1949 in 12 songs

Here are the songs that went to number one in 1949 on the US R&B chart. Most are blues rather than R&B. Some are jump blues, which was more uptempo and would give rise to rock and roll and actual R&B in the 1950s.

John Lee Hooker: Boogie Chillen:

Big Jay McNeeley’s Blue Jays: The Deacon’s Hop:

Paul Williams and His Hucklebucklers: The Huckle-Buck:

The Charlie Brown Trio: Trouble Blues:

Jimmy Witherspoon: Ain’t Nobody’s Business (Parts 1 & 2):

Amos Milburn: Roomin’ House Boogie:

Wynonie Harris: All She Wants to Do is Rock:

The Orioles: Tell Me So:

Dinah Washington: Baby Get Lost:

Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five: Beans and Corn Bread:

Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five: Saturday Night Fry Fish:

Larry Darnell: For You My Love:

See also:

Source: Wikipedia.

1949 in 33 pictures

Using Google Images as my time machine, here is some of what I saw in 1949:

Click on images to enlarge or see the film; click on links to go to posts on the given subject:

Dorothy Dandridge in a glamour photo, circa 1949:

Lena Horne and Duke Ellington on the cover of the October 1949 issue of Ebony:

Jackie Robinson baseball card:

Billie Holiday:

Paul Robeson and W.E.B. Du Bois at the World at the Peace Congress in Paris, April 20th 1949:

Josephine Baker was in Paris:

Richard Wright was in Paris. Here he is with his daughter Julia:

James Baldwin was in Paris too, having just moved there in 1948. I could not find any pictures of him in 1949, but I did find a picture of the cafe near where he lived, Cafe de Flore, where he would write “Go Tell it on the Mountain” (1953):

FRANCE – 1949: Paris. The terrace of the Flore cafe. March, 1949. RV-88278 (Photo by Roger Viollet/Getty Images)

Chloe Wofford in high school in Lorain, Ohio. In 44 years she will win the Nobel Prize for Literature:

“Annie Allen” by Gwendolyn Brooks, the first book by a Black person to win a Pulitzer Prize:

“Uncle Tom’s Children” (1938) by Richard Wright, now in paperback:

A scene from “Souls of Sin”:

The 1949 movie poster for“Pinky”, about a light-skinned Black woman who passes for White:

“Field Hand” by Samella Lewis:

“Trenton Six” by Charles Wilbert White:

Fort Scott, Kansas by Gordon Parks:

Chicago by  Stanley Kubrick:

Harlem by Richard Avedon:Dining-car cooks:

Tons of Black people were still sharecroppers, but it seems they fell out of fashion with photographers in the 1940s (they were huge in the 1930s). Photography, like writing, seems to be a largely middle-class medium.

Howard University:

The Andante Club, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania:

Wigs (natural hairstyles were not yet a thing):

Part of an ad for a skin-lightening bleaching cream:

White people in blackface:

a Montreal area church circa 1949. (MONTREAL GAZETTE)

The 1949 edition of the Green Book, which listed restaurants, hotels, etc, which would serve Blacks:

A map of civil rights laws. Notice how Jim Crow extends to Arizona:

Paradise Park For Coloured People in Florida: I am not sure if this picture is from 1949, but it probably is since that is when the park opened:

A kindergarten class in Topeka, Kansas:

A White family standing in front of their new house in Levittown, a suburb of New York City where no Black person was allowed to live, an example of a sundown town:

August 27th, Westchester County, just north of New York City: people shouting insults at carloads of concert-goers who have come to see Paul Robeson. This will turn into the Peekskill Riot:

A Klan rally in Alabama:

A race riot in St Louis, Missouri:

And, of course, Times Square:

My mother says that 1949, at the time, seemed completely ordinary. In writing this post I see what she means. It is like when you become used to hearing an accent – you stop hearing it.

– Abagond, 2017.

See also:


Russian hackers

Russian hackers (fl. 2008- ) break into computers for a living. They have stolen billions from banks, disabled power plants in Ukraine, shut down the Internet in Estonia, and likely helped Donald Trump get elected president in the US – among other things. Some are plain old criminals or thrill seekers, others are spies working for the Russian government.

Tricks of the trade:

  • malware – programs that get into a computer to do the hacker’s bidding, like recording keystrokes or copying files.
  • spear-phishing: sending emails to users of interest, like John Podesta, to get them to enter their password, credit card information, etc, or to infect their computer with malware. This is done by getting them to open an email attachment or go to a waterhole:
  • waterhole: looks just like a trusted website but has been set up by hackers to get your password, get malware onto your computer, etc. In most cases the only way an ordinary person can tell it is fake is from its URL:
  • typosquatting – using a URL that looks like the right one, but is off in some way. For example, the website to give money to the Democratic Party was ActBlue.com – so hackers set up a website that looked just like it but was at ActBlues.com. Spot the difference! Not everyone does.

Note that “computer” can mean your mobile phone, not just a laptop or desktop computer.

Dramatis Personae:

  • CrowdStrike – the US cybersecurity firm that looked into the computer break-in at the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
  • Cozy Bear – the name given by CrowdStrike to the hackers who broke into the DNC computers in 2015. Called “Bear” because they believe them to be Russian.
  • Fancy Bear – broke into the DNC computers a year later, in 2016. Did not seem to know about the Cozy Bear hack, copying some of the same files. CrowdStrike believes Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear work for different branches of Russian intelligence.
  • Guccifer 2.0 – a WordPress blogger who claims to be Cozy Bear, but says he is not a “bear” (Russian) but Romanian. Says CrowdStrike blamed the Russians to cover their own incompetence.
  • Julian Assange – the Australian hacker who runs WikiLeaks, the website that made files from DNC computers public. He denies they came from Russians.

Are Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear Russian spies? Most likely:

  1. The hacks were extremely professional, among the best in the business.
  2. Most of the malware was written on a Russian keyboard in Russian time zones.
  3. Much of the same malware was used to hack the US and Ukrainian militaries – only Russian intelligence would have the means and motive to hack both.
  4. The DNC material was used to benefit Russia and not, say, China or Iran.

CrowdStrike thinks it was Russian intelligence and has made its findings public.

But, even if all this is true, so far there is no solid proof, no smoking gun, that shows that Donald Trump had anything to do with it. In terms of Watergate, it is still 1972.

– Abagond, 2017.

Source: mainly “The Plot to Hack America” (2016) by Malcolm Nance.

See also:



A French map showing where Masina (Macina) was in relation to present-day countries of West Africa. It is the blue blob towards the middle.

Masina (1818-1862), also known as Macina or the Massina Empire, was one of the main Fulani jihad states of West Africa in the early 1800s. It ruled what is now the middle of Mali.

  • Fulani women of the Masina region in 1970.

    Location: along the Niger River, from about Jenne to Timbuktu.

  • Population: 1 million (estimated).
  • Languages: Fulfulde, Bambara, Songhay, Dogon languages.
  • Religions: Islam, Bambara polytheism, etc.
  • Capital: Hamdallahi.
  • Major cities: Timbuktu, Jenne, shadows of their former selves.
  • Government: A caliphate (Islamic state) divided into five emirates (provinces). Emirs were chosen by the caliph. The caliph was chosen by jihad or civil war. He was advised by a grand council of 40 men, whose advice he did not always take. The government collected taxes. Justice was dispensed by cadis, judges learned in sharia (Muslim law). They applied sharia to everything, with a strictness some would call fanatical.
  • Economy: Grew plenty of rice, millet and vegetables on government lands worked by men taken in war. Freedom was promised to slaves in its jihads, but Masina itself practised slavery of non-Muslims (as allowed by the Koran). Trade was weak due to war. Most Fulanis were herders. The government, with some success, got them to live a more settled life.


  • 1818-45: Amadou Seku – saintly scholar, preacher of pure Islam and jihad.
  • 1845-53: Seku Amadou – able son.
  • 1853-62: Amadou mo Amadou – hopeless incompetent.

Amadou Seku was a religious scholar with a large following, one who was able to bring together Fulanis of the Masina kingdom to fight a jihad (holy war) to overthrow their hated (and non-Muslim) Bambara overlords. Seku was a follower of Usman dan Fodio, the founder of Sokoto, the Fulani jihad state that was downriver in what is now northern Nigeria.

Seku Amadou, the son, after putting down challenges, both foreign and domestic, to his rule, gave Masina its most peaceful and prosperous days of the 1800s.

Amadou mo Amadou was unable to heal the divisions of the civil war that put him in power. In fact, he made them worse by putting his own men in place of old and respected religious leaders. And then faced a powerful jihad state growing in the west, the Toucouleur Empire (Kaarta) of al-Hajj Umar Tall. Amadou made an alliance with the Bambara of Segu, the once-hated and still un-Islamic former enemies. That gave Umar the perfect excuse to launch a holy war against him.

The end: the Toucouleur Empire could make guns in quantity, Masina could not. Masina fell in 1862. The Toucoulear Empire in turn fell in 1893 to a yet bigger empire with yet better guns: the French.

The Islam of Masina was very pure and strict, inspired in part by Wahhabism, which today rules Mecca and Medina and helps to inform the Islam of jihadists like ISIS, the Taliban and Boko Haram. Masina’s Islam was much more severe than Timbuktu’s own scholarly understanding of the faith, so much so that people in Timbuktu had to hide their books from the jihadists. Yet it was Timbuktu’s own Mukhtar al-Kunti (1729-1811) whose writings had helped give rise to the Fulani jihads!

– Abagond, 2017.

See also:


Note: I use present-day names. Within each decade, things are not necessarily in chronological order. 

Manhattan circa 1600, looking north.

1600: Population: 1,000?

Wall Street in 1660 – when it still had a wall. And when Water Street was still on the water. North-east is up.

Land added to lower Manhattan from 1650 to 1980. The red rectangle is the part shown in the previous map. North-east is up.

1700: Population: 5,000.

  • 1700s: 42% of households have slaves.
  • 1710s: slave uprising, African Burial Ground now in use.
  • 1720s:
  • 1730s:
  • 1740s: slave conspiracy of 1741.
  • 1750s: Columbia University.
  • 1760s:
  • 1770s: Santa Claus.
  • 1780s: The USGeorge Washington’s inauguration. Book of Negroes.
  • 1790s: NYSE, US Supreme Court, African Free School.

Map of lower Manhattan in 1798. Wall Street is labelled with white lettering (lower left). North is up.

1800: Population: 60,489

  • 1800s: New York Post.
  • 1810s: street grid north of 14th Street, Staten Island Ferry, Citigroup.
  • 1820s: Con Ed (then a gaslighting company). Slavery abolished.
  • 1830s: NYU, Union Theological Seminary, cholera epidemic kills thousands.
  • 1840s: NYPD, AP, CUNY, CCNY, Irish wave begins.
  • 1850s: Central Park, New York Times, Harper’s, Singer sewing machines, Steinway pianos.
  • 1860s: Draft Riots, The Nation. There are 20 minstrel shows.
  • 1870s: Boss Tweed scandal, St Patrick’s cathedral, Bloomingdale’s, Museum of Natural History.
  • 1880s: Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn Dodgers, Goldman Sachs, Life, Cosmopolitan, Wall Street Journal, electric power plant (Pearl Street Station), Jewish wave begins.
  • 1890s: Ellis Island, Vogue, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus”.

Manhattan and Brooklyn, circa 1900. Queens (upper left) is still mostly green. Ships everywhere. East is up.

1900: Population: 3,437,202

  • 1900s: Ota Benga, NYC subway, Times Square Ball Drop, New York Yankees, Manhattan Bridge, Flatiron Building, Amsterdam News, Schomburg Center, teddy bears, air conditioning.
  • 1910s: Daily News, the Reuben sandwich, Grand Central Station, Merrill Lynch, Salomon Brothers, McGraw-Hill, Titanic fails to arrive.
  • 1920s: Marcus Garvey at his height, Harlem Renaissance, Apollo Theater, NMAINew Yorker, CBS, NBC, Time, New York Giants, Random House, Simon & Schuster, Crash of ’29.
  • 1930s: Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, Lincoln Tunnel, Radio City Music Hall, Muzak, Scrabble, Betty Boop films, 1939 World’s Fair.
  • 1940s: “Ed Sullivan Show”, ABC, TV Guide, credit cards, New York Knicks, bebop, Birdland, Harlem Riot, Jackie Robinson, Puerto Rican wave begins.
  • 1950s: UN, Guggenheim, Seagram Building, “Raisin in the Sun”, Village Voice, Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, Sweet’N Low, Harlem Writers Guild.
  • 1960s: Malcolm X at his height, Baldwin-Kennedy meeting, 1964 World’s Fair, Blackout of 1965, Time Life books, New York Mets, Negro Ensemble Company, Rolling Stone, Stonewall Riot, “Sesame Street”.
  • 1970s: Essence, heroin epidemic, salsa, hip hop, World Trade Center, Son of Sam, Crazy Eddie, General Tso’s chicken, Blackout of 1977, I NY, Studio 54, CBGB, HBO.
  • 1980s: Crack Era, “The Cosby Show”, MTV, Def Jam“Video Music Box”, Fort Greene Renaissance, Eleanor Bumpurs, Michael Stewart, Yusef Hawkins, Edmund Perry, Central Park Jogger, “Seinfeld”.
  • 1990s: Fox News, MSNBC, “The Daily Show”, “Charlie Rose”, Happy Land Fire, Bad Boy Records, Roc-A-Fella, VICE Media, Abner Louima, Amadou Diallo.

Manhattan circa 2007, looking north.

2000: Population: 8,008,278

– Abagond, 2017.

Sources: mainly TimeOut, NYC Architecture, The Right StuffWikipedia.

See also:


My impression of Trump

Just for the record, here is what I currently think of Donald Trump, the US president, who is halfway through his first 100 days. This post will be far more interesting in a few years than it is now, which is why I write it.

Note: By “impression” I mean my utterly subjective opinion in all its biased glory. This post is not a report of facts or reasoned arguments, but of personal reactions. If I become brainwashed – or enlightened – use this post as a baseline of “how Abagond used to be.”

Narcissistic: I think he is all front, all image, no substance, no morals, no empathy (except maybe for his children), a consummate attention whore, a con man. He prizes money and fame above all.

Racist: I think he is racist, sexist, Islamophobic and all the rest. He does in fact think racism is a bad thing, but does not see it in himself, his policies, or his top people. After all, he has Black friends!

Untrustworthy: Maybe I travel in the wrong circles, but most people I know would have nothing to do with someone who acts like Trump – unless they were a hideous kiss-up. Or if they needed a job and were hard up. Otherwise, forget it. He lies like it was nothing, which makes him completely untrustworthy and therefore someone who would only cause you grief in the long run.

Massively corrupt: Because he has not made his tax returns public or divested himself from his businesses, I assume that he is corrupt, probably more corrupt than any president since at least Nixon.

Worse than I thought: Part of my low opinion is almost certainly going to come from partisanship as a Democrat (I can see that in my old posts on Romney), but over the past 50 days he has turned out to be worse than I expected. For example:

  • I thought his lack of experience would cause trouble, but I never dreamed he would be so brainless as to issue his Muslim ban without first checking with legal and government experts. Or without getting all his people in position first, especially his attorney general.
  • I thought he would be sunk in scandal, but I never dreamed it would be this quick and this terrible.

Russiagate: the Russian stuff might turn out to be a red herring or just the tip of the iceberg, but there is something there: Trump is acting like he is hiding something. And Trump and Michael Flynn act in ways that do not make sense. Something is going on.

Better than I thought: so far he respects the rule of law, trying to colour within the constitutional lines as best he can. No Reichstags are on fire. Yet. (Hitler’s Reichstag was on fire after 28 days.) That is heartening. If he can keep that up and keep the US out of any more wars – and does not nuke anyone – I will be relieved.

– Abagond, 2017.

See also:


The Tide is High

“The Tide is High” (1930s) is an old Jamaican song that appeared on player pianos in the 1930s. It has since been done in at least five different musical styles, in five different countries, in four different decades, going to number one on the pop charts in six different countries, twice in Britain and New Zealand (1980 and 2002):

  • year: artist (country, style), top chart position.
  • 1966: The Paragons (Jamaica, rocksteady).
  • 1980: Blondie (US, reggae), #1 in Britain, Canada, New Zealand, US.
  • 1996: Papa Dee (Sweden, dancehall), #20 in Finland.
  • 2002: Atomic Kitten (Britain, dance-pop), #1 in Britain, Ireland, New Zealand.
  • 2008: Kardinal Offishal ft Keri Hilson (Canada, hip hop), #1 in Germany.

John Lennon loved the Blondie version and used to dance to it.

Thanks to the magic of YouTube, here is the song over the last 80 years:

1930s: the player piano version:

1966: The Paragons (Jamaica, rocksteady):

1980: Blondie (US, reggae), #1 in Britain, Canada, New Zealand, US:

1996: Papa Dee (Sweden, dancehall), #20 in Finland:

2002: Atomic Kitten (Britain, dance-pop), #1 in Britain, Ireland, New Zealand:

2008: Kardinal Offishal ft Keri Hilson (Canada, hip hop), #1 in Germany:

See also:

Lyrics (Paragons):

The tide is high but I’m holding on
I’m gonna be your number one

I’m not the kinda man who gives up just like that, no oh oh oh
It’s not the things you do, that really hurts me bad
But it’s the way you do the things, you do to me

I’m not the kinda man who gives up just like that no oh oh oh
The tide is high but I’m holding on
I’m gonna be your number one
Number one, number one

Every man wants you to be his girl
But I’ll wait my dear ’till it’s my turn
I’m not the kinda man who gives up just like that, no oh oh oh

Every man wants you to be his girl
But I’ll wait my dear ’till it’s my turn
I’m not the kinda man who gives up just like that, no oh oh oh

The tide is high but I’m holding on
I’m gonna be your number one
The tide is high but I’m holding on
I’m gonna be your number one
The tide is high but I’m holding on
I’m gonna be your number one

Source: MetroLyrics, Wikipedia, Songfacts.

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