America: 50th Anniversary 

They formed the band America as teens. This year, Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell celebrate the band’s 50th anniversary with an International tour.

Dewey Bunnell, Dan Peek, and Gerry Beckley formed the American rock band America in London in 1969. The trio met as sons of US Air Force personnel stationed in London, where they began performing live. Beckley, Bunnell, and Peek attended London Central High School, where they met while playing in two different bands. Peek left for the United States for a failed attempt at college during 1969. He returned to the UK the following year, and the three began making music together. Starting out with borrowed acoustic guitars, they developed a style which incorporated three-part vocal harmony, similar to contemporary folk-rock acts such as Crosby, Stills & Nash. The trio dubbed themselves America, because they didn’t want to seem like British musicians trying to sound American.

Discography

America released their first album America  (1971) in the UK to only moderate success.
The trio returned to the studio to record several additional songs. Bunnell composed one called “Desert Song” which, after several performances and a TV show, was re-titled “A Horse with No Name“. After that the song became a major worldwide hit, selling over one million copies. America re-released their debut album with the hit song added and it quickly went platinum. The band released five other albums in the 1970s:

Peek left the group in 1977, and their commercial fortunes declined, despite a brief return to the top in 1982 with the single “You Can Do Magic“.

The Recording Academy awarded America trauma a Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 1971. In addition, Recording Academy members nominated them for Best Pop Vocal Group at the 15th Annual Grammy Awards in 1973. Voters inducted the group into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2006, and they received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2012.

Posted in Almanac | 2 Comments

Rats, Squirrels and Hummingbirds

Rats: 

Have you ever lain awake at night listening to them scurrying about in your attic? Sadly, we used to occasionally endure this sleep depriving interruption. At the time, we used rat poison and traps in the attic to address the problem.

A few years ago we changed exterminators. We changed our strategy and placed six bait boxes around our house with fresh rat poison. The goal is to kill the rats before they became unwelcome household guests. 

Squirrels:  

A friend once told me that squirrels were just rats with a bushy tail and better PR. Although fun to watch, they can be quite destructive. I have fought these pesky rodents for years as they continually found their way to my bird feeders.

Our exterminator came for his quarterly service last week.  After he filled our bait boxes with fresh rat poison, I asked if there was anything he could do to control my squirrel population. His solution: move my bird feeders away from the house. So, I had Juan move my bird feeder to the backyard.

Hummingbirds:

I decided to try attracting hummingbirds after moving my sunflower and suet feeders to the backyard. They began appearing in just a few short days. My simple recipe: 1/4 cup sugar to 1 cup warm water.

Hummingbirds are birds native to the Americas. They are the smallest of birds, most species measuring 7.5–13 cm (3–5 in) in length. Known as hummingbirds because of the humming sound created by their beating wings which flap at high frequencies audible to humans. They hover in mid-air at rapid wing-flapping rates, which vary from around 12 beats per second in the largest species, to in excess of 80 in some of the smallest. Of those species that have been measured in wind tunnels, their top speed exceeds 15 m/s (54 km/h; 34 mph) and some species can dive at speeds in excess of 22 m/s (79 km/h; 49 mph).

These amazing little birds are yet another reminder of God’s omnipresence.

Hummingbird by Seals and Crofts is about Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of the Bahá’í faith. You may like to learn about this faith as you enjoy listening to this song. Click here for lyrics

Posted in Current Events, Inspiring Secular Music | 1 Comment

Anchovy Pizza

Pizza: I’ve heard people say that even when it’s bad it’s still pretty good. Agreed. Everyone has their favorite. First, there is the choice of crust. Do you like your’s thin and crispy, hand tossed, folded over New York style, or Chicago deep dish? Some restaurants now even offer gluten-free crust. What about the sauce? Tomato based red or creamy white. Finally, meats, veggies, or both? There are literally hundreds of ways to combine ingredients to create your perfect pizza.

In some ways, it is hard to beat the classic cheese pizza. This pie is always a winner, even with children having the most finicky palettes. 

Perhaps no other topping invokes a visceral passion amongst pizza lovers as anchovies. You may love or hate them, but you can’t say they aren’t flavorful. Why do pizzerias offer anchovies, even though no one ever orders them?

Italian tradition

According to slate.com; Italians have been putting fish on bread for at least 2,000 years. Ancient Romans topped their flatbreads with garum, a ubiquitous condiment made of fermented fish parts. And fish was one of the toppings for pizza when the dish was first developed. This happened in Naples during the late-18th and early-19th centuries. The original varieties were: 

  • Bianca, with olive oil and salt
  • Margherita, with milled preserved tomatoes 
  • con Pomodoro, with sliced tomatoes, and 
  • Marinara, with tomatoes and anchovies. 

These pizzas were peasant food, and anchovies made an ideal topping—they were cheap, plentiful, and could be preserved almost indefinitely in oil and salt. Pizza marinara got its name from Neapolitan sailors. There’s no indication they ever asked for green peppers or pork products on their pies.

I inherited my love of anchovy pizza from my father. Dad and uncle Lester used to order Pizza Marinara from a traditional Italian pizzeria In Springfield called Neapolitan’s. It is my favorite to this day.

Posted in Current Events | 7 Comments