Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Who The Heck is Father Knickerbocker

And does he have anything to do with the stylish yet comfortable baggy knee trousers I’m wearing?

The answer is…yes! Read on…

In a little Cole Porter number I’ve been rehearsing for Broadway Rose (opening Friday for a limited engagement – seats are selling fast!) I sing the lyrics: “Due to landscape gardeners gifted, Father Knickerbocker’s face is being lifted.” The line is from Porter’s song, “Please Don’t Monkey With Broadway” written in 1940. Being the intellectual performer, and ingrained with that classical signer trick where I must know and understand every word and phrase I sing, I did some research. First I asked all five other cast members, director, choreographer, stage manager, costumer and two random schmucks passing by the theater on Durham Road, and got the following possible answers:
  • A famous restaurant in N.Y.
  • Inventor of Knickers http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knickers
  • Owner of the NY Knicks
  • #10 Walt Frasier of the Knicks
  • A Manhattan hotel
  • A statue in Central Park
  • A grilled sandwich with ham and Gouda cheese on Dutch bread served with a Heineken.
No. No. Nope. Wrong. Wrong again. Incorrect. Sounds delicious, but not the correct answer. BZZZZZZ!!!! Thank you all for playing. We have some lovely parting gifts.

If you think that’s one of those had-to-be-there lines, you are probably right. Back in the 1809 Washington Irving, famous for this penning of Legend of Sleepy Hollow, wrote a fictional history of Manhattan describing the Dutch inhabitants of New Amsterdam. Irving wrote A History of New York as a fictional autobiography with the pseudonym of Diedrich Knickerbocker, a socialite and ‘descendent’ of the Dutch settlers. For years New York residents believed Irving’s historical Dutch tale as truth and began affectionately calling him “Father Knickerbocker”. They also began calling the short men’s trousers remnant of the Dutch style as Knickerbockers.

19th Century New Yorkers began referring to their city using the historical allegory of “Father Knickerbocker”. The name stuck for many years, even through the age of Cole Porter who used the term as simply an allusion to the city of New York much the same as it is today called the “Big Apple”.

Now that you’ve had your history lesson for the day, please pass that hot ham & cheese sandwich, and don’t touch my Heine!

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Comments on "Who The Heck is Father Knickerbocker"


Anonymous bip0larbear said ... (July 17, 2007 9:23 PM) : 

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Blogger Penny Karma said ... (July 18, 2007 1:40 PM) : 

I admire your dedication to your art!

And I'll touch any Heine I want to, mister.


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