Category Archives: Music


The forerunner of the Bellis Music Camp.

Mr. Lawrence B. Bellis, music director at La Cañada Junior High School, organized an annual summer band and orchestra camp beginning in 1957. It took place shortly before the school year started. Incoming, continuing, and outgoing students were invited. Group leaders, identified by their white sailor’s caps, were alumni. The very youngest student attendees, going into the 7th grade, were not quite 12 years old, and graduates heading for 10th grade at John Muir High School were typically 15.

This 1961 event took place after the La Cañada schools separated from the Pasadena school system, and right before the start of the first year under the new organization. None of the teachers at the junior high continued with the new system.

Mr. Bellis moved to Pasadena’s Elliot Junior High, and Douglas Coe was hired to replace him at La Cañada. Both outgoing and incoming music directors worked together at this camp, easing the transition for us band and orchestra members. In addition, Olaf Frodsham of Caltech was choral director at the camp.

Lawrence B. Bellis (1907-1974)

There used to be an online bio of Mr. Bellis, but I could not find it. I do remember that he directed a band in Honolulu during the war in the 1940s, and there was a photo with the band members wearing Hawaiian shirts.

Everyone in this big photo loved Mr. Bellis, with his demanding direction of band and orchestra, but also with his sense of humor when dealing with us individually.

Click this thumbnail to enlarge.

The large photo has been divided into 14 top-to-bottom slices, numbered 1 to 14, left to right. Each slice lists its camper names and you access a slice by clicking on its thumbnail in the above group. The top row has numbers 1 to 7 and the bottom row has 8 to 14.

A few attendees have entries in wikipedia, imdb, or other locations on the web, for which links are provided. These can be seen by clicking on thumbnails 1, 4, 6, 8, 9, 11, and 14.

My copy of the big photo is creased, as is the greatly-faded roster attached to its back, but I did manage to decipher 115 of the 119 names. The school annual, Don Dias ’62, was instrumental in confirming some of them. Otherwise, the big photo actually did survive a half-century in the closet!

The 115 identified names are listed alphabetically by last name, with photo number. If you can supply any of the names, please let us know! Continue reading LA CAÑADA DONS MUSIC CAMP 1961

In Memoriam….. A Race to Final Place

rogerebert Seymour_hoffman

I’ve been meaning to write this small article as a way to encourage the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) to include Roger Ebert in their Oscar telecast. But now, with the death of Phillip Seymour Hoffman it seems  fitting to broach this subject.

AMPAS puts together a memorial section during the Oscars, to commemorate and celebrate the lives of those that have  passed the previous year. We would normally see a montage of movie stars and famous directors accompanied by stirring music. Once in a while you’d see a famous producer, and that was OK also. This year I expect to see the big names such as Peter O’Toole and Paul Walker.

But recently this memorial presentation has been getting strange. We’ve been getting listings for publicists, agents, technical tradesmen and even some writers (gasp!). I understand losing someone like Jerry Goldsmith (for music)  or someone like Edith Head (for wardrobe) and including them in the montage makes sense. But a publicist? What’s next, casting directors?1 And stop putting in people that made 1 film but were famous in some other field (Michael Jackson comes to mind).

Movies are a visual medium. Unless the person is in front of the camera, or controlling that camera, or making news outside of the movie industry (say, TV or music) so that they are familiar to us, don’t include them. Wardrobe and art direction are something we can see on the screen; include those folks.

Having said that, now I have to make a case to include Roger Ebert2.  He was an amazing writer and he wrote about movies. Even in his non-movie essays, he’d find a way to reference movies, to show how movies changed his life. He championed good movies and good movie-viewing technology. He fought  against the evils of colorization and Bowdlerization and was a promoter of film to the very end. He should be included.

And what the heck, put Phillip Seymour Hoffman in also, event though his passing was in 2014 and outside of the scope of the memorial.

  1. Jiminy, they put in a casting director and omit some of the stars from Star Trek? Heresy !! []
  2. His website is still one of the best places to read about film (both new and old) and essays about  diverse interesting subjects. If you miss his writing, like I do, go over there and feast on decades of his brilliant  essays and reviews. []

Steve Jobs 1955-2011; too soon for jokes?

Logo created by a Hong Kong student. Click for more information.

It’s true, I never was a big Apple fan. I got my kids iPods because they relentlessly kept on asking. Oh, and the players were free when I signed up for a bank account (back in the day).

I inherited the old iPods and am using one today. They are not bad devices: easy to use and pretty to look at. But they are overpriced and I hate having to use iTunes to access my music. I hate being sold new material at every turn. I would love to have a simple drag-and-drop interface.

Sure there were MP3s before the iPod. I don’t blame Steve Jobs for making lossy music palatable. But I don’t share in the global outporing of grief that’s on every TV, computer and iPlatform in the world, either.

And Steve Jobs has a family that’s going thru the grieving process. So why start these tasteless Steve Jobs jokes? We may as well ask why we climb Mt. Everest. It’s because we can.

And you have to admit that it takes talent to make a clever joke about a sad, troubling situation. Sort-of like those improvisation shows where a performer is asked to make a joke about starving Somalians. A very poor-taste request, but also a challenge.

So here’s some jokes about the death of the iconic founder of Apple and the creator of the greatest devices in the world:

  • I hear President Obama has been implicated in the passing of the iconic Apple founder…
    his economic policies killed jobs.


  • Steve Jobs’ funeral will feature a private viewing for his many fans.
    As each person passes in front of the casket, they’ll pay 99 cents.

This is not Lords of Acid (or even Praga Khan), but it’s the first new thing in years to make me think of them. Clearly they influenced the remix. The good news is that LOA is supposed to release a new album this year. The bad news is that you probably missed their March tour with My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult.

Richard Vission & Static Revenger – I Like That (Adam F Dubstep Remix)

Guitar Heroine

My sister bought me Rock Band 2 for Christmas. I’m a little late to the rhythm beat-style game phenomenon, but I was instantly hooked and so was my wife and kids. So much so, that I went driving all around the next weekend looking for a second guitar since there’s four of us in the house, but the game ‘only’ comes with one guitar, a microphone and a drum set. The following weekend, I got the cymbal attachments for my drum-set. “I call drums!”
We now have a room pretty much devoted to this game.
Last Saturday (with a little alcohol) we played the game from 8pm until 3am. Kids too.
I’m telling ya…, hooked up to a nice tv with a good sound setup, you easily feel as if you are really playing that shit.
Which brings me to my point.
I FEEL as though I am playing but I KNOW I am not.
I have no delusions that I am actually a rock star despite my hours of fake drumming. None at all. Yes I feel that MAYBE I have a better sense of timing. Yes MAYBE I have a better understanding of using both hands and feet while following a beat. BUT I AM NO ROCK STAR. I CAN NOT PLAY DRUMS.
I am so sick of hearing mediocre musicians (and the media) criticize people who play the game.
They make blanket statements like this: “Guitar Hero punks who think they can really play guitar.”
Lets get something straight. NO ONE WHO PLAYS THESE GAMES, BELIEVES THEY CAN REALLY PLAY AN INSTRUMENT BECAUSE OF IT. NO ONE. Please show me ONE person, just one, who truly thinks this way because I have yet to see it.
As soon as I put the band controllers down, I return to my no-music-talent world of dullness, and I am fully aware of it.
Why all the hate over these music games?
You never hear NASA criticize people for playing Mass Effect. “So what, you think your some kind of astronaut now?”
Nor does the NFL come down on anyone. “Look at him playing Madden 09,… he thinks he’s a real football player!”

Hell, even those people who do that role playing with costumes don’t get as much flak. And they are throwing tennis balls in place of Magic Missiles! However, when the costume comes off, the player doesn’t continue to believe they are really wizards.

I will admit that one time while mixing prescription meds and playing Nintendo, I was pretty sure I was Mario. I did a lot of damage to my house with a hammer that day…

Anyway, to all the insecure musicians out there…
Look, I’m sorry that when I press four buttons on a guitar shaped joystick, that it somehow attacks your thrashing credibility.
Maybe if you stopped worrying about what I do in my living room and started practicing more, you’d actually get laid. and believe me, once you get laid for the first time, you will forget all about Guitar Hero.
Let me know how it works out.