Saturday, November 1, 2008

Carryin' the Banner Tumpin' Tall!

I first saw “Newsies” when it came out in theaters in 1992. My best friend Meredith's mom took us to see it. The theater was completely packed, and we had to sit on the very edge of a row right by the wall. I’ve always remembered this detail, because for years whenever I mentioned “Newsies” as a favorite movie I got nothing but blank stares and furrowed brows. Weren’t the theaters packed when it came out? Where were all the people who had watched the movie with us that day? It wasn't until I got to college that people seemed to know the movie again, and to this day I find that nearly everyone has at least heard of it, if not seen it. So don't ask me what happened in that time period—I'm just happy that we as a society are moving toward more “Newsies” awareness every day.

Meredith and I loved that movie. We would always pick out our favorite newsie (she liked to pick Spot or Kid Blink, while I've always been a Jack girl). She gave me the cassette tape for my birthday and it was nearly destroyed when we played it over and over and over again. We would dance around the house for hours singing the songs and pretending that we could dance like the newsies. I can remember jumping around to “High Times, Hard Times,” and pretending to spin on a fan during “King of New York.”
We sang those songs a lot, even though I had no idea what the boys were really saying. I still remember the lyrics as I thought they were, so here now is a bit of my interpretation of a couple of the lyrics from "Carryin' the Banner":

Try Bridal Alley... (Try Border Alley)
Full of buck-an-eye! (For a buck I might)
Carryin' the banner tumpin' tall! (Carryin' the banner tough and tall)
Showbiz washin' dishes! (Sure beats washin' dishes)
It takes an orphan with a stunner! (It takes an orphan with a stutter)
I know Snowza! (I’m no snoozer)
Since you left me high and undone! (Since you left me I am undone)
We need a gooder sassination! (We need a good assassination)

I think that this early love of “Newsies” was just an early love of musicals for me. I love Broadway musicals, movie musicals, and even “High School Musicals.” “Newsies” was an introduction to the joy, spirit, and passion that musicals could bring. I still get lyrics from “Santa Fe” stuck in my head, and I still get excited when “The World Will Know” comes up on my iPod. Yes, it’s a kid’s movie, and Disney at that. But it means so much more to me. It's memories of dancing to those songs as a kid with my best friend (and, yes, doing the spit shake with her too). It's the freedom to roll down my car windows and sing "Once and For All" at the top of my lungs. It's the ability to have an instant bond with someone once I find out they're a fan too. It's the gateway to a world where people stop their lives and burst out into song because everything they are feeling is just too big for mere words; they need lyrics and orchestration and choreography and exclamation points!

“Newsies” has been on my mind especially this week because of Halloween. Some of the girls in my office decided to dress up as different decades. I couldn’t decide which decade was right for me. But then... inspiration! I decided to dress up as... the 1900’s. And I would be a newsie. Luckily I got some enthusiastic responses when I shared my idea, so I decided to go for it. One black newsie hat and a pair of pink suspenders later, I was set. Finally, my heart’s desire:

                                               Ain't it a fine life?


~lady j said...

Holy crap i love you. :)

But you need a little dirt on your face, you know? ;)

Cute little dirty kids. :)

p.s. i watched Newsies very recently in your honor, and you know which one is hot? The one who gets punched during the riot at Medda's and comes back and punches dude in the face. He's recognizable in plenty of other parts too... i just can remember right now. You must know his name... :)

Valerie said...

Haha! Yeah, that's Skittery! I mean, if you're talking about the guy that gets punched and comes back up at the first riot when Brooklyn comes. That doesn't happen at Medda's. But yeah, you see him quite a bit. Featured newsie and all that. :)

Annie Parsons said...


You are the best.

My three favorite movies are "The Sound of Music," "That Thing You Do!" and "Newsies." They never get old.

I'm a Jack fan, too.

Once, I helped choreograph an entire routine to a medley from "Newsies" for the girls in my freshman dorm. It was ridonkulous. In the best possible way.

Katie said...

I adore Newsies, as you know, and that's largely thanks to you for making me watch it LOTS of times.

And I'm a Jack girl, too. Always will be. "Santa Fe...are you there? Do you swear you won't forget me?"

You make an adorable Newsie. And, ahem, you forgot to mention that even your CAR is named after a Newsie.

Love you!

Lara said...

"Trapped where there ain't no future even the seven seas..." instead of
"Trapped where there ain't no future, even at seventeen," was my main problem.
And - oh - did you notice the freeze frame and then fall down at the end of HSM3? Definitely a nod to Newsies. Oh that Kenny.

Lara said...

PS It's all about Racetrack and Spot.