Monday, February 23, 2009

Worst Oscar Moment

I just have two questions about the 2009 Academy Awards.

First and foremost, WHERE WAS JACK NICHOLSON? He always sits in the front row. Was it because his Joker portrayal has been overshadowed by a more compelling depiction or was it sour grapes for not getting a lifetime achievement award? Whatever the reason, it isn’t the same without him. Come back Jack.

Question #2 – Queen Latifah … what the hell were they thinking??! I’m so glad EW included Latifah singing during the In Memoriam montage as one of the “top Worst Oscar Moments.”
I always look forward to this part of the show, a chance to honour the lives of people we grew up with. This year, I’m still shaking my head (and not just because of the whiplash I received trying to read the minute lettering and awkwardly placed screens).
Nearly three hours into the show, they finally decide to flash names and faces across the screen which you could barely see. As I sat through that dizzying excuse for a tribute, I couldn’t tell you who the first woman was (Cyd Charise maybe?), her achievements were overshadowed by Queen Latifah belting out a song, were they serious?
Now I’m pretty sure I saw Ricardo Montalban out of the corner of my eye. Roy Scheider, James Whitmore, Sydney Pollack even Charlton Heston deserved more. And where was Eartha Kitt, Patrick McGoohan, Robert Prosky and George Carlin (over 15 movies and he still doesn’t rate a mention?
The only one that received any respect was Paul Newman. A tribute well deserved.
When it was done, I honestly thought they were joking. Okay, so when do they start the real one? (Sorry, that was a third question.)
If anyone finds a better tribute on YouTube PLEASE let me know. Shame on you Academy!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

February 20

Six years ago on February 20, a bar in West Warwick, Rhode Island went down in history for one of the deadliest nightclub fires in history. When Great White (think Once Bitten, Twice Shy) started playing to a packed crowd of over 450 people at The Station it took seconds for their pyrotechnics to engulf the place in flames. When it was all over, 100 people were killed, including a band member and over 200 people injured. A night burned in the memory of everyone from West Warwick, as for the rest of us, to feed our macabre curiosity, there’s footage of the night we can watch over and over again.

One image that’s stuck in my mind didn’t happen that night... but afterwards. It has to do with the makeshift memorial which is the empty lot where The Station once was. One night, a few months after the fire, two guys and two girls pulled out wood from the surviving floorboards of the club and made crosses, one hundred of them.

Originally they were all blank, so people who lost loved ones could choose a cross and decorate them as they saw fit. Some have pictures, beads, stuffed animals, notes and other things; all but five of the crosses have been claimed. It’s not a pretty or well-made site; it’s just an empty lot with hand made crosses and a green dumpster keeping watch. There are lawn chairs scattered throughout the Station graveyard, where survivors still, six years later, gather regularly to party with their long lost friends.
The Station Fire Foundation has been trying to get a permanent memorial put up for three years now. I just hope when it’s finally done, they’ll find room for the lawn chairs.
“Drink To Me Drink To My Health
You Know I Can't Drink Any More.” Picasso’s last words

Monday, February 9, 2009

Rock and Roll Heaven

"Jimi (Hendrix) gave us rainbows. Janis (Joplin) took a piece of our hearts. Otis (Redding) took us all to the dock of the bay. Sing a song to light my fire... Remember Jim (Morrison) that way.
Jimmy (Croce) touched us with that song and Bobby (Darin) gave us 'Mack the Knife'“It’s a classic song, but why no mention of Buddy Holly? Do you think the Righteous Brothers figured they already had a song?
What a hell of a theory … I’d like to think when (if) I make it to heaven I’ll finally be able to see the Beatles play live. That is, if Paul and Ringo beat me to the Pearly Gates.
Have you ever read Stephen King’s take on the song? It’s a short story called “You Know They Got a Hell of a Band. “ It’s about couple on a road trip in Oregon, they accidentally stumble into a small town (called Rock and Roll Heaven) inhabited by late musicians.
The town cop is Otis Redding, the mayor Elvis Presley (who else?).
Along with those immortalized in the Righteous Bros song, the couple runs into Ricky Nelson, Keith Moon, John Lennon, Freddie Mercury, Cass Elliott, Stevie Ray Vaughan – I can’t remember them all. . And the climax has the ultimate outdoor concert. Get out the lighters!! (Note: the story came out before cell phone lights were used at concerts.)
Sure, it’s got the morbid twists King is famous for (imagine Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison terrorizing the lost couple) but it’s still a great escape from reality.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Killing Yourself To Live

… Is an interesting book written by rock critic Chuck Klosterman.
It’s about Chuck’s road trip across America to visit the death sties of rock stars like Duane Allman, Kurt Cobain, members of Lynyrd Skynyrd, (in a Ford Taurus no less! ) It’s a great premise, but Klosterman has an annoying habit of getting off topic and ranting about his personal life (which no one really cares about) but when he finally makes it to these sites, it’s a good read. I read the book 3 years ago and can still picture him trudging through the frozen soybean field in Clear Lake Iowa.
“It takes maybe 15 minutes to drive out to the gravel road near the crash location, and then it's a half-mile walk through a bean field. As I walk along the fence line toward the unknown marker, I find myself considering the relationship between plane crashes and rock 'n 'roll. If you're a dead rock star and you weren't a heroin addict, odds are you died in a plane….” Klosterman writes, “At one point, I start to think I must have made a miscalculation, because I've walked a long way and I still don't see anything on the horizon except more beans. Maybe I took the wrong road. I consider turning around. But then - seconds before I surrender and go back to the car - I find the spot where three legends died in one depressing coincidence.
This memorial is small. Without question, the craziest aspect of the Holly-Valens-Bopper death memorial is that nobody could ever find it by accident; it's just a tiny metal cross in the middle of deep nothingness, decorated with Bud Light beer cans and empty cigarette lighters and somebody's Blockbuster card.”

Thanks Chuck… but If there's a rock and roll heaven,
Well you know they've got a hell of a band

Friday, February 6, 2009


“A single rose can be my garden...a single friend, my world.”
Well, here it comes, another Valentine's Day where we are inundated with ways to spend money we don't have; and to share sentiments we could probably do just as effectively with a little creativity.
Think about it - would you prefer a store bought card or something handmade? A dinner out, or a romantic evening at home with candles and with someone who cares enough to make supper and surprise you?
And then there are roses, the meaning of each colour, do guys really know what they're saying with these flowers?

Red - The lover's rose a symbol of love and passion.(Often given by guys who are too afraid to say the "L" word)
White - Represents young love and affection. So why don't more men give white roses? Maybe their aversion to PDA? Or because it also says "I am worthy of you."
Yellow - Friendship, joy and caring - my favourite rose, it says "I care". It's also so bright on these dingy winter days.
Pink - Deep pink = gratitude and appreciation while paler pink means admiration and happiness.
Orange - Enthusiasm and eagerness, you can probably picture the person that would send this colour rose. I'd like to think it means adventure and great things to come.
Peach - SUCCESS!! When someone has achieved something great - a peach rose is fitting. Remember that on graduation day.
Green - Fertility and fruitfulness - so beware if someone sends you green roses without warning.
Blue - Means mystery, the impossible or unattainable. (SPOILER ALERT) Makes sense since there a no real blue roses, they are created by dyeing white roses.
Black - It's too bad this flower has such a ominous meaning - death, sadness and farewell because it really is a beautiful flower. For the optimist a black rose can also mean the beginning of new things and a journey into unexplored territory.
Purple - Want to rock her socks off? Send a purple rose the true colour of passion, it's tied to enchantment and desire, and giving a purple rose sends the message of love at first sight.
That's it, I'm adding a purple rose to my Bucket List.
But that's another story altogether.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Since I'm asking my students to create and maintain a Blog for their social media class, I thought it was only fitting to start one myself. I do however, have the advantage of knowing I'm not getting marked on it. But being the instructor of this course, the pressure of performance more than makes up for that. The hardest part, for me, it to decide on a theme, a current idea, a relevant subject that I can focus on.

Thinking..... Nope, I've got nothing.

So, what's on my mind right now? Yesterday.

Yes, Tuesday February 3, 2009.

I asked everyone I saw yesterday what was important about that date, and only a handful of them knew (many of them probably found out by reading my Facebook status.) This bothered me.

You see Tuesday February 3, 2009 marked the 50th anniversary of the day the music died, and in all the papers I read, in Google News and most of the news feeds nothing was mentioned, with one exception. Q107 out of Toronto had the only tribute that I actually heard/saw or encountered on the day.
Except, in Iowa. Where, fifty years after Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper played their final gig at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, a six-hour tribute concert took place in the very same venue. Rock veterans included Los Lobos, Graham Nash, even Buddy Holly's surviving band members played in sub-zero temperatures reminiscent of that fateful night.

I'm sure Tommy Allsup and Waylon Jennings also paid tribute in their own way yesterday. How many just asked, who are they?? They were part of the Winter Dance Party tour in 1959 and were supposed to be on that 3 passenger plane with Buddy Holly and the 21-year old pilot.

As fate would have it, (ah a cliche) the Big Bopper (J.P. Richardson) had the flu and needed to get out of the extreme cold, Jennings was kind enough to offer him his seat. Waylon took the uncomfortable frozen bus instead, and went on to Dukes of Hazzard fame.

Valens, who was also ill, begged Allsup for his seat on the plane. They tossed a coin to see who would get it, Valens won the toss. His first, and last, plane ride.

All that happened 50 years yesterday.

For the record, I am not old enough to have experienced February 3, 1959, but I was around when Don McLean released American Pie in 1972. This song was probably that catalyst in my neverending search, and complete obsession for rock'n roll trivia. Is it true the plane was called American Pie or the fact the Don McLean dated a Miss America contestant and broke up on February 3, 1959? Does anyone know for sure?

So in my class yesterday I played American Pie for the students, they loved the song, but many didn't know the meaning. I tried to put it in their terms, but to be honest, I couldn't think of 3 big musical artists of today, all at the peak of their career, that would rock the world with such a tragedy as Buddy Holly, Big Bopper and 17 year old Ritchie Valens.
So now for fifty years we've been on our own, and I still don't know what moss grows fat on a rolling stone means, but it's good that I still believe in rock 'n roll and think music can save my moral soul.

And yes, February still makes me shiver.