Last two in December of 2016
- A Contract with God and other tenement stories, Will Eisner
- Very good, of course.
- Harlem Heyday, Jack Schiffman
- History of the Apollo Theatre. Pretty good. Some parts are very list-y: "...and then we had so-and-so, and then such-and-such, and also blah-blah and bloo-bloo, and they were all big stars." Would benefit from some more editing. Also incredibly frustrating how the pictures sometimes don't seem to match the text.
Christopher Columbus was used to change acts during amateur night at the Apollo, with the acts truckin' off. (page 101)
Ella's first appearance at amateur night (at the Harlem Opera House, before it was moved to the Apollo) also makes an appearance, complete with variant tellings. (page 103) Did Chick Webb really suggest to Frank Schiffman that he sign Ella? It's not the more common story (with Bardu Ali telling Chick about Ella), but who knows?
A claimed etymology of "Ballin' the Jack":
The Jack was the locomotive in black jargon; ballin' or high ballin' was the fist-clenched signal to start the train, a signal adopted by Black Power advocatesThe last bit seems tenuous.
And a surprising mention of Texas Tommy and its relation to Lindy Hop:
In Darktown Follies, a dance called the Texas Tommy was performed. It was the earliest precursor of the Lindy Hop, replete with female partners flying through the air, double and triple steps, and it was the first dance in which the dancers separated. That element, known as the "break," added a new dimension in freedom and individual expression to the dance; it has stayed with it ever since. Almost without exception, the jazz-dance routines of today evolved out of the Lindy Hop, and the beginning of that parlay was the old Texas Tommy.