Last night’s Academy Awards was about as bad a show as professionals could put on. A show honoring the best in entertainment couldn’t entertain. How is that possible? Maybe they should let Jimmy Kimmel host next year. His writers put together one of the best parodies of this years big winner.
There’s too much gray in the sky and chill in the air here in the Northeast. I’m ready for spring, but it seems we may have to wait a while this year, so I’ve been looking through pictures from last spring to warm me up. While on a hike near Tucson last year I passed this nest in a cholla cactus and snapped a few photos of a mom feeding her chicks.
I stopped and watched for about 45 minutes as mom kept bringing the bugs and the chicks kept asking for more. It was a full time job trying to satisfy her hungry brood. Looking back at these pictures got me thinking about politics and budget debates. Everybody’s got their hand out or their mouths open, saying, “feed me” give me a piece of that money pie. Some of the big birds are saying, “We’re out of bugs, you’ll have to catch your own if you want to eat.” The little guys are saying, “in case you haven’t noticed, we can’t fly, but you can so help us out until we can take off on our own.”
And to just run this metaphor into the ground, the big bird’s response is, “We’ve had a terrible drought and there aren’t enough bugs to go around so some of you will get nothing and the rest will get what we shove down your throat and be grateful for it.” And for the litle guys who don’t make it, their loss isn’t in vain, because somebody has to be food for the raptors.
When I was getting ready to workout earlier today, the first thing I did was look for the right music to get me through the session. I not only wanted something with enough energy to get me working hard, but also something played with both emotion and skill, something so good I would get caught up in the music and forget about the the clock and how hard I was breathing. I finally settled on two concert videos, Leon Russell and Buddy Guy. No surprise there. These days I seem to be going back to the music I started with, Blues based Rock and straight up Blues.
There’s a touch of gospel flavor in that music as well. Years ago I was talking to the old blues artist Sippy Wallace about the difference between the blues and gospel. We had just filmed her singing in a Detroit nightclub on Saturday night and then filmed her playing the organ and leading the choir on Sunday morning in her church, and she said, “Blues and Gospel are the same music, the only difference is on Saturday night I’m singing ‘Oh Baby’, and on Sunday I’m singing ‘Oh Jesus’.”
Well the music worked for my exercise session, because it took my mind off how out of shape I am and got me to thinking about all the great musicians I’ve been fortunate enough to meet and see in concert over the years. I’m still friends with three of the first musicians I met when we were all teenagers. They were part of a band called “The Third Avenue Blues Band” and I think two of the guys weren’t even old enough to legally be in the bar were they were playing. I know for sure it was against the rules of my school for me to be there.
Those three guys later became part of a jazz group called Koinonia. I used to go hear them all the time at the Baked Potato in LA. Their music especially appealed to me because it was often a blues based jazz. I found this old clip of Koinonia playing at Montreux in 1984. They were doing a cover of the Albert Collins song, “Sno-Cone.” Enjoy
A confession. I’m an “American Idol” junkie. I know it’s embarrassing for a guy my age. I even swore off the show at the end of last year saying no more. But out of curiosity to see what the new judges would be like I checked out an early show this year. Steven Tyler, who knows something about addiction, has got me hooked on the show again. He’s honest, funny, compassionate, and entertaining, just a real person connecting with viewers and contestants.
But that still doesn’t explain my long running obsession with American Idol. Unlike most of those who try out for the show, I know I can’t sing. And yet I’m convinced I know who can sing, what songs they should be singing, and I think I know when they go off key. So I do my own judging each week from my couch, much to the annoyance of my family.
I lay claim to some expertise in this area because I used to cover the music industry as journalist. For about five years during the time I was a correspondent for the Today Show record companies sent me copies of every new album they released. I went to countless concerts in small clubs and big arenas, went on tour with some groups, went to recording sessions, and for a while did a segment on the show called “On the Record”.
Of course that doesn’t make me a music expert, but it does give me a good baseline for comparison. And like most journalists who have a little bit of exposure to those on the inside it gives me the confidence to spout off with a air of authority. What really got me thinking about my past connections to the music business was a talk I gave this week to media and broadcasting students at Drexel University in Philly. While talking about the twists & turns my career has taken, the music stories came up and I was remembering how much fun I had on some of those interviews. Later I also also did a few music stories while working for USA Today on TV.
This Belinda Carlisle story was one of my USA Today interviews from 1989. She didn’t quite know what to expect when I asked her to do the interview in my Cadillac convertible sitting in the parking lot, but she smiled and went along with it.
Happy Valentine’s Day! I wanted a picture of two love birds to illustrate the romance associated with this greeting card holiday, but all I could find were these two oxpeckers. Of course to an old buffalo nothing says love like an oxpecker. And really isn’t a willingness to pick off someone’s ticks a sign of true commitment.
For a less subtle picture of love on Valentine’s Day I found this shot of my visit to Salvation Mountain in Slab City, California. Here in the desert Leonard Knight has spent years spelling out love in concrete and day-glo paint. For some, nothing says love like obsession.
The sun appears to be setting on another era in Egypt’s long history. The Great Pyramid at Giza has been witness to many changes in the past almost 5,000 years, but one constant has been the survival of the Pharaoh figure. When not being ruled by foreign countries, Egypt has seen it’s supreme leader change outfits and names over time, going from robes to suits and ties, from pharaoh to president, but the results have been the same, king for life. However this time might finally signal the end of one man setting himself up as a Pharaoh.
Clearly they are not prepared in Texas to handle major ice and snow storms. With the Super Bowl experience in danger of becoming a nightmare best forgotten, I’ve tried to lend my expertise to help where I can. Yesterday I showed a quick shot of my work to help close the roof at Cowboys Stadium. Today I’ve taken my assistance to the next level, by trying to do what I can to alievate the traffic issues compounded by ice covered streets. So today if anyone asks, “Who let the dogs out?”, here’s the answer.
Helping close the roof on Cowboy’s stadium in time for the Super Bowl.
In India I was constantly confronted with an old philosophical question, Why did the chicken…..? But there was an equally perplexing and more common question involving farm animals and roads in India. And befitting an Eastern philosophy, answers were many and not definitive.