Saturday, June 29, 2013

3 Chords & the Truth: Fun is in not getting there


Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?


No.

If you think about it, in this life we never quite get "there." We've booked till-Kingdom-come passage on the journey of life, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

You see, our journeys, if we do them right, are ones of unending discovery -- we're always being surprised by life. We're always learning something new . . . even if it's old.

This week, like every week on 3 Chords & the Truth, is kinda like that. Because we're trying to do the Big Show right.

Like life.

LIFE BRINGS, this time on the program, a world of "grown-up music" from grown-ups' radio out of the mists of memory and middle-age musing. Your Mighty Favog gets in those moods sometimes.  This time on the Big Show, the Royal We are wondering what if we took all this old stuff from back in the day -- the stuff Mom and Dad listened to and toward which idiot kids like me turned up our snot-noses -- and brought it to the present, throwing in a little contemporary stuff and a lot of jazz.

Just another musical milepost on the 3 Chords & the Truth journey of discovery . . . and fun.

I mean, if discovery can't be fun sometimes, you just as well crawl under a rock. But I digress.

Let's just say this part of the journey is learning that when former snot-nose kids have to eat some record (and radio) crow over the succeeding decades, it ain't bad once you get used to it. And this edition of the Big Show not only ain't bad, it's pretty dadgum good.

Enjoy!

It's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there.  Aloha.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Turn out the lights, the party's over

June's almost over, another College World Series has been consigned to the pages of Omaha sports history, and now it's time for fireworks, sweet corn, blistering Plains heat and daydreaming about state fairs and college football.
But not until we get in some parting shots.
Like these.
 



The cotton-candy dude abides

If you don't count some smart-assed teenager plopping himself down in the middle of a bunch of Mississippi State fans at the last game of the College World Series, then yelling "C'mon, Bruins! Beat those rednecks!" . . .
And if you lay aside an incensed Bulldog partisan responding in his thick Mississippi drawl with "C'mon 'Dawgs! Beat them queers!" and thereby proving the smart-assed teenager's point, the most memorable sound coming from Sections 203 and 204 at TD Ameritrade Park in downtown Omaha went something like this.
"Cotton caaaaandy-buhdybuhdybuhdy-buhdyyyyyyy! Cotton caaaaandybuhdybuhdy-buhdybuhdyyyyyyy!"

THAT meant the SnoFloss cotton-candy dude (not to be confused with the Sta-Puft marshmallow man in Ghostbusters) soon would be coming down an aisle near you. I almost was wishing I could abide cotton candy.

"Cotton caaaaandybuhdy-buhdybuhdybuhdyyyyyyy! Cotton caaaaandybuh-dybuhdybuhdybuhdyyyyyyy!"

The first time I laid eyes on the purveyor of $5-per-cavity SnoFloss, I turned to my wife and our friends and said "Holy crap! It's The Dude!" Or at least a young, cleaner-shaven version of Jeff Lebowski, the lesser. They all agreed.

And I could totally see The Jeff Bridges Dude selling cotton candy at the ball yard. Your mileage may vary, of course.

Would cotton candy and White Russians abide? I haven't a clue.

NOR DO I have a clue about the real backstory of the SnoFloss cotton-candy dude. For all I know, he's a tea-party Republican pursuing his MBA at Creighton. With an emphasis on cotton caaaaandybuhdy-buhdybuhdybuhdyyyyyyy!

You may be a radio geek if . . .


. . . your ringtone is the late-'60s/early-'70s sounder for ABC radio's American Contemporary Network. If you are of a certain age, you'll remember it. 

Yeah, I'm a radio geek, all right.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Beer may be hazardous to your manhood


I could be wrong (though I really doubt it), but I think there's a metaphor for contemporary American society squirming around somewhere in this Ohio story.

Also everywhere in this story is a sharp sympathy pain down the groin of every living man . . . and probably a few dead ones, too.

Brace yourselves and read on. Or not.
Lorain Police say a homeless man was Life Flighted to the hospital after cutting off his penis.

Cops were called to the area of East 21st Street and Access Road Tuesday around noon after an unauthorized man was seen on CSX Railroad property.

Officers found the man with his hands and gym shorts covered in blood. He told officers that he had just cut his penis off. According to the police report, he said he tried to use an old rusty saw, but he used a broke bottle when the saw didn't work.

The man told police that "Busch (beer) made me do it."
YOU KNOW WHAT? I'd love to hear a contemporary Don Draper's sponsor pitch to the Busch beer people with that one stuck in his mind. And close to his heart . . . which you know if you're a Mad Men aficionado.
"Gentlemen, I'll probably never see you again, so I have to tell you something.
"I didn't enjoy Busch beer on a sun-splashed sandy beach with a blonde on each arm. That's what every American man would like to think of whenever he pops the top on a cold Busch. Get it? (leer) No, the truth is, I grew up in a whorehouse in Pennsylvania, and I was raised by a stepmother who didn't want me. 

"After I'd go through the pockets of johns while the whore were otherwise, shall we say 'entertaining' them, the girls would pay me off with a cold Busch beer. And I savored every golden drop of that cheap-ass beer because, gentlemen, your beer was the only thing that could kill enough of my brain cells -- dull enough of the psychic pain -- so I could somehow cope with growing up in a whorehouse with a stepmomma who couldn't care less if you lived or died, which, let me tell you, is kind of like cutting your own tallywhacker off with a busted beer bottle. Probably an old Miller High Life bottle. 

"Frankly, if I had my way, I'd tell you not to advertise your beer at all. Because if Busch beer is good enough to kill the pain of growing up in a whorehouse . . . if it's good enough to anesthetize you while you cut off your own tallywhacker, it will sell itself with no help from Sterling Cooper and Partners. 

"Gentlemen, thank you for your time. I'm going around the corner to get loaded."

The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat


For the College World Series championship
last night, your final score is UCLA 8 . . .

 
Mississippi State 0

Sunday, June 23, 2013

What would they know of such things?


This is the view from Omaha's TD Ameritrade Park just north of downtown.

One sportswriter from Baton Rouge, home of the LSU Tigers, apparently finds this as surprising as he finds the new home of the College World Series lacking in charm.

While I will admit that, with the dismantling and redevelopment of the Union Pacific repair yard and the ASARCO lead smelter, NoDo doesn't have the "gritty" charm of, say, a vista dominated by refineries, chemical plants and a crumbling working man's paradise, you sometimes have to wonder how willfully insular some people -- and places -- can be.

Scott Rabalais writes in The Advocate:
As for the College World Series’ new home, there is no question the ballpark is an upgrade over old Rosenblatt Stadium, a collection of jigsaw pieces the NCAA and the city of Omaha assembled into a 24,000-seat ballpark over the years.

TDAPO is clean, has a broad, sweeping main concourse that allows you to keep up with the lack of offense on the field from any concession or souvenir stand, much improved locker room facilities, indoor batting tunnels and state-of-the-art media facilities.

What it doesn’t have is charm, something the College World Series has lost in the quest to be bigger and better.

Rosenblatt wasn’t the best ballpark in America. It had claustrophobic, dark concourses, few of the all-important club seats and cramped clubhouses for the participating teams. It was the kind of place where you had to go outside to change your mind.

But what it lacked in modern amenities it made up for with buckets of homey ambiance. It fit into the slightly gritty South Omaha neighborhood that grew up around it like a ball in a well broken in baseball glove. The ballpark was like a beloved weekend retreat on False River — not the place where you would want to entertain heads of state, but where you wanted to visit over and over again.

TD Ameritrade Park shiny and new and is surrounded by shiny new restaurants, watering holes and eateries. As an example of urban renewal, it’s top notch. Who knew Omaha could look so slick and refined?

But the new ballpark has the feel of something valuable behind glass that is to be admired but not touched, and certainly not a place where you would feel comfortable putting your feet up on the furniture. It’s a place you would like to visit, but sort of like going to the White House. You’re afraid if you sit on a chair the Secret Service is going to come repelling out of the rafters and hoist you away.

Another thing TD Ameritrade Park probably has over Rosenblatt: big walk-in freezers. In that respect, the new CWS ballpark is in keeping with the warm and fuzzy feeling that everyone gets from the NCAA.

At least TDAPO accomplishes one very important thing: it kept the College World Series in Omaha with an unprecedented 25-year contract. If a new home that leaves everyone with a bit of a chill is the Faustian bargain necessary to guarantee that the city which nurtured the CWS – which loved it before rest of the country figured out it was cool — then it’s worth the loss of rough-hewn folksiness that was Rosenblatt. But just barely.
WHO KNEW it would take a downtown stadium for a sportswriter who's been following LSU to Omaha for years to notice the city's progression toward "slick and refined" over the last couple of decades?

As someone who happily left Baton Rouge for Omaha before it became "so slick and refined," my inner snarkster muses that Rabalais' profound revelation about my city is kind of like a resident of South Sudan proclaiming his disbelief at how "slick and refined" were the Norwegian aid workers. Get out much?

THEN AGAIN, when this is your ballpark just north of downtown, maybe people should just consider the source. Though I'm sure Pete Goldsby Field is loaded with charm. Tell 'em the story again about how Felipe Alou wasn't allowed to play in an Evangeline League game there against the Baton Rouge Rebels in the late '50s because of . . .  you know.

I always find it amazing, though not necessarily surprising, when folks from places that rarely even try give left-handed "compliments" to places that bust their asses to excel. Is where I'm coming from.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

3 Chords & the Truth: He played the hits

EDITOR'S NOTE: This blog post originally ran Aug. 31, 2009, and then again in September 2010. I repost it again today in memory of A. Lamar Simmons, the man who in 1946 helped to give life to a little radio station in Baton Rouge, La. -- one that would in time be known to all as the Big 91 or, alternatively, the Big Win 910 -- and then went on to run it for decades.

Likewise, this week's edition of 3 Chords & the Truth will be an encore presentation of a tribute to 'LCS, and ultimately to the Top-40 stations of my youth, that first ran Sept. 10, 2010.

May God rest your soul, Mr. Simmons. And thank you.

Here's the show.

* * *

One thing kids today will never know is what it was like to have your own radio station.

Not what it's like to be a bazillionnaire and own your own big-time broadcast outlet but, instead, what it's like to be devoted to a radio station, this hometown entity that plays cool tunes (well, mostly) and becomes your window on a world much, much larger than the hick burg in which you find yourself trapped. Face it, unless you're a kid growing up in New York, L.A. or Chicago, you think where you're from is That Which Must Be Escaped.

And I'll bet L.A. and New York kids probably want to flee to Paris or Rome. Maybe London.

You see, long ago, radio stations were living things. They were staffed by live human beings whose job it was to entertain and enlighten other live human beings. These were called "listeners," something radio has radically fewer of these days.

Oftentimes, way back deah den (as my mom says), people would find one station or another's personalities and music so compelling that the station, in a real sense, became "their" station. Listeners took emotional and figurative ownership.

They listened day and night. They called the DJs on the "request line." (And note, please, this was an era when "DJ" immediately brought to mind a radio studio, not a dance club.)

Listeners went nuts for the contests, whether it was the chance to win $1,000 or just a promotional 45. They'd pick up a station's weekly survey to see where their favorite songs ranked this week.

They'd wake up to the "morning man" and boogie down to the groovy sounds the afternoon drive guy was spinning out through their transistor radios.

Boogie down to the groovy sounds? Ah, screw it. You had to be there.

THE REAL business radio was in back during its second golden age -- the Boomer age of Top-40 AM blowtorches . . . and of laid-back, trippy FM free-form outfits, too -- was the business of making memories. That stations sold some pimple cream while selling even more records was just a happy accident, at least from the perspective of their loyal fans.

Back when the Internet was more like the Inter-what?, radio was the Facebook of its day. It told us about the world . . . and about each other. It served up new music for our consideration.

Likewise, a station's listeners formed the pre-social-networking incarnation of what became Facebook groups and fan pages. In short, between the hits and the ads, between the disc jockeys and the contests, radio was community.

All you needed to join was an eight-transistor job, or maybe a hand-me-down table radio in your bedroom, its tubes glowing orange in the darkness as the magic flowed from its six-inch loudspeaker.

AT ITS BEST, radio comforted the afflicted, afflicted the comfortable, lifted downcast spirits, was a friend to the lonely and provided the soundtrack for the times of our lives. To this day, I can hear a song and immediately think "WLCS, 1975," or "WTIX, summer on the Petite Amite River, 1972."

And every early December, my mind will drift back to a late night in 1980 when I was studying for finals at Louisiana State, with my head in a book and WFMF on the stereo. Bad news through the headphones, and -- at least for my generation -- "something touched us deep inside."

It was the Day the Music Died. Again.

Tonight my mind drifts back to Aug. 31, 1984. That was the night a close friend passed into that good night of blessed memory.

That night, the Big 91, WLCS, played its last Top-40 hit and left the Baton Rouge airwaves for its new home in the youthful memories of aging teen-agers like myself. Two-and-a-half decades later, it just doesn't seem right that it's gone.

OF COURSE, lots of things don't seem right nowadays.

That WLCS isn't there anymore -- hasn't been there for more than a generation -- is just one of them in the mind of one Boomer kid from a middling city in the Deep South. You can read about why that is here.

But a couple-odd decades in retrospect, it seems to me that Aug. 31, 1984, was in a way about as profound as the deaths of Buddy Holly and John Lennon -- the intangible end of something we still haven't quite gotten our minds (or our culture) around.

It's not that the actual deaths of Holly or Lennon, or of the "Big Win 910," precipitated some sort of musical or cultural cataclysm in themselves. It's just that things were happening.

And being that things were happening that more or less coincided with each instance of "bad news on the doorstep," it's handy to use these events as markers.

For me, the demise of WLCS -- and the deaths of many stations that were nothing if not actual life forces in their own cultural rights -- signals The Great Unraveling.

The unraveling of a common culture is what I'm getting at, I guess.

Lookit. As much as we kids claimed stations like 'LCS as our own, we can't forget that many of our parents listened, too. Or that Top-40 radio of old played what was big, period -- be that Jefferson Airplane or Frank Sinatra. Because of WLCS, I think I could comprehend more than my own little world of teen-age angst and teen-age fads.

And it's why I feel just as comfortable with Andy Williams and Tony Bennett -- and, yes, Ol' Blue Eyes -- as I do with (ahem) "harder" fare. My world is bigger, richer, more diverse because of a 1,000-watt AM station in a midsized Southern state capital too often prone to calling too much in life "good enough for government work."

Thank God, that couldn't often describe the Big 91.

And because "good enough" wasn't often good enough at WLCS -- because the men and women who worked there just did what they did and did it well -- I owe its memory more than I can repay.

If, after these 25 years, somebody were to require that I pen an epitaph for my long-dead friend, I'd write just this: WLCS played the hits.

Friday, June 21, 2013

These colors don't run


LSU is gone from the College World Series, but Eunice, La., is in the house at the North Carolina-North Carolina State game Thursday.

Geaux Tigers!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

CWS: The flow of humanity

As we saw oh this light I swear you, 
emerge blinking into to tell me it's alright . . .

As we soar walls, every siren is a symphony, 
and every tear's a waterfall, is a waterfall. . . .
-- Coldplay

Just listen to the music of the traffic in the city,
Linger on the sidewalk
where the neon signs are pretty
How can you lose?

The lights are much brighter there
You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares
So go downtown; things'll be great when you're
Downtown; no finer place for sure
Downtown everything's waiting for you
-- Petula Clark

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Zesto!

At the College World Series in Omaha, you have your baseball.
But you also have your Zesto, because the CWS just ain't the CWS without some soft serve or my personal favorite, a hot-fudge malt.

Life is, as often as not, a long, hard slog through a vale of tears. I consider baseball and Zesto as tender mercies best enjoyed on the downslope of June in a river city on the Great Plains of America.
 Amen.

Seat with a privileged view

The view from my seat at Tuesday's LSU-North Carolina game at the College World Series was stellar.

The game? Not so much.

In my humble opinion, my town -- Omaha -- is becoming America's next great city. Officials in other towns like to say things like that; Omaha just does it.

MY HOPE, and my expectation, is that the old cow town on the banks of the muddy Mo will just keep up the good work, surviving even the ideological idiocy of its new Republican mayor, Jean Stothert, who as a councilwoman last year took the lead in negotiating a new fire-union contract that broke the city budget and who now vows to balance it without raising taxes or diminishing essential city services.

That's an easy task if you believe in magic.

Unfortunately, we're now starting to get an idea of how Her Honor defines "essential city services." Public libraries would not be among them, according to the Omaha World-Herald. 
Omaha Public Library branches could close and other service cuts could be made in light of budget cuts proposed by Mayor Jean Stothert, the head of the city’s Library Board said.

The Omaha Public Library Board will discuss the potential cuts today, board President Stuart Chittenden said in a Tuesday memo to the mayor.

Chittenden said a $13.1 million library budget suggested by Stothert for 2014 “will require reductions in both services and resources.”

According to Chittenden’s letter, the library is facing a potential cut of nearly $393,000 for the rest of 2013 and all of 2014.

Last week, Stothert said city department directors had submitted 2014 budget proposals that exceed forecast revenue by roughly $20 million. The city also faces a revenue shortfall of about $13.5 million in its 2013 budget.

Stothert asked the directors last week to cut their 2014 budget requests to certain targets, although she declined to identify the specific numbers for each department.

Department directors were to submit their trims to the Mayor’s Office by the end of business Wednesday, Stothert said.
LIKE THE I-got-mine right wing of her party (And is there any other wing in the GOP anymore?), Stothert is happy to give a free ride to those who don't need one while balancing the municipal ledger on the backs of those who can't afford a beautiful view from the ol' ballgame . . . or regular cybertrips to Amazon.com.

The genius of Omaha is an engaged citizenry and a civic elite fiercely protective of the family jewels -- the city's economy and its quality of life. Pray God that Omaha's own Marie Antoinette shortly will be put in her place by her betters -- an expansive group here in River City, as it turns out.

Now back to your regularly scheduled ballgame.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

It's the most wonderful time of the year


If it's the third week of June, and if you're in Omaha, Neb., then it must be the most wonderful time of the year.

College World Series time of the year.

Thus it has been in this fair city -- the magical melding of late spring, early summer, Midwestern hospitality and college baseball -- since 1950. When the CWS got to town all those decades ago, it was a little event at a nice little municipal stadium called Municipal Stadium.

A decade and a half into the tournament's standing engagement in Nebraska's largest city, Municipal Stadium became Rosenblatt Stadium, named for the popular former mayor and onetime ball player. It was still a nice little municipal stadium, though.

That was before cable TV and before ESPN.

When TV made college baseball a small-screen hit, the National Collegiate Athletic Association gave the city fathers a sign they couldn't wave off. The sport was growing; local organizers were steadily growing the CWS into something that wasn't such a little event anymore, and the nice little municipal stadium on the hill started to get a whole lot bigger and a whole lot nicer.

And that was good for a couple more decades. Until it wasn't enough.

So once again, Omaha's movers and shakers saw what they had to do (with the help of the NCAA), and then this growing, evolving river city on the Mighty Missouri got 'er done.

And thus this third downtown College World Series in the bigger and better TD Ameritrade Park.

Verily, a body could become used to this. Happily. I mean . . . just look.


 
And look.


 
And look some more.




   
And look at the crowd flowing like a river down city streets.


 
And through stadium concourses.


 
And into the watering hole and eatery across the street.


 
Play ball!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

What hath Deus vult?


This is the "Holy Pelican" at St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church in downtown Omaha.

The mother pelican feeding her young on her own flesh and blood is a medieval symbol of both the Eucharist and of charity.

Like what tender tales tell of the Pelican
Bathe me, Jesus Lord, in what Thy Bosom ran
Blood that but one drop of has the pow’r to win
All the world forgiveness of its world of sin.
-- Adoro te devote by St. Thomas Aquinas

MEANTIME in downtown Baton Rouge, Gov. Bobby Jindal -- who God most certainly is going to get, but good, in due time -- today seeks to make this, which adorns Louisiana's state flag and seal, an equally powerful symbol of irony.

What he'll tell people, though, if he sees this picture from Omaha, is that it means God has willed LSU to win the College World Series here.


This well might be the case, actually -- after five years of Jindal's budgetary savagery, my alma mater certainly is due to catch a divine break. Geaux Tigers!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

3 Chords & the Truth: An offer you can't resist


As if getting to listen to a classic song from Hawaiian legend Alfred Apaka wasn't enough reason to listen to the Big Show today, I have 23 other good reasons for you.

Of course, there are the other 22 bits of musical excellence on this week's episode of 3 Chords & the Truth. And then you have your witty, charming and thoroughly brilliant Mighty Favog.

OK, you have 22 other wonderful songs on this edition of the Big Show.  We promise that Favog doesn't talk all that much . . . concentrate on the music. It's as eclectic as the host is, uh . . . uh . . . uh, eccentric. Yeah, that's the word.

FOR EXAMPLE, in just this edition of the epitome of eclecticism on the Internets, you'll hear bands and artists like:
  • Creedence Clearwater Revival,
  • Chuck Prophet
  • The Avett Brothers
  • Mimi & Richard Fariña
  • The Allman Brothers Band 
  • Rosanne Cash
  • Bruce Springsteen 
  • Billy Bragg
  • John Prine 
  • Glenn Miller & the American Band of the A E F 
  • Frankie Carle
  • Les Elgart and His Orchestra 
  • Eddie Heywood 
  • Al Hirt 
  • Crystal Gayle . . . 
. . . AND MUCH, MUCH MORE! If you act in the next 24 hours, you also will get other episodes of 3 Chords & the Truth absolutely free!

So you get the most recent edition of the Big Show for free, and then the extra added bonus of several other gems of freeform programming at no additional cost. Act now!

It's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The hefty troll of census acquisitions


I am from Louisiana. Thus, I have seen some political train wrecks in my time.

But this one in Port Allen, just across the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge, takes the cake.

All you need to know is this: In five months in office after her November election, Mayor Deedy Slaughter billed the taxpayers for a personal trip to President Obama's inauguration, raised her salary by $20,000 when no funds had been budgeted for that, hired her brother-in-law as chief of staff, fired the city's chief financial officer -- pant, inhale -- was ordered by a state court to reinstate the city's chief financial officer, subsequently took away the chief financial officer's authority to deal with finances or sign checks, complained to the U.S. attorney general that white council members were running a smear campaign against her because she's black -- wheeze, gasp -- and hasn't yet gotten around to formally introducing her city budget proposal, even though the new fiscal year begins July 1.

But at a council meeting Wednesday, Deedy explained it all: "I been witch hunt since Day 1. I been fighting acquisitions after acquisitions."

Well, if you put it that way. . . .

For all the fun the local newspaper and Channel 9 have been having with this pluperfect example of civic dysfunction in the Gret Stet, Channel 2 in Baton Rouge, WBRZ, has been having more. Here's a f'rinstance from February.


NOW, if you're not from Louisiana, do not do an Internet search for any of this stuff. Chances are, as a non-native, you don't have the stomach for it . . . or a brain acclimated since birth to craziness like this.

Go in cold, and you may never emerge from the secure wing. It would be akin to a Mormon partying with Keith Richards -- you just know that's not going to end well.

Sooner or later, the guy unaccustomed to even caffeine is smoking anything that will burn and chugging anything in a bottle and snorting anything that will pass through a straw . . . and then he can't remember what happened next.

In this case, you -- the outsider -- might stumble across a local Internet forum or something and see how poorly everyone is acquitting themselves in what became a racial pissing match about three seconds in. You'll come across the N-word, and eventually you'll start thinking representative democracy is way overrated.

Just save yourself the trouble. Enjoy the show. Try not to think about how this isn't reality TV but, instead, is reality somewhere in these United States.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

SMASH RUNNING-DOG VERBAL DIARRHEA
OF DILETTANTE U.S. REVOLUTIONARIES!


Does anybody in his right mind take crap like this seriously?

I found this hand-scrawled tract lying on the ground at Omaha's almost-dead, soon to be razed Crossroads Mall today, and I think there's a metaphor somewhere in that circumstance. I'm also thinking somebody watched "Reds" five times too many. Sheesh.

What's worse is that I agree with the general sentiment, hiding though it be in a steaming pile of outraged agitprop. Yes, the growing inequality of our society is a bad thing -- it's a very bad thing if you're the minimum-wage bug and not the overcompensated windshield. And what Wall Street bankers and bond traders have gotten away with the last decade (and more) is outrageous.

You can't even call it beating the rap. There's no rap to beat, and that is an affront to both social justice and civil society.

Furthermore, balancing a budget on the backs of those who most need "entitlements" like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid when the "1 percent" -- indeed, even the 10 percent -- are well capable of paying a fairer share of taxes would be fundamentally unjust. Cruel, even.

WE ARE our brother's keeper -- this comes from a Very High Authority, indeed -- and a society for which that is not an organizing principle is one that would be, in a word, brutish.

There's a lot you can say on this subject in support of reining in Wall Street and bestowing a little governmental mercy upon Main Street, not to mention Skid Row. It all would comport with what Abraham Lincoln called "the better angels of our nature," and some of it might even persuade a few Fox News Channel viewers.

Hand-scrawled tracts parroting a bunch of Leon Trotsky's B-sides?  Not so much. 

It's a natural fact that anywhere you land on God's green earth, those who are quickest to lend a helping hand -- to share with you whatever they have -- tend to be those who can least afford their own generosity. It doesn't take much for these souls to "give until it hurts."

"The widow's mite" wasn't just something Jesus pulled out of thin air.

BUT the thing is, those in our society who have the most right to be damned angry at their plight generally aren't half as mad as America's outraged, tract-scrawling, fill-in-the-blank-occupying dilettante revolutionaries, whose sound and fury thus far has signified pretty much nothing. Kind of like John Reed back in the day.

Frankly, I think America's have-nots deserve better representation.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

The Weather With Cap'n Sandy

Yo ho! Yo ho!
What's the weather going to be?
Here's the man who knows,
Let's take a look and see.
Here is Cap'n Sandy with the weather he has found
For Savannah and for Chatham and the counties all around!
 
I'm of two minds on this, which means I may have lost mine completely and you might want to pay me no mind at all.

My one mind thinks that "Savannah Sunshine" may not just have been a weather forecast . . . if you get my smoke signals, kemo sabe. Then again, my other mind thinks, "This is freakin' great! What boring people we have become in the last 50 years."

If I were you, I'd listen to my other mind. It's less of an a-hole.

It laments the loss of eccentric hometown treasures like The Weather With Cap'n Sandy, and it mourns the passing of the men and women who became local legends. Theirs may not have been a better culture than the postmodern one we've created, but both of my minds say it certainly was a richer and more humane one.

Und I vood haff veys uff dealink vith ziss Calamity Clam, ya!

'And may God's love be with you . . .'


Canadian astronauts rock! No, really.

The Canadian Space Agency collaborated on this high-flying remake of David Bowie's "Space Oddity" last month, but I only just now got around to watching the music video, which needed absolutely no special effects to take your breath away. And Chris Hadfield can hold his own as a musician.

Reliable sources tell me NASA wanted to beat Canada to the punch in extraterrestrial music videos, but the project was $6 billion over budget when the sequester hit, and the coup de grace for the space-station version of "God Bless the USA" was when Lee Greenwood balked, saying there wasn't "no way in hell" he was "gettin' in no damn pinko-commie spaceship."

Friday, June 07, 2013

After further consideration. . . .


Kanye West was right.

Watching Taylor Swift preen and oversing her way through Marianne Faithfull's masterpiece, "As Tears Go By," is too much to bear. She needs to go away. Now.

What's worse is that the shameless and decrepit Mick Jagger has so little respect for the song he and Keith Richards wrote that he co-leads the charge in its defilement. At least Richards' acoustic-guitar work is nice.

Still, it's increasingly clear this is a band that should have hung it up before it released the "Some Girls" album in 1978. The destruction of a great legacy began then, and it's now being capped off with the band's sad and shambles-worthy 50th-anniversary tour.

WATCHING the concert videos from this tour -- videos released by the Stones themselves -- is like going to the open-casket funeral of someone who died in some horrific, fiery accident . . . with the narcissistic, imbecilic Swift preening her way through the proceedings.

Only this grotesque spectacle is totally self-inflicted.

I would have preferred to remember the deceased the way they were, back when I was young and they were good. But now I can't. The mangled, charred corpse of the "World's Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Band" forever will be branded on my brain.

File this under "The Dangers of Planning Your Own Funeral."

Crap. Even getting myself Keith Richards wasted couldn't make me forget what can't be forgotten.

Thanks, guys.

Hooked on sticky-sweet phonics


As it turns out, the soon-to-be-former president of Everybody's Favorite University had it exactly bass-ackward.

Sorry Gordon Gee of THE Oh'o Stt Un'vrsty, it appears it's the kids at the SEC schools who can read just fine. The Big Ten? Not so much.

Caramel has three syllables, the middle of which is a short "a." Un, deux, trois . . . as in the number of weeks a certain soon-to-be-former university president has left on the job.

Anyone who can read can see this, and those who can see this inhabit all the schools the pres'dnt of THE Oh'o Stt Un'vrsty contends have an illiteracy problem. Oops.

"CAR ∙ ml"? Civilized people don't know what that is, but they suspect it has something to do with candy made from melted cars. Maybe it's popular in Michigan and Ohio, where they used to make such things.

But what do I know? I'm just a "damn Catholic."

Thursday, June 06, 2013

7 can help . . . revive a landmark

 
Wow. Just wow.

In 1898, Burlington Station was built to make a big impression -- there was a world's fair going on in the young city on the Plains, and the message to Trans-Mississippi Exposition visitors was to be singular from the moment they stepped off the train.
Everything is up to date in Omaha.

A century and change later, steam locomotives have gone the way of  T. Rex (both the dinosaur and the band), and old Burlington Station has been something of a fossil itself. The last Burlington Northern passenger train pulled off into the sunset in 1971, and then-new Amtrak abandoned the depot in 1974 for much smaller, cheaper-to-maintain digs next door.

So there it has sat for almost 40 years . . . alone in its faded glory.

Likewise for the last four decades, Omahans have driven down 10th Street, glanced over from the viaduct and thought "Somebody really needs to do something with Burlington Station."

WEDNESDAY, somebody stepped up to do something with Burlington Station. KETV announced that a renovated Burlington would be the new, bigger and state-of-the-art home for Channel 7 in a couple of years.
Ariel Roblin, president and general manager of KETV, said Wednesday that the television station has been at 2665 Douglas St. for 50 years, a time of significant change for broadcasting. Station officials, looking for a larger, updated facility, considered several sites and were attracted by the chance to bring a historic building back to life while gaining more operating space.

The project represents a multimillion-dollar investment in Omaha, she said, but she declined to estimate the total cost.

“It allows us to move with the technology,” Roblin said. “We looked at all kinds of options, but this one really made sense to us because it exemplifies what we do. Bringing back an old building to something beautiful and used and honored is important to us.”
KETV's plan calls for restoring the building's exterior to its historic appearance, Roblin said, which may qualify for preservation tax credits, and installing the newest technology inside.“One of the things that rang the most true was everyone's memories of being in this building,” she said. “We haven't finalized the plans for the interior yet, but we do have in mind that there is probably going to be some area that people will be able to access so that they can experience what we've done and may take a trip down memory lane for themselves.”

The news operation would be on the building's first floor, with administration, advertising and other departments on the second floor. The site has ample parking. Roblin said plans for the 2665 Douglas property are uncertain.

Constructed in 1898 and extensively remodeled in 1930, the limestone and brick depot has been vacant, while the Union Station just to the north was restored and turned into the Durham Museum, housing historic Omaha artifacts and related exhibits.
WOW. Just wow.