Sunday, August 22, 2010

Mae West: Parker's Published Piffle Purged

• • MAE WEST was born, she has often said, "on a cool night in a hot month" in Bushwick.
• • Since several solid biographies have been written about her, many Mae-mavens know this already. Therefore, it is unsettling, disappointing, and irritating when a Kings County newspaper has managed to get the basic facts wrong for several years in a row.
• • Brooklyn's Error-Prone Columnist Vernon Parker
• •
• • Fortunately, one of two things has just occurred. Either (a.) Vernon Parker accidentally collided with the truth about Mae West's birthplace on the MAE WEST BLOG or (b.) a few of her fed-up fans notified the Brooklyn Eagle's error-prone history columnist.
• • The Brooklyn Eagle's bylined columnist Vernon Parker [Email:] had offered truly annoying poppycock to his readership in a long-running section — — "On This Day in History: AUGUST 17" — — during this month as well as in past years.
• • Previously on Mae's birthday, Vernon Parker had steamed into his first paragraph like this: Mae West was born in Brooklyn on August 17, 1893. That she was born in Brooklyn, there is no doubt — — but exactly where is a subject of controversy. Even in her biography, she simply said “I was born on a respectable street in Brooklyn.” It is almost a certainty that she was born in the Greenpoint section at 184 Franklin Avenue, which would be the Astral Apartments. Another controversial question is when. Mae always claimed the year as 1893 — — but there are those who have calculated the year to be more like 1888. ...
• • Although Vernon Parker continues to misstate Matilda's birthyear as 1875 (instead of 1870), he has dropped some silly statements and amended others. Vernon Parker's column now states that Mae was born in Bushwick. Applause! Though his footnote does not thank the MAE WEST BLOG, it does indicate his revision. To wit, "CORRECTION: This article initially stated that Mae West was born at 184 Franklin Avenue in Greenpoint," writes Vernon Parker.
• • Obviously, two minutes of primary research at the venerable Brooklyn Historical Society, the Brooklyn Public Library, or the Brooklyn City Directory would give Vernon Parker and other local news people the exact street address. So would a peek into a good full-length biography on Mae West.
• • Oh, the alkaline tang one gets from published piffle. Why do some columnists continue to be careless unless they get a pie in the face? And why do newspapers no longer employ fact checkers?
• • The Brooklyn Eagle was established in The City of Brooklyn before Mae was born.
• • Feel free to read and/ or contact the Brooklyn Eagle at 30 Henry Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201; email:,; Tel 718-422-7400.

• • Come up and see Mae every day online:
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