Category Archives: History

Music on Mondays (4-20-13)—You can’t catch me but we can all come together in Folsom Prison

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Many decades ago when personal computers were just hitting the market, I got a gig with Fulbright & Jaworski LLP, Houston’s largest law firm at the time, merging the computer culture with their corporate culture and teaching their secretaries, paralegals, assistants, and attorneys how to use computers and the prevalent software at the time, which was Lotus-1-2-3, PC Write, WordStar, and WordPerfect.

Ever since those days I have had an inordinate interest in the law, often making it an avocation wherever I have been.

Perhaps the aspect of law that I most enjoy is copyright law, so it’s only natural that when my love of music butts heads with the law, I find it interesting. I mean, after all there are only so many notes, chords, and riffs that can be strung together to make music and songs. Over time, then, there’s bound to be a little borrowing here and there, even if only subconsciously.

Here are two music lawsuits involving the very rich and famous, and that the richer and more famous person lost:

The great Johnny Cash was sued by Gordon Jenkins who claimed that Cash used lyrics and melody from Jenkins’ 1953 composition “Crescent City Blues” in his 1955 hit “Folsom Prison Blues.” Even the opening lines are similar. Cash paid up, to the tune of $75,000.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

There’s no question that in the realm of music, Chuck Berry was rich and famous. However, he sued someone even richer and more famous, John Lennon, and won.

Berry’s publishing company sued Lennon, claiming that lines and melodies for “Come Together” were taken from Berry’s 1956 song, “You Can’t Catch Me.” As part of the settlement, Lennon agreed to record three songs owned by publisher Morris Levy, including a cover of “You Can’t Catch Me” for Lennon’s 1975 covers album Rock ‘N’ Roll.

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Music on Mondays (4-13-15)—You poor little fool

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

One of my favorite television programs when I was in grade school was The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, on the air from 1952 to 1966.

As music became an integral part of my life with violin, piano, and voice, Ozzie & Harriet’s son, Rick, became part of my life.

Before I ever discovered Ricky Nelson, though, he already had two #1 hit singles, “Poor Little Fool” from 1958, and “Travelin’ Man” from 1961.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The period before I discovered him in 1972 resulted in eighteen Top 10 hits! I discovered him when “Garden Party” peaked at #6 in 1972.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

In 1985, the Texas A&M football team had won the Southwest Conference Championship and was to meet Auburn University in the Cotton Bowl on January 1, 1986, in Dallas.

I had many friends living in the Dallas area, and one of them got us tickets to a New Year’s Eve concert, billed as a New Year’s Eve Extravaganza with Ricky Nelson. Sadly, Nelson’s private jet crashed in De Kalb, Texas, northeast of Dallas, and about two miles short of the landing strip. The crash happened at 5:14 p.m. Dallas time; I was at a bar celebrating when the news began circulating around 9:00 p.m. that Ricky Nelson was dead. There was no extravaganza that night.

Up until 1993 I still had the obviously unused ticket to the concert but I think it got left behind in Texas when I came to San Diego. It probably got thrown away. Too bad because it would probably be worth quite a bit of money!

Of course, I have to mention that Texas A&M won the Cotton Bowl Classic on January 1, 1986, beating an Auburn team that featured Heisman Trophy-winning running back Bo Jackson. Final score was 36-16.

Fightin' Texas Aggie Band from Texas A&M University

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Preventing spies from secretly entering the United States….

Did you know?

Yesterday I did a home inspection in San Ysidro. It’s pretty close to the most southwestern point in the continental United States:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The most southwestern point, though, is not a city. It’s a park, the Border Field State Park:

Border Field State Park in San Diego County, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

See that doohickey behind the sign, though, the one with the circular thingy on the top?

What do you suppose that is?

I thought it was a fence, but when I examined it closer, turns out it’s not a fence at all.

It’s an “Ocean Outfall Anti-Intrusion Structure”:

img_1342 ocean outfall anti-intrusion structure

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I’m pretty sure that whatever was within the fenced area was the ocean outfall anti-intrusion structure. But just WHAT IS an ocean outfall anti-intrusion structure? A-ha! (not the group). I’m glad you asked.

Margaritas at On The Border in El Cajon, CaliforniaAn ocean outfall is a sewer pipe that terminates in the ocean. (Yuk! I’m never going in the ocean again!)

I do know that the ocean outfall sewer pipe was built in 1998 and cost a whopping $131 million. (That would cover the cost of 32,750,000 happy hour margaritas at On The Border! ►)

Actually, the outfall is sewage that has been treated at the South Bay International Wastewater Treatment Plant.

In other words, the United States built a wastewater treatment plant to treat raw sewage flowing from Tijuana (that’s in Mexico!) into the United States via the Tijuana River.

The Tijuana River is 120 miles long, but only 115 miles is in Mexico. The final five miles are in San Diego County, running through the Tijuana River Estuary and Border Field State Park.

I found a map that shows exactly what is going on here:

Ocean outfall map

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Tijuana used to dump a great majority of their raw sewage into the Tijuana River, but the map above shows the San Antonio de los Buenos Treatment Plant, the Tijuana Wastewater Canal, and Pump Station No. 1 with an arrow pointing to the International Wastewater Treatment Plant in the United States. So now, instead of dumping all that sewage into the river, it gets treated and pumped to the United States for further treatment, after which it is dumped into the Pacific Ocean four miles offshore. Oh, the complicated things we do to get rid of our poop….

Here’s what the Tijuana River used to look like at the time I arrived in San Diego in April 1993:

Tijuana River

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

That was on the Mexico side of the border, but you can imagine the crap (pun intended) that was flowing in the river to the United States side.

And warning signs were everywhere on the beaches near the mouth of the Tijuana River:

Pollution warning sign

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Okay, so we know what an ocean outfall is, but what about the anti-intrusion structure part of it? What’s going through my mind is spies in their diving suits four miles out there in the Pacific Ocean finding the termination point of the ocean outfall pipe and swimming four miles through the pipe to eventually wind up on land…. AND IN THE UNITED STATES! How terrible would that be, to have sewage-covered spies arriving secretly in the United States! The anti-intrusion structure prevents those dastardly spies from getting into the United States! Oh, my mind is just full of visuals from B-grade spy movies of the ’60s….

A second thought is that there is some sort of one-way valve behind the fence that prevents ocean water from intruding through the pipe and into the wastewater treatment plant. The fence prevents someone from tampering with the valve. Hmmm. That actually seems plausible….

But I like my spy movie better….

Sadly, Google and Wikipedia are providing absolutely no help here, so I’m going with spies….

Spy

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Music on Mondays (4-6-15)—Another day with me and you and a dog named Boo on the Indian reservation

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Most of my readers probably know that I have a lot of music comprising many genres of which most is either in the pop category or classical. I call the pop category my non-classical music. Currently I have 1,670 hours, 32 minutes, and 10 seconds of non-classical music. I listen to an average of 11 hours, 10 minutes of music each and every day, which means that it takes me about 149½ days just to listen to the non-classical music. It takes me the rest of the year to listen to all my classical music.

Long-time readers also probably know that I listen to my non-classical music in chronological order. Today I’m in the year 1971. Of the many albums released that year, I have 58 of them. In the order in which I listen to them:

  1. Kongos by John Kongos
  2. First Album by ZZ Top
  3. Salisbury by Uriah Heep
  4. Chicago III by Chicago
  5. Paranoid by Black Sabbath
  6. Crazy Horse by Crazy Horse
  7. Love It To Death by Alice Cooper
  8. Ring Of Hands by Argent
  9. The Yes Album by Yes
  10. Percy by The Kinks
  11. Aqualung by Jethro Tull
  12. Manna by Bread
  13. Sticky Fingers by The Rolling Stones
  14. The Doobie Brothers by The Doobie Brothers
  15. Survival by Grand Funk
  16. Bloodrock 3 by Bloodrock
  17. Thirds by The James Gang
  18. Songs For Beginners by Graham Nash
  19. Ram by Paul & Linda McCartney
  20. L.A. Woman by The Doors
  21. Indelibly Stamped by Supertramp
  22. Tarkus by Emerson, Lake & Palmer
  23. Every Good Boy Deserves Favor by The Moody Blues
  24. Fireball by Deep Purple
  25. Master Of Reality by Black Sabbath
  26. Who’s Next? by The Who
  27. April Wine by April Wine
  28. Bark by Jefferson Airplane
  29. Future Games by Fleetwood Mac
  30. Harmony by Three Dog Night
  31. Look At Yourself by Uriah Heep
  32. Imagine by John Lennon
  33. Rock Love by The Steve Miller Band
  34. American Pie by Don McLean
  35. Other Voices by The Doors
  36. REO Speedwagon by REO Speedwagon
  37. The Morning After by The J. Geils Band
  38. UFO 2—Flying by UFO
  39. Distant Light by The Hollies
  40. Meddle by Pink Floyd
  41. Cold Spring Harbor by Billy Joel
  42. Funny How Sweet Co-Co Can Be by The Sweet
  43. Muswell Hillbillies by The Kinks
  44. Nazareth by Nazareth
  45. People Like Us by The Mamas & The Papas
  46. Sittin’ In by Loggins & Messina
  47. Year Of Sunday by Seals & Crofts
  48. Led Zeppelin IV by Led Zeppelin
  49. Nilsson Schmillson by Nilsson
  50. Fragile by Yes
  51. E Pluribus Funk by Grand Funk
  52. Madman Across The Water by Elton John
  53. Killer by Alice Cooper
  54. Trafalgar by The Bee Gees
  55. Straight Up by Badfinger
  56. The Electric Light Orchestra by The Electric Light Orchestra
  57. The Concert For Bangladesh by George Harrison & Friends
  58. Wild Life by Wings

So which is my favorite album? I couldn’t decide. Maybe there is a tie for first place:

Ram by Paul & Linda McCartney
Who’s Next? by The Who
Led Zeppelin IV by Led Zeppelin
Nilsson Schmilsson by Nilsson
Trafalgar by The Bee Gees.

If you know those albums well, you’ll notice that every song on the albums are quite singable, and I love to sing.

I also have 71 individual song files but I’m not going to list all of them here. I can’t choose my favorite among them, either, but following are ten that I love to sing along with. I hope they bring back some pleasant memories for someone.

Jeepster by T. Rex
Not released as a single

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Another Day by Paul McCartney
McCartney’s first post-Beatles single, a #5 hit

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Indian Reservation by Paul Revere & The Raiders
Their only #1 hit

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Me & You & A Dog Named Boo by Lobo
Lobo’s first single, a #5 hit

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Albert Flasher by The Guess Who
#29 hit

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Signs by Five Man Electrical Band
Their first single, a #3 hit

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Draggin’ The Line by Tommy James
A #4 hit a year after James said good-bye to The Shondells

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Saturday Morning Confusion by Bobby Russell
Russell wrote dozens of hits for others
but had only two hits himself
this his biggest at #28

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Where Evil Grows by The Poppy Family
A #45 hit, although until this blog post
I thought it made it much higher.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Rain Dance by The Guess Who
#19

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San Diego Fire-Rescue Department Training Facility

Out & About

Many years ago, from 1923 to 1997, there was a huge naval training complex of 550 acres on the north end of the San Diego harbor. It was closed by the Base Realignment and Closure commission in 1993. Most of it was converted into a mixed use development complex of 361 acres named Liberty Station, and many of the buildings were declared historic and were saved.

Yesterday I discovered the other 189 acres:

img_1178 fire rescue training center stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Most of these 189 acres consist of about 500 units of military housing.

img_1193 fire rescue training center stamp

img_1190 fire rescue training center stamp

img_1173 fire rescue training center stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The fire-rescue training facility is not accessible to the public, and there is a very tall green fence around the complex, said fence being about 15′ tall. However, through little cracks in the gate where entrances are, I was able to get pictures with my 28-300mm zoom lens.

img_1170 fire rescue training center stamp

img_1184 fire rescue training center stamp

img_1188 fire rescue training center stamp

img_1205 fire rescue training center stamp

img_1200 fire rescue training center railroad tank car stamp

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Now go back and look at the pictures and imagine thousands of new navy recruits training to keep America safe!

The Naval Training Station is San Diego Historical Landmark #425, so it eventually will show up in my San Diego Historical Landmark series.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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San Diego Historical Landmarks—#14F: Congress Hall Site

San Diego Historical Landmarks

Old Town San Diego State Historic ParkWithin Old Town San Diego State Historic Park (San Diego Historical Landmark #14) are many historic buildings and rebuilds. We’ll explore nine of them since they also have been designated San Diego Historical Landmarks.

The sixth landmark, San Diego Historical Landmark #14F, is the Congress Hall Site.

Congress Hall was a one-story frame building built by, quoting the San Diego History Center, “George De Witt, Clinton, Washington, Robertson.” Note the punctuation. What does that mean? Are Clinton, Washington, and Robertson people? Why don’t they have first names if they are people? I believe they are names because the San Diego History Center tells us that “Robertson ran a saloon, billiard parlor and gambling house.”

A conflicting article, also at the San Diego History Center, states that Congress Hall “was a two-story board-and-batten hotel, erected in 1867 by George Dewitt Clinton Washington Robinson.”

I’m so confused.

Originally Congress Hall was located on the north side of the plaza (conflicting source says “northeast side”) in what is now Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.

Vincent Llucia bought the building around 1870 and had it moved to the northwest corner of the plaza. In 1884 the post office was located in the building, possibly because Vincent Llucia and his son, Vincent P. D. Llucia, both were postmasters.

One of the building’s claim to fame is that it served as a Pony Express office. One of the last Pony Express rode north from Congress Hall.

At various times, Congress Hall was also a wild west saloon, a gambling hall, a rooming house, a post office, and a bakery. A balcony over the porch provided a vantage point for bands and public speakers on occasion.

Congress Hall was destroyed in 1939.

I could find no free pictures on the Internet but the San Diego History Center has some that one can purchase, the cost of which is beyond my lowly blog…. Here are a couple of links to pictures:

Congress Hall remains, ca. 1930—Obviously a one-story building

Congress Hall, no date but obviously a two-story building

Currently, the Congress Hall site is occupied by the Barra Barra Saloon in Fiesta de Reyes.

Barra Barra Saloon in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Fiesta de Reyes comprises 19 locally owned specialty shops, three restaurants and, a 10-room boutique hotel.

Barra Barra Saloon is a period saloon representing the merging of Mexico with American traditions after the Mexican-American War. Barra Barra bills itself as an “Old World Mexican dining experience with traditional Mexican fare made from recipes that span generations.”

Barra Barra’s furniture and décor includes authentic Mexican artifacts as well as reproduction collectibles, providing the ambiance of a ranch home in Old Mexico. Along with the saloon there are two indoor dining rooms and a large patio dining area with two fire pits.

Barra Barra Saloon in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Barra Barra Saloon in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Barra Barra Saloon in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Barra Barra Saloon in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

For the introductory blog post to San Diego’s historical landmarks, click on San Diego’s Historical Landmarks.

For previous posts in the San Diego Historical Landmarks series, go here.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Music on Mondays (3-9-15)—A hundred and eighty were challenged

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

I was born and raised in the small ranching and farming community of Kingsville, Texas. I graduated from Texas A&M University, the first public institution of higher education in the State of Texas. I’m pretty much a Texas boy except for their weird politics that seem to have gripped the state within the past twenty years. Coincidentally, I left in April 1993. Maybe if I had stayed, the State would have joined the 21st Century….

When my wise old grandmother took me to HemisFair ’68 in San Antonio, I was overjoyed. Not because I was going to get to go to HemisFair but because the Alamo was close by, and that’s where I really wanted to go. I was more into history than carnival rides….

Scott #1043, The AlamoThe Alamo, a mission in 1843, is now the most visited tourist attraction in the State of Texas. I was familiar with the Alamo only through my hobby as a stamp collector because it was featured on a postage stamp issued on June 14, 1956.

The Alamo is most famous as the site of the Battle of the Alamo, a 13-day siege of the Alamo by Mexican forces under General Santa Ana. The Mexican forces won that battle and it looked like the end of the road for Texas forces. The fall of the Alamo, though, seemed to embolden Texas forces, ultimately resulting in the victory at San Jacinto that won Texas its independence from Mexico.

The Alamo has also been featured in books, in movies, on television, and in song. Here is my favorite song about the Alamo, Marty Robbins’ 1960 hit, “Ballad of the Alamo, from the movie “The Alamo” starring John Wayne:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The Alamo in music is more interesting if we start in 1955 with “Remember The Alamo” written by Texas singer/songwriter Jane Bowers. Tex Ritter released the song in 1955 as the B side of his “Gunsmoke” single.

“Remember The Alamo” didn’t make much impact at the time, but through the years it has been covered by the Kingston Trio, Johnny Cash, Donovan, and Asleep at the Wheel, as well as many others.

I’m a big fan of Donovan but I was unfamiliar with his version of “Remember The Alamo” so I went to find it. Here it is:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Donovan would have been at the bottom of my list of people to sing about The Alamo. He’s a British singer, songwriter, and guitarist! I tried to find out why a British singer would record a very non-British song, but nothing special is showing up anywhere. I guess he just liked the song….

“Remember The Alamo” is listed by the Western Writers of America as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time.

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