Existential Stuff


February 11, 2014

Now, we got a lot of reaction to last week’s piece about good ol’ Ennis Shalit and the invention of the Cobb Salad!  Apparently, there are some Doubting Thomas’s and Skeptical Susan’s out there who took issue with my account. This is America and I welcome all of these engaged voices!  As the late, great Arthur Treacher once said, “The only time to start complainin’ is when they stop complainin’!” Listen, friends: I just call ‘em like I hear ‘em.  Like my idols, Joseph Mitchell, Jimmy Breslin, Paul Harvey, and Lee Leonard, I am a collector of stories; The Big Apple is full of ‘em, and your humble correspondent is here with an old spiral notebook and a sharpened pencil takin’ notes.

Now, as you know, I took over this column in 1966 from its’ creator, the amazin’ Kermit Roosevelt Clinton-Henry, whose work was so admired in this parish that the city fathers named not one but two streets after him. The rest is history, and I am proud to be part of such an estimable legacy of accuracy and mirth.

Nevertheless, I will be the first to confess I am human and I do make mistakes.  So this week, I’m gonna do something I’ve never done before:  note some of my errors of the last 38 years.  As Brooklyn’s own Walt Whitman said, “All faults may be forgiven of him who has perfect candor.”  So here goes (oh, and I’ve noted the original publication date of the column):

*  Borough Hall did not get it’s name from the burros that originally grazed there (6/11/94).

 *  The word “semitic” descends from Shem, the eldest son of Noah and Emzara, not from Shemp, the third born son of Solomon and Jennie Horowitz (5/4/02).

Walt Disney’s Fantasia was not “in part” based on The Protocols of the Elders of Zion  (11/10/70).

*  Moe Berg, the second-string baseball catcher of the 1920s/30s who was also an Atomic spy (and who came within a hairs’ breadth of assassinating German physicist Werner Heisenberg), played for the Boston Red Sox, not the Boston Braves  (5/28/84).

*  During the manpower crisis of the First World War, trains on the IRT subway line were not manned by monkeys “most” of the time  (10/8/09).

*  The German title of Billy Crystal’s 1992 film, Mr. Saturday Night, was not Crystalnacht.

*  My statement that French Fries were “neither French nor Fried” was not entirely accurate  (8/2/80).

*  Funnyman Jerry Lewis did not have a stillborn twin named Jesse Garon Levitch (7/5/94).

 *  Speaking of the King of Comedy, there is no convincing evidence that in the early 1990s he was planning a sequel to The Geisha Boy exploring the “dark side” of Mr. Wooley, to be titled The Day Watanabe Cried, (10/26/93).

*  In my second-ever column (published on 3/5/66), I gave a misleading account of the censorship controversy surrounding the Disney film That Darn C**t.  The film, starring Don Knotts, Dean Jones, Roddy McDowell, Kathleen Freeman, Ed Wynn, and Clint Howard, was withdrawn from circulation not because of the somewhat risqué title, but because of a brief scene in which Clint Howard held hands with an African American child.

THE THREE-DOT ROUNDUP will be back next week!   Thank you for letting l’il ol’ me air some of my dirty laundry, and I am quite sure you very, very kind people will forgive me, AND THAT’S WHY I LOVE LIVING IN BROOKLYN! 

(Mr. Sommer’s opinions and grasp of reality are entirely his own)

Tim Sommer has been employed to varying degrees of gainfulness as a musician, record producer, DJ, VJ, and music industry executive.   This spring he will be in a bookstore near you with his co-author Paul Sherman promoting their new work, Dick Sargent:  Second Darrin But First in Our Hearts, and he continues his efforts to get the New York Yankees to rename Yankee Stadium after one of their best and bravest, Mr. Elston Howard. 



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