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Friday, November 17, 2017

Rant #2,026: Nothing From Nothing

Let's talk about nothing today.

That's right, nothing.

What is happening in the wide world that we live in that is worth talking about?

Well, we have those basketball players, those supposed academic students who acted academically deficient when they misbehaved in China, but I have already spoken about that.

How about the latest sexual hijinks of our favorite entertainers and politicians?

This whole shebang has gotten to be ridiculous, women finally remembering that they were groped, spun around, talked about cheaply, looked at funny, or were actually sexually assaulted years and years ago.

It's Bill Cosby all over again, and half the stuff I don't believe for a minute. The other half, well, once again, where were these women when these sordid events actually happened? Why did they not report these indiscretions right then, and not years later?

I guess they didn't think they were so sordid until now.

And no, I have no skeletons in my closet related to either of these two stories.

I never shoplifted anything, and I never groped or sexually assaulted any woman in my life.

I will tell you a story about my supposed shoplifting episode.

Way, way back, it must have been about 1969 or so, I went to my local card shop in the mall in our community, Rochdale Village, South Jamaica, Queens.

I had been going there since the first day it opened to buy my monthly ration of comic books and bubblegum cards, so I was very well known by the proprietor of the establishment.

One day, I walked into the card shop looking for the latest issue of Superman or Batman or Justice League or Daredevil or Spider-Man or whatever it was.

As I was wont to do, right after I found the comics that I wanted to buy, I would wander to other sections of the store to see what they had available. I often bought magazines there, too, and sometimes other things, like board games and books.

This day, I wandered to the back of the store, where they had small toys stocked, pretty much out in the open.

I looked at some things, and then, didn't find anything I wanted to buy, and proceeded up to the counter to pay for my comic books.

But before I could get there, the proprietor grabbed my arm.

"I saw you grab stuff and put it in your pocket!" he yelled at me.

"You're making a mistake. I never did that!" I yelled back.

Well, he made me clean out my pockets, of both my pants and my jacket.

He, of course, found nothing.

"Hmmphf!" came out of his mouth.

"How could you accuse me of this?" I said. "I am in here all the time. You know me," I said.

I went to the counter, paid for my comics, and that was that.

No apology. No nothing.

If I remember correctly, other people I knew also got nabbed at the same time for supposedly stealing stuff from the store, so I guess they had had some shoplifting episodes at the store, and anyone around a certain age was suspect.

But no, I never took anything from that store, not even a piece of penny bubblegum ... and I continued to go to that store for my comic books and bubblegum cards.

And I never shoplifted anything from anywhere.

So that is my supposed "shoplifting" story, something that I was accused of, but never happened.

So yes, I spoke about nothing today, because I never shoplifted, never groped any women ... it's just not my style.

So when you are with me, you have no reason to think anything like these things are going to happen.

Unfortunately, we have found that some people in this world cannot make the same declaration, and that is truly sad.

Have a good weekend, and I will speak to you again on Monday.

Classic Rant #679 (February 22, 2012): Superman

With all this talk about the New York Knicks' Jeremy Lin, the greatest basketball player I ever saw once played right here on Long Island.

Julius Erving turns 62 today, and it seems like eons ago that he did his thing as a member of the American Basketball Association's (ABA) New York Nets right here in my own backyard.

The ABA was a fledgling league, trying to compete against the behemoth National Basketball Association (NBA).

The only way I can put it into contemporary terms is the Total Non-Stop Action (TNA, now Impact) wrestling group competing against World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).

They exist, but certainly aren't equal.

The same could be said about the ABA vs. the NBA.

The ABA sought to bring high-quality, professional basketball to areas the were under-served by the NBA, basketball hotbeds like Indiana, Kentucky and Florida. They had a red, white and blue basketball, and featured a three-point line.

But they need a New York-area team to solidify the league, and the New York Nets--nee the Americans, out of New Jersey--was that team.

They played in the brand-spanking new Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum--at that time considered a state of the art arena--and they had the league's marquee player, Long Island's own Julius Erving, from Roosevelt, who the league forced the Virginia Squires to basically give to the Nets to make the league stronger.

Julius Erving was a forward who did things that no other player at the time could do. With his major afro sprouting out of his head and giving punctuation to everything he did, Erving flew threw the air like a black Superman.

His dunks started at the foul line and his other moves were a combination of Oscar Robertson, Bob Cousy and certainly Houdini.

Frankly, even in this second-class league, he was the most exciting basketball player on the planet in the early 1970s. There wasn't even anyone near him, and the NBA knew it.

The Nets won the final ABA championship, and I was there for every home game in their run. It was a great run, and the Nets were a great team.

After that 1975-1976 season, the two leagues merged, with a couple of teams from the ABA absorbed by the NBA. It looked real good for the ABA champion Nets to compete equally against the rival New York Knicks.

But the ownership of the Nets found they could not afford Erving and pay the NBA the millions that it owed them to get into the league, and Erving was basically handed over to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Erving had a stellar career with the 76ers, and is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame.

The Nets moved to New Jersey, had a few good seasons, but have been second class to the Knicks in the New York metropolitan area. Even in their good years, the Nets found that the Knicks owned this territory, and they will probably find out the same thing when the Nets move to Brooklyn next season.

During his ABA years, Julius Erving was to the ABA what Michael Jordan years later was to the NBA: their marquee player, the player that even non-fans knew.

But to me, Julius Erving was the greatest single basketball player I ever saw.

Sorry Michael Jordan, during those ABA years, you couldn't even carry Erving's jock strap.

Happy birthday, Dr. J. You really were something else during those ABA years!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Rant #2,025: Backfield In Motion

The despicable episode involving the three UCLA college basketball players who shoplifted while in China is evidently over, but the repercussions will be felt for a long time to come

The three players--LiAngelo Ball, Codey Riley and Jalen Hill--had a news conference yesterday upon their return to the United States, and apologized for their actions.

They even said it would never happen again.

You're darn right it won't happen again, because these players--who caused an international incident of epic proportions, brought shame to their country and their school, and needed the assistance of our President to be set free--should never set foot on a basketball court again.

Right now, they simply have been suspended from their team, and their coach said in order to get back on the team, "They will have to earn it."

Why they have not been expelled from UCLA--which is supposed to be a college of education--is beyond my comprehension.

If you remember the incident, the three players, who were in China because their team was going to open its season there, shoplifted pricey sunglasses from three stores near their hotel.

They were caught red handed, as the stolen merchandise was found in their belongings.

If they were convicted, they could have spent many years in prison, but then luck prevailed.

President Trump was in China in talks with the Chinese president Xi Jinping, where they were meeting to discuss matters of international interest, such as China's relationship with North Korea.

But China is a basketball hot bed at the moment. Since Western-style basketball became all the rage when Yao Ming came to the NBA in 1989, basketball might be the most popular sport played in China, and thus, high-profile teams that schedule international jaunts are not uncommon.

Enter UCLA, perhaps the most famous college basketball program in the country, with a legacy that stretches from coach John Wooden to player Lew Alcindor.

Anyway, the talks between the two leaders got to basketball, and President Trump was well aware of the situation that happened with the three basketball players. He intervened, the Chinese president listened, and a deal was worked out.

The players came home yesterday, and they were treated like rock starts, with cameras blazing and reporters copying down and recording every word they said.

And yes, the speeches seemed prepared, written for the players to say, perhaps by the school itself.

You can be sure that when the team scheduled this trip, all personnel who would be going were told how to behave, what to do and what not to do.

I am sure they were told the "when in Rome, do as the Romans do" rules, applied to China, of course.

But I guess all of this went over some players' heads.

And now we have these three truants, who brought shame to so many, including their own families.

Yes, they should be permanently suspended from the team, and expelled from the school, too.

And if that happens, they will just find a place with another school, where they will play more basketball than they will be educated.

That is wrong in and of itself, but if any of this trio ever sets foot on the basketball court again in a UCLA uniform, that will be even more wrong.

Let them have their second chance somewhere else, and let them make the most of it, the right way.

Classic Rant #678 (February 17, 2012): An Amalgam of Interesting (Sort Of) Stories

Not much is doing right now, or not much is doing that I care to write a long-form essay about here on this blog.

But there are bits and pieces of things that I do care to mention.

Here they are.

Fortune Cookie Flap: Yes, this Jeremy Lin thing has gotten out of hand, even for a Knicks fan like me. The latest nonsense is that some people evidently got offended when MSG Network, the network that broadcasts Knicks games, showed a graphic of Lin over a fortune cookie and with the text, "The Knicks' Good Fortune." People believed it perpetuated a stereotype, and should not have been shown.

Early reports were that the graphic was designed by the MSG Network itself, but the network denies it, saying they took the graphic from one of the many signs that have been designed and held up by fans--many of Chinese descent, like Lin--in arenas where the Knicks have played. These arenas are beginning to resemble WWE Raw and Smackdown tapings, where fans are encouraged to hold up signs with messages that can be seen on air when these shows are broadcast.

I saw the graphic, kind of cringed myself, because I just knew some people would be offended, but the fact of the matter is, we live in a politically correct world, and the sign maker should have known that this would get some people crazy.

Yes, I did say crazy.

New Jersey Flags Fly At Half Staff For Whitney Houston: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has decided that bucking the unwritten rules for such a thing, that New Jersey flags will fly at half staff for singer Whitney Houston during her funeral this weekend.

Usually, flags are flown in this matter to honor a President or a prominent legislator's passing, or to honor a fallen police officer or soldier, not for an entertainer.

The thing that gets me is that Christie has the nerve to liken Houston's death to the death of these people, justifying his decision by putting it into the cultural sense of the comparison. Yes, Houston was born and lived in Newark, but she probably hadn't been back to her old neighborhood in decades, and to do this for not only an entertainer, but a drug abuser, I mean, come on now.

We all know why Christie made his decision--to help others, specific others, make a decision about him in the 2016 Presidential race.

Several Teachers Arrested or Disciplined For Child Endangerment Issues in New York City Schools: Just this week, four teachers have been arrested, or at the very least disciplined, for some odd behavior directed toward New York City school students, including possessing pedophilia, touching kids inappropriately and having kids send Christmas cards to a convict in jail who is incarcerated on gun and child pornography charges.

What this says about the system that allowed these skunks to get hired in the first place speaks volumes about why the New York City school system is in such a mess, and has been for about the past 40-plus years.

And it also says something about Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who closes schools rather than fixes them. He would rather close a school than be more cognizant about who is being hired as instructors in his schools.

And through all this, my daughter still can't get a job as a teacher.

Rising Fuel Prices: I am sure you have noticed that when you go to the pump to get gas, that the prices have skyrocketed. Right here on Long Island, I recently paid $3.79 a gallon, and that is relatively "cheap" compared to other places, where gas is pushing $4 a gallon and probably will be there really soon.

Why have prices skyrocketed like this, and right in the middle of winter, when they aren't supposed to be so high?

The nuclear threat by Iran is threatening our gas supply, and thus, pushing up the price of gas to record levels for this time of year.

What can we do about it? Absolutely nothing. We have to just grin and bear it, but I'm not grinning and I am barely bearing it, too.

Baseball's Gary Carter Passes: He put up a brave fight, but Hall of Famer Gary Carter finally succumbed to brain cancer, at just 57 years of age.

He had a sterling 19-year career as a catcher for several teams, but really rose to fame as one of the main members of the 1986 World Champion Mets. He was liked by just about everyone, and more importantly, he was one of the most respected players of his generation.

Sure, he had faults. He wanted to be a manager so badly that he grandstanded for the Mets' job a few years back while Willie Randolph was still managing the team.

But I guess most of us, even Yankees fans like myself, will always remember his determination for what he was doing. It was infectious, as anyone on that Mets team could tell you.

He will be missed.

Speak to you again on Wednesday. In addition to having the holiday off, I have a funeral to go to, so I won't be back until mid-week. Have a nice holiday.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Rant #2,024: The Turkey

You would think that I would make this post a week from today, the actual day before Thanksgiving, but I am going to do it today because the holiday's feast is going to be delivered to my house sometime later this week or early next week.

That's right, this year, no one in my family will be cooking the bird from the start, making the side dishes, etc.

I have elected that we are going to have this done for us, and all we are going to have to do is to thaw and heat these things up.

Honestly, I would rather have it the old fashioned way, where either my wife, my sister, or my mother does everything from scratch, but when it was apparent that that situation was not going to present itself this year, I had to take a stand, and I did just that.

That is not to say that we won't have some side dishes freshly made, but the main dish and other dishes are going to be made by others.

We are planning to have Thanksgiving dinner at my sister's house--she insisted she wanted to do it this year--but there is a lot of turmoil in that house right now.

Everyone in the house has been sick off and on for weeks, and my brother in law just came out of out-patient surgery. He is getting stronger every day, but from what I hear, he is still suffering a bit.

My sister has her youngest son coming in from college, and he has also been under the weather, driving home with a fever.

And then we have my sister, who, as you can imagine, is as run down as can be.

But on top of that fact, she is serving in a new, extremely demanding position, and seemingly is working 24 hours a day to make this position right.

So yes, as you can see, there is the burnout factor here, and if she insists on having Thanksgiving at here house, with everything going on, I just decided last Saturday morning that enough was enough.

If we were going to have it at her house, we were going to have it MY way, because it is the only way.

So what I did was to scour the Internet and do my turkey homework, finding the best pre-made Thanksgiving dinner for the buck.

I spent some time doing that, found what I thought was the best package deal, and went with it.

And no, I did not know that the dinner would be delivered by FedEx--that's right, FedEx--sometime late this week, a few days prior to the holiday.

So what we are going to have to do--and I am assuming all of this pre-preparation--we are going to have to keep what is sent to us in the freezer, thaw it early Thanksgiving morning, and either heat it up at my house and bring it over to my sister's house hot or bring the whole thing over to my sister and have her do it.

She lives like 15 minutes away from where I do, so it is really no big deal how we do it.

But that is how it is going to be this year, and if it is good, it is good, if it isn't, well, as they say, "you can only die once."

Circumstances beyond our control are forcing our hand this year, and there is a lot of stuff I am not telling you about why it has to be done this way this year, but you will just have to go with what I told you.

But whatever the case, the main thing is that whatever we eat, and no matter where it came from, we are going to celebrate the holiday with family this year, and that is the best way to do Thanksgiving, whether you are having a banquet or eating your turkey out of a TV dinner tray.

I can almost taste it right now.

Classic Rant #677 (February 16, 2012): The Prototype For All Who Followed

Did you like the Supremes in the 1960s?

How about Honey Cone in the 1970s?

Maybe you also liked En Vogue later on, or maybe Destiny's Child?

All of these groups were made up of female singers, usually about three, with one standout as lead singer.

They all had numerous hits that we still hum today.

But for the prototype to these girl groups, you have to go back to the 1930s and 1940s, to a threesome--actually three sisters--who had hit after hit after hit, especially during the years of World War II.

I am talking about the Andrews Sisters, and specifically Patty Andrews, who turns 94 today.

She led her two sisters--Maxene and LaVerne--to a solid legacy of hits during those war years.

The songs are as well known today as they were when they were new--"Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," (I'll Be With You) in Apple Blossom Time," and "Rum and Coca-Cola."

Between 1938 and 1955, they placed more than 100 songs on the charts.

And they appeared in numerous movies. I am, of course, especially fond of their appearances with Abbott and Costello, especially in "Buck Privates," where they performed "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy."

You just know Bette Midler probably saw this film 100 times before she did her cover version of the tune.

Another one of their hits that is near my heart is "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen," which translates to "To Me You're Beautiful," a Yiddish tune from an obscure musical. Although the Andrews Sisters were not Jewish, their version retained the title, turned the lyrics into English via lyricist Sammy Cahn, and had their first No. 1 hit with this tune in 1938.

In my family, this song has become something of legend. I can only imagine how important this song was to American Jews at the time, just based on its prevalence in my family.

I can just remember that my aunt used to sing a few bars of it, and it would make my grandmother so happy to hear it. To this day, whenever I hear the song, I get goosebumps just remembering the smile on my grandmother's face. She is long gone now, but I will never forget that smile she had from that tune.

The Andrews Sisters had a strained relationship from early on, and it blew up in the 1950s.

Maxene and LaVerne are long gone, and Patty carries the mantle today, retired and living in California.

However they got along with each other, the Andrews Sisters made some absolutely great recordings. Their influence stretched into the emergence of rock and roll.

Whenever a new girl group comes around, you can thank the Andrews Sisters. They set the bar, and although often imitated, few have reached their level of success.

Happy birthday, Patty. Myself and so many others would like to say to you, "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen."

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Rant #2,023: You Got the Look

Today, I am going to talk about people who I believe have got "the look."

I can't explain exactly what "the look" is, but they have something that resonates with their audience, including me.

I guess it is a certain self confidence that they project, even if inwardly, they are like you and I, with a lot of self doubt, but they at least project that they are way beyond those things, and have a confident guise.

The first person that I want to talk about who has "the look" is the New York Yankees' Aaron Judge.

Yesterday, he won the American League Rookie of the Year Award in a unanimous vote, one of the few ballplayers ever to do that.

Yes, I guess "the look" includes the fact that he hit 52 home runs during the regular season, that he knocked in over 100 runs, that he score more than 100 runs, etc., but "the look" goes much deeper than that.

Judge, who is just 25 years old, handles himself in an exemplary way that goes way beyond his years. He never talks about himself, always shifting the focus to the team, and he is as humble as can be when put in the position where he has to speak about himself.

When the Rookie of the Year Award was announced yesterday evening, he had his parents with him, and like the commentators said, even at 6 feet seven inches, he will always be their little boy.

And another person with "the look" is someone I have learned to respect for her conciseness, her clarity, and yes--no, don't claim I am sexually harassing her by saying this--her beauty ...

And all of this at 4 a.m. in the morning.

I am talking about news anchor Anne-Marie Green, who helms CBS News' early morning broadcast at that ungodly hour of the morning during weekdays.

Having been at her post since early 2013, Green presents the news in an easy to understand way, in particular for people who are just getting up from bed.

She appears to be quite laid back--maybe it is because she is Canadian--but she has a nice speaking voice, and never overloads viewers with too much information, preferring the direct approach to reporting news.

And she doesn't overdo it in the fashion department, either. Where so many of these female news anchors seemingly dress not for presenting the news, but for a night out on the town, Green keeps it simple and light in her choice of apparel, and that is the right choice for this broadcast.

And she is 46 years of age, looks about 26, and she is kinda cute (again, no harassment charges against me, just stating what I see from my male point of view).

Yes, she has "the look" by my definition.

Personally, I do not have "the look."

I feel tired, burnt out, worn out from worry over my job, and my back right at the moment is bothering me.

I try to put on a good face about it, but right now, as we enter the holiday season, I am probably not at my best.

I am in the middle of a period of drudgery, and heaven knows that if I could--and if my wife could--I would retire, and live out my life as I see fit, on my own terms.

But I can't do it, my wife can't do it, so we just have to go with the flow.

My sanctuary is home, and when I get home from a long day at the job, that is probably the only place I have "the look."

Congratulations to Judge and Green, they seem to have "the look."

I am not comparing myself to them, but at this point in my life, "the look" probably went the way of Look magazine--a nice memory, but it doesn't exist anymore.

Yes, I am the hamster on the wheel in the cage, just going on and on without getting anywhere, but at least I do have my family and my health, so while I don't have what I define as "the look," I do have some things that are elusive to so many others.

So yes, I should stop complaining.


Classic Rant #676 (February 15, 2012): Lin-Sanity

" ... and we might have seen the birth of a new star in the name of one Jeremy Lin."

Yes, check back a couple of Rants ago--#669--and you will see that I jumped on the Jeremy Lin (#17 in the photo) bandwagon before one was hitched up and sent into the ether.

I said that this guy might be the savior that the Knicks were looking for, only to have him sitting at the end of the bench all along.

And with last night's sixth straight win, this time against the Toronto Raptors on what else, Asian Appreciation Night--punctuated by Lin's game-winning three-point shot with less than a second to play--I think this guy is the real deal.

I did when I saw him in person at Madison Square Garden, and I do now.

Lin's ascent from benchwarmer to multi-media hero is unprecedented. I can't remember another time when such a thing happened, or at least happened with quite the splash that this has created.

Here is a guy who looks like the guy you sat next to in your classes who seemed so at ease in getting all the answers right. He looks like the guy who was your next door neighbor way back when. He looks like the guy who was the last picked to play in pickup games.

But he isn't any one of these.

Everyone knows his name, even if you aren't a basketball fan. People are buying up his jerseys as if he were Michael Jordan. He is on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week, and he has ruled the back pages of the New York tabloids for more than a week now.

But who is this guy?

He grew up on the West Coast, and actually, was a fine athlete in high school and college. He wasn't drafted, but managed to work his way onto the radar, and was actually cut by two teams before the Knicks signed him.

And yes, he was slated to be cut by the Knicks before his "coming out party" at Madison Square Garden nearly two weeks ago.

And yes, he is Asian. Not too many Asians play in the NBA. And he is American-born, which makes him a complete oddity, because almost all the other Asian players who have played in the league have actually come from Asia, such as Yao Ming, who was born in China.

There have been a few others, but none of them have made quite the splash that Jeremy Lin has.

And his race is immaterial, really: everyone seems to gravitate towards this guy, who is playing out all of our fantasies.

Wouldn't we all like to be the unrecognized guy who saves the universe? It plays out like a movie, doesn't it?

In 1968, the Knicks made a brutal trade that ended up making the franchise a perpetual winner in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

The traded two popular and talented players, Walt Bellamy and Howard Komives, to the Detroit Pistons for Dave DeBusschere. DeBusschere was a superior athlete who also played Major League Baseball, and he was now devoting himself full-time to basketball. He even coached the Pistons briefly, so this guy had a head to go with his hands and legs, so to speak.

In his first game as a New York Knick, he galvanized the Garden crowd to the point that Bellamy and Komives were mere after-thoughts, and the rest is history. With DeBusschere as starting forward, the Knicks won two NBA championships from 1969-1973, and became the hottest ticket in town.

I was actually at DeBusschere's first game as a Knick. I went with my dad, and the Garden was electric.

It was as if everyone knew that this guy was the savior, the guy who would lead the Knicks to the promised land.

Well, I went with my own son to the Garden when Jeremy Lin had his own, rather different entrance into Knicks' history.

It is funny how things work out that way, isn't it?

And the way Lin and the Knicks are playing, I hope this craziness never ends.

It's great for sports, great for basketball, and yes, it's great for me too.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Rant #2,022: Calling Dr. Love

Let me begin by wishing a belated happy Veterans Day to all the military veterans out there.

This includes my father and father-in-law, as well as my brother-in-law, all of whom served proudly in the armed forces.

I hope they all had a good day.

We salute you all, even though some football players kneel in your face.

Your valor and service have allowed them to do so, although they are too ignorant to realize this.

Anyway, on Veterans Day, we celebrated my wife's birthday. We went to a local restaurant of her choosing, and had a nice time.

The main crux of this rant has nothing to do with either Veterans Day or my wife's birthday; it has to do with recent comments by Kiss frontman Gene Simmons about working mothers.

Simmons recently drew a lot of criticism when he basically knocked the notion of women having both family and careers at the same time.

Via an interview with the New York Post, Simmons said, "It's natural to want to have kids, but sorry, you can't have it both ways. You have to commit to either career or family. It's very difficult to have both."

Of course, the social media universe responded to what Simmons said, but he is basically right. It IS very hard to juggle a career and family, but of course, few want to hear the truth.

Look, in today's world, women almost have to work, if for nothing else, than family economics. Families need two incomes to exist today, and thus, both fathers and mothers not only need to work as part of their careers, they need to work because of economics.

But don't tell me that the family unit, and primarily kids, do not suffer because one parent is at home as they are growing up and going to school.

Traditionally, that has been the woman, but really, it an be either the mother or father that I am talking about here.

Kids are left to fend for themselves too much today, and the leaves giant holes in their upbringings, holes which are filled with everything from social media to much worse behavior.

Years ago, when many women did not work, kids came home from school with their moms at home, and I do believe this situation made the family unit more cohesive. Having mom home gave kids direction, and they were less apt to get into trouble with a parent at home.

And again, that dynamic started to change in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when women with careers were starting to be taken seriously.

Yes, it has to do with, as a I said earlier, economics. You simply cannot survive today without both the mother and father working. It cannot be done, unless one of the parents is making an extraordinary amount of money.

Middle class people cannot survive on one salary anymore.

But it does hurt the family unit to have both parents spending so much time away from that unit, and in the workplace.

So, at least the way I look at it, Simmons is correct in what he says, but he is not being realistic.

He is a high wage earner. Perhaps in his family, his salary can help his household exist without suffering.

But the last time I looked, he was married to Shannon Tweed, a popular actress with many B-films to her credit. He and she made headlines several years ago because he had a very difficult time committing to marrying her, but finally tied the knot against his lothario ways.

When she and Simmons married, she kind of left show business, but not entirely, so while the Kiss guy is kind of right in what he says, as most in Hollywood do, he doesn't practice what he preaches, to a certain extent.

But yes, I do believe the family unit has suffered over the past nearly 50 years, primarily because women went to work full time.

I was lucky, luckier than most of my counterparts. When I was a kid, my mother did not work, so she was home when I got home from school.

Most of my friends' moms worked, even back in the mid 1960s, so my situation was nearly unique among my peers.

But what a benefit it was to have my mother at home! My sister and I benefited enormously from her being there.

But things are different in 2017 than they were in 1967, and to maintain a middle class lifestyle, families need two incomes.

Heck, my wife would love to leave her job and be home for our son.

But it simply is not economically feasible.

So in conclusion, yes, Simmons was right on target with what he said.

But he is living in his own dream world if he believes that average American family can exist like his.

So I give him a thumb's up on his main point, but I give him a thumb's down on the reality of what he said.

It just won't work in 2017.

Classic Rant #675 (February 14, 2012): Playboy Boy Toy Rabbit Punched?

With all that is going on in the world, this is a story that completely came out of left field.

Marston Hefner, the son of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, was out on $20,000 bail after allegedly assaulting his live-in girlfriend, 2010 Playboy Playmate of the Year Claire Sinclair.

The younger Hefner, one of two sons that the older Hefner had with his former wife, 1989 Playboy Playmate of the Year Kimberly Conrad, was arrested on a charge of misdemeanor domestic violence. He paid his bail, and there is no court date yet set.

And to have all of this happen right before Valentine's Day ...

The younger Hefner has been brought up in an idyllic lifestyle, the very rich son of a very rich man. What young Marson does for a living is anyone's guess.

He has been surrounded by a bounty of babes since the day he was born 21 years ago.

He co-habitates with a woman barely out of her teens, and evidently, he competes with his dad and his brother Cooper for young babes.

At least neither one of the boys wears a sailor hat like their famous dad.

Honestly, I can't figure the Hefner family out.

They worship women, use them for their own benefit, the women use the Hefners for their own benefit, and everybody is happy.

Until now.

This puts a stain on the older Hefner's reputation as a champion for women's rights.

Of course, it is his right to have used them to make a fortune that most of us can only dream about.

But domestic violence is another thing altogether.

All the older Hefner could say about his son's arrest was that, "If they care about each other, they'll patch it up."

Yup, that's it. I guess the older Hefner wants to distance himself from his son.

But the older Hefner appears to be somewhat guilty by association, if for nothing more than providing a lifestyle for his kids where they evidently don't know right from wrong.

I will give the older Hefner one thing: he took nothing and made something out of it, something huge. To this day, he is a hard worker, although he kind of looks like a dirty old man at this point in time.

His kids were born with silver spoons in their mouths, and that often isn't a good sign.

Hopefully, the younger Hefner will right his ways, and get on with his life, whatever that life actually is.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Rant #2,021: Celebrate

Today is my wife's XXth birthday.

I won't tell you how old she is, but I can tell you that if you didn't know her, and was asked to guess her age, I sincerely doubt that you would get it correct.

She looks way younger than her age, because she meticulously takes care of herself.

No fried foods, no overdoing anything, lots of exercise and lots of water.

And she is married to me. That has to keep her young (and I have a bridge to sell you if you believe that).

But all kidding aside, I love this lady inside and out. She is the greatest thing that ever happened to me, and I feel that I am the most fortunate person on the face of the earth to be married to her.

She was born in Brooklyn, like I was, and later moved with her family to the Rockaways in Queens.

Since you are so close to the water there, you are like a fish, and she is a fantastic swimmer.

And she looks good in a bathing suit, too, which is an added plus.

She is a great daughter, a great sister, and a great mother and wife.

She is also a hard worker, and as a Scorpio, I think that she often takes things too seriously.

My wife needs to relax sometimes, and believe me, I know it is a difficult task, what with myself and our son to keep tabs on, on top of working a full time job like she does.

My wife is educated and beautiful, and she loves "The Walking Dead."

She also loves Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli.

My wife loves a good beer or a good glass of wine. Not at the same time, though.

She also loves me and our son, so I don't know where we fit into all of this, but somehow, we do.

My wife has been up and down like the weather has been lately. One week she is sick, the next she is fine, and then, some of the sickness comes back.

She recently had a lung infection--we have no idea how she got that--and the recovery has been surprisingly and annoyingly slow, but she is strong, and she is getting better all the time.

She is definitely my better half, no doubt about it, even when she is under the weather.

So on her birthday, I wish her a great day and that she have many more birthdays that in my own little way, I can share with her.

To me, she is the greatest lady on the planet, and like I said, I often have to pinch myself to make sure that I am not dreaming--I am married to this woman? But I open my eyes, and yes, it's true!

To paraphrase an old song, I'm stone in love with her.

Happy birthday, babe!

And to her and everyone else, have a great weekend. and a great Veterans Day. Speak to you again on Monday.

Classic Rant #674 (February 13, 2012): Another Completely Senseless Loss

Yes, the music world suffered another tremendous loss with the death of Whitney Houston on Saturday.

She was extremely talented, and took the music world by storm during the 1980s and 1990s.

But the music world had passed her by by the mid-1990s. She made more headlines regarding her marriage and her drug use than for her recordings.

She had comebacks, all of them fizzled, and she really had become something of an icon of the time, and certainly a major influence on female singers who came after her.

But let's not deify her, as the press and much of the public is doing.

Like they did with Michael Jackson, underneath all the talent, there was a terrible dark side to this woman that unfortunately probably led to her death at such a young age, at just 48 years old.

Houston was raised in Newark, New Jersey, an area that long has long been ravaged with the evils of drug use. I am sure she saw this first hand, maybe even right outside her doorstep, but even though she was raised in the church by her parents, including her mom, pop/gospel great Cissy Houston, it didn't stop her from her own drug ravages once she hit the big time.

And it affected her mindset and her talent. It also didn't help that she married a fellow drug user, Bobby Brown, another talented performer who not only abused drugs, but we later found out, abused his wife.

Both drugs and age played havoc on Houston's career.

No matter what anyone says, she wasn't going to have that angelic voice for her whole life. People get older, and voices do change, even for singers.

Listen to Frank Sinatra. His voice was much different in the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s and beyond. Mix in age with cigarettes and alcohol, and what do you expect?

Well, Houston mixed in age with alcohol and cocaine and heaven knows what else, and it took its toll on her, physically, mentally and emotionally--and professionally.

It's one thing when you do drugs when you are younger--the body can often withstand so much when you are in you 20s. But when you continue to do this garbage when you are in your 40s, there is much less room for error.

Even if you give Houston the benefit of the doubt here--let's say she died of "natural" causes, something we might not find out for weeks or months--she ravaged her body with this garbage, making it weaker than it should have been for a person of her age.

She was just in rehab in the fall--what does that tell you?

Quit frankly, she slowly killed herself because of her out-of-control lifestyle.

And her own daughter is proving that the fruit doesn't fall far from the tree, because this young lady--the child of two drug abusers--has also reportedly been seen abusing drugs herself.

And that is the tale that the media should be telling here, not the flowery tale about how wonderful she was, making her into the female equivalent of Michael Jackson.

Houston and Jackson shared so many things, and for that matter, the parallels between Houston's demise and death of Judy Garland are frightening.

Houston, Jackson and Garland were all talents beyond normal talents, but had their lives extinguished because of drug abuse.

That is what the media should be covering. It is a cautionary tale about what can happen to even the brightest talents when they abuse themselves.

But that isn't what we are hearing, and again quite frankly, I am a bit sick of the whole thing.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Rant #2,020: On the Cover of the Rolling Stone

Good morning (or good afternoon or good evening, depending on when you are reading this).

Today is Thursday, November 9, 2017.

It is the 313th day of the year (in leap years, which 2017 is not one, it is the 314th day of the year).

It is the day before my wife's birthday, but to most of us, the day has other significance.

Let's look back 50 years to see what was happening on this day in the hallowed year of 1967.

We were still looking to put a man on the moon back then, and today, 50 years ago, NASA sent up one of the precursor spacecrafts to meet that goal, the unmanned Apollo IV, which was actually set into space sitting atop the first Saturn V rocket.

If only we had that sense of wonder in the intervening years and today, we would probably have been to at least Mars and back by now, but our attention--and money--turned to other affairs since the early 1970s.

Also, November 9 back in 1967 marked the day that the first issue of Rolling Stone magazine was published.

Say what you want to about Rolling Stone--and I certainly have--but back then, it represented a first--it was probably the first mass published magazine that looked at the burgeoning rock and roll scene, and its music, with some seriousness.

Before Rolling Stone, publications looked at rock and roll as nothing but a curiosity, a type of music by and for the young, and something to roll your eyes about.

Even those publications that were literally created to cover this scene--like Tiger Beat and magazines of that ilk--looked at rock and roll and its personalities like one looks at the animals in a zoo--soft and cuddly, and ready to take home--and these publications were generally geared to the young, pre-adolescent females in the rock and roll audience.

Up to the plate came Rolling Stone, which looked at rock and roll as something more than a teen fad, and more like the societal changer it was becoming.

It looked with reverence and seriousness at the music and the personalities it felt were energizing that scene, and it looked down at the other vestiges of rock and roll, in particular the corporate infiltration of that scene.

Rolling Stone loved the Beatles--its first cover featured John Lennon--but it hated any iteration of the Beatles that had any corporate ties, such as the Monkees.

It was the anti-Tiger Beat, so to speak, because it disdained the teen idol nature of rock and roll, preferring to look at this scene with a much more critical eye than the teenybopper magazines used.

And it was successful, so successful that magazines that kind of treaded the line between the teen idol magazines and the more critical eye used by Rolling Stone came into being, such as Creem, but back then, Rolling Stone was it.

Some will argue--including myself--that Rolling Stone died in 1974, when it published a nude centerfold of then red hot teen idol David Cassidy.

Others will argue that it died because it basically ate itself, so to speak, by becoming as corporate a magazine as it once disdained.

Still others will argue that its publisher, Jann Wenner, destroyed the magazine with his own well reported excesses and magazine missteps, including faulty reporting.

But whatever the case, Rolling Stone has stood the test of time, even though right at the current time, its identity is more entertainment and show business magazine than rock and roll magazine, although it still maintains that original ethic.

Whatever Rolling Stone is today, it celebrates its actual 50th anniversary today, so you have to give it kudos for that.

Yes, 1967 was a time of wonder, and these two historical occurrences that I wrote about here show how our collective, societal head was certainly in the clouds back then, but in a good way.

Classic Rant #673 (February 10, 2012): From the Folks Who Gave You "Head"

That was going to be the tagline if the Monkees' 1968 movie, "Head," was a success.

Producer Bert Schneider and director Bob Rafelson planned to use that tagline for their next movie.

Well, it didn't work out exactly as planned, although "Five Easy Pieces" and "Easy Rider" did follow, but without the connection to "Head," or for that matter, the Monkees.

I have brought up the film "Head" on this blog a number of times, and I am happy to say that this little film, which was one of the all-time bombs in its original theatrical run, has been constantly resurrected and looked at again since its debut 44 years ago.

It is a certified cult item, and has consistently taken on new life after it tanked all those years ago.

It has been deconstructed, taken apart piece by piece, and cut up by fans and critics alike, and no two people have the same opinion about the film.

It was re-released on DVD about two years ago as part of a major collection of films by Schneider and Rafelson, some of which, as in the case of "Five Easy Pieces" and "Easy Rider," changed Hollywood forever.

"Head" did not.

It was shown on the retro "Antenna TV" station just yesterday morning, and the station has said that after running it about a half dozen times over the past few months, it is putting the movie to bed, at least for now.

Rhino Records not only recently released a boxed set of the music from this movie, but also released a pristine, limited edition vinyl LP of the soundtrack last year.

Newsday, the Long Island newspaper, is doing its roundup of Oscar nominees, and one of its writers is listing his Top 20 personal movie favorites concurrent to the approaching awards show.

And the newspaper has asked readers to name their favorite movies of all time.

Well, "Head" is in there, courtesy of yours truly.

I wrote this long examination of the movie, included a film clip in my review, and I got my views into print ... well, a smidgen of my views, at least.

If you have Newsday, just check out page B13, and, at the bottom of the page, you will see the seven lines the newspaper gave me to explain a film that you would need about 200 pages to fully dissect.

"My favorite film is the unappreciated "Head," starring the Monkees and an array of guest stars (including Frank Zappa and Sonny Liston). It pokes fun at the movies and our way of life at the time. Every time I see it, I see something new."

That's what they printed. The paper's entertainment editor wrote me an email back, and said I made a great choice.

I just wish they would have printed more, but I guess it will have to do.

I checked out the website, and it's not there either.

The explanation they printed is fine, but it really doesn't do the film justice.

Not only are we witnessing the deconstruction of the Monkees, a pop phenomenon the likes of which makes Justin Bieber look like a Milli Vanilli wannabe, but we are also seeing Hollywood being deconstructed too.

Never has a film killed off its own stars while, at the same time, killed off its very reason for being.

Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. Schneider, who recently passed away, and Rafelson didn't bite this hand, they chopped it off piece by piece by piece.

And to follow "Head" with the two "Easy" films, and to have those two films be so influential and successful, shows just how spot on "Head" really was in opening the door for these then "new" types of films with not stars, but really "anti-stars" like Peter Fonda, Jack Nicholson, and Dennis Hopper.

And it all started with the Monkees jumping off a bridge.

If you haven't seen "Head," it is a must for any student of film, or even if you just love the movies.

I guarantee that you will shake your head after seeing this movie, wonder what all the fuss was about, and then proceed to watch it again to figure out just what this film was trying to say.

It is that good, and that bewildering at the same time.

(It is online now at

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Rant #2,019: Why? Why? Why?

Yes, I was at my polling place right at 6 a.m. yesterday so I could vote and get the heck out of there.

I was surprised to find so many people wanting to vote, since this is considered to be an off-year election.

I went up to the sign-in desk for my particular area, the woman asked me what street I lived on and my name, she checked these things off and gave me my paper ballot.

And then she asked me —

"What party are you a member of?"

I must have done a double take. Since I was 18 years old, I have gone to this polling place to vote, and in all of those years, I have never been asked this question.

She continued, "Are you a member of the Democratic Party —" as she picked up a white piece of paper that looked like it was torn out of notebook to record my reply.

As I probably did a double take, I replied, "Why are you asking me this question?"

"Are you a member of the Republican Party — "

"Why are you asking me this question. It is none of your business."

Another lady ran over to where I was, who I found out was the woman's supervisor.

"Our supervisor asked us to ask this question," she said.

"Well, it is still none of your business."

I walked away, went to the area where you are supposed to fill out your ballot, and found that of the five booths set up, at least two that I saw did not have pens attached so that you can fill out your ballot.

Then I went into a booth that had a pen, and the pen was not working ... until another voter showed me how to use it.

I then went over to the area where my ballot was read by machine, inserted my ballot, and waited for it to give me the OK.

When I did so, I went over to the place where I checked in.

"Why are you asking such a question?" referring to the "what party are you a member of" question of a few minutes before. "I don't know if that is illegal, but it is completely unethical to be doing that."

"We were asked to ask the question of voters, but if we see that people are going to get upset, I don't think we will continue to do so," said one of the women manning that area.

I exited the polling place, bought myself breakfast, and drove to work. When I got there, I used my cell phone to call the Nassau County Board of Elections.

I got someone on the phone, and she took down all of the information. She said they would check into it, but she never really answered me about why such a question was being asked in the first place.

I came into work, spoke to a woman from another, neighboring county about this, and no, she was not asked this question when she voted.

Someone else at my work said it all "has to do with Donald Trump," and yes, I am sure he came back from his Asia trip incommunicado just to see that my particular polling place asked such a question. And yes, I know that since it rained yesterday, it was the President's doing, too.

Back to the point ... why was such a question asked in the first place?

As you know, I happen to be an Independent voter, and I do not belong to any political party. I believe that I vote the right way--for the candidate, not the party--and I did it again this time, voting for those under the Republican, Democrat, Liberal and Conservative banners.

But whose business is it what party I am a member of, or anyone is a member of?

If this is supposed to be a secret ballot, then it is also supposed to be a secret what party one is affiliated with.

In my case, it is a moot point, but how about others who are being asked the same question?

Illegal, probably not. Unethical, yes, I believe it is.

I contacted my mother, who will vote later in the day with my father and my son, and I told them what to expect. My mother said she will refuse to answer the question.

Good for her.

Has anyone else experienced such an invasion of privacy at their polling place?

And again, I ask the same question: Why was this information asked of me?

I don't blame the President, nor do I blame Hillary Clinton, or even Chicken Little.

No, this isn't Watergate, just let's call it Votegate and hope it never happens again.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Rant #2,018: My Candidate

Happy Election Day to all!

We should all go out and vote today. 

It really doesn't matter who we vote for; just go to your local polling place and do your civic duty.

I have heard some people say, "Hey, it isn't an election year, so I am not voting."

That is balderdash. It is an "election year" for the candidates who are running, and yes, it is important to vote.

And various areas have referendums to either approve or disapprove, so it isn't that we are voting for nothing this year.

Let's look back on what I wrote about the day in Rant #1,316, dated November 4, 2014. 

What I said three years ago still rings true today. Here it is in an edited format:

"Today is Election Day, and it is time to employ your civic duty and vote during the national election day being held today.

No, we are not voting for President, but this is a mid-term election, so who we vote for pretty much demonstrates how much faith we have in our President and his policies.

But whoever you vote for, get down to the polling place and vote.

But no, I won't monitor you to see if you are voting.

It really isn't my business who you vote for, just that you vote.

All I can say is that it is time to judge those running on what they have done during their most recent terms, and to remove those who haven't lived up to the standards that we voted on these men and women to uphold.

I am probably going to mix it up quite a bit--I am going to vote for Democrats, Republicans, Conservatives, Liberals ... .

You have to stand by your convictions. I can look myself in the mirror, and I can say I did a good job voting.

How many other people can say that, especially if you vote on only a single party, especially with a chance to really make a difference this year?

Anyway, the most important thing is to get out and vote.

And I plan on doing that when my polling place opens in a little more than an hour.

Will you be doing the same, or sitting on your tuckus and dong nothing today?

Get out and vote.

It is your civic duty."

I still feel exactly the same way. 

Today is the day to get your voice heard, and there is no reason not to vote.

Look how many people took it for granted that Hillary Clinton was a shoo-in to be our next president over Donald Trump, and decided that they shouldn't waste their time, because it was a sure thing ... well, it wasn't.

So do it!

Classic Rant #671 (February 8, 2012): First Radio, Then the World!

Today is the 90th anniversary of something that seems innocuous, at best, but was pretty revolutionary for its time.

On this date in 1922, President Warren G. Harding had a radio installed in the White House.

Well, this is no big deal in the context of today's world, but back then, this was pretty awesome.

Radio really hadn't been around too long back in 1922, but it was the first of the electronic mediums to usurp newspapers' hold on us as a deliverer of news.

So putting up a radio in the White House pretty much signaled an acceptance of this medium by the American public.

If the president could have one of these newfangled things in the White House, it was OK for the general public to have it in their houses too.

And Presidents have learned to weave the use of electronic mediums into their political lives. They make speeches, they appear regularly on whatever electronic medium is in vogue, and they have learned that these electronic mediums can be wonderful, but they can also be a curse.

But looking back to a simpler time, tthose radios, they were pretty ornate. I guess you had to have them "installed" in your home. They were like a piece of furniture that talked to you.

And for about the next 25 years, radio was the electronic medium of choice, until television took over in the late 1940s.

But for Harding to put a radio in the White House when there really wasn't even an electronic medium to speak of is something incredible.

It's probably the most impressive thing he did during his term ... do you know anything else that he did when he was in office?

As a President, he is nothing but a footnote in our history. And that's saying a lot about this guy.

But radio was the standard for about 25 years. Not only did it deliver news on the spot, but it delivered entertainment, sports, and probably the first instance of "white noise" in our history.

But it, too, was pushed out of the way by television, which right now, is being pushed out of the way by the Internet.

What electronic marvel will come next to make the Internet obsolete?

Who knows, but it all may have started with Warren Harding.

Show your friends how smart you are by telling them you actually know something about him.

I guarantee that they will be impressed.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Classic Rant #672 (February 9, 2012): Eight Arms To Hold You

Today is the 48th anniversary of one of the most memorable TV appearances of all time.

On this date in 1964, the Beatles made their first live appearance on American television, performing on "The Ed Sullivan Show."

Although I wasn't even seven years old yet, I remember the show vividly.

I remember that this was a time when TV was shared with all the family. Families generally had one TV, and everyone gathered in front of the TV to watch shows, and watch them together.

I know that my family gathered in front of our Dumont black and white TV to watch the Beatles that night. We always watched Ed Sullivan on Sunday night. It really was a tradition that stretched until the end of the show's run in 1971, and this night was going to be no different than any other.

But it was.

Ed Sullivan was old Hollywood. He would have on the Georgie Jessels, the Judy Garlands, and the other greats of that time period.

But in the late 1950s, Sullivan, ever the showman, knew that to keep his show up to date, he had to have on something for the kids.

Elvis Presley's successful performances on the show solidified that notion, and Sullivan, until the show's end, always had on something for younger viewers, whether it was the Muppets, Topo Gigio or the hottest recording acts of that time.

The Beatles were hot, hotter than hot in 1964, giving all of us something to look forward to less than three months after JFK was assassinated.

And they delivered.

Kids like me sat there mesmerized at the four British moptops.

Their music was new, they looked unlike anyone else I'd ever seen, and they looked like they were having fun.

And viewers were too.

I will never forget that night. Never.

Some say it led them to be musicians, or at least to pick up a guitar and learn to play it.

But for me, it didn't lead me to my future occupation or made me do anything that I wasn't going to do before seeing them.

But to today's kids, who simply have to turn on their TVs or go on the Internet to find the latest recording sensation, they have no idea how world changing that night in 1964 was for my generation, and, yes, down the road, for their generation too.

Rock was finally accepted. It wasn't a trend or a fad.

Elvis laid the groundwork, and the Beatles ran with it.

From then on, "The Ed Sullivan Show" featured the hottest rock acts of the day on a regular basis, everyone from the Dave Clark Five to the Rolling Stones to Sly and the Family Stone to the Supremes to the Association to ...

I mean, it was endless, and served as a reason to watch the Sullivan show each and every week, amid the plate twirlers and the comedians and the Broadway acts.

And I loved it.

There's nothing like it today, and I am glad I was around to witness the night when everything was turned inside out.

And the funny thing is, Beatlemania is still with us. Both Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr each released new albums in the past few weeks, and George Harrison and John Lennon remain alive in our hearts even though they have each been gone for years now.

But it started with that night, an evening I will never forget.

Rant #2,017: Space Race

Space ... the final frontier.

Yes, we have all heard that utterance on 'Star Trek," and yes, I have found that to be true.

Space, as in, available space in my dwelling to put all of my records.

I have accumulated probably about 10,000 records over the years, and we are talking about a hobby that pretty much started in 1965 or 1966, when I was eight and nine years old.

My mother used to buy all of the family's records back then, and that included everything from show tunes to the Monkees.

It was kind of my low-key hobby at the time, behind collecting comic books and baseball cards.

Most of those collections are gone, unfortunately, but the records remained.

I really got into collection records while I was in college, and when my sister got married, I inherited her records.

As an adult, this has been my main hobby, and it has expanded and grown even with the coming of first cassettes, and then CDs, followed by streaming and burning my own disks.

But whatever the case, I have about 10,000 records, crammed into a small space in my daughter's former bedroom.

I have them as neat as I can, on shelves that my wife and I put in some years ago, but the collection has pretty much expanded beyond the shelves, and the records are now on the shelves, and also in my daughter's old dresser, in some plastic storage devices, and on the floor of the room.

The room--which also has a convertible couch/bed in it--has become overrun with records, much like on old piece of bread that has been discarded often gets overrun with ants.

Yesterday, in order to try to free up the old dresser for some of my clothes, my wife and I bought another plastic storage device for some of the singles, and this device sits proudly on one side of the room with the two others I purchased years ago for the same purpose.

The problem is that as my collection continues to expand, the room is getting smaller, and I am running out of space to put the records.

And as I run out of space, they are becoming less and less accessible to me.

The shelves are inadequate to begin with, because they are made for books and doodads, not records, so the records often fall off the shelves, and I have had to take many LPs off the shelves for fear that the particular shelf is too tight and is ready to expunge more records all over the place.

There is one obvious solution to all of this, and that is to stop buying records, something, as a record collector, I am not resigned to doing.

So, what is the other solution?

I have thought about getting something professional done to house these records, but then you have the money factor, and that pretty much discounts that (perhaps if I put away the money I use to buy the records and save that money for shelving ... nah, that isn't going to work.)

So right now, as I type this Rant, I have records to the right of me, records to the left of me, and here I am, stuck in the middle with them.

They will always be welcome in my house, of course, and they stand as a reflection of who I was, as well as who I am.

I guess I will take the suggestion to let it be right now, but there might come a time when I will have to do something drastic with my collection, so I can actually move around in the room a bit more freely.

But these records are my legacy, and this isn't going to happen any time soon.

So at least for right now, I am in a holding pattern with my records ... as I embark on obtaining the next 10,000 records in my collection.

And don't put it past me.

We all have our things.

I don't drink, smoke, nor chase after women.

I collect records.

I guess it is a vice, too, but a safe vice that doesn't hurt anyone, including myself.

Heck, that's the way I like it.

Uh huh, uh huh.

Classic Rant #670 (February 7, 2012): Junk Food Gold To Kids

Everybody seems to be on the healthy eating bandwagon.

"Eat healthy, and you will live longer," say some, and perhaps it is true.

But for kids, I really don't think they care about such stuff. They will eat whatever they like.

"Start kids off in their lives with healthy eating, and you will set them on the right path," say some, and perhaps it's true.

But my generation filled up on Devil Dogs and Twinkies, and it didn't seem to hurt us too badly.

But some continue to say that eating healthy is the right way to go, and schools can be a big help in fighting off the fat.

A new study now says that roughly half of U.S. elementary school kids can still buy junk food at their schools, even after repeated mandates to remove this stuff from these centers of learning.

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago said such horrid things as cookies, cakes and chips are still sold through many school cafeterias and vending machines, even if they are not served during lunchtime.

Sure, rising obesity in children is a reason to rethink what we feed our kids, but schools really shouldn't be held responsible for kids getting fat.

That's like saying that McDonald's is responsible for creating Chubbsy Ubbsies across the country, and although some have even taken fast food providers to court over this, the cases are always thrown out.

You have to have the mindset to eat healthy, and that starts at home.

And you know what? All this talk of healthy eating is fine in my book, but generally, people don't want to eat healthy. The healthy stuff should be available, but you can't force any food provider outside of your own home to regulate what your kids eat.

Again, it has to start in the home.

And when I was growing up, everything literally was on the table. You could eat salads--and I did--but I loved my Yodels and Oreos, too.

Yes, I am overweight right now, and I still love my cookies. And that is my fault, because although my eating habits have changed over time as I've gotten older, it's my decision to eat like I do.

But did it hurt me as a kid? No, I don't think so.

My wife watches herself like a hawk, and I am very proud of her. She looks 20 years younger than she really is, because she does what she has to do to be fit, including exercises regularly. She is beautiful, has a great figure, and rarely noshes.

I choose to nosh.

My son, 16 years of age, eats everything and then some, and he is as skinny as a pencil.

You have to want to eat healthy, not literally have it forced down your throat.

And you can't expect schools to fully toe the line.

We are very much into the blame game in this society, and schools are likely targets for lots of blame on a variety of subjects.

But if you want your kids to eat healthy, give them the broccoli at home, not a Yankee Doodle.

And stop expecting schools to regulate what your kids eat.

They can help, but ultimately, the burden falls on the home, exactly where the burden should be.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Rant #2,016 : Everybody Loves a Clown With This Diamond Ring On Green Grass

With such a huge record collection--I must have 10,000 records at this point in time--every once in a while, while going through this collection, I almost invariably stumble upon something that I once liked, haven't listened to in a while, and now, once again, I am totally into it.

About two weeks ago, I stocked a flash drive with about a dozen digital albums that I have stored away on a separate hard drive from the one in my computer. It has become something of a sub-hobby of mine to transfer over analog vinyl disks to the digital format, so I also have thousands of LPs and singles which I have transferred over to this format.

Anyway, I planned to listen to what was on the flash drive while I was in my car, something I have been doing a lot of  lately.

I was taking things at random, and when I got to this particular act's LPs that I had in the digital format, I literally thought to myself, "I haven't heard them for awhile. This album has all of their best, so let me put it on the flash drive and listen to it in the car."

And that is what I did.

The act wasn't the first album on the drive, so it took me a few days to get to their music.

And once I got there, I knew I was "home," so to speak.

Yes, I really do like this stuff, even though it is as geeky and quirky as can be, yet it sticks in your head and refuses to leave as if it had some musical stickum on it.

I am talking about Gary Lewis and the Playboys. Yup, Jerry's son with a couple of his childhood friends, who one day decided to start up a band, without using Gary's connections to Hollywood.

To make a long story short, somehow they auditioned for, and got, a regular gig at Disneyland in about 1964 or so, as Gary and the Playboys.

A neighbor, legendary record producer Snuff Garrett, on a tip heard the Lewis had a band, and without dad Jerry knowing, started to fine-tune them for the big time, using Lewis' mom's money.

Dad supposedly never knew, because from what I read, he wouldn't have been too happy with his son's musical choice. He was away from home for long stretches, so it was relatively easy to stop dad from knowing.

Gary started out as the band's drummer, and Garrett brought in no less than drum legend Buddy Rich to tutor him. But Garrett's prime intention was to not only play off of the Lewis name, but make Lewis the lead singer of the act, which he was not at the beginning of the band's run.

The band was raw as could be, but when they were adequate enough to start recording, Garrett hooked them up with "This Diamond Ring," partially written by Al Kooper, and the rest is history.

The song went to No. 1, nobody cared that Lewis couldn't sing (by his own admission, it was not one of his musical strengths) and the band wasn't very good, and right away, the name of Gary Lewis was as well known as the name of Jerry Lewis.

Although Gary led a "band," the clear focus of the "band" was on Gary. He had the name, and he was now the lead singer of the band. Photos of the band often showed him out front and clear, with his bandmates behind him and often out of focus.

What came after "This Diamond Ring" was a rapid succession of hits, often worked on in one form or another by Leon Russell and Garrett, who used tricks in the studio to make Lewis' voice palatable.

Songs that suited Lewis' vocals were crafted specifically for him to sing, and Garrett, Russell and the legendary Wrecking Crew studio musicians did the heavy lifting. Out of this conglomeration came some of the most well known pop songs of the mid 1960s, including "She's Just My Style," "You Don't Have To Paint Me a Picture," "My Heart's Symphony," "Everybody Loves a Clown," "Green Grass," and several other huge hits.

From 1965 to 1968, Gary Lewis and the Playboys had 10 Top 20 singles, and several others that hit the Hot 100.

The elder Lewis acknowledged his son's success by appearing with him on several TV shows, including "Hullaballoo," and even featured Gary and his band in a couple of his films.

In late 1966, Lewis and his band were on "The Ed Sullivan Show," and with Lewis being drafted into military service, Sullivan held a farewell show for the singer, where girls from the audience came up and wished Lewis well, often giving him kisses on the cheek while they were holding in screams for their teen idol.

Lewis went into the Army in January 1967, and his record label continued to release older recordings that had not yet been released during his stint in the service, which ended in 1968.

When he was out of the service, he almost immediately returned to recording, often sans the Playboys name, but musical tastes had changed, and he never really got the musical momentum back from the early days.

Lewis released an album in late 1969 entitled "I'm On the Right Road Now," which attempted to direct his music to what was then happening, but it fizzled, and except for a couple of singles here and there, Lewis has been a fixture on the oldies circuit for the past 40 years or so, with a new group of Playboys.

Anyway, when I heard his music for the first time in quite a while, one song after another, well, yeah, he was geeky, but the music really was quite good.

Yes, it fit however you wanted to define his vocal style, but with excellent musical backing by the Wrecking Crew--the Playboys were reportedly so inept or at least not up to then-current standards that they used backing tapes when playing live, as many bands did at the time--and with the genius of Garrett and Russell behind him, Lewis--a true non-singer if there ever was one--became one of the 1960's top vocalists.

The music was infectious, and Lewis had just enough talent--and a lot of brains--to go with the flow, and was able to pull it off.

Yes, he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, but like Nancy Sinatra, he took that spoon and ran with it for as long as he could.

I always liked Gary Lewis and the Playboys, and now, listening to them again, I know why: their fun tunes were like 2 minute and 30 second mini-stories, and there was a beginning, a middle and an end to them.

And they stick in your head like glue.

Sure, in the musical world there is room for Gary Lewis and the Playboys, and boy, I am glad that I re-discovered them.

Fun for fun's sake, and nothing else in between the lines.

Speak to you again on Monday. Have a nice weekend.