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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Miscellaneous ramblings

Do you wonder why you don’t see kids playing outside anymore? A Kaiser Family Foundation study found that kids 8 to 18 spend each day with 4.5 hours watching TV, 2.5 hours listening to music, 30 minutes on a cell phone, 1.3 hours on video games, 1.5 hours texting, and 1.5 hours of nonschool computer use. Add sleeping and school and there isn’t much time for doing much else. Kids are hooked on technology and many have lost their ability to have meaningful face to face conversations. They’ll never know the fun of catching fireflies and playing hide and seek. (They may not miss fireflies in AZ; I've never seen one here, plenty in Ohio though)

On last November 28, actor and Paradise Valley resident Leslie Nielsen died at age 84. On October 16, actress Barbara Billingsley died at 94. Both had a link to the 1980 spoof film classic “Airplane” where they played completely against type. Nielsen was usually the handsome first or second lead in films or TV. Billingsley was the straight laced mom June Cleaver in the 50’s TV series “Leave it to Beaver.” In “Airplane”, she was a jive talking grandmother. Nielsen went comic with his role as the staid Dr. Rumack. Surely they will both be missed to which Nielsen would probably reply “Don’t call me Shirley!”

Barbara Billingsley (AP)

Freeman Gosden (L) and Charles Corell in blackface doing "Amos 'n' Andy. (below) The show was so popular that movie theaters would delay film start times so customers could hear the nightly 15 minute show on radio.

January contains two dates three days apart that had important effects on the Black community. On January 15, 1929, civil rights leader Martin Luther King was born. On January 12, 1926, “Sam and Henry”, a humorous show dealing with Blacks who had migrated from the South to Chicago, made its radio debut. King became famous as a civil rights leader. “Sam and Henry” evolved into “Amos ‘n’ Andy”, one of the most popular shows in radio history. George Bernard Shaw once said “There are three things I’ll never forget about America: the Rocky Mountains, Niagara Falls, and “Amos ‘n’ Andy”.

There are many ways to receive entertainment and connect with friends so I wonder if anyone listens to AM radio anymore. AM began in 1920 and was the rage among kids and adults. By 1922, Phoenix had its first station which in 1929 became KTAR under ownership of The Arizona Republic. Today, AM is primarily talk radio or a ball game broadcast in the background but in the 1920’s, it ruled the entertainment business and was an important part of the Jazz Age.

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