home with the following for a total of $32.  And I got home at 12:20 a.m. Tuesday morning.

The Sunday Milwaukee Journal is the best source for listings of estate sales and rummage sales in our area.  For whatever reason, the listings are in the "Jobs" section of the want ads.  Anther way to find estate sales in our area is to use Estate Sales which can be regionalized by zip code and milage.  It just depends on how far you want to roam to find good junk.

In my opinion, I find estate sales to be more valuable than rummage sales.  For one thing, estate sales mean everything is for sale, not just the junk the family has decided to get rid of.  The second thing is I like to wait until the last day and shop the bargains when the estate sale folks are more willing to bargain and stuff can be bundled into deep discounts.

Let me tell you a tale of a recent estate sale adventure that I had.

From an add in the paper, I went to an address on the East Side of Milwaukee that sounded promising.  By the time I got there I was only interested in these eight frames for $5.  Still, not a bad purchase.

On the way home, by sheer serendipity, I went down a street in West Allis and found an estate sale advertised on the street that was NOT in the Journal.  For $25 I got all of this--sometimes it is just a good thing to be in the right place at the right time.

At the last estate sale, I passed on the canning shown below--what do you think?

Happy hunting, Wizards of Blage.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Cold in the Earth

I took my first Keith Lo Bue workshop recently by going on line to Artful Gatherings Retreats.  The class was called Paper It Over: Collaging The Found Object.  Keith is a very thorough teacher and his videos are of the highest caliber.

I used a number of different techniques on a simple wood box I got at Michaels.

My source for paper was this old ledger I had in my basement.

Out of the basement came this cool light crystal.

Buried inside the wood curtain rod holder is the image of a man.  
Hard to photograph so you will have to trust me.

Then it was time to paint.

And thus we have...
Cold in the Earth

Thursday, August 11, 2016

127 Rummage Sale: 750 Miles of Junk

127 Rummage Sale:  649 Miles of Junk

Day One:  Monday, August 1, 2016

For quite awhile I have been thinking about doing something challenging as a road trip:  to rummage the entire route of the world's longest yard sale, the 127.

Under terms of full disclosure, I followed this map for my trip (according to the latest information on the website, the route ends in Addison, Michigan but I ended in Hudson, Michigan, as this map reads).

I had been on the route a few years ago when I was visiting Louisville, KY.  My family left on Sunday and we went east to Lexington and shopped a bit of the route.  This is what gave me the bug to try to do the whole thing.

I left on Monday at 11:30 a.m.  While I will spend most of the trip listening to music, today I am able to listen to the rain delayed NASCAR race from Pocono, Pennsylvania.  That was the good news, the bad news was the signal would run out just sort of the conclusion.

My route took me on  WI 43 South to WI 14 East to IL 23 South to IL 17 East to IL 47 South to IL 24 East to IN 231 South.  The goal was to spend as little time as possible on any Federal highways.

This night I ate supper at the Good Table Family Restaurant in Kentland, IN, and slept at a Comfort Suites in Lafayette, IN,  near the campus of Purdue University.

Total miles today: 360.

Day Two: Tuesday, August 2, 2016

I left Lafayette at 8:30 a.m. on IN 231S.

My first stop was Cataract Falls State Park.

Today's lunch was at Stoll's Lakeview Restaurant, north of Loogootee, IN, located on a beautiful lake.  This is a home cookin' kind of place but was makes it more special is the home cookin' is done by the Amish.  They serve an Amish Buffet and service is provided by women in full Amish gear.  The irony at today's lunch was the local Red Hatters were present so we had a Red Hat vs. Amish Prayer Cap battle.

After lunch  I headed up IN 150 E.  By accident I went 450 N but the good luck is I found Friendship United Methodist Church and this cool statute in the Hickory Ridge Cemetery next door.

I turned around and went 450S to 550E to 56W to 145S to 66E and the bridge over the Ohio River into Kentucky.  Then I was on KY69S, the Kentucky scenic byway to KY59E to KY79S to KY185S.

I did not keep good notes for this experience but I know I was in St. Mary's Cemetery--somewhere.

This night I stayed at the Bowling Green Super 8 and ate next door at a Jerry's Diner.

Total miles today:  330
Total miles on the trip: 690

Day Three:  Wednesday, August 3, 2016

After Jerry's Diner for breakfast, I left at 8:00 a.m. taking 231S to 31S to Nashville.  My goal was to see the American Pickers location at the Marathon Motors Village.

Not sure what I expected here but I have to admit to being a little disappointed.  I have been to Iowa to the American Pickers' headquarters in LeClaire and found that had some charm.  This location was small, crowded and lack charm.  Been there, saw it, never have to go back.  (Cabinet cards, which sell anywhere for $1 - $2 are in a bin here and priced $8 each--that might give you an idea of why I was a little disillusioned.)

So now I had to drive back to 231 S so I could take that into Alabama on AL 431 S.  My goal was the official southern starting point of the 127: Gadsden, Alabama.

Once there, I drove around looking for hotels, restaurants and trying to find the start of the 127 which at this point on the route map I had was listed as AL Hwy 176.  I finally went north of the city about 9 miles and found where Hwy. 176 actually starts.  I then backtracked on the local county trunk 211 which proved to be full of rummage sale potentials for tomorrow.

Back in Gadsden I decided to sleep at the Garden Inn which turned out to be a cool place to stop.  The other advantage, as it was rather late at night by this time, was that there was a Mexican restaurant just down the hill from the motel.

Total miles today:  360
Total miles on the trip:  1,050

Day Four:  Thursday, August 4, 2016

After breakfast in the hotel, I was on the road at 7:30 a.m.--it is already 80 degrees.  I decide that my official first miles on the 127 are going to start at Gardner and 12th where this sign was posted for all to see:

This also appeared to be where the county trunk 211 intersected with the city so it worked for me.

All of today's travels will be on Lookout Mountain Parkway--windy roads, great scenery and cool small towns.  I have to say as a warning that if you are not a fan of challenging roads this trip is not for you.  It is hard to watch for rummage, look at scenery, drive a two lane highway full of distracted drivers at too fast a speed and handle all the elevation changes and curves.  On the other hand, I had a blast.  It was like American Pickers meet Mario Andretti.

The first thing I found was Noccalula Falls State Park which is Alabama's official starting point for the 127.

Yup--there is rummage.

I took AL 211 N eight miles up the road before I made my first purchase.  As Frank and Mike like to say on American Pickers, "The ice is broken."

9:00 a.m. (8 miles)
$11--3 Plates, frame, cabinet card, metal piece

 Here is my Junkers' Creed for the entire trip.

Typical rummage along the road on the entire route.

10:45 a.m. (12 miles)
$4--trivet, tin box, small metal piece

At 11:00 a.m. I turned onto AL 176 N.

11:00 a.m. (mile 20)
$1--serving tray

11:30 a.m. (mile 27)
$25--child mannequin, lamp base and a piece of plastic trim

The guy who sold me this said, "So, you are buying Michael Jackson's boyfriend."  I assume that was some kind of Alabama racism.

Noon (mile 31) today I got caught in a rainstorm at a flea market spot so I decided to head north and out run the storm.  I drove four miles up to Dogtown so I thought I would grab an appropriately named hot dog.  Evidently in Alabama the weather pattern is to the north as the rain caught up and ruined the shopping.  I did get some cool shots of an old truck.

Traffic can be tricky but I was surprised at how few spots were really congested on the route.  Occassionally, especially near the small towns, traffic could get like this and the only thing you could do is listen to the music, try to spot good junk and not run over any fellow rummagers.

(As a side note, I had to slam on my brakes for traffic occassionally but I really had to lay on the brakes to avoid hitting someone's black labador, a deer and a emaciated fox that all ran across the road in front of the van at various points on the trip).

I drove N on Cr-89 and at mile 41 outside of Dogtown found this cool abandoned building.

1:45 p.m. (mile 47)
$19--3 lion faces and a clock

2:00 p.m. (mile 51)
Desoto Falls in Desoto (AL) State Park

3 p.m. (mile 71)--entered Georgia.

3:00 p.m. (mile 71)

I bought a $2 spoon at the border so I had a GE purchase on the trip (no picture--its a spoon).  Very little of the rummage is actually in the state of Georgia.

I drove all the way through Georgia to Tennessee and Chattanooga where I lost the trail of the rummage sale.  I drove north to find Hwy. 127 and then backtracked into the city to sleep at a Holiday Inn Express.  I ate dinner at J. Gumbo which features NOLA food and music. 

Total miles:  155
Total miles this trip:  1,205
Total rummage purchases:  $62

Day Five:  Friday, August 5, 2016

After breakfast at the hotel I am up and at it at 9:00 a.m. (Eastern--so it does not appear I am sleeping in!)

I started the day by backtracking to the start of 127N so I can official begin the day on the official route. 

Today is another day of twisty roads with rapid elevation changes. At one point the rising right hand turn I was making gave me no choice but to gun the van around the blind turn with me screaming like a school girl.

10:45 a.m. (mile 9)
$11--pitch fork, tray, guitar

11:30 a,m, mile 10
$21--surveyor's box with equipment and a stove plate

I was walking through this flea market wearing my "IRELAND" t-shirt with one small Celtic symbol on the front.  A young man said to me, "Hey, I like your shirt,". After thanking him, he asked me, "What does it say?". I said, "Ireland." He said, "What's that?"  Hmmmm...

1:00 p.m.  (mile 15)
$40--deer skull, plaster rabbit, wood box, frames (4) and old pictures (3)

I stopped at a lunch wagon called the Urban Diner and the guy inside yelled out from the grill, "Hey, Ireland--what do you want?" I am not sure if I should change my shirt or not.

1:45 p.m.  (mile 22)
$20--wood folding chairs (2), lamp part, wood trims (4)

2:00 p.m. (mile 30)
Diverted to a barn sale whose signs promised much but the sale delivered very little.  Some small girls tried to get me to give them money to see "The World's Smallest Pig" but I declined.

3:00 p.m.  (mile 38--Dunlap, TN)
$0--a tried to buy to small glass vials from a guy but he insisted I take them for free!

4:00 p.m. (mile 45)
$40--Bach, Beethoven, and three drugs supply advertising constructions (hand, foot and head)

4:45 p.m.  (mile 88)
$25--a 5 ft. cedar board and a bag of wood trim pieces

5:00 p.m. (mile 95)
I decided to call it an early night.  The heat must be getting to me.  I chose to stay at a Baymont Inn south of Jamestown--the historical first city to do the 127 and leave that for tomorrow.  I ate a steak at the Las Vegas Steakhouse.

Total miles:  95
Total miles for the trip:  1,300
Total purchases:  $157 plus two freebies
Total purchases for the trip:  $219

Day Six:  Saturday, August 6, 2016

I was up and on the road by 7:00 a.m.  I have not mentioned this before but during the 127 I am surprised to find most of the booths are still covered until after 8:00 a.m.  I am use to the flea market timing from home where booths open at dawn and everyone is packing up very early in the afternoon.
9:00 a.m. (mile 40)
$35--a photo album with cabinet cards and tin types, drawer pulls (3) and a wood box

The last thing I need is more cabinet cards and tin types but I could not pass up this collection of very high quality images for only $25--plus I can use the clip from the album to make a book.

9:30 a.m. (mile 55)
Here is where I enter Kentucky on the 127.

10:30 a.m. (mile 65)
$5--cigar box, padlock, scraper and a stove plate

11:00 a.m. (mile 80)
$9--book, brass bowl and clam

Noon (mile 95)
$3--sleeping doll and a wood screen

1:30 (mile 110)
Fate is kind of funny on a trip like this.  Because the goal is to make the entire route I have to be very picky about where I stop.  For whatever reason I saw a lot of cars at this place so I stopped at what turned out to be a Mennonite farm (now occupied by modernized Mennonites and Amish).  Denice and I just had our driveway done and we were looking for wagon wheels to use in a mosaic along side the drive.

$130--two Mennonite wood buggy wheels for the garden

3:00 (mile 150)
$1-rubber hand

4:30 (mile 210)
$4--Pillsbury Dough Boy

4:45 p.m. (mile 215)
South of Owenton, KY, I found a cemetery that I could not pass up.

6:30 p.m. (mile 265)
Here I crossed into Ohio at the Cincinnati River where their two professional sports stadiums are located.  I did not see any signage to help and made the decision to go right instead of left and lost the 127,  I jumped on 75N.

7:00 p.m. (mile 285)
I checked into a Quality Inn in West Chester, OH, for the night.  Supper was at a restaurant that advertised itself as the home of the Big Boy but I was underwhelmed by this modern version of the classic burger.

Total miles today = 285
Total miles for the trip = 1585
Total purchases today = $187
Total purchases for the trip = $406

Sunday, August 7, 2016

I was up and on the road by 6:15 a.m. (Central) time today.  I made the decision to finish the route and get home today.  I backtracked on 275S to find the 127.

8:00 a.m. (mile 50)
$7--box, Better Homes and Gardens magazines (3), tiny Dutch shoes, bottle and a tin

8:30 a.m. (mile 55)
$10--4 books, a mannequin hand, frozen Charlotte like doll, frames (2), and a bag of metal junk

9:30 a.m. (mile 85)
I don't care what your agenda is for the day--if you see a sign that says "Annie Oakley Gravesite" you need to turn.  This is Brook Cemetery south of North Star, Ohio.

10:15 a.m. (mile 100)
$5--butterfly wings (5), trivet, metal tag and a wood box I could not open but it has something inside!!!!!

At mile 125 the 127 was detoured onto another road by road construction.  Amazingly, the detour route had some rummage sales on it before we were diverted back to the 127.

Noon (mile 165)
$49--books (2), motorcycle headlamps (2), boxes (2)

1:00 p.m. (mile 205)
Here is where I crossed into Michigan with the intention of getting to Hudson (which at the time I thought was the "official" end of the trip, buy something and get out of Dodge.  At this point in the trip, rummage sales are sparse and there are no flea markets along side the road.  In the defense of some of these communities, throughout the whole 600+ miles of the 127 I did see signs indicating that the focus was going to be Friday and Saturday.  I did not end up buying anything in Michigan to my disappointment.

1:15 p.m. (mile 215)
I reached Hudson, Michigan.

Here is where I turned to home.

7:30 p.m. (mile 505)

Total miles today = 505
Total miles for the trip = 2,090
Total purchases today = $71
Total purchases for the trip = $477