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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Those oldies but goodies and you

Rick Derringer (left) and The McCoys did "Hang On Sloopy" in 1965

It doesn’t matter who you are or whether you are a man or a woman, you probably have a lot of old popular songs that are etched into your mind. Why are they there? Probably because music is one of the greatest sources of bringing back memories, whether good or bad. Is there anyone on Earth who doesn’t know some of the lyrics from "Louie, Louie"?

I was listening to Music Choice Solid Gold the other night on Cox Cable and it was like a trip back in time. Suddenly, I was remembering old cars I had, former girlfriends, and nights at the drive-in movies (I think I hold the record for the fewest movies seen at a drive-in between 1957 and 1961 and I’m damn proud of it!). Then there were the tunes from the military years, early days of a great marriage, and beyond. Songs are great memory makers, those old 2 ½ to 3 minute tunes are hard to forget. Here are some I heard recently and my recollections of them. What are some of your favorites and your memories of them?

1957: "Diana," by Paul Anka, "Wake Up Little Susie," by The Everly Brothers. I turned 16 and started driving legally that summer. Those songs remind me of make out sessions in a ‘54 Ford.

1959: "Sleep Walk," by Santo and Johnny, "What’d I Say?" by Ray Charles. It was a great summer, met my first steady girl, drove a ‘57 Chevy to California on Route 66 to meet another girl. I was young, free, and life was good along with the music. Remember "Venus" by Frankie Avalon? "Pink Shoe Laces" by Dodie Stevens?

1961: "Runaround Sue" by Dion, "Runnin’ Scared" by Roy Orbison, "Moody River" by Pat Boone. I was 20, had a girl, a job, went water skiing almost every day until September when Uncle Sam called.

1962: "Peppermint Twist" by Joey Dee and the Starlighters, "Duke of Earl" by Gene Chandler, "The Loco-Motion" by Little Eva. Stationed near Kansas City, no more girl friend but still had my ‘57 Chevy and chances to meet new girls. Sorry, Nancy, It was fun while it lasted.

1963: "It’s My Party" by Lesley Gore, "Sugar Shack" by Jimmy Gilmer, "Surf City" by Jan and Dean. Back from Germany, partying a lot in Kansas City, eating at McDonald’s so I had more money for drinking. Listening to the tunes on "Yours truly WHB,"AM radio full blast.

1965: "Downtown" by Petula Clark, "Help Me, Rhonda" by The Beach Boys, "Yesterday" by The Beatles. Discharged from Air Force in September, back to Cincinnati and college. Met future wife Barb a month after hitting town. The number one tune when I met her? "Hang on Sloopy" by The McCoys with lead guitarist Rick Derringer ("Rock and Roll Hoochie-Coo").

I could go on but you know what I mean. Most of my stuff may be a bit old unless you are Don, Tom Moore, or animadvert, some of my contemporaries. Don’t be afraid of the newer stuff. I remember disco, electronic ‘80s stuff, Madonna, Falco, Rockwell, Phil Collins, Supertramp, Rush, U2, Kim Wilde, etc. If it’s hip-hop or rap, though, forget it. I have to draw the line somewhere!

Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello in their "Beach Party" days. His "Venus" was a big hit in 1959. It was great drive-in song.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Have a great holiday

Christmas 1968 in cold Ohio


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Obama not smoking joint, or is he?

Have you seen the TIME photos of Barack Obama? They were taken in 1980 by Lisa Jack and are all over the internet. Obama was a freshman at Occidental College in Los Angeles at the time so he is probably eighteen in these pictures.

A mild furor has arisen over whether the cigarette he is smoking is a marijuana joint or not. Some also say that the bracelet on his right wrist is some sort of Islamic spiritual bracelet. My opinion is that the cigarette is a plain old Winston, Marlboro, or whatever. It looks too round and manufactured to be a joint which would have that "roll your own" look.

However, if it is a joint, so what? He was an 18 year old kid and 18 year old kids do things that are stupid and regretted later. If you show me a photo of him puffing a joint at age 47 in the East Room of the White House, then I will be concerned. Bill Clinton admitted to smoking a joint but, of course, he didn’t inhale. (Yeah, right!)

As far as the bracelet, I don’t know anything about Islamic spiritual bracelets but the one on Obama’s wrist looks like one of those bracelets golfers wear to supposedly combat wrist pain. The Obama naysayers will have to do better than this to succeed.

For others who think they can dig up something to get the election reversed, they better hurry. They have one month and three days before he takes the oath. Let’s not forget the people who claim he is a draft dodger and not a "natural born citizen." I have to believe he isn’t a draft dodger and is a citizen or he wouldn’t have gotten this far. The only thing that troubles me is why he doesn’t pull his original birth certificate and draft card from his files at home and produce them as proof? Wouldn’t that end all doubts so we could move ahead? Maybe he has done that and it has not been publicized. Does anybody know? I didn't vote for him but I would like to see some concrete evidence against him before I say throw the guy out.

I guess a lot of scrutiny has to do with Obama being an exotic kind of guy. He is of mixed race and has a background unlike any president we have elected. That makes a lot of people suspicious; people who would never have dreamed of investigating guys like Ike, Reagan, FDR, Teddy Roosevelt, or Lincoln.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Memories on a Safeway Shelf

Recently I was shopping at Safeway in Scottsdale and as I picked up a can of Consort hair spray (Hey, sportscaster Dan Patrick recommends it!), I noticed some old favorites are still on the shelf. They may have been reduced to one facing but it was like a trip down memory lane to see them. In all their glory sat Vitalis hair tonic, Groom and Clean hair gel, Alberto VO5 cream, and Brylcreem.

At some time in my life I used all those items along with others that are probably non existent now like Wildroot Cream Oil and Fitch hair tonic. I remember putting so much of the white Wildroot cream on my hair as a kid that when I combed it, the white cream collected on the comb. Fitch was a barber shop favorite. As a kid, you would always get your hair doused with that stuff after the barber cut your hair. He also would never cut your hair the way you wanted. He would always say "I think your mother would rather have it this way." Kids had no leverage in those days. Now, they would probably pull out their cell phone and call their lawyer on the barber AND their mom.

Vitalis was like Fitch, full of alcohol. It was actually flammable as I found out one day when I dropped a match in some. VO5 was basically a cream that you used to slick your hair down. It was more of a dressing than a gel and women even used it to give their hair a bit more body. Most guys remember Brylcreem and its great slogan of "a little dab’ll do ya, you’ll look so debonaire." Groom and Clean was a favorite of mine in the ‘60s. It was a blue gel that was not greasy, it would wash off your hands with plain water but left you hair with that nice 60s slicked down look.

By 1970, the "slicked down" look was disappearing after Gillette came out with a hair spray for men called "The Dry Look." By then I had been married for three years and made the big decision to change my act and have been a dry hair guy ever since. However, I still have fond memories of the old days of Groom and Clean and the other stuff combined with a splash of Brut or Hai Karate after shave. A guy couldn’t miss with the ladies on a Saturday night with those combinations! Add a pipe full of Captain Black tobacco and their slogan of "The chicks are back" could come true.

Now, if I can find some Butch Wax in case I go back to a flat top hair cut, I’ll be all set.. By the way, did anyone see a can of Burma Shave laying around? I lost mine.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Are print newspapers doomed?

As I continue observing Main Street, I notice a lot more driveways without the morning paper, both on Sunday and during the week. Is the death knell being sounded for the daily newspaper? The economy could be a factor as discontinuing the paper is one way to save about $5 a week. But, I think it is more than that. Newspaper subscriptions have been dropping for years and many nationally known papers have gone out of business. With the internet and TV, the daily hard copy paper has become a Model T in the age of jet travel.

In October, the East Valley Tribune dropped its coverage of Scottsdale and Tempe. They will now serve only the East Valley with emphasis on Mesa and Gilbert. They will also be a four day a week publication free to the public. They say that seven day per week coverage will be through their online edition. These cutbacks included a layoff of 142 jobs or 40% of their workers.

The key words are "online edition." That’s the way many papers are going. It allows them to compete with the immediacy of the 24 hour TV news stations and it is a lot less expensive to operate. Advertising is a main source of revenue and if you read any online editions, you will notice that there is no scarcity of ads surrounding the stories. Whether they have the same effect as a newspaper ad, I do not know but it may get to the point where it doesn’t matter. Long time Phoenix journalist Jana Bommersbach reports "Subscriptions are down, advertising revenue is down, and there are only so many cuts you can make in a business with expensive overhead–big buildings, larger printing plants, miles of newsprint, all that ink, a cumbersome distribution system, etc."

Other factors in the success of online editions is the emergence of the blogger. Many bloggers have large followings which means that every time a reader tunes in to them, they will be getting impressions of ads surrounding the blogs which in turn can mean increased revenue. And, since bloggers are normally unpaid, it is all plus business.

People want their news fast. If it happened at 10:00 this morning they don’t want to wait until they pick up their paper in the driveway at 5:00 tomorrow morning to read about it. Many have decided that they also don’t want to have to pay for that type of service through subscriptions when they can get news immediately for free.

The handwriting may be on the wall for hard copy papers but, as I have said before, I am a newspaper guy and I love to read my morning paper with a cup of Joe. I suppose the hard copy edition will survive but in an unfamiliar form. That is what the East Valley Tribune found out.