Thursday, June 3, 2010

Thank You For Being A Friend

In The News
June 3, 2010

And the hits just keep on coming.....

I just read that Rue McClanahan passed away this morning following a massive stroke. Best known for her role as Blanche in The Golden Girls, McClanahan first burst on the scene as Vivian Harmon on the classic All In The Family spin-off (and Bea Arthur vehicle) Maude.

McClanahan's death leaves us with just one remaining Golden Girl, the incomparable Betty White. Arthur died in April 2009, while Estelle Getty died in 2008.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

We're Having A Party

Circle This Date
May 29 - June 4

Time to toss confetti and blow those blowie things (horns? hooters? who knows?) for these guys, celebrating another 52 weeks on the planet...

May 29 - Danny Elfman, who scored everything from Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1977) to Alice In Wonderland (2010) and leader of Oingo Boingo, born in 1953.
May 30 - Ted McGinley, TV utility player, who showed up in such beloved series as Happy Days, Married With Children and The Love Boat, born in 1958.
May 31 - Joe Namath, the arm of the New York Jets and best looking man in pantyhose, born in 1943.
June 1 - Ron Wood, of Rolling Stones and Birds fame, born in 1947.
June 2 - Jerry Mathers, now and forever known as the Beaver, born in 1948. (Yes, folks, Theodore Cleaver is 62.)
June 3 - Suzi Quatro, who shot to flame as Leather Tuscadaro on Happy Days, born in 1950. (Maybe she and Ted McGinley can celebrate together?)
June 4 - Parker Stevenson, the Hardy Boy who famously gave Kirstie Alley the big one, born in 1952.

Enjoy, y'all. After all, consider the alternative....

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Were You At The Wedding?

This Day In Boomer History
May 26, 1962 

Does a picture say a thousand words? Well, Bread certainly thought so. But this pic just says two words....and to a generation brought up on GH, that's enough.

I give you....Luke and Laura.

Forget the fact that he was much older. Forget she was married to the young lawyer Scotty Baldwin. Forget that Luke was, at one point, Laura's rapist. Somehow, we forgot all that....and fell in love with this couple in the late 70's-early 80's.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I Wanna Hold Your Hand

This Day In Boomer History
May 25, 1986

"I can not stop thinking again and again
How the heart of a stranger
Beats like a friend."
----HANDS ACROSS AMERICA by Voices of America

Growing up, I attended a variety of protests, peace marches, sit ins and activist events. For the most part, I left these moved by the speeches I heard, uplifted by the people I was with, and generally feeling that, yes, we can make a difference.

Some, though, just left me with the question - "Now what was the point of this, exactly?" Looking back, I guess that's how I feel about the "Hands Across America" campaign, culminating in the coast-to-coast event that happened 24 years ago today.

According to reports, approximately seven million people participated, creating a human chain that ran over 4000 miles, from New York's Battery Park to Long Beach, CA. Money raised from the event was designated for the homeless and hungry. Supposedly, people were supposed to pay $10 to reserve their spot in the chain (though I don't recall that happening actually; they just passed a bucket around and you threw in a donation).

And yes, I was there. I took my daughter (then 11 months old) and my mother, and we all headed to Cooper River Park in Camden to hold hands with total strangers. At the time, it seemed important - a legacy passed on from my activist parents to my child, through me. (Remember how deep everything used to seem, before we became so cynical about it all?)

I guess I wasn't the only one who thought it was important. It was reported that numerous celebrities were in the chain - Tony Danza and Dionne Warwick in Trenton, Chewbacca the Wookie in Cincinnati, 50 Lincoln impersonators in Springfield and Kathleen Turner under the St. Louis Arch, just to name a few. Nobody really important came to Cooper River, though. (Maybe that's why they didn't charge us the full ten dollars.)

The event was one of several held under the "USA For Africa" banner, though apparently the $20 million raised by this particular campaign stayed stateside. Though it sounds almost fairy-tale idyllic, Hands Across America was not without its own protesters. Notably, Senators Edward Kennedy and Edward Markey filed an official protest that the New England states were not part of the chain. Tom Selleck, with others, spearheaded a "Hawaiians Are Americans, Too!" initiative. No one spoke out for Alaskans, interestingly enough.

So what was accomplished? For a short while, we felt united. For a brief moment, we felt we still had the power to change things. For just a second, perhaps, we believed that people holding on to each other really was the answer.

Maybe not a lot, bottom line. But plenty, looking back.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Times, They Were A-Changing

This Day In Boomer History
May 24, 1941

I really don't remember when I became aware of Bob Dylan. I think the music came first, which I suppose is appropriate. "Blowing in the Wind" became a staple in my father's guitar performances, one of the many songs I heard wafting from my family room as I fell asleep each night. But in my head, "Blowing in the Wind" was a Peter, Paul and Mary song, harmonious, wistful and full of hope, one embraced by the growing anti-war movement and even sung in Catholic Churches (remember folk masses?).

I didn't know then that the words and music, the sentiment, the anger and the hope all flowed from the pen of a 20 year old curly-haired Jewish musician from Minnesota who entered this world with the name Robert Allen Zimmerman. (He began introducing himself as Bob Dylan in 1960, once explaining, "You call yourself what you want to call yourself. This is the land of the free.")

Soon, though, Dylan was everywhere. Exploding from the Greenwich Village scene with the strong support of John Hammond and Johnny Cash, Dylan was a force to be reckoned with. He didn't look the part of the streetside prophet - all harmonica and curly hair and a voice that would never get him through to the Hollywood round. His singing wasn't edgy, it was rough - and sometimes what he was singing wasn't all that easy to listen to. But his music, his words, told the story, not only reporting on what was happening but also predicting what was to come.

I've seen Dylan several times through the years, but those performances were in the 80's or beyond. Dylan was iconic, but no longer really relevant. The first time I saw him, on a double date with my sister and some beaus at the Philadelphia Spectrum, I remember being disappointed that he played so few of the songs that made him matter, not only to me but to an entire generation. He had moved on; we were looking back, he was charging forward.

I remember being 11 or 12 and talking to my dad about the depth that was Dylan. My father asked me to interpret one of the most famous Dylan lines, "It don't take a weatherman to know which way the wind blows." I went into some lengthy explanation of how you don't need others to tell you what's happening; you can feel the wind of change yourself, and realize the direction in which it's heading.

My dad looked at me, nodded, and said, "Well, maybe. But maybe it just means you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows."

That pretty much sums up Bob Dylan for me. Iconic, prophetic, born-again and back around....Dylan remains the enigma that somehow ended up speaking for us all over the shots and tears of Vietnam. His voice may not have been much, but was there ever a better voice for a generation?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

What, Me Cheat?

Stuff Boomers Love

The thing about teachers is this - they always expected us to read the book. Seriously. I mean, who can bother reading all 487 pages of Anna Karenina when the Broad Street Bullies were in the Stanley Cup finals, The Who is blasting from the eight-track and you absolutely need to go shopping for a new pair of Landlubbers? Teachers really need to appreciate you have a life.

Well, teachers may not, but someone did - and that someone was Cliff Hillegass. Cliff knew that teenagers didn't have enough time in the day, so he helpfully started publishing those little yellow and black lifesavers known as Cliff Notes way back in 1958. Marketed as "Study Guides," Cliff Notes did the reading for us, summarizing the plotlines of thousands of literary pieces (from Bleak House to The Bell Jar, the works of Shakespeare to Emerson's essays), identified themes, subplots and protaganists, and interpreted the deeper meaning that too often went over our heads as we tried to read while watching TV.

I guess the current day equivilent would be the kids who rent videos, hoping that the screenwriter stayed true to the book. (Good luck with that!) As an English major, I guess I should come down hard on the use of study guides, and point out that you lose the experience of the book itself by relying solely on these shriveled down versions.

And I do go on record as believing that. But in all fairness, I must admit that I have one or two skeletons of the yellow and black variety in my own closet.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Happy Happy Birthday Baby

Circle This Date
May 22 - May 28 

Time stands still for no man (don't we know it?). So light the candles, make a wish, and celebrate the birthdays of these boomers this week:

May 22 - Bernie Taupin, British lyricist and the words to Elton John's music, born in 1950
May 23 -  Drew Carey, talk show host/actor who put Cleveland on the map, born in 1961
May 24 - Rosanne Cash, daughter of the Man in Black and "Seven Year Itch" songstress, born in 1955
May 25 - Karen Valentine, actress and star of Room 222 and numerous Love Boat episodes, born in 1947
May 26 - Stevie Nicks, singer/songwriter and the face of Fleetwood Mac, born in 1948
May 27 - Lisa Niemi, actress/dancer and wife of the late Patrick Swayze, born in 1956
May 28 - Brandon Cruz, "Eddie" of The Courtship of Eddie's Father, born in 1962