Friday, July 25, 2008

Have A Cheeky Christmas--In July

Plastic People Oh Now ~~ You're Such A Drag

Several months ago, I promised my friend Tony that I would blog today about Christmas. He had discovered this pair of twins on You Tube called The Cheeky Girls (London based-Romanian born), and he has (to quote his wife) developed "a sick fascination ." I was also told by his wife Kathy, "Don't encourage him by keeping the promise to blog about those two skanks."

About two weeks ago, I was in a Home Goods store, and they already had Halloween and Thanksgiving items out. Retailers have long been known to push the season. We've all seen Valentine's Day in October, Christmas in July.

Kathy sent along in e-mail an article written by Malio Cardarelli in which he remembers the Cerri brothers, Bill and Dick, and how one summer in 1971, Bill Cerri started playing Christmas music on the radio to break up the wilt of a D.C. summer. It became a tradition. Here is that article, as I wanted to share a piece of Washington, D.C. broadcasting history:

Beset with a number of ailments including Parkinson’s disease, Utica native Bill Cerri had planned to retire from his classical music radio show in the Washington, D.C., area in August 1990. Those plans never materialized because Cerri suffered a cerebral hemorrhage July 17 of that year while on the air and soon died — to the horror of his listeners who had followed him for the two decades his show was on WETA-FM. Cerri had an early devotion to radio and was not distracted from it for any reason, even forgoing graduation from Thomas R. Proctor Senior High School in Utica so as not to abandon his radio position at WGAT, which later became WTLB, still on the air today. There, he worked the night shift, which interfered with his required arrival time at school. When given a choice, Cerri decided to stay in radio. The budding announcer moved to Washington in 1950, perhaps as much to try a larger market as to become reunited with his high school sweetheart, Rosemarie Roey Girard (1929-2008), who was in the military service and stationed there. They eventually married and had three children before divorcing.

Cerri worked for a number of radio stations and for a time with his brother Dick Cerri, at the same station in Washington, WETA-FM, from 1970 to 1973. The older brother had the morning show called “AM” and Dick the afternoon slot, called “PM.” Much of Cerri’s early music was jazz. but eventually he embraced the classical market. One of Cerri’s most notable innovations occurred in 1971. In order to help distract listeners from the intense summer heat that prevails in the nation’s capital, Bill began playing Christmas music in the dead of summer. The concept was so well received, it was even picked up by the Air Force Band in 1975 with Cerri as master of ceremonies for the very first Air Force Band presentation of “Christmas in August.” To this day, it is still performed each summer. Cerri was to direct a presentation of his innovation by the Air Force Band in 1990, but his death in July denied him that long-anticipated opportunity. His longest lasting position, 20 years, was at WETA-FM in Washington doing classical music. On July 17, 1990, he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and collapsed.

During this ordeal, while the WETA staff summoned emergency medical services, there were 4 minutes of dead air and scores of unanswered telephone calls from concerned listeners. Finally, WETA’s chief engineer switched to the 9 a.m. news and later announced that the host had become ill. By then, Cerri was in an ambulance, only to succumb to his illness within a few hours. After Cerri’s death, there were a number of tributes paid to him by the Washington-area media and in several memorial functions in his honor. Perhaps the most fitting might have been the memorial tribute to him at WETA-FM in which were played a number of recorded selections from Verdi’s Requiem performed by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Cerri’s passing left a void difficult to fill. And it all began in Utica, where his radio aspirations were cultivated. In talking about his brother’s sudden death while on the air, Dick Cerri said: “In a way I envy him; he died with his boots on.”

...and Tony? Just for you:

Have A Cheeky Christmas Time

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Blogger Gilahi said...

Wow. I just don't understand why this doesn't get airplay year-round. I think I saw a display for the Cheeky Girls at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. If not, I can't understand why.

Watch out Britney, these girls will make America forget all about you.

4:03 PM  
Blogger Phil said...

My twin girls are playing in the background while I'm watching this....

I'm going to say a prayer now..(please, God, no....)

6:59 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Dick Cerri is still alive and well (but rather overweight) in the folk music world. I actually spoke to him on the phone when he called to confirm our order of tickets for the World Folk Music Association annual show a few months ago. He has a real announcer's voice!

9:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I now have what I call "Cheeky Girl" moments when I have to tilt my head sideways, my eyes in a look of wonder, while I think in my brain, "HUH???" How is it that people thought the Cheeky Girls had a budding career, promoted them, and had the bravery to create videos of their music. When something strikes me odd I now tell Kathy that I'm having a Cheeky Girl moment.

What is also rather stunning is how they can make the lines, "Santa Claus is coming" and "Filling up my stocking" sound obscene.

Who said that people are taking Christmas out of the holiday?

9:57 PM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

Gilahi: Britney who. These girls put the tit back in titillation.

Phil: Sweet revenge, Daddy. Especially after putting the girls as babies on Playaz.

Barbara: Wow. Dick Cerri has long been a fixture in the folk world. Fascinating you had contact with him...and I know what you mean about an announcer's voice.

Thai: Happy? I will not be putting up any La Pequeña for you.

10:05 PM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

Omg! WOWWW!! Love the gold little shorts thingies. And their accents - perfect.

It's a perfect post as always. I feel nice and cool just reading about Christmas in July - oh - and disoriented, too.


8:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


My friend Drew, well, everyone's friend Drew, was saddened and concerned that everyone in the video except for Monica and Gabriela (The Cheeky Girls) have warm clothing, scarves, and sweaters. Whereas the Cheeky Girls are running around in skimpy WONDER they have those undefinable hand gestures and are jumping around in the snow to keep warm!!! These poor girls are FREEZING!!! Their brains were so frozen they didn't even think to kill the reindeer for heat or nurishment.

9:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


11:56 AM  
Blogger AbbotOfUnreason said...

Oh, no the "touch my bum" girls!

I think that reindeer is looking at the two of them and thinking, "I'm going to have a loooooooong talk with my agent.

2:09 PM  
Blogger drewt said...

Perhaps The Cheeky Girls can do a video with La Pequeña? Maybe featuring a "pole". (PS. There is nothing "adult" about this YouTube video. Just basically puerile and disturbing.)

The gods... I have scared even myself.

12:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

These girls put the mania in Roumania. I can't think of that country without thinkiing of Dorothy Parker:

Life is a season of unending joy / A medley of extemporanea / Love is a song that can never go wrong / And I am the queen of Romania.

Cheeky girls/Dorothy Parker/Dick Cerri -- I am disoriented.

-- grince

9:12 AM  
Blogger d. chedwick said...

A new Post! Yeah!

we were juts walking past a "Christmas in July" sale...

1:37 AM  
Anonymous playfulinnc said...

Just wanted to say hi~

9:45 PM  
Blogger Sheri in Rehoboth said...

I just LOVE the Cheeky Chrees-mahs video!


3:41 PM  
Blogger bleeper said...

Bill Cerri was a great announcer and a terrible announcer - played great music most of the time, but the "Drunken Sailor" bit was tedious in the extreme. But when he was playing the good stuff, it was fun.

9:32 PM  
Blogger william cerri said...

I don't know who authored this kind tribute and accurate history of my dad's life and career, but thank you. On my birthday in August of last year I outlived him by about 3 weeks. He was not yet 61. It's hard to believe he passed away 23 years ago.

1:38 PM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

Mr. Cerri: I loved your father's work and have many good memories of him. I am sorry you suffered that loss so early in a life, and I do understand. I was surprised anyone was reading the old stuff. Time to get my blog active again. Thank you for your words and addition to the story.

3:16 PM  
Blogger Barbara Hickerson said...

Bill Cerri was my father also I would like to say thank you for this article on my father and my late uncle,he passed away in Jan.2014. Its nice to know they are still remembered.I love reading the old stories about them both.Thank you again for keeping them alive. Barbara Cerri Hickerson

1:38 AM  
Blogger Barbara Hickerson said...

Sorry the date I posted earlier about my late Uncle Dick Cerri was wrong,he passed in Oct.2013.

2:35 AM  

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