Saturday, May 31, 2014

All's Fair

Hey, did I see you at the fair? If it was the WFMU Record Fair, you probably did. I spent too much money, took not enough pictures, and drank no Chelada whatsoever (because they had the decency not to serve it this year)...but I had a great time and caught up with (and bought a few records from) a couple folks I haven't seen in a while.

I'll say one thing about the money, though: a lot of it was for a good cause. More than one, actually. First, of course, is WFMU. They're the coolest listener-supported freeform radio station in town, don'cha know, and they had loads of $1 LPs, several classes of CDs, and their own compilations (including one of guest appearances from a show a friend of mine hosts)...not to mention tons of swag and a prize wheel you could spin for a buck. All proceeds go right to the station.

The other good cause is this li'l ol' blog right here. I got plenty of blogger fodder for you to marvel at, and little by little you'll see some of it. You might even hear some. So even if you can't go today, you can get a taste for what's there.

The 69th Regiment Armory at 26th/Lexington is the new place for the fair. Right across from it on Lexington Ave. is what must be one of the smallest Popeyes in existence. They could've gotten away with calling it Olive Oyl's. It doesn't even have a bathroom, it's so small. Yet somehow despite that little oversight, it gets an A from the health department. Try the chicken & waffle tenders. But bring your own Purell.

You know what else I got?

Shirt love.

Two people asked to take a picture of my shirt. If you were there and  missed your chance, I'll save you the trouble of asking. Pardon the mug - I didn't feel like cropping my head off...and selfies are hard. Besides, I needed a new facebook profile pic, and this was a quick-n-dirty way to get one.

If you want the shirt...make your record store print its own. They could use the publicity. Or see if CafePress has one like it.

Next best thing, of course, is to pick from the variety of shirts WFMU offers. Like I said, there's still time. And there's still a lot of music to discover in the coolest way possible.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Fair Warning

Attention, east-coast record hunters: your favorite freeform radio station, WFMU, is having its world-famous (what? Well, it SHOULD be, dammit!) record fair this weekend.

One big thing to note is that it's moved from the Metropolitan Pavilion to the 69th Regiment Armory at 26th/Lexington in Manhattan.

If you haven't been there before, change some plans around so you can make it. It's huge. I'm talking literally millions of records from literally every genre, tens of thousands of CDs, and a whole lot of fun. WFMU DJs will be doing their shows live there, and others will be DJing just for you lucky showgoers. There might even be other things going on, too.

$7 a day Friday, Saturday and Sunday; or if you're a die-hard, $25 for the entire weekend with early pre-fair admission on Friday afternoon and unlimited admission all weekend.

Get the full scoop direct from the source. Maybe I'll see you there!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

All The World's A Fair

I apologize. I was away this week and preparations for the trip kept me from being as timely as I'd have liked with this post. But as it turns out, being away had a benefit. You'll see why soon.

The World's Fair. A showcase of the best that the present and the future had to offer. The Eiffel Tower was unveiled at the 1889 fair in Paris. The 1898 fair in Chicago introduced us to the Ferris wheel. 1939's fair in New York gave us television. The Space Needle stands as a lasting reminder of the 1962 World's Fair in Seattle.

And then there was the 1964/65 World's Fair. Flushing Meadows Park in Queens, NY played host, just as it did for the fair 25 years earlier. Only this wasn't a real world's fair.

Robert Moses, New York's City's Master Builder, helmed the corporation in charge of the fair. He realized that the 1939 World's Fair lost serious money and he hoped to remedy that for 1964. In doing so, he charged the exhibitors rent - a huge no-no per the sanctioning body of the fair, the Bureau of International Expositions. Moses also made the decision to run the fair for two six-month seasons instead of just one, based on calculations that 70 million visitors would be required for the fair to be profitable. Strike two. Not to mention, the BIE had a rule that there could only be one universal exhibition in a 10-year period. With Montreal's Expo 67 already set to open, the New York World's Fair was not it. The BIE refused to recognize this fair and formally requested nations not to attend. The UK, Canada and Australia were among many who took the BIE's advice and sat out. Despite it all, Moses plowed ahead and opened the fair on April 21, 1964.

The visitors, all 51 million of them, got a tantalizing taste of tomorrow. AT&T (aka The Bell System) showed their Videophone. GE exhibited the Carousel Of Progress, a rotating display of America's technological progress imagineered by Disney. Speaking of Disney, they also did the work on Ford's Wonder Rotunda and Magic Skyway, which by all accounts was at least as good as GM's competing Futurama exhibit. And US Steel showed off the symbol of the fair, the Unishphere: the 120-foot, 700,000-pound marvel of engineering made entirely of stainless steel.

No doubt there were pleny of souvenirs. Among them: this album. The 1964/65 World's Fair may not have been official, but it did have an official album. Supposedly. For such a forward-looking fair, this album sure sounds old-timey. It really doesn't have a lot to do with the fair, either. The Little Old New Yorkers, with backing help from The Phil Romano Orchestra, look back to the past with staples like Give My Regards To Broadway, Lullaby Of Broadway and Chinatown My Chinatown. But there are these two originals, done "in the marching band style of the twenties combined with the modern."

Here's the title track, Take Me To New York, Take Me To The Fair:

And the closer, Queen Of The New York World's Fair:

Wild Bill Davison plays cornet...and record label owner. The album's on his Davison Records label. Al Davis, Jr. narrates...and as you'll hear on the first track, not all that well.

A better known (and probably much more official) World's Fair album is this one, which I discovered a sealed copy of while I was away:

Ferde Grofe was commissioned by Robert Moses to compose an official symphony. As Grofe said in the liner notes, It was a challenge: "Here was steel and concrete, nation after nation, a whole constellation of industries, entertainment as well as education - patterns upon patterns. Where to start?...the challenge appeared to be a big one!"

As with the fair itself, the World's Fair Suite is divided into five parts: Unisphere; International, with the Western nations represented by major chords and Eastern nations by minor chords; Fun At The Fair, a lighthearted musical frolic; Pavilions Of Industry, an ode to "both the productivity and promise of a better man-made world;" and National, which reprises the fanfare of Unisphere and its echo of the Fair's message of Peace Through Understanding.

The Suite made its debut at the opening of the Fair with Paul Lavalle as conductor. He's conductor on this album as well. Here's the first movement, Unishpere:

The 1964/65 New York World's Fair Site