Durham put him ‘In a Sentimental Mood’

“We had played a big dance in a tobacco warehouse, and afterwards a friend of mine, an executive in the North Carolina Mutual Insurance Company [treasurer Edward Merrick], threw a party for us [at the N.C. Mutual Building in Durham].

“I was playing piano when another one of our friends had some trouble with two chicks. To pacify them, I composed this there and then, with one chick standing on each side of the piano.”

— Duke Ellington, as quoted by Stanley Dance in his liner notes to “The Ellington Era, 1927-1940, Vol. 2″

According to jazzstandards.com, ” ‘In a Sentimental Mood’ enjoyed a wave of popularity in the 1930s…. [It] was the theme song for no less than nine radio shows.”

Pictured: celluloid watch fob with image of N.C. Mutual Building.


Errol Morris tackles the Jeffrey MacDonald case

But as wily as [Errol] Morris is, I was worried when he told me about his latest obsession: the Jeffrey MacDonald murder case. ‘Oh my God, no,’ was my measured reaction, ‘Not that!’

For the past four decades the MacDonald affair has been a toxic swamp that has drawn in some of journalism’s best and brightest writers.

‘Yes, that,’ Morris replied, telling me that MacDonald is the subject of his next book, titled A Wilderness of Error. In fact, he said, the book is the culmination of 20 years of fascination with the case, going back to a time in the early ’90s when Morris and his wife visited wig shops in Fayetteville, North Carolina, to investigate the wig-fiber evidence at the MacDonald crime scene. He is not a MacDonald partisan in that he doesn’t necessarily believe prosecutorial errors are proof of innocence, rather evidence of uncertainty.

If Errol Morris is that excited about the MacDonald case, it’s a sign we can’t say ‘Case closed.’

-from “Errol Morris: The Thinking Man’s Detective,” by Ron Rosenbaum. In the March 2012 issue of Smithsonian magazine. As a documentary filmmaker Errol Morris has focused his camera on former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, physicist Stephen Hawking and Texas death row inmate Randall Adams. His book on Jeffrey MacDonald is slated for publication in August.

Robert Frost at UNC: ‘hard-headed, statesmanlike’

On  this day in 1943: The Charlotte Observer editorializes about poetry and war:

“One would hardly expect a poet to deliver himself of hard-headed statesmanlike utterances. A poet is often busy elsewhere. He’s gazing in the brook or at the stars, busy with sonnet, ballad and roundelay. But Robert Frost, an American poet, speaking at the University of North Carolina, dealt in common sense. He thinks Americans are expecting too many drastic changes in internationalism after the war.

” ‘Our concern right now is to win the war,’ he said. ‘Then the developments we hope for will come about naturally.’

“Many of the scientists, engineers and others who are supposed to deal only in realities might well ponder this. Instead they are dreaming of Utopia on a worldwide scale, starting the day after the war ends. The war, they think, will somehow win itself. It won’t.

“When America and her allies have defeated the devil nations, there will be time to rebuild the world, but that will have to come, as Mr. Frost says, naturally.”


Asheville boom was bust for Henry Miller

“[At age 34, Henry Miller] persuaded [his wife June] to accompany him  to Asheville, North Carolina, in the spring of 1926. He wanted to go there as a stopping-off place, to take advantage of its reputed real estate boom, and then continue on to Taos, New Mexico, to be near D. H. Lawrence, whose novels he had admired. He didn’t know Lawrence had already left and settled in Italy.

“The opportunities in real estate in Asheville were open only to insiders. June and Henry were once again flat broke, and although June concocted a scheme for beginning a fine hosiery business for ladies and touring the South with her wares, there was no practical solution to their financial straits.

“The formula for writing successful pulp fiction still eluded him, and his heart wasn’t in it, anyhow. They ran up debts for rent and food  in Asheville that they had no way of paying. At the end of summer, like stealthy thieves, they hitchhiked out of Asheville in the dark of night.”

— From “Passionate Lives: D.H. Lawrence, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry Miller, Dylan Thomas, Sylvia Plath … in love” by John Tytell (1995)




‘As this boy overtakes other vehicles, this brand….’

Wandering the web in search of North Caroliniana:

— How about a Motor Cop peach?

— From Wilmington Iron Works: wooden mold for a steamship bollard

Not old but old school

Cast iron spitoon that easily outlasted its era

— Signers of Declaration immortalized on cigar box labels: Hooper and Hewes



Need a quick fix around the house? Checkout these household hints and kitchen tips.

From Auntie’s Cook Book: Favorite Recipes

From AsheVittles: Favorite Recipes from Asheville, North Carolina

From The Cane Creek Cookbook

These cookbooks and more can be found in the online catalog and are available for use in the North Carolina Collection.

When Charlotte met Jimi: Not quite love at first sight

The death of Davy Jones reminded me of the Monkees’ most unlikely 1967 tour, which included stops in Charlotte and Greensboro.

On July 11 a sellout crowd of teens and preteens at the Charlotte Coliseum, primed for the latest pop phenoms, booed the little-known opening act off the stage. (A year later the Jimi Hendrix Experience was back, this time of course as headliner.)

“The Monkees wanted respect,” the New York Times observed later, “and Hendrix wanted publicity.”