“Wild Thing,” Yonkers, and Angelina’s uncle….

I thought I knew every bit of trivia there was to know about my old hometown of Yonkers, New York. Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti was born there. So was Ella Fitzgerald. So was Steven Tyler of Aerosmith. Son of Sam lived there. So did the great jazz drummer Gene Krupa.

But holy friggin’ God — I had no idea that Chip Taylor, the guy who wrote “Wild Thing,” grew up in my old neighborhood, off Lockwood Avenue near the Saw Mill River Parkway! What’s more, I didn’t know that he also wrote the great song “Angel of the Morning,” which was a big hit in the late 1960s for Merrilee Rush and the Turnabouts!

OK, I knew that Angelina Jolie’s father, the actor Jon Voight, grew up in Yonkers. But I had no clue that Jon Voight is Chip Taylor’s brother, and that they grew up on Ball Avenue — about 15 years before moved to that neighborhood with my parents — just a few blocks from where my mother still lives and where I lived from age 11 until I went off to college.

I’m stunned. Learning this today….well, it just made everything grooooooovy!

Here’s Merrilee Rush singing “Angel of the Morning:”

Here are The Troggs doing “Wild Thing:”

Here’s Jimi Hendrix doing “Wild Thing:”

And here’s Chip Taylor himself doing a song he wrote, titled “Yonkers, NY,” in which he refers to several landmarks and touchstones of my childhood and adolescence in that city — including the old Getty Square business district (where my parents met, at age 15, at a movie theater where my young father was working as an usher); the Herald Statesman newspaper (which I delivered for about four years when I was a paperboy) and Roosevelt High (where I graduated — and did my first creative writing, in Mrs. Diven’s creative writing class for the literary magazine Reflections).


I Don’t Want Your Millions, Mister

It’s so outrageous that it’s almost beyond outrage.

A TV commercial for the tax-return outfit Jackson-Hewitt features a soundtrack of “I’ve Been Workin’ on the Railroad” — sung by the late, great Pete Seeger.

It’s an old-late 1950/early 1960s Smithsonian Folkway, recording so I’m assuming that Pete’s family has no control over how it’s used. And his performance is from the late 1950/early 1960s vintage Smithsonian Folkways recordings, so perhaps those recordings are now also beyond the reach of copyright protections. .

Doesn’t matter. Pete Seeger would never, ever allow his voice to be used for a TV commercial unless it was to promote a cause.

I hope the Seeger family will demand that Jackson-Hewitt pull the commercial — or at least change the soundtrack. And I’d suggest asking — or demanding — that the tax-preparation firm makes a big donation to Pete’s beloved Clearwater Foundation.

Before he performed solo, of course, Pete Seeger was a member of the legendary group The Weavers. Before that, Pete — along with his pal Woody Guthrie — was a member of the Almanac Singers. Here they are singing an appropriate song:

The Worst Video Ever?

I post this video without comment…Well, OK, with just two comments:

1) This video by someone named Mark Gormley may be the worst video ever.

2) When I watch this video, all I want to do is shout out to the girl, “Run for your life! Get off the beach! That creepy guy Mark Gormley with the high-pitched voice is heading toward the beach! Run!”

Looking down Sixth Avenue in Greenwich Village

Nicholas DiGiovanni:

I love this painting of Sixth Avenue and the Jefferson Street Market. The former prison had been converted to a library by the time I moved to Chelsea after graduating from college. This great old structure was my local library branch!

Originally posted on Ephemeral New York:

Sixth Avenue at West 10th Street looks about the same today, right? Well, except for the notorious women’s prison building hiding behind the Jefferson Market Courthouse turned Library.


Walter Brightwell painted this scene, according to Artnet, naming it “Looking Down Sixth Avenue Towards the Jefferson Market Library Building.”

The painting looks like it was done in the 1940s, but interestingly, Jefferson Market didn’t became a NYPL library branch until the 1960s.

View original