Video killed the radio star

1 08 2011

On August 1, 1981 Music Television (cable network) launched with John Lack’s announcement “Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll” followed by the famous theme song (a hard rockin’ guitar riff by Jonathan Elias and John Peterson) and equally famous scene of the Apollo 11</a> moon landing boasting astronaut (Neil Armstrong) pushing an American flag into the moon below his feet, of course for the hip theme it was an MTV flag.

It was the beginning of a new era in music.  VJ’s (video jockeys) were the answer to radio’s DJ’s (disc jockeys).  Five young, unique, fresh faces were hired to fill these shoes.  A different world than what the radio generation was used to.  The original VJ’s were; Martha Quinn – your cute and spunky punk rock girl, Alan Hunter –  the clean cut, hip blonde male, Mark Goodman – a hunky, suave, dark haired male, with the hot rockin’ blonde Nina Blackwood and J.J. Jackson, the most experienced member of the group, always smiling and probably the most talented host.

The original format offered something new and different to music fans, the music video.  A music video is basically a short film created to accompany a song mainly for the purpose of marketing.  Although music videos were actually in existence prior to the debut of MTV, they were far and few between.  Prior to MTV, these videos were considered promotional videos that artists used to generate interest among producers, record companies and on rare occasions to promote new records to fans.  These promotional videos somewhat paled in comparison to what followed after the birth of MTV and were rarely shown on television.  Videos on MTV required much more than a simple live act, they needed to be a short film that would cultivate more interest among fans.  For this, a wide range of styles in filming technique had to be exercised including animation, live action film, and basically storytelling within abstract films.  This heightened the competition in the music industry because not only did your music have to sell itself, but you’d best have a good video to back it up.  In fact, often the popularity of the video outshined the music itself but still enabled the song to be a best seller.  Because visibility was used as a promotional tool in the record industry, the network was criticized for devaluing the importance of music by replacing quality with pure visual entertainment.  Ironically, the first video to debut on MTV that early August morning was “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles.  It was their only real hit, but rather historical and revealing as the song was written about the end of an era; telling of the golden days of radio ruined by television. (included in video above.)

Since it’s premier, MTV has made an intense and long lasting impact on the music, entertainment and media industries.  Slogans such as “I want my MTV” became etched in the minds of the 80’s pop culture generation and remained throughout.  MTV has also been referenced countless times in song lyrics, movies, books, and shows on other television stations.  One of the best known music references to MTV is  Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing” as the lyrics mock how the working man struggles to survive but the “yo-yos” on MTV “ain’t workin’” and are getting “Money for nothin’ and chicks for free.” Ironically, the video for this song became one of the most popular videos shown on the channel at that time.

The moral influence of MTV on young people has been debated throughout it’s existence. Parents Television Council (an American interest group formed to inform parents of television programming that is both beneficial and harmful to children) claims the network is a bad influence on it’s targeted audience.  The American Family Association (a non-profit organization that promotes conservative Christian values) has also criticized MTV for it’s negative moral influence.  In the 80’s the parent-media watchdog group, Parents Music Resource Center, fought MTV over certain music videos that were claimed to have explicit imagery of Satanism.  On the other side of these debates, the network was also under fire for being too politically correct and censoring too much of their programming.

Against all odds, MTV prevailed and in it’s early days was a catalyst to stardom for a large number of artists in the 80’s such as; Duran Duran, Def Leppard, Madonna, Culture Club, Mötley Crüe, Cydni Lauper, Adam Ant and countless other 80’s icons. MTV also played some famous classic rock acts heavily, placing them on a new plateau of popularity by reaching a wider spectrum such as; David Bowie, Journey, Genisis, Fleetwood Mac, Heart, Van Halen, ZZ Top and many more.

In it’s early years on air, MTV featured very few black artists in rotation.  Many black artist’s videos were rejected because they didn’t fit the rock dominated format at the time. During the uproar of black artists and other supporters of the fight to break the color barrier on MTV, Michael Jackson was among those artists denied airplay on the network.  In an effort to pressure the network to re-think the format, the president of CBS records made a strong statement by threatening to remove the network’s ability to play any videos by artists under the CBS label.  MTV claims they chose to add Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” video without being pressured, while CBS claims otherwise.  Regardless, “Billie Jean” seemed to be the video that broke the color barrier but is also claimed to be the video that brought the network out of struggle and into major popularity.  Jackson’s videos from the multi-platinum “Thriller” album (including “Billie Jean”) were credited for the mega success of MTV, thus causing the network to change the format to add R&B music.  This change also helped other black artists such as Prince and Whitney Houston enter the music revolution.

MTV is credited for turning music videos into both an art form and a marketing machine that became beneficial to artists.  Over time, MTV added several genres to the format and somewhat even created those genres such as alternative rock. Today, however, the general public seems to be disappointed with the ironic lack of music videos played on MTV.  While the original MTV network still broadcasts 24 hours a day, the actual showing of videos has (over time) dwindled to a maximum of only 3 hours per day.  The rest of the air time focuses on a completely different format, currently a large amount of reality shows and news programs about entertainment and politics.  However, today the network owns several sister channels that do broadcast more music videos though all pale in comparison to the original days of Music Television.  And to this, I say … I WANT MY MTV!!!

To see more of the early days of MTV, click here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LATTM7DkvWo
because TOO MUCH IS NEVER ENOUGH!!!

ABOUT THE ARTISTS MENTIONED IN THIS BLOG:

The Buggles:
An English New Wave band with only 2 studio albums and one hit single, “Video Killed the Radio Star”.  Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Buggles

Dire Straits:
British rock band active between 1977-1995 known for hits including “Sultans of Swing”, “Money for Nothing”, “Walk of Life” and “So Far Away”.  This band boasts one of the greatest yet most underrated guitar players in rock history, Mark Knopfler.  They’ve had 6 studio albums, all of which are very good.  Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dire_straits

Duran Duran:
An iconic 80’s new wave band from England who dominated the early days of MTV and were widely known as the “pretty boys of rock”.  They are still very popular today and have released 13 studio albums so far during their career with numerous top 40 hits.  In my opinion, this band represents the epitome of MTV in the 80’s.  Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duran_duran

Def Leppard:
Though their sound is mild by comparison today, Def Leppard was considered a British hard rock band when they crashed the scene on MTV and won the popularity contest with hits like “Photograph”, “Bringing on the Heartbreak”, “Pour Some Sugar on Me”, and “Hysteria”.  Like Duran Duran, this band also has the gift of longevity and is still popular despite their rough history which includes the death of 2 guitar players and a crippling auto accident leaving their drummer with one arm.  They have 11 studio albums and also numerous top 40 hits.  Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Def_Leppard

Madonna:
Perhaps no star from MTV’s golden era knows more about longevity than Madonna.  This All-American 52 year old sex goddess still holds the throne of top rock diva for many reasons.  While her image is ever changing with the times, her music has been and remains hip, happening and chart topping.  She has a remarkable legacy not only in music but in film and entertainment in general.  She also has 11 studio albums and countless top 40 hits.  Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madonna_%28entertainer%29

Culture Club:
The band Culture Club had one of the most controversial front men in music history, Boy George.  Another British new wave band to parade onto MTV and steal the hearts of many viewers, Culture Club had several popular dance hits including “Do Your Really Want to Hurt Me?”, “Time Clock of the Heart”, “Karma Chameleon”, and “Miss Me Blind”.  Though the band is no longer together, the music still remains popular and is featured in many films and documentaries based in the decade of decadence known as the 80’s.  In more recent years, Boy George has made the news in a negative light and has even dealt with criminal charges and remains recluse.  But, in their better days, the band 5 studio albums – 3 of which were big sellers.

Mötley Crüe:
Reminiscent of the glory days of Alice Cooper, the New York Dolls or Kiss this band brought back the theatrics of flashy rock music and they added a sound heavier than most on the market at this time.  Mötley Crüe were the true pioneers of what is labeled today as “hair metal” or “glam rock”, but in the 80’s this was considered a rather hard core sound and scene.  They were one of many up and coming metal bands from the Sunset Strip of L.A., California.  Still widely known and popular, they’ve sold nearly 100 million albums worldwide.  If any metal band has a colorful past it’s these guys.  They’re notorious for  bad behavior, bad reputations and just all around bad-ass-ness! Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C3%B6tley_Cr%C3%BCe

Cyndi Lauper:
Though she wasn’t quite Madonna’s nemesis and the two artists were very different, the uniqueness and charm of Cyndi Lauper made her tough competition … especially since she happens to be incredibly talented as well.  This American icon quickly rose to fame with her aptly titled debut album “She’s So Unusual” that including chart topping hits like “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and “Time after Time”.  She has always been a stand out artist among her peers and still tours for sold out audiences today.  Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyndi_Lauper

Adam Ant:
This British pretty boy’s career originally began with Adam and the Ants and later he went solo as Adam Ant.  A real heart throb for all the ladies during the 80’s, he seemed to bring a steamy sexuality to the small screen with his well known hit videos for “Goody Two Shoes” and “Strip”.  He was once voted the sexiest man in America by the MTV viewing audience.  Unfortunately, similar to Boy George, his almost come-back was shattered with criminal charges for bad behavior that landed him in a psychiatric hospital.  Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam_Ant

David Bowie:
It would be impossible to sum up this brilliant artist in a few sentences and I’m not even going to try! Bowie is best known for his work in the 70’s, but his hit making career spans from the late 60’s to current works.  He has released 24 studio albums, all of which are a must have for any avid music fan.  During MTV’s high point, Bowie released the album “Let’s Dance” which included popular videos for “Modern Love”, “China Girl”, and the title track “Let’s Dance”.  To learn more (and I suggest you do) click here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Bowie

Journey:
Journey boasted one of the most iconic lead vocalists ever to grace rock music, Steve Perry.  Though this All-American rock band debuted in the mid-70’s, the 80’s was their time to shine.  Their catalog of music is a catalog of top 40 hits and I struggle to think of a song they recorded in the 80’s that wasn’t a chart topper … I don’t think it exists.  While they didn’t share the theatrics and style of video making that many of their competitors did during the 80’s, they won audiences over with classic simple videos that displayed their talent lyrically, musically and vocally.  This band is always imitated and never duplicated.  In 1998 Perry left the band with no rumors of a reunion since and, though Journey still tours with numerous replacement singers, without Perry things have never been the same.  Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Journey_%28band%29

Genisis:
Genisis formed in the late 60’s with Peter Gabriel as their lead singer.  And, much like Bowie, it would be hard to sum this band up in a few sentences.  But, in the 80’s they became famous with  Phil Collins as their lead singer as well as drummer.  Though they were considered progressive rock in their earlier days, during the 80’s I think they would be best described as controversial in some ways with their political lyrics and thought provoking music.  However, they were also know for some meaningful love songs.  Collins brought them into the mainstream and to the peak of their popularity, but left the band for an equally popular solo career in the mid 80’s which kept him as a familiar face on MTV.  Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genisis_%28band%29

Fleetwood Mac:
Like Genisis or Bowie, attempting to summarize the history of Fleetwood Mac is nearly impossible.  This was, however more of a 70’s band than 80’s though MTV did help keep their career in tact with a few hits like “Little Lies” and “Big Love”.  The band seemed to have a revolving door with members and their romances which included Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham who seemed to be more popular in the days of MTV with their solo works.  But, never the less, Fleetwood Mac is historically one of the best known bands in rock history with top selling albums and singles decade after decade and are touring today with all of the original band members… well, the 2nd wave original band members anyway.  Yeah, there’s no way to sum this history up so just learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fleetwood_Mac

Heart:
This great band went through 2 major phases of popularity, or you could say it didn’t end.  In the 70’s they were a pleasant surprise or alternative to mainstream rock music because they were a sister power duo with the phenomenal lead vocals of Ann Wilson and the sultry lead guitar of Nancy Wilson.  In the 80’s they gained popularity on MTV with power ballads and videos showcasing their sex appeal such as “What about Love”, “These Dreams”, “Alone”, and “Nothing at All”.  But, most people will remember their iconic hits from the 70’s like “Barracuda”, “Magic Man”, and “Crazy on You”.  However, nobody was complaining about being able to see this vixens in video! They’re still popular and still touring… and their still kicking ass, take it from me cause I just saw them live a couple of months ago and was left feeling satisfied yet longing for more! Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heart_%28band%29

Van Halen:
I have to laugh because probably the main reason I can’t sum up this band in just a few sentences is because they are unequivically one of my all time favorite bands.  My opinions would be biased here and perhaps unfair to the reader… but here goes…
Van Halen has had 3 lead singers over the last 3 decades, but in my opinion only one that matters … the iconic and unmatched David Lee Roth (who recently reunited with the band and they are touring and doing a fantastic job!).  So, I have to warn you that I will  only be referring to the David Lee Roth era (even thought he Sammy Hagar era was very popular as well).  Van Halen burst into rock music fame in the late 70’s with their multi platinum self titled album that included the unforgettable hits “Running with the Devil” and “You Really Got Me”.   Now, I could comb over their entire history in fine detail here, but I’ll just cover the 80’s MTV era of popularity for Van Halen which is the height of their career.
“1984” was the album of the 80’s.  Everybody who’s anybody had that album! While this album brought the band ultimate success with chart topping hits such as “Hot for Teacher”, “Panama”, “I’ll Wait” and “Jump” it also brought the demise of the David Lee Roth era as egos began to outshine the talent and caused band members, namely David and namesake/lead guitarist Eddie Van Halen to butt heads until David left to persue a solo career which also brought him much fame in the 80’s/MTV era. Anyway, you can learn more from me personally (lol) or click here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Van_Halen

ZZ Top:
Was well known for their classic videos of the 80’s, even though they were a very popular 70’s band.  ZZ Top videos told a story, and because they were so downright cool the songs behind them became wildly popular such as “Legs”, “Sharp Dressed Man” and “Gimmie All Your Lovin”.  This Texas Based Southern Rock band has a bluesy rock sound backed by legendary musicians Billy Gibbens, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard.  Though MTV may have given this band commercial success, ZZ Top had been a success for many years before and has remained a success to this day.  Unfortunately, time has not been kind to the band and even though they still have music in their hearts Billy Gibbens’ health issues has crippled touring and any new projects.  Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zz_top

Michael Jackson:
In all seriousness, I’m sure I haven’t had to define who any of these artists are in this blog but at the very least I know I don’t have to explain Michael Jackson.  He is, after all, “The King of Pop” and one of the most well known artists in the history of music… ever… only to compete with Elvis Presley or the Beatles, but in all seriousness… probably more known.  I have to say I feel it would be a waste of my time to try to summarize his career or life at all in this blog or anywhere else.  There are countless movies, documentaries, news articles and so fourth about him and he is particularly in the current news as the world mourns the anniversary of this death one year ago this week.  I doubt I even need to offer you a link to learn more about him, but here it is anyway: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Jackson

Prince:
In my opinion, no truer an artist (musically) by definition than this man.  He can and will do anything… anything… and do it amazingly well.  He writes, composes, plays every instrument, acts, and just downright shines at everything he even attempts! He spews sex appeal, emotion and passion in all of his works.  He’s controversial, political, and phenomenal at all times.  His career began in the 70’s and was an underground success that overtook the 80’s with steamy videos and unforgettable movies of his own as well as his work with other artists (song writing, record producing…etc…).  A real genius in my opinion and yet another artist I couldn’t possibly summarize.  Prince manipulates multiple genres of music including rock and R&B (an incredible feat).  Some of his more notable MTV era hits are “1999”, “Little Red Corvette”, “Purple Rain” and “When Doves Cry”.  But, really, summarizing Prince just does him and you a real injustice so please, learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince_%28musician%29

Whitney Houston:
Actress, model and notable performer, Whitney Houston had a million dollar act the moment she danced onto the small screen with her first hit “How Will I Know”.  America fell in love with this knock out vocalist who had all the elements missing from the 80’s female R&B scene.  Once MTV got a hold of her, there was no turning back on one of the most notable careers any female artist could ever hope for.  She seemed to be a hit making machine and as her career grew she also dominated the big screen.  Recognized as one of the best known divas in music history, Whitney became a multi-millionaire almost overnight with hit after hit, but behind the scenes she led a very troubled life that would end up crippling her career and today she struggles to make a comeback.  However, she still has the talent so I suspect that once she gets her act together she can have a very strong return to the industry.  Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whitney_Houston

Who do you remember most from the MTV era? Did you love it or hate it? What are your thoughts on this topic? What do you think of MTV today?

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karma in a brown paper bag

4 07 2011

I blog here & on myspace as many folks know.  I told myself I would use this new blog location for fun blogs, fiction, funny stories and such and try not to get political here or write my editorials here like I do over there.  Of course, recently, with this disasterous oil volcano spewing into the Gulf of Mexico I couldn’t help but write about it here, there and everywhere in an attempt to spread the word.  But, in these dark days even though I know it is important to spread the word I also know that sometimes we need a good laugh.  I certainly know I do because lately this situation has put my in a somewhat depressive state and I need a little escape.  That being said, most of my readers know I love to post funny stories from my past that usually poke fun at moi but are always good for a laugh.  This one is no exception, so please enjoy a tale that I call…

Karma in a brown paper bag

TJ & I were walking home from school one day in the fall of ‘87.  It was about a 3 mile walk for us and we lived a street apart.  We weren’t the best or worst of friends, just 2 kids who lived near each other and would sometimes walk together.  We were both sophomores, had a couple of classes together, no big deal.

All the cool kids were passing us by in their cars, playing loud music and being cooler than us.  We would shrug our shoulders and keep on truckin’.  Just another day in the life of the underclassmen (or women in my case).

For some weird reason, a brown paper bag in the ditch caught my eye.
“I wonder what’s in it?” I pointed it out to TJ.
“Who cares?” He replied.
But something drove me to it.  I don’t know why, but I just had to look inside.  Annoyed, TJ waited for me to check the bag.
“Holy shit!” I gasped when I looked inside.
“What is it?” Suddenly he was interested.
“You won’t believe it!” I exclaimed as he joined me to peer into the bag.
“Hooooollllllllly shit!” He smiled wide. “Hurry up, let’s get outta here!”

We quickly stuffed our treasure into his book bag and rushed to his house, beaming!

Fortunately, TJ was a latch-key-kid … for those of you who remember that old 80’s term.  A kid who’s parents were still at work when he’d get home from school.  So, there we sat, just the two of us, at his kitchen table … pouring the contents of the brown paper bag onto the table.

“Unbelievable!” He gasped.
There sat before us, a gallon sized ziplock bag stuffed with marijuana, rolling papers, 2 cassettes and a scale.  I jumped for the cassettes, one was Ratt’s “Invasion of your Privacy” and the other was AC/DC’s “Back in Black”. 
“Cool!” I exclaimed.  “I’ll take the Ratt!”
“That’s good, I wanted the AC/DC,” He said.  “But, what are we gonna do with the rest of it?”
“Let’s split it up!” I said, logically.
“And then?” He asked.
“And then we do whatever we want with it,” I said.  “But we don’t tell anyone where we found it.”

Yeah, I you had to think someone was looking for that shit! I mean, that was a hellova lot of pot, right???

“All right,” TJ said.  “Deal!”
So, we shook on it and began splitting it up.

Now, at this stage in our lives … TJ and I were not all that familiar with pot.  I mean, sure, as you know from my previously mentioned blog I’d tried it a lil’ bit … but I wasn’t the type of person who needed at least a half a’ pound of marijuana on hand, so there was no way I was interested in keeping my half.  I saw it as a career opportunity … but it was far more than that …

Nothing brings popularity faster than being the gal with all the killer weed.
Suddenly, hot senior boys were carrying my books to class for me, sitting with me at lunch and being my friends.  Yep, that’s right, dorky little Susan was suddenly the most popular chick in school … if only till it was sold out … at least, for a moment, everyone was abuzz about my fame among the famous.

So there I was, high rolling in the dough and being doted on by hot senior dudes … ahh, it was the life … at least for a couple of months anyway.

But, alas, in the end … all that was left was a Ratt tape and a few bucks once the well ran dry.  I still have no idea what TJ did with his half.  I still have no idea who was probably looking for that great, lost bag of weed, but I did often wonder … would they ever get back at me if they found out I sold all their goods and was rocking out to their Ratt? Hmmmm…

So, there we were, about one year later … my good friend Sherrie and I, once again walking home from school along the same ol’ path that TJ and I walked.  She knew the infamous story about the brown paper bag and the glory days it brought to me, so when we stumbled upon yet another brown paper bag in a ditch yet again she encouraged me to check it out.  It didn’t take much encouragement as I had been so lucky in the past, I couldn’t resist wondering if lightening would truly strike twice.

As I eagerly and hopefully opened the back, she watched to make sure no one was spying.
“Ahhhhhhh!” I screamed and quickly threw the bag down and began to run.
She ran with me.
“My God!” She exclaimed.  “What the hell was in the bag??”
“It was a dead half rat!” I explained.
She stopped cold in her tracks. “Do what?”
“A dead half rat,” I said.  “A rat, bloody and cut in half.”
“Bullshit!” She argued.  “Who the hell would cut a rat in half and throw it in a bag on side of the road?”
“I have no idea!” I said.  “But it was the rear end, all bloody and with his tail and stuff… it was awful!”
“That doesn’t make sense!” She argued …

And we argued for about a half a mile when finally we bet on it and we had to turn around so she could see for herself.
“You’re going to be sorry,” I warned her as she opened the bag.
I closed my eyes, waiting for her shrill …
waiting…
waiting…
And suddenly, she burst into wild laughter.
I opened my eyes and peered over at her as tears rolled down her cheeks.
“A dead half rat, huh?” she choked between laughs.
“You think it’s funny?!?” I was stunned.
“It’s a used tampon, you dumb ass!” She replied … and continued to laugh all the way home…

And so there it was … my karma in a brown paper bag.  I guess lightening doesn’t strike twice, but the first strike was good while it lasted and the dead half rat became equally as famous around the school as I was picked on for ages about that little discovery.

Weird and interesting facts for your amusement

The current street value of what I found is estimated at around $800, back then it was probably valued at half that price.  Want to know the current street value of marijuana in your state? Visit http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Street_price_of_weed

The ancient Egyptians invented the first disposable tampons made from softened papyrus. The ancient Greeks created tampons made from lint wrapped around a small piece of wood, recorded in writing by Hippocrates in the fifth century B.C. (Ouch!!) Want to test your tampon knowledge? Visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tampon

Paper bags are eco-friendly, easy to recycle, and have many uses.

Want to make a piniata like this one? This pinata is made using a paper bag, tissue paper, glue, and a few other supplies you might already have laying around your house.  All you need to make this is; candy, small toys or whatever you want to stuff it with (even $800 worth of weed will work if you’re having that kinda party!), newspaper, colored tissue paper, string or yarn, glue, scissors and a hole puncher.  (See, I bet you already have all that lying around the house, don’t you?) Start out by opening your bag and setting it on your work surface. Put the candy and/or small toys into the bag. You do not want your bag to be more than half way full or it will be too heavy to hang! Now, fill the rest of the bag, stopping about 2-inches from the top, using scrunched up newspaper. Once you have your pinata filled, pinch the top of the bag together and roll it down 2 or 3 times. Staple it shut. Cover the bottom of your filled paper bag with a piece of tissue paper. Set your bag on a piece of tissue paper and cut the tissue paper so it is about 2-inches larger than the bottom of the paper bag all the way around. Glue the edges of the tissue paper up around the bottom of the paper bag. Handle the corners as if you’re wrapping a present. Now cut several strips of tissue paper long enough to completely fit around your bag and about 4- 6-inches wide depending on size of bag. You will need about 5 strips (this may vary by bag size). Use your scissors to cut fringe along a long edge of all of your tissue paper strips. The fringe should go about half way up your tissue paper strip. The fringe should be cut about 1-inch apart. Start near the bottom of the bag, just above the piece of tissue paper you glued onto the bottom of the bag, and place a bead of glue around the bag. Stick your first piece of fringed tissue paper, fringed edge down, onto the glue. This should hang over the bottom tissue paper and slightly overhang the bottom edge of the bag. Stick another strip onto the bag, hanging about halfway over the first strip. Continue this until your entire bag is covered by fringed tissue paper. Punch two holes along the top, folded edge of the paper bag. Cut a piece of yarn or string a few yeards long. Thread one end of the piece of yarn or string through one hole, pull it across the top edge of the bag, and then back through the other hole. Tie it using a few overhand knots so it will not come apart when you hang it. Cut several strips of tissue paper, about 1-inch thick and 6-inches long. Glue them to the bottom of the pinata. Voila! You’ve got a homemade pinata! For more crafty ideas using paper bags, visit http://familycrafts.about.com/od/paperbagcrafts/tp/PaperBagCrafts.htm





David Lee, are you talking to me?

11 01 2011

I will try to make a very long story short here, but I’m afraid I will have to begin this story in 1978 for you to grasp the depth of the miraculousness of it all.  So, here goes …

At the tender age of 6 I became a rocker.  I was a tom boy and not overly interested in girly things, but steadily forced into dresses and pig tails by my mom.  I was interested in finding myself at a very early age and uninterested in popularity or any of that mess.  I wanted to be tough, even though I was tiny.

I was raised in a very strict, Italian, Catholic home.  I had a stay-at-home mother and hard working father.  Anyway, I’m supposed to make this short so I’ll cut the details and get to one of the main household rules I liked to break … That was touching the parents’ stereo.  It was one of those old school big chests that had a record player and an ever-so-modern 8 track player.  Though children were not allowed to touch it, whenever the parents were away my two older siblings paid me no mind as they were teenagers doing their own thing so I would sneak to that amazing chest and put the giant headphones on, turning the knobs until I discovered something I thought sounded cool.  And then it happened … I was forever changed … by this sound:  It was like nothing I’d ever heard before.  It was raw, tough, heavy and completely different than what anyone I knew anywhere was listening to.  It rocked! I was instantly changed forever … and forever after I was a rocker chick! Full throttle ahead I began saving my allowance until I could purchase my first Van Halen record.  In other words, loose change from my grandfather to buy candy on a daily basis was saved as I fasted from my candy fix for about one year until my parents finally agreed to take me to the Sound Shop in the mall to buy Van Halen I.  Low and behold, Van Halen II had already been released and I didn’t even realize that I would have to decide between two albums.

By this time I was 7, and had not seen the band but only listened to them on the radio whenever I could.  When I laid my eyes on the lifesize, cardboard display of David Lee Roth splitting in spandex pants seductively over the Van Halen section I lost it … I really lost it … I jumped up and grabbed hold of it and had to have it, even if it cost my every last dime … literally.  My parents had to peel me off of it, begging the clerks to sell it to them to no avail.  I was in tantrum mode, but still left with Van Halen I in my possession.

Flash forward to 1984, to a 6th grade girl wearing holy jeans and Van Halen T-shirts to school daily and singing praises of their latest album.  A girl who had “I love David Lee Roth”  and  sketches of the Van Halen symbol sketched on every book cover.  A girl in love … with an untouchable rock icon.  Yes, that girl was me, of course.  Scrawny, late blooming, overlooked rocker chick Susan. I guess I really didn’t even notice that I was the ugly duckling, because I was still in that frame of mind that I wanted to be tough and completely un-girly! My world revolved around Van Halen mostly and other rock bands that were coming out at the time …  Bands that Van Halen opened the door for with their unique rock style. (Later, these would be known as hair bands)

It wasn’t until high school that I realized I was still late to blooming and unwanted.  Yeah, when all my guy friends I used to rock out with in Junior High no longer wanted to be seen with me because they were busy with the girly girls who had boobs and such.   Van Halen had crumbled after their biggest selling album, 1984, and my life seemed to be painfully crumbling too… I was holding on to dreams … dreams that I believed would never come true.  Dreams of being desirable to guys, and still dreaming even deeper of being desirable to rock stars.  But still, my life long dream was to someday be able to meet David Lee Roth … perhaps even cling to him the way I did that cardboard cut out of him at the record store so many years before…

I graduated in 1990 and still hadn’t blossomed.  Still fought for the attention of guys unsuccessfully and still prayed for Van Halen to reunite with David Lee Roth.  It seemed that none of my dreams would ever come true, but that summer things changed dramatically.  After an 18 year battle with a complicated illness (that’s a whole other blog I’ll write someday) I got the medical attention I needed and was on the path to healing.  With that healing came my late puberty.  With my late puberty came the swan from the ugly duckling … and with that swanlike existence came all the attention from the opposite sex I could’ve ever wanted.

It was a brand new world to me.  I didn’t know how to handle it.  Fortunately, early in my days of glory I settled down with a great guy for many years.  He too was a swan from ugly duckling, so we made a perfect match. But, sadly, all good things must come to an end and we broke up because he needed to “find himself” and I was left alone in a sea of sharks, who all wanted to take a bite of me the moment I was cast back out to sea.  And bite they did.  They shredded me up.  One bad relationship begot another, or so it seemed, and heartache relentlessly plagued me for years.  I had come to the realization that if it wasn’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.  And once again, I found myself dreaming of what would never be … my rock stars whom were always my secret lovers and best friends for all of my years, who never let me down … even though the days of hair band glory were long forgotten.

And then came the millennium.  Which really pleased me because the 90’s were a gloomy and dark time for me, so I had a lot of hope that the new century would bless me … and so it did … in ways I never believed it would.

Hair bands were coming back into popularity for some strange reason, and I was on top of my game.  I wasn’t the ugly duckling who wasn’t old enough to go to their concerts, I was the perfect age at the perfect time to see everyone I ever loved live and usually in perfect settings such as small venues because they weren’t top dollar bands any more as far as the industry was concerned, but to me they were some of the most awesome musicians ever.  But, that wasn’t the most amazing part … you see the most amazing part was time and time again these rock icons who were monumentous in my life history were choosing me to go backstage and party with them.  Little ol’ Susan among tons of busty, Playboy bunny types surrounding me … they would point me out and invite me over and over.  I was never happier in all of my years.  So many times I would go home and wish that I could travel back in time to tell that crying teenage girl or that broken hearted young lady; “Someday, Susan, your dreams will come true…”

And then it happened … headline news … David Lee Roth was coming to my area.  I was frantic just reading it.  After this long spell of meeting rockers, would he be on my list? The ultimate rocker? The love of my life? Would I truly get to meet him? I was doubtful. He was like a King, like a God, the greatest front man of all time … a total legend.  Nah, I wouldn’t get to meet him because he would be surrounded by an entourage and be totally untouchable … but still, I had to go see him as I had only waited my whole life to be in his presence … seriously, my whole life!!!!

The day of the show, my best friend (of over 20 years!), Melanie, and I booked a room to stay overnight at the casino Dave was to perform at.  We spent the day laying out at the pool as she consistently tried to calm me, knowing that I was extremely and overly excited about the pending show.  Many drinks and hours of relaxation to no avail, I was still anxious in a childlike state reminiscent of that day I went to the Sound Shop 25 years prior! Moments before we left to the show, I went into the bathroom privately and kneeled on the floor and literally I prayed to God to watch over me because I knew that my life has sent me in a direction in which I would meet such celebrities and I would need a guardian angel to keep me in check if I had the opportunity to meet David Lee Roth!!!  Melanie was truly concerned for my well being as she was well aware of my immeasurable infatuation with Dave.

And so, there we were, third row from David Lee Roth … singing his heart out and twisting my heart with his every scream, his every acrobatic move, his every breath … tears streaming down my cheeks as I thought I would never be so blessed as to be so near to this man I had longed to see for 25 long years!!!  Well, I guess Dave could see my beaming adoration because he pointed at me and motioned for me to approach the stage.  I was frozen and people around me had to thrust me toward him for me to realize that YES… Dave was, in fact, motioning to ME! I thought my heart would beat out my chest.  I stood at the edge of the stage as he sang a couple of songs to me, gazing into my adoring eyes.  Time stood still, I was a six year old, a sexually confused teen and an adoring woman all at once!  Dave fed into it, of course, and couldn’t resist teasing me from the stage.

As the show came to a close, he grabbed my face forcefully in his hand … squeezing my cheeks and I thought this was the peek of my existence.  Then, he pointed at me and suddenly security grabbed me and began pulling me away! I was dazed and confused as if I was on some strange drug.  I grabbed Melanie, my last source of reality, and we were yanked behind the stage.

“Dave would like to see you, alone!” The security guard said.
I was speechless.
“She can’t go alone,” Melanie heroically said. (Thank Goodness!)

Moments later … there he was … across the room … smiling … DAVID F***ING LEE ROTH!!!!!!

And I just stood there … frozen … crying … spastic!

He motioned for me to come to him.  I pointed at myself, confused, and asked “ME?”
“Yes, you!” He laughed.

Slowly I walked to him, Melanie in tow.

“So, did you enjoy the show?” He asked.
I burst into tears.
“She loved it,” Melanie laughed.  “Trust me!”
“Can I… Can I hug you?” I muttered as I gazed at my dream come true.
“Absolutely!” He smiled.
I threw my arms around him and the tears began to flow. “I’ve waited my whole life for this moment!” I exclaimed.
He ate it up.  He loved it!

So, we ended up on the illustrious tour bus of David Lee Roth! Inside was all black leather and dim lighting as if we were in a lounge.  I was seating on a leather horse shoe shaped couch when Dave slid up very close beside me and wrapped his larger than life arms around me and began to whisper in my ear about how adorable I was in a voice I had only previously known through music.  A raspy, sexy, melodious, rock God voice much like the spoken part of “Panama” …. (skip to 2:50 on the video below to see what I mean)

Needless to say, his constant praises of me were making me very dizzy and fumbling foolishly over my words as Melanie consistently reminded him that he was fucking with my head and that he had no idea of the effects this entire event was having on me.  It’s very VERY good that she was there with me the whole time.  He persisted to whisper sweet nothings in my ear as Melanie quizzed him about his musical career and such and I was persistently fumbling.  Finally after a few glasses of Merlot and sharing a smoke with him, I gathered my composure and was able to somewhat loosen up … though he remained consistent with the sweet nothings.

Otherwise,  he spoke in rhythm and rhyme with great flamboyance! He was fun, gracious and very entertaining.  One of the funniest parts was;  when we first got on the bus he shook his rear end, squeezed into leather pants, in my face and said “How do you like my ass?” Hysterical, right? But anyway, as I said before … it was indeed very good that my best friend was there as my guardian because I have no idea what could have happened to me in my dazed state of hysteria without her protection!

And after all was said and done, I looked back and thought … once again … of the little girl in the record store clinging to a cardboard Dave, and to the lonely teen who kissed his posters goodnight.  It still makes me smile that the one thing I wanted so badly for all of my years … the one thing I never dreamed possible actually did happen … TO ME!!!

David Lee Roth is an American rock vocalist, songwriter and author among other notable careers.  Though he is best known as the original lead singer for Van Halen, he also has a popular career as a solo artist.  Roth exited Van Halen after their highest grossing album, 1984, topped the charts.  Conflict within the band’s egos led them to go separate ways.  Roth’s solo career offered several platinum and gold albums while Van Halen had continued success with a different sound and a new lead vocalist.  Without Van Halen, the band and brand he helped bring to superstardom, his solo career eventually stalled, and he went on to explore other career alternatives. Sometimes referred to as Diamond Dave, he rejoined Van Halen in 2007 (much to the joy of the band’s fanbase) for a North American tour that became the highest grossing tour in the band’s history. David Lee Roth is referred to in many (rock) media outlets as the greatest heavy metal singer of all time.  His powerful and unique vocals changed the face of rock music much in the same way as his famous band mate, Eddie Van Halen’s guitar playing also changed rock music.

Soon after Van Halen’s debut, Roth became well-known for his flamboyant showmanship. The 1983 Rolling Stone Record Guide Vol 2. described Roth as “the most obnoxious singer in human history, an achievement notable in the face of long tradition and heavy competition.” Although often noted more for physical than for technical vocal prowess, Roth’s bluesy baritone voice and distinctive screams coupled with his humorous and campy lyrics were integral to Van Halen’s sound. Roth is able to take his voice into a multi-pitched wheeze/rasp, almost like a train whistle.

From 1979-1984, Van Halen released five more albums: Van Halen II, Women and Children First, Fair Warning, Diver Down and 1984, each to increasing popular success and critical acclaim. In 1983, Van Halen was paid $1.5 million to play one set at the US Festival making them one of the two highest paid bands in modern history.

On April 1, 1985, Roth and Van Halen parted ways. In late 1985, Roth assembled a backing band with veteran Van Halen producer Ted Templeman handling the production. Roth released his debut full-length solo album, Eat ‘Em and Smile in July, 1986. The album saw Roth return to hard rock music and met with huge commercial and critical success. In January 1988, Roth released Skyscraper, a more experimental offering than the first solo album. Roth then went on a headlining arena tour with the Los Angeles hairband Poison opening for him.  The tour was a huge success and met with positive reviews in many places. In January 1991, Roth released A Little Ain’t Enough, a more mainstream hard rock album. Musical tastes had changed dramatically by the end of 1991 and the accompanying tour promoting this album did not do as well financially as planned. In March 1994, Roth released Your Filthy Little Mouth, an eclectic, lyrically intricate album.  It did not sell well, considered by many to be a commercial failure, failing to achieve gold status. Roth’s career was in decline yet he still managed to support the album with a World Tour lasting over 10 months that took him and his band through North America, Japan, Europe and back through North America again.

Nevertheless, many loyal fans remained, and the Roth/Van Halen split entered pop culture. For example, in the hit 1994 film Airheads, fans loyal to Roth were regarded as cool, whereas a character loyal to Van Halen was suspected as an undercover police officer. Similarly, in 2001, the title character of the film Joe Dirt declared he was a Van Halen fan, not a “Van Hagar” fan.  In June 1996, Roth reunited with Van Halen for a brief time and to great public fanfare. He recorded two new songs for Van Halen’s Best of Vol. 1 album, “Can’t Get This Stuff No More” and “Me Wise Magic.” After an infamous appearance on September 5, 1996, at the MTV Music Awards during which Roth and Eddie Van Halen reportedly threatened each other ultimately resulting in Van Halen choosing their third and least popular vocalist.

In 1997, Roth wrote a well-received memoir, entitled Crazy From the Heat. In 2001, rumors swirled that Roth and the members of Van Halen had recorded several new songs together and were in the process of attempting yet another reunion. Roth later confirmed this, but nothing became of the music. In 2003, Roth released Diamond Dave, an album of (mostly) classic rock cover songs.  It was during the promotional tour for this album that I had the pleasure of seeing him live and meeting him at long last.

On Feb. 2, 2007 The Official Van Halen Web Site released information that David Lee Roth had rejoined the band bringing much joy to long time fans.  In March 2007 five members of Van Halen, the four original members and Sammy Hagar (2nd vocalist) were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  On August 13, 2007, 6 months after the initial reunion tour was postponed, it was finally confirmed by Van Halen with Roth at a press conference that they would schedule it starting in September 2007. At that conference, Eddie Van Halen stated that he and Roth were “like brothers” now. Calling Van Halen a “real band”, both Edward and Roth spoke of the possibility of further worldwide touring and a new album in mind for the future.On June 5, 2008, Van Halen announced the 2007-2008 tour with Roth grossed more than $93 million, a record for the band. Van Halen played to nearly one million people during 74 arena shows throughout the United States and Canada.





Happy Summer Solstice to You

22 06 2010

Today is Summer Solstice 2010, the first day of summer. Solstice derives from a combination of Latin words meaning “sun” + “to stand still.” As the days lengthen, the sun rises higher and higher until it seems to stand still in the sky. Today is known to be the longest day of the year when the Earth’s axial tilt is most inclined towards the sun at its maximum of 23° 26′. As a major celestial event, the Northern Hemisphere celebrates in June, but the people on the Southern half of the earth have their longest summer day in December. The Summer Solstice is also referred to as “Midsummer” during Shakespearian times and in his works because it is roughly the middle of the growing season throughout much of Europe.

Awed by the great power of the sun, civilizations have for centuries celebrated the Summer Solstice. The Celts & Slavs celebrated the first day of summer with dancing & bonfires to help increase the sun’s energy.  The Chinese marked the day by honoring Li, the Chinese Goddess of Light.  The Druids’ celebrated the day as the “wedding of Heaven and Earth”.  Today, the day is still celebrated around the world – most notably in England at  Stonehenge where thousands gather to welcome the sunrise on the Summer Solstice. Pagan spirit gatherings or festivals are also common in June, when groups assemble to light a sacred fire, and stay up all night to welcome the dawn. Following the birth of a White Buffalo Calf in 1994, the Keeper of the White Buffalo Calf Pipe for the Lakota, Dakota, Nakota Nations, Arvol Looking Horse, was directed to honor the Four Directions with ceremony on June 21st. According to Lakota Star Knowledge, the birth of Miracle, a female white buffalo, signaled a time of earth changes and the coming of the mending of the Hoop of All Nations. The Summer Solstice is said to be a powerful time to pray for peace and harmony among all Living Beings. People around the world have observed spiritual and religious seasonal days of celebration during the month of June. Most have been religious holy days which are linked in some way to the summer solstice.

The seasons of the year are caused by the 23.5° tilt of the earth’s axis. Because the earth is rotating like a top or gyroscope, the North Pole points in a fixed direction continuously — towards a point in space near the North Star. But the earth is also revolving around the sun. During half of the year, the southern hemisphere is more exposed to the sun than is the northern hemisphere. During the rest of the year, the reverse is true. At noontime in the Northern Hemisphere the sun appears high in the sky during summertime, and low during winter. The time of the year when the sun reaches its maximum elevation occurs on the summer solstice — the day with the greatest number of daylight hours. It typically occurs on, or within a day or two of, June 21st, the first day of summer. The lowest elevation occurs about December 21st and is the Winter Solstice, the first day of winter, when the night time hours reach their maximum.

Ancient Pagans celebrated Midsummer with bonfires, when couples would leap through the flames, believing their crops would grow as high as the couples were able to jump. Midsummer was thought to be a time of magic, when evil spirits were said to appear. To thwart them, Pagans often wore protective garlands of herbs and flowers. For some people, religious diversity is a positive factor. They enjoy the variety of June celebrations, because it is evidence of wide range of beliefs. Others reject all celebrations other than the holy days recognized by their own religion. Some even reject traditional holy days if they are convinced that they have Pagan origins. Historically, the Christian settlers of the New Americas wanted to sway those with other beliefs to follow theirs and bribed them by changing Pagan Days of Celebration to Holy Day of recognition as one of the ways they used to persuade them.

Astrologically, the June Solstice marks the entry of the Sun into the Cardinal, Water Sign of Cancer.  The Tropic of Cancer (23°N26′) is the actual degree of latitude over which the Sun stops in its journey north, and then turns, having gone as far north as it is going to each year. Cancer is ruled by the Moon and Midsummer celebrates the elemental powers of fire and water, so people would light fires and bathe in the dew on the morning of Midsummer’s Day – as indeed they still do in many parts of the world.

For me, this marks a time of great memories growing up in a sun bathed small town with beaches kissing the shores of the Gulf of Mexico.  Chasing boys from the Catholic School Summer Camp nearby, going to fairs for cotton candy and dangerous rides built overnight by traveling carnies, sun bathing with a cancerous concoction of baby oil and iodine, syrupy sweet snowballs, and fun.  Even though I’m and adult and my days of school letting out for summer are long gone I still get that warm and fuzzy feeling inside when this day arrives.

This summer is going to be hotter than usual for us folks on the coast.  I would say there’s a bit of truth to global warming since it seems our summers have been getting hotter and hotter with each year that passes, but our winters have been surprisingly colder too.  I suppose the world is changing after all, just as I had to go and grow up.  But, being grown up hasn’t stopped me from getting that warm and fuzzy feeling… and it also hasn’t stopped me from using that cancerous tanning concoction I love so much.  But, it has stopped me from riding those dangerous rides built over night by carnies (I do have my standards).





Boredom leads to blogs about…

18 06 2010

Today in 1856 the Republican Party opened it’s 1st National Convention in Philadelphia.  Founded in northern states in 1854 by anti-slavery activists, modernizers, ex-Whigs and ex-Free Soldiers, the Republican Party quickly became the principal opposition to the then dominant Democratic Party.  It is often referred to as the “Grand Old Party” or G.O.P.   In the news today, Former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey, one of the drivers of the Tea Party movement, is suggesting that Republican political candidates should shy away from the “Tea Party” label to avoid harsher scrutiny.  The Tea Party Movement emerged in 2009 through a series of nationally coordinated protests in response to several federal laws including; Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (a.k.a. “bailout”), The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009(a.k.a. “Stimulus Package”), and the 2009-2010 Healthcare Reform Bills.  The name “Tea Party” is a reference to the Boston Tea Party protest of 1773 when American settlers protested the British government taxing them by refusing to return 3 shiploads of taxed tea to Britain and destroyed the tea by dumping it into the Boston Harbor.   The first president of the United States, George Washington, was not a member of any political party at the time of his election or throughout his tenure as president. Furthermore, he hoped that political parties would not be formed, fearing conflict and stagnation. Smart guy, that George Washington.  In my opinion, this nation is facing the very things that he feared today.

Just 2 years ago on this day we saw the first day of legal same sex marriage in the state of California but shortly afterward Proposition 8 was created, making same sex marriage illegal in the same state.  Recently, Proposition 8 was put on trial in a landmark case that will likely end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.  Today’s news says the federal case is wrapping up with closing arguments from either side.  Judge Vaughn Walker seemed skeptical of the attorneys defending Proposition 8, in particular challenging the argument that the institution of marriage is aimed primarily at serving society’s interest in procreation.  Among Walker’s questions for lawyers representing gay rights advocates is whether there is any proof that allowing gay men and lesbians to wed would reduce discrimination against them.  Walker is expected to rule this summer.  University of California, Davis law professor Vikram Amar told WSJ that he would be “quite surprised” if Walker didn’t rule that Prop 8 is unconstitutional.  I believe that if two people love each other they should not be denied their right to marriage and I also believe that when two married people hate each other they should not be denied their right to divorce, lol.  Any other concepts are dated.  The thought process of marriage for the purpose of procreation is ridiculous.  Period.  And, on a completely unrelated note, a Very Happy Birthday to Barry Manilow today…

On June 17th, 1947 Pan-American World Airways (Pan Am) chartered the first ever worldwide passenger airline.  Although Pan Am lobbied to gain protection of its position as America’s major international airline, it encountered increasing competition. At its peak during the early 1970s, Pan Am’s advertised under the slogan, “World’s Most Experienced Airline.” The 1973 energy crisis significantly affected Pan Am’s operational costs and On September 23, 1974, a group of Pan Am employees published an ad in the New York Times to register their disagreement over federal policies which they felt were harming the financial viability of their employer. Over the following 15 years Pan Am would face more difficulties including the stigma of being labeled as a target for terrorists after a hijacking in a 1986 in Pakistan taking the lives of 20 people.  Pan Am was forced to declare bankruptcy in January of 1991 and Delta Air Lines purchases it’s remaining profitable assets.  Today there are over 10 major airlines in existence in the U.S. alone.  Among the low cost carries of the U.S. is Spirit airlines, which was founded in 1980 as a tour operator providing travel packages to entertainment destinations that expanded over the next 20 years having 40 destinations throughout Central America, the Caribbean, South America and the U.S.  Today in the news Spirit Airlines pilots’ strike, which left many Florida vacationers stranded, was finally called off.  Though the details of the tentative settlement are still unknown, Capt. Sean Creed, leader of the Spirit unit of Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) released a statement noting “increases in pay and retirement benefits,” were among the gains achieved in the negotiations. Spirit flights are expected to resume Friday. While the strike is over, the airline industry’s labor problems are not since other unions will likely seek to capitalize on any gains achieved by Spirits’ pilots. The airline industry shedded up 100,000 jobs, and cut $15 billion in wages and benefits over the last 10 years and members are understandably unhappy as they watch the industry’s business begin to improve without any payoff to them. The International Air Transport Association declared global traffic back to pre-recession levels and recently forecast $545 billion in revenues for 2010, up almost 13% from last year.

Does anybody remember this?

Yep! It was 15 years ago today that O.J. Simpson took that long, slow, ride evading the police after suspicion of murdering his ex-wife and her friend Ronald Goldman. This event was the beginning of a historical criminal trial in which the former football hero, Simpson, was charged with murdering Nicole Brown-Simpson and her male companion.  Simpson hired a high-profile defense team initially led by Robert Shapiro and subsequently by F. Lee Bailey and Johnnie Cochran.  Cochran was able to persuade the jurors that there was reasonable doubt about the DNA evidence and Simpson was acquitted after the longest jury trial in California history (lasting over 9 months).  O.J. Simpson later went to jail for armed robbery and kidnapping and is still serving his 9 year sentence and still proclaiming his innocence in the 15 year old murders.
Another historical sports celebrity, famous boxer Mike Tyson, was accused of beating his celebrity actress wife Robin Givens 6 years prior to the Simpson murder on this same day.  Not as bad as murder but not so good in the press.  Of course, today these sports heroes’ woes are overshadowed by the more recent famous scandal of golf superstar Tiger Woods’ numerous affairs which add up to at least 18 holes … lol.

On June 17th 1980 Led Zeppelin embarked on their last European tour.  Sadly, this would be the tour that would not be completed due to the untimely death of drummer, John Bonham, on September 25th.  In my opinion one of the greatest losses in the history of rock music, ultimately leading to the demise of one of the greatest bands the music industry has ever seen.  On December 4th the band issued the following statement; “We wish it to be known that the loss of our dear friend, and the deep sense of undivided harmony felt by ourselves and our manager, have led us to decide that we could not continue as we were.” Devastating news for many fans, including me…of course, I was only 8 when this happened so I had no idea of the profound effect this would have on me until I discovered Led Zeppelin a few years later and fell madly in love with their amazing music.

My favorite band forever…

In other music news, 23 years ago today “Somebody to Love” by Jefferson Airplane debuted at #5 on the charts.  “Somebody to Love” was included in Rolling Stones Magazine’s top 500 songs of all time and has been on the soundtrack of many famous films as well as playing instrumental in publicizing the existence of the famous Haight-Ashbury counterculture to the rest of the U.S.  The lyrics are deep and philosophical, setting a scene of alienation and despair.  It was a period when music seemed to be more important than it is today.  When composition and lyrics were still important and artists were still respected.  A time when music still had meaning and talent was still considered the main ingredient.  A time far different than today, as music today is commercialized, cookie cutter crap and most (so-called-) artists’ songs are on the charts today and gone tomorrow.  Something real and meaningful for you, Jefferson Airplane perform “Somebody to Love”

And today we have Miley Cyrus in the news, I saw the article and this picture made me want to kick her ass…
Listen you little teenage tramp, you’re not the first and you’re probably not the last… now take off that f***in’ Cheap Trick shirt before you curse the band and they break up.  Do you even know a song by them? Please! Anyway, yeah… there’s some big new release of another video of her acting all skanky to some mixed, lip synced, edited song of her’s premiering today or something.  Whatever.  You don’t deserve the shirt, you little brat! And No, Miley, this is not for you…

Anyway, last but not least, we celebrate the birthday of one of my favorite artists today.  M.C. Escher was born today in 1898.  Wow… that dude was way ahead of his time.  Escher was a Dutch Graphic Artist known for his mathematically inspired woodcuts, lithographs, and mezzotints featuring impossible constructions and explorations of infinity, architecture and tessellations.  If that didn’t make any sense to you, have a look…

Anything exciting happen in YOUR world today?





Is there a doctor in the house?

18 04 2010

In the early 80’s I think every female from age 14 to 40 had one thing in common … his name; Rick Springfield.  The Australian native, Springfield, dominated the American pop rock music scene once the infamous hit “Jessie’s Girl” was released in 1981 and blew up the music charts bringing him to super stardom in a very short period of time.  At the same time, he also was busy making his mark on the small screen as Dr. Noah Drake on the emmy award winning soap opera “General Hospital”.  The combination of the two careers he was managing at the time made Rick Springfield a household name.  Every girl wanted him and every guy wanted to be him (even though they wouldn’t admit to it).

Springfield left high school at the age of 17 to pursue a career in music.  He joined 3 bands during that period and even traveled to Vietnam to entertain the troops with the band MPD, Ltd in 1969.  In 1972, at age 22, he relocated to Hollywood, California to seek out a solo career as a musician.  He struggled to find his place in the market at the time because record producers were not interested in his sound or look.  Though he did not desire to be a pop-idol, he was continuously pushed into that realm.  He wanted to be taken more seriously.  In turn, though acting played second fiddle to his desire to be a presence in music, he eventually scored a role on “General Hospital” in 1981.  At the same time, he fortunately captured the attention of RCA records with whom he recorded his first hit album “Working Class Dog”.   Both he and his agent at the time suspected the album wouldn’t be a hit, which is why he took the acting position.  Much to everyone’s surprise, the first song released from the album, “Jessie’s Girl”, quickly rose to #1 on the charts which meant Springfield had to work overtime between his two blossoming careers.  From 1981 to 1983, he would continue to portray Dr. Drake on television while embarking on world tours to promote his music.  The two careers worked hand in hand, even though it was hard on him, as they promoted each other making “General Hospital” the most popular show on daytime television and Springfield the most sought after pop musician in the industry during that period.   In 1982 the album “Success Hasn’t Spoiled Me Yet” was released followed in 1983 by his biggest hit album, “Living in Oz”.  Also, during those first 3 years of his stardom, Springfield received the honors of “Favorite Male Pop Artist” and “Best Male Rock Vocal Performance”.  In 1984, He made his first feature length film, “Hard to Hold” which was backed by his album/soundtrack of the same title.  The plot was, of course, about the struggles of rock stardom and romance.  A bit of a romantic comedy, though I do not suspect that was the writers’ intention.  Though the film did not do well in the box office, it was still a big hit among the ladies featuring Springfield in many mouth watering scenes and making it the date movie of the 1984.

It was a bitter sweet success for Springfield because he longed to be recognized as a serious musician, but seemed to find himself ranked as a teen idol.  His 30-something baby face was plastered on the cover of every teen magazine while he aspired to be on the cover of more reputable magazines such as “Rolling Stone”.  In 1985 Springfield took a break from his careers to spend time at home with his new born son and wife as well as to deal with a state of depression he had been battling for many years following the death of his father.   From 1985-1988 Springfield recorded 3 more records, though they did not find nearly the success of their 3 predecessors.  Then, after a long break in recording, he began to record more introspective work that seemed to define his metamorphosis from overcoming to depression to accepting the life he was blessed with.  In 2004 he released the album “Shock/Denial/Anger/Acceptance” which showed a deeper and more intellectual side of Springfield.  It was an album he was very proud of that truly seemed to reflect the artist he wanted to be from the beginning.  He had come to a point in his life when he could actually embrace the fame he always fought.  Once he felt his baby faced good looks were a curse, but in later years he embraced the fame the pop industry had given him.  Today his audiences are the same young ladies who loved him, but they are now adults.  He still has sell-out shows and in 2008 released a top 40 album, “Venus in Overdrive”.

In 2003 I was thrilled at the opportunity to finally see him in concert, as I was too young in the 80’s to be allowed to go to any of his shows.  It was a terrible fate for me as both my sisters were old enough and got to come home and brag about it as I sat at home, listening to his records and sobbing.  But, alas, my opportunity had come in the fall of ’03 when Rick Springfield was coming to my home town to perform.  The interesting thing about the event was, at the time I was working in sales among a total of 4 sales women.  Our boss said who ever made the most sales in a 3 month period would get to choose tickets of their choice to a show at the local casino for an all expense paid evening of fun.  The good news is, of course, I won.  I never worked so hard in my life.  The bad news was, by the time the contest was over there were no good seats left available and we ended up on the 33rd row.  It was our entire office.  The boss and his wife, co-workers and their spouses … and I was spouseless, so I ended up taking my sister as my date.  The music was so uplifting. I sang along word for word.  I was so excited to be there.  He sounded better than ever.  I was bobbing up & down and standing in the aisles so I could catch a good glimpse of the still hunky Rick Springfield.

As a person who always demands front row at shows, I pulled some of my old tricks.  I grabbed my sister by the hand and suggested we simply walk up to the front and see what happens.  She was skeptical, but I pushed on through with her in tow.  The annoying thing about casino shows is they always give away the best seats of a show to their biggest gamblers … the people who spend their life savings there have earned those seats.  That’s commendable, except those people are usually well past retirement age and holding their ears at a rock concert. Yet, they are the same kind of people who would never refuse anything free.  Go figure.  So, I look around and feel like I’m in an old folks home.  I look up at Rick who seems very pleased to see my young face among them.  He begins to play one of my favorite songs, “Kristina”, a b-side from one of his chat topping hits.  I look back at him with a smile, push through a few blue haired bouffants and climb up on the stage to join him in song and dance.  I look back down at my blushing sister who didn’t have the courage to push past those old folks and I give her a chuckle as I do a little dirty dancing on stage with the dreamy Rick Springfield.  I’m beaming as the cameras roll and I hear my work mates back on row 33 hoopin’ & hollarin’.  It was an unforgettable moment.  At the end of “Kristina” I gave Rick a hug and jumped off the stage, floating back to my seat.

Rick Springfield cornered the market like no other, in my humble opinion.  He ruled the small screen and the music charts during the decade of decadence, when he was faced with a lot of serious competition.  He played some incredible guitar, though he wasn’t taken seriously as he should’ve been.  Every song in his repertoire had memorable lyrics and catchy hooks that couldn’t be beat.  He was a little bit rock and roll and a little bit punk and a whole lot pop, but he was good … really good.  So good, in fact, that he still has a huge following today and continues to have a successful career in music and the small screen.

Thus far in his career, he has starred in two major motion pictures, 3 shows on television and numerous Broadway acts.  He has released 7 studio albums to reach top 40 status, 4 of which were in the top 20.  He has been involved in several charitable works, including a private concert for the benefit of a family friend with cancer and Bob Geldof’s “Live Aid” concert in 1985 to help those in Ethiopia.  Springfield has also participated in judging the Independent Music Awards among the likes of Roger Daltry, Buddy Guy, Lou Reed and many other highly respected musicians.

Today Rick is currently on tour and has recently released his autobiography, “Late, Late at Night”. Next month, production begins on a documentary following Rick’s career from past to present titled “Affair of the Heart” (after one of his more famous hits).  Rick says of the documentary, “My fans are the most amazing humans on this planet.  This documentary will not just focus on me, but on them and the connection we share.”

On a side note, Rick is a well known dog lover who included his “best friend” on the covers of some of his albums as well as recording songs about them.  I find this to be kinda cool.  I guess because I’m a dog lover myself and would put my dogs on album covers as well.

To learn more about Rick, his official website is here: http://www.rickspringfield.com/





Up in the air

31 03 2010

As a child, I used to always refer to clouds as “mashed potatoes in the sky” because that’s how they looked to me.  As I type this, I’m flying above the mashed potatoes and I have to say they really still look like that to me.  But what a beautiful sight they are!  Back in those days of lying on the ground with my mother, dreaming up shapes together as we gazed up at the clouds I never would’ve dreamed it possible to be looking down on them.  That seems like such a long time ago, and then it seems like yesterday.  Now I’ve flown over them many times.

Flying is not really special to me.  I’d trade it to be lying on the ground imagining with my mother any day.  But it’s an easy way to get from point a to point b I suppose.  One of the main things I don’t like about flying is the fact that I feel like my ears are going to burst out of my skull.  Today, surprisingly, I didn’t experience this discomfort… which is shocking and the first time I haven’t faced this issue.

I’m flying to Houston for business.  In some ways I’m excited and in others not.  The learning experience is a positive thing, but I guess I get homesick pretty easily.  I’ll be locked up in a hotel without transportation when not in class.  Maybe not homesick as much as bored really, as it’s a short trip.

Work has provided me with this lap top I’m using, of course the internet access is blocked.  So, basically I can type this, save it and post it someday.  In a way I’m just typing to pass the time as I travel from a to b.  When I’m not typing I’m staring out the window at mashed potatoes and getting hungry.  My Dad makes the best mashed potatoes on Earth! I wish I had some right now.  Instead I get a bag of 10 pretzels and an ounce of juice, or so it all seems anyway.  If I don’t type or stare out the window I get to look at the skymall catalog and see all the things I’ve always wanted and needed and never knew existed until I find them there.  Such amazing items in skymall.  Usually, after about 15 minutes of browsing I get frustrated because I can’t afford any of it.  Seems like everything I’ve always wanted and needed but never knew existed is very expensive.  Go figure.

The lady next to me is downing vodka.  I’m way too chicken to drink on a flight.  It’s not the flying part, it’s the airport.  I can get lost in my neighborhood… so I have to be 101% in an airport.  Airports really stress me out.  They’re loud and crowded and confusing and stressful.  Thank God I don’t have a layover on this flight.  I paid $200 extra to avoid it.  Actually, my company paid $200 extra so I can avoid it.  I hope they don’t mind.

Well, there’s only about 30 minutes left on this flight.  I hope it goes quickly.  We’re at 36,000 feet.  My head is starting to ache.  I’ll take this brief moment to tell you another flight tale before I close… enjoy…

It was March of ’97.  I was traveling to Savannah, Georgia to visit a friend in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day.  It’s a pretty big deal out there.  It was a small passenger jet, rather old and somewhat rickety, but I wasn’t concerned.  I’ve flown on worse, and I know when it’s my time … well, then it will just be my time.  So, I don’t really sweat flying too much.  We had boarded the semi-crowded plane.  It wasn’t packed, but somewhat stuffy because it was so small.  I was comfortably nestled in my seat beside the window … well, as comfortable as one can get on a plane anyway.  I was gazing out on the runway, ready for action.

The plane was still boarding, slowly.  My new neighbor was guided to the seat beside me.  He was nervous and sweating.  He wore a plaid button down shirt, half tucked in and half out … slightly sloppy … with oversized kahki polyesther slacks.  He had on very thick glasses that he was persistently pushing up his sweaty nose, sort of like a nervous habit.  His salt and pepper hair looked as though it needed a good washing.  He carried an old brief case and a thick paperback novel.  He sat on the aisle seat, placing his briefcase on the seat between us.  I nodded and then looked back to the runway, with this gut feeling that making conversation would be a huge mistake.  He fastened and un-fastened his seatbelt a number of times.  The plane was still boarding.  You know the process, you sit on a plane for a good 30 minutes before they even begin the spill about safety and such.  I glanced over at my nervous neighbor uncontrollably.  He was cracking open his novel with an intent expression.  “Good,” I thought to myself, “He doesn’t want to make conversation either.”  I watched him, even though I didn’t want to … I just couldn’t resist it.  He led his fingertip across each line of the novel at the speed of light, as if he was reading in fast forward.  He had completed the novel before the plane had even finished boarding.  “Interesting,” I thought to myself and gazed back out to the runway.  I’m not one to judge, but it quickly occurred to me I was sitting beside a real basket case.  For a moment he rocked back and fourth in his seat, he picked up the novel then placed it back on the seat between us on top of the brief case.  He pushed his glasses up his nose a couple of times as he stared down at his belongings.  I continued to fight the urge to watch this man, but I just couldn’t resist I tell you! I suppose 20 minutes had passed.  20 minutes since I had boarded the plane, acquired this neighbor, and watched him read a complete novel.

And then it happened … he carefully pulled the brief case from the seat and meticulously placed the novel back in it’s place between us.  I was, of course, dying to know what contents were in this briefcase.  I pretended not to care, shuffling through my purse but with my eyes cut to the right so that I could spy on his personal property.  (Get ready for this because you are not going to believe me, but…) When he opened his brief case it revealed 2 ziplock bags and some packages of mayonnaise … and this was the ONLY contents!  I kid you not! One ziplock held a single slice of bologna and the other held 2 slices of white bread.  So, my neighbor proceeded to make a sandwich as the final passengers boarded the plane and the safety show began.  As the stewardess explained seat belts, gas masks and emergency exits my neighbor shoveled down his sandwich even faster than he could read a novel.  The only thing he was able to do faster than eat that sandwich was, of course, puking it out all over the seat between us.  Yes, that’s right … he didn’t opt for the courtesy barf bag so delicately placed in the seat pocket in front of him … he chose to spew out a hardly digested bologna sandwich right between us.

“Prepare for takeoff” is announced.  I call to the stewardess and point at the disgusting mess beside me.  “Excuse me,” I plead, “Can I move to another seat?” She shakes her head with a thoughtful smile and leads me to another seat before take off.