Bumbastories Weekend Magazine

This month’s Bumbastories Weekend MagazineIMG_1107 returns to haunt delight us once again with the following features and articles.

An As I Sat on the Bus Poem

A Book Review of Kurt Vonnegut’s Jailbird

A Sports Report, with words of wisdom about the Los Angeles Clippers

An unauthorized Advertisement



As I sat on the bus I wrote. The Muse of Sweet Poetry had struck me again. Poetry? Whatever it was, it had to be brief, because the darn #720 bus was bumping and thumping so much that it was hard to write anything legibly. I needed to write something concise, something endearing. Yes, endearing. Such was my intent.

An Ode to the 720

Bouncing along

Racing through that open stretch past Beverly Hills

Through the golf course

Clanking Careening

Clunking up Wilshire

To Westwood

Shaking us to our bones.

Can’t be beat



(Warning: Writers like to take this kind of stuff seriously)

Ahh, the Great American Novel: The novel that captures the spirit and tells the story of America. Ahh, the Great American Novel….According to Word Smith, the compulsively alliterating narrator of Philip Roth’s fine novel titled, that’s right, The Great American Novel, the entire world is still waiting for the great American novel to be written. In his backhanded way Roth himself shoots for the Great American Novel crown, the GAN as Word Smith liked to call it. Most fittingly, the story is about the great American game of baseball, quite an admirable effort by Roth. All the same, Melville’s Moby Dick is generally considered the G.A.N. Winesberg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson is also mentioned. I think of Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath as a GAN. Surely a minimum requirement for any GAN is that it be American. American in subject, American in values and tone.

Which brings me around to nominating Kurt Vonnegut’s “Jailbird” as a GAN. Last week I re-read Jailbird……images-1It’s a book about modern (1979) America: a farce, a satire, a scathing criticism, but somehow a friendly nod to the U.S. of A and to all of us. Vonnegut always aims to entertain, to give us a good chuckle. However, he is thoroughly political, even pedantic at times. He is up on a soapbox, or is it a vaudeville stage? Vonnegut entertains, he teaches us history, he wants to tell us what’s what, to set us straight – and to share a good laugh besides. Vonnegut, native of the great state of Indiana, was an American sort of genius. SteJ of Book to the Future who reviewed Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse 5 two weeks ago, prompted me to pick Jailbird off the library shelf, so thanks to SteJ. The book is a gem. The GAN? Maybe, maybe not. As Kurt would say, “Toodle-loo”.



The Clippers have lost. It was not an easy one for us Clippers fans to watch, the way they folded at the end and did not advance to the division finals (once again!). But never you mind. We Clippers fans are used to it. We can take it. Next season is next season. Life goes on. Wait til next year!



For info on One Life or The Lives of Chester Knowles One Life as well as The Phantom Speaks sequel, and Up in the Bronx by Stephen Baum check out the Bumba Books page.


Good News, Bad News, Good News Again

There’s good news and then there’s bad news…. And then there’s good news again. Say whatt? The good news is that my second novel One Life One Life or The Lives of Chester Knowles  is available as an ebook on Amazon Kindle for just $0.99! The bad news is that its sequel, The Phantom Speaks, is not available as an ebook. Sorry, you’ll have to read that one hard-copy, which is just as well because it has lovely illustrations. Order via Bumba Books or Amazon. Wait, there’s more good news. Because if you order The Phantom Speaks directly through the Bumba Books Paypal option, The Phantom Speaksyou will receive a complimentary copy of the author’s (that’s me) own One Life companion piece CD called Chester’s Songs. Chester’s Songs is also available as a download on CD Baby for just $0.99.   Here’s a sample from the CD called There Been Some Lonely Times

There are 11 songs on the CD, but There Been Some Lonely Times is the only song that I actually wrote. The other songs are covers of songs that appear in the book. There Been Some Lonely Times IMG_1103which appears on page 196, provides a cryptic summary of the Chester Knowles story. The other songs hopefully complement the One Life story. To the best of my knowledge, which I admit isn’t very much, this sort of book/soundtrack combination is unprecedented. For more info on One Life One Life or The Lives of Chester Knowles as well as The Phantom Speaks sequel check out the Bumba Books.

Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out

Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out.

Once I lived the life of a millionaire.

Spending my money and I didn’t care.

Taking my friends out for a mighty good time.

Buying high-price liquor, champagne and wine

“Wait a second, Bumba. You’ve already done this song on the blog a couple of times. Don’t you think it’s kind of cheap to be re-doing the same stuff again and again?”

“Well, it’s a great song. At least it’s a new recording. And, if I may be so bold to point out, it’s not some re-run UTube or a link to somebody else’s stuff. Anyhow, the song has a wonderful lyric that resonated with people during the Great Depression, and…..”

“Hold your horses, Bumba. I have another issue! Everybody knows that you were never no millionaire. Millionaire, Hah!! And everybody also knows that you’re the cheapest son of a you-know-what this side of the Tigris-Euphrates Valley….”

“Never mind. It’s a great song….”

“Acch! Come on. It’s an old, old oldie. Older even than you!”

“That’s right. Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out. was written in 1923 by Jimmy Cox. It was a hit for Bessie Smith in the 30’s. With no apologies, here’s Bumba and Maybank doing Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out. Click to hear it.



Bumbastories News Updates…… Sanders Announces!

Bernie Sanders, independent senator from the proud state of Vermont, a relentless progressive who seems to have some balls as well as brains, is going to seek the Democratic Party Nomination for the office of President of the United States. Bernie is running for president, taking on Hillary, who currently looks a bit shaky. Immediately we say that poor ol’ Bernie has no chance. Why?? Ross Perot was a viable third-party candidate and influenced the debate on the deficit. Jimmy Carter was not a household name at first. What if people (that’s us, campers) suddenly showed strong support for Bernie? What if progressive Democrats and other progressives, as well as people who simply seek a truthful representative, what if they made their presence felt?  What if they organized and supported Sen. Sanders if only to have a voice and to establish a counterweight to the present oligarchy? OK, that’s enough politics for a while. how about Up a Lazy River, played by Maybank and Bumba the other day?

**************************************** Worried: Watch Out: More Political Commentary Kurt Vonnegut, in his Preface to Breakfast of Champions offers a comical (dark, but comical), nutshell version of American history. He talks of the white pirate-marauders who got off their ships and subjugated the red people (the red people were defeated because they repeatedly underestimated the marauders’ capacity for cruelty). The white marauders then then brought over black people as slaves to work the fields for them. Kurt then goes on to analyze the absurdity of the national anthem. He concludes his summary of American history: “It was always about race”. Politics all comes down to economics, economics comes down to education and privilege, and it all comes back to race. The latest offenses in Baltimore join a long, long string of brutalities against Blacks. Perhaps video cameras will help. Transparency (or honesty as they used to call it) in government is always good, and it’s interesting to see who opposes disclosure of information. The fight for truth and justice goes on. Personally, we at Bumbastories are worried. We sung the Worried Man Blues yesterday. Click to hear.

************************************ Last month’s mid-week magazine featured a little tribute to the wizard of Bakersfield, Buck Owens. images-1Continuing in this tip-of-the-hat to Buck Owens, and also because I love to play these songs, here’s Bumba’s version of Cryin Time, another of Buck’s classics. Although Bumba recorded this version of Cryin Time two days ago, Buck Owens had a hit with it in 1965 or so I’s guess. The song was recorded famously by the great Ray Charles, whose best-selling album of the same name was widely hailed as a daring cross-over of musical styles or genres. images-1Black musicians didn’t do much country-western before Ray (and they still don’t, do they?). Ray explained that he liked to find good songs with good lyrics and it didn’t matter where it came from. Indeed, Ray was able to put his own signature on everything he did. Naturally Ray added something special to the country western scene. Ray helped to mix things up a bit, which is generally a good thing for music and for people in general.

Oh, it’s cryin’ time again, you’re gonna leave me, I can see that far away look in your eyes, I can tell by the way you hold me, darling, That it won’t be long before it’s cryin’ time, Now they say that absence Makes the heart grow fonder, And that tears are only rain to make love grow, Well my love for you could never grow no stronger, If I live to be a hundred years old, So, it’s cryin’ time again, you’re gonna leave me, I can see that far away look in your eyes, I can tell by the way you hold me, darling, That it won’t be long before it’s cryin’ time, Now you say that you’ve found someone you love better, That’s the way it’s happened every time before, And as sure as the sun comes up tomorrow, Cryin’ time will start when you walk out the door, Oh, it’s cryin’ time again, your gonna leave me, I can see that far away look in your eyes, I can tell by the way you hold me, darling, That it won’t be long before it’s cryin’ time. ************************************ Sports Update: OK, Clippers fans. It all comes down to one game tomorrow night at Staples Center. Game 7 against the reigning NBA champion San Antonio Spurs. All the games have been great. The playoffs (the first round) have been entertaining so far. And the Clippers-Spurs series has been the marque match-up, and the best one. Both teams are great. images-2 images images-1 As a Clippers fan for 25 years already, the taste success is sweet. Can the Clips move on to the next level? May the best team win. **********************************

Another Visit to The St. James Infirmary

images-3A dirge to cheer you on your way today. Wha? A sad song like St. James Infirmary provides a sense of perspective. Wha? It’ll have you whistling down the street. Wha? 

St. James Infirmary is a great, 150 year-old, minor key blues from the city of New Orleans course. Maybank and Bumba played it yesterday in Los Angeles, of course. Wha?  

John Henry

images-5It’s been a while since we sung this song. John Henry tells a great story, nay, it’s an epic, nay, a saga of heroism. (A couple more neighs and we’ll be back in the barn, which would be a stable position for sure, but hay, let’s move on. Pete Seeger said that John Henry was one of his favorites to sing. Me too.