Showing posts with label moon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label moon. Show all posts

Saturday, July 20, 2019

3 Chords & the Truth: The Big Show has landed

"One of these days, Alice! Pow! Straight to the moon!"

One of these days came 50 years ago today. Pow! We went straight to the moon.

Oddly enough, it wasn't Ralph Kramden's fist that got us there. No, it was three brave astronauts who climbed atop a gigantic Saturn V rocket four days before, blasted off into the heavens and took the whole damned planet with them for a lunar joyride.

July 20, 1969. It was a Sunday. I was 8 years old -- almost 8 and a half. Halves are very important when you're 8.

That day -- POW! -- straight to the moon. Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins got there with Apollo 11. I suspect they kinda knew that I (and a few billion others) had hitched a ride on their rocket ship.

This episode of the Big Show has the moon on its mind, a way to remember the greatest thing mankind has done and give thanks to the three men who did it . . . and all the thousands of men and women who got them there.

In fact, this week's 3 Chords & the Truth doesn't have a single song that isn't a moon song. And they're all good. Fittingly good for an Apollo 11 anniversary program.

Mementos of a grade-school space nut
PUTTING THIS particular edition together put me, in a very real way, back in time. Back in our living room at 10645 Darryl Dr. in Baton Rouge. Back in front of the black-and-white, 21-inch Magnavox television tuned in to CBS and Walter Cronkite. Back to when I was an elementary-school spaceaholic, the one with all the Gemini-mission stickers all over the dresser mirror in my bedroom.

The 1960s were fraught times, like our own today. But a big difference was hope. We had hope. We knew we were better than our struggles and our national squabbles and missteps, and we had hope that, someday, we would overcome.


We have yet to overcome and, indeed, we're backsliding. Today, we have a lot more Trump than we have hope.

BUT LOOKING BACK at Apollo 11 and those first glorious steps on a strange world, we know what the better angels of our human nature look like. And when we look up into a moonlit sky, we know that for those better angels, the sky is the limit.

And in an age seemingly bereft of heroes, we only have to look back within the lifetime of your broken-down old radio guy here to see a whole big bunch of them -- heroes who touched the moon, if not the stars.

For that, we give musical thanks.

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

Friday, April 05, 2019

Destination . . . suffocate, bake or freeze as your blood boils

If 1950s album-cover artists had been in charge of the Space Race (not to mention science education in the Space Age) . . . things would not have ended well.

At all.

This Ames Brothers LP would have driven Dr. Sheldon Cooper mad.

On the other hand, this being a post-factual world, we can say with Trumpian confidence that Ed Ames is the only surviving Ames brother because the sound of lunar windmills gave all his siblings cancer, and they died upon their return to earth.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017


The Great Eclipse.
Aug. 21, 2017.
Aurora, Nebraska.

Oh, I'm bein' followed
by a moonshadow,
moonshadow, moonshadow

Leapin and hoppin'
on a moonshadow,
moonshadow. . . .

-- Cat Stevens

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Tranquility base here. Neil Armstrong has landed.

I was blessed to gave grown up during an age of American giants, though we didn't always realize it at the time.

As Joni Mitchell sang, "Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone?" Now in this land of small minds, smaller men and great discontent, we may be getting some idea of what we had.

Neil Armstrong, first man on the moon, is dead. He was 82.

Above is what I -- and hundreds of millions -- saw that July day in 1969, a time of trouble, yes, but also a time when giants walked the earth. And when astronaut giants flew to the moon --
and back.

One of the last of those giants now is gone, God bless his soul, leaving this postmodern world to its pygmy overlords.

UPON HIS LEAVING, it's almost as if Neil Armstrong: Giant has left us his final commentary about the kind of hands now holding our collective fate as Americans. Look at this screenshot of the front page.

Says it all, doesn't it?

Goodbye, Mr. Armstrong. Thank you for your courage. Thank you for your dignity.

Thank you for our dreams.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Mahna mahna!

I remember this song being in a "moon creature" sketch on the Red Skelton Hour from the fall of 1969. Unsurprisingly, all things "moon" were big that year.

This version, performed by the Muppets on the Ed Sullivan Show, is also from that mooniest of years, 1969. But I sure would like to see the Red Skelton version again after 40 years.

Mahna mahna!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Reeling in the years. . . .

I've saved this old copy of the Baton Rouge State-Times -- carefully wrapped by my 8-year-old self in a garbage bag labeled "20th century" -- for 40 years now.

THE NEWS of July 22, 1969 reflects an undertaking of historic, transcendent wonder amid a world in chaos. At least people then had enough perspective to recognize wonder when they encountered it.

This probably was because the Internet -- and right-wing talk radio -- did not yet exist. If it did, the moon landing probably would have been roundly condemned as a budget-buster conceived by a member of the evil Kennedy clan, the youngest of which had just driven Mary Jo Kopechne off a bridge and into a watery grave near Martha's Vineyard, Mass.

THE LOUDEST dissenting voices probably would have been the parents of these yahoos in Delaware.

Of course, it's important to remember that the stupidity we find ourselves awash in these days is not the exclusive domain of the red-meat right. The left has its nuts, cranks and flakes, too, and they likewise have access to the Internet and other forms of mass media.

Like the ABC Television Network.

Verily, Whoopi Goldberg is proof positive that one can fall out of the stupid tree, hit every branch on the way down and still manage to cobble together a successful career in "entertainment."

I HOPE Walter Cronkite -- somehow, somewhere in the Great Beyond -- has some idea of how much he will be missed.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Greatness: Much cheaper than avarice

When I was two months and one day old -- May 25, 1961 -- President Kennedy declared that the United States would shoot for the moon. Literally.

The goal was unimaginably complex for all its stated simplicity. Kennedy declared the country should "commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth."

What American, in the midst of an existential struggle with the Soviet Union, could be against beating the Russkies to the moon? To achieving mankind's greatest feat?

A STORY TODAY by The Associated Press answers that question:

"I thought he was crazy," said Chris Kraft, when he heard Kennedy's speech about landing on the moon.

Kraft was head of Mission Control. He was the man responsible for guiding astronauts to orbit (which hadn't been done yet) and eventually to the moon. Kraft first heard about a mission to the moon when Kennedy made the speech.

"We saw that as Buck Rogers stuff, rather than reality that would be carried out in any time period that we were dealing with," Kraft recently told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from Houston.

Less than three months later, Kraft was in the White House explaining to the president just how landing on the moon would be done. Kraft still didn't believe it would work.

"Too many unknowns," he said.

It was the Cold War and Russian Yuri Gagarin had just become the first man in space. Kennedy chose landing a man on the moon because experts told him it was the one space goal that was so distant and complicated at the time that the United States could catch up and pass the Soviet Union, Kennedy adviser Ted Sorensen said.

The idea in a world where American capitalism was pitted against Soviet communism on a daily basis was "to prove to the world which system was best, which one was the future," Sorensen said.

"It's not just the fact that the president wanted it done," Sorensen recalled. "It was the fact that we had a specific goal and a specific timetable."

In another speech, Kennedy famously said America would go to the moon and try other tasks "not because they were easy, but because they were hard. Because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills."

They weren't just skills with rockets and slide rules. Bringing together countless aerospace companies, engineers, scientists, technicians, politicians and several NASA centers around the nation was a management challenge even more impressive than building the right type of rockets, said Smithsonian Institution space scholar Roger Launius.

And it cost money. The United States spent $25.4 billion on the Apollo program, which translates to nearly $150 billion in current dollars — less than the U.S. spent in both wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2007.
IN TODAY'S MONEY, it cost us $150 billion to figure out how to get to the moon and back, then actually get to the moon and back. Several times. That first moon landing, during the mission of Apollo 11, came 40 years ago today.

The greatest feat humanity has ever pulled off, to put it another way, cost 3.19 percent -- again, in today's dollars -- of what it has cost us so far to bail out this country's financial sector. The financial sector. it must be noted, that precipitated the worst economic crisis the world has endured since the Great Depression.

The Apollo program . . . $150,000,000,000.

Bailing out a bunch of Wall Street swells who, of late, have taken taxpayers' money and gone back to business as usual: $4,700,000,000,000.

I think that says about all there is to say about the kind of country we were 40 years ago -- and the kind of country we are now.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Man on the moon

If you don't hear this week's episode of 3 Chords & the Truth, there's a good reason for that. There isn't one . . . but just for this week.

Instead of doing the Big Show, I'm on the moon. It's July 1969, and once again I am 8 1/2 years old. Walter Cronkite is delivering the big news on CBS -- if you have to ask what the big news is, something's wrong with you -- and I'm sitting in front of the big Magnavox console TV watching history.

Some say 1969 was a time of turmoil. It was.

BUT THANKS to men like Neil Armstrong, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin and Michael Collins -- the crew of Apollo 11 -- it is easier for us children of the Space Age to remember the '60s as a time of wonder. Greatness is strapping an entire planet onto your Saturn V rocket and carrying it with you to another world, allowing us to transcend our baser instincts, overcome our petty squabbles and fears -- even if only for a week or so.

Compared to such magic, all the ugliness that is our earthly stock and trade couldn't stand a chance.

People say America's best days are behind her. That might be so; it probably is so. I was blessed, however, to live when they weren't. When Americans reached for the stars, and men made it to the moon.

We as a nation once did these things, and my generation always will hold the memory of them close to our hearts.