Showing posts with label 1962. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1962. Show all posts

Thursday, August 15, 2019

This breaks my damn heart

1962. It was the blackest of years; it was the most idealistic and hopeful of years.

Jim Crow refused to go quietly in the South. Communism, and the fear of it, haunted everything we were, did and said in America. Between us and the Soviet Union, we almost blew up the world.

But also in 1962, if we made it through October, the world would be a better place by springtime -- we just knew it.

Young Americans brimmed with idealism. Black college kids and white college kids risked their lives for their ideals in a peaceful assault against segregationist brutality in Dixie.

The youth of a country that 17 years before had vanquished Nazi Germany and militarist Japan found inspiration in a young president who challenged them to ask what they could do for their country.

JOHN GLENN orbited the earth three times. Next stop: the moon.

America had set its gaze on the New Frontier, and John Stewart of the The Kingston Trio could write liner notes like these above.

I was 1 year old. Hope was alive and kicking. Even in the South.

2019. A broken-down, 58-year-old music-show and blog guy sits at his iMac, typing. He wonders what the fuck happened.

He reads the hopeful, idealistic and oh-God-how-naive words of the late Mr. Stewart, and he wants to cry. He fears that there are no more tears left. Even more, he's terrified that fear will be put to the test again and again.

"So now, as never before, an age of introspection is reaching every one of us." Now our nation is becoming what we've willed within ourselves -- a heart of darkness.

"The horror! The horror!"

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Christmas 1962 . . . in full-fidelity FM stereo

Here, the tree stays up until Epiphany. We do things in the proper manner.

In that spirit, Revolution 21 presents Yuletide as it was heard in 1962 -- an hour and 19 minutes of Christmas Day programming in "full-fidelity FM stereo" on KQAL radio in Omaha. If you don't remember the 1960s, particularly FM radio in the early '60s, this will be a revelation to you.

Click for full-size version
This is not today's FM radio. This is . . . how shall we put it . . . laid back. Radio by grown-ups, you could say.

It's not all that slick. Technology was more difficult then. Records skipped, and there wasn't much money in FM in 1962. The money was over on AM, back when AM radio mattered. Really mattered.

In 1962 (in 1972, for that matter), FM was for dentist offices, your mom and dad and grandma and grandpa with their "elevator music" (look it up), and frequency modulation was for the "longhairs." No, not hippies. There weren't any yet -- "beatniks" were as counterculture as you got back then. The longhairs listened to classical music, and they were a lot more cultured than you and me.

HERE, KQAL was for the longhairs and elevator-music lovers from its inception April 19, 1959. And in 1962, it was the only station in these parts broadcasting in that newfangled "FM multiplex stereo," which became a thing in June 1961 after its approval by the Federal Communications Commission.

But you'll hear from this recording that FM receivers (or multiplex adapters, which also used to be a thing) weren't as good as they would be . . . and a 54-year-old reel-to-reel tape probably doesn't sound quite as bright as it once did. And you'll hear that stations like KQAL, at 94.1 on your FM stereo dial, still were figuring out what to do with that extra channel of audio when the records weren't playing.

Sometimes it could get weird. Listen, and you'll hear what I mean. No, I will not spoil it for you.

Some day soon we all will be together
If the fates allow
Until then we’ll have to muddle through somehow

BUT THAT'S NOT what's important.

What's important is that this is the sound of Christmas in my 55-year-old head and my 55-year-old heart. It's the sound of the holidays when adults ran the world, and I was far from being one.

When I think of Christmas in our two-bedroom, one-bath house on Darryl Drive in Baton Rouge, La., this station from long ago in Omaha, where I now have lived far longer than I did in Louisiana, is pretty much what I hear. For the record, I also smell fruitcake, pecans and walnuts, fresh oranges, strong coffee, a huge spruce tree in the living room . . . and Bruce floor wax.

I hear and smell these things that are no more. The older I get, the more it happens.

With each passing year, there also are more and more "no mores." At Christmas, I see the loved ones who once filled my house and my life but are no more. I hear the voices long silent.

I remember a Christmas Day soundtrack that sounded kind of like this. As it turns out, my memories are in full-fidelity FM stereo, too.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Godspeed, John Glenn

John Glenn is dead.

And with the great astronaut's passing at age 95, so dies a part of every star-struck child of the 1960s. There's not much more a man can say -- the life of an American hero speaks for itself. And what a life Glenn had.

In an age so devoid of greatness -- in an America now so impoverished -- this is what greatness looks like. And below, as broadcast Feb. 20, 1962 on KFAB radio in Omaha, is what greatness sounded like.

Sit back and enjoy this NBC Radio special report reviewing the flight of Friendship 7.

Godspeed, John Glenn.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The things you save

Mama never threw out anything. At least not much more than garbage and old coffee grounds.
Now she's going to be 90, she fell and broke her hip and she can't live in the house in Red Oaks anymore. Mama's seen better days and, frankly, so has Red Oaks, which has the misfortune to lie north of Florida Boulevard and east of Eden in my hometown of Baton Rouge.

Week before last, my wife and I made a frenzied trip back South to see Mama in the hospital and take care of a few years' worth of loose ends. All in six days.

Part of the process that will hit almost every middle-aged child of someone in God's good time is disposing of a life -- a life that's over, or a life that's merely transitioning to a phase where your home is no longer your own, and neither are your choices. What you rarely realize until it's slapping you in the face . . . over and over and over again, that is when it's not punching you in the gut . . . is that you're disposing of your own life, too.
YOU, in the course of a week, frantically rummage through your childhood home, through all the stuff that Mama never threw out and, ultimately, through your memories both blessed and cursed. You rummage through your childhood, grabbing the precious things to take home as one grabs what's most precious as they flee a burning house, and you say goodbye.
Goodbye to all your old stuff -- yet again. Goodbye to the home of your childhood. Goodbye to your childhood. I'm home again, but Thomas Wolfe was right, or at least mostly right.
“You can't go back home to your family, back home to your childhood, back home to romantic love, back home to a young man's dreams of glory and of fame, back home to exile, to escape to Europe and some foreign land, back home to lyricism, to singing just for singing's sake, back home to aestheticism, to one's youthful idea of 'the artist' and the all-sufficiency of 'art' and 'beauty' and 'love,' back home to the ivory tower, back home to places in the country, to the cottage in Bermude, away from all the strife and conflict of the world, back home to the father you have lost and have been looking for, back home to someone who can help you, save you, ease the burden for you, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time--back home to the escapes of Time and Memory.”
IT'S JUST as well, I reckon. But just the same, I'll hang on to these relics, second class, of one of my earliest Christmases, 'round about 1962. I'll hang onto Fred and Dino and the Flintstone Flivver. (Ninety-eight cents, cheap!)
It was a yabba dabba doo time. A dabba doo time. It was a gay old time.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Ready for the end of the world

Summer had given way to fall in October 1962, and WAVA radio in Arlington, Va., rolled out its plan for dealing with The End of Everything.

In the Oct. 15 edition of Broadcasting magazine, the station's owner outlines how he and his staff will deal with a nuclear attack on the United States until everything got back to normal. In 1962, wild optimism and massive denial was as good a game plan as anything, particularly for WAVA owner Arthur W. Arundel.

"The announcer on duty will remain at his post," the Broadcasting article went, explaining that "all other employees are excused to follow individual or family civil defense plans and to report back to the station after the attack is over and there is no danger of radioactive fallout.

"Payday will be Friday as usual," Mr. Arundel states.

Halfway through October 1962, Arundel had no idea how close he would be in mere days to implementing WAVA's not-so-doomsday plan. On Oct. 16, the Cuban Missile Crisis began. And on Oct. 22, President Kennedy went on national television to give Americans the fright of their lives.

Don't you know? It's the end of the world. Payday's on Friday.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

3 Chords & the Truth: Telstar!

There was a time that hope sprang eternal, even though the Russkies and we were ready to blow one another to Kingdom Come.

And once upon a time, government and business leaders waxed rhapsodic about how this new communications satellite might bring the world together in peace and brotherhood. In 1962, no one could foresee how this modern miracle of technology would lead to cable-news networks whose business model depends on angry viewers and yelling. Lots and lots of yelling.

Another misguided reason for optimism that year was that Snooki had not yet been born. If we knew then what we know now, we actually might have gone for the "nuclear option."

The real nuclear option.

OF COURSE, none of this is Telstar 1's fault. Telstar was a modern miracle of technology.

It did link the continents via television for the first time.

We could have used it to foster peace and brotherhood among peoples and countries.

Instead, we used the advent of the communications satellite for Fox News, MSNBC . . . and Snooki. Our bad.

What we at 3 Chords & the Truth find to be beyond dispute is that Telstar 1's launch and activation 50 years ago this week changed the world. Drastically. It changed communications. Drastically. It ushered in a new era of the shrinking planet.

And, if you think about it, most of the massive change spurred by a little satellite in July 1962 was for the good and not the Snooki. This is why this edition of the Big Show celebrates the little artificial moon that could . . . and did.

Welcome to the Telstar tribute on 3 Chords & the Truth. You'll be surprised at how much really good music a tribute to the first communications satellite can include.

RANDOM THOUGHT: It's too bad we retired the space shuttle. We could have flown out to Telstar 1 -- yes, it's still in orbit . . . silent, but in orbit -- tied some black balloons with "50" printed in white to an antenna, taped a stupid-looking party hat to some solar cells and then put an "Old Fart" T-shirt on the venerable bird.

It would have been great.

Be that as it may. . . .

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

Thursday, July 12, 2012

'I'd like to buy a vowel, Pat'

"Can I have an 'E'?"

Oh, I'm sorry, there's no 'E.' Telstar . . . it's your spin.

"Can I have an 'S'?"

There is one 'S.'

"I'd like to solve . . . The Tornados!"
With "Telstar" from the summer of '62."

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Stones @ 50: The logo

Wheeee! The Rolling Stones have been together 50 years . . . and they have the uber-hip Shepard Fairey logo to prove it!

Actually, as are many things in life, this is a gross oversimplification.

If we want to be strictly accurate, 2012 marks the 34th anniversary of the Rolling Stones becoming a parody of themselves in their 16th-anniversary year.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The difference a half-century makes

This headline in 2012 would be fraught with possibilities of meaning.

Likely, you'd be looking for the words "contraceptives," "sexually transmitted diseases" and "risky behaviors" somewhere in the rest of the advertisement.

But this particular ad, from a June 1962 edition of
Broadcasting magazine, just wanted to make the point that young American women had pretty atrocious eating habits. The suggestion was that adults needed to encourage teen girls to eat a healthy diet, exercise . . . and drink their milk.


The sponsor? The American Dairy Association.

Living in the past has its merits -- one of them being not contemplating our present.

Monday, February 20, 2012

John Glenn and the way we were

Who were we?

Who were we Americans, who could absorb the psychological body blow of Soviet Russia putting Sputnik into orbit while we still were blowing our satellites up on the launch pad . . . and then four years later, Yuri Gagarin into orbit before we could get a man into suborbital space at all?

Who was this people who sat by radio and television sets this day 50 years ago, waiting for John Glenn, strapped inside his tiny Mercury capsule, to rocket into orbit atop an Atlas rocket and even the spaceflight score with the communists?

What manner of people -- once Glenn had gone up, gone around three times and come down alive and well -- would celebrate his achievement, this affirmation of American greatness, without irony, self-consciousness or reservation? Indeed, what sort of nation would have the audacity to set its sights on placing a man on the moon and returning him to Earth safely in less than a decade's time?

were we? Who were these people of supreme faith -- in themselves, in God and in their way of life?

Who were the people who listened to radio like this on
KCBS in San Francisco as early birds on the West Coast awaited history in the late winter's predawn?

Who were the people heard in this bit of radio history later that night, along the
NBC radio net and over the airwaves of KFAB radio in Omaha as a winter storm roared across the northern Plains?

these people?

Who were we? What sort folks could maintain such hope and confidence amid the threat of the Cold War going hot and the world being engulfed by a mushroom cloud?

Who was this people, the one able to look at the racial horrors of Mississippi, Alabama and across the Deep South, yet keep faith with the better angels of its nature? What sort of man . . . or woman . . . still believed in God, country and heroes?

And who in the world listened to sweet music on the airwaves in the chilly predawn? Who still allowed grown-ups and other assorted squares to have a say in the popular culture?

I remember these people.
I do.

I scarcely recognize them anymore, though. I scarcely recognize the nation that gave us Friendship 7 -- and visions of a bright future -- a mere half-century ago. But on the television today, there's an old man, some 90 years of age, a man clearly of a different age -- an anachronism still in this world, yet not of it.

Not anymore.

Godspeed, John Glenn.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I'll tell the man to turn the jukebox way down low

When I was back in the homeland, I took the opportunity to retrieve some old LPs from a hall closet in my childhood home, where for years they'd been sitting, absorbing the smell of cedar.
These are among the buttons on the jukebox of my musical formation -- eclectic selections that once spun on a 1948 Silvertone, that or a 1962 Magnavox. They spin still in my memory . . . and now on a couple of turntables in my Omaha studio.
There's a date on the back of this Jim Reeves album -- 6-9-1962. It seems to be in my mother's uneven hand. She was 12 years younger than I am now, and she lived in a different world. Different worlds, actually.
So did we all then.
THERE'S STILL a price tag from D.H. Holmes on it . . . several of them.

In 1962, D.H. Holmes department store --
D.H. Holmeses to Mama, Irene Reilly and half the people in south Louisiana -- was all that and a Dixie 45. D.H. Holmeses was where we bought our TV sets and records and other cool stuff . . . and, of course, your macaroons and tea cakes.

D.H. Holmeses ain't dere no more. The one on Canal in New Orleans now is a hotel, but Ignatius still waits under the clock in front for his mama. He's a good boy -- not at all like them "gamblers, prostitutes, exhibitionists, anti-Christs, alcoholics, sodomites, drug addicts, fetishists, onanists, pornographers, frauds, jades, litterbugs and lesbians, all too well protected by graft" that New Orleans is so infamous for.

The big Holmeses in Baton Rouge -- our Holmeses, which still was little in relation to the big, old Holmeses some 80 miles south -- now is a ghost in the middle of what used to be the Bon Marché shopping center, which now is the Bon Carré bidness park.

And if you listen real hard, you can hear the new Jim Reeves album playing in the record department. Close by, Mr. Ruffino is selling a 21-inch Magnavox black-and-white console TV to my old man.

But not the color set. Color television is just a fad.

Might even be communiss. You never know nowadays.

Monday, September 28, 2009

There is no place like Nebraska

On Nov. 3, 1962, I was a year and a half old.

One month earlier, Wally Schirra took his Mercury space capsule, Sigma 7, for a seven-orbit spin around the earth.

And President John F. Kennedy had exactly 1 year, 19 days to live.

That fall day in 1962, a formerly woebegone football team, the
University of Nebraska Cornhuskers, was showing signs of life under brand-new Coach Bob Devaney. And when the Huskers took the field against Missouri in Lincoln, it was before -- ye gods! -- a full house of 31,080 spectators.

Big Red lost 16-7 that Space Age afternoon but -- Man, woman and child! -- NU would be packing them in the aisles (and every available seat) for the next 47 years. And counting.

THOSE FOUR DECADES-PLUS would include five national championships and two coaching legends -- the late Devaney and Tom Osborne, now a former coach-turned-congressman-turned-NU athletic director. Those decades also would include the Steve Pederson/Bill Callahan years, when we wondered not whether the sellout streak would end but after which embarrassing loss.

But it didn't end. Unbelievably, but there you go.

Bad athletic directors and coaches sometimes come, but Cornhusker fans weren't going anywhere. The university over the years expanded Memorial Stadium to 86,000-plus seats, and Nebraskans kept filling them all.

And the fans in the stands above the visiting team's entrance kept giving "the enemy" a standing ovation at game's end -- win, lose or Callahan Era. Because there really is no place like Nebraska.

Where they're all true blue,
We'll all stick together,
In all kinds of weather,
For dear old Nebraska U.

This is the place -- and the football program -- the Sunday World-Herald commemorated with a special "throwback," 1962-style "Blue Streak Sports Section," where readers got details of the Huskers' 55-0 waxing of Louisiana-Lafayette just like they might have back when The Streak began. I well remember when sports sections were just like that . . . and it was fun to go back.

Just like it was fun for fans to "go back" with retro fashions for a retro-themed game Saturday. Josefina Loza was there for the newspaper:

Lincolnite Mike McDannel planned a special outfit for this day. The 49-year-old wore a red velvet blazer and matching fedora, a red tie with the word “Nebraska” embroidered in white and socks with tiny N's covering them. His retro digs once were worn by his father, Donald, who passed away in 2001.

Dad and Mom Caroline introduced Mike to the passion behind Husker fans years ago. The then-Grand Island family bought season tickets with their vacation money.

Mike's first NU game was in 1968. He might have the ticket to prove it, he said as he took off his fedora and flipped it upside down. Seven ticket stubs were tucked inside the cap's sweatband. Some dated to 1971, when the admission price was $6.

Mike and his mom grabbed spots at the nearby coffeehouse patio to watch fans file in, another tradition they've kept for years.

Some fans were dressed in vintage wear — including skinny neckties; red-and-white-striped overalls; and even one red-and-white go-go dress — but mostly they wore Husker shirts.

“It's really a sight to see,” said Caroline, who has been attending games since the 1950s.
THAT VIGNETTE gets to the heart of what Nebraska football -- and Nebraskans -- are about. A son turning out for the home team yet one more time, honoring not only a statewide love affair but also a father long gone.

By donning Dad's scarlet-and-cream outfit and taking Mom to the big game.

Go Big Red!