Tag Archives: Josephine Baker

Unpacking The Writer ► Unpacking The Readers

If you’re relatively new to Not Now Silly, and/or my Unpacking The Writer series, let me hip you to one salient fact right now, so you don’t feel foolish from here on out: 

Long-time visitors are already clicking on every advert they can find on this page and the next. “Why?” you might ask. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Where my readers are from and the browsers they use? Wait! China?

Ready? Because this is the series in which I ask — either subtly or blatantly (and this month I’m going with blatant) — for you to help me pay for some of the costs of this blog by clicking on an advert, or 10. Believe me when I say the pennies I get from your clicks don’t quite cover the storage costs for all the images I use. So, if you’re reading, this you should be clicking that. It’s only fair.

Meanwhile, as I was prepping this blog post I took a glance at the latest Not Now Silly statistics. The Blogger platform doesn’t give me a whole lot of info about my readers, which is why I go over the little I do get like a Vodou bokor divining over freshly-killed chicken entrails. One stat that I find eminently fascinating is what search terms caused visitors to take the off ramp to my rest stop on the information highway. I check it regularly looking for surprises. Here’s today’s chart of search terms:

Because this screen grab was taken early in the day, that’s the only search term that brought a reader to my doorstep so far. The search terms are always truncated to around 40 characters, so there are times I’m forced to infer what these people were looking for. While I’ve written about Bob Marley, I doubt this inquisitive person was looking for anything that I could supply. The same can be said for Researcher #6 on the weekly list [below] who got here twice — or there are two guys (gals?) out there searching for exactly the same stuff:

While I believe in giving my readers what they want, I simply can’t fulfill every request

Googalizer results for “free video sex gay
negro black blog.” Who knew there were
that many people looking for Black gay porn?

I’m baffled that that string of words would bring someone here, as opposed to other web sites, far more on topic, on much busier thoroughfares on the information highway. These people must be really drilling down deep into the search results because when I plugged “free video sex gay negro black blog” into the Googalizer, Not Now Silly didn’t pop up until Page 9. You’d think they would have been satiated at the end of page one, doncha? And, just imagine their disappointment when they arrive here. [It occurs to me that using the search term in this paragraph is sure to bring more puzzled visitors, which are my favourite kind. And, I’ve probably just ensured that Not Now Silly ranks higher than Page 9 from here on in on THAT search term.] 

People who are searching Not Now Silly for something very specific are represented in the chart’s #1 position above. The truncated string ‘“coconut grove playhouse” (site:blogspo”‘ indicates that someone was searching this particular site for a very specific specific term, 5 different times. I sure hope it wasn’t a libel lawyer.

Drilling down into the monthly results brings a few surprises:

The monthly stats is where [allegedly] corrupt Miami Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff appears. That means someone has found there way here using that search term in the last month, but not within the last week. I hope it wasn’t a libel lawyer. That used to be a much more frequent search term, but I guess Sarnoff’s office got tired of checking. TO BE FAIR: I’ve not really written much about him lately. I wonder whether this mention will warrant a visit.

Meanwhile, the same Coconut Grove Playhouse search from the weekly chart is also on the monthly, which means it’s more than a week old, but less than a month. At the #1 position on that chart is my post on Josephine Baker, of which I am far more proud than all those times I poked the [allegedly] corrupt Miami Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff with a stick.

However, the chart I always find the most interesting is the All Time results, tabulated since I launched Not Now Silly on April 19, 2012:

What I find most amazing about this last chart is that 258 people arrived at Not Now Silly by searching for one variation or another of Three Stooges. Who knew they were so popular? What I like about this list is that it’s fairly eclectic list of topics because Not Now Silly is a fairly eclectic blog.

Just a few more agenda items before I sign off on this exciting episode of Unpacking The Writer:

I totally underestimated how long it would take to kick Chapter Two of my book, Farce Au Pain,
into shape for publication. I am narrowing in on it and really hope to
publish it for you on March 1st. You may wish to reacquaint yourself by
heading on over to the front door of Farce Au Pain. If you haven’t read it yet, boy are you in for a treat.

been a slight bit of news on Trolleygate, which I hope to write about
within the next week. I’ve been reading some legal documents and I need
to interview a few people to make sure I’ve interpreted them correctly. I
also want to see if I can get official comment from: 1). The City of
Miami; 2). The City of Coral Gables; 3). Miami-Dade County; 4). Astor
Development; 5). Anyone else who will take my calls. This could be a
busy week on the phone.

I continue to research the E.W.F. Stirrup House. While I have discovered some interesting information, I’m still closing in on the real history I’ve been seeking. In the meantime, in an effort to get more people interested in saving the E.W.F. Stirrup House from Demolition by Neglect, I’ve fired up a facebookery called, appropriately enough, Save the E.W.F. Stirrup House. If you’re a facebooker, please join the group. It’s jam-packed with info about the Stirrup House, Coconut Grove, and other instances of Demolition by Neglect.

I read all your correspondence.

A big hat tip to JN & DO for your suggestions concerning Headlines Du Jour. You’ll note I incorporated both your ideas, but just not both at the same time, if that makes sense. Oh, and AG: Your idea would have taken the focus away from the Headlines Du Jour, so . . . Never mind. However, there may be another way to use that idea at Not Now Silly, so stay tuned.

I had hoped that this month I would be announcing my contributions to a local franchise of a respected country-wide web operation. However, I’m awaiting a response to my first contribution ordered up by the editor.

Back in the day, when I used to write regularly for magazines, the final draft was sent to my editor by First Class Mail. If I didn’t hear back for several weeks, it was understandable. However, in this cyber-universe in which we now live, I can shoot a 1,000,000 word article to the other side of the world faster than I can type that old saw about the swift brown fox. It’s just possible I’m being impatient. Either that or I’m just nostalgic for the old days when editors were collaborators in shaping the final product. I need to curb my enthusiasm, in case things don’t work out.

I have learned that they squeal the loudest when you make fun
of Loofah Lad, but The Falafel King would know all about that.

Additionally, lastly — and most gratefully — things have been relatively quiet on the cyber-bully front lately. The Flying Monkey Squad has not been as obsessively stalkerish this past month as usual. However, that doesn’t mean they’ve forgotten about me totally. They’ve only mentioned me enough to remind me to schedule some more timed tweets about them, not enough to warrant writing another full post about them. I’ll let all my previous posts about those psychotic miscreants stand for the time being. For the day to day hilarity, you could check The Johnny Dollar Depreciation Society over at facebook.

A clue for the clueless: If you ever did forget about me, I promise to stop writing about you. I would have thought you would have figured that out by now. And, I know whose reputation is being hurt by this continued feud and it’s not mine. Your move, Chicolinis.

Dear readers: If you’ve read this far without clicking on an advert by now, you’re a poopyhead.

Unpacking the Aunty Em Erican Blog At Six Months

My All Time Top Ten. Click to enlarge.

Light the candles and break out the noise-makers!!! The Aunty Em Ericann Blog celebrates Six Months of Existence this week. And to think it all started with Johnny Dollar Has Proven Himself To Be A Very Dangerous Person on April 19, 2012.

It’s been a wild six months for both my readers and myself. In that time I have written 180 posts and published tens of thousands of words. I’ve made new friends and, just as importantly, made several new enemies. However, what have I learned in that time? Among other things, I’ve learned that posts on Brian Jones are hugely popular. My highest-rated post is the July 3, 2012 post on Brian Jones. As of this writing it has had 1991 hits, which is more than twice as many as my 2nd highest-rated post on Josephine Baker, while exactly a month older has only 863 hits. That’s also more than 3 times my Number Three most popular post detailing my HIGH-LARRY-US bun fight with the Fox “News” correspondent James Rosen, which has only 619 hits.

James Rosen, self-proclaimed Beatles
expert and historical revisionist

For the longest time the Rosen post was my most popular. It was sad to see it slide to Number Three because it was my first post about Fox “News” (aside from all my writing at NewsHounds). Its popularity gave me the impetus to launch several wildly popular series on my blog, including The Fox News Spin Cycle and Chow Mein and Bolling. Just this week I spun off a new series called Judge Not, exploring the Libertarian mind (such as it is) of Judge Andrew Napolitano, the Fox “News” Senior Judicial Analyst.

The Number Four Post in my All Time Top Ten is a sleeper that crept up on me. It also happens to be about Fox News. I was shocked when the so-called “news” channel (in the guise of Bill “Loofah Lad” O’Reilly) felt the need to attack Randy Newman for his “I’m Dreaming” song. Since being published on September 22, 2012 it’s already wracked up 471 hits in just a month, which might make it my fastest growing post in popularity. It will be interesting to see how it does over the long haul.

The E.W.F. Stirrup House

My Number Five All Time Post is the one that I wish was really my Number One, because it’s an issue near and dear to my heart. If you’ve not been following my Unpacking Coconut Grove series, please take a look. I am trying to save the historic 120-year old E.W.F. Stirrup House from Demolition by Neglect. A 120-year old house doesn’t sound like much, but compared to everything else in Florida, that’s ancient. The house is not only architecturally important, but culturally important as well. It marks the zenith of the Bahamian community in Coconut Grove which helped build and serve the rest of the community. It was built by one of Florida’s first Black millionaires who . . . Well, please go read it for yourself. Suffice to say that E.W.F. Stirrup was a man way ahead of his time. His important legacy will be lost when his house no longer stands.

However, as much as I am interested in looking back, I am just as interested in the current Top Ten Posts of the Week. Here’s how that breaks down.

I want to thank all my readers who drop in to read what I have to say. While you’re at my blog, please take the time to click on one of the adverts. It will cost you nothing, but it adds a few (and I do mean few) pennies to my account and helps support the time and energy it takes to maintain the Aunty Em Ericann Blog. Thanking you in advance.

Unpacking the Aunty Em Ericann Blog Again

Every once in a while I like to pull back the curtain and show my readers what it looks like under the hood here at the Aunty Em Ericann Blog. However, and this is the important part, it’s really just an excuse for me to beg my readers to click on the ads. That’s the only way this blog generates any money for me and I work on it so very hard. Click on an advert. Clicking on an advert will cost you nothing, but it will put a few pennies into my pocket . . . and I do mean “few.”

All-time Top Ten posts.
Click to enlarge
All-time Top Ten search terms. Click to enlarge

I started this blog on April 19, 2012. Since then the blog has had 35,352 page views (as of this writing), which averages out to approximately 7,070 page views per month. That’s not bad for a newish blog. At left is a list of the all-time Top Ten Posts. It’s clear even at a small resolution that the Number One post is ahead by a wide margin: 1,493 to 610 for the Number Two post. I find that stunning for a bunch of reasons, main among them is that I’ve not promoted the Number One post; people have found it through the Googalizer, as evidenced by the next graph. At the time of this writing 526 people have found the Number One page in a search, as opposed to 293 who searched and found the Number Two post on the blog.

For the record: The Top Ten posts on the Aunty Em Ericann blog are:

Entry Pageviews

Some of those surprise me. There’s really no reason I can think of why the Barbara Walters clip comes in at Number 10, or why the post on Wretched Gretched clocks in at Number Six. Both were intended to be silly one-offs, yet they keep on garnering readers. Amazingly neither are part of the search terms people have used to find my blog.

Who am I to argue with my readers? They know what they like.

I am gratified, however, that some of the posts I am most proud of have made it into the Top Ten.  Specifically I’d like to point to the ones on Josephine Baker, The E.W.F. Stirrup House, When Whites Went Crazy in Tulsa, and The Detroit Riots. The thread that connects them all is that they are all about Race Relations and Racism, a subject I have been researching as my own Independent Studies Course as long as I can remember.

Meanwhile, I will keep publishing my blog. Hopefully my readers will realize how much hard work goes into writing these posts and will click on an advert, or two, or three and help support this project.



Josephine Baker hiding behind crossed
eyes, a favourite pose of hers.

Merriam-Webster defines “synchronicity”as “the coincidental occurrence of events and especially psychic events (as similar thoughts in widely separated persons or a mental image of an unexpected event before it happens) that seem related but are not explained by conventional mechanisms of causality—used especially in the psychology of C. G. Jung.” Seems simple enough, but there are whole web sites are dedicated to making it complicated, like “Understanding Synchronicity.” Then there are others that profess to make synchronicity to understand, but only complicate it all up. A perfect example is this interesting essay as Dr. Eric Weiss who jots down “Some Reflections on The Definition of Synchronicity,” which spins the Merriam-Webster definition into 3,553 words that makes my head hurt:

We cannot define synchronicity in terms of any one conventional
discipline. It certainly doesn’t belong in physics as that discipline
is normally understood. Nor does it really belong in the sphere of
general academic psychology.

There is no academic discipline for which synchronicity is an object
of concern. Not only is synchronicity outside the boundaries of any
particular conventional academic discipline, it is actually outside of
the entire meta-structure of academic disciplines that contains both
physics and psychology as we usually understand those terms.

More generally, we might say that synchronicity is a concept that has
no place within the modern view of the world. It is a concept that is
relevant to the modern world, that was developed in response to the
needs of the modern world, and that is of interest to people who have
been educated in the modern world. But it comes into the modern world
almost as a koan, as a kind of indigestible pill. If we are going to
digest it, we need to define it, but we can’t define it in modern terms.
What are we to do?

I know what I do when faced with extreme waves of synchronicity: I remember that we are all governed by the immutable, invisible, odourless, colourless laws of The Flying Spaghetti Monster. That’s when I begin look for the deeper meaning which exists beneath and within the unexplainable. There are no coincidences. All Hail His Noodly Appendages!!!

Since losing the nom de plume “Aunty Em Ericann” I have been awash in His Synchonatic Reflections™ and revel in the New Order of the Universe as it now aligns. Let me explain in a nutshell, without resorting to complicated theorem.

Think of your own personal synchronicity as a blanket you are shaking rhythmically up and down. The sine waves created by the blanket is a two dimensional representation of your synchronicity in a 3-Dimensional space. However, everyone knows that synchronicity works in the 6th Dimension, where it interacts with the ‘waving blankets’ belonging to everyone else. Where these waves collide are where the EXACT moments and locations the FSM has stitched together Space and Time and Gravity and Dimensionality and Predestination. If, as they contend in Quantuum Mechanics or String Theory or Whatever They’re Calling It These Days™, that all choices are possible in the Alternative Universes that exist, then the chances of anything so improbable can be proven possible by multiplying boiling water with pasta and adding sauce.

The 1st time I saw Sally Kellerman

Pastafarianism explains how and why Deborah Barry, The Happiness Coach, dropped back into my life unexplained a full 35 years after we first met. It also explains how and why I was to meet Sally Kellerman immediately following — dare I say it? — a spaghetti dinner 40 years ago, only to have her thrown back into my life recently in a way that proves that Noodly Appendages direct our every reality.

[I have reached out to Sally Kellerman and we’ll see whether she remembers that evening in Burlington, Ontario 45 years as fondly as I do. It all depends on how attuned she is to her own synchronicity.]

Add to all of this my latest and last bit of synchronicity: Over the past weekend a large group of us split off from the family festivities and wandered over to The Rust Belt Market at Woodward and 9 Mile in Ferndale, MI. After a while I had seen it all and wandered across the street by myself to a used bookstore on 9 Mile. It was a wonderful bookstore with every shelf jam-packed to the ceiling with books of every size and description. This is the type of place I could lose hours inside.

Not the actual shelf in the actual
store, but an amazing recreation.

As I walked along the narrow entrance aisle created by all the bookshelves. To my right, at about the six foot mark, was a book pulled out at an odd angle. Every other book on the shelf was perfectly perpendicular save one, that drew my attention. The word Jazz was almost completely exposed and the copper-coloured cover was an usual hue. However, it still didn’t get my blanket shaking yet. However, as I reached up to straighten the book I pulled it out a little farther instead. Suddenly I was holding a book that I never knew existed and wanted to read immediately: “Jazz Cleopatra: Josephine Baker in her Time.”

I had only just, more or less, finished my little pocket biography of Josephine Baker, which had been highly praised by some of my friends. Baker’s life events were still rattling around in my head. Just that morning I had been telling my brother-in-law the high points of her life. Joe (my bro-in-law) had heard of the Stork Club incident, but didn’t realize it led to a life-long friendship with Grace Kelly. Then suddenly this book actually tried to jump off the shelf into my hand. Naturfally I bought it.

It seems like The Flying Spaghetti Monster is not quite done with me. I will go wherever He takes me.

Day In History ► Josephine Baker Born

Dateline June 3, 1906 – Chanteusse Josephine Baker is born. Is there any doubt that had Josephine Baker been born White, she’d have been a huge star in ‘Merka who everyone would still know today? As her official web site puts it:

Josephine Baker sashayed onto a Paris stage during the 1920s with a comic, yet sensual appeal that took Europe by storm. Famous for barely-there dresses and no-holds-barred dance routines, her exotic beauty generated nicknames “Black Venus,” “Black Pearl” and “Creole Goddess.” Admirers bestowed a plethora of gifts, including diamonds and cars, and she received approximately 1,500 marriage proposals. She maintained energetic performances and a celebrity status for 50 years until her death in 1975. Unfortunately, racism prevented her talents from being wholly accepted in the United States until 1973.

The WikiWackyWoo adds:

Baker was the first African American female to star in a major motion picture, to integrate an American concert hall, and to become a world-famous entertainer. She is also noted for her contributions to the Civil Rights Movement in the United States (she was offered the unofficial leadership of the movement by Coretta Scott King in 1968 following Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination, but turned it down), for assisting the French Resistance during World War II, and for being the first American-born woman to receive the French military honor, the Croix de guerre.

Born as Freda Josephine McDonald into relative poverty, Baker started earning her living as a child working as a cleaning woman/babysitter for wealthy St. Louis Whites. At 13 she began to wait tables at The Old Chauffeur’s Club, where she met the first of her four husbands, Willie Wells. As a street corner busker, she danced her way into the St. Louis Chorus vaudeville show when she was only 15, which began her official show biz career. She kicked around vaudeville for a few years until she auditioned for “Shuffle Along,” the first all-Black Broadway musical, written by Eubie Blake [one of my favourite artsts] and Nobel Sissle. Amazingly, as her web site puts it:

She was rejected because she was “too skinny and too dark.” Undeterred, she learned the chorus line’s routines while working as a dresser. Thus, Josephine was the obvious replacement when a dancer left. Onstage she rolled her eyes and purposely acted clumsy. The audience loved her comedic touch, and Josephine was a box office draw for the rest of the show’s run.

That’s when Josephine Baker became a star. However, it was only when she went to Paris that she became a SENSATION. Paris society was integrated and Baker became one of the highest paid entertainers in all of Europe and welcomed into all aspects of Parisian society. Yet, when she returned to ‘Merka in 1936, she was savaged by the ‘Merkin critics; the New York Times calling her a “Negro wench.” She is reported to have returned to France heartbroken by the reception.

Here is Josephine Baker performing the famous Banana Dance that WOWED Paris:

However, if Josephine Baker’s singing and dancing were her only accomplishments, she would be remembered as merely an entertainer who scaled the heights of Europe and little more. In my mind her greater accomplishments are those that are less well known. Josephine Baker is the first ‘Merkin woman to be buried in France with a 21 gun salute and full military honours for her work for the resistance during the Second World War. The WikiWackyWoo picks up the story:

Her affection for France was so great that when World War II broke out, she volunteered to spy for her adopted country. Baker’s agent’s brother approached her about working for the French government as an “honorable correspondent”, if she happened to hear any gossip at parties that might be of use to her adopted country, she could report it. Baker immediately agreed, since she was against the Nazi stand on race, not only because she was black but because her husband was Jewish. Her café society fame enabled her to rub shoulders with those in-the-know, from high-ranking Japanese officials to Italian bureaucrats, and report back what she heard. She attended parties at the Italian embassy without any suspicion falling on her and gathered information. She helped in the war effort in other ways, such as by sending Christmas presents to French soldiers. When the Germans invaded France, Baker left Paris and went to the Château des Milandes, her home in the south of France, where she had Belgian refugees living with her and others who were eager to help the Free French effort led from England by Charles de Gaulle. As an entertainer, Baker had an excuse for moving around Europe, visiting neutral nations like Portugal, and returning to France. Baker assisted the French Resistance by smuggling secrets written in invisible ink on her sheet music.

Despite the treatment she received in ‘Merka in 1936, she wasn’t done with her native land quite yet. In the ‘50s she threw her support behind the ‘Merkin Civil Right’s Movement, though she still lived in France. She refused to perform for segregated audiences when she toured and is credited with helping to integrate Las Vegas shows. In a famously reported incident, she accused the Stork Club in Manhattan with refusing her service. Grace Kelly, who happened to be in the club at the time, saw what happened. She marched her entire party out of the club, arm-in-arm with Baker. Kelly never set foot in the club again and the two women became friends to the end. [Years later, when Baker had fallen on hard times she was supported by Grace Kelly, who was known as Princess Grace of Monaco by then, with money and a villa, .]

Baker worked with the NAACP and was beside Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. at the March On Washington in 1963, the only woman to officially address the throngs. After Dr. King was assassinated Coretta Scott King asked her to lead the ‘Merkin Civil Rights Movement. Baker declined. She also adopted 12 children of various backgrounds, calling them her Rainbow Tribe, as demonstrable proof that people can get along.

But wait! That’s not all!

Baker was bisexual. Her son Jean-Claude Baker and co-author Chris Chase state in Josephine: The Hungry Heart that she was involved in numerous lesbian affairs, both while she was single and married, and mention six of her female lovers by name. Clara Smith, Evelyn Sheppard, Bessie Allison, Ada “Bricktop” Smith, and Mildred Smallwood were all African-American women whom she met while touring on the black performing circuit early in her career. She was also reportedly involved intimately with French writer Colette. Not mentioned, but confirmed since, was her affair with Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Jean-Claude Baker, who interviewed over 2,000 people while writing his book, wrote that affairs with women were not uncommon for his mother throughout her lifetime. He was quoted in one interview as saying:

“She was what today you would call bisexual, and I will tell you why. Forget that I am her son, I am also a historian. You have to put her back into the context of the time in which she lived. In those days, Chorus Girls were abused by the white or black producers and by the leading men if he liked girls. But they could not sleep together because there were not enough hotels to accommodate black people. So they would all stay together, and the girls would develop lady lover friendships, do you understand my English? But wait wait…If one of the girls by preference was gay, she’d be called a bull dyke by the whole cast. So you see, discrimination is everywhere.”

On April 8, 1975, Baker starred in a retrospective revue at the Bobino in Paris, Joséphine à Bobino 1975, celebrating her 50 years in show business. The revue, financed by Prince Rainier, Princess Grace, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, opened to rave reviews. Demand for seating was such that fold-out chairs had to be added to accommodate spectators. The opening-night audience included Sophia Loren, Mick Jagger, Shirley Bassey, Diana Ross and Liza Minnelli.

Four days later she was found in a coma in bed, surrounded by the latest rave reviews of what could have been the second act to her fabulous career. She never came out of it and died 4 days later.

By any standards Josephine Baker’s life is worthy of memorializing, which Lynn Whitfield did in 1991 in HBO’s The Josephine Baker Story. For her performance she received the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie, making her the first Black woman to do so.

Despite the biopic, sadly, when you mention Josephine Baker to people these days they stare blankly. Is there any doubt this would be the case were she White?