Monthly Archives: May 2014

My Baby Boy

There he was. My “baby boy” disguised in a grown man’s body, just lying there in a bed much too small for his 6’3″ frame, and looking quite helpless with several tubes seemingly appearing from out of nowhere. Some were partially concealed underneath his hospital gown while the remaining tubes were resting in plain sight on top of my son’s newly acquired and fashionable attire, but they were all aimed directly at him like launched rockets with their sharp points successfully striking their intended target. My one and only child was still groggy from the anesthetic and had not yet spotted his mother and I, who were crammed into the small recovery room, nervously awaiting at the foot of his temporary bed. As a parent there is no worse feeling than seeing your child, no matter how old, in a vulnerable state. When raising a child, from the onset, it’s hard not to constantly worry about their health and overall safety. It doesn’t really matter whether your child is simply crying for a bottle as a newborn, receiving the unavoidable bumps and bruises as an active toddler, getting stitches under the chin because of a bicycle accident as a rambunctious adolescent, or taking some vicious hits out on the field during high school football games. The deep-seeded concern one has for their child does not diminish as time goes by. At least that has been my experience.

The first time my baby boy ended up in the hospital was when he was at the ripe old age of almost 3 months. We knew he was probably coming down with something, but at the time my wife and I weren’t too concerned. Besides, we hadn’t been out together as a couple for quite some time and had already made plans with another couple to attend a Halloween costume party at a local nightclub. We both felt fine leaving our son with his grandparents for the evening. As we were enjoying the autumn festivities an announcement was made, over the loud speakers, informing us that we had an urgent phone call waiting at the bar. My parents were worried about our son and insisted we come home. The fear and concern for my small child instantly ignited because if my folks, who had raised four children, were worried then surely there was something to worry about. When we arrived at my parent’s house we found our baby boy crying, and he appeared to have some difficulty breathing, so we rushed him to our town’s modest medical center. After a quick examination the Newton staff decided to send us west, about forty minutes away, to a larger hospital in Des Moines, Iowa.

My wife was dressed as a baseball player (chewing tobacco included), and I was wearing “hair metal” rock star apparel (make-up included) as we made the trek to the state’s capitol city, in the back of an ambulance, with our ailing son. We were slightly comforted in knowing one of the paramedics on board, so the trip didn’t seem as endless as one might imagine it to be in that sort of situation. The first thing the doctor on-call needed from me was written permission for him to perform a Lumbar puncture (spinal tap). I can’t remember if the spinal tap was designed specifically to assist him in finding a diagnosis or if it was just to be able to rule out some of the possibilities, but I do remember the doctor warning us of the potential, yet unlikely, complications that could occur from the procedure including paralysis. I most certainly remember the make-up streaming down my face as I reluctantly signed the consent form.

Thankfully my baby boy survived the Lumbar puncture, and it was determined he had contracted Human respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). The Virus is commonly found in newborns and begins with cold-like symptoms, but it can lead to hospitalization if not caught in time as I can attest to. Although he needed to stay an additional evening in the Intensive Care Unit I was extremely grateful my son was going to be alright, and I also realized there were worse things in life than my child having to spend his very first “trick-or-treat” night in a hospital. The evening wasn’t a total bust since many family members came to see him in his cute little outfit. My wife and I, now cleaned up and wearing normal clothes, could not take our eyes off of our precious baby boy adorn in a colorful clown costume. Posing on his hands and knees, in the I.C.U. crib, our “happy little clown” rocked back and forth as wide smiles continuously formed behind his small Binky pacifier.

My son’s next hospital stay occurred several years later, but luckily on this occasion we had time to plan for it. He was around the age of seven and had been dealing with strep throat symptoms off an on for a few years, so the doctor suggested we have his tonsils and adenoids removed. We still had some concern for our child even though we had time to prepare ourselves for the operation. I admittedly was a little excited about him losing his adenoids because he could snore with the best of them (a trait no doubt inherited from his mother’s side), and we had been informed that removing them could possibly help to alleviate his loud, incessant snoring. It did not! At least the tonsillectomy was a success, but as our son awoke from his induced slumber he sat up faster than anything I had ever seen before, and the look on his face was of pure terror. I had to help the nurse restrain him, and I tried my best to comfort him, but even the traditional promise of, “all the ice cream you can eat,” could not ease the pain he was feeling.

As a parent your child’s past experiences with sickness, pain, and even hospital visits can seem somewhat trivial when their present health issue is staring you in the face. My now adult son wasn’t simply in the hospital due to a virus, or in for a routine tonsillectomy, but he was recovering from heart ablation surgery to correct his abnormal heartbeat (Atrial fibrillation) condition. The procedure involved placing those aforementioned numerous flexible tubes into several of his blood vessels and moving them towards, what my wife and I know to be, his sensitive and generous heart. The abnormal tissue presumed to be the culprit is then destroyed by zapping the areas with electrical heat. The doctor explained how the 3.5 hour ordeal was pretty much what he had expected it to be, and he was very encouraged by what he was able to accomplish during the procedure, but we won’t know for sure if the surgery was completely successful for a couple of months. This time it wasn’t Halloween, and there was no clown costume, but after my grown son finally realized we were there and flashed us a big smile, no longer partially hidden behind a Binky, my concern and then my sense of relief was no less than it was so many years ago when he was my baby boy.

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Update

Hello! I can’t believe you’re still reading this rubbish, but since you are I would like to offer you a heartfelt thanks. Please feel free in replying to any of my blogs (old or new) and letting me know whether you agree or disagree with the truth as I know it. I would also be willing to hear any suggestions you may have for a specific topic you’d like me to cover in a future post. I have thoroughly enjoyed blogging these past three months, even more so than I had envisioned, and I thought now would be a good time to update my readers of any new information regarding prior blogs. Let’s ease into this, before tackling the more complex issues, by freely admitting I still haven’t ridden my bicycle nor do I plan to anytime soon. I am still not at all fond of cheap beer, snakes, or death, but not necessarily in that order.

Likewise, I am still not a fan of Pit bull-type dogs. However, I am willing to concede there have been some cases where Pit bulls have made excellent family pets and lived their entire lives without ever attacking a soul. I am aware once in awhile a breed of dog, other than that of the Pit bull variety, will attack a human being for no apparent reason, but I also know since writing about them in March there have been at least two more Pit bull attacks in Arizona’s Valley alone. The fact is the majority of dog attacks in the United States can be traced back to the Pit bull-type canine more often than any other breed. I did recently learn they do not have the mythical “locking jaw” that so many people perceive them to have, but they do possess a wide mouth, strong jaw, and an uncanny stubborn tendency for not easily letting go of its prey. I have yet to hear of an owner with that type of dog say they expected their family pet to viciously maul their child one day. Common sense dictates Pit bull attacks in the past predicts the probability of Pit bull attacks in the future, so I don’t understand why anyone, especially with small children, would ever take the risk.

The St. Louis Rams of the National Football League, however, did take a risk by drafting Michael Sam. The first openly gay NFL Prospect was chosen in the 7th and final round as the 249th overall pick. Mr. Sam was only eight picks away from not being drafted at all, and I imagine that would have caused even greater speculation as to how much his sexuality figured into this year’s NFL Draft mix. There is no possible way to know for sure if Michael Sam was snubbed, chosen out of pity, or drafted exactly where he should have been. We only have the infinite number of opinions given by sportscasters, columnists, so-called experts, blowhards, those with a personal agenda, and myself who simply tells the truth as I know it.

I would offer that Michael Sam’s initial entrance into the League with the St. Louis Rams does give him the best opportunity for success, at the professional level, because he purportedly already has Missouri’s fan support. The young man was supposedly embraced by the “Show Me State” while playing college football for the Missouri Tigers. Only time will tell how successful Mr. Sam may be in the NFL, but the media shamefully seems much more fixated on the video footage, of him kissing his boyfriend after receiving the anticipated news of being drafted, than anything else. Maybe I was stopping on the wrong networks, when flipping through the channels recently, but the consensus appears to be that most talk show hosts on television thought Sam’s on-air affection was a beautiful thing, and anyone who didn’t agree with that sentiment must be a homophobic. Let me assure you I am neither afraid of nor hateful towards homosexuals, but as a male heterosexual I will continue to be at least a little disturbed every time I see two males engaged in a passionate kiss.

Donald Sterling, a person nobody probably wants to kiss at the moment, is hardly worth mentioning again, but I will. The L.A. Clippers’ Owner, of the National Basketball Association, hasn’t lost his ownership yet, but his chances are increasingly not looking very promising. He made headline news once again by making insensitive remarks, during an interview with Anderson Cooper, about Magic Johnson’s human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) which the NBA Star contracted over two decades ago. This time Mr. Sterling knew he was being recorded while making public and deliberate comments. Sterling’s granted interview was surely intended as an attempt at public relations damage control, but the embattled Clippers’ Owner’s ensuing rant most likely made matters much worse for him. I still don’t think anyone should ever be fired for their private thoughts, but maybe a “three strikes” rule for a person’s conduct wouldn’t be such a bad idea. An individual who is deemed as detrimental to any league, organization, or business, on at least three separate occasions, could then be justifiably terminated due to their actions. I think if a policy like that would have already been in place then Donald Sterling would’ve lost his NBA ownership position long ago when considering his past behavior.

In contrast, the behavior of Arizona’s Governor, Jan Brewer, has been surprisingly refreshing as she eventually vetoed Senate Bill 1062. The bill would have allowed for refusing business or service to anyone based on “religious freedom.” I continue to believe a law like that would only encourage discrimination and would be too chaotic to enforce. Governor Brewer also rightfully vetoed some bills in our state’s Legislature that would have increased gun-ownership rights in the Valley Of The Sun. She once again was willing to go against her own political party’s wishes and in doing so probably unseats Senator John McCain as the “Maverick” of the Grand Canyon State. My national campaign for placing all shopping carts into one of the many store provided cart corrals after their use appears to have fallen on deaf ears, or quite possibly my three readers just weren’t enough to make a difference. Maybe one day every shopping cart will have a proper home, and hopefully someday I will finally acquire a fourth reader, but until then I can only dream.


Extra Extra

Imagine how thrilled I was when my newly acquired agent contacted me for some extra work within the first week of becoming her client. My first job as an extra was filmed at a rest stop conveniently located approximately twenty miles from my home. I was to play the part of “the trucker,” so I had been instructed to show up to the shoot wearing jeans, a solid colored t-shirt, and any baseball-style cap as long as there were no recognizable logos or symbols on it. The scene featured three real actors, they all had speaking roles, gathered at a picnic table on the grounds of the rest stop area. I was so nervous and clueless as to what the shoot was even about since I was overly consumed with concentrating on my very important role as “the trucker.” My difficult task as an extra began with me hidden away, behind the nearby restrooms, and then after hearing the director’s traditional (and admittedly exciting) command of, “action,” I was to intently watch for another extra to reach point b from point a. That was my cue to then walk around from behind the building and follow a cement path meandering past the picnic table.

The exhilaration of the brand new experience and my premature satisfaction of a self-congratulatory, “well done,” rapidly waned when I realized I had not been instructed what to do after taking my leisurely walk. My once seemingly simple performance as “the trucker” now seemed more like trying to perform brain surgery as my mind became all jumbled up while attempting to quickly devise a plan for my next course of action. I think I made the only rational decision I could make with the limited amount of information I had previously received from the director. I kept walking. I walked towards the parking lot. I walked through the parking lot, and I continued on past the parking lot. I was in a daze, and my mind was racing as I grew uncomfortably close to the interstate. I was extremely relieved when I finally heard several distant voices hollering, “stop!” Almost every job I encountered as an extra would teach me something new and pertinent to the business. This time it was solid attire is preferred over prints, since clothes with any sort of pattern tends to look distorted on film, and also there are too many legal issues to deal with if wearing trademarked apparel, but most importantly I learned to just stop when out of the camera’s view, or it could be fatal.

Another memorable assignment I received while working in the entertainment industry was when I played the part of “a family man” for Winnebago Industries, a manufacturer of recreational vehicles, in a promotional video. I had a “wife” and a “daughter” this time, and we were the main characters of the shoot although we were still only considered to be extras since there wasn’t any audible dialogue spoken in the scene. I was perfectly content simply acting as “eye candy” for the video. In fact that was always my preference because I never had the desire, or probably even the mental capacity, for memorizing lines, and I also did not like the way my voice sounded on tape (still don’t). It’s not nearly as masculine sounding as I usually envision it to be. The summertime shoot’s location was near the company’s headquarters in Forest City, Iowa, and my “family” and I were instructed to transfer water skis and other assorted gear from an immaculate Winnebago (the real star of the show) to a nearby speedboat.

We were situated next to a beautiful lake, and at a certain point while filming we were suppose to wave at a couple of jet skiers racing by. All was going well until the director asked me to remove my shirt. I ordinarily would have been pretty self-conscious about going shirtless in public, but remember this was at a great time in my life when I nearly had washboard abs, so I wasn’t too nervous about yanking off my shirt for the good of the project. Before the fabric was even completely torn away from my body the director insisted I put my shirt back on. Ouch! I didn’t have a third nipple, or anything like that, so the tattoos inked on my upper arms and chest must’ve been the problem. At least I hope so. I may have left at the end of the day with less self-esteem than when the day began, but I also left with a lot more money in my pocket.

The best paying job I’ve had in my entire life was during my career as an extra. I guess technically I was a full-fledged actor that day since I did have a one-liner to recite. I merely sat in a comfortable chair, stared directly into a camera, and proclaimed, “Social Security will protect me.” I may have believed what I was saying at the time, but now over a decade later I am not so sure that holds true anymore. I repeated the line over and over in varied ways by emphasizing a different word during each take. After a short 15 minutes I had earned $150. for my time. That equates to $600. an hour if my math is correct, and I’m sure it is since it’s not an algebra problem for goodness’ sake!

Another high paying shoot I was fortunate to be a part of, and possibly my claim to fame, was as an extra in an Anderson-Erickson commercial filmed at a popular convenience store. Anderson-Erickson is an established dairy company located in Iowa, so the commercial aired on television throughout the entire Midwest. The star of the shoot was the “A.E. Guy” played by supposedly a well-known soap opera actor, but don’t ask me which one because I can’t remember, and at the time I really didn’t care since he wasn’t on The Young And The Restless. The noteworthy dairy product character of the Midwest would be similar to that of Arizona’s “George Brazil Guy” or the “Express Flooring Gal,” but as an extra I could only be seen in the background carefully inspecting all of the store’s merchandise.

I enjoyed my unique experience as an extra, but over time I gained weight and lost interest which isn’t a very good combination for those working in the entertainment industry. I did not become a major star, local celebrity, or even that recognizable through my body of work, but I had never intended for that to happen anyway. However, I was a bit worried once when my wife and I were walking hand in hand at the Iowa State Fair, a few weeks after shooting the Winnebago promotional video, when we heard a person behind us whispering to another, “There’s the Winnebago Guy.” At that brief moment I found myself wondering what the cost of dark sunglasses would be if purchased in bulk, but thankfully still to this day I have not had any problems avoiding the paparazzi.


Extra

I’ve had several different jobs in many different fields throughout the years, but none of them were quite as fascinating as when I worked as an extra. An extra, for those of you now scratching your heads, is show business lingo for people who appear as part of the background in training videos, commercials, television, and movies. You might be wondering why I got involved in the entertainment industry to begin with because it’s not as though I had ever volunteered to participate in any school plays, during my youth, or had ever yearned to be involved with the local community theater as I grew older. I certainly did not have any dreams of becoming an actor or a movie star, and I did not have a passion, or even a healthy respect, for the craft itself as so many of those working in the performing arts industry have. The truth is I am generally not even that much of a people person, and I definitely don’t fancy the thought of having everyone’s attention solely focused on me. The thought of a birthday party thrown in my honor makes me cringe every time since it’s one of the most uncomfortable settings I am often forced to endure. Unfortunately, my “special day” seems to come around about once a year like clockwork.

I had absolutely no desire for being the main attraction, but the thought of earning some easy money by blending in with the background intrigued me; therefore, working as an extra seemed like the proper solution. After contemplating the idea for awhile I finally made the decision to enter the unusual field especially after noticing so many of my peers were either fat, bald, or both. I was at a place in my life (age thirty-something) where I had attained almost a set of six-pack abs, and I didn’t want them to go to waste. I had never been that fit before, and I knew it wouldn’t last forever because I absolutely enjoy eating way too much (both figuratively and literally). I’m very well-known in my family for unbuttoning my pants, after visiting an all-you-can-eat buffet, and having to lay down in the back of either a van or a station wagon to get some relief. I also thought I was pretty decent looking, at least by Iowa standards, so I found myself asking the question, “why not me?” I could not come up with a legitimate reason for not pursuing a job as an extra, so I began searching out a path to make it happen.

I soon found the entertainment industry to be flooded with talent agencies offering substantial promises, aimed at the gullible, for becoming a star. Most of the agencies demanded money upfront and insisted their clients use only their photographers, for the industry’s mandatory headshots, before they were willing to promote you. I wasn’t born yesterday (I was born on February 24th – presumably the best day of my parents’ lives), so I wasn’t about to pay a fee to an agency beforehand when I was the one wishing to earn a paycheck. I eventually found an agent in Des Moines, the state’s capitol, who said she definitely could use someone my age and with my looks. Deb made no hollow promises like the few other potential agents I had spoken with, and she allowed me to choose my own photographer for the required headshots as well. My agent’s terms were quite simple. She would negotiate a deal on my behalf, seek my approval, and then fax me the precise details of the job including the location of where the shoot was to be held. Deb was entitled to a 15% commission of whatever I made in the industry.

The photo shoot for acquiring the mandatory headshots was a unique experience in itself. I chose one of our small town photographers who had several years of experience snapping pictures of graduating high school seniors. I had also obtained a community theater make-up artist, as was suggested by Deb, to touch up any blemishes and to punctuate my eyes for the shoot. I wasn’t too comfortable with that situation because I hadn’t worn make-up since my sisters use to have fun with me while the folks were away, and besides I thought I was a natural beauty. I wanted to give my agent a variance of my looks, so the photographer was gracious enough to capture me wearing a full-beard, during the first round of pictures, and then he featured me with a clean-shaven, baby face in the second round. My agent ultimately selected one of the baby-faced photos for my promotional headshot. Deb then requested that I use my legal name in the entertainment industry because it would sound more professional. That was perfectly fine with me considering I had been encouraging people to call me James instead of Jimmy for several years. I have always felt a bit awkward, as a grown man, being called what I perceive as a child’s name, but it obviously worked out well for Jimmy Stewart. The stage was now set for me to begin my career as an extra. To Be Continued.


I Yam What I Yam

I do not pretend to be someone I am not, and I make no excuses or apologies for who I am. I even have a t-shirt with the caption, “I Yam What I Yam,” on it to prove my sentiment. The old shirt depicts the loveable Popeye character looking all “gangsta” by wearing a bandana, gold chain, and his trademark anchor tattoos inked on his gigantic forearms. I wouldn’t mind being loved and adored by everyone, but I don’t yearn for that. For many years now my motto has been, “there is no one better than me, and I am better than no one,” and I absolutely mean it. This concept may seem foreign to many since most people, especially in America, tend to place a great emphasis on one’s acquired wealth and social status. Surprisingly, my wife of many, many years didn’t think I whole-heartedly believed my creed until very recently. It’s perfectly alright just being who you are, instead of trying to portray yourself as someone you are not, unless of course you are a complete jerk then I would strongly recommend you not remaining who you are but aspiring to become a better version of yourself.

I know there’s an immense number of people out there who have more money than I do, some who are smarter and stronger than I am, and there may even be someone out there who’s better looking, but that certainly doesn’t mean they’re superior to me. In the same manner, those who apparently have much less than I have are in no way inferior to me. Even as far back as when I was in my early twenties (a long, long time ago) I didn’t buy into the whole notion of social status as so many others do. This was evident when one morning after church my family and I were having breakfast at a local restaurant, and we noticed a nearby significant ruckus going on. Just about the entire staff was scurrying around in the dining room as they prepared an immaculate spot for a particular customer and his family. The whispers could be heard, and the finger pointing could be seen as Daniel J. Krumm, Chairman and C.E.O. of the Maytag Corporation, entered the room. He had as much prestige at that time as anyone possibly could of had in our small town of approximately 15,000 citizens. I understood the importance of having a major manufacturer like Maytag in little old Newton, Iowa, but I didn’t understand why Mr. Krumm deserved better service than someone like myself who was earning a living as a maintenance man at McDonald’s.

Many years later I still believe we all deserve to be treated as equals. I am now at a point in my life where I’m much more sensitive to the hurting and less fortunate people around me, and I attempt to smile and make eye contact with them so they know I’m on their side. Once I was almost beginning to tire from patting myself on the back so often for not snubbing those less fortunate, but then sadly I became aware of my judgmental attitude towards a couple who frequented the same Starbucks where I spend many of my early morning hours. The gentleman is always dressed in business attire during the week, but even his weekend garb is more expensive than any clothing that I own. The lady, presumably his wife, is always wearing cute workout gear of some sort. Nary a hair on her head is ever out of place nor in any instance is her face not perfectly painted on. It appears as if her only job is to remain attractive for her mate. I can’t recall if their vehicles are two Mercedes’, two Lexus’, or one of each.

There is nothing wrong with the previously mentioned situation, yet I do find it difficult not to judge when I factor in the rest of what I have witnessed about the couple. I’ve actually heard the pair snickering, in their little corner of the coffee shop, and making snide remarks about all those coming through the store’s entrance who seemingly are not as well off as them. It is unmistakably clear the Starbucks’ duo consider themselves to be the pinnacle of success, and they apparently believe most others pale in comparison to them. It is for that reason I generally find it’s much easier to refrain from feelings of superiority toward those who obviously have less than to those who have more and visibly relish in that fact. Wouldn’t it be nice if those who felt superior would seek some humility and those who felt inferior would find some confidence? Then maybe one day we could all feel equal to one another as was intended by the U.S. Constitution and by God. Oh, by the way, I’ve caught the Starbuck’s couple gabbing away while staring at me a time or two, so I can only imagine what they’re saying about yours truly as I’m sitting there with my hoop earrings and cheap skater shoes. I would not be a bit surprised if they were criticizing my, “I Yam What I Yam,” t-shirt, but as you know by now I really don’t care.


Hall Of Fame

While recently perusing The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame website I found their criteria for bestowing the prestigious honor. To be considered for induction into the Hall of Fame, established in 1983, the artist under consideration must have released their first recording at least 25 years prior to their nomination. There are typically five to seven artists chosen annually from the ballots of 600 people comprised of other artists, historians, and members of the music industry. The listed essential qualifications for induction into The Hall are musical excellence, and the influence and significance of the artists’ contributions. That sort of standard for admittance seems somewhat confusing because the quality and importance of any given artist is mostly subjective. Determining who is worthy of such an honor is about as easy as trying to solve a Rubik’s cube, unless of course you’re one of those puzzle freaks, and probably explains why I couldn’t find any consistent correlation between those who have been inducted and those who have not.

I am not attempting to challenge the merits of previous inductees, but I would like to know why similar artists aren’t included, and I would also like to explore what I find to be some noteworthy omissions from The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Jackson Browne and Cat Stevens are winners of the award but many others who have sold more records, according to the Recording Industry Association of America, and who appear more deserving of the honor continue to remain on the sidelines. I thought I had possibly solved the mystery of the real reason for their induction after discovering both Mr. Browne and Mr. Stevens were not only singer-songwriters but were humanitarians as well. However, upon further investigation I ascertained John Denver likewise was regarded as a humanitarian, and he had comparable record sales, yet he has continued to be overlooked. Another inductee with similar talents, James Taylor, has acquired only one #1 song and zero #1 albums throughout his lengthy career compared to Mr. Denver’s four #1 songs and three #1 albums obtained during his tragically shortened career. Those two artists are tied on the R.I.A.A. list, so I don’t understand how John Denver can be excluded.

I also cannot comprehend how some bands like the Pretenders, Talking Heads, and Steely Dan made the cut while so many other groups with equal or better record sales have not. The Eighties’ band, Loverboy, and the Spice Girls have very similar figures (obviously, only in a financial sense) to that of Steely Dan’s, but I would be extremely leery of adding either Loverboy or the Spice Girls to the elite club; therefore, maybe Steely Dan should lose their Hall of Fame status. I guess I did decide to challenge the validity of some inductees after all, didn’t I? I could present a strong case for the inclusion of Foreigner, Chicago, Journey, Motley Crue, and Bon-Jovi over current Hall of Famers such as Genesis, Heart, The Police, and even The Who when taking into consideration the amount of sales and the number of chart-topping hits. During my extensive research, as much as my laziness would allow, I was surprised to learn Cheap Trick was not nearly as successful as I had assumed. I found out they weren’t all that revered in the United States, but they were referred to as the “American Beatles” by the Japanese press.

Speaking of the Beatles, I learned something very interesting about them in my Rock and Roll History class during my one year of community college. Brian Epstein, who coincidentally was one of the 2014 Hall of Fame inductees, was managing the Beatles in January of 1963 when he had a brilliant idea for the not yet thriving band from Liverpool. Up to that point the Beatles had only achieved moderate success with the release of their first single, “Love Me Do,” so Mr. Epstein purchased all 10,000 copies of their next recording, “Please Please Me,” which during that time was the magic number to force a #1 ranking on the London charts. The “manufactured hit” then created a major buzz in the U.S., and led to the beginning of Beatle mania which continued throughout America for many years thereafter.

I can appreciate the Beatles and their influence on Rock and Roll, and I can even respect the genius of Brian Epstein, but the band was slightly before my time, and I must admit I only care for a handful of their songs. I also confess, at the risk of being slammed by music lovers everywhere, that I do not have even one Beatles’ cd in my entire collection of approximately 1,100 compact discs. Beatles’ fans shouldn’t fret too much though since my extensive music collection is also void of other Hall of Famers including The Who, The Doors, Pink Floyd, and Nirvana. I am painfully aware of Nirvana’s contribution to the history of Rock and Roll, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. In fact, I actually despise the band because of it. Those flannel wearing, grungy guys were almost single-handedly responsible for killing the Glam Metal craze, or as I typically refer to it as the greatest music of all-time.

We all have our favorite artists, and preferred style of music, but trying to sort it all out for the purpose of determining who qualifies for induction into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is an impossible task. I don’t have a better alternative to the current nomination process, but it does seem like something needs to change. KISS guitarist and vocalist, Paul Stanley, mentioned in his recent Hall of Fame acceptance speech he would like for the fans to have a more significant role in the election process than the “old guys” on the committee who don’t even buy music anymore. In addition, he believes his band would have been inducted many years sooner if that had been the case. I don’t disagree with the rock star’s logic of allowing the fans to have a stronger voice in the matter, but my greatest fear would then be knowing what might happen twenty-some years from now with the vast number of “Beliebers” running rampant out there. Enough said.


Donald Sterling

I suppose since I am the Truth and Common Sense blogger I should weigh in on the whole Donald Sterling mess, but I tend to sometimes appear racist myself when discussing such matters. Not because I am, but because I have never felt the personal responsibility of trying to atone for any possible racist acts that may or may not have been conducted by my ancestors. I realize that is not the politically correct thing to say, but it is certainly the truth as I know it. Donald Sterling is the National Basketball Association’s Owner of the Los Angeles Clippers who most people now no longer want to be associated with. For those of you who’ve been living under a rock, or who simply have had the great pleasure of avoiding all of the non-stop media coverage, the Clippers’ Owner has been labeled a Racist. The unwanted title came after an audio recording (from 2013) was recently released. The so-called private conversation between Mr. Sterling and his then girlfriend, V. Stiviano, depicts him making racist comments to her.

Due to Mr. Sterling’s remarks he has been banned from the League for life, fined 2.5 million dollars, and most likely will be forced out of his ownership when the remaining team owners vote on his future. NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver, said he talked with several players before deciding Sterling’s fate, so I was not at all surprised with the sentence handed down since the League is predominantly Black, and the Owner is White. Commissioner Silver really had no choice but to severely punish Sterling with the looming threats, of a boycott and the possible cancellation of this year’s playoffs, coming from the majority of NBA players. It does not take a genius to understand the motivation behind most business decisions is money, and the NBA simply could not afford a shutdown, or rather their greed prevented it from happening.

Outspoken Dallas Mavericks’ Owner, Mark Cuban, conveyed his disgust towards Mr. Sterling, and at this point he feels the League would be better off without him, but he does not think the NBA can legally force him to give up his ownership nor should the League try to because of something Sterling said in private. I think Mr. Cuban was absolutely correct when saying, “I think you’ve got to be very, very careful when you start making blanket statements about what people say and think, as opposed to what they do. It’s a very, very slippery slope.” When Donald Sterling inevitably is cast out of the League for good can we then assume there is no longer a racist bone left in the bodies of the remaining 29 team owners? I would guess not. Therefore, if and when another NBA Owner eventually gets caught saying something racist, whether publically or in private, then the exact penalty Mr. Sterling received will have to be enacted against all others since a precedent has now been set.

I’m not much of a gambler (see “Last Vegas” blog), but I do think it’s a safe bet to assume Mr. Sterling is no longer a fan of V. Stiviano – the woman whose voice can be heard on the infamous audio recording. I don’t know if she’s directly responsible for releasing the taped conversation, but I am suspicious as to why the 2013 recording even exists. I am also leery of the authenticity of the couple’s past relationship given the significant age difference, and I do mean grossly different. I suppose Miss Stiviano was a fan of Mr. Sterling’s money, and now she probably doesn’t mind her fifteen minutes of fame. My guess is she’ll take full advantage of the situation and after giving numerous interviews will find herself on some reality show or gracing the pages of Playboy. Regardless, the soon-to-be former Owner of the L.A. Clippers can only blame himself for his bigoted thoughts and remarks.

I for one am not a fan of the NBA, so I really don’t care how the League chooses to run its business, and I also don’t care one way or the other about their continued existence. However, I do believe we are all created equal, and I cannot begin to fathom ever disliking anyone solely based on the color of their skin. I think this country is as close to a racist-free nation as it can ever be. Most of the racism that still exists today, and sadly will continue, is because of those families who knowingly pass down their hatred of others to future generations; therefore, never completely ridding it from our society. There are not only people like Donald Sterling who fuel the racist fire, but there are some people in the minority races who are guilty of fanning the flames as well by not teaching their children and grandchildren to forgive and forget past transgressions committed against them. Believe it or not there are some Blacks who simply dislike Whites because of their skin color. Common sense tells me we should love one another regardless of race, or at the very least keep all ignorant attitudes to ourselves, but when have we ever been or will ever be a nation of common sense.