Category Archives: Music

August anniversaries

Gulfport, Mississippi and Bethel, New York are 1,283 miles (2,065 kilometers) apart.

It would seem as these two locales would have absolutely nothing in common.

Yet they are forever linked by 17 August 1969.

Those who were in Bethel that day remember it fondly and wish they could go back.

Those in Gulfport that day would probably like to forget.

Thirty days after Ted Kennedy drove Mary Jo Koepechne to her death off Martha’s Vineyard, 28 days after Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set foot on the moon, nine days after Sharon Tate and four others were brutally butchered by Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenewinkel, Leslie Van Houten and Tex Watson on orders of Charles Manson, there came an August Sunday which made not one, but two, indelible impressions on the United States of America.

Woodstock, held on Max Yasgur’s Dairy Farm, a little more than 100 miles (160 km) from New York’s LaGuardia Airport, was filled with three and a half days of “peace, love and music”. The names of those who performed that weekend are legendary: Janis Joplin, Joe Cocker, Jimi Hendrix, Santana, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Who. The list of those who didn’t perform may have been just as impressive: Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles were among those who said no.

There were hopes for a 50th anniversary Woodstock. Many of the performers at the original festival who are still alive were invited. However, it never got off the ground and was cancelled in June. It would have been held at the Watkins Glen automobile race course, about 155 miles (250 km) west-northwest of Bethel.

Two years after Woodstock, organizers attempted a similar festival in Louisiana. They found some land on a levee along the Atchafayla River in Pointe Coupee Parish, 60 miles (97 km) northwest of Baton Rouge and 80 miles (128 km) southeast of Alexandria.

The Festival of Life was nothing short of a disaster. Needless to say, nothing like that has been attempted again in Louisiana.

While 400,000 were having the time of their lives in New York, residents of the Gulf Coast from New Orleans to Panama City were dealing with something which was certainly not peaceful.

Hurricane Camille crossed the western tip of Cuba hours before Richie Havens opened Woodstock. Once it emerged into the hot waters (30 degrees Celsius/86 F) of the Gulf of Mexico, it exploded, surpassing the intensity of Betsy, which had winds of 145 miles per hour (223 km/h) when it crossed the Louisiana coast at Grand Isle the evening of 9 Sepember 1965 and caused over $1 billion of damage and 76 deaths in what would become my native state.

Camille’s winds reached 170 miles per hour (265 km/h) as it made it way steadily towards the Florida panhandle the afternoon of 16 August. From Pensacola to Panama City, thousands of residents headed north into Georgia and Alabama.

The next morning, Camille was still on her inexorable march towards land.

The target, however, had shifted dramatically westward.

The storm had shifted to a north-northwest track, a path which would lead it straight towards New Orleans. It appeared the storm would follow a path eerily similar to Betsy’s, making landfall approximately 25 miles (40 km) east of Grand Isle.

If that occurred, New Orleans would have been utterly destroyed. My parents would have perished.

Eventually, the storm took a due north heading, crossing the mouth of the Mississippi River. It wiped much of southern Plaquemines Parish (county) off the map. Fortunately, evacuation orders were followed and nobody died in Louisiana.

Mississippi was not as fortunate.

The storm crossed the coast on the border between Hancock and Harrison counties. Pass Christian was ground zero. The small town between Bay St. Louis and Gulfport was blown away. Nothing remained standing.

Had the storm come in a few miles/kilometers further east, Gulfport would have been ground zero, and Biloxi would have been devastated more than it already was.

The wind speed at landfall will never be known. The wind measuring instruments in Gulfport and Biloxi were demolished. J

The storm killed 160 in Mississippi, but Camille wasn’t done.

Her remnants dumped buckets of rain on northern Mississippi, Tennessee and Kentucky before once again exploding in the mountains of Virginia and West Virginia.

This time, nobody had any notion of what was coming. Over 100 people perished in the Old Dominion, and floodwaters came dangerously close to leaving Richmond completely swamped. Richmond and Roanoke, two of the commonwealth’s largest cities, were spared the worst, but it was of little consolation.

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Twenty-five years ago this morning, I almost died because of my own stupidity.

It was that Sunday I moved into my dormitory at LSU in advance of my first semester of college.

I almost didn’t make. I probably shouldn’t have.

The night before, I slept maybe three hours. I left my house in New Orleans at 0600. My father followed me to help me move my belongings into my sardine of a room at Power Hall, which thankfully has been demolished and replaced with modern apartments.

This was the first time I drove from New Orleans to Baton Rouge alone. I knew the route, but every time, my dad was with me.

The first 50 miles (80 km) was fine.

Suddenly, I found myself drifting off the road to my right.

I fell asleep shortly after the St. James/Ascension parish line. I panicked and cut the wheel of my 1989 Chevrolet Cavalier sharply to the left. That took me across both lanes of traffic and into the median. By time I was done, I was facing westbound in the eastbound lanes of traffic.

If it were any other time except Sunday morning, I would have been dead or paralyzed.

I was beyond lucky that no traffic was coming either way. I crossed the median and continued my journey.

When I got to the McDonald’s on Louisiana Highway 30 in Gonzales to meet my dad for breakfast, I told him. He agreed I was very, very lucky.

Power Hall featured seven two-story units, rather than one high-rise. I am grateful I lived on the first floor. Climbing the stairs carrying things would have been hellish.

There was a communal bathroom and shower just down the hall. I made sure I took my shower early in the morning so I didn’t have others in there. I don’t recall anyone else ever using a shower at the same time I did.

I had a private room at Power Hall, so it was a little better. I would not want anyone to have to deal with me as a roommate, nor do I care to have someone else in my room. I like my privacy.

When I returned to LSU in January 1997, the department of campus housing did not give me a private dorm room at Kirby-Smith Hall, a high rise on the northwest edge of campus. After sleeping in the room for two nights, I hastily moved off-campus. Lucky for me, the person who was assigned to the room had not checked in, so I was alone. That worked out better, because it allowed me to stay in Baton Rogue year-round. I should have thought it out better when I first went to LSU.

The efficiency I lived in for the last two and a half years at LSU was a rat trap. I was desperate and I didn’t want to make my parents pay an outrageous sum, so I took what I could find. I lived to tell the tale.

There are so many things I wish I had done differently in college. Leaving LSU after my first year was a huge mistake. Not paying attention in class was another. I cry about it. A lot.

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High school football is cranking up. I want to be back in Louisiana covering games on Friday night. Kansas high school football is severely lacking.

The mind of a scatterbrain

SIX, the hour-long Buzztime trivia game on Wednesday and Thursday evenings at 1930 CT, made me look really dumb.

Greek mythology, birthmarks, George Clooney, bowling…all stumped the hell out of me. I had my lowest score in that game, below 40,000, in at least five years.

I know everyone has a bad game, but my bad game found me missing question after question. I almost didn’t come out tonight to play, but since I had to drop off my busted keyboard at UPS in Hays so it can be shipped off to Indiana to complete my warranty claim, I decided to go to the Golden Q anyway.

Between finding out I had ruined my keyboard, the frustration with dictation, my poor trivia game and then staying up far too late watching The Brady Bunch, yesterday wasn’t that good. The only good thing was the session with Crista in the morning.

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Today is the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the most important day in the history of the United States military, or at least in the last 150 years. I hope the rain which flooded Baton Rouge this morning didn’t do the same in New Orleans, where there have been commemorations all day.

The Greatest Generation will be completely gone by time the 80th anniversary rolls around. Every president from Truman to Trump has done a fine job honoring the men who prevented the evil of fascism from spreading its tentacles past Germany and Italy.

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The Sixth of June was mentioned in the opening line of C.W. McCall’s 1975 hit “Convoy”. Truckers have taken advantage by declaring June 6 International Convoy Day. I don’t know if it started in ’75, but it has been going on for many years.

McCall’s song was a subtle dig at the numerous regulations hampering the trucking industry, including high tolls, the 55-mile per hour (89 kilometers per hour) speed limit which took effect at the beginning of 1974, and weight restrictions designed to keep truckers off of secondary roads, where the weight of their cargo could cause significant damage.

“Convoy” also included a series of conversations between truckers on Citizens Band (CB) radio, and it drove CB radio sales through the roof in the second half of ’75 and ’76. The song hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in early ’76, something unusual for country songs in that era.

“Sixth of June” rhymed with “Dark of Moon”, but I’m also betting McCall chose June 6 because it was D-Day. The fifth of June would have worked just as well, but wouldn’t have had the hook as the sixth.

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The Brewers were outscored TWENTY FOUR to THREE in losing two games to the Marlins Tuesday and Wednesday, including a 16-0 destruction Tuesday, the worst home loss in the club’s history, which goes back to 1969, their year as the Seattle Pilots. I can accept losing by a combined 24-3 to the Dodgers, Phillies, Cubs or Yankees. But the Marlins, who are so crappy nobody wants to watch them play in Miami.

Milwaukee won 5-1 today to avert the sweep, and they are one game back of the Cubs in the loss column. Miami is 23-37, the worst in the National League, but still comfortably ahead of the American’s League’s dynamic duo, Baltimore and Kansas City, who each have yet to win 20.

I feel for Wichita. The good news is the city is getting a Triple-A baseball team next year, the first time since 2007 it will have an affiliated Minor League Baseball team. The bad news is it’s the Marlins Triple-A team, which currently plays in New Orleans. Having the Marlins as an affiliate has depressed attendance in New Orleans, and that’s a reason why my native city won’t have professional baseball in 2020 and for the foreseeable future.

The Marlins shouldn’t be in Miami. The city only supports professional sports if they win big. The Dolphins have struggled mightily to attract fans since Dan Marino retired following the 1999 season. The Heat sold out regularly when LeBron colluded with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh to form their big three, but empty seats were common before and after Wade. The Panthers? Don’t get me started about the NHL in the south. They are one of Gary Bettman’s charity cases.

Even worse, Jeffrey Loria conned the taxpayers of Miami-Dade into building him that eyesore where the Orange Bowl once stood. I’m not going to argue (a) the Dolphins’ stadium (currently Hard Rock Stadium) was a dreadful baseball venue and (b) a retractable roof (or permanent roof in the Rays’ case) is a must for baseball in subtropical climates. Why did it take the Rangers 48 seasons of playing outdoors to figure that out? And why did the Braves not figure it out when they built SunTrust Park?

How the Marlins won two World Series is beyond me. Actually, I know how.

The first, in 1997, was Wayne Huizenga printing money to buy a team, plus getting help from Eric (Rerun) Gregg’s ridiculously bloated strike zone in the NLCS vs. the Braves.

The second, in 2003, was because the Marlins hoarded so many prospects from trading all their big names, and the Cubs melting down after the Steve Bartman incident. A blind squirrel can find an acorn every blue moon. A watch is right twice a day. And the Marlins can win a title.

Remember, the Marlins have two World Series titles and zero division titles. They also have zero postseason appearances outside their World Series years.

Another thing that angers me to no end about the Marlins is the hero worship of Jose Fernandez, their stud pitcher who died in a boating accident with two others one week before the end of the 2016 season.

The Marlins continue to keep his locker preserved and won’t issue his number 16, even though it was determined Fernandez was drunk and high on cocaine when he operated the boat in a wreckless manner at night in rough seas. Fernandez KILLED two other people with his stupidity. Yet the tone-deaf Marlins continue to deify him.

The Royals have done the same with Yordano Ventura, who died in a January 2017 accident in the Dominican Republic. The DR sealed the results of his autopsy.

GEE, WHY DO YOU THINK?

Ventura was probably under the influence of something the day he died. Besides, he was a big reason why the 2015 Royals were a cocky group of jerks. Ventura started several bench clearing brawls by throwing high and inside.

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The Blues and Bruins play the critical fifth game of the Stanley Cup Finals tonight in Boston. Puck drop in about 25 minutes. St. Louis needs this one more, because it can go back to Missouri and clinch Sunday. Boston still has a mulligan if it wins, because game seven would be in Massachusetts Wednesday.

The Warriors were crushed last night by the Raptors in Oakland despite 47 from Stephen Curry. Uh oh. With Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant struggling with injuries, Golden State may be fighting an uphill battle, similar to the way the Lakers did 30 years ago when they were trying to three-peat vs. the Pistons. That year, Magic Johnson and James Worthy were crippled by injuries, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was 42 and nearing retirement. Detroit swept.

Golden State has to win tomorrow. Well, it could come back from a 3-1 deficit the way the Cavaliers did to them in 2016, but I wouldn’t bet on it. If the Raptors win, it will just show how ridiculous the Maple Leafs’ continuing Stanley Cup drought is.

30 years ago: out of the (Arabi) park

I didn’t realize it until this morning, but Sunday marked the 30th anniversary of my last day at Arabi Park Middle School.

There were no classes that Friday; it was just to pick up our report cards and say goodbye until late August, or in my case, say goodbye, period.

I knew since mid-February I would not be attending eighth grade at Arabi Park. I received my acceptance letter to Brother Martin High, which has an eighth grade, February 11, four days after Mardi Gras and three before Valentine’s Day. I was surprised I got in, because I thought attending a public school would work heavily against me. Apparently, someone saw something in me to let me in.

I did have some help.

The admissions director at Brother Martin at the time, Greg Rando, had a sister-in-law, Anne, who was the assistant principal at Arabi Park. Greg, who graduated from Brother Martin in 1977, later became principal and is now president at his alma mater. Anne really helped me navigate the choppy waters at Arabi Park, especially the last three months after I was accepted to Brother Martin.

The famous trip to the Stennis Space Center on the Mississippi Gulf Coast came five days after I received my acceptance letter. On that trip, I wore not a shirt for my future high school, but the college I hoped to attend…Kansas State. It had Willie Wildcat, the cartoon mascot who bore a striking resemblance to Tom from Tom and Jerry, on the front.

On my last day at Arabi Park, I wore a Brother Martin t-shirt. Mrs. Rando was proud to show me off wearing it, but a lot of my classmates were not thrilled. Stacie Dauterive (Seube) was relieved I would be attending school in Gentilly, but I can’t blame her. I gave her and the other female members of my classes a lot of grief. I feel horrible I cannot apologize to Allison Richardson (White), who passed away from cancer in 2008. If I could have taken her place, I would have.

I admit I had a crush on Stacie at Arabi Park. She is a beautiful lady, but she is intelligent, kind and funny, and I love her much more for that. Her sister, Andree, is the same way. They definitely got it from their parents. Stacie could have been great at anything she wanted to, but she chose to give back by becoming a teacher like her mom.

Stacie has an autistic son, something which is heartbreaking for me. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. But he will thrive because he has great parents and a great family support system.

Rosemarie Renz (Huguet) went to school with me in kindergarten through fourth grade and could handle my antics, but the others couldn’t, but I really have no ill will towards them. I came into their universe in the second quarter of their sixth grade year, and I was, well, different. Nobody knew what Asperger’s Syndrome was in the United States, and they wouldn’t for five more years.

God, I miss Rosie. She is my oldest friend. I was sad when I didn’t get to see her in Baton Rouge last year. I hope my next visit there will reunite us. Rosie, like Stacie, is a teacher. The profession is that much better because of people like Rosie and Stacie.

I DID see Jason Malasovich, my second oldest friend, in Kansas City last year. I had the pleasure of meeting his lovely wife, Melissa, and their kids, Olivia and Carson. I’ve known Jason since we played basketball together in 1986-87.

And I’ll never forget Toni LaRocca in a Hooters uniform in 2000. She is such a wonderful soul whom I would give anything to see again, just like Rosie and Stacie.

I’ll never forget the others, either: Shawn O’Neil, Lara Doyle (Meyers), Kimberly Carmouche (Lee), Christi Rehage (Alvarez), Tammy Gilbert (the brains of the APM Class of ’90), Holly Atwood (Syrdal), Erin Billingsley (Lee), Nicole Meyer (who was taller than all the boys and damn good at the flute), Juli Wahl, Tina Calabresi, Vanessa Condra, Janis Maillet, Jack Bastoe, Jared Couture, Brandon Miller….plus a few who graduated before me, especially Jennifer Newell and Chastity Manzella.

They probably don’t remember me, but hey, memories fade.

I got teased quite a bit because I really liked Phyllis Marsolan, our sixth grade English teacher. I liked her, but most of her other students were more lukewarm. She was my first teacher crush, followed by Janine Koenig, my eighth grade science teacher, at Brother Martin. But I knew better than to act. It would have been disastrous for all involved.

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Yesterday was what I like to call Desiree Day.

That’s because in the opening line of Neil Diamond’s 1977 hit “Desiree”, it mentions the third of June as the night he supposedly became a man (read: lost his virginity) to a woman twice his age named Desiree.

Desiree is one of my favorite Diamond songs, and I have a lot of them. Here’s the Foots top 15:

15. I’m Alive

14. I’m a Believer (no, that is not a typo; Diamond came out with a version of the Monkees smash in 1967)

13. You Don’t Bring Me Flowers

12. Coming to America

11. Crunchy Granola Suite

10. Soolamion

9. Shiloh

8. Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show

7. Kentucky Woman

6. Cherry Cherry

5. Song Sung Blue

4. Desiree

3. Forever in Blue Jeans

2. Play Me

1. Cracklin’ Rosie

Notice what Diamond song is not up there. If I’ve offended any Red Sox fans, then too freaking bad.

Thursday is another anniversary mentioned in a song. Can you guess?

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The Blues and Bruins have alternated wins in the Stanley Cup Finals, with Boston winning the odds and St. Louis the evens. St. Louis has to break that pattern, preferably Thursday in game five at Boston. If the Blues win, they can clinch the Cup Sunday in St. Louis.

St. Louis had to watch the Canadiens skate the Cup in 1968 and ’69 after the Blues were swept in the final. In 1970, the Blues somehow had home-ice advantage, but it didn’t work a bit, with the Bruins sweeping, winning the finale in the Boston Garden on that goal by Bobby Orr.

The Stanley Cup has been skated four times in Boston since then, all by visitors: the Canadiens in ’77 and ’78, the Oilers in ’90 and the Blackhawks in 2013. Boston won the Cup in ’72 in Madison Square Garden vs. the Rangers, and in 2011 the Bruins won it in Vancouver, taking Game 7 4-0 after the home team won the first six games.

St. Louis has payback for more than 1970 on its minds. The city would like to get Boston back for the 2014 and ’13 World Series, Super Bowl XXXVI in February 2002, and the 1961 NBA Finals, the last time the Hawks franchise has made the finals.

In the NBA, the Warriors went on an 18-0 run to start the third quarter Sunday and won by five in Toronto, squaring that series 1-1. Had Golden State lost, it would have been bleak for the Warriors, even going back to Oakland. Hopefully the Warriors can hold serve at home and close it out, because the last thing I want is to see Drake leading a parade in Toronto.

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Feeding myself and my trivia addiction at Old Chicago in Salina. Got my hair cut by Amber. I have something groovy waiting for me in Russell..gl.

Rambling on at March’s midpoint

Yes, I succumbed to my craving for IHOP’s Swedish crepes last night for dinner. I nearly regretted it.

I left Buffalo Wild Wings at 1730 and immediately got my breakfast for dinner. But I admit I got a little greedy…I added an order of the Nutella crepes and hash browns to my Thursday night/Friday morning order.

I ate all the Nutella crepes, the hash browns, and I started on the Swedish. I also finished half a can of Lay’s Stax plus a small bag of popcorn.

I watched two movies and three episodes of Law & Order: SVU before going to bed. I was starting to fade during the episode which aired on NBC, so I’ll probably watch it again before I leave Kansas City.

At 0400, my gluttony caught up with me. Indigestion. Bad.

I managed to get a little more sleep before I woke up for good at 0610. Some Extra Strength Alka Seltzer helped, and I ate my crepes for breakfast.

God I might wear out the iHOP in Hays when I go back west. Or both in Salina when I’m traveling there.

I was able to order wings from Buffalo Wild Wings today. However, the fish sandwich it is offering during Lent was outstanding. Larry had it when I met him yesterday to play trivia and he liked it, so I said what the heck. Excellent. I’m not a huge fan of beer-battered fish, but B-Dubs doesn’t bury the fish in batter like Long John Silver’s.

FYI, LJS gave me the terrible heartburn in Hutchinson during Norton’s game with Royal Valley last Friday. Never again. However, I don’t foresee myself in Hays in a situation where I would need to eat on a Lenten Friday again this year. Either I’ll be in Russell or somewhere which has more options.

Why am I eating LJS? Come on, I lived in Louisiana for almost 29 years. It’s the same as a chef at Morton’s or Ruth’s Chris eating truck stop steak.

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Huddersfield Town is almost out of the Premier League. Fulham will be joining them. The third relegation spot is up for grabs, with Cardiff City, Burnley, Southampton, Crystal Palace, Newcastle, Brighton and Hove Albion, and West Ham not entirely safe.

Liverpool and Manchester City have separated themselves in the title chase. The next four–Tottenham, Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea–are battling for spots in the UEFA Champions and Europa Leagues.

Wolverhampton is having a great first season back in the Premier League after being in the Championship for six seasons. Watford is in good form and could finish in the top half. Bournemouth is somehow afloat despite playing in that bandbox stadium. Everton is again a disappointment. No reason it cannot challenge the “Big Six”.

As for Leicester, another mid-table finish is coming down the pike in the East Midlands. It’s been a very hard year at the KP; Leicester’s owner perished in a helicopter crash on the stadium grounds following a match earlier this season, and recently, manager Claude Puel was sacked.

Yes, the expectations for the Foxes have been through the roof since the miracle championship of 2015-16. On the other hand, Leicester doesn’t have the resources nor the deep top-flight tradition of the Big Six. Considering the Foxes were all but relegated at Christmas 2014, to not be in the relegation scrap after Christmas the last two seasons is pretty good.

There will be no new faces in the Premier League for 2019-20. The current top two, Derby County and Sheffield United, have been there before, as are closest pursuers Leeds United, West Bromwich Albion, Middlesbrough and Aston Villa.

Major League Soccer started its season earlier this month. Sporting Kansas City or any other team could lose every game and end with zero points–that’s nearly impossible–but would stay in the top flight. That’s why I don’t watch MLS, among other reasons.

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I wonder if the Vatican knows St. Bonaventure and Saint Louis will play fo rite Atlantic 10 Conference tournament championship tomorrow, with the winner going to the NCAA tournament. Two fine Catholic institutions battling it out, although I am partial to the fellows from Olean, New York. I am still peeved Saint Louis once employed the late Rick Majerus, who, despite being Roman Catholic, opposed the church’s teachings on many issues, including abortion. I’ll leave it at that. Majerus was a heck of a coach, as evidenced by his success at Ball State and Utah, but his personal life was odd to say the least.

St. Bonaventure made the Final Four in 1970, but lost the best player to ever wear the brown and white of the Bonnies (formerly Brown Indians), Bob Lanier, during the East regional. The Bonnies were mortally wounded when they got to College Park for the Final Four, and were no match for Jacksonville and Artis Gilmore. Gilmore’s Dolphins then lost to UCLA, which was in the two-year interregnum between Lew Alcindor and Bill Walton. The Bruins still won titles both years, and would extend their streak to seven before losing to David Thompson, 7-4 Tom Burleson and North Carolina State in the 1974 semis.

There is a debate as to the exact location of St. Bonaventure. I’ve always thought the school was in Olean, but the postal address is St. Bonaventure, New York, and others refer to the borough of Allegeny in Cattaraugus County, New York, southeast of Buffalo. I’ll stick to Olean, since it’s easier to find on a map than the other locales.

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Kentucky blew it. Lost 82-78 to Tennessee, so the Volunteers play Auburn tomorrow in the SEC tournament final. I cannot stand Auburn these days because of a jerk fan from Baton Rouge I knew when I lived there. I am not an Alabama fan in any way, but knowing he’s miserable when the Crimson Tide beat Auburn makes me feel a little better.

Speaking of Alabama, LSU is not a rival of the Crimson Tide. NOT. A. RIVAL. LSU’s rival is now Texas A&M, and that’s that.

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I just played Andy Gibb’s “Everlasting Love” on the jukebox at Buffalo Wild Wings. God, why did you need drugs to make you happy, Andy? If you were still alive today, you and Barry could be touring and raking in $$$$$$ as the new Bee Gees. Instead, poor Barry is all alone. Andy died 31 years ago this month. Maurice and Robin left the realm of the mortal earlier this millennium.

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Okay what have I not discussed? Trump’s emergency declaration? Well, that will have to wait–if I comment on it at all.

No more Neil Diamond in concert

Earlier this week, legendary singer and songwriter Neil Diamond announced he has Parkinson’s Disease, immediately retiring from touring. It’s sad he has to end touring like this, because Diamond certainly earned the right to end touring on his own terms.

I have never been to a concert, and it isn’t on my bucket list. However, if there was a list of artists I would want to go see in person, Diamond would have ranked pretty high, if not #1. Elton John is coming to Kansas City in February 2019 as part of his final tour, and I would pay to see him, as well. I would pay to see The Rolling Stones and the Eagles, and of course, The Beatles when they were together, but of course that wasn’t possible because they broke up six years before I was born.

Neil Diamond’s most famous song, according to some, is “Sweet Caroline”, which is an ode to Caroline Kennedy, the first live-born child of John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy Bouvier. I say first live-born, because sadly, a daughter was stillborn in 1956, one year before Caroline’s birth. After John F. Kennedy Jr was born in November 1960, shortly after his dad was elected President of the United States, another boy, Patrick, died only 48 hours after birth, a little more than three months before JFK was assassinated in Dallas.

Sweet Caroline has become an anthem for the Boston Red Sox, played during the eighth inning of every game at Fenway Park. It’s a fitting anthem, seeing the Kennedy clan is from Massachusetts–Robert F. Kennedy’s three and a half years as a U.S. Senator from New York notwithstanding–but it has been overdone. Too many teams are playing it, and I sometimes want to change the radio station when I hear it. It’s not that “Sweet Caroline” is a bad song, it’s just it’s not my favorite Neil Diamond song. Not be a long shot.

I have several Neil Diamond songs on my Apple devices, but “Sweet Caroline” is not one of them, nor will it ever be. I can be persuaded to play Neil Diamond on the jukebox, but I am not particularly keen on playing “Sweet Caroline”.

“Sweet Caroline” is part of his 12 Greatest Hits album which came out in 1974, but I have at least five songs higher on the list23.

Cracklin Rosie” is my favorite Diamond song. Went to #1 in October 1970. It is not about a woman named Rosie, but it’s about a wine. The others from that album are “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show”, “Play Me”, “Song Sung Blue” and “Shiloh”.

My favorite earlier Diamond hits are “Kentucky Woman”, “Cherry, Cherry” and “I’m A Believer”. Yes, it’s the same song which shot The Monkees to fame in 1966, but I like Diamond’s version better. Of his later work, my favorites are “Desiree”, “Forever In Blue Jeans”, “America” and “Heartlight”, which gained fame for being on the soundtrack to E.T.

Parkinson’s is a cruel fate, and Diamond is one of the three most famous people it has afflicted, joining Michael J. Fox and Pope John Paul II. The only good news here is having someone notable should spur fundraising for Parkinson’s research, the way it has with Fox.

Update 1955 2018/1/26: Norton’s band is playing “Sweet Caroline” as the boys basketball team warms up before its game vs. Colby.

I never started believing

Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” is playing at Buffalo Wild Wings over the speakers. 

It is not my favorite Journey song. Far, far, far from it. In fact, I’ll list my favorite Journey songs in order:

  1. Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)
  2. Anytime
  3. Only the Young
  4. Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’
  5. I’ll Be Alright Without You
  6. Wheel in the Sky
  7. Open Arms 
  8. Lights

“Don’t Stop Believing” and “Who’s Crying Now”? I’ll pass. 

They can’t all be winners.  

Thursday’s tunes

Here’s what I’ve played so far at Buffalo Wild Wings. I’ll update it periodically.

1. Sunset Grill–Don Henley (1985)

2. Major Tom–Peter Schilling (1983)

3. Night Moves–Bob Seger (1977)

4. Day Tripper–The Beatles (1965)

5. Abracadabra–Steve Miller (1982)

6. She’s a Lady–Tom Jones (1971)

7. Sultans of Swing–Dire Straits (1979)

8. You Can’t Hurry Love–Phil Collins (1982)

9. Chase–Giorgio Moroder (1978) 

*–instrumental from Midnight Express

10. Billie Jean–Michael Jackson

11. Need You Tonight–INXS

(Someone named Zac put in money and played a Rihanna song for about the 10th time in the last three days. I cannot stand Rihanna. Not only do I not like her singing, she is simply stupid for allowing herself to get beaten senselessly by Chris Brown.)

12. Kyrie-Mister Mister (1985)

13. Dixieland Delight–Alabama (1983)

14. Take a Chance on Me–ABBA (1978)

15. Borderline–Madonna (1983)

16. Love Will Turn You Around–Kenny Rogers (1983)

17. Cracklin’ Rosie–Neil Diamond (1970)

18. Love is Strong–The Rolling Stones (1993)

19. More Today Than Yesterday–Spiral Staircase (1969)

20. La Bamba–Los Lobos (1987)

21. Runaround Sue–Dion (1961)

22. Mr. Blue Sky–Electric Light Orchestra (1978)

23. Caught Up In You–.38 Special (1982)

24. Lowdown–Boz Scaggs (1976)

25. Pop Muzik–M (1979)

26. Allentown–Billy Joel (1983)

27. Somebody’s Baby–Jackson Browne (1982)

*–from the Fast Times at Ridgemont High soundtrack

28. Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2–Pink Floyd (1980)

29.Green Onions–Booker T. & the MGs (1962)

30. Philadelphia Freedom–Elton John (1975)

*–the song was not about the U.S. Bicentennial. It was about the Philadelphia Freedoms of World Team Tennis, which was coached and captained by Billie Jean King. 

31. You’re the One That I Want–Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta (1978)

*–from the Grease soundtrack. I played it because there was just a trivia question about it.

32. Burnin’ For You–Blue Oyster Cult (1981)

33. That Smell–Lynyrd Skynyrd (1977)

*–the album this song was part of, Street Survivors, was released two days prior to the tragic plane crash in the Mississippi forest which killed lead singer Ronnie Van Zant and four others. 

Now I find out the jukebox is not connected to the network, meaning if I want to play music, I’ll have to get up and put the money in myself instead of just playing songs from my phone. GREAT. 

Update, 2:25 p.m.–the jukebox is back online. I’m back in business.

34. Everything She Wants–WHAM! (1984)

*–I always play the long version with the added bridge. The original album cut is about 90 seconds shorter. 

35. A Horse With No Name–America (1972)

*–the song was banned by WHB-AM in Kansas City, since “horse” is slang for heroin, and the WHB management felt this was a song glorifying heroin use. The heat was hot! 

36. Turn Me Loose–Loverboy (1981)

(In between these songs, some nincompoop put money in the jukebox to play that stupid Rihanna song again. ENOUGH. It seems like that one song gets played multiple times in one day. I’m the only person who plays a variety.)

37. And the Beat Goes On–The Whispers (1980)

38. Spirits in the Material World–The Police (1981)

39. Is This Love?–Whitesnake (1987)

40. Heaven is a Place On Earth–Belinda Carlisle (1987)

41. Love You Inside Out–Bee Gees (1979)

*–last #1 for the Bee Gees in the US. My favorite Bee Gees song. 

42. I Can’t Tell You Why–The Eagles (1980)

*–only Eagles song featuring Timothy Schmitt on lead vocals. Also my favorite Eagles song. 

43. The Look–Roxette (1989)

44. Express Yourself–Madonna (1989)

*–the bad version of this song started playing. I had to play the good version. 

45. What Have I Done To Deserve This–Dusty Springfield featuring Pet Shop Boys (1987)

46. Along Comes A Woman–Chicago (1985)

47. Fallin’ For You–Colbie Calliat (2009)

48. Down Under–Men at Work (1982)

49. You Belong to the City–Glenn Frey (1982)

50. Two Hearts–Phil Collins (1988)

51. Find–Jimmy Buffett (1979)

52. Gimme Some Lovin’–Spencer Davis Group (1967)

Musical memories, part I

Not much to report from the last Monday of July. Good. It beats the alternative to where I was last Monday, when I really angered a couple of my Twitter followers by sending them delusional direct messages. Both of them jumped me pretty good for it, and I deserved it. Thankfully, Crista came to the rescue the next day, and although at first I didn’t pull out of it, it finally got me turned around.

It looks like I’ll be making a trip to Kansas City Wednesday, my first since the traumatic incident in the wee hours of July 18. My closest friend at Buffalo Wild Wings is working her last day before she moves with her boyfriend to Colorado. I figured I owed it to her to be there, because she has been a very good friend to me.

Right now, I’m feeling pretty good about this. The bartender whom I melted down over the last time I was there is not scheduled to work. It’s all my fault what happened and how I smothered her; however, I still feel the wounds are too raw, too fresh to be opened right now. I really want to apologize to her, and Iwant to make things right, but this is not the time.

Besides, I do not want to get into the wrong frame of mind for my dear friend. That would not be fair to me, to her, or to anyone else.

Even if I go, I cannot stay overnight. I have to be in Hays at 9 a.m. Thursday for another session with Crista. We have sessions four of the next five Thursdays, with the only open date next week (August 6). This means I don’t have to invest too much time if I don’t want to, because I have a built-in legitimate excuse to leave. I don’t like 500-mile round trips in the same day, but this time, it’s one of those circumstances. I’m not going to be ready to leave tomorrow and stay overnight.

My San Diego guardian angel and her husband are huge into music. I promised I would list some of my favorite artists and songs when I got the chance, and I figured this was as good a time as any.

I am a big fan of Sir Elton John. I’m not getting into the flamboyant costumes he wore in his early days, or his choice of lifestyle, but the man was born to sing and play the piano. And he has one hell of a lyricist, Bernie Taupin, who has penned so many smash hits I’ve lost count.

My father had the original vinyl double LP of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, the smash issue of 1973 which included the title track, “Daniel”, “Bennie and the Jets”, “Candle in the Wind”, and “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting”. Great songs all, but none rank up there as my favorites by Mr. Reginald Dwight.

My #1 Elton song is the 1980 ballad “Little Jeannie” from the album 21 at 33. It is a beautiful song with a sensational saxophone solo following the second verse. I find the song to be very soothing and very relaxing when I need a calm moment .I remember it well, since I heard it on the way from Bunkie to Cottonport as I drove from Bill and Yvette Franques’ wedding to their reception in November 1999.

It was not written by Taupin, but rather by Gary Osborne and Elton. The song went to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. It’s often lost in some of other smash hits earlier and later in John’s career, but I love it nonetheless.

Two more Elton songs I really enjoy from the 1980s were “I”m Still Standing” from Too Low for Zero (1983) and “Who Wears These Shoes” from Breaking Hearts (1984). The first Elton song I remember listening to on the radio when it was released was “I Don’t Wanna Go On With You Like That” from Reg Strikes Back. That song came out at the end of my sixth grade year in mid-1988, a blissful time because I got to know some of my favorite people at Arabi Park Middle.

From the earlier days, I like “Crocodile Rock”, “Philadelphia Freedom” (which is about Billie Jean King and the Philadelphia Freedoms of World Team Tennis, not the American Bicentennial) and “Island Girl”.

Of the three main versions of “Candle in the Wind”, my favorite is the live version done in December 1986 while on tour in Sydney.

I’m going to surprise a lot of Americans with my next revelation, but I really, really enjoy two songs by an artist who is revered in the United Kingdom but had precious little success in the United States, Sir Cliff Richard.

If “We Don’t Talk Anymore”, Cliff’s multi-platinum hit of 1979, is playing, I’m turning up the volume. The opening keyboard riff gets me hooked, and the lyrics are catchy and easy to follow. I also am a big fan of “Devil Woman” from 1976, which came out a few months before I was born.

Yes, I have a lot of disco on my iPod. Lots of disco.

A disco song was #1 on the day I was born (October 13, 1976), Some will say it was “A Fifth of Beethoven” by Walter Murphy. I say it was “Disco Duck” by Rick Dees.

Here’s why I go with Dees’ novelty tune.

The Billboard charts are dated to be released for a particular Saturday. However, the data collection for the chart ends nine days prior to the dating of the chart. While Murphy’s instrumental was atop the charts for October 9, 1976, the Saturday before my birth, Dees’ tune had moved into the top spot when collection for the October 16, 1976 chart ceased October 7.

Figures that I would be born between two of the strangest songs to ever occupy the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100. Thank God I was born October 13, 1976. Had I been born October 13, 1972, I would have had to claim Chuck Berry’s “My Ding-A-Ling” as the #1 song on my date of birth. YIKES. If I hear “My-Ding-A-Ling”, I immediately turn the dial, hopefully in time to save my ears. “Disco Duck” was strange, but I’ll listen to that any day over Chuck Berry’s song about male genitalia.

As the late great Casey Kasem said, on with the survey.

No disco collection is complete without some Bee Gees, of course, with “Tragedy”, “More Than a Woman”, “Stayin Alive”, and my favorite disco song, “Love You Inside Out”, the #1 hit of 1979 which also was the last chart topper for the trio. I also have three hits from Andy Gibb, younger brother of Barry, Maurice and Robin, with my favorite being “An Everlasting Love”. Also have “Shadow Dancing” and “I Just Want To Be Your Everything”.

One song not credited to the Bee Gees or Andy Gibb, but one with a definite Gibb influence, is Samantha Sang’s “Emotion”. Lovely. Another song which puts my mind at ease. I wish it were longer, but it is so beautiful.

Donna Summer, the queen of disco, has a few spaces on my iPod. Favorite is “Heaven Knows”, although second on the list is a curveball, her last big hit, 1989’s “This Time I Know It’s For Real”. “Hot Stuff” and “On the Radio” are great.

If you’ve noticed a trend, a lot of my favorite songs appear to be from one year–1979.

I was a little under 27 months old when the year began, but for some reason, I’ve discovered so, so many great songs from the year which gave us Three Mile Island, Larry Bird vs. Magic Johnson for the NCAA basketball championship, Hurricane Frederic, the Iran Hostage Crisis, and the debut of Knots Landing.

“We Don’t Talk Anymore”, “Love You Inside Out”, “Tragedy”, “Heaven Knows” and “Hot Stuff” were all 1979. Some more I love from ’79 include “BIg Shot” by Billy Joel; “The Logical Song” by Supertramp; “Sail Away” by The Oak Ridge Boys; “Fins” by Jimmy Buffett; “Heartache Tonight” by the Eagles; “Rise”, the instrumental by trumpeter Herb Alpert which gained popularity when it was used in a scene on the ABC soap opera General Hospital involving Luke and Laura; “Come to Me” by France Joli, a 16-year old sensation from Montreal; “What a Fool Believes” by the Doobie Brothers; “Shine a Light” and “Don’t Bring Me Down” by Electric Light Orchestra; “Good Times” by Chic; “Ain’t No Stoppin Us Now” by McFadden and Whitehead; “We Are Family” and “He’s the Greatest Dancer” by Sister Sledge; “Reunited” by Peaches and Herb; “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor, and the number one song of the year, “My Sharona” by The Knack.

I could fill my iPod for four hours with 1979 songs. I figure this is a good place to cut it off for now. Boy my word count is getting up there.

Kentucky conquers The Ides of March

Today is the Ides of March, the date on which in 44 BC Julius Caesar was stabbed by Marcus Junius Brutus and his associates in the Roman Senate. 

In 1970, a rock band named The Ides of March released its one and only hit single, “Vehicle”. The song is a staple of high school and college marching bands throughout the United States. In fact, the first time I heard the song was when it was played by the Brother Martin High School band at football games in the fall of 1989. I didn’t know about its status as a hit for The Ides of March until 1991. LSU’s band has played “Vehicle” at basketball games as long as I can remember, and they would break it out at football games every now and then. 

Kentucky is 34-0 heading into the NCAA men’s Division I basketball tournaement. The Wildcats defeated Arkansas 78-63  in the SEC tournament championship game in Nashville. They have already been named the number one overall seed for the NCAA tournament, and I would be beyond shocked if they don’t cut down the nets April 6 in Indianapolis. When UCLA won seven consecutive national championships from 1967 through 1973, there was no shot clock, so a team could stall as long as it crossed midcourt. Today, that’s not possible. If you’re going to milk the shot clock down to a few seconds on each possession, you had better shot somewehre north of 60 percent, and no team can do that on a night in, night out basis. 

The only problem Kentucky is going to face is going to be the ridiculous media pressure from here on out. You can bet every newspaper which regularly covers college basketball will send a writer to wherever Kentucky is playing. First, the Wildcats will travel west on Interstate 64 to Louisville, where it will play the first two rounds at the KFC YUM! Center, home to the archrival Louisville Cardinals. Every fan not wearing Kentucky blue will be cheering hard against the Wildcats to blow it. Ironically, Kentucky ended Wichita State’s perfect season in the second round on its way to the national championship game, where it fell to Connecticut. 

Needless to say, I’ll pick Kentucky to win any and every bracket I may fill out this tournament season.

Even with Kentucky dominating the men’s scene, it will still be far more intriguing than the women’s tournament. Does anyone give a damn outside of Connecticut, South Carolina, East Tennessee and Waco?