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Author Frank Mastropolo

As the Vietnam War escalated in the mid-1960s and more young men were drafted into the military, protest songs became more mainstream.  Once a staple of folk music, like Phil Ochs’ I Ain’t Marching Anymore, anti-war songs like Barry McGuire’s Eve of Destruction now hit number one on the Billboard charts. The 1970 film Woodstock introduced perhaps the era’s greatest protest song: Country Joe and the Fish’s I-Feel-Like-I’m Fixin’-To-Die Rag.   The song is written in the voice of a military recruiter/carnival barker (with an outrageous hurdy-gurdy organ accompaniment) who encourages young men to join the fight, then invites parents…

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Thanksgiving is immediately followed by a brutal month of Christmas music overload. They’re inescapable; every radio station, department store, and building lobby pummels us with treacly tunes of the season.  So when a great song rises above the holiday hype, it deserves recognition. Such is the Drifters version of the yuletide classic White Christmas. Bing Crosby’s 1942 version of the Irving Berlin classic is perhaps still the most memorable –  recorded for the movie Holiday Inn.  As American soldiers shipped out to fight overseas, the song’s story of wishing to be home for Christmas touched millions, and White Christmas would…

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ARTICLE AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY FRANK MASTROPOLO Though it ran for only one season, 1955-56, The Honeymooners remains one of the pivotal sitcoms in television history.   Jackie Gleason played his most famous character — bus driver Ralph Kramden — who torments his long-suffering wife Alice (Audrey Meadows) with get-rich-quick schemes that never succeed.  The Kramdens live in a dingy apartment in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn; upstairs reside their best friends, wacky sewer worker Ed Norton (Art Carney) and his wife Trixie (Joyce Randolph). Gleason and the show’s writers liberally salted the scripts with both fictional and real-life spots in…

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One Toke Over the Line by folk rock duo Brewer & Shipley was released in 1970 in an atmosphere of anti-war demonstrations and crackdowns on drug users. The song would become Michael Brewer and Tom Shipley’s biggest hit; so big that it caught the attention of Vice President Spiro Agnew, who termed the song – along with the Byrds’ Eight Miles High and Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit — “blatant drug-culture propaganda” that “threatens to sap our national strength.” Despite its marijuana references, the song somehow was performed on that bastion of wholesome American music, The Lawrence Welk Show. Produced by…

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In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, here are 10 tips to help you survive a natural disaster that you won’t hear from local officials. 1. At the first sign of trouble, get to the liquor store before it closes. Stock up. You’ll prefer sitting in the dark drunk. 2. Next, clean out the local bodega of vital supplies like bottled water. Make multiple trips. If the shopkeeper raises the issue of, oh, hoarding, become outraged and tell him you work at an orphanage. 3. Forget flashlights, they burn through batteries too fast. Get candles. In fact, make them votive candles…

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New York City’s small neighborhood groceries of the 1950s, while run by friendly shopkeepers named “Pop,” were cramped affairs with wilted vegetables, bruised fruit and dusty, dented canned foods. Though he had a good run, Pop couldn’t compete with the arrival of supermarkets from the suburbs – their brightly lit, expansive aisles brimming with choices. At its grand opening in my neighborhood, A&P gave kids free banks that looked like bags of their freshly ground coffees: Eight O’Clock, Red Circle and the scary Bokar; with each purchase, moms earned sheets of Plaid Stamps, an alien form of currency that, when…

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Bruce Springsteen surprised fans in 2010 when he joined local band Timepiece at a Farmingdale, New Jersey club for a rousing rendition of Wilson Pickett’s Mustang Sally. Not that Bruce covering that song should be any great surprise:  In the history of music has there been another song played more often by more bands (at least in bars) than “that Mustang Sally song?”  Probably not. 2012 marks the 45th anniversary of the release of The Wicked Pickett’s classic, so Rock Cellar Magazine tracked down a couple of the musicians who helped make Mustang Sally a classic – Sir Mack Rice…

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Dogs & cats make their way into the average Internet user’s mind every 0.4 seconds. Okay, we made that statistic up, but it DOES seem realistic, doesn’t it? It’s hard to go for more than 5 minutes on the Web without seeing an irresistible cat video or a shot of a mischievous dog tearing up a couch. As a tribute, we gathered 11 of our favorite songs about cats and dogs from over the years – yes, we’re including both, so even the most discerning cat fanatics can see if they’re moved by any of these pooch-related tunes. These are…

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Farewell, Hollywood. Original, creative storylines, plots, and movie concepts have gone the way of the View-Master – replaced by flashy, style-over-substance monstrosities about CGI transforming-robot battles, cartoonish critters dancing to contemporary hip-hop songs, and vapid remakes of movies that didn’t need remakes in the first place. The latest trend of the conglomerate movie machine? Turning our beloved board games, which we all spent years playing with when we were kids, into movies. Yes, Battleship is a real thing. Sure, it might be “loosely based” on the classic game, but it is still produced by Hasbro. The company has already recouped…

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