Saturday, February 28, 2009


The Who were formed in 1964, and were formerly known as The Detours and The High Numbers until settling on their somewhat ubiquitous moniker. Their first hit I Can't Explain was released in 1965 and set them on a path to superstardom. Along the way they invented the concept album (Tommy, Quadrophenia), dabbled with conceptual performance art (the Lifehouse project, that spawned the classic album Who's Next), played to millions live, and sold an estimated 100 million records.

Their very long and extensive bio can be read here.

Today founders Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey keep The Who alive, after losing drummer Keith Moon and bass guitarist John Entwistle to death in 1978 and 2002 respectively. The duo released the album Endless Wire in 2006, and they are currently touring, and will appear in New Zealand and Australia beginning in March, 2009.

Long live rock!!!!!!

Below, the classic lineup from the 1970's, performing Baba O'Riley.

Just For Laughs; Our Tech Challenged Guys in Washington

Jeanne Moos of CNN looks at some faux pas from Vice President Joe Biden, former President George W. Bush, Senator John McCain,
and comedian Rush Limbaugh.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Neal Schon Turns 55, Journey- DON'T STOP BELIEVING (Times 2)

Neal Schon first rose to prominence as the second guitarist in Santana, making an appearance on Santana III, and on the anthology The Last Days of The Fillmore. Schon left Santana with keyboardist/singer Greg Rollie to form Journey, along with bassist Ross Valoryand drummer Ainsley Dunbar. Dunbar left, and was replaced by Steve Smith. And singer Steve Perry, the voice of Journey in their heyday, joined a few years later. After Rollie's departure keyboard wiz Jonathan Cain joined Journey.

They became one of the quintessential "arena rock" bands of the 1980's, and were indeed part of the soundtrack of a generation. The 1990's saw more personnel changes, with Perry leaving the band and Deen Castronovo became the drummer. More recently Arnel Pineda joined Journey as its latest lead singer.

So....Happy 55th Neal Schon!

And below, two versions of Don't Stop Believing, the first from the 1980's with Steve, the second from 2008 with Arnel.

That song really gained a second life after it played in the last scene of the last show of a certain phenomenon called The Sopranos.


Making a Difference; Derek Jeter

From baseball come his stats....Derek Sanderson Jeter, born 6/26/74 in Pequannock, NJ. Major League debut- May 29, 1995. Plays shortstop, bats right. Uses a Black Smith Finish Louisville Slugger P72. Nicknamed "Mr. November".

Played his entire career, New York Yankees, 14 seasons as of 2009. He has 2,535 career hits- no player in the illustrious history of the New York Yankees has ever collected 3,000 hits playing as a Yankee. He has 206 career home runs, 1,002 RBI (usually batting second), has scored 1,467 runs, and has hit a very healthy .316 for his career. His career fielding percentage, playing only at shortstop, is a solid 975. He was named Rookie of the Year in 1996.

Anyone who has followed baseball and the New York Yankees knows that the stats don't tell the whole story regarding Derek Jeter. His intangibles make him a legend. Jeter always seems to make the big play in the field, or get the big hit, when its needed the most.

And those intangibles are found off the playing field as well. In my memory, no professional athlete has carried himself as well in the nation's biggest and most scrutinizing media market. Jeter never embarrasses himself or his team. And long ago he learned the value of giving something back.

Jeter started the Turn2Foundation during his rookie yeaof 1996.

Here's a couple of snippets from their website.

"During his rookie year in 1996, New York Yankees All-Star shortstop Derek Jeter established the Turn 2 Foundation to promote healthy lifestyles amongst youth. While sharing a pizza in a Detroit hotel room, Derek announced to his father that he was ready for his own foundation. Then and there, they laid the plans for Turn 2. The name "Turn 2" is symbolic of the dramatic double play made by infielders during a game. It also represents Derek's wish to promote healthy lifestyles among young people and enable them to "turn to" his Foundation for guidance and the much needed help to avoid drugs and alcohol."


"Our mission is to create and support signature programs and activities that motivate young people to turn away from drugs and alcohol and "Turn 2" healthy lifestyles. We will reward the positive behavior of these children, especially those demonstrating academic achievement and leadership, with the support of our sponsors, partners and Turn 2 staff. Their commitment and hands on involvement will be key.

We will use the following strategies:

Create "Signature Programs" to guide children each day towards healthy lifestyles while reinforcing the avoidance of drugs and alcohol.
Fund organizations that treat and help prevent teenage substance abuse.
Host special events as a platform for Derek to personally deliver his message to today's youth.
Leverage the integrity and popularity of Derek to raise awareness in children that good choices must be practiced daily.
Since its launch in December 1996, the Turn 2 Foundation has awarded more than $9 million in grants to Turn 2's signature programs as well as existing substance abuse prevention and treatment programs. Our efforts have reached thousands of children in the New York City, West Michigan and Tampa areas.

As Turn 2 Foundation President Derek's goal is to guide children in the right direction and help them become the leaders of tomorrow. Derek gets personally involved by visiting signature programs and hosting special events for thousands of children throughout the year."

Once upon a time a famous athlete made a commercial telling kids that he was no role model. Derek Jeter needs to commercials to try to send any messages- he, like Yoda told Luke Skywalker to do in The Empire Strikes Back...he doesn't try. He just does.

A great player...and truly one of the good guys.

The Beatles; From 1963 and 1969

I came upon a couple of gems from The Beatles, the first of which I had never seen before, and kudos to the original poster of YouTube who found this...indeed a very rare classic.

Below is a Pathe Newsreel, in technicolor, from 1963. It was shown in British cinemas at a time when newsreels were still being shown in movie houses. Mind you, this is Beatlemania on the rise in the UK....this is months before The Ed Sullivan Show and the group landing on these shores. At that time The Beatles were only a rumor in the United States, a phenomenon in Britain but a band that had a couple of singles released in the US with little response from the public. By the end of 1963, with America still in a state of shock and mourning after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the Beatles started to get some airplay on rock n' roll radio in the United States, such as at WMCA and WABC in New York. Soon Jack Paar had a clip of the Beatles on his Friday night TV show....and Ed Sullivan followed by booking them for three live shows for early 1964.

And you know the rest.

Here, from 1963 in Manchester, UK the Beatles perform She Loves You and Twist and Shout.

And by the end of the decade...."We're bigger than Jesus", Shea Stadium, Sgt Pepper, The Maharishi, Yoko Ono, "Paul is dead", All You Need Is Love, and Apple Corp.

Here, from 1969 a clip from the film Let It Be, which chronicled the waining days of the group, they perform Get Back, personally my favorite Beatles song. But after viewing this I had never realized that John was playing lead guitar, not George.

And sadly, of all the players, only Paul and Ringo are still with us, with friend Billy Preston joining John and George in Rock n' Roll Heaven.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Tim Pernetti ; New Rutgers Athletic Director

Tim Pernetti, former Rutgers University tight end, current radio color commentator, and Vice President of Content for CBS College Sports is the new athletic director at Rutgers University, succeeding the fired Bob Mulcahy. University president Richard McCormick introduced Pernetti at a news conference this afternoon, which can be heard by clicking here.

Pernetti will receive a salary of $410,000 plus an annual performance bonus of up to $50,000, and a $12,000 a year automobile stipend, according to Brendan Prunty of the STAR-LEDGER.

In my opinion...I hated the firing of Bob Mulcahy. He was a good man, and didn't deserve to exit the way he did. Having said that, I'm thrilled to have Tim Pernetti heading Rutgers sports. He's young, bright, energetic, and though he has never been an AD before, he's a man who was a founder of a sports network that was sold to media giant CBS for millions of dollars. The guy has the respect of athletic directors across the nation, and by members of the media....and he loves Rutgers. The guy bleeds Scarlet.

Best wishes Tim....get choppin'!!!!

And while watching the presser online I finally was able to pinpoint who Dr. Richard McCormick looks like....its silver screen actor Claude Rains!

Well he does....

And I'm not the first to see the resemblance....check out this article from last November, posted on Newsday's Website.

"I'm shocked Richard...SHOCKED!"

Happy Birthday Paul Cotton! Poco- ROSE OF CIMARRON

Today is the 66th birthday of longtime Poco guitarist Paul Cotton.

Paul joined the group replacing founder Jim Messina....but let me backtrack a bit.

Poco rose from the ashes of Buffalo Springfield in August of 1968. Stephen Stills went on to form Crosby, Stills, Nash (and sometimes Young, while former members Richie Furay and Jim Messina formed Poco with bassist Randy Meisner, steel/ dobro player Rusty Young, and drummer George Grantham. After recording a debut album, Meisner left (he went on to be a founder member of The Eagles). The remaining four went on as a quartet very briefly, Messina switching to bass and Furay on lead guitar.

In February 1970 Timothy B. Schmit joined as Poco's new bassist, with Messina moving back to lead, Richie to rhythm. Messina left the group in November 1970, and was replaced by Paul Cotton.

A sidebar to those who don't know....Schmit not only replaced Meisner in Poco, but years later he replaced Meisner in The Eagles, and is a member of that band to this day.

There were more comings and going...Furay called it a day in Sept. 1973, more changes with the British rhythm section of Charlie Harrison and Steve Chapman, and keyboardist Kim Bullard in the late 1970's.....and a reunion of lineup #1 to start the decade of the '90's.

Poco continues to this day with Cotton, Grantham, and Young, and various new members over the years.

God bless 'em...they never got the acclaim they so richly deserve for not only bringing some country to rock, but bringing a little more rock to country, and spawning the sound you hear in modern country music.

Below...from 1976, Rose of Cimarron with lead vocals by Paul Cotton and Tim Schmit.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bobby Jindal and "The Party of Beavis and Butthead"

A couple of weeks ago I said I'd tone down the political commentary, and run a kinder, gentler, more uplifting and humanity serving kind of blog. I'll look for the good in everyone...even people I might not like very much....some of whom might be dumber than a sea wall made out of mud.

Well...I apologize....I'm having a relapse.

So sue me! I finally got a chance to watch Bobby Jindal's rebuttal to President Obama's address last night.

All I can say is....if Jindal and the omnipresent Sarah Palin are the rising stars of the Republican Party, then the next sound you hear is Barry Goldwater rising from the dead to wreak havoc on anyone with an old Bush 2004 bumper sticker still on their car.

Pat Buchanon put it like this....having Jindal give that rebuttal was like sending in a rookie pitcher start the seventh game of the World Series and knocked out of the box in the first inning. Those are some tough words from a conservative Republican. He was just out of Obama's league, and it wasn't even close.

After the rebuttal, liberal economist and columnist Paul Krugman...his words, not mine....has called out the Republican Party into mutating into the "party of Beavis and Butthead".

There's more...check out the video from David Shuster and MSNBC.

Maybe volcano monitoring MEANS SOMETHING to people in Hawaii, Alaska, in Idaho...did you ever here of something called MOUNT SAINT HELENS? Or how about Seattle? Mount Rainer could blow its stack anytime, anyday, any month, any year.


Hey Governor don't want the money, but many Katrina victims are still living in pain and squalor almost 4 years after the devastation.

From rising star to national joke in 24 hours....nice work.


Every once in awhile you come upon old video of classic rock bands that you have to see to believe....Fleetwood Mac, in its original lineup (circa 1970), on Playboy After Dark, with Hugh Hefner and then girlfriend Barbi Benton!

For those two or three of you who don't know the band's story, here it is, very 1967 guitarist Peter Green leaves John Mayall's Bluesbreakers and forms Fleetwood Mac with former Bluesbreaker Mick Fleetwood and guitarist Jeremy Spencer. They are soon joined by bassist John McVie. They record 2 very successful albums (in the UK). Guitarist Danny Kirwan joins band in 1968, more recording success....but in 1970 Peter Green begins having emotional problems and quits the band. The remaining four members bring in John's wife, Christine McVie to play keyboards and sing, she becomes a fulltime member. At that point ( end of 1970, early '71) Spencer leaves to become a member of the Children of God. An American friend of a friend, Bob Welch replaces Spencer in early 1971. Danny Kirwan is fired in August 1972.
In September 1972 singer Dave Walker and guitarist Bob Weston join, Walker leaves after one album, Weston after two. The remaining quartet ( The McVies, Fleetwood, and Welch) soon have a court battle with their manager who says he owns the name of the band and has the right to replace them, and sends out a bogus Fleetwood Mac to perform. The real Mac wins in court, they move to California, they record one more album as a quartet, and then Welch leaves....Mick visits a recording studio in early 1975, and hears a demo of the duo Buckingham Nicks. He likes the sound, asks guitarist Lindsey Buckingham to join the band- he says "Yes" but his girlfriend Stevie Nicks has to be part of the package. They join, sell zillions of records, break each others hearts, sell more records, break up, reconcile, breakup again....and that should just about take us to 2009.


Here's' the ORIGINAL Fleetwood Mac with Rattlesnake Shake.

Bruce Springsteen- FIRE

Now, you really didn't think that a blog fronted by "Hugh Jee From Jersey" was going to go any length of time without at least ONE Springsteen post, now didya?

Having said that....there's going to be quiet a few more.

This is a song made famous by the Pointer Sisters, but written by Bruce. The video is undated, but looking at how young Bruce, Danny, and Nils are, my guess is this is from the early 1980's. Steve Van Zandt left the E Street Band just after the completion of BORN IN THE USA and Nils Lofgren replaced him, so I'd say this is circa 1984-85.

Here ya go....Bruce Springsteen, singing Fire.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Happy Birthday George Thorogood!- BAD TO THE BONE

Geesh!!!! I almost blew it- its George Thorogood's 59th birthday (time sure flies, doesn't it?)

Here's one bourbon, one scotch, and one beer (make mine Sam Adams Winter Lager).....

For a guy who's Bad To The Bone

The Beach Boys- GOD ONLY KNOWS

So....yesterday I finally had a chance to catch up on the new episodes of Big Love on HBO, and a minute or so after the previous season was capsulized into about three minutes, there were the opening credits, underlined by (in my opinion) the most beautiful song ever credited to The Beach Boys.

God Only Knows appeared on the album Pet Sounds, a work which rock critics usually include somewhere in the Top 5 rock albums of all time. Its influence on The Beatles and Sgt Pepper have long been talked about, its place in rock history secured.

In reality, the song has only Brian Wilson singing on it, with some harmonies from Bruce Johnston, who had replaced Brian on the road as a performer while Brian elected to record, write, and stay in the studio- at least for the time being.

Below is a video from June 21st, 1980, at Knebworth, UK. Carl Wilson sings lead in this performance. It was the last show the Beach Boys did with the original lineup in the United Kingdom- Brian, Carl, brother Dennis Wilson, cousin Mike Love, and founder member Al Jardine, as well as Bruce Johnston, who left the group for a few years, and returned for the 1980's and beyond.

Dennis died in 1983, Carl in 1998. Al Jardine left the band several years ago (and fronts his own band that performs Beach Boys material), Brian does his solo stuff as well as his Beach Boys songs, and Mike and Bruce carry on as The Beach Boys backed by sidemen.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Just For Laughs; Bloopers and Outakes from ENCHANTED

Mea Culpa! Guilty as charged! No, I'm not going to post anything that will change the world or save any segment of mankind from economic turmoil.

All I need is a small window of opportunity to post a picture and some video of the beautiful Amy Adams, here in bloopers and outtakes from Enchanted.

Also starring Patrick Dempsey and Susan Sarandon.

Happy Birthday Brad Whitford! ; Aerosmith- SWEET EMOTION

Its a Happy 57th birthday for Aerosmith guitarist Brad Whitford, one rare American who's had the same job for nearly 40 years....with a couple of notable breaks along the way.

There's such a back catalogue of Aerosmith material that sometimes its hard to make a choice on what video to put here...but there is no such thing as a WRONG choice when it comes to these guys. They are the best selling American hard rock band of all time, and have sold in excess of 150 million records.

So here's one of the songs that started it all for the "Bad Boys From Boston', all grown up....and in some cases, grandpas....Sweet Emotion.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Bonnie Raitt- LOVE ME LIKE A MAN

I guess I'm following a certain pattern here, with the previous post being(IMO) the greatest sister act in rock history, and now (IMO) the American Goddess of the Blues.

Bonnie Raitt was learning how to twing the blues as a kid while dad John Raitt was starring on Broadway. Early in her career she relied on outside sources for her material, and really didn't compose a great deal of her own work until her huge Grammy winning breakthrough Nick Of Time.

Love Me Like A Man was a song Bonnie originally recorded very early in her career. The performance here is just Bonnie, an acoustic guitar, and her bass player, recorded in 1995. Still one of my faves after all of these years.

Modern Times Revisted or Welcome To the Machine, 2009

Opinion; I was just watching CBS SUNDAY Morning, and am listening to it right now as I type this. There was a piece that dealt with the Great Depression and the movies, and the speculation if the economic downturn we are currently experiencing will spawn a similar output of socially relevant and escapist films as that era, often called The Golden Age of the Silver Screen. No period in history ever produced more classic motion pictures in an equivalent time frame.

There was a small clip of the classic Modern Times, a 1936 film that starred Charlie Chaplin and his then wife, Paulette Goddard. It was Chaplin's last silent movie (though it had a musical soundtrack and some sound effects). Here the Little Tramp finds himself working in a factory, caught up in the maddening and dehumanizing pace of industrialization, until he is literally consumed by the machinery that presumably was set up to help him do his job.

I watched the segment, and thought about a conversation I had with my brother a few weeks ago. We talked about the state of the economy and how we can get out of it. Our conclusion; its going to be a long, tough road ahead. And during our conversation I had this thought- we really are dealing with a "New Feudalism"; a world where a large part of our lives are controlled by outside forces, such as the corporate world, who's aim is to get you into debt, keep you in debt, control any money that you have by taking as much as they can, and silencing all of those who try to challenge the system, such as government reformers, unions, and social activists. Many of the same forces who screamed for less government and less regulation are now begging for the government, and the citizenry, to keep them from defaulting.

In Modern Times Chaplin's Little Tramp was put into a mental hospital because his bosses thought he was nuts, and later jailed because he was thought to be a communist agitator. And art did imitate life- in the McCarthy era British born Chaplin was declared an "undesirable" (read "communist"), and denied a reentry visa to the United States. He spent more than the next 20 years in a self imposed European exile.

But Chaplin was a prophet then, and a prophet now. In the 1930's the beast was industrialization that abused too many workers in this nation. The beast never died, but mutated into several offspring. In a sense, we are all the Little Tramps, to a certain degree.

At the end of Modern Times the Little Tramp tells his girlfriend Ellen Peterson (Paulette Goddard), who said everything was hopeless, to "Buck up"...everything was going to be OK.

Then they walked, heads held high, into the sunset.

And that's probably the best advice anyone can give in this crisis....hold your head high, and look to the future.

Just like Charlie's Little Tramp.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Ann and Nancy Wilson (as The Lovemongers)-THE BATTLE OF EVERMORE

I have admit more than a little bias here; first off, I think Ann Wilson is the greatest female rock singer in the history of the genre, Second, I've had a crush on sister Nancy Wilson for over twenty years and counting (I'm still envious of husband Cameron Crowe). And third, in the following clip they perform probably my favorite Led Zeppelin song, from their 4th album.

The Battle of Evermore was a classic duet originally song by Robert Plant with the late Sandy Denny of Fairport Convention. The Wilson sisters, while temporarily suspending their "day job", fronting Heart, sometimes performed in an offshoot lineup called The Lovemongers.

Below, their incredible cover version of The Battle of Evermore.


King Crimson founder and leader guitarist Robert Fripp once called the group not so much a band, but a way of life. Founded by Fripp in January, 1969 the group then consisted of Fripp, bassist/vocalist Greg Lake, Ian McDonald(keyboards and woodwinds), and drummer Mike Giles. They recorded a magnificent debut album, In The Court Of The Crimson King, but by year's end the band began to fall apart, with Lake eventually becoming part of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer and McDonald going into Foreigners original lineup, though years later.

Changes were the only constant in Crimson- over the years various lineups included Boz Burrell, John Wetton, Tony Levin, Adrian Belew, Mel Collins, and Bill Bruford. Their family tree extended to not only ELP and Foreigner, but to Bad Company, Uriah Heep, Asia, Yes, and Genesis.

The lineup for Larks Tongues In Aspic (1973) was Fripp, Bruford (drums), Wetton (bass and vocals), Jamie Muir (percussion), and Davis Cross, (violin).

It probably could be said that by the time of this lineup, Crimson was really a progressive jazz lineup disguised as a rock band.

Unusual but interesting stuff, from 1973.......check it out.


Rep. Ron Paul(R-Tx), former Republican candidate for President, staunch free-marketeer and libertarian, joins host Bill Maher on HBO's Real Time With Bill Maher.

Always provocative, Paul and Maher talk about the tanking economy, the "American overseas empire", and the war on drugs.

You may agree, you may disagree, but as always, this guy is worth a listen.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Happy 63rd Birthday J Geils!

I first heard The J Geils Band in the early 1970's. Their bluesy original music and great cover versions of old R& B classics had some people in the press calling them "The American Rolling Stones". They had some success in that decade, but really clicked in the early 1980's MTV days with Centerfold and Love Stinks. Lead singer Peter Wolf left the group, but the remaining members held on.

Below is a video from The Today Show with its concerts in the plaza, from a 1999 reunion tour, "Lookin' For Love".

Happy b-day, Mr. Geils.....I'm catching up to you, but I'm doing it in dog years.

Making a Difference; ROY FOSTER

Fifty-three year old Floridian Roy Foster is a worthy addition to CNN Heroes. He is a man I can relate Foster, I am a veteran, I served during the same period he did, and like Foster I too found myself abusing substances. In my case I looked into the abyss and held on, and ran away from it. Foster fell into the pit, but pulled himself out, and is now serving as a saviour and guiding light to veterans have fallen through the cracks.

Foster, who was once homeless, spent most of the 1980's on the street. Once sober in the 1990's he committed himself to help those who found themselves in situations like the one he endured. With fellow veteran Don Reed, Foster established the non- profit Faith*Hope*Love*Charity. FHLC created Stand Down House, where 45 veterans can be temporarily housed during various stages of recovery. With funding from the Veterans Administration, Stand Down House requires that its residents seek work or attend school in return for receiving medical and/or psychiatric care, meals, and a roof over their heads.

It has been estimated that one out of every three homeless in America are US service veterans, and on any given night, a shocking 150,000 veterans are left to fend for themselves, without shelter or sustenance, according to a statement from the VA. In 2008 93% of the residents of Stand Down House found work, and 84% now live self sufficient lives.

Roy Foster, formerly a drug addicted homeless man, has found his life's work.

In Roy's own words he'll tell you why he does what he does..."Its my calling".

Please click this link for more information about Stand Down House.

Due to a glitch I cannot embed the video related to this post, so please click
here for a direct ink to the video page.


Thursday, February 19, 2009


You're all familiar with the story by now. In March 1965 Eric Clapton became disenchanted with with the musical direction of his group, The Yardbirds, and left to join John Mayall and "play the blues". Replacing Clapton was Jeff Beck, an ace guitarist and a pioneer of controlled feedback. His tour with the Yardbirds (March 1965 to November 1966) were the band's best days as far as commercial success. Bassist Paul Samwell-Smith left the Yardbirds in June of 1966 to become a producer. The plan was to bring noted session man Jimmy Page to play bass, but it wasn't long until they saw the benefits of Plan B; have rhythm guitarist Chris Dreja switch to bass, and have Jimmy and Jeff on twin leads.

The plan worked- but all too briefly. This lineup, which also included singer Keith Relf and drummer Jim McCarty, only lasted for a few months, from June '66 to November '66. Only a few tracks were cut with the twin guitars of Page and Beck, a couple of TV appearances, and an appearance in the film Blow Up (1966). It was filmed in London at the famous Marquee Club (been there; its as dank as it looks in the movie, but the audience wasn't anything like the zombies portrayed in the film).

After Beck left the group, Jimmy Page fronted it for the next year and a half (until July, 1968), when Relf, Dreja, and McCarty all quit, leaving Page to find three new Yardbirds....he did, but soon changed the name of the band to Led Zeppelin...and the rest is history. And the story for another day.

Below, from 1968, The Yardbirds perform The Train Kept A Rollin'. Note the intro to the song by Jimmy Page. Sounds familiar, Led Zep fans?

The Flying Burrito Brothers- CHRISTINE'S TUNE

By November 1967 the nation was in turmoil, and so were the founding fathers of folk rock, The Byrds. Founder-member David Crosby had left the group in October 1967, and former member Gene Clark had been brought in as a replacement. Clark left a year earlier because of his fear of flying, and lasted only three weeks in his second tour of duty with the group. The remaining trio of Roger McGuinn, Chris Hillman, and Michael Clarke recorded The Notorious Byrd Brothers. Upon the completion, Michael Clarke left the band.

McGuinn and Hillman recruited new Byrds Gram Parsons and Kevin Kelley, and did a turn that changed the course of two musical genres; this lineup recorded the classic Sweetheart of the Rodeo, called by many the first true country rock album. It wasn't received well by rock fans, and was panned pretty much by the country music establishment.

The band fell apart. McGuinn carried on the Byrds name with three new members, while Hillman and Parsons formed The Flying Burrito Brothers in December 1968. Joining Hillman and Parsons (guitars) were bassist Chris Etheridge and pedal steel player "Sneaky" Pete Kleinow, and with several session drummers they recorded The Gilded Palace of Sin. In February 1969 old cohort Michael Clarke joined as the drummer.

Parsons later left the band and hit the road with his protegee, Emmylou Harris. His mysterious death in September 1973 added to his status as a cult figure, one that endures to this day.

Christine's Tune, sometimes called "The Devil in Disguise", was the first song, side one of that first FBB record.

Announcing My New Blog!

I wish to announce the "Grand Opening" of new blog I just started up, called
Too Old To Rock N Roll- Too Young To Die....and yes, I borrowed the title from an old Jethro Tull album.

It deals with classic rock and the artists from that era, and in certain cases with footnotes by me about certain performances and circumstances.

Its still a be gentle with it!


The album Wish You Were Here was bassist composer Roger Waters' paean to Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett, an acid casualty who suffered with bouts of mental illness for much of his life. Barrett died in 2006.

Roger Waters left the group in the 1980's, while band mates David Gilmour, Nick Mason, and Richard Wright (died in 2008) carried on. The performance below was video footage from what became the live release Pulse in 1995. The trio performs with a small army of sidemen and singers.

I saw the Floyd in Knebworth Park, near London in 1975. They tried to do a concert with "quadraphonic" sound, with many glitches in co-ordinating the PA system which was in four corners of an audience of 70,000 sitting in a field, to mixed results. Still, a good show. And sadly, with Wright's passing, the classic Floyd lineup can never hook up again.

About This Blog

A couple of days ago I was watching CBS SUNDAY MORNING, and the correspondent ( who's name I don't remember at this time) was lamenting the demise of the record store. I thought about that for quite awhile, and realized that there is a generation or two who now download music rather than having the thrill of ripping off the cellophane on an LP, listening to it from a turntable, bumps and pops and all, and spending the evening relaxing and reading the liner notes, and appreciating the artwork that was a fixture of the so called "Classic Rock" Era. It was a time when the best seats at concerts didn't cost three figures, and when music just seemed to MATTER more.

It spawned the idea of archiving the video work of some of rock's greatest artists, and adding commentary on how I remember the artist and about the music. This is in no way designed to be a definitive collection, and I'll never claim to be a critic or an expert. Here, I just want to present some of the greats under one roof, so to speak.

What is CLASSIC ROCK? Well, if you look back at the music and the artist with a smile and warm thoughts, its probably classic.

If you don't have to think about "is it or isn't it", it probably is.

So welcome to the soundtrack of my early life.....enjoy!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Message From T.Boone Pickens

Its not everyday that a regular guy like me gets an email from a billionaire.....

From the desk of T. Boone Pickens

The battle for the stimulus package is over and – thanks to you – we were very successful on the wind side of the Pickens Plan.

Here is the list of items which are included in the stimulus package:

A 3-year Production Tax Credit (PTC) extension through the end of 2012
An option to elect a 30% Investment Tax Credit (ITC) in place of the PTC
An option to convert the Investment Tax Credit into a grant for projects placed in service in 2009, or 2010, or placed in service before 2013 provided construction begins in 2009 or 2010
A new $6 billion Department of Energy renewable energy and transmission loan guarantee program, which should fund around $60 billion in principal amount of guaranteed loans
Authority for the Western Area Power Administration to borrow up to $3.25 billion from the Treasury to build renewable transmission lines in the western United States, including western Texas
Did the New Energy Army have an impact?


Last summer, when we started this effort, no one would have believed that 1.4 million Americans would join together to affect energy legislation in the Congress of the United States. But last week alone, over a 3 day period, we generated over 60,000 emails to Members of the United States House and Senate urging their support.

You can like or dislike the stimulus package, and I’m not qualified enough to speak to the entire package or its economic prospects. But I do know energy, and I know the aspects of the stimulus plan that address this subject are critical and beneficial. But they are also a first step.

We’ve still got more work to do to end our dependence on foreign oil, especially on the natural gas side of the Pickens Plan. I said on CNBC that the battle now shifts to the House and Senate Energy Committees to begin moving the country from imported gasoline and diesel to domestic natural gas.

I’ll be coming back to you in the next few days with a plan to have a serious impact on foreign oil.

Pat yourselves on the back. Take ten. Then get ready to saddle up and start again.

Thank you.


P.S. If you haven’t joined your District Group yet, now is the time. Click here.

Gee, you're quite welcome, Boone. Let's do lunch sometime. And good luck to those Oklahoma State Cowboys!

Just For MORE Laughs (sort of)- Jim Cramer; "Bear Stearns Is Fine"

From March 11, 2008. Jim Cramer on the financial stability of Bear Stearns.

We all know what happened next.

Click here for Bear Stearns website for a look at where they are today.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Just For Laughs; HSN's Colleen Lopez

This may not be big news to some of you, but many of TV's biggest laughs come from the "electronic retailers", aka the home shopping channels.

HSN's Colleen Lopez is a veteran of many years on that network, often doing two or three hours straight of live unscripted television. And being live, home shopping (like news and sports) are the TRUE reality shows. Sometimes hosts and guests....let's just or say the unexpected. Or in some cases, the unexpected happens to them.

Below, Colleen gets more than a slight case of "the giggles".

And being the good sport that she is, Colleen responded to her "meltdown" in this short video.

I think I'll give them a call and ask the host to say "hi" to my dog!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Making A Difference; Warrick Dunn

Note: This is the first in a series of articles about some of the more extraordinary people from all walks of life who give of themselves above and beyond what is expected. You'll read stories of the famous, of the not so famous, and of those who's own generosity may go unnoticed and under reported.

In telling these stories to those who wish to read them, and with videos of these individuals telling their stories in their own words, its my hope that in some small way I may contribute and give something back to a world that can be tough, but is always in need of some kindness and inspiration.

I'll start the series with the tale of a very good player from the National Football League, but even a better human being, Warrick Dunn of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Pictures can tell a thousand words. Videos allow us to paint tens of thousands of words. Here, from NBC's Today Show, is a recent interview by Tiki Barber (with Ann Curry), the story of NFL running back Warrick Dunn.

I first saw Warrick Dunn on when he was a star running back for Florida State University in the mid-1990's. In his career at FSU Dunn ran for 3,959 yards, and became the first FSU running back to rush for 1,000 or more yards in three consecutive years. He was an All-ACC running back in back to back to back years, and is one of only seven former Seminoles to have his jersey (#28) retired.

But I didn't know Warrick Dunn's back story until his junior year; I never knew that on January 7,1993, his mother Betty Smothers- an off duty police officer who was working a second job as a security guard- was murdered by bank robbers in Louisiana. Dunn (born January 5, 1975) became the head of the household, the oldest of four children. Years later Dunn was named the legal guardian of his younger siblings. Dunn was interviewed by Roger Mills of THE ST. PETERSBURG TIMES in 2000 about his "single fatherhood".

I saw Dunn's story on a college football preview show. He told the interviewer that contrary to the prevailing opinion of experts, that he would return to school for his senior year and obtain his degree rather than enter the NFL draft.

His message to his family, and to the world was simple. The money can wait- I need this degree for after football.

Dunn received his Bachelor's Degree from Florida State in 1997. That same year he was a first round selection of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the 12th overall pick of the 1997 NFL Draft.

Warrick Dunn played with Tampa Bay from 1997 to 2001, moved on to the Atlanta Falcons for six seasons, 2002-2007, and returned to the Bucs for the 2008 season. For his career he has rushed for 10,967, scored 49 touchdowns, caught 510 passes for 4,339 yards and 15 touchdowns. In his more than 3,000 offensive touches he has only fumbled 25 times and lost 16 fumbles for his career, a remarkably low percentage.

The Warrick Dunn Foundation

Warrick Dunn Foundation video from FSU Headlines on Vimeo.

The following is an excerpt from
The Warrick Dunn Foundation website.

"Welcome to my Foundation Web site and thank you for taking an interest in my charitable activities. Growing up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, I was blessed to have people in my life who taught me the importance of helping others in need.

I did not grow up with many material things, but I was surrounded by the love of my family, friends and coaches. My mother worked overtime to put food on the table and a roof over our heads. Although we did not have much, she taught me how to give of myself and to be generous to those in need.

Walking down the street you will see common, everyday people going about their daily lives, working hard to make ends meet. Look closer and you will see their hardships and responsibilities.

…the mother on the street holding her toddler in one arm as she waits for the city bus so she can take her child to daycare and then go to work.

…the lady at the grocery store check–out counter with three kids in tow having to put items back because she just does not have enough money to cover the bill.

Look even closer and you will see the pride in their eyes that they are doing everything they can to provide for their children. These are the people I feel most compelled to help. The Warrick Dunn Foundation strives to help those who are helping themselves. I learned a long time ago that you cannot be all things to all people. However, each of us can do our part to help in some small way to make our community a better place to live. As a result of growing up in a single-parent household, I have focused my charitable efforts on helping single parent families obtain first-time homeownership. I believe that homeownership is the foundation for establishing a stable and productive family environment, an environment in which children can thrive educationally, socially and economically."

Warrick Dunn

Also from the website;

"As the oldest of six, Warrick grew up watching his mother, Betty Smothers, provide for him and his five siblings. As a single mother she worked endless hours as a Baton Rouge police officer and several off-duty jobs to make ends meet. During Warrick’s senior year at Catholic high school, his mother’s life was taken in the line of duty, leaving him the responsibility of keeping the family together. Although she worked hard all of her life, Betty was never able to realize the American dream of owning her own home.

After being drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first round of the 1997 NFL Draft, Warrick established the “Homes for the Holidays” program in Tampa, Fla. The program honors Betty’s dream of homeownership for other single parents. In 1998, the “Homes for the Holidays” program was introduced to Warrick’s hometown of Baton Rouge, La. and in Atlanta, Ga. in 2002 during his first year with the Atlanta Falcons. The “Homes for the Holidays” program currently exists in Atlanta, Tampa, Baton Rouge and Tallahassee, Fla. in 2007. As of January 2009, the program has assisted 84 single parents and 224 dependents to achieve first-time homeownership"

Warrick Dunn's credentials from Canton may be questioned as far as a possible Hall of Fame induction. His credentials as one of the finest individuals and men of character in the sports world, or in our society, in beyond reproach. His charitable works and goodness of heart are keeping the legacy of his mother, who died so needlessly and tragically, alive and burning brightly.

The world of sports sometimes really does give us true heroes and role models on occasion. And Warrick Dunn is at that forefront, more so for who he is and what he does, and not just for how he played the game.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Things That Keep Me From Sleeping At Night

(1) Do you think that Jerry Mathers ever got a day at Penn State's Beaver Stadium?

(2) And speaking of Penn State....why is it called Penn State when its in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania?

(3) Pink Floyd....which one's pink?

(4) The Utah Jazz....yeah, when I think about Utah, its always about Brigham Young, the Great Salt Lake, and Miles Davis.

(5) If God Created Man in His Own Image? Lemmy Kilmister of MOTORHEAD.

(6) Kudos to the heroes of Flight 3407, not losing a single passenger in the emergency crash into the Hudson River. Sadly, all their luggage was reported as "late" or "missing".

(7) If ESPN's Trey Wingo married Drey Mingo, of the University of Maryland's women's basketball team, would Mrs. Wingo be called Drey Mingo Wingo? And when they get old, would Mr Wingo and Ms. Mingo Wingo get to spend their Golden Years playing Bingo?

(8) I found out recently that under most circumstances Medicare will not pay for most hearing aids used by most elderly patients. I suppose the logic is that if Grandpa can't hear what's going on he'll be less likely to break into the conversation with the same story you've heard at least fifty times.

(9) A very simple two-pronged way to end the economic crisis and get people to spend again- first, have Congress declare a Christmas, Part II for sometime in July, a Little Valentine's Day in September, and Son of Mother's Day for August. Bill O'Reilly and Fox News could fight their war on those heathens who declared war on Christmas twice in the same year, keeping conservatives happy. And second, the Department of Treasury can send notices to all of the people who bought those mass marketed Barack Obama "collectibles", and tell them the actual value of those items.....then give the people envelopes, like the guys who buy the used gold in the infomercials, and send them to the US Treasury in exchange for a US Savings Bond....savings....what a concept!

And the economy is saved. See, I'm not wasting my time online.

(10) If God Created Man In His Own Image, Pt2....Keith Richards

Wow!!!! That last one even scared me. I'm going to try to get some sleep.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Loneliest Night of the Year

A Happy Valentine's Day to all who are celebrating, and to the rest of you, who like me are alone tonight....well, it could be alot worse.

I just got back from the A&P. There's a line of guys there, five or six deep, all buying a live lobster at God know's what price per pound, and another dozen frantic procrastinators turning the greeting card department into what could be equated to the sack of Rome by Alaric and his Visigoths.

So if you singles who are alone tonight think you're desperate, faggeddaboutit! Those guys are're just alone for the night.

Even Bogey, the toughest guy on the block, had to gut it out.

Others, like this middle aged man from Gainesville,FL had other means of handling his loneliness.

Hey....its not for me.

But what ever floats yer boat!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Flight 3407 Tragedy Hits Close To Home

I'd like to take time to offer condolences to the families who lost loved ones in the crash of Continental Flight 3407 in Clarence, New York. The flight originated out of Newark, NJ, and for several years I worked in Terminal C, hub for Continental in the Northeast.

Among the 50 known crash victims was flight attendant Matilda Qunitero of Woodbridge, NJ, the town where I grew up. More about Ms. Quintero can be found here, courtesy of WCBS-2.

We put on the news, we see a tragedy, and we go on.....but we never seem to take time to dwell on the lives that were lost, and the families that have been shattered.

But we, life, is so fragile, we never know when it will be our turn. So appreciate and savor every minute, ladies and gents.

May God be with those lost, and with their families....

Manhunter vs Red Dragon

I must admit...I think CSI jumped the shark when William Petersen exited the show. Laurence Fishburne is a fine actor, but I'm not buying this stuff about an MD joining Las Vegas PD at an entry level position because of this altruistic feeling he has to fight crime. Fishburne's Ray Langston seems like a regular guy...and somehow I miss the quirkiness of Petersen's Gil Grissom character. I'll never look at cockroaches in the same way. And it seems that lately basic cable and some of the premium channels have brought back some of William Petersen's earlier films. A few weeks ago I watched To Live And Die In LA, a film Petersen made in 1985, directed by William Friedkin (The French Connection, The Exorcist),in which Petersen played a renegade treasury agent out to avenge the murder of his partner at the hands of a charismatic counterfeiter (Willem Dafoe). Also starring were the young John Tuturro and John Pankow, and also Jane Leeves, the future Daphne Moon from Frasier making a non speaking (and very sexy) appearance as bisexual toy that Dafoe's character gives to his girlfriend. The movie had a memorable car chase- going the wrong way during rush hour, and a soundtrack by one hit wonders Wang Chung. The film was a modest success, and I enjoyed seeing it the first time around, and even more so upon revisiting it a few weeks ago- it was fun to see those actors so fresh and new on the scene...and I wondered what ever became of Wang Chung?


Petersen's next movie was an adaptation of Thomas Harris's novel Red Dragon. The novel introduced the world to Doctor Hannibal Lecter, fiction's most famous cannibal. Michael Mann, the creator of TV's MIAMI VICE was the director of the film, its titled changed to Manhunter, and along the way, there were several changes in the storyline, and time frame. It has been said the title change came from the failure of a film preceding Manhunter by several years, The Year of the Dragon. Studioheads were said to have been nervous about possible confusion regarding Red Dragon and Year of the Dragon, hence, the change to Manhunter. William Petersen played FBI profiler Will Graham in Manhunter. Graham is in pursuit of a mass murdered nicknamed "The Tooth Fairy" who's MO is to stalk and then slaughter entire families. The killer is Francis Dollarhyde (played by Tom Noonan), a worker in a film processing plant who selects his victims from home movies they send in for processing. The disturbed and withdrawn Dollarhyde falls in love with a blind co-worker, Reba McClane (Joan Allen). Graham and his boss, Jack Crawford (Dennis Farina) track Dollarhyde down, with help from incarcerated genius/madman/serial killer Hannibal Lecktor (different spelling, played by Brian Cox). The film had a pure 1980's, Miami Vice feel to it, from Michael Mann's use of contrasting colors (Graham dressed in black while visiting Lecktor in his cell, everything else being a very sterile and clinical looking hospital white), his use of synthesizer "mood music", and his imaginative choice of Iron Butterfly's In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida in the film's bloody climax (see below).

Some of the departures from the novel included a total absence of Dollarhyde's back story on how he became the monster who killed families so methodically and brutally, and Lecktor has only a few scenes with Graham. When released, the film received good reviews, but was a box office flop. It remained a cult favorite, and actually started to gain an audience years later on home video after the success of the second of Harris's series, The Silence of the Lambs, and its adaptation into an Oscar winning motion picture (1991).

Will Graham (William Petersen) Confronts Hannibal Lecktor (Brian Cox)

With the comparative failure of Manhunter William Petersen resumed his career as a character actor, and with few lead roles on the big screen, he was usually cast in supporting roles, with an occasional lead on TV in the 1990's. That all changed in 2000 when he became a TV superstar on CBS TV's CSI. But also in the '90's, the blockbuster success of Silence of the Lambs made Hannibal Lecter a horror icon in the same league as Count Dracula, Mr. Hyde, and Frankenstein's monster. Anthony Hopkins made the role of Lecter his own, an Oscar for his portrayal in hand, and mass fame for the distinguished actor after three decades in films. Audiences couldn't wait for the Harris's next novel in the series. Hannibal, published in 1999, was a best seller, and it wasn't long until the film adaptation, starring Anthony Hopkins, was in production. Ridley Scott directed the film version, and though it received mixed reviews, Hannibal did well enough at the boxoffice to garner interest in doing a prequel to Silence of the Lambs- that is, a remake of Manhunter.

Theatrical Trailer for RED DRAGON

Anthony Hopkins On Hannibal Lecter

Directed by Brett Ratner,Red Dragon was released on October 4, 2002 to mixed reviews but to box office success. Hopkins returned as Lecter, and Edward Norton costarred as Will Graham. Also in the stellar cast were Harvey Keitel (Jack Crawford), Emily Watson(Reba McClane), Phillip Seymour Hoffman (tabloid journalist Freddy Lounds), and Ralph Feinnes as the tortured serial killer Francis Dolarhyde. Red Dragon is a truer presentation than Mann's Manhunter was. It deals extensively with Dolarhyde's backstory of being abused and humiliated in a painful childhood, scarring him and producing the monster that he became. This version deals with Dolarhyde's obsession with William Blake's painting, "The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in Sun") , and his twisted belief that he is morphing into the Great Red Dragon, and its power is egging him unto his murder sprees. Dolarhyde has the painting tattooed on his back, and displays it to writer Lounds before dispatching him to a fiery demise. In Manhunter Tom Noonan spent hours being bodied painted with the same tattoo- but it was never shown on screen. Below, Noonan is interviewed about his portrayal of "The Tooth Fairy".

Red Dragon gives much more screentime to Hopkins as Lecter, but in this version, as in Manhunter, Hannibal Lecter is a supporting character. The incident of what Lecter did to Will, which was referred to but never elaborated on, was shown in its graphic detail at the beginning of the film. There were other changes in the timeline and plot, most notably the ending, where Dolarhyde does a Jason Voorhees styled encore, and there was a predictable set up for The Silence of the Lambs. However, there were certain scenes that were almost word for word replays in Red Dragon from the earlier Manhunter. Below, a segment from Will's visit with Lecter to seek his help....does it seem familiar?

There is a very clever re-edit on YouTube, featuring Graham's visit with Lector, William Petersen- Brian Cox, and Edward Norton-Anthony Hopkins. It cannot be embedded (by owner's request) but may be seen by clicking here.

My Final Analysis

Although I liked both films, I must give the edge to Manhunter. If you wanted to put a film in a time capsule to represent the new film noir of the 1980's Manhunter would be a more than fair representative. William Petersen's brooding Will Graham was far more interesting and quietly intense than Edward Norton's portrayal. Brian Cox as Lector was a much more subtle monster than Hopkins' Lecter. Maybe Cox's apparent "normalcy" was scarier than Hopkins menace. Perhaps because by 2002 Hopkins' Lecter was such a part of our pop culture (his third portrayal of Lecter) he came across like Boris Karloff's third go at Frankenstein's Monster (SON OF FRANKENSTEIN)- much of the terror created earlier became a caricature.

Ralph Fiennes' Dollarhyde became sympathetic (in a way) when you learned of his backstory, while Tom Noonan remained a cold blooded killer to the viewer. Stephen King once wrote that in composing fiction, its best to not explain the "whys", because doing so could paint the author into a corner. Michael Mann, in his adaptation, took that route, and in doing so created a minor and under appreciated masterpiece.

I'd like to mention the respective portrayals of Reba by Joan Allen (Manhunter) and Emily Watson (Red Dragon). Ms. Allen remains a favorite of mine, and her's was a subdued portrayal of an innocent victim of a crazed killer. In Manhunter Reba's brief flirtation with Dollarhyde was consumated, but the timeline was greatly condensed- in Red Dragon Reba and Dollarhyde do spend the night together, and Dollarhyde does start to have feelings of love for her, that quickly morph into a greater need to kill. Of all the major roles in the two films, I must say I thought Ms. Watson was the better Reba, the only portrayal that was better in the remake than in the original. Her waiflike face and demeanor made you want to reach out and yell "Stay away from that guy" before its too late. Her terror in the climactic scenes, and her self loathing for her poor choices in men, made her more three dimensional than Ms. Allen's Reba.

In all, these are two very good and chilling films. But while Manhunter remains one of my alltime favorite movies, Red Dragon seems like what Godfather III is to the first to films of Coppola's trilogy- good entertainment, but almost superfluous.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Heroes Are Hard To Find....Or Are They?

Last week I was listening to WFAN Sports Talk in New York on the day when New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez's involvement with steroids during his time with the Texas Rangers (2001-03) was first broken by SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's Selena Roberts. A caller to "The Fan" asked the hosts, "Didya hear that?".

The puzzled hosts asked, "Hear what?"

The caller went on. "That sigh of relef coming from Los Angeles."

The caller's reference was to former Yankee manager Joe Torre and his book (coauthored by Tom Verducci), The Yankee Years, in which Torre (now manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers) tells a no holds barred account of his tenure (1996-2007) with the Yankees.

With brief respite for The Super Bowl, most of the talk in New York, New Jersey, and the rest of Yankeeland had been about Joe Torre and the book for more than two weeks, ever since the first excerpts of the book were released to the media. Baseball fans in general, and Yankee fans in particular, were for the most part up in arms about the disclosures regarding certain players Torre and Verducci made in the book. Many saw Torre as a hypocrite; during his stay as Yankee manager, Torre was famous for leaving clubhouse business in the clubhouse. He was seen by some, including many in the media, as a person who betrayed his own principles by telling behind closed doors secrets to the outside world. He lauded his favorites, like Derek Jeter and David Cone, and chided his problem children, such as David Wells and Randy Johnson. And in the book he seemed to have turned on his onetime supporter, General Manager Brian Cashman.

There was speculation that Yankee ownership got wind of Torre's book last fall before the closure of old Yankee Stadium, thus the apparent snub of Joe Torre despite his run of four world Championships in five years. Questions abounded about Torre's legacy, even if there would ever be a Joe Torre Day at new Yankee Stadium, and an eventual retirement of Torre's number 6 jersey.

And now, only a week after Olympic champion Michael Phelps exposure for using marijuana, came the revelation of A-Rod, baseball's biggest star, as being a steroid user for at least part of his career. Though Rodriguez has not used steroids or performance enhancing drugs during his time with the Yankees, the reaction in the New York media, and nationally, was very loud and very swift in its condemnation. A-Rod, called "A-Fraud" by certain teammates even before his exposure as a steroid user, has felt the vilification from New York media because of his failure in the clutch during the Yankee's post season appearances, and the Yankees failure to win a world championship during his time with the team.

The remaining defenders Rodriguez had among Yankee fans saw in Rodriguez's admission to ESPN's Peter Gammons that he, indeed, had used banned substances, and that his previous denials had been lies. The truth- this is a hero with more than a few flaws.

I'm of the opinion that we, as human beings, are not realistic in what we expect from heroes, or how we choose our heroes, whether they be in in sports or from everyday life. We expect perfection, and we bestow on them a type of deification, which absolutely none of them deserve. We want heroes to be as wise as Abraham Lincoln, as noble as Atticus Finch, and as brave as Luke Skywalker. And we are not realistic at all.

In Schindler's List we saw the portrayal of a very different kind of alcoholic, philandering, black marketeer who risked his life to save hundreds of innocent lives. His flaws made him no less heroic, but only magnified the good that he did.

I don't excuse Alex Rodriguez for his letting down of those who believed in him. But I won't be among those leading the charge to condemn and vilify him for the remainder of his career. You have to let go of the past, and to move on. In tough times like these, America is still seeking its heroes.

Yesterday Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, the pilot of US AirWays Flight 1549, who landed his downed plane in the cold Hudson River with no loss of life of the 150 passengers on board, was given the keys to the city from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Many ask about the continued press coverage, and the milking dry of every aspect of the story. But this story serves a greater good. It shows what true heroism is; doing the right thing, and overcoming fear to beat the odds.

There are more Sullys out there, and more heroes, if we just take the time to look. And even the flawed and fallen heroes should and will have a chance of redemption.

After all, they're only human.

Parting Shot; Heroes Are Hard To Find- Also a great album by the pre-Buckingham Nicks version of Fleetwood Mac. With Bob Welch (guitar and vocals, Christine McVie (keyboards and vocals), John McVie (bass) and Mick Fleetwood (drums).

Monday, February 9, 2009

A Change of Direction

This blog has in the past assumed a very political and partisan stance, and has been very vocal in its support for candidate Obama, but strangely silent in the weeks leading up to President Obama's inauguration, and the for the first couple of weeks of the new administration. My politics haven't changed, and my support for President Obama in unwavering- he is the right man for the job, and it will take years for him to undue eight years of Republican incompetence.

I wish him luck in that undertaking.

In the past few weeks I have been nursing my Dad back after a cataract operation, and from a bout of the flu....and I myself had a little touch of the bug in January....and quiet frankly, I put this blog on a back burner. I told myself when things get better on the home front, I'll resume my usual routine.

But a funny thing happened...Dad got better, I got better....and I still didn't feel like writing, and ranting. And it took me until now to put it together.

I think I just got tired of all the negativity. The news always seems like its bad, more people are out of work, the economy is a disaster, and you can't escape it; its on the news 24-7. Mind you, I'm as concerned as the next guy. And its going to be a long, tough road ahead of us.

The wisdom of Franklin Roosevelt in his first inaugural address keeps echoing in my mind...."We have nothing to fear but fear itself". The best way to handle fear is to acknowledge it. And then you go ahead and try to alleviate those fears in others, and in yourself.

I just finished reading Anne Rice's Called Out of Darkness:A Spiritual Confession, in which Ms. Rice tells her story of school girl devotion to Roman Catholicism to atheism in adulthood, and back to an even stronger belief in Catholicism as an older adult. In the end, Rice decided to devote her writing skills to telling tales of faith, such in her fine novel Christ The Lord: Out of Egypt, in which the young Jesus tells his story in the first person. Rice felt a time to redirect and rededicate her focus as part of her resumption of her life as a practicing Catholic.

And I find myself in a similar crossroads, but one of substance rather than of faith.

This blog was originally intended to be a magazine, similar in structure to a cyber CBS SUNDAY MORNING. I wanted to talk about culture, and pop culture, and art, and music, and books, and sports, and the news. But most of all, I wanted to talk about "our better angels"....about those among us who make a difference. I guess in the political turn I took, I sought that better angel....and hopefully that's what the man in the Oval Office is.

Buts its time to get back to my original intentions. I want to start talking about people you may or may not be familiar with, and how those people are helping to change lives in what is an increasingly tough world. There are thousands of small stories that need to be told. All they need is someone to tell them.

And there is a small still voice inside of me that says...."Its your job, 'Hugh Jee'".

That's all for now....I've got some work to do.
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