Friday, January 28, 2011

“Please. I was the first Snooki. She thinks she invented the pouf. I invented it.”

Yesterday, while I was listening to CBC radio, I heard the host quoting the Ronnie Spector quip to Snooki about her pouf. I hadn’t heard this before, but I knew Ronnie Spector was the first wife of Phil Spector whom he met while producing The Ronettes, and she has the distinction of being called “the first bad girl of Rock and Roll”.

The CBC host then went on to play “Be My Baby” and I drifted into happiness.

A few years ago, Tiffanie had given me a copy of the Phil Spector’s biography, Tearing Down the Wall of Sound: The Rise and Fall of Phil Spector by Mick Brown. I loved many parts of the book, not just because Phil Spector produced some of my favourite groups, including The Righteous Brothers, the first LP that I ever bought in my life when I was 17. I bought it at The Roosevelt Field Shopping Center. I remember the purchase, even today, but that’s another blog topic. What I loved about the book was it devoted a lot of time to the beginning of Rock and Roll, including an entire chapter on Bobby Darin (not really a rocker, but adopted by us anyway). But that too is another story.

Ronnie Spector and her Ronettes were one of the many great Girl Groups of the 1960’s. Besides “Be My Baby”, they also had a hit with “Baby I Love You” and “Walking in the Rain”. But they were the tip of the iceberg. There were The Crystals (another Phil Spector group), Martha and the Vandellas, The Dixie Cups, and of course, the Motown stars, The Supremes and The Marvelettes. Enjoy...

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Buffalo Springfield and WOW What Great Groups They Were a Part of

Before Wikipedia, I knew the destiny of the 6 members of Buffalo Springfield, plus or minus a few mistakes. Thanks to Wikipedia, I can show it to you now with 100% accuracy.

During the decade often referred to as the British Invasion, one spectacular North American band (3 Americans, and 3 Canadians), went on to become members of 2 of rocks super groups (Crosby, Stills and Nash, and The Eagles), and one of rocks legendary artists, Neil Young, and a duo that made great music (Loggins and Messina).

Here’s how it happened. Neil Young, Stephen Stills, Richie Furay, Jim Messina, Bruce Palmer and Dewey Martin joined together to form The Buffalo Springfield in 1967. While the band made some spectacular music, they never quite put together a single album that caught on big. However, when you listen to Retrospective, their Best Of album, one thing is obvious, these guys have talent, both as a group, and as individuals. My favourites are Richie Furay’s Kind Woman, and Neil Young’s Broken Arrow, Expecting to Fly. Of course, For What It’s Worth, because of its appropriateness for the times is another great song from this album. Actually, everything is a great song from this album.

Listen to Richie Furay singing Kind Woman with Poco in 2004 and it sounds like something that could be released today by the likes of Blue Rodeo. Enjoy, and we’ll talk after the song....

Following along the Poco track, just listen to their music and it’s easy to hear what Randy Meisner brought with him to The Eagles. Here is one of my favourite Poco songs, In the Heart of the Night which was from the album Legend, released in 1978 long after Meisner, Messina and Furay were gone. Actually Paul Cotton, writer, and lead singer of In the Heart of the Night, joined the band as the replacement for Jim Messina when he went on to try his hand at a solo career before joining up with Kenny Loggins.

Neil Young deserves his own blog, as do The Eagles so, I will save them for a later date.

That leaves us with David Crosby, Graham Nash and Stephen Stills. While I love the solo work of Stephen Stills, especially his first album which contained Love the One You’re With, I never paid that much attention to Crosby or Nash, except that I love Almost Cut My Hair (the anthem for all of us freaks in the late 60’s-early 70’s). When Susy and I saw them live a few years ago, David Crosby’s voice is absolutely wonderful.

So, I’ll leave you with this. It’s not the Crosby of the 70’s regretfully, but still wonderful.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

There's Something Happening Here

The very sad and tragic attempted assassination of a Congresswoman, and the killing of 6 people who were caught in the line of fire this past Saturday, reminds me of how far from civilized our politics have become. Last night I was watching CNN and Anderson Cooper was talking with Dana Loesch, David Gergen and Roland Martin. They suggested that the animosity of the opposing parties is just business as usual in Washington. NO, IT’S NOT. IT WASN’T ALWAYS THAT WAY. Anyone can look back at the 60’s and 70’s and see significant legislative achievements with bipartisan support including civil rights legislation and Medicare. According to Professor Emeritus Barbara Sinclair of UCLA, only 8% of major legislation in the 60’s suffered from “extended-debate-related-problems” such as the filibuster, while in the 2007-2008 congress, approximately 70% of bills were subject to that tactic.

My theory is things changed when Richard Nixon was impeached. Like two kids in a spat, one of the kids crossed a line that the other cannot ever forgive, and thus, the friendship is over. What I don’t understand is why this has also happened in Canada.

Justin Trudeau, in his beautiful eulogy of his father Pierre Elliot Trudeau had the following story to relate about Mr. Trudeau and the leader of the opposition, Joe Clark:

As I guess it is for most kids, in Grade 3, it was always a real treat to visit my dad at work.

As on previous visits this particular occasion included a lunch at the parliamentary restaurant which always seemed to be terribly important and full of serious people that I didn't recognize.

But at eight, I was becoming politically aware. And I recognized one whom I knew to be one of my father's chief rivals.

Thinking of pleasing my father, I told a joke about him -- a generic, silly little grade school thing.

My father looked at me sternly with that look I would learn to know so well, and said: `Justin, Never attack the individual. We can be in total disagreement with someone without denigrating them as a consequence.'

Saying that, he stood up and took me by the hand and brought me over to introduce me to this man. He was a nice man who was eating there with his daughter, a nice-looking blond girl a little younger than I was.

He spoke to me in a friendly manner for a bit and it was at that point that I understood that having opinions that are different from those of another does not preclude one being deserving of respect as an individual.

Liberals, Conservatives, PQ'ers and NDPers, take heed.

Enough seriousness.

Let’s hope for a better tomorrow, and let’s enjoy, Stephen Stills (next stop was Crosby, Stills, and Nash), Neil Young (next stop, an on going solo career that is still on going), Richie Furay (next stop, Poco) and Jim Messina (next stop Poco, then Loggins and Messina) from 1967:

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Matt Andersen, Enjoy!

For the last few Christmases, we’ve been going to Convocation Hall to hear Stuart McLean perform a version of The Vinyl Café in front of a live audience. It’s great and Stuart always has with him a few up and coming Canadian artists. Last year, 2009, he had Matt Andersen from New Brunswick on the show. Wow, Matt was spectacular, hold onto something, watch this video and enjoy!

Wasn’t that something!

He’s playing at Hugh’s Room along with Colin Linden this coming Tuesday, January 11, 2011. We can’t get there because it’s the first night of our new session of ballroom line dancing... I’m going to see when next we can catch up with Mr. Andersen.

Friday, January 7, 2011

And Now, A Word From Our Sponsor, Repeat After Me: Blackberry Memory Leak

Last month my business partner and I had the opportunity to purchase 2 Blackberry Bold 9000’s. My 8800 was getting a bit long in the tooth and it did seem that the world had moved on, and so perhaps, should I. So, why the 9000 and not the latest and greatest Bold, the 9700? Because of the keyboard explained my business partner. He was much happier with the wider keyboard of the 9000 than the smaller and less well defined keys of the 9700. So, why not.

What ensued was a long and arduous struggle, and, a reminder to me as to why I still run Windows XP and still use Office 2003, they work, I know how to work them, and NO SURPRISES.

Upgrading to the 9000 seemed to go along rather well at first. Blackberry has this feature that enables you to hook your 8800 to one usb port and the 9000 to another, press a button, and everything moves over. So far, so good. Then I noticed that Blackberry was telling me that an upgrade was available for my device to version (xxx is short for whatever). It seems the 9000’s that we had purchase were installed with version No problemo, or so I thought. Press the button and away went the Blackberry to check my system. Oh oh, seems I needed to free up 26Mb of memory in order to perform the upgrade. O.K., I’m still naïve. So, what do I do. I back up my Blackberry, reset it, and try again. Same error. Now I’m ready to give up. After all, why do I care if I run 4.6 or 5.0. So, I ask google if I care. Most crackberryers say no, I shouldn’t care. And so, I tell myself, I don’t care.

End of story, or so I think. A few days later, I notice that my device is running slower than Daisy, my 15 year old, just recovered from kidney failure, dachshund. This I cannot live with. Every time I add a new event to my calendar, I wait 60 seconds for my device to return to me. So, once again, I google for help. Low and behold, my Blackberry suffers from Memory leak. Thank you google for clueing me in. What do you suggest I do. NO GOOD ANSWERS.

Now, I’ve had it. I call Rogers, and while I’m at it, I mention my device software upgrade problem. Granted this is all occurring the last week in December where there aren’t too many of us at work or, I suspect, at the Rogers Blackberry help desk. What’s the answer? Turns out I get the same answer for both problems. “It’s a known defect”. For some reason, either too much egg nog or too many Christmas Carol derivative movies (this year I watched Alistair Sims, Reginald Owens, Bill Murray, and George C. Scott), I said o.k. and hung up the phone. It took me a day to realize that this wasn’t an acceptable answer, so, I put my head down, my fingers up, and started googling in earnest (note: I already knew there was no sense in calling Rogers). I can’t believe my eyes. I was told there was a “temporary” solution, pull out the battery and count to 30 whenever things get too slow. Why hadn’t I thought of that. Pull out the battery or the plug, and count to 30 is Roger’s answer to every know problem in the universe, and, it always works. Sure enough, no more speed issues, and memory leak is a thing of the past. Don’t ask me how it fixed itself. I don’t care, it works now.

Not to leave any stones unturned, I am still running version on the device, and frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.

Enjoy the frozen blackberry!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Monday, January 3, 2011

Music and VIetnam

In the summer of 1967 Hubert Humphrey came to the University of Pittsburgh to speak at a rally to help elect Lyndon Johnson. At that time, Vietnam was a great big disaster. And, I was finally old enough to vote. But, YUCK, what a choice, LBJ's puppet, Hubert Humphrey or Richard Nixon. Reminds me of a Billy Martin quote about Reggie Jackson and George Steinbrenner which went "one's a born liar, and the others convicted". Of course, in 1967, neither one was yet convicted, although, since then, of course, Nixon has been convicted, and pardoned, and the world now knows that the Gulf of Tonkin attack was staged by LBJ to get congress to broaden his war powers. I spent most of the campaign claiming that I would protest vote for Eldridge Cleaver, but of course, when the curtains were drawn and there was a chance, which regretfully became reality, that Richard Nixon might be elected president, I held my nose and voted for Humphrey (a good guy who made bad choices, as we would say today).
But, despite all that craziness, those were fun days. We were hippies, freaks, war protesters, civil rights marchers, and college students whose biggest responsibility was to get educated. (Thanks Mom and Dad). And part of that education came from our music. It was the time when rhythm and blues, and bubble gum music was replaced by the British Invasion.
And it sure was an invasion, Jerry and the Pacemakers, The Animals, The Dave Clark Five, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Herman's Hermits, Donovan, The Moody Blues, Pink Floyd, The Who and I'm sure I'm just touching the surface here.
And, the haircuts.