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Bob Dylan’s Theme Time Radio Hour

A while back my friend Alastair gave me a couple of discs containing just about all the Bob Dylan Theme Time Radio Hour shows up to that point. I downloaded them all on to my MP3 gadget and often listen to them. I particularly enjoy listening to one on a trip to Glasgow in the car. The hour is then taken up with not only fantastic music spanning much of the twentieth century but also a wealth of comment and quirky information from the Bobmeister.

For instance yesterday on my way to Cambuslang I was treated to a show initially broadcast in January 2008 on the theme of walking. As well as music from Waylon Jennings, Fats Domino, Lou Reed, Jimmy Rogers, Count Baisie and others, (you can download the very show here ) Bob treated me to some fascinating information and two things in particular caught my ear.

Firstly he was talking about Murder Incorporated which was the name given by the FBI to the organised crime groups in the 1920′s to 1940′s responsible for 100′s of murders on behalf of the Mafia and Jewish crime groups. The hit men apparently had conditions of employment, holidays and a pension scheme! (or maybe that was Bob’s little joke). However the irony was that one of the founders of Murder Inc., Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegal was also one of its victims.

Ever wondered where the expression “jakey” came from? It is of course a derogatory term here in Scotland for a habitual irredeemable heavy drinker. I’d guess it came from another subject on the show I listened to. Jamaican ginger extract (known in the United States by the slang name Jake) was a late 19th century patent medicine that provided a convenient way to bypass Prohibition laws, since it contained between 70-80% ethanol by weight.

(From Wikipedia)

Jake was not itself dangerous, but the U.S. Treasury Department, which administered the Prohibition laws, recognized its potential as an illicit alcohol source and required changes in the solids content of jake to discourage drinking. The minimum requirement of ginger solids per cubic centimeter of alcohol resulted in a fluid that was extremely bitter and difficult to drink. Occasionally, Department of Agriculture inspectors would test shipments of jake by boiling the solution and weighing the remaining solid residue. In an effort to trick regulators, bootleggers replaced the ginger solids with a small amount of ginger and either castor oil or molasses.

A pair of amateur chemists and bootleggers, Harry Gross and Max Reisman, worked to develop an alternative adulterant that would pass the tests, but still be somewhat palatable. They settled on a plasticizer, tri-o-tolyl phosphate (also known as tri-ortho cresyl phosphate, TOCP, or Tricresyl phosphate), that was able to pass the Treasury Department’s tests but preserved jake’s drinkability. TOCP was originally thought to be non-toxic; however, it was later determined to be a neurotoxin that causes axonal damage to the nerve cells in the nervous system of human beings, especially those located in the spinal cord. The resulting type of paralysis is now referred to as organophosphate-induced delayed neuropathy (OPIDN).

In 1930, large numbers of jake users began to lose the use of their hands and feet. Some victims could walk, but they had no control over the muscles which would normally have enabled them to point their toes upward. Therefore, they would raise their feet high with the toes flopping downward, which would touch the pavement first followed by their heels. The toe first, heel second pattern made a distinctive “tap-click, tap-click” sound as they walked. This very peculiar gait became known as the jake walk and those afflicted were said to have jake leg, jake foot, or jake paralysis. Additionally, the calves of the legs would soften and hang down and the muscles between the thumbs and fingers would atrophy.

Within a few months, the TOCP-adulterated jake was identified as the cause of the paralysis and the contaminated jake was recovered, but it was too late for many victims. Some users recovered full or partial use of their limbs, but for most, the loss was permanent. The total number of victims was never accurately determined, but is frequently quoted as between 30,000 and 50,000. Many victims were immigrants to the United States and most were poor with little political or social influence. The victims received very little assistance, and aside from being the subject of a few blues songs recorded in the early 1930s (e.g. “Jake Walk Papa” by Asa Martin and “Jake Leg Blues” by the Mississippi Sheiks), they were almost completely forgotten.

Dylan played another record, Jake Walk Blues by the Allen Brothers.

If you’ve never heard a Bob Dylan Theme Time Radio Hour make the effort. There are complete shows and clips all over the internet.

They are a absolute joy.

The Times – They are a Chargin’!

Indeed I see Mr Murdoch’s newspaper is planning to charge readers for access to its online content. The charge of £1 per day or £2 for a weekly subscription means that this occasional reader will now rely on the BBC and countless other online services which are roughly £2 per week cheaper than that and Mr Murdoch can go forth and multiply I’ll have to factor in another charge to the household budget.

Mind you the quid may be worth it for the quality of their foreign correspondents in general and getting the right man to cover the right story in particular. For example this correspondent seems particularly well qualified to comment on his story.

Roger Boyes

Shame on you if you thought Roger Boyes was a made up name.

Saints and Sinners

I’ve always had a wee soft spot for St Mirren. When I was a kid and stayed at my granny’s in Paisley I’d often go and see them. In 1987 my mate Russell and I went to see their cup final victory over Dundee United and the following year we saw their European match against Hammarby* of Sweden where they got knocked out of the Cup Winners Cup** by a goal in the final minute.
*That game it turns out was in 1985
**It was in the UEFA Cup – otherwise the article is quite accurate!

By all accounts they played well at the League cup final against Rangers on Sunday. Their failure though to beat nine men must have had them thinking they’d missed a golden chance for a once in a generation shot at silverware.

Last night’s 4-0  Saints victory over Celtic was one of the most astonishing results I can remember in Scottish football. It was Celtic’s heaviest domestic defeat in 30 years and was surely the swansong for Tony Mowbray’s miserable tenure at the club. (check out this post from January 30th) If I’m right Celtic will be the sixth SPL club to change manager this season and would leave only four SPL clubs operating with the same manager they had this time last year.

Elsewhere Dundee United capitalised on their fine fightback against Rangers which earned them a cup replay. Their 1-0 victory earns them a semi final against Raith Rovers who in turn knocked both Aberdeen and Dundee out on their way to the semis.

The St Mirren and Dundee United victories are good for Scottish football and those of us outside the Old Firm farrago.

And talking of astonishing results, Ross County’s victory over Hibs to reach the other semi v Celtic was amazing too.

With what has happened over recent days it could be anybody’s cup.

I’m pretty certain it won’t be Tony Mowbray’s

Double Act

My thanks to Alastair.

Sons 2 Stenny 1

A vital three points for the Sons last night. I liked how the BBC report says that Dumbarton won against ten man Stenny as the home side were already 2-1 up at the time of the sending off

Paul Quinn’s effort was blocked by Ben Gordon as the visitors threatened early on but Chaplain netted the opener with a neat finish on half-time.

Stenny’s William Lyle levelled from 12 yards after being put through by Pat Scullion in the 65th minute. I thought there was a touch of offside about it but not many seemed to share that view.

Chaplain nets the winner from the spot

Lyle then fouled Chaplain in the area and the striker scored the resulting penalty.

Gary Thom was sent off late in the game for a needless and crazy lunge on Sons keeper Jan Vonacek.

Four points in four days takes the pressure off for a wee while.

A big match on Saturday for the visit of Peterhead, who also won last night, and Ken Fitlike on Saturday.

Another World (6)

Silly Punts

This is from the Scotsman and relates to the Edinburgh Tram fiasco.

Bookmakers have come up with a range of odds on a number of tram-related punts.

They were sparked into action after one disgruntled resident offered to place a four-figure sum on the tram works costing the city more than £900 million. He was offered reasonable odds of 6/4 though it is not known whether he has yet parted with the cash.

For anyone else fancying a bet, there are a range of sure things and less likely options on offer.

William Hill even offered a rate of 20/1 that the world-famous Sagrada Familia – the Barcelona church that was started in 1882 and will not be completed until at least 2026 – will be finished before the Capital’s tram project. The building is, of course, the work of world-famous architect Antoni Gaudi, who died after being run over by a tram in 1926.

Other possible flutters include 3/1 odds that the tram project will be scrapped; 2/1 odds that costs will exceed £1 billion and 6/4 on TIE chief executive, Richard Jeffrey, resigning before the year is out.

For those feeling more positive, the company also offered odds of 4/1 that the tram project would be completed on time and 25/1 on it sticking to the proposed budget of £545 million.

Speaking for William Hill, Graeme Sharpe, communications manager, said: “A letter from a local Edinburgh man encouraged us to look at the tram situation with regard to betting possibilities, and to consider whether we should open a full-scale betting market on it.”

He added that William Hill thought the odds were fair. He explained: “It would be a huge climbdown to scrap the whole project and you’d have to think it is unlikely, but certainly not impossible, so we gave it 3/1.

“Very few major civic projects ever stick to their original budgets – it would be more of a shock to most people if this one did manage to come in at under £1bn than if it did not.

“Reducing the size seems reasonable, and could well be the ideal compromise all round. And in regards to the Sagrada Familia, we think even the renowned and seemingly eternal Spanish cathedral construction, currently planned to end in 2026, could be finished before the Edinburgh tram project. But I doubt it, somehow.”

Now other betting businesses, such as Ladbrokes, have confirmed that they also will consider running similar bets – down the tram line.

Getting into the spirit of things, Mr Jeffrey said he would possibly be heading down to the bookies when the bets come into play.

He said: “I’d be interested to see all the odds available, and would perhaps consider putting a wager on. I wonder what the odds would be on the Evening News going a full week without a tram story.”

Tram project to be scrapped 3/1

• Costs to total more than £1 billion 2/1

• Chief executive Richard Jeffrey to resign before the year is over 6/4

• Full line will not be built 1/5

• The project will not be finished until 2015 2/1

• Sagrada Familia to be completed before the tram project 20/1

• Tram project to be completed on time 4/1

• Tram project to be completed to its budget of £545 million 25/1

Bore of the Year 2010 – Early Nominations

1) The General Election
2) The Cameron Pregnancy
3) The Papal Visit
4) The World Cup

Any other suggestions?

Baby Blue

How low can politics go?

Hoon, Hewitt and Byers? “We haven’t done anything wrong”

My arse!

If anyone thinks that it’s perfectly proper for an elected representative to charge a lobbying company £5k a day to use their influence then they clearly have a different definition of “nothing wrong” than most of us.

What a pair of scumbags Hoon and Hewitt are.

And then there’s the Camerons’ cynical ploy to up the media interest in them in the run up to the election happy and completely unexpected announcement that they are to be blessed with a happy event later in the year.

It’s time for that Steven Fry quote again. “Sometimes there just isn’t enough vomit in the world!”

Cardinal Sin

Which Cardinal wrote the following to every Roman Catholic Bishop in 2001 regarding allegations of sexual abuse within its ranks?

Charges were to be investigated “in the most secretive way … restrained by a perpetual silence … and everyone … is to observe the strictest secret which is commonly regarded as a secret of the Holy Office … under the penalty of excommunication.

Step forward Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger better known now as Pope Benedict XVI.

He was quoting from official Vatican policy on the matter drawn up in 1962.

I sincerely hope that the victims of systematic and cruel abuse by priests and nuns in Ireland will not be fooled by yesterday’s  pathetic “apology” issued by the pope. Using your skill and judgement click here and decide how sincere the apology might be.

And to think this guy is coming here in September to lecture us on morals and about living a good life and has had the temerity to have a go at the British government over equality legislation.

Pass the sick bag.

Say it ain’t so,Joe please, say it ain’t so
That’s not what I want to hear Joe
Ain’t I got a right to know
Say it ain’t so, Joe please, say it ain’t so
I’m sure they’re telling us lies Joe
Please tell us it ain’t so

They told us our hero has played his trump card
He doesn’t know how to go on
We’re clinging to his charm and determined smile
But the good old days are gone,

The image and the empire may be falling apart
The money has gotten scarce
One man’s word held the country together
But the truth is getting fierce

Say it ain’t so, Joe please, say it ain’t so
We pinned our hopes on you Joe
And they’re ruining our show

Edited to include this great version by Roger Daltrey:


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