TED KENNEDY, 1932-2009
Sen. Ted Kennedy is one of those public figures that people either really love or really hate, but I honestly don’t have that big of an opinion on him one way or the other, apart from being really weary of the whole “Kennedy mystique” thing and wondering how on earth Teddy skated on the Chappaquiddick scandal—if that happened today, he’d be out of office faster than you can say Blagojevich. Whenever I hear TK's name, I often think of the Styx song that James “J.Y.” Young wrote in 1979 called “Eddie”, where JY tried to discourage him from running for President in ’80 against Jimmy Carter for fear he’d be cut down in his prime just as his brothers were. Kennedy ran anyway, but gave up when he realized he wouldn’t beat Carter for the nomination, and even if he had, I doubt if he’d have beaten Reagan anyhow. Strange irony too, that Kennedy died within just a couple weeks of the other famous Ted Kennedy, the NHL Hall of Famer known as “Teeder”, who died on August 14th.
LARRY KNECHTEL, 1940-2009
You probably don’t know the name, but if you listened to Pop music at all during the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, you know of his work. Larry Knechtel was the bass player for Bread and he passed away last week of an apparent heart attack. Knechtel was also a prolific session musician—that’s his piano you hear on Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water”—and he played with practically everybody and their mother: namely Neil Diamond, Randy Newman, Elvis Costello, Chet Atkins, Joan Baez, The Dixie Chicks, The Beach Boys, Stephen Bishop, The Spencer Davis Group, John Denver, Duane Eddy, The Doors, The Everly Brothers, The 5th Dimension, Jerry Garcia, The Grass Roots, Jan & Dean, Thelma Houston, Billy Joel, Al Kooper, The Mamas & Papas, Barry McGuire, The Monkees, Harry Nilsson, Dolly Parton, Tina Turner, Elvis Presley, Johnny Rivers, Diana Ross and Nancy Sinatra. He was also a member of the Rip Chords (of “Hey Little Cobra” fame) and now the truth can be told—Larry Knechtel was the real keyboardist for The Partridge Family, NOT Susan Dey. I’m sure some of you might be shocked by that revelation, but it’s true. Rest in peace, Larry—ya done pretty good.
ELLIE GREENWICH, 1940-2009
The Reaper’s been busy again, as legendary songwriter Ellie Greenwich died today in New York of a heart attack. She, along with her former husband/songwriting partner Jeff Barry, co-wrote a plethora of classics, like "Hanky Panky", "River Deep, Mountain High", "Da Doo Ron Ron", "Then He Kissed Me", "Be My Baby" "Baby, I Love You", "Leader Of The Pack", "Chapel Of Love" and "Do Wah Diddy Diddy", the latter of which was recorded the very day yours truly was born, June 11, 1964. With an impressive resumé like that, you’d think Ellie and Jeff would be in the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame, right? Well, they ain’t, but that renowned Rocker Leonard Cohen damn sure is! Rest in peace, Ellie—ya done pretty good, too, in spite of what the (c)Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Fame might think.
Okay, enough death for one day…
NOW I’M STARTING TO CATCH ON…“And change, almost by definition, always comes too fast, always brings a sense of stark dislocation. As in the woman who cried to a reporter, ‘I want “my country” back!’. Probably the country she meant still had Beaver Cleaver on TV and Doris Day on “Your Hit Parade”.—Leonard Pitts, Jr.
So this is what all this right-wing “I want my country back” stuff in regard to health care reform is all about—the fact that we ain’t in Mayberry anymore? Or Hooterville? Or even Crabapple Cove? Where the hell have these people been the last 50 years? I suppose I could apply the “I want my country back” shtick to the fact that I can’t buy the new Kiss CD anywhere but Wal-Mart or because there are no decent Rock radio stations anymore or that network TV is nothing but a “Reality” show morass, but I’m learning to adapt. Now before I’m accused of “drinking the Obama Kool-Aid” again, I’m not saying his proposals are necessarily all that great, but folks, this current health care system is fucked-up! It’s been fucked-up for a long time. So long, in fact, that we can’t even blame Dubya for it. Something needs to change, and while change can have its trapdoors and such, what the hell are y’all so scared of? I’m tired of hearing all this U.S.S. of A. malarkey. Calm down, Amerika! (Oops…)
“A POINTLESS THING, DEVOID OF GRACE…”—PART 1That’s a Kiss lyric, believe it or not, and it more than applies to something I saw on ESPN the other day. No, it wasn’t their endless Brett Favre lovefest, but rather the latest Mel Kiper, Jr. “mock draft” running on the crawl at the bottom of the screen for the 2010 NFL Draft! WTF? While I realize this Kiper doofus takes himself far too seriously, how can you possibly know who the best college players for 2010 are going to be before the 2009 season even starts? Come on, “Worldwide Leader”, turn off the damn hype machine, already…
“A POINTLESS THING, DEVOID OF GRACE…”—PART 2
Please explain to me why new Chefs head coach Todd Haley insists on removing the players’ Arrowhead helmet stickers during practice—what the hell difference does it make? Other coaches have used this motivational tactic as well, saying the players have to “earn their stripes”, so to speak, but I think it’s friggin’ stupid. And, oh by the way, how come Haley gets to keep the Arrowhead on his hat, hmmm? If it works, more power to him, I suppose, but I think it’s asinine…
ARENA FOOTBALL REBORN!
For those of you mourning the demise of the Arena Football League, there’s a ray of hope for you thanks to Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, whose multi-zillion dollar stadium hosted its first football game the other night in Arlington, TX. All I’ve heard about this place for the last two years is how it’s going to have the biggest Hi-Def TV screens in the world, to the point where they’re visible on satellite images and will have their own ZIP codes. Just one teensy little problem—these oversized monuments to excess hover directly over the football field, right smack dab in the path of airborne punted footballs! It just astounds me that no one took this into account when they designed this place, even though everything apparently was in line with NFL specifications. It’s now up to the NFL’s competition committee to decide what the ground rules are for punts that strike the scoreboard in Dallas, since there’s apparently no way to raise or lower these behemoths. And as much as I'd love to see dem Cowboys get flattened, they also better hope these suckers don’t come crashing back to earth—from what I hear, the damn things weigh several hundred tons.
DOUCHE OF THE WEEK CANDIDATE #1
Rick Pitino, Louisville head basketball coach. Slick Rick pissed and moaned at a press conference today that this sex scandal he was involved in has been “hell” for his family since the media put the story out. Well, Rick baby, whose fault is that? Classic example of what happens when you let the little head do the thinking. Cry me a freakin’ river…
DOUCHE OF THE WEEK CANDIDATE #2
Milton Bradley, Chicago Cubs right fielder. Uncle Milty pissed and moaned yesterday that the fans at Wrigley Field are being mean to him and he faces daily hatred there, according to the Sports Illustrated website. "It's hard to be comfortable when you don't get a hit and get booed every time," he said. "When I go home and look in the mirror, I like what I see.” Well, gee, Milt, can I make a suggestion? Try playing better!!! .259 average, 10 home runs and 32 RBIs? That might lead the Royals, but it’s not acceptable on a team expected to contend. Is this guy a head case, or what?
DOUCHE OF THE WEEK CANDIDATE #3
Kate Gosselin, overexposed “reality” TV personality. Right now, MSNBC’s website has no less than three different headlines on their Entertainment page about this woman, who had a pity-party on “Larry King Live” last night and pissed and moaned, "I'm lonely, but I'm very busy." Come on, America, it’s time to put these sorry-ass people out of their misery and stop watching their TV show! It would be the biggest favor you can do them—they can't seem to handle being famous anyway, and it‘ll stop Jon and Kate from exploiting their children just for ratings.
CLASSIC MISHEARD LYRIC #119
“Amos Moses”—JERRY REED (1971) “Well, I wonder where the Louisiana sheriff went to…” sounded to my 7-year-old ears more like “Well, I wonder where Louisiana itself went to…” Like I say, I was a weird little kid...
HELLO, YELLOW BRICK ROAD
Can you believe it was 70 years ago yesterday that The Wizard Of Oz was released? I remember how WOO was an annual rite of passage on CBS when I was a kid, and it always aired on a Sunday night, usually in the Spring—right in the heart of tornado season, naturally. I also remember how the newscaster on our local CBS affiliate always reminded viewers that the first part of the movie was in black-and-white, thus there was no need to adjust your TV set! It’s amazing how many pop culture catchphrases are found in that film—“I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore…I’ll get you, my pretty!...Follow the yellow brick road…If I only had a brain (Dubya’s theme!)…Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain (Cheney’s theme)…And your little dog, too!” and many many more. Lions and tigers and 70th anniversaries, oh my!
THE BUCK STOPPED THERE
I’m currently reading a book about baseball parks that I borrowed from the library, and under the Kansas City entry, it talks about how the legendary Kansas City Monarchs played at old Municipal Stadium and sometimes the team would take their show on the road and play in St. Joseph, MO, some 50 miles to the north at venerable Phil Welch Stadium. When I worked at KKJO radio in “Joetown” in 1988, the K-JO staff played a charity softball game against the local TV station, KQ-2 (or IQ-2, as we called them) at Phil Welch (I went 2-for-2, thank you very much) and little did I know until today that I once played ball on the very same field the legendary Buck O’Neil played on! I’m totally not worthy…
I had a chance to meet Buck about five or six years ago at a baseball card show and whiffed on it. He came in the room and several people flocked over to meet him. I figured, “eh, he’s probably tired of being hounded,” and I passed on going over to say hello. Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! Everything I’ve ever heard about Mr. O’Neil is he was just about the most gracious man on the planet, and I should’ve leapt at the chance to meet the man. Too late now…
SAY HELLO TO OUR GOOD FRIEND PAUL SHAFFER...
Kudos to Dave Letterman’s trusty sidekick for acknowledging the passing of former Paul Revere & The Raiders guitarist Drake Levin by playing “Just Like Me” on the “Late Show” last month. Hmmm—Paul Shaffer & The Raiders? Verry interesting! Former Raiders bassist Phil “Fang” Volk, also paid tribute at a memorial event for Drake, as did the ring leader, Paul Revere himself. Nice going, Paul, Phil and Paul—you did “The Kid” proud!