Eye-Opening Perspectives for Heroic Hearts

Eye-Opening Perspectives for Heroic Hearts

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Jonathan Mould's Gift Molds Boston Reaction To Stradivarius

Benedetti Gift Fiddles With Ragged Dick Duet

by Sophia Nostra Damaston for CPW News Service

      Nicola Benedetti, Scotland’s renowned 24 year old violin virtuoso has been given a gift.   A very rare gift.  Jonathan Mould, head of the Bank of America’s European, African and Middle Eastern branches owns a rare Stradivarius violin worth more than $2,000,000.  To the younger Benedetti who won the 2004 Young Musician of the Year award, Mr. Moulds lent the violin over four years ago.
        Not to be outdone, Jason B. Priestly, Chairman of the Greater Boston Community Credit Union, a collector of rare historical musical combs and spoons has lent the hair comb of Horatio Alger and the solid silver teaspoons played by abolitionist orator, Frederick Douglas, to the Ragged Dick Duet, Mortimer J. Baughman and Ira G. Gravitz. 

Douglas' Musical Spoons
     The spoons were played by Mr. Douglas when he was running away from the Southern renditioners and was returned to Misery Plantation in the Alexander Brown influenced region of Maryland.  Horatio Alger played the Priestly comb when he was writing Ragged Dick and other unforgettable stories for young men and boys whose interest and confusion over the book's title sent sales of Alger's now famous stories soaring.  Valued in excess of $83,500, potentially more at auction, Mr. Priestly is delighted that the Ragged Dick Duet is putting the spoons and comb to such good use.  

Priestly's comb played
by Horatio Alger.

     "I was going to give the spoons and comb to the Smithsonian Institute until I learned that Dick Cheney and Bill Frist were on the board of the Institute whose Board of Regents is chaired by  Chief Justice John Roberts," said Priestly who was not happy about Cheney's support of extraordinary renditioning and waterboarding which contradicted the Geneva Conventions.  "Mr. Douglas would have played his spoons on Mr. Cheney's noggin' if he were living today," said Priestly who also said in an aside..."15 of the 19 World Trade Center terrorists were from Saudi Arabia and we invaded Iraq and Cheney can't see straight enough not to shoot his friend in his face."

Frederick Douglas (l), Rumsfeld's Misery Plantation (c),
Donald Rumsfeld (r).

     "Frederick Douglas also played the spoons just before his famous speech at Boston's Fenieul Hall which led African-American singer, Marion Anderson, to argue that she was not the first African-American musician to perform in the historic Boston landmark when she was denied the opportunity to sing the National Anthem there in 1939.  That incident led First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt to resign her membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution," said spoon impresario Mortimer J. Baughman who noted that Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld had dined together at Rumsfeld's Misery Plantation, the place where Frederick Douglas was renditioned following his attempted escape from slavery.  "Donald Rumsfeld bought Misery Plantation," said Baughman as he referenced Democracy Now's Amy Goodman's coverage of the Rumsfeld purchase and compared and contrasted this fact to Rumsfeld's handling of Abu Ghraib, the U.S. torture prison in Iraq.

Ira Gravitz playing Horatio Alger's musical comb
     At their concert in New Orleans last week the Ragged Dick Duet recorded their first  live album using the historic instruments. The album’s title song is “Give Us More Spoons, General Butler” a parody of a 1864 tune attributed to Civil War General Benjamin “Spoons” Butler and itself a parody of an early Mexican-American War tune titled "Give Them More Grape, Captain Bragg". 

     General  Benjamin "Spoons" Butler, a Union General during the occupation of New Orleans,  was nicknamed “Spoons” because he was always making off with the citizens' silverware, a characteristic that would be duplicated many times over during Reconstruction....."a prematurely ended artificial period after the War that could have been avoided had the Southerner's simply freed the slaves, given them 40 acres, a mule and a rifle and marched North in 1859 before the Yankees had marched South in 1860," said Baughman.   "What field slave wouldn't want a share in nice Springfield rifle arsenal or a little Park Avenue haberdashery?" he wondered. 

     "Boston's bullet maker, George Luther Stearns, one of abolitionist John Brown's "secret six" financial backers made both spoons and combs out of lead instead of silver and tortoise shell, but that business  went belly-up with the greater demand for ammunition to fight the Civil War," said Baughman.  Baughman also noted that the lead spoons gave soup a distinctively metallic taste and that the lead combs tended, like the lead spoons, to loose their shape quickly.   The lead  mining industry would not experience another such profitable era until World War I when the father of Prescott Bush and great grandfather of George W. Bush, Samuel Prescott Bush, was in charge of the U.S. military's small weapons production and after World War II when the U.S. Civil Defense plan folllowing the atomic bombing of Japan, called for Americans to paint their houses with lead paint if they hoped to avoid near instantaneous ignition during a thermo-nuclear war. 

     "George Stearns' lead spoons had no musical resonance so he made two silver spoons that Douglas lost at Misery Plantation between whippings and water boardings," said Baughman noting their eventual recovery and that the steady clickety-clack of the spoons against the a man's thigh helped a runner to keep up a steady pace.  "Those spoons meant the difference between capture and freedom for Douglas," said Baughman.   Butler seemed motivated in his accumulation of spoons by little more than kleptomania," said Baughman as he began playing a rendition of Carry Me Back To Old Virginia.

"George Luther Stearns sold lead to Baltimore's Brown family who used it to make musket balls at the Merchant's Shot Tower in Baltimore where the first test case for the Fugitive Slave Laws was focused on runaway slave and bullet maker, James Hamlet," said Baughman. "This caused many to conclude that John Brown and Alexander Brown, progenitor of the National City Bank Boys fingered by two time Medal of Honor winner, Smedley Butler, for their "business plot" in the 1930's that aligned them with Hitler's growing Axis powers, were a tag-team.  John Brown and Alexander Brown's boys appear to have been in cahoots with a plan to use the abolition of slavery to ignite a lucrative, weapons-profiteer's civil war.  Kind of like using the high road of the threat of terrorism to invade Iraq while kicking off their civil war....a money mill for the weapons-makers," said Baughman.  Baughman then suggested I read General Smedly Darlington Butler's book, War Is A Racket,  before he joined Ira Gravitz in playing a zesty arrangement of New Orlean's song writer Randy Newman's Political Science.

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