Saturday, September 5, 2009

Keep on bloggin' in the free world...

Now all the righties have their collective panties in a wad over the upcoming speech President O. plans to deliver next week to school kids.  Apparently, Obama plans to encourage kids to focus on their education, get good grades and stay in school—what an ass he is!  Sample a bit of the bilge water, if you dare:

—"As far as I am concerned, this is not civics education—it gives the appearance of creating a cult of personality," said Oklahoma state Sen. Steve Russell.  "This is something you'd expect to see in North Korea or in Saddam Hussein's Iraq.”
You’re reaching a bit, there, ain’t ya, Comrade Steve?

—PTA council president Cara Mendelsohn said Obama is "cutting out the parent" by speaking to kids during school hours.  "Why can't a parent be watching this with their kid in the evening?" Mendelsohn said.  "Because that's what makes a powerful statement, when a parent is sitting there saying, 'This is what I dream for you.  This is what I want you to achieve.'"
Yeah, right, like the average American parent is actually going to sit down with their kid and listen to the President speak when they can be Twittering or watching “American Idol” or “Jon & Kate”—what parallel universe are you living in?  Meantime, what's wrong with the teachers giving some guidance about what the Pres. sez?  After all, that's what we taxpayers are paying them to do.

—"Nobody seems to know what he's going to be talking about," Texas Governor Rick Perry said.  "Why didn't he spend more time talking to the local districts and superintendents, at least give them a heads-up about it?"
Uhhh, I believe the plan has been pretty much laid out.  He’s supposed to talk about the importance of education, mmm-kay?

—In Florida, GOP chairman Jim Greer released a statement that he was "absolutely appalled that taxpayer dollars are being used to spread President Obama's socialist ideology.”
Yes, when taxpayer dollars could better be wasted on voting machines that actually count the freakin’ votes, eh, Jim?

Okay, I know I sound like an Obama sycophant here, but let me assure you I’m not.  I’m not saying he has all the answers—hell, he may not even have any of the answers, but good gravy, the guy’s been in office all of seven months and change—he needs more time than that to undo eight years worth of the Village Idiot’s FUBARs!  If nothing else, couldn’t y’all at least hold off until AFTER Obama delivers this blasted speech before criticizing it?

This is just more sour grapes because their guy lost in November—get over it, people!  It’s merely more typical right-wing “let’s distort the facts and just make up a bunch of shit” paranoia being spread to deflect attention away from the real story—to wit, this is this week’s version of Sarah Palin’s “death panels”.  Relax, folks, there will be no need to de-program your kids after the speech—Obama’s not going to turn your precious offspring into Stepford wives or Manson followers, or even Democrats!  It’s like these righty wing-nuts only hear what they want to hear, and you can bet your 1,000 Points of Light that if either of the Bushes gave a speech like this to students, there’d be no controversy, would there?  And, heaven forbid you’d want your kids to listen to the President of the United States, by God, when there are far more influential voices for them to listen to such as Hannah Montana, Jon & Kate, Pink, Jay-Z, Octomom, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Brad & Angelina and the Jonas Brothers, et al, right?

Lest ye righties think I’m too much of a lefty (which I’m not), might I also say it’s time to let Ted Kennedy finally rest.  Don’t mean to sound disrespectful here, but there have been more than enough glowing tributes and remembrances in the past week, and I’m just about all Kennedied-out.  Same goes for Michael Jackson, who is now finally six feet under, a good two months after his untimely demise.  Time to let go, folks—life goes on…

Then again, Teddy only had one state funeral, unlike the three or four they held for Reagan—on the taxpayer’s dime, of course (right, GOP Chairman Greer from Florida?).  Just thought I’d throw that out…

Legendary baseball announcer Robert Garnett “Buddy” Blattner passed away yesterday of lung cancer in suburban St. Louis at the age of 89.  He was best known for pairing with Hall of Famer Dizzy Dean on St. Louis Browns broadcasts and Mutual Radio in the ‘50s.  Buddy was also the original #1 announcer in Royals history, teaming with Denny Matthews from 1969-75, and in turn, he was the first play-by-play man I ever listened to when I was a kid.  It’s been a long time since I’ve heard his voice, but I remember he was a really good guy.  He retired at a relatively early age for baseball announcers, 55, mostly because he was burned-out on all the travel involved, and it sounds like he had a pretty nice retirement.  Rest in peace, Buddy…

Just like last year, the Kansas City Chefs have shown me absolutely nothing in the preseason to give any hope of a winning season.  I don’t necessarily care if they win any of these sham exhibition games—they didn’t—but I’d like to at least see some progress on offense, and so far, it almost appears they’ve regressed instead.  And while I was initially excited when the team hired head coach Todd Haley, now I’m wondering if it was the correct move.  I’m trying to give TH the benefit of the doubt, but there’s a big difference between being an in-your-face disciplinarian coach and being arrogant, and so far, Haley comes across as the latter, especially after firing offensive coordinator Chan Gailey last week.  Just as well, though, I couldn’t see those two big egos peacefully co-existing for long, anyway.  Meantime, based on their schedule, this team will be lucky to scratch out three wins this season.  I actually kinda miss Herm Edwards, all of a sudden…

I find his participation in the latest round of these lame Coors Light “post-game press conference” TV ads a bit disingenuous—I thought alcohol was a big no-no with Super Christians like Herm.  I’m not saying Christians can’t have beer now and then, but we’re talking about the same guy for whom Fox Sports’ “Best Damn Sports Show…” had to briefly change it name to “Best Darn…” for him to appear on it because Herm abhors cursing of any kind.  Sheeeeit, I don’t guess Herm would enjoy reading my blog much, huh?  And Coors Light?!?  Herm, baby, if you’re gonna do a beer commercial, at least raise your standards a little.  Coors Light is the basic equivalent of rhino piss on tap!  Don’t ask me how I know that…

A memo to the Kansas City Wizards:  Ya can’t win if ya don’t score!  Our not-so-mighty Major League Soccer entry has been shut out in its last four matches—to wit, they’re scoring every bit as often as I have in the last ten years!  This scoreless streak also coincides with the firing of head coach Curt Onalfo, which tells us that their poor showing this season wasn’t necessarily his fault.  And by the way, whatever happened to the mythical new Wizards soccer stadium?  Every day on the way to work, I drive by the site where it’s supposed be going up, and I still see nothing but Bannister Mall rubble.  Let’s get it up, fellas, both on and off the field!

K.C. has a new bassit-ball team, for whatever it’s worth, the new Kansas City Stars of the American Basketball Association.  I don’t know why this rinky-dink league—which shares nothing with the old ABA of the ‘70s apart from its name and red-white-and-blue game ball—keeps trying to exist by fielding teams comprised of nothing but has-beens, Washington Generals rejects and out-of-shape Shaq and Kobe wanna-bes.  We had a team here previously called the Knights that did fairly well earlier in the decade, but the rest of the new ABA had franchises coming and going on a weekly basis, many of them playing their home games in high school gyms, YMCAs, Wal-Mart parking lots, old folks homes—basically any place that would have them.  I’ve never understood why they can never seem to organize minor league basketball the way baseball and hockey does their minor leagues.  Seems to me we could have a really first-rate farm system for the NBA that could play in markets that don’t have NBA franchises, like K.C., St. Louis, San Diego, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Birmingham, Omaha, etc., and really make a go of it if they’d market the thing properly.

I recently read a biography of late Supremes singer Florence Ballard, whose story was the loose basis for the musical and film Dreamgirls.  Unlike Dreamgirls, there was no happy ending for Flo, who got screwed big-time at pretty much every turn after she was fired from the Supremes, especially by Motown founder Berry Gordy, Jr., who had a perpetual hard-on for Diana Ross and totally ignored Ms. Ballard’s talent.  Gordy is an important figure in music history, no question, but there’s a lot of dirt under his rug and he basically fucked a lot of people over along the way.  Not to diminish what Diana Ross did in her career, but let’s be honest, she’s a bit of a whack job and her voice has all the depth of a thimble.  Of the three original Supremes, Flo Ballard was far and away the best singer and had the most soulful voice, but rarely ever got to sing lead.  I’ve only heard her a couple of times myself, but I was impressed with what I did hear, like “Ain’t That Good News”. In fact, Flo sounded a bit like Ross’ replacement in the Supremes, Jean Terrell, who sang on early ‘70s hits like “Up The Ladder To The Roof” and “Stoned Love”.

By 1967, Flo was tired of being overshadowed by "Miss Ross" and let it be known, and Gordy basically kicked her to the curb and got her to sign a bad severance deal and things unraveled from that point on in her life, including an attempt at a solo career in the ‘70s on ABC Records.  Lawsuit after lawsuit wore Flo down over time, and she started drinking heavily, and she eventually wound up on welfare with three kids to support.  She died of a heart attack in February, 1976 at age 32—done way too soon.  She deserved a whole lot better, too…

Another fairly young sports venue is biting the dust this summer, Reunion Arena in Dallas.  Prior to Reunion’s opening in 1980, Big D never really had a full-size indoor sports facility, instead relying on smaller venues like Moody Coliseum and Memorial Auditorium and Fort Worth’s Tarrant County Convention Center Arena for hockey, basketball and concerts.  Located right next door to Reunion Tower, the arena saw the debut of the NBA’s expansion Dallas Mavericks in ’80 and the NHL’s Minnesota North Stars moved there in 1992 to become the just plain “Stars”.  Indoor soccer was a hit there as well, with Tatu and the Dallas Sidekicks holding court at Reunion during the late ‘80s/early ‘90s.  In June of 2000, my boys the New Jersey Devils won their second Stanley Cup there in Game 6 over the Stars on Jason Arnott’s game-winning goal in OT.  Ironically, Arnott later went on to play for Dallas.  A couple months after that, I saw The Who play an outstanding show at Reunion on a hot August night, in what turned out to be the last time I got to see the late John Entwistle perform live in concert.  I was very impressed with the building that night as well—very clean concourses, great sight lines and comfortable seats.

Alas, Reunion Arena suffered from that common malady shared by other ’80s arenas before it like the already-demolished Charlotte Coliseum and Miami Arena—lack of luxury suites for the corporate fat cats to feed their faces in.  Although it did host concerts and rodeos and serve as the home of the Big 12 Women’s basketball tournaments in recent years, RA’s days became numbered when the fancy American Airlines Arena with all its bells and whistles (and Mark Cuban) took over as the major indoor sports venue in Dallas.  They took a rather unique approach in demolishing Reunion by tearing everything out but the roof, saving it for last.  Brilliant strategy, when you think about it—the wrecking crew no doubt needed as much shade from the searing Texas sun as they could get.  And given the “Everything’s bigger in Texas” credo, I say leave the roof up and create the world’s largest carport!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I got my answer--sadly...

While I still have mixed opinions about Facebook and whether or not I'm staying on it for the long haul, one very cool thing about it is I've been able to re-connect with a couple of my old radio buddies from 20 years ago.  Over the weekend, I asked one of them if he had heard from my man "Easy" Earl Harris, whom I'd lost track of about ten years ago.  Well, out of the clear blue sky, today I received a note from one of Earl's daughters in response to the blog post I did about Earl a couple years ago.  It actually helps to read Great Moments In Radio, Vol. V first before continuing on here.

Anyway, she wrote: "Mr. Holland, I wanted to respond to your Great Moments in Radio, Vol. V.  My name is Tija Jackson and I am the oldest daughter of Earl Harris.  I moved my father here with me in Kentucky several years ago to pursue his radio career.  He was very successful here on the Gospel, R&B and Hip Hop stations as Easy Earl and Brother Earl.  About 3 years ago my father had a stroke and it caused him to lose most of his memory as well as his Barry White voice.  In fact he had to learn how to speak all over again.  Although he has retained some memory and his voice, he has (in his words), "Lost my music".  It is so sad because music was his motivation and now he is just going through the motions, pretty much giving up on everything.  So when I read your article to my father he remembered the Prince of Darkness and I actually saw some light in his eyes.  He made me print a copy of this article so he can have it, he doesn't comprehend what he reads so he has me read to him.  This may be his bedtime story for some time now.  So Thank You, for Remembering my father."

Wow, what can I say?  It sickens me to hear what Earl has been through.  He got his nickname for a reason—he's one of the most easy-going people you'll ever meet, and even when life would knock him down, he'd dust himself off, get back up smiling and get back in the race.  It certainly blows my mind that my words somehow might be giving him a lift now.  I've often questioned (and been questioned) why I spend/waste so much time doing this blog.  I confess total self-indulgence on my part, but if it's helping an old friend even one iota in his time of need, then it's been totally worth it.

Thanks so much, Tija, for your note, and I appreciate your taking the time to write and give me an update on your father.  Earl, my friend, I miss you and hope there are better days ahead in your life—you're too good a man to be down for long.  Whenever I hear the word "patio" I think of you and your mighty "KKJO Patio".  I still have the Captain Comet ballcap you had made for me back in the day too.  Hang in there, my man, and keep getting better.  Long live the Prince of Darkness and the KKJO Patio!

Your friend,
Captain Comet