Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Fall River Now and Then

Lizzie Borden Started It: The news today is bad all over. Abq Jew wrote that line in December 2013 (see A Song for the Right), and it's still true today. In fact, it may be truer today than it was then.

Nevertheless. It is the week of Purim, the Feast of Lots. The holiday upon which we Jews are commanded to rejoice. To excess. In happy, topsy-turvy remembrance of the Big Battle We Jews Won.

So here is a picture of -

Beto O'Rourke Does the Hokey-Pokey

There, now. Does that cheer you up a little bit? How about this -

April the Giraffe and Her New Baby

But Abq Jew digresses.

In addition to all the sad stuff - of which there was lots - there is also this story, which (some may claim) could only have happened in Fall River, MA.

Mayor Jasiel F. Correia II of Fall River, Mass., defended himself after
he was indicted last year on charges that he defrauded investors and filed
false tax returns.   
David Souza/The Herald News, via Associated Press

Mayor of Fall River Is Ousted and Re-elected at the Same Time

By Jacey Fortin       March 13, 2019 
In a special election on Tuesday, residents of Fall River, Mass., voted their mayor out of office. But they also voted him back in, by a small plurality — on the same ballot. 
It was an odd and somewhat confusing turn of events for Fall River, an old mill city in southeastern Massachusetts. 
Mayor Jasiel F. Correia II, 27, a Democrat serving his second two-year term, was charged last year with 13 criminal counts of wire fraud and filing false tax returns. He has denied the charges, but the City Council called for him to resign. He refused, setting the gears in motion for Tuesday’s recall election. 
On Tuesday, 7,829 residents voted to recall Mr. Correia, and 4,911 voted to keep him in office, according to the city’s Election Commission. 
But on the same ballot, voters were asked to choose among five people for the mayor’s job. Mr. Correia’s name was included. There, he won a plurality, with about 35 percent of voters voting for Mr. Correia.
“We’re going to keep trying to earn people’s votes — earn their trust, earn their votes by doing good things for our community like you’ve seen us do,” Mr. Correia said to reporters after the results were announced on Tuesday evening. 

Oh, ye of few years - do you think we, as a nation, have never gone through such trying times before? Well, Abq Jew assures you - we have.

Before France was divided by the Dreyfus Affair, America was divided by ... what was that other thing that happened in Fall River, MA? Oh yeah -

Lizzie Borden Took An Axe

Or (perhaps) not. In case you are unfamiliar with the legend, Wikipedia tells us:
Lizzie Andrew Borden (July 19, 1860 – June 1, 1927) was an American woman who garnered notoriety as the main suspect in the August 4, 1892 axe murders of her father and stepmother in Fall River, Massachusetts. Borden was tried and acquitted of the murders.

The case was a cause célèbre and received widespread newspaper coverage throughout the United States. Following her release from jail, where she was held during the trial, Borden chose to remain a resident of Fall River despite facing ostracism from the other residents. 
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts elected not to charge anyone else with the murder of Andrew and Abby Borden. 
Even though the crimes occurred 126 years ago, speculation about the crimes still continues. She spent the remainder of her life in Fall River before dying of pneumonia, aged 66, just days before the death of her sister, Emma.

Borden and her association with the murders has remained a topic in American popular culture mythology into the 21st century, and she has been depicted in various films, theatrical productions, literary works, and folk rhymes.
But the world will little note, nor long remember, what Abq Jew says here. While it can never forget what the Chad Mitchell Trio sings here.

Wikipedia tells us about the Chad Mitchell Trio:
The Chad Mitchell Trio - also known as the Mitchell Trio [when John Denver was a member] - were a North American vocal group who became known during the 1960s. 
They performed folk songs, some of which were traditionally passed down and some of their own compositions. Unlike many fellow folk music groups, none of the trio played instruments. 
They became popular in some quarters, and were particularly notable for performing satirical songs that criticized current events during the time of the cold war, the civil rights movement, and the Vietnam War, in a less subtle way than the typical folk music and singer-songwriter musicians of their time.
And here is, from the Trio's album Mighty Day on Campus - Lizzie Borden!

The delightfully biting lyrics were written by Michael Brown (who also wrote the lyrics to another Trio hit, The John Birch Society).

Now, did those marvelous lyrics just whiz by too fast for you? Have no fear - Abq Jew has you covered!
Ballad of Lizzie Borden
Yesterday in old Fall River
Mr. Andrew Borden died
And he got his daughter, Lizzie
On a charge of homicide
Some folks say she didn't do it
And others say of course she did
But they all agree, Miss Lizzie B
Was a problem kinda kid 
'Cause you can't chop your
Papa up in Massachusetts
Not even if it's planned
As a surprise (a surprise)
No, you can't chop your
Papa up in Massachusetts
You know how neighbors love to criticize 
Well, she got him on the sofa
Where he'd gone to take a snooze
And I hope he went to Heaven
'Cause he wasn't wearing shoes
Lizzie kinda rearranged him
With a hatchet so they say
Then she got her mother
In that same old fashioned way 
But you can't chop your
Mama up in Massachusetts
Not even if you're tired of
Her cuisine (her cuisine)
No can't chop your mama up in Massachusetts
You know it's almost sure to cause a scene 
Well, they really kept her
Hopping on that busy afternoon
With both down and upstairs chopping
While she hummed a ragtime tune
They really made her hustle
And when all was said and done
She'd removed her mother's bustle
When she wasn't wearing one 
Now can't chop your
Mama up in Massachusetts
And then blame all the damage
On the mice (on the mice)
No, you can't chop your
Mama up in Massachusetts
That sort of thing just isn't very nice 
Now it wasn't done for pleasure
And it wasn't done for spite
And it wasn't done because
The lady wasn't very bright
She'd always done the slightest thing
That mom and papa bid
They said, Lizzie, cut it out
So that's exactly what she did 
But you can't chop your
Papa up in Massachusetts
And then get dressed
And go out for a walk
No, you can't chop your
Papa up in Massachusetts
Massachusetts is a far cry
From New York 
You can't chop your
Papa up in Massachusetts
Shut the door and lock and latch it
Here comes Lizzie with a brand new hatchet 
You can't chop your
Papa up in Massachusetts
Such a snob I've heard it said
She met her pa and cut him dead 
You can't chop your
Papa up in Massachusetts
Jump like a fish
Jump like a porpoise
All join hands and habeas corpus 
You can't chop your
Papa up in Massachusetts
Massachusetts is a far cry
From New York 
Songwriter: M. Brown
Lizzie Borden lyrics © Hill & Range Songs
Michael Brown in New York City, 2012

Don't know much about Michael Brown? Neither did Abq Jew. So Wikipedia tells us:
Michael Brown (14 December 1920 – 11 June 2014) was an American composer, lyricist, writer, director, producer, and performer. 
He was born in Mexia, Texas. His musical career began in New York cabaret, performing first at Le Ruban Bleu. 
In the 1960s, he was a producer of industrial musicals for major American corporations such as J.C. Penney and DuPont. 
Several of his songs have entered the American repertoire, including "Lizzie Borden" and "The John Birch Society," which were popularized by the Chad Mitchell Trio. 
Children know him best as the author of three Christmas books about Santa’s helper, Santa Mouse.
Michael Brown in 1977. He and his wife, Joy, gave Harper Lee
financial support while she wrote “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

But here is Abq Jew's favorite Michael Brown story - and it will likely become yours, too. From the wonderful 2014 obituary that Margalit Fox wrote for The New York Times:
It was the modest windfall from ... an industrial show — a musical fashion show for Esquire magazine in the fall of 1956, Joy Brown recalled last week — that let Mr. Brown and his wife help usher “To Kill a Mockingbird” into being. 
The Browns had met Ms. [Harper] Lee through her friend Truman Capote. Mr. Brown had contributed lyrics to a song in the 1954 Broadway musical “House of Flowers,” with a book by Mr. Capote and music by Harold Arlen. 
By 1956, Ms. Lee, an Alabama native, was living in New York. Her longed-for career as a writer was stymied by the need to pay the rent, and she was toiling away as an airline reservations clerk. 
That Christmas, visiting the Browns, she spied an envelope with her name on it in the branches of their tree. 
I opened it and read: 
You have one year off from your job to write whatever you please. Merry Christmas.
Ms. Lee recalled in a 1961 essay in McCall’s magazine in which she did not identify the Browns by name. 
“It’s a fantastic gamble,” Ms. Lee, in the words of her essay, told Mr. Brown. “It’s such a great risk.”

So here is the message for this Purim:

Who knows if you have not been placed
where you are now - wherever that may be -
simply to help others? 
Outside, snow was falling, an odd event for a New York Christmas. I went to the window, stunned by the day’s miracle. Christmas trees blurred softly across the street, and firelight made the children’s shadows dance on the wall beside me. 
A full, fair chance for a new life. Not given me by an act of generosity, but by an act of love. Our faith in you was really all I had heard them say. I would do my best not to fail them. 
Snow still fell on the pavement below. Brownstone roofs gradually whitened. Lights in distant skyscrapers shone with yellow symbols of a road’s lonely end, and as I stood at the window, looking at the lights and the snow, the ache of an old memory left me forever.

Alas, there is a postscript to the Fall River saga. 

Once again, the "Make It Here" city about 50 miles south of Boston is in the news. And not for a good reason. No news for more than a century, and then twice in one week?  CBS Boston (et al) reports that

59 Gravesites At Fall River Jewish Cemetery Hit By Anti-Semitic Vandals 
FALL RIVER (CBS) –  Widespread vandalism at a Jewish cemetery in Fall River is being treated as a hate crime, police said Tuesday. 
Fifty-nine gravesites were targeted at the Hebrew Cemetery on McMahon Street sometime over the weekend before the damage was discovered by a groundskeeper. 
Two headstones were pushed over and the rest were desecrated with anti-Semitic language in black marker. Some graffiti referenced Hitler. One of the messages read “This is MAGA country,” apparently referring to President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan.

And yet. It's Purim!

Here is a photo of Major Deegan. The calf, newly named, escaped from a slaughterhouse and was apprehended by the authorities on the Major Deegan Expressway (in the Bronx) on Tuesday. The calf is now at an Animal Care Centers facility in Harlem. Note: This is not Devin Nunes' cow.

Note: This is a photo of Devin Nunes' cow (@DevinCow). As Dana Milbank gleefully reports in The Washington Post:
Devin Nunes is having a cow 
It is rare that a leader takes the bull by the horns and corrals support for a cause in which all Americans have a steak. 
I’m not referring to Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang’s cutting-edge decision to oppose circumcision, though voters may reward his foresight in defense of foreskin. 
No, today I celebrate Rep. Devin Nunes of California, top Republican on the Intelligence Committee and close Trump ally, who has just shown the world that he has the chops to sue a cow
Not just any cow: Nunes’s defamation lawsuit names his own cow — “Devin Nunes’ cow” is its name on Twitter — and a couple of other Twitter users, as well as Twitter itself, seeking $250 million in compensation because mean things were said about him on Twitter. 
Nunes tells Sean Hannity this is “the first of many” lawsuits to come ....

There. That's better.

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