Music, October 1971: Parents of rock stars

Clockwise from top left: Zappa, Cocker, Crosby, Clapton

The book Never A Dull Moment by David Hepworth notes a photo display in LIFE magazine in the fall of 1971 called “Rock Stars and their parents.” Among those represented: the Jackson Five, Frank Zappa, Ginger Baker, Joe Cocker, Grace Slick, and David Crosby.

“Eric Clapton was pictured with his grandmother Rose Clapp, who had raised him on behalf of her sixteen-year-old daughter. There was no mention of his actual birth mother. the public wasn’t ready for the complexity of a nonnuclear family.”

While photographer John Olson noted that the rock stars were “uniformly” well-behaved around their parents, they weren’t temperamentally suited for domestic life, having spent years on the road. Moreover, unannounced fans would try to show up on the doorsteps of Bob Dylan, Pete Townsend and others. Paul McCartney was the exception, as he and Linda lived in rural Scotland.

Often even these musicians of means still thought of themselves as creators first, people with homes second. Among the folks with studios actually in their abodes were George Harrison, James Taylor and Graham Nash. Other musicians were impulsive buyers of eccentric structures. Keith Moon’s house had five pyramids. Jimmy Page and John Lennon both needed others to stay in their residences.

As for musical families, the Kinks put out my favorite of their albums, Muswell Hillbillies, Donny Osmond and his brothers were strong on the charts all year since One Bad Apple copped the style of the Motown family’s J5.

The Beach Boys made the cover of Rolling Stones, a wildly successful singles band in the early ’60s who aside from Pet Sounds, were not particularly successful album artists in the latter part of the decade. They were perceived as uncool.

Fortunately, they pieced together the often magnificent Surf’s Up, in a way a tribute to the band’s aura. “Van Dyke Park, who had co-written the title song five years earlier correctly predicted if they used that title, they could pre-sell 150,000 extra copies.

Eventually, though, it was the old songs, first with the Who’s 1971 Meaty Big and Bouncy, then the defunct Beatles, followed by the Beach Boys, post 1973’s American Graffiti, that showed that nostalgia could sell quite well, thank you.

Listen to:

Surf’s Up – the Beach Boys
Coat Of Many Colors – Dolly Parton
Superstar – Carpenters
Old Man – Neil Young
Muswell Hillbilly – The Kinks
Peaches En Regalia – Frank Zappa
Will the Circle Be Unbroken – Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Tired of Being Alone – Al Green

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Charles McGill and the politics of the golf bag

When we were in Binghamton, NY, my sister Leslie and I went to the Orzio Salati Studio & Gallery at 204 State Street, part of a block of artist venues downtown. We went because our late father knew a guy named Charlie McGill. Charles, who graduated from high school in Binghamton in 1982 must have been Charlie’s son or nephew. The statue, BTW, is a rather good likeness of the artist.

“For the 18 years [Charles] wrestled with the golf bag. He found it to be a ‘very political object due to its its historical associations with class inequality and racial injustice.” The country club had been so long the dominion of people of a certain demographics that, more than once, McGill, an avid golfer, was mistaken for a caddie.

We know all of this this because Salati, the curator, but also McGill’s friend and fellow artist, told us. He explained that McGill’s work was both a physical and mental struggle. Physical because the golf bag is generally well constructed, with leather, steel reinforcement, hard plastic form and rivets. The piece below is Tondos (from the Italian rotondo – round).

Sometimes, he didn’t deconstructed the golf bag, but amplified the message, such as the Three Kings bag with images of Martin Luther King Jr., Rodney King, and King Kong.

Unfortunately, the planned show for Charles in his hometown became a memorial exhibit, as the artist died from metastasized kidney cancer in July 2017. The pieces are all on loan from various galleries.

And, as is often the case, his work was increasingly being recognized for “making a bold statement” and going for far more money than it had just months earlier. Rondos, for instance, is now going for $30,000.

The show continues through the end of October 2017, Saturday from 11 a.m to 3 p.m. and by appointment (607 772-6725).

Signs in the 518 AND the 838

The primaries in New York State are over.I must admit a fascination with all the yard signs in people’s lawns‘ we have three in ours, a new record. How do they do their designs so they don’t look like everyone else’s? A lot of them use red, white, and/or blue.

Generally speaking I give points to anyone’s signs that didn’t fall in that category. Although: a candidate for city auditor named Susan Rizzo had an orange sign; from a distance it looked red to me, and one doesn’t want red in a sign for someone in charge of money. Her opponent, Glen Casey, had a picture of himself with a pale orange background, which, also from a distance, made him look as though he had clown hair.

I came across this state manual Municipal Control of Signs. Interesting geek reading. “Sign controls applicable to residential areas must therefore be carefully drawn to respect free speech while protecting the community’s appearance.”

The Capital District and north got a new area code in the 518 this summer, which is 838. It’s an overlay, which means that the new area code would cover the same geography as the old one, when new numbers are assigned. Some folks are complaining that now they have to dial 10 digits rather than seven, but it is no big deal to me.

This is MUCH better outcome than if they had split the area code, with everyone in Albany and Troy, e.g., having to get new phone numbers, which would mean new business cards, new signs, and the need to spend advertising to promote that.

My church got a new sign, welcoming immigrants and refugees around Labor Day. It fits in with the position of our Session, which is the local governing board:

“As Christians, we are committed to stand with all who are oppressed, marginalized, or persecuted and to do all in our power to protect and defend. We boldly assert that God’s creation is universal and is a reflection of God’s own self, those of every race, color, ethnicity, of every gender, sexual orientation or sexual identity, speaking every language and born in every place, following every religious tradition. Everyone of these is created in God’s own image and rejection of any is a rejection of God. We especially invite those in positions of leadership and power to restrain any injustice and to avoid at all costs any pandering or use of prejudice for political gain. We seek a world as God envisions, a world of justice, mercy, and love.”

October rambling #1: Naturalist At Large

Roy Moore is a lawless theocratic lunatic

Scientology and the cult of tRump

The Rules of the Gun Debate: The rules for discussing firearms in the United States obscure the obvious solutions

My Daughter Was Murdered in a Mass Shooting. Then I Was Ordered to Pay Her Killer’s Gun Dealer

Sandy Hook mom: ‘We value guns, flags & fake acts of patriotism over people, pain’

Inside the Federal Bureau Of Way Too Many Guns

Just What We Needed: More Inequality, Bigger Deficits

Forensic Science: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Statistical indicators of President Obama’s eight years in office

The Day Donald Trump Watched An Octogenarian Bleeding To Death And Did Nothing To Help

Adjunct professors in America face low pay and long hours without the security of full-time faculty. Some, on the brink of homelessness, take desperate measures

The Five Stirring Stanzas That Proved a Poem Can Help End a War

“The Closet” where a black camper slept is preserved in Schroon Lake, NY

How to Protest Without Offending White People

Comic: Back to the Future of Racism

Chuck Miller’s two-week boycott of ESPN

Finding Your Roots: Bernie Sanders and Larry David (may be available only in the US and until 31 Oct)

Free counseling for those affected by Hurricane Harvey from BetterHelp.com for up to three months

Want Change In Education? Look Beyond The Usual Suspects (Like Finland)

How to handle being “unfriended” on Facebook

Naturalist At Large environmental cartoons by Don Rittner and Raoul Vezina (1983)

“Mr Brunelle Explains It All” Cartoon Gallery

The Vast Influence Of Donald Duck

How one election changed Disney’s relationship with Anaheim

EU English

The Mary Tyler Moore Show Fall Preview

30 Of the Most Amazing Images from Electron Microscopes

Now I Know: The Town that Drives Itself and Why We Yawn and Why Once You Pop, You Can’t Stop and The Ben and Jerry’s Flavor that Left a Bad Taste Behind

Floss Firstenberg Alper Obituary: Floss was an amazing listener, a trusted confidante, the focus of many people’s erotic dreams, an oft-invited dinner guest and irreverent as hell

MUSIC

Waiting For The Waiter – MonaLisa Twins ft. John Sebastian

Coverville 1187: Cover Stories for Gerry & The Pacemakers and Everything But The Girl

Magic Moments – Perry Como

Merrily We Roll Along – Eddie Cantor

N is for Nicknames

One of the great things my father did was to name me Roger, which does not engender a lot of nicknames. He also did not name me after himself, also good. That might have gotten m called Junior, or Bud (like on the TV show Father Knows Best).

I was thinking about this because Rob Hoffman wrote about nicknames, and specifically about how certain names are more prone to variations.

“Elizabeth – (Betty, Beth, Liz, Lizzie, Betts, Bette) This name provides a lot of flexibility. Elizabeth is royal, while Betty is a fun neighbor with a silly laugh. Liz is a ‘good-time,’ but Lizzie is downright dangerous.)” Which is why, when naming our daughter, Elizabeth was totally off the table, despite being the name of the only British monarch in my lifetime AND my late mother’s middle name.

Mom, BTW, was named Gertrude, after her mother. She was usually called Gertie by her cousins, which she disliked less than her formal name, but not much. As an adult, though, she became Trudy and THAT suited her.

My father was named Leslie, but he always was Les =in my reckoning. Les is also the shortened form of Lester, though, and some people, in an attempt to be formal, referred to him with that moniker. You could see him bristle.

Roger doesn’t really lend itself to shortening, other than Rog, and I like that. There have been attempts to give me nicknames, and I always fought them off. When I was a janitor at Binghamton (NY) City Hall in the spring and summer of 1975, one of the other custodians tried to dub me “Flash”, because I got my core work done in six hours, and then would do the extra stuff, such as buffing the floor, and still have time to talk to the police captain, or read, or clean the doors yet another time – glass doors always have fingerprints.

He and his colleague took as long as they could, never did work beyond what was required, and sometimes not even that. So they called me Flash, I acted as though I didn’t hear them. Eventually, they gave up.

For ABC Wednesday

When I missed seeing John Lennon

The new documentary The Vietnam War by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, which I am watching, though not in real time, reminded me of the time I might have seen John Lennon but did not.

I have noted that I participated in a number of antiwar demonstrations between 1968 and 1974. (In 1967, it would not have occurred to me.) A few were in my hometown of Binghamton, NY, which got bigger and bigger as the war dragged on.

But most took place while I was a student in New Paltz, NY, starting in 1971. A handful took place in town or around the area (Kingston, Poughkeepsie). But most were in New York City, with a fair number in Washington, DC.

It was at one of the New York City rallies – there were so many, I no longer remember when – that a bunch of us took a charter bus to New York City to stand up against what was the latest incursion. And after we rallied for a couple hours, we got the bus home.

Someone was listening to the rally on the radio – I’m guessing WBAI-FM, which makes sense, given its history. An organizer at the announced John Lennon and Yoko Ono, only ten minutes after we had reboarded the bus. We were still in Manhattan, but, of course, there was a schedule to keep.

I don’t what he said specifically that day – it was probably similar to the ideas expressed here – but we were all disappointed to miss it first-hand.

John Lennon’s struggle against war I thought was brave, not because he had been a Beatle, but because he was facing deportation from the United States because of what was likely was a bogus drug possession arrest and conviction in the UK a couple of years earlier.

Hmm – interesting how what would have been the the 77th birthday of John Lennon converges with the now-controversial celebration of Columbus Day, given the often xenophobic polices of the current regime.

Listen to:
Give Peace a Chance – Plastic Ono Band here or here.

A teevee in every public place

Jaquandor wants to know:

What do you think of the trend today for a teevee blaring news to be present in nearly every public or open-to-the-public space there is nowadays? Every doctor waiting room, every super market cafe, even some of our favorite restaurants — teevees in all, and they are ALWAYS set to either CNN or FOX News. This bugs me. How about you?

Well, yes, it’s true that the phenomenon has grown. There was a time, particularly in airports, when the default network was CNN, because it was “neutral.” But now, it’s more often FOX. And I ALWAYS remember.

Nice diner in Catskill, about 45 miles south of here – FOX News. The Burger King in the same town – FOX News.

The Bible Guys breakfast in Albany at a local diner – FOX News. I wonder if the owners figured that, since we were a religious-minded group, that FOX would be amenable to us; it was most assuredly not, and we asked them to turn it off.

FOX in the morning, BTW, is particularly awful, actually. I’m especially annoyed with that dumb blond – what’s his name, Doocy?

Some venues, figuring that ANY news is controversial these days, have opted for HGTV, the home and garden network, which I see it at my allergist’s office – and I have to wait 30 minutes AFTER my monthly shot.

So I see folks getting their homes renovated a LOT. I saw a couple recent articles explaining that not everything was as it seemed on air. Here’s a piece that will tell you more than you ever need to know about the network. I really got to dislike Christina and Tarek of Flip or Flop, especially him, but am actually sorry their marriage broke up.

There’s a pizza place in Albany that used to show the local news, but now airs movies, some of them not amenable with wanting to eat.

I went to a now-defunct barbershop near my house, and they were showing some shoot-em-up movie with vulgar language on DVR when children were present.

I wonder if they feel they need to compete with all the handheld devices their customers undoubtedly own.

Tom Petty: supposed to have been so much more

In the spring of 1995, a friend of mine working with a band fronted by Pete Droge, who was opening for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. They came to Albany to play at the Knickerbocker Arena.

After their set, my exhausted friend left, and so did I, hearing only the first couple songs of the Petty concert. But I figured I’d see him and the Heartbreakers again someday, which proved to be incorrect.

Petty was very popular at FantaCo in the 1980s. My boss Tom had this weird affection of changing the lyrics of the songs from Girl to Squirrel. American Squirrel, Here Comes My Squirrel. It was weird but sort of funny.

I talways thought that the Traveling Wilburys Vol 2 was the collective albums that the artists put out between Vol. 1 and Vol. 3. This would, of course, include Tom Petty’s first “solo” album Full Moon Fever, which featured Free Fallin’ and I Won’t Back Down.

The latter song seemed to be Petty’s mantra, such as fighting with his record company over its failed attempt to raise the price of one of his album. I remember an urgent version at that TV concert after 9/11.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers backed Johnny Cash on his second American Recordings album, Unchained (1996). It won a country album Grammy, but I foolishly thought it would be a big crossover hit. It only got up to #170, and lasted a mere two weeks. Tells you what I know.

Someone was mourning the death of Tom Petty on Facebook, and some jerk said that if you didn’t mourn the folks killed and wounded in Las Vegas, to which someone asked, “Can’t you do both?” Be sad about mass murder AND the loss of someone who had provided part of the soundtrack of their lives for the past four decades?

I’m going to wait awhile, maybe October 20, 2020, which would have been his 70th birthday, before I decide my favorite Tom Petty songs. But these are a few that came to mind in the past few days:

Refugee – Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers

Even the Losers – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around – Stevie Nicks with Tom Petty

Free Fallin’ – Tom Petty

End Of The Line – The Traveling Wilburys

It’s Good To Be King – Tom Petty

You Don’t Know How It Feels – Tom Petty

You Wreck Me – Tom Petty

Walls (Circus) – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

I Won’t Back Down – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (from “America” A Tribute to Heroes”)

Plus Coverville 1188: Tom Petty Tribute

And here are just some of the stories I read:

Obit

Tom Petty Was Perhaps Rock’s Greatest Writer of First Lines

Tom Petty Was Rock ’n’ Roll’s Ambassador to the World Even if he would have been the last one to admit it

Remembering Tom Petty’s Quirky Roles in The Postman and King of the Hill

Why the Loss of Tom Petty Feels So Deeply Personal

Tom Petty’s final interview: There was supposed to have been so much more

“You find a lot of strange people at a yard sale”

Saturday, September 16, the Wife and the Daughter held a yard sale. It wasn’t MY event, because I hate them. I hate pricing; I would be terrible on The Price Is Right. I hate haggling, which is why I’ve never been to Turkey.

So I had nothing to do with this event. Well, except schlepping things from the house to the front yard, and putting up some last minute fliers. Oh, and placing a free online ad a half hour after the event started when I realized they had made no sales whatsoever.

There were what someone calls the “looky loos”, those folks who drive up in front of the house and immediately ascertain that you have nothing of interest to them.

But we did get people. There was the guy who wanted to know if we believed in taking down statues, a snarky comment about our neighbor’s yard.

Then there was the woman who asked if “that man” was blind. The man was me, and I was sitting on the porch, wearing my sunglasses, which I often do when I’m outside. I was occasionally reading the newspaper, but evidently not then.

The older guy in the Harley outfit, vest, no T-shirt, with a beard that those guys from Duck Dynasty would envy, actually expressed interest in the headboard and bed frame we wanted to sell. But his “low rider” car wouldn’t have accommodated the furniture. Did he have friends who could help? They’re all “losers” with either no license or no vehicle.

One item we did sell was a desk that once belonged to the Daughter. My wife had brought it home in our previous car, but it would not fit in our current automobile. Fortunately, the woman with her two small boys lived only a couple blocks away. We put it in a sturdy plastic wheelbarrow upside down, and the Daughter and I delivered it to their tiny apartment.

But the most interesting person was the woman walking down the street carrying her high heels and a mostly-consumed bottle of whiskey. She said he had no money. But a minute later, she sat in one of our chairs and asked, “Is this a rocking chair? Because if this was a rocking chair, I’d buy it.”

Then she proclaimed, “You find a lot of strange people at a yard sale. And I’m one of them.” She was correct.

As it turned out, the Wife and Daughter grossed about $57. After spending $30 on an ad which may have generated few sales, they split the $27. Then, we schlepped the unsold items back in the house, yet another thing I hate about yard sales, fortunately aided by our friend Jon. The home furnishings we’ll donate to a Habitat ReStore, the books to the local PTA.

So when do we talk about this?

When Hurricane Harvey hit Houston and most of southeast Texas, it was NOT the time to talk about global warming because of people’s lives and homes and businesses in danger? OK, how about now? No, the recovery is still going on.

So when do we talk about Houston’s rampant growth and urbanization, which merely aggravates the problem of the city’s flat terrain? If they’re going to “rebuild,” then how and where? What are they going to do differently going forward?

I remember some towns in the Midwest that were flooded in 1993 by the Mississippi River moved entirely.

Yet talking about Puerto Rico’s aging infrastructure seemed to be fair game for at least one person, right after Hurricane Maria, a broken system that has made communication so difficult that the aid was not reaching many of the people.

So what’s the difference? Mark Evanier tweeted: “Puerto Rico doesn’t have water, power or humanitarian aid because of two other things they lack: Electoral votes and enough white people.” I have (jokingly? I’m not sure) suggested that some of the three million residents of the island move to some red states on the mainland before 2020.

(And I will rant that I wish some news commentators would refer to Puerto Rico as a commonwealth rather than a territory, even though commonwealth status is just plain weird.)

Over 58 people were killed and over 500 were injured in Las Vegas. “Thoughts and prayers.” But Mark Kelly, the retired astronaut and husband of former congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who was shot in 2011 at a constituent event in Tucson, AZ, disagrees.

Messages to the families of victims in the Las Vegas shooting, while important, are “not enough.” Kelly told reporters outside of the Capitol building with his wife at his side: “Your thoughts and prayers aren’t going to stop the next shooting. Only action and leadership will do that.”

The Onion ran YET AGAIN, ‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens.

So when do we talk about a ban on assault weapons that can kill people from a distance of four football fields away? Apparently, it’s just not the right time. It wasn’t the right time after the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, FL, which was the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history. And it’s not time now, less than 16 months later, when we have the NEW deadliest mass shooting in modern US history.

Maybe it’ll be money: After Hurricanes and Las Vegas Shooting, Countries Warn Citizens About Travel to U.S. I’m not sure what awful things will be required in order for us to have the conversations, but I better start praying NOW, because they’re going to be horrific.