Archive for February, 2009

Groundhog Takes No Guff

February 3rd, 2009

Apparently weather rodent Staten Island Chuck is also a taxpayer. How else to explain taking a bite out of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg at a weather ceremony yesterday.

Of course, maybe he’s just sicking of everybody blaming the messenger. Either way I hereby dedicate this story to Rondi.

Gopher, Prairie Dog

The Day the Music Died

February 3rd, 2009

On Feb 3rd 1959, 50 years ago today, The Winter Dance Party, a travelling rock and roll show, played at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa. The show featured Frankie Sardo, Dion & The Belmonts, The Big Bopper, Bobby Vee & The Shadows, Jimmy Clanton, Ritchie Valens, Fabian and Frankie Avalon. Buddy Holly and the Crickets headlined.

portraitThe show was moving on to Fargo North Dakota, and Holly chartered a A Beech Bonanza for his band. However, his band didn’t go. Instead, bassist Waylon Jennings gave his seat to The Big Bopper, J.P. Richardson, who had the Flu, and guitarist Tommy Allsup gave his to Ricthie Valens, who won a coin toss at the ballroom for Allsup’ seat on the plane. Upon hearing of the new flying arrangements, Holly told Jennings, “Well, I hope your ol’ bus freezes up,” to which Jennings replied “Well, I hope your ol’ plane crashes.” Jennings was haunted by the exchange for the rest of his life.

The rest can be told best by the Civil Aeronautics Board:

The aircraft was observed to take off toward the south in a normal manner, turn and climb to an estimated altitude of 800 feet, and then head in a northwesterly direction. When approximately 5 miles had been traversed, the tail light of the aircraft was seen to descend gradually until it disappeared from sight. Following this, many unsuccessful attempts were made to contact the aircraft by radio. The wreckage was found in a filed later that morning.

All aboard the flight died. The only body in the wreckage was that of pilot Roger Peterson. Both Holly and Valens were found seventeen feet from the plane, Richardson’s forty feet.

It was the first major death of the rock and roll era. Twelve years later Don McLean would write American Pie about the accident, noting it was The Day The Music Died. It is a phrase that has stuck and is today generally regarded as such.

There would be more deaths of the rockers we loved. Last week another plane crash, the Lynyrd Skynyrd one was in the news, and Jim Croce also perished in a small plane. There are too many to mention that went by substance abuse, some in car crashes, some suicides. But the Day the Music Died is unquestionably the most remembered, the most cited.

Buddy Holly is, fifty years later, still a major musical figure, one of the absolute greats of rock and roll. Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper less so. But all three are remembered today as pioneers in the music so many of us came to love.

A long, long time ago…

I can still remember

How that music used to make me smile.

And I knew if I had my chance

That I could make those people dance

And, maybe, they?d be happy for a while.

But february made me shiver

With every paper I?d deliver.

Bad news on the doorstep;

I couldn?t take one more step.

I can?t remember if I cried

When I read about his widowed bride,

But something touched me deep inside

The day the music died…

And in the streets: the children screamed,

The lovers cried, and the poets dreamed.

But not a word was spoken;

The church bells all were broken.

And the three men I admire most:

The father, son, and the holy ghost,

They caught the last train for the coast

The day the music died.

Well, that’ll be the day, when you say goodbye

Yes, that’ll be the day, when you make me cry

You say you’re gonna leave, you know it’s a lie

‘Cause that’ll be the day when I die

RIP, Rockin' and Rollin' and Never Forgettin'

Damn Grounbdhog – Part Deux

February 2nd, 2009

A couple of years ago, when I actually had an ice rink to skate on, the prognosticating prairie dog gave us an early spring. This year I had leaky hoses and never got around to  laying that ice sheet: a better winter for backyard hockey you would be hard pressed to find too. So what happens?

Wiarton’s weather woodchuck, Willie predicts six more weeks of this cold/snow/blowing crap.

If he’s right, I fear a repeat of last year.

Gopher, Prairie Dog

The Hamster Did It

February 1st, 2009

We love to complain here about the MSM, can’t do their job, don’t do sufficient research, just plain biased &tc. But sometimes a mistake happens, and it’s so obvious even the newscaster gets it.

Please note: this is a serious story about the disappearance eight years ago of a sixteen year old girl. The most serious, unfunny of news stories: now try not to laugh.

PS: He looks guilty as hell.


The Freedom of Music

February 1st, 2009
Comments Off on The Freedom of Music

freedom-of-music-headerOne likes to believe in the freedom of music.
Rush – Spirit of Radio.

Super Bowl Sunday. The end of the NFL season, where football pools, betting lines and ageing rockers credibility goes to die.

sidebar-1Ever since Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake proved without a doubt that you can no longer claim rebel status unless the cameras are rolling, Super Bowl half-time shows have featured acts that, 30 years ago, would have been apocalyptic if the record company said they should play the Super Bowl.

This years half-time show will feature Bruce Springsteen, the once future of rock and roll, now more like the farmer of rock and roll, milking every last drop from it’s drying teat. Bruce will be on full display, in a non-Janet Jackson way I hope, to promote his new album, Working On A Dream, which was released last Tuesday. The question I can’t help ask myself is, why? Why does Bruce Springsteen think he needs to play second fiddle to a football game to sell a few records?

The reason can probably be found in the record (bunch of MP3’s actually, but that doesn’t ring). It’s terrible. The interesting thing is it my first instinct is, not bad. Catchy, you might say. But upon further review, even that’s not really true.  Compared to other new releases this week, The Best of Hillary Duff say, or Mariah Carey or Liona Lewis, it may well be a work of genius. But when you compare it to Bruce Springsteen, this is a dismal failure of Springsteen’s quality filter.

It’s not a problem unique to Springsteen: The Stones and Paul McCartney are two prominent examples that come to mind. But who’s making music that you will listen to this time next year anymore?  The last Stones album, A Bigger Bang? Not when you have Let it Bleed or Made in the Shade to listen to? Bob Seger’s Face the Promise? Better choice than others mentioned here, but not compared to Live Bullet or Night Moves.  Even the newer acts I like. Will I really  listen to Kid Rock or the Foo Fighters five years from now? Maybe one of the above, but there won’t be many. So Springsteen is not unique in this regard.

Yet, if you are a fan of Springsteen, can you be faulted for expecting better? This is the guy who left Fire and Because the Night off of an album because they didn’t fit. How many songwriters never wrote a song as good as either? How many modern acts have zero songs in their repertoire as good as those two? Springsteen gave them away. And it’s not just the seventies. The Rising is one of the best albums of the last ten years. In fact, if you cut it down to eight songs, forty minutes – the same restrictions Born to Run or Darkness on the Edge of Town were recorded under – you have an album that belongs with the aforementioned. It’s all the bloody filler that hurts the Rising, the extra time that CDs allow that turn every disk into a double album length epic.

But the downhill slide for Springsteen was not out of the blue: Magic, his last CD,  suffered from lack of quality songs, save for two or three. And The Seeger Sessions was clearly an ironic cash in on a socialist icon: political in intent, larcenous in fact. But this one. How did the guy who left Fire aside let every song on this album past his crap filter? Their is not a redeeming song, not a point to hang your hat on. It’s bad, boring and meaningless from start to finish. For the first time in twenty-five years, I won’t be buying a Springsteen album, I have no interest in going to see him live lest he play this rubbish, and then treat me to a political speech I have no ineterst in hearing. This is one working man who is fed up with the so called “working mans hero,” and will save my hard earned money for more deserving entertainers. And that is a sentence, I never thought I would type.

Springsteen is still Boss, The Freedom of Music, This Week on my I-Pod