Saturday, August 31, 2002

Lionel Hampton Dead

I have a picture hanging in my office which I'll scan and post on my music page later (see left). I see this picture every day and it helps in those rare cases when I need of a reminder of why I've made music a big part of my life. It's a picture taken of me and Lionel Hampton, circa 1980, after a performance at Brick Memorial High School that will go down as one of the most unforgettable performances I ever saw. Hampton must have been in his 70's at that time, and there was no stopping this man even at that age. He led a swinging big band and he was everything I had read and seen about the man - the big smile, the joy of making music, his kinetic stage manner, and the way he played those vibes. As a neophyte musician who had been struggling with trying to play swinging music, it was a revelation to see and hear it done live. Hamp was a very gregarious performer, even at that age.... forward to the year 2000. At Atlantic City's annual music festival, Hampton and his combo perform a free outdoor concert at Brighton Park, the courtyard which is surrounded by the Bally's, Claridge and Sands casinos. Hampton is clearly hobbled by age. No longer playing standing, and not playing very much. Maybe a note here or there, or maybe three or four at a time if we were lucky. His wheelchair awaited at the edge of the stage, and he needed a lot of help getting places. But just being there was probably a huge accomplishment for Hampton, who in his lifetime had enough accomplishments for three or four men, including being a part of one of the first racially-integrated music ensembles ever, the Benny Goodman Quartet (which also included another African-American, Teddy Wilson, on piano, besides the Caucasian Goodman on clarinet and Gene Krupa on drums), leading his own big band after 1940, authoring the symphonic composition "King David Suite", touring the world as an ambassador of music, and becoming the recipient of many awards and accolades, culminating in the National Medal Of The Arts bestowed by President Clinton (himself a musician) in 1997. And suddenly it didn't seem quite so intrusive that we were witness to this man's weaknesses in his latter years.

Lionel Hampton died at 6:15 a.m. this morning, not three hours ago as I write this. (Officially, his age at death was listed at 94, but there have been reports that he was as old as 100.) His influence on the world, present company included, will never be forgotten.

Thursday, August 29, 2002

Schoolhouse Rock!

I cannot go out of my way enough to recommend the new Schoolhouse Rock DVD just released by Walt Disney Home Video. You get all the Schoolhouse Rock ever done on two disks with bonus goodies. I haven't checked out the bonus stuff yet because I haven't gotten through all of Disk 1 yet, which has the 46 original shorts (minus the Weather Show and the three Scooter Computer segments, which somehow are on Disk 2). For about $20 street price (I paid $19.99 at Boscov's because I was in there buying yet another VCR) you cannot go wrong.

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

More Money To Eddie Murphy's Deficit

We add another couple of hundred thousand dollars to the Eddie Murphy Relief Fund... and now, the total deficit stands at $16,183,428 sirignanos. I don't see this movie ("The Adventures Of Pluto Nash") making any more than, say, $4.5 million total, making this a box office bomb of "Ishtar" proportions.

Monday, August 26, 2002

Bloodbath At WNEW

Fire up the turntables for the fall book?

WNEW is continuing to have fallout from the problems with Opie and Anthony (see story below). In the wake of the allegedly obscene broadcasts that caused O&A, their producer, the station's general manager and program director all to lose their jobs, word came today that morning man Scott Ferrall has been handed his walking papers and told to go do sports elsewhere. (Ferrall previously did hockey play-by-play for the Pittsburgh Penguins and a syndicated show called "Ferrall On The Bench".) The midday talkers, Ron and Fez, have moved their live show to afternoon drive and offer reruns in their old midday time slot. NEW brings other talk shows in off the bird like Tom Leykis. But this is a station that is clearly in maintenance mode, rather than trying to build a team.

The rumor mill is now beginning to churn. In ten days, the fall 2002 ratings book begins. Could WNEW be eyeing a return back to the classic rock that made the station's name in the 1970's and 1980's? One can only hope.

Friday, August 23, 2002

Good Bye, Opie And Anthony

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you... Opie and Anthony.

At least these two guys won't insult the morals of radio listeners as their namesakes have. As a radio guy from way back, it really depresses me that some of these guys like Opie and Anthony and the Greaseman fritter away whatever talent they have in order to broadcast from the sewer. The final straw for O&A, as you know, was their broadcast of a play-by-play of a couple having sex in St. Patrick's Cathedral, one of the world's most sacred places and one of the most beautiful churches in the world. Infinity Broadcasting initially suspended the boys, then yesterday announced that their show was cancelled and Opie and Anthony were out of a job.

Hopefully, the rest of the radio industry will get the message about this sort of radio "entertainment" and band together to ensure that Opie and Anthony no longer have the opportunity to defecate all over the medium that once brought us Fibber McGee & Molly, Jack Benny, Fred Allen, and Bob Hope.

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

THANKS A 30,000

Hey, I just noticed we made our 30,000th page view this week. And it only took six years. Thank you all.

Presenting the Eddie Murphy Scoreboard

It will show how much more money the film "The Adventures Of Pluto Nash" has to make before his overinflated $20,000,000 salary can be paid off. The current tote board is....


And, of course, since the movie made about $2.1 million this weekend, that means that Murphy's chit will be roughly paid off in about 132 years. Of course, there is roughly another $80,000,000 of the production to be paid off. Perhaps it can be booked into that same theatre in Borneo or wherever that's been running "Me Tarzan You Jane" continuously since 1932. Or perhaps WB can siphon off some of those "Harry Potter" dollars later this year.

Sunday, August 18, 2002


If anyone in the vicinity of the Lido Diner in Springfield, NJ found a cell phone anytime after 11 p.m. on Wednesday, August 14, please contact me via e-mail. There is a nice reward for the return of my cell phone. It is very likely the cell phone fell out of the car somewhere between the Brass Tacks gig on Wednesday night at Echo Lake Park and there. (The phone has been disabled so don't try using it.)

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Site Updates

We have an updated Brass Tacks schedule (including information on tonight's performance at Echo Lake Park in Northern NJ - come on out!) on the Music page and in the Animation area, information on the new Schoolhouse Rock DVD being released in two weeks.

Sunday, August 11, 2002

Counting The Days

24 days until the start of school. My vacation will end sort of early, because the week before school starts, I have all sorts of orientation meetings, in spite of the fact that I've been teaching in these schools (three of them) since last February. I am really anxious to start this school year. It's exciting to start fresh with a semi-new, semi-familiar group of kids. I got advance class lists so I pretty much know who I've got coming back.

My compatriots in the Band department are starting Band Camp tomorrow. So on the first day of school, the band kids will already have had a head start, where with Orchestra, Day One is the first day of school. I anticipate starting rehearsals that Friday, with a couple of days of getting acquainted lectures including my expectations for smooth running rehearsals and assignment of instruments. There WILL be a Blog on the Orchestra pages, so look for up to date messages there. I hope to have the Orchestra pages up no later than the first day of school.

Thursday, August 08, 2002

Martha's Going Down!

Now that one of the higher-ups at Imclone has been indicted on charges of bank fraud and obstruction of justice, I can almost smell the sweet aroma of cold steel handcuffs encircling Martha Stewart's wrists.

And that's a good thing.

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

Eew! Anna Nicole Smith!

I am now firmly convinced that if you put anything on TV that even smacks of bizarre, people will flock to it. We just learned here that E's sorry debacle of reality TV, "The Anna Nicole Show", was the highest rated program of the week, even beating the ubiquitous WWE Wrestling and Spongebob.

28 days to the start of school, kids....

Monday, August 05, 2002

Chick Hearn, LA Laker Voice, Dead

Chick Hearn died at 6:30 p.m. PDT tonight. (See item below)

Dylan Returns To Newport

That's Bob Dylan on the right, at this past weekend's Newport Folk Festival. The man playing the bass is former SNL Band bass player Tony Garnier, who I once ran into at an animation art show looking over some Tom & Jerry original art. Dylan showed up at Newport this year for the first time since he "plugged in" in 1965 and was booed mercilessly (but was very warmly received this year, in stark contrast).

Chick Hearn Is Checking Out

I grew up on the wrong coast to be able to fully appreciate Chick Hearn's gifts as a basketball play by play announcer, but I am no less aggrieved that he now lies in a hospital in Los Angeles, near death. His condition has worsened this morning since a Friday fall that led to a couple of emergency brain surgeries that didn't do quite enough to stave off further injury. Hearn is on life support and comatose. I can't think of any other announcers in basketball who were so identified with their hometown team - maybe Johnny Most of the Boston Celtics, he of the famous "Havlichek stole the ball!" call, or even Marv Albert with the New York Knicks, however diluted his national duties made him when NBC and TNT had the NBA national games (moving to ESPN and ABC this season).

Clearly, the Maker has called him, and we pray that Hearn leaves this earth in peace and without further pain for his appointment.