Friday, November 2, 2018


Born in New York City, he was orphaned when young and entered a mercantile house. While still a child, he showed a talent for writing poems. He was educated at Columbia College. In 1813 he began studying in a physician's office. In 1816 he began to practice medicine and in the same year married Sarah, daughter of Henry Eckford, a naval architect.
In 1819, together with his friend and fellow poet Fitz-Greene Halleck, he wrote a series of satirical verses for the New York Evening Post, which were published under the penname "The Croakers." Drake died of consumption a year later at the age of twenty-five.
As a writer, Drake is considered part of the "Knickerbocker group", which also included Halleck, Washington IrvingWilliam Cullen BryantJames Kirke PauldingGulian Crommelin VerplanckRobert Charles SandsLydia M. Child, and Nathaniel Parker Willis.[1] A collection, The Culprit Fay and Other Poems, was published posthumously by his daughter in 1835. His best-known poems are the long title-poem of that collection, and the patriotic "The American Flag" which was set as a cantata for two soloists, choir and orchestra by the Czech composer Antonín Dvořák in 1892-93.[2] "The Culprit Fay" served as the inspiration for a 1908 orchestral rhapsody of the same name by Henry Kimball Hadley.[3]
Fitz-Greene Halleck's poem "Green be the turf above thee" was written as a memorial to Drake. Joseph Rodman Drake Park in Hunts Point, Bronx, was named for him in 1915.[4] This park has received $180,000 of New York State funding to memorialize slave workers likely to be buried there.[5]

                Late at night, over too many Rum & Snapple, I run across this. I'm reading on line all of my new novel's heroine's husband's columns from 1874 to around 1879 in Scribner's Monthly when my novel ends, looking for tidbits. This is a poem written off the top of his head (Helena's Grandfather to his buddy.) It honestly reads like something out of Shakespeare- he had that ear and grace of ease with the rhyme. He was Joseph Drake -wrote "The Culprit Fay" early 1800s poet. This probably was never published anywhere but in this column. Not that anyone gives a hoot. Read it aloud if you are into the language. If not go to bed.

Monday, October 1, 2018


                               Jams. So Thursday night I go out, up to the Art Gallery in Santa Monica because the owner invited me up again to his very odd free form music things, which can be very challenging and interesting, where the musicians are freely creating music to go with the paintings he has on exhibit. Some of the folks are very gifted and its fun to interact on an entire free form level and It's turned out some interesting things. No one showed but me. So we visited and I decided I would go to the bluegrass jam at the Mar Vista Market since I was out and ready to do something anyway. I haven't been to any kind of jam for a while now. I was going to the one at the Mar Vista Market, but it had gotten weird and negative and I just quit. I don't sing at jams. I perform 50 -60 times a year, singing and playing with my banjo, with whatever skill set I have. I wanted to practice my banjo skill set and develop my ear. I have a lot of respect for people I understand are better players than I am. So, there's a banjo player that's in his seventies that knows it all. Got a great gift, knows every lick Earl ever played. Anyway, he says where you been? I mutter something about the band I play with has been doing gigs and I did a lot of County Fairs this summer. And he moves away. I did free videos for some of these folks, got nothing in return. Passed on some gigs to others, got zilch. Brought in a flyer for a gig we were doing at The Mint, and was questioned and got a beer set on top of them. And had nobody show. I've brought Cds in to give away. and was treated like I was black plague.
                               I know what I am. I am the guy that his teacher just diagramed today why my downbeat note on my banjo roll doesn't start where its supposed to start. I'm the guy that goes to a teacher because I am still having problems hearing what I am playing and composing. I chart everything because I still have have problems with my recording genius guy in expressing what I'm trying to compose. I'm the guy that the banjo player next to me moves away from, because I'm doing something weird and annoying. I still get a whole lot of invites to go hear someone I used to play with, perform somewhere. Like really? It's been years now since anyone I know has shown up to one of my gigs. But I guess it don't really matter. I've known all along that your friends won't build anything for you. They are mostly just trying to stay afloat like you are. Right now I'm playing at a Swap Meet in Whittier, which is great therapy. People come and throw money in my tip jar, people tell me they like me. One guy came over and said I sounded like somebody's radio playing. Who really needs friends or ex-friends (the long list of people who used to sit next to me and play) Trust the money in the jar, is what I think. You guys out there that have been throwing money at me, are really my best friends. I come home with fifty or hundred, well that means a hell of lot more than some manager of an event that doesn't think you sound like John Denver.