Monday, March 31, 2008


For some recent years, various branches of the scientific discipline have been not only making history but investigating it at first hand by means of the core sample. With a device similar to a drill, scientists are able to dig deeply into some point on the earth--including ocean floors--there to extract a segment of information to which accurate measurements may be applied. Core samplings show layers of sedimentary deposit, layers of lava, even such tidbits as pollen and seed samples. Thus they are able to tell who lived when, what they ate, which continents were at one time connected, what the weather may have been like, and what areas were once under water. Such indexes as tree-ring dating, enamel on teeth, even mummified human remains, and conditions of camp sites and butchering sites emerge as crude in comparison to the technologies for dating, measuring, and analysis.

This technology applies to the tangible and the sense that is to be made of it. I propose here a different type of core sampling, a cultural core, a generational core. Accordingly, here and no doubt in entries to follow, a core sampling of my generation, replete with icons of the blessed and the damned, the things worth saving and the things we could have done with out even though in actual practice, they too contributed to our evolution and contributed to us, all of us, being what we are on the last day of the third month of 2008 of The Common Era.

Here, in no particular order, are the layers of a generational core sampling:

Take the A Train, by Edward Kennedy Ellington and Billy Strayhorn.

Frenisi by Artie Shaw.

June Allison, in the bio-pic Words and Music, singing Thou Swell by Rogers and Hart.

C stickers on windshields of civilian automobiles during World War II, denoting gas rationing.

Porgy and Bess by George Gershwin and DuBoise Heyward.

Any lyric by Lorenz Hart, notably My Funny Valentine, and Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered, but not to forget Ten Cents a Dance, and the gritty, evocative Zip, a song sung by a stripper as she divests herself of her clothing.

Concerto in F by George Gershwin.

Over the Rainbow by E. Y. "Yip" Harburg.

Jess Stacy's piano solo on Sing, Sing, Sing, at the 1937 Carnegie Hall concert featuring the Benny Goodman band.

Nat Cole's 1949 piano solo on Body and Soul at the 1949 Shrine Auditorium Jazz at the Philharmonic concert.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.

How to Write a Short Story by Rheingold "Ring" Lardner.

The John O'Hara short stories in The New Yorker.

The John Cheever short stories in The New Yorker.

White Castle hamburgers.

The Andrews Sisters, Maxine, Patti, and LaVerne.

John Coltrane's soprano sax solo on My Favorite Things.
Charlie Parker' changes on Back Home Again in Indiana, rendering it as Donna Lee.

Silent Spring
by Rachel Carson.

Doris Day, before she became a virgin, singing Sentimentl Journey with the Les Brown band.

Miles Dewey Davis.

Joe DiMaggio.

Thurgood Marshall, associate justice, United States Supreme Court when that body stood for something.

The Douglas DC-3.

The Heathkit.

Quaker Oats.

The Saturday Evening Post.

The Saturday Review of Literature.

Lux Radio Theater.

The Green Hornet.

Krazy Kat.

The Lone Ranger.

Isaac Sidney "Sid" Cesar, and Your Show of Shows.

Fibber McGee and Molly.

George Burns and Gracie Allen.

Train leaving on track five for Anaheim, Azusa, and Cuckamonga.

I'm thinking...I'm thinking. (Jack Benny)

Fred Allen and Portland Hoffa.

William Randolph Hearst.

Julia Morgan.

Burma-Shave signs.

Drive-in restaurants.

Drive-in movies.

Deanna Durbin.

Margaret O'Brien.

John Garfield.


Somerset Maugham.

Sid Grauman's Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard.

The Holland Tunnel.

Hire's Root Beer.

Orange Julius.

Walter Winchell.

Herb Caen.

Marianne Moore.

Henry Miller.

Gloria Swanson.

Mars bars.

Necco Wafers.

Penny candy.

Three Musketeers.


Coca-cola original bottles.


Webber's Bread.

Wonder Bread.

Red Ryder.

Prince Valiant.

The Mills Brothers.

Amos and Andy.

The Super Chief.

Edmund Wilson.

F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Bob's Big Boy.

1 comment:

Lori Witzel said...

Love the conceit -- some of them are still warm (as if pulled from active geothermal zones) while others have cooled but are no less of interest.

There are rafts of scientists who'd need even deeper chill -- and a less melody-infused one -- to get excited about a core sample: