Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Memo to Fairfield, Connecticut: FREE LEWIS THE CAT!!!!!

It has been mentioned here before that yours truly loves cats. After all, I live with two feline friends by the names of Rachel and Marissa. Like most cats they will on occassion scratch and bite, but that is part of how they play and in the case of how Rachel was adopted, the greeting I got from her was a bite and her tongue on my fingers. Did I hold that against her? Heck fact she and I along with Marissa [and before that the late, great Margaret the Momcat] are the best of friends. [See the last post in this blog, they are music fans!!!]

So imagine my surprise when I logged on to the net and saw the story about
Lewis the Cat . In the semi-civil hamlet of Fairfield, Ct. some people are having a fit over the fact that there is a cat in one neighborhood who, if the neighbors are to be believed, is acting like a terrorist. Attacking people at random, even the Avon Lady. To look at him, even if he were to scratch anyone, Lewis looks as though he could not do any real damage to anyone. Even if is a 6-toed cat, big deal.

But these people have lost their minds in response to this problem. The cat has been egged, had water sprayed on him but the coup de gras has been the fact that he and his human have now got a temporary restraining order placed on them. Yep, the cat has to now be kept inside by order of the police. I will not belittle the cops on this one, but I will say this about the neighbors. This is just another example of people with way too much damn time on their hands and too quick to resort to tactics that are better used on real crooks. Like gangbangers or the overly cheerful high school pep squad.

By the by, in the name of full disclosure, two points: One is that when I lived in Brooklyn many years back, on our block there was a little white cat who ironically was named Lewis. He was the ambassador of the block, greeted everyone with a meow and when I would walk to the subway, he would greet me and slap my hadnd with his paw -- a way of 'giving someone five'. He did not attack anyone, he was being friendly and a lot of cats are like this , no different than let's saya dog giving a friendly bark.

The second point is seeing I have mentioned Rachel and Marissa before, here is their pic. Like Lewis, they would not go out of their way to harm anyone. Then again too, cats are no different than most humans, they will let you know right off the bat if they like or cannot stand the person in question...and they can just be plain playful.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Renaissance and the Moody Blues in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame...Why Not?

There are several things in this life that seem to cause rather heated debates. Ethnic politics, religion, why there are shortstops who have a lifetime batting average of .210 getting paid 10 million dollars a year...those sorts of things. Add to this the election process that surrounds those who get into the Rock and Roll hall of Fame . While this debate is not going to bring abour world peace or even restore General Motors to profitabliity, it is contentious none the less because this list, like beauty is subjective.

This list of those who are in is impressive due to the fact that it covers the spectrum of rock or what had led up to it. Howlin' Wolf, Buddy Holly, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Leiber and Stoller, Ahmet get the idea. Some heavy hitters are on the dais and that is way cool. With that said, there is one area of rock that overlooked...the area of progressive or classical rock.

If you are not familiar with the genre, the term means music that incoprorates classical elements [orchestras or smaller additional musical accompianists] and song structures that go beyond AABA or ABACAB [music students will understand what that means and this was before Genesis made an album with that name] as well as newer instruments be they acoustic or electronic [synthesizers such as the Moog, ARP, Roland, Oberheim, EMu, Prophet 5 and the grandaddy of them all -- the Mellotron]. Bands that are associated with this include Emerson Lake and Palmer, Rush, Electric Light Orchestra, Pink Floyd, The Alan Parsons Project, Yes, Genesis, Mike Oldfield and others. However two that are near and dear to my heart [plus my cats like them!] are Renaissance and The Moody Blues. And it is not just because these are my two favorite bands.

If you have never heard Annie Halsam sing or saw Jon Camp play bass [who it has been mentioned in other corners was the bass player Stanley Clarke looked up to....what does that tell you?] or Michael Dunford show his musicanship while

was still touring [I did not forget John Tout on Keyboards or Terry Sullivan on drums or the multitude of others who filled those positions in the 80's], you missed out on something rather special. One could call it almost entrancing. From their classic material like Prologue, Carpet of the Sun, Northern Lights to the new wave sounds of Camera Camera, Jigsaw and others, it was a major treat to go to one of their concerts. Even the last studio album they made, called Tuscany showed that after all this time they still had the chops. The fact that they also worked with some of the more famous orchestras in the US and abroad such as the NY Philharmonic, the London Symphony, the Royal Phiharmonic Orchestra and others before it became fashionable to do so [as in 'wow let's do this -- its a cool idea!!'].

As for the
Moody Blues
, these guys are one of the few bands still in existence that can after all this time put together not just great material but killer shows, with or without orchestras [Case in point: the show with the Colorado Symphony that has been featured on PBS over the years] . When Justin Hayward is at his best, there are very few who can touch him as far as his guitar playing technique is concerned. John Lodge is a good compliment on bass, Ray Thomas [now retired from the band but was their flautist for a long time] could give some rockers who play flute lessons and Graeme Edge on drums is crazy and cool. Their songs and albums are major classics and have become influences for many others. In Search of the Lost Chord, Seventh Sojurn, Every Good Boy Deserves Favor, Long Distance Voyager and the one the one that put them on the map: Days of Future Passed. Ask any music fan out there and they will tell you that not only do they know this album but also its two signature, classic pieces: Tuesday Afternoon and Nights in White Satin. [On their two live concert DVD's, Tuesday Afternoon is the first song played after the oveture]

So folks, let's get them in the hall. After all, if the Sex Pistols can be elected in, then Renaissance and The Moody Blues should be shoe ins. If rock music encompasses all influences, styles and ranges -- these pioneers of the classical rock form should be in because if it were not for them, some of the other bands listed at the top of this post may not have gotten the airplay that they did. The link about how the induction process runs is here .

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

United 93 - Someone in Hollyweird may have finally gotten it

Folks, it looks as though someone in lala land where political correctness prevents anyone from calling any group an enemy unless they are conservative or mainstream may have gotten it through their thick heads. This evening, one of those entertainment programs aired a preview clip for a movie dealing with Flight 93 which is due for release later this spring.

That was the flight that fought back on 9/11. Where we have the now famous saying that even Bush and friends used on the deck of a carrier ['Let's Roll']. Where ordinary people who were as different as you and I became one for one cause, to make sure those bastards who killed the pilots and some of the crew did not reach their target.

Now I know there will be a few of you reading this who will say that we do not need to be reminded of what happened on 9/11, because it may stir up hatred for those in this country who are of middle east descent or those who practice Islam. All I can say to those people is: get over it. Whether you like it or not, those folks are the enemy and we do need to be reminded of that fact. If the PC crowd had their way, we never would have had those films that were made during WWII that featured caricatures of our enemies then. The Germans, the Japanese -- they were the subject of the product of some of the brightest minds in the entertainment industry at that time. Names such as Chuck Jones, Tex Avery, Isidor Freleng, Richard DePatie, Frank Capra, Segar [the creator of Popeye the Sailor] and others created films and cartoons to remind us of who the US was at war with.

Now it is time that the internet generation does same. To remind ourselves that there is a reason why there are soldiers, airmen and marines overseas. And like with what happened with Pearl never forget the event and to not let those who made the ultimate sacrifice have that just go by the wayside.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Why is Buck O'neil not in the Hall of Fame?

The other morning, I logged on to the net and saw an article about there being a flap over the latest edition to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. Granted each year when there are votes on those who are elligible for the hall, there is some controversy in re: the merits of the persons involved. Such as their overall contributions to the game, whether or not they were good athletes [as in batting over .200 for a lifetime or having a low error count or earned run average]. But in this case, the rhubarb over this vote hits a little close to home.

Buck O'neil
[who has been mentioned in this column before] was left out of the current class of those admitted and what makes this really strange is that the ones admitted were members and founders of the old Negro Leagues. For those of you who are not familiar with what this league was about, before the color barriers was broken by Jackie Robinson, he and many others played for teams such as: The Kansas City Monarchs, The Homestead Grays, the Pittsburgh Crawfords and many others. This was also the intial place where men like Willie Mays, Ernie Banks, Hank and Tommie Aaron honed their chops. Now with the league and its players getting its due, this ommission was just a little on the insane side.

Like Ernie Banks, Buck is an ambassador of the game, like Ted Williams he was a mentor [when he managed the KC Monarchs] to those young players who could use the help and in his adopted hometown of Kansas City, he is as much a part of the fabric of the city as Willie Mays was in San Francisco or Archibald 'Moonlight' Graham was in Chisolm, Minnesota. Mostly in part because of Buck, many youngsters have a better understanding of the history of the game.

So with all this, why in heck is he not in the hall? I am lost on this one as are many others. It makes very little sense for one of the greatest the game has ever seen, let alone one of the true gentlemen in all of sports to not be part of the illustrious list of those whose exploits are enshrined in Cooperstown. He deserves to be there, no matter what.

[If you want to show your support for Buck, contact him at:

The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum as well as send a letter to The Baseball Hall of Fame]

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

All we need now in Stumptown is 'Rosebud'

I can see the question marks coming off the minds of those of you reading this and you are asking 'Rosebud? What the heck is going on here???' Read on and you will see why that is in the title [or skip to the bottom of this post if you are curious about where it comes from].

In a city where there are questions about the legitimacy of demands for more money for the schools, verbal altercations about the plan to send the LRT into the heart of downtown and in turn try to make Portland into Torino [or Oslo, Copenhagen, Bern, Prague or even Boston] while seeing more empty shops than currently exist in parts of Brooklyn or Detroit and more politically correct rules that are passed than necessary, the big news on the cover of current edition of the Portland Tribune is about the Trailbazers. In particular, about their owner, our version of Charles Foster Kane [nee William Randolph Hearst], Paul Allen and all of those wonderful investments and causes he has been involved in since he bought the Blazers in 1988. Some of these read to be about as the same little financial daliances that Kane had involved himself in.

One can say that the Rose Garden [the building that the Blazers. Winter Hawks and the lacrosse Lumberjacks call home] is his version of the Chicago Opera House from 'Citizen Kane' [the real reference in the movie was about the San Francisco Opera House which Hearst had constructed to please his paramour at the time, Marian Davies, who supposedly could sing opera. From what had been mentioned in other corners, she could not and that failed attempt was featured in Citizen Kane]. Come to think of it, the museum he has built in Seattle; the Experience Music Project could be his version of the large museum/zoo on the premises of Kane's 'Xanadu'. Along with a whole slew of others.

By the by I am not making light of all of this or putting Allen down for making money and being a capitalist. Heck, that would be just plain crazy. With that said, one does have to wonder how someone who has amassed a great deal of wealth can lose money in a business where someone really has to work hard to LOSE money. Owning a sports franchise in the US is no different than let's say...running a McDonald's -- it is licence to print money, as the term goes. A person or ownership group would have to be a complete set of dolts [see the Bidwell family and the Arizona Cardinals] to lose money or make decisions for a team that would place a local icon in the same league as items in the cut-out, $1 bin at the local K-Mart. However, it is also an interesting study as to seeing how some can think that money or the status it can give or bring can just correct any problem or bring a championship just by tossing it around or wishing that it was so.

[Now about 'Rosebud'. Yes it is the sled that is burned at the end of Citizen Kane, but it is also the alleged nickname that Hearst gave his girlfriend because of a particular female body part. Anatomy students, you know what that part is -- impress your friends at your next party with that one. And who said the net is not a place to learn something new *S*?]