Welcome to the Nostalgic Ramber

Hans Jeff Borger is heard on WRGE 97.9 FM in Ocala, FL featuring Christian programming.

"The Nostalgic Rambler" radio show previously heard on Gene Martin & Friends has been suspended due to my commitments at WRGE.

Why a blog? I wrote a book "The Little Grownup: a nostalgic Michigan boyhood" which should appeal to most baby boomers. A mass market book? Well, not yet...but the potential is there! (Be sure to buy it at "finer on line bookstores" everywhere!)

The comments presented in "The Nostalgic Rambler" probably won't be of interest to the masses...anymore. If grandma and grandpa and their friends were still alive, then it would be a different story.

I live in the past. My time warp is a comfortable cocoon even if it sometimes drives my wife crazy. The music of the 1940s and 50s, the stars of those days were big stuff in their day, but are now almost forgotten. Oddly enough, I was born in '64 so those iconic years were for the most part over by that time.

Through "The Nostalgic Rambler" I maybe can help share my love and knowledge for those times and things...all at one time important pieces of Americana but now a bit faded in memory.

The woman who did the blog about cooking all of Julia Childs' French Cuisine Cookbook in a year got a sweet movie deal out of her blog experience. I wouldn't mind that but would be happy to know that you are reading this....and maybe enjoying my time warp, too.

Hans Jeff Borger

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Perry's back, but....Missing those old Christmas specials

Run to Amazon or your local mall store and pick up the Nostalgic Rambler gem find of the month, the dvd release of Perry Como's Christmas Show. It looks like its already on backorder at the official website, so maybe that's a good sign that they are selling?

This CBS classic from 1974 features Perry, The Carpenters, ice skating star Peggy Fleming and Rich Little (doing an impression of Jack Benny as a mall Santa Claus!). This release is done by mpi home video and is not your usual public domain blurry crapola we usually have to put with to see a good old show. We are even treated to a commentary by Richard Carpenter about Perry Como and his Christmas legacy. It features some COLOR excerpts from Perry's television shows (nice to see they are locked away someplace and not lost...now if we could only see ALL of them and not just a few snippets!). Anyhow, hope you buy this dvd so we can get more them. It's copyrighted by Perry's company Roncom, so maybe there is still a light in the office somewhere and we will see more of this in the future. One can only hope. 
It was good to see Perry as well as the Carpenters again.

It's been a while since we've had some really good CHRISTmas specials on television. In fact, it's been years.  Too bad some of the old "specials" aren't shown on TV anymore. Bing Crosby's CHRISTmas specials were always stellar. Bob Hope was one of my favorites. I guess some people still must recall those glory days of CHRISTmas programming. There is even a Bob Hope ornament out:
 For years Bob's show was on for Texaco and he did a lot of the commercials. Of course his wife Delores usually made a cameo appearance as he sang "Silver Bells" to her.

It's a few weeks off but since things usually get a bit hectic around here, I want to wish you a very merry CHRISTmas!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

I'm a TV Producer?!: The Mark Raisch Show

 Anyone who knows me knows that if I had the money I would buy a radio station.  Now I will have even more lofty goals and become a TV producer. Recently we spent a wonderful evening at the Ocala Hilton to enjoy the music of Mark Raisch. The guy is very entertaining in the spirit of the great singers of the past such as Bobby Darin or Dean Martin. 

Why no one picks up a guy like this and fashions a musical variety TV series around him is beyond me. Since everything old is new again eventually, I am using this edition of my blog to create such a series in my mind. Hope you enjoy the vision and perhaps enjoy the fun I had thinking of this new TV series "The Mark Raisch Show".

"The Mark Raisch Show" premiering December 14th 2013 on CBS produced by: Nostalgic Rambler Productions/Jeff Borger
Guest stars: Susan Boyle, Michael Buble',  The original cast of The Waltons, Lucie Arnaz, The Punchy Players

Mark opens the show with a rousing rendition of Bobby Darin songs
Mark welcomes the audience and viewers to his show, tells a little about himself and the fact that he hopes to bring great music and entertainment back to American television. He then says his producer has re-created several iconic sets from previous singers which will be used on his new weekly show. The first set is the 1960s living room set used by Dean Martin on his TV show.
Dean in his living room
Mark shows the audience the re-created Dean set and his first guest Michael Buble' joins him to talk about Dean and sing a duet of Dean's songs.
Punchy Players
Next they both talk about what it would have been like to work with Dean. Through the magic of the Punchy Players, a clever fantasy segment is created with old footage from Dean's show used to incorporate Mark and Michael into the picture. 

The show continues with Mark talking about the upcoming CBS "I Love Lucy" color Christmas special. Lucie Arnaz talks to Mark about the show, they watch an excerpt and they both sing a duet of Christmas favorites.
Lucy Christmas

Mark says the last part of the show is going to be a tradition old fashioned Christmas. The original cast of the Waltons joins him on a re-created set of the Walton's living room. They reminisce a bit about the beloved show and read the gospel story of Christmas from the Bible (What? The Bible being read on network tv in 2013? Hey, it's my fantasy so why not do it the way I want it!?)

The Waltons reunited

Susan Boyle sings a solo on O Holy Night, then the entire cast join Mark and Susan for a sing a long of Christmas favorites.

Mark thanks the audience as the credits roll. The show is rated #1 for the week and the series is off to a great start. Upcoming shows will include guests such as Carol Burnett, Kathie Lee Gifford, Harry Connick Jr, and from the UK Matthew Long who will join Mark on a re-created Perry Como set to sing some Como favorites.
Perry's set featured these big letters, a music stand, stool, and rose in a vase

I hope you enjoyed this look at the Mark Raisch Show. While we wait for CBS to give us the go ahead, you might want to visit Mark's website and order a cd or two.

Here is a pic of me (left) with Mark (far right) along with Gene Martin and the other Daystar Radio announcers at the Ocala Hilton that night.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Eden Ahbez, 1940s Nature Boy

One of my favorite songs is "Nature Boy" written by Eden Ahbez. You can listen to the Nat King Cole version by clicking here.

Ahbez was quite a character. In the 1940s he had what was the 1960s hippie look. He was cast into the limelight and even made LIFE magazine.

Here's a rare video featuring Ahbez followed by Nat singing with Pat Boone singing the famed composition. 

I don't need to try to provide any info on Ahbez. As I was researching this blog I found out that he inspires a whole blog alone!  Well worth an interesting visit, you can visit that here.

The main thing I hope you get out of this Nostalgic Rambler posting is that "the greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just be loved and be loved in return...."

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Renaissance Man Gene Martin brings Big Band Music back to Ocala


I love the music of the 1940s-50s-60s ever since I raided by grandpa's record library as a kid. My mom's Magnovox record player was a fascination. This is what it looked like:
I also got a little radio on Christmas and I always searched out the radio stations that played that kind of music.
Here I am with my grandma and sister one Christmas long ago -- Note that my gift was my first radio!

 Sharing that music has always been fun. The best job I ever had was at a radio station in Gainesville, Florida, WLUS. In the early 1990s the music was stored on huge reel to reel tapes. I put together their entire music library and for years my personal record collection was broadcast over the air.

Later,  for several years I hosted a Saturday night big band radio show on WMFQ in Ocala, Florida. The audience response was very positive as people tuned in week after week to reminsce about the music they knew.

During that time Gene Martin played similar music on WRZN, a station in Hernando. He was the best. I admired Gene for his great music selection and I was very pleased when he came on my show and I visited his show.

Several other stations played "our" kind of music, but soon the broadcast "landscape" changed. WLUS played my music library for years but eventually the owners changed the format to country. At WMFQ where I did my Saturday night show, new owners promised no changes but when they took over most of the staff was let go. No place for a Saturday night show, either.

One by one the stations that played the hits of the 40s to the 60s fell by the wayside -- except for Gene Martin. He held on the longest. Finally the station he was on -- WRZN -- changed formats, too.

Gene didn't fade out like most of us did. I call him the Renaissance Man. First Gene took his show on line 24 hours a day via his own website. It was a labor of love and financial commitment to run. Now anyone anywhere in the world could listen to his music on the internet. He resurrected my radio career as well as the "Nostalgic Rambler Radio Show" was born.  But Gene missed the immediacy of local over the air radio.

Gene never gave up. He was always looking for a way to get his music on local "over the air" radio. He worked the Gene Martin magic and now as of September 2013 once again he is on the air every Saturday -- all day -- on a pretty powerful FM station Daystar 89.5 in Ocala. The Nostalgic Rambler is part of the offerings on his "Gene Martin and Friends" presentation from 2-4pm.

How he did all of this is a mystery to me. The rest of the week this station airs what I would call a Christian Rock/Rap format-- culture shock for big band lovers and I'm sure the feeling is likewise for those folks listening to that and hearing Perry Como instead!

What's next for the Renaissance Man? I'm sure Gene will continue to amaze us all as he continues to help us all promote and share the greatest music ever recorded.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Day I Met Desi Arnaz

I have started another blog for various postings about Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, one of my life long obsessions! You can visit the blog at www.LucyArchives.blogspot.com or click here.  I don't intend to re-post everything I post there on The Nostalgic Rambler, but thought you might especially enjoy this blog entry.....

An excerpt from my book "The Little Grownup: A Nostalgic Michigan Boyhood" available at bookstores on line everywhere or order here.  The year was about 1976. I was 12 years old. We were living in a suburb of Detroit, Michigan.

"The 1950s sitcom "I Love Lucy" was my obligatory viewing every weeknight. Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz became my idols. Although the reruns were still quite popular, no one had tapped into the huge marketing of Lucy products so pervasive today. That didn't frustrate me!  I produced my own fan articles. Cutting out a picture of the Arnazes, I sent it to a poster company and had my own poster made for my bedroom. I had a sweatshirt produced with the words "Lucy-Desi Power" emblazoned on it. I was a fan.

Channel 50 was my Lucy station and their studios were just up the road a bit from Grandma and Grandpa's house. I thought it would be a great place to work some day. Broadcasting sounded like the future I had picked for myself. Not only did they show "I Love Lucy" on a regular basis, Desi Arnaz had also made a recent appearance there on the "Lou Gordon Show." Gordon had a sometimes controversial talk show interviewing various local and national celebrities and politicians.  I was in heaven when Arnaz came to Detroit to promote his autobiography entitled "A Book." I tried calling into the show when his interview came on, but found out it had been pre-taped.

These were bookmarks promoting the book that day.
My book "The Little Grownup: A nostalgic Michigan boyhood"

The good news was that he was going to be at Northland Mall to sign his new book. Of course I pestered Ma to no end and she agreed to take me to the book signing. It was a once in a lifetime meeting for me. Mr. Arnaz had accomplished so much during his lifetime, marrying the beautiful Lucy, starring and producing in their landmark series, and owning the famed Desilu Studios.

The man at the mall was still larger than life but a bit saddening. He hadn't aged well and certainly didn't look like Ricky Ricardo anymore. He still did have the same hat Ricky wore. He had a cigar in one hand and a glass of beer close by as he graciously chatted with the fans and signed their books. I asked him if he would ever return to television in a special with Lucy. He said "I would love to, but it's up to her." He signed my copy of his book "To Hans, Gracious! Desi Arnaz." I also brought along a copy of an "I Love Lucy" biography written by someone else. He hesitated signing it at first, saying it was full of mistakes. He then inscribed it "I forgive the author," and signed his name.

This was the only book on the market about "I Love Lucy" when Desi's book came out.

Desi didn't think much of this book but autographed it anyway. Years later the author Bart Andrews himself autographed it for me and added "I accept"...whatever THAT meant!

My prized autograph (using my legal name!)

Unfortunately we didn't bring a camera along. I'm sure the picture of me with white haired Desi Arnaz would have become a full sized poster, too!"

Added comment: Somewhere I must still have the audio cassette tape I recorded off of the tv with Lou Gordon talking to Desi. As I recall Lou kept grilling Desi about his "girlfriends" and Desi was not amused. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Excellent Crooner and Organist Earl Grant

Nat "King" Cole was one of the smoothest singers around. He also played a pretty mean piano. In the shadows of Nat was another talented musician named Earl Grant. He had a similar voice and also played the piano as well as the organ.

Nat seems to have almost vanished from the memory of today's music scene, except where his daughter Natalie tries to keep it alive. Poor Mr. Grant has vanished altogether, so today's Nostalgic Rambler blog wants to bring his music to the forefront.

One of the most beautiful melodies and lyrics I've ever heard is the song "The End" sung by Earl Grant recorded for Decca in 1957. It was a top ten hit. Listen to it by clicking here and see how magical this classic record is. What a beautiful love song. Romance at its finest. I'm not kidding.

Nat sang some songs in Spanish. I was surprised to find that Earl sang his hit "The End" in German! Listen to his version in German here!

Oddly enough even though Earl Grant had similar talents as Nat "King" Cole, he also jumped on the Cole bandwagon as well and recorded an album entitled "Earl Grant Sings And Plays Songs Made Famous By Nat King Cole."  I wonder if Nat ever sang "The End?" Would have been nice to hear his rendition.

Swingin' Gently was an instrumental hit for Earl Grant. It's pretty catchy. You can listen to it here.

Earl Grant was a star that dimmed in an instant. He died at the age of 39 in a car accident back in 1970.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

I Love Lucy in Color coming to CBS?!

Since its inception my all time favorite TV show has been broadcast in black and white. That's the way "I Love Lucy" was filmed in the 1950s. It seems frozen in time that way. Safe. Nostalgic. And unfortunately for today's younger set a turn off.

We have had several younger visitors over the years from Germany, where "I Love Lucy" isn't well known at all. Invariably when I show them the program here, they groan "Oh, it's in black and white?!" They begrudgingly sit through the first few minutes until they realize how funny the show is. Then they can't get enough.

As you very well know (if you read this blog regularly) I don't have much interest or patience for today's television. Why can't CBS just show "I Love Lucy" in prime time like they did in the 1950s? Well, according to a couple of websites I found, "I Love Lucy" is returning to CBS prime time ICOLOR!  

Unfortunately not all of the 180 shows will be colorized, but it's a start. According to the rumors CBS will air two shows on December 20th 2013  including the famous grape stomping episode. I hope the rumors are true.

Several years back CBS aired a colorized version of the Lucy Christmas special which garnered huge ratings. Lots of fans squawked at the color scheme as it wasn't true to the original set. It sounds like they are going to re-do that show to make it look more realistic.
I'm sure if Desi Arnaz had had color capability in 1951 we'd be watching the show in color for years. CBS has milked millions out of the black and white shows, so why not rejuvenate it by colorizing? I'm looking forward to it. 
Colorized or original, it beats anything they can come up with today. 

And for those of you who want to see Lucy and Desi in color today, they starred in two color pictures for MGM, The Long Long Trailer and Forever Darling.

And as always remember "I Love Lucy" is a Desilu Production!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

America's Greatest Gospel Singer Mahalia Jackson

This week I was asked to do the "children's story" at my church. Usually the kids don't pay too much attention to me and this time was no exception! Since I went through all of the trouble for that minimal response, you will now get to share in that research here in this new Nostalgic Rambler posting on Mahalia Jackson.

As the kiddies came up to the front of the church, the audience got to listen to this song by Mahalia. She is accompanied by one of my all time favorite orchestras, Percy Faith. The music is majestic to say the least.

Here is what I told the kids:

"That music you heard while you were coming up here was sung by a very famous lady. Today I want to tell you the story of Mahalia Jackson. This is a picture of her:

She was known as America's greatest gospel singer. If she were alive today she'd be almost 102 years old. She sang about Jesus to people who otherwise might not have listened. She was born in a very poor family. She was singing by the age of five years old. By age twelve she had to leave school to work full time in the Louisiana cotton fields. By age 16 she was working in the factories of Chicago. God had other plans for her though. I'm going to tell you her story in her own words. First I want you to listen to another clip from a famous song Mahalia recorded. (click here to listen). You might know it. It's called "He's Got the Whole World In His Hands."

Here's what Mahalia wrote in a book:

"I'd like to tell everyone that God's got the whole world in His hand. I'd like to tell everyone that God can take nothing, and make something out of it. If, for example, I have accomplished anything, it is nothing but the grace of God that has brought me this far: all the way from the backwoods of Louisiana to the great streets of Paris, to Carnegie Hall in New York, Albert Hall in London, The State Opera House in Vienna. God has sent me all over the world just singing the simple songs of the South. That's why I love to sing "He's Got The Whole World In His Hand." Anything you want, anything you want to be, anything you want to do, God is able to lift you up. But you have to have one thing--you have to have a made up mind. You don't straddle the fence serving God; we must put our all on the altar and let God abide. In my own life, in the early desperate days in New Orleans and Chicago, I learned to lean on the word of God. I still read the Bible every day and ask God to give me the understanding of His word...

...At this time in history so many people are longing for spiritual help. There never was a time when Christians needed to be more Christian than now. They need to feel themselves lifted up in the Lord. Because there are so many people today really seeking the Holy Spirit in their lives, they would like to know that God uses us. They would like to know the power God has given us. They would like to know God's got the whole world in His hands....

....I want to prove to young people that they can take what they've got and go to great heights if they believe in themselves and have faith in God. I say to them "The Lord took me, and I was nothing, and He put me up. It can happen to you, too. If the Lord can bring me this far - take me out of the washtubs and off my knees scrubbing other people's floors -- then He can do as much and more for others."

Isn't that a great inspirational piece? I found Mahalia telling her story in a book I got for 10 cents at a local thrift shop!