norbert blei | seifert and others

24 01 2008
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Poetry Dispatch No. 207 | January 23, 2008

SEIFERT & Others (Sue Peterson, Wilma Elizabeth McDaniel, Ruth Wallis/Risque’ Songs…) REVISITED

(A POETRY DISPATCH NEWSLETTER/UPDATE OF SORTS)

While we are still in the first month of the New Year, I thought I would call your attention to the Czech poet, Jaroslav Seifert again (Poetry Dispatch #206, the first dispatch of 2008) via Klaus (Monsieur K’s) insights and excellent work at www.poetrydispatch.wordpress.com .

The archived (and greatly enhanced) version of this dispatch includes important biographical info about the Seifert, as well as photographs and a reader’s contact/commentary from Prague.

The first photograph that accompanies the Seifert dispatch more than caught my breath. (Monsieur K, way over there in France, seems to be reading my mind — or senses the conditions I work in.) It is a photo of a ‘busy’ desk by the brilliant old Czech photographer, Josef Sudek, (1896-1976). His photographs of Prague were often compared to Atget’s photographs of Paris.

I have treasured Sudek’s desk photo since the first time I saw it in the 1970’s. Since then, my desk (my condition here in the coop…a long way from Prague) has slowly taken on the depth and character of Sudek’s famous photograph—called “The Labyrinth“. Perhaps that old photo was an artistic piece of foreshadowing. Lost. Out of control. I wish it were otherwise, but there seems to be nothing I can do. I’m destined to live and write in the labyrinth.

More on Seifert and his work in a future dispatch. (More on Sudek too…but probably for print, not the net.)

It took a fair number of months, but Monsieur Klaus and I are now caught up. All the Poetry Dispatches (going back to 2005) have now been archived. What a treasure. Please consult the archives on a regular basis. Pass the site on to friends. By Monsieur K’s count, it is a very active sites, thousands of hits — from all over the world. There is so much good work there. And much more to come. Stay with it…me…us.

I would also like to call your attention to please take a second look at the following recent (greatly enhanced) Poetry Dispatches in particular: Susan Peterson (A Quiet Poet in the Village), Wilma Elizabeth McDaniel (A Belated Obit) and Ruth Wallis (Risque’ Songs). In each instance, you will be both informed and delighted by the added material.

So take a few minutes. Go to http://www.poetrydispatch.wordpress.com Look up Jaroslav Seifert first. Read/enjoy. Move on to Susan Peterson, Wilma Elizabeth McDaniel (some great photos of her) and Ruth Wallis — both photos and old album covers of all.

Thank you all.

And thank you Klaus — for making this happen, a bigger, better, wider and wider concept on the world wide web!

Norbert Blei

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ruth wallis | 87 singer-writer of risqué songs

14 01 2008
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NOTES from the UNDERGROUND… No. 129 | January 14, 2008

OBITS | Ruth Wallis, 87 Singer-Writer Of Risqué Songs by MARGALIT FOX

Ruth Wallis, a cabaret singer of the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s who was known as the Queen of the Party Song for the genteelly risqué numbers she performed for happy, and very occasionally horrified, listeners worldwide, died on Dec. 22 at her home in South Killingly, Conn. She was 87.

The cause was complications of Alzheimer’s disease, her son, Alan Pastman, said.

Ms. Wallis, who began her career performing jazz and cabaret standards, soon became known for the novelty songs — more than 150 of them — she wrote herself, all positively dripping with double entendre. Even today, only a fraction of her titles can be rendered in a family newspaper, among them “The Hawaiian Lei Song,” “Hopalong Chastity,” “Your Daddy Was a Soldier” and “A Man, a Mink, and a Million Pink and Purple Pills.” Her signature number, “The Dinghy Song,” is an ode to Davy, who had “the cutest little dinghy in the Navy.

In 2003, Ms. Wallis’s work was the basis of an off-Broadway re¬vue, “Boobs! The Musical: The World According to Ruth Wallis.” ‘ West 54th Street.
Though Ms. Wallis performed in some of the most glittering nightclubs in New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and elsewhere, her career was largely overlooked at the time. Few mainstream newspapers, after all, dared print even faintly suggestive titles like “Johnny Has a Yo-Yo,” “De Gay Young Lad,” “Stay Out of My Pantry” and “Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew.” Nor could they reproduce Ms. Wallis’s lyrics, in which body parts, real or merely implied, tended to loom large.

In Boston, Ms. Wallis’s songs were banned from the radio. In Australia, her records were seized by customs agents when she arrived there for a tour. Both incidents only made her more popular, according to later news accounts.

Ruth Shirley Wohl was born in New York City on Jan. 5, 1920. She chose her stage-name in honor of Wallis Warfield Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor, her son said. Ms. Wallis’s marriage to her manager, Hy Pastman, ended in divorce, though they were later reconciled, her son said; the elder Mr. Pastman died in 1987. Besides her son, of South Killingly, she is survived by a daughter, Ronnie Ramistella of Monterey, Calif.; and one grandchild.

SOURCE: The New York Times, 1.3.08

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