Thursday, June 30, 2011

Rant #537: Slow Day

Yes, it's another slow day as far as news is concerned.

The heat is picking up in the Northeast, and I am sure that no matter where you are in the U.S., you are looking forward to July 4 and the long weekend that accompanies that holiday.

I know that I am.

And on Sunday, as I have for the past few months, I will be recording--and watching later--the morning fare on something called Antenna TV.

Antenna TV was created by WGN, and it is parceled out to its Tribune Broadcast Company affiliates, including WPIX in New York. It is one of those stations that exists near where you get your regular channels, in that area in between the regular channels in our HDTV universe.

For me, I get it because I have Verizon FiOS.

The idea for such a channel--one that shows only reruns of classic and many forgotten TV shows and movies--began when a few years ago on Saturday nights, WGN showed a block of oldies programming, mainly former CBS shows like "The Bob Newhart Show." The two-hour broadcast of these shows received good ratings, so the thought was, why not create an entire network around these shows?

And with the burgeoning HDTV boom, there was finally room for such a niche station.

It took some time, but Antenna TV sprung up a few months ago. Sure, it shows the same stuff you can get on TV Land like "All in the Family" and "Sanford and Son," but on Sunday mornings into early afternoon, it really shines.

This is the time when it dredges from TV heaven a number of shows that haven't been seen on TV in years. Such shows as "Circus Boy" (with the adolescent future Monkee Micky Dolenz, known then as Micky Braddock); "Rin Tin Tin," "Here Comes the Brides" (with Bobby Sherman and David Soul), "Gidget" and the "Flying Nun" (Sally Field's stepping stones to stardom) are shown.

Later in the day, "The Monkees" and the horrid "The Partridge Family" are shown.

Yes, the shows are heavily edited, and often roughly cut. "Rin Tin Tin," a guilty pleasure from my childhood, is really ripped to shreds, with obvious editing, dubbed-in speech at times, and new, tacked on background music and end credits, but at least it is being shown again.

And the Sunday programming doesn't trump the weekly and Saturday programming, where they show many classic favorites like the aforementioned "All in the Family" and "Sanford and Son," as well as "Good Times" and "Maude" (with the ever luscious Adrienne Barbeau).

And on Saturday, they have major blocks of cartoons, many of which haven't been shown on TV in decades.

You can't get Antenna TV everywhere; check your local cable and satellite listings to see if it is running in your area.

If you are not attached to satellite or cable, you should be able to get it if it runs in your area just after its affiliate. In other words, in New York, Antenna TV can be found at 11.4, or just right after WPIX at Channel 11.

I hope you can get it, because it makes Sunday--and during the week and Saturday--much more fun, especially during the summer months.

Visit its homepage at to find out more about this channel.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Rant #536: Brady Bed Bugs

Yes, it is the middle of summer, and yes, it appears, at least right now, to be a very slow news day.

Not much to talk about ...

Unless you are Florence Henderson, erstwhile actress who will forever be known as the mother of the Brady brood on "The Brady Bunch" TV show.

In order to sell her memoir, "Life Is Not a Stage," Henderson reveals that she had an affair in the late 1960s with then-New York City Mayor John V. Lindsay and subsequently picked up a sexually transmitted disease from him.

According to Henderson, she was cheating on her husband, and got cozy with Lindsay, who was cheating on his wife.

They did what they did, and after the brief affair, Henderson said she was shocked to wake up with "little black things" crawling over her bed and body.

What she had was pubic lice, also known as the crabs.

I guess this affair has given new meaning to the term "Fun City," as New York City was known by then, before it became "The Big Apple."

In the book, Henderson denies an affair with Brady Bunch co-star Barry Williams. She said something to the affect that she knew he had a crush on her, but it was never acted upon.

Henderson, now 77, also talks about her abusive childhood--doesn't it seem every actor grew up in an abusive household?--and the ups and downs of her long career.

Back to Lindsay: he can't defend himself, since he died several years ago, so I guess Henderson can say whatever she wants to say, without any retribution.

Lindsay was the mayor of New York City during its "Mod" era, when unions were set to strike at a moment's notice, and the city literally was on the precipice of disaster. It never reached that point, but the policies set in place by his administration led to New York City's failures into the 1970s and beyond.

He was a good looking guy, but he was a horrid mayor, although he was quite popular with the populace, and evidently with the ladies too.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Rant #535: "Amos 'N Andy" Anniversary

Sixty years ago today, in 1951, a TV show debuted that would rankle many people to this day.

Today, the TV version of the successful “Amos ‘N Andy” radio show debuted on CBS.

“Amos ‘N Andy” had been a sensation on radio, portraying various stereotypical black characters in ways that made audiences gravitate to them. They were lazy and shifty, slow and surly, and awful funny.

And they were portrayed on radio by white men.

But you couldn’t get away with that on television, so black actors were the stars of the show. In fact, “Amos ‘N Andy” was the very first network TV show to feature an all black cast.

Although that was the case, the show was chastised by many for its racial stereotyping. It only lasted a few years on the air, and then faded off into TV heaven, although it was rerun into the mid 1960s, as I remember watching the show as a kid.

Several prominent blacks raked the show over the coals, especially as the civil rights movement heated up.

But others took a more levelheaded approach to the program. The late Flip Wilson once said something to the effect that yes, the program displayed blacks in a less than stellar manner, but the show should not be forgotten or banned or not shown, because it shows how far blacks had come, as well as how far they had to go.

And things have come pretty far. We have a black man leading this country as its President and commander in chief, and blacks have made inroads in just about every area, from politics to private business.

But how does “Amos ‘N Andy” figure in this movement? To some, they would say the show probably had no influence at all, as it showed racial stereotyping at its lowest level. To others, the show was a stepping stone to something better, the bridge to “Julia” and then to “The Jeffersons” and later to “The Cosby Show” and later, even to “Oprah.”

It took man millions of years to evolve, and it took decades for network TV to make blacks as ubiquitous as whites in its programming.

Whether “Amos ‘N Andy” was part of that TV evolution is up to your individual tastes. But as a kid, I found it to be a very funny program, and I doubt I even realized the stereotyping that was prevalent on this show.

So I vote with Flip Wilson; let’s not forget the show, let’s watch it and study it on DVD as an artifact of a time that was long ago, but not so long ago that it should be totally forgotten or dismissed.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Rant #534: Take Me Out To the ... Museum

My family and I, and my son's friend, went to Yankee Stadium to see the Yankees take on the Rockies this past Saturday.

The Yankees won the game 8-3. The game was basically over in the first inning, when the Yankees scored two runs. The Rockies' runs were tagged on during the last two innings, and the way C.C. Sabbathia was pitching, they were lucky they got anything that day.

And it was a giveaway day. We received Yankees lunch boxes, probably big enough to put a sandwich in and that's it.

And no, you can't get your $10 beers into that lunch box.

That aside, our seats, in the upper deck, were about the worst I have ever had. They were in section 414, I believe, right on the aisle, which was good for my legs and feet, but not so good for my sight line.

There was a railing right in front of me that was in my sight line for home plate, and you can see it in the photos on the bottom left. I tried my best to not include it in the photos, but I failed miserably.

Also, this was a busy area, as people kept on coming up and down, with food, having to go the bathroom, with kids, etc. I couldn't get a clear view of a lot of what was going on because people were in the way.

That being said, the Yankees won the game, and that was fine with me.

Prior to the game, we finally got to the Yankees Museum, which is right in the new stadium.

Although it isn't very big, it stores a wealth of memories and memorabilia from this storied team.

You can see old uniforms, balls signed by every player ever to suit up for the Yankees, and Thurman Munson's old locker, which has been preserved since he died in a plane crash years ago.

And you are allowed to take photos of anything you want, as long as you don't use a flash.

I tried to get as many photos as I could, and a sample of them are here.

Back to the game ... the last photo is one of my lucky ones, showing Mark Texeira hitting a home run in the eighth inning.

Usually, I try to take my pitcher/batter photos just as the pitcher goes into the end of his windup. I usually wind up with nothing much, but this time, you can actually see Texeira rocketing the ball into the stands.

What a lot of luck from my crappy seat!

Getting home was, as usual, a mini-nightmare. We proceeded correctly, but we tried to get onto the Major Deegan South, I believe, and they blocked the entrance.

Rather than sit in a line of cars that must have stretched into New England, we saw a sign for the Whitestone Bridge--now known as the RFK Bridge--and took that into Queens and then into Long Island and home.

It took us a little more than 90 minutes, and that is better than I expected, especially since we couldn't get onto the highway that we needed.

And that is the final Yankee game we go to this year.

It is very, very expensive, and I would rather watch the games from home.

We'll go next year, but it is getting increasingly difficult to do so.

But it is fun. And I guess that's really all that counts, isn't it (as I count my lack of money in my wallet)?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Rant #533: What Can You Say?

Beyond water balloons, another story on Long Island has made national news this week.

The terrible tragedy at the Medford drug store, where four people were shot dead as a druggie rifled through the contents of the store looking for hydrocodone, has once again put the spotlight on the abuse of prescription drugs.

The alleged gunman, David Laffer, and his wife and accomplice and fellow drug abuser, Melinda, will probably get the book thrown at them when they go to trial in the coming weeks and months.

Their spiral into the abyss of drug abuse was quick. Laffer, a military veteran, and his future wife seemed to be the perfect couple. He proposed to her during a sporting event on the big screen, and they appeared to be hard-working people who would one day raise a family and fade into the framework of suburban living.

But the two had a secret that they shared, and it was drug abuse. Various aches and pains led the two to doctors who prescribed them prescription drugs, which they became hooked on.

Their moods changed, and their faces showed the hallow effects of such drugs on their systems.

When Laffer recently lost his job, that appeared to be the straw that broke the camel's back.

He entered the pharmacy on Father's Day as it opened, allegedly shot two workers--one just 17 years old--and then shot two patrons. He then allegedly stole more than 10,000 hydrocodone pills. Hydrocodone is s synthetic opiate used in Vicodin.

His wife, waiting for him in the getaway car, whisked away, and they went home, and reports are they then tended to their lawn. They were picked up and charged over the past few days, Laffer with first-degree murder and his wife with third-degree robbery.

Honestly, I don't know what more can be said about this horrible incident. If found guilty--and the wife has already said that they did these cruel deeds--they will spend many, many years in prison, and that is if they are lucky.

I am not sure of the current status of the death penalty in New York State, but if it is in force, then Laffer might be facing execution for these deeds if found guilty.

I personally can't think of a better case to employ the death penalty, and I am sure there will be people lined up to pull the plug on this individual.

Heck, I can't think of one compelling reason to keep him alive if he is found guilty of these heinous crimes.

But that aside, what happened to these seemingly normal people that led them to such a desperate act?

Drugs are a scourge of society. I don't care if you are talking about marijuana, heroin, or prescription pill abuse, they are all in the same boat.

They make people do things that are irrational--and yes, pot does too. They are completely unnecessary, but the demand continues to be huge for these poisons.

And it isn't just lower class people who are using these things. You see people from all social strata getting hooked on this garbage, and you see its use often glorified by Hollywood. How many recent movies show people smoking pot, as if it were akin to drinking a glass of water?

And I do not profess to know what the solution is.

The only solution lies with the individual. People should learn to say no, and if they don't say no, understand the consequences that entails using this stuff, and yes, even pot.

When you don't have all your faculties, you can't think straight, and to get hooked on these things damages your mind and your ability to make the right decision.

I was lucky. Yes, I grew up in a culture of drugs, but I never took anything, never.

I had one bone-chilling episode which illustrated very clearly to me that I should never do this stuff, even the milder stuff.

In about 1970 or so, I was helping my friend deliver newspapers in the afternoon in Rochdale Village.

We used the stairways to move about, as it was easier than using the elevators when delivering the papers.

We walked in one stairway, not knowing that two guys were shooting up drugs right there.

And yes, they were doing heroin, I am pretty sure of it. They had the needles, and their arms were propped up as if they were giving themselves shots.

We saw them too late, and they saw us.

We stopped dead in our tracks.

One guy said to us as he was shooting this crap into his arm, "Just move on. Don't look back."

We stepped over the two guys, and went on our way.

I will never forget that incident, and it always came into my brain when I was in a situation where drugs were being used.

No, that stuff was not for me.

Maybe people need to see such bone-chilling incidents to set their minds in the right direction.

I just don't know.

But the abuse of prescription drugs is another thing altogether. These drugs were generally designed with "good" in mind, designed to help people battle through pain or sickness or just uncomfortableness.

But they are addictive. When I was in the hospital for as mild an operation as a removal of my gall bladder, I was offered a prescription for pills. I was lucky, I never had a reason to use them, but I will tell you, I don't think I would have anyway.

Those pills are powerful, more powerful then we realize. And when not used properly, they are very addictive.

Going back to the incident in question, I don't really know what our society can do to prevent such a thing from happening again.

I just think it is up to the individual to make a choice--and hopefully the right choice--when it comes to using these things.

They are available, are controlled substances, but obviously, people can get them if they need to.

It shouldn't be so easy, but it is, and this incident proves that people are so hooked on this garbage that they will do anything to get them.

Anything. Even murder.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Rant #532: Ban Stays

As a short followup to yesterday's story, the East Rockaway, New York, students who were banned from their prom and graduation ceremonies due to their participation in a water balloon fight are still banned.

School district officials heard what the participants, and their parents, had to say about the ban, but they ultimately decided that since warnings were sent out in writing about the consequences of engaging in this activity, they kept the ban in place.

Each of the participants' situations were looked at on an individual basis, and the ban was kept intact. It is not known how many of the 50 students who participated in this fight are part of the ban.

As I wrote yesterday, one of my sources said that some of the balloons were not only filled with water, but might have been filled with urine and Nair. Nair uses various chemical compounds to aid hair removal, including calcium hydroxide, also known as lime. This can be an irritant if it gets in someone's eyes or mouth.

This is completely unsubstantiated, but if it is true, it adds to the mess.

Kids had to dodge the balloons on a traffic-filled street, and administrators and a crossing guard were also pelted.

Bravo to the school administration on this one. They did their due diligence--they reviewed each case individually--and they stood their ground.

It is not as if the kids didn't know not to participate in this action. Notices were sent out on two occasions, and parents and kids should have realized that the ramifications to this action were great.

I love how the parents are protecting their wonderful children on this one. Obviously, they didn't do a real good job, because they lost their case.

Now, the parents have a chance to explain to their kids that because of their stupid actions, they robbed them of the feeling of accomplishment that goes with going to a graduation and seeing your child receive their diploma.

I had that feeling last year when my daughter graduated college. It is a good feeling, one that these parents, because of their own stupidity and the stupidity of their children, might never experience.

The prom is one thing--not everyone goes to the prom--but to miss out on graduation, well that is a shame.

I also heard from my source that this is a school district that will back its students to the highest degree, but when the district gets backed into a corner, like they did in this incident, they understandably have zero tolerance.

No, these kids aren't angels by any stretch of the imagination, and yes, they deserve their punishment.

The saddest part of this is that the school is teaching these kids what is right and what is wrong, instead of their parents.

Yes, that is the saddest thing about this incident, not that the kids lost their graduation, but that the schools have become the parents, because the parents have failed.

How sad.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Rant #531: Water Balloons Bursting In Air

You might have heard about this story. It has made national news.

A group of East Rockaway, Long Island, High School students are being banned from their prom and graduation ceremony because they participated in a water balloon fight just off of school grounds.

About 50 students participated in the fight, which is supposedly an annual "rite of passage" at the school. Never before has the school taken action against fight participants.

However, this time, the fight kind of got out of hand. Not only were participants pelted with water balloons, but reportedly so were two high school administrators, a crossing guard, and several students who were not participating in the fight.

The school claims that the participants were causing traffic and safety problems, and were told to stop or they would face disciplinary action.

The decided to go on with the fight.

The parents of the participants have appealed to the school, and administrators are deciding whether they should go on with the ban or not.

The prom and graduation are big events for high school seniors. These kids worked hard to get to this point, and after a dozen years in the system (plus kindergarten), they are being banned from these big events in their lives due to one blemish.

But on the other hand, the fight evidently did get out of hand, and people not even participating were getting pelted on a busy street. When the crossing guard gets hit, you know the thing got out of hand. And the kids were told to stop, or else.

Let me tell you a story. I was substitute teaching in a middle-class district on Long Island. I was standing in for a well-regarded veteran teacher, and I had to sub for his five classes one late May day.

I didn't have many problems until I got to one class, filled with graduating seniors. The teacher gave me one thing to do with the kids. It would have taken 15 minutes to complete.

The problem was that that day, the seniors got their yearbooks. I recognized that, and I said that if they just did this one thing that the teacher left for them, they would have the rest of the 45-minute period to have their yearbooks signed. Heck, I told them that I would even sign the yearbook if they wanted me to.

Well, after about five minutes of pleading, the kids finally got what I was saying and decided that they would do what I was asking.

Except for one kid.

He verbally abused me, using every curse his 18 year old mind knew, he threatened me, and he was a nuisance.

After a warning and continued taunts, I yanked away his yearbook from him, and placed it in a drawer in the teacher's desk, As many of you know, once you close the top drawer of a teacher's desk, the other drawers automatically lock. So I had the yearbook in the drawer, locked away, and I said that I would give it back to him after the lesson.

And I fully intended to do this.

The kid went ballistic, to a degree I have never seen. His adrenalin must have kicked in on high, because he rushed at me, still yelling and screaming, and threatened me with bodily harm. About five boys tried to grab him, and he knocked all of them down with one fell swoop. And these boys who tried to restrain him were not small.

He then went to his seat, which was in the front row. If you recall, in high school, the chair is attached to the desk.

He proceeded to pick it up, and throw it at me.

Yes, throw it at me, a chair and desk that probably weighed 50 lbs. or more.

It went over my head, hit the blackboard, and bounced harmlessly away.

As I was in shock, he ran out of the classroom.

He brought back a teacher who was on hall duty, and the teacher was defending him, believe it or not. I threw both the kid and the teacher out of the room, and somehow proceeded with the lesson.

And yes, as promised the kids got their time with their yearbooks.

(By the way, the class I was teaching was Religion. I kid you not.)

I reported the kid, and the school said they would take care of him.

And take care of him they did.

I mean, I could have been hurt or worse, and since they don't care about subs, what would have happened if the projectile hit one of the other kids? I don't even want to think about it.

And when I say take care of him, they did.

I asked that he be suspended from graduation and the prom.

They suspended him for one day. In late June. And that was it.

So when I heard about the incident at East Rockaway High School, I originally thought that maybe the punishment was too harsh.

But then I remembered my experience, and I quickly changed my mind.

The punishment not only isn't too harsh, it is too lenient.

These kids should not only be banned from the prom and graduation, they probably should have to do some community service work too. And they should have had to clean up the grounds that they soiled with their water balloons.

What would have happened if they injured someone while doing this? What would have happened if someone got in a car accident because of this?

The school probably would have been sued, that's what.

As the parent of a 15 year old and a 23 year old, I think we have to be a bit strict with these kids, because the consequences of their actions could have been much worse.

Schools have to send out a message to kids--and their parents--that this type of behavior will not be tolerated, because it only takes one time for something really, really bad to happen.

(And no, I don't want these kids punished in retaliation for the kid in my incident getting a slap on the wrist, if that is what you are thinking.)

Throw the book at them. Let them learn that there is a right way to handle yourself and a wrong way to handle yourself.

And they handled themselves in a very wrong way during this incident.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Rant #530: The Hefner Hop

Yes, Hugh Hefner has found a new lady love to serve as his latest girlfriend.

Evidently, news reports are that the Playboy founder has named Anna Sophia Berglund, 25 years old, as his latest flame.

According to these reports, she helped console him during the past week, when former fiancee Crystal Harris flew the coop.

Yes, this continues to be pretty wretched, to say the least.

Hefner is old enough to be her great grandfather, and what would a 25 year old see in someone in their mid 80s?

Cash. Fame. Fortune. Exposure (beyond her January 2011 pictorial).

We all know this is a sham. I would not be surprised if the Hefner/Harris nuptials were too.

Hefner promises them all of those things, and they take the bait. They just have to be by his side for x amount of time, and then they can do what they want with what he has given them.

He is the consummate "dirty old man" with his nice sailor hat. You can just see him posing with these young blondes with his hand pinching their rump.

But these girls take it. If he leads them to fame and fortune--and the ability to pay for their plastic surgeries--why not?

You can laugh at this, but if this was your daughter, partying around with an 85 year old, I don't think you would be laughing that hard anymore.

Hefner is skanky, but he is oh so rich. Money always talks, and when it talks, these girls listen, and they take the bait.

But just think about it--an man 60 years the senior of his new love interest, holding hands and doing who knows what together.


(And yes, I know about Green Mile actor Doug Hutchison and his new wife, Courtney Alexis Stodden--he is 51, she is 16--more yuck! And her parents gave their permission to his union yet!)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Rant #529: Hey, Hey, They Will Always Be The Monkees

My family and I took a step back in time when we saw the Monkees perform at Westbury this past Friday, June 17, and it was surely a wonderful nostalgic ride back to the 1960s.

Let's face it. The Beatles can never get back together, so for most of us, this is the next best thing.

But for me, the Monkees were it, are it, and continue to be it.

I loved the Beatles. Right after seeing them on "The Ed Sullivan Show" back in February 1964, I, like everyone else watching that show, fell in love with them.

And I continue to love the Beatles.

But, the Monkees were created for ME.

In 1966, when their show went on the air a few weeks after "Last Train to Clarksville" debuted, I knew that this was MY rock band. Being nine years old at the time, the show was created for my generation.

Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, Peter Tork and Davy Jones were the next best thing to the Beatles. Their songs, like the Beatles' music, was airy and catchy, and perfect for pop Top 40 radio.

They had lots of hits, had four No. 1 LPs, and faded off the face of the earth as quickly as they came.

But unlike other successful acts of the time, they still had that wonderful TV show.

Showing it to numerous generations of kids, each generation has basically adopted the band, to a certain extent. And if your kids know Lady Gaga, I will bet you that they know "I'm a Believer" too. (The show currently runs on the weekends on Antenna TV, and it is out on DVD.)

Peter, Micky and Davy were in fine form on Friday night. They've sung these songs their whole lives, but on this tour, they seem to be reinvigorated. Perhaps they know that this might be it for them as an actual touring act, as they are getting a bit long in the tooth.

But you wouldn't know it during this performance. These guys were bouncing around like musicians a third of their age, and they seemed to be having lots of fun doing it.

They did about 40 songs in slightly more than two hours. Our show did not have an intermission, so they did it straight through.

Augmented by videos overhead of the show, commercials that they had done, and photo pastiches that evoked the 1960s and 1970s, the exuberantly did everything from "Clarksville" to "That Was Then, This Is Now," their MTV-inspired hit from 1986.

They have a terrific backing band, but the boys do play their own instruments, and they each played several instruments. And yes, Micky did play drums, which I was happy to see. He usually plays guitar on tour, but he did play drums, and played them well.

Davy is a little heavier, but he is really the consummate entertainer. He brings a British music hall mentality to the proceedings, and it carries over well, And when you see him as a sort of whirling dervish when he does the "Head" film's "Daddy's Song," you really can't believe that this guy is probably getting Social Security.

Micky is in fine voice, and is quite a fine musician. I have met him, and interviewed him, and he is about the nicest person you'd ever want to meet. He is firmly grounded, and that probably helps.

Peter, who overcame a rare form of throat and tongue cancer, was a revelation. The guy plays about six or seven instruments during the show, and even though his speech is a little impaired, his singing voice is probably the best that it has ever been. He looks a little weather beaten, but this guy is going to be 70 in February of next year--it is hard to believe.

We were in the fifth row from the stage, and had great views of everything. The sold out house was really into the show, and they were singing along during much of the show. And the audience--I saw little kids who also were singing along, I saw lots of teenagers, I saw people my age, and I saw people my parents' age.

The three Monkees--and no Mike Nesmith, as he has once again decided not to tour with the others--were terrific, and the show itself, in different forms, has been getting terrific reviews both Stateside and in Europe.

If the Monkees come to your area, go seem them. You will not be disappointed.

They are an absolutely unique act, probably the most popular act after the Beatles and the Rolling Stones from that era (yes, I know about acts like the Who, but they really became big in America late in the 1960s--in 1966, they were still a curiosity here). And their members are all still on this planet. The only other band from the era that I think can boast about that is the Hollies.

The Monkees will forever be from 1966, those four cute guys who actually were quite talented, way beyond the "boy band" monicker they have been given by today's ignorant media. They were, actually, our Beatles, whether anyone (including the Monkees themselves) wanted to acknowledge it or not, and the advances in music that surrounded their creation set the groundwork for the future of rock and roll.

Whether they will ever be acknowledged by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is anyone's guess, but I have to tell you, they are in my personal Hall of Fame.

Thanks Micky, Peter, and Davy (and Michael too). You guys are really something special.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Rant #528: Looking Back

Several stories that were covered at this blog earlier this week had followup stories later in the week, so it is only fitting that we put an exclamation point on these stories as we close out the week.

Anthony Weiner Resigns: It couldn't have ended any other way. Sure, nothing that Weiner did was exactly illegal, but it was kind of letchy.

Looked at as a laughing stock, Weiner took his time to make his decision. Funny thing, he is still technically in office until his fellow pols actually put it into the record that he has resigned, and that won't take place before Tuesday.

What is his future? I was surprised to see that he is not a lawyer, so he can't fall back on that. He is a fine speaker, and perhaps he could end up on radio or TV as a commentator. He originally wanted to be a weatherman, so maybe that would be a route for him. Also, can you see him pairing with fellow disgraced ex-pol Elliot Spitzer on TV? That would really be sex and politics!

Hef's Former Future Wife Wanted More: Yes, that bimbo who was going to marry Hugh Hefner, but who backed out at the last second, is not only supposedly seeing someone else, she also wanted more money out of her future husband.

Reports are that she wanted more of a weekly allowance, and she also wanted Hefner to set her up in a musical career, I guess much like he did for former lover Barbi Benton in the 1970s.

Hefner balked at both of her dreams, and she basically hit the road.

But the latest Playboy cover, with her on it, was at the presses. What to do? Hefner, and/or his staff, came up with a good idea--put a sticker over most of her reading "Runaway Bride."

So he gets the last laugh after all, in a marriage that would have been a sham anyway.

WWE Superstar Suffers Concussion: WWE Superstar Randy Orton suffered a concussion a few days ago, and his appearance at the pay-per-view "Capital Punishment" is in doubt--or is it?

Orton legitimately couldn't wrestle on the most recent WWE shows, but he is still slated to perform on this Sunday's pay-per-view show.

I guess this rant really isn't about Randy Orton, per se, it is more about concussions. We are just learning how severe the most mild concussion can be. This is an injury not to be taken as lightly as it has in the past. This is a brain injury, although lots of people forget that.

In the past, it would have been a given that Orton would wrestle on the pay-per-view event, but now, with more understanding about this injury, his participation is in doubt--although he is still being pushed as a participant.

Orton, one of the most popular wrestlers in the WWE Universe, should take a pass. He is still a young guy, and has a fantastic future ahead of him. Why jeopardize that for this one event? Take the time off that is necessary and then come back.

Yankees Visit Wrigley Field This Weekend: For just the second time since the 1930s, the Yankees visit Wrigley Field this weekend to take on the Cubs. Two of the three games are on national TV, while today's afternoon contest is on the YES network and I believe the nationally carried WGN.

The Yankees have won six of their last seven games after a humiliating three-game sweep by the Red Sox. The Cubs, as usual, are going nowhere fast.

The Yankees should pummel the hapless Cubs, but baseball is a funny game. What looks good on paper doesn't actually happen.

Being a Yankees fan, I want a sweep, but you never know. If the Yankees can continue to play like they did in the latter stages of their just concluded homestand, this shouldn't be much of a matchup.

We shall see what happens.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Rant #527: Women Taking Off

Women were once relegated to the chores of homemaker. They cooked, they cleaned, they reared the children.

And for most of them, that was it.

If they worked out of the home, it was a part time job or a job they took until they got married. Then, they became the dutiful wife, doing what her husband wanted.

Remember, even Lucy Ricardo on "I Love Lucy" used to say "Yes sir" to her husband Ricky when he barked out an order (which she usually didn't follow, but that's another story).

In the 1960s, many women started to feel that being a homemaker wasn't what they wanted. They wanted to go into careers like men, they wanted to hold higher positions than secretary or girl Friday.

And things changed. While there is nothing wrong with being a homemaker, women have more choices today.

One of the pioneers of that movement skyward did something extraordinary today, and certainly extraordinary since she did it way back in 1963, when the women's movement was just beginning.

And no, she wasn't from this country.

Today is the 48th anniversary of Valentina Tereshkova's launch into space. She was the first woman to go into orbit.

Yes, she was Russian, and the Soviet Union was in a space race with the U.S. at this time.

They bested us several times, being the first to send a human being into space and later sending a woman into space.

Of course, we were the first--and still the only--country to put men on the moon, so we ultimately won the race, but Tereshkova's feat did more than that. It gave women another foothold on what they could do, rather than what they couldn't do.

In fact, Tereshkova has been able to do it all during her lifetime. The now 74 year old married at least twice--once to a fellow cosmonaut--had a daughter, who became the first person be parented by two astronauts, and became a political figure in the Soviet Union.

Of course, there have been many changes since 1963. Women are in all echelons of business, and yes, many women do choose to be stay at home moms, and there is certainly nothing wrong with that.

But they have choices now that they didn't have in 1963, and Tereshkova's feat opened the door for a lot of this.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Rant #526: Bunny Stop

In the world that we live in today, a momentous decision was made yesterday that is sure to change mankind forever.

When it came across the airwaves and the Internet, people literally stopped what they were doing. They had to so they could take it all in, and figure out how this decision will impact their lives.

What decision am I talking about?

The decision by Crystal Harris not to marry Playboy founder Hugh Hefner.

"The wedding is off," Hefner, 84, tweeted yesterday. "Crystal has had a change of heart."

Harris, 24, was set to marry Hefner on Saturday. It would have been her first marriage and his third.

Reports are that a heated weekend telephone argument between the two lovebirds led Harris to call the whole thing off, so if you bought anything for them, I guess you are going to have to return it.

Harris, on her website, also announced to the world that the marriage was off.

And it wasn't Hefner who was the one who was found to be not forward this time; Harris has been seeing Dr. Phil McGraw's son, Jordan McGraw.

Yes, and she had been seeing him all the while she was slated to marry Hefner.

That is one thing that Hefner cannot tolerate: a woman going behind his back for love.

Back in the 1950s, his first wife cheated on him, and he has said that this was one of the most, if not the most, devastating thing that ever happened to him.

As the story goes, to atone for her misdeed, the then Mrs. Hefner allowed her husband to cheat on her, and he did it multiple times, leading to the end of their marriage in the late 1950s.

Sure, Hefner has a double standard. He can do what he wants to do, but if a woman shows him up ... well, look out.

That might have been the case this time too, although Harris was the one who called off the wedding, further showing up Hefner.

It is probably better off.

Why a 24 year old would want to marry an 84 year old is beyond me.

And don't tell me it has nothing to do with money--you just know it does.

The guy is worth his weight in gold. All the girl has to do is be with him for X amount of years, and she stands to get plenty.

I am sure there was a prenuptial agreement, but believe me, she wouldn't be left out in the fog with that, either.

And you just know there will be another woman for Hefner. Even if it is a sham, he will have his choice of women who could be his daughter, granddaughter, or even great granddaughter.

I mean, they must find that sailor hat he wears at least a little sexy.

To many of us, Hefner looks more like a letch than ever, an old pervert who pinches women's bottoms because he thinks they like it.

I hear women ringing the bells of his mansion right now, lining up to be his next squeeze.

Who will it be?

Hopefully not my daughter.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Rant #525: Wrestling With My Conscience

Yes, I know professional wrestling is phony.

The injuries aren't, the unexpected happenings brought on by the human condition aren't, but the outcome of just about every match is.

But I still go to see pro wrestling when it hits my area, and it did last night.

The WWE, the 21st century version of the circus, put on a special, three-hour show last night at Nassau Coliseum, which is in my own backyard here on Long Island. My son is a huge wrestling fan, so we bought tickets months ago and the big night came yesterday.

Of course, I had a busy day at work, so as I entered the arena, I felt like I needed to take a nap.

We tried to go to our seats, but the doors that we would use to enter were blocked off. We walked some more, and more doors were blocked.

Finally, we walked in, but were several sections away from where we should have been.

We asked an usher about this, and he directed us to another usher who was holding tickets.

"You really lucked out tonight," the usher said. "The WWE extended the stage and backstage area, so I have to give you new tickets."

This had never happened to us before, but it was fine with me. A ticket upgrade--who would have thought it?

Our original seats were in nosebleed land, in the corner and all the way up in God's country. The new seats were several sections away, at the far end of the ring at an angle. Although we were still high up, we were in the first row of our section, and my seat actually abutted the stairs, so I could stretch out when I wanted to.

What a luxury during a three-hour wrestling show!

We bought food and drinks and settled in.

It was a good, not great show, and there were some decent bouts. And yes, when the girls came on, most of the audience went to the bathroom. The girls' matches in the WWE are horrible, and real short. Perfect for a quick you know what.

Anyway, after more than three hours of this--the WWE always adds some extra matches at the beginning and end of the night--we were done, drove home and were in bed before midnight.

The WWE puts on a great show, a very family friendly show for a wrestling show. No blood, no guts, no cussing, although the crowd was rowdier than I've seen lately at these things.

And yes, we will go again the next time they come to Long Island. It's fun, there is nothing to put you on the edge of your seat, but my son--and I guess me too--loves it.

It also brings me closer to my son, so that's truly the best thing about it.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Rant #524: Take Me Out To the Ballgame

On Saturday, my family and I took in a ballgame at Yankee Stadium, or what they call Yankee Stadium nowadays.

I can't help it; to me, it is not the real Yankee Stadium. But I have to get used to it. I am sure to some, Madison Square Garden is not the real Madison Square Garden, either (in its fourth incarnation and being rejiggered as we speak).

Anyway, the Yankees played the Indians, and the Yankees won 4-0 behind three home runs: Alex Rodriguez, Mark Texeira, and Curtis Granderson.

We sat in the rightfield stands. It's the first time I have had seats in the outfield in years.

It gives you a different perspective, and since we were almost arm's length from the foul pole, it really gives you a different dimension of where you are and what you are watching.

Rather than watching the fielders from the front, you are watching them from the back. The batter faces you.

It is a little different than what I am used to, but even though it was raining and cloudy and damp the entire game, it made for an entertaining afternoon.

Ageless wonder Bartolo Colon won the game, breezing through six and two-thirds innings. He injured himself running to first base on a play, and he is now on the Disabled List. Hopefully, we haven't see the last of him. He brought a breath of fresh air to what has been to this point a stale season.

Derek Jeter continues on his quest for 3,000 hits. He might just reach the plateau on the homestand, but he didn't get a hit in this game. (He currently needs seven more hits after getting two in yesterday's 9-1 Yankees' triumph.)

And yes, I came somewhat close to finally getting a ball once again. This time, Granderson's homerun came five rows in front of where we were sitting. I mean, you could actually see the rotation of the ball.

And my family did get on camera, barely, when they showed the fan who nabbed the ball. And he made a fine catch, and he deserved the ball as a souvenir he will never forget.

But alas, my nearly 50 year quest to get a ball remains just that. I have been close on dozens of occasions, but I have never snared a ball.

Maybe next time--we are going again on June 25.

But since we are sitting in God's Country for that game, I doubt it.

The quest continues ...

Friday, June 10, 2011

Rant #523: Crazy From the Heat

It's only June 10. The summer is officially 11 days away.

It's hot, and lots of New Yorkers are being effected by the heat.

The Weiner thing remains hot. Now we hear that his constituents don't want him to resign.

Man, are New York City voters the dumbest in the nation? Remember, these same voters put Michael Bloomberg in the mayor's office for three terms, and now, all of a sudden, they complain about him. What about his previous two terms?

Maybe it is the heat. Yesterday, it pushed 100 degrees with like 101 percent humidity here.

People do get crazy from the heat. I guess Weiner's constituents have already reached that point.

Or they just adore his body parts.

It was so hot in New York yesterday ...

"How hot was it?"

It was so hot that a free concert by the Black Eyed Peas was cancelled--and people complained about it.

With violent thunderstorms hitting all points of New York, the show was cancelled. It was supposed to have drawn upwards of 60,000 people.

Although there was a threat of thunder and lightning, as well as violent winds, people complained when the show was cancelled due to the weather.

I guess those people are the same people who think Weiner should stay in office.

Yes, people do get crazy from the heat, and perhaps no one gets crazier than New Yorkers.

I don't know why, but they do.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Rant #522: Weiner Roasts, Scandal Toasts

Yes, it is back to the Weiner roast.

A lewd photo that is allegedly that of Rep. Anthony Weiner has surfaced, and Democrats and Republicans are basically agreeing for the first time in memory: this guy has got to go.

But he steadfastly refuses to resign.

Now, we hear that Weiner's wife is pregnant.

It all brings up the title of the old Clash song: "Should I Stay or Should I Go."

I am sure Mrs. Weiner is pondering this subject as I type this. Is it better to be with or, or be without him, especially since an innocent child is going to be thrown into the mix?

I am not defending Weiner, but it is almost hilarious how when a man is down like this, all these people come out of the woodwork to chastise him.

Some of his Facebook and Twitter friends have surfaced, but the latest one is perhaps the saddest.

A woman he formerly dated for a brief period--and who has stayed in touch with him as a friend (and I mean a real friend, not an electronic one)--has come out of whatever hole she was in and said how disappointed she was in him.

She has gone into somewhat lurid detail about various things he might have said and done, while in the same breath praising him for always being there, helping her parents in times of need, helping her when she needed assistance, etc.

With friends like this, do you really need enemies?

Weiner has now become "Entertainment Tonight" fodder, and I am sure this is turning on a lot of potential future Facebook friends of his. I can't see any other reason for this to be happening.

Weiner is supposedly going to do some damage control. I heard a report this morning that he was going to hire a team to repair his image.

Heck, Bill Clinton--who did far worse than Weiner, and he was the President, yet--has survived, because he has tapped into people's selective memories.

Why can't Weiner do the same?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Rant #521: Today's Your Birthday

Now that the Weiner thing is all over the place, I thought I would break away from that dumbness for a few moments and let you know that two talented people celebrate their birthdays today.

Although the two people are still vibrant today, the only thing they really share is that they came of age--and into our notice--during the 1960s.

Don Grady, the talented kid actor and musician on the "My Three Sons" TV show, and Joan Rivers, the groundbreaking comedienne, both were born on this date, in 1944, and 1933, respectively.

Grady, whose real last name is Agrati, actually came on the scene in the late 1950s as one of the stars of "The Mickey Mouse Club," then segued over to "My Three Sons," one of the most popular TV sitcoms of all time. It ran from 1960 to 1972, first on ABC, then CBS.

Originally, Grady--as Robbie Douglas--played the kid we could most identify with, the middle child who meant well, but always got into trouble.

Then, as the show matured and casting changes came into play, Grady became a straighter arrow, and followed in the footsteps of his dad Steve (Fred MacMurray) as the leader of his own family of three sons (triplets).

After the show, Grady remained active behind the scenes as a composer and singer, and he has put out a number of CDs. He wrote the theme to the long-running Phil Donahue program.

Rivers, who real last name is Molinsky, was one of the trailblazing female comics of her day, along with Phyllis Diller, Totie Fields, and a few others.

She talked about the American experience as the Jewish wife, or the Jewish experience as an American wife. Whatever way it was, it was funny, and her numerous appearances on "The Ed Sullivan Show" cemented her popularity.

She rose through the ranks, and eventually was one of Johnny Carson's replacement hosts when he took off for vacation, which was pretty often.

She had her own talk show, which rankled Carson, and after the suicide of her husband, she reinvented herself as a fashion chronicler, along with her daughter, Melissa.

Two more disparate personalities you couldn't find, but they do share the same birthday.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Rant #520: Weiner Cooked

In a press conference that resembled a roast, Rep. Anthony Weiner admitted to posting and sending suggestive photos and messages from his Facebook and Twitter accounts.

This became massive page one news not just in New York, but around the country.

How could a legislator destroy his career with this obsession?

Many people are book smart, and Weiner certainly is one of those people.

But often, when people are book smart, they are lacking in other areas.

This guy has no common sense at all, and I mean none.

Here is a relatively young guy, in his 40s, sending around pictures and messages that maybe a 14-year old would dabble in.

It's bad enough when a 40-something guy does this, but it is much, much worse when he is a legislator, voted in by the constituency to uphold the law.

And to lie about it for days, well, we have had plenty of lying politicians--do we need another one?

Weiner shot himself in the foot by doing these things.

He was a rising star in the Democratic Party, and was likely going to run for the mayor of New York City once Mayor Bloomberg's tyrannical run is over.

He was also becoming better known on the national stage, as the was vociferous in his approval of the Obama health care program, and on other national matters.

Now, because of his electronic addiction, he probably will simply be labeled as another politician who crashed under the weight of his own demons.

And we have had so many of them lately. Look at John Edwards. And how about Bill Clinton and Ah-nold?

Weiner should have known better. On top of everything else, he is a newlywed.

Go figure.

He will now be investigated for any misuse of power while sending pictures of himself around to some of his "friends." If he used any government-issued devices while doing this, he could be censured.

But what of his constituents? Do they want a guy like this representing them?

He is now a national joke, a punchline to comedians' one liners.

I would think the people that voted him into office would attempt to move him out of that office.

Weiner vows to stay on and not resign.

Would you want this guy representing you?

He can't even control himself.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Rant #519: Sweet 18

Today is my 18th wedding anniversary.

I don't take such celebrations lightly, but today is a work day, and my wife is working late, so I won't see her until past 8:30 p.m. tonight.

We did go out with our son to Chinese food on Saturday night. It wasn't that great, but I guess it could have been worse.

What can you do?

I remember the day very vividly, June 6, 1993. It was windy as all hell, and we had an outdoor ceremony. Everything was blowing over, and I thought the kids that were there--my two nephews at the time, and my daughter--would blow away.

My soon-to-be wife was radiant. She wore the most beautiful wedding gown. She was smashing, to say the least.

All of our families and friends were there, including my mother-in-law, who was gravely ill. She lived to see her daughter married, and she had a great time for the short period she was there. She passed away just a few weeks later.

I was very excited to get married, and remember, this was my second--and I avowed my last--time. I thought I finally found the right girl to marry, and I was right. Eighteen years is a long time, but it is just one-third of my life and my wife's life, just to put it into perspective.

I really wish I would have met her earlier--even a year earlier. But the past 18 years have been the happiest of my life.

We have had an excellent marriage. We are pretty much on the same page on most things, although we differ on others, which makes it interesting.

She is a moody person, wearing her feelings on her sleeve, while I basically go with the flow, although I do get upset at times.

She likes spicier food, I like food that is delicately seasoned.

She likes an occasional beer, I like lemonade (and before my operation, soda).

She hates basketball, I love the game.

I also turned a former Mets fan into a Yankees lifer. She finally turned the corner when she became a Scott Brosius fan, and she has never looked back.

And we produced a son who is going through lots of growing pains as a teenager. But he will turn out all right.

She is the stepmother to my daughter from my first marriage. Although my wife doesn't get to be a stepmother very often, when my daughter is back home, she fills the role as best she can.

The bottom line is that I love my wife, I really do. She is intriguing, perplexing, mysterious and interesting, and the bottom line is that I am nuts for her.

We met on a blind date set up by one of those old fashioned dating services, pre-Internet or electronic dating. They basically asked me "what" I wanted, and they delivered.

She is half Italian, on her mother's side. She looks like Adrienne Barbeau, sort of, but she really doesn't, but that is how she described herself to me on the phone when we first chatted before we met.

Lucky me. Yes, I am a real lucky guy.

Nothing against anyone else, but I have the best wife in the world, bar none.

I love my wife, and I can't wait for the next 18 years ... or even the next 180.

It should be fun.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Rant #518: Taylor/Burton On Big Screen?

The fascination the world continues to have about the love affair between actors Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton might find its way onto the big screen.

Reports are that a movie based on the book "Furious Love", about the twosome's love affairs, marriages, and divorces, might be in the works. Martin Scorcese is supposedly involved in this possible project.

Heaven knows what sense making a movie of this stuff makes for Paramount, which hopes to have this film under its monicker, but speculation is already rampant about who will portray the luscious Taylor and the boozing Burton.

All the studio has to do is to come to me. I can help them out with some suggestions. Here are the positives and negatives of these suggestions:

Natalie Portman: A fine actress, but way too skinny--and young--to play Taylor.

Angelina Jolie: See above.

Brad Pitt: Might be a decent choice, but he would have to wear lots of makeup to approximate Burton.

George Clooney: Another decent choice, but he is way better looking than Burton ever was.

Tom Cruise: No way. The guy can't act, never could, and his last couple of movie bombs show that he may be on the short side of his career right now.

Pamela Anderson: No, sorry, too phony and no talent at all (no, not even there--they're fake!).

Jennifer Anniston: The most overrated actress in Hollywood. She's too skinny, too.

Ah-Nold: The former governor would have to trade his Austrian accent for a British one. He may have had the lines that made Maria and that other woman swoon, but it won't work here.

Anthony Weiner: Way too skinny, and it isn't proven yet whether he has some problems that go way beyond his congressional district.

Jane Lynch: A good actress, but she is, well, too ... manly? Nah, she wouldn't be a good Burton either.

Beyonce: What did Michael Jackson use to make his skin color look lighter? Nah, it won't work here.

Donald Trump: I can't image it, and he would have to do something with his hair.

Derek Jeter: I think Minka Kelly might mind.

Minka Kelly: I think Derek Jeter would mind, especially if he wasn't cast as Burton.

My wife and I: Nope. She could definitely pull off Taylor--she has the look and the build--but me, nope, I don't have the hair and I don't drink, slap around my wife, or fool around with other women.

As you can see, the possibilities are endless ...

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