War On Christmas?

Have you heard? Apparently there’s a “War On Christmas” – who knew? Don’t say Happy Holidays! This is Christmas time, we celebrate Christ, see his name is right there in the name of the holiday, so stop trying to take Christ out of Christmas. Stop being oppressive about our Christian holy day!

Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been a big fan of Christmas. Of course, especially when I was a child. No school, pretty lights, presents under the tree, midnight candlelight services… I can even sing ‘O come all ye faithful’ in Latin (thanks to Nat King Cole’s essential Christmas album and 2 years of Latin in high school).

The story of Mary and Joseph, the Three Kings, the star visible by day and by night – all of it sparked a delicious wonder, mystery and beauty into urban life on the south side of Chicago. And don’t get me started on the movies! The list is long.

But even as a child back in the 20th century there was talk of the commercialization of the holiday, just watch Miracle on 34th Street, released in 1947. And then when retailers started abbreviating Christmas with ‘Xmas’, the rumbling began.

Days of Summer and The Open Road

This story was first published in the July 2010 issue of Ebony Magazine.

There was only one day during summer vacations in the mid-1960’s, that I was happy to wake up early. That was the day in August when Mom got us out of bed in the pre-dawn light for The Family Road Trip. My father loved the open road and exploring sights unseen. We all got to share in his adventures.

In the weeks before the journey Mom would sew summer outfits for us girls. The night before, we laid out our clothes and went to bed early, excitement making it hard to get to sleep. But we were up before the sun because Daddy wanted to hit the road before morning traffic. A quick breakfast, leave the dishes – we didn’t even have to make our beds. And then the car or camper or whatever we had that year, was loaded up, the windows open to the August dawn and we were off, leaving the south side of Chicago behind.

Mom was the navigator. Dad the driver. I was the youngest with two older sisters and our brother, the eldest. The Dan Ryan Expressway would be nearly empty, as if the road belonged only to us.

During my childhood we traveled east to Niagara Falls and the New York Expo and north to Montreal, Canada. But it is the trips out west that I remember most.


BE author Artt Frank is busy polishing the second volume of his memoir about his friendship and collaboration with jazz great Chet Baker. Here is a SNEAK PEEK from the upcoming memoir: “Chet Baker: The Later Years.” Artt describes playing a gig with Chet (Trumpet), Drew Salperto (Piano), Mike Formanek (Bass) Artt Frank (Drums) at the Backstreet Club (New Haven, CT) in February 1980.

Burnin’ at Backstreet

“Drew announced Chet’s name and when we hit the stand, the entire room fell completely and totally silent.

Too Ethnic? (Guest Blog)

The Armchair Activist
By DeeAnn Veeder

When I was a kid, I had a dream of having a child of every race, a noble dream for a young blonde child; I thought if families were made up of every race, there wouldn’t be hatred or prejudice, and I would start with my own. Realistically, though, how many children would that be? And, well, so many men, so little time. I only made it as far afield as Italians, then I married a Jew and had two white children. Fifteen years later, I notice I’m living in a predominantly white small town. But I am not a racist. Right?