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Sunday, April 30, 2006


by Jim McAllister

Route 66, sometimes known as "The Mother Road" or "The Will Roger’s Highway", is probably still the most talked about highway in the United States. Starting at Jackson Boulevard and Lakeshore Drive in Chicago, it ran in the shape of a crescent from Chicago to Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles grinding its way south through Illinois then heading west through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, and into California.
"Get your kicks on Route 66"....from Chicago
to Los Angeles, the "Mother Road" had it all.
(Courtesy: National Park Service, Dept. of
The Interior)
Route 66 was originated in the 1920's as a combination of existing roads which were mostly unpaved. With its heavy use in the Depression of the 1930's, it became a road of both romance and despair as it was the route to California for both the more fortunate of that dreadful era and for those less fortunate that were fleeing the "dust bowl" of Oklahoma in search of a new life out west. The plight of these "Okies" was best described by John Steinbeck in THE GRAPES OF WRATH....."and they come into 66 from the tributary side roads, from the wagon tracks and the rutted country roads, 66 is the mother road, the road of flight."
With the better economy in post World War II times, U. S. 66 became the busiest highway to the west and with that heavier traffic came various roadside businesses that were rather unique such as the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, Arizona, the Route 66 diner in Albuquerque, and the Snocap Drive-in in Seligman, Arizona. These places still exist while many others have disappeared through the years after the demise of Route 66 in the mid 1980's.
The remains of a Route 66 bridge located east of Winslow,
Arizona. (Photo: Route 66 Federation)
In 1946 musician Bobby Troup was driving west on 66 with his wife when he wrote the famous ode to the mother road, "Route 66". It was later recorded by Nat "King" Cole and most of the words bring back memories to me of my connections to the old road: "When you make that California trip...." I grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1959, I met a young lady from Los Angeles who was visiting her father in Cincy. I became enamored with her and decided to drive to California with a friend later that summer to visit her. This gave me the opportunity to travel Route 66 from St. Louis to Santa Monica and enjoy one of the first adventures of my young life as I went through parts of the country that I had never known. It was a great experience that I will never forget. I remember thinking, "Wow!" when I crossed into California.
"Now you go through St. Louis....You see Amarillo..." The time is late December of 1961. I have been in the Air Force for three months and have just completed Supply Tech School at Amarillo Air Force Base in Texas. I am trying to get to Cincinnati for Christmas via a Greyhound bus and after traveling all night via Route 66 I arrive in St. Louis at 7:00 a.m. to find that I missed my connecting bus to Ohio by fifteen minutes. This necessitated a wait until 4:30 that afternoon for the next bus. As unpleasant as that was, I will always fondly remember the camaraderie with my fellow servicemen on that long bus ride up 66.
The sad remains of a portion of Route 66 pavement
located near Seligman, Arizona. Many an "Okie
jalopy" passed over this pavement heading west
during the Depression of the 1930's. (Photo:
Martin's Route 66 gallery)
"Flagstaff, Arizona. Don’t forget Winona, Kingman, Barstow, San Bernardino...." I have always had itchy feet. Cincinnati was a good place to grow up but I made up my mind as a youth that I was not going to spend my life there. Television may have had a hand in that decision as I would watch the football games from the West Coast with all the sunshine and happy people in the stands with their colorful short sleeve shirts on in December. At the same time it would be dark in Cincy with cold rain pelting the windows. When I finally got my chance to head west, I grabbed it with a vengeance. Thank you Linda Devereaux, wherever you are, for encouraging me to visit you in those salad days of 1959. I still remember the excitement of driving my non-air conditioned ‘57 Chevy on old two lane Route 66 and going through Flagstaff and the pines, then dropping down to the desert of Kingman and on through Needles, California, across the Mojave Desert to Barstow and San Bernardino and finally Los Angeles. I was in awe as I saw the Pacific Ocean for the first time; it was a little more impressive sight than the Ohio River.
NAT "KING" COLE....Had a hit tune with
recording of ROUTE 66 (photo courtesy
Dale Dexter, Jr. collection)
The old road may have had a song written about it plus a television show from the early 1960's, but the passage of time finally had its say and Route 66 was decommissioned as a major highway in 1985. Luckily, several states have preserved portions of the road that are popular tourist attractions and there are those who take Route 66 vacations along the various portions that still exist. Sure, the interstates are faster and safer but do they have the romance of the old highway? I don’t think so. At the closing of Route 66 in the 1980's, noted CBS newsman Charles Kuralt stated that, "Now you can travel across the entire country and not see anything." I agree. (Do you have memories of Route 66? Tell me about them at

Monday, April 24, 2006


by Jim McAllister

David Gilmour is doing a bit of relaxing "On An Island", Aaron Eckhart is a tobacco huckster, and if you like history, especially Chicago history, you have to like Erik Larson. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it is time for Jim’s fearless reviews of one CD, one movie, and one book.
DAVID GILMOUR in an undated photo from a
few years ago. The Pink Floyd guitarist takes us
on a nice trip with his new CD release ON AN ISLAND.
It's his first solo release in 20 years (Photo: Neptune
Pink Floyd)
THE CD: It is "On An Island", the latest from David Gilmour of Pink Floyd. I had to give this one a couple of plays as my first impression was Gilmour has gone the way of Rod Stewart with the easier listening stuff. After all, these guys are all over sixty now (Gilmour released "On An Island" the day after birthday number 60 on March 6) and I suppose we are finally finding out what happens to all our 1960's and ‘70's favorites when they reach that milestone (except for the always ageless Rolling Stones!).
As I was ready to dismiss "On An Island" as Pink Floyd lite, cut number four, "Take A Breath" came on and suddenly I was back with "The Wall" and "Animals" and heaven. Then I was ushered into "Red Sky At Night" and suddenly I was on and island viewing dusk and sipping a Corona. Gilmour is so influential with his sax playing on this cut (that’s right, sax) that the imagery is almost eerie. Consensus: It may take a couple of plays for Floyd fans to appreciate this one, but that should do the job. From the short intro into the title track through the final of ten cuts, "Where We Start", this is David Gilmour at his finest. "On An Island" could be called the ultimate "date record". It’s been twenty years since Gilmour’s last solo effort but it was worth the wait.
AARON ECKHART stars in the satiric comedy
credits are posted on cigarette packs. (Photo:
Fox Searchlight Pictures)
THE MOVIE: "Thank You For Smoking", Fox Searchlight Pictures, rated R for sexuality and language, 92 minutes....If you decide to see this, be sure you like satire. It used to be said that satire closes on Saturday night so this one isn’t for everyone although it was tenth nationally in box office receipts two weeks ago.
"Thank You For Smoking" is a good adult comedy based on the book by Christopher Buckley that, at 92 minutes, is just the right length for a story of an expert master of the spin. That master is Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart) and as he prances through the movie in his Armani suits, he brings new meaning to the definition of sleazy lobbyist. His job is to lobby for the big cigarette companies and because of this he is universally despised. Whether he is discussing his job to a classroom of kids which includes his twelve year old son (who implores his father to not "ruin my childhood") or is speaking before a Senate committee headed by a staunch, anti-smoking Senator (William H. Macy) who wants to put "poison" stickers on cigarette packs, Nick proudly embraces his belief that "if you argue correctly, you’re never wrong.".
Some of the funniest scenes are the weekly lunch meetings with Nick and his pals from the gun and liquor lobbies (The M.O.D. squad, "merchants of death", David Koechner and Maria Bello). Robert Duvall is also good as the captain, the head of the pro smoking organizations. This movie is tough but has a heart as Nick has a special empathy for his son (Cameron Bright) which is a nice contrast to the negativity of his character. It is well worth seeing.
by Erik Larson. Nice non-fiction
and mystery about the creation
of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair
also known as the "Columbian
Exposition" to celebrate the 400th
anniversary of Columbus discovering
America. (Cover photo: Vintage Books)
THE BOOK : "The Devil in the White City" by Erik Larson, 390 pages, paperback, Vintage Books. As a fairly keen observer of American history, this book was of special interest to me as it was not only about our history but covers an especially interesting time, that of the 1880's and 1890's. This was a time when the industrial revolution was gaining a foothold with many "miracles" of the time being discovered and invented. It was also still an era of Victorian thinking which made for an interesting combination. This is a true story of the light and dark sides involved in the building of the "White City" which was the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Intertwined with these details is the story of a serial killer using the backdrop of the Fair to lure his victims. Erik Larson has done his homework, as thirty-three pages of bibliography will attest, to bring out all the characters and frustrations involved with this monumental project. Once you start into the book, you will have to keep in mind that it is a non-fiction piece as it reads like a novel. Larson’s use of imagery to describe the filth and pestilence of Chicago in the gilded age is remarkable as it makes you feel that you are inhaling the smoke filled air and looking at the endless litter. "The Devil in the White City" is a must for those who enjoy a work of well crafted non-fiction that includes a learning experience. I highly recommend it. (Comments? Questions?:

ONE MORE NOTE: I have added a few more links to the blog all of which bear a relationship to the subjects I write about. With one click you can now check out "Google News", click "North Scottsdale" for information about that area, movie and TV details are available from "IMDB", programmming notes and information from public radio and TV can be obtained by clicking "NPR" and "PBS", and by clicking "INDEPENDENT" you can read the entire "NORTH SCOTTSDALE INDEPENDENT" online. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy the site!

Monday, April 17, 2006


by Jim McAllister

"Watching the detectives, ‘Ooh, he’s so cute.’" That refrain was recorded by Elvis Costello in 1977 but covered much of the appeal of television detectives to female viewers through the years. Whether it was Edd "Kookie" Byrnes or Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. from "77 Sunset Strip" in the 1950's on through to Chris Noth of "Law and Order" in the 1990's and beyond, the ladies loved these guys for their good looks and heroic deeds. Men liked them also for being so tough, cool, and usually winning the best looking babe on the show. These programs were exciting and easy to understand thus propelling some of them to high ratings.
One of the earliest entries was "Man Against Crime"(1949-1956) starring perennial movie second lead Ralph Bellamy. This show carried over some of the traits of film noir from the movies since it originated in 1949. Bellamy played hard boiled P. I. Mike Barnett, a Dashiell Hammett type character, who usually spoke with his fists. It was a popular show that was a mainstay on CBS for many years.
RALPH BELLAMY (1904-91), star of MAN
AGAINST CRIME in a later undated photo.
I liked the end of this weekly show where
Ralph would announce which military hospitals
were being sent the sponsor's complimentary
cigarettes! Hello? (Photo: MBC)
During the same era, another type of private eye emerged on the TV scene. That was the more analytical and thoughtful type of sleuth. Two examples are "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" which ran as a syndicated series in 1954 and "The Adventures of Ellery Queen" which was first on from 1950-1952. These programs put the emphasis on the more cerebral aspects of the cases and eliminated much of the violence of some of their contemporaries. Ellery Queen challenged the viewer to put the pieces of the crime together and arrive at a solution. At the end of the program was usually a denoument to explain to the audience how Ellery figured out the case.
Another early style of detective show was the serio-comic approach which usually involved the comic interaction of a husband/wife or boyfriend/girlfriend as they went about the solving of a case. Examples of this style were shows like "Mr. And Mrs. North" (1952-1954), "Boston Blackie" (1951-1953), and "The Thin Man" (1957-1959).
starred in the comedy-mystery MR. AND MRS.
NORTH from 1952-54. (Photo: James Reasoner)
Most of these early entries were produced in New York and either done live, on kinescope, or filmed and, in most cases, were thirty minutes in length. By the late 1950's and into the 1960's, production values were increasing and the newer shows were becoming sixty minutes in length. These shows were mostly being filmed on the West Coast and many exhibited the image of "gloss and glamour" with beautiful girls and handsome guys in attractive settings. Examples of these shows are "77 Sunset Strip" (1958-1964) and "Hawaiian Eye" (1959-1963). These two were basically interchangeable as they had similar plots and stars and both came from Warner Brothers. One of the only differences was the settings: one in L. A. and one in Hawaii. Other notable detective shows from the 1960's include "Mannix" (1967-1975) with Mike Connors handling cases in a rough and tumble manner and "I Spy" (1966-1969) which was a lighthearted entry most notable for the success of Bill Cosby as the first black performer to star in a TV dramatic series.
EDD "KOOKIE" BYRNES, was a big
factor in the success of 77 SUNSET STRIP
in the late 1950's. (Photo:
The 1970's brought about more change in these programs. In the past the plots were completed in each week’s show with the following week producing completely different stories and guest casts. Now the story lines began involving repeat characters either from previous shows within the season or from past seasons. The emphasis was on people and situations more than violence and reality became a bigger factor. Some good examples of this programing are "The Rockford Files" (1974-1980), "Hill Street Blues" (1981-1987), and "Police Story" (1973-1977).
The 1970's would not be complete with out a mention of "Columbo" (1971-1977) starring Peter Falk in one of the wittiest and best acted detective shows. In the 1980's some more lightheartedness crept in with Tom Selleck as "Magnum P. I." (1980-1988) and the off beat "Moonlighting" (1985-1989) with Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis.
JAMES GARNER as Jim Rockford in
See Ed Robertson's book THIRTY
for details of this great show. (Photo:
Later shows like Homicide" (1993-1999), NYPD Blue (1993-2005), and Law and Order (1990- ) are still maintaining popularity through the same basic premise as shows of the 1970's: dealing with relationships with returning characters.
There are many more detective shows (No, I haven’t forgotten "Murder, She Wrote"!) but the ones mentioned give you a good idea of how the genre has changed through the years. My favorite? That’s easy, James Garner in "The Rockford Files". Other than the terrible clothes styles and cars of the 1970's, that show still holds up as strong as ever today. (Comments?

Monday, April 10, 2006


By Jim McAllister

The 1930's was a time of paranoia in the United States of America. With the advent of Adolf Hitler’s power in Germany combined with the rise in the popularity of Communism in the U. S. during the Depression, the Federal Government felt that necessary safeguards were in order to thwart these possible threats.
The Dies Committee was formed in 1938 as a precursor to the House Un-American Activities Committee with the sole purpose of investigating German American involvement with the Nazis and the involvement of Communists in the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the Federal Theater Project.
By 1946 the Dies Committee had become a permanent nine member group officially called the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). Their purpose was to investigate any possible threats to the policies of the government of the United States.
In 1947 the HUAC acted upon the Hollywood establishment after rumors persisted about Communist infiltration into the motion picture industry. Several members of the Hollywood community were questioned about supposed Communist activity and when they refused to answer the Committee’s questions based on their First Amendment rights, they became known as the blacklisted "Hollywood Ten". This group consisted mostly of writers and directors, some who were quite well know like Edward Dmytryk, Ring Lardner, Jr., and Dalton Trumbo. Eventually over 300 people were blacklisted including many well know actors of the time like Barbara Bel Geddes, Harry Belafonte, and Zero Mostel. One actor, Philip Loeb who starred in radio’s "The Goldbergs", actually committed suicide over his depression from being no longer able to find work in the entertainment industry. Some members of the "Hollywood Ten" were sentenced to prison terms of six months to one year in 1950 despite the fact that being a Communist was not actually against the law, it was simply not a popular organization to be a part of. In 1947, during the brouhaha of the "Ten", the Screen Actors Guild required its members to take a non-Communist pledge to satisfy the demands of the HUAC. The original "Hollywood Ten" were fired by the studios and all credits they had achieved were omitted or removed from Hollywood productions where they had been affiliated.
Many of the blacklisted writers found a detour around their ban from the industry by writing under pseudonyms or having friends pose as writers and submit scripts under their names. This policy was known as "fronting" and was detailed expertly in the 1976 Woody Allen production, "The Front". Allen’s production not only gave a vivid description of the era involved but starred many blacklisted actors like Mostel, Herschel Bernardi, and Lloyd Gough.
Chairman J. PARNELL THOMAS (R-NJ) is shown
swearing in a witness during the HUAC investigations
of 1947. Thomas was later jailed for accepting kickbacks.
(Photo: Modern Times)
The Committee for the First Amendment led
arrive in Washington for HUAC meetings.
(Photo: Modern Times)
Although the use of pseudonyms and fronting was popular, many of these individuals simply left the country to continue their careers. Some flourished in the United Kingdom where television and film work was plentiful. Others reverted to doing stage work in places like New York where theater owners were indifferent to the Hollywood attitudes.
By 1960, the inevitable passage of time and the seriousness of the "Red Scare" was weakening and when Otto Preminger hired Dalton Trumbo to write the script for "Exodus", the effect of the blacklist weakened. Kirk Douglas followed close behind by giving full writing credit also to Trumbo for "Spartacus". At the same time President elect Kennedy crossed American Legion picket lines to see the Douglas movie and by 1965 Ring Lardner, Jr. was given credit for writing "The Cincinnati Kid". In 1997 the writer’s guild agreed to change the credits of twenty-three movies made during the blacklist years to reflect the actual screenwriter’s names.
EDWARD DMYTRYK (right, foreground)
with Gregory Peck on the set of MIRAGE (1964)
(Photo: Modern Times)
In spite of the various methods used by blacklisted personnel from Hollywood, many had their careers ruined by the link to Communist activities. Where writers could used false names and fronts, actors couldn’t hide because of their obvious visibility. Larry Parks, Karen Morley, Sam Jaffe and many other fine actors lost parts because of HUAC activity against them.
Eventually, because of changes in attitude and politics, the barriers were dropped along with the HUAC which was abolished in 1975 when its duties were taken over by the House Judiciary Committee. Like the fear of movie censorship in the early 1930's which brought about the Breen Production Code Administration (Hays Code) and the powerful Catholic Legion of Decency, the power of the HUAC had run its course and became just another interesting part of American history. (Comments?

Friday, April 07, 2006


ROBIN WILLIAMS...His plan (Photo:
We all love Robin Williams for his offbeat sense of humor but the following is a piece from my buddy Allen in New Hampshire showing that Robin can be very logical at times. Wouldn't it be great if someone in power would pay attention? Thanks for the forward, Allen.

You gotta love Robin Williams......
Even if he's nuts! Leave it to Robin
Williams to come up with the perfect
plan. What we need now is for our
UN Ambassador to stand up and
repeat this message.
Robin Williams's plan...(Hard to
argue with this logic!)
"I see a lot of people yelling for peace,
but I have not heard of a plan for
peace. So, here's one plan.
1) "The US will apologize to the world for our 'interference' in their affairs, past & present. You know: Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Tojo, Noriega, Milosevic, Hussein, and the rest of those 'good ole boys;' we will never 'interfere' again.
2) "We will withdraw our troops from all over the world, starting with Germany, South Korea, the Middle East, and the Philippines. They don't want us there. We would station troops at our borders. No one allowed sneaking through holes in the fence.
3) "All illegal aliens have 90 days to get their affairs together and leave. We'll give them a free trip home. After 90 days, the remainder will be gathered up and deported immediately, regardless of who or where they are. They're illegal!!! France will welcome them.
4) "All future visitors will be thoroughly checked and limited to 90 days unless given a special permit!!!! No one from a terrorist nation will be allowed in If you don't like it there, change it yourself and don't hide here. Asylum would never be available to anyone. We don't need any more cab drivers or 7-11 cashiers.
5) "No foreign 'students' over age 21. The older ones are the bombers. If they don't attend classes, they get a D, and it's back home, baby.
6) "The US will make a strong effort to become self-sufficient energy-wise. This will include developing nonpolluting sources of energy, but will require temporary drilling for oil in the Alaska wilderness. The caribou will have to cope for a while.
7) "Offer Saudi Arabia and other oil-producing countries $10 a barrel for their oil. If they don't like it, we go someplace else. They can go somewhere else to sell their production. (About a week of the wells filling up the storage sites would be enough.)
8) "If there is a famine or other natural catastrophe in the world, we will not 'interfere.' They can pray to Allah, or whomever, for seeds, rain, cement, or whatever they need. Besides, most of what we give them is stolen or given
to the army. The people who need it most get very little, if anything.
9) "Ship the UN Headquarters to an isolated island someplace. We don't need the spies and fair-weather friends here. Besides, the building would make a good homeless shelter or lockup for illegal aliens.
10) "All Americans must go to charm and beauty school. That way, no one can call us 'Ugly Americans' any longer. The language we speak is ENGLISH...learn it...or LEAVE."
"Now, isn't that a winner of a plan?"
"The Statue of Liberty is no longer
saying, 'Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses.' She's got a baseball bat, and she's yelling, 'You want a piece of me?' "

Monday, April 03, 2006


by Jim McAllister

NEIL YOUNG: HEART OF GOLD ("Prairie Wind"), Starring Neil Young, Directed by Jonathan Demme, 103 minutes, rated PG for some drug related lyrics....I have listened to Neil Young’s music for most of my adult life and he doesn’t seem to have lost a step. My first remembrance of him is from his days with Buffalo Springfield where he worked with Stephen Stills to produce a couple of mid 1960's hits. Later he teamed with Stills plus David Crosby and Graham Nash for a couple of years in the early 1970's (remember CSNY?). After that he was pretty much a solo act but he usually stayed true to his country and rock roots. He has always been a welcome sight when he took the stage with his guitar and harmonica and cut loose in his cracking tenor voice.
A great concert film, it rivals Scorsese's
THE LAST WALTZ from 1978.
(Photo: and
Jonathan Demme)
In the spring of 2005, at age 59, Neil Young underwent a non invasive procedure to repair a brain aneurysm. By August he was back to work and prepared to star in "Neil Young: Heart of Gold", which was filmed over two nights at the former home of the Grand Ole Opry, the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee.
This film is a combination of music from Young’s autumn 2005 release of his album "Prairie Wind" combined with some older Young favorites. It opens as the musicians are arriving at the Ryman in their cars. Comments from long time Young back up musicians like Chad Cromwell, Ben Keith, and Grant Boatwright are interesting and the use of some hand held cameras on them gives a nice effect. A few scenes of Nashville add to the interest especially the shots of Tootsies, a popular night spot and favorite water hole of Grand Ole Opry legend Hank Williams.
NEIL YOUNG performing at the Ryman Auditorium
in NEIL YOUNG: HEART OF GOLD. (Photo: and Jonathan Demme)
Nighttime arrives and the camera zooms in on the well worn stage of the Ryman. Demme believes in close-ups and doesn’t spare them as he closes in for plenty of shots of a weather worn looking Young and his back up artists. Notable as a back up singer is Emmylou Harris, who is stunningly beautiful at 59, and we are fortunate to have Young and her do a duet. Young is in top form with his new stuff which includes a song dedicated to his college age daughter. He also exhibits a sense of humor talking about some of his days of growing up in Canada. He explains the sources of some of his older music like "Old Man" which he wrote after being asked by the caretaker of his ranch (an older man, Luis Avila) how he made enough money at his age (24 at the time) to afford such a spread. The caretaker had no idea that Young was a superstar or as Neil says, "a rich hippie". Of the newer tunes I especially liked "This Old Guitar", which Young played on Hank Williams’own guitar, and the title song "Prairie Wind". Among the oldies was the expected "Heart of Gold", now thirty-four years old and from his 1972 album "Harvest". It isYoung’s only song to make it to number one on the charts.
EMMYLOU HARRIS....A gorgeous lady and a
great talent, she is an important part of NEIL
. (Photo:
At 103 minutes, the length of the film feels just right and has a fitting ending with Young singing solo with guitar over the closing credits. I have seen a lot of good concert films and "Neil Young: Heart of Gold" is one of the best. I would rank it in the same league as Martin Scorsese’s "The Last Waltz" (1978) as he chronicled the last appearance of The Band on Thanksgiving Day of 1976. Coincidently, Neil Young also appeared in that film.
I advise all Neil Young fans to catch this one and take some friends who aren’t familiar with the man from the plains of Canada. I guarantee you will bring about some converts.
MUSICAL MILEPOSTS: David Gilmour of Pink Floyd has a new album, "On an Island". The word is that it is selling well having gone gold in several countries already. Known for his guitar work, Gilmour plays some saxophone on this new CD. He also celebrated birthday number 60 on March 6.....
STEVEN TYLER of Aerosmith. The
ageless rocker recently underwent
surgery for an undisclosed illness.
Reports are that he is doing fine.
(Photo: MGM)
Steven Tyler, lead singer for Aerosmith, has undergone recent surgery for an undisclosed illness. Because of this the band has been forced to cancel its North American tour. Tyler is 58.....The Indian Casinos have given new life to some performers who may have had trouble booking dates to perform. Among those who are taking advantage of the new forums are Connie Francis, Mary Wilson (of Supremes fame), David Cassidy, and Patti Page.....Queen is also touring and playing in large venues. It is their first tour since 1991 when lead singer Freddie Mercury died. Paul Rodgers, formerly of Free and Bad Company, has taken over the vocal duties. (Comments?