TELL ME WHY from page 33
however, you do not say a brachah when
taking medicines — nor should you say
one before using toothpaste or mouth-
wash, Rabbi Cohen says.
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Q: There's a catchy little tune I hear all
the time, with a kind of Oriental flair.
It's usually in cartoons, where its played
by a snake charmer as his snake slinks
out from a basket. I have to confess, I
also sang it when I was a kid, with the
lyrics, 'And they wear no pants in the
southern part of France." I seem to
remember that this song was written by
someone Jewish. Tell Me Why, is that
A: Yes indeed, the song (which doesn't
seem to have a title, but everyone in the
world appears to be familiar with the
tune) was written by someone Jewish
and aren't we proud.
Sol Bloom was the originator of that
catchy tune which, despite its pervasive-
ness, has no copyright. But don,t worry.
Bloom still became a rich man.
Bloom was a young entrepreneur who
got his start at the Alcazar Theater in
California. The theater manager was
Mike De Young, who was impressed by
Bloom's hard work. Bloom soon became
the theater treasurer, where he was
known for his unique ideas like hiring
professional applauders, who gave more
than their fair share of standing ovations.
De Young later became publisher of
the San Francisco Chronicle and served as
a national commissioner of the Chicago
World's Fair of 1893. He asked Bloom
to come help with the fair — at the
amazing salary of $1,000 a week.
Bloom, 21 at the time, took the job.
Sol Bloom's most memorable contri-
bution to the fair was the hiring of a cer-
tain number of exotic acts, like dancers
for his so-called "Algerian Village." He
advertised the village as featuring the
darzse du ventre, which turned out to be
a belly dance. It would come to be one
of the fair's most popular attractions.
Meanwhile, though, the Press Club of
Chicago got wind of Bloom's Algerian
Village and invited him to give a pre-
view to its members. How could he turn
them down? Just one problem. When
Bloom and his dancers arrived, there was
no music to accompany the perform-
ance. On the spot, Bloom sat at the
piano and composed a short tune — the
tune to which you refer.
Bloom later served as a U.S. congress-
man and helped create the charter to
found the United Nations.
You can read more about Bloom, and
the Chicago World's Fair, in Erik
Larson's brilliant Devil in the White